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.