• University of Leicester

England in the Time of King Richard III

Explore 15th century England through archaeology, history, and literature. Learn more about Richard III’s discovery and reburial.

85,214 enrolled on this course

A re-enactment of the Battle of Bosworth, at which Richard III died
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Travel back to the 15th century and explore life during the time of Richard III

The discovery of the skeleton of Richard III in a Leicester car park – and the recent revelations of an infidelity within his family’s bloodline – made headline news around the world.

Go beyond the headlines with this online course. You’ll learn from scholars at the University of Leicester not only about the discovery of Richard III, but about England during his lifetime.

Each week you’ll examine a different aspect of the 15th century period, including medieval warfare, food and culture, death and commemoration, and more. Now’s your chance to travel back in time.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds At Leicester, we’ve got a lot of experience of delivering distance learning courses. We run a full set of programmes at masters and undergraduate level. And we’ve been doing this for a long time. So we think we understand the needs of distance learning students. This course is based around the Wars of the Roses. And it draws on the expertise of the team that was brought together in the aftermath of the discovery of the grave of Richard III in Leicester. This includes experts from forensic engineering through to art historians, English experts, archaeologists, and historians. So drawing on this expertise, we’ve developed a course that we think will really enhance your interest and understanding of the period.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds The course is divided into six episodes, each of which deals with a different aspect of mediaeval life. And the themes covered range from mediaeval warfare through to the mediaeval landscape, death and commemoration, and the creation of texts, particularly the introduction of printing. This course will enhance your understanding of the period and also the way in which scholars go about identifying the questions that need to be answered and bringing data to bear on them. There are many controversies about the period. And we hope that by the end of the course, you will be armed with enough information and understanding to formulate your own views on the credibility or otherwise of some of the theories around.

Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds When you put together a team of experts who understand the poetry of the period, who realise why certain things were recorded and others not, when people can bring their understanding of technology to bear on the issue, you get a rounded picture and understanding that goes far beyond just facts. And that’s why I think it’s all really, very exciting.

What topics will you cover?

  • Medieval battles and the Wars of the Roses
  • Peasants and farmers
  • Medieval towns, villages, and houses
  • Books, literacy, and printing
  • Death and commemoration
  • Food and cooking in the 15th century
  • The discovery and reburial of King Richard III

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the sequence of events and the key players in the Wars of the Roses, and explain the ways in which reputations are created
  • Explain the nature of armed combat in the middle ages
  • Describe the way English farming was organised before the Black Death
  • Identify 15th century changes in the landscape and the benefits to ordinary people of the new developments
  • Explore the evidence for the scale of literacy in England before printed books
  • Describe how typefaces were first created and how rapidly printed books spread, and to whom
  • Summarise medieval beliefs about the afterlife
  • Identify the types of late medieval burial, burial customs, commemoration and memorial monuments
  • Identify what foods were, and were not, available in the 15th century and the differences in the diet of rich and poor
  • Describe the ways in which people cooked and ate at the table
  • Reflect on some of the reasons why the discovery of Richard III has aroused such international interest
  • Interpret the range of evidence that makes the identification of Richard III's body convincing

Who is the course for?

Anyone interested in medieval England or the recent discovery and reburial of Richard III will find something to fuel their interest here. No prior knowledge or expertise are needed.

What do people say about this course?

"Well, this course has reignited my passion for History and archaeology and led me to apply to do a Masters Degree in an archaeology discipline. I'd say learning objectives have definitely been achieved!"

"I've studied a good number of courses with Future Learn and all have been great. England In the Time of King Richard III certainly lives up to that very high standard. Combining a detailed look at the military, political and social history of the period with the discovery of Richard's remains and the development of the commemorative facilities, the course is well designed, well presented and very comprehensive. I have an Open University degree in history and do not consider myself to be usually interested in Mediaeval history, but this course was truly fascinating. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Richard or the period."

Who will you learn with?

Senior Lecturer in Archaeology in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester.

Who developed the course?

University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is a leading research led university with a strong tradition of excellence in teaching. It is consistently ranked amongst the top 20 universities in the United Kingdom.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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