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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Remains of the King, Part Two: So That WAS Richard III Hidden Under That Parking Lot

Posted by on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Our Dear Leader Tim Keck just passed by my desk and delivered an impressively long chunk of the opening speech of Richard III, replacing random nouns by saying "parking lot" in a robot voice:

Now is the winter of our [PARKING LOT]
Made glorious summer by this sun of [PARKING LOT];
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the [PARKING LOT] buried.
Now are our brows bound with [PARKING LOT];
Our bruised arms hung up for [PARKING LOT]...

So that skeleton they found just six feet under a parking lot in September was Richard III. The New Yorker reports that 140 journalists and camera crews from seven countries crammed into the press conference to hear the announcement. The Richard III Society, which devotes itself to rehabilitating the king's terrible p.r., is leveraging the moment by commissioning a reconstruction of the face, based on the skull, to "bring a human aspect" to the king we've always loved to hate. From Stephen Greenblatt's article in the New Yorker:

Even his birth had been a difficult one, and it was reported—though here the author of “The History” voices some reservation—that the newborn had teeth. In any case, he was, we are told, a particularly nasty piece of work: “Hee was close and secrete, a deepe dissimuler, lowlye, of counteynaunce, arrogant of heart, outwardly coumpinable”—i.e., friendly—“where he inwardely hated, not letting”—i.e., hesitating—“to kisse whome hee thoughte to kyll.”

The author of this splendid hatchet job was Thomas More, who would go on to write “Utopia,” and to lose his head at the hands of the second Tudor monarch, Henry VIII. More’s “The History of Richard III” was incorporated into the major sixteenth-century chronicle histories and thus, in effect, became the authorized representation of the loser of the Battle of Bosworth Field. At the end of that battle, the corpse of the vanquished ruler—the last English king to die in combat—was not given a royal funeral but stripped of his armor, strapped to a horse, and ignominiously hauled back to Leicester for a humiliatingly modest interment. The process of denigration had begun.

But it sounds like the process of denigration began before his body was even buried. From Science:

The skeleton sports 10 wounds, eight on the skull and two on the rest of the body. Two of the wounds were particularly severe, a large hole at the back of the skull where a halberdlike weapon sliced off part of the head and a smaller trauma on the base of the skull caused by a blade that penetrated the skull. "Both of these injuries would have caused almost instant loss of consciousness, and death would have followed quickly afterwards," Appleby said. Other wounds are probably the result of postmortem mutilation.



Comments (20) RSS

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@1 is the winner of the day! ! !

But, no way in perdition am I buying this story for one minute: you're telling me they had parking lots back then?

Posted by sgt_doom on February 6, 2013 at 10:42 AM · Report this
Unregistered User 20
@19 My favorite is Monaco. If you've got treachery, money and/or force you too can be a legitimate monarch!
Posted by Unregistered User on February 6, 2013 at 10:42 AM · Report this
seatackled 19
@16 Well, that ain't fair. Does English law make you legitimate if you start off as a usurper and kill off everyone else who has a better claim? I'll still put a few bucks in to helping the 17th-generation descendent and his army buy some guns and pull an Edmund to the current queen's Gloucester.
Posted by seatackled on February 6, 2013 at 9:29 AM · Report this
Tracy 18
Josephine Tey's "The Daughter of Time" is a very fast and entertaining read, as a twentieth century detective starts researching Richard III.
Posted by Tracy on February 6, 2013 at 9:11 AM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 17
Show some respect, people. It's pronounced "car park".
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on February 6, 2013 at 7:36 AM · Report this
@seatackled #2 - Richard III was the last male claimant of the Plantagenet line; his only legitimate child died at the age of 10. Henry VII, who had no legitimate claim and took the throne by force of arms, married Elizabeth of York, Richard's niece, and saw to it that all remaining Plantagenet and York claimants died a timely death. Thus Henry's children were the legitimate descendants of Richard's line.
Posted by TechBear on February 6, 2013 at 6:15 AM · Report this
seandr 15
I love this story, the history, the parking lot, all of it!
Posted by seandr on February 5, 2013 at 11:15 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 14…

Mengistu had his predecessor interred at the bottom of his personal latrine, so that he might relieve himself upon Selassie's corpse every morning. Now, that is the very definition of spite.

Dick Three got off pretty easy. A little postmortem violence ala Il Duce and a shallow grave is at least minimally respectful.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on February 5, 2013 at 9:16 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 13
Could be worse. What Mengistu did to Haile Selassie has to be the cold standard of postmortem humiliation inflicted upon a monarch.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on February 5, 2013 at 9:11 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 12
There are no (legitimate) Plantagenet descendents of Richard, or of any of his brothers. Also, no one knows who had the "princes in the tower" killed. It is quite plausible that Richard kept them for safe keeping, not wanting to commit regicide, and that Henry VII had them offed as soon as he arrived in London.

England at that time would have seen much worse if the boy king had been allowed to ascend to the throne. It would have been like handing the entire Viet Nam operation over to Private Joker.

And after thirty years of a bloody, treacherous, horrible civil war, it's not surprising that his body bore the brunt of that pent up anger. Henry became king pretty much because there was no one else alive who could. Except the teenager in the tower, who was quickly silenced.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on February 5, 2013 at 8:31 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 11
what's next? the two princes in the Tower found under a Tesco in Stoke Podges?
Posted by scary tyler moore on February 5, 2013 at 8:22 PM · Report this
beatgrl 10
There is evidence he was sodomized by a sword. Yikes. After death, one would hope.
Posted by beatgrl on February 5, 2013 at 8:09 PM · Report this
laterite 9
"Roll out the bones and raise up your pitcher"…
Posted by laterite on February 5, 2013 at 7:58 PM · Report this
I am a little unclear about how they did the DNA testing, and if it is the way I think it is, then this identification of Richard III is a bit premature. My understanding is that they used the mitochondrial DNA of his sister's descendants. The problem with that is mitochondrial DNA (passed only through the mother) does not mutate the way that Y chromosome DNA (passed only through the father) does. Which means that you can only use mitochondrial DNA to disprove a relationship not to prove it.
Posted by SolM on February 5, 2013 at 7:13 PM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 6
@5, Shakespeare did a great job smearing Richard III. But does this mean we have to have a Royal Funeral now? Will we all stay up late at night to watch it?

BTW..Richard was a child killer. LONG LIVE THE TUDORS!!! Well until 1602, then you know...whatev.
Posted by Last of the Time Lords on February 5, 2013 at 6:50 PM · Report this
katrat 5
The Elizabethan propaganda machine painted Richard III to be a monster, while there is a compelling argument to be made that he was actually a helluva guy. Make sure the playwrights are on your side before you kick it!
Posted by katrat on February 5, 2013 at 6:16 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
@3 well, if England leaves the EU, Scotland may stay with the EU, and bring back Home Rule.

Doubt they'll have any Kings though, bloody nuisance, get in the way of parking lots.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 5, 2013 at 6:14 PM · Report this
Unregistered User 3
@2 I keep telling subjects of the United Kingdom how much more exciting the monarchy would be if there was a little challenge every now and then to the Germans that rule it now
Posted by Unregistered User on February 5, 2013 at 6:02 PM · Report this
seatackled 2
How much do you think it'll cost us to convince that 17th-generation descendant to claim the throne? I'll chip in to buy him and his army some guns.
Posted by seatackled on February 5, 2013 at 5:36 PM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 1
They paved Camelot, and put up a parking lot...
Posted by Rob in Baltimore on February 5, 2013 at 5:11 PM · Report this

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