31 JULY 1936, Page 29


Edited by C. A. J. Armstrong

Two years ago Mr. C. A. J. Armstrong described in The Times a Lille MS. of 1483 in which an Italian priest, fresh from a year's visit to England, narrated the events through which Richard the Third, putting his nephew aside, mounted the Throne. Mr. Armstrong has now printed the Latin document, with a good translation and full notes, in The Usurpation of Richard the Third (Oxford University Press, 10s.). The author, Dominic Mancini, a scholar of some repute, wrote his account of English affairs for his patron, Angelo Cato, Archbishop of Vienna, at whose instance Philippe de Comrnines produced his famous memoirs of Louis XI. Mancini's descrip- tion of Edward IV, whom he may have seen, and of the swift and sure measures which Richard took to secure the young Edward V and to destroy his chief supporters, is clear, un- biased and almost entirely accurate in detail. It stops at Richard's coronation, but there is a brief closing chapter on London. Now in July, 1483, when Mancini left England, " already there was a suspicion that he (the young king) had been done away with." " Whether, however, he has been done away with and by what manner of death," wrote the author in the following December, " so far I have not at all discovered." Here then is a contemporary reporting current belief that the Princes in the Tower were either dead or in grave peril from their uncle as early as July, 1483. The Croyland chronicler heard a rumour of their death in October. Those who have tried to prove Richard not guilty on the ground that Polydore Vergil, More and other historians of his reign were Tudor partisans would find Mancini a fatal witness for the prosecution. The Italian, by the way, had never heard that Richard was a hunchback, or he would have said so.