Patterico's Pontifications

2/4/2013

Richard III: In the Deep Bosom of a Parking Lot Buried

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:04 pm

Washington Post:

A team of archaeologists confirmed Monday that ancient remains found under a parking lot belong to long-lost King Richard III, successfully ending a search that sparked a modern-day debate about the legacy of the reputed tyrant.

Details of the findings were released hours after DNA tests came in late Sunday. The 500-year-old remains were discovered five months ago, using ancient maps and records to uncover the ruins of the old friary where Richard III was laid to rest.

“It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that beyond reasonable doubt, the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in September 2012 is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England,” Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist of the University of Leicester, said at the announcement Monday in the city 90 miles northwest of London.

Fascinating stuff. The article confirms that the skeleton “indicated a personage who was well nourished, who had suffered cranial trauma during battle and who exhibited spine damage from scoliosis, a type of curvature of the spine — all signs that pointed to Richard III.”

Richard III seemed a saint when he most played the devil, and considered “conscience” a word for cowards. (At least, as portrayed by Shakespeare.) He would have made a great Internet troll.

29 Comments

  1. My kingdom for a Twitter sock puppet!

    Comment by Patterico (9c670f) — 2/4/2013 @ 11:04 pm

  2. What? I don’t get a tip of the chapeau for this?

    (Just bustin’ yer chops, Patrick, in a good-natured way.)

    Comment by Chuck Bartowski (ad7249) — 2/4/2013 @ 11:23 pm

  3. He would have made a great Internet troll.

    or a white Obumbles…

    and Chuck? people have been beaten for better puns than that.

    Comment by redc1c4 (403dff) — 2/4/2013 @ 11:38 pm

  4. Alas, poor Richard! The job that the MSM of his day did on him for Henry Tyder still stands. Once the media meme is established, the truth is silenced. The fact that Henry Tyder was a proto-type Stalin is overlooked and Richard, a man who instituted reforms and pardoned his foes ( see the Standleys) becomes an all-time villian. If only Obama has a Shakespeare, Romney’s reputation would never be restored.

    Comment by Michael M. Keohane (0b4d8b) — 2/5/2013 @ 3:31 am

  5. Richard III is indeed far more fascinating than Shakespeare gave him credit for. It is hard to really appreciate the story of The Little Princes without appreciating what it did to that country when its monarch, Edward IV, decided to marry a commoner. And secretly to boot. After years of the civil war among the magnates known to us as the War of the Roses, a minority sovereign manipulated by his mother’s grasping relatives was seen as more years of turmoil.

    So the scoliosis was real and not just an opportunity to use physical affliction to imply a dark soul. Interesting.

    For a great take on how the Tudor period viewed such physical deformities read CJ Sansome’s great series featuring the lawyer Sir Matthew Shardlake during the reign of Henry VIII. Great historical mysteries that will make you think you are at the Inns of Court and dealing with all the scoundrels.

    Comment by Robin (801f44) — 2/5/2013 @ 4:01 am

  6. FWIW, some academic articles speak kindly of the dead King for his political goals, as well as, support his claim to have been legitimate King (heir to the throne). That the Tudors (and Shakespeare) demonized him many not have been accurate and more a product of the victors write the history..

    Comment by Rodney King's Spirit (951136) — 2/5/2013 @ 6:16 am

  7. At least King R. was out on the field of battle right alongside his troops when he was killed. That says a little something about him and his character. Leaders (whether political or military) used to put their money where their mouths were, knowing full well it might well turn out bloody.

    Comment by elissa (94e93f) — 2/5/2013 @ 7:04 am

  8. I love this kind of historical forensics stuff. Another recent entry in the English version of the “It’s always the last place you look” Dept. is this:

    The site of where the Battle of Hastings has been commemorated for the last 1,000 years is in the wrong place, it has been claimed.
    Ever since the 1066 battle that led to the Norman Conquest, history has recorded the event as happening at what is now Battle Abbey in the East Sussex town.
    But although some 10,000 men are believed to have been killed in the historic conflict, no human remains or artefects from the battle have ever been found at the location.
    This has given rise to several historians to examine alternative sites for the battle that was a decisive victory for William the Conqueror and saw the death of King Harold.
    Now historian and author John Grehan believes he has finally found the actual location – on a steep hill one mile north west of Battle. It is documented that Harold assembled his English army on Caldbec Hill before advancing on Senlac Hill (Battle Hill) a mile away to meet the invading Normans.
    But Mr Grehan believes his research shows Harold never left his defensive hilltop position and the Normans took the battle to the English.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/archaeology/9632922/Are-bodies-of-10000-lost-warriors-from-Battle-of-Hastings-buried-in-this-field.html

