Sherlock: The Mystery of the Princes

sherlock head

Sherlock and Watson are looking for a killer. There has to be a killer or killers because Dan Jones said that ‘The Princes Must Die’ (episode three of Britain’s Bloodiest Crown) and after the Christmas special they are able to time travel which is just as well as they need to whizz back to late C15th England in order to solve the case.

The Game is On!

The list of suspects is fairly normal – people who needed to remove them in order to get closer to the throne, the newly crowned king who feared they would remain figureheads, disgruntled nobles, people who didn’t want the ‘old royal blood’ diluted by ‘chav-bloods’ (thanks Dan – it’s just a touch of Harry Potter for the kids yet also relevant to TOWIE fans) and then there are hired killers who might have done it for the money, to get out of the hangman’s noose, to get into the history books!


So, to the murder scene: – mist rolls in off the river, occasional lights from un-shuttered windows shine on wet cobbles as our intrepid duo slip like shadows into the precincts of the Tower. Access is restricted but that’s no bar to a genius like Holmes. He can disguise himself in a myriad of costumes; boatman, delivery man, guard, servant, one of the king’s men, one of Buckingham’s, Stanley’s, a priest, a rat catcher. The possibilities are endless.

Sherlock knows his stuff, he’s read contemporary accounts and knows that they were seen less and less after the summer of 1483, most likely being moved deeper into the precincts of the Tower. He knows that the most secure area would be the White Tower, the centre of the complex and that few people would have had access to them since Richard’s coronation. There were rumours of plots to free them so the guards had likely been increased as Richard was away on his first royal progress.

The boys have lost everything – their titles, their status, their legitimacy. They have no resources, no coin, no clothes but those that are brought to them. Their doctor, John Argentine reported that the elder of the two prayed constantly and kept his soul clean, fearing imminent death.

Watson has been reading Sir Thomas More’s later account of their murder and has some questions. ‘According to More, Richard ordered John Green, a messenger, to ride to the Tower and demand that Sir Robert Brackenbury, the Constable of the Tower, kill the princes. King Richard was at Gloucester on his progress at this time. Brackenbury refused so Green rode back to his king who had reached Warwick and at this point a servant suggested that Sir James Tyrell might do it as he wanted promotion so Richard ordered him to take a letter to Brackenbury demanding the keys for the night so that Tyrrell could carry out the crime. He in turn hired two assassins, Miles Forest who More says was already a murderer and John Dighton, Tyrrell’s horsekeeper to murder the princes. This was risky because men can talk, they can betray secrets and this was a very big secret. More didn’t know exactly what Richard instructed them to do with the corpses though he did know that Richard thought up the idea whilst on the toilet which is surprising! According to More that meant that John Green, Sir Robert, the servant and the two assassins all knew about what happened yet none of them talked or were subsequently silenced by Richard. So, if Dighton and Forest killed them perhaps they panicked and started digging or perhaps they thought all along that burying them at the murder scene was the best way to preserve the secrecy of their crime? Why?’

‘Go on Watson.’ Sherlock is pacing about at the foot on a staircase, looking for newly disturbed stonework.

‘So, according to More after the two murderers had dug out ten foot of rubble under the stairs they must have lowered the bodies down into the hole. This is where the discovery of two skeletal remains in the 1600’s come in because if these were the remains of the two princes they were placed inside a wooden box because this is clearly mentioned in the accounts. Guess that makes sense to contain the smell of decomposition but bearing in mind their ages, 9 and 12 it would have to be quite a big box to lower into a specifically dug hole. That would be difficult to fit under the staircase unless the remains were dismembered before they were placed there to fit into a smaller box. Messy and long winded when they could have been bundled out in the bed linen and buried elsewhere.’

‘Go on Watson!’ Sherlock notes the position of the staircase next to the chapel area where regular services are being held through the hours. This would pose a serious problem to would-be killers. What would they do with all the rubble while they were digging down 10 feet, how could they not be seen, and heard? ‘So the bodies in the urn where found exactly where More said they were buried?’

‘Well, that’s just it because in More’s account Richard changed his mind and ordered the bodies to be dug up and moved elsewhere though Tyrrell said in his later ‘confession’ that he didn’t know where they had buried so the remains were found exactly where More said they wouldn’t have been unless the murderers fooled the king and didn’t remove them and he never asked for proof.’

‘Yes, and according to this source the killers were still alive many years into the Tudor period?’ Sherlock puts his folded hands to his lips and looks at Watson.

‘So, what can we deduce from More’s account about King Richard?’

Watson shrugs, ‘That he wanted them dead but didn’t want to get his hands dirty so sent killers to do it but didn’t think it through very well and changed his mind. He panicked under pressure and tried to clear the trail of evidence in order to avoid being implicated though everyone rumoured that he had had his brother’s children murdered anyway. He discussed his planned crime whilst on the toilet as it was the most private place to talk about such things yet must have trusted all the people he discussed it with very much and decided to let them all live despite the possibility of them talking or betraying him to his enemies.’

‘He also left the two killers at large after the murders when they could have used their knowledge of his crime to devastating effect against him or to blackmail him. Dighton and Forrest sound shady types that could easily talk in the alehouse or demand money for their silence.’ Sherlock sniffs and paces away to peer out of a nearby arrow slit.

‘Perhaps he threated them if they revealed anything?’

‘Why not just arrange for them to disappear too? If he really was capable of double infanticide why would he stop with two low-lifes who he had no reason to trust?’

‘Hmmm, interesting. He needed them dead though. There is clear motive and opportunity there. As king he had access to them through his agents.’

‘Yes, they were still a threat to him despite having been offered the throne by members of the three estates and being an anointed king and by far the most practical solution to the succession crisis. There were people who wanted to use them as figureheads for revolt or pawns in their own power games. What intrigues me though is why Richard didn’t display their bodies to stop any pretenders in the future?’

‘Well everyone would have known he had killed them.’

‘Yes, but being unable to produce them alive would lead to the same conclusion without the benefit of proving they were no longer there to be rallied around. A ‘Perkin Warbeck’ could have been as much a thorn in Richard’s side as he proved to be for Henry Tudor.’

‘True but how far ahead was Richard thinking? Wasn’t he just trying to survive in the short-term and they were a threat if someone rescued them or took them to use as pawns.’

‘They could have been moved elsewhere though. It wouldn’t actually make much sense to keep them where likely plotters thought they would be. Two boys would be fairly easy to smuggle out, especially with the river close by. It might account for the paying off of servants and the doctor so that no one could say where they had gone. Did he really HAVE to murder them when their illegitimacy had already been publically presented and he was now the anointed king? It’s not that I don’t think he was capable of ruthless action but that killing them was unnecessary at this point and might actually work against his own self interest. He invested his own son as Prince of Wales a few months after his coronation so he had an heir at this point to secure the succession. Did he HAVE to murder them and bring down the wrath of God on his kingship and person?’

‘I don’t follow, why would it be against his self interests to have them killed?’

‘Number one: Their mother, the Dowager queen, was still in sanctuary with their sisters. Richard was desperate to get her out as it was a dreadful embarrassment for him. He could use the boys as leverage to make her more responsive to his demands if he had them in custody. If she was told they were dead or found out she would be less likely to hand over her daughters. Number two: If the boys were dead their sisters became more important, he’d be handing her cards to play with as he didn’t yet have the sisters under his control. Number three: Many Yorkists were unsure about the illegitimacy and unhappy about Richard’s Northern support base. Killing the boys would make him a monster in their eyes and drive them into the arms of his enemies. Number four: Richard knew there were other claimants out there in the world like the ‘sometime’ Duke of Richmond. He was removing two impediments to anyone else who wanted to make a bid for the throne with a less than perfect hereditary claim.’

‘That happened anyway though. Everyone thought they were dead and he didn’t produce them.’

‘Yes, but he couldn’t have shown them off without re-igniting attempts to release them and if he’d had them smuggled out what would be the point of announcing to everyone with a vested interest that they were still there to be rescued. Perhaps he wanted to sit out the rumours and for people to settle down and realise where the future lay?’

‘So we have no idea if they were killed or not, if they were whether it happened at the Tower or elsewhere or whether they were smuggled out and ended up anywhere else.’ Watson scratched his head and sat down on a nearby bench.

‘Correct! Also think about Sir Robert Brackenbury. He’s Constable of the Tower, he refuses his king’s command yet he died with Richard’s household cavalry at Bosworth. No evidence of any punishment for failing to carry out his orders, delaying this crucially important act or disloyalty to his king. Richard seems to have been very forgiving for a tyrant and child killer!’

