THE TRUE TRAGEDY OF
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
ARCHBISHOP of YORK
The Archbishop of York, a Cardinal, appears to the Queen while she is seeking sanctuary from Gloucester, the Lord Protector. The Cardinal presents her with a letter demanding that Richard, Duke of York be delivered into Gloucester's custody so that he might attend his brother at the coronation. When the Queen Mother objects, the Cardinal assumes responsibility for the boy's safety. He tells her that York will sleep safely in the Tower of London.
Banister is Buckingham's servant. He is sent by Richard to arrest Buckingham after Richard murders the princes. Buckingham rebukes Banister for the betrayal and stabs him to death.
Captain Blunt is in charge of security at Hames Castle. With Blunt's help, the Earl of Oxford escapes from Hames and flees to assist Richmond in battle against Richard. Blunt himself fights with Richmond at Bosworth Field. Blunt is placed in charge of the archers at the battle.
BROKENBURY, SIR ROBERT
Sir Robert Brokenbury is in charge of security at the Tower of London. After the princes are sent there by the Lord Protector, Brokenbury refuses multiple directives by Richard to kill the boys. When James Terrell appears at the Tower and demands the keys to the boys' cell, Brokenbury protests briefly but hands the keys over to Terrell. Brokenbury is killed at Bosworth Field.
The Duke of Buckingham sends his messenger Percival to Richard Gloucester to inform the Lord Protector that any past bad blood between the men is forgotten. Buckingham instructs Percival to inform Richard by word of mouth that Buckingham has assembled a company of men in support of Richard. Buckingham also reports that Lord Hastings will join the power play. The Duke accompanies Gloucester in the ambush of Earl Rivers at an inn. Buckingham is also at Richard's side for the arrests of Gray, Hapce and Vaughan. The page reports that Buckingham works behind the scenes to find support for Richard's claim to the throne. After Richard is crowned, he hires Buckingham's servant to betray his master. Buckingham stabs his servant Banister to death. A herald then appears with orders to arrest Buckingham. Buckingham followers attempt to rescue him, but he accepts his fate willingly. He states that he has already readied the way for Richmond to return to England from Brittany. Buckingham wishes Richmond success against Richard and expresses the hope that Richmond will marry the princess Elizabeth. Catesby reports that Buckingham has been executed at Salisbury Castle.
Arnoll Butler travels to Bosworth Field to join Richmond against Richard III. Although Butler had betrayed Richmond in the past, Henry, unlike Richard, shows the capacity to forgive.
CATESBY, SIR WILLIAM
Sir William Catesby is with Richard III when he first comes on stage as the newly named Lord Protector. Catesby's enthusiastic congratulations to Gloucester on the occasion of his promotion spur Richard into a scathing soliloquy against his family and against Nature. After the death of her husband Edward IV, the Queen is informed by Catesby that her son Edward V is in the custody of his uncle Gloucester, the Lord Protector. She also learns from Catesby that her brothers Rivers and Gray, along with their men Vaughan and Hapce, have been arrested by Gloucester on the charge of treason. After the Archbishop of York persuades the Queen Mother to obey Gloucester's directive, Catesby takes custody of York and delivers him to the Tower of London. Richard informs Catesby of his intentions before cutting off Hastings. Catesby briefly attempts to intervene on behalf of his friend, but quickly ends his suit when it becomes clear that Richard is set upon killing Hastings. In fact, Catesby personally helps Richard's men drag Hastings before Richard for condemnation. Catesby is awarded Hastings' title and estates by Richard as a reward for the betrayal of his friend. It is Catesby who reports to Richard that Buckingham has been captured and executed. Catesby is one of the last remaining men loyal to Richard at Bosworth Field. He is beheaded at Lester.
A citizen approaches Morton early on in the play and demands repayment of a loan. Morton informs the citizen that he cannot repay the loan now because of England's uncertain political landscape in the wake of Edward IV's death. After a brief conversation with Edward's mistress, Morton concedes that Mrs. Shore's position might be weakening at court.
