In Part 2, we continue to explore whether King Richard III was guilty of regicide. In Part 1, I have tried to explain in very general terms why I do not think that King Richard III is guilty of regicide. There are many open questions left. I cannot answer all of them and will not even try. Again, I am not a historian and this blog isn’t suited for that either. However, there are a few things that I still need to explain.
For her book on the Princes in the Tower, Weir relied heavily on the works of Sir Thomas More. More did not write his “History” until after 1513 so many years after King Edward IV’s death. His work on this time period remained incomplete. It was published in 1557 by More’s nephew, William Rastell, who incidentally also published his own take on the matter. Curious enough, they wrote two complete different stories about the Princes and their fate. Just Google it et voila! But that is not my point.
More received a lot of information about the time period from King Richard III through trusted sources and Weir does not question those. She does not even stop to realize what she wrote when she mentioned that More very often visited the sister of his friend Edward Lee. That lady, Joyeuce Lee (or Leigh) was a nun in the Minoresses Convent in Aldgate, situated across from the Tower of London. In that same convent were other ladies worth noting:
1: Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert Brackenbury
2: Mary Tyrell, sister or cousin of Sir James Tyrell
3: Anne Montgomery, Mary Tyrell’s aunt and wife of Thomas Montgomery, the executor of King Edward IV’s last will and testament
4: Elizabeth Mowbray (nee Talbot), the Mother-in-Law of the youngest prince, Richard of York who married Anne Mowbray as a child. Elizabeth Mowbray was also a relative of Eleanor Butler. Eleanor Butler is of course, the lady who allegedly had a precontract with King Edward IV that caused the King’s marriage to Elizabeth of Woodville to be bigamous hence invalid. And with that, his children were illegitimate and could not inherit the throne.
I have not been able to check that indeed all these ladies were at Aldgate at the same or on overlapping times. But if they were, wouldn’t they have been able to give More tons of information? Would their information be contrary to what More had always believed to be true? Do we know for sure that they interacted with each other? No, of course not. We’d have to check the Abbey’s records if they still exist, their registrations, their visitors’ lists, etc. But it fascinates me that they were all in one place and More visited there frequently. And he abandoned his “History.” Why? Could those ladies have been able to fill in some blanks and did that make More doubt what he had already written?
According to More, King Richard III wrote a letter twice to order the Princes’ deaths. The first one is the letter with the order that Brackenbury refused to execute and the second one was the letter that told Brackenbury to hand over the Tower’s keys to Tyrell for one night only. If you count the messengers of those letters, the group involved with Tyrell, and the priest who reburied the Princes’ remains, you have more than a handful of people aware of and knowledgeble about the regicide. So how is it possible that the regicide was not described in detail by any of their contemporaries but only much later under the Tudor reign? With so many involved, how could this have been kept quiet? The easy answer is of course through bribery! Award them all handsomely under the condition that they will not spill the beans. But that is still too simple. Contemporaries write that there were rumours/suspicions that the princes were dead but nobody in authority made a public accusation of regicide until de Rochfort did so in France, in 1484.
Weir does not entertain for a minute the option that Richard III had taken the children to safety e.g. up North were he had a reliable circle of fiercely loyal nobles. That is were he brought his brother’s son, the Earl of Warwick. His household records refer to “children.” Also, the financial records from Richard III’s coronation refer to the oldest prince as Lord Edward V.
Why is it not possible that one or two princes were taken to safety?
If Richard III had the prince(s) somewhere safe and kept silent about the matter, the rumours would remain alive. And with that, any possible revolt or rebellion against him would have to center on bringing back to power the sons of the previous King, Edward IV. If that kept the people busy then there was a smaller chance that they would rally around yet another contender to the throne and there were plenty of those!
Maybe. But not even entertaining that strategy to preserve the Plantagenet line is not right either if at the same time, you accuse someone of double murder.
To be continued!