This is “freelance historian” John Ashdown-Hill’s 2015 account of the 1487 rebellion against the reign of Henry VII by the boy some accounts refer to as Lambert Simnel. The first major threat to the new Tudor dynasty, the Simnel uprising has often been overlooked in favor of the later rebellion by Perkin Warbeck, also referred to as “Richard of England”. I won’t go into the entire case as Mr. Ashdown-Hill lays it out – the twists and turns of which can make you sea sick at times – but suffice it to say that he presents all the possible options for who the “Dublin King” may have been and who he most likely was not. The same goes for the official Earl of Warwick, the lad taken by Henry VII after Bosworth, maintained in the Tower, and eventually executed after the Warbeck uprising.
I think the case laid out by the author is for the most part solid, but still, everyone should filter this book through the lens of the author. Mr. Ashdown-Hill is a well known Ricardian, a participant in the discovery and reinterment of Richard III, and a vocal critic of Henry VII and the Tudors in general. I take no issue with those opinions, although I don’t agree with them myself, but the often subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle leanings in this work should not be discounted.
Firstly, the funeral crown on the cover is that of Richard III’s (a crown Mr. Ashdown-Hill had a hand in creating). It seems puzzling to have that image on the cover when the book deals with events years after Richard III was killed at Bosworth. The book discusses the Dublin King and Henry VII. Richard III was in his grave by 1487, so that choice of book cover is questionable. Secondly, the subtitle: “the true story…” is extremely misleading as the author correctly states several times throughout the book that unfortunately, no theory about these events can be (or probably will ever be) definitively proven. So the truth remains unknown. The author sets out his theory completely and with compelling research, but truly, we will probably never know. The records and evidence are simply insufficient. The book summary on Amazon is also curious as it mentions DNA evidence – DNA we don’t possess and probably never will thanks to the erosion of time and the bombings of World War II. Would DNA “solve” the mystery? Probably! Are we likely to find that evidence? Not at all. Now, never say never. It was a miracle to find Richard III’s remains, to be sure, but the likelihood that we will ever get DNA sufficient to answer the puzzle presented here remains very slim, and so the book teaser must be seen as disingenuous as best.
The research is thorough and the reasoning mostly sound, despite the pro-Ricardian leanings.
Amazon link is here.