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I note the Richard III Society seems to have changed its mind about revisiting the Armstrong edition of Dominic Mancini’s 1483 report on events in England (see my page Ricardian Topics).
Many Ricardians are aware of prejudiced language employed by Armstrong in his translation from the Latin. This translation dates from 1936, long before modern scholarship began to realize how much prejudice against Richard III had been built on shaky grounds. Armstrong was actually working on his translation at roughly the same time that Tanner and Wright were busily producing a notable work of confirmation bias designed to prove that the bones they examined from Westminster Abbey were none other than Edward V and his brother Richard.
In 2015, in the light of my newly published research into the offices of Lord Protector and High Constable of England, I wrote an article in the Ricardian Bulletin where I pointed out that Mancini was a significant source of misinformation in this context ... and I had the temerity to suggest that the Society take on the task of a new edition of Mancini, in line with the its remit to ‘secure a reassessment’ of this kind of material.
Whilst attracting several letters of support, it was also the cue for Peter Hammond and Marie Barnfield to pen a particularly scathing riposte accusing us of seeking ‘the interpretation most favourable to Richard in every case,’ and telling us if we didn’t like Armstrong’s translation we could always make our own.
But it wasn’t a new translation I wanted, it was a new edition! We should be encouraging an enterprise by an educational institution to examine Mancini’s original MS in Lille, produce a new and accurate transcription, and only then undertake a fresh translation with a scholarly introduction including an explanation of his lapses of understanding when it came to assumptions about England and her particular laws and precedents.
The problem with rectifying a few dodgy translations on the cheap is that the proposed reprint-plus-introduction will now remain the standard edition for another generation or more – a badly missed opportunity. In relation to many such MSS it is actually quite short, and the Society is the one organization that really should be investing in new editions of seminal contemporary texts like this. Latin is unfortunately disappearing from school curricula, so the chances of re-examination in the future are diminishing exponentially.
The one aspect of this proposal that gives me hope is that the task will be in the safe hands of Livia Visser-Fuchs, who can be relied upon to do the best job it is possible to imagine. As for Hammond and Barnfield’s suggestion of ‘a Ricardian translation’ for Society members, ‘clearly labelled as such’ (by which they mean ‘partisan’), I am confident that Livia will not be tempted in that direction.
Probably my last event of 2019, I was warmly welcomed at Turweston by the Vintage Aircraft Club at their All Hallows Fly-In ... where I met up with several old aviation friends including Tony Bianchi who keeps a little fleet of classic aeroplanes there. This photo shows me standing next to Tony's replica Sopwith Camel - very appropriate!
Interest in my new book continues, 18 sold on this occasion, and VAC members told me they enjoyed my little talk about Captain Armstrong.
Huge thanks to Ian Flint and the wonderful team at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome for their kind welcome to me on 21 September. Large numbers for their Heritage Open Day (not far short of 700) and the perfect location for a book-signing. Twenty books sold and none taken home! The gift shop also took a few to sell - many thanks for that.
To my joy, it seems an illustrated book about a legendary First World War pilot is an ideal Christmas gift for a favourite uncle or pilot friend. To my extra joy, I met two aerobatic girls from the United States (Iris and Anna) who'd randomly popped in to Stow Maries and loved it. They also bought two books. Happy days!