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February 5, 2013

English King Found After 500 Years

Watch Mystery Solved: What Became of King Richard III's Remains on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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England’s King Richard III has been dead for more than 500 years, but until now his final resting place was a mystery.

The king was thought to have been buried in Greyfriars Church, but the location of the church had been lost over the centuries. However, after years of searching, a team of archaeologists announced that they had found the lost king buried beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England. They say DNA tests on a distant relative prove beyond reasonable doubt that the body is indeed Richard’s.

King Richard III has famously been portrayed as a villain in historical texts and in Shakespeare’s writing. However, some scholars believe otherwise, and hope his body might help prove it.

Richard was accused of killing his own nephew to become king, and his time on the throne helped define the dynastic struggle known as the War of the Roses and the end of the Middle Ages.

Richard III was also portrayed as a “hunchback” with a distinctive lopsided walk.  The archaeologists report that the spine of the unearthed skeleton had abnormalities that suggest he had severe scoliosis, an abnormally curved back.  There was also a barbed arrowhead lodged in the neck and a chunk of the skull was cut off, indicated he died a brutal death on the battlefield.


“Beyond reasonable doubt, the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in September 2012 is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England,” – Richard Buckley, University of Leicester.

Warm up questions

1. Have you read Shakespeare’s Richard III or seen any of the movies?

2. What was life like 500 years ago?

3. Why did America break from the British Empire in 1776?

Discussion questions

1. What did you find most interesting about this video?

2. How do you think the location of a place like a church can be forgotten over time?

3. Why do you think King Richard III was not given a more regal burial?

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