Princes in the Tower
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The Princes in the Tower were Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York. The two brothers were the only sons of Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville alive at the time of their father's death. Then 12 and 9 years old, they were lodged in the Tower of London by the man appointed to look after them, the Lord Protector, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. This was supposed to be in preparation for Edward's coronation as king.
After Richard took the throne for himself, it is assumed that they were murdered. This may have occurred some time around 1483, but apart from their disappearance, the only evidence is circumstantial.
In May 1483 Edward arrived in London for his coronation and was accommodated in the Tower of London, then a royal residence. Richard at that point was with his mother in sanctuary, but joined his brother in the Tower in June. Both princes were declared illegitimate by an Act of Parliament of 1483 known as Titulus Regius, and their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was crowned as King Richard III of England. There are reports of the two princes being seen playing in the Tower grounds shortly after Richard joined his brother, but there are no recorded sightings of either of them after the summer of 1483. Their fate remains an enduring mystery, but historians and contemporary popular opinion agree that the princes may have been murdered in the Tower. There is no record of a funeral. A date of 3 September 1483 has been proposed by Alison Weir for the assumed murder.
In 1674, the skeletons of two children were discovered under the staircase leading to the chapel, during the course of renovations to the White Tower. At that time, these were believed to have been the remains of the two princes, and on the orders of Charles II the remains were reburied in Westminster Abbey. In 1933, the grave was opened to see if modern science could cast any light on the issues, and the skeletons were determined to be those of two young children, one aged around seven to eleven and the other around eleven to thirteen.
If the boys were indeed murdered, there are several major suspects for the crime. The evidence is ambiguous, and has led people to various conflicting conclusions.
Richard III 
Although the princes had been eliminated from the succession, Richard III's hold on the monarchy was not secure and the existence of the princes would remain a threat as long as they were alive. The boys could have been used by Richard's enemies as figureheads for rebellion. Rumours of their death were in circulation by late 1483, but Richard never attempted to prove that they were alive by having them seen in public, which strongly suggests that they were dead by then. However he did not remain silent on the matter. Raphael Holinshed, in his Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland written in 1577, nearly a century after the events, reports that Richard, "what with purging and declaring his innocence concerning the murder of his nephews towards the world, and what with cost to obtain the love and favour of the communaltie (which outwardlie glosed, and openly dissembled with him) ... gave prodigally so many and so great rewards, that now both he lacked, and scarce with honesty how to borrow." Richard also failed to open any investigation into the matter, which would have been in his interest if he was not responsible for the deaths of his nephews. Many modern historians, including David Starkey, Michael Hicks, and Alison Weir, do regard Richard himself as the most likely culprit. There never was a formal accusation against Richard III on the matter; the Bill of Attainder brought by Henry VII made no definitive mention of the Princes in the Tower, but it did include the accusation of "shedding of Infants blood", which may be an accusation of the Princes' murder (especially since no other specific accusation of harming infants has ever been made against Richard).
James Tyrrell 
James Tyrrell was an English knight who fought for the House of York on many occasions. Tyrrell was arrested by Henry VII's forces in 1501 for supporting another Yorkist claimant to the throne. Shortly before his execution, it is said[by whom?] that Tyrrell admitted, under torture, to having murdered the princes at the behest of Richard III; however, no written record of such an important confession has ever been found or referred to. Thomas More wrote that, during his examination, Tyrrell made his confession as to the murders, saying that Richard III ordered their deaths. He also implicated two other men; despite further questioning, however, he was unable to say where the bodies were, claiming that they had been moved. William Shakespeare portrays him as the culprit, sought out by Richard after Buckingham demurs.
Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham 
Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham was Richard's right-hand man and sought personal advantage through the new king. Some, notably Paul Murray Kendall, regard Buckingham as the likeliest suspect: his execution, after he had rebelled against Richard in October 1483, might signify that he and the king had fallen out because Buckingham had taken it on himself for whatever reason to dispose of Richard's rival claimants; alternatively, he could have been acting on behalf of Henry Tudor (later to become King Henry VII). On the other hand, if Buckingham were guilty he could equally well have been acting on Richard's orders, with his rebellion coming after he became dissatisfied with Richard's treatment of him. As a descendant of Edward III, through John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, Buckingham may have hoped to accede to the throne himself in due course.
Buckingham's guilt depends on the princes having already been dead by October 1483, since he was executed the following month. In the 1980s, within the archives of the College of Arms in London, further documentation was discovered which states that the murder was conducted "be [by] the vise of the Duke of Buckingham". Another reference, surfacing this time in the Portuguese archives, states that "...and after the passing away of king Edward in the year of 83, another one of his brothers, the Duke of Gloucester, had in his power the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, the young sons of the said king his brother, and turned them to the Duke of Buckingham, under whose custody the said Princes were starved to death."  However neither document states whether Buckingham acted for himself, on Richard's orders, or in collusion with the Tudor party.
