Over five centuries ago a stupid, hot headed, some say despotic young British King decided to confront his enemy at Bosworth Field and charged into the front line of battle without his helmet. In no time at all his naked head was pierced, probably with a sword, and down he went breathing his last into the mud.
We all know what happened next. His naked remains were dragged through the mud and unceremoniously buried, while his nobility, the ones he had expected to charge into battle with him, looked on from a safe distance and then rode off to declare allegiance to the next in line to the throne of England, the first of the Tudor kings.
This week, 530 years later, the last of the Plantagenet Kings, Richard 111, in an elaborately decorated coffin made by one of his living relatives, lay in State in Leicester Anglican Cathedral where thousands flocked for the privilege of walking past it.
This was followed by his interment on Thursday in the Cathedral conducted by a Northern Ireland clergyman Reverend David Monteith, its Dean. A Catholic English King buried by an Ulster prod. I suppose you couldn’t make it up. How many of our local clergy get to bury a Royal King?
Earlier, an extremely reverent crowd stood in the streets throwing white Yorkist roses as the coffin passed on the way to the cathedral. One even cried out ‘God Save King Richard’. No doubt he was revered in this part of the world. The entire place was dripping with reverence on Sunday for a king with a tarnished reputation. Half a millennia is long enough I suppose to turn a child murderer into a saint.
I have a different theory to most on why Richard 111 threw himself into a certain death without a helmet or properly attired soldiers to protect him.
I support historian Dr David Starkey’s theory that Richard was responsible for the deaths of his nephews the little Princes in the Tower one of whom was the real King in waiting. Starkey rightly says that most previous Kings of the time had engineered their way to the Throne by doing away with the rightful heirs which, in those days, were often children too young to rule.
Richard, aching to be King, had put the Princes in the Tower supposedly for their own protection. In those days many who went into the Tower never came out again which was the fate of the little boys.
Richard was a clever man with a good legal brain who had a history of bravery in battle. But did he finally have a conscience and it was that that led to his death? Kings in those days were surrounded by scoundrel types prepared to do the dirty work that would see their man achieve King-ly aspirations.
There was a lot of money and power for those who made things happen for their King and Richard undoubtedly wanted rid of the imprisoned Princes. He finally took the Throne and the boys, his brother’s children, were never heard of again.
Did his conscience finally prick him so much he went into depression? Why else would he have gone into battle without a helmet? Did he want a quick death to end his personal agony? It’s a thought.