I read today that the bones of King Richard III of England have been found and positively identified! Amazing that they can dig up bones from under a car park and identify them as belonging to someone who died over 500 years ago!
I grew up in England, and remember at primary school studying endless Kings and Queens, but my memories of these have faded over the years so I turned to Wikipedia and Horrible Histories for some help recalling facts about which King, Richard III was!
Richard III was King of England for only two years in the mid-fifteenth century, and was the last English King to die in battle. He became King after the death of his brother - Edward IV. Edward's sons should have inherited the throne, but they were declared to be illegitimate, Richard so took the throne and the boys were never seen again! Richard was rumoured to have murdered them - leading to the legend of the Princes in the Tower (of London), where they were supposedly held.
Richard III was the subject of a play by William Shakespeare which does not portray him in a good light at all. Given the popularity of Shakespeare's plays, this portrayal has become the basis of many people's opinion on what Richard III was like.
History for kids
So - then I looked at Horrible Histories to see what they had to say about Richard III - and I found this fun song - written and sung by Richard III to set the record straight and show he really was a nice guy!
I discovered Horrible Histories last year when our eldest daughter began watching the videos at school. The videos are based on books which are designed to get children interested in history by presenting the gory or unusual bits of history in an amusing manner.
I never remember enjoying my history lessons at school, when we learnt about those endless Kings and Queens, but having seen some of these Horrible History videos and taken a look at the website, I'm sure I would have enjoyed history a lot more had that been around when I was a kid!
I'm a big fan of things that make learning come alive for kids. I do remember a visit in primary school to the Yorvik Viking Centre in York as a school kid. I remember enjoying the trip - I especially remember that they had authentic smells from the Viking days - pretty disgusting, but fun for kids and certainly memorable! So I do think that Horrible Histories is onto something with highlighting the gory bits of history to engage kids!
Horrible Histories has a website with lots of fun facts, jokes, quizzes and games. If you live in the UK, you can buy the Horrible Histories magazine from shops, but anywhere in the world you can sign up for the email monthly newsletter.
There are gory history games to play on the website - like Putrid Pirate Battleships, and Mummy Madness!
There are also a series of Horrible Histories books available, which look interesting and fun too! Lots are based on British history, but also the USA, Egypt, Vikings, Greeks and even a Horrible Histories book about Christmas! Go here to see a huge selection!
At this stage in school, our girls are mostly learning Australian history, but they have also shown an interest in history in general through TV shows and stories.
Horrible Histories seems like a great way to help encourage that interest and help them learn about history in general!