… on two of the major rebellions – Simnel and “Perkin” – against Henry VII. This article is from Voyager of History and we may soon be in a better position to know whether Richard of Shrewsbury could have been at Tyburn in 1499.
… on two of the major rebellions – Simnel and “Perkin” – against Henry VII. This article is from Voyager of History and we may soon be in a better position to know whether Richard of Shrewsbury could have been at Tyburn in 1499.
I have a number of beefs about the following extract from this article, which concerns eight unsolved royal mysteries. No, not about the present family, as shown in the above illustration (which is from the article). In the list, the third one is all that is of interest to Ricardians:-
“….3. The mysterious disappearance of King Edward V — shortly after he ascended the throne, his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester and ‘protector of the realm,’ sent him and his younger brother to London ‘for their protection.’ After the brothers were never seen again, the duke declared himself King Richard III….”
Firstly, I don’t really think Edward V ascended the throne. He never was the anointed king. This required a coronation. Secondly, we have the usual inference that Richard did away with his nephews. Thirdly, the younger boy wasn’t sent to London, he was already there. Fourthly, Richard accompanied the older boy to London, fully intending to arrange his coronation. Subsequent events took over, and Richard was invited to take the throne because he was the legitimate heir!
An article in British History Online , as illustrated by this John Zephaniah Bell painting says:
“Here [Westminster Abbey/Sanctuary/Cheyneygates] the unhappy queen [Elizabeth Woodville] was induced by the Duke of Buckingham and the Archbishop of York to surrender her little son, Edward V., to his uncle Richard, who carried him to the Tower, where the two children shared a common fate.”
Ashdown-Hill’s The Mythology of the “Princes in the Tower” (ch.9, p.49) talks about the confusion between Shrewsbury and Sir Richard Grey, who WAS arrested at Stony Stratford. ch.10 p.54 includes your c19 portrait: “Buckingham was also a leading member of a delegation which, on Monday 16 June, was sent by boat a short distance up the Thames to Westminster Abbey, to try to persuade Elizabeth Woodville to release her younger son, RICHARD DUKE OF YORK, from sanctuary and send him to join his elder brother at the King’s Lodgings in the Tower. However, the person who actually led the deputation into the sanctuary at Westminster had to be a priest. Therefore the group was led by another royal cousin, Cardinal Bourchier, Archbishop of CANTERBURY”.
The same volume points out that we don’t know about any “common fate”, whilst putting us in a better position to find out.
I am a great fan of Terry Jones’ writing/opinions when it comes to medieval history, and today just happens to be Terry’s birthday.
That he supports King Richard II I already knew, but I did not know he also thinks highly of King Richard III. What I write below is taken from a book, which itself was originally inspired by the television series Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives, produced by Oxford Films and Television for BBC Television and first broadcast on BBC2 in 2004. It was first published in hardback 2004, and in paperback in 2005.
So, it has to be emphasised that Jones’ opinions were expressed before Richard’s remains were discovered in Leicester. Before so much more had been discovered about that much-wronged king. Jones was a Ricardian at least as far back as 2004. And please do not think that anything in the following paragraphs is my opinion, I merely take from Jones’ writing in order to convey his view of Richard III. So the comments about the bones displayed in the Tower, and Richard’s second coronation in York are his views. The illustrations are my additions. Please buy the book, it’s well worth reading.
Toward the end of the book, when he reaches the matter of Richard III, he expresses his view by launching straight in that the king we all know (from Shakespeare) is very different from the actual man who sat on the throne between 1483-5. Jones refers to the Bard’s character of Richard III as a ‘cardboard cut-out’, to be ‘booed and hissed’, but points out that this creation was written when the Tudors were on the throne. Tudor propaganda is to blame for the wilful and cruel destruction of the real Richard III. An extraordinary effort was made to create the story that Richard plotted to seize the throne of England and then ruled as a brutal tyrant.
Medieval kings ruled by consent, which mostly meant the consent of the nobility of southern and central England, with the earls
In the north being gradually edged aside, which eventually led to the Wars of the Roses, which had ended with Edward IV defeating the northern nobility.
Edward chose his brother Richard to govern in the north, and Richard duly arrived in 1476 with 5000 men. This might have been deemed a threat by the city fathers, but according to their records: ‘After greetings were exchanged, the duke addressed the civic officials within Bootham Bar, saying that he was sent by the king to support the rule of law and peace.’
And so he did, devoting himself to the minutiae of government and justice. He heard pleas on quite small matters:
‘Right and mighty prince and our full tender and especial good lord, we your humble servants, havnyg a singler confidence in your high and noble lordship afore any other, besecheth your highnesse. . .concerning the reformation of certain fish traps. . . In 1482 the York gave him gifts, ‘for the great labour, good and benevolent lordship that the right, high and might prince have at all times done for the well of the city.’ Richard was presented with: ‘6 pike, 6 tenches, 6 breme, 6 eels and 1 barrel of sturgeon’, a local speciality of spiced bread, and fourteen gallons of wine to wash it all down.’
But the darkest story to damn Richard for posterity was the deaths of his two nephews, the sons of Edward IV. Edward, when dying, named his 12-year-old son, another Edward, as his successor. He also designated Richard as Lord Protector, the guard the kingdom and the boy himself until the latter was of age. Richard was in the north when the king died on 9 April 1483, and did not know what had happened. The little king-to-be was in the hands of his mother’s family, the ambitious Woodvilles, who had no intention of giving up power to Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Keeping him in the dark, they began to rush the boy to London, intending to have him crowned on 4 May, but Richard found out, and intercepted them. Outwitted them too. Taking charge of the boy, he escorted him to London, where the future king was installed in the royal apartments at the Tower. The coronation was rescheduled for 22 June, but on the 13th of the month, an extensive plot against Richard was exposed. This caused Richard to see that his younger nephew, another Richard, was placed in the Tower. The boys were thus together, and then the coronation was deferred until November.
This was because on 22 June, Dr Edward (sic) Shaa, brother of the mayor of London, declared to the citizens of London that Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, which had taken place in secret, had been illegal because the king was precontracted to marry Lady Eleanor Talbot.
Richard of Gloucester had been a dutiful and loyal lieutenant for Edward IV, and had spent many years governing the north in his name. Richard was ‘popular, widely trusted, knew everyone and was a capable administrator’. Now he had learned that the children of the Woodville marriage were illegitimate. This meant that Richard himself was the rightful successor.
Everyone agreed with this, and he was acclaimed king on 26 June and crowned on 6 July. Then the princes seem to have vanished, and in due course Tudor spin would make it seem that Richard had them killed.
King Louis the First and Last (see http://www.catherinehanley.co.uk/historical-background/king-louis-of-england), is generally regarded as not being a king of England because he had no coronation. However, the eldest son of Edward IV is counted as Edward V, even though he was never crowned and certainly did not rule. Jones believes this was entirely due to Henry Tudor, who had no ‘meaningful’ claim to the throne, but had seized it in 1485 when Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth. Henry, a usurper, saw how helpful it would be for him if Richard could be designated a regicide. That was why the boy Edward was recognized as a king, even though he never had been. And if anyone had a motive for killing the boys in the Tower, it was Henry Tudor!
‘The bones of two children are still on show in the Tower [sic], proof of Richard’s wicked deed. They were discovered in the seventeenth century, and examined in 1933, when they were said to be vital evidence of the crime. But no-one knows when they date from.’
Everything we know of Richard reveals him not to have been a tyrant. To quote Jones: ‘Almost the first thing he [Richard] did on becoming king was to pay off £200 he owed to York wine merchants. Now there’s a tyrant for you!’
Next Richard, with his queen, Anne, rode north with his entire court, to stage a second coronation. The city of York was notified in advance by the king’s secretary:
‘Hang the streets thorough which the king’;s grace shall come with clothes of arrass, tapestry work and other, for there commen many southern lords and men of worship with them.’
The city put on a particularly lavish display, and all the city fathers, with the mayor, wore scarlet robes as they rode with the king and queen. York seemed to be made of cloth, and the monarchs stopped to watch ‘elaborate shows and displays’.
