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Archive for the tag “John Caius”

The Human Shredder again

It seems that a denialists’ source has denied that the first “Tudor” had any documents destroyed, except for the 1484 Titulus Regius that documented Edward IV’s bigamy so conclusively, for which they were caught red-handed. With this exception, there “isn’t a ghostly trace” of destruction, so it seems.

On May 27, we clearly showed the audit trail of some destruction. It was recorded by John Caius, Norwich-born and after whom a Cambridge college was named, through Vergil’s 1844 publisher to Potter in 1983. Strangely enough, instead of being rebutted, this very particular allegation was totally ignored, probably on the grounds of inconvenience.

Of course, the shredding of documents from Richard III’s reign, whether by Vergil himself, by Robert Morton or by others, probably didn’t end with Henry VII’s death. Religious houses were dissolved wholesale towards the end of Henry VIII’s reign and they were renowned depositories of historic documents. This may not have been deliberate.

Until the 1930s, French accounts of Richard II’s deposition were regarded as unreliable but now the Dieulacres Chronicle is available and largely confirms them. Still the denialists rely on sources they must know to be unreliable. In this case of John Caius they have, as our learned friends have it, “failed to come up to proof”. Then again, it comes from the sort of people who insist that a yet-to-be-born Bishop witnessed “Perkin”‘s letter or that a long-dead Catherine de Valois addressed Parliament. Whether they are writing satire or intentional fiction, or both, we are not sure.

It really isn’t hard to blow a hole through their “argument” with a specific example. Richard III spent quite a reasonable part of his reign in Nottingham (his “castle of care”) , yet there is almost literally nothing in the city records about him. There must be many more cases of documents systematically destroyed in the half-century or so after his death.

By contrast, Mary I was bastardised by her father’s legislation and eventually succeded to the throne, partly by force, but only repealed the Act and didn’t actually destroy it.

Polydore Vergil’s destruction of evidence.

The claim that Polydore Vergil destroyed a large amount of evidence while compiling his history is often derided. Indeed, in certain circles it is the basis of running jokes – I rather think these people think it is an allegation invented by the Richard III Society, or perhaps by ‘romantic lady novelists.’

In Jeremy Potter’s book, Good King Richard? the source of this story is identified. ‘The most serious charge was made as early as 1574 by John Caius of Cambridge, who vouched for the fact – which he boldly claimed to be a matter of certain truth – that Polydore Vergil had committed to the flames as many ancient manuscripts as would have filled a wagon, in order that the faults in his history might not be discovered.’ (Good King Richard? p.101).

Who was John Caius? Born in Norwich in 1510, he was an eminent physician who served three English monarchs in that capacity. (Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.) He is considered a founder of Gonville and Caius College Cambridge, as he paid for the college to be extensively restored. He remained a Catholic all his life, but there is no evidence to show that he was either a member of the Richard III Society or a romantic lady novelist.

Although Potter does not footnote his source, from the context it appears that this information came via the Victorian editor of Vergil’s work, published in 1844.

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