My Kingdom for a Resting Place

King Richard III has been disinterred. After his unceremonious death at the Battle of Bosworth field, the last monarch of the House of York and the last to die in battle was apparently discarded in a near-random cathedral, the Grey Friars, in Leicester, England. But Grey Friars was demolished when Henry VIII dissolved many of the monasteries. So, an archaeological project was set out to find the church grounds in order to locate the final resting place of Richard III. They found him, in a parking lot.

I’ve always found the history of Richard III, the House of York, and their conflict with the Tudors fascinating. I’m not sure why. I think I was introduced to the situation in one of the worst possible ways, through a Yu-Gi-Oh! game for the Playstation 2. Before I played that game, I had no idea who any of the characters substituted with art from the Yu-Gi-Oh! universe were. The name of the game is, appropriately enough, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists of the Roses. I still find that a game a fascinating case study in blending history with a pop cultural icon, if you can call Yu-Gi-Oh! that.  A lot of it is really clunky, and doesn’t make much sense. Anyways, that’s most of my context for the history of Richard III and the Yorkists, also Shakespeare obviously.

The Japanese just love Western history.

Speaking of Shakespeare, I find the recent transformation, at least on the internet, of Richard’s reputation. Shakespeare casts Richard as a crooked back villain looking out only for himself and his position on the throne. My impression of the popular opinion of the king was prevailingly a negative one that made him the villain of the English monarchy.  Richard III has, especially in Yorkshire, earned a certain cache now. In fact, the residents are in a battle with those of the monarch’s original resting place in Leicester over who will end up being the final resting place, according to CNN.com

Mitochondrial DNA in the bones and physical characteristics of the skeleton were used to confirm that the remains did in fact belong to Richard III. The method for actually identifying the DNA was a comparison with one of Richard’s direct descendants, Michael Ibsen, a cabinetmaker who lives Canada. Physically, Richard did seem to have a crooked back as many of the contemporary reports stated. Archaeologists say that there is actually evidence of scoliosis and curvature of the spine which points further towards confirming that this is in fact Richard III.

In the days since the discovery and at a surprising pace, the researchers have also completed a facial reconstruction of Richard, complete with the hat he seems to have worn everywhere. You know the one that’s in all of his portraits. Anyways, most of the other things I have to say could just as easily be found in the articles I linked to. Go there if you want more of the nitty grity.

1 thought on “My Kingdom for a Resting Place

  1. I really liked reading your article about Richard III. My best friend growing up was obsessed with the Tudors, so I am pretty up to date on all things Henry VIII. Knowing so much about him and all the crazy things he did has made me really interested in the rest of the kings of England as well.
    I have CNN liked on facebook (no judging!) and when they found his remains in that parking lot it showed up on my newsfeed. While researching more about Richard III I learned about how he came into power, including the Princes in the Tower and the Wars of the Roses.
    I guess it isn’t all that out of character for the time period, but Richard III only came into power with the death of his two nephews, twelve-year-old King Edward V of England and his nine year old brother Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York. While there isn’t enough evidence to identify the killer of these two boys, it would have been in Richard’s best interest to have them done away with. There is no record of a funeral for the princes, so we’ll never know for sure what happened to them, but it is believed that the bodies of Edward V and his brother Richard of Shrewsbury were found below a staircase in the White Tower, which would seem appropriate.
    But Richard III didn’t have an easy Kingship; he was only King for two years before Henry VII defeated him on the field at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. It is here that Shakespeare has him uttering the famous words, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” as he tried to flee the battlefield after being mortally wounded. His death ended the thirty-year War of the Roses and started the Tudor monarchy with Henry VII.
    If you want to learn anything else about Richard III, the Princes in the Tower, or the Battle of Bosworth, the links I used are below.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princes_in_the_Tower

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bosworth

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wars_of_the_Roses

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