Richard III’s Burial (Round Up)

richard-iii-visitors-center

“Dynasty Death and Discovery, Richard III museum gallery” at the Visitors Center in Leicester. Image: Robin. Wikimedia Commons.

The lines to pay last respects to Richard III’s body circle the block, standing in line up to four hours. By early Monday morning, nearly 3000 people had seen his body. After all, you don’t get to see a king’s body lie in state every day.

The internment starts tomorrow at 10:30 AM UK time. Apparently, you can watch it on BBC Channel 4; this may be tricky from overseas. There is an official site for the burial here and the timetable of events is here. Dame Caroll Ann Duffy, the UK’s poet laureate, wrote a poem commemorating or celebrating Richard for his burial, which Benedict Cumberbatch will read. The mellifluous Cumberbatch is Richard’s 2nd cousin 16 times removed.

Richard’s reburial, like every other aspect of his life, has been controversial. The UK newspaper The Guardian published an editorial arguing that he should be buried with dignity. Even the location of his burial has been notoriously controversial. Westminster Abbey could not find space for him. His ancestors lost a suit to have him buried in York. Leicester is thrilled to be the site of his burial. They have built a new tourist center, featured above, and it has received 40,000 visitors since last July. Frankly, the tourist center looks gorgeous and, at least in the photo, looks like it will do the monarch justice.

640px-Grey_Friars_July_2013_excavation (2)

Grey Friars July 2013 excavation. Image: “snapperQ” Wikimedia Commons.

Fun Facts

Bow_Bridge_Richard_III_plaques

The Richard III society posted the smaller green plaque on Bow Bridge to clear up the local legend that people dug up Richard’s bones and threw them in the River. Image: Wikimedia Commons. Click to enlarge.

  • Archaeologist and screenwriter Philippa Langley raised £34,000 to locate Richard’s grave through “sheer will” as The Guardian puts it.
  • Shakespeare’s immortal line  “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” may not have been simply fiction. Curator Toby Capwell believes that Richard and his horse became stuck in mud around Bosworth field and that is when Henry Tudor’s men attacked.
  • Richard’s cathedral tomb cost $5 million dollars.
  • The tomb’s design will not be revealed until Friday, after Richard’s reburial.
  • In 1495, Henry VII paid roughly £60 for an alabaster or buff-colored tombstone to mark his slain predecessor’s grave.
  • Richard’s grave was found only 5 feet (1.6 meters) beneath the surface.
  • Richard’s remains were found exactly 500 years after his original burial. Ironically, his remains were found under a reserved parking spot with the letter “R” on it.

Links

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

2 Comments

  • Reply March 27, 2015

    Watcher on the Couch

    Well, I had no idea Benedict Cumberbatch had a family connection with Richard III. I saw the internment and sprinkling of earth on the coffin (I think Americans say ‘casket’) but not the whole event. The “Bow Bridge” in question is definitely in Leicester going by the above article (this refers to my post on another thread). Of course King Richard’s remains were found in Leicester so that is the logical place for it to be – I just wondered if the body had been moved to London at some time since its discovery, though admittedly I had heard nothing to that effect on the news.

    I might be able to watch some of the broadcast regarding the reburial retrospectively on BBC iplayer (though obviously not “live”. Some programmes are left on the iplayer for longer periods than others. Though as it’s getting towards the end of the month I have to watch how much of my internet allowance I use. I need a certain amount for work – if I go over my limit I can still use my internet access (providing there are no outages) but I will be charged extra if I do so.

    I live in the West Midlands, so theoretically travelling to the East Midlands to visit Leicester Cathedral should not be that difficult for me. I don’t have a car unfortunately though if I planned the day carefully as I have reached the age where I am entitled to a “bus pass” maybe I should make the effort some time in the not too distant future.

  • Reply April 10, 2015

    timetravellingbunny

    Well, it’s not hard to guess that Richard getting unhorsed was a pretty bad thing for him what with leading to him being surrounded by a bunch of enemies trying to kill him (and ultimately succeeding, of course), and that this was what Shakespeare’s rather funnily melodramatic line was referencing… But yep, it’s very fictional, since he sure wouldn’t be offering his kingdom, and contemporary sources say that he had said “Either I win today or I die as a king” before his last charge where he tried to kill Henry himself and almot succeeded in getting to him, killing one of his bodyguards and unhorsing another (as per Henry VII’s official historical Polydore Vergil) before being attacked by William Stanley’s men from behind as Stanley switched sides; and that the last words RIII was heard shouting was “Treason! Treason!” before being killed “in the thickest press of his enemies” (as evidenced by the examination of his wounds).

Leave a Reply