Tussle over battle-scarred bones of England’s Richard III

15 Mar 2014


An unprecedented legal battle got under way in the UK on Thursday as Richard III's distant offshoot moved the High Court seeking that the late medieval ruler's remains be re-interred in York Minster, one of the world's most magnificent cathedrals, with foundations rooted in the nation's earliest history.

Tussle over battle-scarred bones of England's Richard IIIThe hunch-backed Richard III was a superb warrior but a notoriously cruel and capricious man who led York against Lancaster in the War of the Roses and died in battle in 1485. Now, it is at the centre of conflict again at London's High Court, which must decide where his remains will be laid to rest.

Richard's battle-scarred bones were discovered under a council car park in Leicester in 2012, and the current plan is for them to be reinterred at the city's cathedral (See: Skeletal remains of King Richard III identified).

But The Plantagenet Alliance, formed by the distant relatives, wants the remains to be buried at York Minster, claiming that was the wish ''of the last medieval king of England.''

But the archaeologists who made the astonishing discovery of his remains contest that his battle-scarred body should remain in Leicester, at the city's cathedral. The archaeological scientists from the University of Leicester are backed by the ministry of justice and the local council, which hopes that the monarch will help draw tourists to the central England city.

However, the king's supporter's club is prepared to call a truce if the high court three judges rule that justice secretary Chris Grayling sets up a wide-ranging public consultation exercise.

A third option would be to bury the king in London's Westminster Abbey.

Plantagenet Alliance lawyer Gerard Clarke told the court on Thursday that Queen Elizabeth II, the current monarch, had remained "silent" on the issue.

This can be partly explained by the toxic legacy left by Richard, the Queen's 14th great-granduncle. He reigned for only two years, but is remembered as a treacherous usurper and bloody tyrant, as immortalised by William Shakespeare.

The regal remains were discovered in August 2012 during the construction of a municipal car park. DNA tests and battle wounds proved it was Richard, who was buried without ceremony after being killed at the Battle of Bosworth. His death brought an end to the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the families of Lancaster and York named after their respective heraldic symbols of the red and the white rose.

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