England in the time of King Richard III

MOOC, 6 weeks

This is for you if... you want to find out more about Richard III's world through a mixture of history, archaeology, literature and art.

Course Description

  • Next start date: To be confirmed

This free online course takes you on a journey through 15th century England, taking in archaeology, history and literature. You will learn about the Wars of the Roses, read medieval texts, investigate the livelihoods of medieval farmers and peasants, and discover all you need to know about the discovery and reinterment of King Richard III in Leicester.

The course addresses a different aspect of the period each week:

  • medieval warfare
  • the lives of peasants and farmers
  • food and culture
  • death and commemoration
  • reading and the introduction of printing.

The final week looks at the rediscovery and reinterment of Richard III, from the methods used by the historians and archaeologists who discovered and identified his remains in a Leicester car park, through to the memorable day when the King was finally laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral.

We’ll look at how historians and archaeologists have reconstructed Richard’s road to Bosworth - the battle in which he died - and how one of England’s most famous kings came to be buried in Leicester. This will help you understand Richard III’s reinterment, as his remains were taken to Bosworth, through the villages connected with his last battle, and finally laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015.

How a MOOC works

MOOCs are flexible courses which allow you to participate at your own pace. Once a course has started you can study the week’s material at a time that suits you. You do not need to be online at the same time as the other students. There is no requirement to visit Leicester - although you would always be very welcome if you want to come and have a look around campus.

If you want to leave your course at any point you may do so, whether or not it has already begun. You can sign up for the same course when it runs again if you want to have another go at it. There is no limit on the number of MOOCs you can take: if you think you have the time to do several simultaneously, that's fine.

If you have any questions about this course, join us for a live online chat with academic tutors and admissions staff.

Key Facts
Department
Archaeology and Ancient History, History, History of Art and Film, English
Contact

Please address all enquiries to FutureLearn.

Why Leicester?

The University of Leicester is one of the UK's leading research and teaching universities with over 25 years' experience of offering high quality distance learning courses.

This course has been designed by members of ULAS (University of Leicester Archaeological Services), who were involved with the discovery of Richard III.

Course Structure

Week 1

Week 1

In the first week we will look at the political scene in the 15th century and how it was dominated by savage dynastic fighting – the Wars of the Roses - in which allegiances and power shifted among an aristocratic coterie, with devastating outcomes. The first module of the course addresses medieval warfare, dynastic conflict, and the ways in which this conflict is interpreted and presented today through re-enactments and at historic battlefields.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 2

Week 2

In the second week we focus on the lives and changing prospects of ordinary folk. The 15th century also saw the abandonment of many villages through general population decline, and a shift towards greater use of the land for pasture farming. But demand for labour meant that the prosperity of working people rose. Peasants and farmers made up the majority of the population, and they became increasingly prosperous in the aftermath of the Black Death - while the fortunes of townspeople fluctuated from place to place.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 3

Week 3

In week three we turn to the most dramatic technological innovation of the modern world - printing. The 15th century is a pivotal moment in writing, publishing and literacy: at the beginning of the century, handwritten parchment manuscripts were the primary form of literature - few in number and well beyond the means or access of peasants and farmer. By the end, however, England had paper mills and printing presses. The beginnings of modern mass literature, including a standardisation of written English, had begun.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 4

Week 4

Attitudes to life, death and the afterlife form the focus of the fourth week. Central to medieval religious understanding was a belief in purgatory, a place where the sinful could atone for misdeeds in life. A great deal of energy and resources were devoted to prayers for the dead, which formed a regular part of the devotions of rich and poor alike. We will investigate some of the books, monuments and other objects which were used for devotional purposes, as well as the evidence provided by cemeteries for people’s expectations of life and death.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 5

Week 5

Food and its consumption are covered in the fifth week. We will look at the different sources of evidence for food, from medieval recipe books offering instruction on the elaborate meals consumed by the better-off to the simpler (but increasingly more diverse) diets of peasants and townsfolk, for which archaeological data and medieval accounting can provide useful information. We will also consider the ways in which food was cooked and consumed.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Week 6

Week 6

The discovery of King Richard III’s skeleton in a Leicester car park in 2012 excited a storm of interest and some controversy around the world. This week is devoted to an analysis of the results of the project, including the investigation of the site of the Greyfriars where he was originally buried, the dramatic injuries inflicted on the king at Bosworth Field and the innovatory genetic work that established the skeleton’s identity with certainty, as well as final service of re-interment at Leicester Cathedral in March 2015.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Teaching and Assessment

At the end of each week of the course there is normally a set of multiple choice questions to test your understanding of what you have learned, and this will count towards your overall course score. Please note that this is a FutureLearn score, and is not valid as credit for other courses at the University of Leicester - although a MOOC is a great 'taster' for university learning.

Entry Requirements

There are no entry requirements for the current range of MOOCs available from the University of Leicester. You simply need an internet connection and a computer or tablet device. Some other courses may specify expected levels of understanding or experience in certain areas but this will be made clear before signing up for the course.

English Language Requirements

There are no specific English language requirements for our MOOCs. However, to get the most out of this course you should have a reasonable command of written English.

Fees and Funding

  • Enjoy this course for free - there are no fees for any of our MOOCs.

  • Enjoy this course for free - there are no fees for any of our MOOCs.
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Course Duration Availability
England in the time of King Richard III 6 weeks Apply Now
Course
England in the time of King Richard III
Duration
6 weeks
Availability

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