The Ten Stupidest Things I’ve Heard Since Richard III’s Remains Were Identified

Richard III’s skull. If it had eyes, they’d probably be rolling.

Since the remains found at Leicester were identified a few weeks ago, I’ve been compiling a list of the most dimwitted online comments related to this. I’m pleased to say that my list includes comments from people of differing nationalities, showing that stupidity is a truly global phenomenon.

  1. Henry Tudor was jealous of Richard’s good looks.
  2. The heresy of stating that the identification will not stifle debate about Richard’s character: “some people will doubt the Second Coming.”
  3. The lead osteologist on the Leicester dig is a Tudor spy.
  4. Richard III invented bail, abolished press censorship, and established the postal service.
  5. Richard III’s reconstructed face shows that he was incapable of murdering his nephews.
  6. Leicester cannot be trusted with Richard’s remains because the city “misplaced” them for 500 years.
  7. A query as to whether those of Richard III’s “descendants” who wish to bury him in York might have recourse within the European Court of Human Rights.
  8. A headline in The Daily Mail: “Richard III’s Ancestors Demand York Burial.”
  9. Elizabeth II has not allowed DNA testing of the bones identified as belonging to the princes in the Tower because she is trying to hide something.
  10. A query whether Richard’s DNA could be implanted inside someone and used to grow an exact replica of him.

 

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69 Responses to The Ten Stupidest Things I’ve Heard Since Richard III’s Remains Were Identified

  1. Robin says:

    Oh my stars. I had seen a few of those but…wow. That last one…Just wow…and I’m a Richardian!

  2. Daphne says:

    I hadn’t heard #10 before – now that would be something! And then we could just ask him what he did with his nephews…

  3. Jill Blee says:

    Thank you for compiling this list. As I am about to head off to London to do some work on a children’s novel involving the ghost of Edward V who is still trying to unravel the mystery of who ordered his death, they are a lot of fun. I’ve no doubt I will encounter more on my travels. if I ever get this story written to my satisfaction I would appreciate an expert such as yourself casting an eye over it

    Jill

  4. Esther says:

    I’m not surprised at no. 10; I’ve had conversations with people who wondered if DNA could be used to create exact replicas of Martin Luther King or FDR. I think there was a science fiction story about people able to genetically replicate themselves … and confusing fiction with fact isn’t limited to history.

    Esther

    • boswellbaxter says:

      Indeed, no!

    • Sonetka says:

      There was a novel out about ten years ago which featured scientists trying to get enough DNA off the Shroud of Turin to grow a clone of Jesus (or whoever’s DNA is on there :) . It’s one of those ideas that crops up pretty routinely.

      For some reason, “ancestors” and “descendants” get mixed up a lot — I remember seeing a photo in the NY Newsday some years ago of “Theodore Roosevelt’s ancestors gathered near his historic home”. His ancestors looked to be in pretty good shape for being 200+ years old. Not the Richard III has any descendants, either — or rather, I suppose he technically could but it would be impossible to trace them at this stage.

      • boswellbaxter says:

        I think the Edward IV clone would be more fun to hang out with.

        • Caroline Coopersmith says:

          Of all the York bros, a (thirtyish) Ned is definitely the one I’d want to hang with. Dude was tall, hot, loved food and sex (though not necessarily in that order) and could tell a good joke. Definitely better than a drunken Clarence or serious Dickon.

      • Emy says:

        There was a novel out about ten years ago which featured scientists trying to get enough DNA off the Shroud of Turin to grow a clone of Jesus (or whoever’s DNA is on there :) . It’s one of those ideas that crops up pretty routinely.

        Which made me think of this book I spotted on one of those “Free on Kindle” lists a few weeks ago… I can cope with that – it’s sold as fiction. But as fact? /boggle

        Overall though Susan – thanks for a good giggle :D

  5. Kim Hathorn says:

    Jill, I’d love to read your story too.

  6. Chunter says:

    Another one for the list – referring to him as Richard of York (rather than Richard of Gloucester), usually in a feeble attempt to bolster the anti-Leicester campaign.

    Most of the comments on this subject are made by people who seem to know nothing about the terms of the exhumation licence issued by the Ministry of Justice 6 months ago to Leicester University or resort to ignorant and nasty (or even racist) remarks about Leicester.

