A tomb, a tomb, my kingdom for a tomb.

The saga or what to do with the remains of Richard III have taken yet another twist. Firstly was the granting of a judicial review into the final burial location of the king by a group called the Plantagenet alliance.
The Alliance are rivaling the Richard III society for “steady on a bit” around the King. They claim to be the “only ones who can speak for him¹” the reason for this claim is down to the fact they are non direct descendents of the King their membership which the BBC states is around a dozen or so think that because they’re related indirectly to Richard then this gives them the right to speak for him. However this standpoint is easily refuted by the annoying fact that non direct descendents of Richard quite possibly number the millions. What it has done though it throw all the preparation into chaos. While I don’t for a minute think they will get their wish to see Richard Buried in York which was allegedly his wish but i can’t abide by the argument that Leicester only want the remains for tourism.

This argument isn’t really that good, yes having the tomb would generate more tourism for the cathedral but Leicester already has an attachment to Richard, he spent his last night in the city and it was Leicester where his body was placed. There are already plans to create a museum to Richard and the task to find his remains and if he were in Leicester it would be free to see the tomb and not cost 10-15 pounds to see. It also flies against statements made by York Minster that they don’t want the remains and would rather see them in Leicester per the terms of the original exhumation license. Other arguments from the alliance aren’t worth mentioning more than once since they really are grasping at straws (for the record they’re here)

Now the design for the tomb has been unveiled this has added another layer of controversy on an already confusing story. The tomb is a large limestone block with the cross carved rather deep into it. The block is placed on the white rose of York and in the black border is Richard’s name, dates and motto. The head of the Richard III society has called it inspiring but Phillipa Langley has come out against it and announced £40,000 of funding from the society has been withdrawn. Which is odd since the Cathedral wasn’t asking for the money in the first place.

Langley has claimed it’s because the tomb is aimed at a Cathedral and not a Medieval warrior king. Which is correct since a tomb reminiscent of the period would look out of place in what is a Victorian Cathedral which looks more like a large parish church than a Cathedral.

In all this you can’t help but think those that want to do their best for Richard are infact doing the polar opposite. Let Richard rest in peace, and let the rest of us enjoy his legacy and learn more about him, without hysterics from more vested interests.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-23929989

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July 19: The loss of the Mary Rose

July 1, 1542, Portsmouth, England.

The flagship of Vice Admiral George Carew, the 91 gun carrack, Mary Rose heels over suddenly to port, as the crew scramble to safety water rushes through the open gun ports accelerating the sinking, the upper decks are in chaos as sailors try desperately to survive over the noise of cannons crashing across the decks, the giant brick oven collapsing and the moans and cries of the men crushed under them.

The Mary Rose as shown in the Anthony Roll

Those who made it to the open decks were doomed, heavy anti boarding nets covered the decks, the men trapped under it unable to break free were dragged under with the ship. as the hulk of the ship slipped between the waves, of 400 men, only 35 survived.

Years of modifications to the ship meant she was riding too low in the water, and as she attempted a tight turn the ship caught the breeze and leaned over to the point the water rushed in to the dangerously close to the waterline gun ports.
Edward Hall’s Chronicle gave the reason for the sinking as being caused by

“to[o] much foly … for she was laden with much ordinaunce, and the portes left open, which were low, & the great ordinaunce unbreached, so that when the ship should turne, the water entered, and sodainly she sanke.” 

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the ship, for example the belief that it is named after the sister of Henry VIII. There is no evidence to support this, however during this period it was uncommon to find a ship named for someone. Most ship names held religious connotations, such as Grace Dieu and a similar ship to the Mary Rose, Peter Pomegranate was named after St Peter and the family badge of Catherine of Aragon.

Another myth that won’t go away is that this was the first engagement the Mary Rose fought in. By the time of the sinking the ship was already a veteran, having fought her first action in 1512, 33 years before the sinking. Although it was practically rebuilt in the 1530’s.

Although efforts were made to raise the ship almost immediately after her sinking, the angle at which she settled ruled out any reasonable attempt at salvage. The wreck remained in the Solent, time and tide resulted in the exposed parts of the ship deteriorating and the shifting sand buried what was left. Because of the changing sands the wreck was rediscovered in 1836 before being lost under the sands once more until 1971.

