It is at this point in the story where the facts become obscured. The only detailed written version of the deaths of the two princes comes from Sir Thomas More’s History of King Richard III, in which he relates a confession supposedly given by James Tyrell, the alleged murderer, upon his trial for treason in 1502. Since this confession has never actually surfaced, it is impossible to know whether More invented it or not. More claims that after Brackenbury refused to do the murders himself, Richard employed his ambitious servant Tyrell and placed the princes in the care of “Black Will or Will Slaughter” instead of their usual keepers. With the help of Miles Forest, “a fellow fleshed in murder before time,” and John Dighton, “a big, broad, square, strong knave,” Tyrell had the princes smothered to death at midnight and then buried at the foot of one of the Tower’s staircases (214). Apparently, Richard then had them re-buried in an unknown location.
While it is most widely accepted that Richard III was responsible for the deaths of the princes, there are several other highly plausible scenarios. First, it has been claimed that Buckingham himself killed the princes, since he would have had access to the Tower at the time. The alternative defended by modern-day Ricardian supporters is that Henry Tudor had the princes killed in order to stabilize his own claim to the throne, which also explains why the blame would have been ascribed to Richard III as an integral piece of Tudor propaganda. It has even been suggested that the princes actually died of disease, such as the plague, while in confinement. To complicate matters, in 1674, a chest was uncovered buried beneath the White Tower containing two child skeletons supposed to be the princes’ remains. Although an examination of the “bones of 1674” found them to be appropriate matches for the two princes and believed the deaths to have occurred in 1483, making it impossible to have been the work of Henry VII. However, this was discredited in the 1950s, and it remains uncertain whether these are The Bones or not.
Maurer, Helen. “Bones in the Tower: A Discussion of Time, Place and Circumstance.” Part 2. The Ricardian, vol. 8, no. 111. 1990. pp 474-493.
Wagner, John A. Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc. 2001. Print.