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1968 accuracy about Richard’s resting place….

Here is an extract that I found interesting. It’s from a 1968 booklet titled Discovering London 3: Medieval London, by Kenneth Derwent, published by Macdonald, and while it doesn’t condemn Richard, a previous paragraph states that the disappearance of Edward V and his brother “were disposed of” and that “the circumstantial evidence points most strongly to the Duke of Gloucester”. Well, I have a huge quibble about that!

Anyway, to the extract:-

“RICHARD III. Brother of Edward IV and uncle of Edward V. Ruled from 1483 to 1485.

“After his brother’s death, the Duke of Gloucester stated that Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville had not been legal, since the king had been previously betrothed to a Lady Eleanor Talbot. In those days betrothal was as binding as marriage, and if this were so Edward’s subsequent marriage would be invalid and the children of it illegitimate. On these grounds Parliament offered the crown to Richard of Gloucester who, after modestly declining for a while, accepted it.

“In 1485 Richard III, as he was known, was defeated and killed at the Battle of Bosworth, near Leicester, by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, who claimed the crown by reason of a distant descent from John of Gaunt.

“Richard was buried at Greyfriars, near Leicester, but no trace of his grave remains.”

Well, I have some more quibbles, of course. The word “modestly” implies falsity, when I think Richard really did hesitate about accepting the crown. Or am I being unduly picky? And, of course, Henry Tudor was NOT the Earl of Richmond.

But my main reason for posting this extract is that in 1968 Kenneth Derwent was right about where Richard had been laid to rest!

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Scoliosis treatments at the time of Richard III

After centuries of slanders about Richard III, always named as “the hunchbacked king”, it was finally proved that he just suffered from scoliosis.

He was not born with this condition but he probably started to suffer with it in his adolescence between 10 and 15. This is the so-called idiopathic scoliosis that can be, in some cases, very painful and in very rare cases can even be fatal.

This kind of scoliosis can’t be prevented, as the cause is unknown but the culprit could be the growth hormone or a genetic predisposition. This condition can be mild or severe. In the latter, it can affect the appearance of the person and obviously can create embarrassment, low self-esteem and sometimes depression in addition to physical distress, headache, a very thin shape, stomach problems and lung dysfunction.

Severe scoliosis is visible if the person wears tight clothes and, if it doesn’t stop developing, it can cause excruciating pain due to nerve pressure. However, people affected by scoliosis have a normal life and can practice sports, do exercise and every normal, daily activity.

Richard III is probably the most famous person affected by idiopathic scoliosis, along with Princess Eugenie of York, the runner Usain Bolt, the actress Liz Taylor, the singers Kurt Cobain and Liza Minnelli, the tennis star, James Blake, among others.

Today, it is easy to treat this condition thanks to braces and, in the worst cases, with surgery but, unfortunately, these treatments were not available at the time of Richard III and medieval remedies were almost useless, very painful and often they even worsened the situation.

For people affected by mild scoliosis, there were some massage techniques used in Turkish baths along with the application of ointments made with herbs and plants. In other cases, these massages were made in preparation for another treatment. One of the most common ‘remedies’ was traction. The equipment for this treatment was very expensive, so only rich people and the nobility could afford it. As Richard was a member of one of the wealthiest families in England and a noble as well, it is highly probable that he would have gone through traction. The instrument used for this purpose was similar to the ‘rack’ used to torture people. The patient was lying on his back and tied by armpits and calves by a rope to a wooden roller and literally pulled to stretch the spine. The treatment could last for hours and it is not difficult to imagine how horribly painful it was and, unfortunately, it was of no benefit.

Richard’s family would have had the best physicians of the time and these should have been aware of this treatment so it is likely that, unfortunately, he had to undergo traction. It is difficult to imagine that Richard’s family wouldn’t have tried to cure his spine, being such highly-ranked people.

However, scoliosis was not just a physical issue. A person affected by scoliosis was seen as the incarnation of evil and a sinner, while a straight spine represented morality, goodness and beauty. The Shakespearean character of Richard III was associated with wickedness and immorality because of his physical deformity, sharpened to the maximum to create an unscrupulous monster capable of any crime.

Richard managed to hide his condition for his whole life because he very well knew this could have been a reason for being painted as a bad person, twisted in his body and, therefore, also in his mind.

After his death at Bosworth, he was stripped naked and his secret revealed. Shakespeare exaggerated his condition in order to misrepresent Richard and to blame him for every possible crime. His scoliosis became a hunchback with the addition of a withered arm and a limp.

With the discovery of his skeleton under the car park in Leicester, it appeared very clear that Richard had just a scoliosis and the evil hunchbacked king created by Shakespeare was just Tudor propaganda, that made Richard the most maligned king in English history. This discovery helped to reveal Richard in a new light and called into question all the atrocities he has been accused of. There are many reasons to believe that the truth will eventually come to light.

Do you want to know a very strange coincidence? In Ipswich, where the sales office of the Richard III Society is located, there is a surgeon, expert in spinal surgery: his name is Robert Lovell (top)!

Try, try and try again – and unearth a Richard III full gold angel….!

 

It just goes to show that giving something “one last try” can sometimes pay off handsomely. A detectorist who persevered discovered a Richard III full gold angel. Damaged, maybe, but still the real thing! And very rare. Well done Mark Porter.

Read more at here

History Book Part One

The Legendary Ten Seconds have a new album out. The tracks go back chronologically to Arthurian times, before including two about the Battle of Hastings – or of Battle to be precise. The last six cover Richard III’s adult life and reign, from the seemingly effortless taking of Edinburgh to the Harrington dispute and the subsequent Stanley treachery at Bosworth.

Here is a recording of their performance at Coldridge, with reference to the stained glass window there.

The butterfly that is Nottingham Castle….?

We all know of Nottingham Castle, perched high on its rocky hill overlooking the city. It was the lair of the wicked Sheriff, and has legendary connections with Robin Hood. It also has amazing caves through which Mortimer escaped, and that “It was from Nottingham Castle that news was announced to the people of England that second half of the reign of Edward IV had begun”. It was also where Richard III and Anne heard the tragic news of their son’s death, and where the widowed Richard stationed himself while awaiting Henry Tudor’s invasion.

The original castle’s actual appearance is not known, but it is believed to have looked like the illustration above, and perhaps more accurately like this:-

The castle as it was known to these great historical figures has disappeared, of course, and became instead:-

Then this incarnation was burned down in riots in 1831:-

The castle was rebuilt, but is now to be “renovated” again, although I do not know how much of its appearance will change. If anything. At the moment it is covered in scaffolding and hidden behind plastic sheets.

What will emerge from this cocoon? The suspense is awful, but we must wait until 2020 to see the eventual butterfly. I haven’t been able to find any satisfactory illustrations of the glamorous new wings that will unfold.

To read more, go to:
https://nottinghamhiddenhistoryteam.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/nottinghamshires-part-in-richard-iiis-story/ and
https://www.nottinghamcastle.org.uk/ and
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-24725569

“The Secret Garden” with a connection to Richard III….

 

Well, the link below is about the 450-acre Duncombe Park estate and house, which has provided the backdrop for the latest film version of The Secret Garden. The interest for Ricardians can be found in the following extract:-

“….This impressive medieval fortress was built in stone in the 13th century and has passed through the hands of several noble families – it was once owned by King Richard III.….”

To read more, go to this page.

Wander the streets of London in 1520….

Finding the original town plans of London, before the Great Fire of 1666, is always intriguing, and very rewarding indeed for those of us who love all things medieval. So, in this respect, I welcome the Tudors. I already have books of London maps, published by the London Topographical Society, of our capital in the Elizabethan, Georgian and Regency periods, and very detailed and rewarding they are.

But now I find that the British Historic Towns Atlas, in association with the London Topographical Society, publishes foldable maps, in the same form as Ordnance Survey Landranger maps, and so on. Intrigued, I purchased the Tudor map of London, which reveals the city in about 1520, which is much closer in time to the reigns of Richard III and Henry VII. It is a very beautiful thing, and led me to browse the streets just for the sake of it.

If you go to their website you will find their range of maps, but most, if not all, are later than Tudor. Mostly 19th century, in fact, as York, which dates from 1850. Bristol is a series of detailed chronicological articles available on line. You will have to delve through the website in the hope of finding what you want.

But the 1520 map of “Tudor” London is excellent. I recommend it.

A narrow escape from Richard III….

Cothele

Ambling around the internet, I came upon the following. This passage is from The Sporting Review, ed. by ‘Craven’, edited by John William Carleton and contains a delightful description of what it was like for early tourists to sail down the River Tamar and visit the sights along the way. I have taken this particular passage because of the anecdote/legend that appears at the end, concerning Sir Richard Edgecumbe/Edgcumbe.

“. . . .The Tamar now becomes most interesting, winding along like a gigantic snake, every turn bringing some picturesque village or ancient mansion in sight; the lofty hills on either side covered with foliage, amidst which we saw the gothic pinnacles of Pentillie Castle. Every minute brings some fresh object of beauty, until we reach the noble woods of Cothele: here we landed at the Lime-kilns, and soon found a shaky nook, where we partook of our luncheon; then with renewed strength we set off on foot for Cothele House.

“Its embattled walls and massive arched doorways give it the appearance of a feudal castle. It was built by Sir Richard Edgcumbe in the early part of the reign of Henry Vii. The Earl of Mount Edgecumbe, to whom it now belongs, most kindly allows visitors to see the interior, with its antique furniture that has remained untouched for centuries.

