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View Diary: Richard III and the Princes in the Tower (w/poll) (118 comments)

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  •  Gloucester was able to arrest Rivers (5+ / 0-)

    and the other Woodvilles and their supporters but he was not able to get the Royal Council to authorize their execution as long as Hastings was the chief councilor.

    Buckingham's motives aren't clear.  He did rebel against Richard, I don't think he would have done so if he thought the Princes were alive, so I assume that Buckingham, along with other highly placed people, such as John Morton, had come to the conclusion they were dead.  Buckingham of all would have been in the best position to know, as he was Constable of England, and theoretically the Tower of London fell under his jurisdiction.  

    It is possible that Buckingham was involved in the murder of the princes, but he would not have done so without prior approval of Richard.  Once they were dead, and a rebellion had begun against Richard, Buckingham may have joined the rebellion in hopes it would have made him king.  The problem was the deal between Henry Tudor and the Queen Dowager to make Henry the king.  Possibly Buckingham was planning to double-cross them.  But this is all speculation.

    I agree that Richard did not at first intend to seize the throne.  By late May however I think he had made up his mind to do so, and certainly this was true by 13 June when he had Hastings killed.  This took some preparation, so late May seems a good date for the beginning of the plan.

    There's no evidence the Princes lived until 1485, so it seems Henry Tudor has an alibi.  I suspect that he didn't know for sure whether they had been murdered or simply removed from the country.  He was a very careful person, not given to a lot of loose talk, and so I suppose he thought the least said the better.

    You are completely right that this was life or death in those days.  Once Gloucester had Rivers executed, or perhaps earlier, he was on the path of no return.

    Not only was Richard the last English king to die in battle, he also the first English king to die in battle since 1066 when Harold Godwinson was killed at the battle of Hastings.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 07:30:22 PM PST

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    •  For some reason I had it (5+ / 0-)

      in my head that he had summarily executed Rivers and Grey when he took possession of the boys but between comments I went to my bookshelf and you are right that they died later in June.

      And yes, it is clear that by the time he took out Hastings he had his mind made up and being a man of action there was no stopping him from executing his plan.

      You are also right that there is no evidence that the boys lived until 1485 but at the same time there is no clear evidence that they died in 1483. No one has an alibi worth a farthing.

      Wasn't there an argument that the Duke of Norfolk was in charge of the tower or something? It was one of the flimsiest arguments as I recall but I remember his name being thrown out there as a potential killer of the boys. Given that he survived Bosworth and was imprisoned by Tudor but later released and returned to high station it seems highly unlikely that if he had done it Tudor wouldn't have accused him and beheaded him for it. He doesn't fit the bill of someone Tudor needed supporting him.

      I don't think we know enough to be able to say that Buckingham wouldn't have killed the boys without Richard's approval... especially under the Becket scenario I referenced. I can easily see a situation in which the pros and cons of killing them were discussed... or simply one in which their continued existence was discussed as an on-going problem with their deaths being unspoken words hanging in the air... and left open but Richard having never approved and Buckingham having gone ahead and done it anyhow thinking he'd have either gratitude from or blackmail on Richard later. A big miscalculation if so.

      In any event, I can easily see Richard resigning himself to the idea that it had to be done and then ordering it done. But that always leaves me wondering why Tudor didn't immediately accuse him of it as it seems unlikely that no one would have been around to tell him that was the case.

      Every scenario always brings me back to why Tudor didn't use the PR to shore up his own incredibly weak claim to the throne. The whisper campaign is so incredibly weak by comparison.

      Peace,

      Andrew

      "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

      by Andrew C White on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 07:58:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Henry not trumpeting the murder of the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril, mskitty, JesseCW

        princes has always struck me as one of the strongest reasons to doubt the simplest "Richard did it" explanation,too.

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:23:49 PM PST

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        •  Henry Tudor was very crafty, I think he didn't (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tardis10

          want to emphasize anything that would make the Yorkists look like they had a superior claim to the throne.  He had other reasons (see down thread) such as not wanting to encourage Yorkists pretenders, whether real (Earl of Lincoln) or imaginary (Simnel, Warbeck).

          You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

          by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:28:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I know but it just doesn't (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Peril

            ring true somehow. Too much quiet like too much noise bugs me ;)

            "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

            by tardis10 on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:35:24 PM PST

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            •  Another idea would be that Henry Tudor as king (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tardis10

              was trying to negotiate alliances with foreign powers through marriages.  He didn't want to remind them that England not so long before had recently killed off a bunch of nobility, including two royal children.

              You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

              by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:39:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Naaa... that's weak (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cartoon Peril, tardis10

                Similar things had happened in other countries and nobility knew their asses were on the line when it came to the power game whether it came from outright murder, war or the very common fratricidal battles for thrones. The War of the Roses was just one of the most extreme examples of the common place politics of its time.

                "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

                by Andrew C White on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:48:17 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  How much quiet was there, though? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cartoon Peril

              Whispers had been going around about What Richard Had Done With The Princes, widespread and credible enough that the Spider King in France was convinced.  More would write a book about it.  It was all convincing enough that Shakespeare would one day write a play in which Richard was cast as a complete villain.

              It could well be that Henry VII simply saw that the whispers going around were effective enough that he didn't need to directly involve himself with putting forth sordid accusations.

              Also, he would need the bodies, and he may not have known where those were and been unwilling to order the Tower taken apart for the search.  As noted in the diary, it was almost 200 years later that the likely bodies were found.

              •  The Spider King was so paranoid that (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cartoon Peril

                he judged everyone else's actions and motives by what he himself would have done. And if he'd been in Richard's shoes, he'd have taken out the Princes before you could sneeze. So naturally he would believe the rumors.

                If it's
                Not your body
                Then it's
                Not your choice
                AND it's
                None of your damn business!

                by TheOtherMaven on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 05:42:08 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Lincoln died at Bosworth (0+ / 0-)

            but his several younger brothers, sons of the Duke of Suffolk and Edward/Richard's sister, who definitely had better claims to the throne were still alive.

            And yes, he didn't want to grant legitimacy to the Yorkists but it still behooved him to show that the boys were dead and to sully the name of the remaining Yorkists by blaming it on Richard and all of them by association.

            "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

            by Andrew C White on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:45:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Lincoln escaped Bosworth, came back (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Andrew C White, tardis10

              later in 1487 to cause Henry Tudor all kinds of trouble until he was killed at the very bloody Battle of Stoke on 16 June 1487.  Insofar as Lincoln was the senior genuine Yorkist claimant, this was a major victory for Henry.

              You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

              by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:53:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No shit... it's been awhile (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cartoon Peril, dotsright

                I could have sworn he died at Bosworth and that only his younger brothers were left.

                Like I said, it has been many years since I studied this so I'm running on old memories. Lincoln had by far the better claim to the throne though by that point, except for Clarence's son, they all went through at least one female line at that point and in the case of Tudor both female and bastard lines.

                "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

                by Andrew C White on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 09:01:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Tudor didn't play up the Yorkist side of his (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dotsright

        claim.  He had a very distant claim to the throne through his mother, and he preferred to rely on this.  He really did not want to discuss the Yorkist claims much, as it will be recalled that he had to deal with a genuine Yorkist heir (the Earl of Lincoln) with an army in the field as late as 1487.  

        On the strength of claims to the throne, I would agree that Henry Tudor's was weak, but by 1485, pretty much everybody with a stronger claim had been killed, including both of the Lancastrians (Henry VI and his son) all the male Beauforts (the real party in interest on the Lancastrian side) and all of the male Yorkists except the child Earl of Warwick and the de la Poles.  So conquest really was the key to the throne.

        The Becket scenario is somewhat attractive in that it is easier to believe that the princes would killed by a distant power-hungry cousin (Buckingham) rather than their appointed Protector and paternal uncle (Gloucester).  The two problems with the Becket scenario are that the Princes were under guard within the Tower of London, not unprotected in the open area of a cathedral.  Also, suppose Buckingham did kill them in a Becket-type situation.  Wouldn't it be smart of Richard to have simply denounced Buckingham?  So, even if Buckingham did have something to do with the death of the Princes, he would have obtained sufficient cover from Richard before he did so.

        You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

        by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:24:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe it was beside the point, to some degree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril

        Every scenario always brings me back to why Tudor didn't use the PR to shore up his own incredibly weak claim to the throne.

        Henry knew he was going to have to win his throne on the battlefield.  Public sentiment isn't that much help there.  Maybe it would've garnered him a few more troops, but there's also the consideration that accusations can sometimes backfire.  For instance, Richard was of the House of York, after all, and in 1483 Tudor had already brokered a marriage with Elizabeth of York as a move to unite Lancaster and York and thus put an end to the dynastic wars.  Some of the Yorks might not have taken kindly to one of theirs being formally accused as a kin-killer, which could have been perceived to taint the whole family.

        •  Henry had certainly a tough job being king (0+ / 0-)

          and it may be that he simply concluded that to accuse the (dead) Richard III would make things worse for him rather than better.

          You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

          by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:31:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe... but I can't really see it (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Peril

            even if he didn't blame it on Richard it still behooved him to proclaim the boys dead and thereby proclaim the House of York dead.

            "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

            by Andrew C White on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:57:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Except that the remaining Yorks (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cartoon Peril

              were being pacified by Elizabeth of York becoming Queen of England, with her future son expected to rule England after Henry.

              The idea was not so much as to declare the House of York dead as it was to simply subsume it into the Tudor line.  Why annoy Yorks with perceived gloating and insults on their family (via labeling Richard III a kin-killer) when you can assimilate them instead?

              It all worked very, very well.

