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I am determined to prove a villain
February 4, 2013 1:06 AM   Subscribe

Today is the unveiling day of the results of ID tests that may reveal that a skeleton found under a car park in Leicester is that of the last King of England to be killed in battle, Richard III.

This image of a skull heavily damaged by a sword was released today.

If the speculation is true debate is building about whether his body should have a state burial in London or in York as the last king from the north

David Mitchell believes we could make better use of it
posted by brilliantmistake (109 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
The skeleton, with what appears to be a fearsome battle wound in the skull and a contorted spine, will be shown to the media for the first time, though the university insists it will be done "with dignity and respect".

They're not going to remake Weekend At Bernie's with him?

Direct link to the David Mitchell bit, albeit with an embedded commercial.
posted by XMLicious at 1:22 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


They should donate his skull to the RSC. Just imagine: Hamlet starring Richard III.
posted by run"monty at 1:29 AM on February 4, 2013 [113 favorites]


(Our previous discussion from when the bones were first uncovered is here.)
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:32 AM on February 4, 2013


I've got a hunch it's Richard's.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:47 AM on February 4, 2013 [28 favorites]


I've got a hunch it's Richard's.

I, in this weak piping time of peace, have no delight to pass away the time, unless to spy my shadow in the pun.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:54 AM on February 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


"They should donate his skull to the RSC. Just imagine: Hamlet starring Richard III."

Well they certainly shouldn't make him king again.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:01 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The DNA tests are based on samples from a possible 17th generation descendant of Richard's sister.

I would have thought there would be more verifiable Plantagenet DNA, but reproductive fitness was not one of their hallmarks I suppose.
posted by three blind mice at 2:01 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Live blog of the announcement up here
posted by brilliantmistake at 2:07 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


From that blog: Maev Kennedy has just been speaking to Phil Stone, the chair of the Richard III Society, which funded the search for his remains. Stone calls this "a very exciting day". The thrill of the chase has more than doubled membership to 3,000, he says. They have nothing to do with the Tudors, "but we do meet the Stuarts every now and then, at Fotheringay and such".

You can watch the conference live here.
posted by maudlin at 2:14 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, that is one serious S-curve in the spine. Would have been 5'8" if no scoliosis, quite tall for that era, but he would have looked substantially shorter. Arms look matched -- no withered arm. Correct age range. Delicate build.

Trauma: have identified 10 wounds, 8 on the skull, all with characteristics consistent with occurring at or just after death. Not caused after burial or by excavation. Huge hole in back/bottom of skull, a slicing wound, possibly caused by halberd. A quick death was likely. various other wounds that would likely not have been fatal.

Most likely that there was no helmet in place and must have been lost before death. Most likely was mistreated after the battle, including a spear wound through the right butt-cheek, most likely after the body was thrown onto a saddle and paraded around in triumph.

"A highly convincing case for this being the body of Richard III."
posted by maudlin at 2:24 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


The osteologist did a nice job of keeping it together while saying that, basically, he got stabbed in the ass.
posted by cosmologinaut at 2:26 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hmm. Interesting that the body seems to match the historical description in just about every way except for the withered arm. Would that have been just some muscle atrophy rather than damage to the skeleton, or was that a flourish added on in one or more historical sources?

The skeleton's spinal curvature is quite low -- some thoracic and lumbar involvement -- and is an S curve instead of the upper body hump / kyphosis commonly ascribed to Richard.

Back to the webcast: DNA from Ibsen (the British-Canadian descendent) matches up with DNA from the skeleton.

Overall verdict from Buckley, lead archaeologist: "It is the academic conclusion beyond reasonable doubt that the skeleton exhumed from Greyfriarrs is Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England."

Now the final speaker (the university's deputy registrar) sounds positively giddy, voice shaking.
posted by maudlin at 2:41 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Have they booked Geraldo Rivera for this?
posted by HuronBob at 2:44 AM on February 4, 2013


Confirmation: it is Richard III.
posted by fight or flight at 2:46 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


And it is decided that he will be interred at Leicester Cathedral. Many people had been arguing for York Minster, and some for Westminster Abbey.

