Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Princes in the Tower” as Want to Read:
The Princes in the Tower
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Princes in the Tower

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  5,327 Ratings  ·  349 Reviews
"Comprehensive and insightful, THE PRINCES IN THE TOWER offers a unique perspective on a profound mystery." Faye Kellerman

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 yo
ebook, 289 pages
Published September 21st 2011 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1992)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Princes in the Tower, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Stephen See my very biased review of Shakespeare's play, just posted today. It cites a couple of books both pro and anti-Ricardian. Allison Weir's is one;I…moreSee my very biased review of Shakespeare's play, just posted today. It cites a couple of books both pro and anti-Ricardian. Allison Weir's is one;I don't like its conclusions, but it needs to be read for background. Bertram Fields's book is as close to definitive as anyone is going to get I think. The evidence to convict Richard is not there. Tey and Kendall muster a lot of evidence that Richard was that rarity among kings of the era, a mensch. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
This is my favorite book to mutter angrily at. I actually told my library that I lost it and paid for it so I could keep the copy I had scribbled angry comments in the margins.

That said, it's an excellent overview of the historical scenario of the time--it's very readable, if a bit pulpy. Unfortunately, Weir did not go into writing this book with an open mind--she went in condemning Richard, and it shows.

I read this right after reading Josephine Tey's excellent and eye-opening The Daughter of Ti
Sep 28, 2016 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love history and I love mysteries so it was only a matter of time before I read more about The Princes in the Tower - especially considering that Brad and I covered the first part of The Wars of the Roses (WOTR) in August.

For anyone wanting to read this: yes, there might be a few facts I'm going to state that could be considered spoilers. Only read the review if you don't mind.

As in her first book about the WOTR, this author shows a lot of skill and diligence in collecting data and quoting sou
In the Author's Preface that introduces this book, Weir states, "We are dealing here with facts, not just speculation or theories, which I have tried very hard to avoid." This is quickly followed by the first sentence of the first chapter, which reads, "Modern writers on the subject of the Princes in the Tower have tended to fall into two categories: those who believe Richard III guilty of the murder of the Princes but are afraid to commit themselves to any confident conclusions, and those who w ...more
Melisende d'Outremer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 23, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: european history geeks
This book focuses around the short lives and mysterious death of the two sons of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. (Who, as a fun little anecdote, Edward IV threatened at knifepoint to get her to marry him. In any case.) They were declared illegitimate after Richard III took power, and imprisoned in the Tower of London and were never seen again. Richard III supposedly had them murdered within a year of this time. Alison Weir does clearly have a bias against Richard, but I think that the bias is ...more
I'm going to make a couple disclaimers right now:

If you think that Richard III is the best most misunderstood man to ever exist; that he never did anything wrong, never had any ambition, and was most definitely not capable of violence or infidelity; this book is not for you. Move on. Open another screen. Re-read "The Sunne in Splendour" for the fiftieth time (because I've heard that one is rather sympathetic, if fictional).

Furthermore, I should probably add that although I share her opinion of R
Jun 27, 2011 Orsolya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Princes in the Tower (these would be Edward V and brother Richard-- sons of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville); is a fascinating and unsolved mystery (cue Robert Stack) which hundreds of years later, STILL raises eyebrows, bogs some minds, and interests history and non-history buffs alike.

The desperately unlikable usurper Richard III, who does have a claim to the throne as a decendent of Richard, Duke of York who descends from both Lionel (Duke of Clarence) and Edmund (Duke of York) wh
This is the 3rd Alison Weir book I've read, and the 2nd that wasn't all that.

I agree with some of the other reviewers that Weir began the book with the assumption that Richard did indeed have his nephews killed. And I also agree that this lack of objectivity finds its way into her writing.

That said, I also think Richard is guilty of his nephews' murder. I don't know that he had any choice, given his situation. I'm not sure that his guilt makes him any worse a person than Margaret of Anjou, who l
Pete daPixie
Having read the Bertram Fields 'Royal Blood' investigation into this fifteenth century murder mystery, I travelled back in time to examine Alison Weir's 1992 publication of 'The Princes in the Tower.' Of the two, I have to go with Weir's verdict and pronounce Dick III guilty. Here was a coup, perhaps with Buckingham's help among others, but with Richard's hands all over it. Bloody hands too at Stony Stratford. All these dark deeds undertaken on his watch. No surprise he had trouble sleeping at n ...more
Mike Dixon
Nov 12, 2013 Mike Dixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are looking for an action-packed novel with heroes and heroines don't read this book. If you are a fan of Richard III and believe he was the victim of malicious lies then you probably won't like it either. But, if you are intrigued by how historians can piece together the past then I would recommend it.
Alison Weir examines the rapidly evolving events following the death of Edward IV, in March 1483, to Richard's coronation three months later. She marshals an impressive body of information
Ana Mardoll
Oct 17, 2013 Ana Mardoll rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ana-reviewed
The Princes in the Tower / B007I5QO50

