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Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of King Richard III

L'histoire n'est fondee que sur le tomoignage des Auteurs qui nous
l'ont transmisse. Il importe donc extremement, pour la scavoir, de
bien connoitre quels etoient ces Auteurs. Rien n'est a negliger en
ce point; le tems ou ils ont vecu, leur naissance, leur patrie, le
part qu'ils ont eue aux affaires, les moyens par lesquels ils ont
ete instruits, et l'interet qu'ils y pouvaient prendre, sont des
circonstances essentielles qu'il n'est pas permis d'ignorer: dela
depend le plus ou le moins d'autorite qu'ils doivent avoir: et sans
cette connoissance, on courra risque tres souvent de prendre pour
guide un Historien de mauvaisse foi, ou du moins, mal informe.

Hist. de l'Acad. des Inscript. Vol. X.


First Published 1768


So incompetent has the generality of historians been for the
province they have undertaken, that it is almost a question,
whether, if the dead of past ages could revive, they would be able
to reconnoitre the events of their own times, as transmitted to us
by ignorance and misrepresentation. All very ancient history, except
that of the illuminated Jews, is a perfect fable. It was written by
priests, or collected from their reports; and calculated solely to
raise lofty ideas of the origin of each nation. Gods and demi-gods
were the principal actors; and truth is seldom to be expected where
the personages are supernatural. The Greek historians have no
advantage over the Peruvian, but in the beauty of their language, or
from that language being more familiar to us. Mango Capac,
the son of the sun, is as authentic a founder of a royal race, as
the progenitor of the Heraclidae. What truth indeed could be
expected, when even the identity of person is uncertain? The actions
of one were ascribed to many, and of many to one. It is not known
whether there was a single Hercules or twenty.

As nations grew polished. History became better authenticated.
Greece itself learned to speak a little truth. Rome, at the hour of
its fall, had the consolation of seeing the crimes of its usurpers
published. The vanquished inflicted eternal wounds on their
conquerors--but who knows, if Pompey had succeeded, whether Julius
Caesar would not have been decorated as a martyr to publick liberty?
At some periods the suffering criminal captivates all hearts; at
others, the triumphant tyrant. Augustus, drenched in the blood of
his fellow-citizens, and Charles Stuart, falling in his own blood,
are held up to admiration. Truth is left out of the discussion; and
odes and anniversary sermons give the law to history and credulity.

But if the crimes of Rome are authenticated, the case is not the
same with its virtues. An able critic has shown that nothing is more
problematic than the history of the three or four first ages of that
city. As the confusions of the state increased, so do the confusions
in its story. The empire had masters, whose names are only known
from medals. It is uncertain of what princes several empresses were
the wives. If the jealousy of two antiquaries intervenes, the point
becomes inexplicable. Oriuna, on the medals of Carausius, used to
pass for the moon: of late years it is become a doubt whether she
was not his consort. It is of little importance whether she was moon
or empress: but 'how little must we know of those times, when those
land-marks to certainty, royal names, do not serve even that
purpose! In the cabinet of the king of France are several coins of
sovereigns, whose country cannot now be guessed at.

The want of records, of letters, of printing, of critics; wars,
revolutions, factions, and other causes, occasioned these defects in
ancient history. Chronology and astronomy are forced to tinker up
and reconcile, as well as they can, those uncertainties. This
satisfies the learned--but what should we think of the reign of
George the Second, to be calculated two thousand years hence by
eclipses, lest the conquest of Canada should be ascribed to James
the First.

At the very moment that the Roman empire was resettled, nay, when a
new metropolis was erected, in an age of science and arts, while
letters still held up their heads in Greece; consequently, when the
great outlines of truth, I mean events, might be expected to be
established; at that very period a new deluge of error burst upon
the world. Cristian monks and saints laid truth waste; and a mock
sun rose at Rome, when the Roman sun sunk at Constantinople. Virtues
and vices were rated by the standard of bigotry; and the militia of
the church became the only historians. The best princes were
represented as monsters; the worst, at least the most useless, were
deified, according as they depressed or exalted turbulent and
enthusiastic prelates and friars. Nay, these men were so destitute
of temper and common sense, that they dared to suppose that common
sense would never revisit the earth: and accordingly wrote with so
little judgment, and committed such palpable forgeries, that if we
cannot discover what really happened in those ages, we can at least
he very sure what did not. How many general persecutions does the
church record, of which there is not the smallest trace? What
donations and charters were forged, for which those holy persons
would lose their ears, if they were in this age to present them in
the most common court of judicature? Yet how long were these
impostors the only persons who attempted to write history!

But let us lay aside their interested lies, and consider how far
they were qualified in other respects to transmit faithful memoirs
to posterity. In the ages I speak of, the barbarous monkish ages,
the shadow of learning that existed was confined to the clergy: they
generally wrote in Latin, or in verse, and their compositions in
both were truly barbarous. The difficulties of rhime, and the want
of correspondent terms in Latin, were no small impediments to the
severe nvarch of truth. But there were worse obstacles to encounter.
Europe was in a continual state of warfare. Little princes and great
lords were constantly skirmishing and struggling for trifling
additions of territory, or wasting each others borders. Geography
was very imperfect; no police existed; roads, such as they were,
were dangerous; and posts were not established. Events were only
known by rumour, from pilgrims, or by letters carried In couriers to
the parties interested: the public did not enjoy even those fallible
vehicles of intelligence, newspapers. In this situation did monks,
at twenty, fifty, an hundred, nay, a thousand miles distance (and
under the circumstances I have mentioned even twenty miles were
considerable) undertake to write history--and they wrote it

If we take a survey of our own history, and examine it with any
attention, what an unsatisfactory picture does it present to
us! How dry, how superficial, how void of information! How
little is recorded besides battles, plagues, and religious
foundations! That this should be the case, before the Conquest, is
not surprizing. Our empire was but forming itself, or re-collecting
its divided members into one mass, which, from the desertion of the
Romans, had split into petty kingdoms. The invasions of nations as
barbarous as ourselves, interfered with every plan of policy and
order that might have been formed to settle the emerging state; and
swarms of foreign monks were turned loose upon us with their new
faith and mysteries, to bewilder and confound the plain good sense
of our ancestors. It was too much to have Danes, Saxons, and Popes,
to combat at once! Our language suffered as much as our government;
and not having acquired much from our Roman masters, was miserably
disfigured by the subsequent invaders. The unconquered parts of the
island retained some purity and some precision. The Welsh and Erse
tongues wanted not harmony: but never did exist a more barbarous
jargon than the dialect, still venerated by antiquaries, and called
Saxon. It was so uncouth, so inflexible to all composition, that the
monks, retaining the idiom, were reduced to write in what they took
or meant for Latin.

The Norman tyranny succeeded, and gave this Babel of savage sounds a
wrench towards their own language. Such a mixture necessarily
required ages to bring it to some standard: and, consequently,
whatever compositions were formed during its progress, were sure of
growing obsolete. However, the authors of those days were not likely
to make these obvious reflections; and indeed seem to have aimed at
no one perfection. From the Conquest to the reign of Henry the
Eighth it is difficult to discover any one beauty in our writers,
but their simplicity. They told their tale, like story-tellers;
that is, they related without art or ornament; and they related
whatever they heard. No councils of princes, no motives of conduct,
no remoter springs of action, did they investigate or learn. We have
even little light into the characters of the actors. A king or an
archbishop of Canterbury are the only persons with whom we are made
much acquainted. The barons are all represented as brave patriots;
but we have not the satisfaction of knowing which, of them were
really so; nor whether they were not all turbulent and ambitious.
The probability is, that both kings and nobles wished to encroach on
each other, and if any sparks of liberty were struck out in all
likelihood it was contrary to the intention of either the flint or
the steel.

Hence it has been thought necessary to give a new dress to English
history. Recourse has been had to records, and they are far from
corroborating the testimonies of our historians. Want of authentic
memorials has obliged our later writers to leave the mass pretty
much as they found it. Perhaps all the requisite attention that
might have been bestowed, has not been bestowed. It demands great
industry and patience to wade into such abstruse stores as records
and charters: and they being jejune and narrow in themselves, very
acute criticism is necessary to strike light from their assistance.
If they solemnly contradict historians in material facts, we may
lose our history; but it is impossible to adhere to our historians.
Partiality man cannot intirely divest himself of; it is so natural,
that the bent of a writer to one side or the other of a question is
almost always discoverable. But there is a wide difference between
favouring and lying and yet I doubt whether the whole stream of our
historians, misled by their originals, have not falsified one reign
in our annals in the grossest manner. The moderns are only guilty of
taking-on trust what they ought to have examined more scrupulously,
as the authors whom they copied were all ranked on one side in a
flagrant season of party. But no excuse can be made for the original
authors, who, I doubt, have violated all rules of truth.

The confusions which attended the civil war between the houses of
York and Lancaster, threw an obscurity over that part of our annals,
which it is almost impossible to dispel. We have scarce any
authentic monuments of the reign of Edward the Fourth; and ought to
read his history with much distrust, from the boundless partiality
of the succeeding writers to the opposite cause. That diffidence
should increase as we proceed to the reign of his brother.

It occurred to me some years ago, that the picture of Richard the
Third, as drawn by historians, was a character formed by prejudice
and invention. I did not take Shakespeare's tragedy for a genuine
representation, but I did take the story of that reign for a tragedy
of imagination. Many of the crimes imputed to Richard seemed
improbable; and, what was stronger, contrary to his interest. A few
incidental circumstances corroborated my opinion; an original and
important instrument was pointed out to me last winter, which gave
rise to the following' sheets; and as it was easy to perceive, under
all the glare of encomiums which historians have heaped on the
wisdom of Henry the Seventh, that he was a mean and unfeeling
tyrant, I suspected that they had blackened his rival, till Henry,
by the contrast, should appear in a kind of amiable light. The more
I examined their story, the more I was confirmed in my opinion: and
with regard to Henry, one consequence I could not help drawing; that
we have either no authentic memorials of Richard's crimes, or, at
most, no account of them but from Lancastrian historians; whereas
the vices and injustice of Henry are, though palliated, avowed by
the concurrent testimony of his panegyrists. Suspicions and calumny
were fastened on Richard as so many assassinations. The murders
committed by Henry were indeed executions and executions pass for
prudence with prudent historians; for when a successful king is
chief justice, historians become a voluntary jury.

If I do not flatter myself, I have unravelled a considerable part of
that dark period. Whether satisfactory or not, my readers must
decide. Nor is it of any importance whether I have or not. The
attempt was mere matter of curiosity and speculation. If any man, as
idle as myself, should take the trouble to review and canvass my
arguments I am ready to yield so indifferent a point to better
reasons. Should declamation alone be used to contradict me, I shall
not think I am less in the right.

Nov. 28th, 1767.


There is a kind of literary superstition, which men are apt to
contract from habit, and which-makes them look On any attempt
towards shaking their belief in any established characters, no
matter whether good or bad, as a sort of prophanation. They are
determined to adhere to their first impressions, and are equally
offended at any innovation, whether the person, whose character is
to be raised or depressed, were patriot or tyrant, saint or sinner.
No indulgence is granted to those who would ascertain the truth. The
more the testimonies on either side have been multiplied, the
stronger is the conviction; though it generally happens that the
original evidence is wonderous slender, and that the number of
writers have but copied one another; or, what is worse, have only
added to the original, without any new authority. Attachment so
groundless is not to be regarded; and in mere matters of curiosity,
it were ridiculous to pay any deference to it. If time brings new
materials to light, if facts and dates confute historians, what does
it signify that we have been for two or three hundred years under an
error? Does antiquity consecrate darkness? Does a lie become
venerable from its age?

Historic justice is due to all characters. Who would not vindicate
Henry the Eighth or Charles the Second, if found to be falsely
traduced? Why then not Richard the Third? Of what importance is it
to any man living whether or not he was as bad as he is represented?
No one noble family is sprung from him.

However, not to disturb too much the erudition of those who have
read the dismal story of his cruelties, and settled their ideas of
his tyranny and usurpation, I declare I am not going to write a
vindication of him. All I mean to show, is, that though he may have
been as execrable as we are told he was, we have little or no reason
to believe so. If the propensity of habit should still incline a
single man to suppose that all he has read of Richard is true, I beg
no more, than that that person would be so impartial as to own that
he has little or no foundation for supposing so.

I will state the list of the crimes charged on Richard; I will
specify the authorities on which he was accused; I will give a
faithful account of the historians by whom he was accused; and will
then examine the circumstances of each crime and each evidence; and
lastly, show that some of the crimes were contrary to Richard's
interest, and almost all inconsistent with probability or with
dates, and some of them involved in material contradictions.

Supposed crimes of Richard the Third.

1st. His murder of Edward prince of Wales, son of Henry the Sixth.

2d. His murder of Henry the Sixth.

3d. The murder of his brother George duke of Clarence.

4th. The execution of Rivers, Gray, and Vaughan.

5th, The execution of Lord Hastings.

6th. The murder of Edward the Fifth and his brother.

7th. The murder of his own queen.

To which may be added, as they are thrown into the list to blacken
him, his intended match with his own niece Elizabeth, the penance of
Jane Shore, and his own personal deformities.

I. Of the murder of Edward prince of Wales, son of Henry the Sixth.

Edward the Fourth had indubitably the hereditary right to the crown;
which he pursued with singular bravery and address, and with all the
arts of a politician and the cruelty of a conqueror. Indeed on
neither side do there seem to have been any scruples: Yorkists and
Lancastrians, Edward and Margaret of Anjou, entered into any
engagements, took any oaths, violated them, and indulged their
revenge, as often as they were depressed or victorious. After the
battle of Tewksbury, in which Margaret and her son were made
prisoners, young Edward was brought to the presence of Edward the
Fourth; "but after the king," says Fabian, the oldest historian of
those times, "had questioned with the said Sir Edwarde, and he had
answered unto hym contrary his pleasure, he then strake him with his
gauntlet upon the face; after which stroke, so by him received, he
was by the kynges servants incontinently slaine." The chronicle of
Croyland of the same date says, "the prince was slain 'ultricibus
quorundam manibus';" but names nobody.

Hall, who closes his word with the reign of Henry the Eighth, says,
that "the prince beyinge bold of stomache and of a good courag,
answered the king's question (of how he durst so presumptuously
enter into his realme with banner displayed) sayinge, to recover my
fater's kingdome and enheritage, &c. at which wordes kyng Edward
said nothing, but with his hand thrust him from him, or, as some
say, stroke him with his gauntlet, whome incontinent, they that
stode about, which were George duke of Clarence, Richard duke of
Gloucester, Thomas marques Dorset (son of queen Elizabeth Widville)
and William lord Hastinges, sodainly murthered and pitiously
manquelled." Thus much had the story gained from the time of
Fabian to that of Hall.

Hollingshed repeats these very words, consequently is a transcriber,
and no new authority.

John Stowe reverts to Fabian's account, as the only one not grounded
on hear-say, and affirms no more, than that the king cruelly smote
the young prince on the face with his gauntlet, and after his
servants slew him.

Of modern historians, Rapin and Carte, the only two who seem not to
have swallowed implicitly all the vulgar tales propagated by the
Lancastrians to blacken the house of York, warn us to read with
allowance the exaggerated relations of those times. The latter
suspects, that at the dissolution of the monasteries all evidences
were suppressed that tended to weaken the right of the prince on the
throne; but as Henry the Eighth concentred in himself both the claim
of Edward the Fourth and that ridiculous one of Henry the Seventh,
he seems to have had less occasion to be anxious lest the truth
should come out; and indeed his father had involved that truth in so
much darkness, that it was little likely to force its way. Nor was
it necessary then to load the memory of Richard the Third, who had
left no offspring. Henry the Eighth had no competitor to fear but
the descendants of Clarence, of whom he seems to have had sufficient
apprehension, as appeared by his murder of the old countess of
Salisbury, daughter of Clarence, and his endeavours to root out her
posterity. This jealousy accounts for Hall charging the duke of
Clarence, as well as the duke of Gloucester, with the murder of
prince Edward. But in accusations of so deep a dye, it is not
sufficient ground for our belief, that an historian reports them
with such a frivolous palliative as that phrase, "as some say". A
cotemporary names the king's servants as perpetrators of the murder:
Is not that more probable, than that the king's own brothers should
have dipped their hands in so foul an assassination? Richard, in
particular, is allowed on all hands to have been a brave and martial
prince: he had great share in the victory at Tewksbury: Some years
afterwards, he commanded his brother's troops in Scotland, and made
himself master of Edinburgh. At the battle of Bosworth, where he
fell, his courage was heroic: he sought Richmond, and endeavoured to
decide their quarrel by a personal combat, slaying Sir William
Brandon, his rival's standard-bearer, with his own hand, and
felling to the ground Sir John Cheney, who endeavoured to oppose
his fury. Such men may be carried by ambition to command the
execution of those who stand in their way; but are not likely to
lend their hand, in cold blood, to a base, and, to themselves,
useless assassination. How did it import Richard in what manner the
young prince was put to death? If he had so early planned the
ambitious designs ascribed to him, he might have trusted to his
brother Edward, so much more immediately concerned, that the young
prince would not be spared. If those views did not, as is probable,
take root in his heart till long afterwards, what interest had
Richard to murder an unhappy young prince? This crime therefore was
so unnecessary, and is so far from being established by any
authority, that he deserves to be entirely acquitted of it.

II. The murder of Henry the Sixth.

This charge, no better supported than the preceding, is still more
improbable. "Of the death of this prince, Henry the Sixth," says
Fabian, "divers tales wer told. But the most common fame went, that
he was sticken with a dagger by the handes of the duke of Gloceter."
The author of the Continuation of the Chronicle of Croyland says
only, that the body of king Henry was found lifeless (exanime) in
the Tower. "Parcat Deus", adds he, "spatium poenitentiae Ei donet,
Quicunque sacrilegas manus in Christum Domini ausus est immittere.
Unde et agens tyranni, patiensque gloriosi martyris titulum
mereatur." The prayer for the murderer, that he may live to repent,
proves that the passage was written immediately after the murder was
committed. That the assassin deserved the appellation of tyrant,
evinces that the historian's suspicions went high; but as he calls
him Quicunque, and as we are uncertain whether he wrote before the
death of Edward the Fourth or between his death and that of Richard
the Third, we cannot ascertain which of the brothers he meant. In
strict construction he should mean Edward, because as he is speaking
of Henry's death, Richard, then only duke of Gloucester, could not
properly be called a tyrant. But as monks were not good grammatical
critics, I shall lay no stress on this objection. I do think he
alluded to Richard; having treated him severely in the subsequent
part of his history, and having a true monkish partiality to Edward,
whose cruelty and vices he slightly noticed, in favour to that
monarch's severity to heretics and ecclesiastic expiations. "Is
princeps, licet diebus suis cupiditatibus & luxui nimis intemperanter
indulsisse credatur, in fide tamen catholicus summ, hereticorum
severissimus hostis sapientium & doctorum hominum clericorumque
promotor amantissimus, sacramentorum ecclesiae devotissimus
venerator, peccatorumque fuorum omnium paenitentissimus fuit." That
monster Philip the Second possessed just the same virtues. Still, I
say, let the monk suspect whom he would, if Henry was found dead,
the monk was not likely to know who murdered him--and if he did, he
has not told us.

