The collection of Shakepeare’s plays came out in 1623, after the poet’s death. This first edition is called First folio; it contains 38 plays given not in chronological order, but according to genre: comedies, historical plays and tragedies.
It’ s the most popular historical play and it’s centred on the ascent to power of Richard III and then on the conflict between him and Henry Tudor, at Bosworth. The victory of Henry Tudor, the future King Henry VII, ended the War of the Roses. The central character of the play is Richard III a great tragic hero and the perfect example of Renaissance superman who believes he can control life and his destiny. He is the perfect type of machiavellian villain (malvagio, cattivo) because he put into practise Machiavelli’s famous saying: the end justifies the means. Infact his ascent to the throne passes though many treasons and cruelties. Shakespeare stresses his evil nature in contrast with the goodness of Henry Tudor. The play is also a celebration of the Tudor dynasty.
Richard is King Edward IV’s brother; at kings’s dead he becomes lord Protector of England because the king’s son, Edward V is still a child. So he begins to plot to usurp the throne. His ascent passes through many treasons and cruelties. At the end Richard’s troops meet Henry’s army at Bosworth. Richard is killed in battle. Henry becomes king under the name of Henry VII and marries Elizabeth of York daughter of Edward IV.
My kingdom for a horseThis is the last scene of the play. The setting is Bosworth where Richard III And the future King Henry, fight their last battle. They are the most significant characters and their duel symbolizes the outcome of the whole conflict. The passage dramatically begins with Catesby’s invocation to Richard’s followers to help the king ( Rescue! Rescue!). Also important is Catesby’s reference to the fact that the king’s horse is killed because it prepares us for the one of Shakespeare’s most famous phrases: a horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse! Despite Richard’s strength and courage he is defeated. His victorious enemies call him “bloody dog” ( the future King Henry ) and “bloody wretch” ( Derby a King Henry’s follower); both definition stress Richard’s ferocity and his role as a villain. The Derby takes the crown off Richard’s head and gives it to the new King. The scene (and the play) ends with King Henry’s long speech of reconciliation sanctioned by a promise “ we will unit the white rose and the red”. There are also references to England’s future peace and prosperity and an invocation to God to assist England in this process.