Did Perkin Warbeck and his supporters pose a significant danger to Henry VII?
The origins of the Warbeck rebellion (A Summary)
- In autumn 1491, Warbeck, a 17 year old from Tournai in France, arrived in Cork, Ireland on the ship of his master, who was a Breton silk merchant. The townsfolk of Cork were impressed by Warbeck, and mistook him to be the Earl of Warwick, as rumours were still circulating about his whereabouts. Warbeck denied this, claiming instead to be Richard, Duke of York, who was presumed to have been murdered in the tower, although this was never actually proved, allowing speculation to take place.
- The know figures behind Perkin Warbeck were believed to be of humble origin, but some historians have suggested otherwise. Professor Chrimes believes that Warbeck appearing in the Yorkist stronghold of Ireland was 'no unpremeditated accident but was the first overt action in the unfolding of definite plan.' He says it that it was probable Charles VIII, King of France, and also Margaret of Burgundy, wished to use the pretender, Warbeck, to blackmail Henry, and use Warbeck as a bargaining tool, if he became anti-French over the Breton crisis.
- There is no doubt that Warbeck was a total fake, confessing everything about his background on the Scaffold, yet he still caused a great deal of difficulty for the King over several years.
Support for Warbeck
- In the notorious trouble spots of Ireland, Scotland and France, Warbeck's cause attracted a great deal of international recognition. In the Summer of 1492. Charles VIII welcomed Warbeck into the French Court, and 100 English Yorkists joined him in Paris. However after the Treaty of Etaples with France, Warbeck had to seek new refuge. He fled to Flanders, and Margaret of Burgundy, who was always keen to act against Henry VII, welcomed him as her own nephew.
- We know that Henry saw Warbeck as a serious threat, as he temporarily broke of all trade with Flanders in protests. This was a big blow as it jeopardised trade with the main cloth trading centre of Europe, Antwerp, and was vital to the English economy. He would have only done this if the situation was grave.
- Margaret of Burgundy was not the most influential supporter of Warbeck. The newly elected Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian, recognised the pretender as King Richard IV in 1494, but didn't have the available resources to invade England and fight the case of Warbeck.
- When Charles VIII invaded Italy in 1494, Europe's attention was directed Southwards from the Tudor, dynasty, and Henry was able to concentrate solely on the revolt without fear of a foreign invasion.
- His extensive networks had informed him who was involved both at home and abroad, and the 1495 parliament passed a number of acts of attainder against these men, amongst which was Sir William Stanley, Henry's step uncle who had changed the…