It is almost 500 years since Richard III was killed in a battle. Today researchers are trying to ascertain how much truth is there into accounts that he was killed in the battle.
It was 22 August 1485 when Richard engaged with the forces of Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Richard had a larger army of 8000 men while Henry had 5000 men. Popular culture recounts that Richard was abandoned by his compatriots and finding his close comrades killed, Richard made a unrehearsed cavalry charge deep into the enemy ranks in an attempt to end the battle quickly by striking at Henry Tudor himself. Richard fought bravely but was soon surrounded by Sir William Stanley’s men and killed. A Welshman dealt the death blow with a halberd.
To ascertain the blows which lead to his death, scientists used CT scans and Micro CT imaging of injured bones to look into signs of trauma to the royal skeleton. The skeleton was discovered buried under a parking lot in Leicester. DNA tests were conducted later which confirmed the identity of the person.
The scans suggested that the king suffered 11 wounds in the battle. Of these nine were inflicted to the skull which hints that the king had removed his helmet or lost it in the process of battle. The other two injuries were on other parts of the body.
The researchers concluded that three injuries must have been fatal, two inflicted to the inferior aspect, or underside, of the king’s skull and one to his pelvis. Both the injuries could have killed the king instantly.
The fatal wounds on the skull were caused by a pointed sharp object, probably a sword or a staff weapon.
Study author Guy Rutty, of the East Midlands Pathology Unit at the University of Leicester, said in a statement, “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. Richard’s injuries represent a sustained attack or an attack by several assailants with weapons from the later medieval period.”
King Richard III features in a play by Shakespeare, in which he is portrayed as a wicked hunchback who had his brother and nephews killed to secure the throne for himself. Scientists have confirmed that Richard indeed suffered from scoliosis or curved spine.