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04 February 2013 @ 12:19 pm
"Richard III's burial could be as poignant and beautiful as the royal wedding"  
That's a headline from the Telegraph.

I feel there is definitely a double-meaning there.

Thanks to my history teacher, I am broadly Ricardian in the comfy sense that involves having only the most tenuous grasp of the evidence and no real investment in an opinion I didn't exactly personally form. I love me a good conspiracy theory though, and as conspiracy theories go, believing Richard III was wronged seems fairly harmless.

I'm mildly bemused by the level of interest the discovery of his remains seem to have raised though. Does having his actual body contribute much of anything to our understanding of the people or politics of the time?

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/88812.html.
 
 
 
daniel_saunders: Worcester Collegedaniel_saunders on February 4th, 2013 01:03 pm (UTC)
I think it's the incongruity of his supposedly being discovered beneath a car park, which also seems like something from a twentieth century gangster story (throw the body in the still-wet concrete).

I never studied the Wars of the Roses at school or Oxford and don't have an opinion on this either. Frankly, there's part of me that wants to be snobbish and tell people this isn't 'real' history (whatever that might be).
louisedennislouisedennis on February 4th, 2013 02:34 pm (UTC)
I get the impression from a lot of the comments on Facebook that people feel, or feel other people feel, that Richard has been vindicated in some sense by the finding of his body. You could be correct that the gangster element plays into that, implicitly suggesting he was victim rather than villain.
(no subject) - daniel_saunders on February 4th, 2013 05:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
bunn: upside downbunn on February 4th, 2013 01:16 pm (UTC)
I suppose examination of the body might lay to rest the 'was he a hunchback' question once and for all, which might shed some light on the extent of bias in later sources. And they could probably analyse his teeth and find out what he ate and compare that against the documentation, which I suppose might be revealing?

But beyond that 'Does having his actual body contribute much' - I think it's an emotional question, not a physical/scientific one? Why do people collect relics? Why is it different to hold a fragment of bone and know the name of the person it came from, to holding a fragment of cow-bone? Why does a powerful story about a wronged and/or wicked king need a physical anchor, and why does that anchor have power? I have no idea, but it does.
louisedennislouisedennis on February 4th, 2013 02:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's the extent that difference that the presence of a thing makes that is interesting, I think. Though my facebook friends list suggests that (relatively normal*) people hold rather more vehement opinions on Richard's innocence or guilt that seems entirely sensible.

* I've just realised that the assumption that my Facebook friends list somehow defaults to "relatively normal" may be where I've been going wrong here.
Susanlil_shepherd on February 4th, 2013 03:38 pm (UTC)
I'm mildly bemused by the level of interest the discovery of his remains seem to have raised though. Does having his actual body contribute much of anything to our understanding of the people or politics of the time?

No.

Once I actually read up on some of the books not published or recommended by the Richard III society I became convinced that Richard would have been an idiot if he hadn't murdered said princes. He was a ruthless prince, typical of his era. Big deal.

My main interest is that it turns out that, if the skeleton is Richard's (and my main concern is the convenient way everything fell into place) then it turns out that he was a hunchback (or something close) after all - something that has been denied by the Ricardians for years, but on which they are now strangely silent.
fredbassettfredbassett on February 4th, 2013 03:48 pm (UTC)
The hunchback thing, if true, will be most amusing for the reasons you mention! There's been a lot of protesting too much on that score!
(no subject) - lil_shepherd on February 4th, 2013 03:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 03:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rain_sleet_snow on February 4th, 2013 06:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 06:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rain_sleet_snow on February 4th, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 06:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 06:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rain_sleet_snow on February 4th, 2013 07:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 04:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lil_shepherd on February 4th, 2013 04:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 06:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
fredbassettfredbassett on February 4th, 2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
The main thing that concerns me is the DNA libk. I'm not at all convinced that the genealogical side of things can hold up over that length of time.

