Archive for February, 2013

Baring the Bones of History, Part V: A Nasty Blow to the Head

By: The Scribe on February, 2013

In Part I of this series, we mentioned how Richard III died in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth field. His army at this battle was about 8,000 to his opponent Henry Tudor’s 5,000, though some alliance-switching by the Stanley family caused Richard’s advantage to be significantly diminished and is thought to have greatly affected the battle’s outcome.

Richard’s close friend, John Howard, was also killed during the battle, which demoralized Richard and his men—and Richard decided to retaliate by leading an unexpected, fully impromptu cavalry charge deep into enemy ranks. He wanted to end the battle quickly, and take a personal blow at Henry Tudor.

It didn’t work.

Oh, the accounts read that Richard III fought bravely, that he was strong and able, and even managed to strike several significant blows: He unhorsed jousting champion Sir John Cheney, and then killed the standard bearer before coming only a sword’s length from Henry Tudor before…

Well, before he was surrounded by traitor Sir William Stanley’s men and struck by a death-blow to the head. One story is that it happened while Richard’s horse was stuck in marshy ground, and other reports say that the halberd blow he took to the head drove his helmet right into his skull!

A more romantic version of events, written by Henry Tudor’s official historian, says that “King Richard, alone, was killed fighting manfully in the thickest press of his enemies.”

And while there was apparently a burial for his body at the Greyfriars Church in Leicester, and a monument erected in his honor, more than 400 years of development in the area caused the exact location of Richard III’s body to be lost… until an archaeological investigation in 2012 finally ended Richard’s game of hide-and-seek.

To be continued…

(Stay tuned to read more about Richard III’s life and the discovery of Richard III’s bones in the continuation of this series, “Baring the Bones!”)

Baring the Bones of History, Part IV: Conspiracy and Coronation

By: The Scribe on February, 2013

In the previous instalment of this series, we left Richard with one brother on the throne and one brother executed.

We pick up his story after the death of King Edward V (which we mentioned in Part I). Now, Richard’s naming as Lord Protector was a bit of a strategic move, because it prevented the Queen’s family from trying to exercise power and take control of the throne. It was at this time that several conspirators were arrested, taken to Pontefract Castle, and executed without trial on charge of planning to assassinate the Lord Protector.

It was at this time that the young King Edward VI and his younger brother Richard (another Richard!) were taken to the Tower of London… and never seen again.

But, even though Richard III had taken the young boys to the Tower under advisement of Baron Hastings, Richard accused the Baron of conspiring against him—and he had the Baron immediately beheaded in the courtyard, and his suspected co-conspirators executed.

It was around this time that a clergyman apparently told Richard III that Edward IV’s marriage had been invalid due to a prior marriage, resulting in those boys in the Tower of London being declared illegitimate and no longer in line for the throne. The citizens of London, along with additional nobles and general folk, drew up a petition to ask Richard III to take the throne.

Well, they didn’t have to ask him twice. He accepted in June, was crowned in July, and confirmed by Parliament in January the following year. And the young, bastard princes? Never seen again.

One notable gesture that Richard made following his coronation was to endow King’s College and Queen’s College at Cambridge University. He also founded the College of Arms, planned to build an enormous chapel in York Minster, and made with significant grants to the church.

To be continued…


(Stay tuned to read more about Richard III’s life and the discovery of Richard III’s bones in the continuation of this series, “Baring the Bones!”)

Baring the Bones of History, Part III: Two Weddings and a Funeral

By: The Scribe on February, 2013

Previously in this series, we left 18-year-old Richard with a handful of titles, some battle honor, and hankering for the next step in life.

We re-join Richard III on July 12th, 1472. Although Anne Warwick—the daughter of Richard’s cousin whose castle he’d frequented—had been married before, her previous husband died, freeing her up for a remarriage to Richard III. Though they’d met twelve years before at Middleham Castle, this marriage brought Richard a bit of family trouble.

