Post-classical history

6

Winter 1491–Autumn 1494: One of the Princes in the Tower?

‘At this time the King began again to be haunted with spirits, by the magic and curious arts of the lady Margaret, who raised up the ghost of Richard duke of York, second son to King Edward the fourth, to walk and vex the King.’

Sir Francis Bacon, The History of the Reign of King Henry VII1

Perkin Warbeck’s arrival on the scene came as a profound shock to the king, who at first wondered whether this really was one of the Princes in the Tower, returned from the dead – Edward IV’s son, the Duke of York. For at the start of his career Perkin seemed most convincing. Quoting people who had met him, the chronicler Hall says, ‘he kept such a princely countenance and so counterfeit a majesty royal that all men did firmly believe that he was extracted of the noble house and family of the Dukes of York’.2Should this be true, he was infinitely more dangerous than the Earl of Warwick – and Henry was well aware that all too many of his subjects wanted it to be true.

In 1490 there had been yet another abortive plot to rescue Warwick, by Yorkists hoping to exploit the war with France. In February the king acknowledged a letter from the Bishop of Durham reporting the capture of Sir Robert Chamberlain (a former Knight of the Body to Richard III), his two sons and a group of friends at Hartlepool, who had been trying to leave the country for France. Henry asked for ‘these rebels and traitors’ to be sent to him urgently.3

An attainder of October 1491 explains why the king was so keen to lay hands on them. Chamberlain and Richard White, a Norfolk gentleman, had planned to kill him and start a civil war: they had been financed by Charles VIII of France, the ‘ancient enemy to our said sovereign lord’. Their plot must have have hinged on a scheme to replace Henry with Warwick.4 White was charged on 23 August 1490 with engaging in conspiracy and Chamberlain on 17 January 1491, which suggests that both had been under close surveillance for some time. Sir Robert was beheaded on Tower Hill within a month of his arrest but White received a pardon as he stood on the scaffold under the hangman’s rope. (Dramatic reprieves were a feature of fifteenth-century justice, staged to show the king’s merciful nature.)

The French then decided to send an expedition to Ireland in support of Warwick. The brains behind it were those of a Yorkist exile, John Taylor – ‘the elder’ as he signed himself – a middle-aged cloth merchant and former customs officer from Devon. On 15 September 1491 Taylor wrote from Rouen to John Hayes ‘late of Tiverton, Devon’, whom he appears to have met recently during a secret visit. A priest-bureaucrat who had also been in the Duke of Clarence’s service, but was now a receiver of rents at Exeter and Dartmouth for many of the West Country’s leading landowners, Hayes had confided in Taylor that he still felt a secret loyalty to Clarence’s son Warwick.

Coloured by an exile’s nostalgia, Taylor’s letter reminded Hayes of ‘words we spake together in St Peter’s church of Exeter, and at the Black Friars when ye were at your breakfast’. Telling him how to get in touch, Taylor recommends Thomas Gale of Dartmouth:

ye may speak with him by the same token that he and I communed together at matters touching your master’s son in Stockingham Park when Sir John Halliwell hunted therin, and be you not afeared to show all your mind unto him for he is trusty … the token between you and me is that such as I shall send unto shall take you by the thumb.

(Gale was another staunch Yorkist. Once Clerk of the King’s Ships for Richard III, he had lost his job as a consequence of the new regime. Living at Dartmouth, where he had been both the MP and the mayor, he was the ideal man to help an invasion force.)

The real message of Taylor’s letter was that Charles VIII had been advised by his council to help Warwick, ‘your master’s son’. If the earl and his supporters could reach France, then King Charles would provide troops, ships and money. Those who arrived penniless would get financial assistance ‘if they be known for true men for the quarrel’. Taylor adds that help was coming from two other places outside England, by which he must mean Flanders and Ireland. It is likely he hoped to recruit his old friend because he envisaged a Yorkist expedition landing in the West Country and seizing Exeter.

