Sunday, April 9, 2017

Richard III & His Women

Hard on the heels of the discovery of Richard II in the carpark over the medieval location of Grey Friars, we have the following interesting articles - here is a small snippet from all three.

The Princess and the Gene Pool: The Plantagenet rebel who held the secret to Richard III’s DNA - post by author Sarah Gristwood in Medievalist dot net (February 2013)

Here Sarah talks about the fascinating life of Richard's eldest sister, Anne, and how it was her descedents that provided the important mitochondrial DNA for the identification of Richard.
Richard III is perhaps the most controversial figure in British history and historians will long be discussing what new light the finds cast on his story. But the long-forgotten Anne was herself a creature of scandal – a woman who openly took a lover; divorced her husband; and kept his family lands anyway. A Plantagenet princess who acted with all the freedom of a Manhattanite on the make today.
Even if Richard himself had been survived by children, they wouldn’t have carried this particular gene strand. Nor would the present royal family, descended from another of Cecily’s sons. The mitochondrial DNA concerned can be passed only through the female line. So the identification goes back to Anne, who was born in 1439, the first surviving child of Richard, Duke of York and his wife Cecily, the beautiful ‘Rose of Raby’. She was only seven years old when in 1447 she was married – presumably at first in name only – to Henry Holland, fifteen year old heir to the Duke of Exeter, a great nobleman descended from John of Gaunt and thus in the line of succession to the throne.
 Read more here @ Medievalist

Our second items comes from author Elizabeth Ashworth, posted on her blog (July 2013).

Richard III, his mistress, and his illegitimate children
BLB book jacket jpegMuch has been written in fiction, and in some non-fiction, about the love between King Richard III and his wife, Anne Neville. But what if it isn’t true? What if Richard’s mistress was the great love of his life?  We may not know much about the mother or mothers of John and Katherine but we do know a little more about them from contemporary records.

Here Elizabeth discusses the two known illegitimate children of Richard III, and the women who might possibly be the mothers.  Then Elizabeth put forth another candidate:

In my novel By Loyalty Bound I suggest a new name for the mother of Richard’s illegitimate children: Anne Harrington. Although this is also based on speculation as the other names are, there is some circumstantial evidence that she may have been his mistress.
read more here @ Elizabeth Ashworth's blog

Now this third item is the most intriguing - and comes directly from the dig itself. Again, posted on Medievalist dot net (March 2015)

Lady in the Lead Coffin revealed
A mysterious lead coffin found close to the site of Richard III’s hastily dug grave at the Grey Friars friary has been opened and studied by experts from the University of Leicester.
Inside the lead coffin, archaeologists found the skeleton of an elderly woman, who academics believe could have been an early benefactor of the friary – as radiocarbon dating shows she might have been buried not long after the church was completed in 1250 (although analysis shows her death could have taken place as late as 1400).
The high status female was in one of 10 graves discovered in the grounds of the medieval complex, including that of Richard III, six of which were left undisturbed. Those that were examined were all found to have female remains.
Documents dating back to the time of the burials – about 700-years – name a lady called Emma, who was married to John of Holt. In September of that year, 1290, the Bishop of Lincoln issued an indulgence granting 20-days off Purgatory for anyone who would say ‘a Pater and a Ave for the soul of Emma, wife of John of Holt, whose body is buried in the Franciscan church in Leicester’. However, little is known about her, including what she looked like, her age at death or where in the friary church she was buried.

read more here @ Medievalist

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