Finding the ‘body’ of Richard III

Here is what I wrote for the KiSSiT platform called Thinking Through Shakespeare in which researchers and Shakespeare enthusiasts can engage with Shakespeare and with the world through Shakespeare. ‘Twas a fun way to explore ‘medical Shakespeare’ and I shall surely return to Richard’s body and disability/deformity soon. Visit Kingston Shakespeare Seminar here for more intresesting posts and events!

Kingston Shakespeare Seminar

The remains of Richard III were found under a car park in Leicester in 2012. Since then researchers (often through popular media) have tried to reinstate Richard’s lost glory by busting Tudor myths trough scientific evidence. One of the myth busting methods, also seen in the documentary series on Channel 4, was to diagnose him backwards in history.

The mysteries whether George III, Ludwig II of Bavaria or Vaslav Nijinsky suffered from lead poisoning, schizophrenia or ‘madness’ intrigue us. I think many medical historians would agree, however, that making diagnosis backwards in time based on myths, tales and historical documents is always, if not dangerous at least highly problematic.

Richard's scoliosis was visible when his remains were found. This is due to ligaments rotting away slower than flesh which would have enabled earth to surround the bones as time passed and to preserve the position the body was buried in. Richard’s scoliosis was visible when his remains were found. This is due to ligaments rotting away slower than flesh which would have enabled earth to surround the bones as time passed and to roughly preserve the position of the spine while he was still alive.

Richard’s case is…

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