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Would Richard use vellum? Or paper?….

An argument has arisen for and against using vellum for recording our laws, as stored on the amazingly full shelves of the Act Room. Paper is indeed more perishable. Just imagine having the Magna Carta on paper! How insignificant it would appear. Not insignificant in content, of course, but all the same…

I have seen the magnificent charter that Richard III granted to the City of Gloucester. It is quite exquisite, and so vivid and crisp after all this time that it might have been signed and sealed only a few years ago. If it had been on paper, it would certainly not look the same.

So, vellum or paper? In the long run, given that vellum lasts 5,000 years or more, I guess the vellum has my vote. I know there are all sorts of reasons and sensibilities against it, but I’m still in favour of its continued use. It would have been used for the Lindisfarne Gospels, Domesday Book, Magna Carta, Edward I’s Treason Acts, de Heretico Comburendo, Titulus Regius, Richard’s bail laws and Henry VIII’s attainder against the insane Viscountess Rochford.

Act Room, Houses of Parliament

Guilty!…until proven innocent, which ain’t gonna happen….


What a very strange state of affairs it is, when the king who made certain that people were innocent until proven guilty, is himself always presumed guilty with scant chance of ever being proved innocent.

But this is the case with Richard III, whose one and only Parliament advanced and improved the lot of the ordinary man to a degree that many of his statutes are still adhered to now. These statutes were even published in English, allowing the ordinary public to read or have it read to them, and understand. Richard was determined to help and protect his subjects.

Yet he is guilty until proven innocent. Who says? Well, rather blinkered historians with an axe to grind, that’s who. Close your eyes and picture them. Spot on. They are the sort of people who will say black is white, no matter what. If someone is admirable, they’ll make damned sure he isn’t for long. The sort of people who will cast endless doubt upon the truth, simply to further their own careers. To these people, More and Shakespeare are absolutely reliable for FACTS. Hmm. So, Richard had a withered arm, even though his skeleton proves he didn’t. Richard had kyphosis, they say, even though he had scoliosis. We’re right, they squeal! Especially when they’re on TV promoting their latest load of preposterousness.

Incredible as it seems to us now, back in the 15th century people could buy land, only to find it had already been sold elsewhere, or that it didn’t belong to the seller in the first place. Caveat emptor was the order of the day, and the guilty could get away with it. Richard stopped that little scam. He insisted on fairness, because that was his nature. Why else was he loved so much in the north, where he ruled for many years at the order of his brother the king? If he was a toad, they’d have been glad to see the back of him. They weren’t any such thing, instead they grieved when he was killed.

As attested to by the barrister Juliet Donovan during Channel Four’s “procession highlights” show (about 2:10:30 in), he introduced bail, saw that juries were more wisely selected, prevented the system of ‘benevolences’, and many other things. All in one Parliament. Just how far might he have gone if he had reigned for longer? He could well have transformed England, and died in his bed, a venerated king.

Instead, courtesy of these particular historians, we are still presented with Richard the Monstrous Uncle, who pinched his nephew’s throne, forced Anne Neville into marriage, bullied old women and murdered his enemies, all starting at the age of 2, or thereabouts, according to the Bard. Who is always right. Believe it. What a precocious little lad Richard was, and all while being so physically deformed and hideous that he was clearly the Devil’s spawn. The lawmaker was the twisted Law-mauler Supreme.

Well, that is if you read these Mouth Almighties, who clearly do not pay any attention to facts. Why? Because it doesn’t suit them. They don’t want to know that the real Richard was a good, brave man, who had kingship forced upon him by his elder brother’s bigamy. They want to believe More and Shakespeare. Or pretend they do, at least. And so now, even when it’s becoming clearer by the day that they are wrong, they deny it. The earth is flat where they live! The rest of us have long since known it is round.

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