When you’re a small-R republican, there can be little interest piqued when discussing the reputation of a king who died in 1485. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but notice the Richard III Society, a group of people who strive to prove that Richard III wasn’t the heartless tyrant that Shakespeare and history portray him to be. This effort includes the excavation and identification of Richard III’s remains in 2012-2013.
History is important and all, but really? Even if history was erroneously written by the victors, are we really missing out on anything by misinterpreting the two year reign of a man who came to power by invalidating his late brother’s marriage and banishing his young nephews to the Tower of London? From where they were never heard from again?
In a era where In-laws and cousins often had each other executed, Richard’s tactics may be standard operating procedure, but what nuggets of wisdom do we hope to garner by discovering that Richie3’s street rep was unfounded?
Perhaps the lesson to be taken is that if you’re concerned about your reputation, even your legacy, maybe you should take greater effort to make sure you get to write your own story, primarily by keeping your enemies from defeating you. And burying your desecrated corpse at the site of a future mini-mall parking lot.
Or maybe you should avoid getting enemies in the first place. Fortunately, most of us weren’t born into the English royal family of the 15th century.