Perkin Warbeck, the Great Pretender

By | March 20, 2019

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Pretender to the English throne Perkin Warbeck marches his rag-tag army up and down, 'The Comic History of England' by Gilbert Abbott A Beckett, John Leech, illustrations. [Bradbury, Agnew & Co, London, 1897]. Source: (

A great mystery in English royalty is the fate of the “two princes in the Tower.” Edward and Richard, ages 12 and 10, were both too young to take over the English throne when their father, King Edward IV, died in 1483, so the crown was to go to the King’s brother, Richard, Duke of York until the true heir became of age. The Duke had his nephews placed in the Tower of London to keep them safe until coronation day. But sometime in the summer of 1483, the young princes disappeared. Their fate remains a mystery. Several years later, however, a man showed up claiming to be the long-lost younger prince, Prince Richard. His name was Perkin Warbeck and he turned out to be a great pretender with ulterior motives. 

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The two princes of the Tower, the missing sons of King Edward IV, Richard and Edward. Source: (

A Royal Claim

Perkin Warbeck showed up at the royal court of Burgundy in 1490 and made a fantastic claim. He said he was the younger of the two lost princes, Richard, and he was ready to reclaim the English throne. He told a plausible story, that his older brother had been murdered long ago, but he was spared because of his tender age. The assailants sent him to live on the European continent with a Yorkist loyalist but instructed him to not reveal his true identity until much later. But his guardian had gone to England, leaving him alone. It was then that Warbeck decided to announce to the court who he really was.