Richard III’s Bones & England’s Future: Lion-Hart-Boar


This article was first published in New View magazine 2013

Well before it began, it was thought by many that 2012 would be an ‘apocalyptic’ year; those fascinated by the prognostications surrounding the Mayan Calendar expected anything from the destruction of the world to cosmic ascension on a galactic wave of bliss. Others drew attention to the near exact overlap between the cycle shift in the Mayan Calendar (3114 BC – 2012 AD) and that of the Lesser Kali Yuga (Age of Darkness) in the ancient calendrical Hindu system (3102 – 1899). Pupils of Rudolf Steiner recalled his creation of the meditative Calendar of the Soul (1) 100 years before at Easter 1912, of his founding of the art of Eurythmy that year and of the establishment  of the Anthroposophical Society itself on 28 December 1912 in Cologne. Despite the failure of obvious grandiose cosmic events to manifest themselves, 2012 was certainly an ‘apocalyptic’ year in Britain – apocalyptic in the sense of ‘revelation’, which is what the Greek word apokalypsis means. Britain ‘revealed’ to the world the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, celebrating 60 years on the throne of Queen Elizabeth II, and inviting not only comparisons between the first (1558-1603) and second Elizabethan ages, but also much musing in the ‘mediacracy’ about the English monarchy itself, its past and future. Not for the first time in its long history, the English monarchy seemed to have pulled off a striking reversal in its fortunes since those dark cloud days in the autumn of 1997 after the death of Princess Diana when there was much talk of the end of the monarchy. The Diamond Jubilee was followed by the global spectacle of the Olympics and Paralympics, held in London. There was much national back-slapping and from the Prime Minister David Cameron on down, cries of “Didn’t we do well!” and media pundits eagerly discussed what the Olympics signified in Britain’s past, present and future. But only three days after the closing ceremony of Britain’s ‘Olympic summer’ on  9 September, the Prime Minister was having to face sober reality in the House of Commons when he apologised  – in effect, on behalf of ‘the Establishment’ – to the nation for the cover-up of the facts of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in 1989 (2), a cover-up involving the Press, the police and politicians revealed by the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report on the disaster, published on 12 September. Then, almost a month later, a TV documentary revealed  that the late Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile OBE KCSG(3), known to the public as ‘Jimmy Savile’, media personality, TV television presenter, DJ, and charity fundraiser, (he had died only the year before)  had had a pedophile career stretching back to 1963, with many of his crimes having been committed in National Health Service hospitals and on the premises of the BBC – two of the institutions to which the British public are so fondly attached. Savile had in fact hoodwinked all sections of the public, from royalty to dustbin-men, into thinking he was a regular, if slightly roguish, warm-hearted and generous ‘man of the people’. This was a second shock to the British public’s emotional life.


On 4th September, just a few days before the end of the Paralympics, before the Prime Minister’s apology over the Hillsborough Report, and a month before the revelations about Jimmy Savile became public, came the most mysterious of Britain’s national ‘revelations’ of 2012, one which was not confirmed until February 2013 – the discovery of the bones of one of England’s most infamous monarchs, King Richard III (1483-1485) the only king of England whose burial place had remained unknown. The archaeological dig had begun on 25 August 2012, in the interval between the end of the Olympic Games (12 August) and the start of the Paralympic Games (29 August; Richard had been killed at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485). How remarkable that precisely in this year of national ‘revelations’, and in the midst of these national highs and lows in September and October, this particular king should turn up again  – under a car park in Leicester, in the eastern heart of the country? For at least since the time of Shakespeare’s famous play about him, his memory has been branded into the national consciousness as one of England’s worst villains, deformed in spirit as well as body. And for much of the 20th century (4) there has been an ongoing debate  about the nature of his reputation. 


Irrespective of the fraught question of who actually did away with the two Princes in the Tower of London in the summer of 1483, 12 and 9 years old, the sons of King Edward IV, and Richard’s own nephews -  and there are at least four possible candidates(5), including the traditional prime suspect, Richard himself, there is the double question of why has this king turned up   now? The answer to both questions may lie in a single phrase of three words: ‘historical turning point’ – both then, in the late 15th century and now. Richard’s reappearance feels like a historical symptom, the kind of thing Rudolf Steiner urged people to look out for, an event on the surface of history that points to deeper, underlying forces at work.


