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Tuesday, 05 February 2013


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And your list of 225 books can be found where?

Hopefully not under a car park.

If they keep digging they might find Jimmy Hoffa.

Richard's reputation as a villain is probably unfair. There is evidence http://www2.le.ac.uk/projects/greyfriars/myth (final para for the tl;dr contingent) that there was sadness when people heard of his death.

It does all seem somehow a little too good to be true: the first trench, and practically the first discovery, was this skeleton.

"The 225 Books"

I'd love to see a copy of that list, Mike.

Examination of the remains shows he was not a hunchback, but suffered from curvature of the spine.

[True. The "hunchback" epithet is from Shakespeare.]

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York

I was listening to a radio interview with one of the team working on King Richards remains . He has some "Humiliation wounds, one of which was in his arse cheek. They think the wounds may have been inflicted after being thrown naked over the back of a horse.

Bit a battle starting between York and Leicester over where the king should rest

For acquaintance (or re-acquaintance) I heartily recommend the 1995 movie starring Ian McKellen as Richard along with "Looking for Richard", the Al Pacino documentary about the production of "Richard III" for the New York stage.

Is there someplace to get the list of 225 books?

Richard III and Richard Nixon -- both named "Richard." Coincidence? I think not! :-)

One of the best historical fantasy novels ever written was John M. "Mike" Ford's "The Dragon Waiting" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dragon_Waiting

It is set in the time of Richard III and proposes some rather ... unorthodox ... solutions to the historical issues. As I said, it is a fantasy so if you'd rather have your history sans magic using & the like, it wouldn't be for you.

But it is a glorious tale; well told by one of the masters.

Shamefully for the British press, the best summary of the evidence seems to be from the NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/world/europe/richard-the-third-bones.html

This contends that the DNA evidence seems to be fairly strong but also implies that more work is required.

"Is there someplace to get the list of 225 books?"

Never been published, alas. It started as an Appendix to a book I was writing called "Bib•li•o•mane," about my experiences as a book enthusiast. The list was fun to write. And research. (I like lists, if you haven't noticed.) It's possible I could resuscitate and restore it, assuming it still exists on a hard drive somewhere, but it would take some work.


Seconded on the request for the 225 books. And I ask that as a high school (physics) teacher. Please.

Says it all, really.

(Rowan Atkinson, playing Blackadder, from the BBS series, captioned.)

I assume that PC Plod doesn't have anyone in custody "assisting police with their inquiries"?

Hump? What Hump?......

(But I do second the Ian McKellen recommendation)

I knew him well, Horatio. A fellow of infinite jest. Where be your jibes now, your flashes of merriment?

The archaeologists were only following a hunch..

It's almost certain he didn't say 'A horse, my kingdom for a horse'. I think it's now been established that his last words were 'Treason! Treason! Treason!'. I read that in a book somewhere, but I'll be a Plantagenet if I can find it.

One aspect of this that makes it more likely that it *was* Richard was that research pretty clearly indicated where he'd been buried, if he'd been buried at all. It was almost more of an exhumation than it was an exploratory dig. I think taken with the other evidence, it almost certainly is him.

"The Daughter of Time" is a great book and a fun read. Highly recommended!


Another voice here looking to see (soon!) "the 225" as a 'Sunday Mike' post(s).....
perfectly acceptable to give it to us a bit at a time. Perhaps one entry/month?

The Josephine Tey story is brilliant: a hospitalised detective becomes obsessed with the story of the Princes and attempts to unravel the mystery from his sick bed. Despite being all about historical evidence and with a bed ridden hero and therefore no suspense in the usual sense it is completely gripping and very convincing in its conclusions. Try it ( it's short too, another great virtue).

Probably one of the best modern novels on Richard III is "The Sunne in Splendour" by Sharon Kay Penman http://www.amazon.com/The-Sunne-In-Splendour-Richard/dp/031237593X/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

Add me to the list who'd love to see the 225 books list if you can find it. Sounds like great fun.

I second the recommendation of The Daughter of Time. I read it in high school during the last millennium.

And I wonder if it is a coincidence the name of this post being so functionally like an episode title of the television series Bones? The star, Emily Deschanel is the daughter of Caleb Deschanel, the director of photography on my favorite epic movie, The Right Stuff (which featured Emily's mother Mary Jo Deschanel as Annie Glen). It all comes back to photography.


An additional note on the Ian McKellen version- the Duke of Clarence is presented as a photography enthusiast, seen briefly in the darkroom hanging prints to dry- not long before Richard arranges for his dear brother's early arrival in Heaven.

Mike, that list of 225 books with proper links to Amazon could make it a great month for TOP!

I'm a citizen of Leicester with an interest in local history, so this story has been very exciting. Even better, my daughter, a genetics scientist at Leicester University assisted Dr Turi King (who I've briefly met) with the project. We visited the site of Greyfriars back in the Autumn, about which I wrote about here:


It was a strange setting, streets and buildings that I'd seen for years and was so familiar with, where underneath a piece of tarmac a body had lain. Remarkable too was the fact that inches away from the skull were the footings of a Victorian building which has long since been demolished.

I live within a few miles of Bosworth Battlefield, where only a couple of years ago it was discovered that the Richard didn't actually die at the spot we've always been led to believe. The deed actually took place in a nearby field, once a marsh, not on Albion Hill.

Incidentally, in nearby Market Bosworth, there's a fish and chip shop called The Batter Of Bosworth!

'Josephine Tey' was the penname of Elizabeth Mackintosh, who also wrote as 'Gordon Daviot'. She wrote eight mysteries, all but the first excellent, and highly varied. The first was written for a contest, which it won (it's still bad.) I can never pick a favorite. The Daughter if Time is best known now because if its interesting device if investigating historical events as if a mystery. Most of Tey's mysteries feature Scotland Yard detective Alan Grant. In The Daughter of Time, while recuperating he gets caught up in the Richard III story and decides to apply his skills to its investigation.

Interestingly, Mackintosh was also a writer of plays based on English history under the name Gordon Daviot. The most successful was an early hit for Gielgud. Most celebrated of the mysteries in Tey's time was The Franchise Affair, which also borrows a story from history, though not in the same way. There really isn't a dud in the bunch after the first, The Man in the Queue, and even it is only bad in comparison to the rest, being a typical 1920s puzzle mystery.

The gentle To Love and Be Wise may be my favorite, or maybe Miss Pym Disposes, the funniest of the set? And what about Brat Farrar, a timeless tale of impersonation? Ugh. I see a bout of rereading coming on. Sorry for drifting from photography, but Tey is quite wonderful.

The reconstruction has a passing resemblance to Lord Farquadd from Shrek

I'll secon... er.. third... umm.. OK, I'll sixth the request to see the 225 list.

For those who want more details about exactly where the bones were found and the excavation, here are a couple of links:



HRH Richard III has cleverly set up a Twitter account and has been tweeting for some weeks in the run up to the press conference earlier this week. Now that the announcement earlier this week has officially come out in his favour, he's been tweeting Official Press Releases. For someone who's been buried for over 500 years, he's still got a good sense of humour. :-)



I found the list. It's called "222 Books by Genre."

It'll take some work to be publishable, but I'll work on it.


The Daughter of Time is a thumping good thriller. Don't pick it up, Mike, if you have urgent business to attend to — it's hard to put it down.

The historical rehabilitation of Richard III has long been underway, and in all likelihood rightly so. But "Julius Caesar was at heart a liberal reformer" — really, Mike? Methinks thou dost protest too much.

[I'll quote Wikipedia's wording: "During his early career, Caesar had seen how chaotic and dysfunctional the Roman Republic had become. The republican machinery had broken down under the weight of imperialism, the central government had become powerless, the provinces had been transformed into independent principalities under the absolute control of their governors, and the army had replaced the constitution as the means of accomplishing political goals. With a weak central government, political corruption had spiraled out of control, and the status quo had been maintained by a corrupt aristocracy, which saw no need to change a system that had made its members rich.

"Between his crossing of the Rubicon River in 49 BC, and his assassination in 44 BC, Caesar established a new constitution, which was intended to accomplish three separate goals. First, he wanted to suppress all armed resistance out in the provinces, and thus bring order back to the empire. Second, he wanted to create a strong central government in Rome. Finally, he wanted to knit together the entire empire into a single cohesive unit."

I read altruism as well as pragmatism in his underlying intentions, but I'm no expert. --Mike]

How disappointing. Just an old British king. I thought they finally found Jimmy Hoffa.

Perhaps the most interesting result of this news about Richard III's body being found is to see how firmly entrenched is the story of his supposed murder of the young princes. No serious historian has given credence to that tale in decades, if not centuries. Josephine Tey's book, "Truth is the Daughter of Time", sums up the evidence quite well, and in a very readable manner.

["No serious historian has given credence to that tale in decades, if not centuries"? That's not true. Many have. The truth is not known. That's why they call it a mystery. --Mike]

Please do publish that list! It's time I was self-educated, having been other-educated for too long.

An interesting video regarding the skeletal and DNA analysis:


Synchronicity rears its lovely head!

PBS just aired a special on Shakespeare's Richard II less than a week ago! It was part of a series called Shakespeare Uncovered, was presented by Derek Jacob (who had played King Richard himself in 1978.)

It can be viewed online at http://video.pbs.org/video/2331202211

(This is becoming THE most interesting site on the web, Mike! Thanks, too, for the heads up on Josephine Tey's "Daughter of Time" ~ it's available on Audible and will be my very next walking companion.)

Cheers and best to all,

Thomas Turnbull

I don't think it's plausible a monk's skeleton would present battle wounds on their bones. The skeleton also presented evidence of humiliation wounds. But perhaps monks were more belligerent in the 1400s?

The burial was done quickly too. The grave was irregular and was so short the head was bent forward. There was no coffin or even a shroud. Again, perhaps monks were buried haphazardly back then.

Given everything we know about this situation and the data measured since the discovery, if I were a member of the Leicester team, I would sleep like a baby.

Slightly OT. It is so heartening to me an English man in the antipodes that so many of our American cousins take an interest in English history. For those who would like to understand the full wide angle picture I would highly recommend the audible books in three volumes A History of Britain by Simon Schama, it is thorough and very accessible. I forgot much of my history learn't in school and this collection has allowed me to relearn and understand the what and how my countries past has shaped the present. Of particularly interest in this regard was Oliver Cromwell and how events in his times still influence much of presents political wrangling in todays America, its fascinating stuff...

"It's possible I could resuscitate and restore it, assuming it still exists on a hard drive somewhere, but it would take some work."

Oh yes, please!!

What a great idea for our Kings (presidents, etc.) to lead our armies into battle. We should resurrect that idea immediately!

The story does sound too good to be true but the report was that the evidence together put the identification beyond reasonable doubt. Everyone seems to focus on dna but that was only one thread. The evidence (summarised) is:

* historical report of head injuries. Skull had injuries.

* "hunchback" - skeleton had deformed spine

* historical report of "feminine/slight build" matched by skeleton

* historical report of hasty burial in greyfriars. Careful document research put the trench across the most likely location for the choir of greyfriars - where a high status burial might take place.

* hasty burial - no sign of coffin and grave cut too small

* evidence of high status diet

* carbon date to the right period

* facial rebuild a fairly good match to existing prtraits of RIII

* DNA match

I am in London this week and two days ago watched the documentary about the discovery and search for proof. It is quite an amazing story, and while there is no one single piece of definitive (beyond doubt) evidence, there are several pieces of strong evidence all pointing in the same direction. And there is no contradictory evidence that I took notice of.

In cases like these, the best one can hope for in DNA evidence is negative proof. That did not happen in this case. Definitive positive proof could only be obtained by testing the skeleton's DNA against Richard III's parents's DNA and that requires digging up some graves.

"Hunch-back" is not a medical condition. The skeleton's twisted spine is a match to what would be referred to as a "hunchback" in every day language.

The wound marks on the skeleton match the accounts of Richard III's death.

The skeleton's age match Richard III's age very well.

Those are 4 pieces of strong evidence in my opinion. What is the probability that some random Franciscan monk would be such a good match to Richard III's remains thus leading us all astray?

Buried under a car park?

Sounds like a mafia hit to me.

He sure does look like a total creep in the picture you posted Mike.

How's a skinny dude like that become King anyway?

As a fan of history and an (ex) 15th century re-enactor*, I had a great interest in this story. From watching the TV programme about it over here in the UK, their evidence can be summarised as follows:

1. The Age of skeleton which was carbon dated to 1450-1550. It was also located in the correct part of the friary for a high status burial
2. The skeleton showed that the individual had a protein rich diet (especially for the time) making him high status and very unlikely to be a monk and definitely not a commoner.
3. DNA evidence that there is a ‘connection’ between the skeleton and known descendents.
4. The skull was sent to a professor of craniofacial identification who did a standard "unknown skull" reconstruction, so they did not know who they thought it to be. As a side note once this was done they did reference paintings of him for skin hair and eye colour.
5. Pronounced curvature of the spine (to the side). This would be visible naked, but not likely very visible under clothes, apart from an effect on gait, and would allow him to don armour and fight unlike the pronounced hunchback of Tudor history.
6. Multiple injuries to the skull, one of which was definitely fatal. All are consistent with weapons of the period and tally up with accounts of his death.
7. The specialist examining the skeleton found no evidence of the ‘withered arm’ of popular history (or spin depending on your viewpoint). However, she did note that there were signs that the arms were more ‘feminine’ in appearance than expected, though they were sure it was a male skeleton. This ties in with some historical descriptions of him that say (and I paraphrase) “That he fights exceptionally well for someone who is not very manly in appearance”

All in all it’s a pretty compelling list of evidence: historical, scientific and circumstantial which do seem to corroborate each other. I’m not a “Ricardian” I think he (or someone under his command) is the most likely culprit of the murder, though there is some mileage in the idea that it was The Duke of Buckingham acting under his own volition and this act caused the rift between him and Richard, leading to the Duke’s execution. What I do think is that had the children not been killed, following the death of Richard they would have almost certainly suffered the same fate under Henry Tudor, as his claim to the thrown could not be legitimised if they were still alive.

One of the most interesting things to me was to see the truth of the “hunchback” that it was a deformity that was exaggerated but for someone to have that curvature and still be a formidable warrior king is an impressive feat indeed!

*Fortunately before the proliferation of digital photography, though we did get work as extras on previous Battle of Bosworth TV feature documentaries.

Recent work has suggested a reason for richard's strange change of behaviour. He was for many years Edwards trusted administrator in the North based near York. He was a fine General. He claimed after his brother's death that his brother Edward was not in the true royal line ...that he had been a bastard and it was rumored at the time that his father the Duke of York was away ... in Aquitaine and could not have fathered Edward. His mother was rumored to have had an affair with an archer .... Now if Edward was not in truth of the Royal line then his reign was illegitimate as would have been that of his children .... Recent research in Rouen has added some weight to this theory ... of why the previously pious and trustworthy Richard cshould have such a change of behaviour ...

but i dont know .. but you must remember that Henry V11 claim to the throne .. even through the Lancastrian line was weaker than Richard's ...

Josephine tey's book is great fun. we will never know but the tudors did have absolute power for 100 years and also our greatest playwright to give a very slanted view on this last of the Plantagenets ...

This is probably the n-1 request, but I would like to see the list of 225 books. Years ago, I had an engineering professor hand out a list of books every engineer should read. It was quite the education; I still remember reading Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance. I never finished the Illiad though.

You probably don't need any more nagging on this, but…

As I high school photography teacher, a father, and a lover of lists, I would really, really appreciate it if you'd share that list.

Jim G. wrote:

Years ago, I had an engineering professor hand out a list of books every engineer should read. It was quite the education; I still remember reading Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance.

Any chance you still have that list? I remember, trying, to read the Illiad during a short-lived attempt at engineering school. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance might have helped – had it been published back then…

It is quite appropriate that one of the most high profile persons identified by DNA, lay buried in the city were DNA fingerprinting was pioneered.


Yes, please -- we'd love to see the 225 books. There are many lists of "important" books that are literary and self-important. I have great hopes for your list of "books that are pleasurable and easy to read."

I too recommend Tey's treaste disguised as a mystery novel, The Daughter of Time.

Another book on the topic that I found interesting is Sir Clements Markham's Richard III: His Life & Character. Markham's book is available at Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/36451

Next up, Mike, Macbeth: "Historical revisions sparked by the discovery of the remains of Richard III should prompt a review of Scottish king Macbeth's reign, a Member of the Scottish Parliament has suggested."


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