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?

manicbmc Tue 05-Feb-13 08:35:57

Yes, but she is a knob.

Did you hear the Richardians going on so vehemently that he was misunderstood and all sorts? Mad as a box of frogs.

We will never actually know the truth because history is written by the victors.

WelshMaenad Tue 05-Feb-13 08:41:44

What does the skull of a tyrant look like, then?

ledkr Tue 05-Feb-13 08:43:18

I've got bones and I'm orrible

Poledra Tue 05-Feb-13 08:46:28

'Er from the Richard III Society spoiled the documentary for me last night. 'It's not the face of a tyrant'. No, because it's a fucking waxwork! A very good one, and I was interested to see how the forensic folks had biult the case and reconstructed the case but it's still a fucking waxwork! <and breathe>

Clytaemnestra Tue 05-Feb-13 08:46:38

It has a moustache WelshManead, preferably a twirly one.

Poledra Tue 05-Feb-13 08:47:05

built the case and reconstructed the face I mean. Rage makes my typing go funny...

HecateWhoopass Tue 05-Feb-13 08:47:13

There's a proper face of a tyrant?


Let's round up anyone with such a face and lock em up. Save a lot of time.

bloody daft 'apeth

If you're found in a car park under the remains of an old shithouse, that tells people something new about your character?

Although it amuses me that people were crapping on him for many years. grin

EllieArroway Tue 05-Feb-13 08:47:28

I agree. It's strange. How does having a better idea of him physically tell us anything about his behaviour?

I reckon - without any evidence, I know - that he was ultimately responsible for the deaths of his nephews. So, I'm not inclined to think he's that nice wink

Oh - and how realistic are these head reconstructions? Doesn't there have to be a lot of assumptions about muscle & fat etc?

I get that the 'not the face of a tyrant' thing is nuts, but I do think finding the bones sort of humanizes him and might make people think about him a little differently? Because there's a real skull there that's been bashed about. I don't think it makes us know any more about what sort of king he was, but still.

ellie - no, muscle attachments make grooves in the bones, so you can tell how much of it there was. And with fat you can look at how well-nourished someone was like.

EllieArroway Tue 05-Feb-13 08:50:21

Ted Bundy had rather a nice face - and a less pleasant person it's hard to imagine. So her comment about it not being the face of a tyrant was a bit ridiculous. As is her desperation to have him turn out to be a "nice guy". Why does she care?

tiggytape Tue 05-Feb-13 08:50:34

YANBU - I think Philipa Langley is obviously very over excited about it

She is right though that the discovery and burial of his remains reopens interest in a King whose life and character were largely documented after his death by his enemies and by people with an interest in blackening his name and discrediting his family. Even many years later his line were seen as legitimate alternative heirs to the throne so were a threat. Therefore he's likely to have got bad press rather than fair press in that era. Which of course doesn't mean he was a decent person but doesn't mean that he was all bad either.

EllieArroway Tue 05-Feb-13 08:57:30

Having had a quick Google, LRD I don't think it's that simple. Tissue thickness can only be guessed at, apparently and that makes a huge difference to face shape. Plus things like nose, ears, eyes and lips require some artistic licence, evidently. So it's hard to to know how good they actually are. But maybe we're expecting too much and a close approximation should be enough.

I wish they'd dig up Anne Boleyn and do one on her. I'd love to know what she actually looked like. I know they won't for obvious reasons, but I'd be fascinated.

Oh, I'm sure it's not simple! Facial reconstructions aren't very accurate. I'm just saying, no, they don't guess, there are some things that help them to work it out.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 05-Feb-13 09:05:29

YANBU. Kings of that era were pretty ruthless almost by definition. The Tudors being a deal more ruthless, of course. Ever seen portraits of Henry VII? I've just finished reading 'The Daughter of Time' by Josephine Tey which is an excellent book that methodically goes through some of the facts and fictions that grew up about Richard III after his death. Not least that he had no good reason to kill his nephews.... whereas cuddly old Henry Tudor had far greater motivation. smile

I hope they lay him to rest in York where, after the battle of Bosworth, the people of the town wrote "This day was our good King Richard piteously slain and murdered; to the great heaviness of this city". As a character in the book points out 'Hardly the obituary of a hated usurper'

SirBoobAlot Tue 05-Feb-13 09:06:44

She was far too emotionally invested in the whole thing, she was incapable of being objective. Did you see her face when they confirmed scoliosis? It was infuriating as someone who studied archaeology to watch her drape a standard over a cardboard box because of a letter R in the car park. Was waiting for the osteologist to whack her one, actually.

We'll never know whether RIII did murder the princes in the tower, though will be interesting to see if they now run DNA comparison to the bodies that were found there.

Possible he did, possible they died as childhood illness was the biggest killer then even amongst the rich, possible HVII had them murdered in an attempt to blacken RIII's name as much as he could, as early as he could.

Fascinating either way.

Catholic or Protestant funeral? grin

Scheherezade Tue 05-Feb-13 09:13:23

Those were the bones of an English king. They deserved the standard and respect.

I feel quite sorry for her, but think ultimately she got the last laugh. I bet people have been fobbing her off as a crank and nutter. Hence why the only funding for the dig came from the society. But she was right, wasn't she. Nobody believed her, they mocked her, and she was right. And they're still mocking her, but so what, she was right.

Scheherezade Tue 05-Feb-13 09:14:18

ellie it matters because it gives an insight into how accurate the Tudor propaganda was.

BalloonSlayer Tue 05-Feb-13 09:14:48

Well actually the facial reconstruction makes him look very like Lord Farquaad from Shrek.

And HE was a tyrant.

So ner to you Woo Lady

MaryMotherOfCheeses Tue 05-Feb-13 09:18:13

Her comment about the wax face was purely an emotional response, very clearly so. It doesnt mean that real historical analysis will be based on that.

The bones are interesting because they prove the scoliosis. Richardians have been saying that wasnt true, so yes they now have to re-evaluate. If that rumour is proven, it challenges their thinking on other rumours.

Scheherezade Tue 05-Feb-13 09:18:56


Of course she was emotionally invested, if she wasn't, there would be no dig, no find.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 05-Feb-13 09:19:00

It's interesting that, during his reign, he was regarded (by the people of York at least) as a pretty good King. It's only in the several hundred years since that such a thorough hatchet job has been done on the man ... the evil, hunch-back murderer etc etc. The Tudors got the ball rolling on the negative PR, executing his supporters on the grounds of treason, probably killing off the legitimate heirs (the princes in the tower) and Shakespeare doing a very effective Oliver Stone-style dramatisation which fitted the same story. The scorn being heaped on Langley seems to be just the continuation of the same process.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Tue 05-Feb-13 09:21:03

What scheherazade says. Langley might be a bit bonkers but she was right.

Wouldnt it be boring if she hadnt been a bit mad. Does it really harm? Quite happy to have a little eccentricity with my history.

BeckAndCall Tue 05-Feb-13 09:23:32

Whether the skeleton was RIII and whether he was a tyrant are two different arguments - they've become conflated in the one issue.

And I agree that as a king, he certainly deserved the respect of his standard as they moved his remains, I was also surprised that there wasn't a priest in attendance.

The programme last night for me was spoiled by the banal and infantile presentation by the guy with all the hair. I missed the first 15 minutes so may have missed the context but clearly some outfit got the rights to make the film from the start - perhaps the BBC thought it would come to nothing so didn't bid or something - and they were the only ones who were interestd, so we were stuck with it.

BalloonSlayer Tue 05-Feb-13 09:27:45

"possible HVII had them murdered in an attempt to blacken RIII's name as much as he could, as early as he could. "

see that's the argument I don't get . . . why would Henry do something like that to try to blacken Richard's name when the one certain consequence of their deaths would be to put Richard firmly on the throne? The risk was enormous. If there had been any evidence Henry was involved Richard could have had him executed immediately and that would have been that.

Means, motive, opportunity - Richard had them all.

