Thomas More and the Removal Men

Thomas More’s detailed and heart-wrenching account of the murders of Edward IV’s sons is well known, and is usually either accepted or dismissed in toto so it would probably be useful to pause at this point to remind ourselves exactly what it was that Thomas More claimed had happened to the boys and why opinions as to the veracity of his story are so divided.
Richard, said More, set off on his progress leaving the boys in the Tower with four keepers (one being an habitual murderer named Miles Forest) and just one of their old servants (William Slaughter). The King’s intention was to kill the boys at some point in order to secure his position, and when he reached Gloucester (say, 31 July or 1 August) he finally made up his mind to get on with the business. He sent one John Grene ‘whom he specially trusted’ to carry a letter and a verbal credence to Sir Robert Brackenbury, the Constable of the Tower, instructing him to put the boys to death; but, contrary to the royal plan, Brackenbury replied that he would rather die. Grene returned with the bad news, finding the King at Warwick (this would have been the second week of August). That night, Richard complained to a ‘secret page’ of his that no one could be trusted, to which the page replied that there was an overlooked attendant lying in the antechamber who, he was sure, would do anything in return for recognition. At this Richard got up, roused Tyrell from his pallet and instructed him to organise the boys’ deaths. The next day, Richard sent Tyrell off with a letter commanding Brackenbury to hand him the keys of the Tower for one night.
Having decided he would need two murderers, Tyrell enlisted his own horsekeeper John Dighton as the first, trusting that the homicidal Miles Forest would have no objection to being the second. At the Tower, Brackenbury obligingly handed Tyrell his keys, and that night Tyrell dismissed all the boys’ attendants except for Forest. At about midnight Dighton and Forest crept into the Princes’ chamber, smothered them with their own bedding then laid out the bodies for Sir James’ inspection.

Tyrell inspects Forest and Dighton’s handiwork

Satisfied that they were dead, Tyrell commanded Dighton and Forest to bury them at the foot of the stairs (presumably those leading down from their bedchamber in the White Tower, though this is not specified), ‘meetly deep in the ground under a great heap of stones’.
When all this had been done, Sir James galloped back to Richard with the good tidings. Richard thanked him profusely but was unhappy with the ‘vile’ burial arrangements. Thus (it was said) Sir Robert Brackenbury had a priest of his disinter the bodies and rebury them somewhere more fitting; but, since Richard, Brackenbury and the priest were all dead by the time More wrote, there was no longer any way of discovering where this was. More supports his story, picked up (so he claims) from ‘them that much knew and little cause had to lie’, with the assertion that Tyrell and Dighton had confessed to the crime when they were questioned in the Tower prior to Tyrell’s trial and execution in 1502 (but note that More did not claim this confession to have been written down, still less to have seen a transcript of it).

The flaws in this account are many. First, though we are told that Richard ‘before had intended’ to kill his nephews, he had clearly not thought to sound out Brackenbury about it before leaving London. And, when Brackenbury rejects his orders, does Richard have him removed from post, or quietly despatched on account of his dangerous knowledge? No, he simply asks him to hand over the keys to Tyrell for the night (actually, it is not clear from More’s tale why Tyrell needed the Tower keys). This time Brackenbury meekly does as he is told although he evidently knows what is afoot as he later has one of his priests move the remains. More puzzling still, the real-life Sir Robert continued in post as Constable of the Tower throughout Richard’s reign and died fighting for him at Bosworth.
As for Sir James himself, More’s picture of a frustrated servant overlooked for promotion simply does not fit the facts although there have been recent attempts to rehabilitate it. Tyrell was one of Richard’s most prominent knights and the rewards he enjoyed after this period were by no means out of keeping with his previous career. Miles Forest existed, but the real-life job of this alleged serial-killing hard man had been looking after Richard’s wardrobe up at Barnard Castle, and he does not appear to have ever been in any trouble with the law. More’s depiction of him seems no more than a device to explain how Tyrell had felt able to count on his co-operation without having had an opportunity to sound him out about the murders in advance.
The burial of the bodies, even ‘meetly deep’ as described by More, would have been a challenging task for two men during the course of a short August night. If the murderers had crept into the Princes’ room at about midnight, then work on the gravedigging is unlikely to have been started before 12.30 am, giving them a window of little more than four hours to complete their task before the keys would be needed for the reopening of the Tower at sunrise. And if we try, as is generally done, to reconcile More’s description of the Princes’ burial with the discovery of the 1674 remains, the problems merely multiply. The 1674 remains were not found ‘meetly’ deep at the foot of an internal staircase, but 10 ft down under the foundations of an external staircase that was being removed. The two descriptions do not match, and the 1674 burial could never have been effected and made good in the space of four hours. Another possibility is that the remains were found in 1674 where Brackenbury’s priest had removed them, but such an interment place would have been no less ‘vile’ than the original burial place, and a solitary priest would scarcely have been able to dig the bodies up and rebury them in such a location with total discretion.

More’s staircase (supposedly). Note: Not the one removed in 1674.

Against these objections, however, must be set the fact that Polydore Vergil, writing at a roughly similar time, also pinned the blame for the boys’ deaths on the late Sir James Tyrell and, like More, has Richard write from Gloucester to the Constable of the Tower ordering him to find a suitable means of despatching the princes. But according to Vergil the Constable merely prevaricated and Richard went on waiting for him to act, finally losing patience during his stay in York (31 August to 20 September) and despatching a woeful Sir James to do the deed. Vergil’s chronology is not precise but he seems to be placing Tyrell’s departure from York after Prince Edward’s investiture (8 September), which is just as well because Sir James had a special role in the investiture procession as Master of the Henchman. Nor does Vergil mention any confession; indeed, he flatly states the manner of the boys’ death to be unknown and attributes the rumour of the murders to Richard himself. The nature of the story, however, is such that – if there is any truth in it at all – it is most likely to have emanated from individuals working at the Tower.

The only details in the accounts of More and Vergil that might have been witnessed by third parties are Richard’s despatch of a messenger (possibly John Grene) to Brackenbury from the city of Gloucester, the later despatch of Sir James Tyrell to the Tower, and the absence of any sightings of the Princes by Tower staff after the night of Tyrell’s visit; these are also the only details upon which More and Vergil are agreed. After Bosworth there was only one acceptable explanation for the disappearance of Edward IV’s sons, which was that they had died during Richard III’s reign, preferably on his orders, and so any theories built around the boys’ disappearance had to fit into that framework.
It is interesting, and probably relevant, that two separate sources describe a failed attempt by supporters of Edward V to rescue the boys from the Tower after Richard left the capital; the ringleaders were identified and arrested, and are probably those who had ‘taken upon themselves the fact of an enterprise’ about whom Richard wrote to his Lord Chancellor from Minster Lovell on 29 July. This foiled attack on the Tower might have suggested to Richard that the boys would have to be killed, had he been so inclined, but it is equally – if not more – likely, given his rivals’ youth and innocence, that Richard’s response would have been to have them discreetly removed to secret locations far from the city, where they would no longer be the focus of discontent.
For this plan to work well, it would have been reasonable for Brackenbury to have been given some advance warning so that bags could be packed for the boys’ journey, and so that one or two of their attendants could be enlisted to accompany them; the delivery of such a warning could have been the real purpose of Grene’s mission to Brackenbury. On this reading of events, Tyrell’s mission would not have been dependent upon Brackenbury having rejected the orders from Grene, and Miles Forest may have come under suspicion simply because he too disappeared from the Tower that night, having been brought along to attend upon the boys during the journey. The hours of darkness would have been the best time to smuggle the boys out of the Tower, and if there was any concern that they might not wish to co-operate then they could have been sufficiently sedated to enable Tyrell and his men to carry them both out without waking them. The Tower keys would have been needed in order to get the little party out of the fortress under cover of darkness, and Sir Robert Brackenbury would have had no reason to interfere with such a mission.

This scenario is merely offered as a suggestion as to the sort of reality that might possibly underlie More’s implausible murder tale. I would be the first to admit that there is no evidence that this is what occurred, but it would see off the inconsistencies in More’s story remarkably well. I make no suggestion as to where the boys might have been taken next, how they might have travelled, or what might have become of them in the longer term: those are separate questions.


Sir Thomas More: ‘The History of King Richard III’ and Selections from the English and Latin Poems, ed. Richard S. Sylvester, Yale, 1976

The History of King Richard the Third, ed. Richard Bear, website of the American Branch of the Richard III Society

Polydore Vergil, ‘Anglica Historia’ (1555 Version), ed. Dana F. Sutton, Philological Museum website of the University of Birmingham

Histoire des Règnes de Charles VII et Louis XI par Thomas Basin, Evéque de Lisieux, ed. J. Quicherat, vol 3, Paris, 1857, p. 137

Signet Warrants for the Great Seal and Signet Letters to the Chancellor, transcribed R. C. & P. B. Hairsine for the Richard III Society, 1979

‘Observations of the Wardrobe Account for the Year 1483’, Rev. Dr. J. Milles, Dean of Exeter, Archaeologia, Vol. 1, 1770, p.375

Helen Maurer, ‘Bones in the Tower: A Discussion of Time, Place and Circumstance, Part 2’, The Ricardian, No. 112, March 1991

John Stow, Annales of England, 1600 edition, p. 767


  1. Personally, I believe that More was writing a satire (with the purpose of taking a swipe at Vergil) and never meant for the account to be taken seriously.

    If you reframe the story this way and read it as a satire rather than as a historical narrative, a lot of the more absurd/incongruent elements of the story start to make sense.

    Take for example the scene where Richard enlists Tyrell to murder the boys: Here we have Richard III lamenting to a servant about how hard it is to find someone to murder his nephews while he’s sitting on the privy. If that scene wasn’t meant to be absurd, then I have to question what exactly the purpose of it actually was. To me, it reads as “what I’m telling you right now is crap”.

    The quarrel between More and Vergil is documented and I think the fact that More didn’t finish or publish the work himself supports this hypothesis (i.e. More’s temper cooled off and he decided to abandon the work and leave Vergil be).

    Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure what More’s intentions were. I do think, however, that we should seriously consider the idea that More’s work was meant to be a literary exercise rather than a re-telling of actual events.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Excellent post highlighting the utter absurdity of the story. Yet this nonsense is still being repeated by even modern historians. Anyone interested in the story of Richard III should read the whole of More’s history to grasp the full ludicrousness of his story..More was a writer of rubbish.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thanks, Sparkypus.

    Elizabeth, I don’t think we’re really much at odds. The satire theory has been around for a long time and I agree it has much to recommend it, but we don’t know for sure what More was up to, and I am all for continuing to re-evaluate theories for which we lack ultimate proof.
    For me, the problem with writing off everything More wrote in his History as “satire” is that it is a history, not a complete work of fiction. It deals with people who really lived, and the framework upon which it is built is that of real events, however much More twists that framework for other purposes. So the question is, where does the history end and the spoof begin?
    More names as his murder team real-life people. One of these, the obscure horsekeeper John Dighton, he claimed to be still living. At least two others, Tyrell and Forest, had living descendants. William Slaughter and John Grene are also obscure (the former because the only one so far found in the records is a difficult fit, and the latter because there are far too many John Grenes) but were probably also real. To have discussed the question of their identification would just have made the post too long and dull.
    And if this whole story is satire, was Vergil also writing satire when he claimed Richard sent Tyrell to despatch the boys because Brackenbury wasn’t getting on with the job?
    Many Ricardians do actually believe Richard moved the boys from the Tower at about this time, and many suspect Tyrell to have been involved. So may More’s story not be a send-up of genuine memories amongst Tower staff of a visit by Tyrell which coincided with the boys’ disappearance?
    I’m not denying the send-up aspect of More’s tale (most glaringly, that ‘secret page’ spending the night with Richard in his room whilst his grown-up esquires were locked out in the antechamber), or Sir Thomas’ cavalier attitude to known facts. The smothering and burial story he offers (a story apparently either unknown to Vergil or beneath his dignity to report) is so full of holes that More must have been writing it tongue-in-cheek. But it did strike me that, lost in all that, there may just possibly be some echo of a genuine event.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Maryeflowre,

    You make a good point; if More was writing a satire why slander people who actually existed? And, furthermore, why did Vergil accuse Tyrrell?

    I think if More’s account was meant to be a satire then the idea would have been to point out the absurdity of Vergil’s accusations but I do see your point; if you’re accusing real people (even if the allegations are meant sarcastically) then the lines between fact and fiction can become blurred.

    I would venture even further and say that if the choice is made to write a satire involving real people and plausible allegations then the sarcasm must be overt in order to avoid misunderstandings/slander….and More’s sarcasm isn’t always obvious or even consistent throughout the work. Maybe More realized this and it was part of the reason he chose not to pursue the story further (?).

    I agree with you too about Tyrrell; I don’t think he was guilty of what he was accused of and I don’t believe he was a randomly chosen scapegoat either. I tend to think that the old saying “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” applies there.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Note that in the 15th-16th century, ‘history’ meant simply ‘story’ . It might be about persons who had existed in history (or legend), bu there was no pretense that it had any relation to chronicle history. There is no reason that More should be taken more seriously than any contemporary author of historical fiction – such as, say, Sandra Worth or Kate Sedley.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Slight misunderstanding here, I’m afraid. The words history and story both derive from Latin historia, of course, and the distinction in meaning was not that clear in the 16th century. But it is our meaning of the word ‘story’ that is really the innovation. In former times there was no distinct branch of literature that dealt with avowedly made-up events. The word fiction (which previously had other meanings) was not applied to any form of literature until 1599, and then not again until the late 1700s . The novel had, at the time More was writing, not yet been born. When medievals told the stories of Arthur’s knights or Bevis of Hampton, they viewed these as tales of genuine events of the distant past, even if not necessarily accurate in every detail.
      As for histories, these were accounts of real past events. If you have access to the full OED you can look up the range of meaning of ‘history’ at different periods. The humanist history of the 16th century used devices to tell the story of the past that we would consider wrong, making up speeches and in More’s case entire scenes. But at root they were still representing what they wrote as a valid account of the past, as true as they could make it in terms of not just bald events, such as you would see in traditional annals, but also of the motivations of the protagonists. In practice, of course, that meant their account would conform as closely as possible to the politically correct view of the time in which they wrote.
      If you want to completely dismiss More as fiction simply because he called his work a history, then I’m afraid you will have to do the same with the accounts of Rous and Vergil, which were their authors also called histories. What all three have in common is a political bias and the presence of many inaccurate statements or misrepresentations of genuine facts. They also all contain genuine facts. Using them wisely is difficult, that I acknowledge, but don”t forget that it was Rous’s description of Richard’s burial place that helped locate his grave.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s worth remembering that More’s account wasn’t published until after his death. Surely Henry VII and Henry VIII would’ve been grateful for confirmation that their rivals really were dead, but he chose to stay silent and according to Desmond Seward copies of his manuscript were found in the possession of Yorkist dissidents. Unfortunately Seward doesn’t specify his sources, it would be interesting to know more.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I see it more as More and Vergil aiding the young Henry VIII in putting to bed public beliefs that the Princes might be still living, or that one of them might have been the young man executed by Henry VII as Perkin Warbeck. I really don’t think Henry himself was supposed to take this story seriously.
    It’s also worth remembering that Vergil’s history, written at roughly the same time, wasn’t published until 1534, by which time More was under arrest. Publishing was still a pretty new thing. I am personally more interested in why all the drafts of More’s work stop at the point where Morton and Buckingham are about to part company.
    I do wish Seward would give sources for some of his more extraordinary statements. Another one, which was doing the rounds after the discovery of Richard’s remains, is that Richard had had Rivers buried naked in an unmarked grave. This one seems to have been pure fantasy, probably based on what we know of the burials of criminals in later ages.
    I have Seward’s more recent book on the rebellions against HVII and will see if there’s anything in there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agree, it’s intriguing why he stopped writing. I was also struck by the similarity in his description of Henry VII in his coronation ode and Richard III in his “history”. Perhaps he stopped because he became disillusioned as Henry VIII started to resemble these tyrants (as he seems to have seen them). If you discover anything more about Seward’s claim I’d be very grateful if you could please share. Many thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ve seen the claim about Rivers’ burial floating around elsewhere as well….I had no idea that the source of it was Seward. It’s frightening how fast some of these things make the rounds on the internet and become “fact” with no mention of what the source is or the context in which it first appeared.

