« Copy editors look things up | Main | Neither a bore nor a pander be »

Stand up for the last Plantagenet

On this day in 1485, betrayed when the treacherous Stanleys switched sides in mid-battle, Richard III fell on Bosworth Field, shouting “Treason!” at the last.

Then the ascendant Tudor dynasty proceeded to blacken his reputation, with a biography by Thomas More and the supreme villainy of Shakespeare’s representation—what the BritLit professoriate refers to as the “Tudor propaganda machine.”

Perhaps you know better. You may have read Josephine Tey’s pleasant The Daughter of Time, in which a detective laid up in hospital gets fascinated by Richard II and gradually ferrets out the historical truth. You might have read in Paul Murray Kendall’s solid biography of 1956 that Richard was, by and large, a moderate and reforming monarch. You may have spotted a passing reference in one of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries that Wolfe removed More’s Utopia from his shelves because More “framed Richard III.”

Still, not much to be done. A restoration of the Plantagenets looks even less likely than a restoration of the Stuarts, so we’re stuck with these dreary descendants of the Hanoverians.

But if you are reaching for a gesture of solidarity with fact-based history, you might wear in your lapel today the white rose of the House of York.



Posted by John McIntyre at 12:01 PM | | Comments (11)


*The Sunne in Splendour* by Sharon Kay Penman - it's a novel - also gives a really interesting alternate perspective on Richard and the events of his time.

Although even us instinctive Yorkists have to admit that these dreary descendants of the Hanoverians are also the dreary descendants of the Plantagenets. And, more significantly, of the very undreary Kings of Wessex.

David Faldone Craig commented on Facebook: There you go again. Meddling in the field of politics.

Well, he's not altogether wrong. Those of us who, despite our Yorkist tendencies, were engulfed by the Shakespearian view of R3 linked Bosworth immediately with R4 and Watergate. And the revisionist view of R4 with the revisionist view of R3.

Thank heavens the British were spared Mary the Scottish Queen on the Engish throne. She too was a Stuart.

But, Professor, if we hadn't had the Tudors we wouldn't have four juicy seasons of "The Tudors" on Showtime!

Or the Episcopalian Church, of course.

It's the Episcopal Church if you don't mind. Episcopalian is the noun. And more precisely, it's the Anglican Church in Britain. As the author of "O Ye Jig and Juleps" pointed out, "Jesus wouldn't care but other people would."

1000 culpae. It's "Jigs," not "Jig."

Yes, sorry, PtheT - thank goodness for editors. (Although, more precisely, in my part of Britain it's the Church of England.)

I loved the Sunne in Splendour, Penman portrays Richard as a man of honour and integrity...

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
Baltimore Sun Facebook page

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected