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George Washington and Richard III… are cousins!

The University of Leicester confirmed last week that the human remains found last fall in Leicester, England belong to King Richard III who died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The body of King Richard III was buried in the Greyfriars Priory, a Franciscan monastery, which was destroyed during the Protestant Reformation under Henry VIII.

Mary Thompson, Mount Vernon’s Research Historian, did some sleuthing and found that Richard III and George Washington are descendents (5th and 14th generation, respectively) of Philippa Plantagenet and Edmund Mortimer, the 3rd Earl of March. Washington is descended from the couples’ daughter Elizabeth Mortimer, while Richard III is descended from their son Roger Mortimer, the 4th Earl of March.

Scientists and researchers were able to create a reconstruction of Richard III using technology similar to the technology used to reconstruct George Washington at ages 19, 45 and 57. The links below will bring you to videos detailing the processes used to bring both George Washington and Richard III back to life. Do you see any resemblance between the two men?


The Science Behind Forensic Reconstruction

Mount Vernon’s Discover the Real George Washington

University of Leicester’s The Search for Richard III

Final Resting Places

George Washington and Richard III share more than just common ancestry; both men have been the subject of controversy concerning their final resting place. Encourage your students to research the proposed and actual burial places of each man and debate if they agree with the final decisions. Ask students…

Where Should Richard III be buried?

The final resting place of Richard III will be at Leicester Cathedral, but this decision did not come without debate. Should his remains be interred at Westminster Abbey alongside 17 monarchs? Should they be sent to York, the seat of the House of York of which he was the last monarch? Should they be buried at Leicester Cathedral in accordance to the excavation license granted to the University of Leicester? Or should they be sent to Richard III’s birthplace, Fotheringhay?

Research more about the arguments for and against each location, and have students weigh in with a vote in this article by The London Evening Standard from February 6, 2013.

Let Battle begin: should Richard III have State funeral at Westminster Abbey?

Where Should George Washington be Buried?

Did you know that the United States Capitol was built with a tomb for George Washington? Discuss with your students if they believe George Washington should be buried at Mount Vernon according to his wishes, or if his remains should be transferred to the tomb at the Capitol.

Read more about the controversy over the final resting place of George Washington:

Create a Family Tree

Our Research Historian, Mary Thompson, created a family tree to find the connection between George Washington and Richard III. Have your students explore their own family tree or create one for George Washington.

Be Sociable, Share!


2 Responses to “George Washington and Richard III… are cousins!”

  1. Gina Says:

    Hi! Just wanted to point out a tiny little thing—a misspelling—in your PDF of the family tree: DESCEDNANTS. Should be “DESCENDANTS.” It’s right at the top so I thought you might want to know—couldn’t see how to submit it privately… :\

    Great post! I’m a Richard III nut so it’s really fascinating to me.

  2. Mount Vernon Contributor Says:

    Gina - Thanks for catching that mistake! We’ve reposted the PDF of the family tree and fixed the typo. Glad you enjoyed the post on George Washington and Richard III!

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Portraits in Schools

Kids holding George Washington Portrait

Mount Vernon recently invited K-12 schools nationwide to request framed portraits of George Washington to display in a respectful, prominent place.

The response was overwhelming: thousands of schools submitted letters! Along with the portrait, schools received curriculum materials to help explore our first president’s contributions.

Where has George Washington gone back to school? Click here to see!

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