Much maligned King Richard III, who died more than 500 years ago, is to be laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral close to the place where he met his end during the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Despite his reputation as a ruthless, disfigured child killer, he was not, apparently, the hunchbacked maniac of Shakespeare’s imagination and has finally been recognised as a victim of Tudor propaganda.
For those of you who have not followed the events leading up to the week to commemorate this monarch, Richard’s grave site had been lost to history for centuries until archaeologists discovered his skeleton in the remains of an old monastery called beneath a public car park in Leicester. He was the last English king to die in battle and an examination of his skeleton shows that he suffered eight wounds to his head, among them a brutal slash to the base of skull which cleaved away a large portion of bone. Another piercing blow, possibly from a sword, had been driven 10.5cm (4ins) through his skull. A violent and bloody demise.
There will be no funeral but there was probably some kind of perfunctory ceremony to send him on his way at the time (he was a Catholic). Obviously, anyone who ever knew him is long dead and Richard III left no direct descendants. However, there are, numerous members Richard III’s immediate family alive today, scattered all over the world. Since Richard III lived so long ago, none of these are close relatives and there are far too many (running into millions) to trace and consult all of them.
Leicester University started the fascinating project to uncover the grave in August 2012.
Now his mortal remains is to be taken to the Cathedral in a lead lined coffin for public viewing from Monday. On March 26 the coffin will be lowered into a specially built tomb.
The discovery has sparked great interest by scientists and historians and have debunked William Shakespeare’s claim that he had a withered arm.