Henry VII 
Henry VII (Henry Tudor) following his accession, proceeded to find a legal excuse to execute some of the rival claimants to the throne. He married the princes' eldest sister, Elizabeth of York, to reinforce his hold on the throne. Realistically, Henry's only opportunity to murder the princes would have been after his accession in 1485. This theory leaves open the question of why the princes were not seen after 1483 and why Richard did not produce them when he was suspected of their murder. Besides, Holinshed states quite unequivocally that Richard commented on the "murder of his nephews" during his (Richard's) reign (see above).
There were subsequently a number of apparent pretenders claiming to be Prince Richard, Duke of York, although there seem to have been none claiming to be Edward V. It has been suggested that this is because Edward V was well known and would have been difficult to impersonate; this would be less true of his younger brother. The best-known Pretender was Perkin Warbeck, who succeeded in convincing a number of royal contemporaries that he was Prince Richard; Henry VII's agents struggled to compile evidence to disprove his claims. The fact that Henry VII did not provide an official public version of the fate of the Princes, despite Warbeck's activities, until the Tyrell confession, has been interpreted as meaning either that he was unaware of the true story or that publishing it would have not been in his interests.
Evidence and rumours 
The Croyland Chronicle, Dominic Mancini, and Philippe de Commines all state that the rumour of the princes' deaths was current in England by the end of 1483. In his summary of the events of 1483, Commines says quite categorically that Richard was responsible for the murder of the princes; Commines was present at the meeting of the Estates-General of France in January 1484. The other two sources do not suggest who was responsible. Only Mancini's account, written in 1483, is truly contemporary, the other two having been written three and seven years later, respectively. The Great Chronicle, compiled 30 years later from the contemporary London municipal records, says the rumour of the princes' death did not start circulating in London until after Easter of 1484. However, if the princes were not already dead by the end of 1483, this of course removes any possibility that Buckingham, who was executed on 2 November 1483, could have murdered them.
The possibility of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII) being the culprit has been suggested; however, Henry became king in 1485, whereas the Princes went missing in 1483.
Thomas More, a Tudor loyalist (and later Chancellor under Henry VIII), composed his History of King Richard III around the year 1513. He identified Sir James Tyrrell as the murderer, acting on Richard's orders, and told the story of Tyrrell's confession, which took place after he had been arrested for treason against Henry VII. Tyrrell was the loyal servant of Richard III who is said to have confessed to the murder of the princes in 1502. The Great Chronicle of London, written around the year 1512, also identified Tyrrell. Polydore Vergil, in his Anglica Historia (circa 1513), specifies that Tyrrell was the murderer, stating that he "rode sorrowfully to London" and committed the deed with reluctance, upon Richard III's orders, and that Richard himself spread the rumours of the princes' death in the belief that it would discourage rebellion.
In his history of King Richard, More said that the princes were smothered to death in their beds by two agents of Tyrell—Miles Forrest and John Dighton—and were then buried "at the stayre foote, metely depe in the grounde vnder a great heape of stones", but were later disinterred and buried in a secret place. Curiously, under Henry VIII, a documented Miles Forrest was granted King's favours as found in English historical documents: After the Dissolution, the manor of Morborne, with the house and grange of Ogerston in the same parish, lately the property of the Abbey of Crowland, was granted in 1540, with all appurtenances, to Miles Forrest, bailiff of the Abbot of Peterborough at Warmington in 1535. However this was 50 years after the Battle of Bosworth Field, and 52 years after the deed was allegedly done, leading to suspicion that this Miles Forrest was not the one referred to by More, as he would by then have been into his seventies or even eighties and well past retirement. In 1513, Thomas More named Miles Forrest as a murderer. In 1534, More fell out of favour with Henry VIII when More denied that the king was the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Henry had More beheaded in 1535. In the same year or in 1540 (the above history references both dates), Henry awarded the manor to Miles Forrest, the documented bailiff of the Abbot of Peterborough.
