The Princes in the Tower, by Alison Weir

I finally finished The Princes in the Tower. It didn’t really get any better. I will admit that most of her conclusions were convincing, and I suppose I must admit that it is quite likely that the boys died in Richard III’s reign, but the absolutely overwhelming pro-Tudor, anti-Richard tone of the entire book turned me off so very much. She had no compunction about assigning emotional motivation to almost every event. For anything that Richard did, he was motivated by ambition, greed, and evil; for anything that someone opposed to Richard did, it was because of self-preservation, innocence, and fear of Richard. Even if they were doing essentially the same thing, Richard did it deceptively and anyone else did it innocently.

I still find it hard to believe that someone who was almost insanely loyal to his brother during that brother’s lifetime, even when it was not advantageous to be so, would turn so quickly into a villain blinded by ambition and determined to destroy his brother’s family. I also find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t have foreseen the trouble caused by the disappearance of the bodies of the Princes. After all, Edward II was said to have been murdered, and his body was produced and given a royal burial(even if Weir herself doesn’t quite believe that he did actually die at that time). Why would Richard be so stupid as to think that he could get away with killing the princes and NOT producing their bodies?

But, like I said, Weir is fairly convincing. Even if her arguments generally come down to “See how reliable More and the other Tudor-era sources are? SEE???” and a general sense of “No smoke without fire” about London attitudes, gossip, and rumours. And for a book that claims to re-examine all the evidence, most of that came down to “Here’s all the evidence against Richard III. All the evidence against other people is stupid and wrong.”

I do still find Weir very readable. Unfortunately, after this book and some problems I have with her biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, I might have to hesitate before picking up another of hers.


Filed under Non-Fiction (History)

3 responses to “The Princes in the Tower, by Alison Weir

  1. Pingback: Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses, by Alison Weir | Bibliophilia

  2. Göran Edvard Charles Ames

    I agree with your sentiment … I found her style most off-putting. She was biased right from the start. But do not forget this writer, Alison Weir, is a Tudor lover!

    • mendramarie

      She most definitely is – it was just particularly disappointing because I’d really enjoyed her Isabella of France biography. The rest of her work that I’ve read hasn’t quite lived up to that, though.

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