of NBC News
With the help of a lot of science, the centuries old mystery behind King Richard III of England's death at the Battle of Bosworth has been solved
, and it wasn't a pleasant fate.
"The contemporary accounts of the battle tally with what we've seen on the skeleton," said Sarah Hainsworth of the University of Leicester, one of the authors of a study published in a British medical journal, The Lancet.
Marks on the late king's bones show that he was struck with deadly force to the head and his body was stabbed repeatedly by enemies. The marks show that he was hit in the head nine times, two of which would have killed him. The large number of blows show that he had probably lost his helmet in battle. There were no injuries on his arms or his hands, meaning that he was still wearing armor when he died. More were found on his pelvic bone and a rib, which would have been protected by armor normally and means that he would have had his armor removed to inflict the wounds.
"Richard's head injuries are 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," said Guy Rutty, University of Leicester pathologist.
The extra wounds also match an account that said that "many other insults" were delivered to his body after his death.
"Richard was probably in quite a lot of pain at the end," said Hainsworth, since his wounds seem to have been inflicted by swords, daggers, and a long pole with an axe and a hook designed to take knights off their horses.
"It's a great testament to modern forensic science and engineering that we can go back more than 500 years in history and learn how a person of that age died."
Richard III's bones were recovered beneath a parking lot in Leicester in 2012, and were confirmed to be his with DNA testing. He is set to be officially buried next year in Leicester, and researchers have been trying to get as much information as they could before he is reburied. His death marked the end of the War of the Roses, and sealed the victory of the Tudor house.
Mysteries still remain though about this ancient man.
Hainsworth added ‘‘This doesn’t tell us anything about what kind of king he was or the controversy surrounding his nephews,’’ when referring to rumors that the king murdered his two nephews to protect his throne. ‘‘Whatever else people think about him, he fought bravely until he died.’’
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