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. 


  1. I am in agreement with you. Richard's health, now that it is known, no doubt caused him to suffer pain and fatigue AND STILL he performed his royal duty to God and country faithfully. Perhaps the wine eased the pain for him a bit. Thank you for sharing this link with me otherwise I never would have seen it. :-)

  2. I agree with your assessment, but I would like to add that I was quite impressed by Dom Smee and genuinely heartened that his experience has given him confidence about his real abilities and to feel capable of much more than he had previously. I also wonder if Richard's physical conditioning because he had trained from an early age would have mitigated some of the effects of the scoliosis and that he might have had more lung capacity since ribs regenerate every three years (according to the show).