Richard III and the Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir

  1. Richard III: early 17th century (?) copy of a portrait by an anonymous artist of c. 1518–23 in the Royal Collection. When this picture was painted the legend of the villainous ‘crookbacked king’ with one shoulder higher than the other was firmly established.

  2. The earliest surviving portrait of Richard, dating from c. 1516–22 and almost certainly a copy of a lost original painted from life, shows no apparent deformity.

  3. The ‘Broken Sword’ portrait by an unknown artist, c. 1533–43. X-rays show that drastic alterations were made later on, when Richard’s reputation was rehabilitated, to give the deformed-looking king a more normal appearance.

  4. Edward IV: his son Edward, the elder of the two Princes, was ‘his greatest joy’.

  5. Elizabeth Wydville: ‘everyone, as he was nearest of kin unto the Queen, was so planted next about the Prince, whereby her blood might of youth be rooted in the Prince’s favour’ (Sir Thomas More).

  6. Illustration from The York Roll: at the top is Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, ‘the Kingmaker’, and his wife, Anne Beauchamp, the mother-in-law whom Richard III treated so callously. To the left is Warwick’s daughter Anne Neville with her two husbands, Edward of Lancaster and Richard III, with Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales, her son by Richard, below. To the right is Anne’s sister Isabella Neville with her husband, George, Duke of Clarence, and their children Edward, Earl of Warwick, and Margaret, later Countess of Salisbury.

  7. The Tower of London: contemporary sources indicate that the Princes were imprisoned in the White Tower. The forebuilding housing the staircase beneath which the bones of two children were found in 1674 may clearly be seen in front of the White Tower, facing the River Thames.

  8. Henry Tudor: this obscure scion of the royal house, whom Richard III referred to as ‘an unknown Welshman’, claimed to be ‘the very heir of the House of Lancaster’.

  9. Elizabeth of York and her sisters: Elizabeth claimed that Richard III ‘was her only joy and maker in this world, and she was his in heart, in thought, in body and in all’.

  10. Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond: a wise but dangerous woman who ‘imagined the destruction of the King’ (The Rolls of Parliament).

  11. The Princes in the Tower: Lord Chancellor Russell wrote that Edward (right) had a ‘gentle wit and ripe understanding, far passing the nature of his youth’. The French chronicler Jean Molinet describes York (left) as joyous and witty, and ever ready for dances or games’.

  12. Sir Thomas More: ‘I shall rehearse you the dolorous end of these babes, not after every way that I have heard by such men and such means as me thinketh it were hard but it should be true’.

  13. The burial of the Princes: More says they were buried ‘at the stair foot, meetly deep under the ground, under a great heap of stones.

  14. Ruins of the minoresses’ convent at Aldgate after the fire of 1797: here, in ‘the great house within the close’, lodged four ladies who may well have known the truth about the Princes’ fate.

  15. The remains found in 1674: ‘They were small bones of lads in their teens, fully recognised to be the bones of those two Princes’ (Eye-witness report, 1674; Archaeologia).

  16. The urn in which the bones repose in Westminster Abbey: ‘a curious altar of black and white marble’, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1678.

  17. The skull of Anne Mowbray: York’s child-bride and the Princes’ cousin, exhumed in 1964. Dental evidence indicates a familial relationship between her bones and those in the urn.

  Genealogical Table: Lancaster and York


  I should like to acknowledge my gratitude to the following: Pamela Tudor-Craig (Lady Wedgwood) for permission to use material from her splendid and informative catalogue for the National Portrait Gallery’s 1973 exhibition on Richard III; Mr Brian Spencer, for allowing me to use information printed in that catalogue and deriving from his unpublished manuscript about the inmates of the Minories: the Archaeological Resource Centre in York for allowing me to use the services of their textiles expert.

  I should also like to acknowledge my indebtedness to the works of the late Professor Charles Ross and that of Mr Desmond Seward, which were a constant inspiration. I must also express my gratitude to my editor, Jill Black, for her constant encouragement and for some extremely helpful suggestions on chronology and dates, especially in relation to Gloucester’s coup of April 1483. Gratitude is also due to my agent, Julian Alexander, for his unflagging enthusiasm, and to my husband Rankin and children John and Kate for their forbearance over the last two years.

  Lastly, I must stress that, while all these good people have given valuable assistance with this book, the end product is entirely my own and reflects my conclusions, not theirs.

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