      I too am intrigued by the claim about the Yorkist dissidents carrying copies of More’s manuscript (which is strikingly odd). I agree with bloodofcherries, please share if you come across anything!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Dear Marye:
    My point was not that More’s ‘History of Richard III’ was fiction because he called it a history, but the opposite, that it was not necessarily fact because of that. I did make an attempt to differentiate between the word ‘history’ as loosely applied (as I believe it was by More) and ‘chronicle history’, which was at least indented to be a recounting of actual events.
    All ‘histories’ (official or not) and all historical fiction have elements of truth (e.g. there was a battle at Bosworth Field, which Richard III lost).* And all modern-day histories have to include elements of speculation (i.e. neither fact nor fiction), because there is so little hard evidence.
    For that matter, so does More’s – by his own admission
    * Except, of course, if you are writing Sci-fi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry, I’m more confused now. To be fair, you said history meant story and likened if you the work of modern novelists.
      I’m honestly not sure what we’re arguing about since you now agree it will have elements of truth and what I am suggesting is that the Tyrell story may be half truth, half fiction.
      Not sure how my post would jar with your view of More.
      Isn’t the criminal’s maxim supposed to be, when giving false evidence always include as much of the truth as you can?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. If you ask me what I was doing on 9/11 or the day JFK died, I can tell you, with details. These events were history, and also a part of my personal and family history. If I write a historical novel, or a mystery, or a romance, and incorporate events (either earth-shattering or trivial) that actually happened to me, it is not a lie, maybe, but it is not anything but fiction, in that context.
    Isn’t it a lawyer’s maxim that if a witness can be proven to have lied about one thing, his entire testimony can be impeached? I don’t know, being neither a criminal nor a lawyer.
    More got Edward IV’s age at death wrong. A slip of the pen? Faulty proofreading? Who knows?
    When we go through an account, (More’s, Virgil’s, whoever’s) and pick & choose items – ‘this is true, that is false’, aren’t we doing the same as the ‘Ciarenes?’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I normally avoid using these sources for exactly the reason that, without corroborating evidence, we don’t know what is true and what is false. But there are facts buried in More, I’m afraid.
      For instance, his story about Archbishop Rotherham taking the Great Seal to the Queen and having to get it back off her, and his claim that Richard took Edward V back to Northampton before setting off again for London (no other writer had mentioned this), both tie in with an extant letter written by “Edward V” to Cardinal Bourchier from Northampton at the beginning of May, in which he instructs Bourchier, amongst other things, to secure the Great Seal (of course, this doesn’t prove More’s whole Rotherham story, but it does show that Richard had reason to fear the Great Seal would be passed to the Woodville faction if he didn’t take swift action).
      And More’s description of the encounter at Stony Stratford is remarkably similar to Mancini’s but he’s beefed it up.

      The reason I came to wonder about this particular tale is because of the way it fits in with things we now know. The timing comes remarkably close behind the discovery of the plot to smuggle the boys out of the Tower (although this plot was not picked up by More or any other English writer), and More involves real persons (we can talk about these later if others don’t find the whole concept too shocking).
      Vergil also has Tyrell sent to the Tower to despatch the boys. And the only bits of such a mission by Tyrell that could have been witnessed (this is a point you may have missed: there would have been plenty of people at the Tower who would have knwn whether such a visit to the Tower ever occurred) are of themselves quite innocent.

      I deliberately just put this forward, rather whimsically (you might have noticed – no?), just as a possible solution. I stated quite clearly at the end of my piece that there is no proof that this is what happened. It’s just another idea to be toyed with. I would be the first to complain if anyone tried to claim this as proven and treat it as holy writ, so I’m afraid standards of proof in criminal law aren’t really relevant. If it can be proved or disproved, I would be equally pleased either way because it would have moved our understanding on.

      But, if you think it likely that Richard would have had the boys removed from the Tower (you may not, of course), then there would surely have been staff at the Tower who would have seen the escorts arrive and the boys disappear. Does no echo of any such witness testimony appear anywhere in the written record?

      I’ll wrap up here. I think I’ve set out my stall as well as I can now, and others can cogitate upon its contents.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Maryeflowre,

        I’m at a disadvantage as I do not have my notes with me but after 5 days away from the internet I had to check in on M&B and I find Thomas More omg… I am ready to explode. Maryeflowre you have nerves of steel!

        I’m in the camp that finds More a lawyer, NOT a writer much less a historian, from any era. And if I had to qualify what sort of historian I would say he is in the mold of Churchill’s pithy assertion: “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” And since H7 was not quite the literary lion that Vergil, Crowland, Rous, Mancini (cough cough) More, et al have been so deemed the sanitation project of his person and then his reign began well before Bosworth, well before Richard’s coronation. Margaret Beaufort’s intrepid agents, later recast as simple, benign family counselors, confessors and advisors is one of the most spectacular feats of hagiography that I can think of off the top of my addled head!

