Uncovering the Mystery of Perkin Warbeck by Sandra Worth

Today’s post is a guest article by Sandra Worth acclaimed author of five books chronicling the demise of the Plantagenet dynasty in England.

Sandra holds an honours B.A in Political Science and Economics from the University of Toronto and is a frequent lecturer on the Wars of the Roses.

Pale Rose of England: a novel of the Tudors by Sandra Worth

Sandra’s latest novel, Pale Rose of England: a novel of the Tudors, is a story of love and defiance during the Wars of the Roses. Here is a brief synopsis:

It is 1497. The news of the survival of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, has thundered across Europe, setting royal houses ablaze with intrigue and rocking the fledgling Tudor dynasty. Stepping finally onto English soil, Catherine arrives at the island of Saint Michael’s Mount, along with her husband and young son Dickon, their second child already on the way. With the keen support of Scotland’s King James IV, Richard—known in England as Perkin Warbeck—has come to reclaim his rightful crown from Henry Tudor. Based on a prophecy given Catherine by a seer that she would be loved by a king, she has no doubt Richard will succeed in his quest. But rather than assuming the throne she believed was their destiny, Catherine would soon be prisoner of King Henry VII, and her beloved husband would, unimaginably, be stamped as an imposter.

Nothing could shake Catherine’s belief in Richard and her loyalty to the man she loved. She became a favored lady-in-waiting to the queen, Elizabeth of York, but her dazzling beauty only brought her unwanted affections from a jealous king and enmeshed her in a terrifying royal love triangle. With her husband facing execution for treason, Catherine, alone in the glittering but deadly Tudor Court, finds the courage to spurn a cruel monarch and shape her own destiny, winning the admiration of a nation.

I am very much looking forward to reading this novel as the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower and the reappearance of ‘Perkin Warbeck’ a decade later make for very interesting reading.

Was Perkin Warbeck really Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York? Or was he a pretender to the English Throne and an impostor?

Uncovering the Mystery of Perkin Warbeck

In 1492, the news of the survival of the younger prince in the Tower thundered across Europe, setting royal houses ablaze with intrigue and rocking the fledgling Tudor dynasty. Who was this mysterious young man the Tudors nicknamed “Perkin Warbeck” who claimed to be Richard, Duke of York, younger son of King Edward IV? Handsome, courtly, with a stunning royal presence and “the voice of a king”, he was, as his biographer notes, “the perfect prince”. Certainly, he was greeted as such by the world.

We can never know the absolute truth about “Perkin Warbeck, whether the princes were strangled to death in the Tower by their uncle Richard III—as the Tudors said—or if one of them was smuggled to safety on the Continent, as “Perkin” claimed. Too much time has gone by. Evidence has been lost, or destroyed, sometimes by royal decree, and Shakespeare has forged myth into historical fact. But there are serious shortcomings in the theory that King Edward’s sons were murdered and much remains unexplained.

Experience teaches us that the truth is not always black or white, but a mixture of grays and a great deal more complicated than we realize. Such, I believe, is the case here. A new biography raises serious doubts that “Perkin Warbeck” was a fraud as the Tudors claimed, sparking an intriguing idea in my mind. What if the younger prince survived and Perkin Warbeck was Richard, Duke of York?

I am not alone in accepting that “Perkin Warbeck” was really who he claimed to be. In 1830, the author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, reached the same conclusion. She wrote a novel based on his youthful adventures hiding from Henry VII’s spies. The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck ends with Richard landing in England. I picked up the tale where hers left off, and Pale Rose of England begins with Richard’s arrival in Cornwall, his beautiful wife and grand passion of his life, the Scottish princess, Lady Catherine Gordon, at his side.

Hailed as the rightful heir to the throne of England, Richard sets out to reclaim his father’s throne. But England already had a king: the first of the Tudors, Henry VII. Henry proclaimed the young man an imposter and nicknamed him “Perkin Warbeck”, but he behaved—not as if the young man was an upstart—but as if he faced the clash of another legitimate claimant.

Was this most intriguing and charming pretender a true prince? The greatest European monarchs of the age seemed to have thought so, and that includes Henry VII. They either used him as a pawn, championed his cause, or took him under their protection. The King of France wouldn’t deliver him up to the King of England; Isabella and Ferdinand wouldn’t send their daughter to England to marry Prince Arthur while he lived; and the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian backed the young man without reservation. James IV went one better and gave him not only support, but the hand of his dazzlingly beautiful royal cousin, Lady Catherine Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Huntly.

Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, Richard’s strongest supporter, never deserted the one she called her nephew. After his capture, she did everything humanly possible to secure his release. On his death, she mourned profusely, and on the first anniversary of his death, broken-hearted, she burned three times the usual number of candles in her chapel at Binche. Nor did the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian of Austria ever abandon him, though the young man was of no further use to him. Maximilian did all he could to free Richard, and even considered going to war against Henry until civil strife in his own land made that impossible. Then he made Henry the astounding offer to resign in perpetuity—for himself, and for Richard, and for all their descendants—their claims to the throne of England. All Maximilian wanted in return was to have the young man back safe, and whole.

