-Summer 1483, the Tower of London.
[ Suspenseful music plays ] Two young boys are about to become victims of one of the greatest unsolved crimes of British history.
The nation is in the grip of the Wars of the Roses.
The king is dead.
His 12-year old son is about to be crowned.
But instead, the story goes, he and his younger brother are murdered in their beds.
This mystery will endure.
What really happened to the princes in the tower?
In this series, I'm reinvestigating some of the most dramatic and brutal chapters in British history.
It wasn't just one generation.
It was three generations losing their lives -- bam, bam, bam.
These stories are epic and legendary, and they all have fascinating mysteries at their heart.
It's chilling to think that this could actually be evidence in a murder investigation.
I want to look at them from a fresh and modern perspective to see if I can unlock their secrets.
It's a horrible psychosexual form of torture, this, isn't it?
-By uncovering forgotten witnesses, re-examining old evidence, and following new clues, can I get closer to the truth?
-It is one of the great British mysteries.
-It was one of those moments, I'm afraid, for a historian, that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
[ Bird cawing ] ♪♪ -"Lucy Worsley Investigates" was made possible in part by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] -The story of the princes in the tower is like a fairy tale.
Two innocent boys murdered by their evil Uncle Richard so he could seize the throne for himself.
Five hundred years ago, it was in this very building that the two young princes, Edward and Richard, were last seen alive.
After that, they disappear from the historical record.
I'd like to know if they were murdered and, if so, who was responsible.
♪♪ [ Up-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ As a historian, royal history is my specialty.
And Richard III is one of the most notorious kings in British history, even though he only reigned for two years.
Shakespeare portrayed him as cunning, evil, and hungry for power.
-Beyond reasonable doubt, the individual exhumed in September 2012 is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.
-But the discovery of his skeleton under a car park in the city of Leicester in 2012 fueled a campaign to restore his reputation.
He was buried in Leicester Cathedral with stately ceremony.
-Here in a cathedral, history meets the present.
-I find that there's something rather awkward being glossed over here in this celebration of Richard III.
Yes, he was king for two years.
But to get there, a lot of people will tell you that he murdered his own nephews.
And they were just children.
So although facts about them are hard to come by, it's the story of the princes that I want to explore and reclaim.
[ Mid-tempo music plays ] The princes, Edward and Richard, were just 12 and 9 when they were supposedly killed.
To piece together their story, I think I need to try to get beyond my preconceptions.
And like a lot of people, when you say the words "the princes in the tower," what comes into my mind is this image.
It's by the Victorian painter John Everett Millais, and it shows the little boys in the last moments of their lives, just before they're going to be killed.
It's a painting that tugs at the heartstrings.
But really, it's a painting about Victorian values and about the innocence of childhood.
Millais shows them as archetypes in a fairy tale, and it really has very little relationship to the historical truth.
[ Mid-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ To discover who these royal boys really were, I need to understand the world in which they lived.
They were born into one of the most violent periods of British history... ...the Wars of the Roses, a decades-long battle over the English throne between two sides of the royal family -- the Lancasters and the Yorks.
It had already taken a bloody toll when Yorkist side finally won the throne and Edward IV became king.
Edward was ruthless.
He murdered his own brother George for betraying him, but Richard he made Duke of Gloucester giving him power in the north of England.
The princes' father, Edward IV, was a notorious philanderer.
And on top of that, nobody liked his wife.
As king, he was supposed to have married a virginal foreign princess to forge a new international alliance for England.
And instead, he'd married Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of a Lancastrian.
The English nobility are jealous that the Woodvilles got riches and titles.
For her part, Elizabeth Woodville did keep the bargain.
She gave the king what she was supposed to do -- 10 children, including two all-important surviving male heirs.
So this is the backdrop against which the princes are born -- the Wars of the Roses, an unpopular, powerful mother.
The stage is set for scenes of high drama.
[ Mid-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ From the moment of his birth, the eldest prince, Edward, was destined to inherit the throne and ensure the York family stayed in power.
In the cutthroat climate of the Wars of the Roses, he offered hope for stability and healing.
He was extremely valuable but equally vulnerable.
