30 May 2014
As a court case confirms that King Richard III's remains will stay in Leicester, and experts at the University of Leicester reveal a 3D representation of the King's spine, we explore links between the English king and the kingdom of Scotland. ...
As a court case confirms that King Richard III's remains will stay in Leicester, and experts at the University of Leicester reveal a 3D representation of the King's spine, we explore links between the English king and the kingdom of Scotland.
On 4 February 2013, a research team from the University of Leicester confirmed that remains which have been DNA tested along with those of an ancestor of a sister of King Richard III, Canadian Michael Ibsen, are ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ those of the Plantagenet king.
A skull believed to be that of King Richard, who ruled England between 1483 and 1485 before his death at the Battle of Bosworth, was found in a car park in Leicester in 2012.
Shakespeare characterised Richard III as a hunchback, but now everyone can explore the true shape of one of history’s most famous spinal columns, as University of Leicester scientists and multimedia experts have created a 3D model (shown below) of Richard III’s spine, based on findings in a new academic paper. The paper, published on Friday 30 May, gives the complete picture of the king’s scoliosis for the first time. (Spine image copyright: University of Leicester).
Among the key findings in the paper are:
• Richard III had a severe scoliosis, with a particularly pronounced right-sided curve
• Richard’s scoliosis had a 'spiral' nature
• His right shoulder would have been higher than his left, and his torso would have been relatively short compared to his arms and legs
• Richard would have been about 5ft 8 inches tall without his scoliosis – about average for a man during medieval times. However, his condition meant he would have appeared several inches shorter than this.
Use your computer mouse to move the 3D spine diagram below…
King Richard III and Scotland
King Richard was born on 2 October 1452 at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire and spent some of his childhood in Middleham Castle, Wensleydale. The northern areas of Yorkshire, in which the castle was situated, had fallen prey to border raids from Scotland over the centuries, with English raiders also travelling into Scotland to steal cattle and money.
As a child, Richard may well have heard the tales of the Border raiders and in adulthood, he would become deeply involved in warfare north of the border.
Richard as Lieutenant of the North
In 1461, King Edward IV granted Richard the Duchy of Gloucester, along with extensive estates in the north of England, including the Lordship of Richmond, in the area in which he had been raised. Other honours followed as Richard grew in the king’s favour and by 1469, he was also Lieutenant of the North and Commander in Chief against the Scots.
By 1480, the English were becoming concerned about the threat of war with Scotland as King Louis XI of France attempted to create a new treaty with Scotland against England, under the Auld Alliance.
In response to English fears, a new position – Lieutenant General of the North – was created and granted to Richard, ahead of war being declared with Scotland in November of this year.
The recapture of Berwick Upon Tweed
After two years of raids and counter raids, Richard was called upon to witness a peace treaty between James Duke of Albany, brother of the Scottish king, and English earls including Edward Woodville and Northumberland.
With a force of 20,000 men, Richard recaptured the town of Berwick Upon Tweed for the English, the last time that the royal burgh would change hands.
The following year, in 1483, Richard was appointed Lord Protector of the son and successor of the late King Edward IV, twelve-year-old King Edward V and his younger brother Richard. After the two brothers disappeared whilst in the Tower of London, rumours began to circulate that Richard had killed the pair, an accusation which has persisted down the centuries.