Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Search for Richard III's Remains

The past couple of weeks have been extraordinarily exciting for Ricardians around the world. The University of Leicester has been leading an archeological dig for the remains of Richard III, who, according to historical records, was to have been buried in the choir of the Greyfriars' friary. However, evidence of the tomb was lost and it was suspected that the area where he might have been laid to rest could be under a municipal parking lot in Leicester.

Today, September 12, 2012, there is strong circumstantial evidence that Richard's remains have indeed been found. My thanks to Annette Carson, author of Richard III: The Maligned King, for this copy of this statement from University of Leicester, which the University has now allow to be released:


On Friday 31st August 2012 the University of Leicester applied to the Ministry of Justice under the 1857 Burials Act for permission to commence the exhumation of human remains found at the Grey Friars site in Leicester.

Exhumation commenced on Tuesday 4th September 2012 and has continued to this morning. The work was conducted by Dr Turi King from the University’s department of Genetics and Dr Jo Appleby & Mathew Morris of our School of Archaeology & Ancient History.

We have exhumed one fully articulated skeleton and one set of disarticulated human remains. The disarticulated set of human remains was found in what is believed to be the Presbytery of the lost Church of the Grey Friars. These remains are female, and thus certainly not Richard III.

The articulated skeleton was found in what is believed to be the Choir of the church.

The articulated skeleton found in the Choir is of significant interest to us. Dr Jo Appleby has carried out a preliminary examination of the remains. There are five reasons for our interest:
  1. The remains are in good condition and appear to be of an adult male.
  2. The Choir is the area reported in the historical record as the burial place of King Richard III. John Rous, reports that Richard ”at last was buried in the choir of the Friars Minor at Leicester”.
  3. The skeleton, on initial examination, appears to have suffered significant peri-mortem trauma to the skull which appears consistent with (although not certainly caused by) an injury received in battle. A bladed implement appears to have cleaved part of the rear of the skull.
  4. A barbed metal arrowhead was found between vertebrae of the skeleton’s upper back.
  5. The skeleton found in the Choir area has spinal abnormalities. We believe the individual would have had severe scoliosis – which is a form of spinal curvature. This would have made his right shoulder appear visibly higher than the left shoulder. This is consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard’s appearance. The skeleton does not have kyphosis – a different form of spinal curvature. The skeleton was not a hunchback. There appears to be no evidence of a “withered arm”.
Both sets of remains are now at an undisclosed location where further analysis is being undertaken.
I need to be very frank with you. The University has always been clear that any remains would need to be subjected to rigorous laboratory and DNA analysis before we confirm the outcome of the search for Richard III. We are not saying today that we have found King Richard III. What we are saying is that the Search for Richard III has entered a new phase. Our focus is shifting from the archaeological excavation to laboratory analysis. This skeleton certainly has characteristics that warrant extensive further detailed examination.

Dr Jo Appleby is undertaking further work to examine the remains. Dr Turi King from our department of Genetics will lead the laboratory analysis. The results of this analysis are expected to take up to 12 weeks.
I should emphasise that all human remains found at the site are being treated in full accordance with the University of Leicester’s ethical policy for dealing with human remains

Clearly we are all very excited by these latest discoveries. We have said finding Richard was a long-shot. However it is a testament to the skill of the archaeological team led by Richard Buckley that such extensive progress has been made. We have all been witness to a powerful and historic story unfolding before our eyes. It is proper that the University now subjects the findings to rigorous analysis so that the strong circumstantial evidence that has presented itself can be properly understood.

This is potentially a historic moment for the University and City of Leicester.

I will now turn to colleagues for comments before moving to Q&A.

University of Leicester Staff Available for Interview or Comments

  • Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist from the University’s School of Archaeology & Ancient History and co-Director of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services.
  • Dr Turi King, leading the DNA analysis and academic in the University’s Department of Genetics
  • Professor Lin Foxhall, Head of the School of Archaeology & Ancient History at the University of Leicester 0116 252 2773/07740 540 264
  • Dr Sarah Knight, scholar of C16 & C17 English literature and academic in the University’s School of English
  • Dr Mary Ann Lund, scholar of C16 & C17 English literature and academic in the University’s School of English
  • Deidre O’Sullivan, Lecturer in Archaeology in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History and expert on friary churches
  • Dr Jo Appleby, Lecturer in Human Bioarchaeology in the University’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History
  • Dr Helen Foxhall-Forbes, Honorary Research Associate in the University’s School of Historical Studies and Lecturer in Medieval History at Exeter University
  • Richard Taylor, Director of Corporate Affairs at the University 0116 252 5386
For background information please visit

Sunday, August 26, 2012

After 527 years, the hunt for Richard's body is on!

On the 527th anniversary of the burial of King Richard III at Greyfriars, Leicester, the search for his remains begins -- under a Leicester City Council car park. Carried out by the University of Leicester Department of Archaeology in association with the Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society (our parent society), the dig will continue for two weeks and culminate in a public event over the weekend of 8-9 September. Details and links to press coverage can be found here. For the Richard III Society's news item on the subject, choose the "news" link from their site:

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Dark Sovereign" play by Robert Fripp

Playwright slams Shakespeare, defends Richard III

Toronto – December 22, 2011 – For the first time in four centuries a modern writer has challenged William Shakespeare by writing a full-length play in the Bard's Renaissance English—fluently. Shakespeare wrote The Tragedy of Richard the Third as Tudor propaganda for the Court of Queen Elizabeth I, portraying King Richard III as a misshapen sociopath and killer. Author and copywriter Robert Fripp, the former series producer of CBC-TV's long-running investigative program, 'The Fifth Estate', took four years to pen his counter-attack on Shakespeare's play. Fripp's Dark Sovereign tells the real tale of Richard's troubled reign.

"At last!" comments New York director Nathaniel Merchant. "Here is the antidote to the scurrilous but seductive play by Shakespeare. Fripp shocks with his skillful and uncanny use of verse and his portrait of Richard as a man, not a caricature or stock villain".

"It's not wildly revisionist", says Fripp. "Just wildly different. Dark Sovereign seldom gives Richard's character more benefit of the doubt than you find in reliable histories. Dark Sovereign runs close to the northern English counties' long-held view that Richard was a benign, capable ruler: He was caught between a rock and a hard place in a smouldering civil war (England's Wars of the Roses) that went up in flames. Dark Sovereign dramatises the snake-pit of that conflict with a human, not a demonic, face. It's a stronger story without Shakespeare's character assassination".

Then why put the word 'Dark' in the title? "The word carries the sixteenth century sense you find in dark horse and dark star," says Fripp. "It suggests a quality unknown; and that is certainly true of Richard III, smeared with his enemy's propaganda for four centuries".

Art historian Claude Marks, who moved from London to lecture at New York's Metropolitan Museum, called Dark Sovereign "a cultural accomplishment of the highest order". Not only that: Dark Sovereign is longer than Hamlet. Overnight it becomes the longest play written in Renaissance English. No wonder Samuel Liff, Senior Theatrical Agent at the William Morris Agency, described Dark Sovereign to the author's agent, Jennifer Watts, as "The most courageous thing I ever saw in theater. A good play, too."

"Many authors, including Shakespeare, Francis Bacon and the six teams of scholars who produced the King James Bible were writing in what we call 'the Golden Age' of the English language", says Fripp. "It's a beautiful language. It's mine and it's yours. It's yours to read, too". He should know. As a boy, Fripp won a choral scholarship into Salisbury Cathedral choir where he chanted and sang sixteenth century English for five years.

Fripp took an earlier foray into history using the language of that period. Introduced by novelist John Fowles, Fripp's The Becoming, (Let There Be Life in North America), is an audacious retelling of the Genesis creation story from a scientific point of view. Later, in Power of a Woman. Memoirs of ... Eleanor of Aquitaine, Fripp wrote the first-person memoirs of one of Europe's most charismatic women. Now a copywriter and consultant at The Impact Group in Toronto, he will soon publish New Wessex Tales, a short story collection set in his native English county, Dorset. offers excerpts and reviews of several works.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In Memoriam: Carole McClendon Rike, 1941-2010

Photo, right: Carole (right) and daughter Zoe at Bosworth Field, 1976

Carole Rike, American Branch member since the early 1970s, passed away peacefully on August 3, surrounded by her family.

Carole's longevity of Ricardian service exceeds that of anyone in the American Branch, and possibly of the entire Society. She served on the board and/or as editor of the Ricardian Register without interruption since 1985, working with eight consecutive branch chairs. She served, at one time or another, as vice chair, recording secretary, membership chair, sales officer, and treasurer.

Sharing a birthday with Benjamin Franklin, Carole was -- like Franklin -- a printer and a pundit, running a successful graphic design and printing business in New Orleans. She printed the Register continuously for twenty-five years and for all but three of those years also served as its editor.

Carole's Ricardian conversion was described in a Wall Street Journal article (March 13, 1991):

Carole Rike, a New Orleans Ricardian who runs a word processing and printing business, describes her own conversion after reading the Tey book as sudden, total and a trial to her loved ones. "I became rabid," she says. "My children would walk around the house pretending to have a hunchback or they would make some comment at the dinner table about the kind of man who smother his nephew with pillows, and I'd be in tears. It's as if you'd discovered that what you had always believed -- that life is fair -- isn't true."

Many converts suffer lonely years before they discover the
Richard III Society, usually by happening upon one of the annual notices the society places in newspapers on the anniversary of Richard's death (August 22). "It was like coming out of the closet," says Ms. Rike. "Who else do you know who wants to talk about Richard III? Nobody."

