193 The Blood of Innocents

HoE Full Bleed
In 1483, the gates of the Tower of London closed on two innocent and defenceless boys; one, Edward, 12, captured and the other Richard, 10, given up by his mother. As far as we know, neither of were seen outside the walls again. The London Chronicles accused Richard III of shedding ‘Blood of Innocents’.

This week’s episode talks about what we do know and what we don’t, and presents the pros and cons of 4 possible answers. And then, see the results below of the debate and poll we had on who was responsible!

193 The Blood of Innocents

 The Poll Result

There were four options, as below…and sadly it appears that although the History of England Podcast listeners are firm friends of Richard, we also think he had the boys killed. And it wasn’t terribly close either, as you can see from the chart. Much regret was expressed by many for choosing option A. Interesting debate though all round – especially if it was really so unbelievable that both could have died from natural causes. Maybe they did. And also maybe it was Livia…which made me laugh. It was fun – thanks to everyone who took part.

BoI Result


Princes Infographic


23 thoughts on “193 The Blood of Innocents

  1. There’s a relatively new (2015) and interesting book – The Secrets of the House of York by Marylynn Salmon – that contains a very original theory about the fate of the princes. In short: both were hidden away, one of them became known as Erasmus of Rotterdam (Edward V) and lived in the Low Countries, the other (Richard) went to the south of Europe and emerged much later as Perkin Warbeck, Now, to one of the leading experts on Erasmus in the Netherlands, this theory about Erasmus is absolute nonsense. However, one can never be sure about the past without conclusive evidence, can’t they?

  2. 1. I agree w/Tim Wilson & Richard Jerrett–Richard killed them.
    2. I might have been willing to consider Conrad Sheldon’s theory about Colonel Mustard & the pipe wrench, but it wasn’t one of the options.
    3. Can this count as a vote? I do not have a FB account.

  3. I don’t have a FB account, so I hope you’ll accept this message as an alternative (does being a monthly donator help to grease the wheels? ;-))
    I’m going with A, but I wonder if you dismiss too readily the chance that both boys died of natural causes around the same time. The sweating sickness arrived in England from the continent no later than 1485, and it’s possible that in undiagnosed form it may have reached London a year or two earlier. Certainly the mysterious disease’s ability to kill people, children especially, in very short time is attested by later examples, for example the two sons of the Duke of Suffolk, who died within hours of one another in 1551. Had this occurred to Edward and Richard, their uncle would have been well advised to hush the whole thing up: would anyone have believed him that some hitherto unknown plague had suddenly killed off the two royal claimants?

    1. Hear, Hear!
      I’m gutted not to have been in on this discussion, but this was my main gripe with David’s summing up; the quick dismissal of the idea that both boys died of natural causes. Having twice in my life caught an illness from my younger brother that would likely have killed us both in the olden times I can quite easily see the boys submitting to some form of virus, infection or the twitching horribles. Of course Occam and I are still in agreement that Richard did it (unless, as has been pointed out, it was in fact Livia).

      1. Yes, I think this was my favourite feedback from the whole event – that it was clearly Livia. No, not that, but that it’s not at all impossible that the two boys died of illness. Most other historians I read do sweep in the same way it has to be said. And it would have been STUNNINGLY unlucky – but then Richard was an unlucky king.

        1. Not to labour the point; but I just happened to read about American Civil War General James Longstreet who lost three of his children to illness (scarlet fever, which happens to be one of the things I contracted from my brother)in a single week. So, I don’t Think Dick Three had to be THAT unlucky, especially considering that the Tower was adjacent to the river with the possivility of all sorts of interesting parasites and viruses coming to visit.
          Finally, (I promise I will let the canine stay buried after this) wouldn’t that to some extent explain the reaction of the mother, if she knew that the boys died from an illness rather than murder (I know, no evidence of this, either way) she might be more easily persuaded to allow her daughters into Richards sphere of influence. That whole “Yes, you murdered my two sons, but never mind, here are my daughters” thing have always stuck in my craw, I can’t help but feel that there must have been something we don’t know about in that decision of hers.

  4. Allan, I’m not a proud man. yes, being a monthly donator gets you pretty much any privilege. Do you have any shoes need cleaning…?
    I must admit there are a few people saying the same – though I must admit I’d not heard of the sweating sickness. I shall post it on FB on your behalf. I have to say none of the historians I have read cover the possibility since I guess it is simply unknowable. It would have a terrible symmetry though – Richard III comes across as an impulsive guy who rides his luck – and sadly doesn’t seem to have much luck to ride
    So Kevin, Kay , Melanie, David and Allan – votes duly recorded!

  5. I think Margaret had a huge hand in it, but she wasn’t alone. She was obsessed with her son being King and crazy and cunning enough to come up with a plan but knew better than to get her hands dirty. so she got an unnamed commoner who had a way into the tower to actually kill the poor boys.

  6. I’m late to this party, but I have to gripe a little over the claim that Richard kidnapped Edward. Richard is accused of naming himself protector, kidnapping Edward, and unjustly arresting Edward’s uncles. He was meant to meet with Earl Rivers to get Edward, just as had been agreed (and would be expected, as Edward IV had named Richard Lord Protector in the codices to his will), but the Woodvilles had hidden him down in Stony Stratford, which would have been a crime warranting arrest. If anything, I think the Woodvilles were far sneakier and more ambitious than Richard, and I think Rivers’ plan was always to get himself named protector to ensure that the good fortunes of the Woodvilles went uninterrupted. Anyway. Not super relevant to the debate, but them’s my two cents.

  7. Good Gracious – looks like the majority of your listeners are members of the Richard III society. Richard the Saviour and completely innocent of kidnapping and murdering the Princes? Gimme a break. He was on his way to curing cancer too before wicked Henry Tudor came long

  8. I just realized that Buckingham is Margret Beaufort’s son. is there any chance that she could influence him to kill her? If so, that would seem to solve the issue Margret/Henry had with accessing the princes.

    1. It’s a different Margaret Beaufort.

      Here are Wikipedia articles on the two women:

      Buckingham’s mum:

      Henry VII’s mum:

      Another few weird things are that:

      Though Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham wasn’t a son to Margaret Beaufort, mum of Henry VII, his two sons (Edward & Henry) would become her wards after his death and Edward would be one of Henry VIII’s most trusted friends (until he became a threat and Henry VIII had him executed on trumped up charges).

      Margaret who was Henry VII’s mum married a Henry Stafford who was uncle to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham.

      Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham married Catherine Woodville, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth Woodville.

      After Buckingham was executed, his widow Catherine Woodville would marry Jasper Tudor, Henry VII’s uncle. There were rumors Margaret Beaufort loved Jasper (as portrayed in both The White Queen & White Princess), but no solid evidence.

  9. In my school history lessons (longer ago than I care to remember!) it was always pushed that Richard did it.

    Interestingly I recently read “The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey. Since then I seriously doubt it was Richard at all. I believe he was “set up” by Henry (and his mother – an ambitious and treacherous individual if ever there was one).

    I recommend reading the book for anyone who is interested. It is a written as a fictional modern-day “cold case” who-dunnit, as investigated by a Scotland Yard detective from his hospital bed whilst recovering from an injury, but the arguments in Richard’s defence are compelling…to me anyway.

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