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Car park skeleton confirmed as King Richard III

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-04

Scientists at the University of Leicester in the UK have confirmed that a 500-year-old skeleton found under a car park are the remains of England's infamous King Richard III, who was notoriously immortalised by William Shakespeare.

A skeleton entombed under a car park in the English city of Leicester is that of Richard III, scientists confirmed Monday, solving a 500-year-old mystery about the final resting place of the last English king to die in battle.

Richard, depicted by William Shakespeare as a monstrous tyrant who murdered his two nephews in the ‘Princes in the Tower’ legend, was killed fighting his eventual successor Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

In one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of recent times, a team from the University of Leicester said evidence showed that the skeleton found last year during excavations of a mediaeval friary under a car park in the city was indeed that of Richard.

After a detailed academic presentation focusing on the life, wounds and physique of Richard III, the lead archaeologist on the project, Richard Buckley, announced his conclusion to rapturous cheers and applause.

Last Plantagenet King

“It’s the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that beyond reasonable doubt the individual exhumed at Grey Friars in September 2012 is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England,” Buckley said.

Academics said DNA taken from the body matched that of Michael Ibsen, a Canadian-born furniture maker in London who genealogists said was a direct descendant of Richard’s sister, Anne of York.

Furthermore, the skeletons cleaved skull and curved spine are consistent with historical record. The remains displayed signs of scoliosis, which is a form of spinal curvature, consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard's appearance, though not with Shakespeare's description of him as a “deform'd, unfinished,” hunchback. The skeleton also showed evidence of injuries consistent with wounds received in battle; a bladed implement appeared to have cleaved part of the rear of the skull, while a barbed metal arrowhead was found between vertebrae of the skeleton’s upper back.

While the findings may solve one riddle about Richard; the last Plantagenet king of England remains a complex figure, whose life was made famous by Shakespeare’s play, deeply divides opinion among historians in Britain and abroad.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-02-04