The “tragedy” of King Richard III just keeps getting more tragic. After all the “discontent” this ruler went through, scientists have discovered one more thing: He had intestinal parasites. Researchers did not find any evidence of parasites in the soil samples taken from the grave site, so they have come to the conclusion that this tragic king had roundworm.
Their research further concludes that the king may have had all the symptoms typically associated with this condition — cough, difficulty breathing, weight loss, nausea and more. When children have roundworm, it can lead to stunted growth or lowered IQ. Research on Richard III, however, indicates that even though he had a type of spinal curvature known as scoliosis, he wasn’t seriously damaged by the worms. This new information also indicates that his meat was thoroughly cooked which probably stopped the parasites from spreading. Scientists further conclude that, in his case, the parasites were the result of an infection.
Richard III was king of England for only two years, 1483 to 1485, before he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth during the Wars of the Roses. His body was dumped unceremoniously in a grave and, eventually, that ground became a concrete parking lot. His skeleton wasn’t discovered until archaeologists dug up the area some 530 years later on September 12, 2012.
DNA tests confirmed that it was the remains of Richard III. It looked like he would finally receive a proper burial. But, looks can be deceiving. There are now two locations that want to bury him — Leicester and York. (Leicester is where his body was discovered under a parking lot). While a panel of experts is reviewing the burial site issue, researchers made use of the chance to learn more about this king’s health.
Roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) is rare today in United Kingdom. In the Middle Ages, though, it was common due to poor personal hygiene and eating contaminated food. Today, it still affects one out of every four people worldwide.
Written by: Cynthia Collins