Perkin Warbeck

Warbeck, Perkin, 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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