BATTERED in battle and mutilated after death, a scarred and twisted skeleton found under a council car-park was today (Monday, February 4) finally confirmed as that of King Richard III.
A team of university experts used the latest scientific methods to conclusively identify the remains, discovered in Leicester last September, as those of England’s last Plantagenet monarch.
DNA analysis, radiocarbon dating, skeletal examination, archaeological evidence and historical records were all combined to put a name to the bones.
And for Darlington-born screenwriter Philippa Langley, a leading member of the Richard III Society who instigated the search, it was the culmination of years of effort with the Leicester University team.
“This has been an extraordinary journey of discovery,” she said.
“We came with a dream and today that dream has been realised. This is an historic moment that will rewrite the history books.”
The notorious king had close links with Middleham near Richmond and Sheriff Hutton near York. He was cut down at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 at the age of 32, ending the Wars of the Roses.
History – and William Shakespeare – reviled him for his perceived weaknesses and the murders of the Princes in the Tower, but the find has led to calls for his achievements to be re-evaluated.
Ms Langley said: “ The men who knew him said he was the most famous prince of best memory.
“When he fell he was stripped naked and his curved spine became known and was used to denigrate him.
“Today, we find the idea of using physical disability against a person as abhorrent. Let this now be a break from the Tudor medieval mindset.”
The remains, recovered from what was once the site of Grey Friars Church in Leicester city centre, showed the curvature of the spine consistent with descriptions from Richard’s lifetime.
He died after one of two significant wounds to the back of the skull – possibly caused by a sword and a halberd – and again consistent with contemporary accounts.
The skeleton also showed a number of non-fatal injuries to the head, rib and pelvis, thought to have been caused by “humiliation injuries” after death.
And, most crucially, DNA from the skeleton matched that of two of Richard III’s family descendants – Canadian-born furniture maker Michael Ibsen and a second person who wished to remain anonymous.
Before the identify was confirmed there had been calls for the remains to be re-interred in York Minster, where the king himself is said to have once asked to be buried.
However plans are now being drawn up for an interment, probably next year, at Leicester Cathedral, in whose shadow the remains have rested for more than 500 years.
Canon Chancellor David Monteith said: “King Richard found security at Grey Friars and so that same parish church which became the cathedral will now make preparations to provide King Richard with a lasting place of rest.”