Richard III lyth buryed at Leicester

King's 395 ff.32v-33 Genealogy of the kings of England - Richard IIIRichard ye was sonne to Richard Duwke of yorke & brother un to kyng Edward ye iiijth Was kyng after hys brother & raynyd ij yeres & lyth buryed at leator [Leicester]

So the council car park in Leicester has yielded up its secret.  The body discovered by archaeologists in September 2012 is that of King Richard III.  The analysis by today’s live conference at the University of Leicester was remarkable – there can be absolutely no doubt that they have got their man.  Science, genealogy and history all brought together with DNA analysis, wound analysis, genealogical and historical analysis to prove this.

The discovery is one of the most exciting historical events to happen in living memory.  Not because the discovery adds more to our historical understanding of Richard III: it doesn’t.  Or because it informs us of something that we didn’t already know: it doesn’t.  The discovery of his body merely confirms what we already knew: that Richard died a brutal death on the battlefield of Bosworth, and in death was not treated with dignity.

But more staggeringly, his re-interment in Leicester Cathedral will be a never to be repeated link from our modern-day present to our past: the burial of a king of England.  King Richard III – the last of the Plantagenets, the last truly medieval king, the last king of England to die in battle.  Or the child-murderer hunchbacked bogeyman of Shakespeare and English history?

With all that will be written and said about Richard III in the coming days and weeks, let us return to contemporary documents written during Richard’s life – along with snippets written afterwards by his nemeses, the Tudors.

Royal 20 C VII f.134 Siege of MeauxSignature of Richard, Duke of Gloucester – future King Richard III

King Richard III

Royal 18 A XII f.1 Royal arms of England Richard IIIRoyal arms of England supported by boars and surmounted by a crown from De re militari (the Book of Vegecye of Dedes of Knyghthode), (London, England, c1483-c1485), shelfmark Royal 18 A XII f.1

Royal 18 A XII f.49 Arms of Anne Neville (wife of Richard III)Royal arms Anne Neville (wife of Richard III) from De re militari (the Book of Vegecye of Dedes of Knyghthode), (London, England, c1483-c1485), shelfmark Royal 18 A XII f.49

The Genealogy of Richard III
The image at the start of this post is a small portion of The Biblical and genealogical chronicle from Adam and Eve to Edward VI, a remarkable document now in the care of the British Library. The chronicle is thought to have been written and illustrated circa 1511  (i.e. shortly after Henry VIII succeeded his father to the throne of England) with additions added by another hand after Edward VI’s death in 1553.  The book stayed in the possession of the kings and queens of England until it was given to the British Museum by King George IV in 1823. Below is the full image of the kings – a stupendous display of Tudor propaganda proving that they were the rightful monarchs of England.
King's 395 ff.32v-33 Genealogy of the kings of EnglandThe genealogy of the kings of England, including Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VII from Biblical and genealogical chronicle from Adam and Eve to Edward VI (England, S. E. (London or Westminster), c. 1511 with additions before 1553) shelfmark King’s 395 ff.32v-33

Lady Margaret Beaufort’s Book of Hours
Margaret Beaufort (born 1443, died 1509) was the mother of Henry VII.  Below is an image of the entry for August from her Book of Hours.  This Book was made between 1430 and 1443 and owned firstly by Margaret’s mother, Margaret Beauchamp (born 1405/6, died 1482), and then by Margaret.  Margaret appeared to use her Book of Hours as a calendar to record significant events in the lives of her son and grandchildren.  Thus, she used August to record her son’s landing at Milford Haven and the death of Richard III (we do not know if this is her hand or if a scribe wrote the entries for her).

Royal 2 A XVIII f. 31v Death of Richard III‘August’ from The Beaufort/Beauchamp Hours (England, S. E. (London), c. 1430, before 1443) shelfmark Royal 2 A XVIII f. 31v.

The first left margin note in black reads

The day landed king harry the vijth at milford have[n] the yere of o[u]r lord vijth cccc lxxxv [1485]

The second left margin note reads

The day king harri the vijth won[n] the feeld [field] wher was slayn ki[n]g Richard the third Ao Do[m] 1485

Postscript
Has the revival of interest in Richard III already started?  At a Christie’s auction of Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts held on 13 June 2012, a rare manuscript with Richard’s signature fetched £109,250 against an estimate of £10,000 to £15,000.  Two manuscripts signed by his usurper  Henry VII, fetched £7,500 and £8,750; whilst one signed by Henry VIII only managed £20,000.