This is where young Edward grew up, in his very own castle.
Most sons of the rich and powerful were sent away from the age of 7 to learn how to be successful noblemen.
Prince Edward was moved here, to Ludlow, in the county of Shropshire, at just 3.
His whole household was dedicated to protecting him and preparing him to one day rule the kingdom.
Though few records survive, I've tracked down a document which shows how important he was.
Here are the records of things that were paid out for his wardrobe.
Here a payment is made for the making of a long gown of crimson velvet.
There's a payment here for the doublet of black velvet, furred with a tawny fox.
Here he's had -- I think that's a jacket made out of cloth of gold.
This is expensive stuff.
This shows that Edward, at least, is no ordinary child.
[ Mid-tempo music plays ] In the eyes of the church in medieval England, you were a child until the age of 14.
At that point, a girl should be ready to marry and bear children, a boy to fight and die in battle.
For Edward, it meant being ready to be king.
-[ Speaking Latin ] -His father, Edward IV, gave the important task of schooling his son to the queen's brother, Anthony Woodville.
[ Fire crackling ] -Your master.
[ Speaking Latin ] -I love that feeling of walking where he must have walked.
He was here.
[ Birds chirping ] I wonder what it was like for young Edward growing up here, away from his parents and his younger brother, Richard, destined for a future he couldn't escape.
I only know of one biography of Prince Edward's short life.
-Nice to see you.
-Very pleased to meet you.
Got your own book there.
-[ Laughs ] Fantastic.
Given that Edward was 3 when he came to live here with Anthony Woodville, is it fair to say that Woodville was probably more of a father figure to him than his actual father?
-Yes, I think he probably was.
He was not just a distant overseer.
He was always in the household with the prince.
-And you've been able to re-create his time here.
What was it like?
-Well, we know Edward IV wrote a set of ordinances for the household which regulated the prince's timetable.
-So, "He shall arise every morning at a convenient hour."
-Which was 6:00.
-That's not very convenient in my view.
[ Laughs ] It says here that little Edward is going to have his breakfast "immediately after his Mass."
He's going to spend the day "in virtuous learning."
So this sounds like a very formal, structured, rigorous way of life.
Sounds like a little king, really.
And then Edward ordained that "no person -- man nor woman --" may be "a customary swearer, brawler, backbiter, or use words of ribaldry in the presence of our said son."
-I like it that they explicitly say no swearing in the prince's presence.
-And then, after lunch, he has disports.
Now, that doesn't really mean leisure, does it?
It means athletic activity.
Riding and hawking and fighting.
-And this is training to be a warrior.
He had a special set of armor which was made for him.
-His father was first in battle at 13.
Is that right?
-This is clearly not a normal upbringing even at the time.
It's just hard to imagine a little boy having all of this expectation placed upon him.
-He had a dozen years or more when he mattered and was politically significant.
He knew what he was going to be.
He was a prince expecting to become a king, and his future was set out.
-Michael, what's your view?
Do you think that Richard III is guilty or not?
Of course he's guilty.
[ Both laugh ] [ Down-tempo music plays ] [ Birds chirping ] -One of the fascinating things about this chapter of history is just how fragmentary the sources are.
There's very little in the way of hard evidence.
But there is this.
It's an account by Dominic Mancini, an Italian scholar who was visiting England.
And this is pretty close to an eyewitness description of the events of 1483, the summer that the princes disappeared.
Now, the original of Mancini's work is in a library in France.
It's pretty amazing.
It's also amazing to think that this document was only discovered in the 1930s.
Imagine the thrill of coming across that.
This is the original Latin.
It's been written out by a scribe, and Mancini has put some little notes of his own in the margin.
Mancini actually met the 12-year-old Edward, and he clearly saw he had the potential to be a great king.
"In word and deed he gave so many proofs of polite..." -...nay rather scholarly, attainments far beyond his age.
He had such dignity in his whole person and in his face such charm that however much they might gaze, he never wearied the eyes of beholders.
-Because Mancini was a foreigner and because he wasn't that close to the main players, I think that he has a bit of distance upon events and perhaps, therefore, some integrity.