In 1674, some workmen remodelling the Tower of London dug up a wooden box containing two small human skeletons. The bones were found in the ground close to the White Tower, consistent with More's description of the original burial place of the princes (under the tower stairs), but not consistent with More's later claim that the bodies had been subsequently removed and buried elsewhere. One anonymous report was that they were found with "pieces of rag and velvet about them", the velvet indicated that the bodies were those of aristocrats. Eventually the bones were gathered up and placed in an urn, which Charles II of England ordered interred in Westminster Abbey in the wall of the Henry VII Lady Chapel; a monument designed by Christopher Wren marks the putative resting-place of the princes. The rags and velvet were not mentioned again and, presumably were not included in the reinterment. In 1933 the bones were taken out and examined, and then replaced in the urn. They were found to have been interred carelessly along with chicken and other animal bones. There were also three very rusty nails. One skeleton was larger than the other, but many of the bones were missing, including part of the smaller jawbone and all of the teeth from the larger one. Many of the bones had been broken by the original workmen. Examination of photographs from this exhumation indicated that the elder child was 11–13 years old and the younger was 7–11 years old. It was not possible at that time to determine the sex of children's skeletons. No further scientific examination has since been conducted on the bones, which remain in Westminster Abbey, and DNA analysis (if DNA could be obtained), which would now determine the sex, has not been attempted.
In 1789, workmen carrying out repairs in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, rediscovered and accidentally broke into the vault of Edward IV and Queen Elizabeth Woodville, discovering in the process what appeared to be a small adjoining vault. This vault was found to contain the coffins of two unidentified children. However, no inspection or examination was carried out and the tomb was resealed. The tomb was inscribed with the names of two of Edward IV's children: George, 1st Duke of Bedford who had died at the age of 2, and Mary of York who had died at the age of 14; both had predeceased the King. During the excavation for the royal tomb house for King George III under the Wolsey tomb-house in 1810–13 two lead coffins clearly labelled as George Plantagenet and Mary Plantagenet were discovered and moved into the adjoining vault of Edward IV's but at the time no effort was made to identify the two lead coffins already in the vault.
In the late 1990s, work was being carried out near and around Edward IV's tomb in St George's Chapel; the floor area was excavated to replace an old boiler and also to add a new repository for the remains of future Deans and Canons of Windsor. A request was forwarded to the Dean and Canons of Windsor to consider a possible examination of the two vaults either by fibre-optic camera or, if possible, a reexamination of the two unidentified lead coffins in the tomb also housing the lead coffins of two of Edward IV's children that were discovered during the building of the Royal Tomb for King George III (1810–13) and placed in the adjoining vault at that time. Royal consent would be necessary to open any royal tomb, so it was felt best to leave the medieval mystery unsolved for at least the next few generations. The 2012 Leicester archaeological dig has prompted renewed interest in re-excavating the skeletons of the "two princes", but Queen Elizabeth II has not granted the approval required for any such testing of an interred royal.
- Elaine M. Alphin - Tournament of Time (1994)
- Valerie Anand - Crown of Roses
- Emma Darwin - A Secret Alchemy (2009)
- Elizabeth George - "I, Richard" (short story) (2002)
- Philippa Gregory
- The White Queen (2009)
- The Red Queen (2010)
- The Kingmaker's Daughter (2012)
- Margaret Peterson Haddix
- Rosemary Hawley Jarman - "We Speak No Treason" (1971)
- Sharon Kay Penman - The Sunne in Splendour (1982)
- Elizabeth Peters - The Murders of Richard III (1974)
- Anne Easter Smith
- A Rose for the Crown (2008)
- The Daughter of York (2008)
- The King's Grace (2009)
- William Shakespeare - Richard III (circa 1595)
- Josephine Tey - The Daughter of Time (1951)
- A J Pollard - Richard III and the Princes in the Tower (1991)
- Alison Weir - The Princes in the Tower (1992)
- Audrey Williamson - The Mystery of the Princes (1978)
- Bert Fields - Royal Blood: Richard III and the mystery of the princes (HarperCollins, 1998) (ISBN 0-06-039269-X)
- Horace Walpole - Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard III (1768)
- The first series of the British sitcom Blackadder is set in a comic alternative history where the Princes in the Tower survived and grew to adulthood, Prince Richard assuming the throne as Richard IV upon Richard III's death at Bosworth Field. Edward V is ignored by the storyline, and is never mentioned in script.
- An episode of the Canadian children's documentary series Mystery Hunters is dedicated to the unsolved case of the missing princes.
- In 1984, Channel 4 broadcast a four-hour "trial"  of Richard III on the charge of murdering the princes. The presiding judge was Lord Elwyn-Jones and the barristers were recruited from the Queen's Counsel, but had to remain anonymous. Expert witnesses included David Starkey. The jury was composed of ordinary citizens. The burden of proof was left to the prosecution. The jury found in favour of the defendant.
