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Part 2 of a review of Terry Breverton’s RICHARD III: THE KING IN THE CAR PARK….

Breverton - RIII Car Park

Part 2 of a review by Myrna Smith, Ricardian Reading Editor, of Richard III: The King in the Car Park.

EVISCERATING TERRY BREVERTON

Being an elaboration, with examples, of some of the points made in Part I. Let’s get the more trivial criticisms out of the way first.

Grammar: Pg. 82 –“Her son was only 14 years younger than her.” It should be “than she (was).” I can’t help it. I paid attention in English Composition.

Here’s one of my favorite gripes: “Devout believers in the Roman Church could literally get away with anything and still go to heaven if they confessed and paid enough to the Church. In Richard’s case his gifts to the Church, in exchange for forgiveness for his sins, came from illegal confiscations of properties and fees.” Literally? Literally?? You mean Richard is actually, literally, in Heaven right now, at the right hand of God? And more particularly, right next to Henry Tudor, who certainly made lavish gifts to the Church – which were a waste of good money, according to Mr. Breverton. More about that later. For right now, let’s just say that people who confuse ‘literally’ and ‘figuratively’ are quite annoying.

More a matter of syntax than grammar is the way the author , 99 times out of 100, uses ‘upon’ for ‘on’, as in ‘upon 20 January 1487.’ Another annoyance.

Further, he doesn’t seem to be able to count. Pg. 115: “Arthur was probably conceived two months before the couple wed. [My decimal digital computer says one month.] , and recent Ricardian novelists are attributing this to forcible rape.” [That’s one ‘Ricardian’ novelist, Philippa Gregory – who writes mostly about the Tudors.]

Did I mention that there are no footnotes or endnotes, and only a “Partial List of Sources?” And no index! Grr-rrr!

To go on to more factual criticisms: Terry Breverton hates Richard, to be sure, but not half as much as he hates Ricardians, it would seem: “Ricardians claim that [the Beaufort line] had been bastardised by Parliament” (not just Ricardians claim this) “so Henry, the son of Margaret Beaufort, had no claim to the throne. The same could be claimed against Richard – no recent books seem to mention that. Anti-Henry writers decry the fact that Henry’s real claim came via his mother, whereas in fact Richard’s real right also came via his mother. Both inherited through the female line.” No recent book mentions this, because it is simply not true. Richard’s mother, Cecily Neville, had Beauforts in her family tree, but Richard’s, and his brother Edward’s, claim did not come through her. Breverton had just spent the better part of a paragraph telling us about Philippa, the daughter of Lionel of Clarence, and Anne Mortimer, without mentioning that they were from senior lines. Richard’s father, from whom he derived his right to the throne, was the Duke of York, and he was descended from Edmund, Duke of York, the third son of Edward III. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, Henry’s great etc. grandfather, was the fourth son. Even if the Beauforts were unquestionably legitimate, Richard had primogeniture on his side.

“(T)he Richard III Society had always disputed that Richard had a crookbacked appearance, as usual blaming ‘Tudor propaganda,”, but the skeleton is the same as the body depicted by Richard’s contemporaries and later writers.” Most Ricardians accepted that Richard may well have had uneven shoulders, though not knowing the cause until his skeleton was discovered. Breverton is careful to use the words ‘crookbacked appearance’ in the text, but the blurb on the back cover clearly calls Richard a hunchback. The author thus confuses scoliosis (curvature of the spine) with kyphosis (commonly called ‘hunchback”) and hopes we won’t notice. Or maybe he doesn’t notice himself.

“A blog was recently set up called ‘The Henry VII Appreciation Society. Unlike the Richard III Society, with its royal patronage, it is a one-man-band…..This is one person facing the members of two national groups of the Richard III Society, plus their American, Continental, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand branches.” He thus argues, on the one hand, that Richard was certainly guilty – “What we can say is that nearly every important death in his time was connected with Richard contemporaneously” – and the majority is always right – and also argues from poverty and minority status. Poor little brave David, against the Goliath of the Richard III Society. You’re not going to root for Goliath, are you? (I have checked out that blog, which seems to be mainly a recording of significant dates in early Tudor history.)

That’s not enough for Terry Breverton, who decries ‘hagiographies’ of Richard, but proceeds to author one of Henry. “…Henry in his long reign was never involved in any estate-grabbing scandals, Richard was immured in them.” The reader picks his/her jaw up off the floor, and reads on: “Henry redistributed estates illegally confiscated by Yorkists, but had no truck with upsetting the balance of the great houses and creating potential resentment and conflict. “ He contrasts Richard’s shabby treatment of his mother-in-law, Anne Beauchamp, with Henry’s: “In November 1487 [when Henry had been king for over two years – he was in no hurry to do right by our Nell] an Act of Parliament…restored to her the family estates. One month later, the countess conveyed most of her lands back to the Crown…This led to the effective disinheritance of her grandson, Edward, Earl of Warwick.” And Breverton doesn’t find that just a little peculiar? Doesn’t necessarily mean that Henry bullied her, as TB accuses Richard of doing. He may simply have been a king of flim-flam artists (a viewpoint I rather favor, since I thought of it myself!).

