Thursday, 14 August 2008

"Perkin Warbeck"

It is perhaps a mercy that Elizabeth did not live to see the re-appearance of her second son, Richard of York.

His uprising was less well organised and after a few skirmishes on the periphery of the kingdom he was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Once again, Henry alleged that it was an impostor and his ministry of silly names came up with "Perkin Warbeck" for this one.

Edward son of Clarence was still in the Tower, and the two young men contrived an escape plan. At this, Henry lost patience with acting magnanimously and sent "Warbeck" to the gallows. Edward, who had been detained with no charges laid against him for nearly fifteen years, was beheaded.

The "Warbeck" affair did produce one testimony to the power of conscience. The claims of Richard of York received carefully qualified support from one totally unexpected quarter: William Stanley, to whose actions at Bosworth Field Henry probably owed his crown. For daring to admit even the possibility that "Warbeck" was really Richard of York, Stanley's head was not permitted to remain attached to his body.

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