Not that I believe Henry was a noble prince, saving the nation from the evil Richard. He was just a chancer who saw the opportunity to get his hands on the throne and went for it. And Richard was exactly the same, IMO.

And as for "oooh nooo, Richard wasn't the sort of guy to kill people who got in his way" . . . . well that's exactly what he was doing when he was killed - he was fighting, charging up at Henry trying to kill him.

Hopefully the poor lady never trips over this thread. Channel 4 have done a nasty sniggery hatchet job on her enthusiasm.

She may well be a little... er... obsessed with the man, but I'm willing to bet Channel 4 cut out any scenes where she talked sensibly and knowledgeably about the subject. Much funnier to show a one-dimensional nutjob. hmm

SigmundFraude Tue 05-Feb-13 09:39:40

Haven't they used these facial reconstructions to identify murder victims with a pretty high success rate? I think they're reasonably accurate. It would be interesting to know whether the people doing the reconstruction looked at paintings of Richard III beforehand, or whether it was totally 'blind'.

The reaction of 'woo lady' to the reveal that RIII did indeed have scoliosis, after her unshakable belief that he did not collapsed in a heap, was priceless. There should be a word to describe it.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Tue 05-Feb-13 09:42:22

The bones showed he didn't have a withered arm, which would suggest that that at least was tudor propaganda.

SigmundFraude Tue 05-Feb-13 09:43:47

O right, now I feel guilty Leucan! Just to backpeddle a bit, I did say to DH (about her) that it would be amazing to be so knowledgeable and it must have been such a fantastic moment for her when they found him, not many historians get that kind of opportunity.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 05-Feb-13 09:43:58

"why would Henry do something like that to try to blacken Richard's name when the one certain consequence of their deaths would be to put Richard firmly on the throne?"

The best evidence is that the princes were still alive when Richard was firmly on the throne. They and other members of Richard's family were the legitimate heirs of Edward, which was a threat to Henry Tudor, not Richard, once Richard was dead. The bodies were never displayed by Henry at the time they were supposed to have died.... which he should have done really if he wanted to prove that Richard was a murderer. The children simply quietly disappeared.

LineRunner Tue 05-Feb-13 09:46:12

I had to turn the programme off. It was too annoying. I would have preferred a scientific discussion of the DNA analysis.

Also there has been plenty of 'reassessment' of R3 over the years. It's an industry. The battle is for control of the narrative. The bones and teeth will yield some interesting analysis about loads of stuff, but I agree with the OP that it's a red herring in terms of his character.

*Hopefully the poor lady never trips over this thread. Channel 4 have done a nasty sniggery hatchet job on her enthusiasm.

She may well be a little... er... obsessed with the man, but I'm willing to bet Channel 4 cut out any scenes where she talked sensibly and knowledgeably about the subject. Much funnier to show a one-dimensional nutjob.*

True but my MIL and quite a few of her friends are in the Richard III Society and some of them are really weirdly over invested in him. They talk about him as though he's their imaginary boyfriend. Very, very odd.

Honestly her ridiculous over dramatising and attention seeking totally spoiled the program for me. I wish they would have stuck to the facts and actually given us information rather than focusing on her.

greencolorpack Tue 05-Feb-13 09:52:58

I loved the show and if I had modern technology I would have recorded it/Iplayer and all that, cos I would love my children to see it. I loved the fact that she had a funny feeling where to dig, and she was right and after all that it probably is the real bones of the real Richard 111! But I did think she was drama queeny blubbing over the bones of a complete stranger long dead.

The big question is, who painted R on the car park floor? I bet there's some lowly council worker watching the show and laughing because the R isn't anything to do with dead monarchs.

I liked the fact that the face in the portraits looked a lot like Ibsen the Canadian descendant.

Sorry, Sigmund, not trying to catsbum the thread, just deeply pissed off that Channel 4 presented this woman to us as the fool we should snigger along at. It's mean. Couldn't we have had the history without ganging up on someone?

Over-investment in history is not the worst character trait someone can possess. Yes, it overshadowed the programme for me too, but I blame Channel4 editing for that, not the lady herself.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Tue 05-Feb-13 09:58:01

No leucan, you're right.

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Tue 05-Feb-13 10:00:20

The R presumably meant "Reserved".

"Residents" parking.

aldiwhore Tue 05-Feb-13 10:07:00

I think he was probably somewhere between a tyrant and a lovely chap... not unlike most monarchs.

I think Shakespeare's play is very biased, commissioned to show him as a bad sort, and not historically accurate at all (until the lions have historians only the hunter will be glorified etc etc) which has led to the counter argument of him being just lovely and 'such fun'. Which is natural.

I suspect the truth about the man is far more boring than any of the stories.

CalamityKate Tue 05-Feb-13 10:11:22

Well I sort of suspected that the Philippa woman seemed a bit, um, odd but then she mentioned dowsing rods and that confirmed it for me.

Miggsie Tue 05-Feb-13 10:14:18

Hmm...but he did declare himself king when clearly he should have taken the role of regent for his under age nephew...then they go into the Tower "to be safe" and never re-emerge...hmmmm.

Elizabeth Woodville only emerged when Richard offered to marry her daughter..again...hmmm.

Richard was popular in the North and a good Duke - but he should not have made himself king. The principle of primogeniture was active in his time - his nephews should have inherited their titles.

Even if there was Tudor propoganda slagging him off - he did some dodgy stuff.

Wife's suspicious death just after he becomes king anyone?????
Wanting to marry his own niece?????

poozlepants Tue 05-Feb-13 10:16:14

I am a historian by trade and I've met a few academics who have more than a little crush on their subjects of interest. I bet that lady has absolutely filthy dreams about Richard3.

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 10:18:44

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.

thegreylady Tue 05-Feb-13 10:20:48

All we learn from the bones is confirmation of the scoliosis and evidence of the injuries sustained in battle. It has long been known that the people of York admired and respected him. We can only guess at the fate of the princes but I think someone killed them on Richard's behalf with or without his compliance.

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 10:23:58

I think the imaginary boyfriend idea is spot on.

Not for all professional historians, though- I'd run may miles rather than have to be in close proximity with any of my research subjects; a distance of 900 years suits me very well indeed. Professional bores, the lot of them, and no doubt most unattractive in bed.

wildfig Tue 05-Feb-13 10:24:20

I have to agree with Leucan - I did wonder how much of Philippa's response was prompted by the off-screen director ("Ooh, how do you feel seeing his face at last?"). Obvs she's emotionally invested in Richard III to an obsessive degree, but since the filmmakers had no way of knowing at first whether the bones were his, or if they'd even find anything, they must have set off with a 'let's make a documentary about Richard III fanatics and their crazy ways' angle... only to find themselves in the middle of an actual documentary.

Yes, I agree with that cory, it's a really nasty take. I would hope maybe now, people wil reassess a bit? I mean, it's a bit shaming, isn't it, that we're so quick to say he couldn't have been disabled and it must be a slur because it only got mentioned late on, but maybe people at the time actually just didn't give a toss?

DorisIsWaiting Tue 05-Feb-13 10:26:34

She was pretty tragic, Dh likened it to a woman with a boyfriend on death row- despite the fact that to survive in middle ages and especially to rule required a degress of ruthlessness. It is unreasonable to judge by current social mores.

SigmundFraude Tue 05-Feb-13 10:33:06

'I am a historian by trade and I've met a few academics who have more than a little crush on their subjects of interest. I bet that lady has absolutely filthy dreams about Richard3.'


Lord Byron would be my historical crush of choice. Sadly I've never had filthy dreams about him, despite reading reams of literature about him.

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"


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. "


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.


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....

That's fascinating, cory, about the leper tombs.

I do think there is a medieval Catholic issue with some forms of disability - I do think that some people did think that sins showed on the body. Robert Mannyng (he wrote 'Handlyng Synne' around 1303-1317) is quite good on this. But what he talks about aren't problems people were born with, but things done to their bodies as punishments from God, which is a bit different.

