King Richard III - The King in the Car Park
King Richard III's Reinterment
I have written other articles about Richard's reinterment, which I had the good fortune to attend. Two years later I revisited the place and took this photo of the new tomb. It is a superb location, a fitting tribute to a great king.
Richard III's Tomb in Leicester Cathedral
Remains of a plantagenet king found in Leicester.
The story of King Richard III of England is the last chapter in the story of the 15th Century. Much of what happened following the death of Edward III in 1377, led directly to a splintering of the royal succession through five royal lines at a time when the rules of primogeniture were not strictly adhered to. A time when the rule of sword very often superseded the rule of right. Edward's five male lines led to conflicting loyalties, views and a plethora of descendants that led to the War of the Roses, Bosworth Field and the eventual demise of the Plantagenet line.
When Henry Tudor, who at best had a weak claim to the throne through the female line back to John of Gaunt, picked up Richard's crown and married Richard's niece Elizabeth, he brought 100 years of conflict to an end. Few can argue with the success of the Tudor regime. However it is what Henry did to this Plantagenet inheritance in support of his own need of legitimacy that comes down to us and is now unraveling so fast in the light of new events unfolding.
A skeleton was found in a car park in Leicester in September 2012. After much analysis including diet, carbon dating, battle scars and crucially DNA matching, the remains are of the king beyond all reasonable doubt. These are King Richard 3rd's remains. This is Richard's story.
All Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons or Peter Broster unless otherwise stated.
Latest News Section added below Please check back regularly for updates.
Richard III to be reburied in Leicester
Judicial review hands down decision
After over a year of nail biting the judicial review has ruled in favour of Richard being re-interred at Leicester Cathedral. While it was never a foregone conclusion I think there was a big collective sigh of relief from all the players involved in finding the skeleton. Possession is not nine tenths of the law in this case and the ruling could easily have gone the other way. In the end the judges ruled that there was no precedent that the university should have given wider consultation on the choice of burial sites and so the judges had therefore no cause to become involved. I am sure this came as a blow to the 'plantagenet alliance' who had sought to have him interred at York and the merits of the case, in particular Richard's perceived last wishes, did require some review. But really Leicester held most of the cards, they researched the location, they made the application, they did all the work and it seems patience paid off. The judges declared there was 'no duty to consult'. My hope now is that finally we can get a ceremony where all of us who have followed the story closely will have a chance to see the king ride to his final resting place at the heart of Leicester Cathedral.
The Plantagenet Heritage
The route to Bosworth Field
The seeds of the Wars of the Roses was sewn with Edward III having five healthy sons who survived into adulthood and had children themselves.
The first son, Edward the Black Prince, had one son who inherited the crown on Edward III's death to rule 22 years. Poor rule and perceived favoritism led to Richard being deposed by Henry IV, the son of Edward III's third son John of Gaunt. This established the Lancaster Line. Meanwhile Lionel the second son had children that led to Ann who married a Richard who was descended from Edmund the fourth son. Thus the children of this union had a claim through the fourth son and second son. It was under this 'double' claim that the Yorkists made their run for the throne 'usurped' by the Lancasters. The fifth son, Thomas never came close to the throne but the descendants were forever involved in the intrigues and many paid with their lives.
All would have been well if Henry VI had been a strong king. He unfortunately had moments, sometimes years of insanity and through years of mismanagement Henry VI was deposed by Edward VI, a son of the Yorkist line and thus the throne swapped sides. All would have been well if Edward IV had lived long enough for his son Edward V to reach adulthood. But Edward IV succombed in his forties with his sons still children. Here, in the summer of 1483, is where Richard III, the Richard of infamy, the Richard maligned by Shakespeare and the Tudors, stepped on to the stage.
Henry's March Through Mid Wales - The Dyfi Valley
Henry landed in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire and moved up the coast to the old Welsh Capital of Machynlleth where he purportedly drank from the Town Well. He then moved inland up the Dyfi Valley and on to Newtown crossing into England near Shrewsbury.