‘Just going back to the whole ‘illegitimacy thing’ though, if parliament had agreed that they were bastards it could also reverse that decision at a later date. Richard must have been worried about his security at this point?’

‘Well, yes and no. As the lords spiritual and temporal had only just offered him the crown I think they would have given him time to prove himself. He was the most sensible choice from the possible claimants by far. The most powerful and respected lord in the land, the late king’s trusted brother with a track record of military success and he had a son, if rather young, to potentially succeed him. He had a good record of administration in the North and had managed to juggle the feuding northern magnates for a decade which was no mean achievement. He was also free of the corruption of the previous regime and young enough to rule for another twenty years or more. Of course there were factions who didn’t want him as king and he was clearly vulnerable if someone had been able to rescue the princes and use them as figureheads for rebellion but not so much so if he smuggled them away from the Tower before he began his progress. I think parliament and the people were also motivated by self-interest. They wanted stable government and an end to factional divisions after a generation of intermittent civil war. Trade and good laws mattered more than pursuing the claims of a boy king with unpopular relatives and Richard knew that. Also everyone who had just propelled him to the throne would be traitors if the boy was restored. Who wanted another round of attainders and land seizures that would go straight into the Woodville’s pockets. France and Scotland remained constant threats too. England needed a firm, adult, male hand on the tiller and someone who would fight for English interests and Richard also had a track record of standing up for national interests rather than caving in for a cash hand-out. His first parliament passed laws to protect English traders as well as good laws which benefitted the people and began to tackle corruption in the legal system.’

‘So what if they were murdered but not by King Richard. There’s the Duke of Buckingham who could have been on the scene as he was in London during Richard’s progress or sent someone else to do it. He was high in the king’s favour and of the old royal blood with a claim to the throne himself. He was about to rebel against Richard within a few months and perhaps intended to kill them to remove another impediment to his own ascent to the throne. Also as Constable of England he had the clout to get into the Tower?’

‘He could have been acting for a variety of reasons, his own self interest either before he made a move or in order to clear the way for Henry Tudor. He claimed to be rebelling in order to put the older prince back on the throne yet changed once he had gathered loyalist supporters in favour of Henry Tudor. A Bishop, John Morton was said to be responsible for the change of heart.’

‘Now this is a problem – imagine you are one of the princes in the Tower and you want revenge as soon as you are at liberty to pursue your vendetta. After uncle Richard who do you hate most? The Duke of Buckingham – he’s married to your mother’s sister but has publically declared her family to be beneath his dignity, he was at Stoney Stratford with armed men and supported Richard’s seizure of your person and the arrest and execution of your uncle Rivers. He persuaded the Mayor and Aldermen of London to believe that you were a bastard and has been Richard’s right-hand man throughout the last few awful months of your life. If you were rescued and restored to power you would make it your first priority to get rid of Buckingham. Buckingham would have known that any alliance with the Woodvilles would only last long enough for someone to put a knife through his rib-cage. Further how did Buckingham plan to co-ordinate a rebellion in the Welsh marches with freeing the princes in London? He never intended to try and free them at all.’

‘OK, so was he rebelling to put himself on the throne or in support of Tudor?’

‘Either course of action would have been high-risk. He could have been a chancer but I don’t see him seriously thinking that the parliament or people would accept him as king when there were other candidates with a better hereditary claim. He didn’t have much of a track record to prove himself fit for kingship and proved to be a poor military leader too as it turned out and what would be the point of putting Tudor on the throne in order to enjoy the same position as he already had in Richard’s regime? What could Tudor offer him that Richard hadn’t already granted?

‘It doesn’t make sense at a logical level at all unless he knew that the princes were definitely dead and how could he know this unless either he had killed them himself or Morton provided evidence of this that was strong enough for him to accept and that begs the question of how Morton could know this?’

‘He could have killed them, thinking that Richard would be delighted only to discover that he was furious and then felt backed into a corner and turned to Morton for help.’

‘It’s possible but wouldn’t Richard have reacted immediately and stripped him of his offices and certainly not have placed Morton with him under house arrest? No, Richard trusted him completely to the point when he discovered his rebellion. That’s why he called him the ‘most untrue creature living’ because it came out of the blue and shocked him to the core.’

‘What about this Morton figure then, what do we know about him?’

‘He was deeply connected to Tudor’s mother, Margaret Beaufort and by extension to her husband, Lord Stanley. He was Bishop of Ely and therefore a powerful figure in the church. He was prepared to risk his life in the cause of getting Tudor on the throne and had already been arrested for plotting with Hastings to assassinate Richard before he became king and was richly rewarded as soon as Tudor was crowned, being made Archbishop of Canterbury. He fled into exile immediately after Buckingham’s fall and spread the word that Richard had murdered Edward IV’s sons in order to strengthen Tudor’s invasion plans by winning French backers. People tend to forget that Tudor needed them removed before he set foot in England for fear of them being rescued before he could get to the capital. they also forget that the French needed to believe they were out of the way in order to lend him their support and finance his enterprise.’

‘So what about Margaret, could she have arranged their murder after Richard’s coronation in the hope of promoting her son’s interests?’


‘Possibly though the trail of evidence is non existent. She certainly had the motive and may have been able to contrive the opportunity to get killers into the Tower through her husband’s high standing at court and considerable personal power. Lord Stanley was Steward of the Royal Household at this point. We also have Tudor’s court historian, Polydore Vergil, stating later on that she delighted in the news of their deaths because it helped her son’s ambitions during his exile. We also know that she was plotting with the Dowager queen to marry her eldest daughter, Elizabeth, to her son to assist in establishing his legitimacy if he could defeat Richard in battle. She had been stripped of her titles and estates for plotting treason against Richard but as these were transferred to her husband Richard had done all he could to keep them both in line and on-side. Stanley got Buckingham’s titles after his rebellion so he could have been playing a complicated game, waiting to see which side his bread was buttered thickest?’

‘That would seem to follow true to nature as he did exactly this at Bosworth, sitting it out til the last minute before throwing his lot in with his step-son.’

‘Exactly, who knows what went on in that marriage and who trusted who. I do think Margaret was astute enough to understand her husband’s nature and her only goal was getting her son on to the throne. Stanley would have sold his grandmother for his own advantage so she probably distrusted his commitment to the cause. Perhaps she saw the prospect of ensuring their sister would become queen as balancing out their disappearance?’

‘Doesn’t this plot between the mothers suggest that the Dowager queen knew her sons were dead by this point? If they turned out to be alive Tudor wasn’t going to risk his skin to fight for them even if they promised him the earth if he planned to take the ultimate prize for himself and when his children could be heirs presumptive?’

‘It would suggest that she had given up on them ever being found alive by this point, yes. She had to play the cards that she held and Elizabeth was her best chance of retaining any control over her own destiny or her other daughters. She had lost so much in a short space of time.’


‘Poor woman, she must have been desperate.’

‘Yes, well let’s not let sentiment cloud the facts, Watson. She played for high stakes and lost. Everyone was gambling with their own lives and their family not to mention the poor unfortunates who followed them blindly into war.’

‘So where do we go from here? The trail of evidence has gone stone cold. They might have been moved from the Tower, they might have been buried here and then dug up and re-buried elsewhere, they might have got away or been taken anywhere. Strange that Henry Tudor never formally accused Richard of killing his wife’s brothers, never had masses said for them or found bodies though.’


‘Indeed, he wanted them to disappear as much as anyone else and to establish his own legitimacy as quickly as possible. It was fortunate for him that Elizabeth proved to be fertile so quickly and he had a new Tudor/ Plantagenet prince in the cradle to take people’s minds off the princes. Of course their ghosts continued to harass and obstruct him throughout his reign, first with Lambert Simnel and then Perkin Warbeck. Usurpers usually tend to spend their reigns fighting off challengers. Richard would have found the same problem if he had survived Bosworth. There would have been pretenders without bodies to prove otherwise.’

‘So, we’ve failed then. Hit a dead end. Even the great Sherlock Holmes couldn’t solve this case.’ Watson looked crestfallen at Holmes who remains unmoved as usual.

‘There’s always the next Christmas special Watson, with no Downton Abbey in the picture we could double our ratings….Let’s focus on Warbeck and the holes in his confession.’











56 Responses to “Sherlock: The Mystery of the Princes”

  1. giaconda Says:

    Reblogged this on murreyandblue.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sara Waterson Says:

    Love it!


  3. Lady of Winchester Says:

    Don’t you know- it must have been Margaret Beaufort because Phillippa Gregory said so.

    …..and surely there was nothing suspiciously convenient about the timing in the revealing of the pre-contract? I mean after 19 years, someone just suddenly remembered Edward IV had already been married whan parliament could not find cause to have the marriage annuled at the beginning. Surely Mr Holmes does not have to consider that one……


    • timetravellingbunny Says:

      Or maybe, just maybe someone was well aware that publicly calling the living, current King a bigamist and liar and his children bastards may not be, eh, good for your health?

      Maybe that someone also got arrested mysteriously by Edward IV and then released at the same time when George, Duke of Clarence got arrested and charged with treason for a bunch of rather odd, vague reasons…

      And just how odd is it that Henry VI, desperate to get his new bride legitimate again and legitimate his own rule, did not expose this total lie about Edward IV’s bigamy? Instead, after interrogating Bishop Stillington, he forbid the Parliament to talk to him, and simply ordered all copies of Titulus Regius destroyed without being read. What odd behavior…. I mean, under the assumption that Edward’s bigamy was a lie, rather than the truth that Stillington testified to.


    • timetravellingbunny Says:

      “Henry VII” obviously, not Henry VI. I hate the lack of edit function.


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        Its possible- but then its also possible that the Titulus Regulus was a lie. Let’s face it- the Yorksits hardly had a history of truthful and accurate representations of thier rivals, of the past, and of that which did not suit their purposes. That people believe everything they say today is testament to the fact that they were very convincing and accomplished liars, and that unlike the Tudor kind, thier propaghanda is still readily accepted, pretty much without question.

        Anyway, Medieval marriage law was complicated, and by rights, it was in he jurisdiction of the church, not the state or a civil court to make judgement on marriages and thier validity. That’s what usually happened.

        There was also the matter of present vs future consent in marriage contracts. Namely, did the parties say ‘I do marry you’ or ‘I will marry you’. The former could be taken as a valid ‘marriage’ but not necessarily the latter.

        Add to that the fact that I read recently that technically, under Canon law a marriage should not be declared invalid after the death of one of the parties and we have a whole new can of worms. The potential illigality of the whole declaration of illigitimacy after all.

        Oh deary me! I for one very much doubt Edward IV would have knowingly entered into an illegal marriage, realizing that his children could be declared illigitimate after his death and so not suceed him. Would have made all the killing to defend his position, crown and progery kinda pointless.


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        I might also add there are two other aspects about the pre-contract story and the events afterwards that are suspect- first is that there was only one witness- who seems to have been only too happy to serve the ends of Richard III and the goverment.

        Second- why was the matter not put before a church court? Marriage law, and all matters relating to it were the jurisdiction of the church. As records show that the church courts were the institution that made the final judgement on marriage disputes for people of all social strata- right from peasants and commoners upwards.

        Why was a secular court, whose members may not have been familar with the complexities of marriage law, or educated in canon law allowed to make a judgement on the King’s marriage? Could it be because the Richard III and the government did not want the matter judged in a church court, as they were worried they might judge in favour of its validity?

        I think that the problem with people now- we have way too much faith in the integrity of figures like Richard III and the Yorkists. We don’t even seem to consider that they were quite capable of manipulating the legal, juducial and political system in their own favour, regardless of what the law might actually have said.


  4. Lady of Winchester Says:

    Also, Mr Holmes, if old Dickie was universally accepted by Parliament- one has to wonder why there were so many plots and schemes afoot to get rid of him, break out the Princes, or rebellions.

    Clearly he was not universally adored…..who knows perhaps some people were still loyal to the child King, in spite of his unpopular relatives- and were horrified by what the man sworn to uphold his succession did.

    Lets also recall that Richard lost his son and wife a year into his reign…….not such a secure position after that.


    • timetravellingbunny Says:

      So many? Wasn’t there just one attempt to break out the boys, and just one rebellion, Buckingham’s (which was also Henry Tudor’s 1st failed invasion)?

      I’m a bit confused as to what the deaths of Richard’s son and wiefe in 1484 and 1485 have to do with the events of the summer 1483. Unless Richard had the gift of premonition.


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        Well, Margaret Beaufort would had to have had the same gift of premonition for her to have killed the Princes, and for any plan for her to pur her son on the throne to have worked- but that does not stop people from thinking she did it.

        I recall there was more than one rebellion, or attempted rebellion and uprising- but I would have to look it up.


  5. giaconda Says:

    Sherlock is fully aware of the plots against Richard in the late summer of 1483 and alluded to them in the text and has registered the fear of the princes being figureheads for rebellions. Sherlock also knows that the members of the three estates who agreed that there were sufficient grounds for the pre-contract to be believed were not a full parliament but rather those who were still in London after the initial parliament was cancelled and that Richard certainly did not have the full confidence of the whole parliament or population generally and was vulnerable to plots, hence the discussion over the Buckingham rebellion and allusion to the Hastings et al plot before he became king in the text. Sherlock is also fully aware that there were active plots attempting to release the princes from the Tower which is why he makes the elementary point that keeping them exactly where plotters thought they were going to be seemed a bit dim! He also stated quite firmly that there was not a shred of evidence to prove that Margaret Beaufort was behind any murder although we do have Vergil’s later statement that she was delighted at the prospect of them being dead and considering he was Tudor’s paid up official historian that would suggest that it was common knowledge and accepted at court which must have made Elizabeth of York feel very cherished!


    • Lady of Winchester Says:

      Drat it, why is there no reply button on these things. I am sure you’ve realized that any reference to Mrs Gregory on my part is purely sarcastic/ironic/tongue in cheek. I am quite aware that there is not a shred of evidence for Margaret Beaufort’s involvement.

      I like to say that her her to have pulled off something like the murder of the Princes- she would have to have been psychic and a criminal mastermind of the order of Professor Moriarty (sorry Mr Holmes)- knowing in advance that Richard’s son would die, throwing the sucession into some disorder, and knowing that her son would defeat the seasoned warrior Richard in battle- and also making sure that nobody suspected her in any way.

      …..and frankly, I don’t think she was any of the above. Not that she was dense, or lacking in drive or ambition- but really- as you say, one has to take account of what was actually possible and what was not.

      Liked by 1 person

      • timetravellingbunny Says:

        Actually, the death of little Edward wouldn’t have been necessary, if Henry could defeat Richard and become King. No doubt Richard could have been proclaimed usurper and traitor, and his son would have fallen under the attainder and been in the same position as his cousin Edward, Earl of Warwick.

        Henry’s only chance to become king always demanded a victory in battle over Richard. There was no other way. And it’s not like he was going to have a duel with him, one on one.


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        That’s the point. I know of no examples of any claimant in history, who decided the best way to get the throne was to kill the deposed heirs of the former King.
        Killing the Princes would not have solved Henry Tudor’s problems, and it would not have made him King, as some have proposed. He would still have had to kill Richard.


  6. giaconda Says:

    Regarding the pre-contract, Sherlock has taken into account the argument that Stillington may well have already approached George of Clarence with his evidence many years prior to the events of 1483 which would explain why Stillington was suddenly arrested and imprisoned for a while at the time that Clarence finally fell from grace and was then subsequently done away with by Edward IV in secret. This makes logical sense as Clarence was highly ambitious and hated his sister-in-law and her family. He needed something just like the pre-contract to undermine his brother and Elizabeth Woodville and the pre-contract was the perfect weapon to use against them both and her family’s influence at court. It was likely to be believed as Edward had also married Elizabeth in secret without proper protocol and the queen’s family were not popular with the old aristocracy either. The timing of coming forward in the Spring of 1483 was elementary. Stillington knew that if he had done so when Edward was alive he would have been silenced forever and he needed a ‘protector’ in the form of Gloucester. The fact that Richard was offered the crown by the lords spiritual who were present at the meeting of the three estates is also very significant as they were all well versed in canon law and therefore either Stillington’s evidence was sufficiently reasonable to be accepted or they wanted to find something to prevent a child king being installed and the pre-contractual evidence provided the excuse to pass over the princes and remove their mother and her family from power. It may well have been more expediency than truth but nevertheless they did offer Richard the crown. A mixture of self-interest and concern for the ‘common weal’ seems the most logical explanation for their actions rather than a personal ‘love’ for Richard of Gloucester or personal grudge against the persons of the two princes. Sherlock has no emotional connection to Richard III and is looking at the situation based on the evidence before him and his understanding of how self-interest acts as a prime motivator.

    Sherlock also mentioned that, if Richard had survived Bosworth, he would still have most likely spent his reign fighting off rebellions in the same way that Henry Bolingbroke struggled to establish his legitimacy and Henry Tudor would go on to learn over the Cornish revolt, Battle of Stoke, Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck rebellions during his reign. None of these kings enjoyed universal acclamation from all sides – even Henry Vth had to deal with plots from his closest associates so it seems a slightly tenuous suggestion that Richard was unusually ‘unpopular’ in the short time that he was king because there were plots against him.

    The Buckingham rebellion was a poorly thought out failure and easily dealt with. Future rebellions might have been much more dangerous but they do not concern Sherlock anymore than the future deaths of Richard’s son and wife which were unknowable at the time when the contemporary or later Tudor sources suggest the princes were most likely murdered – i.e. the period immediately after their personal servants and doctor were dismissed and when Richard was away on his first progress through the country during the summer and early autumn of 1483. The longer they were alive after this initial period the less likely the necessity to kill them, especially if they had been removed to a more secure location and Richard had become more established and the Titulus Regius passed by parliament.

    Sherlock finds the case intriguing but he is keeping his options open and balancing all the evidence before making any judgement. He is unmoved by sentiment or emotionally charged argument for or against any of the main players in the game.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lady of Winchester Says:

    I have only skimmed the article thus far, I will try to read in more detail at some point. The examination is certainly one of the better and more thorough, as there is so much emotional involvement muddying the waters. (He/She was such a wonderful person they could not have done it—- was such an evil person it must have been them etc etc etc).

    I am curious about this notion of the representatives of the ‘Three Orders’ wanting to get rid of a child King though. Not that I disbelieve it, and yes, of course, there had been child Kings and unpopular advisors before- Richard II for instance. Yet- Edward V was not so very young- going on 13. Edward III had been not much more than 3 years older at the time of his succession to the throne- and look at the circumstances of that- his father probably murdered, and the government being run by his Mum and Mortimer, and thier advisors- who then proceeded to ‘get’ his Uncle.

    Edward is regarded as one of the greatest of all the Plantagenet Kings. So I suppose not all child Kings were unmitigated disasters. I do wonder whether there were other factors at work- personal and selfish motives certainly, and maybe some inherent sense of instablity- dare I say- lack of legitimacy- of the Regime and its right to hold the throne? Same as Henry Tudor or any King who took the throne by force? Perhaps the good Professor Hicks was right, when he suggested that the legitimacy and credibility of the royal position took a nose-dive in the fifteenth century?

    Liked by 1 person

    • timetravellingbunny Says:

      The legitimacy and credibility of succession in England was dubious since 1399, so before the 15th century had even begun.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        C’mon, now you’re splitting hairs. That was one year (in fact a few months if we’re going to be pedantic) before the beginning of the fifteenth century.

        ….and I was not talking about the ‘legitimacy of succession’- but of the monarchy itself. The whole thing became a farce, with X, Y and Z siezing the throne with a very dubious basis and claim.

        If I really wanted to put the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons, I could say that Henry Tduor’s ancient Welsh Blood gave him more of a right to rule then any person of Norman and Saxon descent, as both of those peoples were foreign invaders, whereas the Welsh were the sucessors of the Romano-Britons, and by turn the Celts- the indigenous inhabitants of these Islands.

        I will say that the so called ‘Richard III DNA gap has shed some interesting light on Richard III’s lineage. It would appear that it may support the rumour about his Grandfather being the illigitimate son of John Holland, Earl of Kent, and not Edmund of Langley, Duke of York. If that is the case, then the Yorkist were only descended from Edward in the female line, through their mother and two grandmothers- and two of those female ancestors were descended from John of Gaunt- Cecily Neville and Joan Beaufort, her mother.

        Which at the end of the day would mean the Yorkists were more closely related to John of Gaunt then any other son of Edward III. Now that would be a turnout for the books……illigitmate blood on both sides, descent through a female- are we’re told these things render the Tudor claim null and void.


  8. giaconda Says:

    Ditto about the reply button! Yes, I agree with your arguments. I think the royal state had anyways been subject to questioning, right back to the Anglo-Saxon period there had been a conflict between monarchs and the power of the church and between ambitious nobles or contenders for the throne vying with each other and the monarch to seize control but the events of the C15th certainly did nothing for the authority of kings or the feeling among the general public that rather than steering the ship of state and protecting their subjects they were more interested in clinging onto power for themselves which is why I do give credence to the ‘common weal’ argument. The Yorkists used this as a slogan and undoubtedly there was a propaganda element to this but there was also a deep need among the people to find a king who would govern for the ‘common weal’ and tackle corruption and the power of the barons to abuse the law. I think it is very telling that Richard’s first parliament was so concerned to pass legislation that tackled abuse and corruption. He was clearly responding to a popular call for good laws that were consistent across the country and less open to bribery and foregone conclusions which favoured the powerful over justice. This was a direct result of the WOTRS because normal governance was constantly disrupted by violence and instability and it gave lords with their private affiliations the opportunity to rule like petty tyrants in their localities. I think that henry Tudor was wise in recognising that the power of the lords had to be curbed by all means and perhaps Richard’s legislation was his first step along that path but he never got the opportunity to follow through. I do think he had a good grasp on the problem having spent so many years grappling with the Northern lords like Stanley and the Percys.


    • Lady of Winchester Says:

      Have you heard the argument that Richard’s demise was some sort of conspiracy by the noblility against a champion of the common people, when they realized he was going to strip them of thier wealth and power? I’m not buying it myself.

      Oh yes, Richard’s governement may have passed laws dealing with corruption, but I don’t think that even Richard himself was above such behaviour.
      One only has to look at some of his actions when he was Duke of Gloucester- like his treatment of the Countess of Oxford. I know some would seek to justify this by claiming that she was a ‘Lancastrian’ and may have been helping the King’s enemies in exile, but forcing an old woman to sell her lands at half thier price with underhand tactics, threats and bullying is, I fear a prime example of corrupt, self-serving conduct by an over-mghty and grasping Lord. Maybe I am judging by modern standards…….but it still seems dubious to me.

      One might wonder who provided the ultimate impetus for such reforms. The King himself- or governement personell? It was possible for parliament to act with its own Independent will- and the notion of ‘Good Lordship’ was really a very old one.


      • giaconda Says:

        Here’s my take on this: Yes, I think Richard was part of the system and there is some evidence that he may have had placed men in York elections and used questionable methods in order to gain lands and resources. I think we might be hard pushed to find a nobleman who didn’t during this period. I think that the three cases of Anne Beauchamp, Lady Hungerford and the Countess of Oxford are interesting and demonstrate what happened to women who’s husband’s backed the wrong side during the convoluted twists and turns of the Wotrs. Richard benefitted at their expense. Resources were removed from them, unquestionably against their will which greatly effected their lives, and reallocated with Edward IV’s approval and partly that was because Richard was not as generously provided for as George and Edward wanted to reward him using Lancastrian estates and money and partly probably due to a genuine fear that these women were likely to use their estates to support the Lancastrian cause. I’m not making any moral judgement here on either side. Who knows whether these ladies agreed with their families’ decisions or were helpless pawns along the way. Civil wars tend to be particularly hard on women caught up in the middle and often with divided loyalties. In the case of the Countess of Oxford she was ordered to appear before Edward IV on several occasions at the time that her lodgings were searched and it may well be that she was actively supporting her son’s activities which brought her into the line of fire. In another 60 years she would have been thrown in the Tower and executed for this type of behaviour so perhaps she got off lightly, perhaps she was a genuine victim all round. Josephine Wilkinson’s book on Richard’s early life is interesting here and generally quite fair and balanced. I also think that Richard often did Edward’s dirty work – the jobs that Edward wanted to keep at arms length because they damaged his image and was probably told that if he wanted resources he had to go out and make it happen.

        I think the legislation of the one and only parliament is very telling and more than just the result of government personnel dictating policy. There was a clear message through Richard’s proclamations, acts of parliament and actions during his first progress that he was standing on the ‘anti-corruption’ ticket. He wanted to re-establish the role of the king as the administer of justice, directly through his own person and by proxy through his judges and he wanted it to be clearly seen that justice was to be fair, easily accessible and in the spirit of the great English traditions as exemplified by Magna Carta. This was all eminently sensible at the start of a new reign and especially important after such a period of instability and lawlessness. Edward IV’s reign was not noted for its high standards, there had been corruption and sleaze and Richard wanted to start with a clear signal that he would be different. The language of the Titulus Regius demonstrates this too. He was also probably very aware that the corruption of the system which he had played himself gave nobles huge power and that these ‘great magnates’ needed to be curbed. Henry VII was to go on to do just that and was certainly no fool. Richard wanted to hit at the system which allowed the Stanleys and the Percys and the Warwicks to hold kings to ransom with very good reason and, of course, they didn’t like that one bit. He needed the kind of loyalty that Edward III had enjoyed in the early part of his reign because Richard really wanted to raise a national army and re-take lands in France or to crusade against the Turks or against Scotland. He was a long way off being able to do any of this because the nobles were too powerful and the treasury was depleted. Personally I think he faced a pretty difficult challenge in these circumstances and wouldn’t have wanted to be him for any money!


