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Signs of the Times (4)

To conclude our series on royal graphology:

1.William Hastings

First of all you can see that this is quite a flowing signature with a lot of nice curves, not many ‘angry’ sharp top angles to the letters. This shows he was generally an affable, non-violent person, at least while he was writing this. His middle zone seems the most dominant – as many of these signatures have been – showing his concern with material things, prestige, self-importance and living in the moment.

Hastings sigLooking at the lower zone, he has quite an elaborate curl on the ‘g’, with the curl turning back to the left, in contrast to the ‘y’ which curls to the right. This suggests he might have ‘swung both ways’ when it came to sexual partners, which is possible considering his reputation for debauchery at the time. Note the phallic symbol in the ‘h’, indicating inability to keep within the sexual norms of his society.

In general the signature is legible with a slant to the right, indicating sociability.

His upper zone is pretty small, showing he wasn’t concerned with intellectual matters , nor was he a dreamer.

The end downward stroke, which doesn’t seem to represent any particular letter, suggests a dagger to me, perhaps the cause of his downfall.

  1. Anne Neville

I was quite surprised that Anne’s signature is not particularly legible (although not as illegible as Margaret Beaufort’s for instance), but perhaps it’s not surprising that she might feel the need to hide herself away, after some of the experiences she had (married young, widowed, hidden away by George, etc). She would not have revealed her true feelings easily. It seems to me her first name is easier to read than the surname (which I think is Warwick rather than Neville, though I could be wrong) and I take this to mean that she reveals more to those who know her better and more familiarly, as many people do.

She has a normal lower zone, showing a balanced and healthy sex life.

Anne and Richard sigHowever can you see the similarities between hers and Richard’s signature, that suggest to me they were compatible and on the same wavelength?. They both have balanced zones – pretty equal in size – showing well-balanced personalities.

They also both have upright letters, which show a need for control and particularly self-control. They are of similar size, his slightly larger, which would not be surprising considering that men were dominant in those times. It shows that he considered her to be more or less his equal and reveals his respect for her. Compare the signatures of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York where his dwarfs hers. Who do you think was the dominant personality here?

Henry and Eliz sigs3. Anthony Woodville

Well, this is a mess! As most of it is in upper case letters, it is hard to judge the zones so well, but can you see he has extended the vertical stroke of the ‘l’s so they are higher than the rest. He was meant to be an intellectual and well-read man, but his writing suggests to me that he wanted to be perceived as such more than actually being so, because the ‘l’s should not be taller and are therefore forced. But I could be judging him a bit harshly. His signature is not as clear as Richard’s or Clarence’s or Hastings’, but is decipherable more than Margaret Beaufort’s. There are no lower zone letters, but the upper and middle zones are more or less equal in his signature, so I think he was more intelligent than his sister, Elizabeth.

Rivers sig Rivers sig 2

There are no communication letters here but the ‘v’ and ‘s’ on the end are closed (when they needn’t be) suggesting a secretive nature.

The first example, with motto, looks very controlled to me and as I believe it was written when he was awaiting execution, it is understandable that he would be desperately trying to hold onto his emotions. The upper case letters support this conclusion.

The right hand signature is all over the place as regards slant, showing an unpredictable and mercurial personality.

He underlines the left hand one in a flamboyant way which suggests he wants attention – perhaps he doesn’t like to think of himself being forgotten after his death. The ‘x’s in the underline show his preoccupation with his demise.

  1. Thomas Grey

This is the signature of the son of Elizabeth. The zones are quite well balanced and the letters are upright, showing strong control over his emotions. The communication letter ‘o’ is open at the top, suggesting he was a big talker and couldn’t keep a confidence.

Thoams Grey sig

The letter ‘s’ (or ‘f’ as it appears) spans all three zones, but the upper zone is broken – perhaps he had a headache or an injury, but the signature as a whole is messy, suggesting he was also untidy. The ‘t’s are crossed very firmly and the cross stroke extends far to the right, showing ambition.

5. Edward V

This is the signature of Edward which appears alongside those of Richard and Buckingham. It is spidery and childlike, although legible. There is no curl in his lower zone which is perfectly to be expected as he was only 12 at the time.

