The Infamous Council Meeting, 13 June 1483

The 13 June 1483 is a big day in the Ricardian calendar. For a long time, the events of the Council meeting that took place at the Tower of London on that morning have been a source of consternation for those with a positive view of Richard and of vindication for those who imagine him in a more negative way. I think it’s time this was put to bed and the arguing stopped.

If you want to get a real grip on the technical issues outlined here, you really can’t go wrong with Annette Carson’s Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable of England. It’s a heavyweight piece of academic work that essentially blows centuries of misunderstanding out of the water.

Execution of Hastings
Execution of Lord Hastings

When Richard ordered the execution of Lord Hastings as the Council meeting descended into chaos, he was labelled a murderer and that particular piece of mud has stuck ever since. I have heard even the most die-hard Ricardian struggle to explain away this act and have to concede that it was his one proven act that can’t be excused. Well, here is how you excuse it.

The traditional story tells us that Lord Hastings wrote to Richard in the north to tell him of the death of his brother Edward IV, the suggestion at least being that the Woodville family of Edward’s wife were planning to keep the news from Richard and have the Prince of Wales crowned as Edward V before Richard knew what had happened, thus bypassing the Protectorate that Edward IV had wanted to put in place to secure the kingdom for his son. Lord Hastings was personally at odds with Thomas Grey, one of Elizabeth Woodvillew’s sons from her first marriage, and possibly feared a diminishing of his own position if the queen’s family snatched power.

Lord Protector is a peculiarly English position that doesn’t seem to have any parallel in medieval Europe. Regents would usually be installed to wield the power of the monarch whilst they were underage, but when Henry V died, a very different arrangement was established. Power was separated for the minority of Henry VI into three discreet silos. The person of the infant king and responsibility for his education was given to Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter (and Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick after Exeter’s death). The Council would operate the government day to day and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester was to be Protector of England. The final settlement was not quite what Henry V had envisaged, which demonstrates the immediate end of a king’s authority on his death.

The key point about the role of Protector was that it had no responsibility whatsoever for either the person of the king or the operation of government, though the Protector was expected to also sit on the Council and be a prominent member. The responsibility of the Protector was nothing more or less than the security of the nation. The Protector essentially had military authority in domestic and foreign affairs, though in Humphrey’s case his brother John, Duke of Bedford actually acted as regent in France.

So, although Richard was supposedly appointed Protector in a codicil to Edward IV’s will (which has not survived, so cannot be verified) and was certainly appointed Protector by the Council, this gave him no authority or responsibility for the person of Edward V or for the operation of government. It only gave him authority in military matters.

That means it has little to do with the events of 13 June 1483. I just wanted to set it out anyway.

The key consideration for Richard dealings with Lord Hastings is his position as Lord High Constable of England, an office he had held since October 1469, when he was appointed for life. Apart from the period of the readeption, Richard had acted as his brother’s Lord High Constable for almost fifteen years, since he was seventeen. He had wielded the powers of this office for the entirety of his adult life and would have been utterly familiar with them and completely confident in their application.

For the purposes of this incident, the significant power of the Lord High Constable was the authority to conduct a summary trial for treason, decide a sentence and enact it based on evidence that he had seen. The Lord High Constable could legitimately and legally act as judge, jury and executioner. It’s an inequitable arrangement that may jar with modern sensibilities, and indeed with medieval ones too, but it was designed to empower the Lord High Constable to protect the monarch from the threat of treason.

On 13 June 1483, most of the Council met at another location as Richard, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord Stanley, Lord Hastings, Bishop Morton and Bishop Rotherham gathered at the Tower, nominally to conclude arrangements for Edward V’s coronation. Thomas More dramatized the events that followed as Richard left the meeting, returned and almost immediately cried treason. A scuffle broke out as guards entered the room, Lord Hastings was arrested, dragged outside and beheaded in the Tower grounds.

