Yes, it’s those poor lost boys again, and maybe someone did do away with them as they slept. But who?
According to Merriam-Webster, the verb Collude means “to connive with another : conspire, plot”. Right, that’s clear enough, so what is one to make of the following heading? A ROYAL DOCTOR COLLUDES AT MURDER – like this case?
There’s only one conclusion for me, that the doctor was involved in a murder that was covered up. Yes? Well, if there’s another interpretation, I’d like to hear it. Especially as the doctor in question is none other John Argentine, who attended the sons of the demised Edward IV in the Tower, and who, under Henry VII made all sorts of claims about young Edward V fearing for his life every morning “like a victim prepared for sacrifice, seeking remission for his sins by daily confession and penance, because he believed that death was facing him….”
Maybe it was true, the boy did so fear, and it has always been taken to imply that he feared nasty Uncle Richard’s murderous intentions. But here’s a thought. What if Argentine himself was the one the boy feared? What if Argentine did indeed do away with him somehow? And his little brother. How very easy then for the good doctor to wring his hands and weep copious crocodile tears while laying the blame squarely at Richard III’s feet. The blame for what? Why blue bloody murder, of course. Awkward though, when he’d disposed of the bodies so well they couldn’t be produced as proof. Oh, but if enough noise was made, the story would be believed anyway, right?
As for Argentine’s motive…maybe it was pure ambition. He decided Richard wanted the inconvenient boys eliminated, and despatched them, as had the slayers of Becket at Canterbury. Despatched them in the expectation of being rewarded. Where? In the Thames? In a big pit? Who cared, all he wanted was for them to have disappeared completely. And so they did.
Then he had a shock when Richard was appalled by their disappearance (because I don’t think Richard ever had any intention of disposing of his nephews). Realising his own neck was on the block if he was found out, Argentine said nothing, but just went with the flow.
Ah, then came salvation. Richard lost at Bosworth. Maybe the Argentine career was up and running again! So he scuttled to Henry Tudor to point a bloody finger back at Richard’s memory. “Edward V dreaded Richard, and feared for his life every single hour of every single day. As did his little brother. Poor fatherless boys…” Henry was pleased, and Argentine prospered.
Well, it’s a thought. The quoted headline above is taken from a book called Royal Poxes and Potions, the Lives of Court Physicians, Surgeons and Apothecaries by Raymond Lamont-Brown. The headline covers a small article based around Domenico Mancini’s account of his stay in England under Richard III. It clearly cites the royal doctor John Argentine as a colluder in the murders of the princes.
Well, he may have been more than a colluder, he may have been the murderer!
Or, of course, none of this happened, and the boys disappeared because Richard himself saw them to a safe place. Maybe something happened then—illness, a terrible accident, a shipwreck, whatever—and the boys did indeed disappear forever. Or maybe they were so terrified when Richard was killed, that they didn’t dare to make themselves known. They’d really have dreaded every day that their nasty brother-in-law, Henry VII, whose claim to the throne wasn’t as good as their own, would soon see they disappeared again, and this time it would be permanent.
Either way, a horrible royal murder mystery was spawned.