The Return of Richard III
Five hundred and twenty-nine years after his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485 Richard III still inspires strong feelings about his life and career. He was characterized by William Shakespeare in his play Richard III as a misogynous hunch-back who had his two nephews killed in the Tower of London.
Now, with the discovery of his grave in a Leicester parking lot 2012, researchers at the University of Leicester plan to sequence the full genome of Richard III. Dr. Turi King, a geneticist at the University of Leicester who will lead the project, said in a statement:
It is an extremely rare occurrence that archaeologists are involved in the excavation of a known individual, let alone a king of England. At the same time, we are in the midst of a new age of genetic research, with the ability to sequence entire genomes from ancient individuals and with them, those of pathogens that may have caused infectious disease. Sequencing the genome of Richard III is a hugely important project that will help to teach us not only about him, but ferment discussion about how our DNA informs our sense of identity, our past and our future.
Apparently, the British Royal Family is concerned about the DNA testing. We need to remember that these royals are descendants of the usurper Henry Tudor who overthrew the rightfully-crowned King of England with the aid of England’s ancient enemy, the French.
The search for the grave of Richard III has been as contentious as the last years of his life. When his brother Edward IV died in April 1483, Richard was named Lord Protector of the realm for Edward’s son and successor, the 12-year-old King Edward V. As the young king traveled to London from Ludlow, Richard met and escorted him to lodgings in the Tower of London where Edward V’s brother Richard joined him shortly afterwards.
Arrangements were made for Edward’s coronation on 22 June 1483, but before the young king could be crowned, his father’s marriage to his mother Elizabeth Woodville was declared invalid, making their children illegitimate and ineligible for the throne. On 25 June, an assembly of lords and commoners endorsed the claims. The following day, Richard III began his reign, and he was crowned on 6 July 1483.
The young princes were not seen in public after August, and a number of accusations circulated that the boys had been murdered on Richard’s orders, giving rise to the legend of the Princes in the Tower.
The plain truth is that England needed an adult ruler. The country was still in the throes of the War of the Roses. In fact, Richard’s own cousin and former ally, Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, attempted to overthrow Richard in October 1783. His revolt was crushed and Stafford was executed. Henry Tudor’s revolt took place some two years later and led to Richard’s death in battle at age 32. He was the last English king to die in battle.
Now, over half a millennium later the ghost of Richard Plantagenet is haunting the dynasty that his enemy started. What are they afraid of? Do they think that the DNA experts will create a Richard clone?
The Looking for Richard team, who sparked the search, talked with Buckingham Palace before the University of Leicester got involved and agreed that images of any remains found shouldn’t be broadcast and that the remains should be treated with respect, John Ashdown-Hill, an independent historian involved with the search for the bones, said.
The university now claims the right to continue the scientific investigation, and has already taken additional bone samples. Even if the courts judge rules the university doesn’t have legal custody of the body, they may still continue the DNA analysis, Ashdown-Hill said.
Imagine the resurrection of one of the most controversial kings of England?