The Bones of Good King Richard?

Somewhere, Walpole and Tey are smiling!

During excavations of the remains of the old Franciscan Greyfriars Friary church at Leicester (underneath a parking lot), archaeologists found the bones of an adult male who had scoliosis of the spine, and who died in battle with wounds consistent with those reported of the late King Richard III. They were found in the section of the church where he was supposed to have been buried, also.

The skeleton’s DNA will be tested against that of other known maternal line descendants of the House of York for certainty’s sake, but there doesn’t seem to be much doubt. After study, the skeleton will be reinterred with appropriate church ceremonies. (Catholic ones, one hopes, since whoever he was, he certainly never heard of the Church of England, and since the friary church was demolished in the 1530’s and built upon as a secular property by the Church of England. It’s been pointed out that the local Dominicans are closest, and celebrate with the Dominican Rite which goes back a couple centuries earlier than Richard, so it would be very appropriate to inter him there at Holy Cross.)

They’re holding Richard III events in Leicester, in honor of the late king. In a very medieval twist of fate, arguments have begun about whether his bones should be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral or another Leicester church, or in York with his family. Leicester will probably win, though.

Of course, if we’re really going to get medieval, we need his innocence to be proved by his body being associated with miracles. I don’t expect this, because I expect he was a great king and defender of the rights of the commoners, but only a normally good man. Please pray for his soul, and for the souls of all those who lived and died in the Wars of the Roses. That Tudor guy, too. 🙂

Press conference at the local medieval guildhall.

Obviously, there are a lot of good books (and bad books, and crazy books) about Richard III. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey is probably the most winsome work to make the case, but turns into fandom territory at a certain point. (Not that that’s a blemish, per se.) The discovery of the maternal-line Yorkist Ibsens is told as a sidebar to John Ashdown-Hill’s recent book, The Last Days of Richard III. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s currently on my Kindle! He also has a biography of Eleanor Butler, the woman whom Edward IV married first, thus making his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville bigamous and his children all illegitimate. (The Prince Regent did the same thing with a clandestine marriage, but he had the convenient out that UK law didn’t permit a member of the royal family to marry without permission, or to marry a Catholic at all. But yeah, still bigamous.)

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