The writing looks a bit shaky, suggesting he was nervous (understandable given the circumstances) or possibly unwell. The downward-pointing  cross stroke of the ‘t’ in quintus could show a control freak, but I think it also suggests a depressed or pessimistic nature, but that could be because his father had just died.

Ed V sigIt is interesting that the tops of the letters are more rounded than the lower edges. I don’t know what this means for sure but my intuition suggests he would have appeared softer and more easygoing on the surface than he was underneath – a hidden ruthless side. This is reinforced by the open bottomed ‘a’, which shows he could verbally argue his case – eat you up and spit you out – and wasn’t above using deception to achieve this. And see the dot of the ‘i’ which is more of a dash or a slashing stroke. This shows frustration and irritability.

  1. Henry VI

Henry VI was a weak king, as we know. We can see in his signature that there is a softness to his nature and that the very large upper zone shows he was intelligent but can also mean a dreamer or someone who has his head in the clouds. He had his head in heaven!

Henry VI sigThe upper and lower zones are roughly equal, showing he had a normal attitude to sex, perhaps surprisingly. However, his middle zone is the smallest which indicates he wasn’t concerned with everyday life, material possessions or his appearance.

It is upright, showing that he had strong control over his emotions and he was not at all deceptive.

Unfortunately it is the only sample I could find, and there isn’t really much else to glean from it.

  1. John Howard, Duke of Norfolk

‘Jocky’ of Norfolk, well, it looks first of all as if it is sloping slightly upwards, suggesting optimism and an upbeat nature. The slant varies, showing a changeable character.

The middle zone is most prominent, indicating the need for outward trappings of success, material possessions, as in many of the other hands I have looked at.

Norfolk sigLook at the wide open ‘o’s, especially the first! I wouldn’t trust him with a secret, I would think he could be indiscreet and a big talker.

There are a combination of rounded and sharp strokes showing he could be kind and thoughtful, but also hard and stern when needed.

I wouldn’t think he was particularly intellectual, nor was he very sensual, but that could have been his age – I don’t know how old he was when this was written.

There are a few resentment strokes on the beginning of the ‘n’ and ‘r’, which might refer to his resentment at having to wait for his rightful title of the Dukedom of Norfolk under Edward. Obviously he has it here as that’s the name he signs. His signature is neither very obscure nor very clear, suggesting he could dissemble if required.

I get the impression of a person who was quite modest in himself, shown by the small initial ‘j’ and ‘n’ of Norfolk.

  1. John de Vere, Earl of Oxford

Here is a signature from the Earl of Oxford, the nemesis of the Yorks, out to get revenge for the death of his father.

It is absolutely clear and easy to read, and seems to have been done with control and care. And look at the sweet little flower – but what is that loopy thing below it? Could it be a phallic symbol? This shows the willingness or need to break social taboos. Possibly gay? It would have been a big taboo in those days.

The zones are even, showing a well-balanced personality, which is quite surprising considering his reputation. However it could be seen as too perfect, which can show deception – a person disguising their natural way of writing and wanting to appear perfect.

Oxford sig

It is quite rounded and flowing and quite upright. This means he was sociable and unwarlike for the times – I think he was pushed into the whole war thing and he would have preferred a peaceful life. But the heavy line of the ‘f’ look like a dagger, so he could have been violent when needed. The lines through the ‘O’ , obliterating the clarity of the ‘O’ could show a forked-tongued liar – notice the extra little line in the second ‘o’ too.

9.Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey

Well this is a flamboyant signature! This is Jocky Howard’s son, Surrey.

Surrey sigIt is large and suggests the writer wants to be noticed, likes attention. The middle zone is huge, showing a preoccupation with himself and his immediate needs, outward show and possessions. The signature as a whole is huge, compared to the writing above. In fact when you look at the writing, the upper zone is more emphasised, showing he was quite intelligent, but didn’t show it to everyone, perhaps wanting to fit in with the court life where show and prestige was everything. I think this shows the writer felt inferior and is putting on a show of confidence – the whole thing screams over-compensation.

There are resentment strokes and angularity suggesting frustration and a temper.

Look at the lower zone – either this is another sign that the Earl of Surrey is overcompensating or he is gay – the tail of the ‘y’ goes way over to the left, suggesting the latter, as does the little flower sign.

Not sure what those unnecessary two dots are between the ‘T’ and ‘h’ but it could be another cry for attention.

