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March 22, 2015 / consort3

Mystery of the Princes in the Tower

With the reburial of Richard III today, Ch4 decided to do a documentary on the above. I was unaware of the background so the programme was a good introduction to me. The English throne at the time was as secure as a Football manager’s job. There were so many claimants to the throne, that the ethos was kill or be killed. They did not make it clear to me that Buckingham was a claimant.
My first take on this was that Buckingham was initially on Richard’s side but his own ambitions led him to do the deed. Then when Richard found out that he had done them in, Buckingham changed sides. However Buckinghams changing sides is another mystery and may be the key to understanding what happened.

Starkey’s point that the presence of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth, the sister of the missing Princes, at James Tyrrell’s trial for treason meant “something was going on” does not implicate Richard in my view.

What if the princes survived and became Lambert Simnel and Perkin  Warbeck? Occams razor leads one to that conclusion.
A few minutes on Wikipedia led to the following. Edward IV had 3 courtesans the merriest, the wiliest and the holiest, of which the latter was the one mentioned in an act, Titulus Regius, which debarred the prince (future Edward V) from the throne and ‘legally’ allowed Richard to be King Richard III.
Incredibly George Buck’s History of Richard III finished in 1619 was only properly published in 1979, the Kincaid edition. Buck was a Master of the Revels in Shakespeare’s time. Talking of Shakespeare the famous line “Off with his head. So much for Buckingham ” was not penned by the Bard, but by Colley Cibber in a Restoration re-write which held the stage until the 1870’s and some lines were in Olivier’s film. Is it time for a re-run of Cibbers version?

The Shakespeare version is so early in the canon that I am guessing it could have been a vehicle for Edward Alleyn rather than Richard Burbage. The real Richard III was surely better than the evil creature portrayed in the play. The Tudors needed the ‘spin’ or propaganda to legitimise their own dodgy antecedents. Incorporating elements of the old morality plays, Vice and Misrule, I think Shakespeare accidentally found the interior or self, developed later in Hamlet.

I have been intrigued by all this and have become a Ricardian!

New attempts to solve the mystery

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