        When I think of Thomas More, wily lawyer that he was, (my goodness he was much impressed with Catesby – who I loathe) I hear that famous retort from a witness to Sir Charles Russell’s claims in court (ie. he was badgering) … “May I ask if you have left off beating your wife?” (1895?) …

        To my mind More is playing the same games with his alleged details, names, citations, as if in a court and his case laid out as unassailable, after all, the defendant is long dead, witnesses for the defendant also long dead, the presumed victims allegedly dead, and curiously one of the murderers (Dighton) still alive and well. So, King Richard, when did you leave off killing your nephews? (He had three, remember Sir Thomas?) Curious, no?

        Well, it’s always irked me that Richard didn’t shout from the Tower turrets that the dear boys are alive and just hush already but then he seems to have followed Disraeli’s advice, “Never complain. And never explain.”

        As to your post, and with good reason, your points about Brackenbury, Grene, Tyrell are all direct hits, I would only add that More is a fraud, and certainly obfuscation his primary intent, regardless what (if any) his purpose may have been.

        It drives me batty why More just left it unfinished – this doesn’t cut it with me – imagine any self-respecting lawyer, tell me he wasn’t, after setting up his case, laying out his arguments, admitting evidence lacks when he needs to appeal to the jury that he is just so impartial, and then, then this esteemed, powerful, lawyer just blithely puts aside his manuscript, sighs, bored with his little experiment?
        But, I would suggest this is why: his had NO inside information, no one inside Richard’s inner circle, no clue as to what was happening from June through August in 1483.

        He may well have had Morton’s offhand, or even very direct comments, to reflect upon, but whatever the preferred narrative (as we would say today) was it had coalesced well before Morton’s death in 1500.

        Did More find the Morton-MB-Bray version (and who knows who else crafted the early understanding of what they say happened) lacking drama? or too many loose ends? or the lack of names tedious?

        Well, let’s just add Tyrell’s alleged and never seen confession, and anecdotes like gentle Brackenbury who wouldn’t kill the boys, but would allow Tyrell to do so, and redeem Brackenbury by allowing those poor boys to be decently buried, and with a priest! Thomas More resolves one problem (vague, and dry as dirt info from his sources, who knew zip about Richard’s inner circle) and adds emotionally provocative details (appeal to that jury, be it God or man!) and then created another problem: inconsistency of testimony or account of the history. That alone may have been all it took for him to just toss it aside.

        In the summer of 1483 Richard’s own agents, and he did have them, even if we don’t have their names, likely gleaned from his brother’s stock as with so many other retainers, (knights of the body, servants and officials, from judges to ship captains to yeomen to serjeant-at-arms to esquires to even doctors who all transferred their allegiance from E4 to R3), and they were busy handling, quite literally, several unconnected plots from QEW and Dorset (this was caught early), MB and her half-brother John Welles (this was caught or exposed by 2nd wk of August, he fled to Brittany but it was understood he was only nominally involved, it was MB’s machinations and used him – at Maxey Castle, sorry I don’t have my notes), and the bizarre plot to allegedly rescue the two boys using fires set in London in mid July – likely a plot infiltrated long before it was dealt with – foreign reports allege up to 50 insurgents but my own feeling is this is highly unlikely; this was the source of the famous letter to Richard’s chancellor concerning the “enterprise” – the Duke of Norfolk (Lord Howard) conducted the executions, site is still in speculation, could even have been at Crosby Hall?

        Now, if WE can find all this info, and I am forgetting a lot, as I don’t have my notes, tell me how More did not have at least some of this, the foreign agents (diplomats, merchants, proper spies, informers, etc) were thick on the ground throughout E4’s entire reign (as was likely true for each of the kings, dukes, et al, at the time and ever afterwards) and heaven knows they would have loved to impart their gossip, no? … or perhaps More did know, as some have speculated, uncomfortable things?

        So, Master More, when did you leave off beating your wife? I have my witnesses, too.


  10. Hi Maryeflowre,

    I don’t think Amma was disagreeing with you, I think she actually was disagreeing with Halfwit36 and I. The “nerves of steel” comment was meant in support of your point of view (as in she was outraged on your behalf because of the comments, not outraged by your article) and the points she presented were meant to be in support of your hypothesis, not questioning it.

