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The Ghost of Richard the Third


The Discovery of Richard's Grave

Sometimes there are stories that are just too good to be true... but then they turn out to be true after all.

The odds of finding the remains of Richard III hiding for six centuries under a Leicester parking lot were incredibly remote.  But that is exactly what happened. 

When I first heard the story that Richard's bones had been unearthed under a car park, I assumed they had been excavating in the area in preparation for putting up a new building. 

I was wrong.  It turned out that they were deliberately digging in this area for this reason.  This was the idea of a woman named Philippa Langley, a Scottish screenwriter and historian who devoted several years to getting this project underway. 

Ms. Langley is the President of the Scottish branch of the Richard III Society.  She attributes the discovery to a feeling she had when first visiting the northern end of the Social Services car park where the king was later found.  She had gone to Leicester for the purpose of finding out more about Richard for a screenplay she was writing.

According to Ms. Langley, "The first time I stood in that car park, the strangest feeling just washed over me. I thought: 'I am standing on Richard's grave.'"

With that kind of supernatural power, perhaps Ms. Langley is the descendant of Elizabeth Woodville.  She was greatly aided by Dr. John Ashdown-Hill, the same gentleman whose ideas contributed to the story of Edmund Tudor's dubious parentage.

According to Wikipedia, in 2003 Ashdown-Hill was asked by colleagues in Belgium to seek the mitochondrial DNA sequence shared by Richard III of England and his brothers and sisters. He spent a year tracing an all-female line of descent from Richard III’s eldest sister, Anne, to Joy Ibsen, a woman living in Canada.

In 2004 Ashdown-Hill was commissioned by the BBC to research a story that Richard III’s remains had been thrown into the River Soar.  He concluded that the story was untrue.

In 2009 Philippa Langley invited Ashdown-Hill to lead a study day for the Scottish Branch of the Richard III Society, as a result of which the Looking for Richard Project was founded.

In August 2012, after three years of hard work persuading the authorities in Leicester, the search for the lost remains of Richard III began with the excavation of the Social Services Department car park.  Is this unbelievable or what?

On the very first day of the dig - 25 August 2012 - bones were found in the area predicted by John Ashdown-Hill and by Philippa Langley.  People gasped when they saw the skeleton.  A very pronounced curve in the spine was immediately visible when the body was first uncovered.  The first thing that crossed their minds was this might very well be the 'hunchback' referred to by Shakespeare.   When Shakespeare wrote of Richard III as a "bunchback'd toad," he didn't have the benefit of actually seeing the king, who had died in the previous century.

It turns out that Richard had adolescent onset scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.  In other words, the deformity wasn’t present at birth, but developed after the age of ten.  This lends strong support to the story that George, Richard's older brother, pushed him down a flight of steps during a fight between the two boys.  The resulting injury likely triggered the onset. 

Two weeks later, on 12 September 12 2012, these skeletal remains were confirmed as belonging to Richard III.  DNA research proved that the DNA of the bones matched the sequence from Richard III's descendants that Ashdown-Hill had discovered back in 2004.

Ms. Langley and Dr. Ashdown-Hill were awarded an MBE in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours for "services to historical research and the exhumation and identification of Richard III".

Personally, I think the recovery of Richard's remains is one of the greatest accomplishments imaginable.  I congratulate them!

Incidentally, Richard's genetic tests have revealed a break in the royal male line, potentially undermining the legitimacy of the entire House of Plantagenet.  Uh oh...

When scientists revealed last year that an adulterous affair had apparently broken the male line in Richard III’s family tree, they promised to investigate further.  At the moment, no fingers have been pointed.  But no doubt they will be. 

This finding, of course, is highly ironic.  We may remember that Richard based his right to the throne based on the alleged illegitimacy of his brother Edward's children. 

One of Richard III's most unnatural crimes, according to Tudor propaganda, was his accusation that his own mother, Cecily Neville, was an adulteress.  

This, of course, went back to that crazy Blaybourne accusation.  Back in 1469, both Warwick and George began to spread rumors that King Edward was a bastard.  People were asked to believe that Edward's true father was not Richard, Duke of York, but rather some obscure archer named Blaybourne

In 1483, while arguing over his own right to be king, Richard brought the subject up again, claiming he was legitimate, but that his brother Edward was not.

And now in 2015, the DNA tests called Richard's own legitimacy into question. 

Ah, poor, maligned Richard III, will you ever rest in peace?? 

Philippa Langley

Dr. John Ashdown-Hill




 The Battle Over Richard III’s Bones…And His Reputation

By Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

FEBRUARY 8, 2013

Richard III may have died an unloved king, humiliated in death, tossed naked into a tiny grave and battered by history. But with two British cities trying to claim the last Plantagenet king’s remains 500 years after his death, maybe his reputation is finally turning a corner.

The discovery of his remains last fall (and the confirmation of the results this week) was the culmination of a four-year search instigated by Phillipa Langley of the Richard III Society.  Both the search and the discovery were unprecedented: “We don’t normally lose our kings,” says Langley.

But it’s perhaps not too surprising that Richard’s bones were misplaced. Richard gained and lost the crown of England during the tumultuous Wars of the Roses period (1455-1487). It is a notoriously difficult period to keep straight: The country lurched from civil war to civil war in a series of wrestling matches between two branches of the Plantagenet house, the Yorks and the Lancasters.

Richard was the Duke of Gloucester and a York; his brother, Edward IV, had taken the throne from the Lancastrian king, Henry VI. When Edward died in 1483, he left Richard in charge as regent to his 12-year-old son, to be Edward V. But in June 1483, just before the boy’s intended coronation, Richard snatched the crown off his nephew’s head by claiming that the child was illegitimate. The boy and his younger brother were both packed off to the Tower of London—and were never seen again.

In the meantime, Richard III had his own usurpers to deal with. The Lancasters were out of the picture, but there was another upstart claimant on the scene, Henry Tudor. Two years and two months after he was anointed king, Richard faced a faction of Tudors at the Battle of Bosworth on August 22, 1485. He lost and was killed, only 32 years old. The Wars of the Roses were over, the Plantagenet house was swept aside, and the Tudors were on the throne. Richard’s battered body was brought back to nearby Leicester, where it was handed over to the Franciscan friars and quickly dumped into a small grave at the Greyfriars Church.

Given that they could barely keep a king on the throne in all this, keeping track of him after he was dead was probably even more difficult—especially since the new regime didn’t want to keep track of him. Henry Tudor, now Henry VII, feared that Richard’s burial site would become a rallying point for anti-Tudorists, so its location was kept quiet. When Henry VIII created the Anglican Church in the mid 16th-century, breaking off from the Vatican, England’s missions were dissolved; the friary was taken apart stone by stone and Richard’s grave was lost with it. Rumors even spread that his bones were dug up and thrown into a river.

Richard would have been forgotten, if not for the Bard himself. William Shakespeare, who always turned to history for a good plot, turned Richard III into one of the most sinister villains ever in his The Tragedy of Richard III.

It wasn’t hard: Richard III already had a bad reputation, especially according to the Tudor historians. His ignominious end and hurried burial was thought fitting for a villain who allegedly murdered his two young nephews to steal the crown; killed his wife to marry his niece; had his own brother drowned in a barrel of wine; and murdered all and sundry who dared challenge him.

In Richard III, Shakespeare further embellished the tale, doing nothing for Richard’s reputation. He opens his play by having Richard III himself claim that he was so ugly, dogs barked at him, and declaring: “And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover… I am determined to be a villain.”

Before the first act is over, he has killed his brother and Henry VI, and goes on to murder the two young princes. Shakespeare also turned Richard’s scoliosis-curved spine into a hunchback, furnishing him with a limp that he might not have had and a withered arm that he definitely didn’t have, just to reinforce the point. Of course, Shakespeare’s depiction of Richard III is about as historically accurate as any period film Hollywood ever produced—dramatized to a point just past recognition.

Indeed, Richard III remains a controversial figure to this day.  Many say he was a victim of the Henry Tudor propaganda machine.  Henry’s own claim to the throne was so tenuous that he spent his reign in a state of permanent anxiety.  Henry believed the dissolution of Richard's reputation was necessary.  This explains the rise of the Ricardians, history lovers who seek to rescue the much-maligned king from Tudor lies.  Richard's defenders claim Tudor's propaganda machine utilized the most brilliant and malignant minds of the day in order to justify the new regime by declaring Richard a usurper.

The Richard III Society was founded in 1924 to “strip away the spin, the unfair innuendo, Tudor artistic shaping and the lazy acquiescence of later ages, and get at the truth”.  According to this organization, Richard didn’t kill his nephews, or his brother or Henry VI, and he didn’t kill his wife— that’s all the stuff that historians in the pay of the Tudors wanted everyone to believe.  Moreover, according to the Society, wise Richard III instituted a number of important legal reforms, including the system of bail and, rather ironically, the presumption of innocence before guilt; he was also a great champion of the printing press.

So finding his bones, for the Richard III Society, was in part about reclaiming the king's reputation from history’s rubbish pile. Philippa Langley, armed with “intuition” that his remains weren’t destroyed and historical research, determined that what was now a parking lot owned by the Leicester Council was in fact the site of the lost church and grave. In August 2012, digging began—with permission and help from Leicester—and a cross-disciplinary team of experts from the University of Leicester spent days painstakingly excavating the area.

What they found, in just three weeks, was the body of a man they believed to be Richard III. And on February 4, the university confirmed that the skeleton was indeed the last Plantagenet king. Not only did he fit the physical description depicted in historical sources—the famously curved spine, the product of the onset of scoliosis at age 10; slim, almost feminine—but his DNA matched that of two descendants of the king as well.

Their findings also confirmed that Richard III was killed rather gruesomely—he was felled by one of two vicious blows to the head, including one from a sword that nearly sliced the back of his skull off. The team found 10 wounds to his body in total, including a “humiliation” stab wound to his right buttock and several to his trunk that were likely inflicted after his death; there was also evidence that his hands had been bound.

(Rick Archer's Note:  The article goes on to discuss a pitched battle between the city of Leicester and the city of York over who gets custody of Richard's remains when they are reburied.  Incidentally, Leicester won the struggle.  Richard's body was re-interred at Leicester Cathedral on 22nd March 2015.  Click here if you wish to read more about the dispute.)

It is easy to dismiss the fight over his remains as two cities wrestling over tourists.  Leicester has already debuted a hastily put-together exhibition on the king and the discovery. But the debate has tumbled into a minefield of regional loyalties—though this is ancient history, it can feel very current. As Professor Lin Foxhall, head of University of Leicester’s archeology department, notes, “You get these old guys here who are still fighting the Wars of the Roses.”

The Richard III Society’s Phillipa Langley is staying out of the debate about where Richard’s remains should go—though she can understand why Leicester and York both want him. “They’re not fighting over the bones of a child killer—for them he was an honorable man,” Langley says. “This guy did so much for us that people don’t know about. They’re actually fighting for someone who the real man wants to be known, that’s why they want him.”

Others, however, are more skeptical about this whitewashed version of Richard and about what impact the discovery will have on his reputation.

“What possible difference is the discovery and identification of this skeleton going to make to anything? … Hardly changes our view of Richard or his reign, let alone anything else,” grumbled Neville Morley, a University of Bristol classics professor, on his blog.

“Bah, and humbug.” Peter Lay, editor for History Today, wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian on Monday declaring that the claim that the discovery rewrites history is overblown, and that the jury is still out on Richard’s real character—at the very least, he probably did kill the princes. And historian Mary Beard prompted a fierce 140-character debate on Twitter this week after she tweeted, “Great fun & a mystery solved that we've found Richard 3. But does it have any HISTORICAL significance?”

Langley, however, is still confident that this discovery will have an impact. “I think there’s going to be a major shift in how Richard is viewed,” she says. “It’s very satisfying, it’s been a long time coming.”

Original Story)


And Now We Come to the End:  The Fog of War


Rick Archer's Note, February 2017:

During the Christmas break in 2016, I decided to devote one week to get a general feel for the history of England.  I wrote a light-hearted story that poked fun at the legend of Robin Hood and Richard the Lionheart, the man I was said to be named for. 

Then one day while researching my Richard, I stumbled across another Richard... yes, Richard III.  I came across the Smithsonian article I have reprinted above.  My hat goes off to Linda Rodriguez McRobbie who wrote a very succinct summary of the Richard III history, the controversy surrounding his name, and the discovery of his bones. 

The moment I read this line... "Of course, Shakespeare’s depiction of Richard III is about as historically accurate as any period film Hollywood ever produced—dramatized to a point just past recognition"... I was hooked.  Ms. McRobbie could just as easily been talking about Richard the Lionheart, a fictionalized hero if there ever was one.  Could there just as easily be a fictionalized villain named Richard as well? 

My dear readers might find this hard to believe, but I had never heard of Richard III before.  It is my understanding that every English schoolboy and schoolgirl find themselves immersed in the War of Roses at some point, but my history lessons concentrated more on the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto.  That is why I enjoy travel so much because it gives me a chance to explore worlds I never knew about before. 

After reading the Smithsonian article, my one-week adventure turned into a two month journey through the History of England.

And what exactly have I learned? 

One thing I learned is the more I know, the less I know.  This was a humbling discovery to be sure.  As an example, at one point I was convinced that Lord Stanley, the devious one, could very well have been the one who murdered the Princes in the Tower. 

I was very curious why no one but me thought this way.  After all, I am brilliant, yes?  (just kidding).  So I emailed Mr. Gareth Streeter, one of the best writers I had come across.

On Tue, Feb 7, 2017 at 9:23 PM,
Rick Archer <> wrote:

Mr. Streeter,

My name is Rick Archer here in Houston, Texas, of all places. I will be visiting the UK in June so I thought I would get a head-start on the history.

I have been immersed in the War of the Roses for two months.  I find myself most fixated on Lord Stanley.

I agree with you that Margaret Beaufort is not likely to be a 'sinister child killer'.  But Lord Stanley seems just as cold-blooded as Richard III.

I have yet to find a source that points the finger at Lord Stanley, but I have a sneaky feeling I am missing something.  Surely Stanley could find a henchman or pay a guard to do the deed.  However, since I am unfamiliar with how tight the security was in the Tower, maybe this idea is out of the question.

Would you be willing to shed some light on the matter?  Why does Lord Stanley keep getting overlooked?  He would have much to gain with a grateful stepson (Henry) on the throne.

Mr. Streeter was kind enough to reply.

From: Royal History Geeks
Sent: Friday, February 10, 2017 6:11 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Did Lord Stanley murder the Princes in the Tower?

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your email.

You're not alone in pointing the finger at Lord Stanley.  Historical fiction writers such as Philippa Greggory have implicated him, although as an accomplice to Margaret Beaufort.

Have you read the Croyland Chronicle (c. 1486) and the account of Dominic Mancini (the only contemporary account)?  Collectively these give us a fair bit of info about how the Princes were drawn further deeper into the tower and all but Richard's closest and most trusted servants were dismissed and denied access to them.

It is this that is at the heart of the compelling - although circumstantial - evidence that the poor lads could only have been killed on Richard's orders or at the very least, he would soon have found out about it.  To me, it seems strange that if Stanley had done the deed, that Richard would not have been able to trace it back to him.  Exposing the killer would have done Richard a favour - he could make it clear that the boys were dead but also that he was blameless.  Such a scenario would probably have meant the Tudors never came to power.

I hope you enjoy your visit to the UK!


Croyland ChronicleDominic Mancini?  Who are these guys?

This was the moment I realized the more I know, the less I know. 

The game of getting it right when it comes to History is a lot more difficult than I realized. 

Let me share a funny story.  Once upon a time, I was watching a Houston Rockets basketball game with a friend.  During the game, a player who was rarely used was put in at the end of the game.  He missed one shot after another and made several mistakes. I severely criticized the athlete to my friend.  Too slow, can't shoot, can't play defense!  I was so sure of myself. 

By chance, a couple months later I found myself guarding this man in a pickup basketball game at a city gym.  It was, as they say, a quirk of fate.  I was surprised to see the man wasn't much taller or bigger than me.  For a moment there, I thought I could hang with this guy.


This gentleman went around me so fast I never even took a step.  He got to the rim and dunked the ball!!  Then he came back, slapped me on the butt and smiled.  Then he did it again.  It was almost like he 'knew' that I had disrespected him.  I would never criticize this man again nor would I ever criticize another pro athlete for the rest of my life.  This man had taught me a very valuable lesson... don't go shooting your mouth off when you don't know what you are talking about.

With that lesson in mind, I am well aware that various comments I have made in my long saga may very well be misinformed.  I am hardly an expert, but I do enjoy writing about history.  Therefore, let it be known my main purpose is not to convince anyone I am right, but rather to amuse and inform.  Let me add one more thing - I have not made anything up.  I simply share what I read; you have my word on that.

Now I would like to discuss the Fog of War.  During the 1471 Battle of Barnet, fog... yes, fog as in mist, murk, cloud, haze... played a huge part in the outcome of the battle.  However, more often Fog of War represents 'confusion' during battle.  Medieval battles were notorious for confusion because visibility and communication were often limited. 

I contend that there might be a third meaning for Fog of War.  During my research on the Battle of Bosworth, I found several delightful inconsistencies.  Let me share them with you.  I think you will enjoy them. 

Example One of the Fog of War:  The 'Over My Belly' Contradiction


So, which story do I believe?  Which one is correct?   After flipping back and forth between websites, I decided they very easily could both be correct.  Perhaps this was a phrase that had common usage back in those days. 

It is pretty amazing all the phrases we have in our language that we take for granted.  And yet we have so little understanding of where they come from.  The phrase 'Lose One's Head' has come to mean 'not thinking straight' or 'lose one's temper'.  Obviously this phrase had a somewhat different meaning during the War of the Roses. 

Back in Nineties there was a well-known email that made the rounds titled 'Life in the 1500s'.  This email explained the origin of many common phrases of today.  My favorite explanation was 'Raining Cats and Dogs'. 

We have all heard of thatch roofs, well, that's all they were.  Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath.  These roofs were the only place for the little animals to get warm.  So all the pets; dogs, cats and other small animals (mice, rats, bugs) lived in the roof.  When it rained it became slippery so sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.  Or they got so wet they deserted the roof to find drier places.

Thus the saying, "it's raining cats and dogs."

Truth or nonsense?  Sounds plausible, but my bullshit detector suggests someone very easily could be 'pulling my leg'.  Hmm, I wonder where that phrase come from?  If someone can answer that, I will let them walk over my belly.


The Mysteries of the Battle of Bosworth


Example Two of the Fog of War:  The Mysteries of the Battle of Bosworth

My problem with History is these darn historians keep changing the storyline.  For example, earlier I explained how disappointed I was to learn that Richard the Lionhearted, for whom I was named, was one of the worst kings in English history.  That was a bit of a shock considering I had seen movies and read books as a little boy that suggested otherwise.  I am still in therapy.

Moreover, that was not my only rude awakening.  There have been many.  For example, Sam Houston was the victor at the Battle of San Jacinto which avenged the Alamo and gave Texas its independence from Mexico.  My hometown of Houston was named for the guy.  Sam's a big hero, right?  That is what I was taught in Eighth Grade Texas History.  So imagine my discomfort when yet another childhood hero was knocked from his horse. 

Guess how I felt when I saw the 2004 'Alamo' movie with Dennis Quaid portraying good old Sam as a drunk and a coward?  Rumor has it Houston spent most of his time avoiding a fight because he was badly out-numbered.  Finally Houston's own men had to bully him into fighting.  Theoretically the Texans won the battle because the Mexicans were lulled to sleep by Houston's constant evasions.  Santa Ana himself was said be sound asleep when the battle started thanks to a mulatto prostitute known as the San Antone Rose who kept him up all night in his tent.  So kudos to Sam Houston for his strategic evasions, but the real victory credit goes to Ms. Rose.

About two months into my research on the War of Roses, I made a new friend... Ambion Hill.  Ambion Hill was my reference point for all the stories about the military movements during Richard's last battle at Bosworth.  But I kept getting confused by the different battle reports.  I could not figure out why the various stories contradicted each other.  Then I solved the mystery.   

Take a look at these two maps and see if you can find any discrepancies.


On the surface, the two maps have much in common.  Both the White map and the Green map show Henry's army advancing northeast in some sort of curve from the southwest.  The Green Map places Richard a bit more northerly, but there is enough similarity to see the initial skirmish had either an East-West or Southwest by Northeast alignment.  So far, no problem.  One can adjust.  

However things get more curious when I add the Color Key to the White Map.  This helps us understand what that  giant blue blob  is up at the top of the White Map. 

Are you starting to catch on that something is off here?  The White Map has the Stanleys in the North, the Green Map has the Stanleys in the South.


But wait!!  I'm not finished yet! 

"Debate has raged for centuries over the exact location..."

No truer words have ever been spoken.  Here is a third map of the battle.  Ambion Hill is our one constant, but the alignment of the four armies has rotated yet again.  Now Richard is in the south. 

One thing all three maps have in common is that each map has William Stanley positioned on the 50 yard line prepared to intercept Richard's mad charge at the critical time.

So how much does this map confusion matter?  On the surface, probably not much.  Either way, Richard III is still dead.

Now I have question.  Can you guess which map is the correct one?? 

Obviously someone made a mistake.  And if one person can make a mistake, someone else can make a mistake too.  As it turns out, this map confusion is masking a much deeper problem. 

Prepare to be amused!! 

As it turns out, all three maps are completely wrong.  Not one of them is even remotely correct.  Not even close.

Let's find out why.


Let us begin by reading this Wikipedia description of the Battle of Bosworth.  I have highlighted the important parts.  

In their interpretations of the vague mentions of the battle in the old text, historians placed areas near the foot of Ambion Hill as likely regions where the two armies clashed, and thought up possible scenarios of the engagement. [98][99][100]

In their recreations of the battle, Henry started by moving his army towards Ambion Hill where Richard and his men stood. As Henry's army advanced past the marsh at the southwestern foot of the hill, Richard sent a message to Stanley, threatening to execute his son, Lord Strange, if Stanley did not join the attack on Henry immediately. Stanley replied that he had other sons. Incensed, Richard gave the order to behead Strange but his officers temporised, saying that battle was imminent, and it would be more convenient to carry out the execution afterwards.[101] Henry had also sent messengers to Stanley asking him to declare his allegiance. The reply was evasive—the Stanleys would "naturally" come, after Henry had given orders to his army and arranged them for battle. Henry had no choice but to confront Richard's forces alone.[38]

Historical sources regarding the actual battle at Bosworth are scanty at best.  No one who actually fought at the battle recorded the battle; typically, the chroniclers from London recorded great events but they were far from the action in 1485.  Also, the supporters of Richard III did not want to remember their defeat – and unlikely to write about in the charged political climate. Henry’s supporters were concerned with more immediate matters after the battle – namely, beginning the rule of a very inexperienced monarch who had not been to England in fifteen years.  

Vague... likely... possible... scanty... No one recorded the battle... far from the action in 1485

Do these words inspire confidence?  Not hardly.  Don't blame the well-meaning scholar who wrote this article.  He or she is basically saying:

"Sorry, Wikipedia visitors, but I don't have a clue what really happened.  All I can do is depend on a lot of hogwash passed down from 500 years ago that was written by people who weren't even at the battle site in the first place."

I think we can safely assume there were no sportswriters in the stands for this battle.  There were no photographs to rely on, no drawings, no post-game interviews, no newspapers, no next-day talk shows, no magazine follow-ups, nothing.  Sure, rumors were started, but how reliable were they?  The first serious account of the battle was not even written until 18 years had passed!

This is what I mean about the Fog of War... a lot of details get lost or they get deliberately altered.  I also believe key details are made up or embellished by someone's imagination to suit their purposes.

(I apologize in advance if my next comment offends anyone, but what if the same thing is true for the Bible?  But that's another story.)

Wikipedia goes on to make the same point I do: 

The multitude of different accounts, mostly based on second- or third-hand information, has proved an obstacle to historians as they try to reconstruct the battle.  Their common complaint is that, except for its outcome, very few details of the battle are found in the chronicles.  According to historian Michael Hicks, the Battle of Bosworth is one of the worst-recorded clashes of the Wars of the Roses.

The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that there are more theories than there are facts.  In his book about Richard III, Charles Ross said that "There are almost as many different accounts of the battle as there are historians".

What is very interesting about the discovery of Richard's remains over in Leicester is that someone got at least some of the story right.  The details of the disposal of Richard's body were obviously accurate enough to lead the archeologists straight to Richard's grave.

That said, although they got Richard's burial site correct, they really blew it on another key fact.  This next one is a whopper, so make sure to have your computer seat belt on. 


The 500th Anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth


As a warm-up exercise up for our next story, first I have a job for you. 

Find Waldo!

Now I want you to identify the Word next to Waldo.

Once you have the 'Word', try to remember it.

Now please proceed further.


Back in the Seventies, someone noticed the 500th anniversary of the 1485 Battle of Bosworth was just around the corner. 

Bosworth has been described as “one of England’s four great decisive battles of the last 1,000 years,” by the UK Battlefields Trust (Hastings, Battle of Britain, and Naseby are the others).

The chairman of the Battlefields Trust spoke up, "We face public spending cuts but these places are a potentially a huge revenue earner.  Normandy alone has 10 times more battlefield centres than there are in the whole of the UK."

The Leicestershire County Council got the hint.  They thought it would be a good idea for tourism and commemorative purposes to build a vacation complex dedicated to the history of this important event.  Now solidly behind this plan, in 1973, they purchased a large, expensive tract of land next to Ambion Hill, the location of the Battle. 

An expert was hired to help create a museum.  He would be responsible for descriptions of the battle that would accompany the exhibits at the Battlefield Visitors Center.  Murals, models, sketches, sculptures and monuments were authorized.

Large-scale infrastructure projects were undertaken.  New roads were built, old roads were widened and improved.  A hotel was built.  Plans were made for a special train to bring tourists over from Leicester, the nearest city. 

A bike trail was built.  A long walkway was built that stretched all the way to Leicester 20 kilometers away (12 miles).  A water park was built.  A forest park was built.  A zoo was built.  An antique center was built.  A canal was improved for boat rides.  

It was a huge, very expensive, very ambitious project that took about ten years in the making.  But Leicestershire got it done.

It was now 1985. Considering the buzz surrounding this project, people whispered this could be bigger than Stonehenge.   The entire country was poised to visit the area for the celebration. 

Large-scale reenactments of the battle involving costumes, horses, weapons and hundreds of volunteers were scheduled.  A large, open-air stage was built for plays like Shakespeare's Henry V, Henry VI, and of course Richard III

This was going to be such a big deal!!  The entire town would greet the visitors in medieval costume.  Battles!  Jousting!  Archery contests!  Executions! (well, maybe a few fake ones).

But then something weird happened.  On August 8th, two weeks before the big event, an article written by a man named Colin Richmond appeared in History Today

Richmond's article stated unequivocally that the Battle of Bosworth did not take place where they said it did.  

As one might gather, the article created a giant uproar.  The Guardian covered the story.  The London Times covered the story.  The entire country was in a tizzy debating the story.

How was it possible to get the wrong battlefield?   

Think about the members on the Council.  How do you suppose they felt?  Ten years of effort, millions of dollars of investments to make this area the perfect place to visit and now on the eve of this giant event, the whole shebang could go up in smoke. 

