Here’s how Kent County Council describes the two important Ricardian books.
Richard III:A Small Guide to the Great Debate by Annette Carson
“Ever since the discovery of his lost grave in Leicester, the eyes of the world have been drawn to the twists and turns surrounding England’s King Richard III… Annette Carson, acclaimed author and expert on Richard’s reign (and one of the team who found him), has published A Small Guide to the Great Debate, a brief summary of the main arguments concerning his actions and reputation. Carson has researched and written extensively on Richard III. Her book Richard III: The Maligned King (The History Press, 2008) was revised in 2013 and sold out within 3 months. The print edition of A Small Guide was published on 1 July this year and is already stocked, in hundreds, by visitors’ centres at Leicester, Bosworth Battlefield and elsewhere. Written as a succinct, straightforward summary of the facts, this short handbook outlines how King Richard came to be portrayed as a monster-villain by the Tudors, and how a backlash in later centuries created the ‘Great Debate’ over his reputation, which still rages today. It also analyses the mystery of the ‘Princes in the Tower’, examining what people actually said and did at the time of their disappearance, and who profited from their removal. The book sets out all the main theories and arguments, together with their strengths and weaknesses, in a non-scholarly style, without imposing judgements and conclusions. An invaluable reference resource, it invites readers to weigh up the evidence and make up their own minds. Recommended for anyone interested in Richard III, for libraries and also as a reference for the media, A Small Guide sticks to the verifiable facts while offering insights you won’t find in conventional history books.”
The Last Days of Richard III and the fate of his DNA by John Ashdown-Hill
“The Last Days of Richard III contains a new and uniquely detailed exploration of Richard’s last 150 days. By deliberately avoiding the hindsight knowledge that he will lose the Battle of Bosworth Field, we discover a new Richard: no passive victim, awaiting defeat and death, but a king actively pursuing his own agenda. It also re-examines the aftermath of Bosworth: the treatment of Richard’s body; his burial; and the construction of his tomb. And there is a fascinating story of why, and how, Richard III’s family tree was traced until a relative was found, alive and well, in Canada. Now, with the discovery of Richard’s skeleton at the Greyfriars Priory in Leicester, England, John Ashdown-Hill explains how his book inspired the dig and completes Richard III’s fascinating story, giving details of how Richard died, and how the DNA link to aliving relative of the king allowed the royal body to be identified.”
What follows was written entirely by Caroline Tilley, Senior Reporter of the Daily Gazette/Essex County Standard
Secret marriages, scandalous affairs and one of the best-kept secrets in English history….
WHEN you have helped to unearth arguably the greatest historical find of the 21st century, some people might decide to put their feet up.
Not Dr John Ashdown-Hill.
Not satisfied with finding the bones of Richard III, arguably England’s most notorious king underneath a Leicester car park, Dr Ashdown-Hill has now been riffling through the secrets of his elder brother Edward IV.
King of England for two periods in the 15th century, Edward Plantagenet’s life seems about as far removed from his brother, Richard’s, as conceivably possible.
A notorious womaniser with illegitimate children scattered across the country, scandal plagued his reign with secret marriages.
Yet all is not as it seems, as Dr Ashdown-Hill has explored in his new book.
The historian, who studied at the University of Essex and now lives in Manningtree, has unearthed evidence which appears to show Edward IV had a relationship with one of his military rivals.
He said: “In the summer of 1462 he met Henry, Duke of Somerset. Contemporary accounts tell us Edward loved him.”
If true, the claim would be one of the most explosive facts to come to light about a king renowned for his womanising.
There is certainly evidence, with a chronicle written at the time reporting how the two shared a bed.
Dr Ashdown-Hill said: “I don’t know why it’s been ignored.
“No-one has really picked it up. I think history is very surprising.”
Dr Ashdown-Hill made the headlines when, thanks partly to his painstaking work, the lost bones of Richard III were uncovered under a Leicester car park.
The notorious king has intrigued historians for centuries after allegedly killing off his nephews, the so-called princes in the tower and Edward IV’s sons, to take the throne.
His death at the hands of Henry VII, father to Henry VIII, marked the end of the famous Wars of the Roses.
It had been believed Richard’s bones had been thrown in a river by an angry mob a myth perpetuated by local legend, 50 years after his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
The lesson not to take evidence at face value is something Dr Ashdown-Hill is now applying to his work on Edward IV.
He said: “I had always been interested in Edward IV because of what he had to show about Richard III and his claim to the throne.
“A woman called Jane Shore was said to be his mistress for a long time. In fact, I have shown there is no evidence of this.
