Feature

Richard III’s blood relation

Michael Ibsen is related to one of history’s greatest villains.

Michael Ibsen is related to one of history’s greatest villains, said Lauren Collins in The New Yorker. The Canadian-born furniture-maker is the 17th-generation nephew of England’s King Richard III—famously portrayed by Shakespeare as a hunchbacked child-killer. He became aware of his royal blood seven years ago, when a British historian called his mother to notify her that she was a direct matrilineal descendant of Richard’s sister, Anne of York. “We knew my mother came from an upper-class family, but that was it,” says Ibsen, 55. When his mother died, in 2008, Ibsen forgot about his noble heritage. But in September researchers from the University of Leicester asked for a swab of his DNA to compare with a skeleton they’d unearthed from a local parking lot, where Richard’s tomb is thought to have once stood. The corpse showed signs of scoliosis and injuries consistent with those the king sustained at the Battle of Bosworth, where he died in 1485. Since handing over his DNA, Ibsen has felt oddly protective of his much-hated ancestor. “If there’s a DNA link to the bones, it will have fairly profound emotional consequences,” he says. “I’m disinclined to believe Richard was the nasty, evil person that history would have him be. But I would say that. Whom would you rather be related to?”

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