Lucy Worsley “proves” Richard III murdered his nephews….!


Episode 3 of Lucy Worsley‘s latest TV series is about The Princes in the Tower, and from the outset it’s clear that Lucy is Lady Dracula, because she goes for Richard III’s jugular at every opportunity. The thought that he might be innocent doesn’t seem to occur to her because she’s utterly convinced of his guilt. I suppose, being a dedicated Tudorite, despising Richard is in her genes.

The truth is that Richard always stood for loyalty, fairness, steadiness and reliability, so to suddenly accuse him of truly abhorrent crimes is ridiculous. You might as well accuse our present queen of being a serial killer who goes around Buck House bumping off footmen and drinking the blood of horses.

Regarding the ‘orrible murders in the Tower. To begin with, who says there were any murders? The Tudors. Who benefited from spreading such rumours? The Tudors. Who spread the lies with glee? The Tudors, courtesy of More and Shakespeare. Who perpetuates the lies now? Tudorite historian presenters like the fragrant Lucy. Bah to them all!

You see, what they want us to believe is that one night in spring 1483 Richard went to bed a good little boy wearing a halo donated by the admiring Archangel Gabriel….but when he awakened the next morning somehow he’d become the rabid personification of evil, cloven hooves and all. This overnight transformation must have occurred because it’s the only way to explain the instant diabolical overturning of his personality.

So, Lucy kicks off the programme with the bald statement that the boys in the Tower were murdered in their beds. Fact. No question. Lucy and her big briefcase strike again, but without the usual laughs. This is a serious business, so Tudor frocks are o.u.t. We’re faced with forgotten witnesses, getting closer to the truth, and the clear implication that evil Uncle Richard disposed of his nephews in order to seize the crown for himself.

Having already been emphatic that Richard did the awful deed, Lucy then says she wants to know if they were murdered. (I think this is just so we believe we’re about to hear a balanced presentation— which we certainly aren’t.) She tells us that royal history is her “home turf” and that when it comes to the princes in the Tower, Richard III has hogged the limelight. Well, no sh-t, Sherlock! Of course he does because everyone’s been busy blaming him!

Then she says that the discovery of his remains in 2012 led to a campaign to rescue his reputation. Um, no. It was an ongoing campaign to restore his reputation! He’d had thousands of supporters for decades.

But it’s the story of the princes that Lucy wants to restore…and reclaim. For whom? Them? No. For the ‘other side’ i.e. the Tudors? Yes. Clearly. Lucy approaches the programme with her mind already made up that Richard III was the ultimate baddie. The princes were, are and always will be golden-haired little angels who wuz robbed of their patrimony by the nastiest uncle there ever was in all the wide world.

“When it comes to their story I think I need to get beyond my preconceptions.” Yes, Lucy you do, but in fact you seem to have no such intentions. You merely want to confirm a long-established personal viewpoint concerning Richard.

We have a recap of Edward IV’s unwelcome marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, the boys’ unpopular mother, and the English nobility’s jealousy of her family. Then off we go to Ludlow, where Edward V lived from the age of three, educated by his maternal uncle, Anthony Woodville. Arriving at the castle and obviously meaning business, Lucy emerges from her car brandishing her briefcase.

Lucy and The Briefcase

And who do we come to next? Hicks! (That pillar of even-handed opinion and the only author to write E5’s biography. ) A lot follows about E’s daily life. She ends by asking the prof if he thinks Richard III was guilty of murdering the boys. Answer? “Yes! Of course he’s guilty!” So that’s Lancastrian/Tudor “expert” No.1. (As if he’d ever give  Richard the benefit of the doubt! 🤪)

On to Mancini, who probably met Edward V and definitely saw him. Lucy pronounces that Mancini’s distance from the arena i.e. a foreign land, gives him integrity! Huh? Might it not also give him zilch idea whatsoever of the nitty-gritty of what went on? Hearsay only? Like More, Shakespeare et al?

Mancini wrote that it was Edward IV’s wish that in the event of his death during the boys’ minority Richard was to be appointed protector. This proves that Edward IV (clearly not in his right mind) really trusted “this man”. But not everyone trusts “this man” – and while he’s still in York the royal council (i.e. the Woodvilles – no vested interests there) feared suffering death—or at least being ejected from their high estate.

Pause for consideration. Was it the Woodvilles trying to protect Edward V from Richard, or the other way around, Richard wanting to protect the boy from his rapacious maternal family? Whichever, the Woodvilles decide to crown Edward V asap and take control of him themselves. So, no respect for EIV’s wishes, that’s clear enough, but no mention of this small disloyal point. Anyway, Anthony Woodville sets off from Ludlow to take Edward V to London for swift coronation. They are to pause the journey in Stony Stratford.

Richard, still in York, learns what’s going on in London and “with an army of 6000 men” sets off to intercept young Edward. HOW many men? How do 6000 spring out of the actual 200 “gentlemen in black” with whom Richard actually came south?

Reaching Stony Stratford, Anthony Woodville places Edward in the Rose & Crown inn (now a private house). The boy’s actual room is known, and Lucy is shown in. She sits on the bed (not Edward’s bed, of course, but it’s what we’re supposed to imagine). There she sits, her eyes quite shimmery. Poor little boy, about to be seized by Uncle Beast!

Leaving the boy there, Anthony Woodville went to meet Richard and as a result of this meeting Richard had him arrested following morning. No reason is given, it’s just the bald statement that Richard did this awful deed. The fact that he’d twigged the Woodvilles were plotting against him is beside the point.

Supporters of Richard III say he did the right thing because the Woodvilles were a bad lot. Others say he had to move against them because they were a threat to him and he needed to act. His own life, and that of his wife and son were in danger. The Woodvilles, having shown their hand, couldn’t afford to let him live!

Edward V

Next we see the sad leave-taking between Edward V and Uncle Anthony. The boy is waving tearfully from a window, and Anthony waves back from the garden, never again to be seen by the boy. In fact Woodville is hauled off the prison and execution. All for no reason, of course (we mustn’t mention Woodville plots). Then Richard and his “army” [of 6000] escort Edward to London.

Oh, and by the way, so far we haven’t had a single glimpse of Richard himself. He’s the elephant in the room, and completely invisible. Is this because (thanks to the 2012 discovery of his remains) Lucy (Tudorite) wouldn’t be able to depict him as Shakespeare’s monster? Probably. I can’t think of any other reason to hide him from public view. Let imagination do the trick.

Right, Richard and Edward V reach London, and there follows a lot of emphasis on coronation dates being juggled around. Then, wonder of wonders, Lucy promises us something that will prove Richard intended his nephew’s coronation was going ahead as planned. Off we go to the British Museum, where the gentleman in charge (I didn’t catch his name) produces some gold coins, which were believed to be of Edward V with Uncle Richard’s boar’s head of Richard as Lord Protector on them as well. Aha! You’ve spotted that little word WERE. Yes, you’ve guessed it. Coins that were believed by the British Museum for 1½ centuries to be proof of Richard’s good intentions toward his nephew were proved by an analysis in 1990 to actually be of Edward IV, the boy’s father. The mint mark is for Richard’s reign. The coins were simply issued at the same time. So, no proof at all of Richard’s intention to proceed with his nephew’s coronation. Aha. Clever little Lucy.

The British Museum chap is asked if he thinks Richard was guilty of the Awful Deed. “Oh, absolutely.” So that’s two out of two against Richard. Three if you count Lucy herself, which clearly we must, because she’s certainly not impartial.

Threatened, Richard writes to York for assistance against the queen and the Woodvilles. He says they intend to destroy him and “the old royal blood of the realm”. Is this to protect Edward V? Or himself and his own ambition? Ambition? I’d say he wanted to protect his own life and those of his wife and son. But oh no, Lucy prefers his ambition to be the spur. And what happened to the 6000 men? Surely enough to fend off the Woodvilles? Hmm, suddenly they’re nowhere to be found. And Richard’s strapped for cash as well.

