"I didn't come here because I'm paranoid. I came here to get paranoid
Posted 13 February 2013 - 12:52 PM
Richard 3rd alternative cause of death.
It is sufficient to assume Richard died in battle,by the standards of the time,but it is fair to speculate by observing the nature of the skeletal damage. Something can also be assumed about the nature of the soldiers,weapons,circumstances and so on. Given the purge, which followed the battle it may be that none of the so called witnesses actually saw anything, especially famous writers, poets and others with axes to grind and heads to hang onto.
It is prudent to respect opinions of scientific experts in subjects of their expertise but in too many instances they are happy to speculate outside of it. An often seen example of this is where an expert performs painstaking archeology, but has no inkling of the purpose of that which has been found,so declares the find to be of religious significance, being part of rites and so on, this with the same voracity as the description of the find itself. "Religiousness" being based on the lack of any other evidence and poor imaginary skills. Similarly, some of the finds in this case may be described as "humiliation" wounds because they offend the morality of the expert, rendering one wound, almost unmentionable, the description can only be described as vague. It goes without saying that it is not possible to humiliate a corpse.It is a futile attempt to inflict extra harm to an inanimate object, akin to throwing your keyboard through the window, it is an expression of frustration. The observer learns more about the upbringing of the frustrated than he does about the keyboard.
That one expert or another has superb aptitude for story telling is truly amusing. In this case we have Richard being "dragged off his horse and killed within minutes". How could he possibly know that? Most of the experts use words like possibly, probably and maybe which always leaves the door behind them, slightly ajar. I do that, and if I have omitted to do so, I will apologise in advance, maybe. There again, I'm just a pleb, so I do have poetic license.
There are one or two unlikelihoods in the current tale of the kings death.
It is possible his helm was "knocked off" in the battle. He may have removed it to scratch one of those annoying itches of the scalp, you know, heat, sweat and dandruff. Generally speaking it would be extremely difficult for the enemy to remove his helm with high quality armour. How do I know? Well we do know that knights in armour were hard to kill. Specialist teams of dagger men specialised in getting inside the armour,which had continually improved during the 100 years war. There was the development of the rondel which was increasingly popular over the preceding period. The rondel was a specialist implement resembling a knife/sword. It was designed for exploiting gaps in armour having a very strong narrow straight blade, 18 inches or more in length. The handle had a cotton spool shape for very difficult thrusts and extractions, reducing hand slip. The pommel was flat for hitting with a mallet or a palm punch.
The rondel technique was to find a weak spot in the armour, often found on the periphery of the main metal plates, or places of articulation. Inserting the rondel, it was then hammered through the underlying chain mail and linen into the knight's flesh when resistance to the blade would reduce. These chinks would often be remote from critical organs or major blood vessels, so the implement is then pushed towards the knight's vital centres, central in the torso. This explains the long, thin and chisel like design of the rondel.
The team approach is dictated by the difficulty of the task. Unhorsing the knight was down to the fortunes of war and the team of dagger men would move in once the knight was downed. The team, possibly 3 or more may itself need protection during the attack on the knight. At least one man sits on the knight whilst the others look for a likely entry point in the plate armour. This may entail turning him about. One man "tries" likely spots by attempting to prise up a portion of the plate. This may not be immediately successful and different sites may need to be tried. If a suitable corner can be prised sufficiently, the third man inserts the rondel under the plate and drives it through the underlying chain mail, routing the implement centrally, poking around and feeling his way until the knight expires or at least collapses from shock. Removal of the implement could be difficult. The chain mail and muscular viscera having acted as a kind of fulcrum in the process, jamming of the blade was always a possibility.