The ghost of George, the Duke of Clarence, appears on stage at the opening of the play to represent all of Richard III's victims.
DENIS, SIR THOMAS
Sir Thomas Denis is reportedly a western gentleman who fights alongside Richmond at Bosworth Field against Richard III.
Jack Denten is hired by Miles Forest on behalf of James Terrell in service to Richard III to murder the two princes in the Tower. Denten agrees to the job, but has second thoughts once he sees the princes. Denten regains his resolve after his partner Will Slawter threatens to stab him to death. Denten and Slawter smother the boys and bury them within the Tower.
Edward IV is king of England at the beginning of the play. He is gravely ill, thought generally to be on his deathbed. Edward calls his extended family to his deathbed and implores them to settle their rifts. He particularly calls upon his stepson Marcus and Lord Hastings to mend their relationship. He requires the men to share a handshake, then to embrace and finally to vow peaceful intentions. Sensing death is eminent, Edward reiterates his will: Richard, Duke of Gloucester, will assume the role of Lord Protector upon the king's death. Edward worries about Elizabeth's future and remands her to the Queen's care. After saying a short prayer, Edward dies in bed on stage.
Edward IV's eldest son is referred to as King within the play's text, although he never exercises power. He is thirteen years old at the time of his father's death. His mother and his older sister Elizabeth are powerless to protect the young heir or his younger brother, the Duke of York. Edward V is accompanied at the beginning of the play by his brother York and his maternal uncles Rivers and Gray. He is also attended by the gentlemen Hapce and Vaughan. Edward's mother writes to instruct the young king to leave his stronghold in Northampton. Rivers believes Edward should stay where he is because of the mounting danger posed by Richard and Buckingham; Gray believes Edward should do as the queen mother suggests. Edward sides with his mother and Gray and leaves Northampton. Edward is present as Richard and Buckingham arrest the boy king's protectors Gray, Hapce and Vaughan. The king offers to bail Gray out of prison, but his request is refused by Richard. Edward is placed into Richard's care on the route to London for the boy's coronation.
ELIZABETH of YORK
Elizabeth is Edward IV's daughter. At the beginning of the play she implores her brother Marcus to obey Edward's command by making amends with Lord Hastings. Elizabeth is with her mother when a messenger appears to report that Rivers and Gray have been arrested on the charge of treason. Elizabeth is allowed to stay with her mother, but she watches as her brother, the Duke of York, is taken away by the Cardinal, Archbishop of York. After the deaths of her brothers, Elizabeth receives competing marriage proposals from Richard III and Richmond. It is decided by the Peers that Elizabeth must marry Richmond. By doing so, the young pair unify the Houses of York and Lancaster, thereby ending the War of the Roses. Elizabeth, along with the Queen and two messengers, serve as a final Chorus for the play. They tell of the great dynasty founded by Henry and Elizabeth.
Lord Fitz Harbart, heir to the Earl of Pembroke, is reportedly among the men fighting alongside Richmond at Bosworth Field against Richard III.
Miles Forest hires Will Slawter and Jack Denten to serve James Terrell's plot, ordered by Richard III, to murder Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower of London. Forest is present for the killings and directs the men to bury the princes in the Tower.
George Stanley is Lord Stanley's son and Henry Richmond's brother. When Richmond returns from Brittany to challenge Richard's regime, George is taken hostage by the King. Richard threatens to kill Stanley if Lord Stanley assists Richmond in any way. Lord Stanley does assist Richmond, but the battle's quick progression does not allow Richard an opportunity to carry through with his threat. At the end of the play, a relieved George is reunited with his brother.
The Duke of Gloucester is Richard III's title before he assumes the throne.
Family name of Queen Elizabeth and her brother, Lord Gray.
Lord Gray is the Queen's brother. Unlike in Shakespeare's play, he is unrelated to Mrs. Shore. He is charged with attending young Edward V. Gray agrees with his sister that Edward should quit his stronghold of Northampton, against the advice of his brother Earl Rivers. Gray particularly doubts that the Duke of Buckingham poses a threat to Edward's rule. Gray is arrested by Richard and charged with high treason. Richard accuses Gray of ruling Edward V without authority and of making illegal payments to the enemy Scots. Gray argues that the Queen Mother had given him the power to act on Edward's behalf. He also claims that the payments to the Scots had been approved by the entire Court. The arguments do not persuade Richard and Gray is condemned to death. Even when Edward V personally pleads for Gray to be granted bail, Richard refuses.
