Have the remains of King Richard III finally been found? Archaeologists at a parking lot in Leicester, England, are hoping so. In what may be one of the most exciting historical discoveries of the 21st century, what started off as a long-shot excavation in September, 2012 may have revealed the bones of the long-lost king.
Plantagenet king Richard III died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, during the Wars of the Roses. After having his body stripped naked and put on display, the victor, Henry VII, buried him hastily at Greyfriars Church. The exact location was forgotten in time. Now, if The Daily Mail can be believed, screenwriter Philippa Langley, who was researching a new historical screenplay about Richard III, got a cold chill walking over a certain parking lot in Leicester.
So sure she was Ms. Langley that she was walking over Richard’s grave that she initially funded the dig. To everyone’s surprise, beneath was the remains of a church — and a body, with curved spine, an arrow in his back, and a cleaved skull, was buried within. A direct descendant of Richard III’s sister was found and DNA results are due to be released in a press release Feb. 4, 2013. Until then, here are five things about King Richard III that tell the story of how he came to the throne…
Archaeological dig in Leicester, England
King Richard III lived from 2 October 1452 to 22 August 1485. He was king of England from 1483 to 1485. The Wars of the Roses, between the House of York and the House of Lancaster, ended with his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field — and the skeleton’s wounds match contemporary accounts.
Richard arranged to be king. His brother, Edward IV, died in 1483 and Richard acted as Lord Protector to his nephew, Edward’s 12-year-old son King Edward V. Richard, then Duke of Gloucester, had an act of Parliament declare his brother’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville invalid, claiming that Edward had previously contracted to marry Lady Eleanor Butler.
The Princes in the Tower
With Prince Edward and Prince Richard now deemed illegitimate, Richard III was crowned. Richard housed the prince and his younger brother, Richard, in the Tower of London, but the two children disappeared from there ahead of Edward’s coronation in June. Richard was blamed, despite any conclusive evidence, and remains blamed for their murder.
Battle of Bosworth
Henry Tudor, who himself had only a very tenuous claim on the throne, invaded England and, after the Battle of Bosworth, overturned the prior declaration of illegitimacy. He married Elizabeth of York to cement his claim as King Henry VII. The Tudor rose combines the white rose of Yorkshire and the red rose of Lancaster. The Tudors made a point of vilifying Richard III but did bring peace of a kind to England.
Was Richard III really a monster? Richard III with his family.
Smart playwright William Shakespeare knew which side his bread was buttered, and wrote his plays to please the royals of the day. That’s why his portrayal of Richard III was as a hunchbacked, scheming, evil king…while the contemporary image above suggests otherwise. The Tudors didn’t much like the Plantagenets, and Shakespeare lived in the time of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, so…