The Brutal End of Richard III’s Reign

Two years after his body was discovered, bone scans show the monarch died a brutal, painful, undignified death.

With its crude weaponry and primitive battlefield medicine, war in the Middle Ages was a very bad time to die. And according to new research, the death of Richard III—the last English king to die in battle—appears to have been particularly brutal, even by the time period’s historically high standards.

New insight into Richard’s death, via a forensic study in The Lancet, reveals the king suffered 11 different wounds from a cadre of weapons that included swords, daggers, and halberds. The study used CT scans of Richard’s remains and reconstruction software to piece together the last moments of the House of York’s reign.

Written accounts of Richard’s demise suggested he had been pulled from his horse and found himself completely surrounded at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485—and that he had died bravely. But as the Lancet-produced video above shows, new forensics clearly indicate he also died in particularly painful and ruthless fashion.