Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Richard III – Impressive School-Report


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♛ Battle of the Cities ♛

The Battle of the Cities is far from over, now with a new player in the battle, the “Plantagenet Alliance“:


Sources Sunday: Thomas More’s History of King Richard III


See series introduction, here.


Today, I’d like to introduce briefly one of the earlier secondary sources about Richard III, a text written by Thomas More called The History of King Richard III. No matter how you feel about Richard, it’s a cracking read, and the late historian Richard Marius called it “the finest thing he ever wrote.” Even Ricardian biographer Paul Murray Kendall called the work an expression of More’s “stunning vitality.” Here are some things to keep in mind when reading this work.


This got really long, so I’ll limit myself to these introductory remarks this week and start talking about specific citations next time.


The source itself

  • More worked on this text between 1513 and 1518 in Latin and English simultaneously, and never finished it. His English narrative stops at the beginning of Buckingham’s rebellion; his Latin narrative, somewhat earlier, at Richard’s coronation.
  • Modern textual scholars believe that More composed the Latin and English versions of the text separately, transferring bits and pieces between them, so that neither text by itself is considered fully authoritative.
  • No original of More’s text in his own handwriting (any so-called holograph) survives either in Latin or in English.
  • The text was not published in More’s lifetime, possibly because he became too busy to finish it; or because he realized that the matters treated in the text involved too many people who were still alive, so that the appearance of the work would create political problems for him.
  • No English manuscript sources survive; several Latin manuscript sources survive, but these are reworkings of the original holograph based on copies that themselves have disappeared in the meantime. The most well-known of the surviving Latin manuscripts — all of which differ — are held at Paris in the Bibliothèque nationale (MS fr. 4996 [Ancien fonds]), and at London in the College of Arms (MS Arundel 43) and the British Library (MS Harley 902). Here’s an excellent technical summary of the transmission of the texts with diagrams. Now considered to provide most authoritative Latin version, the Paris manuscript was rediscovered, entirely by accident, only in the twentieth century, by More scholar Daniel Kinney.
  • The “critical edition” of the texts — the definitive version scholars consider closest to the original, which should be used by all researchers — is The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, 15 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963-97).
  • Most modern versions of the text produced for general readers or students are emended on the basis of the 1557 London edition: William Rastell, ed., The workes of Sir Thomas More Knyght […]. This was not the first English printing of the text, but it has long been considered the most authoritative as it seems to have been typeset from a no-longer-extant holograph. (Rastell was More’s nephew.)



[Right: Titlepage of the 1566 Louvain edition of Thomas More’s works; picture taken from the copy owned by Ben Jonson, the English playwright Ben Jonson. Source.]

Screen shot 2013-03-24 at 9.20.51 PM[Left: detail of above, with inscription: “Sum Ben: Jonsonij Liber.”; literally, “I am Ben Johnson’s book.” Further inscriptions on the title page reveal that Johnson gave the book to William Dakins, one of the men who translated the King James Bible, whom Jonson probably met at Westminster School. Dakins, in turn, gave it with an inscription to John Blumfeilde.]


