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Archive for the category “Science”

How Richard’s scoliosis might be treated today

As an osteopath, Richard’s scoliosis is another aspect of his life that fascinates me. It came to my attention that a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent, Julia Carlile, aged 16, had a scoliosis treated privately in the USA, which was paid for by Simon Cowell ($175,000)

The Mersey Girls on Britain's Got Talent

The Mersey Girls on Britain’s Got Talent – Julia is in the front, first from R-L

Click here to read more: Here.

This was interesting, but even more intriguing was the way it was treated. Scoliosis is usually treated by inserting metal rods each side of the spine. The operation is very invasive, involves large scars and leaves the patient with a spine which is very stiff, although straighter than it was. The old way would have meant Julia would never dance again, which is why Simon Cowell stepped in when he heard that the new technique would allow the spine to still be flexible enough to dance.

The operation is called vertebral body tethering, although the place in the USA that formulated the technique prefer to call it ‘Anterior Scoliosis Correction’. It involves screws being fixed along a cord inside the back. The recovery time is just six weeks and the operation is reversible if it doesn’t work. Here is a link to the place that pioneered the technique if you want to find out more: Here

Just imagine if Richard had had access to this kind of treatment!

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Did Anne of Bohemia die of leprosy…?

Anne of Bohemia's funeral procession

Anne of Bohemia’s funeral procession

Well, we are accustomed to incorrect reports about historic events, such as Richard III’s remains being tossed into the River Soar, and Henry “Tudor” being both “the Lancastrian heir” and “Earl of Richmond”. And that Richard III “poisoned” his queen, Anne Neville.

Tradition abounds with these things, but today I came upon one I hadn’t heard before: that another Queen Anne—of Bohemia—wife of another Richard—Richard II—died of leprosy. Eh? If anything it was the plague, surely? And very sudden. If Anne had leprosy I’m sure it would have been evident for some time, and certainly wouldn’t have caused sudden death. Would it?

Another suggestion is that Anne died of an ectopic pregnancy. Until recently it was generally thought that this particular royal marriage was chaste, but now a letter from Anne to her brother Wenceslaus reveals that she had just miscarried. How many miscarriages might she have had? See here. So yes, an ectopic pregnancy might indeed have been the cause of her death. Or indeed, so might anything to do with pregnancy.

But leprosy…? Somehow I think not.

Medieval earthquakes in England….

Marmara_earthquake_1509_(1)-medium

The above is the Marmara earthquake of 1509. I couldn’t find a suitable image for an English event.

We do not suffer a great many earthquakes in the United Kingdom, but there have been some, occasionally quite considerable. Our main sphere of interest on this site is the time of Richard III, and while I was investigating another earthquake, from the previous century, I happened up information about an earthquake of 1480:- “. . .’A very great earthquake’, says Reverend Francis Blomefield, in his topographical History of the County of Norfolk, of an upheaval on December 28th, which affected most of England and threw down buildings in Norwich and elsewhere. . .”

What a tantalizing reference, but unfortunately, there is no further information in the book in which I found it – The Great English Earthquake by Peter Haining (which deals mostly with the major earthquake in 1884). As far as I recall, at this time Richard had returned to Sheriff Hutton after the Scottish campaign, so maybe he did not experience this earthquake personally. But he would have heard about it.

A king of the previous century, Richard II, would almost certainly have experienced the earthquake of 21st May, 1382, which has been described as ‘one of the strongest of all British earthquakes’. Holinshed gives the time as about 1 pm. “. . .‘An earthquake in England, that the lyke thereof was never seen in Englande before that daye nor sen.’ (R. Fabyan). . .” Another report says “. . .‘A great earthquake in England. . .fearing the hearts of many, but in Kent it was most vehement, where it suncke some Churches, and threw them down to the earth.’. . .”

Holinshed further reports that there was a second disturbance on 24th May. “. . .Earlie in the morning, chanced another earthquake, or (as some write) a watershake, being so vehement and violent a motion, that it made the ships in the havens to beat one against thye other, by reason whereof they were sore bruised by such knocking together. . .”

“. . .On the day of the first shock, John Wycliffe was being tried at Westminster for his opinions on the Bible, and the sudden shock caused the court to break up in alarm: thereafter the assembly was known as the ‘Council of the Earthquake’!. . .” The Church, of course, pronounced that the earthquake was God’s condemnation of Wycliffe.