After reading this exceptionally dangerous document, which reached him on 26 November, Hayes threw it into the fire, but it was saved and handed to the authorities, and he was arrested, the letter being copied in his attainder as a traitor in 1492 – the only reason for its survival.5 When the king read it, he must have smiled grimly at one sentence in particular. ‘The [French] king and his council say they will ask nothing in recompense, but … do it for the wrong he did in making Henry King of England.’ John Taylor the Elder would bitterly regret that he had ever put pen to paper.

Instead of landing in the West Country, the French went to Ireland, a mere 120 troops on board two small ships. Disguised as Englishmen, wearing surcoats with the Cross of St George and flying the English flag, they landed somewhere near Cork at the end of November 1491. Taylor, who accompanied them, quickly became aware that after the disastrous episode with Lambert Simnel there was little enthusiasm for taking up arms for Warwick – everyone knew he was locked up in the Tower of London.

Even so, Taylor’s Yorkist agent at Cork did his best to find support, encouraged by the English-speaking Irishmen’s dislike for the Tudor regime. The agent was John Atwater, a highly respected merchant who had twice been mayor of the city. He came to Taylor with a staggering proposal – to replace Warwick as pretender to the throne with the younger of the Princes of the Tower, the Duke of York. For, as if by a miracle, Atwater had discovered a doppelgänger.

In October or November 1491 the citizens of Cork had seen strolling along the front a handsome, fair-haired youth in his late teens, dressed in silken clothes, who had come ashore from a ship belonging to a Breton merchant, Pregent Meno, and was wearing his master’s clothes. He looked so distinguished that they asked him if he was the Earl of Warwick, the Duke of Clarence’s son. Seeming alarmed, in the presence of the Mayor of Cork and swearing on the Gospel and a crucifix, ‘I took mine oath as truth that I was not the foresaid Duke’s son, neither of none of his blood [no relation]’, the youth recounted long afterwards. ‘And after this came unto me an Englishman whose name was Steven Poytron, with one John Atwater, and said to me, in swearing great oaths, and said that I was King Richard’s bastard son, to whom I answered with high oaths that I were not.’

Convinced he was a Plantagenet, Atwater and Poytron told him to forget his fears. If he would fight for his rights, they would do all they could to help him. They were certain that the earls of Desmond and Kildare would do the same if it meant being revenged on the English king. ‘Against my will [they] made me to learn English and taught me what I should do and say. And after this they called me Duke of York, the second son of King Edward IV, because King Richard’s bastard son was in the hands of the King of England.’6

All this comes from Perkin Warbeck’s confession, made several years later. Although it sounds convincing enough, it should be remembered that he was desperately trying to exonerate himself from as much of the blame as possible. One cannot rule out the possibility that Atwater and Taylor had brought him to Ireland to impersonate the duke.

Taylor wrote to Maurice FitzGerald, Earl of Desmond, asking him to help the ‘Duke’ recover his throne and received an enthusiastic response. As a result, Perkin, Taylor and the French expedition – now his ‘retinue’ – stayed in Ireland for some months, almost certainly at one of the many castles of Desmond who was the great magnate in the area around Cork, ruling a huge swathe of south-western Ireland from which he took his title. Called ‘an bacagh’ (the lame) by the kern, Desmond was a cripple who had to be carried everywhere in a cart or a litter, yet he possessed the power of life and death over his people, and used it. Perkin’s stay with the earl may have been fairly nerve-racking. (At Strancally Castle on the Blackwater, the Desmonds had acquired a name for inviting enemies to dinner and then starving them to death in a dungeon before throwing their bodies into the river through a ‘murdering hole’ cut in the rock.)7

Taylor presumably spent the time with the Earl of Desmond in improving the young man’s English and instilling the background of his ‘royal’ boyhood. Perkin was an apt pupil. Bacon, although relying more on imagination than documentary sources, recaptures his extraordinary charm: ‘he had such a crafty and bewitching fashion, both to move pity and to induce belief, as was like a kind of fascination and enchantment to those that saw him or heard him.’8

It is likely that Kildare also encouraged him. Both FitzGerald earls welcomed a pretender, genuine or not, as long as he could make trouble for Henry VII. So did most Irishmen who came in contact with the boy, since nearly everyone in the Pale and the Irish seaports, and in much of the adjoining territory, remained Yorkist. The Scots were equally delighted: an entry in James IV’s accounts for 2 March 1492 records a payment to a man who brought letters from ‘King Edward’s son and the Earl of Desmond’.9 On the other hand, the Irish lords had no wish to invade England – they remembered what had happened to Sir Thomas FitzGerald and his kern at Stoke Field.

Henry’s spies had reported the Duke of York’s presence in Ireland fairly soon. Although at this stage unaware how dangerous the duke was, the king had reacted by sending a small force of troops to Dublin in December 1491 as a warning, besides releasing his Irish subjects from allegiance to Lord Deputy Kildare.10 Perkin’s principal Irish adviser John Atwater realized that the prospects of the ‘Duke of York’ in Ireland were not exactly promising.

Changing his plans, Taylor informed the French authorities that here was just the young man they needed and King Charles sent a flotilla over to Ireland to bring him back to France. Etienne Fryon, until recently Henry VII’s French secretary, was on board. According to Henry’s court poet Bernard André, Fryon, who had also been secretary to Edward IV, then spent several months in tutoring Perkin and furnishing him with details about the old Yorkist court and the Yorkist royal family, until he knew by heart the names of every member of King Edward’s household ‘as though he had known them from the days when he was a little boy’.11

In France, the ‘duke’ was received at court with full royal honours and given a retinue, together with a guard of honour commanded by an expatriate Scot, William Monypeny, Sieur de Concressault, who was an intimate friend of King Charles. He was also joined by about a hundred Yorkists. The most respectable of these were Sir George Neville, once an Esquire of the Body to Richard III who had been knighted at Stoke Field by Henry Tudor, and an outlawed Cumberland gentleman called Edward Skelton who had fought for Lincoln at Stoke. Members of the little court were told to hold themselves in readiness for an imminent invasion of England.

When the French acknowledged Warbeck, the cat was out of the bag. The fate of the young Princes in the Tower, the great mystery of the century, had stirred everybody’s imagination and the report that one of them had survived aroused widespread excitement. Vergil tells us that the story was believed not merely by all the common people in England but by many of the ruling class. Old loyalties awoke among Englishmen who outwardly seemed to have accepted the new dynasty. In 1485 men with a lot to lose had risked everything to avenge Edward IV’s children and, just as they had rebelled against King Richard, for the same reason they might rebel against King Henry.

In Hall’s fanciful prose, then ‘there began sedition to spring on every side, none otherwise than in the pleasant times of year trees are wont to bud or blossom’.12 ‘Widespread plotting started,’ says Vergil, more prosaically. ‘Many nobles got involved, some out of sheer foolhardiness.’ He stresses that it happened only after people realized the implications – if the ‘duke’ was genuine, then the king’s right to the crown was in question.13

Henry saw at once that he was in graver danger than at any time since Richard III had hacked his way towards him on Bosworth Field. In Vergil’s words, the king’s spies reported that ‘rumours about Richard, the Duke of York come back to life, were dividing all England into factions, filling people’s minds with either hope or fear, as nobody could fail to react deeply to such news. Depending on his particular temperament, everyone thought it was going to end in his own peril or profit.’14 Henry knew that unless he defused the situation there would be an upheaval which might destroy him.

He possessed one great advantage, his subjects’ dread of attainder. They had seen, over and over again, that the new king knew just how to use such a terrible weapon. An attainder put a man outside the law, banishing him from the community – until the day he died he would be hunted for his life. A popular song of the time that apparently was sung all over London at this period, The Ballad of the Nut Brown Maid, gives us some idea of what it meant to be attainted.

My destiny is for to die

A shameful death, I trow,

Or else to flee: the one must be,

None other way I know

But to withdraw as an outlaw,

And take me to my bow …

For I must to the greenwood go

Alone a banished man …

For an outlaw, this is the law,

That men him take and bind,

Without pity hanged to be,

And waver with the wind.

Significantly, the ballad attributes high rank to the hero and heroine, the man being the heir to an earldom and the girl a baron’s daughter. Even the most convinced Yorkist had reservations about joining a rising that might result in his attainder.15

Yet from the start, Henry VII suspected the ‘Duke of York’ might be a fraud. Obsessed with Margaret’s implacable enmity, he thought she must have trained the boy before he arrived in Ireland, a mistake echoed by Vergil and Bacon. Even so, for months he had to face the devastating possibility that this might indeed be one of the Princes in the Tower.

Luckily for the king, French support for the Yorkists depended on France’s foreign policy. Although Charles VIII had welcomed Perkin as a pawn in his war with England, his attitude changed when he decided he wanted a peace settlement that would leave him free to invade Italy without his kingdom being attacked by the English in his absence. As part of the Treaty of Étaples, signed on 3 November 1492, Charles gave his word not to help any rebellions against Henry. The invasion of England promised by John Taylor in his letter of the previous November was cancelled and the pretender forced to leave France.

Perkin moved to Flanders where Margaret of Burgundy welcomed the handsome, well-mannered young man and became convinced he was her nephew, although she had never met the real Duke of York. ‘So wild was her joy that it seemed to unhinge her mind,’ says Vergil. ‘Eager for everyone to see how delighted she was, she made a point of constantly congratulating her nephew in public on his escape and never stopped making him repeat the story of how, having been saved from death by a ruse, he had wandered through different countries.’16 In a letter from Margaret to Queen Isabella of Castile in August 1493, she wrote that she had recognized he was her brother’s son by unmistakeable signs, his identity being confirmed by the way he answered questions about his childhood. ‘Only too aware that he is now our family’s sole survivor after all its disasters and misfortunes, I was deeply moved and … have accepted him as an only grandson, as an only son.’17 Bacon claims that Margaret polished up Perkin’s manners, and gave him ‘the delicate title of the white rose of England’, with a bodyguard of thirty halbardiers in striped liveries of murrey (mulberry) and blue.18

Believing that a restoration was merely a matter of time, the Yorkists sent an envoy to Margaret to find out when ‘Duke Richard’ was planning to arrive in England, so that they would be ready to rise in support. The envoy was Sir Robert Clifford who crossed over to Flanders in June 1493 with his father-in-law William Barley, a gentleman from Hertfordshire. When he reached Malines, Clifford explained to Margaret what the conspirators were planning at home. Ecstatic, the duchess presented Clifford and Barley to Perkin, who impersonated Richard with his accustomed flair, after which Sir Robert reported to the Yorkist leaders in England that the young man really was the son of Edward IV.

The most important of the ‘conspirators’ mentioned by Vergil were William Stanley, the king’s chamberlain, Lord FitzWalter, steward of the royal household, Sir Gilbert Debenham, a Knight of the King’s Body, and Sir Humphrey Savage – Stanley’s brother-in-law. Clifford had set the plot in motion, recruiting these four, who formed the core of a revitalized Yorkist faction, between mid-January and mid-March 1493. Their plan was to wait for an invasion and then rise: they also meant to assassinate Henry. Meanwhile, to encourage people to rally behind the cause they spread rumours all over England that the youth at Malines was indeed Richard, Duke of York, but so discreetly that no one hearing the rumours was able to learn of their origin.19

Although King Henry’s agents alerted him that a rebellion was probably imminent, they could not discover the men who were behind it or what they had in mind, and while he himself sensed some sort of treachery among his courtiers he was unable to identify any of those involved. Expecting fresh trouble in Ireland, Henry again sent troops to Dublin. There are indications that during the summer of 1493 he also expected an invasion of England, on the same scale as Lincoln’s, if not larger. He established his headquarters at Kenilworth and sent ships to patrol the North Sea.

Sir Robert Clifford, a younger son of Thomas, Lord Clifford (a Lancastrian killed at the second battle of St Albans in 1461), had once been a devoted follower of Edward IV. He had rebelled against Richard III and had fought for Henry’s cause at Stoke where he was knighted on the field of battle. His presence at Malines, with that of Sir Gilbert Debenham from Norfolk who had arrived at the duchess’s court before him, implied there was genuinely solid support for the ‘duke’ in England – although if Margaret and her ‘nephew’ had known how Clifford had received a pardon from King Richard in return for spying, they might have given him a less enthusiastic welcome.

