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King Edward V did not die a prisoner in the Tower. In 1484, after a long and perilous journey to Rome, he threw himself on the mercies of a family friend, Gian Domenico Doria. Gian adopted him, telling the world he was his orphaned nephew, and a few years later, in late 1487, got him a job in the Papal Guard. And so began a long, illustrious, and entirely secret career for the boy who would be King.

Unknown artist 'Portrait of Andrea Doria and a Cat' 1559, Villa del Principe Museum, Genoa

Portrait by an unknown artist, 1559, Villa del Principe Museum, Genoa


King Edward, perforce, was a man of aliases. We saw in an earlier post, how a portrait was painted of him by Hans Holbein, in 1528, 44 years after his presumed death. Holbein told us that he used the name ‘Sir Thomas Godsalve’, and that he had a son called John – and clearly, he also had a sense of humour: ‘Godsalve, the King’ has a certain ring to it, after all.

Hans Holbein the Younger 'Sir Thomas Godsalve and his Son John' 1528

Hans Holbein the Younger ‘Sir Thomas Godsalve and his Son John’ 1528

Then, in a later post, another of his avatars was revealed, that of Sir Edward Guildford, a close friend and confidant of the young King Henry VIII. We speculated that Henry knew exactly who he was, and perceived him as no threat, since the Yorkists had lost much of their support in the country, and could no longer rely on armed support from either France or Burgundy. For family reasons, France was more inclined to the Lancastrians, and their other hope of external support in Burgundy was gone given that Henry VIII was married to the Duke of Burgundy’s aunt, Catherine of Aragon.

All that changed in the early 1530s, of course, when Henry realized that Catherine could not give him the heir he needed. He wanted to stabilize his rule and thus the Tudor future, and dumped her in favour of Anne Boleyn. Now, suddenly, Henry found he had a potential replacement close at hand, and an angry Holy Roman Emperor who would like to see Edward depose him. At this point life became very perilous for Sir Edward, and we saw in Holbein’s faint lettering that he died in 1534.

But things were not quite the way they seemed.


One morning I awoke early, beset by doubts. Was I imagining all this? Could it be that despite all the training in the neurobiology of perception, of telling the difference between camouflage and pareidolia, it was all a fantasy? I had committed my ideas for the first time to Facebook, and after the hundredth person tells you that you’re crazy, part of you begins to believe it. So… I had recently come across an unattributed late 16thC painting of King Edward V, and I thought I would check it out, and with ten times more caution and skepticism than I usually did. What would I find? Well, the first thing everyone can see is that the king is shown with orb and sceptre, and dressed in coronation robes. Which is very odd, considering that King Edward V did not have a coronation. Even odder is that he has everything else, but not a crown.

Unknown artist: 'King Edward V', late 16thC

Unknown artist: ‘King Edward V’, late 16thC

So – first – who painted it? I found, I thought, the names Rowland Lockey and Robert Tudor at the top where I would expect the artist’s name.

Rowland Lockey 'King Edward V', late 16thC

Rowland Lockey ‘King Edward V’, late 16thC: detail of top of painting.

You may have seen my posts on Lockey – he was an artist at the court of Elizabeth, inexplicably so, given that we are also told he was the son of a crossbow maker. Crossbow makers’ sons don’t become artists, and certainly not artists who at the age of only 17 are commissioned to paint an official portrait of James VI of Scotland…

Rowland Lockey 'King James VI of Scotland', 1574

Rowland Lockey ‘King James VI of Scotland’, 1574

Or, a couple of years later, Mary Queen of Scots; two members of the Guise family; the Queen’s unacknowledged sister, Bess Hardwicke; the Earl of Shrewsbury… and then, of course, the Queen herself. Crossbow makers’ sons just don’t do that.

Lockey even painted the copy of the Holbein that Leslau based his controversial views on regarding the survival of the Princes in the Tower:

Hans Holbein the Younger 'Sir Thomas More and Family' c.1527

Rowland Lockey, after Hans Holbein the Younger: ‘Sir Thomas More and Family’

And he was painting in the late 16thC, the given period for the painting. Was I imagining it, though? Was that really his signature at the top, or was I the only person in the entire world able to see the letters?

Soon after I found some more confirmatory evidence: the name ‘Edward Gylford’ and his date of death ’34’.

Rowland Lockey: 'King Edward V': detail of 'Gylford' alias and year of death, 1534.

Rowland Lockey: ‘King Edward V’: detail of ‘Gylford’ alias and year of death, 1534.

