The Princes in the Tower,
by Victorian painter Paul Delaroche
This is The Biggest History Mystery of All Time & no one knows whodunnit. Shakespeare fingered Richard III, but then Shakespeare was writing plays for the amusement of Elizabeth Tudor, so he couldn't very well finger her grandpa, Henry VII. Other prime suspects incl Buckingham, Margaret Beaufort, Jasper Tudor, the Duke of Norfolk. This would make a splendid MCF game....new killer every time ya play it!
Both lads, along w/ their sisters, were declared illegitimate by Act of Parliament in June 1483. This was called Titulus Regius. They were seen playing outside at the Tower in June & July, but not in August. At that time Clarence's kids, Margaret & Edward, Earl of Warwick (also rumored to be several fries short of a Happy Meal, but obvs from birth) were removed north to one of Richard of Gloucester's castles, Sheriff Hutton, along w/ a few bastards of Edward's that had been corralled, plus one of Richard's own bastards, John of Gloucester (the other, Catherine, had recently been married & was shortly to demise). It seems reasonable to speculate Edward & Richard may have been a part of this cavalcade of the blood royal.
Uncle Richard has always been liked as the prime suspect, but as in any investigation, ya gotta have means, motive, & opportunity. Certainly he had opportunity, probably means, but what motive? As bastards & minors in a country where peeps were heartily sick of kiddie kings, did their continued existence really pose that much of a threat to his throne? Hmmm.
Tis a lot EZ-er to axe rebellious grownups than to do away w/ little kids. Richard may not have known em very well, but he did have 3 brats of his own; ya'd think that might give a peep pause. If Richard kilt em, the smartest thing to have done, as was done every time a desposed monarch was done away w/, was to have displayed the bodies publicly & thrown a nice state funeral whilst looking all mournful. Otherwise, there seems no sense to the motive. Ya WANT peeps to know your prime rivals have demised. That pricks all the air right out of those pesky rebellions. Twould've been EZ to announce, awww, the poor little peeps caught the plague & demised, look, see? And to eliminate em right on top of having em declared bastards would def make the whole bastardy thing look like a put-up job.
Buckingham is considered a suspect b/c he had a falling out w/ Richard in the autumn of 1483, threw a rebellion, & was executed. Peeps speculate mayhap he discovered Richard had the lads kilt & therefore wanted to get rid of him. Why? Like Buckingham cared about the removal of potential heirs. He was already way too chuffed about being royalty. Buckingham was irked w/ both Richard & Edward b4 him b/c he was descended from de Bohuns. If ya recall, Thomas of Woodstock married the younger sister, Eleanor, whilst Henry IV got the elder, Mary, & Buckingham was descended from the Woodstock line. He always felt gypped over the Lancastrians taking the lion's share of the inheritance & Edward wouldn't fork a chunk over to shut up his grousing about it. Perhaps Richard wouldn't, either, & that's what they fell out about? Or mayhap he thunk this time he was gonna lord it over at Ludlow & be put in charge of the new Prince of Wales, whilst Richard had other ideas?
Now those Tudors, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. Margaret Beaufort was def the power behind the throne, Jasper Tudor was responsible for it, & Henry Tudor never once said hey! where'd my wife's bros get to? See, b4 marrying Elizabeth of York, he repealed Titulus Regius. That made those 2 boys a much bigger threat to him than they were to Richard b/c they were no longer bastards. Therefore, either Henry was a real gambler, or he knew they were dead.
And how would he know for sure? He wasn't in England at the time they disappeared from public view. Did someone he knew & trusted take care of it for him to ease his path to the throne....like Mummy Dearest or Uncle Jappy? Margaret would do ANYTHING for her Sonny Boy & she was in London when peeps 1st noticed the princes had gone missing.
The alleged crime of killing the princes by Richard never crossed Henry's tight lips. Ya'd think he'd want to accuse Richard of something fairly heinous as further justification for seizing the crown. Did Henry order it done himself? There's a Sir James Tyrell who looks good for the flunkey. See, at the start of a new king's reign, tis customary to toss out a handful of pardons to some peeps to generate goodwill. Well, Tyrell got 2 pardons....a month apart. What did he do in that month to necessitate the 2nd one? Dirty work for Henry, that's for sure. Hmmm.
And Elizabeth Woodville, after assenting to her daughter's marriage to Henry in 1486, suddenly turned on him & began plotting against him in 1487. Did she find out something btwn those 2 dates?
Nobody much considers John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, but I've tossed him in b/c he looks fishy to me. He was on Richard's side all the way to the end, & natch peeps who had the audacity to remain loyal to their crowned & anointed king were on Henry Tudor's shit list & lost their goodies if he could find a way to do it. But Norfolk got his goodies back right quick. Makes ya wonder if mayhap he didn't do Henry a really big favor, huh?
To get ahead a tad, in the reign of Charles II some repairs were being done at the Tower & lo & behold, the bodies of what appeared to be 2 boys were found cemented in under a staircase. Twas assumed these were the PITT & Charles gave them a nice funeral at Westminster. We COULD find out if they really were thru DNA testing now, but the current queen has to give permission to dig up any peeps buried in crown properties & she won't. GRRRRR Go Team Wills! What did they know about CSI in the 1600s?
They were allowed to be poked at early in the 20th century to take measurements & determine approx age etc, & if they were 20th century lads then they maybe were around the right age, but peeps were smaller back then, mostly, so maybe not. Tis maddening. That exam couldn't determine a cause of demise so tis rumored they were either smothered or died of natural causes (yknow like maybe they caught sumfin contagious; there was a case in the 1500s where a pair of teenage ducal bros died within half an hr of each other from the sweating sickness). Ya'd think if they were suffocated, as most peeps seem to think, there would clearly have been crushing of those little neck bones or mayhap a fracture in the face bones or elsewhere. Must take a lot of weight to smother a peep, conscious or not.
Most peeps think Richard dunnit. I think Margaret Beaufort was an evil mastermind LOL There is someone else who could be dug up, but that would be getting ahead of the tale...
another Victorian-era painting of
The Princes in the Tower