The Mythology of Richard III was one of the late John Ashdown-Hill’s fine and well-researched books, which tried to dispel some of the ingrained tall tales about the much-maligned King.
Unfortunately, ‘MORE Mythology’ seems to come up all too infrequently, and I am not necessarily talking about Thomas More, although his name often arises still (cough, Starkey, cough), despite him not even being a contemporary of Richard III.
A few recent blogs and twitter accounts have recently surfaced, supposedly about ‘Royalty’ but, in fact, almost solely devoted to the Tudors–they really might be better named ‘Tudorama’ or ‘I Love Henry’. Every other dynasty before or after seems to get only a cursory mention, or, in the case, of Richard III, only a snarky or sarcastic one. Even the old fallacy was trucked out that ‘England’ did not support Richard at Bosworth, when of course, ‘England’ didn’t turn out for Henry either, hence he had to bring foreign mercenaries onto English soil. We also get pages of praiseful Tudor poetry, Henry is glorious though a bit of a naughty boy for murdering Edward of Warwick, Margaret is a super saint and Best Mum Ever, and her marriage to Edmund Tudor wasn’t the least bit creepy….
We’re even told that we should hope for a ‘glorious Henry VII 2021’–jeez, we can already see how well that’s turning out! (And don’t forget, gang, people danced in the streets with joy when Henry shuffled off this mortal coil.) Actually, though, on second thought, maybe ‘Henry 2021’ is apt–after all, it’s thought his mercenaries may well have brought in the killer disease known as the Sweat, which was probably a deadly hantavirus….
I think this t-shirt more than adequately fits the bill regarding ‘Henry 2021’. More ghastly than glorious!
As for several other mythic items about King Richard that have crept into different blogs and webpages over the past few years, these need to be quashed before they become a set part of the ‘mythology’:
- Richard had Lord Stanley’s son, a young lad, and threatened to execute him. George Strange was indeed Stanley’s son, but he was a grown man, and nothing happened to him.
2. Richard cruelly took Rhys Ap Thomas‘s small son as a hostage. Never happened. Richard did not trust Ap Thomas and suggested it (and this was not an unusual thing for kings to do when they had an untrustworthy subject; it was certainly not something invented by Richard). However, Rhys swore an oath of loyalty and Richard left the child with his parents.
3. Richard was blonde. Dr Turi King who did the DNA herself has said she believes his hair was brown as an adult, although almost certainly blonde as a child. He would not have had a black thatch to match Olivier’s cheesy raven wig but he would not have resembled a Norse Viking with golden tresses either.
4. The break in the Y-DNA between Richard and the present day Beauforts. Many are saying, as if it is proven, that the break was through Richard’s ancestor, Isabella of Castile, wife of Edmund of Langley, who was known to have had an affair with John Holland. While it is a possibility, it is still only a theory, and the break is equally likely to have been in the Beaufort male line, which had many more generations. The present Beauforts themselves descend via an illegitimacy, through the mistress of Henry Beaufort, Joan Hill, about whom little is known, so the break could just as easily have happened there.
***And if anyone wants to whine ‘Well, you poke fun at Henry!’ Well, yes, we do…but at least we are open and honest about it and don’t pretend to be a completely generic history site!