Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Question from Stacey - Henry VII and Perkin Warbeck

I just finished Philippa Gregory's "The White Princess". Part of the book is about the time that Perkin Warbeck spent at the court of Henry VII & that he was given an allowance, treated well & was basically free to come & go. Is this correct? Henry had believed that Warbeck was a huge threat, so why would he allow him at court? Was Henry VII really in love with Warbeck's wife? If so, why didn't he marry her? (sorry for so many questions)


  1. Have you read Ann Wroe's 'Perkin'? She goes into some detail about Henry's rather strange treatment of Warbeck.

  2. I haven't! I will look into that. Thank you, Marilyn R.

  3. I know this is late, but if I were you, I would actually ignore Phillippa Gregory as though she does have a PhD, it is in literature, not history. She is really not a good source for historical fact: for example, though it is true that Jacquetta of Luxembourg was accused of witchcraft, it is also true that most likely she was accused for political reasons, and highly unlikely that she was actually a witch.

    Regarding her take on Elizabeth of York, I would give her an F. One of the first things she does is she has Henry Tudor rape Elizabeth. This is not likely as if Henry had tried that he'd quickly find that all Elizabeth had to do was complain to the right people that she'd been violated by the conqueror and his head would be on a pike faster than you can say, "All Hail John De La Pole, now John II of England!" More likely is that Prince Arthur was premature as the books do record him as being small at birth. Other than that, she paints Margaret Beaufort as a complete lunatic: oddsbodkins, being religiously inclined does not equal being out of one's mind! Margaret was smart as a whip, and though pious she didn't see herself as St. Jerome come back from the dead!

    As for Perkin Warbeck, I suspect that King Henry wanted to lure the man into a trap. Remember, he had a lot of followers and just crushing him outright might've made Henry Tudor just that much more unpopular with the masses and caused him yet more headaches with mass uprisings. I also suspect that Richard of Shrewsbury indeed was dead or at least believed dead by Elizabeth, on whose counsel and account of the events of the summer of 1483 her husband would have depended.

  4. I agree with Anonymous - I thought White Princess was rubbish and didn't finish it. Read Tudor Rose which was published in the 1950s but deals with Perkin.

  5. I enjoyed the book and read it as fiction. As such she has the freedom to develop characters as she imagines them, explore unproven theories, and generally weave a fascinating story BASED on fact. At the end in the notes Gregory states that her views are not all proven fact. Have you ever heard of "artistic license?" If you want facts, there are many good works out there, but even facts are subject to interpretation. Not rubbish, say I, but a good read!


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