A digital reconstruction of Richard’s tomb in Greyfriars with the epitaph. De Montfort University.
A digital reconstruction of what Richard’s Tomb may have looked like with the epitaph De Montfort University
The tomb for which Henry Tudor paid the sum of 10 pounds 1 shilling in 1495
A digital view of Greyfriars with Leicester Cathedral shown in the background and now the site of King Richard’s reburial. De Montfort University.
It is very well known that the winner gets to write the history. That’s bad enough but they also, unfortunately, get to write the epitaph too. According to Buck, Richard had an epitaph which is now lost but the text of which he published in his History of the Life and Reigne of Richard the Third, published in 1647. The full details of Buck’s claim etc., can be found in John Ashdown-Hill’s article The Epitaph of King Richard III (Ricardian 2008, vol.18). According to Buck the said epitaph, which was in Latin, translated as:
I, here whom the earth encloses under various coloured marble,
Was justly called Richard III.
I was Protector of my country, an uncle ruling on behalf of his nephew.
I held the British kingdoms by broken faith,
Then for just sixty days less two
And for two summers, I held my sceptres
Fighting Bravely in war, deserted by the English
I succumbed to you, King Henry VII,
But you yourself, piously, at your expense, thus honour my bones
And you cause a former king to be revered with the honour of a king
When in twice five years less four
Three hundred five-year periods of our salvation have passed
And eleven days before the Kalends of September
I surrendered to the red rose the power it desired
Whoever you are, pray for my offences
That my punishment may be lessened by your prayers.
I leave it to you dear reader, to decide whether this is true and honest translation of such an epitaph if there ever one existed. It seems, as John Ashdown-Hill concludes in his article ‘less hostile’ than would have expected from Henry Tudor – had he merely ‘mellowed as time passed’ or did he have another motive? Its a mystery as is so much from that period. For anyone interested in reading Ashdown-Hill’s article in full, here is a link: