On this day, three years ago, King Richard III was laid to rest in more fitting surroundings for a King, in a tomb in a cathedral, attended by leading figures in the realm.
Five hundred and thirty years before, it was very different. Days after his death in battle, after his body had been on display in a nearby church, friars from Leicester’s Greyfriars came to claim King Richard for reburial.
“On the third day, in the grey of the evening, the good friars had come to ask for his corpse.
They cut him down and rolled his battered body in a shroud. No coffin for this King. And they carried him away to his final resting place.
I followed them to their priory.
I had coins for them, and they let me, a boy only, no threat, enter their church.
I held the stoup as they sprinkled holy water.
My voice breaking, I sang his favourite lauda as they lowered him into his swift-cut grave. Too short it proved to be. His head twisted awkwardly, the cloth falling away from his bloodied face, his dark shadowed eyes.
They had had little time to prepare, they said. The new King had been impatient. Take him, dispose of him, let him be seen by living eyes no more, be no rallying point for rebels.
They glanced over their shoulders in worry that soldiers would come.
We prayed together, before the earth was thrown in, the floor tiles relaid.
No monument here for this King.
Let the people forget him.”
Requiescat in pace
Loyaulté me lie