All Hail King Richard! Details of Elaborate Burial Unveiled
Video Screengrab, Diocese of Leicester
King Richard III's stone tomb will sit on a slab of dark Kilkenny marble, which will be inscribed with the king's name, dates, motto and coat of arms.
Sept. 16, 2012 --
The remains of Richard III, the monarch immortalized as a villainous hunchback by William Shakespeare and the last English king to die in battle, might have been discovered in a parking lot in Leicester. DNA analysis is still needed to confirm the findings, and that could take up to 12 weeks, according to researchers at the University of Leicester. While we wait, let's look at other royals known to have vanished from history.
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Edward V and Richard, Duke of York Before Richard III assumed the throne, there was only one person standing in his way: his nephew, Edward V. Only a boy at 12 years old, Edward V was unprepared for the responsibilities of the crown left to him by his father, Edward IV, who entrusted Richard as Protector until the boy came of age. The future king Richard III in short order imprisoned Edward V in the Tower of London, along with his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York. The uncle then declared Edward IV's marriage invalid, and therefore his heirs were illegitimate. Richard III assumed the throne and the two boys disappeared from history shortly thereafter. Although remains belonging to two children were discovered in the 17th century by workers renovating a section of the Tower, the bones were never conclusively identified as belonging to the two boys.
Harold II Even though Harold II might have had one of the most famous deaths of any monarch in English history, his final resting place is unknown. Harold II assumed the throne in 1066. That same year, William the Conqueror led an army of Norman invaders into England. The armies of William and Harold met at the Battle of Hastings in October. After hours of fighting, with victory within his grasp, Harold was, according to legend, either shot in the eye or stabbed with a sword. His body was then mutilated and dismembered. Although the site of Harold's death is known, what followed after is a matter of some speculation. According to popular accounts, William had Harold's body buried in secret, even though Harold's mother offered a sum to claim the body.
Henry I When Henry VIII was engaged in his campaign against Catholicism, he seized church lands and raided monasteries. In the process, his men disturbed and even destroyed the final resting places of the monarchs who came before him. In fact, Henry VIII even likely caused the destruction of the tomb of his namesake: Henry I. Henry I was the son of William the Conqueror, and reigned for nearly 30 years from 1106 to 1135. Although he crowned himself king in 1100, his reign was disputed by his older brother, Robert, who had been away fighting in the Crusades. Henry initially was able to buy Robert off, but the two later came into conflict again, which was only resolved in 1106 with Henry's army capturing Robert in battle and imprisoning him for life. Henry spent much of his time away from England, often frequenting Normandy. In order to rule in his absence, he created a bureaucracy that would efficiently govern and run the affairs of state, the most important duty of which was to collect taxes. Following the death of his son, Henry was left with only one legitimate heir, his daughter. When Henry died in 1135, his daughter's rule was rejected by the English nobility and civil war ensued.
Pharaoh Userkare If famous kings who died within the last 1,000 years are difficult to find, then an obscure pharaoh that lived some 4,300 years ago must be close to impossible. The reign of Userkare, the second pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty, has been shrouded in mystery, partly due to the fact that his tomb had not been discovered. In 2010, Giulio Magli, professor of archaeoastronomy at Milan's Polytechnic University, suggested a possible final resting place for the pharaoh. as reported by Discovery News' Rossella Lorenzi. The search, however, is still ongoing.
WATCH VIDEO: Find out what it's like hunting down ancient Egyptian treasures.
Queen Nefertiti Obscure royals are bound to escape history's notice. But when the ones who really left their mark manage to elude discovery, that's another story entirely. Ancient Egypt's Queen Nefertiti might be the most sought-after royal yet undiscovered. She died over 3,300 years ago, but was made famous in the modern era following the discovery of the 19-inch limestone, painted bust of her, seen here. Nefertiti was, in the words of Discovery News' Rossella Lorenzi, "the royal wife of the 'heretic' pharaoh Akhenaton, who initiated a new monotheistic religion that involved the worship the sun god Aton." Despite pursuits to find her tomb, including one such expedition funded by the Discovery Channel, no archaeologist has yet found where Nefertiti is buried.