I got a bit choked up when they said they could confirm "beyond reasonable doubt the individual exhumed at Grey Friars on September 12th is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England."

I can't wait to watch this documentary.
posted by missmerrymack at 2:54 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The King in the North!
posted by Rock Steady at 2:56 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry for double posting. Keep an eye on the University of Leicester's The Search for Richard III site. They will be updating it with videos and more detail.

The Guardian's live blog is another place to read the details of this morning's press conference.
posted by missmerrymack at 3:08 AM on February 4, 2013


How well could he have walked with a spine like that? Would he have been bent over, or to the side, or what? Would he have had normal movement in his arms and neck?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:24 AM on February 4, 2013


Around this time last year, Medieval Maven and I were on a multi-city tour of the UK.

One of these stops included a (very, very cold) walking tour of Leicester, which proved to be very Richard III heavy. Our first clue was a statue of a very upright and not the least bit hunched Richard, at which point the tour guide informed us that Richard was in fact and very good looking king, and even an accomplished dancer.

After several blocks and lots more history, the tour brought us to a parking lot thought to contain the King's final resting place. The tour guide expressed doubt that the remains would ever be found.
posted by grabbingsand at 3:27 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dickie Three is wasting no time...
posted by Philofacts at 3:38 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


From Twitter:
The daily rate for a Leicester NCP car park is £18.50. #RichardIII has been there 192,649 days. He owes £3,564,006.50 in parking fees.
posted by humph at 3:49 AM on February 4, 2013 [44 favorites]


They really should preserve the site in toto; quite apart from these royal associations it must be one of the few pre-Tudor car parks in England.
posted by Abiezer at 3:50 AM on February 4, 2013 [42 favorites]


Leicester City Council issues 192,649 parking infringement notices to Richard III

"People who occupy valuable spaces in car parks without paying their way cause congestion, annoyances and, indeed, winters of discontent for other road users," said Peter Soulsby, Leicester's Mayor. "The Council is committed to prosecuting serial infringements and to that end we will be digging up Henry VII to pursue this claim".

When asked whether disinterring dead Kings and reanimating their rotting corpses with voodoo magic could cause a zombie apocalypse, Mayor Soulsby said "No. Well ... maybe. Actually, yes. Shit."

Some say that a zombie apocalypse in Leicester could be particularly dangerous as it would be extremely difficult to tell which residents were zombies and which were simply people who live in Leicester. Others point out that such tired, formulaic "jokes" mocking regional Britian are themselves evidence of the mindlessness of zombification, and those smarmy London zombies in who work in media and think they're all amazingly sophisticated can go fuck themselves.

Whatever the truth, British people can feel safe knowing that the Royal Family today are not zombies at all, but rather a collection of bloodsucking vampires who defile and feed on the innocent to maintain their undead existence. Also Boris Johnson is an albino werewolf. This comment was bitten by China Mieville, whose modern British fantasy toxins have infected it with even more stupidity than usual. May God have mercy on our souls.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:04 AM on February 4, 2013 [66 favorites]


"Leicester car park, I am in you."
posted by Wordshore at 4:47 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why would he give his kingdom for a horse, and then spend this time under a car park?
posted by Skeptic at 5:00 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm (pleasantly) surprised with the way this has turned out. When the story first began to surface I thought it would probably turn out to be the standard case of media hyperbole.

By the way, anyone vaguely interested in Richard III should read Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time, which is both an excellent detective novel in its on right, and a book that brought the question of whether Richard III had been somewhat wronged by history back into the light of day. Similarly if you're ever in York, the Richard III museum is well worth a look (and is small, so is otherwise often overlooked).
posted by garius at 5:16 AM on February 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


Now to start a petition to have the whole bloody lot of them buried under a car park in Leicester.
posted by unSane at 5:27 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh, wow! I've just started reading through the Guardian liveblog, and now I'm sure I'll be wasting my entire morning reading through all the thinks.

This fascinates me especially because I took a history of York and Yorkshire class back when I was living in the area, and my history professor was a member of the Richard III Society, and we spent at least one full class just on Richard III and the conspiracies that surrounded him. So I know more about Richard III than I ever dreamed I wanted to, and now I'm off to learn even more...
posted by paisley sheep at 5:57 AM on February 4, 2013


"X never marks the spot..." No, Dr. Jones, two parallel lines did.

I love it when people searching for history find it.
posted by Atreides at 6:04 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I, for one, am glad they got him in time before the reanimated bones of Richard III, mutated and enlarged due to reasons, would rise from the parking lot to wreak havoc on the world again, requiring the Fantastic Four to intervene.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:07 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why would he give his kingdom for a horse, and then spend this time under a car park?

Sometimes you are in a hurry and would give your kingdom for a f*cking parking space, you know?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:09 AM on February 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wow. Just wow. What an amazing world we live in, that discoveries like this can be made.
posted by alms at 6:14 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


How well could he have walked with a spine like that? Would he have been bent over, or to the side, or what? Would he have had normal movement in his arms and neck?

There is a guy who jogs the lakeshore path in Chicago who has pretty bad scoliosis.
posted by srboisvert at 6:14 AM on February 4, 2013


Kate Beaton's take on what should happen next.
posted by fight or flight at 6:14 AM on February 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


Wow. Just wow. What an amazing world we live in, that discoveries like this can be made.

I was thinking the exact same thing. This link, that the OP provided, led to this, which described the events that led to them to suspecting the car-park in the first place..

Absolutely brilliant!
posted by bitteroldman at 6:22 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Brian Blessed brought this news in my FB feed this morning. BRIAN BLESSED brings us NEWS OF THE KING!
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:23 AM on February 4, 2013 [31 favorites]


How well could he have walked with a spine like that? Would he have been bent over, or to the side, or what?

We do a lot of scoliosis surgery here, and although I am not an expert on scoliosis I have seen a number of these patients and their x rays. This article takes a rather breathless tone and makes a fairly common condition seem like a freak occurrence, but look at the x ray of the girl's spine and contrast it with Richard's skeleton. Also note that the girl appears normal in the photo accompanying the story (although you can't really tell her posture in that picture). Finally, the girl is still growing, meaning her scoliosis is likely to get worse, while Richard's probably stopped getting worse (or progressed much more slowly) once he reached adulthood. Note also that the bones of Richard's spine are not connected and could have been laid out in such a manner as to exaggerate his scoliosis.

So, to answer your question, he probably had one shoulder and/or one hip higher than the other but little limitation to his physical activity and little impact on his cadiovascular and pulmonary function (which can be a real problem in severe thoracic scoliosis). His condition would have been obvious if you looked at him in his underwear, standing upright or bending forward, but fully dressed and going about the business of being king his scoliosis would likely not have been to obvious to most casual observers.

More on idiopathic scoliosis (which I assume he was most likely to have had, since the other type, neuromuscular scoliosis, occurs with severe neurological disease that would have been untreatable in the 15th century) along with x rays and an explanation of how the degree of curvature is most commonly measured can be found here.
posted by TedW at 6:42 AM on February 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


Press conference science always has a certain hype potential until it actually shows up in a peer-reviewed journal, but it seems like a pretty convincing case. A skeleton of the right age, with a notable spinal deformity, in RIII's attested burial place, with battle wounds, and matching maternal DNA.

What I'm curious about is... in the UK, who owns the bones in this kind of situation? The land owner? The people who dug it up? The government? Does it make a difference if it's historic vs prehistoric? Or if it's an identifiable person -- do distant relatives get a say?
posted by tavella at 6:43 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


brilliantmistake: "the last king from the north"

He was no John Uskglass.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:51 AM on February 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


This is wonderful, exciting news! I'm so glad the skeleton turned out to be his and now I am waiting for the documentary of the whole discovery beginning with the initial idea. What a lovely country you live in, so jammed with history that every car park covers a king! slight exaggeration.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:53 AM on February 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


TedW: Note also that the bones of Richard's spine are not connected and could have been laid out in such a manner as to exaggerate his scoliosis.

There are pictures of the skeleton still in the earth matrix, such as at the top of the page here, and the curve is if anything more pronounced.
posted by tavella at 6:54 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


As an American, I have to say that laying kings to rest under council car parks seems to be a good precedent, befitting their station in life. They ought to put him back, now that the mystery is solved.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:58 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well, they found him quicker than we're gonna find Hoffa, who is also, probably, under a parking lot.
posted by HuronBob at 7:01 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


2525 AD*: George W. Bush's mummified remains are found under a spaceporno shop somewhere outside of New Dallas in the disputed Perry Settlement of Gleepglorp, Space Republic of Lasertexas.

*that is, in the year 2525 - if man is still alive!!!
posted by item at 7:12 AM on February 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


Stabbed in the bum? I thought it was his head...

I like not this news! Bring me some other news!
posted by smirkette at 7:13 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The fate of the original Frank Underwood/Francis Urquhart, folks!
posted by Bwithh at 7:26 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This link, that the OP provided, led to this, which described the events that led to them to suspecting the car-park in the first place.

The second linked article contains the quote:
"Looking at Speede's map, he had misidentified Greyfriars, which was actually the separate Blackfriars. He was looking in the wrong place."
No matter how many times I read it, I can only hear that second sentence in Sallah's voice.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:31 AM on February 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


"I'm not dead yet"

"yes you are"

"no I'm not"
posted by stormpooper at 7:33 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Roll out the bones and raise up your pitchers..." Technically, I think that song was about Richard I, but it sounds good anyway.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:39 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Am enjoying all the complains about Leicester hyping this too much and it not being real history. Because, right, if your institution dug up a body that could be argued to be Richard III, you wouldn't hype it at all...
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:04 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Zaphod] What are you doing in the car park?

[Marvin] Parking cars. What else does one do in a car park?
posted by entropicamericana at 8:05 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


IANAD, but I did find this review of cases of treated and untreated scoliosis from the twentieth century:
Pulmonary symptoms such as shortness of breath, not leading to premature death, may be associated with idiopathic scoliosis. These curves are usually larger, greater than 80° Cobb or with increased rotation, and usually single thoracic curves. Large double curves may also be associated with shortness of breath [24]. ...

At an average of 40.5 years after skeletal maturity 68% of the 133 curves in 102 patients in the Iowa series progressed [23]. Curves initially 30°or less tended not to progress whereas curves more than 30° usually progressed. ...

Compared to controls untreated adolescent idiopathic scoliosis does not result in an increased mortality rate. However, it may on rare occasion progress to the point of causing death by cor pulmonale. The rate of dyspnea is slightly increased and is associated with thoracic curves of greater than 80°. Most patients with untreated adolescent idiopathic scoliosis function at or near normal levels, even though pain is more prevalent. Self image is often slightly diminished. Mental health is usually normal.
So 32 year old Richard was capable of riding a horse and wielding a weapon even with the large curve displayed in his skeleton at the time of his death. He may have had more backaches than the average person, but he was probably otherwise pretty functional. But given that he had a severe curve, it could have progressed enough to seriously limit his day to day activities as he got older (if the bloody Tudors had given him that option, of course). Coming from a family with a lot of scoliosis, I know that a family member who delayed surgery for decades certainly had a lot of pain and breathing issues, even after surgery (which could only do so much), while those who got corrective surgery in their teens have had normal, active lives.
posted by maudlin at 8:08 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Instantly thought of the epigraph to Luc Sante's 'Low Life' by Blake:

Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead
posted by lowest east side at 8:10 AM on February 4, 2013


The shorthand "DNA confirms it is Richard III" going around on Twitter does seem to be off, though. If they had any DNA from his contemporary relatives, they might be able to do that, but as far as I know mitochondrial DNA just gives you a general grouping because it changes so slowly. It's more of a supplementary bit of evidence than proof itself the way that true DNA matching would. The strongest evidence is that there is contemporary documentation that he was buried at Greyfriars, there probably weren't that many people buried under the floor during any given period, he's got the spinal problem, and he's got wounds that match accounts of his death, plus the sort of overkill you would expect applied to an overthrown monarch. Any one of those, not strong evidence, but in combination you wouldn't really expect there to be two invidividuals.
posted by tavella at 8:21 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just... wow.

Too bad Josephine Tey didn't live to see this...
posted by steambadger at 8:30 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Instantly thought of the epigraph to Luc Sante's 'Low Life' by Blake:

Drive your cart and your plow
park over the bones of the dead
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:37 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's something incredibly poignant about a single skeleton in a forgotten grave. They look so alone, in a way that nothing else does, almost child-like in some sense. Not that Richard III wasn't remembered, but I'm glad someone found his bones and will put him in a place full of other bones. Bone-friends.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:57 AM on February 4, 2013 [24 favorites]


"In a world exclusive, Channel 4 has the full inside story of the hunt for Richard III." Tonight at 9 pm.
posted by ericb at 8:59 AM on February 4, 2013


Actually, the curve in his spine came about from 500 years of searching for his car keys.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:05 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


All that modern DNA science and all they really needed to do was show the bones to some dogs.
posted by sonascope at 9:07 AM on February 4, 2013


No Comment
posted by pupdog at 9:11 AM on February 4, 2013


The DNA tests are based on samples from a possible 17th generation descendant of Richard's sister.

I would have thought there would be more verifiable Plantagenet DNA, but reproductive fitness was not one of their hallmarks I suppose.


Well, while there are some male-line Plantagenets alive today, testing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA, which one inherits completely from one's mother) was probably the best way to go, for -- as the old saying goes -- it's a wise man who knows his own father.

mtDNA testing was also used to disprove the claim of Anna Anderson to being Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia: Anderson's mitochondrial DNA was extracted from the sample and compared with that of the Romanovs and their relatives. It did not match that of the Duke of Edinburgh [Prince Philip, whose maternal grandmother was the sister of Anastasia's mother] or that of the bones, confirming that Anderson was not Anastasia. However, the sample matched DNA provided by Karl Maucher, a grandson of Franziska Schanzkowska's sister, Gertrude (Schanzkowska) Ellerik, indicating that Karl Maucher and Anna Anderson were maternally related and that Anderson was Schanzkowska.
posted by dhens at 9:25 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's a wise man who knows his own father.

Or, as the old Romans put it: "Mater certissima, pater semper incertus est".
posted by Skeptic at 9:40 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's also worth pointing out that, if anyone was sufficiently motivated, Richard's mother and grandmother (and no doubt further back) were both buried in well marked and documented tombs. I don't know if entombment is much less preservative than burial in earth, but there are probably available sources of mitocondrial DNA out there that would give a pretty definitive comparison. Cecily Neville had quite a few male children, but they either didn't live to adulthood and so wouldn't match this skeleton, or are otherwise accounted by having their burial places known.

But the combined evidence for this body being Richard's is pretty convincing, and there's no need to go digging up anyone else.
posted by figurant at 9:41 AM on February 4, 2013


This is thrillingly cool. What an amazing thing for the scholars involved.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:50 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


What an amazing discovery and general research project. I also can't wait to see a documentary about the whole thing.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:03 AM on February 4, 2013


Is Jimmy Hoffa down there too?
posted by kirkaracha at 10:08 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


That Channel 4 documentary (linked by ericb above) is titled "The King in the Car Park", which, God help me, reminded me of this. (I am never, ever going to let the world forget Jian Ghomeshi in Mom jeans.)
posted by maudlin at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2013


