The Project Gutenberg eBook of Cassell's History of England, Vol. 2 (of 8)

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Title: Cassell's History of England, Vol. 2 (of 8)

Author: Anonymous

Release date: December 17, 2015 [eBook #50710]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by Chris Curnow, Jane Robins, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from page images generously made available by Internet Archive (



E-text prepared by Chris Curnow, Jane Robins,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See





History of England











Cade's Rebellion—York comes over from Ireland—His Claims and the Unpopularity of the Reigning Line—His First Appearance in Arms—Birth of the Prince of Wales—York made Protector—Recovery of the King—Battle of St. Albans—York's second Protectorate—Brief Reconciliation of Parties—Battle of Blore Heath—Flight of the Yorkists—Battle of Northampton—York Claims the Crown—The Lords Attempt a Compromise—Death of York at Wakefield—Second Battle of St. Albans—The Young Duke of York Marches on London—His Triumphant Entry 1



The Battle of Towton—Edward's Coronation—Henry escapes to Scotland—The Queen seeks aid in France—Battle of Hexham—Henry made Prisoner—Confined in the Tower—Edward marries Lady Elizabeth Grey—Advancement of her Relations—Attacks on the Family of the Nevilles—Warwick negotiates with France—Marriage of Margaret, the King's Sister, to the Duke of Burgundy—Marriage of the Duke of Clarence with a Daughter of Warwick—Battle of Banbury—Rupture between the King and his Brother—Rebellion of Clarence and Warwick—Clarence and Warwick flee to France—Warwick proposes to restore Henry VI.—Marries Edward, Prince of Wales, to his Daughter, Lady Ann Neville—Edward IV.'s reckless Dissipation—Warwick and Clarence invade England—Edward expelled—His return to England—Battle of Barnet—Battle of Tewkesbury, and ruin of the Lancastrian Cause—Rivalry of Clarence and Gloucester—Edward's Futile Intervention in Foreign Politics—Becomes a Pensioner of France—Death of Clarence—Expedition to Scotland—Death and Character of the King 17



Edward V. proclaimed—The Two Parties of the Queen and of Gloucester—Struggle in the Council—Gloucester's Plans—The Earl Rivers and his Friends imprisoned—Gloucester secures the King and conducts him to London—Indignities to the young King—Execution of Lord Hastings—A Base Sermon at St. Paul's Cross—Gloucester pronounces the two young Princes illegitimate—The Farce at the Guildhall—Gloucester seizes the Crown—Richard crowned in London and again at York—Buckingham revolts against him—Murder of the two Princes—Henry of Richmond—Failure of Buckingham's Rising—Buckingham beheaded—Richards title confirmed by Parliament—Queen Dowager and her Daughters quit the Sanctuary—Death of Richard's Son and Heir—Proposes to Marry his Niece, Elizabeth of York—Richmond lands at Milford Haven—His Progress—The Troubles of Richard—The Battle of Bosworth—The Fallen Tyrant—End of the Wars of the Roses 46



The Study of Latin and Greek—Invention of Printing—Caxton—New Schools and Colleges—Architecture, Military, Ecclesiastical, and Domestic—Sculpture, Painting, and Gilding—The Art of War—Commerce and Shipping—Coinage 64



Henry's Defective Title—Imprisonment of the Earl of Warwick—The King's Title to the Throne—His Marriage—Love Rising—Lambert Simnel—Henry's prompt Action—Failure of the Rebellion—The Queen's Coronation—The Act of [vi]Maintenance—Henry's Ingratitude to the Duke of Brittany—Discontent in England—Expedition to France and its Results—Henry's Second Invasion—Treaty of Étaples—Perkin Warbeck—His Adventures in Ireland, France, and Burgundy—Henry's Measures—Descent on Kent—Warbeck in Scotland—Invasion of England—The Cornish Rising—Warbeck quits Scotland—He lands in Cornwall—Failure of the Rebellion—Imprisonment of Warbeck and his subsequent Execution—European Affairs—Marriages of Henry's Daughter and Son—Betrothal of Catherine and Prince Henry—Henry's Matrimonial Schemes—Royal Exactions—A Lucky Capture—Henry proposes for Joanna—His Death 76



The King's Accession—State of Europe—Henry and Julius II.—Treaty between England and Spain—Henry is duped by Ferdinand—New Combinations—Execution of Suffolk—Invasion of France—Battle of Spurs—Invasion of England by the Scots—Flodden Field—Death of James of Scotland—Louis breaks up the Holy League—Peace with France—Marriage and Death of Louis XII.—Rise of Wolsey—Affairs in Scotland—Francis I. in Italy—Death of Maximilian— Henry a Candidate for the Empire—Election of Charles—Field of the Cloth of Gold—Wolsey's Diplomacy—Failure of his Candidature for the Papacy—The Emperor in London 102


REIGN OF HENRY VIII. (continued).

The War with France—The Earl of Surrey Invades that Country—Sir Thomas More elected Speaker—Henry and Parliament—Revolt of the Duke of Bourbon—Pope Adrian VI. dies—Clement VII. elected—Francis I. taken Prisoner at the Battle of Pavia—Growing Unpopularity of Wolsey—Change of Feeling at the English Court—Treaty with France—Francis I. regains his liberty—Italian League, including France and England, established against the Emperor—Fall of the Duke of Bourbon at the Siege of Rome—Sacking of Rome, and Capture of the Pope—Appearance of Luther—Henry writes against the German Reformer—Henry receives from the Pope the style and Designation of "Defender of the Faith"—Anne Boleyn—Henry applies to the Pope for a Divorce from the Queen—The Pope's Dilemma—War declared against Spain—Cardinal Campeggio arrives in England to decide the Legality of Henry's Marriage with Catherine—Trial of the Queen—Henry's Discontent with Wolsey—Fall of Wolsey—His Banishment from Court and Death—Cranmer's advice regarding the Divorce—Cromwell cuts the Gordian Knot—Dismay of the Clergy—The King declared Head of the Church in England—The King's Marriage with Anne Boleyn—Cranmer made Archbishop—The Pope Reverses the Divorce—Separation of England from Rome 130


REIGN OF HENRY VIII. (continued).

The Maid of Kent and Her Accomplices—Act of Supremacy and Consequent Persecutions—The "Bloody Statute"—Deaths of Fisher and More—Suppression of the Smaller Monasteries—Trial and Death of Anne Boleyn—Henry Marries Jane Seymour—Divisions in the Church—The Pilgrimage of Grace—Birth of Prince Edward—Death of Queen Jane—Suppression of the Larger Monasteries—The Six Articles—Judicial Murders—Persecution of Cardinal Pole—Cromwell's Marriage Scheme—Its Failure and his Fall 158


REIGN OF HENRY VIII. (concluded).

Divorce of Anne of Cleves—Catherine Howard's Marriage and Death—Fresh Persecutions—Welsh Affairs—The Irish Insurrection and its Suppression—Scottish Affairs—Catholic Opposition to Henry—Outbreak of War—Battle of Solway Moss—French and English Parties in Scotland—Escape of Beaton—Triumph of the French Party—Treaty between England and Germany—Henry's Sixth Marriage—Campaign in France—Expedition against Scotland—Capture of Edinburgh—Fresh Attempt on England—Cardinal Beaton and Wishart—Death of the Cardinal—Struggle between the two Parties in England—Death of Henry 183



Accession of Edward VI.—Hertford's Intrigues—He becomes Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector—War with Scotland—Battle of Pinkie—Reversal of Henry's Policy—Religious Reforms—Ambition of Lord Seymour of Sudeley—He[vii] marries Catherine Parr—His Arrest and Death—Popular Discontents—Rebellion in Devonshire and Cornwall—Ket's Rebellion in Norfolk—Warwick Suppresses it—Opposition to Somerset—His Rapacity—Fall of Somerset—Disgraceful Peace with France—Persecution of Romanists—Somerset's Efforts to regain Power—His Trial and Execution—New Treason Law—Northumberland's Schemes for Changing the Succession—Death of Edward 204



Proclamation of Lady Jane Grey—Mary's Resistance—Northumberland's Failure—Mary is Proclaimed—The Advice of Charles V.—Execution of Northumberland—Restoration of the Roman Church—Proposed Marriage with Philip of Spain—Consequent Risings throughout England—Wyatt's Rebellion—Execution of Lady Jane Grey—Imprisonment of Elizabeth—Marriage of Philip and Mary—England Accepts the Papal Absolution—Persecuting Statutes Re-enacted—Martyrdom of Rogers, Hooper, and Taylor—Di Castro's Sermon—Sickness of Mary—Trials of Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer—Martyrdom of Ridley and Latimer—Confession and Death of Cranmer—Departure of Philip—The Dudley Conspiracy—Return of Philip—War with France—Battle of St. Quentin—Loss of Calais—Death of Mary 221



Accession of Elizabeth—Sir William Cecil—The Coronation—Opening of Parliament—Ecclesiastical Legislation—Consecration of Parker—Elizabeth and Philip—Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis—Affairs in Scotland—The First Covenant—Attitude of Mary of Guise—Riot at Perth—Outbreak of Hostilities—The Lords of the Congregation apply to England—Elizabeth hesitates—Siege of Leith—Treaty of Edinburgh—Return of Mary to Scotland—Murray's Influence over her—Beginning of the Religious Wars in France—Elizabeth sends Help to the Huguenots—Peace of Amboise—English Disaster at Havre—Peace with France—The Earl of Leicester—Project of his Marriage with Mary—Lord Darnley—Murder of Rizzio—Birth of Mary's Son—Murder of Darnley—Mary and Bothwell—Carberry Hill—Mary in Lochleven—Abdicates in favour of her Infant Son—Mary's Escape from Lochleven—Defeated at Langside—Her Escape into England 246



Elizabeth Determines to Imprison Mary—The Conference at York—It is Moved to London—The Casket Letters—Mary is sent Southwards—Remonstrances of the European Sovereigns—Affairs in the Netherlands—Alva is sent Thither—Elizabeth Aids the Insurgents—Proposed Marriage between Mary and Norfolk—The Plot is Discovered—Rising in the North—Its Suppression—Death of the Regent Murray—Its Consequences in Scotland—Religious Persecutions—Execution of Norfolk—Massacre of St. Bartholomew—Siege of Edinburgh Castle—War in France—Splendid Defence of La Rochelle—Death of Charles IX.—Religious War in the Netherlands—Rule of Don John—The Anjou Marriage—Deaths of Anjou and of William the Silent 274



Affairs of Ireland: Shane O'Neil's Rebellion—Plantation of Ulster—Spanish Descent on Ireland—Desmond's Rebellion—Religious Conformity—Campian and Parsons—The Anabaptists—Affairs of Scotland—Death of Morton—Success of the Catholics in Scotland—The Raid of Ruthven—Elizabeth's Position—Throgmorton's Plot—Association to Protect Elizabeth—Mary removed to Tutbury—Support of the Protestant Cause on the Continent—Leicester in the Netherlands—Babington's Plot—Trial of Mary—Her Condemnation—Hesitation of Elizabeth—Execution of Mary 295



State of Europe on the Death of Mary—Preparations of Philip of Spain—Exploits of English Sailors—Drake Singes the King of Spain's Beard—Preparations against the Armada—Loyalty of the Roman Catholics—Arrival of the Armada[viii] in the Channel—Its Disastrous Course and Complete Destruction—Elizabeth at Tilbury—Death of Leicester—Persecution of the Puritans and Catholics—Renewed Expeditions against Spain—Accession of Henry of Navarre to the French Throne—He is helped by Elizabeth—Essex takes Cadiz—His Quarrels with the Cecils—His Second Expedition and Rupture with the Queen—Troubles in Ireland—Essex appointed Lord-Deputy—His Failure—The Essex Rising—Execution of Essex—Mountjoy in Ireland—The Debate on Monopolies—Victory of Mountjoy—Weakness of Elizabeth—Her last Illness and Death 313



The Tudors and the Nation—The Church—Population and Wealth—Royal Prerogative—Legislation of Henry VIII.—The Star Chamber—Beneficial Legislation—Treason Laws—Legislation of Edward and Mary—Elizabeth's Policy—Religion and the Church—Sketch of Ecclesiastical History under the Tudors—Literature, Science, and Art—Greatness of the Period—Foundation of Colleges and Schools—Revival of Learning—Its Temporary Decay—Prose Writers of the Period—The Poets—Scottish Bards—Music—Architecture—Painting and Sculpture—Furniture and Decorations—Arms and Armour—Costumes, Coins, and Coinage—Ships, Commerce, Colonies, and Manufactures—Manners and Customs—Condition of the People 342



The Stuart Dynasty—Hopes and Fears caused by the Accession of James—The King enters England—His Progress to London—Lavish Creation of Peers and Knights—The Royal Entrance into the Metropolis—The Coronation—Popularity of Queen Anne—Ravages of the Plague—The King Receives Foreign Embassies—Rivalry of the Diplomatists of France and Spain—Discontent of Raleigh, Northumberland, and Cobham—Conspiracies against James—"The Main" and "The Bye"—Trials of the Conspirators—The Sentences—Conference with Puritans—Parliament of 1604—Persecution of Catholics and Puritans—Gunpowder Plot—Admission of Fresh Members—Delays and Devices—The Letter to Lord Mounteagle—Discovery of the Plot—Flight of the Conspirators—Their Capture and Execution—New Penal Code—James's Correspondence with Bellarmine—Cecil's attempts to get Money—Project of Union between England and Scotland—The King's Collisions with Parliament—Insurrection of the Levellers—Royal Extravagance and Impecuniosity—Fresh Disputes with Parliament and Assertions of the Prerogative—Death of Cecil—Story of Arabella Stuart—Death of Prince Henry 404


REIGN OF JAMES I (concluded).

Reign of Favourites—Robert Carr—His Marriage—Death of Overbury—Venality at Court—The Addled Parliament—George Villiers—Fall of Somerset—Disgrace of Coke—Bacon becomes Lord Chancellor—Position of England Abroad—The Scottish Church—Introduction of Episcopacy—Andrew Melville—Visit of James to Scotland—The Book of Sports—Persecution of the Irish Catholics—Examination into Titles—Rebellion of the Chiefs—Plantation of Ulster—Fresh Confiscations—Quarrel between Bacon and Coke—Prosperity of Buckingham—Raleigh's Last Voyage—His Execution—Beginning of the Thirty Years' War—Indecision of James—Despatch of Troops to the Palatinate—Parliament of 1621—Impeachment of Bacon—His Fall—Floyd's Case—James's Proceedings during the Recess—Dissolution of Parliament—Reasons for the Spanish Match—Charles and Buckingham go to Spain—The Match is Broken Off—Punishment of Bristol—Popularity of Buckingham—Change of Foreign Policy—Marriage of Charles and Henrietta Maria—Death of James 448



Accession of Charles—His Marriage—Meeting of Parliament—Loan of Ships to Richelieu—Dissolution of Parliament—Failure of the Spanish Expedition—Persecution of the Catholics—The Second Parliament—It appoints three Committees—Impeachment of Buckingham—Parliament dissolved to save him—Illegal Government—High Church Doctrines—Rupture with France—Disastrous Expedition to Rhé—The Third Parliament—The Petition of Right—Resistance and Final Surrender of Charles—Parliament Prorogued—Assassination of Buckingham—Fall of La [ix]Rochelle—Parliament Reassembles and is Dissolved—Imprisonment of Offending Members—Government without Parliament—Peace with France and Spain—Gustavus Adolphus in Germany—Despotic Proceedings of Charles and Laud 508


Reign of Charles I (continued).

Visit of Charles to Scotland—Laud and the Papal See—His Ecclesiastical Measures—Punishment of Prynne, Bastwick, and Burton—Disgrace of Williams—Ship-money—Resistance of John Hampden—Wentworth in the North—Recall of Falkland from Ireland—Wentworth's Measures—Inquiry into Titles—Prelacy Riots in Edinburgh—Jenny Geddes's Stool—The Tables—Renewal of the Covenant—Charles makes Concessions—The General Assembly—Preparations for War—Charles at York—Leslie at Dunse Hill—A Conference held—Treaty of Berwick—Arrest of Loudon—Insult from the Dutch—Wentworth in England—The Short Parliament—Riots in London—Preparations of the Scots—Mutiny in the English Army—Invasion of England—Treaty of Ripon—Meeting of the Long Parliament—Impeachment of Strafford—His Trial—He is abandoned by Charles—His Execution—The King's Visit to Scotland 550

From a Broadside, dated 1646


(From a Broadside, dated 1646.)



Dandy of the Time of Charles I.IX
Eltham Palace, from the North-east1
The Duke of York Challenged to Mortal Combat5
View in Lübeck: The Church of St. Ægidius9
Clifford's Tower: York Castle12
Rutland beseeching Clifford to spare his Life13
The Quarrel in the Temple Gardens17
Edward IV.20
Dunstanburgh Castle21
Great Seal of Edward IV.25
Gold Rose Noble of Edward IV.28
Preaching at St. Paul's Cross29
Battle of Barnet: Death of the King-maker33
Burial of King Henry37
Louis XI. and the Herald41
St. Andrews, from the Pier45
Great Seal of Edward V.48
Edward V.49
The Tower of London: Bloody and Wakefield Towers52
Great Seal of Richard III.53
The Princes in the Tower56
Richard III.57
Richard III. at the Battle of Bosworth61
Facsimile of Caxton's Printing in the "Dictes and Sayings of Philosophers," (1477)65
Earl Rivers Presenting Caxton to Edward IV.65
The Quadrangle, Eton College68
Interior of King's College Chapel, Cambridge69
Street in London in the Fifteenth Century73
Cannon of the End of the Fifteenth Century75
Great Seal of Henry VII.77
Henry VII.80
The Last Stand of Schwarz and his Germans81
Penny of Henry VII. Angel of Henry VII. Noble of Henry VII.
    Sovereign of Henry VII.
Stirling Castle89
St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall92
Lady Catherine Gordon before Henry VII.93
The Byward Tower, Tower of London97
King Henry's Departure from Henningham Castle100
Henry VII.'s Chapel, Westminster Abbey101
Great Seal of Henry VIII.105
Meeting of Henry and the Emperor Maximilian108
Henry and the captured French Officers109
Edinburgh after Flodden113
Archbishop Warham117
Hampton Court Palace121
Henry VIII.125
Great Ship of Henry VIII.129
Stirling, from the Abbey Craig132
Cardinal Wolsey133
Silver Groat of Henry VIII. Gold Crown of Henry VIII.
    George Noble of Henry VIII.
Pound Sovereign of Henry VIII. Double Sovereign of Henry VIII.137
Surrender of Francis on the Battle-field of Pavia141
Martin Luther145
The Trial of Queen Catherine149
The Dismissal of Wolsey153
The Tower of London: Sketch in the Gardens157
Sir Thomas More160
The Parting of Sir Thomas More and his Daughter161
Anne Boleyn165
Anne Boleyn's Last Farewell of her Ladies168
St. Peter's Chapel, Tower Green, London, where Anne Boleyn was Buried169
The Pilgrimage of Grace173
Gateway of Kirkham Priory176
Beauchamp Tower, and Place of Execution within the Tower of London177
Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex181
Catherine Howard being conveyed to the Tower185
Capture of the Fitzgeralds188
The First Levee of Mary Queen of Scots192
View in St. Andrews: North Street193
Francis I.197
The Assassination of Cardinal Beaton201
Edward VI.205
Great Seal of Edward VI.209
The Royal Herald in Ket's Camp212
Old Somerset House, London213
The Duke of Somerset217
Silver Crown of Edward VI.219
Sixpence of Edward VI. Shilling of Edward VI. Pound
    Sovereign of Edward VI. Triple Sovereign of Edward VI.
Queen Mary and the State Prisoners in the Tower221
Great Seal of Philip and Mary224
View from the Constable's Garden, Tower of London225
Old London Bridge, with Nonsuch Palace229
Lady Jane Grey on her way to the Scaffold233
Archbishop Cranmer237
The Place of Martyrdom, Old Smithfield240
Mary I.241
The Hôtel de Ville and Old Lighthouse, Calais244
Shilling of Philip and Mary. Real of Mary I.245
Elizabeth's Public Entry into London249
Autograph of Elizabeth253
Mar's Work, Stirling257
Great Seal of Elizabeth260
Mary, Queen of Scots261
The Murder of Rizzio265
Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh269
Mary Signing the Deed of Abdication in Lochleven Castle273
Lord Burleigh276
Farthing of Elizabeth. Halfpenny of Elizabeth. Penny of Elizabeth. Twopence
    of Elizabeth. Half-crown of Elizabeth. Half-sovereign of Elizabeth
The Duke of Norfolk's Interview with Elizabeth281
The Regent Murray284
High Street, Linlithgow285
Kenilworth Castle289
The House of the English Ambassador during the Massacre of St. Bartholomew293
Murder of the Earl of Desmond297
The Earl of Arran accusing Morton of the Murder of Darnley300[xi]
Dumbarton Rock, with view of Castle301
The Earl of Leicester305
Trial of Mary Queen of Scots in Fotheringay Castle309
Mary Queen of Scots receiving Intimation of her Doom312
Sir Francis Drake317
The Hoe, Plymouth320
The Armada in Sight321
Philip II.325
Beauchamp Tower, Warders' Houses, and Yeoman Gaolers' Lodgings:
    Tower of London
The Quarrel between Elizabeth and the Earl of Essex332
The Earl of Essex333
Lord Grey and his Followers Attacking the Earl of Southampton337
Elizabeth's Promenade on Richmond Green340
Richmond Palace341
Town and Country Folk of Elizabeth's Reign345
State Trial in Westminster Hall in the Time of Elizabeth349
John Knox353
Reduced Facsimile of the Title-page of the Great Bible,
    also called Cromwell's Bible
Christ's Hospital, London361
Latimer Preaching before Edward VI.364
Roger Ascham's Visit to Lady Jane Grey365
Edmund Spenser369
The House at Stratford-on-Avon in which Shakespeare was Born373
The Acting of one of Shakespeare's Plays in the Time of Queen Elizabeth377
Queen Elizabeth's Cither and Music-book379
Holland House, Kensington380
The Great Court of Kirby Hall, Northamptonshire381
Entrance from the Courtyard of Burleigh House, Stamford383
Elizabeth's Drawing-room, Penshurst Place384
Soldiers of the Tudor Period385
The Wedding of Jack of Newbury: The Bride's Procession389
Ships of Elizabeth's Time393
The First Royal Exchange, London (Founded by Sir Thomas Gresham)396
Sir Thomas Gresham397
The Frolic of My Lord of Misrule401
Punishment of the Stocks403
James I.405
St. Thomas's Tower and Traitor's Gate, Tower of London409
Sir Walter Raleigh412
The Dissenting Divines Presenting their Petition to James413
The Old Palace, Westminster, in the time of Charles I.417
Great Seal of James I.420
Guy Fawkes's Cellar under Parliament House421
Lord Monteagle and the Warning Letter about the Gunpowder Plot425
Arrest of Guy Fawkes428
Pound Sovereign of James I. Unit or Laurel of James I. (Gold).
    Spur Rial of James I. (Gold). Thistle Crown of James I. (Gold)
Sir Robert Cecil, afterwards Earl of Salisbury433
Shilling of James I. Crown of James I.436
James and his Courtiers setting out for the Hunt437
The Star Chamber441
Flight of the Lady Arabella Stuart444
Notre Dame, Caudebec445
Sir Francis Bacon (Viscount St. Albans)449
The Banqueting House, Whitehall452
Greenwich Palace in the time of James I.456
Sir Edward Coke457
Andrew Melville before the Scottish Privy Council461
Keeping Sunday, according to King James's Book of Sports465
Parliament House, Dublin, in the Seventeenth Century469
Sir Francis Bacon waiting an Audience of Buckingham472
Arrest of Sir Walter Raleigh476
Sir Walter Raleigh before the Judges477
The Franzensring, Vienna481
Interview between Bacon and the Deputation from the Lords484
George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham485
The Fleet Prison489
Public Reception of Prince Charles in Madrid493
Prince Charles's Farewell of the Infanta497
The Royal Palace, Madrid500
The Ladies of the French Court and the Portrait of Prince Charles504
Henrietta Maria505
Great Seal of Charles I.509
Charles welcoming his Queen to England512
Charles I.513
Reception of Viscount Wimbledon at Plymouth516
York House (The Duke of Buckingham's Mansion)517
Trial of Buckingham521
Interior of the Banqueting House, Whitehall525
Sir John Eliot529
Assassination of the Duke of Buckingham533
Tyburn in the time of Charles I.537
Three Pound Piece of Charles I. Broad of Charles I. Briot Shilling of Charles I.540
John Selden541
Scene in the House of Commons: The Speaker Coerced545
Interior of Old St. Paul's549
Archbishop Laud553
John Lilburne on the Pillory557
The Birmingham Tower, Dublin Castle561
Sir Thomas Wentworth (Earl of Strafford)564
The People Signing the Covenant in St. Giles's Church, Edinburgh568
St. Giles's Church, Edinburgh, in the 17th Century569
The Old College, Glasgow, in the 17th Century573
Charles and the Scottish Commissioners577
John Hampden581
Guildhall, London, in the time of Charles I.585
Advance of the Covenanters across the Border into England589
John Pym592
Arrest of the Earl of Strafford593
Westminster Hall and Palace Yard in the time of Charles I.597
Charles Signing the Commission of Assent to Strafford's Attainder601
The Old Parliament House, Edinburgh604
The Marquis of Montrose605



Departure of English and French from Genoa in 1390 to Chastise the
Barbary Corsairs. (From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum)Frontispiece 
The Crown of England being Offered to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, at
Baynard's Castle, in 1483. (By Sigismund Goetze)To face p. 50
Caxton Showing the First Specimen of his Printing to King Edward IV.,
at the Almonry, Westminster. (By Daniel Maclise, R.A.)"64
The Grand Assault upon the Town of Africa by the English and French.
(From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum)"72
Froissart Presenting his Book of Love Poems to Richard II., in 1395.—The
Landing of the Lady de Coucy at Boulogne. (From the Froissart MS. in
the British Museum)"74
Cardinal Wolsey Going in Procession to Westminster Hall. (By Sir John
Gilbert, R.A., P.R.W.S.)"118
Cardinal Wolsey at Leicester Abbey. (By Sir John Gilbert, R.A., P.R.W.S.)"154
Sweethearts and Wives. (Moss-troopers Returning from a Foray.)
(By S. E. Waller)"190
Lady Jane Grey's Reluctance to Accept the Crown of England.
(By C. R. Leslie, R.A.)"222
Cranmer at Traitors' Gate. (By F. Goodall, R.A.)"226
Queen Elizabeth. (By F. Zucchero)"246
The Preaching of John Knox before the Lords of the Congregation,
10th June, 1559. (By Sir David Wilkie, R.A.)"256
The Invincible Armada. (By Albert Goodwin, R.W.S.)"312
"The Surrender": An Incident of the Spanish Armada. (By Seymour
Lucas, R.A.)"322
A Story of the Spanish Main. (By Seymour Lucas, R.A.)"338
William Shakespeare. (From the Painting known as the Chandos Portrait, and
attributed to Richard Burbage, in the National Portrait Gallery)"374
Map of the World at the End of the Sixteenth Century, showing the
Discoveries of British and other Explorers"394
The Departure of the "Mayflower." (By A. W. Bayes)"474
Illuminated Page, with Bordering. (From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum)"512
Visit of Charles I. to the Guildhall. (By Solomon J. Solomon, R.A.)"582
Strafford Going to Execution. (By Paul Delaroche)"604

From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum

From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum. Reproduced by André & Sleigh, Ld., Buskey, Herts.



[See larger version]


After an Engraving published in 1735

ELTHAM PALACE, FROM THE NORTH-EAST. (After an Engraving published in 1735.)

Illustrated History of England.



Cade's Rebellion—York comes over from Ireland—His Claims and the Unpopularity of the Reigning Line—His First Appearance in Arms—Birth of the Prince of Wales—York made Protector—Recovery of the King—Battle of St. Albans—York's second Protectorate—Brief Reconciliation of Parties—Battle of Blore Heath—Flight of the Yorkists—Battle of Northampton—York Claims the Crown—The Lords Attempt a Compromise—Death of York at Wakefield—Second Battle of St. Albans—The Young Duke of York Marches on London—His Triumphant Entry.

Henry the Sixth and his queen were plunged into grief and consternation at the extraordinary death of Suffolk in 1450. They saw that a powerful party was engaged in thus defeating their attempt to rescue Suffolk from his enemies by a slight term of exile; and they strongly suspected that the Duke of York, though absent in his government of Ireland, was at the bottom of it. It was more than conjectured that he entertained serious designs of profiting by the unpopularity of the Government to assert his claims to the crown. This ought to have made the king and queen especially circumspect, but, so far from this being the case, Henry announced his resolve to punish the people of Kent for the murder of Suffolk, which had[2] been perpetrated on their coast. The queen was furious in her vows of vengeance. These unwise demonstrations incurred the anger of the people, and especially irritated the inhabitants of Kent. To add to the popular discontent, Somerset, who had lost by his imbecility the French territories, was made minister in the place of Suffolk, and invested with all the favour of the court. The people in several counties threatened to rise and reform the Government; and the opportunity was seized by a bold adventurer of the name of John Cade, an Irishman, to attempt a revolution. He selected Kent as the quarter more pre-eminently in a state of excitement against the prevailing misrule, and declaring that he belonged to the royal line of Mortimer, and was cousin to the Duke of York, he gave himself out to be the son of Sir John Mortimer, who, on a charge of high treason, had been executed in the beginning of this reign, without trial or evidence. The lenity which Henry V. had always shown to the Mortimers—their title being superior to his own, their position near the throne was of course an element of danger—had not been imitated by Bedford and Gloucester, the infant king's uncles, and their neglect of the forms of a regular trial had only strengthened the opinions of the people as to the Mortimer rights. No sooner, therefore, did Jack Cade assume this popular name, than the people, burning with the anger of the hour against the unlucky dynasty, flocked, to the number of 20,000, to his standard, and advanced to Blackheath. Emissaries were sent into London to stir up the people there, and induce them to open their gates and join the movement. As the Government, taken by surprise, was destitute of the necessary troops on the spot to repel so formidable a body of insurgents, it put on the same air of moderation which Richard II. had done in Tyler's rebellion, and many messages passed between the king and the pretended Mortimer, or, as he also called himself, John Amend-all.

In reply to the king's inquiry as to the cause of this assembly, Cade sent in "The Complaints of the Commons of Kent, and the Causes of the Assembly on Blackheath." These documents were ably and artfully drawn. They professed the most affectionate attachment to the king, and demanded the redress of what were universally known to be real and enormous grievances. The wrongs were those under which the kingdom had long been smarting—the loss of the territories in France, and the loss of the national honour with them, through the treason and mal-administration of the ministers; the usurpation of the Crown lands by the greedy courtiers, and the consequent shifting of the royal expenditure to the shoulders of the people, with the scandals, offences, and robberies of purveyance. The "Complaints" asserted that the people of Kent had been especially victimised and ill-used by the sheriffs and tax-gatherers, and that the free elections of their knights of the shire had been prevented. They declared, moreover, that corrupt men were employed at court, and the princes of the blood and honest men kept out of power.

Government undertook to examine into these causes of complaint, and promised an answer; but the people soon were aware that this was only a pretence to gain time, and that the answer would be presented at the point of the sword. Jack Cade, therefore, sent out what he called "The Requests of the Captain of the Great Assembly in Kent." These "Requests" were based directly on the previous complaints, and were that the king should renew the grants of the Crown, and so enable himself to live on his own income, without fleecing the people; that he should dismiss all corrupt councillors, and all the progeny of the Duke of Suffolk, and take into his service his right trusty cousins and noble peers, the Duke of York, now banished to Ireland, the Dukes of Exeter, Buckingham, and Norfolk. This looked assuredly as if those who drew up those papers for Cade were in the interest of the York party, and the more so as the document went on to denounce the traitors who had compassed the death of that excellent prince the Duke of Gloucester, and of their holy father the cardinal, and who had so shamefully caused the loss of Maine, Anjou, Normandy, and our other lands in France. The assumed murder of the cardinal, who had died almost in public, and surrounded by the ceremonies of the Church, was too ridiculous, and was probably thrown in to hide the actual party at work. The "Requests" then demanded summary execution on the detested collectors and extortioners, Crowmer, Lisle, Este, and Sleg.

The court had now a force ready equal to that of the insurgents, and sent it under Sir Humphrey Stafford to answer the "Requests" by cannon and matchlock. Cade retreated to Sevenoaks, where, taking advantage of Stafford's too hasty pursuit, with only part of his forces, he fell upon his troops, put them to flight, killed Stafford, and, arraying himself in the slain man's armour, advanced again to his former position on Blackheath.

This unexpected success threw the court into[3] a panic. The soldiers who had gone to Sevenoaks had gone unwillingly; and those left on Blackheath now declared that they knew not why they should fight their fellow-countrymen for only asking redress of undoubted grievances. The nobles, who were at heart adverse to the present ministers, found this quite reasonable, and the court was obliged to assume an air of concession. The Lord Say, who had been one of Suffolk's most obsequious instruments, and was regarded by the people as a prime agent in the making over of Maine and Anjou, was sent to the Tower with some inferior officers. The king was advised to disband his army, and retire to Kenilworth; and Lord Scales, with a thousand men, undertook to defend the Tower. Cade advanced from Blackheath, took possession of Southwark, and demanded entrance into the city of London.

The lord mayor summoned a council, in which the proposal was debated; and it was concluded to offer no resistance. On the 3rd of July Cade marched over the bridge, and took up his quarters in the heart of the capital. He took the precaution to cut the ropes of the drawbridge with his sword as he passed, to prevent his being caught, as in a trap; and, maintaining strict discipline amongst his followers, he led them back into the Borough in the evening. The next day he reappeared in the same circumspect and orderly manner; and, compelling the lord mayor and the judges to sit in Guildhall, he brought Lord Say before them, and arraigned him on a charge of high treason. Say demanded to be tried by his peers; but he was hurried away to the standard in Cheapside, and beheaded. His son-in-law, Crowmer, sheriff of Kent, was served in the same manner. The Duchess of Suffolk, the Bishop of Salisbury, Thomas Daniel, and others, were accused of the like high crimes, but, luckily, were not to be found. The bishop had already fallen at the hands of his own tenants at Edington, in Wiltshire.

On the third day Cade's followers plundered some of the houses of the citizens; and the Londoners, calling in Lord Scales with his 1,000 men to aid them, resolved that Cade should be prevented from again entering the city. Cade received notice of this from some of his partisans, and rushed to the bridge in the night to secure it. He found it already in the possession of the citizens. There was a bloody battle, which lasted for six hours, when the insurgents drew off, and left the Londoners masters of the bridge.

On receiving this news, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who were in the Tower, determined to try the ruse which had succeeded with the followers of Wat Tyler. They therefore sent the Bishop of Winchester to promise redress of grievances, and a full pardon under the great seal, for every one who should at once return to their homes. After some demur, the terms were gratefully accepted; Cade himself embraced the offered grace, according to the subsequent proclamation against him, dated the 10th of July; but quickly repenting of his credulity, he once more unfurled his banner, and found a number of men ready to rejoin it. This mere remnant of the insurgent host, however, was utterly incapable of effecting anything against the city; they retired to Deptford, and thence to Rochester, hoping to gather a fresh army. But the people had now cooled; the rioters began to divide their plunder and to quarrel over it; and Cade, seeing all was lost, and fearing that he should be seized for the reward of 1,000 marks offered for his head, fled on horseback towards Lewes. Disguising himself, he lurked about in secret places, till, being discovered in a garden at Heathfield, in Kent, by Alexander Iden, the new sheriff; he was, after a short battle, killed by Iden, and his body carried to London.

That the party of the Duke of York had some concern in Cade's rebellion, the Government not only suspected, but several of Cade's followers when brought to execution, are said to have confessed as much. But stronger evidence of the fact is, that there was an immediate rumour that the duke himself was preparing to cross over to England. The court at once issued orders in the king's name, to forbid his coming, and to oppose any armed attempt on his part. The duke defeated this scheme by appearing without any retinue whatever, trusting to the good-will of the people. His confidence in thus coming at once to the very court put the Government, which had shown such suspicion of him, completely in the wrong in the eye of the public.

We are now on the eve of that contest for the possession of the crown, which figures so eminently in history as the Wars of the Roses. The accession of Henry IV., productive of very bloody consequences at the time, had nearly been forgotten through the brilliant successes of his son, Henry V.; but still the heirs of the true line, according to the doctrine of lineal descent, were in existence. The Mortimers, Earls of March, had been spared by the usurping family; and Richard, Duke of York, was now the representative[4] of that line. To understand clearly how the Mortimers, and from them Richard, Duke of York, took precedence of Henry VI., according to lineal descent, we must recollect that Henry IV. was the son of John of Gaunt, who was the fourth son of Edward III. On the deposition of Richard II., who was the son of the Black Prince, the eldest son of Edward III., there was living the Earl of March, the grandson of Lionel, the third son of Edward III., who had clearly the right to precede Henry. This right had been, moreover, recognised by Parliament. But Henry of Lancaster, disregarding this claim, seized on the crown by force, yet took no care to destroy the true claimant. Now, the Duke of York, who was paternally descended from Edmund of Langley, the fifth son of Edward III., was also maternally the lineal descendant of Lionel, the third son through the daughter and heiress of Mortimer, the Earl of March. By this descent he preceded the descendants of Henry IV., and was by right of heirship the undoubted claimant of the English crown.

The Marches had shown no disposition whatever to assert that right, and this had proved their safety. They had been for several generations a particularly modest and unambitious race; and so long as the descendants of Henry IV. had proved able or popular monarchs, their claim would have lain in abeyance. But they were never forgotten; and now that the imbecility and long minority of Henry VI. had created strong factions, and disgusted the people, this claim was zealously revived. Henry IV. had but one real and indefeasible claim to the throne—namely, that of the election of the people, had he chosen to accept it; but this he proudly rejected, and took his stand on his lineal descent from Edward III., where the heirs of his uncle Lionel had entirely the advantage of him.

The people who had favoured, and would have adopted Henry IV., had now become alienated from the house of Lancaster, through the incapacity of the present king, by which they had lost the whole of their ancient possessions, as well as their conquests in France. Nothing remained but heavy taxation and national exhaustion, as the net result of all the wars in that kingdom. In this respect the very glory of Henry V. became the ruin of his son. While the people complained of their poverty and oppression in consequence of those wars, they were doubly harassed by the factious quarrels of the king's relatives. They had attached themselves to the Duke of Gloucester, and he had been murdered by these cliques, and, as was generally believed, at the instigation of the queen. Queen Margaret, indeed, completed the alienation of the people from the house of Lancaster. She was not only French—a nation now in the worst odour with the people of England—but through her they had lost Maine and Anjou.

These circumstances now drew the hearts of the people as strongly towards the Duke of York, as they had formerly been attracted to the house of Lancaster. They began to regard him with interest, as a person whose rights to the throne had been unjustly overlooked. He was a man who seemed to possess much of the modest and amiable character of the Marches. He had been recalled from France, where he was ably conducting himself, by the influence of the queen, as was believed, and sent as governor into Ireland, as a sort of honourable banishment. But though treated in a manner calculated to provoke him, he had retained the unassuming moderation of his demeanour. He had yet made no public pretensions to the crown, and though circumstances seemed to invite him, showed no haste to seize it. There were many circumstances, indeed, which tended to make all parties hesitate to proceed to extremities. True, the queen was highly unpopular, but Henry, though weak, was so amiable, pious, and just, that the people, although groaning under the consequences of his weakness, yet retained much affection for him. There were also numbers of nobles of great influence who had benefited by the long minority of the king, and who, much as they disliked the queen's party, were afraid of being called on, in case another dynasty was established, to yield up the valuable grants which they had obtained.

Thus the kingdom was divided into three parties: those who took part with Somerset and the queen, those who inclined to the Duke of York, and those who, having benefited by the long reign of corruption, were afraid of any change, and endeavoured to hold the balance betwixt the extreme parties. Almost all the nobles of the North of England were zealous supporters of the house of Lancaster, and with them went the Earl of Westmoreland, the head of the house of Neville, though the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, the most influential members of the family, were the chief champions of the cause of York. With the Duke of Somerset also followed, in support of the crown, Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and the[5] Lords Clifford, Dudley, Scales, Audley, and other noblemen. With the Duke of York, besides the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, went many of the southern houses.


Such was the state of public feeling and the position of parties when the insurrection of Cade occurred. The Duke of York had made himself additionally popular by his conduct in Ireland. He had shown great prudence and ability in suppressing the insurrections of the natives; and thus made fast friends of all the English who had connections in that island. No doubt the members of his own party used every argument to incite the duke to assert his right to the throne, and so to free the country from the dominance of the queen and her favourites. That it was the general opinion that the Cade conspiracy was a direct feeler on the part of the Yorkists, is clear from Shakespeare, who wrote so much nearer to that day. But when York appeared upon the scene, Cade had already paid the penalty of his outbreak. On his way to town, York, passing through Northamptonshire, sent for William Tresham, the late Speaker of the House of Commons, who had taken an active part in the prosecution of Suffolk. But, on his way to the duke, Tresham was fallen upon by the men of Lord Grey de Ruthin, and murdered. York proceeded to London, as related, and appeared before the king, where he demanded of him to summon a Parliament for the settlement of the disturbed affairs of the realm. Henry promised, and York meanwhile retired to his castle at Fotheringay.

Scarcely had York retired when Somerset arrived from France, and the queen and Henry hailed him as a champion sent in the moment of need to sustain the court party against the power and designs of York. But Somerset came from the loss of France, and, therefore, loaded with an awful weight of public odium; and with her vindictive disregard of appearances, Queen Margaret immediately transferred to him all her old predilection for Suffolk. When the Parliament met, the temper of the public mind was very soon apparent. Out of doors the life of Somerset was threatened by the mob, and his house was pillaged. In the Commons, Young, one of the representatives of Bristol, moved that, as Henry had no[6] children, York should be declared his successor. This proposal seemed to take the house by surprise, and Young was committed to the Tower. But a bill was carried to attaint the memory of the Duke of Suffolk, and another to remove from about the king the Duchess of Suffolk, the Duke of Somerset, and almost all the party in power. Henry refused to accede to these measures, any further than promising to withdraw a number of inferior persons from the court for twelve months, during which time their conduct might be inquired into. On this the Duchess of Suffolk and the other persons indicted of high treason during the insurrection, demanded to be heard in their defence, and were acquitted.

The spirit of the opposite factions ran very high; the party of Somerset accusing that of York of treasonable designs, and that of York declaring that the court was plotting to destroy the duke as they had destroyed Gloucester. York retired to his castle of Ludlow, in Shropshire, where he was in the very centre of the Mortimer interest, and under plea of securing himself against Somerset, he actively employed himself in raising forces, at the same time issuing a proclamation of the most devoted loyalty, and offering to swear fealty to the king on the sacrament before the Bishop of Hereford and the Earl of Shrewsbury. The court paid no attention to his professions, but an army was led by the king against him. York, instead of awaiting the blow, took another road, and endeavoured to reach and obtain possession of London in the king's absence. On approaching the capital, he received a message that its gates would be shut against him, and he then turned aside to Dartford, probably hoping for support from the same population which had followed Cade. The king pursued him, and encamping on Blackheath, sent the Bishops of Ely and Winchester to demand why he was in arms. York replied that he was in arms from no disloyal design, but merely to protect himself from his enemies. The king told him his movements had been watched since the murder of the Bishop of Chichester by men supposed to be in his interest, and still more since his partisans had openly boasted of his right to the crown; but for his own part, he himself believed him to be a loyal subject, and his own well-beloved cousin.

York demanded that all persons "noised or indicted of treason" should be apprehended, committed to the Tower, and brought to trial. All this the king, or his advisers, promised, and as Somerset was one of the persons chiefly aimed at by York, the king gave an instant order for the arrest and committal of Somerset, and assured York that a new council should be summoned, in which he himself should be included, and all matters decided by a majority. At these frank promises York expressed himself entirely satisfied, disbanded his army, and came bareheaded to the king's tent. What occurred, however, was by no means in accordance with the honourable character of the king, and savoured more of the councils of the queen. No sooner did York present himself before Henry, and begin to enter upon the causes of complaint, than Somerset stepped from behind a curtain, denied the assertions of York, and defied him to mortal combat. So flagrant a breach of faith showed York that he had been betrayed. He turned to depart in indignant resentment, but he was informed that he was a prisoner. Somerset was urgent for his trial and execution, as the only means of securing the permanent peace of the realm. Henry had a horror of spilling blood; but in this instance York is said to have owed his safety rather to the fears of the ministers than any act of grace of the king, who was probably in no condition of mind to be capable of thinking upon the subject. There was already a report that York's son, the Earl of March, was on the way towards London with a strong army of Welshmen, to liberate his father. This so alarmed the queen and council that they agreed to set free the duke, on condition that he swore to be faithful to the king, which he did at St. Paul's, Henry and his chief nobility being present. York then retired to his castle of Wigmore.

In the autumn of 1453 the queen was delivered of a son, who was called Edward. There was a cry in the country that this was no son of the king—a cry zealously promoted by the partisans of York—but it did not prevent the young prince from being recognised as the heir-apparent, and created Prince of Wales, Earl of Cornwall and Chester. But the king had now fallen into such a state of imbecility, with periods of absolute insanity, that those who had denied the legitimacy of his mother, Queen Catherine, might well change their opinion; for Henry's malady seemed to be precisely that of his reputed grandfather, Charles VI. of France. Such was his condition, that Parliament would no longer consent to leave him in the hands of the queen and Somerset. In the autumn the influence of Parliament compelled the recall of York to the council; and this, as might have been expected, was immediately[7] followed by the committal of Somerset to the Tower. In February Parliament recommenced its sittings, and York appeared as lieutenant or commissioner for the king, who was incapable of opening it in person. It had been the policy of the queen to keep concealed the real condition of the king, but with York at the head of affairs, this was no longer possible. The House of Lords appointed a deputation to wait on Henry at Windsor. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who was also Lord Chancellor, was dead; and the Lords seized upon the occasion as the plea for a personal interview, according to ancient custom, with the king. Twelve peers accordingly proceeded to Windsor, and would not return without seeing the monarch. They found him in such a state of mental alienation that, though they saw him three times, they could perceive no mark of attention from him. They reported him utterly incapable of transacting any business; and the Duke of York was thereupon appointed protector, with a yearly salary of 2,000 marks. The Lancastrian party, however, took care to define the duties and the powers of this office, so as to maintain the rights of the king. The title of protector was to give no authority, but merely precedence in the council, and the command of the army in time of rebellion or invasion. It was to be revocable at the will of the king, should he at any time recover soundness of mind; and, in case that he remained so long incapacitated for Government, the protectorate was to pass to the prince Edward on his coming of age. The command at sea was entrusted to five noblemen, chosen from the two parties; and the Government of Calais, a most important post, was taken from Somerset, and given to York.

With all this change, the session of Parliament appears to have been stormy. The Duke of York had instituted an action for trespass against Thorpe, the Speaker of the Commons, and one of the Barons of the Exchequer, and obtained a verdict with damages to the amount of £1,000, and Thorpe was committed to prison till he gave security for that sum, and an equal fine to the Crown. In vain did the Commons petition for the release of the Speaker. The Lords refused; and they were compelled to elect a new one. Many of the Lords, not feeling themselves safe, absented themselves from the House, and were compelled to attend only by heavy fines. The Duke of Exeter was taken into custody, and bound to keep the peace; and the Earl of Devonshire, a Yorkist, was accused of high treason and tried, but acquitted. So strong was the opposition of the court party, that even York himself was compelled to stand up and defend himself.

These angry commotions were but the prelude to a more decisive act. The king was found something better, and the fact was instantly seized on by the queen and her party to hurl York from power, and reinstate Somerset. About Christmas the king demanded from York the resignation of the protectorate, and immediately liberated Somerset. This was not done without Somerset being at first held to bail for his appearance at Westminster to answer the charges against him. But he appealed to the council, on the ground that he had been committed without any lawful cause; and the court party being now in the ascendant, he was at once freed from his recognisances. The king himself seemed anxious to reconcile the two dukes, a circumstance more convincing of his good nature than of his sound sense—for it was an impossibility. He would not restore the government of Calais to the Duke of Somerset, but he took it from York and retained it in his own hands. York perceived that he had been regularly defeated by the queen, and he retired again to his castle of Ludlow to plan more serious measures.

The Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Salisbury and his son, the celebrated Earl of Warwick, destined to acquire the name of the "King-maker," hastened there at his summons, and it was resolved to attempt the suppression of the court party by force of arms. They were quickly at the head of a large force, with which they hoped to surprise the royalists. But no sooner did the news of this approaching force reach the court, than the king was carried forth at the head of a body of troops equal to those of York, and a march was commenced against him. The royal army had reached St. Albans, and on the morning of the 22nd of May, 1455, as it was about to resume its progress, the hills bordering on the high road were covered with the troops of York. This army marching under the banners of the house of York, now for the first time displayed in resistance to the sovereign, halted in a field near the town, and sent forward a herald announcing that the three noblemen were come in all loyalty and attachment to the king; but with a determination to remove the Duke of Somerset from his councils, and demanding that he and his pernicious associates should be at once delivered up to them. The Yorkists declared that they felt this to be so absolutely necessary, that they were resolved to destroy those enemies to[8] the peace of the country, or to perish themselves. An answer was returned by or for the king, "that he would not abandon any of the lords who were faithful to him, but rather would do battle upon it, at the peril of life and crown."

It would have appeared that the royal army had a most decided advantage by being in possession of the town, which was well fortified, and where a stout resistance might have been made in the narrow streets; but, spite of this, the superior spirit of the commanders on the side of York triumphed over the royalists. York himself made a desperate attack on the barriers at the entrance of the town, while Warwick, searching the outskirts of the place, found, or was directed by some favouring persons to a weak spot. He made his way across some gardens, burst into the city, and came upon the royal forces where he was little expected. Aided by this diversion, York redoubled his attack on the barriers, and, notwithstanding their resolute defence by Lord Clifford forced an entrance. Between the cries of "A York! a York!" "A Warwick! a Warwick!" confusion spread amongst the king's forces, they gave way, and fled out of the town in utter rout. The slaughter among the leaders of the royal army was terrible. The Duke of Somerset, the Earl of Northumberland, and Lord Clifford were slain; the king himself was wounded in the neck, the Duke of Buckingham and Lord Dudley in the face, and the Earl of Stafford in the arm. All these were arrow wounds, and it was plain that here again the archers had won the day. The fall or wounds of the leaders, indeed, settled the business, and saved the common soldiers; for though Hall reports that 8,000, Stowe that 5,000 men fell, yet Crane, in a letter to his cousin, John Paston, written at the time, declares that there were only six-score, and Sir William Stonor states that only forty-eight were buried in St. Albans.

The king was found concealed in the house of a tanner; and there York visited him, on his knees renewed his vows of loyal affection, and congratulated Henry on the fall of the traitor Somerset. He then led the king to the shrine of St. Albans, and afterwards to his apartment in the abbey. It might have been supposed that the fallen king, being now in the hands of York and his party, the claims of York to the crown would have been asserted. But at this time York either had not really determined on seizing the throne, or did not deem the public fully prepared for so great a change. On the meeting of Parliament it was reported that York and his friends sought only to free the king from the unpopular ministers who surrounded him, and to redress the grievances of the nation. That party complained—with what truth does not appear—that, on the very morning of the battle, they had sought to explain these views and intentions in letters, which the Duke of Somerset and Thorpe, the late Speaker of the Commons, had withheld from his grace. The king acquitted York, Salisbury, and Warwick of all evil intention, pronounced them good and loyal subjects, granting them a full pardon. The peers renewed their fealty, and Parliament was prorogued till the 12th of November. Thus the first blood in these civil wars had been drawn at the battle of St. Albans and all appeared restored to peace. But it was a deceitful calm; rivers of blood were yet to flow.

Scarcely had Parliament reassembled when it was announced that the king had relapsed into his former condition. Both Lords and Commons refused to proceed with business till this matter was ascertained and settled. The Lords then requested York once more to resume the protectorate for the good of the nation; but this time he was not to be caught in his former snare. He professed his insufficiency for the onerous office, and begged of them to lay its responsibilities on some more able person. He was quite safe in this course, for he had now acquired a majority in the council, and the office of chancellor and the Governorship of Calais were in the hands of his two stout friends, Salisbury and Warwick. Of course, the reply was that no one was so capable or suitable as he; and then he expressed his willingness to accept the protectorate, but only on condition that its revocation should not lie in the mere will of the king, but in the king with the consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal in Parliament assembled. The protectorate was to devolve, as before, on the Prince of Wales, in case the malady of the king continued so long.

York might think that he was now secure from the machinations of the queen, but he was deceived. This never-resting lady was at that very moment actively preparing for his defeat; and no sooner did Parliament meet after the Christmas recess than Henry again presented himself in person, announcing his restoration to health, and dissolved the protectorate. The Duke of York resigned his authority with apparent good-will. Calais and the chancellorship passed from Salisbury and Warwick to the friends of[9] the queen; the whole Government was again on its old footing. Two years passed on in apparent peace to the nation, but in the most bitter party warfare at court. The queen and her associates could never rest while the Duke of York and his friends were permitted to escape punishment for the late outbreak. The relatives of Somerset and the Earl of Northumberland, and of the other nobles slain at St. Albans, were encouraged to demand with eagerness vengeance on the Yorkists. Both parties surrounded themselves more and more with armed retainers, and everything portended fresh acts of bloodshed and discord. The king endeavoured to avert this by summoning a great council at Coventry in 1457. There the Duke of Buckingham made a formal rehearsal of all the offences committed by York and his party; at the conclusion of which the peers fell on their knees and entreated the king to make a declaration that he would never more show grace to the Duke of York, or any other person who should oppose the power of the crown or endanger the peace of the kingdom. To this the king consented; and then the Duke of York, Salisbury, and Warwick renewed their oaths of fealty, and all the lords bound themselves never for the future to seek redress by arms, but only from the justice of the sovereign.


At the close of this council, the Duke of York retired to Wigmore, Salisbury to Middleham, and Warwick to Calais. It was soon found that, notwithstanding all these oaths and these royal endeavours, the same animosity was alive in the two hostile parties, and the king tried still further the hopeless experiment of reconciliation. He prevailed on the leaders to meet him in London. On the[10] 26th of January, 1458, the leaders of the York and Lancaster factions appeared in the metropolis, but they came attended by armed retainers—the Duke of York with 140 horse, the now Duke of Somerset with 200, and Salisbury with 400, besides fourscore knights and esquires. York and his friends were admitted into the city, probably as being more under the control of the authorities; for the lord mayor, at the head of 5,000 armed citizens, undertook to maintain the peace. The Lancastrian lords were lodged in the suburbs. Every day the Yorkists met at the Blackfriars and the Lancastrians at the Whitefriars, and after communicating with each other, the result was sent to the king, who lay at Berkhampstead with several of the judges. The result of their deliberations was this:—The king, as umpire, awarded that the Duke of York, and the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, should, within two years, found a chantry for the good of the souls of the three lords slain in battle at St. Albans, that both those who slew, and those who were slain at that battle should be reputed faithful subjects; that the Duke of York should pay to the dowager Duchess of Somerset and her children the sum of 5,000, and the Earl of Warwick to the Lord Clifford 1,000 marks; and that the Earl of Salisbury should release to Percy Lord Egremont all the damages he had obtained against him for an assault, on condition that the said Lord Egremont should bind himself to keep the peace for ten years.

The next day, March 25th, the king came to town, and went to St. Paul's in procession, followed by the whole court, the queen conducted by the Duke of York, and the lords of each party walking arm-in-arm before them, in token of perfect reconciliation. But real reconciliation was as distant as ever. The causes of contention lay too deep for the efforts of the simple and well-intentioned king, or even for the subtlest acts of diplomacy. It was the settled strife for a crown; and swords, not oaths, could alone decide it. The whole show was a mocking pageant. The slightest spark might any day light up a flame which would rage through the whole kingdom; and in a little more than a month such a spark fell into the combustible mass. News arrived that a large fleet of merchantmen from Lübeck had been attacked by Warwick as it passed down the Channel, and five sail of them captured after a severe contest, and carried into Calais. As Lübeck was a town of the Hanseatic League, that powerful association—which was in amity with England—speedily sent commissioners to London demanding redress. Warwick was summoned to appear before the council; and, whilst in attendance, a quarrel arose betwixt his followers and those of the court. Warwick believed, or feigned—to escape out of the scrape into which he had fallen—that there was a design upon his life. He fled to his father, Salisbury, and York, and they resolved that their only safety lay in arms. There was a story circulated, and thoroughly believed in by the Yorkist party, that the queen, who never forgot or forgave an enemy, kept a register, written in blood, of all the Yorkist chiefs, and had vowed never to rest till they were exterminated. In fact, both parties were arrived at that pitch of rancour which nothing could appease but the blood of their opponents. The feud was no longer confined to the nobles and their immediate retainers; the leaven of discord had pervaded the whole mass of the nation. The conflicting claims had been discussed till they had penetrated into every village, every family, into the convents of the monks, and the cottages of the poor. One party asserted that the Duke of York was an injured prince, driven from his hereditary right by a usurping family, and now marked to be destroyed by them. The other contended that, though Henry IV. had deposed Richard II., he had been the choice of the nation; that his son had made the name of England glorious; that more than sixty years' possession of the crown was itself sufficient warrant for its retention; that the Duke of York had, over and over again, sworn eternal fealty to Henry VI., which was in itself a renunciation of any claim he might previously possess; and that, in seeking now to deprive the king of his throne, he was a perjured and worthless man. One party argued that York owed his life to the clemency of the king; and the other replied that the king equally owed his to that of York, who had him in his power at St. Albans.

While the nation was thus heating its blood in these disputes, the heads of the different factions were busy preparing to meet each other in the field. The three lords spent the winter in arousing their partisans. Warwick called around him at Calais the veterans who had fought in Normandy and Guienne. On the other hand, the court distributed in profusion collars of white swans, the badge of the young prince; and the friends of the king were invited by letters, under the privy seal, to meet him in arms at Leicester. The spring and summer had come and gone, however, before the rival parties proceeded to actual extremities. The[11] finances of the court impeded its proceedings; and the Yorkist party still averred that it had no object but its own defence and the rescue of the Government from traitors.

At length, on the 23rd of September, 1459, the Earl of Salisbury marched forth from his castle of Middleham, in Yorkshire, to form a junction with York on the borders of Wales. Lord Audley, with a force of 10,000 men, far exceeding that of Salisbury, sought to intercept his progress at Blore Heath in Staffordshire; but the veteran Salisbury was too subtle for his antagonist. He pretended to fly at the sight of such unequal numbers; and having thus seduced Audley to pass a deep glen and torrent, he fell upon his troops when part only were over, and, throwing them into confusion, made a dreadful slaughter of them. Some writers contend that Salisbury had only 500 men with him; but this appears incredible, for they left Lord Audley with 2,000 of his men dead on the field, and took prisoner Lord Dudley, with many knights and esquires. The earl pursued his way unmolested to Ludlow, where York lay, and where they were joined in a few days by Warwick with his large reinforcement of veterans under Sir John Blount and Sir Andrew Trollop.

The king, queen, and lords of their party had assembled an army of 60,000 men. With these they advanced to within half a mile of Ludiford, the camp of York, near Ludlow, on the 10th of October; and Henry, after all his experience, had the goodness, or the weakness, once more to renew his offers of pardon and reconciliation on condition that his opponents should submit within six days. York and his colleagues replied that they had no reliance on his promises because those about him did not observe them, and that the Earl of Warwick, trusting to them last year, nearly lost his life. Yet they still protested that nothing but their own security caused them to arm, and that they had determined not to draw the sword against their sovereign unless they were compelled. It was concluded by the royal party to give battle on the 13th, but they found York posted with consummate military skill. His camp was defended by several batteries of cannon, which played effectively on the royal ranks as they attempted to advance. The royalists, therefore, deferred the engagement till the next morning, and were relieved from that necessity by Sir Andrew Trollop, who was marshal of the Yorkist army, going over in the night with all his Calais auxiliaries to the king. Trollop had hitherto believed the assurances of the Yorkist leaders that they sought only Government redress, and not subversion of the throne; but something had now opened his eyes, and, as he was a staunch royalist, he acted accordingly. This event struck terror and confusion through the Yorkist army. Every man was doubtful of his fellow; the confederate lords made a hasty retreat into Wales, whence York and one of his sons passed over to Ireland, and the rest followed Warwick, who hastened to Devonshire, and thence escaped again to Calais.

Nothing shows so strikingly the feeble councils of the royal camp as that these formidable foes should have been permitted to decamp without any pursuit. A vigorous blow at the now panic-struck enemy might for ever have rid the king of his mortal antagonists. But Henry, always averse from shedding blood, was, no doubt, glad of this unexpected escape from it, and his generals were weak enough to acquiesce. The court returned to London, and satisfied themselves with passing an act of attainder against the Duke and Duchess of York, and their sons, the Earls of March and Rutland, against the Earl and Countess of Salisbury, and their son the Earl of Warwick, the Lord Clinton, and various knights and esquires. Even this was painful to the morbidly tender mind of Henry. He reserved to himself the right to reverse the attainder, if he thought proper, and refused to permit the confiscation of the property of Lord Powis, and two others who had thrown themselves on his clemency.

Meanwhile the insurgent chiefs, though dispersed, were not crushed. York had great popularity in Ireland; Warwick had a strong retreat in Calais. To deprive him of this, the Duke of Somerset was appointed governor, and, encouraged by the conduct of the Calais veterans at Ludiford, set out to drive Warwick from that city. But he met with a very different reception to that which he had calculated upon. He was assailed by a severe fire from the batteries, and compelled to stand out. On making an attempt to reach Calais from Guisnes, he found himself deserted by his sailors, who carried his fleet into Calais, and surrendered it to their favourite commander. Warwick stationed a sufficient force to watch Somerset in Guisnes, and, so little did he care for him, set out with his fleet, and dispersed two successive armaments sent to the relief of Somerset from the ports of Kent. When this had been done, he sailed to Dublin, to concert measures with York, and returned in safety to Calais, having met the high-admiral, the Duke of Exeter, who at sight of him escaped into Dartmouth.


In the spring of 1460 the Yorkists, who had fled so rapidly from the royal army at Ludiford, and had seemed to vanish as a mist, were again on foot, and in a threatening attitude. They had sedulously scattered proclamations throughout the country, still protesting that they had no designs on the crown; that the king was so well assured of it that he refused to ratify the act of attainder, but that he was in the hands of the enemies of the nation. These documents concluded by saying that the maligned lords were resolved now to prove their loyalty in the presence of the sovereign. Following up this, Warwick landed in June, in Kent—next to the marches of Wales the great stronghold of the house of York. He had brought only 1,500 men with him, but he was accompanied by Coppini, the Pope's legate, who had been sent indeed to Henry, but was gained over by Warwick. In Kent they were joined by the Lord Cobham with 400 men; by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had received his preferment from York during his protectorate; and by a large number of knights and gentlemen of the county. As he advanced towards the capital, people flocked to him from all sides till his army amounted to 30,000, some say 40,000, men. He entered London on the 2nd of July, and, proceeding to the convocation, prevailed on no less than five bishops to accompany him to an interview with the king, who was lying at Coventry. The legate issued a letter to the clergy, informing them that he had laid it before the king; that the Yorkists demanded nothing but personal security, peaceable enjoyment of their property, and the removal of evil counsellors. All this was calculated to turn the credulous, or to prevent them from swelling the forces of the court.

From a photograph by Frith and Co., Reigate


(From a photograph by Frith and Co., Reigate.)

Henry advanced to Northampton, where he entrenched himself in a strong camp. On arriving before it, Warwick made three successive attempts to obtain an interview with the king, but finding it unavailing, the legate excommunicated the royal party, and set up the papal banner in the Yorkist camp. For this he was afterwards recalled by the Pope, imprisoned, and degraded; but for the time it had its effect. Warwick gave the king notice that, as he would not listen to any overtures, he must prepare for battle at two in the afternoon on[13] the 10th of July, 1460. The royal party made themselves certain of victory, but were this time confounded by Lord Grey of Ruthin going over to the enemy, as Sir Andrew Trollop had deserted the other party at Ludlow. Grey introduced the Yorkists into the very heart of Henry's camp, and the contest was speedily decided. Warwick ordered his followers to spare the common soldiers, and direct their attacks against the leaders; and accordingly of these there were slain 300 knights and gentlemen, including the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and the Lords Beaumont and Egremont. A second time Henry fell into the hands of his rebellious subjects, but they treated him with all respect. The queen and her son escaped into Wales, and thence into Scotland, after having been plundered on the way by their own servants.


The victors then marched back to London, carrying the king along with them a captive, but with studied appearance of being still at the head of his loving subjects. He entered the city, as in triumph, Warwick riding bareheaded before him, carrying the sword. Writs were issued in his name, applauding the loyalty of the very man who had made war on and seized his person, and a Parliament was summoned for the redress of grievances, the chief of these being the acts issued last year in the Parliament at Coventry, attainting the Yorkist leaders, which, of course, were abolished.[14] This had scarcely been effected when the Duke of York arrived from Ireland, at the head of 500 horse. He rode into Westminster, entered the House of Lords, and advancing to the throne laid his hand on the gold cloth, and seemed to wait as in expectance that he should be invited to seat himself there. But no such invitation was given. To do so would have been to act in opposition, on the part of the peers, to all the assurances that from first to last had been made by York and his friends, that he sought no such thing. It was now, however, the intention of York to throw off the mask, and openly lay claim to the crown. The manner in which the public, both aristocracy and people, had flocked to the standard of Warwick, led him to believe that it was now safe to declare himself; but he had himself defeated, in a great measure, his own object. His constant assertions that he sought only reform, not the subversion of the royal authority, his repeated oaths of fealty, had convinced all parties, except that of his own private friends, that he was sincere in his declarations, and they esteemed him for his honourable conduct to the gentle and inoffensive king. When, therefore, he did declare his intention of seizing the crown, the astonishment and disapprobation were proportionate.

As all remained silent when he laid his hand on the throne, he turned and looked, as if for help, towards the assembled nobles. The Archbishop of Canterbury, to put an end to the embarrassing dilemma, asked him if he would not pay his respects to the king, who was in the queen's apartment. York replied that he knew no one to whom he owed that title; that he was subject to no man in that realm, but, under God, was himself entitled to the sovereignty. The peers preserved a profound and discouraging silence; and York, not finding that response which he had hoped, left the house. It was, however, only to take possession of the palace as his hereditary right. Thence he sent to the peers a written demand of the crown, tracing his descent, showing its priority to that of the line of Lancaster, and that, by every plea of right, law, and custom, the possession of the throne centred in him. To this he requested an immediate answer. This demand was carried by the lords to the king, who, on hearing it, said, "My father was king: his father also was king. I have worn the crown forty years from my cradle; you have all sworn fealty to me as your sovereign; and your fathers have done the same to my fathers; how, then, can my right be disputed?"

The Lords resolved to take the matter into consideration, as if it were a thing to be decided by evidence, without any heat or violence. They called upon the judges to defend, to the best of their ability, the claims of the king. But the judges objected that they were judges, not advocates; that it was their business not to produce arguments, but merely to decide on such as were advanced. They declared this to be a case above the law, and only to be decided by the high court of Parliament. The Lords then called upon the king's serjeants and attorneys, who also endeavoured to escape from the dangerous task, but were not permitted, their office being, in reality, to give advice to the Crown.

The Peers then proceeded to the discussion of this great question. They objected to York's claims, that he had really renounced any right given him by descent, by repeatedly swearing fealty to Henry; that the many Acts of Parliament passed to sanction the right of the house of Lancaster themselves were sufficient, and had authority to defeat any measure of title; that the duke bore the arms of Edmund, the fifth son of Edward III., and not those of Lionel, the third son, from whom he claimed, showing that he himself held that to be his true descent. York replied to all these arguments, but especially to that wherein he knew the main force to lie, the effect of his own oaths. This he declared nugatory, inasmuch as those oaths were of necessity and constraint, and, therefore, acknowledged by all men in all ages to be utterly void.

The result was that the Lords came to the conclusion which the power of outward circumstances rather than their real convictions, dictated. They attempted a compromise, which, had Henry had no issue, might have succeeded, but which, as it went to disinherit the son of Henry, and much more the son of Margaret, was certain to produce fresh conflicts. The queen, whose resolute spirit would have been worthy of all admiration had it been accompanied by a spirit of liberality and conciliation, was sure never to acquiesce in the rejection of her own son while she could move a limb, or raise a soldier. The verdict of the Lords was that York's claim was just, but should not take effect during the lifetime of the present king. The decision of the Peers was accepted by York and his two sons, March and Rutland, who swore not to molest the king, but to maintain him on his throne; and, on the other hand, Henry gave his assent to the Bill, declared any attempt on the duke high treason, and settled estates on him and his sons as the succeeding royal line.