This is not the way of kings.

Henry refused all Maximilian’s offers. In this, and every possible way, the Pretender’s great rival, Henry VII, behaved as if he, too, believed the young man to be the lost prince, referring to him in private correspondence as the Duke of York and expending vast sums of money to defeat his cause (sixty thousand pounds alone for war with Scotland because James IV wouldn’t relinquish his support of “Perkin”). Nor did he, a miser, seem to mind, or to count the cost. He never spent—and was never again to spend—so much money resisting anyone. In his privy purse accounts, the day “Perkin” was apprehended went down as a newsworthy event equal to the announcement of the peace with France in 1492, and the arrival of Katherine of Aragon in 1501.

For eight years, the pretender tormented Henry. After his capture, Henry used “Perkin” as a bargaining chip to effect peace treaties, gain better trade advantages, and win political and economic concessions, especially from James of Scotland and Maximilian of Austria. When James IV demanded that Henry ameliorate the treatment of his cousins, Lady Catherine Gordon and her husband, Henry responded that if he wished better treatment for them, he should consider marrying his daughter Margaret.

Even “Perkin Warbeck’s” name has significance. “Wesbecque” was a play on words by someone who knew Flemish as well as French; with the Flemish wezen, “to be” or “to be real”, and weze, the word for “orphan.” It is curious that the official narrative of this young man given under torture contains so many elements applicable to the life of the real prince, Richard, Duke of York. Here is a child whose name meant “real” and “orphan,” born in England of no known address or clear parentage, who moved all over Europe, always in the company of English people (to explain his fluency in the English language) and who lived for a time in Portugal, somehow managing to attach himself to the wife of a man whose name resembled one of Richard III’s most loyal retainers, the Portuguese Jew, Duarte Brandeo—Sir Edward Brampton. Even Edward IV makes an appearance in Perkin’s tale, acting as his godfather. Both the prince and the pauper are linked by a common thread of wandering, jeopardy, and sorrow.

Despite all Henry VII’s expenditures on spies and his intense efforts to learn about the young man’s background, he was never able to do so to his satisfaction. The young man seemed to have materialized at the age of nine, with no history before that point. Richard’s wife, Catherine Gordon, believed utterly in her husband and stood by him with unquestioning loyalty. She never abandoned him, though a king sought her love and offered to lay the world at her feet. After Richard’s death, she befriended his sister Cecily, and Cecily’s daughter, Margaret Kymbe, whom she referred to with the royal terminology of “cousin.” This kinship could only have come through Richard. In perpetual mourning, Lady Catherine Gordon wore black to the end of her life.

In the month after “Perkin’s” execution, Henry fell so ill that the succession was rumored. His biographer notes that the king did not feel safe even after “Perkin” was gone. Tiny acts of piety suggest that his conscience pricked him, and punishing those who had believed in “Perkin” became an obsession. He assessed enormous fines on all who had shown him sympathy, and he made notations about the fines in his own hand on the rolls. Seven years after the event, in 1504, men were still being put to death, or attainted for treason because of “Perkin Warbeck.”

As he himself faced death, Henry’s royal will carried a final echo of his struggles with Lady Catherine Gordon’s husband and he seemed to be a haunted man. He increased the number of daily masses and offerings for his soul, and implored the Virgin that his “ancient and ghostly enemy” nor other horned devil be permitted to dive into his throat to seize his soul.

A word about Sir Thomas More is in order here, since he was the first to suggest in The History of the Reign of King Richard III that the princes had been murdered, and to identify the culprit. Cardinal Morton is given as the source of More’s information that Sir James Tyrell confessed to the murder of the princes in the Tower before his execution. No one mentioned a confession before More did, and no record of one survives. Strangely, while the Pretender was a captive at Henry’s court, Tyrrell was in Henry’s good graces, alive and flourishing in Calais. Yet More’s account quickly became the accepted story of what had happened to Richard, Duke of York.

Ultimately, the actions and behavior of those most closely involved in the drama of the princes in the Tower, including the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian, and Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, James IV of Scotland, and Henry VII himself seem to evince a belief bordering on conviction that the young man called “Perkin” was the true prince. The fact that he was not only of the right age and appearance, but also exhibited an exceptional talent for music—just as little Prince Richard had done!—makes it very difficult to dismiss his claim. To find all these qualities combined in a fraud defies probability, and therefore it is highly likely that the Pretender was King Edward’s son, Richard of York, executed by Henry VII as “Perkin Warbeck.”

In Pale Rose of England the heroic journey of Richard, Duke of York and Lady Catherine Gordon entwine to shape a saga of love and adventure that has all the power, drama, and brutality that defined the Tudor era. Bursting with sound and fury, the story of this royal princess and the man she loved brings new meaning to the definition of tragedy, triumph and the resilience of the human spirit. Together, they close out my Rose of York series set during the Wars of the Roses.

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  1. This sounds like a wonderful book and you do such a convincing job of authenticating Perkin Warbeck’s claim. It would be hard for a ‘commoner’ to have the manners and self confidence of a prince, enough to convince the whole of Europe. Nice work!

