Edward V 1483
A traditional perspective on the Web

A Million Loud Voices Don't Make You Right


This link leads to a very brief documentary about Edward V.  Actually, it isn’t so much about Edward as it is a weak justification for Richard of Gloucester’s actions.

Edward’s reign was not a struggle between his mother Elizabeth Woodville and his uncle Richard of Gloucester.  His Woodville relatives were defeated on April 30 when Rivers, Grey and Vaughan were arrested and the King captured, and on May 1 when the Queen and her remaining children entered sanctuary in reaction.  Edward’s reign featured Richard’s progress in undermining him and his friends as a prelude to usurpation. 

It is difficult to see how Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, did anything wrong.  Was he rushing the King to London?  Edward IV died on April 9.  Young Edward V and his household officers at Ludlow learned about it on April 14.  They left Ludlow on April 24, ten days later.  The King’s coronation was to be on May 4th.  Rivers arranged a King’s escort of approximately 2,000 men.  On 15th century roads, 2,000 men aren’t rushing anywhere. 

Grafton Regis, near Northampton, was the name of the Woodville homestead, not Stony Stratford, where Richard of Gloucester seized the young king and arrested his half-brother and the man who had been his chamberlain since infancy.  Rivers, Edward’s governor, had been arrested by Richard in Northampton after a night of congenial conversation where Rivers did not anticipate his arrest in the morning.  If Richard brought cartloads of weapons bearing Woodville arms with him to London, it didn’t mean anything since Richard’s men were confiscating Woodville property without due process along the way.  Edward V was Richard’s prisoner.

The Queen Mother, Elizabeth Woodville, had as much right as anyone to head up the King’s Council in the interim between Edward IV’s death and the arrival of Edward and Richard of Gloucester in the capital.  She hardly was able to enforce her will; the size of the King’s escort and the date of his coronation on May 4th were approved by Council after much contention. 

How convenient of Richard of Gloucester to find Robert Stillington so eager to divulge what he allegedly knew about Edward IV’s precontract with Eleanor Butler 20 years before!  However, 15 to 25 years before, Stillington was a member of council, Keeper of the Privy Seal, and Chancellor of England, and yet he said nothing when Warwick was seeking a French bride for Edward IV nor when Edward announced his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville 1964.

Warwick would have loved to have a reason to attack Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth, but he never did.  It seems that everyone was acting as if Edward were a bachelor prior to his marriage to Elizabeth!  Stillington’s bringing up an alleged precontract in 1483 was purely political; no one but Richard’s more ardent supporters could in good conscience erase a 19-year marriage that had been publicly and universally recognized, nor was the Church ever consulted to rule on the matter.  Even though Richard’s Parliament in January 1484 indicated that it would present evidence of the precontract, it never did. 

Parliament did not confirm Richard III’s title in 1483.  There was no Parliament on June 25, 1483.  Edward V’s Parliament had been cancelled by Richard on June 17, but notices reached the members’ homes after many of them had already left for the capital.  What the magnates really heard was Richard of Gloucester’s and the Duke of Buckingham’s grandstanding as to why Edward shouldn’t be king and why Richard of Gloucester should.  Everyone knew that Richard had summoned soldiers from the North.  They knew that Hastings had been killed for resisting Richard, and they suspected or soon learned that Edward V’s uncle Rivers, half-brother Richard Grey and Thomas Vaughan, longtime Yorkist supporter and the prince’s chamberlain, would be killed as well.  Where were Edward V’s strongest supporters then?  Dead, arrested, in sanctuary or in exile!  There was no one strong enough nor daring enough to confront Richard, considering what Richard had done to Edward’s friends before his usurpation. 

Ricardians dismiss primary sources as Tudor propaganda because they don’t like what the sources say.  Not one of the primary sources was writing on behalf of the Tudor government.

The documentary says very little about Edward V and his promise,  It says little too about the reality of Richard's using his role as Protector, to exploit and destroy the boys he had sworn to protect. 

Richard’s modern-day supporters think that they know Richard better than his contemporaries did.  They say they want justice for Richard III.  What about justice for Edward V?

The Ricardians are a loud lot, trumpeting their revisionism as if they have the evidence to support it.  But noise, fanfare, well-heeled zealots, and indiscriminating and sentimental writers and readers of romantic historical fiction can’t legitimatize a viewpoint that has no historical sources (and sometimes no logic) behind it.


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