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Late Night: Richard III Emerges From Under Tarmac and Libel

Truth Is the Daughter of Time

The last Plantagenet king, a man whose enemies had centuries to malign him virtually unchallenged but whose fellow Yorkshire folk knew his true nature, has been found under the tarmac of a Leicester parking lot, thanks to the dedication of Philippa Langley:

Today marks the culmination of an extraordinary journey of discovery. When I embarked on the Looking For Richard project 4 years ago – the quest to find a king in a car park – almost everyone thought I was mad. Let’s face it, it’s not the easiest pitch in the world – to look for a king under a council car park – but luckily the R3 Soc, LCC, and the University, as well as C4 and DSP – partners with vision, came on board.

But, as we got ready to look for Richard, at the 11th hour one of our funding bodies pulled. The dig was to be cancelled so, together with writer Annette Carson we launched an international appeal. The search for Richard was saved by donations from around the world, but they also gave the project its mandate when they said – search for him – find him – honour him.

Strange thing to say for Richard III – honour him …?

Richard III gave us the system of bail and opened up the printing industry, giving us books and the freedom of information. He also initiated – and applied – the legal principles of the Presumption of Innocence and Blind Justice. It is ironic then that Richard is still presumed guilty of the murder of his nephews, until proven innocent, even though there is no evidence that points to him having killed them.

The Richard III Society is founded on a simple principle – that truth is more powerful than lies. It also considers that when investigating someone you have 2 sources – those that knew them, and those that didn’t. They believe that your primary source must always be those that knew them.

“After Richard’s death at Bosworth the men of the north who had known Richard – man and boy – described him thus: The most famous Prince of blessed memory.

In the intervening centuries since King Richard’s death many have told his story, not least Shakespeare and the Tudor writers. But now, here today, it is Richard who has finally been able to reveal himself.

When Richard’s body was stripped naked at Bosworth his physical condition, his scoliosis, became known, and it was used to insult and degrade him. Today we know that a physical abnormality is not a sign of evil. We find this idea abhorrent. We are no longer in the Tudor mind-set.

On Channel 4 this evening, and tomorrow morning at the R3 Soc conference, you will see Richard’s face for the very first time through the facial reconstruction by Prof Caroline Wilkinson of the University of Dundee. The 2 dimensional caricature promoted by the Tudors, will be no more.

In September 2010, the Looking For Richard project commissioned the design of a tomb based upon Richard’s life and what was important and meaningful to him. Undertaken by a team of Ricardians, it has been welcomed by the cathedral, council and R3 Soc and will be revealed in the next few weeks. The first donation of £10,000 has already been received.

The discovery of King Richard is an historic moment when the history books will be rewritten … a wind of change is blowing … one that will now seek out the truth about the real Richard III.

And as regards our mandate from those around the world: We have searched for Richard, and we have found him – it is now time to honour him.

The text on the screen is the Act of Parliament that settled the crown upon King Richard and his heirs – all copies of which Henry Tudor tried to destroy.

‘Be it pronounced, decreed, and declared, that our said Sovereign Lord, the King was, and is, very and undoubted King of England.’

Titulus Regius was the Act of Parliament that made Richard King of England, and which the French-backed Henry Tudor had repealed without being read (and possession of which Henry made a crime punishable by imprisonment, as Henry sought to destroy every copy and forbade even any mention of it), is one of the key pieces of evidence showing why it would have made no sense for Richard — and every bit of sense for Henry — to have killed Richard’s nephews. In the weeks, months and years after his seizing the throne, Henry certainly made a point of killing or imprisoning every other Plantagenet he could find that might possibly threaten his shaky claim on the throne, male and female, including Richard’s illegitimate son John; killing Edward Plantagenet’s sons would not have given him any qualms.

Crossposted from Mercury Rising

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