Biography of Perkin Warbreck 1474-1499

1491 Birth and Christening of Henry VIII

1495 Perkin Warbreck Plot

1497 Cornish Rebellion

1499 Trial and Execution of Perkin Warbreck and Edward Earl of Warwick

Perkin Warbreck was captured at Beaulieu Abbey [Map].

Around 1474 Perkin Warbreck was born.

Birth and Christening of Henry VIII

Hall's Chronicle 1492. This yere was borne at Grenewiche [Map] lord Henry, second son to the King (age 34), which was created duke of Yorke, and after Prince of Wales, and in conclusion succeeded his father in crown and dignity. Nowe let us return to the new found son of King Edward, conjured by men’s policies from death to life.

And first to declare his lineage and beginning, you must understad that the Duchess of Burgoyne (age 45) so nourished and brought up in the seditious and scelerate factions of false contryers and founders of discord could never cease nor be unquiet (like a viper that is ready to burst with superfluity of poison) except he should infest and unquiet the King of England, for no desert or displeasure by him to her committed, but only because he was propagate and descended of the house of Lancaster, ever being adverse and enemy to her line and lineage. For which only cause she compassed, imagined and invented how to cast a scorpion in his bosom, and to infect his whole realm with, a pestiferous discord. To the intent that he being vanquished and brought to confusion, both the boiling heat of her malicious heart might be fully satiated with his innocent blood, and also advance and prefer some darling of her faction to his Empire rule and dignity. And principally remembering that the Earl of Lincoln, which was by her set forth and al his company had small fortune and worse success in their progression and enterprise, contrary to her hope and expectation, she like a dog reverting to her olde vomit, began to devise and spin a new web, like a spider that daily weaves when his caul is torn. And as the devil provides venomous sauce to corrupt banckettes, so for her purpose she espied a certain young man of visage beautiful, of countenance demure, of with subtle crafty and pregnant, called Peter Warbreck. And for his dastard cowardness of the Englishmen, in derision called Perkin Warbreck (age 17), according to the Dutch phrase, which change the name of Peter to Pekin, to younglings of no strength nor courage for their timorous hearts and pusillanimity. Which young man travelling many countries, could speak English and many other languages, and for his basenes of stock and birth was known of none almost, and only for the gain of his living from his childhood was of necessity, compelled to seek and frequent diverse realms and regions. Therefore the duches (age 45) thinking to have gotten God by the foot, when she had the devil by the taile, and adjudging this young man to be a mete organ to convey her purpose, and one not unlike to be duke of Yorke, son to her brother King Edward, which was called Richard, kept him a certain space with her privately, and him with such diligence instructed, both of the secretes and common affaires of the realm of England, and of the lineage, descent and order of the House of Yorke, that he like a good scholar not forgetting his lesson could tell all that was taught him promptly without any difficulty or sign of any subornation and besides, he kept such a princely countenance, and so counterfeit a Majesty Royal, that all men in manner did firmly believe that he was extracted of the noble house and family of the Dukes of Yorke. For surely it was a gift given to that noble progeny as of nature in the root planted that all the sequel of that line and stock did study and devise how to be equivalent in honour and fame with their forefathers and noble predecessors.

Perkin Warbreck Plot

Wriothesley's Chronicle 1485-1509. 1495. This yeare was beheaded Sir William Stanley (age 60), Lord Chamberlayne, Sir Symon Monforde and his sonne, and manye other that landed in the Downes,b to the number of viiixx, that came from Perkin Werbeck (age 21),c callinge himselfe King Edwardes sonne.d

Note b. Near Deal [Map].

Note c. Other authorities say Warbeck's followers, to the number of 169, were on this occasion made captives and gibbeted; but our author has copied Arnold, who has "viii skore."

Note d. Warbeck (age 21) pretended to be Richard Duke of York, son of Edward lV.

Polydore Vergil. 07 Sep 1497. But, whichever it was, while he lingered in Ireland in a fever of uncertainty, reliable messengers informed him that the Cornishmen, undeterred by their recent disaster, were still badly affected towards Henry (age 40) and ready to take up arms once more to avenge the wrong. And so, thinking it would be useful not to ignore this proffered opportunity, went flying to them without delay. He solicited them, he incited them, he promised them such great things that a stroke he was hailed as their leader, with all men shouting they would obey his commands. Restored to good hope by these things, Peter (age 23) decided that nothing should be done rashly. First he should go in all directions, gaining power over fortified places that could serve for his protection. Then, having increased his forces, he should attack all who offered resistance. Adopting this strategy, he attacked and besieged Exeter, Devon [Map]. Since he lacked artillery to batter down its walls, he only sought to smash its gates opens, and with great vigor he began to pound them with stones, pry at them with steel, heap them with wood, and set them afire. At first, the townsmen, seeing the walls surrounded by the enemy at one point, and a fire to be started at another, were afraid. But they immediately let down messengers from the walls during the night, who were to inform the king. Then they courageously decided to fight fire with fire and, since the bars of the gates were already shattered, they added their own wood to the fire, so that the flames raging on either side would both prevent the enemy from coming within and their own citizens from leaving. And meanwhile they themselves dug ditches inside in front of the entry days and made earthworks. Thus all of the besiegers' efforts around the gates came to naught, and fire rescued the citizenry from fire. Then Peter (age 23), of necessity breaking off the fight at the gates, attacked the city at various points where it seemed weaker, and, bringing up ladders, frequently tried to take the walls, suffering great losses. Meanwhile he hoped that the burghers would be overwhelmed either by fear or want of provisions, could be impelled to surrender.

Polydore Vergil. Around 10 Sep 1497. Hearing the news, the king (age 40) was no slower in leading an army to Exeter, Devon [Map] than the situation required. He sent ahead a goodly number of light horse to let everyone know of his approach. For meanwhile, under the leadership of Edward Courteney Earl of Devonshire (age 38) and his son William (age 22), an excellent and very brave young man, every noble hastened to come to the aid of Exeter, Devon [Map] with a great company of soldiers. Among these were Thomas Trenchard, Edmund Carew, Thomas Fulford, William Courteney, John Halliwell, John Croker, Walter Courteney, Peter Edgercombe (age 28), and William St. Maurice. When these things came to Peter's (age 23) ears, he abandoned the siege and removed to Taunton, Somerset [Map], the nearest town. There he reviewed his army and drew it up for the coming battle, although it later came to light that he had no great trust in that army. A goodly part were armed only with swords, otherwise unarmed, and ignorant of how to fight.

Polydore Vergil. Around 20 Sep 1497. Learning of his enemies' departure, Henry (age 40) headed straight for Taunton, Somerset [Map]. Duke Edward of Buckingham (age 19) arrived there, a young man endowed with great spirit and virtue of character, and he was followed by a host of right noble knights with armor and all the other things requisite for warfare. In that number were Giles Briggs, Alexander Baynham, Maurice Berkeley, Robert Tames, John Guise, Robert Point, Henry Vernon, John Mortimer, Thomas Tremayle, Edward Sutton, Amyas Powlet (age 40), John Bicknell, John Sapcot, Hugh Luterell, John Wadham and his son Nicholas, John Speck, Richard Beauchamp of St. Amand, Francis Cheney, Rogerd Tokett, Thomas Long, Nicholas Lattimer, John d'Urbeville, William Storton, Roger Newberg, William Martin, Thomas Lind, Henry Rogers, Walter Hungerford, John Semery, Edward Carell, Maurice Borroughs, William Norris, John Langford, Richard Corbett, Thomas Blount, Richard Lacon, Thomas Cornwallis, and many other excellent soldiers. Meanwhile, when the king (age 40) had come up, either to avoid delaying the fight or fearing the fortune of war, he sent ahead Robert Lord Broke, Richard Thomas, and Giles Daubney (age 46) to begin the battle, while he followed after, so that, when he saw the battle begin, he could either come to the aid of his men or launch a simultaneous attack on the enemy rear. But the king's plan was unnecessary. For Peter (age 23) was so far from standing his ground, that after he learned the enemy were in arms, he furtively slipped away in the night and quickly fled to the asylum at Beaulieu Abbey [Map]. Whether he did this out of cowardice (with which he was well supplied), or because he suspected trickery, is not known, but it is well enough agreed that it was a good thing for the king that he was not compelled to come to blows with the Cornishmen, whose strength was so enhanced by despair that they had all determined on conquering or dying to the last man in that battle.

