Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Richard III: the new evidence

Back when I was young and naive, I thought that Richard III of England, a famous villain, had been hard done by. Part of it was the belief, common among "Ricardians," that the evil king had been slandered by his enemies, who said that he was a hunchback, the physical distortion reflecting his twisted soul.

I pretty quickly came to the conclusion that Richard was much like any other royal thug in an unstable kingdom. But the idea that Richard was the victim of a disinformation campaign -- that made sense to me.

Years later, Richard III's body was found in Leicester. (People always say "buried in a car park," but the the tomb was originally inside a prominent church). Guess what! Richard did have a bad case of scoliosis, namely a twisted spine. Experts who examined the skeleton had to wonder, whether the one good thing even his enemies were willing to grant him, courage and skill at arms, could possibly be true. A very interesting research project located a living Briton with a very similar case of scoliosis. This man, hight Dominic Smee, was put through his paces. He learned to ride a warhorse, wear armor, fight on foot and on horseback, and was tested for general fitness.

 Guess what!

Mr.Smee did very well. He did have some restrictions on his breathing due to his asymmetrical rib cage, but he was quite capable otherwise.

Guess what Mr. Smee did for fun, before he became the dead king's body double?
He was a reenactor at the Battle of Bosworth historic site.

There is a very interesting documentary on the subject here.>

Image: Larry Olivier as the evil king.

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