• 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

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 - have made headline news around the world.

In this free online course, a team of scholars from the University of Leicester address a broad set of themes about the England Richard would have inhabited in the 15th century and look back at his rediscovery and reinterment.

Explore the Wars of the Roses

The political scene in the 15th century was dominated by savage dynastic warfare – the Wars of the Roses - in which allegiances and power shifted among an aristocratic clique, with devastating outcomes.

The century also saw the abandonment of many villages through general population decline, and a shift towards greater use of the land for pasture farming. But demand for labour meant that the prosperity of working people rose, and towards the end of the century, the introduction of printing transformed access to literacy and books.

Each week, we’ll address a different perspective of this period:

  • medieval warfare
  • the lives of peasants and farmers
  • food and culture
  • death and commemoration
  • reading and the introduction of printing.

The rediscovery and reinterment of Richard III

We’ll look at how historians and archaeologists have reconstructed Richard’s road to Bosworth - the battle in which he died - and how one of England’s most famous kings came to be buried in Leicester.

This will help you understand Richard III’s reinterment, as his remains were taken to Bosworth, through the villages connected with his last battle, and finally laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015.

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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.

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.

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.

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