Pretenders: Perkin Warbeck

perkin-warbeck

First of all, that name just sounds like it would be a Pretender! I mean, do you get any better than that? Our dear Perkin suffered a much worse fate than his predecessor, Lambert Simnel. Unlike Lambert too there still remains the question that Perkin was not a Pretender at all. Some scholars believe that Perkin was really in fact the younger of the Princes in the Tower, Prince Richard the Duke of York. Philippa Gregory’s novels The White Queen and The White Princess agree with this theory, concluding that the widowed Elizabeth Woodville sent a servant boy to the Tower instead while smuggling her real son abroad for protection. We may never know for sure, but we do know that Perkin Warbeck put a great strain on King Henry VII’s reign. He showed up first at the court in Burgundy in 1490. He was welcomed to various other European courts as well as the Duke of York, even being recognized by Margaret of York who was the Aunt of the Princes in the Tower (the sister of the late King Edward IV). During his European tour, Perkin married a relative of King James IV of Scotland, Lady Catherine Gordon, further cementing his claim as the Duke of York (Pretenders aren’t allowed to marry the relatives of royalty after all). Things went downhill from there for him. Perkin landed at Cornwall and eventually surrendered to King Henry’s forces. He was actually allowed at Court for some time under the watchful eye of the King, but the clemency granted to Lambert Simnel would not be repeated. After attempting to escape in 1498, Perkin was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was hanged in 1499. So ended the life of a (maybe) Pretender.

Do you think that Perkin was really the Duke of York? I told you those pesky Princes in the Tower would bring trouble! 

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