Polydore Vergil. 04 Oct 1497. Learning that Peter (age 23) had decamped, Henry sent out horsemen in every direction to follow him and seek his capture, but he, having covered most of the distance, was not seen before he reached the asylum. But not so his captains, who were taken in mid-flight and brought to the king. And the mob, when they could not see Peter (age 23) nor his captains' standards, having no idea where he was, whether he had been killed by some trick or had fled, were unsure of what counsel to take or what was best to do. In the end, learning of his shameful flight, everybody, immediately unhinged by their common evil, their common fear, their common danger, cast aside their weapons and began to hold up their hands, and out of his kindness the king (age 40) readily forgave them. Being a victor without having had a fight, he went to Exeter, Devon [Map], where he praised the citizenry for having done its duty and extended his thanks, and while there he presided over the execution of some of the Cornishmen responsible for the recent rising. Meanwhile the king's horsemen rode as far as St. Michael's Mount, and there they found Peter's (age 23) wife [his wife] Catherine and brought her captive to the king. Henry (age 40), marveling at the woman's beauty, thought she was not plunder for soldiers, but worthy of an emperor, and forthwith sent her to the queen (age 31) at London with an escort of honorable matrons, as a sure harbinger of the victory he had won.

Polydore Vergil. King James of Scotland did not break his word. Now being dead sure that he had been the victim of a fraud, he summoned Peter Warbeck and, gently reminding him of all the benefits he had conferred, urged him to migrate to some other country where he could live in peace until a better opportunity for conducting his business offered itself. For he himself had been obliged to make peace with the King of England, and because of the affinity he enjoyed with the king and valued so highly, it was scarcely possible that in the future he could take up arms in Peter's name, as he had gladly done at the beginning when he hoped that Peter would be furnished with timely help by his English friends. But since this expectation had proved to be in vain, he told him he should not take this delay amiss, for it might turn out to be helpful for him in his affliction. Saying these and similar things, he told Peter to go elsewhere. And he, learning the king's will, was devastated by this desertion, now seeing that there was nothing left for him among the Scots. Although he was not able to requite the many benefits he had received from them, nevertheless, so as not to appear to be an ingrate, he accepted the king's command calmly, and a few days later took his wife and left for Ireland, with the idea of returning to Margaret in Flanders, or of attaching himself to the Cornishmen.

On 03 Feb 1495 Perkin Warbreck (age 21) landed at Deal, Kent [Map]. He was driven off by supporters of the Crown and travelled to Ireland.

Before Sep 1496 Perkin Warbreck (age 22) and Catherine Gordon were married. She the daughter of George Gordon 2nd Earl Huntley (age 41) and Elizabeth Hay Countess Huntley (age 46).

1497 Cornish Rebellion

Wriothesley's Chronicle 1485-1509. Aug 1497... and in August Perkin Warbeck (age 23) landed in Cornewale,g and by pursuit fledd to Bowdley St. Marie [Map],h but by appoyntment he came to the Kinge, followinge the Courte.i

Note g. In Whitsand Bay; and, having sent his wife, the Lady [his wife] Catherine Gordon, for safety to Mount St Michael, assumed the title of Richard IV.

Note h. The Sanctuary of Beaulieu [Map] in the New Forest, written in Arnold "Bewdeley sent wary," which has been erroneously transcribed in our MS. "St. Marie."

Note i. In Arnold this passage is, "and so remained following the Court."

