Well, once again we have the painting of the two Princes in the Tower by Sir John Everett Millais. They look like frightened little angels, which, of course, is the traditional view of them. Nasty Uncle Richard, etc. etc. But it has never been proved that Richard did anything to them. He might even have had them taken away to safety. We will never know, and neither, it seems, did Henry VII, whose reign was blighted by fears of the return of one or both of them. And, of course, Yorkists claimants to his stolen throne did indeed turn up to make his usurper’s life difficult. The most important of these was “Perkin Warbeck”, who may or may not have been Prince Richard of York, as Ashdown-Hill’s research may answer for us soon.
Anyway, the paragraphs below are the relevant section of this article, in which Perkin is labelled as a ‘brass-necked imposter’, along with four other similar, um, frauds. Whether Perkin was an imposter or brass-necked is, as ever, in the eye of the beholder.
“….One of London’s earliest imposters emerged from the confusion surrounding what would become one of the city’s most enduring mysteries. Uncertainty has always existed over the fate of King Edward IV’s sons Edward and Richard, or the ‘Princes in the Tower’. They’d been next in line to the throne until their uncle, Richard III, declared them illegitimate and made himself king instead.
“….The boys had been living in the Tower of London but were never seen again after the summer of 1483, and it was often speculated that they had been murdered at Richard’s instructions. However, some believed it was plausible that one or both had escaped and gone into hiding elsewhere, and several years later, one person sought to capitalise on the belief in the possibility of a secret royal survivor.
“….A man named Perkin Warbeck emerged in 1490 (sic), claiming to be the younger son, Richard, and that his brother had been murdered, forcing him to go undercover for his own safety. Warbeck made a claim to the English throne and managed to convince some members of European royalty of his identity, including the future Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I. However, his various armed attempts to progress his claim in England did not meet with success, and he was eventually captured and handed over to Henry VII in 1497.
“….Ironically, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London itself, only being released when he confessed he was not actually one of the Princes in the Tower after all. While he was still allowed to attend the royal court, he remained under guard, which led him to make a number of escape attempts. He was eventually recaptured and locked up in the Tower again, before being executed at Tyburn in 1499….”
… on two of the major rebellions – Simnel and “Perkin” – against Henry VII. This article is from Voyager of History and we may soon be in a better position to know whether Richard of Shrewsbury could have been at Tyburn in 1499.
Anne Boleyn and then Katherine Howard thought they had married Henry VIII. Then he annulled them both, as he did with his first and fourth weddings, such that they were deemed to have been invalid from the start. However, he had these second and fifth Queens executed for treason in that they committed adultery whilst married to him, even whilst maintaining that they were not. Similarly, Henry absolutely insisted that the dispensation he obtained in made his first ceremony with Catalina de Aragon (above right) completely valid.
Perhaps Henry picked up this habit from his father who insisted that the rebel he sent to Tyburn in 1499 was guilty of treason, which could only apply if he was an English subject, whilst calling him “Perkin Warbeck” from the Low Countries?
Erwin Schrodinger (below left) would, of course understand perfectly. “My cat is alive and dead”. “Anne Boleyn and I were validly married and were not.” “”Perkin” was an English subject and a foreigner.“
Today in 1606, the last of the “Gunpowder Plotters”, including Guido Fawkes, were executed at Tyburn. Some had been put to death the previous day whilst others, including Robert Catesby, were shot at Holbeche House, resisting arrest, soon after the plot was discovered.
All of the executions were carried out by drawing, hanging and quartering yet the commemorations each November feature an effigy of Fawkes being burned.
The other advantages would be that the ceremony would still be practical in wet weather, that the effigy could be repaired and recycled for the following year and that small mammals such as hedgehogs would not be endangered.
It is not widely know that Richard II had a half-brother on his father’s side. This was Sir Roger of Clarendon, son of Edward of Woodstock ‘the Black Prince’ by one Edith de Willesford.
Roger was almost certainly older than Richard II. In 1372 he received an annuity from Edward III of £100. He was also married, but unfortunately his wife died in 1386, and there were no children. He does not appear to have married again.
Roger was left a silk bed in his father’s will. After the accession of Richard II, he became a Knight of the King’s Chamber. However, he does not appear to have attracted the attention of the King’s enemies in the upheavals of 1386-1388, so perhaps he was seen as a moderate, or was not regarded as a threat.
In 1398 a duel with another knight led to Roger being imprisoned. He obtained bail, but ran off when his opponent subsequently died, presumably because he thought he might be convicted of murder. This train of thought suggests he was not particularly close to Richard II, because a man in his position might reasonably expect a royal pardon for practically anything.
In 1402 he was arrested, accused of plotting against Henry IV. 1402 was a difficult year for Henry. Not only was the Glyndwr rising in full swing in Wales, but Edmund Mortimer had defected to the rebels. Henry even felt obliged to temporarily imprison a number of ladies on suspicion of treason – a rare event that hints at paranoia. Roger was linked to a conspiracy of certain friars to restore Richard II, who was still supposed to be alive in Scotland. His crime may have been nothing more than to believe his half-brother was alive and broadcast his opinion.
Roger was executed at Tyburn. So almost certainly by hanging, and quite possibly by the full sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering.
Most of us are familiar with the story of “Perkin Warbeck” and the letters he wrote back to the Low Countries. Depending on his identity, his parents hailed from there if he was an impostor or his aunt was Dowager Duchess of Burgundy if he was Richard of Shrewsbury, the former Duke of York and hitherto illegitimate son of Edward IV. In the decade leading up to his execution in autumn 1499, he had travelled widely, married Lady Katherine Gordon (James IV’s cousin), issued a proclamation of his rights and written various other letters. It seems to be a mantra of the Cairo dwellers, or have they reached Alexandria yet, that this proclamation refers to his kidnap and his brother’s (the erstwhile Edward V) death at the hands of “a certain lord”, an uncle who it later names as Richard III.
The most obvious question mark over this document is that later identification. Even if you assume that it was written whilst he was an untortured free man, you assume that he wasn’t portraying his brother Edward as dead for some complex reason or other (by-passing or protecting him) and you forget that Edward IV’s sons had many uncles, by birth or marriage, including Buckingham and St. Leger , alive in summer 1483, in which language was it written? Latin, which is quite likely, has separate words (patruus and avunculus respectively) for paternal and maternal uncles, which would help here. In Cairo, however, they assure us that the document is not in Latin and that “Perkin”‘s own hand names Richard III, “proving” that it is bad news for Richard whether “Perkin” is Shrewsbury or not.