Last year, at about this same time, I posted this "opinion" and I wanted to re-post it for 2 reasons. One, Southwest Shakespeare Company of Mesa AZ, is going to start their production of Shakespeare's Richard III this week at the Mesa Arts Center and second, because we celebrate the Bard's birthday this Friday,the 23rd, (more on that later this week!).
See details about the show on the side bar of my blog
Since most people's precetion of Richard III comes from Shakespeare's depiction of him in this play, I wanted to show the other side of the story (or the TRUE side). Here is the post from last year with a few edits:
In March of 2009 some family members, visited England to do a tour mainly focused on Richard III. We vivsted York, his headquarters as the Duke of Gloucester and leader of Northern England during his brother, Edward IVs’, reign as king.
In York we went to Micklegate Bar, the eastern gate to the city of York where Richard’s father and brothers’ heads were up on pikes when he first came into the city, triumphant after winning a battle with Henry VI. We went through the tacky (he deserves better)Richard III museum in Monk Bar (the Western gate to York),Barnard Castle, where he lived, Middleham Castle, his favorite castle and where he grew up, Carlisle Castle, where he was Governor for a short time.
Michael at the Richard III museum
Middleham Castle (Richard's favorite)
My sister took some of our group to Warwick Castle,( I had been there a few times already so didn’t go this time), where he visited often and his brother, Edward, was groomed to become the King (Edward IV). Lastly, we went through the Bloody Tower at the Tower of London where his Nephews were last seen alive and where their bones were found buried under a staircase a few hundred years later.
Barnard Castle in the towne of Barnard Castle
I feel I have had a long history learning about him and my thoughts about him have gone from one extreme to the other. Let me explain what I mean.
I grew up on Shakespeare. I remember the first time I heard about Richard III was from Shakespeare’s play. So the hunchback, conniving, murdering Richard was the version of the story I thought was the true, because WS wouldn’t lie.
The amazing Warwick Castle
You know, how he killed his brother, George, the Duke of Clarence, then, when the King died, he did away with the nephew’s so he could be King. Then as an adult I began to hear of the other side of the story. First I read “The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey. That was the first time I had ever considered that he wasn’t guilty of those killings. I was intrigued. Next I read “The Sunne In Splendor” by Sharron Kay Penman. That book convinced me of his innocence in the murders. Another book that I read was “Royal Blood”, by Bertram Fields.
Me at a window that Richard had added to the castle at Barnard Castle
In this book the author takes all the facts as we know them and presents a kind of trial and the result is that Richard III was found not-guilty of the murder of his nephews. (*Another book that I am reading now entitled, Eleanor, The Secret Queen by John Ashdown-Hill studies Edward's marriage to Eleanor Talbot before he married Elizabeth Woodville, therefore, making his children with Elizabeth illegitimate, and Richard claim to the the crown legitimate).
Three years ago I took a class at Oxford University and in meeting my classmates at a reception, one woman, a distinguished lawyer from Washington DC, found out that I had taken a class previously on the War of the Roses (the 13 year war between the York’s and the Lancaster’s for the crown). She immediately asked me which side of the Richard III question I stood. When I told her I believed him innocent of the murders, she invited me to join the “Ricardian Society of America”, which is a group of history buffs that try to turn the publics’ opinion of Richards’ innocence, through the facts that are available. I had never even heard that there was such a group, but apparently there are branches all over the world! One group even meets monthly in a Medieval Hall in York close by Micklegate Bar.
It is an interesting subject to study if you are a history buff like me. But as much as I hate to cast any dispersions on William Shakespeare, I have to admit that he was first a business man, and wrote the play to please Elizabeth I, whose grandfather was the one that killed Richard at the battle of Bosworth Field. WS knew which side his bread was buttered and so I don’t fault him too much. I leave the question to each of you to see the other side of the story and make your decision after learning the facts.
**ps-Jane Austen was a Yorkist also. See her entry about Richard III in her book, The History of England by a partial, prejudiced and ingnorant Historian. Need I have any other proof of his innocence?