Friday, November 23, 2018
Question from Paul - Richard Rich
Richard Rich - information pertaining to 1st Baron Rich, amongst other things, Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations. I'm working on an MA in Tudor History. I'm exploring the role and influence of Richard Rich (one of the great villains of English history). I'm especially interested in the extent to which he directed the dissolution of religious houses (rather than simply following orders from others, e.g. Cromwell); the extent to which he worked with Thomas Audley and the nature of the relationship he had with the same; the possibility that he was defrauding the monarch and Exchequer at various times; the truth to the statement made in various online sources that, in contrast to his apparent Reforming agenda and actions, he was a 'lifelong Catholic' .... Biographical info is interesting and helpful, but more so are any ideas about original sources. Thank you.
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I think Richard Rich is an interesting character in all of this and I have often wondered about "WHY"? His name pops up again and again. I am a layman and have loved Tudor history since I can remember.You pose a question that caught my eye. I love a challenge for more research of the characters at play here!
Opinion is divided about RR, but the balance of views is that he was a "bad 'un". The last seminar of my MA, before Christmas, was given by David Starkey who, on hearing my thesis topic, said, "So you like shits?" .... However, contemporaneous opinion had it that he was a highly competent administrator; a careful and shrewd politician; a practical lawyer and a flexible royal servant. As to why he became so vilified, one has to look at the influence of Catholic historians writing in the following century who were heavily influenced by the tales of his 'perjury' and betrayal of Fisher and, especially, More.
There are also accounts that Rich joined Thomas Wriothesley in torturing Anne Askew -- personally turning the screws of the rack in the hopes of getting her to incriminate Kathryn Parr -- at a time when women were (supposedly) exempt from torture. Since Anne Askew was a Protestant, this means that everyone hates Rich -- not just More/Fisher supporters.
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