Royal progress northward

Richard III entered the city through Micklegate Bar on 29 August 1483 to a spectacular welcome of pageantry, speeches and decoration throughout the streets.
Richard III entered the city through Micklegate Bar on 29 August 1483 to a spectacular welcome of pageantry, speeches and decoration throughout the streets.
© Carolyn Donahue

Associated places

North-South Competition


7th July 1483 - 8th May 1485


Soon after the magnificent ceremony he went on royal progress northwards to be seen as king across his realm. The journey culminated in a spectacular reception in York, where the king and his entourage arrived on 29 August 1483.

Richard spent three weeks in the city, a stay which was filled with festivity, including welcoming speeches, pageants, gift-giving and feasting. The city had been warned of the royal visit a little over a month earlier but received detailed instructions of the scale and style of display expected just a few days before Richard's arrival. The king's secretary, John Kendale, wrote to the city council to urge them to put on the most elaborate pageants and finest speeches they could. This was not just to welcome the king but to impress the great lords travelling with him.

In particular, an element of north-south competition was used to inspire extra effort in the display, with emphasis placed on the need to welcome the king with a flourish which would dazzle the southern lords in the royal party. The city government was required to organise the pageantry, including dressing in their ceremonial scarlet to officially receive the king, and ordinary citizens were asked to hang colourful fabrics from their homes to brighten the streets as the king passed through. Much of the display was based on traditional civic pageantry which occurred throughout the year regardless of royal visits.


Instructions from the king's secretary on pageantry in York, 24 August 1483

"'In all their progresse [the king and queen] have beyn worshipfully ressayved with pageantes and other… but this I advyse you, as honourably as your wisdomes can imagyne, to ressayve hym and the quene at their commyng, dispose you to do as well pageants with soch good speches as can goodly, thys short warnyng considered, be devised, and under suche forme as Master Lancastre of the kynges counsell, this brynger, shall sumwhet advertise you of my mynd in that behalve, as in hangyng the streits through which the king grace shall come with clothes of arras, tapistre werk and other, for ther commen many sothern lordes and men of worship with them, wich woll marke gretly your ressayving their graces. Me nedeth not thus to advise you, for I doubte not ye have provided therfore better than I can advyse you how be it on my ffeith I shewe you thus of good hert… Scribled in hast the xxiiij day of August at Not[tingham] with the hande of your servaunt and hertly lover, John Kendale secretory.' "

York House Books, vol 2 p. 713

Richard III's entertainments in York, 1483

"'Wishing therefore to display in the North, where he had spent most of his time previously, the superior royal rank, which he acquired for himself… he left the royal city of London and passing through to Windsor, Oxford and Coventry came at length to York… he arranged splendid and highly expensive feasts and entertainments to attract to himself the affection of many people.'"

N. Pronay and J. Cox (eds.) The Crowland Chronicle Continuations: 1459-1486 (London, 1986) p.161