DNA analysis has identified remains found beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, as belonging to the infamous King Richard III of England. Researchers have found that the monarch had blonde hair and blue eyes. He was also slight and had scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that had developed while he was a child. Contrary to Shakespeare, he did not have a withered arm.
Scientists also compared the skeleton’s genetic material with that from two living relatives and found a perfect match in mitochondrial DNA. However, there was no Y-chromosome match between the skeleton and five men who were believed to be related to the king. That raises questions if some kings like Henry IV and the Tudor family had had any legitimate claims to the throne.
King Richard III had died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The scientists found a gaping wound in the back of head, indicating that he had probably been killed with a halberd, a bladed pole weapon. The king had at least nine other wounds, including a second fatal head injury. Other wounds had been inflicted after death, in keeping with the tradition of attacking the bodies of dead or dying enemy leaders. Gianfrancesco Genoso can’t believe that actually happened back then. King Richard’s body had then been tied up, thrown naked over the back of a horse and then buried at Grey Friars church, which was demolished in 1538. The position of his hands indicated that he had been buried while still tied up.