If this Richmond bloke was right, the Battle could just as easily have taken place in another county!  

5 miles away?  10 miles away?  20 miles?  Blimey, they might rename the Battle!  If so, this entire Bosworth Vacation Paradise is down the drain.

This was intolerable.  This bad news threatened to devastate attendance at the upcoming gala celebration.  A decision was made.  Someone's head needed to go on the block.

With visions of canceled hotel rooms, someone suggested the best way to guarantee full attendance would be to have a genuine execution after all.  Plus they were mad enough to do it.

How about using Colin Richmond?  Gee, what a great idea!


The Bosworth Battlefield Disappears!!


Example Three of the Fog of War: 
The Startling Disappearance of
the Bosworth Battlefield

How absolutely embarrassing!!   Just about the time England was ready to commemorate one of the four most important battles in history, no one could figure out where the damn battle actually took place.  This was all Dr. Richmond's fault.  Off with his head!

Fortunately for Dr. Richmond, at the last minute they decided not to execute him after all.  Richmond got lucky when Princess Diana agreed to come to the 500th anniversary celebration.  Much to the relief of the organizers, Diana's superstar presence guaranteed the crowds showed up after all (incidentally, I hope everyone knows I am teasing here).   

But that did not mean this controversy was going to be swept under the carpet.  Far from it.

Let's see if we can understand how five centuries of English scholars managed to misplace an entire battlefield. 

Oddly enough, the town of Market Bosworth had virtually nothing to do with the famous battle.  Instead, Ambion Hill (or 'Ambien Hill' if you prefer) would play a pivotal role in this mystery. 

As one may have noticed, every description of the Battle of Bosworth uses Ambion Hill as a starting point.  So let's have a closer look at Ambion Hill.  Ambion Hill is located two miles south of Market Bosworth.  It is said to rise all of 350 feet high.  By comparison, the massive Houston Astrodome in my home town rises 218 feet.  But don't get excited... the land around it is about 300 feet high.  In other words, the hill is about 50 feet high. 



Notice the phrase "VAGUE MENTIONS". 

Ambion Hill is not very high and not very remarkable.  In fact, I have a suggestion: ignore Ambion Hill. 

Even though countless battle descriptions and maps have made a huge fuss over this hill, as it turns out, not one drop of blood was spilled at Ambion Hill during the Battle of Bosworth.

And why was that? 

Oh my gosh, it turns out the battle took place somewhere else!!  How could this be??

Yes, believe it or not, it turned out that Colin Richmond was right.  The historians had pegged the wrong spot as the original battle site. 

Ambion Hill was a fraud, a pretender. 

Poor Ambion Hill.

Its place in English history was illegitimate. 

Join the crowd.  



So now I have confirmed that the location of the battlefield was lost.  But don't get upset, this has happened before.  The best example is the Trojan War.  Many scholars assumed that both Troy and the Trojan War were figments of Homer's imagination to help write best-sellers, sort of like modern day historical fiction writers who stretch things a bit and use mythology to advance their plots. 

As it turned out, the site of the Trojan War was located in Western Turkey.  It was by German archeologist Henrich Schleimann in 1871 (story).  So much for all those smug, highly-educated scholars who claimed the place didn't even exist. 

As for the Battle of Bosworth, some might say this mix-up was even more embarrassing.  They had invested millions of dollars in the wrong spot.  This was supposed to be hallowed ground, not some ordinary spot for some dog to do its business.  All those stone markers suddenly had lost their meaning. 

Considering the importance of Bosworth, this would be akin to misplacing Gettysburg here in the States.  Or worse, losing the Alamo, the Texas answer to Sparta's Thermopylae. 

So what went wrong??   Well, the Fog of War.  What else? 


The main culprit was the terrain.  This part of England is flat.  Very flat.  There are virtually no landmarks of note.  Forgive me if I am wrong, but I think I read somewhere that there are only two hills in the entire region.  Surely I am mistaken, but this picture of the area around Ambion Hill suggests it could be true.  The landscape is so unremarkable it could be true.  Let's just say the absence of any distinguishing topographical clues would help explain why the battlefield began to disappear over time.  Any one of those fields in the picture could be the battle site.

After the battle, no one bothered to write anything down. Why bother?  After all, the people who lived there knew where the battlefield was.  Besides, very few people in this rural area could read or write.  These were the medieval times when illiteracy was rampant.  Therefore, we can assume that local reports were scarce.  Five years passed.  Ten years passed.  Fifteen years passed.  Three more years passed.  Finally in 1503, eighteen years after the battle, a guy named Polydore Vergil was hired by Henry to write the history of his reign.

Vergil (c. 1470-1555) was an Italian humanist scholar, historian, priest and diplomat who spent most of his life in England.  Vergil has been dubbed the "Father of English History".  The Richard III Society has a different name for him... "Public Enemy #1".

Just in case my fellow Texans have not caught on yet, there are many people over in England who love to argue over anything to do with 'Richard the Third' or 'Henry Tudor'.  They will argue over Shakespeare's play.  They will argue over just how deformed Richard was (for the record, he suffered from scoliosis).  They will argue over who killed the Princes in the Tower.  They will argue over where his recently discovered bones should be re-interred. 

Seriously, the animosity in England reminds me of ancient Civil War tensions that rear their ugly head here in America from time to time.  If you ever visit England, just be aware that any mention of Vergil's so-called hatchet job on Richard still raises everyone's blood pressure. 

Vergil was hired by Henry Tudor to write a favorable account of his life.  According to some, Vergil had a clear understanding of who was writing his paycheck.  He is said to have slanted the facts against Richard. 

Indeed, the Richard III Society really dislikes Polydore.  They are bitter because there was no one to defend Richard's reputation, so Vergil had a field day.  The Richard III Society not only accuses Vergil of destroying documents that contradict any positive point of view of Richard, the Society claims there are numerous errors in Vergil’s account of the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III. 

To begin with, they say Vergil is the guy who started those mean rumors about Richard having a withered arm.  Even worse, Vergil was the first person to 'document' the ugly rumors that Richard was responsible for the murder of his nephews. 

Vergil's statements refer to Richard as spiteful, malicious, fraudulent, graceless, wicked, mischievous, frantic and mad.  Virgil claimed Richard's villainy caused his defeat at Bosworth because all his men deserted him, forcing him to fight alone.  Plus he smelled bad (actually I made that one up).


Vergil's work gave Henry what he wanted – an account depicting the crimes, faults and unpopularity that defamed King Richard III for time immemorial.  With his so-called History of England, the cards were stacked against the unfortunate Richard III. 

Indeed, Shakespeare's Tragedy of Richard III, the play that makes Richard a villain, is largely based on Vergil's work. 

However, keep in mind that Vergil has his supporters too.  There are a lot of people who think Polydore Vergil is wonderful.  One doesn't get named the 'Father of English History' without a considerable fan club.  

Personally speaking, I don't want to get in the middle of this.  All I care about is to find out what happened to poor Ambion Hill. 

Vergil is the man credited with naming the fight the Battle of BosworthMarket Bosworth is a tiny hamlet of 2,000 people located about 2 miles north of Ambion Hill. 

Unfortunately Vergil never bothered to visit the Bosworth location when he wrote his description.  That explains why his details of the physical lay-out are few and far between. 

As it turns out, it is the 'marsh' mentioned by Vergil and a 'hill' that set the history detectives looking for some marsh-hill combination south of Bosworth.  Vergil didn't give them much to go by, did he?


Raphael Holinshed (1529–1580) was an English chronicler.  His work, commonly known as Holinshed's Chronicles, became instrumental in placing the battlefield's location.

Holinshed based his 1571 description of the Bosworth Battle on Vergil's work.  However, since Holinshead lived only six miles from the battle site, his writing gives hints that he may have actually visited the site.  Holinshead added more details about both the marsh and the hill. 

 Holinshed had two key phrases:

"Betweene both armies there was a great marsh then (but at this present, by reason of diches cast, it is growne to be firme ground."

What, the marsh has disappeared?  Uh oh.  That makes the 'hill' reference twice as important. 

"King Richard pitched his field on a hill called Anne Beame, refreshed his soldiers and took his rest."

Note that if we break the word 'Beame' into two syllables, we get 'Anne Be Ame', then say it fast, it sounds like 'Ambion'. 


Holinshead can therefore be credited with bringing Ambion Hill into the picture.  So what if there was no marsh?  After all, Holinshead said it dried up.  Voila!  That would explain why there was no marsh around Ambion Hill to any Johnny-come-latelies. 

This is a modern picture of the town of Market Bosworth.  As one can see, the terrain south of the town is remarkably flat. 

In 1785, an amateur historian named John Robinson became the first to state that 'The Ambien' was 'the supposed place of the engagement'. 

Since Ambion Hill was the main hill south of Market Bosworth, no one objected too strenuously.  As if someone actually cared?

After all, the Holinshead Chronicle had specifically stated Richard camped on Ambion Hill.  The first big bump south of the town sounded like as good a spot as any.  Sure, why not?

William Hutton (1723-1815) owned a profitable Birmingham paper warehouse.  His great fortune allowed him time to write historical treatises AND get them published widely. 

Hutton’s famous book "The Battle of Bosworth" was published in 1788.  Hutton was the man who drew this map.  Notice that Ambion Hill figures prominently in the battlefield.

There are those who suggest Hutton took these words too seriously:

"King Richard pitched his field on a hill called Anne Beame, refreshed his soldiers and took his rest."

Hutton may have been guilty of poor logic.  Just because Richard camped there did not mean he also fought there

Although this book was widely criticized at the time, over time Hutton’s work became the account upon which most theories were based.  For example, Hutton claimed he placed the position of the famous marsh on the northwest slope of Ambion Hill because he had once personally trodden in it.  Hutton placed the marsh near the spring known as "King Richard’s Well". 

A return visit in the following years failed to find any trace of the marsh.  Nevertheless, Hutton continued to insist that what he had previously found was "that marsh".

According to modern writer Paul Trevor Hale, Hutton appears not to have known that the marshland in the area had been reclaimed during the enclosure of Dadlington and Stoke Golding in the 1580s.

Here is the key point:  Since no one really cared enough to write a book of their own in protest, as time passed, Hutton's book grew in importance as an authoritative work.  It became influential in causing the hill to be accepted as the site of the battle.

In the absence of an alternative site, over time people took it for granted that Ambion Hill was 'The Place where Richard III died'.



Rick Archer's Note:
 A gentleman by the name of Paul Trevor Vale has written a detailed account of how the Battlefield became the focus of great controversy here in modern times.  The following information is excerpted from his excellent article.  I highly recommend that anyone interested in this story read Mr. Vale's complete account.

The Continuing Battle of Bosworth Field

Written by Paul Trevor Vale
Original Story


In 1973, the Leicestershire County Council purchased the piece of land known as Ambien Farm, located on and around Ambien Hill, near the village of Sutton Cheney. The Council began to develop a Bosworth Field Battlefield Centre. The Council hired a historian to work out the battle positions and tactics of the various participants.  Heraldic standards were being made to mark the positions of the armies on the morning of that fateful day: August 22, 1485.

Regarding the Differing Views of Dr. Daniel Williams and Dr. Colin Richmond

Shortly after the project was underway, the original historian withdrew, for reasons never stated.  He was replaced by Dr. Daniel Williams, lecturer in history at Leicester University. Walkways were laid out around Ambien Hill; the old farmhouse was converted into an exhibition hall, book shop and snack bar; and a car park was provided. Dr. Williams published a 24-page booklet giving his analysis. The Council set out the flags and maps to match Dr. Williams’ theories, and opened the Battlefield Centre to the public.

Since 1973, many have expressed doubts about the validity of the site. To mark the 500th anniversary of the battle, Dr. Colin Richmond published an article in the August 1985 edition of History Today.  Dr. Richmond claimed that Dr. Williams was wrong, and that the battle was actually fought elsewhere.  Dr. Richmond’s account was controversial enough to make the front pages of both The Times and the Guardian newspapers on July 27, 1985. What had previously been private academic discussions became heated public debate.

Richmond’s argument was that the battle was not fought to the west of Ambien Hill, and that William Stanley did not intervene decisively from a position to the north. Williams placed both Stanleys to the north, illogical from any aspect. Richmond held the exact opposite: that William Stanley came up from a southwesterly direction to swing the day in Henry’s favour; and that the main battle took place on the plain to the south of Ambien Hill, between the Hill and the village of Dadlington. He also advanced the theory that Northumberland, one of Richard III’s chief commanders, was a traitor. Richmond seemed to think this would come as no surprise to students of the battle. However, the revised positioning of the battle site may prove Richmond’s work to be a statement that tradition does Northumberland an injustice. Unfortunately, Richmond apparently tried to be controversial. He made comments such as: "The manner of [Richard’s] death may account for the sympathy he otherwise unaccountably evokes" [emphasis added]. This naturally angered pro-Ricardian scholars; many of them attacked the article as a whole, thereby discarding some interesting and salient points.

Naturally, Dr. Williams led the attack by defending his own position. He wrote to The London Times that "Dr. Richmond makes it clear that he does not like the Battlefield Centre, but his comment and observations seem to be carrying pique a little too far."

In closing, Dr. Williams stated that "There is a good deal more to be said, but what is here supports my feeling that the Silly Season has started somewhat early." 

