To Bury a King


York Minster (Source: Wikipedia, Steve nova)

York Minster (Source: Wikipedia, Steve nova)

Leicester Cathedral (Source: Wikipedia, NotFromUtrecht)

Leicester Cathedral (Source: Wikipedia, NotFromUtrecht)

It is getting ahead of ourselves – ahead of MtDNA testing. If these are the remains of Richard III. But the question has been raised about the final resting place of this – last of the Plantagenets. (Those most closely involved with the research, advocates of an archaeological project, forensics, genealogy and DNA experts, have been wisely circumspect about the issue.) Still, it is a wee bit an elephant in the room. Just in case it proves to be Richard III. The Palace has also been rather dispassionate with remarks about the issue. Perhaps wisely so. Some might enjoy postulating that the Windsor dynasty could be deemed usurpers. Which would be digging up a whole other can of “bones”.
I don’t think so. Genealogical tracking is a tangled web of relationships. And one dynasty succeeds another. William the Bastard was an invader. The right to the throne between Stephen and Mathilda led to civil war. Henry IV usurped the throne in 1399. Edward IV prevailed and Richard III was also a usurper in the 15th century. Then there were the Tudors… Only, it appears that the Palace is not putting out a welcome mat for Richard III at Westminster or Windsor. Oh well.
It appears that if this is our Richard, both York and Leicester might be more than willing to receive the bones, and presumably, to hold a proper (even if not in the faith of the pre-Reformation monarch) and respectful ceremony of re-internment.
It is easy to be a fence-sitter about this. York Minster is a glorious cathedral. It is very big. It has the most wonderful architecture of the medieval period. Built to endure. Except, of course, for those medieval monasteries which a Tudor king dissolved. While supporting the conversion of the cathedrals to a religious evolution. So, Leicester or York? I’m a fence sitter.
Richard converted York to the Yorkist cause. Middleham Castle in Yorkshire was reportedly, his favourite home, in which he spent his boyhood. The City of York recalls him with a fondness, not found in the South. And York is a beautiful city, retaining so much of its medieval structure.
Leicester Cathedral is the fourth smallest cathedral in England. Without the spire, it appears an ordinary town church. (But there are those pointed Gothic arched windows…) Richard was not actually born in the North, but at Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire, in the East Midlands, just a bit south of Leicestershire. Richard fought his last battle in Leicestershire, and died there.
The University of Leicester has been the linchpin of the project. Its multi-disciplinary resources have been devoted to dig process. There is rather a pleasing aspect to a small cathedral having the responsibility of a properly and well-constructed tomb and internment service, final place for a king who was not necessarily given due respect 500 years, or since.
The only contemporary indication we have of what might have been Richard III’s intent, is documentation that he intended a chapel to be built at York, for himself and Anne Neville. Anne is buried in Westminster.
So, I am a fence-sitter, and we don’t know yet the DNA results, anyway.

♕ Poll ♕

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vote for your favourite resting place for King Richard III

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