It's also worth pointing out that, if anyone was sufficiently motivated, Richard's mother and grandmother (and no doubt further back) were both buried in well marked and documented tombs. I don't know if entombment is much less preservative than burial in earth, but there are probably available sources of mitocondrial DNA out there that would give a pretty definitive comparison. Cecily Neville had quite a few male children, but they either didn't live to adulthood and so wouldn't match this skeleton, or are otherwise accounted by having their burial places known.
This is a good point. Richard was descended in the mother line from Katherine Roet. Although we don't know who Katherine's mother was, both she and her sister Philippa are well-known, and their only other sister was a nun. If their mother was from France, then it means there is a limited and known number of people in England who would bear a good match for their mtDNA at the time of this burial. Given that a good number of them are accounted for, it stretches belief that this isn't Richard, even without the other evidence.
posted by Jehan at 10:15 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I enjoy most about this story is that American TV new anchors are reporting that Leicester is London. No doubt misdirection to fool Hitler.
posted by srboisvert at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


They buried him under a parking lot? For crying out loud.
posted by Xoebe at 10:23 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


To be fair, the light was better there.
posted by sapere aude at 10:37 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm disappointed that they're burying him in Leicester instead of Yorkshire, but this may actually get me to save up for a trip back to the UK to see his tomb once he's buried.

"The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones"
posted by immlass at 10:39 AM on February 4, 2013


Is Jimmy Hoffa down there too?

Well, he'll probably be found under a parking lot too.
posted by drezdn at 10:43 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


he'll probably be found under a parking lot too.

I suspect that this would be a very good probabilistic bet. Parking lots probably only come in second to roads in terms of total space taken up in America and probably come in first in cities and their surrounding areas.
posted by srboisvert at 11:17 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, there's also fields.
posted by unSane at 12:22 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm dying for the Guardian to put this guy up in their SoulMates section.
posted by newdaddy at 12:37 PM on February 4, 2013


I have to wonder about how this discovery, and in particular the actual, physical facts of Richard's remains, will inform future performances Shakespeare's play. Perhaps, in future, actors playing the role will dial-back their overacting.
posted by SPrintF at 12:47 PM on February 4, 2013


Perhaps, in future, actors playing the role will dial-back their overacting.

The Guardian has interviewed several RSC actors who played the role (and the current artistic director of the Globe). On balance, probably not. Richard III hasn't been thought of as anything other than fiction for a few centuries, and watering down one of the stage's greatest villains with mere facts probably isn't going to start now. Maybe the takes on his deformities will be a little subtler.
posted by figurant at 1:08 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


*ignorant American* Is this going to affect local football rivalries at all?
posted by Melismata at 1:13 PM on February 4, 2013


This is such amazing news to me. After all this time to find him gives me goosebumps. The history of our species is so very short, after all. Richard III is my very favorite Shakespeare character - time to rewatch the play!

Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry,
But 'twas thy beauty that provoked me.
Nay, now dispatch; 'twas I that stabb'd young Edward,
But 'twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
Here she lets fall the sword
Take up the sword again, or take up me.

posted by winna at 1:27 PM on February 4, 2013


"Richard the third found in Leicester car park. Man walking his dog picks it up with a plastic bag turned inside-out". Probably only Brits will get this...
posted by HarrysDad at 1:57 PM on February 4, 2013


Richard III is my partner's first cousin... many, many times removed.
posted by andraste at 2:05 PM on February 4, 2013


Really Baldrick?
posted by humph at 2:23 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought Shakespeare's plays were renowned for playing fast and loose with history ?

Take "Henry IV, part one" for instance, Hotspur was in fact two years older than King Henry IV, but in the play he is portrayed as a young man.
posted by Pendragon at 3:11 PM on February 4, 2013


I wanted to hear more about the relative they found to do the DNA comparison against. I think she should try to reclaim the throne.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:17 PM on February 4, 2013


Now that he's out and about, I'm surprising he's not on Twitter.
posted by orrnyereg at 3:22 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought Shakespeare's plays were renowned for playing fast and loose with history?

