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Started by Maverickvoice on Jan 27, 2020 12:32:48 PM
The Princes in the Tower - Richard III did them in? - discuss

Recently saw a documentary on this, the general conclusion at the end being "Let's face it, Richard III probably did them in but he probably had little choice." The primary basis for this being the obvious circumstantial evidence that they disappeared under Richard's watch (and he was the top man at the time ) and Tyrell's confession years later (who said he had killed them on Richard's orders - albeit under torture).

Obviously as no bodies were found and testimonies on any subject from the period (of any kind) have to be taken with a pinch of salt (especially confessions) this is a question that can only be answered in terms of what is most likely rather than anything more definitive. But, with that caveat, do people, on balance, agree with the general conclusion that their blood was most likely on Richard's hands?

FleurDuMal - 27 Jan 2020 12:36:39 (#1 of 191)

Isn't there an argument that as they were effectively illegitimate, they couldn't be heirs, therefore Richard would have had no need to kill them?

Leftie - 27 Jan 2020 12:37:56 (#2 of 191)

Oh, I never got this at all. I still don't.

We had this in history lessons at middle school (and quite frankly there was only me listening). I had NO idea what to do about it whatsoever.

I still feel bad about it. I know I was only a child but for God's sake. Surely there must have been one history lesson where people listened to it?!

Anyway, the Princes in the Tower.

cozzer - 27 Jan 2020 12:40:48 (#3 of 191)

I still feel bad about it.

It was YOU!?! 600 year mystery finally solved.

Maverickvoice - 27 Jan 2020 12:42:35 (#4 of 191)

I don't think the "they were illegitimate therefore Richard had no need to kill them" argument really holds up that well.

Henry VI was deposed as a Usurper - Edward IV killed him anyway (probably). I think the point being you can declare or claim whatever you like but unless 100% of everyone believes it, it remains no more than a political claim. If a lot of people did not believe they were illegitimate, then realistically they remained a potential future threat.

Deposed kings in England had a long history of being done in - Richard II, Edward II, Henry Vi ... In that context murdering Edward V fits a well established pattern.

airynothing - 27 Jan 2020 12:44:54 (#5 of 191)

I don't think anyone claimed Henry VI was a usurper. He was the son of Henry V and the grandson of Henry IV (who was a usurper, of course). He was deposed for being basically useless, and probably insane.

Maverickvoice - 27 Jan 2020 12:46:58 (#6 of 191)

In reality Henry VI was deposed because he was pretty useless as a C15th King (and probably mentally ill) - but the excuse was that he was from a line of usurpers (Henry IV being the source of the original naughtiness).

Post by deleted user
Maverickvoice - 27 Jan 2020 12:49:52 (#8 of 191)

...Henry V was arguably a psychopathic maniac - but that was deemed a positive plus in the middle ages.

Jacob_Richter - 27 Jan 2020 12:50:24 (#9 of 191)

And seems back in fashion.

Post by deleted user
Maverickvoice - 27 Jan 2020 13:43:06 (#11 of 191)

Following the theory that Richard did, indeed, have the princes killed, then the narrative for the course of events and Richard's motives would be something along the lines of :

After Edward IV's death in April 1483. Richard moved to control the princes and defer Edward V's formal coronation until at least after such time as he was able to effectively deal with the Woodville faction.

Realising the Woodvilles and other former members of Edward IV's regime were likely to remain a potential threat, at least for the foreseeable future, he then moved to declare the Princes illegitimate in June and claims the throne for himself in July.

After this time the Princes are seen less and less at the Tower. They are not seen again after that summer.

In the autumn of 1483 a rebellion against Richard ensues - initially this involves the Woodville faction and other disgruntled nobles (at some point Buckingham joins the rebels & it becomes known as the Buckingham rebellion). Initially at least some of the rebels are associated with the idea of replacing Richard III with Edward V. Later, after rumours of the Prince's death become more widespread the idea of Henry Tudor replacing Richard gains more traction.

The reasoning for Richard's guilt being that he initially tried to neutralise the potential threat of the Princes by having them declared illegitimate and that it was only as a result of a rebellion that he realises that the threat remains. It being this that finally prompts him to kill the boys.

