He wore the English crown, but he ended up defeated, humiliated and reviled.
|Richard III' Skull|
University of Leicester researchers say tests on a battle-scarred skeleton unearthed last year prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that it is the king, who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, and whose remains have been missing for centuries.
Richard III was the last Plantagenet King of England. The Plantagenets were a royal dynasty whose strong-tempered rulers conquered Wales, battled France, and help transform England into a thriving medieval kingdom. The last of the dynasty, Richard III was also the last English monarch to die in battle, immortalized by William Shakespeare as a hunchbacked usurper who left a trail of bodies — including those of his two princely nephews, murdered in the Tower of London — on his way to the throne.
DNA from the skeleton matched a sample taken from a distant living relative of Richard's sister.
Richard III ruled England between 1483 and 1485, during the decades-long tussle over the throne known as the Wars of the Roses. His brief reign saw liberal reforms, including introduction of the right to bail and the lifting of restrictions on books and printing presses.
His rule was challenged, and he was defeated and killed by the army of Henry Tudor, who took the throne as King Henry VII.
For centuries, the location of Richard's body has been unknown. Records say he was buried by the Franciscan monks of Grey Friars at their church in Leicester, 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of London. The church was closed and dismantled after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538, and its location eventually was forgotten.
Then, last September, archaeologists searching for Richard dug up the skeleton of an adult male who appeared to have died in battle. The 10 injuries to the body were inflicted by weapons like swords, daggers and halberds and were consistent with accounts of Richard being struck down in battle — his helmet knocked from his head — before his body was stripped naked and flung over the back of a horse in disgrace. Some scars, including a knife wound to the buttock, bore the hallmarks of "humiliation injuries" inflicted after death.
The remains also displayed signs of scoliosis, which is a form of spinal curvature, consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard's appearance.
Researchers conducted a battery of scientific tests, including radiocarbon dating to determine the skeleton's age. They found the skeleton belonged to a man aged between his late 20s and late 30s who died between 1455 and 1540. Richard was 32 when he died in 1485.
The discovery is a boon for the city of Leicester, which has bought a building next to the parking lot to serve as a visitor center and museum. The monarch will be interred in the city's cathedral and a memorial service will be held.
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