We had a fairly regular replacement history teacher when I was at school. A retired teacher, his passion for the subject was plain and undiminished. There were two things he would frequently teach his class. He would walk into the classroom, wipe the floor with his finger and then stick it in his mouth, to choruses of (vaguely admiring, form the boys at least) shocked disgust. He would then loudly ask a random student ‘What did I just do!’, to which the stunned pupil blurted out ‘Wiped the floor with you finger and licked it, sir.’ ‘No I didn’t,’ he would reply, and slowly demonstrate that he used one one finger to wipe the mucky floor and then licked a different one. ‘Not everything is quite what you might think at first glance.’ This, obviously, only worked once per class, but it shouts of a need to interrogate what we see and hear.
His other great mantra was that there are only three things that you need to know about history. ‘Evidence, Evidence, Evidence’. It is a constant cry, too, of those who argue about elements of 1483, never more so than around the pre-contract story. There is no direct evidence of a pre-contract, but neither is there direct evidence to deny it. We must, instead, examine the limited circumstantial evidence that exists. Many write that the lack of direct evidence proves conclusively that there was no pre-contract, but that is to ignore the circumstantial evidence that remains.
There are three key elements to the spring of 1483 that cannot be decisively proven either way. The first is a Woodville plot against Richard, which would explain his arrest of Rivers, Grey and Vaughan, Elizabeth Woodville’s flight into sanctuary (making it an act of guilty fear), and Richard’s desire to drive them from government. What evidence is there that such a plot existed? Several sources state that Hastings called Richard to London because the Woodvilles were planning a coup in defiance of Edward IV’s last wishes. Thomas Grey, son of Elizabeth Woodville and half-brother to Edward V, is supposed to have told the Council that his family were powerful enough to rule without Richard and that they would not wait for his arrival to set a date for the coronation.
Dominic Mancini, notably one of the few contemporary, eye witness accounts to survive, wrote that on his arrival in London Richard provided evidence of the Woodville plot that he had thwarted. ‘For ahead of the procession they sent four wagons loaded with weapons bearing the devices of the queen’s brothers and sons, besides criers to make generally known throughout the crowded places by whatsoever way they passed, that these arms had been collected by the duke’s enemies and stored at convenient spots outside the capital, so as to attack and slay the duke of Gloucester coming from the country.’ Mancini continues to offer his opinion that the plot was not real, ‘Since many knew these charges to be false, because the arms in question had been placed there long before the late king’s death for an altogether different purpose, when war was being waged against the Scots, mistrust both of his accusation and designs upon the throne was exceedingly augmented.’ The veracity of the existence of a plot is different to a lack of evidence of one. This is documented evidence of a plot. You may believe Mancini in judging it a trick, but it is evidence nonetheless.
If the plot existed, it explains Richard’s subsequent actions. If not, and Mancini’s proposition that these were arms stockpiled for war against Scotland were true, it is an early sign of less than noble intentions on Richard’s part. War with Scotland had taken place the previous year. Richard had led it, which might mean he would know where weapons were stockpiled. This, though, is to assume Richard’s early evil intent. What if the weapons were being prepared for a Woodville bid for power? Stony Stratford, where Rivers had taken Edward V, was a Woodville manor, an ideal place for an ambush. Is it really impossible? I can’t say that the plot was real, but I can’t say that it wasn’t. Is it unreasonable to think Richard could have believed in a plot? Probably not. There is evidence of it. Four wagon loads of evidence.
The issue of Lord Hastings’ execution is another troublesome incident for the lack of decisive evidence. We know that Hastings was at a small Council meeting in the Tower when he was accused of plotting against Richard, hauled outside and beheaded. The discussion of Richard’s right to act in this matter is detailed in a previous post, but what about evidence? Polydore Virgil, writing around twenty years later for Henry VII and not an eye witness, claimed that ‘the Lord Hastings … called together unto Paul’s church such friends as he knew to be right careful for the life, dignity, and estate of prince Edward, and conferred with them what best was to be done.’ This seems to indicate that Hastings was, in fact, plotting against Richard even before he arrived in London. Virgil is certainly no apologist for Richard III, yet he offers evidence suggestive of a plot by Hastings. If news of this meeting reached Richard, perhaps via William Catesby, is it unreasonable that he might believe Hastings plotted to his own end, just as he had accused the Woodvilles of doing? Hastings perhaps fell foul of the paranoia he himself had sown in the Protector’s mind.