The important part here is Richard’s cry of treason. Interestingly, even later Tudor chroniclers seem to concede the Lord Hastings was up to something behind Richard’s back. Polydore Vergil wrote that even before Richard arrived in London, 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’.

Grafton wrote that ‘Lord Stanley sent to him [Hastings] a trusty and secret messenger at midnight in all the haste, requiring him to rise and ride away with him’. Thomas More claimed that the lawyer William Catesby went to Richard and that ‘Catesby’s account of the Lord Hastings’s words and discourse, which he so represented to him, as if he had wished and contrived his death’. Furthermore, Grafton added that Richard gathered the aldermen on London together immediately after the execution and provided them with evidence ‘that the Lord Hastings and other of his conspiracy had contrived to have suddenly destroyed him and the Duke of Buckingham there the same day in council’, which satisfied them.

Was the evidence fabricated? Some will claim every piece of evidence in June and July 1483 was. Were the stories that reached Richard’s ears lies? If so, he might still have legitimately believed them in the tense and confrontational atmosphere of London, a city and political animal he was unfamiliar with, at least compared to others he might have been told were aligning themselves against him.

These questions are hard to answer and will ultimately be influenced by your own perception of Richard. Whether his actions were morally right or wrong is open to debate, but the legality shouldn’t be. Richard had the power and authority for every action that he took, given to him, ironically perhaps, by his brother Edward IV in most cases. His powers as Constable mean that he could call a Court of Chivalry and summarily try, judge and execute William, Lord Hastings based on evidence that he had seen, and which he reportedly shared subsequently with the authorities in London so that they offered no protest at his actions. If reports were reaching him of treason, along with the evidence he shared, then he was perfectly within his rights to act decisively. Those were the powers Edward IV gave him and which he had exercised for his entire adult life.

Even if Richard fabricated the plots and the evidence, the deception was made a legal execution, not a murder. There had been due process, even if we wouldn’t recognise it as such today. If Richard is given the benefit of the doubt, and the reports of later Tudor writers suggest there was plenty going on behind his back in London at the time, then he was reacting to threats that he perceived in order to protect the safety of the monarch, which was precisely why Edward IV gave him those powers. He might not have envisaged them being used against one of his best friends, but he might not have complained either if Richard could prove it was necessary – and according to Grafton, he could, and did.

So, nothing illegal here as far as I can see. Moral judgement is another matter, but Richard did not act illegally in the death of William, Lord Hastings. It was an execution, not a murder, and that fact should no longer be a matter of debate.

You can get a copy of Annette Carson’s Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable of England here – and I thoroughly recommend that you do!

Matt’s book Richard, Duke of York, King By Right, reveals a very different man from the one who has passed into myth amongst the stories of the Wars of the Roses

A new biography of Henry III: Son of Magna Carta is available now from Amberley Publishing, seeking to uncover the true story of a king all too often forgotten to history.

Matthew Lewis has written The Wars of the Roses (Amberley Publishing), a detailed look at the key players of the civil war that tore England apart in the fifteenth century, and Medieval Britain in 100 Facts (Amberley Publishing), which offers a tour of the middle ages by explaining facts and putting the record straight on common misconceptions.

Matt is also the author of a brief biography of Richard III, A Glimpse of King Richard III along with a brief overview of the Wars of the Roses, A Glimpse of the Wars of the Roses.

Matt has two novels available too; Loyalty, the story of King Richard III’s life, and Honour, which follows Francis, Lord Lovell in the aftermath of Bosworth.

The Richard III Podcast and the Wars of the Roses Podcast can be subscribed to via iTunes or on YouTube.

Matt can also be found on Twitter @mattlewisauthor and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MattLewisAuthor.

22 thoughts on “The Infamous Council Meeting, 13 June 1483

  1. I agree with your assessment. Richard was within the remit of his powers as Constable of England and as the protector of the nation at that time whatever we may think of the legality of such action by today’s standards – and we have to remember that even in the modern world we have seen drone strikes take out terrorist suspects on the orders of nations without any trial by jury or public discussion of evidence to prove their guilt. I have heard it argued that Richard was no longer Constable of England as all appointments ceased on the death of the monarch and were in suspension until the coronation and re-appoint by the next monarch. Would be interested to hear from learned friends about the legality of that idea too. It would seem to be a very dangerous practice if there was no one in control during a period of time when the monarchy was also in hiatus?

    1. As far as I can tell, Richard was appointed for his lifetime in 1469. Without his active removal, there is no reason to believe his appointment ceased any more than the legitimacy of the Council that sat during this period is questioned. Who appointed them if all Edward’s officers lapsed in office?

      1. Yes, I think that is rather a desperate argument by those who can’t quite bear to admit that Richard was acting with due authority during this period and look to find any means to question the legality and morality of his actions.

  2. Another debate I have seen between pro- and anti-Richard adherents is over what the ‘treason’ was and against whom. Was Richard’s cry over treason against the boy king, or was it treason against him – which as I understand it, could only apply because of his role as Constable of England and not as Lord Protector.

  3. Thanks Matt for recommending my little book (‘Richard as Protector and Constable’). I know it’s very technical, but it needs to be for precisely the reason that answers are needed for questions raised in previous comments. For a start, did he retain his office as High Constable? Absolutely, it was a key office for keeping law and order, you couldn’t suddenly have a stack of vacancies on the death of the king, especially in important jobs like these. It was the king’s household officers who broke their staves of office at his funeral in anticipation of being replaced. The only Great Officer of State who ‘resigned’ was the Lord Chancellor, but even he had to continue in charge of the Great Seal until he handed it over to his successor (if he was replaced). The other question, i.e. ‘what constituted treason’, is the entire reason I wrote the book. You have to know WHAT treason WAS before you can understand what kind of charge might have been brought against Hastings. Nowadays we think ‘threat to the king’, but that was only ONE aspect of what constituted treason. For example, counterfeiting coinage was treason! The authority on treason is J.G. Bellamy, but my book gives an adequate introduction. Hastings and his cronies were rebelling against the legally constituted governing authority in England. The Protector had to protect the realm against enemies and rebels, and the Constable had to root them out and try them.

  4. By the way, in the hope of making Richard’s position as Lord Protector crystal clear, this is what the Crowland Chronicle recorded about his appointment on or about 8 May 1483: “Richard, Duke of Gloucester received that solemn office which had once fallen to Duke Humphrey of Gloucester who, during the minority of King Henry [VI], was called Protector of the Kingdom”. The office given to Humphrey was recorded in the Rolls of Parliament as: “Protector and Defender of the Realm and Church in England and Principal Councillor of the King”.

  5. The power of the Constable may have been restricted in the late 14th century indirectly as a result of the statutes brought in to tackle earlier abuses. From 1390, the court’s decisions were subject to appeal to the royal Council. According to this article by the University of Exeter’s Law School, the Court of Chivalry and therefore, the Constable was made subject to appeal, which would seem to also remove summary powers.

    http://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/law/research/projects/details/index.php?id=140

    This would seem to fit in with the events of 1483. Richard did not use summary powers in the case of Rivers and the others and Council discussed the case.

    I would be interested in your views.

    I have a further question relevant to the power of the Constable but relating to the case of Rivers. As an Earl, wouldn’t he be entitled to trial by his peers in Parliament or if this could not happen, in the Court of the High Steward?

  6. These questions about the development of the powers of the Constable and his Court are covered in detail by JG Bellamy, ‘The Law of Treason in England in the Later Middle Ages’. It can be said that the powers of the Constable ‘waxed and waned’, especially under Richard II who, when he was in the ascendant, introduced many unpopular treason provisions which were removed when his rule was curtailed. Then in 1397-8 his Constable Edward of York was again given powers to pursue, overcome and arrest traitors, to convict them, and to chastise and punish them ‘at your discretion’. However, my study of the Lord Protector and High Constable deals with Richard of Gloucester’s powers and jurisdiction in the 1480s, nearly a century later. The various grants to the Constables in the Yorkist era are all transcribed and translated in my appendices, from which you can see that under Edward IV the Constable was personally charged to deal with traitors ‘summarily and plainly without noise and customary form of trial, on simple inspection of the truth of the deed … without leave of appeal’.
    Mancini’s report of Richard’s alleged discussion with the Council is questionable. Yes, he was in London and took back to his masters his personal take on what went on, but in this and other references to supposed deliberations in the Royal Council we have to accept that he described them from his own experiential background, i.e. thinking of the conduct of the French Royal Council, not the English (of which Richard had been appointed Chief Councillor).
    Finally regarding the trial of peers. The Constable’s Court (Court of Chivalry) was during this period responsible for trying and executing innumerable members of the nobility, examples of which can be found in my book. Sorry to keep referring to it, but David’s questions were precisely those I asked myself and set out to answer in what was to be my MA dissertation, but ended up instead as a wee paperback.

  7. Matthew I am trying to get in touch with you for a talk but have not received a reply yet.
    Annmarie Hayek
    Norfolk Branch Richard 111 Society

  8. Thanks for your assessment on a matter I really struggle with, the idea of immediate execution. I have no doubts about the legality of Richard ‘s actions and he wasn’t the first person or ruler to use such a radical step in the case of treason. All four defenders in the Southampton plot were executed the same day as their trial. Richard had been appointed High Constable of England and had all of the legal powers associated with acting in the name of the King on matters of treason. Richard acted to supervise or carry out the execution of those taken in arms after a trial at Tewkesbury, on the authority of his brother, King Edward iv. However, I have always felt some confusion with the case of William Lord Hastings. Annette Carson’s book has helped me understand his role and legal powers but I am still hazy on what process of trial and the evidence against Hastings. This is partly the fault of the sources which as usual vary and are not always reliable and I don’t get why the evidence was read by Buckingham after his arrest and execution.

    The evidence says something about a conspiracy and weapons and the Woodville connection, but I can’t recall all of the details. Buckingham read out and then evidence was shown to a mumbling public and council who accepted what had happened. The thing is was this a pre-emptive strike or did Richard actually believe Hastings guilty of withholding information which could undermine him, to do with Bishop Shillington’s knowledge of the pre contract of Edward iv and Lady Eleanor Talbot or did Richard hear something which was a direct threat? Are there any documents to bring some light on why Richard accused Hastings of treason and which evidence he had? Did Hastings have a trial? There is also divided opinion on whether he was actually killed on 13th or a week later. Can you shed any light on this question?

    Thanks in advance

    Lyn Marie Taylor

    1. Hi Lyn. Thank you for your comments. This is one of the most confused and confusing episodes in 1483. As I understand it, the Constable was entitled to act as judge, jury and executioner in a Court of Chivalry (or a Court Martial). The trial could be convened without any prolonged process as it was designed to make dealing with treason quick and easy. The trial and verdict were to be based on evidence the Constable had seen, so Richard only had to be convinced that treason was being carried out for a sentence of death to be valid. There was also no right of appeal. It all sounds atrocious to modern ears.

      The evidence was shown to officials in London and the lack of a backlash at least suggests it was convincing, especially given Hastings’ popularity.

      There are no surviving documents. However, even Tudor sources suggest Hastings was up to something. Vergil wrote that Hastings convened a meeting at St Paul’s before Richard arrived in London to organise resistance to him. More claimed Catesby informed Richard that Hastings (Catesby’s boss at the time) was plotting Richard’s death.

      As to the last question, I think the Execution was probably on 13th, but it’s hard to be certain.

      1. Matthew thank you very much for your quick and clear response and explanation. It is much appreciated. I wasn’t aware of the meeting at Saint Pauls Hastings was planning, but I will read that later. Thanks again.

