History I Never Knew, and Almost Never Got the Chance to Learn

King Richard III: Killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the End of the War of the Roses.

King Richard III: Killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the End of the War of the Roses.

King Richard III: How Historians and Archaeologists Got There Just in Time

In 2012, archaeologists discovered the body of King Richard III buried under a parking lot in Leicester, England. Then they were able to verify the body’s authenticity at the very last second of history available to them. Had they waited just a few more years to unearth those bones at the site of the old Greyfriars Church, no one would have been able to tell for certain whether the body was that of the king – a guy whose reputation was trashed so unfairly by William Shakespeare.

Analysis of the bones revealed that the deceased had eaten a diet of seafood and meat, which was consistent with that of a nobleman of those days. But to be sure it was he, they needed the DNA to match.

It had to be mitochondrial DNA, the only kind that passes through the generations unchanged from mother to child. Mitochondrial DNA can be preserved down the female line indefinitely. They found that genetic material in Michael Ibsen, a Canadian-born cabinetmaker and the 17th great-nephew of Richard III.

Michael Ibsen was the last possible source of DNA for Richard III. Through all generations to the present, there had been at least one female relative to keep the mitochondrial DNA of Richard III alive. But now there are no more female descendants, so when Michael Ibsen dies, that line will go extinct. They found Mr. Ibsen just in time.

Yes, Your Majesty, “Delay leads impotent and snail pac’d beggary.” But this long delay is finally over for the last English king to die in battle.

Whatever else his exaggerated faults and failings, Richard III was a brave man.

In Pace Requiescat.

One Response to “History I Never Knew, and Almost Never Got the Chance to Learn”

  1. Faye Says:

    Hello, the whole thing is going nicely here and ofcourse every one is
    sharing facts, that’s actually excellent, keep up
    writing.

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