What makes Dr. Williams think he is right? Some of his theories are dubious, to say the least. Quoting the Croyland Chronicle, which states that King Richard’s army ‘was encamped at the Abbey of Mirival at a distance of about 8 miles from that town (Leicester),’ Dr. Williams concludes that, "Allowing for approximations this would place Richard’s Camp at about 9 miles from Leicester and about 5 miles from Merevale Abbey, which is at almost exactly the position of Ambien Hill". These estimated figures are highly convenient if one’s goal is to place the site on Ambien Hill. However, at a lecture given on August 31, 1985, Williams stated that Ambien is 6 miles from Merevale and 10 miles from Leicester. Regarding the campsite of Henry Tudor, self styled Earl of Richmond, Williams said: "Henry and his Army arrived at the final resting place before the Battle, their camp at Whitemoores. The camp itself…must have been…to the west of the intersection of Watling Street and the road to Shenton". According to his notes, the source for this assumption is a "local but ancient tradition". Is this the same tradition which had the inhabitants of Stoke Golding watching the battle from their church tower, that Williams dismissed in The Times article? With Dr. Williams, it would seem that even before dawn on the day of the battle, August 22, 1485, we are back in the realm of "common faith hath it..."!

It is worthwhile reiterating why Dr. Williams wrote his account, and asking some questions. Williams was hired to write about a battle that took place on and around Ambien Hill: the land now owned by the Leicester County Council.

Did the original historian withdraw because he could not make the evidence and facts fit this site?  

Does Dr. Williams defend his theories so often, and so vehemently, because of the vested interest now involved in the site?

The August 11, 1985 Sunday Telegraph called it "The Big Business of Bosworth". Defending Colin Richmond’s views, the Reverend Anthony Bardesley, Vicar of Stoke Golding and Dadlington, stated that the farmers of Dadlington were the first to be approached by the Council with a view to buying their land for a battlefield centre, but they had refused to sell. Odd behaviour for a council that "knew" the battle took place across the valley on Ambien Hill.


(Rick Archer's Note:  I have enclosed only one-third of Mr. Vale's original article.  He goes on to make many more valid points why the location of Ambion Hill was absurd.  Again, I encourage the readers to visit his web page

For our purposes, Mr. Vale has explained how the modern battle lines formed.   It seems that for the purposes of tourism and heritage, with the 500th anniversary looming, the time had come to commemorate the famous battle. Apparently due to the Fog of War, the idea that Ambion Hill was the location of the battle had more or less become accepted as fact. 

So the Leicestershire Council bought an expensive tract of land around Ambion Hill and set about building a Visitor's Center complete with stories and drawings of the battle.  They hired Dr. Daniel Williams from the University of Leicester to document the battle for their exhibits.  Somewhere along the way, Dr. Williams also became curator of the museum. 

Dr. Williams passed away in 1998.  Now I have no idea what sort of man Dr. Williams was, but even if he was as grouchy as he was portrayed to be, I still feel sorry for him.  His obituary says he was a popular professor at the University of Leicester.  His passion was research on the later Middle Ages.  Clearly the proximity of Leicester to the area where the famous battle was fought help spur his commitment to the history of the locality, and especially its associations with Richard III.

Dr. Williams was the historical adviser who worked with Leicestershire County Council's team to locate and develop as a tourist attraction the site of the Battle of Bosworth. His account of the battle site has been reprinted many times since its publication in 1973. A new, fuller edition was published in 1996, with a characteristically lively text and illustrations drawn from contemporary and later sources.

However, Williams' obituary made no mention of what had to be bitter heartache for the man to have his work constantly questioned.  No doubt much of his identity and reputation was wrapped up in the validity of his work.  It must have hurt him deeply to discover the same people who had hired him in the first place - the Leicestershire Council - had begun making discrete inquiries about buying land further to the south near Dadlington... "Odd behaviour for a council that 'knew' the battle took place across the valley on Ambien Hill.


Re-Discovery of the Battle Site


As we learned from Paul Vale, Leicestershire County Council set up the battlefield visitor centre at what was Ambion Hill Farm, in 1974.  The Council depended on the work of Leicester University historian Daniel Williams to establish the location and to interpret the battle for its murals inside the Visitor Center.

This is a photograph from the Bosworth Visitor Center.  It appears to be a large scale model of the battlefield.  Notice the men charging downwards... no doubt charging down from Ambion Hill!!  Very ironic. 

After the Council had gone to considerable cost and trouble to establish this state of the art tourist destination, the critics had a field day.  Indeed, throughout the Seventies, local historians challenged the Ambion Hill location for the battle, but to no avail.

Then came 1985.  On the eve of the 500th anniversary, historian Colin Richmond dropped his bombshell.  He had uncovered a document which said the battle had taken place at Dadlington Field. 

Richmond’s article threw a real damper over the celebrations. Talk about a party pooper!!  For the first time in 500 years, people began to notice that Dadlington possessed the only other hill besides Ambion in the entire county.  Uh oh. 


The supporters of the traditional site at Ambion Hill would not go down without a fight.  Two months later after Colin Richmond's 1985 article appeared, Daniel Williams, curator of the battlefield center, dismissed Richmond’s claims vehemently. 

For one thing, where was the marsh??  Dadlington was dry as a bone.  If the glove don't fit, you gotta acquit.  If the marsh ain't there, won't be no Renaissance Faire. 

However, now that the cat was out of the bag, people were very worried that Colin Richmond was right.  Indeed, as debate grew heated, Ambion Hill was being compared to Stoke Golding's Crown Hill.  Was it possible they had the wrong hill all along? 

One thing that bothered people was the conspicuous absence of artifacts at the base of Ambion Hill.  Why can't we find an arrowhead, a spear tip or a cannon ball or two?? 

Of course there weren't any artifacts at Crown Hill either, but they did have bones.  It seems there was a burial site for victims of the Bosworth Battle next to Crown Hill. 

This fact was very upsetting.  As we know, typically bodies are buried next to the battle site.  For example, there are 10,000 graves located 300 yards from Omaha Beach, site of the bloodiest D-Day battle.  If everyone died at Ambion Hill, then why cart the bodies two miles away to Crown Hill?   Wouldn't it be easier just to bury them in soft soil of the alleged marsh that was said to exist next to Ambion Hill?

Five years after Colin Richmond had opened the debate, in 1990, Peter Foss published a book that presented powerful arguments in favor of the Dadlington area.  People were particularly impressed with his maps.  Mr. Foss had drawn several superior maps of the battlefield to support his new theories of the location.  His book was so persuasive that public opinion now swung heavily in favor of Dadlington.


According to Peter Foss, the Ambion Hill theory was a piece of 18th-century nonsense proposed by a Birmingham paper manufacturer and amateur antiquary, William Hutton.

“He was no good as an antiquary, a dilettante really,” said Foss.

But Hutton was widely believed, even though his idea contradicted both near-contemporary accounts and simple logic.  After all, it hardly seems likely that Henry would have gained the crown by charging uphill.  Nevertheless, the people in charge of constructing the Bosworth memorial seeming bought his story as well. 


Foss discovered in local records that ‘Redmor’ lay ‘in the fields of Dadlington’, a key factor that reinforced Richmond’s argument.

Peter Foss was not satisfied with discrediting Ambion Hill, but was determined to locate the exact site.  Foss combined his expert knowledge of local topography, geology plus a close reading of the original sources to write The Field of Redemore.

This book, first published in 1990, was very influential in swinging the tide in favor of several farms in the vicinity of Dadlington as the more likely location of the battle.  Even though the exact spot had yet to be pinpointed, in 1995 the English Heritage was convinced enough to include the fields around Dadlington in its Register of Historic Battlefields. 

Unfortunately, there were still some die-hards on the Council who refused to accept the theory.  Their continuing stubborn attitude resulted in many heated debates.  Consequently, over the next decade, pressure mounted to begin a full-scale investigation. 

Finally the Council threw in the towel.  They commissioned an expensive, large scale project to find the true location of the battlefield.  In 2004, a landscape archeologist named Glenn Foard was hired to solve the mystery. 


The Battlefield Trust Project


Silver badge and lead shot pinpoint site of Battle of Bosworth

Written by Maev Kennedy
The Guardian

Friday, 19 February 2010

A thumbnail-sized silver gilt boar, still snarling ferociously after 500 years, and a little heap of battered lead balls have pinpointed the much disputed site of the Battle of Bosworth, and even the spot where Richard III was cut down by Tudor swords, becoming the last English king to die in battle.

Archaeologists made the announcement today close to the site where Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII with the crown that had tumbled from the dying Richard's head. The archaeologists believe the boar badge, his personal emblem, was worn by someone who died at his side.

The crucial evidence, including badges of supporters of both kings, sword mounts, coins, and 28 lumps of roundshot, turned up in fields straddling Fen Lane in the Leicestershire parish of Upton. No historian had previously investigated the location, which is nearly two miles south-west of what had traditionally been regarded as the centre of the battle.

"It took us five years to locate it, but there it is, the Battle of Bosworth," said Glenn Foard, an expert on battlefield archaeology, who led the hunt.

A major find was the silver boar badge, the emblem of King Richard III.  It was found on the edge of a field called Fen Hole.

Dr. Foard:  "The most important find by far is the silver-gilt boar, which was Richard III’s own badge, given in large numbers to his supporters.  But this one is special, because it is silver-gilt. It was almost certainly worn by a knight in King Richard’s own retinue who rode with the King to his death in his last desperate cavalry charge. It was found right next to the site of Fen Hole - a small medieval marsh - and the King was killed when his horse became stuck in a mire."

In medieval times, Fen Hole was a marsh that played a crucial role in the battle by protecting the flank of Henry Tudor's much smaller army.  Finding this marsh proved pivotal in discovering the actual location of the battlefield.

Farmer Alf Oliver was astonished at the revelation, outside all the parishes which have vied for centuries to claim the honour, in his fields straddling Fenn Lane. The lane was once a Roman road linking Leicester and Atherstone, the towns from which Richard and Henry approached the battle.

One of the crucial finds, the largest of the roundshot nicknamed 'the holy grapefruit' by the archaeologists, was found just behind one of Oliver's barns.  The shot not only maps the arc of the battle, it proves that artillery was used by both sides in greater numbers than previously thought.

Frank Baldwin, chairman of the Battlefields Trust charity, was beyond elated to see the project come to fruition.

"The discovery of the actual site of the battle is just as important to us as Heinrich Schliemann discovering Troy."


Give credit to Colin Richmond for rocking the boat back in 1985.  Without Richmond’s earth-shattering History Today article, it seems unlikely that this battlefield would have never been found.  Even then, it had taken 25 more years to finally solve the mystery. 

Give further credit to Peter Foss, who participated in the painstaking work with keen interest.  It was his genius that had created the attitude shift necessary to lead to this survey.

I never doubted my original theory about where the correct site is.  I have a great knowledge of the area and it all made sense.

When I carried out my research they had none of the technology they have today but my work was very, very sound and I am delighted if it is now recognized as being right.

In 2004 that the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Battlefields Trust and Leicester County Council together secured funding for an archaeological project led by Glenn Foard to locate the battlefield site. 

The survey proved to be very expensive.  At a cost of 1.3 million pounds (1.6 million dollars), metal detectors were employed, topographical surveys were made and sophisticated soil analysis was conducted. 

Even then, it took four years to get results.  No doubt the slow progress caused much hand-wringing and worry. 

Starting in 2005, teams of men armed with metal detectors fanned out systematically across farm fields.  Part of the problem was that the battlefield turned out to be further west than originally predicted by Peter Ross.

The initial breakthrough came on March 1st, 2009.  That is when a small lead ball, 30mm in diameter, was discovered further west of Dadlington.  Once the first ball was found, it unlocked a treasure trove nearby. 

By December 2010, 33 lead projectiles had been uncovered, a greater number than from all other archaeological surveys on battlefields of the 15th century combined.  What an amazing find this had been. 


Dr. Glenn Foard's Story of the Search


The discovery took a lot longer than Dr. Foard could have ever imagined.  It had taken four long, frustrating years to locate the correct spot.  Part of the problem was that winter and rainy season limited the search to little over half of each year. 

Dr. Foard understood that without the convincing work of Peter Foss, this survey would never have been undertaken in the first place.  As one writer had put it, "The decision to hire Glenn Foard to conduct the search appears to vindicate the theories of local historian Peter Foss, who has been arguing the case since the 1980s – although not everyone in this rather bitchy subculture wishes to admit it."

Mr. Foss had every right to be pleased.  The decision to finally undertake a scientific survey of the area - an extremely costly undertaking - indicated that public opinion had swung heavily in favor.  He believed that the Dadlington area, not Ambion Hill, was where the battle took place.  Now all they had to do was find the darn thing. 

Unfortunately, in a perverse twist, Mr. Foss had done his work too well.  Unbeknownst to him (or anyone else), his prediction was off by about a mile.  Around Dadlington, there was one spot after another with ancient names such as 'Redemore' (place of the reeds) and 'Fennagh' that hinted the marsh - long since dried up - might have been located nearby.  These marsh-related names practically begged the researchers to have a look. 

The team led by Dr. Glenn Foard was understandably drawn to these fields around Dadlington, but they were to be disappointed time and time again.

This search turned out to be a major community effort.  On a sunny day, there might be several teams of volunteers - college students, retirees, civic clubs, church groups - scouring giant fields centimeter by centimeter for hours on end.  However, they never found anything!!  Frustrated, sometimes another team did the same area.  These Google Earth images barely begin to convey the vast amount of territory the search teams had to cover inch by inch.  This was a needle in a haystack job.

In his book,  A Battlefield Rediscovered, Dr. Foard explained the Foss hypothesis was all-powerful.  Assuming that the dried-up marsh areas near Dadlington were certain to offer the answer, the ground was turned upside down, but to no avail.

Stage One

"Throughout the investigation of the case presented by Peter Foss, the idea that the battle had been fought in Dadlington township appeared so strong that it distorted perceptions, particularly of the data for the distribution of wetland.

As a result, our search for peat deposits and battlefield archeology had been extended widely across Dadlington, even to the eastern side of the town, which lay far away from the concentration of places that had 'fen names'.

