Edward V

Edward V, 1470–83?, king of England (1483), elder son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. His father's death (1483) left the boy king the pawn of the conflicting ambitions of his paternal uncle, the duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) and his maternal uncle, Earl Rivers. Gloucester had Rivers arrested and confined the king and the king's younger brother, Richard, duke of York, to the Tower of London. The young princes were declared illegitimate, and Gloucester, with a show of reluctance, took the throne. The two children disappeared from the English scene, and it is likely that they were murdered. However, conclusive proof of their exact fate has never been found. One of the oldest and most prevalent theories—that they were smothered in their sleep by order of Richard III—was propagated or even invented by the victorious Tudors after 1485, and it has been suggested that Henry Stafford, 2d duke of Buckingham, or Henry VII, as well as Richard III, could have been responsible for the death of the princes. Skeletons, presumed to be those of the princes, were unearthed in the Tower in 1674. The skeletons were thought to be those of boys aged 12–13 and 10, the ages of the princes in 1483.

See P. Kendall, Richard the Third (1955).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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