View Full Version : Richard III - hump or no hump?

5th November 2005, 06:28 PM
I thought the quote was Richard III?

Speaking of Richard III, it is thought from description given of him that he may have had scoliosis, although it is also possible that the description was part of Tudor propaganda.

5th November 2005, 08:23 PM
I think the negative press about Richard III mainly comes from Shakespeare, but I'm going to do some research about this cos I find it interesting.

When I was 13 I had a history lesson in which we had to discuss the question "Was Richard III a deformed hunchback?" which really, really, really peed me off. Especially when the history teacher asked me if I was "related to Richard III" because of my back!!!!!! (nb Mr Peters of the Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School in Aylesbury, if you ever Google yourself and find this, I hope you feel guilty for being so insensitive!!!) For homework, we had to wrote evidence for and against in our history exercise books. My work throughout that book was beautiful and perfect and neatly presented, apart from that one piece of work.....in some sort of subconcious protest, I did it really badly and sloppily. I wish I still had that book but it gave me the shivers when I re-read it a couple of years ago and realised what I'd done, and I think I threw it away.

5th November 2005, 08:26 PM
The Richard III Society (http://www.richardiii.net/begin.htm) is attempting to re-assess the life and character of Richard III. I might well join them.

6th November 2005, 02:57 PM
What a coincidence, they showed a documentary about Richard III on Aussie TV on Thursday night. It was part of the 'Fact or Fiction' series narrated by Tony Robinson, which means it was probably shown on British TV about a year ago. :cry:
They had evidence that the first well known painting of Richard III with a hump was tampered with - the painting had been altered after it was initially created in order to add the hump and also to make his mouth more surly. Before this time, images of him had no hump. After this time the paintings had more and more exaggerated humps.
It may be that he never had a hump although it would be kinda cool if he did (from our point of view).
The tv show also raised a couple of interesting theories about the two princes and the legitimacy of all the kings + queens since Richard III.

--n.b. this thread split from the welcome cowgirl thread --

6th November 2005, 03:48 PM
Yes it was on last year ivy, and if it is true it just goes to show there's no difference between the common man and royalty. Except for maybe a couple a billion quid and thousands of acres of land stolen from us surf's. But if we gou go down this line of debate you will have split the thread again Mr Thread Manager :-D

6th November 2005, 03:56 PM
I've applied to join their Yahoo Group, and if they let me join that then I'll apply to join the society proper.

I've prepared my initial post for the Yahoo Group, just in case :D Here it is....


I fully support the promotion of the truth about the character of Richard III. Speaking as someone born with a severe spinal curvature, I can say that the medieval idea of "a twisted mind in a twisted body" is still perpetuated today, and negative media representations of people with spinal deformities as evil or pitiable (such as Quasimodo and Richard III) continue to adversely effect the way that people with such conditions are treated.

I help to run a web-based forum for people with scoliosis and kyphosis, the conditions that can lead to the "hunchback" deformity, and we are all in agreement about this.

Scoliosis is a lateral (side-to-side) curvature of the spine that often causes the spine to twist round, leading the shoulders to become uneven and the ribs to curve upwards to form a hump on one side; Kyphosis is an exaggerated forwards-backwards curve that causes an excessively rounded but symmetrical hump deformity. Kyphoscoliosis combines elements of both conditions.

Scoliosis can be the result of abnormalities in the shape of the vertebrae present at birth, in which case it is termed "Congenital Scoliosis", or it may develop in childhood or (most commonly) adolescence, with no known cause (whence it is termed "Idiopathic Scoliosis"). Depending on the initial severity of the curve, and without treatment, scoliosis may progress throughout a person's life. Thus, if Richard III had this condition, he may well have been born with no visible deformity and then developed a rib hump that increased in its severity as he aged. With regards to the contemporary portrait of him that appears to have been altered to make his shoulders uneven - could it be possible that this was done during his lifetime in order to make the portrait reflect his image more accurately as his deformity became more marked?

The reports that Richard III had uneven shoulders, whether they are true or not, would suggest that he had a form of scoliosis. Regarding the argument that he would not be able to wear armour if he had a deformity - I have certainly seen 16th century suits of armour that have been custom-made for adolescent boys that have evidence of scoliosis (uneven hips and shoulders, mild rib-humps), but I guess this would depend on the severity of the deformity. Scoliosis and Kyphosis can of course range in severity from a slight curvature to an extremely severe disabling condition that without treatment would cause premature death.

I was wondering if any of Richard III's armour is extant? Or even, his footwear? An uneven body can cause boots and shoes to wear unevenly, especially if the deformity is a marked one.

Also, is there any evidence that Richard's forebears had spinal deformities? There appears to be a genetic factor in many cases of scoliosis, especially the Adolescent Idiopathic form. In addition, the vast majority of cases of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis seem to occur in tall, thin individuals, which fits in with Nicholas von Poppelau's description of Richard's physical appearance.


6th November 2005, 04:21 PM
Very good post Toni. Sounds like you're getting into the deep. Nice one! I am sure you will make a good impact with that post.

7th November 2005, 05:28 AM
I saw the "Fact or Fiction" programme last week too, and wasn't particularly impressed by it. I got the impression they felt they had to convince us his back was straight, because the later part of the programme was intended to show he was "bad", and it would be politically incorrect to link "badness" with a hunched back.

My own feeling about the altered portrait is that although the original showed Richard with level shoulders, this doesn't rule out that he had scoliosis - many painters try to show their subjects at their best, rather than stressing "defects". I'd find contemporary written records more convincing, and armour or footwear as Toni suggest would be better still.

