King Richard III may have been the last English monarch to die in battle, but the exact details of his end have remained shrouded in mystery. Now, modern forensic techniques have been able to reveal the exact way in which Richard died, and his final moments seem to be a case study in brutality.
In 2012, King Richard’s skeleton was discovered under a parking lot by archaeologists from the University of Leicester, as The Inquisitr noted at the time. Since their discovery, Richard’s remains have been examined by a forensic imaging team, who worked in conjunction with the Forensic Pathology Unit and the Department of Engineering at the university, as io9 notes. They performed whole body CT scans and micro-CT imaging on Richard, identifying wounds and tool marks that indicate the weapons used to end the King’s life.
— David Jones (@_dpaj) September 17, 2014
During a battle in 1485, history records that King Richard was killed fighting against his enemies after abandoning his horse. The CT scans of his remains reveal that Richard sustained no less than 11 wounds to his body, with nine inflicted to the skull, suggesting that the King lost or removed his helmet during the conflict. Three of Richard’s wounds, two to the head and one to the pelvis, had the ability to cause a quick death.
“Richard’s injuries represent a sustained attack or an attack by several assailants with weapons from the later medieval period,” study author Sarah Hainsworth noted. “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 armoured at the time of his death.”
— Live Science (@LiveScience) September 17, 2014
As CNN points out, none of the wounds overlapped, preventing researchers from determining in what order they occurred. The pelvic injury, however, may have been inflicted after Richard’s death, as his armor would have prevented it, according to Hainsworth.
“I think the most surprising injury is the one to the pelvis. We believe that this corresponds to contemporary accounts of Richard III being slung over the back of the horse to be taken back to Leicester after the Battle of Bosworth, as this would give someone the correct body position to inflict this injury.”
According to study co-author Guy Rutty, King Richard’s fate was likely sealed by one of the wounds to his head.
“The most likely injuries to have caused the King’s death are the two to the inferior aspect of the skull — a large sharp force trauma possibly from a sword or staff weapon, such as a halberd or bill, and a penetrating injury from the tip of an edged weapon.”
King Richard III will be reburied next spring in Leicester Cathedral.
[Image via Twisted Sifter]