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The King’s Grave: The Discovery of Richard III’s Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds by Phillipa Langley

imagesRichard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, was slain in the final battle of the Wars of the Roses at Bosworth Field in 1485.  As well as being a notable character in history, Richard is the subject of many books and a Shakespeare play, as well as of controversy that has spanned centuries.  Was he the scheming, deformed villain familiar to so many through biased historical accounts and dramas such as Shakespeare’s, or was he largely a good ruler who has been unjustly maligned over the years?  What happened to Richard’s body after the battle has also remained a mystery for over 500 years.  Was it buried unceremoniously in the choir of a Leicester church?  Was it later thrown into a nearby river?  What was the true fate of this famous and infamous ruler’s corpse?  The King’s Grave is an account of a search that began in August 2012, when Philippa Langley of the Richard III society experienced a strange and strong sensation that the king’s remains were under a particular parking space in the parking lot of a social services building in Leicester, near one of the purported traditional locations for the burial.  The University of Leicester joined the search with the primary aim of determining the location of the Greyfriars monastery.  The project culminated in some astounding discoveries and a definite identification using DNA technology obtained from the king’s only confirmed living descendants.  Langley alternates chapters describing the search for and finding of the burial site, and a brief yet comprehensive account of the latter days of the Wars of the Roses. Though her continual championing of Richard gets a bit wearisome after a time, the account of this fascinating search and discovery should intrigue fans of both history and archaeology.

Alison M.

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