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        …and yet his treatment of men like Hastings does not fit the ‘champion of justice’ persona.

        As to corruption- I am inclined to agree- but I don’t think all of the corruption with with the nobles. Some may have been at the very heart of the system, with the King- possibly turning a blind eye, whilst his favourites and allies disposed of thier rivals by having them executed for treason.

        A lot of people vilify Warwick- but when Edward IV was first deposed there were some genuine accusations of corruption and injustice against him and his regime, which may well have had a solid basis.

        Ultimately, I don’t think Richard could ever had had the degree of legitimacy of Edward III. His family had taken power by force, and killed everyone who got in thier way.


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        Don’t you think that the fact they were ‘Lancastrian widows’ was nothing more than a convenient excuse to bleed them dry and seize thier lands?
        What would it matter if they were or were not helping sons? Nothing at all I would say- the political affliations of thier menfolk whom Edward and his cronies had killled was nothing more than a convienient excuse to bully, threaten and get what they wanted out of them.

        We are talking about Edward IV here- probably one of the most accomplished liars in English history, who re-wrote history in his own favour, and whose family had a track-record of justifying political murders, and any dubious action of thiers as being ‘in the common good’.

        Are we really supposed to believe what they said about these women?


      • giaconda Says:

        I broadly agree with what you are saying. Warwick had his reasons for turning coat, justice was very ‘nuanced’ on all sides during this period and I’m not suggesting that Richard’s track record was spotless, however, he needed to sort out corruption and to establish good government once he was in power. He may also have genuinely been revolted at the way Edward ended up and wanted to sweep it all out and start over. I know the Titulus reads as very ‘moral’ and I think some of that tone came straight from Richard himself because he hated what his brother’s court had become and it also provided a means of rooting out the ‘old crowd’ and replacing them his own people. Nothing inherently wrong with that, plenty of other kings had got rid of swathes of hangers on when they came to the throne.

        I also think that there could be an argument for Richard seeking to change the terms once he came to power. Henry Tudor did this after Bosworth – he claimed the throne from the night before to make loyalists into traitors and then enacted legislation to prevent the same thing happening again. Kings did this sort of thing. It may well have been a combination of factors including a desire to see better justice but also combined with self-interest and a need to limit the power of the nobles. You work the system til you get to the top then change it from within.

        I don’t know about the whole Hastings saga. I think Richard needed to be rid of him because he was a threat and a slippery eel who might make all kinds of trouble for the Protectorate. He probably had been plotting via Jane Shore with Grey and Stanley/ Morton etc… He could have come with weapons, with a view to assassinating Richard that day, he could have been set up, not only by Richard but by his co-conspirators as a patsy which isn’t often suggested. They might well have played him for a fool and allowed him to be captured with arms and dealt with to get rid of him too for their own advantage. You would have thought that everyone involved would have turned up armed if it was a serious attempt to assassinate Richard so either the others got cold feet or they let Hastings walk into a trap or he didn’t have weapons at all, we will never know!

        Plenty of other political opponents had been given show trials with no opportunity to defend themselves, had been gagged and marched off to summary execution. If Richard had been a more long lived or successful king the Hastings episode would likely have been washed over.

        If Richard had wanted to get rid of Hastings it would also have been more sensible to send assassins in the night or for Hastings to meet with a nasty accident than to create such a public scene so I’m thinking that Richard was on the defensive there but just rolling ideas around as the evidence isn’t conclusive either way.


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        I’m sorry, but I cannot agree that Richard’s breaking his oath to his brother, siezing the throne and deposing his sons was a wholly ‘good and moral’ thing to do. Was it you who suggested that the Titulus Regulus was nothing more than propghanda, made up for the purposes of putting Richard in power, and did not have much actual weight or credibility.

        Nor do I accept for one moment that everyone who was loyal to the Princes and the ‘old order’ as a ‘baddie’.
        All this talk of how wicked and corrupt the previous regime was, and how the good, honourable, virtuous and moral reformer Richard wanted to ‘cleanse’ it is looking too much like a whitewash of Richard for my liking. …..and for the record, most other kings did not ‘get rid of hangers on’ by executing them en masse.

        Many Kings talked of wanting to bring good and just government- even John did at the start I recall. Words do not always match actions and deeds, and I think in Richard’s case- the actions spoke a lot louder.


      • giaconda Says:

        I think the fact that they were Lancastrian widows was highly significant and the Yorkist administration wanted to starve Lancastrians abroad of funds so seems quite sensible to make sure their families were not in a position to help them financially. It was tough on these women but during times of war these things occur. I’m not defending the Yorkist position, just saying they had their motives for taking the lands of these widows rather than any other hapless widow. Of course it would matter if they were funding sedition and plotting at home! The Yorkists had only just won back the throne after fleeing into exile. They were in no mood to be sloppy about what they saw as seditious activity or the possibility of such activity. De Vere was a headache that Edward wanted to get rid of!

        As you think Edward was a liar why shouldn’t the pre-contract be true? In which case Edward had been passing off a bigamous marriage for many years and lying to everyone. He had married a totally unsuitable person for ‘love’ and left a large number of children who now had a question mark over their legitimacy. All sounds consistent with your own assessment of Edward’s character therefore Richard was the next male, adult, Yorkist heir and accepted it when it was offered to him. If he had no knowledge of the pre-contract he would have felt betrayed by Edward and especially so if he put two and two together the worked out that Edward had had his other brother George judicially murdered because he had known about it. So much for Richard the oath breaker if you think Edward was the liar all along.

        The tone of the Titulus would support this. Edward’s final years had been ‘sleazy’ unless you believe that the stories about his mistresses and shared bed-hopping with Hastings and Grey were all lies and he was really a paragon of virtue? I suppose it might all have been an elaborate web of deceit on Richard’s part to discredit his admirable brother. Maybe Edward wasn’t too fat to go to war either? Maybe all the petitions which Richard dealt with on his progress from people who had grievances to be settled were also fictions invented to make his brother look bad?

        No, I never said that about the Titulus. I think it is plausible that Edward did have a pre-contract with Eleanor Butler. Of course there was an element of propaganda about all written proclamations and parliamentary acts including the Titulus, that goes without saying, but I’ve never dismissed it all out of hand because it is an interesting historical document and can be read in a nuanced way.

        I never said that the old regime were all ‘baddies’. Richard wanted to establish his own men at the start of a new administration, hardly unusual or surprising in any way. His years in the North meant that he had not established bonds with London based bureaucrats and he wanted men he knew and trusted. This caused its own issues but it was understandable. He replaced about half of the administration so a fair proportion remained in office which counters the argument that he irradicated the old administration. More would likely have been replaced if he had lived longer and some would have been retained if they remained loyal.

        Hastings may well have been actively plotting to bring him down, he took Hastings out. I did not endorse this as a morally just action, just said that from Richard’s point of view he was a theat. He might well have been, we don’t know.

        His words were matched by action in the form of legislation which is still regarded as moving in the right direction towards equal justice for all. He didn’t invent this but his legislation was good. I’ve already discussed possible motives for this legislation.

        How many executions consistute ‘en masse’? I’m thinking at this point we are talking about those arrested at Stoney Stratford with Lord Rivers and Hastings. Others like Morton and Stanley were released. Were there mass executions at this point?


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        What I am saying is that you seem to automatically assume that these women ‘must’ have been involved in sedition because Edward IV said so. Is there actually any proof that they were? Where is the evidence?

        The claims of seditious activity seem more like a convenient excuse to dispossess them then a reflection of any criminal activity on thier own part.
        Also, take account of the age of the Countess of Oxford. She was in her sixties by the time her land was siezed, she died only two or three years after the Edward retook the throne.
        If she did not appear at Edward’s summons it may well have been because she was not in good health- not because she had something to hide. Who knows, it might well have been the stress and trauma of having her lands seized that ultimately killed her.

