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Richard III

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In this thirteenth lecture in the Approaching Shakespeare series the focus is on the inevitability of the ending of Richard III: does the play endorse Richmond's final victory?

Smith asks whether or not we really want Richmond, killer of the tyrannical Richard and founder of the Tudor dynasty, to win at the end of Shakespeare's Richard III. The play represents an attempt to glamourise what was in fact Henry VII's rather violent rise to power. And while the play was tremendously popular, that was in no small part because it satisfied the public's contemporary appetite for plays about regime change. Smith says that the sudden popularity of history plays in the 16th century suggests that people were turning to the nostalgia of the past due to anxiety and uncertainty about their present and future.