Who Knew Richard III – Part Three

 

DOMINIC MANCINI

Dominic Mancini was born into a well-known Roman family, the son of Alexander Mancini and Ambrosina Fabii. His date of birth is unknown, but it believed to be after 1434. He was an Augustinian friar and a scholar who wrote moral and theological works in Latin verse. Before coming to England, he had served as an agent spying on the French. Mancini came to England to work as an intelligence agent and perhaps envoy in 1482, on instructions of his patron, Angelo Cato, Archbishop of Vienne. He stayed in England until July 1483. He resided in Paris, where he wrote two religious books. He is believed to have died around 1514.

He was most likely unable to speak English and had to rely on other Italians living in London for information. One of his primary sources was Dr. John Argentine, an English physician who studied in Italy and spoke fluent Italian. Argentine was also the physician of the young Edward V.

Mancini was the author of The Usurpation of Richard III, written in December 1483. This manuscript was found in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Lille, France in1936 and was published by the English scholar Charles Armstrong.

Mancini’s credibility as a source

  • He did not know the English language or customs.

  • He did not know that monarchs reside in the Tower until coronation and in the case of the Princes, the Tower was being used as a residence and not a prison.

  • He did not name his sources, except for Dr. John Argentine, who had studied in Italy and was known to have Lancastrian sympathies. He employed such catchphrases such as “men say”, “it is being said that”, etc.

Men say that in the same will he appointed as protector of his children and realm his brother Richard duke of Gloucester, who shortly after destroyed Edward’s children and then claimed for himself the throne

.

Here he writes of the capture of both of the young princes at Stony Stratford:

Finally, the youth,…..surrendered himself to the care of his uncle, which was inevitable, ….Of the king’s attendants, or those who had come out to meet him, nearly all were ordered home. Richard, the queen’s other son, who was quite young, and but a little before had come from London to the king, was arrested with him in the same village, and with his brother, Richard was handed over to the care of guards in the same town.

Richard, Duke of York, was not at Stony Stratford but in sanctuary in London.  He joined his brother at a later date.

Mancini was in England for only three months, leaving the country right after Richard’s coronation in July 1483.

He was not present when the events he wrote about took place. His account his based upon hearsay and incorrect statements.

…after Hastings was removed, all the attendants who had waited upon the king were debarred access to him. He and his brother were withdrawn into the inner apartments of the Tower proper, and day by day began to be seen more rarely behind the bars the windows, till at length they ceased to appear altogether. A Strasbourg doctor, the last of his attendants whose services the king enjoyed, reporter that the young king, like a victim prepared for sacrifice, sought remission to his sins by daily confession and penance, because he believed that death was facing him….I have seen many men burst forth into tears and lamentations when mention was made of him after his removal from men’s sight; and already there was a suspicion that he had been done away with. Whether, however, he has been done away with {Mancini is writing in December of 1483}, and by what manner of death, so far I have no at all discovered.

Mancini was probably never a visitor to the Tower. The Garden Tower is closer to the curtain wall than the Royal Apartments. The fact that the boys were seen in the garden meant that they were not being closely supervised at all, but were within the confines of the Tower. The “Strasbourg doctor” he refers to was Dr. John Argentine, who was not from Strasbourg but was English. He does not say where the young King was when Dr. Argentine was no longer seeing him as a patient.

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Author: penbardd

I am the founder and CEO/President of The Richard III Foundation, Inc.

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