I have a host of weird hobbies and interests. One of them consists in collecting materials coming from Ricardian Apologists. To honor this interest of mine, I will regularly post reviews of Ricardian sources and start a new page on this blog where I will gather links pertaining to the topic of Ricardian Apology. It might seem like a boring subject at first, but bear with me, and I will tell you why it's fascinating.
We have all heard the opening lines of Shakespeare's Richard III:
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York.In Richard III, Shakespeare presents Richard as a nasty, ugly, humpbacked character who compensates for his lack of male charms with an unquenchable thirst for power:
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun,
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore,--since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,--
I am determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 by Henry Tudor who started the Tudor dynasty. His death is often considered to be the symbolic end of the Middle Ages in England. Richard has been accused (and this is very important) of murdering his two young nephews who were legitimate successors to the throne. Ricardians believe that Richard was unjustly accused of killing the boys. They have offered very strong arguments as to why it makes no sense to accuse Richard of killing the two young princes and as to who was the real murderer. I will acquaint you with the Ricardian version(s) of events little by little.
Now you might ask why I, who am neither a medievalist nor a scholar of English history, became so interested in Richard III. When I was 9, I discovered the story of Boris Godunov, the Russian tsar who, just like Richard III, rose to the throne against enormous odds and was accused of killing the little prince Dmitri who was a legitimate heir to the throne. There are two famous literary works in Russian literature that take competing positions as to Godunov's guilt in the murder of the little Prince. Pushkin, the greatest Russian poet, wrote a famed play called Boris Godunov that supports the version of Godunov's guilt.
A.K. Tolstoy (not to be confused with a much inferior Leo Tolstoy, the author of the vapid Anna Karenina and War and Peace), however, wrote a much better (in my opinion) play titled Tsar Boris where he suggests that Godunov was not to blame for killing the Prince. I was so impressed by these competing literary accounts that I wrote my first piece of literary criticism at the ripe old age of nine, comparing these two works of literature.
The myth of Boris Godunov, an upstart who ascends to the throne as a result of cunning and a murder of a prince of blood, is as much a mark of Russian bloody separation from the Middle Ages as the story of Richard III is of England's.
Now think about what's going on in the US today for a second. Are we not living through a very similar debate as to who is more worthy of ascending to the throne, Bush Jr., who inherited it or Obama, who forged his birth certificate? Oh, you don't think he forged it? Well, maybe Richard III and Boris Godunov didn't kill anybody either. Maybe a painful entrance into modernity is always accompanied by a debate about whether inheriting power is more legitimate than ascending to power through one's own efforts. Maybe it always involves questioning whether "the upstart" has usurped power through a crime against the true, royal blood.