The final conflict of the Wars of the Roses.
By 1485 there weren't a lot of contenders for the throne left. Rulers had either died or been deposed. Pretenders had been either executed or banished. Richard held the throne by dubious means and the disappearance of Edward IV's boys hung heavily in the air. By all accounts Richard III had been a good faithful supporter of his brother Edward and was a good ruler in his 26 months of office. But one pretender remained and was living in France. Exiled Henry Tudor, First Earl of Richmond.
Henry's claim to the throne came through John of Gaunt's second wife Katherine Swynford. Her children were mostly born out of wedlock but were all legitimized on the marriage of John and Katherine. Oddly enough on the condition that the heirs could not claim the throne! One of the granddaughters Margaret, married an Owen Tudor and through this tenuous line Henry made his claim. Landing in Pembroke Henry gathered his forces through Wales yet by the time of meeting Richard near Leicester Richard could still count on an army twice the size.
The story that followed is well known. Headstrong Richard saw Henry's standard and charged, killing Henry's standard bearer and almost reaching Henry's person before being swept into a marsh and cut down and butchered on the spot. Richard's naked body was paraded on the back of a horse into Leicester. Exhibited for all to see that he was dead, buried in Greyfriars church. And then the Tudor stories were woven into the fabric of our history and while Richard was not forgotten, he was demonised and left as the 'Worst King of England' reviled by all.
King Richard III in 2012
The skeleton in the Leicester Carpark
Documents exist that state Richard was buried in Greyfriars church, behind an altar, in Leicester but no one knew exactly where. The rumour mill also suggested that the naked body was thrown into the River Soar. But in recent months an effort was made to match the maps of Greyfriars church with the streets of modern Leicester. A match was found that placed the church in a council car park and digging was financed and approved in September 2012. News came rapidly as a skeleton was discovered very soon into the dig and was matched to being by the Altar of the now destroyed church. The bones were carefully disinterred and taken to the University of Leicester for four months of analysis.
The feet were missing but the rest of the skeleton was intact. The body showed a substantial curvature to the spine and was concluded as caused by scoliosis. The skull showed cuts to the face and a piece of lower skull cleaved from the skull itself. There was also a mark to the pelvic area indicative of a knife wound to the buttock. There was however no indication of Shakespeare's attributed withered arm.
Originally a radio carbon date of 1560 was obtained. But evidence of diet indicated that the individual ate well and this included a lot of fish. Fish take their carbon from the ocean which contains carbon from ancient rocks substantially depleted in carbon 14. An adjustment for this was made and a date of 1480 to 1540 was obtained.
Michael Ibsen is a most unassuming man who has been thrust into the spotlight as a result of his very good genes. Tracing down through the female line from Ann, Richard's sister, the bloodline was traced to Joy Ibsen who lived in London Ontario. On Joy's death recently the link to Richard rested with her son and swabs were taken from Michael who has been happy to be involved with this investigation.
All this led to the conclusion that King Richard III bones had finally been found.
Photo Elaine Fisher
King Richard III in 2013
King Richard III's Bones
This the exciting part because it is still in the process of happening. At some point this lens will be distant past but not now! The announcement that the bones were of the long dead king has caused a media frenzy. All this section's unanswered questions will be expanded upon as they are verified or updated.
The palace has been kept abreast of all the discoveries and it has been agreed that Richard must have a proper burial. It is most likely that he had a funeral at the time so the new service will more than likely be a celebration of his life. But will it be a full state funeral as befits a king or a more watered down affair?
There is also news that a tomb is being crafted and well underway. I hope it bears a link with the past but also maybe has 21st century features to connect us with his time. What form will the tomb take?
Richard died a catholic since all England was catholic prior to the reformation under Henry VIII. So there is some question as to what form the service will take. Will he be given full catholic rites, an Anglican service or some mixture of the two?
Photo Elaine Fisher
Leicester or York
King Richard III's final resting place.