The-Trial-of-John-Wycliffe-in-the-Monastery-of-Blackfriars-London-1382

Another source tells that it was a 5.8 earthquake (I’m not sure how this can be stated as a fact) and the bell tower of Canterbury Cathedral was ‘severely damaged’. The six bells ‘shook down’.

Anyway, according to Nigel Saul, Richard II was in Westminster during this period, so I guess he certainly felt the cataclysm!

In my life I have only once experienced an earthquake. It was some time ago, and (I think) was centred off the coast of North Wales. My husband and I were in bed. It was morning, and we had yet to get up. The bed suddenly swayed backward and forward in a most peculiar manner.

My husband looked at me. “Did the earth just move for you?”

“Yes.”

He grinned. “I’m a marvel. I didn’t even have to touch you!”

 

Dear Cairo Dweller,

Science has proved that Edward IV’s more prominent sons are not in his tomb, which was opened a few times but not when anyone could have have been placed there.

Science will shortly prove that they are not in that Westminster Abbey urn, as you have maintained for so long.

So where are you going to claim they are next? If they were in, for instance, the chapel mentioned by Henry “Tudor”‘s crony, then they couldn’t have been in the urn when you said they were.

On the left is a copy of an email from Windsor Castle. Here is Timeline of references that they compiled.

 

GRANT ME THE CARVING OF MY NAME: A NEW RICARDIAN ANTHOLOGY FOR CHRISTMAS!

On the book front, I am rather excited about GRANT ME THE CARVING OF MY NAME, an upcoming anthology of fiction about Richard III , which should be out right in time to make a fabulous Christmas present.  Release date is scheduled for December 2 and all proceeds from sales will go to the Scoliosis Society UK. Stories are from many well-known names in Ricardian circles and range  from the serious to the humorous. Editor is Alex Marchant, author of  THE ORDER OF THE WHITE BOAR series and the cover is a fabulous piece by Finnish artist Riikka Katajisto.

List of contributors are as follows:

Narrelle M. Harris
Wendy Johnson
Riikka Katajisto
Susan Kokomo Lamb (one-half of Larner & Lamb!)
Joanne R. Larner (the other half of Larner & Lamb!)
Matthew Lewis
Máire Martello
Frances Quinn
J. P. Reedman
Marla Skidmore
Richard Unwin
Jennifer C. Wilson

So.. something  good to read on those long cold winter nights that lie just around the corner!

grant me the carving of my name anthology

Please click this link for more information

 

riikka

Art copyright Riikka Katajisto

 

An American take on the “Princes” and the new scientific evidence

Here is an article from an American website about the “Princes” and John Ashdown-Hill’s work towards determining the identity of the bones in that urn, as detailed in his “The Mythology of the Princes in the Tower”.

The article is rather good. It does fail to notice that Westminster Abbey is a Royal peculiar and so the Anglican hierarchy has no influence. Apart from that, the dental evidence suggests that the remains are unlikely to be related to Richard III, who has been analysed in great detail.

The mitochondrial DNA, which was integral to identifying Richard himself, is possibly understated here but modern scientific analysis, on the basis of this research legacy, could lead to any of the following conclusions:
1) The remains are of the wrong age, gender, era or even species.
2) Their mtDNA does not match that of Elizabeth Wydeville.
3) The remains are of more than two people.
4) The remains are of one mtDNA matching person and one other.
5) The remains are of two people of the right age, gender, era, species and mtDNA.

Conclusion 5 would positively identify them as Edward IV’s sons. Conclusions 1 and 2 would eliminate this possibility. Conclusions 3 and 4 would be more complex as a mitochondrially identical cousin disappeared from the same place sixty years later. The probability of the remains consisting of Edward V, Richard of Shrewsbury and their later cousin is surely exceedingly low, although that cousin or one “Prince” resting with an unrelated individual is more possible.

Channel 5’s “Inside the Tower of London”

This four-part series is narrated by Jason Watkins and heavily features Tracy Borman, Joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces.