Henry VII may have won the battle and the crown but Richard III will be the king that will experience a renaissance with the next generation of modern-day historians.

Tuck's Kings and Queen of England - Richard IIITuck’s postcard Richard III from Kings and Queens circa 1902

Richard Plantagenet – Duke of Gloucester, Knight of the Garter, Lord High Constable of England, Lord High Admiral, Governor of the North of England, Chief Justice of North Wales, Chief Steward and Chamberlain of Wales, Commander in Chief, Lord Warden of the West Marches, Lord Protector of England,. King of England, France and Lord of Ireland

What do you think about the search and discovery of Richard III? Please do leave your thoughts in the Comments box below.

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Notes
Images from the British Library’s collection of Medieval Manuscripts are marked as being Public Domain Images and therefore free of all copyright restrictions in accordance with the British Library’s Reuse Guidance Notes for the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.

You may also be interested in the following posts
– Richard III – ‘I am a villain: yet I lie. I am not’
– School Trip Friday – Of cabbages and kings
– Shakespeare’s version of King Richard III

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13 Responses to Richard III lyth buryed at Leicester

  1. RedCarmen says:

    A truly historic day! I was so excited listening to the press conference today. I knew it would be the York King but how an earth did the panel keep their emotions in check until the end?!!

  2. The Narrator says:

    The DNA scientist at the end looked to be fighting her emotions – don’t blame her. Absolutely remarkable and totally beyond all reasonable doubt. The detractors were saying yesterday that there won’t be enough DNA evidence, but the DNA totally nailed it.

  3. Wow. Amazing what brings tears to one’s eyes.

  4. Hmm. It occurred to me after I made my comment that it might be misunderstood, particularly as I hadn’t read the other comments. The news (which I first read here) truly did bring tears to my eyes. It’s fascinating that the confirmation that the remains were Richard’s, and that he will get a proper burial at last, should have such an emotional effect hundreds of years after his death –but it surely does.

  5. The Narrator says:

    Barbara, I understood totally what you meant – it certainly brought tears to my eyes! I was watching the live conference at home with my 9 year old home educated son – he couldn’t understand why all of a sudden I ‘had something in my eye’. It is very emotional on so many levels.

  6. Wonderful that he has been found and will be properly re-interred… and may the truth finally be uncovered. Thankyou.

  7. Valerie says:

    Thanks for your interesting account. I find your blog full of good and fascinating things. And belatedly thanks for the information about keeping one’s blog safe.

  8. Thanks for a fascinating post. I am very happy to have found your site. It’s an interesting point that this discovery doesn’t actually tell us anything that we don’t already know about Richard or his death (and certainly doesn’t shed any light on the mystery of the murder of the Princes in the Tower.) Some commentators seem to think that it presages a change in Richard’s reputation. Certainly I think it might give more people a more balanced view of his reign but it doesn’t materially alter anything.

    And yet it has been an emotional experience for many people and something astonishing to witness. I particularly like your observation on the uniqueness of the burial of a medieval king in the current day. That’s an extraordinary and wonderful link with the past.

    • The Narrator says:

      Thank you for your comment Nicola. Yes, it doesn’t change anything. Although it does confirm that Shakespeare and Thomas More were correct – Richard did have a severe back condition (although he was not a hunch-back). The Tudor propaganda wasn’t quite so much the propaganda we all thought! However, in this enlightened age, the news as to the extent of his disability is once-again in Richard’s favour as it shows that he was still a brave warrior king, despite his back.

  9. moira randall says:

    I think that the discovery of King Richard is just amazing and certainly the best thing to happen. To think that we thought we had lost him forever and now to have found him is wonderful. I feel that the intervening 500 years have just evaporated and we are in the same time. We have the loyal perseverance and fortitude of Phillipa Langley to thank for this. Three cheers!!! Phillipa. God Bless You and thank you. In addition I have only just discovered this website. It’s just great for the sources. Thank you

    • The Narrator says:

      Thank you for your kind comments about my blog.

      Richard’s discovery has certainly opened up a huge amount of debate and even more controversy. I personally will be following all the debates with great interest!

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