Bones Reveal Brutal Truth of Richard III's Death

CT scans turn up 11 injuries sustained at or near time of death
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2014 6:55 AM CDT
Updated Sep 17, 2014 7:33 AM CDT
Bones Reveal Brutal Truth of Richard III's Death
This undated photo issued on Sept. 17, 2014, by the University of Leicester shows a scan showing injuries to the skull of King Richard III.   (AP Photo, University of Leicester)

He wasn't a hunchback, he had a bad case of roundworms, and his final moments were brutal ones: The life and, more specifically, death of England's King Richard III has come into sharper focus following the most recent research on his skeletal remains. A forensic imaging team used CT scans to analyze the 500-year-old bones, which were discovered under a parking lot in Leicester in 2012, in an attempt to determine what the fatal blow might have been. Or, in this case, blows: The researchers discovered 11 wounds that they deemed perimortem, as they showed no evidence of healing. All but two—one to his pelvis, the other to a rib, reports the Conversation—were to his skull, and three of the injuries could have been what killed him: two to the inferior cranium and one to the pelvis.

That has researchers convinced he died after losing his helmet during the Battle of Bosworth Field on Aug. 22, 1485. "Richard's injuries represent a sustained attack or an attack by several assailants," says study author Sarah Hainsworth, per the Lancet. "The wounds to the skull suggest that he was not wearing a helmet, and the absence of defensive wounds on his arms and hands indicate that he was otherwise still armored at the time of his death." And, were he still armored, the pelvic wound would had to have been inflicted after death, meaning the head injuries were likely what killed him. Further, they're "consistent with some near-contemporary accounts of the battle, which suggest that Richard abandoned his horse after it became stuck in a mire and was killed while fighting his enemies," says another of the study's authors. (Read about another recently discovered kingly skeleton.)

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