No rest for merry gentlemen at Richard’s raucous royal revelries

Posted by pt91 at Dec 21, 2012 11:10 AM |
Music from Richard III’s notorious Christmas parties will feature in a concert telling the story of the King’s life

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 21 December 2012

“Even in the 15th century there were disagreements about the 'REAL' meaning of Christmas”

-Janet Forbes, lead of the recorder trio named TritonE who will perform at University of Leicester concert

Music from Richard III’s raucous Christmas parties will feature with other works of the time in an upcoming concert at the University of Leicester – which will tell the story of the King’s life.

Members of the archaeological team behind the search for King Richard III are organising a concert featuring music from the times and places the King would have known.

The concert will be held on Friday 11 January, 2013, 6:30 pm at the University’s Fraser Noble Hall in Leicester and will feature a trio of leading Early Music performers.

It will feature some of the riotous music played in the King’s parties during the festive season – which sparked debate at the time.

The 15th century writer of the Croyland Chronicle wrote disapprovingly of 'the goings-on' at court during Christmas in 1484.

The writer says that he was unable to account for many of the activities “because it is shameful to speak of them” – but is particularly critical of the dancing, festivity and “vain changes of apparel” of Queen Anne and Elizabeth of York, Richard III’s niece.

Bishop Thomas Langton, who was a close supporter of Richard III, was similarly disapproving. The bishop wrote that ‘sensual pleasure holds sway to an increasing extent’, though he tactfully refrained from elaborating on that elusive comment.

Professor Norman Housley, of the University of Leicester School of Historical Studies, comments that ‘Compared with the wild parties that were held at Rome during the reign of Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503), the English court under Edward IV and Richard III was a model of virtue’.

Janet Forbes, a graduate of the Royal Conservatory, The Hague, is leading the recorder trio named TritonE who will perform at the concert.

She said: “Even in the 15th century there were disagreements about the 'REAL' meaning of Christmas. Those who criticise him for his Christmas parties are  religious figures - so naturally they think that the focus at Christmas time should be exclusively on religion.

“During the power struggle before his ascension to the throne, Richard III had spread rumours about how licentious and  morally corrupted Edward IV's court had been –he was trying to cast aspersions on the Queen's family, and show, in contrast, how virtuous he was.

“In this he styles himself as a good, pious, learned, serious, virtuous man - so his propensity to party would have annoyed those people who believed and supported this image and these qualities in a King.”

Richard III: A Musical Biography will explore the kind of music he would have grown up with in England as well as during his time abroad. There will be singing and dance music, as well as more serious pieces.

The concert will take place on Friday 11 January from 6.30pm to 7.30 pm and will be held at the Fraser Noble Hall, Leicester. Tickets are £5 for the general public and £3 for Society for Historical Archaeology delegates, and can be booked through the University’s Shop@le site here:

Tickets will also be available at the door.

It coincides with the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, hosted by the University’s Centre for Historical Archaeology in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History.

This is the major, global learned society for historical archaeology, and this will be only the second time that it has convened these meetings outside the USA.

The University of Leicester, in association with Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society, is leading the Search for Richard III.

The University has made it clear that it is not saying it has found King Richard III – rather that the skeleton has characteristics that warrant extensive further detailed examination and that the search has moved from an archaeological to a laboratory phase.

The University has added that the outcomes of its investigations are expected early next year. The Search for Richard III is also the subject of a Channel 4 documentary being made by Darlow Smithson.

How might Christmas been celebrated in the reign of Richard III(press release from Richard III Society):

  • The Dig for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society.  The originator of the Search project was Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society


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