The Welsh-born Harri Tudur was crowned as Henry VI, king of England and the founder of the Tudor dynasty, on October 30, 1485. It is important to note that he made sure he was crowned king by “right of conquest” before he married Edward IV’s heir, Elizabeth of York. Henry was very tenuously connected to the throne and his bloodlines were all from the female side of his family, so he wanted to make sure that everyone knew he’d become king because his forces had defeated Richard III during the Battle of Bosworth a few months prior.
In truth, it is nothing short of a miracle that Henry VII became king. His rights to the throne by inheritance were scanty and weak, his experience in battle was small, and his support before Richard III usurped the throne was almost non-existent. It is only the death of the Princes in the Tower, Richard’s nephews and the lawful kings of England, that won the crown for Henry VII.
Richard ‘s decision to declare his nephews illegitimate and usurp the crown in 1483 “changed the course of English history. Had Richard not betrayed his nephews, there is every possibility the Yorkist dynasty would have survived. But Richard’s own future would have been quite difficult; he was despised by Elizabeth Woodville, and – as Edward IV’s only brother – he would become the focus of Woodville discontent. That would not have lasted for long and Edward V would have followed his mother’s wishes. The boy had, after all, been raised and tutored by his Woodville relations and hardly knew Richard … Richard was an able administrator but faced quite a few obstacles during his brief reign. If Edward IV had died with no rightful heir, Richard’s ascension would have been viewed much differently. Then, he would have been the rightful king. And since he wed Anne Neville of Warwick, daughter of the ‘Kingmaker’, he would have had crucial support. But Richard’s only son and wife died with months of one another in 1484 … Richard III’s usurpation was bad enough to most Englishmen, and especially the nobility. But in 1483, Edward IV’s two sons – held in the Tower – mysteriously died. It was whispered that Richard had them murdered and secretly buried … The deaths of Edward V and his brother, Richard duke of York, angered the populace and encouraged the image of Richard III as a deceitful murderer. Since Richard never officially responded to the rumors, they were believed to be true … The disappearance sullied Richard’s character and made those Englishmen who didn’t support Henry Tudor less than thrilled about defending Richard III. In other words, they would simply wait out the conflict without openly supporting either party. And that is exactly what most of the country did … Richard was a capable and intelligent man and – whatever the truth about his nephews – had far more experience in government than Henry Tudor.”
Richard had blood and money and the actual throne on his side, but Harri Tudur still won when Richard’s theoretical allies turned against him on the field of battle. In fact, Richard’s entire reign was plagued with allies turning against him, including the Duke of Buckingham. Again, these betrayals were probably motivated by Richard’s unpopularity after his nephews disappeared. It will never be known for certain if Richard had his nephews murdered or not, but it is indisputable that he kidnapped and imprisoned the boys after executing their most staunch defenders and kinsmen on trumped up charges.
Henry VII would spend his reign consolidating wealth and power for England by eschewing war and collecting taxes, leaving a strong, rich, and stable kingdom to his heir, Henry VIII.