Tag Archives: Richard III of England

…The UnQuiet Dead…

27 Feb

History, it seems, is in question.

The Long Lost King

Richard III paid us all a (rather tardy) visit this month. And, although he was a bit skull and bones, he arrived with gusto and a bang (many to his own head). For the few of you that may be unawares, King Richard III served as king of England for only two years (1483-1485) and fell to his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. The infamous monarch’s body, lost for over five centuries, was finally discovered buried beneath an English car park in Leicester, England (BBC News)

Yes, it was a royal burial folks – complete with dirt, rocks, crushed bones, a bit of friary, and no feet. Yup, sometime between 1485 and now, someone had a Ricardian foot fetish. As unceremonious as it sounds, there is one group celebrating more than the rest – The Ricardians. More formally known as “The Richard III Society,” (yes, it’s real) the “society…aims to promote, in every possible way, research into the life and times of Richard III, and to secure a reassessment of the material relating to this period, and of the role of this monarch in English history” (www.richardiii.net/aboutus.php). And now, with a few newly discovered facts from the physical analysis of the bones, Richard the III, at least in the eyes of the Ricardians, has a chance at a new legacy. The bones show no signs of a withered hand, as famously depicted in the Shakespeare play, nor is there evidence of a humped back – just a curvature of the spine caused by severe scoliosis (BBC NEWS)

That being said, can the Ricardians rewrite history? And, more importantly, should they rewrite history? As head of the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, Professor Lin Foxhall, states, “Our archaeological research does not tell us anything about the character of Richard III, and of course his physical condition and appearance were not a manifestation of his character” (CNN).  Although it is a generally accepted fact that Richard III’s historical reputation was indeed subject to much slander and exaggeration by The Tudors (whose reign followed that of Richard’s) and by Shakespeare himself, it would be far fetched to say that “Richard’s skeleton somehow vindicates his historical reputation” (CNN).  Even if one were to absolve Richard of the murder of his nephews, there is nothing to say of the fact that he illegitimized his nephews’ claim to the thrown and then proceeded to steal the crown for himself (CNN).

 Although Richard III may not be the villainous man as represented by The Tudors and Shakespeare, he is still an infamous character in Medieval English History. With this historic discovery, it will be interesting to see what comes of a more open-minded reassessment of the monarch’s reputation. Villain or victim, we can all be certain of one thing: the dead never stay quiet. It seems clear that, after having spent five centuries lost underground, Richard III had a bone to pick with history. 

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