REBLOGGED FROM A MEDIEVAL POTPOURRI SPARKYPUS.COM
The two QCs prepare to do battle
Following on from my earlier post. The day had dawned – the trial commenced. Because of the length of the trial I only give snippets here which stand out and which I think are the most pertinent/funny/excruciating.
The judge addressed the jury as to whether Richard III was responsible for the alleged murder of his brother, Edward IV’s sons, Edward and Richard known as the ‘Princes in the Tower’. The judge pointed out that Richard, killed at the battle of Bosworth ‘is beyond the power and jurisdiction of this or indeed any other human court. What you are invited to do today in these proceedings is to pass a historical judgement upon him. He stands in a sense indicted at the bar of history. The charge against him as you’ve just heard is one of the greatest charges in the calendar of crime – murder’. Mr Dillon had, in the absence of the defendant had already entered in a firm voice the plea My Lord, the plea is one of Not Guilty‘.
Mr Russell for the prosecution set the historical scene, the ‘unpopular’ Wydeville marriage, the death of King Edward, the taking of his heir into Richard’s care, the Wydvilles ‘disarray’, the eventual disappearance of both Edward’s sons and the discovery of bones at the Tower in the 17th century, which is so well known I need not go into it here.
The first witness for the Prosecution was Jeffrey Richards, lecturer in history at Lancaster. Questioned by Mr Russell, Mr Richards enlarged further on the circumstances of the times i.e the building up of the now all powerful Wydevilles ‘ who were in control of the court, the council, the late kings treasure, the fleet and what is the most important of all the two princes who through they hoped to rule England’ . Mention was made of the famous letter to York in which Richard asked for aid against the queen and her adherents. Mr Richards perception of this was the troops from York were needed to cow and threaten London. The upcoming Coronation was used as a ‘pretext’ to prise Richard of Shrewsbury, the youngest prince, out of Sanctuary. Now Richard could secure his position. Only he didn’t. This was on account the princes represented a focus for rebellion. However moving on – in the interim Margaret Beaufort plotted with the boys mother for a marriage between their offspring which in Mr Richards view Elizabeth would not have done unless she ‘knew her sons were dead’.
Mr Dillon questioned Mr Richards asking him his opinion of More and what would he say to the statement that ‘More is full of probable false facts and is too discredited to build on’
Mr Richards: No I don’t think that is so.
Mr Dillon: You do not accept that statement?
Mr Richards: No not entirely .
Mr Dillon: I take it from the statement served which you have provided for my learned friend for the prosecution. These are your very own words that I have in typing before me.
Mr Richards: Can you repeat them?….(I know… me neither!)
Mr Dillon then went on to repeat them..
Mr Richards: Yes….. well I wrote that in the early stages in my research, since then I have re-read More and I don’t stand in entirely by that…. Ouch!
Asked why he thought Elizabeth would surrender her children to Richard if she believed he had murdered her two sons he responded ‘Because she was a canny political old bird and she knew she needed to survive’.
To be fair Mr Richards has never been A Mother – but would it be so onerous to at least try to imagine?
Next to be called was Dr Jean Ross senior lecturer in anatomy at the Charing Cross Hospital Medical School. Dr Ross had seen and examined Professor Wright’s 1933 report on the bones. Concluded ages of the bones at the time of death were consistent with 12 and 10 years old and some evidence they were ‘possibly’ blood related. Inconclusive as per usual.
Then came the turn of Dr Tony Pollard
Dr Pollard asserted the precontract was a ‘tissue of lies’ quoting Croyland who described it as ‘the colour for this act of usurpation’. Everyone knew this was the case – ‘except for Stillington!’ interjected the Judge.
Dr Pollard : This bad wicked Bishop as Commynes called him
Mr Dillon – I respectfully suggest that he is not a bad or wicked Bishop at all…
Dr Pollard : You have thrown in so many different things it’s very difficult to know where to start.
Mr Dillon then touched upon the issue of all the chroniclers were southerners or like Mancini reporting southerners perceptions.
Mr Dillon: There is not a single northern chronicler. One of the things that marks the whole of this period is the fear of the south of the barbarians or aliens from the north and the distrust from those of the north for those of the south. One of the things that one finds is a substantial prejudice running through Croyland…..Henry VII was visiting York and there was an uprising there. The Chronicler reported ‘Although by these means peace was graciously restored still the rage of some of the malignants was not averted but immediately after Easter sedition was set on foot by these ingrates in the north whence every evil takes its rise’.
Dr Pollard: Splendid stuff isn’t it..
Mr Dillon: Isn’t it and this is even although the king was staying in those parts I mean the impertinent northerners when the king is there, daring to rise!’
Dr Pollard: That’s very fair.
Then the pièce de résistance of the Prosecution was called – Dr David Robert Starkey – drum roll
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