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In more senses than one, Eleanor Talbot is the Queen of historical mythology:
- John Ashdown-Hill has already proved that she was the daughter of the famous first Earl of Shrewsbury – a fact which many historians had questioned for centuries.
- There is no doubt that Eleanor had a relationship with Edward IV.
- She was unquestionably the cause which made the Three Estates of the Realm offer the crown of England to Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Richard III) - though Thomas More and other Tudor writers told lies about that later.
- Eleanor was deliberately airbrushed out of history by Henry VII, following his usurpation of the English throne.
In other words, Eleanor’s story proves that Vergil, More and other sixteenth-century writers told lies – and so did Henry VII.
John Ashdown-Hill’s updated second edition of The Secret Queen (his book about Eleanor), reveals a new, scientifically produced, facial reconstruction of the set of Norwich bones which may be Eleanor’s remains.
The book also explores a possible explanation for Eleanor’s unexpected early death.
Another recently published book by John explores for the first time the true evidence for Edward IV’s movements, and the true evidence for his personal relationships.
Meanwhile the recent Eleanor study day, at Norwich Castle, on 11 June, unveiled the new facial reconstruction commissioned from the University of Dundee, explained its scientific basis, and promoted further scientific study of the Norwich bones.
About Dr John Ashdown-Hill:
A founder member of Philippa Langley’s Looking For Richard Project, in 2004 John Ashdown-Hill discovered Richard III’s mtDNA sequence,* and in the same year he was commissioned by the BBC to disprove the Leicester myth that said Richard III’s body ended up in the river Soar. He is a leading writer on the late medieval period, has done a great deal of research, and published many books and papers. He frequently gives talks on Richard III and related events, and in 2015 was awarded Membership of the Most Excellent Order of British Empire (MBE) by HM The Queen ‘for Services to Historical Research and the Exhumation and Identification of Richard III’.
*Published in 2005
To find out more about John and his publications and events, please visit: www.johnashdownhill.com
Louis John Frederick Ashdown-Hill MBE FSA
5 April 1949 – 18 May 2018
We feel very honoured to have known Dr John Ashdown-Hill and extremely privileged to have worked with him on the Looking For Richard Project. John will always be remembered for his ground-breaking discovery of King Richard’s mtDNA, and for his crucial work in helping to debunk the widely believed myth that Richard’s remains had been thrown into the river Soar at the Dissolution – achievements which led directly to the discovery of the king’s grave and international headlines. As well as an astute and inspirational historian and genealogist, John was also a talented linguist, fluent in many languages including Latin. His prolific publishing and research output bequeathed a unique and lasting legacy to Ricardian studies in particular, and late medieval history in general. Perhaps his most important work, Eleanor, The Secret Queen, credibly established Eleanor Talbot as the first wife of Edward IV and introduced the evidence for the pre-contract to a much wider audience. John was a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), a Fellow of The Society of Antiquaries, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a member of the Society of Genealogists, the Richard III Society, and the Centre Europeen d'Etudes Bourguignonnes. Less well known is John’s love of animals and the environment, for example, he cared for rescued battery chickens in his garden. In all seasons he would take time out from his busy schedule to spend quiet contemplative time enjoying a nearby beach. As a person, John was kind and gentle. Despite his exceptional knowledge, intellect, and achievements, he remained the unassuming, humble, quiet, modest man he had always been. He was a practicing Catholic, and his strong faith was a source of great comfort as his health began to fail. John will live forever in the knowledge he has left to the world - and also in the memories of those lucky enough to have known him.