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 The Third Plantagenet

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Posts : 62
Join date : 2014-03-29

PostSubject: The Third Plantagenet   Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:57 pm

Has anyone read John Ashdown-Hill's The Third Plantagenet?

What did you think of it?

It raised lots of questions and gave me some new ideas.  I wish Clarence's letters had survived.  I'd like to know how Cecily Neville's letters to Clarence compared to her letters to Richard.  

The image of the coffins in the Clarence vault filled with water is ironic.  Despite Clarence's efforts and Richard III's payment of some expenses, the vault failed to protect George and Isabel's bones.  The identity of the bones recently taken from the vault is uncertain.  Yet Richard III's bones survived intact and provide a DNA sequence that identifies him.

If the stereotype of short, dark-haired Richard overshadowed by his tall, blonde brothers is eventually discredited, John-Ashdown Hill deserves some credit for it.  He's calculated from Jean de Wavrin's guesstimate of Richard and George's ages when they were exiled that George might have been 3-4 inches shorter than Richard when they were adults.  It's a pity that identifiable bones haven't survived in the Clarence vault to confirm Ashdown-Hill's calculations.

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Join date : 2014-03-21
Age : 68
Location : Sissinghurst,Kent,UK

PostSubject: Re: The Third Plantagenet   Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:23 pm

I was taken aback by the idea that George was the short one of the 3 brothers. The foreign observers quoted in support might just have misjudged the ages of the young George & Richard - very easily done. The 2 younger brothers might have been of similar height as adults. Now it appears that Richard was blond as a child & that his hair darkened with age as did that of my children who are now deep & medium mouse. I think also that JAH is unwise to take the images from carvings & MS illustrations as reliable portraits. All the same it is good to have a book dealing with George's story in its own right; it's full of action!
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Join date : 2014-03-22

PostSubject: Re: The Third Plantagenet   Mon Jan 26, 2015 12:42 pm

I agree with you regarding George's supposed shortness, especially since that would have made George about five feet four or less if he was shorter than Richard as an adult. (I haven't read J A-H's book yet so I don't know what height he suggested; I'm assuming a three-inch height loss for the adult Richard from the scoliosis.) I suspect that Jehan de Wavrin (the man who guessed at the boys' ages while they were in Burgundy) saw them only from a distance and for a short time (if at all--he could have been writing from hearsay). Also, Richard's scoliosis would not yet have set in so it would not have affected his height at that time, and, of course, you can't necessarily guess a child's adult height from his height at eleven (or eight). Probably George at eleven hadn't yet hit his adolescent growth spurt. As far as I know, de Wavrin (in his early sixties when and if he observed them) had no children and might not have known what children of a given age look like. He got Richard's age right, but I suspect that was a lucky guess. Also, if he was writing around 1475 (as Wikipedia suggests), his recollection of the children he saw in 1461 may have been vague. He was about seventy-seven at that time!

Another source, known as Hearne's fragment after its compiler (the author is unknown) gives the ages of George and Richard at Ludlow (actually not quite ten and just turned seven) as thirteen and ten. Evidently, the author misremembered how very young they were at the time but got the age difference right, suggesting that their height difference was not unusual for their ages (though maybe they were both very tall!). Then, again, he was writing many years after Richard's death.

Much as I admire J A-H for his role in tracing Richard's mitochondrial DNA and helping to bring about the discovery of Richard's remains, he does have a tendency to treat his speculations as facts (Edmund Tudor as a Beaufort, for example). Evidently, he uses George's supposed shortness as the basis for a psychological analysis. To me, that seems like dangerous territory. I think a lot of his problems stemmed from having suddenly become the heir presumptive (right term?) to a king (as well as a royal duke) at age eleven only to have Edward IV marry secretly and start producing children, with the prospect of a son who would push George back to second in line always looming (and, of course, the fear became fact in November 1470). The loss of his father must also have been a factor in the development of his personality. Richard could look to Edward IV as a father figure, but George evidently couldn't. And by the time Warwick (another father figure for Richard) allied himself with George, he was not so much a father figure as a fellow victim of Edward IV's tyranny (at least from their own perspectives--I want to be objective here).

At any rate, I think that if George had been short, we would have heard about it from any number of chroniclers and letter writers who actually saw him (as we do for Richard). I guess the next step is to determine whether the bones in George's tomb are really his by comparing his mtDNA and Y chromosome to Richard's and then to determine his approximate height from the thigh bone if it's really his.
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