Then – I fancied, I could see ‘Symnel’, there in the ermine of his left coronation lapel, and again in tiny letters on the right edge of his robe, and yet again across his forehead. But was my mind just making it up? Click on the image below to enlarge it, and take a careful look.

Rowland Lockey 'Lambert Symnel': detail showing the name 'Symnel'

Rowland Lockey ‘Lambert Symnel’: detail showing the name ‘Symnel’

For those who may not recognize the name, Lambert Symnel (or Simnel, a name invented after the events, perhaps by Henry VII, who held him prisoner in the Tower), was a character who appeared on the stage of history in 1487, in Burgundy. Lambert Simnel claimed to be the rightful heir to the English throne – and with the support of Edward V’s aunt Margaret, dowager Duchess of Burgundy, he raised an army and sailed to Ireland with it. Reports of the events, written about a generation later are confused, and often contradictory with one another, and even on occasion with themselves. Roughly though, the following is thought to have happened: the Earl of Lincoln, Lambert Simnel’s key supporter said he was the rightful King.

There the various accounts run into trouble. The conventional Tudor version says that Lincoln claimed to have not Edward V, but Edward, son of the Duke of Clarence, and that Henry promptly produced who he said was this Edward, and rode him through the streets of London, dressed in appropriate finery, and denounced Lincoln’s lad as an imposter. Other versions say Lincoln really had Edward V. The Irish weren’t having it, though, and he gathered thousands more supporters, issued coins, and was crowned as King of England in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.The records of York, quite possibly adapted by Henry Tudor, say he was crowned as Edward VI (as he would have to be were he the Duke of Clarence’s Edward). The coins, though, just say ‘Edward’, and the reference to ‘VI’ appears nowhere but in York.

After this fanfare, whichever Edward it was then landed in Lancashire and was utterly defeated, and his army wiped out at the Battle of Stoke Field. Lambert was said to have been taken prisoner, forgiven because of his age (a boy originally called ‘John’, not ‘Lambert’ (by the herald recording the capture); and aged about 10, while the age of the boy crowned in Ireland was likely around 17). This ‘Lambert’ was put to work in Henry VII’s kitchen, and said by one of the people recording the events later as still being alive in 1534. The portrait by Lockey, though, seemed to be suggesting that the  ‘Lambert Simnel’ crowned in Ireland was in reality Edward V, and that he who was not captured afterwards, but a dupe.

For confirmation I turned to the sceptre – I guessed I would see writing there, and sure enough, from the top it spelt out ‘Symnel’ again; then RP34 (ripose in pace – RIP, 1534); then ‘Erret’ (which I didn’t recognize, but then found was Latin for ‘he/it erred’). Down the shaft it read ‘Gylford, fratello de (brother of) Richard, e reys (and kings)’… ending with ‘EV’… and then beneath, ‘R Pace’ twice more. So if Edward was this fictious ‘Symnel’, it would explain why Edward is shown in the portrait as if at his coronation, minus only the crown of England. Simnel had a coronation, minus the actual crown of England, which of course Henry VII had in his wardrobe.

Rowland Lockey 'King Edward V': detail of sceptre.

Rowland Lockey ‘King Edward V’: detail of sceptre.

But the doubt remained. Peter, I said to myself, you are capable of seeing what ever you want to see. Time for therapy…and I lifted the receiver to make a call.

Then I saw something written in big letters on his shirt. Without even needing to fill it in letter at a time, I could see ‘Lateque’… which, alas, meant absolutely nothing to me. It looked like a rubbish word, pure fantasy. Above it I could see the letters ‘Longoe’ and a strange eye-like object.

Rowland Lockey 'King Edward V': detail showing 'Longo et Lateque'

Rowland Lockey ‘King Edward V’: detail showing ‘Longo et Lateque’

I Googled it, and found an old Latin expression… ‘Longo et Latique’, meaning ‘far and wide’. The eyelike thing was a ‘T’ adapted to be able to ‘see’ into the distance – and the expression was located beside the Orb, the symbol of kingly dominion over the entire world. Far and wide across the whole world… There was no way I could have been imagining this… I had never seen the word before and didn’t know it existed. I replaced the receiver.


As my friend Dave Taylor Acred pointed out, it also neatly explains why Margaret of Burgundy would fund Edward in so expensive an endeavour – she certainly wouldn’t do it to put the crown on the head of an unrelated commoner. She wanted one of her nephews on the throne, not an imposter. She probably met with Edward, maybe in 1485, when Henry legitimized his planned wife Elizabeth (and thus Edward V), realized it was him, and whatever he was to be crowned as (the son of the Duke of Clarence or Edward V) – she would be putting the crown of England back on the head of her own blood.

Add to that the idea that the reputed age of the captive ‘Lambert Simnel’ was around ten to twelve, and no one takes a lad of that age into battle – Edward V, though, would have been 17, by some accounts more the age of the lad who was crowned in Dublin. There were others who also concluded that Simnel was Edward V, but based on other reasoning: for example, the insult made by one of Henry VII’s men sent to Margaret to protest her support for resistance against him. Warham, later Archbishop of Canterbury, accused Margaret of having ‘given birth’ to a prince of 180 months – 15 years. He was presumably referring to when she was first able to claim the throne again for her nephews, in November 1485 (when, as we said, Henry re-legitimised Edward IV’s children so he could marry his daughter Elizabeth). The only heir who was 15 at that time was Edward V, born November 1470.

How, though, could Rowland Lockey have known all this a hundred years later? Well, he was the son of the man who painted this early portrait of Henry VIII: Paris Bordone…

Paris Bordone: 'Henry VIII', 1526

Paris Bordone: ‘Henry VIII’, 1526

and Paris was Holbein’s best friend, from childhood. And quite apart from that, Lockey’s mother was Elizabeth I, born the year before she became Queen.

And so we now have a third alias for the young king. Apart from ‘Sir Thomas Godsalve’ and ‘Sir Edward Guildford’, he also took on the name fabricated by Henry VII, ‘Lambert Simnel’. But there is a disquieting thought fluttering around, unobserved and settling nowhere in our thoughts, and it is this. Edward expected all his youth to be king, only to have it snatched away from him at the last moment… and then, having braved a rebellion, a crowning and a battle to take back his crown – should we believe such a boy would be content to spend his days as a courtier in the trail of the man who he thought had usurped his throne? How would he have felt being Sir Thomas Godsalve, or Sir Edward Guildford or the former Lambert Simnel? Would it have been enough?


The key to this evanescent worry lay in an unexpected place, in the Parliamentary records of Sir Edward Guildford. It was in the year given for his death. One might think that by 1534 he was now a peril for Henry VIII, given that the Holy Roman Emperor wanted to depose him for abandoning his aunt, Catherine of Aragon… and that Henry assisted Sir Edward on his way to Heaven. But there is a problem with this, you see, because the first alias we mentioned, that of Sir Thomas Godsalve, is recorded in the records of Bokenham-Ferry, Norfolk, where he was living at the time, as having died in 1545, eleven years later. Sir Edward was dead, but Sir Thomas was still knocking around. So did Sir Edward Guildford fake his death? There’s an easy way to tell.

Much of the work here has been done by seizing snippets from paintings rather than studying every square inch of each painting. The benefit is that one can build up a broad picture of what was happening throughout several centuries. The downside is that one can make simple mistakes. Sometimes, for example, when one avatar has outlasted its usefulness, its owner would pretend to die, and be recorded as such in portraits of the time. But there was usually a caveat attached… the artist would write the word ‘menzogna’ (‘lie’) beside the date of the fake death, and to the right fill in the correct date, together with the word ‘vero’ (‘true’). And when I looked, so it was here. Lockey had added a second year of death – 1545:

Roland Lockey 'King Edward V': detail of dates of death.

Roland Lockey ‘King Edward V’: detail of dates of death.

…and the matching words were also there telling us which of the two dates was true – ‘menzogna’ 1534, and ‘vero’ 1545:

Roland Lockey 'King Edwrad V': detail showing false and true dates of death.

Roland Lockey ‘King Edward V’: detail showing false and true dates of death.

Lockey believed that Edward V died in 1545, not 1534. Seeing Sir Thomas More languishing in the Tower, Sir Edward Guildford saw he was next, and pretended to die. Then, as Sir Thomas Godsalve, he died for real in 1545.

The new year of death was a promising place to start, because it suggests there may be paintings of Edward as an old man, commemorating his death – we just need to find them. Where might they have been painted? Well, where would a devout Catholic have gone for refuge in the 1540s? I guessed either the Low Countries, or to Italy, and with that in mind I looked for portraits of old men completed in 1545 or later. I found nothing promising in the 1540s, except one which I will come back to, but the 1550s produced seven to choose from. Alas only three of these looked anything like the Edward of ‘Godsalve’ days, and all three had hazel eyes, like Sir Thomas.

Various 1550s portraits of old men.

Various 1550s portraits of old men.

But none sang out as aging versions of Holbein’s Godsalve: the nose in particular concerned me. Noses in old age do grow/droop at the tip, but could they be this different? The age looked around right for all, though, so the test would lie in what the artist said. The Jan Massys painting looked promising, because he was Flemish, and Edward would likely have retired to Mechelin or Louvain…

Another concern was that the three portraits all featured other well known personalities of the time: Andrea Doria, the great Genoese leader (1466-1560); and the powerful Cardinal Filippo Archinto (1500-1558). These were not modest, retiring names such as ‘Godsalve’ or ‘Guildford’. These two both proved to be avatars of the ex-King, but neither of these two new names seemed the least bit viable.


Let’s rule them out, then, one by one, starting with Cardinal Filippo Archinto first…

Titian:  'Cardinal Filippo Archinto', 1558.

Titian: ‘Cardinal Filippo Archinto’, 1558.

So, who was this Cardinal Archinto? He was a player of the greatest importance in Church politics of the time – Wikipedia tells the tale, if you want to check it out. Apart from that it was the highest resolution image I had, so the easiest to read… I could even see the initials on his ring: LS; and to my dismay when I lightened the backdrop and peered into the beard, I could also see references to both Edward V, Godsalve, Guildford, and again to Simnel. They were spread right across the upper part of the painting:

Titian: 'Cardinal Filippo Archinto' 1558. Detail, upper part.

Titian: ‘Cardinal Filippo Archinto’ 1558. Detail, upper part.

And again down in his lap:

Titian: 'Cardinal Filippo Archinto' 1558. Detail, lap.

Titian: ‘Cardinal Filippo Archinto’ 1558. Detail, lap.

But there was a clear problem of generations here – Archinto was born around 1500, 30 years after Edward, so couldn’t be Edward. That suggested to me that there might be a ‘papa or figlio’ lurking nearby, that I had missed, so I looked. Sure enough…

Titian: 'Cardinal Filippo Archinto', 1558: papa on chin.

Titian: ‘Cardinal Filippo Archinto’, 1558: papa on chin.

and again in his lap:

Titian: 'Cardinal Filippo Archinto', 1558: papa in lap.

Titian: ‘Cardinal Filippo Archinto’, 1558: papa in lap.

We already knew about John, born in 1497, and it could hardly be him, given his thriving medical business back home, so if this were another of Edward’s sons, then what was his name? It should be on his forehead.

Titian: 'Cardinal Filippo Archinto', 1558 - named as Thomas.

Titian: ‘Cardinal Filippo Archinto’, 1558 – named as Thomas.

And the date of birth should be near the temple. Indeed it was, Titian displayed it big and bold as a highlight, and again many times more. The date was 97, same year that John Clement was born.

Titian: 'Filippo ARchinto', 1558: Year of Birth

Titian: ‘Filippo Archinto’, 1558: Year of Birth

One wonders if his name could be a play on words? ‘R’ + ‘quinto’ (same pronunciation as ‘chinto’) which means ‘R the fifth’)? Richard had already been proclaimed as Richard the Fourth, but if so, why would he be called ‘Richard’? Unless it was because he matched Richard of York in being second in line: Richard after Edward, Thomas after John.


Thomas was John’s twin. But then came the moment of horror. I recognized the pointing finger, and the wispy material. I had seen it before, in a painting by Raphael, of Pope Julius II:

Raphael 'Pope Julius II' 1512

Raphael ‘Pope Julius II’ 1512

The Raphael portrait had a gruesome secret, telling why this formerly belligerent, Mussolini-esque character now looked so broken and sad. So I looked at the painting of Archinto, to see what the finger was pointing at, and stuck to the tip was the letter ‘C’. My blood ran cold…

Titian: 'Cardinal Filippo Archinto', 1558: 'castrato'

Titian: ‘Cardinal Filippo Archinto’, 1558: ‘castrato’

Titian said Thomas had been castrated by Henry VII. This was a very sure way to stop the line of descent, and without resorting to murder. Very Henry. Perhaps the king didn’t know about John, or the two twins had been separated, and so he escaped.

And this is perhaps why Titian painted Archinto a second time, this time in the oddest and most unique way. I have never seen a portrait done like this before or since…

Titian: 'Cardinal Filippo ARchinto', 1558, veiled version.

Titian: ‘Cardinal Filippo ARchinto’, 1558, veiled version.

Anyway, history tells us that Archinto died in 1558, and clearly the gentleman depicted here is way older than 61. Although it is designated as being a portrait of Archinto, it isn’t his likeness. So whose is it?