  7. Rio says:

    I can’t decide which one is more ridiculous..#3, 6 or 10?

  8. Vikki Bray says:

    Hahahahaaaaa…. Why not go all out and create DNA replicas of many historical figures? We could have a Jurasic Park style tourist attraction for dead British monarchs!!!! Morons!!!!!
    Thanks for this list Susa, you’ve brightened my day :) xx

  9. Tash Wakefield says:

    Ooooh I call dibs on writing a sci fi novel about cloning Richard iii! Im going to call it “A brave new world with Dick”.

  10. Déirdre O'Mahony says:

    I admit to being sadly ignorant of this period of history, but I do find it fascinating, & I look forward to learning more. However, no matter how serious the subject matter, light relief such as this list is always welcome! Thank you for taking the time to compile & share it. Some of these are already classic! :-D

  11. Melissa says:

    Nothing like a good face palm into my desk first thing in the morning.

  12. Anerje says:

    Hilarious! I’ve been told that Leicester shouldn’t be allowed to bury Richard because they did such a bad job last time! LOL! As for number 5, I think Richard looks really creepy! But that statement is so Josephine Tey:) best comment I read was that the programme ‘appeared to be about a woman with a crush on a skeleton’.

  13. thistle47 says:

    Anerje: Re: Josephine Tey… I am currently reading & enjoying her “The Daughter of Time”. Maybe Richard didn’t kill his nephews….

  14. debra reeve says:

    It,s all rather Laughable ,a woman in love with a skeleton? mind you when she was unveiling his reconstructed face she did seem rather besotted , who can blame her he has a sensual face , yep i like it

  15. Cindy says:

    I can see where some of these are kind of …. well not so smart as to try and not be rude.

    Not knowing the way the laws work in the U.K. I do not see how #7&8 are so stupid as you put it.
    Is there no chance for change of the laws in the U.K.? That is very sad indeed. BUT wait! There is a chance at change of the laws because it happened with the law of burial and in speech. I have seen comments criticizing the government and the Royals and if the laws had not been changed concerning speech those people would have been beheaded.
    Also how the headline of Richard III’s relatives have an opinion constitutes a post/comment I am not sure.

    I do not believe that asking questions a stupid thing. It is trying for knowledge.

  16. boswellbaxter says:

    Cindy, the point in #8 being stupid is that Richard III’s ancestors aren’t in a position to demand anything, having been dead for centuries. Headline writers are expected to know the difference between “ancestors” and “descendants”–that’s the sort of thing they’re paid for.

    As for #7, I don’t see how the burial site of a man who died in battle over 500 years ago can be remotely construed as a human rights issue. I suppose an argument could be made that the treatment of human remains implicates human rights, but as it has been decided to give the remains a respectful burial with religious rites no matter where they’re interred, I just don’t see this passing the “straight face” test at the European Court of Human Rights. Or anywhere.

    • Tash Wakefield says:

      What’s the statute of limitations on these kinds of laws? Surely there is a cut off point of less than 100 years! If we were to begin trying such aged cases there would be no stopping people beginning ridiculous drawn out court battles such as; my great great great grandfather was sent to australia for stealing a loaf of bread, i want compensation! People i think also need to realise that what happened to poor old Dick was horrible and inhumane, but life is messy and awful sometimes, and the thing is to take it on board, be horrified, then accept that it’s life and learn from it. Not everything needs to be justified legally, and his so called descendants are not entitled to anything but their truthful ability to state that they ARE his descendents. Aside from that what do they want, a crown? I can trace my family directly to the plantagenets but i would not expect to be treated differently in any aspect of life concerning any person living or dead, it’s just something i like to brag about sometimes!

      And i agree, if writers do not know the difference between descendants and anscestors, they need to be knocked on the head with their keyboard!

      • boswellbaxter says:

        Well said, Tash! If we’re going to right centuries-old wrongs, I want my family’s castle back. (I’m sure they must have had one. My inner snob is not happy living in a suburban ranch house.)

  17. Edward Tudor says:

    It’s nice to see that Richard of Gloucester has such and effective propaganda campaign.
    I do like the idea of sending him to the court of human rights. Maybe they could also consider the rights of Edward V and Richard, Duke of York.

  18. Helen Cox says:

    another one that irks me – albeit perhaps ‘unfounded’ rather than ‘stupid’ – is some folks’ insistence that richard iii wanted to be buried in york. i have yet to be shown any contemporary documentary proof of this – though will gladly stand corrected if anyone can point me to a source!

    • boswellbaxter says:

      As far as I know, this one is based entirely on his intention to found a chantry at York. That’s the only source anyone’s pointed out to me!

      • Celia Parker says:

        The Richard III Society’s December 2012 ‘Ricardian Bulletin’ p.50-51 has a sensible comment on this. In brief it says that while Richard certainly did plan a large foundation (100 priests) at York Minster and that by 1485 6 altars for these priests had been erected (refs to Harleian Ms 433 -Richard’s Privy Seal register- and York Minster records) we have no evidence that he intended a family mausoleum there any more than at the other places, for example Middleham or Barnard Castle where he founded or intended chantries.
        This is a standard case of a reasonable supposition- that Richard may have intended to be buried at York- being turned into ‘fact’ by constant repetition. A bit like that weepy appearance at his wife’s funeral. Happens a lot in popular history, I’m afraid.

    • I think I can categorically state that Richard didn’t want to be buried at all. He wanted Richmond to be buried. Of course, Henry was not cooperative, and by the end of the battle, Richard no longer wanted anything that concerns this world.

  19. Haha they are some of the funniest things I have read! I haven’t laughed so hard in ages! I am going to post this to facebook. Thank you Susan x

  20. Celia Parker says:

    Couple more daft comments you may like:
    (i) mournful Ricardian ‘I couldn’t believe it when I saw the spine – I thought he would be perfect’. Me (unsympathetically) ‘But we always knew there must be some basis for the hunchback story’. ‘Oh, I thought that was just Tudor lies’.
    (ii) Annette Carson, she of ‘The Maligned King’ (which if I remember rightly starts with a bonkers chapter ‘proving’ that the Woodvilles poisoned Edward IV because middle-aged Elizabeth was losing her hold on him- wonder where you stand on that one!): academics daren’t tell the truth about Richard because it would ruin their careers. Which makes a change from the old allegation that academics don’t understand human nature (otherwise they would realise that everything Richard did was done from the best of motives, &c).
    Looking forward to the Woodville book-interested to see what information there is about the less well-known members of the clan.

    • boswellbaxter says:

      Thanks, Celia! Those are definitely two for the list. Carson also suggested in her book that the Woodvilles should be investigated for the death for Henry Bouchier too, as I recall–the death of a man in his seventies clearly being deeply suspicious.

    • While I am a Ricardian, I must say the curved spine didn’t really surprise me. Are Shakespeare and his sources a little over the top? Almost certainly – but all stories have their basis in fact, and the curved spine always seemed more plausible to me than the withered arm (or premature birth).

      While I’m sympathetic to the character, which was probably markedly different than all those centuries of speculation, I also never lose sight of the fact that he was a man of his times, and of his family. Neither saint nor devil, he was simply a man born to a cadet branch of the royal family, amassed power concurrent with that, and probably did what he had to in order to keep that power.

  21. Edith says:

    One item I saw more than once; the musing of “At last, proof Richard was not a hunchback.” Say what? Seems to me with that curvature, medieval folk ignorant of anatomy and physiology would see nothing but a hunched back.

  22. eric gibble says:

    Hump ? What Hump ? My great grandmother joined the DAR, and through her searches, found that we were Goodrichs married to Nevilles. IAll I ask, is an invite to the royal send off party. It could pay for the regalia required, help fund historical preservation, and would cost a great deal less than hosting the Olympics

  23. Pingback: Angelic Paranoia – Dear Yuletide Writer

  24. John Elliott says:

    Can I nominate this to go on the list?

    One member of the Richard III Society told me that he would not be surprised if the entire movement turned out to be reincarnated henchmen of the King, and that he would sue me if his name was ever connected with this belief.

  25. Gail says:

    Harking back to your BoG post, this surely would the ultimate sign – volunteering to be the surrogate to carry Richard’s clone. Imagine the smugness!

  26. Iris says:

    Could you please expand on why #4 would be such a stupid statement? I understand Richard did lay the foundations of what we now call system of bail, did order further improvements on his brother Edward’s system of message delivery and did lift restrictions from the newly expanding press industry which one like Caxton benefited from. Probably one cannot always write a dissertation when publishing a headline for a newspaper, but a broad generalisation does not make the statement entirely wrong and stupid imo.