Hall says, "Poore kyng Henry the Sixte, a little before deprived of
hys realme and imperial croune, was now in the Tower of London
spoyled of his life and all wordly felicite by Richard duke of
Gloucester (as the constant fame ranne) which, to the intent that
king Edward his brother should be clere out of al secret suspicyon
of sudden invasion, murthered the said king with a dagger." Whatever
Richard was, it seems he was a most excellent and kind-hearted
brother, and scrupled not on any occasion to be the Jack Ketch of the
times. We shall see him soon (if the evidence were to be believed)
perform the same friendly office for Edward on their brother
Clarence. And we must admire that he, whose dagger was so fleshed in
murder for the service of another, should be so put to it to find
the means of making away with his nephews, whose deaths were
considerably more essential to him. But can this accusation be
allowed gravely? if Richard aspired to the crown, whose whole
conduct during Edward's reign was a scene, as we are told, of
plausibility and decorum, would he officiously and unnecessarily
have taken on himself the odium of slaying a saint-like monarch,
adored by the people? Was it his interest to save Edward's character
at the expence of his own? Did Henry stand in his way, deposed,
imprisoned, and now childless? The blind and indiscriminate zeal
with which every crime committed in that bloody age was placed to
Richard's account, makes it greatly probable, that interest of party
had more hand than truth in drawing his picture. Other cruelties,
which I shall mention, and to which we know his motives, he
certainly commanded; nor am I desirous to purge him where I find him
guilty: but mob-stories or Lancastrian forgeries ought to be
rejected from sober history; nor can they be repeated, without
exposing the writer to the imputation of weakness and vulgar

III. The murder of his brother Clarence.

In the examination of this article, I shall set aside our
historians (whose gossipping narratives, as we have seen, deserve
little regard) because we have better authority to direct our
inquiries: and this is, the attainder of the duke of Clarence, as it
is set forth in the Parliamentary History (copied indeed from
Habington's Life of Edward the Fourth) and by the editors of that
history justly supposed to be taken from Stowe, who had seen the
original bill of attainder. The crimes and conspiracy of Clarence
are there particularly enumerated, and even his dealing with
conjurers and necromancers, a charge however absurd, yet often made
use of in that age. Eleanor Cobham, wife of Humphrey duke of
Gloucester, had been condemned on a parallel accusation. In France
it was a common charge; and I think so late as in the reign of Henry
the Eighth Edward duke of Buckingham was said to have consulted
astrologers and such like cattle, on the succession of the crown.
Whether Clarence was guilty we cannot easily tell; for in those
times neither the public nor the prisoner were often favoured with
knowing the evidence on which sentence was passed. Nor was much
information of that sort given to or asked by parliament itself,
previous to bills of attainder. The duke of Clarence appears to have
been at once a weak, volatile, injudicious, and ambitious man. He
had abandoned his brother Edward, had espoused the daughter of
Warwick, the great enemy of their house, and had even been declared
successor to Henry the Sixth and his son prince Edward. Conduct so
absurd must have left lasting impressions on Edward's mind, not to
be effaced by Clarence's subsequent treachery to Henry and Warwick.
The Chronicle of Croyland mentions the ill-humour and discontents of
Clarence; and all our authors agree, that he kept no terms with the
queen and her relations.(1) Habington adds, that these discontents
were secretly fomented by the duke of Gloucester. Perhaps they were:
Gloucester certainly kept fair with the queen, and profited largely
by the forfeiture of his brother. But where jealousies are secretly
fomented in a court, they seldom come to the knowledge of an
historian; and though he may have guessed right from collateral
circumstances, these insinuations are mere gratis dicta and can only
be treated as surmises.(2) Hall, Hollingshed, and Stowe say not a
word of Richard being the person who put the sentence in execution;
but, on the contrary, they all say he openly resisted the murder of
Clarence: all too record another circumstance, which is perfectly
ridiculous that Clarence was drowned in a barrel or butt of malmsey.
Whoever can believe that a butt of wine was the engine of his death,
may believe that Richard helped him into it, and kept him down till
he was suffocated. But the strong evidence on which Richard must be
acquitted, and indeed even of having contributed to his death, was
the testimony of Edward himself. Being some time afterward solicited
to pardon a notorious criminal, the king's conscience broke forth;
"Unhappy brother!" cried he, "for whom no man would intercede--yet
ye all can be intercessors for a villain!" If Richard had been
instigator or executioner, it is not likely that the king would
have assumed the whole merciless criminality to himself, without
bestowing a due share on his brother Gloucester. Is it possible to
renew the charge, and not recollect this acquittal?

(1) That chronicle, which now and then, though seldom, is
circumstantial, gives a curious account of the marriage of Richard
duke of Gloucester and Anne Nevil, which I have found in no other
author; and which seems to tax the envy and rapaciousness of
Clarence as the causes of the dissention between the brothers. This
account, and from a cotemporary, is the more remarkable, as the Lady
Anne is positively said to have been only betrothed to Edward prince
of Wales, son of Henry the Sixth, and not his widow, as she is
carelessly called by all our historians, and represented in
Shakespeare's masterly scene. "Postquam filius regis Henrici, cui
Domina Anna, minor filia comitis Warwici, desponsata fuit, in
prefato bello de Tewkysbury occubuit," Richard, duke of Gloucester
desired her for his wife. Clarence, who had married the elder
sister, was unwilling to share so rich an inheritance with his
brother, and concealed the young lady. Gloucester was too alert for
him, and discovered the Lady Anne in the dress of a cookmaid in
London, and removed her to the sanctuary of St. Martin. The brothers
pleaded each his cause in person before their elder brother in
counsel; and every man, says the author, admired the strength of
their respective arguments. The king composed their differences,
bestowed the maiden on Gloucester, and parted the estate between him
and Clarence; the countess of Warwick, mother of the heiresses, and
who had brought that vast wealth to the house of Nevil, remaining
the only sufferer, being reduced to a state of absolute necessity,
as appears from Dugdale. In such times, under such despotic
dispensations, the greatest crimes were only consequences of the
economy of government.--Note, that Sir Richard Baker is so absurd as
to make Richard espouse the Lady Anne after his accession, though he
had a son by her ten years old at that time.

(2) The chronicle above quoted asserts, that the speaker of the
house of commons demanded the execution of Clarence. Is it credible
that, on a proceeding so public, and so solemn for that age, the
brother of the offended monarch and of the royal criminal should
have been deputed, or would have stooped to so vile an office? On
such occasions do arbitrary princes want tools? Was Edward's court
so virtuous or so humane, that it could furnish no assassin but the
first prince of the blood? When the house of commons undertook to
colour the king's resentment, was every member of it too scrupulous
to lend his hand to the deed?

The three preceding accusations are evidently uncertain and
improbable. What follows is more obscure; and it is on the ensuing
transactions that I venture to pronounce, that we have little or no
authority on which to form positive conclusions. I speak more
particularly of the deaths of Edward the Fifth and his brother. It
will, I think, appear very problematic whether they were murdered or
not: and even if they were murdered, it is impossible to believe the
account as fabricated and divulged by Henry the Seventh, on whose
testimony the murder must rest at last; for they, who speak most
positively, revert to the story which he was pleased to publish
eleven years after their supposed deaths, and which is so absurd, so
incoherent, and so repugnant to dates and other facts, that as it is
no longer necessary to pay court to his majesty, it is no longer
necessary not to treat his assertions as an impudent fiction. I come
directly to this point, because the intervening articles of the
executions of Rivers, Gray, Vaughan, and Hastings will naturally
find their place in that disquisition.

And here it will be important to examine those historians on whose
relation the story first depends. Previous to this, I must ascertain
one or two dates, for they are stubborn evidence and cannot be
rejected: they exist every where, and cannot be proscribed even from
a Court Calendar.

Edward the Fourth died April 9th, 1483. Edward, his eldest son, was
then thirteen years of age. Richard Duke of York, his second son,
was about nine.

We have but two cotemporary historians, the author of the Chronicle
of Croyland, and John Fabian. The first, who wrote in his convent,
and only mentioned incidentally affairs of state, is very barren and
concise: he appears indeed not to have been ill informed, and
sometimes even in a situation of personally knowing the transactions
of the times; for in one place we are told in a marginal note, that
the doctor of the canon law, and one of the king's councellors, who
was sent to Calais, was the author of the Continuation. Whenever
therefore his assertions are positive, and not merely flying
reports, he ought to be admitted as fair evidence, since we have no
better. And yet a monk who busies himself in recording the
insignificant events of his own order or monastery, and who was at
most occasionally made use of, was not likely to know the most
important and most mysterious secrets of state; I mean, as he was
not employed in those iniquitous transactions--if he had been, we
should learn or might expect still less truth from him.

John Fabian was a merchant, and had been sheriff of London, and died
in 1512: he consequently lived on the spot at that very interesting
period. Yet no sheriff was ever less qualified to write a history of
England. His narrative is dry, uncircumstantial, and unimportant: he
mentions the deaths of princes and revolutions of government, with
the same phlegm and brevity as he would speak of the appointment of
churchwardens. I say not this from any partiality, or to decry the
simple man as crossing my opinion; for Fabian's testimony is far
from bearing hard against Richard, even though he wrote under Henry
the Seventh, who would have suffered no apology for his rival, and
whose reign was employed not only in extirpating the house of York,
but in forging the most atrocious calumnies to blacken their
memories, and invalidate their just claim.

But the great source from whence all later historians have taken
their materials for the reign of Richard the Third, is Sir Thomas
More. Grafton, the next in order, has copied him verbatim: so does
Hollingshed--and we are told by the former in a marginal note, that
Sir Thomas was under-sheriff of London when he composed his work. It
is in truth a composition, and a very beautiful one. He was then in
the vigour of his fancy, and fresh from the study of the Greek and
Roman historians, whose manner he has imitated in divers imaginary
orations. They serve to lengthen an unknown history of little more
than two months into a pretty sizeable volume; but are no more to be
received as genuine, than the facts they adduced to countenance. An
under-sheriff of London, aged but twenty-eight, and recently marked
with the displeasure of the crown, was not likely to be furnished
with materials from any high authority, and could not receive them
from the best authority, I mean the adverse party, who were
proscribed, and all their chiefs banished or put to death. Let us
again recur to dates.(3) Sir Thomas More was born in 1480: he was
appointed under-sheriff in 1508, and three years before had offended
Henry the Seventh in the tender point of opposing a subsidy. Buck,
the apologist of Richard the Third, ascribes the authorities of Sir
Thomas to the information of archbishop Morton; and it is true that
he had been brought up under that prelate; but Morton died in 1500,
when Sir Thomas was but twenty years old, and when he had scarce
thought of writing history. What materials he had gathered from his
master were probably nothing more than a general narrative of the
preceding times in discourse at dinner or in a winter's evening, if
so raw a youth can be supposed to have been admitted to familiarity
with a prelate of that rank and prime minister. But granting that
such pregnant parts as More's had leaped the barrier of dignity, and
insinuated himself into the archbishop's favour; could he have drawn
from a more corrupted source? Morton had not only violated his
allegiance to Richard; but had been the chief engine to dethrone
him, and to plant a bastard scyon in the throne. Of all men living
there could not be more suspicious testimony than the prelate's,
except the king's: and had the archbishop selected More for the
historian of those dark scenes, who had so much, interest to blacken
Richard, as the man who had risen to be prime minister to his rival?
Take it therefore either way; that the archbishop did or did not
pitch on a young man of twenty to write that history, his authority
was as suspicious as could be.

(3) Vide Biog. Britannica, p. 3159.

It may be said, on the other hand, that Sir Thomas, who had smarted
for his boldness (for his father, a judge of the king's bench, had
been imprisoned and fined for his son's offence) had had little
inducement to flatter the Lancastrian cause. It is very true; nor am
I inclined to impute adulation to one of the honestest statesmen and
brightest names in our annals. He who scorned to save his life by
bending to the will of the son, was not likely to canvas the favour
of the father, by prostituting his pen to the humour of the court. I
take the truth to be, that Sir Thomas wrote his reign of Edward the
Fifth as he wrote his Utopia; to amuse his leisure and exercise his
fancy. He took up a paltry canvas and embroidered it with a flowing
design as his imagination suggested the colours. I should deal more
severely with his respected memory on any other hypothesis. He has
been guilty of such palpable and material falshoods, as, while they
destroy his credit as an historian, would reproach his veracity as a
man, if we could impute them to premeditated perversion of truth,
and not to youthful levity and inaccuracy. Standing as they do, the
sole groundwork of that reign's history, I am authorized to
pronounce the work, invention and romance.

Polidore Virgil, a foreigner, and author of a light Latin history,
was here during the reigns of Henry the Seventh and Eighth. I may
quote him now-and-then, and the Chronicle of Croyland; but neither
furnish us with much light.

There was another writer in that age of far greater authority, whose
negligent simplicity and' veracity are unquestionable; who had great
opportunities of knowing our story, and whose testimony is
corroborated by our records: I mean Philip de Comines. He and Buck
agree with one another, and with the rolls of parliament; Sir Thomas
More with none of them.

Buck, so long exploded as a lover of paradoxes, and as an advocate
for a monster, gains new credit the deeper this dark scene is
fathomed. Undoubtedly Buck has gone too far; nor are his style or
method to be admired. With every intention of vindicating Richard,
he does but authenticate his crimes, by searching in other story for
parallel instances of what he calls policy.

No doubt politicians will acquit Richard, if confession of his
crimes be pleaded in defence of them. Policy will justify his taking
off opponents. Policy will maintain him in removing those who would
have barred his obtaining the crown, whether he thought he had a
right to it, or was determined to obtain it. Morality, especially in
the latter case, cannot take his part. I shall speak more to this
immediately. Kapin conceived doubts; but instead of pursuing them,
wandered after judgments; and they will lead a man where-ever he has
a mind to be led. Carte, with more manly shrewdness, has sifted many
parts of Richard's story, and guessed happily. My part has less
penetration; but the parliamentary history, the comparison of dates,
and the authentic monument lately come to light, and from which I
shall give extracts, have convinced me, that, if Buck is too
favourable, all our other historians are blind guides, and have not
made out a twentieth part of their assertions.

The story of Edward the Fifth is thus related by Sir Thomas More,
and copied from him by all our historians.

When the king his father died, the prince kept his court at Ludlow,
under the tuition of his maternal uncle Anthony earl Rivers. Richard
duke of Gloucester was in the north, returning from his successful
expedition against the Scots. The queen wrote instantly to her
brother to bring up the young king to London, with a train of two
thousand horse: a fact allowed by historians, and which, whether a
prudent caution or not, was the first overt-act of the new reign;
and likely to strike, as it did strike, the duke of Gloucester and
the antient nobility with a jealousy, that the queen intended to
exclude them from the administration, and to govern in concert with
her own family. It is not improper to observe that no precedent
authorized her to assume such power. Joan, princess dowager of
Wales, and widow of the Black Prince, had no share in the government
during the minority of her son Richard the Second. Catherine of
Valois, widow of Henry the Fifth Was alike excluded from the
regency, though her son was but a year old. And if Isabella governed
on the deposition of Edward the Second, it Was by an usurped power,
by the same power that had contributed to dethrone her husband; a
power sanctified by no title, and confirmed by no act of
parliament.(4) The first step to a female regency(5) enacted,
though it never took place, was many years afterwards, in the reign
of Henry the Eighth.

(4) Twelve guardians were appointed by parliament, and the earl of
Lancaster was entrusted with the care of the king's person. The
latter, being excluded from exercising his charge by the queen and
Mortimer, gave that as a reason for not obeying a summons to
parliament. Vide Parliam. Hist. vol. i. p. 208. 215.

(5) Vide the act of succession in Parliam. Hist. vol. III. p. 127.

Edward, on his death-bed, had patched up a reconciliation between
his wife's kindred and the great lords of the court; particularly
between the Marquis Dorset, the Queen's son, and the lord
chamberlain Hastings. Yet whether the disgusted lords had only
seemed to yield, to satisfy the dying king, or whether the steps
taken by the queen gave them new cause of umbrage it appears that
the duke of Buckingham, was the first to communicate his suspicions
to Gloucester, and to dedicate himself to his service. Lord Hastings
was scarce less forward to join in like measures, and all three, it
is pretended, were so alert, that they contrived to have it
insinuated to the queen, that it would give much offence if the
young king should be brought to London with so great a force as she
had ordered; on which suggestions she wrote to Lord Rivers to
countermand her first directions.

It is difficult not to suspect, that our historians have imagined
more plotting in this transaction than could easily be compassed in
so short a period, and in an age when no communication could be
carried on but by special messengers, in bad roads, and with no
relays of post-horses.

Edward the Fourth died April 9th, and his son made his entrance into
London May 4th.(6) It is not probable, that the queen communicated her
directions for bringing up her son with an armed force to the lords
of the council, and her newly reconciled enemies. But she might be
betrayed. Still it required some time for Buckingham to send his
servant Percival (though Sir Thomas More vaunts his expedition) to
York, where the Duke of Gloucester then lay;(7) for Percival's
return (it must be observed too that the Duke of Buckingham was in
Wales, consequently did not learn the queen's orders on the spot,
but either received the account from London, or learnt it from
Ludlow); for the two dukes to send instructions to their
confederates in London; for the impression to be made on the queen,
and for her dispatching her counter-orders; for Percival to post
back and meet Gloucester at Nottingham, and for returning thence and
bringing his master Buckingham to meet Richard at Northampton, at
the very time of the king's arrival there. All this might happen,
undoubtedly; and yet who will believe, that such mysterious and
rapid negociations came to the knowledge of Sir Thomas More
twenty-five years afterwards, when, as it will appear, he knew
nothing of very material and public facts that happened at the same

(6) Fabian.

(7) It should be remarked too, that the duke of Gloucester is
positively said to be celebrating his brother's obsequies there. It
not only strikes off part of the term by allowing the necessary time
for the news of king Edward's death to reach York, and for the
preparation to be made there to solemnize a funeral for him; but
this very circumstance takes off from the probability of Richard
having as yett laid any plan for dispossessing his nephew. Would he
have loitered at York at such a crisis, if he had intended to step
into the throne?

But whether the circumstances are true, or whether artfully
imagined, it is certain that the king, with a small force, arrived
at Northampton, and thence proceeded to Stony Stratford. Earl Rivers
remained at Northampton, where he was cajoled by the two dukes till
the time of rest, when the gates of the inn were suddenly locked,
and the earl made prisoner. Early in the morning the two dukes
hastened to Stony Stratford, where, in the king's presence, they
picked a quarrel with his other half-brother, the lord Richard Grey,
accusing him, the marquis Dorset, and their uncle Rivers, of
ambitious and hostile designs, to which ends the marquis had entered
the Tower, taken treasure thence, and sent a force to sea.

"These things," says Sir Thomas, "the dukes knew, were done for good
and necessary purposes, and by appointment of the council; but
somewhat they must say," &c. As Sir Thomas has not been pleased to
specify those purposes, and as in those times at least privy
counsellors were exceedingly complaisant to the ruling powers, he
must allow us to doubt whether the purposes of the queen's relations
were quite so innocent as he would make us believe; and whether the
princes of the blood and the antient nobility had not some reasons
to be jealous that the queen was usurping more power than the laws
had given her. The catastrophe of her whole family so truly deserves
commiseration, that we are apt to shut our eyes to all her weakness
and ill-judged policy; and yet at every step we find how much she
contributed to draw ruin on their heads and her own, by the
confession even of her apologists. The Duke of Gloucester was the
first prince of the blood, the constitution pointed him out as
regent; no will, no disposition of the late king was even alleged to
bar his pretensions; he had served the state with bravery, success,
and fidelity; and the queen herself, who had been insulted by
Clarence, had had no cause to complain of Gloucester. Yet all her
conduct intimated designs of governing by force in the name of her
son.(8) If these facts are impartially stated, and grounded on the
confession of those who inveigh most bitterly against Richard's
memory, let us allow that at least thus far he acted as most princes
would have done in his situation, in a lawless and barbarous age,
and rather instigated by others, than from any before-conceived
ambition and system. If the journeys of Percival are true,
Buckingham was the devil that tempted Richard; and if Richard still
wanted instigation, then it must follow, that he had not murdered
Henry the Sixth, his son, and Clarence, to pave his own way to the
crown. If this fine story of Buckingham and Percival is not true,
what becomes of Sir Thomas More's credit, on which the whole fabric

Lord Richard, Sir Thomas Vaughan, and Sir Richard Hawte, were
arrested, and with Lord Rivers sent prisoners to Pomfret, while the
dukes conducted the king by easy stages to London.

The queen, hearing what had happened took sanctuary at Westminster,
with her other son the duke of York, and the princesses her
daughters. Rotheram, archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor,
repaired to her with the great seal, and endeavoured to comfort her
dismay with the friendly message he had received from Hastings, who
was with the confederate lords on the road. "A woe worth him!" quoth
the queen, "for it is he that goeth about to destroy me and my
blood!" Not a word is said of her suspecting the duke of Gloucester.
The archbishop seems to have been the first who entertained any
suspicion; and yet, if all that our historian says of him is true,
Rotheram was far from being a shrewd man: witness the indiscreet
answer which he is said to have made on this occasion. "Madam,"
quoth he, "be of good comfort, and assure you, if they crown any
other king than your son whom they now have we shall on the morrow
crown his brother, whom you have here with you." Did the silly
prelate think that it would be much consolation to a mother, whose
eldest son might be murthered, that her younger son would be crowned
in prison, or was she to be satisfied with seeing one son entitled
to the crown, and the other enjoying it nominally?

He then delivered the seal to the queen, and as lightly sent for it
back immediately after.