But the likeness is of whom? Clearly not Archinto, even though it was painted the year he died. My guess, and I can’t think of any reasonable alternatives, is that this is the 84 year old Edward V, shortly before his death. And that is another possible explanation for the veil Titian drew in front of the gentleman. Edward was forever in hiding.


Castrating someone’s son, though, was a perilous enterprise for even a king. Every horror has a twin. It demanded retribution, and that retribution duly came. There is a portrait from 1502 that tells the tale. Down in the bottom left corner is a large ‘vendetta’ symbol – a ‘V’ pierced through the middle by a sword, and written on the three arms of the symbol we find the reason for what was about to happen:

Arthur Vendetta‘Thomas’ to the left; ‘Castrato’ in the middle; and ‘Vendetta to the right’. But what form was retribution to take? The main part of the portrait tells us that too:

Arthur AssassinatoperedwardvThe person was assassinated by Edward V, by ‘Symnel’… He did it with arsenic, and he put the arsenic where? In his ‘carne’, his meat. The artist says too ‘Feci 1502’ – ‘I did it, 1502’. It would seem that Sir Henry Guildford could paint as well as exact revenge. But who was it that he had just killed, presumably while putting the finishing touches to the portrait? It was Arthur, Prince of Wales, the son and heir of Henry VII, the brother of Henry VIII:

Sir Edward Guildford 'Arthur, Prince of Wales', 1502

Sir Edward Guildford ‘Arthur, Prince of Wales’, 1502

It was by his death that Henry VIII came to the throne, and inherited Catherine of Aragon, with all the backwash that this produced through the rest of the century. This was the assassination of all assassinations. Did he have nay help? Among Arthur’s retinue at the time was Gearoid Óg FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare, the son of the Yorkist Earl of Kildare who suffered so much in the 1487 uprising. Sir Edward could have counted on him for sure. As my friend Dave said, when pointing this out to me, there were some people Henry was very unwise to have kept so close…


One, certainly, was Sir Edward Guildford, as he tells us in another portrait, dated 1509. In killing Arthur, he was just warming up – the big one was yet to come. Check out his portrait of Henry VII:

Arsenic works in many ways and destroys many human organs, not least the lungs. One common result is pulmonary oedema, which and result in a dry cough, and the production of pink frothy sputum. Henry VII was said to have died of tuberculosis, but Sir Edward says otherwise. Here’s the portrait:

Sir Edward Guildford 'Henry VII' 1509

Sir Edward Guildford ‘Henry VII’, dated bottom right as April 1509, the month Henry died. (Image enhanced, increasing the tonal contrast for better viewing of hidden text).

And this is when he got his own back…

Sir Edward Guildford 'Henry VII' date of painting

Sir Edward Guildford ‘Henry VII’ date of painting

And this is how he did it:

Sir Edwrad Guildford 'Henry VII' 1509. Declaration that he murdered Henry with Arsenic

Sir Edward Guildford ‘Henry VII’ 1509. Declaration that he murdered Henry with arsenic.

He poisoned the king to death for castrating his son… and perhaps also for stealing his throne.


Well, so much for the first portrait of the aged Edward. That led to some surprises, no? What then of the two portraits of Andrea Doria? First, the one by Jan Massys…

Jan Massys: 'Andrea Doria', 1555

Jan Massys: ‘Andrea Doria’, 1555

The words again suggest that who had really been depicted here was Edward V… it was a commemoration, perhaps, of his life and death:

Jan Massys: 'Andrea Doria', 1555. Details showing the likeness is that of Edward V.

Jan Massys: ‘Andrea Doria’, 1555. Details showing the likeness is that of Edward V.

What, though, of the image of Andrea Doria with his cat, painted in 1559? There too, the various aliases of our ex-King make their appearance, rather more brazenly here, some letters appearing with startling boldness:

Unknown artist: 'Andrea Doria, 1559

Unknown artist: ‘Andrea Doria, 1559

Obviously, the idea that Andrea Doria could have been Edward V in disguise was preposterous, and it was not at all necessary to even consider that possibility, since if Andrea had commissioned the portrait from the Flemish Jan Massys, but didn’t want to sit for him, then who would Massys have used as a model? He would have had to have depicted either himself (the most convenient person) – or someone important to him, apparently such as the ex-King. The portrait wouldn’t look much like Andrea Doria, but since the artist was famous, and all artists were notorious for doing that sort of thing, he would have accepted it anyway.


Just to confirm this was what had really happened, I wanted to find another good likeness of Andrea Doria. Naturally, in confirmation, the likeness would be quite unlike those of the others… I found a good one by Sebastiano del Piombo, painted back a generation before, in 1526.

Sebastiano del Piombo: 'Andrea Doria', 1526

Sebastiano del Piombo: ‘Andrea Doria’, 1526

The problem was that he still really looked rather like the much older gentleman in the other two portraits…

Four depictions of Edward V, compared to one of the real Andrea Doria.

Four portraits of Edward V, compared to one of the real Andrea Doria (far left).

Sebastiano had no obvious reason for depicting the much younger King Edward here, but it looked suspiciously like him. The key thing was – who did he say it was that he had depicted? It should say only ‘Andrea Doria’.

Alas though, even though it was likely a present for the famous Andrea, the artist made it perfectly clear that he was really depicting King Edward V…

Sebastiano del Piombo: 'Andrea Doria' 1526. Detail of head.

Sebastiano del Piombo: ‘Andrea Doria’ 1526. Detail of head.

The implications were really very disturbing. Indeed, they were unthinkable. I was clearly just imagining it, and I reached again for the telephone. But as I dialed something boldly peeped out at me from the ship – the one in the fake architrave beneath, the architrave that Sebastiano painted to give the portrait an illustrious base…


It was a hog, the emblem of Richard III:

Piombo 'Andrea Doria' 1526 detail of architrave.

Piombo ‘Andrea Doria’ 1526 detail of architrave.

Let me enlarge it…

Piombo 'Andrea Doria' 1526 detail of boat in the architrave.

Piombo ‘Andrea Doria’ 1526 detail of boat in the architrave.

The hog had a name. But still, I could be just fantasizing it, no? And then I saw the number ’52’ to the far right of the hull. The year of birth of Leonardo, I thought, but what on Earth would he be doing here? So I Googled ‘1452’ to see what else happened that year.

‘1452’, it said, ‘was the year Richard III was born.’

Open mouthed, I looked closer… There was a flower on the banner up near where it almost collides with the anchor. Can you see it ? A five-petaled flower? Does that suggest anything, given that it is attached to Richard’s ship?

You are right, of course…

Piombo 'Andrea Doria' 1526. Detail of 'Tudor' Banner revealing Henry's name.

Piombo ‘Andrea Doria’ 1526. Detail of ‘Tudor’ Banner revealing Henry’s name.

And there is perhaps more (although the resolution of the image is inadequate for any certainty). It is laid over the top, thereby providing very effective camouflage. The markings are consistent with a reference to the originator of the Plantagenet-Tudor dynasty, ‘Owain Tudor’, and ‘Rhys Greffet’, and outside it also perhaps again mentions the holder of the banner, the one who took the crown from Richard: Henry VII.

Piombo 'Andrea Doria' 1526. Detail of 'Tudor' Banner perhaps revealing family names.

Piombo ‘Andrea Doria’ 1526. Detail of ‘Tudor’ Banner perhaps revealing family names.

As we see, everything means something. Nothing is there for mere decoration or just to fill a space. By the same token perhaps Andrea is pointing at something for a reason? Let’s take a closer look…

Piombo: 'Andrea Doria', 1526, detail of pointing finger.

Piombo: ‘Andrea Doria’, 1526, detail of pointing finger.

If we half close our eyes and let it go a bit blurry, it’s actually easier to see the word. (Blurring disables foveal vision, and forces the brain to switch to peripheral vision, which is much better at pattern recognition). With unusual clarity it says ‘LAM’

And then, with an almost post-modern defiance of border, Piombo continues across the gap into the architrave… and confirms what all that imagery is really about… the Tudor banner seems to be punching the ‘M’ of Symnel in the side, and simultaneously blaming Richard for causing the whole debacle.

Piombo 'Andrea Doria', 1526: detail of pointing finger and architrave.

Piombo ‘Andrea Doria’, 1526: detail of pointing finger and architrave.

He is pointing at the epithet supplied him by Henry Tudor: the one he gave to the unfortunate boy he ‘captured’ after the failure of the 1487 rebellion.

In short, we have two paintings ostensibly of Andrea Doria, soldier, adventurer and Genoese patriot, painted by different people a generation apart, and both depicting him as if he were Edward V.


Is the unthinkable thinkable yet?

