Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lazy Sunday Musing: The Weirdness of English

One of the things I find most fascinating is how the English language has evolved over time. Every now & then, videos & articles show up on Facebook demonstrating how researchers believe English sounded centuries ago. It's easy enough to SEE the changes (how many of us had to memorize the "Prologue" to Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales?"), but what did the language SOUND like?

Here's one really good clip that I shared on Facebook this week, "Speke Parrott" by Jack Skelton, poet laureate under Henry VII: 

While he wasn't at court during Richard's era, he did arrive in 1488, so what you hear in this poem is very close to the English spoken in Richard's court.

Here's another clip, this time with a researcher reading aloud one of Richard III's own letters:

While we can recognize words & phrases in these clips, it does sound as though Early & Middle English are foreign languages & not English at all.  Because of this, I often wonder if people who lived back then would be able to understand our modern English.  It's an interesting conundrum that's not often addressed in time travel novels, movies, & TV shows ("Doctor Who" & "Star Trek" are exceptions.) 

The most interesting thing I learned about English this week did not come from a video, however. It came from an article on Mental Floss by Arika Okrent & discusses why we say "won't" instead of "willn't."

It's always fascinating to find out new things about English, even more so when they connect with Richard III. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Life Does a 180 (A Memory of 9/11/2001)

Three minutes. 180 seconds. 

Three minutes was all it took for life, as I knew it, to shatter & 

to feel like I fell down a rabbit  hole. The amount of time it 

took me to pull into the parking lot, turn off the radio, get out

of my car, walk into my office, turn on the computer, and

then, the radio. 

180 seconds 

to go from "Workin' for the Weekend"(played a few days 

early for some reason) to "We've just confirmed that...." 

I don't remember much about the rest of that day....but I do 

remember clearly 

those 180 seconds.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Reblog: Witness to HIstory Reflections on the Burial of Richard III by Susan Frost

Several months ago, I was approached by Susan Frost to give some of my thoughts on the events in Leicester this past March. I had forgotten completely about it until yesterday, when she posted the link to her article.  I have linked to it below & recommend it.  She interviewed many people, including Phil Stone & Philippa Langley, & her article includes her own photographs.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Just sayin'

I prefer to keep my blog about ideas & events surrounding Richard III, including any breakthroughs in archaeology or historical research. Unfortunately, not all blogs hold this view & actually encourage cyber-stalking, bullying, & harassment of people they deem "anti-Richard," whatever that means. All you have to do is read a particular blog's entries to figure out what type of blog it is.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Where's the Hump? Or, Richard III in Keevil Manor (UPDATE)

It never fails to amaze me how I come across the inspiration for another blog entry.  For example, this morning, a friend posted a link to her results from searching "Richard III" on the National Trust Collections website.  I did my own search, & discovered this rather striking, modern-looking portrait of Richard III.
In looking at the additional information, I discovered that it is dated to approximately 1650 & came into the National Trust from Keevil Manor in 1910.  It is now on display at Westwood Manor in Wiltshire, according to the National Trust website.

Apart from the rather 20th Century look this portrait has, what piqued my curiosity was  the lack of any deformity one would think would have been shown in a portrait of Richard III done centuries after his death.  If "Tudor propaganda" was so successful & so ingrained as we are practically beaten over the head to believe, where is the hump? And why would there be a portrait of Richard III in Keevil Manor? Where is Keevil Manor anyway?

So off I went in search of this information.  What I found was rather interesting & some familiar names crop up in it.  As it happens, Keevil Manor was owned by the Earls of Arundel. During the reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, & Richard III, the Earl of Arundel was William Fitzalan.  He participated in Henry VI's "Loveday Council" in 1458, but his Yorkist loyalties were such that he had to be ordered by the king to stop footdragging & attend.  He fought at the Second Battle of St. Albans for the Yorkist side, and in 1483, served as "Pincerna" (cupbearer) at Richard's Coronation.  He is listed as a Bosworth Combatant on Richard's side as well, but that didn't prevent him from being "Pincerna" at Henry VII's coronation a few months later.  Keevil Manor itself was later sold in the 16th Century to Richard Lambert, husband of Alice Paston (!!).  The current manor dates from this time & is located about 13 miles southeast of Bath.