Another thing that counts against Richard being that, after he defeats Buckingham, he does not blame Buckingham for the death of the Princes (it would have been a golden opportunity for him to do so and thereby put an end to the unpleasant rumours that he had done them in).

frantastic - 27 Jan 2020 16:01:25 (#12 of 191)

Of course he did it. That's why he was called Richard the Turd.

Shadrack22 - 27 Jan 2020 16:10:29 (#13 of 191)

Another thing that counts against Richard being that, after he defeats Buckingham, he does not blame Buckingham for the death of the Princes

Okay, but why didn’t he do this? The ruthless Machiavellian plotter of legend would have been happy to blame it on the now executed Buckingham. He passed up this opportunity.

Maverickvoice - 28 Jan 2020 08:02:30 (#14 of 191)

I don't believe Richard was especially Machiavellian. Ruthless? Without question - every English King of the C15th was ruthless with the exception of Henry VI (and look what happened to him). Ruthlessness was part of the job description.

I don't think Richard set out in the spring of 1483 with the intention of killing the Princes. His aim at that time was simply to neutralise the Woodville faction and gain control of the Princes. It seems likely that events eventually convinced him it was necessary to kill them - but I doubt he started off with this end game in mind. It was more a matter of last resort.

Why not blame Buckingham? The most likely reason(s) would be:

a) Buckingham did not kill them and Richard, not being especially Machiavellian, did not think of it.

b) It would not have been believed by the people that mattered (i.e. mainly the nobility). It would not have been seen as remotely credible that Buckingham could have killed them without Richard's approval. Buckingham almost certainly had no access to the Princes without Richard's say-so and, if that was so, it was probably widely known amongst the nobility of the day that this was the case.

Probably a combination of both of those things. The evidence just keeps pointing back in the direction of Richard as the prime suspect.

Shadrack22 - 28 Jan 2020 08:16:58 (#15 of 191)

I seem to remember reading that Buckingham was Constable of the Tower in summer 1483. Accounts suggest he was a rash and ambitious character. Could there have been a ‘Who will rid me of this turbulent priest’ moment in which Buckingham, who seemed to have his own designs on the throne, seeming to deliver what Richard wanted, sought to remove two obstacles in his own way?

FGBFGB - 28 Jan 2020 08:26:33 (#16 of 191)

Much of the groundswell against Richard in 1484-5 was down to rumours he was an infanticide (bad even by medieval royal standards). R3 could have scotched the rumours by producing the boys. He did not, as AL Rowse pointed out, for the worst of reasons. They were dead, and he had killed them.

Arjuna - 28 Jan 2020 08:28:49 (#17 of 191)

It does seem the most likely scenario.

HorstVogel - 28 Jan 2020 08:37:09 (#18 of 191)

He (Dicky the 3rd) did them in.

surferboogiewhatever - 28 Jan 2020 08:47:58 (#19 of 191)

Isn't there an argument that as they were effectively illegitimate, they couldn't be heirs, therefore Richard would have had no need to kill them?

This had always been my main reason for believing that Richard probably didn't kill them. Once they had been declared illegitimate, they were not a threat to Richard (although it's possible he didn't want to be king out of a great lust for power anyway, but because he knew the country would be stronger under an adult with battle experience than a teenager with none - remember Richard himself had been commanding units, and lost one of his brothers in battle, when he was not much older than young Ed. This was a time when kings were still expected to take part in wars personally, and attacks from France were not inconceivable). They were, however, a big threat to Henry or at least to his claim to the throne. If they were illegitimate then so was their sister, and marrying her wouldn't strengthen his claim at all. But if they were legitimate then they had a stronger claim than him, teenagers or not.

It's also been suggested that young Ed might have died of natural causes, as there's evidence that he had several visits from a doctor in the tower. If his brother didn't also, they probably weren't check-ups.

By the way, it's perfectly possible to believe that Richard didn't commit that particular crime without believing that he was lovely and could do no wrong. He did some good things for the "common people" but could certainly be ruthless - there's not much doubt that he had several of his relatives by marriage and a former close friend executed when they posed a threat.

FGBFGB - 28 Jan 2020 08:53:41 (#20 of 191)

Declarations of illegitimacy could be reversed - both Mary I and Elizabeth I had been declared illegitimate.

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