Over Christmas I finally joined the Richard III Society—a group dedicated to correcting his reputation.
Maybe it’s because my own husband’s reputation is being attacked. But it was something I cared about for a long time. Over the years I’ve read a number of books about Richard III—Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time among them (if you like mystery novels, it’s a great one). He appears to have been a good man. Nothing like Shakespeare portrayed him.
History is written by the winners and the Tudors were notoriously twisted (just think of Henry VIII and Bloody Mary). Their history blames some amazing things on Richard. It seems to me that you can tell more about the man he was by looking at the actions we know really were his—he passed the most enlightened laws on record for the Fifteenth Century:
- Laws in English: so the common people could understand their own laws (they had been written in Latin)
- Blind Justice: On the first day of his reign, Richard instructed judges and lawyers to dispense justice without regard to a person’s rank in society, or their wealth and power.
- Presumption of Innocence: He made it illegal to seize a man’s property before he was convicted of the crime. And he instituted bail so that those accused of a crime would be free until trial. “The law shall cease to be an instrument of oppression and extortion.”
- Jury System: He reformed the jury system with protections against bribery and tainted verdicts, and declared that anyone who serves on a jury should be of good repute and must own property in the shire.
- Clear Title: He instituted Clear Title so sellers couldn’t sell the same property multiple times.
I don’t really think that my joining the Society will correct history. But it’s important to do—not just believe.
It’s the same with faith in Christ. We say we believe, but if we don’t actually step out and stand on that belief, is it real? If our choices and actions don’t come from that belief, is it real? It’s when we believe and do that we grow. That we become more like Jesus.
If someone were to look back to judge our reputation, what would they see? What kind of person would they judge us to be? It’s something to think about …