The dukes continued their march, declaring they were bringing the
king to his coronation, Hastings, who seems to have preceded them,
endeavoured to pacify the apprehensions which had been raised in the
people, acquainting them that the arrested lords had been imprisoned
for plotting against the dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham. As both
those princes were of the blood royal,(9) this accusation was not
ill founded, it having evidently been the intention, as I have
shewn, to bar them from any share in the administration, to which,
by the custom of the realm, they were intitled. So much depends on
this foundation, that I shall be excused from enforcing it. The
queen's party were the aggressors; and though that alone would not
justify all the following excesses, yet we must not judge of those
times by the present. Neither the crown nor the great men were
restrained by sober established forms and proceedings as they are at
present; and from the death of Edward the Third, force alone had
dictated. Henry the Fourth had stepped into the throne contrary to
all justice. A title so defective had opened a door to attempts as
violent; and the various innovations introduced in the latter years
of Henry the Sixth had annihilated all ideas of order. Richard duke
of York had been declared successor to the crown during the life of
Henry and of his son prince Edward, and, as appears by the
Parliamentary History, though not noticed by our careless historians
was even appointed prince of Wales. The duke of Clarence had
received much such another declaration in his favour during the
short restoration of Henry. What temptations were these precedents
to an affronted prince! We shall see soon what encouragement they
gave him to examine closely into his nephew's pretensions; and how
imprudent it was in the queen to provoke Gloucester, when her very
existence as queen was liable to strong objections. Nor ought the
subsequent executions of Lord Rivers, Lord Richard Grey, and of Lord
Hastings himself, to be considered in so very strong a light, as
they would appear in, if acted in modern times. During the wars of
York and Lancaster, no forms of trial had been observed. Not only
peers taken in battle had been put to death without process; but
whoever, though not in arms, was made prisoner by the victorious
party, underwent the same fate; as was the case of Tiptoft earl of
Worcester, who had fled and was taken in disguise. Trials had never
been used with any degree of strictness, as at present; and though
Richard was pursued and killed as an usurper, the Solomon that
succeeded him, was not a jot-less a tyrant. Henry the Eighth was
still less of a temper to give greater latitude to the laws. In
fact, little ceremony or judicial proceeding was observed on trials,
till the reign of Elizabeth, who, though decried of late for her
despotism, in order to give some shadow of countenance to the
tyranny of the Stuarts, was the first of our princes, under whom any
gravity or equity was allowed in cases of treason. To judge
impartially therefore, we ought to recall the temper and manners of
the times we read of. It is shocking to eat our enemies: but it is
not so shocking in an Iroquois, as it would be in the king of
Prussia. And this is all I contend for, that the crimes of Richard,
which he really committed, at least which we have reason to believe
he committed, were more the crimes of the age than of the man; and
except these executions of Rivers, Grey, and Hastings, I defy any
body to prove one other of those charged to his account, from any
good authority.

(8) Grafton says, "and in effect every one as he was neerest of
kinne unto the queene, so was he planted nere about the prince,"
p. 761; and again, p. 762, "the duke of Gloucester understanding
that the lordes, which were about the king, entended to bring him up
to his coronation, accompanied with such power of their friendes,
that it should be hard for him, to bring his purpose to passe,
without gatherying and assemble of people, and in maner of open
war," &c. in the same place it appears, that the argument used to
dissuade the queen from employing force, was, that it would be a
breach of the accommodation made by the late king between her
relations and the great lords; and so undoubtedly it was; and though
they are accused of violating the peace, it is plain that the
queen's insincerity had been at least equal to theirs, and that the
infringement of the reconciliation commenced on her side.

(9) Henry duke of Buckingham was the immediate descendant and heir
of Thomas of Woodstock duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of
Edward the Third, as will appear by this table:

Thomas duke of Gloucester
Anne sole daughter and heiress.
--Edmund earl of Stafford.

Humphrey duke of Bucks.

Humphrey lord Stafford

Henry duke of Bucks.

It is plain, that Buckingham was influenced by this nearness to the
crown, for it made him overlook his own alliance with the queen,
whose sister he had married. Henry the Eighth did not overlook the
proximity of blood, when he afterwards put to death the son of this duke.

It is alleged that the partizans of Gloucester strictly guarded the
sanctuary, to prevent farther resort thither; but Sir Thomas
confesses too, that divers lords, knights, and gentlemen, either for
favour of the queen, or for fear of themselves, Assembled companies
and went flocking together in harness. Let us strip this paragraph
of its historic buskins, and it is plain that the queen's party took
up arms.(10) This is no indifferent circumstance. She had plotted to
keep possession of the king, and to govern in his name by force, but
had been outwitted, and her family had been imprisoned for the
attempt. Conscious that she was discovered, perhaps reasonably
alarmed at Gloucester's designs, she had secured herself and her
young children in sanctuary. Necessity rather than law justified her
proceedings, but what excuse can be made for her faction having
recourse to arms? who was authorized, by the tenour of former
reigns, to guard the king's person, till parliament should declare a
regency, but his uncle and the princes of the blood? endeavouring to
establish the queen's authority by force was rebellion against the
laws. I state this minutely, because the fact has never been
attended to; and later historians pass it over, as if Richard had
hurried on the deposition of his nephews without any colour of
decency, and without the least provocation to any of his
proceedings. Hastings is even said to have warned the citizens that
matters were likely to come to a field (to a battle) from the
opposition of the adverse party, though as yet no symptom had
appeared of designs against the king, whom the two dukes were
bringing to his coronation. Nay, it is not probable that Gloucester
had as yet meditated more than securing the regency; for had he had
designs on the crown, would he have weakened his own claim by
assuming the protectorate, which he could not accept but by
acknowledging the title of his nephew? This in truth seems to me to
have been the case. The ambition of the queen and her family alarmed
the princes and the nobility: Gloucester, Buckingham, Hastings, and
many more had checked those attempts. The next step was to secure
the regency: but none of these acts could be done without grievous
provocation to the queen. As soon as her son should come of age, she
might regain her power and the means of revenge. Self-security
prompted the princes and lords to guard against this reverse, and
what was equally dangerous to the queen, the depression of her
fortune called forth and revived all the hatred of her enemies. Her
marriage had given universal offence to the nobility, and been the
source of all the late disturbances and bloodshed. The great earl of
Warwick, provoked at the contempt shewn to him by King Edward while
negotiating a match for him in France, had abandoned him for Henry
the Sixth, whom he had again set on the throne. These calamities
were still fresh in every mind, and no doubt contributed to raise
Gloucester to the throne, which he could not have attained without
almost general concurrence yet if we are to believe historians, he,
Buckingham, the mayor of London, and one Dr. Shaw, operated this
revolution by a sermon and a speech to the people, though the people
would not even give a huzza to the proposal. The change of
government in the rehearsal is not effected more easily by the
physician and gentleman usher, "Do you take this, and I'll seize
t'other chair."

(10) This is confirmed by the chronicle of Croyland, p. 566.

In what manner Richard assumed or was invested with the protectorate
does not appear. Sir Thomas More, speaking of him by that title,
says "the protector which always you must take for the Duke of
Gloucester." Fabian after mentioning the solemn (11) arrival of the
king in London, adds, "Than provisyon was made for the kinge's
coronation; in which pastime (interval) the duke being admitted for
lord protectour." As the parliament was not sitting, this dignity
was no doubt conferred on him by the assent of the lords and privy
council; and as we hear of no opposition, none was probably made. He
was the only person to whom that rank was due; his right could not
and does not seem to have been questioned. The Chronicle of Croyland
corroborates my opinion, saying, "Accepitque dictus Ricardus dux
Glocestriae ilium solennem magistratum, qui duci Humfrido
Glocestriae, stante minore aetate regis Henrici, ut regni protector
appellaretur, olim contingebat. Ea igitur auctoritate usus est, de
consensu & beneplacito omnium dominorum." p. 556.

(11) He was probably eye-witness of that ceremony; for he says, "the
king was of the maior and his citizens met at Harnesey parke, the
maior and his brethren being clothed in scarlet, and the citizens in
violet, to the number of V.C. horses, and than from thence conveyed
unto the citie, the king beynge in blewe velvet, and all his lords
and servauntes in blacke cloth." p. 513.

Thus far therefore it must be allowed that Richard acted no illegal
part, nor discovered more ambition than became him. He had defeated
the queen's innovations, and secured her accomplices. To draw off
our attention from such regular steps, Sir Thomas More has exhausted
all his eloquence and imagination to work up a piteous scene, in
which the queen is made to excite our compassion in the highest
degree, and is furnished by that able pen with strains of pathetic
oratory, which no part of her conduct affords us reason to believe
she possessed. This scene is occasioned by the demand of delivering
up her second son. Cardinal Bourchier archbishop of Canterbury is
the instrument employed by the protector to effect this purpose. The
fact is confirmed by Fabian in his rude and brief manner, and by the
Chronicle of Croyland, and therefore cannot be disputed. But though
the latter author affirms, that force was used to oblige the
cardinal to take that step, he by no means agrees with Sir Thomas
More in the repugnance of the queen to comply, nor in that idle
discussion on the privileges of sanctuaries, on which Sir Thomas has
wasted so many words. On the contrary, the chronicle declares, that
the queen "Verbis gratanter annues, dimisit puerum." The king, who
had been lodged in the palace of the bishop of London, was now
removed with his brother to the Tower.

This last circumstance has not a little contributed to raise horror
in vulgar minds, who of late years have been accustomed to see no
persons of rank lodged in the Tower but state criminals. But in that
age the case was widely different. It not only appears by a map
engraven so late as the reign of Queen Elizabeth, that the Tower was
a royal palace, in which were ranges of buildings called the king's
and queen's apartments, now demolished; but it is a known fact, that
they did often lodge there, especially previous to their
coronations. The queen of Henry the Seventh lay in there: queen
Elizabeth went thither after her triumphant entry into the city; and
many other instances might be produced, but for brevity I omit them,
to come to one of the principal transactions of this dark period: I
mean Richard's assumption of the crown. Sir Thomas More's account of
this extraordinary event is totally improbable, and positively false
in the groundwork of that revolution. He tells us, that Richard
meditating usurpation, divided the lords into two separate councils,
assembling the king's or queen's party at Baynard's castle, but
holding his own private junto at Crosby Place. From the latter he
began with spreading murmurs, whispers, and reports against the
legality of the late king's marriage. Thus far we may credit him--
but what man of common sense can believe, that Richard went so far
as publicly to asperse the honor of his own mother? That mother,
Cecily duchess dowager of York, a princess of a spotless character,
was then living: so were two of her daughters, the duchesses of
Suffolk and Burgundy, Richard's own sisters: one of them, the
duchess of Suffolk walked at his ensuing coronation, and her son the
earl of Lincoln was by Richard himself, after the death of his own
son, declared heir apparent to the crown. Is it, can it be credible,
that Richard actuated a venal preacher(12) to declare to the people
from the pulpit at Paul's cross, that his mother had been an
adultress, and that her two eldest sons,(13) Edward the Fourth and
the duke of Clarence(14) were spurious; and that the good lady had
not given a legitimate child to her husband, but the protector, and
I suppose the duchess of Suffolk, though no mention is said to be
made of her in the sermon? For as the duchess of Suffolk was older
than Richard, and consequently would have been involved in the
charge of bastardy, could he have declared her son his heir, he who
set aside his brother Edward's children for their illegitimacy?
Ladies of the least disputable gallantry generally suffer their
husbands to beget his heir; and if doubts arise on the legitimacy of
their issue, the younger branches seem most liable to suspicion--but
a tale so gross could not have passed even on the mob--no proof, no
presumption of the fact was pretended. Were the duchess(15) and
her daughters silent on so scandalous an insinuation? Agrippina
would scarce have heard it with patience. Moriar modo imperet! said
that empress, in her wild wish of crowning her son: but had he,
unprovoked, aspersed her honour in the open forum, would the mother
have submitted to so unnatural an insult? In Richard's case the
imputation was beyond measure atrocious and absurd. What! taint the
fame of his mother to pave his way to the crown! Who had heard of
her guilt? And if guilty, how came she to stop the career of her
intrigues? But Richard had better pretensions, and had no occasion
to start doubts even on his own legitimacy, which was too much
connected with that of his brothers to be tossed and bandied about
before the multitude. Clarence had been solemnly attainted by act of
parliament, and his children were out of the question. The doubts on
the validity of Edward's marriage were better grounds for Richard's
proceedings than aspersion of his mother's honour. On that
invalidity he claimed the crown, and obtained it; and with such
universal concurrence, that the nation undoubtedly was on his side
--but as he could not deprive his nephews, on that foundation,
without bastardizing their sisters too, no wonder, the historians,
who wrote under the Lancastrian domination, have used all their art
and industry to misrepresent the fact. If the marriage of Edward the
Fourth with the widow Grey was bigamy, and consequently null, what
became of the title of Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry the Seventh?
What became of it? Why a bastard branch of Lancaster, matched with a
bastard of York, were obtruded on the nation as the right heirs of
the crown! and, as far as two negatives can make an affirmative,
they were so.

(12) What should we think of a modern historian, who should sink all
mention of the convention parliament, and only tell us that one Dr.
Burnet got up into the pulpit, and assured the people that Henrietta
Maria (a little more suspected of gallantry than duchess Cecily)
produced Charles the Second, and James the Second in adultry, and
gave no legitimate issue to Charles the First, but Mary princess of
Orange, mother of king William; that the people laughed at him, and
so the prince of Orange became king?

(13) The Earl of Rutland, another son, elder than Richard, had been
murdered at the battle of Wakefield and so was Omitted in that
imaginary accusation.

(14) Clarence is the first who is said to have propogated this
slandour, and it was much more consonant to his levity and indigested
politics, than to the good sense of Richard. We can believe that
Richard renewed this story, especially as he must have altered the
dates of his mother's amours, and made them continue to her
conception of him, as Clarence had made them stop in his own favor?

(15) It appears from Rymer's Foedera, that the very first act of
Richard's reign is dated from quadam altera camera juxta capellam in
hospitio dominae Ceciliae ducissae Eborum. It does not look much as
if he had publicly accused his mother of adultry, when he held his
first council at her house. Among the Harleian MSS. in the Museum,
No. 2236. art. 6. is the following letter from Richard to this very
princess his mother, which is an additional proof of the good terms
on which they lived: "Madam, I recomaunde me to you as hertely as is
to me possible, beseeching you in my most humble and affectuouse
wise of your daly blessing to my synguler comfort and defence in my
nede; and, madam, I hertoly beseche you, that I may often here from
you to my comfort; and suche newes as be here, my servaunt Thomas
Bryan this berer shall showe you, to whom please it you to yeve
credence unto. And, madam, I beseche you to be good and graciouse
lady to my lord my chamberlayn to be your officer in Wiltshire in
suche as Colinbourne had. I trust he shall therein do you good
servyce; and that it plese you, that by this barer I may understande
your pleasur in this behalve. And I praye God send you th'
accomplishement of your noble desires. Written at Pomfret, the
thirde day of Juyn, with the hande of your most humble son,
Richardus Rex."

Buck, whose integrity will more and more appear, affirms that,
before Edward had espoused the lady Grey, he had been contracted to
the lady Eleanor Butler, and married to her by the bishop of Bath.
Sir Thomas More, on the contrary (and here it is that I am
unwillingly obliged to charge that great man with wilful falsehood)
pretends that the duchess of York, his mother, endeavouring to
dissuade him from so disproportionate an alliance, urged him with a
pre-contract to one Elizabeth Lucy, who however, being pressed,
confessed herself his concubine; but denied any marriage. Dr. Shaw
too, the preacher, we are told by the same authority, pleaded from
the pulpit the king's former marriage with Elizabeth Lucy, and the
duke of Buckingham is said to have harangued the people to the same
effect. But now let us see how the case really stood: Elizabeth Lucy
was the daughter of one Wyat of Southampton, a mean gentleman, says
Buck, and the wife of one Lucy, as mean a man as Wyat. The mistress
of Edward she notoriously was; but what if, in Richard's pursuit of
the crown, no question at all was made of this Elizabeth Lucy? We
have the best and most undoubted authorities to assure us, that
Edward's pre-contract or marriage, urged to invalidate his match
with the lady Grey, was with the lady Eleanor Talbot, widow of the
lord Butler of Sudeley, and sister of the earl Shrewsbury, one of
the greatest peers in the kingdom; her mother was the lady Katherine
Stafford, daughter of Humphrey duke of Buckingham, prince of the
blood: an alliance in that age never reckoned unsuitable. Hear the
evidence. Honest Philip de Comines says(16) "that the bishop of Bath
informed Richard, that he had married king Edward to an English
lady; and dit cet evesque qu'il les avoit espouses, & que n'y avoit
que luy & ceux deux." This is not positive, and yet the description
marks out the lady Butler, and not Elizabeth Lucy. But the
Chronicle of Croyland is more express. "Color autem introitus &
captae possessionis hujusmodi is erat. Ostendebatur per modum
supplicationis in quodam rotulo pergameni quod filii Regis Edwardi
erant bastardi, supponendo ilium precontraxisse cum quadam domina
Alienora Boteler, antequam reginam Elizabeth duxisset uxorem;
atque insuper, quod sanguis alterius fratris sui, Georgii ducis
Clarentiae, fuisset attinctus; ita quod hodie nullus certus &
incorruptus sanguis linealis ex parte Richardi ducis Eboraci poterat
inveniri, nisi in persona dicti Richardi ducis Glocestriae. Quo
circa supplicabatur ei in fine ejusdem rotuli, ex parte dominorum &
communitatis regni, ut jus suum in se assumeret." Is this full? Is
this evidence?

(16) Liv. 5, p. 151. In the 6th book, Comines insinuates that the
bishop acted out of revenge for having been imprisoned by Edward: it
might be so; but as Comines had before alledged that the bishop had
actually said he had married them, it might be the truth that the
prelate told out of revenge, and not a lie; nor is it probable that
his tale would have had any weight, if false, and unsupported by
other circumstances.

Here we see the origin of the tale relating to the duchess of York;
nullus certus & incorruptus sangnis: from these mistaken or
perverted words flowed the report of Richard's aspersing his
mother's honour. But as if truth was doomed to emerge, though
stifled for near three hundred years, the roll of parliament is at
length come to light (with other wonderful discoveries) and sets
forth, "that though the three estates which petitioned Richard to
assume the crown were not assembled in form of parliament;" yet it
rehearses the supplication (recorded by the chronicle above) and
declares, "that king Eduard was and stood married and troth plight
to one dame Eleanor Butler, daughter to the earl of Shrewsbury, with
whom the said king Edward had made a pre-contract of matrimony, long
before he made his pretended marriage with Elizabeth Grey." Could
Sir Thomas More be ignorant of this fact? or, if ignorant, where is
his competence as an historian? And how egregiously absurd is his
romance of Richard's assuming the crown inconsequence of Dr. Shaw's
sermon and Buckingham's harangue, to neither of which he pretends
the people assented! Dr. Shaw no doubt tapped the matter to the
people; for Fabian asserts that he durst never shew his face
afterwards; and as Henry the Seventh succeeded so soon, and as the
slanders against Richard increased, that might happen; but it is
evident that the nobility were disposed to call the validity of the
queen's marriage in question, and that Richard was solemnly invited
by the three estates to accept the regal dignity; and that is
farther confirmed by the Chronicle of Croyland, which says, that
Richard having brought together a great force from the north, from
Wales, and other parts, did on the twenty-sixth of June claim the
crown, "seque eodem die apud magnam aulam Westmonasterii in
cathedram marmoream ibi intrusit;" but the supplication
afore-mentioned had first been presented to him. This will no doubt
be called violence and a force laid on the three estates; and yet
that appears by no means to have been the case; for Sir Thomas More,
partial as he was against Richard, says, "that to be sure of all
enemies, he sent for five thousand men out of the north against his
coronation, which came up evil apparelled and worse harnessed, in
rusty harnesse, neither defensable nor scoured to the sale, which
mustured in Finsbury field, to the great disdain of all lookers on."
These rusty companions, despised by the citizens, were not likely to
intimidate a warlike nobility; and had force been used to extort
their assent, Sir Thomas would have been the first to have told us
so. But he suppressed an election that appears to have been
voluntary, and invented a scene, in which, by his own account,
Richard met with nothing but backwardness and silence, that amounted
to a refusal. The probability therefore remains, that the nobility
met Richard's claim at least half-way, from their hatred and
jealousy of the queen's family, and many of them from the conviction
of Edward's pre-contract. Many might concur from provocation at the
attempts that had been made to disturb the due course of law, and
some from apprehension of a minority. This last will appear highly
probable from three striking circumstances that I shall mention
hereafter. The great regularity with which the coronation was
prepared and conducted, and the extraordinary concourse of the
nobility at it, have not all the air of an unwelcome revolution,
accomplished merely by violence. On the contrary, it bore great
resemblance to a much later event, which, being the last of the
kind, we term The Revolution. The three estates of nobility, clergy,
and people, which called Richard to the crown, and whose act was
confirmed by the subsequent parliament, trod the same steps as the
convention did which elected the prince of Orange; both setting
aside an illegal pretender, the legitimacy of whose birth was called
in question. And though the partizans of the Stuarts may exult at my
comparing king William to Richard the Third, it wil be no matter of
triumph, since it appears that Richard's cause was as good as King
William's, and that in both instances it was a free election. The
art used by Sir Thomas More (when he could not deny a pre-contract)
in endeavouring to shift that objection on Elizabeth Lucy, a married
woman, contrary to the specific words of the act of parliament,
betrays the badness of the Lancastrian cause, which would make us
doubt or wonder at the consent of the nobility in giving way to the
act for bastardizing the children of Edward the Fourth. But
reinstate the claim of the lady Butler, which probably was well
known, and conceive the interest that her great relations must have
made to set aside the queen's marriage, nothing appears more natural
than Richard's succession. His usurpation vanishes, and in a few
pages more, I shall shew that his consequential cruelty vanishes
too, or at most is very, problematic: but first I must revert to
some intervening circumstances.

