To think that just because they have found the bones of Richard III, that doesn't automatically mean that he was actually A Really Bloody Nice Bloke?

(239 Posts)
BalloonSlayer Tue 05-Feb-13 08:31:00

Constant quotes from the Richard III Society:

"We're going to completely reassess Richard III, we're going to completely look at all the sources again, and hopefully there's going to be a new beginning for Richard as well." Why? It's a skeleton? Was it holding a signed confession from Henry VII of the murder of the Princes in the Tower?

Richard III Society member Philippa Langley, originator of the search, said on a Channel 4 documentary earlier: "It doesn't look like the face of a tyrant. I'm sorry but it doesn't. WTF?

Why does this change anything at all?

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 10:33:59

"What I do not get is why modern Ricardians think they are defending the man by saying "Oh, no, he was not disabled; that is evil Tudor propaganda". Bit of a nasty take on disability imho"

THAT IS WHAT I SAID!

I said "Oh so he couldn't possibly have had a withered arm/scoliosis and been a nice King? Huh?" Weird.

I think he seems nice though. I liked his hat.

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 10:35:39

I've got a historical girl crush on Marie Antoinette, another misunderstood and much-maligned monarch. I reckon she was a right laugh with all of her wigs and cakes. She sounds like she'd have been my kind of gal.

tiggytape Tue 05-Feb-13 10:41:00

In that period physical deformity or disability was seen as an outward appearance of sin or character flaw. To emphasise a deformity or to invent one was to pass judgment on a person's character as a whole. Obviously this is grossly offensive to modern ears (not to mention totally untrue of course) but it was playing to beliefs held at that time.

I liked his hat as well!

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 10:41:33

Right.....I'm off to find Genghis......

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 10:42:37

.....or should we just send PL and her dowsing rods?

It's not that simple, tiggy.

Christopher Baswell (historian) has done some work suggesting that, at least in the earlier bits of the medieval period, there was some iconographic link between being disabled and being a good king. I forget all the details (I've only heard him talk, not seen his published work yet), but it was fascinating.

Bogeyface Tue 05-Feb-13 10:46:40

As I said on the other thread last night, just because the Tudors painted him as an evil bastard doesnt mean he wasnt!

She is fruit loops imo, no one should have a crush on a man who has been dead 500 years and sob over his body like he was her late husband.

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 10:48:42

That's interesting, LRD.
I vaguely remember learning that deformity, or marks, etc were sometimes interpreted as having been touched by god.

I guess it all depended on who you were, how much dosh you had and how good your spin doctor was.

It also seems that there was a lot of shrugging-style acceptance of disability/ deformity as well. Like "Oh John with the short leg? He's just got a short leg, that's just him." This was probably more among the general populace, though, as your average joe didn't have the medieval media machine cranking away behind him.

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 10:49:51

He might have been evil. He might have been a saint.

All I know is he had a natty hat.

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 10:50:22

tiggytape Tue 05-Feb-13 10:41:00
"In that period physical deformity or disability was seen as an outward appearance of sin or character flaw. "

"That period" is a very loose term. Remember the people around Richard III did not share the same mindest or even the same religion as the Tudor historians.

It's like expecting us to have the same mindset as the people in the 50s- yes, we have met people who were alive at the time, some MNers may even have been alive themselves, but all the same a lot of water has passed under the bridge.

There is some evidence that earlier in the Middle Ages, disability (if patiently born) could be seen as a special token of saintliness.

And a lot of evidence that attitudes towards cripples, beggars, outcasts etc hardened during the reign of Henry VIII (not dissimilar, in some ways, to the hardening of attitudes we see atm).

But Richard III and his contemporaries wouldn't have known about any hardening of attitude that might be about to take place several decades later. One thing does seem obvious and that is that Richard himself, or his family, did not expect his disability to limit his ability to appear in public or lead an active life.

Dawndonna Tue 05-Feb-13 10:51:31

Tis all well and good, but there does appear to be evidence that at least one of the lads lived to a ripe old age, in France.

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 10:51:47

I seem to be cross-posting a lot on this thread <waves to Bunting, LRD and minouminou>

minou - yes, I agree with you, I think that is probably very true. I remember someone going over the bones from the battle of Towton and showing just how many of the ordinary foot soldiers were what we'd now think of as disabled, but were also obviously people with perfectly ordinary jobs.

