Aaron's Reviews > The Princes in the Tower

The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir
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's review
Aug 13, 2011

it was amazing

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 wars between the Yorks and Lancasters, but the loss of his brother with two young heirs provided him with a major opportunity to grab the throne for himself. There is no questions that he had the two princes taken and placed in the Tower of London, which would later gain a reputation of being a horrible prison. With that said, not everyone agrees that he was responsible for their deaths even though they disappeared at that time.

With her usual thorough research, Weir presents information from contemporary, later historical, and modern works that examine the question of whether or not the two brothers were killed by their uncle in an attempt to prove the truth.

Weir starts by presenting a historiography (the study of the study of history and the changing biases over time) to highlight how views about events have changed dramatically over time. This is largely due to the fact that there is little contemporary documentation that provided a clear statement of what happened to the two princes.

While she has no trouble in piling up the evidence against Richard, who ruled for a period as Richard III before being removed by the first of the Tudor kings (Henry VII), she is also careful to highlight how his enemies did much to demonize him further, even to go so far as to change painting to make him appear a hunchback with unequally-lengthed arms and a constant sneer.

Weir has a talent for writing documentary works in a narrative that is so comfortable that it sometimes feels like you are reading fiction. She always uses a wealth of quotations and information drawn directly from contemporary resources, even items such as household budgets, making the people living at the time come to life for the reader.

I really enjoyed seeing how the Tudors, who were actually really minor nobility in Wales until just a generation before becoming the ruling dynasty, came to be front and center.

Alison Weir never disappoints! This is just further evidence of that.
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