In this whole story nothing is less known to us than the grounds on
which lord Hastings was put to death. He had lived in open enmity
with the queen and her family, and had been but newly reconciled to
her son the marquis Dorset; yet Sir Thomas owns that lord Hastings
was one of the first to abet Richard's proceedings against her, and
concurred in all the protector's measures. We are amazed therefore
to find this lord the first sacrifice under the new government. Sir
Thomas More supposes (and he could only suppose; for whatever
archbishop Morton might tell him of the plots of Henry of Richmond,
Morton was certainly not entrusted with the secrets of Richard) Sir
Thomas, I say, supposes, that Hastings either withstood the
deposition of Edward the Fifth, or was accused of such a design by
Catesby, who was deeply in his confidence; and he owns that the
protector undoubtedly loved him well, and loth he was to have him
lost. What then is the presumption? Is it not, that Hastings really
was plotting to defeat the new settlement contrary to the intention
of the three estates? And who can tell whether the suddenness of the
execution was not the effect of necessity? The gates of the Tower
were shut during that rapid scene; the protector and his adherents
appeared in the first rusty armour that was at hand: but this
circumstance is alledged against them, as an incident contrived to
gain belief, as if they had been in danger of their lives. The
argument is gratis dictum: and as Richard loved Hastings and had
used his ministry, the probability lies on the other side: and it is
more reasonable to believe that Richard acted in self-defence, than
that he exercised a wanton, unnecessary, and disgusting cruelty. The
collateral circumstances introduced by More do but weaken(17) his
account, and take from its probability. I do not mean the silly
recapitulation of silly omens which forewarned Hastings of his fate,
and as omens generally do, to no manner of purpose; but I speak of
the idle accusations put into the mouth of Richard, such as his
baring his withered arm, and imputing it to sorcery, and to his
blending the queen and Jane Shore in the same plot. Cruel or not,
Richard was no fool; and therefore it is highly improbable that he
should lay the withering of his arm on recent witchcraft, if it was
true, as Sir Thomas More pretends, that it never had been otherwise
--but of the blemishes and deformity of his person, I shall have
occasion to speak hereafter. For the other accusation of a league
between Elizabeth and Jane Shore, Sir Thomas More ridicules it
himself, and treats it as highly unlikely. But being unlikely, was
it not more natural for him to think, that it never was urged by
Richard? And though Sir Thomas again draws aside our attention by
the penance of Jane, which she certainly underwent, it is no kind of
proof that the protector accused the queen of having plotted(18)
with mistress Shore. What relates to that unhappy fair one I shall
examine at the end of this work.

Except the proclamation which, Sir Thomas says, appeared to
have been prepared before hand. The death of Hastings, I allow, is
the fact of which we are most sure, without knowing the immediate
motives: we must conclude it was determined on his opposing
Richard's claim: farther we do not know, nor whether that opposition
was made in a legal or hostile manner. It is impossible to believe
that, an hour before his death, he should have exulted in the deaths
of their common enemies, and vaunted, as Sir Thomas More asserts,
his connection with Richard, if he was then actually at variance
with him; nor that Richard should, without provocation, have
massacred so excellent an accomplice. This story, therefore, must be
left in the dark, as we find it.

(18) So far from it, that as Mr. Hume remarks, there is in Rymer's
Foedera a proclamation of Richard, in which he accuses, not the lord
Hastings, but the marquis Dorset, of connexion with Jane Shore. Mr.
Hume thinks so authentic a paper not sufficient to overbalance the
credit due to Sir Thomas More. What little credit was due to him
appears from the course of this work in various and indubitable
instances. The proclamation against the lord Dorset and Jane Shore
is not dated till the 23rd. of October following. Is it credible
that Richard would have made use of this woman's name again, if he
had employed it heretofore to blacken Hastings? It is not probable
that, immediately on the death of the king, she had been taken into
keeping by lord Hastings; but near seven months had elapsed between
that death and her connection with the marquis.

The very day on which Hastings was executed, were beheaded earl
Rivers, Lord Richard Grey, Vaughan, and Haute. These executions are
indubitable; were consonant to the manners and violence of the age;
and perhaps justifiable by that wicked code, state necessity. I have
never pretended to deny them, because I find them fully
authenticated. I have in another(19) place done justice to the
virtues and excellent qualities of earl Rivers: let therefore my
impartiality be believed, when I reject other facts, for which I can
discover no good authority. I can have no interest in Richard's
guilt or innocence; but as Henry the Seventh was so much interested
to represent him as guilty, I cannot help imputing to the greater
usurper, and to the worse tyrant of the two, all that appears to me
to have been calumny and misrepresentation.

(19) In the Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, vol. 1.

All obstacles thus removed, and Richard being solemnly instated in
the throne by the concurrent voice of the three estates, "He
openly," says Sir Thomas More, "took upon him to be king the
ninth(20) day of June, and' the morrow after was proclaimed, riding
to Westminster with great state; and calling the judges before him,
straightly commanded them to execute the laws without favor or
delay, with many good exhortations, of the which he followed not
one." This is an invidious and false accusation. Richard, in his
regal capacity, was an excellent king, and for the short time of his
reign enacted many wise and wholesome laws. I doubt even whether one
of the best proofs of his usurpation was not the goodness of his
government, according to a common remark, that princes of doubtful
titles make the best masters, as it is more necessary for them to
conciliate the favour of the people: the natural corollary from
which observation need not be drawn. Certain it is that in many
parts of the kingdom not poisoned by faction, he was much beloved;
and even after his death the northern counties gave open testimony
of their affection to his memory.

(20) Though I have copied our historian, as the rest have copied
him, in this date I must desire the reader to take notice, that this
very date is another of Sir T. More's errors; for in the public acts
is a deed of Edward the Fifth, dated June 17th.

On the 6th of July Richard was crowned, and soon after set out on a
progress to York, on his way visiting Gloucester, the seat of his
former duchy. And now it is that I must call up the attention of the
reader, the capital and bloody scene of Richard's life being dated
from this progress. The narrative teems with improbabilities and
notorious falshoods, and is flatly contradicted by so many
unquestionable facts, that if we have no other reason to believe the
murder of Edward the Fifth and his brother, than the account
transmitted to us, we shall very much doubt whether they ever were
murdered at all. I will state the account, examine it, and produce
evidence to confute it, and then the reader will form his own
judgment on the matter of fact.

Richard before he left London, had taken no measures to accomplish
the assassination; but on the road "his mind misgave him,(21) that
while his nephews lived, he should not possess the crown with
security. Upon this reflection he dispatched one Richard Greene to
Sir Robert Brakenbury, lieutenant of the Tower, with a letter and
credence also, that the same Sir Robert in any wise should put the
two children to death. This John Greene did his errand to
Brakenbury, kneeling before our Lady in the Tower, who plainly
answered 'that he never would put them to death, to dye therefore.'
Green returned with this answer to the king who was then at Warwick,
wherewith he took such displeasure and thought, that the same night
he said unto a secret page of his, 'Ah! whom shall a man trust? They
that I have brought up myself, they that I thought would have most
surely served me, even those faile me, and at my commandment will do
nothing for me.' 'Sir,' quoth the page 'there lieth one in the palet
chamber without, that I dare say will doe your grace pleasure; the
thing were right hard that he would refuse;' meaning this by James
Tirrel, whom," says Sir Thomas a few pages afterwards, "as men say,
he there made a knight. The man" continues More, "had an high
heart, and sore longed upwards, not rising yet so fast as he had
hoped, being hindered and kept under by Sir Richard Ratcliffe and
Sir William Catesby, who by secret drifts kept him out of all secret
trust." To be short, Tirrel voluntarily accepted the commission,
received warrant to authorise Brakenbury to deliver to him the keys
of the Tower for one night; and having selected two other villains
called Miles Forest and John Dighton, the two latter smothered the
innocent princes in their beds, and then called Tirrel to be witness
of the execution.

(21) Sir T. More.

It is difficult to croud more improbabilities and lies together than
are comprehended in this short narrative. Who can believe if Richard
meditated the murder, that he took no care to sift Brakenbury before
he left London? Who can believe that he would trust so atrocious a
commission to a letter? And who can imagine, that on Brakenbury's(22)
non-compliance Richard would have ordered him to cede the government
of the Tower to Tirrel for one night only, the purpose of which had
been so plainly pointed out by the preceding message? And had such
weak step been taken, could the murder itself have remained a
problem? And yet Sir Thomas More himself is forced to confess at the
outset of this very narration, "that the deaths and final fortunes
of the two young princes have nevertheless so far come in question,
that some remained long in doubt, whether they were in his days
destroyed(23) or no." Very memorable words, and sufficient to
balance More's own testimony with the most sanguine believers. He
adds, "these doubts not only arose from the uncertainty men were in,
whether Perkin Warbeck was the true duke of York, but for that also
all things were so covertly demeaned, that there was nothing so
plain and openly proved, but that yet men had it ever inwardly
suspect." Sir Thomas goes on to affirm, "that he does not relate
the story after every way that he had heard, but after that way that
he had heard it by such men and such meanes as he thought it hard
but it should be true." This affirmation rests on the credibility of
certain reporters, we do not know whom, but who we shall find were
no credible reporters at all: for to proceed to the confutation.
James Tirrel, a man in no secret trust with the king, and kept down
by Catesby and Ratcliffe, is recommended as a proper person by a
nameless page. In the first place Richard was crowned at York (after
this transaction) September 8th. Edward the Fourth had not been
dead four months, and Richard in possession of any power not above
two months, and those very bustling and active: Tirrel must have
been impatient indeed, if the page had had time to observe his
discontent at the superior confidence of Ratcliffe and Catesby. It
happens unluckily too, that great part of the time Ratcliffe was
absent, Sir Thomas More himself telling us that Sir Richard
Ratcliffe had the custody of the prisoners at Pontefract, and
presided at their execution there. But a much more unlucky
circumstance is, that James Tirrel, said to be knighted for this
horrid service, was not only a knight before, but a great or very
considerable officer of the crown; and in that situation had walked
at Richard's preceding coronation. Should I be told that Sir Thomas
Moore did not mean to confine the ill offices done to Tirrel by
Ratcliffe and Catesby solely to the time of Richard's protectorate
and regal power, but being all three attached to him when duke of
Gloucester, the other two might have lessened Tirrel's credit with
the duke even in the preceding reign; then I answer, that Richard's
appointing him master of the horse on his accession had removed
those disgusts, and left the page no room to represent him as ready
through ambition and despondency to lend his ministry to
assassination. Nor indeed was the master, of the horse likely to be
sent to supercede the constable of the Tower for one night only.
That very act was sufficient to point out what Richard desired to,
and did, it seems, transact so covertly.

(22) It appears from the Foedera that Brakenbury was appointed
Constable of the Tower July 7th; that he surrendered his patent
March 9th of the following year, and had one more ample granted to
him. If it is supposed that Richard renewed this patent to Sir
Robert Brakenbury, to prevent his disclosing what he knew of a
murder, in which he had refused to be concerned, I then ask if it is
probable that a man too virtuous or too cautious to embark in an
assassination, and of whom the supposed tyrant stood in awe, would
have laid down his life in that usurper's cause, as Sir Robert did,
being killed on Richard's side at Bosworth, when many other of his
adherents betrayed him?

(23) This is confirmed by Lord Bacon: "Neither wanted there even at
that time secret rumours and whisperings (which afterwards
gathered strength, and turned to great trouble) that the two young
sons of king Edward the Fourth, or one of them (which were said to
be destroyed in the Tower) were not indeed murthered, but conveyed
secretly away, and were yet living." Reign of Henry the Seventh, p. 4.
again, p. 19. "And all this time it was still whispered every where
that at least one of the children of Edward the Fourth was living."

That Sir James Tirrel was and did walk as master of the horse at
Richard's coronation cannot be contested. A most curious,
invaluable, and authentic monument has lately been discovered, the
coronation-roll of Richard the Third. Two several deliveries of
parcels of stuff are there expressly entered, as made to "Sir James
Tirrel, knyght, maister of the hors of our sayd soverayn lorde the
kynge." What now becomes of Sir Thomas More's informers, and of
their narrative, which he thought hard but must be true?

I will go a step farther, and consider the evidence of this murder,
as produced by Henry the Seventh some years afterwards, when,
instead of lamenting it, it was necessary for his majesty to hope it
had been true; at least to hope the people would think so. On the
appearance of Perkin Warbeck, who gave himself out for the second of
the brothers, who was believed so by most people, and at least
feared by the king to be so, he bestirred himself to prove that both
the princes had been murdered by his predecessor. There had been but
three actors, besides Richard who had commanded the execution, and
was dead. These were Sir James Tirrel, Dighton, and Forrest; and
these were all the persons whose depositions Henry pretended to
produce; at least of two of them, for Forrest it seems had rotted
piece-meal away; a kind of death unknown at present to the college.
But there were some others, of whom no notice was taken; as the
nameless page, Greene, one Black Will or Will Slaughter who guarded
the princes, the friar who buried them, and Sir Robert Brakenbury,
who could not be quite ignorant of what had happened: the latter was
killed at Bosworth, and the friar was dead too. But why was no
enquiry made after Greene and the page? Still this silence was not
so impudent as the pretended confession of Dighton and Sir James
Tyrrel. The former certainly did avow the fact, and was suffered to
go unpunished wherever he pleased--undoubtedly that he might spread
the tale. And observe these remarkable words of lord Bacon, "John
Dighton, who it seemeth spake best the king, was forewith set at
liberty." In truth, every step of this pretended discovery, as it
stands in lord Bacon, warns us to give no heed to it. Dighton and
Tirrel agreed both in a tale, as the king gave out. Their confession
therefore was not publickly made, and as Sir James Tirrel was
suffered to live;(24) but was shut up in the Tower, and put to death
afterwards for we know not what reason. What can we believe, but
that Dighton was some low mercenary wretch hired to assume the guilt
of a crime he had not committed, and that Sir James Tirrel never
did, never would confess what he had not done; and was therefore put
out of the way on a fictitious imputation? It must be observed too,
that no inquiry was made into the murder on the accession of Henry
the Seventh, the natural time for it, when the passions of men were
heated, and when the duke of Norfolk, lord Lovel, Catesby,
Ratcliffe, and the real abettors or accomplices of Richard, were
attainted and executed. No mention of such a murder (25)was made in
the very act of parliament that attainted Richard himself, and which
would have been the most heinous aggravation of his crimes. And no
prosecution of the supposed assassins was even thought of till
eleven years afterwards, on the appearance of Perkin Warbeck. Tirrel
is not named in the act of attainder to which I have had recourse;
and such omissions cannot but induce us to surmise that Henry had
never been certain of the deaths of the princes, nor ever interested
himself to prove that both were dead, till he had great reason to
believe that one of them was alive. Let me add, that if the
confessions of Dighton and Tirrel were true, Sir Thomas More had no
occasion to recur to the information of his unknown credible
informers. If those confessions were not true, his informers were
not credible.

(24) It appears by Hall, that Sir James Tirrel had even enjoyed the
favor of Henry; for Tirrel is named as captain of Guards in a list
of valiant officers that were sent by Henry, in his fifth year, on
an expedition into Flanders. Does this look as if Tirrel was so much
as suspected of the murder. And who can believe his pretended
confession afterwards? Sir James was not executed till Henry's
seventeenth year, on suspicion of treason, which suspicion arose on
the flight of the earl of Suffolk. Vide Hall's Chronicle, fol. 18 &

(25) There is a heap of general accusations alledged to have been
committed by Richard against Henry, in particular of his having shed
infant's blood. Was this sufficient specification of the murder of a
king? Is it not rather a base way of insinuating a slander, of which
no proof could be given? Was not it consonant to all Henry's policy
of involving every thing in obscure and general terms?

Having thus disproved the account of the murder, let us now examine
whether we can be sure that the murder was committed.

Of all men it was most incumbent on cardinal Bourchier, archbishop
of Canterbury, to ascertain the fact. To him had the queen entrusted
her younger son, and the prelate had pledged himself for his
security--unless every step of this history is involved in
falshood. Yet what was the behaviour of the archbishop? He appears
not to have made the least inquiry into the reports of the murder of
both children; nay, not even after Richard's death: on the contrary,
Bourchier was the very man who placed the crown on the head of the
latter;(26) and yet not one historian censures this conduct. Threats
and fear could not have dictated this shameless negligence. Every
body knows what was the authority of priests in that age; an
archbishop was sacred, a cardinal inviolable. As Bourchier survived
Richard, was it not incumbant on him to show, that the duke of York
had been assassinated in spite of all his endeavours to save him?
What can be argued from this inactivity of Bourchier,(27) but that
he did not believe the children were murdered.

(26) As cardinal Bourchier set the crown on Richard's head at
Westminster, so did archbishop Rotheram at York. These prelates
either did not believe Richard had murdered his nephews, or were
shamefully complaisant themselves. Yet their characters stand
unimpeached in history. Could Richard be guilty, and the archbishops
be blameless? Could both be ignorant what was become of the young
princes, when both had negotiated with the queen dowager? As neither
is accused of being the creature of Richard, it is probable that
neither of them believed he had taken off his nephews. In the
Foedera there is a pardon passed to the archbishop, which at first
made me suspect that he had taken some part in behalf of the royal
children, as he is pardoned for all murders, treasons, concealments,
misprisons, riots, routs, &c. but this pardon is not only dated
Dec. 13, some months after he had crowned Richard; but, on looking
farther, I find such pardons frequently granted to the most eminent
of the clergy. In the next reign Walter, archbishop of Dublin, is
pardoned all murders, rapes, treasons, felonies, misprisons, riots,
routs, extortions, &c.

(27) Lord Bacon tells us, that "on Simon's and Jude's even, the
king (Henry the Seventh) dined with Thomas Bourchier, archbishop of
Canterburie, and cardinal: and from Lambeth went by land over the
bridge to the Tower." Has not this the appearance of some curiosity
in the king on the subject of the princes, of whose fate he was

Richard's conduct in a parallel case is a strong presumption that
this barbarity was falsely laid to his charge. Edward earl of
Warwick, his nephew, and son of the duke of Clarence, was in his
power too, and no indifferent rival, if king Edward's children were
bastards. Clarence had been attainted; but so had almost every
prince who had aspired to the crown after Richard the Second.
Richard duke of York, the father of Edward the Fourth and Richard
the Third, was son of Richard earl of Cambridge, beheaded for
treason; yet that duke of York held his father's attainder no bar to
his succession. Yet how did Richard the Third treat his nephew and
competitor, the young Warwick? John Rous, a zealous Lancastrian and
contemporary shall inform us: and will at the same time tell us an
important anecdote, maliciously suppressed or ignorantly omitted by
all our historians. Richard actually proclaimed him heir to the
crown after the death of his own son, and ordered him to be served
next to himself and the queen, though he afterwards set him aside,
and confined him to the castle of Sheriff-Hutton.(28) The very day
after the battle of Bosworth, the usurper Richmond was so far from
being led aside from attention to his interest by the glare of his
new-acquired crown, that he sent for the earl of Warwick from
Sheriff-Hutton and committed him to the Tower, from whence he never
stirred more, falling a sacrifice to the inhuman jealousy of Henry,
as his sister, the venerable countess of Salisbury, did afterwards
to that of Henri the Eight. Richard, on the contrary, was very
affectionate to his family: instances appear in his treatment of the
earls of Warwick and Lincoln. The lady Ann Poole, sister of the
latter, Richard had agreed to marry to the prince of Scotland.

