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The 'Killer Blow' That Killed King Richard III

Feb 13, 2015 04:53 PM EST

Researchers are finally revealing the potential "killer blow" that killed King Richard III after years of keeping it a secret, according to a new study.

King Richard III died at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485. He sustained so many injuries that at first it was unclear which one specifically led to his demise. But a series of 26 sequences of film footage has reportedly determined which of the King's wounds proved fatal.

"Using modern forensic examination, we have discovered that Richard's skeleton sustained 11 wounds at or near the time of his death - nine of them to the skull, which were clearly inflicted in battle. The injuries to the head suggest he had either removed or lost his helmet. The other two injuries that we found were to a rib and his pelvis," researcher Sarah Hainsworth, from the University of Leicester, said in a statement.

The research team focused on the head wounds, which were likely the ones that ultimately killed the king. Based on the position and nature of the wounds, researchers believe a weapon such as a sword, or the top spike of a bill or halberd was thrust up from the base of his neck and into his head.

"Following the identification of a major sharp force trauma to the base of the skull... we were interested to determine the angle of the blow," said osteologist Dr. Jo Appleby, who led the exhumation of the 500-yeaer-old skeleton.

The film sequence created by the University of Leicester team showed a dramatic injury to the base of the skull as well as the inside of the top of the skull. During filming, they noticed a "small traumatic lesion on the interior surface of the cranium, directly opposite the sharp force trauma," Professor Guy Rutty explained.

"Careful examination showed that the two injuries lined up with one another, and also with an injury to Richard's first cervical vertebra. The combination of all three injuries provided evidence for the direction of the injury and also the depth to which the weapon had penetrated the skull," added Rutty, who is credited with the discovery.

So even though King Richard III died long ago, researchers have finally lifted the veil of mystery, so to speak, that shrouded his death, revealing the killer blow that may have taken his life.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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