So Richard decides Edward V can’t be crowned without his little brother present. Little brother is holed up in sanctuary with Mummy, so Richard surrounds it with troops.  (Aha, the 6000 must be there after all!) Thus Richard gets both boys, but the Very Next Day the coronation is postponed again. Shock! Horror!

Then Lucy and the briefcase move to the site of St Paul’s Cross, where a gentleman named Dr Shaa preaches about Edward IV’s pre-contract. The children of the late king and Elizabeth Woodville are illegitimate. SHOCK! HORROR! Cue a haunting shot of autumn leaves rustling across the marker where St Paul’s Cross once stood. Nothing symbolic there, right? And guess who’s the next legitimate heir? Good old Uncle Richard! Nudge, nudge.

Don’t forget, so far Lucy has only had people on the programme who condemn Richard – Hicks and the British Museum—and there’s still no sign of Richard himself. Rumour had it that he was behind Dr Shaa’s “shattering pronouncement”. Let’s face it, if rumour had suggested he wasn’t it wouldn’t be on the programme! Whatever, Richard is clearly going to snatch the throne. Some people think this was all part of his masterplan, others that he had to be persuaded into it (raised Worsley eyebrows, more nudge nudge)

Richard is crowned on 6th July 1483. The princes (um, not no mo’ they ain’t because they’re illegitimate, remember?) were still in the Tower. They’re seen playing in gardens…but then were placed in “this building, which the Victorians named the Bloody Tower (pronounced Bul-uddy for meaningful emphasis). All their attendants are barred from access to them. Mancini takes over the narrative again—day by day they were seen less…then rarely….barred windows….and then ceased to appear altogether.

So we have Lucy sitting in gloomy window in the Bul-uddy Tower with the ever-present briefcase and saying in a hushed tone: “One thing is certain, by the end of the summer/beginning of the autumn 1483, the princes were gone.” Then she gets up and walks away in slow motion. (Reach for your hankies, folks, this is a solemn moment….)

Richard’s actual reign is glossed over. Two years, then extinguished at Bosworth by that All Round Good Egg, Henry Tudor. Well, he’s the Daddy of the House of Tudor…we don’t actually see Lucy on her knees in worship, but I can imagine it rather well.  Henry marries Elizabeth of York, thanks to some excellent engineering by her mother, Elizabeth Woodville.

Um, yes… Anyway, the on-screen graphics now shows a family tree of little white roses being completely overshadowed by one huge red Tudor rose. I think we’re supposed to get the point that the Plantagenets are dust and the glorious, almighty Tudors are now dazzling the scene. Lucy (suddenly bright, breathless and shiny-eyed) has a feeling that “at the dawn of this new era the sorry business of the princes was part of a painful chapter that everyone was eager to forget.”

Lucy has no doubt that Richard was guilty of everything under the sun but gives a nod toward getting to the truth. So she turns to….The Sainted Sir Thomas More. Good grief. She does admit that he couldn’t have been a witness to anything. But he tells the truth, you understand. Well, he wore a hair shirt in order to suffer as Christ suffered, so he couldn’t possibly tell porkies. When he takes details from the “confession” of James Tyrell, he can be relied upon to tell it as it was. That Tyrell was tortured isn’t mentioned. Then we get the whole Miles Forrest/John Dighton crap. The little boys were smothered. More tears glimmer in Lucy’s tender eyes.

We have That Urn, of course. Charles II believed they were the boys, so it must be true. We have a close-up of Lucy’s delicate fingertips tracing over the marble carving of the urn. No mention of how bones could be buried overnight under a stone staircase without anyone even noticing. Perhaps they had quick-setting concrete back then? And the medieval version of a couple of JCBs? Anyway, the urn has only been opened once, in the 1930s, when completely biased scientists set out believing the bones belonged to the princes and move heaven and the planets to make sure this was believed. And the bloodstains on the bones were the blood of Edward V and his brother.