Following fundraising efforts Mary Rose once again rose above the waves and the long process of conservation began.

The Mary Rose was an archaeological goldmine, artifacts gave an intimate insight into the life of an ordinary Tudor sailor. Her remains and the artifacts can be seen at the new Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth

July 18, 1792: The US Navy loses a Father.

“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.”

On the third floor of  No. 19 Rue de Tournon, Paris, a body is found face down. That body is the mortal remains of John Paul Jones, a hero to some, a pirate to many.

Born in a small cottage on the South west coast of Scotland overlooking the Solway Firth on July 6, 1747 Jones began his career at sea joining trade and slave ships out of Whitehaven, Cumbria.

John Paul Jones

However John Paul Jones is more known for his actions during the revolutionary war. As Captain of the USS Ranger he was ordered to France carrying dispatches telling of General Burgoyne’s surrender to the commissioners in Paris. On the voyage over, two British prizes were captured. Ranger sailed from Brest 10 April 1778, for the Irish Sea and four days later captured a prize between the Scilly Isles and Cape Clear. On 17 April, she took another prize and sent her back to France.

On April 23, 1778, Jones and 30 of his crew landed at his old stomping ground of Whitehaven. As reported by the Lloyds evening post:

“Whitehaven, April 23.

LATE last night, or early this morning, a number of armed men (to the amount of
thirty) landed privately at this place, by two boats, from an American privateer, as
appears from one of the people now in custody. Whether he was left through
accident, or escaped by design, is yet uncertain.

Thus much has however been proved, that a little after three o’clock this morning he
rapped at several doors in Marlborough street, (adjoining one of the piers) and
informed them that fire had been [benn] let to one of the ships in the Harbour,
matches were laid in several others; the whole would be soon in a blaze, and the
town also destroyed; that he was one belonging to the privateer, but had escaped for
the purpose of saving, if possible, the town and shipping from destruction. The alarm
was immediately spread, and his account proved too true. The Thompson, Captain
Richard Johnson, a new vessel, and one of the finest ever built here, was in a flame.
It was low water, consequently all the shipping in the Port was in the most imminent
danger, and the vessel on which they had begun the diabolical work, lying close to
one of the steaths, there was the greatest reason to fear that the flames would, from
it, be communicated to the town. The scene was too horrible to admit of any further
description; we shall therefore only add to this part of this alarming story, that by an
uncommon exertion, the fire was extinguished before it reached the rigging of the
ship, and thus, in a providential manner, prevented all the dreadful consequences
which might have ensued.

The man who remained on shore was examined by the Magistrates, Merchants, &c.
about eight o’clock in the morning. The following is the purport of his affidavit:

“The Ranger privateer is commanded by John Paul Jones, fitted out at Piscataqua, in New-England, mounted by 18-six pounders, and 6 swivels, but is pierced for twenty guns. She has on board between 140 and 150 men; sailed from Piscataqua for Brest the 1st of November, 1777, arrived at Nantz the 2d of December [November]. Took in the passage two brigs, one commanded by Captain Richards, the other by Captain Goldfinch.

“Sailed from Nantz for Quiberon Bay; lay there about three weeks and returned to
Brest; left that Port about three weeks ago, in which time she has taken one ship
from London to Dublin, (having on board Gen. Irwin’s baggage) and sent her to Brest.
She also took and sunk a brig laden with flax-feed, a schooner with barley and oats,
and a sloop from Dublin to London, in ballast.

“On Sunday, or Monday night, from the intelligence she gained by a fishing boat, she
sailed into Belfast Lough, with an intent to attack an armed vessel, (the Drake sloop
of war) stood within half gun shot of her, hailed her, and then stood out again.”
David Freeman, the person who was examined and gave the above information,
says, that the name of the Commander of the Ranger is John Paul Jones, the First
Lieutenant Thomas Simpson, Second Lieutenant Elisha Hall, Sailing-Master David
Cullen, Lieutenant of Marines Samuel Willinsford.

