13. Richard III Grave Site: A Theory

Thursday 24 October 2013

I'm going to propose an idea that might be a little bit crackpot crazy, but what the hey! It's a thought I've been thinking for a while, ever since they announced that they had found a mystery lead coffin close to where Richard III's remains were found, and now I simply can't get the idea out of my head.

Maybe I've been reading too much historical fiction, and have become completely wrapped up in the idea. Maybe I'm right. We will only know if they DNA test the remains...

Currently they believe the coffin belongs to a local benefactress but my idea is much more interesting and creative (and a tad unlikely?). 

I'm hoping that the coffin belongs to Katherine Plantagenet. Katherine Plantagenet was the natural born daughter of Richard and an unknown woman. Historian's have thrown Katherine Haute and Alice Burgh as possible mother's to Richard's base born children because of payments made to both women found in Richard's accounts. 

Wait a minute! Hold the phone! Did I just say children? Yes, I did say children

Richard also had a natural born son called John, later to be known as John of Gloucester/John of Pontefract. John was appointed Captain of Calais by his father on 11 March 1485. After Richard's fall he was removed from his position at Calais and at first the newly crowned Henry VII let John be. He was even granted an annuity of 20 pounds. However, there are reports that he was assumed to have been executed sometime in 1499 possibly, although there is no contemporary evidence which points to a definitive answer regarding John's fate, as with his sister. Some believe he escaped England, which is a nice idea, but I very much doubt Henry would have let John slip away, base born or not.  

It isn't clear if Katherine and John were born before or after Richard's marriage to Anne. That is not really too much of a concern of mine, I'm just thrilled he was able to have other children beside his son with Anne. 

Even less is known about Katherine. No record of her early life exists. When Richard ascended the throne Katherine was married to William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke in 1484. This was a high marriage for Katherine given that she was a illegitimate. Katherine is thought to have died sometime before Elizabeth of York's coronation, which was on 25th November 1487, and her husband is referred to as a 'widower' at this time - although this could mean that Herbert had the marriage annulled and was referred to as a widower of his first wife. 

I find it so sad that she died young, although not unusual during the time she lived. We will never know what caused Katherine's demise - was it childbirth (if so no record of the child or pregnancy exist), sickness or a broken heart? She may or may not have been close to her father, again, nothing is recorded of their relationship. I like to think that he was a good father to her, although as with all father's at the time he used her as a tool to forge alliances, as he did with Herbert who supported Richard over Henry VII (yet didn't fight at Bosworth). There is no record of the placement of her final resting place - which is adding fuel to my fire!

I digress.

I am just so, so sad that Richard won't be reburied with Anne by his side, who yes - I do believe loved each other. It's not an outrageous idea after all! I may be clutching at straws, but the idea of his daughter being buried with him makes me feel much better about the whole thing because it means he wasn't unloved on his own. Gosh that sounds crazy to write, but I think you'll understand what I mean by that. 

She is such a fascinating character to me, perhaps because so little is known? It is easy to project ideas onto a near blank canvas, and create a relationship that may not have been how I am imagining it to be. 

If by some amazing chance the tomb does turn out to be the final resting place of Katherine I would be over the moon. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be going all guns blazing for a joint reburial at the same site, whichever it is decided to be. Although I am still hoping forlornly for York. 

Katherine is a key character in Alison Weir's 'Dangerous Inheritance', which I enjoyed reading very much.

A couple of lovely ladies and gentleman have been in agreement with me about how wonderful it would be if it were Katherine, what do you think? 

Or am I stark raving mad for even suggesting it?

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