How did Richard III sound?

Richard III : Wiki Commons

- Advertisement -

University of Leicester academic gleans clues as to how Richard III may have sounded from historical letters.

In a University of Leicester exclusive podcast interview, Dr Philip Shaw from the School of English discusses how Richard III may have sounded in his own lifetime.

With the use of two letters with notes from Richard III himself, Dr Shaw delves deeper into what the man was really like.  Both letters provide a sneak peek into the world of Richard III’s language, spelling and grammar.

As both letters begin with formulaic and neat words from a secretary, Dr Shaw has used this as a point of comparison with Richards’ less polished notes.

The first of the two letters was written before Richard was king and is his earliest surviving letter, dating back to 1469. The letter itself was written when Richard was travelling with Edward IV to put down a disturbance in Yorkshire. Writing from Castle Rising, Norfolk, he urgently requests a loan of £100 from Sir John Say, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Richard appends a two-line note in his own hand to the letter, emphasising the urgency of his requirement.

- Advertisement -

The second letter was written in 1483, on learning of the Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion against him. King Richard dictated a letter asking his Chancellor to send the Great Seal to him. Richard also attaches a personal note at the bottom of the letter, expressing his desire that the Chancellor come in person, if possible, and expressing his expectation that he will soon suppress Buckingham.

Dr Shaw said: “I found that Richard III’s spellings are relatively consistent, and in many ways reflect the same educated spelling practices employed by his secretaries.  However, he also differs from the practice of his secretaries occasionally, and such quirks may provide clues to how he spoke.

“Like today, there were various dialects (with different features of accent and grammar) around the country. Unlike today, individuals were more likely to spell words in ways that reflected their local dialect. Therefore, by looking at Richard’s writing, I was able to pinpoint spellings that may provide some clues to his accent.

“The language used within the two postscripts shows no evidence of northern English dialect features, largely reflecting the relatively standard, London-derived spelling system also used by Richard’s secretaries. However, there is also at least one spelling he employs that may suggest a West Midlands accent.”

You can listen to an exclusive podcast interview with Dr Philip Shaw here:

Contributing Source : University of Leicester

HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases

- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 8,000 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Archaeologists find a Bronze Age purple dye workshop

Archaeologists have uncovered a Bronze Age purple dye workshop on the Greek island of Aegina.

Celtic ritual lake discovered in Poland

Archaeologists from the University of Warsaw have discovered a ritual lake associated with the Celtic peoples.

Ancient Syrian diets are similar to the modern “mediterranean diet”

A study of agropastoral and dietary practices of people living in ancient Syria has revealed that they lived on a diet similar to the modern “mediterranean diet”.

Evidence of twin-children sacrificial practices at Chichén Itzá

A genome study has uncovered evidence of male-twin-sacrifices at the Maya city of Chichén Itzá.

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Scholars uncover rare papyrus fragment from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is an apocryphal gospel that describes the early life of Jesus. 

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

Dragon sculpture found on the Jiankou section of the Great Wall of China

Archaeologists conducting restoration works on the Jiankou section of the Great Wall of China have discovered an ornate dragon sculpture.