Surely everyone knew that? Shakespeare's character is a great villain, but propaganda is still propaganda.

I think she should try to reclaim the throne.

A far stronger claim is that of the Jacobite heir to the throne, Franz, Duke of Bavaria. The history of pretenders is incredibly neat, but every time I've tried to make a post I've not found enough solid links online. Down with the heirs to Elector George! Long live the King across the Water!
posted by winna at 3:33 PM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


He is indeed on Twitter.
posted by sonika at 3:35 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


in the UK, who owns the bones in this kind of situation?

Under common law, nobody owned a corpse or indeed human remains of any kind. This was carried through to current statutory law. That being said, people may be entitled to possession of human remains - and they frequently are: relatives with a duty to bury a deceased person are entitled to those remains; in their absence that right falls to whoever else has that duty, such as the hospital in which they died. Universities and other research facilities may be entitled to hold human remains or tissue samples for study, and anyone trying to take them will find that they can be sued. In the case of His Late Majesty's remains, I suppose that the discoverers are entitled to possession for purposes of study and, if for no other reason, because they intend to rebury them.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:04 PM on February 4, 2013


Anyone ever read The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman? A nice bit of historical fiction for anyone interested in a sympathetic view of Richard III.
posted by linux at 4:29 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


That Channel 4 documentary (linked by ericb above) is titled "The King in the Car Park", which, God help me, reminded me of this . (I am never, ever going to let the world forget Jian Ghomeshi in Mom jeans.)

They're not mom jeans--they're 90s jeans. You can however, make fun of his ridic hair.
posted by Sassenach at 5:16 PM on February 4, 2013


I mean, Richard was on the losing side of the War of the Roses. Shakes could only stay in business so long as he stayed on the right side of the Tudor family. All plays had to get the ok from the Master of Revels, a royal office. Can't exactly portray the last Plantagenet as anything other than a monster and still be allowed to perform. Or stay out of prison.
posted by absalom at 5:45 PM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hoffa'll probably be found under a parking lot too.

I've always thought he was fitted for cement overshoes.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:54 PM on February 4, 2013


From the Richard III Society's Facebook page:
Just to clarify, images of the facial reconstruction will be shown on tonight's Channel Four documentary. The press conference tomorrow will be its first public appearance before the media.

As soon as possible after the press conference we will post photos of the reconstruction on this Facebook page.
posted by ericb at 6:38 PM on February 4, 2013


BBC: Richard III dig: Facial reconstruction shows how king may have looked.
posted by ericb at 6:40 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Today is a great day for history nerds.
posted by padraigin at 6:42 PM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Richard III Society website -- "Promoting research into the life and times of Richard III since 1924."
posted by ericb at 6:43 PM on February 4, 2013


"Tomorrow's vengeance on the head of Richard."
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:46 PM on February 4, 2013


What I enjoy most about this story is that American TV new anchors are reporting that Leicester is London. No doubt misdirection to fool Hitler.

It's just off Tottenham, pretty close to Oxford, down the line from Houston.

No seriously, amazing tale! Re-focuses my interest in British history, Shakespeare, and indeed as Bwithh had pointed out earlier, House of Cards, quite significantly.
posted by the cydonian at 8:10 PM on February 4, 2013


"What I'm curious about is... in the UK, who owns the bones in this kind of situation? The land owner? The people who dug it up? The government? Does it make a difference if it's historic vs prehistoric? Or if it's an identifiable person -- do distant relatives get a say?"

Page 17 of this PDF (2005) begins a summary of the law and page 21 has a nifty flow chart. Generally, human remains over 100 years old require a license from the Home Office and are usually reinterred in some fashion. If the bones are "owned" they are "owned" by the government, but the issue isn't so much ownership has handling, as digging up graves and moving around human remains is typically very tightly regulated.

My husband deals with these laws in the United States, and the rules are fairly similar in the U.S. (though typically less in-depth with fewer exceptions as the US has less critical mass of skeletons in populated places and better records of them); in the U.S., the state in question is in charge of human remains generally and "owns" those more than around 100 years old. The law is not very concerned with who gets to put the bones where, but rather that human remains are handled with respect and that potential for historical and archaeological study is preserved as best as possible. "What do we do with these kinda important bones?" tends to be handled on a case-by-case basis with input from various stakeholders. (Not-important bones are examined, catalogued, and reinterred according to pretty standard procedures.) The dividing line is typically not historic/prehistoric but rather "could have been involved in a crime we could conceivably investigate and arrest someone for and/or their children or spouse may still be alive" (about 100 years) and "bones are of historical or archaeological interest" (more than 100 years).

But no, definitely not the landowner or the people who dug it up. Even if they did "own" the bones the government typically has Very Strong Opinions about you desecrating graves you run across. (In the U.K., as in the U.S., you must report surprise human remains you find to the government, and get permission before moving non-surprise human remains around, as you'll see in the PDF.)

Surprise human remains are dug up all the time during, for example, the building of highways. In the U.S., archaeologists generally have to survey any project that's going to be built on public land or using public funds (so, like, roads generally) and make an assessment of any archaeological value of the site and supervise the removal of any human remains or anything else important. Every now and then you'll see a story in the newspaper about a highway project stalling for a month because they found surprise human remains.

The history of urban archaeology in the U.K. is actually really interesting because the major expansion of cities in the Victorian era coincided with the early part of systematic archaeology, so you have lots of Victorian building projects that were (by today's standards) half-assedly examined by archaeologists before being paved over or built upon -- sometimes in ways that enabled modern archaeologists to go back and buy up housing blocks and dig up important things, other times in way that completely destroyed the site for future excavators.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:23 PM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


surprise human remains

[Band name joke goes here.]
posted by dhens at 11:41 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks so much for posting this when you did. Came across it while working late last night, and got to watch the press conference live in the middle of the night. What an unexpected gift!
posted by jeffj at 12:34 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mr. Roquette interupted me in the midst of a totally excellent flame-war where I was wiping the floor with my opponents to tell me this news. His ancestry is a bit more Plebian than mine, so his enthusiasm was all the more charming.
He sent me a link and was just excited beyond belief.
I never thought Richard III was as bad as they said, and felt that even if he had totally deserved overthrow, he was badly mis-treated at the end.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:25 AM on February 5, 2013


A facial reconstruction has just been released.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 4:38 AM on February 5, 2013


The Lovely Bones: Why Richard III's Body Should Be on Display.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:22 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


A quote from the article Capt. Renault linked: "Photographs of the bones were released to the media, including a close-up of the skull, and reporters were allowed to see them but not to shoot photos of their own. The New York Times explained the rules: “No cameras were permitted, in accordance with an agreement reached with Britain’s Justice Ministry when it issued a permit for the skeleton’s exhumation, and, university officials said, with the dignity due to a king.” A Roman Catholic priest sat with Richard’s remains as the reporters filed past."

I almost added something like that to my comment above about the laws around remains and treating them with respect, that the state agencies in the U.S. will go to pretty extensive lengths to respect cultural and religious heritage for groups with a connection to particular remains, and there are sometimes pretty interesting religious or cultural rituals that the archaeologists get to witness when the bones are disinterred or put back to rest.

I think it's a nice thing, and I think it's nice that they had a priest sit with Richard's remains to keep him company and watch out for him and be sure his remains weren't treated like a thing. It's a very human sort of thing to do.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:31 AM on February 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


The Times Literary Supplement on Richard's physical deformities.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:23 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


What Leicester ought to do now is launch a Richard III theme park: Abbottabad, where Osama bin Laden was killed, is rebranding itself as an 'amusement city'. Leicester needs to raise its game
posted by homunculus at 5:44 PM on February 9, 2013


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