By - SoScorpio4
The thing that bugs me with the case against Richard III is that they always focus on Richard in the last two years of his life, as king, but if you study his life before all that you can see it would be completely out of character for Richard to do the things that he's supposed to have done. I'm not saying a person can't suddenly change, that's entirely plausible but I think people should take it in to account. We have proof Richard was an honest, honourable and chivalrous man. In my opinion, there was proof once that would have exonerated Richard, but it was destroyed, and history was rewritten by the tudors. Anyone in that situation would, Henry VII wanted to be remembered as the man who put down the tyrant Richard and saved England from the constant wars.
This was always my thinking as well. I’m by not means a historian, but Richard was always heart and soul for family, it just didn’t really click for me that after Edward’s death he just suddenly didn’t care about his family anymore and would secretly execute his beloved brother’s children. It’s such an annoying mystery, if Richard had ordered their deaths he could’ve brought the bodies out and said “oops they died somehow, how sad” and Henry Tudor would’ve done the same thing if his faction had ordered their deaths, but nobody did that.
>if Richard had ordered their deaths he could’ve brought the bodies out and said “oops they died somehow, how sad” and Henry Tudor would’ve done the same thing if his faction had ordered their deaths, but nobody did that.
This is definitely the strangest part of the mystery. Anyone who had reason to kill them would have had good reason to show their bodies as proof, and yet no one did. Henry VII didn't announce that they were dead until 1486. If Richard had killed them then it makes sense that Henry didn't have the bodies, but that doesn't explain why Richard didn't show them.
It even lends credence to the idea that they were somehow smuggled out. The delay in announcing their deaths could have been because Henry was looking for them, but when he failed to find them he knew the safest course was to say they were dead, so no one else would look for them.
Yes this is what I was trying to say but you said it much better!
I've thought a lot about this as well. Judging by character it doesn't seem like something he would do. But he also usurped the throne and that seems out of character too.
My best guess is that he genuinely thought that allowing the Woodville family to keep their power with Edward dead would spell disaster for the kingdom, and so he at first tried to take the princes away from their influence, but eventually realized it wasn't possible. He may have wanted to send them away but probably realized that no matter how hard he tried to keep it a secret, they would eventually re-emerge with their claims. Killing them was the only way to ensure that his father's dynasty continued, the only way to prevent a Woodville dynasty.
This is also a decent point to be taken in to consideration. Thank you for sharing.
So I agree to a certain extent. However... Richard did still steal the throne from his nephews. He made all of his brother's offspring illegitimate by invalidating his brother's marriage. That was not nice or honorable treatment of his own family. He also locked the princes in the tower. These actions aren't disputed and don't reflect well on his character. Does it fit with his character before Edward IV died? No. It's a puzzle. He still did these things.
It can be argued that Edward IVs marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid because of his pre-contract of marriage to Eleanor Talbot, making his offspring illegitimate, which would have made Richard the rightful heir. Titulus Regius solidified and legitimised this. If that Is all true, it would not have been honorable to allow a bastard to become king. It should also be noted that the princes where housed in the Royal apartments, some people tend to think they were thrown in a dungeon. They weren't locked up, they were allowed outside in the grounds of the tower and had access to everything they needed, they were kept there to stop rebels using them as a rallying point.
Elizabeth was Edward's established legal wife for 20 years with no challenges to the legality of the marriage. This "pre-contract" was brought up after Edward died. Eleanor Talbot was already dead, too. Conveniently. The only witness to the marriage was a bishop, which oddly enough, is fewer witnesses than to the marriage of Edward to Elizabeth. So there is more evidence that Edward's marriage to Elizabeth took place than a marriage to Eleanor Talbot. Throwing out the marriage was a political move to steal the throne by Richard, not some moral crusade. Keeping his nephews in the royal apartments does not make imprisoning them ok. What was his plan? Imprisonment for life isolated from the outside world like the Earl of Warwick who went insane? There's a lot of hoops to jump through to make this anything but political opportunism. Personally I think Richard didn't like his in-laws and invalidating the marriage had more to do with cutting off their political influence than anything else.
The bishop youre talking about was Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells, here is an excerpt from his Wikipedia page - " In 1478, Stillington spent some weeks in prison, apparently as a result of some association with the disgraced George, Duke of Clarence. It has been suggested that he gave Clarence information about the king's prior association with another woman, information that would have put Clarence in a position to claim the throne for himself. " If the information the Bishop had was harmless why did Edward IV imprison him?
