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The Tudor Society

The Princes in the Tower video

As we are having a live-chat session later today on the Princes in the Tower, I thought I'd share with you this 2015 Channel 4 documentary looking at the fates of the Princes in the Tower, Edward V and his brother Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York.

We do not know what happened to these boys, the sons of King Edward IV who disappeared following the accession of their uncle, Richard III, but there are various theories. We can have fun debating them later! Click here for all the details of tonight's live chat.

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There are 5 comments Go To Comment

  1. P /

    Fascinating! Had no idea there was a “confession” to HenryVII and Elizabeth of York.

    1. R /

      The confession was not made in front of Henry Tudor or Elizabeth of York. The King and Queen were present in the Tower, but James Tyrell alleged confession, which has never been found and is only described by Thomas More, was brought to Henry. They were not present at his trial for treason, but their presence in the Tower suggests that they were still keeping a close eye on this, probably to ensure Tyrell made the right decision. He was buying a better death than hanging drawing and quartering with his questionable confession. Tyrell had previously been pardoned by Henry and his involvement in the exploits of the White Rose now led to his own demise. In the articles against Richard iii, Henry does not condemn him for killing the boys, which he could have done. He either had them killed himself, did not know what happened to them or knew that they were alive but could say nothing. We simply don’t know. What evidence that does exist of their demise is sketchy and refers to rumours. A large question mark hangs over the fate of the so called Princes in the Tower, one that may never be solved.

  2. R /

    N.B. The presence of Elizabeth and Henry at the Tower on some of the days of the trial is not evidence that his confession is true or that they attended the trial. The Tower was still the main royal residence in London in 1502. Henry and Elizabeth used it a lot even though they were building new palaces. A royal chaple was at the Tower, the council often met at the Tower and lavish entertainment took place here. As I said no confession has ever been found, Starkey is too reliant on More on this point. As much as I admire Sir Thomas More, which is a great deal, I am cautious on his history of Richard iii, based on second hand information. The video raised several other motives and possibilities, although you can’t explore them all in one hour, which means that we are just as far today from resolving the mystery of what happened to Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, illegitimate sons of Edward iv and his illegal Queen Elisabeth Woodville, as we were 500 years ago.

  3. T /

    i have been eating so many comments on Richard the Third and the Princes in the Tower. While there is no absolute proof of what really happened, I can’t believe that Richard the 3rd-The king of England did not know what happened to his nephews. Was he just told, we cant find them and he said okay? without giving it a second thought? Do you know what Im saying? Wouldn’t he want to know where they were? I can’t believe he didn’t know what happened to them. My opinion even without certain proof was that he had them murdered so they do not rise up against him in the future even if they were illegitimate. If they had people behind them, they would have put him on the throne as did Mary I who was declared illegitimate and she rose up against all those against her and claimed her right to the throne. I refuse to believe Richard the third did not know anything about his nephews or what happened to them. Do people in his realm just do what they want without him knowing about it? Don’t think so. how convenient for him not to know what happened to them after he took the throne form them. SMH. He may not have killed them himself but he knows what happened thats why he didn’t make a big deal about trying to find who killed the Princeses. Why would he wanted both Prince if he wasn’t worried about them raising an army to take their throne when they get older. And as for their mother, i can’t seem to find anywhere where we hear of her mourning the disappearance let alone the deaths of her boys. I know as a mother ,I would move heaven and earth to know what the hell happened to my children. Am I the only one who feels this way?

    1. R /

      No, many people believe Richard killed them and that is fine, it is just not proof. I don’t believe that Richard killed them, as the evidence does not support either a murder or killer. However, your point that he must have known what happened is interesting and correct. I have never thought that Richard did not know. I believe he knew they were alive, he had them moved and protected them, at least at first. It is possible that they vanished in the movement around the preparation for Bosworth. It was possible to vanish inside the Tower, it was possible to be moved to another place and records disappear. All we know is that they vanished from public view. That is all we know. We know that for a time they were attended by their doctor, then little else but rumours. While a time may have come at some stage had they become the focus of rebellion, I agree. they probably would have been tried and executed. Mary Tudor believed she was the rightful Queen and the council changed sides, but she pardoned the rebels including Jane, refusing to even try her until her father rebelled again. It was still months later that she was reluctantly executed. This was not the case in 1483, Richard had no cause to kill them as they were not any danger to him. Even the attempt to rescue them did not for certain result in their demise. Had they as adults later on been a threat, then why murder them, why not try and execute them? As private citizens neither needed the royal apartments that they had lived in nor were they entitled to them. Moving them was smart and necessary. Richard most probably had them moved North and kept under close watch. Why not produce them if alive? Unfortunately as we can’t ask Richard we can’t answer this question. One possible reason would be to take advantage of rumours about their deaths even if this did damage his reputation. Richard did enough good for ordinary people to hold the love of his people, he did not lose this, even if some gentry in the South did not like being replaced and changed sides. He still had the greatest support at Bosworth, despite the self seeking betrayal by Stanley. The contemporary sources support Richard as a fair and just King, in spite of Shakespeare propaganda. Richard also had Henry vi moved to Windsor, were a cult grew up. Had they died he risked such a cult, but he would have given them a proper burial. As I said before, the evidence does not support Richard killing them, there are several other candidates, there are other possible solutions. I would love someone to provide an answer with supporting evidence, even if it did convict Richard iii. However, until this happens, all we can do is debate and say as we believe, for or against, but we simply don’t know. I would love a smoking gun, but at present we don’t have one. I love the mystery, but I would welcome the truth more.

      I understand your view of EW not apparently mourning, but we don’t know how or if she mourned in private. Thomas More has her distressed but More is telling a good story and some historians believe that Elizabeth knew that they were not dead and accepted they were ssfe. This is of course speculation, and, as a mother, I can imagine that you would be totally out of your mind with fear and distress and would demand action. However, Elizabeth was also a woman in a very difficult and subordinate position to Richard, now an annointed King, in sanctuary, with only a few people to pass messages back and forth, cut of from information and power. When she came out she gained a good deal for her daughters, but she was restricted, so what could she do? Even demands for a search may not have been well received or did she actually know that they were alive and had she contact with them? Again, history gives an annoying silence but plenty of room for speculation.

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The Princes in the Tower video