Sorry, cory! We all seem to be agreeing though.

This must be very exciting for you (it is for me!).

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 10:53:42

Dawndonna Tue 05-Feb-13 10:51:31
"Tis all well and good, but there does appear to be evidence that at least one of the lads lived to a ripe old age, in France. "

Where?

The only reasonably substantiated story I have ever read is the one about a Plantagenet offspring being alive as an old man in England and it seems fairly clear, if the story is correctly reported, that he would have been an illegitimate son of Richard III rather than one of his nephews.

I'm facsinated by the whole story of Richard III but wouldn't have gone to to the lengths that this lady has, good on her! I can see the argument that Henry Tudor was more likely to have murdered the Princes, but would love to know for certain. I don't see why having found his bones makes it more likely that Richard was a nice man (although I do think he was villified by the Tudors to consolodate their position) and was confused by the claim that this documentary was "rewriting history", I didn't see any rewriting going on, just confirmation that Richard had a deformed spine and was buried where they thought he was!

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 10:54:25

I think people's attitudes towards pain and discomfort were different, as well. Or at least, they soldiered on as best they could, without the benefit of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory meds, DLA and so on.
Pain was a fact of life; now it's something that we will go all out to minimise, even if this process interferes with everyday life.

firesidechat Tue 05-Feb-13 10:55:24

I get why Tudor historians thought they could blacken the name of Richard by describing him as a hunchback. I even get why that resonated with Victorian historians (think Dickens). What I do not get is why modern Ricardians think they are defending the man by saying "Oh, no, he was not disabled; that is evil Tudor propaganda". Bit of a nasty take on disability imho.

Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking.

The implication seemed to be that if he didn't have a physical disability then he was a good man and if he did he must be an evil tyrant. It was all very odd and made be feel very uncomfortable with the Richadians thought processes. I couldn't understand why the women was so devastated that he had a spinal deformity after all. The attitude was almost medieval, which was a bit ironic really.

That makes me think how fast things have changed for our generation, minou. Something that really sticks in my mind is my dad telling me that his dad (who'd be nearly 100 now if he were still alive) had said 'well, after age 30, you just expect to be in pain. That's how it is'. And that's how it was for him. I think even over the last 50 years or so we have got so much less expectation of constant low-level pain.

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 10:59:06

Yeah. It also differs with class, wealth (don't beat me) and educational attainment nowadays. There's still quite a difference in what people will accept as natural/normal/expected.

True.

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 11:01:57

Anyway....we're derailing somewhat.
RIII had a good diet, and lived to just 32; had he lived a decade or so longer, the effects of his asymmetry would probably start to kick in more, despite his privileged lifestyle and diet. He just got on with the life he was born into for as long as he could.

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 11:02:28

I heard a very interesting talk about the digs at the leper hospital outside Winchester last term. They noted that some of the most carefully prepared tombs belonged to people with the most severe deformities and it was suggested in the discussion afterwards that this might have been because they were considered particularly saintly.

I think the different mindset between Catholic and Protestant is relevant here. Catholicism, not least popular Catholicism, is heavily tied up with charity, so you need people to show that charity to, and you are going to feel reasonably good about those people; after all, they are helping you to get into heaven; there is no reason at all to resent them for that. Even high status cripples who bear their cross well can be useful as examples of suffering patiently born; you need that kind of example to prepare you for purgatory.

Protestantism (at least in some forms) is very much about individual faith, individual work ethic, charity is not a requisite (though a concomitant) and suffering is less important. So you have no special reason to be appreciative of cripples.

As Henry VIII might have said, What have the cripples ever done for me?

(His parents and grandparents would probably have had no difficulty in answering that question).

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 11:04:04

Not saying of course that Richard III would have served his contemporaries as a useful example of saintly patience grin

Just that they wouldn't have had the negative attitude towards cripples which becomes apparent a generation or so later.

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 11:06:28

Ha! Which saw the country's resources pillaged in prep for wars and general shenanigans.......

Maybe we need to be looking further back than the 1930's for historical lessons....

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