Richard III: Science Trumps Shakespeare

Fascinating topic (by one of my favorite bloggers) … I’ve read Tey’s book as well….

The Misfortune Of Knowing

Two RichardsEver since archaeologists excavated King Richard III’s remains from a parking lot in Leicester, England in 2012, researchers have been working hard to uncover his 500-year-old secrets.* They have confirmed the ruler’s identity through mitochondrial DNA testing, discovered he had roundworms (but no other parasites) in his intestines, and have now learned that his spinal curvature wasn’t extreme enough to warrant the physical description Shakespeare gave him in the eponymous play, Richard III (1592).

Most of us know of Richard III through Shakespeare, who portrays the controversial last Plantagenet King as a villain responsible for the murders of his nephews, the Princes in the Tower, among other deaths. Shakespeare connects Richard III’s treacherous behavior to his physical appearance, describing him as “deform’d,” “unfinish’d,” and as a “bunch-back’d toad.”

As it turns out, though, Shakespeare’s description of Richard III’s wasn’t exactly right. In The Lancet (May 31, 2014),

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