Why jail him? Probably because the bishop was plotting with George, the brother that was trying to overthrow Edward at the time. People have been thrown in jail for less in that day and age. The quote you include was written by Phillippe de Commines in France around 1490. That's closer in time than many accounts, but still rumor from someone writing in another country about what someone else supposedly said 12 years ago. He also doesn't name Eleanor Talbot, but just says "a beautiful lady." Bishop Stillington was additionally jailed later in life for being involved in the Lambert Simnel plot to overthrow Henry VII, so I wouldn't view him as politically neutral.
Also worth noting that Edward IV's supposed marriage to Eleanor Talbot is not documented besides what's in "Titulus Regius," and Richard never attempted to have the precontract authenticated by a church court, which was considered the proper venue for such a case. Edward IV and Elizabeth got married in 1464. Eleanor Talbot died in 1468 (two years before Edward V was born, and 16 years before Edward IV died), yet in the four years after Edward married Elizabeth (that she was still alive for) Eleanor did not come forward. No one did. Even the Bishop. If he was thrown in jail for speaking against the marriage, why wait until 1478 to do it? 10 years after Talbot died?
You may look at all that and still think Eleanor Talbot had a pre-contract, but it’s not convincing to me. It’s also unfair to count rumors as evidence but ignore all the concrete evidence that Edward and Elizabeth were married, like the fact he acknowledged her as his wife and she reigned as queen with him for 19 years and their marriage wasn't made invalid by the church.
Eleanor Talbot WAS named by Stillington, according to Phillip de commines he -"told Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the Lord Protector, that the marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville had been invalid on the grounds of Edward's earlier marriage to Lady Eleanor Talbot, at which he claimed to have officiated" she was most definitely named by the bishop.
The pre contract isnt recoreded anywhere else because that wasnt required, all Edward IV and Eleanor Talbot needed to do was say vows to each other, something like "i vow to marry you" followed by intercourse, no witnesses were necessary, that, under canon was binding. Richard didn't need to have the pre contract authenticated, under our modern law he would, but under Canon law testimony from a bishop was considered more than enough. A possible reason as to why Eleanor never came forward is maybe she feared for her life, the woodvilles were very influential, they may have killed her had she said anything, Edward IV may have put her on trial for treason, maybe she just wasn't an ambitious woman. The bishop waited that long for the same reason as Eleanor, but when an opportunity arose with clarence he took it. As for Edward IVs marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, acknowledging someone as your wife doesn't automatically make it true, yes they lived together for a long time but you've got to ask the question of why they married so clandestinely, if they had waited for the banns to be called they knew the pre contract might have been exposed. Also Canon law allowed questions of legitimacy to be raised after the parents' deaths, wrong was not excused by time, and long continuance of adultery did not make it right.
de Commines didn't name Eleanor Butler. For a long time, historians thought the woman Edward IV was accused of being precontracted to was Elizabeth Lucy, another mistress. It wasn't until historian George Buck (a Richardian) discovered a copy of titulus regius that Eleanor Talbot was identified. I don't know where the quote you listed comes from, but it sounds very similar to what's in titulus regius. Getting a marriage made invalid through the church was standard, hence Henry VIII's whole conflict with the Catholic church two generations later. Fear could explain a lot, but that's not evidence. Edward's family wanted him to marry a princess, so the banns being read for either marriage would not have been an option (and I don't think the upper classes did that anyway? I've never heard of it being done in that day and age for nobility), but as you said, that wasn't necessary for a legally binding marriage, since no banns would have been read before a marriage to Eleanor either. As to why the marriage to Elizabeth was so clandestine (and that making the validity doubtful)... That point also applies to Eleanor? And besides hiding things from his family, I don't know why Edward did all this. No one does. He could have denied either marriage, married a princess with a dowry/army, and history would have been different. But Richard's motivations for taking the throne and imprisoning his nephews do not look pure to me and many other historians.
De commines didn't need to say who the lady was, we know it was Eleanor Butler from Titulus Regius, a valid document is more proof than gossip from a French diplomat. Banns were definitely read out in those times, they were Catholics. No banns were read out for the precontract between Edward IV and Eleanor Butler because it wasn't a marriage it was a precontract of marriage, meaning they promised to marry, it was still legally binding. Its common knowledge why Edward did all this, to convince women to sleep with him, then he left them humiliated, this happened a lot in medieval times. This should be taken in to consideration when pondering why Eleanor Butler never came forward as queen, shame, she was a party to bigamy, a mortal sin to catholics.
They were housed in the royal apartments, but eventually stopped being seen in the yards and behind the windows. So either that was when they were killed or taken away, or they were at some point moved to a dungeon.
Either way though, they were "locked up" even if it was in nice surroundings. They weren't allowed to leave, they had guards who yes, were probably noblemen who treated them as princes, but guards nonetheless.
