Richard III’s death, because it paved the way for Henry VIII, was a pivotal moment in British and world history *UPDATED*

Richard III

My sister and I got to talking yesterday about Richard III.  He was, she said, a decent king during his two years and his administration was terribly maligned by subsequent Tudor historians and, especially, Shakespeare.  She’s right.  Contemporaneous records show that he was a good leader up in his home base, the north of England, and that he was an effective, pragmatic king.  In addition, he almost certainly committed regicide against the two princes in the Tower.  The only reason this mattered was because it gave Henry VII the opening to be righteous in his bid for the throne.

Henry VII

Looked at objectively, Richard III and Henry VII were two peas in a pod:  both were able administrators, both had a tenuous claim to the British throne, and both were willing to kill to get that throne.  It’s likely that, had Richard III retained his throne, England during his reign would have looked remarkably similar to England during Henry VII’s reign.

It’s equally likely that Richard III, even if he’d handed the throne to a son, would not have had a son like Henry VIII.  For all his faults (and they were many, considering that he had sociopathic or even psychopathic tendencies), Henry VIII was arguably the most important monarch to sit on England’s throne.  It was his overwhelmingly personality — his inability to beget sons; his overwhelming ego; and his mad passion for Anne Boleyn, who promised him a male heir — that saw him remove Britain from Rome’s orbit at a pivotal time in both British and European history.

Henry VIII

Some argue that Henry would have left Rome in any event, since Spain and France were his enemies and leaving Rome strengthened his alliance with Protestant lowland Europe.  This overlooks the fact that Henry’s break with Spain also came about because of his inability to have sons, his ego, and his passion.  During the good years with Katherine of Aragon, Catholic Spain was an ally, and helped Catholic England in the balance of power against Catholic France.

It was only after Henry abandoned Rome (and he did so administratively, not doctrinally) that the shift in the balance of powers that we associate with Henry’s, and the Elizabeth’s, reign came about.  By then, of course, religious wars were starting to rip Europe apart anyway.  And indeed, one can wonder whether, if Henry (or an imaginary son of Richard III) had stayed with Rome, the Protestant schism would have been as powerful as it was, or if it would simply have exhausted itself in small, German and lowland municipalities.  (In France, of course, the Catholic monarchs quashed Protestantism with brutality creating a Huguenot diaspora.)

Oliver Cromwell

Henry’s decision to break with Rome set the stage, a little over a century later, for the English Civil War.  That War opened the door to Cromwell, who allowed the Jews to return to England, which arguably helped jump start England’s phenomenal mercantile rise.  From that came a British colossus that, for almost two centuries, controlled vast swaths of the world — North America, the Indian subcontinent, parts of Africa, the Caribbean, etc.  Significantly, and without exceptions, Niall Ferguson demonstrates convincingly that every former British colony went on to become prosperous, whether that prosperity is measured on a worldwide scale (as is the case with America) or on a smaller, geographic neighborhood scale (comparing Kenya to the Congo, for example).

Short of dropping into a science fiction show that allows us to see alternate realities, we can only assume how history would have progressed if certain events hadn’t happened.  England might still have hewed Protestant without Henry’s decision to break away.  Had that happened, though, it might well have been a more gradual, organic transition that didn’t result in a Civil War.  Under the same line of reasoning, England, once Protestant might have invited the Jews back, although perhaps not at such a pivotal time, one that coincided with the geographic expansion of European power.  And even without the Jews, Britain might have become an imperial giant.

All we do know is that things played out as they did.  And to the extent one believes that it was a good thing for the world that Britain, which was historically a more freedom-oriented country than its contemporaneous peers, then one must also believe that Richard III’s death, by paving the way for Henry VIII, was more important than his life.

Richard III's face

UPDATE: Andrew Roberts has more on the fact that Richard III was an effective, indeed good, monarch, while Henry VII had the sweaty sheen of a liar and opportunist.  Be that as it may — whether Richard was a murderer or a victim — the fact remains that his death paved the way for Henry VIII, and all the consequential changes that flowed from his passions.  (Additionally, one cannot avoid the fact that, while Henry VII is as likely a murderer of the princes as was Richard III, they did vanish on Richard’s watch….

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  1. MorowbieJukes says

    Josephine Tey in her very brief but compelling mystery novel “The Daughter of Time” builds a convincing argument from known facts that it was Henry VII who murdered the princes. 

  2. says

    That’s entirely possible — and I wouldn’t put it past him.  But there’s no doubt that they vanished during Richard’s, so he’s an equally likely culprit.  Medieval kings (or wannabes) weren’t above getting their hands dirty.

  3. says

    Yikes!!  BW…’re a LAWYER, right?
    Please don’t opine on who is more or less likely to have murdered the princes until you’ve actually looked at the evidence.
    MorowbieJukes is correct – Josephine Tey’s mystery novel, The Daughter of Time, uses the historical facts to develop a compelling case against Henry VII, and shows clearly why the death of the princes was NOT in Richard’s best interest.  I don’t know that Henry could be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, but there’s no question in my mind that Richard would be acquitted in any fair trial.
    The quality of Tey’s book is highlighted by the fact that it was first printed in 1951, and a new hardcover edition just came out in 2011.  You can find it here:
    I can’t find an Amazon link on BW’s page, so you could go to and buy it through his link to put a little money in his pocket – it costs you no more.
    If you want to know more about The Daughter of Time before buying, just check out the editorial reviews and part of the first chapter, here:
    Wikipedia has a good page about the novel, as well:
    Buy the book – or get it from the library – it’s a GREAT read!

  4. says

    Every time we watch an episode of The Tudors I have to let loose with my frustration: These are the boring people from English history. Yes, H8 is important for all the reasons you give. But that just about covers it. This doesn’t compare with the drama involved with a couple of juvenile skeletons recovered from a tower in the 17th century, with a sinister legend from the 15th century to match.
    I’ve been saying it for years: They should make one about Katherine d’Valois and her secret studly horse-stable-cleaner husband Owen Tudor, Henry’s grandfather. Chicks would love it. And you’ve got the macabre angle to it as well, with Samuel Pepys planting a bit wet sloppy kiss on her mummified lips some 230 years after her demise.
    Henry and his six wives, are just plain boring.

  5. jj says

    A little digression into history.  History’s an odd sort of thing, and I’ve often found myself wondering about various “official” versions of events.  In part this is probably based on my own familial access to a few “actual” stories as opposed to “official” ones of the last century, and in part it’s probably a result of native skepticism – though that may itself be a consequence of the above.  Anyway, I’ve always believed – at least to an extent – in the atmospherics of the moment.  (A moment: any moment.)  In other words, put simply: what were the people around the event doing?  (Keep an eye on the dog in the night-time.)
    Givens.  Henry Tudor and Richard III did not remotely have more or less equal claims to the throne.  Owen Tudor (Henry’s grandfather) got lucky with the widow of Henry V, Catherine of Valois.  Owen was lucky, Catherine was not: she got pregnant.  Since she was the mother of Henry VI, this offspring, Edmund Tudor, was his half-brother.  Henry probably said: “Jesus, Ma – get a grip!” – but since he was the king he couldn’t have his new half-brother sweeping up the stables (which was basically what Owen Tudor had been doing ’till he caught Catherine’s eye), so he invented a title for him and created him Earl of Richmond.  So Edmund, now that he was an earl, legitimized, and not cleaning the stables, was able to marry Margaret Beaufort, only child of John  Beaufort, Duke of Somerset.  Henry was their kid, and his “claim” to the throne, which was a micron away from being a complete joke, was based on his grandmother’s bloodline – a bloodline from which he was a second generation bastard.  There were 11,742 people ahead of him, all with better claims.
    Richard, by contrast, was descended (by blood, not by anybody being nice and legitimizing him) from Edward III.  Amongst his great-uncles, uncles, and cousins you will find Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI of England.  You will also find Henry III (king of of Castile and Leon), John I (king of Portugal), and Eric (king of Denmark).  You will also of course find his older brother, Edward IV.  Richard was, by blood, Somebody.  The Tudors were nobody.  They only existed at all because Henry VI didn’t execute Owen for bopping his mother – and she wouldn’t let him drown the result: Edmund.
    Okay – those are the known facts as regards descent.  Now we get to the more interesting stuff.  Atmospherics.  What people were doing.  What they were doing when Richard was a little kid was fighting.  He was the youngest of eleven kids, and he and his next oldest brother George needed a place to go and get their heads down, so they were boarded out to one of the world’s most fascinating families: the Pastons.  The result of this is that we know a lot about the childhood of the boys, and one thing we know about them is that their family was tight.  Engaged in assembling an army, raising money, conducting battles and skirmishes on his way to the crown, you could say their older brother Edward was busy.  Didn’t matter: he made time to come and see his younger brothers George and Richard every day.  He was not ever too busy for family.  And Richard adored him.  We know all this because of the Pastons, and their incessant letter-writing.  Atmospherics: everybody liked Richard.  His older brothers loved him.  The Pastons loved him.  He wasn’t the weird, misshapen, withdrawn little spider hiding in the corner brooding.  Life with the Pastons did another thing for him, too: he was the last king of England who had any experience of what life was like in a normal, English, home.  He was much better acquainted with life is it was lived than Prince Charles is today.  Depending on the fortunes of the moment, the Pastons orbited between solid middle class, and upper middle class: they were real people.
    When brother Edward became Edward IV, his most important ally was his brother Richard, who was a military piece of work.  By the time he was 17 he was a brigadier, and he was a 4-star at 24.  He was a very good fighter and leader.  While Edward consolidated the politics in the south and in the capital, Richard held the north, physically controlling most of England.  (Richard stands accused of the murders of Henry VI and Edward, Prince of Wales – but that’s a bit of special pleading.  The evidence is ephemeral, and comes from the Tudor apologists, the sainted More, who was eight years old when Richard died – (and for whom I personally have no use), and Polydore Vergil, who wasn’t there either.  The accounts of people who were there are pretty certain the Prince died fighting.)
    Atmospherics.  Edward trusted him.  Edward made him not merely responsible for his sons, he also made him Lord Protector of England.  Edward trusted him because he knew him, and also because he had tested him many times.  There were plenty of occasions when Edward was out in the woods, or in a clearing in the middle of nowhere, or in a room all by himself, wholly in Richard’s hands.  Surrounded by guys loyal to Richard – not Edward.  Edward knew that – it never worried him.  Never a problem.  Richard could have had the crown for himself fifty times if he’d wanted it: it was his army.  (It’s quite fair, and not far from perfectly true to say that Edward’s army was Richard.)  Edward knew him better than anybody, and as he aged Edward’s reaction was to trust him more and more and more.  Was Edward a dope?  Was Richard that good a dissembler over a period of years?
    By all accounts, going back to his childhood with the Pastons right up until the end, Richard was an abnormally – for the times – civilized sort of person.  He really was a good administrator: he ran the North and did it excellently.  Atmospherics again: even his worst detractors (More among them) admit freely that he was devoted to Edward.  They were together in everything from the time he took command of his first troop at the age of 12 until Edward’s death.  And even his worst detractors say if he was devoted to anything other than his brother, it was to his wife Anne Nevill.  He treated her in a manner that was extraordinary for the time.
    Okay.  Edward IV dies 4/9/1483 in London.  His eldest son is away from home studying under the queen’s brother.  (The queen was Elizabeth Grey, daughter of Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers.  If you know anything of English history you look at the name Woodville, and you go: “oh, Christ…” – and you’re right.)  So, Edward dies and Rivers has control of young Edward V.  Richard’s on the Scottish border, about as far from the action as you can be.  Does he immediately round up some of the boys and go roaring off to London?  No, he does not.  He rides down to York, where he holds a requiem mass to which all the nobility of the north were summoned, and when it ends he has them all swear an oath of loyalty to the young prince.  On April 24th, Rivers starts out for London with the young prince – and an escort of 2,000 heavily armed men.  Woodville men.  Meanwhile, in London, the elder of the Queen’s sons by her first marriage, Dorset, takes control of the arsenal and the treasury in the Tower, and starts fitting out ships to control the Channel.  Let it be noted all this is done in the names of Rivers and Dorset, uncle and grandpa of the king.  No mention of Richard, who was, let us remember, Lord Protector of both Realm and the boys.  Atmospherics.  Richard starts south with a retinue, not an army such as Rivers has.  Friend of Edward’s, Buckingham, barrels north with 300 of his own guys to meet Richard at Northampton and tells him he better get moving, because the south is lousy with Woodvilles.  Richard does, arrests Rivers, and goes on with the young prince to London where they arrive 5/4.  More atmospherics: What has Richard done so far?  Exactly what you’d expect from an honorable guy: he allows time to deal with his own and everybody else’s sorrow, and he cares for the boy.  First things he does: a requiem mass, and an oath of allegiance.
    Oh, and interestingly enough, when he got to London he was hit by some atmospherics.  The Queen, the younger boy (Prince Edward’s brother, the other little prince), the daughters, and the first-marriage son Dorset were all hiding out at Westminster, claiming sanctuary at the Abbey!  Hmmmm…  Richard drops off the prince with the Bishop at St. Paul’s (the original one, no dome), and he goes to stay with his mother at the York town-house, Baynard’s Castle.  More atmospherics: Does this really look like a man who wants to scrag the kid and take over?  (June 5th Richard’s adored wife arrived in London, and he went to stay with her in Crosby Place – in Chelsea.  Atmospherics: he brought the kid alive and well to town, promptly relinquished control of him to the Bish, and now moves himself even farther away from the Prince, out into the country to be with his wife.  Obviously this guy is just lusting to grab the throne! He busies himself arranging the young Prince’s coronation for June 22 – and there exists a record of the order for the boy’s clothes.  Atmospherics.
    Anyway, on we go from there.  It’s 90% whole cloth and BS, perpetuated by Vergil, More, and Shakespeare, all of whom owed their asses to various Tudors.  There’s a lot more, most of it evidence that Richard didn’t do anything, but that’s enough space eaten up here.
    On a final note, for me, the last and perhaps most telling bit of atmospherics: nobody said a word about it.  Most of all, Henry VII never said a word about it.  Remember who Henry was.  A nobody, who needed every bit of weight he could swing for his accession to work.  The country at large had no idea who the hell he was, and he had zero blood-right to the throne to show them.  After Bosworth, Henry stood up in front of Parliament and delivered a Bill of Attainder against Richard.  This was his opportunity to justify himself, and maybe look like he had some right to be there.  He was succeeding a man of great reputation, known personally to people from Wales to Scotland, a man universally liked and admired – until the disappearance of his nephews.  History says that the murders caused great revulsion of feeling against Richard, that he was hated for the crime by the common people of England.  So now Richard’s dead, his friends and followers in flight or exile, and Henry’s free to say whatever he chooses to justify himself.  And his Bill of Attainder is a wicked one, it accuses Richard of every kind of crime you could imagine, from robbing blind beggars to kicking little old ladies’ pet puppies, and stealing candy from cribs.  And yet, when this long, involved, detailed tale of all Richard’s wrongdoing is laid before Parliament – not a word about the most odious double murder ever committed by the hand of man.  Silence on the subject.  Not even as an afterthought does Henry say: “oh yeah – and he killed the kids.”  It just doesn’t come up.  The most spectacular “gimme” in the history of the western world, which all by itself would have gotten the entirely unscrupulous Henry about 80% of the justification he needed to stand there and claim to be king – and he doesn’t mention it.
    There’s no way to prove anything at this remove, but the atmospherics – what the people around the situation were doing at the time – seems to me to pretty much exonerate Richard.  The only thing he ever did was be, perhaps, too honorable.  He exonerated Lord Stanley for being part of the gang that wanted to kill him, and he only lost at Bosworth two years later because Stanley turned traitor.  (I’d have executed Stanley earlier without a second thought.)  Oh, and Hastings, who was executed?  Isn’t that a great scene More writes, kill him before dinner, I can’t eat while he lives or however Shakespeare put it?  Great stuff.  In reality Hastings was executed a week later after he was taken up for being the leader of the plot.  Richard was an old friend, and he hated executing Hastings – as even More admits.  And he granted Hastings’ forfeited estates to his widow, and restored the children’s right of succession to them. 
    Hateful guy.  Awful person – worst Englishman who ever lived.

