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  #1  
Old 02-05-2013, 05:36 PM
Simple Linctus Simple Linctus is offline
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Straight dope on the Richardarians

Verily tis time for posters on this message board to fight true ignorance - for in my 26 (and a bit) years, at least 80% of each in which I stayed within the British Isles (and >90% in most of them) I have never heard of the Richardians, the most famous of whom are the Richard III society. Their aim, put succiently, is to rehabilitate Richard III. They are the driving force (at least as they tell it) behind the recent excavation of same.

So... what's going on with these folk? Why does this relatively unimportant thing matter to them so much? Is there some intriguing ulterior motive? Are there other "societies" to rehabilitate other unfairly maligned people from centuries ago? Is there a Stalin society? Will there be?
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  #2  
Old 02-05-2013, 05:53 PM
Bob X Bob X is offline
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In American terms, I would consider them analogous to Civil War re-enactors. Great spasms of violence are exciting to be nostalgic about; of course, it helps if it is possible to be sympathetic to the underdog side. That is a problem for WWII enthusiasts: it just won't do to find the Nazis cool. It is somewhat of a problem for American Civil War enthusiasts: the Confederates were definitely cool, but you have to pretend that slavery had nothing to do with the motivations, so we get this strained revisionism. The English don't seem to want to touch the English Civil War much, but War of the Roses is a great period to be safely nostalgic and pedantically revisionist about. Even further back, there has been a lot of interest lately in the Stephen-Matilda war, naturally with the reputation of Stephen the Usurper getting a rehabilitation since he was the side that ultimately lost.
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:58 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is online now
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It's human nature. Shakespeare made Richard seem so eeee-vill, that people start to sympathize with him, thinking "he can't be that bad," which moves on a continuum to "Everything bad written about him is a lie."

There's also a similar mindset as conspiracy theorists -- that they know more than the history books.
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  #4  
Old 02-05-2013, 07:35 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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The Bible of the Ricardians is a short detective novel by Josephine Tey, called The Daughter of Time, an abbreviated form of Feancis Bacon's aphorism, "Truth is the daughter of time."

Tey's detective, Alan Grant, is laid up in hospital and bored. One of his friends brings him books and pictures to keep him occupied. Grant sees the picture of Richard III and assumes he's a judge. When he realises that it's Richard, supposedly one of the most villainous English kings, his professional interest is piqued. With the help of a young American researcher, he develops the theory that Richard was not responsible for the murders, that Henry VII was, and that Thomas More wrote a slanted pro-Tudor version of the events to support the Tudor claim to the throne. That in turn was the source for Shakespeare's play, a century after the events.

It's a good book and well worth the read. It came out in the early 50s and triggered a re-examination of the events of Richard's reign.
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:43 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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It's a good book and well worth the read. It came out in the early 50s and triggered a re-examination of the events of Richard's reign.
I'd say rather that it called attention to a shift in historians' thinking that she merely drew upon. The book itself is historically dreadful as argument, and I've never understood why it's so beloved. Anyway, there have been many waves of historians battling back and forth over the various points. The last time I paid any attention the thought was that Richard was not as bad as he is portrayed and didn't kill the princes, but that didn't make him a good guy either.

But everybody does this about every single bit of history. The reputation of every single president - even Warren Harding - has been rehabilitated and torn down as historians try to make their mark by overturning whatever the previous generation said. Literary critics do the same thing. There's no mystery here. It's exactly how the field works, and how it has always worked. This occurs with every major historic personage and most of the minor ones. It's as new and different as oxygen.
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:51 PM
Shmendrik Shmendrik is offline
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Is there a Stalin society? Will there be?
Yes, of course.

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Results of a controversial poll taken in 2006 stated that over 35% of Russians would vote for Stalin if he were still alive.[302][303] Fewer than a third of all Russians regarded Stalin as a "murderous tyrant";[8] however, a Russian court in 2009, ruling on a suit by Stalin's grandson, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, against the newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, ruled that referring to Stalin as a "bloodthirsty cannibal" was not libel.[304] In a July 2007 poll 54% of the Russian youth agreed that Stalin did more good than bad while 46% (of them) disagreed that Stalin was a "cruel tyrant". Half of the respondents, aged from 16 to 19, agreed Stalin was a wise leader.[9]

In December 2008 Stalin was voted third in the nationwide television project Name of Russia (narrowly behind 13th century prince Alexander Nevsky and Pyotr Stolypin, one of Nicholas II's prime ministers). The Communist Party accused the Kremlin in rigging the poll in order to prevent him or Lenin being given first place.[305]

On 3 July 2009, Russia's delegates walked out of an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe session to demonstrate their objections to a resolution for a remembrance day for the "victims of both Nazism and Stalinism".[306] Only eight out of 385 assembly members voted against the resolution.[306]