Dem dry bones….

What has ‘reappeared’ are the bones of King Richard’s body and not, for example, some of his belongings or his private writings which might give insight into his thoughts or the movement of his spirit. What has been found are just his mineral, physical bones – the most dead part of the human being, and it is this that the archaeologists and forensic scientists have been busying themselves with. They have at least found that there was some truth to Shakespeare’s picture of Richard; he may not have been a hunchback but he would have had an uneven posture or walk due to a lateral curvature of his spine, a condition known as scoliosis. It is normal for the human skeleton to show a gentle S-shaped spinal curve when seen from the side, but Richard’s spine was curved from side to side  as well, so he had a double S form in his spine.


Since the 15th century it has been this bony, mineral aspect of earthly life that our sciences have increasingly been concerned with, the dead mechanical part that can exactly and accurately be measured, quantified, counted, calculated and precisely controlled. The quantitative thought forms and their accompanying feelings, or rather lack of feelings (cold objectification) which science has developed in exploring this region of knowledge – above all in the ‘hard’ sciences such as physics – have been applied to the other sciences, sometimes with dubious results. But the exploration of this ‘dead’ mineral part of the earthly existence was a necessary development during the 16th- 20th centuries. Humanity has explored and extended its consciousness to all aspects of earthly existence. But if we go too far in any one direction, we become unbalanced, and today, for the past 100 years in fact, we have indeed become unbalanced in the direction of what has been dubbed ‘a culture of death’. Our characteristic modern music for example, is ‘rock’ music, which  accentuates the beat, the most physical element in music and rap, which is devoid of melody. Our politics, social and financial arrangements  are ever more determined by quantifiers and feedback systems. Our food and water are filled with additives, even our medicine and medical care is given over to chemicals and attention to numbers rather than people. And just as we are damaging our bodies in these ways, so our planetary body the earth itself and its eco-logy are being badly damaged by these same deathly habits and forces.


As the culture of rationalism, intellectuality and scientific objectivity spread in the 17th and 18th centuries it had the effect of devaluing human feelings, human interiority in scientific enquiry, and this cool or even cold attitude of observing from outside spread to other aspects of society, for example into economic life and industry. At the same time there was a cooling off of religious enthusiasms after the terrible religious upheavals and wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. A more secular outlook on life paralleled the rapid growth in the natural sciences. These two developments tended to promote a certain inhumanity in the way people treated each other. The mediaeval fear of punishment for sins in the afterlife had receded, especially among the educated, and along with these developments in religion and science, went the growth in the self-affirmation of the personality, the demand for personal liberty, which first made itself evident in the sphere of religion in the Reformation – the demand to worship God in one’s own way – and then spread from there into other areas of life, into politics and economics: the freedom of the lower ego to assert itself and seek to be what it wants to be, uncontrolled by any traditional collective forms or obligations or even religious or ethical constraints. We could call this the ‘insulation’ or hardening of the personality, and it is no accident that English is the only language that writes the first person singular  - ‘I’ -  with just one letter and that capitalised,  as if to affirm this focus on the singular person. Insula-tion: each one becomes an island (insula) unto himself, insula-ted, separate from the ‘continent’, cut off from the whole. From the time of Sir Francis Drake (6) in the late 16th century onwards, the enterprising English personality travelled the world; the material world became his oyster for his personal enjoyment and benefit yet at another, subtler level he lost his inner connection to the whole. It has long been claimed that a characteristic of the Englishman is that he is an island unto himself.


