Lucy Worsley Investigates – Princes in the Tower

Lucy Worsley Investigates – Princes in the Tower: What really happened to the princes in the tower? Lucy Worsley uncovers the story of the two boys whose disappearance in 1483 has led to centuries of mystery and speculation.



The historian examines four dramatic chapters in British history, exploring how changing attitudes to gender politics, class inequality, mental health and children can challenge perceptions of the past and provide new answers to each myster. She begins with the 16th-century witch hunts, when thousands of ordinary people, mostly women, were hunted down, tortured and killed across Scotland and England. Lucy Worsley investigates the mysteries of some of the most infamous and brutal chapters in British history, finding new witnesses and compelling evidence. What will she uncover?

Lucy Worsley is a British historian, author, curator, and television presenter. She is Joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces but is best known as a presenter of BBC Television series on historical topics.


Lucy Worsley Investigates – Princes in the Tower


The Princes in the Tower refers to the apparent murder in England in the 1480s of the deposed King Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York. These two brothers were the only sons of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville surviving at the time of their father’s death in 1483. When they were 12 and 9 years old, respectively, they were lodged in the Tower of London by their paternal uncle and all-powerful regent the Duke of Gloucester. This was supposedly in preparation for Edward V’s forthcoming coronation. However, before the young king could be crowned, he and his brother were declared illegitimate. Gloucester ascended the throne as Richard III.

It is unclear what happened to the boys after the last recorded sighting of them in the tower. It is generally assumed that they were murdered; a common hypothesis is that they were killed by Richard in an attempt to secure his hold on the throne. Their deaths may have occurred sometime in 1483, but apart from their disappearance, the only evidence is circumstantial. As a result, several other hypotheses about their fates have been proposed, including the suggestion that they were murdered by their maternal uncle the Duke of Buckingham or future brother-in-law King Henry VII, among others. It has also been suggested that one or both princes may have escaped assassination. In 1487, Lambert Simnel initially claimed to be the Duke of York, but later claimed to be York’s cousin the Earl of Warwick. From 1491 until his capture in 1497, Perkin Warbeck claimed to be the Duke of York, having supposedly escaped to Flanders. Warbeck’s claim was supported by some contemporaries, including York’s aunt the Duchess of Burgundy.

In 1674, workmen at the tower dug up, from under the staircase, a wooden box containing two small human skeletons. The bones were widely accepted at the time as those of the princes, but this has not been proven and is far from certain. King Charles II had the bones buried in Westminster Abbey, where they remain.

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