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Two Richards, one fate….

Two Richards

This post harks back to a previous one of 5th November 2014. Both concern the similarities between the lives and deaths of Richard II and Richard III, but I have now come upon a passage in a book that is actually about Richard II, but much of which could be applied to Richard III. The book is The Medieval Python, by and about Monty Python’s Terry Jones, Chapter 4, Terry Jones’s Richard II by Nigel Saul.

“For Terry Jones, Richard II is a much maligned ruler. Obstructed by a gaggle of obscurantist barons, deposed by a slippery usurper, and with his reputation besmirched by Lancastrian propaganda, Richard, in Terry’s view, is deserving of better in the eyes of posterity. Far from the self-centred, vengeful monarch portrayed in textbooks, Richard, for Terry, was actually a wise and beneficent ruler who sought the good of his people. In his final years, when he ruled without baronial constraint, he conducted what Terry calls ‘a bold experiment in ideal kingship’. Its aim was to shield the king’s humbler subjects from the policy of aggressive war with France that suited only the warmongering baronage. After 1399, however, when Henry IV seized the crown from his cousin, history was rewritten to blacken the former king’s name. Our assessment of Richard’s kingship, Terry argues, should be based not on the hostile Lancastrian accounts, but on sources that date from the king’s own lifetime. In particular, we should try to judge Richard’s achievement in the light of contemporary expectations of kingship for the common good. Viewed in this light, Richard can be seen for what he was—an exponent of the ideas in the ‘mirrors of princes’ literature, a monarch who triumphed over faction, ruling in the common interest. . .”

Saul goes on to argue against Jones’ judgement, but that is beside the point. I think you will have to agree that these two Richards (forget the so-called Lionheart) were subjected to very similar, very cruel fates.

As I said in my previous post (indicated above) the similarities are astonishing, even to both being married to Annes who died before them and left them childless, and both being removed from life by Henrys who proceeded to ruin their reputations with endless lies. Oh, and they both have the misfortune to attract Shakespeare, who is always on the wrong side! Well, I think he is.

 

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The Madness of King Richard III

alan bennett

Playwright Alan Bennett

A while back, Sunday, December 3rd, 2017, to be exact,  I was looking through The New York Times Book Review section when I came across playwright Alan Bennett’s new book called “Keeping On Keeping On.”  It was a mildly interesting review of his diary (ODD SPOILER ALERT:  he once shared the same doctor as Sylvia Plath) until I got to this:  “He’s so upset at what the Richard III Society has done to an old church that he rips down their banner and ‘would have burned it, had I had a match.'”   Brow knitted, I wondered:  what have those wild-eyed, tweedy academic types been up to this time??

Well, a brief Google search provided a hint in yet another book review, this time from the London Review of Books.  In published excerpts from 2014, Bennett dismisses the significance of finding Richard the Third’s remains although admitting that the reconstructed head looks astonishingly like his famed portrait.  Comparing Ricardians to those who believe Edward DeVere was a genius while William Shakespeare nothing more than the dim-bulb son of a rural glove-maker, he goes on to say this:

“Just east of Leeds and not far from Towton and its bloody battlefield is Lead Church, a medieval cell of a chapel which possibly served as a refuge or a dressing station after the battle in 1461.  I have known the chapel since I was a boy when I used to go out there on my bike.  It stands in the middle of a field, the grass grazed by sheep right up to the south door and has latterly been in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.  It was untouched as late as 2000 when it figured in an article I wrote for The World of Interiors.  However, calling there a few years ago we found that the grass outside the south door had been replaced or supplemented by a patio not even in York stone but in some fake composition.  Inside, draped in front of the altar was a gaudy banner advertising the Richard III Society.  This I rolled up and had I had the means would have destroyed.  I wrote to the CCT, who generally do a decent job but was told the patio had been there for many years.  It hadn’t and I suspect the culprits were the Richard III Society, who see the church as a Yorkist site…”

loyalty binds

Gaudy?

According to Mr. Bennett, not only have Ricardians managed to rehabilitate the name of the last Yorkist king but apparently have gone into the concrete, paving and masonry business! Of course, he offers no proof that the Society had anything to do with building a bad-taste deck on the back of a medieval church but when it comes to the world of denialists, I suppose any insult will do.*  Luckily for them, while we Ricardian hard hats may be expert at mixing concrete along with our metaphors, we no longer prepare “Chicago overcoats” or cement shoes for those who have differing opinions…

construction

A Ricardian on lunch break?  I think not!

 

 

*The website of St. Mary Lead reports only that it received a grant from The Richard the Third Society for renovations.  It says nothing about the Society directing or instructing or approving the work.

Were Edward II and Isabella maligned too….?

The above illustrations are an indication of the generally accepted view of the reign of Edward II. He preferred men and ignored his wife. She resented this, took a lover and turned successfully upon her husband, becoming the “She Wolf” of legend.

So let us go back to the beginning. On 25th January 1308, Edward II and the beautiful Isabella of France were married. He was 23 and she was a mere 16. Their coronation was on 25th November that year. For Isabella, the blot on her landscape was a certain Piers Gaveston, who appears to have been Edward’s adored lover. Certainly the handsome Gascon was regarded with inordinate favour by the besotted king, who created him Earl of Cornwall and even presented his own niece in marriage. Gaveston lorded it at the coronation, bearing the crown and having the audacity to wear royal purple, instead of the cloth of gold that was decreed for his rank of earl. Then he and Edward sat together, laughing and doting, leaving Isabella on her own with her outraged French relatives. The latter were so angry they walked out. Edward, apparently, hardly noticed their departure.

