Monday, June 15, 2009


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.


  1. Hi, Joan -- congratulations on your new blog -- and I'm the first to post - and your first follower! Looking forward to reading your book!

  2. Welcome Lynn and congratulations on being the first to comment. I'm looking forward to your opinion of my book.

  3. Welcome to blogdom!

    Oh, there's so many of those myths, or at least stories that have become received wisdom without ever having been proven! There's the story that Richard and Anne were childhood sweethearts, the story that Anne was frail, the story that Richard himself was a sickly child, the story that Richard's son was sickly . . .

  4. Yes! Thank you Susan. After thinking of the two in the post, I blanked, so I decided to count on people to stop by and add to the list. I completely agree with your suggestions and they have been added.

  5. Joan:

    First, congratulations on starting a blog. I'm very pleased with what I found here.

    Second, to address the myth that Richard was "frail". There may be some basis for this, in that some anonymous chronicler of Richard's family noted that "Richard liveth yet". This oould some mean just about anything, and not necessarily be connected with any basic "frailty", but at some point, when he was a child, his family may have been worried about his health for some reason, at some point in his early life.

    Finally, I hope you won't mind if I become a follower, and add you to my own Honorable Blogroll, which is located at The Writer's Daily Grind at:

    Anne G

  6. Hi Anne,

    Welcome--I love that you've decided to follow my blog. I've added your blog to my list--it was an oversight since I was aware of it. I will follow The Writer's Daily Grind later today or tomorrow.

    On Richard being frail or sickly: I do remember reading the "Richard liveth yet" phrase in a few places. But according to Sutton & Visser-Fuchs on p 25 of Richard III's Books, the Bokenham dedication written in 1456: "...Latin text is very flattering to York (far more than the English version)..."

    I think there are many myths that have arisen because of a particular interpretation of the Latin. So, perhaps "Richard liveth yet" needs to be busted or substantiated>

  7. Well, I know I read somewhere in my M.A. program that Sir Thomas More's portrayal of Richard III was a) never published nor intended for publication, and b) was intended mainly as satire. Not sure I can follow up with references, but perhaps that's a myth in itself?

  8. Welcome, Val.

    Oh, I like that topic about More's "History". The unfinished work wasn't published in More's lifetime. According to Bertram Fields in Royal Blood, the work was first published in 1543 by Ricard Grafton and a different version was published by More's nephew, William Rastell in 1557. More wrote it circa 1513-1515.

    I just recently participated in a discussion on just this topic in the Richard III group at Goodreads--darned if I can find it, though. Anyway, I'll add this to the list.

  9. There's a 1992 article in "The Ricardian" by Anne Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs entitled, "'Richard Liveth Yet': An Old Myth." As they point out, the comment appears in the context of a listing of the descendants of Joan of Acre and Gilbert de Clare and ends with a listing of the various children of Richard, Duke of York, some of whom are described as having died:

    "George was next, and after Thomas
    Borne was, which sone aftir did pace
    By the pathe of dethe into the heavenly place.
    Richard liveth yet; but the last of alle
    Was Ursula, to him God list calle."

    Earlier, Richard, Duke of York himself is spoken us as "Richard which yet liveth."

    Taken in context, the "Richard liveth yet" comment is plainly a statement of genealogical fact, not a comment on young Gloucester's health.