Open Thread: Shakespeare, God, and the FFA

Mythmaking, then and now. The bones of Richard III have been rescued from under a parking lot, per the Guardian:

Not just the identity of the man in the car park with the twisted spine, but the appalling last moments and humiliating treatment of the naked body of Richard III in the hours after his death have been revealed at an extraordinary press conference at Leicester University.

There were cheers when Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist on the hunt for the king’s body, finally announced that the university team was convinced “beyond reasonable doubt” that it had found the last Plantagenet king, bent by scoliosis of the spine, and twisted further to fit into a hastily dug hole in Grey Friars church, which was slightly too small to hold his body…

(ETA: H/t commentor Handsmile)

And the cynical contrarians at Slate identify the source of the Superbowl ad that drew the most discussion among the BJ commentariat:

The most striking Super Bowl ad in what has been, so far, a pretty disappointing year for Super Bowl ads, is a commercial for Dodge that aired late in the game. Over a series of still photos of farms, farmers, and farm equipment, the commercial played a talk by the conservative radio broadcaster Paul Harvey, who died in 2009. Harvey delivered the speech, called “So God Made a Farmer,” at the Future Farmers of America convention in 1978.

And in 2011, Farms.com made a YouTube vide… It reached 1 million views, and the only difference between it and the Dodge ad is lower production values and no pitch for Dodge at the end….

Video available at the link.
***********
What other odds & ends are on the agenda for this Monday afternoon/evening?

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121 replies
  1. 1
    cathyx says:

    I need to read up on Richard III history.

  2. 2
    dr. bloor says:

    Photo of Richard’s entire skeleton was amazing–nasty scoliosis, head taken clean off with one swipe. Amazing find.

    Hoffa, however, remains at large.

  3. 3
    Maude says:

    From last thread.
    The Alabama hostage taker is dead, the child is alive. It’s over.
    CBS News had it first, Reuters second.

  4. 4
    Betty Cracker says:

    Finally got to watch Downton Abbey — viewing was delayed thanks to the Super Bowl. I wonder if Edith will set her cap at Tom now? She’s a fool if she doesn’t!

    I hope Daisy the kitchen maid takes her (sorta) father-in-law up on the offer to take over the farm and builds it into a global jams and jellies empire.

    No good can come of the Jimmy-Thomas fondling footmen story line. O’Brien is setting up a gay-panic murder or at least maiming.

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    @cathyx: Long story short, the Tudor History Machine used Richard to make the Earl of Richmond, who beat him at Bosworth and became Henry VII, into a hero who saved England from the Wars of the Roses.

    But he mostly did it through his marriage that united the houses of York and Lancaster.

    Richard was given this ignominious history by Sir Thomas More (not the first history of his reign but the most influential).

    The Shakespeare play takes this up and makes him a charismatic badass, using his deformity to get everyone to underestimate him.

  6. 6
    R-Jud says:

    head taken clean off with one swipe

    Was he decapitated? Listening to Radio 4 this morning when they announced it, it sounded like they’d taken a great big chunk off the back of his skull with a halberd.

    Anyway, at £18.50 a day for 190,000 days or so, I figure he owes about £3.6 million in parking fees. I hope both of those modern-day descendants of his have deep pockets. Dunno about Leicester, but NCP car parks here in Birmingham do. Not. Mess.

  7. 7
    Yutsano says:

    @R-Jud: Wouldn’t that still come from Crown coffers even though Lizzie II is quite a good German gal?

  8. 8
    Aimai says:

    Definitely read Josephine tey’s brilliant ” daughter of time”. It’s an exploration of the myth making and character assassination surrounding Richard the third. It’s a fun read.

  9. 9
    MattF says:

    For those who want to brush up on all that history I’d suggest ‘The Daughter of Time’:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daughter_of_Time

    A good read, a sort-of detective novel where the detective is in the hospital with a broken leg, and so he ‘investigates’ Richard’s life. I’m a bit surprised that the book hasn’t been brought up in all the Richard III discussion, but it’s a classic.

    ETA: Aimai beat me to it, but dat’s life.

  10. 10
    Scott S. says:

    Grrr, didn’t watch the game, so I never realized there’d been a commercial featuring Paul Harvey, my most hated nemesis during all the years I worked in radio. Just couldn’t stand the smarmy, lying, racist SOB. Celebrated quite happily when I heard he’d died.

  11. 11
    trollhattan says:

    @Maude:

    Wow, really. If so, phew! That poor little boy and his family.

    [edit: BBC has it before WaPo. Hah.]

  12. 12
    Comrade Mary says:

    Well, I wouldn’t take Tey’s book as gospel, but she’s an energetic and passionate writer, so the book is worth checking out. It does a good job of introducing you to the various facts and arguments. Mnemosyne recommended The Princes in the Tower this morning as a counterbalance, as that writer thinks Dirty Dick Diddit.

