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Richard III, Slaughtered In Battle

Richard III of England
Richard III of England

The recent unearthing of the skeletal remains of England’s Richard III reminds us again that there was a time when leaders who ordered up a battle actually got into the bloody slaughter themselves. Richard, with his crooked back, one shoulder forever higher than the other, was in there hacking his way toward Henry Tudor when he was himself cut down.

The skeletal evidence dug up at Leicester fits with historical accounts and vividly suggests King Richard’s  final moments. The Royal Armouries’ Bob Woosnam-Savage has provided a possible scenario based on that evidence.  Richard either dismounted or his horse had been cut from under him—all we know for certain is that on horseback he had driven toward Henry in an attempt to kill him and was now on foot, covered in armor and fighting it out because there was nothing else to do. He was surrounded. At some point his armor was pierced, his helmet was torn away and he began to receive blows to his head. If you’ve seen videos of Muammar Gaddafi’s last minute, you have a good picture of what was going on. Richard was cut and battered by pikes, swords and knives. Finally, according to Woosnam-Savage, he was stripped of his armor and repeatedly bashed, including a stab to the buttocks of his now lifeless body. “This last, insulting blow could easily have been delivered to king’s body by an infantryman with a bladed weapon after it had been slung over the back of a horse, ‘with the armes and legges hanging down on both sides’, as he was borne to Leicester.”

Our leaders don’t join their soldiers in battle any more. And it probably wouldn’t reduce the number of wars if they did. But there would be a certain satisfaction in knowing that the person who had ordered the bloody carnage was down there, risking his life, just like the rest.

More Notes

The World Happiness Report, released by the United Nations, ranks countries on six key variables that support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. This year, Finland is first, followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland, followed by Netherlands, Canada,New Zealand, Sweden, Australia. The United States, which has never been in the top ten, silpped down four places from last year and is now 18th. President Trump may make American Great Again, but apparently not happier.