Richard III: History or Histrionics?

One of my pet hates is hysterical hyperbole, the sort of thing frequently indulged in by sports commentators – for instance, a tragedy is when somebody loses their life, not a ruddy football match.

So the other day I found myself unable to feel sorry for a person who, apparently, will carry the scars of recent experience to their grave. Now, I would have sympathised if the writer had been a Syrian refugee, or bereaved in the recent spate of mass shootings in America and France, or had endured any of the other myriad horrors that would justify someone claiming to be scarred for life; but the source of this individual’s trauma is – yes, you guessed it – the treatment of Richard III since the unearthing of his remains three years ago.

Oh, to live in a world where the worst thing that happened was the analysis of a 530-year-old skeleton, publication of the results, and a reburial in a location some folk don’t like! A world where no-one has to flee their home for fear of being raped, enslaved or murdered by a vile apocalyptic death-cult; where no children or animals are tortured and abused; where people suffering painful or distressing illnesses are allowed to die with dignity in their own homes at a time of their own choosing- I could go on, but you get my drift. Alas, that’s not our world – and given the terrible reality of so many people’s lives, I find Scarred Writer’s melodramatic self-indulgence utterly repellent.

Hang on, you might say. Everyone’s entitled to their emotional responses; if this person feels permanently scarred then scarred they indeed are. Yet there can be a fine line between the average, ‘normal’ response to a situation and a gross over-reaction which merits being treated with a metaphorical slap round the head and a crisp, ‘Get over yourself.’ Trust me on this – I speak as a recovered depressive who once had to be physically restrained by my then partner in a dispute over- um, ownership of a slice of toast (blushes). My feelings might have been very real to me at the time, but that doesn’t mean they were appropriate or proportionate to the circumstances – which I suggest is the case here.

This puts me firmly in Scarred Writer’s camp of half-hearted, patronising Ricardians – that is, anyone capable of taking a more moderate stance on events since 2012, or who dares to say that it’s time to move on rather than nurturing that grievance and whipping up yet another tedious war of words to spread and perpetuate ill-feeling within a small community of interest. Actually, I’d go further: I’m not half-hearted, I’m hard-hearted enough to be glad that Richard III’s physical being is now so intimately known, and that he has a nice tomb which isn’t prohibitively expensive for me to visit (as it would be in Westminster Abbey or York Minster). I’m also hard-headed enough to recognise that he would have been a hot commercial property wherever he was laid to rest, and to find nothing dismaying in a provincial city’s delight that they’re making a few quid from being catapulted onto the historical tourism map.

Yes, I care more about history than hysterics… which is why, if Scarred Writer represents the prevailing view within this particular Ricardian community, I shall quietly bow out of it. It isn’t an environment I wish to stay in… and somehow I doubt that they’ll miss me!

6 thoughts on “Richard III: History or Histrionics?

  1. Helen, it is always a joy to read you. I don’t know who Scarred Writer is but does she know that Abraham Lincoln’s bones bones were once stolen once. Things happen. If a person believes in an afterlife have a mass said or say a prayer or rosary for Richard or the Czar’s family, or Eva Peron, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, or whoever. It sounds like Richard was more interested in his soul being prayed for than a burial place. (Even members of the Mob in Chicago wanted prayers.)

    If a person doesn’t believe in an afterlife support can be given to spinal research, or other research. Growing up in his situation must have rough but growing up in the projects in Chicago
    or England could be just as bad. (Here in Rockford right now, gangs seem to be deciding who is
    going to control the narcotics traffic.

    Richard was not an evil monster, but he was not St.Francis. He did what he needed to do to survive.

    I’m sorry if some people were insulted because I listed Native Americans.

  2. You are quite right, From a world perspective there are far worse things to worry about than the burial place of an English king. I would have thought that on the whole his supporters would be happy he’d been found and accorded the respect a monarch should get albeit a bit late. Some people are never happy.

  3. As a long time Richardian I agree with you. I am pleased that the bones were found, appropriate research done, then the remains reburied with suitable ceremony in the most practical location. There is no real evidence for York and Anne is somewhere in Westminster, which is pretty full anyway.

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