Sir Thomas More (who I am loath to classify as a provider of evidence) wrote, later than Virgil, that ‘for the further appeasing of the people’s mind, he sent immediately after dinner in all the haste, one herald of arms, with a proclamation to be made through the city in the King’s name, containing that the Lord Hastings with diverse others of his traitorous purpose had before conspired the same day to have slain the Lord Protector and the Duke if Buckingham while sitting in the Council’. This story is backed up by the eye witness Mancini, who reported that ‘to calm the multitude, the duke instantly sent a herald to proclaim that a plot had been detected in the citadel, and Hastings, the originator of the plot, had paid the penalty’. This proclamation is, in itself, evidence. No copy or note of the content survives, but following its circulation there was no widespread outrage or fallout over the execution of a man who was personally very popular in the City. This offers at least circumstantial evidence that the content of the proclamation provided enough to satisfy those listening that Hastings had been guilty of the plot he was accused of.
I have read much recently about the pre-contract story. Many pieces are quite insistent that the reader should demand evidence of the pre-contract (which is quite right) because there is none (which is quite wrong). I have read several times recently that it is foolish nonsense to believe in the pre-contract story. Once more, there is a complete lack of definitive evidence in either direction and what we have is circumstantial, but should not be completely ignored.
Thomas More mentions the pre-contract story, but has the name of the lady involved wrong, just one of many errors that mark his work as something other than a genuine retelling of history for the perpetuation of knowledge. Virgil noted the sermon given by Dr Ralph Shaa, writing that ‘there is a common report that king Edward’s children were in that sermon called bastards, and not king Edward, which is void of all truth; for Cecily, king Edward’s mother, as is before said, being falsely accused of adultery, complained afterward in sundry places to right many noble men, whereof some yet live, of that great injury which her son Richard had done her.’ Virgil insists that the pre-contract did not feature in Shaa’s sermon and was created later because the insinuation against Edward IV and Cecily Neville was not well received.
Here, Virgil is directly at odds with our eye witness, Mancini, who noted that when Shaa gave his sermon ‘He argued that it would be unjust to crown this lad, who was illegitimate, because his father King Edward on marrying Elizabeth was legally contracted to another wife to whom the [earl] of Warwick had joined him.’ Mancini, certainly no apologist of Richard’s, specifically tells us that the pre-contract was the basis of Shaa’s sermon, in direct opposition to Virgil’s version of the same sermon. Who should we offer greater weight to? Both writers were not friendly to Richard. Mancini was in London in 1483 and writing for a foreign audience. Virgil was not an eye witness and wrote twenty years later for the man who deposed Richard. My vote would go to Mancini’s version.
The Italian further writes that ‘On the following day all the lords forgathered at the house of Richard’s mother, whither he had purposely betaken himself, that these events might not take place in the Tower where the young king was confined. There the whole business was transacted, the oaths of allegiance given, and other indispensable acts duly performed. On the two following days the people of London and the higher clergy did likewise. All important matters are deliberated, and decrees made law by these three orders, whom they call the three estates. This being accomplished, a date was fixed for the coronation’. We may be able to confidently say that Parliament was not in fact in session at this time, but Mancini clearly intimates that deliberation took place before a decision was made, a decision upon which all of those gathered were agreed, for he does not note a single dissenting voice at this point. What was deliberated if not evidence of a pre-contract that proved Edward V’s illegitimacy?
On a side note, it strikes me as odd, too, that Mancini’s work, De Occupatione Regni Anglie Per Riccardum Tercium, is always referred to as ‘The Usurpation of Richard III’, when the title in fact translates as ‘The Occupation of England by Richard III’. Where did the word ‘usurpation’ spring from? In Latin that would be ‘usurpatione’, but that word does not appear in Mancini’s title.
The Parliament Rolls provide further evidence of the pre-contract’s existence. Titulus Regius, enrolled in the Parliament of 1484, is believed to hold the text of the petition asking Richard to take the throne in June 1483. On the subject of the pre-contract, it claims ‘that at the time of the contract of the same pretended marriage, and before and long time after, the said King Edward was and stood married and troth plight to one Dame Eleanor Butler, daughter of the old Earl of Shrewsbury, with whom the said King Edward had made a precontract of matrimony’. Here is a legal document, enacted by Parliament, stating that the pre-contract existed. It is a frequent criticism that this cannot be relied on because it was enacted by Richard’s Parliament. This is true, and has to be taken into consideration when weighing the evidence, but it should not be dismissed. It provides clear evidence that the story of a pre-contract was the reason that Edward V was declared illegitimate and Richard asked to take the throne.
