Richard III

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 3

page Act 5 Scene 3 Page 12

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God and our good cause fight upon our side.
255The prayers of holy saints and wrongèd souls,
Like high-reared bulwarks, stand before our faces.
Richard except, those whom we fight against
Had rather have us win than him they follow.
For what is he they follow? Truly, gentlemen,
260A bloody tyrant and a homicide;
One raised in blood, and one in blood established;
One that made means to come by what he hath,
And slaughtered those that were the means to help him;
A base foul stone, made precious by the foil
265Of England’s chair, where he is falsely set;
One that hath ever been God’s enemy.
Then if you fight against God’s enemy,
God will, in justice, ward you as his soldiers.
If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,
270You sleep in peace, the tyrant being slain.
If you do fight against your country’s foes,
Your country’s fat shall pay your pains the hire.
If you do fight in safeguard of your wives,
Your wives shall welcome home the conquerors.
275If you do free your children from the sword,
Your children’s children quits it in your age.
Then, in the name of God and all these rights,
Advance your standards. Draw your willing swords.
For me, the ransom of my bold attempt
280Shall be this cold corpse on the earth’s cold face;
But if I thrive, the gain of my attempt
The least of you shall share his part thereof.
Sound drums and trumpets boldly and cheerfully;
God and Saint George! Richmond and victory!
We have God and a good cause on our side. The prayers of saints and those that Richard wronged support us like high-walled fortresses. Other than Richard, even those whom we fight against would rather we won. Because who is this man they follow? Truly, gentlemen, a violent tyrant and a murderer, who rose to his high position by shedding blood and kept the position the same way. He rose to the top by means of others and then slaughtered them. He’s like a worthless stone, who only seems like a valuable gem because he’s on the throne, where he doesn’t belong. He has always been God’s enemy. And when you fight God’s enemy, God will protect you. If you struggle to bring down a tyrant, you will sleep peacefully when the tyrant is killed. When you fight against your country’s enemies, you will be paid for your efforts with your country’s wealth. If you fight to protect your wives, your wives will welcome you home as conquerors. When you free your children from the sword, your grandchildren will repay you in your old age. So, in the name of God and all the good that will come of this

battle

In the Middle Ages, noblemen taken in battle often could go free afterward if they paid the enemy. Richmond says if Richard captures him, he will die rather than pay for his freedom.

battle
, march with your flags high and draw your swords. As for me, if I fail, the only ransom I will offer the enemy is my corpse. But if I succeed, every one of you will share in the profit. Play boldly and cheerfully, drummers and trumpeters. Here’s to God and Saint George! To Richmond and victory!
Exeunt
They all exit.