The Curious Career and Uncertain Past of Perkin Warbeck
British Heritage (March 1993)
By the time the sun set on 22nd August, 1485, Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet kings, lay dead on the grass of Bosworth Field. His brother, King Edward IV, had died, albeit less violently, two years earlier. Within two more years, the new King, Henry Tudor, cemented his hold on the throne by taking an army to Stoke Field and crushing his few remaining Yorkist enemies.
Except, perhaps, for Edward IV’s sons, the legendary Princes in the Tower. Opinions as to their fate still abound. Tudor accounts attributed their disappearance to a ruthless plot by Richard to secure the throne by murder. Later revisionists have made the same charge against Henry.
Support for these theories rests heavily on interpretations of the character of both Kings, and on their opportunity to implement such a crime. Documentary proof of either man’s guilt is unavailable, and as Sir Thomas More later observed: ‘some remain yet in doubt whether [the Princes] were . . . destroyed or no . . . all things in those days were so covertly managed, one thing pretended and another meant, that there was nothing so plainly and openly proved but that . . . men had it ever inwardly suspect.’
Among the suspicions that have persisted since More’s day is the possibility that Richard simply had the Princes sent to the Continent as a precaution against the plots of the power-hungry Lancastrians. Having done so, he would naturally become vulnerable to accusations of treachery, because he could not produce the children as proof of his innocence without putting them once again in danger.