The final piece of evidence comes from the pen of Philip de Commines, a man who served first the Dukes of Burgundy and then the Kings of France. In the 1490’s he wrote his memoirs, covering decades of political activity. He is the first to name the source of the information on the pre-contract that reached Richard as Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells. Commines recalled ‘This bishop affirmed, that King Edward being in love with a certain lady whom he named, and otherwise unable to have his desires of her, had promised her marriage; and caused the bishop to marry them’. He wrote that ‘His [Stillington’s] fortune depending upon the court, he did not discover it, and persuaded the lady likewise to conceal it, which she did, and the matter remained secret.’ This was why the story was not known until after Edward’s death, when Stillington told it to Richard.
Commines is frequently criticised as unreliable, never having visited England and writing a decade after the event. He was, however, politically active throughout the 1460’s, 1470’s and 1480’s. He met Edward IV, knew the Earl of Warwick and many of the other key figures in the Wars of the Roses. This is evidence from the pen of a man active in the political sphere at the time and certainly not partisan, at least not in Richard’s favour. If we must negate his evidence because he wrote a decade later, we must also utterly discount Virgil and More, upon whom many still base their views of these events unquestioningly. Commines gives evidence of a pre-contract story, told to Richard by a man involved in the proceedings, naming Stillington, yet this is not accepted as evidence of the pre-contract. If such compelling evidence cannot be offered for proper evaluation, then none will ever suffice.
It is worth asking another question at this stage. Where is the evidence that Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville? No banns were read, there is no record, legal or chronicle, of the ceremony. We don’t even know what date it is supposed to have happened on. It reportedly took place with two witnesses, one of them Elizabeth’s mother, and a priest. Edward supposedly announced its existence several months later in Council, probably to irritate Warwick. There is no decisive evidence that it actually happened other than Edward’s assertion that it did. How is it that this is unquestionably accepted as having taken place when the idea that a similar ceremony had taken place earlier with another lady, evidence of which emerged in 1483, strong enough evidence to convince those in London at the time that they should disinherit Edward’s son, is dismissed so completely?
Edward’s word is good.
The combined word of Richard, Buckingham, many lords spiritual and temporal, officials of London, Dominic Mancini, Philip de Commines and an Act of Parliament are dismissible, and dismissed.
Looking from the point of view of evidence, the marriage to Eleanor Butler is easier to prove than that to Elizabeth Woodville.
Of course, evidence is very different to proof.
Matthew Lewis’s latest book, The Wars of the Roses (Amberley Publishing) is a detailed look at the key players in the civil war that tore England apart in the fifteenth century.
Matt is also the author of Loyalty and the sequel Honour and two brief histories, A Glimpse of Richard III and A Glimpse of the Wars of the Roses.
Matt can also be found on Twitter @mattlewisauthor.
35 thoughts on “Evidence, Evidence, Evidence”
Another excellent blog Matt
Thank you Carole.
Matt,in the book I’m writing about Shakespeare I mention something that nobody noticed so far–though what can one expect from people who did not even notice that the play Richard III and Henry VI 3rd Part are grotesque parodies?– anyway,this thing I discovered recently and I’ll mention in my book is that Shakespeare warns us that yes,yes,yes,the psychology of the individual is also a factor that must be taken into consideration.Some Ricardians were accused of being ‘romantic’ and what-not,when they said that Richard’s character proven by many indirect evidences,makes it impossible to suppose that he committed any crimes.While Tudor’s character,having done everything he did…
Well,Shakespeare suggests the same. This thing we might call the’ psychology of the individual’ is also a circumstantial,indirect evidence,but according to Shakespeare it must be taken into consideration,and it points to what you say.
You and me always get to similar conclusions from different starting points…
Matt – brilliantly put! I have been reading a lot of conjecture around this lately and I must admit that your view, along with that of Annette Carson’s make the most informative and balanced reading! Thanks once again for taking the time to set this out so clearly. So many people just intent on sticking to the same old sources and traditional views without actually thinking about who they where, why they were writing and when they were writing. It’s very easy to bend to a natural bias (be that traditionalist or revisionist) when reading/writing about Richard – but at the end of the day – somewhere in between these two maybe – is the truth! If only that evidence will one day emerge! We need to keep looking – after all – who would ever thought two decades ago that Richard would be found and reburied with dignity, honoured by the crowds who watched him pass by? You never know….
Well said from Cheryl couldn’t have put it any better
Thanks Cheryl. We can only hope more decisive evidence emerges from the National Archives or a collection somewhere. You never do know…
Excellent, Matthew. I have never read a better or more informative article about what might really have happened in 1483. I have always believed Richard to have been honest about everything, and the guilt to lie with others. Thanks to you, all the evidence has been assembled in a compelling article that puts it all before us with great even-handedness. Richard is exonerated. You have composed a masterpiece of common sense. Well done!
Thank you very much for your kind words. Although we still lack proof, I think this shows that there is evidence to consider.
Great blog, Matt. Unfortunately double standards are rife in traditionalists’ blogs and websites. It seems for Richard to be declared innocent of even the wildest of charges, he must be purer than pure and, of course, his word cannot be relied on at all about anything.
Hi Jasmine. It is partly frustration with precisely that which caused me to write this. I don’t know for certain whether Richard was innocent or guilty, but claiming that there is no evidence and instructing people on what they should and should not believe is not what history is about. Not to me, anyway.
When are you going to add to your podcast?
Sent from my iPad
Hi Jillian. I find myself permanently short on time at the moment. It is something that I would love to add more to. This post, for example, would sit well with where the podcast is up to so far.
Great post, Matt!
Excellent work, Matt. I agree with your analysis completely.
On the subject of the translation of Mancini’s Latin, his two words about the disappearance of the Princes are: “liberis oppressis”, always translated as “(Richard) destroyed (Edward’s) children”.
The published translation and all derivations translate the verb “opprimo (past tense oppressi”) as “destroyed”” – and interpreted that Richard killed the princes. Actually the Latin dictionary gives “Suppress, oppress, hide, conceal, press down, overwhelm, overthrow, sieze, crush, overpower” as the translations for “opprimo”. And liberis means children, not sons, (which is filiis). A large list of possible terms, some less than pleasant, but many perfectly feasible in the circumstances, none of which means “kill”.
The Latin words for “kill” are as follows:
“interficio, caedo, occido, interimo, perimo, neco.” Plenty of choice, but none of these was selected.
Hi Jane. Thank you for reading and for your comment. It is interesting how little some of these phrases and translations are questioned as they fitted with the accepted story of Richard’s evil intentions. Your points are very interesting. Matt
“In Latin that would be ‘usurpationi’, but that word does not appear in Mancini’s title.” Sorry, in Latin that would be “USURPATIONE”. It is error of print I suppose
Sorry, may I ask for an explanation: what is the difference in English between “evidence” and “proof”?
Hi Kalina. Proof is the accumulation of a weight of evidence. Several pieces of evidence are usually evaluated to establish whether they contribute to proof in one direction or another based on a measure of the weight required. In English civil law proof must be offered on a balance of probability. In criminal law the level required is beyond a reasonable doubt. This proof is established by the collection of evidence, each piece evaluated to see whether it adds enough to attain proof. I hope that makes sense!
Thank you very much
I don’t know why my post disappeared in which i tried to suggest that we all should focus on the crimes of Tudor,his chroniclers and those who admire them and repeat their calumnies against Richard today..Even in the unlikely case that Richard had also committed any crimes,he would still be an absolutely innocent victim of many false accusations,never supported by any evidence. It’s the crime that has to be proved,not the innocence. Richard is the only one whose innocence has to be proved.
It should not be that way.We should make it clear that calumnies are crimes,if there is no evidence,the person must be considered innocent. Why is this the other way round in this case? Why does not anyone point out that the libellers commit a crime every day in front of our eyes?
I’ll tell you why:because Tudor had power, the whole establishment supported him,an establishment which–though indirectly– reaches the present day
Thank you Matt, this is a thought provoking and balanced view of the evidence (or not), I am looking forward to reading more of your posts.
Thank you. I hope you enjoy what you find.
Funny how often this happens in History, that a piece of evidence is discounted as being unreliable when the opposing, accepted view is far worse.
