Thursday, May 01, 2014

Review: The Princes in the Tower

The Princes in the Tower
By Alison Weir
Ballantine, 2011

About the Book

Despite five centuries of investigation by historians, the sinister deaths of the boy king Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York, remain one of the most fascinating murder mysteries in English history. Did Richard III really kill the young prince, as is commonly believed, or was the murderer someone else entirely?

Carefully examining every shred of contemporary evidence as well as the dozens of modern accounts, Weir reconstructs the entire chain of events leading to the double murder to arrive at a conclusion Sherlock Holmes himself could not dispute.

My Review

Weir uses well-documented, contemporary accounts and primary sources such as the Croyland Chronicle, The Great Chronicle of London, John Rous, and Sir Thomas More (later canonized by the Catholic church), many of whom either witnessed the events in question or were close to those who did. She consulted both pro-Ricardian and pro-Tudor sources as well, which adds weight to her arguments. She takes a look at every player, both well-known and relative unknowns alike: Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Richard III, Lady Margaret Beaufort, Thomas Stanley, Robert Brackenbury, James Tyrell, and Henry Tudor. After a thorough examination of the evidence, Weir presents her conclusions, which match the evidence and common sense (the latter being extremely important and something many authors tend to stretch). She also highlights the fact that More’s account fits all evidence that preceded it and even fits all evidence discovered long after More died.

With a controversial subject such as this, it’s inevitable that people will tear the book down, simply because they don’t agree with the author’s conclusions, and that is certainly the case for many of this book’s reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. So if the book gets a less than stellar ranking, I say ignore it. Read the entire book, examine her exhaustive list of sources, and see for yourself. An honest review of the evidence presented will fail to find anything amiss in Weir’s conclusions.

If you are interested in an ages-old, unsolved mystery, then this is a great place to start: a thoroughly researched, well-reasoned look at the most infamous mystery of medieval England. Nowhere else will you get a more thorough, more balanced view of the events from which to make your own conclusions.

Rebecca Henderson Palmer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This book sounds very interesting to me. A real mystery. Hope to read it someday. Maxie