Book Review: “The Survival of the Princes in the Tower” by Matthew Lewis

Jane Seymour (3)

Shared & Written by Heidi Malagisi of Adventures of a Tudor Nerd

35888548One of the greatest mysteries of all time is what happened to the young princes, the sons of Edward IV, who were held in the Tower of London. Many people believed that they were killed. There are some who believe that Richard III had them murdered and there are some who say that Henry VII ordered the deed to be done. But what if they were never killed? What if they survived? That is the premise of Matthew Lewis’s book “The Survival of the Princes in the Tower: Murder, Mystery and Myth”.

I have always been one of those people who believed that the princes were indeed murdered and that the one who ordered their murders was Richard III. I have read the “sources” and I came to my own conclusions. A few months ago, I attended the Tudor Summit (for those of you who do not know what this, look it up it is a fantastic two- day summit with fellow Tudor nerds) and one of the speakers was Matthew Lewis. Normally I don’t pay attention to the Ricardian side of this debate, but his talk made me interested, so I decided to read his book.

I am really glad I decided to read this book. It gave me something new to think about when it comes to this mystery and it did it in such a constructive way that made sense. Lewis starts his book by exploring the facts and the different sources that made the case that the princes were murdered, and then he looks at why these sources have been misinterpreted and don’t tell the whole story. For example, the fact that More said that Edward IV died in his fifties when in fact he died when he was in his forties, which is a big age gap.  Lewis asks rather obvious questions about the anti- Ricardian argument like why did Elizabeth Woodville turn over to her sons if she believed that Richard III was truly evil. It was by going through these sources and these obvious questions that started to create a lot of doubt in my mind whether or not the side I was on in this debate was accurate.

Lewis then dives into the lives of those we call the “pretenders”, Lambert Simnel and image015Perkin Warbeck. These were the most famous pretenders and the ones who challenged Henry VII’s right to the throne. If they were really the princes in the tower, why were they defeated? Why were they considered pretenders? Lewis explores other people who could possibly be the princes, including a theory by amateur art historian Jack Leslau on “The Family of Sir Thomas More” by Hans Holbein the Younger.

The theory that Matthew Lewis presents in this book is very unique. In order to understand what he is trying to do, you have to be open to a different perspective on this quagmire of a topic: the princes in the tower. There are certain books that come along and totally shake what you believe in, but you should not be afraid to read these kinds of books. I did not know what to expect when I started this book, but Lewis presented an argument that made sense and made me question everything I thought I knew about this mystery. Now I want to reread the sources and try to understand them better. I would recommend this book for anyone who thinks Richard III is innocent, guilty, or you are unsure of your position in this debate. “The Survival of the Princes in the Tower: Murder, Mystery and Myth” by Matthew Lewis breathes new life into this debate and begs the question: what if the princes in the tower lived?

BUY THIS BOOK

Amazon – US

Amazon – UK

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The Enigmatic Elizabeth Woodville (Guest Post)

The Enigmatic Elizabeth Woodville

By Samantha Wilcoxson for Tudors Dynasty

What did Elizabeth know? We love to use the actions of Elizabeth Woodville to support any argument regarding the events of 1483, assuming that she had greater knowledge than we possess and that her actions would be the same as ours in light of it. She went into sanctuary because she knew Richard was a ruthless killer….she left because she knew he was not. She betrothed her daughter to Henry Tudor because she knew her own sons were dead….she supported rebels at Stoke because she knew at least one of them was alive. What did Elizabeth really know?

How I wish that we could ask her! When I decided to write about Elizabeth Woodville in Once a Queen, I decided to explore her predicament through the assumption that she did not know any more than I do over 500 years later. What would it be like to make the decisions that Elizabeth had to make regarding her own life and her children’s futures without the benefit of all the answers that we like to assume she had. What mental anguish would it cause to decide who your eldest daughter should marry if you are uncertain whether or not her brother, who should be king, is even alive?

Did she believe that her sons were dead? If she did, who did she believe killed them? Instead of writing a story filled with anger and vengeance, I decided to explore the anxiety of the unknown. In Once a Queen, Elizabeth has no idea what is true or who she can trust. Yet, time will not stand still for her to discover the answers. The woman who so often comes across as scheming and unsympathetic is suddenly a tragic figure, struggling to secure a future for her remaining children.

We may not be able to surmise the answers to any mysteries by analyzing the actions of Elizabeth Woodville, but we can appreciate her story and her position in history. Sharing the feelings and emotions of those living through historic times has the power to impact us more than knowing all the right answers. That being said, if anyone ever discovers the secret diary of Elizabeth Woodville, I will be among the first to read it!

Click to go to Amazon.com

About the Author

Samantha Wilcoxson is an American writer with British roots. When she is not reading or travelling, she enjoys spending time at the lake with her husband and three teenagers.

The Plantagenet Embers series debuted with ‘Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York’. It has been selected as an Editors’ Choice by the Historical Novel Society and long-listed for the 2016 HNS Indie Award.

‘Faithful Traitor: The Story of Margaret Pole’ is the second novel in the trilogy, continuing the story of the Plantagenet remnant in Tudor times. This novel has received 5-stars from Readers’ Favorite and a Discovering Diamond award.

The recently released final installment in Plantagenet Embers, Queen of Martyrs, features Queen Mary I and her story of the counter-reformation in England.


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Arthur: The Man Who Would Be King

Arthur- The Man Who Would Be King

Parents of Arthur

When we examine the date of marriage for Henry and Elizabeth of York, along with the birth of their first child, it’s evident that Arthur was either premature one month, or Henry and Elizabeth consummated their relationship prior to marriage. While looking through my own family history I have discovered how common it was for the wife to be pregnant prior to marriage but not to announce the pregnancy until some time after the marriage. Let’s be honest, it was 1486, a premature birth was very dangerous, and could explain Arthur’s poor health throughout his life.

