Monday, December 8, 2014

The Case for Haplogroup G

While the research released last week could not prove conclusively what the Plantagenet Y Chromosome was, it did NOT say that it proved Richard was not a Plantagenet though his father's side. No matter how badly historians & writers want to spin it that way, such statements are false & misleading. Here's a spoiler alert for Phillipa Gregory's next novel: Isabella of Castille has an affair with John Holland & gets pregnant with Richard of Conisburgh. :cough: Didn't happen :cough:

The Y-Chromosome identified in Richard III's remains was Haplogroup G, specifically G2-P287+.  I admit, everything after the "G" still reads like gobbletygook to me.  However, I have learned a couple of interesting things about Haplogroup G & men who have carried it.

According to Wikipedia, Haplogroup G first appeared in the Middle East during Neolithic times &  arrived in Europe with migrations of farmers & settlers from that region.  The earliest European remains belonging to this Haplogroup have been dated to 5000-3000 B.C.E.,  & have been found in Spain, France, Bavaria, & the Italian Alps.  Although this haplogroup is widespread, it is not very common.

Looking beyond the findings of last week's report, however, there is still some strong evidence that Haplogroup G is the correct Haplogroup for the Plantagenet Dynasty.  First, there are only 3 generations separating Richard III and Edward III. Second, remains supposedly belonging to Henry IV of France & Louis XVI both were found to have belonged to men in Haplogroup G.  Since this haplogroup is rare in Western Europe, it is hard to wave off  these findings it in 3 different kings from different countries & centuries  as "coincidence."

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Let's Talk Paternity

It's been just over 24 hours since the release of "The Identification of the Remains of King Richard III" (link: ) & already the report has been misinterpreted & misunderstood, despite the very best efforts of the authors to fully explain what it was they were looking for and what they found.  I really recommend reading the report & watching the attendant videos on Youtube. These are primary sources & those should be consulted & cited before any news article in the media, especially ones that shout    "Richard was Illegitimate" should be. (By the way, he was not.)

The report cited above also has a nice chart that shows the paternal descent from Edward III, as well as descent from Cecily Neville along the female line.  The research along Cecily's line was used to prove the theory of John Ashdown-Hill, which disproves the allegations that the University thought little of his work.  The chart can be viewed here:

The above chart leaves out Margaret Beaufort's connection to Edward III (it was not relevant to the research at hand), but this chart does include her, as well as Joan Beaufort, & is worth reviewing, if only to keep the various branches of the Plantagenet family tree straight:

As for breaks in the Y-Chromosome chain, those could have happened at any point along the way. For all we know, there was a break in the Y-Chromosome between Henry II & Edward III. But for the sake of this blog (& our sanity), let's presume there was no break between these two kings.  Where else could this "non-paternity event" have occurred?  Listed below are, in my opinion, the top likely places:

#1.  John Beaufort: Son of Katherine Roet & John of Gaunt, according to history.  However, John's birth is given as occurring between 1371 & 1373.  Katherine's first husband, Hugh Swynford, died sometime between those years as well. It is possible that Katherine was pregnant by her first husband & didn't know it. John Beaufort was Margaret Beaufort's father.

If, however, John Beaufort was the son of John of Gaunt, then the Tudors were descended from the Plantagenets via Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry Tudor.  The break in the Y-Chromosome would have happened at a later date. What is needed is better documentation on when Hugh Swynford died & when John Beaufort was born.  In order to completely exclude Hugh Swynford as the presumed father (he was, after all, married to Katherine), John Beaufort's date of birth must be after August/September 1372.

#2 Richard of Conisburgh (Richard III's paternal grandfather): rumors of the time suggested he was fathered by John Holland, with whom his mother, Isabella of Castille, had a scandalous affair.  He was not mentioned in his father's or his brother's wills.  However, because Richard III's Y-Chromosome has strong connections to France, it is unlikely that it was inherited through Holland.  The Holland family appears in England in the early 13th Century & has no known paternal links to France.

These are just possible places where the break  between Richard III & the Somersets could have occurred.  In order to prove or disprove these theories, further testing needs to be done. Since that would lead to more tomb raiding, I just don't see that happening, so I guess the search for the Plantagenet Y Chromosome ends here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Paternity v. Seniority

With the news breaking today regarding the Plantagenet DNA, it seems that people are already confusing paternity with seniority. While both of these concepts come into play regarding inheritance (in this case, the throne of England), they are not the same thing.

One of the things that researchers had hoped to discover was the elusive Plantagenet Y-Chromosome.  This chromosome can only be passed down from father to son. (Conversely, the mtDNA is passed from a mother to all of her children, but only her daughters will pass it along to their children. See )

In order to determine conclusively what the Y-chromosome for the Plantagenets was, there needed to be a genetic match between the DNA of Richard III & that of the male descendants of John Beaufort, the 1st Earl of Somerset, the son of John of Gaunt.  Unfortunately, there was no match.  When & where the break (or breaks) in the line occurred are a mystery & I'm sure they will be the source of endless speculation.  I'm already doing some preliminary research in this area.

While Richard III was also a descendant of John of Gaunt, it was through one of his daughters, Joan, so he would not have inherited the Plantagenet Y Chromosome that way.  The most recent common male ancestor for Richard and John of Gaunt was Edward III, as Richard is a direct descendant along the male line from Edward III's fifth son, Edmund of Langley. 

Seniority, on the other hand, determines which child (or sibling) had the right to inherit the throne.  Until quite recently, the throne was passed by right of primogeniture, meaning the eldest son (or brother, if the King had no children) became the next King.  All sons (or brothers) had precedence over all daughters (or sisters), regardless of their age.  This explains why Edward VI became King after Henry VIII died & not Henry's oldest child, Mary.  If the King had no sons, then his eldest daughter would become Queen, which is exactly what happened when Edward VI died. 

