As promised, here is my round-up of the latest news on Richard III!
First up, I wanted to point to this article about how to apply to attend the Richard III services and reinterment in March 2015. Information on the balloting process is here at the Leicester Cathedral website. If any of you get in, please let us know!
Now, on to the newest results!
If you want to read the peer-reviewed research paper that the results were published in, it is available here from Nature Communications. (I was able to access the full paper from home without my university login, so I expect that everyone should be able to read it.) And here is the official press release from the University of Leicester.
The BBC has a good summary of everything in this latest round of announcements.
And the University of Leicester has a great video summary:
The tl;dr version is that:
1) The DNA tests against a second all-female line of descent confirmed the initial tests (the mitochondrial DNA matched Richard III *and* Michael Ibsen, whose mtDNA was used in the first test).
2) Looking at some parts of the genome gave a probability that Richard III had blue eyes and blond hair (at least as a child, and it may have darkened as he got older)
3) The testing of the Y-chromosome along an all-male line did not match, revealing a false-paternity event
4) A statistical analysis of all of the accumulated evidence shows a 99.999% probability that the skeleton found in 2012 is indeed Richard III.
A few comments from me –
First, these are very exciting results and once again reminded me how much I love it when science and history can work together for a better understanding of our past. That said, I was pretty annoyed that most of the articles in the press focussed on the ‘false-paternity event’ and ran with a whole lot of misleading or down-right wrong headlines – often questioning whether or not Elizabeth II is the rightful Queen (ugh!). The Y-chromosome result was very interesting, don’t get me wrong! But since we don’t even know for sure where the false-paternity event occurred it’s just another historical mystery. There were 19 possible places where the event occurred and the odds favor it happening in the 15 steps that aren’t related to the succession to the throne. And even if it did happen in a place that impacted the Tudors (another popular target in the unfortunate headlines, and related to the current Queen since she is a direct descendant of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York), Henry VII claimed the throne by right of conquest. And even that wouldn’t really impact the current Queen’s claim to the throne since there are many other factors, primarily the Act of Settlement in 1701. I know I shouldn’t be surprised at sensationalist headlines meant to get clicks and sell papers, but it is still so frustrating to see so much misinformation out there, especially when it threatens to overshadow some very exciting results (including the Y-chromosome finding). Okay, rant over.
Previous Richard III news round-ups:
* September 2012
* February 2013
* February 2013 round 2