The above John Paul Jones, alias John Paul, it further appears, served his
apprenticeship to the sea in a vessel called the Friendship, belonging to this port,
was afterwards in the employ of some Merchants here, latterly had a brig out of
Kircudbright, and is well known by many people in this town. David Freeman, it is
said, has also declared, that the said Paul Jones commanded the party which landed
here this morning, and was himself on shore.

While this infernal business was transacting, the ship laid to with her head to the
Northward, distant about two miles, until the boats put off to go on board, which was
between three and four o’clock. By this time some of the guns at the Half-moonbattery were loaded, two of which were fired at the boats, but without the desired
effect. The boats then fired their signal guns, and the ship immediately tacked and
stood towards them till they got along-side, and then made sail to the North
Westward.

The Incendiaries had spiked most of the guns of both our batteries, several matches
were found on board different vessels, and other combustible matter in different parts
of the Harbour.

It appears that this infernal plan, unprecedented, except in the Annals of John the
Painter, was laid at Brest, where, for a considerable sum of money, Paul, or Jones,
(the latter is only an addition to his name,) engaged to burn the shipping, and town of
Whitehaven; for which purpose he was convoyed through the Channel by a French
frigate of 38 guns.

A number of Expresses have been dispatched to all the capital sea ports in the
kingdom where any depredations are likely to be made; all strangers in this town are,
by an order of the Magistrates, to be secured and examined: Similar notices have
been forwarded through the country, &c. and, in short, every caution taken that the
present alarming affair could suggest.

The privateer is the same ship which chased the Hussar cruizer last week, but the
cutter, or smack, did not belong to her.

They took three people away with them and staid some time in a public-house on the
Old Quay.

The Hussar, Capt. Gurley, and other vessels, are sent to different ports in Ireland
express with the news.

There has been almost a continual meeting at Haile’s Coffee-room to-day; a number
of men are raising for the defence of the town by subscription; and the forts, guns,
&c. it is expected, will now be put into proper condition

The effect was shocking to the people of Britain, who believed themselves safe, if this pirate can attack a port deep in the heart of the British Isles what could a large force do. Coastal defenses were improved and more men rushed to join the militias. Ships were dispatched to the Irish sea in an attempt to stop Jones. One of them was a 14 gun Brig, HMS Drake.

After an hours battle she too was captured by Jones who then sailed down the west coast of Ireland and returned to France with her prizes in tow on May 8.

Jones was then placed in command of the Bonhomme Richard and on August 14, as a vast French and Spanish invasion fleet approached England, he provided a diversion by heading for Ireland at the head a flotilla including the 36-gun Alliance, 32-gun Pallas, 12-gun Vengeance, and Le Cerf, and two privateers, Monsieur and Granville. 

Sailing up and over Scotland news of this force terrified the east coast of England On September 23, 1779, the squadron met a large merchant convoy off the coast of Flamborough Head, east Yorkshire. The 50-gun British frigate HMS Serapis and the 22-gun hired ship Countess of Scarborough.

The Serapis engaged the Bonhomme Richard, and soon afterwards, the Alliance fired, from a considerable distance, at the Countess. Quickly recognizing that he could not win a battle of big guns, and with the wind dying, Jones made every effort to lock Richard and Serapis together during a lull a taunt from one of the British sailors asking if he gave in prompted Jones to remark that “I have yet begun to fight.”

The fighting was fierce and both ships were badly damaged, the ensign on the Bonhomme Richard was shot away one of the officers of the Serapis asked if Jones had struck his colors, Jones remarked that “I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike.”

With his shipped locked in a deadly duel and the Alliance raking his ship with shot the captain of the Serapis Captain Pearson surrendered his ship to Jones. While the crew transferred over and following desperate attempts at repair the Bonhomme Richard was beyond repair and allowed to sink. Jones then sailed his battered fleet to the Netherlands.

Following the exploits in British waters Jones’ career began to falter, with commands and ships passing him by he entered the service of the Imperial Russian Navy, again he was passed over for commands, and political enemies plotted against him, inventing charges of “Sexual misconduct” which were disproved.

Leaving Russia a year after joining he offered his services to Sweden who eventually declined. Ending up in Paris he was given an assignment to secure the release of US captives held by the Dey of Algiers. However Jones died before carrying out this duty.