Applying seniority to the case of the Yorks & Lancasters, this means that Richard's family had seniority over the Lancastrians, even though their claim was through Anne Mortimer, who was the great-granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp, third son of Edward III.  In contrast, the Lancastrian Kings (and later, the Beauforts) were descendants of the fourth son of Edward III, John of Gaunt.

I hope this explanation was helpful. I tried to make it as clear as I could, but as always, when you're so related to yourself that you could be your own grandfather, things tend to get complicated & frustrating. But that's what makes genealogy fun!

I Told You So

Ok, I admit, that's really a message for Michael Hicks, but  news out of Leicester today indicates that the DNA recovered from Skeleton 1 proves that the remains located under the car park were those of Richard III. You read it here first, though:

There is other, more interesting news, though, concerning the Y chromosome that is passed through the male line. Apparently, there the connection between Richard III and those descendants of Edward III who were previously identified as Plantagents has been broken by one or more instances of "non-paternity."

It will take some time to sort through all of this, but I do intend to write about this too within the next few days.

But oh, how I love being able to say 'I TOLD YOU SO!"

Friday, November 21, 2014

In Every Sense of the Word

Of late, the word "celebrate" has caused some consternation among the anti-Leicester brigade.  They looked for something to be offended by, found it, & acted accordingly. Knee-jerk reaction letters to the editor & rants on social media immediately appeared. 

It seems to me that the blood pressures (& reputations) of these folks would have been better served had they just taken the time to crack open a dictionary or, in case dictionaries are extinct in the U.K., conduct a search on Google & they would have instantly seen that "celebrate" has many meanings. Here's what I found (in 0.35 seconds):

  1. 1.
    publicly acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity.
    "they were celebrating their wedding anniversary at a restaurant"
    "they were celebrating their wedding anniversary"
  2. 2.
    perform (a religious ceremony) publicly and duly, in particular officiate at (the Eucharist).
    "he celebrated holy communion"


Make no mistake, there will be celebrations in every sense of the word in Leicester next March.  It will be the largest gathering of Ricardians in history, past & future, after all.  Outside of the various religious ceremonies, people are bound to meet up in bars & restaurants, bend a few elbows, crack a some jokes, in short do what ever like-minded humans do whenever they gather in large numbers.

But just because we may be smiling & laughing from time to time does not mean we will be acting like that when any of the religious ceremonies is celebrated.   Those will be solemn occasions & of course we will act accordingly. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Um, What?

Today is the birthday of Richard III, but that's not why I'm posting.

Since writing last time about outside 3rd parties stirring things up between the Duke of Gloucester & the Woodvilles, I keep thinking about one thing over & over & over.

Now, I am an attorney & have been for quite some time, so I know that it's never a good idea to hire or bring into your inner circle, someone who was the attorney for another who at one point was on the other side of the same dispute.  Today, doing such a thing can get you disbarred if you, as an attorney, do it. (Yeah yeah yeah, you can get the client to sign a waiver, but ha ha ha, joke's on you because word will get around & what's that thing Shakespeare says about "who steals my purse steals trash?" As an attorney, your reputation is your calling card. Get known for being a Stanley, I mean, turncoat, & good luck finding people to retain you. Believe it or not, there are not that many stupid people in this world. It just seems like it sometimes, especially during Rush Hour.)

Which brings us to Sir William Catesby.  He was Hastings' lawyer. Yeah, THAT Hastings, who was loyal to Edward IV, but had conflicts with the Woodvilles in court, & was then loyal to Richard III, until he wasn't.  In addition to being Hastings' lawyer, Catesby was on the Council of Edward V, & Richard appoints him to his council when he becomes king & then gives him all sorts of titles & honors.  Um, what? I think to myself when I learn this little tidbit.  Putting so much trust in Catesby just screams "BAD IDEA!"

It makes me wonder just what the blast was really going on in 1483, because if Richard was truly the evil, manipulative, calculating, plotting bastard we are supposed to believe he was, keeping Catesby around AND on his Council were really really stupid moves!!  It's almost as if someone smacked Richard on the head with a Stupid Stick or double-dog dared him to do it, so he had to, like that poor kid in "A Christmas Story." 

Consider also what Catesby (thanks for pointing this out, Planta Genista!) wrote in his will to the Stanleys: "to pray for my soul as ye have not for my body, as I trusted in you." This on top of telling his wife to tell the kids just how wonderful Henry Tudor is.  Um, what?

As always, I could be missing something here, but the bottom line for me in all of this is regardless of the circumstances, putting so much trust & confidence in Catesby was a mistake, & possibly a fatal one for Richard.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Throw The Rock, Hide Your Hand

This blog is composed of some random thoughts I've been kicking around in my head for a while, as well as in rational discussion groups on Facebook.  One of the things that drive me nuts the most is the hysteria exhibited by the different factions.  If you dare to ask why Richard did something, some Ricardians  will claim you "hate" Richard, are a Tudorite, don't know what you're talking about, are ignorant, and so on.  Richard is a saint. Can do no wrong. He was the innocent victim of the Woodvilles/Tudors/Margaret Beaufort/Insert Your Favorite Plantagenet Boogie Man Here.

As bad as this is, the Woodville faction can be worse.  According to them, More & Shakespeare wrote the Gospel Truth & anyone who asks why Richard did a 180 once his brother was 6' under is labeled a "Bride of Gloucester," doesn't know what they're talking about, is ignorant, & that it is *obvious* to anyone with a brain that the Woodvilles/Tudors/Beauforts were all innocent victims doing nothing but sitting around playing Sudoku while patiently waiting their turn on evil Richard's chopping block.

