Friday, July 24, 2009

In the spirit of Mythbusting...

Apollo 11 Moon Landing really happened.

Unfortunately, a small percentage of people in the conspiracy fringes hold that the 1969 moon landing never happened--it was all staged in a studio.

Nonsense! It really happened and is so well documented that it boggles my mind that about 6% of Americans think this glorious event was a hoax. So I'm pleased to share National Geographic's own Mythbusting article.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Horace Walpole: Vampires , Doubts, and Serendipity

I recently picked up The Vampyre: A Bedside Companion edited by Christopher Frayling and in the introduction I stumbled upon the name of Horace Walpole as having written what is often considered to be the first gothic novel (Castle of Otranto (1764)) based on a nightmare he’d had. “What?” thought I. “Could this have been written by the same Walpole who wrote Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard III (1768)?” A quick Google search revealed it was indeed the same person. So not only was he an early revisionist, but also a Gothic novel pioneer.

What I like about Doubts is that he questioned the prevailing “historical facts” of the time that Richard committed the following crimes:

1. His murder of Edward prince of Wales, son of Henry the Sixth.
2. His murder of Henry the Sixth.
3. The murder of his brother George duke of Clarence.
4. The execution of Rivers, Gray, and Vaughan.
5. The execution of Lord Hastings.
6. The murder of Edward the Fifth and his brother.
7. The murder of his own queen.

Because the executions are so well documented and there is no doubt that they did take place, Walpole instead questions More’s assumptions of Richard’s motivations.

Regardless of whether his conclusions were correct, the real value in Doubts for me is that he questioned the “facts” about Richard III and kept the door open for more research. As George Carlin said, “Question everything.”

So what does this have to do with serendipity? According to the article (cited) and the etymology given in The American Heritage Dictionary, Walpole is accredited with coining this word.

Horace Walpole
Historic Doubts

Friday, July 10, 2009

Myth: Richard and Anne were childhood sweethearts

Since, by his actions, Richard appeared to be faithful to Anne throughout his marriage (although there is some indication that he may have strayed once or twice) and he seemed to genuinely mourn his wife’s death, many Ricardians retrofitted these behaviors and flat-footedly declared that he therefore must have been in love with her since his childhood.

Regardless of Richard’s motivations to marry Anne--and surely Anne’s inheritance played some major part--his behavior is the more telling as to his feelings for his wife once they were married. For one, in order to marry Anne, Richard had to effectively accept a prenuptial that denied transfer of Anne’s inheritance to him (the amount granted as condition that Clarence drop his claim) should their marriage end in divorce. (I could only find second hand reference to this in Markham and Kendall and this from Croyland:
“...At last, their most loving brother, king Edward, agreed to act as mediator between them; and in order that the discord between princes of such high rank might not cause any hindrance to the carrying out of his royal intentions in relation to the affairs of France, the whole misunderstanding was at last set at rest, upon the following terms: the marriage of the duke of Gloucester with Anne before-named was to take place, and he was to have such and so much of the earl's lands as should be agreed upon between them through the mediation of arbitrators; while all the rest were to remain in the possession of the duke of Clarence...”

However, I found a mystery surrounding the marriage. Up until the publication of Peter Clarke’s article in 2005 on English Royal Marriages and the Papal Penitentiary, it was thought that Richard married Anne without the requisite Papal dispensation. According to this article: “...they had sought a dispensation to marry from the penitentiary in early 1472, for it was granted on 22 April that year, and they were probably married shortly afterwards.” So, by the date on the dispensation, they should have been married no earlier than the end of April of that year (allowing time for the dispensation to reach them). But according to a letter (690) written by John Paston on the 17th of February 1472, Richard and Anne had already married! This predates the dispensation. If the date on Paston’s letter is accurate, then Richard and Anne must have wedded without this document, but only with the assurance that they would get it soon.

Assuming these dates are correct and that Richard had less to gain from the marriage because the “spoils” were divided between Anne and her sister, Isabel and possibly because Richard would be left with little if they divorced, can one conclude that by the time of their marriage, Richard was following his heart?


Clarke, Peter D. English Royal Marriages and the Papal Penitentiary in the Fifteenth Century. English Historical Review Vol. CXX No. 488. 2005

Croyland Chronicle Continuations, 1453-1486. Richard III Society, American Branch

Gairdner, James. The Paston Letters 1422-1509 A.D. Volume III, Westminster. Archibald Constable and Co., Ltd. 1900. Letter 690

Kendall, Paul Murray. Richard the Third. New York. W. W. Norton & Company Inc. 1955.

Markham, Sir Clements R. Richard III: His Life & Character Reviewed in the Light of Recent Research. New York. Russell & Russell. First published 1906 (rescued 1968 by Russell & Russell).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Deer update

Momma and her fawn were cavorting in my yard today and stopped long enough for me to snap a couple of photos.


momma sees me

note to self: go back to Ricardian things, enough with this cuteness!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Deer returns

I looked out my front door yesterday and was greeted by this sight:


deer in front yard 2

I thought it was curious that the deer seemed to be resting in the open (sort of) in the middle of the day and even wondered if it had the equivalent of 'mad cow' disease. Later, however, my mate noticed a fawn and this deer cavorting on my neighbor's lawn. Was she giving birth in my front yard? Wish I had stayed at the door watching. What a sight that would have been!