On those occasions when Richard III and Henry VII did pretty much the same thing, such as post-battlefield executions, Breverton finds excuses for the latter, or points out that they are not the same thing at all, or Henry only did it a little bit. Henry’s inactions are held up as virtues: He did not display Richard’s head on a pole, “as Plantagenets were wont to do.” Yes, and many of those Plantagenets were Lancastrians, Henry’s ancestors and partisans. He deserves some credit for not being Margaret of Anjou, I suppose.

There is also the ‘man of his times’ argument, sometimes used in defense of Richard III. Breverton turns that argument on its head: “Plantagenet history is drenched in bloodshed and intrigue, whereby power was more important that legitimacy. This is Richard III’s background….Several of Richard’s predecessors had murdered their way to the crown or been usurpers, so his so–called royal bloodline was tangential at best…” Henry Tudor’s background? “Over 200 years of fighters for independence.” Welsh independence, he means. Honesty compels him to admit that Henry was twice as English (Boo! Hiss!) as he was Welsh, but he elides the fact that Henry actually did very little for the independence of Wales, though he did remove some of the anti-Welsh laws.

Breverton quotes copiously from Welsh poetry, hardly an unbiased source when dealing with an English king. One bard refers to King Richard (“the boar”) as a ‘Jew,’ a “Saracen,” and an “ape,” none of which he was, and as “little,” which was no doubt accurate. Breverton would not use such racial epithets himself, but the fact that someone in his own, less enlightened, time did, proves how much Richard was justifiably hated, and deservedly so!

Finally, Terry Breverton gives an annotated list of Richard’s crimes. Some so-called crimes might more accurately be described as civil torts (such as the Countess of Oxford affair). Some were undone almost as soon as they were done (the arrest of Stanley, et al). Some are just plain reaching. George Neville, Richard’s ward, ‘died in mysterious circumstances,’ so he was murdered? The circumstances are a ‘mystery’ only because no record survives of his cause of death. If Richard did kill him, he did so at the worst possible time for his long-term benefit, so it can be put to simple bloodthirstiness. Same with the death of sister-in-law Isabel Neville, for which he had no motive whatever. (He does name Richard’s guilt in her death as “unknown,” which, translated, means “ridiculous.”) He forgets to list Isabel’s infant son, who died at the same time she did.

Terry Breverton does bring up some points that pro-Ricardian, or neutral, historians should probably give more attention to, such as the executions of Rivers, Grey, Vaughan, et al, But when one has said that, one has said just about everything. Not quite everything – the above is just a ‘partial list.’

Just to show how ecumenical and even-handed I am, I am now preparing to eviscerate John Ashdown-Hill – well, mildly anyway. If there is such a thing as a mild evisceration.

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10 thoughts on “Part 2 of a review of Terry Breverton’s RICHARD III: THE KING IN THE CAR PARK….

  1. sighthound6 on said:

    Where does one start? I am not a Catholic, but I am well aware that the doctrine of that Church requires sincere repentance before absolution. You can’t just say: ‘Father, I murdered a guy this week. I repent. But I’m going to do something similar next week.’ That just does not cut it.

    Richard did not in any way shape or form claim through his mother. The last female he claimed through was Anne Mortimer, his grandmother. The thing is, Richard (on the assumption Edward V and his bro. were illegitimate) was both Heir Male and Heir General of Edward III. The Beaufort claim (up to 1471) was arguably to be Heir Male of Edward III. But (apart from the defects in the Beaufort claim due to Henry IV’s exclusion of their family from inheritance to the throne) Margaret Beaufort could scarcely claim to be Heir Male, remarkable woman though she was. Her hereditary claim only worked if literally every descendant of Richard, Duke of York was eliminated. Even then there were competing ‘Lancastrian’ claims.

    George Neville may or may not have died in ‘mysterious circumstances’ but if Breverton had done some reading he would know that George’s death was contrary to Richard’s interests. Indeed, Richard would have wanted him to marry and have children! So if he was murdered, it must have been by one of Richard’s enemies.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. hoodedman1 on said:

    Breverton’s book was badly written and poorly researched, and frankly, the only word I can find for its contents is ‘childish.’ Unsubstantiated claims, lack of knowledge about medieval religion, personal antipathy and agenda, whining because Henry VII doesn’t have a big enough fanclub, showing unpleasant nationalistic tendencies (in which he cranks out the old, now discredited ‘evil English Saxons massacring fluffy bunny Britons enmasse’), a juvenile list of Richard’s supposed ‘crimes’ with GUILTY written in big letters next to it (you wouldn’t get away with such arrant nonsense in high school history.)

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Kalina on said:

    What is about this infamous book? Is the publishing house which edited it quite serious? Who is Terry Breverton? Is he the serious, professional historian?

