Monday, February 4, 2013

The Skull that would be king...

So I know it has been awhile since I last blogged. I’ve been busy and I’m lazy. There. I said it. Sue me. Anyway, I’m back.
I’m going to take the first blog of 2013 to branch out a bit from the usual American History fare I’ve been feeding you all.  In fact for the rest of the year we will be bouncing around the globe with fun topics. Our first is Richard III.
I really want to talk about Richard III since he has playing a big part in the news lately. Or at least the nerd-ville news I read. You see Richard III, the main character in Shakespeare’s play of the same name, was the last English king to die in battle. He was also the only English king to die on English soil since Harold in 1066. (1066 being the Norman Invasion for those who are keeping score. That was the year William the Conqueror – or William the Bastard – claimed the English throne for his own. Side note, never refer to William as conqueror outside the Tower of London. This will cause your tour guide to threaten to get a beefeater and have you jailed. True story.) However, his body was never found. Until now.
In the last year a group of historians and archaeologists conducted a dig in Greyfriars, Leicester discovers a skeleton in a parking garage. No fooling, a parking garage.  At the time they only speculated that if could be Richard. The skull had a large fracture mark on the back of the head which would have been consistent with the battle wound record has having been sustained by Richard in the Battle of Bosworth Field as well as an arrow in the back.  The skeleton also suffered from severe scoliosis which coincides with claims that Richard was hunchbacked. Some historians don’t believe was actually hunchbacked like he is portrayed throughout history. They believe it was a rumor started by his enemies that has since been turned into fact. When Shakespeare writes it into a play then of course everyone will believe it. The original Elizabethan rumor mill.  
DNA testing has confirmed that the skeleton does in fact belong to Richard III. So, my dear blog readers, how will this change how we view the king looked on as evil by history? I’m not sure the find will really make that much different in how we see Richard as a historical figure. (I mean really. How many of you have heard of him outside of Shakespeare or The Goodbye Girl?) Americans equate him with “My horse, my horse, a kingdom for my horse” if we even think of him at all. (In my opinion at least) What I think it will change is how we see Richard portrayed on film and in the theatre. Shakespeare’s play makes him out to a villain on par with Iago or Aaron. He has become more real because now we can see his bones. The University of Leicester may very well take the skull and do that cool facial reconstruction so we can even see what Richard looked like. Then we can finally see  the man whose “And thus I clothe my naked villainy with odd, old ends stol'n out of holy writ, and seem a saint, when most I play the devil.” face and look into the eyes  of a king.
For more cool info go over to the University of Leicester’s website.  They have set up a whole page about the find with pictures of the bones and the skull and other cool stuff.

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