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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard III - back to the future!
John Ashdown-Hill has done it again to follow up his excellent and intriguing book, Eleanor the secret Queen. This time he does what all good historians should do - take you to the appropriate moment and examine the subject, having tried to forget the future. Following the example of Micheal Jones, who tries to portray Richard as a proactive king rather than the reactive...
Published on 31 July 2010 by Charles

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book and well researched
A good book and well researched. The only drawback is the annoying misuse of apostrophes. Throughout the book there are many instances of "Woodville's " (pertaining to) when it should be "woodvilles" (plural). A seemingly small quibble perhaps but with repetition is becomes annoying. I am surprised the publisher did not pick up on this and amend it.
Published 5 months ago by petermcgeeney


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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard III - back to the future!, 31 July 2010
John Ashdown-Hill has done it again to follow up his excellent and intriguing book, Eleanor the secret Queen. This time he does what all good historians should do - take you to the appropriate moment and examine the subject, having tried to forget the future. Following the example of Micheal Jones, who tries to portray Richard as a proactive king rather than the reactive monarch of Shakespeare, Ashdown Hill's Richard becomes quite different. His day to day rituals and acts of routine piety are related in detail and the fact that Richard went hunting a few days before Bosworth; not the action of a nervous underconfident King. As a Dr I was very much persuaded by his conjecture that Richard may have been ill before Bosworth, accounting for his possible nightmares. We all have apprehensions before a big day but Richard's possible dreams sound much more like a pyrexia than just nerves. Did he suffer from the contemporary sweating sickness? Was he ill on the morning of Bosworth and was he overkeen to get the thing over with? Ashdown-Hill is also much kinder to Henry; Henry's treatment of Richard was in fact straightforward and proper (being killed in battle was after all unique for a post Norman King!)Richard's body was slung over the back of a horse; how else would you do it? Henry did not pre-date his reign from 21st August. He then goes on a hunt for Richard's mitochondial DNA following this with the possibility that Richard's remains could still exist. If so Richard could be identified positively and so many answers, his height, his deformity or lack of it, his mode of death could be established. Ashdown-Hill's scholarship combined with a vision of revelation make this another tasty meal for those who wish to set the Historical record of Richard III straight.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting perspective, 15 Aug 2010
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I confess an interest in Richard III and have read fairly extensively around the fifteenth century so I approached this fairly short book not expecting to find much new within. I have to say however the narrative style was very clear and the whole concept of taking the king through his last months and beyond into the whole debate of where his body is and who exists today as distant relatives provided a new angle on a much written about king. The illustrations are refreshingly different from the usual and the book is attractive overall. I thought there was little more to say on his short period as monarch, it just shows how you can be wrong! The book is well suited for the lover of medieval history or those who have read on Richard III previously. Very enjoyable.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new angle, 4 July 2010
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C. Aitken (England) - See all my reviews
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This book was interesting for filling in some gaps about Richard's activities before his death, but most interesting of all was the discussion of the current state of play re DNA research into these last Plantagenets and their modern descendants. I did not think I would have found this section as interesting as it was. The discussion of the fate of Richard's tomb was illuminating and his theory that Henry Tudor built something more up-market in response to the Warbeck threat is an interesting one. Despite this I confess that, like strawberries, it left an unsatisfied feeling behind, something there should have been (like cream), but wasn't, and I can't put my finger on what it is! Nevertheless, essential reading for any Ricardian, and certainly not the sort of book which the anti-Richards can scream bias about!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important Ricardian book., 26 Oct 2010
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K. J. Greenland "kevinthegerbil" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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Forget Tudor history, which is what I've been overdosing on over the past few years. Richard III is where it's at! My knowledge of this period is pitiful to say the least but has never been based on the one-sided, two-dimensional rubbish you are fed on in primary school.

John Ashdown-Hill writes of Richard's last 150 days refreshingly without hindsight, of a religious man who believed in his right to be king, a man who was confident of victory against Henry Tudor and a man looking to the future after the recent deaths of his son and wife. The initial eight chapters covering the last 150 days are compulsory reading for both novices and those well read in Ricardian history.

The remainder discusses the whereabouts of Richard's body, tracing Richard's DNA to the present to aid this. Where is Richard buried is of course still an important unanswered question, but I did find this chapter a little too detailed and scientific for my liking.