A small gathering of servants and Friends accompanied his body the 4 miles to  Saint Louis Cemetery Jones’s the body was preserved in alcohol and interred in a lead coffin “in the event that should the United States decide to claim his remains, they might more easily be identified.” where with the passage of time and the French revolution his final resting place was forgotten.

That isn’t the end of Jones’ story

In 1905 the by U.S. Ambassador to France Gen. Horace Porter, who had searched for 6 years for Jones’ remains exhumed a number of lead coffins. The preserved body was identified and an autopsy conducted. Brought back to America on the USS Brooklyn On April 24, 1906, Jones’s coffin was installed in Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, On January 26, 1913, the Captain’s remains were finally re-interred in a magnificent bronze and marble sarcophagus at the Naval Academy Chapel

“The future naval officers, who live within these walls, will find in the career of the man whose life we this day celebrate, not merely a subject for admiration and respect, but an object lesson to be taken into their innermost hearts. . . . Every officer . . . should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows.”

US President Theodore Roosevelt, in an address to The US Naval Academy, Annapolis (24 April 1906).

Sources
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Paul_Jones
http://www.kirkbeanheritagesociety.org.uk/                                                                 Account of the Whitehaven Raid http://www.jpj.demon.co.uk/whitehaven.pdf

On this day: July 6 Thomas More is executed.

July 6,1535. Tower Hill, London.

Following a complete breakdown in their relationship, and his refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy. Former Lord chancellor, scholar and humanist Sir Thomas More is beheaded upon Tower Hill, London.

A leading adviser to King Henry VIII More assumed the role of Lord Chancellor following the removal of Cardinal Wolsey, More dealt with the issues of state with speed and efficiency. He was also the main opponent of the reformation seeing the works of Luther and Tyndal as heresy and authorizing the burning of many heretics. He also guided Henry VIII in the authoring of ‘Assertio’ to which the Pope granted Henry the title of Defender of the Faith.

As the conflict over supremacy between the Papacy and the King reached its height, More continued to remain unmoved in supporting the supremacy of the Pope over that of the Henry. In 1530, More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking Pope Clement VII to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine, and also quarreled with Henry VIII over the heresy laws. In 1532, More asked Henry to accept his resignation, which he did.

On 13 April 1534, More was asked to appear before a commission and swear his allegiance to the parliamentary Act of Succession. More accepted Parliament’s right to declare Anne Boleyn the legitimate Queen of England, using the precedent of “qui tacet consentire videtur” (who (is) silent is seen to consent.)

Unfortunately for More the Panel was stacked heavily in the Kings favor with both Anne Boleyn’s Father and Brother on the panel the jury took only 15 minutes to find More guilty of Treason, the punishment was to be hanged drawn and quartered, although Henry commuted it to beheading.

The execution took place on 6 July 1535. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, he is widely quoted as saying: “I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lieutenant, see me safe up and for my coming down, I can shift for myself”; while on the scaffold he declared that he died “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

More’s body was buried in an unmarked grave in St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower precinct and his head affixed upon a pike over Tower bridge. The head was later rescued by his daughter Margaret and is said to rest in the Roper Family Vault in St. Dunstan’s Canterbury.

Sir Thomas More, by Hans Holbein the younger

On this day: July 3, 1940

Mers-el-Kébir, Algeria.

Following the French surrender and armistice with Germany, the British were concerned that Germany may gain control of the French navy, adding their fleet to the Kreigsmarine would tip the naval balance of power in the Axis’ favour resulting in additional difficulty in receiving supplies vital to continue the war.

The British government feared the possibility despite the fact that the Armistice terms at Article 8 paragraph 2 stated that the German government “solemnly and firmly declared that it had no intention of making demands regarding the French fleet during the peace negotiations” and similar terms existed in the armistice with Italy. Furthermore, on 24 June, Admiral Darlan had given assurances to Churchill against such a possibility. However Churchill ordered that the French Fleet should either turn themselves over or be neutralised.

The fleet were dispersed in various ports in the mediterranean and in Portsmouth and Plymouth. Those ships were simply boarded during the night of the 3rd, although the French put up limited resistance resulting in the deaths of 3 Royal Navy personnel  and one French sailor.

