I know we are now supposed to view Richard 3rd as some sort of hero – I just can’t. My antipathy has nothing to do with the King himself who, by medieval standards, was no worse than most. He certainly wasn’t saintly but he did what he had to do, and if that meant having his nephews murdered then so be it.
The reason for my antipathy is the turning of the recent discoverly of his bone into some form of disneyfied tourist attraction. If you think that this is too strong take a look at the Leicester guild hall’s promo video.
The area around the Greyfriars and St Martin’s look wonderful but the real surviving parts of medieval Leicester, Leicester Castle and the church of St Mary de Castro are looking sorry and neglected which is strange because these are the only parts of modern Leicester that Richard 3rd might have had some recollection of. Leicester Castle was the heart of the Duke of Lancaster’s lands and saw a number of them die their including perhaps the most famous Duke John of Gaunt. John’s children did more than any other members of the royal family to inflame the feuds that became known as the Wars of the Roses. This of course lead to Henry Tudor, a member the illegitimate Beaufort branch, a product of John’s messing around with the nanny, slaying Richard 3rd at Bosworth field. Which might explain why the current monarch didn’t send any senior representative as it would highlight their illegitimate claim to the throne – but that is a different story.
Now I understand why the city council are making a big thing of the Richard 3rd reburial et al but it does seem strange that the medieval heart of Leicester is so neglected and ignored. Even the Leicester Cathedral might look medieval but it isn’t really anything of the sort . yes there was a church on this site since at least Domesday but the current building was extensively rebuilt by the Victorians and in truth is little more than an ordinary parish church.
I just wish that some of the money spent creating a fantasy had been spent on restoring and reviving the real medieval Leicester instead of letting it slowly decay and collapse. Perhaps the best symbol of this neglect is the spire of St Mary’s which was pulled down not long before all the pageantry of the reburial of Richard 3rd. It is all so very sad.