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Science

Richard III Suffered an Ignominious Burial, Researchers Find 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the hold-the-pomp dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Richard III may have been the King of England and the subject of a Shakespearean play, but even that couldn't keep him safe from ending up in a hastily-dug grave that ultimately became part of a parking lot, according to a new study published in the journal Antiquity."
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Richard III Suffered an Ignominious Burial, Researchers Find

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  • This was news a while ago.
  • buried under a stone or not : doesn't matter, unless he was a zombie and able dig himself out of a heap of sand.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday May 27, 2013 @01:37AM (#43830953)

    FTA:

    the late king’s body was reportedly stripped naked, despoiled and publicly displayed for three days before it was buried

    . . . and someone was in a rush to get what was left of him underground . . . lest his remains doth starteth to again walk . . .

    • The distinct bouquet of "publicly displayed corpse" was a household fixture in pre-Renaissance Europe. I'm sure it would've been missed.
      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday May 27, 2013 @07:07AM (#43831759) Homepage Journal

        What's that smell, has somebody died?
        Nay.
        Ah, that'll be it.

      • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Monday May 27, 2013 @09:36AM (#43832537) Homepage

        For honored dead, it was called lying in state, for dishonored it was parading the body, but in both cases the reason was the same: to get as many witnesses as possible to the fact the person was well and truly dead. Otherwise, there would be persistent rumors that they were still alive, people pretending to be them (or their children born after their official date of death), and the like. So it was gruesome but completely practical.

        And it's not as if the need for this kind of thing has completely gone away. There are still people who are rumored to be alive long after their deaths, like Elvis Presley. In the fight against terrorism, there have been several cases where the US has published pictures of the obviously dead bodies of prominent enemies as a way of proving they're actually dead, and there was considerable speculation among conspiracy theorists about why Osama bin Laden's body was disposed of so quickly.

      • by cusco (717999)
        In many places of the world, including still some areas of Medieval Europe, honored family members were buried under the dirt floor of the house. Some cultures waited until the majority of the flesh was off the bones first, but in (IIRC) Druidic areas and the Indus Valley they didn't wait. Having buried a 10 kilo cat in the garden I can only imagine the, ahem, bouquet of a 50 kilo person. Most of the European cathedrals have royalty buried in them, I've occasionally wondered how long the Church waited be
        • by dwye (1127395)

          Having buried a 10 kilo cat in the garden I can only imagine the, ahem, bouquet of a 50 kilo person.

          That is why bodies are supposed to be buried 6 feet down. With that much distance, the odor doesn't get to the surface. Alternately, use a lot of lime on the body, which dries up the excess ... liquidity ... of the corpse.

    • by Grog6 (85859)

      I think it was more of a "the best we can do is get you buried in an unmarked grave so it won't be desecrated" kind of burial, myself.

      • by dwye (1127395)

        The only "desecration" that Richard III would receive would be at the behest of Henry Bolingbroke (or his toadies). Richard was even popular in Yorkshiire, which ironically most of the "Yorkist" branch were decidedly not. His modern reputation comes about because he lost, and Henry was not as gracious a winner as William The Conqueror (or his half brother, Bishop Odo, who supervised the Bayeaux Tapestry) was to Harold Godwinson.

        • Presumably Henry Bolingbroke would have been looking for braiiiiiinzzzz to eat, since he'd been dead for over 60 years.

          • by dwye (1127395)

            Damn. you're right! Wrong Richard => Henry transition. Henry Tudor, who had no need of a birthplace name because he was the first English monarch with a proper surname before coronation.

            • English? He was about as English as Queen Victoria.

              • by dwye (1127395)

                Henry VII was an English monarch in that he was monarch of England, just like Knute the Dane King, William I, Henry II. James I, and William of Orange. Not an Englishman, just ruler over them.

                BTW, Victoria was a British monarch, since she ruled after the Act Of Union, just like George I. HAH!!

                BTW MkII: According to the Wikipedia article, Henry Tudor was fairly English, too, since the Tudors seemed to marry English when not knocking up widowed French princesses.

  • it took researchers months to figure out what a single picture shows?

    no shit, its a shallow grave with a body dumped in it and it took you that fucking long to notice?

    • Re:in otherwords (Score:5, Informative)

      by bruce_the_loon (856617) on Monday May 27, 2013 @02:39AM (#43831145) Homepage

      No. It took researchers months to write an article, get it proof-read, submitted to a journal, peer-reviewed and finally published in the journal.