But if it is true, then I think it's interesting for the reasona mentioned below. But in effect it's just another example of the cult of the celebrity.
Susanlil_shepherd on February 4th, 2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
I heard it was meant to be mitochondrial DNA, which is, of course, the female line, but with the inbreeding within the nobility...
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 04:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lil_shepherd on February 4th, 2013 05:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - inamac on February 4th, 2013 07:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 07:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 04:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lil_shepherd on February 4th, 2013 05:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 05:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 04:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 04:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 04:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 04:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 04:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 04:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Elaine of Astolatladyofastolat on February 4th, 2013 04:43 pm (UTC)
My Mum has always claimed to be passionately pro-Richard III, but I think it was the result of reading Daughter of Time at a formative age, rather than a serious belief in the evidence. She tried in a slightly tongue-in-cheek way to indoctrinate me, and I reacted by remaining to this day supremely unmoved by the question, either way.

I did choose the Wars of the Roses as my special subject for my Finals, but my interest was more in the early part of the wars. In general, if there's a historical issue where the evidence leads people to have a variety of contradictory strongly-held opinions, my opinion will be a mixture of "we'll never know," and "it's probably somewhere in between the two."

However, I was quite gripped by the press conference earlier today. No, it doesn't reveal anything new about the way people lived or even very much about the course of political events, but it's a human story with a human name and a human face; most people, I think, are more drawn to such stories in history. It's like a novel, though I look on it as a novel in which the modern-day academics are the heroes. It's like Indiana Jones, or all those stories in which dogged investigators pore over the evidence in late-night montages, and end up locating the relic that everyone else has assumed to be lost.
Susanlil_shepherd on February 4th, 2013 05:07 pm (UTC)
Possibly more Bonekickers than Indiana Jones.
(no subject) - bunn on February 4th, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jane_somebody on February 18th, 2013 11:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 07:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bunn on February 4th, 2013 07:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 09:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bunn on February 4th, 2013 09:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 5th, 2013 12:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Mayrain_sleet_snow on February 4th, 2013 06:14 pm (UTC)
No, I don't really think it adds anything to historical understanding of Richard II or his time period, but I study this stuff, so I find it fascinating. I want to see the papers before I mae any judgements on how good the evidence is, but it looks pretty good from where I'm standing.
fredbassettfredbassett on February 4th, 2013 06:28 pm (UTC)
I think anything after this length of time that might have such celebrity status is definitely fascinating. It reminds me of the Philip of Macedon's tomb sketch. And takes us right back to good old Schliemann and the 'I have gazed on the face of Agamemnon' line.

There's a natuural tendency to personalise things and discoveries.
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 07:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on February 4th, 2013 07:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 4th, 2013 08:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
the little creep: sidewisenyarbaggytep on February 4th, 2013 07:36 pm (UTC)
Miss North?
louisedennis: historylouisedennis on February 4th, 2013 07:54 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. Subsequent reading may suggest she was wrong about a lot of things, but I can't fault her for inspiring an enthusiasm for history in me - in particular for, I think, conveying that history was about people not about dates.
(no subject) - nyarbaggytep on February 4th, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 5th, 2013 12:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Kargicqkargicq on February 4th, 2013 07:37 pm (UTC)
Well, it's an excuse for me to re-watch the Olivier Richard III film...

Is it just me, or does Peter Dinklage consciously copy Olivier's R III mannerisms and inflections in Game of Thrones?

And is it just me, or does every question beginning "is it just me..." have the answer, "Yes, it's just you?"?
louisedennislouisedennis on February 4th, 2013 09:24 pm (UTC)
I'll confess to never having watched Game of Thrones, partly because I fell out of love with the Song of Ice and Fire books somewhere around halfway through book three and partly because B. has stated he doesn't like watching shows in which unpleasant people do nasty things to each other and I rather suspect Game of Thrones will fall into this category. We haven't watched The Wire or the new Battlestar Galactica on much the same principles.
(no subject) - kargicq on February 4th, 2013 09:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on February 5th, 2013 12:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)