Saturday, February 09, 2013

KING RICHARD III


Many in Britain would have seen the fascinating Channel 4 TV programme on the discovery of the skeleton of King Richard III - a much maligned monarch or an evil monster according to who you believe. My daughter and I tend to favour the former. History is always written by the victors and Henry Tudor employed many spin doctors to legitimize his victory at Bosworth in 1485 and his subsequent reign based on a very thin claim. Shakespeare curried favour to the last Tudor (Elizabeth I) when he wrote his play, "Richard III".

With Richard's death it was given that the last of the Plantagenets had passed away - however there is a curious story that his illegitimate son lived on and is buried at a derelict church about one mile from the photograph in my previous post.

Now that the archaeologists who excavated Richard's skeleton have his DNA there is talk of them excavating the grave at this church to see if the story can be proven.

Since "Richard of Eastwell" died childless, our present Queen is secure in her succession!

10 comments:

herhimnbryn said...

Found at last. I just wish he could be laid to rest in York, as was his wish.

Eastwell is special to me. I was asked, agreed and then given three silver beans!

Tom said...

Did you see that the powers-that-be in York minster are quite happy that the remains of Richard III should stay at Leicester?

As far as the present queen's right to the throne is concerned, I recall Tony Robinson (the grotty servant in Blackadder) doing a TV programme in which it turns out that the real King of England is actually an Australian sheep farmer.

Avus said...

HHnB:
Afraid it looks like Leicester Cathedral for his re-interment - after all they financed much of the archaeological wossnames.
I will keep you updated on your "special" Eastwell.

Tom:
Yes, York is happy. Indeed it was also a centre for Richard's Lancastrian ememies. Westminster Cathedral would have been appropriate - laid to rest alongside his wife, Anne Neville and amongst other English monarchs.
Royal succession is a very archane subject - we are now actually ruled by Germans!

Raimo Kangasniemi said...

Its not actually known whether this Richard Plantagenet who died in 1550 was childless. None has been ever mentioned, but that doesn't mean that he couldn't have had any. Him being illegitimate closed his path to the throne anyway.

Richard's one certain illegitimate son, John, might - for all we know - have had children of his own, although none are recorded. John was born in the late 1460s and either was executed or died in prison, perhaps as late as 1499.

Avus said...

Raimo:
Thanks for visiting - and your comment, very relevant.
I visited your "Luetta" blog site and note you share with me an interest in Chinese poetry/philosophy. My particular favourite is Wang Wei who, I feel, has a quieter tone than the more well known Li Po and Tu Fu

Roderick Robinson said...

Inevitably The Guardian supported a rather different view of the discovered bones and there were some predictable letters written. As an anti-monarchist I took the view that having a royal family had finally paid off. Because the royals are so well documented, this made the DNA evidence irrefutable.

I think you're being a bit hard on WS. An anti-EI play would have been a sure way of ensuring the detachment of his play-writing head from his pen-wielding body. More than that it shows that people in power shouldn't interfere with the literary process. EI is said to have suggested (ie, ordered) a play based on Falstaff in love. These days we see the net result. Richard III is shown regularly whereas The Merry Wives of Windsor is a rarer bird. Certainly I've never seen it though I have watched Falstaff somewhat glumly on telly (in 1972) in the days before I voluntarily had myself inoculated against Verdi.

It may be that the general public, knowing nothing about history (eg, me and a few others) is left with an impression of RIII as red in tooth and claw. But I would assume that paid historians wouldn't regard WS as a primary source and would have seen through the spin doctors. But where's the definitive text that proves RIII was much maligned? If I had to lay a bet - a pointless exercise given I don't bet and history for me is a closed book - I'd say he was probably half-bad, half-good.

What is inescapable is that RIII is a good play, or if you prefer, a good pantomime. What WS contrives is to present a superb villain, whose every wicked thought is made available to us the audience, yet to leave us in an ambiguous state of mind when he gets his come-uppance. Best line (re. Anne): I will have her but will not keep her long.

And recent events have shown that RIII, even posthumously, had an eye for location, location, location. You drive, I drive, where would we be without car-parks? Better there than somewhere holy. And surely WS's RIII was a born and bred Humvee driver? And that revelation might have improved the best known line - a touch banal I've always thought as it stands.

Avus said...

RR:
Enjoyed your comment. Like you, I enjoy WS's Richard lll, as a play. I agree that we cannot know the true character of the man and there was probably a "bit of both" about him. We also cannot visit our present mores on the past, which many seem to want to do.
He is still an interesting subject who would be good for a "detective" story - indeed he already has been - have you read "The Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey?

Lucy said...

I blame Laurence Olivier myself. And not just for RIII.

Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

That is SO English & deliciously fascinating. Thanks - love the photo!

Avus said...

Lucy:
What do you blame Olivier for? Please tell.

Kay:
Well, it is very much the "Matter of Britain" and that is why I find our history so fascinating.