PERKIN – A Story of Deception. Author: Ann Wroe
In terms of an academic piece of historical research this work cannot be faulted. The thing that left me somewhat disappointed after reading 473 pages was that I was none the wiser as to whether young Perkin was real or fake. It was a bit like reading a Sherlock Holmes novel and finishing the final chapter without understanding who the perpetrator of the crime was.
This does not detract from a very well researched book with lots of reference to original sources. Ann Wroe really gets into the mind of Henry Tudor and we see how he operates; paranoia about the threat that Perkin poses, yes, but also how cautious and canny he is about his ensnarement and downfall. It’s amazing to think how much trouble a commoner caused a king.
My main purpose in buying the book was to understand the role that Sir Robert Clifford played in this plot and in that, the author goes into great detail. The only observation I would make is that she falls into the trap of many historians, and misunderstands why he was prepared to be implicated and then reconciled. The answer is quite simple, Clifford wanted to wreak revenge on his family’s sworn enemy, Sir William Stanley, and he brings about his downfall in a dramatic and masterful fashion.
In my opinion, for what it is worth, I think Perkin was the son of a Flemish boatman and not the long-lost Richard, Duke of York. But whoever he was, he certainly caused many a sleepless night for the newly crowned Tudor monarch, and Ann Wroe conveys that with aplomb.