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The Princes in the Tower

The Sorcerer’s Letterbox features the famous story of the Princes in the Tower, the disappearance of Edward V and his brother, Richard, Duke of York, in the Tower of London in 1483, which perhaps remains the greatest unsolved murder mystery of all time.

Edward IV was only forty years old when he died and Edward V was just twelve when he became king. Throughout history, a royal minority has often ushered in a period of political uncertainty, but this was especially true in England after the turbulent years of the Wars of the Roses. Edward V reigned for only two months before he and his brother disappeared in the Tower, never to be seen again.

The Wars of the Roses

England experienced very turbulent times in the second half of the fifteenth century, when the conflicts popularly known as the Wars of the Roses took place between the houses of Lancaster and York. Edward V was born in 1470, the eldest son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. He ascended the throne at the age of twelve upon his father’s death in April 1483, but reigned only two months before being deposed by his uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Edward IV’s victory over the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton in 1461 ushered in a period of relative calm and stability, although he was breifly overthrown in 1471 and there was still sporadic fighting between the two rival parties until 1487. However, Edward IV died prematurely at the age of forty, leaving his throne to a child and the country was presented with a royal minority, usually a sure recipe for plots, conspiracies and political uncertainty.

Edward V and Richard III

The entire episode of the Princes in the Tower is still shrouded in mystery. The Duke of Gloucester had Edward V and his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York, imprisoned in the Tower of London, declared them illegitimate and named himself rightful heir to the crown, becoming King Richard III.

Edward and his brother were occasionally glimpsed in the grounds of the Tower in the summer months, but after the beginning of September they were never seen again. The two young boys were apparently murdered by, or at least on the orders of, their Uncle Richard, although there are a number of competing claims as to who exactly might have been responsible for their demise.

Discovery in the Tower

Almost two hundred years after their disappearance, during renovations to the Tower of London in 1674, the skeletons of two children were found in a trunk buried under a staircase, and were declared at the time, without any clear proof of course, to be the bodies of the two princes. On the orders of the king at the time, Charles II, the bones were interred in an urn in Westminster Abbey.

Skeletons

In 1933, the bones were examined by forensic experts and it was determined that they belonged to children, aged around ten and twelve, the ages of the boys when they vanished. The skulls also showed a similar dental structure and when compared to other known relatives of the princes, it seemed that the bones in the urn did indeed belong to members of the same family. There have been no further examinations of the remains since that time, but the skeletons would appear to be those of the Princes in the Tower, although the identity of their murderer remains in doubt.

69526The Princes in the Tower 1483 (2005)

The Princes In The Tower 1483 is 2005 movie based on the events surrounding the disappearance of the two boys.

The movie focuses on the claims of Perkin Warbeck to be the younger of the two princes, Richard, Duke of York. Warbeck was captured, interrogated and eventually executed in 1499.

Although highly fictional, the movie is based on the historical events of the time and the mystery surrounding the fate of The Princes in the Tower.

You can watch the full movie here on YouTube and learn more about the cast members, plot and read some reviews here.

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