  9. Another few words of clarification, if I may … There is a reference in the post by The Virgin Queen to ‘the evidence says something about a conspiracy and weapons and the Woodville connection, but I can’t recall all of the details. Buckingham read out and then evidence was shown to a mumbling public and council who accepted what had happened’. This must derive from a work of fiction (or some kind of embroidery in one of the Tudor chronicles) because there is no such involvement by Buckingham recorded in the primary sources. What I give in my book ‘Protector and Constable’ is the sum total of what was reported in 1483, and it boils down to Mancini saying that Hastings was accused of entering Richard’s presence bearing concealed arms in order to launch an attack on him. Mancini says Richard accused Hastings of treason, but opines that it was a false charge; however, Mancini was scarcely an expert on the English treason laws or the powers of the English Protector / Constable (and nor was he present in the council-chamber) so we need not pay much heed to his opinion. The charge was set out in a proclamation which was made public the same day (says Mancini). It was also recorded in the College of Arms MS commonly referred to as the ‘historical notes of a London citizen’. The Crowland Chronicle avoids recording that a public proclamation was made or what the charge was, it simply deplores the summary execution.

    So there was no pre-emptive strike – Hastings was caught red-handed bearing concealed arms (people did not take arms into council meetings with royalty!) and Richard accused him of making an attempt on his life. I can’t judge the veracity of this, I can only report what appears in the written records.

    I believe there’s a book called ‘The Murder in the Tower’ which supposes something along the suggested lines that Hastings was concealing information from Richard: this is sheer speculation, and the author (name of Hancock, I believe) based his book on the Thomas More story of the council meeting.

    “Are there any documents to bring some light on why Richard accused Hastings of treason and which evidence he had?” No, there are no documents apart from the case set out by Mancini which you can read for yourself in translation – I believe the paperback is quite easy to find. “Did Hastings have a trial?” We don’t know … but seeing that Richard had the power to mount an on-the-spot trial in his own Court, and seeing that we know several witnesses (council-members) were present and also two other conspirators (men of the cloth) were arrested with Hastings, it seems likely that Richard had the means and opportunity to conduct a trial under the Law of Arms. In such circumstances, and in the middle of London, why would he not seek to conduct matters in a lawful fashion?

    “There is also divided opinion on whether he was actually killed on 13th or a week later” – well, this was suggested by Alison Hanham several decades ago but disproved to her satisfaction and everyone else’s. See ‘Richard III: The Maligned King’.

    The High Constable presided over the Court of Chivalry and was empowered to reach a judgement based on whatever evidence was available to him. I wouldn’t say ‘judge, jury and executioner’ – it was a CIVIL COURT and he was entitled to conduct its business based on the circumstances before him. There were many precedents, several of which I cite in my book ‘Protector and Constable’.
    Regards to all
    Annette

    1. Hi ajcarson you bring up some very interesting points thank you 🙂 I am pretty new to my interest in Medieval England and in particular Richard III and how history has treated him. That said as a librarian and past assistant instructor, resources, in particular biased ones such as More, possibly Mancini, and P. Virgil are always ones to rankle us. Especially when historians regurgitate them and then their readers regurgitate those. It is how we have gotten to where we are with many historical figures.

      “I believe there’s a book called ‘The Murder in the Tower’ which supposes something along the suggested lines that Hastings was concealing information from Richard: this is sheer speculation, and the author (name of Hancock, I believe) based his book on the Thomas More story of the council meeting.”

      You are correct there is a book by Peter A. Hancock titled “The Murder in the Tower” (2011). His main argument is that Catesby rather than Stillington brought to light the pre-contract to Richard and that Hastings knew of it as Edward’s best friend and chamberlain. As Hastings was in essence Catesby’s boss he possibly swore Catesby to secrecy several years prior. Hancock speculates that Catesby found a way to gain Hastings’ holdings by breaking with him and telling Richard. Hancock uses Cateby’s familial and working relations to the Talbot family (Catesby’s father was their lawyer) as well as examples of Catesby’s rise in society through his young adult life as well as after Richard became the King. In Hancock’s section on Eleanor Talbot Butler he draws much (I believe) from John Ashdown-Hill. I have yet to read Ashdown-Hill’s work, though.

      Hancock uses More’s essay for part of his narrative but I read it as rather than using the essay to support that Richard was a violent usurper as has been used in the past, he discusses the flaws in it. Many of which Matt has brought up in his YouTube video on using More as a resource. I do find it an error on Hancock’s part that he believes that Catesby possibly kept Stanley safe at the June 13th council meeting if Stanley was not there as Matt suggests.

      However that would not necessarily discount Hancock’s hypothesis that Catesby knew of the pre-contract and brought it to Richard’s attention.

      According to Hancock that Hastings was executed so quickly strikes as evidence of his betrayal to Richard, if Catesby had written proof of the pre-contract and Stillington confirmed it. It is doubtful without this that Richard would have simply believed Catesby as he was not well known to Richard and Hastings was. Hancock also argues that Henry VII executed Catesby for his knowledge of the pre-contract and legitimacy of Richard as most others involved directly with Richard were not executed. For this Hancock uses Catesby”s last will and testament and how after the death of Catesby’s wife their son was able to overturn the attainder placed upon Catesby. It is possible with this Catesby’s son agreed to get rid of any documentary evidence of the pre-contract left (my own tentative hypothesis).

      A secondary hypothesis put forth by Hancock is that Hastings, Elizabeth, and Jane Shore likely never collaborated with each other against Richard as More and others wrote about. He states that the rebellion postulated by these historians was likely an odd combining of the Woodville rebellion and that Hastings omitted to tell Richard of the pre-contract. Hancock points out that the omission would have likely been seen by Richard as betrayal of a friend but more importantly the rightful king. Anthony Woodville and the others arrested and held would also have been committing treason against the rightful king, if the pre-contract is true and it is possible that after Richard knew of the pre-contract and had proof that he executed them. It is doubtful he would have gone against the council otherwise.

      That Hancock speculates on some issues I think comes from holes in the documentary evidence lost over time or perhaps purposely so (who knows). This does not totally detract from the circumstantial evidence of Catesby’s rise, Hasting’s fall, and how the queen dowager and her other children by Edward were treated. He also reminds the reader that Richard had 3 nephews who technically were in line before himself under his direct authority and within his reach. Why would he kill the two illegitimate sons of Edward while leaving the barred son of George alive? All three boys had basically the same level of access to the throne at this time.

      I found his points about Stillington to be intriguing because he points out that Catesby most likely would have written the documents, including the Titulus Regius rather than Stillington. Additionally Stillington was pardoned by Henry VII for his part in the pre-contract issue, but Catesby was executed. That Stillington was later imprisoned by Henry was for his involvement in the Lambert Simnel rebellion.

      I think Hancock leaves a road map for further studies by other researchers to follow and presents many interesting questions, and I think that is how he meant it to be.

      I will have to look up your book,

      Colleen

  10. Ooops – sorry I called you ‘Virgin Queen’! Better perhaps to call you Lyn. 🙂 Based on Mancini’s account I would suggest conjecturing what would happen to a modern Lord Hastings if he had been invited to one of Prince Charles’s meetings and suddenly pointed at him a handgun which he had smuggled in on his person. He would certainly be wrestled to the ground, placed in custody and hauled before the courts. The penalty might not be so swift or so permanent, but the crime would be manifest to everyone. Unfortunately, for the incident in 1483 we have only retrospective accounts by writers who had learned to categorize Richard as a usurper. However, when you apply logic to the scene, doesn’t it strike you as remarkable that Hastings was charged with an act of aggression in a public place in front of an assembly of witnesses? And that nobody who was present ever accused Richard of lying? … One of them being Archbishop Rotherham, a supporter of the Woodville camp who lived to the year 1500 and possessed any amount of resources to write down a vindication of the actions for which he was arrested in 1483. Based on Mancini’s narration and my own research, I find the events of the council meeting far from confusing … What IS puzzling, however, is the conspiracy itself. I have taken a stab at unravelling this in my article ‘Why it HAD to be the Tower of London’ which you may enjoy as a little light speculation. See my website at http://www.annettecarson.co.uk/357052362. Thanks Matt for allowing me this space for comment. XX

