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A Promising Boy

Edward V -- Little Malvern Priory Edward, Little Malvern Priory, Worcestershire
(commissioned by John Alcock, Bishop of Worcester, his tutor)

Contemporary Descriptions

“He had such dignity in his own person, and in his face such charm that however much they might gaze, he never wearied the eyes of beholders.”

“This context seems to require that I should not pass over in silence the talent of the youth.  In word and deed, he gave so many proofs of his liberal education, of polite, nay rather scholarly attainments far beyond his age; all of these should be recounted, but require so such labor, that I shall lawfully excuse myself the effort.  There is one thing I shall not omit, and that is, his special knowledge of literature, which enabled him to discourse elegantly, to understand fully and to disclaim most excellently from any work whether in verse or prose which came into his hands, unless it were from among the more abstruse authors.”

(upon Richard’s arrest of his household officers at Stoney Stratford on April 30, 1483) “The youth, possessing the likeness of his father’s noble spirit besides talent and remarkable learning, replied to this, saying that he merely had those ministers whom his father had given him, and relying on is father’s prudence, he believed that good and faithful ones had been given him.  He had seen nothing evil in them and wished to keep them unless proved to be evil.  As for the government…he had complete confidence in the peer and the Queen, so that this care but little concerned his former ministers.”

Dominic Mancini, The Usurpation of Richard III, written December 1483

“…the most toward and virtuous disposition of our Sovereign Lord that now is, his gentle wit and ripe understanding far surpassing the nature of his youth.”

John Russell, Chancellor, written for a speech opening Edward V’s first Parliament, June 1483

“He was brought up virtuously by virtuous men — remarkably gifted and very well advanced in learning.”

John Rous, Warwick antiquarian

“The youth of the nation. the boys and old men, rejoice in you and all the stars delight in your face.  You, most beautiful Prince, are the glory of the noble kingdom.”

Pietrus Carmeliano, court poet of Brescia, from “Easter Verses, April 1482”

Modern Descriptions

“Nothing against his character has come down.”

Michael Hicks, Edward V: The Prince in the Tower

(upon Richard’s arrest of his household officers at Stoney Stratford on April 30, 1483) “The young King, who had been well brought up and was well educated, replied with dignity that his ministers had been chosen for him by his father and could therefore be only faithful and good.  He could believe nothing evil of them unless it could be proved.”

A.L. Rowse, Bosworth Field

“Hastings’ death narrowed the base of Richard’s support.  Perhaps the decisive factor, after Hastings’ death, was the personality of the young King.  Already at Stoney Stratford, Edward had shown he was capable of standing up to his uncle in defense of his mother and her family.  Dominic Mancini gives further evidence of his precocity….With his character and intellect already cast to this degree, Edward could hardly be expected to cherish the man who had imprisoned his favorite uncle, sent his mother and brother into sanctuary, and now beheaded his Lord Chamberlain not a stone’s throw away from the royal apartments.”

Anthony Cheetham, Life and Times of Richard III

“The little King was already displaying distinct signs of character — as at Stoney Stratford.”

“Edward V was… a most promising and attractive boy.  His youth and good looks aroused English sentiment of the strongest sort.”

Desmond Seward, Richard III, the Black Legend

“He (Edward IV) was eager that his son and heir, Edward, should have similar tastes, and nothing is more pathetic than the universally attested fact of the Young King’s scholarship and his beautiful eloquence contrasting with the dread factors of power politics which cast him in the Tower and deprived him of his life.”

Francis Leary, The Golden Longing

“Dominic Mancini, an Italian who was in London during those events, shows us the sad picture of 12-year old Edward V in the Tower… This gentle, scholarly boy, mature beyond his years, had been carefully groomed to inherit the kingdom but his uncle Richard intervened.”

Franklin Hamilton, Challenge for a Throne

“Mancini says that Edward V had charm, dignity, and an educational attainment in advance of his years, and this judgement was echoed by Bishop Russell, soon to become Chancellor of England…but this attractive if precocious youth — a true son of his father — had inevitably absorbed his political attitudes from his mother and her family, and he knew little of an uncle whom he had met only occasionally and ceremonially.”

Charles Ross, Richard III

“Did Edward ask what had become of his uncle, half-brother, his chamberlain; what was to become of them?  Or was there, in spite of his childishness, his bookishness, his gentleness, a strain of regal self-control which protected his dignity and kept his reserve intact?”

Elizabeth Jenkins, The Princes in the Tower

“The education of the Prince of Wales…was not only a matter of concern to the King, his father, but also, allwoing for the centuries between, bore remarkable resemblance to the hard and stern curriculum laid down for the benefit of…Edward VII.  Like his predecessors, Edward V was from a tender age expected to have some interest in and knowledge of matters of state.”

L.G. Pine Princes of Wales

Allusions and Comparisons

to Joseph, patriarch of Israel:  “Perhaps the brat was unbearable and Richard longed to ‘larn’ him.  Isn’t it odd how we never think of victims as anything but white innocents?  Like Joseph in the Bible.  I’m sure he was a quite intolerable young man, actually, and long overdue for that pushing into the pit.  Perhaps young Edward was just sitting up and beggin to be quietly put down.”

Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time, comparing him to St. Michael:

“‘Yea, a-playing and laughing they were, lovesome and young,’ grindled the old crone.  “Like his father, was Neddie, tall and straight.  A-playing and a-growing unto St. Michael near enough.”

Rosemary Jarman, We Speak No Treason

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