Books

Happy Birthday & Quiz Winners Revealed !

 
 

Happy Birthday, King Richard III !

 
To be exact, happy 562. birthday !
 
KRA has no real birthday present for King Richard III, but we have three wonderful presents for our three
 

KRA-Champions 2014,

 
who won the KRA Quiz 2014:
 
KRA-Banner Quiz 2014
 

The prices for our winners are:

  • Finding Richard III: The Official Account“, by Annette Carson, Philippa Langley, Dr. Ashdown-Hill (Pb)
  •  

  • Richard III: A Small Guide to the Great Debate” by Annette Carson (Pb)
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  • The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III“, by Philippa Langley, Michael Jones (Pb)

 
Our three winners and this year’s King Richard Armitage – Champions are:
 

  • Iwona
  •  

  • Janet Slocombe
  •  

  • Andrea Castano

Congratulations
 
 
And they really are champions.
I admit, the quiz was hard this year, really hard.
So again this year, the selection of the winners was a point decision.
Still, I hope you all had fun answering the trick- and not so tricky questions.
 
 
The solution-page unfortunately was accumulated in a bit of a rush, as I had an overly hectic month of September, but I will try to extend it with more details and background information.
 
 

King Richard III & Envy

 
In my whole observations about the research concerning King Richard III, I always wonder, why everybody thinks to be able to judge him on some prejudice, rumour, envy or other motive and readily dismisses valid research done on a broad basis evaluating the available material.
A historian is bound to build as complete a basis for a research as possible and only after reviewing all (!) available sources, is allowed to come to a conclusion and has to argument from all possible angles the validity of the own conclusions.
 
So you will find me shaking my head in utter astonishment concerning the current discussion about King Richard III, which gets high press coverage in renowned newspapers and magazines.
I also find it hard to decide how best to present this new discussion to you, as in the major part it is so nonsensical, that I wonder why it gets so much and famous attention at all.
 
First I want to state that I am in no way connected to or bound to defend the University of Leicester and one certainly can argue if all researches done by them were necessary or interfered with the dignity of the person of King Richard III, but this current discussion certainly shows they were exceedingly necessary.
 
The argument now raised against the University of Leicester and their result to confirm the identity of the found skeleton as being of King Richard III, is that the skeleton could easily be of some other soldier buried there, just conveniently being of the direct female line leading to King Richard III’s mother.
How many unaccounted for relatives, having the exact female blood line of King Richard III, do you think are lying around somewhere? Or better are lying around at the exact spot King Richard III should be? And in addition have died in the Battle of Bosworth or by incident around that time near Leicester, so that they are buried in the Grey Friars’ Abbey? While just in the late court battle, one of the main arguments against a burial in Leicester is, that King Richard III’s family just had no connections to Leicester? So how can forgotten relatives turn up there? And were the ‘grey friars’, while so discriminating in burying people in the choir of their church, suddenly burying soldiers from the battlefield, carting them all the way from the Bosworth battlefield? Why then were only so few skeletons found and not hundreds and only one with battle marks? Oh, and what a strange method to bury them without clothes and with bound hands? Really, the ‘grey friars’ must have had no piety at all…
 
I could go on much longer, as a result of the conclusive multitude of researches done by the University of Leicester and though some think it may now be enough research done on the skeleton of King Richard III, still the results in their entirety (not necessarily one taken on its own) give us a very complete and convincing affirmation of the skeleton’s identity as being King Richard III.
 
Especially helpful in that regard to see the full picture of research results and why they were done, is the excessive pre-research done by Dr. John Ashdown-Hill, who with great determination researched the potential last burial place of King Richard III from all historical angles and laid down his progress of research as well as the conclusions he came to in his work “The Last Days of Richard III”, which we have recommended here repeatedly, as it is the go-to research which was essential in finding King Richard III.
 
 
You see, I think the counter-argument just is so far-fetched as envy possibly can make it. Perhaps, it is due to scholars feeling left out from the euphoria and joy over the find in Leicester and now try to jump on the media attention created by the extraordinary research results in Leicester.
I just don’t get it, why the media jumps on this envy train so readily and let itself be used in such a way.
 
The news stream includes the articles of this new conflict in the sidebar and in the 2014-archive (entries dated around the end of March 2014).
 
