Document draws up burial ceremony fit for Richard III

thisisoxfordshire: ANCIENT INSTRUCTIONS: Dr Alexandra Buckle and, below, the manuscript Buy this photo » ANCIENT INSTRUCTIONS: Dr Alexandra Buckle and, below, the manuscript

THE choice of Richard III’s final resting place continues to cause bitter divisions.

But thanks to an Oxford University academic there should be less warring over how the last Plantagenet king is reburied.

Dr Alexandra Buckle has been able to draw up an authentic order of service for Richard III’s reburial after discovering a long-forgotten medieval document.

Dr Buckle, an expert in medieval music, made her timely find in the British Library, while working on her doctorate.

The manuscript that she discovered, a late 17th century copy of a late 15th century document, is said to be the only known document explaining how a medieval reburial would have been carried out.

It means it should now be possible to rebury the king, who met a violent death on Bosworth Field in 1485, in a way that both he and his ancestors would have recognised.

Dr Buckle, 33, of St Anne’s and St Hilda’s colleges, has now been invited to join the committee planning Richard III’s interment next year, known as the Richard III Liturgy Group.

She found the document while researching another mighty medieval Richard – Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who lies in splendour in the Beauchamp Chapel of St Mary’s Church, Warwick.

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The Earl, a patron of the arts and music, had been reburied in 1475, just eight years before Richard III came to the throne.

When she became aware of the discovery of Richard III’s remains in a car park in Leicester, she contacted the city’s cathedral to see if they were interested in making use of her medieval find. She was invited to brief the cathedral chapter and then to join the Richard III task force.

Dr Buckle said: “This is a historically important document, as it details precisely what the reburial service around the time of Richard III’s death would have involved – from how the bones should be cleansed, washed and blessed, to what prayers should be said, what clergy should be involved and what music should be sung.”

Since DNA tests on the skeleton confirmed it was the king in the car park, a legal battle has ensued over Richard’s final resting place. With the Plantagenet Alliance wanting to see him buried in York Minister, and a judicial review to decide whether the decision to bury his bones in Leicester Cathedral was properly conducted, Dr Buckle has chosen to stay neutral. She said: “I think it is best for me not to comment.”

Her continued involvement is likely to continue, wherever Richard III is reburied next year.

Reburials, uncommon today, occurred more regularly among the elite in medieval England and Dr Buckle believes that Richard would have been familiar with the service.

She said: “He was chief mourner at his father Richard, Duke of York’s reburial, and ordered the reburial of his ancestor Henry VI.

“He honoured a long tradition of kings reburying kings and nobles reburying nobles, and this suggests he would have liked to have been honoured in a similar way today.”

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6:35pm Mon 20 Jan 14

Dave Atkin says...