When we found Fen Meadow closer to Dadlington, we really thought we'd nailed it.  However soil surveys showed that the marsh had dried up in Roman times.  We were heartsick at the time.  

Stage Two

Yet, as we cast the net ever wider, new options began to appear.  The discovery of the peat deposit at Fen Hole in 2007 lifted our hopes and shifted attention westward. The evidence for wetland, heath, and moor was reviewed and the possibility that the battlefield lay beyond the western edge of Dadlington was considered."      Glenn Foard

For a variety of reasons, the westward search stopped at the eastern side of Lychgate Fish Farm, a lake in the lowlands.  That had been their agreed-upon cut-off point for the moment.  Little did they know that the battlefield site lay just beyond!

Frustrated that the wider search net had not panned out, Foard's team returned to the Foss hypothesis.  They decided to ask for a second opinion on the Fen Meadow possibility.  Still, an important idea had been sown in the back of Dr. Foard's mind.  It might still be Fen Hole... the back side was unexplored.

In the summer of 2008, I stood on Crown Hill with my colleague Richard Holmes.  We had spent the day touring the various locations that had already been investigated. 

Looking across the low-lying ground to the north and west which had provided the focus for our tour today, Richard asked a simple but perceptive question.

"Glenn, if you forget all the caveats, what is your gut feeling as to where the battlefield lies?"

My mind flashed directly to an earlier thought.  It must lie west of Fen Hole somewhere near the Roman Road. 

Stage Three

Winter came and we had to stop.  In the following year, 2009, we received confirmation that the wetland in Fen Meadow had been gone long before the 15th century.  It had likely been drained by Roman ditches long before the battle took place.  Dead end!!

After three years of extensive work testing the Foss hypothesis, the lack of convincing battle archeology forced us to finally reject the Foss interpretation.

This allowed Fen Hole to supplant Fen Meadow as the likely candidate for 'The Marsh'.  So we moved further west.  That is when we hit pay dirt in 2009.  

Glenn Foard


The discovery, when it eventually came, was a bit surreal because the successful team was surrounded by other search parties studying four wrong locations.  This odd sight was further testimony to the painful needle in a haystack approach necessary to locate the wandering battlefield. 

The new battle site belonged to farmer Alf Oliver at Fenn Lane Farm.  Mr. Oliver had never imagined his farm was 'The One'.  All the best guesses lay well beyond his farm.  So when the researchers came calling, he had assumed they were wasting their time.  Mr. Oliver admitted he was astonished at the artifact discoveries in his fields straddling Fen Lane.

After four years of rotten luck, Dr. Foard said it was about time they got lucky.  They barely missed adding another year!

“For more than a year we had hints we were close to the action but it was only in the last week of planned field work, in the last possible area, that the critical evidence was found.”

As improbable as this long search had been, there was a silver lining - the battlefield was perfectly preserved.  Due to the hidden location, no looting had ever taken place.  Now the archaeologists had a field day (small joke) exploring what had to feel to them like a veritable gold mine. 

The items discovered so far include artillery shot, handgun shot and fragments of swords, bridle fittings, spurs... plus three coins almost certainly lost by combatants during the battle.

As we know, it was the silver boar of Richard III that provided the definitive clue that this farm was the correct location.  The boar was very small, no bigger than a thumbnail.  It was muddy and battered, but still snarling in rage after 500 years.

The tiny 1.5-inch boar was found by Carl Dawson, a retired university lecturer and one of the many volunteers who helped scan hundreds of miles in the area with metal detectors.

Dawson had found the boar on the edge of a field called Fen Hole.  In other words, Carl Dawson had not just found an invaluable artifact, he had discovered the all-important marsh which in medieval times played a crucial role in the battle, protecting the flank of Henry Tudor's much smaller army.  

Although this marsh was drained centuries ago, Alf Oliver said it still gets boggy in that spot during the very wet summers.

One can imagine that somewhere in that ABCDEF complex is the spot where King Richard met his death. 

Another one of the crucial finds, a large cannonball nicknamed 'the holy grapefruit', was found behind one of Oliver’s barns.

It turns out that the road to Alf Oliver's farms has an interesting name.  It is known as 'Fenn Lane'. 
This road goes way back to antiquity.  Fenn Lane was the Roman road linking Leicester and AtherstoneLeicester and Atherstone were the towns from which Richard and Henry approached the eventual battle site.

The only roads back in those days were Roman roads... and there weren't very many of them.  Considering all the various marshes providing major obstacles to wagons and artillery, the armies would not cross the fields for fear of 'bogging down' into the muddy areas.  Therefore common sense dictates that both armies came straight down this road for the big bash.

In other words, there was considerable irony in the discovery that this farm straddled the Roman road.  Why didn't anyone think of researching this long road first? 

Furthermore, if researchers were looking for a 'Marsh', wouldn't logic suggest starting with sites along a road named 'Marsh Road'?  Unfortunately, there were no roads named 'Marsh Road'.  But there was a Fenn Lane.  And there was a Fen Hole

Do you know what a 'Fen' is??

Fen: a low and marshy or frequently flooded area of land.  "a flooded fen"

synonyms: marsh, marshland, salt marsh, fenland, wetland, bog, peat bog, swamp, swampland

• flat low-lying areas of eastern England, formerly marshland but largely drained for agriculture since the 17th century.

In hindsight, this road was a perfectly logical place for the armies to meet.  They discovered the battle took place on Fen (Marsh) Lane, the ONLY major road of the day right where it crossed Fen (Marsh) Hole. 

Of course there were a million extenuating factors that I have no knowledge of.  Nevertheless, one can imagine, this was a giant 'Duh, why didn't I think of that?' moment for the frustrated searchers. 

At some point, the history books will have to be rewritten.  Given this new knowledge, it becomes clear as day what took place in 1485.  Henry camped at Atherstone on the night prior to the battle.  That is when Henry had his audience with the non-committal Lord Stanley.  The next morning, Henry marched five miles down the road.  Richard came off of Ambion Hill and marched two miles down to the road to meet Henry.  They lined up their cannons and their men, then started the battle. 

According to the proclamation which the new King Henry VII issued after the battle, Richard was killed at “Sandeford in the county of Leicester”.

However, it has never been clear where Sandeford was, although chroniclers describe features such as a marsh that lay between the two armies.

The coup de grâce was the unearthing of that small silver gilt badge of a boar.  This had been Richard III’s insignia. 

Perhaps when the re-writing begins, 'Fen Hole' will be renamed 'Sandeford'. 

Here, then, was definitive proof that Colin Richmond and Peter Foss had been right all along.  Bosworth had not been fought at Ambion Hill, but rather on a plain 1.2 miles west of Dadlington. 

The revelations arose from an overlooked trough of rolling countryside two miles from the previously most widely accepted battlefield, below Ambion Hill.  Once they found the right spot, a bevy of archaeologists unveiled 22 primitive pistol bullets and cannonballs, alongside soil surveys and data from metal detection over 2.7 square miles. 

In particular, this 1485 battle heralded a major change in weaponry from previous encounters in the Wars of the Roses. 

One can assume the pictures of stalwart yeomen with bows and arrows are outdated by this find.  No doubt pictures of gunmen will need to be added to the walls of the Bosworth Center. 

"We are seeing here the origins of firepower which led to the British empire spanning the globe.  Only two bullets have been found in 27 years' of work at Towton (Britain's bloodiest-ever battle, 1461). We are sure that we will dig up plenty more here.Glenn Foard

The large scale of the ammunition haul has long-reaching implications for history.  The Battle of Bosworth's significance is thereby elevated from merely a national landmark to international importance. 

These artillery findings signal the exact date of an unanticipated technological shift from archery to gunfire.   From here on, as they say, warfare would never be the same. 


The Story of
Crown Hill



In the Game of Thrones, there are winners and losers.   The same goes for the War of the Roses

By marrying Elizabeth of York, Henry Tudor took the Red Rose of Lancaster and the White Rose of York and created the Tudor Rose, a powerful symbol that portrayed the unification of the warring Houses into one kingdom.  Very clever. 

As I said earlier, the discovery of the correct battle site will require a major rewrite of the history books as more facts become clear.  For example, there is the tale of Richard's mighty army dashing down Ambion Hill, a charge that should have struck terror into Henry's army.  What underdog army is stupid enough to fight at the base of a hill?  

Then there is that very pretty myth where Thomas Lord Stanley finally made it to the battlefield, saw Richard’s battle crown on a bush, picked it up and placed it on Henry’s head. Then the whole field knelt to their new king with great reverence.  Very impressive. 

The idea of Henry being crowned by the dominant warlord Stanley with cheering men and Richard's crumpled body nearby does create a striking picture.  However, I have a suggestion: forget this image.  This is just one of the many stories that will need to be rewritten. 

The more likely account suggests Henry was crowned 'King' on Crown Hill in Stoke Golding, a small hamlet located a scant mile east of the Fenn Lane battlefield.  So why is it called 'Crown Hill'?  Common sense suggests it was renamed 'Crown Hill' because Henry was crowned there.

I searched long and hard for a picture of Crown Hill.  I am still looking.  The only picture I could find was taken from a canal boat taken one morning from nearby Ashby Canal.  (Bosworth, Dadlington, and Stoke Golding are all connected by 30-mile Ashby Canal which is wide enough for small riverboats to transit.) 

This riverboat picture of St. Margaret's Church suggests that the town of Stoke Golding is elevated on a sprawling rise that I can only assume is 'Crown Hill'.  I was looking for a bump on the horizon, but Crown Hill is probably more like an wide, flat, elevated plateau. 

If I am wrong about this, forgive me.  As they say, I am doing the best I can to solve all mysteries sitting at my computer in Houston, Texas.

In a way, I can understand the problem that Polydore Vergil faced when he was writing the history of the Battle of Bosworth from some library in London.  It was Vergil who gave the Battle of Bosworth its name because on a map, Market Bosworth was the closest town to Ambion Hill. 

Given that Market Bosworth is two miles north of Ambion Hill and Stoke Golding is two miles south of Ambion Hill, one has to wonder if the Battle of Bosworth will ever be renamed.   Given that Stoke Golding is one mile from Fenn Lane Farm and and Bosworth is 3.5 miles, Stoke Golding would seem to have a better claim to the name than Bosworth. 

Plus Stoke Golding has Crown Hill.  What does Market Bosworth have?  Henry Tudor never put one foot in Market Bosworth during the battle.

Stoke Golding claims to be the "Birthplace of the Tudor Dynasty".  As we can see from the sign, Stoke Golding has already started laying claim to Revisionist History.  Will future English schoolchildren read about the Battle of Stoke Golding?  Or will it be the Battle of Crown Hill?  Has a major battle ever been renamed?  One can only wonder.

Glenn Foard now believes the story of Henry being crowned in Stoke Golding is the correct one. 

"Our discovery suggests that the Crown Hill story is probably right, that Henry VII placed the crown on his head there after one of his soldiers found it in a thorn bush. We will never know, but it would have been the obvious place."   

Traditionally Stoke Golding is known as the village where King Henry VII was crowned after the Battle of Bosworth.  It has also recently been established that the battle took place much closer to the village than previously thought.

During the battle, the villagers of Stoke Golding climbed to the top of the tower of St. Margaret's Church to watch the battle in the distance.  One can still see the grooves on the window sills where the archers sharpened their arrows on the night before the battle.

Henry Tudor was victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, which took place in the former marshland known as the Redemore between Stoke Golding, Dadlington, Shenton and Sutton Cheney.

After the battle, Henry's entourage retired to hilly ground near the village of Stoke Golding, no doubt to celebrate.

As the legend goes, Sir Reginald Bray, one of Henry Tudor's knights, had found Richard's crown in a hawthorn bush and brought it to the new king.  Lord Stanley then took it upon himself to create the impromptu coronation using an old table and chair from a local farmhouse.

Soon after, this area became known as Crown Hill and Crownhill Field

Following its moment in history, Stoke Golding returned to being a sleepy, farming village.  As the Industrial Revolution crept across England, small industries grew up including the making of socks, stockings and shoes.  Goods were brought to the village by the Ashby Canal or the railway which connected the village to Nuneaton, Coalville and the North. 

Unfortunately, most of the industry has now gone, although a small trading estate still remains alongside three pubs, a Post Office, a general shop and a small marina on the Ashby Canal.

One would imagine the Stoke Golding chamber of commerce is visualizing ways to capitalize on its proximity to Fenn Lane Farm at this very moment.  For example, the village sign proudly shows the two hawthorn bushes on Crown Hill where Richard III's crown was said to have been found following his death.  Market Bosworth better watch out.  

Incidentally, that boat ride along Ashby Canal looks like a lot of fun!!   That is where you would find me.

If you are interested in a visit, I suggest you read this delightful blog written by a day visitor to the area:  Saga Run to Battle

At the end of the day, they stop at the George and Dragon pub in Stoke Golding for a pint of ale.  You'll find me there too!

As one gentleman put it, there are few pubs called the White Boar, after Richard’s emblem, but dozens of Blue Boars, the emblem of Henry’s triumphant general, the Earl of Oxford.

Pub signs, like history, are written by the victors.



The Re-Interment of Richard III


This crowd is watching the funeral cortege of Richard III as it passes through their town on March 26, 2015.

There is a chance the public's perception of Richard may be changing.

A mock trial of Richard III, charged with the murder of the Princes in the Tower, was held in a full St James’ Church, Dadlington.

The jury (made up of the whole audience) found the King innocent of all charges.

Unfortunately, I do not know if this report is true or not. 

The story was said to be reported in The Guardian, but I was unable to find it.


On March 26, 2015, the remains of Richard III were reburied in a formal ceremony that stretched from the battlefield at Fenn Lane Farm to Dadlington and Stoke Golding all the way back to Leicester.