In a Kremlin video blog posted on 29 October 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev denounced the efforts of people seeking to rehabilitate Stalin's image. He said the mass extermination during the Stalin era cannot be justified.[307]
Sorry for the hijack; you may now return to your regularly scheduled Plantagenet discussions.
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  #7  
Old 02-06-2013, 03:20 AM
WotNot WotNot is online now
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The English don't seem to want to touch the English Civil War much, but War of the Roses is a great period to be safely nostalgic and pedantically revisionist about.
I'm not sure why you say that The Sealed Knot are probably the best-known historical reenactors in the country, and they're not the only ones.
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  #8  
Old 02-06-2013, 03:56 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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Originally Posted by Bob X View Post
The English don't seem to want to touch the English Civil War much
The Sealed Knot is the largest re-enactment organization in the UK, there's also the English Civil War Society. Both do both sides of those conflicts, so they don't seem to have any ideological problems.
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  #9  
Old 02-06-2013, 04:09 AM
TubaDiva TubaDiva is offline
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Originally Posted by Simple Linctus View Post
Verily tis time for posters on this message board to fight true ignorance - for in my 26 (and a bit) years, at least 80% of each in which I stayed within the British Isles (and >90% in most of them) I have never heard of the Richardians, the most famous of whom are the Richard III society. Their aim, put succiently, is to rehabilitate Richard III. They are the driving force (at least as they tell it) behind the recent excavation of same.

So... what's going on with these folk? Why does this relatively unimportant thing matter to them so much? Is there some intriguing ulterior motive? Are there other "societies" to rehabilitate other unfairly maligned people from centuries ago? Is there a Stalin society? Will there be?
Now they're saying maybe he was kinda cute, too.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/05/world/...ion/index.html

So now perhaps he'll stop saying "Now is the winter of our discontent." Outside of being dead, life is good for Richard these days.
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  #10  
Old 02-06-2013, 06:29 AM
APB APB is offline
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I don't think that the re-enactors are the right comparison at all. Not least because there are separate re-enactment societies for the Wars of the Roses. In the case of the English Civil War, the groups comparable to the Richard III Society are not the Sealed Knot etc, but the Cromwell Association, the Royal Stuart Society, the John Hampden Society, the Society for King Charles the Martyr etc. The difference is between those societies that (accurately or otherwise) see themselves as scholarly groups encouraging serious research into their heroes and those for people who want to dress up. And while there is usually large overlaps in membership, many of those in the former (including many in the Richard III Society) view the latter with utter derision.

It should also be said that, completely contrary to their conspiracy-theory mindset, the Richard III Society is actually well-regarded in academic circles. Professional historians think highly of its journal and of its conferences. They were also quick to congratulate them on their backing for the Leicester excavations. It is just that they remain honestly unconvinced by the Ricardians' arguments.
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  #11  
Old 02-06-2013, 07:36 AM
moriah moriah is offline
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Originally Posted by TubaDiva View Post
Now they're saying maybe he was kinda cute, too.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/05/world/...ion/index.html

So now perhaps he'll stop saying "Now is the winter of our discontent." Outside of being dead, life is good for Richard these days.
I like how the Ricardians make the argument: "Look, he has a human face. Therefore, he's human. Therefore, he's no villain!"

Umm...
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  #12  
Old 02-06-2013, 08:58 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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The main sticking point, for me, is that usurpation and secret murder were hardly unknown at the time. Richard was a man of his time and if murdering potential dynastic rivals made one a "villain", well, there weren't many monarchs in his period who were not ... and for the Tudors of all people to complain about it!
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:08 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Even further back, there has been a lot of interest lately in the Stephen-Matilda war, naturally with the reputation of Stephen the Usurper getting a rehabilitation since he was the side that ultimately lost.
Lost in the sense of reigning as king for something like 19 years, with just a few months displaced from the throne in 1841, and then dying of natural causes whilst still king?

He may not have established a dynasty, but Stephen himself pretty clearly "won", and Matilda lost. I have never heard of anyone thinking he was the underdog in his civil war.

The only fiction about this era that I am aware of are the Brother Cadfael books, in which the main characters are generally pro-Stephen, albeit unenthusiastically.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:11 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Lost in the sense of reigning as king for something like 19 years, with just a few months displaced from the throne in 1841, and then dying of natural causes whilst still king?
Queen Victoria. What couldn't she do?
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:34 AM
astorian astorian is online now
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I enjoyed Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, but don't take it as gospel.

Richard apologists are undoubtedly 100% correct on several scores: the most infamous charges against him were made by the Tudors and their apologists (like Sir Thomas More), and some of these charges were first made decades after Richard's death. And some of the popular perceptions of Richard are wrong (he wasn't an ugly hunchback).

