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The Question of Richard III.
I recently went to a book signing of Sharon Kay Penman who wrote one of my favorite books about Richard III Entitled “The Sunne In Splendour” I went to get a copy of her new novel about Richard I and to get a copy of “The Sunne…” signed for my nephew, Mitchell, because Richard III is one of his biggest heroes.
Me with Sharon Kay Penman and Richard's crest
I was reminded of a trip we took 2 ½ years ago to England where we focused our sites on Richard III sites.
We visited sites such as, York, his headquarters as the Duke of Gloucester and leader of Northern England during his brother, Edward IVs’, reign as king.
Michael at York Minster-View if York from the Minster
In York we went to Micklegate Bar, the eastern gate to the city of York where Richard’s father and brothers’ heads were up on pikes when he first came into the city, triumphant after winning a battle with Henry VI.
Micklegate Bar Cheesy Richard III museum
We went through the tacky (he deserves better)Richard III museum in Monk Bar (the Western gate to York),Barnard Castle, where he lived, Middleham Castle, his favorite castle and where he grew up, Carlisle Castle, where he was Governor for a short time.
At Barnard Castle Amazing Middleham Castle
Me hanging with Richard III at his favorite castle Middleham
My sister took some of our group to Warwick Castle,( I had been there a few times already so didn’t go this time), where he visited often and his brother was groomed to become the King (Edward IV).
Warwick Castle The Bloody Tower at Tower of London
Lastly, we went through the Bloody Tower at the Tower of London where his Nephews were last seen alive and where their bones were found buried under a staircase a few hundred years later. I feel I have had a long history learning about him and my thoughts about him have gone from one extreme to the other. Let me explain what I mean.
I remember the first time I heard about Richard III was from Shakespeare’s play. So the hunchback, conniving, murdering Richard was the version of the story I thought was the true, because WS wouldn’t lie. You know, how he killed his brother, George, the Duke of Clarence, then, when the King died, he did away with the nephew’s so he could be King.
The murdered Princes
Then as an adult I began to hear of the other side of the story. First I read “The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey. That was the first time I had ever considered that he wasn’t guilty of those killings. I was intrigued. Next I read “The Sunne In Splendour” by Sharron Kay Penman. That book convinced me of his innocence in the murders. Another book that I read was “Royal Blood”, by Bertram Fields. In this book the author takes all the facts as we know them and presents a kind of trial and the result is that Richard III was found not-guilty of the murder of his nephews.
A few years ago I took a class at Oxford and in meeting my classmates at a reception, one woman, a distinguished lawyer from Washington DC found out that I had taken a class previously on the War of the Roses (the 13 year war between the York’s and the Lancaster’s for the crown). She immediately asked me which side of the Richard III question I stood. When I told her I believed him innocent of the murders, she invited me to join the “Ricardian Society of America”, which is a group of history buffs that try to turn the publics’ opinion of Richards’ innocence through the facts that are available. I had never even heard that there was such a group, but apparently there are branches all over the world! One group even meets monthly in a Medieval Hall in York close by Micklegate Bar.
It is an interesting subject to study if you are a history buff like me. But as much as I hate to cast any dispersions on William Shakespeare, I have to admit that he was first a business man, and wrote the play to please the Tudors, and Elizabeth I, whose grandfather was the one that killed Richard at the battle of Bosworth Field.
WS knew which side his bread was buttered and so I don’t fault him too much. I leave the question to each of you to see the other side of the story and make your decision after learning the facts.