There's also that link between kingliness and disability in that anointed kings were thought to be able to cure certain diseases by laying-on of hands, so I suppose that would make a link in people's minds.

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 11:08:52

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

"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. "

Very true.

And again, I think it is partly about the human need to adapt to and accept life as it is, but also (in the medieval period) about the fact that pain is perceived as doing something useful.

We think of it as something that gets in the way of the important things we ought to be doing: work, relationships, hobbies.

For a medieval Christian, the most important thing he or she ought to be doing is save his or her soul; there can be nothing else that is more important. They would have seen themselves as engaged in a spiritual war, where pain can be one of the weapons. So lying in bed in pain is not a waste of time: if you do it right, to the medieval Christian you are doing something important.

There are multiple handbooks about how to achieve a good death: again, something we try to minimise as much as we can, through sedatives and general sweeping under the carpet because it performs no useful purpose for us. But it did for them.

Btw, not a Tudors person really, but I think some of the issues with disability in Tudor England might be because people were moving out of their parishes rather more. You could claim support from your own parish, but if you moved away, you couldn't. So if lots of people moved to big cities to try to get jobs, then their disabilities overtook them, you can see how people might start scapegoating disabled people, perhaps? A bit like benefit bashing now?

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 11:11:38

What a hoot it must have been.
Someone give that leper an X-box.....

Thank fuck for the renaissance.

Love medieval history.....from, as a PP said, a safe distance.

cory - ohh, sorry, I am cross posting with you lots, but ... I just went to a talk last week by a woman called Amy Appleford. She was speaking on those books about good deaths, and she was saying how lots of the fifteenth-century ones seemed actually to be owned by very prosperous guildsmen in London. She had this fascinating theory about how these people, who were part of a corporate 'body' that was thriving, were also interested in the idea of the fragmented and suffering human body. She thinks maybe it is because these were people who were economically (and probably physically) very healthy, so they could 'afford' to spend their time thinking about disease and death and pain.

Interesting, I think?

Maybe it was similar with Richard - if you're king, you can perhaps afford the time to think about these things. I would love to know. I've not seen anything to link him to that but I will look now.

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

Argh....this is riveting, but I have to get some bloody work done.

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 11:13:38

Hi Cory grin

I'm meant to be working too. blush

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 11:13:47

I think there is a strong element of benefit bashing, LRD, coupled with the fact that the structures for supporting helpless people in a mutually positive way had collapsed with the dissolution of the monasteries. The money wasn't there any more, and the parish relief did not confer the same psychological benefits on the givers as the monastic alms system. The old system of monastic charity was in many ways a win-win situation, but it could only be maintained as long as people had faith in the system.

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 11:14:32

Also, these rich blokes could have afforded the newest treatments; could have taken themselves off for a few days to a leech spa and whatnot.

grin at 'leech spa'.

cory - yes, that makes total sense.

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 11:16:52

Right....that's it.
Sack off all these 1930's comparisons.
We're revisiting Tudor times right now.

Ladies.....we have a new theory.

mummytime Tue 05-Feb-13 11:17:36

Some of the hardening of attitudes to beggars and disabled etc. during Tudor time; was a consequence of the dissolution of the monasteries.
Before the dissolution, then Monastries often looked after the sick, disabled, and poor (maybe biased towards the "deserving" poor). However when Henry VIII dissolved them, suddenly they all became a burden on individual towns and villages (and of course the King snatched the Monastries wealth, not giving it to towns for the care of their poor).

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 11:19:31

The monks also became a burden, as they had to leave and go begging.

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 11:20:03

I suppose one big difference from now is that medicine was so unscientific that it probably made little difference then if you could afford the best doctors or not.

Good food, reasonable living conditions, healthy exercise without over hard labour- yes, those would have made a difference. But a learned doctor from Bologna or Sorbonne humming and ha-ing over the juxtaposition of the stars and composition of the elements of the body as opposed to the local wise woman- probably not. Medical literature from those days makes scary reading.

Whereas now, whether you live in a part of the world where you can get to a doctor and can afford a doctor makes a huge difference.

minouminou Tue 05-Feb-13 11:22:08

Stop drawing me innnnnnnnn.......

Trills Tue 05-Feb-13 11:22:49


It means there will be a resurgence of interest in him. That's about it.

They were very into putting stuff up your bum, IIRC. Lots of diagrammes of clyster pipes and so on. Nice!

I have heard someone suggest that it might be the reason Jane Seymour died, was basically that she had the 'best doctors' and they interfeared too much. She died of infection, and if you imagine people who knew nothing about sterilisation constantly examining you and trying to put their fingers up there ... it really wouldn't be good.

Trills Tue 05-Feb-13 11:32:34

If you like the idea of people being a teensy bit nuts and talking about Richard II as if he was their imaginary boyfriend (love that imagery) you might like this series of books, set in an alternate 1980s where people are really quite obsessed with books and historical figures and who Shakespeare really was.

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 11:32:35

"trying to put their fingers up there ... it really wouldn't be good."

Some quarters may beg to differ.


Bogeyface Tue 05-Feb-13 11:34:57

The Jane Seymour theory does have weight. Puerperal Fever was rife in lying in hospitals where doctors would routinely perform an autopsy on a woman who died of it and then examine another woman in labour or post birth, without washing in between.

The thought makes me shudder.

tiggytape Tue 05-Feb-13 11:36:50

That is interesting about the Catholic perception of physical disability (which Richard lived under) and the Protestant one (under which some Tudor works about him were later written). Anne Boleyn was said to have 6 fingers despite little / no direct evidence (from anyone who wasn't her enemy) to confirm this and this was also seen as an attempt to blacken her name.

In the case of Richard, his disability seems to have been emphasised after his death to discredit him (the Xrays of his portrait showed a prominent hump was added 60 years after his death). His skeleton confirms scoliosis which wouldn't have made him stooped at all but would mean one shoulder was higher.

It is also interesting that scoliosis is usually first noticed in adolescence so in terms of the deabte that disability at birth = saintly but acquired disability = sin, Richard's condition was something that struck him halfway through his life rather than something apparant at birth so maybe that affected how people judged him, if not when he was alive but in terms of how the Tudors judged him in retrospect.

bupcakes shock


carlajean Tue 05-Feb-13 13:20:31

I came on this thread because all the talk of 'good' and 'bad' monarchs annoys me so much (makes me think of 1066 and All That). Just want to say thank you to everybody who's contributed such interesting and well-informed posts. I love MN.

Miggsie Tue 05-Feb-13 13:31:05

Please note Henry the 8th was NOT a protestant! He actually held the title "defender of the faith" from the Pope and KAtherine PArr (who was a protestant) almost got arrested for it, but toned her ardour down a bit and apologised to Henry, who then didn't arrest her.

His son and daughter Elizabeth were Protestants but he wasn't.

He was a very profligate moarch with some very canny advisors who decided to take the church's money as they were the richest places in the country at the time and were exempt from tax!

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 13:36:22

Not saying that Henry VIII was personally a Protestant, only that changes in attitude happened during his reign which were consonant with Protestant ways of thinking.

sleepyhead Tue 05-Feb-13 13:45:05

What tiggy said - they found scoliosis, not a humpback. An S-shaped deformity which I imagine can't have been comfortable and would have made him more prone to arthritis etc though posture issues/uneven wear on joints if he'd lived long enough, but probably not all that evident to an observer on a day to day basis.

I also found the "he can't possibly have been disabled" thing from the Ricardians rather distasteful, but I guess they were just ignorant about the range and effects of spinal abnormalities.

SirBoobAlot Tue 05-Feb-13 14:02:50

A priest there? Really? hmm And if they had found out it was just an unlucky Roman solider? Then it would have looked foolish.

The standard was unnecessary, and made her look a bit mad, which was a shame because there was obviously a lot of research that had gone into it.