  1. James Tyrell

I really like this signature. Tyrell was one of Richard’s men who was rewarded by him for unknown services and who was tortured and executed by Henry VII. Here the signature suggests a very optimistic and positive person – very sociable. See how the writing slants to the right and slopes up? Also there is not much space between the two names, suggesting he liked to be in the company of others.

.Tyrell sig

The signature is well balanced and has equal sized zones. It is also fairly clear and easy to read, showing a lack of dissimulation. However, the ‘a’ shows he could keep a secret when needed and the line through the two ‘l’s at the end look like eyes to me. Was he one of Richard’s spies?

Now, I have been thinking about the proliferation of phallic symbols in many of these signatures and the conclusion I have come to is that they were probably not overly perverted or sex mad (with a few notable exceptions!), but that they may have felt guilty about their sexual feelings because of the strict doctrines of the church in regard to these matters. So crossing the boundaries of the sexual norm of the times, might only have been ogling women, visiting prostitutes or an affair or two. I’ll leave that to you to decide.

  1. Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick

Finally, let us look at Richard Neville’s signature. The first thing I notice is that it is hard to read and slopes uphill more than any of the others. I think he was the eternal optimist and supremely confident in himself that things would work out for him.

Warwick sigIt is a firm and confident signature and this mirrors the man himself. He was certainly capable of deception as he pretended to be supporting Edward and was actually plotting against him – we can tell this because his writing is also deceptive with it being difficult to decipher. And his closed ‘a’ shows he can keep his mouth closed.

The varied slant of the letters shows another volatile, changeable character and the hard down strokes reveal he had a bad temper at times.

See the definite resentment stroke on the ‘R’ – he was certainly experiencing resentment here.

There is the ubiquitous phallic symbol, and we know he did have an illegitimate daughter. However do you see the break in the loop of the ‘y’ and also in the loop in the little logo thingy at the end? This shows there was a trauma of some kind, either physical or emotional regarding his sexual organs, sex life or lower body. We do not know if this was the case, but we do know that Warwick had no sons, so he may have felt subconsciously that he was inadequate in some way because of this. Both sexes can have this – for example a woman can show this sign if she has had a hysterectomy or has lost a lover. (In fact Henry VII has breaks in his lower loops as well).

I think, like Edward, he was also a ‘boob’ man – the rounded part of the underline and the shape of the letters above it suggest that.

What about the little end doodle? Well, it might be a device or coat f arms badge, or perhaps it is the crown that wasn’t his but that he bestowed on two kings, as Kingmaker. 😉

  1. Francis Lovell

Richard’s best friend – I found this after I had posted the draft so I had to include him!

Well, the zones are of equal height, which shows he was a well-balanced guy emotionally. He has a legible, clear signature – no deception there, and his communication letters, ‘a’ and ‘o’ are also clear, well-formed and closed normally, meaning he was a good communicator and could be trusted to keep a confidence.

Lovell sigYou can see there is a mixture of angular letters and rounded ones, showing he could have a tough side as well as a softer one. There are some heavy downward strokes on the first letters ‘ff’ which shows he could have a temper at times.

The slant is just slightly to the right, which indicates he was fairly sociable, and likewise the two names are close together, suggesting he enjoyed the company of others.

I’m not sure what the final letter/squiggle is nor the extra thing in the middle joining the ‘s’. These extra unnecessary bits might mean he was a bit obsessive compulsive. I would think that both he and Richard were tidy and neat, so this might have spilled over into OCD.

These analyses are, as I said before, just for fun and of course I am a little biased, I have to confess. Also, most of my subjects here are confined to just one signature, which is limiting and cannot be relied upon to be as accurate as if there were more samples.

However, on the whole, do you notice how much more well-balanced, rounded and ‘normal’ Richard’s and his friends’ signatures were, in comparison to most of the others?


Signs of the Times (3)

Here is the next instalment of my handwriting series! Here I will examine a few more of the main protagonists of the Wars of the Roses and you can leave any comments or suggestions as you will.

First of all, let us consider that ‘most untrue creature living’, Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Here are a couple of examples of his signature, the second one being the one he signed along with Richard and Edward V and which includes his motto.

