A Review of The Princes in the Tower

I had been meaning to read Alison Weir’s The Princes in the Tower for quite some time, but being a mother slowed me down!  I am usually a fan of her work but not in this case.

Full Disclosure: I am a  member of the Richard III Society.  I acknowledge the likelihood that Richard III murdered his nephews but since there is no “hard” evidence, we should at least examine alternative theories.

In this book, Weir did no such thing.  She decided Richard III was guilty and painted him as Shakespeare’s villain.

It is undisputed that Richard usurped the throne from his nephews and placed them in the Tower of London.  He did this under that claim that Edward IV’s (the princes father) marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid due to a precontract.  Essentially, Edward IV had committed bigamy.

family tree

The above family tree is not my work.  I found it on Pinterest.

Weir presents Richard’s taking of the throne as calculated murder.  If Edward IV committed bigamy, the princes would have been illegitimate and unable to inherit the throne.  Back in these times, that was a very valid reason for Richard III to take the throne.  Being illegitimate was a BIG DEAL.

Richard was a loyal brother to Edward IV and usually did his bidding.  Edward asked Richard to be Lord Protector of the realm until Edward V reached his majority.

If Richard betrayed this, perhaps it was because he felt threatened.  The princes’ mother, Elizabeth Woodville, mistrusted Richard and plotted against him.  Usurping the throne and getting rid of the princes may have been a way for him to protect himself and his young son.

Of course, there is the possibility that Richard did not order the deaths of the princes and someone else did it to undermine his rule.

Another thing that bothered me in this book was the assertion that Richard hastened the death of his queen, Anne Neville through poison and malicious rumors, so he could marry his niece, Elizabeth of York.  I realize there was probably a flirtation or perhaps even an affair, but I just don’t think Richard killed his wife.  Most accounts show a respectful marriage, and it has been written that Richard was grief-stricken at Anne’s death.

Weir also harps on the incestuous nature of Richard III’s relationship with his niece, Elizabeth of York.  First, we don’t even know for sure that they had relations.  If they did, it would be incestuous by our modern definition however, back in these times, the church granted dispensations for these sort of things ALL THE TIME.  It’s gross to a twenty-first century mind, but don’t over-dramatize it.

My final issue with this work is that Weir relies heavily on Thomas More as a source.  More lived in the Tudor Court.  History is written by the victors, and I can’t imagine Henry VII would have enjoyed a favorable account of his predecessor that he killed.  And if the Tudors had something to do with the murders of the princes, even more reason to vilify the last Yorkist king.

Maybe Richard III was a child-killing asshole.  I would have appreciated more evidence from all sides in a work of this magnitude.  I would not fault anyone from concluding that Richard III was involved in the murders, but I think there were deeper reasons than him just being a power-hungry usurper.





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Chris Petersen is smarter than the rest of us

I have always admired Chris Petersen.  Nobody has done more with less, first at Boise State and now at Washington.  Then I read this article, and I have even more respect for him.

Chris Petersen does not have “yellers” on his staff:

We’re trying to develop self-esteem out there, and that is a really hard thing to do. Because it’s usually never quite good enough. It’s a fine line, to really bring the intensity on the field and demand a standard. You have to be a really skilled coach to understand that. But we’re never going to scream at our guys, that’s not how we do it.”

I personally hate the phrase “self-esteem” but I agree with Petersen’s point.  I understand that “yelling” is considered a part of sports, but it should be limited to when you really have to use it.

Let me define yelling.  I do not mean simply raising your voice and telling someone to hustle.  I mean screaming and m-fing people.  Being vicious.

If you’re a coach who is yelling all the time, your athletes might start tuning you out.  If everything is so important that you have scream, then nothing is.  In my opinion, there are two types of kids:

Kid A – This is a sensitive kid. If you yell at him/her, it will upset them.  They will be so upset that you’re yelling that they won’t hear your message.

Kid B – This kid has a little more swagger.  You scream at this kid, and s/he just tunes you out.  You’re probably pissing him off.

Either way, the coach loses his/her “teachable moment.”  The first thing a coach is is a teacher.  If you’re not communicating to your students, you are done.

Finally and most importantly, if you really beat up your kids verbally for ticky-tack crap, you will lose them.  Nobody wants to be mother-f-ed all the time.  Your team will not work for you.  Why would they fight for a coach who berates them when the unknown successor might treat them better?

Let’s watch Notre Dame this season.


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The Art of Being Alone

I was speaking with a friend the other day who was going to the movies for the first time alone.  She was petrified of the judgment she might receive.  I told her that I used to go to the movies and eat alone ALL THE TIME, especially when my husband was in residency and before little bambino arrived.  She thought I was cray.

As the mother of a small child, I am never alone, and I’m fine with that.  But before motherhood, I was always okay being alone.  My husband has a demanding schedule and my friends aren’t always available.  Was I supposed to sit in our apartment like a hermit because of that?

I would go out to lunch between errands and people-watch.  I saw some great movies such as One Direction: This is Us without complaining from my better half.  It was a win for me!

Trust me, I had some great afternoons out to lunch by myself.  I also live by the philosophy “no company is better than bad company.”  I have a few well-developed friendships rather than “tons of friends.”  I would rather be alone than with someone I have nothing in common with.  My parents didn’t over-program me with playdates as a kid, and I had to self-entertain.  I think this is important.  It is okay to be alone sometimes.

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A Review of Orange Theory Fitness

This is going to sound vapid, but I’ve been worried about my weight for the last little bit.  Not in a super-concerning way but just that I was always worrying about it.  The number on the scale has slowly crept up, and I know it’s not going to get any easier as I age.

Exercise has been a part of my life since college, but what I was doing was no longer effective.  My friend got me set up with a trial class at Orange Theory Fitness (OTF).  I have since signed up for a pack of classes, and it has already made a difference.

I go once per week, twice if I’m lucky.  I have already lost a little weight and a little bit from my waist.  Not that it should matter, but it does help me psychologically.  I can enjoy a hearty meal without worrying about how I’m going to make up for it.

I would highly recommend OTF to someone who needs an upgrade to their fitness routine.  The workouts are about an hour and very intense, but not bad enough to want to quit.  The coaches are very encouraging.  There are people from all walks of life with unique goals, so it is not intimidating.  Plus, it’s really nice to have someone else keep the pace!

You alternate between treadmill, weight room and water rower at the direction of your coach.  I have a treadmill at home and while the rower is great, I am paying the big bucks for the weight room.  It is nice to have different weight workouts and a professional on hand to help with proper form.  You also have a heart-rate monitor and can track your BPMs, heart rate, approximate calories burned, etc. as you work out.  You can visit their website to read exactly how it works!  Basically, if you work out hard enough, you will keep burning extra calories for thirty-six hours!

The only downside is that it’s pricey.  I’m #blessed to be able to work it out and have a husband who is supportive of my fitness goals.  For him, I guess he’d rather we pay the money than have to hear the whining.  As they say, “happy wife, happy life!”


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Reign Update

I watched the series finale of Reign the other night.  Wow!  They moved fast!  No sooner had Lord Darnley been killed did John Knox and his cronies march in there and arrest Mary.  A minute later, we were in 1587 at Mary’s execution.  So much for Mary’s marriage to Bothwell, captivity and the Babington Plot!  The series got seventy-eight episodes total, and I wish they could have had a couple shows to adequately portray Mary’s demise.  So instead, Elizabeth becomes the super-villain!

Mary leaves her infant son, now King James to be raised by his uncle, the Earl of Moray.  On this show, the earl is a noble figure, Mary’s right-hand man.  In history, the Earl of Moray is the main source of Mary’s problem.  He is very much like the John Knox character on the show and forces Mary’s abdication and flight into England.  But the show had to go the simple route of a hot good guy and Elizabeth being evil!

