Great history, inconsistent advocacy... Apr 6, 2007
Having read this author's the Wars of the Roses I was prompted to read another book and chose the Princes in the Tower. The former book is quite well written, base upon well researched, and evaluated source material. This too is the case for the best part of the Princes in the Tower, the subject of this review. Alison Weir clearly has a great knowledge of this period and informs the reader of which sources are most valid, and most likely to be of greatest value in veracity. However, the author gets into a bit of trouble of her own making when she leaves the statement of the facts as reported by the sources and begins to advocate a particular position, in this case that Richard III ordered the murder of young Edward V and his even younger brother, the Duke of York. Inconsistency is the major issue taken with this advocacy. On one hand she makes the case that Richard was responsible because it was widely rumored among the courts of Europe that indeed he was guilty. On the other, when those same rumors were bruited about Henry VII, she claims that this was mere propaganda (more about which below) to discomfit this latter monarch. She makes the case that people lived in fear of Richard III, that it was the case during this period that people irritated any prince under pain of death. Once again, however, we are lead to believe that the veracity of those writing during the nascent Tudor era were no longer subject to this inhibition. Finally, the author makes the totally outrageous claim that the most effective propaganda is that which is based upon fact (here again, it is based on fact when applied to Richard, mere malicious rumor when applied to Henry). I think that a student of any of the 20th Century dictators would find that contention misinformed at best, naive at worst.