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An interesting discussion about medieval bones, including Richard’s….

bones-talk

Elena Haymond is an anthropology instructor at Riverland Community College,  and teeth are her special area of research within the field of osteoarchaeology. But in this talk she speaks of Richard’s remains in general, and how they have disproved Shakespeare’s portrait of him.

http://www.austindailyherald.com/2017/01/bare-bone-details-study-of-bones-enriches-the-understanding-of-people-cultures/

A 1962 talk about That Urn and what Richard might or might not have done ….

I apologise in advance for posting this in so many picture files, but the manuscript of Dr Lyne-Pirkis’ 1962 speech about the urn in Westminster Abbey was sent to me, page by page, in PDF format. I couldn’t work out how to post them, so turned them all into separate JPEGs They come courtesy of a friend in the US, who found it on going through some old papers. She is a Ricardian, but slightly lapsed, and still has some of her memorabilia.

Apologies too for some of the words/attitudes used in the speech – things were a little different in 1962 – not very p.c.

Dr Lyne-Pirkis - Speech about bones in urn - 1962 - 1

Dr Lyne-Pirkis - Speech about bones in urn - 1962 - 2

Dr Lyne-Pirkis - Speech about bones in urn - 1962 - 3

Dr Lyne-Pirkis - Speech about bones in urn - 1962 - 4

Dr Lyne-Pirkis - Speech about bones in urn - 1962 - 5

Dr Lyne-Pirkis - Speech about bones in urn - 1962 - 6A

Dr Lyne-Pirkis - Speech about bones in urn - 1962 - 7

The King In The Lab – Richard III’s Dissolute Diet

RICARDIAN LOONS

I recently had the opportunity to attend a talk by Professor Jane Evans of the British Geological Survey, co-author of the multi-isotope analysis which explored what the last Plantagenet king of England ate and drank. As I mentioned in a previous science post, this study formed the basis for the widely reported claim that, although he was a capable soldier, he overindulged on food and drink and that this “dissolute” diet was the reason for his unexpected defeat at the battle of Bosworth. As this seemed to be at odds with both historical sources and also the study itself, I was hoping to finally get to the bottom of the facts. I wasn’t disappointed.

What Isotopes Can Tell Us

Professor Evans began her talk by explaining that isotopes are particles which transmit information from geology to us via our food chain. Basically:

Rock > soil > plants > herbivores…

View original post 1,819 more words

EDWARD V–YOUNG APOLLO OR INVALID?

There are some, though increasingly few in number, who still wish to believe the ‘bones in the urn’ at Westminster are, without doubt, the remains of Edward V and his brother, Richard of York. Professor Hicks, among others, chides those who ‘do not wish to believe’ despite ‘the best medical opinion of the day.’ (Extraordinary statement, since Hicks has doubted the veracity of Richard III’s remains, despite overwhelming modern scientific confirmation…yet in the 1930’s, prIor to the advent of Dna testing,not even the sex of pubescent/pre-pubescent children’ remains could be accurately ascertained, let alone their identity.)

The examination of the fragmentary skeletons shows that the elder of the two suffered some kind of dental disease, either the potentially fatal osteomyelitis, or the lesser but still painful and unpleasant oteitis. In the former ailment, modern day patients have described their faces as ‘swelling like a balloon’, have complained of ‘not sleeping properly for a year with pain’ and having ‘stabbing pain in jaw, face and eye area.’ This is with modern medical intervention, including powerful painkillers and antibiotics. In oteitis, bone forms rather than is destroyed; although not generally as painful as osteomyeletis, or potentially life threatening, it is still an inflammatory response to peridontal infection, and would be connected with abscessed and decayed teeth. Uncomfortable at the very least and can also cause swelling and pain.

Now the young Prince Edward was never once in his lifetime described as sickly or unattractive. Indeed, he was described, in glowing terms, as a veritable young Apollo and a budding scholar of high intellect…
Mancini writes:

“He had such dignity in his own person, and in his face such charm that however much they might gaze, he never wearied the eyes of beholders.”

“… I should not pass over in silence the talent of the youth. In word and deed, he gave so many proofs of his liberal education, of polite, nay rather scholarly attainments far beyond his age; all of these should be recounted, but require so such labor, that I shall lawfully excuse myself the effort. There is one thing I shall not omit, and that is, his special knowledge of literature, which enabled him to discourse elegantly, to understand fully and to disclaim most excellently from any work whether in verse or prose which came into his hands, unless it were from among the more abstruse authors.”

Although young Edward’s household was in Ludlow, he was not hidden away from the world in any wise. From 1480 onwards, there are at least eight recorded instances when he was involved in public activities with his father, Edward IV, or at court with his parents.

The above hardly sounds like the activities or description of a sickly boy wracked with constant dental pain and infection. The fact that Edward had a physician, Dr Argentine, with him need not imply sickliness. It was normal for royalty to have their own private physicians to attend to their well-being.

George Buck is the only writer of the past to mention that Edward V may have been unwell. He gives no proof, other than none of his full blood siblings lived to a very great age. I am sure most traditionalists would not be inclined to accept Buck’s idea in this regard, as in other respects his reports on Richard are positive ones and question the Tudor ‘story’ and it would surely mean they had to give some credence to them!

So, it comes down quite simply to this:
If Dominic Mancini is to be believed, and Professor Hicks postulates he may have even met the young Edward V, the youth cannot have been suffering any noticeable afflictions or physical abnormalities. Any such blemishes would also surely have been noted in his public appearances (if such appearances were even possible had he been chronically ailing). They were never mentioned.
So therefore, if Edward V was the bright, handsome and intellectual young ‘Apollo’ of Mancini’s glowing description, it is almost impossible that the child with the abnormal jawbone ,whose remains lie in the urn in Westminster, is in fact him.

Sources:
Annette Carson- The Maligned King
Dominic Mancini –The Usurpation of Richard III
Michael Hicks-Edward V
http://www.oralhealthgroup.

New ‘Historians’…New Myths

Historians, historians. It seems we have a new generation writing about the Wars of the Roses and Richard, but still plying the same old, same old. Only with a new and disturbing twist.
The current crop of books seem aimed at the ‘yoof’ market, targeted especially towards those whose knowledge of the Wars of the Roses period only extends to having heard that it influenced ‘Game of Thrones.’ Words like ‘bloody’ and ‘most violent’ abound in descriptions of these authors’ tomes and TV programs, as if attempting to capture audiences with the potential ‘gore factor’ rather than the history. We certainly cannot be having any historical figure’s life or character reassessed in any way, because it appears that certain ‘popular history’ authors believe the late medieval era is just too boring without murderous, hunchbacked Wicked Uncle Richard taking the final bow.
But it gets worse than just rehashing tired old myths. Of late, there is a disturbing new trend—additions are being made to the Richard ‘legend’ which have no basis in truth or are distortions of recent findings. Presented on the screen or written page by a dynamic and popular presenter or author, these new falsehoods may well make their way into a new generation’s myths about Richard, which would be a great shame just as some of the old myths have begun to be questioned and discarded, such as the fictional limp and withered arm.
For example, recently popular historian Dan Jones claimed that Edward IV pardoned the Lancastrians hiding in the abbey after the Battle of Tewkesbury…and that Richard and Hastings, defying their king in what would surely have been considered shocking insubordination, dragged these men from sanctuary and executed them. In fact, there is nothing in the original records that says who exactly was responsible for removing the Lancastrians from the abbey (which was not actually a designated place of sanctuary.) Edward had pardoned them but had obviously gone back on his word…as he did at an earlier date with Welles and Dymoke whom he lured from sanctuary and then executed in Stamford in March 1470. Edward was not averse to executing his enemies, and the idea he would not sanction executions at Tewkesbury for foes such as Somerset is most strange…especially considering he had over 40 Lancastrian nobles executed in the aftermath of Towton.
On top of this new and unfounded claim, Jones even had to add a little fantasy about Richard’s spinal condition, writing that at the random age of age of 22, he became a ‘hunchback’! Surely it is time this pejorative word is put to rest, for both Richard (who was not a ‘hunchback’ but suffered scoliosis) and for any others who have any form of spinal abnormality? Jones’ statement also clearly goes against all the recent medical reports in scholarly journals like the Lancet, which states that Richard’s type of scoliosis was of adolescent onset, appearing as he reached puberty. (Adult onset scoliosis has a different pathology from Richard’s form, as does the congenital type found in young children.) The osteologists have also stated that its impact on Richard’s appearance would be quite minimal, with uneven shoulders being the most noticeable feature (this of course tallies with near contemporary records mentioning a raised right shoulder.)
Archaeologist Mike Pitts has also added his bit recently and somewhat disappointingly, considering his good work elsewhere in prehistoric archaeology. In his book about the Greyfriars dig, he refers to Richard as being ‘frail.’ Nothing about Richard’s remains shows that the King was frail, which has the implication of weakness and sickliness. He had small, gracile bones, true, but that is not quite the same thing as ‘frail’, as Mr. Pitts is surely aware from excavating countless Neolithic skeletons, which also frequently have similar slender, gracile bones.
Lastly, there was a recent small feature about Richard’s teeth in an issue of World Archaeology. He had gum disease! the author wrote almost gleefully. He would have been suffering constant toothache and had bad breath!
What a load of nonsense! He had some caries as one might expect in a medieval man of nearly 33, pre-dentistry, and loss of only a few back teeth; and most of us even with modern dental hygiene will suffer some kind of gingival problem within our lifetime. These kinds of ailments are really useful to know about only in comparative circumstances….i.e. were his teeth/gums better or worse than other medieval nobility? (Obviously better than Henry Tudor’s gnashers which were described by contemporaries as ‘black’!)
Needless to say, it is disappointing that so much poorly researched or even invented data on Richard III is still being passed off as the truth. The public deserves a much less biased and melodramatic view which will allow them to make up their own minds and perhaps go on to further research into the most written about but most poorly understood King of this period.

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