“We entered under a massive arched-doorway, and found ourselves in a large court surrounded by buildings; from this we passed into the hall, where we felt as if we had left these modern times, and been carried back to the days of feudalism. The walls are hung with every kind of ancient arms—coats of mail, shields, helmets, gauntlets, arquebuses, bows and arrows, spears, swords, etc. At the upper end of the hall is the figure of a warrior armed cap-à-pie.

“We next visited the dining-room, hung with tapestry. Well could we picture the good old hospitality of those bygone times, when the table groaned beneath barons of beef and haunches of venison, and in the huge open hearth blazed piles of wood, while tankards of Burgundy and loyal toasts passed around. Alas! For these degenerate days of dinners à la Russe, and thin French wines, which cool instead of warm the heart of man.

“The chapel inspected, we ascended the broad oak staircase, which polished floor rendered the ascent rather perilous; on the walls were portraits of many of the ancestors of the Edgecumbes, but time has nearly obliterated their features. We were shown the room where Charles II. Passed several nights. Nearly all the rooms are hung with tapestry.

“After spending some time in visiting all the nooks and corners of this interesting olf house, we bid it adieu, and passed down an avenue of chestnuts to the river’s bank, where stands a gothic chapel almost concealed in the thick woods by which it is surrounded; it was built by Sir Richard Edgecumbe, who was comptroller of the household of Henry VII. There is an inscription on the walls from Carew’s Survey, which explains the reason for its erection.

Cothele - Sir Richard Edgecumbe's Chapel

Sir Richard Edgecumbe’s chapel in the woods at Cothele.

“ ‘Sir Richard Edgcumbe was driven to hide himself in those thick woods which overlook the river, at that time being suspected of favouring the Earl of Richmond’s party against King Richard III. He was hotly pursued and narrowly searched for, which extremity taught him a sudden policy—to put a stone in his cap and tumble same into the water, while these rangers were fast on his heels; who looking down after the noise, and seeing his cap swimming thereon, supposed that he had desperately drowned himself, gave over their further hunting, and left him liberty to shift away and ship over into Brittaine, for a grateful remembrance of which delivery he afterwards builded in the place of his lurking a chapel.’ ”

Tomb of Sir Richard Edgecumbe, d. 1489 - Morlaix

Tomb of Sir Richard Edgecombe, died 1489 – Morlaix

Does this later case explain Henry Pole the Younger’s fate?

In the years from 1518, before he left England again in 1536, Reginald Pole occupied a number of ecclesiastical ranks, including that of Dean of Exeter. During the early 1530s, just as Henry VIII sought his first annulment, Eustace Chapuys was pressing Reginald to marry Princess Mary, the cousin he eventually served from Lambeth Palace. By the end of 1536, Reginald was created a Cardinal and was under holy orders, whether he had been earlier or not. The plot that he, together with his brothers Henry Lord Montagu and Sir Geoffrey, is supposed to have launched against Henry VIII needed a credible marital candidate or two for Mary. This, as we have pointed out before, meant Henry Pole the Younger, Montagu’s son, and Edward Courtenay, son of the Marquis of Exeter. Either or both of these teenage boys could have been viewed, by Henry VIII, as threats so both were consigned to the Tower. Pole was never seen after 1542, whilst Courtenay was only released in 1553.

Reginald Pole, as a Cardinal, was bound by clerical celibacy but could this be reversed? Not if this later case is anything to go by, although Phillip II, Mary’s eventual husband and Catherine of Aragon’s great-nephew, had a hand in it: Sebastian, the young King of Portugal died without issue at the 1578 battle of Alcacer Quibir and only his great-uncle Henry, Manuel of Beja’s son, remained from the legitimate House of Aviz, that almost provided spouses for Richard III and Elizabeth of York in the previous century. Henry, however was a Cardinal and Gregory XIII, at Phillip’s behest, would not release him from his vows. Henry ruled alone for nearly a year and a half before dying on his 68th birthday. The strongest claimant to succeed him was … Phillip II, who ruled Portugal, followed by his son and grandson, for a total of sixty years, although Antonio, a Prior and Sebastian’s illegitimate cousin, tried to reign.

This explains the various claimants, including the House of Braganza, which supplied Charles II‘s wife.

May something wonderful be discovered at the Scarborough Castle dig….!

“….English Civil War musket balls, Roman pottery and items from the 2nd Century AD are among objects unearthed during a rare dig at a Yorkshire landmark. [Scarborough Castle]

“….Teams discovered the find during a six-week operation on land at Scarborough Castle, which was twice besieged in the 17th Century civil war.

“….The last major excavations on this section of the site took place almost a century ago….”

With all the amazing detectorist discoveries in recent years, let’s hope that something really amazing turns up at the Scarborough Castle dig.

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