(28) P. 218. Rous is the more to be credited for this fact, as he
saw the earl of Warwick in company with Richard at Warwick the year
before on the progress to York, which shows that the king treated
his nephew with kindness, and did not confine him till the plots of
his enemies thickening, Richard found it necessary to secure such as
had any pretensions to the crown. This will account for his
preferring the earl of Lincoln, who, being his sister's son, could
have no prior claim before himself.

The more generous behaviour of Richard to the same young prince
(Warwick) ought to be applied to the case of Edward the Fifth, if no
proof exists of the murder. But what suspicious words are those of
Sir Thomas More, quoted above, and unobserved by all our historians.
"Some remained long in doubt," says he, "whether they (the children)
were in his (Richard's) days destroyed or no." If they were not
destroyed in his days, in whose days were they murdered? Who will
tell me that Henry the Seventh did not find, the eldest at least,
prisoner in the Tower; and if he did, what was there in Henry's
nature or character to prevent our surmizes going farther.

And here let me lament that two of the greatest men in our annals
have prostituted their admirable pens, the one to blacken a great
prince, the other to varnish a pitiful tyrant. I mean the two (29)
chancellors, Sir Thomas More and lord Bacon. The most senseless
stories of the mob are converted to history by the former; the
latter is still more culpable; he has held up to the admiration of
posterity, and what is worse, to the imitation of succeeding
princes, a man whose nearest approach to wisdom was mean cunning;
and has raised into a legislator, a sanguinary, sordid, and
trembling usurper. Henry was a tyrannic husband, and ungrateful
master; he cheated as well as oppressed his subjects,(30) bartered
the honour of the nation for foreign gold, and cut off every branch
of the royal family, to ensure possession to his no title. Had he
had any title, he could claim it but from his mother, and her he set
aside. But of all titles he preferred that of conquest, which, if
allowable in a foreign prince, can never be valid in a native, but
ought to make him the execration of his countrymen.

(29) It is unfortunate, that another great chancellor should have
written a history with the same propensity to misrepresentation, I
mean lord Clarendon. It is hoped no more chancellors will write our
story, till they can divest themselves of that habit of their
profession, apologizing for a bad cause.

(30) "He had no purpose to go through with any warre upon France;
but the truth was, that he did but traffique with that warre to make
his returne in money." Lord Bacon's reign of Henry the Seventh,
p. 99.

There is nothing strained in the supposition of Richard's sparing
his nephew. At least it is certain now, that though he dispossessed,
he undoubtedly treated him at first with indulgence, attention, and
respect; and though the proof I am going to give must have mortified
the friends of the dethroned young prince, yet it shewed great
aversion to cruelty, and was an indication that Richard rather
assumed the crown for a season, than as meaning to detain it always
from his brother's posterity. It is well known that in the Saxon
times nothingwas more common in cases of minority than, for the
uncle to be preferred to the nephew; and though bastardizing his
brother's children was, on this supposition, double dealing; yet I
have no doubt but Richard went so far as to insinuate an intention
of restoring the crown when young Edward should be of full age. I
have three strong proofs of this hypothesis. In the first place Sir
Thomas More reports that the duke of Buckingham in his conversations
with Morton, after his defection from Richard, told the bishop that
the protector's first proposal had been to take the crown, till
Edward his nephew should attain the age of twenty four years. Morton
was certainly competent evidences of these discourses, and therefore
a credible one; and the idea is confirmed by the two other proofs I
alluded to; the second of which was, that Richard's son did not walk
at his father's coronation. Sir Thomas More indeed says that Richard
created him prince of Wales on assuming the crown; but this is one
of Sir Thomas's misrepresentations, and is contradicted by fact, for
Richard did not create his son prince of Wales till he arrived at
York; a circumstance that might lead the people to believe that in
the interval of the two coronations, the latter of which was
celebrated at York, September 8th, the princes were murdered.

But though Richard's son did not walk at his father's coronation,
Edward the Fifth probably did, and this is my third proof. I
conceive all the astonishment of my readers at this assertion, and
yet it is founded on strongly presumptive evidence. In the
coronation roll itself(31) is this amazing entry; "To Lord Edward,
son of late king Edward the Fourth, for his apparel and array, that
is to say, a short gowne made of two yards and three-quarters of
crymsy clothe of gold, lyned with two yards of blac velvet, a long
gowne made of vi yards of crymsyn cloth of gold lynned with six
yards of green damask, a shorte gowne made of two yards of purpell
velvett lyned with two yards of green damask, a doublet and a
stomacher made of two yards of black satin, &c. besides two foot
cloths, a bonnet of purple velvet, nine horse harness, and nine
saddle houses (housings) of blue velvet, gilt spurs, with many other
rich articles, and magnificent apparel for his henchmen or pages."

(31) This singular curiosity was first mentioned to me by the lord
bishop of Carlisle. Mr. Astle lent me an extract of it, with other
usual assistances; and Mr. Chamberlain of the great wardrobe obliged
me with the perusal of the original; favours which I take this
opportunity of gratefully acknowledging.

Let no body tell me that these robes, this magnificence, these
trappings for a cavalcade, were for the use of a prisoner.
Marvellous as the fact is, there can no longer be any doubt but the
deposed young king walked, or it was intended should walk, at his
uncle's coronation. This precious monument, a terrible reproach to
Sir Thomas More and his copyists, who have been silent on so public
an event, exists in the great wardrobe; and is in the highest
preservation; it is written on vellum, and is bound with the
coronation rolls of Henry the Seventh and Eighth. These are written
on paper, and are in worse condition; but that of king Richard is
uncommonly fair, accurate, and ample. It is the account of Peter
Courteys keeper of the great wardrobe, and dates from the day of
king Edward the Fourth his death, to the feast of the purification
in the February of the following year. Peter Courteys specifies what
stuff he found in the wardrobe, what contracts he made for the
ensuing coronation, and the deliveries in consequence. The whole is
couched in the most minute and regular manner, and is preferable to
a thousand vague and interested histories. The concourse of nobility
at that ceremony was extraordinarily great: there were present no
fewer than three duchesses of Norfolk. Has this the air of a forced
and precipitate election? Or does it not indicate a voluntary
concurrence of the nobility? No mention being made in the roll of
the young duke of York, no robes being ordered for him, it looks
extremely as if he was not in Richard's custody; and strengthens the
probability that will appear hereafter, of his having been conveyed

There is another article, rather curious than decisive of any
point of history. One entry is thus; "To the lady Brygitt, oon of
the daughters of K. Edward ivth, being seeke (sick) in the said
wardrobe for to have for her use two long pillows of fustian stuffed
with downe, and two pillow beres of Holland cloth." The only
conjecture that can be formed from this passage is, that the lady
Bridget, being lodged in the great wardrobe, was not then in

Can it be doubted now but that Richard meant to have it thought that
his assumption of the crown was only temporary? But when he
proceeded to bastardize his nephew by act of parliament, then it
became necessary to set him entirely aside: stronger proofs of the
hastardy might have come out; and it is reasonable to infer this,
for on the death of his own son, when Richard had no longer any
reason of family to bar his brother Edward's children, instead of
again calling them to the succession, as he at first projected or
gave out he would, he settled the crown on the issue of his sister,
Suffolk, declaring her eldest son the earl of Lincoln his successor.
That young prince was slain in the battle of Stoke against Henry the
Seventh, and his younger brother the earl of Suffolk, who had fled
to Flanders, was extorted from the archduke Philip, who by contrary
winds had been driven into England. Henry took a solemn oath not to
put him to death; but copying David rather than Solomon he, on his
death bed, recommended it to his son Henry the Eighth to execute
Suffolk; and Henry the Eighth was too pions not to obey so
scriptural an injunction.

Strange as the fact was of Edward the Fifth walking at his
successor's coronation, I have found an event exactly parallel which
happened some years before. It is well known that the famous Joan of
Naples was dethroned and murdered by the man she had chosen for her
heir, Charles Durazzo. Ingratitude and cruelty were the
characteristics of that wretch. He had been brought up and formed by
his uncle Louis king of Hungary, who left only two daughters. Mary
the eldest succeeded and was declared king; for that warlike nation,
who regarded the sex of a word, more than of a person, would not
suffer themselves to be governed by the term queen. Durazzo quitted
Naples in pursuit of new ingratitude; dethroned king Mary, and
obliged her to walk at his coronation; an insult she and her mother
soon revenged by having him assassinated.

I do not doubt but the wickedness of Durazzo will be thought a
proper parallel to Richard's. But parallels prove nothing: and a man
must be a very poor reasoner who thinks he has an advantage over me,
because I dare produce a circumstance that resembles my subject in
the case to which it is applied, and leaves my argument just as
strong as it was before in every other point.

They who the most firmly believe the murder of the two princes, and
from what I have said it is plain that they believe it more strongly
than the age did in which it was pretended to be committed; urge the
disappearance(32) of the princes as a proof of the murder, but that
argument vanishes entirely, at least with regard to one of them, if
Perkin Warbeck was the true duke of York, as I shall show that it is
greatly probable he was.

(32) Polidore Virgil says, "In vulgas fama valuit filios Edwardi
Regis aliquo terrarum partem migrasse, atque ita superstates esse."
And the prior of Croyland, not his continuator, whom I shall quote
in the next note but one, and who was still better informed,
"Vulgatum est Regis Edwardi pueros concessisse in fata, sed quo
genere intentus ignoratur."

With regard to the elder, his disappearance is no kind of proof that
he was murdered: he might die in the Tower. The queen pleaded to the
archbishop of York that both princes were weak and unhealthy. I have
insinuated that it is not impossible but Henry the Seventh might
find him alive in the Tower.(33) I mention that as a bare
possibility--but we may be very sure that if he did find Edward
alive there, he would not have notified his existence, to acquit
Richard and hazard his own crown. The circumstances of the murder
were evidently false, and invented by Henry to discredit Perkin; and
the time of the murder is absolutely a fiction, for it appears by
the roll of parliament which bastardized Edward the Fifth, that he
was then alive, which was seven months after the time assigned by
More for his murder, if Richard spared him seven months, what could
suggest a reason for his murder afterwards? To take him off then was
strengthening the plan of the earl of Richmond, who aimed at the
crown by marrying Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward the Fourth.
As the house of York never rose again, as the reverse of Richard's
fortune deprived him of any friend, and as no contemporaries but
Fabian and the author of the Chronicle have written a word on that
period, and they, too slightly to inform us, it is impossible to
know whether Richard ever took any steps to refute the calumny. But
we do know that Fabian only mentions the deaths of the princes as
reports, which is proof that Richard never declared their deaths, or
the death of either, as he would probably have done if he had
removed them for his own security. The confessions of Sir Thomas
More and lord Bacon that many doubted of the murder, amount to a
violent presumption that they were not murdered: and to a proof that
their deaths were never declared. No man has ever doubted that
Edward the Second, Richard the Second, and Henry the Sixth perished
at the times that were given out. Nor Henry the Fourth, nor Edward
the Fourth thought it would much help their titles to leave it
doubtful whether their competitors existed or not. Observe too, that
the chronicle of Croyland, after relating Richard's second
coronation at York, says, it was advised by some in the sanctuary at
Westminster to convey abroad some of king Edward's daughters, "ut si
quid dictis masculis humanitus in Turri contingerat, nihilominus per
salvandas personas filiarum, regnum aliquando ad veros rediret
haeredes." He says not a word of the princes being murdered, only
urges the fears of their friends that it might happen. This was a
living witness, very bitter against Richard, who still never accuses
him of destroying his nephews, and who speaks of them as living,
after the time in which Sir Thomas More, who was not then five years
old, declared they were dead. Thus the parliament roll and the
chronicle agree, and both contradict More. "Interim & dum haec
agerentur (the coronation at York) remanserunt duo predicti Edwardi
regis filii sub certa deputata, custodia infra Turrim Londoniarum."
These are the express words of the Chronicle, p. 567.

(33) Buck asserts this from the parliament roll. The annotator in
Kennett's collection says, "this author would have done much towards
the credit he drives at in his history, to have specified the place
of the roll and the words thereof, whence such arguments might be
gathered: for," adds he, "all histories relate the murders to be
committed before this time." I have shown that all histories are
reduced to one history, Sir Thomas Moore's; for the rest copy him
verbatim; and I have shown that his account is false and improbable.
As the roll itself is now printed, in the parliamentary history, vol.
2. I will point out the words that imply Edward the Fifth being
alive when the act was passed. "Also it appeareth that all the issue
of the said king Edward be bastards and unable to inherit or claim
any thing by inheritance, by the law and custom of England." Had
Edward the Fifth been dead, would not the act indubitably have run
thus, were and be bastards. No, says the act, all the issue are
bastards. Who were rendered uncapable to inherit but Edward the
Fifth, his brother and sisters? Would not the act have specified the
daughters of Edward the Fourth if the sons had been dead? It was to
bastardise the brothers, that the act was calculated and passed; and
as the words all the issue comprehend male and females, it is clear
that both were intended to be bastardized. I must however,
impartially observe that Philip de Comines says, Richard having
murdered his nephews, degraded their two sisters in full parliament.
I will not dwell on his mistake of mentioning two sisters instead of
five; but it must be remarked, that neither brothers or sisters
being specified in the act, but under the general term of king
Edward's issue, it would naturally strike those who were uncertain
what was become of the sons, that this act was levelled against the
daughters. And as Comines did not write till some years after the
event, he could not help falling into that mistake. For my own part
I know not how to believe that Richard would have passed that act,
if he had murdered the two princes. It was recalling a shocking
crime, and to little purpose; for as no< woman had at that time ever
sat on the English throne in her own right, Richard had little
reason to apprehend the claim of his nieces.

As Richard gained the crown by the illegitimacy of his nephews, his
causing them to be murdered, would not only have shown that he did
not trust to that plea, but would have transferred their claim to
their sisters. And I must not be told that his intended marriage
with his neice is an answer to my argument; for were that imputation
true, which is very problematic, it had nothing to do with the
murder of her brothers. And here the comparison and irrefragability
of dates puts this matter out of all doubt. It was not till the very
close of his reign that Richard is even supposed to have thought of
marrying his neice. The deaths of his nephews are dated in July or
August 1483. His own son did not die till April 1484, nor his queen
till March 1485. He certainly therefore did not mean to strengthen
his title by marrying his neice to the disinherison of his own son;
and having on the loss of that son, declared his nephew the earl of
Lincoln his successor, it is plain that he still trusted to the
illegitimacy of his brother's children: and in no case possibly to
be put, can it be thought that he wished to give strength to the
claim of the princess Elizabeth.

Let us now examine the accusation of his intending to marry that
neice: one of the consequences of which intention is a vague
suspicion of poisoning his wife. Buck says that the queen was in a
languishing condition, and that the physicians declared she could
not hold out till April; and he affirms having seen in the earl of
Arundel's library a letter written in passionate strains of love for
her uncle by Elizabeth to the duke of Norfolk, in which she
expressed doubts that the month of April would never arrive. What is
there in this account that looks like poison; Does it not prove that
Richard would not hasten the death of his queen? The tales of
poisoning for a time certain are now exploded; nor is it in nature
to believe that the princess could be impatient to marry him, if she
knew or thought he had murdered her brothers. Historians tell us
that the queen took much to heart the death of her son, and never
got over it. Had Richard been eager to ned his niece, and had his
character been as impetuously wicked as it is represented, he would
not have let the forward princess wait for the slow decay of her
rival: nor did he think of it till nine months after the death of
his son; which shows it was only to prevent Richmond's marrying her.
His declaring his nephew his successor, implies at the same time no
thought of getting rid of the queen, though he did not expect more
issue from her: and little as Buck's authority is regarded, a
contemporary writer confirms the probability of this story. The
Chronicle of Croyland says, that at the Christmas festival,(34) men
were scandalized at seeing the queen and the lady Elizabeth dressed
in robes similar and equally royal. I should suppose that Richard
learning the projected marriage of Elizabeth and the earl of
Richmond, amused the young princess with the hopes of making her his
queen; and that Richard feared that alliance, is plain from his
sending her to the castle of Sheriff-Hutton on the landing of

(34) "Per haec festa natalia choreis aut tripudiis, variisque
mutatoriis vestium Annae reginae atque dominae Elizabeth,
primogenitae defuncti regis, eisdem colore & forma distributis
nimis intentum est: dictumque a multis est, ipsum regem aut
expectata morte reginae aut per divortium, matrimonio cum dicta
Elizabeth contrahendo mentem omnibus modis applicare," p. 572. If
Richard projected this match at Christmas, he was not likely to let
these intentions be perceived so early, nor to wait till March, if
he did not know that the queen was incurably ill. The Chronicle
says, she died of a languishing distemper. Did that look like
poison? It is scarce necessary to say that a dispensation from the
pope was in that age held so clear a solution of all obstacles to
the marriage of near relations, and was so easily to be obtained or
purchased by a great prince, that Richard would not have been
thought by his contemporaries to have incurred any guilt, even if he
had proposed to wed his neice, which however is far from being clear
to have been his intention.

The behaviour of the queen dowager must also be noticed. She was
stripped by her son-in-law Henry of all her possessions, and
confined to a monastery, for delivering up her daughters to Richard.
Historians too are lavish in their censures on her for consenting to
bestow her daughter on the murderer of her sons and brother. But if
the murder of her sons, is, as we have seen, most uncertain, this
solemn charge falls to the ground: and for the deaths of her
brothers and lord Richard Grey, one of her elder sons, it has
already appeared that she imputed them to Hastings. It is much more
likely that Richard convinced her he had not murdered her sons, than
that she delivered up her daughters to him believing it. The rigour
exercised on her by Henry the Seventh on her countenancing Lambert
Simnel, evidently set up to try the temper of the nation in favour
of some prince of the house of York, is a violent presumption
that the queen dowager believed her second son living: and
notwithstanding all the endeavours of Henry to discredit Perkin
Warbeck, it will remain highly probable that many more who ought to
know the truth, believed so likewise; and that fact I shall examine

It was in the second year of Henry the Seventh that Lambert Simnel
appeared. This youth first personated Richard duke of York, then
Edward earl of Warwick; and was undoubtedly an impostor. Lord Bacon
owns that it was whispered every-where, that at least one of the
children of Edward the Fourth was living. Such whispers prove two
things; one, that the murder was very uncertain: the second, that it
would have been very dangerous to disprove the murder; Henry being
at least as much interested as Richard had been to have the children
dead. Richard had set them aside as bastards, and thence had a title
to the crown; but Henry was himself the issue of a bastard line, and
had no title at all. Faction had set him on the throne, and his
match with the supposed heiress of York induced the nation to wink
at the defect in his own blood. The children of Clarence and of the
duchess of Suffolk were living; so was the young duke of Buckingham,
legitimately sprung from the youngest son of Edward the Third;
whereas Henry came of the spurious stock of John of Gaunt, Lambert
Simnel appeared before Henry had had time to disgust the nation, as
he did afterwards, by his tyranny, cruelty, and exactions. But what
was most remarkable, the queen dowager tampered in this plot. Is it
to be believed, that mere turbulence and a restless spirit could in
a year's time influence that woman to throw the nation again into a
civil war, and attempt to dethrone her own daughter? And in favour
of whom? Of the issue of Clarence, whom she had contributed to have
put to death, or in favour of an impostor? There is not common sense
in the supposition. No; she certainly knew or believed that Richard,
her second son, had escaped and was living, and was glad to overturn
the usurper without risking her child. The plot failed, and the
queen dowager was shut up, where she remained till her death, "in
prison, poverty, and solitude."(35) The king trumped up a silly
accusation of her having delivered her daughters out of sanctuary to
King Richard, "which proceeding," says the noble historian, "being
even at the time taxed for rigorous and undue, makes it very probable
there was some greater matter against her, which the king, upon
reason of policie, and to avoid envy, would not publish." How truth
sometimes escapes fiom the most courtly pens! What interpretation
can be put on these words, but that the king found the queen dowager
was privy to the escape at least or existence of her second son, and
secured her, lest she should bear testimony to the truth, and foment
insurrections in his favour? Lord Bacon adds, "It is likewise no
small argument that there was some secret in it; for that the priest
Simon himself (who set Lambert to work) after he was taken, was
never brought to execution; no, not so much as to publicke triall,
but was only shut up close in a dungeon. Adde to this, that after
the earl of Lincoln (a principal person of the house of York) was
slaine in Stokefield, the king opened himself to some of his
councell, that he was sorie for the earl's death, because by him
(he said) he might have known the bottom of his danger."

(35) Lord Bacon.