    • boswellbaxter says:

      Richard didn’t lay the foundations for the modern system of bail; he (or more precisely his Parliament) introduced bail reforms, as did kings before and after him. (Bail as we know it had Anglo-Saxon roots and was codified by Edward I’s Parliament in the Statute of Westminster–see the link below.)

      http://www.pretrial.org/download/pji-reports/PJI-History%20of%20Bail%20Revised.pdf

      Richard didn’t lift restrictions on the press or abolish censorship (as claimed by Andrew Roberts, who wrote, ““here is a monarch who abolished press censorship, invented the right to bail for people awaiting trial . . .)”; he exempted books from anti-alien legislation enacted by his Parliament, thereby maintaining the status quo for aliens involved in importing, selling, producing, or printing books. Far from encouraging free speech or a free press, Richard, like kings before and after him, did quite the opposite: he ordered that those who “find any person speaking of us, or any other lord or estate of this our land otherwise than is according to honor, truth, and the peace and rightfulness of this our realm, or telling of tales and tidings whereby the people might be stirred to commotions and unlawful assemblies, or any strife and debate arise between lord and lord, or us and any of the lords and estates of this our land, they take and arrest the same person unto the time he have he brought forth him or them of whom he understood that that is spoken and so proceeding from one to other unto the time the furnisher, actor and maker of the said seditious speech and language be taken and punished according to his deserts, and that whoever first find any seditious bill set up in any place he take it down and without reading or showing the same to any other person bearing it forthwith unto us or some of the lords or other of our council.”

      As for message delivery, Crowland writes that Richard used the system devised by his brother Edward, but I’m not aware of any significant improvements that Richard made–certainly nothing close to establishing the postal service.

      • Iris says:

        Thank you for your reply. As far as the bail system is concerned, you might like to share Richard III’s first and only Parliament’s act of January 1484, not only what had happened before that so that anyone can make comparisons and make up their own mind as to who laid what. In this respect, as librarian of the RIII Society’s American Branch you may be aware of this analysis http://www.r3.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Rebuttal-Richard_s-Parliament-Laws.pdf

        As for press, you confirm he did lift restrictions, or better taxes, from the trade of books, which contributed to a decrease of prices and ultimately contributed to their diffusion.

        I did not mention censorship, you did. Your citation should refer to Richard III’s letter to York dated April 5th 1485, where he repeated the orders he had already given to the sherif of London on March 30th 1485, after he had been forced to publicly refute the rumours he had poisoned his wife in order to marry his niece Elizabeth of York (ref. Court minutes of the Mercer’s company March 31st 1485) and some time after Colyngbourne had already been hanged, drawn and quartered for treason after he had hung the famous bill “The Cat, the Rat and Lovell our Dog, all rule England under a Hog” on St Paul’s door and had been (only allegedly?) found colluding with Tudor and his simpathisers. I do not recall any further executions after this one. If Richard was using censorship, it is fair to say that he was being subject to slanders and treasonous schemes to which he reacted, if more or less leniently than other monarchs before and after him, including Edward IV who put his and Richard’s brother George to death, could be an interesting subject for statistics.

        As for the post, there is a parcel signed in Richard III’s own handwriting where he orders the establishment of further exchange posts to improve on the royal message delivery system his brother Edward IV had left him. I am sorry I cannot find the link to the web page right now, but will come back if I can find it. I agree it might be not considered such an improvement to call it the beginning of a national postal service and it was meant to serve the crown and not the common people, but it was one more step ahead and not backwards. After all, we are all dwarves sitting on the shoulders of giants, not so tall ourselves, but with a better sight than our predecessors.

        • boswellbaxter says:

          I wrote a blog post about Richard III and bail some time ago, in which I reproduced the act of Parliament as well as a petition from the Commons during Edward IV’s reign that was remarkably similar to the legislation passed by Richard III’s Parliament, so I saw no need to do so again.

          I mentioned censorship because Andrew Roberts’ comment I was referring to in the original post credited Richard with abolishing press censorship. I also pointed out that Richard was not unique in punishing what he regarded as seditious talk.

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