Of course, all this did not go down well with southern lords. It plunged still farther when Richard gave his northern friends plum places at court. That was why the unworthy outside, Henry Tudor, gained support. He had no real right to claim the throne, but he managed, through treachery, to kill Richard at Bosworth.
York was devastated. ‘King Richard late mercifully reigning upon us was through great treason of the Duke of Northfolk and many others that turned ayenst him, with many other lords and nobles of these north parts, piteously slain and murdred to the great heaviness of this city.’
The only reason we have been brainwashed into believing ill of Richard III is because the Tudors were clever and forceful when it came to spinning their side of events. Henry Tudor’s reign commenced shakily, so he invented a bogeyman.
When Richard was alive, writer John Rous wrote of him as ‘a mighty prince and especial good Lord’. Under the Tudors, Rous ‘portrayed him as akin to the Antichrist’: ‘Richard spent two whole years in his mother’s womb and came out with a full set of teeth’. Shakespeare also wrote under a Tudor monarch, and his sources were Tudor documents.
‘Propaganda, thy name is Henry.’
Science has proved that Edward IV’s more prominent sons are not in his tomb, which was opened a few times but not when anyone could have have been placed there.
Science will shortly prove that they are not in that Westminster Abbey urn, as you have maintained for so long.
So where are you going to claim they are next? If they were in, for instance, the chapel mentioned by Henry “Tudor”‘s crony, then they couldn’t have been in the urn when you said they were.
On the left is a copy of an email from Windsor Castle. Here is Timeline of references that they compiled.
Here is an article from an American website about the “Princes” and John Ashdown-Hill’s work towards determining the identity of the bones in that urn, as detailed in his “The Mythology of the Princes in the Tower”.
The article is rather good. It does fail to notice that Westminster Abbey is a Royal peculiar and so the Anglican hierarchy has no influence. Apart from that, the dental evidence suggests that the remains are unlikely to be related to Richard III, who has been analysed in great detail.
The mitochondrial DNA, which was integral to identifying Richard himself, is possibly understated here but modern scientific analysis, on the basis of this research legacy, could lead to any of the following conclusions:
1) The remains are of the wrong age, gender, era or even species.
2) Their mtDNA does not match that of Elizabeth Wydeville.
3) The remains are of more than two people.
4) The remains are of one mtDNA matching person and one other.
5) The remains are of two people of the right age, gender, era, species and mtDNA.
Conclusion 5 would positively identify them as Edward IV’s sons. Conclusions 1 and 2 would eliminate this possibility. Conclusions 3 and 4 would be more complex as a mitochondrially identical cousin disappeared from the same place sixty years later. The probability of the remains consisting of Edward V, Richard of Shrewsbury and their later cousin is surely exceedingly low, although that cousin or one “Prince” resting with an unrelated individual is more possible.
This is less a book and more of an outdoor swimming pool, becoming deeper as the chapters progress. In the shallow end, the subjects go from the definition of a “prince” and the circumstances under which Edward IV’s elder sons came to live there, centuries before Buckingham Palace was built to the origin of the term “Princes in the Tower” (p.17). Before progressing further, the reader should be aware exactly which sibling definitely died at the Tower, during a “confinement”. For those still unaware why the whole Wydeville brood were illegitimate and how the “constitutional election” (Gairdner) resulted in Richard III’s succession, the whole point is painstakingly explained again.
The dramatic conclusions begin at about halfway, in chapter 17, before the process of the rumour mill and the many finds of the Stuart era are described. In the deep end, we are reminded how science has moved on during the 85 years since Tanner and Wright investigated the remains, including Ashdown-Hill’s own investigations into “CF2″‘s remains on the Norwich Whitefriars site, together with a repeat of the DNA process that gave us Joy Ibsen and thus Richard III in Leicester. This time, he and Glen Moran have found a professional singer originally from Bethnal Green, a short distance from the Tower itself.
What has always stood out about Ashdown-Hill’s work is his superior use of logic when primary sources are of limited availability and it is applied here to several aspects of the subject.
Now that John Ashdown-Hill’s new book (bottom left) on the Tower of London and the “Princes” has been published, we are in a position to know Edward V’s mtDNA, which he would share with his brothers and maternal cousins such as Jane or Henry Pole the Younger. Progress has been made since Moran’s appendix to The Private Life of Edward IV, which detailed potential maternal line relatives who were alive as late as 2016.
