Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Princes in the Tower


Portrait of the Princes in the Tower
Portrait of the Princes in the

Some time in the summer or early fall of 1483, 12-year-old Edward V and his 10-year-old brother, Richard of York, disappeared from public view.  Their father, King Edward IV, had died in April, and they had been lodged in the Tower of London since the end of May by their Uncle Richard.  In mid-July, Richard had his nephews declared illegitimate, which meant that neither boy would be able to become king, and arranged to have himself crowned Richard III. Two years later, in August, 1485, Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, and Henry Tudor, the victor, became Henry VII.

What happened to the princes?  Over the next 500 years, two camps emerged.  The first, the traditionalists, were firm in their belief that Richard III had ordered the murders of his nephews.  The second, the revisionists, maintained that Richard IIIs reputation had been besmirched by his successor, Henry Tudor, the first of the Tudor kings and father of Henry VIII.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
The Daughter of Time
by Josephine Tey

Josephine Tey, in her classic mystery novel The Daughter of Time, represents the best of the Revisionists artistic treatment of the story.  The pre-eminent artistic rendering of the mystery for the Traditionalists is, of course, Shakespeares Richard III.  Since Ms. Teys novel, many treatments and interpretations have been published that, if anything, deepen the mystery.


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