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A book of two very different halves
on 18 November 2013
This book represents the culmination of the work of dedicated Ricardian, Phillipa Langley, and her relentless search for the remains of King Richard the Third, which were disposed of hastily and without ceremony after his defeat at Bosworth. Her refusal to give up, her lobbying for resources, and her emotional connection to the project are well documented in her paragraphs of the work, which alternate with a very clear and dispassionate examination of the life and very short reign of this monarch, whose reputation suffered at the hands of Tudor propagandists.
The "R" in the carpark is possibly one of the strangest trigger points for an archaeological dig ever, but Phillipa's instincts were so strong, and so absolutely right, that it is almost as if Richard himself was guiding the work.
Michael Jones on the other hand is not an emotional writer, and bases his historical interpretations of Richard's life and career on solid research: his work definitely redresses some of the Tudorbethan bad press that sought to bolster in every way, the slender right of Henry the Seventh to take the throne. So, not an evil Shakespearean Crookback, but a highly intelligent and physically brave man who fought to his last breath to hang on to his kingdom. The fate of his nephews, the Princes in the Tower, remains an enigma and an unresolved crime although it is clear that Richard was not the only person with an interest in their removal from the scene.
His recovered skeleton, showing significant scoliosis in his spine, indicates that he was much burdened by pain from the curvature during his life, and the sensitive reconstruction of the facial features gives us a wonderful glimpse into a long vanished past which casts a spell to this day.
This is not the best history book you will ever read, but it is very good and on Langley's part at least, written with love.