    I could be wrong (I often am lol) and of course only Amma can tell that us for sure what her intention was (which coincidentally circles back to our whole discussion in a way, doesn’t it?)….but I know Amma personally, which may be why my read on her comments differs from yours.

    I hope you don’t feel that anyone was attacking your article, I know I wasn’t, and I don’t believe Halfwit36 was either. In fact, I largely agree with you…in my opinion there was definitely a reason why the specific men referred to in More’s account were named and I actually rather like your theory regarding the “echo of past events”….and I too believe the boys were most likely moved from the Tower alive and transported elsewhere. We just disagree a bit about what the philosophy was of what More was attempting to accomplish.

    I enjoy your articles very much and look forward to reading many more of them. Please accept my apology if any of my comments came off in a way other than they were intended. Agree to disagree?


  11. Thanks for that clarification, Elizabeth. I think you’re right – it was me who misread Amma’s post. So I’ve deleted the reply.
    If you were agreeing with me, Amma, thanks.
    As for what More was up to – I don’t really have a fixed view. It’s like ViscountessW said in a recent post about Starkey’s TV programme on Richard, he makes out he knew just what Richard was thinking. I can’t know exactly what More was thinking, or exactly what his philosophical intentions were; I can only discern what sort of mix of fact, fiction and frace is contained in his History and go from there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No problem, Maryeflowre. Amma and I email back and forth and we’ve discussed More before so I had the advantage of knowing her opinions on the topic ahead of time.

      As for More, I agree completely; we’ll never know for sure what his intentions were. There’s a wide range of interpretation regarding him but the question is ultimately unanswerable short of conducting a seance 🙂

      I wonder if Starkey would consider lending us his ouija board….

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If Starkey handed us his ouija board, I for one, would hit him over the head with it.


    2. Dear Maryeflowre,

      It’s now September and my summer of discontent (to swipe a phrase) has passed, I’m back with my notes and laptop and I missed whatever misunderstanding I caused in my post to your article. But I can occasionally be brief, lol, my issues (there area few concerning Thomas More) are NOT with you or your graciousness, your superb grasp of how to construct one’s arguments and points, no my fury was never and would never be with you, but with (among many others of the period) Thomas More. I detest him.

      I can’t quite detest Mancini, I consider him a convenient cleric, a moveable hack that Cato inserted, then plucked out in time for his other on-the-ground agents in London, also recalled, to craft a suitable report for de Rochefort to present to the Etats-Generaux, in Latin, as a very pointed warning to the young Louis d’Orleans and his noble allies to back off; they didn’t.

      Thomas and myself, we go back years and years. You are a consummate professional and neutral and your article did not make me explode, the date did, I do not handle 22 August well! Many ricardians feel anxiety, sadness, I understand that, I think we all have a sense of grieving, but for me it arouses anger! Hence my summer of discontent! Add in that we had just left for a week at the shore (very strange, we’re still in lockdown here in NJ, the beach, for the only time in my memory, was close to empty, but my grandsons had a blast nevertheless, the lifeguards assured me that they didn’t need masks,”sunlight kills covid” – well, in my nasty mood, if only sunlight could have killed …I will restrain myself …It’s September…)

      So, I apologize to you if you thought I had launched any arrows at you personally or at your article! Someday, when I grow up I would like to think I will be as measured and balanced as you proceeded with Thomas More! To me, he was a lawyer by trade, a philosopher by inclination and a martyr possibly as a consequence? Now, was he a better lawyer, or philosopher? If we judge him by how academics and historians see him my guess is he’s done quite well as martyr.

      Everything you post is well researched and excellent, I just wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes about my pet peeves, it was about my feud with the modern academic who slobber over More – certainly not about you Maryeflowre!


    1. Not sure of the purpose of this. Of course Kendall thought Buck’s nephew’s account was the original – he was writing well before Kincaid made the original available. Annette already has an article promoting Kincaid’s new edition so what is this for as a comment in an article on More? Everyone has always known Armstrong’s translation was a translation rather than the original, and he didn’t tinker with the Latin text, which he set out side by side. More’s family certainly tinkered with his own life story but if there is a possibility the drafts of his History were similarly tinkered with that would be big news and need an article of its own, surely, setting out the evidence. I won’t suppress this but I’m unhappy with it appearing in this form.


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