A study of the teeth and bones of Richard III towards the end of his life suggests that he drank around a bottle of wine a day.
The research, by the British Geological Survey and University of Leicester, revealed that the monarch described by Shakespeare as a "poisonous bunchback'd toad" enjoyed an extremely rich diet after ascending to the throne in 1483."We know he was banqueting a lot more, there was a lot of wine indicated at those banquets and tying all that together with the bone chemistry it looks like this feasting had quite an impact on his body in the last few years of his life," Angela Lamb, a University of Leicester geochemist, told the BBC.
The team carried out of isotope analysis of the samples to measure the levels of certain chemicals, such as strontium, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon and lead, which can indicate the kind of foods a person ate.
The king's diet was far richer than that of even similarly high-ranking individuals for the period, said the team, whose findings were revealed last night in a new documentary, Richard III: The New Evidence, on Channel 4.
High alcohol consumption was, however, not unusual in the 15th century, when beer and wine were safer to drink than water. Such drinks also tended to be weaker than today.
Richard III, who was was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485, is far from the only English monarch to have enjoyed a tipple.
At Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII spent £3,000 (equivalent to £900,000) a year replenishing his cellar, while Queen Anne was nicknamed ‘dramshop’ for her gin consumption. Even prudish Queen Victoria enjoyed a claret – usually with a splash of malt whiskey in it, much to prime minister William Gladstone's disgust.