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The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir
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The Princes in the Tower

by Alison Weir

Other authors: Ruth Rendell (Foreword)

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1,590376,723 (3.55)64
  1. 30
    Royal Blood: King Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes by Bertram Fields (Scotland)
    Scotland: Fields work is largely a discertation against Weir's book. I will leave it up to the readers on who interprets history more accurately.
  2. 10
    Edwin: High King of Britain by Edoardo Albert (LiteraryReadaholic)
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» See also 64 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Blames Richard III for the murder in a way that appears to balance the evidence but does not. does not ( )
  mumoftheanimals | May 10, 2018 |
Alison Weir writes an engaging account of the end of the War of the Roses and the last of the Yorkist kings, addressing the two big questions:


* What happened to young Edward V and his brother the Duke of York, and


* Were the bodies discovered during construction at the Tower in 1674 and reexamined in 1933 theirs?


Although Ms. Weir considers a surprising variety of alternatives, her answers are the historically accepted ones: (1) They were murdered on orders from their uncle, Richard III, and (2) Yes.


Perhaps the first three-quarters of the book are an analysis of the military and political situation. Although written with Weir’s usual facility, the really interesting part comes with the discussion of the young princes. I hadn’t realized there were so many theories: they died natural deaths; they were still in the Tower after Bosworth Field and were murdered by Henry VII; one or both escaped and appeared later as Lambert Simnel or Perkin Warbeck; and one or both escaped from the tower and lived incognito in Tudor England.


As Weir points out, since there was no CSI: Late Medieval London, Richard III could never be convicted of anything in a modern court. Nevertheless, he had opportunity, means, and motive. His modern supporters generally use contemporary accounts stating that Richard was a good king as evidence against his culpability; however, it’s perfectly possible to be a good king and a despicable human being, and that seems the case with Richard III. Ambassadors and other foreign residents in England, with nothing to lose or gain, generally believed that Richard III killed his nephews; everybody, even his fans, agrees that Richard III eliminated anyone who blocked path to the throne, including his former supporter Hastings (summarily executed in the middle of a council meeting); and there’s no report of the princes being seen alive after August 1483. (Based on the movements of the various parties, Weir thinks they were murdered on the night of September 3).

For the argument that Henry VII was the murderer - certainly Henry VII’s claim to the throne was based on the rickety foundation that his grandmother, Katherine of Valois, widow of Henry V, may or may not have married her wardrobe master Owen Tudor before having a child by him leading to Henry VII’s paternal line, and that his great-great grandfather, John of Gaunt, may or may not have married his mistress Katherine Swynford before she originated his maternal ancestors, the Beauforts. Henry would, therefore, have been discomfited to find the princes still alive in the Tower after Bosworth. Since there’s no physical evidence, Weir has to base her argument on logic, and it’s pretty sound. If the princes were still alive, Richard III had a great deal of incentive to produce them; his claim to the throne was not based on the argument that Edward V was dead but that he was illegitimate, and showing him would have diffused a lot of the hostility toward Richard (although it may have led to complications later, Richard presumably would have been able to deal with those).


The argument that the 1674 bodies were the princes is more tenuous but still plausible. Although there are likely to be a lot of bodies buried here and there around the Tower, these two skeletons were at the base of a stairway, right where legend said they should be; both the 1674 and 1933 examinations suggested they were about the right age; the workman who found them in 1674 said there were scraps of velvet on the bodies (a rare and princely material in 1483); and a 1964 disinterment of their cousin Anne Mowbray showed facial similarities to the skulls described in 1933. A reopening of the urn in Westminster Abbey and examination of the remains with modern technology might or might not settle things, but the Deans of the abbey have so far refused to apply to the Queen for the necessary permission.


As usual for Ms, Weir, fascinating history. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 28, 2017 |
(7/10) "... only one man could have been responsible for their deaths: Richard III."

If you are expecting an unbiased account of the disappearance of Edward V and his brother then this is not the book for you. Weir makes her point abundantly clear throughout and presents a very wide range of evidence to back up her conclusions. At times I did feel we wandered off topic a little into a general recounting of major events of the period, not something I really want to criticise as I love history and found the diversions very educational.