Buckingham sig                                Buckingham sig

So first of all, what does his motto say? If you know it, you might be able to make it out but, if you don’t, have a look and see if you can decipher it. No? Me neither. It is actually ‘Souvente me Souvene’, which means ‘Remember me often’; I guess he lived up to that – he is not forgotten is he? But back to his handwriting. His motto is almost impossible to make out and this indicates a deceptive nature. He does not reveal his thoughts and he keeps things hidden from view, disguised. His actual signature is more readable, but some of the letters are still obscure (the ‘i’s, ‘n’s, ‘m’s, etc), so I think the deceptive finding still stands. Compare Richard’s done at the same time (clear and legible):

RIII sig

Do you see the phallic symbol in the ‘s’ of ‘souvene’? Phallic symbols show that the person doesn’t keep to their society’s accepted sexual boundaries. The end of his signature could also be a phallic symbol. So what could that mean? Well there are some who wonder whether he might have been gay and in those days that would certainly be overstepping the normal boundaries, so that is a possibility. Keeping to this theme, look at his lower zone. The ‘g’ should be the only letter that enters this zone, but in fact it does not go very far below the level of the middle zone. However there are other letters whose loops enter the lower zone: ‘k’, ‘h’ and the end loop (I am unclear what letter this is meant to represent). There is also a large loop at the start of the second signature’s underline. Do you notice that they curl both ways? Maybe Buckingham was bisexual.

His signature seems to be over-elaborate with all the little extra squiggles and crosses. These extra little unnecessary marks can sometimes show the subject has obsessive compulsive disorder. We know he seemed to be something of a peacock and obsessed with his appearance.

It is interesting that his first name is smaller and has a lower case initial compared to the elaborate ‘surname’. Well actually it wasn’t so much a surname as a title – it represented the Dukedom that was his and I think this suggests the importance with which he viewed the title he had. It was more important than his personal name; prestige and nobility was everything to him. The first example doesn’t even have a first name there at all – his Dukedom WAS his identity.

I have mentioned the significance of ‘x’s in the signature before, but usually this is unconscious – he has deliberately put ‘x’s in. I don’t know whether ‘x’s were used to mean kisses, the way we do now – perhaps someone knows and can enlighten me. But why would he put kisses in his signature in those circumstances?

Finally, look at the section of signature delineated by the ‘x’s – right in the middle of it is the word ‘king’! Yes, I know that’s his name, but anyway…! And what is that little squiggle over the ‘m’ – could it unconsciously be a crown? I’ll leave you to decide.

Now let us move on to someone else whom we will never forget:


Beaufort sig

What? You can’t make it out? It’s the signature of Margaret Beaufort, after her son had usurped Richard’s throne. How deceptive do you think SHE was?!

Like Elizabeth Woodville’s, her middle zone is emphasised, but I am surprised that her high zone is not more prominent. Maybe she wasn’t as clever as we thought. She was definitely concerned with prestige, show and material possessions though. Also, note that she has added the ‘R’ for Regina after her name – I think she was investing her own ambitions in her son.

Her lower zone is surprisingly large as well, suggesting she was perhaps more sensual than might be expected. Well, she was married multiple times!

Notice how heavy and angular her signature is as well. It shows anger and violent emotions. Those lower zone ‘tails’ are sharp, like knives, and is it my lurid imagination or does the last lower ‘tail’ look like dripping blood!? Whatever, I definitely wouldn’t want to be on her bad side!

Her communication letters are open at the bottom, and distorted. The latter means she cannot be trusted and the former that she is the kind of person who would eat you up and spit you out, communicating in such a distorted and deceptive way, that you cannot believe anything she says.

She has one trait similar to Richard – they both have upright writing which means they like to be in charge and exert rigid self-control over their own emotions.

Finally can you see something in the middle that looks like a pitchfork? My book states that this sign denotes a devil’s fork, meaning a subject who feels plagued with demonic compulsions! Though she might have said they came from God.

For our third subject, let us look at her son, Henry VII. Here are a few samples of his signature:

Henry VII sig

Henry VII sig

Henry VII sig

Will of Henry VII

Well, to start with we are unable to see how he communicated as there are no communication letters in his signature (‘o’s and ‘a’s), however we can see that his signature was large and usually bold. It was considerably larger than his wife’s Elizabeth of York, which means he felt superior to her. (Check your birthday and Christmas cards: if your name is written smaller than the sender’s they feel you are inferior to them and if yours is larger, they are self effacing. Equal is best!).  On the other hand, his signature is so large he could be overcompensating for feelings of inadequacy.

His middle zone is, like his mother’s, emphasised. This shows a preoccupation with material possessions and a focus on the self and his own needs and desires.

The signature is mainly angular but there are more rounded letters than in his mother’s – I think he might have had a softer side which he kept hidden, but he was certainly capable of violent outbursts of temper. My eyes keep getting drawn back to the extra long, loopy ‘y’ tail. It suggests a noose or a fishing line hooking you in, but that’s just my intuitive impression.

I notice that the ‘Rex’ part of the signature is much less clear and smaller, perhaps because he felt inadequate in the role of king.

Notice the lower zone is very prominent and elaborate in the first example – perhaps this was when he was a younger man and his libido was to the fore and his sex drive high. The last signature is from his will, so he would have been older and his libido less. It is a shortened version, but to me looks more confident than the others, perhaps surprisingly as he might have written it while he was ill. But I think by this time he had grown into the role of king.

I also think the little twiddly bit on the end, that looks like a ‘6’ is a sign of OCD, and as it looks like a number (there is also an ‘8’-like shape in the tail of the ‘y’), it shows he was concerned with numbers – his accounts?

Again his signature is upright, showing a need for control. Overall, I get the feeling he could have been much nicer if his life had been more ‘normal’.

What about Henry’s wife, Elizabeth of York?  Here is her signature:

Eliz of York sig

The first thing I notice is that there is a mixture of directions of slant.  This would suggest moodiness, with periods of sociability alternating with times of aloofness.

Like her mother’s, the middle zone is emphasised showing a preoccupation with material things and her own needs.

The one communication letter shows an ability to keep a secret and clear communication, which is reinforced by the fact that it is legible and not so disguised as some of the others.

It seems to be slightly sloping uphill which shows an optimistic and positive attitude – perhaps she was happy to be a queen.

The lower zone is not very elongated or prominent (especially the ‘q’) suggesting a less than average interest in sex.

The downward strokes are darker than the others, suggesting a temper or feelings of anger.

See the ‘ye’ – it resembles a candle flame to me which shows Elizabeth could feel strong fiery passions but they could go out easily too – so she could blow hot and cold.

There are broken lines in some of the letters which suggest she might have been under stress at the time.

The first three letters look more like ‘Fly’ than ‘Ely’ to me – is that what’s she’s thinking unconsciously?

And finally,  the ‘b’ and ‘e’ side by side look like a cat’s eyes – i would guess cats were her favourite animal.



I would be happy to hear what your thoughts are on these interesting signatures. And look out for the next, final installment, where I will consider some more of Richard’s friends and enemies.

Signs of the Times (2)

As a follow-up from my previous post about Richard’s handwriting, I thought I might consider the writing of a few others of his time period. Please bear in mind again, that this is just for fun and I am not a professional handwriting analyst. Also, there are only a few examples of the handwriting of some of these people that I was able to find (if you have access to any others, please let me know).

Firstly, let us consider the writing of the King and Queen for most of Richard’s life: Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

Ed IV sigHere is Edward’s signature, when he was the Earl of March, so he must have been younger than eighteen. Just look at the HUGE lower zone, which represents physical material and sexual needs and appetites. Need I say more? OK, then! It indicates an inability to stay within the sexual boundaries of his times. This is also indicated by the phallic symbols present in the ends of the letters ‘M’ and ‘h’. I’m not sure what the dots next to the ‘M’ mean, but the curved shape under the ‘r’ and ‘c’ makes me think he was a ‘boob’ man! Also, note the proliferation of ‘X’s, which could mean a preoccupation or concern about death, which most people must have had in those days. The little ‘logo’ type thingy after the name puts me in mind of a musical stave, which might suggest a love of music. The signature is bold and clear, showing confidence and possibly arrogance and leans to the right which shows sociability and openness.

Here is one of his later signatures with a bit of other handwriting which I have been advised reads ‘votre (abbreviated) bon cousin’. Anyway, you can see that his lower zone overlaps the line underneath, which shows his lack of keeping within the normal bounds when it comes to sex. However, the lower curl of the ‘y’s are not that well defined. I’m not sure how old he was when he wrote this, but his libido looks to be less than before. The slope of the writing is erratic, suggesting a mercurial nature and the communication letters are also erratic, some carefully rounded and closed and others open – a lot of the letters are not clearly formed, showing deceit and hiding aspects of oneself. Death is still present in the ‘E’ and the ‘IV’

 Edward IV sig

Here are some abbreviated signatures of Edward, representing E R (for Edwardus Rex). The first one is interesting because of the heart shape underneath the first letter – was he in love when he wrote this one? Or it could also be seen as a shield or coat of arms which may have been his preoccupation then.

In the second example, see how his signature is practically one big ‘X’ and is sloping backwards. Crossing through your own signature is a sign of despair. He seems to have been having a bout of depression at this time and the backwards sloping letters show he wants to be left alone to work it out. The phallic symbols are still there though!

Compare it with the third one. Look how the letters are upright and flowing, much less angular and more elegant. This suggests a high intellectual capacity (the prominent upper zone), great self-control (upright letters) and artistic nature with a gentle side (the flowing elegant style). The third one is Richard’s. You can see an ‘x’ there too, but it integrates into the whole more smoothly and doesn’t look like a crossing out. Death was ever-present in those times. A second interpretation of the proliferation of ‘x’s in general could be the influence of religion in Mediaeval times. 


Ed IV sig


Ed IV sig


Richard III sig

Elizabeth’s signature is interesting. There is a much reduced upper zone, suggesting she was not very intellectual. Even the ‘e’ is not capitalised reducing it to a middle zone letter, and see the ‘t’ and ‘b’ do not reach any further than the middle zone. So she has an over-emphasised middle zone. This shows a concern with everyday things, the here and now, including material possessions, nice clothes, jewels, outward appearance. She is emotionally focused on herself. However, she does also have quite a libido – see the phallic symbols? She crosses boundaries when it comes to sex and has strong sexual desires. And I don’t know about you, but when I look at that twiddly underline with the signature, it looks like a crown to me!

.Eliz Woodville sig

Finally let us consider the signature of George, Duke of Clarence. I have found two samples – unfortunately I do not know when they were written:


Clarence sig


Clarence sigYou can see that number one is much more angular and spiky than number two. The sharp angles suggest anger or agitation, whereas George was much calmer and more peaceful when he wrote number two. Both signatures are quite legible which shows that he was not deceptive – he may have changed sides a few times, but he didn’t keep it secret for long, he openly showed his hand. He could be a good communicator when he wanted to be. Like Elizabeth’s signature George’s middle zone is the most prominent and shows his preoccupation with himself and his immediate needs, his material possessions and outward show. He likes to be the centre of attention. There are no lower zone letters but the upper zone ones are quite well formed which suggests he was quite clever also. They tend to lean towards the right, which shows he lets his emotions show.

I hope you enjoyed this. Please give your comments or your own suggestions for interpretations below and I will do another post on some other WOTR characters in a while.

Signs of the Times – the Handwriting of Richard III

I have recently reread an interesting book about analysing handwriting and have had fun playing about with my friends’ writing and seeing if their handwriting matches their characters; it mainly does.

So, being interested in Richard III, I thought I would (just for fun) have a go at analysing his writing at different times in his life and see if I could get any insight into the man.

I know there have been others who analysed his writing, one of which I know concluded that he suffered with depression. I have used what I learned in the book (link to follow) but also added some of my own thoughts. There are some aspects which puzzle me and I will leave these open for discussion. First of all, let me make it clear, once again, that this is purely for fun. Also, you will understand that, as mediaeval writing differs quite a bit from modern writing, there are some aspects which might be confused or difficult to interpret because of that. For example, the letters are generally written in a more angular way, in that the rounded letters (a, o, p, d, etc) are squarer. Perhaps this is because of the writing implements used, but interestingly, the more sharp and angular the writing the less soft and more aggressive the character is. Well, we all know what a generally violent and aggressive period of history it was; maybe their writing reflected that.

Looking at Richard’s writing, let us first examine his earliest known signature, written in about 1465, with the motto ‘Tant le Desiree’ in one of his books on chivalry.

Signature of Richard III


We can see the angular ‘o’ I mentioned and the generally angular script, but I think it is quite a flowing hand compared to some others of the times, which suggests to me that Richard was more merciful than the norm. The signature is larger than the rest of the writing (which is about the same size as the motto), showing that Richard was confident in his own identity and importance. Another obvious aspect of this signature is that it is very clear and legible. We all know people who sign their names illegibly, and it was no different then. Just look at this signature:

Warwick sigCan you decipher it? I will tell you whose it is later. But returning to Richard, the legible nature of his signature shows he is not hiding anything! If you disguise your signature you are trying to hide an aspect of yourself. Richard’s is very much ‘What you see is what you get’. See the way he has crossed the ‘ts’ in ‘tant’ from the vertical stem more to the right than the left; as we write from left to right, left corresponds to the past, which suggests that he is forward thinking rather than dwelling on the past, or he might prefer not to think about the past.

Notice that the level of the writing is slightly upward moving (as is the second signature), showing, far from depression, a positive outlook. This can change according to one’s mood. Check you own writing the next time you feel down to see if it is going downhill too.

There is quite large spacing between each word and between the ‘R’ and the ‘Gloucestre’, revealing that Richard needs to be alone at times.

Look at the clear ‘o’s and ‘a’s in his writing – they are the communication letters. They are clear and well-formed, and firmly closed. This means Richard was a good communicator and that he was the kind of person who could keep a confidence.

Now look at the hard, heavy downward stroke of the ‘s’ in Gloucestre; this shows he could have a temper at times.

Looking at the upper zone (where the tall letters and capitals extend above the level of the ‘o’s and ‘a’s), they are generally more than twice the height of the ‘o’s – this shows his intellectual abilities, which must have been considerable.

Now, in the book the author is mainly analysing criminals’ and murderers’ writing and she comments that often their weapon of choice appears in their writing subconsciously. Since we know that they all had weapons and it was very violent in those times, I suppose it’s no surprise to see weapon-shaped letters in Richard’s writing (as in others’ of the times): look at the ‘s’ again, in Gloucestre – does it look like a dagger? But what is that little scribbly thing at the end? A flower? A rose? Considering the nature of the book it appears in, perhaps it’s a lady’s favour on the end of a lance?

There are no lower zone letters present in this snippet (I’m not counting the ‘s’ since it doesn’t go below the line in modern script, nor does it have a ‘tail’, like a ‘g’ or ‘y’), so I am unable to analyse his sexual inclinations at this juncture.

Let us move on to the next sample:

Signatures J Say

Here, we see his signature is more confident and firm, but look at the huge space between the ‘R’ and ‘Gloucestre’! He has a great need for solitude, reinforced by the greater spaces in the bulk of the P.S. than in the main part of the letter (written by a scribe or secretary).

His high intellect is still apparent, shown by the long ‘l’ in Gloucestre and the high part of the ‘u’s. Here we can see his lower zone (lower parts of ‘g’ and ‘y’) and it balances out the higher zone well, showing he had a keen interest and capacity for sex. As he was about 16 or 17 when this was written (1469), it is hardly surprising!

His communication letters are again well-formed and clear and his signature legible. His signature is about the same size as the rest of the letter, showing he was no arrogant or considered himself superior to the recipient.

Look at the ‘p’ in ‘pray’; can you see the down stroke which extends above the rounded part of it? This is called a ‘pugilistic p’ and indicates an argumentative nature. We know he argued eloquently against his brother George over his marriage to Anne and the Neville estates, so this is probably correct.

See the letter ‘I’ – this is important as ‘I’ represents your own identity and can reflect your relationships with your parents. The upper part of the ‘I’ represents the mother relationship and the lower the father link. As you can see, Richard’s upper part of the ‘I’ is large and curved, showing he had a normal and positive relationship with his mother, but the lower part is minimal and dwindling off, which indicates a distant or unknown father – we know Richard’s father was killed when he was eight, so he wouldn’t have had a deep relationship with him.

Next sample:

Richard sig 1471-75This occurred in 1471-75. By this time, Richard had fought in two battles and been wounded himself. He had considerable success in this and this must have increased his confidence, – see how large his signature is now?

