For the first time since their disappearance from the Tower of London in 1483, new groundbreaking evidence for the Princes in the Tower’s survival into the reign of Henry Tudor is more compelling than the evidence against.
The recent documentary aired on Channel4 laid out the bones for an alternative narrative surrounding the 540 year old mystery of the disappearance of Edward V and Richard Duke of York – the Princes in the Tower.
The traditional view that Richard III murdered his young nephews has long held sway in the public imagination and persisted among some academic circles; but this has been challenged by a number of historians and many of those who believe that the princes survived their uncle’s reign. Until now, however, a lack of firm evidence had such views dismissed as far-fetched or wishful thinking.
Now, after extensive research in Continental archives by a team of researchers led by Philippa Langley, and with the knowledgable contribution of historian and Chair of the Richard III Society – Matthew Lewis – grains of truth finally grind the clumsy cogs of Tudor myth as new documentary evidence surfaces to throw light on this age old enigma. Even so, plenty of individuals will no doubt deny the plausibility of the latest findings that has set received history on its head.
It stretches credibility beyond breaking point to believe that four different sources from various geographic locations and events, surviving in disparate archives today and relating to the same missing individuals and more closely contemporary to them than any hitherto, could possibly all be forgeries or about conveniently invented imposters. No. They are authentic accidental survivals of seeming inconsequence when seen alone, but vice-like when set together around their own close events.
The authenticity is redoubled by the inconvenience of their consequences, not just for the previously accepted Tudor account, but for the Plantagenet one too. Richard III is no longer the princes’ killer, but his protection of them adds new ambiguity. Was it his hope that his sister – Margaret, Dowager Duchess of Burgundy – would hide and protect them for an (as yet) unclear future purpose?
It is hoped that many more incidental documents that, until now have resided in Continental archives, will illuminate the motives behind the boys’ disappearance. Time will reveal all.