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  #1  
Old 06-05-2009, 11:15 AM
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Edward V (1470-1483?) and Prince Richard (1473-1483?): the Princes in the Tower

I apologize if similar thread already exists but I wasn't able to find it.

When studying the English history of the time, I noticed that after Henry VII's accession to the throne there were several persons, who claimed to be Prince Richard, the most famous of them being Perkin Warbeck, but none who would claim to be Edward V (the elder brother).
As far as I know, the fate of both Princes was unknown, although later scholars agreed that both had been death by September of 1493. So why would imposters claim to be the younger brother? It seems illogical, for if one brother survived, than the other one could have survived as well, in which case the younger brother would have little claims to the Throne.
Is there any evidence or even rumour that could have suggested that the death of the elder brother was certain, whereas the demise of the younger brother was questionable?


I also wonder why Henry VII never issued some sort of an official version on the fate of Edward and Richard of York. Discrediting Richard III still further would only be in Henry's interest, so if Richard III were indeed guilty of the Princes' death, why didn't Henry let it be known?


And my final question; when Henry VIII's son succeeded his father under the name of King Edward VI, did that confirm in a way that Edward V was the rightful King (even for those 2 months after his father's death and before Titulus Regius)?
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Old 06-05-2009, 09:08 PM
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From what I remember reading about the princes Edward was seen as somewhat sickly or at least not as strong as his younger brother.
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I also wonder why Henry VII never issued some sort of an official version on the fate of Edward and Richard of York. Discrediting Richard III still further would only be in Henry's interest, so if Richard III were indeed guilty of the Princes' death, why didn't Henry let it be known?
Because maybe he knew that Richard wasn't responsible?

Because he knew how well respected Richard was in the north and didn't want to cause resentment among northeners who had trouble accepting him as king anyway.

Because he didn't want to accuse his wife's uncle of killing her brothers - in other words he married into Richard's family.

All are suggestions that I have read at times and all make sense to me.
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And my final question; when Henry VIII's son succeeded his father under the name of King Edward VI, did that confirm in a way that Edward V was the rightful King (even for those 2 months after his father's death and before Titulus Regius)?
Edward had been proclaimed king and acknowledged by parliament until Titulus Regulus.

However, Edward VI's own grandfather had overturned Titulus Regulus to legimate his wife and thus making her an appropriate wife for the King. The main reason Henry VII married Elizabeth of York was because she was the daughter of Edward IV. There would be no reason to marry her if Titulus Regulus was in place as that would mean that she, along with her brothers, was illegitimate and thus no threat to his throne. Once Henry marries her and gets rid of Titulus Regulus then there had to be an acknowledgement of Edward V and Edward VI was the grandson of Edward V's sister so it would make sense that he formatlly acknolwedge that his great-uncle had been the lawful king.
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Old 06-06-2009, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Iluvbertie View Post
From what I remember reading about the princes Edward was seen as somewhat sickly or at least not as strong as his younger brother.
That is a plausible explanation, however I believe there has to be some different reason. It just seems pointless to pretend to be the younger brother, when the older brother and rightful heir had just as many chances of surviving as the younger one.


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Because maybe he knew that Richard wasn't responsible?

Because he knew how well respected Richard was in the north and didn't want to cause resentment among northeners who had trouble accepting him as king anyway.

Because he didn't want to accuse his wife's uncle of killing her brothers - in other words he married into Richard's family.

All are suggestions that I have read at times and all make sense to me.
I believe there is little doubt that the Tudor propaganda tried to portray Richard III considerably worse than he had been in reality. Most reliable sources contemporary to Richard present a completely different portrait, a portrait of a thoughtful, wise and able ruler, who could have been a great King, if it weren't the circumstances of his accession.
It is possible Richard was not responsible for the assumed murder of the Princes, however I don't find the scenario very plausible; the Princes were evidently dead by September 1493 and Richard was the only one with realistic chances to order their murder. I have recently read an interesting article in some blog, which claimed that the Duke of Buckingham and even Henry Tudor had chances and motives (very strong motives in Henry's case) to murder the Princes. While that scenario is possible, I doubt Richard would have been so careless with the security of the children, who were in his care. That scenario wouldn't explain Richard's silence, for if he were innocent and/or suspected who the real culprits were, it would be to his advantage to expose them. The children m
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Old 06-06-2009, 10:15 PM
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Your date of 1493 is either a misprint (which I suspect) or one that almost completly exonerates Richard as he died in 1485.

Richard had no need to mention the princes at all after his accession: to admit they were dead would allow his opponents to point the finger at him, to acknowledge them still being alive would have given his opponents a reason to 'free' the rightful king.

However, saying nothing about them left people assume either they were dead or not.

No one accused him during his lifetime of their deaths.

Henry VII, who would have gained many more supporters and guaranteed his success had he been able to say absolutely that they were dead didn't do so until a couple of years after Richard's death. Why not? I believe they were alive when Henry became king for the simply reason that with Titulus Regulus in place, no existing legitimate son for Richard within about 6 months of him becoming king and also known to be rather sickly. It wads therefore useful for Richard to keep the princes alive so have a Yorkist successor. Maybe a plan was in place to name one of them as his successor if he was unable to have a male heir. House considerations were important.

It was far more of benefit to Henry to announce their deaths before he invaded rather than wait until after Richard had been killed.

The first real accusations made against Richard aren't until after the princes and their sister are dead - conventient?

Of course we will never know what happened to them but it is interesting to speculate and try to apply some human emotion and logic to the situation - greedy Richard vs loving uncle and brother - which is the true Richard. For me the loving uncle and brother sums up his life for so long so why suddenly did he become a monster. Compare that to Henry who was quite ruthless throughout his life. Just on those grounds alone I believe Henry more likely to have killed the princes than Richard. Of course not knowing when they died doesn't help - they were last definitely alive in August 1483 as far as I can tell but that doesn't mean that they were killed then or even that they were ever killed by anyone. They may have been smuggled out of England and lived happy lives somewhere else without the downside of being kings and princes.
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:53 AM
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The date is a mistake - I meant September of 1483; most scholars agree that they were probably death by the time.

I couldn't agree more with your view of Richard. Most unbiased sources I have read indicate he was a loyal brother and a wise, thoughtful ruler. The historical Richard and the one created by the Tudors (with some help from Shakespeare) are two completely different people.
The other arguments in your post are also very impressive and I am inclined to agree with them.
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Old 06-09-2009, 05:42 PM
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Henry couldn't announce thier deaths because he had no idea where the bodies were, therefore he lived in fear that they may indeed have been at large somewhere, he could never prove they were dead. He also had to be careful as Elizabeths legitimacy was questioned by the titulus Regulus.
I used to be a defender of Richard, but now I think he was a subtly cruel man, responsible for the deaths of the princes.
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Old 10-04-2009, 10:40 PM
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The Act of Parliament (titulus regulus) which made the young princes illegitimate secured Richard's claim to the throne, so what would he have gained by killing them? Indeed, he allowed his nephew by an older brother to live, even though that child could not inherit because his father, the Duke of Clarence, was adjudged a traitor and executed for treason. But then Acts of Parliament could restore the nephew in the line of succession to the throne and restore the legitimacy of the young princes. However, it appears that the reputation of Richard prior to ascending the throne was a loyal and loving man.

No, my bet is on Henry as killing the young princes. He legitimized his wife, the young princes' sister, which would have legitimized them as well. He had everything to gain by their deaths and would he have risked the legitimising of his wife if they were still alive somewhere? Let us not forget that his line sprang from an initially illegitimate branch and he gained the throne by right of conquest and marriage to Elizabeth of York.
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Old 10-05-2009, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Vasillisos Markos View Post
The Act of Parliament (titulus regulus) which made the young princes illegitimate secured Richard's claim to the throne, so what would he have gained by killing them? Indeed, he allowed his nephew by an older brother to live, even though that child could not inherit because his father, the Duke of Clarence, was adjudged a traitor and executed for treason. But then Acts of Parliament could restore the nephew in the line of succession to the throne and restore the legitimacy of the young princes. However, it appears that the reputation of Richard prior to ascending the throne was a loyal and loving man.
I quite agree with this part of your post: every single unbiased and contemporary report (I have read) about Richard before his accession to the Throne depicts him as a brave, loyal, kind and wise man. In all the lands under his administration, he earned a reputation of a fair and just man. He might have been a marvellous actor or had a complete change of character overnight, but somehow I doubt it.
Although it should be pointed out that while the Princes themselves wouldn't pose a direct threat to Richard, revolts could have been started in their names. Richard could probably overcome that particular obstacle by naming Prince Edward (Edward V) as his successor – quite possibly he intended to do so in time.
And I will always maintain that Richard was best suited for the role of a King: Edward was a minor and would most likely be under the heavy influence of his Woodville relatives (Lancastrians, who were equally hated by the Yorkists and the people for their arrogant ways). And with the War of Roses still too fresh in people’s minds, I doubt they would want another boy King.

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No, my bet is on Henry as killing the young princes. He legitimized his wife, the young princes' sister, which would have legitimized them as well. He had everything to gain by their deaths and would he have risked the legitimising of his wife if they were still alive somewhere? Let us not forget that his line sprang from an initially illegitimate branch and he gained the throne by right of conquest and marriage to Elizabeth of York.
Henry does seem to be the one who benefitted most from the Princes' death. He also proved to be a ruthless ruler, quickly disposing of any other possible claimants to the Throne (including poor John of Gloucester, Richard’s illegitimate son, John, Edmund and Richard de la Pole– the sons of Richard’s elder sister Elizabeth) . However, there is one fact that speaks in his favour: the Princes were not seen in public after the September 1483, long before the Battle of Bosworth. If they were alive, why didn't Richard show them to public to dispel rumours of their assassination?
Of course, Henry could have hired someone to kill the Princes, he could have even ordered / asked the Duke of Buckingham to do it: I think the Duke of Buckingham switched sides at approximately the same time - and he had motives to kill the Princes as well, being a descendant of John of Gaunt himself. But those are just theories: in practice, Richard had the best opportunity to kill the Princes before the Battle of Bosworth.
One thing that speaks strongly against Henry is the lack of any sort of reaction to the death of the Princess after his accession: their fate was not as much as spoken about! Surely, it would have been a common curtsey to publish official version of the fate of his wife’s brothers. And would also be another reason to blacken Richard’s reputation by exposing him as a murderer: I can’t think of any innocent reason why Henry would keep silent on this issue, unless it was against his interests.

By the way, is there a possibility that the Princes were not killed but died of natural causes? I seem to remember there was a plague in London in 1480's.
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Old 10-05-2009, 10:05 PM
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Excellent points. There seems to be evidence both for and against Richard and Henry in this affair. It certainly raises some interesting questions. Could both men have been deceived about the young princes' fate?

I believe there was an outbreak of "sweating sickness" in England in the 1480s which continued to occur up through the time of Elizabeth. Perhaps in the anxiety and panic surrounding the disease the bodies of the young princes were removed from the Tower and this led to the mystery of their whereabouts.
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Old 07-12-2011, 06:23 AM
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...why would imposters claim to be the younger brother? It seems illogical, for if one brother survived, than the other one could have survived as well, in which case the younger brother would have little claims to the Throne.
Probably not. The most likely reason is that Edward V, as heir to the throne and later King, was the better known of the two. More people were likely to have seen him (or a portrait of him) than to have seen his younger brother. Hence there was greater risk of a phoney being detected. Young Richard was the safer choice.
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I also wonder why Henry VII never issued some sort of an official version on the fate of Edward and Richard of York. Discrediting Richard III still further would only be in Henry's interest, so if Richard III were indeed guilty of the Princes' death, why didn't Henry let it be known?
Probably because he simply didn't know. All he knew for certain was that the Princes had vanished, and that most probably Richard had "disappeared" them, but more than that he couldn't say.

