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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

For a number of reasons that seemed good at the time – it looked fun, or it seemed a nice thing to do, or being scared stiff because I’m not writing and might never write again – I’ve committed to doing far too much in April.

The original idea was that I’d get well ahead of myself by working hard in March, but March has been so bloody miserable I’ve spent much of it under a blanket and have only poked the social media sites that I felt I should poke and have done the things I feel I should do.

Anyhow, over the next few weeks I should be posting daily for the A to Z challenge. Since I’m one of the people who need a theme to write to, I’ll be pointing out the value of primary sources of all kinds, for finding out cool stuff to put in books, although I can’t promise I won’t just post about things that I find interesting or annoying as well.

The first week should cover written, textile, vegetable, mineral, animal and historical information, plus a bit of a rant. 🙂

I also, in a moment of madness, signed up to do Camp Nanowrimo with the intention of writing 30k over the month. A thousand words a day – should be doable, right? *sigh*

From a less self serving POV I have quite a lot of nice people schedule for interviews/ promotion slots too – more on those as the posts roll around.

So what are you lot doing in April?

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The Princes in the Tower

“The Princes in the Tower” 1878, by John Everett Millais

I’ve spent a lot of time the past few days thinking about my post on Monday about Richard III and the whole concept of otherwise excellent people committing real atrocities that seem to be completely out of character.

Then I wondered if a bit of an overview might be useful, again, for people who might be interested in the period and how everything fits together.

Ricardians, please note: I’m approaching this subject with as little bias, one way or the other, as i can manage so please don’t be offended at anything that may seem like a slur on Richard’s character The position of King of England in the 15th century was not open to wimps, as I shall explain.

Bit of background – the princes, Edward, 12, and Richard, 9, had been left in the care of their uncle, Richard the Duke of Gloucester when their father died suddenly. Richard moved them both to the Tower of London, then a royal palace, where they could be kept safe. The following year a rumor circulated that they had been murdered and, inexplicably, Richard did not allow them out to be seen, which would have scotched the rumour.

Why might a kind and loving uncle order, or have accepted, the murder of his two nephews?

(more…)

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And now they have identified the poor soul’s body in a skeleton discovered under a car park in Leicester.

How excited you are about this really depends on your familiarity with British history and, if familiar, where you stand on the whole “Richard was a hunchbacked murderer of children/Richard was an excellent king and good caring uncle much maligned by the devilish Tudors” discussion.

Antony Cher’s Richard was a monster with no redeeming qualities. Shakespeare has a lot to answer for.

Just a little catch up for those who don’t know but do care. Edward IV was a superb warrior king and at 6ft 4 one of the tallest men to ever rule in England. His reign brought a terrible civil war to an end and promised a period of peace and prosperity. He was young and had 2 small sons so the succession was assured. When he died suddenly in April 1483, he left his sons and the country in the hands of his younger brother, Richard of York, a man he trusted implicitly and a very able warrior and administrator. Richard had a firm grasp on the country but regencies are always problematical and he knew that the two small boys could be used as tokens in a power play. For their safety, and that of the country, he had them taken to the reasonably luxurious but very secure royal quarters in the Tower, where they had their own household and tutors. Richard visited them often and is reputed to have been very fond of his nephews.

Contemporary accounts describe Richard as small and scholarly yet a doughty fighter on the battlefield. He proved himself as a war leader several times over before the death of his brother and his accession as Regent seems to have been greeted with relief – a steady hand at the helm until 12 yr old Edward V came of age. Richard may not have been universally loved but he was respected.

Yet, somehow between April 1483 and his death in August 1485 this small scholarly man is reputed to have turned into a ravening monster.

At this distance I don’t suppose we will ever know exactly what happened to the Princes in the tower. The usual story is that Richard, desperate to be king in his own name, firstly had them illegitimised then had them murdered in late 1483. The rumour that they were dead circulated and outraged the British aristocracy so much that they invited Harri Tudur, most influential member of the house of Lancaster and reputed to be a descendant of Cadwaladr, the last British king. Or maybe Harri remembered the reign of a previous Richard and how it was brought to an end by another ambitious man – Henry Bolingbroke who became Henry IV.

The skeleton of Richard III, showing the curvature of th spine that would have only caused an uneveness of his shoulders rather than an actual hunch.

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