Text Box: No one was more puzzled than I at the disappearance of the two English princes from the Tower of London in 1483 who were never seen again: the greatest, most baffling and longest running case of missing persons in the history of Royal England.


I have been asked to provide a short summary of the history. OK! Difficult requests are answered immediately. The impossible take a little while longer. First, there is a summary of an interview with BBC Radio Leicester (18 August 1995). Second, for those who are sensitive to this sort of thing, The Debt is a translation of the history into drama for the stage, presented on a replica sixteenth century “Cockpit” stage at the Bear Gardens Museum, Southwark, London (18 Sept – 5 Oct 1985).


An introduction to Tudor history:



I am Jack Leslau, an amateur historian with a background of methods, investigating the case of the two sons of Edward IV, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, who disappeared from the Tower of London more than five hundred years ago, in 1483, and were never seen again: the most baffling and longest-running case of missing persons in England’s royal history.


1976:  I found new evidence that the princes were not murdered, as we had all been brought up to believe, but lived on under false names and identities. The elder prince, Edward V, was also known as Sir Edward Guildford; and, the younger prince, Richard, Duke of York, was also known as John Clement. Guildford married, had two children and died in England and, according to the witness/informant, was secretly buried in Old Chelsea Church. John Clement also married, had six children and died and was buried abroad, with all of his family, in Flanders. The evidence shows the two princes living under cover over a substantial period of time.  The informant gives us the names of each one of those eminent courtiers responsible for the princes as case officers. If true, it means the princes were financially supported by the Tudors. Guildford became Standard Bearer and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. However, at first, John Clement, like other York family prominentes, fled abroad. I found him registered in the University of Louvain in the Faculty of Arts studying Classics. Shortly after the death of Henry VII, Clement returned to England but then returned abroad for a second time where he attended the university of Siena and obtained his doctorate in medicine. He returned once more to England and, in a unique meteoric rise to eminence, within one year was admitted Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and later president of the college, appointed by Henry VIII.  When Elizabeth I came to the throne he was exiled for the last time, or exiled himself, to Flanders together with his family and the remainder of the More family circle. Investigation found Clement and his wife buried at the High Altar in St Rombouts Cathedral, Mechelen: the Westminster Abbey of Flanders. I have recently received permission to open the tomb. I have also found where Clement’s eldest daughter, Winifred, was buried, beside her husband, Judge William Rastell, More’s nephew. It was William Rastell who had published More's famous ms/book The History of King Richard III many years after More’s death, wherein More had stated for the first time, authoritatively, that the princes were dead.  Since More contributed absolutely nothing about the alleged murders from first hand knowledge (Lawyer More was no more than six years old at the time of their disappearance); and, since the manuscript was not published during his lifetime -- it was my theory from the outset that the hearsay evidence in this book was a blind, perhaps to lay down a smokescreen over the continued existence of the two princes.  In order to prove this theory I had to find the princes.  The new evidence means I may have succeeded. For instance, we know John Clement married Thomas More's adoptive daughter, Margaret Giggs.  More was Clement's father-in-law. If you want one safe, simple reason for More's Richard, that will do. If you want another, William Rastell, was Clement's son-in-law. DNA profiling may prove conclusively that the princes lived on. If findings are positive, it means that the false story of Richard III having murdered them in 1483 was black propaganda emanating from a highly effective Tudor department of dirty tricks.  It means that More's  History of King Richard III was More's blind to protect his son-in-law, Richard, Duke of York (by saying that he was dead) and this blind was firmly nailed down after More's death by More's nephew, Judge William Rastell, publishing the story in print for the first time to protect his wife, Princess Winifred, and their royal children. More risked his life to lay a smokescreen over Richard, Duke of York, rightful heir to the throne of England after the death of his elder brother, Edward V, in July 1528. It means More had successfully persuaded Henry VIII that Henry’s two uncles were no threat to Henry’s throne. There is also More's part in persuading the two York princes not to attempt to regain the English throne from the Tudors -- thus saving England from a coup d'état and all the horrors of civil war in the sixteenth century. If DNA findings are positive it means we have uncovered a deception plan that held in place for more than half a millennium and the history of England is changed utterly.


The court painter to Henry VIII, Hans Holbein the Younger, left personal and political information concealed in 73 paintings discovered to date. The decrypts in 12 paintings are detailed at www.holbeinartworks.org


2001: The University of Louvain (Professor Doctor J.-J. Cassiman) will DNA profile Guildford and Clement (a distinguished former alumnus), with the agreement and support of the Harveian Librarian of the Royal College of Physicians of London (Sir Gordon Wolstenholme).




3 December 2001



When?  Soon.



And now to our play!                                  


(Designed and drawn by Julian Bleach)


And our players


CHORUS                                                                                                   JULIAN BLEACH



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE                                                                         MARK LAVILLE


THOMAS MORE                                                                                        ANDREW CASSELL


HENRY VII                                                                                                 CHRISTOPHER LEY


QUEEN ELIZABETH WOODVILLE                                                             SHARON SCOGINGS


ELIZABETH OF YORK                                                                              SARAH KING


EDWARD V                                                                                               JUSTIN KIELTY


RICHARD, DUKE OF YORK                                                                       WAYNE MURPHY




DIRECTOR                                                                                                 MICHAEL ROSEN


DANCE MASTER                                                                                       RON HOWELL


ORIGINAL MUSIC                                                                                      CARL LEWIS


STAGE MANAGER (Sound/Lighting)                                                        LIZZ POULTER


COSTUME                                                                                                 PHILLIPPE DE BORSCHE


FOYER ART DISPLAY                                                                              EMMA PLANT


CO-ORDINATOR                                                                                       JAMES LESLAU





MUSEUM MANAGER                                                                                 PATRICK SPOTTISWOODE


ASSISTANT MANAGER                                                                            SOPHIE HAUSER


TECHNICIAN                                                                                              ROGER TAYLOR







Jack Leslau



ACT ONE, Scene One.





CHORUS:                 Rounds about this humble stage A Mighty History

                        -- of England.


      Enter Richard III, Henry VII, Henry VIII, Elizabeth of York, Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Edward Vth and Richard, Duke of York.


                        Long dead shadows now are fleshed again

                        --For pleasure of your eyes.

                        That you may see -- what William Shakespeare saw.

                        Not always what he wrote

                        -- Of Lustrous Kings and Chosen Queens

                        But what he surely saw.  And just as surely knew.

                        Of Royal Blood, Of Noble lineage,

                         Forked and split like riven trees

                        Beneath the Storms of Earth & Sky.  And, Man.

                        The Rightful Heirs, made Rightful By the Laws of God

                        -- And, Man.

                        The Master made of them His creatures, his puppets,

                        Strong symbols for his stage.

                        But Symbol is not the Thing itself !

                        Not on this Stage of Life, not anywhere.

                        And if we see the murky falseness of the outer show...

                        Then can we look again at Inner Things.

                        And if Good Truth burns in your Heart & Mind,

                        And will not leave you go -- consuming you

                        Then must we look again.

                        To see each problem with a mind afresh

                        As though 'twer never seen before.

                        For this, we have assistance,

                        A Witness -- German -- Free.

                        With secret information On the Tudor Dynasty.

                        His name was Hans Holbein,

                        Court Painter of his day.  And in a Painter's Codeform,

                        In his portraits he did lay The story, hidden !

                        And now we scan today,

                        One hundred and eighteen years,

                        The background to our play,

                        The Secret History of the Tudors,

                        Which involved Sir Thomas More.

                        And later, our Will Shakespeare,

                        In a debt we will explore, Of Honour --

                        The play will tell you more.

                        I am your Counsel, and your Guide.  Your Interlocutor

                        -- if you would have me so !

                        And if my earnest mien displease you not

                        Then mayhap it may please you that much more

                        To start upon this Venture...First, to understand

                        Why this King -- Henry the Seventh --

                        Took this Queen -- Elizabeth of York --

                        To be his lawful wedded wife --

                        Soon after this King (points to Richard III)

                        Lost his life.

                        And why this King with re-marriage was obsessed

                        (points to Henry VIII)

                        And why Queen Elizabeth Woodville

                        Was dis-possessed of her two sons, Who disappeared !

                        The Princes in the Tower.


      Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Edward Vth and Richard, Duke of York, dance a pavane.   Exeunt.



Scene Two


RICHARD III :           "Now is the Winter of our discontent..."


(Mid-way through the speech CHORUS interrupts)


CHORUS :                Come now, Richard -- 'Tis not unacceptable, the part

                        you play -- but, is it necessary ?

      In reality, you probably said no such thing.

                        And take out that stupid padding -- your false nose

                        -- and that ghastly wig...   And unwind your arm !


(CHORUS "dismantles" RICHARD III and bundles him off).


                        Many have liked that part -- and have coveted it.

                        But, rest awhile -- or listen if you will.

                        We are going to take the History of England --

                        Most seriously --

                        And turn it on its ear...!


(Re-enter RICHARD III)


RICHARD III :           Hold, Master Chorus -- while I submit my evidence.

                        Here is the authority under which I claim my role --

                        Sir Thomas More !




THOMAS MORE :           "Richard, the third son, of whom we now entreat,

                        Was in wit and courage

                        Equal with either of them (his brothers).

                        In body and prowess, far under them both.

                        Little of stature, ill-featured of limbs,


                        His left shoulder much higher than his right.

                        Hard favoured of visage, and such

                        As in states called -- Warly,

                        In other men, otherwise.

                        He was malicious, wrathful, envious,

                        And from before his birth, ever froward.

                        It is for truth reported, that the Duchess

                        His Mother, had so much ado,

                        In her travail --

                        That she could not be delivered of him uncut,

                        And that he came into the world,

                        With the feet forward, as men be borne outward --

                        And (as the rumour runneth)

                        Also not un-toothed (!)

                        Whether men of hatred report above the truth

                        Or else that nature changed her course

                        In his beginning

                        Which in the course of his life,

                        Many things un-naturally committed...

                        He was close and secret --

                        A Deep Dissimuler --

                        Lowly of countenance --

                        Arrogant of heart.

                        Outwardly companionable -- where he inwardly hated,

                        Not letting to kiss -- whom he thought to kill.

                        Disputatious and cruel --

                        Not for evil always, but often for Ambition --

                        And either for the surety, or increase,

                        Of his Estate.   Friend or Foe,

                        Was much what indifferent

                        Where his advantage grew.

                        He spared no man's death

                        Whose life withstood his purpose.

                        He slew -- with his own hands --

                        King Henry Sixth,

                        Being Prisoner in the Tower,

                        As men constantly say."


CHORUS :                (to the audience)   Now, you see. Thomas More gave

                        this word picture of Richard -- and Shakespeare used

                        it for his character.

                        From his portraits -- he wasn't crook-backed and had

                        no withered arm. If he had really been deformed,

                        someone would surely have hinted at this -- sometime

                        during his lifetime of 33 years !

                        Strange, isn't it ?  The first authoritative

                        statement was made by Sir Thomas More -- some

                        thirty years after Richard's death !


(Enter HENRY VII, who speaks with a Welsh accent).


HENRY VII :             He was a monster !

                        By what right

                        Do you take it upon yourself

                        To leave Richard alive --

                        I want him dead !


CHORUS :                Oh, No ! Not again. Had Richard lived -- this tale

                        could not be told. You assassinated him -- not once,

                        but twice ! First, his body. Then, his character.




HENRY VIII :            (aside to his father)   Leave Richard alone.

                        We shall hear what he says.


CHORUS :                Yes -- (to Henry VIII).   You, are the Legal Heir of

                        the Legal King of England (indicating Henry VII) --

                        but are you the Rightful Heir to the Throne of

                        England ?


HENRY VIII :            to Chorus)   Of course I am the Rightful Heir --

                        Son of my Father.


CHORUS :                But your Father never claimed to be rightful heir to

                        his throne -- so, how can you claim to be rightful

                        heir to your throne ?   Your Father claimed his

                        throne "By Conquest" -- Of course, you know this.


HENRY VIII :            (silky and dangerous)   And, so ?


CHORUS :                Did your Father -- usurp the Throne ?


HENRY VIII :            (very dangerous)   Now, you tell me !

CHORUS :                (flatly)   No !   We will hear what your Father has

                        to say.   Well, is it true ?


HENRY VII :             (steps forward)   Well, we know, don't we -- that

                        the Illustrious Tudor Blood prevailed.  It was the

                        Will of God...