And I think it is a source that's worth taking seriously.
Mancini describes the extraordinary events of the summer of 1483, when Edward's life is suddenly thrown into turmoil.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ Everything had been about preparing him for this moment.
But it came sooner, I think, than anyone was expecting.
-Give it to me.
-On the 9th of April 1483, King Edward IV dies suddenly after a short illness.
-God save the king.
Long live the king.
-All eyes turn to his eldest son, who's now King Edward V. [ Bells tolling ] ♪♪ A few years later, Edward would have been seen as an adult, and this story would be very different.
But he's just 12 when he suddenly becomes king of England.
♪♪ Now, in medieval England, the government is a personal monarchy.
Everything revolves around the king.
I think of him as being like the sun in a solar system and all the other nobles are like the planets, circling around him, vying for favors.
But there's a big flaw in this system of government, and that's when the king dies and we have this moment of succession.
A power vacuum opened up.
It's like it's the moment of the greatest danger.
And when Edward IV dies, it's a really big problem, because little Edward, his son, is only 12.
He can be on the throne, but he can't really make decisions.
Someone's got to advise him.
And into this power vacuum step all the members of the council, the late king's advisers.
They're looking around at each other and sizing each other up because they know whoever controls the little king actually controls the country.
To understand what happens next, I'm going to rely on Mancini.
Mancini tells us that in the event of his early death, Edward IV appointed as protector of his children and realm his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
If Edward appointed his brother Richard to be the protector of his children, he must really have trusted this man.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] But not everyone trusts Richard to be Edward's only protector and adviser.
While Richard is in the northern city of York on the 20th of April, the royal council meet in London.
Leading those who want to prevent Richard from having all the power are the young king's mother's family, the Woodvilles.
"They were afraid that if Richard took unto himself the crown or even governed alone, they'd suffer death or at least be ejected from their high estate."
So were the queen and her family, the Woodvilles, trying to protect her son from Richard?
Or was it the other way around -- Was Richard trying to protect little Edward, his nephew, from a Woodville coup?
[ Down-tempo music plays ] This real tug-of-war is now going to begin, and it's going to seal young Edward's fate.
The Woodvilles win the argument.
The royal council decide not to let Richard have complete control of the young king.
They agree to crown Edward within the fortnight on the 4th of May.
It's a move that further reduces Richard's power.
So, on the 9th of April 1483, Edward IV dies.
By the 6th of July, Richard III is on the throne.
So what I want to know is what happened in those few vital weeks.
[ Mid-tempo music plays ] On the 24th of April, two weeks after his father's death, Edward sets off for London to prepare for his coronation under the protection of Anthony Woodville.
So Edward was in limbo.
He was traveling from one role, being heir in waiting, to another, being king.
He was stepping into the future.
Next, though, would come the fork in the road of his life.
A few days later, Richard leaves the north and travels south with an army of 6,000 men to intercept young Edward.
He catches up with him in Buckinghamshire in the small town of Stony Stratford.
The house I'm looking for used to be a coaching inn, but not that one.
Edward spent a night here, in what is now someone's home.
I can see a plaque.
I think it might be this one.
[ Knock, door opens ] -Hello.
-Are you Kelly?
-Yes, I am.
Thank you for having me.
Did you know when you came to live here about it having been where Edward V had stayed?
-We did know.
Yes, we did.
We knew some of the history.
We didn't realize quite how passionate everyone is about this house.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ -So, this is such a significant place in Edward's life, 'cause he was brought here by his tutor, his guardian, his uncle, and, well, really his stand-in father, Anthony Woodville, on his way to go to London to be crowned king.
♪♪ But Anthony Woodville went off up the road in order to spend the evening with Richard.
And as a result of that evening together, Richard decided he was going to move against Anthony Woodville.
The following morning, he had him arrested.
So Edward sat here in this coaching inn, unaware of what was happening.
Of course it's true that his fate had always been in the hands of other people.
But now this would be made really clear to him, because that night he says goodbye to one uncle, Uncle Anthony Woodville, the next morning, his world has completely changed.
He's now placed in the custody of his other uncle, Uncle Richard.
