[Footnote:13 From Catalonia by the sea-coast to Fontarabia in Biscay.]
[Footnote 14: Identified with Dominica.]
[Footnote 15: Supposed to be Martinique.]
[Footnote 16: March 14, 1493.]
[Footnote 17: The name given by Marco Polo to an island or islands supposed to be the modern Japan, for outlying portions of which Columbus mistook the West Indies.]
Soon after his accession to the throne of England, Henry VII married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, uniting the rival houses of York and Lancaster. But notwithstanding this adjustment of the rival interests, the rule of Henry, the Lancastrian, failed to satisfy the Yorkists; and this party, with the aid of Margaret of Burgundy—sister of Edward IV—and James IV of Scotland, set up two impostors, one after the other, to claim the English throne. At the same time there was living a real heir of the house of York—young Edward, Earl of Warwick, son of the Duke of Clarence, brother to Edward IV. Henry had taken the precaution to keep this genuine Yorkist in the Tower.
In 1487 a spurious earl of Warwick appeared in Ireland. Receiving powerful support in that country, he was actually crowned in the Cathedral of Dublin. In order to defeat this imposture Henry exhibited the real earl to the people of London. He also vanquished the army of the pretender at Stoke, in June, 1487. This false earl was found to be Lambert Simnel, son of an Oxford joiner. He became a scullion in King Henry’s kitchen.
The second of these impostors, known as Perkin Warbeck, contrived to make himself a figure of some importance in the history of England. Supposedly born in Flanders, he first appears upon the historic stage in 1492, when he landed at Cork. Going soon after to France, he was recognized by the court as Duke of York, according to his claim. How he was coached for his part, and how the drama in which he played it was acted out, are told by Bacon in what is perhaps the best specimen we have of that great author’s style in historical composition.
Warbeck was executed in 1499, and, although Bacon gives us no dates, the whole history, covering about seven years, may be said to form a practically continuous series of incidents. The character of this adventurer has been made quite prominent in literature, having been the subject of Ford’s tragedy, The Chronicle History of Perkin Warbeck (1634), of a play by Charles Macklin, King Henry VII, or the Popish Impostor (1716), and of Joseph Elderton’s drama, The Pretender.
This youth of whom we are now to speak was such a mercurial as the like hath seldom been known, and could make his own part if at any time he chanced to be out. Wherefore, this being one of the strangest examples of a personation that ever was in elder or later times, it deserveth to be discovered and related at the full—although the King’s manner of showing things by pieces and by dark lights hath so muffled it that it hath been left almost as a mystery to this day.