Genealogy and DNA: King Richard III case study

Portrait of King Richard III
Portrait of King Richard III

Identification of the Remains of King Richard III using Genealogy and DNA

Today a detailed paper with all supporting documentation and analysis has been released proving that Skeleton 1 found in 2012 under a parking lot in Leicester, England was indeed the remains of King Richard III. The king was buried in 1485 following his death at the Battle of Bosworth. He was the last king killed in battle.  The solution to the problem lay in tracing the mtDNA through the female lines from his sister, as there are no known male descendants of King Richard III. In many ways since this is a descent from Royalty it was relatively easy to trace even with the name change in every intervening generation.

There is the primary article that should be read, there were a couple of places it got a little technical but generally it is understandable. You should also read the supporting documentation analyzing the DNA results and then look at the 19 generations of genealogy, direct lines only. The foot notes provide a great source list for anyone doing medieval or early modern research. What was also fascinating was the reconstruction of the contemporaries of Richard III to make sure that there were no other possible contenders for a DNA match among his peers who might have been at Bosworth, or might have died in that period, and there were not.

Read the full article published online today in Nature.

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