Archived Blogs

New edition of Mancini out soon!

  1. Feb, 2021

At last, after a year working in lockdown, I am looking forward to delivery of my new edition of Mancini next week. While the solitude enabled me to master such a challenging task, the state of the publishing industry has shown me what a bad moment I chose! Sadly I can no longer fulfil customer purchases of books from home – but at least it will be available on Amazon. Please check my ‘Ricardian Topics’ page for a few pointers to why I think anyone interested in Richard III will find this edition worth its small place on their bookshelf.

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How trustworthy is Thomas More?

  1. Feb, 2021

In the light of Tim Thornton’s recent claims relating to allegations made by Thomas More, I must start by saying I have never remotely considered taking Thomas More seriously as a historian of King Richard III, and nor would anyone who has read Richard Sylvester’s masterly analysis. But I do take him seriously as a religious fanatic who didn’t stop at condemning respectable people to hideous punishments. I hope the fate of the innocent merchant tailor Richard Hunne will never be forgotten. The rough outline goes like this (but check it for yourself): Hunne brought a lawsuit because his local church was seeking to charge him exorbitant mortuary fees. Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall, a friend of More’s, excommunicated Hunne, charged him with heresy and threw him into his (the bishop’s) prison where he was murdered. This is how More’s biographer Richard Marius, bending over backwards to exonerate his subject, explains More’s defence of Tunstall in the face of clear evidence that Hunne was killed (p.140): “In More’s view, heretics were such demonic people that it was fair to believe anything bad about them, no matter how outrageous. More presents us with a Richard Hunne so depressed at being found out that he killed himself, and so depraved that he tried to make his suicide look like murder.” How can you accept the testimony of a man like More who will make up a lie to deny justice to an innocent man? Let us ask ourselves how many other men’s names and reputations were blackened by this man’s connivance … just because he could.

Best Biography Award

  1. Oct, 2020

Great news! I’ve just heard from the USA-based League of WW1 Aviation Historians that I have won the 2019 Thornton B. Hooper Award for Excellence in Aviation History in the Best Biography class. I wish I could say they’ve given this award to my book Camel Pilot Supreme: Captain DV Armstrong DFC, but actually it’s for a biographical piece about Captain Armstrong I contributed to their magazine ‘Over the Front’ published last Autumn. It comes hot on the heels of a really heartwarming book review by fellow aviation historian Alex Henshaw, who knows a thing or two about the air history of the Great War. I’ll try to take a scan and post Alex’s review on my DV Armstrong page. Just the pick-me-up needed on this wet and windy weekend.

Richard as Protector and Constable

  1. Sep, 2020

Something unfortunate has happened with the Richard III Society’s listing of Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable of England – it’s been left off their printed sales catalogue for the second year running. They’ve promised it will be in the next one (September 2021) but that will make two years it’s been missing! They have plenty in stock, having recently re-ordered supplies. So in the interim I’m just having to rely on word of mouth. Please, if you think this book reveals some important things about Richard which hadn’t previously been brought to notice, please would you recommend it? Or put a review somewhere, whether online or in a local Ricardian newsletter? It’s a private publication that I can’t get published commercially, so there won’t be a reprint. Thanks for any support you can give.

Queen Anne Neville in the Latin Rous Roll

  1. Mar, 2020

Queen Anne Neville is depicted separately by Rous, who places her in his heraldic roll in the section devoted to her Warwick family, his patr

Rous’s original manuscript

  1. Mar, 2020

Here are the original figures drawn by Rous. The MS is not in great condition and hence the colour reproduction is problematic, but this gives you a fair idea. Shown here are Richard III and his son Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales.

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John Rous heraldic drawings

  1. Mar, 2020

When Caroline Halsted produced her magisterial biography of Richard III in 1844 she wanted an illustration as authentic as possible, and hence she commissioned this line drawing being a representation of the drawings of Richard and his family by John Rous in the Latin roll which is presently in the possession of the College of Arms.

‘A New Mancini’ – follow-up

  1. Mar, 2020

I note the Richard III Society seems to have changed its mind about revisiting the Armstrong edition of Dominic Mancini’s 1483 report on events in England (see my page Ricardian Topics).

Many Ricardians are aware of prejudiced language employed by Armstrong in his translation from the Latin. This translation dates from 1936, long before modern scholarship began to realize how much prejudice against Richard III had been built on shaky grounds. Armstrong was actually working on his translation at roughly the same time that Tanner and Wright were busily producing a notable work of confirmation bias designed to prove that the bones they examined from Westminster Abbey were none other than Edward V and his brother Richard.

In 2015, in the light of my newly published research into the offices of Lord Protector and High Constable of England, I wrote an article in the Ricardian Bulletin where I pointed out that Mancini was a significant source of misinformation in this context … and I had the temerity to suggest that the Society take on the task of a new edition of Mancini, in line with the its remit to ‘secure a reassessment’ of this kind of material.

Whilst attracting several letters of support, it was also the cue for Peter Hammond and Marie Barnfield to pen a particularly scathing riposte accusing us of seeking ‘the interpretation most favourable to Richard in every case,’ and telling us if we didn’t like Armstrong’s translation we could always make our own.

But it wasn’t a new translation I wanted, it was a new edition! We should be encouraging an enterprise by an educational institution to examine Mancini’s original MS in Lille, produce a new and accurate transcription, and only then undertake a fresh translation with a scholarly introduction including an explanation of his lapses of understanding when it came to assumptions about England and her particular laws and precedents.

The problem with rectifying a few dodgy translations on the cheap is that the proposed reprint-plus-introduction will now remain the standard edition for another generation or more – a badly missed opportunity. In relation to many such MSS it is actually quite short, and the Society is the one organization that really should be investing in new editions of seminal contemporary texts like this. Latin is unfortunately disappearing from school curricula, so the chances of re-examination in the future are diminishing exponentially.

The one aspect of this proposal that gives me hope is that the task will be in the safe hands of Livia Visser-Fuchs, who can be relied upon to do the best job it is possible to imagine. As for Hammond and Barnfield’s suggestion of ‘a Ricardian translation’ for Society members, ‘clearly labelled as such’ (by which they mean ‘partisan’), I am confident that Livia will not be tempted in that direction.

Great review from a member of Facebook group Great War Aviation

  1. Jan, 2020

I love this review because it reflects the reactions I’ve received from so many aero-historian enthusiasts and friends.
I love this review because it reflects the reactions I’ve received from so many aero-historian enthusiasts and friends.

Book-signing at Turweston Aerodrome 27 October

  1. Oct, 2019

Probably my last event of 2019, I was warmly welcomed at Turweston by the Vintage Aircraft Club at their All Hallows Fly-In … where I met up with several old aviation friends including Tony Bianchi who keeps a little fleet of classic aeroplanes there. This photo shows me standing next to Tony’s replica Sopwith Camel – very appropriate!

Interest in my new book continues, 18 sold on this occasion, and VAC members told me they enjoyed my little talk about Captain Armstrong.

Lovely day at Stow Maries

  1. Sep, 2019

Huge thanks to Ian Flint and the wonderful team at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome for their kind welcome to me on 21 September. Large numbers for their Heritage Open Day (not far short of 700) and the perfect location for a book-signing. Twenty books sold and none taken home! The gift shop also took a few to sell – many thanks for that.

To my joy, it seems an illustrated book about a legendary First World War pilot is an ideal Christmas gift for a favourite uncle or pilot friend. To my extra joy, I met two aerobatic girls from the United States (Iris and Anna) who’d randomly popped in to Stow Maries and loved it. They also bought two books. Happy days!

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Stow Maries 21 September

  1. Sep, 2019

Book signing at Stow Maries 21 September

  1. Sep, 2019

I’ll be signing copies of my new book on Saturday 21 September at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome near Chelmsford and Maldon, Essex. This is their Heritage Open Day with free entry to the public, and I can’t wait to see the changes they’ve made since I was last there. It’s an authentic aerodrome with fascinating First World War history and interactive exhibits, family-friendly and dog-friendly, complete with restaurant and gift shop. I’ll have Camel Pilot Supreme for sale, also A2 art prints of some of its paintings for framing (see my Online Store).

Even if you can’t get there, please click to support Stow Maries for an important grant: … ONLY A FEW DAYS LEFT – please vote by 20 September!

Stow Maries Needs You!

  1. Sep, 2019

Camel Pilot Supreme – in print at last

  1. Sep, 2019

My new book arrived this morning and I’m quite pleased with the quality. Cover artwork looking good (had to fight to remove a dismal grey wash they put over it at one time!). It had an unofficial launch at the World Aerobatic Championships in France last week, where I’m told it was well received. After research spread over some 35 years I only hope it’s a fitting tribute to an exce

It’s at the warehouse!

  1. Aug, 2019

Not long now until I have Camel Pilot Supreme in my hands at last. Matthew Potts at P&S Promotion has done a sterling job – he and text editor Richard Doherty have been the saving grace at Pen & Sword.

I hope anyone who loves flying will embrace my young subject and enjoy getting to know him through these 264 pages and 175 illustrations (I counted them eventually!). I think Armstrong would be pleased to know his full story has at last been told, but most of all I think he’d appreciate the depictions of some of his aerial feats in the colour section by artist Lynn Williams. Unrecorded by film, alas, he had no chance to see them himself. But Lynn’s visualizations bring them to life in vibrant full colour, including his tailchase underneath the bridges of the Thames (detail below). This you have to see in its full glory!

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Nearly there!

  1. Aug, 2019

It’s all systems go at Carson Towers as I start corralling a list of reviewers for my new book, and line up various magazines and websites who will bring it to public notice. The aerobatic communities in England, South Africa and the USA are on board, as are some of the journals of First World War aero historians.

It’s been fun working on promo materials like publicity leaflets and showcards, dredging up my PR skills from days of yore.

Another project well under way is the production of art prints of a couple of Lynn Williams’s colourful action paintings which are going to look stunning when framed.

Pen & Sword tell me the book is well on track for publication on 31 August (in time for my birthday!) although I won’t feel 100% confident of this date till I hear it from the printers. I’ve arranged only one promotional event so far, which to be safe isn’t until October. I’ll post a summary of activities as soon as they are all firmed up.

Meanwhile there’s an introductory £5.00 discount to be had from the publishers at

Sparks are still flying from my keyboard …

Email alert

  1. Jul, 2019

Anyone presently using the email address info AT please note that it has proved unreliable. Instead please use my BT address (annettecarson AT, or as a last resort carsonannette AT Substituting @ for AT, of course.

In normal circumstances I always reply to messages within 24 hours, so if you haven’t received a reply from me please try one of the other addresses named above. Thanks!

Today’s news – working on the colour plate section

  1. Jul, 2019

For most of June I was contacting online book retailers, getting them to remove my publisher’s blurb and substitute my own (accurate!) synopsis and author biography. We’re getting there …

Meanwhile I’m working on proofs of the 16-page colour plate section – a mix of portraits, pictures of Armstrong’s various aeroplanes, and fabulous action paintings of some of his wonderful feats of airmanship. Rash to make a promise, but most will be entirely new to most readers: even aero historians will find images they’ve never seen before.

All my aviation books have been copiously illustrated – Flight Fantastic had over 300 pictures, and this new one will have well over 150.

The sad thing is that still photography can never do justice to flight, so we’ll never see the exploits of an entire generation of brilliant early pilots. Thank goodness for the amazing talents of aviation artist Lynn Williams. Can’t attach an entire picture, but here’s a small detail.

Progress with the new biography

  1. Jun, 2019

It’s called ‘CAMEL PILOT SUPREME: CAPTAIN D.V. ARMSTRONG’, and at last the jacket design’s right! Details are here on the publisher’s website:

Unfortunately my health-warning still applies to the inaccurate synopsis on Amazon and all the other online retailers. They use what they’re first given, and it takes heaven and earth to change it.

Still, a picture paints a thousand words – and I get a thrill every time I look at that cover illustration by the wonderful aviation artist Lynn Williams. You can see it enlarged on my ‘Aviation’ page. Lynn has contributed several of the 150+ illustrations in the book, four of them in full colour depicting a selection of Armstrong’s airborne feats. Amazing.

No demise of ‘-ize’ !

  1. Apr, 2019

How depressing that the thought police are circling like sharks around poor Prince Charles, protesting that the ‘-ize’ spelling format is used only by (shudder) our American cousins. Yet these critics presumably represent the complaisant majority that has already adopted such Americanisms as ‘program’ for ‘programme’, ‘maneuver’ for ‘manoeuvre’, ‘pediatrics’ for ‘paediatrics’ and much besides. Do they spell ‘mediaeval’ the American way, ‘medieval’? And have they observed its truncation, as a result, from four syllables to three (‘muh-dee-val’)?

Has anyone also noticed that the good old English word ‘homage’ is now almost universally pronounced by media persons in the nouveau American way, ‘ommage’?

And have they adopted all these transatlantic imports only for their gorge to rise at the standard Oxford English Dictionary usage ‘-ize’?

As for John Humphrys harrumphing on this morning’s ‘Today’ programme about how he dislikes seeing words spelt by the Prince ‘the American way’ … I suspect this reveals more about his reading habits than he thinks. In my experience a great many leading British book publishers prefer the ‘-ize’ usage, including my present publisher Pen & Sword. How can he have failed to notice this in his preparations for interviewing so many authors? ? Or (OMG) does he perhaps rely on summaries produced for him in journalese?

Only last year, when proof-reading my colleague Dr Arthur Kincaid’s new publication of Buc’s Richard III, one of the earliest parameters we established was his use of the ‘-ize’ form. It really is quite prevalent. Not, I think, merely because he’s an Oxford man …

Is there not more than enough division in our fair land already, without inventing new ways to larrup each other? My Burchfield edition of Fowler’s Modern English Usage (1998) regards the choice of ‘ise’ / ‘ize’ as a matter that ‘remains delicately balanced but unresolved.’

For heaven’s sake let’s lighten up and allow differentness to thrive.

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Camel Pilot Supreme: Captain D V Armstrong

  1. Mar, 2019

Things move slowly in the world of Pen & Sword. If anyone has seen an illustration of this book’s front cover on a site like Amazon, please disregard it: it was rejected eight weeks ago!

Please also disregard the extraordinarily pedestrian and inaccurate blurb they’ve attached to it. Who writes this stuff? Don’t they read the book first? And why don’t they use the written material I’ve given them??? Worse still, if anyone looks at this supposed synopsis they’ll assume my book is pedestrian and inaccurate too.

Authors who have slaved on a subject for months and years, making it authentic and gripping, get a raw deal when publishers brush aside their intimate knowledge and expertise. It’s not my habit to go public with a howl of protest, but I can’t sit silent when they shove this kind of stuff out to the media.

Dear friends and readers, please be patient and trust the meticulous care and accuracy I am famed for. You’ll love the book, I promise – and the 150+ pictures and original illustrations. I just need to get Pen & Sword to love it too.

Reprint now has colour section

  1. Feb, 2019

It’s taken two months but I can now confirm that The History Press have withdrawn the defective copies of ‘The Maligned King’ and they tell me the latest reprint has the colour plates restored. If anyone has a dud copy without colour plates I suggest trying to get The History Press to replace it – try Jonathan Harris at

If unsuccessful please contact me via this website (see email address on my ‘Online Store’ page) and I will replace your book at my own exoense.