    I’m an agnostic on Richard as killer of nephews (pretty strong circumstantial evidence, not atypical behaviour for rulers of that age, but it’s not all that, err, cut and dried for me just yet). But I do think the victors did their bit to exaggerate and fabricate like mad. As I said this morning, scoliosis != hunchback (the curves are orthogonal to each other) and if he had a withered arm, it wasn’t something based on his skeleton because the car park man’s arms matched up pretty well.

  13. 13
    gogol's wife says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m so glad Bates is getting out of prison. They really lose credibility when they try to do gritty realism (laughable foxholes, drug-dealing cellmates).

  14. 14
    trollhattan says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    My question: is Bates actually a murrrrderer like Raylen’s dad?

    And yes, I think that’s a mashup that would really work.

  15. 15
    gogol's wife says:

    @trollhattan:

    For a while I thought they were trying to imply that, and I was getting intrigued by the possibility, but they seem to have backed off.

  16. 16
    Aimai says:

    @Betty Cracker: We watched up to ep. Six this weekend. I’ve been impressed with the exploration of genteel British anti catholic racisism. I’m hoping that the publisher who hires Edith turns out to be Jewish and she falls for him. That would be a great opportunity to explore British upper and lower class antisemitism. I’ve been impressed with the sturdily awful depiction of the fallen woman issue and it’s been fun discussing the anti sofomy laws with my adolescent daughters. It really dramatizes for them the historical gulf between their world view and downtown abbey.

  17. 17

    Re: Richard III — True to the historical record (as promoted by the Tudor propagandist, one W. Shakespeare), there were no equine remains found in the vicinity.

  18. 18
    Robin G. says:

    Finished a rewatch of Game Change, and now am archive diving Oct 2008 stories about Caribou Barbie and the campaign. It’s amazing what you can block out after four years.

  19. 19
    IowaOldLady says:

    Did you see the pictures of how bent the poor guy’s spine was? Amazing.

  20. 20
    Suffern ACE says:

    So where should they re-inter Richard III’s bones? It wouldn’t make sense to put them in Westminster. I don’t think he was an Anglican.

  21. 21
    gbear says:

    Just leaving work. I feel like I’ve been twisted into a small hole in the ground today.

    I hope the evening is better after I’ve get home and shovel last night’s snow off of the driveway (more snow coming overnight).

  22. 22
    handsmile says:

    Protocol question: is it very whiny to complain that I first linked to that Guardian article at 9:35am today on mistermix’s “Morning Open Thread. Harumph! There’s a nice little discussion of same towards that thread’s end.

    Also too, Samuel Pepys makes an appearance on Doug Galt’s “I don’t love you hoes…” thread this afternoon. So it’s been a capital day for the literati here!

    @BGinCHI:

    Isn’t this subject squarely in your own academic wheelhouse? And if so, are Tey’s and Weir’s accounts of Richard III still regarded as credible, albeit popular, histories?

    @gogol’s wife:

    Not so fast on Bates’ release methinks…though the Earl may be requiring a new valet in the very near future.

  23. 23
    JustRuss says:

    Did anybody else find the “God Made a Farmer” ad kind of creepy.? I’m not very religious myself, but I find it rather heretical to just make up crap about God’s intentions out of whole cloth. Harvey is hardly the first to do that, of course, but I don’t get the enthusiasm the ad generated amongst my wing-nuttier Facebook friends. I guess trucks and farmers trumps heresy in conservativeland.

  24. 24
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Scott S.: The commercial brought back memories of being trapped in a car with my parents on a long trip, begging to listen to something else.

  25. 25

    @Suffern ACE: NPR says they’ll probably bury him in Leicester Cathedral.

  26. 26
    Nicole says:

    @Mustang Bobby: I was thinking that they should reinter him with a horse. Because that would be awesome.

  27. 27
    dnfree says:

    @Scott S.: Several noteworthy online commenters are pointing out that almost all those heroic and iconic farmers in the Dodge ad were white men, but those would have been the farmers Paul Harvey had in mind, wouldn’t they?

  28. 28
    Suffern ACE says:

    @JustRuss: Mercedes used the devil in its commercial. Dodge, its former subsidiary, invoked God. Not certain what it means, but it would be irresponsible not to speculate.

  29. 29
    Violet says:

    The Richard III news is just amazing. That skeleton is shocking. That spine. Wow.

  30. 30

    @Nicole: I hear that Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger is available. He’s stuffed in their museum.

  31. 31
    22over7 says:

    Hated the Dodge commercial with Paul Harvey. Smarmy, sanctimonious, droning, putting words in God’s mouth, implying that ONLY farmers are hard-working, God-fearing, family-loving, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

    But it wasn’t as bad as last year’s Dodge commercial.

    My favorite of the lot was the one with the goat.

  32. 32
    Sharl says:

    Richard III is on Twitter. He is rather witty too; appears to come from the Shecky Greene school of comedy; or, chronologically speaking, perhaps Mr. Greene hails from the Richard III school…

    Henry Tudor once said he wanted to build a car park in Leicester. I told him, “over my dead body”

    Will babysit for cash. #historicalreference

    Burying people in multi-storey car parks. That’s wrong on so many levels.

    Wacka-wacka. Some of them are a bit on the blue side, so to speak, and others are (I assume) intended for a purely British readership, but you get the idea.

  33. 33
    Cacti says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    In an unmarked grave for murderers?

  34. 34
    handsmile says:

    @Nicole:

    Always with the equine advocacy here, aren’t you? :)

  35. 35
    Redshift says:

    @JustRuss: I found it kind of annoying, though I was anticipating the sponsor being Monsanto or something, which would have been worse. My remark at the end was “farmers, none of whom have the money to buy a Super Bowl ad,” which was pretty well received at my friends’ party.

  36. 36
    Johannes says:

    @Comrade Mary: Weir’s book is rather biased, I’m afraid, and she takes More seriously as a souce despite his manifold errors (e.g., he has the grounds Edward V’s purported illegitimacy wrong, with his father precontracyed to an improbable partner rather than the entirely appropriate and plausible lady mentioned in the surviving historical documentation, not to mention a host of supernatural oddities.). Charles Ross is a much less biased anti. I’m a pro, but at least Ross is fair.

  37. 37
    Violet says:

    @22over7:

    My favorite of the lot was the one with the goat.

    That was my favorite too. I actually laughed at that one. I liked the Clydesdale one too.

    I thought the Budweiser Black commercials were awful and the Bud Light commercials were awful in general. The GoDaddy one was retch-worthy.

    Mostly I thought the commercials were sub-par. Maybe we need another dotcom-like boom to produce some Pets.com-like spectacles.

  38. 38
    handsmile says:

    @Aimai:

    In high dudgeon while speaking to Mary Crawley on the abbey’s lawns about his granddaughter possibly being christened as a Roman Catholic, the Earl uses an anti-(Irish?)Catholic slur that I’d never heard before. Do you or anyone else here happen to recall it? (Can also wait for a rebroadcast later this week.)

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @handsmile: Left footer?

  40. 40
    Brachiator says:

    The Shakespeare play takes this up and makes him a charismatic badass, using his deformity to get everyone to underestimate him.

    Shakespeare is a bad playwright because he endorses torture and murder in Richard III. And he deliberately panders to the Tudors.

    BTW, in the play, Richard III is almost a stereotypical morality play villain. Everybody knows he’s bad, but he overpowers them with the depth of his villainy.

    True to the historical record (as promoted by the Tudor propagandist, one W. Shakespeare), there were no equine remains found in the vicinity.

    There should have been a Super Bowl commercial with a lone Budweiser Clydesdale pawing a parking lot with a hoof.

    More seriously, I thought some scholars thought that Richard’s bad back was a later invention.

  41. 41
    Mandalay says:

    In Britain a former Cabinet Minister, Chris Huhne, has finally plead guilty to perverting the course of justice, .

    He has lost his job, his wife, his reputation, and is probably facing serious jail time, but the loss of his relationship with his son seems the worst thing of all. And all because of a stupid lie over a speeding ticket.

    Here are some message exchanges between him and his son that were made public as a result of the case. They are brutal.:

    CH: “Peter, just to say, I’m thinking of you and I love you very much. It would be great to talk to you, Dad.”

    PH: “Fuck off.”

    CH: “Happy Christmas. Love you, Dad.”

    PH: “Well I hate you, so fuck off.”

    CH: “Well I’m proud and I love you, Dad.”

    PH: “Leave me alone, you have no place in my life and no right to be proud. It’s irritating that you don’t seem to take the point. You are such an autistic piece of shit. Don’t contact me again you make me feel sick.”

    CH: “I do hope your exams are going okay, despite everything over the last few weeks. Thinking of you, love you, Dad. PS It’s grandad’s birthday today.”

    PH: “Don’t text me you fat piece of shit.”

    Huhne is a selfish, lying scumbag, but even so it is hard not to feel sorry for him after reading that.

  42. 42
    Violet says:

    @Sharl: That’s funny. I see Richard III is following one person on Twitter. I am not on Twitter so can’t see who he’s following. Who is it?

  43. 43
    freelancer says:

    @JustRuss:

    I posted about it late last night in a thread. And yes, I agree with the overall vibe. There’s definitely an invocation of race by its simple omission. Jeep ran a really cheesy ad that looked like a Michael Bay propaganda film for the RNC, and while it was running, my friend asked me if I had seen Act of Valor, I said yeah, but I didn’t like it because it was really hamfisted and looked exactly like the Jeep ad in terms of tone.

    Last year, Chrysler blew the roof off the country with the Clint Eastwood ad, this year, they narrowed in from talking about America getting off of the mat, to ‘Mericans, Yeehah, don’t Gawd love ’em?!

  44. 44
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Brachiator:

    I thought some scholars thought that Richard’s bad back was a later invention.

    There’s more at the Guardian link, but even when I was in high school in the 1970s, the concensus opinion was that R3 was said to be ‘delicate’ due to some kind of spinal problem. The Tudors called him a deformed hunchback, which would’ve branded him as unfit for kingship (and in the medieval tradition, marked his parents as sinners / degenerates, further weakening his claim to the throne). The skeleton shows a degree of scolosis that would certainly have made his life harder, but he wasn’t a “cripple” incapable of ruling.

