Vancouver native Turi King, is a University of Leicester scientist who’s leading genetic testing; and London, Ontario-born Micahel Ibsen, is a cabinet maker, who now lives in London, England. These two Canadians are why I’m choosing to post this topic on my blog today.
For Ibsen, it started in 2005 when British historian and genealogist John Ashdown-Hill announced that he had traced King Richard III‘s lineage to Ibsen’s mother, Joy; she was a retired journalist who had emigrated from Britain to Canada after the Second World War. At that time, it became known that she was a carrier of a maternal DNA signature reaching back to Cecily Neville, mother of Richard III. Unfortunately, Joy Ibsen died in 2008 at age 82, but the mtDNA marker is carried by her children: Michael, Jeff of Toronto, Ontario, and Leslie of B.C.
“It’s just unbelievable. You couldn’t have written a movie script better than this. They find a skeleton with an arrow in its back, a spine with sclerosis and a head wound.” - 55-year-old Michael Isben told Postmedia News in September, upon learning he could be the 17th great-grand-nephew of Richard III.
Scientists confirmed earlier today that it is “beyond reasonable doubt” that the remains unearthed last year under a parking lot in the city of Leicester are those of England’s King Richard III.
Historical records say he was buried by the Franciscan monks of Grey Friars at their church in Leicester. The church was closed and dismantled after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538, and with the passage of time, its exact location was lost.
But last year a team led by University of Leicester archaeologist Richard Buckley identified a possible site of the grave. Ground-penetrating radar was employed to find the best places to start digging.
They began excavating in a parking lot last August. Within a week they had located thick walls and the remains of tiled floors. Soon after, they found the skeleton of an adult male who appeared to have died in battle.
Osteologist Jo Appleby said the 10 injuries to the body were inflicted by weapons like swords and daggers, which were consistent with accounts of Richard being struck down in battle. She said some scars, including a knife wound to the buttock, bore the hallmarks of “humiliation injuries” inflicted after death.
The remains also showed signs of sclerosis (a form of spinal curvature), consistent with reported accounts of Richard’s appearance. Even by William Shakespeare, who depicted Richard as a hunchbacked usurper who left a trail of bodies on his way to the throne before dying in battle.
So, who exactly was King Richard III? Well, few monarchs have seen their reputations go south as much as Richard III after his death.
For decades, there was a fight over the throne, known as the Wars of the Roses. It basically was two sides of the ruling Plantagenet dynasty — York and Lancaster —fighting against one another.
Fact: he ruled England between 1483 and 1485. Fact: during his brief reign, people saw liberal reforms, including the lifting of restrictions on books and printing presses. Fact: his rule was challenged, and he was defeated and killed by the army of Henry Tudor, who took the throne as King Henry VII. Fact: that pretty much ended the Plantagenet line.
But death was just the beginning of Richard’s problems. Historians trashed his reputation, accusing him of myriad crimes — most famously, the murder of the “Princes in the Tower,” the two sons of his elder brother, King Edward IV.
Richard remained a villain in the following years. But others argue that the image is unfair, and say Richard’s reputation was smeared by his Tudor successors.
The mayor of Leicester, Peter Soulsby, said the monarch would be interred in the city’s cathedral and a memorial service would be held.
There is so much more to this story. There is the Richard III Society – a group determined to seek the truth about the King. There’s the University of Leicester – who have unearthed all these discoveries.
Plus, because this was big news today, you can read more about it from:
King Richard III’s remains found under parking lot (nzherald.co.nz)
- Experts find remains of England’s King Richard III – Houston Chronicle (chron.com)
- Experts Find Remains of England’s King Richard III (abcnews.go.com)
- A king’s skull? Possible Richard III photo released prior to announcement (vancouversun.com)
- Experts find remains of King Richard III (news.smh.com.au)
- Remains of King Richard III found (toledoblade.com)
- Verdict issued on skeleton found under parking lot: It’s King Richard III – NBCNews.com (cosmiclog.nbcnews.com)
- Skeleton under car park is England’s Richard III: scientists (rappler.com)
- ‘Beyond reasonable doubt’: King Richard III’s remains found buried beneath England parking lot (news.nationalpost.com)
- Canadian family, Vancouver researcher key to dramatic announcement: Richard III’s remains found (vancouversun.com)