DR JOHN ARGENTINE – PHYSICIAN TO THE PRINCES IN THE TOWER.

KINGS COLLEGE CHAPEL CAMBRIDGE 1845.jpg

King’s College Chapel.  Dr Argentine is buried in a chantry chapel on the south side close to the altar.

In Kings College Chapel, Cambridge, just south of the altar can be found the chantry chapel where Dr John Argentine, c1443–1508, Provost of Kings College from 1501 until his death in February 1507/08, physician, astronomer and collector of books, lies buried.  A fine memorial brass covering his tomb depicts Dr Argentine in his doctors robes.

image029.jpg

Dr John Argentine’s funeral brass

Dr Argentine, who spelt his name variously as Argentem or Argentein (1) was born in Bottisham, Cambridgeshire into a family that were prominent supporters of the House of York and he is remembered mostly, thanks to Dominic Mancini, as being physician to Edward V, and, it could be assumed, also physician to Edward’s younger brother, Richard of Shrewsbury.  Mancini described Dr Argentine,  Argentinus medicus,   as being among the last of those to visit Edward and Richard in the Tower of London before their mysterious disappearance around June/July 1483.  Mancini who spoke little if any English would no doubt have been mightily relieved to meet someone who having spent a long time in his homeland, could converse easily with him in either his native Italian or Latin.

Mancini is responsible for passing on the learned doctor’s recollections of those visits to the Tower i.e. that the young Edward ‘like a victim prepared for sacrifice sought remission of his sins by daily confession and penance’  in the belief that death was staring him in the face (2).   Alternatively Edward  may have been merely suffering from low spirits and angst due to the fact that his  imminent Coronation had been cancelled and the crown firmly removed from his grasp.  Tellingly Dr Argentine omitted any mention that Edward was suffering from a raging toothache which puts to bed any likelihood that the infamous urn in Westminster Abbey actually contains the bones of Edward and his brother, as the jaw bone of the oldest child shows clear signs of ‘a chronic and painful condition which led to deformities in the jaw bone  – possibly either osteitis or osteomyelitis’ (3), a horrible disease which no-one would have failed to notice, especially his doctor , but why let common sense stand in the way of a good myth – but I digress.

Dr Argentine, having served successfully under both Edward IV and Richard III went on to become physician to Henry VII’s son, Arthur, Prince of Wales and dean of the chapel of the Chapel of Windsor.   It should also be noted that  after 1485 Argentine was also presented to a ‘series of lucrative benefices, prebends, and canonries by his friends Archbishop John Morton and Bishop John Alcock of Ely as well as enjoying the fruits of royal patronage (4) .  Didn’t he do well!  We should bear  this in mind when we ask the otherwise unfathomable question why he was not asked, as far as we know, to examine that most convincing and troublesome of all the pretenders to the throne, Perkin Warbeck.

arthur c 1500.jpg

                                                Arthur, Prince of Wales c1500

If you enjoyed this post you might like:

https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/14/the-bones-in-the-urn-again-a-17th-century-hoax/

https://sparkypus.com/2020/05/14/recent-investigations-regarding-the-fate-of-the-princes-in-the-tower-by-l-e-tanner-and-william-wright-1933-2/

and his friend John Morton https://sparkypus.com/2020/07/03/cardinal-john-mortons-tomb-in-the-chapel-of-lady-undercroft-canterbury-cathedral/

1) The Library of John Argentine, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society Vo.2 (1956) pp 210-212.  Dr Argentine wrote in his own hand in several of his books..’Questo libro e mio Zouan (Giovanni) Argentein’ ‘ Questo libro e mio Johan Argentem’.

2) The usurpation of Richard III Dominic Mancini C A J Armstong p.93

3) Richard III The Maligned King Annette Carson p.219

4) Argentine, John (c. 1443–1508) Peter Murray Jones Oxford DNB

 

5 thoughts on “DR JOHN ARGENTINE – PHYSICIAN TO THE PRINCES IN THE TOWER.

  1. Absolutely right on all counts: Mancini never quoted a word from Argentine on the subject of Edward V’s physical health, nor did Mancini find out what fate befell him, which he was obviously desperate to discover. Even though Argentine was THE obvious person to ask, as you couldn’t go in and out of the Tower without bumping into a large number of people, so the good doctor would have had a number of acquaintances that he could have asked at Mancini’s prompting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. P.S. Eileen, I don’t like to make gratuitous accusations in public when I have no grounds for them, but privately I think that to ensure good behaviour HT wouldn’t have been above threatening harm to their nearest and dearest. It’s not a new suggestion that he controlled ‘Perkin Warbeck’ after capturing him by holding his wife and child(ren) hostage. And if course he made his child(ren) disappear anyway. 😦

    Like

    1. Couldnt agree more Annette. It doesnt bear thinking about the fear people would have known. The predating his reign for starters was not an auspicious start. He surrounded himself with people like Bray and Morton. I can find nothing noble about him. According to Penn – Winter King – he pleaded and prayed on his death bed if he lived he would be a different man. All too late. And then being someone who had been something of. tightwad he spent an absolute fortune on his tomb. Whats to like about Henry…nothing im afraid.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: