FACTBOX - Richard III's reign

Mon Feb 4, 2013 10:01pm IST

The base of Richard III's skull, which has had a section sliced off (bottom right), is seen in this photograph provided by the University of Leicester and received in London on February 4, 2013. REUTERS/University of Leicester/Handout

The base of Richard III's skull, which has had a section sliced off (bottom right), is seen in this photograph provided by the University of Leicester and received in London on February 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/University of Leicester/Handout

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(Reuters) - Researchers in Britain solved a 500-year-old mystery when they confirmed that a skeleton found in a car park last September, was that of Richard III, England's most infamous king.

Here is a look at his reign:

* He was the fourth son of Richard, the third Duke of York. He became the last Plantagenet and Yorkist king of England. He usurped the throne of his nephew Edward V in 1483 and perished in defeat to Henry Tudor (thereafter Henry VII) in battle.

* Born in 1452, he was still a child when his elder brother Edward IV became king. He helped his brother in battle and led the war against Scotland in 1480, securing Berwick in 1482. After Edward's untimely death in April 1483, Richard's future was put in doubt as Edward's sons were still alive. In a series of palace coups he secured power, first becoming protector and then king. He was crowned on July 6, 1483.

* Months later the southern counties raised a rebellion in the name of Henry Tudor. Richard reigned for another two years in a climate of an ever-growing crisis. Richard and his royal army left Leicester in August 1485 and took position on Ambion Hill at Bosworth Field where he was killed on August 22. He was known to have shouted "Treason - Treason - Treason" as he was killed.

* Controversy remains over the killing of the sons of Edward IV, the Princes in the Tower. Even though there is no reliable evidence, it seems certain that they were killed some time in 1483. Richard's own possible justification for the killings was that he was the rightful heir because Edward IV's children were illegitimate and therefore disqualified from the crown. Most have blamed Richard, who had the princes in his power and who evidently decided to conceal their fate.

* Following his defeat and death, the victorious Tudors began rewriting history to destroy Richard's reputation - a process that reached its zenith with Shakespeare's "The Tragedy of Richard III", first performed in the 1590s.

Sources: www.britannica.com/oxford dictionary of british history/www.richard111.com

(Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

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