Westminster Abbey is, of course, a royal peculiar and it has hitherto proven impossible to obtain permission to access those remains – of whatever number, gender, age, era or species – that purport to be those of Edward IV’s remaining sons in the modern scientific era. They were, however, last asked in 1980 (p.185) and Richard III himself has turned up by this method.
These findings ought to be a game changer and there are more good reasons to be proceed. In 1933, the work of Jeffreys, as of Crick, Watson et al, was wholly unforeseen. Radio carbon dating was also invented after the Second World War.
So, with apologies to Michael Miles and Take Your Pick (below right), is it time to “open the box”?
This is Stratford Johns, who featured heavily in Z-Cars and Softly, Softly. In spring 1976, with his co-star Frank Windsor, their characters appeared in Second Verdict, investigating six mysteries, of which the “Princes” were the second.
It should be possible to locate a recording of this programme.
Part 3 – Woe to that land that’s governed by a child!
“ I can add colours to the chameleon,
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
And set the murderous Machiavel to school.
Can I do this, and cannot get a crown?
Tut, were it further off, I’ll pluck it down.”
“ The reason why we are met is to discuss of the coronation…”
The lords who were summoned to London on the 10 May 1483 attended the first authentic regency council of king Edward V’s reign. Their task was to settle the governance of the realm during the young king’s minority. It was not — as some people think — the semblance of a constitutional body composed of slaves subservient to the will of Richard duke of Gloucester. Quite the contrary: the council was composed mostly of advisors who had served the previous king, Edward IV, including some very strong Woodville supporters such as Thomas Rotherham and Sir John Alcock.
Richard of Gloucester was the senior royal duke. It was natural that the English political elite should look to him for leadership and guidance during these giddy times. It was in that capacity that he summoned a council that he believed could achieve his desire for continuity and conciliation. I think it is fair to say that his desire to implement the dead king’s last will was shared by the whole council. The Crowland Chronicle is specific: “Richard of Gloucester received that solemn office which had once fallen to Duke Humphrey of Gloucester who, during the minority of king Henry, was called protector of the kingdom. He exercised this authority with the consent and good will of all the lord, commanding and forbidding in everything like another king as occasion demanded.” It seems that at the very least, the lords were unanimous in their support for the Lord Protector. Nonetheless, “… a great cause of anxiety, which was growing, was the detention in prison of the king’s relatives and servants…”
The Lord Protector was also worried about earl Rivers and his associates. According to Mancini: “…he attempted to bring about the condemnation of those he had put into prison by obtaining a decision of the council convicting them of preparing ambushes and of being guilty of treason itself. But this he was quite unable to achieve, because there appeared no certain case as regards the ambushes, and even had the crimes been manifest, it would not have been treason, for at the time of the alleged ambushes he was neither regent nor did he hold any other public office.”
Given the well-documented shortcomings of Mancini’s narrative, it might be unwise to pay too much attention to his views on this particular episode. However, if his comments and those of the Crowland Chronicler are taken together we can accept the probability that the arrest of Rivers et al was discussed in council. Moreover, Mancini’s version of events is not inherently fanciful. Although he may be incorrect in some of the details, the general scenario he describes is plausible. There is no reason either jurisdictional, constitutional, legal, political or organizational why this council could or should not have discussed the arrest and detention of Rivers and his associates. If Gloucester did seek the ‘condemnation and conviction’ of the conspirators it would have been uncharacteristic of him. Such an attempt to convict the prisoners unheard would have been a remarkable departure from his scrupulously correct behaviour so far. I don’t believe it. I think that either Mancini has misunderstood what happened, or he was misinformed.
My hypothesis is that Gloucester submitted his actions for the council’s consideration because he and they were anxious about what to do next. Gloucester was probably quite clear that he thought the conspirators should be indicted for treason and he may have been considering bringing proceedings. However, the council took the view that Rivers and Co had not committed treason in law since Gloucester was not Lord Protector at the time. The council did not direct Gloucester to release the conspirators. Perhaps they thought there was a case to answer in respect of the allegation of planning an ambush. I don’t see their decision as a snub for Gloucester; it was a sensible and correct conclusion to the discussion. Gloucester certainly seems to have accepted it in good grace. In ant event this whole discussion confirms that the council was not subservient to the Lord Protector.
