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Richard III - back to the future!
on 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.