There are two ways of reading this event.
Supporters of Uncle Richard would say, "Well, he's doing the right thing here.
These Woodvilles are a bad lot.
He's taking his nephew into custody for his own protection."
But the other reading of this is that Richard has decided that the Woodvilles are a threat to himself, an existential threat, and that he needs to act.
In this period, during the Wars of the Roses, there's no sort of peaceful coexistence.
Either you are on the make, winning power, using violence or you're toast.
Your enemies are going to eat you.
For Edward, it's bad enough being parted from his Uncle Anthony Woodville.
But it's going to get worse, because Anthony Woodville is now put in prison and is executed.
Edward will, in fact, never see him again.
♪♪ [ Mid-tempo music plays ] The next day, the 30th of April, Richard and his army escort Edward to London.
Fearing for the safety of her family, the widowed queen, Elizabeth Woodville takes sanctuary at Westminster Abbey with her youngest son.
When they arrive in the capital, Richard takes Edward directly to the Tower of London.
His coronation, planned for the 4th of May, is postponed.
So, the Tower of London in the 15th century wasn't just a prison and a place of execution, like we think of it today.
It was also a fantastic royal palace, the place where a king was traditionally got ready for his coronation, which was now definitely going to happen on the 22nd of June.
♪♪ But within weeks, tension between Richard and the young king's mother, Elizabeth Woodville, who's in sanctuary at Westminster, is escalating.
Here it is.
Uncle Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, writes to ask the York citizens to assist him against the queen.
And he says to them, "We heartily pray you to come unto us in London, with all the money that you've got to aid and assist us against the queen.
Her blood, adherents, and affinity daily do intend to murder and utterly destroy us and the old royal blood of this realm."
What's actually going on here?
Is Richard doing his job, asking for help to protect little Edward as lord protector?
Or is he asking for help to protect himself and his own ambition?
[ Down-tempo music plays ] Within days, Richard announces that Edward must not be crowned without his brother present and makes a move to get him out of Westminster Abbey.
"He surrounded the sanctuary with troops."
♪♪ "When the queen saw herself besieged..." -...she surrendered her son, trusting that the boys should be restored after the coronation.
♪♪ -With the young king and the next in line, his younger brother, now secure in the tower, the coronation is postponed again.
And, goodness me, the plot is going to thicken.
The next unexpected event is going to happen in here.
"Here stood Paul's Cross."
This was the spot of a famous preaching place.
It's where people gave public sermons and sort of gave out official information.
And crowds of thousands of people would gather to listen.
On the 22nd of June, a preacher called Dr. Shaw dropped a bombshell.
He says that way back when Edward IV had got married to Elizabeth Woodville, he "was already legally contracted to another wife" and the marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was null and void, which meant that their entire offspring, Mancini says, "was unworthy of the kingship."
So young Edward, the king to be, he was illegitimate.
He was what they would have called a bastard.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] Imagine what young Edward must have thought when he heard about this rumor.
He'd gone from about to be king to being a bastard in a single stroke.
♪♪ Rumor had it that Richard was behind Reverend Shaw's shattering pronouncement.
But we just don't know the truth.
Here's a pass.
What's certain is that once the princes had lost their right to the throne, Richard was next in line.
Some people think this was all part of Richard's evil master plan, others that he had to be persuaded into it reluctantly.
But either way, on the 6th of July, it wasn't Edward but his uncle who went to Westminster Abbey to be crowned King Richard III.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ As Richard took the throne, the two princes were still in the tower.
In 1483, remember, there was that marvelous royal palace within the walls of the tower, with rich rooms, and that's where Edward and Richard were housed.
It also had beautiful gardens where the boys were seen playing together.
And then what happened next took place in this building, which the Victorians renamed the Bloody Tower.
♪♪ Mancini says that all the attendants who had waited upon the king were debarred access to him.
♪♪ "He and his brother were withdrawn into the inner apartments..." -...of the tower proper... ♪♪ ...and day by day began to be seen more rarely behind the bars and windows... ...till at length... -"...they ceased to appear altogether."
♪♪ And despite centuries of investigation and speculation, nobody really knows what happened to them.
