British King Richard III Remains Found

Can someone explain to me why I should give a flying fucke about this?


  1. says

    Because some people have a morbid fascination with famous people that persists even when the famous person is a corpse. Imagine, a century from now, when the tabloids crack the Kardashian family vault and publish photos of the crumbling remains!

    I suppose it might also be interesting to contrast the health and diet of a dead king with the similar properties of all the other poor schmucks lying dead all around him.

  2. slc1 says

    I have to agree with Prof. Heddle, as much as it pains me. Apparently, using DNA technology, they were able to identify the remains as those of Richard III from known descendants. This is reminiscent of the effort several years ago to identify one of the known descendents of Sally Hemmings as a Jefferson descendent, quite probably ole Tom himself. The fact DNA was found in the bones recovered is remarkable in itself. By the way, it is my understanding that there is considerable controversy over Shakespeare’ s depiction of Richard in his play; maybe he wasn’t the total villain as Shakespeare claimed.

  3. atheist says

    It is assumed that you will care because your life is assumed to be drab. Information about the supposed corpse of an ancient king is, therefore, supposed to divert you from your meaningless existence for a moment.

  4. Beaker says

    It captures our attention because the historical accounts of Richard’s post-mortem humiliation can now be evidenced by stuff like arrows actually found in his spine and butt. The scoliosis thing is also cool because it (sort of) mirrors the Richard character written by Shakespeare 100 years later.

  5. says

    Unlike the Kardashians, Richard III is an important historical person. His life was rife with rumors and speculations that have survived more than 500 years and his death marked one of the major turning points in English history. As a student of history, I think the discovery is pretty interesting.

  6. Callinectes says

    For those interested in history, it’s fascinating. Richard III’s own story is particularly interesting, as he was the victim – or not, as the case may be – of a great deal of propaganda after his death, including that of Shakespeare himself, regarding his actions, what happened to him, his health and the extent of any disabilities etc, and all the speculation survived down the centuries to the modern day. The Richard III society, people who make a hobby or profession out of studying him and his reign, has members all over the world, and there are definite pro-skub and anti-skub factions. He was a historical figure of great importance whose remains were deliberately concealed, so unlike most or our historical figures we don’t know where he has been all this time. The story of his discovery and identification merely adds to the story of his life, playing out like a combination treasure hunt and forensic investigation, and also allows us to answer a great many questions we have about him. Questions that are five hundred years old.

    It’s largely academic, I suppose, but I never pegged the FTB crowd to be anti-academic.

  7. says

    What will never happen again? Identifying a long-buried corpse? I bet that happens quite a bit. Identifying it as Richard III? Probably not. It would mean either a) losing track of this corpse, and rediscovering it, or b) determining that this one was some other, physically similar relative.

    It’s a bit interesting. Next year, maybe Hoffa?

  8. echidna says

    Proffe, PZ, I am surprised at your dismissive comments. This find represents getting data on someone who has been misrepresented in literature and history. His nephews notwithstanding, he was a progressive king in his short reign: he outlawed benevolences (mandatory gifts to the king), he introduced bail, and introduced the court of requests so that poor people could get justice. He also made it illegal to levy taxes without the consent of both houses of parliament.

    This find is drawing attention to the actual facts of his reign and death. Isn’t this a good thing?

  9. AsqJames says

    I was listening to an interview with David Attenborough earlier and he was asked about this – was it important, and if so, why? His initial response was basically “No, not really.”

    Since he’d previously been talking about how exciting it had been to go and see some fossils in China, the interviewer asked why those fossils were important/interesting while these bones weren’t. Attenborough started to say something along the lines of “Because when we study the fossils of ancient creatures we’re extracting information from them. We’re learning new things, increasing the sum total of human knowledge. By contrast, people will project preconceived ideas (of Richard III, of Kings, or of the people of that period in general) onto these bones.”

    Actually, being unfailingly gentlemanly and about as acerbic as honey, he stopped himself before completing the second half of the thought and said “Oh why am I pooh-poohing it. No, I’m sure it’s fascinating for historians and archeologists.” In a way i think both answers may be right. For whatever new information it brings to the academic disciplines involved – fine. For all the general public though? Nah, there’s no need at all for all the hoo-hah and excessive media coverage.

  10. says

    Actually, being unfailingly gentlemanly and about as acerbic as honey, he stopped himself before completing the second half of the thought and said “Oh why am I pooh-poohing it. No, I’m sure it’s fascinating for historians and archeologists.”

    Attenborough is probably the coolest person on Earth now that Richard Feynman has died.

  11. AsqJames says

    You gotta admit it’s kinda funny to think that here was this power-mad bigshot and he wound up in aisle 4C of some parking lot. Glory?

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear —
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.’

  12. says

    Why care about sports? Why care about italian food? Why care about Moby Dick? If you don’t then just don’t read about it. I don’t care about any of the things I listed above, but I don’t go venting about it, as if people that do like it are somehow less worthy or something.

  13. says

    It’s not that important. Basically, it’s like most literary or historical “discoveries” (of a new document in an archive, say): the thing itself is usually only moderately interesting. Historical discoveries aren’t self-interpreting. The real importance lies in how they can help us read, understand, or interpret other pieces of evidence. There are a huge number of mysteries about Richard’s reign, and the body doesn’t answer them directly, but it can be added to the other pieces of evidence. And taken as a whole, a reevaluation of that evidence might–might!–eventually produce something worthwhile.

