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A free lecture and discussion on Richard III and Psychosis….!


Chapter 12 Wine Bar, Hailsham

Richard III and Psychosis? Well, I guess this must be Shakespeare’s Richard, because it can’t possibly be the real man!

“RICHARD III: A lecture and discussion with Dr Liam Clarke on Richard III and Psychosis at Chapter 12 Wine Bar, 12 High Street [Hailsham] between 2.30pm and 3.30pm on Tuesday. This is a free event.” On Tuesday, 18th September, I think.

Find out more at…/villag…/hailsham-1-8632635.



Did the Princes Survive?

A great review of Matthew Lewis’s new book: The Survival of the Princes in the Tower




Macbeth – Michael Fassbender’s flawed hero king.

Giaconda's Blog

macbeth 2

I’m always intrigued to see how a Shakespeare play will be approached, particularly when the constraints of the stage are removed and a director is given free rein to adapt and interpret through the medium of film.

I had read a few reviews of the 2015 version of Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender in the lead role and was keen to see it.

Macbeth is not a play that I am particularly familiar with, despite studying at school. I found it a hard slog at the time and have avoided going to see it live ever since. It has always felt too dark and morbid with unsympathetic characters, motivated by greed and ambition, so I wasn’t surprised with the moodily evocative filming and all the rain or the nod to ‘Game of Thrones’ which seems to influence so much tv drama at the moment. I was ready for gratuitous throat-slitting, if…

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Richard III and ‘King Power’!

Being totally uninterested in football, it’s not like me to wait on tenterhooks for a match result – but that’s what happened last week, and now I’m absolutely delighted that Leicester City have just become champions of the Premier League.

Five years ago, news that the football team of an obscure Midlands city had beaten the likes of Manchester United might have rated a few column inches outside the UK as a heart-warming ‘triumph of the underdog’ story. But today it’s splashed all over the international media, including the New York Times, and why? The answer is, rather bizarrely, ‘King Richard III.’ In the first place it’s because, thanks to the discovery and re-burial of his remains in the city centre, people all over the world know about Leicester and continue to be interested in what’s happening there; and in the second place because of the almost spooky about-face in the Foxes’ fortunes since they began playing under the ‘King Power’ banner (while, ironically, York City’s Minstermen languish at the bottom of the second league).

Divine proof that Richard III is a Leicester supporter? I wouldn’t go that far – Richard may well have shared his elder brother Edward’s conviction that football was a frivolous pastime which distracted young men from the far more important pursuit of practicing with the longbow. However, I can’t help thinking there is something in it – like morale. From being the footballing face of somewhere few people outside Britain or the international Ricardian community had ever heard of, the team was catapulted into the spotlight as representatives of a city made world-famous as the last resting place of England’s last warrior king – and by God, they’ve lived up to it. Positive psychology plays a big part in winning at sport, so perhaps naming their stadium ‘King Power’ and emblazoning the words, with a crown, on their shirts was inspired: a very visible way of dinning that sense of power and pride into the players, and supporters, every time they set foot on the field.

Of course, not everyone’s pleased; the usual suspects on social media are clucking and carping about exploitation and the horrible disrespect of hanging a Leicester City scarf round the neck of Richard’s statue beside the Cathedral. I find this sad, because it strikes me as quite the opposite: an affectionate, humorous gesture showing Richard being owned and embraced by the citizens, remembered, included and identified with their victory (and I think he looks very cute in the scarf) – just as people everywhere are reminded of him every time they see an image of the King Power Stadium or the Foxes wearing those shirts. To me, it’s wonderfully positive publicity for British sport and British medieval history, a welcome antidote to all the sadness and horror of the regular news. What’s not to like? Yes, long may Leicester City’s King Power last – go, Foxes!

What really motivated medieval minds?

Giaconda's Blog

Love, ambition, fame, self-interest, fear, religious conviction, physical desire for something or someone, patriotism, duty, compassion, self-sacrifice, revenge or bitter hatred.

Historians make a case for the various motivations of historical figures in order to try and understand these people themselves and then persuade their readership through their analysis as to why a particular figure acted in certain ways as borne out in the evidence of their deeds and the eye witness accounts of their contemporaries. These motivations tend to fall within a core range of basic drivers; well-known to psychologists and literary writers which most of us tend to believe control why humans do what they do.

