Could it be Richard III?

Because of the news from the archeological dig in Leicester I couldn’t let today past with out a blog about my favourite Plantagenet.

I first became aware of Richard III after reading a book called the Maligned King by Annette Carson. I don’t often read history books for fun, even though I am a bit of a geek, but this novel really caught me. I remember feeling excited and outraged in equal measure by the claims made by Carson. I even found myself hesitating to end the book, because I already knew all about the battle of Bosworth and the only way was tragedy. Having found this book interesting, I read a few others about Richard III, including one I’ve yet to finish (The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman – for the same reason – it’s all about to go to pot for him).

Yorkist king Richard III grew up at Middleham....

Full of verve, I began to attempt to write a few short stories/plays portraying his last days. I found it a little disheartening therefore, to find out a well known actor (a Mr Richard Armitage) and screenwriter (who is also involved in the archeological dig) have teamed up to write just such a play.

On the other hand, I am incredibly excited  I’ll be able to finally watch a play/film about Richard III portraying him more accurately; as a proven soldier, an intelligent man with a mind for law and progress, a loving husband and father, a trusted Lord. Also of course, as a brutal, pragmatic, pious King, living in a time where life was short and bloody.  How they will play the missing princes card will be intriguing to see.

The difficultly of trying to bring the past to life in the present, is to find ways to get the audience to understand the mindset of Englishmen living in a world that seems alien to us now – without it becoming a history lesson. Peoples morals and beliefs were so different then; what would seem barbaric or laughable to us now, would be see as fair, just and sensible back then.

Guy of Gisbourne in Robin Hood

Having only come to love all things Richard III in the last few years, it seems serendipitous that Leicester University decided to begin the search for his remains. When they began the dig I held out little hope anything would be found beyond a bit of pottery and a pin, but today, what a find!

An intact skeleton, found within the fallen walls of Grey Friars church. An adult male, with a clear wound to the back of the head consistent with a sharp blade, and an arrowhead in the spine. Not to mention a distinct twist in the spine (scoliosis) which would have made one shoulder slightly higher than the other. Not – I repeat Not evidence of a hunchback. (Let’s face it Shakespeare really took that idea and ran with it.)Of course there’s DNA testing to be done and who knows if that will reveal this really is Richard III, I do hope so. (And I do hope they’ve got that play written, would be a great bit of timing…. )

Here’s more info about the dig: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-19561018 and article from the New Scientist.

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6 thoughts on “Could it be Richard III?

  1. Anne Lewington says:

    Yes, saw they’d found remains and thought you’d be onto it right away. I’m still awaiting the results of Italian searchers having supposedly found the remains of the ‘real’ Mona Lisa. It’s taking them a lot longer to decide if they have and anyway, the real one is, of course, Salai, Leonardo’s apprentice and lover.

    Shame about your play but it seems you have to have a foot in the door to get anyone to televise anything.

    • plantageneta says:

      Yes, I would have thought it even more difficult to prove a real ‘mona lisa’ than a real Richard III.
      I know, the play will probably stay on the back burner but I hope that one day I’ll write it and if I’ve had any writing success someone might be interested in it.

  2. Elizabethrose says:

    Just don’t let them rebuury him as a tourist attraction for Leicester.
    He has been treated badly enough without that final indignity.
    It must be York Minster.
    As for Richard Armitage – the best casting one could imagine if nothing else.

  3. Elizabethrose says:

    Anne neville is buried in Westminster Abbey with just a plaque to mark the vicinity. I suppose she could be identified from her Sister Isabel in Tewkesbury Abbey. I believe her mother was buried at Bisham and that is all gone by looks of things.
    However with the usurper lying in state one would hardly think it an appropriate place for the last true king of England.
    York minster is the proper place for both sets of remains.
    Interestingly the powers that be are very keen to put him in Leicester.
    Could it be that in this tourist backwater he will remain out of the public eye. To get rid of the embarrassment and embarrassing questions.
    Something that would never happen at York Minster with its massive visitation.
    As for a burial. Surely as a crowned monarch a State funeral is obligatory but interestingly he should also receive full military honours.
    Certainly he died on the front line defending his country from an invasion of foreign mercenaries funded by foreign cash and led by a man denied a right to the throne by the English parliament.
    He died by treason.
    York minster.
    State funeral.
    Full military honours.
    And what a marvellous occasion for York.
    People would come in droves.

  4. plantageneta says:

    I imagine as Leicester found him they want to keep him. No doubt they are thinking of boosting their own tourist numbers. I lived as a youngster near there, in a village called Husbands Bosworth, and I think that was where my interest in him began (though I didn’t realise till recently), so I have an affection for it. However he adopted the north and so I agree he should be taken back there – it was York who gave Northumberland their opinion of the treason against him and showed their loyalty. Shame he can’t be laid next to Anne though.
    I agree a proper state funeral would be wonderful – but I suppose as he’s not related to the current line they probably wouldn’t agree.

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