Richard Ratcliffe


Richard Ratcliffe

Sir Richard Ratcliffe (died 1485) was a close confidant of Richard III of England. He came from a gentry family in the Lake District, and became a companion of Richard when the latter was still Duke of Gloucester. He was one of Richard's trustees in the lordship of Richmond, and was named steward of Barnard Castle. Richard, while Duke of Gloucester, knighted Richard Ratcliffe during the Scottish campaigns, at the same time creating him a knight banneret.Ross, Charles. "Richard III." 1981]

During the seizure of power by Richard III, Ratcliffe was chosen to return to the north and organize an army to help the Protector, as Richard III was then titled, deal with Parliament. Some sources name Ratcliffe as the person that gave the orders to execute Earl Rivers.

When Richard became king he gave Ratcliffe a number of offices, including Sheriff of Westmorland, and made him a Knight of the Garter. He also received a large grant of lands, including much that had belonged to the Courtenay Earls of Devon. After the rebellion of 1483 he was given a very large number of forfeited estates. As a result he had an income larger than most Barons. He married Agnes Scrope, daughter of Henry Scrope, 4th Baron Scrope of Bolton, one of the great barons in the north of England. (She was also the half-sister of the wife of William Catesby).

He was the "Rat" in the lampooning poem that William Collingbourne, a Tudor agent, tacked up to St. Paul's Cathedral in July 1484. The poem ran "The Cat, the Rat and Lovell our dog/Rule all England under the Hog." The cat was William Catesby; the dog was Francis, Viscount Lovell; and the hog was Richard III, who used a wild boar as his heraldic device.Fields, Bertram. "Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes." 2000 ] The poem was interpolated into Laurence Olivier's film "Richard III", a screen adaptation of William Shakespeare's play.

Richard Ratcliffe was one of the two councilors (the other was William Catesby) who are reputed to have told the king that marrying Elizabeth of York would cause rebellions in the north.Weir "The Princes in the Tower" p. 211-212]

He died at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Ratcliffe appears in Shakespeare's play "Richard III" as a minor character who executes Rivers, Grey, and Vaughn. [Boyce "Shakespeare A to Z" p. 532]

Notes

References

*Boyce, Charles "Shakespeare A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Plays, His Poems, His Life and Times, and More" New York: Laurel 1990 ISBN 0-440-50429-5
*Fields, Bertram "Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes" New York:Regan Books 2000 ISBN 0-06-098738-3
*Ross, Charles "Richard III" Berkeley, California: University of California Press 1981 ISBN 0-520-04589-0
*Weir, Alison "The Princes in the Tower" New York: Ballantine 1992 ISBN 0-345-38372-9


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