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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick. http://www.faysampson.co.uk

Richard III, I Slept With Royalty

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ February 5, 2013

Lovers of English history around the world were thrilled at the news that "A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as that of English king Richard III.

"Experts from the University of Leicester said DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the monarch's family.

"Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, told a press conference to applause: "Beyond reasonable doubt it's Richard."

I have been a champion of King Richard III for many years, ever since reading Josephine Tey’s excellent historical sleuthing novel Daughter of Time http://ning.it/VQUH3t in which she presents the evidence that Richard did not kill his nephews, no matter how affecting the story of the "Princes in The Tower" which I had adored since childhood.

But the news of the DNA match to a known living ancestor of Richard’s came even closer to home: "After painstaking genealogical research, they found a 17th-generation descendant of Richard's sister with whose DNA they could compare any remains.

"Joy Ibsen, from Canada, died several years ago but her son, Michael, who now works in London, provided a sample." So the BBC News story went.

Michael Ibsen! What fun to have brushed shoulders with an historical link! When my now son-in-law was living in London working at St. James Sussex Gardens, he lived in a flat provided by the church. And his roommate was Michael Ibsen, musician and cabinetmaker.

The evening (Candlemas 2002) when Michael’s flatmate returned home engaged to our daughter, Michael took the pictures of the radiant couple. When they were married the next year in Wakefield Cathedral, Michael served as usher.

A few years later when I needed a room in London before catching an early flight home after a research trip, Michael was my host, leaving the key to the flat at the taxi stand next door since I would arrive at the apartment before he got home from work. Michael was a charming host and a perfect gentleman.

Still, with all the hoopla in the news, it’s fun to be able to say, "I slept with royalty," even if we were very properly in separate rooms.

Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Reader Comments:

Oh, what a wonderful post, and what a wonderful thing to be able to say. That's amazing! And I share your fondness for Richard III. I loved Josephine Tey's book too.
-SheilaDeeth, February 5, 2013

Fascinating, Donna! What an intriguing link to royalty! I wonder how it must feel to have genealogical researchers turn up on your doorstep to say "you have descended from Richard III's sister and we require your DNA immediately to identify his remains". I've been following this story of Richard III closely, having attended the re-enactment of the Battle of Bosworth Field last year!
-scskillman, February 6, 2013

Donna, what a fantastic post! I am a true Anglophile and love this history. Richard III is an ancestor of mine--I haven't narrowed down to what degree yet, but am working on it.

This is such an interesting story for you to share. Thanks!
-Carole Lehr Johnson, February 6, 2013

Thank you, Sheila D. I noticed DAUGHTER OF TIME is now a bestseller on Amazon--this must be causing lots of people to turn to it.

Sheila S--I read somewhere that the Ibsen family was highly amused when they heard of their auspicious ancestor. I'm sure they didn't expect it to lead to such worldwide notoriety. Michael is very quiet and soft-spoken. Can't imagine him lofting a battleaxe on Bosworth Field.

Carole--that must mean that you and Michael are related!! What fun--you have family in London!
-Donna, February 6, 2013

Brilliant story, Donna, with a great photo to go with it.
-Dolores, February 7, 2013

Thank you, Dolores. I assume you mean the one of Elizabeth's wedding, but i also love the one of the Little Princes. That was the one in our "Book of Knowledge" encyclopedia with the story of The Princes in The Tower. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I pored over it for hours and hours. I was so pleased when I found it again in Google images.
-Donna, February 7, 2013

Hi Donna
If we're talking daughters - and doesn't Elizabeth look lovely - my story isn't nearly as amazing as yours, but involves the Little Princes. My daughter, Helen, went to Royal Holloway, University of London, who own the original of the Little Princes painting. Royal Holloway was founded in the Victorian era and they have a large collection of Victorian art, of which they're very proud. Helen's main lecturer (she studied history) was Amanda Vickery, a huge expert on the Georgians. If you can get Amanda Vickery's "History of Private Life" available on BBC Audio, I'm sure you'd love it.
-Dolores, February 8, 2013

Dolores, that's such fun that both our daughters have a connection to the Little Princes! I thought the painting obviously Victorian, but I didn't know any of its history. I would love to see the original. Never mind that the Victorians sentimentalized,I really enjoy their art. Of course, in Manchester you have a wonderful collection of pre-Raphaelites. We were there once when a special show was going on--everyone was wearing "flame."
-Donna, February 8, 2013

Inspired by you, Donna, I've blogged about Richard 111 too. It's on www.doloresgordon-smith.co.uk.
I couldn't resist it - I called it Par-King!
-Dolores, February 10, 2013

