...Richard III has been found. A skeleton disinterred from a parking lot in Leicester, England, has been identified as that of Richard killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. According to a story by John Burns, NYTimes, the body has been identified by matching the skeleton's DNA with that of descendents of Richard's sister.A notable achievement, no doubt. Even more fascinating is the possibility that Richard's reputation will be freed from the calumny of the Tudors. "Among those who found his remains, there is a passionate belief that new attention drawn to Richard by the discovery will inspire a reappraisal that could rehabilitate the medieval king and show him to be a man with a strong sympathy for the rights of the common man, who was deeply wronged by his vengeful Tudor successors. Far from the villainous character memorialized in English histories, films and novels, far from Shakespeares damning representation of him as the limping, withered, haunted murderer of his two princely nephews, Richard III can become the subject of a new age of scholarship and popular reappraisal, these enthusiasts believe."Is this the end of productions featuring the nazification of Richard and his cronies in Shakespeare's Richard III? Stay tuned. And yes, whatever the state of Richard's soul upon his demise, he was a Catholic, having preceded Henry VIII, by some years.(And there are many other amusing details in Burns's wonderfully written account.)And for dessert, read the comments at the Times story. A lot of Richard fans and foes!UPDATE: This Just In, 2/6/13: The Tablet has its say. HT: Jim McCrea
Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal.