photo credit: copyright: University of Leicester

Richard III reigned from 1483 to 1485 until his demise at on the battlefield at Bosworth Field at the hands of Henry Tudor’s men. Richard was the last English king to die on the battlefield and his death marked the end of the medieval period. Upon his death he was taken for burial at Greyfriars Minor Friary where his body was discovered by a team based at the University of Leicester in 2012.

Using CT scans and 3D modelling scientists have revealed the truth over the ‘hunch-backed’ English King. Until now it has not been known whether or not historical and literary references to the monarch as deformed were accurate reflections of his actual appearance or were embellished for dramatic effect or for political gain. Shakespeare, in his eponymous play, depicts Richard as ugly, deformed and as a result incompetent. In the report out today in The Lancetresearchers reveal that although Richard did have a noticeable curvature of the spine (scoliosis) the condition was not as deforming as some had previously portrayed him.

“The physical deformity produced by Richard’s scoliosis was probably slight as he had a well-balanced curve of the spine. His trunk would have been short relative to the length of his limbs, and his right shoulder a little higher than the left.”, said study author Dr Piers Mitchell, from the University of Cambridge.

“However, a good tailor to adjust his clothing and custom-made armour could have minimised the visual impact of this.”

Study co-author Dr Jo Appleby, Lecturer in Human Bioarchaeology at the University of Leicester added, “Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest Richard would have walked with an overt limp, as his curve was well balanced and the bones of the lower limbs symmetric and well formed.”

The report suggests that Richard likely suffered from ‘adolescent onset idiopathic scoliosis’ that came on at some point after 10 years old.


Copyright: University of Leicester


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