But Margaret of Anjou never for a moment conceded this repudiation of the rights of her son. She upbraided Henry for his unnatural conduct, and quitting her retreat in Scotland, appeared in the midst of her northern friends, calling on them by every argument of loyalty to the throne, and security to themselves, to take the field against the traitor York. The Earl of Northumberland, the Lords Dacre, Clifford, and Neville were soon in arms. They assembled at York; and Margaret, roused to the highest state of indignation by the disinheriting of her son, put forth all her powers to attach adherents to her standard. She assumed the most fascinating affability, and lavished her caresses and her promises on all whom she came near. She excited the jealousy of the northern barons by depicting the bold assumption of the southern nobles, who had presumed to give away the crown as if it were their own; and she promised to every one unlimited plunder of the estates and property of the people south of the Trent. These arts and allurements speedily brought 30,000 men to her standard, which was now joined by the Earls of Somerset and Devon.

York and Salisbury set out in haste from London to oppose this growing force. They seem not to have been duly informed of its real strength, for they pushed forward with only 5,000 men. They received a rude admonitory attack at Worksop, in Nottinghamshire, on the 21st of December; but, still advancing, York threw himself, before Christmas, into the strong castle of Sandall. Here it was the evident policy of York to await the arrival of his son, the Earl of March, who was collecting forces in the marches of Wales; but either he was straitened for provisions, or was weak enough to be influenced by the taunts of the queen, who sent him word that it did not become the future king of England to coop himself up in a fortress, but to dare to meet those whom he dared to depose. He issued into the open country, in defiance of the warnings of Salisbury and Sir David Hall, and gave battle, on the 30th of December, to the queen's troops near Wakefield. The Duke of Somerset commanded the queen's army. He led the main body himself, and gave the command of one wing to the Earl of Wiltshire, and the other to Lord Clifford, ordering them to keep concealed till the action had commenced, and then to close in upon York. This was done with such success that York, who fell with great fury on Somerset, found himself instantly surrounded. Two thousand of his men were speedily slain, and the greater part of the remainder compelled to surrender. He himself, with most of his commanders, was left dead upon the field; the veteran Salisbury was taken, conveyed to Pontefract Castle, with several knights and gentlemen, and there beheaded.

When the body of York was found, his head was cut off and carried to Queen Margaret, who rejoiced excessively at the sight, uttered most unfeminine reproaches upon it, and ordered it to be crowned with a paper crown in mockery, and placed upon the walls of York. Whethamstede, a cotemporary, says that the duke was taken alive, and beheaded on the field. At all events, Lord Clifford brought the head to the queen, stuck upon a spear; and this ferocious nobleman, whose father was killed at the battle of St. Albans, not satisfied with this revenge, perpetrated the murder of York's son, Rutland, with a fell barbarity which has covered his name with infamy. This youth, who was but about seventeen years of age, handsome and amiable, was met by Clifford as he was endeavouring to escape across the bridge of Wakefield in the care of his tutor, Sir Robert Aspall. The poor boy, seeing the bloody Clifford, fell on his knees, and entreated for mercy. The savage demanded who he was; and Aspall, thinking to save him by the avowal, said it was the younger son of York. Then swore Clifford—"As thy father slew mine, so will I slay thee, and all thy kin;" and plunging the dagger into his heart, ruthlessly bade the tutor go and tell his mother what he had done.

The spirit of the "she-wolf of France" seemed to animate all her army on this occasion. There was nothing but butchery, and exultation in it. Margaret thought she had now removed the danger in destroying York. "At this deadly blood-supping," says Hall, "there was much joy and great rejoicing: but many laughed then that sore lamented after—as the queen herself and her son; and many were glad of other men's deaths, not knowing that their own were near at hand, as the Lord Clifford and others."

The revenge soon came. The Earl of March, York's eldest son, was advancing to prove that York was still alive in the new possessor of the title. Yet, before his blow of vengeance fell, Margaret had one more triumph. She had pursued her march on London after the battle of Wakefield, and had reached St. Albans. But there she came in contact with the army of Warwick. Flushed with victory, her forces fell upon the enemy. Warwick had posted himself on the[16] low hills to the south-east of the town. The royalists penetrated to the very town cross, where they were repulsed by a strong body of archers. But they soon made their way by another street through the town, and the battle raged on the heaths lying betwixt St. Albans and Barnet. The last troops which made a stand were a body of Kentish men, who, maintaining the conflict till night, enabled the Yorkists to retreat from the victorious van, and disperse. The king was found in his tent, under the care of Lord Montague, his chamberlain, where he was visited by Margaret and his son, whom he received with the liveliest joy. The Yorkists in this second battle of St. Albans, fought February 17th, 1461, lost about 2,000 men. Edward, called "the late Earl of March," was proclaimed a traitor, and rewards offered for his apprehension. But the success of this action was defeated by the insubordination of the troops. They were chiefly borderers, who had been led on by hopes of plunder, and had been freely promised it by Margaret and her allies. Nothing could induce them to advance farther. They were only bent on ravaging the neighbourhood, and the citizens of London closed their gates against them and held out for York.

Edward was rapidly marching to the capital. He was at Gloucester when the news of the fall of his father and the atrocious murder of his brother reached him; and the intelligence arousing the Welsh borderers, they flocked to his standard, breathing vengeance. His march was harassed by a party of royalists—consisting chiefly of Welsh and Irish—under Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, the king's half-brother. To free himself of them, Edward turned upon them, on the 2nd of February, at Mortimer's Cross, near Hereford. A dreadful battle ensued, in which Edward gained a complete victory, slaying nearly 4,000 of the royalists. Jasper Tudor escaped; but his father Owen Tudor, the second husband of Catherine of Valois, and ancestor of the Tudor line of sovereigns, was taken prisoner, and with Throgmorton and seven other captains, was beheaded at Hereford, in retaliation for those who had been similarly put to death after the battle of Wakefield. The news of this butchery reaching Margaret before the battle of St. Albans, instigated her to reply with the execution of Lord Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyriel, who had so much distinguished himself in France. The spirit of deadly malice was now raging betwixt the contending parties, and one deed of cruelty provoked another.

Edward found no further obstacle on his march towards London. The terrible chastisement of the royalists made a deep impression. His force grew as he advanced. He soon joined Warwick, and collected his dispersed troops. Once united, they were more than a match for the royalists. When Edward approached London, he was welcomed as a deliverer. The lawless army of the queen had carried terror, wherever they came. The queen was as impolitic as her soldiers. She sent from Barnet into the city demanding supplies; and though the lord mayor was inclined to comply, the people stoutly refused to let any provisions pass. A party of 400 horse were sent to enforce the demand; they plundered the northern suburbs, and would have continued their depredations in London itself, but the people fell upon them, and drove them out. Such was the situation of affairs when Edward and Warwick appeared. The gates were joyfully thrown open, and Edward rode in triumph into the city. He was still but in his nineteenth year, of a remarkably handsome person, of a gay and affable disposition, and reputed to be highly accomplished. The fate of his father and brother, and the recent conduct of the queen, added greatly to the interest which he excited. While Lord Falconbridge reviewed a body of troops in the fields of Clerkenwell, Neville, the Bishop of Exeter, seized the opportunity to harangue the crowded spectators. He drew a miserable picture of the imbecility of the king, of the haughty and bloody spirit of the queen, and of the calamities which had resulted from both; and maintained that Henry, by joining the queen's forces, had forfeited the crown. He then demanded whether they would still have him for king. They shouted—"No, no!" He then asked whether they would have Edward for king, and they cried—"Yes, yes! long live King Edward!"

The popular feeling being thus ascertained, a great council was convoked by the Yorkists, on the 3rd of March, 1461, which confirmed the verdict of the public, declared Henry to have justly forfeited the crown by breaking his oath and joining in proceedings against the Duke of York, who had thus been slain; and on the 4th Edward rode in procession to Westminster Hall, where he mounted the throne, and made a speech to the thronging thousands, detailing the just claims of his family, according to hereditary succession. He then adjourned to the abbey church, where he repeated the same harangue to the same consenting audience, and was duly proclaimed by the style and title of King Edward IV.





The Battle of Towton—Edward's Coronation—Henry escapes to Scotland—The Queen seeks aid in France—Battle of Hexham—Henry made Prisoner—Confined in the Tower—Edward marries Lady Elizabeth Grey—Advancement of her Relations—Attacks on the Family of the Nevilles—Warwick negotiates with France—Marriage of Margaret, the King's Sister, to the Duke of Burgundy—Marriage of the Duke of Clarence with a Daughter of Warwick—Battle of Banbury—Rupture between the King and his Brother—Rebellion of Clarence and Warwick—Clarence and Warwick flee to France—Warwick proposes to restore Henry VI.—Marries Edward, Prince of Wales, to his Daughter, Lady Ann Neville—Edward IV.'s reckless Dissipation—Warwick and Clarence invade England—Edward expelled—His return to England—Battle of Barnet—Battle of Tewkesbury, and ruin of the Lancastrian Cause—Rivalry of Clarence and Gloucester—Edward's Futile Intervention in Foreign Politics—Becomes a Pensioner of France—Death of Clarence—Expedition to Scotland—Death and Character of the King.

Edward IV., at this period of his great success, and his acknowledgment by the people of London and the council as king, was only in his twentieth year. Handsome of person and of popular manners, he was not restrained by any such conscientious scruples as guided his father, but was bold and impetuous. He was fond of pleasure, addicted to gallantry, and at the same time as ready to shed blood as he was to make love and revel in courtly pageants. The reluctant approaches to sanguinary measures which had marked the earlier proceedings of his father, had long since vanished in the heated progress of the strife, and Edward might be regarded as the representative of the leaders now on both sides, with the exception of the gentle and forgiving Henry. But on this side Queen Margaret was as energetic as she was ambitious, and as resolute as her husband was the contrary. The circumstances into which she had been thrown had roused in her the spirit of a tigress fighting for its young.

Margaret, on the warm reception of Edward by[18] the Londoners, had retired northward with her marauding soldiers, who had so fatally damaged her cause by their outrages. Three days after his reception in London, Edward despatched Warwick, the chief bulwark of his cause, in pursuit of her, and on the 12th of March, only five days afterwards, he followed himself. On reaching the Earl of Warwick, their combined troops amounted to 40,000. The queen was exerting all her activity and eloquence amongst her northern friends, and lay at York with 60,000 men. Everything denoted the eve of a bloody conflict.

This civil war was now known all over the world as the War of the Roses, a name said to be derived from a circumstance which took place in a dispute in the Temple Gardens betwixt Warwick and Somerset, at an early period of the rival factions. Somerset, in order to collect the suffrages of those on the side of Lancaster, is said to have plucked a red rose from a bush, and called upon every man who held with him to do the like. Warwick, for York, plucked a white rose, and thus the partisans were distinguishable by these differing badges.

The vanguard of the two armies met at Ferrybridge, the passage of the river Aire. The Duke of Somerset was commander-in-chief of the royal army. The king, queen, and prince remained at York. Lord Clifford led the vanguard, and was opposed by Lord Fitzwalter on the part of the Yorkists. The battle at the bridge was furious; Fitzwalter was killed. Lord Falconbridge was instantly sent forward to replace him, and instead of opposing Clifford in front in his strong position, allowing the troops there to hold him in play, he himself crossed the Aire, some miles above Ferrybridge, and falling unexpectedly on the rear of Clifford, routed his force, and revenged the death of Fitzwalter by that of Clifford himself. The Yorkists poured over the bridge, took possession of the town, and advanced towards Towton. Meantime, Warwick, excited by the temporary repulse at the bridge under Fitzwalter, had called for his horse, stabbed him in sight of the whole army, and kissing the hilt of his bloody sword, swore that he would fight on foot, and share every fatigue and disadvantage with the common soldiers.

With minds inflamed to the utmost pitch of animosity, the two armies met on the morning of Palm Sunday, March 29th, in the fields betwixt the villages of Saxton and Towton, about ten miles south of York. Edward issued orders that no quarter should be given, no prisoners taken. The action began at nine o'clock in the morning, under circumstances most unfortunate for the Lancastrians. A snowstorm was blowing full in their faces; and Lord Falconbridge seized at once on this circumstance by an adroit stratagem. He ordered the archers to advance, discharge their arrows, and again retire out of the reach of those of the enemy. The Lancastrians, believing themselves within bow-shot of the enemy, whose arrows did great execution amongst them, returned the compliment without being able to see where their arrows reached for the snowflakes. The Yorkist archers were now out of their range, and they fell useless. Again the Yorkists advanced, and poured in a fresh flight with such effect that the Lancastrians, probably doubting of the success of their own arrows, rushed forward and came hand to hand with their opponents. It was now one terrible clash of swords, battle-axes, and spears, amid the thick-falling and blinding storm; and thus the two infuriated armies continued fighting desperately for nearly five hours. Towards evening the Lancastrians, disheartened by the fall of their principal commanders, broke and fled. They were pursued as far as Tadcaster with the fiercest impetuosity, and fearful slaughter. It was one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in Britain. According to a contemporary historian, those who were employed to number and bury the dead, declared them to be 38,000.

After celebrating the feast of Easter at York, Edward marched to Newcastle, and, leaving Warwick there to keep the north in order, returned to London on the 26th of June.

On reaching Scotland, Margaret placed Henry in a secure retreat at Kirkcudbright, and then hastened to Edinburgh, to try what could be done towards renewing the contest, which no dispersion of her friends and forces could ever teach her to relinquish. There she found a boy sovereign, a divided court, and a country which had suffered by factions almost as deadly as her own. James I., who had seemed to return to his kingdom after his long captivity under such auspicious circumstances—full of intelligence and plans for the improvement of his country, married to the woman of his affections, and courted by both England and France,—was soon murdered by the rude and lawless nobles whom he endeavoured to reduce to some degree of order and subordination. His son, James II., when arrived at years of maturity, endeavoured to recover from distracted England some of the places it had reft from Scotland formerly, but in besieging Roxburgh in 1460, he was killed by the bursting of a cannon. His[19] son was at this time a child of only eight years old, and the kingdom was governed by a council of regency; but the care of the king's person was committed to the queen-mother, Mary of Guelders, who was ambitious of engrossing not only that duty, but the actual powers of the government. In this she was opposed by the powerful family of Douglas.

Margaret had no willing listeners amongst parties who were occupied with their own schemes and feuds. She had the difficult task of appealing to their various interests; and she found no one thing capable of fixing their attention till she hit on the idea of proposing the surrender of Berwick as the price of Scotland's assistance. That key of the northern frontiers of England, for the possession of which so much blood had been spilled from age to age, was an object the proposed recovery of which at once gave her the command of the ears of the whole court. In addition to this, she offered a marriage betwixt her son, Edward, Prince of Wales, and the eldest sister of the young King of Scotland. These treaties were carried into effect, and Berwick was put into the hands of the Scots on the 25th of April, 1461.

Edward, on his return to London, was crowned on the 29th of June. He then summoned a Parliament to meet at Westminster on the 6th of July, but an invasion appearing not improbable, he prorogued it till the 4th of November. The sword and the scaffold had already so thinned the nobility that only one duke, four earls, one viscount, and twenty-nine barons were summoned to this Parliament. The great battle of Towton, which had laid so many of them low, had rendered the rest very submissive. There was no longer any hesitating betwixt the two families, or seeking of those compromises which, in the end, only produced more discord. Whatever Edward dictated was accepted as law and constitution. Of course Henry IV. was declared to have been an arrant usurper; and his posterity were held incapable, not only of wearing the crown, but of enjoying any estate or dignity in any portion of the British dominions for ever. Henry VI., Margaret, Edward, called Prince of Wales, the Dukes of Somerset and Exeter, the Earls of Northumberland, Devonshire, and Pembroke, and a vast number of lords, knights, and gentlemen, were attainted. Edward IV. was proclaimed to be the only rightful king; and all those of the York party who had been declared traitors by the Lancaster party when it was uppermost, and expelled from honours and estates, were restored.

Meanwhile, nothing daunted, Margaret was exerting her ingenuity to rouse a party in Scotland. She pleaded to deaf ears. Her surrender of Berwick brought her no real assistance; and she now sent over Somerset to endeavour to obtain succour from France. All these efforts were equally vain. Charles VII. died in 1461, and his successor, Louis XI., was immovable. Somerset, her ambassador, returned completely unsuccessful. He and his attendants had, indeed, been arrested by Louis when they attempted to escape in the guise of merchants, for fear of the despicable king giving them up to Edward to propitiate his favour. It was only through the earnest intercession of the Count of Charolais, the son of the Duke of Burgundy, that they were liberated. Louis XI. was cousin-german to both Margaret and Henry VI.; but such relationships weigh nothing with selfish men, in comparison to their own immediate interests. While this unwelcome news was arriving, Margaret was rendered the more uneasy and unsafe by the appearance of Warwick at the court of Scotland, proposing a marriage betwixt the Scottish queen and the victorious Edward of England. Under these circumstances, neither Margaret nor Henry was safe. She resolved, therefore, to make one more effort with Louis of France, and a personal one. By means of a French merchant, who owed her some kindness for past benefit, she managed to get over to France, where she threw herself at the feet of Louis, who was at Chinon in Normandy. She was only able to reach his court by the assistance of the Duke of Brittany, who gave her 12,000 crowns.

Margaret agreed to surrender the rights of the crown in Calais, and that Henry should do the same. And what was to be the price of this sacrifice—this sacrifice of this proud stronghold of England, this sacrifice of her own honour, and this last remaining fragment of her good fame in Britain? The paltry sum of 20,000 livres! That was all she could squeeze from the miserable French king for this intensely desired object. True, he had it still to win, for it was not in the possession of Margaret or her husband; but the acknowledged purchase from the Lancastrian king would give him great weight in any attempts to compel the surrender, and if Henry did again recover his throne, Calais must be made over to him at once.


With her 20,000 livres Margaret was enabled to engage the services of Pierre de Brézé, the seneschal of Normandy. He had been an old admirer[20] of Margaret's, and now offered to follow her with 2,000 men. With this force, after an absence of five months, she set sail for England, and attempted to land at Tynemouth, in October, 1462, but was repelled by the garrison. The fleet was now attacked by a terrible storm; the very elements seemed to fight against her. Many of her ships ran ashore near Bamborough. Yet, spite of all her difficulties, Margaret effected a landing, and gained possession of the castles of Bamborough, Dunstanburgh, and Alnwick. She sent for Henry from his safe hiding-place at Harlech Castle in Merionethshire, where she had left him while she went to France, and was gathering some considerable forces of Scots and French when Warwick drew near with 20,000 men, and news was received that Edward was approaching with an equal number. Edward halted at Newcastle, but Warwick advancing, divided his forces into three bodies, and simultaneously invested the three strongholds. Somerset surrendered Bamborough on condition that himself and Sir Ralph Percy, and others, should be allowed to take the oath of fealty to Edward, and be restored to all their honours and estates; and that the rest of the two garrisons, with the Earl of Pembroke, and some others, whose lands had been conferred on Edward's friends, and could not, therefore, be now restored, should be conveyed in safety to Scotland. This defection of her chief supporters[21] was a dreadful blow to the queen, and, to add to her misfortunes, 500 of her French followers, who had established themselves in Holy Island were attacked and cut to pieces by Sir Robert Ogle. Alnwick Castle still held out in the hands of the brave De Brézé and Lord Hungerford; but the Earl of Angus coming up with a party of relief, the besieged took the opportunity to make a sally and escape from the castle to their friends. Bamborough and Dunstanburgh were restored by the king to Lord Percy; but Alnwick he gave to Sir John Ashley, to the great offence of Sir Ralph Grey, who had formerly won it for Edward, and now expected to have had it.


It might have been supposed that all hope of ever restoring the Lancastrian cause was now at an end. But in the soul of Margaret hope never seemed to die. With an admirable and indomitable resolution, she again turned her efforts to reconstruct a fresh army. She traversed Scotland, drew together her scattered friends, joined them to her French auxiliaries, whom she again mustered on the Continent: and by the spring of 1464 was in a condition once more to march into England. For some time her affairs wore a promising aspect. She retook the castles of Alnwick, Bamborough, and Dunstanburgh. Somerset, Sir Ralph Percy, and the rest who had made their peace with Edward, hearing of her successes, again flew to her standard. Sir Ralph Grey, who resented the preference given to Sir John Ashley by Edward in the disposal of Alnwick, came over to her, and was made commander of Bamborough.

Edward, on the news of these reverses, dispatched the Lord Montague, the brother of Warwick, into the north to raise his forces there, and make head against the never-resting queen. He met with Sir Ralph Percy on Hedgeley Moor, near Wooler, on the 25th of April, defeated his forces, and killed Sir Ralph. Having received fresh reinforcements from the south, he advanced towards Margaret's main army, and encamped on a plain, called the Levels, near Hexham. There, on the 15th of May, the two armies came to a general action, and after a long and bloody conflict the Lancastrians were again completely routed. Poor King Henry fled for his life, and this time managed not to be left in the hands of his enemies.


Margaret and her son, with a few attendants, were meanwhile flying wildly through the neighbouring forests from the tender mercies of this sanguinary young king. She was endeavouring to reach the Scottish borders, when they were met by a party of marauders, with whom the Border country abounded. The queen on her knees implored mercy, and avowed who she was; but the villains who had hold of her, seeing their associates busy dividing the rich booty, turned to them, and she seized the opportunity, while they were quarrelling over it, to fly with her son. The fugitives rushed onward, not knowing whither they were going, till night overtook them. Nearly fainting with terror, fatigue, and hunger, as the moon broke through the clouds they beheld a huge man, armed, and with threatening gestures hastening towards them. Imagining it was one of the band that had robbed them who had now overtaken her, she expected nothing but death; but, mustering her characteristic resolution, she bade the man see that if he hoped for booty it was useless, for she and her child had been stripped even of their upper garments for their value. The man appeared to be one of the numerous outlaws harboured in that locality, and many of whom had seen better days. He was touched by her appeal, and Margaret, perceiving it, said, "Here, my friend, save the son of your king! I charge thee to preserve from violence that innocent royal blood. Take him, and conceal him from those who seek his life. Give him a refuge in thine obscure hiding-place, and he will one day give thee free access to his royal chamber, and make thee one of his barons." The man, struck by the majestic presence of the queen, the pleading innocence of the prince, and the words of Margaret, knelt, and vowed he would rather die a thousand deaths than injure or betray them. He carried the young prince in his arms to his cave, on the south bank of a little stream which runs at the foot of Blockhill, and, from this circumstance, still called "Queen Margaret's cave." There the man's wife made them right welcome, and, after two days' concealment, the outlaw succeeded in meeting with De Brézé, and his followers soon afterwards discovered the Duke of Exeter and Edward Beaufort—from the execution of his brother now Duke of Somerset; and with them Margaret escaped to Scotland, and, after many adventures, reached France. There Margaret received the melancholy news of the capture and imprisonment of her husband. For about twelve months the unfortunate monarch had contrived to elude the eager quest of his enemies. He went from place to place amongst the friends of the house of Lancaster in Westmoreland, Lancashire, and Yorkshire. At the various halls and castles where he sojourned, tradition has to this day retained the memory of his presence. He was at length betrayed by a monk of Abingdon, and he was taken by the servants of Sir John Harrington, as he sat at dinner at Waddington Hall. He was treated with the utmost indignity on his way to London. He was mounted on a miserable hack, his legs being tied to his stirrups, and an insulting placard fixed on his back. At Islington Warwick met the fallen king, and disgraced himself by commanding the thronging spectators to show no respect to him. To enforce his command by his own example, he led the unhappy man three times round the pillory, as if he had been a common felon, crying, "Treason! treason! Behold the traitor!"

Edward, now freed from his enemies, considered himself as established on the throne beyond all doubt. He created Lord Montacute Earl of Northumberland for his services at Hexham, and Lord Herbert Earl of Pembroke. He issued a long list of attainders to exhaust the resources of his opponents and increase those of his adherents. He then passed an Act for the resumption of the Crown lands to supply a royal income; but this was clogged by so many exceptions that it proved fruitless. He then gave himself up to mirth and jollity, and in the pursuit of his pleasures made himself so affable and agreeable, especially with the Londoners, that, in spite of his free gallantries, he was very popular. So strongly did he now seem to be grounded in the affections of his subjects, that he ventured to make known a private marriage, which he had contracted some time before, though he knew that it would give deep offence in several quarters.

It is a curious circumstance that in the early part of the reign of Henry VI., two ladies of royal lineage, and one of them of royal rank, had condescended to marry private gentlemen, to the great scandal of their high-born connections. One of these was Catherine of Valois, the widow of Henry V., and mother of Henry VI., who married Owen Tudor. The other was Jacquetta of Luxembourg, the widow of the great Duke of Bedford, Regent of France, who married Sir Richard Woodville. Both Tudor and Woodville were men of remarkable beauty; and both were imprisoned and persecuted for the offence of marrying, without permission of the Crown, princesses[23] who chose to fall in love with them. Woodville regained his liberty by the payment of a fine of 1,000 crowns. Tudor's persecutions were more severe and prolonged. Yet, from these two scandalous mésalliances, as they were regarded by the Court and high nobility, sprang a line of the most remarkable princes that ever sat upon the English throne. The blood of both these ladies mingled in the burly body of Henry VIII. and his descendants. We have seen how Tudor became the grandfather of Henry VII.; we have now to observe how Woodville became the grandfather of Henry's wife, Elizabeth of York.

Jacquetta had several children by Sir Richard Woodville, one of whom, Elizabeth, was a woman of much beauty and great accomplishments. She had been married to Sir John Grey of Groby, a Lancastrian, who fell at the second battle of St. Albans. His estate was consequently confiscated; his widow, with seven children, returned to her father, and was living at his seat at Grafton, in Northamptonshire. Edward being out on a hunting party in the neighbourhood, took the opportunity to call on the Duchess of Bedford. There he saw and was greatly struck with the beauty of the Lady Grey. She, on her part, seized the occasion to endeavour to secure some restitution of their property for her children. The whole of her subsequent life showed that she was not a woman to neglect such opportunities. She threw herself at the feet of the gay monarch, and with many tears besought him to restore to her innocent children their father's patrimony.

Lady Grey made more impression than she probably intended. Edward was perfectly fascinated by her beauty and spirit. He raised her from her suppliant posture, and promised her his favour. He soon communicated to her the terms on which he would grant the restitution of her property; but he found in Elizabeth Woodville, or Grey, a very different person to those he had been accustomed to meet. She firmly refused every concession inconsistent with her honour, and the king, piqued by the resistance he encountered, became more and more enamoured.

On the 1st of May, 1464, he married her at Grafton, in the presence only of the priest, the clerk, the Duchess of Bedford, and two female attendants. Within a few days after the marriage he set out to meet the Lancastrians in the north; but the battles of Hedgeley Moor and Hexham were fought before his arrival; and on his return he became anxious to open the matter to his council, and to obtain its sanction. Accordingly, at Michaelmas, he summoned a general council of the peers at the abbey of Reading, where he announced this important event. Amongst the Peers present were Edward's brother the Duke of Clarence, and the great king-maker, Warwick. To neither of these individuals was the transaction agreeable. To Clarence it appeared too inferior a choice for the King of England, though Elizabeth Grey, by her mother's side, was of princely blood. But to Warwick there was offence in it, personal and deep. He had been commissioned by Edward to solicit for him the hand of Bona of Savoy, the sister of the Queen of France. The proposal had been accepted; the King of France had given his consent; the treaty of marriage was actually drawn; and there lacked nothing but the ratification of the terms agreed upon, and the bringing over of the princess to England. At this moment came the order to pause in the proceedings, and the mystery was soon cleared up by the confident rumour of this sudden matrimonial caprice of the king. Warwick returned in high dudgeon; from Edward he did not try to conceal it; but the time for revenge of his injured honour was not yet come; and therefore, after the royal announcement in the council, Clarence and Warwick took Elizabeth by the hand, and introduced her to the rest of the peers. A second council was held at Westminster, in December, and the income of the new queen was settled at 4,000 marks a year.

It was not to be expected that this sudden elevation of a simple knight's daughter to the throne would pass without murmuring and discontent, which was probably the more fully expressed as it was shared by the all-powerful Warwick and the king's brothers. There were busy rumours that the politic old duchess, Jacquetta, and her daughter, had practised magical arts upon the king, and administered philtres; and that, recovering from their effect, he had grievously repented, and endeavoured to free himself. But Edward's whole conduct towards the queen showed the falsity of this jealous gossip; and to make it obvious that she was of no mean parentage, he invited to the coronation her mother's brother, John of Luxembourg, with a retinue of a hundred knights and gentlemen.

But if the king had made apparent her noble birth and his continued affection for her, it became speedily as apparent that the marriage of a subject was to be followed by all its inconveniences. Elizabeth, though raised to the throne,[24] might still be said to be on her knees, imploring the favour of the king. There was nothing which she thought too much for her numerous relations, and the king displayed a marvellous facility in complying with her requests. Her father was created Earl Rivers, and soon after the Lord Mountjoy, a partisan of the Nevilles, was removed to make way for him as Treasurer of England; and again, on the resignation of the Earl of Worcester, the office of Lord High Constable was conferred on him. That was very well for a beginning, but it was nothing to what followed; every branch of the queen's family must be aggrandised without delay. She had five sisters, and each of them was married to one of the highest noblemen in the realm: one to the Duke of Buckingham; one to the heir of the Earl of Essex; a third to the Earl of Arundel; a fourth to Lord Grey de Ruthin, who was made Earl of Kent; and the fifth to Lord William Herbert, created Earl of Huntingdon. Her brother Anthony was married to the heiress of the late Lord Scales, and endowed with her estate and title. Her younger brother John, in his twentieth year, was married to the wealthy old dowager Duchess of Norfolk, in her eightieth year; such was the shameless greed of this family. The queen's son, Thomas Grey, was married to the king's niece, the daughter and heiress of the Duke of Exeter. The Nevilles looked on all these extraordinary proceedings with ominous gloom.

Fresh cause of disunion arose between the king and Warwick. A marriage had for some time been in agitation between Margaret, the king's sister, and the Count of Charolais, son and heir of the Duke of Burgundy. The count was sprung from the house of Lancaster, and even when his father showed the most settled coolness towards Henry VI. and Margaret, had displayed a warm sympathy for them. It was a good stroke of policy, therefore, to win him over by this marriage to the reigning dynasty. But Warwick, who in his former intercourse with Burgundy in France had conceived a deep dislike to him, opposed this match, and represented one with a son of Louis XI. as far more advantageous. To Warwick's arguments was opposed the evident policy of maintaining our commercial intercourse with the Netherlands, and of possessing so efficient an ally on the borders of France against the deep and selfish schemes of Louis. But in the end Warwick prevailed. He was sent over to France to negotiate the affair with Louis. Warwick went attended with a princely train, and with all the magnificence which distinguished him at home, more like that of a great sovereign than of a subject. Louis, who never lost an opportunity of sowing jealousies amongst his enemies, even while he appeared to be honouring them, met Warwick at Rouen, attended by the queen and princesses. The inhabitants, obeying royal orders, went out and escorted Warwick into the city with banners and processions of priests, who conducted the earl to the cathedral, and then to the lodgings prepared for him at the Jacobins. There also Louis and the court took up their quarters, and for twelve days, during which the conference lasted, Louis used to visit the earl in private, passing through a side door into his apartments. With all this secret and familiar intercourse, no pains were taken to conceal its existence; and the consequence was such as the astute and mischievous Louis intended. Reports were forwarded to Edward from those whom he had placed in Warwick's train, which roused his ever uncalculating anger. He hastened to the house of Warwick's brother—the Archbishop of York and Chancellor of the kingdom—demanded the instant surrender of the seals; and, enforcing the act of resumption of Crown lands lately passed, deprived the archbishop of two manors formerly belonging to the Crown.

Warwick returned, as may be supposed, in no very good humour, but still with every prospect of success in his mission. The court of France was agreeable to the match. And on the heels of the earl came the Archbishop of Narbonne and the Bastard of Bourbon to complete the arrangements. They were prepared to offer an annual pension to Edward from Louis, and to pledge the king to submit to the Pope Edward's demand for the restoration of Normandy and Aquitaine, which should be decided within four years. But the importance of these propositions, and the evident prudence of at least appearing to listen to the terms of a monarch like that of France, had no weight with Edward, who was far more distinguished for petulance and rashness than for policy. He treated the French ambassadors with the most insulting coldness; and unceremoniously quitted the capital, leaving his ministers to deal with the ambassadors, and, in fact, to get rid of them. His resentment against Warwick made him not only thus forget the courtesy due to the envoys of a great foreign prince—conduct sure to create its own punishment,—but he gave all the more favour to the suit of the Count of Charolais from the same cause.


The count had sent over his relative, the Bastard of Burgundy, ostensibly to hold a tournament with Lord Scales, the queen's brother, but really to press forward the match with the English princess. The Duke of Burgundy dying at this juncture, all difficulties vanished. The princess was affianced to the new Duke of Burgundy.

This completed the resentment of Warwick. The open insult offered to the court of France, and the rejection of the alliance which he had effected, sunk deep into his proud mind. He retired to his castle of Middleham, in Yorkshire; and occasion was taken of his absence from court to accuse him, on the evidence of one of Queen Margaret's emissaries taken in Wales, of being a secret partisan of the Lancastrian faction. The charge failed; but Edward, resolved to mortify and humiliate the man to whom he owed his throne, affected still to believe him a secret ally of the Lancastrians, and that his own safety was threatened by him. He therefore summoned a body-guard of 200 archers, without whose attendance he never stirred abroad. He expelled the Nevilles from court, and took every means to express his dislike and suspicion of that house. On the other hand, the Nevilles repaid the hatred of the upstart family of Woodville with interest; and from this moment, whatever might be the outward seeming, the feud betwixt these rival families was settled, deadly, and never terminated till it had completed the ruin of all parties.


At present the Archbishop of York, though suffering under the immediate severity of the king, was too wise to give way to his resentment. He justly feared the influence of the Woodvilles with the king, and that it might prove most injurious to his own family. He therefore stood forth as a peacemaker. He volunteered a visit to Earl Rivers, the queen's father; met him at Nottingham, and agreed on terms of reconciliation between the families. The king, queen, and court were keeping the Christmas of 1467 at Coventry. The archbishop hastened to his brother at Middleham, and prevailed upon him to accompany him to Coventry, where he was graciously received by Edward; all subjects of offence betwixt him and the relatives of the queen—especially her brothers-in-law, the Lords Herbert, Stafford, and Audley—were arranged; and the king expressed himself so much pleased with the conduct of the archbishop, that he restored to him his two manors. This pacific state of things lasted for little more than a year. On the 18th of June, 1468, the king's sister set out on her journey to meet her husband in Flanders. The king accompanied her to the coast; and, as a proof that Warwick at this moment held his old position of honour at court, the princess rode behind him through the streets of London. A conspiracy having been discovered, or supposed, of several gentlemen with Queen Margaret, Warwick and his brother, the Earl of Northumberland, were joined with the king's brothers, Clarence and Gloucester, in a commission to try them; and the two Nevilles certainly executed their part of the trust with a zeal which looked like anything[26] but disaffection. Very arbitrary measures were used towards the prisoners, several of whom were condemned and executed.

This calm was soon broken. The Duke of Clarence had from the first shown as deep a dislike to the ascendency of the Woodvilles as the Nevilles themselves. This drew him into closer intimacy with Warwick. He frequently withdrew for long periods from court, and was generally to be found at one of the residences of Warwick. It soon came out that there was a cause still more influential than his dislike of the queen's relations; it was his admiration of the Earl's eldest daughter, Isabella, who was co-heiress of his vast estates. Warwick was delighted with the prospect of this alliance, for as yet the king, having no male heir, and his only daughter being but four years old, Clarence stood as the next male heir to his brother. Edward, on the contrary, beheld this proposed connection with the utmost alarm. The Nevilles were already too powerful; and should Warwick succeed, through Clarence, in placing his descendants so near the throne, it might produce the most dangerous consequences to his own line. He therefore did all in his power to frustrate the marriage, but in vain. Clarence and Warwick retired to Calais, of which Warwick remained the governor; and there the marriage was celebrated, in the Church of St. Nicholas, on the 11th of July, 1469.

With the exception of this annoying event, at this moment Edward appeared so firmly seated on his throne, and so well secured by foreign treaties with almost all the European powers, and especially with the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany, the latter of whom had recently become his ally, that he actually contemplated the enterprise of recovering by his arms the territories which his weak predecessor had lost in France. His hatred of the cold-blooded Louis XI., who in political cunning was infinitely Edward's superior, probably urged him to this idea. To draw off the attention of the different factions at home, and find some common medium of uniting them in action abroad, might be another. The most remarkable circumstance of all was, that Parliament, after its experience of the drain which these French wars had been to the blood and resources of the nation, received the king's proposal with cordial approbation.

But these dreams of martial glory were very quickly swept from the brain of the king by domestic troubles. At first these troubles appeared to originate in private and local causes, but there was such food for combustion existing throughout the kingdom, that the farther they went, the wider they opened, and at every step onwards assumed more and more the aspect of a Warwick and Clarence conspiracy. Nothing could be farther removed from such an appearance than the opening occurrence.

The hospital of St. Leonard, near York, had possessed, from the reign of King Athelstan, a right of levying a thrave of corn (twenty-four sheaves) from every ploughland in the county. There had long been complaints that this grant was grossly abused, and instead of benefiting the poor, as it was intended, was converted to the emolument of the managers. During the last reign many had refused in consequence to yield the stipulated thrave, and Parliament had passed an act to compel the delivery. Now again the refusal to pay the demand was become general. The vassals had their goods distrained, and were themselves thrown into prison. This raised the peasantry, who were all of the old Lancastrian party, and regarded the present dynasty as usurpers and oppressors. They flew to arms, under the leadership of one Robert Hilyard, called by the insurgents Robin of Redesdale, and vowed that they would march south and reform the Government. Lord Montague, Earl of Northumberland, brother of Warwick, marched out against them, forming as they now did a body of 15,000 men, and menacing the city of York. He defeated them, seized their leader Hilyard, and executed him on the field of battle.

So far there appeared certainly no hand of the Nevilles in this movement. Northumberland did his best to crush it, and Warwick and Clarence were away at Calais, thinking, apparently, not of rebellion, but of matrimonial festivities. But the very next move revealed a startling fact.

The insurgents, though dispersed, were by no means subdued. They had lost their peasant head, but they reappeared in still greater forces, with two heads, and those no other than the Lords Fitzhugh and Latimer, the nephew and the cousin-german of Warwick. Northumberland contented himself with protecting the city of York. He made no attempt to pursue this still more menacing body, who, dropping their cry of the hospital and the thrave of corn, declared that their object was to meet the Earl of Warwick, and by his aid and advice to remove from the councils of the king the swarm of Woodvilles, whom they charged with being the authors of the oppressive taxes, and of all the calamities of the nation. The young[27] noblemen who headed the insurrection were assisted by the military abilities of an old and experienced officer, Sir William Conyers. At the name of Warwick, his tenants came streaming from every quarter, and in a few days, the insurgent army numbered 60,000 men.

Edward, on the news of this formidable movement, called together what troops he could, and fixed his headquarters at the castle of Fotheringay. Towards this place the insurgent army marched, growing, as they proceeded, in numbers and boldness. The whole outcry resolved itself into a capital charge against the Woodvilles, and the movement being headed by the Nevilles, there could not be much mystery about the matter. Yet Edward, after advancing as far as Newark, and becoming intimidated by the spirit of disaffection which everywhere prevailed, wrote imploringly to Warwick and Clarence to hasten from Calais to his assistance. The result was such as might have been expected. Warwick and Clarence, instead of complying with the king's urgent entreaty, summoned their friends to meet them at Canterbury, on the following Sunday, to proceed with them to the king to lay before him the petitions of the Commons.

In this alarming extremity, Edward looked with impatience for the arrival of the Earls of Devonshire and Pembroke, who had been mustering forces for his assistance. Devon was at the head of a strong body of archers, and Pembroke of 10,000 Welshmen. They met at Banbury, where the demon of discord divided them in their quest of quarters, and made them forget the critical situation of their sovereign. Pembroke, leaving Devon in possession, advanced to Edgecote. There he came in contact with the insurgents, who, falling upon him, deprived as he was of the assistance of Devon's archers, easily routed him. In this engagement 2,000 of his soldiers are said to have perished, and Pembroke and his brother were taken and put to death, with ten other gentlemen, on the field. Devon made no attempt to restore the fortunes of his party.

This fatal defeat completely annihilated the hopes of Edward. At the news of it, all his troops stole away from their colours, and his favourites fled for concealment. But the queen's father, Earl Rivers, was discovered in the Forest of Dean, with his son, Sir John Woodville; and the Earl of Devon, late Earl Stafford, the queen's brother-in-law, abandoned by his soldiers, was taken at Bridgewater. The whole of them were executed, Rivers and his son Woodville being conveyed to their own neighbourhood, and beheaded at Northampton.

Warwick, Clarence, and Northumberland, who had, no doubt, conducted all these movements from a distance, now appeared as principals on the scene. They marched forward from Canterbury at the head of a powerful force, and overtook Edward at Olney, plunged in despair at the sudden ruin which had surrounded him. They approached him with an air of sympathy and loyal obeisance; and Edward, imposed upon by this, with his usual unguarded anger, upbraided them with being the real authors of his troubles. He very soon perceived his folly, for he found himself, not their commander, but their captive. Warwick dismissed the insurgent army to their homes, who retired laden with booty, and sensible that they had executed all that was expected of them. Under protection of their Kentish troops, they then conducted Edward to Warwick Castle, and thence, for greater security, to Middleham.

Thus England had at the same time two kings, and both of them captive; Henry in the Tower of London, Edward at Middleham, in Yorkshire. Men now expected nothing less than that Warwick would proclaim Clarence as king, but probably the measures of Warwick and Clarence were deranged by a fresh insurrection which broke out. This time it was the Lancastrians, who seized the opportunity to raise again the banner of Henry. They appeared in the marches of Scotland, under Sir Humphrey Neville, one of the fugitives from the battle of Hexham. Warwick advanced against him in the king's name, but he found that the soldiers refused to fight until they were assured of the king's safety. Warwick was therefore compelled to produce Edward to the army at York. After that they followed him against the Lancastrians, whom they defeated, and taking their leader, brought him to the king, who ordered his instant execution.

Edward was now permitted to return to London, accompanied by several leaders of the party. There a council of peers was summoned, and then it appeared that though Warwick's faction had probably not accomplished all they had intended, they bound the king to terms which, while they neutralised the hopes of Clarence in some degree, still were calculated to add to the greatness of the house of Neville. The king announced that he had proposed to give his daughter, yet only four years old, to George, the son of the Earl of Northumberland, and presumptive heir of all the Nevilles. The council gave its unanimous[28] approbation of the measure, and the young nobleman, to raise his name to a level with his affianced bride, was created Duke of Bedford.

Outwardly everything was so harmonious, that not only was a general pardon granted to all who had been in any way concerned in the late disturbances, but the king and his reconciled friends were again proposing to invade France in concert with the Duke of Burgundy. The French court was so convinced of the reality of this invasion that it commanded a general muster of troops for the 1st of May, 1470.

But the designs of the Nevilles lay nearer home in reality. The Archbishop of York invited the king to meet Clarence and Warwick at his seat—the Moor—in Hertfordshire. As Edward was washing his hands preparatory to supper, John Ratcliff, afterwards Lord Fitzwalter, whispered in his ear that 100 armed men were on the watch to seize him and convey him to prison. Edward, having been once before trepanned by his loving friends, gave instant credence to the information, stole out, mounted a horse, and rode off to Windsor. This open confession of his opinion of the Nevilles produced a fresh scene of discord, which, with some difficulty, was appeased by the king's mother, the Duchess of York, and the parties were reconciled with just the same sincerity as before.


The Nevilles were now in too critical a position to pause. They or the king must fall. At any hour some stratagem might surprise them, and give the advantage to their injured and deadly enemies, the Woodvilles. Insurrection, therefore, was not long in showing itself again. This time it broke out in Lincolnshire, and, as in the case of the hospital of St. Leonard, appeared to have nothing whatever to do with Warwick or his party. Its ostensible cause was the old grievance of purveyance, and Sir Robert Burgh, one of the purveyors, was attacked, his house burnt down, and himself chased out of the county. Had the cause been really local, there the mischief would have ended; but now again stepped forward a partisan of Warwick, Sir Robert Wells, who encouraged the rioters to keep together, and proceed to redress, not the evils of one county, but of the nation. He put himself at their head, and they soon amounted to 30,000 men. The king required a number of nobles to raise troops with all speed, and so well did Warwick and Clarence feign loyalty that they were amongst this number.

Edward summoned Lord Wells, the father of the insurgent chief, and Sir Thomas Dymoke, the Champion, both Lincolnshire men, to the council, in order to obtain information of the extent of the insurrection, and to engage them to exert their influence to check it. Both these gentlemen, as if conscious of guilt, fled to sanctuary, but, on a promise of pardon, repaired to court. Edward insisted that Lord Wells should command his son to lay down his arms, and disperse his followers, with which order Lord Wells complied; but Sir Robert Wells received at the same time letters from Warwick and Clarence, encouraging him to hold out, assuring him that they were on the march to support him. When Edward reached Stamford, bearing Lord Wells and Dymoke with him, he found Sir Robert still in arms, and in his anger he wreaked his vengeance on his father, Lord Wells, and on Dymoke, beheading them in direct violation of his promise. He then sent a second order to Sir Robert to lay down his arms, but he replied that he scorned to surrender to a man destitute of honour, who had murdered his father. Edward then fell upon the insurgents at Empingham, in Rutlandshire, and made a terrible slaughter of them. The leaders, Wells and Sir Thomas Delalaunde, were taken and immediately executed. The inferior prisoners, as dupes to the designs of others, were dismissed.

Warwick and Clarence made for Calais. But there Warwick's lieutenant, Vauclerc, a Gascon knight, to whom he had entrusted the care of the city, refused to admit them. When they attempted to enter, the batteries were opened upon them; and when they remonstrated on this strange conduct, Vauclerc sent secretly to inform Warwick that the garrison, aware of what had taken place in England, were ill affected, and would certainly seize him if he entered; that his only chance of preserving the place for him was to appear at present hostile; and he prayed him to retire till a more favourable opportunity. To Edward, however, Vauclerc sent word that he[29] would hold the town for him as his sovereign against all attempts—for which Edward rewarded him with the government of the place, and the Duke of Burgundy added a pension of a thousand crowns. Warwick and Clarence, enraged at this unexpected repulse, sailed along the coast towards Normandy, seizing every Flemish merchantman that fell in their way in revenge against Burgundy, and entered Harfleur, where they were received with all honour by the admiral of France.


Low as were now the fortunes of Warwick and Clarence, decided as had been the failure of their attempts against Edward IV., Louis of France thought he had, in the possession of these great leaders, a means of consolidating a formidable party against Edward, who had treated his alliance with such contempt, and who entered into the closest relations with his most formidable opponent, the Duke of Burgundy. He therefore received them at Amboise, where he was holding his court, with the most marked honours, and ordered them and their ladies to have the best accommodations that could be procured in the neighbourhood. He proposed to these two chiefs to coalesce with the Lancastrian party, by which means they would be sure to gain the instant support of all that faction. He sent for Queen Margaret, who was then at Angers, and assured her that Providence had at length prepared the certain means of the restoration of King Henry and his family.

Warwick engaged, by the assistance of Louis and of the Lancastrians, to replace Henry again upon the throne. By this means Warwick was to depose, and if possible to destroy, Edward of York. But Warwick never forgot the suggestions of his ambition. He must, if possible, sit on the throne of England in the persons of his descendants. For this he had married one daughter to Clarence. When the success of Edward had enfeebled his chance, he had succeeded in affiancing his nephew to the daughter of Edward, so that if not a Warwick at least a Neville might reign. He now sacrificed both these hopes to that of placing another daughter on the throne, as the queen of Margaret's son, the Prince of Wales. This alliance was the price of Warwick's assistance, and, however bitter might be the[30] necessity, Margaret submitted to it, and the young Prince of Wales was forthwith married to Anne, the daughter of Warwick. Warwick then acknowledged Henry VI. as the rightful sovereign of England, and at the same time entered into solemn engagements to exert all his power to reinstate and maintain him on the throne. Margaret on her part swore on the holy Gospels never to reproach Warwick with the past, but to esteem him as a loyal and faithful subject. The French king, on the completion of this reconciliation, engaged to furnish the means necessary for the expedition.

Edward, on hearing of the extraordinary meeting and negotiations of Warwick and Margaret, of the active agency of the French king, and the proposed marriage of Edward, Prince of Wales, and Anne of Warwick, sent off a lady of pre-eminent art and address, who belonged to the train of the Duchess of Clarence, but who had somehow been left behind. The clever dame no sooner reached the court of Clarence than she expressed to him and the duchess her amazement at their permitting such a coalition as the present; that in every point of view it was destructive to their own hopes, and even security; that the continued adhesion of Warwick and Margaret was impossible. Their mutual antipathies were too deeply rooted ever to be eradicated.

Clarence was only one-and-twenty years of age. He was of a slender capacity, easily guided or misguided, and he agreed, on the first favourable opportunity, to abandon Warwick and go over to the king.

On the other hand, Warwick was as actively and secretly engaged in preparing the defection of partisans of the king in England. His brother, Montague, though he had not deemed it prudent to join Warwick and Clarence in their unfortunate attempt to raise the country against Edward, had been suspected by him, and stripped of the earldom of Northumberland. He was still an ostensible adherent of the king, but he was watched. Warwick apprised him of the new and wonderful turn of affairs, and engaged him to keep up a zealous show of loyalty that his defection at an important moment might tell with the more disastrous effect on the Yorkist cause.

Edward, satisfied with having detached Clarence from Warwick's interests, continued as careless as ever. The Duke of Burgundy, more sagacious than his brother-in-law, the King of England, did all that he could to arouse him to a sense of his danger, and to obstruct the progress of the expedition. He sent ambassadors to Paris to complain of the reception given to the enemies of his brother and ally. He menaced Louis with instant war if he did not desist from aiding and protecting the English traitors. He sent spies to watch the proceedings of Vauclerc, in Calais, and dispatched a squadron to make reprisals on the French merchantmen for the seizures made by Warwick, and to blockade the mouth of the Seine. Edward laughed at the fears and precautions of Burgundy. He bade him take no pains to guard the Channel, for that he should enjoy nothing better than to see Warwick venture to set foot in England.

He was not long without that pleasure. A tempest dispersed the Burgundian fleet, and the fleet of Warwick and Clarence, seizing the opportunity, put to sea, crossed the Channel, and landed on the 13th of September, 1470, without opposition, at Portsmouth and Dartmouth. Warwick had prepared his own way very skilfully. Edward was deluded by a ruse on the part of Lord Fitzwalter, the brother-in-law of Warwick, who appeared in arms in Northumberland, as if meditating an insurrection; by which means the unwary king was induced to march towards the north, leaving the southern counties exposed to the invaders. This was the object of Warwick, and, as soon as it was effected, Fitzwalter retreated into Scotland. Meantime, the real danger was growing rapidly in the south. The men of Kent rose in arms; London was thrown into a ferment by Dr. Goddard preaching at St. Paul's Cross in favour of Henry VI.; and from every quarter people hastened to the standard of Warwick with such eagerness that he speedily found himself at the head of 60,000 men.

As London and the southern counties appeared safe, Warwick proclaimed Henry, and set out to encounter Edward without delay. He advanced towards Nottingham. Edward, who had taken up his headquarters at Doncaster, had issued his orders for all who could bear arms to join his banner. They came in slowly; and Edward, who had ridiculed the idea of the return of Warwick, saying Burgundy would take care that he did not cross the sea, was now rudely aroused from his fancied security. He was compelled with unequal forces to advance against Warwick. A great battle appeared imminent in the neighbourhood of Nottingham; but the rapid defection of Edward's adherents rendered that unnecessary. The speedy movements of Warwick, and the general demonstration in favour of Henry, had not permitted[31] Clarence to carry into effect his intended transit from Warwick to Edward, when a startling act of desertion occurred to the king's side, which completed Edward's ruin. Before Edward could reach Nottingham, and while lying near the river Welland, in Lincolnshire, Montague, Warwick's brother, from whom Edward had taken the earldom of Northumberland, now revenged himself by suddenly marching from York at the head of 6,000 men, and in the night, and in full concert with his officers, advancing upon Edward's quarters, his men wearing the red rose instead of the white, and with loud cries of "God bless King Henry!"

Edward commanded his troops to be put in array to meet the traitor; but Lord Hastings told him that he had not a regiment that he could rely upon; that nothing was to be thought of but his personal safety, and that on the instant. Accordingly, he took horse with the Duke of Gloucester, the Earl Rivers, seven or eight other noblemen, and a small troop of the most reliable followers, with whom he rode away. A guard was posted on a neighbouring bridge to prevent the crossing of Warwick, for he also was within a day's march of him; and with all haste Edward and his little band rode at full speed till he reached Lynn, in Norfolk. It is probable that the royal party had made for this small port on the Wash, knowing that some vessels which had brought provisions for the troops still lay there. They found, indeed, a small English ship, and two Dutch vessels, on board of which they hurried, and put to sea. Edward, on starting from his quarters, had recommended his army to declare at once for Warwick, as the best means of saving themselves, and of again rejoining his standard when opportunity should offer.

The fugitives made sail for the coast of Holland, but no sooner had the king escaped from his enemies on land than he fell amongst fresh ones at sea. These were the Easterlings, or mariners of Ostend, who were now at war with both France and England. The Easterlings were at this time as terrible at sea as the pirates of Algiers were afterwards. They had committed great ravages on the English coast, while the nation was thus engaged in suicidal intestine warfare, and no sooner did they perceive this little fleet than they immediately gave chase. There were eight vessels to Edward's three, and to escape the unequal contest, he ran his vessels aground on the coast of Friesland, near Alkmaar. To ascertain how Vauclerc, the Governor of Calais, was disposed, in case Warwick resolved to attack the duke in his own territories, he sent an envoy to him to sound him. The envoy found all the garrison wearing the red rose. This discovery added to the alarm and chagrin of Burgundy, and, while he conceded to Edward a place of refuge, he publicly declared himself the ally, not of this power or that, but of England, and avowed himself adverse to Edward's designs, who was to expect no aid from him in endeavouring to recover his crown.

On the other hand Louis of France was thrown into ecstasies of delight. He sent for Queen Margaret and her son, the Prince of Wales, who had been living for years totally neglected, and almost forgotten in their poverty, and received her in Paris with the most splendid and expensive pageants and rejoicings. He at the same time despatched a splendid embassy to Henry at London, and immediately concluded with him a treaty of peace and commerce for fifteen years.

Warwick and Clarence made their triumphal entry into London on the 6th of October, 1470. Warwick proceeded to the Tower, and brought forth King Henry, who had lain there as a captive for five years. Henry was proclaimed lawful king, and conducted with great pomp through the streets of London to the bishop's palace, where he resided till the 13th, when he walked in solemn procession, with the crown upon his head, attended by his prelates, nobles, and great officers, to St. Paul's, where solemn thanksgivings were offered up for his restoration.

All this time Clarence was looking on, an immediate spectator of proceedings which pushed him farther from the throne. To keep him quiet, Warwick heaped every favour but the actual possession of the kingdom upon him. He joined him with himself in the regency which was to continue till the majority of the Prince of Wales; he made him Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and conferred upon him all the estates of the house of York. Warwick retained himself the offices of Chamberlain of England, Governor of Calais, High Admiral of the seas; his brother, the archbishop, was continued Chancellor; and his other brother, Montague, returned to the Wardenship of the Marches.

Warwick summoned a Parliament, which, surrounded by his troops and his partisans, of course passed whatever acts he pleased. The crown was settled on Edward, the Prince of Wales, and his issue; but that failing, it was to devolve upon Clarence.

Queen Margaret might have been expected,[32] from her characteristic energy and rapidity of action, to have been in London nearly as soon as Warwick; but this was not the case. In the first place, she was in want of the necessary funds. Louis, who was chary of his money, probably thought he had done sufficient in enabling the victorious armament of Warwick to reach England; and poor King Réné, Margaret's father, was in no condition to assist her. In the meantime all the exiled Lancastrians flocked to her; and all were destitute. In February, 1471, she set sail to cross the Channel, but was driven back by tempests. Three times did she make the daring attempt to cross, though warned against it by the seamen of Harfleur; and every time she was driven back with such fury and damage, that many declared it was the will of Heaven she should not pass over; nor was she able to do so till the following month. Till that time Warwick held England in the name of Henry, and appeared established, if not exactly on the throne, in the seat of supreme and settled power.

The mock restoration of Henry VI. was not destined to be of long continuance. The ups and downs of royalty at this period were as rapid and strange as the shifting scenes of a theatre. There is no part of our history where we are left so much in the dark as to the real moving causes. It is difficult to see how Warwick, with his vast popularity, should, in the course of a single winter, become so unpopular as to render his fall and the success of Edward so easy. It must be remembered, however, that there was a secret schism in his party. Clarence was only waiting to seize a good opportunity to overthrow his father-in-law, Warwick, and climb the throne himself. Though he was by no means high-principled, Clarence was not so weak as to build any hopes on Warwick's having given him the succession in case of the issue of the Prince of Wales failing. Warwick had married another of his daughters to the prince, and it was his strongest interest to maintain that line on the throne.

All these causes undoubtedly co-operated to produce what soon followed. Burgundy determined to assist Edward to regain his throne, and thus destroy the ascendency of Warwick. While, therefore, issuing a proclamation forbidding any of his subjects to follow Edward in his expedition, he privately sent to him the cross of St. Andrew; and a gift of 50,000 florins furnished him with four large ships, which were fitted up and stored for him at Vere, in Walcheren. Besides these, he hired for him fourteen ships from the merchants of the Hanse Towns, to transport his troops from Flushing to England. These transactions could leave no question in the minds of the subjects of Burgundy which way lay the real feelings of their sovereign. But the number of troops embarking with Edward was not such as to give to the enterprise a Burgundian appearance. The soldiers furnished him were only 2,000. Edward undoubtedly relied on information sent him from England as to the forces there ready to join him.

The fleet of Edward steered for the Suffolk coast. It was in the south that the Yorkist influence lay, and Clarence was posted in that quarter at the head of a considerable force. But Warwick's preparations were too strong in that quarter; an active body of troops, under a brother of the Earl of Oxford, deterred the invaders from any attempt at landing. They proceeded northward, finding no opportunity of successfully getting on shore till they reached the little port of Ravenspur, in Yorkshire—singularly enough, the very place where Henry IV. landed when he deposed Richard II. From this same port now issued the force which was to terminate his line.

At first, however, the undertaking wore anything but a promising aspect. The north was the very stronghold of the Lancastrian faction, and openly was displayed the hostility of the inhabitants towards the returned Yorkist monarch. But Edward, with that ready dishonesty which is considered defensible in the strife for crowns, solemnly declared that he had abandoned for himself all claims on the throne; that he saw and acknowledged the right of Henry VI. and his line, and for himself only desired the happy security of a private station. His real and most patriotic design, he gave out, was to put down the turbulent and overbearing power of Warwick, and thus give permanent tranquillity to the country, which never could exist so long as Warwick lived. He exhibited a forged safe-conduct from the Earl of Northumberland; he declared that he sought for himself nothing but the possessions of the Duke of York, his father; he mounted in his bonnet an ostrich feather, the device of the Prince of Wales, and ordered his followers to shout "Long live King Henry!" in every place through which they passed.

These exhibitions of his untruth were too barefaced to deceive any one. The people still stood aloof, and, on reaching the gates of York, Edward found them closed against him. But by the boldest use of the same lying policy, Edward managed to prevail on the mayor and[33] aldermen to admit him. He swore the most solemn oath that he abjured the crown for ever, and would do all in his power to maintain Henry and his issue upon it. Not satisfied with this, the clergy demanded that he should repeat this oath most emphatically before the high altar in the cathedral. Edward assented with alacrity, and would undoubtedly have sworn anything and any number of oaths to the same effect. He then marched in with that bold precipitance which was the secret of his success, and which, as in the case of the great Napoleon, always threw his enemies into consternation and confusion. At Pontefract lay the Marquis of Montague, Warwick's brother, with a force superior to that of Edward, and all the world looked to see him throw himself across the path of the invader, and to set battle against him. Nothing of the kind; Montague lay still in the fortress, and Edward, marching within four miles of this commander, went on his way without any check from him.


As Edward approached the midland counties, and especially when he had crossed the Trent, the scene changed rapidly in his favour. He had left the Lancastrian districts behind, and reached those where Yorkism prevailed. People now flocked to his standard. At Nottingham the Lord Stanley, Sir Thomas Parr, Sir James Harrington, Sir Thomas Montgomery, and several other gentlemen, came in with reinforcements. Edward felt himself strong enough to throw off the mask: he assumed the title of king, and marched towards Coventry, where lay Warwick and Clarence with a force sufficient to punish this odious perjury. But a fresh turn of the royal kaleidoscope was here to astonish the public. Edward challenged the united army of Warwick and Clarence on the 29th of March, 1471. In the night, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, paid a visit to his brother Clarence. The two brothers flew into each other's arms with a transport which, if not that of genuine affection, was at least that of successful conspiracy. The morning beheld the army of Clarence, amounting to 12,000 men, arrayed, not on the part of Warwick, but of Edward, the soldiers wearing, not the red, but the white rose over their gorgets.

Here, then, was fully disclosed the secret which had induced Edward to march on so confidently through hostile districts, and people standing aloof[34] from his banners. Clarence, whether in weak simplicity, or under the influence of others, sent to Warwick to apologise for his breach of his most solemn oaths, and offered to become mediator betwixt him, his father-in-law, and Edward his brother. Warwick rejected the offer with disdain, refusing all further intercourse with the perjured Clarence; but he was now too weak to engage him and Edward, and the Yorkist king then boldly advanced towards the capital. The gates of the city, like those of York, he found closed against him, but he possessed sufficient means to unlock the one as he had done the other. There were upwards of 2,000 persons of rank and influence, including no less than 400 knights and gentlemen, crowded into the various sanctuaries of London and Westminster, who were ready not only to declare, but to act in his favour. The ladies, who were charmed with the gay and gallant disposition of Edward, were avowedly his zealous friends; and perhaps still more persuasive was the fact that the jovial monarch owed large sums to the merchants, who saw in his return their only chance of payment. Edward even succeeded in securing the Archbishop of York, who was, in his brother Warwick's absence, the custodian of the city and the person of King Henry. All regard to oaths, and all fidelity to principle or party, seemed to have disappeared at this epoch. By permission of the archbishop, Edward was admitted on Thursday, April 2nd, by a postern into the bishop's palace, where he found the poor and helpless King Henry, and immediately sent him to the Tower.

So confident now was Edward of victory, that he disdained to shelter himself any longer within the walls of the city, but marched out against the enemy. It was late on Easter eve when the two armies met on Barnet Common. Both had made long marches, Edward having left London that day. The Earl of Warwick, being first on the ground, had chosen his position. Edward, who came later, had to make his arrangements in the dark, the consequence of which was, that he committed a great error. His right wing, instead of confronting the left wing of Warwick, was opposed to his centre, and the left wing of Edward consequently had no opponents, but stretched far away to the west. Daylight must have discovered this error, and most probably fatally for Edward; but day—the 14th of April—came accompanied by a dense fog, believed to have been raised by a celebrated magician, Friar Bungy. The left wing of each army, advancing through the obscurity of the fog, and finding no enemy, wheeled in the direction of the main body. By this movement the left wing of Warwick trampled down the right wing of Edward, and defeating it, pursued the flying Yorkists through Barnet on the way to London.

Meantime, the left wing of the Yorkists, instead of encountering the right of the Lancastrians, came up so as to strengthen their own centre, where Edward and Warwick were contending with all their might against each other. Both chiefs were in the very front of the battle, which was raging with the utmost fury. Warwick, contrary to his custom, had been persuaded by his brother Montague to dismount, send away his horse, and fight on foot.

The battle commenced at four o'clock in the morning, and lasted till ten. The rage of the combatants was terrible, and the slaughter was proportionate, for Edward, exasperated at the commons, who had shown such favour to Warwick on all occasions, had, contrary to his usual custom, issued orders to spare none of them, and to kill all the leaders if possible. The conflict was terminated by a singular mistake. The device of the Earl of Oxford, who was fighting for Warwick, was a star with rays, emblazoned both on the front and back of his soldiers' coats. The device of Edward's own soldiers on this occasion was a sun with rays. Oxford had beaten his opponents in the field, and was returning to assist Warwick, when Warwick's troops, mistaking through the mist the stars of Oxford for the sun of Edward, fell upon Oxford's followers, supposing them to be Yorkists, and put them to flight. Oxford fled with 800 of his soldiers, supposing himself the object of some fatal treachery, while, on the other hand, Warwick, weakened by the apparent defection of Oxford, and his troops thrown into confusion, rushed desperately into the thickest of the enemy, trusting thus to revive the courage of his troops, and was thus slain, fighting.

No sooner was the body of Warwick, stripped of its armour and covered with wounds, discovered on the field, than his forces gave way, and fled amain. Thus fell the great "king-maker," who so long had kept alive the spirit of contention, placing the crown first on one head and then on another. With him perished the power of his faction and the prosperity of his family. On the field with him lay all the chief lords who fought on his side, except the Earl of Oxford and the Duke of Somerset, who escaped into Wales, and joined Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke, who[35] was in arms for Henry. The Duke of Exeter was taken up for dead, but being found to be alive, he was conveyed by his servants secretly to the sanctuary at Westminster; but the holiness of the sanctuary does not appear to have proved any defence against the lawless vengeance of Edward, for, some months after, his dead body was found floating in the sea near Dover. On the side of Edward fell the Lords Say and Cromwell, Sir John Lisle, the son of Lord Berners, and many other squires and gentlemen. The soldiers who fell on both sides have been variously stated at from 1,000 to 10,000; the number more commonly credited is about 1,500. The dead were buried where they fell, and a chapel was erected near the spot for the repose of their souls. The battle-field is now marked by a stone obelisk. The bodies of Warwick and Montague were exposed for three days, naked, on the floor of St. Paul's Church, as a striking warning against subjects interfering with kings and crowns. They were then conveyed to the burial-place of their family in the abbey of Bilsam, in Berkshire.

In the fall of Warwick Edward might justly suppose that he saw the only real obstacle to the permanency of his own power; but Margaret was still alive. She was no longer, however, the elastic and indomitable Margaret who had led her forces up to the battles of St. Albans, Northampton, Wakefield, Towton, and Hexham. On the day that she landed at Weymouth, imagining she had now nothing to do but to march in triumph to London, and resume with her husband their vacant throne, the fatal battle of Barnet was fought. The first news she received was of the total overthrow of her party and the death of Warwick. The life of the great king-maker might have caused her future trouble; his fall was her total ruin. Confounded by the tidings, her once lofty spirit abandoned her, and she sank on the ground in a swoon.

It was the plan of her generals to hasten to Pembroke; and, having effected a junction with him, to proceed to Cheshire, to render the army effective by a good body of archers. But Edward, always rapid in his movements, allowed them no time for so formidable a combination. He left London on the 19th of April, and reached Tewkesbury on the 3rd of May. Margaret and her company set out from Bath, and prepared to cross the Severn at Gloucester, to join Pembroke and Jasper Tudor. But the people of Gloucester had fortified the bridge, and neither threats nor bribes could induce them to let her pass. She then marched on to Tewkesbury, near which they found Edward already awaiting them.

The troops being worn down by the fatigue of a long and fearful march, Margaret was in the utmost anxiety to avoid an engagement, and to press on to their friends in Wales. But Somerset represented that such a thing was utterly impossible. For a night and a day the foot-soldiers had been plunging along for six-and-thirty miles through a foul country—all lanes, and stony ways, betwixt woods, and having no proper refreshment. To move farther in the face of the enemy was out of the question. He must pitch his camp in the park, and take such fortune as God should send.

The queen, as well as the most experienced officers of the army, were much averse from this, but the duke either could not or would not move, and Edward presented himself in readiness for battle. Thus compelled to give up the cheering hope of a junction with the Welsh army, Margaret and her son did all in their power to inspire the soldiers with courage for this most eventful conflict. The next morning, being the 4th of May, the forces were drawn out in order. The Duke of Somerset took the charge of the main body. The Prince of Wales commanded the second division under the direction of Lord Wenlock and the Prior of St. John's. The Earl of Devonshire brought up the rear. The Lancastrian army was entrenched in a particularly strong position on the banks of the Severn; having, both in front and on the flanks, a country so deeply intersected with lanes, hedges, and ditches, that there was scarcely any approaching it. This grand advantage, however, was completely lost by the folly and impetuosity of the Duke of Somerset, who, not content to defend himself against the superior forces and heavier artillery of Edward, rushed out beyond the entrenchments, where he was speedily taken in flank by a body of 200 spearsmen, and thrown into confusion. The Lancastrians were utterly defeated, and the Prince of Wales fell on the field, or, according to other accounts, was put to death immediately after the battle. Somerset was condemned and beheaded.

No fate can be conceived more consummately wretched than that of Margaret now—her cause utterly ruined, her only son slain, her husband and herself the captives of their haughty enemies. They who had thus barbarously shed the blood of the prince might, with a little cunning, shed that of her husband and herself. No such good fortune awaited Margaret. She was doomed to hear of the death of her imprisoned consort, and[36] to be left to long years of grief over the utter wreck of crown, husband, child, and friends—a great and distinguished band.

