An article in today’s Daily Mail has sparked outrage on the net and quite rightly, because the man who wrote it is either still working for Henry Tudor or he knows no more history than William Shakespeare did. I’m going to take the points in the article one by one:
- ‘The grotesque televised travesty’ was actually a beautiful and suitably solemn occasion in which the people of Leicester and others literally from around the world, came together to pay homage to a king.
- Richard, says Thornton was ‘without question one of the most evil, detestable tyrants ever to walk this earth.’ This is such nonsense that words here almost fail me and I cannot find enough space to compile a list of people more evil than Richard.
- The ‘shameful and outrageous cost of more than £2.5 million’ which Thornton says could have ‘fed and housed a multitude of homeless’ was actually raised privately.
- I don’t know who the spectator was whom Thornton found who regarded the whole thing as ‘an undignified, money-grabbing pantomime’ and one wonders why he was there at all. Attendance was not compulsory!
- Thornton’s take on the Battle of Bosworth would make my Year Seven students howl with laughter – that leading a charge against a much larger enemy was somehow the work of ‘a murderous pragmatist’. That must have been the motive for every deed of heroism by a British army since its formation in 1685.
- No, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has not, as Thornton would have it, ‘temporarily misplaced his marbles’. His eulogy was balanced and fair. Almost everything that Henry VII did during his government was pinched directly from Richard III.
- The execution of Lord Hastings was, by our standards, summary and unjust but not, by the standards of the time and if we try to apply our norms to those of Richard, it simply won’t work. Why, for example, didn’t the king open bridges and go skiing at Klosters? Thornton has not only misunderstood the 15th century, he has no idea what went on.
- Rivers, Grey and Vaughan were all executed because they, along with the rest of the Woodville family, were conspiring to remove the Princes from Richard’s care, even though Richard had been appointed their protector by the boys’ father, his brother Edward.
- Because we now know that Shakespeare’s description of Richard has some basis in fact because of his scoliosis, Thornton assumes that Shakespeare is right about everything else as well. Shakespeare got his ‘facts’ from fiction writers like Ralph Holinshed. Gullible politicians like Thomas More and enemies of Richard like Cardinal Morton.
- Richard did not have Henry VI murdered – his brother Edward did.
- Richard did not brutally murder Edward Prince of Wales, he was killed in the rout after the Battle of Tewkesbury.
- There is no hard evidence to suggest that Richard murdered the Princes in the Tower. He emerges as the most likely candidate, but by no means the only one – think Henry VII, the Duke of Buckingham etc.
- Thornton should also look up a definition of what a serial killer is, because by no sense of that definition can Richard be accused.
- Thornton says Richard ‘slaughtered 27 of his subjects’ (a figure even larger than Shakespeare claimed) and equates this with Adolf Hitler (responsible for the murder of millions) and Vladimir Putin, who, rather like Richard, has been accused of murder but never tried in a court of law.
‘If we can turn a child killer into a national hero for children to cheer and admire, then just about anything seems possible.’ – even that the Daily Mail should give Michael Thornton a job.