On 07 Sep 1497 Perkin Warbreck (age 23) landed at Whitesand Bay, Cornwall [Map].

After 04 Oct 1497 Perkin Warbreck (age 23) was imprisoned at Taunton, Somerset [Map].

After 04 Oct 1497 Perkin Warbreck (age 23) was imprisoned at Tower of London [Map].

Around Mar 1499 Perkin Warbreck (age 25) escaped at Tower of London [Map].

Around Mar 1499 Perkin Warbreck (age 25) recaptured at Tower of London [Map].

Hall's Chronicle 1499. 16 Nov 1499. Nov 1499. Perkyn (age 25) (of whom rehearsal was made before) being now in hold, could not leave with the destruction of himself, and confusion of other that had associate themselves with him, but began now to study which way to fly and escape. For he by false persuasions and liberal promises corrupted Strangways, Blewet, Astwood and long Rogier his keepers, being servants to Sir John, Digby Lieutenant. In so much that they (as it was at their arraignment openly proved) intended to have slain the said Master, and to have set Perkyn and the Earl of Warwick (age 24) at large, which Earl was by them made privy of this enterprise, and thereunto (as all natural creatures love liberty) to his destruction assented, but this crafty device and subtle imagination, being opened and disclosed, sorted to none effect, and so he being repulsed and put back from all hope and good luck with all his accomplices and confederates, and John Awater sometime Mayor of Corffe in Ireland, one of his founders, and his son, were the sixteen day of November arraigned and condemned at Westminster.

Trial and Execution of Perkin Warbreck and Edward Earl of Warwick

On 23 Nov 1499 Perkin Warbreck (age 25) was hanged at Tyburn [Map].

On 28 Nov 1499 Edward "Last Plantagenet" York 17th Earl Warwick (age 24) was executed at Tower Hill [Map].

Earl Warwick, Baron Montagu forfeit.

Documentation held in Spain apparently describes Catherine of Aragon's (age 13) parents Ferdinand II King Aragon (age 47) and Isabella Queen Castile (age 48) expressing concern that Edward "Last Plantagenet" York 17th Earl Warwick (age 24) was a potential claimant to throne, and being reluctant for their daughter to marry Arthur Prince of Wales (age 13) whilst there was a threat to his (age 13) accession causing King Henry VII of England and Ireland (age 42) to use Perkin Warbreck's (deceased) attempted escape with Edward "Last Plantagenet" York 17th Earl Warwick (age 24) as a means to an end.

Wriothesley's Chronicle 1485-1509. 23 Nov 1499. Perkin Werbeck (age 25) putt to death at Tyburne [Map]; and the Earle of Warwyke (age 24),b sonne to the Duke of Clarence, who had bene kept in the Tower [Map] from the age of 11 years unto the end of 14 yeares, was beheaded at the Tower Hill [Map].c A great pestilence throughout all England.

Note b. Edward Earl of Warwick (age 24) was the last remaining male of the honse of Plantagenet. He bore the title of Earl of Warwick, though it does not appear that his father's attainder had been reversed.

Note c. Warbeck (age 25) was executed at Tyburn [Map] on the 23rd Norember, together with O'Water, Mayor of C!ork, and the Earl of Warwick on the following day, or, according to some anthorities, on the 28th.

Note. "though it does not appear that his father's attainder had been reversed." Edward's (age 24) claim was from through his mother Isabel Neville Duchess Clarence, daughter of Richard "Kingmaker" Neville Earl Warwick, 6th Earl Salisbury and Anne Beauchamp 16th Countess Warwick, whose claim had come from her mother Anne Beauchamp, so his father's attainder was irrelevant.

In Oct 1537 [his former wife] Catherine Gordon died without issue.

