Richard the Third, who ruled as king of England from 1483 until 1485, will become the first known historical figure to have his DNA completely sequenced.

Scientists believe they will be able to answer several questions about the English monarch that have left historians baffled. Richard III suffered from scoliosis, which twisted his spine. Some depictions of the king show him highly-deformed, while others portray him in much healthier poses. Historians want to know how badly the disease affected the ruler. Other, smaller questions may be answered as well, such as his eye and hair color, both of which are still uncertain.

Leading the project of genome sequencing is no other than another King. Geneticist Turi King, that is. King and her team will grind up a small bone sample from the former monarch to read his genetic sequence.

The age of the DNA, however, will provides a challenge to King and her team. Much of the code is fragmented, making reading the genome impossible in places. To assist her in solving this problem, are Michael Hofreiter from Potsdam University, a specialist in ancient DNA.

Richard III is well-known for imprisoning two of his nephews in the Tower of London when they were just children. That action caused a scandal for the monarch in his own time, and it was later immortalized by William Shakespeare.

The last king of the House of York perished at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August, 1485. He was the last English monarch to die on the battlefield. In Shakespeare's version of the events, Richard III died crying out, "My kingdom for a horse!" The leader left behind no heirs.

King and her team were able to locate one distant descendant of the former monarch, Michael Ibsen. Born in London, the 17-time great-nephew of the king is a descendant of Richard's sister, Anne of York. Ibsen will provide DNA to assist in the study.

"It's a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. You tile it together to get as much of the genome as possible," King said at a news conference.

King Richard's remains were recently unearthed beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England. King was the researcher who proved the remains were those of the 15th century monarch.

Since then, a legal battle has erupted over what is to be done with the remains. A court ruled they were to be moved to Leicester Cathedral. Some indirect descendants of the king want him buried in York, the center of Richard 's rule.
After sequencing is complete, all the DNA information for Richard III (but not Ibsen) will be made available to the general public.

The study, with a total cost of over $160,000, has ben funded in part by geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys.

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