There's only one thing we can be completely sure about, which is that by the end of the summer, the beginning of the autumn of 1483, the princes were gone.
♪♪ ♪♪ [ Mid-tempo music plays ] [ Bird cawing ] Richard III's reign was short-lived.
Just two years after taking the throne, he was killed in battle by Henry VII.
This marked the beginning of a new royal dynasty -- the Tudors.
Elizabeth Woodville endured.
She engineered a marriage between one of her daughters and the new Tudor king, creating another Woodville queen.
I get the feeling that at the dawn of this new era, the sorry business of the princes was part of a painful chapter that everyone was eager to forget.
Mancini couldn't explain what had happened to them.
But years later, an account emerged that appeared to solve the mystery.
Look at this.
This is a copy sent to me by the British Library of an early printed version they've got of Thomas More's book about Richard III.
It was this piece of writing that inspired Shakespeare to write his play about Richard III.
Now, More wasn't an eyewitness to the events of 1483, when the princes disappear.
More was producing his work in the 1510s, and he draws upon a key piece of evidence from 1502.
A man called James Tyrell was in prison, and there he confessed that he had been told by Richard III to kill the princes and he had delegated the job to two assassins, whose names were Forrest and Dighton.
Using the detail from Tyrell's confession, More puts together his famous description of exactly what happened to the boys.
So, "James Tyrell devised that they should be murdered in their beds.
To the execution whereof, he appointed Miles Forrest..." [ Down-tempo music plays ] -...a fellow fleshed in murder before time.
To him he joined one John Dighton.
This Miles Forrest and John Dighton, about midnight, the sely children lying in their beds, came into the chamber... and suddenly lapped them up among the clothes -- so bewrapped them and entangled them, keeping down by force the featherbed and pillows hard onto their mouths, that, within a while, smored and stifled... -"...their breath failing, they gave up to God their innocent souls into the joys of heaven, leaving to the tormentors their bodies dead in the bed."
However many times I read that, it's still quite shocking.
Now, some people would say that More only wrote this as a piece of propaganda for the Tudors, to please Henry VIII, whose family had got rid of Richard III.
Other people argue that it's not about Richard III at all and it's purely a sort of technical exercise in essay writing, a sort of argument against tyranny.
But the degree of circumstantial detail he gives about the murder convinces some people that this could be a genuine source of information.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ Thomas More tells us the murderers buried the boys' bodies at the foot of a staircase in the tower.
In 1674, 200 years later, builders excavating near the same stairs discovered a wooden box containing two small skeletons.
Everyone believed these were the bones of the princes, and they were placed in an urn here in Westminster Abbey.
♪♪ This is where coronations actually happen.
♪♪ Politicians, prime ministers, Edward I.
Now we're getting to the really special bits.
I think it's in here.
♪♪ ♪♪ So here they are -- possibly.
[ Laughs ] It's really tempting to believe it's them, because it says so here on the stone -- "Edward V, king of England, and Richard, Duke of York, confined in the Tower of London and suffocated."
And it seems really fitting that this is about as deep into the abbey as you can get.
I've come through doors and arches and corridors and layers, and I've gone past all the great kings and the great queens and the statesmen, and the princes are concealed here at the back.
Like the truth about their story, the remains of the princes -- if indeed these are the remains of the princes -- are hidden.
♪♪ In 300 years, royal permission has only once been granted for the urn to be opened.
[ Mid-tempo music plays ] In the 1930s, before radiocarbon dating or DNA profiling, two scientists examined the bones.
This is their report.
Could these be the bones of the little boys?
It's chilling to think that this could actually be evidence in a murder investigation.
♪♪ I'm not sure what to make of it.
But one of the scientists who examined Richard III's remains after they were found under the car park might be able to help.
How are you?
-Thanks for helping us out with this piece of work.
-I've got some serious reservations about this report.
So, do you want me to take you through some of the issues?
Yes, yes, yes.
The first several pages are all about Richard III killing the princes in the tower.
They don't actually come to examining the remains until page 15.
So this is the lower jaw of the younger child, whom I shall now presume to call Richard.
And then they go and call the other one Edward.
