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NOT AGAIN! THE LATEST FROM A CAIRO DWELLER …

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Richard Duke of Gloucester being offered the crown by the Three Estates at Baynards Castle, June 1483.  Painting by Sigismund Goetze at the Royal Exchange…(or according to some.. Richard in the actual act of ‘usurping’ the throne)…

I came across this article on a forum devoted to late medieval Britain.

Unfortunately I read it..5 minutes from my life I will never get back again… but as I was laid up with a bad head cold I had nothing  much better to do.  I should have been warned by the photo of a little girl in what looked like an attempt at Tudor costume and the words ‘I have no idea who this little girl is but she is adorable.  Little kids in this era were adorable and vulnerable too ..just like modern children..lets keep that in mind’.  This should have alerted me to the fact the writer was a writer of rubbish.  Nevertheless I cracked on.  As it transpired the article has more holes in it than a hairnet…and worse was to come.

John Howard, having been cheated out of his inheritance, which ‘seems to have stuck in his craw’ then went on to become ‘one of the first men to help the new king’s uncle usurp his throne and become King Richard III’.  When I challenged the word ‘usurp’ I received the reply of a emoji rolling on the floor laughing.  It  then became clear to me the quality of the author’s debating powers were going to be found somewhat lacking.  But casting that aside for the moment lets look at the word ‘usurp‘ as used by the author to describe the actions of Richard.  The late historian John Ashdown-Hill addressed this point very well.  “Definitions of the verb ‘usurp’ include include terms as to seize power by force and without legal authority…Richard III did not gain the throne by fighting a battle nor did he seize the crown.  He was offered the crown by the Three Estates of the Realm.  Later the decision of the Three Estates of the Realm was formally enacted by the Parliament of 1484′ (1) . Thus to describe Richard as a usurper is incorrect and a nonsense.”

Not content with calling Richard a usurper,  John Howard, later Duke of Norfolk is next in line to be  maligned by the statement regarding Anne Mowbray, (the 4 year old heiress of John Mowbray who died just before her ninth birthday)  ‘All that John Howard could do was wait and hope something happened to Anne…’!  This is quite an offensive thing to say as well as ludicrous as no source has come down to us informing us of Howard’s personal thoughts on this matter and which I very much doubt would have been ‘hoping’ for the death of a small child. Incidentally, he was raised to the Duchy of Norfolk whilst the “Princes”, including the previous in suo jure Duke, were known to be alive – see p.78 and pp.117-124 of The Mythology of the “Princes in the Tower”, also by Ashdown-Hill.
Howard later went on to fight and lay down his life for his king aged 60 years old.  This colossus of a man could easily have wormed his way out of fighting, as others did, with his age as an excuse.  He did no such thing and its a great pity that we have modern day pip-squeaks having the brass neck to  disparage such a man.  The author needs to hang their head with shame but I doubt if that will happen any time soon.

As we go on we see Lady Eleanor Butler nee Talbot – a lady of the nobility and daughter to the great John Talbot lst Earl of Shrewsbury a, sister to the Duchess of Norfolk and a lady known for her piety – described as one of King Edward’s ‘side pieces’…(I know,  I know..my guess is this is a stab at  ‘bit on the side’ but your guess is as good as mine).  She was in actual fact no such thing,  being the legal wife of Edward who married her in order to get her into bed.   Surely Eleanor deserves more respect than this….as I said pip-squeaks and all.

The writer then follows up with a message touching on the execution of Lord Hastings to prove her point that Richard was a Bad Man.   I say ‘touching’ in a very loose way as she makes no attempt to explore,  let alone mention,   what reasons were behind the execution only pointing out, unnecessarily,   that Hastings  was executed ‘even though he was one of the most richest and powerful men in the country’..what has this got to do with it?   Furthermore…’Richard had him dragged out and beheaded on a log’. Presumably Dickens, who was unborn, or More, aged five at the time, cannot be taken seriously as eye-witnesses?  Is it not about time this myth was debunked?  Three accounts survive of the dramatic events at the meeting at the Tower that day – those from  Historical Notes of a London Citizen 1483/84, Mancini and Croyland (2) – none of which mention the infamous log.

 

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A log, something that Lord Hastings was NOT beheaded on…

Hastings was probably, as Carson points out, executed under the Law of Arms (3), having tried to eliminate the Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham and been judged by the Constable’s Court, Gloucester being Lord High Constable at the time. In much the same way, Rivers, Vaughan and Grey were judged by the Earl of Northumberland, the designated Vice-Constable.

 

  1. The Mythology of Richard III chapter 6 p74 John Ashdown-Hill.
  2. Historical Notes of a London Citizen 1483/8, English Historical Review, Vol. 96. p588 Richard Firth Green,   Mancini p.89, Croyland  p.479-80.  I am indebted to Peter Hammond and Anne Sutton for their very useful book, Richard III The Road to Bosworth Field, a complete and handy reference to all the primary sources covering Richard’s reign.
  3. The Maligned King p.98, but Carson’s other book illustrates the powers of the Constable and Protector and the documents assigning the role to Gloucester.
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Cecily Neville

As we mentioned here, Ashdown-Hill’s biography of Richard’s mother was published in April. Whilst his latest, to which we shall return later, was released today, we shall concentrate on Cecily here.