          •  Yes, after Richard III was dead (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Peril

            there would have been even less point.  Prior to Richard's death, as I noted Henry might have raised more soldiers.  But a dead Richard could not reclaim the throne, and he left no heirs.  Balance that against potentially upsetting members of his wife's family and jeopardizing the Lancaster-York peace...and really, why bother?  Ultimately if he was to keep the throne he had won on the battlefield, he'd have to do it by being an effective king, not by touting his claim.

            And he had prior examples:  Henry IV was an usurper, and his son Henry V the son of an usurper, but it made little practical difference.  They both kept their crowns.  And Henry V's son Henry VI lost the throne not because he was from a line of usurpers, but because he was incompetent and his government was corrupt and incompetent.  Edward IV was an usurper toppling the previous line of usurpers, but he kept his crown too due to being an effective ruler and winning every battle.

            It was nice to have a claim, but the strength or weakness of said claim wasn't nearly as important becoming and staying king as being effective and competent in both government and battle.

        •  This is after he's already won the battle (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cartoon Peril

          the war is essentially over. Troops aren't the issue. Now some virtual unknown (Tudor) is claiming the throne when there are 2 boys that are sons of the late King still running around somewhere.

          At that point it is all about the PR.

          As for the House of York there was really nothing left of it. Warwick (Clarence's son) was a minor and an imbecile of some sort. The de la Pole's, sons of the Duke of Suffolk and the sister of Edward and Richard, are all that remain. Suffolk was apparently not a power player and his eldest son and Richards designated heir, the Earl of Lincoln, died at Bosworth with Richard. That left a bunch of younger sons with no title and no following of their own as rival claimants and all that was left of the House of York. It was the House of Suffolk now and it had little juice.

          Henry was uniting with the House of Woodville in reality and putting to bed any doubts about the Yorkists... assuming the boys were dead. With the idea that the boys were alive still floating around there remained a House of York for any opponents he might have to rally around. It makes no sense that he didn't proclaim the boys dead and as bonus points blame it on his conquered enemy.

          Peace,

          Andrew

          "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

          by Andrew C White on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 08:56:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ah, but he didn't need it, did he? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Peril

            And that basically invalidates the argument.

            He didn't lose the throne for lack of PR.  He went on to rule for almost 24 years.

            The example of English monarchs for nearly 100 years - since Richard II gave up the throne in 1399 - were quite clear for Henry Tudor:  He would keep or lose the throne he had won depending on how well he governed and how well he fought battles, not depending on the strength or weakness of his claim.

            •  In the long run? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mskitty, tardis10

              No, he didn't need it but at the time his claim was incredibly weak and his grip on power must have felt tenuous indeed.

              Over his and the next 2 generations the Tudors felt the need to engage in a whisper campaign against Richard that escalated in histories claiming he had done it and ended with Shakespears Richard III caricature.

              In the meantime Henry VII and then Henry VIII killed off every possible claimant to the throne, including... nay.. featuring... the de la Pole's.

              He won the throne at Bosworth but there is no way he could have felt secure and the evidence shows that he did not and neither did his son.

              The question remains... if Richard killed the boys why didn't he pin it on him and why didn't he make it clear to the kingdom that his primary rivals to the throne were dead.

              It remains one of the greatest mysteries within the mystery of the murder of the princes.

              Peace,

              Andrew

              "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

              by Andrew C White on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 09:28:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That in itself doesn't do much to make it safer (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cartoon Peril

                Richard III was dead - dead men can't claim thrones.

                Richard III left no heirs.

                The princes were dead - dead boys can't claim thrones.

                The first claimant to the throne had nothing to do with the boys - it was the imposter of the Earl of Warwick.  Note that Henry didn't feel the need to execute him after the fighting was done.

                Then, yes, an imposter of the younger prince followed.  But, you know, the first imposter, above, was an imposter of a living man that Henry had imprisoned in the Tower.  That was the thing about that age.  Even displaying bodies didn't actually prove anything, as some would claim that the bodies were of imposters - that had happened before in the Wars of the Roses.

                Your point about Henry VII and VIII killing off every possible claimant to the throne goes both ways - there were many more claimants out there than just the (dead) princes, even if absolutely everyone was convinced that the princes were dead.  The precedent had been set back in 1399 and reinforced several times since then:  The strength of one's claim to the throne did not matter near as much as whether one could govern and fight effectively.  There wasn't a court determining which among the various claims was the strongest and therefore should be king - such were sorted out on the battlefield, or by execution.  Physical elimination of rivals was what was necessary.  PR and who had the better blood claim, not so much.

          •  The "failed rescue" is one angle that's been (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tardis10

            discussed over the years, that is, that the princes died during the course of a rescue effort perhaps organized by the Woodvilles.  While this would explain a number of issues,  there is no evidence to support it.

            You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

            by Cartoon Peril on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 09:14:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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