The Great Debate of

King Richard III


That Fabyan and the authors of the Chronicle of Croyland, who were contemporaries with Richard, charge him directly with none of the crimes, since imputed to him, and disculpate him of others.

That John Rous, the third contemporary, could know the facts he alledges but by hearsay, confounds the dates of them, dedicated his work to Henry the Seventh, and is an author to whom no credit is due, from the lies and fables with which his work is stuffed.

That we have no authors, who lived near the time, but Lancastrian authors, who wrote to flatter Henry the Seventh, or who spread the tales which he invented.

That the murder of Prince Edward, son of Henry the Sixth, was committed by King Edwardís servants, and is imputed to Richard by no contemporary.

That Henry the Sixth was found dead in the Tower; that it was not known how he came by his death; and that it was against Richardís interest to murder him.

That the Duke of Clarence was defended by Richard; that the parliament petitioned for his execution; that no author of the time is so absurd as to charge Richard with being the executioner; and that King Edward took the deed wholly on himself.

That Richardís stay at York on his brotherís death had no appearance of a design to make himself king.

That the ambition of the queen, who attempted to usurp the government, contrary to the then established custom of the realm, gave the first provocation to Richard and the princes of the blood to assert their rights; and that Richard was solicited by the Duke of Buckingham to vindicate those rights.

That the preparation of an armed force under Earl Rivers, the seizure of the Tower and treasure, and the equipment of a fleet, by the Marquess of Dorset, gave occasion to the princes to imprison the relations of the queen; and that, though they were put to death without trail (the only cruelty which is proved on Richard) it was consonant to the manners of that barbarous and turbulent age, and not till after the queenís party had taken up arms.

That the execution of Lord Hastings, who had first engaged with Richard against the queen, and whom Sir Thomas More confesses Richard was loth to lose, can be accounted for by nothing but absolute necessity, and the law of self-defence.

That Richardís assumption of the protectorate was in every respect agreeable to the laws and usage; was probably bestowed on him by the universal consent of the council and peers, and was a strong indication that he had then no thought of questioning the right of his nephew.

That the tale of Richard aspersing the chastity of his own mother is incredible; it appearing that he lived with her in perfect harmony, and lodged with her in her palace at that very time.

That it is as little credible that Richard gained the crown by a sermon of Dr Shaa, and a speech of the Duke of Buckingham, if the people only laughed at those orators.

That there had been a precontract or marriage between Edward the Fourth and Lady Eleanor Talbot; and that Richardís claim to the crown was founded on the illegitimacy of Edwardís children.

That a convention of the nobility, clergy, and people invited him to accept the crown on that title.

That the ensuing parliament ratified the act of the convention, and confirmed the bastardy of Edwardís children.

That nothing can be more improbable than Richardís having taken no measures before he left London, to have his nephews murdered, if he had had any such intention.

That the story of Sir James Tyrell, as related by Sir Thomas More, is a notorious falsehood; Sir James Tyrell being at the time master of the horse, in which capacity he had walked at Richardís coronation.

That Tyrellís jealousy of Sir Richard Ratcliffe is another palpable falsehood; Tyrell being already preferred, and Ratcliffe absent.

That all that relates to Sir Robert Brackenbury is no less false; Brackenbury either being too good a man to die for a tyrant or murderer, or too bad a man to have refused being his accomplice.

That Sir Thomas More and Lord Bacon both confess that many doubted, whether the two princes were murdered in Richardís days or not; and it certainly never was proved that they were murdered by Richardís order.

That Sir Thomas More relied on nameless and uncertain authority; that it appears by dates and facts that his authorities were bad and false; that if Sir James Tyrell and Dighton had really committed the murder and confessed it, and if Perkin Warbeck had made a voluntary, clear, and probable confession of his imposture, there could have remained no doubt of the murder.

That Green, the nameless page, and Will Slaughter, having never been questioned about the murder, there is no reason to believe what is related of them in the supposed tragedy.