On July 3, 1940 the greatest concentration of French ships were at the port of Mers-el-Kébir, Algeria. Force H consisting of the carrier HMS Ark Royal and accompanied by the battlecruiser HMS Hood, Battleships HMS Valiant and HMS Resolution and accompanying destroyers and cruisers. On arrival the commander of force H, Admiral James Somerville delivered the ultimatum to the commander of the French Fleet:

It is impossible for us, your comrades up to now, to allow your fine ships to fall into the power of the German enemy. We are determined to fight on until the end, and if we win, as we think we shall, we shall never forget that France was our Ally, that our interests are the same as hers, and that our common enemy is Germany. Should we conquer we solemnly declare that we shall restore the greatness and territory of France. For this purpose we must make sure that the best ships of the French Navy are not used against us by the common foe. In these circumstances, His Majesty’s Government have instructed me to demand that the French Fleet now at Mers el Kebir and Oran shall act in accordance with one of the following alternatives;

(a) Sail with us and continue the fight until victory against the Germans.

(b) Sail with reduced crews under our control to a British port. The reduced crews would be repatriated at the earliest moment.

If either of these courses is adopted by you we will restore your ships to France at the conclusion of the war or pay full compensation if they are damaged meanwhile.

(c) Alternatively if you feel bound to stipulate that your ships should not be used against the Germans unless they break the Armistice, then sail them with us with reduced crews to some French port in the West Indies — Martinique for instance — where they can be demilitarised to our satisfaction, or perhaps be entrusted to the United States and remain safe until the end of the war, the crews being repatriated.

If you refuse these fair offers, I must with profound regret, require you to sink your ships within 6 hours.

Finally, failing the above, I have the orders from His Majesty’s Government to use whatever force may be necessary to prevent your ships from falling into German hands.

However the commander of the French fleet omitted all the terms other than the scuttling of the ships.
Before negotiations were formally terminated, British Fairey Swordfish planes escorted by  Blackburn Skuas were dispatched from the Ark Royal to drop magnetic mines in the path of the French ships’ route to sea. This force was intercepted by French Curtiss H-75 fighters. One of the Skuas was shot down by French fighters and crashed into the sea, killing its two-man crew, the only British fatalities in the action.

The British opened fire at extreme range on 3 July 1940 at 17:54. The French eventually replied but ineffectively. The third salvo from the British force and the first to hit resulted in a magazine explosion aboard Bretagne, which sank with 977 of her crew dead. ProvenceDunkerque and the destroyer Mogador were damaged and run aground by their crews.

Strasbourg managed to escape with four destroyers. As these five ships made for the open seas, they came under attack from a flight of bomb-armed Swordfish from Ark Royal. The French ships responded with antiaircraft fire and shot down two of them, and their crews were rescued by the destroyer HMS Wrestler. The bombing attack had little effect and Somerville ordered his forces to begin pursuing at 18:43. The British cruisers Arethusa and Enterprise reported engaging a French destroyer. At 20:20, Somerville called off the pursuit, feeling that his ships were ill-deployed for a night engagement. After weathering another Swordfish attack at 20:55 without damage, Strasbourg reached the French port of Toulon on 4 July.

Battleship Bretagne exploding
Battleship Bretagne exploding

On November 27 1942, German forces attempted to capture the remains of the French fleet at Toulon, Admiral Darlan true to his word scuttled the fleet to prevent this. Darlan wrote to Churchill stating:

“”Prime Minister you said to me ‘I hope you will never surrender the fleet’. I replied, ‘There is no question of doing so’. It seems to me you did not believe my word. The destruction of the fleet at Toulon has just proved that I was right.””

At Mers-el-Kébir, 1,297 French sailors were killed and about 350 were wounded compared to the two british fatalities. The attack left Anglo-French relations severely strained and many – including Somerville felt ashamed at their orders.

How to Capture an FW190

June 23, 1942. Oberleutnant Armin Faber of the III fighter Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 2 received special permission to fly a combat sortie. His aircraft was the new FW 190 A-3 just introduced to front line squadrons.

While intercepting a flight of bombers returning to the UK he got into a dogfight with the escorting spitfires over South Devon. Following a number of turns he managed to shoot down his attacker Sergeant František Trejtnar of No. 310 Squadron ( who survived.) However Faber was confused after the fight and mistook the Bristol channel for the English Channel and flew north. Mistaking RAF Pembrey for a German Airfield he waggled his wings in victory then made a textbook landing.

