Human remains found buried beneath a social  services car park in Leicester are those of Richard III who was killed in battle  in 1485, archaeologists confirmed today.

In an extraordinary discovery which rewrites  the history books, the skeleton of the last of the Plantagenet kings was  identified by DNA analysis after researchers traced his living descendants.

Investigators from the University of  Leicester today revealed that the remains bore the marks of ten injuries  inflicted shortly before his death.

Skeletal analysis: Dr Jo Appleby presented the results of the analysis of the skeleton, which she said presented a ‘highly convincing case’ that it was Richard III

More gruesome, however, was evidence of ‘humiliation’ injuries, including several head wounds – part of the skull was  sliced away – a cut to the ribcage and a pelvic wound likely caused by an upward  thrust of a weapon, through the buttock.

The skeleton was described of that of a  slender male, in his late 20s or early 30s. Richard was 32 when he died.

Newly-released pictures also show a  distinctive curvature of the spine synonymous with the hunchback king  immortalised by Shakespeare.

There was, however, no evidence of a withered  arm, which was also part of the Richard myth.

Speaking to 140 journalists who had  travelled from across the world for the announcement, the university’s  lead  archaeologist Richard Buckley described the identity of the remains as ‘beyond  reasonable doubt.’

‘It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in  August  2012 is indeed King Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of  England.’

Confirmed ‘beyond reasonable doubt’: Lead researcher Richard Buckley for the first time shows the remains of King Richard III as they appeared in the grave found in the Grey Friars car park

Deputy registrar Richard Taylor  described  the discovery as ‘truly astonishing’ and said it could ‘prove  to be one of the  biggest archaeological discoveries of recent times’.

The long-awaited announcement was greeted by  cheers.

Richard, depicted by William  Shakespeare as  a monstrous tyrant who murdered two princes in the Tower  of London, died at the  Battle of Bosworth Field, defeated by an army led by Henry Tudor.

According to historical records, his  body  was taken 15 miles to Leicester where it was displayed as proof of  his death  before being buried in the Franciscan friary.

The team from Leicester University  set out  to trace the site of the old church and its precincts, including the site where  Richard was finally laid to rest.

They began excavating the city centre location in August last year and soon discovered the skeleton, which  was found  in good condition with its feet missing in a grave around 680  metres (2,231  feet) below ground level.

It was lying in a rough cut grave with the  hands crossed in a manner which indicated they were bound when he was buried.

To the naked eye, it was clear that the  remains had a badly curved spine and trauma injuries to the rear of the head.

But archaeologists were keen to make no  official announcement until the skeleton had been subjected to months of  tests.

Speaking at today’s press conference, University of Leicester geneticist Dr Turi King described how  researchers had  traced Richard’s descendants to confirm the body was  indeed that of England’s  last medieval king.

These were Canadian born furniture  maker  Michael Ibsen, a direct descendant of the Richard’s sister Anne of York, and a  second person who has asked to remain anonymous.

Dr King said: ‘The DNA sequence  obtained  from the Grey Friars skeletal remains was compared with the two maternal line  relatives of Richard III.

‘We were very excited to find that  there is  a DNA match between the maternal DNA from the family of Richard III and the  skeletal remains we found at the Grey Friars dig.’

The analysis showed the individual  had a  slender physique and severe scoliosis – a curvature of the spine – possibly with  one shoulder visibly higher than the other.

This is consistent with descriptions of  Richard III’s appearance from the time, the researchers said today.

Trauma to the skeleton showed the  king died  after one of two significant wounds to the back of the skull – possibly caused  by a sword and a halberd.


Dr Appleby said this was consistent with  contemporary accounts of the monarch being killed after receiving a blow to the  head.

The skeleton also showed a number of  non-fatal injuries to the head and rib and to the pelvis, which is  believed to  have been caused by a wound through the right buttock.

Dr Appleby said these may have been so-called ‘humiliation injuries’ inflicted after his death.

‘The skeleton has a number of unusual  features: its slender build, the scoliosis and the battle-related trauma,’ she  said.

‘All of these are highly consistent  with the  information that we have about Richard III in life and about  the circumstances  of his death.


Few monarchs  in history have been so vilified and scrutinised as King Richard III.

For centuries  historians have put forward varying cases as to whether he should be remembered  as a visionary reformer and brilliant administrator, or as an ambitious usurper  and ruthless murderer.

The villain king: But there are those who suggests Richard III’s bad reputation is more down to Tudor propaganda than his actual actions

The monarch is  famous today for his death at the Battle of Bosworth, which effectively ended  the Wars of the Roses – as well as the disappearance of his young nephews, and  his derisory portrayal in William Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy Of King Richard  III.

But his reputation  is surrounded by apparent myths and half-truths.

Described as a  ‘deformed’ and ‘unfinish’d’, jealous, and ambitious hunchback in Shakespeare’s  play, which was first performed in the 1590s, it is difficult to know if the man  the playwright said battled on foot and cried out ‘A horse! a horse! my kingdom  for a horse!’, is a true reflection of the king, or merely an act of creative  dramatics.

These days loyal  Ricardians battle to repair Richard’s reputation but the traditional view is  that Richard, while not as evil as Tudor historians said, was probably  responsible for removing his nephews from the royal line.

Under a page  headed ‘Loyal to the truth’ on The Richard III Foundation’s website is an  extract that reads: ‘King Richard III is one of England’s most controversial  historical figures often associated with his quest to seize the throne of  England.

‘The prime sources  of defamation of Richard are superstitious fiction, although this was not  understood by some for centuries.

‘The vilification  may be absurd, such as two years in the womb, magically withered arms, and the  murder of innocent babies, but it is repeated ad nauseum.

‘It may take the  form of ghosts passionately listing the wrongs of an evil king, regardless of  their own dwelling in hell.

‘Or it can take on  a more sinister nature, such as what happened to Edward V, a query that moderns  cannot positively answer.

‘By blaming  Richard for everything, (Henry) Tudor escaped blame for anything for two hundred  years, until people were at last free to pose questions.

‘Although it  is obvious that Tudor had overwhelming motivation to spread malicious gossip and  to smear a dead man, some cannot let go of even the most outrageous  slurs.’.

Source: The Daily Mail


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