“Your highness shall repose you in the Tower”
There were, of course, other matters to discuss. The king’s accommodation in the bishop’s palace at St Paul’s was considered insufficient for his needs and it was proposed he move him to more spacious accommodation. The council considered the Hospital at St John and at Westminster; however, it was the duke Buckingham’s suggestion of the royal apartments at the Tower of London that was taken-up. The Tower of London was the obvious choice since it was a royal residence and far more suitable for the monarch than the either the Hospital of St John or Westminster. It was only during Tudor times that it earned its ‘Bloody Tower’ appellation.
“In God’s name speak. When is the royal day?”
The council also fixed the date for the king’s coronation. The Crowland Chronicle tells us that “…the Feast of the Nativity of St John [24 June] having been decided upon as the decisive day, without fail, everybody hoped for and awaited peace and prosperity in the kingdom.” There is some debate as to whether this is the correct date. It seems from the writs issued summoning those who were to be knighted, that the actual date must have been the 22 June 1483. This is confirmed by the personal writs sent out on the 5 June, which refer to the coronation on the 22 June. It was a watershed moment for Gloucester.
“My Lord Protector needs will have it so”
In the reign of Henry VI, the Lord Protector (Humphrey duke of Gloucester) resigned his protectorship immediately after the young king was crowned in November 1429. Thereafter a regency council governed the realm until the king ‘came of age’. If that precedent were followed, Gloucester’s protectorship must end within a few weeks. It was a prospect that neither the Lord Protector nor the regency council viewed with equanimity. It revived the prospect of the Woodville’s ruling through a compliant boy-king. If that happened, there was a serious risk of civil war. It was in response to this threat that after the council meeting, proposals were bought forward to extend Gloucester’s protectorship until Edward V was of an age to assume the mantle of personal rule. It was also proposed to appoint Gloucester as a ‘regent’, being tutor to the king and protector of the realm.
This was a significant increase in the protector’s power and precisely the type of regency that the Kings Council had repudiated in 1422. There are two ways to construe this development: one negative, the other positive. Professor Kendal espouses the positive view that the council — like everybody else — was fearful of the consequences of a Woodville take-over. Hence, they were unanimous in their support for the extension of the protectorship. It would, of course, have to be put before the Three Estates sitting in Parliament; however, they were just as keen for peace and stability, and were not expected to disagree. In Kendall’s scenario, Gloucester was acting in the national interest to take on this supreme protectorship. Professor Ross adopts the negative view. In his opinion, it was all part of Gloucester’s plan to hold on to power. The council was willing to support him only so long as he acted honourably. However, by the end of the May it was clear to contemporaries that Gloucester aimed for the throne.
There is undoubtedly an element of ambiguity about the reasons for this proposal. The threat to the lives of Gloucester and his supporters from a resurgent Woodville affinity was obvious, as was their (Woodville) unpopularity. But more significantly, there was the overriding fear that the reign of a Woodville dominated child-king might herald a return to the breakdown of law and order that characterized the later part of Henry VI’s reign and was the catalyst for the Wars of the Roses. I believe there is some merit in Ross’ point that the council’s and parliament’s support for Gloucester was conditional on him behaving honourably and, in fact, that is precisely what I believe he did. Ross’ general accusation that Gloucester was deceitful and had a dissembling nature is not borne out by the evidence; especially, his spotless record of service to the late king, but also his efforts to crown king Edward V. In the absence of evidence of wrongdoing he is entitled to be judged on his good character.
. Paul Murray Kendall – Richard the Third (Geo Allen & Unwin, 1955) at page 183; see also note 2, page 466
. Annette Carson – Richard III: the maligned king (The History Press 2013 edition) at page 74; Carson’s argument that Gloucester was the ‘senior royal male’ and “entitled to consider himself in loco protectoris from the moment of Edward IV’s death” is doubtful on two points. First, he was not the senior royal male: the king was. Second, as Gloucester’s father discovered in 1454 and again in 1455, no matter how incapable the king was, nobody else could exercise royal authority. And in the period immediately following the king’s death, Gloucester had no constitutional or legal authority as protector (see note 6 below).
