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
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
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
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.