90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Richard III: Shakespeare’s Villain And The Real King

Richard III, back from the dead. Out of the parking lot. We’ll look at history, Shakespeare, and the return of the king.

Undated photo made available by the University of Leicester, England, Monday Feb. 4 2013 of the remains found underneath a car park last September at the Grey Friars excavation in Leicester, which have been declared Monday "beyond reasonable doubt" to be the long lost remains of England's King Richard III, missing for 500 years. (AP)

Undated photo made available by the University of Leicester, England, Monday Feb. 4 2013 of the remains found underneath a car park last September at the Grey Friars excavation in Leicester, which have been declared Monday “beyond reasonable doubt” to be the long lost remains of England’s King Richard III, missing for 500 years. (AP)

He was the “son of hell,” as Shakespeare had it.  A “bunch-backed toad.”  Richard III.  The malformed king who cried “my kingdom for a horse!” and killed his way to the crown.  The great villain of English royalty.

And this week, remains dug up from under an English parking lot announced as his.  The very skeleton of Richard III.  Battered and bashed from battle and worse 528 years ago.

Identified with a DNA swab from a 17th generation descendant.  With a spine curved like a U-turn.  William Shakespeare made him the soul of infamy.

This hour, On Point:  history, villainy, and Richard III.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

John Ashdown Hill, historian and member of the Richard the Third Society. Author of “The Last Days of Richard III,” the book that inspired the search for Richard’s body. He was at the dig site when the bones of King Richard the Third were exhumed, and carried the King’s remains after they’d been packaged.

Michael Witmore, Shakespeare scholar, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. (@michaelwitmore)

From Tom’s Reading List

Time Magazine “For centuries, Richard III has skulked in the shadows of the English imagination, a debased villain guilty of the worst crimes. A whole complex of writers and poets sponsored by the ascendant Tudors, not least Shakespeare, acted as de facto propagandists, cementing a legend that has stuck of a gnarled, misbegotten, evil schemer.”

Associated Press “The discovery of King Richard III under a parking lot in the English city of Leicester thrilled history buffs around the world. But the news meant a winter of discontent for the rival city of York, and now the two are doing battle over the royal bones. Officials in Leicester say the monarch, who was unceremoniously buried without a coffin 528 years ago, will be re-interred with kingly dignity in the city’s cathedral.”

CNN “You may not find a saint, ‘but neither was he a criminal,’ Stone said. ‘All but one of the so-called crimes laid at his door can be refuted by the facts.’ That crime was the killing of the rival nephews, known in history as the ‘Princes in the Tower,’ he said.”

Richard III Gallery

Sir Laurence Olivier as Richard III

Performing the play’s famous opening monologue (with a fake nose)

Sir Ian McKellen as Richard III

Seducing Lady Anne, whose husband he has killed

Excerpt: “The Last Days of Richard III”

Text and images excerpted with permission from The Last Days of Richard III and the Fate of His DNA (The History Press, 2013).

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Jan 28, 2015
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Pellissippi State Community College Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP)

The promise of free community college. What it might mean for our economy and our fraying social contract.

Jan 28, 2015
tasty

Did our sense of taste make us human? From evolution to culture, a new book explores the science and perception of flavor.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jan 27, 2015
As any ant knows, building a reliable team can be hard. (Flickr / Guildmn20)

From Silicon Valley to your office, some teams work better – and smarter – than others. We’ll look at the surprising reasons why.

 
Jan 27, 2015
Leader of Syriza left-wing party Alexis Tsipras speaks to his supporters outside Athens University Headquarters, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. A triumphant Alexis Tsipras told Greeks that his radical left Syriza party's win in Sunday's early general election meant an end to austerity and humiliation and that the country's regular and often fraught debt inspections were a thing of the past. (AP)

A leftist victory in Greece, and anti-austerity pushback across Europe. We’ll ask where this goes.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: January 23, 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

New thoughts on Facebook, new analysis of State of the Union twitter activity and new weekend excitement. New! And exciting!

More »
Comment
 
Meet On Point’s Interns: Spring 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

Good news! We have interns, and they are wonderful, and here they are for the spring term. Meet them digitally, right here.

More »
2 Comments
 
Caller To Author Ron Rash: ‘You Cared About People Like Me’
Thursday, Jan 22, 2015

An unexpected caller from South Carolina brings back guest Ron Rash’s years as a community college professor in a movingly real way.

More »
1 Comment