  45. 45
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    @handsmile: Tey’s book focuses on disproving the first Tudor record of Richard the”Titulus Regulus” which lays out why Henry should be king despite the law that his mother and her issue could not inherit the throne (legitimized bastards descended from John of Gaunt). For a decades old but readable academic biography, read Paul Murray Kendall’s book. For a silly and fun romance/mystery about pro-Richard societies in the UK, Elizabeth Peters’ The Murders of Richard III is a hoot.

  46. 46
    MattF says:

    @handsmile: Well, I often miss weekday morning open threads because my employer sporadically blocks BJ as ‘adult content’. Which is amusing enough in and of itself, but which also suggests that the powers-that-be don’t think I’m an adult.

  47. 47
    hildebrand says:

    @Suffern ACE: I liked the irony of the Mercedes ad, using Willem Dafoe, who once played Jesus in the masterful ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, as Satan.

  48. 48

    And tonight’s musical selection has to be “Paved Plantagenet and Put Up A Parking Lot.”

  49. 49
    Aimai says:

    @handsmile: Left footer? I heard it but didn’t know it. I meant to google it.

  50. 50
    Calouste says:

    @Violet:

    Budweiser Black (and Beck’s similar offering that was also advertised) look to be set up for fail. It will be too expensive for the Joe Sixpack beer drinker, people who are serious about beers will take a microbrew or imported beer over Bud any day, so about the only market they have are hipsters, who will move onto something else within three months.

  51. 51
    Roger Moore says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    The skeleton shows a degree of scolosis that would certainly have made his life harder, but he wasn’t a “cripple” incapable of ruling.

    It seems crazy that anyone would have suggested as much. Even his worst detractors had to admit that Richard III died bravely in battle, trying desperately to win by killing Henry Tudor personally. That doesn’t seem like something a person crippled too severely to be king would be doing.

  52. 52
    Cacti says:

    @hildebrand:

    I liked the irony of the Mercedes ad, using Willem Dafoe, who once played Jesus in the masterful ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, as Satan.

    I think the various directors of the Batman franchise really missed the boat by never making him the Joker.

  53. 53
    handsmile says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yes, that’s it exactly. Thanks! And it made/makes me wonder whether the term is related to to the film My Left Foot starring Daniel Day-Lewis. (Saw the film years ago and never made that connection then; recall it now but little.) I did know that Christy Brown, author of the autobiography from which the movie is adapted, was an Irishman.

    ETA: Aimai, thanks too!

  54. 54
    Sharl says:

    @Violet: The single follow is the creator of that parody Twitter account, a self-described Londoner named Jonathan Roberts. He appears to have started the account back in September, then after a few days got tired of it and invited folks to follow him under his (presumably) real name, so he outed himself some time ago. The recent news clearly motivated him to crank out some new material.

  55. 55
    Kip the Wonder Rat says:

    Harvey delivered the speech, called “So God Made a Farmer,” at the Future Farmers of America convention in 1978.

    1978

    I wonder if it was obvious by then that the policies of Tricky Dick’s Sec. Agriculture, Earl “get big or get out” Butz, were leading to the demise of the small farmer? And so we see another example of the conservatives’ ability get voters to vote against their own interests, with Paul Harvey providing the soundtrack. And of course blame the demise of another bit of “traditional” Americana on the liberulz.

  56. 56
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @handsmile: I have no idea how that term comes to be associated with Catholics – I went purely by context.

  57. 57
    ruemara says:

    I’m fairly excited about a new job opportunity. Less excited that I now have to bone up on the arcane regulations of government media contracts and management arcanum of budgets. yech. But, since I haven’t been hired yet, I’m more than willing to expand my knowledge base to get hired.

    Plus, Poor Richard. That’s a hell of a spine twist.

  58. 58
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Roger Moore: I went to a parochial school taught by (Roman Catholic) Dominican sisters. Our textbooks really stressed the idea that “the past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past”. Explaining contemporaneous propaganda — including pre-Enlightenment notions of the king representing the health of the kingdom, so that a “defective” would-be ruler imperiled the whole nation — was a thread woven all through them.

  59. 59
    Mino says:

    The Guardian is reporting that the scoliosis was not hereditary. Injury, then? It was very severe.

  60. 60
    les says:

    @Violet:

    I thought the Budweiser Black commercials were awful

    Me too also. And trust American corporate beer to act like they’re due praise for attempting anything except watered down pilsner.

  61. 61
    Yutsano says:

    @Calouste: Yesbut…stock price. It’s not like they bother with quality or anything.

  62. 62
    tmf (formerly tesslibrarian) says:

    Here’s an explanation of left-footer:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/note.....21,00.html

    I’d never heard it before, either, and as a Catholic growing up in the south, we were taught all the things we might be called, a side effect of having a grandmother who lived in Atlanta with parents who barely spoke English and were very Catholic in the 1920s.

  63. 63
    hildebrand says:

    @Cacti: He would be perfect if they ever decide to do a film version of the ‘Dark Knight Returns’. Dafoe as an aging Joker? Yep, that would work. (Is it bad that I want that graphic novel filmed just so we can see Superman get his ass kicked?)

  64. 64
    Brachiator says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    The Tudors called him a deformed hunchback, which would’ve branded him as unfit for kingship (and in the medieval tradition, marked his parents as sinners / degenerates, further weakening his claim to the throne).

    There was a recent BBC History Magazine article about Richard III which suggested that his bad reputation was not fully warranted. It will be interesting to look at it again in the light of these bones.

    I am not sure that any medieval tradition about sinners would have meant much. Other monarchs had all kinds of physical and mental issues and still were crowned. I suspect that a lot of this was part of the attempts by the Tudors to build up Henry VII’s weak claim to the throne.

    Also, I wonder if some of this discovery of Richard’s bones are just the Brits trying to one-up the French, because of this other recent discovery:

    Louis, Louis, ohhh, yeah.

    It’s been more than 200 years since King Louis XVI was beheaded by French revolutionaries, but a team of scientists believes a recently discovered gourd contains traces of his blood.

    According to the BBC, the scientists say a dried, hollowed-out squash that had been kept by an Italian family as a souvenir contains a handkerchief that was dipped in the king’s blood by a spectator.

    A message on the outside of the calabash reads: “On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation.”

  65. 65
    handsmile says:

    @Cheryl from Maryland:

    Grateful for the Tey summary and the other book recommendations! It’s always a delight what one learns, the breadth of knowledge revealed, when an offbeat subject appears on this blog.

  66. 66
    befuggled says:

    @Yutsano: That’s not true at all. They actually do a great job of quality control–it is damn difficult to make a beer as tasteless as Bud or Bud Light. Any errors you make show up pretty clearly in the finished product.

  67. 67
    Emma says:

    @Mustang Bobby: Bah. He should be buried in York, his dukedom and the only people who put in writing what everyone was thinking: “today was our good King Richard most piteously slain and murdered to the great heaviness of this city.”

  68. 68
    Emma says:

    @Brachiator: No, his withered arm was. No way he could have swung a sword otherwise. Richard was a rather well-known commander of troops for his brother Edward.

    And by the way, IIRC, several people put in writing (in spite of who had won) that Henry ran away from Richard in the melee.

  69. 69
    BGinCHI says:

    @handsmile: More or less, yes.

    But you can Google Richard and check out all the societies who have spent many years doggedly refashioning his reputation. He has a lot of followers who believe he was the object of negative Tudor propaganda, and there is surely something to that.

    An indispensable book is Paul Strohm’s “Politique: Languages of Statecraft Between Chaucer and Shakespeare.”

  70. 70
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Emma: He was from the York branch of the Plantagenets, but he was Duke of Gloucester.

  71. 71
    Emma says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yes, but the family held their name and titles from York and York was always Richard’s city in allegiance. Sorry. I should have been more clear.

    I first learned about Richard during an English history survey class. The teacher was a stubborn old Scotsman and made us go through the evidence with a fine-tooth comb. Verdict: Not Proven.

  72. 72
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @BGinCHI: So what do you think of the theory that it was Buckingham what done in the kids?

  73. 73
    handsmile says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Good gracious! You had Dominican nuns (or at least textbooks they approved of) quoting William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Requiem_for_a_Nun

    That must have been some parochial school! :)

    (also too, the h/t above was very kind of you.)

  74. 74
    Violet says:

    @Sharl: Thanks! He sure got lucky with the news today.

  75. 75
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Emma: IIRC Edward IV used Richard to manage the north for him, and Richard did it well.

  76. 76
    BGinCHI says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I don’t really think about it. Richard was certainly capable of it, but so was B’ham.

    There are almost no nice people in those narratives.

  77. 77
    Emma says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: He seems to have been very good at a number of jobs. My main problem with the whole thing is that Richard was COMPETENT. If he had killed his nephews he would have done a much better job of hiding the evidence.

  78. 78
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    So how did they find Richard? They acted on a hunch.

  79. 79
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @BGinCHI: Yeah, in an earlier thread, I was mentioning some of Richard’s near contemporaries – Borgia popes, Vlad Tepes, Ivan the Terrible, etc. Brutal time period.

  80. 80
    Gravenstone says:

    @hildebrand: There’s a two part animated adaptation available now. I’m curious to see it, but I still resent Frank Miller going Full Metal Wingnut in later life.

  81. 81
    MaryJane says:

    Isn’t there a Downton Abbey chatboard where y’all can cackle about Sunday’s episode? Hasn’t there been numerous requests to not reveal spoilers? Proper manners be fucked, obviously.

    Nevermind, I’ll just skip Balloon Juice on Mondays til the damn thing is over.

  82. 82
    JWL says:

    It’s well known that Richard III was a propaganda target after death, but his centuries deferred rehabilitation should begin now in earnest. The released photo of his spinal curvature is an immortal snapshot.