CHORUS :                Do you know the Will of God ?


HENRY VII :             Of course !   I am a King -- with the sacred blood

                        of Kings in my veins.


CHORUS :                Somewhat diluted, I fear.   Are you not the great-

                        grandson, of an illegitimate son, of the third son,

                        of a King ?   The Will of God was formerly -- and

                        more generally -- thought to be descended from

                        Father to eldest son, was it not ?   Did you

                        disagree with this ?


(Enter Queen Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York).


WOODVILLE :            Who is this man ?


HENRY VIII :            It's More -- Thomas Bloody More !   (exit)


WOODVILLE :             Is he trying to say that Richard was a cripple --

                        when everyone knows he was nothing of the sort ?


ELIZ. OF YORK :         I'm so sorry, Dear More !   Yes. I knew him too,

                        and loved him well, and trusted him.


(Re-enter Henry VIII)


HENRY VIII :            He denied my Divine Right. You denied my Supremacy !


HENRY VII :             (interrupts)   I knew him as a young man, of course. 

                        In parliament.   A beardless boy -- he cost me money

                        I wanted from Parliament -- rightfully mine -- my

                        money !


CHORUS :                Nothing was rightfully yours, unless Parliament

                        approved -- and said so.   Not even you, Henry

                        (indicates Henry VIII) can kill a man twice.  

                        Please leave us !


(Exit Henry VII, Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth Woodville)


THOMAS MORE :           Thank you, Master Chorus.


CHORUS :                You are welcome, Master MORUS.    For are you not

                        known also as MORUS ?


THOMAS MORE :           Yes -- amongst the scholars.   Sometimes amongst my



CHORUS :                Please stay awhile.   Maybe you can help us.   For

                        surely -- you could not know that Shakespeare would

                        use your book to write a play about Richard ?


THOMAS MORE :           No, quite true.   I was dead before he was born.


CHORUS :                Your title is unequivocal, is it not ?

                        "The History of King Richard the Third"...


THOMAS MORE :           True.


CHORUS :                But the story you told is not true, is it ?


THOMAS MORE :           I did not say that !


CHORUS :                Neither did you say that the story was true,

                        did you ?


THOMAS MORE :           I told the truth.   Men really did say it was true.


CHORUS :                'Men really say' ?   Come, come Thomas --

                        What is your profession?


THOMAS MORE :           I am a lawyer.


CHORUS :                Very well -- why does a lawyer say 'Men really say',

                        and 'It is for truth reported' -- without naming his

                        witnesses?   Were they not reliable sources?

                        The fact is -- that you had no first-hand knowledge

                        whatsoever of Richard's alleged secret deeds -- and

                        could not possibly have had -- on the grounds that

                        you were only a young child -- maybe no more than

                        six years old, at the time.


THOMAS MORE :           Not so.   I heard this from others.


ELIZ. OF YORK :         No, Dear More -- that is insufficient.   From whom

                        did you get the story of Richard's appearance -- and



CHORUS :                We love the monstrous villain you portrayed.   He is

                        an actor's dream!   Every actor competes to make

                        him more and more loathsome.


ELIZ. OF YORK :         He wasn't like my Uncle, King Richard -- at all.  

                        Please answer.


THOMAS MORE :           The book was unfinished -- not for publication.

                        I did not publish it !


CHORUS :                But you wrote it -- Why ?


THOMAS MORE :           (carefully)   I wanted to.


CHORUS :                Yes, but why ?   Was it to gratify your undoubted

                        dramatic instincts ?


THOMAS MORE :           Yes -- pure self-indulgence.


CHORUS :                Do you mean to tell us -- that no one -- not one

                        person -- read the manuscript ?   That you did

                        not show it to a friend, a colleague ?   I submit

                        that you did -- to at least one person -- and maybe

                        many more.   There is a witness who saw it -- who

                        will say that the manuscript and its contents were

                        well-known in your family -- and amongst your

                        friends -- and that you alone had written the book.  

                        And why you wrote the book.


THOMAS MORE :           Hopefully -- that is quite impossible !


CHORUS :                'Hopefully' -- is it ?   There was someone in your

                        house -- who loved you dearly -- and who knew and

                        understood very well what you were trying to

                        achieve.   He respected your desire for

                        confidentiality but felt compelled -- by an

                        obsessive urge -- to tell the true story ! So,

                        Thomas -- will you tell the true story now ?


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Tell him, Dear More -- for I could say nothing.

                        I was too young -- too afraid.   I was always

                        overborne -- as you knew well -- by my Mother -- and

                        after, by my Husband.   I had only my children to

                        love.   Then you came, a young man who loved me --

                        and I loved you !   I remember the verses you wrote

                        for me.   They are still in my heart and mind.

                        I welcomed you and invited you -- and you came to

                        see my children, at Eltham -- Remember ?   And I

                        prayed you would be good friend to them always -- 

                        and to my brothers -- and you were.   But they were

                        not always good friend to you.   And still you forgave.

                        Can't you see, Thomas ?

                        It does not matter who knows now.   All is long past.

                        You can do no harm to any soul -- living or dead

                        -- nor can anyone else -- no matter how evil-intentioned

                        And Master Chorus is not malicious or evil,

                        I would swear.

                        He is no less impassioned with his questing after Truth

                        than you yourself -- throughout your entire life.

                        Do you not see, Thomas -- he loves you well,

                        but loves Truth more.

                        He -- and many others -- have studied your writings,

                        they all understand now !

                        Save yourself from further trial... (Exit)


THOMAS MORE :           Well.   Elizabeth Woodville married Edward the



CHORUS :                Where ?


THOMAS MORE :           'Tis well known.   Men say, in GRAFTON.


CHORUS :                GRAFTON ?   Why not in London ?


THOMAS MORE :           It isn't far from London !


CHORUS :                (smiling)   Thank you, Master More.

                        Will you please find the passage in the text

                        concerning the alleged murder of the two Princes ?  

                        Let us now question directly.

                        Call Elizabeth Woodville !


(Enter Queen Elizabeth Woodville)


                        You were married to your husband in GRAFTON.   Why ?


WOODVILLE :             It was my family home -- what place more natural ?


CHORUS :                It is a fact that there was no prior announcement of

                        your intended marriage to the King of England --

                        which was only made public after the marriage.  

                        Clearly -- the marriage was in secret !


WOODVILLE :             All my family knew !


CHORUS :                Your Mother-in-Law was furious !   She didn't know

                        about the marriage.   Would you like to know how

                        Shakespeare portrayed you ?

                        A relatively quiet and gentle lady, somewhat badly

                        treated by Life !


WOODVILLE :             Who portrayed me so ?


CHORUS :                William Shakespeare.


WOODVILLE :             And did I really appear so quiet and gentle ?

                        Well, so I was.   'The Rose of Grafton.'


CHORUS :                But not if you follow history !

                        You were Queen of England for nearly twenty years.

                        Born Elizabeth Woodville -- of undistinguished stock

                        -- you caused by your ambition the private battle

                        between the unforgettable Woodvilles and the

                        hereditary Yorkist families -- which would change

                        the course of history.   Your well-calculated

                        entrapment of a notorious womaniser, Edward IV,

                        caused the Duchess Cecily Neville, Edward's mother,

                        to write in fury to her son -- and for good reason.


WOODVILLE :             Undistinguished !

                        Within twenty years, my sister Catherine Woodville

                        married the Duke of Buckingham. And my sister Anne

                        Woodville married the heir of the Earl of Essex.

                        Sister Eleanor Woodville married the heir of the

                        Earl of Kent.

                        Sister Jaquetta Woodville married Lord Strange.

                        Sister Mary Woodville married Lord Herbert's heir --

                        And my dear brother John...


CHORUS :                (aside)   Aged about nineteen years...


WOODVILLE :             ...Married -- just in time -- his much-beloved

                        Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.


CHORUS :                Four times married, and aged about eighty years !


WOODVILLE :             My eldest son, by my first marriage, was made

                        Marquess of Dorset.   My younger son was knighted.  

                        My brother was made an Earl, he was so clever !  

                        Shall I go on ?


CHORUS :                Please do !


WOODVILLE :             The Woodville family, under my protection, establish

                        themselves amongst the greatest in the realm.   And

                        I hold the trump card in my hand.   My infant son,

                        Edward V, will one day be King under Woodville

                        influence.   The Yorkist Nevilles and Percy's -- the

                        Founding Families of this realm -- felt threatened.  

                        Amd when my husband suddenly died -- some say of a

                        heart attack...


CHORUS :                (aside)   Some say, no wonder !


WOODVILLE :             ...His younger brother Richard of Gloucester, later

                        King Richard III -- took those princes away from me

                        -- and the influence of my highly intelligent



CHORUS :                So you were no blushing flower !

                        Do you remember the letter you wrote to Sir William

                        Stonor ?   Was he not a loyal servant of high

                        position ?


WOODVILLE :             Yes -- I told him 'You are not hunting the deer in

                        my Royal Forests, even under the commission of the

                        king, my husband'.

                        What is wrong with that ?


CHORUS :                Clearly, Ma'am -- if you openly over-ruled your

                        husband in small things -- might you not have

                        possibly over-ruled him in other matters as well.  

                        For instance, the secret marriage ?


WOODVILLE :             My husband wanted this.   It was his decision.


CHORUS :                But why did you agree ?


WOODVILLE :             There was a rumour that he had contracted a marriage

                        with another woman -- Lady Eleanor Butler, I believe

                        her name was.


CHORUS :                Who never denied the pre-contract -- and neither did

                        you !   Instead, you married him in secret because

                        you were afraid than an open declaration of intent

                        might have caused some reaction from Lady Eleanor

                        Butler -- which might have spoiled your marriage

                        plans !


WOODVILLE :             Lady Eleanor Butler -- and many others -- tried to

                        catch my husband before we were married.

                        But I GOT him !


CHORUS :                Now we begin to see the real character...  

                        Clearly, not Shakespeare's representation.

                        I have no further questions at this time.


(Exit Woodville)


                        Let us now see the other half of this conspiracy.

                        Call Henry VII...


(Enter Henry VII)


HENRY VII :             I am not answering any questions, you know !


CHORUS :                (smiling)   My Dear Sir -- we accept your non-

                        answers -- each and every one !   But it is my

                        bounden duty -- as an upholder of Justice -- to

                        inform you of a list of formal charges which History

                        must lay against you...


HENRY VII :             You can't do that !   I am a King !   No one can lay

                        formal charges against a King !   There is no

                        precedent !


CHORUS :                If you seek a precedent -- I intend to rely on the

                        case of a certain English King -- Charles Ist --

                        executed upon the order of Parliament -- after your

                        time, of course !


HENRY VII :             That's your precedent -- not mine !


CHORUS :                Precisely.   Would you now remain silent while the

                        charges are read ?   You may answer in due course.


HENRY VII :             I'll answer you now -- I'm leaving !


(Henry tries to leave but all doors close in his face).


CHORUS :                You cannot run now, Henry -- every door is closed.  

                        There is nowhere for you to go.


HENRY VII :             No, well -- upon consideration...   If I am to be

                        tried then I must be tried by my peers, won't I ?

                        All of them Kings !   Do you still hope to get a

                        conviction ?


CHORUS :                You may be tried by your peers, if you wish.   And,

                        a counsel of your choice will be offered, in due



HENRY VII :             I'll get the best !


CHORUS :                The best was Thomas More (indicates More)...


HENRY VII :             Oh, No !   (to More)

                        I'll get your Master, Cardinal Morton.

                        He was a very clever man -- much cleverer

                        than you.   He kept his head !


CHORUS :                (to More) In the event -- will you defend him ?

                        We don't know where Morton is !


MORE :                  In the event of his choice -- then I will consider.

                        But first -- the charges, Master Chorus.   I must

                        regard the weaknesses -- if any -- of your case.  

                        (to Henry VII) If I am to advise you -- and this may

                        be the last advice you may get...   Be silent !


CHORUS :                Henry Richmond, you stand charged of the most

                        heinous crimes...    Rebellion, Regicide,



HENRY VII :             But that's the history of England !   You'll never

                        get a conviction from my peers on those charges !  

                        Never !


CHORUS :                You were brought up at the French Court -- amongst

                        people who had no cause to love England -- who

                        remembered the shame of defeat at Agincourt,

                        Poitiers, Crécy...