This is the book that summarises Cecily’s life by delineating her full and half-siblings, demonstrating that portraits (right) previously assumed to be of her and Richard, Duke of York, are of other people. Ashdown-Hill then lists her pregnancies and shows where each of her children were probably born – there is no mention of a Joan but there is further evidence about the birth date of the future Edward IV and Cecily’s ordeals during the first peak of the Roses battles. He deduces how much she knew and how she probably felt about Edward’s bigamy and the Wydevilles, together with the part she played, as a Dowager Duchess, in Richard III’s coronation, but also her years living under Henry VII and a “between the lines” interpretation of her will.

In all, the eighty years of Cecily’s life, survived only by two of her daughters are described in great detail in a book that demonstrates further painstaking research by an author who clearly knows even more about the fifteenth century than he did two years ago.

Now on to this one (right) …

 

A portrait of Richard in Lego….!

Lego Richard

It was a great idea for the Easter Holiday, to let visitors to the Richard III Centre in Leicester help to create a portrait of Richard. Somehow it doesn’t seem possible that it eventually contained nearly 97,000 bricks, or that it might be destroyed. It deserves to be kept at the centre!

 

An Easter exhibition

From Saturday to Easter Monday, the Richard III Visitor Centrekinglego1JPG will have a special interactive exhibition for children, including the chance to build the King from Lego bricks or to illustrate him in other ways.

 

Another clue to the mystery of the “Princes”?

On the left is Gipping Chapel in Suffolk, attached to the Tyrrell property of Gipping Hall. It is a traGippingChapeldition within the Tyrrell family that the “Princes”, the sons of Edward IV who were technically children, lived there during 1483-4 “with the permission of the mother”

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To the right is St. Nicholas of Myra, the 4th Century Bishop who is the patron saint of children, inter alia. He survived Diocletian’s persecution to take office under Constantine and die of old age. Gipping Chapel was dedicated to him.

So what is he trying to tell us about them?

Richard III and Lorenzo de’ Medici

I have just completed my new novel, Richard Liveth Yet (Book II): A Foreign Country, an alternative history story in which Richard, having won at Bosworth, continues as King of England and pays a visit to Florence at the invitation of Lorenzo de’ Medici.

On researching Lorenzo, I became intrigued by the number of parallels and similarities between the two leaders.

Lorenzo was about four years older than Richard and, in common with him, was given great responsibility at a young age. He was sent on diplomatic missions, which included meeting the Pope. Like Richard, he had a brother who was considered very beautiful, where he was seen as plainer, shorter and less attractive and both of them lost their brothers too soon (three of them in Richard’s case).

The Medicis’ main rivals for power in Florence were the Pazzis, who murdered Lorenzo’s brother, Giuliano, in the famous Pazzi conspiracy.  Of course, Richard’s York family’s rivals were the Lancastrians and the rivalry took the form of battles rather than covert assassinations.

They both enjoyed hunting and hawking and both were patrons of the arts: in Richard’s case this was mainly through music and architecture, whereas Lorenzo patronised the Renaissance artists such as Botticelli, da Vinci and Michelangelo, and encouraged art and culture, even writing poetry himself, written in his native Tuscan. As we know Richard was the first English monarch to swear allegiance in English, had his laws written in English and even owned a bible translated into English.

They were both seen as intelligent – Lorenzo was thought to be the most intelligent of his siblings – and they both encouraged education and enjoyed books and learning.

They diverge in their family life in that Lorenzo and his wife, Clarice, had ten children (though not all survived) whereas Richard and Anne had only one, who died young. However, they both knew the grief of losing children and both their wives pre-deceased them.

Both were courageous – Richard in battle, and in particular during Bosworth’s final moments, and Lorenzo when he went himself to Naples, which was enemy territory after the Pazzi conspiracy, to settle the resulting war with the Holy See through diplomacy.

Both took their deceased brother’s child(ren) into their household after their death (in Richard’s case, I am now referring to George’s death).

Both of them were praised by their respective favoured cities after their death. As we know, York’ said: ‘King Richard, late mercifully reigning over us, was through great treason . . . piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city.’ They also referred to him as the ‘most famous prince of blessed memory.’

As regards Lorenzo, on his death (also at a young age of 43) the Signoria and councils of Florence issued this decree:

‘Whereas the foremost man of all this city, the lately deceased Lorenzo de’ Medici, did, during his whole life, neglect no opportunity of protecting, increasing, adorning and raising this city, but was always ready with counsel, authority and painstaking, in thought and deed; shrank from neither trouble nor danger for the good of the state and its freedom….. it has seemed good to the Senate and people of Florence…. to establish a public testimonial of gratitude to the memory of such a man, in order that virtue might not be unhonoured among Florentines, and that, in days to come, other citizens may be incited to serve the commonwealth with might and wisdom.’

Finally, I think there were some similarities in their appearance also.

What do you think?

Pic of Lorenzo de' Medici

Pic of reconstruction of Richard III's head

Photo of Lorenzo: Public Domain / Photo of RIII reconstruction © Copyright Mike Searle and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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