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Pretender who plotted against Henry VII

Pretender who plotted against Henry VII

PERKIN WARBECK (1474–99), pretender, was son of John Osbeck, controller of the town of Tournai, Flanders, and was the focus of the second – and potentially more serious – Yorkist plot to dethrone Henry VII. He was trained by John Taylor, a Yorkist agent (again at the instigation of Edward IV’s sister Margaret of Burgundy), and landed in Cork in November 1491, where he declared himself to be Richard, duke of York, younger son of Edward IV. He seems to have received the support of Maurice fitz Thomas FitzGerald, 10th earl of Desmond, but there is no indication that he received any assistance from Gerald fitz Maurice FitzGerald, 8th earl of Kildare, who despite this was replaced as deputy lieutenant when the king moved to counter the perceived threat. In March 1492, Warbeck sent letters to James IV of Scotland, and in October was invited to France by Charles VIII. He was forced to move to Burgundy after the treaty of Étaples (November 1492), but was welcomed and accepted by Margaret of Burgundy.

In November 1493, Warbeck was in Vienna at the court of Maximillian, king of the Romans, who formally recognised him as king of England in the summer of 1494. In July 1495 he sailed for England and landed at Deal, but was driven off. He then sailed for Ireland, where Desmond, Lord Barry, and the city of Cork all declared their support. He joined Desmond’s siege of Waterford but was repulsed by the deputy, Sir Edward Poynings, and retreated with Desmond. He then made his way to Scotland, probably with the aid of Uilleag Burgh of Clanricard, Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill, and Niall Ó Néill of Clandeboye, who had all declared for him. In Scotland, Warbeck was protected by James VI and married the king’s cousin, Catherine Gordon. He was proclaimed ‘Richard IV’ during a Scottish raid into England (September 1496), but found little support. In July 1497 he left Scotland with his wife and children and sailed to Cork, but again found no support. He then sailed to Cornwall, where his presence triggered an uprising. His forces besieged Exeter but retreated before the troops of Henry VII, and he was captured and brought before Henry, who was prepared to show leniency. After two attempted escapes he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and in 1499 joined Edward, earl of Warwick, in a conspiracy that was known to Henry, who ordered the execution of both. Warbeck was executed on 21 November 1499, but his wife continued to live on a pension granted by Henry.