After two years of research, the bones found in a Leicester, England parking lot were determined to be those of the missing King Richard III. However, the bigger surprise is that the DNA analysis casts an uncertain light on the legitimacy to the throne of his descendants.
The bones were found in August 2012 after a team of enthusiastic historians and researchers pinpointed the location of a church demolished in the 16th century that Richard was buried in.
According to the BBC, physical details of the skeleton, as well as location and other information, allowed researchers to assert that the skeleton belonged to the missing king. Researchers then took hours finding a modern day descendant to trace the king’s DNA.
National Geographic reported that while the DNA trace through the maternal line matched that of the living relatives, the genetic details from the paternal side did not. This means infidelity occurred somewhere in the family tree.
According to the BBC, the instance of the female infidelity could have occurred anywhere in the nearly 60-year period separating Richard III from the 5th Duke of Beaufort.
Both Richard III and Henry Tudor (later Henry VIII) were descendants of King Edward III. The infidelity could have occurred in the line leading from Henry to Edward or Richard to Edward. Considering that Henry’s ancestor John of Gaunt, Edward III’s son, was plagued with rumors of illegitimacy throughout his life, the possibility of the break happening within the Tudor line is very real.
Hypothetically, if John of Gaunt was not Edward’s son, it would mean Henry IV had no legitimate claim to the throne – meaning that neither did Henry V or Henry VI. This break means that the legitimacy of the entire Tudor line, and the current Queen of England’s rule, comes into question.
Historians quoted by the BBC have assured the public and reporters that royal succession is impacted by a number of things and that the present day queen’s rule is not threatened since the break most likely happened in the part of the tree that does not affect royal succession.
The Tudor line was plagued by rumors of illegitimacy in its claim to the throne for decades. This new information could suggest some truth to these claims.
Henry Tudor’s ascension to the throne happened when he defeated Richard III in battle, marking the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and the beginning of the Tudor one, which lasted until Queen Elizabeth I died childless in 1603.
Analysis of the discovery as reported by The Wall Street Journal has been published and released. Researchers are 99 percent certain that the bones are that of Richard III. This determination has prompted the former king’s reburial at Leicester Cathedral.
The BBC reports the reburial will be preceded by a week of events culminating in the reburial on March 26, 2015. Two hundred seats will be available to the public, which will be randomly assigned through an online ballot process. The ballot will run from Dec. 12-31 and international applications will be accepted.
Editor’s Note: Information from The BBC, National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal was used in this report.