Teaching Students About Richard III

Teaching students about historical figures opens the doors for them to explore the intricate web of stories, facts, and lessons that history has to offer. Richard III, one of England’s most enigmatic kings, is no exception. This article will guide you through the teaching process of Richard III to help your students better understand his life, reign, and legacy.

Understanding Richard III

Before diving into specific teaching methods, it’s essential to understand who Richard III was and why his story is so fascinating. Richard III reigned as King of England from 1483 until his death in 1485. His short time on the throne was characterized by constant power struggles and a reputation marred by rumors and accusations of murder. The discovery of his remains in 2012 reignited interest in this complex figure, making it an ideal time to teach your students about him.

Teaching Strategies

1. Contextualize Richard III within the history of England:

Begin with a broad overview of the Wars of the Roses and how this led to Richard III’s ascension to the throne. This allows students to understand the political climate during his reign and how his actions were influenced by these circumstances.

2. Analyze primary sources:

Using primary sources such as historical documents or contemporary accounts can allow students to grasp various perspectives on Richard III’s life and rule. Encourage critical thinking by having your students analyze these sources for bias and compare different accounts.

3. Discuss his role in popular culture:

Richard III’s depiction in literature and drama, most notably William Shakespeare’s play “Richard III,” has heavily influenced our understanding of him over the centuries. By comparing these portrayals with historical evidence, students can evaluate how fiction has shaped our perceptions of historical figures.

4. Investigate controversies surrounding Richard III:

Engage your students in discussing and researching some of the many controversies surrounding Richard III, such as the alleged murder of his nephews, the Princes in the Tower. Debating these mysteries can promote critical thinking and a deeper understanding of the complexities of history.

5. Utilize multimedia resources:

Incorporate documentaries, podcasts, and videos into your lessons to provide students with diverse perspectives on Richard III. These resources can make the subject matter more engaging and approachable for a wider range of students.

6. Visit historical sites (if possible):

If you have the opportunity, consider organizing field trips to sites related to Richard III’s life and reign, such as Bosworth Battlefield and Leicester Cathedral. These visits can help students connect with history on a personal level and better understand its significance.


By employing these strategies when teaching about Richard III, you can provide your students with a comprehensive understanding of this enigmatic king and inspire a deeper appreciation for history in general. Remember to encourage critical thinking, embrace discussion, and utilize various resources to create an engaging learning experience they won’t forget.

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