It IS Richard III: Scientists reveal DNA results confirm 15th century king's body has been found under a car park in Leicester
University of Leicester academics unveil their findings at press conferenceDNA sample matches that of a descendant of the king's maternal lineSkeleton's spinal curvature also matched accounts of the humpback king
Remains were uncovered by archaeologists at former church in LeicesterHistorical records say he was taken to the city after he was killed in 1485
10:42 GMT, 4 February 2013
14:51 GMT, 4 February 2013
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.
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.
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The hunchback king: The skeleton, unearthed in a
dig last September, showed evidence of the same curvature of the spine
and battle injuries thought to have been suffered by the last
The face of a king: There were cheers from media who had gathered from around the world as the announcement was made at the University of Leicester this morning
The fatal blows This image of the skull shows where Richard III was injured
This X-ray tomography image shows the two
injuries which could have killed Richard: The area in the middle marked A
is where the spine meets the skull. There are two injuries to the left
(B) and right (C) of this that could have led to death if inflicted in
life. The right hand injury, possibly from a halberd would have damaged
the cerebellum. The left hand injury was probably caused by a sword and
could also have been fatal
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
The cut mark on the right rib of King Richard III: It is thought this and a number of other injuries found on the skeleton are evidence of 'humiliation injuries' inflicted after his death
Two vertebrae of king Richard III, showing some abnormal features relating to the scoliosis: The find corroborates historical accounts of Richard which described him as a hunchback
The blade wound to Richard's pelvis: This pelvic wound was likely caused by an upward thrust of a weapon through the buttock, researchers said
Another cut mark can be seen on the jaw bone of Richard III: Researchers identified ten wounds on the remains
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 68cm (27in) 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.
As they were found: The remains of King Richard
III were found in a hastily dug grave beneath a council car park in
Leicester last September, in what were once the precincts of Grey Friars
The skull of the king as it was found by
archaeologists: 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
Hunched in death as he was in life: The skeleton was found in good condition with its feet missing
The Battle of Bosworth: Richard, pictured on the
white horse, was killed in battle more than 500 years ago at Bosworth
field, in a battle which marked the end of his line and the rise of the
HOW ONE WOMAN'S HUNCH LED TO THE DISCOVERY OF RICHARD III
One woman's hunch led to the discovery of the skeleton which has now been proven to be that of Richard III.
Screenwriter Philippa Langley, pictured right, said she felt a chill on a hot summer's day as she walked through the area where it was thought he was buried.
The remarkable discovery of the remains, which, consistent with historical accounts of Richard, have both a curved spine back and wounded skull, was made last September.
Miss Langley was strolling across the car park used by Leicester social services while researching a play about the king when she felt a chill in August 2009.
'It was a hot summer and I had goosebumps so badly and I was freezing cold. I walked past a particular spot and absolutely knew I was walking on his grave,' she told the Sunday Times.
'I am a rational human being but the feeling I got was the same feeling I have had before when a truth is given to me.'
Miss Langley initially funded the excavation of what is now a Leicester City Council car park because she was '99 per cent certain' that the remains were those of Richard.
Miss Langley, who is a member of the Richard III Society, is working on a documentary charting the excavation for Channel 4 titled Richard III: The King in the Car Park, which has been made alongside the university academics and will be screened tonight.
She said the play that she began researching three years ago has been turned into a script for television and film, which is now 'getting serious interest from Los Angeles and in the UK'.
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.
‘Taken as a whole, the skeletal evidence provides a highly convincing case for identification as Richard III.’
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
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
Positive ID: Dr Turi King presents the findings of the DNA analysis which showed the skeleton did belong to King Richard III
Maternal line descendant: Michael Ibsen provides the DNA sample which was used to prove the identity of the skeletal remains as those of Richard III
The bones had also undergone
radiocarbon dating which indicated the man found had died sometime
between 1485 and 1550 – consistent with historical records of the king’s
Archaeologists, historians and local
tourism officials were all hoping for confirmation that the monarch's
long-lost remains have been located.
So were the king's fans in the Richard III Society, set up to re-evaluate the reputation of a reviled monarch.
The search for the lost king: The announcement follows months of
analysis of the remains since they were unearthed last September in a car park behind a council social services building in Leicester
We've been looking for you: Actors dressed as knights look where archaeologists found skeletal remains during an archaelogical dig to find the remains of King Richard III in Leicester
The spot in a Leicester car park where a set of remains were found which may be Richard III
Richard was immortalised in a play by
William Shakespeare as a hunchbacked usurper who left a trail of bodies
– including those of his two young nephews, murdered in the Tower of
London – on his way to the throne.
Richard III remains an enigma –
villain to many, hero to some. He ruled England between 1483 and 1485,
during the decades-long tussle over the throne known as the Wars of the
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 at the Battle of Bosworth Field by the army of Henry
Tudor, who took the throne as King Henry VII.
Richard III’s remains will be re interred in Leicester Cathedral.
THE DECISIVE BATTLE IN THE WAR OF THE ROSES
A depiction of the carnage during the Battle of Bosworth Field by 18th century painter Philip James de Loutherbourg (1740-1812)
The Battle of Bosworth Field was
fought on the morning of August 22, 1485, and marked the end of the War
Of The Roses, the 30-year civil war between the houses of York and
One of the
most important clashes in English history, it saw the death of Richard
III, ushered in the Tudor dynasty and gave Shakespeare one of his best
The leading role has been played by Laurence Olivier and Sir Ian McKellen, and the battle has also been immortalised in many artworks.
The battle marked the final
confrontation between the Yorkist king Richard III and his challenger
Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond and leader of the House of Lancaster.
The seeds of Richard's downfall were sown when he seized the throne from his 12-year-old nephew Edward V in 1483.
for the monarch was further diminished when Edward and his younger
brother disappeared and Richard was involved in the death of his wife.
Henry laid claim to the throne from across the Channel.
an unsuccessful attempt to invade England from his base in France,
Henry arrived on the coast of Wales on August 1, 1485.
support as he marched inland, Richard hurriedly mustered troops and
intercepted Henry's army south of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire.
Richard's death on the battlefield his rival was crowned King Henry VII
and became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty, which lasted
Time for a rethink on Richard
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 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.
Ian McKellen in a scene from the film Richard III: William Shakespeare's derisory portrayal describes the monarch as as a 'deformed' and 'unfinish'd', jealous, and ambitious hunchback
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.
Hollywood star Kevin Spacey performs during the rehearsal of Richard III: These days loyal Ricardians battle to repair Richard's reputation
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.'
VIDEO: See the remains under the Leicester car park
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