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The Second Wars of the Roses: Richard III Did It; Henry VII Did It: The Princes in the Tower, Who Is Right? Part 1

Updated on May 27, 2015

The Damage to Richard III's Reputation Happened Between April and August of 1483, When the Princes in the Tower Were Never Seen Again

As an Archivist and Research Librarian, as well as a historian, I know, for a fact, that we can not discount Oral History. That was true in the twentieth century and it is true now, Truth is not a variable, it is a constant. That rang true in the fifteenth century, sixteenth century, and so on. The term, "rings true" was coined for the things that resonate within us. Truth resonates; it is a soul deep certainty. Many people held a piece of the puzzle, of what became of the Princes in the Tower. Each piece, standing alone, was not significant. It was when those small pieces come together that they fit with the known facts, and a clearer picture, an overview, was achieved.

People then, especially those that were not of noble birth, could not read or write. They were not ignorant, they were uneducated. Thomas More's account of the reign of Richard III was not published until decades after his execution, by beheading, and, beheaded by no other than Henry VIII, Tudor, his supposed collaborator on the book. Once published, very few people would have had the means to purchase such a book, so, if it was meant as an intentional act of propaganda, it was intended for a different audience.

The Tower of London was not an isolated castle in Yorkshire. People wandered around town day and night. London was teeming with people twenty-four hours a day. They knew who came, and who went, and then, like now, the Royals were the pop stars. What they did, what they wore, was news. The servants and the average person knew more than even the Royals knew, because every home had servants, and, for the most part, they were invisible to the Royals they served. The average Londoner, especially those in the vicinity of the Tower, would be excellent sources of information. The two small boys, Edward V and his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York,. were last seen playing "bows and arrows" at the end of June. The sudden absence of the small Princes could hardly go unnoticed, or unmentioned. Discrediting the accounts of the average person living in or around the Tower of London would be a grave injustice. The two boys were seen no more; It rings true.

The Princes in the Tower

Statue of Edward V and his younger brother, Richard of York
Statue of Edward V and his younger brother, Richard of York | Source

Tudor Propaganda was the only reason Richard III was accused of killing his nephews

It was Tudor propaganda. Let us look at the facts and see. The Tudor dynasty began, as champions of Richard III will attest, after the Battle of Bosworth Field, in 1485. Reports of when the two young Princes were last seen or heard occurred in 1483. Two years before the Tudors came into power. Most historians will tell you that Henry Tudor would not have been able to rally support or depose Richard III if the people and the nobles had not turned against Richard III. Richard had already poisoned the hearts and minds of his subjects. He did it, himself, with actions that are not contested:

  1. Richard arrested, and, summarily executed King Edward V's escorts. This included the young King's uncle, Anthony, 2nd Lord Rivers, and Edward V's half brother, Lord Richard Grey, without a trial, or evidence, and without the benefit of English Law. It was accomplished in a manner perceived as treacherous. and underhanded. After breaking bread with his nephew's escorts, Richard of Gloucester had them seized while they slept, after eating an amiable meal together. After the two men were beheaded, and Richard's men were looting the bodies, it was noted that Anthony, Lord Rivers, was wearing a hair shirt under his clothes; a sign of Christian piety.
  2. Elizabeth, widow of Edward IV, refused to surrender her youngest son to his paternal Uncle, Richard of Gloucester, Richard enlisted the help of the very elderly Cardinal Thomas Bourchier, giving the assurances that he only wanted the young brother of the king so that he could attend his brother's coronation. Several accounts make it clear that Richard would have violated sanctuary by force had the old Cardinal not persuaded
  3. A man named Ralph Shaa, a layman who was not an ordained representative of any Church; not a Priest, not a monk, not even a friar, and not, in any sense of the word, a clergyman, preached a sermon stating that Edward IV's children were illegitimate, Richard of Gloucester did not defend his brother's honor, or that of his nephews or nieces. The woman, Eleanor Butler, who supposedly had a marriage contract with Edward IV. never made a claim that Edward IV was her betrothed while she was alive. More importantly, her father had never made a claim of a marriage contract. As both were deceased, they could not testify as to the validity of such a claim. Other than Ralph Shaa's accusation, no proof was offered. As all the people involved had passed away, there was no one alive who could deny the accusation.
  4. Coincidentally, it was Edmund Shaa, acting in his former role of Lord Mayor, who happened to convince Richard of Gloucester, uncle to the boy King Edward V, to accept the royal crown. While people of today did not know who had preached the 'sermon', we assumed it was a man of God. The people who lived during these turbulent times already knew that it was the brother of the Lord Mayor of London, a politician who could be easily bought and paid for by any one with the means and the will to overthrow the rightful king. Especially, if that person had also been named the Lord Protector, trusted to be the young king's Regent.
  5. As Regent, Richard of Gloucester would have ruled for the young boy until King Edward V was old enough to rule England, himself. Out of all the Regents in the history of England, from William the Conqueror, until the present day, only one has failed to carry out his oath, Richard III, who, through 'no fault of his own', managed to become king himself and failed to protect two small boys. And, Richard III had them under lock and key, in a fortress, the Tower of London, where only his retainer had the key.
  6. Also,coincidentally, Edmund Shaa was knighted by Richard III, and given a position on the Privy Council, again, by Richard III. Sadly, Edmund Shaa's half brother, Ralph Shaa died in 1484.
  7. Robert Stillington, who claimed to have married Eleanor and Edward, could not produce any documentation or evidence of such a contract. Additionally, he should have known that only the Church could decide the validity of Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. And, only if the Church refused to recognize the nineteen year marriage, would any children be declared illegitimate. Since Eleanor Butler died in 1469, any children born after her death would be considered legitimate. As Edward V was born in 1470, the marriage would not have impacted him, at all. His brother, Richard, Duke of York, would also be unaffected by the pre-contract, if it truly existed. Again, only the Church could have determined that, as marriage was one of the Seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church.

