Richard III

A while ago, I posted musing on whether the bones in the car park could be Richard III. I have to admit I was hopeful and excited. I was pleased that they were. Not only because it is an amazing discovery, part of my favourite period of history and I am lucky enough to work for the University of Leicester. But also because, I feel it shows that hard work, research and scientific methods can pay off. Yes, there has been criticism that the University has played up to the press, but this wasn’t a small discovery. I am fairly confident that any other university would have done the same.

The confirmation of the bones now raises more questions, but also answers some. There had always been a difference of opinion about the hunchback and physical deformity of the Tudor portrayal of Richard III. He was the baddie. He was ugly and evil and killed the Princes, his nephews in the Tower. Now some of this has been proven to be true. Richard suffered from scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. It has been said that it may have been well hidden during his reign, it wasn’t a hunchback like the Tudors said, but it had obviously given the Tudors something to work with. The facial reconstruction also shows that the portraits of Richard weren’t far from a likeness, they had just been “edited” to make them look harsh and brooding. Henry VII had a tough job, he had to convince the general populace that he was the rightful king and they should follow him. That process must have begun before the Battle of Bosworth or the Stanley family would not have changed sides.

The story of the Princes in the Tower will always be a mystery. Finding Richard neither confirms, denies or proves who killed them or if they were killed. The only thing that can be proven is that the bones in Westminster are actually the princes. However, this plan has already been vetoed.
The Princes in the Tower
Richard certainly would have benefitted from the removal of his nephews, but they had already been declared illegitimate. I would assume that at the time this may have not been widely accepted. Their disappearance led to a whole host of apparent heirs to the throne after Richard’s time. Let us not forget that they also stood in the way of Henry VII’s claim to the throne. They were at least sons of a king. Henry’s followers could have been as much a part of the conspiracy to remove them, to make Richard look like a tyrant and also clear the path a little more for Henry. Richard was going to be Lord Protector until Edward V came of age after all.

As for the burial…I risk sounding unpopular and biased now…Leicester is most appropriate. We are not rewriting history only reburying close to his lost resting place. Some people have said he wanted to be buried in York, I would be pleased to be pointed to where this is documented (this is without sarcasm, I would genuinely be interested). Westminster is also not where every monarch is buried, some are there, some are in Winchester, some are in St George’s Chapel in Windsor and a whole bunch of them are buried in France!

I have to say for certain, it is an exciting time to be a trustee of the local museums at the moment. I am looking forward to people visiting the city to learn about it’s history and see it’s collections.


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