Richard, Duke of Gloucester, plots to become King of England by removing his bother Clarence from the line of succession and by marrying Lady Anne Neville to secure his claim to the throne.
As Anne is led off to be crowned queen, she recalls the curses she made when Richard wooed her over the dead body of her father-in-law and realises she has become the object of her own curses.
A messenger arrives from Lord Stanley to Lord Hastings with a warning to beware of Richard, but Hastings mocks Stanley's fears and does not realise that Richard is suspicious of him.
A scrivener from London has copied out the indictment against Lord Hastings and suspects ill dealings as he reflects on his swift execution.
On the eve of the battle Richard dreams that the ghosts of all the people he has killed visit him to curse him and afterwards visit Richmond to say that they pray for his victory.
Richmond receives Stanley's letter of support and vows to defeat Richard and his followers.
At the palace in London the Duchess of York and Queen Elizabeth await the arrival of the young Prince Edward and learn that Rivers, Grey and Vaughan have been imprisoned on the orders of Richard and Buckingham.
After hearing that the princes have been killed in the tower Old Queen Margaret, Queen Elizabeth and the Duchess of York weep over the deaths that have occurred in the wars between their families and all three of them curse Richard to his face.
The sick King Edward makes peace among his quarrelling courtiers, but when Richard appears and tells them of Clarence's death, he is overcome with regret and grief.
Richmond has killed Richard and declares that the wars which have troubled England will come to an end with his marriage to the princess Elizabeth which will unite the houses of York and Lancaster.
Learning that their father is dead and that the king is dead, the children of Clarence, the Duchess of York and Queen Elizabeth mourn for them and the young Prince Edward is taken to London to be crowned.
Richard plans to secure his throne by getting rid of Anne, making a new marriage to the Princess Elizabeth, and hiring a murderer to kill the young princes in the Tower.
Lord Stanley is unable to join Richmond because his son is a hostage with Richard, but he sends word of his support to Richmond.
The two murderers who killed the princes are subsequently filled with remorse and guilt, but Richard carries on with his plan to woo their sister Elizabeth and to fight the army that is rising up against him.
The young prince Edward arrives in London and, joined by his brother the Duke of York, is taken to stay in the Tower of London.
During the battle Richard's horse has been killed from under him, but he still searches for Richmond so he can kill him.
Richard encounters Lady Anne during the funeral procession of her father-in-law and woos her by telling her that all the crimes he has committed were done out of love for her.
As Rivers, Grey and Vaughan are led away to be executed, they remember the curses of the old Queen Margaret and pray for Queen Elizabeth and the princes.
Richard accuses Hastings of treachery and as Hastings is led away to be executed, he recalls Margaret's curses and foretells a troubled future for England if Richard becomes king.
Old Queen Margaret grieves the loss of her family, asking God to avenge their murders and cursing Richard, as well as the other members of the new royal family.
Clarence is in prison and, after dreaming that he drowned and went to hell, is visited by two murderers who tell him that Richard sent them to kill him.
Richard makes an appearance before the people of London with two Bishops and a prayer book in his hand, reluctantly agreeing to the request of Buckingham, the Lord Mayor and Catesby's that he take the crown and become king.
Buckingham has been captured and as he is led off to be executed, he recalls Margaret's curses and her prophecy that Richard would betray him.
Richard sends Buckingham to spread rumours around London about Edward IV and to hint at the illegitimacy of his children.
In a street in London some citizens discuss the news of the king's death and predict trouble for a land that is ruled by a child.