The mysterious Human Shredder
So was it Robert Morton, Richard III’s Master of the Rolls and nephew of the future Cardinal, or Polydore Vergil, Henry VII’s pet “historian”? Either way, quite a few documents from Richard’s reign have gone missing. We will adopt a cautious approach to this list:
There remain no letters between Richard and Anne although they were married for about a decade. The record of the 13 June council meeting, including Lord Hastings’ trial, is lost although we know that the Constable and Lord Protector would have the implicit authority to preside over one and we know who occupied those roles. Similarly, the quasi-Parliamentary petition to Richard to become King is missing, as is Stillington’s testimony to the fact of the pre-contract and Edward IV’s codicil confirming Richard’s authority in these positions. Even the Pastons seem to have uncharacteristically silent. All of these missing documents would be favourable to Richard, which completely explains why they are missing.
The human shredder was not wholly successful, however. Richard’s “Titulus Regius” was ordered to be destroyed unread, unprecedentedly, but a copy was preserved in the Crowland Chronicle for Buck to publish. “Tudor” power did not extend to Portugal where the true remnants of the House of Lancaster lived, thus Richard’s negotiations to marry the Lusophone King’s sister whilst his own illegitimate niece married Joao II’s cousin survived. His (late June) letter to Lord Mountjoy in Calais may have had a copy of the great petition attached.
Of course, the denialists would have us believe that Richard had nothing to do in his twenty-five and a half months as King but destroy documents that would portray him in a favourable light, whilst the “Tudor” monarchs that followed were all far too busy throughout their 118 years for anything like that.