The Ends of Kings by Geoff Brown
In April 1199 Richard the Lionheart lay dying in his mother's arms, victim of a well-aimed crossbow bolt and of an incompetent surgeon. Magnaminously, Richard pardoned the skilful archer, but ordered the slaughter of the rest of his enemies in the town he was besieging. A few days later as Richard's dead body was being cut up for burial in Rouen, Fontevrault and other places, the hapless archer was being flayed alive by his vengeful troops. Richard died as he lived - adventurous, warlike and chivalrous - but he is unusual in being a great king with an equally great tomb (or rather, tombs.) In typical, idiosyncratic English fashion, many of our greatest monarchs have hugely understated tombs, while many of the failures lie beneath sublime stone tracery and monumental sarcophagi. The despised Edward II was allegedly put to death in Berkeley Castle with a red-hot poker up his rectum, yet his tomb is one of the most beautiful in Western Europe. 'Bad King John' lies regally in Worcester Cathedral, symbols of piety and bravery adorning his Purbeck marble effigy. Yet Henry VIII has only a mention on a slab in St. George's Chapel, and Charles II has only a name inscribed on a paltry block of stone at Westminster Abbey.