At least once in their lifetimes, American Ricardians try to take the Ricardian bus tour of
England. Ms. Rike remembers Bosworth Field, where the group laid a wreath, as a high point. "We'd climb over the barbed wire looking for the well where Richard drank before battle, and the farmer would come out and scream at us to get out of his field," she says. "Now it's a big tourist deal."

In addition to her work for the American Branch and for her own business, Carole was active in a number of other volunteer organizations -- the Register wasn't the only newsletter she published. She printed the Tennessee Williams Literary Journal, and was active in the New Orleans Personal Computer Club, Save Our Cemeteries, and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. (The other family business, Rike Services, is a petroleum engineering consulting and training firm, and Carole was very much involved with that as well.)

Some of Carole's other interests (or passions) included shih-tzus, gardening and especially orchids. One of the joys of her last few months was the construction of a greenhouse on her property in Tickfaw.

Carole is survived by her husband, Jim Rike; her daughter Zoe Duplantis and partner Robert Ringenberg; her grandson Connor Ringenberg; and several siblings.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend the Memorial Service at LAKE LAWN METAIRIE FUNERAL HOME, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd. (in Metairie Cemetery), on Monday, September 13, 2010 at 6:30 P.M. Visitation will begin at 4:30 P.M. To view and sign the Family Guest Book, go to

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Branch-sponsored session at Kalamazoo

The American Branch is again sponsoring a session of papers at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University.

Session No 228
10am Friday, May 14

Fifteenth-Century English History and Culture
Sponsor: Richard III Society (American Branch)
Organizer: Candace Gregory-Abbott, California State Univ.–Sacramento
Presider: Candace Gregory-Abbott
  • Court Fashion and Country Lady: Who Was Wearing the Butterfly Headdress?
    David H. Kennett, Stratford-upon-Avon College
  • Justice in the Cathedrals
    A. Compton Reeves, Ohio Univ.
  • Richard III's Propaganda Wars
    Richard B. Foster, Independent Scholar
  • John Lydgate's Troy Book and the Mirror for Princes Tradition
    Jason Dunn
    , Univ. of California–Davis

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bosworth Battlefield Location Revealed

Listen online (no idea how long this link will last):

Press release from the Battlefield Centre:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Help support the transcription and translation of an important manuscript

The Richard III Society, American Branch, asks you to consider making a gift to support the work of a graduate student transcribing and translating portions of a manuscript genealogy of King Edward IV, now called Ms. Roll 1066, in the collections of the University of Pennsylvania Library. This roll is 37 feet in length and has two separate chronicles, one on each side. It is unique among manuscripts of this kind.

As many American Branch members already know, our contributions resulted in the restoration of another genealogy of Edward IV in another Philadelphia library, the magnificent Free Library of Philadelphia Ms Lewis E201. That manuscript was exhibited in 2001 and again in 2007, and has resulted in recognition of the Richard III Society by an international community of medieval scholars and art historians. It is almost unbelievable that two of the most significant genealogies of Edward IV should come to one American city, but the unbelievable has happened.

Our gifts can make it possible for this second manuscript to come to the attention of a worldwide community of scholars and shed new light on our understanding of the political climate of this important period. The Executive Board has already agreed to match individual contributions up to $2,500 from the portion of our Schallek Fund that was retained by the American Branch in order to help the University of Pennsylvania Library carry out this wonderful project. The librarians tell us that our gift will serve as "seed money" to encourage other donors and foundations to continue the work that we have made it possible for them to begin.

The University of Pennsylvania Library is investing considerable funds in this project to make it possible to "scroll through" this magnificent manuscript online. It is also in discussions with the Free Library of Philadelphia to apply the same technology to their manuscript. This will allow all of us to have an experience of these two manuscripts very much like the one their original owners and readers had.

Our part of this project would provide funding for another important aspect. Like its sister roll, Ms. Roll 1066 is written in Latin and is very difficult to read. As Professor Emily Steiner writes in the attached project report, "Scholars tend to be interested in these kinds of mid-15th century rolls for their propagandistic aims, the ways in which they bolster a contender's claim to the throne or a noble family's claim to ancient lineage. During the war of the Roses -- which was as much a propaganda war between the York and Lancastrian factions as it was a series of bloody battles -- it was nearly impossible for a historian to maintain a fiction of neutrality." Our funding would provide for a medievalist graduate student to transcribe and translate critical portions of the roll and to create a searchable index of names and events in the roll.

Although times are difficult for us all, we are hoping that Ricardians will recognize the importance of this project and make a gift to support a graduate student in work that will deepen and enrich our understanding of the swirling political currents around Richard and his family. You can send your tax-deductible contribution via PayPal -- send payment to and note in the comments section that this is for the Edward IV Roll Matching Gift Program.

[Download more information on this manuscript in Adobe Acrobat format.]