One of the new myths to pop up since the discovery of the remains of Richard the Third (particularly by the denialists) is that The King had very little genuine connection to the county of Yorkshire, much less strong affection for it. And yet, in this recent article posted in Culture 24, a rare vellum document written by the King that will go on display in the Scarborough Art Gallery at the end of the month, paints an opposite picture of his feelings. Written in the spring of 1485, several months before his untimely death, he granted a charter to the city of Scarborough to let it become an independent county. He expressed his esteem in the following way:
“The special Affection which we have and bear towards the Town of Scardeburgh in the County of York and The Burgesses of the same and in consideration of their good and faithful Behavior and for their more secure Immunity and quiet and also for other Causes…”
Not the words of a man who was indifferent to the hopes and dreams of the citizens of Scarborough.
Recently, on Social Media, it has been pointed out again and again that Richard the Third was born in Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire and only spent about three years in knightly training in Wensleydale. This seems to be a major disqualifier for either suggesting that Richard was a Yorkshireman or that he thought of himself as a Yorkshireman. For me, this is like saying that the late great Mayor Ed Koch was not a New Yorker because he was originally from New Jersey!
Of course, we know that as Duke of Gloucester (the dukedom being another denialist disqualifier) he returned to Middleham where he ruled the north of England from 1472-1483, winning the allegiance and support of the people of that region. Is it no wonder that given this astonishing achievement, matched by his still impressionable youth and the birth of his son at Middleham, he began to develop a strong bond and identification with his adopted county?
Roots go down very quickly for human beings; before we are unpacked and while our belongings are still in crates, small, tender roots are going down into the soil binding us to our new home. Why should it be different for a King of England?