If you happen to be near Leicester, England, tomorrow (May 29, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.), you can attend the first Richard III Annual Lecture, co-sponsored by the University of Leicester’s Medieval Research Centre and the King Richard III Visitor Centre.
Has any monarch provoked more debate after such a brief, long-ago reign? Shakespeare portrayed a hunchback villain who murdered his young nephews to usurp the throne in 1483, only to lose it—and his life—to Henry VII two years later. Historical investigation by the fictional detective in Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time (1951) concludes Henry VII murdered the princes. Ricardians—Richard’s admirers—insist on Richard’s innocence and praise his judicial reforms. Click here for a teaser about the recovery of his bones.
You might find more Ricardian passion at a Society for Creative Anachronism event than a scholarly symposium on late medieval England. Ricardianism is part of a perennial grassroots rebellion against the perceived elitism of trained experts and smug academics.
It also reflects a human insistence on seeing our public figures as either saints or villains. Real-life trained historians are capable of thinking the same man a judicial reformer and a child killer, with morals irrelevant to the shape of his back.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.