The on duty Air traffic controller Sergeant Jeffreys grabbed a flare gun and jumped onto the taxiing aircraft wing and captured the pilot.

Faber spent time in a POW camp in England before moving to Canada, while there he convinced the authorities he was epileptic, the authorities believing this repatriated him to Germany, where he ended up serving on front line fighter units.

In which the Ricardians re-enact ‘Life of Brian’

My feelings for the Richard III society are well known, while they do some excellent research into the life of Richard and his time, it is also filled with absolute fanatics. People who genuinely come across as having some sort of romantic feelings towards him and refute any criticism of Richard as “Tudor propaganda”

So imagine my surprise that another group of Ricardians have pushed for a judicial review into the reburial of the remains. The Plantagenet Alliance (The Judean peoples front to the RIII Society’s Peoples front of Judea) are pushing for a judicial review so the remains are transferred to York. Now that isn’t unusual, it was a certainty that someone would issue a challenge, however the Judean Plantagenet alliance are doing so under the Human rights Act claiming that -as relatives- they were not consulted.

Here’s where the lunacy of this challenge starts. The official statement from Leicester University (one I imagine was done behind tears of laughter) states that consent isn’t needed if the remains are over 100 years old as there won’t be anyone with a personal relationship to the deceased. That is is best practice to inter the remains in the nearest consecrated ground  and -and here’s the kicker- that since Richard died childless there are no direct descendants, and thanks to 400 years, there are thousands of descendants who also don’t need consulting.

The basis for a burial at York is on shaky ground as is. The Ricardians claim that as a member of the House of York he should be buried there and the Plantagenet alliance also cite him being “Richard of York.” Here’s the thing. Richard of York is only used in that Mnemic device for remembering the rainbow and isn’t about Richard III. The Duke of York was Richards father who after his defeat in battle (gave battle in vain) had his head placed on a spike IN YORK.

Richard was Duke of Gloucester, had extensive lands in Yorkshire (another reason so say the Ricardians) but also holdings in Wales and East Anglia. This “Judicial review” won’t pass. I suspect it may literally be laughed out of court.

And as a final reminder, York Minster issued a statement saying they weren’t interested. It’s time for the Ricardians to abandon this romanticised image of Richard and look at the cold evidence.

Richard III Society

If the events of the last week have proven anything it’s that Richard III’s followers, the Richard III Society are somewhat vocal in their admiration.

The society aims to “encourage and promote a more balanced view” of Richard. From it’s origins in 1924 as “the Fellowship of the Wild boar” to the current society who contributed funding to Leicester University’s archaeological dig.

However with the controversy over his final resting place brewing the society have become a caricature of themselves. It started with the Channel 4 documentary on Monday which followed Phillipa Langley, the woman who started the project to find Richard following “a feeling” she had in the car park. Opinions on Langley were mixed on social networks in particular Twitter. Opinions varied from her being completely unhinged to being madly in love with him. I prefer to think she’s passionate about Richard, she is after all writing a screenplay about him. However one section in the programme resulted in the presenter of the show – Simon Farnaby from Horrible histories- exchanging conversation with various members.

The questions were the usual “has he been misunderstood” “What about the princes in the tower” now anyone who is a member of a society which aims to present a more unbiased version of events could go into it and say there’s not much evidence to support the idea or dismiss it and it will need more scrutiny. However the members interviewed went into rants that make Alex Jones’ appearance on Piers morgan seem sane. Now I’m not a fan of people who distort history to fit their own views, it’s the same with scientific results or theories. I foolishly thought it was a one off, and that C4 had just picked up the more loopy fringe of the society.

Now before we go any further I should admit that while the Tudors are probably my second favourite historical area of interest (yes I do have a ranking system) I have always had an interest in Richard III, I think given his short reign and the almost damnatio memoriae of him to be a fertile ground for Historical research (quite a lot is done by the Richard III Societies more grounded members)

Wanting to look more at the society and what its members are like I went to the website which seems normal and has quite a lot of information about Richard, and is well worth taking a look at here. However the Facebook page is another matter, on there is a lot of criticism aimed at Leicester University for having the remains at Leicester Cathedral against Richards wishes (although I’ve not seen any evidence that he wanted a burial there other than giving money to the Minster which for the time isn’t unusual.) The Society members then attack the University for being ungrateful for the donations raised by the society to fund the dig, although they weren’t the ones doing the digging.

Other interesting comments centre around this belief that since Richard was given a sloppy burial at Greyfriars then it shows that they didn’t want him, completely ignoring what would have been a pretty hectic and confusing day in Leicester since Richard left the city in the morning and by midday was dead and on his way back. They also ignore the terms of the archaeological exhumation license which stated the remains should be placed either in the Jewry wall Museum, the Cathedral or nearest churchyard by 2014. Some go as far as creating some conspiracy that the Dean of York Minster – Very Reverend Vivienne Faull- who was previously the Dean of Leicester had something to do with it, especially since the Minster issued a statement supporting the internment at Leicester.

Others are annoyed that guides at the Bosworth museum are “Pro Henry” and some have “kicked off” and “educated” them and the others on the tour that Richard was a sweety and Henry a tyrant. It seems to present a non biased view of Richard some members have ignored reality and other historical research. If a society is judged on its members then as the more vocal members seem to be fanatical in their devotion to Richard it isn’t doing the society’s image any good.

This isn’t a situation unique to the Richard III Society and I only highlight them as they are now in the news following the discovery of Richard, but I can’t help but think that the facebook page in particular isn’t going to get them many new members, rather I hope they emphasise their brilliant website and the research carried out behind the shouting mob.

I once toyed with becoming a member, however now I can’t help but think of Groucho Marx and his “PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER” Anecdote.

Richard III

As a schoolchild you’re taught quite a lot in History, some of it is even true. Others however are completely wrong or stray from the truth. One of those is the story of Richard III, at school your taught he was a bloodthirsty hunchback, who killed his nephews in the Tower of London before being killed by Henry VII who’s only notable for that act and being Henry VIII’s father.

Today after months of waiting the remains found in a Leicester car park were confirmed to be Richard III, what is remarkable and immediately noticeable is the curvature of the spine

This pretty much confirms that in that respect More and Shakespeare were partly true (although grossly exaggerated) although there is no evidence to support the “withered arm” description. What is for certain, the last moments of his life were brutal, 2 blows to the head one of which could have dug into his brain, multiple other wounds sustained in battle and more macabre than the others, the wound to the pelvis, sustained from a weapon entering through the buttock, post mortem.

Richard is an enigma, a lot is buried under Tudor propaganda foisted onto school children today, they remember the princes in the tower, but is killing your own family to secure the crown unique to him? His Brother, George was killed by his other Brother Edward IV, William II was killed in circumstances that point to his Brother Henry I, people who have an opinion on Richard normally commit what I call the cardinal sin of History, they judge everything with a 21st century mindset. Richards actions if true are no worse than those done by those who came before and after him, other accounts portray Richard as a good King who introduced reforms to the legal system that are still in use today.

Irrespective of this, Richard III has finally been found and a chapter in our history can finally be written.

A grave, a grave my kingdom for a grave

So it seems at long last the final resting place of Richard III King of England has been discovered. Archaeologist digging in a car park in Leicester found the remains of greyfriars church in the city centre a few months ago and the signs are looking promising. Not only is damage to the bones consistent with those sustained in battle (backed up by the arrowhead in the body) the bones show signs of scoliosis, giving Richard a curved spine, but not to the extent of the Shakespeare character.

Of course the discussion has now turned to what to do with the bones, both York and Leicester have been battling it out for the bones (should they indeed be Richard) to come to them. While Richard was a member of the House of York and had strong links to the city Leicester appears to be the favourite. It makes sense as he spent his last night there and had also lain for 500 years in the City, the Cathedral has a memorial to Richard and his burial. The added plus is having Richard in Leicester means more can visit his grave, and not have to pay an extortionate amount to enter the Minster.

The real question is will there be a state funeral as has been suggested, and what form will it take, since Richard was a pre-reformation Monarch, would it be strictly Catholic? Or a mix?