In 1491, as Machiavelli advised popes and princes and Leonardo da Vinci astonished the art world, a young man boarded a ship in Portugal bound for Ireland. He would be greeted upon arrival as the rightful heir to the throne of England. The trouble was, England already had a king.
The most intriguing and ambitious pretender in history, this elegant young man was celebrated throughout Europe as the prince he claimed to be: Richard, Duke of York, the younger of the “Princes in the Tower” who were presumed to have been murdered almost a decade earlier. Handsome, well-mannered, and charismatic, he behaved like the perfect prince, and many believed he was one. The greatest European rulers of the age—among them the emperor Maximilian, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, and Charles VIII of France—used him as a diplomatic pawn to their own advantage. As such, he tormented Henry VII for eight years, attempting to invade England three times. Eventually, defeated and captured, he admitted to being Perkin Warbeck, the son of a common boatman from Flanders. But was this really the truth?
Ann Wroe, a historian and storyteller of the first rank, delves into the secret corners of the late medieval world to explore both the elusive nature of identity and the human propensity for deception. In uncovering the mystery of Perkin Warbeck, Wroe illuminates not only a life but an entire world trembling on the verge of discovery.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Religion eBook: The Perfect Prince|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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The Perfect Prince
The beginnings of his story, as he told it, lay deep in the turmoil of the recent history of England. For three decades, to the astonishment of foreigners, the crown had been wrestled back and forth between the Houses of Lancaster and York. Henry V, the glory of Lancaster and the victor of Agincourt, had been followed in 1422 by a child-king, Henry VI, who grew into a saintly fool at the mercy of his scheming lords. England quickly descended into factional warfare, with extraordinary slaughter of the nobility on both sides. In 1460 Richard, Duke of York, claiming descent from Edward III, tried to proclaim himself king but was rebuffed and, in short order, killed. The next year, his son defeated Henry in battle and was crowned as Edward IV at Westminster.
The claims of Lancaster had been blurred by bastardy in the fourteenth century; but those of York, too, were not secure. Edward was king de facto but not de jure. In recent history, the Yorkist line had passed twice through women; and Henry, besides, still lived. In 1470 Edward IV’s great rival, the Earl of Warwick, forced the king into exile in Flanders and brought the befuddled Henry out of prison. The restoration was short-lived. Edward was back within months, gathered supporters in the north, and early in 1471 recovered the crown. For some years afterward, comforted by this epitome of glorious kingship, the country calmed down. But Edward died in 1483 at the age of forty, leaving in the balance the fate of both England and his two child-sons, Edward and Richard, whose story this young man gave as his own.
He had told it repeatedly, and could do so now if you required it o