Before I make my compromise proposal, I will give a recap of my post back in August of last year.? I wrote about the legal battle over the skeleton of Richard III, who? had been killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field, near Leicester, while battling Henry Tudor (soon to be Henry VII) in 1485.? His mutilated body was buried in a graveyard in the Greyfriars church in Leicester (no cathedral burial for Richard).? When Henry VIII disbanded the monasteries, the friary was seized and sold.? Eventually, poor Richard’s grave was destroyed and forgotten.? Sic transit gloria.
Vilified by Shakespeare’s masterful propaganda piece, Richard III, as a man of a twisted body, mind and soul, he came to be considered the epitome of cruel, ruthless ambition.? However, in the last century several groups were formed to promote a more sympathetic view of Richard.? In 2011, the oldest one, the Richard III Society, began a search and, eventually, found Richard under a green 1987 Mini Cooper.? Well, not exactly, but he had been paved over for a parking lot, so he might have been under one at some point.? Anyway, the government, Leicester City Council, the University of Leicester, Leicester Cathedral, York Minster, and the Richard III Society all agreed to let Richard lie in Leicester Cathedral.? He was even to get a table tomb, like many more beloved English monarchs.? It looked like Richard might rest in peace.
Enter the Plantagenet Alliance.? The word Plantagenet evidently was a nickname given to Geoffrey of Anjou because he wore a sprig of the broom plant (genista) in his bonnet, planted brooms to provide cover for his hunting grounds or for some unknown reason lost in the mists of time.? Not long after he went to the happy hunting grounds, his son became Henry II of England in 1154.? Three centuries later, Richard, Duke of York, called himself Richard Plantaginet (sic) when he took the throne and was the last Plantagenet king.? After Richard was disinterred in 2012, some fifteen collateral descendants (not direct-line, but from a relative) formed the Plantagenet Alliance to stop the Leicester contingent from having his bones.? (Too bad Geoffrey hadn’t been nicknamed Broom.? The Broom Alliance would have been funnier).? The Alliance said they should decide and York Minster was their choice.? Other proposals cropped up, including Westminster Abbey and the Worksop Priory Church.? That last, little-known place was proposed by the MP from that region, claiming it was a good compromise because it was located halfway between Leicester and York.? I’m sure it had nothing to do with the expected ?4,000,000 in tourist revenues from Richard’s bones.? The courts recently ruled that Richard would stay in Leicester, saying that there was “no direct evidence of any definitive wishes expressed by Richard III as to his place of burial.”? The Alliance is threatening an appeal.? The Mayor of Leicester has said, “Those bones leave Leicester over my dead body.”? Lawyers’ fees could outstrip tourist revenue if something is not done.? So I have a proposal: divvy Richard up.
Many saints of the church have a bone here and another one there, known as relics and often stored in a fancy container known as a reliquary.? Take St. Oswald, a sanctified king of 7th century Northumbria.? Originally buried at Bardney Abbey, three of his bones are still there, or so they say.? Peterborough Cathedral claims an arm and monasaries across England (Bath, Glastonbury, Reading, St. Albans, Christchurch (Hants), Tynemouth and York) say they have a bone or two.??Hildesheim, Germany, built a shrine that supposedly houses his head,? All of these locations got some play from the pilgrimage crowd.? Many others, including St. Andrew, St. Paul, and St. Thomas ? Becket, are scattered as well.? Why not Richard?? While I would not call Richard a saint (all indicators point to him having killed his young nephews for the throne and had at least a couple of affairs), it would end the legal haggling and expenses of those involved to follow those precedents.? Put his rib cage (heart) in Westminster Abbey, near his wife Anne Neville.? His head (brain) should go to York, where he plotted his rise to power.? His pelvis is a different matter.? He had two, maybe three, illegitimate children of unknown mothers.? Since John of Gloucester was the most famous one, let Gloucester Cathedral have his pelvis until better claimants arise.? As for the rest of his bones, bury them at Leicester.? Well, except for his right hand.? I’m sure Richard would want that to go to St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, in front of the tomb of Henry VII, middle pointing skyward.
To date, the royals have abstained from? commenting on where should Richard’s final resting place should be.? I suppose they feel they have had enough embarrassment in the press for verbal faux pas in the past and are lying low.? But now is the time to act, before the nation descends into a civil war to rival the so-called War of the Roses.? Send Richard’s bones to be ambassadors of good will and financial gain to the far regions of England.? I know he would have a good laugh about that.