Meeting Minutes - Catherine Ollerhead De Santis: Finding King Richard-May 17th.2018
The meeting began at 9:55 am with President Ed Herold welcoming everyone. There were 41 members in attendance. A special welcome back was made to Bruce Whitestone who was sidelined by a surgery in January. Also welcomed was today’s speaker, Catherine Ollerhead De Santis.
Announcements Coffee Club – Andy Curtis Meeting on alternate Thursdays @ 10:00 am at the Boathouse and the Airpark Café.
Activities – Ray Biffis - The tour of the firehall is May 29th. If the firefighters are called out the tour is cancelled. There is limited parking at the hall but you can park at the nearby parking lot. Meet at the door to the side of the firehall. - The Sleeman tour is scheduled for June 7th, 2018 at 6:30 to 8:30 pm at a cost of $10 which will include a sampling and a gift. - The Grand River luncheon cruise is scheduled for Wed. Sept. 19th, 2018. - The Elora Horse Race night is scheduled for Mon. Sept. 24th, 2018 for 30 to 40 guests.
Annual Fees – Fees of $80 now due. Please make payment to Treasurer, Alex Wilson.
Nominations for Board of Directors – Nominations are still open for the position of Vice-President. If you are interested in serving on the Board of Directors, contact John Proctor to make you interest known.
Recognition – President Herold thanked Club member volunteers, particularly on the Activities Committee and the Speakers’ Committee for their work.
Next speaker: Thurs. May 31st. - Asa Proveau -- "Brothers Brewery Guelph - Craft Beers"
Julian Sale introduced today’s speaker, Catherine Ollerhead De Santis who presented Finding King Richard.
Catherine Ollerhead De Santis, University of Guelph retiree and past Vice Chair of the Canadian Branch of the Richard III Society, introduces us to the mortal remains of England’s last Mediaeval Warrior King and the Real Game of Thrones! In August 2012, The “Looking for Richard” project asked Leicester University Archaeological Services to excavate a city council car park with the seemingly absurd long shot request to locate King Richard’s burial site. Long Shot Indeed!! On the second day of digging a skeleton was found that later proved to be Richard’s.
Catherine Ollerhead De Santis – Finding King Richard (A series of slides for Ms. Ollerhead De Santis’s presentation can be found on the Club website)
King Richard was 32 years old when he was killed near Leicester in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The Battle of Bosworth Field was the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the Houses of Lancaster and York that extended across England in the latter half of the 15th century. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians. Their leader Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, by his victory became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty. His opponent, Richard III, the last king of the House of York, was killed in the battle. Historians consider Bosworth Field to mark the end of the Plantagenet dynasty, making it a defining moment of English and Welsh history. Henry Tudor became Henry VII.
Following the battle, Henry wanted Richards mortal remains to be publicly displayed and the body then quickly interned so that there would be no opportunity for the body to become a magnet for a pilgrimage site. His body was probably taken into the Greyfriar’s church (a Franciscan Order) and then quickly buried.
Richard’s grave miraculously survived despite many rumours to the contrary. The Greyfriar’s fell into ruin but the site was largely left undisturbed. The site eventually became a private garden, a school playground, and later a castle parking lot. A mansion was built in the 1700’s narrowly missing the grave and in the 18th C. Richard’s feet got chopped off when the Victorians built a new outhouse. There was no further displacement and the bones were found much as they had been placed in the grave. In the grave it was evident that his hands had been tied.
In August, 2012 the Finding King Richard Project contacted the Leicester Archeological Society to excavate the car park to see if they could find King Richard’s body. This was kind of a long shot. On the second day of the dig they luckily found the grave and the skeleton of Richard III. The news of the find was kept quiet until all of the DNA evidence was determined. But once the news got out people lined up around for blocks just to see the grave site. On February 5th, 2013, the remains were publicly confirmed as being King Richard III’s body and the conclusive evidence was the matching of Richard’s DNA with two maternal descendants 17 generations later. Richard didn’t have any surviving children but the DNA was traced through his sister’s descendants.
Who was Richard? He was born in 1452, the twelfth of thirteen children. The civil war at the time was the original Game of Thrones. It was the war between the House of Lancaster (Red Rose) and the House of York (White Rose). This war impacted everyone of every status at that time. After the Battle of Towton in 1461 brought the Yorkists into power, Richard’s brother became Edward IV. After Edward came to power the two brothers began to fight each other. There was a brief interval of peace from 1471 to 1483 following which Edward dies and leaves the crown to a 12 year old boy. But then Richard puts the two nephews in the Tower of London and they are never heard from again. Richard then seizes the throne. His reign, from July 1483 to August 1485 is shortest reign of any king of England which ended at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485.
Following the battle, the dead Richard was stripped naked and put on the back of a horse to be paraded back to Leicester. On the way back he was abused and suffered additional wounds by enemy soldiers. At Leicester he was displayed naked so that there was no mistake that he was dead.
Ms. Ollerhead De Santis showed and discussed the catalogue of the wounds that Richard received. Many wounds were violent enough to penetrate to the bone level. There were at least 10 perimortem wounds. She also showed and discussed pictures of the kinds of weapons that were very likely used to kill and mutilate Richard.
The skeleton of Richard III showed that he had scoliosis, a double curvature of the spine. In life without the curvature of the spine, he would have been about 5’8” but curved like the skeleton was he was probably about 5’4”. He was described by his contemporaries as small, and feminine-like. Scoliosis compromises the spine and breathing would have become increasingly more painful. The skeleton shows secondary arthritic changes indicating that he was a man who spent much time in the saddle and fighting. However, there is no historical evidence that Richard’s scoliosis compromised anything that he did. But wearing a full suit of plate armour and once Richard was un-horsed, he would have been an easy target for his enemies.
Forensic evidence of Richard’s bones indicate that while he was the ruling king, his upper class lifestyle was lavish with lots of rich food and a high consumption of alcohol and with little time for rest thus making him a less fit person for his fighting ability.
Ms. Ollerhead De Santis informed us about the 2015 reinternment of Richard’s bones. There were thousands of people who showed up from all over the world. There were thousands of white roses everywhere for the family of York. The bones were placed in a wooden coffin made by the living descendent from seventeen generations later. His bones were taken by a hearse from Leicester to Bosworth and then mounted on a gun carriage for a process back to Leicester Parrish. The coffin stayed in repose in the Church of St. Martins of Leicester for the next week. About 25,000 people lined up to view the coffin. Richard was buried within sight of where his bones were discovered.
We were also shown a picture of King Richard’s prayer book which has been preserved and placed on Richard’s coffin. In it Richard had written in his own handwriting:
Lord Jesus, deem to free me your servant, King Richard, from every tribulation, sorry and trouble in which I am placed. Hear me in the name of your goodness for which I give thanks and for all the gifts granted to me because you made me from nothing and redeemed me out of your bounteous love and pity from eternal damnation to possible eternal life.
Ms. Ollerhead De Santis completed her presentation by responding to questions from the membership.