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Sep 17, 2014 03:48 AM EDT

Mystery behind the Cause of Death of King Richard III Solved

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The death of King Richard III was caused by a severe blow to the skull, according to a University of Leicester study.

The researchers said that forensic analysis revealed nine perimortem injuries to the skull and two to the postcranial skeleton. These injuries to the cranium, jaw, cheek bones and tenth rib were consistent with those inflicted by weapons (sword or battleaxe spike) from the later medieval period.

"The most likely injuries to have caused the King's death are the two to the skull, a large sharp force trauma possibly from a sword or staff weapon, such as a halberd or bill, and a penetrating injury from the tip of an edged weapon," study's co-author Professor Guy Rutty from the University of Leicester said, Telegraph reports.

Richard III was the last king to die in a battle in 1485, but the cause of the death had been a mystery until now. On September 4, 2012, a skeleton was unearthed beneath a council car park in Leicester and was identified as Richard's.

For the study, the researchers used modern forensic techniques like conventional and mocro-CT scanning to typify the injuries and determine the probable cause of death. They also referred to a United Nations manual for the investigation of torture and remains from other medieval battlefields. Plus, a study of sword marks on cows' legs was also included.

The researchers claimed that pelvis injuries might have been created after death as an act of vindictive battlefield celebration. Richard's body is believed to have been thrown over a horse and mutilated by angry bystanders.

On the other hand, the blows to his skull might be the consequence of him losing helmet in the battle or he might not have worn it in the first place.

"Richard's injuries represent a sustained attack or an attack by several assailants with weapons from the later medieval period. The wounds to the skull suggest that he was not wearing a helmet, and the absence of defensive wounds on his arms and hands indicate that he was otherwise still armoured at the time of his death," Professor Sarah Hainsworth, who led the University of Leicester, said.

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