HENRY VII :             Shame ?   French William the Conqueror won a very

                        lovely little battle -- in 1066.   No case -- no

                        shame !


MORE :                  (to Henry VII) I must advise you again -- be silent.


CHORUS :                We will say that you saw your opportunity -- the

                        main chance -- aross the Channel.   If you could

                        marry Elizabeth of York -- get rid of the remaining

                        Yorkist males such as Richard III and his two

                        nephews -- one day, with care -- you could become

                        King of England !   On the first charge -- you stand

                        accused of invading England with a horde of French

                        mercenaries and raising a rebellion in Wales in

                        order to usurp the English Throne !


HENRY VII :             Richard was the usurper, not I !

                        I came to free England from the Usurper --

                        and I did.   All my friends said so !


CHORUS :                Do you have any comment, Master More ?


MORE :                  (to Chorus) Your case is based on undoubted

                        historical fact, I take it ?


CHORUS :                Of course !


MORE :                  Then I will ask you to proceed.

                        (to Henry) Richmond, it is my considered opinion

                        that unless you are silent from now on, History may

                        condemn you out of hand.


CHORUS :                Through your agents, and before you arrived in

                        England, you hinted that King Richard the Third had

                        murdered, or might have murdered, his two nephews.  

                        Nothing detailed, of course -- just hints, in order

                        to justify your usurpation of the English Throne --

                        the title of which, Parliament, the Lords, and the

                        people, had given to Richard of Gloucester,

                        thereafter King Richard the Third of England.


MORE :                  In this case, your subsequent conjecture is based on

                        fact -- or on assumed fact ?


CHORUS :                You will know, Master More -- that men had indeed

                        made the allegation regarding the murders -- no

                        longer a hint -- in the French Parliament !   The

                        allegation was made as though it was undeniable fact !

                        However -- we will show that the French had no

                        first-hand knowledge or proof, whatsoever.   And we

                        will further say that this was the basis of your own

                        statement -- many years later -- that 'men really say'

                        and 'it is for truth reported' in your book.  

                        We never suggested that you might lie !   We are

                        saying only that you did not give us your source --

                        we will return to this later !


MORE :                  I have already pointed out that it is not possible

                        to include every small detail -- in one small book !


HENRY VII :             What is this all about ?   I never said anything in

                        the French Parliament !   I might have mentioned my

                        suspicions in the French Court, or to my friends.  

                        That was quite innocent.  Can't a man talk to his

                        friends ?


CHORUS :                We will say that King Richard III was blackwashed

                        during his lifetime, with your full knowledge and

                        consent -- probably at your direct instruction.

                        We will also say that you wanted Richard to produce

                        the two princes because he had hidden then away, for

                        their own protection -- from you !

                        You wanted your hands on them because they also

                        stood in your way.   But you had a problem, didn't

                        you ?   The princes were in your way to the Throne,

                        but you could not kill them -- not as long as their

                        Mother was alive !


HENRY VII :             It's a lie.   Richard killed them !


CHORUS :                Why -- if that were true -- do you tell us this now ?

                        Why did you not openly state this, at the time ?

                        In fact -- you said nothing whatsoever about Edward

                        Vth and Richard, duke of York -- not even to an

                        intimidated Parliament when you claimed the Throne

                        -- 'By Conquest'.   It was a perfect opportunity for

                        you to justify your usurpation -- and to present

                        their Mother in order to CORROBORATE your story.  

                        But you didn't, did you ?   And neither did she. 

                        You couldn't !   Yes, true monster -- you could not

                        kill the princes -- but you openly allowed them to

                        be killed-off by your plan of deception -- hinting

                        that Richard had done away with them -- to account

                        for their disappearance.   Virtually, you banished

                        them !   Your usurpation and collusion gave birth

                        to the cover-up and to the most serious and central

                        political problem in England in the 16th century --

                        the secret battle between the Legal heirs and the

                        Rightful Heirs !   And your son, the obsessive Henry

                        VIII, spawned the even more dreadful religious

                        problems -- with the Divorce !


(Enter Henry VIII)


HENRY VIII :            No one dares speak to me in such a way !   I know

                        your kind !   You join those who oppose the Lawful

                        King of England -- the Noble Majesty of the Tudor

                        Succession.   Especially -- the Vatican !   Corrupt

                        supporters of the Yorkist faction !   Never was seen

                        such corruption in one place !   The Borgias ruled

                        the world -- in Vice and Venality !   I knew exactly

                        what they were ! 

                        But still as good a Catholic prince as ever was -- I

                        always changed alliances -- even to my dis-service

                        -- with France, with Spain -- always to stay on the

                        side of the Vatican -- and when I wanted a favour in

                        return...   Those hypocrites !

                        (to Chorus) You are a traitor to this land !   The

                        penalty is death !   And you are so consigned !


CHORUS :                No Sire.   You are surely mistaken in your view.  

                        There is a witness...


HENRY VIII :            What witness ?   You say there is a witness.  

                        Produce him and both your heads are forfeit !

                        He'd better be good.   I want to see your bowels --

                        and the backs of your eyes !   And his, for good

                        measure !


CHORUS :                Yes, indeed there is a witness -- one whom you knew

                        well -- Hans Holbein, your Court Painter -- and good

                        friend to More here.


HENRY VIII :            Who ?   You mean the German -- Holbein ?   He ?  

                        Creeping and crawling around my palaces -- each

                        sitter for his paintings, a captive audience...

                        Gossip !   Yes, that's it.   He bad-mouths me.

                        He repeats Court gossip.   Valueless !


CHORUS :                No Sire, he repeats fact.


HENRY VIII :            What fact ?   He has no fact.


CHORUS :                Oh, indeed Sire, he has.   In fact -- he gives us

                        the cover-names under which the two princes lived.


HENRY VIII :            More ill-will !


CHORUS :                In fact -- he tells us that the elder prince lived

                        under the cover name of SIR EDWARD GUILDFORD

                        -- and that you gave him the position of Royal Standard

                        Bearer at your Court.

                        You were supporting him financially, were you not ?


HENRY VIII :            Certainly not !


CHORUS :                But the payments are recorded in your Royal Accounts

                        over a substantial period of time.   Administered by

                        Sir Richard and Sir Henry Guildford -- his notional

                        father and brother !

                        Additionally, the witness will say that when the

                        younger prince grew to a man -- that he was living

                        in More's house in Chelsea at the same time as the

                        painter, Holbein.

                        And that some, but not all of More's family, and

                        many others -- knew his real identity -- here and

                        abroad.   His cover-name was JOHN CLEMENT

                        When he grew up -- he became a Doctor of Medicine.


HENRY VIII :            Never heard of him !


CHORUS :                But you appointed him royal physician -- later

                        President of the Royal College of Physicians --

                        and you did not know him ?   Your own personally

                        appointed and approved President of the Royal

                        College ?


HENRY VIII :            Royals don't become Doctors !


CHORUS :                Apparently, this one did.   That is to say, your

                        Uncle did !


HENRY VIII :            We employ Doctors, we don't become Doctors !


CHORUS :                Probably with the encouragement of Thomas, here --

                        Richard followed his true interests -- became a

                        great scholar and a Doctor.


HENRY VIII :            Show me proof -- Proof, Man.   Not this nonsense !


CHORUS :                In 1529, you ordered him to attend Cardinal Wolsey

                        -- when he was languishing at Esher.


HENRY VIII :            Now prove -- that John Clement, was Richard duke of

                        York !


CHORUS :                Without opening his coffin -- this may prove rather

                        difficult.   You see -- not unexpectedly, those who

                        wished to conceal his former existence -- removed

                        all the documentary evidence containing his



HENRY VIII :            You fail in your case.   You have no proof !


CHORUS :                In fact -- your own Royal College of Physicians can

                        produce documents, or copies of documents, signed by

                        every president of the college since its inception

                        -- except in the case of President John Clement.  

                        In fact -- your royal college has portraits of every

                        president - from first to last -- except in the case

                        of President John Clement.  Furthermore -- there are

                        no recorded ancestors of President John Clement !


HENRY VIII :            Negative evidence !   And you expect to make a case

                        on that ?


CHORUS :                Negative evidence is fundamentally positive evidence

                        -- and many a good man has been hanged for less !

                        But, the witness -- do you wish to hear more of what

                        he says ?


HENRY VIII :            No, leave me.


CHORUS :                May I beg one moment more ?   He says, probably

                        repeating Thomas here, that you became "obsessive".


HENRY VIII :            Obsessive -- Me ?


CHORUS :                Yes -- because your children were dying.

                        As you know, your enemies said it was a divine

                        punishment.   God's visitation upon the son --

                        for the Sins of the Father.   The Usurpation...


HENRY VIII :            Nonsense !


CHORUS :                The witness observes -- quite cleverly -- based on

                        the evidence -- that there was probably a

                        detrimental genetic factor in your father's family

                        -- and it passed to you -- which resulted in some

                        nine fetal fatalities with Katherine -- some two

                        more with Anne Boleyn -- and the perinatal death of

                        Jane Seymour.  Only three surviving children over a

                        substantial period of time -- some thirty-eight

                        years.   Three more wives -- no children.   Do you

                        remember how your brother Arthur suddenly died ?  

                        And your son, Edward VI ?   And your natural son,

                        Harry Fitzroy ?   All died about the same age, young

                        men -- aged about sixteen years.  The only surviving

                        fetuses of yours were female, later childless --

                        Mary and Elizabeth -- and this is significant

                        genetically -- or as Holbein puts it 'an impediment

                        of the loins'.


HENRY VIII :            Silence, you pup -- this is private grief.

                        Katherine's family knew well of fetal fatalities.


CHORUS :                Yes, Holbein knew this too.   He also understood

                        that your obsessiveness was with re-marriage -- not

                        simply wilful divorce.

                        You hoped that the undoubted impediment was in them

                        -- your wives -- and not in you -- is that not so ?


HENRY VIII :            I only wanted -- as any man might want -- healthy

                        children from the woman I respected -- and loved --

                        as my wife.   Not one fatality after another.  Can

                        you understand the anguish ?   Can you ?   Never,

                        unless it happens to you.   It is true I changed

                        wives -- but not as people said.  I was only doing

                        what any healthy man might do -- and I was a King!  

                        Who must be survived !   I had the Blood Royal in

                        my veins !   If it was an attempt to escape from

                        the Almighty Hand of God -- then I was refused, and

                        failed.   Instead, I had to live with frustration

                        and depression.   In the end -- I did not know of

                        whom I was more afraid -- God, or Man.   I never

                        knew a moment of real contentment thereafter.  

                        Nobody will ever understand...


CHORUS :                Not so, Sire.   His Holiness the Pope knows this sad

                        story -- and the evidence.   It is my firm belief

                        that all has been understood in the Vatican -- and



HENRY VIII :            Forgiven, Damn you !

                        What do you mean 'All is forgiven' ?


CHORUS :                Come, Sire.   Remember -- Obsessiveness ?


(Exeunt Henry VII and Henry VIII)


                        (to More) Sir Thomas, have you found the passage in

                        the text concerning the alleged murder of the two

                        princes ?


MORE :                  Yes.   Shall I read it ?


CHORUS :                Please do.


MORE :                  'For Sir James Tyrrel devised

                        That they should be murdered in their beds.

                        To the execution thereof he appointed Miles Forest,

                        One of the four that kept them,

                        A Fellow fleshed in murder before time.

                        To him he joined one John Dighton,

                        his own horsekeeper,

                        A big, broad, square, strong, knave.

                        Then all the other being removed from them,

                        This Miles Forest and John Dighton,

                        About midnight, the innocent children lying in their


                        Came into the chamber,

                        And suddenly lapped them up among the clothes --

                        So bewrapped them and entangled them --

                        Keeping down by force --

                        The featherbed and pillows --

                        Hard into their mouths --

                        That within a while --

                        Smothered and stifled, their breath failing --

                        They gave up to God their innocent souls --

                        Into the Joys of Heaven.

                        Leaving to the tormentors, their bodies --

                        Dead in the Bed.


CHORUS :                Very 'self-indulgent', Thomas ?

                        But it wasn't true, was it ?   It couldn't be true.

                        Not, if you had one of the princes living in your

                        home -- thirty years later ?

                        The book was a blind -- wasn't it, Thomas ?

                        To lay down a smokescreen over the continued

                        existence of those two princes !











CHORUS :                And now -- to form the knot complete, we take

                        two standing parts of toughest natural fibre.