Thank you John. You have helped me escape the Tudors!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reaches the areas others haven't reached, 2 May 2014
John Ashdown-Hill poses a question that should be an obvious one, but for the fact that none of the historians or novelists I have read on Richard III have actually tackled. He tries to piece together, from recorded evidence, what Richard was actually doing and planning to do in the future in the months before Bosworth. Of course he didn't know that battle would take place at all and, even if he suspected that he would have to fight Tudor at some time he couldn't know when, nor could he foresee the outcome. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that contemporaries expected any such struggle to be a successful one for Richard, given his proven prowess on the battlefield and the shakiness of Henry Tudor's claim to the throne. Richard was just short of his 33rd birthday on 22nd August 1485 and could easily expect another 20 years of life if not more, so plans for the future must necessarily involve the provision of a new successor to replace his deceased son and for this he needed to replace Anne Neville, his deceased wife. This is fairly common ground, though many writers, including most recently Philippa Gregory, seem to think his chosen replacement was his own niece, Elizabeth of York.
Niece she was even if illegitimate according to his own Act of Titulus Regius of 1484. Such degree of kinship would certainly require a papal dispensation which wouldn't have been an easy matter. The very idea was shocking to contemporaries - and indeed monstrous. If he did it he would put himself into the category of Roman Emperor Claudius, who married his niece Agrippina for political reasons. Indeed it would be worse than that instance because Richard was clearly intending marriage to provide legitimate heirs of his own body, so he was definitely intending e sexual relationship. The suggestion was obviously made at the time and denied by Richard for the obvious reason that it wasn't true. Hill points out that a dual Lancaster-York marriage was on the cards with himself to marry a princess of Portugal and Elizabeth the Portuguese prince who later became King Manoel of Portugal. He thus lays this last bit of Tudor agitprop to rest - and not before time!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars new information, 14 Aug 2011
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This book has given me new information. Although I have read a couple of books on the to me immensely interesting King Richard III I hadn't come across such a detailed account of the treatment of his body after the battle. Very illuminating that this seems to have been no vicious or vindictive maltreatment but rather the best of what could have been expected in those circumstances, when both parties didn't know beforehand how the day would end.
I was also not aware of the custom that at Easter the king was expected to wash the feet of the same number of poor men as his age at the time. Was this always done, even by old kings like Edward III, fat kings like Edward IV or mentally unstable kings like Henry VI? And what about minors like Richard II or [again] Henry VI?
It is understandable but a pity nonetheless that the chances of royal graves ever getting opened for modern research are virtually non-existent. Also the digging up of the built-over parts of the Greyfriars church, where the body of the king might still be lying is extremely unlikely in any near future. We would all like a thorough examination of his remains, in order to determine on the one hand if he was in any way misshapen and on the other hand how he exactly was killed.
I have to resign myself to the fact I will never know.
This book is recommended reading for those who are interested in King Richard and his time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the Last Day's of Richard III and the fate of his DNA., 21 May 2014
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This was a interesting book. If, like me, you have been a faithful Richardian for decades, this book does fill in some 'blanks'. I still can't work out how Richard could have lost Bosworth, even with the traitorous Stanleys and Northumberland. He had a far superior force. But, as we all know, he did lose. I was enlightened to learn that Henry VII actually did set up a monument for Richard - but thank goodness he didn't have his bones put into the tomb. No matter how many times I have to read the way Richard's body was treated post mortem, and it was nothing out of the ordinary - I still can not fathom how Henry could have treated a King's body this way, but then I am writing in the 21st century and not the 15th!!! I loved the DNA facts, although I had to read them several times, because it did get a bit confusing to a mere, ordinary person.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pure richardian, 24 Mar 2013
A pleasure to read i have read many many books both fact and fiction about richard this ranks as one of thee best especially as it is supposed to betold by thomas more a man whose history of richard lead tomost of the lies about him excellent read
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Interesting, 22 Mar 2013
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Great book, well written. An easy read but in a good way. Nicely ties in with all the recent finds of Richard III.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside the Last days, 21 Mar 2013
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Very interesting and well written. A fascinating insight into the way historians work and how important it is always to go back to original sources. Highly recommended.
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