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Perkin Warbeck

Perkin Warbeck

By Ian Arthurson

History Today (September 1996)

Introduction: In June 1498 the people of London were invited to spit, jeer or gaze at a man who claimed he was the rightful king of England. He endured such humiliation twice, on the 15th and 17th, siting in the stocks on the top of a pile of empty wine pipes. Eighteen months later came the best of public entertainments, his execution. Multitudes of citizens flocked to se him hang, drawn by the puzzle of who he was.

Was he Perkin Warbeck from Tournai? Or was he instead Richard Duke of York, one of the vanished Princes in the Tower? Opinion was divided. There were those who claimed he was truly Edward IV’s son and then recognized he was just plain Perkin Warbeck. There were those who knew from the beginning that he was only Warbeck. There were those who believed fervently he was Richard IV. His own supporters were divided. Some said he was a Plantagenet. Others denied it; yet would join any anti-Tudor cause anyway.

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