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Richard III's DNA Indicates Family Infidelity

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now this, a story of really old-time politics, the story of a secret that a king of England took to his grave. It's now been revealed. This week, a set of bones found under an English parking lot was confirmed beyond doubt as those of King Richard III. Researchers matched DNA from the skeleton with living descendents of the king. But in the process, researchers also uncovered a scandal worthy of a medieval Jerry Springer show. Richard's genes did not match up properly with his ancestors, or as researchers put it there, was a, quote, "false paternity event in his ancestral line." Kevin Schurer's a researcher who worked on the skeleton.

KEVIN SCHURER: There's hardly a medieval king that did not have illegitimate children through a mistress. Now, that's different from what we're talking about here. What we're talking about here is a woman being unfaithful within marriage. And of course, that raises all kinds of issues to do with inheritance, with wealth, passing on a power.

INSKEEP: Cue that audience on Jerry Springer.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW")

AUDIENCE: (Chanting) Oh. Jerry, Jerry, Jerry...

INSKEEP: It's not clear where in Richards's ancestry the infidelity took place, but it does bring into question his claim to the throne, which he lost anyone in a battle to Henry VII, which is how Richard wound up dead and buried under that English parking lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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