- In 2005 Channel 4 and RDF Media produced a drama entitled Princes in the Tower about the interrogation of Perkin Warbeck, in which Warbeck almost convinces Henry VII that he really is Richard, Duke of York. Warbeck "remembers" that Henry's mother Margaret Beaufort poisoned his brother Edward V, after which Richard III spirited him away to safety. Warbeck succeeds in alienating king Henry from his mother and wife, who now believes Warbeck to be her lost brother. Margaret then shows Warbeck two young men in chains, who she presents as the real princes, locked up for years in isolation and now completely insane. She says Henry knows nothing about them. She forces Warbeck to confess he is an imposter to save the life of his son by Lady Catherine Gordon. Warbeck confesses and is hanged. In the final scene Margaret is seen overseeing the burial of a piece of regal clothing with two skeletons, while, in voice-over, Thomas More, whose secret account of the events is supposed to be the drama's source, describes how lucky he has been under Henry VIII.
Other media 
- The truth about the Princes is "discovered" in The Kingmaker, an audio drama based on Doctor Who.
- The Japanese anime series Kuroshitsuji details a possible scenario of what happened to the Princes in the Tower in Episode 16 ("His Butler: The Lone Castle"). Under orders from 'relatives', King Edward V and Richard were executed in the Tower of London, and had their bodies disposed of in the River Teme. This revelation allows their ghostly forms to ascend to heaven after 400 years of haunting Ludlow Castle.
- The Rich Kids released a single and an album named "Ghosts of Princes in Towers" which made reference to the Princes and drew on rumours of their haunting the Tower of London.
- Kate Beaton, cartoonist of webcomic Hark! A Vagrant, devoted one of her comic strips to the story of the Princes.
- Alison Weir, The Princes of the Tower (p. 157)
- Richard III Society: Examination on the alleged murder of the Princes
- Raphael Holinshed, "Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland ", 1577, p.746, commencing on line 48.
- "The Society - History". Richardiii.net. 2006-11-30. Retrieved 2010-05-16.
- Richard III by Michael Hicks (2003) ISBN 978-0-7524-2589-4
- The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir (1992) ISBN 978-0-345-39178-0
- College of Arms Collection, Queen Victoria Street, London, manuscript MS 2M6. The entire document containing the reference consists of 126 folios. It appears to have belonged to Christopher Barker whilst he was Suffolk Herald (1514-22), since his name, title, and a sketch of his maternal arms appear on folio. io6r. of the MS.
- Alvaro Lopes de Chaves (ref: Alvaro Lopes de Chaves, Livro de Apontamentos (1438-1489), (Codice 443 da Coleccao Pombalina da B.N.L.), Imprensa Nacional - Casa da Moeda, Lisboa, 1983), private secretary to the Portuguese King Alfonso V.
- Cawthorne, Nigel. Kings and Queens of England. New York: Metro Books, 2010. Print. p. 89.
- Mike Mahoney. "Kings and Queens of England - Henry VII". English Monarchs. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
- ""Sir James Tyrell-Hero or Villain?", by Tracy Bryce". Home.cogeco.ca. Retrieved 2010-05-16.
- Polydore Vergil, Anglica Historia 1846 edition, p. 188-9
- The History of King Richard the Third, by Sir Thomas More. See section "The yong kyng and his brother murthered".
- "Parishes - Morborne | A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3 (pp. 188-190)". British-history.ac.uk. 2003-06-22. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
- Weir, Alison. The Princes in the Tower. 1992, Random House, ISBN 9780345391780, p. 252-3.
- http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=LoLlvnRPY_sC&pg=PA65&lpg=PA65&dq=urn+designed+by+christopher+wren+edward+v&source=bl&ots=l30Phxh_vz&sig=nHYMHLKa9XtlBcvdjS-5t8-8TZw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Zws6UdHaM8-R7Abjk4CwAQ&ved=0CC8Q6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=urn%20designed%20by%20christopher%20wren%20edward%20v&f=false John Steane, The Archaeology of the Medieval English Monarchy (Routledge, 1993), page 65]
- Weir, p. 257
- 1..Chapter Records XXIII to XXVI, The Chapter Library, St. George's Chapel, Windsor (Permission required) 2..William St. John Hope: "Windsor Castle: An Architectural History", pages 418-419. (1913). 3..Vetusta Monumenta, Volume III, page 4 (1789).
- Lysons & Lysons, Magna Britannia, 1812 supplement p. 471. Also in Britton's Architectual Antiquities of Great Britain, 1812 page 45. The move to Edward IV's crypt mentioned in Samuel Lewis, "A Topographical Dictionary of Great Britain" 1831.
- Art Ramirez, "A Medieval Mystery", Ricardian Bulletin, September 2001.
- Robert McCrum. "Richard III, the great villain of English history, is due a makeover". The Observer. Guardian. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
- The Trial of Richard III by Richard Drewett and Mark Redhead, published by Alan Sutton in 1984, ISBN 0-86299-198-6
- Beaton, Kate. "Party Time with Richard III", Hark! A Vagrant. Accessed 28 April 2012.