LIC Blog

Bending the Truth?

Richard S. Sylvester commenting on Thomas More's description of Richard III (see page 7 of the Yale Edition of the Complete Works, Volume 2) writes:

This detail (crook-backed) is not found in Rous, the Croyland Chronicle, Fabyan or Polydore and it is certainly not noticeable in the contemporary portraits of Richard. ... If Richard had such a deformity it could not have been conspicuous.

In Richard III: The Unseen Story Dr. Piers Mitchell of Cambridge University stated that the remains discovered in Leicester displayed a curve of 60 to 80 degrees - a very noticeable and very conspicuous deformity.

The most worrying aspect of the work that has taken place in Leicester, is that the appearance of the curved spine in the trench made those involved prejudge the evidence. 

Professor Buckley spoke of the hairs standing up on the back of his neck, when he saw the curved spine.

The site manager expostulated because, well if you have a guy with scoliosis, you have Richard III.

Dr. Appleby expressed the same view.

They all appear to suffer from an overdose of Shakespeare and very little knowledge of the complexity of the evidence. There is no historical evidence that Richard III had scoliosis. No evidence. So discovering a skeleton with scoliosis proves nothing.

It is curious that the More4 programme lacked any use of attributed written sources of evidence. They have been surpassed, we are to believe, by the omniscience of these scientific processes. But if we begin on the wrong foot and seek to prove something based on a prejudgment, we should not be surprised if we find it.

In the end, Dr. Appleby was convinced of the identity because there were too many pieces of evidence which could not coincidentally fit with the life of anyone elsebut Richard III. Only "minor" details, like the fact that the radius showed no signs of strong muscle attachments, in a man who used heavy weapons from the age of 17!

If we cannot explain the lack of muscle attachments and we have to rely on fishy suppositions, then all we have left is DNA. And the programme stated that 1-2% of the population have the same DNA as the one they sought to match. 

So in fact, they have proved nothing, let alone that the remains in Leicester are those of King Richard III.