Tag Archives: Richard III

A Trip Through Time #2

a trip through time

The meme, A Trip Through Time, hosted by The Absent Historian is posted biweekly on a Friday. On the meme I will be taking a look at everything history related.

Today I am taking a look at the Channel 4 documentary that was on recently, Richard III: The New Evidence. As a massive geek when it comes to medieval history around the 14th-16th century, I was super excited to watch the documentary unveil more about Richard III; following the discovery of his bones last year. It is safe to say the documentary did not disappoint!

Here I have composed a little fact file for those of you who do not know much about Richard III. 

richard-iii-take-2Fact file: Richard III (October 1452 – August 1485)

  • * Younger brother to Edward VI and George, Duke of Clarence
  • * From House of Lancaster
  • * Reigned for 2 Years, 2 months and 2 days
  • * Last English king to die in battle
  • * Died at the Battle of Bosworth, 1485 (End of the War of the Roses)
  • * Usurped by Henry (Tudor)VII (father to Henry VIII)
  • * Supposedly killed his two nephews the princes in the tower to succeed to the throne after his brother, Edward VI
  • * Married Anne Neville (Warwick, the kingmaker’s daughter) and had one son, who died when he was young
  • * Depicted as a crooked, evil villain by Shakespeare

This picture is the one held in the National Portrait Gallery in London which I have visited and was painted by an unknown artists in the late 15th century, so the accuracy is debateable, but it is seen that Richard would have looked something like this at least, and not quite the hunch back that Shakespeare depicted.

However, having watched this documentary, and upon the bones being found in the Leicester car park, Richard III it is revealed did have a twisted spine, because he suffered from scoliosis which is a curvature of the spine.

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If you take a look at the spine curvature here, you can see it moved to one side, which would have meant Richard’s ribs were curved around, and following experiments on a guy with a similar deformity, it was revealed this would hinder his capability when it came to lung capacity and stamina.

The programme had a central focus on uncovering whether with such a deformity Richard would ever have been capable of riding into battle in full armour and participate in hand to hand combat. In addition to this, the scientists at University of Leicester were able to analyse his bones to discover the type of diet he would have had from his time before kingship and right up until death. It was utterly fascinating to see them dissect all the elements of Richard III; him riding to battle, his fitness and capabilities; using a man who was suffering with the same condition.

Honestly, I learnt a lot from the programme and I was amazed to hear that the medieval armour and horse saddle were actually much more beneficial to supporting Richard in his condition than any new saddle would be. His range of movement was incredibly able for a man with a curved spine, however it was his stamina where he would fail. It can probably be seen that once he was dragged from his horse, he would not last long which was why he was able to be beaten quite badly and suffered severe head injuries and bodily damage, which ultimately led to his death.

In terms of his diet, the man was enjoying 2-3 litres of wine, every day! It certainly appears these medieval royals were having a jolly time, and once he became king, his intake of food such as pig, fish, peasant and all those delicacies increased and his diet became much richer. It appears that becoming king would certainly reduce his level of fitness, so when it came to riding into the Battle of Bosworth he was not at his prime.

Overall, it was really fascinating take on Richard III and revealed things that I did not know and continues to make me question about events of the time and the man that is Richard III.

For those of you interested in historical documentaries, finding out a little bit more about Richard III, or curious about the whole scientific process, I definitely recommend checking out the documentary that was broadcast on Channel 4!

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Richard III’s double, Dominic Smee posing in his armour.

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