The Tudor Bunch -or- "It's the Story of a Lovely Monarch"

I had the good fortune to see comedian Eddie Izzard perform last night. This man's hysterical take on world history is a little like a trip through a carnival fun house; nothing looks quite right, everything you know is turned upside down, and you can't wait to see what's in the next room.

So as a little tribute today-- and to follow through on that "Kings" part of the Of Cabbages and Kings-- I give you the only part of history Eddie Izzard HASN'T covered--

And the only area of knowledge I have worth sharing. And that is the reign of Richard III of England.

Aw, stop yer yawning-- I promise, it'll be funny...

It was the early 1480s-- the period known as "the Messy Ages" in England.

  • The French wanted England for themselves
  • Groups within England wanted a bigger piece of the pie and chips
  • And Sauron was building his army of Orcs to take over Middle Earth...

(The little-known Orc power-struggle is represented here by mushy peas.)

Edward IV had inherited the throne from his pious yet slightly dim father-- we all know how that can happen. And Eddie 4, he was a bit of a ladies' man.

Eddie 4 was tall and handsome-- plus he was the king-- so for the purposes of our discussions here, he was the MARCIA BRADY of this story.

Now his little brother was Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Richard was small and without the flash of his brother, but he was smart as a whip. So basically Richard was the JAN BRADY in this tale.

Well, Eddie 4, he did some kingly things: a battle here... a rebellion quelling there... a WHOLE LOT of ladies of the court. And during this time, Richard fought loyally for him, and governed much of Northern England.

So Eddie 4 grew old, and caught a few diseases, and got hit in the nose with a football. This ruined his looks and eventually killed him. And it became clear to everyone that his pre-adolescent son-- who would be Eddie 5-- would be taking over the throne.

Until Richard announced:

"Hey, wait-- information has just come to light that Eddie Junior and his kid brother are actually illegitimate. So I'll be their Protector and run the kingdom until this whole thing gets sorted out.

Cheers, folks."

And the boys were sent to the Tower of London, which had fewer souvenir shops then, and they never were seen again.

Now, at this point, there are two schools of thought.

One is that Richard-- hating that everything had been "Edward, Edward, Edward" all this time-- stole the throne and snuffed the boys and thought no one would really notice...

Because, you know, they didn't have YouTube then.

And the other school of thought is that Richard really was this super-nice uncle who wanted to protect the boys from potential French usurpers, and he either:
  • Smuggled them out of the country to safety
  • They were murdered by traitors to the king, or
  • They died of an excess of lollipops and puppies.

Anyway, Richard ruled until 1484. But during his reign, he did some very good things:

  • He was a smart strategist
  • The commoners began to prosper under him
  • And he really gave the Orcs what-for

But then Henry Tudor over in France decided to finally make his play for the throne. And during the Battle of Bosworth Field against the Tudor sympathizers, Richard was killed-- really ruining Richard's day.

As a marketing person, here's the part I find really interesting...

Once Henry Tudor became King Henry VII, Henry Tudor's people were like a cross between today's political spin doctors and journalists for the Weekly World News.

I mean, they'd do ANYTHING for a story, say ANYTHING to make Richard III look bad, so the people would forget they were actually doing pretty well under his reign. Why, they'd publicize headlines like:

"'King Richard in Cahoots with Space Aliens,' Says Abducted and Probed Serf..."

"'Richard III Married My Ox,' Reveals Upset Farmer..."

"Corpse Shows King Tricky Dick Had Second Evil Head"...

Anyway, so one day Henry Tudor and his people noticed all these portraits of Richard III lying around the National Gallery and Henry said:

"Hmmm... This guy doesn't really LOOK evil. In fact, he looks like a fairly decent guy. That won't do at ALL!... Let's give him a hump on his back, and a withered arm and a squinky eye!"

And the king's portrait artist, always up for an artistic challenge, started to get into it. "And devil's horns?"

"Okay, devil's horns," said Henry.

"And a mustache?"

"A mustache, then."

"A pearl earring!"

"No, I believe that's another painting."

So they forwent the pearl earring, but did get on with much of the other stuff, and that is why today, with this great technology we have, we can see that many of his portraits were actually altered to give Richard one raised shoulder, and an angrier expression, and devil's horns.

And with an enthusiastic smear campaign that still permeates history books today, the Tudors went on to reign enthusiastically for many hundreds of years...

Meaning-- that's the way they became the Tudor Bunch.

(For those seeking actual information on Richard III wholly unrelated to Brady Bunch metaphors, I suggest you look at the following books:

  • The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir
  • Royal Blood by Bertram Fields
  • Richard III, the Princes in the Tower by A.J. Pollard

And check out the revisionist views at the Richard III Society here.)

Henry Tudor tried to rub out the existence of Humor-blogs after he was done with Richard III. But you can see, they're still alive, well and mostly free of devils' horns.


Greg said...

The Queen always said not to play ball in the Castle.

The history plays have never been my thing, but you seem to make the whole messy mess work (and with Orcs, no less!).

I'm jealous of your having seen Eddie Izzard, but clearly, it's had an impact on your poor brain. Thank goodness there's a long weekend on the horizon, eh?

Unknown said...

Greg- Well, there HAS to be Orcs... :)

And it could be the loss of sleep, more than Mr. Izzard, that's had an impact on my poor brain. I got in kinda late and got up at 5am thinking, "Let's write about history!"

Anonymous said...

Hey cool the first author has the same last name as my grandma. We're a smart bunch ya know.

Thanks for the history lesson. How is it that history becomes more interesting as you get older? the internet makes things so much more exciting. LOL

Da Old Man said...

Not once during my course of study (BA in History) did I ever see such a wonderful explanation of sorting out that whole middle ages quandry. It finally makes sense. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Heya, Chyna- Oh, well, English history with 100% extra Orcs, you know, you can't get that anywhere other than the internet! :)

The author Alison Weir actually does a few things in her analysis that sorta tick me off-- lots of broad brush strokes she uses to make incorrect assumptions to fit her arguments. But it's a good book for beginning readers on the subject. Which is why I put her on the list.

Also because I'm a big nerd and love this stuff. :)

Unknown said...

Da Old Man- (bows head) I thank you, Sir. :) I'm a little scared if it made sense.

Hey, gang-- let's take bets on how long it will be before some kid uses this history "lesson" for their school report, and what misinformation they'll include...


Alice said...

How dare you make me learn while I'm reading blogs!

Unknown said...

Ah, I'm sorry, Alice-- I promise, my next post is bound to be almost entirely void of intellect...

Also because, you know, it's a long weekend coming....

Miss Shirl said...

I'm 'enry the 8th I am 'enry the 8th I am I am I got married to the widow next door... What it's not kareoke night? Couldn't resist first thing that popped in my head.

Unknown said...

Shirley- Karaoke is ALWAYS welcome on Of Cabbages and Kings-- And when it's bloggily-themic, it's doubly welcome!

(Nice singing voice, by the way-- where did you train? :)

Anonymous said...

Isn't that the portrait of Vlad the Impaler? Or Dracula to the rest? Here's a little history blurb for you. Drac is gypsie for dragon and Dracula is actually little dragon. Not as scary when you think of it that way huh?

Unknown said...

Chyna- Nah, it's our buddy Richard III--

But with the devil horns, beard and mustache, y'know, he's got a bit of a Vlad thing going on.

"Little Dragon" eh?" Heh, you know you're right. I'm getting images of this teeny dragon with tiny wings and a little cough of barely firey smoke. :)

pixiemadison said...

Very funny. Thank you so much for this most entertaining history lesson. I'll definitely remember it now!

Love the Brady Bunch references too!

Unknown said...

PixieMadison-- Thanks a bunch for fluttering by and for the note. :)