So why don't we just set all of that garbage aside, take everyone at their word, & see what picture starts to appear? 

Let's accept the fact that Richard was incredibly loyal to his brother, Edward IV.  He had to be. Edward had Richard doing all his heavy lifting in the midlands, among the northern lords, & missions in Scotland.  He was also Lord Admiral.  If there was the slightest suspicion that Richard would ever turn on Edward IV, WHY did he give him so much authority? After Edward, Richard as Duke of Gloucester was the most powerful man in the kingdom.  Even Richard's detractors speak of his loyalty to his brother. He was obviously doing something right as Duke of Gloucester. 

Let's also accept the fact that he was on good terms with the Woodvilles.  They may not have been BFFs, but they also weren't at each other's throats.  Up on deck is Rivers. They had a history, these two, of fighting together for Edward & going into exile with him. There is no hint that there was any disagreements between the two. They may not have known each other well as the years went by, but that doesn't explain what happened at Stony Stratford.  Richard might not have been happy about George's execution, but let's face it: George had it coming.  It was George who had all those problems with the Woodvilles.  Richard, seemingly, did not.  He even enlisted Elizabeth's help in arranging a good marriage for a woman named Katherine, suspected of being one of his mistresses & the mother of one or two of his illegitimate children. He also wrote Elizabeth before he left for London, promising her safety & his loyalty to Edward V. Yeah, that's what happens when you hate your in-laws. You work with them, ask them to do favors for you, & promise in writing to be loyal to their kids. 

Rivers requests an escort for the new king, Edward V, & agrees to limit it to 2000 men.  Richard moves south with 300.  Neither one seems to be hell bent for leather to get to London. So far, so good.  No one is acting out of character.  It is expected that Richard, as Lord Protector, would be escorting Edward V into London. It is expected that Edward V will be headed to London with sufficient protection.  Then something happens.

Rivers fails to meet up with Richard at the expected rendezvous & doubles-back to meet him.  They have a grand old time that evening & the next day, Rivers & others are put under arrest & sent off to Pontefract.  They later lose their heads. Everything goes to hell in a handbag after that.

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? People who before were on good relations all of a sudden lopping each other's heads off, throwing others in prison, running for sanctuary, or stealing the Treasury & sailing off with the Navy.

If ever you've noticed office politics in action, there is always at least one person you can count on to be a pot-stirrer. (I'm being polite.)  There is a Mexican dicho which loosely translated says "They throw the rock, then hide their hands."  To me, this is what happened to Richard & the Woodvilles after Edward IV died.  At least one, possibly two or three, outside 3rd parties decided they would put a wedge between the Lord Protector & the King & his immediate family.  Why? Because, presuming Richard would be as loyal to Edward V as he was to Edward IV, there would be no way in hell anyone would be able to topple Edward V. 

Who were these 3rd parties?  In my speculation, they could be Hastings, Catesby (who was Hastings' lawyer), & the Duke of Buckingham.  On the sidelines, working the Woodvilles over was Margaret Beaufort, who saw an opportunity & took it.  And who knows who else was there, looking to improve their own situation at the expense of someone else?  Just look at who had the most to gain by a falling-out between the Duke of Gloucester & the Woodvilles, & you'll have your answer.

There's more to this, but I'll leave this here for now. I'm sure I've got something wrong, but that's okay. I can just go back & re-evaluate the events of 1483.  I do think, however, that it will all boil down to some person or persons seeking to create or capitalize on discord for their own purposes.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rous & More influenced by Mel Brooks? Perhaps.

(Think about "Young Frankenstein" for a few moments, then keep it percolating in the back of your brain while I take some time to get to the point. It does make sense. I promise.)

One of the things that I've found most interesting in researching my family tree is just how often oral history, which we are told by scholars cannot ever be proven & must, therefore, be considered false, turns out to have some truth to it, no matter how teeny-tiny that kernel of truth is. A couple of examples from my own family:

(1) We had long been bored to tears, um, I mean, told that our great great grandfather "rode for the Pony Express."  This particular family myth drove my mother insane as she tried in vain to track it down. Finally, she saw a reference somewhere that put her on the right path. Did you know that the Pony Express had a competitor? Called "Wells Fargo?" And guess who's great great grandfather drove a stage coach for Wells Fargo? Yeah. Him. How something so recent got confused is beyond me, unless it's easier to just say "Pony Express" so you don't have to bore the young ones to tears continually explain that there was another company doing the same thing.

(2) My father got in trouble in school for refusing to say that Paul Revere warned the Minute Men that the British were coming. He would instead say "William Dawes," which he learned from the family oral history that had been pounded into his head (while he was bored to tears).  Everyone thought he was crazy because he didn't know it was Paul Revere; he thought THEY were crazy because they didn't know it was William Dawes. (turns out, they were all correct, but this was in the ancient days before Google so no one had a smart phone to whip out & prove the other wrong.) Besides, as luck would have it, it turns out that one of my family's ancestors knew what time & where to meet up with his homies so they could blow holes in some Redcoats at Lexington & Concord because his farm was on guess who's route? Yup. William Dawes. Too bad Dawes didn't have a cousin who became a poet so his name could be remembered in a famous, but wildly historically inaccurate, poem schoolkids are still forced to memorize & are taught is proven fact. Would have made my dad's life much easier.  Not bitter, just sayin'....

These family stories are only half as old as the multitude told about Richard III, and already they were just as twisted & layered almost to the point that the truth could not be found. Imagine then, the amount of layers & twists & turns one must go through to uncover the underlying truth if there is one to stories about Richard III that have been kicking around for half a millenia.

One of the myths perpetuated about Richard is that he spent 2 years in his mother's womb. Well, obviously THAT didn't happen, but what DID happen? Turns out that Richard had an older brother, Thomas, who was born in either 1450 or 1451, & who died in infancy. Richard comes along around October 1452.  It isn't hard to see how people would think that Cecily was pregnant for 2 years' straight & since she only had 1 child to show for all that morning sickness, just shrug their shoulders & think she was pregnant with Richard for all that time. And the part about being born feet first---could he or Thomas have been breech babies? It happens. So it turns out after all, that there is a little bit of truth behind this particular myth.

As I was researching this little curiosity, I came across references to Richard's uneven shoulders. According to John Rous, who supposedly knew Richard, his right shoulder was higher than his left. BUT, Sir Thomas More (who's a saint & would never, ever lie even though he was 5 when Richard died & probably never met him) says Richard's left shoulder was higher.

"What hump?"

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Glass Houses

I find it very ironic (not to mention hypocritical) that the very people demanding financial transparency from the good folks of Leicester & engaging in outright bullying & harassment online & off have not yet coughed up their own financials for everyone to peruse & nit-pick.

In my opinion, if you soak the British taxpayers to the tune of 176K GBP so you can tilt at legal windmills, attempting to get something to which you were never entitled, you have absolutely no grounds to question how others raise funds or spend them.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Another Lie (or 3) Bites The Dust

Since I live in the States, I was really disappointed that the latest Channel 4 show "Richard III The New Evidence" was not going to be broadcast outside the UK or available online for streaming. Hello, this is the 21st Century, folks, the world of YouTube & Roku & simulcasting. But thanks to some unknown kind-hearted soul, I was able to view it to see what all the screaming was about.

Unlike many Ricardians who watched the show, I don't think that it made Richard look like a glutton or a drunkard. On the contrary, I came away from the show with two things: a much deeper respect for Richard III, & sadly,  the impression that he was on a downward spiral health-wise.  As demonstrated by Dominic Smee who has the exact same condition as Richard had, his rib cage was twisted & prevented him from getting the deep breaths necessary for stamina in battle. However, the lack of lung capacity could have been fatal in other ways. A bad cold could have easily turned into pneumonia. Even if he had survived Bosworth, remarried, & had a son or sons, I don't think he would have lived long enough for those children to reach adulthood, throwing England back into chaos over succession.  Hate on me all you want, I just don't see him living that long.

Others have attacked the show for not bringing up the Stanleys & treason & all the political undercurrents of 1485. This view frustrates me to no end. The show was about Richard III & what the scientists have discovered about his health, not a re-telling of the Battle of Bosworth. They put Smee through his paces & even though he hadn't trained in medieval warfare from childhood as Richard had, he put a big, fat "BS" stamp on all those claims that Richard was a coward, was weak, physically incapable of riding a horse, or leading troops in battle. 

The information about the changes in his diet (an uptake in alcohol consumption & more exotic table fare) was interesting, but not as important as Smee's demonstrations.  Anyone with passing knowledge of the Middle Ages knows that people didn't drink water. They drank various forms of beer & wine, all of which was a lot weaker than what we drink today.  And there is no evidence from anyone that Richard was anything but slender, so really, it's a tempest in a teapot. It wouldn't be the first time that evidence was sensationalized in order to get high ratings. It won't be the last.

After watching this show, I came away with a deeper respect for Richard as a human being.   It boggles my mind that despite the limitations caused by the scoliosis, he still took down at least two men larger & in better physical shape than him, before ultimately losing his life.  How anyone can think that a TV program that demonstrates this is a bad thing for Richard III is beyond me. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


In reading the legitimate reviews of the King Richard III Visitor Centre, it struck me how many reviews mentioned the same word, or variations of it: "Peace."

"It is peaceful." "peaceful surroundings" "quiet" "respectful" "peaceful"

Peace. Peace. Peace. Peace.


Think on this for a moment. Such a simple word. Such a simple concept. And yet:

From the moment he was born, Richard III never knew peace. True peace, that is. Not just a cessation of war, but peace from strife, in-fighting, scheming. Not one day. Ever. No wonder he ground his teeth down.

Richard lived in a snake pit, surrounded by family & "friends" who continually plotted & schemed to get "The Next Big Thing" for themselves. (I'm looking at you, Kingmaker.) He died in the midst of battle, betrayed by others still plotting & scheming to get their own "Next Big Thing." (why, hello there, Stanleys, Buckingham, & Lady Grey)

For the thirty-two years of his life on Earth, he never knew a moment of true peace, when he didn't have to worry about what someone was planning or plotting to do when he wasn't watching. (GEORGE!)

So it's almost a shock to see reviews of a Visitor Centre devoted to Richard III repeatedly using the one word people would not logically associate with him: "Peace."

Shortly before the judges announced their decision, I was on the fence about where Richard III should be re-interred. It really didn't matter to me because my own choice, Westminster Abbey, was so far out of the running, it never made it to the starting gate.

And then I watched a Youtube video about Leicester, & I was so struck by a feeling of peace, I knew instantly what the right decision should be. And so it was.

Isn't it a good thing, then, that it is Leicester where Richard will finally get the one thing he never had in life? Peace.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Holding on for a Hero (or a Leader)

Just a short note to express just how damn frustrated I am that the Ricardian leadership has yet to say anything about the controversy stirred up by the Pro Yorkist zealots & two of the main people involved in the search & discovery of Richard III's remains.

Not even the fact that this has hit the major media has gotten them to crack their jaws open. What the hell is going on?

If the Ricardian leadership is appalled at the coordinated, premeditated online abuse suffered by the much-anticipated King Richard III Visitor Centre, the longer this turmoil continues without comment from them, the further their own reputations sink.  The longer it takes them to say something, the more people will begin to think they condone it.

