Edward V - 1483
The mystery of the fate of Edward V and his brother Richard has never been solved and casts a dark cloud over the reign of Richard III. Richard has always been considered responsible for their disappearance, but largely because of Tudor propaganda; Henry VII is also a suspect.
On the death of their father the two princes went to London in May, expecting Edward to be crowned in June. Arrangements for their residence were made by Richard of Gloucester, the man whose father had been the Protector during their childhood. They were lodged in apartments in the Tower of London and had the freedom of its grounds.
Soon, however, Parliament declared the princes to be illegitimate because, when he had married Elizabeth Woodville, their father had already been betrothed to Lady Eleanor Butler. This was a condition regarded as virtually as binding as a marriage.
Gloucester was then proclaimed King as Richard III. During this time the princes were seen in the gardens of the Tower and then suddenly disappeared. No explanation was forthcoming once Parliament had given its verdict, nor was there much interest in the young princes.
In 1674 the skeletons of two young boys were dug up in the grounds of the Tower, but there was no evidence to show how they had died or the circumstances of their disappearance. Whoever was responsible had covered his or their tracks very well.
In 1933 a further exhumation only confirmed that they were skeletons of young men. Nevertheless the remains were moved and reburied in Westminster Abbey.
Subsequent investigations have cast doubt on Richard Ill's involvement in the affair. He had already been named King by Parliament, and his bad reputation had been created, after his death, largely by the Tudors.
The Tudors wanted to detract from the record of their predecessors, and by William Shakespeare, who like the other playwrights of his time depended on royal and noble patronage. The mystery of the Princes in the Tower remains, therefore, never to be solved.
Key Events during the Reign of Edward V
1483 - Edward IV dies suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 40. He is succeeded by his 12-year-old son Edward V. The Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham join forces at Northampton.
Gloucester takes possession of Edward V at Stony Stratford as his Protector.
Edward and his brother Richard arrive in London in early May and stay with the Bishop of London before moving to royal apartments in the Tower of London.
The two princes are held in the Tower. Bishop Stillington declares that the two boys are illegitimate, invalidating Edward's claim to the throne. Edward V is deposed.
Accession of Richard III; his son Edward is created Duke of Cornwall.
The last sighting of the princes in the grounds of the Tower of London is in September. They are probably murdered around this time.