The scene with grown up King James meeting with Elizabeth, pleading for his mother’s life, is the one that really got me.  Elizabeth gives King James the choice – his mother’s life or the English throne when Elizabeth dies.  Said meeting never took place.  Additionally, Elizabeth didn’t name her successor until her deathbed.  She was a smart lady and naming her successor would have compromised her.  The idea that she gave the King of Scotland a choice like this is preposterous.  James then chastises Elizabeth for being weak and afraid of Mary.  Who cares?  Elizabeth lives and fosters the Golden Age of England.

Unfortunately, the show didn’t address the Babington Plot.  Although Mary was set up, there was a letter in her own hand authorizing her supporters to assassinate Elizabeth.  Again, Elizabeth had no choice.  She had to execute her rival, but the show didn’t acknowledge it since it didn’t fit into the “heroine Mary” narrative.

Twitter was a dream on Friday night.  People were tweeting, “Elizabeth, you b****!”  Elizabeth probably was that for many ones, but don’t attack her for protecting her realm.

Historical shows/films, due to time constraints or whatever, often change history but not to the point where they change a person’s character.  The only other one I can think of is Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl.  Don’t even get me started on that one.  Even The Tudors and Braveheart, riddled with historical inaccuracies, didn’t change the characterization of the subjects.  They may have changed some of the surrounding details but not the actual person.

We live in a world where people think Abraham Lincoln was the first president of the United States and chocolate milk comes from brown cows.  Unfortunately, people think what they see on a historical show is fairly accurate, and this show really missed the mark on one of history’s strongest women.  Like it or not, Mary, Queen of Scots had it coming to her and much of it was her fault.

P.S. Mary, Queen of Scot’s execution was a signal to Catholic Europe to attack England aka the Spanish Armada.  Therefore, Elizabeth’s England defeated the Armada in 1588, not before Mary’s death as portrayed on the show.  I had to let that out.

P.S.S. If you want a good movie on Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth, please see Mary, Queen of Scots starring Vanessa Redgrave as Mary and Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth.  Although there are some inaccuracies, such as scenes where the two queens meet, they don’t change the story.


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RIP to Reign

When my husband is working late at night and Baby Munchkin is sound asleep, I sometimes tune into a show called Reign on The CW.  It is a show very loosely based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots.  The series finale is this Friday, June 16th.

I don’t know why I watch it.  I am fascinated by that era in history, but the historical flaws really infuriate me.  The actress who plays Mary, although beautiful, looks nothing like Mary.  I could live with that if that were the only thing.  They have changed the characterization of some key historical figures, particularly her first husband Francis II of France and her half-brother James Stuart, Earl of Moray.  There is also this really weird storyline about the supernatural (The CW already has a ton of vampire shows).  These are a just a couple of the really obvious ones.

Whenever history goes Hollywood, inaccuracies can be expected.  Braveheart is one of the most historically inaccurate films ever.  The real William Wallace was 6’6″ while Mel Gibson was a foot shorter.  Princess Isabella, who Wallace is shown to have an affair, didn’t even come to England until 1308, almost three years after Wallace’s execution.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers on The Tudors, although a magnificent actor, was the worst Henry VIII ever.  Henry was known for being red-haired and larger than life, not 5’7″ and moody.  All this aside, the thing that really irks me about Reign is its portrayal of Mary vs. her cousin and rival, Elizabeth I.

Full Disclosure: I am and always will be team Elizabeth.

On this show, Mary is all things good, and Elizabeth is the evil aggressor who executes Mary’s bff (also fake).  The writers try to justify Mary’s claim to the English throne.  In my opinion, Mary is the aggressor here, not Elizabeth.  But if your only experience with this era of history is this show, you would think “poor Mary, bad Elizabeth.”

