King Richard III has been disinterred. After his unceremonious death at the Battle of Bosworth field, the last monarch of the House of York and the last to die in battle was apparently discarded in a near-random cathedral, the Grey Friars, in Leicester, England. But Grey Friars was demolished when Henry VIII dissolved many of the monasteries. So, an archaeological project was set out to find the church grounds in order to locate the final resting place of Richard III. They found him, in a parking lot.
I’ve always found the history of Richard III, the House of York, and their conflict with the Tudors fascinating. I’m not sure why. I think I was introduced to the situation in one of the worst possible ways, through a Yu-Gi-Oh! game for the Playstation 2. Before I played that game, I had no idea who any of the characters substituted with art from the Yu-Gi-Oh! universe were. The name of the game is, appropriately enough, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists of the Roses. I still find that a game a fascinating case study in blending history with a pop cultural icon, if you can call Yu-Gi-Oh! that. A lot of it is really clunky, and doesn’t make much sense. Anyways, that’s most of my context for the history of Richard III and the Yorkists, also Shakespeare obviously.
Speaking of Shakespeare, I find the recent transformation, at least on the internet, of Richard’s reputation. Shakespeare casts Richard as a crooked back villain looking out only for himself and his position on the throne. My impression of the popular opinion of the king was prevailingly a negative one that made him the villain of the English monarchy. Richard III has, especially in Yorkshire, earned a certain cache now. In fact, the residents are in a battle with those of the monarch’s original resting place in Leicester over who will end up being the final resting place, according to CNN.com
Mitochondrial DNA in the bones and physical characteristics of the skeleton were used to confirm that the remains did in fact belong to Richard III. The method for actually identifying the DNA was a comparison with one of Richard’s direct descendants, Michael Ibsen, a cabinetmaker who lives Canada. Physically, Richard did seem to have a crooked back as many of the contemporary reports stated. Archaeologists say that there is actually evidence of scoliosis and curvature of the spine which points further towards confirming that this is in fact Richard III.
In the days since the discovery and at a surprising pace, the researchers have also completed a facial reconstruction of Richard, complete with the hat he seems to have worn everywhere. You know the one that’s in all of his portraits. Anyways, most of the other things I have to say could just as easily be found in the articles I linked to. Go there if you want more of the nitty grity.