For 500 years, the death of King Richard III has been marred in mystery, and new details on his burial revealed today are adding to that. Richard III was buried in a hurry, and in an "untidy lozenge-shaped grave." Whoever buried the king did so quickly and without much care. The information, released in a new research paper from the University of Leicester, makes it clear that the slain king wasn't treated with the royal consideration you'd expect after his death, adding yet another layer to the drama of his final days.
It was only in February, after extensive DNA testing, that the skeletal remains of Richard III were positively identified in a grave under a parking lot in Leicester, which used to be the site of the Leicester Cathedral. The skeleton betrayed ten battle wounds, the king's curved spine, and dated to his 1485 death. Richard III is believed to have died in his late 20s or early 30s and to have had scoliosis. According to the research paper, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Antiquity archeological journal, the medieval king was buried in an "odd position" with his torso crammed into a grave that was "noticeably too short for the body." The improper burial "may suggest haste or little respect for the deceased," the paper said.
Sometimes, it's not good to be the king
There's also evidence that his hands may have been tied before being placed in the grave. "The position of the hands over the right pelvis appears awkward and unarranged, possibly because the torso was twisted to the left, pulling them off center," the paper said. Richard III's head was also propped up against one corner of the grave, which signals that his body wasn't rearranged once his body was lowered into the ground. There is no evidence of a coffin, or even a shroud to cover the king's body. All of this stands contrary to standard burials for kings at that time. But, the signs of a quick and somewhat careless burial do
Signs of careless burial line up with historical accounts lineup with accounts of Richard III's death recorded by 15th century historian Polydore Vergil who noted a lack of "pomp or solemn funeral," the university said. The quick and dirty burial was likely due to Richard III dying at the War of Roses' Battle of Bosworth Field, which resulted in his rival Henry Tudor taking over the English crown as King Henry VII. Richard III died a king, but he wasn't buried like one.
Now that Richard III's remains have been identified, and his gravesite and burial have been analyzed, the University of Leicester is promising two more research papers — one covering the king's bone analysis and another on DNA testing of the skeleton. From there, the bones will be re-interred in gravesite, and a new tourist center and monument to Richard III will be built so that eventually, you'll be able to see what's left of the king for yourself.