Did Edward V find his satisfaction in life by becoming more than an assassin in Henry’s court? Did he also become the ‘Liberator and Father’ of Genoa? Of course not, and all we need do to prove how silly that is is compare their time lines: that of Edward V and his aliases (Symnel, Guildford, and Godsalve), and that of Andrea Doria. At some point we will have the two in different parts of the world at the same time… and the unthinkable can remain unthinkable.

It’s important, so let’s be thorough. Let’s take every year, and mark it – blue for those when we have a reference in history to Edward – and green for those when Andrea makes an appearance. When both appear, but don’t necessarily conflict, we’ll mark the year both blue and green – and in those magic years when we have reference to both characters doing different things in different places at the same time, let’s mark the year bright red!

Timelines of Edward V and Andrea Doria, 1470 - 1505

Timelines of Edward V and Andrea Doria, 1470 – 1505

Alas in the first 35 years of Edward’s life we have only three years where both characters are mentioned. Before we get to them, though, perhaps to be fair we shoiuld note that in 1484, Andrea conveniently turns up the year after Edward V disappears. But in 1487, Edward is in Ireland, Scotland and England until June, when his forces are annihilated, and with Domenico’s wife pulling strings with her relative the Pope, Andrea joins the Papal Guard. We have no date for this latter event, so conspiracy theorists could argue he had time after escaping to return to Rome. Sadly then, no proof there they were two different people.

In 1493 it happens again: Sir Edward is first mentioned, being made joint Armourer to the King (with his father), Sir Richard), but he needn’t have been present for that, and even if he was, he could easily have joined the Neapolitan Guard later that year. Again, the proof eludes us. Then, while Perkin Warbeck is busy trying to get the crown, Andrea is busy working for the Duke of Milan. Well, momentarily, that is, because the French ousted him the same year, and captured the Duke in April 1500, so after that Andrea could hardly have been trailing round after him.

We know what Edward was up to in late 1501 or early 1502, because he tells us he assassinated Arthur, Prince of Wales. Clearly he got away with it. No one suspected him. Then another chance to sink the Doria avatar theory: in 1503, while being named a JP in Kent, Andrea was tied up militarily in Corsica, serving under his cousin Niccolo, and was then on board ship in the Mediterranean. Clearly he didn’t judge many cases, but 1503 still doesn’t prove that Andrea was not the missing alias of our ex-King. We are still awaiting our first red date. Let’s move on:


Timelines of Edward V and Andrea Doria, 1506 - 1529

Timelines of Edward V and Andrea Doria, 1506 – 1529

The next 24 years seemed more promising: we have 7 years in which both characters appear. Let’s take them one at a time. Apart from an appearance in Milan in 1507, and a mission to the King of France, Andrea is missing from the pages of history until 1512, and Edward seems to have spent a fair amount of time in England, killing Henry VII, and befriending his son Henry VIII. In 1512, though, Andrea helps oust the French from Genoa, and instals his friend Giano Fregoso as Doge there. Edward, though… damn! Henry had launched himself into a war with the French the previous year, and Edward is irritatingly absent from England, visiting the English castle at Guisnes, close to Calais. He could have taken time off for a trip to Genoa. Still no red date.

In 1513, Edward was sent on a trip to Savoy, and to make a large payment for services to the crown, and same year Andrea was appointed commander of the Genoese navy. Cheated again. Andrea then is thought to have spent most of the next five years fighting Barbary pirates (and doubtless building his wealth by looting Ottoman shipping). During this period, Sir Edward vanishes – somewhat embarrassingly – from the pages of history, except for being made a JP in Northamptonshire in 1514…

Anyway, in 1519, in April Andrea wound up this phase of his naval career by defeating the Turks at Pianosa, and in May Sir Edward was made Marshal of Calais by Henry VIII, and sent to France. Proof slips through our fingers again. Anyway, the appointment in Calais culminated in his attending the meeting of Henry VIII and King François of France at the Cloth of Gold in June 1520. The same year, when Edward had been busy chatting to the King of France, Andrea suddenly became a French Admiral in charge of galleys in the Mediterranean, and seized twelve from Genoa to boost his fleet. Looks rather more like a dovetailing of events, here, than a clash, so let~s move on, quickly.

Then, in 1522, Sir Edward received the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in Calais, and led campaigns against the French which earned him the nickname of ‘Firebrand’. Charles would have been pleased, because he was busy seizing Genoa from the French. Dovetail or clash. Let’s just say there’s no red box here for us either.

In September 1524 we have our nearest yet to a clash: Sir Edward was appointed Standard Bearer to Henry VIII, while in the same month Andrea relieved the siege of Marseille by Charles V, restoring French control. But there is nothing to show that Edward was present during the appointment as Standard Bearer, and the September date may just be when the documentation was signed for something agreed well before.

In 1528, we have the Holbein portrait of Sir Edward, presumably started in the spring, since it is dated as having been finished in July that year… And July was the month when Andrea changed sides from supporting François of France, and shifted allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor. July was when he set in motion his plan to seize Genoa back from François and by October he had established the city’s independence, and earned himself a place in history. No conflict there either.

Lastly, 1529: Sir Edward was elected Knight of Kent, and Andrea finished his palace at Fassolo, now being in charge of the Holy Roman Empire’s fleets. Again, no necessary conflict, and no red boxes. It is starting to feel disconcerting.

So what, then of 1530 to 1553?


Timelines of Edward V and Andrea Doria, 1530 - 1553

Timelines of Edward V and Andrea Doria, 1530 – 1553

There is not even one year when we see both appear. Again, the events from the two lives dovetail, in particular with the sudden appearance of Sir Thomas Godsalve in Bokenham-Ferry right after Andrea’s major defeat in the Mediterranean. Even more intriguing is that the records show Godsalve as having died in 1545, the same year as given by Lockey. Indeed, he died on 7th September, just two weeks after Pope Paul III appointed one of Andrea’s most bitter enemies as the powerful Duke of Parma. Clearly, if Edward and Andrea were one and the same, Lockey didn’t know.

Whatever. So far we have not a single box we can confidently colour red, and all our aliases of Edward are dead… except – perhaps – a report of a ‘Thomas Godsafe’ who appeared at Brentwood Assises in 1555 and 1556 as a juror. The name was spelt in many ways, and was unusual, but it’s hardly proof that he faked his death again in 1545, and beyond that, Sir Thomas Godsalve had vanished from the pages of history.

Edward v Doria timelines 4So – in short – we failed dismally in trying to prove that Edward did not use ‘Andrea Doria’ as one of his avatars. Indeed, we found instead a embarrassing series of dovetailing events suggesting reasons for a speedy journey from one country to another – and the concomitant changing of one’s alias. The unthinkable is now moving center stage.

To return to where we started, then, and working on the best we have available, it seems now possible that King Edward V did not die a prisoner in the Tower. In 1484, after a long and perilous journey to Rome, he threw himself on the mercies of a family friend, Gian Domenico Doria. Gian adopted him, telling the world he was his orphaned nephew Andrea, and after Edward/Andrea’s failed attempt to get the crown back, in late 1487, his ‘uncle’ got him a job in the Papal Guard.

Doria family tree showing key relationships

Doria family tree showing key relationships

And that so began a long, illustrious, and entirely unexpected career for the boy who would be King, a career that ended soon after his portrait was painted in 1559, with his very well fed cats… Yes, cats. There are two… see?


Oh, I nearly forgot. There was that one painting from the 1540s I said I would come back to. I is said to be by one of the most enigmatic artists of the 16thC. No one knows his name. No one knows even his nationality, just that he painted in England, the Low Countries and maybe even Italy. And that he painted well. The name given to him by art history is the ‘Master of the 1540s’.

Unknown artist 'Portrait of a Scholar', 1545

Master of the 1540s: ‘Portrait of a Scholar’, 1545. Left is the original painting, on the right a tonally enhanced version to better show hidden material.

The portrait is actually dated April 1545, just five months before Sir Thomas was recorded as having died:

Unknown artist 'Portrait of a Scholar', 1545. Detail to right of spectacles.

Master of the 1540s: ‘Portrait of a Scholar’, 1545. Detail to right of spectacles.

and it’s not really true that the artist is unknown, or that the subject is a scholar. We have had it in front of our noses for more than four centuries, but no one knew how to see it before. Here it is:

Lambert Symnel: 'Portrait of Edward V', April 1545

Lambert Symnel: ‘Portrait of Edward V’, April 1545. Click to enlarge. Allow several minutes for your eye to be able to pick out each letter.

The artist calls himself ‘Symnel’! And he says it is a self portrait. The Master of the 1540s was King Edward V. Want to see all our Edwards together now?

Composite of 6 portraits of Edward V

Composite of 6 portraits of Edward V

Before we finish, there’s just one more detail I ought to point out in this portrait. It’s the name that Edward wrote to go with all the other aliases, his most important one, the one he painted as coming from his very own mouth:

Edward V: 'Andrea Doria', 1545

Edward V: ‘Andrea Doria’, 1545: read it from the bottom up!