Review of The Mythology of Richard III by John Ashdown-Hill
I have read several of JAH’s books and always find them thoroughly researched and informative. That’s not to say that I always agree with his conclusions, but mostly I do.
His latest book concerns both the ancient myths surrounding his life, death and burial and more modern, newer myths which have begun since his remains were discovered.
He is systematic and clear in his explanations and his arguments are always logical. He also includes many photos and illustrations to clarify his points.
I am an avid reader of anything Ricardian and I thought I knew most of the mythology surrounding Richard, but there are in depth analyses of myths in this book which I had not been aware of or which give more detail with well-documented evidence.
One is the claim that Richard was not legally married to Anne Neville because of the lack of a suitable dispensation. I remember reading earlier this year, in the BBC History Magazine’s Richard III special edition, that Richard’s marriage to Anne was incestuous, by reason of his failure to obtain a dispensation to cover his 1st degree affinity to Anne (because his brother had married her sister, which made her technically, his sister too!). John Ashdown-Hill effectively disputes this and shows that the author (Hicks) was mistaken about the 1st degree affinity and that a dispensation had been received for the less serious degrees of affinity (by reason of Anne’s first marriage to Edward of Lancaster, who was distantly related to Richard). It is clearly illustrated with pedigree charts.
A second section I didn’t know about was JAH’s meticulous research into the male bearers of the same mitochondrial DNA as Richard. This is to refute claims that the remains found were not actually Richard’s. He researches which of them could have possibly been buried in the Greyfriars, at the same period in history, dying in battle in the same way and being of the same age at death as Richard. It must have taken an age to research all the different family lines and find out about their deaths! He sets all the information out very clearly and convincingly.
This book is a godsend for Ricardians who want evidence to refute the perpetuation of myths about Richard and I heartily recommend it.