Perkin Warbeck

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Perkin Warbeck, 1474?–1499, pretender to the English throne, b. Tournai. He lived in Flanders and later in Portugal and arrived in Ireland in the employ of a silk merchant in 1491. There adherents of the Yorkist party persuaded him to impersonate Richard, duke of York, the younger brother of Edward V of England. As children, the royal brothers had been imprisoned in the Tower of London and subsequently disappeared, presumably murdered. Warbeck's claim was supported by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, by James IV of Scotland, and by Margaret of Burgundy, sister of Edward IV (and thus Richard's aunt) and the chief supporter of the Yorkist exiles. Warbeck's attempt to invade England in 1495 failed, and he went to Scotland where he married Catherine Gordon, a cousin of James IV. In 1497 Warbeck landed in Cornwall, proclaimed himself Richard IV, and raised a rebel army. His forces were met by those of Henry VII at Exeter, and the pretender fled. He was captured, admitted the whole story of his adventure, and was imprisoned. In 1499 he was hanged for plotting against the king.

See biographies by J. Gairdner (in his History of the Life and Reign of Richard the Third, 1898, repr. 1969) and A. Wroe (2003).

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Warbeck, Perkin (1474–99). Warbeck was a troublesome pretender to Henry VII's crown. He claimed to be Richard, duke of York, the younger of the two princes, sons of Edward IV. He was in fact born in Tournai. When he appeared in Cork in 1491 he was taken up by a number of people who wished to embarrass Henry, including the earls of Kildare and Desmond, Charles VIII of France, and Margaret, dowager duchess of Burgundy. In 1494 he was recognized by Maximilian, Holy Roman emperor, as king of England and provided with an expeditionary force in 1495. James IV of Scotland welcomed him and gave him his cousin in marriage. In 1497 he landed in Cornwall, won some support, but failed to take Exeter or Taunton. He surrendered at Beaulieu and was spared his life on confession. In 1499, having attempted to escape from the Tower, he was hanged at Tyburn. His wife, daughter of the earl of Huntly, was treated kindly by Henry and made three further marriages.

J. A. Cannon