Richard III: Wounds give clues to the king's final moments
A key member of the Richard III project believes he has pieced together the final few minutes of the monarch's life.
The king was killed at Bosworth Battlefield on August 22, 1485.
Historical accounts record that after a last-gasp charge at his enemy, Henry Tudor, Richard's horse became stuck in muddy ground and he was overpowered by Lancastrian forces.
Bob Woosnam-Savage, curator of European edged weapons at the Royal Armouries, in Leeds, said he might be able to shed more light on those final moments after examining the exhumed king's wounds.
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"What we have is a very tentative, first attempt to try to create a possible narrative," he said.
According to Bob, Richard led a mounted charge against Henry Tudor.
He cut down Henry's standard bearer, Sir William Brandon, before his progress was stalled by marshy ground.
With his horse stuck, Richard – who was in light mail and heavier plate armor – continued to fight on foot, a few feet away from his target.
"Tudor's bodyguard would have been defending him as well and so, within a very short space of time, Richard could have found himself outnumbered and in the 'press of his enemies'," said Bob.
Richard's armor would have received more and more blows as he was outnumbered and would have become less effective with each strike, said Bob.
His helmet was lost at some point and his head and face were left exposed.
"At this time, Richard immediately receives more blows," said Bob.
"A number of individual wounds from bladed weapons to the head, indicate a sustained and repeated attack on an unprotected head, one particularly heavy blow possibly proving fatal."
The death blow might have been delivered by a weapon resembling a halberd – a long staff with a spike and axe-like head.
Bob said that at the point the fatal blow was delivered, it is likely Richard had keeled over and was kneeling or lying down.
He said: "This trauma to the head certainly would appear to fit accounts that include descriptions such as his head was shaved and that his 'brains came out with blood'."
In total, pathologists and bone experts from the University of Leicester found 10 battle wounds on the skeleton of Richard III.
A number of them were "humiliation injuries" – such as a wound to Richard's pelvis – which are believed to have be caused after death.