The Point of Turning

But how long? ‘Englishness’ underwent real change from Richard III’s time to that of Queen Victoria.  Indeed, no culture remains the same for all time, but like an individual, passes through phases of development. With the change of dynasty after Richard III and the accession of the Tudors, then Henry VIII (1509-1547), and the English Reformation (from the 1530s), England had gradually withdrawn from the Continent into itself. There was a short period of just 49 years (1558-1607) when England had no overseas possessions at all – that has been in fact the only period since the Norman Conquest in 1066 until today when England has had no overseas possessions – just 49 years in almost 1000! That period of 49 years included the entirety of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603); it was the time when England was at its most insular. From that time on, the culture of ‘deathliness’, which was focused on the mineral and physical aspects of reality, increasingly permeated the land and society, rising to a peak in the mid-Victorian period with its nightmarish industrial scenes, its cult of the funereal, its love of Gothic horror and worship of the machine and factory, its black dress fashion, top hats and black pianos, its rigid class consciousness, po-faced religion and stiff upper lips. The Dutch merchant Emmanuel van Meteren wrote of the English in the late 16th century: “The people are bold, courageous, ardent and cruel in war, but very inconstant, rash, vainglorious, light and deceiving, and very suspicious, especially of foreigners, whom they despise.” By the end of the 19th century the English were still regarded as arrogant, but now ‘quietly’ so, outwardly modest, self-contained, reserved. It will be said that there were other, more colourful and lively aspects to Victorian England too, and of course there were. Under that English reserve, Continentals sometimes detected something eccentric, if not slightly mad. But nevertheless, one can see the tendency toward the deathly and the rigid steal across British culture like a slowly but steadily lengthening shadow from the late 15th century onwards towards its apotheosis in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and symbolised in the Titanic’s collision with that iceberg in 1912, the mechanical rigidities of the class system and the  mechanical horrors of the First World War. The grip of this rigid culture did not really begin to relax significantly until the 1960s. And yet, with this culture of deathliness and rigidity, had come, paradoxically, the self-assertive, self-aggrandising  freedom of the personality, which increasingly produced free-thinking artists and scientists and during the Industrial Revolution, England’s unique gift (7) to the world, the insistence on liberty in the economic sphere had resulted in the emergence of the form of economic activity that eventually came to be known as ‘free market capitalism’. Consciousness, said Steiner, is rooted in deathliness – even physiologically. Our consciousness is active during the day, and as a result, our bodies, especially our nervous systems, are exhausted by it and need replenishment at night in sleep when we have none of our daytime consciousness.


In the lifetime of Richard III, a telling sign of the approaching deathly culture was that wealthy western warriors were entirely encased in suits of steel armour. The art and craft of the mediaeval armourer had reached its acme by the late 15th century. Knights in 1485 looked not unlike like robots from some 20th century sci-fi fiction. As with mediaeval armour, so also the Late Gothic architecture of that period had reached a culmination. There was nowhere else to which the pointed Gothic arches could soar with such intricate complexity; the Late Gothic style could only spread out laterally over the ceiling in ever more elaborate fan vaulting (8) and then, in dying, it collapsed back down to earth into simple rectilinear, earthbound forms. Rectilinear doors and windows began to appear all over Europe. Hats became flat, fashion became bulky and square, shoe shapes went from pointed to splayed. All these things developed in the decades  after the death of Richard III in 1485. Around that time the mediaeval period in England was closing and the signs of deathliness and individual freedom began to grow as the age of the Consciousness Soul gathered pace. The new culture of the individual’s separation from the whole  - only accentuated in England by its insular geography – brought melancholia and doubt; it tended gradually to kill off the old attachments to unconscious but lively communal cultures. About 120 years after the death of Richard III, who was very much a late mediaeval figure, pious and militant, a recognisably ‘modern’ figure like Hamlet could appear on stage.


A rather bizarre example of the alliance between deathliness and freedom  is the English murder mystery: murder as entertainment and intellectual puzzle for the personality to solve In this English tradition, the alleged and still unsolved murder of the Princes in the Tower (of London) by Richard III (?) in the  summer of 1483 could perhaps be seen as the grandfather or grand inspirer of the genre. It was in all likelihood a murder that changed the fate of a nation. For if Richard had remained Lord Protector of his late brother’s children, faithful to his brother’s will for just another 6 short years until the 12 year old King Edward V came of age, if he had not set them aside and usurped the throne, then England would not have had its Tudor monarchs, including Henry VIII, and there would probably have been no Church of England and no ‘separation’ from the Continent. If Richard, having usurped the throne even, had not killed the princes but merely kept them safe in the Tower, then Lord William Stanley, faithful all his life to Richard’s House of York, would not have turned to the cause of the other would-be usurper, Henry Tudor, and at the critical moment in the Battle of Bosworth would not have flung his own army into the balance against Richard, which decided Richard’s grim fate and lost him the kingdom just as he was about to cut Henry Tudor down. This gruesome story of the Princes in the Tower is associated with the King who reappeared last year at the time of the Report into the dreadful Hillsborough Disaster cover-up and the revelations about Jimmy Savile’s pedophilia, like a skeleton (pardon the pun) being found in the national closet or dug up at the bottom of the nation’s garden (or in this case, car park (9)).


