Shakespeare’s Richard III describes the medieval king as “rudely stamp’d” and “deformed, unfinish’d,” because of an affliction today known as scoliosis. In the tragedy, Richard’s “ugly” appearance parallels his actions as his jealousy compels him towards deceit and murder in order to win the kingship and his betrayed brother’s widow, Anne.
Richard III, in real life as in the play, came to an untimely end at the hands of those who despised him. According to the New York Times, experts recently confirmed the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton, seen at left, exhumed from beneath a parking lot. According to excavators, his burial was plain and hasty, his body stuffed into a shallow grave by anxious friars who feared recrimination by his murderers, the avenging Tudors.
The wonders of modern science and investigation–DNA testing of his close ancestors, bone analysis uncovering a privileged diet befitting a king, and, of course the giveaway twisted spine–reveal that the skeleton is a likely match to Richard III’s ravaged body.
The discovery unearthed both Richard’s skeleton and a hope held by select scholars that the renewed attention would help revitalize the crippled king’s reputation. New York Times correspondent John F. Burns says these scholars see Richard as “a man with a strong sympathy for the rights of the common man, who was deeply wronged by his vengeful Tudor successors.” Some in this group even want the misjudged king to have a proper burial, in Westminster Abbey–perhaps to make up, in some small way, for centuries of slander.
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Read the entire New York Times article.