The location of his body had been unknown for centuries. Stories say he was dumped in the river, but many believed the Franciscans claimed his body and quickly buried him in a position of honour near the high altar of the church of the Grey Friars.
They were right, because that’s exactly where Richard III was found.
Last September, archaeologists looking for the last king of the Plantagenet dynasty dug up the skeleton of an adult male who appeared to die in battle. The skeleton has a battle wound in the skull and a barber metal arrowhead in the upper vertebrae of the back. The spine is also curved, which is consistent with the contemporary reimagining of his appearance. It was Shakespeare who added his famous hunchback.
Researchers from the University of Leicester have been leading the project. They have been using radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the bones and have also compared the DNA with samples from Michael Ibsen, a Canadian believed to be a direct descendant of Richard’s sister Anne. Ibsen is the last in his line, so identification from a future generation would’ve been impossible.
The skeletal remains of what is believed to be King Richard III shown on a TV screen during a press conference at Leicester University (Getty images)
The skeleton dated back to 1455-1540, aged late 20s to late 30s with an unusually feminine build, which was consistent with descriptions of the king.
Richard III ruled England from 1483-85 during the Wars of the Roses and was defeated by Henry Tudor’s army at Bosworth Field. Henry took the throne as Henry VII.
Lynda Pidgeon of the Richard III Society told the Associated Press, “It will be a whole new era for Richard III. It’s certainly going to spark a lot more interest. Hopefully people will have a more open mind toward Richard. With Henry VII you’ve got six wives, sex and things going on. It’s a bit hard to compete with that when you are a bit more straight-laced, as Richard was”.
Bring me the head of Richard III: Dr Jo Appleby speaks during a press conference at University Of Leicester (Getty images)
It may have been “off with his head” while testing was going on, but Sir Peter Soulsby, mayor of Leicester, confirmed that the king’s body will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.
From 8 February there will be a temporary exhibition, with a permanent visitors’ centre opening next year. Soulsby hopes the exhibit will coincide with the reinterment.
Within minutes of the announcement, a £10,000 donation was made to the Richard III society.
Images via Getty