Isabella_of_France_Consort_Edward_II_345w

Isabella, Queen Consort of Edward II

Needless to say, Gaveston was loathed by the baronage…and, fame has always had it, by Isabella as well. He, and his successors, the even more hated Despensers, were the bane of her existence. She was scorned, humiliated, abandoned, and generally treated appallingly by the foolish Edward. Eventually she was driven into the arms of Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, who became her lover. Together they managed to unseat Edward and eventually bring out his death at Berkeley Castle. (Well, that too might be a myth, for there is a persistent theory that he escaped and lived abroad for the rest of his life.)

But it is with Edward’s relationship with Isabella that I am concerned here. Was she really that callously treated? It isn’t often that I’ve come across anyone defending Edward and, to a certain extent, Isabella as well. Maybe Edward has been wronged, and was a caring husband after all. And maybe she loved him in return. In the beginning. Eventually it all became too much for her, and she turned to Mortimer, but it certainly wasn’t instant.

To read an argument in favour of both parties, go to the following, which I found very interesting and thought-provoking. Has Edward been wrongly judged through the centuries? The original post was by Kathryn Warner, author of “Edward II: The Unconventional King”.

http://www.kyrackramer.com/2015/01/06/isabella-of-france-and-edward-ii-reality-is-far-more-interesting-than-myth/

Is Annette Bening descended from Edward IV’s daughter Cecily/Cicely….?

Richard III - McKellan

Has anyone else heard that the film actress Annette Bening is descended from Edward IV’s daughter, Cecily/Cicely? That is, according to the Wikipedia entry for Elizabeth Woodville, which cites “Cecily Plantagenet – Family tree Tim Dowling Geneanet” Geneanet.org.

It seems Annette Bening played Elizabeth Woodville in the 1995 film of Richard III. (3rd from right in picture)

Yes, I know it’s Wikipedia and has to be approached with caution, but I’d be interested to know if it’s true, or how it came about. Does anyone know?

Richard in Flares????

Someone posted a link to a teachers’ resource where Shakespeare’s Richard III is depicted as a storyboard that the students can interact with. Obviously, it’s Shakespeare so Richard isn’t going to be shown in a good light, but have a look at the main characters! Really, why is Clarence dressed as a sailor? And Edward looks younger than his sons and shorter than Richard. Anne looks like his mother and Richard is in flares! Not to mention the Duchess of York, who seems to be wearing boxing gloves!!  I have already emailed them, but maybe others should to protest at this stupid and inaccurate depiction. I dread to think what the younger generation are going to think about Richard!

 

Picture of flared trousers

Flared Trousers

Just click on the link and see! Click here

 

 

Image credit: By iluvrhinestones from seattle, oceania, upload by Herrick 08:08, 7 December 2007 (UTC) (high waisted jeans) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Dark Sovereign (2)

This is our second extract from this innovative Robert Fripp play, concerning the Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham:

 

 

 

 

 

Protected by her consort, Edward IV, through their 19 year marriage, Elizabeth Woodville took to appropriating property from the “Old nobility” faction, including Richard Gloucester and Harry, Duke of Buckingham. This included marrying members of her own family to the heirs of great families, thereby draining the pool of marriageable heirs, denying them to the “Old nobility”. As a boy, Harry Buckingham was one such mark, put to marry Elizabeth’s sister. Following Edward IV’s death, the queen stood alone with her greed and her faults.

Richard Gloucester, in Middleham, receives a warning letter from Lord Hastings. Having read it, he loses his temper in front of Thomas, his varlet:

 

 

 

 

 

Gloucester, just weeks from taking the throne as Richard III, reminds Queen Anne [Nevill] of their days in Middleham, at the time when he was a boy “fostered” to her family to receive military training. (A common practice among noble families in the medieval world.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This speaks for itself. Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s demands stirred the nobility to anger. Here, Buckingham roars:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important: Some of these materials from “Dark Sovereign” are being posted for the first time. Posted with the author’s permission.
© Robert Fripp, 1988, 2017
RobertFripp.ca
Amazon, Author’s Page

Dark Sovereign (1)

This is the first of our extracts from this innovative Robert Fripp play, concerning Edward IV’s bigamous marriage to Elizabeth Wydeville:

 

 

 

 

Two spirits, identical twin sisters Truth and Rumour, discuss the personality of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, while she embroiders onstage:

Our next extract will feature the Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham.

Important: Some of these materials from “Dark Sovereign” are being posted for the first time. Posted with the author’s permission.
© Robert Fripp, 1988, 2017
RobertFripp.ca
Amazon, Author’s Page

Fascinating Coventry….!

Guildhall, Coventry

Guildhall, Coventry

Coventry’s history and buildings are very well served and illustrated in this article. I think the city is very well worth visiting and has a lot to offer.

 

A memory of Hucknall past, a link to Hucknall present…and Richard….

Hucknall

The above notification brings back great memories. Before the Flood, in 1958-60 ,I lived just outside Hucknall, and sometimes waited outside the parish church, where Byron is buried. I little knew then that the notorious poet would feature in more than one of the many Regency novels I was to write. What I DID know then, was that the 15-year-old Me bought a tiny bottle of Max Factor Primitif perfume (forbidden to me, and secretly saved up for out of my pocket money).

Primitif

Clearly I was, even then, a creature of taste and distinction! So, there I stood, outside the church, eyeing my illicit purchase with delight. Too late I wondered how on earth I was going to explain why I was drenched in the stuff. Talk about being wise after the event! And I was a lousy liar. Guilt would have been written all over me, in neon letters.

Anyway, this little story returned to me because I spotted this article. And yes, Richard will feature on the night. Shakespeare’s version, of course.

 

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in York….?

Rose Theatre in York

I do hope they plan to stage more than just the Bard’s improbable notion of Richard III, clever as it is. But whatever they do, this theatre can only do well for York.

See here, here and here.

 

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