HAPCE, SIR RICHARD
Sir Richard Hapce attends the young King Edward V in Northampton at the beginning of the play. Hapce is arrested by Gloucester, charged with high treason and condemned to death.
Lord Hastings is an independently minded nobleman. At the beginning of the play, Hastings is summoned to Edward IV's deathbed and ordered to reconcile with his enemy, Lord Marcus, son of the Queen. Hastings refuses the command at first, but submits to Edward's will after the king speculates that the kingdom will disintegrate after his, Edward's, death. Hastings notably submits to Edward's directive before Marcus does. Hasting and Marcus shake hands, embrace and then promise not to break the peace between them. Hastings is recruited by Buckingham to support Richard's claim to the throne. After Richard dispatches of the Queen's brothers and gains custody of the two princes, he decides Hastings is too dangerous to keep in the fold and decides to kill him. Hastings is dragged before Richard and accused of plotting to maim Richard via witchcraft with the Queen and Mrs. Shore. Hastings is immediately taken away and killed.
Henry Richmond is crowned King Henry VII after his victory over Richard III at Bosworth Field.
A herald appears to the Duke of Buckingham, informing him that he is under arrest by order of Richard III. Although Buckingham's men attempt to rescue him, Buckingham goes willingly with the herald.
Hursly is Mrs. Shore's maid. After King Edward's death, Hursly reminds the royal ex-mistress of how fortunate she had been in life.
An old innkeeper is surprised and horrified by Richard's demand, via his servant the page, for a skeleton key to the inn. The innkeeper knows that Richard will ambush his enemy Earl Rivers, but gives the page the key anyway due to his fear of the Lord Protector. He is referred to by the page and in the text as Oste.
Lady Stanley sends a message to her son Richmond before the battle of Bosworth Field regarding a number of gentlemen on their way to join in battle against Richard III.
Peter Landoys is treasurer to Brittany. He travels from Brittany with Richmond to battle at Bosworth Field. It is Landoys that points out for the audience that the impending marriage between Richmond and Elizabeth will unite the Houses of York and Lancaster. After the battle, he celebrates with a victorious Richmond.
LINCOLN, JOHN, EARL of
John, Earl of Lincoln is named Richard III's legal heir even before the murder of the princes in the Tower of London.
Lodowick is Hastings' servant. Lodowick informs Mrs. Shore that her husband Edward IV has died and that Richard; Duke of Gloucester has been named Lord Protector. Lodowick's lands had previously been restored to him due to Mrs. Shore's intervention. Lodowick offers Mrs. Shore safe haven at his estate, but rescinds the offer after Richard III commands that she be left to starve without comfort or aid.
LORD MAYOR of LONDON
Gloucester's page reports that the Lord Mayor of London offers the crown to Richard after hearing that Edward IV's sons are bastards.
Lord Lowell is sent by Richard to the Queen to propose marriage between Richard and Elizabeth. Lowell reports to Richard that the Queen has accepted the suit and plans to return to the Court with all of her daughters. Lowell is one of the last men loyal to Richard. He is killed at Bosworth Field.
Lord Marcus is the son of Edward IV's queen. At the beginning of the play, Marcus and Hastings are brought before Edward on account of their ongoing feud. Edward and Marcus' sister both plead for Marcus to bury his ill will toward Hastings. Marcus refuses to make amends at first, but is finally coerced into a peace. Marcus shakes Hastings' hand and embraces him. Marcus also vows to Edward that he will not break the peace. When Gloucester becomes Lord Protector, he flees England until Henry VII assumes the throne.
Lady Margaret is Henry Richmond's mother. It is Margaret who convinces young Richmond that as direct heir to King Henry IV, he is obligated to challenge Richard III for the throne.
