Today I'm excited to welcome Anne Easter Smith, author of Royal Mistress, to A Bookish Affair to talk about Richard III, whose body was just found under a car park in Leicester, England. Truly a great historical mystery solved!
Thanks for hosting me today!
So now we know! It was Richard III under the car park in Leicester, and the exciting announcement on February 4th made me cry. Now all of us who are Richard fans will have somewhere to go and pay our respects. It appears Leicester has won out in the re-interment battle between there and York Minster. A ceremony is being planned for early 2014, I understand.
Those of you who have read my first four books will know about my obsession with Richard III and can perhaps understand my excitement when an archeological dig last September uncovered what might be his skeleton, buried under the nave of Leicester’s Greyfriars Church, itself long buried under a municipal car park! Newspapers had a field day, even headlining: “Should dead king pay 500-year parking fine”!!
If the DNA taken from the descendant of Richard’s sister confirms the skeleton is the remains of King Richard III, killed at the battle of Bosworth on August 25, 1485, it will clear up the mystery of his missing grave these 500 years, but it will not give us any more clues about who this man actually was.
Richard of Gloucester was born at Fotheringhay Castle to the duke and duchess of York on October 2nd, 1452, and was the last surviving child of the couple’s 13 offspring. After his father was killed at the battle of Wakefield in 1460, Richard’s brother the earl of March was crowned King Edward IV following victories against the then-king Henry VI. York’s claim to the throne had led to the civil war known now as the Wars of the Roses, and after Edward was crowned, Richard became a royal prince.
My book Queen by Right tells the story of how a Yorkist came to the throne and of the love young Richard had of his larger-than-life, handsome, charismatic oldest brother. Edward recognized loyalty when he saw it, and he entrusted the governance of the sometimes rebellious north of England to Richard for the years leading up to his unexpected demise at age 40.
Loyaulte me lie (Loyalty Binds Me) was Richard’s motto, and the way in which he held the north strong for Edward was testament to those words. As far as we know, Richard was also faithful to his marriage vows, unlike his profligate brother. From all we can gather, Richard did not possess the charisma of his brother nor his magnificent stature, but until the unsettling few weeks that lead up to his own coronation gave rise to conjecture about his motives, there is nothing untoward in his character that can be found any chronicles or manuscripts of the time. Did he suddenly become a “monster?”
I think not.
No historian or chronicler has ever disputed that Richard and his wife, Anne Neville, had anything but a happy marriage, and their grief at hearing of the death of their only child was chronicled as intense. Within a year of that tragedy, Richard lost his beloved Anne to tuberculosis (not poison as some would have); the royal cousin he gave untold power to rebelled against him and had to be executed for treason; the rumor that he had done away with his nephews; and the threat to his two-year reign from Henry of Richmond always ready to invade from France must have been too much for one man to bear.
When he became king, through a series of events following Edward’s death that I go into thoroughly in my new book Royal Mistress, Richard enacted several statutes that show his compassion for his people. In the judicial system, for example, his third statute protected an accused criminals goods before conviction. And I love that he was the first king to enact legislation to protect the art of printing and the importing or selling of books. For more information on his statutes in that Parliament of 1484, you can go to: www.r3.org
Of the six murders laid at Richard’s door by Shakespeare and others, only the execution of William Hastings is actually one Richard orchestrated. (It is the one act of his that I still have trouble understanding, but I think I came up with a reasonable explanation in my newest book, Royal Mistress, in which Richard is a major character.)
I was asked in a Q&A whether I had changed my mind about Richard during the writing of Royal Mistress, because of the harsh way he treated Jane Shore and certainly Will Hastings. Luckily, I have always thought of Richard as a very complicated character--which is partly why he has fascinated historians all these years--and by using omniscient narration this time, I was able to be in Richard’s head as well as Jane’s, Will’s, and Edward’s. It allowed me to show why he acted the way he did, based on his strict moral code and sense of duty. I hope I have been able to deepen interest in his
character through my books.
Don't Forget to Follow the Rest of the Tour:
Thursday, February 7
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Friday, February 8
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Guest Post at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Monday, February 11
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, February 12
Interview at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, February 13
Guest Post at Ageless Pages Reviews
Thursday, February 14
Guest Post at Books, Belles and Beaux
Friday, February 15
Interview at Unabridged Chick
Monday, February 18
Guest Post at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, February 19
Guest Post at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, February 20
Guest Post at A Bookish Libraria
Thursday, February 21
Interview at Enchanted by Josephine
Friday, February 22
Guest Post at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books
Monday, February 25
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, February 26
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, February 27
Interview at Muse in the Fog Book Reviews