Great post, Donna. Love this period of English history.
Geraldine
-Geraldine Evans, March 24, 2013

How delightful to have a personal connection with Michael Ibsen, and therefore with Richard III, and how fitting that Michael crafted the coffin for his illustrious forbear. I, too, believe that Richard III was unjustly maligned after his brave last stand at Bosworth, discredited by the Tudor propaganda machine. And I cannot think he murdered his two nephews in the tower, although what happened to them is still a mystery.
-Gwyneth Bledsoe, March 23, 2015

Josephine Tey's novel is a work of fiction, written by a woman whom, I suspect, was already a sympathizer with Richard. We have to bear this in mind when we read books like this about historical figures.

There has been enough propaghanda from the Pro-Ricardian camp in recent years, and from the Yorkists in the fifteenth century to make thier testimony open to doubt. They also vilified their political rivals, such as the unfortunate Queen Margaret of Anjou, the wife of King Henry VI, from whom Richard's brother took the throne in the first place. Her only 'crime' was to fight for her family, and her cause. For that she has been vilified as cruel, murderous, unnatural, and sexually promiscious.
There is no evidence of the latter, and she was no more ruthless then her enemies, when one looks at the number of people they killed.

I also find the argument that 'Richard could not have done it because he was such a nice person' highly suspect. We have to be honest about human nature, and human motivations. Many people of this time were driven by lust for power and ambition. Richard's brother had eliminated almost everyone who was a threat to his power and position.
We don't know what Richard was like. He may have done good things, and showed kindness to some, but the entire history of the human race shows us that people who seem nice can be very different in private, and even the best of us can be driven to extreme measures in certan circumstances.

Also, it should not be forgotten that in the Middle Ages, piety and extreme violence were not considered irreconcilable.


-Medievalgirl01, August 13, 2016

What a wonderful, thought-provoking analysis. Thank you so much for taking time to share it! I especially find it interesting to consider how society's viewpoint changes over time--each age has its own set of standards to judge by and judging the past by our values does skew things. A good example of that is Edward I who was considered a most noble prince in his day by the English because Medieval kings were supposed to be great war leaders, and today is villified for his cruelty to the Scots and Welsh.
-Donna, August 13, 2016

Very true. We historians are taught from a very early stage not to judge the past by modern standards- at least we were where I studied.

It does show how propaghanda and poltical spin is not a modern phenomena. Take poor Queen Margaret mentioned above. Accusing a woman of sexual impropriety was the norm if you wanted to destoy her reputation, but there was more too it then that, as it was also suggested by default that King Henry VI, her husband was not his father. No evidence that he was not of couse, but it was done to discredit his heir.

Being French, a woman and on the losing side did not help- but some people still want to think the worst of her in a misguided attempt to make the other side look good.

There is also a curious tendency now to ignore/deny the ancient Welsh and English royal ancestry of Henry Tudor. Its as if some people want to distance him from the Yorkists/Plantagenets because they like to think they were more 'moral'. Hardly.

The problem as I see it is lack of information and how people allow their bias to inform their perspective. It also doesn't help that some 'historians' seem to be more interested in money , making a name for themselves, or proving their pet theories then getting as close to the objective truth as we can.
-Medievalgirl01, August 13, 2016

Its interesting even about Edward I in Wales. I tend to say the past is rarely 'black and white' goodies vs baddies as we like to think. In fact, it was one of the Welsh Princes who first got Edward I involved in Wales if I recall.

Robert the Bruce served in Edward I's Household for some time as a teenager, and if I recall either he or his father served on the Welsh campaigns. Also, he had as much Norman and English ancestry as 'Scottish' or 'Celtic'.
Nor was he adverse to killing his own people on occasions. There are reports that he massacred peasants when ravaging the lands of his political rivals the Comyns to break their power. His brother did a similar thing in Ireland.

It pays to keep in mind the realities of the time before making absolute judgements about the figures involved. With us humans, there is always 'good and bad on both sides' and a measure of both in everyone.
-Medievalgirl01, August 13, 2016

I think that is one of the major things a study of history teaches one--things don't really change. Technology does, but people don't. Another important lesson I've learned from history is that, no matter how bad things might be now--there have always been darker times. And yet the light has always been rekindled.

So true--the importance of remembering that it's the victors who write the history. It's not always just spin, though, for each age to learn something new when we examine history under our own lens--not to rewrite it, but to see a new truth to apply to our own age.

Ooooh, wish we could get together for a cup of tea--what a great discussion we could have!
-Donna, August 13, 2016

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