        ..and Edward IV was a liar when it came to re-writing history in his favour- as was his father when it came to justifying his actions in the name of ‘the public good’. I don’t however, seriously believe he would have married anyone if he knew that marriage would not be legally valid and could be declared so by his rivals.

        Medieval marriage law was not clear cut, depending on the words said in a verbal contract. Parliament tried to find cause to have his marriage to Woodville annuled in 1464- but could not then lo and behold- 19 years later someone just so happened to remebmber the pre-contract. Yeah right, even Philippa Gregory might have trouble making that one work.

        So my original assetion still sticks. There seems to be a real reluctance here to admit to any underhand dealing, tactics or selfish motivations on Richard’s part. More like Saint Richard the reformer.


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        The point is that, whatever we might think about the ‘justice’ of Richard’s action in 1483- I think people at the time had every right to see him as a usurper and perjurer- and lets not forget, oaths were not something taken lightly in those days.

        Its quite possible that many people felt that Richard had taken the throne illegally and under false pretenses, and had no choice but to oppose him. (To throw something else in the equation, church law actually held that a marriage should not be declared invalid after one party had died).

        If anything, I think Richard’s actions after 1483 did more to discredit the Yorkist dynasty and play into the hands of his enemies than anything else.


      • giaconda Says:

        The ‘saint Richard’ accusation is starting to wear rather thin now. I’ve just said that he had played the system, had placed men in elections and been given Edward’s dirty work to do, that he had benefitted from the dis-inheritance of others and probably wanted Hastings neutralized so I can’t see the justification for being tarred with the ‘saint Richard’ brush in the slightest. What I’ve been at pains to point out is that his actions were rational and sensible from the perspective of his own self interest – most new regimes promise reform and tackling of corruption. You only have to look at modern British politics to see how one party blames the previous one for all the ills of the world. This is common practice. They may even believe the justice of what they say because it is based on conflicting ideologies which seek self-justification and the vilification of the opposing side. Richard may well have had an element of that in his first parliament too because his rise to the throne had not been a regular one and he needed to win people over. Again no attempt to white-wash him in any way even if the pre-contract had been true he probably still felt there was ‘guilt’ and suspicion hanging in the air over the way he came to power.

        It is interesting that you see Edward IV as a liar and yet don’t think he would marry secretly in a way that might lead to the validity of the marriage subsequently being questioned because that is exactly what he did do with Elizabeth Woodville. The precedent is there for Edward following his own personal desire over the rational course of action which I think does open the argument for his previous relationship with Eleanor Butler being true.

        The real point is that in 1483 the members of the three estates who met decided in favour of offering the crown to Richard – now the morality of that decision is a complex issue – but the fact remains that despite many people being uneasy about the course of events they did agree to this. I think the basis of this decision was that they did not want a minority kingship under Woodville control, even for a few years, and they were prepared to be convinced by the evidence of a pre-contract. I do not believe that Richard had the means to intimidate every one present at that meeting into offering him the crown even with the support of Buckingham. The members choose to believe the pre-contract because it was in everyone’s best interests to have an adult, male king with a military background to defend English interests, protect English trade, stand firm against foreign threats and hopefully bring stability to government. That is about as pragmatic an argument as you could wish to make and very far removed from any attempt to glorify Richard’s hold on the public imagination. Self interest again based on a desire for stability and control.

        As to the treatment of the widows look at how Cecily was treated after the Sack of Ludlow, was there direct evidence that she was actively plotting with her husband? She was caught on the losing side and treated accordingly because she was the wife and mother of ‘traitors’. The evidence could easily have been fabricated in order to seize their lands, I never said otherwise, or they could have been actively involved in plotting with their families, the reality was they were weak and lost out. The same would have happened if the Lancastrians had gained the upper hand. As Thucydides famously said ‘the strong do what they will and the weak accept what they must.’


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        Well, again, I’m sorry if I got the wrong end of the proverbial stick. I guess it just seemed like he was being cast as the passive victim of other people’s scheming and really didn’t know what was going on. That one I have heard before. Had no idea they were going to offer him the crown? Yeah, right.

        I do think that a person as capable of playing the system and putting his own men in positions of power was probably capable of manipulating partiament and pushing them to do what he wanted. Any conspiracies might have been very handy in bolstering his cause…..


      • giaconda Says:

        I don’t see Richard as passive in any way, just caught on the back foot when his brother died unexpectedly and he was in the North of the country and possibly not even officially informed of his passing for some time. One of the most telling contemporary quotes about him, which I think rings true, was that he was always decisive and swift to act where action was required. There is a difference between passivity and being reactive. I see Richard’s actions as reactive in the period between April and May 1483 and then very decisive once he had the means to act. It was actually a very effective strategy given his initial position and demonstrates his ability to think fast and harness the resources at his disposal to neutralize what, he saw, as threats to his person and position. He could easily have gone under, either being taken out by an assassination or imprisoned on trumped up charges to get him out of the way. The farther South he went, the greater the risks and he was well aware of that. He played it ‘all or nothing’ and in the short-term, his strategy was very effective but he had weaknesses and an element of bad luck which increasingly undermined him as time went by.

        I have no doubt that Richard had spies in Edward’s court, he would have been stupid not to, everyone else in the game would have had them too. I have no doubt that he would have needed to garner as much support as possible among the three estates and probably already had influence with some who sat to decide the issue of the pre-contract but I don’t believe that he had the means to coerce or intimidate men drawn from across the country and including some of the leading prelates and canon lawyers in the land who were not under any obligation to him personally. It served their own interests to offer him the crown.

        I don’t have a massive objection to the label ‘usurper’ as long as it is applied consistently. The Lancastrian kings were all descended from a ‘usurper’ who had used parliament to depose the incumbent king and then had him murdered,

        Edward IV had been a ‘usurper’ too who used the battle field to claim the throne by right of conquest and blood, as Henry Tudor would go on to do when he ‘usurped’ Richard’s throne. We need to be even-handed here or run the risk of sounding very biased indeed about who we think can take the throne and who can’t. The Plantagenet dynasty was built on who could get the crown on their head first when a king died, often at the expense of their immediate family members.

        Liked by 1 person

      • giaconda Says:

        Small aside on the Hungerford family. Robert, 3rd Baron Hungerford who had his lands seized by Edward IV after backing the losing side at Towton turns out to be a fine example of a ‘bully-boy’ land grabber in his dealings with the Paston family. He disputed a manor in Norfolk, took forcible possession of it twice and violently assaulted Paston’s wife Margaret, before having to surrender his claim to Paston. (Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, i. xxxi, lxix, 75-6, 109-12, 221-3, iii. 449). Lord Wenlock was entrusted with the care of Robert’s wife and family by Edward IV, in one of his Yorkist phases before he returned back to the Lancastrian cause and Richard was granted the Hungerford lands by Edward IV.

        Ironically Richard later pardoned the youngest Hungerford son, Walter, who went on to plot against him and fight for Henry Tudor at Bosworth and who killed Sir Robert Brackenbury so that turned out to be a mistake!

        Rather like the example of Hornby in Yorkshire where the Harringtons came up against Lord Stanley, this episode gives a flavour of the times regarding the importance of property and what powerful men did in order to obtain it.


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        I know about some of the troubles the Pastons had- though not just with the Hungerfords0 they had some problems with the Duke of Norfolk too. Why does the term ‘robber Barons’ come to mind?


      • timetravellingbunny Says:

        “His family had taken power by force”

        From the family that had also taken the power by force in the first place, and happened to have an inferior claim to the throne?

        ,”and killed everyone who got in thier way.”

        LIke who? People who were trying to kill them in battle? Maybe Edward should have just rolled over and let his family be exterminated or exiled?


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        Why do people assume that the Yorkists had the strongest claim to the throne? Think about it why? From what I see, its pretty much because they said so.

        If one really looks into it, it was not that great at all. Their grandmother was descended from the daughter of the second son of Edward III. Yeah, there were probably a lot of others who had similar credentials- being descended from daughters of sons.

        Why did the Yorkists make such extensive use of propaghanda- a pyschologist could probably tell you that any group or political party that has to do that has serious feeling of insecurity or inaquequacy, that they have to encourage other people to accept thier legitimacy by re-writing the facts in thier favour.

        As for your comment about Battle- well that could be applied universally. The very fact that Edward IV was deposed twice in two years, and had to fight battles to get back his throne shows something about the problems he had, and how he had been reliant on others to prop him up and support him.

        How come, if he was the ‘rightful King’ with the universally accepted strongest claim there were so many people prepared to risk thier lives in the cause of the other side, and so many who still held some seblance of loyalty to them? Clearly, his simply saying ‘See- I have the better claim’- was not good enough.

        Don’t even get me started on the way that Edward IV allowed a sadistic pyschopath- John Tiptoft ‘The Butcher of England’ to have a free reign. A man with a penchant for torture- which had been fordibben under English common law for centuries. He was also allowed to try people for ‘treason’ without trial. Now if any other King did that, he would be called a tyrant, who was corrupting the law and customs of the land……


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        I would also ask, Time Travelling Bunny- was George of Clarence trying to kill him? No, I don’t think he was- or was the Earl of Desmond? Nope- he was pretty much minding his own business in Ireland- until Tiptoft the psycho butcher was sent over there, and had Desmond executed because his rivals said he was a ‘traitor’, seized his lands, and according to one account, hanged two of his children, before Desmond’s family took understandable exception, and King Edward had to issue an official pardon and apology. The whole thing was an absolute disgrace- and this was the man whom the King had appointed.


  9. giaconda Says:

    Going back to your earlier comment on Philippa Gregory and Margaret Beaufort – yes, all in the spirit of playful Dan Jones bashing and I’m no fan of her writing by any means! In terms of how Sherlock would view it, I think Margaret did have a motive for wanting them dead because she was plotting to marry her son to their sister and if Henry was to make a bid for the throne he needed them out of the way permanently but there is no evidence of her involvement in their disappearance. Lord Stanley was a very powerful figure and I expect that her intention in marrying him was to promote her son’s interests as it certainly wasn’t a love match. We know how much the Stanley family liked to keep a foot in all camps and who can blame them given the circumstances. Loyalty and devotion could ruin a family for generations. Margaret had a hard road and had been forced to be tough to survive. Sherlock would register that she was devoted to her son and wanted to protect him and his interests at all costs which might have made her sanction morally questionable acts in order to achieve her desires but he wouldn’t demonize her anymore than he would any of the other players. Bishop Morton’s part in all this does interest him greatly and he wants to know more about his movements and communications throughout this period!


    • Lady of Winchester Says:

      On the subject of Tudor’s marriage, it was mentioned in a biography of Margaret Beaufort that Edward IV may have been considering a marriage bewteen Tudor and his daughter before his death as a form of political reconciliation. (Bringing a possible rival into the court and family circle.)

      In this context, I think the argument might be made that the Princes would have been much more useful to Margaret alive as the brothers-in- law of her son, than dead. It would make sense considering the influence of the Woodvilles and other relatives. To be honest, killing Richard and his son would have done more to bring Henry closer to the throne then bumping off the Princes…..

      Liked by 1 person

      • giaconda Says:

        Interesting point. It might have been politic to get Henry Tudor back in country under your eye whether Edward intended to follow through with a marriage and restoration of estates or use it as a lure and then lock him up somewhere very secure. I’m not sure Edward would have given his eldest daughter over to an exiled rebel with nothing to offer her. She had been betrothed to the Dauphin of France and was expected to make a spectacular marriage but maybe one of her younger sisters would have been a candidate if Edward was seriously concerned about Tudor’s threat level. I know he did attempt to capture him but he escaped so perhaps he was sufficiently concerned about him and the Beaufort/ Stanley affiliation to do something like this.

        He might also have been aware of the lesson from history in the form of Henry Bolingbroke who returned claiming he was only after his inheritance and ended up on the throne. Edward had done much the same himself when he landed in Yorkshire and claimed he only wanted his estates so he might also have been rather wary of letting Tudor return under those terms.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        I know he pulled that stunt. Did he really think anyone would believe it?

        The same book said that he had also supposedly offered his daughter to Prince Edward of Westminister as a ploy to try to get him back into the country . Personally, I would not have trusted Edward him any further than I could throw him.


      • Jean A. Dickey Says:

        Edward IV specifically chose Ravenspur as a location because Bolingbroke had done so roughly seven decades earlier, he pitched himself in a similar manner as he sought to depose Henry VI once again. Warwick the Kingmaker’s previous and prior about face impelled Edward IV to take this course.


      • timetravellingbunny Says:

        It wasn’t a matter of people believing him. It was a matter of people having an excuse to let him through without being in open treason of Henry VI, and keeping both foot in the door.

        I have doubts that that many people believed Bolingbroke either, what with the bad blood between him and Richard, and the fact that he had openly vyed for Richard’s throne years before, when he and his father were throwing the “Edmund Crouchback was Henry III’s eldest son” fabrication out there.


  10. Jean A. Dickey Says:

    King Harold Godwinson has himself crowned almost within hours of the passing of Edward the Confessor in January of 1066. His reign is shorter than Richard the Third’s and there is a young boy-prince who is ignored and not crowned, even though he had a more legitimate bloodline than William of Normandy and Harold Godwinson! Incidently, the boy-prince lived to trigger a rebellion or two by the year A.D 1070. Richard may not have killed either or both of his nephews. Perkin Warbeck may be less of a liar than we think! I had an idea i put on Matthew Lewis’s blog recently, about the chest or box found under the Tower chapel stairwell in the reign of Charles II.


  11. Jean A. Dickey Says:
    “Edgar The Aetheling, (born , Hungary—died c. 1125), Anglo-Saxon prince, who, at the age of about 15, was proposed as king of England after the death of Harold II in the Battle of Hastings (Oct. 14, 1066) but instead served the first two Norman kings, William I, Harold’s conqueror, and William II. His title of aetheling (an Anglo-Saxon prince, especially the heir apparent) indicates he was a prince of the royal family; he was a grandson of King Edmund II Ironside.

    After the Norman Conquest, Edgar submitted to William I, although the new king was occupied until 1069 in crushing rebellions in favour of the aetheling. Edgar lived in Scotland (1068–72) with his brother-in-law, King Malcolm III Canmore, and then went into exile when William and Malcolm came to terms. In 1074 he submitted to William again, and in 1086 he led a Norman force sent by William to conquer Apulia, in southern Italy.

    Under William II Rufus, Edgar was deprived of his Norman lands in 1091, giving Malcolm an excuse for raiding the north of England. Edgar then mediated between the two kings. In 1097, acting on William’s orders, he overthrew Malcolm’s brother and successor, Donald Bane, a foe of the Normans, and installed Malcolm’s son Edgar on the throne of Scotland. About 1102 he went on a crusade to the Holy Land. He sided with Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, against Henry I in the struggle for the English crown. Edgar was captured by Henry in the Battle of Tinchebrai (Sept. 28, 1106), was released, and spent the rest of his life in obscurity.”


    King Harold Godwinson has himself crowned almost within hours of the passing of Edward the Confessor in January of 1066. His reign is shorter than Richard the Third’s and there is a young boy-prince who is ignored and not crowned, even though he had a more legitimate bloodline than William of Normandy and Harold Godwinson! Incidently, the boy-prince lived to trigger a rebellion or two by the year A.D 1070. Richard may not have killed either or both of his nephews. Perkin Warbeck may be less of a liar than we think! I had an idea i put on Matthew Lewis’s blog recently, about the chest or box found under the Tower chapel stairwell in the reign of Charles II.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady of Winchester Says:

      Jean, its an interesting perspective- but it must be mentioned that there is one important difference between Pre-Conquest England and later Medieval England.

      Before the Conquest, the succession to the throne was not necessarily determined by Primogeniture. Rather, any relative of the King (or even in some cases, a previous King), could theoretically claim the throne, although they usually had to have the support of the Witan/the nobles to ratify that claim.

      The general idea is that the nobles would favour the person who was seem as the best or better canditate. This was probably the reason why Alfred suceeded his brother, Ethelred, rather than Ethelred’s boy son, Ethelwold.
      This was also the probably reason why the adult, and seasoned warrior Harold was chosen over the teenage Edgar in 1066.
      I also read some suggestion that there were some who did want to crown Edgar afer Hastings, but he submitted to William the Conqueror before that could happen.

      By the fifteenth century, however, it was usually expected that a King would be suceeded by his son. We know Edward IV wanted his son to suceed him, and Richard was supposed fo have sworn to uphold that. He could only become King by breaking at oath, and deposing the lawful heir.


      • timetravellingbunny Says:

        Or by said heir being declared illegitimate. Kings were expected to be succeeded by their sons, but only their legitimate sons. Henry I tried to make his legitimate daughter succeed him, but he never tried the same with one of his many illegitimate sons or daughters.


      • Lady of Winchester Says:

        Time Travelling Bunny.