    Comment by elissa (94e93f) — 2/5/2013 @ 7:19 am

  9. Machiavelli did much the same treatment, for Cesare Borgia,

    Comment by narciso (3fec35) — 2/5/2013 @ 7:21 am

  10. If you were a playwright during the reign of Elizabeth Tudor( Gloriana), you would be well advised to curry favor with the Lady. By the way, I quite agree that the works of C.J. Sansome are well researched and make fascinating reading.

    Comment by Bar Sinister (664312) — 2/5/2013 @ 7:36 am

  11. and Chuck? people have been beaten for better puns than that.

    At least you got the joke, red. Although “joke” is probably a stretch.

    Comment by Chuck Bartowski (11fb31) — 2/5/2013 @ 8:07 am

  12. knowing full well it might well turn out bloody

    Which supports Hemingway’s belief that the only sports worthy of man’s participation are the one’s that involve deadly risk – all others are just games.
    The political battles of that day were most usually bloody affairs, carried out frequently by surrogates, but quite often by the principals themselves.

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 2/5/2013 @ 8:56 am

  13. What was wrong with the general histiorical opinion of Richard III (as portrayed by Shakespeare) was written about many many years ago in a book called “The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey, which I read sometime in the 1980s or 1990s. I think I had it for some years before I read it after I came across it in a closet. I am not sure how I got it.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Daughter-Time-Josephine-Tey/dp/0140009906/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1360092455&sr=8-3&keywords=%22DAUGHTER+OF+TIME%22

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Daughter-Time-Josephine-Tey/dp/0140009906/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1360092455&sr=8-3&keywords=%22DAUGHTER+OF+TIME%22

    From a review: The author also examines the 1934 exhumation of the two children who were first dug up in 1674.

    Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/The-Daughter-of-Time-ebook/dp/B00AB194RS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1360092455&sr=8-2&keywords=%22DAUGHTER+OF+TIME%22

    Does it benefit you if someone buys from a link or does someone need to use the search box?

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (d22d64) — 2/5/2013 @ 11:33 am

  14. Shakespeare made Richard a complicated character: a valiant and powerful warrior, if a villain.

    He credits Richard with killing the Duke of Somerset at the first battle of St. Albans, and shows him killing Lord Clifford, who had killed his father and brother.

    Richard’s famous line at the battle of Bosworth is followed by this exchange:

    “Withdraw, my lord! I’ll help you to a horse.”

    “Slave, I have set my life upon a cast
    And I will stand the hazard of the die!”

    which means “I took the chance – I fight till I win or am killed right here.”

    As to his historic reputation: the evidence against him is not conclusive. But it’s fairly strong. The alleged illegitimacy of Edward’s children was a very dubious basis to claim the throne – especially as he also bypassed the claims of the two children of his other older brother Clarence. The judicial murders of Lord Hastings and the Queen’s brother and son don’t look very good. The disappearance of Edward’s sons in Richard’s custody was very convenient for him.

    Excuses can be made, but the overall picture is too damning.

    Comment by Rich Rostrom (553877) — 2/5/2013 @ 1:07 pm

  15. For those whose interest is piqued by this:

    Richard’s history/reputation as a villain is grounded in a thoroughly despicable piece of Tudor propoganda penned by Sir Thomas More (the ‘Man For All Seasons’) on behalf of Henry VIII. Interestingly Henry VII (the victor at Bosworth) seems to have never accused Richard re: the disappearance/deaths of ‘the Two Princes’.

    Shakespere wrote during the reign of Elizabth Tudor and must have used More’s work as a template. To do otherwise (whatever his personal view might have been) might well have meant a visit from Marlowe’s assassins. His play firmly set the historical view of Richard as an arch-villain.

    The Tey book first caught my interest in Richard but, IMHO, a much better read – and more accurate view of that England and it’s politics and personalities – is Sharon Kay Penman’s “Sunne in Spleandour”

    Perhaps this new find will begin ‘the winter of discontent’ for Richard’s much reviled ghost.

