Late this August a team of scientists corralled by Leicester University came across what they now believe to be the skeleton of Richard III. Pending some affirmative results from a series of DNA tests which are currently comparing samples from the dig to saliva taken from the medieval monarch’s living descendents, this could represent a truly momentous discovery. The find has sparked a volley of calls to honor Richard’s well-documented request for his funeral to take place at York Minster. Following a parliamentary discussion which took place last week, it’s starting to look an awful lot like these freshly rediscovered remains could instead be destined for a Leicester Cathedral burial.
Plainly the Leicester University team have done invaluable work in discovering what now looks likely to be a regal cadaver, and Leicester would certainly be a logistically expedient choice of burial ground for Richard III. Look past these points however, and the argument for interring the bones at Leicester Cathedral seems flimsy, lazy even.
It’s probably quite reasonable to suggest that Leicester would have harbored a few rather upsetting associations for the late Richard III. The legend goes that on his final mortal visit to the midlands town, this most enduringly fascinating head of the House of York was warned by a seer ”where your spur should strike on the ride into battle, your head shall be broken on the return”, and though it looks like it was an arrow to the torso that put paid to the king, it does seem certain that it was at the nearby battle of Bosworth Field that his life (and with it the whole Plantagenet dynasty) was brought to a bloody conclusion. You get the impression he might not have wanted to hang around in that neck of the woods for all eternity.
By comparison, York must have seemed a haven for the monarch, whose popularity here was widespread (and still remains so – we even have a museum to prove it). And as The Richard III Foundation founder Joe Ann Ricca told the BBC following justice minister Helen Grant’s announcement in parliament, the government’s choice of Leicester Cathedral is “kind of a monstrous act when you know that the former king of England had expressed the desire and a wish to be buried at York Minster.”
Where do you think the King should be buried?