  6. says

    It’s more than just Shakespeare owing his ass to the Tudors. Richard was appointed Lord Protector and guardian of the Princes in June 1483, after his brother Edward died two months earlier, and by August it’s almost certain the boys were dead. Elizabeth Woodville seems to have thought so.
    You’re right that Richard had a stronger claim to the throne, but it’s a comparison of apples and oranges. The male lines of both Lancaster and York had died off, with Henry being the first among the heirs through the female line, pretty much through direct descent, right? — after the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, and Richard being the last among the male heirs, of the York dynasty.
    Yes things look pretty suspicious with all these butterfly-shaped family trees. But it was a bloody period of civil unrest, and the aristocratic families were having litters of 12-or-more kids apiece, pretty much to accommodate this and, I think, in the wake of the Black Death. So it’s to be expected. It doesn’t necessarily reflect on the scurrilous motives of the potentials heirs.

  7. says

    mkfreeberg: Did you read jj’s post?  If so, how can your response be that it wasn’t just Shakespeare?  No one says that there’s a slam-dunk case to be made against either of these guys….but there is NO objective evidence that the kids were killed before Richard died.  I’d love for you to expand on the story about what Elizabeth Woodville thought, although I’m not sure of the value of her testimony, in any case. Can you really present her as a non-interested witness?  Finally, Henry had all the access he needed once he had won the battle and made it on down to London.
    jj: Thank you for that fascinating exposition of more of the history — a number of things I’d never heard before.  It’s quite clear to me, as I said earlier, that Richard would be acquitted in any reasonable court of law.
    And no….that doesn’t “prove” that he’s innocent.  But, history had judged him guilty on flimsy evidence and the testimony of those who had reason to be his enemies, and I’m happy to see some balance added.

  8. KellyM says

    Although a well-mined subject, Richard III’s previous generations certainly offer plenty of grist for the mill.  
    Start with an 8 year old girl shipped to Germany to ultimately become Empress at the ripe old age of 14 and a widow by 25, an ill-fated booze cruise that takes the life of her brother and heir to the throne of England – an event that literally changes the course of history – followed by a recall from Germany so as to be moved about on the political chessboard. Can you imagine the familial fireworks that must have erupted when Matilda was informed by her father that, oh, by the way, here’s a new husband but he’s only 14 so you’ll have to sit tight and wait. What??? You made me leave Germany for this??
    Toss in an expected death and a subsequent struggle between cousins as to who will be the legitimate successor, with one doing a flit in the middle of the night to capture the treasury and give the other the medieval equivalent of the middle finger and I’d say you’ve got some drama. 

  9. says

    In all seriousness though. I can certainly appreciate that pretty much everyone who put pen to paper 1485-1603 had an interest in making the Tudors look good, and we should take that with a large grain of salt, I get all that.
    I still can’t get past the fact that nobody saw anything of the Princes between June 1483 and August 1485. That information is still current today, right?

  10. jj says

    As I thought I made abundantly clear, I don’t actually give a (insert whatever you like) about what any of the Woodvilles thought.  Ever.  At any time.  The Woodvilles infested English history like cockroaches for far too long, a boil on the butt of the nation.  They were the living demonstration of the proposition that excrement floats.  They were about on a par with Owen Tudor – an inch above peasantry – when the Wars of the Roses began, and by dint of lying, thieving, murdering, and large fruity dollops of sleaze, by the time of Edward IV’s accession they were landed gentry.  Amazing!  Of course they stole the land and possessed zero gentility, but history loves a winner!  I, on the other hand, am not guaranteed to: and there is no possibility I could care less than I do what Elizabeth Woodville thought, even if you grant she was capable of actual thought.  (“Scheming,” yes – “thinking,” no.)
    I don’t know if Richard did it or not (or had Tyrrel do it) – and neither do you, but most of the evidence afforded by his life-long pattern of behavior would indicate he did not.  (And we know much more about him, thanks to the Paston letters, than we do about most of them.  We get to see his character being formed in his youth.)  Was he capable of it?  Sure.  But it would have been very out of character for him.  It also would have been just dopey in a dynastic sense, because there was no guarantee he’d end up with the crown: he had older siblings.  They stood aside – but he didn’t know ahead of time they would.  Seems unlikely, despite the Tudor apologists.

  11. jj says

    Oh yeah, forgot.  Mkfreeberg?  Edward IV appointed his brother Lord Protector, and did it a couple of years before he died.  And, unusually, he made Richard sole Protector: he wasn’t required even to consult with anyone.  Nobody but him could do that, and nobody did do it after he died.

  12. says

    Got to hand it to you. I wouldn’t even know how to work up that much passion either for or against any of these dead old English people from five centuries ago.
    But it’s a lot more than just the Woodvilles.
    Now if we can come up with ANY evidence that the Princes were seen alive in the last two years of Richard’s life, I’d be persuaded to re-think things. But that’s an awfully long time not to hear from someone in the royal family, who in every technical sense would be ahead of the Lord Protector in the line of succession. Unless the entire country decided to cast them aside because it became popular to believe the thing about Cecily Neville messing around with the Archer and conceiving Edward out of wedlock…which I was not under the impression ever gained popularity. So for Henry to have dispatched the Princes, they have to 1) live onward until after the Battle of Bosworth, without ANYONE ever hearing of them, as many contemporaries are recording their specific complaints that they hadn’t seen them; or, 2) before the Battle, this punk Lancastrian nobody kid snuck in to this locked-up tower, where the real King Edward V was being kept, murdered him and his kid brother, then ran off laughing maniacally, making a mental note that he must find a way someday to deal with the hunchback Lord Protector.
    I have the impression you’re putting your belief in 1), you don’t seem to be saying 2). Both, however, struggle with significant problems.

  13. says

    “I still can’t get past the fact that nobody saw anything of the Princes between June 1483 and August 1485.”
    I don’t know if “That information is still current today” or not.  Neither does it matter to me.  Who on earth, once Henry was crowned, would have come out and said something like “Hey, wait!  I talked with those boys half a dozen times when they were out practicing archery on the parade ground of the Tower back in 1484 and early 1485.  What could have happened to them?”  Or written it in his/her diary – what would have been the upside?
    You see the problem with contemporary records…..?  Whistle-blowers were few and far between back then, because they ended up really miserable, and then dead, and it was a LOT easier to expunge the record in the days before screen captures, giant hard drives, etc.
    I think jj is correct — the only thing we can do is gather as much information as possible, assess its reliability, and taking into consideration the times in which they lived, make a judgment about the odds of one guy or the other.  We will never “know”…but I’m convinced that if Richard did it, he was acting against his own interests, and also out of everything we know about his character.
    And it was AWFULLY convenient to Henry to have those two boys gone, now, wasn’t it?  What a lucky stroke that horrible Richard murdered them, even though they were no threat to him, at all.

    • says

      I love you guys! Contrary to what all of you might think, there is nothing ordinary about a discussion of this caliber. The knowledge and passion that you bring to it is exciting and downright inspiring. I feel truly blessed to have such erudite and interesting people contribute so enthusiastically to my blog. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  14. says

    I see where you’re going with it, but there’s a contradiction in what you offer that I find unworkable:
    Henry Tudor is supposed to be — and this is key to part of the case you are offering — a “nobody.” Your theory rests on this “nobody” somehow having the power to unilaterally determine that nobody should see anything of these two boys, who are in fact alive, practicing archery or whatever.
    For two full years. Before the battle. While he’s still a nobody.

  15. says

    I suspect that a LOT of “revising and extending of remarks” went on after 1485.  I’m suspicious about all the “contemporary evidence” of the absence of the kids…could be wrong, of course.  Maybe it’s all good.
    Cui bono appears to me to be the key to the mystery.  What was the benefit to Richard of the death of the boys?  He had a better claim to the throne, was on it, and was accepted by his subjects. 
    And Henry……?
    The Daughter of Time dealt with this rather well, I thought.

  16. says

    Well, that’s a good question about the Princes strengthening Richard’s standing. I could see it going both ways. According to what I read before though, Richard had something to do with the slander against his mother. I thought it was pretty well established George Duke of Clarence was mixed up in that, and I thought Richard had an even more direct hand in it. This would create problems for the idea that Richard’s fortunes were invested with, as opposed to conflicted with, the sons of his brother Edward.
    I wish I had access to this stuff I’d read previously. I’m not denying what you guys are saying is possible, I just think there’s some confusion between the possible and the probable.

  17. lee says

    My mom and I were talking about this, and eventually, it got us to a discussion of Edward II. I would LOVE to read anything jj has to write about Edward II… I know it’s a change of topics, but… Well, JJ? ;-)

  18. Qzsusy says

    I seem to remember that, once Henry VII took the throne, many remaining relatives of the Yorks suddenly found themselves dead. 
    Also, as Earl said: “Whistleblowers were few and far between back then…ended up dead.” No wonder there is no contemporary evidence that Henry VII “done” it.

  19. jj says

    No – you’re forgetting that Edmund Tudor wasn’t really a nobody.  In a dynastic right-to-the-throne sense he was indeed nobody – but he wasn’t, because don’t forget after his father knocked up Catherine (with him) his half-brother was the king.  Henry VI couldn’t have an illegitimate stable-boy from the slums as his half-brother, and his mother wouldn’t let him kill them and just eliminate the problem – so he ennobled the riff-raff, making Edmund Tudor the Earl of Richmond.  However: Edmund Tudor died 11/3/1456, three months before his kid, Henry VII, was born.  His mother, Margaret Beaufort, sought the protection – such as it was – of her brother-in-law Jasper Tudor.  He was Constable of Pembroke Castle for the Lancastrians (which means he was another Tudor nobody, basically in charge of the maintenance crew that lived in and kept up the castle while nobody was there), and that’s where Henry was born and spent his early years.  The castle was captured by the Yorkists in September 1461 by Lord Herber5t, who acquired a minor sort of asset in young Henry, and Herbert sold his custody and marriage.  Henry was 5, this basically changed nothing about his life, which continued at either Pembroke or Raglan (Herbert’s castle) for the next few years. 
    His mom, let it be noted – and never forgotten – was gone, doing what she did best: she married Henry Stafford, who died in 1471, then married Thomas, Lord Stanley.  Now there’s a funny thing… that’s the Stanley who turned traitor and conspired against Richard with Hastings.  Richard executed Hastings and let Stanley live – which, as noted above, I damned well would not have.  And then, a couple of years later, that’s the same Stanley who turned traitor during the battle of Bosworth, collapsing Richard’s right wing and costing Richard the battle, the crown, and his life.  And since 1472 Stanley was married to Margaret Beaufort – mother of (pause for trumpets and a hearty “A-ha!”) Henry VII!  Well, I’ll be_______ (fill in the blank.)
    So – back to young five year old Henry at raglan, where Lord and Lady Herbert proved to be kind foster parents, instead of stepping on his throat.  They educated him, and intended him for their daughter Maud.  Then the Lancastrian star rose, Henry VI got back on the throne, and Jasper Tudor was back in business as his servant, and brought his nephew Henry to London to meet the king in 1470.  In 1471 he returned to Wales with uncle Jasper, who had received a commission from Henry VI to go round up some Welshmen to fight for the Lancastrian forces.  Then came Barnet and Tewkesbury, and the Lancastrians were done.  Henry and Jasper were besieged in Pembroke, but allowed to escape, and ran for France – where Henry spent the next thirteen years. 
    So he wasn’t having anything to say about anybody seeing or not seeing or anything else anybody in the Tower, or anywhere else in England.  He was hiding behind a tree in Brittany, hoping not to be noticed.  Edward IV, who routinely referred to young Henry as “the only imp now left of Henry’s brood” tried to get him sent back a few times, but failed.  (“Only imp left of Henry’s brood” doesn’t imply a blood relationship: Edward meant this kid was the last Lancastrian.  Henry VI was a Lancastrian.)
    Now, what we haven’t mentioned so far has been the issue of Edward and girls.  Edward liked girls.  Edward liked lots of girls – he was the most female-infested king in English history.  Probably, like many a laddie has done since – quite possible before, too – Edward offered marriage as an inducement to more than one of them as he progressed through them, too.  So we come to the events of 1483, when the Bishop of Bath and Wells, a fellow named Stillington, broke the interesting news in Council that he had helped out Edward a few years earlier.  Edward had arrived at a fortress of unassailable virtue he couldn’t conquer, so he enlisted Stillington as the handiest clergyman and married Lady Eleanor Butler, a daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury.  Before he married Lizzie Woodville.  Which he did without divorcing or putting away Eleanor Butler.  (The fact of the matter is, Edward had done this a couple of times: we knhow – or think we know – of four marriages, with not a single divorce or annulment among them.  Edward liked girls, and occasionally nothing but marriage will do.)
    But – Eleanor Butler had consequences.  On 22 June 1483 Dr. Shaw, of sainted memory, preached a sermon at St. Paul’s Cross in London declaring Edward IV’s marriage to Liz invalid, and their children bastards.  he based this on information received from Brother Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells.  As a result of this, Parliament offered the crown to Richard, and he was proclaimed king on 26 June.
    Atmospherics.  This is what the other people were doing: offering him the crown.  So what need did he have to kill anyone to get it?  In his entire life his habit had been to forgive (too often the wrong people) and forget.  Wouldn’t you suppose that on the basis of everything we know about him, he would have been more likely to have fostered the kids than kill them?  
    To finish the story, Richard and Anne  king and queen 26 June 1483.  His wife was Anne Nevill.  He adored her.  He was not embarrassed to express his love and regard for her in public – not something men did back then, particularly powerful men.  There is one known portrait of her, and in it she has long, flowing hair and a serene and happy expression which belies the Tudor BS about Richard’s ill-treatment and neglect.  Her only issue was poor health: she was consumptive.  (Which means she had TB.)  Richard’s son, another Edward, Prince of Wales, died at the age of ten on 9 April 1484 – which occasioned national mourning (the English people liked Richard – which the Tudor apologists have managed to make most of us forget), and Anne herself died a year later on 16 March 1485.
    Henry Tudor landed in Milford Haven 7 August 1485 and traveled through Wales – his old stomping ground – gathering support.  Battle was joined the morning of 22 August near Market Bosworth.  The turning point of the battle came when Stanley, husband of Henry’s mommy, and his 7,000 men deserted Richard and went over to Henry.  Obviously Richard should have killed him years earlier instead of trusting him with anything.
    But that was the story of Richard’s life.  He didn’t kill people if he could find a way not to.  He did execute Hastings – but he saved and restored his family.  No vengeance.  He didn’t kill Dorset or Elizabeth Woodville for conspiring to steal the Prince and establish themselves for whatever they could get out of it.  (He did kill Dorset’s father, Earl Rivers – which is what you should do with Woodvilles when you come across them.)  And we’ll never know who did or didn’t see the kids in the Tower in what are supposed to be their last months.  You won’t find out: the Lancastrian defenders and Tudor apologists captured history and anybody’s non-PC recollections were excised from the story.  But the pattern of Richard’s entire life argues against the idea that he killed them.  And Tyrrell’s story (he alleges himself the trigger-man) twenty years later was obviously bogus.
    Richard was already the king.  The kids were attainted as bastards.  Why kill them?  It goes against the behavior of his entire life.  And, for me, the biggest thing remains: Henry didn’t accuse him of having done it.  That’s a hell of an omission.

  20. jj says

    Lee: you have to work against wishing to take me down these tangents – because I go there all too readily and will burn Bookworm’s patience (and space) to a frazzle.
    But since we’re sort of Wars of the Roses-ing, a bit of Edward II.  I don’t know what there is to say about him that everybody doesn’t know, and of course it’s the death-scene everyone’s interested in – we’re all ghouls – but there have been some new developments there, too.
    First thing is it helps to keep in mind where he came from.  His father was Edward I (duh), who may well have been the outstanding English king of the Middle Ages.  Giant shoes.  He was a good soldier and a wise statesman in an age when those two attributes only rarely coincided.  (In fact the only one on a par with him might well have turned out to be Richard III, who was cut off too soon to know.)  Edward I initiated a lot of the constitutional reforms that laid the foundations for parliamentary government. 
    He had 18 legitimate children, which is the record.  His grandson, Edward III had 12, and Edward IV – father of the princes in the Tower and brother of Richard III – had 10 legitimate offspring.  (And maybe 40 illegitimate ones, we’ll never know.  The princes in the Tower had 1 brother and 7 sisters.  One sister turned out to be Henry VII’s queen, in a fairly obvious attempt to legitimize him; another was wife to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, who had to tolerate both Henry VII and Henry VIII.  There’s a motive for regicide.  Funny she never tried.
    However.  Edward II.  Classic case of a weak kid following a strong dad.  He was the 13th of the 18 kids sired by his father, the only surviving boy up to the time of his own birth.  (Two later brothers survived him.  If he died when we always thought he did.)  He was born at Caernarvon Castle, in Wales.  There is a lovely legend of his father presenting him on his shield to the people of Wales and announcing that here was a Prince of Wales actually from Wales, who couldn’t speak a word of English.  Well, at the age this allegedly happened – about a month old – he couldn’t speak a word of anything else, either – but the story’s BS to begin with.  Edward didn’t become heir apparent until he was four months old, when his older brother Alfonso, Earl of Chester, died.  He wasn’t created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester until 1301 – when he was 17.
    Another digression into Edward I.  He loved his first wife, with whom he had 15 of the 18.  He dragged her everywhere with him, contrary to the more usual woman-stays-at-home stuff.  (She was Eleanor, daughter of Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon.  They were married in Spain.)  1st child (Eleanor) born in Windsor.  2nd child (Joan) born we have no idea.  3rd child (John) born in Winchester.  4th child (Henry) back in Windsor.  5th child (Julian) born in the Holy Land somewhere.  (Edward dragged his wife to the Crusades!)  6th child (Joan) born in Acre, in Palestine.  7th child (Alfonso) born in Bordeaux, France.  8th child (Margaret) back home in Windsor.  9th child (Berengaria) born in Kennington.  10th child (Mary) back at Windsor.  11th child (Alice) born in Woodstock.  12th child (Elizabeth) born in Rhuddlan.  13th child (Edward) born in Wales, as noted.  14th child (Beatrice) born in Aquitaine.  15th child (Blanche) no idea, but someplace in mainland Europe, not England.  End of the line for Queen Eleanor, who must have been the toughest female on the planet.
    Edward II was six when she died, and his father didn’t remarry for nine years, so he went without parental input – or, I suppose, “guidance” – from 6 to 15: much of the formative years.  He was a lonely kid, surrounded by the ghosts of dead siblings, desperate for companions of his own age and a predilection for those of his own sex.  Like many a lonely kid – up to and including the present Prince of Wales, who had a childhood you wouldn’t want to touch with a barge-pole – he was surrounded by older people: tutors, servants, instructors, etc.  Everything but friends.  No friends.
    He chose his favorites really badly.  (As has, I have heard it argued, the present Prince of Wales; though he unquestionably likes ladies.)  The first and most famous of Edward’s inappropriate favorites was Piers Gaveston, a Gascon of good family who became Edward’s inseparable companion.  He pissed off everybody at Court by the free use of his sharp, sharp tongue, and endless store of inventive and sarcastic nicknames for all the members of the court.  Things got so raw that Edward I (Biog Daddy), not long before he died, banished Piers.  The minute Edward I was in the ground, however, Edward II brought him back, made him Earl of Cornwall, and moved him right in.  Ultimately this was not smart.
    Edward had been betrothed to Isabella of France from his youth, and he sailed off to pick her up in January of 1308 – leaving Gaveston in charge of the realm during his absence.  He married Isabella in Boulogne, and when the two of them returned to England Gaveston and Edward greeted each other with such slobbering affection that it completely grossed out everybody – especially the new Queen and her two uncles that had accompanied them.
    Gaveston further offended everybody at the coronation on 25 February, when he carried Edward’s crown in the procession, but did so dressed in purple velvet and pearls, far and away the most sumptuously attired person there.  Edward’s cousins, assigned to much lesser roles, were annoyed and nearly came to blows with Gaverston right there in the cathedral.  Everyone was further annoyed when Gaveston bungled the arrangements for the post-coronation banquet, which emerged from the kitchens badly cooked and late: not served until after dark.
    Feeling against Gaveston was now running so hot that Edward found it politic to send him to Ireland for a while, so the court could cool off a little.  He also married him to his niece Margaret, which must have been fun.  The exile didn’t last long though, as Edward found himself unable to go on without Piers being around the palace, so he brought him back.  For the next three years Gaveston managed to annoy everybody to the point where Guy, Earl of Warwick, kidnapped him and murdered him in June 1312.
    Edward had already spotted that he was on thin ice, rapidly thinning, so he’d turned his attention – some of it – to his wife, and done some part of his duty.  The child who would be Edward III was born in November of 1312.
    The new favorite arrived in 1313, Hugh le Despenser, who was appointed the King’s Chamberlain.  His father was Hugh le D. the elder, Earl of Winchester, and they had been supporters (maybe) of Gaveston.  (I say ‘maybe’ because prancing around with Gaveston was a certain way to gain Edward’s favor, and they may just have been being politic.)  These two supported Edward against the coalition of nobles, the so-called ‘Lords Ordainers’ who had constituted themselves a coalition in 1310.
    In 1314, feeling a little shaky, Edward decided to demonstrate how tough he was and took up arms against Scotland, to finish his father’s Scottish campaign.  He looked good marching up there, but when he arrived Robert the Bruce handed him his ass at Bannockburn, and that was the end of the (rather short) martial phase of his life.  Recognizing that things were really bad, he turned back to his wife, and John was born in August 1316; Eleanor followed in June 1318; and Joan was born in 1321.  (Which was not terrible: four kids.  Not a lot by Medieval standards, but still: not bad.)  
    Meanwhile, the le Despensers were intriguing against the Queen (Isabella of France) to such good effect that Edward deprived her of her estates in 1324.  That was that, and she left for France in 1325 with Roger Mortimer, who became her lover.  She raised an army, mostly from Germany and the Low countries, and returned to England in 1326, and Edward discovered you can only offend pretty much everyone for just so long, and then it catches up with you.  She swept everyone before her – or along with her – captured and executed the Despensers, and captured and imprisoned Edward in Berkeley Castle, forcing him to abdicate in favor of his oldest son Edward III, then 14 years old.
    Edward’s wend at the hands of his jailers (or gaolers) in 1327 was not good, and is the stuff of which legends are made.  Everybody’s fascinated with it, though (Lee?), so here goes, according to the chronicler Holinshed:  With heavy feather beds or a table (as some write) being cast upon him they kept him down… put into his fundament an horn and through the same they thrust up into his body a hot spit or (as others have) through the pipe of a trumpet, a plumbers instrument of iron made very hot, the which passing up into his entrailes (sic) and rolled to and fro burnt the same, but so as no appearance of any wound or hurt outwardlie (sic) might be perceived.
    They then told him every buggery joke they could come up with, and let him up to run around screaming from the internal burns, which of course no matter where he ran he couldn’t escape, until he died.  Original, and imaginative.  Apparently you could hear him screaming from one end of Berkeley Castle to the other.  Berkeley’s a pretty  bug place, too – and still quite lovely.  One of the picturesque castles, like Leeds, you can rent it for weddings.  It’ll effortlessly accommodate you and 500 of your friends.  Of course it’s said to be haunted, you can still hear him screaming…
    He was taken to Gloucester Cathedral for burial, and a fine effigy was raised over his tomb by his son, Edward III.  (It really is a gorgeous tomb, too.  The effigy’s extraordinary.  he looks good.)  Popular disgust at the manner of his death caused his tomb to become the center of a popular cult, and the offerings of the pilgrims were sufficient to enable the rebuilding of the cathedral choir.  Go figure.
    Now – history gets interesting.  Here’s the thing about Edward’s death: either he died there in Berkeley in the manner described – or he didn’t.  Ian Mortimer, whom I regard as a pretty damn good historian (a source to whom I have frequent recourse) and who doesn’t, so far as I know, claim to be one of ‘those’ Mortimers – including Isabella’s boyfriend Roger – who’ve been around forever and were occasionally pestilential, as were the Woodvilles (well, they were never anything but pestilential); the Seymours; the Grays; the Howards; the Dudleys – and a few others; wonders about that death.  he offers the theory that Edward II may not have died in Berkeley in 1327, as there’s evidence he regards as pretty good that Edward was alive in 1330.  I’m not going there.  This is already too long, and I’m exhausting Bookworm’s patience I’m sure.  So you go there.  The first few grafs Mortimer will teach you how history on his level is done, and then you may read about Edward. 