Although I didn't find an answer to satisfy my curiosity about this portrait, I'm quite happy with the results of my search.  I found a new-to-me portrait of Richard, learned a little bit more about one of the Yorkist supporters, & another museum to visit on a future trip to the U.K.    Plus, I have a lot of information to use while speculating why this portrait doesn't have a hump!

UPDATE: I came home this evening to do some more searching online to see what I could find out about this painting.  I came across a Trip Advisor review of Westwood Manor & looked through the photos posted there.  In the slideshow, I came across the photo below.  It appears that this portrait is part of a "Kings & Queens of England" series from the 17th Century, but that still doesn't explain to me how or why the "Tudor propaganda"-inspired hump wasn't included or how this portrait came to resemble Richard so closely.  Was it a copy from a now-lost original?

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Last Medieval King of England

History very rarely has bright line rules where you can say one historical era ended and another began.  Richard III is often called the last king from the Medieval time period in England, & some people seem to get upset by that.  The statement isn't exactly correct, but because we like to have bright line rules & definitive starting & stopping points, I think Richard gets the "honor" of being the last Medieval king because of the incredible number of changes that happened during the Renaissance & Reformation, most of which occurred after he died.  

For example, just a tantalizing seven years after Richard died, Columbus set sail for China & ended up wandering around the Caribbean.  And a couple of decades after that, Martin Luther did the equivalent of starting a petition on Change(dot)org: He nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Church in Wittenberg. (Some wet blankets are now pointing out he merely mailed them to the bishop, but that doesn't make a good story, does it?), precipitating Henry VIII to write a defense of the Catholic Church, for which he was awarded the title "Defender of the Faith." At this point, events happen like collapsing dominoes--it's impossible to keep up with all the changes and inventions happening, so in the interest of simplicity (and sanity), we end up with Richard III being the last medieval king & Henry VIII being the first Renaissance king. (Forgive me, but I get a big kick out of Henry VII being relegated to the status of historical place holder.)

Geoffrey Chaucer (d. 1400), The Canterbury Tales (Westminster: William Caxton, about 1483). PML 693, f. q6v. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased with the Bennett Collection, 1902.
However, one of the hallmarks of the Renaissance, the printing press, was actually invented & in full use during the majority of Richard's life.  The credit is given to Johannes Gutenberg, who printed off 180 copies of the Bible in 1455, three years after Richard was born.  Books became more affordable and literacy spread beyond the nobility & upper classes.  In the context of England, the printing press was brought to England by William Caxton in 1476, when Ricard was 24.  Caxton set up his press at Westminster and began running off copies of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." (Interesting side note: Chaucer was married to the sister of Katherine Roet, mother of Joan Beaufort, whose mitochondrial DNA helped identify Richard's remains.)

Jacobus de Voragine (ca. 1229–1298).
The Golden Legend.
Translated and enlarged by William Caxton.
Westminster: William Caxton, [between 20 November 1483 and March 1484]. 
Bridwell Library | Perkins School of Theology | Southern Methodist University 

Richard was a bibliophile & owned several printed books.  Caxton even dedicated one book to Richard, according to the Richard III Society: "Order of Chivalry." Access to published material & the spread of learning was so important to Richard & his one Parliament, that an exemption to "anti-alien" legislation was made so that clergymen & scholars could still have access to & import publications printed abroad and in languages other than English. 

It is in a way unfortunate that Richard, a well-educated man who valued literacy & promoted & supported education & the printing press during his lifetime, is associated with the Middle Ages, a time period most people associate with superstition, plagues, & illiteracy.  But in a way, speculating on what Richard would have done & how he would have reacted to the changes that were just around the corner from 1485 is one of the reasons people are still fascinated by him 500 years on.

Note on the illustrations: I chose the Wife of Bath illustration because she went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, which I have also done. While her story is bawdy (Richard would probably have said "Merrie"), her tale has special meaning for me as it is one of the earliest mentions in the English language of this particular pilgrimage.  In Chaucer's time, the pilgrimage to Santiago was already over 500 years old.