The "he can't possibly have been disabled" aspect didn't surprise me at all. Right up until - well, until now, in certainly places - recently, disability was seen as a curse from God. So for the Tudors to say he was disabled was equal to saying that HVII had done the right thing by removing someone unloved by God from the throne, and therefore saving the people of England from the Devil (Long Live The King, etc...). The RIII love crew disagree with that, and wanted to prove that everything negative said about him was pure propaganda. I don't think it was distasteful, and certainly wasn't a slight against disabled people; it was simply their love for an individual VS the need to dispel a myth.

cory Tue 05-Feb-13 14:08:10

SirBoob, different medieval takes on disability discussed further upthread. It's not quite as simple as "in the past they thought X".

But the religious ideas governing graves is funny; there is some regulation that they have to be re-interred in consecrated ground; dh who is an archaeologist always felt that was hard on the early Saxon burials.

Ime archaeologists hate finding skeletons (unless they are of really famous people) because of all the paperwork associated with exhuming a dead body: particularly frustrating on the last day of the dig with the machines waiting to move in and the developer who is paying hopping mad with impatience.

sleepyhead Tue 05-Feb-13 14:12:15

Sorry SirBoob, I think it does at least partially say something about how disability is thought of in the present rather than the past - as pp have said it's not so simple as in the bad old days disability=bad.

There were a couple of mentions of "well how could he have got armour on?". I think there was at least some romanticism of him as heroic warrior king who they wanted to be bodily "perfect" to fit their image. Of course he can still be a warrior king and have scoliosis.

SirBoobAlot Tue 05-Feb-13 14:15:01

No, I know Cory. It's very interesting. Just saying why I didn't find it distasteful for those interested who were involved deeply in last nights project to be so adamant he wouldn't be disabled. smile

Yes, skeletons are certainly both a blessing and a curse on a dig!

SirBoobAlot Tue 05-Feb-13 14:18:23

Disagree sleepy. Think that's a perfectly reasonable question to ask, even now. And if we ask the questions of people in the past - "how could he had got armour on?" - then we can apply the answers to the present - "Around 1% of the UK population have scoliosis, and you wouldn't be able to tell seeing them in the street".

People are afraid to ask questions about disability, and through lack of knowledge comes ignorance, which is far more dangerous. Always better to ask the questions.

Magrathea Tue 05-Feb-13 14:20:07

I did medieval history at university and studied this period.

Richard was a product of his time, ruthless certainly and able in Government but when you were one of the top nobles in a land which hade been in a state of civil war (on and off) for 100 years then these were qualities you had to have. His governorship of the North was generally thought to be good which is why he was well liked and respected in the Northern counties and had he got the luxury of time and been able to apply that leadership style on the national stage he would probably have gone down as a reasonably decent but somewhat unremarkable medieval monarch. The things he did manage to enact in two and a half years were pretty decent, putting England back in the black and reforming the justice system.

In terms of the princes in the tower, he probably did have them killed, there is also some evidence to suggest he had a hand in Henry VI murder as well. However, this was not unusual for monarchs and nobles at the time, Henry VII had the two strongest male claimants to the Yorkist line killed, one of them (the Earl of Warwick) would never have been a threat to him as he had learning difficulties and could never have been king. Indeed, if we look at other monarchs, Edward III had his own father killed in a very nasty way with a red hot poker, Henry IV had Richard II killed and these are not noted as being particularly tyranical - they are just a product of their times. At that time, England's governance was all out of balance with over mighty nobles and a relatively poor crown and someone always had their eyes on the crown or being the puppet master behind the throne - ruthlessness was just survival.

I dont really hold with the idea that Henry VII had the princes killed - he was certainly capable but I just dont see him having the opportunity and there is a lot of evidence that he would not have made the bid for the crown had Richard not usurped and caused a rift in the nobles.

Bosworth could very easily have gone the other way as most of the nobles held back to see who had the upper hand before committing. If it had gone the other way, Henry Tudor would not have been buried in any church but would most likely been quartered and sent to different parts of the Kingdom as a traitor.

But hey ho, that's history, it all turns on the roll of a dice and thats why I love the subject.

As for where he should be buried, being a Yorkshirewoman and not far from Middleham, my hear says York but in reality, Leicester is probably as good a place as any.

Re. Henry VIII and Protestantism - while I agree with cory that there were definite changes under Henry VIII, I think we're talking Humanism and a Protestant influence? And Elizabeth I is C of E, but I'm not convinced that is the same thing as Protestantism, at least not the way she set it out. I think it is possible to see some of that individualism in late-medieval Catholicism, too. Lollards believe in something very like 'priesthood of all believers'. So I think the ideas were circulating, but perhaps hadn't yet got to affecting people's views on disability - maybe it just all takes a while to permeate?

GreatUncleEddie Tue 05-Feb-13 14:32:32

You people who know about this stuff - how bad was it that the bones specialist woman smashed the skull with her mattock? I thought she looked a bit embarrassed grin

I don't thnik there is any real evidence that he wasn't a really nice bloke. SHakespeare did a number on him.

GUE - if you look at the last dozen posts on this thread, there's a specialist posting on it (how cool is that)!

Magrathea Tue 05-Feb-13 14:44:24

LRD - I agree that those ideas were starting to take hold around this time, there is evidence that Henry VII was influenced by humanist writings and was very keen to encourage his son in all aspects of knowledge by building a library and collecting a huge number of works on all subjects. We shouldnt also forget that Henry VII pretty well single handedly kept the inquisition out of England. Given the difficulties (and the expense) Henry VI was having with Rome for dispensation for Catherine to marry Henry and the fallout following the death of the last Borgia pope, it is no wonder he was suspicious of the workings of the Catholic church if not the dogma. It is likely he passed this on to his son.

GreatUncleEddie Tue 05-Feb-13 14:46:08

Thank you LRD - hadn't seen that. So not that bad then, just one of those things. Bet she wished it hadn't been Richard III's skull though, and on tv!

magrathea - yes, that certainly makes sense. I think England had a long history of being slightly suspicious of the Papacy and much more inclined to be independent of it than some European countries. There hadn't been an English Pope for centuries, and England had backed the 'wrong' Pope during the Schism, which was less than a hundred years before Henry VII came to the throne. So i think he could well have been suspicious.

GUE - god, yes! Poor woman. I've not seen it but I imagine you'd feel awful.

SaggyOldClothCatpuss Tue 05-Feb-13 14:58:56

I'm a closet Ricardian, but I don't necessarily think he was a jolly nice bloke. I think he was a man who did what he thought was right. I personally don't think he did kill the princes in he tower, but even I be did, I can think of many many monarchs who did awful things. Look at the Tudors. The most blood thirsty bunch of people ever! Henry killed thousands of people, put innocents to death. Murdered an old lady because she had a claim to his throne. Elizabeth murdered her cousin. She ruled the 'Golden Age', is a heroine of history. Edward put his uncle to death. Mary was foul! That's just one branch of the monarchy. Richard was king for 2 years and might have had his nephews killed. What makes him any more evil than any of the others?

IfNotNowThenWhen Tue 05-Feb-13 15:06:36

I have nothing intelligent to add to this, but this is funny..

Magrathea Tue 05-Feb-13 15:31:59

Catpuss - He wasnt really better or worse than any of the other monarchs of the time. I think one of Richard's problems is that he didnt have time to be famous for anything else. All the Tudors had long reigns and were famous for acts that had a tumultuous effect on English history so whilst they were bloodthirsty in the main, Elizabeth and Henry VIII kind of get away with it because there are other things to draw our attention, wives, dissolution of the monasteries, Armada etc. The exception to this is probably Mary who, if you did a poll in a shopping centre would probably come out as being the more evil and unhinged of the two.

That coupled with the Tudor (and not forgetting the Woodville) propaganda around Richard has led to our image of him.

LaQueen Tue 05-Feb-13 15:42:05

"There's also that link between kingliness and disability in that anointed kings were thought to be able to cure certain diseases by laying-on of hands, so I suppose that would make a link in people's minds."