None of the leadership made a public appearance at the opening of the Visitor Centre last Saturday, & two of the main people involved were caught red-handed conspiring with the zealots to give the Centre false negative reviews.

The one occasion when leadership could have done the most to heal the rift & end the nonsense & not only were they silent, a couple of them added to the controversy!! (Were they members of the Stanley family in a past life? I'm beginning to wonder.)

It is beyond me just how these people could have let this opportunity get away from them!

Just when is someone going to stand up & say something to put an end to this nonsense? What are they afraid of? A few internet trolls? That some people will unfriend them on Facebook & say mean things about them on Twitter? Post fake reviews of their books on Amazon?

It's got to stop, and we're looking at you, leaders, to stop it, because that's what leaders do. If you're not willing to take a stand, then the time has come to step aside & let others take your place.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Richard III's Tomb Design: Hit? Miss? I Don't Know.

Today, the plans for Richard III's tomb design were released to the general public. I am not sure what to make of them. My first reaction was "Oh hell, no" but throughout the day, I've gone back to the designs & looked at them further & have found they are growing on me.

You can see them here:

I do like the black plinth. It makes the tomb (which will be white) stand out from its surroundings, instead of blending in. It will also help the white roses brought by Ricardians in tribute stand out as well.

While I'm not wild about the sole decoration on the tomb (a deeply-incised cross), I understand the symbolism behind it. Richard, after all, is being buried in a Christian church. He was a Christian himself, a devout one.

I admit also that I do not care for OTT memorials, all gaudy & showy (think Albert Memorial--omg poor Prince Albert!). There is need for something quiet, too.

I keep thinking of the initial reactions to the Vietnam Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. When the design was first announced, it was widely panned, but after it was completed & people got to see it first hand, it turned into one of the most popular & moving memorials constructed. I have a feeling that opinions about Richard III's tomb design will go through a similar metamorphosis.

I hope they announce the dates of the ceremony soon, as I really want to go to Leicester & be there when history happens there. Again.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Midnight at Grey Friars

Well, it might have happened this way. This is one of those stories that just come to me & I have to write down as it flows through my head. This is not intended to be a factual retelling of history. It is just what popped into my head when I was wondering how Richard's grave remained "known" yet "unknown," especially after the Dissolution & in light of the widespread belief that Richard's tomb was desecrated & his body thrown in the river.

William fell to his knees before the altar.  His brothers behind him did the same. ‘Forgive us, Lord, for what we are about to do.”  William remained on his knees for a moment longer, hoping for a sign that what they were about to do was not God’s will.  After a few moments, though, and there was no apparent sign of displeasure from God.  William sighed, crossed himself & rose to his feet.

His brothers stood up as soon as he rose. He could see their anxious faces illuminated in the candlelight. “Are you sure this is what we should do, William?” asked Thomas.

“What else would you have us do, Thomas? Let the King’s men come in, find out that the one tomb they’ve been looking for is here? You saw what they did with the tombs at Newarke & Black Friars! Would you have that happen to King Richard’s tomb as well?”

“We were sworn to protect his resting place, not destroy it!” argued James.

William groaned. “We’ve been over this again & again, James!  Either we do it & claim we can’t remember which tomb is the King’s or Tydder’s men destroy it & cast the body in the river along with the rest of the bodies they’ve desecrated!” he replied.

“At least our way, the King will remain in his resting place, undisturbed, James,” said Luke, the eldest of the group. “I remember Brother Matthew telling me how the King was buried here in haste, on Tydder’s  way out of town. The brothers did their best, since neither Tydder or his men offered them any help. They swore to themselves, after the new king left, to protect King Richard. Brother Matthew swore me to the same oath, as I swore all of you. As much as it pains me to destroy the outer monument, I will rest more soundly in my grave knowing he remains undisturbed in his.”

“I still don’t like it!” James thundered back, “but I admit we have little choice.”

The brothers all looked back at Willliam. “Then may God & King Richard forgive us all” said William as he picked up his hammer.

They took up the tools they brought with them & walked one last time to the King’s tomb.  They all seemed to hesitate, no one wanted to make the first strike on the modest, but well-cared for monument.
“We do this for you, King Richard. Loyalty binds us all,” said Luke.  He feebly raised his hammer & brought it down on the tomb.  His efforts made little damage to the monument, but the others, encouraged by his actions, quickly got to work. 

Although the monument was small, it was almost dawn before what was left was cleaned away. The brothers cleaned the stone & dust as best they could, placing the larger fragments in the wagon to haul away. 

William stood with Luke, looking at the bare space that was the only remnant of the King’s tomb left in the choir. “Do you think we did the right thing?” he asked.

“You know this was the only thing we could do. Now we can say we do not know where the King lies.” Luke replied. “Never doubt you did the right thing, Brother.”

“But how can a King of England lie in an unknown, unmarked grave, Brother Luke? He will be forgotten just as easily as he has become reviled!”

“Brother William, the deed is done! And it is better that he be forgotten, than to have his body desecrated & unable to rise with Christ upon His Return!  Would you rather that happen?”

“No, of course not.”

“Then do for yourself what you’ve asked God & King Richard a thousand times since we started: Forgive yourself.”

A crash behind them startled them. They turned to see Brother John & Brother Andrew struggle with some tiles. “Oh, sorry, Brother William, Brother Luke. We need to get started before the King’s Men come!” said John cheerily.

“What are those for?” asked William.

“To cover the bare space with, of course.  I thought it would look less obvious if covered in tile like the rest of the floor. The light in here is dim enough to make it look as though these tiles have been in place forever,” replied John.

“Please, brothers, you are in our way” added Andrew.

William & Luke nodded, stepping aside to let the Brothers do their work.