The second illustration is from a book printed by Caxton during Richard's own reign. Both books were printed at Westminster.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

"The Bones of a King" Book Review Part I

I recently purchased the latest book published regarding the discovery of Richard III's remains, "The Bones of a King."  The book is a group effort by the Greyfriars Research Team, along with Maev Kennedy & Lin Foxhall.  By now there are countless books all covering the same topic. What I was hoping to get at long last was a book that was informative, accurate, but without the unnecessary drama that some books seem to focus on. And, well, for the most part, that is what I'm reading.  
Credit: Me

I will say that it was rather eye-opening (& not in a good way) to crack open my book & discover that the tomb of Edmund, Earl of Rutland has been identified in the book as that of "Duke Edward." Now, I've been the victim of guerrilla typos myself, but that error should have been caught & corrected before the book went to print. I hope it's corrected before the 2nd edition comes out. 

I've decided to write my review in parts as I read the book because there's always something really interesting that I seem to forget to add to my reviews.  

The book itself starts at the beginning, with the team doing the research needed to figure out the best places to dig as well as the most likely places the remains of the Greyfriars Church could be.  They were limited in time, money, and available space, so figuring out where to dig was a high priority.  Keep in mind that even the earliest maps we have identifying where the Greyfriars priory was were not drafted within living memory.  The book includes the Thomas Roberts map from the 18th Century, as well as a modern-day reconstruction of medieval Leicester.  What I find most remarkable is that all these maps, based on oral history, turned out to be stunningly accurate once the archaeologists were able to excavate the ruins & research what they found.

Another beef with this book:  While the authors mention several people who correctly identified where Richard's remains were likely to be (including David Baldwin), they left out Audrey Strange, the  lady from the 1960's who was told to go wash pots when she nicely suggested where archaeologists could dig.  I only hope the "scientist" who told her that was still alive in 2013 for his nice big helping of crow. For an interesting look at Mrs. Strange, check out her son's web page about her:   How accurate was she with that facial reconstruction she did!

What I have found most interesting about the book thus far is the inclusion of the Epitaph that reportedly was hung by Richard's tomb within the church of the Greyfriars.  The authors of the book include all the translations of it & I have to say, as much as I'd love George Buck's version to be true, none of the other translations agree with his, so I think Buck's translation was wishful thinking. 

The authors also go into a discussion of how & why Richard ended up at Greyfriars when there were several other churches in Leicester he could have been interred at, such as St. Mary de Castro, where his father was knighted & created Duke of York.  The authors point out that several of the friars had been convicted of treason some 80 years before & beheaded.  (In fact, the researchers thought they might find their bodies during the dig)  The idea struck me that maybe Henry VII was sending some sort of message that Richard was a traitor, but because he was a king, he was interred without being beheaded in a place of honor inside the church of the Greyfriars, but not in a place that the public had access to.   I haven't read further in the book yet to see if the authors pick up on this connection; it's certainly not one I've seen anywhere else.

Overall, I am thus far pleased with this book.  It includes sources at the ends of each chapter, as well as suggestions for further reading both on & offline.  Major bonus: NO DRAMA! (well, at least up to Chapter 3) And now, on to Chapter 4. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Kicking Tin Cans Along the Road of History (this is a long one, folks)

When I was growing up, I had to walk to school each day, maybe half a mile or so.  Unlike a lot of kids, I preferred to walk by myself, kicking a rock or a can down the street as I walked.  There was something soothing, pleasant about doing this that attracted me.

I’ve kept this habit throughout the years, except that the “tin cans” I actually kick around now are ideas in my head.  I look for patterns, trying to make little puzzle pieces fit or look at things in a different light.  I read different sources, talk to different people with different life experiences than me, think about how people today would act under similar circumstances.  It also helps that I’ve never seen the point of just accepting something because a lot of other people believe it. I’m more interested in WHY such things are believed wholeheartedly, without question.  I find especially suspect ideas that people insist you cannot challenge, or must accept, because if you don’t, it just means you “haven’t read all the sources.”  (Well, perhaps I HAVE, but I have questions I’d like to have answered first, thanks.)

And so it is with all the wonderful little puzzles that make up the life of Richard III.  With the “traditional” view consistently being challenged (more than ever now that  his remains have been found & all the interest his reinterment in Leicester continues to generate), and revisionist theories sometimes confused with historical fiction wishful thinking, this “can kicking” technique has lead me to some rather interesting ideas.

