A King’s Corpse: Richard the Third’s Remains Recovered

Jake Sorensen

Last month, on the fifth of February, English scientists of Leicester University announced that they had uncovered the remains of the alleged King Richard III, a monarch of England known for his short rule of barely two years (1483-1485) and his controversial acts during it. His death was recorded on the 22nd of August, in which he died fighting the Tudor family during the War of the Roses. The skeleton, which had a notably damaged skull, was found underneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, as a part of an archaeological dig. Before this instance, it was known that Richard had been buried in Church of the Grey Friars, which was also uncovered .

Richard the III’s history is not entirely flattering. While the historian John Rous labels him as a  punisher of the “oppressors of the commons”, there are innumerable contrary positions regarding the king. Tudor propaganda that sprung up after his death portrayed him as a deformed villain, with all its facets complied into Shakespeare’s own Richard III. In this play, Richard is a disturbed, sociopathic murderer who relished in his malevolent deeds. After this shift in public opinion, Rous switched his views on Richard, further emphasizing his deformities in descriptions of stunted growth misaligned shoulders; he summed up Richard as “slight in the body and weak in strength. Regardless of its authenticity, this image of Richard the Third prevailed over all other accounts of him.

The body was found to be almost squeezed into its grave, as if it were too small for him. It was also in good shape, with only the feet missing from it. Many wounds were identifiable, with a majority of eight (8) on his skull. Evidence of a postmortem mockery was shown through “humiliating injuries”, as if his body continued to suffer wounds from his assailants in a degrading fashion. A conclusive DNA analysis showed that their presumptions were correct, much to the relief of the researchers there.

Measuring at 5ft. 8in., the body also appeared to belong to a man of his late 20’s/30’s. Two particular blows on the skull were equally fatal. Before this discovery, there were no leads onto where his body could’ve been. The research has been going on for months, but it is only now that they can confirm their assumptions on the identity of its original owner.