A number of men come across the stage the evening before the battle at Bosworth Field. The men tell the page of mass desertions over to Richmond's camp.
The messengers, along with Elizabeth and the Queen, serve as a final Chorus for the play. They tell of the great dynasty founded by Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York.
- A messenger reports to Richard that the Peers at Nottingham and Scotland had decided that Elizabeth should marry Richmond.
- Another messenger is sent by the Queen and Lady Stanley to report to Richmond that noblemen are on the way to offer support at Bosworth Field.
- Another messenger reports to Richmond that he is outnumber four to one against Richard.
- Two more messengers accompany George Stanley on stage to his brother after the battle. The messengers announce a union between the Houses of York and Lancaster.
Morton is a serving man who comes on stage after the death of Edward IV. A citizen approaches Morton and demands repayment of a loan. Morton tells the citizen that the current civil uncertainty (i.e. Edward's death) is more pressing business than a small loan. Morton sees Mrs. Shore and thanks her for saving his son. When Mrs. Shore predicts that she will be abandoned by her friends, Morton refutes the claim. When Mrs. Shore sees Morton again, her prophesy proves correct: because of Richard III's command that Mrs. Shore be left without safe haven, Morton shuns her in the street at her time of greatest need.
The Duke of Norfolk is slain at the battle at Bosworth Field.
Gloucester's page reports that the Earl of Oxford is remanded to Hames Castle because the Lord Protector distrusts him. A messenger later reports that the Earl is able to escape from Hames Castle. With the help of Captain Blunt, Oxford escapes Hames to assist Richmond in battle against Richard. Oxford is put in charge of the rear guard.
A page attends Richard III throughout the play and frequently addresses his remarks directly to the audience. He first appears to introduce a messenger from the Duke of Buckingham to Richard. The page reliably reports all of the rumors he hears to Richard. When alone on stage, the page wonders aloud at the surprising alliance of convenience between Richard and Buckingham. The page tells the audience that since Richard has been named Lord Protector, numerous nobles have fled the country. Richard sends his page to an inn to secure a room and to fetch a skeleton key for the entire house. It so happens that one of Richard's enemies, the Queen's brother Earl Rivers, is staying at the inn that evening. Although the innkeeper protests, the page is able to get the key. After Richard has the Duke of York extracted from sanctuary with the Queen and delivered to the Tower of London, the page returns to the stage to express misgivings about his master's reckless bloodthirsty reach for power. The page is certain that the blood of Richard's victims will doom his reign. In preparation for the arrests of Hastings and Stanley, the page hires twelve ruffians to assist Richard's plan. The page recommends James Terrell to Richard as a good man to coordinate the assassination of the princes in the Tower. The page spies on Mrs. Shore after she is thrown into the streets to ensure that no one offers her assistance. The night before the battle at Bosworth Field, the page openly wishes Richard had not been made king. The page reports that Richard does not sleep well at night: a haunting just revenge for his sins. The page is left to tell Richard of the mass desertions over to Richmond's camp. It is the page that pleads with Richard to flee from the battle at Bosworth Field. The page debriefs Report on the outcome of the battle.
Percival is a messenger that delivers a letter from the Duke of Buckingham to Richard, Duke of Gloucester. When Percival greets Gloucester, he foreshadows Buckingham's support by addressing Richard as "your majesty." Richard confesses his early ambitions and anxieties to Percival as he reads Buckingham's letter. Percival reports by word of mouth to Richard that Buckingham has assembled a company of men to assist Richard's grab for the crown. Buckingham tells Richard that Lord Hastings will support Richard's claim.
Poetry appears on stage with Truth at the beginning of the play. Poetry asks Truth a series of questions. These questions spur Truth to give a proper exposition of the War of the Roses.
Sir Price is reportedly a Welsh gentleman who fights with Richmond at Bosworth Field against Richard III.