    1. Thanks Annette, I don’t mind being promoted to the Virgin Queen, but yes, I was actually thinking that you can’t go to a council meeting armed. Hastings was a powerful man as well, with a large army of retainers and wealth. He may not have liked the Woodvilles (well who did) but he was certainly in a position for a power play on his own terms. Richard had every reason to act and yes, you definitely couldn’t just point a gun in the prescence of a Prince or political leader and not expect swift action. He had also met with Lord Stanley, another man with his own expanding power base, so combined they could certainly be a threat, take down the Lord Protector and control the young King. Richard would only have acted against a man who was powerful and had appeared as an ally with justification, certainly if Hastings and the others were armed. Interesting, though that Stanley was only imprisoned. A lesser conspirator? Archbishop Rotherham was a man of the cloth which is something a pious man would respect, although he had wrongly given Elizabeth Woodville the Royal seal to which she had no right. Richard could not trust him. What a pity someone didn’t persuade Richard to leave Stanley locked up, considering how he and his brother betrayed a King who had rewarded them and in this case spared him, if he was involved in a plot of treason against the Lord Protector.

      One final thing goes through my mind is that through all of these months when Richard was Lord Protector and faced a Woodville take over and now a direct attack is that he must have thought from time to time about Humphrey of Gloucester, whose wife was set up on false charges of witchcraft and necromancy (forgive my spelling) and imprisoned, then he was eventually imprisoned but died mysteriously days later, possibly poisoned. He too had been placed in charge of a young King, in his case to rule for the infant Henry Vi. Richard would not have been Protector for a number of years as Edward was almost thirteen, but he was the eldest, nearest male relative to his late brother and lawfully made Lord Protector, even though such a position of authority may invite enemies. He was also the best person to protect the Realm. His military experience alone proved that as did his rule in the North for many years. He acted with restraint and dignity as Protector and here, even with what modern eyes may see as a ruthless execution, because today we don’t get the era he lived in, he acted with restraint, especially if he did suspect a personal attack by others.

      I haven’t really given much thought to the reaction of the council, but nobody called Richard to task or criticised him at the time or even soon afterwards, so they must have been either so terrified of the tyrannical Richard, as his later maligners would have us believe or accepted he acted justly and with reason. I believe the latter. His actions, however are always under scrutiny because he fell victim to betrayal and these accounts are later, mainly to please a new Tudor King. How much is missing? I think those there knew the truth and accepted an act of treason had been punished.

      Thanks for the additional link.

      1. Correction, of course it was Cardinal John Morton who was arrested with Archbishop Rotherham, but Lord Stanley was injured. He was, however, involved in the meetings previous to this council meeting. I have just read your article on your website and it makes perfect sense that those who had lost power after being in Edward V household as Prince of Wales or as an official of Edward iv would see Richard as being in their way to gain favour once more. I loved your description of John Morton. He sounds like Littlefinger or Lord Peter Baylis in Game of Thrones, the perfect political operator who gets everyone else removed or killed, while he looks out for himself and smoothly switches allegiance, while his only ally is really his own ambition. As clerics, they were shown mercy, but Hastings was powerful and dangerous and he probably was smouldering from a lack of closeness to the man in charge, while Buckingham was on the rise.

        Your point about Richard having the conference of the Great Council, the men around him and those who later elected him King, the Three Estates and the ambitious nobles, in the main proves that nobody thought anything other than a legal and justified act had taken place here.

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