Richard III's DNA Reveals Secret: Female Infidelity

But it's unclear when 'false-paternity event' occurred
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2014 3:30 PM CST
Updated Dec 6, 2014 11:00 AM CST
Richard III's DNA Reveals Secret: Female Infidelity
This is an undated file photo released by the University of Leicester, England, showing a portrait of Britain's King Richard III.   (AP Photo/Society Of Antiquities Of London via University of Leicester, FILE)

Richard III's remains continue to give up secrets the English king would probably prefer be kept buried. Since discovering his remains under a parking lot in Leicester in 2012, scientists have determined he had a bad case of roundworms and died a brutal death. Now they say an analysis of his DNA points to cuckolding—female infidelity. In a study published in Nature Communications, scientists explain that Richard's DNA was a match with relatives on the maternal side, but there were no matches between his DNA and that of "five genealogically determined male-line relatives," indicating a "false-paternity event (or events)" happened at some point. At which point, they don't know, but they note it could be of "key historical significance."

If the false paternity occurred in the family of John of Gaunt, "his son, Henry IV, and Henry’s direct descendants (Henry V and Henry VI) would have had no legitimate claim to the crown," the study authors write. "This would also hold true, indirectly, for the entire Tudor dynasty (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I)." But as one of the authors tells the BBC and Guardian, "This is not a criminal investigation. ... Royal succession isn't straightforward inheritance. ... History has taken a series of twists and turns." The Tudors, for instance, took the crown when King Richard III was defeated and killed at battle, though they used their ancestry to back up their claim. As National Geographic reports, the authors also determined with 99.9994% certainty that the bones belong to Richard III. It's the oldest genetic ID to have occurred after a person's death; Richard died in 1485. (More Richard III stories.)

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