Daughter of Time: Research & History: Claims 11 & 12

Ingrid Bergman as Anastasia being accepted
by the Dowager Empress. In real life, none
of the remaining Romanovs ever accepted
a self-proclaimed Anastasia.
While researching what truly happened regarding the princes in the tower, Grant (and Brent) postulate several scenarios. Although I am not qualified to judge the truthfulness of their scenarios, I can comment on several of the claims accompanying the scenarios.

Claim 11: If Richard had killed his  nephews, he would have published accounts of their deaths. After all, there is no point in having dead heirs if other people will claim they are still alive.

Consider Grand Duchess Anastasia. (And yes, the infamous impostor Anna Anderson was nuts. Added to which, in-depth forensic analysis of the assassinations of Czar Nicholas and his family indicate clearly that no one got out of that cellar alive.)

I think Grant and Brent have a point but miss out on context: according to one theory, Richard or one of Richard's cohorts reportedly ordered the boys killed on the eve of invasion as a kind of fail-safe. If this theory is correct, the deaths weren't thought through (and possibly not even approved); there certainly wouldn't be time to concoct, publish, and broadcast an official account.

Even if the boys died naturally (which I consider possible), I suspect that presenting the boys' dead bodies to the populace as fever victims would have been risky in the extreme. Richard had JUST taken the throne (he ascended to the throne in summer 1483 and was killed in battle in summer 1485). Having 2 "sweet" boys killed off on the eve of his royal triumph would hardly have made Richard look good (Henry VII and VIII would wait for their victims to hit adulthood before discovering excuses to order executions--how much difference a few years make!).

Claim 12 is one of Tey's sillier claims (yes, she does have them). The boys reportedly disappeared from view in 1483. (They were being kept under close guard in the Tower.) Their mother, Edward IV's wife, and her daughters returned to court. This is admittedly a bit odd. But Grant's deduction is still odder:
"Where would one have to go to meet a woman who became matey with the murderer of her two boys?" he exclaims, the implication of his indignation being that members of the royal family would never put their well-being above their children's. 
"How would you play her?" he later asks his girlfriend, Marta (an actress). "The woman who came out of sanctuary and made friends with her children's murderer for seven hundred marks per annum and the right to go to parties at the Palace." 
Grant makes at least two mistakes here: (1) he assumes that the prince's deaths correspond to their disappearance from the historical record.

Granted, Grant is making the same assumption as the historians he criticizes--all the more reason Grant should know better! The princes may have been killed in 1483; they may have been killed in 1485. Nobody really knows.

(2) Grant applies his own appraisal of how women should behave in 1950 to a medieval queen in the 1480s.

I'm guessing that Tey's interest in Richard was a limited--though fascinating--foray into history. Speaking historically, many royal mothers have shown less than maternal feelings (occasionally, too much). James VI of Scotland and I of England, the son of Mary Queen of Scots, never even knew his mother and made little effort to avenge her execution by Queen Elizabeth I. Queen Caroline, married to George II, had a less than satisfactory relationship with her son, Prince Frederick, who produced George III. Queen Victoria had strained relationships with several of her children, including the prince regent.

Before becoming queen, Elizabeth I did
everything in her power to placate a sister who 
feared her and a father who contrived the
execution of her mother: survival trumped all.
There are no murders here (in fairness to Grant, English queens showed far more loyalty to their children than to their husbands). However, the assumption that a royal mother will always act in the best interest of her child strains credulity. Consider that Jane Seymour's mother handed over her daughter to a man (Henry VIII) with a bad marriage record without apparently batting an eye.

In defense of Tey as a writer, I must add that Grant is reacting in character. He is a very smart guy with a blind spot, that blind spot being women in general (though not specifically). He understands his housekeeper and his girlfriend. That's about it. Otherwise, he seems to adopt the usual attitudes of a British man of his time (1950s). He fails to recognize that even if Elizabeth Woodville (mother of the princes) wasn't so blackhearted as to condone her sons' murders, she might be cunning enough to placate the king holding them captive. Plus, she has other children to worry about. When Grant later discusses Elizabeth of York, who married Henry VII, the man Grant does think murdered the princes (Elizabeth's brothers), he assigns her willingness to marry a monster to survival instinct.

So if Grant can accept that Elizabeth of York acted out of instinctive self-protection, why not accept that her mother might have acted out of the same motivation? 

Tey has made the same mistake here that, unfortunately, many historians make in reverse. Because Tey likes Richard and loathes Henry VII, she--through Grant--maintains that a good woman would have no practical reason to fear Richard but loads of practical reasons to fear Henry. Of course, Tey never saw an episode of Big Brother (he who holds the purse strings . . . )

I have no doubt that Henry would have killed the boys if they were alive when he took over the Tower. I also find it plausible that the boys were killed under Richard's aegis.

More to follow . . .

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