Royal Relatives Rivalry Revived
The British royal family is pretty staid and well behaved today, but that hasn't always been the case. A look back in history reveals a sometimes contentious group of relatives who would stop at little for a chance at the throne. Perhaps the most bitterly fought rivalry was between the houses of York and Lancaster, culminating in the War of the Roses.
King Richard III of York was one whose actions were not always above reproach. His character was such that William Shakespeare even based a play on his life. He lived from 2 October 1452 until 22 August 1485 and was king for the last two of those years.
Richard, youngest son of the Duke of York, was not in line for the throne. His nephew, the Prince of Wales was named King Edward V when his father, Richard's brother Edward IV died in April 1483. The 12 year old king traveled to London to await his coronation where he was met and escorted to the Tower of London by his uncle Richard who had been named Lord Protector.
Soon the marriage of the dead king to Edward V's mother Elizabeth Woodville, a Lancastrian, was publicly declared invalid making him ineligible for the throne. On June 25 Richard III accepted the throne from a vast throng of British Lords and commoners and was himself crowned King on July 6. The little king and his younger brother were last seen in public in August and their bodies have never been found.
Richard III's reign began with evident bloodshed and ended the same way. Allies of the old King Edward IV led an unsuccessful revolt against him in 1485 and were executed. In August 1485 a second revolt followed led by Lancaster's Henry Tudor and his uncle Jasper Tudor with the backing of French troops. They recruited soldiers and skilled Welch archers and met Richard's army at Bosworth Field. Here Richard was killed, the last York king and the only king to die in battle on English soil since the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He was buried in Leicester at Greyfriars Church, and Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII.
Recently one of two bodies found under a Leicester car park is thought to be that of the King Richard III. He was said to have a deformity that Shakespeare interpreted as a hunchback. One skeleton found has a wounded skull and twisted spine leading archeologists to believe it is that of the King. A documentary about the find will be shown this month and until the archeologists are saying little about it.
Leicester University is accused of hiding facts from the public. They report the remains are in good condition, in the right location, have trauma consistent with the battle injury Richard suffered including an arrowhead in the upper back, as well as severe scoliosis consistent with his deformity.
University excavators insist, however, that DNA testing is necessary for positive identity to be made. A seventeenth generation nephew of the King was present when digging began in August. Since he descends through a female line, mtDNA will be used to verify their relationship. Radiocarbon dating has placed death of the body found within an 80 year period consistent with Richard III's death.
One spokesman reported the planned telecast will prove conclusively that the find is the King's body even if DNA does not sustain it. The bodies were found a few weeks after digging began once the car park was identified as the most likely location of the Grey Friars church where the King was reported buried. In addition to the bodies, the foundation of a church has been uncovered.
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21 January 2013