1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Edward V.

EDWARD V. (1470–1483), king of England, was the elder son of Edward IV. by his wife Elizabeth Woodville, and was born, during his father’s temporary exile, in the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey on the 2nd of November 1470. In June 1471 he was created prince of Wales. When Edward IV. died in April 1483 a struggle for power took place between the young king’s paternal uncle, Richard, duke of Gloucester, who had been appointed as his guardian by Edward IV., and his maternal uncle, Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers. Gloucester obtained possession of the king’s person, and, having arrested Rivers and some of his supporters, assumed the crown himself after a very slight and feigned reluctance, on the ground that the marriage of Edward and Elizabeth Woodville was invalid, and consequently its issue was illegitimate. At this time Edward and his brother Richard, duke of York, were living in the Tower of London. Shortly afterwards a movement was organized to free them from captivity, and then it became known that they were already dead; but, though it was the general conviction that they had been murdered, it was twenty years before the manner of this deed was discovered. According to the narrative of Sir Thomas More, Sir Robert Brackenbury, the constable of the Tower, refused to obey Richard’s command to put the young princes to death; but he complied with a warrant ordering him to give up his keys for one night to Sir James Tyrell, who had arranged for the assassination. Two men, Miles Forest and John Dighton, then smothered the youths under pillows while they were asleep. The murder was committed most probably in August or September 1483. Horace Walpole has attempted to cast doubts upon the murder of the princes, and Sir C. R. Markham has argued that the deed was committed by order of Henry VII. Both these views, however, have been traversed by James Gairdner, and there seems little doubt that Sir Thomas More’s story is substantially correct.

See Richard III.; and in addition, Sir Thomas More, History of Richard III., edited by J. R. Lumby (Cambridge, 1883); Horace Walpole, Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard III. (London, 1768); J. Gairdner, Richard III. (Cambridge, 1898); J. Gairdner and C. R. Markham in the English Historical Review, vol. vi. (London, 1891); Sir C. R. Markham, Richard III. (1907).