So within a few paragraphs, they've decided they're going to start calling these Edward and Richard.
So it feels very much like they've got an idea of what they want the answer to be and then they're kind of making it fit.
-Do you think it's fair to say that these are the bones of two youngish people?
-That's completely fair.
They are convinced there's evidence of suffocation.
They're saying, "There's bloodstain on the bones of one of the skulls."
-The interesting thing about the stain is they do talk about in the urn are three sets of iron nails.
-They could have caused the stains.
-Really quite easily.
But he says here, "I have no doubt it was a bloodstain."
-And they draw on Shakespeare, not a well-known forensic specialist, as the reason why they believe this is true.
"'See how the blood is settled in his face,' and a little later, 'But see his face is black and full of blood.'"
-It must be true.
I read it in a poem.
-[ Laughs ] That's right.
-So if these bones came into your laboratory, Turi, today, what would you do with them?
Where would you start?
-Let's radiocarbon-date them, because for all we know, these are Roman, Anglo-Saxon -- They could be completely the wrong period.
And then one of the things you can do is you can use DNA analysis.
We have Richard III's whole genome now.
-Of course you do.
-Richard III is their uncle.
So we could look for what looks like a 25% sharing.
Would you actually like to do that?
Personally, I feel reservations.
I don't like the idea of messing with people who are at rest.
-There's huge ethical considerations, because I think to actually go and disturb a set of remains, you have to have a decent research question.
-We'd have to be absolutely clear with ourselves why we wanted to know.
Why do you want to know?
-And curiosity is not enough.
-And if you were able to prove that they were the remains of the princes in the tower, where would that leave us?
It would show that they hadn't left the tower.
That would imply that what Thomas More says about Richard III was true, but it wouldn't prove it, would it?
-It doesn't tell you who killed them.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] [ Vehicles passing ] -It's really tempting to look at that urn in Westminster Abbey and think, "Yes.
That must contain the remains of the princes."
But it's a question that's wide open, really.
In terms of their actual physical human remains, all that we can about the princes is that they're missing.
They're not necessarily murdered.
They're missing persons.
♪♪ I know for some people, this lack of hard evidence means Richard III shouldn't be condemned as a child-killer.
A group called the Richard III Society are dedicated to fighting his corner and restoring his reputation.
-You look very studious there.
Now, then, let me ask you a question, Matt.
You don't believe that Richard III was guilty, do you?
What's your argument?
-I think simply that the case for the prosecution isn't watertight.
You can't prove that Richard III did it.
What we have is two boys who disappear from view in 1483.
We don't really have any strong record that they were killed.
I don't believe the bodies in Westminster Abbey, if they were tested, would turn out to be the princes in the tower.
And I think we have other potential suspects if we believe they were murdered, but I think we also have really compelling theories that they may well have survived beyond 1485 and beyond Richard III's reign.
-So if this is a murder and if your guy didn't do it -- Richard III -- who are the other suspects you'd like to bring to the table?
-There are several individuals that we can point directly at.
But the first of them and perhaps the most widely accepted is Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham.
Henry Stafford appears at the right-hand side of Richard as he moves to become King Richard III.
But by October 1483, he's instigating rebellion against Richard III -- I think to pursue his own claim to the throne of England.
So does Henry Stafford do away with the princes as part of his efforts to discredit Richard and dislodge him?
There are several sources that point to him.
So, this was found as part of a collection documents, as late as the 1980s, written probably in the early 1500s.
It says that the sons of Edward IV were put to death "by the vise of the Duke of Buckingham."
"Vise" is a strange medieval word that can be used to mean "the advice," but it can also mean the device of Henry Stafford.
So it could have been his plot, his plan to do away with the princes in the tower.
-And nobody had really looked at that till the 1980s?
-It's in a collection of random documents to do with heraldry here at the College of Arms, and someone just came across it.
It's a really good example of how some of these key pieces of evidence can just be lying around somewhere, hidden, not yet been turned up.
So, we've looked at the Duke of Buckingham.
This is -- Well, this is Henry VII, isn't it?
-So, believing that he is in any way involved means that they were alive in 1485 and when he becomes king, he finds them alive.