  2. I wonder what Elizabeth of York, Henry VII’s wife thought. After all, she was Richard, Duke of York’s sister, perhaps she did or didn’t recognize him. I’m not sure what happened to the princes in the tower, but it makes for a wonderful story.

    • It sure does Theresa! Another intriguing Tudor mystery to ponder on.

    • Apparently, Henry did not allow Elizabeth to see Perkin in real life. This is interesting as it could suggest Henry believed Perkin was really Richard and was fearful of his Yorkist wife recognising him.

  3. That is such an interesting theory and it does make sense a lot. I have only recently began reading regarding this era and it’s fascinating!!!

    @Natalie: Btw, You won an Award

  4. Devaki Khanna says:

    Well, we just have to think of how government officials (even in democracies) try to bury inconvenient truths under the carpet. I’m certain an absolute monarch would have had no compunction in killing a rival to his throne, while denying his legitimacy and claiming that his predecessor had actually done the killing.

  5. I was always fascinated with Elizabeth Woodville&Edward IV, and the fate of their sons ‘Princes in the Tower’. After I read ‘The White Queen’ my interest grow even more. This article is awesome, reveals so many information. I think that there is a huge possibility that ‘Perkin Warbeck’ was indeed the lost Prince Richard. I believe that Elizabeth Woodville would never gave away her second son, knowing that the other is imprisoned at the Tower by her enemy.

  6. The central argument here seems to be that the pretender was accepted as being as Royal blood by several important figures, including the King. But how did they know? If the King’s enemies had access to worthwhile evidence why didn’t they reveal it? The only direct evidence comes at the end of the article – ‘he was not only of the right age and appearance, but also exhibited an exceptional talent for music’. This would be true of very many young men of the period and might equally well explain why he was chosen to as standard bearer for the anti-Henry forces. When Jack Cade launched a revolt against Henry VI he too claimed aristocratic lineage, so it seems to have been standard practice.

    • Considering Henry VII was married to Richard, Duke of York’s older sister, he probably had no difficulty asking her if “Perkin” was her little brother. Even if the claimant’s appearance alone wasn’t enough for her to say “Yes, that’s him,” he would have memories of their childhood together which could confirm his identity. The certainty of the queen, one way or another, would have influenced all of the nobility.

      • As far as I know, there is no record that Henry VII or his queen, Elizabeth of York (the princes’ older sister) ever met the young man claiming to be Richard of York.

      • Not necessarily Meghan… Elizabeth of York at the point of capture of Perkin had two sons of her own and their inheritance of the throne would have been severely in doubt if she had confirmed the claims of Perkin, if she even had the chance to meet him. So most likely for the safety of herself & her sons, as a royal mother/Queen would have perhaps put the interests of her sons & husband ahead of those of her brother.

    • Deborah Jesser says:

      As far as that type of conjecture is concerned, ‘Perkin’ had one droopy eyelid, a recessive trait in the Plantagenet family handed down from Henry III & Edward I. It would indeed be difficult to locate a young ‘feigned boy’ who so closely resembled Edward IV, was talented in music, of the right age, spoke ‘beautiful’ English as well as several other languages fluently, who traveled as well in the company of Edward Brampton, a long-time loyal Yorkist adherent. And the fact that Henry VII couldn’t seem to get his name right, calling him two different names, shows, at the very least, that Henry was in some doubt about the true identity of ‘Perkin’. Also, he was not buried with commoners, but in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of Austin Friars where erring nobility were interred. Sir William Stanley, whose treachery at Bosworth helped place Henry on the throne, was executed for saying that if he were indeed Edward’s son Richard, he would not lift a hand against him.

  7. They found two bodies under the stairs in the Tower. Were they ever proven to be the Princes’ bodies.

    • Crystal says:

      No, the identity has never been conclusively proven which is why there is still such controversy concerning the issue. It is definitely an interesting cold case.

  8. Hi Cathleen
    No, it was never proven that those bones belonged to the Princes.
    But if those bones found at the Leicester dig are of Richard III, then hopefully they will be allowed to DNA test those bones too, and solve one of the great historical mysteries.
    The DNA results on the Leicester finds are expected in January

    • I believe that the crown refused to test the DNA, not certain when (what ruler) but I read that somewhere.

  9. THIS is a MUST read! I read it when it first came out and it STILL rings in my mind!! One is forced to ask themselves the questions, “If he were REALLY nothing but a Pretender, why was Henry VII so afraid of him, and why didn’t he just blow him off like the other so called Pretenders”? What I wouldn’t give to go back in time 500 years and be a fly on the wall 😉

  10. Deborah Varney says:

    The Gordons of Weobley on the gower claim descent from lady Catherine Gordon or one of her entourage/family.Others say it was through Perkin Warbeck (Richard Warbeck) Did they change the name to Gordon?Any comments greatfully received.

  11. Then who are the bodies in the tower, simple DNA would get this sorted. but I doubt very much old Perkin was really the Prince.

    But it does not matter really he was hung and hence he has gone

    • Yes you are dead right there Robert, and now they have said that the bones found in Leicester are Richard III, fingers crossed they get permission to do this. I think this has to come from the Queen. Won’t solve the mystery of who murdered them, but hopefully it would solve the mystery of whether they are the two Princes or not….

    • Joanne Larner says:

      Robert, those bones haven’t even been proved to be male! An archaeologist friend thinks, at the depth they were buried (ten feet) they are probably Iron age or Roman. Also, if you were charged with murdering the ‘princes’ and disposing of their bodies, surely an easier method would be to put them in a weighted sack and throw them in the river, which was only feet away. Or would you (secretly and alone) dig under a busy staircase for ten feet and then replace all the stones again in one night! It doesn’t make sense.

  12. Fascinating! Been doing some research on-line since the annoucement a few days ago that the bones found under the parking lot ARE “beyond a reasonable doubt” Richard III’s, and have, happily, found my way here.

    After reading Josephine Tey’s “Daughter of Time” many years ago, I certainly became convinced that if anyone had killed the Princes in the Tower, it was Henry VII, not Richard the III. Now, the more I read online about “Perkin Warbeck,” the more I become convinced that he truly WAS the younger of the two boys, Richard, Duke of York.

    I’ve always wondered, as Tey points out, why they didn’t just say the Princes in the Tower died of plague, had a state funeral, and be done with it. But you certainly can’t have a funeral without the bodies, which, I believe, strengthens the case that at least one of the boys escaped, and, of course, Henry VII wouldn’t have wanted THAT to get out, so he invented their murder and secret burial by Richard III.

    I look forward to reading Ms Worth’s book on this, in fact, I can’t wait!

    Let’s hope the present Queen Elizabeth allows DNA testing on the remains that were apparently discovered in the 17th century, and on the remains in the two nameless coffins in the vault of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

  13. Is anyone forgetting about Lambert Simnel? Wasn’t he regaled by M. of Burgundy as well?This Yorkist impostor stuff wasn’t a new thing And as for the princes, one was murdered and one saved? Why did Richard take the throne in the first place? I don’t believe it. Why/ If both were bastardized, what difference would it make if he murdered them or not? It makes a LOT of difference. Either one could claim the throne when they were older. He didn’t let Richard of York go free. Since Richard iii would have worried about an uprising later, he would’ve had them both murdered to stop that before it started.

  14. Crystal says:

    After reviewing the evidence, I don’t believe for one second that King Richard III had his nephews killed by having them suffocated in their sleep. First of all he was fiercely loyal to his brother Edward IV, though by some accounts he wasn’t terribly fond of Elizabeth Woodville. Be that as it may, his brother had charged him with protecting his sons should anything happen to him. There had been an argument raised by their brother George of Clarence over the whole deal of Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury’s right to the throne, when he to proclaimed the boys ineligible for the throne because Edward IV had singed a betrothal contract with Lady Eleanor Butler – in those days that was the same, in the eyes of the Church, as being married to her – thereby nullifying his marriage to Elizabeth. Edward was quick to silence that, and eventually George the Duke of Clarence pushed too far and was executed for plotting treason and I’m speculating an overthrow of Edward IV. On Edward’s death, I’m certain Richard was already aware that Henry VII would make a play for the throne the instant he thought he could get his villainous murderous hands on those boys. Then the most logical thing, that a warrior would do, and Richard was a “Warrior King” would be to honor his given word. Nothing in history that I am aware of declares that Richard was a deceiver or dishonorable. Just about everything in Henry VII’s history says he was. So here you have a Warrior, fiercely loyal to the deceased King, whose young sons are in jeopardy the instant they get that crown on their head…what to do? Buy them some time and bring up that argument concerning legitimacy, once they are declared illegitimate by the same church who had declared them legitimate, then take the throne as if they are not legitimate, Richard was the next in line for the Throne. Who had the best chance of leading a successful resistance against Henry VII? A child of say 12 or 13 who could conceivably be manipulated by his mother and half uncle? Or a grown, experienced Warrior familiar with the treachery of the opposing side? The conclusion is a logical one – Richard III. So I will speculate here that Lambert Simnel (because of conflicting stories and records) and Perken Warbeck (for the same reasons) were in fact the two sons of Edward IV and that Henry VII had them silenced a quickly as possible. Could Richard III have deliberately separated the boys and sent them off to friends and family to keep them protected knowing full well he would not be able to keep them safe if they remained in England on the throne? Could all of his actions have been in the best interests of those two boys. His proven loyalty to Edward IV tells me that’s just what he did. Pull the attention off those two boys and onto himself, Henry was far less likely to challenge Richard given his history. But when the rumors started flying that Richard had the two boy’s killed he was then faced with two choices – let the rumors fly so the boys would remain safe, or bring them back and show everyone he’d not harmed them and let the enemies know that if they killed Richard, they’d still have those boys to contend with. Richard chose, I believe, to take the heat which, in the end, may well have brought him down at Bosworth because of lack of support from the locals and the treachery and treason of William Stanley.

    • Kimberley Clarke says:

      Crystal, I’ve had the same thoughts myself. Maybe someday more evidence will come to light, and when it does I think we will find it on the continent.

    • Why does everyone forget Henry’s mother. She resided at court during that period and had a vested interest in her sons claim to the throne. The princes stood in her way.

  15. steve mann says:

    Very interesting comments Crystal

  16. Tomas catts says:

    I’ve always thought Richard III had the boys moved to remote manors in the north; he did this with edward of Warwick and daughters of edward IV, and that after the battle of Bosworth the two princes were found and executed by henry. Or perhaps Richard was smuggled out of the country. On the other hand if Richard III did put them to death it was because edward V had been brought up by the Woodville and would have been dominated by them. In a very short time, a matter of a few years he would have reached his majority and would have sought revenge for the execution of his uncle and half brother by Richard III and not only would Richard the thirds life been in danger but that of his wife and son. We really can’t judge that time periods actions by today’s standards, it was a ruthless time period

  17. After examining the evidence and adaptations I don’t believe Richard III killed his nephews the princes. I believe it was Henry’s mother Margaret Beaufort and hence the succession of male heirs thru Henry and Elizabeth of York was gravely affected after Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth he daughter cursed the make heirs of the killers o the boys. Unfortunately Elizabeth of York cursed her own sons and heirs. This curse trickled down to her sons Henry via as we well known h had several dead male heirs and hi daughter Elizabeth eventually reigned as queen.

  18. ANN Molony says:

    All completely fascinating. And I’ve just read that Perkin Warbeck – whoever he was – was crowned here in Cork, in Christchurch as Richard IV. Christchurch still stands, but is now an Arts centre. Cork’s “nickname’ of ‘the Rebel County’ apparently dates from that time. Is there any move to have dna testing done on the 3 sets of bones, and does anybody know for certain where ‘Perkin Warbeck’ was buried?

    • ‘Perkin’ was buried in an unmarked grave at the Church of the Austen Friars in London, which strangly is where executed nobility were buried! Also, WHY would a boat mans son from Flanders be executed for treason at Tyburn? Only English could be charged with treason?
      Three is sadly no remains to be found at the Austen Friars now.
      There was a belief in Scotland that King James lV had Prince Richard bought back to Scotland and he had him buried in the Royal vault at Cambuskenneth Abbey.

  19. Patricia Chalmers says:

    Who is Richard Plantagenet buried at Eastwell I’m Kent ? Why is no one investigating him now that we have Richard’s DNA

  20. It’s a great story – I’d love to read the book. While I don’t believe for one second that Perkin Warbeck was who he claimed to be, he certainly seems to have made Henry VII politically nervous – which doesn’t exactly sync with the claims that it was Henry Tudor and not Richard III who had the Princes in the Tower murdered.

  21. I went on an Alison Weir tour and Alison said, the Sir Robert Brackenbury who was constable of the Tower received orders from Richard to have the whole tower cleared on the night the princes were murdered. Richard the 111 told Elizabeth Woodville that he would remove the younger brother under force from sanctuary. No one could be left alive who could challenge Richard for the throne. He initially said there would be a coronation but no coronation robes were made. Just because a noble was made illegitimate didn’t mean it couldn’t be unmade. Look at John of Gaunt’s prodginy from Katherine Swinwood. Apparently Queen Elizabeth 11 is not open to having her ancesters’ graves open but Charles will consider it. We’ll have to wait and see. It won’t prove who murdered they boys though only that it is the boys.

    • Dianne Penn says:

      With all due respect, Alison is very pro Tudor. A lovely lady (I have met her) but of the opinion that Richard killed the boys. There is NO proof that they died, by anyone’s hand. George of Clarence’s son Edward had a better claim to the throne than Richard, being the son of an older brother, but Richard made no attempt to harm him – in fact he knighted him! Yes George was attainted but this could be reversed. Richard looked after all the children of his brothers, including the girls.
      Lack of Coronation robes means nothing as events moved so quickly.

    • skiinglady says:

      With the greatest of respect, does Alison weir seriously believe that a royal palace employing 600 people including a garrison ,mint workers and domestic staff could be cleared out in one night at about the time the princes disappeared and no chronicler recorded it . No-one noticed the stone staircase looked like it had new stone with just drying cement (or ancient equivalent). They could not have reconstructed it with the smashed up stone. This is beyond ridiculous

  22. Richard systematically killed anyone who would defend the boys. He already had George in his keeping. The girls weren’t a threat. For me, Richard the the means, he controlled the tower. No there is no proof but it is an engaging mystery.

    • Dianne Penn says:

      Who is the George Richard had in his keeping? Do you mean George’s son Edward of Warwick? If you do then yes, he did look after the children of his brothers and promised Elizabeth Woodvilles that he would look after them and find good husbands for them – which he was in the process of arranging a match with a Portuguese Duke for Elizabeth of York. He knighted Edward of Warwick at York the same time he invested his own son as Prince of Wales. When Tudor grabbed the crown he locked up E of W in the Tower for years until he executed him on a trumped up charge of plotting with ‘Perkin’.
      Elizabeth Woodvilles and Tudor himself never accused Richard of the boys deaths- you would think they would if it were true. In fact Elizabeth urged her older son to come back to England after Richard’s Coronation.
      There is a long held story in the Tyrell family that the boys and their mother were allowed to live at Gipping Hall ‘by kind permission of the Uncle’ ….. so this- along with other tantalising snippets in contemporary letters and documents – makes me believe Richard did hide the boys and not murder them.