As a history nerd I really enjoyed this book, it's about a new topic for me and I feel I should read some of the revisionist arguments before drawing my own conclusions as to whether Richard murdered his nephews or not. Regardless, I found this book really interesting, well researched and most importantly engaging, there really is nothing worse than a history book that sends you to sleep! ( )
  LiteraryReadaholic | Mar 8, 2017 |
** spoiler alert ** Giving this one a go despite Weir not being a favourite author of mine.

So, I've finally finished this one. If I was hoping for something at least semi-objective, I was mistaken. From the outset Weir lets you know firmly which camp her tent is pitched in - and the book then follows this course.

What I find disconcerting is all her arguments against Richard III could equally be applied to Henry VII - however I personally don't believe that she achieved this. Weir sets out from the start with the aim of proving Richard's guilt without, I think, examining more the role of the other protagonists.

Her arguments are based mainly on the works of Thomas More, whose work she freely admits contains much detail, though is erroneous when it comes to dates and names, and contains many eloquent speeches. His work, she argues, must be believed because it was never intended for publication and as such is objective in its aim. We are also told to believe in Tyrrell's confession because Henry VII made no use of it (Tyrrell was in the service of both Richard III and Henry VII). And we are to believe in Richard's guilt due to his silence on the fate of the princes - something of which Henry VII himself was also guilty of (silence, that is).

The chapter on the scientific / forensic evidence is a mere four pages - it rests solely on the evidence of bones (belonging to children) and a piece of velvet (claimed only worn by the highest nobility). Ergo juvenile bones and a scrap of rag equal incontrovertible proof.

I was not expecting much - as I mentioned Weir is not my favourite author - and this really maintains my belief. A more evenhanded approach would have been nice - but who am I kidding.

Oh, and for all those Edward II buffs - page 165 - para 2 - line 13 (she should really proof read her work - especially in relation to theories she has espoused in this area in the past!). ( )
  Melisende | Mar 2, 2017 |
Weir sets out to review all the available evidence on the fate of the two Yorkist prices (Edward V and his brother, Richard) who went into the Tower of London during the rule of their uncle, Richard III, and were never seen again. Weir is staunchly in the "Richard did it" camp and deftly brings together centuries of documentation, interpretation, and research to bolster her claim. She also brings in some pretty sharp (and sometimes smirky) counter-arguments to those in the "Richard is innocent" camp (a centuries-long tradition). I liked that she didn't go 100% Shakespeare and claim that Richard was evil or necessarily more scheming than anyone else -- she puts his decisions and actions in a context that makes a lot of sense for the man and his times. This is a readable and straightforward book about a key moment in British royal history that led to the end of the Yorks and the the rise of the Tudors. Definitely recommended.

[full review here: http://spacebeer.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-princes-in-tower-by-alison-weir-1992.h... ] ( )
  kristykay22 | Nov 13, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alison Weirprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rendell, RuthForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Modern writers on the subject of the Princes in the Tower have tended to fall into two categories: those who believe Richard III guilty of the murder of the Princes but are afraid to commit themselves to any confident conclusions, and those who would like to see Richard more or less canonised.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345391780, Paperback)

Despite five centuries of investigation by historians, the sinister deaths of the boy king Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York, remain two of the most fascinating murder mysteries in English history. Did Richard III really kill “the Princes in the Tower,” as is commonly believed, or was the murderer someone else entirely? Carefully examining every shred of contemporary evidence as well as dozens of modern accounts, Alison Weir reconstructs the entire chain of events leading to the double murder. We are witnesses to the rivalry, ambition, intrigue, and struggle for power that culminated in the imprisonment of the princes and the hushed-up murders that secured Richard’s claim to the throne as Richard III. A masterpiece of historical research and a riveting story of conspiracy and deception, The Princes in the Tower at last provides a solution to this age-old puzzle.

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Offers a solution to the centuries-old mystery of the fate of the boy king Edward V and his younger brother, who were believed killed by their uncle, Richard III.

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