Poor Richard’s Bones

February 4, 2013 by Jen

Today is a big day for Shakespeareans and other early modernists: Richard III dig: DNA confirms bones are king’s.

The skeleton provides a great deal of tentative information about Richard’s physique (scoliosis, yes; withered arm, probably not) and also his death.

His skeleton had suffered 10 injuries, including eight to the skull, at around the time of death. Two of the skull wounds were potentially fatal….

…Other wounds included slashes or stabs to the face and the side of the head. There was also evidence of “humiliation” injuries, including a pelvic wound likely to have been caused by an upward thrust of a weapon, through the buttock.

Popular guy, right? *shudders*

I wonder if that’s what Shakespeare had in mind for Act 5, Scene 5: “Alarum. Enter KING RICHARD III and RICHMOND; they fight. KING RICHARD III is slain. Retreat and flourish.” Somehow, that description just doesn’t have the same visceral quality. I wonder why.

Marlowe would have had a field day.

See that in the next room I have a fire,
And get me a spit, and let it be red-hot.
—Edward II, 5.5

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