Polydore Vergil. While staying at Exeter, Devon [Map], the king scarcely imagined he had conquered or had removed all occasion for rebellion, unless he were to lay his hands on Peter, the head man of that plague. First he surrounded the asylum [Map] by two squadrons of horse so that no hope of escape would remain for Peter. Then, proposing a pardon and amnesty for everything he had done, he sent trusty messengers to make trial of the young man, to see if he would submit. Peter, now lacking in hope, lacking a home, lacking a fortune, when he saw he was enmeshed in these supreme difficulties because he was relying on that desperadoes' refuge, and calculated that all future ability gain to success had slipped through his hands, and had heard that a pardon was being offered, at length, relying on the faith of the nation, voluntarily came out of the asylum, and placed himself in Henry's power. And so this great rising was suddenly put down. Having waged this war with success and wonderfully happy, the king went to London. Wherever he went, men came running to have a look at Peter, a source of wonderment for everybody. For he, a foreign-born man relying on nothing else but the recommendation of his betters (although it was proclaimed otherwise), had dared cause trouble for such a great kingdom with his pranks and by his wily schemes, and had led so many people and sovereigns to believe the lies he had said about himself, not without their great harm.

Hall's Chronicle 1492. The duches thinking every hour from his departure a whole year, until such time she heard from him, and effectively desiring to know which way Lady Fortune turned her wheel, hearing him to be repudiate and abjected out of the French court, was in a great agony and much amazed and more appalled. But when she was ascertained of his arrival in Flanders, she no less revived, then he that bathe instead of the sword of execution, a pardon and restoration of his life and degree to him delivered and showed. And at his coming to her presence, she received him with such gladness, with such rejoicing and such comfort (as indeed she could dissemble alone above all other) as though she had never seen nor known him before, or as he were newly cropped out of his mother’s lap again, that what in trust to prefer him to the pre-eminence by her imagined, and what for the hope that she had to destroy King Henry, she fell into such an unmeasurable joy, that she had almost lost her wit and senses. And that this her gladness might be notified and made appear unto every man, she first rejoiced of her nephew’s health and welfare. And secondly she much thrusted and sore longed, not once, but diverse and sundry times in open audience, and in solemn presence to hear him declare and show by what meanes he was preserved from death and destruction, and in what countries he had wandered and sought friendship. And finally, by what chance of fortune he came to her court and presence. To the intent that by the open declaration of these feigned fantasies, the people might be persuaded to give credit and belief, that he was the true begotten son of her brother King Edward. And after this she assigned him a guard of thirty persons in murray and blue, and highly honoured him as a great estate and called him the White Rose, Prince of England.

Hall's Chronicle 1492. By reason whereof, the nobility of Flanders were to him diligent, and with due reverence did him all the pleasure that lay in their power or offices. And to be short, the more that, this poetical and feigned invention was shadowed with the pretence of sincere verity, the more faith and undoubted credence was adhibited to it. In so much that many one thought him to be preserved, only by the will and mighty power of Almighty God, and to be conveyed at the first danger by some faithful friend of King Edward his father into some strange country, and so escaped the violent tyranny of his uncle King Rychard, which indubitably, hereafter should recover his father’s possessions and Kingdom. The same and brute of this juggled miracle was almost in one moment blown over all the country of Flanders, and the territories thereabouts. But in England it was biased in every place sooner than a man could think or devise it. In which country more than in other places it was received for an infallible verity and most sure truth, and that not only of the common people, but also of diverse noble and worshipful men of no small estimation, which are affirmed it to be true, and no comment or fable fantastically imagined. After this divulgation the Richard son to King Edward was yet living, had in great honour amongst the Flemings, there began sedition to springe on every side, none otherwise than in the pleasant time of year, trees are wont to bud or blossom. For not only they that were in sanctuaries, for great and heinous offences by them committed, but also many other that were fallen in debt, and doubting to be brought to captivity and bondage, assembled together in a company, and were passed over the sea into Flanders, to their counterfeit Richard son to King Edward, otherwise named Perkyn Warbeck. After this many of the noble men conspired together some through rashness and temerity induced thereunto, some being so earnestly persuaded in their own conceit, as though they knew perfectly that this Perkyn was the undoubted son of King Edward the Fourth solicited, slurred and allured to their opinion all such as were friends and favourites of the House of Yorke. Other through indignation, ennui and avarice, ever grudging and thinking they were not condignly rewarded for their pains and parts taken in the King’s behalf and quarrel. Other whom it grieved and vexed to see the world stand still in one stay, and all men to live in peace and tranquillity, desirous of some change, ran headlong into that fury, madness and seditious conjuration.