As soon as he was established at the White Rose’s court, Sir Robert contacted the key people behind the ‘duke’, working closely with them. One of these, of course, was John Taylor. Another was the treasurer for the ‘duke’, a humble Yorkshireman called Rowland Robinson, who had fought for Lincoln at Stoke and then escaped to Malines where he had been in Margaret’s service ever since.

In England, Henry grew more increasingly nervous. Polydore Vergil tells us he sent chosen men to guard the coast and the ports – like King Richard before him. Besides being ordered to stop anyone who looked suspicious from either entering or leaving the country, they were given powers to prevent ships from sailing. As far as possible, all roads and paths near the sea were patrolled, while the local authorities were also told to watch for assemblies of armed men who might be planning a rising.

The royal network of agents stepped up surveillance, abroad as well as at home. ‘During this time the king sent spies into Flanders, Some were instructed to pretend they had fled to the reborn Duke of York, and then find out the conspirators’ plans as well as their names. Others were to persuade Robert Clifford and William Barley to come home by offering them a pardon,’ we are told by Vergil. When the spies arrived they would have been helped by Flemish agents in Henry’s pay, who were already working undercover at Malines – some recruited from among the duchess’s courtiers.

Meanwhile, Henry’s spies in Flanders had been trying to discover whether his rival was an impostor and, if so, to track down his real origins. By the late summer of 1493 they had learned the truth, but it was a long time before their story was generally accepted, despite the king circulating it as widely as possible. Recently, the story has been questioned by Anne Wroe.20 On 20 July of that year, in a letter to Sir Gilbert Talbot, the king refers to a ‘feigned lad called Perkin Warbeck, born at Tournay’.

For the agents had discovered that the duke’s real name was Pierrequin Werbecque, a Walloon from Hainault in what is now south-eastern Belgium, who had been born at Tournai around 1474, the son of a well-to-do bargee on the River Scheldt. (This was a highly paid profession, the barges taking corn to the coast for export and bringing back the wines from Burgundy that were so popular at the ducal court.) In 1483 or 1484, ‘from Christmas unto Easter’ he had worked in the house of an English merchant at Middelburg called John Strewe, to learn his language. Later, he entered the service of Sir Edward Brampton, a Portugese Jew who had converted to Christianity and become Governor of Guernsey, but fled to Flanders after Bosworth. In 1487 Perkin accompanied Brampton’s wife on a voyage from Middelburg to Portugal, picking up useful details about the Yorkist court.21 Leaving the Bramptons, he spent a year at Lisbon, working for a one-eyed Portuguese knight called Pedro Vaez de Cogna. Then, because he wanted to see other countries, he took service with the Breton merchant Pregent Meno.

Many people wondered if this ‘official version’ of the young man’s origins might be no more than a smear campaign. His supporters pointed out that he possessed an unmistakeably regal presence, while by the time the English authorities circulated their version he had developed an extremely plausible cover story that some historians think might possibly be true. The outlines of it are in a letter he sent to Queen Isabella of Spain on 8 September 1493, the gist of which is as follows:

His elder brother, the Prince of Wales, son of King Edward, had been assassinated, He himself had been delivered to a gentleman who had orders to kill him, but who, pitying such a little child, spared him and made him swear on the sacraments to conceal his name, birth and descent for several years. After this, he sent him away under the care of two persons who were both jailors and governors. He then led a wandering life of danger and misery for nearly eight years during which his governors kept him in concealment in different parts of the world, until at last one of them died and the other returned to his own country. In consequence, he was left alone while still almost a boy. Having spent some time in Portugal, he went to Ireland where he was recognised.22

A letter from King Henry to Talbot shows the strain was beginning to tell on him. While he spoke contemptuously of his rival as a mere ‘boy’, everyone knew that at the same age Edward IV had possessed sufficient leadership to win the terrible battle of Towton, the largest ever fought on English soil. Clearly agitated, Henry angrily referred to the ‘great malice that the Lady Margaret of Burgundy continually beareth unto us’. He also mentioned an impending invasion of England by ‘certain aliens, captains of strange nations’, and asked Talbot to be prepared to bring as many troops as he can – ‘ready to come upon a day’s warning for to do us service of war’.23

During July Henry sent two of his ablest negotiators – Sir Edward Poynings and Dr William Warham, the latter Master of the Rolls and a future Archbishop of Canterbury – as ambassadors to Flanders. They lodged a formal protest with the council of Archduke Philip, the Duke of Burgundy, who was still only fifteen, at the help given to Warbeck, Dr Warham making a speech in which he went out of his way to insult Margaret of York. The council blandly insisted, however, that the Burgundian government was powerless to interfere in any way with the Duchess Margaret, who could act as she pleased in the lands of her dowry. It was all too plain that, under pressure from Philip’s father, King Maximilian, and not just from Margaret, the government of Flanders had every intention of aiding Warbeck as much as they possibly could, without actually recognizing him as king of England.

Henry reacted furiously, transferring the Merchant Adventurers’ Staple (the exclusive market for English goods, mainly cloth) from Antwerp to Calais in September 1493, forbidding Englishmen to do business with Flanders and banishing its citizens from England: Flemings were expelled and had their goods seized. It was as far as he could go without a full-scale war. Flanders retaliated with an embargo on English imports, but Henry strengthened his prohibition. This did serious damage to the Flemish economy, resulting in capitulation in 1496 and the signing of an agreement known as the Intercursus Magnus, which gave special advantages to Englishmen trading in Flanders.

Meanwhile, Warbeck was trying to find international support. In September 1493 he wrote the letter to Queen Isabella already mentioned. When it had no effect, he looked elsewhere. We know from a confidential report about the English Prior of St John,24 that an unknown correspondent informed the prior in 1493 that, after finding it impossible to sell his wares in Flanders for the price he wanted, the ‘Merchant of the Ruby’ had decided to go to the court of the King of the Romans to see if he could obtain a higher price – which meant that Warbeck had been unable to obtain enough money from Margaret for an invasion. Although keen enough, she had already lost too much in financing the Earl of Lincoln.

He then obtained an introduction to Duke Albrecht of Meissen, Duke of Saxony, the King of the Romans’ brother-in-law and principal lieutenant. In November 1493 Albrecht brought him to the Habsburg court at Vienna, where he attended the funeral of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III on 6 December and was presented to Frederick’s son, the ‘King of the Romans’ and future Emperor Maximilian I. The king welcomed the young man warmly, giving him a place in his father’s funeral cortêge.

Maximilian had been angered by Henry making peace with France, breaking the long-standing alliance between the English and the Burgundians. He felt sure his guest was telling the truth when the young man told him he bore three birthmarks on his body that were recognizable by anyone who had known the Duke of York as a child – marks that would convince even Henry Tudor. The impecunious king tried to raise money in the Tyrol (the only part of his domains under his direct rule) so that Warbeck could equip an invasion fleet, but the canny Tyrolese refused, saying it seemed to be too risky a venture.

In mid-summer 1494, taking the young man with him, Maximilian went to Flanders where he announced that this was the real king of England. Henry responded by sending the Garter King of Arms to inform Maximilian and Margaret that their protégé was the son of a merchant of Tournai. When the king and the duchess ignored him, Garter marched through the streets of Malines, shouting that his master had proof that the ‘Duke of York’ was an impostor. However, he made little impression since his heralds believed it was just the sort of trick that someone as notoriously wily as Henry would use. Maximilian’s good opinion of the ‘duke’ remained unshaken. With an invasion in mind, he ordered an enquiry into what people in England thought of the White Rose.

Maximilian might be showy, frivolous and unreliable, as well as virtually penniless, yet he was Holy Roman Emperor Elect. If he had little real power, he enjoyed enormous prestige throughout Western Europe as the theoretical Sword Temporal of Christendom. (Missals contained a bidding prayer for the Holy Roman Emperor that was said on Good Friday in all churches in every Christian country.) His recognition of the ‘Duke of York’ as king of England encouraged the Yorkists – and alarmed Henry VII.