Off we go to Dr Turi King. Lucy tried hard to get her to bad-mouth Richard III, without success. Dr King speaks in facts…and the so-called bloodstains were actually the stains left by iron nails. Oops. I’m surprised she was left in the programme. Dr King also said that the only way to prove anything about the contents of the urn would be radiocarbon dating….which could well prove they were actually of Roman/Anglo-Saxon origin. Oh. Was that in Lucy’s script? Must have been overlooked. So instead Lucy says she has reservations about radiocarbon dating the dead! (Unless it proves they belong to the boys in the Tower, of course.) She admits that all that can really be said is that the princes are missing. Wow, she’s sharp. Anyway, I’d put Dr King on Richard’s side, so that’s one for Richard, three against (I’m still including Lucy).

Next we go to someone who’s definitely on Richard’s side. Matt Lewis of the Richard III Society. He makes the mistake of using the word ambiguity concerning some of the facts/evidence, and Lucy’s on it like a greyhound. Ambiguity…ah, yes, that plays into her Tudor hands. So, now we’re two for, three against.

And who do we end up with? Why Dr Tim Thornton and his “new” evidence that proves More (hair shirt and all) was telling the truth because he was in contact with the sons of Miles Forrest and John Dighton. He had a Eureka moment when he found a document in the National Archives that mention an “M Forest “going to More in Bruges. Oh, well, that’s it then. Proof absolute. There was only one M Forrest in England. As for whether the sons of men who were accused of murdering two children in the Tower would actually go around with a bell about it….well, that’s another matter. And isn’t it a little smelly that the sons of such men should be accepted in the Tudor court? I would have expected them to be snuffed pdq. After all, their fathers murdered Henry VII’s brothers-in-law— who’d been legitimised by said Henry VII and therefore had a better blood claim to the throne than Henry? Not that I’m of a suspicious turn of mind, you understand, but it smacks of reward for services rendered.

So, Dr Thornton, I don’t believe it, and I certainly don’t regard it as new evidence. Lucy believes it though. Tally ho! Her belief about Richard’s guilt is vindicated.

She finishes by telling us that yes, she believes Richard was the murderer of his nephews. Well, that much was clear from the outset of the programme—her belief, that is, not Richard’s actual guilt. The whole thing was biased, and nothing more could ever have been expected of someone who believes everything Tudor should be enshrined.

With this latest offering Lucy sees to it that Richard receives the same-old, same-old, and I’m very disappointed. I thought perhaps she would be a little more balanced, but I fear that inviting the Richard III Society on the programme was an empty gesture, to appear even-handed. Her mind was already made up.

And so is mine. Thumbs down to a broadcast that should be renamed Lucy’s ‘Orrible ‘Istory….

And while Richard may have been pointedly absent from the programme that ripped him to shreds, he’s very present on this blog!

from the Worcestershire Branch of the Richard III Society


  1. And too much of the program seemed focused on Ms. Worsley herself, with constant shots of her striding purposefully about here and there looking sleek and businesslike but basically wasting time.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Did you notice that Lucy W refered to Edward V as “little Edward” the whole time? As though he was a babe in arms not a 12 year old. Manipulation of the viewer! And that red lipstick does nothing for her!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent article. I am glad that I didn’t watch it, if I had my television wouldn’t have survived. I notice that there was no mention of Stillington. It’s funny that so many traditionalists never mention him. As for Rivers being at Ludlow and travelling to London with Edward sorry Lucy Marie Barnfield has discovered evidence that Rivers was not at Ludlow because he was on his estates in East Anglia and travelled to Northampton from there. Evidence Lucy, real historians do research and discover evidence to prove that what they are claiming as fact is true.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. More was a saint so he couldn’t lie? What nonsense!
    St Peter (No. 2 saint after the BVM) denied Christ 3 times! That’s a bit more serious than repeating porkies about Richard III, which must have been based on what he was told, (at best) since he was not old enough to have personal knowledge.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I recorded this programme as I was unsure about watching it. I saw some comments on Facebook (I don’t go on very often these days, but had a look to see if anyone had commented) Needless to say I deleted it without watching, my blood pressure wouldn’t cope.
    I’m so very glad I didn’t watch it. I can’t bear it when people are so obviously biased. I wasn’t a big fan of Lucy Worsley before, but even less now.
    I really don’t know how this can be allowed, it’s not history, and I really wish there was something we could do about it, if only to give a proper balanced view. I feel we’re going backwards in trying to restore Richard’s reputation, we’re certainly not gaining any ground.
    I think my friends are sick of hearing me banging the same old drum, but what more can we do?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m with you on this, Glenis. Lucy set up this programme on the pretence of getting to the truth, and then she presided over something that was entirely biased to the Tudor pov. Her show of even-handedness was a joke. I now can’t trust any of her programmes to be accurate, and it’s entirely her own fault.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. That’s a very good summary. I watched the programme on iplayer before it aired and spent much of the time shouting at the screen. Lucy W left so much out and the section about Thomas More and his hair shirt was just bizarre. And when you think that there’s no evidence that More planned to publish his History… I really thought it was very disappointing. She also appeared to ignore the new Audrey Williamson translation of Mancini, which talks in some detail about the extent and limits of the powers of the Lord Protector.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Viscountessw and all, take a deep breath, please… it IS annoying and irritating as all hellfire to see slander and misrepresentation pass as accepted EVIDENCE but that has been Richard’s lot for over 500 years, Worsley is just the latest flack beating a very worn out shambles of a drum. I am actually embarrassed for Prof Hicks, as an academic I recognize when the ‘legacy’ of one’s lifetime’s effort must never be squandered by approaching one’s sacred cow’s with anything but groveling obedience to the narrative. The shame he will take to his grave is he does KNOW he willingly abandoned the most precious duty of any intellectual pursuit: integrity, a questing mind. Let them laugh, we have never closed the book and they refuse to open it – I can live with that.

