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February 06, 2013

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Richard J

Chuck in the whole divine right of kings stuff, and you're closer to that Mexican cartel that, IIRC, got God in a bad way.

(Am now sorely tempted to start a 'documented medieval execution method or Zeta gangland killing?' internet quiz.)

johnf

Throw off the Norman Yoke!

belle le triste

Whatever else Ricardianism is, it's militantly anti-Starkeyist: it insists that the gangster among gangsters is Richard's successor-by-violence, the Godfather of the ghastly Tudor thugmob, Henry 2nd Earl of Richmond.

(And that Henry was the one who had the little princes rubbed out.)

Phil

According to This Thing I Read Somewhere, the princes in the tower were actually offed by Henry VII, the sneaky Welsh sod.

I did a lot of reading about the monarchy a while back for work - I was commissioned to do a Timeline of English History which, time being short, ended up as mostly a Timeline of English Kings'N'Queens. What gets to you about the earlier reaches of the monarchy is that there are no mediocrities - nobody's just average at the job. Every few generations there's a guy who has a bit of a spark about him - you could see him as a junior minister or a regional manager of Asda. But in between them there's an endless procession of Looks Good On Horseback (But Otherwise Useless), Should Have Stayed In The Library (Generally Useless), Massive Operator (But Useless At Everything Else), Gay And Incredibly Self-Indulgent (And Utterly Useless) and occasionally Just Plain Feeble. G&MS-I in particular just keeps on coming back, it's like a recessive gene.

Anyway, Edward IV was one of the rare Quite Genuinely Competent monarchs, so I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the Yorkists, RIII included (me and Jane Austen). Henry Meredith* was a Massive Operator of some distinction, and I'd put nothing past him.

*Henry Tudor's father Owen anglicised his name from Owain ap Tudur (Tudur being the Welsh equivalent of 'Theodore'). The 'ap' formation generally means 'son of', but the Tudur in question was Owain's grandfather; Owain took the name deliberately, to commemorate him (he was a celebrated local boss in Anglesey). Owain's father was named Maredudd ap Tudur, meaning that he would normally have called himself Owain ap Maredudd - Owen Meredith. We could so easily have been talking about the Merediths and the Stuarts.

belle le triste

The it-wz-Henry-wot-dun-it school goes back to Horace Walpole, who caused a furore in the 1760s when he published "Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard III" -- though Walpole I think argued that Perkin Warbeck actually was the younger of the Princes, and that Henry only murdered the older. (I am now going to bed to reread it, it's fun...)

Edward IV was of course notoriously illegitimate himself (as Crookback Dick notes in the Shakespeare play named for him), Edward's competence doubtless derived from his actual real yeoman bowman father, one Blaybourne.

dsquared

Phil is correct about the Welsh, but "ap" was already pretty archaic in Wales by 1500, and patronymics have never been as rigid in Celtic cultures as somewhere in Russia - keeping the "ap Tudur" would have been a common thing for a grandson of a local Big Man to do, just as not all that many of the Clan MacDonald actually had fathers called Donald.

belle le triste

Aside from anti-Starkeyism, the search for the true Plantagenet heir is also very correctly somewhat anti-Windsor too, since it invariably entails the documentarist going up to some jolly bloke in an Australian suburb who -- when told he is the Rightful Heir to the English Throne -- laughs and says the entire thing is very ridiculous. As it is.

john malpas

Wouldn't Richard 3 have bastards and cousins who might not only have joined him and died in battle but would have very similar DNA.

nick s

But there's decent contemporary evidence supporting R3's burial in Greyfriars' Church in Leicester, unlike the rest of the losing side at Bosworth Field, even though the church didn't survive the Dissolution of the Monasteries (sponsored by NCP).

Chris williams

'Richard is under this car park' was a commonplace among Leicester antiquarians, as it happens. Why was he not dug up earlier? Well, there's the cars, which we used to be quit into - to the point of driving an underpass though the site of the forum. Way to go, adopted home-town.

ajay

Wouldn't Richard 3 have bastards and cousins who might not only have joined him and died in battle but would have very similar DNA.

1) the identification relied on mitochondrial DNA which is only handed down through the female line. No bastards (or indeed legitimate offspring) of Richard III would have shared his mitochondrial DNA.

2) Richard III is known to have had two bastards; neither died at Bosworth Field.

3) None of his known cousins died at Bosworth Field either.

4) Therefore the skeleton is either Richard III or it is a hitherto unknown Plantagenet cousin who also happened to have a crooked back and slim build and who also got killed at Bosworth Field.

5) And who also happened to be buried in the choir of Greyfriars Church in Leicester (now a car park).

belle le triste

Almost my favourite bit of the very terrible -- yet so watchable -- documentary was the response of the Obsessive Ricardian Lady from Leicester Antiquarian Society to the news that the skeleton (which she knew must be Richard's because a. there was an R painted on the tarmac above it. and b. a tempest had broken out as they started digging) had a curved spine. Hunchbackness to her could only be hostile Tudor propaganda, so this wasn't Richard after all: her face was a picture of conflicted passions.

The actual best moment was when the massed experts of CSI: Leicester SocServ Carpark were breaking the news to her that, slung over a horse on the way back into town, the body had been rudely stabbed in the bum. AWKWARD.

chris y

the royals were all gangsters until Cromwell taught them a little circumspection.

This. QFT. Every other internet cliche signifying agreement. Efforts to make mediaeval kings appear cuddly just because they passed a few decent laws get right up my nose. The great thing about the Wars of the Roses was that in basically wiping out the traditional aristocracy it did us all a big favour.

