On this day in history, 2nd November 1470, the feast of All Souls, King Edward V was born at Westminster Abbey, London. Young Edward was King of England for just 2 months in 1483 before he disappeared.
The events of his short life, his short reign and how it ended, are linked to the Tudors because Henry Tudor returned from exile to challenge King Richard III, who had, of course, taken the throne from Edward V.
Find out about Edward V's life and how he came to be one of the famous Princes in the Tower, in today's talk. I even share who I think was responsible for the deaths of the Princes in the Tower.
Also on this day in Tudor history, 2nd November 1541, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer gave King Henry VIII a letter that would spark off the beginning of the end for Queen Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife. What was in this letter and how did it bring about this queen’s execution? Find out more in last year’s video:
Also on this day in history:
- 1581 – Death of Gilbert Berkeley, Bishop of Bath and Wells, at Wells. He was buried at the cathedral and his tomb chest can still be seen today, in the aisle of the north chancel.
On this day in history, 2nd November 1470, the feast of All Souls, King Edward V was born at Westminster Abbey, London. Little Edward was King of England for just 2 months.
Now I know that 1470 is not in the Tudor period and that Edward wasn’t a Tudor king, but his uncle, Richard III, taking the throne from him, is linked to the Tudors in that Henry Tudor decided to return from exile to challenge the throne of the man he viewed as an “odious tyrant” and usurper. Henry’s forces beat Richard’s at the Battle of Bosworth, Richard was killed and Henry became King Henry VII, the first Tudor king. Would we have ever had the Tudors on the English throne if Edward V’s reign had continued I wonder.
Let me tell you a bit more about Edward V’s short life…
• Edward was the eldest son of King Edward IV and his wife, Elizabeth Woodville.
• He was born at Cheyneygates, the Abbot of Westminster Abbey’s house, while his mother was in sanctuary there during his father’s exile and Henry VI’s restoration. He was baptised in the abbey with the abbot, prior, and Elizabeth, Lady Scrope, standing as his godparents.
• His father became king once more following the Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury in 1471, and on 26th June 1471 little Edward was made Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester.
• John Alcock, bishop of Rochester, was appointed as his tutor and also the president of his council and his maternal uncle, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, was made his governor.
• Edward was knighted in April 1475, made a Knight of the Garter in May 1475, and made keeper of the realm in June 1475, while his father was in France.
• Potential brides for the Prince of Wales included the Spanish Infanta Isabella, the daughter of the Duke of Milan, and Anne of Brittany. In 1481, Edward IV and François, Duke of Brittany, ratified a marriage treaty between Edward and Anne of Brittany.
• The prince’s council led by Edward as president of the Council of Wales and the Marches, was set up in Ludlow and Edward was at Ludlow Castle when news of his father’s death on 9th April 1483 reached him. Edward was on his way to London to prepare for his coronation when his uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, stopped the party at Stony Stratford, arrested Edward’s half-brother, Richard Grey and his maternal uncle, Earl Rivers, and took custody of the prince. On hearing what had happened to Edward, Elizabeth Woodville went into sanctuary at Westminster once more with her daughters and her other son, Richard, Duke of York.
• After their arrival in London in May 1483, Richard was made protector for Edward and Edward went to the Tower to prepare for his coronation. He was joined there in June 1483 by his brother Richard after Cardinal Bourchier persuaded Elizabeth Woodville to surrender the prince.
• Later that month, a sermon was preached by Dr Ralph Shaw at St Paul’s Cross declaring that Edward IV had already been precontracted to marry Lady Eleanor Butler when he married Elizabeth Woodville, making that marriage invalid and their children illegitimate. Rivers and Grey were executed and Richard then took the throne as King Richard III. The princes were last seen in public at the Tower in June 1483.
• The fate of Edward and his brother, Richard, who have gone down in history as the Princes in the Tower, is not known and is still causing controversy today. Some believe that they were murdered on the orders of King Richard III, while others point the finger at other suspects, and still others believe that one or both of them may have been able to escape or go into exile. An excellent read on the survival theory is “The Survival of the Princes in the Tower” by Matthew Lewis.
• Henry VII during his reign had to deal with Pretender Perkin Warbeck who claimed to be Edward V’s brother, Richard, Duke of York. Warbeck’s invasion and rebellion failed and he was imprisoned and later executed.
Whenever I mention the Princes in the Tower, I always get asked what I think and today I’m going to lay my cards on the table. I don’t want to upset anyone, this is just my personal opinion based on my research and my reading of the situation… I believe that Edward and Richard were killed on the orders of Richard III. They were rival claimants and any monarch of that time would be sensible to remove rival claimants. Edward IV had done that with Henry VI, so Richard really wasn’t doing anything unusual in removing claimants, it’s just that we find it rather unsavoury because they were children and they were his nephews. Richard had to think of his future, the future of England and the future of his royal line.
But, we’ll never know, and that’s what makes this a great mystery! What do you think? I’d love to know.