As to Eleanor Talbot, it's hard to find information on her. Not unusual for women of the time in general. But if Edward had married her, wouldn't she have pressed her claim? What woman would quietly give up the title of Queen after a king had married her? And if she did press her claim, surely that would have been recorded? It just strikes me as very suspicious that it was always other people claiming she was married to Edward, even after her death when she wasn't around to say anything about it.
I said it should be noted, I never said that justified anything.
Neither did I, I'm just saying speaking practically they were locked up, they did not have freedom even if they had luxury. But you're right it is worth noting, because at first it wouldn't have seemed odd to keep them there, the royal apartments in the tower being the traditional place of residence for a king just before his coronation. If Richard did plan on crowning Prince Edward, that might have been where they stayed anyway.
If it was the Tudors who do you think ordered it
If I had to name a Tudor responsible, I'd go with Margaret Beaufort. I like Philippa Gregory's postulation that Margaret got Henry Stafford to arrange it because he would be Henry's heir, while knowing all along that he would do it because he wanted to claim the throne for himself and would also need the princes dead.
It is debatable though whether her desire to obscure the fact that the Tudors had anything to do with it would have extended so far as to give the task to someone she didn't trust, and trying to keep it secret instead of showing the bodies. She seemed smarter than that, but perhaps she really was squeamish enough to take the chance the job wouldn't be done properly, as long as no one suggested it was she or her son who had done it.
I feel like Philippa Gregory’s work is total fiction tbh, she was way too religious to do that
I dunno, her consuming desire to make her son king doesn't seem very pious. She strikes me as extremely ambitious, and maybe she believed she was doing God's will but I think she convinced herself of that to excuse her worldly ambitions.
But wanting to appear and believe herself moral would be a good reason to distance herself from the murder, both practically and in her own mind, which could be a reason for having someone else do it.
I mean that’s literally the plot that Philippa Gregory made up in her book
I'm not saying that's definitely how it happened, just that it's entirely possible. There isn't enough evidence to make it the leading theory, but I also don't think there's enough evidence that Margaret was truly pious and not just putting on a show. She was clearly capable of ambition as it was she who saw and seized the opportunity for her son to be king. Whether that was the decision of the moment or something she dreamed about her whole life is something we can never know.
I think it's most likely that parts of Moore's account are true, though assuming the two bodies found at the Tower were the princes, he did get some things factually wrong.
That said, the idea that he wouldn't write pro-Tudor propaganda is laughable. He was a politician, if he didn't know how to play the game he wouldn't have lasted as long. But as Richard is most likely directly responsible for the boys' deaths (and certainly was morally responsible for keeping them safe), More could have just presented rumour as fact that he did honestly believe.
I suppose modern life is different in many ways, so maybe it isn't as significant as I think, but More wore a hair shirt and that makes me think he was a moral man. It's worn under the over garments, so not a virtue signal like wearing a crucifix. Someone who would choose to be in constant discomfort in order to honor Jesus sounds principled to me. And the way he died... though that I suppose could have been extreme virtue signaling, wanting to be a martyr.
What did he get wrong if we assume the bodies found were the princes? Didn't he say in his book that they were buried under or at the foot of some stairs, and that's where the bodies were found? Or am I misremembering?
More was huge into virtue signaling. The fact that we even know he wore a hair shirt is proof of that.
I have a hard time with More, because it’s clear he very much wanted to be a martyr and he was a proud man who sometimes comes across as one who sees himself as infallible.
There’s no denying that he was very much into his faith, that it meant a great to him.
He had strong beliefs that he was obviously willing to die over but again, he wouldn't have had that position in court without knowing how to please Henry VIII.
He said the bodies were moved after being buried at the foot of the stairs.
The princes were in Richard III's custody when they died, and even if he didn't have them killed, they wouldn't have died if he hadn't usurped the throne.
Debatable. If *no one* had usurped the throne then they wouldn't have died. But Richard wasn't the only one who had reason to want them dead. Edward's death created a power vacuum, and there were any number of players who wanted to fill that vacuum. Henry VII being an obvious one, and Henry Stafford another. Any of these men or their supporters had reason to kill the princes.
Still as you say, their being in Richard's custody does make him the most likely culprit. Though the idea that someone else may have done it and pinned it on him to weaken his rule is worth exploring.
I'm not a fan of Sir Thomas, but in general, I would say he was an honest man and definitely stuck to his principles. And I'll go so far as to say he was not deliberately writing Tudor propaganda. But even the most honest soul will report bad information as fact if that's all they have.
One of More's main sources was Bishop John Morton, who did not like Richard III and had (I believe) fled the country during his reign. I'm sure there were other people he talked to, but we don't know the weight given to each account. If he thought Morton was right, he may have given other testimonies less credit or picked the aspects that agreed with his theory. This may make him a bad historian but an average sort of person as we all do that to some degree.