Richard’s brother Clarence wasn’t happy about the marriage. At all. And he didn’t bother to hide the fact, smile nicely, and send a card, either (we can read about his disillusionment with the pairing in a one of the Paston Letters ). You see, Anne shared an inheritance with her sister Isabel, who happened to be Clarence’s wife. This caused a significant kerfuffle over the earldom and who owned a rather massive pile of estates property. Clarence’s grudging acceptance of the marriage only came with these words: “[Richard] may well have my Lady his sister-in-law, but they shall part no livelihood.”

And it may have also helped that Richard agreed to a pre-nup under certain terms that may have, in fact, caused the marriage to technically be illegal.

But, life went on, and Richard brought his mother-in-law to live under his protection at Middleham Castle in 1473, a year which held more strife for Richard than what living under the same roof as a mother-in-law will do. Clarence had the misfortune of losing some of his royally granted property due to something called the “1473 Act of Resumption”. To say he was pissed off would be putting it lightly, but it seems this was done with a bit of deliberation on part of the King (who was, remember, their brother). A Paston Letter reads that the King planned to put both his younger brothers “in their place” through acting as “a stifler between them.”

And it wasn’t until 1474 that King Edward seemed to realize this wasn’t the best idea, because he tried to reconcile them through stating that both his brothers and their wives could enjoy the Warwick inheritance just as though the Countess of Warwick “was naturally dead.” It worked for a time, though Richard actually continued to inherit property through a series of events, and Clarence continued to lose favor with his brother due to circumstances of his own.

Things reached a bit of a breaking point in 1477, after the death of Clarence’s wife Isabel. He was given the option of marrying Mary of Burgundy (his sister’s step-daughter), but he turned it down. This appears to have been the wrong choice, because… it wasn’t long before Clarence was convicted and executed for treason charges.

Apparently, Richard had nothing to do with this—no evidence points to his involvement, but it wouldn’t be the first time people died without clear evidence of Richard’s hands in the pot…

To be continued…

(Stay tuned to read more about Richard III’s life and the discovery of Richard III’s bones in the continuation of this series, “Baring the Bones!”)

Baring the Bones of History, Part II: Getting Personal with Richard III’s Childhood

By: The Scribe on February, 2013

Richard III was the eighth child of his parents, Richard Plantagenet (3rd Duke of York, with a strong claim to King Henry IV’s throne) and Cecily Neville. Born at Fotheringhay Castle, the place must have been too drafty because he spent a number of years at Middleham Castle under the tutelage (a fancy word which here means “protection” or “guardianship” of his cousin—and to make things even more confusing, he was also named Richard.

While Richard III was spending time with his cousin, he became friends with a fellow named Francis Lovell (not Richard!), who he would later become connected to through marriage. They were fast friends and strong allies for the rest of Richard’s life. Richard also became acquainted with his cousin’s daughter, Anne Neville, who he later married.

After Richard’s older brother and his father died in 1460—sadly, in the Battle of Wakefield—eight-year-old Richard’s mother bundled him up and sent him off to the Low Countries with one of his older brothers. They returned in 1461 for the coronation of Richard’s now-eldest brother as King Edward IV.

Nine-year-old Richard had a bit of responsibility laid on him at this time, being formally named the Duke of Gloucester, a Knight of the Garter, and a Knight of the Bath (yes, the order’s rituals involved just what it says in the name… bathing). He took off for a third time—not necessarily by choice, as he was only nine years old—and spent more time at his cousin’s castle in Middleham to receive knightly training. It’s thought that during these years and his early adolescence, Richard III developed something called idiopathic scoliosis.

By the time Richard turned seventeen, he’d already been involved in the War of the Roses, appointed sole Commissioner of Array for the Western Counties, and forced to head back to the Low Countries to hide out for a second time.

Meanwhile? Edward IV found himself restored to the throne after several critical rebellions & restoration efforts… leaving Richard III, at eighteen years old, a trusted ally of his brother and ready for the next step in a young man’s life: Marriage.

To be continued…

(Stay tuned to read more about Richard III’s life and the discovery of Richard III’s bones in the continuation of this series, “Baring the Bones!”)

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