Although I wrote earlier about the 2012 discovery of Richard's body in Leicester, I was unaware at the time that there had been a 2015 service to rebury the King's remains.  Our story would not be complete without some mention. 

The ceremony began at noon that day.  A hearse carrying Richard's remains embarked from Leicester on a 30 mile roundtrip through the English countryside.  Along the way, the procession made stops at Fenn Lane Farm, Dadlington, Sutton-Cheney, the 'original battlefield' at Ambion Hill, Market Bosworth, and four other towns before returning to Leicester at 6 pm.

At that point, there was a service held for Richard and then his coffin was placed into its final resting place. 

Philippa Langley was the woman who spearheaded the campaign to find the king.  As we recall, Ms. Langley was walking through an empty parking lot in Leicester when she felt a chill and had a premonition that she was standing on Richard’s grave.  Ms. Langley as well as her comrade John Ashdown-Hill were on hand to witness the ceremony in the church.

Speaking afterwards, Ms. Langley said:

"I was thinking about all those years ago when I put the Looking for Richard project together and its ethos, its aim to give Richard III what he didn't get when he died in the field of battle.   I was thinking 'Today it is a job well done'. It really is a privilege.  We are laying Richard to rest with full dignity and honour."

Historian Dr. John Ashdown-Hill said:

"It was good to get the sort of reverence for Richard that he didn't really get in 1485.  Philippa and I and the Looking for Richard team had been saying all along this is what we wanted for him."

As for my personal feelings, I am far too removed from the details to pass judgment on Richard's alleged crimes, but I admit I feel a sense of sympathy for him.  Perhaps if I knew more I would feel differently. 

What I am certain of is that it was shameful the way Richard's body was mutilated.  Not only was Richard's dead body struck many times while he was on the ground, his naked body was thrown over a horse and carried to Leicester.  There his body lay on a table for days with only a small cloth to cover his private area while onlookers streamed past.  The worst indignity of all was throwing his body into a grave without even a coffin. 

One has to assume Richard was hated like a monster for his enemies to treat him so callously.  The picture tells the story.

I am very glad Richard received a proper burial.  I was touched by the respect shown by the British people for the reburial of their fallen King. 

I will now share the rest of this story in photographs.  





White Princess


Elizabeth of York was the eldest daughter of Queen Elizabeth Woodville.  If her mother was the White Queen, then by reason the younger Elizabeth would be the White Princess (incidentally, there is an April 2017 mini-series on the Starz cable channel titled the White Princess). 

As we know, Elizabeth of York would marry Henry Tudor and help found the Tudor dynasty.  In fact, the infamous Henry VIII was her son and the famous Queen Elizabeth was her granddaughter.

We have read biographies of one wicked person after another.  Therefore the description of Elizabeth of York as a decent, talented woman stands in pleasant contrast to all the darker personalities we have met.  Here is a brief excerpt from an article about Elizabeth by Alison Weir.

(Note: Alison Weir is Britain’s bestselling female historian, and the author of 20 books. She has written biographies of Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I and Henry VIII’s six wives.)

Elizabeth of York

She may not have sought the limelight as much as some of her contemporaries, but Elizabeth of York, mother of Henry VIII, was a Tudor of rare talent.

Elizabeth of York played an important role in the Wars of the Roses and the early Tudor story. Born in 1466, she was the eldest daughter of the Yorkist king Edward IV, sister of the princes in the Tower, and niece of Richard III, who had her and her siblings declared bastards so that he could claim the throne.

The probable murder of her brothers in the Tower of London in 1483 meant that, in the eyes of many, Elizabeth was the rightful queen of England. Richard III himself contemplated marrying her, but in 1485 Henry Tudor, who claimed to be the heir to the House of Lancaster and had sworn to marry Elizabeth, came from France with an army and defeated Richard at the battle of Bosworth. Thus was founded the Tudor dynasty. The marriage of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York was hugely popular, for the union of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster was seen as bringing peace after years of dynastic war.

Elizabeth was intelligent and beautiful. A Venetian report described her as “a very handsome woman of great ability, and in conduct very able,” beloved for her abundant “charity and humanity”. The humanist scholar Erasmus described her in one word: “brilliant”.

In 1613 Sir Francis Bacon asserted that Elizabeth was “beautiful, gentle and fruitful”.  As time passed, her husband Henry Tudor clearly grew to love, trust and respect Elizabeth, and they seem to have become emotionally close.  There survives good evidence that she loved him, and a moving account of how they comforted each other when their eldest son, Arthur, died.

Elizabeth performed her queenly role to perfection, understanding exactly what was required of her, and conforming seemingly effortlessly to the late medieval ideal of queenship, which constrained her to a role that was essentially decorous, symbolic and dynastic. She was beautiful, devout, fertile and kind – the traditional good queen.        
Alison Weir


There, isn't that sweet?  Finally, a positive opinion about one of our star players.

So I have a question.  Would your opinion of fair Elizabeth change in any way if I told you she engaged in voluntary incest with her uncle Richard III? 

The final episode of the White Queen mini-series had a naked Elizabeth clearly enjoying a consensual romantic tryst with Richard III.

Elizabeth Aida Feola reviewed Episode 10 of the White Queen series.  Ms. Feola had this to say about Elizabeth's dalliance with creepy Uncle Dick: 

The show capitalizes on a budding romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III, started before Richard's wife Anne has died.   Richard says that there is no actual love between them but we quickly see that this is not true, as Elizabeth tells Richard, “I’m in love with you,” and they start kissing.

He loses his temper and throws her out of court when Anne dies, because her presence has caused rumors to circulate that the king has murdered his wife to make way for his niece, which hurts his honor.


The origin of this story is from the reign of James I, based on a letter which is now long gone, so we do not know exactly what was said and how much of it was up to interpretation. Because we don’t know what it said, we are left to guess.

If the standard of evidence we require becomes none that say it’s not true, we can make any statement we wish and stir up doubt.

For example, I can say that when Richard III was a baby, his father dropped him and that’s what caused his spine to curve. It’s something I made up, but since you can’t say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it didn’t happen, it quickly becomes accepted as truth.

In five years, students coming into college courses will ask their professors about how Richard was dropped as a baby. Enough years go by, and it’s accepted as fact.

Let me be very clear here- this liaison is not based on any evidence we actually have. This relationship is supposed to be romantic, but it’s disturbing. The papal dispensations which were granted so that cousins can marry are twisted to include uncles and nieces, as if this could have been a viable option. It wasn’t. Since the pope did not always grant dispensations to cousins, and I can’t imagine any pope supporting the marriage of two so closely related.

This reaches its climax when Elizabeth of York sneaks out of her mother’s house to Richard’s tent, to have sex with him. She returns and her mother smiles at her, as if she were pleased that they were now lovers. I have only one reaction to this: EW. It’s disgusting. 

Oedipus has nothing on this story.


For the record, I am not a prude by any stretch of the imagination.  And yet I found myself feeling unbearably squeamish as I watched this lovely young woman screw her uncle's brains out.  No reticence, no mixed feelings, no guilt, no second-thoughts.

As I watched this beauty writhing in passion underneath the arms of her uncle, it crossed my mind that this man was accused of murdering the girl's two brothers.  It was this man who took her brother Edward's rightful place on the throne.  It was this man who had declared her a bastard child and had slandered the reputation of both her father and her mother.  Plus Richard was her uncle.  Based on her mother's famous fertility, Elizabeth was risking getting pregnant with this incestuous liaison.  This was very dangerous game she was playing. 

So did this tempestuous Mambo #5 really take place or did someone make this up? 

The vast majority of the web sites that choose to comment all cast strong doubt on the likelihood of this relationship taking place.  If you wish to have a detailed explanation of the doubt, I recommend an excellent article written by Olga Hughes. 

Here is a direct quote from Ms. Hughes' article:

To gratify an incestuous passion…  While we have seen several entirely imaginary depictions of romantic love between uncle and niece in fiction recently, the one thing we can almost positively rule out is sexual intercourse.

If you prefer a more succinct explanation of doubt, our friend historian John Ashdown-Hill listed this 'relationship' as the third myth in his article '6 myths about Richard III'. 

If I had to place a bet, I would put my money on Myth #3 before Mambo #5.




While it is true that good, decent folks are hard to find anywhere in the vicinity of the events in the White Queen, I would like to say I was deeply offended by the sex scene between Richard and Elizabeth.  If it had been Burton and Taylor, fine, I can accept adultery, but incest is a much more serious matter.  This scene crossed so many social taboos I don't even know where to begin. 

Elizabeth Aida Feola made this comment:

If the standard of evidence we require becomes none that say it’s not true, we can make any statement we wish and stir up doubt.

For example, I can say that when Richard III was a baby, his father dropped him and that’s what caused his spine to curve. It’s something I made up, but since you can’t say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it didn’t happen, it quickly becomes accepted as truth.

In five years, students coming into college courses will ask their professors about how Richard was dropped as a baby. Enough years go by, and it’s accepted as fact.

I happen to completely agree with Ms. Feola's comment.  In fact, I was so impressed with it that I made up a fib in her honor.

Earlier when I wrote about the scoliosis of Richard III, I added this statement: 

It turns out that Richard had adolescent onset scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.  In other words, the deformity wasn’t present at birth, but developed after the age of ten.  This lends strong support to the story that George, Richard's older brother, pushed him down a flight of steps during a fight between the two boys.  The resulting injury likely triggered the onset. 

There is no story about George and Richard having a fight. I made it up.  Nor is there any story about how Richard was dropped as a baby.  Elizabeth Feola made it up.  But both scenarios are not only quite believable, I imagine someone will read my statement and actually buy it... and quite possibly as years go by, it will be accepted as fact. 

I can just see it now.  Some high school kid writing about Richard III for his term paper will quote me...

"Richard Archer, in his ground-breaking Internet article 'Brexity and Brevity', stated that when Richard III was 10, he was pushed down a flight of stairs by George, his older brother.

Mr. Archer goes on to state that this injury caused the onset of adolescent scoliosis.   As we know, it was this scoliosis that caused Shakespeare to humiliate Richard for the ages with his so-called hunchback..."

I am absolutely serious - people read my stuff and believe it!  I even have proof.

This kind gentleman is referring to my History of the Panama Canal.   It is always nice to get compliments, but then a high school kid actually does read my stuff and the first thing they do is ask for my credentials!!   Too funny.


Emily is a smart girl.  She may be young, but she can already spot a BSer like me a mile away.  However, here is the problem... not everyone is as careful as this young lady who asked whether I was qualified to write my 'History of Germany' article.  I was actually proud of her for asking if I had credentials!  I wish more people were skeptical.  By the way, in case you are curious, no, I don't have any credentials.  What do you expect from a retired dance teacher?

So here is my question:  Did you catch it back when I fibbed about Richard's scoliosis accident?  I would be shocked if you did.

I hate to criticize my wonderful readers, but I seriously doubt any of you thought twice about it.  I know for a fact I would not have caught a throwaway comment like that.  It is very plausible that George was a bully.  It is also very plausible that someone dropped Richard as a baby.  Heck, one time I dropped my own daughter on her head when she a baby!  (She made it to graduate school, so I guess she's okay, but still...)

So let me get to the point - I believe very few people seriously question the things they read and see.  So when the White Queen showed Elizabeth having sex with her Uncle Richard, I imagine 4 in 5 people walked away assuming it was true.

Let me say this again:

I personally believe that many of the people who watched the sex scene between Elizabeth and her uncle left the show believing that incident really took place.  That offends me because I don't think it happened and I don't think those kind of lies have any business being portrayed as historical fact.

Please read the following Internet exchange.  It details a conversation where a person is just as confused about the Elizabeth-Richard relationship as I was.

As one can guess, this is an exchange between a person who is taking the time to actually check out allegations that trouble her with a more knowledgeable friend.  How many people do that?  Right now the majority of the human race is overwhelmed with so many Internet choices that we have all become numb.  Fact-finding is a huge chore.  For one thing, who are we supposed to believe?  It took me two hours... TWO HOURS... to read up on the story of incest between Richard and Elizabeth.  I am retired, so I have that kind of time.  But the majority of people do not have that kind of free time (or the inclination) to check things out.

It is one thing to make a goofy statement that Richard got dropped on his head as a boy, but it is another thing entirely to write a TV scene where millions up TV viewers watch the future Queen of England commit incest with her villainous uncle.

This upsets me because there are a lot of people out there who do not question a damn thing they read or see on TV. 

 Enough years go by, and it’s accepted as fact...

When writing about history, why can't people do their best to tell the truth? 

I believe making stuff up can cause irreparable damage.  You don't believe me? 

William Hutton (1723-1815) famous book "The Battle of Bosworth" was published in 1788.  Although this book was widely criticized at the time, over time Hutton’s work became the account upon which most theories were based. 


 Enough years go by, and it’s accepted as fact...

"except that it involved... Elizabeth of York, who as the Queen of Henry VII was an important figure in English history."

 We can make any statement we wish and stir up doubt.

Did you know that Donald Trump believed his celebrity status gave him the right to touch the private area of any woman he found desirable without asking permission?

Did you know the rumors about Barack Obama being a secret Muslim are true?

Did you know that Barack Obama was born in Zimbabwe, not Kenya as previously thought?

Did you know that Hilary Clinton worked her way through law school as a call girl?

Did you know that Bill Clinton secretly executed dozens of witnesses to his many affairs?

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin participated in French sex orgies?

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln had sex with a freed slave in the Oval Office?

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was secretly a vampire hunter?

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson fathered several children with a slave girl?

Did you know that Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had a homosexual relationship?

Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt was a lesbian?

Did you know that George Washington owned a plantation full of slaves?

Did you know that Frank Sinatra and John Kennedy had a three-way with Marilyn Monroe?

Did you know that at least one of these statements is actually true? 

