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Portugal with the lady Brampton, an English lady, that embarked for Portugal at that time; with some privado of her own, to have an eye upon him, and there he was to remain, and to expect her farther directions. In the mean time she omitted not to prepare things for his better welcome and accepting, not only in the kingdom of Ireland, but in the court of France. He continued in Portugal about a year; and by that time the King of England called his parliament, as hath been said, and declared open war against France. Now did the sign reign, and the constellation was come, under which Perkin should appear. And therefore he was straight sent unto by the duchess to go for Ireland, according to the first designment. In Ireland he did arrive at the town of Cork. When he was thither come, his own tale was, when he made his confession afterwards, that the Irishmen, finding him in some good clothes, came flocking about him, and bare him down that he was the duke of Clarence that had been there before. And after, that he was Richard the third's base son. And lastly, that he was Richard duke of York, second son to Edward the fourth. But that he, for his part, renounced all these things, and offered to swear upon the holy Evangelists, that he was no such man; till at last they forced it upon him, and bad him fear nothing, and so forth. But the truth is, that immediately upon his coming into Ireland, he took upon him the said person of the duke of York, and drew unto him complices and partakers by all the means he could devise. Insomuch as he wrote his letters unto the earls of Desmond and Kildare, to come in to his aid, and be of his party; the originals of which letters are yet extant.
Somewhat before this time, the duchess had also gained unto her a near servant of King Henry's own, one Stephen Frion, his secretary for the French tongue; an active man, but turbulent and discontented. This Frion had fled over to Charles, the French King, and put himself into his service, at such time as he began to be in open enmity with the King. Now King Charles, when he understood of the person and attempts of
Perkin, ready of himself to embrace all advantages against the King of England, instigated by Frion, and formerly prepared by the lady Margaret, forthwith dispatched one Lucas and this Frion, in the nature of ambassadors to Perkin, to advertise him of the King's good inclination to him, and that he was resolved to aid him to recover his right against King Henry, an usurper of England, and an enemy of France; and wished him to come over unto him at Paris. Perkin thought himself in heaven now that he was invited by so great a King in so honourable a manner. And imparting unto his friends in Ireland for their encouragement, how fortune called him, and what great hopes he had, sailed presently into France. When he was come to the court of France, the King received him with great honour; saluted, and stiled him by the name of the duke of York; lodged him, and accommodated him in great state. And the better to give him the representation and the countenance of a prince, assigned him a guard for his person, whereof the lord Congresall was captain. The courtiers likewise, though it be ill mocking with the French, applied themselves to their King's bent, seeing there was reason of state for it. At the same time there repaired unto Perkin divers Englishmen of quality; Sir George Neville, Sir John Taylor, and about one hundred more; and amongst the rest, this Stephen Frion, of whom we spake, who followed his fortune both then and for a long time after, and was indeed his principal counsellor and instrument in all his proceedings. But all this on the French King's part was but a trick, the better to bow King Henry to peace. And therefore upon the first grain of incense, that was sacrificed upon the altar of peace at Boloign, Perkin was smoked away. Yet would not the French King deliver him up to King Henry, as he was laboured to do, for his honour's sake, but warned him away and dismissed him. And Perkin on his part was as ready to be gone, doubting he might be caught up under-hand. He therefore took his way into Flanders, unto the duchess of Burgundy; pretending that having been variously tossed by fortune, he di
rected his course thither as to a safe harbour: no ways taking knowledge that he had ever been there before, but as if that had been his first address. The duchess, on the other part, made it as new, and strange to see him; pretending, at the first, that she was taught and made wise by the example of Lambert Simnel, how she did admit of any counterfeit stuff; though even in that, she said, she was not fully satisfied. She pretended at the first, and that was ever in the presence of others, to pose him and sift him, thereby to try whether he were indeed the very duke of York or no. But seeming to receive full satisfaction by his answers, she then feigned herself to be transported with a kind of astonishment, mixt of joy and wonder, at his miraculous deliverance; receiving him as if he were risen from death to life: and inferring, that God, who had in such wonderful manner preserved him from death, did likewise reserve him for some great and prosperous fortune. As for his dismission out of France, they interpreted it not, as if he were detected or neglected for a counterfeit deceiver; but contrariwise, that it did shew manifestly unto the world, that he was some great matter; for that it was his abandoning that, in effect, made the peace; being no more but the sacrificing of a poor distressed Prince unto the utility and ambition of two mighty monarchs. Neither was Perkin, for his part, wanting to himself, either in gracious or princely behaviour, or in ready and apposite answers, or in contenting and caressing those that did apply themselves unto him, or in pretty scorn and disdain to those that seemed to doubt of him; but in all things did notably acquit himself; insomuch as it was generally believed, as well amongst great persons, as amongst the vulgar, that he was indeed duke Richard. Nay, himself, with long and continual counter feiting, and with oft telling a lye, was turned by habit almost into the thing he seemed to be; and from a liar to a believer. The duchess therefore, as in a case out of doubt, did him all princely honour, calling him always by the name of her nephew, and giving him the delicate title of the white rose of England and appointed him a guard of thirty persons, halberdiers, clad
in a party-coloured livery of murrey and blue, to attend his person. Her court likewise, and generally the Dutch and strangers, in their usage towards him, ́expressed no less respect.
