Richard III | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Richard III | Scene Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • May 4, 1471

    Yorkists triumph at the Battle of Tewkesbury.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • July 12, 1472

    Richard woos Lady Anne Neville, widow of the crown prince.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • Soon after

    Queen Margaret curses Richard and others responsible for the deaths of her husband and son.

    Act 1, Scene 3
  • February 18, 1478

    At Richard's command, Clarence is murdered in the Tower of London.

    Act 1, Scene 4
  • April 9, 1483

    King Edward IV dies of a sudden illness.

    Act 2, Scene 2
  • Soon afterward

    Queen Elizabeth's relatives are imprisoned and executed.

    Act 3, Scene 3
  • July 6, 1483

    Richard assumes the throne as King Richard III.

    Act 4, Scene 1
  • Soon after

    The Duke of Buckingham loses Richard's trust after he hesitates to kill Richard's nephews.

    Act 4, Scene 2
  • August 1483

    At Richard's command, Prince Edward and the Duke of York are murdered in the Tower of London.

    Act 4, Scene 2
  • Later that year

    The Duke of Buckingham leads an unsuccessful revolt against Richard.

    Act 4, Scene 4
  • Meanwhile

    Queen Elizabeth, Queen Margaret, and the Duchess of York confront Richard; his mother curses him.

    Act 4, Scene 4
  • 1485

    Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, levies an army and lands in Wales.

    Act 4, Scene 4
  • Meanwhile

    Buckingham is executed as a traitor.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • Soon after

    The ghosts of Richard's victims visit him and Richmond the night before the Battle of Bosworth.

    Act 5, Scene 3
  • August 22, 1485

    Richmond slays Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

    Act 5, Scene 5
  • October 30, 1485

    Richmond is crowned Henry VII of England.

    Act 5, Scene 5

Scene Summaries Chart

Scene Summary
Act 1, Scene 1 On a street in London, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, addresses the audience. He announces the Yorkists have won the Wars ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 Elsewhere in London, a funeral procession takes place for King Henry VI, murdered by Richard in the previous play. Among... Read More
Act 1, Scene 3 Back at the palace, Queen Elizabeth is attempting to cope with news of her husband's failing health. She is attended by ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 4 The scene shifts to the Tower of London, where Clarence is telling the jail's keeper about a nightmare he has had. In th... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 Back at the palace in London, King Edward has suffered another relapse of his illness. Most of the chief members of the ... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 Elsewhere in the palace, the Duchess of York is attempting to comfort the two children of Clarence. As the mother to Kin... Read More
Act 2, Scene 3 On the streets of London, word of King Edward's death has begun to circulate among the public. Three citizens have met i... Read More
Act 2, Scene 4 At the palace, the Duchess of York is awaiting the arrival of her grandson Prince Edward. With her are the archbishop, Q... Read More
Act 3, Scene 1 Prince Edward arrives in London to the sound of trumpets, accompanied by Richard, Buckingham, the cardinal, Catesby, and... Read More
Act 3, Scene 2 At his home, Lord Hastings receives a messenger from Lord Stanley, who has been troubled by strange dreams. The messenge... Read More
Act 3, Scene 3 At Pomfret Castle in Yorkshire, Earl Rivers, Lord Grey, and Sir Thomas Vaughan are being led to their deaths by Sir Rich... Read More
Act 3, Scene 4 Back at the Tower of London, a group of high-ranking nobles and churchmen are gathered to decide on the coronation arran... Read More
Act 3, Scene 5 On the walls of the Tower, Richard and Buckingham are preparing for the arrival of the mayor of London. The two wear old... Read More
Act 3, Scene 6 Later that day at the Tower, a scrivener (a scribe or clerk) has just finished copying out the formal accusation against... Read More
Act 3, Scene 7 Buckingham has returned from his visit to Guildhall, where he attempted to convince the London citizenry to accept Richa... Read More
Act 4, Scene 1 Outside the Tower of London, members of the royal family have gathered to greet Prince Edward and the young Duke of York... Read More
Act 4, Scene 2 Richard has just been crowned at the palace in London. His cronies—Buckingham, Catesby, Ratcliffe, and Lovell—are all in... Read More
Act 4, Scene 3 Tyrrel returns to the palace and mournfully describes the last moments of Prince Edward and the Duke of York. When Richa... Read More
Act 4, Scene 4 This jumbo-sized scene takes place before the palace in London. First to appear is Queen Margaret, whose vengeful heart ... Read More
Act 4, Scene 5 Lord Stanley has returned to his house and is conferring with a priest named Sir Christopher (who appears only in this s... Read More
Act 5, Scene 1 On a field in Salisbury, the Duke of Buckingham is being led to his execution. He asks the sheriff if he may speak to Ki... Read More
Act 5, Scene 2 Richmond and his army have made it as far inland as Staffordshire and are now encamped at Tamworth. He comes onstage, at... Read More
Act 5, Scene 3 This scene dramatizes the run-up to the Battle of Bosworth Field. Both armies are now making their way to Market Boswort... Read More
Act 5, Scene 4 The Battle of Bosworth Field is now in full swing. Catesby, one of the few partisans still loyal to Richard, informs the... Read More
Act 5, Scene 5 The Battle of Bosworth Field reaches its climax: Richmond slays Richard in single combat, and a flourish of trumpets sig... Read More
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