        I am finding the problem here is that people seem to think declarations of illitigimacy were final. They were not- the Tudors show that. Both Mary Tudor and Elizabeth were declared legitimate at one point, yet both succeded to the throne.

        Or lets take the Beauforts- cut out of the sucession by Richard II- put back into it by Henry VI. Even the Yorkists ancestor, Philippa was cut out at one point if I recall- not because she was illigitimate, but because she was female.

        So if we’re going to apply that standard to the Tudors, why not apply it universally?


    • Jean A. Dickey Says:

      Here is an interesting article about the legal questions that came into play over the succession to the throne. Each century seemed to have a different set of rules that they went by. When we get to Hanover and George I, the rough rule of thumb was once again hit with one of its exceptions. Clearly by the late 1600s and early 1700s Parliament becomes the ultimate arbitrator and we see the evolution of a Constitutional Monarchy. There is the continuity and connection to the more ancient past, and the more ancient assemblies.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. giaconda Says:

    Thank you for your input and thoughts.


  13. giaconda Says:

    There is also the argument that Edward II may not have been brutally murdered at Berkeley Castle either and may have lived in Italy into the reign of his son, Edward III. I’m not sure what to believe over this argument but if he did survive this would provide another precedent for not committing regicide every time there was a regime change. The circumstances were different, of course, and presumably Edward III had no active involvement in the deposition of his father.


    • Lady of Winchester Says:

      I’ve heard the theory. Although I find it difficult to accept that a man like Edward II woud not have tried to get his crown back- although of course one doubts he would have wanted to harm his son.

      The main problem with usurpation was that as long as the old King/alternative candidate lived, there was always the possibility that people might think about wanting to bring him back. Getting rid of him, was in those circumstances, the best option.

      By the way, there is even a story that Harold survived Hastings……


  14. Tanguy Says:

    Mmm, Watson, I feel that we have been given a difficult task and possibly fed a few red herrings.

    Is it true that Margaret Beaufort said she was glad the Princes were dead, presumably so that the way was clear for her son to claim the throne? Apparently not, Vergil says that she was in poor health, but her spirits were lifted by the way her plot with Elizabeth Woodville took hold and the way in which men began to speak of her son as a possible king.

    This seems to be deliberately mis-quoted in order to throw us off the scent.

    Our problem is that without a reasonably narrow time scale for the deed, it is difficult to assign motives to the possible suspects. So Richard is secure on the throne, and has Titulus Regius passed and his potential rebels are out of the country with little prospects in 1484 – but we last here of the boys in late summer 1483, when things were very different. There were plots to free them and rebellions across the west and south.

    Dan Jones mentioned the plan to allow Henry home to reclaim his lands and titles. But Henry was in the custody the Duke of Brittany who would want something in return. What could that be? Security against the old threatening neighbour France, in the form of an alliance with England, would do nicely.

    So, the prerequisite for Henry’s return was the marriage of the Duke’s daughter to the then Prince of Wales. Their children would inherit the thrones of England and Brittany – a great deal for all.

    So by killing the Princes Margaret would have been killing Henry’s best chance of a safe journey home. There was reason for Henry not to trust Edward, but with a Breton queen of England who had grown up in the same household as Henry’s host, things would be OK.

    Admittedly, if the Princes had turned up alive and well at the end of 1485, it might have been embarrassing. But before Bosworth, it was always to the benefit of Henry and his mother that Edward V should live and marry Anne of Brittany.

    “Number One” – this is a very shaky argument against Richard’s guilt, because the situation you imagine he should have anticipated did actually occur. He was desperate to get Elizabeth out of sanctuary, but at no point did he try to use the Princes as a lever – neither did Elizabeth ask for anything for her sons. It seems both sides were behaving as if they were dead.

    Lady of Westmister pointed out the danger of the former kings to usurpers. She is correct, however, they are often safe if they have a natural heir not in the control of the usurper. The logic is sound – killing a former king only makes matters worse if there is a new one abroad in exile. You would exchange a threat in your control for one outside. So Henry VI was kept alive until the son was dead.


  15. giaconda Says:

    Vergil said that on hearing the rumour of the death of the princes Lady Margaret ‘began to hope well of hir soones [son’s] fortune, supposing that that dede wold withowt dowt proove for the profyt of the commonwealth.’ Three Books of Polydore Vergil’s English History, ed. H.Ellis, Camden Society 1844, p.185. The deed of the princes being murdered would, in her view, undoubtedly prove to be a profitable one for the commonwealth. That’s what it says. You could interpret that as the view of a dis-interested lady who only wanted the best for England or as the view of someone who saw the opportunity for her son to profit by their demise. As Vergil refers to her hopes for her son’s fortunes in the first part of the quotation I would suggest a direct linkage between the two outcomes but it does say, quite clearly in the blog post, that there is not a shred of actual evidence for her direct involvement in their deaths in the interests of balance and fairness.

    The time scale is a problem because ‘if’ they were murdered we do not know when this occurred. The blog does not confirm a specific time period for their murder as this is unknowable but does refer to plots which attempted to release them and to the Buckingham rebellion which began with the intention of releasing them though whether Buckingham really believed this or not is debatable. These events occurred in 1483, not 1484. Sherlock is perfectly aware that they may have been killed prior to the Titulus Regius being drawn up but that nevertheless Richard was the anointed and recognized king before they disappeared from view.

    So are you suggesting that Margaret was still hoping for a marriage alliance between the bastardised Edward Vth and the Duke of Brittany’s daughter at some point before Henry Tudor took the throne from Richard III? I’m not sure I understand your logic here? If there had been a proposed deal to marry Edward, Prince of Wales to the daughter of the Duke of Brittany in return for Henry’s return to England before April 1483 presumably everyone thought that Edward IV would remain king for many years as he was only around 40 so Henry would have been putting his faith in the long-term or in the expectation that Edward would die quickly. Margaret is a suspect for their murder after the death of Edward IV. Henry Tudor didn’t invade to put Edward Vth on the throne but to make himself king so I don’t follow the logic of saying that Margaret and Henry both needed the princes to be alive before August 1485 because of a proposed marriage alliance. Indeed Vergil’s quote states the exact opposite. When she thought they might be dead she hoped well for her son’s fortunes!

    We don’t know what passed between Richard and Elizabeth Woodville while she was in sanctuary or what she knew about the fate of her sons, that is all speculation. With only limited access to the outside world she may have had no idea as to their whereabouts or been told either correctly or incorrectly that one or both were dead. It’s possible he could have used them as leverage even if they were already dead and been lying his head off, we don’t know.

    Your views on Richard’s guilt are very well-known to anyone who regularly posts on social media and your attempts to prove that the princes died as children by his order from a mis-translation of a Latin genealogical roll which dates to the Tudor period anyway. We are all welcome to hold our own views and I agree must take care to present our evidence accurately.

    This blog was intended to be light-hearted and discursive but I do not see that saying Margaret was delighted at the prospect of their deaths is a ‘deliberate mis-quotation’ given the actual wording of Vergil’s writing which does say that she had good hopes for her son’s fortune and the deed would undoubtedly prove to be beneficial in her eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. giaconda Says:

    Further, I didn’t intend the blog to form an argument against Richard’s guilt but rather a general look at all the possible suspects. Personally I am not convinced by any of the arguments beyond all doubt though I do think there are serious holes in Sir Thomas More’s account but this is to be expected considering he was reconstructing events from some distance and relying on Cardinal Morton’s accounts of the Ricardian period as he grew up in his household during the Tudor period.


  17. Tanguy Says:

    I would like to try to convince you that Margaret Beaufort’s quote from Polydore Virgil does not say what most people think it does. Firstly, the sentence is incomplete. It goes on to say if it could be achieved to bring together the blood of Henry VI and Edward and end the strife between the two houses. So the deed that would be for the profit of the commonwealth is not the deaths of the Princes, but the marriage of Henry and Elizabeth to end the wars.

    Secondly, Virgil never says ‘on hearing of’ but merely ‘after’. When put in the context of the preceding section – which is a digression about the feud between Richard and Buckingham – it is clear that Virgil is placing the plot betwen Margaret and Elizabeth in the timeline. The plot arises before the feud, but after the news of the deaths. So Margaret was not plotting to put her son on the throne until after there was a general belief that they were dead.

    There is no sense in the passage that he is recording her immediate reaction to the news, which is how it is often presented.


  18. Tina Foote Says:

    Sherlock: The Mystery of the Princes | Giaconda

    […]A great reader should always leave his consumer spiritually and mentally glad.[…]


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