It is impossible to prove there was a secret marriage between Edward IV and Eleanor Talbot. We have a certain amount of evidence, which some people believe and others don’t. The odd thing is that those who are loudest in their disbelief tend to have a very strong belief in the marriage between Katherine of Valois and Owain ap Maredudd, of which we have similar, and arguably weaker evidence. We all have our biases. I just wish the Richard-haters would stop pretending to objective and neutral.
One thing is certain regarding Owain ap Meredudd and Catherine of Valois: there was an Act of Parliament passed after the death of Henry V that stated that no Queen Dowager of England could remarry without the personal permission of an adult successor of her husband. Not only is there no evidence that the two were married, they never could have had a legal marriage as Catherine died well before her son’s majority. Quite clearly the Act was aimed directly at Catherine to prevent a stepfather from claiming rights over the young King Henry VI – specifically one Edmund Beaufort, later Duke of Somerset. Their relationship was well-known at the time and indeed her first two sons would later carry versions of Edmund’s arms (see John Ashdown-Hill’s book “Royal Marriage Secrets”) which were the Royal Arms differenced for descendants of younger sons. Owain Tudor’s sons would have had different arms.
I should ask you this: why are you defending that wicked child-killer uncle?Not directly,but Richard murdered his poor,ill nephew,Edward,when being so cowardly that he didn’t want to take the highest responsability himself,he wanted to push the poor illegitimate child to the frontline, to crown him despite being illegitimate,exposed to all the dangers it meant…the poor,ill child died under the pressure,his brother being afraid that the wicked uncle would do the same to him,fled…So the coward became king of England ,but it would have been bad for the country to have such a king,so the great saviour Tudor came to be ‘hope’ and ‘bliss of England’. (Shakespeare’s words)
er…Hasn’t this been the official version for centuries? Too absurd? Not much more so than many of the versions everybody is discussing seriously because they were suggested by a powerful propaganda machinery.
Moreover,if Richard could have solved the situation–as he clearly wanted when he postponed several times the coronation of Edward–Tudor propaganda WOULD HAVE SPREAD THE ABOVE VERSION–which in this case wouldn’t have sounded so silly,because he would have said that he came to save the country from an ill,minor bastard king….
Everybody is still discussing what Tudor propaganda suggested.Those who defend those versions do it cynically—they defend power. Many of them know that they defend lies,but those are the lies of power…Richard’s tragedy was to stand in the way of the villain who seized power and strengthened the seized power.
Shakespeare clearly portrayed this,and some also cynically deliberately spread the version of his misinterpretation, which others naively believed for centuries(The above mentioned expressions about Tudor are sarcastic,only a stupid playwright could have taken them seriously).
Why don’t we all set ourselves free from what a powerful propaganda machinery suggests?.This is the greatest story of world history and world literature,because of these morals that can be drawn from it about power,how it manipulates everyone, how many don’t even notice that they are manipulated,how others serve the lies of power …These are the most interesting questions,not the details of Richard’s life (Which are also interesting now that many of us love him,and we are interested in him,but the great questions are the ones everybody is avoiding not to touch the tricky problems in connection with power)
Matthew, I agree with your call to heed the evidence, but in this article you do interpret some facts in a specific way to support your argument – such as referring to Elizabeth Woodville’s flight to sanctuary as guilty. The fate of deposed kings in dynastic disputes depended on whether there was a recognised heir at liberty. So on learning of the arrests at Stony Stratford, she was playing a clever defensive move to protect the next-in-line at the same time as Edward V.
As to the alleged plot against Richard, I can not see how a force of 2000 can allow their leaders to be taken by a much smaller force on ‘home’ territory if they were prepared for trouble. There was no battle of Stony Stratford. This tends to convince me that they were not expecting to strike against Richard.
As for Commynes providing evidence of the pre-contract, the statements need to be seen in context of his writing. He is not confirming Stillington’s story – he is stating that it was to provide ‘colour’ to Richard’s taking the crown. He goes on to describe him as a ‘bad bishop’ and says he was acting out of revenge against Edward IV for his loss of position and imprisonment. He goes on to say that an illegitimate son of Stillington was promised land and a marriage with Elizabeth Woodville as a reward.
He further goes on to say that the son was in a ship off Normandy when he was captured, taken to the Chatelet where he accidentally died from his treatment there.
Both the original French and translations of Commynes are available on the internet.
Thank you for your comment.
I meant that if a Woodville plot existed it would make Elizabeth Woodville’s flight an act of guilt rather than just fear. That is why it is important whether it existed or not.
The incident at Stony Stratford cannot be satisfactorily explained without adding a lot of interpretation, nor can the displaying of the cart loads of weapons.
Commynes’ writing as it relates to the pre-contract offers evidence not only that it was a story in circulation and generally believed but also links Stillington to the revelation of the story. This defies the absence of evidence many point to and I do not think Commynes can be simply discounted, whilst accepting that he did not witness the events first hand.
It is my belief that it is vital to return to the sources that we have and place them in their proper context. Weighing this evidence, and necessarily applying an interpretation, allows a conclusion to be offered, but this is one of many cases in which proof remains completely elusive.
some time ago I read an excellent book about the life of Lady Eleanor Butler that suggested that all her life she regarded herself as married to Edward IV.
Eleanor the Secret Queen: The Woman who put Richard III on the Throne by John Ashdown-Hill
It’s a very compelling book that pits at least the notion of a pre-contract into context.
In my opinion, a strong indicator of the truth of the precontract is that Stillington, despite imprisonment (twice, the second time permanent) by Henry VII, did not retract the story.
Oh-Comminess got it wrong. Stillington didn’t say he’d married Edward and Eleanor. If he had, Richard would have had him krepeat the story on the record. As set forth in Titulus Regius, it was troth-plight, not ceremonial marriage.
In the above referenced book “Eleanor the Secret Queen – the woman who put Richard III on the Throne” Dr. John Ashdown-Hill wrote that in 15th Century England all that was needed for a valid, legal marriage under English Common Law was for the couple to promise (troth-plight) to marry (immediately, or at some future date) followed by sexual intercourse; no formal ceremony, no priest or other witnesses were needed – it was the sex which converted the troth-plight to a marriage. These marriages were of course frowned upon by the church but were valid in civil law nevertheless and were confirmed as such when disputes arose. What has often been misunderstood is the term “pre-contract.” This was NOT a betrothal but legalese for “previous contract of marriage” i.e. a marriage which previously existed. Titulus Regius used both “troth-plight” and “pre-contracted” to show that Edward IV made a legally valid marriage with Eleanor Talbot and couldn’t have legally married anyone else while she lived. Also, under the canon law of the time, he couldn’t have then married Elizabeth Wydville after Eleanor’s death because he had been committing adultery with her during Eleanor’s lifetime. Of course he could have petitioned the pope for a dispensation to do so, but he never did.
I think that Peter A. Hancock offers some excellent albeit circumstantial evidence that Catesby had written evidence of the pre-contract to Eleanor and brought it to Richard and Stillington only verified it. He uses the familial and local relations that the Talbot’s and Catesby’s had starting when Catesby was in his youth and his father was a lawyer for the Talbot family when Edward became king. As an aspiring lawyer Catesby would have been privy to legal documents and familial situations brought to the Catesby’s by Talbot. What if a meeting was held after Edward declared his marriage to Elizabeth to see what could/should be brought forth for Eleanor’s claim? What if the Talbot’s and particularly Eleanor were in danger by putting forth the claim?
Hancock also uses circumstantial evidence to balance the rewards that Catesby gained through Richard versus that of Stillington. He also uses Catesby’s execution by Henry VII versus any punishment towards Stillington based upon whether Catesby or Stillington “wrote the bill”. He also uses the fact that only after the death of Catesby’s wife did Henry lift the attainder on the Catesby’s. What if she had written documentation hidden away and her son decided to destroy it to have the attainder lifted?
Finally Hancock uses how Richard reacted to Hastings’s possible nondisclosure of the pre-contract. This was to show how Richard reacted to betrayal by someone considered a friend and ally versus that of traitorous behavior by those he expected it from. Catesby was at one point a mentored by Hastings and possibly he told Hastings of the pre-contract. However it is possible that Hastings told him to keep silent and therefore would be seen as a betrayal towards Richard. In fact Richard followed Parliament’s ruling about Anthony Woodville etc until he realized that he was the rightful king from the day Edward died and they committed treason towards the king rather than the protector, if the pre-contract is true.
Of course Catesby could have completely played Richard and gain Hastings’s property through this. However that seems to be another shallow description of the situations that occurred at the time.
It is all very compelling to me, and most of the intricacies of familial, business, and geographical evidence seems to be skipped over by so many mainstream historians of the era. This seems to be in order to make the case that Richard was either simply blindly reacting or was intent on the crown early on.
Thank you for another excellent post, Matt.