Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pretender Perkin Warbeck


‘…It was probably by an appeal to this romantic cast in James's disposition that the Scottish king was prevailed on to take up the cause of Perkin Warbeck, the pretended duke of York. He received this adventurer at the court of Scotland; he permitted him to wed a near relation to the crown, the daughter of the earl of Huntley; acknowledged Perkin's claim to the kingdom of England as authentic; and supported him with an army, at the head of which he himself marched into Northumberland, expecting a general insurrection in favour of his ally. The expectations of James were entirely disappointed: no one joined with Perkin. The Scottish king gave a loose to his disappointment, and laid waste the country. Perkin affected compassion for the subjects whose allegiance he claimed, and interceded in their behalf. "You are too merciful," answered James with a sneer, " to interest yourself for a people who are tardy in acknowledging you for their sovereign." These words intimated that James felt himself engaged in a losing adventure, which he soon afterwards terminated by a truce with England.

In the previous negotiation, James firmly refused to deliver up Perkin Warbeck to Henry; but he dismissed him from his kingdom, to pursue elsewhere that series of adventures which ended with his life on the gallows at Tyburn. His unfortunate widow was honourably supported by Henry VII., and long distinguished at the English court by the title of the White Rose, from her husband's claim to be the representative of the house of York…’

England’s own Pretender, Perkin Warbeck, claimed to be Richard of Shrewsbury, a son of King Edward IV.  The supposed Richard was officially recognized by Margaret of York, Edward’s sister.  It wasn’t enough to convince a Tudor king.  Warbeck enticed James IV of Scotland to rise against England’s Henry VII, as Sir Walter Scott discusses in “The History of Scotland” (text above).  After James backed off, Warbeck incited Cornish forces to invade England on his behalf.  Henry handled the challenge with little effort, and Warbeck was captured.  Warbeck, under duress, confessed to being a fraud, and was ultimately executed; November 23rd, 1499.

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