Who’s 528 Years Old and Still Making News?

Richard III

528 years after he died, Richard III is still making news.

If I may confess: I’m not a Shakespeare scholar. I love Macbeth but I’m not that well versed in Shakespeare’s other work.

However, I couldn’t help but think of Shakespeare last September when archeologists announced the discovery of what they thought was King Richard III’s skeleton beneath a parking lot in Leicester. The skeleton evidently showed signs of scoliosis (he wasn’t a hunchback). Battle wounds, still visible on the skeleton, matched those he was supposed to have suffered in the War of the Roses.

On February 4, 2013 archeologists announced that it was definite – the bones were those of the much maligned king.

Richard III, if you remember your history, was supposed to have been responsible for the deaths of the two princes locked up in the Tower of London. In 1674, during renovations to the White Tower, skeletons of two children were found beneath the staircase. In 1933, their graves in Westminster were opened and tests indicated that they were of the right age to have been the lost princes.

I couldn’t help but wonder if Richard III was feeling a little exposed at the moment. Then, my mind immediately sequed to Shakespeare’s play, Richard III. Two quotes seem particularly apt:

“Now is the winter of our discontent.” and “So wise so young, they say, do never live long.”

You know what I think is even more fascinating than finding Richard III’s skeleton? The man died in 1485. He’s 528 years old and he’s still making news.

What’s your favorite time in history?

Are you a Shakespeare buff?


17 thoughts on “Who’s 528 Years Old and Still Making News?”

  1. As a history major, I was absolutely thrilled when they found Richard III’s remains! It was so fascinating! As for Shakespeare, my undergrad university put on a Shakespeare play every year and I attended; I grew to love his works. In fact, I’d love to go see one of his plays now. But my current interest is medieval Scottish romances. Would love to read some medieval Irish or Viking romances too.

    • Rita, that brings up a question. Do you think so many people like the Regency period because we know it better than any other period, thanks to so many Regency books?

      I’m fascinated with the Victorian period for so many reasons, not the least are the wonderful inventions of the time. I’m not a fan of the old west, which is a pity living in the heart of history here in San Antonio. But the Civil War? So many important things happened here during the Civil War. I attended a function at a church not too long ago and was startled to discover that it was founded by a group of men, among them Robert E. Lee.

  2. It is fascinating that Richard III is still making news, but then we do have a fascination with the past. It’s still possible he was a murderer, most monarchs were even if they didn’t do it themselves. Admittedly, he probably was a victim of bad press. ; )
    You said he wasn’t a hunchback – it was actually determined that the scoliosis in his spine is what gave him the reputation of being one, so he was considered one. It was quite severe. He was so slight built that perhaps he sufferered from osteoporosis too. He did NOT, however, have a withered arm – Shakespeare’s exaggeration, I suppose.
    As an English major, I’ve examined all the works of Shakespeare. I wrote my senior thesis on the question of who actually wrote his works – my opinion is totally different from those who believe it was the Earl of Oxford. I got an A. ; )

    • It’s the people who make the past. I’m not nearly as interested in places as I am people.

      I have scoliosis and I never paid much attention to it. It was like, “You have brown eyes.” I don’t look any different from most people. Maybe I could blame it for my lousy dancing ability. Or the fact that I sometimes fall down (ahem). Richard III’s was probably severe, though.

      But, hey, on a related note, I do have Plantagenet fingers. All the women in my family have them. They’re not webbed; the longest finger curves markedly toward the little finger. I will never be a hand model. Sob.

      • From the pictures I saw of the skeleton found that they believe is Richard III, he had very severe scoliosis. His spine was shaped like an old time hand drill – I don’t know how he moved to fight.
        I remember as a teen, our health teachers telling us to switch shoulders occasionally when carrying our purses or book bags, so that we didn’t raise or lower one shoulder too much. There are lots of things that can cause a slight curvature of the spine. It’s a delicate structure.

        Plantagenet fingers, huh? So does this mean you’re descendent from the line of kings and queens? Perhaps we should call you Lady Karen – Flash is already Sir Barksalot. : )

  3. I’ve always enjoyed Shakespeare. It’s meanings can be dissected but I just enjoy the flow of the words. Last year I saw one of the comedies performed in a theatre in Staunton Virginia that is set up like the Globe (wished the bench seating was more comfortable). And the NJ Shakespeare Theatre at Drew University isn’t far from me. I used to go quite often, but haven’t been in a while – I’ll have to check their schedule.

    I’m fascinated by this idea that it wasn’t Will Shakespeare that was the author of the plays but that it may well have been the Earl of Oxford. That story was told in a very interesting movie a few years ago ‘Anonymous’ – have you seen it?

    • I have not seen Anonymous. Frankly, I was never a Shakespeare buff and I haven’t the slightest idea why not. However, I love several famous soliloquies and memorized them as a teenager. Of course, I memorized an awful lot of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edna St. Vincent Millay, too.

  4. I am a fan of the Regency era now. I have done Celtic Festivals dressed in period Irish and Scottish dress. I have been a Civil War re-enactor, camp dress to Balls. And yes, if you have not used a porta pottys in a hoop skirt you have not lived. That was even before the handicap ones they have now. Once I liked and read Shakespeare but not so much anymore.

    • Wow, Margaret – how fun to have been a re-enactor. I have, unfortunately, had an experience of doing the au naturale thing dressed in full costume but nothing as exciting as a hoop skirt. I can just imagine – and the image of it popping over my head is one I’m having right now.

  5. I used to be a Shakespeare buff. When I was in the fifth grade in Connecticut, my teacher started a Shakespeare Club for 5th and 6th graders. We would read a play throughout the year and then in the spring, we would attend the performance of that play at the Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, CT. I loved it. The first play we read was The Taming of the Shrew and it is still my favorite. I did continue to read Shakespeare until college. Then I read only what was required. lol
    As a history major, I have a hard time pinpointing a favorite era. My favorite during elementary school and high school was probably the early Egyptian period. The pyramids fascinated me and I wanted to be an archeologist. However, I am claustrophobic and going into a cave or pyramid or anything underground was not a good career plan. In college, I loved my Renaissance and Reformation class. Since I started reading historical romance, I do gravitate more toward the Regency period.

    • What a great teacher!

      I think my favorite play is Macbeth because I saw it performed by the Royal Shakespeare Theater. The stage was completely empty but for a large sheet of metal hanging down at the back. At certain places during the play someone behind the scenes would shake it and it would sound like the most ominous thunder. Riveting performance. Loved every moment of it.

      I, too, had a period of wanting to be an archeologist, which came in handy when I was writing The Eyes of Love. You’re right, claustrophobia would have definitely hampered your career. (Do you have a problem with elevators?)

  6. Shakespeare buff? Not hardly. I just can’t figure out any of it. I guess that makes me a heathen.

    My favorite time in history is the Regency period.

    • Ah, my favorite heathen. If in heaven we don’t meet, hand in hand, we’ll stand the heat.

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