Finding the Mitochondrial DNA of King Richard III

In 1468, Margaret of York, the sister of king Edward IV and of Richard, Duke of Gloucester – the future Richard III - married Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Apart from one brief visit to England, Margaret subsequently spent the rest of her life in Burgundy and Flanders. She endeared herself to her new people both by her kindness, and by her willingness to speak their languages, French and Dutch. She is, to this day, remembered with affection in modern Belgium, and the modern Belgian interest in Margaret of York is an important part of this story.

When her husband left her a childless widow, still relatively young, Margaret settled at the palace in her dower town of Mechelen (or Malines). Here she presided over the upbringing of her step-daughter, Mary of Burgundy, and later of Mary’s children and grandchildren. Only one wing of Margaret's Mechelen Palace survives today. But happily this surviving wing has recently been restored.

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Interview with Richard Armitage


One of my most important and original contributions has been my work on Richard III’s DNA. This arose out of the need to identify some remains in Belgium which were thought to be those of Richard’s sister, Margaret of York. As a historian and a writer I try always to be clear about what the evidence shows, and about what we know or don’t know. When we DON’T KNOW, but have to draw our own conclusions I try to tell my readers that this is what I am doing, and to explain where I am coming from. Too many historians, past and present, have misleadingly pretended to KNOW things which are really only their personal opinion, and to my mind this is not honest.

Read the whole interview here