. Nicholas Pronay and John Cox – The Crowland Chronicle Continuations 1459-1486 (R3 and Yorkist History Trust, 1986) at page 157
. Crowland at page 159
. Dominic Mancini – The Usurpation of King Richard III (AJ Armstrong editor) (Oxford, 1969 edition) at page 83.
. Charles Ross- Edward IV [BCA 1975] at page 402; I do not think that Mancini misunderstood the nature of this meeting (Carson page 74). Even if it was a meeting of the King’s Council, Gloucester was entitled to raise the question of Rivers criminality with them. I accept the point that in its judicial capacity, the Kings Council was not a major law enforcement agency. However, it is clear that “ It retained a residual authority derived from the king himself to do justice where other means were lacking, especially where persons of great might were involved”. I would suggest that the possible impeachment of the king’s uncle and governor was a fit issue for the King’s Council. However, if this was not strictly the Kings Council but the ‘ Regency Council’ as I suggest it was, Carson’s objection doesn’t arise.
. See Carson at pages 71-75 for a different opinion of what occurred at the council meeting. Carson is skeptical about the reliability of Mancini narrative. She suggests that it is ‘unlikely and uncharacteristic’ and contains significant errors. First, he is wrong to say that Gloucester held no public office at the time of the arrests and second, he misunderstood the English governmental and justice systems (see note 6). Moreover, his account is unique; nobody else mentions this discussion. My interpretation of Mancini differs from Carson. I think there may be some merit in his account of the council meeting, though not much. He is correct to state that Gloucester was not the Lord Protector at the time of the arrests. Following the 1422 constitutional settlement, Edward IV could not appoint his brother as Lord Protector; he could only recommend that he be so appointed. At the time of these arrests, therefore, Gloucester had no constitutional authority as Lord Protector. It is also unclear whether he had any other legal power to arrest Rivers and his company. His position as Lord High Constable of England was not hereditary; it, was in he king’s gift, as were his other offices. It is at least arguable that his tenure expired with the death of the king. Obviously, the new king or the regency council could renew the appointment but there is no suggestion that that happened here. Furthermore, Mancini is not giving his personal opinion that Gloucester held no public office; he was simply stating what he was told. If what he was told is correct (and it is not implausible) then it strongly suggests that the Gloucester’s vires to arrest Rivers et al in any official capacity was discussed in council, and his authority was found wanting. It is noteworthy that Gloucester accepted the council’s decision gracefully.
. See Kendall at page 419. The assertion by historians’ hostile to king Richard is that the Tudor writers did not invent their view of him; they simply reflected peoples’ opinion of him during his life. This is a cornerstone of the Tudor traditionalists’ case against king Richard. However, that assertion is not strictly correct. Only Mancini of those in England who were ill disposed towards king Richard wrote of these suspicions during his lifetime. Everybody else wrote about their suspicions after the king was dead and at a time when Henry VII was actively promoting Richard III’s black legend so as to enhance the brilliance of his own white legend (and tampering with the evidence). Kendall’s opinion is worth noting, “ in the court of king Henry VII…there existed amongst men who had conspired against king Richard III and brought his overthrow a body of opinion, continually enlarged by tales and conjecture concerning the past, which they had conquered. It was out of this amorphous mass of fact, reminiscence, hearsay growing ever more colourful and detailed with the passing years, that the authors of Henry VIII’s day fashioned the (Tudor) tradition”.
. Mancini at pages 63-65 provides a remarkable description of the contemporary opinion of Gloucester’s character prior to king Edward IV’s death, which is often overlooked by traditional historians: “He kept himself within his own lands and set out to acquire the loyalty of his people through favours and justice. The good reputation of his private life and public activities powerfully attracted the esteem of strangers. Such was his renown in warfare, that whenever a difficult or dangerous policy had to be undertaken it would be entrusted to his discretion and his generalship. By these arts Richard acquired the favour of the people, and avoided the jealousy of the queen, from whom he lived far separated.”