Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Princes in the Tower


Chapter Notes:

Prologue:  For an overview of the War of the Roses, consult the book by A.L. Rowse (9).  There are numerous biographies of Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VII in print.  I have consulted in detail those in the bibliography, and examined a number of others that have sections about these three kings and their predecessors.  If the reader wishes to understand the passions of the traditionalists and the revisionists, the two artistic works, Josephine Teys novel (12), and William Shakespeares play (11) should be read; they are both immensely entertaining.  Most novels that deal with Richard III are not worth the trouble, and I must admit that those I sampled were unreadable.

Sir Thomas Mores History of Richard III requires a great deal of effort.  Ones time is better spent reading one of the biographies of More (such as 6) for this information, or excerpts from his history that are quoted in biographies of Richard and the Princes.

The Richard the Third Society (the Ricardians) has a web site that is prolific in its postings and enthusiastic in its efforts to rehabilitate his reputation.  Many of the articles on it are interesting and often persuasive.

While the genealogical charts of the Yorks and Lancasters are difficult to interpret, they are necessary to figure out who the players are.  I have not included one, but I recommend that the reader refer to one of the charts that appear in various works (such as 7, 13, and 14).  Basically, all of the pedigrees begin with Edward III and his five sons.  The Lancastrians are derived from the third son (John of Gaunt) and the Yorks from the fourth son  (Edmund, duke of York).

A Discovery in the Tower:  This chapter is based on the description of the discovery of the bones as presented by Weir (13).  The roles of Charles III and the Royal Surgeon are true, and the facts of the discovery (location, disposition of the bones, their reburial) are, as far as I can determine from Weirs book and other accounts, accurate.

An Inquest:  The work of Tanner and Wright appears in several books.  This imagined description of their examination of the bones in 1933 is based on the presentations of Jenkins, Pollard, Weir, and Williamson (4, 7, 13, 14).  I have not examined their original paper, published in 1934, since I could not find it in American libraries.  Such items as the presence of animal bones in the Christopher Wren urn, the measurements, the determination of osteomyelitis and hypodontia, and the stain on the skull of the older skeleton are all true.

A number of articles have been published by the Richard the third Society that dispute the findings of Tanner and Wright, and Fields (3) and Williamsons (14) books have arguments against the Tanner and Wright conclusions.

Shakespeare at Work:  Since Shakespeares play presents the image of Richard that most people have, I thought that it might be interesting to speculate how he might have envisioned his production of it.  No records exist, of course, of how Shakespeare and his principal actor, Richard Burbage, approached the first production of Richard III, so we have only the text of the play to go on.  The date given for the writing of the play is the one generally agreed upon by Shakespearean scholars.  The introduction to most editions of the play confirm the date, and the contention that Shakespeare used Holinsheds History is usually mentioned.  I have used the edition of Shakespeares plays published by the Folio Society (11), but any edition of the play is satisfactory, since it is not a play whose text is in dispute.

Edward IV:  The primary source for this section comes from the book by Falkus (2), although biographies of Richard III contain extensive biographical information about Edward IV, and supplement Falkuss treatment.

Richard III:  Again, the bibliography contains a number of books about Richard.  As one would expect, those that deal with The Two Princes in the Tower provide a great deal of information about Richard, and this chapter contains material obtained from them, as well as the standard biographies.  Some are revisionist (3, 5, 14) and some traditionalist (7, 8, 13).  I have tried to be fair, and I have examined both types of biographies with, I hope, an open mind.

Recent productions of Shakespeares play demonstrate how Richard is portrayed.  A famous production with Antony Sher is of particular note, since he has written a very fine account of his approach to the play in a memoir entitled The Year of the King.  I mentioned the current English production starring Kenneth Branagh because of his grotesque approach to Richards supposed infirmities.  Videos of the play starring, respectively, Laurence Olivier and Ian McKlellan are wonderful ways to experience Shakespeares version of Richard III.