For example, the belief, stemming from historical fiction, that Richard was the one who convinced his brother George to reunite with Edward.  Lots of people believe it, & so did I, until someone asked me a simple question “Have you read 'The Arrivall of Edward IV?'” Well, no, I hadn’t, but I quickly looked it up & read the relevant portion regarding Edward, George, & Richard.  As it turns out, it was Cecily Neville & her daughters who put the pressure on George to switch sides.  I’m sure it didn’t escape George’s notice that if Edward won, Warwick would either be dead or executed, & his lands & wealth forfeit. Who better to take over all that wealth than Warwick’s own son-in-law?  I’m just speculating here, but what if that was the bait Edward had his mother & sisters use to reel George in? 

And what about Richard? Much is made, in contemporary sources & sometimes exaggerated in historical fiction, of his loyalty to his brother, Edward, in such a trying time. While it may have made sense to jump sides & go with Warwick, Richard chose to remain loyal to Edward. Could part of that reason why have been Richard looking at those same Warwick lands & wealth?  I’m sure by now some heads are exploding because this idea challenges the Saint Richard of Plantagenet view of his loyalty, but it is only human to consider your own best interests in making decisions.  Counting on Edward winning his crown back was a huge gamble, but it would mean both Warwick AND George out of the way & again, all those lovely Warwick lands & wealth there just waiting for someone to get them.  He wouldn’t even have to marry Isabel or Anne to get them, either, which is just as well seeing as how they were (or became) married women.

Speculation:  If Richard thought he would be getting all the Warwick inheritance for himself, perhaps he was not so pleased as we’ve been lead to think when George reconciled with Edward.  While “The Arrivall” describes the reconciliation in extraordinary detail & states that Richard & George made pleasantries, you have to remember that they were “on stage” at that point. Public behavior is many times the exact opposite of private behavior.  The war was still on & any public sign of dissension in the ranks, especially among the three York brothers, would have been widely reported & remarked upon.  But everyone behaved themselves & did the 15th Century equivalent of playing nice for the cameras.  But oh to be a fly on the wall once the doors were shut & it was just those three alone in a room together.

As we all know, Edward triumphed over the Lancastrians & Warwick, with Warwick & Henry VI’s son dying in battle. (Well, that solved a couple of problems.)  But now, if you’re Edward & you’re smart, you’re not quite so certain that one man should be in control of all of Warwick’s domain.  Especially if that man has already demonstrated a lack of loyalty & a willingness to take up arms against you.  So, how do you go about solving this conundrum, seeing as how you’ve already forgiven your brother & so can’t attaint him, taking away his wife’s inheritance?  Wouldn’t you find it handy that there is another Warwick daughter, recently widowed, who you can pair up with your baby brother?

This would mean, of course, that Richard & Anne were not childhood sweethearts (& really, they couldn’t have been, seeing as how he was 4 years older than she was & what 13-year-old in his right mind gets a crush on a 9-year-old?).  I can hear more heads exploding at this point, but in reality, the idea that you marry the person you’re in love with is a relatively recent invention.  In medieval times, people got married because the match was a good one to progress the families’ interests, not the couple’s.  They may have been friends & liked each other, or even felt affection towards each other, but “riding off in the sunset together” soulmate love? Nope.

(More heresy: I sometimes wonder if Anne thought becoming the Duchess of Gloucester was a demotion from being the Princess of Wales, even if it meant she didn’t have to live out her days in a convent. I’m not sold on the image of a goody-goody, pale & frail Anne Neville.  She wasn’t raised to be sweet & innocent.)

So, with Edward’s blessing, Richard goes off in search of Anne, while Edward publicly tells Richard to find another bride, like say, maybe, Isabella of Castile, in order to keep George happy & off his back. We all know at this point what happened: Richard & Anne married secretly (funny this is never a problem for THEIR marriage :cough:precontract:cough: ), George had a massive cow (pun intended), Richard gave up some titles & some of the Warwick inheritance to make George happy, & Edward had successfully divided said inheritance up so that one man could not control it & use it to challenge his throne.

See how that works?

Maybe this is how it all happened. Maybe it isn't. That's the beauty of the life of Richard III. So many possibilities, so many questions to keep people intrigued over 500 years on. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Richard's Hair Color

Ever since the research conducted on Richard III's DNA revealed that he had blond hair that darkened as he aged, people have troubled & argued over what his hair looked like exactly. According to Dr. Turi King, who conducted the research, the painting that comes the closest to what she believes Richard's hair color to have been is the portrait owned by the Society of Antiquaries.