Today, as the debate over the European Union rages and as, 700 years on from their great victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn (1314), the Scots may well opt to withdraw from the United Kingdom in their independence referendum in autumn 2014, Britain is approaching another historical turning point, one which so many people feel is coming as they yearn, more or less consciously, for a new more holistic, more organic and humane age. Rudolf Steiner would probably have described this as the next phase in the epoch of the “Consciousness Soul” that began in the 15th century and will continue until the 4th millennium (10). The reappearance of Richard III can be seen as a symptom of the  passing of the age of deathliness, that is, of the first phase of the Consciousness Soul, the phase which was dawning when Richard III was killed in 1485. In that year Caxton’s new print technology published La Morte d’Arthur (The Death of Arthur) by Sir Thomas Malory – knight, but also thug, bandit, rapist, and convicted criminal. It was probably the year of the birth of Thomas Cromwell (11), who played such a decisive role in the 1530s under Henry VIII in severing England’s spiritual ties with Rome, and in establishing the centralised, bureaucratic power of the English royal State. That first phase of the Consciousness Soul epoch was an age which led the English to develop a truly insular self-awareness that related them to the ocean and the world as a whole rather than to their neighbouring Continent.  But in the culture of the western world, which various English initiatives did so much to help bring about over the past 500 years, we now need a new impulse based on new intuitions. In fact, we have needed it for a century already, as Steiner recognised at that time, but there was no real breakthrough; the world wars and their consequences blocked it. We need this new direction now in Britain, especially if the Scots do decide to break away, as seems likely.  We feel the urgency of the times, and the bony remains of Richard III reappear to us now, as if to challenge us to move on or to fall back into the deathly spirit: “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious by this sun of York….” (12)


The Princes in the Tower

The three weighty European cultures of the French, the Germans and the British have all experienced the sacrificial killing of special, innocent young souls at key points in their history. For France, it was of course Joan of Arc (1412-1431), and for Germany, it was Caspar Hauser (1812-1833). For England, was it not the two princes in the Tower, to whom, compared to their infamous uncle, so little attention is given? It was what happened to them – Richard’s discrediting of them (their legal ‘bastardisation’), their imprisonment in the Tower and their eventual removal and likely murder -  that did the most to turn many, even faithful Yorkists like Sir William Stanley, against Richard and led to his downfall and what resulted from it. Amidst all the current hullaballoo about the nature of the ‘dignified burial’ that should be given to the bones of Richard III and where they should be laid to rest, in York as he had desired, or in Leicester, near Bosworth where he was killed or somewhere else, the boy princes, his brother’s sons, whom he so violently set aside in order to grab the throne for himself, seem largely to have been forgotten. In an example of the utilitarian heartlessness that became such a feature of what I have called the ‘age of deathliness’, the late British historian Helen Maud Cam said, “I just do not understand how people can become so upset over the fate of a couple of snivelling brats. After all, what impact did they have on the constitution?”  It is true that there is no direct evidence linking Richard to the princes’ deaths. It would have been in his interest to have had them declared dead and to have produced the bodies if he had not been responsible for their murder, but he chose to remain silent, and in that silence, doubt, suspicion and rumour grew, which only worked against him. Certainly, it is possible that the Princes were killed by the Duke of Buckingham, the second richest and most powerful man in the land, who very soon afterwards chose to risk all by rising up in rebellion against King Richard in ostensible support of Henry Tudor, whose mother, Margaret Beaufort, was also very much involved in the conspiracy on behalf of her son. A document discovered in 1980 states, referring to the year 1482-83:

“this yer King Edward the vth…and Richard duke of Yourke hys brother…wer put to deyth in the Towur of London be the vise of the duke of Buckingham.” …R.F. Green points out that the word “vise” could mean “advice” in our sense of the word, but could also mean, in the phrase “bi his avis,” either “in compliance with his orders” or “under his direction.” Thus the exact nature of Buckingham‘s alleged role remains elusive. The question that these sources raise is whether we might be dealing with two instigators rather than one: the one who actually ordered the murders to be done (Richard), and the one who talked him into taking this action (Buckingham). …If Buckingham wanted to play at being kingmaker, or even become the king himself, the murder of the Princes, if it could be blamed on Richard, would strengthen his cause…. (13)


The sudden disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, so soon after Richard’s rapid coronation, which had itself quickly followed his dubious declaration that the children (of his own brother!) were illegitimate, led to the inevitable rumours. Richard had already had a number of the Princes’ mother’s relatives executed and then in the autumn of 1483 crushed Buckingham’s rebellion, and had him executed too. Even after this, Richard remained strangely silent about responsibility for the disappearance of the princes in the Tower. When his only son Prince Edward suddenly died in April 1484, aged just 10, probably of tuberculosis, and then his wife died almost a year later and on the day of an eclipse, the superstitious people of that time, understandably, felt that the King was damned.


One chapter closes, another begins…

A new chapter of English history was opening with the removal (or murder) of the two child-princes, Richard III’s consequent death in battle, and the replacement of the Plantagenet dynasty and the old mediaeval Catholic English world with its Continental connections by the Tudors and what became the Protestant Reformation and England’s oceanic empire. That chapter is finally closing now, as the formal Union with Scotland (since 1707), which has its roots in the marriage of Henry Tudor’s daughter Margaret to King James IV of Scotland (1488-1513), seems about to end. The discovery of Richard III’s bones in a year of ‘revelations’ can be seen as a dramatic symptom of what is in fact a spiritual event, a challenge to consciousness.  Assuming that the Scots vote for ‘independence’ in 2014, and opt to join the EU as an ‘independent’ state, the people of England, Wales and N.Ireland will then stand before an enormous historical choice: to return to insularity, as advocated by Nigel Farage and his UK Independence Party (UKIP) or to integrate more fully with the EU.


At least, that is the binary choice presented political forces such as UKIP, who seem to want Britain to be a fully  independent nation state trading with the world, just as it was in the 16th and 17th centuries before the Empire got underway. But in fact, what UKIP mean by ‘independence’ is only independence from the EU. British ‘sovereign independence’ is an illusion and has been since 1915, when the British government was forced to take out the biggest foreign loan in history  -  £500 million with J P Morgan Bank of New York (14)  – in order to continue the war against Germany. Since that time, British foreign policy has been increasingly beholden to the will of the USA, as was most dramatically revealed in the Suez Crisis of 1956 and by Britain’s participation in all of America’s major wars since Suez, with the exception of Vietnam. UKIP’s declared defence policy (15) would continue the UK role in the US-dominated NATO. UKIP would “strengthen our commitment to NATO, while withdrawing from all EU operations” and “maintain Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent with existing Trident submarines and then replace them with four British-built submarines armed with US missiles”. In other words, UKIP would follow the same, US-aligned, non-independent foreign policy continuing British  dependence on US nuclear missiles. It is also well-known that British and US intelligence services work together and that British financial policy in its broad outlines follows the lead of Wall Street and the US Federal Reserve, so how, in real terms, can UKIP or anyone else speak of British national sovereignty and independence?


Furthermore, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have made clear over the years that the USA does not want Britain to leave the EU, and neither do the leaders of the three main UK political parties, David Cameron (Conservative), David Milliband (Labour), and Nick Cleggg (Liberal). Indeed, the US establishment has been urging the European unity movement towards to the creation of a United States of Europe on the federal US model since the 1950s (16) and now these urgings, supported by both the EU Commission and the White House (17), have arrived at the point of agreeing on the construction of a transatlantic free trade area between NAFTA and the EU. That, of course is how the EU began – as a free trade area. Are we now seeing in the early 21st century the beginnings of the attempt to morph such a transatlantic free trade area into a transatlantic superstate? Is that where we want Britain to go?  Meanwhile, opposition to the continuously integrating EU is rising, both in the south, (the Syriza Party in Greece and the Five Star Party in Italy) and in the north, where alongside movements in Britain, Holland, Finland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, a significant opposition has most recently emerged in Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD). More and more people feel disenfranchised by the monochrome dark blue construct of the EU superstate with its bland empty circle of stars, a project which has been driven forward almost covertly by European elites since the late 1940s on the lines of an enlarged nation state with a single government, single parliament, single supreme court and single market.


