What secrets the Tower of London holds

The Tower of London – a repository of secrets

At the eastern borders of the City stands the sombre towers of the Tower of London. For nearly nine centuries the mighty fortress has stood there. When the Vikings invaded the British Isles in the 11th century, William the Conqueror began building the Tower by the very walls of London, not only to control the mouth of the Thames but also to ward off rebellious citizens, whose independence had long been a source of anxiety to England’s rulers…

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

King Edward V and Prince Richard.

On April 9, 1483, King Edward IV of England died unexpectedly, just short of 41 years old. His eldest son and heir was only twelve, and in his will Edward appointed his younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as regent.

For nearly 30 years the British Isles suffered from endless feuding between the dynasties of York, one of whose emblems was the white rose, and Lancaster, whose symbol was the scarlet rose. Later this struggle for the English Crown was romanticized, with varying degrees of success, and called the War of the Scarlet and White Rose.

As a member of the York dynasty, Edward IV had declared his three predecessors, the Lancastrian kings, usurpers, but he knew that there would be those who would challenge the right of his young heir, Edward, Prince of Wales.

Richard, who had proved himself a loyal and resourceful soldier in the service of his brother and king, had sworn an oath of allegiance to the Prince of Wales. Now he rushed to take control of the kingdom, with a power vacuum at its center.

On April 29, Richard intercepted a group of courtiers who were taking young Edward to London, arrested their leader, the boy’s maternal uncle, and accompanied his nephew himself the rest of the way to the capital. Edward V’s coronation, originally scheduled for May 4, was postponed until June 22, and the future monarch was placed in the royal chambers in the Tower.

Suspecting her brother-in-law of perfidy, Edward IV’s widow Elizabeth took refuge with her youngest son and daughters in Westminster Abbey. In June, the regent managed to persuade Elizabeth to give him her son, 9-year-old Richard, Duke of York, explaining that the young king was lonely in the Tower. Edward IV’s sons are believed to have been strangled in their sleep in the Tower of London.

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

Was their uncle, Richard III, the hunchbacked villain that the Tudors, who took the English throne after his death, portrayed him as?

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On the Sunday that was to be the day of his coronation, Edward V’s right to take the throne was questioned. The Cambridge theologian Shay gave a sermon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in which he declared the illegitimacy of the succession to the throne. According to Shay, Edward IV had married Elizabeth Woodville while betrothed to another, which meant that their union was invalid under the law at the time and their children – including the young king – were illegitimate.

For a while the Duke of Gloucester pretended not to want to be king, but on June 26 he accepted the crown and was proclaimed Richard III. The boy king’s reign lasted less than three months.

Richard III is charged with

During July, Edward V, never crowned, now contemptuously called Edward the Bastard, and his brother were occasionally seen playing in the Tower courtyard. But then, according to a contemporary, the boys were moved to the remotest rooms of the palace-fortress and showed themselves less and less often in the barred windows, “until at last they ceased to appear at all.

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

By the autumn of 1483 rumours were spreading that both princes had been put to death in the Tower – but by whom? In January 1484, a French diplomat warned of the dangers of a young monarch on the throne – King Charles VIII of France was only 14. Edward IV’s sons had been murdered by their uncle, he argued confidently, and so the crown went to the murderer.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Woodville allied herself with Richard’s enemies by offering her eldest daughter in marriage to Lancastrian pretender Henry Tudor. In August 1485, Richard III met Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

At a critical moment in the battle, one of the king’s supporters betrayed him and Richard was killed. The traitor took the crown from the dead monarch and placed it on Henry VII’s head. The War of the Scarlet and White Rose was over. England was ruled by the Tudor dynasty, under which the country enjoyed a period of unprecedented prosperity.

While Richard III was haunted by rumours that he had murdered the Princes, Henry VII was haunted by rumours that they were alive and therefore could claim the throne. He finally succeeded in creating a version that the boys were strangled with pillows on Richard’s orders and buried under stone slabs at the foot of one of the Tower’s staircases.

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

Sir James Tyrell was made the scapegoat, tried and, in May 1502, executed for “unspecified treason”. It was not until later that it was announced that Tyrell had confessed to murdering the princes before he was beheaded.

