Dr. Ashdown-Hill Frightens the Horses…er, Denialists

prudishOne of the strangest phenomena to come out of the events of almost three weeks ago has been the continual bashing of Dr. John Ashdown-Hill by the usual group of denialists who populate the underworld of Ricardian history and rehabilitation.  As we all know, Ashdown-Hill (along with other members of the Finding Richard project and Leicester University) found the remains of the last English king to die in battle and traced his DNA to 17th generation nephew Michael Ibsen.

But all that pales in the avalanche of social media that expressed shock and dismay that he attended the reinterment in what appeared to be either a well-tailored tan or light grey suit rather than clothes of a “somber hue.”  Oh, the cries of outrage that ensued!  It was if he had shown up at the event dressed in a Zoot Suit or the ghost of Nancy Mitford had arrived with her list of Non-U items of dishabille.  Of course, it took traditional Ricardians to dig out the notes of reinterment provided by the Cathedral in which it is clearly stated that “although entirely optional, we would encourage hats for ladies and gentlemen…This is a service of reinterment.  It is not a funeral.  So whilst we would not wish to advise the congregation to wear black, you may wish to observe a dress code that reflects a reserved colour palette.”  No mention of “somber hues.”

Even today, as late as April 12th, denialists are still carrying on about his facial expressions caught on camera during the ceremony.  One would think the act of rolling one’s eyes was akin to real estate mogul Robert Durst’s embarrassing gaffe of admitting mass murder on the final episode of “The Jinx.”  In fact, we really don’t know the reason for his expression although it may have been due to mistakes made in the program.

All this is pretty funny but the outrage does get a little darker when Dr. Ashdown-Hill’s private life becomes a source of merriment – as if any of us know him personally and have any right to comment about such a subject.  The internet is a haven for the Mrs. Grundys of the world and is often in an argy-bargy over everything from the color of gold/black dresses to whether a cat is walking upstairs or downstairs but this does seem to be a bridge too far…

40 comments

  1. And another thing. It’s my understanding that only qualified historians are members of the Royal Historical Society, and membership is by invitation only. John Ashdown-Hill is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

    What, I wonder, are the credentials of those attacking this man?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Super blue, I’m forgetting the cartoon. There has been so much harassment of this poor man, I have a hard time keeping up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I cannot understand how anyone who truly considers themselves to be a Ricardian would have anything but admiration for Dr. John Ashdown-Hill.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. If I remember correctly, he rolled his eyes during the service as the speaker had got some fundamental facts wrong, one of which being his birthday I think. It was briefly discussed with him after the service.
    I have to say, I was very irritated by the way he was referred to and shown on camera frequently but, wasn’t interviewed properly. I would haved loved to listen to a proper interview with him and Philipa Langley instead of being subjected to the snarky remarks of the popinjay David Starky. Apologies for any spelling mistakes, my brain isn’t functioning to well at the moment

    Liked by 4 people

    1. John Ashdown Hill was interviewed several times during the Channel 4 television coverage. David Starkie appeared only once. When Starkie made his unflattering remarks (transmitted from York) they were directed at the two Philippas, Gregory and Langley, who were in the C4 studio with Helen Castor and Jon Snow.

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      1. Having recently reviewed the Channel Four coverage, Starkey (who has never done a day’s original research into Richard’s life and times) was present throughout the Saturday documentary with brief contributions from JA-H et al. On the three hour procession highlights show on the Sunday, he was present for about an hour whilst JA-H was interviewed for five minutes.

        Liked by 4 people

  5. An update: now the denialists are freaking out because Dr. Ashdown-Hill has decided to publish a book about the mythology of Richard the Third. WTH?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Whatever the reason, it is unfortunate that JAH allowed himself to be filmed rolling his eyes and raising his eyebrows. There was a camera permanently trained on the representatives of the LFR project, so he must have known that it would be recorded and, of course, used by the media. PL maintained a dignified expression throughout.

    The whole thing was not helped by his reaction outside the Cathedral when he was asked about it and which ended up with a plug for his book.

    Before the brickbats from his supporters come raining down, let me say I have all his books and enjoy his fresh approach to history, especially his research into Eleanor Talbot. Ricardians owe a lot to John’s research and the publicity he has garnered. However, as I said at the beginning, this whole episode is unfortunate because it does give those who wish to rubbish his research a whole new set of baseball bats to hit him with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do not know why he would have chosen to wear that particular colour as he had worn dark suits earlier in the week. The rest of the congregation wore dark colours, including the royal ladies, and Philippa and Annette. John was the only person present I believe wearing a light coloured suit. Has he said why he chose that colour?

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    1. Well then, leave aside the fact that it was JAH who wore a suit which stood out from all the rest of the congregation and was shown on public TV (and subsequently on Youtube, and other social media) rolling his eyes at something someone was saying during the euology, how would you feel if it were another important member of the congretation?

      Would you discuss it, or not mention it?

      It was not an appropriate time nor place for it and if PL could keep control over her facial expressions during the service of reburial, then John should have been able to as well.

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  7. This is entirely the point of my blog: people who do not like JAH have decided to focus on two small points which they have blown out of all proportion. It is almost a month since the reinterment and critics are still going on about this nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to disagree with you – it is not nonsense. You did not answer my point – if it had been anyone other than JAH, would you have not mentioned it? If, for example, it had been one of the Leicester Uni people, or the Mayor, pulling faces at something someone said during the eulogy or some other part of the service, would that not have been all over the social media, with people jumping up and down about it? I suspect it would have created just as much ‘interest’ and I can imagine what the Anti-Leicester brigade would have said about it.

      For Ricardians, JAH is an important figure – a historian with a fresh approach to some of the issues of the period. However, this incident had been a gift to those who wish to pour scorn on his ideas. It has given them a great opportunity to paint him as someone with a big ego who flounces when he feels he does not get the attention he thinks he deserves. It is quite damaging.

      The whole thing was compounded by what he said when leaving the Cathedral, and what he has posted since. The fact that the whole thing is on the Internet, and it is perfectly clear that he was reacting to the words being spoken and not, as he tried to imply later, to the errors in the Order of Service (for which the originator has sincerely apologised) has simply given further ammunition to those who wish to discredit his work.

      I have to say also, that his eye rolling was not a small discrete gesture to PL sitting next to him, but a complete 360 degree roll bound to capture the viewers’ attention – it could not be overlooked.

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  8. Everything I think about this I wrote in my blog. If you want to carry on about this, go right ahead. We like the clicks.

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    1. No answer then for the question I have asked you twice.

      What is the point (apart from the clicks) in writing a blog which invites comments, and then fail to address questions in the comments.

      Or do you only want comments from people who agree with you?

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  9. The answers to your questions are within the blog. I’m not going to engage in some long discussion on Mr. Ashdown-Hill’s clothes or any other person’s choice of haberdashery. Maybe someone else will take up that discussion with you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wonder if you willfully have misunderstand my posts and the questions contained within them or whether I am writing in a foreign language. You raised the question of his suit with me – and I answered your question. I did not bring up the subject of his clothes in my original post – you introduced it into the discussion and I made one post referring to it.

      However, JASH’s clothes have nothing to do with the question I asked you twice, but which you have not addressed.

      I must assume therefore that you do not have an answer or if you do, it would weaken your argument about how the whole world is bashing JAH because they are from a particular FB group who are anti-his writings.

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  10. My blog – which you responded to – had all to do with his clothes and his facial expressions. I do not think the “whole world” is bashing JAH. Let’s not exaggerate. I think anti-Ricardians and that strange breed of anti-Ricardians pretending to be Ricardians are bashing him on social media. That is what my blog was about. No doubt, JAH remains a well-respected historian except by some people who continue to want to believe Richard the Third was a villain as black as pitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. OK, with trepidation I am going to venture an opinion! I don’t care what colour clothes he wore – apparently they were told they needn’t wear black as it wasn’t a funeral as such. The eye rolling, I’m sure, was not meant to be seen by all – I doubt anyone remembers there are cameras on them all the time – I was recently on a game show and completely forgot the cameras, which were integral to the show! I think John is a rather flamboyant character who can’t help showing what he feels and that is why he rolled his eyes – if what he says in his blogs and books is true, he had good reason to – he was definitely excluded from many events (e.g. the coffining of Richard’s bones, for which he was a major, if not THE major campaigner. I would have felt a bit of pique in his situation. His research has been taken over by others when he was willing to share it freely – he only wanted a mention; what’s wrong with that? He deserves it. I agree, though, Jasmine, that it was a pity he did roll his eyes because his fantastic research might be avoided by readers because of it. Otherwise, I think it is time to move on.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m so sorry, Katherine. At this point, we are unsure of what happened to your post. It is being investigated. I know you said that when you stood outside the Cathedral, people burst into applause when they saw the so-called eye-rolling incident. You also said that he was an eminent historian and that there was jealousy being expressed towards him. Also, you asked “Jasmine” to move on from this mishagosh. (My word, not yours!) If I got it wrong, please correct me.

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  13. Thank you, Maire.

    It absolutely beggars belief that people appear to have stooped to hacking in an attempt to censor and hide some unpalatable home truths.
    I would hope that the somewhat unhinged perpetrator is identified and ‘named and shamed’.

    As I am not paranoid (unlike some), I did not take a copy of my post dated 19 April but will comment again, along the same lines, below.

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  14. I simply cannot believe that certain people are getting so wound up over Dr Ashdown-Hill’s choice of attire or his ‘eye roll’.
    As someone who stood outside Leicester cathedral, in the rain, watching the reinterment on a huge screen, I can tell you that the crowds broke into spontaneous applause when DR Ashdown-Hill was shown at the moment of the ‘infamous’ eye roll.

    I have personally witnessed homophobic abuse aimed at Dr Ashdown-Hill on social media over the last few years, so this appears to be a systematic and premeditated campaign on behalf of small-minded, egotistical, vindictive, jealous and bitter people.

    Dr Ashdown-Hill is pivotal to the narrative of King Richard III being finally laid to rest and it would appear that he has been snubbed by the ‘powers that be’.
    Frankly, I think any of us, in that situation, would be entitled to feel the way he did and the man is, after all, only human.

    Now, while the homophobes, bigots and downright nasty, may attempt to undermine him by conducting a ridiculous smear campaign (and attempting to silence those of better character), I will say only that I doubt that Dr Ashdown-Hill,
    Fellow of The Society of Antiquaries, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a member of the Society of Genealogists, the Richard III Society, and the Centre Europeen d’Etudes Bourguignonnes, is very unlikely to be losing sleep over a bunch of juvenile, envious, armchair, amateurs.

    When any of them have achieved anywhere near his historical credentials, they will still be unfit to lace his boots. He is a scholar and a gentleman and they are well, let’s not go there, but bitter and twisted should suffice.

    *Go on hacker – remove this one*

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I hold to my earlier point. That if someone else (from the University, the Cathedral, the City authorities, or another high profile guest) had made the eye-rolling incident, it would have caused endless comment among the Ricardian community.

    I have seen posts on various sites over the past few days from ‘defenders’ of JAH’s actions which almost seem to suggest the man is a saint and therefore above comment or criticism.

    John is a human being like anyone else and prone to errors and misjudgments like anyone else. Suggesting that he was unwise to make such a gesture does not detract from his ability as a historian, nor is ‘character-assignation’. The frantic efforts by all and sundry to whitewash this incident is self-defeating and gives ammunition to others who wish to denigrate the work of Ricardian historians.

    It seems that JAH has continued to snipe at the Leicester authorities in his latest book- which has given comfort to groups like the Cabal lot, who now have as their cover picture the famous eye-roll.

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    1. Perhaps because I think it important to be fair and that sometimes means admitting that a misjudgement has been made. After all no one is perfect……..

      Like

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