A great review of Matthew Lewis’s new book: The Survival of the Princes in the Tower
Just finished this book. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the fate of the princes.
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Speaking of all the theories about what happened to the ‘Princes in the Tower’, I’ve just written a comment (still awaiting moderation) on that blog, commenting on the article but also proposing a theory that I’ve been cooking in my head for some time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone put forward before.
There is far more evidence of Richard having survived than his elder brother Edward V. What if Edward was indeed murdered, but Richard was kidnapped/whisked away? Assuming “Perkin” was really Richard, that would line up with his account of being taken from the Tower by a nobleman and shipped off, and being told his brother was dead.
Edward and Richard are constantly treated as a single unit in the popular consciousness, but in fact, they were 3 years apart in age and hadn’t even grown up together. (Which makes the melodramatic paintings of two boys who look like twins, clutching at each other and sleeping in the same bed, even more absurd. Which 12 year old would ever act like that with their 9 year old sibling? They’d see the younger sibling is a child compared to them. Add to that that the two of them barely even knew each other.) They had drastically different upbringing, and, according to contemporary accounts, different personalities. Edward had grown up in a separate household in Ludlow, Wales, as per custom for crown princes, under the supervision of his maternal uncle, Anthony Rivers. We can assume that he was a lot closer to Rivers than to anyone else in his family – he would barely have seen his parents and other siblings, and uncle Richard would have been a virtual stranger to him. Edward was also described as the more melancholy one, at least in terms of his behavior when in London, as opposed to Richard, who the account seem to describe as more lighthearted. It’s very likely that Edward would have been seen as the more difficult to handle, being older and probably holding mistrust in Richard as well as Buckingham from the moment they captured Rivers, and that would have only grown after the executions of Rivers and Grey.
If Buckingham was indeed the culprit, this theory would start making sense. What if he decided to dispose of Edward – who would be likely to hate him as much as he probably hated Richard III – but keep Richard, who was younger and presumably easier to manipulate, as a bargaining chip he could use – both against Richard and especially against Henry, but also possibly install as King so he could be his Lord Protector? Portraying himself a s the boy’s savior to gain his trust would have also been a good step.
Finally, this theory would also explain why the survival of Richard – “Perkin” – remained unknown and why no one tried to use him for their benefit or get rid of him until he grew up. If it was a part of Buckingham’s plan, then he died before he got to set it into motion, and not a lot of people would have known the truth. It also would be a fascinating answer to the question “What did Buckingham want to talk to Richard about when he was begging him for an audience before his execution?”
What do you think about my theory? I don’t think that’s necessarily what happened, there are several credible existing theories, but I don’t think anyone has proposed this one before.
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I certainly haven’t read this theory before, but it is interesting. It rests on the idea that Buckingham wanted more to secure his place as “power behind the throne” than to rule himself; do you know if there is any evidence one way or the other on this point?
I don’t have any evidence other than what everyone else knows, and this is just an idea/speculation – which is really all anyone can do at this point, speculate, unless some groundbreaking new evidence happens to be found out.
Buckingham’s motivations for anything he was doing (like allying with Henry Tudor and starting the rebellion) have been a matter of a lot of speculation for hundreds of years – and it’s really difficult to figure out what exactly his intentions were and why. The impression from all the contemporary and near contemporary accounts is that he was considered to be ambitious, untrustworthy, very proud of his background, and resentful of his in-laws and his marriage to a Woodville. It’s been speculated and rumored – even in very early sources – that he secretly wanted to be King himself. However, while his claim to the throne was decent (better than Henry Tudor’s), I think there was one major stumbling block to the prospect of Buckingham becoming King Henry VII: I don’t think he would have had any support. Henry Tudor had the support of the Lancastrians because he was both the senior remaining Beaufort descendant and the half-nephew of Henry VI, and because there was simply no one else for the Lancastrians to support – and could try to get some York support by promising to marry/marrying the daughter of Edward IV. Buckingham didn’t have any of these things. Plus, it seems he just wasn’t popular at all. While other contemporary figures are wildly polarizing, it doesn’t seem that anyone had a good opinion about this guy. And considering how quickly one of his servants gave him up for a reward, he clearly didn’t inspire strong loyalty even in his own household, let alone anywhere else.
I don’t know how smart or not Buckingham was, but assuming he wasn’t stupid, he must have realized that taking a throne for himself would be a really difficult. Why else ally with Henry Tudor, giving support to his claim (when he secretly may have been resenting the fact that this guy was getting more support while having a more questionable background and weaker claim)?
Very interesting and at least as plausible as any other theory. A common claim that perkin must be wrong because one would not be killed and leave the other. This does explain this.
My own suspicion is that lambert simnell was Edward v and I have nothing else but gut instinct. There is evidence he was crowned Edward v1 but I agree with Gordon smith that none of it adds up. Far more intriguing than perkin in my opinion
Interesting theory but it is still assuming that at least one of them was killed. They could have been moved separately and Edward met with an accident or illness (drowned on the way to somewhere?) I think it quite plausible that he could have died earlier – in fact I think ‘Perkin’s’ claim that he was the younger boy makes him more plausible – if he was an imposter, surely he would have claimed to have been Edward? Otherwise, if he had succeeded in deposing Henry, Edward might have turned up with a better claim. But if he was REALLY Richard….?
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Thanks for sharing my review!
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