The Murder of the Princes

 

The Murder of the Princes

One full discussion of the controversy was published in 1978, The Murder of the Princes by Audrey Williamson. This is a full and detailed discussion of the events surrounding the accession of Richard III although some of this history is rather shaky. Another book published in 1978, The Princes in the Tower by Elizabeth Jenkins is in fact a brief history of the Wars of the Roses with some discussion of the Princes’ death. The mystery has also been mentioned in the two recent biographies of Richard III, Richard III, the man behind the myth by Michael Hicks and Richard III and the Princes in the Tower by A.J. Pollard. The former really only touches on the topic, the latter discusses it (very well) at some length. Jeremy Potter in Good King Richard? (1983) has a useful and stimulating chapter on this subject. A discussion of every possible candidate (ten are identified in all, including Richard III) for committing the murder (if murder there was) is found in Helen Maurer’s article in the American journal ‘WHODONIT: the suspects in the case,’ Loyaulte me lie: Ricardian Register, vol. 18, number 3, (1983), pp.4-27. [Ed. update: another theory on the disappearance of the Princes, by Society Vice President Isolde Wigram, is put forth in the essay, “Were the ‘Princes in the Tower’ Murdered?” Two recent popular works on the subject have generated much interest. Alison Weir’s The Princes in the Tower(1992 England; 1994 U.S.) is an attempt to validate Sir Thomas More’s account of the murders. Bertram Fields’ Royal Blood (1998) examines the extant evidence from a lawyer’s perspective and in particular rebuts many of Weir’s claims.]

The other articles by Helen Maurer, in the Ricardian, are excellent on all of the sets of bones found in the Tower, ‘Bones in the Tower: a discussion of time place and circumstance’, parts I and II; Ricardian, vol. VIII, number 111, (1990), pp. 171-193 and vol. IX, number 112, (1991) pp.2-22. Two discussions on the bones themselves are P.W. Hammond and W.J. White, ‘The sons of Edwrad IV: A re-examination of the evidence on their deaths and on the bones in Westminster Abbey’, pp.104-147 in the book Richard III: Loyalty, Lordship and Law, (1986) edited by P.W. Hammond, Theya Molleson, ‘Anne Mowbray and the Princes in the Tower: a study in identity’, in London Archaeologist, vol. 5, (1987, pp. 258-262. An indirect response to this article is found in two letters in the Times by W.J. White and P.W. Hammond on 26 May 1987. The most recent attempt to produce new evidence on the death of the princes was ‘The Death of Edward I’ by Colin Richmond in Northern History, vol. 25, (1989) pp.278-280, redating the death of Edward V to three days before the official end of his reign. This was refuted by Michael Hicks in ‘Did Edward V Outlive his Reign or Did He Outreign his Life’ in the Ricardian, vol. VIII, number 108, (1990), pp.342-345.

The ‘Leslau’ theory: Jack Leslau has written several articles on his theory that the sons of Edward IV survived not only Richard III but also Henry VII, being brought up in the household of Sir Thomas More. He supports his theory by an analysis of messages which he finds in the paintings of Holbein, relying mainly on the large group portrait of the More family at Nostell Priory generally attributed to Rowland Lockey. The main group of articles are in the Ricardian, vol. IV, number 62 (1978), pp.2-14, (‘Did the Sons of Edward IV Outlive Henry VII’), vol. V, number 64, (1979), pp. 24-26, (‘Did the Sons of Edward IV Outlive Henry VII: a Postscript’) and vol. V, number 64, (1979), pp. 55-60, (‘Did the Sons etc.: an Answer and a Rejoinder’). These are all available in one pack from the Library as is a pack of other items on the theory including an article from the Times and follow up letters. PWH