Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Poor Richard III, still getting the short end of the stick

"Richard III" Society of Antiquaries, ca. 1515 AD

Imagine you are the devout Catholic king of a famous country until one day you are killed in a battle, which your side loses.  Imagine further that the guy who led the other side in the battle becomes king.  That much seems seems fair enough.  The other guy's son also becomes king after him, which also seems fair.  However, one of the most important things the son does is to start a new religion that everybody in the kingdom is forced to join.   Meanwhile, your body is never recovered from the battlefield, and remains lost for centuries.  Finally, your body is found, under a parking lot.  [A reader kindly points out that Richard's body was indeed recovered from Bosworth field and buried in Greyfriars church, Leicester.   Henry VIII, the son of the guy who defeated Richard, dissolved the friary in 1538 and sold the real estate to developers.  The developers demolished the buildings and sold off the stones, making it much harder to figure out where Richard's body lay, which is how eventually a parking lot came to be placed above it.] 

Everyone agrees that your bones should be interred with suitable ceremony.   Would you want that ceremony to be according to the rites of the Catholic religion, the religion you practiced devoutly, or according to the rites of some crazy new religion started by the son of the guy who defeated you in the battle in which you got killed?   You'd want Catholic rites, right?   Well, so undoubtedly would King Richard III (1452 - 1485 AD), to whom all the things in my imaginary story actually happened, but that's not what he's going to get.


  1. Richard received a proper funeral mass when he was originally buried in 1485. It might not have been the big, fancy affair people seem to want now, but to say he didn't get the proper rites then (just because you don't like the outcome of the Battle of Bosworth) is to smear the good brothers of the Franciscan friary where he was buried. They placed him in a place of honor, in their choir. Are you going to accuse them of negligence, of burying someone in their choir, on consecrated ground, without proper rites?

    As for the reinterment ceremonies in March, the highest ranking officiants in both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church will be conducting ceremonies & there will be a special requiem mass said for Richard in a Catholic Church by the Archbishop of Westminster. Don't buy into the pro-Yorkist argument. They are only trying to stir this controversy up because Richard is being re-interred in Leicester, where he was originally buried. Had he be going to York, they wouldn't care less if the Catholic Church was involved.

    1. Dear DG,
      I don't believe I accused any Franciscans of negligence nor did I knowingly smear any.
      As for Richard's reinternment ceremonies, I expect Richard would find them objectionable for the reasons given in the post.
      Thank you for the comment.

    2. We do not know if Richard did receive any rites. . . by the state of his grave, it appears that he was buried in a hurry, Tudor soldiers may have been rushing the Friars to get the job done quick - the barest minimum. It does no harm to give him full Catholic Rites now, the Rites he very well deserved and would expect - just in case.

    3. Blancsanglier,

      Thank you for the comment.

    4. Dear DG,
      Richard was buried in a Greyfriars (Augustinian) friary. The friary was dissolved by Henry VIII, which is how Richard's choir grave came to be a parking lot.
      Inigo Hicks

    5. Inigo, I know very well how Richard's grave ended up under asphalt. Greyfriars belonged to the Franciscans, an order Richard's family had very close ties to. The Augustinians had Leicester Abbey, where it is believed Cardinal Wolsey was buried. Regardless, to say that Richard needs a requiem mass now suggests you don't think he got one then. In fact, you thanked a commenter for saying just that. So, yes, you are accusing Franciscan friars of burying someone in their choir & not administering the proper rites. The position of the Roman Catholic Church today is that he did receive the proper rites at the time, even if they were rushed. Those involved in planning the services & ceremonies have put a lot of time in making sure that everyone feels included. The *ONLY* reason there is any complaint about which denomination gets to conduct the services in Leicester Cathedral is that a certain small but vocal group didn't get what they wanted, & they are bound & determined to spoil it for everyone else. Don't fall into that trap.

    6. Dear DG,
      It seems Richard's own wishes as to rite have been given light consideration. And if the proper rites have already been administered, what is the the point of these new ones?
      Thank you for the comment.