    And I know he could do better, I am immensely impressed with his work on the IPM’s – when it is just non-confrontational data the man excels, I am grateful that he got at least THAT done in his career. It is similar to the work I just managed to get through, Pamela Nightingales’ 1995 magisterial “A Medieval Mercantile Community: The Grocer’s Company…” which is more than an account of apprentices and records, her area I believe is primarily 14thc monetary and fiscal economics, and I was appreciative of the detail, until, 500+ pages in Ms Nightingale must have realised, oh drat, the Yorkists! And felt the compulsion that I come across so often where the author rushes through them to just wrap it up – be done with them! And so she was, squeezing Edward and Richard down into minute offhand stereotypes she has absorbed from the now cemented Slander-as-Evidence for both brothers – it was particularly jarring for me as I had found her work so lucid and compelling, for 500 pages, until bam! Yorkists, need to unload and move onto the Bibliography and disinfect, quickly!

    How fortunate we are that the same mental elasticity that allows our intellectual betters to use slander as proof that Richard was a murderer but there was no Anne Askew, and Anne Boleyn clearly was a witch who had carnal knowledge of her brother (and every other male within 3′ of her) and the addled cousin kept in the Tower’s solitary confinement for 14 years was surely a nefarious spy about to burst from his lair and bring down the timid Tudor on his rightful throne, and not to forget Tom More, well, just which ONE I might ask?

    The one who was using a pseudonym when he wrote that Martin Luther was having oral sex with a menstruating pig” Or, the Tom More who wrote King Richard had James Tyrrell kill his nephews? Which tale did Tom More believe? Both, neither? The one he wrote for his king, as a good and faithful servant of his king, and if he used crude language in the manner of Luther, so he claimed, he did not refute the content of what he wrote (anonymously). Nor did he finish his ‘work’ concerning King Richard, nor did his family finish that work, it was an outsiders effort to reclaim More’s ruined legacy, as a executed traitor, and if you can imagine this, led by Cardinal Reginald Pole, son of the hideously murdered Margaret countess Salisbury, never accused, never tried, but brutally executed all the same! Oh wait, scholars and the Worsleys (and hacks like Thornton) of the world have no time for a Margaret Pole, do they?

    Keep the research going one and all, Richard will be vindicated, just not by them.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Excellent comment, amma19542019. It puts me in mind of Emery, who once wrote something along the lines of “if a fact doesn’t fit the narrative, it’s best to simply ignore it”. Yes, really. So that filled me with confidence that when I read his work, I can trust him for accuracy, right?

    Liked by 1 person

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