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"Something different - Richard III being kind!" Topic

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476 hits since 18 May 2023
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
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Warspite118 May 2023 1:28 a.m. PST

A Warspite 'special'.

YouTube link

While the the controversial Richard III was on the throne, he was 'moved to pity' when Creake Abbey caught fire and was badly damaged in 1484, the year before Bosworth.
His grant did not cover the damage so the Augustinian Canons cut the damaged part of their abbey church down and shortened it. The work was almost finished when they died of plague.
I ask the question, 'is this the unluckiest abbey in England?'.

King Henry VII gave it to his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort. This is not one of the abbeys destroyed by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Good source images if you want to build a medieval ruin.


Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2023 6:57 a.m. PST

In my reading, Richard III was not a bad king, but he got really bad press. Did the princes die under his care? Yes. Did he murder them? Quite possibly not; the medieval era was not known for having a high survivability rate for children, but the high number of children born made up for the mortality rate. Even wealthy, well fed and well protected children died from disease at a prodigious rate, and if one child in a family contracted a virulent illness, the others were highly likely to catch it too. One strong case of common influenza, and pffft.

But Richard was in charge, so Richard got the blame— especially as the blame helped his political opponents. "Never let a tragedy go to waste," was as much of a political motto then as it is now.

And Shakespeare knew his patronage. The Tudors had a tenuous claim to the crown, and they knew it. A little de-legitimizing of other claimants was exactly the thing that was necessary, as was making oneself look great in comparison.

It strikes me that Richard III was no more cruel than any other king of the era; though nor was he any more kind. He was political, and his politics lost.

(As a side note I will point out that the Tudors certainly had no qualms about murdering anyone, even a teenage girl, whose existence threatened their claims. They just did it under the cloak of law and in front of the public. And of course, Henry's treatment of the monasteries and innocent Catholic priests certainly counts as exceedingly cruel.)

42flanker18 May 2023 9:26 a.m. PST

I may be mistaken, but I believe the last time the princes were recorded alive they may not even have been accomodated together.

rmaker18 May 2023 8:49 p.m. PST

The old "Shakespeare was just toadying up to the Tudors" argument is plain nonsense. Richard III is a very late play, written over 100 years after the events portrayed, when Elizabeth was nearing the end of her reign. If he toadied to anybody it was the incoming Stuarts (read the Scottish Play sometime).

And then there's the small fact that there is plenty of contemporary evidence from non-English sources that paints a very unfavorable picture of Richard, such as the Venetian and Imperial ambassadors' reports.

There is also the fact that he usurped his nephews' throne using a very bad interpretation of canon law to brand the boys as illegitimate, though he was quite willing to marry their sister!

Add the fact that the results of Bosworth were known in London at least a week before Bolingbroke's army reached the captial, and the Yorkists were in full control of the city. Had one (or both) of the Princes been alive, you can bet that a properly crowned King would have met him at the city gates, thanking him for disposing of the King's evil uncle.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2023 5:00 a.m. PST

1. You don't discredit the reigning monarch's grandfather who is her link to the throne, if you want to keep your head. Elizabeth I had no compunction about removing people's heads— even people she supposedly liked. If Shakespeare was gonna write a play about Richard III, the subject was going to be an abject villain. Furthermore, the killing of a king cannot be shown unless the king is an usurper with no right to the throne— this was the age of Divine Right; to suggest that it was "okay" to kill a crowned king was not done. Do you WANT to be executed for treason? So, yeah, Shakespeare was toadying— or very much writing something that would support the sitting, violently disposed political authority of the day (you might want to read the other histories— Richard II, and of course Henry V, both of which supported tenuous and twisted legal claims to the thrones of both England and France). Richard III had to be an unscrupulous usurper with no rightful claim to the throne, if Shakespeare was going to tell his story.
Thou shalt not mock the crown.

2. I have read Macbeth, many times, and seen it performed on stage and screen. Can even quote the thing in multiple places at length. Great play. And of course, it proves my point— Shakespeare was happy to toady up to the newly reigning monarch and legitimize his claim to the throne through the most tenuous of forms— a ghost's prophecy, made to a usurper. Shakespeare knew on which side his bread was buttered. The sitting monarch deserved to be there, because like any hit-maker artist of today, Shakespeare knew who had the money he wanted.

3. Have not read these reports. I will look them up.

4. Didn't say that Richard III wasn't willing to twist law to his favor, like any politician. I said he may not have been any more cruel than any other monarch. The Tudors were a violently minded bunch. But then, so were all the rest.

5. You have your Henrys and your Richards mixed up. Richard the III was not deposed by Bolingbroke. Bolingbroke was Henry IV, who deposed Richard II. He was long dead by Bosworth. Henry Tudor deposed Richard III to become Henry VII. And *that* was Bosworth.
Also, he had a frickin' army, which had just effectively wiped out the active support of the sitting king, who was now dead due to that army. Said army was now marching on London, which had no die-hard supporters of Richard III left; or certainly ones that had any viable options but surrender. Tudor wasn't coming to rescue any offspring of Edward IV; he was coming to be king himself, and everybody knew it. If the princes had been alive, they'd have been conveniently disposed of (and Richard blamed for it), long before Henry Tudor entered the city. Greeting Tudor with a crowned child king? LOL. Nobody was *that* stupid.

6. Again, I'm not defending Richard III. I'm just suggesting that his reputation as a villain was possibly not as deserved as the political voices of the day made it. As I said, all kings were cruel and willing to manipulate law to back themselves; Richard may have been no more of this nature than any of the rest.

42flanker19 May 2023 1:09 p.m. PST

'The Princes in the Tower'

"Matt Lewis concludes his four special episodes on medieval mysteries with perhaps the most enduring historical enigma of them all…."


An interesting take on the question, addressing many of the above points.

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