Posts Tagged ‘Media’


Richard III: The New Evidence – on Youtube

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News, Research

film_reel smWe reported earlier that Channel 4 would be screening a third documentary on Richard III. It was broadcast in the UK in the evening of 17 August 2014, at the end of the Bosworth Anniversary weekend, leaving us, who do not live in the UK, impatient to get a chance to watch the programme, too. A friend of mine discovered that it has been uploaded to Youtube, where it is available to all of us.

The programme is based on the new scientific research into Richard’s diet, but the main attraction is a young man, Dominic Smee. He is a perfect body double of Richard, slightly built and having the same curvature of the spine. He was taught to fight, on foot and on horseback, like a medieval warrior and had a full set of armour made especially for him. Not only did Dominic show that someone suffering from scoliosis can be an accomplished fighter, but he could also tell us about his own experience. It was interesting to hear that he found riding on a medieval saddle easier than on a modern one and that the armour gave his body support.

By bringing us these facts, it is easier to visualise a long dead king as the real living breathing person he once was. A fascinating programme. What better way to spend a rainy day?!

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   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News, Richard III in the Media

Thank you to Judy, who found the article, which sparked this post.

May we suggest to “Telegraph reporters” to do their homework and spend a bit more time proof reading?  In a recent article in the (UK) Telegraph about the find of a boar badge found in October on the Thames foreshore, their reporters inform us that these “badges in the form of the animal were ordered for the king’s cremation in 1485”.  Eh, what?!

King Richard III was not cremated as the recent find of his skeleton proofs beyond doubt.  Even the present reporter goes on to mention this in his article.  Nor is it likely that Henry Tudor, who had just assumed the crown by invading England and fighting Richard at the Battle of Bosworth, where Richard was killed, would order badges of his opponent’s emblem to celebrate his cremation.

So we suspect the reporter meant to say “coronation”.  And that’s where the homework comes in.  As any reference work, even Wikipedia (generally not the most reliable source), could have told them, Richard was crowned on 6 July 1483.  He was killed two years later at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485.

This is an article which deals with a topic of special interest for me and it was easy to spot the mistakes.  However, it makes you wonder how much more misinformation we are fed by our media, either by negligence, as in this case, or on purpose.  Unless we happen to know better, we would take this misinformation as fact.  Quite a scary scenario!

You can find the article here.  It does contain a very good photograph of the boar badge.

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   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News, Richard III in the Media

My Google alert found for me an article in the Daily Mail, quoting the views of Mr Shakespeare’s plays from his “contemporaries”.  They also voice their opinion on Richard III.  Thank you, R.B. from Warwick, for putting the record straight!  Though I can also understand Mary P. from Worcestershire.

These opinions from “Ye Internette” are quoted in an article by Craig Brown,a British satirist.  According to his Wikipedia entry he “characteristically [combines] viciousness and honesty”, but don’t fear, he seems to have a good opinion of Richard III.

So if you need something a bit lighter on this grey winter day (at least here in Sydney), read all the opinions here.

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   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News, Research

Some of you may have seen a – rather disappointing – article in The (British) Telegraph recently about research into Richard’s teeth.

The author, Richard Gray, starts with the fanciful description that Richard was killed by blows which were so heavy that they  “drove the king’s crown into his head”.  However, Bob Woosnam-Savage explained at the conference in Leicester that Richard could only have suffered the injuries that killed him after his helmet had been removed and also explained by what kind of weapon.

Mr Gray then states that Richard suffered from bruxism or teeth grinding.  For him, this confirms Shakespeare’s portrayal of Richard as “anxious and fearful” and that the reason might be that “he was wracked with guilt over the fate of the Princes in the Tower, who he is accused of murdering to assume the throne”.

Richard Gray based his article on research by Dr Amit Rai, a London dentist, which was published in the British Dental Journal.  It is hardly surprising that Shakespearean flights of fancy are lacking in the original article.

Dr Rai starts with some general information on dentistry in the middle ages.  Dental treatment would have been carried out by skilled barbers or surgeons, though monks were the dentists of the time, but they were not allowed to shed blood.

A professor of medicine and surgery at Bologna earlier in the 15th century, Giovanni de Arcoli, published guidelines of how to look after your teeth, some of which are still familiar to us, for instance that you should clean your teeth after eating, should avoid sweets or not break hard things with your teeth.  To clean your teeth you should use a thin piece of wood “somewhat broad at the ends, but not sharp-pointed or edged”.  Brushes with bristles were only introduced to Europe from China after Richard’s lifetime.

