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Richard III: The Making of a Legend
late king's furniture, plate, jewels, and tapestries. The queen was in such a panic to save her possessions that she ordered a wall in the sanctuary broken through in order to get them in more quickly.
The council voiced approval of the actions Richard had taken in regard to the young king, and on May 4, the royal party entered London to be greeted with great enthusiasm by the mayor, aldermen, and thousands of cheering citizens. The king was conducted to the palace of the Bishop of London where the Lords were assembled to pay him homage, and Richard went to Crosby's Place, his London home. Thus ended the day which the Woodvilles had chosen for the coronation of Edward V.
Richard's first task was to restore orderly government. He called a council which included many Woodville adherents. It was, in fact, composed of substantially the same membership as the one which had preceded it. The new council, acting in accordance with the late king's will, proclaimed Richard Protector and Defensor of the Realm.
Richard, in turn, promised to be guided by council decisions. At the suggestion of Buckingham, the council decided to move the king to the royal apartments in the Tower and set June 24 as the coronation day. Summonses were sent for a parliament to convene on the day following the coronation. The council also agreed to propose to parliament that the Protectorship be continued until the king came of age in order to forestall the formation of factions which might seek to control the young king.
One of Richard's first acts as Protector was to offer a pardon to all soldiers and sailors who would desert Edward Woodville and proclaim their loyalty to the new regime. Most of them accepted the offer, but Woodville himself escaped to Brittany with a large share of the treasure. This money was eventually turned over to Henry Tudor and it helped to finance his invasion in 1485.
Buckingham quickly emerged as one of the most powerful and influential members of the council, overshadowing men such as Hastings and Stanley who had served under Edward IV. His rapid elevation to power caused jealousy which in turn led to intrigue between Hastings and the Woodvilles and, eventually, to Hastings' death. Richard, of course, appreciated Buckingham's loyal support, but he may have been first drawn to him by the resemblance to George of Clarence, Richard's late brother. Another mark in Buckingham's favor was the fact that he had come to court in the new reign and was, therefore, uninvolved in the entanglements and intrigues of the late reign. Richard was, no doubt, aware that Buckingham's bitter hatred of the Woodvilles, caused by his forced marriage to Katherine Woodville in his early adolescence, was a prime factor in his decision to join ranks with the Protector. Whatever the reasons, for the next few months Buckingham was Richard's most ardent and outspoken supporter. "He created, he was, the party of the Protector."
Richard's fear that factions might form within the council proved well-founded. To counter Buckingham's rising influence, Hastings and his friends, including Rotherham, Morton, and Stanley, began meeting secretly and intriguing with the queen, using as their go-between Jane Shore, the mistress of the late king and more recently of Hastings and Dorset. Apparently they planned to end the Protectorship and restore the Woodvilles to power. Had they succeeded, the Hastings-Woodville faction would have been able to rule through the young king, and the position, possibly even the life, of the Protector would have been in jeopardy.
Richard was aware of what was going on and the danger the conspirators presented to his position. On June 10, he wrote to the magistrates of York asking them to send as many armed men as they could spare to assist him against "the Queen, her blood adherents, and affinity, which have intended, and daily doth intend, to murder and utterly destroy us and our cousin the duke of Buckingham, and the old royal blood of this realm. The city sent three hundred men, who did not reach London, however, until after Richard's coronation.
On June 13, the council met in the Tower. Richard opened the meeting with the announcement that a conspiracy against the government had been discovered. He accused the queen and her followers, including Jane Shore, Stanley, Morton, Rotherham, and Hastings of complicity in the plot. Hastings denied the charge, but the four men were arrested and Hastings was taken at once to the Tower green and summarily executed.
A herald was sent through the city to read a proclamation justifying the Protector's action. Hastings, Richard charged, had been involved in a plot against the Protector and Buckingham, and his immediate execution was necessary in order to prevent any attempt to rescue him. It seems remarkable that the execution, without a trial, of a man as popular as Hastings raised no protest among the citizens. It is quite likely, however, that many Londoners were already convinced that Richard intended to take the crown.
Richard took Hastings' widow under his protection and permitted her to keep all of her husband's property. Possibly this was Richard's way of atoning for an act he may have deeply regretted. Stanley and Rotherham, however, were imprisoned only briefly, and were later restored to the council. At Buckingham's request, Morton was placed in his charge and sent to Brecon Castle in Wales. On June 25, at Pontefract, Rivers, Grey, and Vaughn were executed for treason, thus ending Richard hoped, all danger of further Woodville intrigue.
Most of the council members had supported Richard's actions with regard to Hastings and the other conspirators, and they now acceded to his request that Elizabeth Woodville and her children be asked to leave sanctuary. Even if she refused, her younger son was to be brought out to join his brother and to attend the coronation. The council agreed with Buckingham, who argued that since the children had done no wrong they had no need of sanctuary. On June 16, a delegation from the council, headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, went to Westminster and persuaded the reluctant queen to give up her son. Prince Richard thereupon joined his brother in the Tower.
In London, where the council had again postponed the coronation, there were rumors that Edward V would lose his crown before long. The reason for the postponement was the startling news, imparted to Richard and some members of the council by Bishop Stillington of Bath and Wells, to the effect that prior to the Woodville marriage the late king had made a pre-contract of marriage with Dame Eleanor Butler, daughter of the Earl of Shrewesbury.  If true, this made the Woodville marriage invalid in the eyes of the church and made the children of the marriage illegitimate. Although such pre-contracts were frequently set aside, and it is unknown what, if any, evidence Stillington produced to prove his claim, Richard accepted the story. The history of Clarence's trial and execution, and Stillington's subsequent arrest, have led several historians to suggest that Clarence knew the secret and was put to death at the insistence of the Woodvilles in order to protect their position.
On Sunday, June 22, at Paul's Cross, Friar Ralph Shaa, the brother of the Mayor of London, preached a sermon, taking for his text, "Bastard slips shall not take root." He told the congregation of the pre-contract and declared the Duke of Gloucester to be the true heir to the throne. In other parts of the city other preachers, acting on instructions from the Duke of Buckingham, even went so far as to impugn the legitimacy of Edward IV himself. This scandalous accusation had been levied years before by Clarence, when he had aimed at the throne, but there is no evidence to
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