Hall's Chronicle 1492. In the mean season these news were related to Charles the Freeh King, then being in displeasure with King Henry, which without delay sent for Perkin into Ireland to the intent to send him against the King of England, which was invading France (as you before have heard). This Fleming Perkin was not a little joyful of this message, thinking by this only request to be exalted into heaven, when he was called to the familiarity and acquaintance of Kings and Princes. And so with all diligence sailed into France, with a very small navy, not so small as smally furnished. And coming to the King’s presence was of him royally accepted, and after a princely fashion entertained, and had a guard to him assigned, whereof was governor the Lord Congreshal. And to him at Paris [Map] resorted Sir George Neville bastard, Syr John Taylor, Rowland Robinson and an hundred English rebels. But after that a peace, as before is said was appointed and concluded betwixt him and the King of England, the aid King Charles dismissed the young man, and would no longer keep him. But some men say which were there attending on him, that he fearing that King Charles, would deliver him to the King of England, beguiled the lord Congreshal, and fled away from Paris by night. But whether he departed without the French King’s consent or dis-assent, he demeaned in his expectation, and in manner in despair, returned again to the Lady Margaret his first foolish foundation.

Hall's Chronicle 1492. When this diabolical Duchess had framed her cloth mete for the market, and imagined that all things was ready and prepared for the confusion of King Henry, suddenly she was informed that the said King of England prepared a puissant army aganst Charles the French King. Then she considering the opportunity of the time, as who would say, a time wished and a day desired to achieve and bring to passe her olde malicious and cantarde inventions, which always nothing less minded than peace and tranquility, and nothing more desired than dissention, civil war and destruction of King Henry. Wherefore she sent Perkyn Werbeck, her new invented Mawmet first into Portugal, and so craftily into the realm of Ireland, to the intent that he being both witty and wily might move, inveigle and provoke the rude and rustic Irish nation (being more of nature euclyived [?] to rebellion then to reasonable order) to a new conflict and a seditious commotion. This worshipful Perkin, arriving in Ireland, whether it were more by his crafty wit, or by the malicious and beastly exhortation of the saltiage Irish governors, within short space entered so far into their favours, and so seriously persuaded and allured them to his purpose, that the greatest lords and princes of the country, adhibited such faith and credit to his words, as that thing had bene true in deed, which he untruly with false demonstrations set forth and divulged. And as though he had bene the very son of King Edward, they honoured, exalted and applauded him with all reverence and due honour, promising to him aid, comfort and assistance of all things to the feat of war, necessary and appertaining.

Polydore Vergil. A rumor came to Flanders that Peter had achieved nothing, but rather was in chains, and this brought Princess Margaret many tears, for she had spent many fearful nights waiting news of his doings. Having done these things with success, Henry, not unaware that the greatest enticement to wrongdoing is the hope of impunity, quickly held an inquisition so that he might henceforth keep his subjects loyal more easily. He discovered that there were many men, both in Devonshire and Someret, who had helped the Cornishmen with their money and provisions when they were undertaking this war, and afterwards when they were routed and fleeing homeward. And he decided to mulct these people of as much as they could pay, in proportion to the gravity of their offence. He assigned this responsibility to Sir Amyas Powlet, who soon thereafter was given Robert Scherburn, Dean of St. Paul's, as a colleague. They first swept like a gale through the fortunes of virtual the inhabitants of both counties, so that no man implicated in that capital affair could evade his deserved punishment. But they dealt more mildly with many men who had committed their misdeeds out of fear or compulsion, rather than free will.