LRD medieval kings were genuinely thought to be able to cure scrofula just by laying their hands on the sufferer, I think.

EllieArroway Tue 05-Feb-13 15:46:53

ellie it matters because it gives an insight into how accurate the Tudor propaganda was

That's not what I meant.....or what I said. It's matters historically, yes. I was talking about her emotional need for Richard to be one type of person rather than another. That's rather odd.

LaQ - yes ... I mentioned it on the other thread ... it is fascinating stuff. But it was also about being disabled, I think. Though I'm not sure they'd have thought of it under an umbrella term like 'disabled' at all.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 16:10:04

God I love MN sometimes.

Is there a History section?

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 16:12:07

And as I said ad nauseum on the other thread, i don't think Tricky Dickie would have been regarded as "disabled" at all, rather just another man with another quirk. Deformity and abnormality would have been more common than it is now. I have scoliosis, and so far (age 37) it hasn't stopped me doing anything. Not even donning a suit of armour and wielding a broadsword smile

There is. smile

Please tell me you can use a broadsword?!

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 16:18:11

Sorry, I was fibbing grin

I used to do fencing though. Does that count?

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 16:18:51

Oh that section definitely needs some more traffic!


I feel so betrayed.

But yes, fencing is pretty cool too. I can't do either, so I'm not one to talk.

That section does need more traffic! It got started after the first Richard III thread went mammoth and then went into classics. I think there are quite a lot of us who love history and when there's a good thread, it will run and run into hundreds of posts, but quite often they go into classics. 'Ways of Dying in 1665' is in there too.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 16:34:12

Ooh that's the one my bezzie MN mate started. I'll have to look out the Classic RIII thread.

I'm still trying to fathom why, particularly women, people go so bananas over him. It's as though they genuinely fancy him - I thought she was going to snog that waxwork. Though I do think John of Gaunt must have been a bit of alright....

I admit, I tend to think John of Gaunt is like in 'Katharine'. He probably wasn't, TBH. Edward IV was meant to be tall and gorgeous, though someone's description of him binging and purging has put me off a tad.

I don't quite get the 'sexy men from the past' thing. They'd all have rotten breath.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 16:49:36

Yes, but did you see his portrait? I know he was the glorious sunne of yorke and all that, but, but but....I'm not feeling the love.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 16:51:36

And also he was Henry VIII's grandad. I find the physical similarities quite striking. He was another who was supposed to be the finest prince in all of Christendom and stuff, and his portraits sadly don't do him justice. I do think they both had a liking for gorging, puking and roistering though. Hence their shape as they aged.

MadBusLady Tue 05-Feb-13 17:02:21

There is this Edward IV one. I wonder if this was from when he was slightly younger? (Or a copy of a younger one at least, I think they're mostly copies).

And JoG yes. All man. And giant moustache.

Mmm, yes, I take your point ariel. But then I suppose they had a different idea of what was sexy.

I now have an image of JoG as a German pornstar. Thanks for that, mad. hmm

MadBusLady Tue 05-Feb-13 17:13:48


ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 17:18:04

Oh J of G was ALL MAN grin

It's the Yorkist pursed rosebud mouths which kills it for me. And the bobbed hair do's. But yes, I guess they would have had different ideas of male beauty, just as they did female beauty. Did you see the Elizabeth Woodville portrait? She looked bald.

Next thing I'll find out is that my hero Montague was actually a one legged dwarf with a squint sad

SirBoobAlot Tue 05-Feb-13 17:41:20

If we're fawning over ancient men... Robert Dudley. Rawr.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 17:45:28

confused Not seeing it. Sorry.

Clytaemnestra Tue 05-Feb-13 18:06:43

I think people think Richard III is sexy due to the whole misunderstood tragic hero thing. If you believe in that rather than the nephew murdering psycho version. Although people do marry men on death row, so maybe there is an element of that too?

Henry II. No idea what he actually looked like but get the impression he'd be great fun in bed.

SirBoobAlot Tue 05-Feb-13 18:37:16

Going back further in time... Seti I. He's even an attractive mummy.

Mytholmroyd Tue 05-Feb-13 18:43:13

There is a campaign to bring him home and bury him in York Minster where he apparently wanted to be laid to rest rather than Leicester (which makes little sense) or failing that as a sovereign he should be in Westminster Abbey. MoJ would have to amend the burial license though.

Going back to facial reconstructions, they rely on the human eye/brain being more attuned to recognising similarities rather than differences. So, in the forensic context in which they were developed, as long as they bear enough similarities to the victim to enable people who knew them to say "Hey that looks a bit like Auntie Mabel" they have done their job. And those sorts of similarities (ie familial similarities) are rooted in head shape, face width, cheek bones, forehead height etc. Think how many times you have looked at someone and thought "She looks like so and so". Human ability to recognise superficial face similarities over anything else is why people say my DDs look so similar and they can get away using each others driving licenses but I think they look nothing like each other.

I have seen some stunningly good facial reconstructions done by the now-retired Richard Neve and latterly Caroline Wilkinson who was his student originally and she did this one - photos of the actual person and the reconstruction side by side. Richard even had to do one once to take to a conference in Germany - they sent him a plastic skull to reconstruct and take with him, and when he got there, found out it was a 3D print of an academic who was alive and kicking and present. He didn't get the nose quite big enough but it was a remarkable likeness!

Someone linked to this on the other thread, about York and burial places:

And its what I have been saying!

Miggsie Tue 05-Feb-13 18:49:19

Ahem - there is no proof at all that Edward the Third had anything to do with the murder of Edward the second, and there's no evidence Isabella did either.

There is now new evidence that Edward the 2nd wasn't actually murdered...and the red hot poker stories only emerged 100 years after Edward the second's funeral.

I think Marlowe's presentation of Edward the Second is even more fanciful than Shakespeare's historical characters.


You ... you mean, Braveheart lied?!

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 19:00:11

Oh my lord! Do you mean that actually Wallace DID NOT father Edward III as well?

Say it isn't so.

(Wasn't she about 9 years old, in real life, as opposed to about 25?)

I will admit I have a huuuge soft spot for the opening voiceover to Braveheart, that lovely hammed-up 'history is written by those who have hanged heroes ...'

GetOrf Tue 05-Feb-13 19:33:31

Elizabeth Woodville would have had her hairline plucked in accordance with the fashions of the time, iirc, hence the bald look. She was a reputed beauty - think it comes across in her portrait.

I love the portrait of Henry VII in the NPG - the small one where he looks weasily and cunning. Such personality in that painting - and not at all flattering of the subject imo.

GetOrf Tue 05-Feb-13 19:38:14

As an aside, Edward II is buried in Gloucester cathedral, so not all kings are in Westminster.

It is in a rather mediocre tomb as well, just down the side. You wouldn't think it was the tomb of a king.

Clytaemnestra Tue 05-Feb-13 19:38:56

Going back to being a bit mean - have you seen the photo of the presenter woman and the waxwork on the Guardian? It looks like she wants to eat him.


MoleRat Tue 05-Feb-13 19:44:17

Am I the only one who likes the fact we will never know who killed the young princes? I love the bits of history where we will never fully know/ understand exactly what happened

Obviously learning and discovering more is amazing and I love studying history but sometimes the cold, hard facts are just that- it's nice to have a bit of mystery grin

Also in terms of hot historical figures, I've always thought Prince Albert was a bit of a looker wink

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 19:44:22

It is a little unfortunate, that photo, but actually I warmed to the piece she wrote far more than I did to her presence on the programme last night.

Mytholmroyd Tue 05-Feb-13 19:52:20

Yes GetOrf you are right I guess, but Leicester???

Also, given how much they transported bones of royalty and nobles around its often a bit of a surprise when tombs are opened what is actually present and what is not...

mummytime Tue 05-Feb-13 20:02:14

I think Henry I is in Reading.

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 20:08:18

Are we doing historical fantasy boffs?

