The Bloody Tower – A Brief Account

History

The Bloody Tower was one of the many towers that together constituted the Tower of London Complex. It was built in the early 1220s as part of the first wave of modifications of the Tower of London under the watchful gaze of King Henry III. The Tower was originally named Garden Tower because the upper storey opened on the parade ground which was formerly the Constable’s Garden. Notable people who suffered imprisonment and death include the Tudor Archbishop Cranmer, Bishops Ridley and Latimer, Protestant martyrs, a Lord Chancellor and Sir Walter Raleigh. Later on, the tower became synonymous with a gruesome murder that stained its legacy forever.

The Murder and noteworthy suspects 

The then thirteen-year-old Edward V and his brother, Richard Duke of York, were confined to the tower on the orders of their uncle, who was later crowned King Richard III. The mystery surrounding the tower continues to fascinate as well as baffle historians to this day. On one such fateful day in 1483, the Yorkist princes completely disappeared off the face of the earth, never to be heard of again. It is believed that the princes were killed in cold blood by their uncle. Since they were next in line to the throne, others vying for the royal seat viewed them as inconvenient roadblocks that needed to be obliterated. Richard was away from court on a progression through the Yorkist heartlands at the time the princes disappeared. If they had truly died at that time, he would have been unable to murder them in person. Instead, he must have dispatched one of his men to do the deed.

However, revisionists argue that Richard was portrayed as the villain owing to Tudor propaganda and that his successor, Henry VII, had the same reason for removing the two boys.

Some, regard Buckingham as a very plausible suspect since he had a number of potential motives. After his rebellion against Richard in October 1483 and his subsequent execution, it could be surmised that he and the king had fallen out, possibly due to Richard’s decision to murder the princes without Buckingham’s knowledge.

Many years hence, in 1674, bones presumed to belong to the young brothers were found when a staircase leading to the White Tower was demolished. The bones were later removed at the command of Charles II.

In popular culture 

According to local legends, the tower is haunted by the young boys’ spirits. Guards in the late fifteenth century had reported that when they passed the Bloody Tower, they caught sight of the shadows of two small figures, gliding down the stairs, still wearing the white nightshirts they had on the night they disappeared. The mystery of the Princes in the Tower has spawned best-selling novels such as Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time and four novels in Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War series, which has attracted the attention of historians and novelists alive. 

Presently, the tower is a popular tourist destination. The stories surrounding it piques the curiosity of many individuals, luring them to the enigma that the tower poses.

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