Tower of LondonMedieval palace, home, fortress and prison. A lead toy soldier from the 1300’s told me it wasn’t strange for children to live at the Tower. Henry VI spent years in the Tower. His presumed murder is marked by a plaque in a lovely bright chapel. It reads “By tradition Henry VI was killed on this spot”. Much different from the dingy cell I imagined. George, duke of Clarence, Richard and Edward’s brother, was imprisoned at the Tower and executed for treason. George had switched sides and fought against his brother, Edward, with Warwick (the Kingmaker) early in Edward IV’s reign. The rumor is that he was drowned in a “butt of malmsey wine.” There’s writing scratched into the walls by various prisoners over the centuries. Prayers. Quotes. Names. Edward IV’s sons, Edward V and Richard (12 and 9 respectively), were placed in the Tower. For protection? For murder? Their illegitimacy was announced by bishop Robert Stillington claiming Edward IV was previously betrothed prior to Queen Elizabeth. Parliament, in 1484, pronounced Richard III king. Guides at the Tower of London point to the second window of the “Bloody Tower” and spookily tell you “That’s the last place the boys were seen before they were killed by their evil uncle, Richard III.” A plaque marks where skeletons of two children were found under stairs in 1674. However, new evidence suggests the skeletons couldn’t have been related to Richard III due to a dental anomaly found on the children’s skulls. If those skeletons weren’t the boys, where did those boys go? And who are those kids?
Childhood & Warwick CastleThe home of Warwick the “Kingmaker.” While Richard lived with Warwick and his family, from around age 12-16 at Middleham Castle, I visited Warwick Castle where he also visited. He met Warwick’s daughters Anne and Isabel at this time. He learned swordplay from Warwick. Edward IV gave Warwick money to do so. During his adolescence Richard also developed scoliosis. How painful was it and who knew of it? Adolescence is tough already. I imagine Richard must have looked up to Warwick- close ally of his father, Richard of York, and warrior who made his brother king. Warwick may have had plans for Richard and George to marry his daughters once Edward was crowned king. George married Isabel and joined sides with his new father-in-law, Warwick, in a revolt against Edward to put Henry VI back on the throne. What would it have done to Richard to discover Warwick and George were betraying his brother? At 16, he joined the armies fighting on Edward’s behalf. Warwick married Anne to Henry VI’s and Margaret’s son, Prince Edward.
The Bones!The extraordinary discovery of Richard’s skeletal remains in a car park in 2014, illuminated so much about the actual man. Scientist’s discovered:
- His scoliosis, while dramatic to look at, probably was hidden by his clothing. One shoulder may have looked a little higher. Likely, only people intimate with Richard would know about it.
- Richard would have stood about 5’8” tall, but his scoliosis made him appear much shorter.
- Richard had thin, “gracile bones” that would have looked more “delicate or feminine”.