Today, The L.A. Times reported that a skeleton discovered last summer in northern England has been positively identified as the remains of the infamous King Richard III. The remains were discovered under a small municipal parking lot about 100 miles northwest of London. Archaeologists from the local university used old maps of Leicester and newly discovered records from a medieval priory to determine the burial site of the monarch.
Scientists at the University of Leicester extracted DNA from the bones and compared it to a living descendant of Richard III's sister Anne. "The DNA evidence points to these being the remains of Richard III," said Turi King, the project’s geneticist.
Before the DNA confirmation, researchers indicated similarities between the remains and the description of the medieval king. The 5' 8” adult male skeleton was obviously afflicted by scoliosis, a condition that the king was thought to have suffered from. According to Jo Appleby, an osteologist at the University of Leicester, estimated that the man was between his late 20s and late 30s when he died. Richard III died at the age of 32.
Richard III reigned for two years and died in the last of 3 revolts. He was named lord protector when his brother Edward IV died, keeping the throne for the older of Edward IV's sons, Edward V. However, before the child's coronation, Richard III arranged for the marriage of his brother to his wife to be publicly declared invalid therefore making the 12 year old boy ineligible for the throne. Richard III was crowned in July, and the princes weren't seen in public after that summer, giving rise to accusations of murder and the legend of the Princes in the Tower. Shakespeare wrote a play “Richard III” describing his devious rise to power and bloody fall.
He was buried on the battle field and the location of his remains was a mystery until recently. Archaeologists discovered the skeleton without feet, and noted obvious skull trauma. The feet are thought to have been removed after burial. The hands of the skeleton were also crossed at the wrist, suggesting that he may have been bound. It seems that he was killed by one of two blows from a bladed weapon.
"It was an extraordinary discovery that stunned all of us," said Richard Buckley, the excavation's lead archaeologist.