Then Dr Rai looks in more details at Richard’s teeth.  He does find indeed tooth surface loss, which might be the result of stress related bruxism, but thinks it is more likely that it was caused by dietary abrasions and erosion.  He explains that this erosion is not severe, which indicates a more affluent member of medieval society, who would have eaten food made from more finely milled flour.  This is also confirmed by the findings that the individual had eaten a diet rich in seafood – again something that would be expected of someone of a higher social status.

Three teeth were missing, which Dr Rai attributes to caries.  There are signs that the gaps where these teeth would have been have closed, indicating that they had been removed by a barber or surgeon earlier in Richard’s life.  For Mr Gray this was the result of a diet “rich in carbohydrates and sugar”.  Dr Rai, who had just explained that the teeth indicate a protein-rich diet, only mentions that caries would have been more likely in more affluent persons.

Some teeth show mineralised deposits, which probably are a build up of tartar.  As there is less of this on certain teeth than on others, it might indicate that Richard followed Giovanni de Arcoli’s guidelines on cleaning teeth, with a piece of wood, not a brush.

The left central incisor was also missing, which Dr Rai thinks could have been knocked out when Richard was killed “by some of the most advanced military weapons of the time” – not his own crown.

On the whole, Richard’s teeth give us a good idea of the dental hygiene people in those time would have used.

The difference between the information published in a daily paper, with its sensationalist interpretations, and that in a peer reviewed scientific journal is striking.  There is little doubt, which article is more reliable.


Rai, A., ‘Richard III – the final act’, British Dental Journal, Vol.214, No.8 (27 April 2013), pp.415-417

Gray, Richard, ‘King Richard III’s teeth and jaw reveal monarch’s anxious life and violent death’, The Telegraph (1 May 2013).  Date accessed:  2 May 2013

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   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in News, NSW Branch News, Richard III in the Media

The (Australian) Sunday Telegraph of 10 February 2013 featured an article by Claire Harvey ‘Time to Tell the Truth’, which favoured – to put it politely – a rather traditionalist view of Richard III.  Several of our members as well as friends felt called upon to point out Ms Harvey’s misconceptions.   Two of the letters were printed, though in an abridged format.  We are pleased to make all letters available to you in full.

The first two were published in subsequent editions of the Sunday Telegraph.

While members of the Richard III Society worldwide appreciate that everyone has a right to their own opinion, the New South Wales Branch was disturbed by Claire Harvey’s comments that presented no reference to reliable sources to back up her arguments. The Society originated in 1924 for the following reason: “In the belief that many features of the traditional accounts of the character and career of Richard III are neither supported by sufficient evidence nor reasonably tenable, the Society aims to promote in every possible way research into the life and times of Richard III and to secure a reassessment of the material relating to this period and the role in English history of this monarch.”

The recent archaeological dig in Leicester has helped us in this task by revealing truths (such as he had scoliosis not a hunched back) about Richard that cancel much of the work of Henry Tudor and his spin doctors did to destroy Richard’s character and achievements. The Society’s work will still go on because its members are certainly zealous but not the nerds as described by Ms Harvey.

What happened to the two young princes will probably always be a mystery. There are several options for their disappearance, and they may indeed have been murdered, but there are other prime suspects including the Tudor family. Accessing the Society’s websites and others will provide further information and  suggest reliable sources.

Julia Redlich, Secretary, Richard III Society, NSW Branch

I was interested to read the provocative item by Claire Harvey regarding the recent confirmation of King Richard III’s remains by the University of Leicester. Ms Harvey’s stance is the stock version we all learned at school, and she would have done well to have read some of the more current, measured examinations of the historical facts.

Briefly: after the death of King Edward IV, a retired bishop came forth to admit that he had secretly betrothed Edward to another lady before his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, therefore, under the laws of that day, rendering that marriage null and void and their children illegitimate. The lady had spent her life closeted away in a convent, and the bishop had remained silent, and in fear of his life, until the King’s death. But as the throne could only be held by one in the legitimate line those children were now a moot point, as they could not by law succeed their father. In other words, the princes were not Richard’s rivals, having been disqualified from the line of succession.
Many scholars believe that the person who would most benefit by the murder of the sons was the Lancaster line, in the person of Henry Tudor. There is no proof that the boys were not still living in the Tower at the time their uncle was overthrown on Bosworth Field, and it would clearly have been in Henry’s interests to get rid of them forthwith.

The further details of the story are far too complex to retell here, but what is true is that it is unfair to judge a man by the writings of his enemy. Richard would never have had a fair hearing during the Tudor dynasty, under whose patronage Shakespeare was writing.

