X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Coffee House

Richard III should be buried in the north

13 September 2012

10:43 AM

13 September 2012

10:43 AM

History is written by the victors. So Richard III might have anticipated that his death at Bosworth Field in 1485, the last English monarch to be killed on the battlefield, would only be the start of a downward reputational spiral. The last five hundred years have not been good for the man whose remains may just have been found under a Leicester car-park yesterday.

Shakespeare did much of the damage, forever fixing our image of this hunched Machiavellian schemer and his ignominious downfall – ‘my Kingdom for a horse’ – though the Bard was popularising an existing Tudor narrative. Sir Thomas More, seven when Richard died, deserves at least equal credit since his polemical history of Richard, written three decades later, is the main source for much of the legend of the Princes in the Tower, and the allegation that Richard murdered them.

So this unlucky King’s posthumous enemies have been our most beloved writer and, in More, a martyr who was later canonised! Now given one final chapter in the Richard story, it seems unlikely that the defenders of the Plantaganet King could turn this long reputational winter of discontent into glorious summer once again, but they may well get to contest the argument.

It is a brilliant archeological story. The University of Leicester team are clear that they can not claim victory. The details are tantalising: the skull cleaved by a bladed implement; and the spinal curvature, which ‘would have made his right shoulder appear visibly higher than the left shoulder’. What a shame it would be if DNA verification to quash the theory, with Richard’s identification depending on a match with his 17th-generation descendant, 55-year-old Michael Ibsen, a Canadian-born furniture-maker based in London.

[Alt-Text]


If this is Richard, what happens next? It was suggested at the press conference that he would be buried in Leicester Cathedral, but others now suggest a full state occasion in London and his burial in Westminster Abbey.

By all means, let there be a state funeral for Richard, but it should be a state funeral in the north.

The last Plantagenet King should lie in state and be buried in York minster. What better way could there be to relearn the history of England, and to realise too that it has not always a London-centred story?

Whatever Richard’s deeds or misdeeds, one final symbolic moment of reconciliation would enable us all to find out what the Wars of the Roses were about, and how much they shaped England, before the white and red rose became primarily, today, the symbol of a fiercely benign county cricketing rivalry between Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Every schoolchild once knew that Richard of York gave battle in vain. It is now to York that he should finally return, rest and remain.

Sunder Katwala is director of British Future.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close