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King Richard III Remains Found

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King Richard III

Sarah Barb

The remains of the infamous King Richard III have been recovered from under a parking lot in London.  The accused murderer and subject of the Shakespearean play was identified by comparing the DNA of two remaining relatives and facial reconstruction completed by Caroline Wilkinson and Janice Aitken of the University of Leicester.

The parking lot under which the remains were found used to be the site of Greyfriars Friary. The location of the monarch’s grave had been lost with the passage of time and the city’s reconstruction. Eventually his grave became the site of the lot. It took another reconstruction of the site to unearth the king. The DNA of the skeleton was matched to a Canadian cabinetmaker, a descendant of Richard III’s sister, Anne of York, and another distant relative. Other markers such as severe scoliosis and battle wounds supported the DNA testing.

The cause of death for the king was a blow to the cranium during his last battle. Evidence showed that the king’s corpse was badly treated and most likely strung up for all to see. His grave was too small for his body so the remains were found in an unnatural shape.

The facial reconstruction was funded by the Richard III Society and was unveiled at the Society of Antiquaries of London on February 5th.   The bust showed a much different view of the king than had before. The reconstruction, done by Caroline Wilkinson, showed a much younger and handsome monarch than was expected. She has done many facial reconstructions to help with open murder cases in the past.

Richard III, villain of the Shakespearian play, was accused of the murder of his two nephews, “the princes in the Tower”. Evidence has shown that he likely had a role in the murders. The nephews were potential rivals for the throne which gave Richard a terribly strong motive to want them dead. The corpses thought to be the nephew are not allowed to be disinterred to prove they are the real two princes because it will set a precedent for other royal graves to be opened to prove that they are what their grave marker says they are.

Still, finding the remains of Richard III is of historical importance. It has shown that Shakespeare’s description of the king was slightly inaccurate. Even though the king had scoliosis he was not hunchbacked or had a withered arm. After setting the record straight after hundreds of years, Richard III, King of England, will be reburied at Leicester Cathedral in early 2014.