Henry VII and the Princes in the Tower

In 1483 Edward V and Richard, Duke of York disappeared from the Tower of London. They were the sons of the late Edward IV and his queen, Elizabeth Woodville.

Edward V was born 2 November 1470 in Westminster Abbey where his mother had taken sanctuary from the Lancastrians who had deposed his father during the Wars of the Roses. His brother, Richard was born 17 August 1473 in Shrewsbury, England when Edward IV ruled over England once again.

Shortly before his sudden death on 9 April 1483, King Edward IV named his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Lord Protector of the realm for the young Edward V, who was only 12 years old.

edward5gloucesterIt was at Ludlow Castle that young Edward was notified of his father’s death and his succession to the throne – he was to travel to London immediately in preparation for his coronation. As he traveled from Ludlow, Richard (Lord Protector) met and escorted him to lodgings in the Tower of London. Edward’s brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York joined him shortly after. Edward’s coronation was to be on 22 June 1483, but before the young king could be crowned his father’s marriage to his mother Elizabeth Woodville was declared invalid – making their children illegitimate and ineligible for the throne. This left an opening for their uncle Richard to take the throne himself.



PrincesThe last time the boys were seen in or around the grounds of the Tower of London was the summer of 1483 – they were never to be seen again.

A decade later, in January 1493, news of a resurrected Duke of York (in Ireland) had reached London. Just six years earlier another boy by the name of Lambert Simnel claimed to be the young Duke of York but turned out to be a pretender. The idea of another pretender must have seemed preposterous and fabricated at the time.

However, when the news of Perkin Warbeck arrived in England, Yorkist supporters jumped at the chance to back anyone who claimed to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York.

Henry VII took the threat of Perkin Warbeck seriously. So seriously he dispatched 200 men to Ireland. Their job was to arrest those that may be involved or cause trouble for the throne. He also sent spies to dig up the truth of the new pretender to expose him as a fraud. Any legitimate, surviving son of Edward IV would be considered a threat to Henry’s crown.

Margaret of Burgundy
Margaret of Burgundy

By end of June of the same year (1493) the danger seemed over. Nothing had happened in either Ireland or England. In Flanders, Margaret of Burgundy (aunt to the princes in the Tower) had been unable to raise funds for the army she needed to assist her nephew in taking back the throne of England for the House of York. Margaret was sister to Edward lV and insisted that Warbeck was indeed her nephew and heir to the throne of England. When Margaret continued to throw her support towards Perkin Warbeck Henry VII became angry and declared his son, Henry Tudor (future Henry VIII) as Duke of York in a magnificent ceremony. There could not be two living Dukes of York in England.

1493 was also the year Perkin Warbeck wrote a letter to Isabella of Castile looking for support while trying to convince her that he was indeed Richard. During this time period Henry VII was negotiating the marriage of his son Arthur, Prince of Wales with Katherine of Aragon – daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Resolving the issue of the pretender was of utmost importance to both parties. Ferdinand and Isabella would not want to align their daughter with a usurper.

For the next couple years Warbeck worked on a plan and tried to gain more supporters.

James_IV_King_of_Scotland
James IV of Scotland

At the beginning of 1496, James IV of Scotland had arranged and celebrated the nuptials of Warbeck and his cousin, Lady Katherine Gordon.  Surely James IV believed he was the rightful Duke of York and king of England, why else would he marry his cousin to Warbeck. Soon after the wedding Falkland Palace was used as Warbeck’s base. Together they planned to invade England in hopes of claiming the English throne as Richard IV.



In 1497, after departing Scotland, Warbeck crossed to Ireland. When he arrived he found no allies and was being pursued by the Earl of Kildare. In a country that had supported the House of York, Warbeck was sadly not welcomed, so he sailed to Devon.

“Here only a few thousand people joined him and the people of Exeter and Taunton drove him out. Warbeck fled to Beaulieu Abbey where he hoped to find sanctuary. In August 1497 he was persuaded to give himself up. As a foreigner Warbeck could not be tried for treason so would not have faced the butchery of being hung, drawn and quartered.” 

“Henry allowed Warbeck to remain at court where he could be watched. However, he foolishly tried to run away which seemed to emphasise his treachery. Warbeck was put in the stocks, humiliated and sent to the Tower. Clearly after being generous to the pretender, Henry’s patience had run out. In 1499, Warbeck was charged with trying to escape for a second time, found guilty and hanged on November 23rd 1499″.– The History Learning Site

I can only imagine how Queen Elizabeth reacted to the news. Did she believe that Warbeck was indeed her young brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York?

We don’t know for certain what happened to the princes, or the people involved in their disappearance, but those involved would have certainly been aware of the true status of the boys and react accordingly. This is why I believe Henry VII was not involved. If he knew that Richard was dead, by his hand, or his orders, he would not have sent an army or spies to investigate the pretender.

So what really happened to the boys? Were they both murdered? Did Edward V die from natural causes and his brother Richard escape? Did Elizabeth Woodville send a local boy in place of her youngest son and ship Richard off to safety?

Is the mystery of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ set to be uncovered?

Edward_IV_Plantagenet
Edward IV
Perkins Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck
Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville

The Legacy of the House of York

200px-White_Rose_Badge_of_York.svgRichard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York was the great-grandson of Edward III. He was next in line to the throne of Henry VI and often stepped in and ruled when Henry VI was incapacitated.

Things would not turn out well for Richard, Duke of York and his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland – they were killed in the Battle of Wakefield in 1460.

With the welfare of Henry VI still an issue, Richard’s eldest son Edward, Earl of March, who had inherited the title Duke of York after his father’s death, continued the fight to take the throne from Henry VI. With the help of his cousin Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (also known as The Kingmaker) they were able to defeat the Lancastrians, and in March 1461 Edward was declared King.

In May 1464 Edward secretly married the beautiful Elizabeth Woodville who was the widow of a Lancastrian soldier. This greatly upset his cousin The Kingmaker because he was working on a marriage alliance with France and his marriage to Elizabeth added nothing to the security of England. His choice of wife would cause more fighting and battles during his reign, but he would not back down for he truly loved Elizabeth.

From History Today – read full article here.

The story of Edward IV’s marriage is that in 1464 the twenty-four-year-old king stopped at Stony Stratford on a march north to counter Lancastrian threats. Very early on May Day he slipped away to the manor of Grafton, five miles away and there in secrecy married Elizabeth Grey, née Woodville, the beautiful but impoverished widow of a knight killed fighting against the Yorkists three years earlier. Edward consummated the marriage immediately and then returned to his entourage. Then, before continuing northwards, he took up residence at Grafton for three days during which time Elizabeth was brought to him secretly each night. Edward kept his horrendous mésalliance secret for five months, allowing the Earl of Warwick to continue discussions about a possible royal bride from France. – See more at: http://www.historytoday.com/eric-ives/marrying-love-experience-edward-iv-and-henry-viii#sthash.ciQFIbGI.dpuf

Edward and Elizabeth would have many children. When he died in 1483, his eldest son would become Edward V of England. His Uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester would become Lord Protector over young Edward until he became of age to reign on his own. Edward was brought to the Tower of London to prepare for his coronation.  Instead, Richard held him in the Tower of London along with his brother, Richard, Duke of York and took the throne for himself after claiming Edward and Elizabeth’s marriage null since Edward was already betrothed to another before marrying Elizabeth.

On 22 August 1485 Richard lll died in the Battle of Bosworth. Henry Tudor claimed the throne of England as Henry VII and eventually married Elizabeth of York – daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. The legacy of Richard Plantagenet, and the House of York were carried on through her children with the Lancastrian, Henry VII.

Patriarch - Richard, 3rd Duke of York
Patriarch – Richard, 3rd Duke of York
Matriarch - Cecily Neville, Duchess of York
Matriarch – Cecily Neville, Duchess of York

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter
Anne, Duchess of Exeter
Edward_IV_Plantagenet
Edward IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edmund, Earl of Rutland
Edmund, Earl of Rutland
Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk
Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy
Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy
George, Duke of Clarence
George, Duke of Clarence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

o-RICHARD-III-SKELETON-facebook
Richard III

Edward lV – via Royal Family History

Edward lV signature
Edward lV signature

Name: King Edward IV
Born: April 28, 1442 at Rouen, France
Parents: Richard, Duke of York, and Cecily Neville
Relation to Elizabeth II: 14th great-grandfather
House of: York
Ascended to the throne: March 4, 1461 aged 18 years
Crowned: June 28, 1461 at Westminster Abbey
Married: Elizabeth, Daughter of Richard Woodville
Children: Three sons including Edward V and Richard Duke of York (the Princes in the Tower), Seven daughters and four illegitimate children
Died: April 9, 1483 at Westminster Abbey, aged 40 years, 11 months, and 11 days
Buried at: Windsor
Reigned for: 21 years, 5 months, and 18 days, Deposed October 3, 1470, Restored May 21, 1471
Succeeded by: his son Edward V

Timeline for King Edward IV
 1461  Edward, son of Richard of York, is declared king by the Earl of Warwick following the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Towton.
 1464  Warwick defeats Lancastrians at Battle of Hexham; Henry VI is captured and brought to the Tower of London.
 1464  Edward marries Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of a commoner, offending Warwick.
 1469  Warwick falls out with Edward IV, and defeats him at Edgecote. They are later reconciled but Warwick is banished. He makes peace with Margaret, returns to England with an army, and Edward flees to Flanders. Henry VI is restored to the throne.
 1471  Edward returns to England from Flanders and defeats and kills Warwick at the Battle of Barnet.
 1471  Margaret is defeated at the Battle of Tewkesbury and the Lancastrian heir, Prince Edward, is killed. Soon after, Henry VI is murdered in the Tower of London.
 1474  Edward grants privileges to the Hanseatic League of North German trading cities to conduct trade in England.
 1476  William Caxton sets up a printing press in Westminster, London
 1478  Edward falls out with his brother George, Duke of Clarence, who is then murdered in the Tower, supposedly in a butt of malmsey wine.
 1483  Death of Edward.
Edward V
Edward V
Richard, Duke of York
Richard, Duke of York
Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York