Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Search for King Richard III of England

The Search for King Richard III of England

           Richard III ruled England from 1483 until he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, fending off the invading army of Henry Tudor. This battle is considered to be the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses. His body is believed to have been taken to the church of a Franciscan friary known as Greyfriars and buried. However, the location of the church was lost when, in 1538, King Henry VIII abolished the monasteries.

Today archaeologists believe that a car lot in Leicester was once the site of Greyfriars. On 24 August 2012, the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council, in association with the Richard III Society, joined forces in the search for the mortal remains of the King. The archaeology team is led by the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS), and they are working with British historian Dr. John Ashdown-Hill. Dr. Ashdown-Hill has tracked down the bloodline of Richard III in the 21st century through the use of genealogical research. The archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar to determine the best spots to break ground and during their excavations, they discovered the remains of what they believe to be Greyfriars, the cloisters, and chapter house. Their excavations were focused on the centre of the church, typically the choir area, where it was indicated that Richard was interred.
            The Archaeologists’ Goals:
·          To determine the location of the church on the site and where Richard III’s body might be in the church.
·         To learn more about medieval Leicester as well as learning about Richard III's last resting place.

           It was announced on 12 September 2012, that the archaeologist discovered two skeletons, one female and one adult male. The male skeleton had an arrow-head embedded in its back and received blows to the skull consistent with injuries received in battle. Some sources record Richard III being pulled from his horse and killed with a blow to the head. The skeleton also showed severe scoliosis or curvature of the spine.
            Evidence that this skeleton may be that of Richard III is starting to mount up, prompting more investigations and testing. The best clue that links this skeleton to Richard III is the severe scoliosis, which would have made the right shoulder appear higher than the left when the man was alive. However, the skeleton does not have kyphosis, or a hunchback as Richard III has been portrayed in historical, literary and media works. Even if the skeleton does not have kyphosis, the severe scoliosis could in fact be what people at the time thought was a hunched back. Philippa Langley, a member of the Richard III Society, stated that if the skeleton is Richard III his remains will be properly buried in Leicester Cathedral.

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