So, why did the knight risk this horror? You may well ask. Historically, the main threat to him was from archers, and this was the main consideration in the development of the contemporaneous armour. During the 100 year war with France, which had fizzled out just prior to the war of the roses, there was a technological arms race between English archers and French armour. This resulted in thicker and thicker armour at first, to the point where half the arrows would bounce off it. The side effect of this was increased armour weight, 90 lbs or so, which in itself tended to incapacitate the knight with exhaustion, overheating, diminished strength and movement. The English response to this was to drop the bows and attack the knights directly, being unencumbered, except perhaps by head armour. The French knights, already staggering around, became easy prey. This state of affairs resulted in the need for the armour to be lightened, down to a more manageable 35lbs to 45lbs or so. This was achieved by having differential thicknesses of armour for more or less vulnerable parts of the body. For example, thoracic armour around the heart and lungs, may be the thicker, whilst, say, on the thighs armour would be less, and so on, with a trial and error approach. Differential thicknesses were applied, even within the helmet. Needless to say, the archers hits increased, but a significant number of arrows bounced off. The archer eventually won the race, but he was circumvented by French guerrilla tactics.
So, the advantage for the knight was the avoidance of being shot. Of course, killing him was time consuming which increased the possibility of him being rescued.
Coming to this particular point, none of these developments need to have occurred if the enemy could simply remove the helmet and stab through the eye. Apart from necessity there was nothing in it for the dagger men, they had no personal protection from other enemies during this procedure, which was likely to be furtive from start to finish.
Which brings us to a stab in the bum of a naked body slung across a horse. Having read the above, you will already be considering this. I could understand a quick thrust as the horse passes. But this strike entered the torso. Moreover, it passed through the bone o the pelvis. The body on a horse is not in a very rigid position to account for this possibility. The horse would shift. Furthermore, a sword could not easily push through the bone in such a slice, without being hammered through. Bone penetration generally requires velocity, such as from a missile or hammering. In some circumstances it can be done by exerting full body weight with both hands, but the victim must be against a hard surface. I have in mind the Ghurka technique of pushing their weapon through the sternum of the enemy. The sternum or breast bone is relatively thin by comparison.
I contend that this wound in the buttock was one of the initial hits, causing death, severe shock or unconsciousness. It may conceivably have extended through the liver and into the right lung, in which case he may have had 20 to 40 minutes of unconsciousness before expiring of blood loss into the abdomen. With less penetration, the incapacity would likely be less. Entering the bowels, though, would cause immediate shock and faint, but with some recovery possible in a short time. In this scenario, with good armour,the daggermen may not have found an easy entry point. They turned him onto his belly, which prevents punching and kicking. Entry was found on his bum. Why? Thinner protection for a less significant area. Knights ride horses and they complain to the armourer if they get a bumpy ride, resulting in chain mail protection or lesser plate for the rump. Entry lower than the thicker thoracic plate made plenty of sense, but it is a difficult distance to vital centres without modern medical knowledge. The rondel was hammered through the chain mail on the rump, aided by the torso being held against the ground, it would be turned directionally by 90 degrees and pushed upwards into the torso. At this point, there is no reason to suggest the dagger men hung around. They would move on to some other unfortunate.
What happened following this may have been the result of more specific orders following the cessation of hostilities or simply when the hubbub had moved on a bit.
It sounds as if there were early attempts to remove the helmet, first by hitting it, then by prising it forward onto the forehead. An implement may have been pushed up under the helmet and levered against the head, hoping to break the fastenings. In any case, the lower part of the back of the head was exposed, but not the neck which would, if available, have been a soft target. The neck was shielded by the, as yet unremoved upper body armour which extended upwards, protecting the neck. A blow was struck by a swordsman at the gap between the bottom of the helmet and the neck armour creating the skull wound on the swordsman's opposite side. The enemy, not necessarily being too bright, realised they could not get through the bone with this approach, so called over heavier tools, an axe for example. A blow with a halbard would have been less accurate or unwieldy in this circumstance, but a possibility. The axe would have been preferable if available. A much more powerful blow was made on the other side of the skull, possibly by the same man because the strike, was similarly landed, but from the opposite side,with the heavier weapon. Although the existence of life would not be a consideration whilst this was going on, there was an opportunity to strike at the brain by prising a sword through the fracture created by the sword blow at the back of the skull. This was done with little resistance to the blade. The breach in the skull having already been made.