The earl of Lincoln had been declared heir to the crown by Richard,
and therefore certainly did not mean to advance Simnel, an impostor,
to it. It will be insinuated, and lord Bacon attributes that motive
to him, that the earl of Lincoln hoped to open a way to the crown
for himself. It might be so; still that will not account for Henry's
wish, that the earl had been saved. On the contrary, one dangerous
competitor was removed by his death; and therefore when Henry wanted
to have learned the bottom of his danger, it is plain he referred to
Richard duke of York, of whose fate he was still in doubt.(36) He
certainly was; why else was it thought dangerous to visit or see the
queen dowager after her imprisonment, as lord Bacon owns it was;
"For that act," continues he, "the king sustained great obliquie;
which nevertheless (besides the reason of state) was somewhat
sweetened to him In a great confiscation." Excellent prince! This is
the man in whose favour Richard the Third is represented as a
monster. "For Lambert, the king would not take his life," continues
Henry's biographer, "both out of magnanimitie" (a most proper
picture of so mean a prince) "and likewise out of wisdom, thinking
that if he suffered death he would be forgotten too soon; but being
kept alive, he would be a continual spectacle, and a kind of remedy
against the like inchantments of people in time to come." What! do
lawful princes live in dread of a possibility of phantoms!(37) Oh!
no; but Henry knew what he had to fear; and he hoped by keeping up
the memory of Simnel's imposture, to discredit the true duke of
York, as another puppet, when ever he should really appear.

(36) The earl of Lincoln assuredly did not mean to blacken his uncle
Richard by whom he had been declared heir to the crown. One should
therefore be glad to know what account he gave of the escape of the
young duke of York. Is it probable that the Earl of Lincoln gave
out, that the elder had been murdered? It is more reasonable to
suppose, that the earl asserted that the child had been conveyed
away by means of the queen dowager or some other friend; and before
I conclude this examination, that I think will appear most probably
to have been the case.

(37) Henry had so great a distrust of his right to the crown in that
in his second year he obtained a bull from pope Innocent to qualify
the privilege of sanctuaries, in which was this remarkable clause,
"That if any took sancturie for case of treason, the king might
appoint him keepers to look to him in sanctuarie." Lord Bacon, p. 39.

That appearance did not happen till some years afterwards, and in
Henry's eleventh year. Lord Bacon has taken infinite pains to prove
a second imposture; and yet owns, "that the king's manner of shewing
things by pieces and by darke lights, hath so muffled it, that it
hath left it almost a mysterie to this day." What has he left a
mystery? and what did he try to muffle? Not the imposture, but the
truth. Had so politic a man any interest to leave the matter
doubtful? Did he try to leave it so? On the contrary, his diligence
to detect the imposture was prodigious. Did he publish his narrative
to obscure or elucidate the transaction? Was it his matter to muffle
any point that he could clear up, especially when it behoved him to
have it cleared? When Lambert Simnel first personated the earl of
Warwick, did not Henry exhibit that poor prince one Sunday
throughout all the principal streets of London? Was he not conducted
to Paul's cross, and openly examined by the nobility? "which did in
effect marre the pageant in Ireland." Was not Lambert himself taken
into Henry's service, and kept in his court for the same purpose? In
short, what did Henry ever muffle and disguise but the truth? and
why was his whole conduct so different in the cases of Lambert and
Perkin, if their cases were not totally different? No doubt remains
in the former; the gross falshoods and contradictions in which
Henry's account of the latter is involved, make it evident that he
himself could never detect the imposture of the latter, if it was
one. Dates, which every historian has neglected, again come to our
aid, and cannot be controverted.

Richard duke of York was born in 1474. Perkin Warbeck was not heard
of before 1495, when duke Richard would have been Twenty-one.
Margaret of York, duchess dowager of Burgundy, and sister of Edward
the Fourth, is said by lord Bacon to have been the Juno who
persecuted the pious Aeneas, Henry, and set up this phantom against
him. She it was, say the historians, and says Lord Bacon, p, 115,
"who informed Perkin of all the circumstances and particulars that
concerned the person of Richard duke of York, which he was to act,
describing unto him the personages, lineaments, and features of the
king and queen, his pretended parents, and of his brother and
sisters, and divers others that were nearest him in his childhood;
together with all passages, some secret, some common that were fit
for a child's memory, until the death of king Edward. Then she added
the particulars of the time, from the king's death; until he and his
brother were committed to the Tower, as well during the time he was
abroad, as while he was in sanctuary. As for the times while he was
in the Tower, and the manner of his brother's death, and his own
escape, she knew they were things that were few could controle: and
therefore she taught him only to tell a smooth and likely tale of
those matters, warning him not to vary from it." Indeed! Margaret
must in truth have been a Juno, a divine power, if she could give
all these instructions to purpose. This passage is, so very
important, the whole story depends so much upon it, that if I can
show the utter impossibility of its being true, Perkin will remain
the true duke of York for any thing we can prove to the contrary;
and for Henry, Sir Thomas More, lord Bacon, and their copyists, it
will be impossible to give any longer credit to their narratives.

I have said that duke Richard was born in 1474. Unfortunately his
aunt Margaret was married out of England in 1467, seven years before
he was born, and never returned thither. Was not she singularly
capable of describing to Perkin, her nephew, whom she had never
seen? How well informed was she of the times of his childhood, and
of all passages relating to his brother and sisters! Oh! but she had
English refugees about her. She must have had many, and those of
most intimate connection with the court, if she and they together
could compose a tolerable story for Perkin, that was to take in the
most minute passages of so many years.(38) Who informed Margaret,
that she might inform Perkin, of what passed in sanctuary? Ay; and
who told her what passed in the Tower? Let the warmest asserter of
the imposture answer that question, and I will give up all I have
said in this work; yes, all. Forest was dead, and the supposed
priest; Sir James Tirrel, and Dighton, were in Henry's hands. Had
they trumpeted about the story of their own guilt and infamy, till
Henry, after Perkin's appearance, found it necessary to publish it?
Sir James Tirrel and Dighton had certainly never gone to the court
of Burgundy to make a merit with Margaret of having murdered her
nephews. How came she to know accurately and authentically a tale
which no mortal else knew? Did Perkin or did he not correspond in
his narrative with Tirrel and Dighton? If he did how was it possible
for him to know it? If he did not, is it morally credible that
Henry would not have made those variations public? If Edward the
Fifth was murdered, and the duke of York saved, Perkin could know it
but by being the latter. If he did not know it, what was so obvious
as his detection? We must allow Perkin to be the true duke of York,
or give up the whole story of Tirrel and Dighton. When Henry had
Perkin, Tirrel, and Dighton, in his power, he had nothing to do but
to confront them, and the imposture was detected. It would not have
been sufficient that Margaret had enjoined him to tell a smooth and
likely tale of those matters, A man does not tell a likely tale, nor
was a likely tale enough, of matters of which he is totally

(38) It would have required half the court of Edward the Fourth to
frame a consistent legend Let us state this in a manner that must
strike our apprehension. The late princess royal was married out of
England, before any of the children of the late prince of Wales were
born. She lived no farther than the Hague; and yet who thinks that
she could have instructed a Dutch lad in so many passages of the
courts of her father and brother, that he would not have been
detected in an hour's time. Twenty-seven years at least had elapsed
since Margaret had been in the court of England. The marquis of
Dorset, the earl of Richmond himself, and most of the fugitives had
taken refuge in Bretagne, not with Margaret; and yet was she so
informed of every trifling story, even those of the nursery, that
she was able to pose Henry himself, and reduce him to invent a tale
that had not a shadow of probability in it. Why did he not convict
Perkin out of his own mouth? Was it ever pretended that Perkin
failed in his part? That was the surest and best proof of his being
an impostor. Could not the whole court, the whole kingdom of
England, so cross-examine this Flemish youth, as to catch him in one
lie? So; lord Bacon's Juno had inspired him with full knowledge of
all that had passed in the last twenty years. If Margaret was Juno,
he who shall answer these questions satisfactorily, "erit mihi
magnus Apollo."

Still farther: why was Perkin never confronted with the queen
dowager, with Henry's own queen, and with the princesses, her
sisters? Why were they never asked, is this your son? Is this your
brother? Was Henry afraid to trust to their natural emotions?--Yet
"he himself," says lord Bacon, p. 186, "saw him sometimes out of a
window, or in passage." This implies that the queens and princesses
never did see him; and yet they surely were the persons who could
best detect the counterfeit, if he had been one. Had the young man
made a voluntary, coherent, and credible confession, no other
evidence of his imposture would be wanted; but failing that, we
cannot help asking, Why the obvious means of detection were not
employed? Those means having been omitted, our suspicions remain in
full force.

Henry, who thus neglected every means of confounding the impostor,
took every step he would have done, if convinced that Perkin was the
true duke of York. His utmost industry was exerted in sifting to the
bottom of the plot, in learning who was engaged in the conspiracy,
and in detaching the chief supporters. It is said, though not
affirmatively that to procure confidence to his spies, he caused
them to be solemnly cursed at Paul's cross. Certain it is, that, by
their information, he came to the knowledge, not of the imposture,
but of what rather tended to prove that Perkin was a genuine
Plantagenet: I mean, such a list of great men actually in his court
and in trust about his person, that no wonder he was seriously
alarmed. Sir Robert Clifford,(39) who had fled to Margaret, wrote to
England, that he was positive that the claimant was the very
identical duke of York, son of Edward the Fourth, whom he had so
often seen, and was perfectly acquainted with. This man, Clifford,
was bribed back to Henry's service; and what was the consequence? He
accused Sir William Stanley, lord Chamberlain, the very man who had
set the crown on Henry's head in Bosworth field, and own brother to
earl of Derby, the then actual husband of Henry's mother, of being
in the conspiracy? This was indeed essential to Henry to know; but
what did it proclaim to the nation? What could stagger the
allegiance of such trust and such connexions, but the firm
persuation that Perkin was the true duke of York? A spirit of
faction and disgust has even in later times hurried men into
treasonable combinations; but however Sir William Stanley might be
dissatisfied, as not thinking himself adequately rewarded, yet is it
credible that he should risk such favour, such riches, as lord Bacon
allows he possessed, on the wild bottom of a Flemish counterfeit?
The lord Fitzwalter and the other great men suffered in the same
cause; and which is remarkable, the first was executed at Calais
--another presumption that Henry would not venture to have his
evidence made public. And the strongest presumption of all is, that
not one of the sufferers is pretended to have recanted; they all
died then in the persuasion that they had engaged in a righteous
cause. When peers, knights of the garter, privy councellors, suffer
death, from conviction of a matter of which they were proper judges,
(for which of them but must know their late master's son?) it would
be rash indeed in us to affirm that they laid down their lives for
an imposture, and died with a lie in their mouths.

(39) A gentleman of fame and family, says lord Bacon.

What can be said against king James of Scotland, who bestowed a lady
of his own blood in marriage on Perkin? At war with Henry, James
would naturally support his rival, whether genuine or suppositious.
He and Charles the Eighth both gave him aid and both gave him up, as
the wind of their interest shifted about. Recent instances of such
conduct have been seen; but what prince has gone so far as to stake
his belief in a doubtful cause, by sacrificing a princess of his own
blood in confirmation of it?

But it is needless to multiply presumptions. Henry's conduct and the
narrative (40) he published, are sufficient to stagger every
impartial reader. Lord Bacon confesses the king did himself no good
by the publication of that narrative, and that mankind was
astonished to find no mention in it of the duchess Margaret's
machinations. But how could lord Bacon stop there? Why did he not
conjecture that there was no proof of that tale? What interest had
Henry to manage a widow of Burgundy? He had applied to the archduke
Philip to banish Perkin: Philip replied, he had no power over the
lands of the duchess's dowry. It is therefore most credible that the
duchess has supported Perkin, on the persuasion he was her nephew;
and Henry not being able to prove the reports he had spread of her
having trained up an impostor, chose to drop all mention of
Margaret, because nothing was so natural as her supporting the heir
of her house. On the contrary, in Perkin's confession, as it was
called, And which though preserved by Grafton, was suppressed by
lord Bacon, not only as repugnant to his lordship's account, but to
common sense, Perkin affirms, that "having sailed to Lisbon in a
ship with the lady Brampton, who, lord Bacon says, was sent by
Margaret to conduct him thither, and from thence have resorted to
Ireland, it was at Cork that they of the town first threaped upon
him that he was son of the duke of Clarence; and others afterwards,
that he was the duke of York." But the contradictions both in lord
Bacon's account, and in Henry's narrative, are irreconcileable and
unsurmountable: the former solves the likeness,(41) which is
allowing the likeness of Perkin to Edward the Fourth, by supposing
that the king had an intrigue with his mother, of which he gives
this silly relation: that Perkin Warbeck, whose surname it seems was
Peter Osbeck, was son of a Flemish converted Jew (of which Hebrew
extraction,(42) Perkin says not a word in his confession) who with
his wife Katherine de Faro come to London on business; and she
producing a son, king Edward, in consideration of the conversion, or
intrigue, stood godfather to the child and gave him the name of
Peter, Can one help laughing at being told that a king called Edward
gave the name of Peter to his godson? But of this transfretation and
christening Perkin, in his supposed confession, says not a word, nor
pretends to have ever set foot in England, till he landed there in
pursuit of the crown; and yet an English birth and some stay, though
in his very childhood, was a better way of accounting for the purity
of his accent, than either of the preposterous tales produced by
lord Bacon or by Henry. The former says, that Perkin, roving up and
down between Antwerp and Tournay and other towns, and living much in
English company, had the English tongue perfect. Henry was so afraid
of not ascertaining a good foundation of Perkin's English accent,
that he makes him learn the language twice over.(43) "Being sent
with a merchant of Turney, called Berlo, to the mart of Antwerp, the
said Berlo set me," says Perkin, "to borde in a skinner's house,
that dwelled beside the house of the English nation. And after this
the said Berlo set me with a merchant of Middleborough to service
for to learne the language,(44) with whom I dwelled from Christmas
to Easter, and then, I went into Portugale." One does not learn any
language very perfectly and with a good, nay, undistinguishable
accent, between Christmas and Easter; but here let us pause. If this
account was true, the other relating to the duchess Margaret was
false; and then how came Perkin by so accurate a knowledge of the
English court, that he did not faulter, nor could be detected in his
tale? If the confession was not true, it remains that it was trumped
up by Henry, and then Perkin must be allowed the true duke of York.

(40) To what degree arbitrary power dares to trifle with the common
sense of mankind has been seen in Portuguese and Russian manifestos.

(41) As this solution of the likeness is not authorized by the
youth's supposed narrative, the likeness remains uncontrovertable,
and consequently another argument for his being king Edward's son.

(42) On the contrary, Perkins calls his grandfather Diryck Osbeck;
Diryck every body knows is Theodoric, and Theodoric is certainly no
Jewish appellation. Perkin too mentions several of his relations and
their employments at Tournay, without any hint of a Hebrew

(43) Grafton's Chronicle, p 930.

(44) I take this to mean the English language, for these reasons; he
had just before named the English nation, and the name of his master
was John Strewe, which seems to be an English appellation: but there
is a stronger reason for believing it means the English language,
which is, that a Flemish lad is not set to learn his own language;
though even this absurdity is advanced in this same pretended
confession, Perkin, affirming that his mother, after he had dwelled
some time in Tournay, sent him to Antwerp to learn Flemish. If I am
told by a very improbable supposition, that French was his native
language at Tournay, that he learned Flemish at Antwerp, and Dutch
at Middleburg, I will desire the objector to cast his eye on the
map, and consider the small distance between Tournay, Middleburg,
and Antwerp, and to reflect that the present United Provinces were
not then divided from the rest of Flanders; and then to decide
whether the dialects spoken at Tournay, Antwerp, and Middleburg were
so different in that age, that it was necessary to be set to learn
them all separately. If this cannot be answered satisfactorily, it
will remain, that Perkin learned Flemish or English twice over. I am
indifferent which, for still there will remain a contradiction in
the confession. And if English is not meant in the passage above, it
will only produce a greater difficulty, which is, that Perkin, at
the age of twenty learned to speak English in Ireland with so good
an accent, that all England could not discover the cheat. I must be
answered too, why lord Bacon rejects the youth's own confession and
substitutes another in its place, which makes Perkin born in
England, though in his pretended confession Perkin affirms the
contrary. Lord Bacon too confirms my interpretation of the passage
in question, by saying that Perkin roved up and down between Antwerp
and other towns in Flanders, living much in English company, and
having the English tongue perfect, p. 115.

But the gross contradiction of all follows: "It was in Ireland,"
says Perkin, in this very narrative and confession, "that against my
will they made me to learne English, and taught me what I should do
and say." Amazing! what forced him to learn English, after, as he
says himself in the very same page, he had learnt it at Antwerp!
What an impudence was there in royal power to dare to obtrude such
stuff on the world! Yet this confession, as it is called, was the
poor young man forced to read at his execution--no doubt in dread of
worse torture. Mr. Hume, though he questions it, owns that it was
believed by torture to have been drawn from him. What matters how it
was obtained, or whether ever obtained; it could not be true: and as
Henry could put together no more plausible account, coommiseration
will shed a tear over a hapless youth, sacrificed to the fury and
jealousy of an usurper, and in all probability the victim of a
tyrant, who has made the world believe that the duke of York,
executed by his own orders, had been previously murdered by his

(45) Mr. Hume, to whose doubts all respect is due, tells me he
thinks no mention being made of Perkin's title in the Cornish
rebellion under the lord Audeley, is a strong presumption that the
nation was not persuaded of his being the true duke of York. This
argument, which at most is negative, seems to me to lose its weight,
when it is remembered, that this was an insurrection occasioned by a
poll-tax: that the rage of the people was directed against
archbishop Morton and Sir Reginald Bray, the supposed authors of the
grievance. An insurrection against a tax in a southern county, in
which no mention is made of a pretender to the crown, is surely not
so forcible a presumption against him, as the persuasion of the
northern counties that he was the true heir, is an argument in his
favour. Much less can it avail against such powerful evidence as I
have shown exists to overturn all that Henry can produce against

I have thus, I flatter myself, from the discovery of new
authorities, from the comparison of dates, from fair consequences
and arguments, and without straining or wresting probability, proved
all I pretended to prove; not an hypothesis of Richard's universal
innocence, but this assertion with which I set out, that we have no
reasons, no authority for believing by far the greater part of the
crimes charged on him. I have convicted historians of partiality,
absurdities, contradictions, and falshoods; and though I have
destroyed their credit, I have ventured to establish no peremptory
conclusion of my own. What did really happen in so dark a period, it
would be rash to affirm. The coronation and parliament rolls have
ascertained a few facts, either totally unknown, or misrepresented
by historians. Time may bring other monuments to light(46) but one
thing is sure, that should any man hereafter presume to repeat the
same improbable tale on no better grounds that it has been hitherto
urged, he must shut his eyes against conviction, and prefer
ridiculous tradition to the scepticism due to most points of
history, and to none more than to that in question.

(46) If diligent search was to be made in the public offices and
convents of the Flemish towns in which the duchess Margaret
resided, I should not despair of new lights being gained to that
part of our history.

I have little more to say, and only on what regards the person of
Richard, and the story of Jane Shore; but having run counter to a
very valuable modern historian and friend of my own, I must both
make some apology for him, and for myself for disagreeing with him.

When Mr. Hume published his reigns of Edward the Fifth, Richard the
Third, and Henry the Seventh, the coronation roll had not come to
light. The stream of historians concurred to make him take this
portion of our story for granted. Buck had been given up as an
advancer of paradoxes, and nobody but Carte had dared to controvert
the popular belief. Mr. Hume treats Carte's doubts as whimsical: I
wonder, he did; he, who having so closely examined our history, had
discovered how very fallible many of its authorities are. Mr. Hume
himself had ventured to contest both the flattering picture drawn of
Edward the First, and those ignominious portraits of Edward the
Second, and Richard the Second. He had discovered from Foedera, that
Edward the Fourth, while said universally to be prisoner to
archbishop Nevil, was at full liberty and doing acts of royal power.
Why was it whimsical in Carte to exercise the same spirit of
criticism? Mr. Hume could not but know how much the characters of
princes are liable to be flattered or misrepresented. It is of
little importance to the world, to Mr. Hume, or to me, whether
Richard's story is fairly told or not: and in this amicable
discussion I have no fear of offending him by disagreeing with him.
His abilities and sagacity do not rest on the shortest reign in our
annals. I shall therefore attempt to give answers to the questions
on which he pins the credibility due to the history of Richard.