 When the King’s Men did arrive at Grey Friars, they found very little. A few men, one of them elderly, little treasure, & no monument to King Richard III. As William walked away from what had been his home, he overheard the following exchange:

“Well, how do we report this to the King, sir? We were charged particularly with destroying any monument to King Richard & disposing of what was left of his body,” asked one of the men to his leader.

“Easy, my friend. We find another monument, destroy it, & say that it was Richard’s! Who’s going to know the difference, or much less care!”

The door shut, & William smiled to himself. They had fulfilled their duties. The King was safe. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Sunne in Splendour, & in Laredo, Texas of All Places

This afternoon, social media lit up with photos of what the local weatherman informed us was a "circumscribed sun halo." It was absolutely amazing!! I, along with many others, ran outside & took photos of it on our cellphones. In many of them, a small dot appeared, which I initially thought was a planet or just the camera freaking out at being aimed at the sun. What that dot was, however, was a sun dog!!

As Ricardians all know, the sigil of Edward IV was "the sunne in splendour," to commemorate the three suns that appeared in the sky before the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in 1461.  These sun dogs were taken as good omens since Edward won the day. (If he had lost, would they have been considered bad omens?)

Anyway, if you have never seen a sun halo or a sun dog, here are some of the pictures that I took today, along with a few that were posted on Facebook by others.  It was really hard to get these shots, as the sun was incredibly bright. I simply aimed my phone in the general direction of the sun & hoped I got some good shots.

I took these just around 12:00 noon today, in the front yard of my house. The tree kept getting in the way, so I didn't get a clear shot of the entire inner halo. But there were two halos around the sun.

For more photos of this event taken around Laredo today, check out the Laredo Morning Times on Facebook:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Busting Up A Myth

I have been very busy this past month & haven't had time to post anything, but an interesting topic came up in a Richard III Facebook group that I'm in--the old chestnut of whether the bones buried in Westminster Abbey are those of Edward IV's sons. A poster named Rufus D. gave some very interesting information regarding just what goes into excavating stonework & cement today, & while the thread got eventually deleted because some people got over-emotional about the whole thing, what Rufus said really got me thinking.

Let's set aside for the moment the facts that no one who was part of the royal inner circle ever accused Richard of killing his nephews & the fact that Henry VII flipped his wig whenever a pretender appeared on the scene.  Also, please consider that if you are going to off someone, you want to do it on the quiet, with as few others involved as possible, and most importantly, as quickly as possible to avoid detection. Keep all this percolating in the back of your mind for the moment.

Also, please keep in mind  that the bones found in 1674 are not the only set of bones found within the Tower. "Too Many Bones in the Tower" & "Bones, Burials, & Bunkum" provide more details. These sites, along with the Center for Thomas More Studies, all cited below, are where I got my information for this article. They are all very interesting reads & I recommend them.

According to Thomas More, 8 men, besides Richard, were part of the conspiracy to murder his nephews: John Green, James & William Tyrell, Robert Brackenbury, Miles Forest, John Dighton, an unnamed priest associated with Brackenbury, & an unnamed page who somehow knew what Richard wanted to do.

Already, we have a problem. That's an awful lot of people to have in the know about a secret murder, don't you think? How widespread was this conspiracy, if Richard's page supposedly knew enough about it to suggest a couple of hit men? And if it was this widespread, why wasn't Elizabeth Woodville screaming her head off about it? Most importantly, why didn't Henry Tudor use this information to whip up opposition to Richard & use it as justification for usurping the throne? Because, let's call brass tacks brass tacks: Henry had a piss-poor claim to the throne on his own, so much so that even claiming it by right of conquest wasn't enough. He had to marry Edward IV's daughter to seal the deal, & even then, he still faced challenges. (Yes yes yes, I know he SAID he would marry her, but after Bosworth, he took his damn time going about it & had to be "reminded." Even after waiting to see that she wasn't pregnant by Richard. Creep.)

Back to More.

More wrote that the boys were murdered, buried at the foot of a staircase, "suitably deep" & under a great heap of stones." James Tyrell then rides off to Richard, who is on his way to Gloucester, to tell him the news. Upon hearing the news, Richard is happy but says the bodies need to be moved as they are not in a place proper for burial of a king's sons. So the priest goes back to the Tower, digs up the bodies & takes them to someplace unknown to anyone but himself. Keep in mind that all of this takes place in one night & that presumably nothing was out of place the next morning when the day shift arrived for work. And we're also going to have to presume that the priest worked alone.

Do I have to state the obvious that James Tyrell did not rush to Richard on the road to Gloucester in a shiny red sports car & that the men doing the grunt work of busting up a staircase, or the foot of one, did not use power tools to blast through stone & cement? Of course I do, because I'm a smart ass.

More ends his account of this event by telling us his information came from Dighton & James Tyrell, under torture (but conveniently leaves out that this happened in 1501 & 1502, decades later), & adds that the bodies of the Princes were "God knows where."

IF More isn't making this up out of whole cloth (I'm being polite), the Princes' bodies were not left at the Tower at all, but somewhere outside the Tower, in a location fitting for the sons of a king. Which, presumably, isn't the middle of the Tower yard or the moat, where other bones have been found in the Tower, or the River Thames. That place would presumably be in a church or an abbey, somewhere in a chapel or the sanctuary, & surely SOMEONE would have noticed that happening & remarked on it. (as an aside, other accounts made about the time More wrote have placed the bodies in the basement of the Wakefield Tower. Has anyone dug that up lately?)

