Feb.4, 2013. A lost King is freed from the clutches of history, and returned to the real world to look us in the face. King Richard is dead; Long Live King Richard.
University of Leicester Announces Discovery of King Richard III
I have been enthralled…ok, obsessed, with the story of Richard III for many, many years and am firmly in the pro-Ricardian camp. I believe that Richard’s seizure of the throne was legal, that he was a just and in many ways enlightened king, and that he has been the victim of bad publicity at the hands of the Tudors (who IMO were the Kardashians of their day) and as a result of our cultural deification of Shakespeare. Being a rabid Yorkist has many compelling elements: mystery, conspiracy theory, political thriller, and the allure of rooting for the underdog. Most of all, and the least fun element, is the terrible sense of injustice, of wrongs and betrayals heaped upon Richard by his contemporaries and on down through the centuries, wrongs that we Ricardians want the world to admit, and apologize for.
Finally being able to see the pictures of his remains on Tuesday brought a lot of mixed emotions. I am always moved by the sight of tangible, physical relics of the pre-photographic past. They let us know that the stories, the fables, the characters of history were REAL. That these things did happen. And these people did live. Always, I’m thrilled by that knowledge. So the sight of Richard — who I’ve read so much about that I feel like I have a personal relationship with him — being able to actually look him in the face, was a marvel to me. But when I looked longer at the photos of his bones there in the excavation site, I cried. Such a tragedy that this young man, who had such loyalty, and will, and who was loved by the people of the north who knew him best, who overcame scoliosis and a skinny frame to forge himself into a formidable warrior, who was by all accounts just, ended so injustly. Hacked down, hog tied, stripped, and thrown haphazardly into a too-small grave with only the merest nod at proper burial rites, no shroud, no coffin. And if only just a very few things had gone differently, if a few people has behaved as honorably as Richard expected them to, none of it would have happened.
The lesson here is that history, like nature, is capricious, unpredictable, and sometimes very cruel. And that Henry Tudor was a piece of shit.
Though I’m leery about Richard being used as a tourist attraction in the future, for now I am happy that he is being treated with reverence and will at last receive a fitting burial and memorial. I’m hopeful that maybe now, finally, some re-examination will occur and the knee-jerk Richard bashing will end. I would really like for this event to inspire similar research on other monarchs. Why can’t we DNA test and facially reconstruct all of those Kings and Queens whose burial places are public knowledge? (The answer is “Because QE2 says No. Daft old bat who isn’t even in the proper line of descent anyway. Off with her!!) Think how amazing that would be!
Anyway, this was a profound event for me and I’m going to be dwelling on and trying to digest it all in the coming weeks. If I can get just one person out there to stop believing the Tudor hype, it will all have been worth it.
(As an aside, a huge part of what got me interested in Game of Thrones was the obvious fact that Ned Stark and his story arc were so transparently modeled after the life of Richard. A good, decent man from the North goes south into a nest of petty vipers, tries his level best to provide just rule, and in return is stabbed in the back, killed, and reviled as a traitor. A huge part of what made me sicken and tire of Game of Thrones was the slow, awful realization that we will never, EVER get justice for Ned Stark in that story. How wonderful that we may see some small real-life justice for Richard III.)