The King: Is it or isn’t it Richard Plantagenet?


King Richard III

King Richard III – Source:

The news this week has been exciting. (Understatement)
First, congratulations to University of Leicester multi-discipline crew who have performed such detailed research over a number of years to reach this point! The few publicly available clips of a press conference Sept. 12, indicate that the crew can barely contain their excitement. While measuring their words, as all professional scientists and historians must do. (I have been bouncing on My couch (NOT Oprah’s) while reading the media reports.)
However, it seems that the choir area of the Greyfriars church has not only been identified from artifacts found, but yes, human male remains were discovered. (Burial in the choir area indicates the presence of a high-born personage.) Further visual indications strongly suggest a violent death. The skull has a cleavage, consistent with having been subjected to a battle weapon. An arrowhead has been found in the rib area. Again, this is consistent with a contemporary account of the king’s death at Bosworth.
An interesting find is that the skeleton appears to indicate scoliosis, a spinal curvature, again consistent with descriptions of Richard III. But far from the Tudor/Shakespeare description of a hunch-backed cripple with a withered arm. Difficult to imagine a one-armed, crippled hunch-back as the battle-hardened warrior also described in contemporary and near-contemporary accounts. If these proves to be the remains of Richard III, it is amazing to imagine the strength of mind and spirit required to build the strength and skill, in the face of the pain and difficulty of managing a severe spinal problem.
For me, an additional personal interest (apart from having been deeply interested in this king and his times for decades), are some Canadian connections. The MtDNA is belongs to a British lady who moved to Canada following WWII. Her DNA sample, following a genealogical trace some years ago, indicates her descent from Richard’s maternal family. Dr. Turi King, of the University of Leicester forensic team, is Canadian. Small details, but adding to the personal excitement. The Canadian media has already posted accounts to date of this project.
Now, a wait for the MtDNA results. Even if a match does not prove true, or indecisive, the dig will have provided a light into 14th C history. At the least, the probability that this Richard III is high. Remember, the truth of the deaths of his nephews remains unknown, and unproven. Despite disputed origin of bones found at the Tower.
A wonderful aspect has been the convergence of history experts, archaeologists, forensic scientists, a university, and Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society, to push this project to this point. And to have been rewarded (understatement) by the current results. And congratulations to all the other supporters of the project.

8 Responses to The King: Is it or isn’t it Richard Plantagenet?

  • John Pohl says:

    This is a great story and even allows the public to follow along and get right into the debate. I liked the archaeologists’ observations of the skull…”Basically, a slice has been taken off the back of the head and there is also wound to the top of the head, very small on the outside but causing a lot of damage inside, caused by something more pointy.” So, a slice and jab… I found an historical account that describes a Welch soldier using a poleaxe to kill Richard. The Higgins Armory in Massachusetts has a website that shows the use of the poleaxe and it seems to fit exactly what kinds of wounds were inflicted on the body.

    • CDoart says:

      Thank you for this detailed image of a poleaxe, Mr. Pohl.
      That explains the special kind of a wound and the great damage it can do very vividly. It really must have been a hard fight and tragic battle for King Richard III at Bosworth.
      Thank you very much for the explanation of King Richard III’s wounds and possible causes for them!

  • fitzg says:

    Mr. Pohl, that is a most interesting comment – it offers context to the phrase “He was polaxed (by the developments).” I recall that account of the Welsh soldier. So much of what has been dug up in Leicester corresponds to contemporary and near-contemporary accounts. Ah well, we’ll see what the MtDNA might offer…


  • I am beyond excited, as everyone else!!! But, also saddened since this is ultimately a sad story, ad we know the ending, which we must now relive forever, and wish we could change. But we will do our part, to help clean up his place in history, and do whats is the best for our chosen, good friend, of long ago.

    • CDoart says:

      Thank you very much, Carol!
      King Richard III really deserves a re-evaluation of his story and a new depiction of it, looking at his life with a more balanced view than Shakespeare did. I am sure, Mr. Armitage can do a great job in bringing all aspects of King Richard III together into a human depiction we will certainly care about.
      I hope, the current events can push the decision makers into the right direction to do Mr. Armitage’s film.

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  • Brunhild Visigoth says:

    The poleaxe is a particularly nasty piece of gear. The famous Towton skull appears to have suffered from the “jab” effect referred to. Richard’s end was a desperately sad one, and the testimony of the York municipal record and his judicial acts all indicate a man of great humanity and love of justice. I sometimes wonder if Richard hadn’t lost all hope after the deaths of his son and Anne and didn’t care at Bosworth. My life mission is to teach my students that the Tudor propaganda is unjust, and if Richard Armitage’s film could come off it would go a long way towards this.

    • CDoart says:

      Thank you very much, Brunhild Visigoth!
      I agree, King Richard III so much would deserve a more balanced depiction, which would show his good deeds and quite ‘modern’ ideas he had, not only the bad rumours around him.
      I hope, the current events can give momentum to a film production by Mr. Armitage, as all his acting shows a thoughtful approach and deep interest in the characters he playes.

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November 1, 2019

Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth – By Mike Ingram (HeritageDaily)

October 8, 2019

Painted as a villain – how the Tudors regarded Richard III (by Christina J. Faraday, APOLLO.The International Art Magazine)

August 22, 2019

10 things you need to know about the battle of Bosworth (by Chris Skidmore, BBC History Extra)

June 16, 2019

Philippa Langley on RIII – Podcast: BBC Interview of 6th January, 2015 (

February 20, 2019

Richard III: Leicester Cathedral £11.3m plans approved (by BBC East Midlands, BBC News)

October 4, 2018

The battle for Bosworth field: Historians react to decision to build on battlefield where Richard III died (by Rachel Dinning, BBC History Extra)

May 23, 2018

Richard III find historian John Ashdown-Hill dies (BBC News)

April 9, 2018

The secret intimacies of Edward IV: multiple marriages and a same-sex affair? (by Dr. John Ashdown-Hill, History Extra)

October 24, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: “Sleepwalker” star Richard Armitage is Living the Dream (by Izumi Hasegawa, What’s Up Hollywood)

September 12, 2017

Was Richard III a loyal brother or murderous tyrant? 60 seconds with Chris Skidmore (by Rachel Dinning, History Extra)


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