The news hereof came blazing and thundering over into England, that the duke of York was sure alive. As for the name of Perkin Warbeck, it was not at that time come to light, but all the news ran upon the duke of York; that he had been entertained in Ireland, bought and sold in France, and was now plainly avowed, and in great honour in Flanders. These fames took hold of divers; in some upon discontent; in some upon ambition; in some upon levity and desire of change; in some few upon conscience and belief; but in most upon simplicity; and in divers out of dependence upon some of the better sort, who did in secret favour and nourish these bruits. And it was not long ere these rumours of novelty had begotten others of scandal and murmur against the King and his government, taxing him for a great taxer of his people, and discountenancer of his nobility. The loss of Britain, and the peace with France, were not forgotten. But chiefly they fell upon the wrong that he did his queen, in that he did not reign in her right. Wherefore they said, that God had now brought to light a masculine branch of the house of York, that would not be at his courtesy, howsoever he did depress his poor lady. And yet, as it fareth in the things which are current with the multitude, and which they affect, these fames grew so general, as the authors were lost in the generality of speakers. They being like running weeds that have no certain root; or like footings up and down impossible to be traced; but after a while these ill humours drew to an head, and settled secretly in some eminent persons; which were, Sir William Stanley, lord chamberlain of the King's houshold, the lord Fitzwalter, Sir Simon Mountfort, and Sir Thomas Thwaites. These entered into a secret conspiracy to favour duke Richard's title. Nevertheless none engaged their fortunes in this business openly, but two: Sir Robert Clifford, and master William Barley, who sailed over into Flanders, sent
indeed from the party of the conspirators here, to understand the truth of those things that passed there, and not without some help of moneys from hence; provisionally to be delivered, if they found and were satisfied, that there was truth in these pretences. The person of Sir Robert Clifford, being a gentleman of fame and family, was extremely welcome to the lady Margaret. Who after she had conference with him, brought him to the sight of Perkin, with whom he had often speech and discourse. So that in the end, won either by the duchess to affect, or by Perkin to believe, he wrote back into England, that he knew the person of Richard duke of York, as well as he knew his own, and that this young man was undoubtedly he. By this means all things grew prepared to revolt and sedition here, and the conspiracy came to have a correspondence between Flanders and England.
The King on his part was not asleep; but to arm or levy forces yet, he thought would but shew fear, and do this idol too much worship. Nevertheless the ports he did shut up, or at least kept a watch on them, that none should pass to or fro that was suspected: but for the rest, he chose to work by countermine. His purposes were two; the one to lay open the abuse; the other, to break the knot of the conspirators. To detect the abuse, there were but two ways; the first, to make it manifest to the world that the duke of York was indeed murdered; the other, to prove that were he dead or alive, yet Perkin was a counterfeit. For the first, thus it stood. There were but four persons that could speak upon knowledge to the murder of the duke of York; Sir James Tirrel, the employed man from King Richard, John Dighton and Miles Forrest his servants, the two butchers or tormentors, and the priest of the Tower that buried them. Of which four, Miles Forrest and the priest were dead, and there remained alive only Sir James Tirrel and John Dighton. These two the King caused to be committed to the Tower, and examined touching the manner of the death of the two innocent princes. They agreed both in a tale, as the King gave out to this effect: That King Richard having directed