The Perfect Prince: The Mystery of Perkin Warbeck and His Quest for the Throne of England
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The Perfect Prince: The Mystery of Perkin Warbeck and His Quest for the Throne of England

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  155 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Set in the fascinating years of the Renaissance, "The Perfect Prince" follows one of the strangest pretenders of all time, with a most unexpected conclusion.
Hardcover, 610 pages
Published October 21st 2003 by Random House (first published 2003)
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Jerry A.
I was shocked the first time I found negative online reviews of this book. For all Wroe's rich command of detail, I thought the basic story "The Perfect Prince" told was compelling, the thinking and behavior of all the different historical figures well-explained, and the writing lyrical and moving (the passage about Perkin's passage into the afterlife at the end sent chills down my spine). And as many complaints as I have read about the book's digressions, I found them to be the best part. For i...more
It does help if you have a grounding in Tudor history before you read this book. Keep in mind, as other reviews have pointed out, it is not a linear narrative. It isn't really a biography, more like a close look at a time and the mystery that occured there. Wroe does not chose a side for her mystery. She, in fact, seems, to be doing her best just to present the mystery. She is far more interested in how Warbeck influenced by simply being those in power. Well wroth a read.

A fairly average read which was interesting in parts but struck me as somewhat fanciful in others. It's also not the most concise biography you will ever read, with the known facts about Perkin Warbeck seemingly taking up little space compared to the endless background information and author speculation.
Probably the best historical biography I've ever read, bar none, and the fact that it's about a figure as shadowy and mysterious as Perkin Warbeck/Richard, Duke of York only makes it more impressive. The book really brings the medieval world to life through Wroe's wonderful writing - she doesn't just write about what people did, what they ate, what they wore, but how they would have thought and felt. She never comes down to a side as to whether 'Perkin' really was the son of Edward IV or a boatm...more
Kate Millin
I found this book quite dense and difficult to read for long periods (although some of that might have been the fact that I was unwell). The information about Perkin was interesting, but I felt there was a lot of padding about other things that were happening, or possibly happening that were not needed and which made following the main thread about Perking himself difficult to follow. The author also makes no conclusions about the truth of Perkins claims, but does seem quite balanced in her appr...more
A very well-written book about a little-know part of British history. The standard (official) history says that Richard III had the two princes killed in the tower of London, and that the wars of the Roses left the Tudors firmly on the throne of England with no major dynastic concerns. This book shows that not only did Henry VII (Tudor) have several major rebellions and intrigues, but that it is possible that one of the two princes didn't die in the Tower (thus leaving alive the "rightful" heir...more
For people interested in the beginning of the Tudor dynasty in England (or interested in the demise of the Plantagenents), this is a very interesting book and not something that is generally mentioned in history books concerning those times.

No one knows what happened to the Princes in the Tower. When King Edward IV died, he had 2 young sons who were lodged in the Tower by their uncle who became Richard III. At the time, the Tower was not primarily a prison but one of the Royal residences, so the...more
Another feigned lad. Così, con un tono che mi piace immaginare stanco, Enrico VII parlava del nuovo pretendente che, dieci anni dopo Lambert Simnel, era sbarcato in Inghilterra per riprendersi il trono. Nel 1497 erano passati dodici anni da Bosworth Field.
Simnel, che si fingeva Edward of Warwick (figlio del duca di Clarence che era in realtà tenuto sotto chiave nella Torre di Londra) venne sconfitto e potè apprezzare la magnanimità del re che, invece di giustiziarlo, lo spedì nelle cucine reali....more
Jamie Adair
The Perfect Prince is the story of Perkin Warbeck

Wroe brings out many intriguing details, such as, did you know that Warbeck and his wife lived in Henry VII's household after he was captured. This seems odd given he was a supposed traitor. Why not the tower or the scaffold?

Wroe's writing in some places is positively lyrical. She describes

While I realize many people hated this book, I still recommend it for anyone interested in Henry VII's reign or interested in, perhaps, Margaret of Burgundy.

This work is an excellent piece of historical research and detection, where the author unlocks many of the mysteries surrounding the emergence of the pretender to the throne, Perkin Warbeck. Wroe reveals that less than a week after placing his youngest nephew in the Tower in June 1483, Richard had their bloodline declared invalid due to the illegitimacy of their parents’ marriage. It was claimed that their father Edward IV had been contracted to marry another noblewoman before choosing a Wydevil...more
This book came highly recommended by members of the Richard III Society, American Branch (of which I am a member). Yes, Ms. Wroe goes into great detail and at times seems to be going off on a tangent, but then she pulls everything back into a cohesive whole. It is also extremely readable, often more like reading a novel than a scholarly biography.

As someone who has long been interested in the people and events involved in the era known as The Wars of the Roses, and in all things concerning Rich...more
When this book finally ended, I found myself confused about why it had dragged so horribly on through six months of reading. The topic is undeniably fascinating--on par with Russia's "lost" Romanovs, this book tells the story of England's lost royalty, Princes Edward and Richard. Despite the extremely interesting topic of a returning prince (or is he?), the book was, quite plainly, dull. It took me half a year to get through and it was only by forcing myself that I did finally finish it. The wri...more
Elizabeth Ashworth
This book has given me so much to think about. It seems that the old stories of the 'pretenders to the throne' that I was taught at school may be too simplistic and possibly not even true. This book is beautifully written and immaculately researched and it has made me believe that 'Perkin Warbeck' was a convenient name given by Henry VII to a young man who could actually have been Richard, Duke of York.

This is a reference book which I will return to again and again. It's one that I enjoyed read...more
Wow. One of the best histories I have ever read. Period. It's largely speculative in nature, due to the lack of documentary evidence of late 15th century royal intrigue, but the author has such a detailed understanding of the period and the places and the people involved, and she is such a skilled writer, that it is both a wonderful story and a great mystery. Loved it.
I loved it, although I'm not sure it is history as much as channeling.
I so badly wanted to love this book. The princes are far too fascinating to ever be considered a boring subject.

Unfortunately Wroe is simply not a great writer. Far too many suppositions, presuming what these people might have been thinking 500 years ago. I will say that when she is sticking to facts, I take far less issue with her writing. But when she meanders around and goes off the deep end for a few lines, no thank you.

You can't help but feel bad for this young man, whoever he might have be...more
Mar 26, 2008 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like history or biography
This book was quite good although it was long and quite detailed. It is about a man who said that he was one of the princes in the tower whom Richard III imprisoned and (most likely) had killed. He appeared on the scene about 10 years after Richard III was killed at the the Battle of Bosworth and tried to overthrow Henry VII and become King of England.

In the Middles Ages and the Renaissance, people believed that one's station in life was natural. Not just that one was born to it but also that yo...more
Its dense and sluggish at times, but ultimately what you have is a story about a man no one really knows, and how he is molded and shaped by people and events outside of himself; so much so that his own identity and sense of self seem to disappear (assuming they were there to begin with). It's incredibly sad, but its a pretty riveting story nonetheless. The author goes to great lengths to show not only who this man may (or may not) have been, but also the world he, and all the monarchs and ordin...more
If only every historical biography was like this! This is probably the best I've ever read, bar none, and the fact that it's about a figure as shadowy and mysterious as Perkin Warbeck/Richard, Duke of York only makes it more impressive.

The book really brings the medieval world to life through Wroe's wonderful writing - she doesn't just write about what people did, what they ate, what they wore, but how they would have thought and felt. It's about the medieval mind and mood, as much as it is abou...more
I really wanted to make this book work, but the writing style and approach of the author was difficult to read. She bounced back and forth so many times, the story did not progress. I've read lengthy non-fiction books that move well because the author has the ability to write in a way that flows well. This did not and I literally would fall asleep reading this.
Heyrebekah Alm
I thought the topic of this book was fascinating--sort of a royal version of The Return of Martin Guerre which I read a few months ago. A boatman's son convinces a great many people that he is truly one of the lost princes in the tower and leads a revolt against Henry VII. Did anyone really believe him, or were they just using him for their own agendas? It was interesting to learn more about Henry VII, as he is always rather overshadowed by his son in my impressions of Tudor England. The writing...more
Margaret Sankey
Wroe takes on one of the great mysteries of late medieval England--not who was Perkin Warbeck (we know that part), but HOW was an impostor able to pass himself off as one of the Princes in the Tower? By illuminating the later 15th century world-- the nobles who wanted something non-Tudor to rally around, the psychological mechanics of deception, learned habits of the nobility made possible by Renaissance social mobility, clever ways of presenting himself, early modern failings of portraiture as...more
Sue Robinson
I'm ashamed to say that I gave up on this book. Probably not a good choice to read when you are unwell.
Andrea Willers
I found the book confusing. I felt depressed that the name Perkin Warbeck had to be mentioned. Henry Tudor had given Richard of York a false name and identity because he posed a bigger threat to Henrys throne.
Wroe follows the stories and facts related to Perkin Warbeck (name of the day!), who claimed to be one of the lost (and presumably murdered) sons of Edward IV.

Henry VII had him "questioned" and it eventually came out that he was actually a common Belgian. The nerve.

What's fascinating is just how far he made it in the ruse, and some historians argue that he half-believed he had royal blood himself.
Ellen Ekstrom
Great book - a wonderful, concise history of one of the greatest mysteries to come out of one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time. While reading it, I couldn't get Mark Umbers' portrayal of Richard, Duke of York from "The Princes in the Tower" out of my mind.
Thoroughly recommend this book if one is interested in the years following Richard the Third's death at Redmore Plain.
so far i'm really liking this book. i'm about 1/3 the way through. what i've found is that you cannot read this as a story (it isn't), you cannot read this as a narrative of events - you need to read this as an essay about the supposed Prince and the times. for someone who is well versed in York and beginning Tudor history it's a great read.

i'll update when i've finished the book.
Laura Jordan
An enchanting and marvelous book. Aside from Huizinga's The Waning of the Middle Ages, I've never read a book that so accurately captured the essence of the fifteenth century. At times Wroe gets a little bogged down in detail (a list of all the important figures in the book would have been useful), but at others, it reads like a lyrical novel.
Hmm, I didn't notice the page count before I ordered this. I'm interested in Warbeck, but I'm not sure I'm 600 pages worth of interested.

ETA March 2013: I started this, but the first couple of chapters were rambling and poetical, which is not really what I want in a history book. Put aside to try again later.
Pete daPixie
Wroe has sifted through such a wealth of material covering the enigma that was and is Perkin Warbeck. The mystery remains, obscured by clouds of Tudor history makers.
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Ann Wroe is a journalist and author - working as Briefings and Obituaries editor of The Economist. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Royal Society of Literature and the English Association.
More about Ann Wroe...
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