Who Killed the Princes?

I dunno if it’s just a No’th Ca’lina thang, but both Fretful and I seem to have this thing about Richard III. I seem to remember Cecil doing a rundown on the age-old question, too.

So the topic for discussion is, Edward V and his brother Richard, who did the dirty deed?

Wm. Shaxper would have us believe that it was the work of that Wicked Uncle, King Richard III. Of course, the fact that he was basing this on the work of Sir Thomas More, who learned all about it from Bishop Morton who hated King Richard (the feeling was mutual), and working during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth, whose claim as a Tudor to the throne was contingent on anti-Yorkist sentiment, may have something to do with this. Other candidates for the dirty deed include Henry VII and the Earl of Buckingham.

Ever since Walpole’s Historic Doubts the issue has been discussed. Anybody care to argue the point?

We’ve done this one before, but I can’t pick it up on the search engine. Maybe the little squirrels that power that thing will work better for somebody else?


Who killed the princes?

Take your pick.
John Ramsey
Patsy Ramsey
O.J. Simpson

What say we lock 'em all up and let Contestant #3 beat it out of them?

< snort > kaylasdad, that was perfect! Wait…you think Mark Fuhrman could be involved too? What about Kato Kaelin???

“Better people…better food…and better beer!”
-Neil Peart, Rush

The butler???

Didn’t realize it’d been done.

Is it possible people are telling me that this is a good candidate for MPSIMShood?

The Princes? Um, they’re just playing in the back yard. yeah, that’s it…

No, no, I was driving the car and they were in the backseat and the car got car-jacked and, um, no…

They were carried away by dingoes! Yeah, we were camping by Ayers Rock and… um…

Space Aliens. Yeah, that’s the ticket…

Another mysterious cattle mutilation.

(Well, except this time it was Edward V and Richard, instead of cattle. And there was no mutilation. But I digress.)

I vote for Harry Tudor, King Henry VII of England. It has been a long time since I read any of the arguments in favor of Harry being the murderer/usurper, but Josephine Tey summarizes them nicely in her novel “The Daughter of Time.”

Poly, I have a question. What would Rick’s motive be? And if I remember correctly, More was a young boy when he heard this account from the Bish.

This space for rent.

Richard’s motivation would be to be himself King of England instead of just Protector for his nephew while the latter was still a minor (he was in his early teens when he inherited the throne).

Harry Buckingham’s motive would be to get rid of the Yorkists that stood in his way to the throne. (Nobody thought Henry Tudor was any real threat until later.) As a side benefit, he not only would get rid of the King and his brother, the heir, but could blame it on the uncle, the next heir. And he was, more or less, next in line, since both George of Clarence’s kids were young and the boy was rowing with one oar out of the water.

Henry Tudor’s motives were about the same. With the kids in the Tower dead, he could eliminate any focus for a Yorkist restoration and kill two birds with one stone by blaming it on Richard whom he’d killed to get the throne.

I vote for Richard because:

(1) The heniousness of regicide as a crime at the time to me indicates that it is unlikely, though not impossible, that anyone but the ruler in power would have killed them.

(2) Richard knew that as Protector he would only be in power until King Edward obtained his majority. He also knew that the King had been raised by and was very close to his mother and her family, all of whom loathed Richard. This might well lead him to foresee rough times (and a decrease in his extremely powerful position) upon the King’s majority.

(3) The person who seemed to have the most information about the incident (though writing a generation later) was More, and the fact that the princes were found roughly where he said they were buried indicates his account was at least in part accurate. He blames Richard.

Personally, I was far more swayed by Alison Weir’s The Princes In The Tower than I was by The Daughter of Time (though that’s an excellent book). Of course, the bottom line is that we’ll never really know.

Jodih, you make a good circumstancial case, but was Richard not crowned as King?

Further, there was a declaration that Edward’s marriage was illegal. Thus the Princes were bastards and were no longer in the picture as a threat.

Or am I diremembering something?
I find English history very difficult to follow. The intrigues and the list of characters overwhelm me.

I think that Shakespeare told a good story, but it’s not history.

I’m not an opologist for Richard lll. I simply don’t know.

I’m just curious if it was Richard that had the most to gain.

This space for rent.

Yes, Richard had the princes declared bastards, on the grounds that Edward had been precontracted to marry somebody else when he married their mother. A flimsy pretext, at best. If they had lived to grow up and possessed even the slightest degree of charisma, it’s perfectly possible that they would have led a successful revolt against whomever was on the throne at the time. (IIRC, some years later there was a pretender – Perkin Warbeck – who claimed to be Richard, the younger prince, and tried to oust Henry VII. His story was patently false, and he was soundly defeated, but the possibility was definitely there.)

Also, the princes’ older sister, Elizabeth, was quite a matrimonial prize; she eventually became Henry VII’s queen, but supposedly Richard also sought her hand in marriage (this strikes me as doubtful, since she was his niece and such a marriage would have been blatantly illegal, but that’s what the Tudors claimed). After the princes, Elizabeth was the Yorkists’ next heir – but ONLY if she was legitimate. So Henry (and possibly Richard) had every reason to kill the princes off so that he could re-legitimize the whole family and marry Elizabeth.

Hope this makes some sense and isn’t too riddled with errors. (It’s late and I’m tired …)

My immediate thought was Professor Plum in the Tower with the Candlestick.

However, I’m generally of the Richard III school, based on cui bono.

My only contribution to the thread is to note that Alison Weir’s book on the subject was decidedly poor. She clearly starts with the mindset that it was Richard, then proceeds to ignore or explain away evidence to the contrary. I don’t feel like digging it out of the box into which I consigned it to cite specifics…

Both Richard and Henry had valid reasons to kill them off. The fact they weren’t reliably reported to exist upon Henry’s assumption makes it more likely Richard did it, absent weighty evidence to the contrary.

I agree with DSYoungEsq that you can make a cui bono argument for both Richard III and Henry VII, so that’s not decisive. But, one key point is that Richard had disposed of the princes’ claim by having them declared bastards by Act of Parliament, so it looks like he had dealt with the issue. By contrast, Henry VII marries the princes’ sister, Elizabeth, and has the Act of Parliament repealed, making her legitimate again - and incidentally making the princes legitimate again. If they are still alive, they have a much better claim than he does.

In Tey’s book, she makes two important points, comparing and contrasting Richard III and Henry VII, which she argues points to Henry VII.

First, while Richard III was king, there were various other claimants and possible heirs (his other brother George’s children, for example). He left them alive, going about their business.

Henry VII, on the other hand, treated these potential claimants differently: he either married the young girls off to good Lancastrians, or he had them executed on various charges, pretty much trumped up George’s son, Richard III’s illegimate son, and so on. Those that survived Henry VII’s reign tended to be finished off in Henry VIII’s reign. So, you have a pattern of Henry VII killing off other claimants to the throne, but no similar pattern for Richard III.

Second, and to my mind very significant, Henry VII never accused Richard III of killing the princes! If Richard had them killed, isn’t that just the plum piece of propaganda for Henry to sway the undecided? If you were Henry, fresh to the throne, wouldn’t you have set up a Royal Inquiry, to find out and publicise all the gory details, who Richard ordered to do it, where the poor little corpses where, and so on? Perfect ammunition against the monster. But, if the boys are still alive, and people know it, it just doesn’t wash. The accusation against Richard III is only made years later.

There was Henry the Seventh,
Then Henry the Eighth,
Then Edward, then Mary, then Liz.
You can almost tell
Just by watching the monarch
Precisely what time it is.

And when the Tudors had been killed off
Did the Stuarts stand 'round and fiddle?
They had James and Charles
And Charles and James
And Cromwell in the middle.

As you were.

Lucky man! < ducking >

Well, it would have been to Richard’s advantage to kill the princes, but only if he made sure everybody knew they were dead…“It was a cold…yeah, a nasty cold killed them…see, here are their bodies” It wouldn’t make any sense for Richard to kill them, then keep it quiet…because you can revolt on behalf of someone even if they’re not around. As for the idea that Richard killed them to legitimize and marry Elizabeth, that doesn’t seem likely…not only do you run into the “The princes are dead? I didn’t know that!” problem (see above), but you run into the problem that 1. She really doesn’t bring much to the marriage, being an illegitimate daughter of a former king, and 2. She was his niece, and it was kind of hard in 15th century England for a man, even a king, to marry his niece. Meanwhile, Henry, who could benefit from having the kids rubbed out, was stuck in Brittany for most of the time. My bet? The Duke of Buckingham. He had motive (Kill off all the better heirs to the throne than me) and opportunity (He was the Constable of the Tower. “Pardon me, I’ll just take a stroll around the grounds…what? No, I don’t have anything under my coat…”)