Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Lucy Worsley on the Princes in the Tower

A friend tipped me off that Lucy Worsley’s recent programme about the fate of the Princes in the Tower from her series Lucy Worsley Investigates was available on BBC iplayer last night and I tuned in to the site.

As with so many history programmes there were the virtually inevitable costumed figures looking pensive or enigmatic in mood inducing tableaux, but one expects that. Less expected was the cameraman or director’s obsession with Lucy Worsley’s shoes…. but then it is a BBC production. However those things apart the programme was basically good.

There was a good range of locations and a sense of place was communicated as was the use of contemporary source material such as Dominic Mancini’s account of the events of 1483, and their evaluation.

The academics interviewed all seemed to agree as to the guilt of King Richard III in respect of the deaths of his two nephews, so this was therefore, in my opinion, an eminently sound programme.

I was not aware of the re-dating of the King Edward V coins to them actually being produced in the reign of his uncle. Issuing them does look rather odd and does to modern eyes at least look a bit like a cover-up or disinformation.

The Richard III Society chairman was not, I thought, very impressive in his arguments and seemed rather to be clutching at straws. If Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck had been genuinely the sons of King Edward IV why did they have a biography as themselves, and they would not have survived as Simnel did and Warbeck could have done if he had not gone rogue again. A genuine pretender does not pretend to be another pretender pretending to be them ....

The programme drew upon the recent work of Prof Tim Thornton as to Thomas More’s sources for his detailed account of the murder of the Princes. This research indicates that More certainly was in a position to talk to at least the son of one of the reputed hired killers. Thst does of course beg the question as to how you sit down with somebody and ask about how their father carried out a contact killing of two boys…. 

This segment was filmed at Buckfast Abbey which now houses as a relic the hair shirt More gave on the eve of his execution to a family member. The point Lucy Worsley drew from this was Thomas More’ commitment to truth. He was not just a hack writing propaganda.

The programme could have been longer and more detailed but was nevertheless worth watching. 

The programme is one of a set of four in which Lucy Worsley looks at historical questions - the Witch hunts, the Black Death and the Madness of King George III, and I shall try to catch up with those.

1 comment:

Matthew F Kluk said...

The episode on King George III was very poignant.