Also, note the large ‘X’ over the letter ‘G’ in Gloucester? There are also other, less distinct ‘x’s in the ‘R’ and the ‘st’ combination. ‘X’s in the signature indicate a preoccupation with death. After his experiences in the bloody battles and subsequent executions of Barnet and Tewkesbury, is it any wonder death would be an ever-present thought and fear? You will find ‘x’s in many mediaeval signatures, which should surprise no-one, as death was always just around the corner then, and not such a taboo subject as it is now.

Additionally, you can see his ‘R’ and ‘Gloucestre’ are closer together than before and his letters are leaning a little more to the right. This indicates that he was happier in company with others now – perhaps because of the camaraderie of the soldier?

The ‘o’s are still clear, his communication skills undiminished and direct. However, the signature as a whole is a bit more indistinct and, though not illegible, it is more difficult to decipher. Is he learning how to keep back certain parts of his persona? Finally, look again at the initial ‘R’; does it remind you of an axe? A battleaxe? An executioner’s axe? I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about that!

Next, from 1478:

Richard sig 1478This is essentially very similar to the previous one, but note the broken line in the top of the ‘G’? I think he was suffering from a headache when he wrote this.

Next, from ‘that time’ in 1483, this was the signature which was one of three with Edward V and the Duke of Buckingham:

Richad III sig

This signature is notably more legible than the previous few and includes his first name. Also apparent is his motto, Loyaulte Me Lie, which we all know. This shows he was sincere and open – we are back to ‘what you see is what you get’.

His communication letters are still clear; his signature is not much larger than the motto, showing his lack of any great ambition.

Note the bracket/squiggle connecting the motto and the name, reinforcing the link and underlying the fact that this motto is sincerely held by Richard. Plus there are no ‘x’s or ‘axes’.

However, look at the ‘m’ in ‘me’ and the ‘h’ in ‘Richard’ – see the extra strokes on the left side of them? They are resentment strokes.   Did he resent that he wasn’t king? Or having to babysit the new king? The end of his normal life in Yorkshire? The interference of the Woodvilles? I suggest the latter.

The next samples are from when he was king. Here is the first which is from his letter to the Archbishop asking for the seal so he can put down Buckingham’s rebellion. He wrote the postscript himself having found out about Buckingham’s betrayal and is the one where he calls him ‘the most untrue creature living’.

letter re BuckinghamThe first things to notice are the large numbers of heavy, downward strokes which indicate his anger – he was furious! I don’t know if the ink blots were his too, but if they were that serves to reinforce the violent emotions coursing through him. There are also pugilistic ‘p’s and resentment marks galore too (look for extra strokes at the beginnings of letters that shouldn’t have them – ‘m’s, ‘h’s, ‘y’s, ‘n’s).

I think he was writing quickly and urgently, which has made the writing much less legible than normal for him.

His usual script shows great self-control and I think he ‘lost it’ here.

Next, from1484 – A Venetian document:

Richard III sigSee how large and showy it is – it is for public consumption and he wants to be perceived as powerful and strong.

The ‘axe’ is back! He is not to be trifled with.

The communication letters remain clearly defined and his intelligence is again emphasised. The upright nature of it shows he is again in control of himself.


Letter to Cecily See the difference here; the signature is much smaller and less angular and the letters are of more consistent size. This is a private letter he wrote to his mother Cecily.

I believe he loved his mother, indicated by the rounded, flowing writing.

He also respected her, because his signature was the same size as the body of the letter – he signs himself ‘your most humble son’ and again links this to his name – he means it – his signature is humble.

And see the ‘I’s again – look how large the loops are coming down from the top (the mother area): they come right down into the father area, perhaps showing that his mother is all he has left – his father is gone and she represents both parents.

The words are now very close together and leaning more to the right – he is close to his mother and shows his feelings more with her.

There are still some resentment marks, but I feel this is a general thing with him now – he had quite a lot to resent by this time.

I don’t see depression even here – the lines of writing are going uphill rather than down. The pressure is even, showing no anger here.

He mentions Collyngbourne, (fifth line up from the bottom, on the left) who was hanged, drawn and quartered for treason – do you see anything like a scaffold in his name?!

Well, that is my interpretation for your entertainment – as you can see I have used my imagination and intuition a lot. Perhaps you can notice some other traits in the various samples – if so, please comment.

Oh and who was the second signature? It was Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick.

The book I enjoyed reading about analysing handwriting is: Sex Lies and Handwriting

Apologies to the author if I have misinterpreted anything and I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.

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