Not all Ricardians are ‘zealots’ or ‘in love with their man’; some of us just want a fair hearing for a man who otherwise had lived an exemplary life and ruled well for his few years. During which time, by the way, the princes’ mother was on good terms with Richard; would that have been the case had she suspected him of murder?

What is needed here is temperance, objectivity and humility before we leap to easy judgement of others, even if they lived 500 years ago. We would request from the editor the publishing of a more nuanced and dispassionate treatment rather than the perpetuation of the default Tudor condemnation of Richard.

That said, we gladly support Ms Harvey’s request that the Tower remains be analysed as carefully as were Richard’s, as the outcome is of utmost historical interest. However, if it is revealed that they were indeed the princes, it would still not reveal who ordered the deed done. And finally, in the English legal system, both Richard III and Henry VII are innocent of the princes’ demise until proven guilty.

Leslie McCawley

Three not used, from Helen Portus, Kevin Herbert (both active members of the NSW Branch) and David Green, a long-standing friend of the Richard III Society.

Dear Editor


After all the well-balanced and well-researched articles this week about Richard III in all our major papers, both in Australia and worldwide, out of left field comes an article such as published by Claire Harvey!

Such ignorance! How fascinating!  Whilst Ms Harvey is obviously entitled to her opinions, does the Telegraph not usually prefer their writers to speak the truth?

Statements like:  “Richard III was a killer … a villain”.  Any evidence Ms Harvey??

Helen Portus

I read with unfettered astonishment the article: “Time To Dig Up The Truth” by Clare Harvey.

She is obviously unaware of the various contemporary sources available, none of which, as far as I recollect, actually state unequivocally that:

i ) the princes were murdered;

ii ) that their uncle was definitely responsible, if they were murdered;

iii ) that the bones discovered in 1674 were actually the bones of two lads of the correct age – (apart from the botched examination carried out earlier last century).

Some bones were actually found to be those of Barbary Apes from the Royal Menagerie, established by Henry III;

iv) that even should the bones in question be proven to be that of the unfortunate princes, and it be proven that they were murdered , no D.N.A. testing will indicate who was responsible for their deaths.

I can never understand why it is assumed by some that Richard needed the death of the princes.

They were no threat to him, nor their sisters, since they had all been declared illegitimate by decree of parliament – as specified in the Titulus Regius – a document which Henry VII attempted to destroy completely unread. Unfortunately for him and his supporters not all copies were destroyed.

Henry it was who needed the boys out of the way, since he re-legitimised the children of Edward IV so that his wife’s legitimacy might prop up his own rather dubious claim to the throne.

If his wife were legitimate, so too were all her siblings, including her two surviving brothers if living  whose claims at that time were superior to hers.

Through his mother , Margaret Beaufort, he was illegitimately descended from John of Gaunt (3rd surviving son of Edward III) and his mistress, Katherine Swynford; through his father, Edmund Tudor, he was probably illegitimately descended from the liasion (no proof of marriage has ever been found) between Katherine de Valois (the widow of Henry V and mother of Henry VI ) and Owen Tudor, her Welsh clerk of the wardrobe.

Perhaps the bones which should be re-examined by a similar DNA process are that of the so called Perkin Warbeck and the lad, who raised his standard in Dublin in 1486 and possibly fell at Stoke on Trent (all the dead would need to be examined) to be replaced by Lambert Simnel after the Battle of Stoke on Trent in June 1487 – for I strongly believe that the main two so called Pretenders were who they claimed they were – and not who Henry VII  and his minions claimed they claimed to be.

If Henry wanted to disprove the claims of both Pretenders why didn’t he ever allow his wife and sisters-in-law to examine Perkin Warbeck?  Surely a simple foolproof way of establishing his being an imposter. But he was never called an imposter, as far as I can recall. He was always styled a pretender.

A pretender is one who raises a valid claim to the throne – thus Bonnie Prince Charlie, James Edward, the Old Pretender etc.

I think Clare Harvey would be well advised to check her sources.

Kevin Herbert

I find Claire Harvey’s article on Richard III interesting. Not only for its obfuscation and inaccuracies but also that, despite the many books written on his life and times since the 17th century, such a piece could still be written.