For the record, I take no pleasure in repeating these rumors.  I have never met any of these people, so what gives me the right to say these things?  After all, I don't have the slightest idea as to the validity of these rumors.  But why should I feel guilty?  People pass ugly rumors like these on all the time and never think twice.

 We can make any statement we wish and stir up doubt.

As it stands, some people who write historical fiction think they can say anything they want with impunity.  I say that is wrong.

Although I believe that historical fiction has a duty to be factually accurate, there are many who disagree with me.  The Internet is filled with authors (who shall go nameless) who claim that historical novelists have the right to use "poetic license".

To some extent, I agree, especially where dialogue is concerned.  For example, I created dialogue at certain points in my article as an effective way to make a point.  In particular, I found this to be a useful technique when writing about the absurdity of Owen Tudor, the servant who bedded a Queen. 

But there has to be limits.  Just because it is 'legal' doesn't make it right or ethical.  I am good with 'speculation'.  However, I am not good when people assert things to be true... such as the incest between important historical figures.

By the way, 'Did you know that Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had a homosexual relationship?'... I made that rumor up just now.  I could just as easily discussed the time that Richard Nixon molested his nubile teenage daughter Julie in her White House bedroom.  I made that one up as well.

What is stopping me from writing historical fiction about Winston Churchill (a man I admire, incidentally) and using 'poetic license'?

Winston Churchill came aboard the American heavy cruiser USS Augusta where Roosevelt and his staff were waiting. On first meeting, Churchill and Roosevelt were silent for a moment until Churchill said 'At long last, Mr. President', to which Roosevelt replied 'Glad to have you aboard, Mr. Churchill'.

The two men hit it off immediately.  With so much to discuss, they retreated to wood-paneled library where they could speak in secrecy.  Talking late into the night, a rapport developed that involved two men burdened with saving the Western civilization from a monster. 

Perhaps it was the bourbon, perhaps it was the pressure, but at this point Roosevelt placed his hand over Churchill's. 'It is getting late, Prime Minister, let us retire to bed.' 

'Where do you wish for me to sleep, Mr. President?'

'Will my bed be acceptable, Winston?  That way we can continue our conversation much further into the night...'

'Yes, Franklin, I concur.  We have so much to talk about...'

Before some school kid quotes me on that paragraph, let me reassure everyone that I have no knowledge that any such event ever took place.  But let me also add it was really easy to write that paragraph.  Isn't 'poetic license' fun? 

I contend that my imaginary story about Churchill and FDR is NO DIFFERENT than the story about incest between Richard and Elizabeth. 

The only thing stopping me from writing historical fiction lies is integrity and discretion.  Without those qualities, in the hands of an unethical hack, 'Poetic license' becomes an excuse to slander an otherwise remarkable historical figures!

An intelligent writer should be able to have their cake and eat it too.  Lawyers have a term... 'admissibility'.  This term deals with the rules regarding admission of evidence.  The same should hold for historical fiction.

Take, for example, this issue regarding incest between Elizabeth and her uncle.  There is little proof that it took place.  Nevertheless, someone took it upon themselves to portray on screen that this forbidden hookup took place.  I can attest the shock and disgust has yet to wear off in my brain.  Now I am intelligent enough out to check it out and so are you... but there are many people who swallowed the scene hook, line, and sinker.

Whatever happened to taste?  A more delicate way to introduce this idea would be to have a debate.  Let two characters close to the situation argue and speculate as to what might be going on between Elizabeth and Richard.  This way they can raise the 'possibility' without necessarily condemning.  I think writers and portrayers of historical fiction have an obligation to inform their readers in some way or another when they decide to stretch things a little too far.  Try using some 'discretion'. 

There are some who say that 'gossip' is the most powerful force on earth after gravity and the atom.  Others say a lie makes it halfway around the world before truth can put it pants on.  I could tell half the people on earth that they are too gullible and they would believe me.  It all needs to stop.  There is too much false information in the world to begin with for unethical writers to spread even more.

In particular, as for Elizabeth of York, unless the writer and director had undeniable proof, whoever decided to slander the Queen of England should be ashamed of themselves.

I have a suggestion.  From now on, anyone convicted of spreading false historical fiction shall have their names slandered upon their passing.  That way, if there turns out to be an afterlife, they can see what it feels like having their own reputation smeared.

Poetic justice for poetic license.


What's Next for the Bosworth Battlefield?


Well, thank goodness there are some people with inquiring minds.  Thanks to the efforts of those who challenged the brainwashed thinking of the men who placed the battle site at Ambion Hill, they finally got it right.  I imagine the success of Dr. Foard in locating the correct battlefield at Fenn Lane Farm had a direct effect on Philippa Langley's decision to pursue her 'Looking for Richard' project.  The dual discoveries of the correct battlefield and the correct burial site make for one of the most remarkable stories I have ever come across.  So now the question is: What happens next?? 

England is behind the times in showing proper acknowledgment to its historic battlefields.  American battlefields are carefully preserved and properly displayed, yet England's great battlefields are hardly covered at allRoutine old cottages have statutory protection, where the places were the nation’s history was decided are good spots for new highways.

Britain is covered with such sites, yet they are largely ignored.  Although there is a promised government bill on this issue, it has not materialized.  There are only two other battle centres in England comparable to Bosworth:  Hastings (1066) and Shrewsbury (1403).

I found a curious anecdote regarding Leicestershire Council anxieties during the search.

One theory was that the battle might have been fought much farther away, even as far as Warwickshire.  Mr. White, councilor in charge of building the centre, was particularly relieved. “My leader said: ‘Whitey, if it turns out to be in Warwickshire, you’re sacked.’”

Now after four years of considerable uncertainty, with the discovery of Fenn Lane, they have resigned themselves to a rewrite of interpretative signboards and modification of their exhibits. Otherwise, they are putting a brave face on the situation. “You wouldn’t want a centre slap-bang in the middle of a battlefield,” said curator Richard Knox. “It would ruin the archaeology and the ambience of it.”


Before we continue, a long time ago I asked you to find Waldo and memorize a word.  Do you remember what that word was? 


As Dr. Glenn Foard kept edging further and further to the west, one can imagine the fear preying on the minds of the people who depend on the Bosworth Battlefield for a living.  There was an air of resignation in these people.  Back in 2009, it was a foregone conclusion that Ambion Hill was not the real battlefield.  Now the question was just how far away the correct battlefield would be. 

It was clear that Dr. Foard was going to find this battlefield eventually.  But every time Foard moved one farm further to the west, the increasing distance began to grate on the nerves of the Bosworth Battlefield dependents. 


Finally Dr. Foard struck pay dirt at Fenn Lane Farm.  Talk about lucky!

It wasn't exactly 'close' to Ambion Hill, but at least it was within viewing distance.  The Leicester County Council had dodged a huge bullet.  The news could have been so much worse.

There seem to be plans to keep the Visitor Center where it is and let people stroll to the new location of the battle.  In the long run, the weird publicity might even prove good for business.

The Leicestershire County Council is negotiating with landowners to gain full public access to the area

In fact, the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre told the BBC that the new site is "within walking distance" of the Bosworth Visitor Center. 

'Walking distance'? 

Were these people serious?  Did they really believe 'Walk' was the solution to their problem? 


I loved this quote:

Officials are planning to rewrite the interpretative signboards and modify part of the exhibition. Otherwise, they are putting a brave face on the situation.

“You wouldn’t want a centre slap-bang in the middle of a battlefield,” said curator Richard Knox. “It would ruin the archaeology and the ambience of it.”

Mr. Know was referring to 'interpretive signboards' such as this one.  This is a photograph taken of a sign that is part of the Bosworth Battlefield walkway.  As one can see, people are encouraged to walk for one hour around a one and a half mile trail to look at signs tell the story of the battle.

Mr. Knox is surely in a bad spot.  Can you imagine how utterly embarrassing it is to represent a battlefield that doesn't exist??   Once upon a time they wanted to be the next Stonehenge.  Now they just want to stay relevant.  Never before has such a weird challenge presented itself.

In a way, I feel for the Bosworth people such as Mr. Knox.  They have created all these wonderful explanation signs, but now they are faced with the fact that much of it is wrong. 

For example, there are pictures of Richard charging down the hill.  That is nonsense.  We now know the battle was fought on a plain.  There are pictures of Richard dying in a marsh at the foot of the hill.  Complete fiction.  There was no hill. 

Their elaborate 1.5 mile Walking Trail is obsolete.  It must seem very unfair, but harsh reality dictates that the History of the battle will have to be re-written.  However, that's the easy part.

The hard part is that the Walking Trail will need to move to the new site. 


If the Walking Trail moves to the new site, now we are looking at three walks... one walk to get from the old site to the new site, a long walk around the new site, and then another walk back to the old site.  That sounds like a lot of walking. 

Now Mr. Knox is correct about one thing... no one wants the Visitor Center in the middle of the battle field.

However, there is a concept known as 'Reasonable Distance'. 

Based on my experience, 'Reasonable Distance' is about 100 yards for American tourists who believe the length of a football field is God's idea of a healthy walk.  Their absolute upper limit is 300 yards.  Anything further than that is out of the question. 

So what makes me an authority??  Throughout my article, I have freely admitted I know little about English history.  However, if there is one thing I am an authority on, that is walking. 

My wife and I walk all the time on our cruise trips.  I love history and I have found the most fun way to learn history is to travel and visit other countries.  Unfortunately, not much is learned from a bus.  My wife Marla and I have learned it is much better to Walk.  That way we can take pictures, study maps, ask questions, and read whatever literature is available. 

Our cruise trip to England and the British Isles will be our 40th cruise trip.  After 40 cruise trips, I have learned that the average vacationer does not like to walk.  In fact, the less they walk, the happier they are. 


You might be curious what this picture represents. 

That is a picture of Cozumel, Mexico, the most successful tourist trap in the Western hemisphere.  The entire scheme is absolutely brilliant.  Every day 6 to 8 cruise ships dock at 3 different piers.

20,000-40,000 passengers have no choice but to enter a maze-like village of shops and bars.  Yes, there is an exit, but the only way to find it is to ask for help.  I have found that is when no one seems to remember how to speak comprehensible English.

Most people don't bother asking for help.  They wander around aimlessly assuming they will find the exit sooner or later.  For some reason, they can't seem to find a way out of the village. 

Pretty soon they get hot, thirsty and hungry.  They are getting really tired of looking for the way out.  They have wasted over an hour and now time is running out.  So they give up and buy a bunch of tee-shirts just to prove they visited Mexico.  Then they hit the nearest bar and get smashed on margaritas and chips. 

Drunk out of their minds, these people can still get back to their ship because their ship is bigger than most football stadiums.  A convenient horn blast tells the bartenders when to shove people out of the bar.  Fortunately, the tourists don't have far to go. 

The village is less than 300 yards from each cruise ship.   And you know what?  Every trip I take to Cozumel, someone has the nerve to complain the walk was way too far. 

300 yards is the absolute limit.  I kid you not.


The Distance from Ambion Hill to Fenn Lane Farm

So I imagine you are beginning to wonder what the walking distance might be from Ambion Hill to Fenn Lane Farm. 

Funny you should ask.

Through the magic of Google Earth, I measured the distance. 

Let's see how far it is. 



The answer is four miles. 

If the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre thinks the general public is willing to walk a four-mile round trip, they are out of their minds.   This is much too far for the elderly and this is much too far for children.  Even for young adults and middle-aged people, four miles is still much too far if they have their family with them.   

For that matter, what about time constraints?  An athletic pace gets this done in 45 minutes.  Normal people closer to an hour.  Round trip becomes 90 minutes to two hours.  Budget another hour to walk around the new Fenn Lane Farm Walking Trail.

How many vacationers have the luxury of investing two to three hours in a round trip hike from the incorrect battlefield to the correct battlefield, then back again??   My guess is they would whisper the unthinkable... 'Why not put the museum and the parking lot where it belongs at Fenn Lane Farm??'

Obviously the English are made of hardier stuff than your average Caribbean cruiser, but I daresay at the minimum they will back off from this walking strategy soon enough.

I predict the future Battle of Bosworth experience will come complete with shuttles or even a mini-train.  Make it a Disney ride and let people have some fun out of it.  How about a roller coaster.  Or a two-mile zip line? 

Or better yet, maybe they will ferry people back and forth on the Ashby Canal.  The cruise people would like that.


The Reputation of Richard III


On the Negative Side...

Rick Archer's Note:  I don't know much about English politics, but I gather that The Guardian likes to be controversial.  This magazine/newspaper had some pretty mean things to say about the Royalty... and Richard as well.    

Britain mourns a Monster
– Because he was a King.

Richard III’s burial was absurd!

Polly Toynbee
The Guardian


Surely it’s time to make King Richard pay his dues. We’re often told the royals are good for the country because they raise our international profile and encourage tourism – so we should be wringing every penny out of Richard III.  We’re missing a trick here. Several tricks in fact.  For starters, we’re not even burying him during tourist season.  After 500 years, surely he can wait another month or two.

Or better yet, why rebury him just once? Why not make it a regular event, like the changing of the guard?  If it is true the Royals improve tourism, then let's put Richard to good use.  Dig Richard up at the start of each month, hide the individual bones at random beauty spots around the countryside, and turn it into a giant treasure hunt for tourists.  Follow the clues on an accompanying app; see if you can locate his skull. Congratulations!  It was hidden in a bin behind Oblivion at Alton Towers. Now track down his elbow. Then his pelvis.  First to find six bones receives 20% off their B&B bill and a family-size jar of Marmite. 

Pinch yourself hard, very hard. This must be anti-royalist satire?  No, we’re wide awake as the nation mourns its most reviled monster of a king.  Depicted as a deformed hunchback, murderer of his own nephews, and a sinister, evil usurper, little has transpired over the past 500 years to make anyone change their mind.  Never was adulation of monarchy taken to such transcendently absurd heights.