-Right, so in this case, the princes survive into the reign of Richard III and Henry Tudor does them in later.
-He does, because he has to to be able to take the throne himself.
What's interesting is almost anyone who is in power and in London in the early to mid-1480s could have had an interest in doing away with the princes.
-Now, you personally don't believe they were even killed, do you?
-What do you think happened to them, Matt?
-I think that there's a strong likelihood that at least one of them was moved to the north of England, into one of Richard's castles, packed with men loyal to him and who he could trust to look after these princes, to keep them secret and keep them out of the way so they couldn't be used against Richard.
We do have two pretenders who come along to threaten Henry VII, the first Tudor king.
The first one that comes along, in 1487, is known to history as Lambert Simnel.
-So this would be the actual prince having survived.
-He's the right age.
He's 16 at this point.
Good age to be crowned and to lead an army.
-So if this was the older boy coming back as the pretender, Lambert Simnel, what possibly happened to his younger brother?
-Well, the second pretender, who arrives in the early 1490s, is Perkin Warbeck.
-He comes to a sorry end.
He has this kind of glittering career in the early 1490s convincing the crowned heads of Europe that he's really Prince Richard, that he should be King Richard IV, but he ends up being captured as part of an invasion of England.
He's executed in 1499.
-So it's your belief that the boys survived.
-I believe that they survived beyond 1485 and went on to challenge Henry VII and that he dealt with that challenge by covering it up.
-You see, I believe that you've done your research.
I just worry that you've been attracted to an exciting story with a heroic narrator and an unexpected ending.
That's my fear for you, Matt.
-It's definitely an interesting story if it's true, but I think the key here is following the evidence.
-What I just worry about is the idea that you and a lot of other people still treat this as a detective story and we want somebody to hang a "guilty" label on.
That's human nature.
It isn't necessarily the way that history works, though.
-But it's so interesting because the sources say such ambiguous things.
You and I could pick up the same piece of original source material and come to a completely different conclusion.
-There are few stories where things are that ambiguous and have that much space in them to investigate further and to feel like there must be more to learn.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] [ Vehicles passing ] -One thing I agree with Matt about is the ambiguity of the evidence.
-So, "James Tyrell devised that they should be murdered in their beds."
-Maybe new clues will come to light.
But till then, I think the key to solving this mystery is to interrogate the sources we have.
-"To the execution whereof, he appointed Miles Forrest.
To him he joined one John Dighton."
-Thomas More's account includes such specific detail about the night of the princes' murder.
I want to know where he got his facts from and if they could be true.
So, this is Buckfast Abbey.
It's my first visit.
Can I go on in?
[ Group singing in Latin ] Thank you.
♪♪ I'm here to find out about some game-changing new research into Thomas More's text.
But first I want to see an extraordinary religious relic.
Thomas More was a devout Catholic.
Henry VIII had him executed for opposing his plan to reform the church.
-May I come in?
-You may indeed.
-Thank you very much.
And as an act of religious devotion, he often wore, concealed beneath his clothes a painfully coarse goat-hair shirt.
Is this really it?
-This is really it.
-I just feel a huge inbuilt skepticism about the exact nature not just of holy relics, but of all, you know, secular relics, anything that is said to be the hat of Henry VIII the hat of Cardinal Wolsey.
This is the most remarkable object because it's highly possible -- in fact, it's certain in your eyes -- that that touched the skin of a man who was alive 500 ago.
-What happened was he was beheaded on the 6th of July 1535.
And the day before, he gave this hair shirt to his adopted daughter, Margaret Giggs.
And it then passed to the Diocese of Plymouth.
The Diocese of Plymouth then asked us to have it here for public veneration.
These are all verifiable historical events, and that makes it a very significant relic, I think.
-What sort of a person does this hair shirt say that he was, then?
-This is something that he chose to wear because he identifies with Christ, and Christ suffered on the cross.
Wearing this every day is a very close connection with the sufferings of Christ.
-That's a really different worldview, isn't it?
A lot of people would say that Thomas More's book about the rise of Richard III is pro-Tudor propaganda.
