In my soppy southerner way I have always felt vaguely sorry for Richard III. I have tended, lazily, to swallow whole the notion that ‘our Will’ traduced his character in his eponymous play as a means of currying favour with the Tudors who moved in and, so to speak, ‘took over the block’ after Richard was slaughtered at Bosworth. Slanderous vilification of the Yorkist house would have tickled ‘good’ Queen Bess no end and ‘our Will’ was always meticulous in keeping in with the current regime despite whatever private thoughts he might have entertained.
So, I was slightly surprised at the barrage of criticism aimed at the perpetrators of the parade through Leicester on Sunday in which Richard’s bones were born in state and placed in Leicester Cathedral to await reburial on Thursday Two historians, Michael Thornton in The Mail and Sean McClynn in ‘The Speccie’, lay into the loonies, as they call them, of the Richard III Society and remind the rest of us that ‘His late Maj’ was not only a wholesale murderer but also, crime of crimes these days, a ‘kiddie-winkie’ killer!
So, perhaps ‘our Will’, sly fellow though he was, might have been nearer the truth in his entertaining play than I had supposed. In the meantime, I really ought to brush up on my Plantagenet history but, dammit, it's so complicated it's like trying to straighten out a bowl of spaghetti! Anyway, now for sure is 'the winter of Richard's discontent'!