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All this was accepted as true and entered the writings of historians, as was Thomas More’s biography of Richard III, published in 1534 and later used by Shakespeare in creating the drama Richard III.

In 1674, nearly 200 years after the alleged murder, a wooden box containing two child skeletons was discovered during construction work in the Tower. It was decided that they were the remains of the murdered princes, and they were reburied in Westminster Abbey.

The bones were submitted for examination in 1933. They were the skeletons of two boys of the same age as Edward V and his brother at the time of their disappearance. The cause of death was not determined, but the jaw of the older boy was visibly damaged.

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

King Edward V and Prince Richard in the Tower of London.

Among the people last seen of the princes in the Tower of London was the court physician who was summoned to see Edward V when he had a toothache. The young king, the doctor recounted, prayed a great deal and offered daily penance, for he was sure that he was in imminent danger of death. “Ah, if my uncle would let me live,” he said, “even if I lose my kingdom.

Richard III’s reign was one of the shortest in English history, yet almost every new generation of scholars has given its own assessment of this monarch.

In this century, societies of Richard III have emerged to defend the King’s good name. But they must fight an unequal battle, for against them is the genius of William Shakespeare. Accused of murdering two princes in his lifetime, Richard acquired immortal fame a century later as the villainous hero in one of Shakespeare’s early plays, the historical drama Richard III.

Shakespeare wrote it in the last decade of the sixteenth century, during the reign of Elizabeth I, and not surprisingly, in his narrative he favored Elizabeth’s grandfather, the first king of the Tudor dynasty, Henry VII. He shows Richard as a vicious usurper who does not hesitate to hire an assassin to slay “two mortal enemies; from them I have no rest, no sleep. two illegitimate ones in the Tower.”

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

Having achieved this evil deed, Richard coldly resolves to court the favours of the murdered princes’ elder sister, already promised in marriage to his rival, Henry Tudor. Richard’s inconspicuous deformity – apparently, one shoulder was slightly higher than the other – has been heightened by the playwright, and Shakespeare’s Richard has become a hunchback who curses his fate.

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In the play’s happy finale, after his victory at Bosworth Field, Henry Tudor proclaims: “The bloody dog is dead and the feud is over.”

About the ghosts of the Tower.

The first “officially recorded” ghost of the Tower was Thomas-a-Becket. For a long time this archbishop, who did not die of his own accord, troubled the descendants of the offenders. But after Henry III, grandson of the unfortunate Becket’s murderer, built a chapel within the walls of the Tower, the apparitions ceased.

Among the most harrowing apparitions are the “Little Princes”: 12-year-old King Edward V and his 9-year-old brother Richard, Duke of York. Holding hands, they stand silent, only their white robes fluttering slightly.

Margaret Paul, Countess of Salisbury, was executed in 1541. This old lady (she was in her seventies) had suffered because her son Cardinal Pohl had denounced the religious doctrines of Henry VIII and had even done something for France. When the king realized that he could not get the cardinal, he ordered the execution of his mother.

The countess broke free from the hangman’s hands and ran around the scaffold with terrible curses. The executioner chased after her, striking her with his axe. Badly wounded, she collapsed from exhaustion and was executed. Visions of execution often appear to eyewitnesses at the very spot where the scaffold was located.

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

The most tragic figure among those executed here was Lady Jane Grey, who went down in English history as “Queen for nine days”: that’s how many days she was on the throne. Jane was the granddaughter of Henry the Eighth’s sister, one time queen of France, and a cousin of King Edward the Sixth.

The young king was very fond of her-at least as Mark Twain wrote in The Prince and the Pauper. Taking advantage of this, the wily Duke of Northumberland married his nineteen-year-old son to the sixteen-year-old Jane Grey and then persuaded the ailing king to sign a will in which Edward the Sixth left his throne to Jane Grey, bypassing the six rightful heirs to the throne.

As soon as the king died, the Duke of Northumberland even attempted to kidnap Princess Mary, daughter of Henry the Eighth, who as the eldest daughter was to take the throne, but this failed and the plot failed.