  23. If Catherine Gordon was in a state of ‘perpetual mourning’ for the rest of her life, it certainly did not keep her from moving on… she had three subsequent marriages after Perkin’s execution.

  24. Catherine says:

    Richard III was not as loyal to his brought Edward’s wishes as some have stated and he there is more evidence that he had the princes murdered than anyone else. For example, they “disappeared” long before Henry VII won the crown and Richards claim to the crown was very much weakened if the boy were still alive. Also, remember that Richard III had Anthony Woodville, who had raised Edward V, executed as well.

    I would also like to add that I like Phillips Gregory’s writing, but she is writing fiction, not a historical book. What she writes are her own take on what happened to The princes, Richard III, Henry VII, and Eliazabeth of York. Most accounts of Henry’s marriage to Elizabeth of York say that they loved only each other and I can find no account of Henry VII ever having a mistress, unlike most other kings where they are often in public records. The whole story is fascinating to me and I wish they would do DNA testing on the all the bones, including Perkin Warbeck, just so we would know who they really were or weren’t.

    • Dianne Penn says:

      ‘Perkin’s’ bones can’t be found as the Austin Friars Church was bombed during the war, plus it was an unmarked grave.
      Can you provide a source for your statement that Richard was not as loyal to his brother as some have stated please? I have never come across any indication of it. Their disappearance – or being taken to safety – would be put in action when it became obvious that Tudor was hatching plans to invade – especially when he announced his intention to marry E of Y because legitimising her would automatically legitimise the boys. Why would they being alive weaken Richards claim? Dead or alive they were illegitimate. Rivers was executed for plotting with the rest of the Woodvilles, if you read Part ll of Secret History by R. E. Collins it explaines Rivers strange behaviour well before Edward lV’s sudden and unexpected death.
      For me there are too many ‘unexpected and sudden deaths’ which so conveniently cleared Tudors path to the throne.

      • one question that comes to mind again and again …. why would anyone put two young princes a weeks travel away from their home into the tower of London for “protection”?..it was a Prison . The safest place for two Yorkist princes, legitimate or not, was in Yorkshire, with friends and family. And therein lies the problem, the friends and family would also have been the ones that supported their claim to the throne.We are supposed to believe that they were taken away from family , from friends, from supporters of their cause, from the safest environment available to them taken to a place a weeks ride away in those days ,and placed in a prison for their own protection? i would argue that as soon as the princes were old enough and enough support garnered Richard would have seen his position questioned and therefore the only person who had anything to fear from the princes was Richard… meaning the only person the princes needed protecting from was Richard. Also , how can anyone claim Richard was loyal to his brother when he questioned and supported his brothers two sons legitimacy to the throne, paving the way for his own ambitions….and besides…. what kind of “loyal” and “caring” person would not only lock his nephews away in a prison … but ignore the fact they had disapppeared from the face of the earth ?

        • Dianne Penn says:

          No, the Tower was not the awful prison it later became known as, in 1483 it was a Royal Palace and perfectly acceptable for a King to be housed there prior to the Coronation. The two boys did not live in Yorkshire, they were from the House of York but the elder boy Edward lived in Ludlow Castle and the younger boy Richard was with his mother in Sanctuary (where she wanted to be after Edward lV’s death) in Westminster Abbey in London. I doubt very much if these boys had ever been to Yorkshire. Do you know WHY Richard assumed the Throne? It was because Bishop Stillington came forward after Edward’s death and confessed that he had married Edward, in secret, to a previous lady named Eleanor Talbot which meant that the children of the marriage to Elizabeth (the boy’s mother) would be illegitimate. Representatives of the Three Estates (the Church, the Nobility and the Commoners) met and discussed what should be done and examined all of the evidence and came to the conclusion that no way could a bastard be Crowned, so the next in line was the late King’s brother, Richard. Edward on his death bed had ordered Richard to be the Protector of the Realm and to best carry out this duty, and with no other contender, he accepted. Now – Henry Tudor was planning to invade England and on hearing the news of the childrens’ illegitimacy, he vowed that he would marry the eldest girl Elizabeth and unite the two houses of York and Lancaster……. but if he married her, he would have to make her legitimate or else she could not be Queen but if he did this for her, it would also make her brothers legitimate too, wouldn’t it? So Tudor now had a reason to want the boys dead. If Richard killed the boys to stop people rising up against him – why would he not display the bodies and say they had died of sickness? What is the point of killing them and not telling anyone? The rumours that the boys were dead started on the Continent – where Tudor was living, along with Cardinal Morton and others who supported his claim… coincidence? It was a whispering campaign that gathered momentum because the boys were not seen at the Tower again after about September 1483. There is absolutely NO evidence to say that they died. Their mother never accused Richard or anyone of killing them. Tudor never accused Richard of killing them but there is evidence that trusted friends of Richard’s hid them away. There is a tradition to this day in the Tyrel family history that the boys lived at Gipping Hall in Suffolk along with their mother ‘by kind permission of the uncle’. ow Gipping is not too far from the coast, so perhaps they were taken overseas for their safety from Tudor? Richard wouldn’t tell everyone would he, or they would be looked for. There is also documented that some of Richard’s trusted friends made secret journeys with extra horses and money about this time – again, taking the boys abroad? We don’t know now what happened to these boys as a lot of records and documents were destroyed by Tudor when he became King, why for example would he order the document Titulus Regius which set out the reasons for Richard to accept the Crown, to be destroyed without being read, on pain of death? Why did he date his reign from the day before the battle at Bosworth? This was so he could call everyone who fought for Richard a traitor and claim their lands plus execute them (in case they knew where the boys were?) Yes, to us in the 21st century it appears that the boys disappeared but in the 15th century there would be documents and people who knew where the boys were – hence Tudor spending the rest of his life in a neurotic state and constantly looking over his shoulder and executing anyone who had Plantagenet blood in their veins…. like Perkin Warbeck, now that’s another story!

