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National and World

February 5, 2013

528-year-old remains are king

LEICESTER, England —  

He wore the English crown, but he ended up defeated, humiliated and reviled.

Now things are looking up for King Richard III. Scientists announced Monday that they had found the monarch’s 528-year-old remains under a parking lot in the city of Leicester — a discovery Richard’s fans say will rewrite the history books and help restore the reputation of a much-maligned king.

Researchers from the University of Leicester announced that tests on a battle-scarred skeleton unearthed in the central England city last year prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that it is the king, who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, and whose remains have been missing for centuries.

“Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England, has been found,” said the university’s deputy registrar, Richard Taylor, describing the find as “truly astonishing.”

Few monarchs have seen their reputations decline as much after death as Richard III. He ruled England between 1483 and 1485, during the decades-long tussle over the throne known as the Wars of the Roses, which pitted two wings of the ruling Plantagenet dynasty — York and Lancaster — against one another.

His brief reign saw liberal reforms, including introduction of the right to bail and the lifting of restrictions on books and printing presses.

But his rule was challenged, and he was defeated and killed by the army of Henry Tudor, who took the throne as King Henry VII and ended the Plantagenet line.

Death was just the start of Richard’s problems. Historians writing under the victorious Tudors comprehensively trashed his reputation, accusing him of myriad crimes — most famously, the murder of the “Princes in the Tower,” the two sons of his elder brother, King Edward IV.

William Shakespeare indelibly depicted Richard as a hunchbacked usurper who left a trail of bodies on his way to the throne before dying in battle.

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