|Source: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/The Telegraph|
You may have seen in the media the story of the discovery of the bones of King Richard III (1452-1458), the last Plantagenet King of England.
A curious debate is going on now in the UK over his burial: will his bones be placed in some post-Reformation Anglican edifice and given some 'ecumenical' service, or will he finally get the Catholic burial denied to him by the usurper Henry Tudor (Henry VII)?
Good King Richard?
Richard III's name was blackened after his death by Tudor propagandists (including Shakespeare), but in fact the evidence suggests that in his brief reign not only was he was innocent of the crimes subsequently attributed to him such as the murder of his nephews, the 'princes in the tower' (for which crime Henry seems a much more plausible suspect), but in fact was rather a good, innovative king. He was also a devout Catholic, particularly towards the end of his life.
Henry VII, by contrast, moved swiftly to imprison and execute all possible claimants to the throne, and put in place an oppressive regime characterised by financial rapacity, a direction taken even further by his son Henry VIII, who of course appropriated all the monasteries in his quest for cash.
I've always thought it quite ironic that Henry VII, towards the end of his life, established numerous chantries, arranging (he thought) for Masses to be said in perpetuity for his soul in purgatory. He was surely right to think he was going to be there a long time. These were, however, all suppressed by his son as part of the break with Rome...
So consider saying a prayer for all three men (OK, for Richard at least), just in case!