Richard III, the controversial 15th century English monarch, was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. The story goes that the body was taken to nearby Leicester, about 100 miles north of London, after his death. Until recently, no one had tried to dig up his remains. In September, archaeologists at the University of Leicester began to dig under a city council parking lot and within a week had found a skeleton and a medieval friary, raising hopes that Richard's remains had been found. DNA tests suggest that bones found under a parking lot in Leicester, England, are those of King Richard III, who ruled from 1483 to 1485 before being killed at the Battle of Bosworth. Dow Jones's Jenny Gross looks at the debate over where he should be buried.
The skeleton also has a curved spine, just as Richard was reported to have. Radiocarbon dating revealed the individual had a high-protein diet, including significant amounts of seafood, a sign he was of high status, the university said.
Leicester officials said they hope the prospect of a proper burial site would be a boost to tourism, creating a focal point for a king who ruled England for just two years, but whose story has long captivated enthusiasts.
Richard became king in 1483, taking power from his nephew, the 12-year-old Edward V. Richard said Edward was an illegitimate heir as the product of his father's second marriage. Richard was said to have imprisoned his two nephews in the Tower of London. Within months of Richard's taking the throne, the two nephews disappeared, and some assumed Richard had them murdered.
Some historians say Richard was an evil, power-hungry ruler who murdered family members to quicken his rise to the throne. William Shakespeare's "Richard III" helped to popularize this depiction, describing Richard as a crippled villain who killed anyone in his path to the throne.
Others say this description is fictional, and one spread by Henry Tudor, Richard's successor, whose army killed Richard in battle. Shakespeare was born about 80 years after Richard died and wrote during the Tudor dynasty. Pro-Richard enthusiasts say a closer look at Richard's reign shows he was one of the most progressive rulers of his time and one who promoted foreign trade and books.
His death at the Battle of Bosworth Field, outside of Leicester, marked a pivotal moment in English history and in the struggle for power between the House of York and the House of Lancaster, known as the "The Wars of the Roses." Richard was the last of the Plantagenet kings to rule and his defeat by Henry VII began the start of the Tudor dynasty, which lasted for more than a century.
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