Henry VII:  This section is based primarily on the admiring biography by Simon (10).  Again, books about Richard III also discuss Henry VII, and I have used material from these.  If the books are traditionalist, Henry comes off quite well; if revisionist, he is painted as black a villain as Richard is to the traditionalist.

Events leading up to the murders:  This chapter is basically an account of Richards usurpation of the crown.  The information in it is taken mainly from Cheethams biography (particularly Chapter 4) and similar sections in Pollard, rowse, and Weir.

The Plot and the three versions of the murders:  All accounts of the murders are based, ultimately, on Thomas Mores history.  The quotation from More is taken from Pollard, page 115.  The second and third versions of the murders come from Williamson and Fields.

Summing Up:  Pollard presents the best arguments for the conclusion reached in this section, that is, that Richard probably ordered the murders of his nephews.  Weir also argues for this viewpoint, although her arguments are vigorously refuted point-by-point by Fields.


A. Literature Cited  

The Richard the Third Society website:

1.  Cheetham, Anthony.  1972.  The Life and Times of Richard III.  Book Club Associates

2.  Falkus, Gila.  1981.  The Life and Times of Edward IV.  Book Club Associates

3.  Fields, Bertram.  1998.  Royal Blood.  Regan Books

4.  Jenkins, Elizabeth.  1978.  The Princes in the Tower.  Hamish Hamilton

5.  Kendall, Paul Murray.  1955.  Richard the Third.  Allen & Unwin

6.  Marius, Richard.  1984.  Thomas More.  Dent

7.  Pollard, A.J.  1991.  Richard III and the Princes in the Tower.  Allen Sutton

8.  Ross, Charles.  1981.  Richard III.  Eyre Methuen

9.  Rowse, A.L.  1966.  Bosworth Field and the War of the Roses.  Macmillan

10. Simon, Eric N.  1968.  Henry VII.  Frederick Muller

11. Shakespeare, William.  1985.  Histories.  The Folio Society

12. Tey, Josephine.  1952.  The Daughter of Time.  Macmillan

13. Wier, Alison.  1992.  The Princes in the Tower.  Ballantine Books

14. Williamson, Audrey.  1978.  The Mystery of the Princes.  Alan Sutton

B.  General Sources

15. Hudson, M.E. and Mary Clark.  1978.  Crown of a Thousand Years.  Crown

16. Morgan, Kenneth O.  1984.  The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain.  Book Club Associates

C.  The Richard III Society Online Library  

17. Maurer, Helen.  2000.  Whodunnit: The Suspects in the Case

18. Michalove, Sharon D.  1995.  The Reinvention of Richard III

19. Murph, Roxane C.  1998.  Ricardian Fiction: Trash and Treasures

20. Wigram, Isolde.  1995.  Were the Princes in the Tower Murdered?

D.  Primary Sources for the Serious Scholar

21, Buck, Sir George.  History of the Life and Reign of Richard III  (edited by A.N. Kincaid) Alan Sutton, 1979

22. Chronicles of London (edited by C. L. Kingsford) Oxford, 1905

23. The Croyland Chronicle Continuation, 1459-1486 (edited by N. Pronay and J. Cox)    Oxford, 1986

24. Fabyan, Robert.  The Concordance of Histories: The New Chronicles of England and France, 1516 (edited by H. Ellis) 1812

25. Hall, Edward.  The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancaster and York, 1550 (edited by H. Ellis, 1809) facsimile, 1970

26. Holinshed, Raphael.  Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (edited by H. Ellis, 1807-1808) facsimile, 1970

27. Mancini, Dominic.  De Occupatione Regni Anglie per Riccardum Tercium (translated  and edited by C.A.J. Armstrong) Oxford, 1969

28. More, Sir Thomas.  The History of King Richard the Third (edited by R.S. Sylvester and others) Yale, 1963

29. Rous, John.  The Rous Roll (edited by C.R. Ross and W. Courthope) Alan Sutton, 1980