The first part dealt with the Peasants’ Revolt, which resulted in Simon of Sudbury‘s beheading and Borman travelled to St. Gregory’s in his home town to view the preserved head. She spoke about the animals kept in the various mini-towers and the Royal Mint that coined “Long Cross Pennies”, introduced by Henry III. We saw the Beefeaters, including a retirement party for one, before scholars at Eton and King’s College commemorated their founder, Henry VI, at the “Ceremony of the Lilies and Roses”. Then came the mystery of the “Princes”, as Borman used Domenico Mancini’s correct forename whilst taking him at face value a little too much, although she did note that More was five in 1483 and wrote three decades later to please Henry VIII. The seventeenth century discovery of remains of some sort was mentioned and a new exhibition on the “Princes” was launched, even as counter-evidence has emerged and been clarified.

Part two focussed on Henry VIII’s first and second “marriages”, together with the dramatic end of the second. Part three moved on to the twentieth century with the shooting of Josef Jakobs and other German spies, together with the 1913 visit of the suffragette Leonora Cohen. Rudolf Hess was also held there, as were the Kray twins later. The concluding part dealt with the role of the Constable, the ravens and the interrogation of Guy Fawkes and other prisoners, together with the tale of the more privileged, such as Raleigh, and the audacity of Colonel Blood’s attempt to steal the Crown Jewels, so soon after many of them had been recreated.

da Vinci and the RAF centenary

Leonardo di ser Piero “da Vinci” (below left) was nearly six months older than Richard III, having been born in the Republic of Florence on 15 April 1452. Over his lifetime, which ended in 1519, he is best known for his paintings, such as The Last Supper or la Gioconda. However, he also left us a number of remarkable engineering and other sketches, depicting human and animal biology, geology and devices, including flying machines. The anatomical diagrams would have contributed towards the quality of his portraits in the same way that Stubbs studied the physiology of horses.

On the right is his 1488 design for a flying machine. In this, the centenary of the Armistice and of the RAF, it is interesting to compare it with aircraft from the First World War and to note that Leonardo also theoretically described a parachute, a concept with which later pilots would be very familiar.

An example (left) is the (French) Nieuport Fighter. 

A new tool uses DNA to predict eye, hair, skin colour…

New DNA tool

A new tool uses DNA to predict eye, hair, skin colour …

Quote from the above article: “The tool has been used by law enforcement in the Netherlands, Poland, and Australia, but it has not yet been adopted in the United States, Walsh said. It has also been used on ancient DNA, and it was used to determine that King Richard III had blue eyes and blond hair.”

Ah, but was he blond as a child? Or throughout into manhood? And just how accurate is all this anyway?

Sun-Pebbles, Stakes and Skulls: Woodbridge’s Super-Henge

In the world of British archaeology, there has been a major find near Woodbridge in Suffolk of a large Neolithic henge/ritual complex. Now where I live, henges and causewayed camps  are a dime a dozen; you can hardly stick a spade in the ground without hitting prehistoric finds…however, this latest one in Suffolk is a little different to any discovered thus far and may be regarded of international importance. Due to the preservative nature of the local soil, organics have survived (extremely rare for this period), including a trackway into the monument and a series of wooden stakes that are so complete and undamaged, you can still see the cutmarks of the axes that hewed them.

Another amazing find has been the skull of an aurochs, a huge prehistoric cow the size of a bison. Very surly and mean-tempered, these beasts were particularly hunted in the preceding Mesolithic period; one of them could feed an entire tribe. The skull at Woodbridge henge is unique in that it has been modified,  with a hole bored into the base; it may have been either carried in procession on a pole or worn as some kind of a headdress (although such a headdress would have been immensely heavy.) Even more fascinating is that the radio carbon dates place its age at 2000 years before the Neolithic monument was built–therefore, the aurochs had indeed lived and died in the earlier Mesolithic period. Was this an ancient trophy, an ancestral, tribal totem borne in procession time out of mind? It is  interesting to compare  this deposit to the cremated human remains at Stonehenge, many of which were  people who had died several hundred years prior to their actual interment, perhaps being ‘founder’ burials of revered ancestors.

A scattering of white pebbles was also found around the monument; this tallies with MANY other Neolithic  and Bronze Age monuments in Britain and Ireland where white pebbles (sometimes quartz) are found deliberately placed around the monuments or even used in revetments and facades (as at Newgrange.) It is surmised they may have been meant to catch the light of the sun or moon, both of which were  highly important to the ancient people of the Isles.

The old idea that these monuments were in isolation to each other and prehistoric folk did not know what was going on over the next hill is a rapidly dying one–another fallacy cast out by science and open-minded study.

 

Suffolk neolithic site

Barbed and tanged arrowhead found on site. Aurochs skull with bored hole.

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