    • says

      jj: If you will write the history book, I will read it. I don’t just like your writing because you know things. I also like it because you have opinions about the things you know and you express those opinions colorfully. It makes everything you write lively and enjoyable to read. So, when you publish that book, do let me know.

  21. says

    There’s a very good HF book about Piers Gaveston – written by another indy writer (at least she started as an indy writer and was able to go mainstream because she was that good) – The Confession of Piers Gaveston, ( ) Yes, medieval English history did have its’ … er, interesting side. There was also another book that I recall – P.C. Doherty’s Death of a King – by a historian with a taste for writing interesting mysteries, which postulated that Edward II did not die at Berkeley Castle, but some years later, in an Italian monastry, IIRC.
    There’s all sorts of scope out there for writing interestingly sourced HF – and yes, compared to the Plantagenets, the Tudors were positively demure.

  22. jj says

    Sgt. Mom – that comes from the letter written by Manuel Fieschi to Edward III in 1336.  It was occasioned by the death of Cardinal Luca Fieschi (whose executor was his relative, Manuel) who was in fact a cousin of Edward’s.  (Both Edwards, obviously, since they were father and son.)  The Cardinal had met Edward II on a couple of occasions, and directed Manuel to write Edward III and bring him up to date about his father on his (Cardinal Luca’s) death.  Mortimer reprints the letter in the link above.

  23. lee says

    Thanks, jj! I agree with Bookworm. (Maybe you could start ablog on History of the English Monarchy… I’d get as addicted to that as I am to Bookworm Room!)
    My educational concentration was theater/literature, and I was specifically interested in the historical background. (Unfortunately, when I went on to grad school, that was considered so passe; the chic thing was theory. Vomit.) However, I was more modern than Marlowe, so only a shallow aquaintance with the actual history behind his play. (Np pun intended.)
    Before I write what I am about to write, I must say that I appreciated the Ian Mortimer link. Though I already was aware of what he wrote there, it was helpful to read specifically what he had to say. And I know he is write. But I always found that many other historians would get a little weasely about that. And that was the thing that drove me crazy about historians (and archeologists) that events may have happened or may not, but we can’t really say the uniequivocally happened without a, b, c. and… (archeologists are worse–if there’s no archeological evidence, then it may very well NOT have happened at all, and it’s all just fiction… Me, I blame the postmodernists… that’s such a PoMo thing… But back to my thought.)
    Since my area was twentieth century, and there is a LOT of information available about the twentieth century, I came to a conclusion: You still don’t know what has happened.
    The contemporaneous accounts are very often incorrect, and usually provided by the spinmeister to give it the spin he wants. And it frequently takes DECADES for the “true” story to come out. (A good example is illustrated by the recent article in the Atlantic on the Cuban Missile Crisis: )
    Even more “objective” accounts have some “spin” to them. (One of the things I frequently wrote about had to do with the politics of language. All language is political–you have to make political choices on a daily basis in the words and phrasing you use. Even if you are not specifically aware of the politics, you still make political choices. For someone who has no knowledge or interest in the “troubles” of Northern Ireland still makes a political choice when he mentions the second largest city in Northern Ireland on the River Foyle–is it Londonderry? Or Derry?)
    All of which makes me wonder about OLDER historical accounts. Many things I read about events such as the Edward II death, or the murder of the two princes, say that at the time, the contemporaneous accounts say “A,” but the more lurid accounts, “B” came out years later… Maybe history isn’t much different from modernity? It is pretty well accepted that Shakespeare had a vested interested in making Richard III look bad. But what about the people writing the contemporaneous accounts? Which side of their bread was buttered by whom? And even if we know with whom they associated, we still may not know what the heck they were thinking when they wrote their account. They may have actually hated the person buttering their bread and were looking for a passive-agressive way to undermine them.
    This all makes the twentieth century easier than a lot of earlier periods. And yet, it is still a bear to have ANY real certainty about anything you research! It can be DECADES before we have any real idea about what is BEHIND someone’s account of something. (Much less what the heck a playwright was thinking when he wrote a play. Because DECADES after he wrote it, he may give an interview to the Atlantic Monthly saying exactly what a professor reamed you for writing about his plays…)
    Thanks again, jj! EXTREMELY interesting!!! I LOVE reading it!

  24. Mike Devx says

    I agree with others: Thanks jj!  For the time you took to write many of the above comments, and your knowledge and opinions.
    The complexity of the relationships is bewildering to me at first read, given my ignorance.  I plan to read them all carefully and draw things out on paper, as well as begin with ‘Daughter Of Time’.  This *is* fascinating stuff.  Not sure which I will do first of those two activities.  I’ll bookmark this commentary page, and I have already received ‘Daughter of Time’ via Amazon.  I will enjoy these introductory activities to a period of history I know almost nothing about.

  25. jj says

    Thank you – we try to give good service!  I somehow have absurdly broad interests, and will be happy to fight with you on a wide variety of subjects!  I also digress a fair amount, entertaining myself, mostly – but if you’re entertained too, I’m pleased.  But keep in mind: I’m no expert either.  (And I am a believer in observing human behavior: look at what the people around the object of interest were doing and saying.  Mostly doing.  Straws do indeed show which way the wind is blowing.) 
    What we have today, I think – thanks to the internet and ready availability of books (as you say, Mike, a phone call to Amazon and it’s in your hands four days later) and references – is unparalleled access to the people who are experts.  We’re really the first generation to ever have both curiosity and such availability of information, opinion, etc. to gratify it.  That strikes me every now and then, that I have access – nearly instantaneous access – to pretty much everybody, every point of view, and every random thought – on pretty much everything.  Which is amazing!  Every now and then you have to stop, think back to your frustrating youth when you could never get hold of anything or even find out it existed, and just marvel.  (Or at least if you’re me you marvel – maybe I’m simple and easily pleased!)
    One thing I’ve done is build up a database over the years.  For example I have a cousin who has somewhat the same tastes and interests I do, who works in the catalog and mail room of Hatchards, in London.  (One of the world’s great bookstores.)  She turned me on to Ian Mortimer years ago, and has expanded my personal database to include little specialty bookshops and used bookshops all over greater London.  That fills in gaps I can’t fill in this country.  Anybody can build such a network of contacts nowadays – and that’s just astonishing.  (And handy!)   
    Lee – I told Danny once that we’re just now beginning to really find out about WWI and WWII, and there have been more good books (emphasis on the ‘good’) written on the subjects in the last decade of the 20th and the first decade 21st centuries than in the previous fifty years, including right after either war ended.  The reason is because it takes time: you have to wait for people whose reputations need protecting to die, and for their descendants to finally suck it up and say: “OK, release the diaries.  Yes, it’ll make Uncle George look like a jackass, but he’s gone now; so’s Aunt Minnie, so’s Cousin Mike; and we owe it to history to say what really happened.”  The Official Secrets Act – which bound my father for years – has to have time to expire.  You hope stuff comes out – sometimes it never does.  My father would be the splendid exemplar of that.  (Yes, Pearl Harbor was phony.)
    Anyway, it’s always fun.  You’re all most kind – and feel free to disagree!  As I said: I’m no (well, very rarely an) expert!  

  26. Spartacus says

    jj — Not to burden your time or start a whole new thread or anything, but in what way do you mean that Pearl Harbor was phony?
    My own working hypothesis, based largely on FDR’s immediate reaction on hearing the news and what Frances Perkins said he had said about the Japanese Fleet in a cabinet meeting, is that he didn’t *exactly* know that an attack was coming, but on hearing the news, he realized that all of the pieces of the puzzle had been right in front of him (and heck, the Navy may well have even arranged the pieces for him), but he brushed it off.  Hence the immediate reaction of blamestorming.  But I’d love to hear any additional info!

  27. jj says

    They knew it.  Quite precisely.  (Well – a very small circle of people knew it.)  The Japanese fleet that went missing, and carried out the mission, wasn’t missing: there were those who tracked it every inch of the way and knew exactly where it was.  There is no new information, no new documentation, no new nothing: it’s not at all susceptible of proof.  Just the word of someone who knew, and was absolutely in a position to know – but was also an expert at maintaining a closed mouth.  As were the others in that small circle.  I offer you absolutely nothing to back up the assertion: there is nothing.  I simply tell you.  A report from a primary source.  Feel free to believe, or not believe: it’ll never be provable.  

  28. Spartacus says

    Thanks, jj.  Much as I try to avoid being one of those people who says, “No!  No!  It’s true!  I read it on the Internet!” this is a strong nudge in the direction of cynicism.  FDR was a sleaze, and was known to have made comments about how losing a cruiser or two (presumably in the South Pacific) would be worth it to get us into the war.  I put nothing past him.

  29. Mike Devx says

    I have finished ‘The Daughter Of Time’ and re-read all the argumentation above concerning Richard III and Henry VII, and I’m enriched by the experience.  Thank you all very much!  I heartily recommend ‘The Daughter Of Time’.  Josephine Tey (pseudonym) wanted to write a novel to insert into popular culture the rehabilitation of Richard III’s reputation, and she wrote it brilliantly.  How carefully she led her readers down a path she knew they might resist every step of the way.  It’s a thrilling work of art in many ways.
    So, I have my introduction to this period of history via the book and the comments above.  From this starting point, I agree concerning the two most important mysteries:  1. Where were the princes during the two years of Richard III’s reign; why are there no contemporaneous accounts of them?  2. Why didn’t Henry VII’s Bill Of Attainder nullifying Richard III’s reign include, in its list of R III’s evils, the murder of the two princes?  It seems clear that the murders ought to have led the list, and nothing else comes close.
    Aside from those two murders, nothing else in the accounts concerning Richard III indicate any tendency towards murder; and the two princes were almost definitely still alive when Edward IV’s marriage to their mother was declared illegitimate and their claim to the throne then become illegitimate.  From that moment on R III would have had no reason at all for murdering them; there were many others, legitimate and otherwise, with similar potential claims.
    Add to that the thoroughly accepted history of the Tudors ruthlessly murdering any and all potential claimants to their throne.  (“Judicial murders” as the phrase goes, it is true.)  But a history of many, many murders nonetheless.
    As a result you have more than enough reason to believe that Richard III’s guilt in the murder of the two princes should remain at worst an open question.  Of the three options – murder by Richard III, murder by Henry VII, death by natural causes, taking everything you can know at our far remove, I think you’d probably have to lean to Henry VII as the most likely explanation.
    It’s been great fun!  Thank you all again!

  30. Mike Devx says

    It looks like the Clements Markham’s RIII rehabilitation paper:
    Richard III: his life & character, reviewed in the light of recent research (1906)
    was a major source for Josephine Tey.  She actually mentions Markham’s study, along with two other significant earlier efforts at rehabilitation, in ‘The Daughter Of Time’.
    I’ve downloaded the pdf of Markham’s scholarly effort and it looks very readable.  Go to this link and click on the source format of your choice at the upper left if you want to grab a copy.

  31. says

    Well, the Spectator has Nigel Jones spouting all the usual B.S. about Richard in a blog post from earlier in February.  Jones is the author of Tower: an epic history of the Tower of London.
    Amazon says:  NIGEL JONES is a historian, journalist, and biographer, covering subjects ranging from Nazi Germany to the lives of British writers.  He has written for the Cambridge Evening News, the Press Association News Agency, and has been an editor on BBC and independent radio, as well as for History Today and BBC History magazines.
    He hardly appears to be a specialist, so I guess we can forgive him a bit…although reading his supercilious and condescending prose will make you reconsider your Anglophilia, at least for a moment.
    I’m posting here because I want jj to have a look at the blog entry and share his perspective with us….please?

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