Let’s think a moment about who Elizabeth was.  Her mother was executed at age three.  She saw another stepmother executed.  Her place at court depended on the mood of her father, Henry VIII.  A scandal in her stepmother’s home almost brought about her ruin at age thirteen.  Her brother disinherited her.  Her sister, Mary Tudor (different person), imprisoned her in the Tower of London and was thisclose to signing Elizabeth’s death warrant. Additionally, Catholic Europe, especially Spain was gunning for her.  The fact that she was a woman didn’t get her any points either.

She could have run away or given up but she survived and THRIVED!  What an inspiration she was and could be to a new generation learning to love history.

Elizabeth survived her perilous beginning and her own reign with her intelligence and non-committal attitude.  She never knew security, so when Mary attempted to claim the English throne, I can understand why Elizabeth reacted the way she did.  I get that it’s “not nice” that Elizabeth ultimately imprisoned and executed Mary.  In fact, she didn’t want to do it and was haunted by Mary until her own death in 1603. Understanding Elizabeth’s time period and own upbringing, you can see that she had no choice.

It would have been better to not have Elizabeth on the show at all than to have these superficial plot points involving her.  She was much more effective as a mysterious figure in season two.  Since Elizabeth and Mary never met in real life, it would have worked!

I know it’s just a show, but I wish they would have focused on the wily queen who would have no master.  The girl who survived a terrible childhood to achieve her destiny.  The woman who defeated the invincible Armada.  The queen who wanted to rule absolutely but was progressive enough to “not make windows into men’s souls.”  Maybe she’s not the good guy, but she’s certainly not the antagonist.

Mary followed her heart.  Elizabeth honored her duty above all else and learned from her mistakes/past.  There is something to be said for that.


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One of the greatest experiences of my childhood was visiting the Tower of London with my family.  That day, history came alive and a lifelong passion was born.  When I returned with my husband in 2012, I was a little bit disappointed in my experience.  While the great structures were still there, many of the exhibits had been “dumbed-down” to make them more interactive.  I really didn’t need to vote on who I believed murdered the Princes in the Tower.  This did nothing to enhance my experience; I didn’t learn anything.  In fact, having the voices of little boys shout “Uncle!?!” actually detracted from my experience.

The same thing happened at Hampton Court.  We rented the audio tour, and what we got was a make-believe, short story about Katherine Parr’s wedding day to Henry VIII.  I would have preferred a straightforward audio tour.  A lot of us, even as children, don’t need all the bells and whistles to make something interesting.  Being in a site with as much history as Hampton Court was riveting enough.

Above Left: Exhibit in question in the Bloody Tower at the Tower of London.  I don’t have a problem with this display but there was an area where you can vote who you think killed the princes.  WHO CARES WHAT I THINK!?!?!  Above Right: Me at Hampton Court in the Haunted Gallery where Henry VIII’s fifth queen, Catherine Howard, ran screaming for the king to spare her life.  Stories like this are fascinating unlike the make-believe audio tour we had!

Unfortunately, this is just a small, personal example of how society caters to the lowest common denominator.

Another example – when I call to schedule a doctor’s appointment, I am often treated like I’m disengaged and unimportant.  I have to fight to get what I need.  My husband, who has experience in this field, says it because they see so many who don’t give a damn about their health and don’t listen to the advice of their doctors.  Just because other people don’t care doesn’t mean that I don’t.  I’ve never heard of just not showing up for an appointment, but apparently it happens multiple times per day!  When I go in for my visit, the doctor is usually delighted that I’m healthy and engaged in my healthcare.

It’s hard to find a real news broadcast anymore.  Respectable news programs show youtube clips as news.  They report what some clown says on Twitter as fact, and then it turns out to be wrong.  You would be hard-pressed to find many people in my generation who know the actual news, and I’m not talking about Keeping Up With the Kardashians.  I’m sure the average person knows what craziness Donald Trump tweeted early this morning, but do they know what is going on with North Korea or ISIS?

I’m not trying to be political here, but this is concerning.  I’m tired of living in a world where we cater to the uniformed.  We live in a nation where a lot of people think Lena Dunham and the Kardashians have all the answers.

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