Over 500 years have passed since King Richard III was killed during battle at Bosworth Field in 1485. He was buried in a monastery, but it had been destroyed long ago. The rumor persisted that his bones had been tossed into the nearby river and washed away forever.
Today the mystery has been put to rest and now, in the year 2015, the king gets a second burial. Richard III has been reinterred in Leicester Cathedral in a simple oak coffin after a procession and proper funeral.
It all began in 2012 when excavation was underway in a parking lot in Leicester, England. While digging, human bones were discovered by workers. Grisly, to say the least.
When it was discovered where they were digging, archaeologists raced to the site of the excavation to determine who had been buried. After removing the bones and reassembling them, they saw that the spine had a curve that attested to the real Richard, described in life as a “hunchback”.
After tracking down descendants of Richard’s sister, Anne, scientists took DNA from cheek cells to ascertain the identity of the bones. Could it be?
The monastery in which the king had been buried was dissolved and the church was demolished in 1536. Richard’s remains were rumored to have been tossed into a nearby river, never to be seen again. Their whereabouts were one of the biggest historical mysteries in the world.
Philippa Langley, a screenwriter and researcher of Richard III, was convinced that Richard’s grave had not been desecrated during the dissolution of the monastery. She proposed that he still lay where he had been buried, and she was correct.
After the tests returned, the announcement was made: the king had been found, five centuries after his death.
Wax replicas of the king have been made to recreate his likeness. A recent figure contends that Richard III was actually blond and blue-eyed. Excitement grew over the discovery and the plans to reinter the king. Unfortunately, as excitement grew so did arguments. Where should the king be buried? The towns of Leicester and York disputed the other’s claim over the king. After judicial review, it was settled that Leicester would be the home of the remains.
Today the king was carried back to Leicester in an emotional but dignified procession, a more pleasant and modern-day recreation of the journey the king’s body originally made from the battle site.
In a wonderful and touching conclusion to the king’s reburial, it has been revealed that Michael Ibsen, a descendant of Richard’s sister, has made the king’s coffin.
Canadian-born Ibsen is a cabinet-maker by trade. After providing DNA from a cheek swab to identify Richard, Isben helped make history. For his contribution, Isben was asked to be further involved in the process of Richard’s reburial by putting his skills to work making the king’s coffin. It is a high honor, indeed.
Says Isben: “”When you’re working away you just focus on joining two bits of wood, but at the end of the day when you stand back and think ‘I’m building Richard III’s coffin,’ it’s incredible.”
Richard III Reburial Celebration – LiveScience