Edward V

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Edward V, 1470–83?, king of England (1483), elder son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. His father's death (1483) left the boy king the pawn of the conflicting ambitions of his paternal uncle, the duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) and his maternal uncle, Earl Rivers. Gloucester had Rivers arrested and confined the king and the king's younger brother, Richard, duke of York, to the Tower of London. The young princes were declared illegitimate, and Gloucester, with a show of reluctance, took the throne. The two children disappeared from the English scene, and it is likely that they were murdered. However, conclusive proof of their exact fate has never been found. One of the oldest and most prevalent theories—that they were smothered in their sleep by order of Richard III—was propagated or even invented by the victorious Tudors after 1485, and it has been suggested that Henry Stafford, 2d duke of Buckingham, or Henry VII, as well as Richard III, could have been responsible for the death of the princes. Skeletons, presumed to be those of the princes, were unearthed in the Tower in 1674. The skeletons were thought to be those of boys aged 12–13 and 10, the ages of the princes in 1483.

See P. Kendall, Richard the Third (1955).

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Edward V (1470–c.1483), uncrowned king of England (1483). Eldest son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Edward was brought up at Ludlow under his maternal uncle Earl Rivers. On the death of his father in April 1483, the 12-year-old prince of Wales left Ludlow to be proclaimed king in London, but at Stony Stratford his attendants were arrested by his paternal uncle Richard of Gloucester, claiming a conspiracy to deprive him of the protectorship. Initially lodged at the palace of the bishop of London, hence separated from his mother and siblings, Edward transferred in mid-May to the royal apartments at the Tower as part of the coronation preparations. He was joined by his younger brother Richard in mid-June, when they were seen playing in the garden, but after the execution of Hastings they were seen more rarely, until, at length, they ceased to appear altogether. The rumours and contested succession that ensued have been followed by continued controversy over the reliability of contemporary accounts, the manner of the presumed death of the princes in the Tower, and the degree of involvement of Richard of Gloucester, who had by then declared himself king as Richard III. The incomplete skeletons of two juveniles unearthed in 1674 in the Tower grounds have been presumed to be those of the princes, but the 1933 exhumation in Westminster abbey merely confirmed the bones to be of human origin, of approximately the correct ages.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Edward V (1470–83) King of England for 77 days in 1483. He succeeded his father, Edward IV. His uncle, Duke of Gloucester, imprisoned Edward and his younger brother, Richard, in the Tower of London, and assumed the throne as Richard III. The disappearance of ‘the Princes in the Tower’ was attributed to Richard, although some suspect Henry VII.