On More

  • More was an extraordinarily talented, intelligent, and complex individual.
  • His most prominent intellectual friendship was with Erasmus of Rotterdam, who wrote a hilarious persiflage on the folly of life in general and the abuses of the Catholic Church in particular known as Encomium Moriae, or “In Praise of Folly,” which punned on More’s name (the Greek word for “folly” sounded similar to More’s name).
  • Although he became an influential politician and lawyer, and remained a layman, he seriously contemplated a career in the Church.
  • In his own age, he was notable for the attention he paid to his daughters’ education.
  • The most definitive intellectual influence on More’s writing was that of Renaissance humanism; yet, after he joined the service of King Henry VIII in 1518, he ceased almost completely to write humanist texts and turned to religious polemics.
  • Modern readers may know him best for his 1516 work, Utopia (he coined the term).
  • More enjoys a reputation as a staunch man of principle, but not always a pleasant one. On the one hand, as Chancellor of England, he vigorously persecuted and prosecuted Protestant heretics. Six were burned on his watch. His polemics against William Tyndale were influential in the latter’s eventual burning for heresy; and George Foxe, who cataloged the sufferings of Protestant martyrs in England, was convinced that More had personally tortured prisoners on trial for heresy. On the other, More has long been respected for his conviction that authority over Church matters should not be ceded to the secular government, as a consequence of which he was executed in 1535 for his refusal to take the 1534 Oath of Supremacy. Was he moral, or a moralist? The twentieth century tended to see him as moral (as in the much celebrated stage and screen drama, The Man for All Seasons), while more recently, in Wolf Hall (2009), for which she won the Booker Prize, Hilary Mantel has portrayed him as a petty, cruel tyrant.


paul-schofield[Right: Paul Scofield as Thomas More, insisting to Parliament that he has not committed treason, in the film version of A Man for All Seasons. Scofield won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1966 for this performance and a BAFTA as well. Source.]




General features of More’s history of Richard

  • More probably chose Richard as a topic because of his interest in politics and good government. The book is a foil to Utopia (1516), which discusses perfect government and decries amorality in politics; More saw Richard as the epitome of bad, because amoral, government.
  • Humanists saw the point of history as teaching life lessons (historia magistra vitae); despite his many dastardly individual features, Richard in More’s eyes was much more a negative example or pattern rather than a fully formed individual. While More clearly believed what he wrote of Richard to be true, the goal was neither a smear job nor the presentation of evidence about Richard’s reign, but rather the crafting of a tale that criticized amorality, hypocrisy, and vaulting ambition.
  • According to scholar George M. Logan, the most important influences on More’s structuring of his history are the Greek author Lucian and the Roman historians Sallust (who wrote histories of the Roman traitors Catiline and Jugurtha) and Tacitus (who wrote a history of the Roman emperor, Tiberius). So great is More’s admiration of Tacitus that he alters facts in his portrayal of Edward IV in order to make his reign seem more like that of Augustus.
  • We cannot see More as a straightforward Tudor propagandist; he despised Henry VII.
  • More’s history counts as a secondary source in that he did not witness the events he describes. He did draw on primary sources: oral information and reminiscences of people he knew who had lived through events. These included his father (the only source he explicitly names), but more importantly gossip in the household of Bishop John Morton, one of Edward IV’s officials implicated in Hastings’ conspiracy, who survived Richard’s reign. More served in Morton’s household he served as a page from 1490-2.
  • While as a public official, More could have consulted extant public records in London, textual comparison suggests that he seems to have done so only once (for Buckingham’s speech of June 26, 1483).
  • Though it is extremely unlikely that More knew the work of the second Croyland Continuator, which was unknown outside of its abbey until the later sixteenth century, his account squares with it in important details, another reason to discount the charge that More (or Croyland) were mere Tudor propagandists.
  • The only written historical works that More can be proven to have consulted are Fabyan’s New Chronicles of England and France (1516/7) and Great Chronicle of London (ms., 1512).
  • No textual evidence suggests that the work on Richard most typically cited as Tudor propaganda, Polydore Vergil’s Anglica historia (ms. 1513), was influential on More.
  • The conventions of Renaissance humanist historiography required More to concoct all of the speeches; readers at the time would have known this.
  • More’s most prominent literary and linguistic device throughout the work is irony; readers must thus be very careful to discern his meaning, since his words are frequently pointed in specific ways.
  • Although the text was one of the most popular works of history in later-sixteenth-century England, it had little influence on history-writing. It made its deepest impact, of course, on Shakespeare, which is the main reason a reader might care about it these days.
  • Richard Marius makes the interesting assertion that Richard III is one of the first hypocritical protagonists in the history of western literature.

Screen shot 2013-03-24 at 10.56.39 PMFurther reading

  • Read More’s History of King Richard III on the web, transcribed from the original English edition of 1557 (with original spelling, but modern typography) here.
  • If you like books and ready-to-use scholarship, a fantastic update with extensive notes and sixteenth-century usage retained, but modified to reflect modern spelling, has recently been produced: George M. Logan, ed., The History of Richard III: A Reading Edition (Bloomington: Indianapolis University Press, 2005). This is the one my students will be reading.
  • Read More’s history in Latin, in the edition that English playwright Ben Jonson used with his notes visible in the margin, at The Center for Thomas More Studies, in digital facsimile.
  • Read More’s others works at Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas as well.
  • Richard III Society resources on More’s history, including excerpts from relevant pieces of Marius’ biography, Thomas More: A Biography (New York: Knopf, 1984). (Marius’ biography of More is excellent — a much better work than his disappointingly partisan biography of Martin Luther.)


If that’s not too much — I’ll be back next week to discuss some of the fascinating points in More’s retelling of Richard’s story.

Sources Sunday: Introduction

Richard_III_PennyGreetings, Richard III fans!

Today I’ll be starting a new feature on King Richard Armitage (to appear as regularly as I can manage), called “Sources Sunday.” In these posts, I’ll look in detail at excerpts from the sources used to write the life and times of Richard III in the last half millennium. I’ll explain their contexts and meanings, and consider the ways in which historians have understood them in the past and how we might look at them today.


Couple things to start off — probably elementary for most readers:

  • We historians are “source geeks” and “archive rats.” Before we make claims, we like to have evidence. We get our evidence from sources. A source can be anything that we can all examine. The most frequent sources historians use are texts, documents, or material objects, or, in modern history, interviews, photographs, or films and recordings. Sometimes sources disappear entirely, or over long intervals — in those cases, we look at records of those sources as available.
  • Historians conventionally divide between primary and secondary sources (although this division is not a strict one). Primary sources stem from the immediate surroundings of the events they capture and include reports by eyewitnesses, recordings, artifacts, and so on. Secondary sources, in contrast, build upon primary sources to provide their accounts of historical matters. Historians concentrate on identifying primary sources for their accounts, although they are not inherently more accurate than secondary sources.
  • Ideally, a historian hopes to examine many primary sources. One of the big problems in writing a biography of Richard is that so many primary sources either never existed or have not survived, particularly those that might answer questions that interest us most, so that the first secondary sources, which were negative to Richard, became disproportionately influential.
  • Comparing information from different sources allows us to come to judgment about the past. A judgment about the past is more secure, the more often it is corroborated by independent sources (ones that do not simply repeat each other’s claims). Thus we talk about and critique the transmission of particular chains of evidence from source to source. Where a source does not speak, most historians prefer to state that no conclusion can be drawn.
  • No source is neutral, just as no history is neutral. Every source, every history, takes a point of view. It’s part of the historian’s job to discern and understand the source’s point of view in order to explain how that affects the information the source gives us. We call this process of assessing the reliability of a source, “source critique.”
  • In order to produce a source critique, or explain how information from sources is produced and presented, working historians use a “method” or “methods”; that is, we follow particular rules for drawing conclusions from certain kinds of sources. A method is adapted to its particular kind of source (we use textual methods on texts; mathematical methods on tax records; archaeological methods on bones — and so on). Different methods, when used appropriately, can allow us to see different elements in the same sources — it’s a bit like looking at an object under a UV light vs infrared light vs normal daylight. Similarly, a method will tell us what questions cannot be answered from a particular source.


Finally, the point of these posts isn’t to support or refute the case for or against Richard III. Rather, it’s to try to understand the points of view held by the people most responsible for creating his reputation in the last five centuries. In understanding the sources about Richard better, we can come to understand his age and the factors that shaped him — and the people who have written about him — more effectively.


Royal & Battle News


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For Our King Richard (FanstRAvaganza Finale)

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♛ Poll for Our King Richard ♛

Today ends this year’s fan-event “FanstRAvaganza 4“.
It in a very extraordinary way shows the wide variety of supporters and fans of Richard Armitage.
We participated with our King Richard III topics here, but the variety and artful creations during and beyond the event are rather unlimited.
The curiosity of fans seems endless.
King Richard III currently causes such a lot of different opinions and heated discussions.
This awakened my curiosity to find out the opinion among our readers about all these options for King Richard III’s re-interment.
As we are not influenced by marketing or tourism interests nor by local patriotism, but watch these discussions from a rather neutral vantage point, we dare to take up the heated discussions and ask the difficult question what would be the best way to proceed.
So instead of doing a King Richard and Richard Armitage Quiz at the end of FanstRAvaganza 4, as initially intended, here comes a poll about central questions of the current debate about King Richard III’s re-interment:
Location and Procedure for King Richard III’s re-interment (Poll 4)
I hope we collected the most interesting options for you and you will enjoy participating.
If you miss some options you would have rather liked, please leave your suggestions in the comment area on the Poll page. Thank you!

♛ King Richard III ♛



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– RIII-articles from the year 2012 – complete list of the year 2011


David Harpham – Warwick the ‘Kingmaker’

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Historian & Author


♛ David Harpham ♛


David Harpham

David Harpham

Today, I can present a new contributor and very talented young historian her on the KingRichardArmitage website:

David Harpham

He studied at the University of York and at the University of Sheffield, where the dissertation for his Masters degree in Medieval History focused on the relationship between the Nobility, the ‘Community’ and emerging perceptions of ‘the Realm’ in the Wars of the Roses era. (Short biography available here.)
David Harpham’s articles I read so far, convince me that a bright writing career lies before this young historian.

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick

Earl of Warwick “Kingmaker” (Source:

What David can do with a biography about Richard Neville, 16th earl of Warwick, called ‘the Kingmaker’, is really a joy to read and easily bridges the gap of over 500 years to our time.
David Harpham will entrance you in the life of a fascinating major player of the ‘Wars of the Roses’, who was so very influential for the education of the young Richard III during his time at Middleham.
Warwick the ‘kingmaker’ is also King Richard III’s father-in-law, as Richard III later married his daughter Anne Neville.
But now, I won’t divulge much more here and directly lead you to the full article:

David Harpham – Richard Neville – the legend and legacy of ‘Kingmaker’


“Royal News & Battle Report”

David Harpham here also has an interesting article with the historian’s perspective on the ‘Battle of the Cities‘:

Richard III – Heritage magnet or Tourism treasure?


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– RIII-articles from the year 2012 – complete list of the year 2011


Interview with Author Isolde Martyn

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Interview with


♛ Isolde Martyn ♛

Our interview partner today is well known here on the KRA-website, as Ms Martyn already represented Australia and the research association The Plantagenet Society of Australiy here in this interview.
Today, we want to present Ms Isolde Martyn with her excellent knowledge about King Richard III, his family, background and the time of the Wars of the Roses in general, together with her wonderful book publications.
I am currently reading Ms Martyn’s book “The Devil in Ermine“, which will come out shortly (Yes, I have a pre-verion ;o)
And I can tell you, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I am in total awe of this well researched and gripping depiction of the decisive year 1483 in King Richard III’s life seen and told from the perspective of his cousin, the Duke of Buckingham.
The revolt by Buckingham, the reasons, the background are so well told that I really feel for the characters described in the book and see all the motives so well coming together and building the story. The book really has gripped me.
(I will let you know as soon as the book becomes available. – I know I am cruel here, stoking your curiosity, while I am already reading it ;o)
But now I let Ms Martyn tell you more about her connections and research about King Richard III and her new just published book “Mistress to the Crown” about Jane Shore:
Why do you choose the period of the late Middle Ages? It was a time of hardships, especially for women, of fierce fights and wars man against man, of romantic knights, …
What is so very special about this time period in England that it can especially grip the interest of modern time readers?