Maximilian lost no opportunity of showing the world that he had complete faith in the ‘duke’. At the end of August, he and his son made him ride with them to hear Mass in the cathedral at Malines. In October he was invited to attend when Archduke Philip, who had now come of age, took his oath as Duke of Brabant in Antwerp’s cathedral church. Perkin was installed in the imposing Hôtel des Anglais at Antwerp (until recently the Staple’s headquarters), escorted everywhere he went by a bodyguard of English gentlemen and twenty archers, who wore the badge of the White Rose of York. A shield bearing the royal arms hung over the door, with an inscription reading, ‘The arms of Richard, Prince of Wales and Duke of York, son and heir of Edward IV, lately by the Grace of God King of England and France, Lord of Ireland.’ This provoked an angry reaction from two Englishmen (possibly agents of Henry) who threw a chamber pot at the shield. They were chased away by a furious crowd, an innocent English bystander being killed during the uproar.

Ignoring the fact that officially he was supposed to be at peace with England, Charles VIII secretly offered to lend the Yorkists a flotilla of ships so that Perkin could invade England from Flanders. Diplomatically feigning ignorance of this offer, Henry sent Richmond King of Arms to Charles in August with a polite letter, in an attempt to dissuade him. After grumbling about the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy having hired Martin Schwartz to wage war on him, Henry wrote that it was notorious that ‘the said boy [garçon] was no relation whatever to the late King Edward but a native of Tournai and the son of a boatman [batellier]’, as the king had been reliably informed by those who knew the boy as a child, as well as by some of his old friends. The king complained bitterly of Maximilian’s declared purpose of helping him to invade England.25

On All Saints’ Day (1 November), in angry response to his rival’s use of the title, the king created his younger son Duke of York. This was the future Henry VIII, still only three, who, with twenty other somewhat older aspirants, was dubbed a Knight of the Bath. During a fortnight of splendid celebrations at Westminster Palace, courtiers taking part in the jousts wore the old Yorkist colours of blue and murrey, while their chargers were caparisoned in black velvet sewn with white as well as red roses – it was a declaration to the world that the Tudors were the heirs of the House of York.26

During his negotiations with Charles VIII in August, King Henry had claimed that England was now in a better and more peaceful condition than at any time in living memory. He was about to learn that his claim was very wide of the mark indeed.

6. Winter 1491–Autumn 1492: One of the Princes in the Tower?

1. Bacon, op. cit., p. 95.

2. Hall, op. cit., p. 462.

3. LP Hen VII, op. cit., vol. I, p. 99.

4. Rot. Parl., op. cit., vol. VI, p. 455.

5. Rot. Parl., op. cit., vol. VI, p. 454.

6. Hall, op. cit., pp. 488–9.

7. J.R.O. O’Flanagan, The Blackwater in Munster, London, 1844, p. 37.

8. Bacon, op. cit., p. 105.

9. LP Hen VII, Rolls Series, 1861–3, vol. II, pp. 326–7.

10. A. Conway, Henry VII’s Relations with Scotland and Ireland 1485–98, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1932, p. 49.

11. B. André, De vita atque gestis Henrici Septimi Historia, in Memorials, p. 66.

12. Hall, op. cit., p. 464.

13. Vergil, op. cit., p. 64.

14. Ibid., p. 66.

15. Richard Arnold, Customs of London, Antwerp, 1504.

16. Vergil, op. cit., p. 64.

17. A. Morel Fatio, ‘Marguerite d’York et Perkin Warbeck’, in Mélanges d’Histoire offerts à M. Charles Belmont, Paris, Félix Alcan, 1913, pp. 411–16.

18. Bacon, op. cit., p. 102.

19. Vergil, op. cit., p. 68.

20. A. Wroe, Perkin: A Story of Deception, London, Jonathan Cape, 2003.

21. C. Roth, ‘Perkin Warbeck and his Jewish Master’, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, 9 (1922), pp. 143–62.

22. Archeologica, xxvi.

23. A.F. Pollard, The Reign of Henry VII from Contemporary Sources, 3 vols, London, Longmann, Green, & Co., 1913, vol. 1, pp. 93–5.

24. LP Hen VII, vol. II, p. 321.

25. Ibid., pp. 292–7.

26. Ibid., pp. 388–404.

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!