Richard III Was Not a Hunchback, but Suffered From Scoliosis: Report

Image: Richard III Was Not a Hunchback, but Suffered From Scoliosis: Report

Friday, 30 May 2014 09:23 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Richard III was not hunchbacked, as suggested by William Shakespeare, but rather the former English monarch suffered from scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, according to scientists.

The newest assessment stems from a comprehensive analysis of the king's remains, including a 3-D reconstruction of his spine, after Richard III's body was recovered in September 2012 beneath a parking lot in the city of Leicester during a construction job.

"It's pretty typical idiopathic adolescent-onset scoliosis," University of Leicester forensic radiologist Bruno Morgan told Reuters, referring to a plastic 3-D model researchers had created of the slain king's spine based on scans of the bones.

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According to scientists, Richard's spine had a rightward curve between 65 and 85 degrees, giving way to an overall spiral shape, but not a hunch.

"Examination of Richard III's remains shows that he had a scoliosis, thus confirming that the Shakespearean description of a 'bunch-backed toad' is a complete fabrication," Phil Stone, chairman of the Richard III Society, said at a press conference Thursday.

"Yet more proof that, while [Shakespearean] plays are splendid dramas, they are also most certainly fiction not fact," Stone added, according to Agence France-Presse.

"Shakespeare also said that he had a withered arm and a limp. But looking at the bones, everything is very symmetrical. There are no signs of a withered arm. And both legs are perfectly well formed. There is no sign of him having a limp," University of Cambridge biological anthropologist Piers Mitchell added in an interview with Reuters.

Having reigned over England from June 1483 to August 1485, Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth Field at the age of 32. He was the last English king killed in war.

Richard III's death marked the end of the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York — named after their respective heraldic symbols of the red and the white rose — and the rise of the Tudor dynasty, AFP noted.

Archaeologists were reportedly able to identify the bones as Richard's using DNA that matched descendants of the king's sister, and evidence from battle wounds and the twisted spine of his skeleton.

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