More Richard III News: Missing Feet Spark Investigation

I thought that some of you might be interested in the latest salvo in the “Richard III Reburial Wars” that I saw earlier today in the British press:

Missing Feet Spark Investigation

Following the recent petition for judicial review of the decision to bury the remains of Richard III in Leicester, the Richard III Coalition, a new organisation of the Plantagenet king’s admirers and collateral descendants, has called for an investigation of the loss of the king’s feet.

When the skeletal remains were recovered underneath a car park at Leicester last year, they were intact except for the feet. Although the archaeological team involved with the dig believes that the feet were destroyed when a Victorian outhouse was built on the site of the church in which the king was originally buried, the Coalition is skeptical. ‘Richard III has been subject to numerous indignities over the years, and we believe that the loss of his feet should not be taken lightly,’ explained Coalition spokesperson Francis Hawkins. ‘We think this is something that demands further investigation.’

No feet under: The king's skeletal remains.

No feet under: The king’s skeletal remains.

Asked why he doubted the official explanation for the missing feet, Hawkins said, ‘This blaming the Victorians seems a bit too convenient, to be frank. I believe there are two likely explanations for the disappearance. The first is that the feet were hacked off immediately after the battle of Bosworth, probably on the orders of Edward Woodville to give to his mother, Elizabeth. We know that Elizabeth was an ardent practitioner of witchcraft, and it’s likely she used the feet in some sort of satanic ritual. We need someone learned in the practices of medieval witchcraft to tell us exactly what the feet might have been used for, and once we have that knowledge, and begin digging deeper into the records, I think everything will lock into place. It won’t be easy to find confirmation—we know that the Tudor usurper destroyed hundreds of thousands of records—but if we know what we’re looking for, we’ll at least have a head start.’

Elizabeth Woodville. Did she use the king's feet for dark purposes?

Elizabeth Woodville. Did she use the king’s feet for dark purposes?

The second possibility, Hawkins said, is that the feet were destroyed when the skeletal remains were removed from their centuries-old resting place. ‘This is an ugly possibility, but it needs to be looked into,’ Hawkins said. ‘Was it negligence, or was it perhaps a souvenir hunter or a thief? Richard’s feet may be standing on someone’s desk. I think somebody needs to be monitoring eBay and other auction sites as well.’

Hawkins bristled when asked whether he was accusing the archaeological team of wrongdoing. ‘As an admirer of Richard III, the king who invented bail, the right to jury trial, and the presumption of innocence, I would never soil anyone’s good name without cause,’ he said. ‘That’s for Tudor propagandists. But I don’t think we should blindly trust the team either. Richard trusted the Stanleys, and look where that got him.’

Rita Davis, a Coalition member who describes herself as Richard’s seventeenth great-niece, added, ‘As the relations of King Richard, who are proud to call him “Uncle”, we just want answers, which was what he would have wanted. We do know that Richard’s feet were important to him. His wardrobe accounts show that he spent a lot of money on shoes, for him and for Anne and poor little Ned as well. I think he would be very distressed if he were reburied with no effort to solve the mystery of his feet. I would certainly be upset if my feet were lost.’

The man wearing the short doublet and green hat in this illustration may be Richard III, exhibiting his taste for fine footwear.

The man wearing the short doublet and green hat in this illustration may be Richard III, exhibiting his taste for fine footwear.

Knowing that the mystery may never be solved, the Coalition in the meantime has commissioned a reconstruction of the king’s feet, which it hopes to unveil in the summer. ‘While it’s difficult to tell a man by his feet, you can tell a lot about a man’s feet by the man,’ said Hawkins. ‘Richard’s feet, as reconstructed, will reflect the essence of the man.  Richard was a proven soldier, not a dilettante like Anthony Woodville or a coward like Henry Tudor. His feet would have been rough and callused. This is not a king who had pedicures.’

Preliminary work for a reconstruction of Richard III's feet is underway

Preliminary work for a reconstruction of Richard III’s feet is underway

The Coalition will be raising funds and public awareness about its cause in the weeks to come. Said Gail Markham, the Coalition’s director of social media, ‘I’ve poured my heart and soul into this cause, because ever since I read The Daughter of Time last year, I’ve dreamed of standing face to face with Richard. When I realized he wouldn’t have any feet to stand on, I was devastated. It was almost as if they murdered Dickon all over again.’

The Coalition plans to launch its campaign tomorrow with hourly tweets from its Twitter account, www.twitter.com/the-king’s-feet.

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36 Responses to More Richard III News: Missing Feet Spark Investigation

  1. Lyn says:

    Lovely! Makes as much sense as any of the other Ricardian articles on the reburial by his “descendants” that I’ve read lately. Happy April Fool’s Day!

  2. Caroline says:

    Ever since I discovered your blog a few years back, I’ve looked forward to your April Fool’s Day posts. Always smart and funny to those of us in the know. Hopefully there will be many more to come!

