Riddled with roundworms, Richard III's remains held embarrassing secret
Wicked king suffered from intestinal parasites, brought on by poor hygiene
According to playwright William Shakespeare, British monarch Richard III was a dastardly, Machiavellian hunchback. Scientists now say the favored historical villain had bad personal hygiene as well - his remains betray the fact he was plagued with intestinal parasites.
"This is the first time anyone has studied a king [or] noble in Britain to look for ancient intestinal parasites," Piers Mitchell, a paleoparasitologist and orthopedic surgeon said in an email. A sample taken from the king's remains have found the eggs of Ascaris lumbricoides, a simple roundworm.
"[T]hey may have been spread to Richard by cooks who did not wash their hands after using the toilet, or by the use of human feces from towns to fertilize fields nearby," Mitchell explained. Perhaps "salad vegetables became contaminated with eggs and were then eaten," he suggested.
An analysis included an image of isolated roundworm egg seen under an optical microscope.
"Despite Richard's noble background, it appears that his lifestyle did not completely protect him from intestinal parasite infection, which would have been very common at the time," Jo Appleby, lecturer in human bioarcheology at the University of Leicester said in a release.
Roundworm eggs were not found at other locations on the site, suggesting the worms were buried with the king. Had the king sought treatment, it would have involved the medieval practices of "bloodletting, modification of the diet, and medicines to get rid of the excess phlegm and so return humeral balance to normal," Mitchell explained.
Poor sanitation is a major contributor to spreading infection. While the parasite is "uncommon" in the U.S., it afflicts up to 1.2 billion people worldwide. Roundworms claim 60,000 lives, mainly children, every year.
Roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms have been infecting humans for thousands of years. Among the oldest evidence, 10,000-year-old human fecal droppings from caves in Utah yielded traces of pinworm infection.
In a related bit of history, researchers in June of this year showed that Richard the Lionheart's crusading armies were being cut down from within - waging and losing a war with gut parasites on their travels.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Europe News
- Despite push for gender equality - Nordic countries the worst in violence against women
- Pope Francis: Jesus Became Poor, So that by His Poverty You Might Become Rich
- DEFIANT RUSSIA: Leadership disregarding tough talk from Obama
- Long-lost pirate's treasure could be hidden off Irish coast
- British mom gets second opinion - and finds her unborn baby ALIVE, in spite of doctors
- Calling the Ecclesial Movements: Pope Francis Encourages Focolare, all the Movements, So Do We!
- Oops! Pope Francis accidentally mutters obscenity
- One rape or sexual assault reported by members of the Armed Forces - EVERY WEEK
- Pope Francis Writes to Families Seeking Prayer for the Synod on the Family
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?