The Mischief-Maker

James IV: Using Perkin Warbeck to Embarrass Henry VII

Chapter 8 : End Game

Henry's victory at Blackheath had wider repercussions for Perkin Warbeck. James was growing tired of the amiable lad who talked well but lacked the true spirit of a king. His lack of taste for fighting undermined all the pretence. And he was also an expense James simply could not afford indefinitely. In the end, he had to pay to get rid of Perkin.

The pretender and his wife were packed off back to Ireland in a ship appropriately named the Cuckoo a month after Henry VII's victory at Blackheath. Their provisions and the fitting out of the ship cost James IV £150, more than Perkin's monthly pension.

It did not, of course, end well for Perkin. He made one last attempt to invade England, landing at Cornwall in September 1497. But this last throw of the dice for a young man who may have been so used, by then, to deception that even he was not entirely sure of who he was, failed.

Henry VII spared his life but when, in 1499, Perkin's claim was resurrected by Yorkist dissidents, the Tudor king decided the time had come to be rid of him and the innocent earl of Warwick, son of Edward IV;s brother, Clarence, a fellow-prisoner in the Tower. Both were executed. Lady Katherine Gordon stayed on at the English court, marrying several times more and eventually joining the household of Princess Mary, the elder daughter of Henry VIII.

Shortly after Perkin left Scotland, James IV signed a seven year truce with England. He had neither the men nor money to fight a full-scale war against the English and Henry VII was relieved to be at peace with his Scottish neighbour. Their relationship would now develop altogether differently. But that is another story.