“It’s extraordinary. Even historian Rosemary Horrox said there was no contemporary evidence of it, yet she didn’t come to the obvious conclusion.”
Dr Ashdown-Hill added: “It was said Edward IV was a great womaniser and he had numerous bastards.
“In fact, Edward IV only recognised one illegitimate child, which he called the Lord Bastard.
“Henry VII then recognises another of his so-called children called Arthur Plantagenet. So it seems he might have had two or three illegitimate children.
“But so did Richard III and yet no one calls what he did outrageous. So why did they say this of his brother?”
Dr Ashdown-Hill believes the secret is tied up in an Act of Parliament which made Richard III king in 1483, after the death of his brother.
While the throne was meant to pass to the eldest prince in the tower, Richard claimed they were illegitimate and instead took the throne for himself.
But the two princes weren’t the only of Edward IV’s so-called legitimate children to be cut off. In fact, there were seven altogether.
Dr Ashdown-Hill believes it was this which has caused the confusion and led to historians believing Edward IV had so many illegitimate offspring.
Edward IV is not the only project Dr Ashdown-Hill is working on.
His work on Richard III led to the discovery of today’s Plantagenet female line through DNA.
He also uncovered somewhere along the line adultery had appeared, with at least one so-called father being displaced.
Dr Ashdown-Hill does not know whether this adultery happened in more modern or medieval times.
He is now trying to get his hands on the bones of Thomas of Lancaster, a relative of Richard III, whose bones were sold at auction in Colchester 1942.
It is not known where the bones are now but if he uncovers them, Dr Ashdown-Hill hopes to be able to pinpoint more accurately if the adultery happened before or after the birth of Richard III.
So after recovering the bones of Richard III and untangling the web of Edward IV, what’s next for Dr Ashdown-Hill?
As well as chasing possible living descendants who could give him DNA to pinpoint the elusive princes in the tower, he is next turning his attention to Richard III and Edward IV’s mother.
He said: “Cecily Neville seems to have spent a lot of her time being pregnant.
“I’m hoping a book might come from looking at her.”
See the article at http://tinyurl.com/z3m2clp
This sounds a good idea to me. DNA is so very important, that the history of its discovery and development is important too.
We have all heard of Patricia Cornwell, author of numerous titles, including the Scarpetta series. Well, it seems that the discovery of Richard’s remains have inspired her to change direction from straight crime into forensic crime. Richard’s appeal reaches out in all manner of different ways!
We all know that Richard III was identified by his mitochondrial DNA and that DNA was discovered in Cambridge. The discovery was announced at the “Eagle” pub in the city.
It is less well known that this name is derived from the Stanley badge, the “Eagle and Child” , although it ought, perhaps, have been the Cross of Lorraine?
Recently, DNA testing has been used to sequence the genome of Oetzi the Iceman’s clothing. We are now able to trace exactly where the fibres of his garments, both animal and plants originated over 5000 years ago.
Human DNA was a useful tool in the identification of Richard III’s remains. What about other items from his time? Of course, no fabric remains from his burial, but perhaps testing could clear up another mystery–the fate of the parliamentary robe he presented to Durham. It is supposed to have been ‘lost’ but there IS a blue, late medieval robe amidst the cathedral’s treasures. It doesn’t have the ‘lions’ on it that Richard’s was said to have, but that might be expected as the panels of donated robes were often used to fashion other garments, or draperies. What remains today could be a reconstituted, heavily changed item. Durham cathedral, however, says they think the robe is Italian…well, a modern test such as that performed on Oetzi’s garments could put the mystery to rest forever.
*An interesting connection between Richard and Oetzi the Iceman: they both share the same y-DNA, G2. This haplogroup was common in the earlier neolithic in Europe but lost ground in the chalcolithic/bronze age, when R1b became dominant. G2 reaches its highest frequencies in Sardinia and parts of France but can be found at very low levels throughout much of Europe. So, deep in time, Richard and Oetzi will share a common male ancestor.
As you can see from the article, the author (Tom Leonard) knows the answer to be in the negative because the Royal Marriages Act 1772 precludes the descendants of George II from marrying without the sovereign’s consent – that sovereign being George III at the time.
James Ord’s putative ancestor is another James Ord, born in 1786, whose parents were supposedly the future George IV and Mrs. Fitzherbert (nee’ Smythe), yet only daughters have traditionally been attributed to them:
Of course, there are more established aristocrats in the USA. The current Earl of Essex is a retired teacher and septagenarian bachelor whilst his heir presumptive is a retired grocery clerk:
For comparison, the only known male line descendants of George III are from Germany, as his son Ernst returned to become King of Hanover: