Monday, 11 February 2013

Leicester or York?

Reconstruction of Richard's face made from scans of his skull

It has recently been confirmed that the skeleton found beneath a car park in Leicester is that of King Richard III, but now that we have his body where should it be buried? I believe that it has been said that Richard will be interred in Leicester Cathedral, but nevertheless this post will look at the claims of Leicester and York to house the 561 year old body of the last Plantagenet king.

Richard's skeleton as it was found in the original grave at Greyfriars
Richard III has been one of our most vilified monarchs thanks to Shakespeare and Tudor propaganda so naturally the discovery of his body has led to strong feelings concerning his final resting place. A reader of BBC History Magazine, who seems to hold the traditional view of Richard, wrote in to the Christmas issue of the magazine and suggested that as he was 'probably a child murderer' Richard should be 'put back in the hole in which he was found'. Purposefully putting a King under a car park in Leicester seems a little harsh regardless of what he may or may not have done, so perhaps the Cathedrals of Leicester or York  would be more appropriate.

The memorial tablet to Richard in Leicester Cathedral
  • Richard was originally buried in the chapel of the Greyfriars monastery in Leicester after his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. 
  • Richard spent his last night in Leicester before Bosworth at the Blue Boar Inn, but it was knocked down in 1836 and a Travelodge now stands on the site. 
  • Richard rode across Bow Bridge in Leicester on his way to Bosworth and the ironwork of the present bridge depicts Richard's emblems of the white boar and the white rose of the House of York. 
  • Richard stayed at Leicester Castle on numerous occasions. 
  • In the Cathedral there is already a memorial tablet dedicated to Richard. 
  • In 1980 a statue of Richard was erected in the city. 
  • The Cathedral is only around 13 miles from Bosworth Field  where Richard lost his life.   
York Cathedral
  • He spent a considerable amount of his youth at Middleham in Yorkshire.
  • Richard married Anne Neville in York. 
  • He was given control of a palatinate in the North of England during Edward IV's second reign and he was President of the Council of the North. 
  • Throughout his reign Richard was popular in the city of York and upon his death the people of the city braved the new king's wrath in writing a letter which lamented the death of Richard. 
  • York is the home of the Richard III museum. 
  • Richard is often viewed as the only 'northern king' so some feel that he should be buried in the north. 
  • In 1484 Richard outlined plans to set up a chantry of 100 priests at York Minster. 
  • Some of Richard's descendants have expressed their desire that Richard ought to be buried in York. 
  • The city had sent Richard armed soldiers prior to Bosworth. 
Many people have strong opinions on this matter so online polls and petitions have been set up. Links to these are below.  

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