The discovery of the remains of Richard III in August 2012 has been widely reported along with the subsequent findings of the DNA analysis, but Mrs. Janna Shonas, a contract cleaner for the buildings in which the remains were housed and examined, has reported confidentially to me that not all the evidence was made public.
The lady, a well educated woman of 53 from Eastern Europe who speaks excellent English, recalls the excitement the day that it was discovered from the DNA that Richard was not only a twin, but was a conjoined twin at birth.
Richard’s mother Cecily Neville, Duchess of York (3 May 1415 – 31 May 1495) was very used to giving birth. She had been delivered of eleven children before Richard but this birth was said to be very troublesome. It is not likely (as was said) that he was two years in the womb and emerged with a full set of teeth, but it is likely that a set of conjoined twins would make her ‘baby bump’ a lot larger than usual leading the uneducated to believe that it had been a very long pregnancy and that she had lot of difficulty giving birth, particularly if the babies were conjoined. It is also likely that some abnormality was spoken of, and what would be more abnormal to a superstitious mind than two babies joined together?
The two babies would have been small and frail and Baptism would have been swift for the boys as they would not have been expected to live, but what to call two babies joined as one? Would the babies have one soul or two in the eyes of God?
It would have been decided to name both boys Richard. It was quite common to name several children of the same family by the same name, as can be seen from the multiple brothers called John in the Paston family and Elizabeth Woodville having two sons by different fathers named Richard.
The twins could not have been fused so that vital organs were involved as, the twins ere separated and with surgery a great risk and very unhygienic process in the Mediaeval era, neither would have survived and we know that they did. Richard went on to become Richard III and Richard seemed to fade into obscurity. It has been suggested that they would either have been either
- Ischiopagus: Fused lower half of the two bodies, with spines conjoined end-to-end at a 180° angle. These twins have four arms; two, three or four legs; and typically one external set of genitalia or
- Omphalo-Ischiopagus: Fused in a similar fashion as ischiopagus twins, but facing each other with a joined abdomen akin to omphalopagus. These twins have four arms, and two, three, or four legs.
- The most common type of monozygotic twinning, with division of the inner cell mass of the blastocyst resulting in separate amnions but a single chorion and placenta; (B), a rare form of monozygotic twinning, with complete division of the embryonic disc resulting in two embryos in a single amniotic sac with a single placenta and chorionic sac; (C), monozygotic twinning with division occurring between the two-cell and morula stages to produce identical blastocysts, resulting in separate amniotic and chorionic sacs and either separate (shown) or fused placentas; (D,E), dizygotic twinning, with (D) or without (E) fusion of the placenta and chorion.
It would have been assumed that Richard and Richard would not survive into adulthood, but despite being weak and puny and small they did, although they decided that it would be wise to share the burden of being ‘Richard, Duke of Gloucester’ between them. Only Richard could marry as Richard did not have genitalia…… but soon after he had had his portrait painted, Richard died and when Richard took his place as Anne Neville’s husband of course no further children could be begotten.
Richard having replaced Richard went unnoticed, except in the marital bed! although historians throughout the years have wondered why Richard was such a complex character with seemingly two sides to his personality and why The Head differs so markedly from his portrait.
Mrs Janna Shonas has given us the answer!
Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff. December 2014.
Sources and original evidence:
The Other Boleyn Girl: Philippa Gregory (17 Dec 2013)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin (Section 2, subsection 1)
The Lion King: IMDb (1994)
The King in Winter: IMDb (1968)
Facebook comment on a history page
Vicks Sinex Decongestant Spray (Oxymetazoline)
All about Romance blog (Richard II) http://www.likesbooks.com/richardandanne.html
Innocent Traitor: Alison Weir (‘’Ripping good reading’’)
Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff.
When I was born my parents took one look at me and decided that I would never be able to remember anything complicated so they called me Jeffrey, Jeff for short. This would have been no problem but for the fact their surname was Jeffries and then to add insult to injury they gave me a shortened middle name, not Thomas or Thomaso or anything dignified, but Tom. That’s it. Just Tom.
Thanks Mum and Dad…..
So there I was, Jeffrey T. Jeffries, growing up, entering pimple hood and baritone days when along came a comedian called Eddie Izzard. By ‘along came’ I don’t mean he walked along my street or zoomed by on a magic carpet, just that he became an overnight success after only twenty years. Amongst his stock technique are his Inherently Funny Words: a staple technique. He’s particularly fond of the name Jeff and of ‘jam’ and Jeff, the Roman go of biscuits and…..I won’t go on. This is about ME not Eddie Izzard….. One of his best remembered gags included the line “The guy who made the software was called Jeff Jeffty Jeff. Born on the first of Jeff, nineteen-jeffty-jeff.”
My fate was sealed. My mates all started to call me Jeff Jefferty Jeff (having never read the name and totally misspelling it) and so it has stuck.
Having a name that makes people laugh is a challenge. One either goes with it or goes under. I went with it, developing a fine, almost surreal, sense of ridicule and irony that has stood me in very good stead over my difficult, multifaceted career – it is hard cleaning many faced mirrors. (That is not my dubious career, merely an observation.)
I live in England – if you can call this living! and have had three spouses (although only one of them has been mine). I vote and pay my taxes and work and….oh, this is very boring. Enough to know that I hope you find my contributions to this blog interesting and, even when slightly surreal, educational.
(PS If you would like a translation of this into Classical Greek, please feel free to contact me. My rates are very reasonable and I can also change a plug.)