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The Survival of the Princes in the Tower: Murder, Mystery and Myth Kindle Edition
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Lewis takes what most people think we know about 'the princes in the Tower' and really bears down on how it is that we think we know it. In truth, there is very little concrete reason to feel certain that the princes died in the Tower - but plenty of incentives for Henry VII, whose grasp on power was fairly fragile during the early years of his reign in particular, to argue that these two potential rival claimants were well and truly dead.
The central image Lewis uses for the 'princes in the Tower' is that of a black hole. Like a black hole, they are in themselves invisible (or nearly so) in the historical record, but it's possible that we can learn a great deal from the motion of other bodies acting with respect to them. So it is that some well-documented events make more sense if one assumes, not that the princes died soon after their uncle's accession to the throne as Richard III, but rather, that they survived, perhaps in hiding, and also that Henry VII and those around him were aware of this. Lewis works through the Lambert Simnel crisis, the Perkin Warbeck crisis, and indeed follows the story on into the reign of Henry VIII, in a way that suggests that the Wars of the Roses didn't end in 1485, but perhaps a whole generation later.
Not all the arguments are equally persuasive, of course, but they are always interesting, and in aggregate they certainly are enough to raise doubts about the conventional version of the story.
The only downside of this book is that the author could have done with better editorial support. Although there's an index and a bibliography, footnotes would have helped those who enjoy following up some of these points themselves. There are also some typos of the kind that get past a spell-check programme, but not a proper old-fashioned proof-reader. There are points where a little less repetition might also have streamlined Lewis' argument. But the book still merits five stars, because it brings some genuinely new thinking to a very well-trodden subject area. It has certainly changed the way I look at the reign of Henry VII, and in history, shaking up received ideas by going back to the primary sources is often a thoroughly good thing.
but went to great pains to cover it up, due to the precariousness of his position, hence the blackening of Richard's name. I am also now thinking about Thomas More's defamatory account of Richard's alleged murder of the Princes, as rather than a condemnation, it is more of a cover up, to protect the boys. Was this under Henry's direction? More may have had second thoughts about publishing such an account which would lay the blame on an innocent, chivalrous and just king. I was also intrigued at the clues Matthew Lewis described in Holbein's paintings, which are extraordinary. Another fascinating idea concerns the relationship of Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, whose warring families (York/Lancaster) were perhaps the basis for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet! Do read this book. It is written in a very easy readable style with so much to take in but leaves the reader convinced that the Princes survived Richard III's reign and possibly even that of Henry VII.
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