Richard III: The case for bringing him home to York

11 Feb 2013 @ 10.24 am
| Opinion

Kevin Spacey as Richard III in Sam Mendes’ 2012 production at London’s Old Vic. Photograph: Joan Marcus
Whatever its officials say, York Minster is the right and true last resting place for the remains of the last Plantagenet king, says Joe Ann Ricca of the US-based Richard III Foundation

In August 2012, a group of experts from the fields of archaeology, history and DNA took on the unprecedented investigation into the Greyfriars area of Leicester where it was believed the body of King Richard III had been buried and still remained.

The Richard III Foundation, Inc. had supported the quest for Richard III’s burial place and issued a statement in September making clear that it was our profound hope that King Richard’s remains, if found, would be interred at York Minister, where in 1483 Richard had begun plans for a chantry chapel.

The city of York and county of Yorkshire had been of immense importance to Richard, and had played a major role in his life – it was in this county that the king was, and to this very day still is, loved and admired (despite five centuries of Tudor propaganda, lies and distortions).

As the debate began to rage as to where the presumed remains of King Richard III should finally rest, the Foundation launched an online petition enabling people from all over the world to support the cause of a York burial for Richard III – and the results were staggering.

The sort of armour Richard would have worn at the Battle of Bosworth Field, as seen at the Royal Armouries, Leeds. Photograph: Richard McDougall
The sort of armour Richard would have worn at the Battle of Bosworth Field, as seen at the Royal Armouries, Leeds. Photograph: Richard McDougall

We then issued another statement, entitled Richard III: Come Home to York and outlined the purpose of our petition. It became apparent that Richard III, once King of England, was quickly becoming a “king of the world” too! Our petition reached every continent and attracted signatures and comments from people in over a hundred different countries.

One British expat commenting on the site, from Maine, in the US, said:

I’m British, an historian, and ardent supporter of Richard III. King Richard had his reputation destroyed, and was vilified for more than five centuries as a murderer and usurper. His heart lay in his beloved Yorkshire, and it is fitting that after all he was denied following his untimely death at Bosworth, that he should now be laid to rest in that part of England he loved above all others. He despised London, and Leicester was the scene of his brutal death, why should he be associated now with either place? Place him in York, where he himself hoped to be laid to rest.

richard-III-coat-of-arms-cutout-smallI was interviewed by BBC Radio York four times and made our message clear: The Richard III Foundation urges the people of Yorkshire to join with us in calling for King Richard III to be brought home to the city that he loved, and where he is still loved to this day.

Richard, the last Plantagenet king, and the last English monarch to die in battle, had strong connections with the city of York and the county of Yorkshire. He spent much of his youth at Middleham Castle and for 12 years he ruled the North of England on behalf of his elder brother, King Edward IV, earning a widespread reputation for fair-mindedness and justice. After becoming king, he visited York several times and was showered with gifts each time. His son, Edward, was crowned Prince of Wales whilst in York.

Andy Smith, UK public relations director for the foundation, puts it this way:

York was Richard’s city. It is where he belongs, and it is only right that this great Lord of the North should return home to Yorkshire after more than five hundred years’ enforced absence.

The foundation’s original petition had to be closed due to the number of signatures we received and a new one was launched to replace it in February 2013. We have launched a second petition for DNA testing to be done on the bones in the urn in Westminster Abbey purporting to be the remains of “the Princes in the Tower” to determine their identity and to ascertain if there is any connection with King Richard III.

With the discovery of the remains of King Richard III, we are entering a renaissance of study of his life and times. This is in many ways the return of the king whereby we staunchly believe we will see a significant change in how the public views him, and it is time for us to take a closer and more in-depth look into his life and times.

See also: Why York should give up its claim to King Richard III
Statement from York Minster regarding Richard III
Richard III: York’s campaign continues
Support for Richard III’s wishes grows