          • nice post Dianne, Issues that arise though are the fact that the tower could be portrayed as a palace of royal residence or a prison and was used as a prison long before 1483…and all castles had executive rooms …and dungeons.. the tower was no different..it was a true keep , and could be spun as a place to keep one safe or keep one prisoner, very handy to explain why someone was there,if the young princes were not prisoners why were they never seen again after summer 1483? there is no evidence to say they survived, none , from any quarter home or abroad and the Tyrel tradition is no more then hearsay, as is so much of this story, Also why and on whos orders did bishop Stillington dig up the marriage issue? what proof did he have ? it was only his word from what i can gather, he wouldnt have just done it off his own back, i suspect he was prompted and coerced for two reasons .. to put Richard on the throne and attempt to weaken tudors claims to it.The titulus reginus was drawn up before parliament convened , so in effect the deal was done without Parliament sitting, so wasnt even legal to begin with , and could also easily have been done and concocted with the intention to not only place Richard as king , but to thwart henry tudors intention to marry elizabeth of york and unite york and lancaster once and for all, that was the tudor masterplan , take the throne and unite the houses, Also why would tudor plan to marry elizabeth if he believed the princes alive?…. if the princes were alive it would be pointless , if the children were illegitemate tudor marrying elizabeth would be pointless, so why should tudor bother coming at all? , he believed the princes were dead… i would say the titulus regius was an attempt by Richard to not only put himself on the throne but to also make Henry tudors ambition pointless, win win for richard, princes dead , their sister a bastard….. theres no wonder tudor wanted it destroyed unread, it was no more then an act founded on a Yorkist desire to dismiss tudors intentions to legitimise everything with a wedding to elizabeth by scurrilous accusations about her legitimacy , and an act founded on what? a bishops say so? what other proof was there? .
            Richard wasnt popular in all quarters, far from it, Stanley holding back at bosworth is a typical example , the same with Henry Percy, i dont believe Richard expected to lose at Bosworth far from it.
            .As for Tudor Declaring himself king before Bosworth was a smart move … very smart. Made Henrys position and ability to either take titles or show mercy very strong indeed , a master stroke really and nothing to do with the unseen and unheard of for two years princes , declaring himself king the day before bosworth made his power over those that fought against him absolute. Also , as you say , if the boys survived, there would have been documents and people who knew where the boys were ..if .. if.. they were still alive, yet no documents have ever surfaced, either here or abroad. yet we are expected to believe tudor could have murdered the 2 princes and no record exists …anywhere .. yet his execution of the earl of warwick who had relinquished any claims to the throne and was a retard was somehow ok for public domain? naaah , them princes were in all probability dead on Richards orders in summer 1483 or at least ordered to be killed because ,as i put in a seperate post on this thread, citing that wether they were killed is another issue and may be just may be an explanation to perkin warbeck.

  25. For another take on this, there is a 1956 novel by Philip Lindsay “A Princely Knave”. The author died 2 years later in 1958, so the book may be out of print? (Mine in 1971 edition.) He comes to an interesting and different conclusion about the real identity of Perkin Warbeck.

  26. Furthermore I don’t believe Henry VII and Elizabeth of York’s marriage was “happy”. The only “evidence” is that he had no mistresses (therefore had no complaints about her?) and that meant she could have no complaints about him???!!!??? Personally I think he was just too stingy to have mistresses!!! (they could be demanding and he seemed to have no personal charm). Elizabeth probably learnt to tolerate him and concentrated on devoting herself to the children.

    • Dianne Penn says:

      He was overly fond of Lady Katherine Gordon though and kept her at Court for years. She seemed to grow fond of him too which I find very strange, but hey ho!

  27. All ifs buts and coconuts. IF , the bones of those found in the tower were indeed found to be the princes, then the only matter that remains is who killed them. IF , they are the princes , AND IF the actions and concerns of Henry the V11 are correct then that would surely point to the murderer been Richard 111
    One thing seems certain , the two princes were not resident prisoners in the tower , well before Henry tudor started his reign. Otherwise why no documentation, no references after 1483 of the two princes from any source.

