History Matters: New Ricardian Lies?

On BBC Look North last night, I saw something that had me spitting feathers: children at a York primary school are petitioning the Queen for Richard III’s remains to be reburied in York.

I have no problem with that – I’ve signed such a petition myself. What I have a BIG problem with is the reasons they were giving, like, ‘Richard III came from York’. No, he didn’t – he was born at Fotheringhay in the Midlands. Or, ‘It was his dying wish to be buried in York.’ Um – I doubt he had time to wish anything before the back of his head was cleaved off, except perhaps to reach Henry Tudor and kill him.

This suggests several things, none of them very pleasant. Had the children grossly misunderstood their lesson? If so, it’s not a very good advert for the school or the history teacher. Were they simply repeating what they had been told? Judging from some of the howlers I’ve overheard teachers feeding their classes, I could well believe it: pointing to the Close around Salisbury Cathedral, ‘this is a ‘typical village green’; to a 20th century repro door, ‘see how well the wood is preserved’; or to a low doorway, ‘that’s because people in the Middle Ages were all very small’ (conjuring images of an England populated by hobbits). Again, very scary; teachers hardly better-informed than their pupils passing on rubbish. Or, worst of all, had they been deliberately lied to, emotionally manipulated to turn them into York partisans and bring their school into the media spotlight?

Whatever, this pile of total tosh has now been aired on a prime-time local news programme, and no doubt some non-history-buff viewers will believe it, perhaps now petition for a York reburial themselves – but for the wrong reasons. And while I’d be happy indeed to see the Lord of the North return to Yorkshire, I don’t want it to be on the back of such outrageous misinformation… God knows, we’ve had enough of that for the past 528 years.

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8 thoughts on “History Matters: New Ricardian Lies?

  1. I do agree – but at the same time I am glad he is even being mentioned!! My grand son’s school had me choking in rage … on the wall of their playground is a frieze with all the kings and queens of England on so of course I looked for Richard. I had to look about 3 times because I couldn’t see his portrait but there he was just before Tudor, pictured as an Elizabethan complete with ruff round his neck – it was him because it said his name underneath!!! I went looking for a teacher to point this out and she just shrugged and said ” we have no control over what we get sent” grrrrrrrrrr! Luckily all of my grandchildren know all there is to know about Richard lll 🙂

    • well yes – it’s great that his existence, and pride in local connections with him – is now known even to young children. a lot better than seeing him decked out as a Tudor – argh! am surprised the archaeologists didn’t find evidence for him spinning in his grave…

    • there’s a tomb thought by some to be edward of middleham – but yes, there is dispute about it. i’ve seen an article about it somewhere – maybe in richard iii soc bulletin?

    • you are too kind, mr g! and i’ll watch that link… after i’ve cooked my husband’s tea – (sighs) – the woes of a ‘writing housewife’!!

      • hmm… i don’t know why i’ve started coming up on here as ‘silver fox’. it’s me. silver fox is me, helen, the author…

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