Friday 31 May 2013

On Richard II

A quote from the Historia Vitae et Regni Ricardi Secundi on Richard II. Taken from Chronicles of the Revolution 1397-1400 by Chris Given-Wilson, page 241.

"King Richard was of average height, fair-haired, with a pale complexion and a rounded feminine face which was sometimes flushed; he was abrupt and stammering in his speech, and, because he preferred to take counsel from the young, he was capricious in his behavior. He was prodigious with gifts, extravagantly ostentatious in his dress and pastimes, and unlucky as well as faint-hearted in foreign warfare. Towards his servants he often displayed great anger; he was also puffed up with pride, consumed by avarice, much given to luxury, and fond of burning the candle at both ends, sometimes staying up half the night, and at other times right through until morning, drinking and indulging himself in other unmentionable ways."

A little food for thought: when Richard II's tomb was opened in 1871, his skeleton was measured. The king clocked in at approximately six feet tall. Six feet! Either this chronicler doesn't know what he was talking about when he said Richard was of average height, or medieval people were not as short as people like to claim. The answer is probably a mix: the chronicler did NOT particularly like Richard, nor were medieval people all the size of leprechauns.

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