Monday, February 4, 2013

Bones of Richard III found!

Is it just me, or does he look like Christopher Walken?
Credit: Wikipedia.
Because science is amazing! Last year a group of archaeologists were excavating the site of a car park, which had previously been the grounds of a medieval church, when they found a skeleton. Now this wasn't just any skeleton and it certainly wasn't Jimmy Hoffa's, the archaeologists believed this was the remains of King Richard III, who ruled England from 1483 until 1485, when he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field, becoming the last English king to die in battle. The War of the Roses ended there and he was succeeded by Henry VII.

Well good news for the scholars and any interested history geeks, testing has shown that the skeleton is indeed those of Richard! Quite impressively too is that his skull has no less than eight wounds, including one that took off the back of his head, so he clearly did not die easily. Actually, this account of his death does him quite a bit of credit:
Perhaps in realisation of the implications of this, Richard then appears to have led an impromptu cavalry charge deep into the enemy ranks in an attempt to end the battle quickly by striking at Henry Tudor himself. Accounts note that Richard fought bravely and ably during this manoeuvre, unhorsing Sir John Cheney, a well-known jousting champion, killing Henry's standard bearer Sir William Brandon and coming within a sword's length of Henry himself before being finally surrounded by Sir William Stanley's men and killed. The Burgundian chronicler Jean Molinet says that a Welshman struck the death-blow with a halberd while Richard's horse was stuck in the marshy ground. It was said that the blows were so violent that the king's helmet was driven into his skull. The contemporary Welsh poet Guto'r Glyn implies that the leading Welsh Lancastrian Rhys ap Thomas, or one of his men, killed the king, writing that he "killed the boar, shaved his head". The recent discovery of King Richard's body shows that the skeleton had 10 wounds, eight of them to the head, clearly inflicted in battle and suggesting the king had lost his helmet. The skull showed that a blade had hacked away part of the rear of the skull. Richard III was the last English king to be killed in battle.
Given that Richard suffered from scoliosis, charging into the thick of battle like that is impressive as hell. Of course, he wasn't entirely a good man. He's believe to have been involved in the murder of his two nephews, the so-called Princes in the Tower. His reputation as being evil was due to William Shakespeare's Richard III and effective Tudor-era propaganda. As for his remains, there are plans to build him a tomb. I wonder if any members of the current royal family will attend his reburial? They should, with him being a king and all.

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