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Did the ghost of Richard III alert seeker to his humiliating grave?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

He was a short-lived monarch, much maligned by history, and buried in an unmarked grave following his death in battle. Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England has been found, buried without so much as a shroud, at a friary near where he fell.

LONDON, ENGLAND, (Catholic Online) - Archaeologists had an idea of where the missing king was buried, but urban sprawl and development made searching for the king quite difficult. Despite the challenges, intrepid archaeologists managed to find the remains of Richard III buried under the pavement of a parking lot in London.

However, screenwriter Phillipa Langley, walking throught he parking lot that was most recently used for a social services facility said she felt a chill despite on a hot summer's day, much like "the same feeling I have had before when a truth was given to me."

Was it the ghost of Richard alerting her to his restless grave?

Ghost or no, her bizzare feeling led her to finance the initial exploration of what lay below the pavement. Just three feet down, the King's bones were discovered.

The discovery has solved a long mystery of what happened to the king's body. We now know with certainty that he was killed in battle, his corpse mutilated and bound, and buried in a shallow grave. His memory would come to us filtered through the reports of his Tudor adversaries and Shakespeare's works. History would remember Richard III as a bloodthirsty tyrant who murdered his nephews to become king.

Details from the grave revealed that Richard was killed by wounds likely sustained in the Battle of Bosworth, the final battle of the War of the Roses, which saw the rise of the Tudor Dynasty. Legend says he was killed in the battle, and analysis of his remains show he was struck in the dead with a pole-arm, likely a halberd.

Physically, Richard was known to be short, mostly because of a spinal curvature that left his left shoulder shorter than the right. He walked with a stoop. Still, he rode and fought with his men on that fateful day in 1485.

In what history remembers as the last great mounted charge of the medieval era, Richard led 1,500 knights to their doom in a small valley near Market Bosworth. The legend of the battle suggests that Richard was a courageous fighter who fought bravely to the death, refusing the leave the battle, even once defeat became evident. 

It is unclear which blow felled Richard, however, the young king was probably struck with both an arrow in the back and a halberd at the base of his skill. Either wound would have been fatal.

After his death, the victors proceeded to humiliate him further by stripping his body of clothing and thrusting a weapon of an unknown type into his backside, then binding the hands of his corpse like a criminal. Eventually he was thrown into a shallow grave and left to be forgotten.

However, Tudor chroniclers would not let Richard be forgot, as they blamed him for a litany of problems which beset the newfound Tudor dynasty.

In the humiliating grave, his body laid undisturbed for centuries until sometime in the 19th century an outhouse was dug at the feet of his grave. Indeed, the kings feet were likely lost in that excavation, the digger blissfully unaware of what he had found.

Later, the outhouse went away and eventually the ground where he lay eventually became a parking lot.

Archaeologists analyzed the skeleton in secret, seeking to confirm their find before making an announcement that Richard had been found. Researchers used a DNA sample, providing by a living descendant of Richard's matrilineal family line, and discovered an exact match. Everything fell into place, the body was that of King Richard.

Now that the find has been announced, it comes down to what shall be done with his remains. Some have called for a state funeral for the King. No matter what, historians will use the new information and public interest to rethink Richard III's reign and whether or not he was fairly portrayed by Shakespeare.

Chances are, our history of the unfortunate monarch will need to change at least somewhat, proving that history does in fact change as new evidence is discovered and new questions are asked.

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