Richard III was bottle-a-day drinker, study suggests

  • Published
Skull of Richard IIIImage source, University of Leicester
Image caption,
Isotope samples were taken from the king's femur and teeth by researchers

A study of the teeth and bones of Richard III show the king drank up to a bottle of wine a day in the last years of his life.

The research by the British Geological Survey and University of Leicester revealed he also ate exotic meat including swan, crane, heron and egret.

Samples were taken from a femur, rib and tooth after his remains were unearthed in Leicester in 2012.

His diet was "far richer" than other high-ranking people of the time.

"We know he was banqueting a lot more, there was a lot of wine indicated at those banquets and tying all that together with the bone chemistry it looks like this feasting had quite an impact on his body in the last few years of his life," British Geological Survey's geochemist Dr Angela Lamb said.

Image source, Anupam Nath
Image caption,
The king's diet included a selection of wildfowl such as egret

"Richard's diet when he was king was far richer than that of other equivalent high status individuals in the late medieval period."

The paper said analysis of the king's bones and teeth showed his drinking habits changed significantly around the time he became king in 1483.

A Channel 4 documentary on the new research has also used a body double to prove Richard's curved spine would not have stopped him fighting in battle.

Dominic Smee, a 27-year-old teacher from Tamworth in Staffordshire whose spine has a 75 degree curve like Richard's, demonstrated that his stature would not have prevented him using weapons including medieval swords, lances, halberds and axes.

In the programme, he showed he was capable of wearing armour and riding a warhorse.

The medieval saddle, with its rigid construction and stiff back support, would have helped Richard to remain upright on horseback.

The research also suggested the king had moved out of eastern England by the age of seven, and lived further west - possibly in the Welsh Marches.

A re-interment service for the king will take place at Leicester Cathedral on 26 March next year following a week of events in Leicestershire.

Richard III, who reigned from 1483, was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485, but his grave was lost when the surrounding church was demolished.

Who was Richard III?

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Richard III's appearance has been determined by DNA tests
  • Richard was born in 1452 at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire
  • His coronation took place in Westminster Abbey in 1483
  • Richard had one of the shortest reigns in British history - 26 months
  • He was the last English king to die in battle, killed at Bosworth in 1485

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