As to what exactly the enemy was trying to achieve is not completely clear because there could have been a change of mind, countermanded orders and so on. They could have been finishing off, missed blows to the helmet or attempts at beheading. At some point in the possibly changing orders and following the battle, there are other happenings.
There are other wounds under the scalp. It sounds from an account that his head was shaved, which helps to account for the bit of scooped out bone. The top central puncture on the skull could have been inflicted by a dagger to keep the skull rigid during shaving, which meant the enemy was " at it "after the knight's helmet had been removed and theoretically, no need for any further ado. The top central puncture could also have been caused by a nail hammered into the head to retain the head upright, suspended by string, during the period that the corpse was on display. Hair removal is often a prerequisite for a beheading, taken from behind. Hair severely hinders the cutting ability of a blow with a blade and can change the blow to resemble such with a blunt instrument.
That the bone wounds were as clean as they were suggests that the blows to the back of the head were made in the absence of hair.
That his hands were tied (at all, at the front, at the back, how should I know? They are displayed as being forward of the spine, Come on!) whilst he was naked is puzzling if this is the case, and opens other strands of conjecture. Were his hands tied to better manage a corpse?or was the initial bum wound more superficial, enabling the king to put up more of a fuss? If he was fit enough, he would certainly be more able when stripped than when wearing armour, especially whilst his head was being shaved, when he may have been a nuisance as opposed to being a danger. The elapse of time during all this, the armour stripping, head shaving and so on ,hints at an execution, in contrast to merely falling in battle. It seems as if a "falling in battle" media presentation may have shown the Tudors in a better light, regardless of events. We already know that facts had been distorted in other respects, such as in the later portraits, which must throw suspicion on all else in the case.
If blood and brain spurted from one of the head wounds, this aids the speculation that he had blood pressure and was therefore alive as this blow was delivered. This was nearly claimed to be the case, but not quite.
The king was found in a place for a Christian burial, so it is possible that a decent interment was ordered from afar. At the site and time of the actual burial the grave diggers may have been unsupervised and corner cutting would save time, costs and effort. What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve. They may have been late for dinner or something. The corpse may have been in a completely sickening state of decay by the time of interment, and the burial team may have been minded to take an arms length approach. With the prospects of re-interment having occurred there are simply too many unknowns to suggest possible threads on this.
Countless men have died in battle in similar, better or worse circumstances and the king's experience is unaltered by newly acquired knowledge. It may be of some comfort to know that much of what can be observed or visualised as horrific, follows when the ability of appreciation of this horror by the victim is lost in sensory numbing, unconsciousness and death.
Moral compass is one of the early casualties of war, and the earliest regained on the outbreak of peace. It is the product of your own comfort zone, better accessed by the comfortable ones.
The rule is be very careful about information you put to the test, if you do it right, don't expect much activity on forum, silence is everything, don't look for others to correspond a lot.....no activity means there is little that other members want to add......that is everything, silence is everything in debate, value it!!!!
Don't be a wimp. but be clever, the best game you will ever see is silence, don't expect it forever, but if your threads show sanity i will be on your side, i wish you the best, being a new member of Unexplained Forums!
"I didn't come here because I'm paranoid. I came here to get paranoid
Posted 14 February 2013 - 01:22 PM
Thanks Monk, I get you. Human nature I suppose. I am not so clever, but I went to school. I thought it might be a point of interest in here, and it is good to find an outlet, isn't it? Incidentally, I do not have a hang up about this topic, but do like little known aspects of history, missed by the mainstream without having to dig around, You know.
As you get to know your way around this very interesting forum, you will find i'm a very controversial figure with a mystical flavour, however i love history as you do, silence is golden with threads, i may be a friend in history for a while, i never expect you ever to help me, i don't work like that, i'm big and ugly enough to look after myself, but you have my support if i feel you are right for your first 100 thread sections, you should know your way around after that, and won't need a baby sitter. Please note i don't value you as baby, i also have a love of history, and value your approach to issues, but debate can get spiteful regardless of being truthful!