15th century society was separated by class, each section knowing where it stood with its own aims and customs.   Without firm control the magnates across the country tended to rule their own counties or territories not always for the good of the inhabitants.  Family ties were of great importance and sometimes transcended oaths of loyalty to the Crown.  The so-called Wars of the Roses was a result of divisions that had its roots in the reign of Edward III (1312-1377).  A hundred years later Edward IV, a strong king, ruled England with his younger brother Richard governing the North. Edward was a woman-chaser who was troth-plighted (equivalent in customary law to marriage without consummation) to a lady named Eleanor Butler at the time of his secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville.     His two sons were therefore illegitimate and the account of Edward’s affairs were made known after his death.  All this was published in an Act of Parliament, subsequently suppressed by Henry VII, but an original copy turned up in the Tower records much later.    The Tower of London was a royal palace as well as fortress and the obvious place to house the Princes at the time.

So much for motive.

The fate of the boys has been much debated, whether the bones  which are sealed will ever be examined remains to be seen. Josephine Tey quoted the old proverb, “Truth is the daughter of time”.  Richard’s silence in the face of rumours has perplexed historians, it has been a matter of probabilities discussed in many books and considered in the Trial Of Richard III (1984) which was properly constituted with judge Lord Elwyn Jones and Queen’s Counsel for both Defence and Prosecution appearing. The verdict was ‘Not Guilty’, one factor being the reconciliation between the boys’ mother and the King and another the lack of interest in the matter by his successor Henry VII.

The deaths of certain noblemen, condemned by Richard III were the result of betrayals by the breaking of oaths of loyalty, or direct revolt, which were a  capital offence, a matter not understood today.  He was a good, which means successful, soldier and his parliament enacted several statutes to the benefit of his subjects in property rights and the annulment of the custom of ‘benevolences’ which was another name for fines as a means of extracting money for the royal coffers.

Some of this information could have been aired in your columnist’s article, leaving out mention of Julian Assange who will not be pleased at being written  of in association with Richard III.   If Miss Harvey knows nothing of these matters then I suggest that she visits the library, Paul Murray Kendall’s Richard The Third (Unwins 1955) would be a good start.

David Green

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   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

The media have been full with coverage of the identification of the human remains found in Leicester as those of Richard III.  Obviously we in the Richard III Society welcome this.

There have been some very accurate and positive reports, looking at Richard III from a variety of angles.  The Shakespeare play, The Tragedy of King Richard the Third, is brought up often enough and certainly has a place in a discussion of the historical person in contrast to the fictional character in the play.  Elissa Blake wrote a very good article, ‘Twisted villain will live on despite grave findings’ on this aspect for the Sydney Morning Herald, where she interviewed among others renowned Shakespeare actor John Bell.

Unfortunately at the other extreme there have also been some very negligently researched contributions.  For example I caught just the tail end of a short programme on the findings in Leicester on SBS World News last night.   The reporter seemed to have made no effort to actually engage with her subject matter and made several slip-ups.  In one of them she informed us that the DNA evidence showed the bones belonged to a man in his late thirties.  Well, that would rule out Richard immediately, as he was only 32 when he died!

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) has a very detailed summary on their website, ‘Richard III’s face revealed for first time in 500 years’.  A pity though that this had not filtered through to ABC News Breakfast this morning.  Again a feature, really a mixture of little clips from other stations’ programmes, was presented by a reporter, who seems to have made no effort to familiarise herself with her topic.  However, the worst was probably the attitude of the hosts of the news programme.  Michael Rowland introduced the feature, talking about the “hunchback king”.  No, he was not a hunchback!  If the finding of the bones made one thing clear, it was that he was not a hunchback – scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine. The dispute whether he should be reburied in Leicester or York was also mentioned.  Here Michael’s co-presenter, Karina Carvalho, made a flippant remark that maybe they should share the bones, with each getting some.  This was just plain tasteless, we are talking about the remains of a human being, not a bag of sweets!

As a rule I have held coverage by the ABC and SBS in high regard as being fact-based and unbiased, so I found these two examples parrticularly disturbing.  Seeing such lazy reporting full of  half truths and incomplete information, made us wonder how often this might actually be the case.  When it is about a subject we are familiar with, we can detect them easily (and get annoyed by them), but how often are we presented with equally negligent research on other subjects that we do not know much about?   Very often we form an initial opinion about any subject based on media coverage. Nobody has the time to check out everything we read or watch, nor should we be expected to.  I just wonder how often we are misled into forming incorrect opinions – a rather frightening scenario!



BREAKING NEWS: Monday, 4 February 2013, is THE day!

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News

ArchaeologyThis morning, when I first switched my computer on, there were two emails waiting for me from my friend Renate, which really made my day:

It has just been announced that the much anticipated press conference to reveal the results of the scientific and archaeological investigations carried out on the male human remains found during the dig in Leicester, has been scheduled for Monday, 4 February 2013, at 10h00 UK time – this means 21h00 Australian EST.

