Monday, March 16, 2015

History in the Headlines: Richard III

If you love history as much as I do, you have undoubtedly been following the discovery of the remains of Richard III. Whether you cringed or nodded in satisfaction at seeing the maligned king's curved spine, the excavation and research since that day over two years ago has been spectacular to follow. We have enjoyed a truly once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from King Richard's 530 year old remains.

Leicester Cathedral, where the reinterment of Richard's remains will occur in just six days, has a comprehensive website dedicated to the event. You can see it here.

Thinking about Richard, which I often do as one who is enthralled with the Wars of the Roses, leads to a multitude of historical what-ifs. I'm not one to question the change of huge events, such as "What if the South had won the American Civil War?" I prefer to question small tweaks.

What if Richard's son Edward had not died?
What if Richard had given Hastings a trial (at least what sufficed for a trial in those times)?
What if people of Richard's time knew the fate of his nephews?
What if Richard had not died at Bosworth?

I do not necessarily think of Richard as innocent on all charges and am certainly no Bride of Gloucester, but I do wonder if he was as villainous as some have accused him to have been. We will likely never know the truth for sure, but what is certain is that he managed to bring about the end of the Plantagenet dynasty after they had ruled England for over three centuries.

Instead, history gives us the Tudor dynasty through the Plantagenet Princess Elizabeth of York, who was married to the victorious Henry Tudor. Her son, Henry VIII, has surpassed her in fame, despite the exciting and turbulent times in which she lived. The Tudors would go on to decimate the Plantagenet remnant, break from the Catholic Church, and set the stage for the English Civil War.

Oh, the what-ifs we can devise with those infamous Tudors!

But back to Richard III. Whether you love him or hate him, it has been exciting to see him discovered again. After 530 years, he will soon finally be at rest.

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