Richard III Kingship, Religion and the World Today
Once a king was no more, plans that had been set in place previously, were put into action, resulting in a finished piece that was more than magnificent. Edward IV's is a fine tomb, Henry VII's in particular stands out and Henry VIII's would have been grand if he had got his act together and spent less of his father's money. Most kings did not have a care what they did in life, and the greatness of their royal tombs are a fine example of royal breast beating and loud shouts of "take note of how great I once was." You can be sure however, that they were extremely worried about the consequences once they had shuffled off their mortal coils. They saw to it that the clergy were paid to light candles on a daily basis once they were entombed, and then yearly on the anniversary of their deaths. More importantly they made sure that prayers were offered for their souls. Fear of eternal damnation was the main driving force behind medieval and Tudor funeral art.
Henry VII Tomb
So today, as in the past, the choice of a tomb for an English King has to be made and this is yet another chapter of the journey of the remains of King Richard III. How many of us have become saddened and disappointed by the way this journey has descended into squabbling, back biting and side taking we may as well be reading a book on the War of the Roses, its the Percey's verses the Neville's all over again. And now we have a new addition to the latest controversy, a new tomb design, and I seem to be the only one who actually likes Leicester Cathedrals design.
The choice of a tomb for Richard III should reflect three things, his kingship, his religious beliefs and the world today, and I think that this design doe's just this. The simpleness of this new design, I feel, is a reflection of the latter, after all we are living in a country were many people have little and a world where the vast majority have nothing, a fancy tomb will not do. The deeply incised cross is a symbol of Richards faith and a reminder that Richard and his contemporaries were religious people even if we are not. Lastly the base has, placed within it, three Ricardian icons, the boar, Richard's motto and the white rose, a representation of his early life and his kingship.
According to the licence for the exhumation of Richards remains they have to be reinterred by August of next year. Lets hope that he is buried were it was first agreed, in Leicester Cathedral and with a design such as this.