Channel 4 will broadcast the documentary on ‘Richard III:  The King in the Car Park’ at 21h00 UK time on the same day, which means 8h00 on 5 February 2013 Australian EST.

More information:

Date set for Search for Richard III press conference’, University of Leicester (23 Jan 2013).
Richard III:  The King in the Car Park’, Channel 4 Press Info (23 Jan 2013).

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   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News, Richard III in the Media

As announced yesterday, last night, or rather early this morning Australian time, The One Show on BBC 1 had a short item on the Greyfriars Dig.  Of course, as soon as possible I sneaked into the BBC iPlayer and watched the programme.  The format of The One Show is light early evening infotainment.  There was an item on car clampers in public car parks and another about an upcoming second series of a TV programme, but after about 20 minutes they came to the car park story I was interested in.

The item on Richard was presented by Dan Snow, who is referred to on the show’s website as “Our history man”.  Initially he had a short rather fat and bend-over man standing next to him, who was supposed to be Richard, so I started fearing the worst.  However, my fears were premature.  The programme itself was objectively presented, scoliosis was explained as a lateral curvature of the spine.  Dan first interviewed Richard Buckley, who explained where they found the remains.  He then had a chat with Michaeil Ibsen, Richard’s great great great …. nephew, at the Bosworth Battlefield Centre.  There were also some re-enactors fighting with each other, the one side proudly displaying their white boars, Richard’s emblem.

After the item the hosts of the show asked Dan of his opinion whether the remains were those of Richard.  Dan said that through his talks with the experts he had been convinced that it is indeed Richard.  He also mentioned that the Minister of Justice is supposed to announce next week, where Richard (if it is him) would be reburied.

Dan also said that Richard had had very bad PR and though “he may have had his nephews killed”, this was fairly insignificant compared to what other kings before and after him were up to.  He also stressed that Shakespeare painted Richard as dark as possible as he lived in Tudor times.

The whole segment finished with a short clip from Richard III with Laurence Olivier.

Though the programme did not offer any new insight to anyone who has been following the developments, it would have been a concise informative item for those who were not approaching it with any special interest.  However, The One Show is not aimed at medieval history buffs, so for its target audience it was not a bad programme.

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   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News, Richard III in the Media

Our friends in the UK informed us that ‘The One Show‘ on BBC1 is scheduled to include an item about the Leicester Greyfrairs Dig at some stage during this week.  Unfortunately we do not know exactly when it will be screened, it might be in tonight’s show.

Unfortunately if you are not a resident of the UK, you cannot view BBC programmes on their iPlayer, unless you have a software that disguises your whereabouts (which is free to download off the internet).  It would be good, if we managed to catch it – or if our ABC finds it of sufficient interest to show it here.

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Richard III, the ‚Bösewicht‘

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News, Richard III in the Media

The interest in the findings in Leicester is not limited to the English-speaking world.  One of the two main German TV station, the ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), also reported on it as part of their news and interviewed John Ashdown-Hill for the short feature (approx. 2 minutes).  The dig in Leicester was based on John’s research, outlined in his book The Last Days of Richard III.

So far I had known John only through his books and from photographs, so this was the first time I met him ‘live’.  This was the highlight of the programme, as I was rather disappointed with the reporting around it.

The moderator introduces Richard III as the “probably most hated king in British history”, who also features as the “main character of a Shakespeare drama”.  This gives you a good idea on the line they are going to follow:  history as told by that great “historian”, William Shakespeare.

We learn that Richard had numerous people killed, two brothers and nephews, but also “at least one wife”.  Now, please, even Shakespeare doesn’t give him more than one wife!  It was only his great-nephew Henry VIII, who had the bad track record with multiple wives.

As there is no mention that any view of Richard but Shakespeare’s even exists, it comes as a bit of a surprise when the reporter finishes with “Richard, the villain.  Maybe this part of history now needs to be rewritten.”  Unfortunately finding Richard’s bones will not be not sufficient to change the popular opinion of this king.

And while I am on my rant, there is also a minor point.  In the beginning we see the sundial at the Bosworth Battlefield Centre and the voice over informs us that this is the spot where Richard was killed.  Well, not exactly, the actual battlefield was a bit away.

In my family, ZDF had been the broadcaster of choice, for its accuracy in its news coverage as well as for entertainment.  A pity, but even John Ashdown-Hill cannot make me overlook the shortcomings in this short programme.  I would have expected better!

Watch the programme at

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