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Nine days after her proclamation as queen, Jane was taken to the Tower, and then she herself, her husband, and some 60 conspirators were executed. The worst part is that the beautiful girl had no thought of the throne: it was the vanity of the Northumberlands that ruined her. On Good Friday 1554, in the courtyard of the Tower, the hangman’s axe fell on young Jane’s head.

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

Most famous is the spirit of Anne Boleyn (1607 – 1636), the second of the six wives of King Henry VIII, mother of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Their marriage lasted only a thousand days. Anne bore the king only daughters.

To get rid of her and remarry, Henry accused her of adultery and incest, imprisoned her in a fortress, and then ordered her to be executed.

On a sunny morning of May 19, 1536, she wore a motley Syrian robe and a red underskirt, and adorned her head with a tiara with a pearl. Astonished at her stately demeanor, the commandant of the Tower pronounced: “This lady goes to her death with joy!”

She was granted the extraordinary privilege of replacing the clumsy executioner, an Englishman with an axe, with an experienced Frenchman who could chop heads with a sword. Before the death they gave their word, and Anne, with her usual irony, calmly said that she had a very small neck, ideally suited for execution by beheading.

Anne Boleyn also owns this historical phrase: “The King is so good to me. First he made me a maid. Then from the maid made me a marquise. From a marquise he made me queen, and now from a queen he makes me a holy great martyr!”

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

This woman died without anguish and with a quiet heart. Her head was not hung in public view, as the custom of the time demanded. It was placed under the right hand of the executed woman and placed with her body in a forged chest. She was then hastily buried in the Tower under the floor of Saints Peter and Vincula Chapel.

Since then, the ghost of Anne Boleyn, flickering with whitish light, has reappeared periodically in the castle for centuries on the eve of her death. The outlines of her figure are quite vague. But if you look closely, you can understand that it is a woman dressed in a luxurious silk gown.

Her head is covered by a cap, but her head is not there – it is under the arm of her right hand… The Tower staff say this ghost wanders the stairs, comes to the window and, unlike the others, is not afraid of people. Sometimes he has been spotted at the head of a procession heading for the chapel, sometimes elsewhere in the castle.

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The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

He appeared most frequently in the nineteenth century. One day, when a group of patrolmen led by an officer was examining the walls in the Tower, a guard came up to him and reported that he had seen some strange light coming from a chapel window. He had seen it before, he said, but had never before inquired as to its origin.

The officer decided to open the doors of the chapel, but they were locked. Then he ordered a ladder to be brought in. It was leaned against the wall. The curious officer went up, peered through the window inside, and was dumbfounded. In the dim light he saw a multitude of ladies and men dressed in silk and velvet camisoles and gowns from the Tudor dynasty.

They followed each other down the aisle, then descended silently beneath the floor through the marble slabs. As soon as the last figure disappeared, the chapel plunged into darkness. The officer, who knew almost all the crowned heads from the wall paintings, recognized the last figure as Anne Boleyn. Soon the floor of the chapel was broken into, and more than two hundred skeletons were removed, including the one that belonged to Anne.

The spirit of Anne Boleyn is considered in England to be the most “industrious” ghost of royalty. He was also seen floating on the Thames in a boat, and also in a carriage with headless horses, while his own head was on his lap.

The Tower of London - the repository of secrets XV century, Architecture and structures, Mysticism and superstition, England, celebrities, history

Anne Boleyn could also be found at Hampton Court Palace. As for the Tower, sometimes there is a fog over this fortress and chants and music can be heard. During the 1940 bombings, a nightmarish vision emerged at the castle gate, watched by a sentry and guards. A soldier on guard duty claimed to have seen four male figures emerge from the fog, dragging the decapitated body of a woman somewhere…

In the Middle Ages, the Tower of London was home to the Royal Menagerie. Lions, leopards, bears, monkeys and even an elephant (a gift from the King of France) lived here for a long time.

A few centuries later, on a January midnight in 1815, the tower’s inhabitants saw the ghost of a huge bear for the first time. Since then, it regularly alarms visitors with its menacing appearance….

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