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« on: November 22, 2023, 03:22:59 PM »

Dutch archive piece sheds new light on Shakespeare's prince murder

Loosely translated as:

NOS News

Monday, 7:38 PM

Dutch archive piece sheds new light on Shakespeare's prince murder

Fleur Launspach
UK and Ireland correspondent

For centuries, no one knew what happened to the two princes in the Tower of London. Rumor has it that both boys, Edward (12) and Richard (9), were murdered by their uncle Richard III. He is said to have murdered the sons of the previous king, his brother Edward IV, to strengthen his own claim to the throne.

The two boys disappeared from history in 1483, after being taken to the Tower of London. A common theory, dramatized by Shakespeare, is that they were suffocated with their bed pillows in the dead of night on their uncle's orders.

Historian Philippa Langley - who also found the skeleton of Richard III under a car park in Leicester - launched her book and a documentary this weekend claiming something very different.

The two famous princes are said not to have been murdered at all, but rather taken to safety elsewhere in Europe. This would mean that the skeletons found under a staircase in the Tower in the 17th century are not those of the two boys at all.

Those bones - buried in a stately tomb in Westminster Abbey - have never been tested for DNA and requests to do so have been rejected by Buckingham Palace and the Church of England.

Smuggled away shaved
In her new research, Langley claims that the princes were housed separately in Europe and years later tried to retake the English throne. She bases her findings on documents found by researchers in European archives. The main archive documents were found by Dutch researchers: the Dutch Research Group, which includes Jean Roefstra, Nathalie Nijman-Bliekendaal and Zo Maula.

One of the archive documents is said to be a witness statement, found in the Gelderse Archives. In it, the youngest prince, Richard of York, is said to describe in detail how he was smuggled out of the Tower at the age of 9. Experts have determined that the document was indeed written in the correct period.

"I was secretly taken to a room where the lions were kept," the statement said. "Lord Howard came to me and encouraged me. He ordered the guards to leave and then brought two other men to me. Their names were Henry Percy and Thomas Percy."

The letter continues: "They solemnly swore that they would protect and hide me until several years were over. They shaved my hair and put on me a shabby and dull shirt and we went to St. Katharine's [ship's dock]."

The prince, with his head shaved, dressed in unrecognizable clothing, left by ship for Boulogne-sur-Mer and later traveled to Portugal. When he came out, he was said to have been recognized by relatives in European courts based on certain physical characteristics.

Expedition from Texel
Another document, from an archive in Dresden, promises to repay 30,000 florins once the prince invades England to reclaim the throne. The fleet was assembled in Zeeland, but left Texel. This is supported by various documents found in archives by the Dutch research group.

Richard of York's invasion failed. He was defeated and captured by Henry Tudor. According to Langley, the newly found documents prove that he was forced to sign a false statement under the name Perkin Warbeck in the Tower of London. He was hanged in 1499.

Another French archive document from 1487 records the payment of weapons for elite troops for Edward, the elder of the two princelings. He would have needed those weapons to reclaim the English throne at the Battle of Stoke Field. He was also defeated and went down in history under an assumed name, as Lambert Simnel.

These false identities fit into the Tudor narrative, which maintained that these young pretenders to the throne (who had disappeared in 1483) were no longer alive. According to Philippa Langley, the unearthed archive documents show the real life story of the disappeared princes.

Despite the new plays, some historians still believe in the famous, dramatized story that Shakespeare wrote about a hundred years later, in which the boys were put to death by order of their hunchbacked, bloodthirsty uncle.

Langley emphasizes that history is written by the victors. According to her, there is every reason to doubt that story.
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