Beware printing error

  1. Dec, 2018

I need to advise anyone who has recently purchased Richard III: The Maligned King that there has been a regrettable printing error – the colour plate section has been printed in black and white.

This is particularly distressing as I spent a lot of effort (and close to £2,000) on sourcing and licensing a set of compelling colour images, some of them very unusual, including the first portrait of Princess Joanna of Portugal ever to have been published in a book about Richard.

The publishers have frozen their stocks and are looking into this as a matter of urgency. It’s my hope that they will replace any defective books purchased. I just want to apologize to purchasers and advise you that we do know what has happened and hopefully the situation will be rectified, although I don’t yet have a specific undertaking in this respect. Please stand by for updates.


  1. Nov, 2018

Captain D.V. Armstrong, DFC. ‘Remembered for his skill and modesty’ [Gen Jan Christian Smuts]
Captain D.V. Armstrong, DFC. ‘Remembered for his skill and modesty’ [Gen Jan Christian Smuts]

Ultimate airman

  1. Oct, 2018

They say you should never meet your heroes, but I’m happy to say I was blown away last week when I met Roger ‘Dodge’ Bailey. As chief pilot of the Shuttleworth Collection, he’d been generously responding to myriad detailed questions by email on flying the F.1 Camel. His technical knowledge is unrivalled, and he’s one of the mere handful of living pilots who can claim to have grappled with the little beast powered by a proper rotary engine. Last week he let me get acquainted with the Collection’s D1851 at Old Warden, and I can only say Dodge is one of the nicest, most welcoming and most patient of hosts imaginable.

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Publication news

  1. Oct, 2018

How I wish I had enough time to keep my Blog up to date! For many moons I’ve been intending to note that I have a publishing contract with Air World (an imprint of Pen & Sword) for my biography of Captain D.V. Armstrong which will be titled “Camel Pilot Supreme”. The text is delivered, and right now we’re working on the images.

I’m pleased to say they’re on board with my proposal for over 100 photographs integrated with the text. In addition we’ll have a 16-page colour section, which will include artwork by the renowned aviation artist Lynn Williams depicting some of Armstrong’s legendary performances (or ‘stunts’ in the jargon of the day). One of them will illustrate Billy Bishop’s description of DVA leading his Flight in a tailchase under the bridges of the Thames. Yes, they were underflying bridges as early as World War One!

With any luck the book should be out next summer.

DNA and the bones in Westminster Abbey

  1. Jul, 2018

Before getting excited about finding a modern comparator whose mtDNA would be the same as Edward IV’s sons (the ‘Princes in the Tower’), there are several reasons to proceed cautiously …

  1. We don’t know how many individuals are represented by the bones in the Westminster urn, which contains animal bones as well as human. When discovered in 1674, the bones were thrown on a rubbish heap where they lay for an unknown period. They were subsequently handled, and other material probably substituted, an unknown number of times. The urn was opened again in 1933 and the entire contents once more subjected to extensive handling and examination. They are therefore thoroughly contaminated.
  2. To identify Richard III’s remains (which had lain pristine and undisturbed for five centuries) the only successful DNA retrieved was from a tooth.
  3. The only way to make reliable DNA comparisons from the urn would be to test every human bone it contains. If you test only the teeth, the ‘mystery’ is not conclusively solved: there will always be dissenters who will claim that the princes’ bones are present but never yielded DNA samples.
  4. When John Ashdown-Hill submitted his first mtDNA comparator for Richard III, the laboratory refused to accept it without double-checking and finding their own mtDNA donor. They even insisted on doing research to find a Y-chromosome donor to cross-check against the remains. Is this going to happen with Glen Moran’s discovery?
  5. It’s a temptation to want to solve a mystery – the chaps in 1933 thought they were doing that. But they hadn’t enough scientific knowledge then, and neither do we now, if DNA testing is all we have.

Back to the drawing board

  1. Mar, 2018

The good news is that my biography of Captain Armstrong is almost complete. On the other hand, after four months I am no nearer to a publishing contract. At this point the old adage about eggs in one basket comes into play . If it’s to appear in time for Armstrong’s centenary in November this year, it looks like I must talk to other publishers. Here goes!

Where did the time go?

  1. Jan, 2018

It’s time I updated my website. Way past time in fact. A busy person’s work is never done, and since November I’ve been working full tilt on my biography of Captain D.V. Armstrong, DFC, RAF, whose centenary is coming up this year.

But first I had finish my promised checking and general assistance with Dr Arthur Kincaid’s revision of his magisterial edition of Sir George Buc’s The History of King Richard the Third. He contemplated this as a project in the autumn of 2015; it was commissioned in February 2016; and eventually Arthur’s proofs arrived on my desk in June 2017, a remarkable rate of productivity for such a huge work. Scholars will welcome this revised edition, which updates research on this subject to our present state of understanding, and includes a wealth of material not present 40 years ago when the original was published.

My work on checking proofs finished at the end of October, and it’s now with the publisher. Watch this space for a publication date!

In November I returned to my pilot, aware that time wasn’t on my side. Then I had a stroke of luck. In the course of my research I came across an editor at an aviation publisher who immediately said he’d like to publish the biography. By this time I had a vast accumulation of notes which I’d set aside for five months, and I quickly had to cobble together a draft … which he liked. We have a meeting planned in mid-February, when I hope we’ll reach an arrangement.

The biography is very much a photographic essay, as I am using Captain Armstrong’s own WWI photo album which has a lot of interesting material. Anyway, research and writing has proceeded non-stop with only a couple of days’ relaxation over Christmas, and I think a final draft will come together in time. Grateful thanks to all who have helped, and especially to Rob Fletcher in South Africa who has been invaluable in his advice and help.

Richard and Anne’s marriage

  1. Jun, 2017

In case anyone reading this is a member of the Richard III Society, you may have been as interested as I was to read an article in the March 2017 edition of the Bulletin where a contributor, Isabella Nanni, seemed to have discovered a new source for Richard and Anne’s marriage. In her words, they were ‘described as man and wife by autumn 1472’.

I had myself done a lot of work on estimating their marriage date, which was published in a 6,000-word article in the issue of December 2016, and I was under the impression that I had weighed up all known sources. They included (1) the Crowland Chronicle, which recorded the well-known dispute between Gloucester and Clarence during the Michaelmas term of Parliament (October-November 1472), after which Clarence hid Anne away and Richard found her in the guise of a cook-maid and placed her in sanctuary. And (2) the earliest known reference to them as ‘the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester’ which is reported in the Rolls of Parliament covering the sessions that ran between 6 October 1472 and 8 April 1473, although unfortunately the actual petition containing these words isn’t individually dated (PROME, ‘Edward IV: October 1472’, Roll 1, Item 24).

Consequently the most likely date indicated for their marriage seemed to be some time between Anne’s withdrawal into sanctuary (post-October 1472) and the subsequent reference in the Parliament Rolls to their married state. Other considerations narrowed the date down, but these were the outside parameters. In the expectation that an exciting new source had been found describing them as ‘man and wife by autumn 1472’, I contacted Isabella Nanni, only to be disappointed. There is no new source.

In fact I understand from her that she is actually referring to the same Rolls of Parliament as mentioned above (although I’m afraid they cannot be claimed to have been written by the autumn of 1472, when Parliament had not yet sat). And her reason for dismissal of the account in the Crowland Chronicle is that she does not accept the chronicle’s contents. I think these factors are relevant when considering her alternative view of Richard and Anne’s date of marriage.

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Remembering Edward of Middleham

  1. Apr, 2017

I hate unfinished business, and some recent correspondence with my friend A J Hibbard has reminded me of two articles from a series of four I started in 2015 and never finished. I had decided that too many Ricardian dates had been taken for granted without adequate proof, so I began by investigating the following four:

  • The marriage of Richard and Anne Neville * The birth of Edward of Middleham * The death of Edward of Middleham * The marriage of Anne Neville and the Lancastrian Prince of Wales

I mentioned my research to Marie Barnfield and she offered some very helpful insights, so rather than merely acknowledging her assistance I suggested she should join me as co-author. Marie’s involvement has not worked out as I had hoped, but at least we eventually got the first two of these articles into print in the Ricardian Bulletin in 2016 (September and December issues).

I’ll return later to Anne and the Prince of Wales. Today being Good Friday, I want to discuss the death of Edward of Middleham, whose short life was the subject of one of my illustrated talks at the 2016 Middleham Festival. The circumstances of his death, funerary arrangements and tomb are another matter. Here I am just summarizing the question of the date, for which I’m pleased to say my advice was taken by English Heritage to commemorate it at Easter, rather than 9 April, in the plans to fly their flag at half-mast at Middleham Castle. In due course I’ll follow this up with a longer piece on this website under ‘Ricardian Topics’, citing more detailed evidence.

I will mention three references here which should be carefully compared. The first is the well known entry in the Crowland Chronicle which states that he died in April 1484, ‘on a day not far off King Edward’s anniversary’. The mention of ‘anniversary’ has led to the assumption, by even the most well-read Ricardian scholars, that Edward died exactly a year – to the day! – after his godfather Edward IV died on 9 April 1483. Not only is this NOT what the chronicler wrote; it represents only one of various possible anniversaries.

Second, a much more specific date is given by the Warwickshire priest John Rous. This chronicler’s political credibility is highly suspect, having praised Richard III during his reign and attacked him after his defeat; but in plain recitals of facts and dates his record can prove useful. Rous wrote that young Edward died ‘at Easter-time’ (tempore Paschali). Easter Day in 1484 fell on 18 April.

Compare this with my third reference: the recorded fact that it was not until Tuesday 27 April that Richard left for the North after receiving the terrible news while he was at Nottingham Castle. In my longer article I will deal with possible reasons which might have caused delay, but the distance from Middleham to Nottingham is not one of them: this could have been traversed within a day’s ride. Indeed there is nothing to explain the gap of more than a fortnight from the commonly assumed date of Edward’s death on 9 April until Richard is known to have left Nottingham on 27 April.

It is particularly poignant to remember this sad anniversary, with his parents driven almost mad with grief, when Easter in 2017 falls on dates so close to little Edward’s death.

William Cornwallis – a postscript

  1. May, 2016

I’ve been reminded by Arthur Kincaid that although Sir George Buck was outspoken in his denunciation of Thomas More and John Morton, Cornwallis did not clearly specify who he meant by ‘the Chronicler’ whose negative picture of Richard he challenged in his dedication to The Encomium of Richard III. Although Cornwalllis avoids naming More anywhere in the encomium, it is my belief (based on internal evidence) that the ‘life’ of Richard III he had ‘lately read’ was the Thomas More publication, and on page 15 he denounces the author’s ‘malicious credulity’ in embracing the partisan writings of a supporter of the house of Lancaster. Cornwallis certainly made no bones about his view of John Morton, who he says ‘corrupted’ the Duke of Buckingham. But his avoidance of naming any authors means I can’t categorically say that his denunciation referred to More and Morton.

Thomas More, John Morton and Richard III

  1. Jan, 2016

On the matter of sources that are usually cited for the origin of Richard III’s blackened reputation, it occurs to me that I’ve done quite a lot of reading lately around Thomas More’s influential Richard III, which means I have been delving more deeply into the analyses published in the Appendix to my book Richard III: The Maligned King.

Many scholars of 16th-century literature subscribe to the view that More was writing satirical drama to pillory his exemplum of ‘The Tyrant’, personified (regrettably) by Richard III in his unfinished book. Dr Arthur Kincaid led the vanguard in 1972 with his assessment that its dramatic structure is paramount to its proper appreciation, which was accepted by R.S. Sylvester in the 1976 Yale edition of Richard III which I think is still considered the gold standard (see page xvi). Other analyses have been content to follow Kincaid’s lead, e.g. a paper dated 1982 by Elizabeth S. Donno in Renaissance Quarterly. Alison Hanham continued in the same vein in Richard III and his Early Historians (1975), although Hanham fell into a common error by categorizing More as an historian. As early as 1963 Sylvester’s commentary in Vol. 2 of the Yale ‘Complete Works of Thomas More’ had made it clear that already the literary world rejected it as constituting what we (or historiographers) would call history, and indeed the title ‘History’ of Richard III was almost certainly attached to it posthumously. In support of Kincaid et al. are the contemporary reports that More was fascinated by the theatre, had already tried his hand at writing plays, and was known to leap up on to the stage during performances and interpolate an off-the-cuff role for himself.

Thomas More had spent a number of his young years in the household of Cardinal John Morton, under the cardinal’s tutelage, and in the early 1600s the idea that Cardinal John Morton authored More’s book was current among members of the antiquary movement. They knew of a certain tract hostile to Richard III written by Morton which was in the library of More’s son-in-law – some had read it, others knew of its contents, so there clearly were close similarities between the two works. Since then, scholarly assessments of More’s English and Latin have decided against Morton’s authorship (which wasn’t very likely anyway, especially when you consider that Morton died in 1500).

Nevertheless, knowledgeable 17th-century antiquaries like Sir George Buck and Sir William Cornwallis were so vehement and outspoken about the authorship of More’s book by Morton that I believe they should not be ignored. My proposition is as follows … (1) That More DID have access to Morton’s tract, and (2) that its contents DID prompt More’s embarking on his Richard III project, to the extent that that’s where he got his entire premise of Richard as tyrannous, hypocritical, murderous, etc. Thomas More was thus fully equipped with the ready-made central villain for his polemic against tyranny, fleshed out with Morton’s anecdotal reports of his various crimes. I then propose that (3) working from this basis, More added all the embellishments that transformed it into a piece of dramatic craftsmanship – the condemnatory language, the dialogue, the moments of high theatre like the confrontation with Hastings – until he had something that satisfied his muse. In other words Morton loaded the gun and More discharged it with results that Morton could only have dreamed of.

At this point a number of questions arise. Undoubtedly the several extant versions (in English and Latin) are brilliantly conceived and executed. So why did More set his bravura piece aside and never seek to publish it? He couldn’t wait to see Utopia in print, yet he never even finished his Richard III – and, significantly, never mentioned a word of it in all the copious writings of his that are known to us. As you might expect, I have a proposition for this, too: (4) eventually, I submit, he started questioning the veracity of the information provided by Cardinal Morton’s tract. This was a private project to which he returned on and off over the span of several years, and he had probably written many thousands of words of his drama before he thought to speak of it to anyone. If he initially found some of it rested on shaky ground, this would not have bothered him: More was entirely happy with the rhetorical practice of arguing persuasively both for AND against a proposition, and in this period of time ‘historical truth’ was not a matter of great concern. My suggestion is that there came a time, however, when he simply couldn’t suppress the nagging suspicion that the basis of his Richard III story as told by Morton was unreliable. This was not merely a matter of questioning the accuracy of the events in his story, it was much more important than that: if what I suggest is the case, Thomas More’s belief in the mentor of his youth would have been shaken. Nothing less than this, I believe, would have disillusioned him deeply enough to have stopped him in his tracks.

