THE PRINCES IN THE TOWER by Elizabeth Jenkins


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For Richard III junkies, pro or con, a new summing up from the author of Elizabeth and Leicester and Lady Caroline Lamb, but not, alas, definitive. Part of the problem is that we're just never going to know what became of the boys and when: convincing arguments for four separate years and several different malefactors have been made. It boils down to which sources you choose to find most reliable and how you interpret the few certain facts. Jenkins opts for tradition--1483, and it was less-wicked-than-pragmatic Uncle Richard who done it, despite his normally high moral character, in fear of the boys' maternal relations. But Jenkins begins much, much earlier, with Richard II's deposition, and her methodical narrative takes three quarters of the book to reach Richard III's coup d'État, a prologue necessary to her argument, no doubt, but outside the scope of most of her research and, perhaps consequently, full of minor inaccuracies of names and relationships and facile motivations. There just isn't enough material for an entire book on the Princes, though Jenkins has examined innumerable articles, volumes, and snide comments on the case. Her specialty, as ever, is in searching out psychological processes, and her theory of Richard's rationale for usurpation is ingenious. But numerous opposing arguments are merely ignored, not refuted, and she fails to explain fully the many times she has radically reinterpreted the evidence. Jenkins writes well and her theorizing is always of interest, but Kendall remains the person to read in this niche.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan