The Richard III Brief: The hunchback king buried under a car park by Carol Derbyshire

During my formal education history was a dry, boring and inpenetrable subject. That is once we had been past the rather random teachings of primary school and Mr Foulke’s discussions of the murder of Julius Caesar. The very first ‘formal’ history lesson when I was a dozen years of age involved the opening of a text book for the first time and being informed how to handle it properly so as to not break its back. The very first page we were asked to look at was a picture of Richard III drawn as grotesque gargoyle made up of writhing people. The first history we were to learn was of the princes in the tower and it was likewise flavored with the notion of the nasty, rotten and treacherous King Richard III. So it is fascinating to me, a quarter of a century on, to learn much more about this piece of history in a more balanced and indeed much more interesting way. Now that I have, I hope, a better grasp on some of the history of England and Great Britain, it is not so much of a problem to contextualize the life described. It is not just that I have been able to follow the very interesting work of finding and identifying the remains of England’s greatest ‘villain’ but I was able to read and thoroughly enjoy “The Richard III Brief: The hunchback king buried under a car park” by Carol Derbyshire. This is apparently the fourth Ebook by Derbyshire and although there are no details about the author, it is clear that she has a passion for communicating history in ways that even I can enjoy. Richard III is a perfect subject for this type of treatment being as Derbyshire points out “one of the most controversial and debated monarchs in English history”.
The author writes a very timely historical narrative as the excitement around the discovery of the royal remains in Leicester is still very much in our consciousness. I was gripped by this book that tells a more balanced review of Richard III’s life than Shakespeare does and more favorable than the view I was taught those years ago. What is clear is that the whole period was bloody, treacherous and generally horrible. It is still not entirely clear that Richard III would or should be considered ‘nice’ but his skills and bravery are made evident. We can consider whether the choices made during those times were the result of the times rather than the result of maliciousness alone. This will always be conjecture, of course and no two people, especially if they favor a different rose, will ever agree. Perhaps the author is not totally impartial on this debate either, there seemed to be affection in the writing and empathy towards this feminine, diminutive hunch back who died on his feet with sword in hand. It is a wonder of modern science that we can now be certain of at least some of the facts and separate some of the fiction and at least we know where he is now! Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this daughter of Derbyshire.


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