    Al Pacino did a fantastic documentary about the goings on in staging a production of Shakespeare’s play, and one of my all time favorite movies is Ian McClellan’s production of Richard. He even directed the movie, if I recall correctly.

  83. 83
    Comrade Mary says:

    The facial reconstruction is up. Rather handsome. I know that forensic anthropologists working to identify crime victims can do amazing work, but was this version tweaked a bit to satisfy the sponsors in the Richard III society?

    Richard III Society member Philippa Langley, originator of the search, said on a Channel 4 documentary earlier: “It doesn’t look like the face of a tyrant. I’m sorry but it doesn’t.

    “He’s very handsome. It’s like you could just talk to him, have a conversation with him right now.”

    Layers of muscle and skin were added by computer to a scan of the skull and the result was made into a three-dimensional plastic model.

  84. 84
    Tehanu says:

    @Cheryl from Maryland:
    Yes, Paul Murray Kendall — a pro-Richard voice — is a great read, and as somebody else noted above, Charles Ross’ book is reasonably fair though anti-Richard. I personally think that Buckingham killed the boys to ingratiate himself with Richard, but that Richard was horrified rather than grateful, which explains their falling out and Richard’s eventual execution of Buckingham. I also think that Henry VII gets props mostly for being Elizabeth I’s grandfather, because if you look at his career, you realize what a complete monster he was.

  85. 85
    Anne Laurie says:

    @handsmile:

    You had Dominican nuns (or at least textbooks they approved of) quoting William Faulkner,

    I think (40 years after the fact) it was more a case of Faulkner & my preceptors (working-class Irish & Italian immigrants’ kids) drawing from the same philosophical background. Some historian could (probably has) write a long thesis on the war between the “English Empire” school of history in America (a fresh start every time a strong enough conqueror emerges) and the “Lost Tribe” school (ten thousand tribes in permanent competition, with occasional outbursts of genocidal tyranny).

    On a less elevated scale, we not only had semi-official fundraisers for NORAID, there was an ongoing sniping war between the Tuscan descendants and the Sicilian kids.

  86. 86
    gogol's wife says:

    @MaryJane:

    Is it really a spoiler when the show has been broadcast in the United States?

  87. 87
    scav says:

    @Comrade Mary: If that was not accompanied by “tis no art to find the mind construction in the face” then some one is falling down on the job.

  88. 88
    draftmama says:

    Cool about Richard III (being a Brit an’all)

    But the Dodge ad was disgusting. (a) Dodge trucks suck and (b) could we PLEASE get god out of everything. We wouldn’t buy a Dodge for any reason, but that ad would sink it for a whole lot of people. How stupid does Chrysler think one half of the American people (who don’t believe in religion) are?

    Paul Harvey ferchrissakes…. (pun intended)

  89. 89
    redshirt says:

    I still think Rob Stark is the best and should be King. He’s the best General, and leader of men.

  90. 90
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Kind of looks like Lord Farquaad.

  91. 91
    MaryJane says:

    @gogol’s wife: Just because it was broadcast last night, does that mean everyone was able to watch?

    The answer to your question is Yes.

  92. 92
    Emma says:

    @Comrade Mary: He looks much like he looks in his portrait. Of course, IIRC, someone retouched the portrait at some point to make him look worse, so… it might certainly be he was handsome.

  93. 93
    Brachiator says:

    @Emma:

    No, his withered arm was. No way he could have swung a sword otherwise. Richard was a rather well-known commander of troops for his brother Edward.

    The BBC History Extra article and podcast is still available. Doesn’t mention much of any physical issues that Richard may have had. But it notes that he was a shrewed politician who had commanded the loyalty of a number of nobles in the north, and later was involved in a complicated power struggle involving Lord Stanley.

    One thing, however, had changed. The leading gentry families in the region had found a ‘good lord’ in Richard. He had been made chief steward of the duchy in the north in place of Warwick and used his power of appointment to foster members of the gentry and to check the power of Stanley.
    __
    Only royal power could do this and Richard, as trusted brother of the King, used it freely. The Dacres, Huddlestons, Pilkingtons, Ratcliffes and Parrs, all related by marriage to the Harringtons, had received offices in the region and saw Richard, not Stanley, as their lord.

    Stanley, and the Tudors, got even:

    “After the battle, Stanley received possession of all the Harrington properties and became earl of Derby. His brother, the impetuous and treacherous William, betrayed a king once too often and was executed by Henry Tudor in 1495.

    Henry himself set about dismantling the capacity of the magnates to raise their own troops and to wield their own power. Private armies were abolished and the Tudor monopoly of authority began. From henceforth this power could only be challenged by Parliament or by the rebellion of commoners.”

  94. 94
    Emma says:

    @Brachiator: As I said before, he was a competent soldier and a competent administrator. I cannot visualize someone like that killing anyone in such an incompetent fashion.

  95. 95
    Johannes says:

    @Tehanu: yeah, I like Kendall’s book very much myself. A more recent pro Richardwork is Jeremy Potter’s Good King Richard, or the lawyer-amateur historian Bertram Fields’s Royal Blood, which has a nice takedown of Weir.

  96. 96
    Brachiator says:

    @Emma:

    As I said before, he was a competent soldier and a competent administrator.

    Totally agree.

    I cannot visualize someone like that killing anyone in such an incompetent fashion.

    Here there’s not much evidence to support any particular conclusion. A good soldier might still be sloppy and political treachery.

  97. 97
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Emma:

    “today was our good King Richard most piteously slain and murdered to the great heaviness of this city.”

    That line always always makes me tear up. I first read it in Tey when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old, and I imagine I’ve read TDoT a good two dozen times since then. It’s never far from reach when I’m home.

    Agree that York would be the most appropriate place to re-inter his bones. Will the Queen have anything to say about it? I don’t suggest a state funeral, necessarily (though it wouldn’t be inappropriate) but surely there should be some kind of sovereign-to-sovereign recognition. I guess after five centuries there’s no huge rush….

  98. 98
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Emma:

    I cannot visualize someone like that killing anyone in such an incompetent fashion.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “incompetent,” since the two boys basically disappeared without a trace and the remains now thought to be theirs weren’t found for almost 200 years. That seems pretty competent work to me.

    Richard had motive, access to the victims, and the means to cover up the crime so well that there was no proof it had actually happened until 200 years later. At an absolute minimum, he was an accessory to the murders that just happened to cement his claim to the throne.

  99. 99
    aimai says:

    @Emma:

    I don’t want to get too deep in the weeds here but why not display their bodies? Hiding their bodies and the murder just made it quite likely that false claimants would appear later. IF the point was to dissapear them it would have been incredibly easy to poison them and make it look like an illness. Isn’t it, in fact?, the case that the boys were not “discovered” to be missing until after Richard was dethroned?

  100. 100
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    Thanks to all the commentators who cite more contemporary books than I read in college.

    My personal theory on the princes is either it was an obvious murder job (ala Thomas a Becket) by someone trying to be helpful, or Henry Tudor did it. I can’t see any other way the bodies weren’t produced — Oh, so sad, the princes got the sweating sickness.

    As for Henry Tudor, he was a parsimonious nasty piece of work whose main job was screwing money out of his subjects and anyone else he thought had money. Morton’s Fork and all that — not to mention Sir Thomas Moore getting his start as Morton’s tax collector.

  101. 101
    Liberty60 says:

    @Emma:
    Except we have vast historical evidence that even the most sly politicians can act with astonishing ineptness.

  102. 102
    Emma says:

    @Mnemosyne: That is the whole point.

    IIRC, the throne was bestowed on Richard after Edward’s marriage was declared invalid and the children declared illegitimate. Richard was caught by surprise; he was still in the North. If he wanted to make sure his bastard nephews wouldn’t be a problem, well, young people died all the time of all kinds of natural illnesses. All he had to do was display their bodies as ‘dead by natural causes’ and there was nothing anyone could say or do.

    I still hold by Not Proven.

  103. 103
    Emma says:

    @aimai: Again, I am trying to remember information I learned thirty years ago and haven’t updated, so, take it for what it’s worth. According to a couple of the pro-Riccardians, there was at least one sighting of the boys after Richard’s death. I’m not so sure. What I am sure of is that people all over England breathed a sigh of relief when the throne came to Richard. Nobody wanted the Woodvilles so close to power, and, in the medieval world, much better a seasoned soldier and administrator than a minor with ambitious relatives.

    There’s of course the fact that the children’s disappearance was a much better benefit to Henry than to Richard. Henry had Edward’s marriage re-legitimised because he was marrying the children’s sister. AND THAT MADE THE OLDEST BOY KING OF ENGLAND.

  104. 104
    Emma says:

    @Liberty60: Not Richard. He was the “no drama” of his time. Shakespeare’s Richard is probably a mirror portrait.

  105. 105
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    Isn’t it, in fact?, the case that the boys were not “discovered” to be missing until after Richard was dethroned?

    Nope — Richard had imprisoned them in the Tower of London before he declared himself king in June of 1483 and they were never seen alive again outside of it. Rumors that they had been murdered started flying almost immediately, but Weir thinks the two princes were probably still alive and in the tower until their mother entered into a conspiracy to try and free them (the “Sanctuary plot”). At that point, they were too dangerous to Richard’s throne, so they were murdered sometime late in 1483, most likely (according to Weir) around September 1st.

    Henry Tudor was never anywhere near them and never had any access to them since they were securely kept in the Tower of London the entire time. The only person who did have that access was Richard.

    ETA: You may be conflating the disappearance of the Princes with the story of Perkin Warbeck, who appeared during Henry VII’s reign claiming to be the lost Prince Richard.

  106. 106
    Emma says:

    @Mnemosyne: IF the boys were alive after Richard’s death, Henry had them. And Weir’s sources have been questioned for years.