Now it’s goodbye to Alan Rickman

  1. Jan, 2016

In the space of a few days cancer has taken two amazing English talents aged only in their sixties. The news about David Bowie was only just sinking in when we heard today of Alan Rickman’s death. I encountered him first in roles like Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility, see photo) and the Sheriff of Nottingham (Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves), having kicked myself for missing him in Liaisons Dangereuses. In the early 1990s, while working on my biography of Jeff Beck, I did a lot of research for a planned biography of Alan Rickman – he had trained at RADA, as had my husband, Paul Carson. I was pipped at the post by a gossipy effort by Maureen Paton which I thought did him less than justice. His versatility was enormous, and I treasure a signed photograph he gave me. An unforgettable talent.

Farewell David Bowie: often copied, never equalled

  1. Jan, 2016

An emotional day today, with the death of David Bowie. His music a part of my life since the 1960s. It’s not tremendously well known that I wrote the first (unauthorized) biography of British rock guitarist Jeff Beck, published in 2001 by Hal Leonard and awarded 4 stars by Q Magazine. In the book I recounted the story of how Jeff came to appear onstage with Bowie at his Ziggy Stardust farewell concert. It runs as follows.

. . . At around this time Beck made a surprise guest appearance at the famous ‘retirement’ night of David Bowie’s Spiders from Mars world tour, mounted at London’s Hammersmith Odeon on 3 July 1973. Beck’s appearance was arranged by Bowie as a birthday treat for his guitarist, Mick Ronson, who idolized Beck’s playing and had always longed to play with him onstage.

Beck was sent a mysterious note from Bowie, enclosing tickets and asking him to be at the show. Called up for the encores, he joined the band on ‘Jean Genie’ and ‘Love Me Do’ (with Bowie supplying the harmonica part). A second encore, ‘Around and Around’, also featured Beck on his magic voice tube. [This was the ‘talking guitar’ effect often used later by Peter Frampton.]

The surprise appearance entailed even more of a surprise for Beck when he learned that the show had been filmed for cinema and TV. This was something he hadn’t expected, and frankly he didn’t feel he had performed too well . . . Given the option, he decided to exclude his appearances and they were duly edited out of the film and the official live album. Nevertheless, the first two numbers were shown on US television and the third one was broadcast in Europe!

Beck was left with a strange memento of the occasion when he was given a weird rag doll by Bowie and Ronson, which they said resembled him. An odd gift, but one that he kept ever afterwards. He also attended Bowie’s retirement party at the Café Royal the following night, where the guests included Mick and Bianca Jagger, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Keith Moon, Lulu, Cat Stevens, Lou Reed, Barbra Streisand, Britt Ekland, Tony Curtis, Elliot Gould, Ryan O’Neal, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, with music supplied by Dr John. Surely one of the most glittering rock events of the decade.

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Who’d have believed it?

  1. Jan, 2016

I posted a link on Facebook to my speculative little piece on the ‘Hastings plot’ (see Ricardian Topics page) and the reach on Facebook is already well over 10,000! Plus it’s being reproduced in blogs and newsletters. Such has been the interest that I’ve edited it a little to make things a bit clearer to the non-specialist reader.

What I would really LOVE is for anyone interested in this to PLEASE read my little book Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable of England (available here and from the Richard III Society) (and as an eBook) because this explains Richard’s legitimate powers within the government at the time of the Hastings incident. Context is everything, so it’s important to consider who in this scenario was acting legally and who illegally!

The Princes in the Tower by Josephine Wilkinson (Amberley, 2013)

  1. Aug, 2015

I review books rarely – almost never – because being a professional writer myself, I have too great an appreciation of the depth of travail entailed in producing written work of a quality that satisfies my personal standards. To pick holes in the labours of others must be done with great sensitivity towards the author’s literary endeavours which, if he or she is anything like me, will have taken years to bring to fruition.

In any case, how can I pick holes in a book such as Josephine Wilkinson’s The Princes in the Tower which so closely echoes my own analysis of the same subject five years previously? Indeed, I must reserve my harshest censure for the publisher’s dust-jacket blurb, which blares the promise of ‘a ground-breaking new theory about what really happened and why’. Of this promise – let us hope it was not penned by Wilkinson – the lack of fulfilment has been much criticized, not least by readers who have previously seen the book’s entire contents in my own Richard III: The Maligned King (The History Press, first edition 2008).

Unlike Wilkinson’s Princes, none of my books has ever attempted to give an answer to the ambitious question in her sub-title, Did Richard III Murder His Nephews, Edward V & Richard of York? Sad to say, publishers are tediously predictable in employing the word ‘murder’ whenever publications discuss the fate of Edward IV’s sons (murder sells books and TV spin-offs) consequently I am again inclined to give the author the benefit of the doubt over this piece of un-historian-like hucksterism. It irresistibly calls to mind another example of publisher’s chicanery from a few years ago, Richard III and the Murder in the Tower, a book title transparently designed to give the impression that it dealt with the topic of the disappearing princes. (It didn’t.)

As writers, researchers, historians and scholars, I hold it as our duty to resist simplistic and, ultimately, historically illiterate language of which ‘murder’ and ‘usurpation’ are common examples, used for effect but never precisely and adequately defined in their historical context. Especially when, as in Wilkinson’s case, the concept of murder in relation to Richard III’s possible disposal of the princes is never addressed within the book that bears the word on its cover (indeed, the words ‘kill’ and ‘murder’ are used interchangeably – e.g. see page 157). This is one of the reasons why I prefer nowadays to self-publish my books. If nothing else, I can make absolutely sure that what it says on the cover is consistent with what the reader finds inside. A book title is like a copywriter’s headline: you do your product a fundamental disservice if your advertising portrays it falsely.

And so to the book’s contents – 159 textual pages aside from front matter and end matter; no illustrations, no genealogical tables, no index. Still, what luxury to have 159 pages in which to set out in full those researches which I had perforce to confine to a single chapter of some 12,500 words! Yet, employing my practised publisher’s eye to compare The Maligned King with The Princes, I discern that the latter contains easily 100 words fewer per page than the former. And with each of eleven chapters having a title page, where some 60-odd words are lost to the title formatting, this means we lose another estimated 650 from the total word count. Thus we are left with somewhere short of 33,000 words of textual argument. In case this is difficult to visualize, compare my paperback Richard III: A Small Guide to the Great Debate, also published in 2013, price £5. Although it has 28,500 words, 14 illustrations, two family trees and an index, I had always considered it rather a modest effort. Perhaps I should revise my assessment when setting it beside Josephine Wilkinson’s The Princes in the Tower at £18.99 hardback and £9.99 paperback.

Still and all, you don’t judge a book by its word count, any more than you judge it by its cover. Which in this instance is probably a good thing, since I have never been a fan of Delaroche’s portrayal of the sons of Edward IV, two waxen faces set against funereal black. Curiously, Wilkinson’s Introduction tells us that she found discussion of them in her two-part biography of Richard III a dilemma: ‘I knew that everything that came after would be shaped by whatever conclusion I drew regarding their fate. … I could not allow their story to swamp my biography of Richard’. As a writer I had found no such problem, but here we encounter the historian’s self-imposed burden always to sit in judgement. A mystery demands a conclusion to be drawn. Hence the sub-title we discussed earlier, Did Richard III Murder His Nephews, Edward V & Richard of York? This particular mystery, says Wilkinson, can ‘hijack’ a biography.

I’m not so sure. I suspect her anxiety results from the subject having become an overworn trope in the popular (and ill-informed) consciousness, stoked up by third-rate TV documentaries fronted by celebrity-seeking pundits, resulting in an irritation-factor in academics out of all proportion to its historical importance. The laager mentality takes over, and they circle the wagons behind orthodoxy. In short, what Wilkinson was really worried about was that to take the matter of the sons of Edward IV seriously within her scholarly biography might invite ridicule and dismissal by her peers. One can scarcely blame her for such very real anxieties.