Note that when Perkin Warbeck appeared a few years later, Henry sent agents scouring Europe to trace his real origins. Henry was clearly scared stiff that Warbeck might be the genuine article.
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And my final question; when Henry VIII's son succeeded his father under the name of King Edward VI, did that confirm in a way that Edward V was the rightful King (even for those 2 months after his father's death and before Titulus Regius)?
Well, Edward V had certainly been King between his father's death and his uncle's coronation, so was quite properly included in the numbering.

Titulus Regius wasn't enacted until Richard had already been on the throne about a year, so doesn't really come into the matter. It merely rubber stamped a change which had already taken place.
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Old 07-28-2011, 06:02 AM
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Seems Edward and Richard were the 15th century version of Anastasia. Why Richard never declared them dead, I agree with others that he just didn't know where the heck they were or what happened to them. He probably assumed like everyone else including their mother that they were dead but couldn't declare it officially cause he had no proof. Plus he was married to their sister and as a result close to the Prince's other relatives including their mother; why hurt them anymore than they already had been.

I have never noticed that all the impersonators claimed to be Richard and not Edward and that does strike me as odd. I personally don't completely buy the "Edward was more famous" theory because all they would need is someone who looked just slighty like a grown up Edward would look and he could pass. The Romanov impersonators had photos to contend with and they still fooled people. With Edward and Richard probably 75% of the population didnt know what they looked like and 98% would be fooled into thinking any man was an adult Richard or Edward.
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Old 01-11-2012, 11:20 PM
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If indeed Perkin Warbeck was an impersonator, and not actually young Richard himself... Edward V was taken away first, and later, Richard was sent to follow, to keep him 'company'. But would Elizabeth Woodville really send her now only claim to the throne into the hands of a man (Richard III) who at that time she didn't trust? A man who had already taken her oldest son into his care, and who had started all the questioning of their legitimacy in the first place?

Elizabeth was much more cunning than this, I think.

One thing I want to know, is why DNA testing has not been done on the two young bodies found in the tower.

If Perkin Warbeck was young Richard, does that mean his descendants have a more rightful claim to the throne than our current monarchy?
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:06 AM
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.

If Perkin Warbeck was young Richard, does that mean his descendants have a more rightful claim to the throne than our current monarchy?
No, because the current succession was determined by the Act of Settlement. If one is not a descendent of Electress Sophia then you have no claim to the succession/
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:47 PM
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One thing I want to know, is why DNA testing has not been done on the two young bodies found in the tower.
Good question. If you wanted to use DNA to prove that the bodies found in the tower were Edward V and Richard of York, you'd need to compare their DNA against a close family member such as Elizabeth of York. But I'm not sure there's enough interest to warrant the exhumation of three bodies to do the test.
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Old 01-14-2012, 06:15 AM
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Just a couple of thoughts. Elizabeth Woodville trusted Richard enough to give him custody of her only remaining son after he had taken Edward away. She was apparently extremely politically savvy, as well.

Something else to throw into the "pot," as it were. If memory serves me correctly, Richard's only son died at 10 years old the year prior to Henry's invasion. Also, at the time of his death, his beloved wife (I seem to remember that it turned into quite the love match ultimately) had died several months before Richard's fall.

One last thing, the marriage of Elizabeth Woodville was declared invalid prior to Richard assuming the throne. He began his reign the day after the claim of an invalid marriage was endorsed.

I think it would be interesting to jot all the pertinent facts that you could onto a timeline to see how they really followed each other.

Thanks for starting an interesting thread. ::::
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Old 01-19-2012, 09:06 PM
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Good question. If you wanted to use DNA to prove that the bodies found in the tower were Edward V and Richard of York, you'd need to compare their DNA against a close family member such as Elizabeth of York. But I'm not sure there's enough interest to warrant the exhumation of three bodies to do the test.
Very true, but historians have done a lot more off a lot less interest. I hope they do it one day, as it is considered one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in British monarchy history.

And yes, evry true about the Electress Sophia, I think I was getting carried away

I think Victoriastyles, that Richard III supporters use those exact reasonings to argue his innocence.

