Will Genealogy Solve the Mystery of Richard III?
This week a team of archeologists from the University of Leicester discovered what may be the remains of Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet kings.
Trails of clues gleaned from medieval documents lead them to a car park in Leicester once thought to be the choir area of Grey Friars Church: where the English king was purportedly buried. Here the archeologists unearthed the remains of a man in what appears to be a high status burial.
The team will attempt to positively identify the remains using a combination of documented evidence describing Richard III, genealogy and DNA testing.
Why do they believe this could be Richard III?
The skeletal remains appear to be in line with contemporary descriptions of both Richard’s physical characteristics and accounts of injuries at his death in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
University of Leicester director of corporate affairs, Richard Taylor stated that the remains show signs of the spinal deformity Scoliosis. This is consistent with a physical description of the king from Sir Thomas More’s “History of King Richard the Third” which reads:
little of stature, ill fetured of limmes, croke backed, his left shoulder much higher then his right,
Additionally, historical accounts of Richard’s injuries at death from manuscripts and chronicles provide at least circumstantial evidence that the body may indeed be that of the king.
Genealogy to the Rescue
Without the help of genealogy and the technology of DNA testing this discovery would likely remain in the realm of speculation for generations to come. However, the Richard III Society claims an ancestor has been identified.
Micheal Isben of London, the apparent 17th great grand nephew of the infamous king has consented to provide a sample of DNA. Ibsen’s relationship to Richard III is through his mother, a descendant of the kings sister Anne. To solve the mystery, geneticists from the Leicester University will attempt to extract a sample of mitochondrial DNA From the skeletal remains and compare them to Isben’s mtDNA.
Of course, this is all dependent upon how reliable the genealogical records are for Isben’s Family Tree.