That Sir James Tyrell not being attained on the death of Richard, but having, on the contrary, been employed in great services by Henry the Seventh, it is not probable that he was one of the murderers. That Lord Bacon owning that Tyrellís confession did not please the king so well as Dightonís; that Tyrellís imprisonment and execution some years afterwards for a new treason, of which we have no evidence, and which appears to have been mere suspicion, destroy all probability of his guilt in the supposed murder of the children.

That the impunity of Dighton, if really guilty, was scandalous; and can only be accounted for on the supposition of his being a false witness to serve Henryís cause against Perkin Warbeck.

That the silence of the two archbishops, and Henryís not daring to specifiy the murder of the princes in the act of attainder against Richard, wears all the appearance of their not having been murdered.

That Richardís tenderness and kindness to the Earl of Warwick, proceeding so far as to proclaim him his successor, betrays no symptom of that cruel nature, which would not stick at assassinating any competitor.

That it is indubitable that Richardís first idea was to keep the crown but till Edward the Fifth should attain the age of twenty-four.

That with this view he did not create his own son Prince of Wales till after he had proved the bastardy of his brotherís children.

That there is no proof that those children were murdered.

That Richard made, or intended to make, his nephew Edward the Fifth walk at his coronation.

That there is strong presumption from the parliament-roll and from the Chronicle of Croyland, that both parties were living some time after Sir Thomas More fixes the date of their deaths.

That when his own son was dead, Richard was so far from intending to get rid of his wife, that he proclaimed his nephews, first the Earl of Warwick, and then the Earl of Lincoln, his heirs apparent.

That there is not the least probability of his have poisoned his wife, who died of a languishing distemper; that no proof was ever pretended to be given of it; that a bare supposition of such a crime, without proofs or very strong presumptions, is scarce ever to be credited.

That he seems to have no intention of marrying his niece, but to have amused her with the hopes of that march, to prevent her marrying Richmond.

That Buc would not have dared to quote her letter as extant in the Earl of Arundelís library, if it had not been there: that others of Bucís assertions having been corroborated by subsequent discoveries, leave no doubt of his veracity on this; and that that letter disculpates Richard from poisoning his wife; and only shows the impatience of his niece to be queen.

That it is probable that the queen-dowager knew her second son was living, and connived at the appearance of Lambert Simnel, to feel the temper of the nation.

That Henry the Seventh certainly thought that she and the Earl of Lincoln were privy to the existence of Richard, Duke of York, and that Henry lived in terror of his appearance.

That the different conduct of Henry with regard to Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, implies how different an opinion he had of them; that, in the first case, he used the most natural and most rational methods to prove him an impostor; whereas his whole behaviour in Perkinís case was mysterious, and betrayed his belief or doubt that Warbeck was the true Duke of York.

That it was morally impossible for the Duchess of Burgundy at the distance of twenty-seven years to instruct a Flemish lad so perfectly in all that had passed in the court of England, that he would not have detected in few hours.

That she could not inform him, nor could he know, what had passed in the Tower, unless he was the true Duke of York.

That if he was not the true Duke of York, Henry had nothing to do but confront him with Tyrell and Dighton, and the imposture must have been discovered.

That Perkin, never being confronted with the queen-dowager, and the princesses her daughters, proves that Henry did not dare trust to their acknowledging him.

That if he were not the true Duke of York, he might have been detected by not knowing the queens and princesses, if shown to him without his being told who they were.

That it is not pretended that Perkin ever failed in language, accent, or circumstances; and that his likeness to Edward the Fourth is allowed.

That there are gross and manifest blunders in his confession.

That Henry was so afraid of not ascertaining a good account of the purity of his English accent, that he makes him learn English twice over.

That Lord Bacon did not dare to adhere to this ridiculous account; but forges another, though in reality, not much more credible.

That a number of Henryís best friends, as the lord chamberlain, who placed the crown on his head, knights of the garter, and men of the fairest characters, being persuaded that Perkin was the true Duke of York, and dying for that belief, without recanting, makes it very rash to deny that he was so.

That the proclamation in Rymerís Foedera against Jane Shore, for plotting with the Marquess Dorset, not with Lord Hastings, destroys all the credit of Sir Thomas More, as to what relates to the latter peer.

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