It is ironic that an academic commsioned by part of the Leicester cabal should find a document that proves beyond doubt that Richard III should not be re-buried in Leicester.
The reburial ceremony that the Lord of the North would recognise as one that allowed his ancestors and immediate family to be re-buried, not in the place of their violent deaths, but in the place they themselves would have wished to be buried will make a fitting vehicle for his re-interment in York Minster, where he wished to be buried and where even the Bishop of Leicester has written that he could "understand why he (an historian) could be led to believe Richard III wished to be buried"
To entomb him in an ikea style tomb in Leicester's, once Victorian Parish Church that only became a Cathedral in the 1920s, regardless of the Yorkshire Stone planned to be used to carve it from, the Yorkshire Rose planned into the floor design and the Yorkshire poet commisioned to write about the event - instead of the Glorious Minster he saw being finished as he grew up in Middleham, where he had his only son invested as Prince of Wales and where he endowed the largest chantry in the country to pray for his soul - is the last and most grevious insult that the Court could allow to befall him.
This much maligned and lied about King who did more for the common people than any other medieval Monarch, belongs in the North, in His Minster - not in the Tudor supporting midland town that he had only visted 5 times in his life, where he was dragged after being betrayed by the landowners his reforming laws most effected - not south of the Trent where he was resented by the nobility for favouring the North. Not in that town where he was dumped, (hands still tied, stripped, covered in filth "unrecognisable as human" after being displayed for three days for the locals to abused post mortem) into a shallow hole with "no pomp or ceremony" a hole not even long enough to lay him out.
If this was your son or father or uncle lost in battle, if this was Prince Harry lost on active duty - would you want them to stay where they fell, where they were abused, where they were hidden from help, where they were covered and visitors made unwelcome so as not to be a rallying point for their supporters - or would you want them home where they belonged and could be honoured decently and without hypocricy or the dual purpose of scientific meddling and money grubbing cabals whose eyes glitter at the thought of tourist bucks ringing the "catherdral" tills.
No - thank you Dr Buckle for finding the correct and recognised format for his ceremony - now let us see that carried out with full pomp and circumstance where it should be at York Minster.
It is ironic that an academic commsioned by part of the Leicester cabal should find a document that proves beyond doubt that Richard III should not be re-buried in Leicester. The reburial ceremony that the Lord of the North would recognise as one that allowed his ancestors and immediate family to be re-buried, not in the place of their violent deaths, but in the place they themselves would have wished to be buried will make a fitting vehicle for his re-interment in York Minster, where he wished to be buried and where even the Bishop of Leicester has written that he could "understand why he (an historian) could be led to believe Richard III wished to be buried" To entomb him in an ikea style tomb in Leicester's, once Victorian Parish Church that only became a Cathedral in the 1920s, regardless of the Yorkshire Stone planned to be used to carve it from, the Yorkshire Rose planned into the floor design and the Yorkshire poet commisioned to write about the event - instead of the Glorious Minster he saw being finished as he grew up in Middleham, where he had his only son invested as Prince of Wales and where he endowed the largest chantry in the country to pray for his soul - is the last and most grevious insult that the Court could allow to befall him. This much maligned and lied about King who did more for the common people than any other medieval Monarch, belongs in the North, in His Minster - not in the Tudor supporting midland town that he had only visted 5 times in his life, where he was dragged after being betrayed by the landowners his reforming laws most effected - not south of the Trent where he was resented by the nobility for favouring the North. Not in that town where he was dumped, (hands still tied, stripped, covered in filth "unrecognisable as human" after being displayed for three days for the locals to abused post mortem) into a shallow hole with "no pomp or ceremony" a hole not even long enough to lay him out. If this was your son or father or uncle lost in battle, if this was Prince Harry lost on active duty - would you want them to stay where they fell, where they were abused, where they were hidden from help, where they were covered and visitors made unwelcome so as not to be a rallying point for their supporters - or would you want them home where they belonged and could be honoured decently and without hypocricy or the dual purpose of scientific meddling and money grubbing cabals whose eyes glitter at the thought of tourist bucks ringing the "catherdral" tills. No - thank you Dr Buckle for finding the correct and recognised format for his ceremony - now let us see that carried out with full pomp and circumstance where it should be at York Minster. Dave Atkin

6:36pm Mon 20 Jan 14

CarolFW says...

A fascinating find and what's likely to be a valuable contribution to the reburial of King Richard - wherever it occurs. I hope that the musicians and instruments will be as authentic as possible for the ceremony. And thank you to Dr Buckle for staying neutral on place of burial - the 'jury', so to speak, is after all still out. And very interesting to see acknowledgement of Richard's familiarity with reburials in more suitable places during his lifetime, such as those of his father, the Duke of York, and seventeen-year-old brother, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, in the Duke's principal home at Fotheringhay, and that of Henry VI (definitely not his ancestor, however) at Windsor. It wasn't seen as appropriate to leave any of them at the closest town to where they died.
A fascinating find and what's likely to be a valuable contribution to the reburial of King Richard - wherever it occurs. I hope that the musicians and instruments will be as authentic as possible for the ceremony. And thank you to Dr Buckle for staying neutral on place of burial - the 'jury', so to speak, is after all still out. And very interesting to see acknowledgement of Richard's familiarity with reburials in more suitable places during his lifetime, such as those of his father, the Duke of York, and seventeen-year-old brother, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, in the Duke's principal home at Fotheringhay, and that of Henry VI (definitely not his ancestor, however) at Windsor. It wasn't seen as appropriate to leave any of them at the closest town to where they died. CarolFW

10:42pm Mon 20 Jan 14

NicleBecheur says...

Excellent work by Dr Buckle. I hope she isn't the only serious liturgist on the Richard III Liturgy Group, and that those members who consider the probable wishes and expectations of King Richard himself (for whose benefit this is supposed to be - isn't it?) counterbalance the meretricious, faux-inclusif modernism of the Leicester Cathedral chapter, who are relentlessly keen on adding the Ricardian brand to everything - even the chocolate bars they sell in the Cathedral. It's about time the memory of this monarch was treated with some proper dignity.
Excellent work by Dr Buckle. I hope she isn't the only serious liturgist on the Richard III Liturgy Group, and that those members who consider the probable wishes and expectations of King Richard himself (for whose benefit this is supposed to be - isn't it?) counterbalance the meretricious, faux-inclusif modernism of the Leicester Cathedral chapter, who are relentlessly keen on adding the Ricardian brand to everything - even the chocolate bars they sell in the Cathedral. It's about time the memory of this monarch was treated with some proper dignity. NicleBecheur

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