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Does Richard III skeleton discovery have relevance in the 21st Century
King Richard III
A skeleton discovered under a Leicestershire car-park in September 2012 caused excitement. It was not from a recent death but is was an exciting find for archaeologists working at the site. Early indications were that it was the skeleton of King Richard III, who had died more than 500 years ago. Richard was killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field and his demise led to a change of direction for the British monarchy. Out went the Plantagenets and in came the Tudors.
King Richard has been derided by history. He is known to most people for his alleged cruelty to two young Princes and as a Shakespeare character. Reportedly his demise at the Battle of Bosworth Field barely raised a tear. He allegedly cried out 'a horse, a horse, a kingdom for a horse' before he was summarily executed.
History may have been unnecessarily cruel to Richard though.
When Henry VII succeeded to the throne of England one priority was to demonize the previous King. Deposed, popular leaders often lead to insurrection. Even if said leader is dead there could be people willing to fight in that person's name.
So was all of the 'bad press' surrounding Richard anything more than bad publicity or propaganda? The answer appears to be no. The Tudors wanted to ensure longevity on the throne of England and used what means were available to them to remain in charge.
What if anything though can we, in the 21st Century, learn from Richard's skeleton?
King Richard III
- How the mighty fall. The death and location of his resting place show that money and power do not matter, in the great scheme of things. His 'grave' may not have started out as a car-park but there was no elaborate headstone, pomp nor ceremony for this King.
- Long before the Internet, and rolling 24/7 news, propaganda was manipulating our view of the world. In fact long before news reporting, full-stop.
- We should never read one report and take for granted that is impartial and unbiased. Nine times out of ten the author has a hidden agenda.
- In the great scheme of things wealth and power do not matter. They may offer you comfort in life but they are transient.
- The discovery, identification and subsequent facial reconstruction of Richard III has answered a number of questions. History needs facts.
- The use of DNA to identify a person dead for more than 500 years is, as we say nowadays awesome.
- No matter how long it has taken it is just and right that the record is out straight, as far as Richard the man goes.
- Once again it reinforces the view that war is sometimes pointless and always costly.
- It shows life is fleeting but our legacy is not.
- It shows you cannot trust your so called allies.
- It shows that mankind is unable to live in peace.
In the past wars were fought over tin-pot heroes such as Princes and Kings. These days has much changed? Yes, we fight with more sophisticated weapons and cause more widespread destruction but all too often we become embroiled in propaganda led wars.
Richard III will be laid to rest at a future date. He will be afforded the necessary pomp and ceremony he was denied in the past. No doubt there will be unnecessary expense.
History, however, is an important part of all our lives. It is our foundation. Tying up loose ends in this case will not have real and positive effects on our lives. It is however the 'right thing' to do.
Richard died August 22, 1485, aged 32.