Richard III: the king in the car park
My dad and his family were born and raised in Leicester, in the Midlands, and so although I have always lived in the south of England, I have always known Leicester’s history.
When I was little, my family and I visited Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, the famous site of the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 where Richard III became the last king of England to die in battle. The Battle of Bosworth was the last battle in the Wars of the Roses, a war between two royal families: the House of York and the House of Lancaster. The Battle of Bosworth Field was won by Henry Tudor from the House of Lancaster, the father of the famous Henry VIII (the one with six wives).
Richard III has a rather bad reputation: many believe that he killed his two nephews, referred to by historians as 'The Princes in the Tower'. After Henry’s victory, Richard III was portrayed as a villain, largely due to William Shakespeare’s play Richard III, the most famous line of which is: 'A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!' However, many historians argue that his bad reputation is undeserved.
When my family and I visited the site of the Battle of Bosworth all those years ago, we were told that Richard III had died in that field during the battle and that his body, which had never been found, would be nearby. However, in 2012 Richard’s body was finally discovered … in a car park.
My cousin’s wife, who worked in the building behind the car park, said that she had watched the archaeologists dig up Richard’s body. In 2015, Richard III was buried in Leicester Cathedral, despite a protest that he should be buried in his hometown of York. His tomb can be visited in the cathedral and I would like to go and see it next year.
It is perhaps the most peculiar twist in English history that one of our kings was found under a car park, and it is certainly my favourite story. The funniest thing for me is that after Richard was buried, Leicester’s football team, who had narrowly avoided being relegated in 2015, amazingly won the Premier League. It is joked that this is because Richard III brought them luck. Perhaps it’s true!