Edward returned to London triumphant over all his enemies, and the next morning Henry VI. was found dead in the Tower. It was given out that he died of grief and melancholy, but nobody at that day doubted that he was murdered, and it was generally attributed to Richard of Gloucester, but probably without reason. The continuator of the chronicles of Croyland prays that the doer of the deed, whoever he was, may have time for repentance, and declares that it was done by "an agent of the tyrant" and a subject of the murdered king. Who was this? The chronicler in Leland points it out plainly. "That night," he says, "King Henry was put to death in the Tower, the Duke of Gloucester and divers of his men being there." Fabyan, also a contemporary, says, "Divers tales were told, but the most common fame went that he was sticked with a dagger by the hands of the Duke Gloucester."

To satisfy the people the same means were resorted to as in the case of Richard II. The body of the unfortunate king was conveyed on a bier, with the face exposed, from the Tower through Cheapside to St. Paul's. Four of the principal chroniclers of the day assert that the fresh blood from his wounds "welled upon the pavement," giving certain evidence of the manner of his death; and the same thing occurred when he was removed to Blackfriars. To get rid of so unsatisfactory a proof of Henry's natural death the body was the same day put into a barge with a guard of soldiers from Calais, and thus, says the Croyland chronicler, "without singing or saying, he was conveyed up the dark waters of the Thames at midnight, to his silent interment at Chertsey Abbey, where it was long pretended that miracles were performed at his tomb."

Henry's reputation for holiness during his life, and his tragical death, occasioned such a resort to his tomb, that Gloucester, on mounting the throne as Richard III., caused the remains of the poor king to be removed, it was said, to Windsor. Afterwards, when Henry VII. wished to convey them to Westminster, they could not be found, having been carefully concealed from public attention.

Margaret, who was conveyed to the Tower the very night on which her husband was murdered there, was at first rigorously treated. There had been an attempt on the part of the Bastard of Falconberg, who was vice-admiral under Warwick, to liberate Henry, during the absence of Edward and Gloucester, at the battle of Tewkesbury. He landed at Blackwall with a body of marines, and, calling on the people of Essex and Kent to aid him, made two desperate attempts to penetrate to the Tower, burning Bishopsgate, but was repulsed, and on the approach of Edward, retreated. To prevent any similar attempt in favour of Margaret she was successively removed to Windsor, and lastly to Wallingford. She remained a prisoner for five years, when at the entreaty of King Réné, she was ransomed by Louis of France, and retired to the castle of Reculé, near Angers. She died at the château of Dampierre, near Saumur, in 1482, in the fifty-third year of her age.

The two brothers, Clarence and Gloucester, came now, on the first return of peace, to quarrel at the very foot of the throne for the vast property of Warwick. Edward would fain have forgotten everything else in his pleasures. The blood upon his own hands gave him no concern; he was only anxious to devote his leisure hours to Jane Shore, the silversmith's wife, whom he had, like numbers of other ladies, seduced from her duty. But Clarence and Gloucester broke through his gaieties with their wranglings and mutual menaces.

The fact was, that Clarence having, as we have seen, married Isabella, the eldest daughter, was determined, if possible, to monopolise all the property of Warwick, as if the eldest daughter were sole heiress. But Gloucester, who was always on the look out for his own aggrandisement, now cast his eyes on Anne, the other daughter, who had been married to the Prince of Wales. Clarence, aware that he should have a daring and a lawless rival in Gloucester, in regard to the property, opposed the match with all his might. On this point they rose to high words and much heat. Clarence declared at length that Richard might marry Anne if he pleased, but that he should have no share whatever in the property; but only let Richard get the lady, and he would soon possess himself of the lands. The question was debated by the two brothers with such fury before the council, that civil war was anticipated.

All this time the property was rightfully that of the widow of Warwick, the mother of the two young ladies. Anne, the Countess of Warwick, was the sole heiress of the vast estates of the Despensers and the Beauchamps, Earls of Warwick. To all the great court party, who had once been her friends—as the world calls friendship—and many of them her humble flatterers and[37] admirers, she applied from her sanctuary at Beaulieu, in the most moving terms, for their kind aid in obtaining a modicum of freedom and support out of her own lands, the most wealthy in England. But it was not her that the two princes courted, it was her property; and nobody dared or cared to move a finger in favour of the once great Anne of Warwick. The daughter, Anne, so far from desiring to marry Richard of Gloucester, detested him. Cooperating, therefore, with the wishes and interests of Clarence, she, by his assistance, escaped out of the sanctuary of Beaulieu, where she had been with the countess, her mother, and disappeared. For some time no trace of her could be discovered; but Gloucester had his spies and emissaries everywhere; and, at length, the daughter of Warwick, and the future queen of England, was found in the guise of a cookmaid in London. Gloucester removed her to the sanctuary of St. Martin's-le-Grand. Afterwards she was allowed to visit her uncle, the Archbishop of York, before his disgrace, and the Queen Margaret in the Tower. All this was probably conceded by Gloucester in order to win Anne's favour; but Anne still repelling with disgust his addresses, he refused her these solaces, and procuring the removal of her mother from Beaulieu, sent her, under the escort of Sir John Tyrrell, into the north, where he is said to have kept her confined till his own death, even while she was his mother-in-law. Anne was at length compelled to marry the hated Gloucester; and her hatred appeared to increase from nearer acquaintance, for she was soon after praying for a divorce.


The king was compelled to award to Gloucester a large share of Warwick's property; and the servile Parliament passed an act in 1474, embodying the disgraceful commands of these most unnatural and unprincipled princes. The two daughters were to succeed to the Warwick property, as though their mother, the possessor in her own right, were dead. If either of them should die before her husband, he should continue to retain her estates during his natural life. If a divorce should take place between Richard and Anne, for which Anne was striving, Richard was still to retain her property, provided he married or did his best to marry her to some one else. Thus, by this most iniquitous arrangement, while Richard kept his wife's property, they made it a[38] motive with her to force her into some other alliance, if not so hateful, perhaps more degrading. It is impossible to conceive the tyranny of vice and selfishness carried farther than in these odious transactions. But this was not all. There was living a son of the Marquis of Montague, Warwick's brother; and to prevent any claim from him as next heir male, all such lands as he might become the claimant of were tied upon Clarence and Gloucester, and their heirs, so long as there should remain any heirs male of the marquis. By these means did these amiable brothers imagine that they had stepped into the full and perpetual possession of the enormous wealth of the great Warwick. Edward, having rather smoothed over than appeased the jealousies of his brothers, now turned his ambition to foreign conquest.

In all his contests at home, Edward had shown great military talents. He had fought ten battles, and never lost one; for at the time of the treason of Lord Montague in 1470, he had not fought at all, but, deserted by his army, had fled to Flanders. He had always entertained a flattering idea that he could emulate the martial glory of the Edwards and of Henry V., and once more recover the lost territories of France, and the lost prestige of the British arms on the Continent. His relations with France and Burgundy were such as encouraged this roseate notion. Louis XI. had supported the claims of Henry, and accomplishing the alliance of Margaret and his most formidable enemy Warwick, had sent them to push him from his throne. The time appeared to be arrived for inflicting full retribution. Burgundy was his brother-in-law, and had aided him in recovering his crown. True, the assistance of Burgundy had not been prompted by love to him, but by enmity to Warwick and Louis; nor had his reception of him in his distress been such as to merit much gratitude, but he did not care to probe too deeply into the motives of the prince; the great matter was, that Burgundy was the antagonist of Louis, and their interests were, therefore, the same.

The Duke of Burgundy, formerly Count of Charolais—called Charles le Téméraire, or the Bold—was no match for the cold and politic Louis XI. He and his ally, the Duke of Brittany, fancied themselves incapable of standing their ground against Louis, and now made an offer of mutual alliance to Edward, for the purpose of enforcing their common claims in France. Nothing could accord more with the desires of Edward than this proposition. He had employed 1473 in settling his disputes with the Hanse Towns, in confirming the truce with Scotland, and renewing his alliances with Portugal and Denmark. His Parliament had granted him large supplies. They voted him a tenth of rents, or two shillings in the pound, calculated to produce at that day £31,460, equal to more than £300,000 of our present money. They then added to this a whole fifteenth, and three-quarters of another. But when Edward entered into the scheme of Burgundy and Brittany for the French conquest, they granted him permission to raise any further moneys by what were called benevolences, or free gifts—a kind of exaction perhaps more irksome than any other, because it was vague, arbitrary, and put the advances of the subjects on the basis of loyalty. Such a mode of fleecing the people had been resorted to under Henry III. and Richard II. Now there was added a clause to the Act of Parliament, providing that the proceeds of the fifteenth should be deposited in religious houses, and, if the French campaign should not take place, should be refunded to the people: as if any one had ever heard of taxes, once obtained, ever being refunded to the payers!

All being in readiness, Edward passed over from Sandwich to Calais, where he landed on the 22nd of June, 1475. He had with him 1,500 men-at-arms, and 15,000 archers, an army with which the former Edwards would have made Louis tremble on his throne. He dispatched Garter-king-at-arms with a letter of defiance to Louis, demanding nothing less than the crown of France. The position of Louis was to all appearance most critical. If Burgundy, Brittany, and the Count of St. Pol, the Constable of France, who had entered into the league against him, had acted wisely and faithfully together, the war must have been as dreadful, and the losses of France as severe, as in the past days. But probably Louis was well satisfied of the crumbling character of the coalition. Comines, who was at the time in the service of Louis, has left us ample accounts of these transactions and, according to them, the conduct of the French king was masterly in the extreme. Instead of firing with resentment at the proud demands of the letter, he took the herald politely into his private closet, and there, in the most courteous and familiar manner, told him he was sorry for this misunderstanding with the King of England; that, for his part, he had the highest respect for Edward, and desired to be on amicable terms with him, but that he knew very well that all this was stirred up by the Duke[39] of Burgundy and the Constable St. Pol, who would be the very first to abandon Edward, if any difficulty arose, or after they had got their own turn served. He put it to the herald how much better it would be for England and France to be on good terms, and gave the greatest weight to his arguments by smilingly placing in Garter's hand a purse of 300 crowns, assuring him that if he used his endeavours effectually to preserve the peace between the two kingdoms, he would add to it a thousand more.

The herald was so completely captivated by the suavity, the sound reasons, and the money of Louis, that he promised to do everything in his power to promote a peace, and advised the king to open a correspondence with the Lords Howard and Stanley, noblemen not only high in the favour of Edward, but secretly adverse to this expedition. This being settled, Louis committed Garter-king-at-arms to the care of Philip de Comines, telling him to give the herald publicly a piece of crimson velvet thirty ells in length, as though it were the only present, and to get him away as soon as he could, with all courtesy, without allowing him to hold any communication with the courtiers. This being done, Louis summoned his great barons and the rest of the courtiers around him, and ordered the letter of defiance to be read aloud, all the time sitting with a look of the greatest tranquillity, for he was himself much assured by what he had heard from the herald.

The words of Louis came rapidly to pass as regarded Edward's allies. Nothing could equal the folly of Burgundy and the treachery of the others. Charles the Rash, instead of coming up punctually with his promised forces, and in his usual wild way, led them to avenge some affront from the Duke of Lorraine, and the princes of Germany, far away from the really important scene of action. When the duke appeared in Edward's camp, with only a small retinue instead of a large army, and there was no prospect of his rendering any effective aid that summer, Edward was highly chagrined. All his officers were eager for the campaign, promising themselves a renewal of the fame and booty which their fathers had won. But when Edward advanced from Péronne, where he lay, to St. Quentin, on the assurances of Burgundy that St. Pol, who held it, would open its gates to him, and when, instead of such surrender, St. Pol fired on his troops from the walls, the king's wrath knew no bounds; he upbraided the duke with his conduct in thus deceiving and making a laughing-stock of him, and Burgundy retired in haste from the English camp. To add to Edward's disgust, Burgundy and his subjects had from the first landing of the English betrayed the utmost reluctance to admit the British forces into any of their towns. Artois and Picardy were shut against them, as if they came, not as allies, but as intending conquerors.

Precisely at this juncture, the herald returned with his narrative of his kind reception, and the amiable disposition of Louis. This was by no means unwelcome in the present temper of Edward. It gave him the most direct prospect of punishing his perfidious allies. On the heels of Garter-king-at-arms arrived heralds from Louis, confirming all he had stated, and offering every means of pacification. The king called a council in the camp of Péronne, in which it was resolved to negotiate a peace with France on three grounds—the approach of winter, the absence of all supplies for the army, and the failure of assistance from the allies. For two months, while the terms of this treaty were being discussed, the agents and money of Louis were freely circulating amongst the courtiers and ministers of Edward.

The plenipotentiaries found all their labours wonderfully smoothed by the desire of Louis to see the soil of France as soon as possible clear of the English army. The French King agreed to almost everything proposed, never intending to fulfil a tithe of his contracts. A truce for seven years was concluded at Amiens. The King of France agreed to pay the King of England 75,000 crowns within the next fifteen days; and 50,000 crowns a year during their joint lives, to be paid in London. Apparently prodigal of his money, it was at this time that Louis paid 50,000 crowns for the ransom of Queen Margaret. To bind the alliance still more firmly, Edward proposed that the dauphin should marry his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, which was readily assented to. To testify his great joy in the termination of this treaty, Louis sent 300 cart-loads of the best wines of France into the English camp, and proposed, in order to increase the feeling of friendship between the two monarchs, that they should have a personal interview before Edward's departure.

The treaty being signed, Gloucester and some others of the chief nobility who were averse from the peace, and therefore would not attend the meeting of the kings, now rode into Amiens to pay their court to him, and Louis received them with that air of pleasure which he could so easily put on, entertained them luxuriously, and presented them with rich gifts of plate and horses.


Thus was this singular treaty concluded, and each monarch thought most advantageously to himself. Edward had paid off the Duke of Burgundy for neglecting to fulfil his agreement as to the campaign, and he now sent the duke word, patronisingly, that if he wished, he would get a similar truce for him; to which Burgundy sent an indignant answer. Edward had, moreover, got a good round sum of money to pay his army, and a yearly income of 50,000 crowns for life. Like Charles II. afterwards, he did not trouble himself about the disgrace and disadvantage of having made himself a pensioner of France. Besides this, he had arranged to set his eldest daughter on the French throne after Louis' decease.

The people were very much of the French king's opinion, that their own monarch had been sadly over-reached. The army, which on its return was disbanded, promoted this feeling everywhere. The soldiers came back disappointed of the plunder of France, and accordingly vented their chagrin on the king and his courtiers, who for their private emolument had sold, they said, the honour of the nation. As to the general terms of the peace, the people had good cause to be satisfied. It was much better for the nation to be left at liberty to pursue its profitable trade than to be year after year drained of its substance to carry on a useless war. But the real cause of discontent was the annual bribe, which bound the king and his court to wink at any proceedings of France on the Continent against our allies and commercial connections, and even to suffer intrusions on our own trade, rather than incur the danger of losing the pay of the French king.

Edward endeavoured to silence these murmurs by severity. He sent amongst the people spies who reported any obnoxious language, and he punished offenders without mercy. At the same time, he extended an equally stern hand towards all disturbers of the peace; the disbanded soldiers having collected into hordes, and spread murder and rapine through several of the counties. Seeing, however, that the general discontent was such that, should some Wat Tyler or Jack Cade arise, the consequences might be terrible, he determined to ease the burdens of the people at the expense of the higher classes. He therefore ordered a rigorous exaction of the customs; laid frequent tenths on the clergy; resumed many of the estates of the Crown; and compelled the holders of estates to compound by heavy fines for the omission of any of their duties as feudal tenants. He moreover entered boldly into trade. Instead of permitting his ships to lie rotting in port—since he had no occasion for them as transport vessels,—he sent out in them wool, tin, cloth, and other merchandise, and brought back from the ports of the Levant the produce of the East. By these means Edward became the wealthiest monarch of Europe, and while he soon grew popular with the people, who felt the weight of taxation annually decreasing, he became equally formidable to those who had more reason to complain.

But however generally prosperous was the remainder of Edward's reign, it was to himself filled with the deepest causes of grief and remorse. The part which his brother Clarence had taken, his allying himself to Warwick, with the design to depose Edward and secure the crown to himself, could never be forgotten. He had been named the successor to the Prince of Wales, the son of Henry VI., and, should anything happen to Edward, might assert that claim to the prejudice of his own son. Still further, Clarence had given mortal offence to the queen. Her father and her brother had been put to death in Clarence's name. Her brother Anthony, afterwards, had narrowly escaped the same fate from the orders of Clarence. He had been forward in the charge of sorcery against her mother, the Duchess Jacquetta. Scarcely less had he incensed his brother Richard of Gloucester, the vindictive and never forgiving, by his opposition to his marriage with Anne of Warwick, and to sharing any of Warwick's property with him. Clarence was immensely rich, from the possession of the bulk of Warwick's vast estates, and he seems to have borne himself haughtily, as if he were another Warwick. He was at the head of a large party of malcontents, those who hated and envied the queen's family, and those who had been made to yield up their valuable grants from the crown under Henry VI. Clarence himself was one of the reluctant parties thus forced to disgorge some of his lands, under the act of resumption, on Edward's return from France. While brooding over this offence, his wife Isabella of Warwick died, on the 22nd of December, 1476, just after the birth of her third child. Clarence, who was so extremely attached to her that he was almost beside himself at the loss, accused, brought to trial, and procured the condemnation of one of her attendants, on the charge of having poisoned her.

Directly after this, January 5th, 1477, the Duke of Burgundy fell at the battle of Nancy, in his vain struggle against the Duke of Lorraine, backed by the valiant Swiss. His splendid[41] domains fell to his only daughter, Mary, who immediately became the object of the most eager desire to numerous princes. Louis of France disdained to sue for her hand for the Dauphin, but attacked her territories, and hoped to secure both them and her by conquest. There had been some treaty for her by the Archduke Maximilian, of Austria, for his son during the late duke's life; but now Clarence aroused himself from his grief for the loss of his wife, and made zealous court, on his own account, to this great heiress. Her mother, Margaret, the sister of Clarence, favoured his suit warmly, but the idea of such an alliance struck Edward with dismay. Clarence already was far too powerful. Should he succeed in placing himself at the head of one of the most powerful states on the Continent, and with his avowed claims on the English crown, and his undisguised enmity to Edward's queen and family, the mischief he might do was incalculable.


Edward, therefore, lost no time in putting in his most decided opposition. In this cause he was zealously seconded by Gloucester. But if ever there was a choice of a rival most unfortunate, and even insulting, it was that put forward by Edward against Clarence, in the person of Lord Rivers, the queen's brother. This match was rejected by the court of Burgundy with disdain, and only heightened the hatred of the queen in England—an odium which fell heavily on her in after years. She was now regarded as a woman who, not content with filling all the chief houses of England with her kin, aimed at filling the highest Continental thrones[42] with them. The result was that Edward succeeded in defeating Clarence without gaining his own, or rather his wife's, object.

From this moment Clarence became at deadly feud with Edward and all his family. The king, the queen, and Gloucester, united in a league against him, which, where such men were concerned—men never scrupling to destroy those who opposed them—boded him little good. The conduct of Clarence was calculated to exasperate this enmity, and to expose him to its attacks. He vented his wrath against all the parties who had thwarted him, king, queen, and Gloucester, in the bitterest and most public manner; and on the other side, occasions were found to stimulate him to more disloyal conduct. They began with attacking his friends and members of his household. John Stacey, a priest in his service, was charged with having practised sorcery to procure the death of Lord Beauchamp, and being put to the torture was brought to confess that Thomas Burdett, a gentleman of Arrow, in Warwickshire, also a gentleman of the duke's household, and greatly beloved by Clarence, was an accomplice. It was well understood why this confession was wrung from the poor priest. Thomas Burdett had a fine white stag in his park, on which he set great value. Edward in hunting had shot this stag, and Burdett, in his anger at the deed, had been reported to have said that he wished the horns of the deer were in the stomach of the person who had advised the king to insult him by killing it. This speech, real or imaginary, had been carefully conveyed to the king, and he thus took his revenge. Thomas Burdett was accused of high treason, tried, and, by the servile judges and jury, condemned, and beheaded at Tyburn.

Clarence had exerted himself to save the lives of both these persons in vain. They both died protesting their innocence, and the next day Clarence entered the council, bringing Dr. Goddard, a clergyman, who appeared on various occasions in those times as a popular agitator. Goddard attested the dying declarations of the sufferers; and Clarence, with an honourable but imprudent zeal, warmly denounced the destruction of his innocent friends. Edward and the court were at Windsor, and these proceedings were duly carried thither by the enemies of Clarence. Soon it was reported that, having for many days sat sullenly silent at the council-board, with folded arms, he had started up and uttered the most disloyal words, accusing the queen of sorcery, which she had learned of her mother, and even implicating the king in the accusation.

The fate of Clarence was sealed. The queen and Gloucester were vehement against him. Edward hurried to Westminster; Clarence was arrested and conducted by the king himself to the Tower. On the 16th of January a Parliament was assembled, and Edward himself appeared as the accuser of his brother at the bar of the Lords. He charged him with a design to dethrone and destroy him and his family. He retorted upon him the charge of sorcery, and of dealing with masters of the black art for this treasonable purpose; that to raise a rebellion he had supplied his servants with vast quantities of money, wine, venison, and provisions, to feast the people, and to fill their minds at such feasts with the belief that Burdett and Stacey had been wrongfully put to death; that Clarence had engaged numbers of people to swear to stand by him and his heirs as rightful claimants of the throne—asserting that Edward was, in truth, a bastard, and had no right whatever to the crown; that to gain the throne, and support himself upon it, he had had constant application to the arts for which his queen and her mother were famous, and had not hesitated to poison and destroy in secret. As for himself—Clarence—he pledged himself to restore all the lands and honours of the Lancastrians, when he gained his own royal rights.

To these monstrous charges Clarence made a vehement reply, but posterity has no means of judging of the truth or force of what he said, for the whole of his defence was omitted in the rolls of Parliament. Not a soul dared to say a word on his behalf. Edward brought forward witnesses to swear to everything he alleged; the duke was condemned to death; and the Commons being summoned to attend, confirmed the sentence. No attempt was made to put the sentence into execution, but about ten days later it was announced that Clarence had died in the Tower. The precise mode of his death has never been clearly ascertained. The generally received account is that of Fabyan, a cotemporary, who says that he was drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine.

Edward now again gave himself up to his pleasures, and would have been glad, in the midst of his amorous intrigues, to have forgotten public affairs altogether. But for this the times were too much out of joint. It was not in England alone that the elements of faction had been in agitation. Nearly the whole of Europe had witnessed the contentions of overgrown nobles and[43] vassal princes by which almost every crown had been endangered, and the regal authority in many cases brought into contempt. The changes consequent on the accession of Henry IV. we have fully detailed; those storms which raged around the throne of France we have partially seen; but similar dissensions betwixt the Electors of Germany and the Emperor Sigismund prevailed; the Netherlands were divided against each other; and Spain was equally disturbed by the conspiracies of the nobles against the crown. Edward of England, as if sensible of the weakness of his position, strove anxiously to strengthen it by foreign alliances. Though his children were far too young to contract actual marriages, he made treaties which should place his daughters on a number of the chief thrones. Some of these contracts were entered into almost as soon as those concerned in them were born. Elizabeth, the eldest, was affianced to the Dauphin of France; Cecilia, the second, to the eldest son and heir of the King of Scotland; Anne, to the infant son of Maximilian, Archduke of Austria, and husband of Mary of Burgundy; Catherine, to the heir of the King of Spain. His eldest son was engaged to the eldest daughter of the Duke of Brittany. On the other hand, all these royal negotiators appear to have been equally impressed with the precarious character of Edward's power, and were ready at the first moment to annul the contracts.

That subtle monarch, Louis of France, never from the first moment seriously meant to adhere to his engagement; and in a very few years all these anxiously-planned marriages were blown away like summer clouds. Edward was not long in suspecting the hollowness of the conduct of Louis XI. Though repeatedly reminded that the time was come to fetch the Princess of England, in order to complete her education in France, preparatory to her occupying the station assigned to her there, Louis took no measures for this purpose; and when Edward remonstrated on the subject, threatened to withdraw the payment of the annual 50,000 crowns. Edward boiled with indignation, and vowed, amongst his immediate courtiers that he would hunt up the old fox in his own cover if he did not mind. But that wily prince was not so easily dealt with. He saw with chagrin the proposed alliances betwixt Edward and his dangerous neighbours, the Duke of Brittany and Maximilian of Austria, now, through his wife, the ruler of Burgundy. Edward, in his resentment at the threat of Louis to withdraw his annual payment, made offers of closer union with Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy, and engaged, on condition that they should pay him the 50,000 crowns which he now had from Louis, to assist them against that monarch. But Louis was not to be out-manœuvred in this manner; he was a profounder master in all the arts of diplomatic stratagem than Edward. He, therefore, made secret and tempting advances to Maximilian and Mary, one article of which devoted the Dauphin to their infant daughter, despite of her engagement to the English heir. At the same time he stirred up sufficient trouble in Scotland to occupy Edward for some time.

The circumstances of Scotland were at this time very favourable to the mischievous interference of Louis. James III. was a monarch far beyond his age. He was of a pacific and philosophic turn. Surrounded by a rude and ignorant nobility, he conceived an infinite contempt for them, and was not politic enough to conceal it. They were received at court with coldness and neglect, while they saw men of science and letters admitted to the king's most intimate conversation. To avenge their slighted dignity, they stirred up the king's two brothers, the Duke of Albany, and the Earl of Mar, to rebellion. James, however, showed that, though pacifically disposed, he did not lack energy. He seized Mar and Albany, and confined them—Mar in Craigmillar Castle, and Albany in that of Edinburgh. Albany managed to escape, and made his way, by means of a French vessel, to France. Mar, who was of a vehement temper, was seized in his prison with fever and delirium. He was, therefore, removed from Craigmillar to a house in the Canongate, at Edinburgh, where, having been bled, he is said on a return of the paroxysm to have torn off his bandages while in a warm bath, and died from loss of blood. The incident was suspicious; but public opinion, for the most part, exonerated the king from the charge of any criminal intention; and even when he was afterwards deposed, no such charge was preferred against him by the hostile faction.

It was at this crisis that Edward—roused to indignation by the conduct of the French king, who neglected to fetch the Princess of England, and withdrew his annual payment of the 50,000 crowns, and still more by tracing Louis' hand in Scottish affairs—invited over Albany from Paris, promising to set him on the throne of Scotland. Albany, smarting with his brother's treatment, was but too ready to accept the proposal. Edward launched reproaches against the King of Scotland for his perfidy in listening to Louis of France[44], whilst under the closest engagements with himself. Three years' payments of the dowry of Edward's daughter, Cecilia, had already been paid to the Scottish monarch, and yet he had thrown constant obstacles in the way of a marriage agreed upon between the sister of James and the Earl Rivers, the brother-in-law of Edward. In reply to Edward's reproaches, James flung at him the epeithet of reiver, or robber, alluding to his seizure of the English crown.

Edward despatched an army to the borders of Scotland, under his brother Gloucester and Albany. He engaged to place Albany on the throne of James, and, in return, Albany, who was believed already to have two wives, was to marry one of Edward's daughters. With upwards of 22,000 men Gloucester and Albany reached Berwick, which speedily surrendered, though the castle held out.

James, to meet this formidable attack, summoned the whole force of his kingdom to meet him on the Burghmuir, near Edinburgh, and at the head of 50,000 men advanced first to Soutra, and thence to Lauder. But sedition was in his camp. Edward and Albany had opened communications with the discontented nobles. Albany, at the treaty of Fotheringay, where the Scottish scheme was made matter of compact, had assumed the title of Alexander, King of Scotland, and the adhesion of the principal chiefs of Scotland was confirmed by the impolicy of James, who had not only given to his favourite Cochrane, the architect, the bulk of the estates, along with the title of the Earl of Mar, but now placed him in command of the artillery, and permitted him to excite the envy and indignation of the great barons by the splendour of his appointments. Cochrane was, therefore, put to death by a band of conspirators, headed by Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, known, therefore, as Archibald "Bell-the-Cat."

Albany and Gloucester quickly followed the conspirators to the Scottish capital, and there appeared now every prospect of the crown being placed on the head of Albany; but this was suddenly prevented by a new movement. The whole body of the Scottish nobles had joined in the destruction of the favourites, but there was a strong party of them who contemplated nothing further. The loyalty of this section of the aristocracy being well known to Angus and his friends, they had not ventured to communicate to them their design of deposing James. The moment that this became known to them, they quitted Edinburgh, collected an army, and planted themselves near Haddington, determined to keep in check any proceedings against the king. At the head of this loyal party were the Archbishop of St. Andrews, the Bishop of Dunkeld, the Earl of Argyll, and Lord Evandale. They called on all loyal Scots to gather to their standard, and, being posted betwixt Edinburgh and the English border, threw Gloucester and his adherents into considerable anxiety as to their position. Albany, Gloucester, and the insurgent lords were glad to come to an accommodation. It was agreed that James should retain the crown; that Albany should receive a pardon and the restoration of his rank and estates; that the money paid by Edward as part of the dowry of Cecilia should be repaid by the citizens of Edinburgh, and that Berwick and its castle should be ceded to England. Gloucester thereupon marched homeward, and Albany laid siege to the castle of Edinburgh, where the Earls of Atholl and Buchan still detained the king. He soon compelled them to capitulate, and James being now in the hands of Albany, the two brothers, in sign of perfect reconciliation, rode together on the same horse to the palace of Holyrood, and slept together in the same bed. The treason of Albany, however, only hid itself in his bosom for a season.

The Scottish difficulty being settled, Edward now turned his attention to Louis of France. Whilst the Scottish campaign had been proceeding, an occurrence had taken place which raised Edward's wrath to its pitch. Mary of Burgundy had one day gone out hawking in the neighbourhood of Bruges, when her horse, in leaping a dyke, broke his girths, and threw her violently against a tree. She died in consequence, leaving three infant children, one of whom, Margaret, was a little girl two years old. Mary herself was only twenty-five at the time of her death. No sooner did Louis hear of this, than he immediately demanded the infant Margaret for his son the Dauphin, totally regardless of the long-standing engagement with Edward for the Princess Elizabeth. Maximilian of Austria, the father of Margaret, was strongly opposed to the match, seeing too well that Louis only wanted to make himself master of the territories of the children. Louis, however, had intrigued with the people of Ghent, and they would insist upon the alliance. Margaret was delivered to the commissioners of Louis, who settled on her the provinces which he had taken from her mother. The French, who regarded this event as bringing to the kingdom some very fine territories, without the trouble and[45] expense of a conquest, received the infant princess with great rejoicings.


The rage of Edward knew no bounds. He had been so often warned, both by his courtiers and by Parliament, that the crafty Louis would play him false, that he now vowed to take the most consummate vengeance upon him. The best means of inflicting the severest punishment on the King of France engrossed his whole soul, and occupied him day and night. This violent excitement, operating upon a constitution ruined by sensual indulgence, brought on an illness, which, not attended to at first, soon terminated his existence. He died on the 9th of April, 1483, in the twenty-third year of his reign and the forty-first of his age. The approach of death awoke in him feelings of deep repentance. He ordered full restitution to be made to all whom he had wronged, or from whom he had extorted benevolences. But such orders were not likely to receive much attention from Gloucester, who became the source of power. Immediately after his death he was exposed on a board, naked from the waist upwards, for ten hours, so that the lords spiritual and temporal, and the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London, might see that he had received no violence. He was then buried in Westminster Abbey, with great pomp and ceremony.

Edward IV. was a man calculated to make a great figure in rude and martial times. He was handsome, lively of disposition, affable, and brave. So long as circumstances demanded daring and exertion in the field, he was triumphant and prosperous. Rapid in his resolves and in his movements, undaunted in his attacks, he was uniformly victorious; but peace at once unmanned him. With the last stroke of the sword and the last sound of the trumpet he flung down his arms, and flew to riot and debauchery. Ever the conqueror in the field, he was always defeated in the city. He never could become conqueror over himself. By unrestrained indulgence he destroyed[46] his constitution, and hurried on to early death. Whether in the battle-field or in the hour of peace, he was unrestrained by principle, and sullied his most brilliant laurels with the blood of the young, the innocent, and the victim incapable of resistance. He was magnificent in his costume, luxurious at table, and most licentious in his amours. As he advanced in years he grew corpulent and unhealthy. He had the faculty of never forgetting the face of any one whom he had once seen, or the name of any one who had done him an injury. There was no person of any prominence of whom he did not know the whole history; and he had a spy in almost every officer of his government, even to the extremities of his kingdom. By this means he was early informed of the slightest hostile movement, and by a rapid dash into the enemy's quarters he soon extinguished opposition. Such a man might be a brilliant, but could never be a good monarch. He attached no one to his fortunes; therefore all his attempts to knit up alliances and his other projects failed; and his sons, left young and unprotected, speedily perished.

His children were Edward, his eldest son and successor, born in the Sanctuary in 1470; Richard, Duke of York; Elizabeth, who was contracted to the Dauphin, but who became the queen of Henry VII.; Cecilia, contracted to James, afterwards IV. of Scotland, but married to John, Viscount Wells; Anne, contracted to the son of Maximilian of Austria, but married to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk; Bridget, who became a nun at Dartford; and Catherine, contracted to the Prince of Spain, but married to William Courtney, Earl of Devonshire.



Edward V. Proclaimed—The Two Parties of the Queen and of Gloucester—Struggle in the Council—Gloucester's Plans—The Earl Rivers and his Friends imprisoned—Gloucester secures the King and conducts him to London—Indignities to the young King—Execution of Lord Hastings—A Base Sermon at St. Paul's Cross—Gloucester pronounces the two young Princes illegitimate—The Farce at the Guildhall—Gloucester seizes the Crown—Richard crowned in London and again at York—Buckingham revolts against him—Murder of the Two Princes—Henry of Richmond—Failure of Buckingham's Rising—Buckingham beheaded—Richard's Title confirmed by Parliament—Queen Dowager and her Daughters quit the Sanctuary—Death of Richard's Son and Heir—Proposes to marry his Niece, Elizabeth of York—Richmond lands at Milford Haven—His Progress—The Troubles of Richard—The Battle of Bosworth—The Fallen Tyrant—End of the Wars of the Roses.

