Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Meet Richard III ... the unknown Osmond

So it was him after all. Richard the Third. Buried beneath the Leicester car park all these years.

An ignominious last resting place for the last Plantagenet king. Although, on the plus side, he was at least spared the considerable charges of being parked above ground.

Richard has been identified by DNA match and comparison of his skeleton with literary description including that of William Shakespeare who is regarded as a bit of a Tudor propagandist.

Shakespeare portrayed the defeated Richard as a hunchback with a withered arm.

Pictures of the skeleton suggest he wasn’t all that far out.

Richard’s death was a gruesome one. They were gruesome times. His conquerors mutilated his corpse and put it on display before it was unceremoniously buried.

In their triumph they could never have imagined that all these hundreds of years later, their broken, beaten foe would rise again.

History is written by the victors, some say. In this case it’s been written by the scientists who with spectacular detective work, perseverance and not a little luck (in the 18th century someone nearly built a toilet block on top of him) exhumed a long lost king.

DNA from the skeleton was compared with the nearest descendants of the Plantagenet monarch to prove that this was indeed their great, great, many times great, grandfather. It’s a tremendous story putting, almost literally, a human face on the 15th century. And what a face. In particular, what an impressive set of teeth (above). Has anybody considered DNA comparisons with the Osmonds to check that Richard III wasn’t also their great granda?

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