A home, a home ….a judgement for my home

Posted: August 18, 2013 in Community, Economics, Education, England, Government, History, Law, Money, Society, Uncategorized

The last Plantagenet king, Richard III is in the news again due to a a high court judge giving permission for his descendants to challenge plans to rebury the king’s remains in Leicester.

The Plantagenet Alliance, which claims 15 descendants of relatives of the king as members, want his remains to be buried in York, which, it claims, he regarded as his home.

So, on Friday (16th August 2013), Mr Justice Haddon-Cave gave the go-ahead for the alliance to bring judicial review proceedings against the justice secretary and the University of Leicester, which excavated the car park under licence from the Ministry of Justice.

In a nutshell, the judge ruled the decision taken prior to the excavation licence is open to challenge quite simply because it could be argued they didn’t comply to their full legal remit … in other words they didn’t ask the family of the deceased.

I find it quite astounding that what we can assume are fairly intelligent people … well, at least the University of Leicester must have some …. didn’t take a step back for a moment and think “hey! are there any living relatives to this guy? If so, shouldn’t we consult with them as well?”

Apart from Edward V who it’s considered likely to have been murdered in the Tower of London and secretly buried there, the smattering of my knowledge of English monarchs concludes most of them were buried in places where they either chose or would have been happy to be interned.

Looking down a list burial sites of English monarchs there are a collection of cathedrals, abbey’s, castles or designated royal burial grounds, for example…

Alfred the Great – Old Minster, Winchester

Edward the Confessor – Westminster Abbey

Richard 1st – Fontevraud Abbey, Anjou, France (with heart buried in Rouen)

Queen Victoria – Royal burial ground, Frogmore, Windsor

These places were either close to their hearts … in Richard 1st case literally … or were completely appropriate … Edward the Confessor’s major building project of his reign was indeed Westminster Abbey. At least a vast majority of the others it could be reasonably argued the same applies.

Now, if you’ve got this far you might be asking…”so?”

Well, the point is this is our historical heritage we’re talking about, allied to living descendants of the deceased. Both deserve consideration with the caveat of what should be regarded as ‘doing right’ by Richard III.

I say ‘doing right’ because we as a nation are custodians of our heritage and history. People who would be asked about their impression of Richard III, on the pretext they know what you’re talking about, will reply “humped back, murdered Princes, evil” Well!, definitely one …and possibly two… out of three isn’t bad in that he did have a bad curvature of the spine and had good reason to get rid of the two young Princes’

We have a legacy of ‘knowledge’ from the Tudors who took over and basically did a character assassination on Richard because quite frankly Henry VII had less of a claim to the throne than the curved spine incumbent he despatched at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. This came from propaganda which William Shakespeare ‘confirmed’ later by writing his play, and he wasn’t going to be stupid and upset Queen Elizabeth, grand-daughter of Henry VII.

His appearance and likely involvement in the death of the two young Princes’ helped to portray Richard as an evil king. This by the standard of today could be regarded as ‘evil’. However, by the standards of the time killing the nearest rival claimants or focal point for opposition was the way to go about securing your throne. If you get out of your head the assumption close relatives such as nephews were cherished at that level of hierarchy during that time you can begin to understand the reasoning, however terrible it seems to us today.

There is also another aspect to challenge the Tudor tag of ‘evil’. During his time as supporting his brother Edward IV he attained several titles and land stretching from Wales and Gloucester in the west, Richmond in the north and lands in East Anglia to the east. His primary title could be considered as Duke of Gloucester, and by all accounts he was considered a fair Duke within the context of the time. He controlled all his estates with reason and wasn’t prone to excess of gratuitous subjugation or cruelty. Overall he did what was necessary at the time depending on the circumstances.

In 1462, he was made Constable of Gloucester and appointed Governor of the North, becoming the richest and most powerful noble in England. From all the titles and lands he had his closest connection was in the north though. His father was the Duke of York and he certainly preferred that part of the country given the choice.

This is the crux of the judgement awarded to the descendants of Richard III who will challenge that he should be buried in York. Historical records point to Yorkshire being the one area he controlled as closest to his heart. Also, there is the evidence of the close family connection to this part of the country, which surely should account for something.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave also tellingly recognised the prestige and financial benefit to the location where Richard III is finally interned. It’s extremely important for an important historical discovery such as the remains of the last Plantagenet king to be concluded in an historically accurate way. It seems evidently reasonable to say that the conclusion should be the internment of his remains in the place he is most closely associated with, both historically and in family tradition, plus a location in that area befitting a former king of England…. which is York.

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