    Like

  4. hoodedman1 on said:

    No and no, Kalina. Amberley publishes huge amounts of ‘history’ books but seems, frequently, to be more about speed and quantity than quality. Breverton said, I believe, that his agent suggested he write about Richard and he knew little of the subject beforehand.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Kalina on said:

    PS.
    Is “Cambria Books” the publishing house of Terry B.? Here is the text it makes publicity for itself:

    “We do all the complicated and boring stuff leaving you to concentrate on your writing”
    “New print technology, eReaders and improved global distribution channels has made it more accessible and easier for writers to get published with our help and with an established imprint”

    All right but there is nothing about the essential value of presented publications. Or may be Terry B. published his “work” for his own money? If so, I apologize…:)))

    Liked by 1 person

  6. God, that seems like an even bigger mess than I thought after part 1. Someone actually printed and published that? From the sound of it, a high school kid who got an assignment for the next week could write a less ridiculous and more factually correct book by just getting some basic facts from Wikipedia.

    “What we can say is that nearly every important death in his time was connected with Richard contemporaneously” – Wait, what? Does that mean, in the entire world? Or just in the British Isles? Or just in England? I take it that it does not mean in the entire world, since deaths outside of the British Isles were presumably not “important” in Breverton’s mind. What is an “important death”, anyway? Important to whom/what? I presume he means deaths of members of high nobility, since common people were “unimportant”. How were those deaths “connected with Richard contemporaneously”? What does that mean? Were they “connected” because Richard was related to them (which, I guess, could make the statement technically true, as nearly every English noble was related to another English noble), or because they lived at the same time in the same country? Were various deaths in several of the battles during Richard’s lifetime “connected” to him because he fought in the same battles in which they died? It can’t mean he caused all those deaths, because that would be too much even for Shakespeare’s Richard! How many hundreds of people all over England (at least) would he have to kill, including those who were far away from him and that he had nothing to do with? Maybe he was a witch and used magical powers to bring about all those deaths! And what does “his time” encompass? His entire lifetime? Maybe he did kill Somerset at the First Battle of Saint Albans after all, as Shakespeare has him do, when he was just two. A precocious child, indeed!

    The sentence about “bastardisation” is a complete mess. No, NOBODY claims that the Beauforts were “bastardised” by the Parliament or by anyone else. He got it backwards. They were BORN as bastards and then legitimized; that’s the opposite process. They were also barred from succession of the throne, which I suspect is what he had in mind – which is not the same as being “bastardised” – and that’s not something that “Ricardians claim”, that’s a fact. And no, you can’t “say the same thing about Richard” – because none of the ancestors he inherited his claim to the throne from was born illegitimate.

    In any case, what does bastardisation or legitimization of bastards or denial of legitimized bastards’ right to the throne have to do with the question of succession through the female line? It sounds like he started talking about one thing and switched to a completely different subject mid-sentence. Words escape me when it comes to such a ridiculous and huge factual error as claiming that Richard III derived his right to the throne from his mother. Someone didn’t do basic research.

    Actually, Edmund of York was Edward III’s fifth son (Lionel, Duke of Clarence was his third; his second son William died in infancy). But the Yorkist claim to the throne was also based on the above mentioned descent through the female line from Lionel, Duke of Clarence, which was the senior line after the death of Richard II. The Lancastrian kings could claim the status of “Heir Male” after the death of the deposed Richard II*, but Henry VII certainly could not; indeed, after the death of Henry VI, Edward IV remained as the Heir Male of Edward III.

    *But, speaking of the Lancastrian claim, the female line was never excluded from inheritance in England, and if Henry IV and his his son and grandson were to claim their right as Heir Male, they should have also given up the claim to the Kingdom of France, which was based on the female line descent from queen Isabella – while the French denied her and her descendants the right to throne, based on the Salic Law – and recognized the French kings as Heirs Male. And, of course, none of them showed any inclination to give up on France. (Not to mention that there was also that business with Henry IV, then Henry Bolingbroke, previously unsuccessfully trying to use his female line descent from Henry III through his mother Blanche of Lanceaster, with a fabricated story that his ancestor Edmund Crouchback was older than Edward Longshanks, so he could argue that his claim was better than that of Richard II.)

    That argument about Henry’s wonderful treatment of Anne Beauchamp is indeed hilarious. I’m guessing that Breverton does not further elaborate on Henry’s wonderful treatment of Edward, Earl of Warwick? He probably does not mention Henry’s cordial relations with his other in-laws, such as De La Poles, either. Does he also talk of Henry’s good relationship with his own mother-in-law, Elizabeth Woodville, who went to a monastery under what one could call “mysterious circumstances”, for what one could call “mysterious” reasons?

    And Philippa Gregory is a Ricardian now? If anything, her novels set during the Wars of the Roses are clearly Woodvillian. Or is anyone who does not consider Richard III a complete monster Ricardian according to Breverton? By his standards, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up claiming that Thomas More was Ricardian – after all, More admitted he wasn’t sure that the rumors he was reporting were true, and even he never thought of accusing Richard of killing George Neville.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Gabby on said:

    A “Jew” and an “ape”? I’ve never heard that before. As far as I’m concerned he was a Euopean Cathlioc and a human. Ridiculous statements and book author.

    Like

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