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On this day in 1497 the imposter Perkin Warbeck declared himself King Richard IV and entered Exeter with an army of six thousand men.
English King Henry VII sent an army to confront him and Warbeck duly surrendered. He was taken to the Tower of London but treated well after he confessed to being an imposter from Flanders who had learnt English in Ireland. However, after trying unsuccessfully to escape, he was taken to Tyburn and hanged. Perkin Warbeck had claimed that he was Richard Plantagenet, son of Edward IV, one of the two princes in the tower rumoured to have been murdered by Richard III of ill repute.
Shakespeare put it well – a king can never relax (Henry the Fourth, Part 2):
How many thousand of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
Seal up the ship-boy’s eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them
With deafening clamour in the slippery clouds,
That, with the hurly, death itself awakes?
Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude,
And in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
Today I give thanks for the blessing of untroubled sleep that comes from an easy conscience.