Perkin Warbeck was a pretender to the throne of King Henry VII
, the second
the King would face in his reign.
It is still unknown whether Warbeck was part of a larger ploy masterminded by Margaret of Burgundy, Edward IV's sister, or he merely stumbled on the opportunity available to him by chance.
Either way, when he was in Cork, Ireland in 1491, he began to cultivate a rumour that he was in fact Richard, the younger son of Edward IV who it is claimed was murdered in the tower by Richard III as part of the coup he executed with such skill.
In 1492, Warbeck was in the court of Charles VIII of France. Yorkist supporters come to Paris with him. Having already suffered the indignation of one pretender, Henry VII is rather keen to avert the threat of this one. He manages to broker a deal with the French, the Treaty of Etaples, which includes a clause forbidding the French from harbouring English rebels. Warbeck was forced to flee to Burgundy, where he takes up residence in the court of his supposed aunt, Margaret.
Henry is so keen to get shot of Warbeck that he breaks off all trade with Flanders - a move at least as damaging to his own merchants as the Flemish. However, his problems are further expediated when the new Holy Roman Emperor, who happens to be Margaret of Burgundy's son-in-law, recognises Warbeck as Richard IV of England!
This embargo on Burgundian trade would not produce results until 1496, and this was enough time for them to provide support for an aboritve invasion of England. In July of 1495 Warbeck landed with supporters in Deal, Kent but was soon forced away by a lack of local support. By this point, an agreement that would later be known as the Magnus Intercursus was reached with the Low Countries (including Burgundy), and Margaret of Burgundy was forced to comply with an anti-Yorkist policy. The Holy Roman Emperor also had other interests now, namely the Italian Wars.
Thus, Warbeck was forced to look to Ireland and Scotland for help. Ireland was now bound by legislation which meant it could conduct no business not authorised by London - and the Earl of Kildare, who had supported Warbeck, was now in the tower. Warbeck attempted to seize the town of Waterford by force but was repelled, and left for Scotland.
It is possible King James IV of Scotland thought Warbeck was 'the genuine article'. He receives the promise of James' cousin's hand in marriage, and money amounting to around £1,200 a year. The Scottish make two border raids into England in 1496 and 1497, both of which are disastrous as the northern counties fail to rise in support of the pretender.
After the second attempted raid, Warbeck finally surrenders to Henry VII, who mercifully allows him and his Scottish bride to stay in his court. For some insane reason, Warbeck attempts to escape in 1498, and is placed in the stocks and then sent to the Tower. In 1499 he is finally executed amid allegations of further conspiration.