                        The most famous intellectual in Henry the Eighth's

                        Tudor England -- and the greatest name in English

                        playwriting in the reign of Henry's daughter,

                        Elizabeth.   Sir Thomas More was the prominent

                        upholder of the traditional catholic faith in

                        England -- which had lasted some nine hundred years

                        until the king's divorce.   And we will tell how

                        Shakespeare's father courted conflict with the

                        authorities -- and was punished -- when catholic

                        tracts were found hidden in the roof of his house

                        before Shakespeare came to London.  

                        If this is true -- then what does this suggest ?  

                        Did religion join these two -- so dis-similar in

                        status -- in a Sealed Knot ?   We shall see for

                        ourselves. Come forth, you two great minds.


(Enter Thomas More and William Shakespeare.)


                        Sir Thomas, you did not know that your house-guest

                        would leave the true story in a secret method of

                        communication -- a painter's codeform -- for

                        posterity ?


(As no direct question was asked, More is silent.)


SHAKESPEARE :           (to More) You once tried to save your life --

                        and sadly failed -- on a legal maxim 'qui tacit

                        consentire' -- 'who remains silent, appears to

                        consent'.   It was insufficient.   Do you wish

                        to remain silent now ?   We surely have no need

                        to speak.   We can protest, in a grave silence.


MORE :                  (to Shakespeare) No, I can speak -- but not in



SHAKESPEARE :           (to More) Be careful, More.   This Chorus knows

                        too much for comfort.   I dread what he may say.

                        We do not know why he is doing this.   Surely,

                        it is safest to deny everything ?


MORE :                  (to Shakespeare) I neither deny, nor condemn, nor

                        seek to justify my actions -- nor the actions of

                        anyone else.   All -- even Master Chorus -- is from

                        God.  And if the Devil himself were this man -- and

                        if his case were good and just -- then will he have

                        the Judgement of this Court -- and mine !

                        (to Chorus) If asked -- then would I say, that

                        'twould be foolish to deny so strong a case as you

                        have brought -- whether true or false.   When I was

                        toward the Law -- I might have counselled, better to

                        plead Compassion to the Jury -- Mercy from the

                        Judge.  For in Heaven, not on Earth, is the Sublime

                        Court.  And true judgement is in Heaven.  May I take

                        it, then -- that you do not wish to cross-examine ?


CHORUS :                A general statement to the Court would surely be

                        listened to -- to which, you may agree -- they are

                        surely entitled ?


MORE :                  Thank you, Master Chorus.   For, as you may know --

                        I abhor the blast of mens' mouths -- no less in

                        myself than in others --and there is truth in what

                        you say.  I did allow myself to be involved in

                        matters of princes and prelates.   I might have

                        demurred.   I might have remained a scholar, perhaps

                        a writer -- a humble profession -- for truly humble

                        people.   I had my Faith, my Reason, and true

                        friends.   But, it was not to be.   My destiny

                        decreed I should be forced, under pain of

                        disinheritance -- to the Law, by my Father.   And

                        then came I to Courts and Embassies, the very

                        nurture-ground of secrecy and lies -- and grave

                        deceptions -- and could not stay untouched.   My

                        life, no longer tranquil, served my Kings -- all of

                        them.   The King's Good Servant.   I thought how

                        kings might rule in peace -- I wrote the book

                        UTOPIA.   I wanted Man to know, however realistic

                        he may be, there is no progress without idealism,

                        and I touched lightly on this in a book of fantasy. 

                        But Man wants more and more -- to feed his greed --

                        even of ideas.   This greed of Man is subtle,

                        dangerous -- the cause of untold misery and strife,

                        directly related to War.  And without ideas, would

                        there be any War ?  Without greed, wanting more,

                        would there be any stupidity ?   The man who

                        understands -- truly understands without resistance 

                        -- this man is content, and concentrates his energy

                        elsewhere.   On how to make a better plough -- a

                        better harvest -- a warmer house -- a safer bridge

                        -- a beautiful garden -- a place quietly to thank

                        God for this Understanding -- which is eternal --

                        not of Time.

                        But this is not what you want to hear.  You want to

                        know of John Clement, of whom an informant says, was

                        Richard, Duke of York -- his real identity, and why

                        I wrote another book.   To this I must decline reply

                        -- if I am not obliged.   And if one day you find

                        the evidence, which clearly you must seek --

                        remember then, that More said nothing to dissuade

                        you, nor convince you -- allowing all, with great

                        encouragement -- to think for themselves...


SHAKESPEARE :           By Our Lady, More !   You are lost.   And who will

                        protect me now ?   Denial was the best for both of

                        us.   Now, I am lost too.   We both stand open to

                        the charge -- of having falsified history !


MORE :                  And have you falsified history ?


SHAKESPEARE :           I need professional advice.   Can we speak alone ?


MORE :                  Master Chorus, my friend requires professional

                        assistance -- and wishes to ask an opinion of me

                        in private.  Will you leave us for a time ?


CHORUS :                Of course !


(Chorus moves to the further part of the stage)


MORE :                  Before you put your question, there is something

                        I must say.   When Master Chorus returns -- I do not

                        wish to hear from him any question to which I do not

                        already know the full answer -- from you !


SHAKESPEARE :           I understand.   The fact is, Thomas -- I did falsify

                        history, many times.    And there is something more,

                        I hardly know how to tell you -- but, there was a

                        writers' blacklist.   Although under my name -- and

                        they agreed it should be so -- others helped in the

                        writing of the plays.   They had to earn a living.


MORE :                  In Law -- there is a difference between 'telling a

                        lie' and 'repeating a lie'.


SHAKESPEARE :           Between us, we may have done both.   What is the

                        penalty ?


MORE :                  Calm yourself !


SHAKESPEARE :           How can I be calm ?   I knew enough oppression in my

                        life to leave me uncalm for ever.   I grew up with

                        it -- something you did not know.


MORE :                  Not know oppression ?   With three step-mothers ?


SHAKESPEARE :           Thomas, do not mock.

                        I once wrote something in your honour -- the play

                        SIR THOMAS MORE -- again, I received some help.  

                        The manuscript was heavily censored -- the play

                        suppressed -- I could not let it appear under my

                        name -- or any name.

                        I put into your mouth the words :

                        "Alas, alas -- say now the King as he is Clement..."

                        ...and how and where he might be banished.


MORE :                  And Clement was banished -- I see.


SHAKESPEARE :           I said more -- the censor struck it through.

                        "Leave out...", he warned.   "At your peril", quoth

                        he.   I was unsure.   I had no status.   The danger

                        politic surrounded me.


MORE :                  Your play SIR THOMAS MORE did me great honour, I

                        take it -- under an oppressive regime -- at no

                        little risk to yourself ?   Is this true ?


SHAKESPEARE :           I over-stepped the mark -- from impassioned

                        knowledge.   But it wasn't just you and Clement...  

                        The witness will say that Sir Edward Guildford was a

                        notional person -- one who only apparently exists --

                        whose real identity was Edward Vth -- elder brother

                        to Clement.   And Guildford's grandson -- the

                        womaniser Leicester -- was courting Elizabeth Ist.  

                        Do you see, Thomas ?   Leicester was Edward Vth's

                        grandson !  The Rightful Heir was courting the Legal

                        Heir !   Any charge implicating me in knowledge

                        of the true identity of either implicates me in

                        knowledge of both.  Do you see now why I was in

                        Peril ?


MORE :                  but this has nothing to do directly with the play

                        SIR THOMAS MORE.


SHAKESPEARE :           Not directly -- but now I was a possible subversive

                        -- like the others on the blacklist.   The plays

                        were under my name.   The plays were seen as Yorkist

                        propaganda.   A Yorkist is a Catholic, Thomas !   Do

                        you see ?   The threat hung over me...


MORE :                  How did you learn of me ?


SHAKESPEARE :           Everyone knew you, Dear More.

                        I learned more -- from my patron Wriothesley, Earl

                        of Southampton.   He told me his wife's aunt was

                        married to your grandson.   I knew your "Workes" --

                        and like you -- I loved the written word -- written

                        to be spoke aloud.   My heart and mind -- like many

                        others before and since -- were riven in two.   No

                        one dared speak a true thought from fear of death. 

                        I was overtly this and covertly that.   Allegories

                        -- the only way under oppressive regimes -- were

                        the means for the writer -- as they always have

                        been.   Amongst my audiences were Men and Women

                        whose families had suffered from oppression.  They

                        would understand.  The others -- many in positions

                        about the court -- would listen to the words -- the

                        superficial symbols of the play -- but were not in

                        the heart of the play -- they had no heart.


MORE :                  Mayhap, it was as well.   The political enigma --

                        had they realised -- would surely have destroyed

                        the aesthetic beauty, the wit, and all those other

                        things which gladden.  Posterity would not have

                        thanked you, Master Shakespeare.  The case is clear.  

                        You will claim that what you did -- all of it -- was

                        done under duress -- from fear for your life...


SHAKESPEARE :           Thomas More -- is that my defence !


MORE :                  At the same time -- it is interesting to observe

                        that collusion amongst the Royal Families may have

                        been commonplace -- almost a conventional way of

                        behaviour...   And thus, what becomes

                        'falsification of history' ?   Will Master Chorus

                        seek to charge the messenger-boy for any bad news he

                        may bring ?   If so -- in truth, our pockets will

                        soon be turned inside out !


SHAKESPEARE :           Dear More -- all History gravely charges us with the

                        responsibility of a true account.


MORE :                  Then -- tend to your charge, Master Shakespeare !

                        But, think of this...   How would you explain that

                        not one set of twins can be found recorded in all

                        the royal genealogies of Europe ?   Twin-births can

                        be predicted, we know -- from simple observation.  

                        At least one in every hundred births.   One, in a

                        hundred.   Ten, in a thousand.   One hundred, in ten

                        thousand.   Do you wish to follow the argument ?  

                        Not one random set of royal twins -- in many, many

                        thousands of births ?   And who, precisely who, has

                        been hurt by this ?   Was it you -- or me ?


SHAKESPEARE :           No !   Queens, Mothers !

                        But the wound was self-inflicted, was it not ?


MORE :                  If self-inflicted -- then call the Doctor !   Call

                        the priest !   But do not call the Lawyer !   It is

                        not a crime to hide one's child under another name

                        -- for its protection !


SHAKESPEARE :           But if History does not report it ?


MORE :                  Then History must question, always question -- and

                        question again.   Has a crime been committed ?   If

                        so -- then, what crime ?   If not -- then, we must

                        leave each man to himself, and to God !   History

                        must write what it will -- the Test of Truth is Time !


SHAKESPEARE :           "Thus must we seek.   Unlikely that we'll find.

                        Secret thoughts abound, when Power pervades the


                        Forgive me, Thomas...   I always rhymed a couplet

                        whenever I wanted to go off to matters new !  

                        Are we ready now ?


MORE :                  Of course, brave Man !

                        (to Chorus) Master Chorus, we have kept you

                        overlong.   I must apologise.   We have a full

                        and complete answer to the charges.

                        (to Shakespeare)

                        "If our Defence be Faultless,

                        And Faultless be no Sin --

                        Will Master Chorus charge me --

                        For a Twin ?"


SHAKESPEARE :           Master Chorus, you charge us with 'falsification

                        of history'.   Now let us see your version of the

                        events !


CHORUS :                Very well !



("The Collusion Scene")


(Enter Queen Elizabeth Woodville)


WOODVILLE :             I sit and wait -- in peril and alone,

                        Mind and Patience spent.

                        Brothers and sisters, nobly wed,

                        On whom I laid much store,

                        No more are seen.

                        They bad me well !

                        Make some arrangement for us all...

                        Be politic, quoth they.   Convenient.

                        They seek to keep what they have got.

                        And what they got, I gave !

                        Even the memory of thoughtless days of benefit

                        To this position of non-benefit,

                        Now is gone.

                        All.   All, is gone.

                        And even Hope which springs unbidden

                        In the heart of every living soul,

                        Deserts me now.   No expectations.

                        And thus I know me dead to all things,

                        'Cept Understanding.

                        From some deep source untapp'd

                        Which 'til this moment new,

                        This last insight remains --

                        To overwhelm me.

                        A Deadly Shade envelops up a Throne.

                        Thus making dark conditions of its own,

                        Engulfs the Sun with Darkness.

                        Not black-bearded pard

                        Extending his domains,

                        For lack of water

                        Or of hunger's pains.

                        But more the hair-less crab

                        Who sideways, tip-toe, picks his stealthy way

                        From under rocks.   And, scuttles !

                        Oh, Monstrous Claw ! --

                        To leave its Mother's womb in haste,

                        Who was a child herself too young

                        To bear the child she bore.

                        Froward in his beginning,

                        Who hid abroad in Foreign Courts for years

                        To lie in wait for prey,

                        And meantime pleased his specious wiles and ways

                        In manner not unknown, by self promotion.

                        Masking thus the hunger in his narrowed eyes

                        For what lay tempting him outside his reach

                        Across a slip of water !

                        And now with French assistance in his wake,

                        And traitors here all listening for his call,

                        Although he holds a Mighty Realm in Thrall,

                        The Tudor walks a tight-rope.   Make it break ?

                        Resist, and bring him down

                        Into the hands of Yorkists ?

                        Who then may banish me ?   Neville over Woodville ?

                        Or will my wit prevail against the Tudor ?

                        Always dealt I better with a Man !

                        To make my child a Queen !

                        And thus protect my sons

                        And me, from Neville harassment ?

                        Must a tight-rope prop be the part I play ?

                        No, Richmond ! --

                        Will I say unto his crawling gait.

                        Neither shalt thou scavenge, nor shall quest

                        Upon the flesh of any child of mine !

                        I will protect my children with a Wall of Fire.

                        A vixen in her lair

                        Ne'er so bold and fearless --

                        To take offence and lash it back with scorn.

                        And such will be my thunder in this space

                        That I will burst asunder his hard shell,

                        That harnessed carapace, into powd'ry dust !

                        And thus will risk my Life in this

                        My own dark Mother-Devil's lust !

                        Oh, children mine -- stay hidden in the shade,

                        In deeper shadow still --

                        Until I hear the Monster and his Will !


(Enter Henry VII)


HENRY VII :             Dear Cousin -- how came things

                        To such a pass that I should now hold England

                        As did once your noble, now departed Lord ?


WOODVILLE :             Enough -- a widow's easy prey for predators.

                        What is it you want ?


HENRY VII :             Dear Madam -- be not so alarmed !

                        I am no predator.

                        I come to greet, to speak of things

                        Of mutual benefit.


WOODVILLE :             To your benefit is what you mean.

                        I am no foolish girl, make plain your wishes.

                        I would have done

                        With you, and them !


HENRY VII :             Nay, Madame -- 'Tis not so easy done.

                        There is much to discuss --

                        Of mutual benefit...

                        Will you not sit ?



WOODVILLE :             A chair before I fall ?

                        His axe is barely hid beneath the straw withal.


HENRY VII :             Dear Mother of my Intended Bride,

                        You do mistake my presence here today.

                        I am but come to seek the hand

                        Of your Elizabeth,

                        Honourably, in marriage.

                        No suitor was more humble,

                        Or afraid.


WOODVILLE :             Afraid of what ?

                        That I might refuse

                        Commands of a king ?

                        Go to, you bore me !


HENRY VII :             Dear Madame -- I must apologise.

                        'Twas not my wish to bore you.

                        Indeed, it is my wish

                        To marry your child.


WOODVILLE :             Small relief ! I hardly thought

                        You might intend

                        To marry me !


HENRY VII :             Dear Lady -- already widowed twice,

                        The blood of kings lies in your daughter,

                        Not in you.


WOODVILLE :             And also in my sons !


HENRY VII :             Ah, yes -- your sons.   How are they ?

                        But, of course, I must tell you.

                        They are too young to rule,

                        Being in minority.   That is,

                        Under age, I mean.


WOODVILLE :             (defiant) You will not find them !


HENRY VII :             Oh, Madame -- it grieves me truly

                        To contradict,

                        But I have them...   Safe and Sound.


WOODVILLE :             I want them here.   Now.   With me !


HENRY VII :             And so they shall, soon.

                        But let us speak of marriage first,

                        The joining of the noble House

                        Of Lancaster with York.


WOODVILLE :             The noble house of York

                        Means naught to me !

                        Husband and his brother apart --

                        The rest sought to destroy me !


HENRY VII :             And you, them.   Is that not so, Madame ?

                        Did you not wish your several Woodville siblings

                        Into the foremost families

                        Of the most noble Lords of England ?

                        They are now rich and powerful.

                        Long may they remain so...


WOODVILLE :             I understand.

                        But first before all else,

                        I want my sons, both here -- at once.

                        Or you can pack, together with your marriage plans,

                        And go.

                        My daughter will never marry you.

                        You will have to kill us all.

                        And if you are so bold, be sure

                        Your reign will be but short --

                        Your Fate, certain.



HENRY VII :             Dear Madame -- you do

                        Misunderstand me.

                        Your sons are here -- and now.

                        I had them brought especially.

                        They are without.


WOODVILLE :             (aside) Without, he thinks, the glimmer of a hope !

                        Send them to me.


(Enter Edward Vth and Richard, Duke of York)


HENRY VII :             Hello, boys.   Would you like a sweetie !

                        Your Mother and I are talking

                        About your future,

                        We are going to be -- brothers-in-law !

                        I am going to marry your sister...


EDWARD V :              And what about my Throne ?


HENRY VII :             (aside) A real little Woodville...

                        Your Throne ?

                        Now, which Throne is that ?


EDWARD V :              My Throne -- the Throne of England.

                        I am the Rightful Heir.


HENRY VII :             And I am the Legal Heir, dear boy.


EDWARD V :              You cannot be !


HENRY VII :             Oh, but I am !   Approved by parliament.

                        Very obliging, indeed.   Didn't you know ?


EDWARD V :              They had no choice --

                        You killed Uncle Richard !


HENRY VII :             Exactly !   I am so glad you see the position.

                        But, there is one little thing,

                        Not important really,

                        We must agree on.

                        We cannot have Rightful Heirs and Legal Heirs

                        Keeping house together.

                        Too confusing --

                        So I propose to reign

                        As Legal King of England.


EDWARD V :              Usurper !


HENRY VII :             Hush now, boy -- your Mother looks worried...

                        And you -- and your dear little brother here --

                        Richard, isn't it ? -- will go to school

                        And grow up fine men -- and I will

                        Pay for you.

                        Now, isn't that kind ?   You will have

                        Everything you need.

                        People to look after you, and more --

                        But, there is just one thing...


WOODVILLE :             One thing ?


HENRY VII :             You will have new names.


EDWARD V :              I don't want a new name.


HENRY VII :             Oh, we'll find something very pretty for you,

                        Eh, Richard (to Richard) -- You don't say much,

                        Do you, boy ?


RICHARD :               I don't want a new name either.


HENRY VII :             Oh, don't say that, boy --

                        I have just the name for you.

                        John -- after the famous Baptist,

                        The one who lost his head.

                        Now, how do you like that ?

                        And, as you live by clemence of your King,

                        We'll call you -- John Clements.


RICHARD :               I hate it !


HENRY VII :             You'll come to love it, boy -- in time.

                        Ask your Mother, now.

                        And you, Edward...


EDWARD V :              I will not have a new name, I will not --

                        I like Edward !


HENRY VII :             Hush, boy -- alright, you can keep it.

                        No fuss now.

                        And, you will live with someone

                        I will choose --

                        For your education and safety.


WOODVILLE :             Never.   He will live with someone I choose --

                        Or, nothing !


HENRY VII :             Pas devant, Madame.   Pas devant.


WOODVILLE :             He will live with whom I choose --

                        And where I choose --

                        He will at all times be close,

                        Even at Court.


HENRY VII :             Maybe, this can be arranged.   Did you have

                        Someone in mind ?


WOODVILLE :             Sir Richard Guildford,

                        Comptroller of my former Household.

                        He has children of the same age for company --

                        And I trust him.

                        There will be no backsliding on your part.

                        I want to see every sum paid to Guildford --

                        In the Royal Accounts.

                        I will not have it any other way !


HENRY VII :             So be it.   You will be taken into the family of --

                        Sir Richard Guildford, is it ? -- and, your new name

                        Will be Edward -- as I promised -- Guildford, then.

                        And, of course -- although some people at Court will

                        Know who you really are, we won't talk about it,

                        Will we ?

                        We don't want anyone else to know, do we ?

                        So you won't talk about it, either.

                        This is just to please your Mother --

                        Because, if you talked about it,

                        This would spoil our little secret, wouldn't it ?

                        Your sister will be my Queen and she will be happy.

                        Your Mother will be happy.

                        Her Family --

                        We will all be -- one happy family together,

                        Won't we, now ?


(Enter Elizabeth of York)


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And, do I have no say in this ?


(Exeunt Woodville and Princes)


HENRY VII :             No !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Are all these plans so laid

                        That I must count them blessings ?


HENRY VII :             Yes !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And if I say I will not marry thee ?

                        Then, what dost thou contemplate

                        In thy so rosy bower ?


HENRY VII :             A lovely man, your uncle --

                        And, so brave !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Thou mock'st me !

                        Now, tell me true --

                        If I refuse thee

                        Wilt thou cast me down ?


HENRY VII :             Yes !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And my Mother ?


HENRY VII :             Yes !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And my brothers ?


HENRY VII :             Oh, yes !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And thus, if I agree ?


HENRY VII :             They all live, happily !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Thou mock'st me still.

                        Of marriage shalt thou speak

                        Before a Funeral ?

                        My Uncle's body's not yet in the ground !


HENRY VII :             There'll be no funeral.

                        He fell into the river -- and was drowned, I hear.


ELIZ. OF YORK :         I, too, hear what men say.

                        His headless body thrown across a horse

                        To that wide, muddy flow

                        Upon thy order

                        Was there and then thrown in !


HENRY VII :             The Marriage, Madame !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         I have no choice !


HENRY VII :             No choice !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Thou must tread lightly, me and mine,

                        Lest at misfortune's hand thy line may break.

                        And so beside thee I agree to lie,

                        Like some sad silent ship of destiny.


HENRY VII :             And thus 'tis settled -- to mutual benefit !

                        By morning, I'll have dreamed my wildest dream

                        And deep in midst of England will have been !

                        (sings) "Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose --

                                 Shall I ever see thee red..." (exits)


(Voices off sing : "Aye, Marry that thou shall -- When thou art dead !")


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Was ever woman in such humour woo'ed ?

                        Was ever woman in such humour won ?

                        Was ever queen so rudely made

                        And thus a reign begun ?   (exit)


(Enter Chorus)


CHORUS :                And now, good company all

                        Our play draws to its end --

                        Or, is it the beginning ?


(Enter Kings and Queens, Princes, More and Shakespeare.)


                        Framed, you see the Symbols

                        Of Majesty and Power,

                        As Painters have portrayed them

                        Down the Ages.

                        Here, narrowly you have seen

                        What our playwright says of them --

                        And More.

                        But, one man yet is missing,

                        He was not here tonight.

                        His cryptic information

                        Played upon a stage of canvas,

                        Remains yet to be heard --

                        The painter, Holbein.

                        And yet, it does not matter.

                        Leave those who want to, slight

                        The broad sweep of his story

                        Which you have seen tonight.

                        For you it is to judge the case

                        And Shakespeare's debt to More --

                        And, whether two such fertile minds

                        Were ever seen before.

                        Whether, bonded by a common faith,

                        Oppression was the spur

                        That drove one on to martyrdom --

                        The other, to infer


                        Of mens' minds,

                        Where greed and high cupidity

                        Brought chaos to the innocent,

                        Kings' folly and stupidity.

                        Oft couched in merry banter --

                        And hinting as he wept,

                        Overtly and covertly,

                        The master pays his debt.










Jack Leslau






(Enter Elizabeth of York)


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And do I have no say in this ?

                        Are all these plans so laid

                        That I must count them Blessings ?

                        What gross injustice must I suffer yet

                        That having suffered,

                        Still might yet be more

                        Than I do suffer now ?

                        This monstrous calumny upon my Life !


(Woodville hurriedly takes the princes from the stage)


HENRY VII :             My Fairest Rose, play not the Fool --

                        This is no time to be sensible !

                        And be not so dismayed !

                        My Love for thee could never thus

                        By Passion be allayed.

                        Soften with thy glance,

                        The hardness of my Heavy Heart

                        Filled with Sorrow all about

                        In unremitting pain,

                        'Til thou relieve me with a warmer glow

                        In Sunny Marriage !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Thou mocks me still !

                        Of Marriage shall thou speak

                        Before a funeral ?

                        My Uncle's body's not yet in the ground.


HENRY VII :             A Lovely Man -- and Brave !

                        There'll be no funeral.

                        He fell into the river --

                        And was drowned, I hear !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         I too hear what men say, which grieves me sore.

                        His headless body thrown across a horse

                        To that wide muddy flow

                        Upon thy order

                        Was there and then thrown in !

                        And now without a thought for one who loved

                        And loves him still,

                        My Father dead,

                        So soon his brother dies,

                        Who by his Will

                        Provision made for me.

                        This gown that now I wear,

                        It was from him,

                        His gift, his loving care.

                        'Twill be his shroud.

                        This heart with no unseemly haste

                        Will never let his memory die and waste

                        In muddy, crabby hole

                        Upon a river bed.

                        Redeem his soul, and thou must pay !

                        Now tell me true...

                        If I refuse thee

                        Will thou cast me down ?


HENRY VII :             Yes !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And, my Mother ?


HENRY VII :             Yes !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And, my brothers ?


HENRY VII :             Yes !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And thus if I agree, Dear Life !

                        To be thy Mounting Stool ?


HENRY VII :             The answer then is, No !

                        They all live happy, merry through the years.

                        No thought of hard displeasure then might fall

                        From their Kind Liege Lord's eyes.

                        How else might Life be dry from weeping tears

                        Without a wife as politic as thou ?

                        My Dearest !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         (to Henry) Please leave me for a moment

                        I must have time to think !


HENRY VII :             Such thinking politic delights me.

                        And when you're ready, call.

                        I won't be far away, my Love.

                        You see -- you're looking much more

                        Cheerful, already ! (exit Henry)






Jack Leslau



(cf. the "wooing & spitting" scene in Shakepeare's Richard III)

An Actors’ Workshop by students from LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art)

identified Shakespeare’s Richard III and Anne Neville as Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, the more likely characterisations of the history.



(Enter Elizabeth of York)


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And do I have no say in this ?

                        Are all these plans so laid

                        That I must count them Blessings ?

                        What gross injustice must I suffer yet

                        That having suffered,

                        Still might yet be more

                        Than I do suffer now ?

                        This monstrous calumny upon my Life !


(Woodville hurriedly takes the princes from the stage)


HENRY VII :             My Fairest Rose, play not the Fool --

                        This is no time to be sensible !

                        And be not so dismayed !

                        My Love for thee could never thus

                        By Passion be allayed.

                        When Passion meets its Master

                        Then Love must be obeyed !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         With un-believing eyes and deep-offended mind

                        Thou art from me cast off to save me from Confusion

                        By thy Master !

                        Hast thou no shame.


HENRY VII :             Be not in this hot judgement

                        So concerned.

                        A candle burned

                        Is then no more a candle.

                        Be politic with Love !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         The first time that we meet thou speak'st of Love

                        When in thy Heart a creeping vine of Hate

                        Binds up my noble Country !

                        Return unto the Master, the First Lord of Mis-Rule,

                        For art thou not Usurper ?

                        To him go play the Fool -- and not to me !


HENRY VII :             Keep burning with thy Heat !

                        How much and well 'twill warm me

                        On a Winter's night !

                        Oh, no -- my dearest flower of the Sun !

                        Everything I did

                        I did for thee.

                        Loved I thy image first

                        When three years since I first declared that Love

                        And never once -- could change my mind.


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Thou dream't for sure

                        And in thy lusting dreams

                        Thou saw'st thee catch a maid with sullen schemes

                        As thou hast laid before my Mother here !

                        Sodd'n with Power, Sick with Foolish Pride ;

                        And thus a Tudor seeks to win a Bride ?


HENRY VII :             My Softest Thoughts and Mind,

                        Which now thou layest down so low,

                        To which I offer too my Heart

                        And All my Soul

                        That thou might'st raise them up again

                        Unto thy Bosom !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Be still.   My words of flowering youth

                        Must now be gone.   And thus de-flowered,

                        In tone un-maidenly and plain

                        I state my mind out loud...

                        Declare thou play'st a Tudor game

                        Of such repugnant worth

                        That 'tis an insult for thy gain,

                        Given and Taken !

                        'Be politic,' quoth thou

                        And that I shall.

                        I am so politic that never shall thou see

                        The House of York in humble attitude...


HENRY VII :             To me ?   I just killed one !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And no more killing will there be !

                        About or of this House.

                        If that be politic

                        For guarantee

                        My pre-condition's thus...

                        Thy Crown still hangs 'twixt "May" and "Might"...


HENRY VII :             I found it on the May !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Thou found'st it on a Hawthorn bush.

                        Thou mocks before me still.

                        But understand this most of all

                        That I must raise my Mother

                        Now cast down,

                        My brothers and my family,

                        For thee to keep thy Crown !

                        Who walks the tight-rope strives

                        But then may slip.

                        Seek not to fill a fuller cup

                        Lest brimming o'er thy hasty thirst

                        May dash it from thy lip

                        And thou might'st perish !

                        And, if I say -- I will not marry thee ?

                        Then what dost thou contemplate

                        In thy so rosy bower ?


 HENRY VII :            That I'll be forced to kill

                        The one who loves thee well,

                        The most in all the World.

                        No thought so ill !

                        Not thou, my sweetest flower of England !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Kill me, thou think'st -- and all of mine ?


HENRY VII :             No, Dearest Heart,

                        That never could I do !

                        For I need thee like moonbeams

                        To soften with thy glance

                        The Hardness of my Heavy Heart

                        Filled with Sorrow all about

                        In unremitting pain

                        ‘Til thou relieve me with a warmer glow

                        In Sunny marriage !


ELIZ.OF YORK :          Thou mocks me still !

                        Of marriage shall thou speak

                        Before a funeral ?

                        My Uncle’s body’s not yet in the ground !


HENRY VII :             A Lovely Man – and Brave !

                        There’ll be no funeral.                  

He fell into the river – and was drowned, I hear !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         I too hear what men say

                        Which grieves me sore.

                        His headless body thrown across a horse                    

                        To that wide muddy flow

                        Upon thy order

                        Was then and there thrown in !

                        And now without a thought for niece who loved

                        And loves him still,

                        My Father dead, so soon his brother dies,

                        Who by his Will

                        Provision made for me.

                        This gown that now I wear it was from him,

                        His gift, his loving care. ‘Twill be his shroud.

                        This heart with unseemly haste

                        Will never let his memory die and waste

                        In muddy, crabby hole

                        Upon a river bed.

                        Redeem his soul, and thou must pay !

                        Now tell me true. If I refuse thee --

                        Will thou cast me down ?


HENRY VII :             Yes !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And my Mother ?


HENRY VII :             Yes !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And my Brothers ?


HENRY VII :             Yes !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         And thus if I agree, Dear Life !

                        To be thy mounting stool ?


HENRY VII :             The answer then is, No !

                        They all loive happy, merry through the years.

                        No thought of hard displeasure then might fall

                        From their Kind Liege Lord’s eyes.

                        How else might Life be dry from weeping tears

                        Without a wife so politic as thou ?

                        My Dearest !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Please leave me for a moment –

                        I must have time to think !


HENRY VII :             Such thinking politic delights me.

                        And when you’re ready, Call.

                        I won’t be far away, My Love.

                        You see – you’re looking much more

                        Cheerful, already !


ELIZ. OF YORK :         What blessings left that I have here alive

                        That I should fear to die,

                        'Cept for my brothers !

                        These alone I love -- and must defend them.

                        If he would hear 'My Liege Lord', said by me,

                        As simple trusted wife, most openly,

                        Then must he likewise seek a Mighty Lord

                        And leave behind his Dark, Infernal, Strife,

                        Back to Light of Reason and of Life !

                        For now --

                        My Mother holds him up who seeks to cast her down.

                        And as a silent propping-post, agree 

                        To wear the blackest gown of silence.

                        No one must learn true Fate of her two sons.

                        To this she'll swear with yet more solemn vow

                        To save them from my suitor !

                        But never will she say from Life they're sent

                        Or they are dead, or how,

                        To hide their lowly banishment !

                        But if my Mother's gambit down he fling,

                        No longer then his hostage shall I be.

                        No more, no silent bargain, guarantee

                        For my Dear brothers' good behaviour towards he !

                        And I will not be mated by the King !

                        But then he'll kill them !

                        Enough, the game appals.

                        But if to me suspicious death befalls

                        And long before my time ?

                        With passionate conviction to condemn

                        Would they not seek the one who banished them,

                        From Love they had for me,

                        Until they had him dead --

                        A bloody victory !

                        Yet more the vision chills.

                        Such expectation of the mind begets new ills,

                        To draw me down to where speak devils all.

                        Take heed, thy brothers' lives, they call --

                        Their ship may sink, their horse may fall,

                        Or they be taken to a Tower cell.

                        How will they fend ?

                        Or, if he dream again with fevered head

                        That I might lie within a bed with one

                        Who is my brothers' murderer !!!

                        Such could never mend.

                        And yet they must be saved.

                        Thus Fate alone doth tightly compass all,

                        And he who walks alone ; alone, may fall.

                        Or, I support him. Tie the other end.

                        Careful lest the rope unduly bend

                        Around my brothers.

                        To let them fall to where I know me now.

                        Yet who can die who is already dead ?

                        What can bleed when all such blood is fled ?

                        To live with him who made this devilish maze,

                        A sad reminder of World's sadder days,

                        Must be God's Will.

                        No mortal mind can read His mighty board

                        Whereon is played His Mystery of Life.

                        Come hither, Tudor --

                        Learn from me, if thou wilt have a Wife !


(Enter Henry VII)


                        (to Henry) Thou must tread lightly me and mine,

                        Lest at Misfortune's hand thy Line may break !

                        Until beside thee I agree to lie,

                        Like some sad silent ship of destiny.


HENRY VII :             Will'st think of England -- or, of Wales ?

                        Which union please thee more ?

                        (hastily) But I prefer -- of Lancaster

                        And York.   The Roses, I adore.

                        So much prettier than Dragons !

                        And thus, 'tis settled ?


ELIZ. OF YORK :         No !   There'll be proper mourning space

                        For my dear uncle you cut down.

                        No use to seek his body more about,

                        Thou hast destroyed it by thy word alone.

                        And now must wait for that in penance time

                        And thus in memory of that worthy head,

                        Which also lies in some dark place unfound,

                        Upon a field of battle,

                        With men in rusting harnesses,

                        Cut down by Treasonable Promises

                        If thou should wear the Crown

                        Instead of him...

                        This last I wish and will --

                        And with insistence make.

                        There'll be no early marriage.


HENRY VII :             Thy will is so considered

                        And with care,

                        The Whitest Rose in England thus may share

                        My Throne --

                        Upon conditions made by her

                        And gently put to me.

                        A small delay is all thou ask ?

                        Thy promise thou will keep ?

                        Then all is well.

                        My problems now foreseen, by morning

                        Will I dream my wildest dream,

                        And deep in midst of England will have been !


(Elizabeth of York sits on the Throne ; defiant, dignified and defeated.)


                        (sings) "Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose,

                        Shall I ever see thee red..." (exit)

                        (voices off) "Aye, Marry that thou shalt,

                        When thou art dead..." (the round fades).


ELIZ. OF YORK :         Was ever woman in such humour woo'ed ?

                        Was ever woman in such humour, Won ?

                        Was ever Queen so rudely made

                        And thus a Reign begun ? (exit)




© Jack Leslau 1985







¶ who was Hans Holbein?


I had wanted to write about the Princes in the Tower for a very long time. Apart from the mystery itself, which was totally absorbing, there was a strong personal reason that might interest you. At school, my history teacher had described the story told by Thomas More. I had felt there was something wrong, I wasn’t sure what it was, but there was surely something wrong. The master lost his temper when I said I could not accept More’s version of the story. I was told to sit down and learn it. Deeply hurt by my ignorance, I had failed to realise that More could not possibly have witnessed the murderers and murders he so relentlessly pursues and graphically describes because he was only six years old in 1483.


Many years later I had the very great pleasure of meeting many fellow researchers who agreed with me that no lawyer would risk his reputation unless there was some absolutely compelling reason. We needed hard evidence dug from the bedrock of the case. Similarly, what the master had not realised was that a trained lawyer, Thomas More, was repeating valueless hearsay evidence from a previous century and risking his hard won reputation as a serious person.  What was going on?


It has been a wonderful but sometimes desperately complex task from the time of my school days in wartime Britain, until I retired to complete the work full time. I seemed inevitably drawn back to the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and to the remarkable characters that filled the historical canvas. In a curious way I came to feel truly sorry for my history teacher. He had been fooled in a game played by professionals. To-day I am grateful for his outburst, which provided me with the necessary kick start. Some may say it is too late for a probably thoroughly poisonous little boy to apologise for his bad behaviour – my master died many years ago -- but I believe that nothing happens by chance, it is all cause and effect, and the good that may come from it is not always apparent at the time.


Much excellent research has been done in recent years as a result of my discovery of the so-called Holbein Codes. No one was more amazed than myself by the personal and political information left for posterity by the court painter to Henry VIII, Hans Holbein the Younger. Inevitably, the most recent researches of others have led some to revise some of the conclusions published in earlier books. Many were astonished to discover such a mass of new information casting new light on the real reasons that demolished the old theories. At the same time, no one seems to have noticed several hundred anomalies in the portraits of Holbein’s famous sitters. No one wrote them down and made any comment in half a millennium. No author of any book systematically tested the anomalies as the elements of a cryptosystem. So what is the dreadful significance of this fissionable material that explodes in every possible direction at once? The writers are perhaps most astonished that the new theories, which stand Tudor history on its head, are testable by science. For the present, you can read about it here in FAQs for Youngsters and Oldsters. And don’t forget where you saw it first.


Not only is this project my life work and very dear to me but, if you are sensitive to this sort of thing, I hope I describe and make clear the cryptosystem and the selected decrypts that may bring to life the true history of the Tudors. Nonetheless, please remember it is only an outline abstracted from more than one million words written to-date and there is more to come.


To coincide with the new Web site, I will be giving a series of lectures and look forward to seeing you at the events scheduled: always a great pleasure to meet the fellow enthusiast. As usual, my talks are illustrated with pictures. There will be many opportunities for discussion.


One talk that I give is on the detective work and it occurs to me that you might be interested in this also. A researcher of the old school may follow up hearsay evidence that might appear significant to the author of the book in his or her hands at the time. A word of warning to these men and women: no matter how well an author may think he or she has researched a book, there is no end to discovery. Someone may soon bring this vital fact to attention, perhaps with one more “new “piece of hard evidence that overturns a previous theory. Similarly, anyone who is unfamiliar with the new methods can have a quick glance if they click on Frequently Asked Questions èThe on-going method of inquiryèNegative Intelligence Evaluation theory (NIET).


Just to prove that my interest in good methods began at an early age, I wrote this poem The Rumour on 28 November 1947 when I was a pupil at West Buckland School, and together with two other set titles: The Wheel (27 July 1947) and The Blackbird (13 October 1947), was awarded the Professor John Murray prize for poetry.


‘Twas whispered in Heaven; ‘twas muttered in Hell.

It echoed around like a bell in a well.

It caught you in sleeping, in waking, in lying;

It even arrested the flight of the dying.

‘Twas chewed on by many;

Some lacking endeavour

The truth from the fiction are unable to sever.

Like so many parrots on drawing room perches,

Heedless that somebody’s good name it smirches

Or causes embarrassment…

They’re all the same.

It’s really another who’s truly to blame.

A person unthoughtful, forgive not his part

Of giving the damnable rumour its start.

Of this kind of person, there are none too few,

Who dote on such scandal.

Now, could it be you?



Even the Nike in my forehead attracts younger people today. It has always been there. The Greek nike sign (√) is the sign of victory or ‘the victor’. English-speakers call it a ‘tick’. Not everyone knows that! Nike helped me overcome many difficulties early in life and to be confident in the face of very great and sometimes seemingly impossible odds. Self-taught, I studied methods for more than thirty years. The discovery of the Holbein Codes was not made before I had completed that study. Before that time, the discovery was not made. And if you want a safe and simple reason why I was the first person to find and decrypt a code form literally hanging on the wall for nearly five centuries – that will do. 


Finally, if there are detailed queries, I answer them in the appropriate categories and sub-categories at the Web site. Sometimes someone writes querying something that required a visit to a great library or museum a quarter of a century ago or even earlier. Be assured, the notes are in my computer. Your comments are always greatly valued and if I may answer them with humour and a merry tale or two from my own biographical memoirs, I take ALL your questions seriously.


To conclude this newsletter, I want to extend greetings to all those readers who take the trouble to send Emails. I appreciate your comments and answer all of them.


With every good wish, 


Jack  Leslau







Hi Guys!


This month I want to have a look at a famous Holbein painting The Ambassadors in the National Gallery London. After a hundred years in public ownership and on public view, it is one of the most puzzling, filled with an array of objects that have intrigued observers worldwide: the broken lute string, the globe showing the coast of a recently discovered America, instruments for measuring star declination in time, a ready reckoner and calculator, books and musical instruments. The most intriguing object is the distorted skull in the foreground.  One former Keeper of the National Gallery, Ralph Wornum, described the mysterious object as ‘like the bones of some fish’. (R. N. Wornum. Some Account of the Life and Works of Holbein, London, 1867, p. 276) This is slightly troubling. If you want to visit an art gallery with me -- Click à Talking Pictures.






At the kind invitation of the Richard III Society, the next talk in the UK -- HOLBEIN AND THE DISCREET REBUS -- is at 2.00 pm on Saturday, 11 August 2001, at the Art Workers Guild, Queen’s Square, London W1. London Branch and all other Society members are invited. There will be a Question & Answer session. Since no study centre can make progress without HOLBEINARTWORKS 090900CD, ISBN 90-76056-04-8, entitled SIR THOMAS MORE AND HIS FAMILY, there will be signed CDs on sale at A SPECIALLY DISCOUNTED and REDUCED cheapest possible price, £7.50. For those wishing to attend the lecture who are not members, and who may want to become members, please contact The Secretary, Richard III Society, at elizabeth.nokes@ris.gb.com





WHO was Thomas MORE?



#43 "Who was Thomas More?"


Thomas More was a Londoner, born more than five hundred years ago, he went to school in London, St Anthony's. There was another school called St Paul's School (it still exists today) and the boys used to call each other rude names. The boys of St Anthony's were called "Saint Anthony's Pigs" (because St Anthony always went around followed by a pig) and the boys of St Paul's were called "Paul's Pigeons" (because there were always pigeons flying around St Paul's Cathedral) and they still do today! Anyway, the Pigs and the Pigeons used to argue and fight and caused so much trouble they had to be punished. Believe it or not, the story still is told that the boys used to argue in LATIN! And since there were very few books in those days, the children had often to sit on the floor around the master who had the only book and can you imagine how long it took to write down each word on a slate? Anyway, when Thomas was about twelve years old his father arranged for him to live in the house of the king's friend where Thomas had to behave himself and to learn good manners. Thomas used to wait at table and he must have been quick to learn and well-liked since the king's friend said of him 'This child here waiting at the table, whosoever shall live to see it, will prove a marvelous man'. Now, that child did indeed become a marvelous man and we still talk about what he did for his family, his friends and for his country. I'll tell you more next time.



#44 "Why did the boys speak Latin?"


The language of the scholars in those days was Latin. And if you learned to speak Latin it was a passport to status, economic rewards and a rather more pleasant life than for the majority of people. You may not be at all surprised that when I was at school our Latin master was known to conduct an entire lesson in Latin. When he entered the classroom, we all stood and greeted him in Latin: "Salves, Magister" ('Greetings, Master'). To which he replied: "Salves, Canes" ('Greetings, Dogs'). And from then on he might decide to speak English or Latin, calling us by our Latin names, and I only wish I had paid more attention since I had to re-learn the language late in life in order to continue my studies. Believe it or not, the boys would also occasionally revert to Latin instead of English and they were not trying to show off. You might hear "Ego!" instead of "Me!" when someone held up a book and shouted "Quis?", meaning "Who [wants it]?" Thomas More needed Latin to study Law. And since More wrote in Latin, to communicate with scholars who did not speak English, I needed Latin to study Thomas More.



#45 "What was your Latin name?"


I was not given a Latin name and I was very glad about that since our Latin master had an odd sense of humour. He called one boy 'Varus', which means 'knock-knees' and even though the guy grew up to be a fine athlete, the name stuck. He called another boy 'Cloaca' meaning 'a drain'. The boy’s real name was ‘Adrian’. He once called me 'Laus', which means 'praise', which was the closest he could get to my name, but I really didn't deserve it and he never called me by that name again. Quite right too!



#46 "What happened to Thomas More?"


I think he was having a ball living in the house of the king's friend for about two years, meeting the nobles and courtiers and even the king and queen when they visited. He turned out to be a bit of a "show-off", sometimes stepping in among the professional actors on stage during a play and making some sort of improbable excuse which was highly amusing and not always appreciated by the actors (which the audience thought was part of the play but it wasn’t, it was young Thomas More having fun!). Thomas was about 14 years old when the king's friend decided Thomas would benefit from a university education. The friend paid for him to attend Christchurch College at Oxford. Once more, Thomas got into trouble. This time it was because he wanted to study Greek with his friends, and his father did not like the idea of his son studying the language of the pagans and all their excesses which from their pictures of naked women prancing around with goats everyone knew and could see was pure porno. His father thought Thomas liked porno, perhaps, but Thomas was learning Greek to study what the early scholars had to say about the Bible, because 1500 years earlier, Greek was the language of the scholar, not Latin, and More wanted to study the texts of the Bible in Greek (and in Hebrew!) and no-one has made better studies of the symbols of the Bible, the "meanings" as he called them. But his father hauled him out of Oxford and sent him to study Law at New Inn, in London. Poor old Thomas. More next time.



#47 "Why do you say Poor Old Thomas?"


I say Poor Old Thomas because a person can only have one destiny, and it was not Thomas More's destiny to live quietly and be a fine scholar to die in his bed. Thomas's father "forced" him to the Law, his talents made him a famous lawyer and senior law officer of the land, Lord Chancellor of England, but he died on a scaffold after an infamous trial where he was found guilty of treason, and there is remorse among lawyers to this day that a senior judge of the High Court of England allowed the death of such a man as Thomas More. One of the great English lawyers today, who won just about every prize there is to win at Oxford, and who became the Lord Chancellor, Viscount Hailsham of St. Marylebone, with Hilary Magnus concurring, spoke at the re-dedication ceremony of the beautiful portrait of Sir Thomas More and his family at Nostell, that Thomas More was gracious to the last, droll with the attendants he invited to please help him up and as for his coming down, he would attend to himself. He then put his neck on the block, the executioner took the axe hidden under the straw, aimed at More's head and chopped it off. For the record, I shared the platform that day in front of a distinguished audience with the Bishop of Leeds, the Lord Chancellor of England and Hilary Magnus of the Rhodesian High Court, at the most kind invitation of the owner of the painting, Lord St. Oswald. It was a great honour and a privilege. The meeting was filmed and broadcast nationally the same day by the BBC.



#48 "What happened to Thomas More after he left Oxford?"


He came to London but did not live in his father's house. He seems to have been undecided about his future; he lived in the Charterhouse for nearly four years, a sort of Y.M.C.A. Some say he wanted to become a priest, but he continued to study at New Inn, and New Inn is part of Lincoln's Inn, a university for lawyers. Once again his talents came to the fore. He was made a Reader, a senior lecturer, and he came more and more to the notice of the important people of the day. In one case, he acted on behalf of the Pope successfully, and obtained a judgment against the king, Henry VIII, which brought him under royal scrutiny and now there was pressure on him to enter the king's service on a permanent basis. He declined, saying if he were to represent the common people, it would not be proper for a common law lawyer to be in the king's service. I have to draw attention that there is new evidence to show that More began to meddle in royal affairs because of a promise he made to Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth of York, concerning her two brothers. It is not at all clear how her husband, Henry VII, found out but we know that Thomas had to flee for his life (to Antwerp!) to avoid the king’s fury. When Thomas couldn't be found, Henry VII locked up Thomas’s father instead in the Tower and only released him after he had paid a fine of £100. That's about £50,000 today. Can you imagine what his father had to say to Thomas when he finally re-appeared?



#49 "Why do you think More meddled in royal affairs?"


