Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Missing: One King....

If you've been watching the news, you know that archaeologists in England have just identified a skeleton uncovered beneath a Leicester city car park as the long-lost remains of King Richard III.

The timing is rather ironic, since I'm in the midst of plotting the tenth in the Sebastian St. Cyr series (tentatively entitled Who Buries the Dead) and it coincidentally involves the rediscovery of another missing king--in this instance, Charles I. Charles, who lost his head in 1649 in the midst of the English Civil War, was another unlucky royal whose mortal remains went walkabout. They were found in the spring of 1813, when workmen accidently poked a hole in the tomb of Henry VIII. Authorities peered through the opening, expecting to see only two coffins--Henry's and Jane Seymour's. Instead, there were three. Fortunately for those Regency officials--who didn't have the wonders of DNA to confirm poor Charles's identity--the coffin was labeled. Plus, there was enough of Charles left that those familiar with his portraits could identify his head (yes, it was in there, too).

Interestingly, the whereabouts of Edward IV was also lost until he was accidentally rediscovered in 1789. Which makes me wonder, just how many other post-Conquest kings and queens have gone missing?

Update: It seems four other English kings are also missing: Henry, son of William the Conqueror and Stephen were both buried in monastic institutions that were destroyed under Henry VIII. Also missing is Edward V, the nephew that Richard may or may not have murdered. Someone did away with him and stashed him supposedly under steps in the Tower. A boy's bones were found there in the 17th century, but their authenticity is problematic. The final missing king is James II, who was buried in France. During the Revolution, his body and various parts suffered the same fate as that of other royals and aristocrats entombed there. Seems there's a book, The Royal Tombs of Great Britain, that goes into all sorts of ghoulish detail, although I haven't seen it.

Images credited to the University of Leicester.


paz said...

"Fortunately" there was enough of Charles left...? I would rather say "gruesomely"!!!

I have always been very uncomfortable with exhibits of human remains. (The Smithsonian had one such bones of a young Peruvian girl at one time). Of course, poor Richard is far far removed from caring, I am sure...

Jessica said...

I have been interested in Richard III for a very long time (thank you Josephine Tey & Sharon Kay Penman), so I'm finding this all incredibly interesting, especially the facial reconstruction.

I hope this prompts historians to take another look at Richard, without the Shakespearean overtones (I'm not convinced of his guilt in his nephews' death, among other things).

cs harris said...

Paz, yes it evidently was quite a sight--I didn't go into the gory details; the "fortunately" was intended to refer only to the label "Charles I" ! I also have problems with the public display of human remains, which is strange since I dug up so many when I was working as an archaeologist. My attitude is, Study them and then respectfully rebury them.

Jessica, have you visited the University of Leicester's website? They have a lot of information/videos up there. I agree Shakespeare demonized him, but I don't think he was very charming in real life. And at least we now know his severely deformed back was real.

Anonymous said...

I think the finding is just fascinating. I've read all the Sharon K Penman novels and just loved them. The scoliosis on the skeleton is just amazing - how large the curvature is. I also loved seeing the re-creation of his head from the skull. Less than a month left for What Darkness Brings. I can't even contemplate starting to think about your next ones until I've read that one. Sabena

Jessica said...

I have not visited the University of Leicester's site, but I will make a point to do so. I definitely agree he was ruthless enough to take power. I just think he wasn't the devil in disguise :).

And yes, that was a heck of a spine curvature.

LOgalinOR said...

Ms. Harris,
Utterly fascinating info! The stuff that can lead to lies, long and short tales (real and not so real), and legends and so on. One quick question, wasn't the 10th St. Cyr book at one time, in one of your previous posts, initially titled "Why Kings Confess"?
The countdown is on for What Darkness Brings! Absolutely chomping at the bit, can't wait!!!

Charles Gramlich said...

I heard about this. Rather cool. Amazing too. Forensic science is rather fascinating.

Liz said...

This made big news here in Canada, partly because the DNA of a Canadian was used, partly because we still have the monarchy and monarchists still abound (except for in Quebec). When I first read it, I immediately thought of Hero and her interest in cataloging the remains of the monastic houses. FYI, as a knitwear designer, I can't help but be interested in Charles I--his very beautiful silk waistcoat, worn at his execution, has been preserved as an example of fine-gauge brocade knitting (bloodstains and all!)

oldcelt said...

Have seen rumours online that the next one to look for would be Alfred. Not sure how serious this is.

cs harris said...

Sabena, I know, there's always a weird disconnect when I'm starting a new book and my readers are two books behind me.

Jessica, I would think he lived in agony from that back.

LOgalinOR, Why KIngs Confess is #9; the book I'm just starting will be #10. I know I get confused myself all the time.

Charles, it's fascinating stuff.

Liz, I did not know they took off his waistcoat; how bizarre. I wonder why?

oldcelt, I wish they'd DNA the bones that might belong to the Princes in the Tower. Although I suspect there's not much left.

Jan Power said...

I have been very emotional about this because of loving The Sunne in Splendor. It is one of the first books in my hard copy library I duplicated in Kindle (Sebastian's were first Candy :) ). That he would participate in battle with that deformity, can you imagine the pain he endured? Tina Brown pointed out his skeletal remains would make one think he was destined for the Special Olympics, yet there he was on horseback, leading the Battle of Bosworth.

My love of history dated from this York family. I was so intrigued by the story of George choosing to die in a vat of malmsey and Elizabeth Woodville striking just the right note to get Edward to marry her. It mattered not to a twelve year old that the vat drowning story is most likely apocryphal.

Thanks for the Josephine Tey rec, Jessica. I am looking for a good read.

Candy, you crack me up, "his remains went on walk about." :D

cs harris said...

Jan, I've never read The Sunne in Splendor. They are a fascinating family--both the Yorks and the Tudors.

Jessica said...

The Sunne in Splendour is terrific. Sharon Kay Penman in general is terrific -- she does her research and she writes big, thick, dense, terrific historical fiction. Well worth picking up (and hard to put down).

I wonder if he figured out any accommodations (special saddle, armor, bed, etc) to help deal with that serious a curvature. I don't think there's anything in the primary sources, but I would think human ingenuity and the desire for less pain would mean there were some adjustments.

Meiqing Xu said...

timberland boots
louis vuitton handbags
replica watches
prada outlet
christian louboutin
cheap jerseys
coach factory outlet
ugg outlet
adidas superstar
barbour uk
longchamp handbags
mcm handbags
celine handbags
ralph lauren uk
louboutin pas cher
nike tn
nike elite socks
instyler max
kate spade
coach outlet store online
adidas original trainers
tod's shoes
tods outlet
nike store uk
polo ralph lauren
tory burch outlet
oakley sunglases cheap

chenlina said...

prada outlet
retro 11
kobe 9
louis vuitton outlet
oakley outlet
ralph lauren
ray bans
louis vuitton outlet
toms shoes
nike free 5.0
ray ban sunglasses uk
cheap nfl jerseys
adidas superstar
michael kors outlet
kate spade handbags
louis vuitton uk
cheap oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton handbags
louis vuitton purses
lebron james shoes 13
prada outlet
ugg outlet online
jordans for sale
true religion outlet
louis vuitton outlet stores
michael kors uk
air max 90
michael kors outlet clearance
coach factorty outlet online
replica watches
abercrombie & fitch new york
oakley sunglasses wholesale
rolex watches
air jordan 4
tory burch outlet online
michael kors outlet online
coach factory outlet
gucci outlet online
kate spade handbags
coach factory outlet

chenlili said...

adidas originals shoes
tiffany jewelry
ralph lauren
nike running shoes for women
toms wedges
coach outlet store online clearances
hollister outlet
oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
lebron 13
air jordans
louis vuitton
cheap air jordans
ralph lauren polo
fitflops shoes
vans sneakers
nike trainers women
michael kors
nike store
giuseppe zanotti outlet
jordans for sale
tory burch boots
adidas originals
coach outlet store online
louis vuitton outlet
instyler max
louis vuitton handbags
ralph lauren
cheap air jordans
jordan retro 11
oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
tod's shoes
ralph lauren outlet
christian louboutin sale

Jian Zhuo said...

lebron james shoes 2016
coach outlet
kate spade handbags
coach factory outlet
ralph lauren
jimmy choo
polo ralph lauren outlet online
nike roshe
michael kors outlet clearance