I don't think we will ever know, but I personally am more swayed towards Henry VII and his supporters, to whom Edward and Richard posed more a threat. Richard III certainly could have declared Edward his heir, although his own son was alive at that time, so I doubt he would have.

However, it still stands that Richard allowed his nephews to be declared illegitimate, and himself be crowned king. He knew the Woodvilles would rally around Edward V, and didn't want them in positions of power.

If he really had his nephews best interests at heart, and not his own, wouldn't he have done as Henry VI's uncle's did, and acted as regent?
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Old 01-19-2012, 09:43 PM
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A very good reason to not do that was the consequences of a minor as King - unrest and Civil War. Henry VI's reign was benighted by war throughout and a lot of the blame for that was put at the fact that he was a minor and different factions developed around him seeking power. They didn't want a repeat so having a respected strong adult King was a better proposition.
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:09 PM
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And a good portion of any potential unrest and those seeking power would be the Woodeville family, who already had great influence on the young princes. Richard would have had his hands full dealing with them if acting as regent for a young king.
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:27 PM
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Just a couple of thoughts. Elizabeth Woodville trusted Richard enough to give him custody of her only remaining son after he had taken Edward away. She was apparently extremely politically savvy, as well.

Something else to throw into the "pot," as it were. If memory serves me correctly, Richard's only son died at 10 years old the year prior to Henry's invasion. Also, at the time of his death, his beloved wife (I seem to remember that it turned into quite the love match ultimately) had died several months before Richard's fall.

One last thing, the marriage of Elizabeth Woodville was declared invalid prior to Richard assuming the throne. He began his reign the day after the claim of an invalid marriage was endorsed.
I don't think it was a matter of trust as it was so much of fear. She was in sancturary at the time with her daughters, who loved their uncle, and my guess is that she was afraid of what would become of them once the rival King Henry landed from Brittany.

I also don't see how the deaths of his son and wife would have anything to do with the deaths of the little princes. If anything I would have thought that made him mad with grief (if he truly loved his wife) so striking the princes down would have been easy.

I'm not defending Henry here though. I am for York (or would have been had I been alive to see those times) and so I believe that Richard was the loving uncle that he is said to have been and Henry the ruthless cutthroat.

Now to the reason why neither of them really touched on the issue of the Princes in the Tower; I think it was more, like its been said, not knowing anything. Why stir the pot if there was nothing to prove your claim? If I have my history right, Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, Richards sister, Margaret demanded to the see the bodies if they were dead which is what Henry later proclaimed. And she was also the one who backed Perkins campaign through England to place a York on the throne once more.

I don't believe Richard wanted the throne. I believe it was forced upon him because of the invalidity of his brothers marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. But I've gotten off topic, haven't I?

Anything point I saw previous was something about why they chose young Richard as a rally point and not the little King Edward. I believe the response to that was correct. People would recognise Edward faster. Although, the only people that could recognise the princes were their immediate family (woodvilles and any remaining york members at court) and the servants nobility that interacted with them on a regualr basis. But at the same time, who would willingly admit that the young man claiming to be the rightful King of England against the current man who sits on the throne and can have your head for treason? No one. Certainly not his queen. It may not have been done until his son but Henry still could have had her head for treason and easily made an alliance to France or Burgundy.

I guess I'm gonna back up a bit and touch on another subject (I got to this conversation a little late, clealy) but why would Richard name Edward V his successor (with or without his own heir) after he claimed them to be illegitimate? I am for York, again, but it might be that I was wrong and he did want the throne for himself. He was young enough that he could have taken on another wife and produced many heirs, since the Yorks had no problem reproducing. His mother, Duchess Cecily of York had 13 children (3 having died before the age of 2) and his brother Edward had 7, so on and so on.

These are all just my opinion on the matter of course. :)
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:39 PM
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^ I don't think Elizabeth Woodville was scared for her children with Henry VII on his way... She arranged for her Elizabeth to marry him if he was successful. So she had nothing to fear.

I agree that Richard probably didn't want another child King, and one ruled by the Woodvilles, but I so still think he wanted the crown for himself.

Regardless of who killed the boys, Richard was responsible for their car, and he failed.
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