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Saturday, April 18, 2015   10:06 PM   |   73°F

Uncovering more truths about Richard III

"Richard III, uncle of Elizabeth of York, great uncle of Henry VIII by Lisby in House of York, List of English monarchs, Richard III of England on Fotopedia - Images for Humanity " by lisby1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Richard III, uncle of Elizabeth of York, great uncle of Henry VIII by Lisby in House of York, List of English monarchs, Richard III of England on Fotopedia – Images for Humanity ” by lisby1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Richard III reigned as King of England from 1483 until he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, thus closing the final chapter of the decades-long Wars of the Roses and ushering in the age of the Tudors. He is one of more infamous monarchs in British history, with opinions ranging from him as the hunchback usurper who had his nephews murdered as popularized by Shakespeare, to that of a trustworthy person who was simply caught up in the battle for control of the English crown.* Aside from his interest to scholars and drama enthusiasts, we are finding more and more about Richard III the man and his medical conditions as a result of the discovery and continuing analysis of his remains.

As a defeated monarch, Richard III was not treated to a royal burial after his death. Rumors persisted throughout the centuries as to the fate of his body, and, incredibly, remains discovered during an archaeological dig under a car park in the city of Leicester and subsequent DNA analysis confirmed that Richard III had been found.

One of the most recent discoveries in the ongoing analysis of the remains affects the portrayal of his being a hunchback as described in Shakespeare’s Richard III. An article published in the May 31, 2014, issue of Lancet by Appleby, et al, reports that Richard suffered from adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, but not to such an extent to cause him to appear as the physically deformed monster of the play. According to the analysis, his mobility would not have been affected by the condition, and a clever tailor could even have compensated for any noticeable traces of it in his appearance.

For more information about Richard III, discovery of his remains, and the continuing analysis, please see:

*Full disclosure: the author of this post studied the pardons granted during the reign of Richard III and tends to take a sympathetic view of his legacy.