7th November 2005, 05:38 AM
He himself might have asked that the painting be altered to be more accurate after the original artist tried to "improve" him a bit.

7th November 2005, 08:48 AM
Ooooh, I just had an email, they've let me join the Yahoo Group. I've posted the stuff I wrote above, with a few tweaks here and there. I'll report back if anyone writes me an interesting reply :-)

Kimberly, that's a very good point!

Amazed Jean
7th November 2005, 08:56 AM
Toni, OK forgive my lack of knowledge on RichardIII> Are the current monarchs related? Didn't one of Prince Andrew's daughters get treated for scoliosis? Once again showing scoliosis may be in the genetics.

7th November 2005, 09:32 AM
Well, both Richard of York (Richard III's father) and Prince Andrew (Princess Eugenie's father) were Duke of York and yes they are related....but, they are related by only a very tiny amount, certainly not enough to prove that Eugenie's scoliosis could have anything to do with his.

Today's royals are not direct descendants of Richard III - Richard III was followed by Henry VII, who killed him in battle and was only distantly related to him; Richard was a great grandson of Edward III, and Henry was his great great grandson.

Give me a moment, and I'll work out a descendency line to show you just how tenuously today's royals are related to him! :D

7th November 2005, 09:43 AM
Remember that Henry VII's wife was Richard III's niece (Edward IV's daughter) (or half niece if you believe Tony Robinson). That makes the link a little closer.

7th November 2005, 09:48 AM
Lots of the wives of the kings would have been descended from the royal line themselves, too, so it's important to note that. However, Richard III doesn't have any direct descendants, so the scoliosis "gene", if there was one, would have had to have come from Edward III back in 1307.

Descendency of Eugenie of York from Edward III:

Edward III
Richard Earl of Cambridge
Richard Duke of York
Richard III
Henry VII (killed Richard in battle, was his second cousin one removed - both descendants of Edward III, 1307-1377)
Henry VIII (his son)
Edward VI (his son)
Mary I (his daughter)
Elizabeth I (his daughter)
James I (her first cousin twice removed - both descendants of Henry VII)
Charles I (his son)
Charles II (his son, after English Civil War and interregnum)
James II (his younger brother)
William III and Mary (his nephew and daughter, who married)
Anne (James II's younger daughter, and Mary's sister)
George I (her second cousin, both descended from James I)
George II (his son)
George III (his son)
George IV (his son)
William IV (his brother, George III's younger son)
Victoria (his daughter)
Edward VII (her son)
George V (his son)
Edward VIII (his son)
George VI ((his second eldest son - Edward abdicated)
Elizabeth II (his daughter)
Andrew (her son)
Eugenie (his daughter)

As you can see, there are 27 generations between Eugenie and Edward III. As you are descended from 2 people in the first generation back (your mum and dad), and from four people the second generation back (your grandparents), you're descended from 134,217,728 people when you get back 27 generations. Many of these will be the same people (especially in the Royal Family's case, with all those cousins marrying cousins!) but it does go to show how diluted Edward III's genes will have been by the time they got to Eugenie (if any of them have made it) :D

One would expect that if there was a "scoliosis gene" in the Royal Family, it would be popping up all over the place because they are so inbred (like Haemophilia did).

9th November 2005, 04:23 AM
I disagree with your diagram.

Firstly you have listed monarchs not generations, some were succeed by brothers, sisters or cousins which doesn't add a generation.

Secondly, Richard III and Eugenie have a more recent common ancestor than Edward III, since Eugenie is descended from Richard III's brother Edward IV, through Edward's daughter Elizabeth who married Henry VII. So the scoliosis gene could have come from Richard III's mother (or his father, unless you agree with Tony Robinson's suggestion about who fathered Edward IV !)

Here's my version, with direct line of descent on the left, other monarchs on the right

Cicely Neville, wife of Richard Duke of York
Edward IV .................................................. .......Richard III her sons
Elizabeth his daughter (married Henry VII)
Margaret Tudor (their daughter)...................................(also Henry VIII)
James V of Scotland (her son).....................................(Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I)
Mary Queen of Scots (his daughter)
James I (James VI of Scotland) her son
Elizabeth his daughter.......................................... ..............Charles I (his son)
Sophia her daughter .................................................. ......Charles II and James II
George I her son............................................... .................William & Mary, Anne
George II his son
Frederick Prince of Wales (his son who predeceased him)
George III (his son)
Edward Duke of Kent (his son)...........................................Geo rge IV, William IV
Victoria (his daughter)
Edward VII (her son)
George V (his son)
George VI................................................ ........................Edward VIII
Elizabeth II

I thinke that reduces it to 20 generations.

However that's still a lot of generations with no noted cases of scoliosis, so I agree with your conclusion that Eugenie's scoliosis is not evidence that Richard III had scoliosis

9th November 2005, 06:34 PM
I think we can all conclude we are all decendants of royalty

10th November 2005, 12:49 AM
Hi Nutmeg, you're quite right - the Royal family are so interbred that there will be lots of different lines of descent from Edward III to Eugenie. I just did the most obvious one :)

And Scoligirl is also right - everyone with ancestors from England is very likely to be descended from Royalty when you get back that far. I'm a keen genealogist and although all my lot were total paupers after about 1600, and I haven't established a link to actual Royalty yet, there is one line that is descended from Elizabeth Woodville (wife of Edward IV) through her first marriage and subsequent generations in that line have married other members of the nobility so there'll be a link there somewhere.