READ MORE: Tracking Nefertiti: Egypt Guide
Emperor Jianwen When you're emperor of a nation as large as China, you'd think someone would notice your disappearance. Emperor Jianwen (1377-1402) was the second emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and nearly led it to ruin. Failed efforts to gain greater control over territory within his empire, which was governed by his uncles, led to the outbreak of civil war. When troops belonging to one of Jianwen's uncles attacked Nanjing, then the capital under the Ming Dynasty, the imperial palace caught fire, supposedly killing Jianwen and his concubines. However, an alternate version of events suggests Jianwen secretly escaped in the midst of the battle and took refuge in a monastery, where he lived out the rest of his days.
Anastasia Nikolaevna Although no longer missing, the final resting place of Anastasia Nikolaevna, daughter of tsar Nicholas II, the last monarch of Russia, was a nearly century-long mystery that ended in 2009. Along the way, false reports, witnesses and impostors claiming to be the deceased grand duchess turned up. The idea that somehow Nikolaevna had escaped execution gripped popular imagination, including an animated film in 1997. In 1991, speculation that Nikolaevna survived the massacre that claimed her family was bolstered by the discovery of a mass grave. Buried there were the remains of the tsar, his wife and three of their daughters. Traces of the two remaining children, a son and another daughter, were not at the site. In 2007, a grave in Yekaterinburg, Russia, proved to be the final resting place of the two remaining children. Two years later, researchers announced that DNA analysis confirmed that the remains were of the two young royals.
After years of heated controversy over the rightful resting spot for King Richard III, officials have finally decided on the reinterment details for the remains of the 15th-century English ruler.
His remains will be laid to rest on Thursday, March 26, 2015, in Leicester Cathedral during one of three services to honor the English king, the University of Leicester announced yesterday (Aug. 7).
The king's remains, which were discovered beneath a city council parking lot in Leicester, England, in 2012, will be tucked away in a tomb made of Swaledale fossil stone crafted by Michael Ibsen, a descendant of King Richard III's sister Anne of York. That design was unveiled on June 16.
A judicial review concluded on May 23 that the University of Leicester had the legal right to reinter Richard III's remains, after controversy erupted by Richard enthusiasts, including the Plantagenet Alliance, who claimed the king should be reburied in York, England, where he spent a good chunk of his life.
King Richard ruled England from 1483 to 1485, when he died at the Battle of Bosworth, the final battle in the War of the Roses, the civil war between the Houses of York and Lancaster. The king's body was buried in a hastily dug grave three days later, according to historical records and research published last May in the journal Antiquity. Once the remains were discovered, they underwent extensive study that included a look at the skeleton's physical characteristics and its DNA. After confirming the identity of the bones, researchers and others involved began to discuss the reburial. [Gallery: The Search for Richard III in Photos]
"Our cathedral has been consistently committed to providing a fitting, dignified and memorable ceremony for the reinterment of King Richard," Rt. Rev. Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, said in a statement. "We can now see how this works out in detail, and our city and county look forward to all the events of next spring."
The reburial will include much fanfare. On March 22, the university will place the king's remains into a lead-lined coffin, which will then be transferred from Leicester to Bosworth, as the villages linked in some way to Richard III's last days before his death in 1485 will be honored. The coffin will return to Leicester that evening, arriving at the Leicester Cathedral, where they'll be handed over to the church during a service.
King Richard III's remains will lie in repose for three days, during which time the public can pay their respects. The first service, on March 26, will be followed by similar events on March 27 and 28.
This week, contractor Fairhurst Ward Abbotts has begun to make space for the king's tomb.
According to the design released in June, the king's remains will lie inside a lead ossuary placed inside an English-oak coffin — all of which will be placed inside a brick-lined vault in the cathedral floor and be enclosed in a stone tomb. The tomb will reside on a slab of dark Kilkenny marble inscribed with the king's name, dates, motto and coat of arms.
The tomb and reinterment is estimated to cost 2.5 million pounds ($4.2 million), according to the Very Rev. David Monteith of the Leicester Cathedral.
Original article on Live Science.
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