Now let's look at the 1674 account, shall we? According to John Knight & Johann Gybbon, two skeletons were found while workmen were demolishing a staircase that led from the Royal apartments to the Chapel of St. John which is located in the White Tower itself. Knight states the bones were found 10' down, in the foundation. Please note: Gybbon & Knight state the bones were found "in" the staircase, not at the foot of the staircase. Knight also informs us that the workmen initially threw the bones into a rubbish heap along with other trash, including animal bones. 

I'm not sure if the above is the actual staircase (but it's says so on the Internet so we know it's true, right?), but I have been through the White Tower a few times & the staircases there are circular, stone ones, not wooden ones where all you need to do is pry loose a few boards, stuff something in (like, say, a couple of bodies), seal up with a couple of nails & a hammer, & then sit around reading the paper, trying to look innocent so the day shift won't think anything is amiss & wonder what that smell is.

Nope, they would have had to dig through stone & cement, in the Tower that was initially a military installation, built to withstand bombardment & invasion. It was not your random, creaky, rickety old wooden staircase, like the kind you would find at Grandma's house. Busting though stone & cement & digging 10' down into a foundation is a noisy, messy, time-consuming affair today. It is not something 2 men working with hand-tools can do in 8 hours & it is also not a job that can be started, covered up during the day, & then worked on the next night without someone noticing.  Either that, or we have to believe that a hole looking suspiciously like a grave was dug under a staircase that had been broken apart & NO ONE thought "Oh bother, can't use these stairs. Wonder what that's for & oh by the way, where are Edward V & his brother?"

Seriously, people. Take your blinders off & use your heads for something besides decoration & look at this logically. More is talking out of his hat, here.

Let's go back to what I told you to keep at the back of your mind for the moment:  It would have taken too many men too long to have put the bodies of Edward V & his brother where the bones were located (& initially discarded) in 1674.  Also, More has way too many men in on the conspiracy; surely ONE of them said something to someone at some point along the way, but only James Tyrell & Dighton did, and that was under torture, decades later. And why go through all the trouble of busting up a stone staircase (or the foot of it), when there's a handy moat & a river nearby to dump the bodies in, especially if you only have one night to complete your task? Or, if that's not a satisfying place given these are royal bodies you're trying to hide, wouldn't it be easier to stuff them into bags & take them out by wagon to a suitable spot?

Were Edward V & Richard, Duke of York murdered or were they smuggled out of the Tower & England? We will probably never know. But I can say this: More's account simply makes no sense when you take it apart & really look at it. Can we finally bury that account somewhere & stop using it as "proof" of what happened?

Sources: More's History of Richard III, specifically pages 75-79.
"Too Many Bones" by Becky Adjoran
"Bones, Burials, & Bunkum" by Donald Maclachlan

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Stephen Hawes

Someone asked today if Stephen Hawes was one of Richard III"s illegitimate children, as he is listed as a brother to Richard's daughter, Katherine on a genealogical website. (This came up because apparently it has been discovered that Katherine was buried in London & may be located. People started looking her up online & came across an entry on a genealogical website that lists Stephen Hawes as her brother.) 

From personal experience, I know there are often mistakes, made honestly or due to extreme wishful thinking, on these websites. I've come across it in my own family tree. I also know that many times, family oral history is often based on truth. It may be misinterpreted, misunderstood, exaggerated, but more often than not, the truth can be found with enough persistence, research, & a heck of a lot of luck. As more sources come online, researchers today have access to more records than researchers of the past had.

Back to Stephen Hawes. At noon today, I knew absolutely nothing about this man. Within an hour, searching online, on my lunch break, I found out the following:

Stephen Hawes was born about 1474 or 1475, in Suffolk, "where the surname is common," according to wiki. He was a groom to Henry VII & during that time, was granted the right to 4 yards of black cloth for mourning when Queen Elizabeth (Richard's niece) died. He wasn't part of Henry's household when Henry died however, & it is thought he died around 1523. He was paid for a play he wrote for Henry VIII in 1521 & his will, naming Katherine his wife as his beneficiary, was probated in 1523. He was a well-known, popular poet of the day & was educated at Oxford.

As of now, the only "source" for Richard III being Stephen Hawes' father  (other than genealogical websites & God knows where they got their information from) is wiki, which states "it has been suggested" that Hawes was Richard's son.  That, in my book, is tantamount to "extreme wishful thinking" on someone's part & should remain so until a credible source can be found. This does not mean, however, that you can't go snooping around to see what you can find & then discussing it.

 However, just for even LOOKING for information about Stephen Hawes & speculating whether he had direct descendants alive today, some people got up in arms about the whole thing, calling it a fairy tale. I pointed out that three years ago, "experts" were saying we'd never find Richard III because "everyone knows" his remains were tossed in a river. That didn't stop the wet blankets, though, who proceeded to try to school me on mtDNA (when I was discussing Y DNA). 

Ahem. (glances down to first entry on this blog)

If this is what Philippa had to deal with before she finally found someone to help her find Richard, the woman deserves not just a medal, but a statue.

I'm going to keep looking into this little puzzle & will post updates if/when I find something of interest, & that is credible, to add.

Some sources (although you can Google Stephen Hawes on your own as there are way more than this):
Dictionary of National Biography

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hicks & Biddle need to put the shovel down

(generally the advice I give to people wanting out of the holes they've dug for themselves)

They just don't want to admit they got pantsed by amateurs on what is probably one of the greatest finds in archaeology since King Tut. This is another long read, but worth it. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

An awesome take down

Okay, this link is quite a long read, but it's worth it, I promise.

My thoughts: So, complete skeleton, found where history says he was buried, plus evidence of a curved spine, plus DNA evidence = "nope, can't say it's him, too many other possibilities" but a partial pelvic bone, which may or may not be male, which has been moved around more times thanElizabeth Taylor was married, which was mixed in with remains of other persons = yup, we can say it might be him.  Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that Biddle was involved in the 2nd search & not the first one, could it?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ralph de Greystoke, 5th Baron Greystoke

And now for my next trick.

