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.