What did Richard III sound like….?
Back in 2013, Dr Philip Shaw of Leicester University gave a demonstration of how Richard might have spoken, putting into the spoken word two of Richard’s personal letters. He concluded that from Richard’s spelling, he would have sounded as if he came from the West Midlands – Dudley, Birmingham, Ludlow, or thereabouts.
This sample of Dr Shaw’s “Richard” is in circulation again (which I know courtesy of Jenny Mcfie – thank you, Jenny), so maybe those who have not heard it before would like to hear it now:-
Listening to him is very strange indeed. Today’s royalty and aristocrats all sound the same. Juicy fruit from the same superior plum tree. But back then it seems they were identifiable by the place they came from. As we all were and mostly still are. Richard spent a lot of his childhood in Ludlow Castle, hence the Ludlow-area accent. So, did Edward and George sound like that too? But what did Henry VII sound like? Any lingering Welsh from his first fourteen years? And what of Anne Neville, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort? Fascinating thoughts. I’d love to know what Warwick the Kingmaker had to say for himself.
One last thought about Richard. As he spent most of his adult life in the north, did he end up with a Yorkshire accent? We will never know, of course.
Go back further and they all sounded French anyway.
Where’s that danged time machine when we need it?