Perkin Warbeck

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Perkin Warbeck was a pretender to the English throne during the reign of Henry VII. He claimed to be Richard, Duke of York, younger brother to Edward IV and otherwise believed murdered by Richard III. Rumour had it, however, that he was a Fleming born in Tournai, and possibly the son of a French royal officer.

He first appeared at the court of Burgundy in 1490, and he landed in Ireland (as had Lambert Simnel, another pretender) in 1491 to press his claim. Finding little support, he returned to Europe, where he was formally recognised by Charles VIII of France, and by Edward's sister, Margaret, dowager Duchess of Burgundy. In 1493 he attended the funeral of the Holy Roman Emperor and achieved recognition by the new Emperor (in return, some said, for allowing the Emperor, Maximilian to inherit his claim to the English throne on Warbeck's death).

In 1495 he "invaded" England, was immediately defeated, fled to Ireland again, was repulsed, and fled on to Scotland, where King James IV received him and allowed him to marry the King's cousin. In the next year, having attacked England but been forced to retreat, James had to agree to disown Warbeck, who returned to Ireland, beseiged Waterford, and then then driven off again.

In 1497 Warbeck landed in Cornwall, at Whitesand Bay, believing that the local people would support him as they had recently risen in rebellion. He reached Taunton (having been declared king on Bodmin Moor) with about 6000 men, but when he heard Henry VII had sent troops to attack him, he fled and was captured. Henry received the surrender of the Cornishmen and executed the ringleaders. Warbeck was taken back, to the Tower of London, to imprisonment, alongside Edward of Warwick, a genuine claimant to Henry's throne.

They were accused of trying to escape and in November 1499 Warbeck was executed.