    Comment by old bob (890e0f) — 2/5/2013 @ 1:51 pm

  16. Henry Tudor didn’t press the point because the “Tower Princes” would have had precedence over Henry’s claim.

    Can’t have that.

    Comment by mojo (8096f2) — 2/5/2013 @ 2:08 pm

  17. Does it benefit you if someone buys from a link or does someone need to use the search box?

    Sammy, I think that the amazon URL has to have “tag=patterspontif” in it in order for this site to be credited with the sale.

    Comment by JVW (4826a9) — 2/5/2013 @ 2:13 pm

  18. mojo:

    That is why Tudor had as much reason to ‘disappear’ the kids as Richard. More reason actually, as this provided a justification to renew the Lancastrian cause.

    Comment by old bob (890e0f) — 2/5/2013 @ 2:44 pm

  19. Henry Tudor didn’t press the point because the “Tower Princes” would have had precedence over Henry’s claim.

    Not really. He officially took the throne by right of conquest, so even if Edward V had been found alive and well he would not have been king. For the same reason his sister, Henry’s wife, was queen consort, not queen in her own right. Still, it suited him for them to be dead, which is why Tey claims that they were alive when he took the throne, and that if anyone killed them it was him.

    Comment by Milhouse (15b6fd) — 2/5/2013 @ 3:07 pm

  20. FWIW – My theory is that they were killed earlier by one of Richard’s enemies (possibly Buckingham). Thus providing Tudor with the ‘bloody shirt’ to justify renewing the York/Lancaster feud.

    Comment by old bob (890e0f) — 2/5/2013 @ 3:38 pm

  21. More reading for those interested:

    “The Last Plantangenet” by Thomas B. Costain.

    And for the military/battle analysts “Tewkesbury 1471″ and “Bosworth 1485″ by Christopher Gravett.

    Yeah, I got entirely too very involved in this about a dozen years ago.

    Comment by old bob (890e0f) — 2/5/2013 @ 3:59 pm

  22. Yeah, I got entirely too very involved in this about a dozen years ago.

    I read up on it in 1985, when there was a surge of interest around the 500th anniversary. I even attended a meeting of the Richard III society, before losing interest.

    Comment by Milhouse (15b6fd) — 2/5/2013 @ 4:58 pm

  23. Richard III Society seemed too Quixotic for me – one and a half shelves of books, however ……

    Comment by old bob (890e0f) — 2/5/2013 @ 6:20 pm

  24. The whole Plantagenet series by Thomas Costain is great. Probably my favorite history writer.

    Comment by SPQR (768505) — 2/5/2013 @ 6:38 pm

  25. John Tudor was a good left-handed starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 80s. (That would be the 1980s.)

    Comment by Elephant Stone (f12567) — 2/5/2013 @ 6:46 pm

  26. Buried under a parking lot? I didn’t realize that the Teamsters Union went back that far.

    Comment by pst314 (ae6bd1) — 2/6/2013 @ 7:29 am

  27. I agree with old Bob’s comment about the princes could have been killed earlier by the Duke of Buckingham who was one time supporter of Richard’s and he was executed for treason agains Richard 111 as i think Buckingham went over to the faction Lancaster. I don’t think that Richard had the princes murdered another candidate could have been Henry V11. later on in Henry’s reign you had an uprising lead by Perkin Warbeck who said he was the youngest of the princes in the tower the duke of york and another so called imposter who’s name escapes me who said he was the son of the duke of clarence Richard 111′s brother. I don’t think Richard was a monster as Shakespeare made him in his play killing everyone that got in his way to his main issue the throne. it’s a great play and i admired especially Laurence Olivier’s characterization in his film. Tudor propaganda to blacken Richard’s name lets not forget when Shakespeare wrote the play Elizabeth 1 was Queen and she was the granddaughter of Henry V11 a certain amount of appeasement i think.

    Comment by Carrole Heath (cd178c) — 2/7/2013 @ 10:40 am

  28. When did Sir Thomas More acquire any principles? Or he didn’t?

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (d22d64) — 2/7/2013 @ 4:44 pm

  29. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me dinner simply because I discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this issue here on your web site.

    Comment by Get Your Ex-Boyfriend Back By Texting Him - No Joke!!! (731733) — 2/9/2013 @ 3:39 am

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