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it inspiring but Phillipa Langley has come out against it and announced £40,000 of funding from the society has been withdrawn.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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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?

Order of the Garter

April 23 is known for many things, it’s St George’s day in the UK and other countries, it’s the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, and thanks to an oversight also his birthday. However it is also the date the Order of the Garter was founded.

The Order dates back to King Edward III who was obsessed with the Arthurian legends as most knights of the time were. He planned on reviving the round table and announced it during a tournament in 1344. The order was to contain 300 knights and construction began of a large 200ft circular room to house the table. However the 100 years war intervened which put the plans on hold.

In 1348 Edward founded the college of  St George at Windsor Castle, he associated it with a small group of knights -25 in all- who would use the garter as a symbol of being a member. The popular story of the Garter is a pretty good schoolboy story. At a ball in Calais the Countess of Salisbury was dancing with the king when her garter slipped off. The courtiers began to chuckle (easily amused in the middle ages it seems) which prompted the King to do something odd.

He picked up the garter and proceeded to put it on his own leg, scalding the laughing courtiers with the words “Honi soit qui mal y pense” – shame on him who thinks evil of it. In fact that is just a story, the garter in question wasn’t part of a ladies costume it is believed to have referred to the leather straps that hold armour together. The order was itself a military order and they were prosecuting the claim to the French throne by the King.

If a Knight was removed from the order, for example Hirohito* when Japan entered the war the Garter King of Arms, accompanied by the rest of the heralds, proceed to St George’s Chapel. While the Garter King of Arms reads out aloud the Instrument of Degradation, a herald climbs up a ladder and removes the former knight’s banner, crest, helm and sword, throwing them down into the quire. Then the rest of the heralds kick them down the length of the chapel, out of the doors, and into the castle ditch. Although the last time this happened was 1716.

*Hirohito was re-instated during his state visit to the UK in 1971

Sources:
http://www.stgeorges-windsor.org/about-st-georges/history/the-order-of-the-garter.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_the_Garter

A day in Durham City

During a week off a few friends and I decided to have a day in Durham. When I’m there it’s normally with a specific objective, either to buy something or wait for a connecting bus to work ( I know which one I like more.)
However for a change I managed to just wander aimlessly around and take in the city. We hit on lucky, apart from a rather torrential downpour when we arrived it remained clear for the remainder.

The City is undergoing a lot of work in the marketplace replacing the cobbles and paving stones and moving the statues around. In my opinion I don’t like it. There’s been complaints that the road up to the Cathedral aren’t clearly defined, which is in fact true, the only way you can see the road is a small strip of different colour stones separating the road from the pavement

Spot the road (http://davidariley.co.uk/blog/?p=394)

The Marketplace is a charming place, sadly on one side the modern shop fronts have destroyed a lot of the lover features of the buildings which is a problem afflicting most modern town and city centres. However the regeneration of the market has completely obliterated the charm and historic setting that one gets in Durham For example the old marketplace looked like this:

Durham Market place (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Durham_Market_Place.jpg)

It’s quite sad that this has had to happen but I supposed the cash strapped council felt that a statue needed moving 10 feet forward and painted black instead of the battered green that comes with copper being exposed:

After (Peter Bainbridge)
Before

Moving away from the Marketplace we ended up at the highlight of Durham, that is the Weatherpersons at the Walkergate development, home to quality dining like “Nando’s” and “Chiquito.” After devouring a quick breakfast we headed up to the Cathedral. Now for me it’s the nicest place on Earth. There is nothing quite like a Norman Cathedral with such a magnificent history. (of which most of it will end up on here in the near future)

Durham Cathedral from Palace Green (Peter Bainbridge)

The green in front used to have lots of those little “keep off the grass” however the Lumière festival effectively voided that little suggestion and in the summer or a warm day is often filled with Students, tourists and the occasional me lying on the grass with a few friends sharing a bottle of wine or beer, or just simply watching the world go by. However as you can see it was rather wet that day.

On entering the cathedral first one must pass the “Sanctuary Knocker”,” although a replica the knocker was rung by a criminal fleeing from justice, on appealing for sanctuary the person then had  37 days to decide whether to face justice or head for the port of Hartlepool, board a cog and sail to wherever it is going, destined never to set foot on English soil again.

Sanctuary Knocker (Peter Bainbridge)

The hole in its head was allegedly formed when a rather over enthusiastic kingsmen shot it while attempting to apprehend a fugitive (More on the knocker at a later date)

A Quick look around the cathedral and it was time to climb the steps to the top of the tower

Durham Cathedral (Peter Bainbridge)
This way to tired legs and vertigo (Peter Bainbridge)

The view from the top is simply stunning. You can take in all of the Durham area into Tyne and Wear and to the west the site of the Battle of Neville’s Cross. It was on the tower the monks prayed for an English victory which indeed did come.

View over to the Castle (The Author)

The problem with the tower is it’s very dark, the steps are heavily worn out from 900+ years of use and you do get very dizzy walking down. What was interesting was the graffiti etched onto the walls the oldest I found dated to the 1950’s which proves that when older people say “Kids these days” it’s not an admonishment of society today but part of a larger sentence “Kids these days don’t know how to vandalise important heritage sites like we did.”

Following the trip up it was time for a drink in the Cathedral Cafe then a few pints at the Market Tavern.

A bit more:
Durham Tourism office 

Durham Cathedral

Market Tavern

OU Update.

My tutor, being the brilliant gentleman he is, has given me a one week extension to complete the second TMA for AA312. Which was nice as it means I can actually do a decent job on finding out whether WW1 was a massive gamble on Germany’s part.

Not only that but such is the demand for OU courses that registration has been brought forward to today. Which means I’m not even 10% of the way through Total war and I’m registered for A326 Empire. Which serves a dual purpose, 1) it means with my transfer I’ll be 10 credits off my degree and 2) I can finally read Niall Ferguson’s Empire.

So here’s to another slog through time, one more step into the unknown and finally. My degree.

As a sidenote, I took this today.

Peruvian Mass grave dating 1000 years discovered.

I saw this article appear on twitter but alas it’s the Daily Mail and me not wanting to give them the traffic decided to find this pretty cool story from somewhere else.

Sixty apparently sacrificed bodies were found in a 1000 year tomb in the Peruvian Lambayeque, reveals a report released today by the Lima newspaper El Comercio.

According to the archaeologists in charge, sacrifices were made presumably to pay homage to the deceased who belonged to the ruling elite of the Sican culture.

“We found in the tomb of about 150 square meters and eight meters deep”, according to the report, and is divided into two sets of remains.

In one there are dozens of headless skeletons and in another about 30 human skulls next to the remains of dogs and llamas. For experts, some killed were thrown from the top and others were sacrificed elsewhere.

At the site, located in the historic Pomac forest, rich in archaeological finds, it also had irrigation infrastructure, water wells, furnaces, metallurgy and ceramics workshops and food production areas. “For the Lambayeque Culture (Sicán) human sacrifices were not acts of savagery, but a custom of ancestor worship,” said museum director in the area, Carlos Elera. “It is estimated that there were three different times in which the remains were placed en masse,” said the resident archaeologist Jose Pinilla.

Sicán Culture prevailed between approximately 900 and 1100 in what is today is Lambayeque.

According to DNA studies done by Japanese scientists, although the townspeople was from the area, the ruling elite belonged to a line further north, on land now between the cities of Piura, Peru, and Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Original article :http://www.elcomercio.com/tecnologia/ciencia/Descubren-tumba-sacrificados-milenio-Peru_0_610738969.html