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The White Rose Of England
by [?]

The wars of the White and the Red Roses were at an end, Lancaster had triumphed over York, Richard III., the last of the Plantagenets, had died on Bosworth field, and the Red Rose candidate, Henry VII., was on the throne. It seemed fitting, indeed, that the party of the red should bear the banners of triumph, for the frightful war of white and red had deluged England with blood, and turned to crimson the green of many a fair field. Two of the White Rose claimants of the throne, the sons of Edward IV., had been imprisoned by Richard III. in the Tower of London, and, so said common report, had been strangled in their beds. But their fate was hidden in mystery, and there were those who believed that the princes of the Tower still lived.

One claimant to the throne, a scion of the White Rose kings, Edward, Earl of Warwick, was still locked up in the Tower, so closely kept from human sight and knowledge as to leave the field open to the claims of imposture. For suddenly a handsome youth appeared in Ireland declaring that he was the Earl of Warwick, escaped from the Tower, and asking aid to help him regain the throne, which he claimed as rightfully his. The story of this boy is a short one; the end of his career fortunately a comedy instead of a tragedy. In Ireland were many adherents of the house of York. The story of the handsome lad was believed; he was crowned at Dublin,–the crown being taken from the head of a statue of the Virgin Mary,–and was then carried home on the shoulders of a gigantic Irish chieftain, as was the custom in green Erin in those days.

The youthful claimant had entered Ireland with a following of two thousand German soldiers, provided by Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward IV., who hated Henry VII. and all the party of Lancaster with an undying hatred. From Ireland he invaded England, with an Irish following added to his German. His small army was met by the king with an overpowering force, half of it killed, the rest scattered, and the young imposter taken captive.

Henry was almost the first king of Norman England who was not cruel by instinct. He could be cruel enough by calculation, but he was not disposed to take life for the mere pleasure of killing. He knew this boy to be an impostor, since Edward, Earl of Warwick, was still in the Tower. The astute king deemed it wiser to make him a laughing-stock than a martyr. He made inquiry as to his origin. The boy proved to be the son of a baker of Oxford, his true name Lambert Simnel. He had been tutored to play the prince by an ambitious priest named Simons. This priest was shut up in prison, and died there. As for his pupil, the king contemptuously sent him into his kitchen, and condemned him to the servile office of turnspit. Afterwards, as young Simnel showed some intelligence and loyalty, he was made one of the king’s falconers. And so ended the story of this sham Plantagenet.

Hardly had this ambitious boy been set to the humble work of turning a spit in the king’s kitchen, when a new claimant of the crown appeared,–a far more dangerous one. It is his story to which that of Lambert Simnel serves as an amusing prelude.

On one fine day in the year 1492–Columbus being then on his way to the discovery of America–there landed at Cork, in a vessel hailing from Portugal, a young man very handsome in face, and very winning in manners, who lost no time in presenting himself to some of the leading Irish and telling them that he was Richard, Duke of York, the second son of Edward IV. This story some of his hearers were not ready to believe. They had just passed through an experience of the same kind.