Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Undoubtedly, once the test results of the human remains found during the Greyfriars Dig in Leicester have been announced, a renewed discussion of Richard III’s reign will break out.

In preparation for this, the Richard III Society has issued a Press Release on Richard’s ‘Achievements as King of England’.  It offers an interesting insight into how many of the legal issues we take for granted today go back to Richard’s short reign.  An example for this is shown in an article on ‘Richard III’s Effect on US Laws’.

If only all of our politicians were as genuinely interest in the law and a committed to the fair administration of justice for all!

You can find the Press Release here.

And the article on his effect on US Laws here (and thank you, Renate, for reminding me of this article!).

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Questionable Comment

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in News

King Richard III is not here today to challenge Opposition Business Manager Christopher Pyne’s remarks in Question Time on 8 February, implying that the last Plantagenet king was a serial murderer.

On King Richard’s behalf, may I suggest that Mr Pyne’s choice of relaxing fiction to read (even if written by Shakespeare) after his exhausting days as a politician is replaced by some serious historical research.

Surely he would be very put out if, in the future, his life was blackened by someone who couldn’t be bothered to check a few facts and offer a balanced opinion.

(You might like to read an earlier entry, drawing attention to the misuse of the same historical person by the same politician.)

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Can politicians be trusted?

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Well , at least where history is concerned it seems this is not always the case.

This is the latest example:  Last night – after returning from a long weekend in the nation’s capital – I watched  the ABC News.  There Christopher Pyne (for our readers in other parts of the globe:  an Australian opposition MP) declared that the Prime Minister’s stance on the gambling reform was “the most ruthless political act since Richard III disposed of his nephews in the Tower of London” (for a clip click here).

It is understandable that Richard III should come to Mr Pyne’s mind after the successful tour of the production of Shakespeare’s play with Kevin Spacey in Sydney last month, which got a lot of attention in the media.

However, given that Richard III was killed in 1485, it is most unlikely that the gambling reform (or lack thereof) is “the most ruthless political act’ in the last 500 odd years – I am sure most of us can think of much more serious instances.  In that respect Mr Pyne’s remark certainly is an “absurd example of hyperbole”.

However, much more seriously, it is also an instance of playing fast and furious with historical facts.  The fact is that we do not know happened to the sons of Edward IV.  Everything else is conjecture.

At least we have to assume that Mr Pyne refers to the sons of Edward IV, when he talks of Richard III’s nephews.  In fact Richard had  various other nephews, who are all accounted for and only met their end in Tudor times – with Edward, earl of Warwick (son of Richard III’s elder brother George, duke of Clarence), actually being executed in the Tower of London – in 1499, on the orders of Henry VII.

The sons of Edward IV were declared illegitimate by an act of Parliament, because of questions about the legality of their parents’ marriage.  This allowed Richard, duke of Gloucester, to become king as Richard III.  The boys were last seen playing in the royal residence of the Tower in the late summer of 1483, but nobody knows for sure what happened then.  We can’t say for sure that they were killed and – if they were – when or even less by whom, and they might just as well have outlived Richard III.  It is worth noting that two posthumous trials acquitted Richard of this crime.

Rather than blaming Richard for the demise of these nephews, he might very well have been instrumental in protecting their lives, as the appearance of the later pretenders shows.

It would be desirable if politicians of whichever hue were to ascertain their facts, before comparing their opponents with historical persons.  More often than not, these comparisons do not achieve the anticipated outcome, but rather backfire.

More info on the trials: – click on “Channel 4: The Trial of Richard III (1984)”
The Channel 4 programme can be viewed in a number of parts on YouTube

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