    • Even the shallow grave part isn't THAT straight forward. The depth of the ground is relative to surface level. And the surface level of 500 years ago is probably not the same as the surface level of the 20th century car park.

      If the 500 years ago surface layer is still there, and other layers just piled on top then not too difficult. But what things have been disturbed more than that? What if the 500 years ago surface level isn't there any more?

      • It's not the shallowness aspect that I found interesting. I wonder how they know how big the grave was in the other dimensions? Surely after 500 years the soil would have become homogenous. I'm assuming the same soil that was dug for the grave was put back in.

        In all cases it seems like good detective work to me.

        • Presumably the bones were in some foetal like clump, rather than laid out full length.

        • Re:in otherwords (Score:5, Informative)

          by cusco (717999) <brian@bixby.gmail@com> on Monday May 27, 2013 @03:31PM (#43834789)
          Actually undisturbed soil retains its structure pretty well, and soil disturbed by burrowers like earthworms and moles only slightly less well. After the first six inches the ground remains pretty much untouched by anything but roots (which are transient and obvious phenomena) for thousands to millions of years. I've personally been to archeological excavations where you can clearly see the individual shovel and pick marks from a thousand or more years ago. The Burgess Shale shows silt layers from individual rainstorms 520 million years ago.
  • "Suffered"? I am fairly sure that didn't cause any pain, physical or emotional.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Another imbecile who doesn't understand that the word is often used metaphorically.

      At least you've got the excuse that you're a dago.

      • by geogob (569250)

        Yet, metaphorical use of words is not always appropriate; despite what journalists want you to think with their catchy headlines.

        • I guess it depends if you believe in an afterlife or not. For people that do, believing that dead men can suffer from the circumstances after their death is not much of a leap.

        • Metaphor is not a synonym of lie.

          Nonetheless, suffer is an odd word. Apart from the "be in pain" meaning it can also mean tolerate or permit[1] (as in ~ fools gladly), so it's not much of a stretch to "be on the receiving end of". I'm pretty sure I've seen it applied to inanimate objects that by definition can't feel pain.

          [1] e.g. suffrage, permission to vote. Also, I don't think Jesus was suggesting that people should torment kids. http://www.freewebs.com/suffer-the-little-children/ [freewebs.com]

  • by A. I. Agent (807767) on Monday May 27, 2013 @01:57AM (#43831015)
    A hearse, a hearse, my kingdom for a hearse.
  • Imperious Richard, dead and turned to clay,
    Might stop a hole to keep a tire from flaying.
    Oh, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
    Should patch a park t' allow the traffic’s flow!

  • Can someone please explain how they determined the grave was hastily-dug? I guess the grave diggers didn't leave notes. Maybe they purposely dug it the way it is...
    • Re:Hastily-dug? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Monday May 27, 2013 @05:38AM (#43831555) Journal

      Sure. I performed an experiment called Read The Fucking Article (RTFA), which yielded this curious observation:

      First of all, the grave Richard III was placed in was “badly prepared,” which, the researchers from the University of Leicester said, suggests gravediggers were in something of a rush to get the corpse underground.

      It was found approximately 73 mm from the entrance to TFA, not very far in. Note the use of the phrase "First of all", which provides supporting evidence that it was near the entrance.

  • Shakespeare??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ignavus (213578) on Monday May 27, 2013 @03:08AM (#43831237)

    Um, Richard III died in 1495 while Shakespeare was writing plays (like, you know, "Richard III") around 1592 - a hundred years later.

    So how was Richard's burial going to be affected by a play that hadn't yet been written, and which wasn't going to be written for another 100 years?

    Do you think the early Tudors might have thought, with a little effort: "Oh look! Some playwright will write about this dead king in a hundred years, and the dead king and the playwright will still be famous in 500 years time, so we had better bury this dead king properly."

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      Um, Richard III died in 1495

      1485. August 22nd, IIRC.

    • Um, Richard III died in 1495 while Shakespeare was writing plays (like, you know, "Richard III") around 1592 - a hundred years later.

      Ah, yes. notice the circuitous nature of time.
      Even in mind repeats all past feats to make rhyme.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 27, 2013 @03:09AM (#43831247)

    Remember that the new King, Henry Tudor, hereafter referred to as that Evil Bastard Henry VII (EBH7) dated his accession to the throne to the day BEFORE the battle of Bosworth, thus rendering those followers of Richard III who remaied loyal to the end traitors to the crown, and that the turncoats who ensured his victory would make sure they heaped as many indignities in the corpse of their former king as possible to demonstrate their loyalty to EBH7.

    Given these circumstances, its entirely reasonable that the interrment of Richard would be done as quickly as possible, at the first opportunity that the body would not be missed. Originally the grave was in the church of the Grey Friars, probably in front of an altar and would have been deep enough not to cause "offence". It may have been hastily prepared and thus not quite the right size for Richard, but rather than indicating that the scenario was "ignominious", it shows that his remaining supporters wanted to bury him in a holy place, away from the vengance of EBH7s new supporters. Given the time constraints and the location, speed would have been of the essence. Just because it wasn't a State Funeral doesn't mean that it would not have been done without reverence. The fact that the site ended up as a car park can be indirectly ascribed to the activities of EBH7s son, Henry VIII who dissolved the monasteries, friaries, etc.

    We're lucky that the grave still exists. Part of the foundations of a Victorian brick privy intrude into the burial site, a few feet further and he would have been completely obliterated.

    • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday May 27, 2013 @03:58AM (#43831359) Homepage Journal

      Evil Welsh half-French Bastard Henry VII (EWHFBH7)

      FTFY.

      He was a right cunt, wasn't he? Just like all the Tudors. The thistle-arsed bastard Stuarts weren't exactly great, but after the Tudors they were a relief.

      • Like Obama after the Bushes?
        • by dkf (304284)

          Like Obama after the Bushes?

          Both Obama and Bush are far better than the Tudors or the Stuarts. The Stuarts were such rights-trampling pricks that they started a civil war several times — even if not all of those are outright titled that — and the Tudors took the broadest definition of treason possible (i.e., disagreeing with the king/queen was a capital offense). Can you imagine just how either of those would play in the modern world?

          • I'll give it a shot: Bush used 9/11 as an excuse to invade a soverign country (Iraq) that had nothing to do with the attack. The high end of the estimate for the death toll in Iraq is about same as the plague in England in the 1300's and 1400's. Bush introduced the Patriot Act which can probably be described as "rights-trampling". Disagreeing with Bush (or any of the ruling powers) could get you labelled as an enemy combatant ("treason") and get you into Guantanamo Bay detention camp, with all habeas cor
          • Both Obama and Bush are far better than the Tudors or the Stuarts. Can you imagine just how either of those would play in the modern world?

            No I can't. That's one of the reasons that comparisons across a difference of several centuries aren't really enlightening.

            It's like claiming that Gamelin was a better general than Napoleon because his men had tanks.

        • The Nobel Committee apparently thought so.

    • by spike1 (675478)

      Tisk tisk tisk... EVERYONE knows that richard III *WON* the battle of bosworth field, but then got murdered accidentally by a weasel called Edmund when he thought Richard was nicking his horse. Richard IV then became king for a year before the entire family was (again) accidentally murdered by Lord Percy when he put poison into a jug of wine rather than a single cup.

      THEN EBH7 took the throne and erased that year from history. :)

      • Dude, if you're going to make the Blackadder joke, then at least get it right. Richard IV ruled for 13 Glorious years before lord Percy's mixup with the wine and poison. At which point, Henry Tudor ascended the throne and rewrote history for a full backdated 13 years, claiming the death of Richard the third, victory at Bosworth and basically denying the very existence of Richard the fourth.

        It's in the opening sequence to the series dude.

    • by c0lo (1497653)
      Seems like there's a bit more [le.ac.uk] to the story. The current grave may not be the original one.
  • by Molochi (555357) on Monday May 27, 2013 @03:40AM (#43831315)

    But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
    Nor made to court an amorous looking glass;
    I, that am rudely stamped and want love’s majesty
    To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
    I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
    Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
    Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
    Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
    And that so lamely and unfashionable
    That dogs bark at me as I halt by them—
    Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
    Have no delight to pass away the time,
    Unless to see my shadow in the sun
    And descant on mine own deformity.

    • You missed the bit about the bargains on bad-weather camping gear.