Depending on which drivers you apply to the historical facts, a very divergent picture of the figure emerges and a very different set of emotional responses are engendered in the reader so these motivations are hugely important and often controversial in their application.

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Jung’s ‘archetypes’ and their function in medieval history.

Giaconda's Blog

jung Jungian archetypes

I’ve been interested in ‘archetypes’ for a long time as I am very drawn to myth and to aspects of Jungian psycho-analysis particularly with regard to how we analyse the personalities and character of historical figures.

Often ‘myth’ is classified as something unreal or untrue yet myths also contain the essence of experience and accumulated wisdom or truth carried down for generations and that is why they retain their power to fascinate us. Myth goes hand in hand with the concept of ancient models which are carried in our sub-conscious and applied to our analysis of characters.

‘The term “archetype” has its origins in ancient Greek. The root words are archein, which means “original or old”; and typos, which means “pattern, model or type”. The combined meaning is an “original pattern” of which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are derived, copied, modeled, or emulated.’

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A Psychopathic God, Richard III Was Not


“If all you see is what you’ve seen before,
you’re going to miss half of what’s going on.”

~Diana Bennett, “Beauty & the Beast”

I’m in the middle of reading a book called The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, written by Robert Waite. The publisher marketed the 1977 book as a psycho-historical examination of Hitler that explores the events of his life “by documenting accounts of his behavior, beliefs, tastes, fears and compulsions.”

I tend to devour books in only a few sittings, but that’s impossible with this one. The details are too dark, precise, and damning. It’s researched and referenced and reasoned to the nth degree, ad nauseum – which isn’t Waite’s fault. It’s Hitler’s.

“You want to know what a real monster looks like?” Waite seems to ask before taking his reader by the hand and pulling them into an unspeakable mental hell that’s incomprehensible to people who are mentally healthy, but was reassuring and comfy to the psychotic mind that was Hitler. So I read in fifteen-minute snatches because that’s all the darkness I can tolerate before needing to come back to the light.

The title of The Psychopathic God is taken from a passage in W. H. Auden’s poem, “September 1, 1939”. The date is generally acknowledged as the beginning of World War II, when Hitler’s tanks invaded Poland.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic God:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

What struck me as I read Auden is how the life of the most maligned king of England does not line up with Hitler’s life – or behavior – in any way, shape or form. Hitler’s boiling hatred and fear helped him destroy the lives of millions. In carrying out his insane plans, he came very close to ruling Europe. Waite outlines how evil was done to young Adolf, and how he responded to it by projecting his fears and torments outward, onto other people.

Evil was also done to Richard III during his youth — his father and older brother were murdered by the “enemy”, among other things — and yet he did not embrace hatred or fear as the foundation of his life. One of the reasons Richard failed by medieval standards (and perhaps by modern standards) of “kill or be killed” was because he did not return evil for evil as did Hitler. Again and again, Richard forgave his enemies – a behavior that can easily be traced to the teachings of his religion. Ironically enough, Hitler shared Richard’s Catholicism, but Adolf wasn’t able to forgive even his Wolfshund. Writes Waite:

“One of the women with whom Hitler had intimate relations during 1926, Maria (or Mimi) Reiter, recalls that she saw him turn savagely on his own dog:

‘He whipped his dog like a madman [Irrsinniger] with his riding whip as he held him tight on the leash. He became tremendously excited…I could not have believed that this man would best an animal so ruthlessly — an animal about which he had said a moment previously that he could not live without. But now he whipped his most faithful companion.’

“When Mimi asked him how he could possibly be so brutal, Hitler replied grimly, “That was necessary.”[1]

Hitler abused dogs (and human beings) and was terrified of horses, yet he revered stallions in symbol and sculpture. You can beat a dog and not have it try to kill you: such is not the case with a stallion.

I challenge anyone who still clings to the myth that Richard was an evil tyrant, a child-murdering dictator, to read The Psychopathic God alongside Paul Murray Kendall’s Richard the Third – or even alongside a less supportive biography on Richard, if you like.

Keep a pad of paper at your side as you read. Make two columns. In one, keep a running tally of the terrible things Richard did, or was said to have done. In the other, keep a running tally of the terrible things Hitler did — or any other dictator, if you like.

If you take up this challenge, your perspective on what makes a bloody tyrant – and what a tyrant does – just might change.


[1] Waite, Robert. The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, Basic Books, Inc., New York, NY, 1977. Page 192.

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