The owners of the facial reconstruction went a bit further, & turned the reconstruction into a medieval version of a Ken doll: 
credit: Me

It doesn't look that bad up close, but under TV lights, no.

Reaction to Richard's new wig was not positive, to say the least. I've heard that they are going to change the hair color yet again, & hopefully this time it will be closer to the correct shade.

In the meantime, if you want to get an idea of what Richard's hair color most likely was, you need look no further than Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.  Here is a photo of Prince William and his son, Prince George, taken this weekend after the Trooping of the Colour:
Credit: AP/Tim Ireland

For further comparison, here is the photograph released by Kensington Palace on their Twitter account, with side-by-side photographs:

It's a little ironic that you can illustrate what Richard's hair color might have been by using examples from the current Royal Family, I think. But this photo collage is an excellent example of how someone's blond hair can darken as they age.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I Would Like to Thank the Academy

Or rather, the editors of the new online newsletter for the Richard III Society-American Branch.  I was asked if I would give permission for them to use one of my articles ( )along with the photographs, in the first edition of their newsletter. It was an interesting experience, and came on the heels of another request for an interview and photographs to be published later this summer.  Both offers came completely out of the blue at a time when I wasn't feeling particularly upbeat. 

 In this issue are several articles by others who were also in Leicester for the reinterment ceremonies, including my good friend & Fellow Loon Susan Troxell, so if you're jonesing for more pictures and eyewitness accounts, check out this link:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How Do You Know When the "True Ricardians" Are Bored?

Sometimes, you just gotta vent. This is one of those times.

Instead of finding something interesting to research & write on, every now & then, the "True Ricardians" get bored & post little hit pieces on their blogs & other social media to see if they can stir things up.  They derive much amusement from calling other people names & making reference to their own little in-jokes, none of which actually advances Ricardian scholarship. I've been stunned to see the drivel that has actually been posted on one "serious" blog. How low those standards have sunk!

The "True Ricardians" love throw around labels like "fake" or "anti" Ricardians any chance they get.  Of course, if you ask them to actually define all those terms, they just ignore your question. I have noticed, however, that the people & groups labelled as "fake" or "anti" Ricardian are those that dare to ask difficult, uncomfortable questions & those that conduct adult conversations about what happened back in 1483-1485.

There are plenty of topics & theories out there to keep everyone interested in Richard III & his times occupied without falling back on writing attack blogs & resorting to name-calling. There are no such things as "True," "fake," or "anti" Ricardians, anyway. We're all just "Ricardians," even if some are dead wrong, er have different opinions about Richard.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Random Thoughts & Shots from the Reinterment Week

Cutest photobomb ever :)
I was going through all the photos that I took on my trip & decided to post a few random ones that I took here & there.  The above shot is from Sunday at Bosworth Battlefield.  We were really early, on the first bus, & the volunteer guiding us had this amazing standard (which was not for sale in the gift shop--boooo). She held it out so we could take pictures of it & was I surprised to see this little cutie show up in my photo! I didn't see her when I took the picture, but there she was.

Here are some various photos that I took in & around St. Mary de Castro, where Richard's father was knighted.

Chapel with Richard's picture in it.
I told myself to write down why this chapel has a connection to Richard, but nooo. But it does & it's important enough for the church to let you know that. Ah well, next time....

I love seeing how the sun makes the colors from stained glass shine inside churches.  St. Mary de Castro is essentially two churches in one: one side for the nobility & the other side was for the commoners (back in the day when John of Gaunt was around).  Now the wall separating the sanctuaries has been taken down & replaced with pillars, so the church is open to all.
Main Altar in the Royal side of the Church

Stained glass colors shining on the stone work

There are only three of these guys decorating the pews of the church:

Green Man (Victorian Era carving)

Spring flowers in the churchyard

St. Mary de Castro

The Tree of Life, a gorgeous artwork commissioned by Holy Cross Priory for the Requiem Mass celebrated there. I was lucky & shown to a seat in the Lady Chapel, which had a direct view of the main altar. As a result, I had my eyes on the vestment from Richard's royal wardrobe all night long. It is so beautiful & a miracle that it survived & was in good enough condition to use. I didn't get a photo of it because you're not supposed to take pictures during religious services.  But fortunately, I was able to get a photo of the Tree of Life afterward. It was especially commissioned by Holy Cross Priory for the Requiem Mass.
Tree of Life

Another of the original misericords from Fotheringhay Church. I'm pretty sure Richard also saw & touched this one. A rather "interesting" carving to put in a church, huh?
Unusual Misericord
Still not a fan of the blond wig on the facial reconstruction. If they went just a little bit darker (& curlier), it would be a lot more accurate.
Blondie doesn't look that bad in this light

Stood in line for 3 hours, but it was worth it to be one of the first to see Richard's tomb in place.

Richard's tomb & motto

Window that shines on Richard's tomb

The screen separating Richard's tomb from the main sanctuary
And a side view of what I call the "Everything is Awesome!" chair.

View of the screen & chapel beyond from the main sanctuary

I find it interesting that a month later, & I'm still thinking back to this week & everything I did, all the people I met, the experiences we shared.  From looking at my Facebook feed, I'm not the only one. But the week was an important one for those of us who went. We were part of something unique that will never happen again, so I guess it makes sense that we're all still thinking about it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

From Birth to Death in One Day & Sixty Miles

St. Mary & All Saints, Fotheringhay
While I will always remember the week I spent with my Ricardian friends, the day that stands out the most to me is the day we went to Fotheringhay for a special service in honor of Richard's parents & older brother, Edmund.

The day started early, as we had to set up refreshments in the community center before the church service started.  We weren't expecting many people, maybe the 15 who had said they would be there. To our surprise, 60 people attended, filling the pews of this beautiful little church which was built on orders of Richard's father, the Duke of York, before he was born.  A copy of the contract to build the church, the only one of its kind in existence dating to medieval times, is displayed in the sanctuary.

The Falcon & the Fetterlock, the device of Richard's father
The church of St. Mary & All Saints was once much larger than it now is, but thanks to time & the Reformation, just a small portion of it remains.  We were lucky that day. The sun was shining brightly through the windows of the church.  I could only imagine how it would look if all of the windows were made of colored glass.  An English version of Paris' gorgeous Sainte Chappelle! One of the guides told us that the church is popular for summer weddings. Imagine being married in such a beautiful place!

The York Window casting colors on the white walls
It was here at Fotheringhay that Richard was born & here he served as chief mourner at the reinterment of his father & brother Edmund. While their original tombs had to be rebuilt (on orders of Elizabeth I), the church still contains the original pulpit constructed on the orders of Edward IV, complete with the heraldic devices of both Richard, then Duke of Gloucester, & George, Duke of Clarence.  
Pulpit of Edward IV

You have to get up close & inside the pulpit in order to get clear pictures of the Boar & the Bull:
The White Boar of Richard, Duke of Gloucester
The Black Bull of Clarence:
Heraldic device of George, Duke of Clarence, the Jan Brady of the York Brothers
The tombs of Richard's parents & his older brother Edmund face each other on opposite sides of the main altar.  I had wondered earlier if Edmund had his own heraldic device, but it doesn't appear that he did. His tomb was decorated with the device of his father, the Falcon & the Fetterlock.
Tomb of Edmund, Earl of Rutland, who was murdered after battle when he was only 17.
After the service at the church, & refreshments & an interesting talk by Susan Troxell in the community center, we headed to another church nearby to examine some misericords.  These misericords were originally part of the church at Fotheringhay & were there when Richard lived there.  On one of them was a decoration familiar to Ricardians:
Look familiar?
It was so amazing & emotional to see & touch something Richard also saw & touched over 500 years ago.  So much from his time has been lost. It's a miracle anything survives & in such good condition that it is still in weekly use! We felt like teenage nerds, but ones who wander into churches (with the key!) & take pictures of misericords. 

After a short stop at this tiny church, our group went in separate directions.  Since one person in the vehicle I was in had not been to Bosworth, we decided to head there so she could get some pictures before the sunset.  As luck would have it, we were close enough to Fenn Lane Farms before the sun went completely down, & so we were able to stand on the road which overlooks the field where Richard lost his life.  
Fenn Lane Farm, the actual battle site

While this picture may not look like much, I was so emotionally overcome at this moment, I started crying.  I actually "felt" the presence of the spirits who still wander this field, 530 years after the battle.  I'm sure all of the activity woke them up, especially since several men stood vigil for Richard the night before the procession to Leicester.  It was as though I felt the weight of a half- millennia's worth of unexpressed emotions clamoring  for an outlet, for release.  Perhaps all of the people in the crowds & those who felt drawn to Leicester were answering this call & now that these emotions have found voice, the healing & restoring of Richard's reputation can now begin in earnest.

It was later, on our way back to Leicester, that we realized we traveled the length of Richard's life in one day, & that the place where he was born & the place where he died are only 60 miles apart.  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

About the Queen....

I can't believe it has been three weeks since the dramatic events in Leicester. I'm still processing everything that happened. Friends & family who don't ordinarily share my love of history in general & fascination with Richard III in particular still comment on the events as they followed them via my posts on Facebook & news stories they saw in the papers & on TV.

And yet, there are still those who want to do nothing but complain about the events in Leicester because they wanted Richard III reinterred in York Minster. They hold themselves out as the only "true" Ricardians, & some of these elitist snobs showed up in Leicester bound & determined to find offense at every possible thing. And because you always find what you're looking for, they did. I've seen complaints about the young girl who placed the crown on Richard's coffin (just who in their right mind complains about a CHILD?), complaints that "true" Ricardians weren't allowed to hold up the repose line at the Cathedral so they could pray (read: perform) by the coffin (the fact that they were in a Cathedral with chapels set aside for that purpose apparently eluded them), and of course, complaints that the Queen did not attend the reinterment because she "hates" Richard. Seriously. The cattiness & pettiness these "true" Ricardians have put out there in social media is as embarrassing as it is ignorant & uninformed.

According to information I learned from a friend & from the Yeoman Warders who attended the reinterment themselves, the Queen very much approved of the events in Leicester.  But why didn't she attend the reinterment herself?  For many reasons, apparently, & none of them have anything to do with "Tudor propaganda."

First of all, the Queen does not attend funeral services & as it turned out, she had a prior engagement to honor veterans of the Battle of Britain.  As the niece of uncles & aunts who served in WWII, I dare anyone to tell me this event was "minor" or "unimportant.".  Second, however, is the fact that the Duke of Gloucester has long been the patron of the Richard III Society & has been involved in the search & discovery of Richard III's remains for a very long time.  If the Queen had attended the service, she would have taken attention away from the Duke of Gloucester at his own event, something that Royal protocol does not permit.

In a further show of her approval, the Queen asked the Countess of Wessex to attend the reinterment ceremony as her personal representative.  The Queen also permitted two or three Heralds from her own Household to attend, including the Herald of the Garter.  To keep from upstaging the Duke of Gloucester, however, they were only permitted to wear their chains of office & not their regalia.

Also in attendance with the approval of the Queen, and with permission to wear regalia, was the Lord Constable of the Tower.  The Lord Constable always travels with two Yeoman Warders as his personal escorts and they were also in their blue undress uniforms with permission from the Queen. (See photo above.)  Had the Queen not given her consent, the Lord Constable and his escorts would have attended in civilian clothing.

As you can see, far from disapproving of the reinterment ceremonies, the Queen was actually quite engaged & approved of them.  Yes, I am disappointed that I did not get to see her, but I am glad to learn that she permitted so many to attend, some in their regalia, because it added to the pomp & ceremony of the occasion.

The above picture was taken on Thursday, after the ceremonies, at the Queen of Bradgate.  My friends & I went to get some lunch & while we were there, the Yeoman Warders showed up.  They were incredibly friendly & very informative, patiently putting up with our questions & requests for photographs.  It turns out that they are Ricardians themselves (!!!) & were planning to come up to Leicester anyway on their day off just to stand in the crowd, when their boss asked them to escort him to the ceremony. They were taking back a couple of souvenirs for another Yeoman Warder who couldn't attend, but is also a Ricardian.

And as if that particular day couldn't get any more amazing, my friend Kim & I ended up sharing a cab back to our hotel with two of the Somerset heirs. How awesome is that!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Richard" by Carol Ann Duffy

As illustrated by photographs I took last week in & around Leicester. The last photograph was taken at Fenn Lane Farms, the actual battle site.