Lion – Hart – Boar

Mediaeval England had three kings named Richard, and their emblems were the golden lion (Richard I Lionheart 1189-1199), the white hart (Richard II 1377-1399) and the white boar (Richard III 1483-1485). These three emblems of lion, hart and boar can be said to be symbolic archetypes that relate to the three elements of the human being: feeling, thinking and willing respectively, or soul, spirit, and body. In his book Riddles of the Soul (1917) Rudolf Steiner showed how these three elements were grounded in human physiology, respectively, in the circulatory system (heart and lungs), the nervous system (centred in the brain) and the limbic-metabolic system. In his various writings and movements for social renewal between 1917 and 1922, usually referred to as the threefold social organism, threefold social order or threefold commonwealth, Steiner indicated how a healthy social organism could only come about when each of the three social spheres of politics (feeling-soul-lion), culture (thinking-spirit-hart) and economy (willing-body-boar) were autonomous and interrelating, as they are in the human organism, instead of confused and mixed-up, as they are in society today, when politicians, like milkmen, try to ‘deliver solutions’ in education and the economy, when businessmen lobby and bribe politicians or when academic ideas are allowed to unduly influence politics and economy (mathematical modelling, opinion polls, derivatives trading). Each of the three areas ought to be determined by those with expertise in those areas: by those active in production, distribution and consumption in economy; by cultural workers in the cultural sphere (artists, religious people, philosophers, scientists, doctors, judges) and by politicians, lawyers and civil servants in the legal/political arena. Each individual citizen is himself active in each of these areas at different points in his life or even in his daily activities. A European association that was based not on the unitary nation state model, characterised by maximal State interference in the various sectors of social life, but on this threefold, thoroughly human model would be one that best corresponded to the aspirations of the peoples of Europe today. Rights issues, law and politics would be left to local, regional and national assemblies and groups to determine in accordance with their customs and inclinations (their evolving life of feeling); economic issues would be determined by local economic associations of producers, distributors and consumers’ groups linked to similar groups, continent-wide. Cultural life would be completely unbound by local, regional and national bonds; it would be completely free, as in the Middle Ages, artists, craftsmen, architects and scholars moved freely everywhere. A truly, Europe-wide, vigorously pluralistic cultural life would develop instead of the Anglo-American corporate-dominated media culture of mediocrity and sameness that is so prevalent today and which has replaced the mediocrity and sameness of communist culture.


What is gradually emerging now in the EU, step by inexorable step,  is a single, centrally-controlled European state in the image of the centrally-controlled American federal Union that emerged from the American Civil War, a country that by then had a history of only some 90 years. As this federal union becomes ever tighter, it will only bring disaster in a region with the historical complexities and regional variations of Europe.  Moreover, European culture, which historically has contained the polarities of a tendency to greater social awareness in eastern Europe, to greater individual self-assertion in western Europe, and to a mix of the two in central Europe, now finds itself between the global polarity of Asia and America. In this context, David Cameron in Britain seeks to work against the tendency in the EU for central control of all areas of life. Beyond this one good idea, however, Cameron does not go. Like so many in the British elite on both sides of the political ‘fence’, he still sees Britain’s future as essentially tied up with America and in support of the emerging transatlantic dominance of Europe by the English-speaking countries, through finance (Wall St and the City), NATO and the ‘soft power’ of Anglo-American mass culture. This ‘Anglo-chauvinism’ is a view of the future that is still stuck in the imperial era, the age that is now actually passing. A worthier future for Europe would be as a threefold association of states, each of which would itself be  threefold. It would be a Europe whose businesses collaborated in one sphere, economic life, (production, distribution, consumption); where there was untrammelled freedom of the individual in the cultural life,  but where there was equal respect for particularity and national autonomy in the third sphere – law, rights, and political arrangements. Apart from his one good notion, which reflects the economic inclinations of the British over the past 400 years, David Cameron thinks no other fundamentally new ideas but only urges the British people to “pull together as in 1940 because we are in “the economic equivalent of war” and “in this global race you are either quick or you’re dead” (18) as if Britain were a single entity in which all must be devoted to a ‘survival of the fittest’ economic competition against the billions in China and India. The last Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown used to say essentially the same thing. Life as an economic sports meet  - is this a worthy image of the future for individuals in Britain or Europe?


After the death of Richard III and under the new Tudor dynasty, Britain inwardly withdrew from the Continent and looked out over the oceans to enrich itself materially. This led eventually to the emergence of the British Empire and Britain’s contribution, both for good and for ill,  to a truly global consciousness. That global consciousness is now a fact, but the threefoldness of Asia, Europe (19), and America has yet to be realised in a sound manner. Each of these three regions in the coming phase of the Consciousness Soul epoch will need to relate to each other in a threefold way if they are to relate to the other two in a healthy and constructive fashion. After 1485, England took the fruits of its historical experience as a member of European Christendom out into the world. Today, England needs to return to its mother, the Continent of Europe, which gave it birth, so to speak; it needs to bring the fruits of its experience in the world into the process of developing, not a centralised superstate on the old model of the last 300 years, which is what the EU is  becoming, but to help to birth a new kind of social organism  – a healthy, threefolded European association of peoples: a Commonwealth of Europe, so that that Commonwealth can play its unique part in our threefold world.


I feel the force of the life of the world:

Thus speaks clarity of thought,

Mindful of the growth of its own spirit

In the darkness of the world’s nights,

And it turns to approaching world daylight

Its inner rays of hope.


from The Calendar of the Soul by Rudolf Steiner

         for the week of 9-15 March





(1)  In 1912, that is 1879 years after the Mystery of Golgotha in 33 AD, Rudolf Steiner created the Calendar of the Soul, a collection of 52 meditative verses with which one could follow the relationship between one’s inner experiences and the natural cycle of the year. The cycle of verses moves from Easter to Easter and is thus centred not on Christmas and Epiphany (New Year), like the traditional Christian calendar, but on Easter and the Christ Events of Crucifixion and Resurrection. The verses are arranged in a polar pairing, which relates to the northern and southern hemispheres.

(2) 96 were killed and 766 injured in a crush at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield during a football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989. The authorities and the media initially blamed the disaster on the behaviour of Liverpool fans, but this was later found to be untrue; the police had attempted to cover up their inadequacies in handling the match

(3) Savile was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1972 by  Queen Elizabeth II and a Knight Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great (KCSG) by Pope John Paul II in 1990

(4) Notably since the founding of the Richard III Society in 1924

(5) King Richard III, Henry Tudor (later King Henry VII), his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort, and Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.

(6) 1540-1596: navigator, sea captain, privateer, slave trader, politician; achieved  the second circumnavigation of the world 1577-1580

(7) England could not be said to have been solely responsible for the scientific, commercial, agricultural or commercial revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries; various European countries contributed. But the Industrial Revolution, based on steam power and the factory system, was very much ‘made in England’.

(8) A Late Gothic style of vaulted (arched) ceiling in which the ribs are spread out to resemble a fan. Peculiar to England in the late Middle Ages, it faded with the Reformation.

(9) After the Battle of Bosworth Richard was buried in the Church of the Greyfriars (Franciscans) in Leicester. The church was later destroyed and built over and in 2012 the site was underneath a car park.

(10) The Consciousness Soul epoch, like other such epochs, is determined by the precession of equinoxes and lasts 2160 years, from 1413-3573; also known as the age of Pisces or the 5th Post-Atlantean epoch.

(11)Thomas Cromwell’s exact birthday is unknown, but it is thought it cannot have been before 1485 and was most likely in or shortly after that year.

(12) The opening words of Shakespeare’s play RichardIII, spoken by the character Richard himself, then Duke of Gloucester.

(13) RichardF.Green, “Historical notes of a London citizen, 1483-1488,” English Historical Review 96 (1981), pp. 588, College of Arms, MS 2M6.

(14) See:


(16) See my article ‘Beneath the European Crisis’ in New View, Dec. 2011

(17) “In his 2013 State of the Union address, Obama called for the adoption of TAFTA”

(18) Speech to Confederation of British Industry Conference 19.11.2012

(19) It would have made this essay too long to discuss both Europe and Africa, but the Mediterranean (‘middle of the earth’) Sea is basically a lake between Europe and Africa, and these two regions together are the middle region of the planet between Asia and America. Historically, Europe and Africa have had much to do with each other.