The Tudors were frauds who had no legitimate claim to the British throne, and had every reason to trash their more legitimate predecessor.

It doesn't follow that Richard was as saintly as Tey made him out to be. The reality is, nice guys rarely got to be kings in the Middle Ages, and never remained kings for long. "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" was an understatement. A king in Richard's day always had good reason to fear treachery, and Richard undoubtedly committed some horrible crimes during his reign- there's just no real reason to believe he was any more evil than any other monarch of his day.

Last edited by astorian; 02-06-2013 at 09:35 AM..
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Old 02-06-2013, 11:16 AM
Bob X Bob X is offline
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Lost in the sense of reigning as king for something like 19 years, with just a few months displaced from the throne in 1841, and then dying of natural causes whilst still king?

He may not have established a dynasty, but Stephen himself pretty clearly "won", and Matilda lost. I have never heard of anyone thinking he was the underdog in his civil war.
I didn't say he was the underdog at the time, but that he "ultimately" lost-- the point being (as I evidently failed to convey) that since history is written by the winners, the conventional view of him had been as the usurper whose wrongful seizure of the throne was to blame for all the death and sorrow.
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The only fiction about this era that I am aware of are the Brother Cadfael books, in which the main characters are generally pro-Stephen, albeit unenthusiastically.
There are also Sharon Kay Penman's books set in the period.
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Old 02-06-2013, 11:23 AM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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Originally Posted by Simple Linctus View Post
Is there a Stalin society? Will there be?
Of course there is a Stalin society. They've been around for over twenty years and are still quite active. They tend to show up at big rallies, protests, and demonstrations in London, always holding huge portraits of Uncle Joe.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:43 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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There are also Sharon Kay Penman's books set in the period.
Don't they start with Henry II and end with Ricahrd III? which ones deal with Stephen?
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  #19  
Old 02-06-2013, 12:45 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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The only fiction about this era that I am aware of are the Brother Cadfael books, in which the main characters are generally pro-Stephen, albeit unenthusiastically.
I wouldn't say that Hugh Beringar is unethusiastic; he is very supportive of Stephen and admires him in battle, but acknowledges that he has some weaknesses, such as an inability to stay focussed for the long haul.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:17 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Don't they start with Henry II and end with Ricahrd III? which ones deal with Stephen?
http://www.amazon.ca/When-Christ-His.../dp/0345396685
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  #21  
Old 02-06-2013, 01:18 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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thanks - had forgotten about that one.
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  #22  
Old 02-06-2013, 01:44 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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And of course, Pillars of the Earth revolves around the Stephen-Matilda wars in a big way.

Henry VIII was notorious for finding excuses to ensure that any potential claimant with a better connection was "neutralized"; my book on Lord Lisle, one of the last of the Plataganets, mentions how Henry's spies kept a close eye on his activities, and eventually he died (of natural causes) while a guest in the Tower on suspicion of treason. Even promising to behave was not safe, as many claimants were figureheads for their backers' factions. Lady Jane Grey was similarly (and her husband) offed when Mary thought she might be a rallying point of protestant objectors to her throne.

Henry was very conscious of his father's relatively tenuous claim and the danger (as the War of the Roses showed) of too powerful an alternate claimant.

I've heard conflicting stories about wheher the bodies found by the tower were identified as the princes or even if hey could be identified as children.

Last edited by md2000; 02-06-2013 at 01:45 PM..
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  #23  
Old 02-09-2013, 09:14 PM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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Originally Posted by TubaDiva View Post
Now they're saying maybe he was kinda cute, too.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/05/world/...ion/index.html

So now perhaps he'll stop saying "Now is the winter of our discontent." Outside of being dead, life is good for Richard these days.
I don't know about cute, but forensic reconstruction has made great strides in the last couple of decades. Given the skull as the basis and the painting as the model, the reconstruction is probably fairly close, which means old Rick may not have been the most handsome guy around, but he sure wasn't the ugliest.
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Old 02-13-2013, 01:10 PM
Fozzie Dabear Fozzie Dabear is offline
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Cute, but not totally cute

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Originally Posted by TubaDiva View Post
Now they're saying maybe he was kinda cute, too.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/05/world/...ion/index.html
But the Guardian reports that he had curvature of the spine:

[url] http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/charlottehigginsblog/2013/feb/04/richardiii-archaeology-leicester-scepticism[\url].

So, not an ugly hunchback, per se.
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  #25  
Old 02-13-2013, 05:19 PM
Mk VII Mk VII is offline
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The archetype of this sort of person was Sir Clements Markham and his book, Richard III, His Life And Character (1906). Even contemporary Richardian advocates do not take his arguments seriously.
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