The fight over the body of King Richard III

Richard III

Supporters adamant he didn’t murder his nephews

During my recent visit to York, I was asked to support a campaign to bring the body of king Richard III back to the city for burial in York Minster.

You may recall that Richard was the reputed hunchback who is also often accused of having murdered his young nephews in the Tower of London. He came to a violent end at the Battle of Bosworth when the future king Henry VII, first of the  Tudors, hacked Richard to bits.

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The location of his body was a mystery until his skeleton was recently found under a car park in Leicester. And so began an unseemly tussle over whether to bury him in Leicester or York. Given that York was his power base, as a king of the Yorkist dynasty, I get why this northern English city feels it should have him back.

You’d think he wasn’t a particularly lovable king but he has his supporters (referred to as “Ricardians”) who believe he’s been badly wronged and given an unfair image by Shakespeare and his Tudor enemies.  So – there is a petition to the United Kingdom government to bring him back to York and give him a full royal funeral.

UPDATE: Since writing this blog post in 2013, the remains of King Richard III were given a high profile burial but not in York Minster – instead in Leicester cathedral close to where his body had been found under a car park. A film of the burial below.

4 Comments on “The fight over the body of King Richard III

  1. The problem is: York wasn’t Richard III’s home. He was born in Northamptonshire and lived in many places during his life – but never lived in York.

    Also, the idea that York remained “stubbornly loyal” to Richard after his death is rather belied by the York City Rolls which record that, just two days after Bosworth, while Richard was laid out on a slab in a Leicester church, the York city leaders were enquiring how they should act under the new Tudor regime for the “welfare and profit” of their city.

    Fortunately, Richard was never forgotten in Leicester, the city which cheered him on his way to Bosworth. mourned him on his return, gave his a Christian burial in the holiest part of one of its churches and is full of memorials to him.

    Good archaeological practice, good religious practice and frankly good taste require his remains to be re-interred with honour and dignity in the nearest consecrated ground to his original grave, and not grasped at for financial gain and petty victory, which was the basis of that petition, a petition which received over 3,000 fewer signatures than a petition to keep Richard in the parish where he was commended into God’s care 528 years ago.

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