Remains of Notorious English King, Killed in Battle, Discovered Under Parking Lot

By:  Dave Bohon
Remains of Notorious English King, Killed in Battle, Discovered Under Parking Lot

The discovery of the remains of England's notorious King Richard III will likely do little to change his historical reputation as a murdering usurper who took the throne through intrigue.

One of Britain's most notorious monarchs, made famous through the centuries thanks in large part to William Shakespeare, has stepped onto the stage once more. The remains of King Richard III, who reigned in England for just two years before being killed in 1585 at the Battle of Bosworth Field, were discovered under a parking lot in the city of Leicester, 100 miles northwest of London. Researchers at the University of Leicester, who uncovered the remains at the dig site of what had been a medieval church, Grey Friars, said that the evidence shows “beyond reasonable doubt” that the battle-scarred skeleton found last October is that of the Richard.

USA Today noted that the remains “had what was thought to be a metal arrow in its back — in fact, more likely to be a Roman nail — and head injuries,” injuries that match the historical account of how the king died in battle. The remains also had a curved spine, in keeping with a tradition that Richard had a deformity that made him appear not to walk straight. In Shakespeare's Tragedy of Richard III, he is portrayed as a “deform'd unfinish'd” villain.

“This is a historic moment and the history books will be rewritten,” said Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society, which originated the search. “We have searched for Richard and found him — now it is ... time to honor him.”

Over the past months researchers poked and prodded the remains, subjecting them to CT scans, radio carbon dating, and DNA tests to confirm that they are indeed those of Richard III. Testing included a confirmed DNA match with samples from known living descendents of Richard III's sister, Anne of York.

“The DNA sequence obtained from the Grey Friars skeletal remains was compared with the two maternal line relatives of Richard III,” explained Leicester University geneticist Turi King, and “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 at the Grey Friars dig.”

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