Friday, August 8, 2014

"Out History the Historians! or Saving Richard III"

The Flag of Yorkshire Saints.
The flag takes its colors from the shield of the arms of two local Yorkshire saints. Wilfrid (blue) and William (gold). William was martyred in 1154 via poisoning and so a Christian cross is present. Maybe it is time to fly this Flag
once more over Richard III. He certainly spent most of his youth riding beneath its banner.
Since he is to be buried in Leicester, maybe this should be draped over his sarcophagus?
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.



     There has been a very nice response from the public to my last posting about Richard III. Thank you each and everyone who took the time to read, let alone comment. As most of you know I am the founder and editor of Modern Medievalist on Facebook. I posted the article on my page, and one of my readers brought something to my attention, that had slipped my grasp. We who are outraged at what has been done to Richard III and the terrible foisting off of propaganda have been focused on the slights and injuries he has been subject to, instead of focusing on what can be done instead.

    What can be done? Can we remove him from durance vile? Doubtful at best. Even if someone of the stature of HM the Queen should take an interest, Her Majesty is not above the law. But that doesn't mean that nothing can be done. In fact quite the opposite can be done actually. A friend living in Scotland said, we needed to "Out History the Historians." -I rather liked that sentiment. And since Leicester has been determined to set the bar of excellence so very low, I don't think it is a goal that cannot be achieved.

      As my reader put it, and I am paraphrasing her reply here, "Take over a failed chip shop or storefront that is as close to the Leicester Historical Center and create a time sensitive display of what a Royal Sarcophagus should look like, create a chapel within the shop, showing the general public what a Monarch of England should have as his final resting place. Bring in experts in Art, Armour, Weapons, Clothing and Textiles. Create a board to oversee the "counter historical center," take the monies earned and fold it back into the center until it outshines in authenticity that horrid place. I would visit the current center for five minutes. Something that is truly sensitive and 
historically accurate? I would spend hours in."

     I think the Ricardian Supporters have been going about this not necessarily the wrong way, I just think and I am including myself in this, that we have been blinded by not seeing the forest for the trees in front of us. It is time to beat the blighters at their own game!-(Sorry about that couldn't help myself there.)

    My lovely dainty great aunt from Texas used to say, "Something is only as special as we make it out to be." As I have aged in this life, I have found that to be so very true. Where does that leave us then? I have made inquiries with the fine folks at Kickstart. This idea of building a counter historical center is not even a full 24 hours old. However I believe it has merit. The people who believe history has once again suffered a sever miscarriage of justice can once more have an opportunity to create something worth celebrating.

     I am American and as such have been dismissed out of hand because of my birth, but this is our shared history, as I have ancestors who fought in the War of the Roses and regardless of York or Lancaster it is our heritage and our right as descendants of those who fought, to see that it is treated with respect and dignity. So it is time to gird up our loins and be prepared to fight a different campaign, while taking the high road. If the Ricardians of the world work together they can steal a march on those who are only interested in profit for profit's sake.

    One expert who also happens to be an American did a great deal of work and effort preparing a presentation of what historical arms and armour would have looked like at the time of the Battle of Bosworth. I leave his name out as of this writing as I have not consulted to see if I have his permission to use his name. Regardless his presentation and more importantly his scholarly reputation, and expertise were cast aside in favor of a Carling-(c) Lager Can propped up in the corner. (I hope the Carling Beer Company will forgive what I consider an unfavorable comparison.) 

You be the judge... Suit of Armour with
Christmas Eve Party Crown?









Or can of Lager beer? Which would you prefer representing your monarch? The sweat shop horror or the can of beer? Since crass commercialism is in play I would go for
the beer can.













 
     I would be ashamed to hold my head up in public, when it was discovered that the entire team of experts who had been assembled to undertake the expedition to retrieve Richard III revolted. Or when it was discovered that Plagiarism is no longer a crime so long as it relates to historical documents. I am referring of course to the moving quote York wrote about the loss of their king, that was used in the Leicester center that gave the impression of being written by the city of Leicester. 
    I digress... One of my readers informed me he had made several inquiries into what a cast bronze effigy, wearing historical arms and armour would cost, and startling enough, it would have cost less than what the Kleenex-(c) Tissue Box Dispenser is costing the subjects of the crown. I know many of Britain's armour smiths would gladly create something to show what a real suit or harness would look like. To tell the truth the artistic endeavors would in all likelihood pour in from all over the globe.

    Lastly there is a chance to once more celebrate what English history is all about. Hold a festive tournament in his honor the week before the anniversary of the battle of Bosworth. Make it a big deal! Celebrate with all the pomp and circumstances that only the British people can do. Invite every single reenactment house that participates in the various War of the Roses events. Have them conduct archery competitions, dismounted combat exhibitions, with marches and drills.Let the reenactors show interpretive displays, have them line up before the Jousters and parade before them in the list, with their flags and banners flying! Make the weekend, the premier Medieval History weekend on the calendar. Let them show that although Leicester might have his body, they do not posses his Honor or his future! Let the reenactors and jousters shout, "Out History the Historians!"

     Eventually I would see monies being sent north to York. Let the center support York Minister as Richard III did in his lifetime. Establish an endowment for college bound youth who wish to study history. If all of these things can be done for Leicester, then a healthy bit of competition should eventually make those in Leicester either sit up and take notice or come to their senses and allow the King to be interred in neutral ground with the proper rights. I would suspect if anyone in authority asked nicely, Pope Francis just might hop on a commercial flight and hail a cab to perform a high mass... or at least give a showing for a Catholic Monarch.

-DS Baker