After the excitement of discovering a family connection to the Plantagenets & Richard III, I became more interested in my direct ancestor, Ralph de Greystoke. I learned he was at Bosworth and fought for Richard III via a footnote which mentioned a folk song written about the Battle, but I have yet to find a copy of that song to read it.

I still have no clue whose ranks he was in, where he was on the battlefield, or if he brought any men with him.
I just hope to God he didn't show up with Stanley! (Boo Hiss!)

I did find his coat of arms, & that caused some minor panic because prominently displayed on them is the Red Rose of Lancaster (Boo! Hiss!).

But all is right in the state of Greystoke, for while he was initially on the Lancastrian side, he switched allegiances once Margaret of Anjou (Boo! Hiss!) sold Berwick to the Scots around 1461. He was knighted by Richard (when he was still Duke of Glouster) after serving with him in the battles with the Scots to win Berwick back to the English side.

I have found some links about him in the Court of Edward IV & will be looking at those next, as well as information about Berwick.
It's been a few days since I posted something, & I came across this on Facebook. Couldn't resist. I'm currently working on another post, which I should finish this weekend.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Joan Beaufort & Her Many Descendants

In articles printed this past week, Michael Hicks stated that the remains of the body found under a parking lot in Leicester might not be those of King Richard III, on the basis that his maternal grandmother had many children, & so her mitochondrial DNA wasn't so rare as we have been led to believe. Hicks stated that the skeleton could be that of one of Richard III's many cousins, or even that of an unrelated person who happened to die of similar injuries.

I happened to have some spare time & so I decided to run the numbers myself. Hicks' statement certainly sounds alarming. Joan Beaufort did have a passel of children, many of whom had children who survived to adulthood. It's possible.

Michael Hicks' Position: That the skeleton found in Leicester could not be that of Richard III because too many other people at the time had the same mitochondrial DNA as Joan Beaufort.

Here are the givens in this little logic puzzle:

Given: Joan Beaufort's mtDNA was Haplogroup J. Specifically J1c2c.

Given: mtDNA is passed from mother to child, so all of Joan Beaufort's children will be part of the same haplogroup.

Given: Only daughters will pass along mtDNA to their children, so the only grandchildren of Joan Beaufort who will share her mtDNA haplogroup will be those born to her daughters.

Given: The Wars of the Roses lasted from 1455 to 1487, fought in sporadic battles.
Given: Many of the combatants in the Wars of the Roses were members of the Plantagenet family, belonging or loyal to the York branch or the Lancaster branch.
Given: The remains are those of a male who died in his late 20's to early 30's.
Given: The radiocarbon dating results show they can be dated to approximately 1475-1530
Given: Richard III died at the age of 32, at the Battle of Bosworth & is recorded as being buried in Leicester.

Data: Joan Beaufort had 16 children, 10 sons & 6 daughters.

Looking at the sons, 4 died prior to 1455. Only 1 died in battle: Richard Neville, at Wakefield in 1460. All of her sons died before 1485. None of her sons are documented as being buried in Leicester.

Out of 10 sons, none were buried in Leicester.
Total number of sons who could be the one whose remains were found in Leicester: 0

Data: Joan's Daughters-- Joan's daughters had 26 sons (& numerous daughters; I'll get to them next). Out of those 26, 10 died prior to 1455. Only 1 grandson survived the War of the Roses, Ralph de Greystoke, who died in 1487.* Five others (not including Richard) died in various battles of the Wars of the Roses: 1st Battle of St. Albans, Wakefield, Towton, Hedgeley Moor. Of those remaining, not including Richard, they died prior to 1485 & none were buried in Leicester.

Of this group, only TWO were at the Battle of Bosworth. One survived (Ralph de Greystoke) & one died (Richard III). Ralph de Greystoke was in his 70's or 80's. Richard III was 32. Ralph was buried at Kirkham. Richard III is recorded as being buried in Leicester.

Out of 26 grandsons born to Joan's daughters, the total number who could be the one whose remains were found in Leicester: 1

Data: Joan's Daughters' Daughters--There were 22 great-grandsons born who fit the criteria for having Joan's mtDNA AND were old enough to participate in the Wars of the Roses AND be old enough to have been in their late 20's-early 30's when they died.

Of this number, 13 died before 1485. 2 died at Towton. The remaining 9 died after 1485. Please note: There were more great-grandsons than 22; however, they were too young to have been at Bosworth, or if they had, they were too young to have been the remains found in Leicester. Furthermore, none were recorded as having been buried in Leicester.

On edit: It appears that at least 1 of Joan's great-grandsons was at Bosworth: John de la Pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln. However, he died in 1487 at the Battle of East Stoke.  

Total number of great-grandsons who could be the one whose remains were found in Leicester: 0

Conclusion: Out of 58 descendants of Joan Beaufort who could fit the criteria of having her mtDNA, only 2 3 are recorded as being present at the Battle of Bosworth. Only one of those two  three died at Bosworth & is recorded as being buried in Leicester, & that one is Richard III. 

Well, it was worth a shot, I suppose. Of course, you could move the goal posts & start yammering about Joan Beaufort's mother or grandmother, but only someone losing an argument does that.

On a side note, it was rather sobering to look at the destruction this family did to itself. Was it worth it? I can't answer that. I was really surprised to see that despite the large number of possible descendants, only 2 were at Bosworth. I myself started this little exercise thinking there were many more, maybe 10. But 2 3, with 1 surviving the Battle?

*Ralph de Greystoke is my many-times great-grandfather. This means I am a 1st cousin, 18 times removed, of Richard III.