Okay, let’s tackle Richard III! (Well, okay, like – not really tackle him – I mean, the guy’s just bones now, and he looks like he had a rough end…so more like, a love-tackle…)
But SERIOUSLY! Since my first foray into WOTR (the Wars of the Roses, for those of you who aren’t caught up yet) 2 years ago, there have been several flashing arrows pointing to both Richard III and Henry Tudor as my next big research subjects. I avoided them for a long time because, well, they’re men – and I have just found the women of this story so much more fascinating up until now. If you want to catch up on some of the research I’ve been doing for the past 2 years and why, check out my Wars of the Roses Reading List blog post. No really. Click it. It’s a link to the post.
Yesterday, Sunday, March 22nd, 2015, the remains of Richard III were placed in a casket made by his 17th grand-nephew, Michael Ibsen, who subsequently supplied the DNA sample which proved that this was Richard (hey – he’s a cabinet-maker by trade, and after all what is a coffin but a giant human cabinet, right?) The King made a tour through Leicester as he would have on his last day of life, through Bosworth Field, and ending up at his new place of rest, Leicester Cathedral, about 100 meters or so from where he fell. I take comfort that they only allowed men wearing matching polkadot ties to carry Richard in.
There will be Richard festivities this entire week, (though what those are I cannot seem to find the answer to!), culminating in his reinternment on Thursday. Oh, why do I not have enough money for a plane ticket to Leicester right now?!
The recent discovery of Richard’s remains and the entire archaeological dig and hooplah surrounding it have arguably been the most important discovery of my lifetime so far (because, well, toilet paper and sliced bread were both discovered before my birth). His skeletal remains tell us some very important things, in a nut-shell:
- Yes, he had scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, which probably meant his right shoulder sat visibly higher than his left. But NO, he did not have a hunchback – and people probably wouldn’t have known about his scoliosis either, as it probably wasn’t visible with all of his clothes on – okay, well maybe there were a few ladies who knew about it…..
- ALSO, he did not have the famed withered arm! So bump that!
Richard had worms. Not just the kind that ate his corpse; he had a bad case of roundworm when he died. Dude, gross! That’s one way to get horror stories told about you after your death!
- DNA shows that Richard was blonde-haired and blue-eyed – the perfect Aryan! But seriously….that hair probably got a little darker with age, but still not the dark brunette he usually gets depicted as. They now think the portrait on the right is closer to accurate because of the coloring – but, I don’t know – seems to me after looking at his facial reconstruction that the more famous portrait on the left is still more correct, only his hair maybe wasn’t that dark. What do you think?
- He most definitely died of a massive head wound. He also incurred quite a lot of “insult wounds” after death. And that’s just from what we could tell with the bones! Imagine what was suffered on the soft tissue we no longer have evidence of! It seems bloody likely to scientists that some of those major wounds were inflicted after his armor was removed, but that
he was probably killed with his armor still on, but somehow he lost his helmet – that was a bad move, ‘Chard. This likely proves the popular story of Richard being stripped naked after death, slung to the back of a horse, and walked through town central, where people hit him, kicked him, stabbed him, and did who knows what else to his already dead body – poor horse was probably in danger as well! (please check out New Evidence Shows King Richard III Died A Badass)
- Then, Henry Tudor had no plans for a state funeral for Richard. Instead, some monks from the Grey Friars Church there in Leicester dug a hole for the King – when it was almost big enough, they got lazy and stopped digging and just tossed Richard’s corpse in, with no linen or shroud wrapping him (come on, it gets cold in those graves!) They also chose not to mark it….then again, Henry Tudor and his son made some pretty weird decisions, so that just follows suit.
So, Richard III. He was the last of the Plantagenet kings – a great and long dynasty in England. He was the last English king to die in battle – the last to die fighting for his crown! He was an epic warrior, even by contemporary accounts, a brave and fiercely strong individual. Policy-wise, a very good king, quite possibly one of the best. He only reigned for what – 777 days or something? He was only in charge for about 2 years, and check out all of the really good things he did accomplish in that time – more than most British monarchs in that kind of time span!
I do highly recommend watching the Smithsonian Channel’s “Richard III Revealed” documentary – I saw it on Netflix. It features Philippa Langley (the woman who spear-headed the finding of Richard, and who has also written a book on it), as well as the amazing video documenting of the behind-the-scenes at the dig and in the laboratory.
Fun Links & Research for this post:
New Evidence Shows King Richard III Died A Badass (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj-ouDnwv-E
Was Richard III Riddled With Roundworms? – read the end of this one…holy funny-ness!
Soil samples show Richard III suffered from roundworm – this one has a video of the doctor explaining it….who may need to lay off the caffeine, given his constantly alternating fluttering & bugging out eyes.