The Princes in the Tower

audiobook (Unabridged) The History of the Mysterious Disappearances of King Edward V and the Duke of York

By Charles River Editors

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When England's King Edward IV fell ill at Easter 1483 after coming back from a fishing trip and died shortly after on April 9, it threw a country that had already suffered a series of wars into a state of chaos. What exactly killed him is unclear, and though some people would later speculate that he had been poisoned, there is every reason to believe that he died of natural causes. Disease was common in medieval England, and doctors lacked much of the medical knowledge now taken for granted. The king's spectacular lifestyle had taken its toll, and he was significantly overweight, so it seems the lifestyle which he thought he had earned as king, and which he used to remind everyone of his status, was probably his undoing.

Recognizing that death was coming, the 40-year-old Edward IV had tried to make arrangements for how the kingdom would be ruled during his son's minority. His aim was for Rivers to continue running the young king's household while Richard, Duke of Gloucester, became protector and took responsibility for running the country until Edward V was old enough to do so for himself. It was an arrangement designed to prevent any one person from gaining total authority during his son's childhood reign, and thus to protect the young king.

At first, everything seemed to be going smoothly, but behind the scenes Richard was scheming. As Edward V and his guardian Rivers were travelling toward London, Richard and his substantial military retinue met them on the road. After setting Rivers and another adviser at ease through a pleasant dinner on April 29, Richard showed his true colors the next day by taking them captive and taking control of the teenaged king. His justification was the old classic of protecting a king from evil advisers.

The chain of events also contributed to one of England's most enduring mysteries, because Edward and Richard never emerged from the Tower of London.

The Princes in the Tower