By the death of Edward IV. England was destined once more to witness all the inconveniences which attend the minority of a king. Edward V. was a boy of only thirteen. His mother and her family had made themselves many enemies and few friends by their undisguised ambition and cupidity. The Greys and Woodvilles had been lifted above the heads of the greatest members of the aristocracy, enriched with the estates, and clothed with the honours of ancient houses. They had been posted round the throne as if to keep aloof all other candidates for favour and promotion. At the time of the death of Edward IV., Richard of Gloucester was in the North, attending to his duties as commander against the army in the Scottish marches. He immediately commenced his proceedings with that consummate and hypocritical art of which he was a first-rate master. He at once put his retinue into deep mourning, and marched to York attended by 600 knights and esquires. There he ordered the obsequies of the departed king to be performed with all solemnity in the cathedral. He then summoned the nobility and gentry of the country to take the oath of allegiance to his nephew, Edward V., and he led the way by first taking it himself. He wrote to the queen-mother to condole with her on her loss, and to assure her of his zealous support of the rights of his beloved nephew. He expressed his ardent desire for the close friendship of the queen, of Earl Rivers, her brother, and of all her family. He announced his intention of proceeding towards London to attend the coronation, and if Elizabeth had not already known the man, she might have congratulated herself on the enjoyment of so affectionate a[47] brother-in-law, and so brave and faithful a guardian of her son.

But there is every reason to believe that the same messenger who carried these letters of condolence and professed friendship to the queen, carried others of a different tone to a hostile section of her council. The Lords Howard, Hastings, and Stanley, though personal friends of the late king, and Hastings, the chosen confidant and associate of his pleasures, were at heart bitter enemies of the queen's family. It was only the authority of Edward which had maintained peace between them, and now they showed an undisguised hostility to them at the council-board. The Earl Rivers, the queen's brother, and the Marquis of Dorset, her son by her former marriage, occupied the chief seats at that board, and Edward was no stranger to their real sentiments. This knowledge had led him, on perceiving his health failing, to bring these rivals together, and to state to them how much it concerned his son's peace and security that they should forget all past causes of difference, and unite for that loyal purpose. This they promised, but only with the tongue. No sooner was the king dead, than all the old animosity and jealousy showed themselves in aggravated form.

Elizabeth now proposed that the young king should be brought up to town in order to be crowned, and that he should be attended by a strong body of soldiery for the safety of his person. At this, Hastings, who, in common with three-fourths of the nobility, was jealous of the design of the queen and her party to make themselves masters of the government during the king's minority, no longer concealed his real feelings. Edward had been kept on the borders of Wales, where the power of the Mortimers and the Yorkists lay. It was believed that the object was to give a preponderance to the royal family through the Welsh and the borderers; and now to march up to London, attended by a Welsh army, appeared a direct attempt to control the capital by these means. Hastings, therefore, warmly demanded—"What need of an army? Who were the enemies they had to dread? Was it the king's own uncle, Gloucester? Was it Lord Stanley, or himself? Was this force meant by the Woodvilles to put an end to all liberty in the council and the government, and thus to break the very union the king, on his death-bed, had pledged them to?" Hastings concluded his speech by hotly declaring that if the king was brought to London by an army, he would quit the council and the kingdom.

Deterred by this open opposition, Elizabeth yielded, and reduced the proposed guard to 2,000 cavalry. But she did it with deep and too well-founded anxiety. She had had too much opportunity of studying the character of Gloucester to trust him, and the event very soon justified her conviction. Secret messages had, during this interval, been passing between Gloucester and Hastings and the Duke of Buckingham, a weak man, descended from Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest son of Edward III. No doubt he had instructed them to defeat any measures of the Woodville family, which could leave the king in their hands. The moment was accurately calculated; and, accordingly, when the Lords Rivers and Grey, on their way to London with the young king, arrived at Stony Stratford, they found Gloucester had already reached Northampton, only ten miles from them. Gloucester had increased his forces on the way to a formidable body, and he was there joined by the Duke of Buckingham with 500 horse. The Lords Rivers and Grey, on learning the presence of Gloucester at Northampton, immediately rode over to him to welcome him in the king's name, and to consult with him on the plan of their united entrance into London. Gloucester received them with all the marks of that friendship which he had written to avow. They were invited to dine and spend the night, the Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham promising to ride with them in the morning to pay their respects to the king. Morning appeared, and Gloucester and Buckingham set out with them in the best of humours. They rode in pleasant converse till, arriving at the entrance of Stony Stratford, Gloucester suddenly accused Rivers and Grey of having estranged the affections of the king from him. They denied the charge with as much vehemence as astonishment; but they were immediately arrested and conducted to the rear. Gloucester and Buckingham rode on to the king, where the two dukes humbly on their knees professed their loyalty and attachment. This they proceeded to make manifest by arresting also the king's faithful servants, Sir Thomas Vaughan and Sir Richard Hawse. In spite of the poor young king's entreaties, he led him away with him to Northampton, his relatives and friends, Rivers, Grey, Vaughan, and Hawse, following in the rear as prisoners. These prisoners of State were sent off by Gloucester, under a strong guard, to his castle of Pontefract—that blood-stained fortress, the very entrance to which, in bondage, was equivalent to a death-warrant.


At midnight following the very day of these transactions, being the 1st of May, the appalling tidings reached the court that Gloucester, followed by a large army, had seized the king, and sent prisoners the queen's brother and son no one knew whither. Struck with consternation, and deeply rueing her weakness in giving up her own plans of caution, the queen, hastily seizing her younger son by the hand, and followed by her daughters, rushed from the palace of Westminster to the Sanctuary, which had protected her before; but not against a person so base and deadly in his ruthless ambition as this her brother-in-law of Gloucester. She knew the man, and she dreaded everything. Her eldest son, Dorset, who was Keeper of the Tower, in his turn weakly abandoned that important stronghold, and also fled to the Sanctuary. Rotherham, the Archbishop of York and Chancellor of the realm, hastening thither, found the queen seated on the rushes with which the floors at that time were strewn, an image of abandonment and woe.


Meanwhile, London was thrown into the utmost dismay and confusion. Many of the nobles and citizens flew to arms, and some flocked to the queen at Westminster, and others to Lord Hastings in London. Hastings continued to assure them that there was no cause of alarm; that Gloucester was a true man; and he was most likely the more ready to believe this himself from his own dislike of the queen's family.

On the 4th of May Gloucester conducted his royal captive into the capital. At Hornsey Park, the lord mayor and corporation, in scarlet, met the royal procession, followed by 400 citizens, all in violet. The Duke of Gloucester, habited, like his followers, in mourning, rode into the city before the king, with his cap in hand, bowing low to the people, and pointing out to their notice the king, who rode in a mantle of purple velvet. Edward V. was first conducted to Ely Place, to the bishop's palace; but he was soon removed to the Tower, on the motion of the Duke of Buckingham, on pretence that it was the proper place in which to await his coronation. That ceremony Elizabeth and her council had ordered to take place this very day, but the crafty Gloucester prevented that by not arriving in time. He took up his quarters in Crosby Place, Bishopsgate, where one part of the council constantly sat, while another, but lesser portion of it, assembled with Lord Hastings and others in the Tower. The day of the coronation was then fixed for the 22nd of June, leaving an interval of nearly seven weeks in which the schemes of Gloucester might be perfected. The first object of this man had been to impress the queen and her party with his friendly disposition, till he had secured their persons; this being, in a great measure, effected, the next was to persuade the public of his loyalty to his nephew. For this purpose he conducted him with such state into the capital, and so assiduously pointed him out as their king to the people. To have openly proclaimed his designs upon the crown would have united all parties against him. He averted that by his calling on all men to swear fealty to his[49] nephew, and by first swearing it himself. Having now procured full possession of the king's person, the next step was to secure that of his younger brother, without which his plans would all be vain. He was surrendered by the queen, and also placed in the Tower.


The victims were secured. Gloucester had feigned himself a kind relation till he had got them into prison; now he yearned to put forth his claws and devour them. But for this it required that the public should be duly prepared. His followers, and especially his imbecile tool, Buckingham, busily spread through town and country reports of the most terrible plots on the part of the queen and her friends to destroy Gloucester, Buckingham, and other great lords, in order that she and her family might have the king, and through him, the whole government, in their power. They exhibited quantities of arms, which they declared the queen's party had secreted in order to destroy Gloucester and the other patriotic lords, as they pleased to represent them. This did not fail to produce its effect on the people without, and it was promptly followed up by a picture of treason in the very council.

Lord Stanley, who was sincerely attached to Edward IV.'s family, had often expressed his suspicions of what was going on at Crosby Hall; but Hastings had replied, that he had a trusty agent there who informed him of all that passed.[50] But Hastings, who had been completely duped by Gloucester, had been unconsciously playing into his hands, till his own turn came. While he imagined that Richard was punishing the assumption of the queen and her relations, the latter was preparing the bloody acts of one of the most daring dramas of historic crime ever acted before the world. Richard, no doubt, had thought Hastings ready to go the whole way with him. At this crisis, however, he became aware that he was an honest though misguided man, who would stand staunchly by his young sovereign, and must therefore be removed. The tyrant was now beginning to feel secure of his object, and prepared to seize it at whatever cost of crime and infamy. Accordingly, on the 13th of June, says Sir Thomas More, he came into the council about nine in the morning, "in a very merry humour. After a little talking with them, he said to the Bishop of Ely, 'My lord, you have very good strawberries in your garden in Holborn: I request you let us have a mess of them.' 'Gladly, my lord,' quoth he; 'would to God I had some better things as ready to your pleasure as that!' and then, with all haste, he sent his servant for a mess of strawberries. The protector set the lords fast in communing, and thereupon praying them to spare him a little while, departed thence, and, soon after one hour, between ten and eleven, he returned into the chamber amongst them all, changed, with a wonderful sour, angry countenance, knitting his brows, frowning and fretting, gnawing on his lips, and so sat him down in his place. Soon after he asked, 'What those persons deserved who had compassed and imagined his destruction.' Lord Hastings answered that they deserved death, whoever they might be; and then Richard affirmed that they were that sorceress, his brother's wife (meaning the queen), with others with her; 'and,' said the protector, 'we shall see in what wise that sorceress, and that other witch of her councils, Shore's wife, with their affinity, have by their sorcery and witchcraft wasted my body.' So saying, he plucked up his doublet sleeve to his elbow upon his left arm, where the arm appeared to be withered and small, as it was never other." He then included Hastings in the charge. The unfortunate man was hurried out by the armed ruffians of the tyrant, and scarcely allowing him time to confess to the first priest that came to hand, they made use of a log which accidentally lay on the green at the door of the chapel, and beheaded him at once. Lord Stanley, the Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of Ely, were kept close prisoners in the Tower. Shortly afterwards the queen's brother and son, Earl Rivers and Lord Grey, were executed at Pontefract.

The united troops of Gloucester and Buckingham, to the amount of 20,000, now held the metropolis in subjection; the terror of the protector's deeds enchained it still more. On the following Sunday, June 22nd, the day which had been fixed for the coronation, instead of that ceremony taking place, a priest was found base enough—tyrants never fail of such tools—to ascend St. Paul's Cross, and preach from this text, from the Book of Wisdom, "Bastard slips shall not strike deep root."

This despicable man was one Dr. Shaw, brother of the Lord Mayor. He drew a broad picture of the licentious life of Edward IV., and asserted that his mode of destroying such ladies as he found unwilling to incur dishonour was to promise them marriage, and occasionally to go through a mock or real ceremony with them. He declared that Edward had thus, in the commencement of his reign, really contracted a marriage with the Lady Eleanor Butler, the widow of Lord Butler, of Sudeley, and daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury; that he afterwards contracted a private and illegal marriage with Elizabeth Woodville, which, however it might be real and legal in other respects, was altogether invalid and impossible, from the fact that Edward was already married to Lady Butler. Hence he contended that Elizabeth Woodville, though acknowledged by Parliament, was, in reality, nothing more than a concubine; that she and the king had been living in open and scandalous adultery; and that, of consequence, the whole of their children were illegitimate, and the sons incapable of wearing the crown.

But the preacher went further. Determined to destroy the claims of the young Edward V. to the crown, he boldly asserted not only his illegitimacy, but that of his father, Edward IV. This could only be done at the expense of the honour of the proud Cicely, Duchess of York, the mother of Gloucester, as well as of Edward. But the man who was wading his way to the throne through the blood of his own nephews, and of the best men in the country, was not likely to be stopped by the honour of his mother. The son of Clarence was living, and in case of the deaths of Edward's sons had a prior right to Gloucester. That right was at present in abeyance, through Clarence's attainder, but would revive on reversion of the attainder, and the possibility of this must be destroyed.

From the Wall Painting by Sigismund Goetze, in the Royal Exchange


From the Wall Painting by Sigismund Goetze, in the Royal Exchange.


The preacher, therefore, stoutly maintained that both Edward IV. and Clarence were the children of other men, not of the late Duke of York; that it was notorious, and that their striking likeness to their reputed fathers fully confirmed it. Gloucester, he contended, was alone the son of the Duke of York; and this vile prostitutor of the pulpit exclaimed, "Behold this excellent prince, the express image of his noble father—the genuine descendant of the house of York; bearing no less in the virtues of his mind than in the features of his countenance the character of the gallant Richard!" At this moment Gloucester, by concert, was to have passed, as if accidentally, through the audience to his place, and the preacher exclaimed, "Behold the man entitled to your allegiance! He must deliver you from the dominion of all intruders!—he alone can restore the lost glory and honour of the nation!"

Here it was expected that the people would cry out "Long live King Richard!" but they stared at one another in amazement, and the more so that Gloucester did not appear at the nick of time, but after the preacher's apostrophe was concluded; so that, when Gloucester did appear, he was obliged to repeat his lesson, which threw such an air of ridicule upon the whole, that Gloucester could not conceal his chagrin, and the preacher—perceiving that the odium of the attempt, as it had failed, would fall upon him—stole away home, and, it is said, never again recovered his standing. Gloucester, of course, would be the first to fling him by as a worthless tool, and he received that reward of public contempt which it would be better for the world if it always measured out to such vile subserviency.

But Gloucester was now fully prepared to complete his necessary amount of crime for the attainment of the throne, and was not to be daunted by one failure. The preacher, having broken the ice, he renewed his attempt in another quarter—the council chamber of the city. The Lord Mayor—as great a sycophant as his brother the preacher—lent himself, as he had probably done before, to the scheme. On the next Tuesday, the 24th of June, the Duke of Buckingham appeared upon the hustings at Guildhall, and harangued the citizens. He called upon them to recollect the dissolute life of the late king; his frequent violation of the sanctity of their homes; the seduction of most respectable ladies; the extent of his extortions of their money under the name of benevolences. In fact, he repeated, in another form, the whole sermon of Shaw, and went through the whole story of the marriage of Lady Butler, by the king, previous to that with Lady Grey, of which he assured them Stillington, Bishop of Bath, was a witness. Stillington, however, was never called to give such evidence. He then asked whether they would have the illegitimate progeny of such a man to rule over them. He assured them that he would never submit to the rule of a bastard, and that both the aristocracy and the people of the northern counties had sworn the same. But there, he observed, was the Duke of Gloucester, a man calculated to rescue England from such a stigma, and from all its losses—a man valiant, wise, patriotic, and of true blood, the genuine descendant of the great Edward III. On this the servants of Buckingham and Gloucester incited some of the meanest apprentices to cry out, and there was a feeble voice raised of "God save King Richard!" That was enough. Buckingham returned the people thanks for their hearty assent, and invited them to attend him the next morning to the duke's residence of Baynard's Castle, near Blackfriars Bridge, to tender him the crown. After a show of refusal Gloucester accepted it.

Thus ended this scene, which Hume calls a ridiculous farce, but which was, in fact, a most diabolical one, to be followed by as revolting a tragedy. The next day this monster in human form went to Westminster in state. There he entered the great hall, and seated himself on the marble seat, with Lord Howard, afterwards Duke of Norfolk, on his right hand, and the Duke of Suffolk on his left. He stated to the persons present that he chose to commence his reign in that place, because the administration of justice was the first duty of a king. Every one who heard this must have felt that if there were any justice in him he could not be there. It is clear that the spirit of the nation was with the poor boy Edward, but there was no man who dared to lift up his voice for him. The axe of Gloucester had already lopped off heads enough to render the others dumb, and London was invested by his myrmidons. He was already a dictator, and could do for a while what he pleased. He proclaimed an amnesty to all offenders against him up to that hour, and he then proceeded to St. Paul's, to return thanks to God. Thus, on the 26th of June, 1483, successful villainy sat enthroned in the heart of London.


On the 6th of July, not a fortnight after his acceptance of the crown at Baynard's Castle[52] Richard was crowned with all splendour. The terror of the blood-stained despot was all-potent, and was evidenced in the fact that few of the peers or peeresses ventured to absent themselves. With consummate tact Richard, the Yorkist usurper, appointed the heads of the Lancastrian line to bear the most prominent part in the ceremony, next to royalty itself. Buckingham bore his train, and the Countess of Richmond bore that of his queen. Both these persons were descendants of John of Gaunt, and the countess was the wife of that Lord Stanley who had been wounded at the very council board by Richard's ruffian guards, at the time of the seizure of Hastings. There can be little doubt but that it was the intention of Gloucester to have thus got rid, as by accident, of that respectable and powerful nobleman, who had great influence in the north; but having failed in that, he now made a merit of liberating him and his fellows, the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Ely, from the Tower. On Stanley he conferred the stewardship of the household, and soon after made him Constable of England. Probably, it not only entered the mind of Richard that it would be politic to secure the favour of a nobleman so much esteemed in[53] Cheshire and Lancashire, but that, by ingratiating himself with the Countess of Richmond, the wife of Stanley, and the mother of the young Earl of Richmond, who, during the reign of Edward IV., had been a cause of anxiety, as a probable aspirant to the throne, he might succeed in beguiling Richmond into his hands; and this is the more probable because he was, at the very time, negotiating some private matters with the Duke of Brittany, at whose court Richmond was.


Besides the promotion of Stanley, the Lord Howard was made Earl Marshal and Duke of Norfolk, his son was created Earl of Surrey, Lord Lovel was made a viscount, and many others of the nobility now received higher rank. The vast wealth which Edward IV. had left he distributed lavishly amongst those who had done his work, and those whom he sought to win over. The troops who had come from the north, and were seen with wonder and ridicule by the Londoners from their mean and dirty appearance, and called a rascal rabble, but who were ready at a word to do desperate things, he amply rewarded, and sent home again, as soon as the coronation was over.

This great display over, Richard called no Parliament, but merely assembled the nobility before their returning to their respective counties, and enjoined them to maintain the peace there, and to assist his officers in putting down all offenders and disturbers. But he did not satisfy himself with injunctions. He set out to make a wide circuit through his kingdom, in order to awe all malcontents by his presence. He proceeded by slow journeys to Oxford, Woodstock, Gloucester, and Worcester. At Warwick he was joined by the queen; and as she was the daughter of the late Earl of Warwick, she might be considered as presiding in her ancestral home; and there, therefore, a considerable court was held for the space of a week, the Spanish ambassadors and members of the English nobility coming there. Thence the royal pair advanced by Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham, and Pontefract to York. The inhabitants of that stronghold of Lancastrian feeling had been warned to receive the king "with every mark of joy;" and to conciliate the northern population, Richard sent for the royal wardrobe from London, and once more repeated the coronation in York, as if to intimate that he scarcely felt himself sovereign till he had their sanction and homage.

But after all the crimes perpetrated by Richard, the public had been terrified into silence, not into approval. No sooner was the south relieved from his presence than it at once recovered breath and language. As if the oppression of a nightmare were withdrawn, people began to utter their true feelings. Some were for marching in thousands upon the Tower, and forcibly liberating the innocent victims; others suggested that it were wise to enable the daughters of Edward to escape to the Continent, so that Richard should never be free from the fear of legitimate claimants to the crown. All the foreign potentates had shrunk from entering into alliance with so blood-stained a character, and would be ready to cherish these[54] princesses as a means of annoying or controlling him.

But Richard had thought of all these things long before the public, and had taken such measures to prevent them as would soon make the ears of all England tingle at their discovery. On attempting to communicate with Elizabeth and her daughters in the sanctuary, they found that asylum invested by a strong body of soldiers under one John Nesfield, and that there was no approaching the royal family. The only alternative was to endeavour to liberate the young princes.

For this purpose private meetings were held in nearly all the counties of the south and west. The nobility and gentry bound themselves by oath to take arms and unite for the restoration of Edward V. In the midst of these movements the agitators were agreeably astonished to find themselves in possession of a most unexpected and powerful ally. This was no other than the Duke of Buckingham, the man who had so unscrupulously taken the lead in putting down all who were formidable obstacles to Richard's plans, and in bringing London to declare for him. The circumstances which produced this marvellous change have rather been guessed at than ever satisfactorily known.

Buckingham was descended from Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, sixth son of Edward III. His claims to the throne were far superior to those of the Earl of Richmond, who was of an exactly parallel descent from John of Gaunt, but with a flaw of illegitimacy through that prince's connection with Catherine Swynford. Buckingham not only stood higher amongst the princes of the Lancastrian blood than Richmond, but he was married to the sister of Queen Elizabeth, and was thus closely connected with the imprisoned prince. Yet he had at once supported the most unscrupulous of the Yorkists, and helped more than any other man to dethrone his near relative. If this were strange, his sudden conversion was stranger. For his signal services to Richard he had received signal rewards. The Earl of Gloucester, Buckingham's ancestor, had married one of the daughters and co-heiresses of Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford. Their property, on the Yorkist family ascending the throne, had been seized by it. Buckingham had probably made it his bargain for what he was to do for Richard, that these estates should be restored to him. They were, accordingly, restored, and beyond that he was made Constable of England, Justiciary of Wales, and many other honours were heaped upon him. Why, then, this sudden revolt? The real causes were most likely those which have ever separated successful villains—distrust of each other, and the desire of the principal to be rid of his too knowing and, therefore, dangerous accessory. Buckingham was the confidant in many and terrible State secrets. He knew why Hastings was suddenly hurried to his death, and all the dark work by which the true prince had been thrust down to a dungeon, and the false one set up.

He resolved, therefore, to reinstate Edward V.; and circular letters were addressed to all those chiefs who were likely to unite in the enterprise. In Kent, Essex, Sussex, Berkshire, Hants, Wilts, and Devonshire, preparations were made for the purpose; and Buckingham was about to move forward to put himself at their head, when the confederates were thunderstruck with the news that the king and his brother had been already murdered in the Tower.

The account which has been generally followed of this horrid event, is that of Sir Thomas More. According to the learned chancellor, Richard, while making his holiday progress through the country, was plotting the death of the young princes in the Tower. From Gloucester he despatched one of his pages to Sir Robert Brackenbury, the Governor of the Tower, commanding him to get them quietly made away with. Sir Robert refused the office of assassin. Richard, however, from Warwick sent Sir James Tyrell, with orders to command the Tower for one night. This Tyrell had been vice-Constable under Edward IV., and always employed by him to execute illegal commissions, like Tristan, the tool of Louis XI. Tradition holds that the Portcullis Tower was the one in which the young princes were confined, and it is stated that they were under the constant surveillance of four keepers, and waited on by a fellow called Black Will, or Will Slaughter.

The murderer Richard is said to have roused Tyrell from his bed at midnight, and sent him off; and Brackenbury, though he would not stain his own hands with innocent blood, had to give the keys by the king's command to the man who would. "Then," says Sir Thomas More, "Sir James Tyrell desired that the princes should be murdered in bed, to the execution whereof he appropriated Miles Forest, one of their keepers, a fellow flesh-bred in murder, and to him he joined one John Dighton, his own horse-keeper, a big, broad, square knave. The young king had certainly a clear apprehension of his fate, for he was heard sighingly to say, 'I would mine uncle[55] would let me have my life, though he taketh my crown.' After which time the prince never tied his points nor anything attended to himself, but with that young babe his brother, lingered in thought and heaviness, till the traitorous deed delivered them from their wretchedness.

"All their other attendants being removed from them, and the harmless children in bed, these men came into their chamber, and suddenly lapping them in the clothes, smothered and stifled them till thoroughly dead. Then laying out their bodies on the bed, they fetched Sir James to see them, who caused the murderers to bury them at the stairfoot, deep in the ground under a heap of stones. Then rode Sir James in great haste to King Richard, and showed him the manner of the murder, who gave him great thanks, but allowed not their bodies in so vile a corner, but would have them buried in consecrated ground. Sir Robert Brackenbury's priest then took them up, and where he buried them was never known, for he died shortly afterwards. But when the news was brought to the unfortunate mother, yet being in sanctuary, that her two sons were murdered, it struck to her heart like the sharp dart of death; she was so suddenly amazed that she swooned and fell to the ground, and there lay in great agony, yet like to a dead corpse."

This dismal news, however, probably did not reach the unhappy queen till some time after the perpetration of the murder, for the tyrant kept the deed close till it suited his purpose to disclose it.

The whole of this circumstantial account has been called in question by some modern historians, on the plea that the history of Richard was written by men after his death, who invented half the crimes and repulsive features of Richard to please the court of Henry VII. But perhaps two more highly credible historians could not be found than Sir Thomas More and the continuator of the Croyland Chronicle, the latter of whom wrote immediately after the death of Richard; and every circumstance known confirms their accounts. We shall see that the younger of these princes was supposed to reappear in the reign of Henry VII. as Perkin Warbeck. But, unfortunately for this story, the bodies of the two murdered children were discovered buried in one coffin or box. This occurred so late as 1674, when workmen were digging down the stairs which led from the king's lodgings to the chapel in the Tower, where, about ten feet deep, they came upon this chest containing the bones of two youths "proportionable to the ages of the two brothers; namely, about thirteen and eleven years."

What is more, all those said to be concerned in this diabolical deed were afterwards specially patronised by Richard. Greene, the messenger, was made receiver of the lordships of the Isle of Wight and Porchester Castle; Tyrell and Brackenbury received numerous grants of lucrative offices, money, and lands, as may be seen in Strype's notes to Bucke's history, in Kennet. Dighton, one of the murderers, was made bailiff for life of the manor of Aiton, in Staffordshire; and Forest dying in possession of a lucrative post in Bernard Castle, his widow and son received an annuity of five marks. Still, further, Sir Thomas More says, "Very truth it is, and well known, that at such times as Sir James Tyrell was in the Tower for treason against King Henry VII., both Dighton and him were examined, and confessed the murder in manner above written." Henry, in consequence, sought for the bodies, but at that time they could not be found, the chaplain, the depositary of the secret, being dead.

When, in addition to this, it shall be seen that Richard was anxious to marry Elizabeth of York, the sister of these young princes, and to prevent Richmond from marrying her, nothing can be more conclusive of the death of the boys as described—for, otherwise, the issue of Elizabeth could not succeed rightfully to the throne. Moreover, Richard is himself stated to have allowed the fact of the murder to come out, in order to crush the rising of Buckingham and his confederates in their behalf. Under all these circumstances, we conceive no event of history stands more strongly authenticated.

It is said to have been in the midst of the gaieties of the coronation at York that Richard received the news of Buckingham's movement, and of the confederation of the southern counties. The circumstances were so alarming that, notwithstanding the execration which he was conscious such an avowal would bring down upon him, he permitted the account of the princes' death to be published. One universal burst of horror, both from friend and foe, went through the kingdom; and from that hour, instead of saving him, the knowledge of that cruel deed repelled all hearts from him.

For the moment, the nobles, marching forward to rescue the young king, were taken aback: the tyrant had anticipated them; the king they would restore had perished. But the astute Bishop of Ely reminded them that there was[56] Henry of Richmond, descended from John of Gaunt, who might marry Elizabeth of York, and thus, uniting the two rival houses, put an end to the divisions of the nation. This uniting all parties would annihilate the murderer. The idea was seized upon with avidity. Reginald Bray, the steward to the Countess of Richmond, was instructed to open the project to her, who immediately embraced it in favour of her son. Dr. Lewis, a Welsh physician, who attended the queen-dowager in the sanctuary, was made the bearer of the scheme to her. Elizabeth was well prepared by the wrongs heaped upon her, the murder of her brother and her three sons, and her own confinement and degradation, to forget her opposition to the house of Lancaster. She fully agreed to the project, on the condition of Richmond swearing to marry her daughter Elizabeth on his arriving in England. She even borrowed a sum of money and sent it to him, to aid his enterprise. A messenger was despatched to Henry in Brittany to inform him of the agreement, and to hasten his arrival, the 18th of October being fixed for the general rising in his favour.

After the picture by Paul Delaroche


(After the picture by Paul Delaroche.)

But it was not to be supposed that all these arrangements could escape the suspicious vigilance of Richard. He proceeded from York to Lincolnshire as if he were only attending to the ordinary affairs of the kingdom. But on the 11th of October—a week before the day appointed for the rising of the confederates—he summoned all his adherents to meet him at Leicester. Four days afterwards he proclaimed Buckingham a traitor, and set a reward of £1,000, or of £100 a year in land, on his head. For those of the Marquis of Dorset and of the two bishops he offered 1,000 marks, or 100 marks a year in land each; and for the head of any hostile knight half that sum. He sent at the same time to London for the great seal to authenticate these and similar acts.

On the day fixed, the rising, notwithstanding, took place. The Marquis of Dorset proclaimed[57] Henry VII. at Exeter; the Bishop Of Salisbury proclaimed him in that city; the men of Kent at Maidstone; those of Berkshire at Newbury, and the Duke of Buckingham raised his standard at Brecon. Few revolutions ever opened with more favourable auspices. But untoward events made wholly abortive this well-planned popular attempt. The Duke of Richmond set sail from St. Malo on the 12th of October for England, with a fleet of forty sail, carrying 5,000 men; but tempestuous weather prevented him from reaching the coast of Devonshire till the dispersion of his unfortunate allies. He therefore put back. In the meantime Richard had joined his army at Leicester, and issued a proclamation which reads nowadays like the ravings of a madman.


To draw off the followers of the confederates, while he offered rewards for the heads of their leaders, he granted free pardons to all who would abandon them. And the elements at this moment fought for Richard. Buckingham set out on his march to unite his forces to those of the other leaders, but there fell such heavy and continuous rains during the whole of his march from Brecon through the Forest of Dean to the Severn, that the bridges were carried away, and all the fords rendered impassable. Such rains and floods had not been known in the memory of man; and the[58] inundation of the Severn was long after remembered as Buckingham's Flood.

The Welsh, struck with a superstitious dread from this circumstance, and pressed by famine, dispersed, and Buckingham turned back to Weobly, the seat of Lord Ferrers. The news of Buckingham's failure confounded all the other confederates, and every man made the best of his way towards a place of safety. Merton, Dorset, Courtenay the Bishop of Exeter, and others, escaped to Flanders and Brittany. Weobly was closely watched, on one side by Sir Humphrey Stafford, and on the other by the clan of the Vaughans, who were promised the plunder of Brecon if they secured the duke. Buckingham, in disguise, escaped from Weobly, and hid himself near Shrewsbury, in the hut of a fellow of the name of Bannister, an old servant of the duke's family. This wretch, to secure the reward, betrayed his master to John Mitton, the sheriff of Shropshire, who conducted him to Richard at Salisbury, who ordered his head to be instantly struck off in the market-place. Amongst others who shared the same fate, Richard had the satisfaction of thus silencing a witty rhymester, William Collingbourne, who had dared to say that,

"The rat, the cat, and Lovel the dog,
Ruled all England under the hog."

That is, Ratcliffe, Catesby, and Lord Lovel; the hog being in allusion to Richard's crest, the boar.

Richard, thus relieved, marched into Devonshire, where he put to death, amongst others, Sir Thomas St. Leger, a knight who had married the Duchess of Exeter, his own sister. He then traversed the southern counties in triumph, and, arriving in London, he ventured to do what hitherto he had not dared, that is, call a Parliament. This assembly, prostrate at the feet of the prosperous despot, did whatever he proposed. They pronounced him "the undoubted king of England, as well by right of consanguinity and inheritance, as by lawful election, consecration, and coronation;" and they entailed the crown on his issue; the Lords, spiritual and temporal, binding themselves to uphold the succession of his son, the Prince of Wales. They attainted his enemies by wholesale, and beyond all precedent. One duke, one marquis, three earls, three bishops, with a whole host of knights and gentlemen, were thus deprived of honour, title, and estate; and their lands, forfeited to the Crown, were bestowed by Richard liberally on his northern adherents, who were thus planted in the south to act as spies on the southern nobles and gentry. The Countess of Richmond, though attainted, was permitted to hold her estates for life, or rather, they were thus conceded for that term to her husband, Lord Stanley, to bind him to the usurper.

To avenge himself on the queen-dowager for her acceptance of the proposal to bring over Henry of Richmond and unite him to her daughter, Richard now deprived her and her daughters of all title, property, and honour. He treated them, not as the legitimate wife and children of Edward IV., but as what he had before proclaimed them. He had ordered the late murdered king to be called officially "Edward the bastard, lately called Edward V." The queen-dowager was styled "Elizabeth, late wife of Sir John Gray," and her daughters were treated and addressed as simple gentlewomen.

But the design of placing Henry of Richmond on the throne, Richard knew well, though for the moment defeated, was not abandoned. At the last festival of Christmas Henry had met the English exiles, to the number of 500, at Rhedon, in Brittany, and had there sworn to marry Elizabeth of York as soon as he should subdue the usurper; and thereupon the exiles had unanimously sworn to support him as their sovereign. Henry was, as we have observed, descended on the father's side merely from Owen Tudor, a yeoman of the royal guard, and Catherine, the widow of Henry V. On the mother's side he was descended from Edward III. through John of Gaunt, but from an illegitimate branch. The bar of illegitimacy, though legally removed, would always have operated against his claim to the crown; but, independent of this, there were still various princes and princesses of Spain and Portugal, descendants of John of Gaunt, whose titles to the English crown were much superior to his. Yet, from his very infancy, there seems to have been a singular feeling that one day he would mount the throne of this kingdom. Henry VI. is said to have laid his hand on his head as a child, and declared that one day the crown would sit there. Edward IV. had evinced a perpetual fear of him, and had not only bargained for his secure detention at the court of Brittany, but on one occasion he had bribed the Duke of Brittany to give him up on the pretence of his intending to marry him to his eldest daughter—that daughter, in fact, he was destined eventually to marry. The duke, however, at the last moment, feeling a strong misgiving, had followed Henry to St. Malo, and there stopped him from embarking. Richard, on[59] succeeding to the throne, had tried to purchase the surrender of Henry from the Duke of Brittany. In short, Henry assured the historian, Comines, that from the age of five years he had either been a captive or a fugitive. With this long traditionary presentiment that he was to reign in England attached to him, his marriage to Elizabeth of York would at once obviate all scruples as to his complete title. He would come in on the strength of her title, as William of Orange afterwards did on that of his queen, Mary Stuart.

As the prospect of this event became more imminent—as Richard felt more deeply that the heart of the nation was not with him, but that all men were looking to this alliance as the hope of better times, he set himself to defeat it. Though he had so lately robbed, degraded, and insulted Queen Elizabeth and her family—though he had murdered her children and usurped their throne, he now suddenly turned round, and fawned on them. He began to smile most kindly on Elizabeth, and wished her to quit the sanctuary and come to court—a court dyed in the blood of her sons and brothers. He made her the most flattering promises; and, when they failed to draw her forth, he followed them by the most deadly threats. Elizabeth Woodville had never been found insensible to prospects of advantage for herself and family; but to put herself into the power of so lawless a butcher, and to unite her daughter with the son of the murderer of her children, was by no means reconcilable to her feelings. She stood out stoutly; but fear of worse consequences at length compelled her to succumb, and a private contract was concluded. Richard, in the presence of a number of the nobles and prelates, as well as of the Lord Mayor and aldermen, swore that the lives of Elizabeth and her daughters should be safe; that the mother should receive an annuity of 700 marks for life, and each of the daughters lands to the value of 200 marks on their marriage, which should be to none but gentlemen.

When this bitter draught was swallowed, she had to endure another not the less sorrowful—that was, to appear at the court of the usurper, and behold him sitting in the seat of her murdered son, and receiving that homage which was his right. But this strange patron now smiled sunnily upon her. She and her daughters were received with every mark of distinction, and especially Elizabeth, the eldest, whom he was intending to pluck from the hopes of Richmond, by wedding her to his own son. But these views were suddenly destroyed by the death of this, Richard's only legitimate, son. He died at Middleham, where Richard was often residing, but was then with his queen absent at Nottingham. His death, which took place about the 9th of April, had something so remarkable about it, that Rous, the family chronicler, calls it "an unhappy death." Both Richard and his queen were so overwhelmed by this unexpected blow, that the continuator of the Croyland Chronicle says that they almost went mad.

It was indeed a fatal stroke. The son on whom Richard had built the hopes of his family's succession, and for whom he killed his nephews, was now gone, and he was left without an heir, and without any prospect of one. It might be supposed that this event would raise the confidence of the Richmond party; and Richard, appearing to entertain the same idea, conceived the design of securing Richmond, and, no doubt, dealing with him as effectually as he had done with all others who stood in his way. For this purpose he opened secret communications with Francis, Duke of Brittany. That prince, who had been so long the generous protector of Richmond, was now in a feeble and failing state of health, and his minister, Peter Landois, administered his affairs pretty much at his own will. The interest of Landois was purchased by heavy sums, and he agreed to deliver Richmond into the hands of Richard. But the sagacious Morton, Bishop of Ely, gave him timely warning, and Richmond fled for his life. He reached France with only five attendants, and went at once to the French court at Angers, where he was cordially received by the sister of Charles VIII., then acting as regent. He accompanied the French court to Paris, where he again repeated his oath to marry Elizabeth of York, in case of deposing the tyrant, and he was immediately hailed by the students of Paris as King of England. He was promised assistance by the princess regent for his enterprise, and while these things were proceeding, Francis of Brittany, who had recovered his health, and was made acquainted with the villainy of Landois, sent a messenger to offer him aid in his design.

Thus Richard had driven his enemy into a more safe and formidable position, instead of capturing him, and he taxed his subtle genius to thwart this dangerous rival by other means. To prepare for any serious attack from France, he put an end to a miserable state of plunder and reprisal betwixt Scotland and his subjects. He concluded an[60] armistice with James of Scotland; and having since his son's death nominated John Earl of Lincoln the son of his sister the Duchess of Suffolk heir to the crown, he now contracted Anne de la Pole, the sister of the young earl, to the eldest son of the King of Scotland.

But Richard had designs more profound than this. He determined, as he could not marry Elizabeth of York to his son, he would snatch her from Richmond by wedding her himself. True, he had already a wife; but monarchs have frequently shown how soon such an obstacle to a fresh alliance can be removed. Richard now held a magnificent court at Westminster. There was a constant succession of balls, feastings, and gaieties. In the midst of these no one was so conspicuous as Elizabeth of York; and what very soon excited the attention and the speculations of the court, she always appeared in precisely the same dress as the queen.

The poor queen, Anne of Warwick, who began with hating Richard most cordially, and even disguised herself as a cookmaid to escape him, since the death of her son, had never recovered from her melancholy and depression. Probably, knowing the real character of her ruthless Bluebeard, she foresaw what must take place, and was too weary of life to care to retain it. Though she penetrated the designs of the king, these never influenced her in her conduct to Elizabeth, to whom she was kind as became an aunt. And now she fell ill, and Richard is said to have assured Elizabeth that the queen would "die in February," and that she should succeed her.

Anne of Warwick, the last queen of the Plantagenet line, did not die in February, but she did not survive through March. Yet that event did not in any degree contribute to Richard's marriage with Elizabeth. Whether we are to suppose with Sir Thomas More, and others, that Elizabeth herself manifested a steady repugnance to so abhorrent a union, or whether Richard deemed her in greater security there, he sent her under close guard to the castle of Sheriff-Hutton, in Yorkshire, and no sooner did he permit it to be whispered that such a marriage was probable, than the rumour was received with universal horror. No persons were more resolutely opposed to it than Ratcliffe and Catesby, Richard's great confidants in his crimes. They naturally dreaded the idea of Elizabeth, the sister of the murdered princes and the representative of a family on which they had heaped such injuries, becoming queen, and in a position to wreak her vengeance upon them. But they also saw, quite as clearly, the ruin which the king would certainly bring down upon himself by such a measure, in which they must also be inevitably involved.

The instinct of self-preservation in these men led them to remind the king that a marriage with his own niece would be regarded as incestuous, would be reprobated by the clergy, and abhorred by the people; that there was a general persuasion abroad that he had poisoned his wife, and this union would convert that persuasion into absolute conviction; that the men of the northern counties, on whom he chiefly depended, and who adhered to him, more than for any other cause, through their attachment to the late queen, as the daughter of the great Earl of Warwick, would be totally lost, and nothing but ruin could await him.

This strong and undisguised feeling, displayed thus both in public and private, drove Richard from this design. Just before Easter, he called a meeting of the city authorities in the great hall of St John's, Clerkenwell, and there declared that he had no such intention as that of marrying his niece, and that the report was "false and scandalous in a high degree." He also sent a letter to the citizens of York, dated the 11th of April, contradicting such slanderous tales, and commanding them to apprehend and punish all who should be found guilty of propagating them.

But the time was fast drawing near which must decide whether Richard or Henry of Richmond should wear the crown. Richard was informed by his agents on the Continent that Charles of France had permitted the Earl of Richmond to raise an army in that country. They amounted to 3,000 men, consisting of English refugees and Norman adventurers. Richard pretended to be delighted at the news, as confident that now he should speedily annihilate his enemy. He was, however, so impoverished by his lavish gifts and grants to secure the faith of his adherents, that he was unprovided with the means of maintaining an army; neither had he a fleet to intercept that of Henry. He dared not call a Parliament to ask for supplies, for he had expended those granted by the only one he had called. In that Parliament, to cast odium upon the memory of his brother Edward, he had called on his subjects to remember his tyranny in extorting benevolences; yet now he resorted to the very same thing; and the people, in ridicule of his pretended denunciation of benevolences, called them malevolences. By these arbitrary exactions he destroyed the last trace of adhesion to his Government. On all sides he felt coldness—on all sides he saw defection. The brave old Earl of Oxford, John De Vere, who had been a prisoner twelve years in the prison of Ham, in Picardy, was set at liberty by Sir James Blount, the governor of the castle, and they fled together to Henry. Sir John Fortescue, the Porter of Calais, followed their example, and numbers of young English gentlemen, students of the University of Paris, flocked to his standard. The same process was going on in England. Several sheriffs of counties abandoned their charge, and hastened over to France; and numerous parties put off from time to time from the coast. But no nobleman occasioned, however, so much anxiety as Lord Stanley. His connection with Richmond, having married his mother, made Richard always suspicious. He had lavished favours upon him to attach him, and had made him steward of the household to retain him under his eye. Stanley had always appeared sincere in his service, but it was a sincerity that Richard could not comprehend. This nobleman now demanded permission to visit his estates in Cheshire and Lancashire, to raise forces for the king; but Richard so little trusted him that he detained his son, Lord Strange, as a hostage for his fidelity. We have already seen that Stanley had long secretly pledged himself to Elizabeth of York in her cause, and only waited the proper occasion to go over.




On the 1st of August, 1485, Henry of Richmond set sail from Harfleur, with the united fleet of France and Brittany, and an army of 3,000 men, on that memorable expedition which was to terminate the fatal wars of the Roses, and introduce into England a new dynasty, and a new era of civilisation. On the seventh of that month he landed at Milford Haven. He himself and his uncle, Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, went on shore at a place called Dale, while his army was disembarking. The Welsh accosted the old earl with this significant welcome on his setting foot on his native shore, "Welcome! for thou hast taken good care of thy nephew!"

Having refreshed his forces, Henry marched on through Haverfordwest and Pembroke to Cardigan. Everywhere he was received with manifest delight; but his forces did not increase till he reached Cardigan, where Richard Griffith and Richard Thomas, two Welsh gentlemen, joined his standard with their friends. His old friend Sir Walter Herbert, who had been expressly sent by Richard into that quarter with Rice ap Thomas to raise the country in his behalf, though he did not join him, suffered him to pass unmolested. Rice ap Thomas, on receiving a promise of the Government of Wales, went over at once to Henry. When the army reached Newport Sir Gilbert Talbot, with a decision of character in keeping with the account of him by Brereton, came at the head of the tenantry of his nephew, the Earl of Shrewsbury, 2,000 in number, and there, too, he was followed by Sir John Savage. The invading force now amounted to more than 6,000 men.

Henry crossed the Severn at Shrewsbury. Richard now advanced to Leicester, whence he issued despatches to all his subjects to join him on the instant, accompanied by the most deadly menaces against all defaulters. The Duke of Norfolk was there with the levies of the eastern counties; the Earl of Northumberland with those from the north; Lord Lovel commanded those from London; and Brackenbury those from Hampshire. Stanley alone held aloof, and sent word, in reply to Richard's summons, that he was ill in bed with the sweating sickness. Richard received this ominous message with the utmost rage; and, as he had vowed that, on the first symptom of disaffection on his part, he would cut off the head of Lord Strange, his son, Strange made an instant attempt at flight. He was brought back, and frankly confessed that he and his uncle, Sir William Stanley, chamberlain of North Wales, had agreed to join the invaders; but protested that his father knew nothing of their intention, but was loyal, and his forces were already on the way to the royal camp. Richard compelled him to write to his father, bidding him come up at once, or that his son was a dead man.

On the 21st of August Richard rode forward from Leicester, and encamped about two miles from Bosworth. He was mounted in the march on a magnificent white courser, and clad in the same rich suit of burnished steel which he wore at his victorious field of Tewkesbury. On his helmet blazed a regal crown, which he had displayed there since he took up his headquarters at Nottingham. His countenance is represented as stern and frowning; his manner haughty, and as if putting on an air of bravado, rather than of calm confidence; for, though his troops amounted to 30,000, and his cavalry was the finest in Europe, he well knew that there was secret and wide-spread disaffection under all that martial show. Were his followers true to him, the little army of Richmond would be shivered in the first shock, and trodden under foot. But, perhaps, not[63] a man except the Duke of Norfolk was really stanch in his devotion; and that night Norfolk's followers found pinned upon his tent this ominous couplet:—

"Jocky of Norfolk, be not too bold,
For Dickon thy master is bought and sold."

That night Henry, who had reached Tamworth, marched to Atherstone. His army did not amount to half that of Richard: yet all were earnest in the cause, and the number of men of rank and character in it gave it a very imposing air in the eyes of the soldiers. On the contrary, Richard's soldiers, if we are to believe "Twelve Strange Prophecies"—still in the British Museum—had been discouraged, not only by the warning to John, or—as he was familiarly called—Jocky of Norfolk, but by the following singular incident. As the king rode out of Leicester by the south gate, at the head of his cavalry, a blind old man, well known as a superannuated wheelwright, sat begging at the foot of the bridge. In reply to the remarks of the soldiers as to the weather, the old man cried out just as the king was at hand—"If the moon change again to-day, which has changed once in the course of nature, King Richard will lose life and crown." This was supposed to allude to Lord Percy, whose crest was a crescent, and of whose faith Richard was sorely in doubt. When Richard passed, his foot struck against a low post placed to defend the corner of the bridge, and the beggar said, "His head will strike there as he returns at night."

The night before the battle, Henry of Richmond had a secret meeting near Atherstone with Lord Stanley, who assured him of his adherence, but showed him how impossible it was that he could join him till Richard was engaged in arraying the battle, or his son's life would immediately be sacrificed. Stanley had 5,000 men, and engaged to appear for Richard till the moment for battle, when his defection would do Henry the most signal service.

On the evening of the 21st of August, the two armies lay encamped near the little town of Bosworth, opposite to each other. Richard is represented by the chroniclers as passing that night in the most agonising state of restlessness and uncertainty. The deeply-rooted disaffection of his troops destroyed his confidence, though his 30,000 were only opposed by Richmond's 6,000. He went through the camp examining secretly the state of his outposts, and finding at one of them a sentinel asleep, he stabbed him to the heart, saying, "I find him asleep, and I leave him so." His own slumbers are said to have been broken, and the chroniclers express his state by saying he "was most terribly pulled and haled by devils."

But other agents than those thus troubling the tyrant's mind were active throughout the camp. Many of his soldiers stole away to Richmond, and probably some of these left the warning to Jocky of Norfolk. These desertions produced dismay in Richard's ranks, and confidence in those of his rival.

When morning broke, Richmond's little army was discovered already drawn up. The van, consisting of archers, was led by the Earl of Oxford; the right wing by Sir Gilbert Talbot; the left by Sir John Savage. In the main body Henry posted himself, accompanied by the Earl of Pembroke. Richard confronted the foe with his numerous lines, taking his place also in the main body, opposite to Richmond, but giving the command of the van to the Duke of Norfolk. Lord Stanley took his station on one wing, and Sir William on the other, so that, thus disposed, they could flank either their own side or the opposed one. The battle was begun by the archers of both armies, and soon became furious. No sooner was this the case, than the Stanleys, seizing the critical moment, wheeling round, joined the enemy, and fell on Richard's flanks. This masterly manœuvre struck dismay through the lines of Richard; the men who stood their ground appeared to fight without heart, and to be ready to fly. Richard, who saw this, and beheld the Duke of Northumberland, sitting at the head of his division, and never striking a single stroke, became transported with fury. His only hope appeared to be to make a desperate assault on Henry's van, and, if possible, to reach and kill him on the spot. With this object he made three furious charges of cavalry; and, at the third, but not before he had seen his chief companion, the Duke of Norfolk, slain, he broke into the midst of Henry's main body, and, catching sight of him, dashed forward, crying frantically, "Treason! treason! treason!" He killed Sir William Brandon, Henry's standard-bearer, with his own hand; struck Sir John Cheyney from his horse; and, springing forward on Henry, aimed a desperate blow at him; but Sir William Stanley, breaking in at that moment, surrounded Richard with his brave followers, who bore him to the ground by their numbers, and slew him, as he continued to fight with a bravery as heroic as his political career had been—in the words of[64] Hume—"dishonourable for his multiplied and detestable enormities." The blood of Richard tinged a small brook which ran where he fell, and the people are said to this day never to drink of its water.

The body of the fallen tyrant was speedily stripped of his valuable armour and ornaments, and the soldier who laid hands upon the crown hid it in a hawthorn bush. But strict quest being made after it, it was soon discovered and carried to Lord Stanley, who placed it upon the head of Henry, and the victor was immediately saluted by the general acclamations of the army with "Long live King Henry!" and they sang Te Deum, in grand chorus, on the bloody heath of Bosworth. From the poetical circumstance of the hawthorn bush, the Tudors assumed as their device a crown in a bush of fruited hawthorn. Lord Strange, the son of Lord Stanley, being deserted by his guards, as soon as the defeat was known, made his way to the field, and joined his father and the king at the close of the battle.

King Henry VII. advanced from the decisive field of Bosworth, at the head of his victorious troops, to Leicester, which he entered with the same royal state that Richard had quitted it. The statements of the numbers who fell on this field vary from 1,000 to 4,000, but of the leaders, the Duke of Norfolk, and Lord Ferrars of Chartley, Sir Richard Ratcliffe, Sir Robert Percy, and Sir Robert Brackenbury, fell with the king. On the side of Henry fell no leaders of note.

Henry used his victory mildly; he shed no blood of the vanquished, except that of the notorious Catesby, and two persons of the name of Brecher, who were probably men of like character and crimes. Thus, in one day, the world was relieved of the presence of Richard and of his two base commissioners of murder, Catesby and Ratcliffe.

Richard's naked body, covered with mud and gore, was, according to the local traditions of Leicester, flung carelessly across a horse, and thus carried into that town; his head, say these historic memories, striking against the very post which the blind beggar had said it should, and the rude populace following it with shouts of mockery. The corpse was begged by the nuns of the Grey Friars, to whom Richard had been a benefactor, and was decently interred in their church.



The Study of Latin and Greek—Invention of Printing—Caxton—New Schools and Colleges—Architecture, Military, Ecclesiastical, and Domestic—Sculpture, Painting, and Gilding—The Art of War—Commerce and Shipping—Coinage.

It might be very reasonably supposed that during a century spent almost entirely in war, and during the second half of it in the most rancorous intestine strife, there could not be much national progress. There is no doubt but that the population was greatly decreased. It was calculated that at the beginning of the century the population of England and Wales amounted to about 2,700,000. At the end of it, it is supposed that there were not 2,500,000.

In these depopulating wars, there can be no question that, besides the actual destruction of so many men, there must have been terrible sufferings inflicted, and an immense interruption of all those peaceful transactions by which nations become wealthy and powerful.

During this century, two events of the highest importance to art and learning took place—the introduction of the knowledge of Greek and the invention of printing.

After the Painting by Daniel Maclise, R.A


After the Painting by Daniel Maclise, R.A.


If the knowledge of Greek had not entirely died out in western Europe, it had nearly so till this century. The crusades, leading the Christians of western Europe to the east, had opened up an acquaintance betwixt the people of the Greek empire and those of the West. The destruction of that empire in this century drove a number of learned men into Italy, where they taught their language and literature. Amongst these were Theodore Gaza, Cardinal Bessarion, George of Trebizond, Demetrius Chalcondyles, John Argyropulus, and Johannes Lascaris. Before that time some knowledge of the Greek philosophy had reached us through the Arabians, but till the fourteenth century very little of the literature of Greece was known in the western nations, not even the "Iliad" and "Odyssey" of Homer. In Italy Petrarch and Boccaccio learned the language and studied the writings of Greece, and an enthusiasm for Greek literature spread over all Europe. Grocyn studied it in Italy in 1488, under Chalcondyles, and came and taught it in England.


At the same moment that Greek began to be studied, Latin in Europe was in the lowest and most degraded state. Though it still continued the language of divines, lawyers, philosophers, historians, and even poets, it had lost almost every trace of its original idiom and elegance. Latin words were used, but in the English order, and where words were wanting, they Anglicised them.

From MS. in the Library of Lambeth Palace

EARL RIVERS PRESENTING CAXTON TO EDWARD IV. (From MS. in the Library of Lambeth Palace.)

But that wonderful art which was destined to chase this darkness like a new sun was already on its way from Germany to this country. The Chinese had printed from engraved wooden blocks for many centuries, when the same idea suggested itself to a citizen of Haarlem, named Laurent Janszoon Coster. Coster, who was keeper of the cathedral, first cut his letters in wood, then made separate wooden letters, and employed them in printing books by tying them together with strings. From wood he proceeded to cut his letters in metal, and finally to cast them in the present fashion. Coster concealed his secret with great care, and was anxious to transmit it to his children; but in this he was disappointed, for at his death one of his assistants, John Gensfleisch, the Gutenberger, went off to Mayence, carrying with him movable types of Coster's casting.

That is the Dutch story, but the Germans insist on Gutenberg being the originator of printing. They contend that Coster's were only the wooden blocks which had long been in use for the printing of playing cards, and manuals of devotion. They even insinuate that all that the Dutch claim had[66] probably been brought from China by Marco Polo in the thirteenth century, who had seen the paper-money thus printed there in letters of vermilion, and that Holland had no share in the invention at all. But we know that the Germans have a vast capacity for claiming. It is notorious that all the earliest block-printing, the Bibliæ Pauperum, the Bibles of the Poor, the Speculum Humanæ Salvationis, with its fifty pictures, and other block works, were all done in the Low Countries in the century we are reviewing.

Taking a broad view, however, it is certain that Gutenberg, Fust, and Schoeffer, were the men who first printed any known works in movable types, and from Mayence, in 1445, diffused very soon the knowledge of the present art of printing over the whole world. The first work which they are supposed to have printed was the Bible, an edition of the Latin Vulgate, known by the name of the Mazarin Bible, of which various copies remain, though without date or printer's name.

Printing was introduced into England in 1474, according to all the chief authorities of or near that time, by William Caxton. Caxton was a native of the weald of Kent. He served his apprenticeship to a mercer of London, and left England in 1441 to transact business in the Low Countries. There he was greatly regarded by Margaret, the Duchess of Burgundy, Edward IV.'s sister, who retained him as long as she could at her court. Caxton was now upwards of fifty years of age, but his inquisitive and active temperament led him to learn, amongst other things, the whole art of printing from one Colard Manson. He saw its immense importance, and he translated Raoul le Feure's "Recueil des Histoires de Troye," and printed it in folio. This great work he says himself that he began in Bruges, and finished in Cologne in 1471. The first work which he printed in England was the "Game and Playe of Chesse," which was published in 1475. From this time till 1490, or till nearly the date of his death in 1491 or 1492, a period of sixteen years, the list of the works which Caxton passed through his press is quite wonderful. Thomas Milling, the Abbot of Westminster, was his most zealous patron; and at Westminster, in the Almonry, he commenced his business. Earl Rivers, brother to the queen of Edward IV., another of his friends and patrons, translated the "Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers" for his nephew, the Prince of Wales, and introduced Caxton, when it was printed, to present it to the king and royal family.

But while Caxton was thus busy he saw others around him also as hard at work with their presses: Theodore Rood, John Lettow, William Machelina, and Wynkyn de Worde, foreigners, and Thomas Hunt, an Englishman. A schoolmaster of St. Albans set up a press there, and several books were printed at Oxford in 1478, and to the end of the century. There is no direct evidence of any work being printed in Scotland during this century, though such may have been the case, and all traces of the fact obliterated in the almost universal destruction of the cathedral and conventual libraries at the Reformation. James III. was known to collect the most superb specimens of typography, and Dr. Henry mentions seeing a magnificent edition of "Speculum Moralitatis," which had been in that king's possession, and contained his autograph.

Not less meritorious benefactors of their country, next to the writers and printers of books, were those who collected them into libraries, and the most munificent patron and encourager of learning in this manner was the unfortunate Duke Humphrey of Gloucester. He gave to the University of Oxford a library of 600 volumes in 1440, valued at £1,000. Some of these very volumes yet remain in different collections. Duke Humphrey not only bought books, but he employed men of science and learning to translate and transcribe. He kept celebrated writers from France and Italy, as well as Englishmen, to translate from the Greek and other languages; and is said to have written himself on astronomy, a scheme of astronomical calculations under his name still remaining in the library of Gresham College. The great Duke of Bedford, likewise, when master of Paris, purchased and sent to this country the royal library, containing 853 volumes, valued at 2,223 livres.

The schools and colleges founded during this century were the following:—Lincoln College, Oxford, founded in 1427, by Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, and completed by Thomas Scott, of Rotherham, Bishop of Lincoln, in 1475. All Souls' College, Oxford, was founded by Chicheley, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1437. He expended upon its erection £4,545, and procured considerable revenues for it out of lands of the alien priories dissolved just before that time. Magdalene College, Oxford, was founded by William of Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, in 1458, and soon became one of the richest colleges in Europe. King's College, Cambridge, was founded by Henry VI. in 1441. Queens' College, Cambridge, was[67] founded by Margaret of Anjou, in 1448; and Catherine Hall, Cambridge, was founded by Robert Woodlark, third provost of King's College, in 1473.

Besides these, Henry VI. founded Eton College, and Thomas Hokenorton, Abbot of Osney, founded the schools in Oxford, in 1439. Before that time the professors of several sciences in both universities read their lectures in private houses, at very inconvenient distances from each other. To remedy this inconvenience, schools were erected in both universities at this period. Hokenorton's schools comprehended the teaching of divinity, metaphysics, natural and moral philosophy, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, music, logic, rhetoric, and grammar. They required liberal aid from other benefactors, and they found these in the noble Humphrey of Gloucester, and the two brothers Kemp, the one Archbishop of York and the other Bishop of London. They were completed in 1480, including Duke Humphrey's noble library, the nucleus of the present Bodleian, which was refounded by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1597. The quadrangle, containing the schools of Cambridge, was completed in 1475.

Up to this period Scotland had possessed no university whatever, and its youth had been obliged to travel to foreign universities for their education. But now the University of St. Andrews was founded in 1410, and obtained a charter in 1411 from Bishop Wardlaw, which was confirmed by the Pope in 1412, and by James I. in 1431. The great need of such an institution was soon evidenced by the university becoming famous. In 1456 Kennedy, the successor of Wardlaw, founded the College of St. Salvator in that city; and in 1450 William Turnbull, the Bishop of Glasgow, founded the University of that city; and in the same year was founded the college or faculty of arts in Glasgow, King James II. taking both college and university under his especial patronage and protection. This college received a handsome endowment from James, Lord Hamilton, and his lady, Euphemia, Countess of Douglas, in 1459.

The castles erected during this period are few. The wars of the Roses brought the force of cannon and gunpowder against the massive erections of the barons of past ages, and many a terrible stronghold was demolished. But there was, from the beginning of these wars, little leisure for repairing, or for building new castles. The proprietors, for the most part, were killed or reduced to ruin, and the workmen shared the same fate, so that labour became too scarce and dear for such great undertakings. Scotland was affected by similar circumstances.

The castles of this period bear unmistakable traces of the Perpendicular style, which was prevalent in the ecclesiastical architecture of the age. That portion of Windsor built by William of Wykeham, though much altered, retains some marked and good features of this age. The exterior of Tattershall Castle, in Lincolnshire, remains nearly unaltered. All the castles of this time blend more or less of the domestic character, and tended towards that style which prevailed in the next century under the name of Tudor. Another great change in the castellated architecture of this period was the use of brick in their construction. Bricks, though introduced into Britain by the Romans, had gone almost out of use till the reign of Richard II.; now they were in such favour that the castles of Tattershall, Hurstmonceux, and Caistor were built chiefly of them, as Thornbury Castle was in the next century. Hurstmonceux, in Sussex, was erected in 1448 on the plan of Porchester Castle. It was a stupendous building, of which the ruins now remain, forming a regular parallelogram of 180 feet square, flanked by seventeen octagon towers, and with a fine machicolated gateway forming the keep. Tattershall, in Lincolnshire, built in 1455, is erected in the style of the ancient keep, a huge square tower with polygonal turrets at the angles. Caistor, in Norfolk, erected about 1450, was remarkable for two very large circular brick towers at the northern angle, one of which remains.

But the castles and the mansions of this period possessed frequently so many features and qualities in common, that some of them are actual hybrids, the uniting links of the two kinds of houses. They had alike towers, battlements, and moats, and the chief apartments looked into the interior quadrangle as the safest. Oxburgh Hall, in Norfolk, is one of this mixed class. Though called a hall, it is moated, and has a massive gateway of a remarkable altitude. Raglan Castle, built in the reign of Edward IV., has more of the true castellated style; Warwick and Windsor, more of the union of the two styles. At the same time such castles as had their gateways battered down, and rebuilt at this period, present in them all the older characteristics of castellated buildings. Such is the gateway of Carisbrooke Castle, built in the reign of Edward IV., and the west gate of Canterbury, built towards the close of the fourteenth century, which retain the stem old circular towers, lighted only by mere loopholes and œillets.


The style of ecclesiastical architecture prevailing through this century, and to the middle of the next, is that called the Perpendicular. It appears to have commenced about 1377, or at the commencement of the reign of Richard II., just twenty years prior to this century, and it terminated at the Reformation, in the reign of Henry VIII. The Reformation was anything but a reformation in architecture. That great convulsion broke up the period of a thousand years, during which, from the first introduction of Christianity into this island, this peculiar character of architecture, often called Gothic, but more properly Christian, had been progressing and perfecting itself. The Western princes and prelates, evidently copying the Grecian in their columns, but adding curves and ornaments unknown to the Greeks, and introducing principles of pliancy, and of long and lofty aisles, from the suggestions of the forests, in which they were accustomed to wander, and the linden groves which they planted, originated a new school of architecture, in many particulars far exceeding that of the classic nations. No church took up and perpetuated this noble Christian architecture more cordially and more inspiredly than the Catholic. Over the whole of Europe, wherever the Roman Church prevailed, it erected its churches and monasteries in a spirit of unrivalled grandeur and beauty. In architecture, in music, and in painting, it acquitted itself royally towards the public, however it might fail in spirit, in doctrine, or in discipline. The remains of painted windows, to say nothing of the productions of such men as Raphael, Michael Angelo, Guido, and a host of others, who drew their inspiration from the devotions of that church, are sufficient to excite our highest admiration; and the sublime anthems which resounded through their august and poetical temples, through what are called "the Dark Ages," were well calculated to enchain the imagination of minds not deeply reflective or profoundly informed.


In every country we find, moreover, a different style in all these arts—music, painting, and architecture; demonstrating the exuberance of genius turned into these channels during long centuries, when all others, except warfare, seemed closed. England had its distinctive style in these matters, and in architecture this Perpendicular style was the last. During its later period it considerably deteriorated, and with the Reformation it went out. In England sufficient power and[69] property were left to the Anglican Church to enable it to preserve the majority of its churches, and many of its conventual buildings: in Scotland the destruction was more terrible. There public opinion took a great leap from Catholicism to the simplicity and sternness of the school of John Knox; and in consequence of his celebrated sermon at Perth, in which he told his congregation that to effectually drive away the rooks they must pull out their nests, almost every convent and cathedral, except that of Glasgow, was reduced to a ruin.


Of the Perpendicular style we have many churches throughout the country, and still more into which it has been more or less introduced into those of earlier date in repairs and restorations. Every county, and almost every parish, can show us specimens of this style, if it be only in a window, a porch, or a buttress. Rickman is of opinion that half the windows in English edifices over the kingdom are of this style. Whilst our neighbours on the Continent were indulging themselves in the flamboyant style, and loading their churches with the most exuberant ornament, as in the splendid cathedrals of Normandy and Brittany, our ancestors were enamoured of this new and more chaste style. There are writers[70] who regard the perpendicular lines of this style as an evidence of a decline in the art. We cannot agree with that opinion. The straight, continuous mullions of the Perpendicular are—combined with the rich and abundant ornaments of other portions of the buildings, as the spandrils enriched with shields, the finely-wrought and soaring canopies, and crocketed finials, the canopied buttresses, the groined roofs and fan-tracery of ceilings—a pleasure to the eye, when chastely and richly designed.

The windows of this style at once catch the observation of the spectator. The mullions, running through from bottom to top, give you, instead of the flowing tracery of the Decorated style, a simple and somewhat stiff heading; but the stiffness is in most instances relieved by the heading of each individual section being cuspated, and the upper portions of the window presenting frequent variations, as in the grand western window of Winchester Cathedral. Some of these windows, with their cinquefoils and quatrefoils, approach even to the Decorative. Amongst the finest windows of this kind are those of St. George's, Windsor, of four lights; the clerestory windows of Henry the Seventh's Chapel, of five. The east window of York Cathedral is of superb proportions. The window of the Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick, is extremely rich and peculiar in its character. Those of the Abbey Church of Bath have the mullions alternating, by the perpendicular line being continued from the centre of each arch beneath it.

The mullions in this style are crossed at right angles by transoms, converting the whole window into a series of panels; for panelling in the Perpendicular style is one of its chief characteristics, being carried out on walls, doors, and, in many cases, even roofs and ceilings. Take away the arched head of a window, and you convert it at once into an Elizabethan one.

Every portion of a Perpendicular building has its essential characteristics: its piers, its buttresses, its niches, its roofs, porches, battlements, and ornaments, which we cannot enumerate here. They must be studied for themselves. We can only point out one or two prominent examples.

Many of the buildings of this style are adorned with flying buttresses, which are often pierced, and rich in tracery, as those of Henry VII.'s Chapel. The projection of the buttresses in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, is so great that chapels are built between them. Many of these buttresses are very rich with statuary niches and wrought canopies. Pinnacles are used profusely in this style; but in St. George's, Windsor, and the Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick, the buttresses run up, and finish square.

Panelling, as we have said, is one of the most striking features of the Perpendicular style. This is carried to such an extent in most of the richly-ornamented buildings, that it covers walls, windows, roofs; for the doors and windows are only pierced panels. St. George's, Windsor, is a fine example of this; but still finer is Henry VII.'s Chapel, which, within and without, is almost covered with panelling. King's College Chapel, Cambridge, is another remarkable example, which is all panelled, except the floor. The roof of this chapel is one of the richest specimens of the fan-tracery in the kingdom. Amongst the most graceful ornaments of this style are the angels introduced into cornices, and as supporters of shields and corbels for roof-beams, rich foliated crockets, and flowers exquisitely worked, conspicuous amongst them being the Tudor flower.

Some of the finest steeples in the country belong to this style. First and foremost stands the unrivalled open-work tower of St. Nicholas, Newcastle-on-Tyne. This forms a splendid crown in the air, composed of four flying buttresses, springing from the base of octagonal turrets, and bearing at their intersection an elegant lantern, crowned with a spire. From this have been copied that of St. Giles's, Edinburgh, that of the church of Linlithgow, and the college tower of Aberdeen. Boston, Derby, Taunton, Doncaster, Coventry, York, and Canterbury boast noble steeples of this style.

The arches of the Perpendicular are various; but none are so common as the flat, four-centred arch. This in doors, and in windows also, is generally enclosed by a square plane of decoration, appearing as a frame, and this mostly surmounted by a dripstone; the spandrels formed betwixt the arch and frame being generally filled by armorial shields, or ornamental tracery. In some doorways there is an excess of ornament. The Decorative style in this country, or the florid abroad, has nothing richer. Every part is covered with canopy-work, flowers, heraldic emblems, and emblazoned shields. Such is the doorway of King's College Chapel, Cambridge; and such are the chapels of Henry V. and Henry VII. at Westminster.