The Queen is Edward IV's widow and mother to Edward V, the Duke of York and Elizabeth. She is also the mother to Elizabeth, Marcus and a number of other daughters. Unlike in Shakespeare's play, Queen Elizabeth Gray is clearly distinguished from Jane Shore. Soon after Richard assumes the role of Lord Protector, the Queen seeks sanctuary, along with her daughter Elizabeth and young son, the Duke of York. She surrenders her youngest son Richard to the Cardinal, Archbishop of York, to be delivered to Gloucester. The Queen remains in sanctuary with her daughter Elizabeth. When Richard sends Lowell to the Queen to propose marriage between Richard and Elizabeth, the Queen consents and agrees to leave sanctuary. The Queen sends word to Richmond before the battle of Bosworth Field to assist him in intelligence gathering. She appears on stage at the end of the play to find out that her son Dorset is safe in France. The Queen, along with Elizabeth and two messengers, serve as a final Chorus for the play. They tell of the great dynasty founded by Henry and Elizabeth.
Report appears on stage after the battle at Bosworth Field. The page debriefs Report as to how Richard was killed by Richmond.
Richard III succeeds his nephews, the sons of Edward IV, to the throne. At the beginning of the play, Richard is known as the Duke of Gloucester, Lord Protector. Richard expresses from the start a distinct dissatisfaction with his role as lord protector. Richard wants to be king. He professes in a soliloquy that after all of the blood he has shed to approach the throne, he is not about to let a couple of children (i.e. his nephews Edward and Richard) keep him from his kingly destiny. He clearly states that damnation itself will not deter him from his ambition. In fact, Richard does not care much about how long he reigns. He believes even a half-hour on the throne would justify al of the bloodshed. Richard is personally active in his pursuit of the crown. He goes himself to an inn to ambush his enemy Earl Rivers. He also personally arrests Gray, Hapce and Vaughan upon the charge of high treason. The page reports that Richard has employed Dr. Shaw to preach at St. Paul's that the princes are bastards of Edward IV. The page also reports that Richard hypocritically refuses the crown the first time he is asked to receive it. After Richard falsely accuses Hastings of conspiring with the Queen and Mrs. Shore against his person via witchcraft, Richard has Hastings killed and Mrs. Shore thrown penniless into the streets. He further makes it a capital crime for anyone to offer comfort or aid to Mrs. Shore. He condemns her to starve in the streets for being a murderous whore. At the same time, Richard hires James Terrell to coordinate the murder of the two young princes in the Tower of London. After Richard is crowned king, he decides that he no longer needs the assistance of the Duke of Buckingham. He hires Buckingham's servant Banister to betray him. At the same time, Richard also sends a herald with a group of men to arrest Buckingham. Even as Richard hears of Buckingham's demise, he learns that Henry Richmond has returned to England from Brittany to challenge for the crown. In an attempt to discourage the invasion, Richard has Richmond's brother George taken hostage. He threatens to kill the young man if Lord Stanley assists Richmond in any way. Richard also sends Lord Lowell to the Queen to propose marriage to Elizabeth on his behalf, the real purpose being to prevent a marriage between Elizabeth and Richmond. Richard is disappointed by the news that the Peers have decided that Elizabeth must marry Richmond. When Richard hears of Blunt's betrayal and Oxford's escape, he resolves to fight all comers without fear. The night before the battle at Bosworth Field, Richard is haunted by the spirits of all his victims. He is condemned by all of the creatures of nature. Richard realizes that his men have left him and his victim's revenge is at hand. Still, Richard refuses to repent. He vows to fight instead. Richard calls for the murder of George Stanley, but the battle has progressed too quickly for the killing. When he loses his horse, Richard refuses to flee. He battles Richmond instead and is killed. Richard's body is publicly desecrated by order of Richmond.