I suppose if he's someone as committed to his faith as to do something like this on a regular basis, he's not going to be bullied by worldly authority in any way, is he?
-I think the fact that he would not go along with Henry VIII becoming the head of the church in this country would certainly indicate he was willing to put his life on the line.
-I think that's a massive argument against him having been purely a propagandist.
-Yes, I think his character, his life, his writings all indicate that he was interested in what is fair, what is just.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ -So if Thomas More was a truth-teller, he must have firmly believed his sources were reliable.
One historian has taken a new approach to verify information More claimed to have got from James Tyrell's confession.
-I'm excited to meet you.
-It's good to meet you, too.
-This is a really splendid library, isn't it?
I love libraries, but this just has a fantastic atmosphere.
-Tim, how on earth is it possible that you've managed to find a new avenue of investigation?
What was your approach?
-Well, this is the most investigated mystery of the late Middle Ages.
For most people, the summer or the autumn of 1483 is where the story ends.
But I think in truth, the summer or the autumn of 1483 is where the story begins.
And if we're really going to understand what happened, we need to look at what happened next.
I think one of the fascinating things about More's account is that central to it are several people who are survivors into the period when he was writing, in the 1510s, and what I wanted to explore was the possibility that More had direct access to those individuals.
-So you wanted to put More and his sources in the same place at the same time -- or at least in close contact with each other.
So if we look at the text of More, you can see that he's providing us with the names of the murderers, Miles Forrest and John Dighton.
-Are they real?
Is there evidence for them?
What have you been able to uncover?
-These are real people -- John Dighton and also the two sons of Miles Forrest, Edward and Miles.
They were active at the court of Henry VIII in the 1510s, just as More was active at court.
So what I was doing was looking for all the evidence I could for More's activities in the 1510s, when he was writing the history of King Richard III and his connections to John Dighton, and also the two sons of Miles Forrest.
-What established the connection between More doing his research and these people who were witnesses?
-It was a bit of a eureka moment, really.
I came across this letter from 1515, when More was on embassy in Bruges, in the low countries, and the embassy are exchanging messages back and forth from England.
And so you can see in this letter More's signature at the foot.
Thomas More -- He was there.
-But the messenger who's referred to in the second line is one M. Forrest.
So, this is one of the sons of the man that More says killed the princes in the tower, Miles Forrest.
[ Down-tempo music plays ] It was one of those moments, I'm afraid, for a historian, that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck because it puts him in the same place at the same time as one of his key witnesses.
-Where were you when this happened?
Were you in the reading room, where you have to be quiet, and you went, "Yes!"?
-I did restrain myself.
But yes, I came across it among the records in the National Archives.
And I think it increases the credibility of More's account significantly.
-So this letter proves that just at the time that More was writing his history, he was personally in contact, face-to-face, with the son of one of the murderers from 1483.
-So it's perfectly possible that he said, "Well, my dad did it.
He did the deed."
There's a lot of "ifs" and "buts" here, but what you have done is make it more comprehensible that More is, in fact, telling the truth.
You've sort of built up the foundations of his credibility a bit more.
-I think we've demonstrated very clearly where the sources potentially lay for what's previously been considered a potentially speculative or even deliberately deceptive account.
[ Mid-tempo music plays ] [ Birds chirping ] You know, I've been really convinced by Tim that Thomas More was a truth-teller, one of the first people to try to find out what had happened to the princes.
I'm persuaded that Richard III did have them murdered, but I think we get much too caught up in the guilt -- or not -- of wicked Uncle Richard.
It seems to me to be much more interesting to look at the deaths of these boys as part of the cutthroat, kill-or-be-killed, "Game of Thrones" political culture of the 15th century.
If you were an heir to the throne, you were nothing more than a pawn in the game of power.
And being a child made no difference at all.
This is still an active case for historians.
So many of us are out there, still looking for evidence.
And maybe new clues will surface that settle the matter once and for all.
But it's the nature of history that it's never fixed.
It speaks to us in different ways at different times.
And that's why I think this story is set to run and run.
[ Music ends ] -"Lucy Worsley Investigates" is available on Amazon Prime Video.
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