A skeleton found under a car park in the English city of Leicester is that of King Richard III, widely regarded as one of history's most notorious villains, scientists confirmed on Monday.
The University of Leicester said that DNA from the 500-year-old skeleton, which has battle wounds and a curved spine, matched a 17th generation descendant of the king's sister, Canadian-born carpenter Michael Ibsen.
“It is the acacdemic conclusion of the University of Leicester that, beyond reasonable doubt, the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in September 2012, is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England,” lead archaeologist Richard Buckley said to applause at a press conference.
He said the king's remains would now be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral, the nearest consecrated ground, in keeping with archaeological practice.
The find has caused huge excitement among historians, as it finally provides firm evidence about a monarch whose life has been shrouded in controversy ever since his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
Richard's body was paraded naked and bloody through the streets before being buried in an unmarked grave at Greyfriars, a friary in Leicester, central England.
The scientists said that the skeleton had 10 wounds, eight on the skull and two on the body, which occurred at or around time of death.
The crown passed to Henry VII and the Tudor monarchs, who, with the help of playwrights such as William Shakespeare, successfully painted Richard as a brutal, hunchbacked villain who stopped at nothing in his murderous quest for power.
Historians now hope the discovery of Richard's remains will allow them to dispel some of the myths about the man and look again at what he achieved in his brief two-year reign, including the establishment of a system of bail and legal aid.
There had been debate about what to do with the bones amid calls from some for them to be buried in the city of York, Richard's power base. - AFP