It was common for royals to marry for political reasons and not for love. Such was the case with the king and queen, however, they grew to sharea great affection for one another and became great friends. There is no evidence of Henry taking any mistresses, and that alone speaks volumes.

Prince of Wales

Arthur was the pride of his parents, and of England. How fortunate for their first child to be a prince, and heir to the throne. King Henry had a fascination with the legendary King Arthur of Camelot and even believed he had a genealogical connection with him — the reason he named his first son Arthur. Henry, so confident that his wife was pregnant with his heir, sent her to Winchester to give birth. At the time it was believed that Winchester was built on the ancient ruins of Camelot. Winchester was where Elizabeth was to give birth to their son, and heir.John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby (step-father to Henry VII), William FitzAlan, 16th Earl of Arundel, Queen Elizabeth Woodville (mother of the Queen) and Cecily of York (sister to the Queen) served as godparents to the prince.

Betrothal

By the age of three there were discussions on who Arthur should wed. The decision was a political one. It wasn’t until the Prince of Wales was eleven that he was betrothed to the Infanta, Katherine of Aragon. Katherine was the daughter of the powerful Catholic monarchs, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. The betrothal was aneffort to forge an alliance with Spain against France.

Michel_Sittow_002
Katherine of Aragon

When Perkin Warbeck came into the picture, it hindered the alliance because of the uncertainty surrounding the throne of England. If Warbeck was indeed the son of Edward IV, then the right to the throne of England was his for the taking. Warbeck wrote a letter to Isabella I of Castile to convince her of his lineage, but he was not convincing enough — she did not believe him. It wasn’t until Henry VII had Warbeck executed that plans for the wedding progressed. Young Katherine of Aragon could finally leave Spain and sail to England to prepare for her wedding.

The wedding came to fruition on14 November 1501, when Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Katherine of Aragon were wed at Old St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Following the wedding the happy couple were sent to live at Ludlow Castle where Arthur was to perform his duties as Prince of Wales. However, after only five months of marriage, on2 April 1502, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, died of an unknown illness. Arthur would never be king.

Death of the Future King

The heir of England was now dead and his parents and the kingdom were devastated. Henry and Elizabeth took the death of their son gravely. An account of what happened:

“When his Grace [Henry VII] understood that sorrowful heavy tydings, he sent for the Queene [Elizabeth of York], saying that he and his Queene would take the painful sorrows together. After that she was come and saw the Kyng her Lord, and that naturall and paineful sorrowe, as I have heard saye, she with full great and constant comfortable words besought his Grace that he would first after God remember the weale of his own noble person, the comfort of his realme and of her. She then saied that my Lady his mother had never no more children but him only, and that God by his Grace had ever preserved him, and brought him where he was. Over that, howe that God had left him yet a fayre Prince, two fayre Princesses and that God is where he was, and we are both young ynoughe.”

“.Then his Grace of true gentle and faithful love, in good hast came and relieved her, and showed her howe wise counsell she had given him before, and he for his parte would thanke God for his sonn, and would she should doe in like wise.”

“With great funeral obsequies he was buried in the cathedral church of Worcester. After his death the name of prince belonged to his brother the duke of York, since his brother died without his issue, and so without being thus created he ought to be called, unless some apparent cause was a let or obstacle to it. But the duke, suspecting that his brothers wife was with child, as was thought possible by the expert and wise men of the princes council, was by a month or more delayed from his title, name and pre-eminence, in which time the truth might easily appear to women.”

We often consider the ‘what-ifs’ had Arthur lived, had he and Katherine of Aragon had children and built their own dynasty. While that’s completely normal and human of us to do, I cannot imagine a world now without the stories of his infamous brother and his many wives. I fear the Tudor Dynasty would not have the attraction of the masses it does now.

Statement Source:

Hanson, Marilee. “The Death Of Prince Arthur, Prince Of Wales, 1502” http://englishhistory.net/tudor/the-death-of-prince-arthur/, February 9, 2015

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Letter from Perkin Warbeck

Perkins Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck

Translated from Latin.

[To Isabella of Castile, 1493: (British Library MS Egerton 616), as quoted by I. Arthurson in The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy, P. 49-50]

“I myself, then nearly nine years of age, was also delivered to a certain Lord to be killed, [but] it pleased Divine Clemency, that lord, having compassion on my innocence, preserved me alive in safety: first, however, causing me to swear on the holy sacrament that to no one should I disclose my name, origin, or family, until a certain number of years had passed. He then sent me therefore abroad, with two persons, who should watch over and take charge of me; and thus I, an orphan, bereaved of my royal father and brother, an exile from my kingdom, and deprived of my country, inheritance and fortune, a fugitive in the midst of extreme perils, led my miserable life, in fear, and weeping, and grief, and for the space of nearly eight years lay hid…scarcely had I emerged from childhood alone and without means, I remained for a time in the kingdom of Portugal, and thence sailed to Ireland, where being recognised by illustrious lords, the earl of Desmond and Kildare, my cousins, as also by other noblemen of the island, I was received with great joy and honour. -Richard”

Richard, Duke of York
Richard, Duke of York
Perkins Warbeck
Perkins Warbeck

 

The Shadow of the Tower: Episodes 1 – 3

If you haven’t had a chance to check out “The Shadow of the Tower” series yet, now is your chance. I’ve shared the first three episodes below. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!