Henry Richmond is Stanley's son. He is convinced by his mother Margaret that he is the direct descendent of King Henry IV. When Richard is made Lord Protector, Richmond flees England and travels to Brittany. He is brought back to England due to the efforts of Buckingham, before the Duke is arrested and killed. Richmond proposes a suit for marriage to Elizabeth, the Queen's daughter. The suit is granted and Richmond states his intention of ridding the royal family of its brambles, briars and thorns. In essence, he promises to rid the nation of Richard III. In direct contrast to Richard's past behavior, Richmond nearly aborts his planned invasion upon hearing that his brother George Stanley might be murdered on account of it. Lord Stanley convinces Richmond that the battle must be fought, regardless of the dangers to all involved. Although Richmond is concerned about his prospects when Stanley is unable to send men in support, he is encouraged by Stanley's assurance that Richard's men will switch sides and fight for Richmond once the battle begins. Richmond kills Richard in battle and orders for his body to be publicly desecrated. Stanley arrives to report that the Peers have elected Richmond King. He becomes known as Henry VII.
Earl Rivers is the Queen's brother. He is charged with attending the young King Edward V. Rivers warns Edward that the Lord Protector Gloucester and the Duke of Buckingham are a danger to the crown. He suggests that the boy king stay in Northampton. His recommendation is rejected in favor of the Queen and Lord Gray's suggestion that Edward quit Northampton. Rivers is ambushed by Gloucester, Buckingham and their men at an inn. Richard had coerced the innkeeper to give him the key to River's room. Rivers is accused of treason; a charge Rivers denies. Before being taken to his death at Pomphret Castle, Rivers tries to bless his young nephew the king. Rivers also assures Richard that he will be condemned once the truth is widely known.
Gloucester's page reports to the audience that Doctor Shaw, in service to Richard, has begun to preach from the pulpit at St. Paul's that Edward V and the Duke of York are Edward IV's bastard sons.
Mrs. Shore is Edward IV's mistress at the time of his death. Unlike in Shakespeare's play, Shore's wife and Queen Elizabeth Gray are not the same person. After Edward's death, Mrs. Shore laments the cruelty of fortune and sees her own doom ahead. She is concerned that all of the people she has favored with her influence over Edward will abandon her. She is also certain that the new Protector Gloucester is determined to ruin her. She proves to be prophetic on both counts. Richard comes and throws her penniless into the street to starve as a condemned whore. After being accused by Richard's page of leading a wicked and naughty life, Mrs. Shore condemns Richard's hypocrisy and turns her fate over to God. She repents for all of her sins.
Will Slawter is hired by Miles Forest to assist James Terrell in Richard III's plot to kill the princes in the Tower of London. Slawter is partnered with Jack Denten. When Denten voices second thoughts about the killings, Slawter threatens to kill Denten, too. Slawter and Denten kill the princes and bury them within the Tower.
Lord Stanley is Henry Richmond and George Stanley's father. When Richmond returns to England to challenge Richard III, the King takes George as a hostage. Stanley is told that George will die if Stanley assists Richmond in any way. Stanley agrees to the terms. He does not lend material support to his son, but he goes to advise him in person. Stanley rallies a discouraged Richmond to battle, despite the danger to George. Stanley assures Richmond that Richard's men will switch sides and fight for Richmond once the battle begins.
A "ghost character". Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury is reportedly among the men fighting in support of Richmond against Richard III at Bosworth Field.
James Terrell is hired by Richard to oversee the murder of the two princes in the Tower of London. Terrell is motivated entirely by a desire for money. Terrell hires Miles Forest to hire assassins. They are Will Slawter and Jack Denten. Terrell coerces Sir Robert Brokenbury into giving him the keys to the boys' cell in the Tower. Terrell informs the assassins that Richard wants the murders to be bloodless. He instructs them to smother the boys. After the murders, Terrell reports back to Richard.
Sir Thomas is a Welsh gentleman who travels to Bosworth Field to fight with Richmond against Richard III.
Truth appears on stage at the beginning of the play with Poetry. Truth answers a series of questions by Truth and by so doing provides the audience with an exposition to the War of the Roses.
VAUGHAN, SIR THOMAS
Sir Thomas Vaughan attends the young King Edward V at his stronghold in Northampton at the beginning of the play. Vaughan is arrested by Gloucester, charged with high treason and condemned to death.
WILLIAMS, SIR OWEN
Sir Owen Williams is a Welsh gentleman who fights with Richmond at Bosworth Field against Richard III.
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