The seesawing of fortune during the Wars of the Roses. One moment you have a man who is King of England, next day he is a penniless refugee at the court of Burgundy. Life could change in an instant. This means that a novelist can put a lot of pressure on a historical character. How will he or she react to being charged with treason? Can they regain their lands?


What did especially trigger your interest in the Plantagenets and specifically King Richard III?

I read Josephine Tey’s book, The Daughter of Time when I was 14 and I watched Shakespeare’s history plays.
Apart from Richard III, the person that fascinated me most in that era was the lady spy who passed through Calais. I was determined one day to write a novel about her. To do that well, I needed to go to a university that specialised in the Wars of the Roses and study the Yorkist era properly. Fortunately, I was able to go to the University of Exeter. Yes, and my novel about the woman spy–THE MAIDEN AND THE UNICORN–eventually won major awards in America and Australia.


The research about King Richard III shows that sciences did develop greatly and allow deeper insights, though the time gap between our time and the researched time period becomes greater.
Some things are documented quite well, others are lacking and gaps in our knowledge about the time partially are still great.
How do you cope with those holes in historical documentation for your writing?

You are right, there are few facts. We have to be open-minded about historical sources. For example, how informed were the chroniclers? Where did their ‘facts’ come from? Were they–or their sources–politically biased?
Yes, this lack of information makes it wonderful for the novelist. However, as a historian, I try to adhere to what is known. If Richard was at Middleham on a certain day, I would not have him somewhere else for the sake of the story-plot. I think an author needs to make it clear what is fact and what is fiction in a novel’s History Note and List of Characters. That is why Shakespeare’s wicked Richard III has had such impact. When people see something enacted, they are more likely to accept it as true. There is rarely a note at the beginning of a film saying ‘this screenplay was written for drama and entertainment, and some of it may not be true’.


How do you see the relevance of the current archaeological research about the human remains of King Richard III in Leicester? – For your writing, for the available knowledge about the time, for the interpretation of King Richard III, for Leicester, …

As the skeleton is Richard’s, knowing how tall he was, what he might have looked like or eaten before the battle is marvellous. For historians, comparing the physical evidence with the historical sources and legend raises some interesting issues. For example, the evidence of scoliosis. This means that the Tudor slurs about Richard’s appearance did have an element of truth. The portraits of Richard, where changes have been made to show one shoulder higher than the other, may have to be assessed differently now.
I should like to know from medical experts whether the scoliosis could be due to a heel wound at Barnet or Tewekesbury or from combat practice? Or would he have had the condition when he was a child?
As regards Leicester, if Richard is reinterred in the cathedral, I think Leicester City Council will have to take much greater care of the historical areas of the city, especially those beyond the ring road. These seemed very neglected last time I was there.


What do you do to prepare yourself to get into the mood of the late Middle Ages to write about the time and such realistic characters as you create in your books?

It’s hard to sum this up for you.
I read literature from that era, e.g. Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, and I pick out imagery and phrases that could be used in dialogue.
How would a man have felt at that moment in his life, given the occasion, the weather, what he was wearing, what was at stake for him, who he was dealing with, his health, what he ate for breakfast? It can be the small details that can make a character seem real. When Warwick the Kingmaker knelt so long for forgiveness in front of Margaret d’Anjou in 1470, did his legs go numb (do you say ‘pins and needles’ in German? [Comment CDoart: We say the limbs ‘fall asleep’]) Did he have to be helped to his feet?


What started your interest in the setting and the characters of your new books?

