The first full-length book about the discovery of Richard III's remains, by the person who led the archaeology team and the historian whose book spurred her on
The mystery of who Richard III really was has fascinated historians, readers and audiences familiar with Shakespeare's dastardly portrait of a hunchback monster of royalty for centuries. In 2012, the remains of a man with a curving spine, who possibly was killed in battle, were discovered underneath the paving of a parking lot in Leicester, England. Phillipa Langley, head of the Richard III Society, spurred on by the work of the historian Michael Jones, led the team of archaeologists who uncovered the remains, certain that she had found the bones of the monarch. When DNA verification later confirmed that the skeleton was, indeed, that of King Richard III, the discovery ranked among the great stories of passionate intuition and perseverance against the odds.
The news was widely reported by the British and worldwide, and was front-page news for both The New York Times and The Washington Post. Many believe that now, with King Richard III's skeleton in hand, historians will finally begin to understand what happened to him following the Battle of Bosworth Field (twenty miles or so from Leicester) and, ultimately, to know whether he was the hateful, unscrupulous monarch of Shakespeare's drama or a much more benevolent king interested in the common man.
Written in alternating chapters, with Richard's 15th century life told by historian Michael Jones (author of the critically acclaimed Bosworth - 1485) contrasting with the 21st century eyewitness account of the search and discovery of the body by Philippa Langley, The King's Grave is an extraordinary portrait of the last Plantagenet monarch and the inspiring story of the archaeological dig that finally brought the real King Richard III into the light of day.
In September 2012, the remains of England's Richard III, whose two-year reign marked the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and a long, bloody civil war, were exhumed from under a Leicester car park. Langley, who spearheaded the dig and a related TV documentary, and medieval historian Jones (Bosworth 1485), sought a more nuanced and complex Richard, hoping to quash the caricature of the murderous, hunchbacked psychopath vilified by Tudor propagandists and Shakespeare alike. Richard's skeleton exhibited severe scoliosis, but the disability didn't hamper his martial skills in battles that restored his brother Edward IV to the throne in 1471. The skeleton's wounds likely show that this last English king to die in battle led a courageous and carefully planned cavalry charge at Bosworth against an inexperienced, fearful Henry Tudor luckily saved by mercenary French pikemen. Moreover, the authors argue that Richard was an idealistic king with a keen sense of justice and humor. It is a solid, perceptive work that rights historical injustices, but Langley's recalling of premonitory goose bumps at Richard's lost grave and her hiring a graphologist to interpret Richard's handwriting is off-putting, and her passion devolves at times into cheerleading. Illus.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The King's Grave
An amazing account of great historical significance, reminding us that in this 21st Century there are still discoveries awaiting scientists, historians, archeologists, writers, and
all seekers of truth and knowledge.