The Life and Times of Richard, duke of Gloucester, Richard III

2021 Essay competition general feedback.

This year’s essays included focus on Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI, Richard duke of York (father), Shakespeare’s Richard III, and childhood influences, as well as analysis of the constitutional crisis of 1483, the mystery of the Princes in the Tower and recent reassessments of Richard’s life and kingship. None took as their main focus battles during the Wars of the Roses. 

The essay is intended to be a vehicle to explore the end of the medieval period.  Other areas that could be explored include the domestic and foreign policies of Richard and his brother Edward IV; relationships within his extended family; the Queens of the second half of the 15th century; changing social and economic conditions in the 15th century, and so on.

Candidates for all three A level History exam providers (OCR, AQA, Edexcel) plus WJEC were represented amongst the entries.

The title of the essay will be the same in 2022 and may be interpreted widely. Our rules will be carried forward to 2022 and are compatible with those of an NEA or an EPQ. We are happy to be consulted about essay titles which may not lie within the normal remit of one of the A level exam providers.

All essays submitted this year showed evidence of thorough research, some with reference to a very extensive range of sources, both primary and secondary. Inevitably during a year in which access to libraries was severely limited, much use was made of websites, online journals, TV, radio and film, yet there was clear evidence of a great deal of reading of printed works.

Students have clearly benefitted from guidance in research and writing skills, especially with regard to citing references in support of their statements and the critical analysis of sources.

We would like to thank teachers who have recommended students’ essays to be submitted in this difficult year and were impressed with the very high standard of writing. All students who entered will be offered one year’s free student membership of The Richard III Society in addition to the top three prize winners whose names will be announced on The Richard III Society website in September. This year’s prize fund totalled £350 and will be reviewed for 2022.

Iain Farrell

Education Officer

Richard III Society