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The "hunch-back'd" King Richard III did have a hunch, but a 'good tailor' would have hidden it

The king’s bones were found in English car-park and identified using by DNA.

A model of the former monarch's face.
A model of the former monarch's face.
Image: Gareth Fuller/PA Images

REMEMBER THOSE BONES of a former English King that were dug up in a car park in Leicester?

Well, teams of researchers from a number of English universities have been working solidly since 2012 to learn as much they can about King Richard III from his remains.

Richard, who ruled England between 1483 and his death in battle in 1485 was, has been described in various historical and literary references as being “crook-backed” or “hunch-back’d”.

Early examinations of the remains show that the King had a condition called scoliosis, where the spine curves to the side.

The latest analysis, published in The Lancet, reveals that the king’s condition would have had a noticeable, but small, effect on his appearance, and is unlikely to have affected his ability to exercise.

richard iii back

A forensic imaging team at the University of Leicester, created both physical and computer-generated replicas of the King’s spine by performing CT scans and using 3D prints of the bones created by Loughborough University from the CT image data.

The results show that Richard’s scoliosis was unlikely to have been inherited, and that it probably appeared sometime after he was 10 years old.  The condition would today be called ‘adolescent onset idiopathic scoliosis’, and is one of the commonest forms of scoliosis.

“The physical deformity produced by Richard’s scoliosis was probably slight as he had a well-balanced curve of the spine,” said Dr Piers Mitchell of the University of Cambridge.

His trunk would have been short relative to the length of his limbs, and his right shoulder a little higher than the left. However, a good tailor to adjust his clothing and custom-made armour could have minimised the visual impact of this.

Researchers add that it is also unlikely that Richard III walked with a limp because his curve was well balance and his lower limbs symmetrical and well formed.

The royal remains were found in 2012 and last year were confirmed to be that of King Richard III after DNA from the skeleton matched that of two of the king’s descendents.

The skeleton also has wounds consistent with being killed in battle in the late 15th or early 16th century, as Richard was.

face Source: Youtube/UniversityLeicester

Read: Bones found at English car park may belong to medieval king >

Read: Skeleton found under car park is King Richard III, say archaeologists >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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