(Slight pushback on the "little princes in the tower" thing. Edward V was 12 when his father died; at that age Richard Duke of Gloucester had been sole Commissioner of Array (i/c general mobilisation) for the western shires for a year. Gangsters they were, but fucking precocious gangsters: Edward was probably pretty dangerous in his own right.)

jamie

'Gangsters they were, but fucking precocious gangsters' True. As noted by Barbara Tuchman in 'A Distant Mirror'

ajay

a tempest had broken out as they started digging

It's not too late to start spreading rumours of the Curse of the Plantagenets. Leicester itself would serve as an awful warning of the results of disturbing R3's grave. (What do you mean, "it was like that already"?)

belle le triste

It were all Bosworth Field round here when I were a lad

Chris williams

Let's keep Leicester as the Awful Warning for building a Holiday Inn on top of the Roman Forum through which you have just driven an ring road, shall we? The rot set in about then, and to be honest the last couple of decades haven't been quite so bad, comparably.

dsquared

I think the only fair thing to do is bundle up the remains of Richard III and send them off to the national museum in Cairo.

Simstim

Did they find a horse?

nick s

It were all Bosworth Field round here when I were a lad

And then the buggers told me it weren't.

Igor Belanov

The most embarrassing thing for a Yorkshireman is all these people wanting him to be buried in York. I know he had land in Yorkshire, but I still think some people need to have it explained to them that 'Yorkist' and 'Lancastrian' have little to do with geographical identity. Perhaps we could introduce that concept by pointing out that Chatsworth is not in Devon.

john malpas

There seems to be some bias against gangsters in these comments. Especially aristocratic gangsters. When did a saint ever hold such a country together.
And look what happens when common folk get in charge - WW1 & 2 & well the wars go on forever.

dsquared

Perhaps we could introduce that concept by pointing out that Chatsworth is not in Devon.

Or pacify them by burying him in Leeds Castle?

Phil

An orchestral manager I know once got a call, an hour or so before a gig: "OK, I'm just coming into Leeds..." You can fill in the rest.

I'm quite fond of the story that the original holder of the title requested the Earldom of Derbyshire, which the King (being a soft Southerner) thought must be some kind of mistake and corrected to 'Devonshire'. OTOH the King in question was James I and VI, so this isn't very plausible.

Richard J

And look what happens when common folk get in charge - WW1 & 2 & well the wars go on forever.

As compared to the Hundred Years War, of course.

And, TBF, Leeds Castle is near *a* Leeds...

[Yes, yes, I know the N ways you can pick holes in the cheap jibe, but come off it, it's too good to miss.]

Richard J

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2013/169.html

OT: How could anyone resist a court case involving a break into a locked trunk in a bank vault, a Baron, and the alleged theft of nine of the most valuable stamps in existence? (despite only one being known to exist.)

Simstim

My SO once managed to book us into a fish and chip shop in St. Ives (Cornwall) not the restaurant of the same name in St. Ives (Cambs). [In a vague attempt to link my anecdote back to the original post, St. Ives (Cambs) is the old stomping ground of Cromwell. They have a statue of the guy on Market Hill.*]

*Not a hill, at least not to anyone who comes from outside of the Fens/Polders.

belle le triste

Writing in 1767, Walpole says (more than once) that R3 was in fact very popular in York in particular, and in the north in general, during and for a surprisingly long time after his very short reign. He doesn't say what his evidence for this affection is, but Richard of York does seem to have been *in* York fairly often -- for example, that's where he came from when he swooped down to kidnap his nephews at Stony Stratford (aka the Jewel of Milton Keynes).

chris y

The Duke of Gloucester was President of the Council of the North (based in York) from some time in the early 1470s until the death of Edward IV. So he was seriously involved in northern politics and apparently quite good at them.

belle le triste

(Of interest to ajay if no one else: another Ricardian adherent of the it-wz-Henry-wot-dun-it school was Sir Clements Markham)

phuzz

To be fair to Leicester, it's quite hard to find a square meter of british land in or near a settlement that doesn't have some archaeological significance

belle le triste

Actually chris y's post makes me realise one of the problems I have reading about this era is the shifting sea of not really enough names and titles to maintain distinction -- first, nearly everyone male at this time (except Perkin Warbeck) seems to be called Henry, Edward or Richard; second, people have multiple titles (Edward IV was 4th Duke of York, 7th Earl of March, 5th Earl of Cambridge and 9th Earl of Ulster); third, several people will end up occupying any given title (there were no less than three Duchesses of Norfolk at RIII's coronation).

Do professional medievalists have techniques they use to get round this problem, or does clarity come with practice?

(Unhelpfully, "Richard of York" comes from the mnemonic for remembering the colours of the rainbow, and hence is possibly not a good way of referring to Crookback Dick -- Richard Duke of York being the younger of the nephews in the tower...)

Alex

I notice that Wikipedia says: After the Wars of the Roses and the emergence of the Tudor dynasty, there were some troubles in the area in relation to the English Reformation, the Church of England's split from Rome and the dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. In the North, most people remained staunch supporters of the Catholic faith and were deeply unhappy with the changes; the people rose up in York creating a 30,000 strong rebel Catholic army

Some trouble, eh? Like a 30,000 strong rebel army?

belle le triste

Pilgrimage of Grace innit

chris y

Richard Duke of York being the younger of the nephews in the tower

but the Richard of York who gave battle in vain was the father of Edward IV and Richard III who was killed at the battle of Wakefield in 1460. So, yeah, confusing. /pedantry

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