The questions are these, 1. Had not the queen-mother and the other
heads of the York party been fully assured of the death of both the
young princes, would they have agreed to call over the earl of
Richmond, the head of the Lancastrian party, and marry him to the
princess Elizabeth?--I answer, that when the queen-mother could
recall that consent, and send to her son the marquis Dorset to quit
Richmond, assuring him of king Richard's favour to him and her
house, it is impossible to' say what so weak and ambitious a woman
would not do. She wanted to have some one of her children on the
throne, in order to recover her own power. She first engaged her
daughter to Richmond and then to Richard. She might not know what
was become of her sons: and yet that is no proof they were murdered.
They were out of her power, whatever was become of them;-and she was
impatient to rule. If she was fully assured of their deaths, could
Henry, after he came to the crown and had married her daughter, be
uncertain of it? I have shown that both Sir Thomas More and lord
Bacon own it remained uncertain, and that Henry's account could not
be true. As to the heads of the Yorkists;(47) how does it appear
they concurred in the projected match? Indeed who were the heads of
that party? Margaret, duchess of Burgundy, Elizabeth duchess of
Suffolk, and her children; did they ever concur in that match? Did
not they to the end endeavour to defeat and overturn it? I hope Mr.
Hume will not call bishop Morton, the duke of Buckingham, and
Margaret countess of Richmond, chiefs of the Yorkists. 2 The story
told constantly by Perkin of his escape is utterly incredible, that
those who were sent to murder his brother, took pity on him and
granted him his liberty.--Answer. We do not know but from Henry's
narrative and the Lancastrian historians that Perkin gave this
account.(48) I am not authorized to believe he did, because I find
no authority for the murder of the elder brother; and if there was,
why is it utterly incredible that the younger should have been
spared? 3. What became of him during the course of seven years from
his supposed death till his appearance in 1491?--Answer. Does
uncertainty of where a man has been, prove his non-identity when he
appears again? When Mr. Hume will answer half the questions in this
work, I will tell him where Perkin was during those seven years. 4.
Why was not the queen-mother, the duchess of Burgundy, and the other
friends of the family applied to, during that time, for his support
and education?--Answer. Who knows that they were not applied to? The
probability is, that they were. The queen's dabbling in the affair
of Simnel indicates that she knew her son was alive. And when the
duchess of Burgundy is accused of setting Perkin to work, it is
amazing that she should be quoted as knowing nothing about him.
5. Though the duchess of Burgundy at last acknowledged him for her
nephew, she had lost all pretence to authority by her former
acknowledgment and support of Lambert Simnel, an avowed impostor.
--Answer. Mr. Hume here makes an unwary confession by distinguishing
between Lambert Simnel, an avowed impostor, and Perkin, whose
impostnre was problematic. But if he was a true prince, the duchess
could only forfeit credit for herself, not for him: nor would her
preparing the way for her nephew, by first playing off and feeling
the ground by a counterfeit, be an imputation on her, but rather a
proof of her wisdom and tenderness. Impostors are easily detected;
as Simnel was. All Henry's art and power could never verify the
cheat of Perkin; and if the latter was astonishingly adroit, the
king was ridiculously clumsy. 6. Perkin himself confessed his
imposture more than once, and read his confession to the people, and
renewed his confession at the foot of the gibbet on which he was
executed.--Answer. I have shown that this confession was such an
aukward forgery that lord Bacon did not dare to quote or adhere to
it, but invented a new story, more specious, but equally
inconsistent with, probability. 7. After Henry the Eighth's
accession, the titles of the houses of York and Lancaster were fully
confounded, and there was no longer any necessity for defending
Henry the Seventh and his title; yet all the historians of that
time, when the events were recent, some of these historians, such as
Sir Thomas More, of the highest authority, agree in treating Perkin
as an impostor.--Answer. When Sir Thomas More wrote, Henry the
Seventh was still alive: that argument therefore falls entirely to
the ground: but there was great necessity, I will not say to defend,
but even to palliate the titles of both Henry the Seventh and
Eighth. The former, all the world agrees now, had no title(49) the
latter had none from his father, and a very defective one from his
mother, If she had any right, it could only be after her brothers;
and it is not to be supposed that so jealous a tyrant as Henry the
Eighth would suffer it to be said that his father and mother enjoyed
the throne to the prejudice of that mother's surviving brother, in
whose blood the father had imbrued his hands. The murder therefore
was to be fixed on Richard the Third, who was to be supposed to have
usurped the throne, by murdering, and not, as was really the case,
by bastardizing his nephews. If they were illegitimate, so was their
sister; and if she was, what title had she conveyed to her son Henry
the Eighth? No wonder that both Henrys were jealous of the earl of
Suffolk, whom one bequeathed to slaughter, and the other executed;
for if the children of Edward the Fourth were spurious, and those of
Clarence attainted, the right of the house of York was vested in the
duchess of Suffolk and her descendants. The massacre of the children
of Clarence and the duchess of Suffolk show what Henry the Eighth
thought of the titles both of his father and mother.(50) But, says
Mr. Hume, all the historians of that time agree in treating Perkin
as an impostor. I have shown from their own mouths that they have
all doubted of it. The reader must judge between us. But Mr. Hume
selects Sir Thomas More as the highest authority; I have proved that
he was the lowest--but not in the case of Perkin, for Sir Thomas
More's history does not go so low; yet happening to mention him, he
says, the man, commonly called Perkin Warbeck, was, as well with the
princes as the people, held to be the younger son of Edward the
Fourth; and that the deaths of the young' king Edward and of Richard
his brother had come so far in question, as some are yet in doubt,
whether they were destroyed or no in the days of king Richard. Sir
Thomas adhered to the affirmative, relying as I have shown on very
bad authorities. But what is a stronger argument ad hominem, I can
prove that Mr. Hume did not think Sir Thomas More good authority;
no, Mr. Hume was a fairer and more impartial judge: at the very time
that he quotes Sir Thomas More, he tacitly rejects his authority;
for Mr. Hume, agreeably to truth, specifies the lady Eleanor Butler
as the person to whom king Edward was contracted, and not Elizabeth
Lucy, as it stands in Sir Thomas More. An attempt to vindicate
Richard will perhaps no longer be thought whimsical, when so very
acute a reasoner as Mr. Hume could find no better foundation than
these seven queries on which to rest his condemnation.

(47) The excessive affection shown by the Northern counties where
the principal strength of the Yorkists lay, to Richard the Third
while living, and to his memory when dead, implies two things;
first, that the party did not give him up to Henry; secondly, that
they did not believe he had murdered his nephews, Tyrants of that
magnitude are not apt to be popular. Examine the list of the chiefs
in Henry's army as stated by the Chronicle of Croyland, p. 574. and
they will be found Lancastrians, or very private gentlemen, and but
one peer, the earl of Oxford, a noted Lancastrian.

(48) Grafton has preserved a ridiculous oration said to be made by
Perkin to the king of Scotland, in which this silly tale is told.
Nothing can be depended upon less than such orations, almost always
forged by the writer, and unpardonable, if they pass the bounds of
truth. Perkin, in the passage in question, uses these words: "And
farther to the entent that my life might be in a suretie he (the
murderer of my elder brother) appointed one to convey me into some
straunge countrie, where, when I was furthest off, and had most
neede of comfort, he forsooke me sodainly (I think he was so
appointed to do) and left me desolate alone without friend or
knowledge of any relief for refuge," &c. Would not one think one was
reading the tale of Valentine and Orson, or a legend of a barbarous
age, rather than the History of England, when we are told of strange
countries and such indefinite ramblings, as would pass only in a
nursery! It remains not only a secret but a doubt, whether the elder
brother was murdered. If Perkin was the younger, and knew certainly
that his brother was put to death, our doubt would vanish: but can
it vanish on no better authority than this foolish oration! Did
Grafton hear it pronounced? Did king James bestow his kinswoman on
Perkin, on the strength of such a fable?

(49) Henry was so reduced to make out any title to the crown, that
he catched even at a quibble. In the act of attainder passed after
his accession, he calls himself nephew of Henry the Sixth. He was so,
but it was by his father, who was not of the blood royal. Catharine
of Valois, after bearing Henry the Sixth, married Owen Tudor, and
had two sons, Edmund and Jasper, the former of which married
Margaret mother of Henry the Seventh, and so was he half nephew of
Henry the Sixth. On one side he had no blood royal, on the other
only bastard blood.

(50) Observe, that when Lord Bacon wrote, there was great
necessity to vindicate the title even of Henry the Seventh, for
James the First claimed from the eldest daughter of Henry and

With regard to the person of Richard, it appears to have been as
much misrepresented as his actions. Philip de Comines, who was very
free spoken even on his own masters, and therefore not likely to
spare a foreigner, mentions the beauty of Edward the Fourth; but
says nothing of the deformity of Richard, though he saw them
together. This is merely negative. The old countess of Desmond, who
had danced with Richard, declared he was the handsomest man in the
room except his brother Edward, and was very well made. But what
shall we say to Dr. Shaw, who in his sermon appealed to the people,
whether Richard was not the express image of his father's person,
who was neither ugly nor deformed? Not all the protector's power
could have kept the muscles of the mob in awe and prevented their
laughing at so ridiculous an apostrophe, had Richard been a little,
crooked, withered, hump-back'd monster, as later historians would
have us believe--and very idly? Cannot a foul soul inhabit a fair

The truth I take to have been this. Richard, who was slender and not
tall, had one shoulder a little higher than the other: a defect, by
the magnifying glasses, of party, by distance of time, and by the
amplification of tradition, easily swelled to shocking deformity;
for falsehood itself generally pays so much respect to truth as to
make it the basis of its superstructures.

I have two reasons for believing Richard was not well made about the
shoulders. Among the drawings which I purchased at Vertue's sale was
one of Richard and his queen, of which nothing is expressed but the
out-lines. There is no intimation from whence the drawing was taken;
but by a collateral direction for the colour of the robe, if not
copied from a picture, it certainly was from some painted 'window;
where existing I do not pretend to say:--in this whole work I have
not gone beyond my vouchers. Richard's face is very comely, and
corresponds singularly with the portrait of him in the preface to
the Royal and Noble Authors. He has a sort of tippet of ermine
doubled about his neck, which seems calculated to disguise some
want of symmetry thereabouts. I have given two prints(51) of this
drawing, which is on large folio paper, that it may lead to a
discovery of the original, if not destroyed.

(51) In the prints, the single head is most exactly copied from the
drawing, which is unfinished. In the double plate, the reduced
likeness of the king could not be so perfectly preserved.

My other authority is John Rous, the antiquary of Warwickshire, who
saw Richard at Warwick in the interval of his two coronations, and
who describes him thus: "Parvae staturae erat, curtam habens faciem,
inaequales humeros, dexter superior, sinisterque inferior." What
feature in this portrait gives any idea of a monster? Or who can
believe that an eyewitness, and so minute a painter, would have
mentioned nothing but the inequality of shoulders, if Richard's form
had been a compound of ugliness? Could a Yorkist have drawn a less
disgusting representation? And yet Rous was a vehement Lancastrian;
and the moment he ceased to have truth before his eyes, gave in to
all the virulence and forgeries of his party, telling us in another
place, "that Richard remained two years in his mother's womb, and
came forth at last with teeth, and hair on his shoulders." I leave
it to the learned in the profession to decide whether women can go
two years with their burden, and produce a living infant; but that
this long pregnancy did not prevent the duchess, his mother, from
bearing afterwards, I can prove; and could we recover the register
of the births of her children, I should not be surprised to find,
that, as she was a very fruitful woman, there was not above a year
between the birth of Richard and his preceding brother Thomas.(52)
However, an ancient bard,(53) who wrote after Richard was born and
during the life of his father, tells us,

Richard liveth yit, but the last of all
Was Ursula, to him whom God list call.

(52) The author I am going to quote, gives us the order in which
the duchess Cecily's children were horn thus; Ann duchess of Exeter,
Henry, Edward the Fourth Edmund earl of Rutland, Elizabeth duchess
of Suffolk, Margaret duchess of Burgundy, William, John, George duke
of Clarence, Thomas, Richard the Third, and Ursula. Cox, Im his
History of Ireland, says, that Clarence was born in 1451. Buck
computed Richard the Third to have fallen at the age of thirty four
or five; but, by Cox's account, he could not be more than thirty
two. Still this makes it provable, that their mother bore them and
their intervening brother Thomas as soon as she well could one after

(53) See Vincent's Errors in Brooks's Heraldry, p. 623.

Be it as it will, this foolish tale, with the circumstances of his
being born with hair and teeth, was coined to intimate how careful
Providence was, when it formed a tyrant, to give due warning of what
was to be expected. And yet these portents were far from
prognosticating a tyrant; for this plain reason, that all other
tyrants have been born without these prognostics. Does it require
more time to ripen a foetus, that is, to prove a destroyer, than it
takes to form an Aristides? Are there outward and visible signs of a
bloody nature? Who was handsomer than Alexander, Augustus, or Louis
the Fourteenth? and yet who ever commanded the spilling of more
human blood.

Having mentioned John Rous, it is necessary I should say something
more of him, as he lived in Richard's time, and even wrote his
reign; and yet I have omitted him in the list of contemporary
writers. The truth is, he was pointed out to me after the preceding
sheets were finished; and upon inspection I found him too despicable
and lying an author, even among monkish authors, to venture to quote
him, but for two facts; for the one of which as he was an
eye-witness, and for the other, as it was of publick notoriety, he
is competent authority.

The first is his description of the person of Richard; the second,
relating to the young earl of Warwick, I have recorded in its place.

This John Rous, so early as in the reign of Edward the Fourth, had
retired to the hermitage of Guy's Cliff, where he was a chantry
priest, and where he spent the remaining part of his life in what
he called studying and writing antiquities. Amongst other works,
most of which are not unfortunately lost, he composed a history of
the kings of England. It Begins with the creation, and is compiled
indiscriminately from the Bible and from monastic writers. Moses, he
tells us, does not mention all the cities founded before the
deluge, but Barnard de Breydenback, dean of Mayence, does. With
the same taste he acquaints us, that, though the book of Genesis
says nothing of the matter, Giraldus Cambrensis writes, that Caphera
or Cesara, Noah's niece, being apprehensive of the deluge, set out
for Ireland, where, with three men and fifty women, she arrived safe
with one ship, the rest perishing in the general destruction.

A history, so happily begun, never falls off: prophecies, omens,
judgements, and religious foundations compose the bulk of the book.
The lives and actions of our monarchs, and the great events of their
reigns, seemed to the author to deserve little place in a history of
England. The lives of Henry the Sixth and Edward the Fourth, though
the author lived under both, take up but two pages in octavo, and
that of Richard the Third, three. We may judge how qualified such an
author was to clear up a period so obscure, or what secrets could
come to his knowledge at Guy's Cliff: accordingly he retails all the
vulgar reports of the times; as that Richard poisoned his wife, and
put his nephews to death, though he owns few knew in what manner;
but as he lays the scene of their deaths before Richard's assumption
of the crown, it is plain he was the worst informed of all. To
Richard he ascribes the death of Henry the Sixth; and adds, that
many persons believed he executed the murder with his own hands: but
he records another circumstance that alone must weaken all suspicion
of Richard's guilt in that transaction. Richard not only caused the
body to be removed from Chertsey, and solemnly interred at Windsor,
but it was publickly exposed, and, if we will believe the monk, was
found almost entire, and emitted a gracious perfume, though no care
had been taken to embalm it. Is it credible that Richard, if the
murderer, would have exhibited this unnecessary mummery, only to
revive the memory of his own guilt? Was it not rather intended to
recall the cruelty of his brother Edward, whose children he had set
aside, and whom by the comparison of this act of piety, he hoped to
depreciate(53) in the eyes of the people? The very example had been
pointed out to him by Henry the Fifth, who bestowed a pompous
funeral on Richard the Second, murdered by order of his father.

(54) This is not a mere random conjecture, but combated by another
instance of like address. He deforested a large circuit, which
Edward had annexed to the forest of Whichwoode, to the great
annoyance of the subject. This we are told by Rous himself, p. 316,

Indeed the devotion of Rous to that Lancastrian saint, Henry the
Sixth, seems chiefly to engross his attention, and yet it draws him
into a contradiction; for having said that the murder of Henry the
Sixth had made Richard detested by all nations who heard of it, he
adds, two pages afterwards, that an embassy arrived at Warwick
(while Richard kept his court there) from the king of Spain,(55) to
propose a marriage between their children. Of this embassy Rous is a
proper witness: Guy's Cliff, I think, is but four miles from
Warwick; and he is too circumstancial on what passed there not to
have been on the spot. In other respects he seems inclined to be
impartial, recording several good and generous acts of Richard.

(55) Drake says, that an ambassador from the queen of Spain was
present at Richard's coronation at York. Rous> himself owns, that,
amidst a great concourse of nobility that attended the king at York,
was the duke of Albany, brother of the king of Scotland. Richard
therefore appears not to hav been abhorred by either the courts of
Spain or Scotland.

But there is one circumstance, which, besides the weakness and
credulity of the man, renders his testimony exceedingly suspicious.
After having said, that, if he may speak truth in Richard's
favour,(56) he must own that, though small in stature and strength,
Richard was a noble knight, and defended himself to the last 'breath
with eminent valour, the monk suddenly turns, and apostrophizes
Henry the Seventh, to whom be had dedicated his work, and whom he
flatters to the best of his poor abilities; but, above all
things, for having bestowed the name of Arthur on his eldest son,
who, this injudicious and over-hasty prophet forsees, will restore
the glory of his great ancestor of the same name. Had Henry
christened his second 'son Merlin, I do not doubt but poor Rous
would have had still more divine visions about Henry the Eighth,
though born to shake half the pillars of credulity.

(56) Attamen si ad ejus honorem veritatem dicam, p. 218.

In short, no reliance can be had on an author of such a frame of
mind, so removed from the scene of action, and so devoted to the
Welsh intruder on the throne. Superadded to this incapacity and
defects, he had prejudices or attachments of a private nature: he
had singular affection for the Beauchamps, earls of Warwick, zealous
Lancastrians, and had written their lives. One capital crime that he
imputes to Richard is the imprisonment of his mother-in-law, Ann
Beauchamp countess of Warwick, mother of his queen. It does seem
that this great lady was very hardly treated; but I have shown from
the Chronicle of Croyland, that it was Edward the Fourth, not
Richard, that stripped her of her possessions. She was widow too of
that turbulent Warwick the King-maker; and Henry the Seventh bore
witness that she was faithfully loyal to Henry the Sixth. Still it
seems extraordinary that the queen did not or could not obtain the
enlargement of her mother. When Henry the Seventh 'attained the
crown, she recovered her liberty 'and vast estates: yet young as his
majesty was both in years and avarice, for this munificence took
place in his third year, still he gave evidence of the falshood and
rapacity of his nature; for though by act of parliament he cancelled
the former act that had deprived her, as against all reason,
conscience, and course of nature, and contrary to the laws of God
and man,(57) and restored her possessions to her, this was but a
farce, and like his wonted hypocrisy; for the very same year he
obliged her to convey the whole estate to him, leaving her nothing
but the manor of Sutton for her maintenance. Richard had married her
daughter; but what claim had Henry to her inheritance? This
attachment of Rous to the house of Beauchamp, and the dedication of
his work to Henry, Would make his testimony most suspicious, even if
he had guarded his work within the rules of probability, and not
rendered it a contemptible legend.

(57) Vide Dugdale's Warckshire in Beauchamp.

Every part of Richard's story is involved in obscurity: we neither
known what natural children he had, nor what became of them.
Stanford says, he had a daughter called Katherine, whom William
Herbert earl of Huntingdon covenanted to marry, and to make her a
fair and sufficient estate of certain of his manors to the yearly
value of 200 pounds over and above all charges. As this lord
received a confirmation of his title from Henry the Seventh, no
doubt the poor young lady would have been sacrificed to that
interest. But Dugdale seems to think she died before the nuptuals
were consummated "whether this marriage took effect or not I cannot
say; for sure it is that she died in her tender years."(58)
Drake(59) affirms, that Richard knighted at York a natural son called
Richard of Gloucester, and supposes it to be the same person of whom
Peck has preserved so extraordinary an account.(60) But never was a
supposition worse grounded. The relation given by the latter of
himself, was, that he never saw the king till the night before the
battle of Bosworth: and that the king had not then acknowledged, but
intended to acknowledge him, if victorious. The deep privacy in
which this person had lived, demonstrates how severely the
persecution had raged against all that were connected with Richard,
and how little truth was to be expected from the writers on the
other side. Nor could Peck's Richard Plantagenet be the same person
with Richard of Gloucester, for the former was never known till he
discovered himself to Sir Thomas More; and Hall says king Richard's
natural son was in the hands of Henry the Seventh. Buck says, that
Richard made his son Richard of Gloucester, captain of Calais; but
it appears from Rymer's Foedera, that Richard's natural son, who was
captain of Calais, was called John. None of these accounts accord
with Peck's; nor, for want of knowing his mother, can we guess why
king Richard was more secret on the birth of this son (if Peck's
Richard Plantagenet was truly so) than on those of his other natural
children. Perhaps the truest remark that can be made on this whole
story is, that the avidity with which our historians swallowed one
gross ill-concocted legend, prevented them from desiring or daring
to sift a single part of it. If crumbs of truth are mingled with it,
at least they are now undistinguishable in such a mass of error and

(58) Baronage, p. 258.

