Royal lifestyle of Britain's 15th century king revealed
A forensic study of bone and tooth chemistry of King Richard III has revealed fascinating new details about the life and diet of Britain's last king from the House of Plantagenet king in the Late Middle Ages.
The study indicates a change in diet and location in his early childhood, and in later life, a diet filled with expensive, high status food and drink.
A long line of 14 Plantagenet kings ruled England until 1485 when Richard III was killed in battle.
Researchers from British Geological Survey and University of Leicester analysed isotope measurements in three locations on the skeleton of Richard III.
The teeth confirmed that Richard had moved from Fotheringay castle in eastern England by the time he was seven.
By examining the femur, researchers show that Richard moved back to eastern England as an adolescent or young adult, and had a diet that matched the highest aristocracy.
The third location, the rib, renews itself relatively quickly, so it only represents between two and five years of life before death.
Data from the isotopes in this bone indicate the greatest change in diet.
There was an increase in consumption of freshwater fish and birds including swan, crane, heron and egret.
"In addition, the bone chemistry suggests he was drinking more wine during his short reign as King, and reinforces the idea that food and drink were strongly linked to social status in medieval England," said Angela Lamb, an isotope geochemist.
The study appeared in Elsevier's Journal of Archaeological Science.
(Posted on 17-08-2014)