King Richard III

DNA break casts doubt on Tudor legitimacy

3 Dec, 2014

A comparison between DNA taken from King Richard’s remains and samples from five living relatives shows that somewhere along the male line, dating back more than 500 years, there was at least one ‘false paternity event’, an illegitimate child born to the wife of a king. The discovery could potentially undermine either Richard III’s claim to the throne or the claim of Henry VIII and the Tudor dynasty. The break occurred somewhere along the male line linking Richard III and Henry Somerset, the fifth Duke of Beaufort, who died in 1803. As Richard III had no grandchildren, scientists had to trace the paternal line backwards to Edward III, who died in 1377, and work forward to the present day through the ancestral line of the Houses of Lancaster and Tudor. At least one of the 19 men in the chain was illegitimate and historians say the prime suspects are Richard, Earl of Cambridge who was Richard III’s paternal grandfather, and John of Gaunt, whose ancestral line led to Henry VIII and the Tudors.

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