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Monday, February 04, 2013

Important News of the Day - Richard III Dead

   Years ago I was one of those strongly on the side of Richard III. Probably my liking for the underdog and general willingness to believe conspiracies but I thought it likely Henry the VII not he killed the Princes in the Tower.

   This came back to me today when it was announced that the body beiing examined by Leicester University really was, if DNA is to be believed, Richard III and that he had indeed died fighting rather than looking for a horse. The probably killing blow having come from what is likely a halbard - a large axe on a long pole.

Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on a project to identify the bones, told reporters that tests and research since the remains were discovered last September proved “beyond reasonable doubt” that the “individual exhumed” from a makeshift grave under the parking lot was “indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.”

Part of the evidence came from DNA testing by the geneticist Turi King, who told the same news conference that DNA samples taken from modern-day descendants of Richard’s family matched those from the bones found at the site.

The skeleton, with a gaping hole in the skull consistent with contemporary accounts of the battlefield blow that killed him, was exhumed in the ruins of an ancient priory.

    I do now think it likely he killed the Princes, officially his nephews, or at least that they died under his protection. If not he would have produced them. Though it may be that others, particularly the Duke of Buckingham did it without his permission.

      When Henry II's knights killed Thomas Beckett history assumes it was done without his approval though there seems no doubt he asked for it; Richard, on the other is assumed guilty. Such is how history is written.

      Interestingly the question of the Princes was one that Henry VI actively didn't ask and did not seriously use as part of his justification for overthrowing Richard. Personally I think what did for him was the death of his son in 1484. Thus leaving no real successor to keep the wars going if he were overthrown. That would have been a moment to reinstate his "nephews" as his legitimate successors had they still been alive at the time.

     While the killings are normally seen as particularly evil there is an alternative. Henry does not get criticised for the judicial or sometimes non-judicial execution of almost everybody other than himself with a claim to the throne. Indeed historians (he was on the winning side) generally agree that this was a wise, if unattractive,  precaution which prevented the outbreak of new wars and thus saved far more lives than it cost.

    In that spirit the reason I placed apostrophes around "nephews" earlier is important. There seems no real question that Edward, the previous king and officially Richard's brother was not his father's son but the offspring of a fling his mother had. He was thus not legally in the line of succession. Richard also justified his supplanting of the princes by saying that he had found out that Edward's sons weren't legitimate either, since he already had a common law marriage. This has normally been assumed to be just spin but it is consistent with Edward's character and was accepted by Parliament.

    While legitimacy is not much of an issue to us it was a massive one to medieval people (Richard himself had an illigitimate son whom he never thought of making his heir). While killing his nephews would indeed have been a great sin by his lights killing a couple of bastard sons of a bastard, claiming the throne, to maintain the peace of the realm might well not have been - indeed he might have seen it as his duty.

    Always difficult to remember that people of centuries ago had different values from today's.

   Anyway I will be watching C4 at 9.00 tonight. 
     In other news today a nasty little ecofascist turd called Chris Huhne, who used to be the the next LibDem Leader and who went on and on about how he wasn't really guilty of perverting the course of justice has plead guilty. Prison is almost always the sentence.

     His political career is over. High probability his party's political career is over as well. In the, previously Lib/Con marginal,by election UKIP and Tories will take the top 2 places (I very much hope UKIP leads) Labour probably 3rd and the LDs will be facing the BNP and Greens for 4th to 6th places.

Will Clegg be working hard for the LD candidate or will he effectively ask voters to support the Tories to stop UKIP?     

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Richard III Still Dead
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