This summer marks two years since I wrote and published a short ebook on Ralph Wilford. Not familiar with the name? Don’t worry, most people aren’t (including myself until I delved into his “rebellion” in more detail). I have previously posted an overview of Ralph Wilford, as well as uploaded posts relating to the process of creating the ebook.
Here is a short summary from the previous overview:
Wilford came into Kent to declare himself the real Earl of Warwick; Warwick himself was locked up in the Tower of London and within his veins ran the strongest royal blood and therefore claim to the English crown. A blood that was stronger than that of any Tudor, which is why Henry had the strong sense to lock Warwick up when coming to power in 1485. However, despite the incarceration, various pretenders popped up claiming to be the Earl, such as Lambert Simnel in 1486-87, and then later Wilford at the end of the 1490s.
Back in the 1480s Henry allowed Lambert Simnel to live on, with the former pretender becoming a hand in the royal kitchens. However, Wilford was not to be as lucky. After his appearance in Kent he was quickly arrested and then executed, with Henry ridding himself of another pretender in a brutal manner. Perhaps the years of dealing with such threats (notably that of another pretender, Perkin Warbeck) had worn away at Henry’s patience. However, other historians – such as Ashdown-Hill – believe that the whole Wilford incident was concocted by Henry to provide him with a platform to act in a brutal manner to those he had imprisoned (which included Warwick as well as Perkin Warbeck). For after ridding himself of Wilford, he later executed both Warwick and Warbeck on trumped up charges.
I became interested in this forgotten pretender. Most historians focus on the “big guns” of Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, but I found that this ignored episode formed an important shift in Henry VII’s reign in the late 1490s. As such, I ended up spending the summer researching and writing up the short ebook (amounting to less than 10,000 words). Since the summer of 2019 it has been on Amazon, to be purchased or read by others. Since that point I had it in my mind to reduce the cost (a mere 99p) to make it freely available, and whilst doing so I would post up the chapters on this blog.
So, here is the first post, with five chapters to follow. Below is the introduction to Ralph Wilford: Henry VII’s Forgotten Pretender:
Edmund Burke is reputed to have written that ‘those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it’. However, what about the events in history that have become forgotten, thereby obscuring both the past and blocking attempts to learn from its history?
This short eBook has been written with the intention of uncovering an intriguing and forgotten episode of Tudor history, in order to ask new questions to help build our appreciation and understanding. The rebellion of Ralph Wilford is entirely ignored by the various textbooks and teaching specifications that I encounter in the A-level classroom, but Wilford is an interesting character that holds value to the student of history. Although his period of activity was incredibly brief he is important for the fact that his appearance brought about a clear shift in Henry VII in terms of his political outlook.
This review of the episode hopefully helps to provide a greater understanding of Ralph Wilford, as well as to attempt to establish a new platform on which to treat the rebellion’s significance in the wider study of Henry VII’s reign.