Richard III's Skeleton Reveals Crooked Spine

Supporters of Richard III had declared that there was not any historical proof Richard III had any disability, it was all Tudor lies...
Supporters of Richard III had declared that there was not any historical proof Richard III had any disability, it was all Tudor lies... | Source

Be Careful Digging Up Skeletons: The Truth You Find, May Not be Your Own

Proponents of the "Tudor Conspiracy" theory place the blame everywhere else, but on Richard, himself. They say that there is no proof that Richard III killed his two nephews. That is absolutely true. What we can be absolutely sure of is that the two boys were under is personal protection. We can all agree that Richard III, as Lord Protector, failed, miserably. Did that failure result in his being overthrown, and killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field? It was the only reason why loyal supporters turned against Richard III.

Who killed the two helpless children in the Tower of London? Richard was out of London and had an alibi. Henry Tudor was in France, another good alibi. Could Henry Tudor have sent a henchman to commit the crime? Of course. Could Richard III have sent a henchman or two? Again, of course. Whoever committed the crime, had to have the key. The key was held by the Constable of the Tower of London. The Constable of the Tower of London was a retainer of Richard III. When the two little boys disappeared, from under lock and key, was anyone at the Tower of London arrested? No. Was the Constable of London fired? No. He held that position until 1485, when he died at the Battle of Bosworth, fighting for Richard III. Did he have to explain to Richard III how two boys managed to 'disappear' from a virtual fortress? If Richard III inquired into the matter, there is no record of an inquest or a trial to ascertain who did what. There is no record that Richard III instituted a search for his nephews. Since that would have been very public, someone would have known that King Richard III was conducting a door to door search, trying to find his missing nephews.

Did Richard III usurp his nephew, Edward V's, crown? There was no doubt about that at the time it happened in 1483. The people of England believed he had usurped his nephew's right to the throne. When both his nephews disappeared, the people of England could only draw the one logical conclusion, and lay both crimes at Richard III's feet. It was due to Richard's own actions that Henry Tudor gained support, that support ended with Richard III's death at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

In the final analysis, what we need to ask ourselves is not whether Richard III had his nephews murdered, but whether he fulfilled his oath as Lord Protector... did Richard III protect his nephews? The answer can only be a resounding, "No."

Richard III, Lord Protector of his Nephews, the Princes in the Tower. Rate his job performance in the poll

Richard III, placing his coronation ring on his finger symbolizing he is married to England
Richard III, placing his coronation ring on his finger symbolizing he is married to England | Source

Richard III, Lord Protector

Did Richard III Protect His Young Nephews and Keep Them Safe?

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Thomas More: A Man for all Seasons

Shakespeare's Quotations

Thomas More was a Tudor Propagandist

Thomas More began writing The History of Richard III around 1510. More never finished his book. In fact, it was published, unfinished, in 1557. Why was it unfinished? Thomas More was imprisoned in the Tower of London, charged with treason, and, then, beheaded, by Henry VIII. It was pretty shortsighted of Henry VIII to commission More to write a scathing account of Richard III's life, to, in effect, write bald-faced lies. Then, before More can finish the book. If Henry VIII had ordered Thomas More to write the account of Richard III's reign as king, why was the book left at More's home, and not seized by Henry VIII? Henry VIII has him arrested, charged with high treason, tried, and subsequently taken to the block on Tower Hill. Additionally, More knew what fate awaited him while he was still a free man. In that time, Thomas More did not revise the manuscript, and he did not destroy it. Someone who is facing imminent death looks to meet his Maker with as few sins as possible. If the manuscript was nothing but lies or gross exaggerations, written to appease Henry VIII, why would he reward his murderer by leaving it in its original form?

Additionally, Thomas More could have saved his own life. His wife, and his many children begged him to tell a lie, so he could escape a cruel death. Sometimes, the executioner's axe missed entirely. Sometimes the axe missed the neck and hit other areas, the shoulder was usually hit, sometimes more than once, so witnesses often heard the condemned moaning with each blow from an axe that needed to be sharpened. Sometimes the Executioner would hit the neck, but it did not sever the head. Several blows would be needed to finish the job. This happened so often, in fact, that Henry VIII granted Anne Boleyn's request for an expert swordsman from France. But, even that, was not a sure thing. Many Executioners missed so many times, that a French doctor, who witnessed many executions, was compelled to say that something needed to be devised for executions. Most of you already know that, based on a Doctor's suggestion, a new method of execution was invented. It was called the guillotine. The rest, as they say, is history.

Let us summarize: Thomas More refused to tell a lie in order to save his own life. That bears repeating: Thomas More refused to tell a lie in order to save his own life. And, yet, devotees of Richard III, would have people believe that Thomas More was a chronic, unabashed liar. More's reason for lying about Richard III was because more was paid to lie by the Tudors, particularly Henry VIII. More was beheaded on July 6, 1535, by his so-called patron, Henry VIII. His severed head, as required by law, was placed on pike and displayed on London Bridge. It would normally be tossed in the Thames, but one of More's daughters and her husband rescued it. If they were caught doing so, both would have faced Henry VIII's wrath, which needs no further explanation. Margaret, More's daughter, loved her father so much that she was buried with her father's head when she died.

Thomas More had been known as a pious man, who was known for his integrity, Even his enemies knew that, and acknowledged that while More was still alive.

Thomas More: A Man for all Seasons

Hans Holbein portrait of Thomas More, a man beheaded by Henry VIII before he finished his book, The History of Richard III
Hans Holbein portrait of Thomas More, a man beheaded by Henry VIII before he finished his book, The History of Richard III | Source

Richard III and Greyfriars


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