  107. 107
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Emma:

    IIRC, the throne was bestowed on Richard after Edward’s marriage was declared invalid and the children declared illegitimate. Richard was caught by surprise; he was still in the North.

    You are misremembering, at least according to Weir — Richard was in London, supposedly helping to plan the coronation of his nephew, when he arrested and executed Lord William Hastings after accusing him of trying to oust Richard as Lord Protector. Richard then took his two nephews into his physical custody, away from their mother.

    His nephews being declared bastards and himself being declared the rightful king wasn’t much of a surprise to him since he had carefully engineered the whole thing by executing the nobles who opposed him doing it.

    All he had to do was display their bodies as ‘dead by natural causes’ and there was nothing anyone could say or do.

    And yet he didn’t, despite the fact that he had them in the Tower and rumors were already spreading that they were dead. Why didn’t he produce them since he was the one holding them prisoner?

  108. 108
    Emma says:

    @Mnemosyne: Again, according to Weir. I don’t quite trust someone who uses Thomas More’s account as reality. More was seven years old at the time of the battle of Bosworth; he had no first hand knowledge. Worse, he spent a great deal of time in the household of Morton, he of Morton’s Fork; and Morton and Richard hated each other with amazing passion. If, as it seems, Morton is Weir’s source, she is on shaky ground trusting him so much.

    Dammit. Now I have to go read up on this again.

  109. 109
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Emma:

    IF the boys were alive after Richard’s death, Henry had them. And Weir’s sources have been questioned for years.

    There are no reliable sources that saw the boys alive after September of 1483. Not one. The bodies that were eventually found in the Tower 200 years later appeared very much as Weir’s sources claimed they would be.

    I’ll be curious to see if those two skeletons are now DNA tested since they seem to have a reliable source of Plantagenent DNA.

    To accuse Henry VII of the crime would mean that the Princes were somehow completely concealed in the Tower of London for two full years without even a record of food or clothing being provided to them as there had been up to September of 1483, discovered there by Henry, and quietly murdered.

    Sorry, not plausible. I have to go with Occam’s Razor on this — the person who had both the motive and the opportunity and whose actions fit the dates best is Richard III. You have to do a whole lot of conspiracy theorizing to come up with another plausible suspect.

  110. 110
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: Again, Weir’s version is disputed. I think the not proven verdict is a good one. Too many possibilities with motive and opportunity. It really depends on when they were actually killed.

  111. 111
    aimai says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Well, Henry technically had the same motive as Richard since once Richard was deposed the crown would have reverted to the boys.

  112. 112
    aimai says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Sorry, Mnem, I was reading up the comment thread from the bottom. I go by Tey’s account in which there were no contemporaneous rumors of missing boys. I need to go read some later stuff, post Tey, but as far as I know there were no rumors the boys were missing until after Richard–sometime after Richard.

  113. 113
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Emma:

    I don’t quite trust someone who uses Thomas More’s account as reality.

    She doesn’t take it at face value, though — she checks it against other, contemporary sources and comes to the conclusion that More’s account matches up with those contemporary sources more closely that it had been given credit for.

    You probably should brush up on the case, because IMO the pro-Ricardian position is much weaker and much more based on circumstantial evidence and rumor than the anti-Ricardian one. But I have to wander out to dinner with the in-laws now, so I’ll have to skim more of Weir later.

    (And IIRC, “not proven” is the verdict of, “We’re pretty sure you did it, but we can’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law,” so I’m not sure it bolsters your case for proving Richard’s innocence. ;-)

  114. 114
    Emma says:

    @Mnemosyne: Again, Weir. You accept her sequence of events and her interpretations. I don’t, quite.

    Not an argument anyone is going to win. I remain unconvinced. There have been later books that basically take a sledge hammer to Weir. Maybe we both can do some reading.

  115. 115
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    According to Weir, rumors of their deaths were flying around London before Richard even crowned himself king, so I think Tey was eliding some details (or maybe didn’t have all of the sources that Weir had for her book). But, in-law dinner, so really gotta run.

  116. 116
    Emma says:

    @Mnemosyne: I know what it is. But there’s no “I think you’re innocent but I’m not sure” version. It has NOT BEEN PROVEN that Richard did it. And Weir alone is not the game-winning shot you seem to think it is. Perhaps you should read other books on the subject — pro and against.

  117. 117
    Mnemosyne (iPhone) says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    To be perfectly clear, I doubt Richard murdered the Princes with his own hands. He probably did what kings have always done and ordered a minion to do it for him.

  118. 118
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Well, I certainly doubt that whichever magnate was responsible did it with his own hands.

  119. 119
    Cacti says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    “He’s very handsome. It’s like you could just talk to him, have a conversation with him right now.

    Because FSM knows, men with handsome faces are incapable of cruelty.

  120. 120
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cacti: Well, I am not cruel.

  121. 121
    Kilkee says:

    Richard is valuable,as well, as a memnotic device for remembering the arrangement of colors in the spectrum: “Richard of York gained battles in vain.” Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Indigo-Violet.

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