As anticipated there is a discussion brewing over where Richard will finally be laid to rest. The date is said to be early 2014 and, again, this space will be updated. Suffice to say the the excavation rights were given to Leicester University and the conditions were that the body be placed in Leicester Cathedral. Done and dusted you think. York Council has written to the Queen asking for the body to be laid to rest in York Minster. There is a petition online that already has over 10000 signatures, if it reaches 100,000 then the question can be raised in parliament. The arguments are as followed:
1 For Leicester. Leicester university did the research and excavation and examination. Richard died at Bosworth Field. Richard was buried in Leicester and has been there for over 500 years.
2 For York. He was granted the Dukedom of Gloucester but he was a member of the House of York. He owned lands and had deep connections with York. There is evidence that he had requested to be buried at York.
The question is being hotly debated on both sides. There is a good argument that wherever he goes Richard will generate much needed tourists dollars for the local communities. It could be further argued that Leicester needs this far more than York. Also York Minster itself has come out in support of Leicester. York Minster has stated that Richard should stay in Leicester Cathedral. However the various Yorkshire council members make a good case for the deep connection between York and Richard. He owned lands there and spent much of his time in and around York. I will be providing updates as this story unfolds. As a writer I am staying neutral on this petition and I will be going to whichever town eventually wins.
Photo Elaine Fisher
Richard III's Resting Place for 500 years - The Carpark in Leicester
I FINALLY VISITED THE SITE !! Finally I managed to get to Leicester and see the carpark that is currently being excavated in preparation for creating a permanent exhibition to the king. I also visited the temporary exhibition, walked around Leicester Cathedral to see the proposed location for the tomb and I visited the site of the Blue Boar where Richard slept for some of his last days. This latter is now a casino which is sad and there is no feeling for what stood there until 1830. I walked around Leicester and while of course everything has changed in the intervening years, you do still get a feel for a very ancient town with narrow streets and no motor cars, the modern pedestrian precinct has done a lot to make the city more walkable. I also I found a lovely pub called the Globe where I had a pint or 2 of the local brew. Leicester is well worth a visit.
Latest News On King Richard III - All the news I can find as it happens. This is an evolving story do check back.
- February 27th 2013 University of Leicester has purchased a painting of Richard outside the Blue Boar Tavern just before heading to Bosworth. The painting by Victorian artist John Fulleylove is especially pertinent given that he is a local artist and the painting became available at such an important time.
- July 19th 2013 Leicester Cathedral today announced they were launching a fundraiser campaign to pay for an above ground three dimensional gothic tomb for Richard III's bones as is befitting the last plantagenet king. The cathedral had originally decided on a floor stone because of the lack of space in this erstwhile parish church. The Richard III Society wanted a proper tomb and their proposal, with modifications has been accepted.
- November 26th 2013 At time of writing the judicial review has been adjourned pending discussions between Leicester Council and the society of friends of Richard III. So there is still no news of where he will be buried but there is possibly signs it will be resolved without the War of the Roses part 2..
- May 25th 2014. The judicial review has finally issued its verdict. There are no grounds in common law that required the university to consult the judiciary or open the decision of where to bury Richard to a public consultation. The university applied for permission to exhume the body and rebury in Leicester. The Ministry of Justice gave that permission and no further permission was required. Whether you agree or not I hope this is the end and Richard can finally be left in peace next year.
Where do you think Richard should be buried?
Given the arguments above do you think Richard would more appropriately be buried at York Minster or Leicester Cathedral?
The Attributes of King Richard III
Much of the information we have about Richard has been a result of Tudor propaganda. History is written by the victorious and certainly Henry VII was able to manipulate the media of the time. However, Richard was not the legitimate heir to the throne and the dark deeds of what happened in the tower to the two sons of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville hang heavily on his reign. So any decision has to weighed on balance of all the information. We will never know the full story but recent events do allow for a more critical review of the man and his reign.
Do you think that, based on factual evidence, Richard was a good or bad king?
© 2013 Christine and Peter Broster