Of course, a review of the resultant book must evaluate it on its own merits. Wilkinson herself prepares us not to expect a running narrative, but rather a series of discrete essays drawn from earlier researches, adjusted and offered for publication with an extra essay added. It is certainly best judged with this in mind. As an avid reader and writer of essays (or articles), I am familiar with the form. Here they act as individual assessments, in the main, of candidates for the role of guilty party in a rather pedestrian whodunnit. A disappearance has been plucked out of five centuries of history and presented as an alleged homicide. Backgrounds of the supposed victims are supplied. An outline of the immediate circumstances of 1483 is sketched in, but with almost no explanation of the political and constitutional power-play so essential for an understanding of the tensions surrounding their disappearance. Most of the characters are presented in terms of estate holdings, family connections, inheritances and attainders. Humanity is so completely absent that I can only suppose this was a purposeful design, aimed at distancing the author from her subject-matter. Could it have been to avoid being tainted by the upsurge of heated emotions surrounding the discovery of the king’s body at the very moment her biography was in full flow? Again, one can scarcely blame her; but she must have realized that such an approach leaves huge gaps in any attempt to appreciate ‘what really happened and why’ as promised on the book-jacket.

Another deficiency, in this reviewer’s opinion, is the lack of engagement with the vexed problem of sources. In a collection of essays, space could have been made for one more to address the dating, authorship and reliability (or unreliability) of the several chronicle and narrative sources quoted. Thomas More’s Richard III is the honourable exception from this cavil, as Wilkinson is courageous enough to nail her colours to the mast of literary drama as opposed to history penned by a saint. However, she offers very few connecting links between many of her quoted sources and the Tudor climate within which they were written. Her wholesale acceptance of Polydore Vergil is more than a little disconcerting, especially as Vergil supplies almost her entire grounds for considering Margaret Beaufort’s candidacy as perpetrator of the alleged ‘murder’. Wilkinson is also surprisingly approximate about the Crowland Chronicle, and seems unaware of the 1986 Pronay and Cox edition which is absent from her bibliography. The edition she cites is that of H.T. Riley (1854). This explains why, among other odd remarks, her assumption of its author (footnote 2, page 173) ‘as is usually thought, John Russell’ is out of step with current thinking.

The lack of a narrative thread means that most of the essays discuss the princes’ death as a foregone conclusion requiring only the identification of its perpetrator, therefore the sudden appearance in the last four pages of a case for their possible survival comes as rather a shock. Obviously I am delighted to read Wilkinson’s comment on page 156 that, ‘Based on the rumours of survival, historians have speculated that the boys had been removed from the Tower and taken elsewhere.’ Footnote references to sources in Wilkinson’s final pages are thin on the ground, so the how and the why remain unexplained. Fortunately, anyone who has read my books will find this case, so superficially treated by Wilkinson, presented in depth in The Maligned King and more concisely in A Small Guide to the Great Debate. Cogent arguments will be found explaining exactly how its accomplishment could be reconciled with the known facts and the geography of the Tower of London, the latter point illustrated with a specially commissioned artist’s reconstruction.

Although I personally learned nothing new in the way of facts, sources, theories or arguments here presented – and nor will most well-read Ricardians – the book is certainly valuable as a dispassionate reiteration, by a historian unconnected with Ricardian circles, of material too often regarded as irrelevant by traditional thinkers. And a welcome change to find gossip and rumour treated as such rather than as fact. Wilkinson has made good use of the luxury of space available to examine a number of the items mentioned, although others which could benefit from elucidation are left in the air. Its principal weakness lies in the author’s lack of joined-up thinking, especially as to the practicalities of the theories she examines. On the whole, I’m guessing it will take a reader already well versed in the Yorkist era to find this book useful.

My new book in print on 29 May

  1. May, 2015

After research going back several years – and many interruptions – at last my study of Richard Duke of Gloucester as Protector and Constable is appearing as a self-published paperback at £8.50: see details below. For UK buyers it’s available via my online shop.

Overseas purchasers please contact me on – airmail postage is so expensive that I’m offering all territories a discounted inclusive price of £15. For Europe it’s £13.50 inclusive.

Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable of England

by Annette Carson, published by Imprimis Imprimatur, ISBN 978-0-9576840-4-1, 112 pages, including 10 appendices of original documents, several previously unpublished


Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) was appointed to a number of the highest offices of the realm by his brother King Edward IV, of which one of primary importance was Lord High Constable of England. He retained this office in 1483 while concurrently designated Protector and Defender of the Realm during the minority of Edward V. For a crucial few weeks Gloucester combined in his person two offices whose significance has been consistently misunderstood and overlooked. In effect he held overarching responsibility for defence of England against enemies from outside and rebels within, while exercising summary jurisdiction over the crime of treason. Presented in two parts, the book begins with the origins and development of the separate offices of Protector and Constable, considering their principal 15th-century incumbents and their place in the constitutional framework. It summarizes the laws governing the crime of treason, and indicates how successive monarchs, notably Edward IV, placed increasing reliance on the High Constable and his Court to deliver judgement and sentence in such cases. In the second part, this study addresses the misapprehensions (at the time and in subsequent centuries) about Gloucester’s responsibilities and powers, and examines the principal events during his protectorate in the context of both offices, viewed from the perspective of 15th-century precedent rather than 16th-century hindsight.

Richard reburied

  1. Apr, 2015

Back home and my energy and bank balance are exhausted after Leicester and York last week. The ‘street’ feeling in Leicester was unbelievable, the city packed with visitors and well-wishers, Richard’s cortege applauded and strewn with white roses as it passed. The James Butler statue, cleaned and re-endowed with its original full-length sword, found itself surrounded by a mounting heap of floral tributes.

I didn’t attend many of the services, but of those I did, I found Bishop Tim Stevens spoke the most sense. Where others waffled, Bishop Tim came straight out and said we’re talking about a mediaeval king here, what do we know of his times and his challenges? Precisely the issue I struggle with myself. Rushing to judgement seems to be a leftover from the Victorians that remains alive and well today, even with the internet and libraries so easily accessible to those who wish to inform themselves.

I had the privilege of meeting General Sir Richard Dannatt at the reburial. It occurred to me that in his profession, where lives are in jeopardy on a daily basis, he would probably understand his namesake better than any of us. Few people, from the comfort of their armchairs, care to imagine the terrible reality of kill or be killed.

Being at the tail-end of quite a long life, I find it difficult to reconcile myself to the minimalist approach to anointed royalty. In Britain we’ve always had proud traditions of wheeling out centuries-old ceremonial complete with the full panoply of horse-drawn coaches, military parades and regalia. Was it a deliberate judgement on a figure from the past whose reputation has been decided by the media? (‘Psychopathic child-killer’, blared the BBC’s Today programme on 20 March.) Or was it that our long-lost king must conform to aesthetic standards exemplified by the cathedral’s impersonal makeover, complete with exterior art installation that no one seemed to look at, let alone understand?

The Butler statue depicted a human person, and attracted flowers. Is there something wrong with that? The Reformation destroyed and whitewashed out some sublime works of art. Are we doomed to repeat this all over again? OK, de gustibus non est disputandum. The dean wanted to go down in history: let history decide.

Those very few echoes of the 15th century that weren’t vetoed were, to my mind, the most affecting aspects of Richard’s last journey. At Bosworth, though slashed to the bone, the small procession eventually permitted was reverential and emotive. At the kerb-side in Leicester, if you asked anyone what impressed them most, my guess would be the two mounted and authentically harnessed knights who flanked the gun-carriage. How moving it was to see them stand guard at the cathedral doors as Richard made his lonely entry, unaccompanied by anyone whose care it was to mourn him.