    So, here are the modestly interesting things about the discovery:

    1. It confirms Richard did in fact have some kind of disability or deformity (in the case of RIII, history was totally written by the winners, and scholars have debated how accurate/propagandistic Shakespeare’s and Thomas More’s accounts were; the physical disability isn’t the most important element of their negative portrait, but it’s worth knowing that it wasn’t made up).

    2. The many, extremely violent wounds are interesting, and do tell us something about how he died and was killed. (And how the body was treated after death, which might in turn tell us something larger about the Wars of the Roses.)

    3. I guess some people are interested in the location–the fact that he apparently was actually buried, in a church (rather than that his body was desecrated or something, which ties into #2).

    But really, I’d say the main importance is that the publicity surrounding the discovery might inspire a few more scholars to re-evaluate the OTHER, more significant evidence having to do with his life & death.

  14. Counterpane says

    That’s English King Richard the Third if you don’t mind.

    It’s fascinating because (a) the science used to arrive at the identification is impressive, and (b) there have been years of genuine dispute between historians as to whether Richard’s alleged crimes and alleged physical deformities were real or subequent Tudor fabrications. Now at least we know that some at least of the disabilities were real.

  15. Cuttlefish says


    With regard to your first point, it is interesting to note that, while RIII did have the curved spine, there is no evidence he had the withered arm he is so often given. So there are arguments to be made for both accuracy and embellishment in how he has been portrayed.

  16. birgerjohansson says

    Hmm…didn’t they identify Copernicus a year ago? Or was that Kepler?

    BTW the DNA technolgy opens the possibility of exposing past indiscretions by kings and princes, as they had a habit of siring children left and right, without regard to stuff like “marriage”.
    For instance, if I turn out to have more DNA from the king who founded the latest Brit dynasty, should not I deserve at least as much prestige as prince Harry the dim-witted?

    And if we re-discover the corpse of Muhammed (the Salafists hid it after the conquest of Hidjaz in 1920) we can clone it to produce dynastic heirs to the first Islamic polity. that would totally destabilise the House of Saud, and I am in favor of anything that hurts those motherfuckers.

  17. Rod says

    As well, he was an English king whose final burial place was unknown. Nearly all the others, from about 1100 AD onwards are buried in known tombs and graves. Mostlyin churches and abbeys.

  18. Grumble says

    ” if I turn out to have more DNA from the king who founded the latest Brit dynasty, should not I deserve at least as much prestige as prince Harry the dim-witted”

    Prestige is afforded to Harry and his clan of clowns only because so many stupid people lack the discretion to afford prestige only to those who deserve it. That family is an utter irrelevancy. Do you really want THAT kind of “prestige”?

    Anyway, I remember hearing somewhere that something like 25% of the population of northern Eurasia carries Genghis Khan’s genes. Now that’s something his offspring should be proud of. I’d much rather be a Khan than some pale washed-out nation-of-shopkeepers milquetoast.

  19. navigator says

    I never thought I would hear the question, “Why is science cool?” on this website.
    I mean, really, you want a justification for why science is important?
    Double facepalm for you!

  20. Zugswang says

    I guess, abstractly, it is interesting to see how someone who wielded so much power in his own time suddenly becomes equal to all in death, at least once his contemporary influence has waned so much that he is no longer revered, or even remembered or honored beyond the annals of history.

    I wish I could travel ahead in time 500 years to read that the graves of all the popes buried at what is presently St. Peter’s Basilica was paved over to make a library or whatever the future approximation of a library would be.

  21. scoopdotorg says

    “Can someone explain to me why I should give a flying fucke about this?”

    No, coz i don’te givee a fucke if you don’te givee a fucke aboute this.

  22. Zeferino says

    because science and stuff. Also, the drama. ‘cus Richard III was not only killed in the battlefield, but his character was assassinated as well. Multidisciplinary stuff going on. I’m guessing OP is trolling.

  23. phoenixwoman says

    Yeah, I know, I’m a thread necromancer and all that. But here goes for responding to obnoxious trollery:

    Why should you care?

    Because the man who you’re attacking gave mokes like you the right to bail, and ensured that when you went to trial you could understand the proceedings as they were now carried out in English and not Latin.

    Because while he did have scoliosis which wouldn’t have been noticeable, aside from one shoulder being higher than the other, when he was clothed (he didn’t have a hunchback, that’s kyphoscoliosis), he didn’t have a withered arm, wasn’t born with teeth, and didn’t off his nephews. (For one thing, he had no reason to do so as the Act of Parliament that made him King also documented that the nephews were the product of a bigamous marriage and were therefore illegitimate.)

    Because the man who kliled him and took his throne had far less claim to it than even his illegitimate nephews.

    Because the man who killed him and took his throne made the lives of the average English commoners a lot worse, what with taxes and “Morton’s Fork”, and that man’s son – Henry VIII – got so greedy in his lust for cash to feed his never-ending wars that he dissolved the monasteries and their hospitals, which were the only support systems for the poor, and kicked off the witch hunting mania in England.

    But hey, you won, you got to be a troll and you got Pee Zed, a man who should know better, to join you in your trollery. Congratulations.

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