Remains of a King

King Richard III

Have you heard?  The skeletal remains of King Richard III have been found underneath a parking lot in Leicester – (pronounced Lester) – England, about a hundred miles north of London.

According to Huffington Post, the final results of testing; which included DNA comparison to his nearest traceable relatives, and forensic analysis of the injuries to the bones matching the descriptions of those inflicted on Richard III during the Battle of Bosworth in which he lost his life; all matched that of the fallen king.

Shakespeare left us with a tale of Richard III that is anything but warm and fuzzy.  Called a deformed toad and a hunchback who left a bloody trail on his ascent to the throne during the years of the ‘War of the Roses’, King Richard III was apparently not beloved.  He may have even killed his own nephews – the ‘Princes in the Tower’.

But when you see his curved spine, you wonder how cheerful he could have been under what must have been a painful existence.  richard iii skeleton

Defeated by Henry Tudor in 1485, stripped naked, and subjected to humiliating wounds even after death, his body was buried by Franciscan Friars beneath their friary.  No tomb was provided him, nor a marker.  And perhaps he got what he deserved.  Certainly, if legend is fact, he did.

But we know that the survivors write history.  And in the fifteenth century, few would have risked the ire of the new king by daring to contradict his account of the fallen villain.  And Shakespeare wasn’t trying to write history books for the universities of England.  He was an entertainer.  His job was to make the tale even taller that it might otherwise have been.

Phillipa Langley, the person responsible for championing the cause of finding Richard III’s remains, appears to be a fan.  So maybe she’ll also uncover something endearing about the king.



  1. How I would love to hear or read all those stories between the lines on the pages of history books!

  2. You always have a way of giving us … “the rest of the story.” I had never noticed his curved spine before you pointed it out to us! Wow!!


  3. Yours is the first I’ve read that doesn’t imply the parking lot was there when he was buried. It would be good if someone could find, if not a better story at least a more complete one.

    1. Henry VIII, when he separated from the Church, commanded the disbanding of the religious orders and the friary was closed in mid 1500’s. From there I don’t know what all occupied the space between the friary and the parking lot, but it seems that Phillipa Langley made the connection. She’s a smart cookie!

    1. It totally amazed me to see the curve of his spine. I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I found it interesting and there are currently sites where his face is being reconstructed to show how he may have looked given the bone structure. I love technology.

  4. The only monarch I really knew much about was Henry VIII. The only reason I even mention him is because of the song “I’m Henery the 8th, I am” that was done by a group like the Monkeys in the 70’s maybe. He may have been a physical mess, but he was brave going into battle in his condition.

    1. Yes, Henry VIII has gotten the most attention, but that may change after seeing the physical condition of this king. I remember the song you’re talking about. It is a fun little tune!

    2. I’m showing my age–Herman’s Hermits did the song. 🙂 That was about what I knew of the royal monarchs, too.

  5. If you enjoyed reading about Richard III remains being found and if you are familiar with Shakespeare’s play, you must read Josephine Tey’s “Daughter of Time.” It is in effect a mystery concerning Richard III. There is also a society in England that is devoted to clearing the name of Richard III because he was a Plataganet and of course, Henry Tudor was not going to be favorable or laudatory (throughout time) about Richard III. According to this society, Richard III was slandered, he didn’t kill his nephews, it was a Tudor smear campaign. Considering how Henry VIII treated his wives, there may be some truth to this. Who knows. Anyway, Tey’s book is one of my favorite mysteries OF ALL TIME. I read it in my doctoral level class and loved it. It taught us that research and information must always be questioned…Cui Bono?

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I will check it out for sure. I’ve read a few things concerning the bodies found in the tower wall and it seems there is some question as to how many or how long they had been there. Another source talks about the nephews as adults long after he was supposed to have killed them. Maybe we have been misjudging Richard III all along.

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  7. Isn’t it a wild story? I just love the mystery of it all. As has been pointed out in many articles I’ve read, Shakespeare was a poet and an entertainer, not a historian. He was also writing his plays long after the fact (Richard III died in 1485, and Shakespeare’s play is thought to have been written over 100 years later (1592).) The Tudors had won, and nobody (by which I mean Queen Elizabeth) would have wanted to hear that their grandpapa had killed “Good King Richard III.”

    The truth will of course never be known and no doubt lies somewhere in between.

    Great post, Renee! Such an intriguing story.

  8. You know when they found the Titanic, there was much talk about preserving the sanctity of the site and respecting the resting place. Not so with the towns fighting over where to move the bones. Too bad. It would have been great to continue the mysterious question of where he lay. I’m glad you blogged about this.

    1. Thanks Barb. I think the masses may have thought he had been thrown in the river or left for the buzzards or some other hideous finality. To have found him in tact is just amazing. I thought it was worth a shout out. And so good to hear from you!

  9. Thanks for sharing this and updating our history lessons. That is quite some curvature in his spine.

  10. Isn’t this such a fascinating find, Renee? I wonder, though, how long it took to figure out it was him. Seems pretty immediate, a lot less time than it takes to figure out the results when someone dies today. When Whitney Houston died they said it would be weeks before we knew the results of the autopsy, and it was.

    1. I want to say that it took about a year to get all of the tests finalized and validated. And if I read the report correctly, they had to track down surviving family members and do their DNA swabs, one of which wanted to remain anonymous. One was a carpenter in Canada. I wonder if the anonymous person is currently in the royal family? That would be interesting, no?

  11. This indeed is a fascinating find and bound to lead to an upsurge in the curiosity levels regarding Richard III. I wonder though as to what led to discovering the remains under a parking lot? Was this known all this while?


    1. No, I think that Phillipa Langley discovered that the space had once been home to a friary. That combined with its central location to the place he was killed, the knowledge that the Grey Friars had taken his body for burial, and the imaging they did with today’s technology before digging began, all combined to show a person with severe curvature who had injuries similar to the ones the king was reported to have endured. Maybe she just got lucky, or maybe she is one smart cookie. But I am liking this woman for her steadfast determination to bring it to light. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  12. I met a woman this weekend who used to park in the parking lot. How many people can say, I’ve been on top of Richard III’s remains?

    1. LOL! I wonder what and who we have all been on top of without knowing it. And what did this woman think about it? Is she a fan of Richard III or more Tudor leaning? Just curious.

    1. It is truly amazing. Most had thought his remains were scattered or plunged into the river. To have them turn up after all these years seems like a miracle.

  13. “the survivors write history”
    I agree that as a survivor their tales are probably swayed if danger is still close by.
    The mysteries of histories gets stranger with every artifact that’s found.
    Very intriguing to ponder on.

    1. And who might have killed the princes if they were indeed slain? Some reports now indicate they may have survived while others point fingers at the Tudors wishing to remove any other claims to the throne. Very interesting indeed!

  14. Renee, sitting down to have my “nightcap” of coffee, your post was the perfect companion! I was fascinated to discover the details of this King’s demise. I had no idea! And to think of where he was found after his title of king! Oh dear. Methinks karma doth have a way! 🙂

  15. I expect this new find to explode a frenzy of new research into the history of this period. It will be interesting to find out what we may learn. Just to look upon those old bones from afar seems incredible to me.

  16. I’ve been keeping up w/ this VERY INTERESTING, amazing story about Richard III. I hope they have him displayed in England when I go in April. I def want to go back to the Tower of London. This is one of my favorite sites.

    Great Post. xxx

    1. What a great trip. I haven’t been to England, so I can’t wait to hear about your adventures. You’ll have to tell me all of the ‘must see’ and ‘what to avoid’ places. I hope you will get the opportunity to be near the remains of Richard III. They seem to be crying out for their time in history.

  17. Not very exciting to be found under a parking lot! poor King Richard III
    I heard the end of a documentary on NPR which if I understood it correctly found a man who is the last of Richard III descendants living in Canada.

  18. Sounds like a really crazy story. And what a find – under a parking lot! Richard III certainly didn’t have the most happier of life.

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