These sixteenth-century pieces of literature from two prominent English authors set the stage for one of the most notorious people in history, King Richard III of England. Richard, duke of Gloucester (1452-1485), was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, duke of York, and the formidable Cecily Neville. The duke of York was the most senior male member of the York branch of the Plantagenet family who was kin to the ruling Lancastrian family. The head of this family was King Henry VI, a monarch with a weak and malleable personality. By the time young Richard was three years of age, the two rival branches of the royal family became embroiled in a civil war spanning the next thirty years.