Friday, June 19, 2009

Deer in my back yard

I happened to look out my kitchen window the other day and saw this sight:

Deer from Kitchen Window 1
Deer eating leaves

(click on each thumbnail for full view)

I live about 15 miles north of New Haven, Connecticut and while there are some small farms, the town is pretty much a part of suburbia. But we do have our share of wild life. In addition to the deer population, there are coyotes, red fox, ground hogs, raccoons, opossum, kestrels, hawks, eagles, owls, and a variety of birds, which I'm crap at identifying beyond little yellow bird, little black and white bird, and the more readily identifiable crows, blue jays, and wood peckers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Myth busting series: Did Edward V have a diseased jaw?

In 1674, workers at the Tower of London exposed bones of two children in a pit ten feet deep under a stairwell that was part of the White Tower. About four days after the bones were found, Charles II, then king of England, declared these bones were those of the princes and placed in an urn in Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey after giving them a funeral. In 1933 Professor Wright examined the bones and concluded the lower jaw of the older child was diseased. If Edward V had a diseased or infected jaw, then this finding would strengthen the theory that the bones belonged to the princes. But did he?

I could find no specific mention of Edward V having had a diseased jaw or having serious health problems in searching through contemporary documentation. The one mention I did find is from Mancini’s Usurpation: “...the young king, Edward V, felt himself to be awaiting death in the Tower.” Mancini mentions Argentine (Edward V’s physician) by name but doesn’t claim to have received this information directly from Argentine.

Edward may well have feared for his life since the important members of his entourage (Rivers, Grey, and Vaughan) had been arrested, held for treason and later executed.

The next account is found in More’s History of King Richard the Third (not contemporary, but he did have access to people who were Richard III’s contemporaries). The dowager Queen, Elizabeth protested that the younger prince “...nedeth good loking to, hath a while ben so sore diseased vexed with sicknes, and is so newly rather a lyttle amended then well recouered...” While this is hearsay, she may well have protested in this manner in an attempt to keep Richard of York with her in sanctuary rather than give him up to their uncle. In any case, even More’s account doesn’t say that Edward was ill.

Another factor may be from the excavation and examination of bones from a cousin, Anne Mowbray. The bones showed she had a rare congenital absence of both left second molars. According the to the 1965 article on Anne Mowbray’s teeth, the older of the tower bones shows the distal maxillary premolars had failed to develop and the younger of the bones had a suppressed second milk molar.

In the absence of DNA evidence that would match the bones’ DNA to Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV, and facial reconstruction using the skulls and then seeing if either skull matches up with portraits of Edward V, this, for me, is the most convincing argument that the bones could be those of the princes.


C. A. J. Armstrong, ed., The Usurpation of Richard III, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1936.

Bertram Fields, Royal Blood, New York, ReganBooks, 2000.

Thomas More, The History of King Richard the Third, online at University of Oregon, read here.

Article on Anne Mowbray’s teeth from Br Med J, v.2(5477); Dec 25, 1965, link to PDF excerpt.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Really cool search tool using Google Books

Google Books 'my library' button doesn't just allow you to catalog the books you own on their site, but also allows you to search those books electronically.


"Most web users are at least marginally aware of Google Books. I frankly had not been aware that the site has a "my library" feature, which allows you to import the books you have on your own bookshelves. You can do this by searching Google Books for the title you have and then clicking "add to my library," or you can go to your library list, click import books, and type in the ISBN. The video above also shows that with a handheld scanner (or using your computers webcam and appropriate software) to can rapidly add large numbers of books to the database.

The advantage of compiling "your library" in this fashion is, of course, that when you search Google Books for a keyword or phrase or topic, you can opt to search only the books you already have at home. Nice.

Info found at The Centered Librarian, a blog created by/for librarians but of interest to any serious bibliophile."

You don't need a handheld barcode scanner to enter books into 'my library'. search for the book by title and then click the 'my library' button to add the book. Like the blog's writer, I had no idea what "my library" did for me. Now, I can use Google books to search my print books electronically. It's the best of both worlds!

note: I know I've posted this information on numerous boards and discussion groups--but I think this information bears repeating.


Taking a cue from the TV show, Mythbusters, I thought it would be fun to "bust" some myths that surround Richard III. The obvious one that he was physically deformed has been thoroughly debunked, but there are other myths that have become popular "truths" that bear scrutiny. Two myths that immediately come to mind are that Richard III and Francis Lovel were childhood friends and that Richard's nephew, Edward V had a diseased jaw.

I invite readers of this blog to suggest more myths for discussion.