On Richard III

This is what I read on the internet:

 Built in 1291, St Ethelreda's is the oldest pre-Reformation Roman Catholic church in London, and like Westminster Abbey dates back to the reign of Edward the confessor. This church is the only surviving part of the Bishop of Ely's once extensive London palace. St Ethelreda founded the monastery at Ely in AD 673. and a pre-Reformation model of Ely Palace can be seen in the vaulted undercroft of the church. The gardens of St Ethelreda were said to produce the finest strawberries in London and were mentioned in Shakespeare's Richard III. (Act II, scene 4),
Gloucester: My Lord Ely!
Ely: My Lord?
Gloucester: When I was last in Holborn, I saw good strawberries in your garden there: I do beseech you send for some of them.
A Strawberry Fair is still held every June in Ely Place for charity. Here


It was my favourite place of all in London. Since we are literally on the subject and I was the bard I should probably take the time to explain the secret message behind both the strawberries and the Bishop of Ely in Richard III. **
The strawberries in Richard III were for the in crowd within England's government. Though he won't dirty his own hands, throughout the play and real life, Gloucester/Richard III ordered people murdered, such as:

Two executioners, paid by Richard III, then murder Clarence by drowning him in a wine barrel.
and
At court, King Richard III asks Buckingham to murder Prince Edward and his brother
and
All learn that Rivers, Vaughn, and Grey have been executed at Pomfret , Etc here.

Gloucester/Richard always used code words when he ordered someone murdered. I read about this in secret records which I had access to when I was Queen Elizabeth's primary scribe and his use of code words were one main reason the authorities had a hard time pinning any of the murder on him. It makes no sense to include talks of strawberries in the midst of murder plots and especially including them in a already nauseatingly too long of a play unless they mean something else that is pertinent.

Another point which needs to be made to back up my poetic license is that this was during the mini Ice Age and strawberries did not ripen until mid to late July. However, in the play they have ripe strawberries before the arrests occurred on June 13, 1483. 

The statement about good strawberries is an allusion to the notorious Bishop of Ely's practices when dealing with members of his diocese.  Feeling that he held the power of life and death over anyone in his diocese (garden) when he had problems with anyone they disappeared forever. When mammalian bodies are buried and break down for some reason they are a very beneficial fertilizer for Strawberries of all things. I'm not certain why that is and I don't want to know. In any case the Bishop was quite a devil.  It's very important that I make the point known: there were very few Catholic Clergy in England like the Bishop of Ely. In 400 years maybe four English clergy had been known to murder anyone. This was far better than the inquisition and the millions of so called witches that were being burned on the mainland during that same period of time. Those witch persecutions set a precedence for allowing the killing of those who disagreed with the Church but this had almost no effect in England. 

Richard III Act 3, Scene 4
   BISHOP OF ELY
    My lord?

GLOUCESTER
    When I was last in Holborn,
    I saw good strawberries in your garden there
    I do beseech you send for some of them.

BISHOP OF ELY
   Marry, and will, my lord, with all my heart.

In the middle of their plotting and talk about murder Gloucester orders the Bishop of Ely to murder a man.  (I forgot who though.)

DERBY
    We have not yet set down this day of triumph.
    To-morrow, in mine opinion, is too sudden;
    For I myself am not so well provided
    As else I would be, were the day prolong'd.
    Re-enter BISHOP OF ELY

BISHOP OF ELY
   Where is my lord protector? I have sent for these strawberries.

By this time Bishop had ordered the hit be made per Gloucester's order. Either that or else the bishop is making a bigger deal than even the most obedient servant ever has over a casual request for some strawberries.

And when was a 15th century Catholic Bishop ever the least obedient to any man other than the Bishop of Rome and rarely him? If those Bishops were one tenth as attentive as this Bishop of Ely appears to be then the English would still be genuflecting towards Rome.

Why is Richard III so popular?

The primary reason is that it is written with two levels. One is a high born and courtly display of  England's royalty and the other is the lowest primal display of hedonism known to mankind. Underlying all the display of glamor and glory coupled with proper manners are the worst animalistic desires and actions of humankind including cold blooded murder, enslavement, cruelty and illicit sex. This combination is a sure success for any story. Many of my other plays include these two elements but not usually to this degree. (I integrate similar elements of primal vs proper behavior in a different way in a scene in the screenplay that I am now writing. Here.)

I actually came by the idea from an early version of Hansel and Gretel. which was originally an Italian story and existed long before it was first collected by Giambattista Basile in the early 1600's
. On one hand you have a wonderful children's story with a gingerbread house, cute children and lots of jewels. On the other hand you have child abandonment, witchcraft, kidnapping, imprisonment, cannibalism and murder through immolation.

Think about it. The duality jerks your emotions back and forth. 'How sweet, how horrific, how sweet, how horrific, how sweet, how horrific, etc.'




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