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The Princes In The Tower Paperback – 6 Mar 1997
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"Absorbing." (Sunday Times)
"The mystery of the Princes in the Tower is a cause of outrage as well as a whodunnit-a deeply researched appraisal." (Ruth Rendell Daily Telegraph)
"Alison Weir has examined all the contemporary and near-contemporary chronicles with care - Her book, lucidly written and well-researched, makes absorbing reading." (Christopher Hibbert Sunday Times)
The story of the death, in sinister circumstances, of the boy-king Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York, is one of the most fascinating murder mysteries in English history.See all Product description
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The impression I get reading this is that the aim was to confirm his guilt over the disappearance of the Princes. Motive is well considered as to why he might have done them harm, as part of the feud with the Wydville family and his own survival. But the evidence is too reliant on second hand sources, chiefly Sir Thomas More, who had evidence of a confession from a Knight who was allegedly involved on the night of the murders.
The problem with this is that evidence extracted under torture or threat invariably ends up being whatever the imprisoner wants it to be. Further, Richard III was not popular - he behaved as a despot and had a large number of nobles executed without trial within a very short timeframe. Once he was dead, anyone wanting to censure him could do so with impunity, and any looking to provide a counterpoint would either already be dead or unwilling to speak up. To make things even more complex, Henry VII, who eventually turned out to be no less despotic and paranoid, had a great many of the surviving gentry killed, imprisoned or effectively blackmailed during his own reign meaning that many of those who were present during the last days of the House of York never gave any testimony or account of what they saw. Effectively, the civil war and strife caused by rebellions and scheming continued well into Henry VIII's reign. It did not all end at Bosworth in 1485.
In the final reckoning, Richard probably did cause the Princes' death. In this, he was a man of his time, ruthless and brutal. His successor was equally unpleasant, but had a dynasty following him and his own crimes were carried out over many years. Richard III's deeds were all over a very short period and he died in battle, so history has been less forgiving.
So, overall not a bad narrative - but as with any consideration of history, please bear its context in mind and treat it carefully. Worth a read.
And the princes bodies are discussed in only a very brief chapter at the end. Nothing important in that respect is really said. Weir has it out for Richard III and her assumptions are not really very scientific. Although Richard III probably did murder his nephews and commit many of the other atrocities of his reign, Weir's assertions to the fact go far beyond what the historical record really indicate. It's not a great book. I would look elsewhere if you are looking to read about this interesting moment in English history.
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and you'll damage the thriving market for all those things which rely on Richard III...Read more