Is the Movie Lincoln Historically Accurate?

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States.

Last night I finally got the opportunity to visit the cinema and watch Steven Spielberg’s latest historical drama Lincoln which I thoroughly enjoyed. The film focuses on the Lincolns efforts in the last few months of his life to pass the 13th amendment to the Constitution in the House of Representatives outlawing slavery and involuntary servitude.

I was keen to see this film having had an interest in the American Civil War for a number of years. I am a fan of Ken Burns excellent film ‘The Civil War’ (I am aware it is rather pro-Union) and was lucky enough to visit the battlefields of Gettysburg in 2003. Unfortunately for me however the Civil War is simply something going on in the background and although frequently mentioned it does not receive the ‘Saving Private Ryan’ treatment. The two exceptions are the opening sequence where we see close quarters fighting during the lesser known Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry and near the end of the movie where Lincoln surveys the aftermath of the Siege of Petersburg. Continue reading

Richard III’s Remains – York, Leicester or Somewhere Else?

Richard III Oil on Panel Late 16th Century

King Richard III by an unknown artist late 16th Century. Oil on panel on display in room 1 in the National Portrait Gallery

On Monday 4th February 2013 the Greyfriers skeleton which was exhumed several months earlier from a car park in Leicester was officially identified as that of Richard III King of England. Richard III had been buried in the small monastic community of Greyfriers in Leicester. It was known that Henry VII who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 paid £50 for a monument to be placed over Richards grave.

Local legend had it however that during the dissolution of the monasteries Richards body was exhumed and thrown into the River Soar while his coffin was sold to an Inn Keeper as a horse trough! Some locals however still believed that the body was buried in Leicester. The land once occupied by the Greyfriers Monastery was developed over the intervening years since the dissolution and is now Local Council offices.

Greyfriars Leicester site

The dotted brown line indicates the area identified in 1920 as the extent of the Greyfriars grounds. The University of Leicester 2012 dig positioned the Church, Chapter House, Cloisters and monastic buildings as the pink area shown, with a black dot indicating the location of the grave which contained the remains of Richard III.

Using old maps and previous work to identify the location of the monastery a team from Leicester University identified land suitable for excavation in 2012. Their plan was to dig a number of trenches and hopefully intersect a wall of the monastery. From this they could work out where the choir was which is where Richard was said to be buried.

Amazingly the first trench immediately unearthed two leg bones; these were part of the Greyfriers skeleton which was ultimately identified as the remains of Richard III! Continue reading