To be strictly accurate, someone else thought More meddled in royal affairs, and I am repeating it because it needs to be thoroughly tested. We want to find out if More did indeed meddle in something that did not concern him and paid for it with his life. Today, the person who made the allegation is known to have lived in More's house for two years with time and opportunity to hear and see things involving Thomas More in the most secret matters of state. The central part of this person’s claim concerns the two rightful heirs to the throne of England who had disappeared in the previous century, everyone thought they had been killed or had died, but they were alive and had grown up under false names and identities, the younger of whom had married More’s adopted daughter and was living in More’s house at the same time as the witness. If true, it means More's life was at risk because More was in the service of the son of the legal heir who had obtained the throne fraudulently and when the son rejected his wife for another woman there was a great scandal when the son married her and made her his queen when she was pregnant with his child. This was considered unacceptable behavior and many former friends of the son of the legal heir wanted an excuse to remove him from the throne and replace him with the only surviving rightful heir, More's son-in-law. You may conceivably decide the informant may have guessed that if he did not tell this story, it might never be known. Don’t worry about names and other details. You can find them in your books. We will return to this story again when I tell you about More’s friendship with the sister of the two princes, Elizabeth of York, later the wife of Henry VII. The story is based soundly on documentary evidence showing that a mysterious “Doctor Aylsworth” was summoned to see the Queen of England a few days before she died, who did not qualify at any medical school in England or Europe, who did not hang up his “By Royal Appointment” sign, and was never seen or heard of again. I believe the stranger was John Clement and the persons who smuggled him into the Tower of London were “our” Thomas More and his friend Thomas Linacre.



#50 “I visited the Tower where they have opened up the cell where Thomas More was locked up for backing the Pope against the King. Why did he do that?”


By now, you may have worked out the true story and this is just something more for you to think about for yourself. Traditional history has identified Thomas More’s cell in the Tower for 465 years and the alleged fact ‘there isn’t a shred of evidence’ to this effect today, according to Tower historian Geoffrey Parnell, naturally fails to see what is not there: that most of the official documents showing the disgraceful part played by officialdom, which includes each one of the detailed items of place and time and perhaps many other details, have been shredded. Mr. Parnell lacks imagination, perhaps even the imagination to see that the case reeks of shame in a very dirty game, played by professionals, and that Mr. Parnell needs to think again.


For instance: Thomas More was born a Catholic and remained a practicing Catholic all his life (but so did Henry VIII!). We talk glibly about it today but it is doubtful if the word ‘Protestant’ had been invented in More’s lifetime. Furthermore, since More had resigned his office of Lord Chancellor (16 May 1532), the year before Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn (Archbishop Cranmer said ‘about’ 25 January 1533) and before Elizabeth I was born (7 September 1533), two years before he was arrested (17 April 1534), the proposal that More was put to death some fifteen months later (6 July 1535) for failing to support Henry VIII in an illegal divorce (granted by Cranmer in 1534), is not clear cut and convincing. However, refusing to take an oath of allegiance to one’s king is an extremely compelling reason, which is hardly likely to be overlooked. The supposed fact that More’s son-in-law was the rightful heir to the throne was a more compelling reason for Henry to get rid of More before he could become the focus of a popular rising against him, and, while making up his mind what to do with his Uncle Clement who had, so to speak, risen from the dead to replace him if he was deposed (most people believed Clement had died in the Tower more than fifty years earlier!), he locked Clement up in the Fleet Prison from where he was released after the alleged protest of ‘many great persons’.


Lastly, I believe the clamour of Anne Boleyn wanting to get rid of More when he refused to attend her wedding to the king was what tipped the scale. More should have attended. He could have left after the ceremony and Anne Boleyn would have had to talk to the royal hand or the back of the king’s neck. Whatever! Whatever!


In conclusion, I have to draw attention that although Mr. Parnell may claim once more ‘there isn’t a shred of evidence’, the letter telling us about Clement’s imprisonment and the objections of the nobles, addressed to Master Secretary Thomas Cromwell, from the Duke of Northumberland, John Dudley, husband of Lady Jane Guildford (Edward Guildford’s daughter and Clement’s niece) is recorded in Letters & Papers, Foreign & Domestic, Henry VIII and, furthermore, there is a corroborating witness, “our” witness, Hans Holbein. OK?







#51 “Who was Hans Holbein?”


Hans Holbein was born in Augsburg, which is in Germany, and moved with his father and brother to Basel, which is in Switzerland, when he was a teenager. His father, Hans Holbein the Elder, was a famous painter of the old German School of painting, and his elder brother, Ambrosius, was also a painter. We do not hear about his mother and some people have guessed she may have been French (to explain her son’s good knowledge of that language!), but I find this explanation less likely since Basel has German-speaking and French-speaking communities to this day and until we find out more about Hans’s mother this is the more likely explanation. The family silence about Mrs. Holbein is extremely odd, you may agree, and someone, somewhere, may be able to find a compelling reason for this silence.


Hans, “our” Hans, was given work by perhaps the best printer of the day in Basel, Johannes Froben, and became a designer and book-illustrator. Since his brother was also a painter, some of Hans’s work may have been attributed to Ambrosius, and vice versa. We cannot be sure but there are new clues I am following up and will let you know the result as soon as possible.



#52 “Why did Holbein come to England?”


Holbein came to England with the recommendation of a great scholar, Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, of whom Holbein had painted a portrait, which still exists today. Erasmus wrote to his friend in England, Thomas More, telling him that Holbein needed work and could not find a job in Basel, where a civil war was raging, and could Thomas help. Thomas invited Holbein to his new house in Chelsea and later wrote back to Erasmus that Holbein was ‘a marvelous man’ and he would do his best to find some work for him. Holbein lived in More’s house for about two years and his greatest output consists of the drawings and paintings he made of Thomas More and the More family. More kept his word and when Holbein returned to his wife and children in Basel two years later (he was ordered to return by the Mayor of Basel!) he could rightly claim to be a painter of some of the most famous persons at the English Court of Henry the Eighth. Holbein tells us his wife was half-sane. In this connection, we know he left Basel four years later to return to England where he lived for the rest of his life but now his patron and friend, Thomas More, was no longer in a position of distinction and Holbein stayed at the home of More’s married daughter near London where he painted Sir Thomas More and his Family, which Thomas More never saw since he was hiding for a time in Antwerp, Holbein tells us, and when he returned he was not able to visit his family before his arrest and imprisonment in the Tower. Later, friends found employment for Holbein at Court where Henry VIII apparently overlooked Hans’s previous association with Thomas More, perhaps because Holbein painted the king in a number of magnificent portraits such as had never been seen before and have not been seen since. Holbein had to be careful about what he said secretly about the king (hidden in the portraits) because Henry spoke French and there were educated people at court who might have spotted and understood what Holbein was doing. Fortunately, the courtiers were bedazzled by the magnificence of the jewels and clothes, which interested them, and the realistic faces (which was a new invention at the time!) and overlooked the tiny details wherein Holbein had concealed his “messages for posterity” (for us!).


Holbein was a truly great painter and the clothes he designed and the cups and plates and cutlery and ornate vases made in gold and silver, down to the shoe buckles, made Henry’s court one of the most admired in Europe. This was the reason Henry paid Holbein £30 a year (less 10% tax) and gave him a workshop above the north gate and entrance to the former royal palace of Whitehall (known as “Holbein’s Gate”), until the old palace was pulled down and a new one built, Buckingham Palace, which still exists today and where the royal family live when they are in London.



#53 “Why do you think Holbein was a great artist?”


Perhaps you may have noticed that I rarely use the word ‘artist’. The reason is that the contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary, the official dictionary of the English language, provide so many possible interpretations of the word that we cannot be sure at any one moment what precisely the word means unless we put it into a context. For instance, if we start with the basic word ‘art’, is an artist a person who practices or demonstrates art, which is a circular argument leading nowhere, until we put it into context. Is an artist a person who practices and demonstrates painting and how to be a painter? If he is, then why not say so? Holbein painted pictures of people showing their features, which are known as ‘portraits’ because they show the ‘traits’ or ’features’ of the person, and this was done so skillfully that long before the invention of the camera in the late nineteenth century, the courtiers were able to recognize the features of their friends at court. Holbein was the first painter, resident in England, to practice and demonstrate realistic portraiture. This was magical and since Holbein used art to conceal his art, he was artful.


However, if you want to know if Holbein was a truly great person, let us stop, for just one minute, and examine the facts of the case. The upwardly mobile Holbein put at risk the lives of many people, whilst justifying his actions with multiple stories about his friends and acquaintances. Did he want to boast of his increased status, financial rewards and great gratification to be among famous people or did he risk his life to leave his personal and political stories for posterity? Holbein preferred the elegant women he tells us he slept with at the English court, rather than the half-crazy wife and mother of his children that he left in provincial Basel. Do we take him seriously? Despite all arguments to the contrary, the one overriding factor to be considered in a secret enterprise is the risk involved and in Holbein’s case, the risk was not merely a fine and the further risk of possible imprisonment and confiscation of property, but 100% certain death. It is only artfulness that may enable an informant to avoid the consequences of his actions and since the fate that awaited him if found out and denounced was sure, Holbein’s artfulness was great. I like to be precise, if possible, and I want to give you a definition of art, which is not to be found in the OED. It is a scientific definition.


Since the word ‘art’ can mean a variety of things and mean a variety of things to different people, it is best to leave it alone unless we mean what we say when we use the word to describe artful people. These include clever people who look at a painting and call it art. And art sells. There is no art in describing a carpenter as a carpenter, an embroiderer as an embroiderer, a painter as a painter, but describe the work of the carpenter, embroiderer and painter as art and, as already explained and made clear, the work becomes a potential means of profit to the artful.


Since we are mostly spectators on the world scene and not players, and since we are mostly uncreative and merely repetitive, and since the artful prosper, we may also be tempted to be artful. This is not dreadful but something to be aware of for there is great risk involved. We can all learn what we want to learn and be what we want to be. And when we have learned what we want to learn and are what we want to be, artfulness may magically disappear! Amen.



#54 “You did not explain the significance of the vase with the upside-down handles.”


First and foremost, I hope you like puzzles and appreciate the best puzzles, for that is what this is: one of the all time very best. Ready? The vase is an Etruscan vase. The purist may say the left hand handle is the right way up. The non-purist may say the right handle is the right way up. Sorry about that but I should have told you straight away, if you did not notice already, this Etruscan vase is upside down! The artist makes clear that we cannot say which handle is the right way up if the vase is upside down! All we can say is that one handle is upside down in relation to its companion handle! There is more.


There are hidden lines touching the head of Thomas More and there is a linguistic equivalent to what is depicted, which makes sense, relevant to known history. In French, ‘handles which are upside down in relation to one another’ is simply translated ‘anses d’envers’, which is a homophone of ‘Hans d’Anvers’ or, ‘Hans of Antwerp’. In this connection, there is one more painting by Holbein in the Royal Collection “The so-called goldsmith, Hans of Antwerp” and in the painting there is personal and political information telling us that since More’s life was at risk after his resignation as Lord Chancellor, he decided to cut his losses and run to Antwerp disguised as a Flemish goldsmith, Hans of Antwerp. Finally, the disguise was good, since he could take gold out of the country. He did not need to speak Flemish to the English boatman waiting to take him to Calais. However, a Flemish engraver recognized his face in the next century, from the painting now in the Royal collection. But that’s another story. Anyone can see what is there. You deserve a gold medal for seeing what was not there. Well Done.



#55 “You say the bones found in the Tower of London in 1674 were not the bones of the princes. Whose bones were they?”


We do not know! The bones may have been there from Roman times. Before the Romans left England they had built a stone fort on the tidal river where you could cross at low water with a horse and cart. They built it to save their soldiers from having to make a detour on their way North. I have made a sketch of The Tower based on an old drawing showing the square building in the centre where the princes are believed to have been imprisoned before they were murdered and their bones buried underneath a stone staircase in another building (now demolished) which adjoined this part of the Tower.




Jessica, aged 8, demonstrates how she thinks the princes escaped from the Tower. I think there are many thousands of theories but only one best-fit theory. I think there may be many thousands of accounts but only one true account and that true account must be told. Jessica, you have a talent – a birthday gift from God. Your obligation to God, born of Love and Gratitude, is to perfect the gift for three score and ten birthdays. There is plenty of time. OK?




Reviewed 150600

Reviewed 090900

Reviewed 010701

Last Revision 270902


Click ç“Back”



ã 2000 Holbein Foundation. All rights reserved. Terms of Use.