Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
One does not simply find the long-lost bones of a fifteenth century monarch on the very first day in the very first trench of an archeological excavation, unless those bones belong to England's Richard III. Richard III, a monarch with a much-debated legacy, remains an enigma in part due to a scarcity of contemporary sources on his life. With the discovery of his remains in a parking lot in Leicester, England, scientific analysis of Richard's bones and the location of their burial provides new insights into his life and death, such as providing new information on the manner of his death and burial from the location within the choir and the position of the skeleton within the grave. Archeology offers the tools and opportunities to reexamine historical figures and complicate our interactions with their stories. Science changes our interactions with historical sources, confirming what we already knew from some accounts, and refuting others – clearly Richard's bone remained buried, rather than ending up thrown in the river. Written accounts tell us of the feasts Richard III ate upon his ascension, while the composition of his bones illuminate the types of food he ate, and how that represented a shift from his earlier diet. The lived experiences of Richard III are available to us through how they effected his body, and. DNA analysis and facial reconstruction help identify how accurate posthumous artistic renderings such as portraits may be, as well as providing an opportunity to examine the contemporary impact of the stories surrounding Richard. The question then, is: can bones change history? Richard III's mortal remains provide an opportunity to consider conceptions of his body during his life and directly after his death.
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Long, Isabel M.R., "Richard's Bones: Inside the Body of Richard III and the Twenty-First Century Discovery of a Medieval King" (2021). History Honors Theses. 7.