But it provides heated arguments and is one more battle area in the new “Wars of the Roses” or rather a new skirmish.
 
(I am quite certain the list of battles around King Richard III will have to be continued …)
 
But now to something creative and constructive about King Richard III:
 
 


♛ King Richard III ♛


 
Matt Lewis – New Podcast series about King Richard III (iTunes)
 

 
Also available via the YouTube channel of Matt Lewis.
 

Research & King Richard’s Life

 
First of all, before I start with news about King Richard III and actor Richard Armitage again in the new year 2014,
I hope you reached the year 2014 in good health and will have a wonderful and successful year!!!
 
My own beginning of the year 2014 was a bit sub-optimal in various aspects and so the year ahead has a very wide bandwidth of opportunity to get better ;o)
Hopefully your start into 2014 was better than mine and the year advances to a fantastic outcome, maybe even the hotly anticipated announcement of the King Richard Armitage – film.
 
 


♛ King Richard Armitage ♛


 

  • The Sag Harbor Express: The Hobbit’s Hunks, Part II: Lee Pace and Richard Armitage, by Danny Peary (02.01.2014) – Interview where Richard Armitage once again mentions King Richard III as his inspiration for Thorin Oakenshield in “The Hobbit”:
    [SPOILER ALERT, as ending of “The Hobbit” trilogy/book is mentioned in the following quote!]

    Danny Peary: Would you play your character any differently if you didn’t know that at the end of Tolkien’s book he dies?

    Richard Armitage: No, probably not. His death scene was left until quite late in the shoot. We didn’t shoot it until pick-ups, which I think was a good thing because I’d almost forgotten about that moment coming. I think that part of the creation of this character is offering the audience and other characters in the movie a potential future. He had to be someone who was going to be king, he was going to sit on that throne and return the dwarves to their former glory. And in a way, his death has to come by surprise to him. Having said that, I think one of the things – talking about Shakespeare again – that I admire about Richard the III is that he rides across the battlefield to fight, single-handedly, for his kingdom, for his crown. In the Battle of the Five Armies, Thorin is going to do something like that. It’s fatalistic. It’s fatalistic. It’s almost an act of suicide. Playing it, it’s good I forgot I needed to die!

 
 
But now to the late news and, you will almost expect it already, a new petition about King Richard III:
 
 


♛ King Richard III ♛


 
New Petition about King Richard III’s remains and their interim resting place:
Justice Review panel on the subject of Richard III, London,England.: Remove the remains of King Richard III to a neutral site
 
The current treatment of King Richard III’s bones reveals much about our modern attitude and lax treatment of death and the dead.
While such a treatment would have been seen as denigrating and demeaning to a person of King Richard III’s time, when the body was seen as a sacred unity given by God. Even medical research into the inner parts and structure of the body was met with great aversion and even banned by the church as it was destroying the God given ‘body’. Though it could be argued that King Richard III with his connections to scholars of the university of Padua might have had a more pro-active approach. Only a time-traveler might find out the truth and I hope he will then let us know …
Please take part in the petition(s) as you see fit and your belief dictates you.
 

Books & King Richard III

 
 


♛ King Richard & Books ♛


 
Christmas is coming up and as books still are one of the most favourite presents, I collect some reading tips here for you.
 
Not that I get through the multitude of new publications about King Richard right now – and some books still await me at Christmas – but there are new books I especially wanted to bring to your attention and recommend here, as I enjoyed reading them myself.
 
If you have books you would like to add to this recommendation, please feel free to either post them in the comment section of this post or send me a mail (contact form) to write and explain more about your recommendation and why you like the book(s).
 
Victoria Smith let us know her favourite King Richard III novel “The Murders of Richard III” by Elizabeth Peters and especially wrote a review for us.
 

(As usual here on KRA, earnings from embedded affiliate links on this site go to the charities recommended by actor Richard Armitage on his JustGiving page.)

 
 


♛ King Richard & Jane Shore ♛


 

Isolde Martyn – “Mistress to the Crown”

 
“Mistress to the Crown” follows the life and struggle for freedom of Jane Shore, the famous and influential mistress of King Richard III’s oldest brother, King Endward IV.
 
Her life never appeared to me as an especially romantic one, so a novel about Jane Shore coming out in a publishing house known for its extensive romantic novels instantly got my full interest.
 
From my previous comments about other works of the author Isolde Martyn, you already know that I adore her writing style.
Isolde Martyn also does not disappoint in this novel:
 

  • Her writing is fluent and gripping that once I began reading, I could not put the book down. Though I already know the story of Jane Shore, I still needed to know how her life and fate unfolds in the story.
  •  

  • The historical research which went into this novel is extensive and far beyond what I would normally expect from a historical novel. So for me, Isolde Martyn’s novels clearly are in a ‘historical novel’ class of their own.
    But the astonishing part of this for me is, that the books do not appear like a historical lecture, but unobtrusively and fluently the fate of Jane Shore unfolds in a way where I begin to care for her, while I never felt very ‘understanding’ for her and her fate before.
  •  

  • For all King Richard interested readers, of course King Richard plays his role in the book as well, though more as a background figure, but still actively influencing the fate of Jane Shore.

 
At the time of the first English publication (03/2013), we published an
interview with author Isolde Martyn (14.03.2013).
 
Now, the book is also available in a German edition:

(The print edition was not available via Amazon.de at the time of the post, but should be shortly. If you want to order it for Christmas, here is the direct link to the publisher.)
 
Links to the English version:

 
 


♛ King Richard & Art ♛


 
Author Matthew Lewis (interview of 27th of August 2013, with book links) in his novel “Loyalty” follows Jack Leslau’s (http://www.holbeinartworks.org/) research and picture analysis and brings King Richard III in connection with the Holbein household.
 

 


♛ King Richard & Research ♛


 

University of Leicester: ‘Beyond reasonable doubt’: archaeologists give first-hand account of Richard III discovery in new book, by Peter Thorley (04.11.2013)
 
From the intense research done to find and identify King Richard III, I must admit, I had expected a big volume of a book. The publication is a rather slim one, but so much filled with detail and information, that I am not the least bit disappointed.
Though much of the information and material had been published in the press already, the explanations and collection of image material and details known about King Richard III is unique and I am very glad to have this book as a valuable reference about the last days of King Richard III as well as his discovery in Leicester.
So though the book is not a detailed description about how King Richard III was found in Leicester – go to the publication by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones for that – I really can recommend this book for the invaluable collection of research results.
 


 

Philippa Langley/Michael Jones: The King’s Grave

 

 


 
Dr. John Ashdown-Hill did the essential research to enable the following work by the University of Leicester to find King Richard III.
His publications show the fascinating search for details so far missing or overlooked, but which proved to be exceedingly necessary to the final search:
 

 
More details about Dr. John Ashdown-Hill.
 
Just recently published:

 
Dr. John Ashdown-Hill also works on a new publication about King Richard III’s brother, George Plantagenet, the Duke of Clarence – you know the always irritating one where legend has it that he ended in a butt of Malmsey wine.
 
Announced for March 2014:

 


 
More book and author recommendations.
 
 

 
 

Book Review: Victoria Smith presents “The Murders of Richard III” by Elizabeth Peters

 

Elizabeth Peters “The Murders of Richard III”

 


♛ Review by Victoria Smith ♛


 
I love a good story. History is so often presented as a dry collection of names and dates, when in reality history is a retelling off the lives of people. And people are very rarely as dry as a list of their names and dates and would suggest.
So, when it comes to history I have learned more from well researched historical fiction than any academic tome.
 
Such was the case with The Murders of Richard the III written by Elizabeth Peters (Barbara Mertz).
She has a PhD in Egyptology and Ms. Peter’s scholastic aptitude is apparent in her historically detailed mysteries.
 
This book is set at a weekend retreat of Ricardians, who have gathered to reveal new evidence that they believe will finally exonerate Richard III of the murders of his nephews. With the media descending someone begins to recreate the murders attributed to Richard III. Debates about the legitimacy of Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, the political machinations of the Duke of Buckingham, and the fates of the princes are peppered throughout the novel as the Ricardians are torn between solving the mysterious fate of the princes or identifying who is trying to discredit them or silence them forever.
 
I read the book because Elizabeth Peters is one of my favorite authors.
But, while the book is entertaining, it caused me to question my assumptions about Richard III. Most of what I thought about Richard III seems to have been based on Shakespeare’s’ interpretation of his character. As I read, I found myself chuckling over a character’s passionate disparaging of Sir Thomas More’s biography of Richard III as Tudor propaganda and wondering about the man who, in his short reign, was the center of so much conflict both during his lifetime and ours.
Not what I expected when I picked up Ms. Peters book for a few hours of entertainment!
 
For those of you who are well versed in Ricardian lore this book will not be a source of education as it was for me but you just might enjoy the humorous and engaging read.
 

 

King Richard News & Reviews

 


♛ King Richard III ♛


 

  • UK Human Rights Blog: Richard III on the move again – pitched into the current judicial review debate, by David Hart QC (23.10.2013)
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  • Lancashire Evening Post: Book review: The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones, by Pam Norfolk (24.10.2013)
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  • The Times: A weekend in … Richard III’s Leicester, by Stephen McClarence (24.10.2013) – A journey through King Richard III’s Leicester and Bosworth, with good tips and recommendations, if you plan a trip yourself!
  •  

  • The Hinckley Times: Vote on Richard III art to mark Bosworth connection, by Rachel Parish (28.10.2013)
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  • The Yorkshire Times: Philippa Langley, Michael Jones And Richard III, by Paul Morrison (28.10.2013)
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  • The Guardian: The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III by Philippa Langley and Michael Jomes – review, by Thomas Penn (30.10.2013) – Quite detailed review about “The King’s Grave” by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones.
    Though, I must say, as one with a sibling having a similar condition as King Richard III had, just lower on the back, but almost as severe, I vehemently insist (!) on calling it a ‘condition’ and not a ‘disability’.
    The reviewer Mr. Penn should do some more medical research in this aspect, then he perhaps would recognize that this ‘condition’ not necessarily disables the afflicted from doing anything.
    In the case of King Richard III, the way and position his skeleton was found in could also have added to the severeness of the ‘condition’. So to really judge how much ‘disabled’ he was because of this ‘condition’ would necessitate a time-travel jump to see him alive.
    Seeing my sibling and comparing their ‘conditions’, I would even go so far as to think that the ‘condition’ only became known because of the exposure of his naked body after his death and posed a great opportunity to ‘bedevil’ the dead predecessor on the throne. This also would answer, why no contemporary source exists which mentions King Richard III’s ‘condition’ before his death.
    Though this is no total proof, as Henry Tudor and his minions were quite meticulous with destroying all evidence of his predecessor. So we for once might thank Henry Tudor for this cleaned up picture of King Richard III or this eternal riddle.
    Perhaps Thomas Penn, who also is the author of the book “The Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England” about the reign of King Henry VII and the foundation of the Tudor dynasty, reveals more about the Tudor king’s way of transforming the perception and creating the story for history there. Though the topic of his book alone show, where his favours in the Battle of Bosworth lie.

 

Philippa Langley & King Richard III

 


♛ Philippa Langley ♛


 

  • BBC News Entertainment & Arts: Richard III hunter co-authors book on car park King (17.10.2013) – Philippa Langley and Michael Jones interviewed by Nick Higham about their new book and about ‘respect and dignity’ for King Richard III.
    Interesting video with the full interview in the article!
  •  
    .
     

     
     

    History Extra Interview – Philippa Langley and Michael Jones

     
    About the search for King Richard III and his grave

     
    Where should King Richard III be buried?

     
    Philippa Langley and the Channel4 documentary

     
    About the Princes in the Tower

     
    About “The White Queen”

     
     


    ♛ King Richard III ♛


     

    King Richard III in Print

     


    ♛ King Richard III ♛


     

    • ITV.com: Richard III book launched in Leicester (05.10.2013) – Booklaunch by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones, co-authors of the book about “The Search for Richard III. The Kings Grave”.
    •  
      .
       

    • ReadFulThingsBlog.com: The King’s Grave: by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones, by IoniaMartin (05.10.2013) – Detailed review about the book publication by Philppa Langley and Michael Jones.
    •  

    • Express: Book Review: The search for Richard III by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones, by Nigel Jones (06.10.2013) – The author of this review perhaps best describes his own review:

      curiously lop-sided

      The review is – as far as I can tell – solely based on the reading of the index and appendix of the book, which does not highly recommend its accuracy or significance to me, especially as it is in complete disagreement with the previous review by IoniaMartin. As the reviewer also has written a book about the Tower and the Princes in the Tower, it seems his review is more in his own defence, rather than an objective critique of the new publication.
      I will hold back my final judgement till I get my version of “The King’s Grave. The Search for Richard III”, but so far this review only reached to confirm my opinion that historians don’t like to re-research comfortably settled and accepted ‘truths’, even when new aspects arise.

    •  

    • GranthamJournal.co.uk: Richard III archaeologist to give talk in Grantham (06.10.2013) – Richard Buckley will give a talk about King Richard III and his discovery in Grantham, Harrowby Methodist Church on Saturday, 19 October 2013.
    •  

    • BBC News: Richard III Towton chapel remains are ‘found’ (07.10.2013) – To commemorate the many fallen in the Battle of Towton (1461), King Richard III began to build a chapel at the site, which at the time of his death was not yet completed and never was finished at a later time. (For more details about the battle and its significance, see: Towton Battlefield society
    •  

    • The Northern Echo: Cabinet Minister insists remains of Richard III must be buried in Leicester – not York, by Robert Merrick, Parliamentary Correspondent (08.10.2013) – Parliamentary debate in the Commons about final resting place for King Richard III and an independent panel to determine it.
    •  

    • Helen Rae Rants (Blog): The Wars of the Roses refought over Richard III’s Re-burial, by Helen Rae Rants! (09.10.2013) – A quote I just need to share, especially after the strange review mentioned above…
      Helen Rae about Philippa Langley:

      Me, I think she [Philippa Langley] deserves a medal for her efforts and the contribution she’s made to Ricardian history.

    •  

    • ThisIsLeicestershire.co.uk: Justice secretary insists Richard III be buried in Leicester, by David Owen (09.10.2013) – Justice secretary Chris Grayling speaks in the Commons.
    •  

    • InLoughborough.com: A year of discoveries showcased at the University of Leicester (10.10.2013) – Open Day at the University of Leicester on the 12th October 2013 will showcase King Richard III!
    •  

    • ThisIsLeicestershire.co.uk: Richard III: What do the people of York think? By Peter Warzynski (11.10.2013) – A brave journalist on his way to York to search for the truth. Is the new ‘War of the Cities’ that easy – York for York and Leicester for Leicester? Frontiers never were that easy during King Richard III’s days and never were clear and defined for him. Enemies became friends and friends easily and without prior notice became traitors. Otherwise the devastation of Bosworth never would have happened…
      Find out, if our frontiers are any different today from those 500 years back, here in this research by Peter Warzynski.
      [Should have known that Peter Warzynski was brave enough to find the truth. After all he was not frightened to come into contact with fans of an actor and wonderfully presented Leicester and his work and archaeological digging for King Richard III here on our website (24.08.2013).]

    KRA-Week 2013-7: Finding Richard III as a Result of Historical Research – Dr. Ashdown-Hill

     
    KRA-Week 2013 - Banner 2

    Links: King Richard Week 2013 & Quiz

     
     


    ! Attention !

     

    Last day of quiz-entries taking part in the drawing!
    (Today till midnight [GMT] !)
    Quiz prizes are: Two books by
    Isolde Martyn “The Devil in Ermine”


     
     
     


    ♕ ♛ ♕

     

    History’s new potential

     

    in the discoveries of Dr. John Ashdown-Hill

     


     
     
    Why a special article about Historian Dr. Ashdown-Hill here, during the KRA week, when we already had interviews and present his research work here on the website?
     

     
    And other articles already covered the topic of ‘airbrushing’ Dr. Ashdown-Hill out of the story of finding King Richard III:

     
    There was something I needed to figure out and I want to present some of my thoughts and results to you here.
     
     

    Dr. John Ashdown-Hill

    Dr. John Ashdown-Hill


    Dr. Ashdown-Hill is an open-minded researcher, who searched for facts, where others readily followed legend – over centuries.
     
    As the dissection of legend in the case of King Richard III was so very important, to even allow the beginning of the search, I cannot readily understand, why the one man, doing all the work mostly singlehandedly, strongly believing in the validity of his finds, does not get the praise he deserves.
     
    It required already great effort together with Philippa Langley, to even raise sufficient doubt with researchers and officials in Leicester, to get their agreement to do a paid contracted search and give all the required permissions for the digging.
    (And here a big motive for the specialists was that they could at least find other historically significant material for Leicester, to make it worth their while, which in the end caused their agreement to start digging.)
     
    But why chose exactly this location for the digging, when the supposed location, indicated by a plaque, was so far away from it?
    That was the result of a meticulous research of maps and sources about Leicester – done by Dr. John Ashdown-Hill.
    He recognized, that some newer maps were inaccurate (the street drawn at the wrong side of the Greyfriars’ church, according to written sources of contemporaries) and the old medieval streets must have been located a bit differently from what reconstructions of historical Leicester so far made believe.
    This changed the location and the area of research entirely and was based on the research of Dr. John Ashdown-Hill.
    So, why is there no mention of this fact?
     
    You would think, after all this research so essential for finding King Richard III, there should be a hall of fame for Dr. Ashdown-Hill.
    Perhaps next year’s opening of the King Richard Museum in Leicester will remedy that fact and will give praise where praise so clearly is deserved.
     
    We at the KRA website already started our small contribution to a ‘hall of fame’ here and hope to be able to contribute to set things straight.
     
     
    One aspect, which especially fascinates me in the work of Dr. Ashdown-Hill, is his research, remaining unbiased by the ‘mainstream’ line of previous historical research and starting to get to the fact beneath layers of wrong and long traded interpretation.
     
    This is a fact which exceedingly makes me happy about the research of Dr. John Ashdown-Hill and the finding of King Richard III.
    It gives me hope for the art of history in its entirety, that with new perspectives and openness, history with its extensive tools and methods is able to discover great things about the past in the future.
    History loses its dust cover and the strictures and rules by some self announced dictators and starts to get truly ‘researchable’ again.
     
     
    So the real questions about King Richard III for me are not
    will he be buried in York or Leicester or …,
    was he a good or bad king,
    was he a saint or murderer,
     
    but that finding him was able to break up traditional perceptions of a story and a new approach was found and the truth behind it was revealed, after over 500 years!
     
    This fact alone makes me absolutely jubilant!
     
    History is no static entity any longer, but a playground opened up for new research. (While ‘playground’ not in the slightest means this is an easy task, but what history always has been, hard work and an enormous accumulation of knowledge of all kind.)
     
    So go and search and keep your mind open for any possible result!!!
     
     
    I hope to find out much more about the developments and events leading to the archaeological research in Leicester in the new book by Philippa Langley announced for the end of October 2013:
    .
     
    And Dr. John Ashdown-Hill publishes his new research about royal marriage traditions and currently works on a new book about Richard III’s third brother, George, Duke of Clarence:
    .
     
    Kindle version:
    .

     

    Links: King Richard Week 2013 & Quiz

    KRA-Week 2013 - Banner 2
     

    KRA Week 2013-3: History & Law – Author Matthew Lewis

     
    KRA-Week 2013 - Banner 2

    Links: King Richard Week 2013 & Quiz

     
     


    ♕ ♛ ♕

     

    Interview with author Matt Lewis

     

    about

     

    his research & King Richard III

     


     
     
    First of all, I need to confess, having such a knowledgeable author and researcher as interview partner let my curiosity run away with me. I hope you will enjoy the wonderful and insightful answers by author Matt Lewis.
     
    Matt Lewis also currently publishes a series of articles in defence of King Richard III on the Royal Central blog

    and an interview by Karen Kilrow with more background was published there (13.07.2013).
     
    But now to the interview and my curious questions:
     
     
    Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your historical background?

    I have been passionate about history since school, where it was my favourite subject. I studied the Wars of the Roses there and it immediately grabbed me. The intricacies of the family ties, the loyalties and the betrayals are like the plot of the most complex tv series you ever watched, only this was real people’s lives being torn apart.
    The story of Richard III was also something I was immediately fascinated by. The difference in his reputation before 1483 and after was so diametrically opposed that it just didn’t make sense. I had to learn more! An interest became a passion. I read book after book about the Wars of the Roses and Richard III and the more I read the more convinced I became that something was amiss.

     
     
    How does your legal background fit into your interest for history?

    At university I studied law and even that seemed to complement the study of history. I find that having a law degree complements an interest in history very well. A solicitor I worked for once told me that no one knows all of the law, the trick is knowing how and where to find what you need. This principle applies to history too. No-one knows all of history.
    The skills of research are the same. A law degree teaches you how to find facts, examine and understand them from all angles, to view things from the perspective of others and then present your findings. Historical research is identical. When writing fiction, legal training helps further because it teaches you to understand the facts and then make them prove what you need them to prove!

     
     
    Why is it so difficult to get unbiased research into the life and times of Richard III, even more than 500 years after his death?

    It is hard to understand why Richard III doesn’t get the kind of impartial study almost anyone else does. I think it is due in part to history, for purposes other than academic study, liking to box people up neatly as ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’. The Tudors followed Richard and were keen to present a picture of an England ravaged by tyranny from which they saved a grateful people. Obviously he was then maligned by Shakespeare and that image of him stuck. There has always been a core of historians keen to shine the light of fact on his reputation but it has been hard to fight against a presumed, accepted image. Because of this the argument becomes more polarized as some believe him an evil tyrant and others try to paint him as a saint. Somewhere in the middle the real man is lost. He was neither a saint nor a demon and until the argument moves away from such passionate polarization it will always prove hard to judge him dispassionately.

     
     
    Might this difficulty to get some resemblance of ‘justice’ for a historical figure have something to do with the current royal family descending from those getting into power after the Battle of Bosworth or the perception of a need to legitimize the later religious separation from Rome or have something to do with a modern interpretation of what monarchy and democracy should be or do?

    I think that the present royal family have little impact on the study of the history of personality. They would, I suppose, have a vested interest in the institution of monarchy and so would not wish to become embroiled in any kind of discussion of rights and wrongs. To do so opens them up for such criticism in the future. It is for this reason, I suspect, that the royal family is not keen to allow the opening of the urn in Westminster that supposedly contains the remains of the Princes in the Tower and of other royal tombs such as Edward IV’s for DNA comparison. I doubt that it relates to insecurity or rivalry but rather to the sanctity of those graves. There are human beings resting in peace there. If permission were given now, the same could happen in the future to those still alive now and they may well not want that. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Bosworth, Henry VII was anointed king, whether by right of blood or conquest becomes irrelevant. No-one could challenge the legitimacy of the current royal family now on that basis. If we look further back, Edward IV took the throne by force, as did Henry IV. Do we then head back to William the Conqueror?

     
     
    Will finding the ‘real’ King Richard III now help with the research to also start the search for the ‘real’ person, not the legend?

    The discovery of Richard III’s grave is an opportunity that I hope will be exploited to the full by those seeking a re-evaluation of his reputation. I noticed a real surge in sales of my novel when it was announced, so clearly interest has been captured and just needs to be exploited. The White Queen series has drawn attention to the Wars of the Roses period too. Visitors are pouring in to the exhibition at Leicester and I hope that they will be taking away a different perspective on him, if they are not already Ricardians! I was lucky enough to visit the dig site at Greyfriars on one of the open days and it sent a chill down my spine to think that I could be standing so close to the remains of a man I had studied for so long. I was like a crazed fan. I find it amazing that after everything that has happened on that site – the demolition of the monastery, the building of the mayor’s house and gardens, the demolition of that and all of the subsequent Victorian work, not to mention the laying of the car park – that his grave remained intact and unspoiled, missed by every pick axe and digger that had been on the site. His funeral will be another huge event, unlike anything we have seen before. It would be fantastic to make it there and I will be doing my best to attend some part of it.

     
     
    I hesitated a bit with the following question, not wanting to heat up the brewing battle. But Matt Lewis answered my question about King Richard III’s last resting place with grace and historical knowledge, so I need not have worried:
    With all the discussion about the ‘Battle of the Cities’, what is your position regarding the fighting towns York and Leicester?

