Sarah's Reviews > The Perfect Prince: The Mystery of Perkin Warbeck and His Quest for the Throne of England

The Perfect Prince by Ann Wroe
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's review
Mar 26, 2008

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Recommended for: people who like history or biography
Read in March, 2008

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 your personality, values and general manner reflected your stattion and these things were more instinctual than learned. This young man who tried to convince the world he was Richard, Duke of York, was probably the son of a Flemish boatman, proved that manners ar elearned and that anyone with a good brain and a certain amount of determination can be as "noble" as the next guy. While some people believed in him because it was politically useful, it is also clear that many believed in him sincerely.

In the end, he was caught and that is a lesson to how it may be easy to copy the manners of the nobility but it is difficult to find the inner strength of character and purpose that a person who makes decisions which can mean life or death to others must have. Richard or Peter or whoever he was was not able to lead people into battle or make snap strategic decisions or stick to the path he needed to follow in order to be successful.

Wroe's writing is clear and accessible. It can be hard to hang onto all the details of the story but I find that to be true of Medieval and Renaissance history in general because there was always so much going on. She does well explaining things and also examining all the different angles of the issue. The other thing abotu her analysis is that she does not take anyone's motives at face value. She leaves it up to the reader to decide who Richard/Peter was and why he was such a phenomonon.

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