Books can be dangerous because they deal in ideas so I reckon the two most dangerous places in Chandler’s Ford are our wonderful library and W.H.Smith at Fryern since one lends out books and the other sells them!
It is also fantastic that, especially after the loss of The Arcade Bookshop, we have another bookseller and our library is a real asset. May both keep going from strength to strength.
Quick links to:
- Identity of a murderer
- Brief summary of The Daughter of Time
- What are the oddities in the story?
- Any evidence of the missing of the princes?
- Who was Perkin Warbeck?
- Books can be dangerous. Why?
- Music: Richard III: The Princes in the Tower by Sir William Walton
- What happened to the remains of Richard III?
- Watch video highlight of Richard III starring Kevin Spacey
- Intriguing: Why do I recommend The Daughter of Time?
The more effective books get their points across with humour and the reader may or may not be aware that ideas are being planted in their head.
There are the obvious propaganda books but I’m referring to fiction for this post as, for one example, to take the classic fairy tales, how many of them finish with the premise that justice will out in the end? Practically all of them! Real life is nowhere near as kind as that.
Books, especially in science fiction and fantasy, can open eyes to the possibilities of worlds beyond this one but I want to focus on the only novel that has ever made me change my mind about something – and in this case it is about the identity of a murderer.
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey was published in 1951 shortly before her death from cancer. The title comes from the phrase “Truth is the daughter of time”.
Note: Image below: Elizabeth Mackintosh (pen name: Josephine Tey)
Brief summary of The Daughter of Time
The book features Inspector Alan Grant, who is confined to a hospital bed having fallen through a trap door while pursuing a villain.Whilst bored and bed bound for weeks (these days they’d have him up and walking again ASAP!), and intrigued by a picture of a medieval man brought to him by a friend, Alan Grant, on discovering the subject is Richard III, decides to look into the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower.
He does not expect to find anything spectacular and is doing this as a mere academic exercise to fend off boredom while he recovers.
What he discovers, through books sent in by friends, and a colleague in historic detection, Brent Carradine, who researches the archives given Grant physically can’t do so himself, stuns the inspector.
Alan Grant’s overall verdict?Not only is Richard innocent, but there is absolutely no case against Richard.
This means accepting that not only did Shakespeare get things wrong, so did Sir Thomas More with his History of England.
The book builds up as it produces further evidence in Richard’s favour and the overall conclusion is difficult to resist.
And then there are the oddities…
For example, who gave this country bail, insisted Acts of Parliament were written in English, who insisted sellers of land ensured they had the right to sell the land to a purchaser (in an attempt to stop a well known fraud of someone selling the same piece of land over and over again) and who made jury tampering illegal? Richard III.
That’s either odd things for a murderer to do or there’s a lot more to Richard than meets the eye.
Who gave this country the Star Chamber, where trials could be held in secret, and who tried to backdate his reign by one day so he could claim all his opponents were traitors and seize their estates for himself? Henry VII.
Which monarch left the Plantagenet dynasty largely to live in peace? Richard III.
Who persecuted the Plantagenet dynasty knowing their claim to the throne was so much better than his own? Henry VII. (And who finished the job with the really nasty execution of the Countess of Salisbury, Margaret Plantagenet, who was an old lady at the time? Henry VIII who inherited his father’s paranoia about rival claimants to the throne.
The sad thing was the Countess had been Princess Mary Tudor’s (later “Bloody Mary”) governess and was much loved by that tragic figure.
Who also nominated another nephew for the throne, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, when his own son died and did not try to foist his illegitimate son on to the nation? Richard III.
Who kept another Plantagenet nephew, the Earl of Warwick, in the Tower of London from boyhood and the moment the lad became an adult had him executed on trumped up charges? Henry VII.
The biggest oddity?
And the biggest oddity? One of Henry VII’s first acts as monarch was to bring in a Bill of Attainder against Richard III. Bills of Attainder were used to condemn nobles and royals without trial. So given Henry did this, why did he not accuse Richard of the murder of the boys in this document?
Richard was dead, many of his followers were likewise or at best were in exile, and the country was sick of the fighting of the Wars of the Roses. (Officially the Bosworth Battle in 1485 where Richard died was the last part of these wars, but this is open to question given there were rebellions against Henry).
There was also no evidence suggesting the Princes were missing during Richard’s reign. This is strange and Alan Grant concludes there could only be one reason for this – that the boys were not missing and were, in fact, alive.
It is also interesting that the boys’ mother, Queen Elizabeth Woodville, was on good terms with Richard during his brief two years reign. Would she really have done that if he was guilty of killing her sons? Why did she never accuse him?
Did the younger Prince survive?
Henry VII’s reign was not without incident as he was forever putting down rebellions, usually carried out in the name of “Richard IV”, the younger Prince in the Tower who was deemed to have survived his uncle, Richard III.
Certainly enough people were convinced at the time it was possible the younger Prince survived. It was also common practice for the bodies of dead royals (especially kings) to be produced so the public could see that they were deceased (precisely to stop rumours of them still being alive happening and as a result preventing rebellions done in their name).
It would’ve been in Richard’s interests to do this himself (parading such bodies also helped subdue the nation out of fear) but he did not.
But one thing has struck me as really odd since reading The Daughter of Time. In the most serious rebellion against the new Tudor dynasty, the one led by Perkin Warbeck who claimed to be Richard IV, there are two people who could’ve identified whether this man was one of the missing Princes in the Tower and they were not called upon to provide that identification.