(58) In his History of York.

(59) See his Desiderata Curiosae.

It is evident from the conduct of Shakespeare, that the house of
Tudor retained all their Lancastrian prejudices, even in the reign
of queen Elizabeth. In his play of Richard the Third, he seems to
deduce the woes of the house of York from the curses which queen
Margaret had vented against them; and he could not give that weight
to her curses, without supposing a right in her to utter them. This,
indeed is the authority which I do not pretend to combat.
Shakespeare's immortal scenes will exist, when such poor arguments
as mine are forgotten. Richard at least will be tried and executed
on the stage, when his defence remains on some obscure shelf of a
library. But while these pages may excite the curiosity of a day, it
may not be unentertaining to observe, that there is another of
Shakespeare's plays, that may be ranked among the historic, though
not one of his numerous critics and commentators have discovered the
drift of it; I mean The Winter Evening's Tale, which was certainly
intended (in compliment to queen Elizabeth) as an indirect apology
for her mother Anne Boleyn. The address of the poet appears no where
to more advantage. The subject was too delicate to be exhibited on
the stage without a veil; and it was too recent, and touched the
queen too nearly, for the bard to have ventured so home an allusion
on any other ground than compliment. The unreasonable jealousy of
Leontes, and his violent conduct in consequence, form a true
portrait of Henry the Eighth, who generally made the law the engine
of his boisterous passions. Not only the general plan of the story
is most applicable but several passages are so marked, that they
touch the real history nearer than the fable. Hermione on her trial

. . . . . For honour,
'Tis a derivative from me to mine,
And only that I stand for.

This seems to be taken from the very letter of Anne Boyleyn to the
king before her execution, where she pleads for the infant princess
his daughter. Mamillius, the young prince, an unnecessary character,
dies in his infancy; but it confirms the allusion, as queen Anne,
before Elizabeth, bore a still-born son. But the most striking
passage,' and which had nothing to do in the Tragedy, but as it
pictured Elizabeth, is, where Paulina, describing the new-born
princess, and her likeness to her father, says, she has the very
trick of his frown. There is one sentence indeed so applicable, both
to Elizabeth and her father, that I should suspect the poet inserted
it after her death. Paulina, speaking of the child, tells the king,

. . . . . . 'Tis yours;
And might we lay the old proverb to your charge,
So like you, 'tis the worse.

The Winter Evening's Tale was therefore in reality a second part of
Henry the Eighth.

With regard to Jane Shore, I have already shown that it was her
connection with the marquis Dorset, not with lord Hastings, which
drew on her the resentment of Richard. When an event is thus wrested
to serve the purpose of a party, we ought to be very cautious how we
trust an historian, who is capable of employing truth only as cement
in a fabric of fiction. Sir Thomas More tells us, that Richard
pretended Jane "was of councell with the lord Hastings to destroy
him; and in conclusion, when no colour could fasten upon these
matters, then he layd seriously to her charge what she could not
deny, namely her adultry; and for this cause, as a godly continent
prince, cleane and faultlesse of himself, sent out of heaven into
this vicious world for the amendment of mens manners, he caused the
bishop of London to put her to open penance."

This sarcasm on Richards morals would have had more weight, if the
author had before confined himself to deliver nothing but the
precise truth. He does not seem to be more exact in what relates to
the penance itself. Richard, by his proclamation, taxed mistress
Shore with plotting treason in confederacy with the marquis Dorset.
Consequently, it was not from defect of proof of her being
accomplice with lord Hastings that she was put to open penance. If
Richard had any hand in that sentence, it was, because he had proof
of her plotting with the marquis. But I doubt, and with some reason,
whether her penance was inflicted by Richard. We have seen that he
acknowledged at least two natural children; and Sir Thomas More
hints that Richard was far from being remarkable for his chastity.
Is it therefore probable, that he acted so silly a farce as to make
his brother's mistress do penance? Most of the charges on Richard
are so idle, that instead of being an able and artful usurper, as
his antagonists allow, he must have been a weaker hypocrite than
ever attempted to wrest a sceptre out of the hands of a legal

It is more likely that the churchmen were the authors of Jane's
penance; and that Richard, interested to manage that body, and
provoked by her connection with so capital an enemy as Dorset, might
give her up, and permit the clergy (who probably had burned incense
to her in her prosperity) to revenge his quarrel. My reason for this
opinion is grounded on a letter of Richard extant in the Museum, by
which it appears that the fair, unfortunate, and aimable Jane (for
her virtues far outweighed her frailty) being a prisoner, by
Richard's order, in Ludgate, had captivated the king's solicitor,
who contracted to marry her. Here follows the letter:

Harl. MSS, No. 2378.
By the KING.

"Right reverend fadre in God, &c. Signifying unto you, that it is
shewed unto us, that our servaunt and solicitor, Thomas Lynom,
merveillously blinded and abused with the late wife of William
Shore, now being in Ludgate by oure commandment, hath made contract
of matrymony with hir (as it is said) and entendith, to our full
grete merveile, to precede to th' effect of the same. We for many
causes wold be sory that hee soo shulde be disposed. Pray you
therefore to send for him, and in that ye goodly may, exhorte and
sture hym to the contrarye. And if ye finde him utterly set for to
marye hur, and noen otherwise will be advertised, then (if it may
stand with the lawe of the churche.) We be content (the tyme of
marriage deferred to our comyng next to London,) that upon
sufficient suerite founde of hure good abering, ye doo send for hure
keeper, and discharge him of our said commandment by warrant of
these, committing hur to the rule and guiding of hure fadre, or any
othre by your discretion in the mene season. Yeven, &c.
To the right reverend fadre in God, &c. the bishop of Lincoln, our

It appears from this letter, that Richard thought it indecent for
his sollicitor to mary a woman who had suffered public punishment
for adultery, and who was confined by his command--but where is the
tyrant to be found in this paper? Or, what prince ever spoke of such
a scandal, and what is stronger, of such contempt of his authority,
with so much lenity and temper? He enjoins his chancellor to
dissuade the sollicitor from the match--but should he persist--a
tyrant would have ordered the sollicitor to prison too--but Richard
--Richard, if his servant will not be dissuaded, allows the match;
and in the mean time commits Jane--to whose custody?--Her own
father's. I cannot help thinking that some holy person had been her
persecutor, and not so patient and gentle a king. And I believe so,
because of the salvo for the church: "Let them be married," says
Richard, "if it may stand with the lawe of the churche."

From the proposed marriage, one should at first conclude that Shore,
the former husband of Jane, was dead; but by the king's query,
Whether the marriage would be lawful? and by her being called in the
letter the late wife of William Shore, not of the late William Shore, I
should suppose that her husband was living, and that the penance itself
was the consequence of a suit preferred by him to the ecclesiastic court
for divorce. If the injured husband ventured, on the death of Edward
the Fourth, to petition to be separated from his wife, it was natural
enough for the church to proceed farther, and enjoin her to perform
penance, especially when they fell in with the king's resentment to her.
Richard's proclamation and the letter above-recited seem to point out
this account of Jane's misfortunes; the letter implying, that Richard
doubted whether her divorce was so complete as to leave her at liberty
to take another husband. As we hear no more of the marriage, and as
Jane to her death retained the name of Shore, my solution is
corroborated; the chancellor-bishop, no doubt, going more roundly to
work than the king had done. Nor, however Sir Thomas More reviles
Richard for his cruel usage of mistress Shore, did either of the
succeeding kings redress her wrongs, though she lived to the
eighteenth year of Henry the Eighth, She had sown her good deeds, her
good offices, her alms her charities, in a court. Not one took root; nor
did the ungrateful soil repay her a grain of relief in her penury and
comfortless old age.

I have thus gone through the several accusations against Richard;
and have shown that they rest on the slightest and most suspicious
ground, if they rest on any at all. I have proved that they ought to
be reduced to the sole authorities of Sir Thomas More and Henry the
Seventh; the latter interested to blacken and misrepresent every
action of Richard; and perhaps driven to father on him even his own
crimes. I have proved that More's account cannot be true. I have
shown that the writers, contemporary with Richard, either do not
accuse him, or give their accusations as mere vague and uncertain
reports: and what is as strong, the writers next in date, and who
wrote the earliest after the events are said to have happened,
assert little or nothing from their own information, but adopt the
very words of Sir Thomas More, who was absolutely mistaken or

For the sake of those who have a mind to canvass this subject, I
will recapitulate the most material arguments that tend to disprove
what has been asserted; but as I attempt not to affirm what did
happen in a period that will still remain very obscure, I flatter
myself that I shall not be thought either fantastic or paradoxical,
for not blindly adopting an improbable tale, which our historians
have never given themselves the trouble to examine.

What mistakes I may have made myself, I shall be willing to
acknowledge; what weak reasoning, to give up: but I shall not think
that a long chain of arguments, of proofs and probabilities, is
confuted at once, because some single fact may be found erroneous.
Much less shall I be disposed to take notice of detached or trifling
cavils. The work itself is but an inquiry into a short portion of
our annals. I shall be content, if I have informed or amused my
readers, or thrown any light on so clouded a scene; but I cannot be
of opinion that a period thus distant deserves to take up more time
than I have already bestowed upon it.

It seems then to me to appear,

That Fabian and the authors of the Chronicle of Croyland, who were
contemporaries with Richard, charge him directly with none of the
crimes, since imputed to him, and disculpate him of others.

That John Rous, the third contemporary, could know the facts he
alledges but by hearsay, confounds the dates of them, dedicated his
work to Henry the Seventh, and is an author to whom no credit is
due, from the lies and fables with which his work is stuffed.

That we have no authors who lived near the time, but Lancastrian
authors, who wrote to flatter Henry the Seventh, or who spread the
tales which he invented.

That the murder of prince Edward, son of Henry the Sixth, was
committed by king Edward's servants, and is imputed to Richard by no

That Henry the Sixth was found dead in the Tower; that it was not
known how he came by his death; and that it was against Richard's
interest to murder him.

That the duke of Clarence was defended by Richard; that the
parliament petitioned for his execution; that no author of the time
is so absurd as to charge Richard with being the executioner; and
that king Edward took the deed wholly on himself.

That Richard's stay at York on his brother's death had no appearance
of a design to make himself king.

That the ambition of the queen, who attempted to usurp the
government, contrary to the then established custom of the realm,
gave the first provocation to Richard and the princes of the blood
to assert their rights; and that Richard was solicited by the duke
of Buckingham to vindicate those rights.

That the preparation of an armed force under earl Rivers, the
seizure of the Tower and treasure, and the equipment of a fleet, by
the marquis Dorset, gave occasion to the princes to imprison the
relations of the queen; and that, though they were put to death
without trial (the only cruelty which is proved on Richard) it was
consonant to the manners of that barbarous and turbulent age, and
not till after the queen's party had taken up arms.

That the execution of lord Hastings, who had first engaged with
Richard against the queen, and whom Sir Thomas More confesses
Richard was lothe to lose, can be accounted for by nothing but
absolute necessity, and the law of self-defence.

That Richard's assumption of the protectorate was in every respect
agreeable to the laws and usage; was probably bestowed on him by the
universal consent of the council and peers, and was a strong
indication that he had then no thought of questioning the right of
his nephew.

That the tale of Richard aspersing the chastity of his own mother is
incredible; it appearing that he lived with her in perfect harmony,
and lodged with her in her palace at that very time.

That it is as little credible that Richard gained the crown by a
sermon of Dr. Shaw, and a speech of the duke of Buckingham, if the
people only laughed at those orators.

That there had been a precontract or marriage between Edward the
Fourth and lady Eleanor Talbot; and that Richard's claim to the
crown was founded on the illegitimacy of Edward's children.

That a convention of the nobility, clergy, and people invited him to
accept the crown on that title.

That the ensuing parliament ratified the act of the convention, and
confirmed the bastardy of Edward's children.

That nothing can be more improbable than Richard's having taken no
measures before he left London, to have his nephews murdered, if he
had any such intention.

That the story of Sir James Tirrel, as related by Sir Thomas More,
is a notorious falshood; Sir James Tirrel being at that time master
of the horse, in which capacity he had walked at Richard's

That Tirrel's jealousy of Sir Richard Ratcliffe is another palpable
falshood; Tirrel being already preferred, and Ratcliffe absent.

That all that relates to Sir Robert Brackenbury is no less false:
Brackenbury either being too good a man to die for a tyrant or
murderer, or too bad a man to have refused being his accomplice.

That Sir Thomas More and lord Bacon both confess that many doubted,
whether the two princes were murdered in Richard's days or not; and
it certainly never was proved that they were murdered by Richard's

That Sir Thomas More relied on nameless and uncertain authority;
that it appears by dates and facts that his authorities were bad and
false; that if Sir James Tirrel and Dighton had really committed the
murder and confessed it, and if Perkin Warbeck had made a voluntary,
clear, and probable confession of his imposture, there could have
remained no doubt of the murder.

That Green, the nameless page, and Will Slaughter, having never been
questioned about the murder, there is no reason to believe what is
related of them in the supposed tragedy.

That Sir James Tirrel not being attainted on the death of Richard,
but having, on the contrary, been employed in great services by
Henry the Seventh, it is not probable that he was one of the
murderers. That lord Bacon owning that Tirrel's confession did not
please the king so well as Dighton's; that Tirrel's imprisonment and
execution some years afterwards for a new treason, of which we have
no evidence, and which appears to have been mere suspicion, destroy
all probability of his guilt in the supposed murder of the children.

That the impunity of Dighton, if really guilty, was scandalous; and
can only be accounted for on the supposition of His being a false
witness to serve Henry's cause against Perkin Warbeck.

That the silence of the two archbishops, and Henry's not daring to
specify the murder of the princes in the act of attainder against
Richard, wears all the appearance of their not having been murdered.

That Richard's tenderness and kindness to the earl of Warwick,
proceeding so far as to proclaim him his successor, betrays no
symptom of that cruel nature, which would not stick at assassinating
any competitor.

That it is indubitable that Richard's first idea was to keep the
crown but till Edward the Fifth should attain the age of

That with this view he did not create his own son prince of Wales
till after he had proved the bastardy of his brother's children.

That there is no proof that those children were murdered.

That Richard made, or intended to make, his nephew Edward the Fifth
walk at his coronation.

That there is strong presumption from the parliament-roll and from
the Chronicle of Croyland, that both princes were living some time
after Sir Thomas More fixes the date of their deaths.

That when his own son was dead, Richard was so far from intending to
get rid of his wife that he proclaimed his nephews, first the earl
of Warwick, and then the earl of Lincoln, his heirs apparent.

That there is not the least probability of his having poisoned his
wife, who died of a languishing distemper: that no proof was ever
pretended to be given of it; that a bare supposition of such a
crime, without proofs or very strong presumptions, is scarce ever to
be credited.

That he seems to have had no intention of marrying his niece, but to
have amused her with the hopes of that match, to prevent her
marrying Richmond.

That Buck would not have dared to quote her letter as extant in the
earl of Arundel's library, if it had not been there: that others of
Buck's assertions having been corroborated by subsequent
discoveries, leave no doubt of his veracity on this; and that that
letter disculpates Richard from poisoning his wife; and only shews
the impatience of his niece to be queen.

That it is probable the queen-dowager knew her second son was
living, and connived at the appearance of Lambert Simnel, to feel
the temper of the nation.

That Henry the Seventh certainly thought that she and the earl of
Lincoln were privy to the existence of Richard duke of York, and
that Henry lived in terror of his appearance.

That the different conduct of Henry with regard to Lambert Simnel
and Perkin Warbeck, implies how different an opinion he had of them;
that in the first case, he used natural and most rational methods
prove him an impostor; whereas his whole behaviour in Perkin's case
was mysterious, and betrayed his belief or doubt that Warbeck was
the true duke of York.

That it was morally impossible for the duchess of Burgundy at the
distance of twenty-seven years to instruct a Flemish lad so
perfectly in all that had passed in the court of England, that he
would not have been detected in a few hours.

That she could not inform him, nor could he know, what had passed in
the Tower, unless he was the true duke of York.

That if he was not the true duke of York, Henry had nothing to do
but to confront him with Tirrel and Dighton, and the imposture must
have been discovered.

That Perkin, never being confronted with the queen dowager, and the
princesses her daughters, proves that Henry did not dare to trust to
their acknowledging him.

That if he was not the true duke of York, he might have been
detected by not knowing the queens and princesses, if shown to him
without his being told who they were.

That it is not pretended that Perkin ever failed in language,
accent,'or circumstances; and that his likeness to Edward the Fourth
is allowed.

That there are gross and manifest blunders in his pretended

That Henry was so afraid of not ascertaining a good account of the
purity of his English accent, that he makes him learn English twice

That lord Bacon did not dare to adhere to this ridiculous account;
but forges another, though in reality not much more creditable.

That a number of Henry's best friends, as the lord chamberlain, who
placed the crown on his head, knights of the garter, and men of the
fairest characters, being persuaded that Perkin was the true duke of
York, and dying for that belief, without recanting, makes it very
rash to deny that he was so.

That the proclamation in Rymer's Foedera against Jane Shore, for
plotting with the marquis Dorset, not with lord Hastings, destroys
all the credit of Sir Thomas More, as to what relates to the latter

In short, that Henry's character, as we have received it from his
own apologists, is so much worse and more hateful than Richard's,
that we may well believe Henry invited and propogated by far the
greater part of the slanders against Richard: that Henry, not
Richard, probably put to death the true duke of York, as he did the
earl of Warwick: and that we are not certain whether Edward the
Fifth was murdered; nor, if he was, by whose order he was

After all that has been said, it is scarcely necessary to add a word
on the supposed discovery that was made of the skeletons of the two
young princes, in the reign of Charles the Second. Two skeletons
found in that dark abyss of so many secret transactions, with no
marks to ascertain the time, the age of their interment, can
certainly verify nothing. We must believe both princes died there,
before we can believe that their bones were found there; and upon
what that belief can be founded, or how we shall cease to doubt
whether Perkin Warbeck was not one of those children, I am at a loss
to guess.

As little is it requisite to argue on the grants made by Richard the
Third to his supposed accomplices in that murder, because the
argument will serve either way. It was very natural that they, who
had tasted most of Richard's bounty, should be suspected as the
instruments of his crimes. But till it can be proved that those
crimes were committed, it is in vain to bring evidence to show who
assisted him in perpetrating them. For my own part, I know not what
to think of the death of Edward the Fifth: I can neither entirely
acquit Richard of it, nor condemn him; because there are no proofs
on either side; and though a court of justice would, from that
defect of evidence, absolve him; opinion may fluctuate backward and
forwards, and at last remain in suspense.

For the younger brother, the balance seems to incline greatly on the
side of Perkin Warbeck, as the true duke of York; and if one was
saved, one knows not how nor why to believe that Richard destroyed
only the elder.

We must leave this whole story dark, though not near so dark as we
found it: and it is perhaps as wise to be uncertain on one portion
of our history, as to believe so much as is believed, in all
histories, though very probably as falsely delivered to us, as the
period which we have here been examining.



The following notice, obligingly communicated to me by Mr. Stanley,
came too late to be inserted in the body of the work, and yet ought
not to be omitted.

After the death of Perkin Warbeck, his widow, the lady Catherine
Gordon, daughter of the earl of Huntly, from her exquisite beauty,
and upon account of her husband called The Rose of Scotland, was
married to Sir Matthew Cradock, and is buried with him in Herbert's
isle in Swansea church in Wales, where their tomb is still to be
seen, with this inscription in ancient characters:

"Here lies Sir Mathie Cradock knight, sume time deputie unto the
right honorable Charles Erle of Worcets in the countie of Glamargon.
L. Attor. G. R Chauncelor of the same, steward of Gower and Hilrei,
and mi ladie, Katerin his wife."

They had a daughter Mary, who was married to Sir Edvard Herbert, son
of the first earl of Pembroke, and from that match are descended the
earls of Pembroke and countess of Powis, Hans Stanley, Esq, George
Rice, Esq. &c.

Horace Walpole