A few interim notes

  1. Mar, 2015

I’ve been prevented from updating any news about the reburial of Richard III because of the ongoing campaign for the university to allow him to lie – or at least be coffined – in a place of religion. We expect some news soon.

Meanwhile I have gone on record as applauding the Cathedral Board for agreeing to some improvements in their tomb design, and most importantly for discarding the ossuary and instead agreeing to allow King Richard to be laid out anatomically, which was how we found him and how he had lain for over 500 years. It is gratifying to know that now he will lie that way until he crumbles to dust.

Regarding the reburial week’s activities: Unfortunately the Richard III Society has announced my presence at certain events without asking me first. At the moment I don’t even know my own schedule, so I certainly haven’t confirmed whatever it is the Society says I am attending. I hope my friends won’t be misled: I have asked the Society to issue corrections. When I finalize my activities I’ll update them here and on my Facebook page.

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The final word from Leicester

  1. Nov, 2014

Today I found time to return to my blog at last, and for anyone who wonders what’s been happening, here is a link to our update on the negotiations in Leicester led by the Looking For Richard project.

There is little point in rehearsing the list of requests we made to Leicester’s Visitor Centre, Cathedral and University. Basically everything remains unchanged except for the agreed items mentioned in our announcement, although we are still monitoring various details (e.g. will the royal arms be correct, likewise the white roses on the floor tiles!).

That doesn’t mean we are satisfied, or that we have ceased applying pressure. However, I can say that for myself I see it as a massive relief that we now have agreement for Richard’s mortal remains to be laid out anatomically in his coffin, like a human person, not stacked as a pile of bones in a box. Since this determines how they will spend whatever years of existence are left to them, it happens to be of great significance to me. The cathedral’s resistance to this idea was incomprehensible.

The LFR team, especially Philippa Langley, did mountains of research finding precedents to support our case, among them how the Russian imperial family and household were interred in 1998, and the procedures followed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for the retrieved remains of the fallen.

It was, of course, just one of the many respectful details carefully planned and provided for ahead of the dig in LFR’s prior agreements, which the Leicester authorities have systematically dismantled since claiming the right to do what they see fit with Richard III’s remains. The basic human dignity we are calling for – that of being coffined in a Catholic place of religion and allowed to lie there to await reburial – was described last November by the Dean of Leicester Cathedral as a ‘fantasy’ and ‘more Disney than Richard III’.

Yet not only is laying out anatomically standard practice for procedures like war graves, so is placing the remains in a chapel of rest (of the person’s faith, if known) where they lie until buried. According to our original agreement this would have been done as soon as Richard III was identified and transferred to his designated custodian, Philippa Langley, who had all the plans in place for coffining by the proper authorities in a suitable Catholic location. In such a place his remains would and should have lain since February 2013, had not Leicester University refused to release them.

If you agree that the time for this to happen is long overdue, the LFR website suggests writing to a few well-chosen recipients to let them know that being stored and coffined in a laboratory, in an institution that prides itself on being secular, is inappropriate for a man, a monarch and a former head of state whose Christian faith was no less sincere than that of our present Queen Elizabeth.

Statement on LFR website

  1. Aug, 2014

This statement has been posted on the News page of the Looking For Richard website:

Letter from Philippa Langley

  1. Jul, 2014

This week Philippa Langley sent the following letter to all who supported and gave money to ensure the archaeological dig to find Richard III was paid for, in full, in advance, as required by the archaeological contractors ULAS. It is an advance copy of the letter she has sent to the Editor of the Richard III Society’s ‘Ricardian Bulletin’.

Dear Editor

A word about the Leicester Visitor Centre

In July 2013 I was invited by the owners, Leicester City Council, to write the story of the Looking For Richard Project for display within the new Richard III Visitor Centre. This would include a personal diary of the dig itself, plus an important prior section under the LFR banner, located within the ‘pre-dig’ space, explaining exactly how the 2012 dig came about. All was approved and agreed with the Council on 23 May 2014.

It was with some dismay that I then discovered my agreed text had been rewritten, post deadline, without my knowledge or consent, by a member of the management at the University of Leicester; a person who had no direct part in the 2012 dig project.

I feel I need to bring this to the attention of all Ricardians, because those of you who visit the Centre will no longer be able to see my acknowledgement of your crucial role in making Richard’s discovery possible. It was your funding that allowed me to give instructions for the remains in Trench One, which proved to be those of the king, to be exhumed despite the scepticism of the archaeologists.

My original text:

‘I tell Richard [Buckley] I want them to be excavated nevertheless. There is very little money in the budget, but I have £800 remaining from the Ricardian International Appeal which helped to fund the dig. Richard says this will cover it.’

University replacement text which you will now see:

‘I tell Richard I want them to be excavated nevertheless. Richard says he isn’t digging up any burials until he knows for certain about their “context”, that is how they relate to the layout of the church.’

Representatives of the Richard III Society and the Looking For Richard Project (including Dr John Ashdown-Hill) held a meeting with the Council on 23 June 2014 as a last-ditch attempt to reinstate my text. There had been a series of such meetings and discussions subsequent to the abandonment of Annette Carson’s initial draft text for the Centre, commissioned last August. Persons unknown had rewritten Richard’s story, and Annette, Phil Stone, Wendy Moorhen and I had done our best to secure a more accurate and balanced depiction. Now I had to deal with the rewriting of my own story, both here and elsewhere.

We proposed the following compromise:

‘I tell Richard I want them to be excavated nevertheless and I have the money to pay for it from the Ricardian International Appeal.’

With the University’s management represented among the Visitor Centre’s trustees, I am told the likelihood of these corrections being allowed is very slim, although the Centre is open to comments by visitors. Their text now makes no sense with the unfolding dig narrative, suggesting that the king’s remains were authorised for exhumation following discovery of the choir. They were not. They were authorised before the location of the choir was established. Why the University needs to suppress the role of Ricardians and their funding I have been unable to discover. No explanation has been forthcoming. Perhaps we are an inconvenient truth.

I must also report that the visual display of John Ashdown-Hill’s ground-breaking discovery in 2004 of the king’s DNA has been removed from the ‘pre-dig’ section where it was to have been visually represented under the banner of The Looking For Richard Project. Instead, genealogical lines are now displayed as part of the University’s area. The original proposal had been to include John’s discovery of the genealogical line to Joy Ibsen together with a photograph of Joy and her original letter to John from 2004 confirming her agreement for a DNA test. The genealogical line John discovered is now within the University’s section. As for the photo of Joy and her original letter, these have, at present, been excluded.

The University’s changes are subtle and may not seem significant. However, there will be many whose knowledge will leave them wondering at this representation of the contributions made by Ricardians. We have spent several months doing what we can, and I can only apologise that our best endeavours have failed to correct the record now displayed in the Visitor Centre.

Philippa Langley

Looking For Richard Project

York City Records quotation

  1. Jul, 2014

In the interests of accuracy: I am informed that there are TWO places where the quotation from the York minutes may be seen at the Visitor Centre. One is on a white wall panel among a number of other quotations. The other is in the main exhibition, and it is this one which is not attributed.

I find this disappointingly insensitive considering the ongoing debate which has been acrimonious on both sides (and no, I have never stated my own preferred burial place, so don’t ask!).

Richard III Visitor Centre, Leicester

  1. Jul, 2014

With the Richard III Visitor Centre opening this weekend, the ‘Looking For Richard Project’ team is saddened and profoundly disappointed by the exhibition.

Insofar as it purports to represent us, it has belittled and sidelined our work despite our members’ years of research and ground-breaking discoveries. It has removed acknowledgement that Philippa Langley commissioned the archaeologists; it has deleted Philippa’s references to the crucial financial support provided by Ricardians that enabled the exhumation of the king; it has positioned the director of the archaeological contractors, ULAS, as the determining force behind decisions made at the dig, while deliberately excising Philippa’s role, as the fee-paying client, whose authorisation (and extra payment) were what actually secured the exhumation of Richard III in the face of the archaeologists’ scepticism. We know this was deliberate because the City Council, the nominal organisers of the exhibition, admitted that they had been instructed by the University of Leicester to change Philippa’s previously agreed wording. This remains an issue that will need to be resolved if Philippa is to continue being associated with the display.

Particularly insulting is the repositioning of the genealogical record painstakingly compiled by Dr John Ashdown-Hill, which has been placed, against our wishes, in the section that boasts of the university’s achievements, instead of where it belongs within the ‘Looking For Richard Project’.

None of our team accepted our invitations to the opening. The concerns we have registered in writing and in meetings are not taken seriously and remain unresolved. They have been overridden by the university’s insatiable desire to position itself as the driving force behind the search for Richard III, rather than – as all Ricardians know – the interlopers who stepped in and grabbed overall control.

As regards the exhibits, we find especially offensive their ghoulish display of a projected image of the king’s remains lying in his grave. Careful agreements had been put in writing to prevent exploitative use of such sensitive images, now cynically cast aside. We know this will be devastating not only to those who had trusted that the discovery of Richard’s remains would be conducted with dignity, but indeed to all civilised visitors who believe in the concept of respect for the dead.

Other grotesque exhibits include the white-painted depiction of the king’s armour resembling a Storm Trooper from Star Wars, despite representatives of the council and university having attended the presentation by Dr Tobias Capwell in March 2013 (available on YouTube) where he described his armour and illustrated its actual probable appearance. As an example of the organisers’ taste in these matters, it was only by strenuous insistence that we removed the planned visual which was to greet visitors: the central throne was to be drenched in a sickening pool of blood which dripped down to form words written in blood on the floor below.

It seems the city will go to any lengths to imply spurious historic links with Richard III, as we see in the unattributed reproduction of the 1485 minute from the York City records, well known to all Ricardians as that city’s statement of regret at his death. Presumably by omitting any attribution they hope visitors will think it was written by Leicester. We are demanding that it be credited to the proper source.

These are just a few of the issues that our project has been grappling with. But it should not be overlooked that the history of the Wars of the Roses and Richard’s lifetime has also been subjected to manipulation.

They started off so well: commissioning me to write the display text and promising to liaise with proper specialist historians on aspects like the armour, the heraldry, and the battle of Bosworth itself. Then the person in charge ‘left suddenly’ and my text was ‘lost’ – allowing the Thought Police to take over and rewrite everything to suit their version of history. However, they couldn’t cut me out completely because when the Richard III Society was given the last-minute opportunity to review the replacement text, I was brought in alongside Phil Stone and Wendy Moorhen. In attempting to set Richard’s record straight I remember one particular 5-hour meeting in London: it lasted 5 hours because the new text was so secret (secret?!) that we weren’t permitted to see it before the meeting OR keep a record of our amendments. Philippa was scheduled to see it a couple of weeks later with those changes supposedly in place … and it is a testament to their continued underestimation of Philippa’s intellect that they clearly thought she wouldn’t spot where our corrections had been ignored. Wrong! You can’t fool Philippa Langley when it comes to someone whose life she has written a screenplay about!

Of course by cloaking it in secrecy they avoided the inconvenience of showing us everything, so we have no idea whether the factual amendments stipulated by the Richard III Society to the bits we saw were ever implemented. Please, therefore, we beg you: no matter what they claim, do not suppose that the text exhibited at the Visitor Centre has been approved by the Society or by the ‘Looking For Richard Project’.

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Books now in store

  1. Jul, 2014

Well, changing my website address proved rather a challenge for the domain name people, but after a few days’ hiatus I’m back online as It would be nice if Google caught up with events!

Meanwhile the amount of interest in the LFR project’s new book Finding Richard III: The Official Account has been very pleasing. I’ve always found self-publishing very successful as long as you know your readership and produce a good quality publication. Hopefully we’ll get around to publishing an eBook soon, which will make life easier for readers who live outside the UK.

I’ve set up purchasing of books at my Online Store, and I even have an additional email address for correspondence relating to purchases. So now I’m just crossing my fingers that it all works …

New article posted!

  1. Jul, 2014

I’m gradually adding some of my longer research articles which I hope will shed light on some of the stuff we all want to know about the life and times of Richard III. I’ve just added one called Henry IV’s Claim to the Throne – if you’re interested, you’ll find it on the page called Some Articles. Interesting to compare how the house of Lancaster justified its claim to the throne at the start of the century, compareed to the house of York in 1460.

New website address

  1. Jul, 2014

I realised that people were having trouble looking for my website because I’m not widely known as ‘ajcarson’, so I bit the bullet and changed the website address to my full name. Actually the Simplesite people made it very … well … simple. Much appreciated, guys. I need to be found more easily now because I shall be offering the new book, ‘Finding Richard III’, for sale as soon as it is published. Not long now, I hope.

A glimpse of the cover design

  1. Jun, 2014

Soon to be published – I’ll put up a notice as so

‘Finding Richard III: The Official Account’

  1. Jun, 2014

I’ve been silent for the past few weeks because I have been working intensively, editing and co-writing a small book with my colleagues in the Looking For Richard Project: the official account – at last – of all the research, preparations, documentation and negotiations involved in mounting the search for Richard’s grave. It’s written in academic vein, with sources dating back to the 15th century, lots of diagrams and old maps, plus 22 pages of original documents and papers published for the first time. This is the research that led us to believe that we had a very good idea of where Richard III’s body still lay, and that it was worth the effort of trying to find him. It’s been an intensive task to get a handful of people to delve back into their files and records, write their contributions, mutually agree the structure and content of the book, and finally get it into print. Watch this space for news of when it will be published!

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Paul Trevor Bale screenplay online

  1. Mar, 2014

I just had a message from Ricardian screenwriter Paul Trevor Bale saying that like me, he’s launched into cyberspace with a webite/blog using the same host, Simplesite. We’re neither of us techies, but we’re getting there! Just click on and you’ll be able to see a goodly excerpt from his excellent screenplay of Richard III’s life. The last I heard, the format was being crafted for a TV series or miniseries. Go take a look – it’s really good. Now all we need is for some TV mogul to produce it ….

The Doubters are appearing

  1. Mar, 2014

I just read this as a (partial) comment under someone else’s blog. Not the only person who doesn’t believe we found Richard III, but what interested me was that this person says s/he is an osteologist:

“I still feel there is too much weight being given to the statement that this is Richard III. Yes, the remains might well belong to him, but I do not think enough of the genetic/genealogical evidence has been presented or explained to sufficiently justify a definite identification. Whilst the archaeological evidence supports the possibility of the remains belonging to Richard, it is surely circumstantial (as an osteologist, I would prefer to review the evidence for scoliosis firsthand, not rely on a photograph of disarticulated vertebrae laid out in a convenient curve).”

By the way …

  1. Mar, 2014

I suppose everyone knows the grotesque Richard on the cover is based on Antony Sher’s own drawing of himself in the part at Stratford. As redrawn by the incomparable Geoff Wheeler.

Books now on sale here!

  1. Mar, 2014

Today I created an Online Shop where my books can be purchased using Paypal. My ‘Small Guide’ is self-published and I didn’t want to support the Great International Amazon Takeover, so I’ve set up a purchasing facility here. Up till now I’ve been charging £5 plus P&P, but I can see hassle ahead with the increased postage charges about to be imposed … so I’ve decided that in this Online Shop it will be £6 inclusive. That’s a flat rate of £1 postage anywhere in the world. My reprint this year saved a little on the unit cost, so I’m passing it on to buyers. Roll up, roll up!

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