Sunday, 2 October 2016

On this day: Richard III was born

I have a lifelong interest in the Plantagenet kings that began long before I found that I'm descended from multiple Plantagenets. I've read many books about the individual Plantagenet kings and the family.

Richard III was born on 2 Oct 1452 at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire to Richard, Duke of York (1411-1460) and Lady Cecily Neville (1415-1495). He was their second youngest of nine children, and is my 1st cousin 17 times removed. Richard was the last Plantagenet king. I call him my dear cousin Richard of the car park.

Happy birthday to cousin Richard!

Now, Richard III may or may not have been a nice man. I've read many books on that topic. I've seen a couple of productions of Shakespeare's Richard III, including one that was set in Nazi Germany (quite over the top), as if to further drive the point home that he was not a nice man.

Did he kill his young nephews in the Tower of London, personally? Did he order their murders? Also a much debated topic. Did he have a more than an uncle-ly relationship with his niece, Elizabeth of York (1466-1503) who subsequently became the consort of Henry Tudor (1457-1509)? That also has been debated in many books.

I can't begin to set out all of the pros and cons for Richard being a nice man here. I'd like the think that he was, er, misunderstood.

In 2009, while browsing a Charing Cross bookstore when last in London, I came across a book that I'd been wanting to read. It is the ultimate coffee table book: Derek Wilson's The Plantangenets -- the Kings that Made Britain. But it weighed a ton, and my suitcase was already going to be perilously close to exceeding the allowable weight, so I had to leave it there. A few months later in Toronto, I was thrilled to find the same book on sale, and so I bought it, because it was meant to be. I can open it to any page, and be instantly engrossed in a story about one of my ancestors.

When Richard III died in battle at Bosworth on 22 Aug 1485 ending the Wars of the Roses, Henry Tudor ascended the throne to rule as Henry VII. Here's a great BBC History Extra post about Bosworth.

The never ending story continues....

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