When I started this blog one of my first entries was on Richard III and his official castle in the North- Middleham. If you refer back to the February 2006 article you’ll see what my opinion on his character and life are and why I found his innocence on many counts were true. The discovery of his remains in a nondescript Leicester parking lot earlier this year have brought about a debate in favor of exonerating some of the nastier crimes he was all but accused of by historians and one particular playwright- William Shakespeare.
Because of the forensics, which are quite advanced at present, the archaeologists and DNA specialists were able to identify his remains positively and did a thorough examination in the process. The skull showed that blows to the head were obvious from deep fractures of which two would have been fatal. Radiocarbon dating indicated that the skeleton belonged to a man in his late 20s to late 30s. (Richard was 32 at the time of his death.) A curved spine indicated scoliosis which was legendary of the king who only reigned for two years. As Richard was heavily struck down in battle, the bone specialist who examined the remains said that ten injuries were found on the skeleton consistent with that of being damaged with swords, daggers and halberds and one humiliation injury to the buttocks was a documented hallmark injury. DNA evidence, the strongest we currently use, was carried out by drawing samples from a distant living relative of Richard’s sister- a Michael Ibsen- and was a positive match.
Richard III was the last reigning English monarch to die in battle and his end occurred on Bosworth Field which is situated exactly between Coventry and Leicester, on the Leicestershire border. Politics of his day was swayed against him and the man who slayed him became King Henry VII ending a civil war, called the War of the Roses, between the Plantagenet factions of the house of York and the house of Lancaster. His ignoble end did not include a proper burial for a king except that his remains were buried by Franciscan monks of Grey Friar’s, a church located 100 miles north of London, not far from the battlefield. Of course, during Henry VIII’s reign this church was closed and dismantled during the Dissolution of the mid-16th century.
Plans have been underway since February fourth, this year, to give Richard a proper burial for a king with all the pomp and ceremony in Leicester Cathedral since discovering his remains. However, a more recent report shows that there is a controversy of where he should be interred. A rival cathedral in York desires to have the ceremony and burial there because of his strong ties to the city and because he also belonged to the House of York. Whichever takes place I am glad that his remains will go somewhere other than an ignominious cavern in the ground and that his reputation be restored to that of a brave king who did not shuck his duty to lead the battle.
Update from July 30, 2013 news out of London:
A team of archaeologists said Monday they have unearthed a fully intact medieval stone coffin with a lead coffin inside it in the central England parking lot where the skeletal remains of King Richard III were found early this year.