Richard the Lionheart. Phwoar. Or Phwoarth.

Hark at GetOrf, the history buff! Don't tell me you're not looking at Woodville thinking "slaphead", GetOrf wink

A question: in paintings from this era, why do all of the subjects have brown eyes?

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 20:10:40

Oh GIVE OVER, Buppers.

Richard the Lionheart? To quote Stephen Fry, he wasn't really in the vagina business.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 20:11:18

Maybe they didn't have blue paint?

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 20:18:58

I could have turned him by displaying my wimple at him...

GetOrf Tue 05-Feb-13 20:22:10

My favourite name in the world is Berengaria (after Richard's wife, poor cow, left half the time in italy or france or cyprus as he gallivanted around crusading.

Lol at slaphead.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 20:23:14
GetOrf Tue 05-Feb-13 20:25:25

Bups perhaps they all had brown eyes, yer daft twat grin

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 20:27:46

What? EVERYONE painted in those times had brown eyes?! Don't be a cunt, Getorf!

That reconstructed head of Rich III looks like Nadia who won Big Brother 3.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 20:30:02

Minus the implants.

Surely Henry VIII, who was a ginger, had blue eyes. And the golden Sunne of Yorke.

bupcakes - while I think getorf might be right, it might also be to do with pigments. Which I know fuck all about, although one of my supervisors is an art historian so she would probably like it if I did.

I think to get blue you need lapis lazuli, or azurite (which is a copper carbonate), or indigo and woad. Lapis is really expensive, and I think the others tend to fade or darken. So I wonder if the colours are 'true'.

happybirthdayHiggs Tue 05-Feb-13 20:32:50

William Marshal, now there's a knight in shining armour sigh

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 20:37:46

Nooo, I am Googling portraits from the middle ages/Tudor times etc and there is blue involved in many of them but all brown-eyed peoples. confused

Google doesn't know why either?!

Can you ring your mate LRD and ask her?

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 20:39:42
fairylightsinthesnow Tue 05-Feb-13 20:40:08

sorry, haven't read whole thread but WRT to the princes, not only did Richard have opportunity and motive, he had form; he and Edward IV definitely DID have Henry VI killed while he was their prisoner in the tower in an attempt to end any future Lancastrian reassertion. It doesn't prove anything at all, but does at least do away with the idea that he was not capable of murder when it was politically expedient to do so. If you want to put a positive spin on it you could argue that he took the throne and did away with the princes so that there would be a capable adult on the throne with the authority to deal with Woodville faction. As Lord Protector his ability to deal with the Woodville men, like Anthony and Earl Rivers would have been more limited, especially as Edward V loved his Woodville uncles and may well have preferred their company and advice. Given the turmoil that the country had been through, you could argue that he did it for the greater good smile. Underage kings are nearly ALWAYS a disaster. Some people cite the fact that Henry Tudor rewarded the acknowledged likely assassins (Forrest and Deighton) with land when he was king as proof that he was behind it, but he can be grateful for their actions without having ordered them himself. He simply did not have the opportunity - even his mother, who was in London at the time and scheming witch by all accounts, could not have pulled it off. The Tower was not a trifling prison, it was serious and its security was tight. Also in 1483 Henry Tudor was not a realistic candidate and he had very little support. The picture is different in 1485.

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 20:40:31

Shit the bed 8th row, last picture on the right, that's me not sleeping tonight...

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 20:43:09

Medieval fap!

<rubs knickerbockers>

bupcakes - she's not my mate, she's my very patient PhD supervisor to whom I've just send off some work a month late, so no, I'm not going to tell her I'm really ignorant in her subject. blush

I bet someone else on MN knows. Maybe they just thought it was fashionable? Loads of manuscripts always do the eyes in black even when they use blue, come to think.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 20:44:08

This one looks blue eyed.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 20:44:51

He looks like a bird who's swallowed a plate.

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 20:44:53

Oh ok. sad

DH is saying that maybe in those times, it was believed that brown eyes made one look more intelligent or of better stock so maybe they requested brown eyes?

It does, doens't it?

I think Elizabeth I genuinely did have brown eyes. But then IIRC that's David Starkey's description and we all know male historians called David aren't much cop.

BupcakesAndCunting Tue 05-Feb-13 20:45:52

That one looks like a medieval Christopher Walken grin

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 20:46:37

Elizabeth had her mother's eyes - Anne Boleyn a dark eyed six fingered sexpot.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 20:46:44


motherinferior Tue 05-Feb-13 20:48:16

I cannot believe nobody has linked to this, which is surely the Last Word on the topic.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 05-Feb-13 20:49:56

Oh they have. Maybe not on this thread, but certainly on the others!

Viviennemary Tue 05-Feb-13 20:50:16

It is quite amazing and nice that people are so passionate about their subject. I was wondering too if it will be C of E or Catholic for reburial. He would have been Catholic surely. I must say I didn't for a moment think they would find anything.

They said on the news it'd be a Christian service with C of E and Catholics in attendance.

I am being a stickler, but modern Catholicism is so very different from medieval anyway, it seems a bit sad to me. I hope they work some nice Latin into it for him.

SaggyOldClothCatpuss Tue 05-Feb-13 21:18:35

If we're doing kings we would do, I think naughty king John sounds like a character, and I bet he'd have been fun in bed! grin

On the subject of blue eyes, is it possible that most people did have brown eyes, but at some point blue eyes were brought in, possibly from Nordic regions. I'm sure blue eyes are dominant, so could well have taken hold in a fairly short time.
This happened in welsh ponies, not the same I know, but at one time there were no grey ponies, but the Grey gene is dominant, and once a white stallion did appear, within a decade or so, 60%+ were white.
my knowledge of genetics stretches as far as equine colour btw, just speculating.


Re: Daughter of Time. It's years since I read it, but if you've just finished it could you tell me if it contains anything unsuitable for a 9 year old? Because . . .


My DS (9) and DD (6) have just sat and watched it this evening on 4OD. DH and I watched it yesterday and decided that DS would find it really interesting. It was a pleasant surprise to see that DD also enjoyed it.

LaQueen Tue 05-Feb-13 21:39:16

GOML is perfectly right. During the mid 1400s it was considered highly fashionable for women to pluck back their natural hair line (ouch) and pretty much pluck out all their eyebrows...nice.

But, Elizabeth Woodville was considered exceptionally beautiful by the standards of her day - as was her mother Jacquetta, Dowager Duchess of Bedford.

Even one of Elizabeth's Haterz described her a dangerous enchantress, as I recall? And, let's face it - she must have been damned hot totty considering that Edward married her, and in doing so faced the wrath of his nobles and ruined an important peace treaty with France.

I reckon she must have been bleddy gawjus, and banged like a privy door when the plague was in town...

I am pretty sure some medieval people had blue eyes. It is vanishingly unlikely they wouldn't, given that the Danes had been kicking around for a good while. And while I know being blond/redhead doesn't automatically mean you have blue eyes, I think it'd be unlikely to have lots of blondes/redheads and no blue-eyed people.

Someone wise has just suggested to me when I burbled my ignorance to her, that they did used to think dark eyes were prettier. Which is pretty much what someone said upthread about intelligence.

It is fascinating how ideas about what's attractive change, isn't it? It is amazing thinking plucked foreheads were once pretty.

Trills Tue 05-Feb-13 21:49:12

Blue eyes are not dominant, they are recessive.

Trills Tue 05-Feb-13 21:51:10

Plucked foreheads sound awful, but a low hairline is still considered less attractive/unintelligent/neanderthal.

SaggyOldClothCatpuss Tue 05-Feb-13 21:57:23

Oh, sorry, I did say I wasnt that hot on non equine genetics. blush

So what colour eyes are dominant in horses? Or does it depend on the breed of horse?

Trills Tue 05-Feb-13 22:15:15

As with any discussion of genetics it's a bit more complicated than that (of course) smile

Genetics of coat colour in animals can be lots of fun. Do you like this cat?

