On this day… four years apart two people of importance to the story of King Richard III and his family died.
In 1499, the young man known to traditional history as ‘Perkin Warbeck’ was hanged in London as a traitor. Over the previous several years, he had been accused of ‘impersonating’ the younger of King Edward IV’s two sons, Richard of Shrewsbury, and had been imprisoned following two attempted invasions of England, a country then ruled by the usurper Henry Tudor as King Henry VII.
Four years later in 1503, Margaret of York, Richard III and Edward IV’s sister, duchess of Burgundy, died of natural causes in what is now Belgium. In the 1490s she had been instrumental in supporting and funding young Perkin’s invasions, as she had also been in supporting the invasion in 1487 of the so-called ‘Lambert SImnel’, who had been crowned King Edward of England and Ireland in Dublin earlier that year.
Henry Tudor named both these young men ‘impostors’, claiming they were both common-born boys who had no genuine claim to the throne of England. But were they? Or did they both have a very real claim on the basis of their birth as Plantagenets? If not, why was Margaret’s support for them both so steadfast?
An indomitable woman, Margaret was a thorn in Tudor’s side for many years. He must have breathed a sigh of relief when her end finally came.
A recent book by Matthew Lewis, The Survival of the Princes in the Tower, investigates the stories of so-called Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, exploring whether these two young men were indeed who Duchess Margaret apparently believed them to be . . . And another Matthew may also, one day, have something to say about them . . .