I was going to write a novel about Margaret Beaufort (as a villain) but Buckingham was like a little boy waving his hand in a classroom, ‘What about me, Miss? Write the book about me!’ So my novel THE DEVIL IN ERMINE is the events of 1483 from Buckingham’s point of view. I hope to have it up as an e-book very soon but there have been some hitches in getting the format right.
MISTRESS TO THE CROWN came out in Australian shops in February and will be available soon in Germany and the U.K. I wanted to write about a woman who was at the heart of events in Yorkist England. Mistress Shore, King Edward’s lover, was perfect. No one had written a novel yet about the real Mistress Shore. Her name was Elizabeth Lambard and she was the daughter of a wealthy alderman, who was Sheriff of London and a supporter of the house of York.


More details about Ms Martyn’s latest book publication “Mistress to the Crown“:
Mistress to the Crown by Isolde Martyn
Mistress to the Crown

About Jane Shore, mistress to King Edward IV’s and involved in an intrigue against King Richard III, and her struggle for freedom.


Isolde Martyn online:’s page

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– RIII-articles from the year 2012 – complete list of the year 2011


Richard Armitage & Richard III


♛ King Richard Armitage ♛

The oh so hotly awaited ‘full’ interview with Richard Armitage by Emily Anderson now has taken place on BBC Radio Leicester today.
I am not really sure why they had made all that fuzz about the ‘full’ in their advertisements for this interview, as it hardly contained any more information than the as preview announced interview last Sunday, 10.03.2013. has the full recording for you to listen in.
For our “Richard Armitage” page we updated the transcript of the interview and have it available here.
Transcript and audio-file of the interview version 10.03.2013 on BBC Radio Leicester (
Audio file for the interview version of 13.03.2013 (

♛ Battle of the Cities ♛

The KingRichardArmitage website does not take sides in this battle of the cities for all the reasons stated here by Roswitha.
When we read that Leicester Cathedral tries to squeeze King Richard III into their cathedral, because they don’t find the space to adequately place a tomb, I’d rather they stepped back and let someone else handle the procedure.
Leicester Cathedral – Design Brief (published 13.03.2013)
As you can see from the following news-list, the topic about the burial place really got immediate and wide attention:


What Fans do for Richard Armitage & King Richard III

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♛ Spy- & Fan-Supply ♛

If the news does not flow in as expected, fans tend to fill in the blanks.
But this creation here bursts all descriptions and is a brilliant summing up of deep research about fandom, fan expectations, the actor Richard Armitage and a very accurate evaluation of the mechanisms and motives of the film industry.
So now, I don’t want to hold you back much longer and send you directly to this brilliant article by well known blogger Servetus from Me+Richard:

Part 1: Armitage nepotist


Part 2: Armitage nepotist: The afternoon transcript

Readers, be warned. Fan-technology is not up to it right now, but may be soon? ;o)

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– RIII-articles from the year 2012 – complete list of the year 2011


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22nd 2022, 6 p.m. (CET)
we have 2482 signatures.

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January 23, 2022

Royal Family: The deadly sickness that killed Henry VIII’s brother and thousands of others before vanishing without a trace (by Bea Isaacson,

January 8, 2022

Can new evidence clear the name of Richard III? (by Chris Lloyd, Darlington & Stockton Times)

December 29, 2021

Did Richard III actually save the boy king he’s accused of killing? (by Lydia Starbuck, Royal Central)

April 23, 2021

Steve Coogan movie The Lost King begins filming (by, British Comedy Guide)

January 31, 2021

Barnard Castle boars date back to King Richard III (by Andrew White, The Northern Echo)

January 12, 2021

Alternate history: what if Richard III had won at Bosworth? – Professor Emeritus Michael Hicks interviewed by Jonny Wilkes (by Jonny Wilkes, Professor Emeritus Michael Hicks, BBC History Revealed)

September 11, 2020

Steve Coogan and Stephen Frears to collaborate on The Lost King (

April 9, 2020

Steve Coogan confirms Richard III movie ‘next year’ (by BBC East Midlands,

November 1, 2019

Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth – By Mike Ingram (HeritageDaily)

October 8, 2019

Painted as a villain – how the Tudors regarded Richard III (by Christina J. Faraday, APOLLO.The International Art Magazine)


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