Oh, wow. That is amazing!

I did know of someone's dad when we were little who had one brown eye and one blue, but that cat is something else! Why does it happen?

SaggyOldClothCatpuss Tue 05-Feb-13 22:24:19

Brown Im assuming. You do get blue eyed horses, but its not common. Coat colour is my thing. Its fascinating!

It sounds it!

I'm afraid I am at the 'horse white. horse pretty. horse brown. horse muddy' level of it all. blush

Ok, here's verbatim from someone who reckons she knows another reason other than the black eyes being pretty one. FWIW.

Isolated small blue points can look darker because of pigment concentration. If thinned significantly, then blue pigment can look greenish-brown due to interference of parchment, or bluish-black if the pencil layer shows through. Basically, small bits of color are hard to identify precisely. Also depends on whether aquamarine or azurite are used.

Bored yet? Sorry, I am being anal. blush

Am I missing something here? How does mitachondrial DNA conclusively prove the skeleton is Richard the 3rd? Anyone could have the same mitachondrial dna, it could have come from a woman 1,000 years before Richard III and passed down through completely different people, this could be an almost unrelated skeleton... or a cousin... I don't like how concretely they are taking the genetic evidence...

Mimishimi Wed 06-Feb-13 02:35:03

Richard was their guardian and had the princes sent to the Tower from the moment their father died. After they disappeared, he was crowned. I'd say it's fairly likely he was behind it, whoever else may have benefited from it after Richard's death. If Richard was not behind it, it's highly unlikely he would have allowed himself to be crowned in the hope that they might yet be found.

And saying that someone does not look cruel/evil etc from reconstruction of their facial features based on skull structure? Ridiculous especially since it's character lines formed by habits ( not genetics) that primarily give some clue to their personality.

EllieArroway Wed 06-Feb-13 07:13:35

Richard does look a bit like Nadia from BB - but he looks even more like Madeline Kahn, I reckon:

BTW - I think the Anne Boleyn 6 fingered thing was a later assertion - trying to blacken her character etc. When they found her skeleton there was no extra finger.

EllieArroway Wed 06-Feb-13 07:13:45
mummytime Wed 06-Feb-13 07:24:13

The DNA evidence alone wouldn't have proved it as flyingspaghettimonster so rightly puts it. The DNA evidence proves that the skeleton was from the same maternal line as Richard III, but it could be someone else related directly by that line.

However: the wounds are totally consistent with those known to be inflicted on Richard III, both before and after death. The skeleton had had a high status diet, even richer than rich monks (never mind relatively poor Greyfriars). It was buried in the Choir of the Abbey Church, which also indicates high status. Their is a Historical record that he was buried at Greyfriars (a previous search for the body had looked at the wrong Abbey, the Blackfriars). So even before the DNA they were pretty sure it was Richard III, the DNA just makes the evidence pretty overwhelming

GetOrf Wed 06-Feb-13 10:02:56

Catherine of Aragon had blue eyes - she had pale colouring and red hair (inheritied presumably from her English antecedents).

There is a minature here here which shows she had blue eyes.

And look at this - the eyes are dark but look closely and they don't appear to be brown, rather a very dark blue/grey.

GetOrf Wed 06-Feb-13 10:09:37

That is very interesting LRD about the burial places of kings.

So may pre-William the Conqueror were interred in the west country - dorset, Winchester, Glastonbury. I wonder why.

And a lot more than I thought are in St George's Chapel Windsor.

BupcakesAndCunting Wed 06-Feb-13 10:21:24

Wasn't that area (west country) considered to be very spiritual during that era? And wasn't it the centre of religion back then? I remember learning about Arthurian stuff at school but that was a LOT few years back now. off to Google...

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Wed 06-Feb-13 10:24:26

Myths <scornful>

The REAL Arthur was Welsh.

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Wed 06-Feb-13 10:37:46

I reckon she must have been bleddy gawjus, and banged like a privy door when the plague was in town...

Best. Quote. Ever.

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Wed 06-Feb-13 10:44:48

Grey eyes were fashionable when Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet. There's a quote somewhere (might be in the 'she doth teach the torches to burn bright' speech) about famous beauties not comparing to Juliet, and it mentions (I think) Thisbe being a grey eye. Which, according to my Higher English recollections, meant she was beautiful.

getorf - I think because the West Country was rich and Christianized? The danelaw was full of Danes (and that's sort of Lincolnshire/bits of Nottinghamshire and upwards, basically). I am not an Anglo-Saxonist though. Thank god.

Btw, a learned friend has just informed me that in Medieval Romance, women are considered most beautiful if their eyes are green or grey, not blue. Interesting. I coulda got the same from the gospel according to Anya Seton, but still.

Ha! Nice cross-post.

Pyramus had eyes as green as leeks. I remember that.

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Wed 06-Feb-13 10:51:09

grin I remember that because I have grey/greeny eyes. <preens in a medieval sort of way>


I have brown eyes. If I had my picture painted, in 500 years people would be saying 'so why did they paint them all like that then, boring!'. wink

Trills Wed 06-Feb-13 11:01:57

What colour are yes if people say "hazel"? Is it just a light brown?

GetOrf Wed 06-Feb-13 11:02:37

lol at thank god you're not an anglo saxonist.

I suppose Wessex was a rich area - just wondered why more kings werent' buried in London. Presumably London was still the most important city in those times. God knows actually, I know nothing about that era at all.

GetOrf Wed 06-Feb-13 11:03:37

I always think hazel is greeny/yellowy/brown.

My dull eyes are grey/blue/green, depending what colour jumper I have got on. A nondescript colour really.

Trills Wed 06-Feb-13 11:03:48

That cat is all about X-inactivation.

In humans, I'm not so sure.

kimorama Wed 06-Feb-13 11:23:30

He was bent and crooked (sorry)

I always think hazel are brown with green flecks. It sounds pretty, anyway.

London wasn't very important really. It's still a backwater in lots of ways until quite late on. I work on manuscript books, and basically (she says, generalizing to the sound of book historians shuddering) London isn't a centre for book making until maybe 1350-1400, at which point it really kicks off. Before that places like Worcester and East Anglia and York were much more literate and cultured-y.

It was a political capital, but lots of other cities had good claims to be more important in terms of religion (which obviously has a lot to do with where you want to be buried).

Did you know, until Lincoln Cathedral tower was built, the highest man-made building in the world was the pyramids? And then the tower fell down again, and the highest man made building in the world was ... the pyramids.

But there was a point when Lincoln was quite up-and-coming, which is such a bizarre concept to us now. Norwich too. It's really odd how cities that are important have changed so much.

Trills Wed 06-Feb-13 11:29:29

Exactly, hazel sounds pretty, so write it in books where you have to describe someone's eye colour smile

minouminou Wed 06-Feb-13 11:30:17

To Flyingspghettimonster

The mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA analysis has come on a bit in recent years - you can identify loads of subclades within each haplotype now, so it can all be narrowed down quite a bit.

I'm one of the group Brian Sykes has dubbed Jasmine.....'cos I'm dead classy and exotic, like.

I emailed Dr Turi King earlier today, and she responded to say RIII's groupings will all be revealed when the paper's published.......ooooohhhh.....exciting.....

We should definitely write a medieval novel on MN, trills. We could include a parti-coloured cat.

minouminou Wed 06-Feb-13 11:32:12

The team also probably looked for other markers as well as just mDNA and whatnot.

I wonder if there's a marker for tyrant....... (just joshing)

Trills Wed 06-Feb-13 11:59:33

minou I liked the first half of The Seven Daughters of Eve but thought it got a bit silly when he made up life stories for each of the mitochondrial ancestors.

minouminou Wed 06-Feb-13 12:09:30

I know...I remember reading about Jasmine and her early efforts at farming on what she called her "experimental plot". I thought - she never called it that.....

An account of what the women's lives were probably like, written at a bit of a remove, would have come across much better.