I am very fond of Alison Weir's histories, and have an interest in the Princes in the Tower, so I expected to enjoy this historical account, even knowing that it is several years old now (and now somewhat out of date since Richard III's bones have been disinterred from the car park). Having read this book twice -- both before and after the disinterment -- I am perfectly satisfied that it lives up to Weir's tradition of excellent writing and engrossing scholar
Aug 13, 2011 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Medievalist Alison Weir sets her sights on one of history's most controversial mysteries with this volume. At the conclusion of the Wars of the Roses in England, everyone thought that things would settle down. The House of York had defeated the House of Lancaster and seemed firmly in control of the country with Edward IV ruling. The only problem is that Edward dies with his two sons Edward and Richard in the minority (ages 12 and 10).

Edward's brother Richard definitely was loyal during the civil
Apr 10, 2013 Shelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Alison Weir sets out to make the case that Richard III murdered the princes in the tower, his nephews Edward V and Richard, Duke of York. It's clear from the start that she despises Richard and she views all evidence in light of how it might show his guilt. While I don't disagree with the idea that he was the most likely person to have ordered the murder of the princes, what I found most convincing was something she hinted at but never really explored in her narrative (because she was too busy h ...more
Apr 12, 2016 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 2013-reads
I have read Alison Weir before, her biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her overview history of The Wars of the Roses, and have found her enjoyable. However, I was disappointed less than 30 pages into this book and it never improved. I read Princes in the Tower to contrast a biography of Richard III by Paul Murray Kendall, unfortunately instead of well thought out case for Richard III has the murderer of the Princes, I got Sir Thomas More 2.0 and arch villain of Shakespeare.

I give credit to We
From the start, Weir states that she believes that Richard III is guilty. I've actually always thought this, based on the evidence, but Weir seems to go above and beyond. Other reviewers have said that she's quite biased against Richard, and though I don't disagree, I still feel that she has some valid points.

One issue I had with the book, though, is that it kind of reminded me of a History Channel or Discovery Channel special where they advertise it as finally solving a certain mystery, such a
May 24, 2011 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was an enjoyable read, the topic fascinating, but I also found it very frustrating for the first half of the text. The arguments were sloppily constructed and not nearly as convincing as Weir kept telling us they were. By the end of the book, I felt her arguments were more grounded and convincing as she added in later evidence, but the overall construction of the book and the fleshing out of the argument seemed poorly organized and therefore came across as much less convincing to me as ...more
Lynne Stringer
I enjoyed Weir's book and found the arguments she put forward to demonstrate that Richard III was indeed responsible for the death of the princes was well presented and convincing, although I haven't heard an alternate argument. Still, I think it's most likely he was responsible, since he had motive and opportunity.
Katherine Gilraine
Weir presents her evidence, but while she promised to examine it objectively, it's clear as soon as she begins on Richard's accession to the throne that she firmly believes him to be guilty. That is nowhere near objective, first of all, and secondly, she glosses over that Richard and John Morton had a falling-out over the war in France. Human nature is human nature, and if John Morton was keeping a grudge, then I severely doubt he'd tell Thomas More an impartial account of Richard's court.

May 10, 2011 Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m clearly a fan of Weir as both an historian and a writer of historical fiction. And I was no less impressed with her research behind the murder of Edward IV’s two young sons, Edward V and Richard, the Duke of York, at the hands of Richard III – who usurped the English throne during the tumultuous years now referred to as the War of the Roses.

Although there is certainly no surprise that Weir reaches her verdict that Richard is solely responsible for ordering the two princes deaths while locke
Aug 07, 2014 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before and while I read this book, I read some of the negative reviews people posted. I read them out of curiosity more than anything else since this is not the first of Weir's books I've read and I know that I immensely enjoy her writing and insight.

One of the most common criticisms of the book is that people were hoping to read an objective account and that Weir was biased from the beginning. I'm not arguing her bias in the book itself, but I wonder if these people all skipped over the first c
Aug 12, 2016 lia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I'm of two minds on ALison Weir's The Princes in the Tower. At first it was good, and descriptive. Weir explains her sources and chronologically guides us to what happened with the young princes. It means that we can get a good details of Edward IV and his reign and Richard III when he was still duke of Gloucester.

