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The Princes in the Tower
The Princes in the Tower
Author: Alison Weir
"A SURPRISINGLY FRESH AND TREMENDOUSLY THOROUGH CONTRIBUTION to the debate...Weir's book is, no doubt, not the last on this subject, but it might be the best....[She] constructs a devastating case...[and] brilliantly illuminates the nature of late-medieval political power." — --The Boston Globe — Despite five centuries of investigation by historia...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780345383723
ISBN-10: 0345383729
Publication Date: 1/3/1994
Pages: 287
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 34 ratings
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The Princes in the Tower on + 33 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A book I had to take slowly, and keep referencing my mobility family charts.

Alison Weir investigates the events surrounding the disappearance in 1483 of England's 12-year-old King Edward V and his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York. Upon the death of their father, King Edward IV, in 1483, the brothers' uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was named Edward V's guardian. In a breathtaking chain of sinister events, Richard had Edward V and his brother confined to the Tower of London, declared his nephew's accession to the throne invalid and proclaimed himself king in June of 1483. Weir relies heavily on Sir Thomas More's History of King Richard III (written 1514-1518 and upon which William Shakespeare based his play) to conclude that Richard had his nephews murdered in the tower sometime after his coronation. Weir carefully considers alternative theories about the brothers' deaths, but argues convincingly that More had the best access to evidence and the least reason to lie.
reviewed The Princes in the Tower on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Normally, I stick to fiction, but this nonfiction account by Alison Weir was actually much closer to a narrative style than I expected. She did a great job of laying out the facts, analylzing the evidence and explaining her conclusions, yet somehow also managed to put together a timeline sequence that read almost as smoothly as a fictional plot. It wasn't quite as much fun for me as a good old medieval fantasy novel, but I'll bet that true geneology enthusists and historians will enjoy the painstaking detail of this one. Remarkably, I don't think that she took liberties far as I can tell, all her conclusions are well supported.
surfwidow avatar reviewed The Princes in the Tower on + 36 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I was sucked right into the story. Weir's books are always readable and this one about Richard III of England and the murder of his nephews was no exception.
reviewed The Princes in the Tower on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
One of the most boring books I have read in a long time! Hard to get through. Hard to follow.
deltatiger avatar reviewed The Princes in the Tower on + 74 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
In the introduction, Weir claims to be an objective historian who is merely following the trail of evidence to determine who is guilty of the killing of the Princes in the Tower. This promise should be treated much like the promise of a politician hoping to win office.

To determine the bias which pervades the book, you need look no farther than the sources she relies on. Thomas More, she claims, is an eyewitness with no reason to lie, so she accepts all the negative things he says about Richard III. Except - More was 5-7 years old when the important events in the book occurred, which is a little young to be the eyewitness of anything in particular. More was also raised by John Morton, an early and strong opponent of Richard III. Even presuming More was trying to write a genuine history of Richard III (which many historians doubt, thinking he was instead writing a morality drama), he was certainly raised in an atmosphere that was strongly negative to Richard and had plenty of opportunity and reason to think ill of him. None of this is apparently important enough to Weir to make her question his reliability as a source. Even worse, she accepts some things as facts things that More himself states are merely rumor.

There are similar problems with her other sources, but that should be enough to give you the idea of how questionable her research is.

If you are genuinely interested in the subject of the Princes in the Tower or of Richard III, you should definitely take this book with a large grain of salt.

For a more balanced perspective try A.J. Pollard's Richard III and the Princes in the Tower or Paul Murray Kendall's excellent and highly entertaining biography of Richard III. Or follow up this book with Royal Blood by Bertram Fields.
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reviewed The Princes in the Tower on + 14 more book reviews
Wonderful look at British history. She provides some wonderful answers and a unique perspective to an age old mystery that has been the talk for many generations. I have always been fascinated by history, and have read many accounts of this time period in british history and she makes some strong points about the fate of these two young people. If you enjoy true accounts you will enjoy this book.
reviewed The Princes in the Tower on + 6 more book reviews
This book is a very readable story of the political atmosphere surrounding the disappearance of the sons of Edward IV. It encompasses more than just the princes though, starting as far back as Edward III to explain how the multiple claims for the throne originated, thus creating the Wars of the Roses, focusing a good deal on Richard III's turbulent reign and death, Henry VII's various insecurities after usurping Richard, even into a little bit about Henry VIII's continued insecurities about his Plantagenet cousins. The wide range of detail and characters can make it easy to get lost if you're not familiar with the time period, but even so it's a great overview of the times leading up to the Tudor dynasty if you take care to keep track.

Weir explains her sources, their strengths and weaknesses, and from there goes off of their evidence to attempt to come to a reasonable conclusion. While many of her sources are highly controversial, she does set up an argument of why she believes they have merit, for example she points out when multiple authors tell the same story despite having never known each other, what pervading popular opinion was at the time, what was known and what was supressed in the time that followed, and even pointing out the telling silences, like why particular things were never used as propaganda when doing so could have helped public opinion and thus the security of his throne if Richard was indeed innocent.

While I agree that the tone of the book could be seen as biased towards the guilt of Richard III, I believe that along the way she does paint a very compelling argument to back up that opinion. Overall I think it is a very good book, filled with facts, and following a logical chain of events to come to the final conclusion.