When did the term `Princes in the Tower' come into usage, who invented it, and to whom did it refer? To the general public the term is synonymous with the supposedly murdered boy King Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York, sons of Edward IV. But were those boys genuinely held against their will in the Tower? Would their mother, Elizabeth Widville, have released her son Richard from sanctuary with her if she believed she would be putting his life in danger?
The children of Edward IV were declared bastards in 1483 and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was offered the throne. But after Bosworth, in order to marry their sister Elizabeth of York, Henry VII needed to make her legitimate again. If the boys were alive at that time then Edward V would once again have become the rightful king.
Following the discovery of some bones in the Tower in 1674 they were interred in a marble urn in Westminster Abbey as the remains of the two sons of Edward IV. What evidence exists, or existed at the time, to prove these indeed were the remains of two 15th-century male children? What did the 1933 urn opening reveal?
John Ashdown-Hill is uniquely placed to answer these questions. By working with geneticists and scientists, and exploring the mtDNA haplogroup of the living all-female-line collateral descendant of the brothers, he questions the orthodoxy and strips away the myths.
John Ashdown-Hill is a historian, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a member of the Society of Genealogists, the Richard III Society and the Centre Europeen d'Etudes Bourguignonnes. He was Leader of Genealogical Research and Historical Advisor for the Looking for Richard Project and is the author of The Last Days of Richard III, the book that inspired the dig. John lives near Colchester in Essex.