The Insider! Lost Royals!
The Princes in the Tower!
Montagues vs. Capulets! Hatfields vs. McCoys! These family feuds are notorious and yet neither can rival the House of Lancaster vs. the House of York, whose battle for the throne of England became known as The War of the Roses. The smallest victims of this war were twelve-year old Edward V, heir to the British throne, and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York. In 1483, they entered the Tower of London and were never seen again. The disappearance of "'The Princes in the Tower" enabled their uncle, Richard of Gloucester, to become king of England and prime suspect in their murders.
In 1471 Edward V's father, the Yorkist King Edward IV, was restored to the throne. His ascendance did not last long. On April 9, 1483, while at Ludlow Castle in Wales, Edward received news of his father's sudden death. At the tender age of 12, Edward had become the King of England. His uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who was to serve as Edward's Protector, intercepted the entourage on its return from Wales, escorted the two princes to London, and banished them to the infamous Tower. Less than three months later, Richard crowned himself King Richard III.
As early as the summer of 1483, rumors began to circulate that Richard III had murdered the princes. Other candidates for the murders include the Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who had access to the Tower as Constable of England, and Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian who became King Henry VII after Richard III was slain in the 1485 Battle of Bosworth. (His marriage to Elizabeth of York combined the warring factions and effectively put an end to succession arguments and The War of the Roses.) Unfortunately, no evidence was found either of their murder or their survival. Their disappearance remained shrouded in mystery.
In 1495 a pretender named Perkin Warbeck came forward claiming to be Prince Richard of York. With the support of the various European monarchs, including Charles VIII of France, Margaret of Burgundy, Maximillian I of the Holy Roman Empire, and James IV of Scotland, Warbeck attempted to invade England three times. In October 1497, he was captured and was executed two years later for treason.
In 1674 workmen at the Tower of London dug up a box containing two human skeletons. After first throwing them away, they recovered the bones, believing they may belong to the two princes, and placed them into an urn that Charles II of England had ordered interred in Westminster Abbey. In 1933 these bones were exhumed and examined. One skeleton was larger than the other, and many of the bones were missing, including part of the smaller jawbone and all of the teeth from the larger one. Experts could not agree on what age the children would have been when they died or even whether they were boys or girls. Many historians believe that the boys were killed. Like the princes themselves, the true killer has never been found.
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