Tuesday, May 14, 2013
What do the remains of King Richard III tell us about the man and how he died?
Researchers say the skull and jaw of last English monarch to die in battle were badly damaged, lending support to reports that the blows that killed him were so heavy that it drove the king’s crown into his head.
They also conclude that Richard III may have been as anxious and fearful as William Shakespeare portrayed him – he ground his teeth with stress.
Researchers also found that the king had suffered severe tooth decay, perhaps as a result of his privileged position and a sweet tooth.
Dr Amit Rai, a general dental practitioner in London who wrote a paper for the British Dental Journal, said: “Richard is likely to have been killed by one of two blows to the base of the skull from some of the most advanced military weapons of the time.
“Several accounts of Richard III reveal that he rode into battle wearing his crown which, despite this making him an easy target, is consistent with the location of the battlefield injuries he sustained on his skull.”
The skeleton of Richard III was found beneath a council car park earlier this year.
The discovery was described as one of the most significant archaeological finds in history. DNA analysis was used to confirm the skeleton belonged to the monarch by matching it to that of living descendants.
King Richard died in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth in the War of the Roses over the English throne. Reports from the time say he was hit so hard by the blows from a Welsh swordsman that his crown or helmet were driven into his skull.
His body was taken to Grey Friars Church in Leicester where it was buried in a shallow grave.
Centuries later the site was built over by the council to form a car park until archaeologists dug him up.
Distant relatives of the king have now started legal proceedings to challenge a plan to rebury Richard III's remains in Leicester.
Lawyers have lodged papers in the High Court seeking a judicial review of a decision by the Ministry of Justice, arguing that Richard III’s remains should be buried in York, alongside his family.
However, in the meantime, the King’s remains have provided valuable insights into what life was like for the last Plantagenet king.
Dr Rai said the monarch’s teeth and jaw showed signs of rudimentary signs of medieval dentistry while some of the teeth showed signs of decay from a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugar.
Surface loss on a number of back teeth and upper right teeth suggest he also suffered from stress-related bruxism, or teeth grinding.
Whether this was because he was wracked with guilt over the fate of the Princes in the Tower, who he is accused of murdering to assume the throne, may never be clear.
Dr Rai also found evidence that Richard III had undergone dental surgery and had two teeth removed at the hands of barber surgeons.
Tartar was also found on the teeth in the King’s upper jaw.
Dr Rai added: “Analysis of this tartar will enable the identification of the strains and diversity of bacteria which once inhabited Richard’s mouth and provide a better insight into his diet and oral hygiene habits.”
Posted by Mr. Kelley at 9:35 AM