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Ranald Barnicot

One of the most fascinating imposters in history, for me, was Perkin Warbeck, who pretended to be Richard, Duke of York,the younger son of Edward IV though being in fact(?) the son of a Flemish boatman. He claimed to have escaped from the Tower and therefore not to have been bumped off on the orders of his uncle, Richard III, along with his brother, Edward V. Perkin seems to have convinced many high-ranking and influential 'players', including his Edward IV's sister, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, and James IV of Scotland. The question, though, is whether they were really convinced, or whether they went along with his claims because they hated Henry VII, the Tudor "usurper", so much that they were prepared to support any rival, however low-born.Another puzzle is why Henry, after Warbeck had been defeated and captured, spared his life for a time and kept him around at the court.What was the reason for this contemptuous clemency? However, he was eventually moved to the Tower and his attempt to escape sealed his fate. I recommend the biography of Warbeck by Ann Wroe (if I remember rightly).

Robert Goddard

Thanks for that, Ranald. I am about to post several pieces about "odd," outrageous or simply fascinating people lost to history in the coming days and weeks. I hope you find them as interesting. I do remember Perkin from A-level history 50 years ago!!

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