SaggyOldClothCatpuss Wed 06-Feb-13 12:10:30

I have hazel eyes. They're kind of browny greeny sludge coloured, until I get a cold or cry, when the red of my face turns them vivid green.

Trills Wed 06-Feb-13 12:11:09

If I want to read about prehistoric women inventing stuff I'll go the whole hog and read the Earth's Children books, thanks. smile

BupcakesAndCunting Wed 06-Feb-13 12:21:49

My eyes are green. <adjusts ruff>

cory Wed 06-Feb-13 13:11:58

flyingspaghettimonster Wed 06-Feb-13 01:54:52
"Am I missing something here? How does mitachondrial DNA conclusively prove the skeleton is Richard the 3rd? Anyone could have the same mitachondrial dna, it could have come from a woman 1,000 years before Richard III and passed down through completely different people, this could be an almost unrelated skeleton... or a cousin... I don't like how concretely they are taking the genetic evidence..."

It's considered (fairly) conclusive because it fits in with the other evidence: grave from the right period, male skeleton, buried in the church where we know Richard was buried, in a part of the church suggesting high status, with battle wounds and a deformity which fits well with the descriptions of (admittedly somewhat later) historians. So it's just another part of the jigsaw, not something that would stand up on its own. We don't know of any other relatives of Richard who were killed in battle and buried in Leicester and suffered from deformities of the spine.

HazeltheMcWitch Wed 06-Feb-13 13:42:38

Exactly, hazel sounds pretty


Abra1d Wed 06-Feb-13 14:13:32

What is really heartening me is that so many people are excited about this discovery! We are obviously still gripped by our country's history. Perhaps it will encourage a whole generation of children to find out more about the Plantaganets.

MadBusLady Thu 07-Feb-13 09:07:05


I first read DoT when I was about 9. smile Some of the social background hasn't aged at all well. At one point the main character says, quite seriously "Mary Stuart was six foot tall. All tall women are sexually frigid, ask any doctor" confused. But the language is generally very suitable for 9 I think - stretching but clearly written - and all the scenes where the characters are discussing the history are great. That quote is about the worst thing in it I can think of (from a number of points of view!)

Cairncake Thu 07-Feb-13 17:50:20

This is my kind of thread, quite enjoying it.

Well 'our Dicken' should be reburied at York methinks, he wanted to be and he was popular there.

Henry VII's wife, Elizabeth of York, was the eldest daughter of Edward IV, so she had more right to rule than Richard, the princes and Henry. Her descendents have royal Plantaganet blood through her. During Charles II's time, two sets of bones of children were found, Westminster Abbey I think, and were reburied, being 'claimed' to be the murdered princes Edward and Richard. I wonder if they end up being dug up and tested. They were reputed to have been found with traces of velvet, a high status fabric.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Thu 07-Feb-13 17:53:15

Primogeniture though? Would she have more right to have ruled than Richard or the boys?

Cairncake Thu 07-Feb-13 18:10:05

Indeed, she was a girl so being even the 'firstborn' gave her no rights, but she was the elder sister of the murdered Edward V. Richard's wife and son died, he had no direct descendents other than nieces and nephews, or siblings. The princes were declared illegitimate (wrongly), and Richard supported this legislation, because it then made him next in line.

MadBusLady Thu 07-Feb-13 09:07:05

>>>>> I first read DoT when I was about 9. smile Some of the social background hasn't aged at all well. At one point the main character says, quite seriously "Mary Stuart was six foot tall. All tall women are sexually frigid, ask any doctor". But the language is generally very suitable for 9 I think - stretching but clearly written - and all the scenes where the characters are discussing the history are great. That quote is about the worst thing in it I can think of (from a number of points of view!) <<<<<

Yes, that quote sounds dreadful! But from the rest of what you've said it sounds very much worth digging it out for him from wherever it is on the bookcase. [If I wasn't trying to read book 2 of Game of Thrones before series 3 starts on the telly, I'd be really tempted to re-read it myself! grin ]

Mytholmroyd Thu 07-Feb-13 21:27:22

The "high status diet" thing is no more concrete than the DNA though - sadly - it is entirely dependent on where you were from and when you lived.

"High-status" and "low-status" diets in medieval England (i.e. after people started eating a lot more fish following a church directive) were precisely the opposite if you were from Scotland where the rich ate beef and lamb etc and the poor, if they were lucky, got only salmon and other fish which were cheap and relatively plentiful.

There is a tale of a Scottish gentleman who went to London with his servant and ordered beef at an inn and said his servant should only have salmon - and then was shocked and baffled when the beef cost 8 pence and the salmon 8 shillings!

All this sort of analysis can say is where the protein he ate was likely to have come from (plants, terrestrial animals, marine fish etc). It cannot say how much meat he ate or what status he had - that is just somebody's interpretation based on a comparison with other people and their animals and I don't think he was buried with his cows and chickens! Neither can it tell the difference between the best fillet steak and oxtail.

If it were all sorted I'd be out of a job! grin

I think as well, they've found even quite poor people had pretty good diets in terms of protein being nice and available.

I was struck that his teeth seemed to be in pretty good nick, but apparently that's not very unusual either.

Mytholmroyd Thu 07-Feb-13 22:11:24

Yes LRD teeth are often far better than we think they ought to be - it varies between different periods with access to sugars - no cane sugar for example in medieval England just naturally occurring honey, fruits, beet and grains. Also, people tended to have more abrasive diets so they might not have got obvious decay but they did wear them down far more than we do today (or the decaying parts got worn away...)

There are lots of nutritional, health or environmental factors that can make you look like you ate a lot of meat or a "high-status" diet - if you are breastfeeding, starving (and thus "eating" yourself) or you put the contents of your chamber pot on your fields to fertilize them you will look pretty "high-status" with this sort of technique. So yes, poor people can look like they had a "good" diet.

You don't need meat though to grow big and strong - the Irish poor lived on a diet of potatoes and buttermilk with very little else but were renowned for being amongst the tallest people in the 18th/19th century.

Its just not that simple even when you have whole cemetery of skeletons and their rubbish dump to analyse - so taking one isolated individual who is buried somewhere he didn't live makes it even more difficult to reconstruct his diet with any certainty.

That makes sense - the no sugar. I'd not thought about the decaying bits wearing away. Ouch!

That is fascinating about breasteeding and starving. Wow. I've only ever looked at diets from records (Campsey Ash priory kitchens!) of what people were putting down they'd eaten. But if they're using this as one means to try to confirm who the skeleton was, it's not going to work well.

It is really interesting, though!

Trills Fri 08-Feb-13 09:17:46

I love it when books tell us what people ate, how it was prepared, etc. It often doesn't sound very appealing.

BalloonSlayer Fri 08-Feb-13 11:14:18

I guess that when you don't have a highly-flavoured/sugared diet you taste subtle flavours all the more, trills.

A friend of mine had terrible thrush so she went on a no-sugar diet to try to get rid of it. I can't remember whether it worked but she lost tons of weight. although she hadn't been overweight to start with, and found she couldn't bear certain foods that she had always considered savoury because they were so unbearably sweet. I expect a baked apple sweetened with half a teaspoon of honey would have felt like a decadent treat for her!

I'm like that - I wasn't allowed a lot of sugar as a child so I really enjoy things quite sour. I have a sweet tooth now but I was well into my 20s before I got it and lots of things still taste too sweet to me.

My mate made gingerbread from a medieval recipe and that was delicious - all dark and sticky, with honey and lots of spices. I've heard that Middle Eastern food is actually very similar to English medieval, as you'd use the same combinations of meat with fruit and spice quite a lot.

Although, if you want really unappealing stuff, I've just been reading a Middle English romance where a man has gone half-wild and is eating food with the dogs. This woman feels sorry for him so she washes out her greyhound's mouthes with wine (poor dogs!), and gives one of them a loaf of bread and the other some roast meat, which he then eats out of the dogs' mouths. Niiiiice!

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