It’s comical, but tragic too, as a reminder of the indignity the British accept in their accustomed role as subjects, not citizens. Here are church, royalty and army revering a child-killing, wife-slaughtering tyrant who would be on trial if he weren’t 500 years dead. This is the madness of monarchy, where these bones are honoured for their divine royalty, whether by accident of birth or by brutal seizure of the crown. Richard, whose death ended the tribal Wars of the Roses, is a good symbol of the “bloodline” fantasy. Who knows how many of our kings were even born legitimate?  Our island story is one of royal usurpage and regicide, with imported French, Dutch and German monarchs who didn’t speak a word of English.  

The puzzle is that this fantasy of anointed genes persists today.


On the Positive Side...

Rick Archer's Note:  William Rehnquist was once Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  They probably could not have found a more prestigious man to preside over the mock trial of Richard the Third.  (link)

A three-judge panel chaired by William Rehnquist found King Richard III not guilty of the murder of his nephews, the famous “Princes in the Tower.”

The Trial of Richard III” took place before an overflow crowd as part of the Rehnquist’s four-day visit to the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington.  The trial featured appellate-style briefs and arguments by students and graduates of the Law School.  The date was October 26, 1996.

Richard III was represented by John Walda, also a graduate of the Law School, a partner in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, law firm of Barrett & McNagny, and President of the Indiana University Board of Trustees.

The defense sought to cast doubt on the prosecution’s evidence and to show that others, such as Henry VII who killed Richard III on Bosworth field, had a better motive and opportunity to commit the crime. 

In addition, Walda noted that the case took place in the eyes of “500 years of pretrial publicity”. 

Relying on William Shakespeare’s plays as to any element of the state’s case is a little like relying on Oliver Stone’s movie to prove the Kennedy assassination. At least Stone was alive to witness the events!”       (John Walda)


Delivering his opinion at the conclusion of the mock trial, Chief Justice William Rehnquist found that there was too much “ambiguity as to when the murders took place” to convict Richard III. “There is a sufficient lapse of time even considering the evidence most favorable to the State as to put it beyond the time when Richard III was in control of things and into the time when Henry VII was in control of things,” the Chief Justice said.

The Chief Justice also found that the “contemporary accounts,” which tend to incriminate Richard III, “are not worth much in a trial of this sort . . . because they are not made with first hand knowledge; they are kind of rumor on rumor . . . .”


The three judge panel ruled Richard III not guilty in a split decision. Joining Judge Rehnquist in the not guilty verdict was moot court judge, law school professor, Susan Hoffman Williams.

The third judge, Indiana state Chief Justice Randall Shepard, dissented with a guilty verdict.

Shepard found that “as a matter of historical judgment,” many of the contemporary writers had “access to actual participants in the drama of the time.”

Chief Justice Shepard also noted that “the defense has had 500 years to find evidence, actual evidence, as opposed to speculation, that somebody other than Richard III was responsible for these deaths and by and large there isn’t any.” 

As a result, Chief Justice Shepard said,

“This leads me to the conclusion that Richard the Third is guilty of murder.

Guilty, guilty, guilty.”


On the Open-Minded Side...


Rick Archer's Note:  Josephine Tey was the pseudonym used by Elizabeth MacKintosh (1896–1952), a Scottish author best known for her mystery novels. 

Ms. Tey's hero is Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant, a sharp sleuth in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes.  Grant had his finest hour in The Daughter of Time, written in 1951.

The story begins with Grant laid up in hospital with an injured spine.  Bored out of his mind, Grant becomes intrigued with the mystery of the disappearance of the princes in the tower, supposedly murdered by their wicked Uncle, King Richard III.  Curious about the monstrous crouchback of Tudor myth and Shakespearean literature, Grant decides to solve the mystery.

Not once does he leave his bed.  Instead, Grant has his friends bring him reference books and contemporary documents so that he can puzzle out the clues.  Working deliberately, he determines whether King Richard III of England murdered his nephews, the Princes in the Tower.  Grant comes to the firm conclusion that King Richard was totally innocent of the death of the Princes.

The fight against injustice was a prominent theme in Josephine Tey's works.  Here in modern times, there is a sentiment that perhaps Richard got a bad rap.  What we do not know is where that sentiment came from.  Give Josephine Tey the credit. 

When Ms. Tey's book came out, it flew straight in the face of powerful public sentiment against Richard.  All by herself, Ms. Tey was able to reverse five centuries of unanimous public censure.

After her book appeared, not everyone agreed with her... but they thought about it!   The greatest testimony to the brilliance of this work is that for the very first time many eyes were now open to the possibility that Richard might actually be innocent.

In 1990, Daughter of Time was selected by the British Crime Writers' Association as the greatest mystery novel of all time.  It stands at #4 by the Mystery Writers of America. 

It was a remarkable novel because it made an entire country re-examine its previous attitude.  It is said that the publication of this mind-bending book led to the formation of The Richard III Society.  Thanks in large part to The Daughter of Time, much scholarly debate has been done since in an effort to present a more balanced account of Richard, the last Plantaganet king. 

I would like to add that without this book, questions about the battlefield location and Richard's burial site would probably never have been asked. 


The Final Word

Rick Archer's Note: 

We have come to the end of our saga.  What a long strange trip it has been. 

At the outset, I promised Brevity, but I failed miserably.  Oh well, let's face it, I got hooked.   

According to that map, there were 15 major battles fought during the 32 year Wars of the Roses (1455-1487).  Of those 15 battles, I wrote an account of 8.  Looking on the bright side, I could have written about all 15 of the Battles.  So I guess I did show some restraint. 

During my research, I found a soul mate.  Her name is Jo Walton.  Ms. Walton is an award-winning science fiction writer who is also Josephine Tey's biggest fan. 

Here is what Ms. Walton said about The Daughter of Time

This is a book about research.  It’s the story of chasing Richard through secondary sources and primary sources and putting together the clues to discover who really killed the Princes in the Tower.  Grant doesn’t get out of bed; a subordinate, a friend, the nurses and a research assistant bring him books and information.

He starts from a portrait of Richard and works outwards from there. It’s either a very faithful example of how writers do research or I learned how to do research from reading this (I genuinely wouldn’t care to guess which.)

The book isn’t perfect. There’s far too much of Grant’s uncanny ability to read character from faces - which one could argue makes it fantasy. There’s also far too much of the Velikovskyan style of argument that goes “The facts are A. Somebody did B. How could anybody possibly do B when faced with A? We must therefore have the facts wrong.”

I find no difficulty imagining people who do B. Maybe I just have a wider imagination, or maybe I get out more.

I have not independently investigated the argument that Richard didn’t kill the Princes in the Tower. It’s not my period of history. I’ve heard people argue that Tey is cheating and leaving things out. I honestly couldn’t say.

I find Tey’s Richard and Shakespeare’s Richard to be interesting fictional characters, and the same goes for John M. Ford’s Richard, who did kill the princes in the tower but only because they were vampires… and I think the relationship of all three of these constructs to the bones they dug up in Leicester is symbolic rather than actual.

But you cannot help thinking about it when you read The Daughter of Time because the real subject of this book is how a lot of received history is sheer bunk. 

At the very least, it causes the reader to interrogate history instead of accepting it!



"At the very least, it causes the reader to interrogate history instead of accepting it..."  (Jo Walton)


Sometimes other people say things that I wish I had said. 

Jo Walton's comment is at the top of my list.

Elizabeth Aida Feola's comment is up there too:

"We can make any statement we wish and stir up doubt.  In five years, students coming into college courses will ask their professors about how Richard was dropped as a baby. Enough years go by, and it’s accepted as fact."


John Walda, the man who represented Richard III in the mock trial presided over by Judge Rehnquist, also made a comment that I wish I had said. 

Mr. Walda noted that the mock trial took place in the eyes of “500 years of pretrial publicity”.

Relying on William Shakespeare’s plays as to any element of the state’s case is a little like relying on Oliver Stone’s movie to prove the Kennedy assassination.  At least Oliver Stone was alive to witness the events!

For my younger readers, Mr. Walda is referring to JFK, one of the most controversial movies of all time.  John F. Kennedy's assassination remains the great unsolved American mystery.

The anger came because Oliver Stone did a masterful job of selling a rather implausible explanation.  Mr. Stone was taken to task for twisting the facts. 

I do not know what was the truth, but I will admit to feeling goosebumps while I watched the conclusion.


At the time of its release, the JFK movie opened up a bitter fight, probably just as heated as the argument over Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time when it was released back in 1951.  If we stop and think about it, the controversy surrounding the murder of John Kennedy is similar in many ways to the controversy surrounding the murder of the Princes in the Tower. 

People accused Oliver Stone of manipulating the facts, which is why lawyer John Walda compared the JFK movie to Shakespeare's Richard III in the first place.  Both works of art were accused of spreading false information and distorting the truth.

I am ready to say the same thing about White Queen.  I resent this series for distorting the truth.

Recently I took Marla, my wife, out to dinner.  She smiled and asked me to tell me a little bit about what I had writing lately. 

I replied that I had been writing about the War of the Roses.

Marla: "You mean that TV show we watched last year with that awful woman the Red Queen?"

I grinned.  "Yeah, that's it, Margaret Beaufort."

As a bit of background, Marla could not stand the Margaret Beaufort character.  During the ten-week series, Margaret was convinced it was God's Will for her son Henry to become king. Strident, whining, holier-than-thou, anytime Margaret wanted something, she would fall to her knees and pray, then beg God to show her a sign.  Instantly the sun would come out from behind a cloud and Margaret would go nuts.  She would throw herself to the ground and begin crying with ecstasy.  "Oh, thank you, God, thank you!  Thank you for answering my prayers!"

Marla absolutely could not stand the woman.  She hissed every time Margaret appeared.  Nor did I blame her.  Amanda Hale's performance as the Red Queen was wildly over the top. 

That said, I have a secret to share (psst... don't tell Marla!).  Personally, I enjoyed watching Amanda Hale.  What an amazing actress!  I didn't like her character in the White Queen series, but I appreciated the job Ms. Hale did.


Marla: "Wasn't Margaret Beaufort the one who murdered the Princes in the Tower?"

Rick: "Yes, but after the research I have done, it seems unlikely that Margaret was behind the disappearance of the two boys."

Marla: "You're kidding?  I remember Margaret's husband strongly suggesting those two boys be eliminated.  If so, her own son Henry would have two less people in front of him in line for the crown."

Rick: "I know, that's what the show led us to believe.  I was just as surprised as you were when I learned differently.  But some priest had the two boys declared illegitimate.  That's how Richard was able to made king without much of a fuss.  If the boys were illegitimate for Richard, then they would be illegitimate for Henry as well.  The TV show got it all wrong.  Margaret did not murder those boys."

Marla: "I watched that entire show convinced that pious Margaret was not only a murderer, but the biggest hypocrite to ever walk the planet. Why would the White Queen lie about the facts so boldly?"

Rick: "There are reviewers who claim the White Queen is methadone for Game of Thrones junkies.  It doesn't actually get you high, but it keeps you watching the tube while you're waiting for the new season. 

         Making up whoppers is good for ratings.  My guess is the TV writers don't believe White Queen is sensational enough.  They decided it would improve the script to make Margaret the murderer.  That way they could let Elizabeth, the White Queen, create an epic storm to retaliate against Margaret by ruining Henry's rebellion.  Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?  Hollywood has been doing this for a long time, but Shakespeare did it first."

Marla: "Why not just tell the truth?  The story was compelling enough without having to resort to fiction."

Rick: "I could not agree more.  I do not think it is ethical to destroy Margaret Beaufort's reputation just make the TV show more compelling, but that small point doesn't seem to stop people."



And now it is time for Rick's Soapbox. 

There are a dozen different news sources on TV that slant each story in the direction they believe their target audience wishes to receive the news.  Flip the channel and you will receive a totally different interpretation of each news story.  But why bother flipping the channel? If a person sticks to one news source, they can spend the rest of their lives being fed a biased, one-sided reality that will never deviate from their preferred political mindset. 

If there is one thing I learned in researching the story of Richard III, it is that people lie.  There are some people... media, script writers, bloggers, historical fiction writers, you name it... who lie or twist the facts all the time if they think it will be to their benefit. 

Personally, I have no idea whether Richard III was innocent or not.  But I do know he was the victim of the worst smear campaign in history.  I have no whether Elizabeth slept with her uncle or not.  But I can't help feeling like she was unnecessarily smeared.

I contend that just because we have the power to pass on dubious rumors does not make it right.  Is Reality really that boring?  Personally, I think the War of the Roses is the craziest story I have ever come across and yet people feel the need to embellish it with incest.  Why don't we stop writing historical fiction and try writing historical truth instead?

As my final word, today we are immersed in times dominated by Fake News and Alternative Facts.  Facebook has become riddled with falsehoods.  People can say anything they want on Twitter with complete impunity... and people will believe it because they want to.  The same goes for the Internet. 


The effortlessly-transmitted disease of gullibility is pandemic.  The only cure known to man is a built-in bullshit detector.  Buy one on Amazon.  However, if you can't afford one, try developing a home-made version instead.  It is called 'skepticism'. 

 If you read or hear something that doesn't feel right, be sure to check it out first before passing it on.  Nothing irritates me more than people who preach their own reality without bothering to question the source or the sense of it. 

In the words of Jo Walton... do not simply accept what you read or hear, interrogate it! 

Question everything.  Otherwise one day you will discover you have been wandering around with blinders on. 

As for me, the next thing I am going to do is order a copy of The Daughter of Time for my Kindle.  I absolutely cannot wait!!

Thank you for reading,

Rick Archer
February 2017




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