  3. Rio says:

    Ahhhhhh you got me again! I wasn’t even thinking about it being April Fool’s Day! I just kept thinking who us this biased idiot Hawkins. Good one!

  4. Kathleen Hestand says:

    It might be an April Fools’ Day joke now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be a prediction! Who knows when someone will really start looking for the feet for these reasons!

  5. Joansz says:

    Kudos for this insightful post.
    Readers of my books will remember that I gave Richard a shoe size–US men’s 10. This was not arbitrary, for I found this information in a little known wardrobe account from Margaret of Burgundy. She had engaged a cobbler to make a pair of hunting boots for Richard’s 33rd birthday to replace the tattered ones he wore all the time. The most difficult issue I had with the account was converting cubits to the US size. The note in the margin, presumably in Margaret’s own hand, told of her regret over having not given them to her brother sooner.

  6. Anerje says:

    ha ha! good one. Susan, you may wish to check out my blog after my Tewkesbury visit today and the ‘discovery’ of the remains of Prince Edward.

  7. Kerry says:

    ‘I’ve poured my heart and soul into this cause, because ever since I read The Daughter of Time last year, I’ve dreamed of standing face to face with Richard. When I realized he wouldn’t have any feet to stand on, I was devastated. It was almost as if they murdered Dickon all over again.’

    Genius.

  8. Svea says:

    Haha, goodness, you completely had me fooled. I was even about to share the post! Have a great day and happy April Fool’s!

  9. Celia Parker says:

    This is such a perfect parody! Had me fooled for,oh, 5 seconds until I remembered the date!

  10. Princess Roxana says:

    The terrifying thing is that this is quite believable. I did forget the date!

  11. Anne Outterson says:

    We all know Richard was de-feet-ed at Bosworth!

  12. Sonetka says:

    You had me right up to “ardent practitioner of witchcraft” — I’ve never heard of any witchery that can be done with feet :). (Come to think of it, feet are singularly neglected in stories about magical rituals. Hair, eyes, heart, hands, unmentionables, the occasional shinbone, but no feet. Probably because they’re just not very attractive parts of the anatomy).

  13. Shoshana says:

    One of the best April Fool Days pranks ever! I was totally hooked until I read some of the comments and I don’t fool easily. Considering some of the things that has been written lately about finding this long lost King, it was believable; stranger things have been suggested and written about lately! Maybe next year the King’s ghost could be seen hunting for his slippers!

  14. Mary R says:

    You had me going for a minute, too! I agree, though, that some of the “legitimate” news stories about Richard are so ridiculous that your April fools joke wasn’t immediately obvious! Great job!

    • boswellbaxter says:

      Thanks, Mary! (Sorry for the delay–didn’t realize I hadn’t approved your comment.)

  15. JennySobaski says:

    Oh my!! I was laughing so hard at Rita Davis. I even called my husband into the computer room to read him parts of this article. Good job! You totally had me believing that there is a fund to reconstruct Richard’s feet.

  16. BanditQueen says:

    Now I really have heard everything! These idiots claim to be representing Richard III. They are not descendents of Richard III: he did not have any that outlived him; his legitimate son died when he was about 10 or so and his two illegitimate children died without issue. His real relatives have not made any ridiculous claims like this and the first accusation is troubling.

    Elizabeth of York did not dabble in witchcraft and there is little evidence that E Woodville did either. They have been watching too much Philippa Gregory. The first statement is nutty and if any judge rules on this basis they are nuts as well!

    The accusation that they were stolen is also far fetched! The University kept the site under lock and key and made sure it was guarded, covered and watched and secure. Just when where the feet pinched? The skeleton looks as if the feet have been cut clean through and it is very plausible that it could have been an accident from a building site. The lady who took charge of the bones; Dr Joe Appleby admitted that she had accidently hit the skull at the top when taking it out, and it was repaired. The recovery team where very careful with the remains. This claim is insane! So is the witchcraft claim.

    It would be interesting to see if the rest of the skeleton could be found by tracing the records back. If a Victorian loo was put up, did the workmen see the human feet and did they take them for safe keeping into another college at the time or into the church for keeping? A serious investigation may be interesting not one that goes into the wilds of fancy by those who are just jealous that Leicester have won the support of the public to bury Richard in Leicester where he belongs. York has even said it does not want the body; so what do these people want with the feet; a piece to put in their local church in York. I thought we no longer lived in a superstitious age. Seems I was wrong!

  17. Beth says:

    Loved this. Loved this. But, seriously, what happened to his feet??

    • boswellbaxter says:

      Thanks!

      IIRC, it’s been said that the feet were probably cut off during Victorian construction on the site, which barely missed destroying the rest of the remains.

  18. Gail says:

    You almost had me – almost had me Googling magic rituals involving feet!