      (it's my standard text when I need some random nonsense to type, instead of that dirty foreign "lorem ipsum" muck)

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday May 27, 2013 @03:59AM (#43831363) Homepage Journal
    Well, after reviewing the research one question still remains unanswered, did he at least get a good spot in the parking lot?
  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Monday May 27, 2013 @04:03AM (#43831371)
    I'd take living in this modern life as a 'peon' any day over being any royal person in history. We live better than any kings and queens of yore. We have modern plumbing and sanitation instead of having to defecate into holes, and nothing beats a hot shower on demand. In the 1400's the average english person took a bath every 7 years, the world was filled with dirty smelly people. Heat and air conditioning on demand, not cold castle walls. We can get to anyplace in the world in a matter of hours, not yearlong odyessee's. Only royalty got to wear the color purple, today we have the full spectrum of color available. Disease and plagues are not something to be feared as back then, healthcare today is top-notch. And all the world's knowledge is all available on your portable phone, there's no need to live in ignorance provided by royal magical wisemen. We live better and longer than kings and queens of history ever did. This story, repeat though it is here, reminds me to be grateful for the marvelous lives we lead today, the best time in all of history to be alive.
    • Exactly.
      The average car has 134hp in Germany.
      They weren't that many people in history with more than 100 horses.

      And all this quality of life that you described has been made possible by cheap and widely available energy.
      It probably will be impacted by peak-oil and climate change though....

    • I'd take living in this modern life as a 'peon' any day over being any royal person in history. We live better than any kings and queens of yore. We have modern plumbing and sanitation instead of having to defecate into holes, and nothing beats a hot shower on demand. In the 1400's the average english person took a bath every 7 years, the world was filled with dirty smelly people. Heat and air conditioning on demand, not cold castle walls. We can get to anyplace in the world in a matter of hours, not yearlong odyessee's. Only royalty got to wear the color purple, today we have the full spectrum of color available. Disease and plagues are not something to be feared as back then, healthcare today is top-notch. And all the world's knowledge is all available on your portable phone, there's no need to live in ignorance provided by royal magical wisemen. We live better and longer than kings and queens of history ever did. This story, repeat though it is here, reminds me to be grateful for the marvelous lives we lead today, the best time in all of history to be alive.

      I'd rather have been royalty in the 1400s than a peon in Harare or Dhaka or any number of other extremely poor places in the world today.

    • by tompaulco (629533)

      This story, repeat though it is here, reminds me to be grateful for the marvelous lives we lead today, the best time in all of history to be alive.

      And someday, people will look back at us now and think our lives sucked.

    • In the 1400's the average english person took a bath every 7 years, the world was filled with dirty smelly people

      Oh, I'd certainly welcome a source for that.

        • That's funny, because I know that at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century, priests in Prague were lamenting that the Prague burghers didn't seem to like going to church on Sunday nearly as much as they liked going to public baths on Saturday, which many of them were doing frequently. (The laments of the priests and the popularity of the baths also probably had something to do with the facts that the baths were mixed, but I digress. :-))
      • by u38cg (607297)
        How much wood do you have to burn to heat up 200 litres of water?
    • by drsquare (530038)

      Yeah everyone today lives in a palace, wears silk shirts and fur coats, eats the best meats, vegetables and fruits, and spends all their free time hunting and fucking.

      If you were a king in the middle ages you didn't need heating because you had a huge log fire, you didn't need air con because you're in mediaeval England, if took you months to get anywhere but you're the king, everyone else adjusts to your schedule. You could have a bath whenever you wanted, filled by servants.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      A good way of looking at it is to answer a very simple question: What did they have to eat? Those of us who are middle class or wealthier in the industrialized world eat meals that Richard III would never have thought possible. And of course what was available to a peasant in days of yore was just plain horrible.

      On the flip side, the king got to bang any chick in his kingdom that he wanted. So it wasn't all bad.

  • I felt like that futilely searching downtown for one yesterday. No parking restrictions on Sundays, so its impossible to find anything.
  • For the most part classical graves were plundered during the dark times. Although they had longer to decay, that is not as big a factor. Christian graveyards are still somewhat respected. I remember reading about Alexanders body drug around the classical world for half a millennia until it was lost.
  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Monday May 27, 2013 @09:59AM (#43832663)

    There would have been no Tudor England, House of Windsor, Henry VIII, and the schism from the Holy Roman Catholic Church. That would mean no George III who was King at the time of the American Revolution. Maybe New York would be an English City.

  • What else would you expect from such a misshapen man who can't even enjoy the lascivious pleasing of a loot!

  • Anyone else thing it EXTREMELY convenient that they found a living relative to the body they pulled out of the ground? I've a sister who does the genealogy for our family, and she's gone back to the late 18th century. Middle ages = no censuses, no births/deaths/marriages columns ... and the occasional child out of wedlock. So how the heck did they go back to the middle ages for a carpenter living in London?

    And also - modern analysis of the Richard III painting that's contemporary show it to have bee

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