Lady Katherine Gordon – Wife to Perkin Warbeck

Reblogged from A medieval Potpourri sparkypus.com

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St Michaels Mount.  ‘A Strong Place and Mighty’  wrote Warkworth in his Chronicle. Perkin left Katherine and their son here prior to his march to Exeter.  Note the causeway.  Thanks to John Starkey @ Flikr for this atmospheric photo.

It may seem prima facie that Katherine was a tragic figure, and perhaps she was for a while, but a further delve into her story and it becomes apparent that this lady was the epitome of a survivor.  

Born into Scottish aristocracy around  1474, depending on who her mother was,   she was  kinswoman to James IV.  Her father was George Gordon Second Earl Huntley, described as the ‘most powerful Lord in Scotland below the King himself’.  There is some confusion which has long plagued historians  as to the identity of her mother, who could have either been Annabella Stewart, a daughter of James I and his English wife Joan Beaufort,  or his third wife, Lady Elizabeth Hay, the sister of the Earl of Erroll (1).  However the consensus of opinion does seem to be that her mother was Elizabeth Hay.  This is of some importance which I shall come to later.  

Around the time of Perkin’s arrival in Scotland in November 1495  James paid the enormous sum of £108.17s.6d for fifteen and a quarter ells of crimson satin brocaded with gold and fifteen ells of velvet to be delivered ‘My Lady Huntly in Edinburgh‘ which would appear to have been for a gown suitable for her to meet the young man who was to become her husband,  Perkin Warbeck,  who as we we know was presenting himself as Richard Duke of York, son to the late Edward IV and one of the “Princes in the Tower”.   With her noble linage she was ‘the closest and noblest woman of marriageable age whom James could offer‘ (2). In a time when all ladies of nobility seem to have been routinely  described as beautiful it would seem there is this time a fair chance  that Katherine was exactly that.  No doubt Perkin, for I shall call him that although he may well have been Richard, was totally smitten and perhaps she for him.  Certainly there was no procrastinating for the couple  were  swiftly betrothed and married on the 13 January 1496 with a child being born in September.   The wedding sounds as if it were sumptuous with Perkin in an outfit made up from fourteen and a half yards of white damask which had cost £28,  his six servants also suitable attired in outfits of damask, his two trumpeters in gowns of tawny cloth and red hose (3). How splendid it all must have been and how promising.    What could possibly go wrong?

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1 comment

  1. Great article. If only someone could stumble upon some lost papers that would make it so much plainer to know if Perkin really was young Richard. I like to think he was, but liking the idea of something doesn’t make it correct!

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