    IF … as one poster “Deborah Jesser “stated “….. Sir William Stanley, whose treachery at Bosworth helped place Henry on the throne, was executed for saying that if he were indeed Edward’s son Richard, he would not lift a hand against him.” ….. is correct, then this would also seem to indicate some very powerful people hadnt a clue where the princes were or of their fate, or they believed there was a chance they may still be alive.
    I come back to this , were the princes a threat to Richard 111, if their legitimacy had been proved void? if no , then why hide them and indeed why put them in the tower at all, it wasnt a place of safe keeping under any situation …Richards safest place was Yorkshire ( see what happened to Henry Percy years later for not supporting Rrichard at Bosworth ?)….they were York princes …..if illegitemate there was no need to keep them a secret , no need to hide them away… so i ask this … why put them in the tower at all? also ..if Richard was indeed “protecting” them , why not simply hide them up north ?….amongst friends.(keep your friends close , enemys closer)
    The tower wasnt a place of protection for Yorkist royalty …it was a Prison.
    Therefore imo the Princes were a real threat to Richard 111. If not themselves directly , then they had sympathisers who would possibly wait until they were old enough then openly support them, and Richard 111 knew this.
    The conclusion i come to is this…. if the bodies found were the princes , then it would seem logical that Richard had them slain….. as Henry had Warbeck slain.. the only way to quash any future threat to their thrones and their offsprings inheritence, cull the threat. Would it be conceivable that Richard , if protecting them in the tower , would have left them in there before Bosworth? no..come on .. he`d have moved them up north to safety at least with a contingency to have them smuggled to the continent ( again why put them in London in the first place)… but before you think yeah Warbeck… if Richard were their protector there would or should have been documented evidence of his actions in this matter … he would have been a hero…stuff of legend ..(maybe some will come to light on the continent?)
    IF those bodies are not princes , or one isnt, why would there be no record of their removal from the tower?… is it possible Richard ordered their demise, but sympathisers made sure they lived?…or at least one lived…but why the youngest alone if warbeck?…why not the next in line edward V?. so i say , imo they both lived and escaped or both died in the tower.
    However as another poster says if murdered in te towerwhy bury them ? why not just dump them in the thames?
    I think Richard probably ordered that…. not a tower burial.. and if … if .. warbeck was who he claimed … Richard had no idea they had not been murdered at his bequest. in 1483.
    Did people like STANLEY AND PERCY earl of northumberland know before Bosworth that the princes were safe on the continent or at least had been spirited away there? did they support the princes claim? is that why they failed to support Richard 111 at Bosworth?…. did they believe Bosworth was no more then a Battle of the pretenders? the true king was alive and in hiding? ( ifs buts and coconuts, but a seed to think upon, percy received no favours from henryv11 for not engaging at bosworth when Richard signalled….indeed with Percy and Stanley Richard should have won…. what was the real reasons for them not engaging?)
    That could at least explain why Henry V11 had Warbeck buried where he did, with some dignity not treated like a dog as in Richard 111`s burial…. and why Henry was rocked by his existance,imo Henry had no idea what happened to those two princes , and assumed them dead or displaced well before Bosworth.
    It could also explain why there was so much support for Warbeck on the continent , why Aragon wanted him dead before betrothing Catherine to Arthur, why Maximillian begged for his safety….. why the king of Scotland supported him.
    People say that Lambert siminel was also touted as one of the Princes and supported on the continent…. but what if … just if.. lambert siminel was a decoy… if Lambert Siminel had won the battle of Stoke field…. would Warbeck have been revealed as the true king ?… after all… why send the last True Yorkist king into Battle at the age of 12 ? surely he was too precious for that too great a risk …but in 1497 Warbeck was 22…. a man, an educated man with everything to lose by claiming to be the king of England …… or the rightful king attempint to take back his throne.
    On a last point … justice in those times was swift and brutal.. yet Warbeck was kept a prisoner for over two years…25 months…before he was executed … for Treason…. a crime that can only be committed by a national of the nation they commit treason against …. Warbeck was Flemish …or was he?
    imo it would seem Henry V11 believed warbeck had a claim to the throne but if he did or did not its all
    ifs buts and coconuts.

  28. Patricia Chalmers says:

    Surely the Earl of Warwick, Edward’s next brother’s son had prior claim to the throne if the Tower Princes were deemed illegitimate
    Who was Richard Plantagenet buried at Eatwell, Kent ?

    • Dianne Penn says:

      Yes you are right. George, Duke of Clarence’s son Edward was next in line and Richard had knighted him in York at the same time he made his own son Prince of Wales. Unfortunately, he was deemed inellegible due to his father’s attainder but, these could be reversed. The trouble here is that he was also a child and a child on the Throne is never a good idea. Horace Walpole in his 18th century book (which I have) expressed the opinion that Richard was going to rule until Edward’s son was 25 – but events over took that idea.
      No-one really knows who Richard of Eastwell was. It is yet another mystery that surrounds King Richard.

  29. Dianne Penn says:

    I recommend Annette Carson’s ‘The Maligned King’ and this post sums up much better than I ever could. https://murreyandblue.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/a-time-for-truth-a-time-for-lies-or-for-pretended-obliviousness-and-bullying-tactics/

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