“Henry VII was just a mean man. He dated his reign the day before Bosworth. It rendered everyone fighting for Richard as traitors, and that’s treason.”
The king’s remains reveal two fatal skull injuries, a slender frame and severe scoliosis.
His mitochondrial DNA matched two matrilineal descendants of his eldest sister, Anne of York. There is no evidence of the hunchback and withered arm penned by William Shakespeare in the play that paints the king as a villain.
“None of the contemporary descriptions we have of Richard ever mention any deformities,” Smith said. “He had his father’s coloring (gray eyes and brown hair), and he was good looking.”
The Richard III Society recently unveiled a facial reconstruction based on the king’s skull.
“A portrait was done a little after Richard’s death. This one, in particular, was being restored recently. They were examining it and could see lines where someone painted a hunchback on Richard, probably from later in the Tudor period. The discovery of the skeleton shows the physical king.”
MYSTERY OF PRINCES
Thomas More’s “The History of King Richard III” and Shakespeare’s subsequent “The Tragedy of King Richard III,” both written long after the monarch’s death, finger Richard for ruthlessly murdering his nephews, though others had equal motive.
King Edward V, 12, and Duke of York Richard of Shrewsbury were the sons of King Edward IV, Richard’s brother; they mysteriously disappeared in the Tower of London, where they were living in the Royal Apartments.
Edward IV had named Richard as Lord Protector during the minority his nephew; when the boy was declared illegitimate, his uncle Richard was proclaimed the true king.
The mystery of the Princes in the Tower will not be solved by this archaeological discovery.
“What’s important is interest in Richard III is now very high and a lot of people will go back and rediscover him,” Smith said. “He was not the monster that the Tudors make him out to be. That’s huge for Richard’s reputation. For the princes, it will rekindle interest.”