Jo Appleby, a lecturer in Human Bioarchaeology, at University of Leicester, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, who led the exhumation of King Richard III's remains from a Leicester parking lot, speaks at the university, Feb. 4, 2013.
Britain's lost king has been found.
DNA tests have
proved "beyond a reasonable doubt" that a battle-scarred skeleton found
under a municipal parking lot in central England belongs to 15th-century
King Richard III, the last English monarch to die in combat, scientists
The University of Leicester, which led the
search, refused to speculate on what the announcement would be prior to
the much-anticipated news conference, but archaeologists, historians and
local tourism officials had all hoped for confirmation that the
monarch's long-lost remains had been located.
So too were
the king's fans in the Richard III Society, set up to re-evaluate the
reputation of a reviled monarch. Richard was immortalized in a play by
William Shakespeare as a hunchbacked usurper who left a trail of bodies -
including those of his two young nephews, murdered in the Tower of
London - on his way to the throne.
"It will be a whole
new era for Richard III," the society's Lynda Pidgeon said. "It's
certainly going to spark a lot more interest. Hopefully people will have
a more open mind toward Richard."
Richard III remains an enigma - villain to many, hero to some. He
ruled England between 1483 and 1485, during the decades-long tussle over
the throne known as the Wars of the Roses. His brief reign saw liberal
reforms, including introduction of the right to bail and the lifting of
restrictions on books and printing presses.
His rule was
challenged, and he was defeated and killed at the Battle of Bosworth
Field by the army of Henry Tudor, who took the throne as King Henry VII.
centuries, the location of Richard's body was unknown. Records say he
was buried by the Franciscan monks of Grey Friars at their church in
Leicester, 100 miles north of London. The church was closed and
dismantled after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538, and
its location eventually was forgotten.
September, archaeologists searching for Richard dug up the skeleton of
an adult male who appeared to have died in battle. There were signs of
trauma to the skull, perhaps from a bladed instrument, and a barbed
metal arrowhead was found between vertebrae of the upper back.
The remains also displayed signs of scoliosis, which is a form of
spinal curvature, consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard's
appearance, though not with Shakespeare's description of him as a
"deform'd, unfinished," hunchback.
Ahead of Monday's
revelation of the results, the University of Leicester released an image
of the body's skull. Archaeologist Jo Appleby said it was found "in
good condition, although fragile," and had yielded detailed information
about the individual.
As CBS News correspondent Mark
Phillips reports, the circumstantial evidence was pretty convincing. But
to prove it was him, researchers had to track down descendants of
Richard's family, like Michael Ibsen; his nephew, sixteen generations
later, and compare DNA.
Researchers began conducting
scientific tests as soon as the bones were discovered, including
radiocarbon dating to determine the skeleton's age.
said she hopes a new flurry of interest will help redress the "Tudor
propaganda" that has stained Richard's reputation for centuries. The
best-known accounts of his reign were written long after his death,
during the rule of his archenemies, the Tudors.
To this day, the Tudors remain more famous and more glamorous - especially Henry VII's son, the much-married Henry VIII.
Henry VIII you've got six wives, sex and things going on," Pidgeon
acknowledged. "It's a bit hard to compete with that when you are a bit
more straight-laced, as Richard was."