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Stone handaxe
THIS small handaxe is one of the most beautiful in the British Museum. It is made from quartz with attractive amethyst banding, a difficult material from which to make tools because it is extremely hard. The toolmaker would have had to hit with considerable force and accuracy to remove flakes. Such a high degree of difficulty makes the thin, symmetrical shape of this piece a masterpiece of the toolmakers’ art.
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Edward V and Richard III (1483 - 1485)
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Edward V and Richard III (1483 - 1485)Edward V (1483)
Edward V, never crowned, is remembered as one of the two “Princes in the Tower”. He was born in 1470, during the Wars of the Roses, when his mother had sought sanctuary in Westminster Abbey and his father Edward IV had fled abroad.

King Edward IV died in April 1483. His brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, acted swiftly to snatch the young king from his mother’s family, the Woodvilles. Young Edward and his brother Richard were lodged in the Tower of London, then a royal residence as well as a prison.

Church, Lords and Commons declared that Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville had been illegal – and that his sons were therefore illegitimate. Richard of Gloucester was offered the Crown, and by the autumn the young princes had vanished. Their fate remains a mystery.

Richard III (1483-1485)
Few kings of England divide opinion more sharply than Richard III. Born at Fotheringhay Castle in 1452, Richard clearly had ability and fought bravely in the Roses Wars. He had a dark side – he was probably present at the murder of Henry VI in 1471 – but was also generous and kindly. Marriage to Anne Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick, brought Richard land and wealth, especially in northern England where he was a popular and fair governor.

“He came into the world with the feet forward – as men be borne out of it – and (as the fame runs) also not untoothed.”
Sir Thomas More, Tudor historian, on the “unnatural birth” of Richard III


Murder most royal ?
The two princes were seen playing in the Tower garden, and last glimpsed through barred windows. It’s probable that the boys were murdered in August 1483. Bones found in 1674buried in a wooden box (other remains came to light in the 1980s) were buried in Westminster Abbey on the orders of Charles II. The chief suspect (if murder it was) must be Richard III, though some think both Henry Tudor and the Duke of Buckingham also had a motive, with the Crown in their sights.


The Woodvilles feared Richard and he detested them, hence his swift action in April 1483 in removing the fatherless Edward V from the Woodvilles’ clutches while the boy travelled under escort from his home in Ludlow to London. Arrests and executions removed Richard’s opponents and he was crowned on 6 July.

Rumours that the Princes in the Tower were dead were never scotched, for Richard failed to produce his nephews. He weathered Buckingham’s rebellion in 1483, then lost his only son Edward in 1484 and his wife in 1485. Later that year, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, landed in Wales from France to mount his challenge for the throne.

The rivals met at Bosworth Field, where Richard died fighting bravely. The crown he wore so briefly was seized by a new dynasty, the Tudors, and it was their account of “Richard Crookback” that passed into legend.

Uncrowned king
Edward V, from a XV century painted panel. The crown above (but not on) his head indicates that he was never crowned king.

Edward V and Richard III (1483 - 1485)


Doomed Duo
A XIX-century portrait of the tragic young princes by Sir John Everett Millais.

Edward V and Richard III (1483 - 1485)


Richard the King
This portrait of Richard III by an unknown artist shows no sign of the “crookback” deformity made much of in later characterizations. Was the artist fearful of showing it or did it not exist?

Edward V and Richard III (1483 - 1485)




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