But it dwindled after that. It was like Weir was having personal vendetta against him. She passionately pointing out in every imaginable ways why we have to think Richard III is the m
Aug 16, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mid 4. Weir stipulates the root cause behind the ensuing tragedy of the Princes in the Tower as being their father's miscalculation of the extent of loyalty to the succession of his own brother and leading courtiers, and his failure to make appropriate provision in his will should he happen to die before his heir apparent achieved his majority. Thus, when Edward IV died suddenly of pneumonia in April 1483 it was inevitable that a power struggle would erupt within the ensuing vacuum of recognised ...more
Revisionists, beware! Oh, those are the people who think Richard lll was not responsible for ordering the deaths of his two nephews. Those people are like crazy cultists to me, delusional and desperately not wanting their strange little pet Tricky Dick to have his name sullied.

Weir clearly is not a revisionist and she sets about to present the outstanding evidence in a methodical, cogently written book.

This subject has always pulled at my heartstrings and apparently it upset even the most hard
Written before her excellent book on the Wars of the Roses, The Princes in the Tower deals with the latter end of the conflict from the death of Edward IV onwards, as Alison Weir lays out a convincing argument for Richard III being the murderer of the Princes as well as the doer of many other dastardly deeds, therefore prompting the conflict with the Tudors that spelt the end of the sorry saga of the Yorks and Lancasters.

Despite having previously been staunchly loyal to his brother, Edward IV, R
May 30, 2010 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A careful and thorough examination of the evidence related to the fate of the princes in the tower.

Weir does her best to be objective, beginning with a very thorough evaluation of the credibility of the major contemporary and near-contemporary sources. One of the things that this book makes clear is that the documentary evidence is scant enough, and some of the events just plain odd enough, that it's impossible not to bring some biases and assumptions to one's interpretations of events. Weir, a
Oct 10, 2007 Christia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book sat on my shelf for years before I actually read all of it. I'm sure it is partly because out of the 5 books I've read that involve Richard III and the Princes in the tower, 4 (all fiction) have been pro Richard, that I still have a difficult time believing he was as evil as some would like to believe. The entire political situation covered and the behavior of the individuals who were involved is more deliciously scandalous than you could ever imagine. No one, literally, could make thi ...more
Sep 10, 2016 Kristy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weir sets out to review all the available evidence on the fate of the two Yorkist prices (Edward V and his brother, Richard) who went into the Tower of London during the rule of their uncle, Richard III, and were never seen again. Weir is staunchly in the "Richard did it" camp and deftly brings together centuries of documentation, interpretation, and research to bolster her claim. I liked that she didn't go 100% Shakespeare and claim that Richard was evil or necessarily more scheming than anyone ...more
Mark Freckleton
Apr 28, 2010 Mark Freckleton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of 13-year old King Edward V and his younger brother, the Duke of York, who were shut up in the Tower of London by their Uncle, Richard of Gloucester, later King Richard III, so that he could become king in the place of his nephew. The mystery has remained that since 1482: what happened to the two boys. Bones were found in under the stairway of a house adjacent to the tower in the late 1600s that seemed to be those of two boys, but once the uncle shut them away they were never seen aga ...more
Erik Graff
Jan 20, 2013 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English history fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Having read Tey's famous novel, I thought reading a contrary account by an historian would be adviseable. Besides, knowing a bit about the Tudors from Henry VIII through Elizabeth, I wanted to learn more about the first Tudor king, Henry VII. Finally, having seen Shakespeare's Richard III, I wanted to be able to compare his representation of the monarch with the historical evidence.
Weir certainly gives the appearance of being on top of the material, such as it is, regarding the reign of Richard
Keith Akers
Dec 22, 2014 Keith Akers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, solid analysis of the historical data, and very convincing to me. I read this book after we saw the DVD version of the TV series "The White Queen." Let's just say that the perspective in Weir's book about "who did it" is much different from that in the TV series. This doesn't totally invalidate the TV series; it's entertaining and the basic outline of events is the same, though with some key differences of detail.

What really convinced me was all the circumstantial evidence and the interlo
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation
  • Blood Sisters:  The Women Behind The War Of The Roses
  • Elizabeth Wydeville: The Slandered Queen
  • After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England
  • Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs
  • Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty
  • Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes
  • Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen
  • Monarchy: England and Her Rulers from the Tudors to the Windsors
  • The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England's Most Infamous Family
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
  • Sovereign Ladies: The Six Reigning Queens of England
  • Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe
  • The Queen's Secret (Queens of England, #7)
  • Richard III and the Princes in the Tower
  • Richard the Third
  • Tudor Queens of England
  • Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Alison Weir (born 1951) is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens. She currently lives in Surrey, England, with her two children.

Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs. She received her
More about Alison Weir...

Share This Book