Scientists in England have announced that they can now conclusively say that a skeleton found under a parking lot in Great Britain last year belongs to the Richard III, the famous king who was killed (without his horse!) more than 500 years ago. Researchers at University of Leicester used archeological evidence and DNA testing of Richard descendants to prove that "Beyond reasonable doubt it's Richard."
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The parking lot sat on the site of small church in Leicester where Richard of Gloucester was buried in 1485. When the Church was demolished in the 16th century, the exact location was lost until August of last year, when excavators decided to dig up the lot; one of the few remaining open areas in the city. The bones were found almost immediately and caught the archeologists' eyes, thanks to a severe curvature of the spine. Richard was famously know to have a physical deformity, a feature made legendary by William Shakespeare's play about him—which also painted Richard as a vile schemer, who murdered his brothers, seduced his enemy's widow, and even had two young children locked in the Tower of London (and later executed) in order to claim the throne.
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Geneticists working on the research team were able to find a 17th-generation descendant on Richard's mother's side, and were remarkably also able to pull a useable genetic sample from the remains. Dr. Turi King, the project geneticist said a press conference that DNA test, combined with the other evidence point to the skeleton belong to Richard, both proving that the deformity was real and solving a centuries old mystery about what happened to the dead king.
Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, making him the last English king to die in battle. (In addition to other injuries, the skeleton bore the marks of eight head wounds.) His death also effectively ended the War of the Roses, with Tudor King Henry VII succeeding him on the throne, and marrying Richard's niece to unite the two warring houses.
- Science, Social Science, & Humanities
- University of Leicester
- DNA testing