How serious a threat was the Lambert Simnel rebellion to Henry VII's rule?
Background and Summary
- Henry had usurped Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. The nature of his usurpation meant he was vulnerable to a rising from Richard's loyal supporters. In fact, according to Turvey and Rodgers, 'almost inevitable.'
- For such a plan to be a success, they needed a replacement; a new Yorkist heir who they could base their plans around.
- There was a lack of a suitable genuine Yorkist decedent, however, so the only available option was to find a suitable (and believable?) candidate who could impersonate one of the Princes in the Tower, the rightful heir.
- Two pretenders who would be able to impersonate the Princes were Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel, both of which presenting a serious threat to Henry VII and the crown. This was further worsened by the fact that they were entangled in European affairs, and had gathered a fair amount of foreign interest and support, especially from Burgundy.
The Origins of Simnel's Rebellion
- As early as 1486, rumours were circulating about the fate of the Earl of Warwick, who would have had a legitimate claim to the throne. Some concluded that he must be dead, as he had not been seen for some time.
- A priest from Oxford (a traditionally Yorkist area), Richard Symonds, saw a striking resemblance between one of his pupils, Lambert Simnel, then ten years old, and the sons of Edward IV (the princes in the tower.) He decided to pass off Simnel as the younger of the brothers, Richard of York. Due to the rumours about Warwick that were circulating, however, he changed his mind and decided that Simnel, the son of a organ maker, should impersonate the Earl of Warwick instead.
- Symonds took Simnel to Ireland, a centre of Yorkist sympathy. When they arrived, the Lord Lieutenant, Earl of Kildare, and other Irish leaders readily accepted Simnel as Edward VI in Dublin.
- Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, also accepted Simnel. It is unclear (and unlikely!) if she actually believed Simnel was Warwick, but she was also keen to support any threat to Henry. She even sent a force of 2000 powerful German soldiers to Ireland. This even went as far as encouraging the Irish to crown Simnel as King Edward VI in Dublin in May 1587. The occasion was far from official and rather spontaneous. Even the crown was improvised, taking it from a nearby statue of the Virgin Mary. This makes one doubt how significant the event actually was!
- Henry didn't become aware of the unfolding conspiracy until January 1487. By February, Henry had declared a few minor nobles as traitors over the the scandal, and…