LEICESTER, England — He was king of England, but for centuries he lay without shroud or coffin in an unknown grave, and his name became a byword for villainy.
On Monday, scientists announced they had rescued the remains of Richard III from anonymity — and the monarch’s fans hope a revival of his reputation will soon follow.
But his rule was challenged, and he was defeated and killed by the army of Henry Tudor, who took the throne as King Henry VII and ended the Plantagenet line. Britain’s current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is distantly related to Richard, but is not a descendant.
After his death, historians writing under the victorious Tudors comprehensively trashed Richard’s reputation, accusing him of myriad crimes — most famously, the murder of his two nephews, the “Princes in the Tower.”
William Shakespeare indelibly depicted Richard as a hunchbacked usurper who left a trail of bodies on his way to the throne before dying in battle, shouting “My kingdom for a horse.”
That view was repeated by many historians, and Richard remains a villain in the popular imagination. But others say Richard’s reputation was unjustly smeared by his Tudor successors.
Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society — which seeks to restore the late king’s reputation and backed the search for his grave— said that for centuries Richard’s story has been told by others, many of them hostile.
She hopes a new surge of interest, along with evidence from the skeleton about how the king lived and died — and how he was mistreated after death — will help restore his reputation.
“A wind of change is blowing, one that will seek out the truth about the real Richard III,” she said.
Langley, who helped launch the search for the king, said she could scarcely believe her quest had paid off.
“Everyone thought that I was mad,” she said. “It’s not the easiest pitch in the world, to look for a king under a council car park.”
Source : http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/scientists-confirm-that-skeleton-found-under-parking-lot-is-englands-king-richard-iii/2013/02/04/c18f5354-6f3b-11e2-b35a-0ee56f0518d2_story.html