One of these people is Elizabeth of York, Henry VII’s wife and the sister of the missing Princes. Why wasn’t she asked? If Warbeck was a fake, Elizabeth could’ve said so and Henry would’ve paraded that fact.
The conclusion I’ve reached is Warbeck was not a fake and Henry knew it. He didn’t dare ask his wife. The other person is the boys’ and Elizabeth’s mother, Queen Elizabeth Woodville. Henry did not dare ask her either.
Books can be dangerous
As I said, books can be dangerous. They can make you ask awkward questions.
And Henry VII thought publications dangerous too given he destroyed Titulus Regius, the Act of Parliament giving Richard III the throne and justifying that decision. All copies were to be destroyed unread by anyone.
The only reason we know about the act is one copy survived and was copied by a monk into the Croyland Chronicle where it was discovered a century later by Sir George Buck, who wrote a defence of Richard III.
This happened in the reign of James I of England (who was also James VI of Scotland), basically the very time when the Tudors were no longer around.
Henry VII could have just publicly dismissed this act and proved it was wrong. His decision to destroy it unread tells me he could not.
BBC Radio 4: Sir William Walton’s evocative music
I discovered The Daughter of Time when Radio 4 Extra produced it as a programme divided over several episodes with Sir William Walton’s The Princes in the Tower as very moving background music to the narrative. The music is evocative and conjures up a bygone era and is worth listening to for its own sake.
Now let’s enjoy: Music: Richard III – A Shakespeare Suite (1994 Remastered Version) : 3. The Princes in the Tower; Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir William Walton
From Chandler’s Ford to the Tower of London
On finishing listening to the episodes, I had to get the book and read it for myself and am so glad I did.
One of my many excursions from Chandler’s Ford railway station has been to The Tower Of London where they show people around the traditional tower thought to be where the princes were incarcerated and eventually murdered (by suffocation, pillows over their heads as they slept).
On my last visit to the Tower, they held a vote for whom visitors thought was responsible for the deaths of the boys and although most still voted for Richard III, a significant number of people, including myself, voted for Henry VII, and the gap between the two kings was narrowing.
The Daughter of Time had recently been broadcast again and I think it had a significant effect on this vote. Dangerous book? I think so!
Henry VII had most to gain from the boys’ deaths and the most to lose if either or both boys were alive as they had a far superior claim to the throne. The only way for Henry to establish the Tudor dynasty was to marry Elizabeth of York and produce heirs and remove anyone with a better claim, such as the princes.
Richard III when a boy was smuggled out of the country for a time during the Wars of the Roses to what was known then as the Low Countries (Holland, Belgium etc) so there is every possibility Richard could’ve smuggled his nephews out of the country by a similar route and method used by himself to prevent them being a focus of rebellion.
He had declared them illegitimate so in his eyes they had no claim to the throne but was smart enough to realise others would use the boys against him if they could. Of course the big case against Richard is the fact he did have motive (wanted to secure the throne for himself) and opportunity but it is generally forgotten I think the two murder suspects did not have to kill the boys themselves.
Indeed they would have made sure they did not and would have used agents. It wasn’t just Richard who had agents working for him in London. Henry VII had many, including his mother, Margaret Beaufort, who was renowned at the time for being fanatically devoted to her son (which is a good enough cause for murder if you are prepared to do literally anything to advance someone’s cause and Margaret Beaufort was always agitating for her son).
The remains of Richard III
I can’t recommend this slim volume highly enough. I was fascinated when the remains of Richard III were found in the car park in Leicester and the programmes that accompanied this discovery.
The king is due to be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral this time in a special set of ceremonies in March this year.
Whilst most recognise that Shakespeare’s portrayal of Richard is propaganda for the Tudors (he could hardly tell his patron, Queen Elizabeth, that her grandfather, Henry VII had no right to the throne at all, even though that was true), I think more needs to be done to convince people that Richard III could be innocent of the thing he is supposedly most well known for.
I’m not a member of the Richard III Society but their website makes a fascinating read.
Video: Highlights From Richard III Starring Kevin Spacey
Why did Henry VII lock up his mother-in-law?
Oh and one other thing. After the Warbeck rebellion, Henry VII locked up his mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth Woodville, in a Bermondsey nunnery. Why?
I think it was because she was the only other one who could’ve identified Warbeck for certain and Henry did not like or was fearful Elizabeth Woodville would recognize Warbeck as her younger son.
It is also telling in Henry VII’s damning of Richard III in his opening parliament, the former does not openly accuse the latter of the boys’ murder. Why not?
The conclusion of the book is that the boys were still alive (and if that is the case, presumably they weren’t for long after Henry’s accession. He really could not let them survive. A monarch who had publicly declared them bastards could.).
Why do I recommend The Daughter of Time?
The Daughter of Time is an intriguing book and well worth reading. Be prepared to have your opinions challenged. Mine were.
I’d always taken it for granted that Shakespeare’s portrayal was reasonably accurate. This book shows otherwise.
And given our county’s emblem is the Tudor Rose, that symbol produced by Henry VII, who could well be the princes’ murderer, there is a kind of local link.
I’m sure our wonderful Chandler’s Ford Library can get the book in if not available on the shelves. The library also has a very good Facebook page, which I was pleased to come across while researching this article.
Given there is so much bad news with regard to libraries closing, let’s treasure ours. And if you want a read that’s different but gripping, I’d recommend The Daughter of Time.
Note: Don’t miss Allison’s next post on Friday 20th February 2015.
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