    In terms of where he should be laid to rest, I have no issue giving my preference. From the very outset there has only been one place that I believe he should be buried and that is Westminster Abbey. He was a king of England and deserves no less. Much has been made of Leicester’s right to him and York’s desire for him. Indeed, it has been claimed that he wanted to be buried at York Minster. Whilst he was lord of the north for his brother this may have been his intention but by the time that he died he was King of England. The clearest indication of his final wishes is the fact that he had his wife buried at Westminster. He may well have intended to have their son moved there from Middleham too, but I think Anne’s presence at Westminster tells us all that we need to know about his wishes.

     
     
    How do you see the legal aspects of the appeal by the relatives of King Richard III, the Plantagenet Alliance?

    The legal challenge that has been brought is flawed in so far as those bringing it are not descendants of Richard III, they are descended from his siblings. It is also my understanding that the reburial of remains discovered during an archaeological dig does not require consultation with the relatives where the remains are over 100 years old, as those of King Richard clearly are. Best practice is to have remains interred at the nearest church or cathedral to the location they were discovered too. Leicester University appear to have done all that was required of them and I suspect that their wish to have him buried at Leicester Cathedral will be, in the end, granted.

     
     
    You wrote a historical novel about Richard III, clearly depicting Richard III as human being, not the caricature not only Shakespeare, but also some historians made and still make him.
    What is your reason to do so and where do you see you have to add to all the previous works and novels about Richard III?

    I wrote my novel as an indulgence really. It took about 10 years of picking it up and putting it down but I enjoyed writing and researching it. I tried to remain as historically accurate as possible, not least because the true story is far too interesting to have to invent anything! The book looks at the more domestic side of Richard’s life from the Battle of Barnet when he helped his brother Edward IV regain his throne to Bosworth. Most people know about the battles he fought, the seizure of the throne, the Princes in the Tower and the Battle of Bosworth but I wanted to explore him as a more rounded person, at home with his wife, relaxed with his friends, but still dealing with huge issues of national importance. ‘My’ Richard has faults, too. He is far from perfect. His temper is short and his inability to understand those who do not share his views leave him politically naive and exposed. The actions that he takes in the book broadly follow the known history, so if he attracts sympathy for his actions, it is because he deserves it.
    Whatever you decide about him by the end, at least it will be based on fact rather than accumulated mythology.
    Studying law helps to view things dispassionately, to detach from them and present them objectively. I am an ardent Ricardian, though I don’t necessarily belief he was without fault. I hope that by presenting a man trying his hardest to make his way in a hostile, uncertain world, struggling to protect his family, I could balance out the saint v tyrant argument a little.

     
     

     
    To what extent is your work “Loyalty” based on the research by Jack Leslau about the image interpretation and connection between Sir Thomas More and Hans Hobein? (Research presented on the website: www.holbeinartworks.org)

    I first read a brief reference to Jack Leslau’s work in A.J. Pollard’s King Richard III and the Princes in the Tower. It fascinated me and I read more. The more I learned the more interesting it became. In the end it provided the frame through which Richard’s story is told, so there is no doubt that it influenced me a great deal. Ricardians will probably know what that means for the story, but it is not well discussed beyond this. The sequel, which is nearing completion, follows both threads of this story to something which I believe is entirely new. At least I have never come across my next theory before! Holbein returns and we also follow the aftermath of Bosworth as those loyal to Richard who survive try to find a place for themselves in a changed world, a world that hunts them.

     
     
    You wrote two further works about King Richard III and the Wars of the Roses. Both are rather short volumes with highly condensed information, giving an excellent overview of events and happenings.
    What was your reason to write those and for which audience are they intended?

    I have begun a series of brief factual history books offering my take on the period I love. A Glimpse of King Richard III was born of the new interest in the king and is a very short biography. It is aimed squarely at those interested in the subject because of the recent discoveries and discussions but who do not wish to dive into a weight biography – though I enjoy these immensely, they are not for everyone. I thought those with a casual interest might pick it up and hopefully put it down with a different perspective on King Richard III. A Glimpse of the Wars of the Roses adds depth to the subject but is also brief, beginning with the roots of the conflict and then following the chronology of the politics and the battles. Again, with interest high and The White Queen drawing much attention, I thought some with a more casual interest in the period might find it interesting. There is more to come in the series too. Hopefully people will enjoy my lighter take on the complexities of the period.

     
     
    Book publications currently available by Matthew Lewis on Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk:
     
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