A mutilated body found at a Midlands abbey has been identified as that of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger, one of the most reviled medieval courtiers and reputed gay lover of the Plantagenet king, Edward II.
Despenser died a gruesome death, being publicly hung, drawn, quartered and disembowelled for treason in 1326 following Edward's fall.
The remains, found in the 1970s on Despenser's brother-in-law's estate at Hulton Abbey, Staffordshire, bear such hallmarks, anthropologist Mary Lewis says.
Mrs Lewis, from Reading University, made the link by drawing on the manner of execution, carbon-dating of the bones and the absence of several parts of the body.
The skull, part of the vertebra and one leg are buried on the family estate at Tewkesbury Abbey.
"Research on the Staffordshire bones shows he was stabbed in the throat and probably stabbed in the stomach, but we would not have any evidence to disembowelment unless the knife had hit any bones," Mrs Lewis said.
"It was initially thought that the coffin had been disturbed, but the remains clearly show the body had been cut up."
Despenser was also found guilty of theft at his Hereford hearing, and the remains show the hands had been cut off, which would be in line with such a fate.
Radiocarbon analysis dated the remains to between 1050 and 1385, and subsequent tests suggested the male was over 34 years old. Sir Hugh was 40 when he died.
Despenser's brutality and greed were notorious. He eliminated rivals and seized their land, amassing a fortune in the process.
His influence at court was immense, annoying the barons and alienating the king's wife, Isabella.
One of the reasons put forward for her hatred was the rumoured sexual relationship between Despenser and Edward II.