The groined roofs of the Perpendicular style are noble, and often profusely ornamented. The intersections of the ribs of these groined roofs are often shields richly emblazoned in their proper colours. The vaulted roof of the cloisters of[71] Canterbury Cathedral is studded with above 800 shields, of kings and other benefactors; and the whole presents a perfect blaze of splendour. Some of these groined roofs are adorned with a ramification of ribs, running out in a fan-shape, circumscribed by a quarter or half-circle rib, the intervals filled up with ornament. The cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral present, perhaps, the first specimen of the fan-tracery roof; and after that King's College Chapel, Cambridge, Henry VII.'s Chapel, and the Abbey Church at Bath. The Red Mount Chapel, at Lynn, in Norfolk, is a unique and very beautiful specimen of the Perpendicular, not only having a richly ornamental roof of this kind, but though much injured by time, displaying in every part of it design and workmanship equally exquisite. Henry VII.'s Chapel and the Divinity School at Oxford have pendants which come down as low as the springing line of the fans.

A simpler roof, but quaint and impressive in its appearance, is the open one—that is, open to the roof framing. Here, as all is bare to the eye, the whole framework of beams and rafters has been constructed for effect. The wood-work forms arches, pendants, and pierced panels of various form and ornament. Such are the roofs of Westminster Hall, Crosby Hall (just removed), Eltham Palace, the College of Christ Church, Oxford, and many an old baronial hall and church throughout the country.

Specimens of this style of architecture in whole or in part will meet the reader in every part of England, Wales, and Scotland; and it should be remembered that it is an especial and exclusively English style, no other country possessing it. In Scotland Melrose Abbey and Roslin Chapel present fine specimens of the Perpendicular, the latter one displaying some singular variations, the work of foreign artists.

When we descend from the military castle to more domestic architecture, we find the large houses of the gentry, or nobility, though totally incapable of resisting cannon, yet frequently battlemented, flanked with turrets, and surrounded by the flooded moat. The large houses of this period were generally built round one or two quadrangles. These buildings often possessed much variety of exterior detail: a great arched gateway with the armorial escutcheon above it; projections, recesses, tall chimneys, flanking buttresses, handsome oriel windows, and pointed gables, terminated by some animal belonging to the emblazonry of the family. They were commonly adorned with fanes, in the form of the military banner of the chief, duly emblazoned in proper colours. Within, the great hall, with its open groined roof, the kitchen, and the buttery, cut the principal figure. At the upper end of the hall was the daïs or raised part, on which stood the table of the lord and his immediate family or particular guests; and below the great salt-cellar sat the remainder of the establishment. At the lower end was commonly a music gallery. The fire was still frequently in the centre of the hall, and there was a hole in the roof to permit the smoke to escape, as at Penshurst, where the front of the music gallery is true Perpendicular. In other houses there were large open fireplaces, the mantelpieces of which were frequently richly carved with the armorial shields of the family.

The floors were still strewn with fresh rushes instead of a carpet, and the walls were hung with arras, which clothed them, and at the same time kept out cold draughts. Plaster ceilings were yet unknown. The greater portion of these houses, however, was required for the sleeping apartments of the numerous retainers.

In the humbler halls, granges, and farmhouses, the same plan of building round a quadrangle was mostly adhered to, and a large number of such houses were of framed timber, with ornamental gables and porches, and displaying much carving. Great Chatfield manor-house in Wiltshire, Harlaxton in Lincolnshire, Helmingham Hall, Norfolk, Moreton Hall in Cheshire, and probably some of the framed timber houses of Lancashire, as the Hall-in-the-Wood, Smithell's, Speke Hall, &c., in whole or in part, date from this period. Ockwells, in Berkshire, is another of the fine old timber houses of this century.

In the towns the houses were also chiefly of wood. The streets were extremely narrow, and the upper storeys of the houses projected over the lower ones, so that you might almost shake hands out of the third or fourth storey windows. This was the cause of such frequent fires as occurred in London. Many of the small houses in these narrow streets were adorned with abundance of carving. The houses or inns of the great barons, prelates, and abbots were extensive, and surrounded inner courts. Here, during Parliament, and on other grand occasions, the owners came with their vast retinues. We are told that the Duke of York lodged with 400 men in Baynard's Castle, in 1457. The Earl of Warwick had his house in Warwick Lane, still called after it, where he could lodge 800 men. At another house of his called the Herber, meaning an inn, the Earl[72] of Salisbury, his father, lodged with 500 men. Still more extensive must have been the abodes of the Earls of Exeter and Northumberland, who occasionally brought retinues of from 800 to 1,500 men. The sites of these great houses are yet known, and bear the names of their ancient owners, but the buildings themselves have long vanished. The great houses of Scotland still kept up the show of feudal strength and capability of defence. The peels, or Border towers, yet bear evidence of the necessity of stout fortification in those times. We may form some idea of the devastation made amongst private dwellings in the Wars of the Roses, from the statement of John Rous, the Warwick antiquary, who says that no fewer than sixty villages, some of them large and populous, with churches and manor-houses, had been destroyed within twelve miles of that town. From all that we can learn, the common people of this age were but indifferently lodged, and the mansions of the great were more stately than comfortable.

Though such extensive destruction of the statuary which adorned both the exterior and interior of our churches took place at the Reformation, sufficient yet remains to warrant us in the belief that the fifteenth surpassed every prior century in its sculpture. The very opposition which the Wycliffites had raised to the worship and even existence of images, seems to have stimulated the Church only the more to put forth its strength in this direction. Sculptors, both foreign and English, therefore received the highest encouragement, and were in the fullest employ. The few statues which yet remain in niches, on the outside of our cathedrals, especially those on the west end of the Cathedral of Wells, though probably not the best work of the artists, are decided proofs of their ability. The effigies of knights and ladies extended on their altar tombs received grave damage, with the rest of the ecclesiastical art, from the misguided zeal of the reformers, yet many such remain of undoubted beauty, and the chantries, which were in this century erected over the tombs of great prelates, are of the most exquisite design and workmanship. Such are those in Winchester Cathedral of Bishops Wykeham, Beaufort, and Waynflete. The shrine of Bishop Beaufort, in particular, is a mass of Portland stone, carved like the finest ivory, and is a most gorgeous specimen of a tomb of the Perpendicular period. Henry V.'s chantry, in Westminster Abbey, is the only one erected in this period to royalty, and it is a monument of high honour to the age.

The names of some of the artists of this era are preserved. Thomas Colyn, Thomas Holewell, and Thomas Poppehowe, executed, carried over, and erected in Nantes, in 1408, the alabaster tomb of the Duke of Brittany. Of the five artists who executed the celebrated tomb of Richard, Earl of Warwick, in the Beauchamp Chapel, four were English, and the fifth was a Dutch goldsmith. Besides the great image of the earl, there were thirty-two images on this monument. These were all cast by William Austin, a founder of London, clearly a great genius, on the finest latten (brass), and gilded by Bartholomew Lambespring the Dutch goldsmith. The monument and the superb chapel in which it stands cost £2,481 4s. 7d., equivalent to £24,800 now.

Most of the monumental brasses which abound in our churches were the work of this period. There are some of much older date, but, during this century they were multiplied everywhere, and afforded great scope for the talents of founders, engravers, and enamellers.

In painting, the age does not appear to have equally excelled. There was, unquestionably, abundance of religious pictures on the walls of our churches, and the images themselves were painted and gilt; but there do not seem to have existed artists who had a true conception of the sublimity of their pursuit. The painting of such works was undertaken by the job, by painters and stainers. John Prudde, glazier in Westminster, undertook to "import from beyond seas glass of the finest colours, blue, yellow red, purple, sanguine, and violet," and with it glaze the windows of the Beauchamp Chapel. Brentwood, a stainer of London, was to paint the west wall of the chapel "with all manner of devices and imagery;" and Christian Coliburne, painter, of London, was to "paint the images in the finest oil colours." The great Earl of Warwick bargained with his tailor to paint the scenes of his embassy to France, for which he was to receive £1 8s. 6d. The "Dance of Death," so common on the Continent in churches and churchyards, made also so famous by Holbein, was copied from the cloister of the Innocents in Paris, and painted on the walls of the cloister of St. Paul's. It was a specimen of the portrait painting of the age, for it contained the portraits of actual persons, in different ranks of life, in their proper dresses. The portraits of our kings, queens, and celebrated characters, done at this time, are of inferior merit.

From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum Reproduced by André and Sleigh, Ltd., Bushey, Herts

From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum.

Reproduced by André & Sleigh, Ltd., Bushey, Herts.




Gilding was in great request, not only for ornamenting churches and their monuments, but for domestic use, the precious metals being very scarce, and therefore copper and brass articles were commonly silvered or gilt. But it was in the illumination of manuscripts that the artistic genius of the time was, more than almost in any other department, displayed. The colours used are deemed inferior in splendour to those of the fourteenth century, but the illuminations are superior in drawing and power of expression. The terror depicted in the faces of the Earl of Warwick's sailors in expectation of shipwreck, and the grief in those who witnessed his death, are evidences of the hand of a master. Many of the portraits of the leading characters of the age are to be found in these illuminations; and they afford us the most lively views of the persons and dresses of our ancestors of that day—their arms, ships, houses, furniture, manners, and employments. But the art of printing was already in existence, and before it the beautiful art of illumination fell and died out.


The deadly arts of destruction were more practised during this century than all others. First the English turned their arms against the French, and then against each other, and though many of their armies were hastily raised, and therefore ill-disciplined, they not only showed their accustomed bravery, but many advances were made in the manner of raising, forming, paying, and disciplining troops, as well as in the modes of attacking fortifications and towns. Henry V. was a consummate master in this, his favourite art, and was, perhaps, the first of our kings who introduced a scheme of superior discipline, teaching his troops to march in straight lines at proper distances, with a steady, measured pace; to advance, attack, halt, or fall back without breaking, or getting into confusion. This, combined with his mode of employing his archers, which we have described in the account of his battles, gave him an invincible superiority over his enemies.

As the feudal system decayed, the kings of England no longer depended on their barons appearing in the field with their vassals, but they bargained with different leaders to furnish men at stated prices, which, as we have shown, were high. It was only in cases of rebellion and intestine[74] struggle that they summoned all their military tenants to raise the people in mass, and the same summonses were issued to the archbishops, bishops, and all the principal clergy, to arm all their followers, lay and clerical, and march to the royal standard.

The pictures of battles and sieges at this period give us an odd medley of bows and arrows, crossbows, spears, cannon, and hand-guns. The old weapons were not left off, because the new ones were too imperfect and too difficult of locomotion to supersede them. The cannons, though often of immense bore and weight, throwing balls of from one to five hundredweight, were, for the most part, without carriages, and therefore difficult and tardy in their operations. The Scots were the first to anticipate the modern gun-carriage, by what they called their "carts of war," which carried two guns each, while many of the guns of the English required fifty horses to drag them. They had, however, smaller guns; as culverins, serpentines, basilisks, fowlers, scorpions, &c. The culverins were a species of hand-gun in general, fired from a rest, or from the shoulder. The Swiss had 10,000 culverins at the famous battle of Morat. These hand-guns are said to have been first brought into England by Edward IV. on his return from Flanders in 1471. Ships were also supplied with small guns.

The trade of England continued to flourish and extend itself through this century, in spite of the obstacles and ruinous effects of almost perpetual war. Our kings, however warlike they might be, were yet very sensible of the advantages of commerce, and during this century made numerous treaties in its favour. At the same time, it is curious that, even when two countries were at war, such was the spirit of trade, that the merchants went on trading whenever they could, just as if there was no war at all. This was the case, especially between England and Flanders. Our monarchs were already ambitious of reigning supreme masters of the seas, and this doctrine was as jealously urged upon them by the nation. In a rhyming pamphlet, written about 1433, and to be found in Hakluyt (Vol. I., p. 167), the writer says, that "if the English keep the seas, especially the main seas, they will compell all the world to be at peace with them, and to court their friendship."

Henry IV., though harassed by the difficulties of a usurped crown, strenuously set himself to promote commerce, and to put an end to the continual depredations committed upon each other by the English and the merchants of the Hanse Towns, as well as those of Prussia and Livonia, subject to the grand master of the Teutonic order of knights.

Henry V. was as victorious at sea as on land; and by his fleet, under his brother, the great Duke of Bedford, in 1416, and again in 1417, the Earl of Huntingdon being his admiral, swept the seas of the united fleets of France and Genoa, and made himself complete master of the ocean during his time. This ascendency was lost under the disastrous reign of Henry VI., but was regained by Edward IV., a monarch who, notwithstanding his voluptuous character, was fully alive to the vast benefits accruing to a nation from foreign trade, and thought it no dishonour to be, if not a merchant-prince, a prince-merchant. He had ships of his own, and in time of peace he did not suffer them to remain useless in harbour, but freighted them with goods on his own account, and grew rich by traffic.

Notwithstanding all this, the nation was not yet much more enlightened as to the real principles of trade than it was in the previous century. The same absurd restrictions were in force against foreign merchants. Such foreign merchants were required to lay out all the money received for goods imported in English merchandise. No gold or silver coin, plate or bullion, was, on any account, to be carried out of the kingdom. Banks were now established in most countries, and bills of exchange had been in use since the thirteenth century—so that these remedied, to a large extent, this evil; but it is clear that where the exports of a country exceeded its imports, the balance must be remitted in cash; and the commercial men were clever enough to evade all the laws of this kind. No fact was so notorious as that the coinage of England abounded in all the countries to which she traded.

Besides the prohibition of carrying out any English coin or even bullion, foreign merchants were to sell all the goods they brought within three months, but they were not to sell any of them to other merchant strangers, and when they arrived in any English town they were assigned to particular hosts, and were to lodge nowhere else. Yet, under all these obstacles, our commerce grew, and our merchants extended their voyages to ports and countries which they had not hitherto frequented. In 1413 they fitted out ships in the port of London for Morocco, having a cargo of wool and other merchandise valued at £24,000, or £240,000 of our money. This raised the ire of the Genoese, who seized these precious ships; but Henry IV. soon made ample reprisals by granting to his subjects letters of marque to seize the ships and goods of the Genoese wherever they could be found. And so well did the English kings follow this up, that we find them in Richard III.'s reign not only successfully competing with the Genoese, but obtaining a footing in Italy itself, and establishing a consul at Pisa. Consuls, or, as they were then called, governors, of the English traders abroad, were also employed during this period in Germany, Prussia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Holland, and Flanders.

From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum.



From the Froissart MS. in the British Museum.




Wool, woollens, tin, hides, and corn, were still our chief exports. Slaves, says the historian, were no longer an article of commerce; but the conveyance of pilgrims to foreign shrines was a source of great emolument to merchants. A curious pamphlet of the middle of this century, called "The Prologue of English Policy," gives us a complete view of our imports:—The commodities of Spain were figs, raisins, wines, oils, soap, dates, liquorice, wax, iron, wool, wadmote, goatfell, redfell, saffron, and quicksilver—a valuable importation. Those of Portugal were very much the same. Brittany sent wine, salt, crest-cloth or linen, and canvas; Germany, Scandinavia, and Flanders, iron, steel, copper, osmond, bowstaves, boards, wax, corn, pitch, tar, flax, hemp, felting, thread, fustian, buckram, canvas, and wool-cards; Genoa, gold, cloth of gold, silk, cotton, oil, black pepper, rockalum, and wood; Venice, Florence, and other Italian states, all kinds of spices and grocery wares, sweet wines, sugar, dates.

The age abounded with great merchants. The Medici of Florence; Jacques le Cœur, the greatest merchant that France ever produced, who had more wealth and trade than all the other merchants of that country together, and who supplied Charles VII. with money by which he recovered his country from the English. In our own country John Norbury, John Hende, and Richard Whittington, were the leading merchants of London, the last of whom was so far from a poor boy making his fortune by a cat that he was the son of Sir William Whittington, knight. In Bristol also flourished at this time William Cannynge, who was five times mayor of that city, and who had, for some cause not explained, 2,470 tons of shipping taken from him at once by Edward IV., including one ship of 400 tons, one of 500, and one of 900. The name of this Cannynge is familiar to readers of Chatterton's ingenious Rowley poems.

Of the ships and shipping of the age we need not say more than that, with all the characteristics of the past age, there was an attempt to build larger vessels in rivalry of the Genoese. John Taverner, of Hull, had a royal licence granted him in 1449, conferring on him great privileges and exemptions as a merchant, for building one as large as a Venetian carrack, one of their first-class ships, or even larger. And Bishop Kennedy, of St. Andrews, was as much celebrated for building a ship of unusual size, called the Bishop's Berge, as for building and endowing a college.

In Scotland the state of the shipping interest was much the same as in England. James I. displayed enlightened views of trade. He made various laws to ascertain the rate of duty on all exports and imports, to secure the effects of any traders dying abroad, and permitted his subjects to trade in foreign ships when they had no vessels of their own. In both countries great care was taken to protect and promote their fisheries.

The coin of those times in England was chiefly of gold and silver. The gold coin consisted of nobles, half-nobles, and quarter-nobles, originally equivalent to guineas (the exact value of a noble in Henry IV.'s reign was 21s. 1½d.), half-guineas, and quarter-guineas, or dollars of 5s. 3d. The silver coins were groats, half-groats, and pennies. But it must be remembered that all these coins were of ten times the intrinsic value of our present money; so that the labourer who in the fifteenth century received 1½d. per day, received as much as fifteen pence of the present money. But the great historical fact regarding the money of this age was its continual adulteration, and consequent depreciation.

From an Engraving by I. van Mechlin

CANNON OF THE END OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY. (From an Engraving by I. van Mechlin.)




Henry's Defective Title—Imprisonment of the Earl of Warwick—The King's Title to the Throne—His Marriage—Lovel's Rising—Lambert Simnel—Henry's prompt Action—Failure of the Rebellion—The Queen's Coronation—The Act of Maintenance—Henry's Ingratitude to the Duke of Brittany—Discontent in England—Expedition to France and its Results—Henry's Second Invasion—Treaty of Étaples—Perkin Warbeck—His Adventures in Ireland, France, and Burgundy—Henry's Measures—Descent on Kent—Warbeck in Scotland—Invasion of England—The Cornish Rising—Warbeck quits Scotland—He lands in Cornwall—Failure of the Rebellion—Imprisonment of Warbeck and his subsequent Execution—European Affairs—Marriages of Henry's Daughter and Son—Betrothal of Catherine and Prince Henry—Henry's Matrimonial Schemes—Royal Exactions—A Lucky Capture—Henry proposes for Joanna—His Death.

Though Henry Tudor had conquered Richard III. on the field of Bosworth, he had no title whatever to the crown of England, except such as the people, by their own free choice, should give him. He was descended, it is true, from Edward III., through John of Gaunt, but from the offspring of not only an illicit, but an adulterous connection. When the natural children of John of Gaunt, therefore, were legitimatised by Act of Parliament, that Act expressly declared them incapable of inheriting the crown. Still more, the true hereditary claim lay in the house of York; and had that line been totally extinct, and had the bar against his line not existed, the royal house of Portugal at least had a superior title in point of descent from John of Gaunt. Further still, he stood attainted as a traitor by Act of Parliament, and could not, therefore, assert a Parliamentary right. Yet, as we have said, for years public expectation, overlooking the claims of all others of both the contending lines, had turned towards him, as the individual destined by Providence to put an end to the sanguinary broils of York and Lancaster, and unite them in peace.

The only son of the late Duke of Clarence, who, next to the children of Edward IV., was the heir apparent of the line of York, had been confined by his uncle, Richard III., in the castle of Sheriff Hutton, in Yorkshire. Richard had at first treated this poor boy with kindness; he had created him Earl of Warwick, the title of his illustrious grandfather, the king-maker. On the death of his own son, he had at first proposed to nominate him his heir; but, fearing that he might be too dangerous a competitor, he had omitted that favour, and conferred it on the Earl of Lincoln, John de la Pole, the son of his sister the Duchess of Suffolk, and therefore nephew both of himself and Edward IV. Henry, the very first day after the battle of Bosworth, despatched Sir Robert Willoughby to take the young earl from Sheriff Hutton, and convey him to the Tower of London. Henry then put himself at the head of his victorious troops, and commenced his march towards the capital. Everywhere he was received, not as a conqueror, but a deliverer.

He arrived safely at Kennington, and after dining with Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, he proceeded with a splendid attendance of lords, both spiritual and temporal, towards the city. The nobles, imitating the absurd custom of France, rode two together on one horse, to show how completely the rival parties had amalgamated, and in this ridiculous style they passed through the city to the Tower, where Henry for the present took up his residence. On the 30th of October he was crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he immediately appointed a body-guard of fifty archers to attend upon him. This was an indication of distrust in his subjects or of the state of a conqueror, which astonished and dismayed the public; but Henry assured them that it was merely the state which, on the Continent, was now deemed essential to a king.

The Parliament assembled on the 7th of November, to settle the new order of things. Before proceeding to business they found themselves in a great dilemma. No less than 107 of the members were persons attainted during the last two reigns, and were therefore disqualified for acting. They were the most zealous partisans of the house of Lancaster, and immediate application was made to the judges for their decision on this new and singular case. They came to the conclusion that the attainted members could not take their seats till their attainders were reversed, and a bill was passed by the remaining members accordingly.

When Henry met his duly qualified Parliament, he informed them that "he had come to the throne by just title of inheritance, and by the[77] sure judgment of God, who had given him the victory over his enemies in the field." In this declaration he was careful, while he asserted what was not true, to avoid what would alarm the pride and the fears of the nation. He had no just title of inheritance, as we have shown, and he dared not use the words "right of conquest," for such right was held to imply a lapse of all the lands in the nation to the Crown, since they had been held of the prince who had been conquered. Lest he had, even in speaking of victory, gone too far, he immediately added, that "every man should continue to enjoy his rights and hereditaments, except such persons as in the present Parliament should be punished for their offences against his royal majesty."


Another claim to the crown, which Henry was still more careful to ignore, though it was one on which he secretly placed confidence, was the right of Elizabeth of York, whom he had pledged himself to marry, and who was the undoubted owner of the throne. But as Henry would not owe his throne to his people, so he would not owe it to his wife. He therefore used every means to establish his own title to the throne before he in any way alluded to hers, or took any steps towards fulfilling his pledge of marriage. He renewed that pledge, indeed, on arriving in London, to satisfy the York party; but he proceeded to have his claims to the throne acknowledged by Parliament without any reference to hers. If he had mentioned the right of Elizabeth of York, his extreme caution suggested that he would be held to possess the throne, not by his own claims, but by hers, an idea which equally offended his pride, and alarmed him for the security of the succession in his offspring. Should Elizabeth die without children, in that case the right would die with her; and any issue of his by another marriage might be accounted intruders in the succession, and they might be removed for the next heirs of Edward IV. If she should die childless, and even before him, even his own retention of the throne might be disputed. All these points the mind of Henry saw clearly; and in a moment, and as if no such person as Elizabeth existed, and as if no pledge to marry her had helped him to his success, he procured an Act of Parliament, which provided that "the inheritance of the crown should be, rest, remain, and abide in the most royal person of the then sovereign lord, King Henry VII., and the heirs of his body lawfully coming, perpetually with the grace of God so to endure, and in none other."

But this excess of caution and this nicely balanced policy had not been carried through without alarming all parties, and greatly disgusting that of York. The whole country looked to the union of the houses by the marriage of Henry and Elizabeth as the only means of putting an end to the civil wars which had so long rent the nation. Still Henry, though now securely seated on the throne, evinced no haste to fulfil his pledge of placing Elizabeth of York upon it. It was not, therefore, till the feeling of the public became strongly manifested at his neglect of the princess, and till the Commons presented him a petition praying him "to take to wife the Princess Elizabeth, which marriage they hoped God would bless[78] with a progeny of the race of kings;" and till the Lords, spiritual and temporal, had testified their participation in this wish, by rising simultaneously and bowing as it was uttered, that Henry consented to the celebration of the marriage.

The marriage took place on the 18th of January, 1486, and the rejoicings in London, Westminster, and other cities were of the most lively kind. They were heartfelt, for now all parties concluded that there was hope of peace and comfort. They were far more ardent than at the king's accession or coronation, and the mean-souled monarch saw it with sullen displeasure, for it seemed to imply that though he had taken such pains to place foremost his right to the throne, the people recognised, spontaneously, the superior title of the house of York, and that of his beautiful, and by him superciliously treated wife. Lord Bacon, who is the great historian of this period, and who may be supposed to be sufficiently informed, does not hesitate to add that the manifest affection of the people for the queen produced in him towards her additional coldness and dislike.

Henry, before dismissing his Parliament, conferred favours and promotions on many of his friends. The two persons, however, whose counsels and administrative services he chiefly valued, were Bishops Morton and Fox, the latter of whom he raised to the see of Exeter. They had shared in all his adversities, and were now admitted to participate in his high fortune. Morton was, on the death of Bourchier, made Primate of England; and Fox was entrusted with the Privy Seal, and successively made Bishop of Bath and Wells, Durham, and finally, Winchester. These two able prelates were Henry's ministers and constant advisers. "He loved," says the historian of the time, "to have a convenient number of right grave and wise priests to be of his council; because," adds Bacon, "having rich bishoprics to bestow, it was easy to reward their services."

Having dismissed his Parliament, and left all in order, Henry set out on a progress through the kingdom. The people of the northern counties had been the most devoted to Richard, and he sought, by spending some time amongst them, to remove their prejudices and attach them to his interests. He had advanced as far as Lincoln, and was there keeping his Easter, on the 2nd day of April, when he learned that Lord Lovel, formerly chamberlain to Richard, with Humphrey and Thomas Stafford, had left the sanctuary at Colchester, and were gone with dangerous intentions, no man knew whither. The news did not seem to give him much concern, and he proceeded towards York. At Nottingham, more pressing and alarming intelligence reached him, that Lord Lovel was advancing towards York with 4,000 men, and that the two Staffords were besieging Worcester with another army.

At Nottingham, Henry received an embassy from the King of the Scots; and despatching his uncle, the Duke of Bedford, with about 3,000 men in pursuit of Lord Lovel, on the 6th of April he quitted Northampton in the same direction. At Pontefract he was met, on the 17th, by the news that Lovel had passed him on the road, had raised a force in the neighbourhood of Ripon and Middleham, and was preparing to surprise him on his entrance into York. Henry's courage did not fail him; he was now surrounded by most of the northern and southern nobility, who had brought up considerable forces. But the man who always trusted more to his shrewd knowledge of human nature than to arms, now hit on a means of dispersing the insurgent army without a blow. He sent on his uncle, Jasper of Bedford, to offer a free pardon to all who would desert Lovel's standard, and the whole host dispersed as by magic. It was, in fact, the magic of the right incentive applied at the right moment. Lovel, who was as much affected by the proclamation of pardon as his followers—for it instantly struck him with the fear of universal desertion—fled at once to the house of his friend, Sir Thomas Broughton, in Lancashire; and, after lying concealed there some days, contrived to escape to the court of the Duchess of Burgundy, in Flanders. Some of his followers, as it would seem, in defiance of the king's offer of pardon, were seized and executed by the Earl of Northumberland.

On the 30th of September the queen was prematurely delivered of a son, who, however, was pronounced a strong and healthy child, and was christened by the name of Arthur, after Prince Arthur of the ancient Britons, from whom Henry pretended to derive his descent. But the birth of an heir-apparent tried too severely the temper of the numerous malcontents who still existed. Though Henry had put himself to much trouble, and to some cost, to win over the people of the northern counties, his conduct in general had not been such as to conciliate the enemies of the Lancastrian line.

However, the Yorkist party, though roused to disturb the quiet of the king, prepared their measures of annoyance with a lack of acumen which was more likely to irritate than overturn.[79] Perhaps they did not want to dethrone him, because that would overturn also the head, and most popular representative of their own party—Elizabeth; especially as she was now the mother of a legitimate prince, capable of uniting all interests. Perhaps they wished rather to show the cold and unforgiving monarch that he was more at their mercy than he supposed, and that they could embitter, if they did not proceed to terminate, his reign. Such, in fact, whether this was their purpose or not, were the character and tendency of the plots and impostures which, for so many years, kept Henry in disquiet and anxiety.

The first attempt was to bring forward a youth as the Earl of Warwick, the son of Clarence, whom Henry was keeping confined in the Tower. So little depth was there in this plot, that at first it was evidently the plan to bring the impostor forward as the Duke of York, the younger of the two princes supposed to be murdered in the Tower. It was given out that though his elder brother had been murdered, the younger had been allowed to escape. Had this story been adhered to, and well acted, it might have raised a most formidable rebellion; but, for some unknown reason, it was as speedily abandoned as adopted, and the Earl of Warwick pitched upon as the preferable impersonation. Nothing, however, could be more absurd, for the true earl being really alive, Henry could at any moment bring him forward.

Towards the close of the year 1486, there appeared at the castle of Dublin a priest of Oxford named Richard Simon, attended by a boy of about fifteen years of age. The boy was of a peculiarly handsome and interesting appearance; and Simon, who was a total stranger in Ireland, presented him to the lord-deputy, the Earl of Kildare, as Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick, who, he represented, had fortunately escaped from his dungeon in the Tower of London, and had come to throw himself under the protection of the earl and his friends. Thomas Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, was a zealous Yorkist; his brother was chancellor, and almost all the bishops and officers in the Irish Government had been appointed by Edward IV. or Richard. It is most likely that the lord-deputy and the party were already cognisant of the whole scheme of this agitation; for it is neither likely that Simon the priest should have originated so daring and arduous an enterprise as that of presenting a new claimant for the throne in opposition to the astute and determined Henry Tudor, nor that he should have so particularly singled out Ireland as the opening ground of his operations, and the lord-deputy as his patron and coadjutor. What sufficiently proved this was, that simultaneously the Earl of Lincoln, of whom we have lately made mention, son to the eldest sister of the two late kings, had disappeared from England and gone over to his aunt Margaret, Duchess-Dowager of Burgundy, Henry's most inveterate enemy. This satisfied the king that the plot which showed itself in Ireland was produced in England, and was fomented by the Yorkist party at large. It was soon found that Simon had been diligently instructing the young pretender, whose name was Lambert Simnel, before he produced him in public, in all the arcana of the character he had to support.

The loyalty of the lord-deputy had been already questionable. Henry had sent him a summons to attend in London, but he evaded that by a petition from the spiritual and temporal peers of Ireland, stating strongly the absolute necessity of his presence there. No sooner did Simon present his protégé to Kildare, than that nobleman received him without any apparent reluctance to put faith in his story.

When Henry received this news, he hastened to do what he ought to have done long before. He took the Earl of Warwick out of the Tower, conducted him publicly to St. Paul's, so that all might see him, and all who desired it were allowed to approach him, and converse with him. The nobility and gentry were personally introduced to him, and the king then took him with him to Sheen, where he held his court, and gave familiar access to all those who had seen or known him before. By this politic act he completely satisfied the people of England, who laughed at the impostor in Ireland; but the Irish, on the contrary, declared that Henry's Warwick was the impostor, and theirs the real one. To consult on the best measures for defeating this plot, Henry called a great council at Sheen; but at its breaking up, the public were thrown into still greater surprise and perplexity by the king, who, instead of offering to crown the queen, seized her mother, the queen-dowager, confiscated her property, and consigned her to the custody of the monks of Bermondsey. The reason assigned was, that the queen-dowager, in the last reign, had promised her daughter to Henry, and then put her into the hands of Richard. Such a reason, if really put forward, was a simple absurdity, because since then Elizabeth Woodville had been living at court as the queen-mother, in all public honour. The real cause was presumably connected with the business in hand—the Simnel[80] conspiracy. This is the opinion of Lord Bacon, who, living a hundred years later, nevertheless had access to sources of information not available to the modern student, though his authority may easily be overrated. Speaking of Simon, he says:—"It cannot be but that some great person, that knew particularly and familiarly Edward Plantagenet, had a hand in the business, from whom the priest might take his aim. That which is most probable out of the preceding and subsequent acts is, that it was the queen-dowager from whom this action had the principal source and motion; for certain it is that she was a busy, negotiating woman, and in her withdrawing-chamber had the fortunate conspiracy for the king against Richard III. been hatched, which the king knew, and remembered, perhaps, but too well; and was at this time extremely discontented with the king, thinking her daughter—as the king handled the matter—not advanced but depressed; and none could hold the book so well to prompt and instruct this stage play as she could."


But the most formidable and unwearied enemy of Henry VII. was Margaret, the Dowager-Duchess of Burgundy. As the sister of Edward IV. and of Richard, no circumstance could induce her to tolerate Henry Tudor, in her eyes a low-born man, who had thrust the Yorkist line from the throne. To her Lord Lovel had fled, and to her also fled the Earl of Lincoln. To her the Irish party sent emissaries for aid; and she despatched 2,000 veteran German troops, under a brave and experienced general, Martin Schwarz, accompanied by the Earl of Lincoln.

The moment that Henry Tudor learned the flight of the Earl of Lincoln, he set out on a progress through the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk, in which the chief interest of the earl lay. He was at Kenilworth when news was brought him that the Earl of Lincoln and Lord[81] Lovel had landed with the pretended Edward VI., supported by Martin Schwarz and his German legion, at the pile of Foudray, an old keep in the southern extremity of Furness. Henry advanced by Coventry and Leicester to Nottingham; Lincoln had already approached Newark. The royal army advancing to oppose the whole force lost its way between Nottingham and Newark, and there was such confusion in consequence, and such rumours of the enemy being upon them, that numbers deserted. But five guides were procured from Ratcliff-on-Trent, and soon afterwards the vanguard of Henry's army, led by the Earl of Oxford, encountered the forces of Lincoln at Stoke, a village near Newark. The battle lasted for three hours, and was obstinately contested. The veteran Germans, under Schwarz, fought till they were exterminated almost to a man. The Irish displayed not the less valour; but, being only armed with darts and skeans—for the English settlers had adopted the arms of the natives—were no match for the royal cavalry. The whole of the troops of the insurgents, expecting no mercy if they were taken, seemed prepared to perish rather than to yield. Four thousand of the insurgents and 2,000 of the king's best troops are said to have fallen in this desperate engagement; but nearly all the leaders of the rebel army, the Earl of Lincoln, Sir Thomas Broughton, the brave Schwarz, and the Lords Thomas and Maurice Fitzgerald, having fallen, the victory on Henry's part became complete.


The pretender Lambert Simnel and the priest Simon were captured by Sir Robert Bellingham, one of the king's esquires; but nothing was seen of Lord Lovel. He was believed to have escaped, but no traces of him were discoverable; many thought that he had perished in attempting to swim his horse across the Trent. But nearly two centuries afterwards a subterranean chamber was discovered accidentally by some workmen at Minster Lovel, in Oxfordshire, the ancient seat of his family. In this chamber was seated a skeleton in a chair, with its head resting on a table; and this was supposed to be the remains of this same Lord Lovel, who had reached his house, and secreted himself in this apartment, where he had perished by some unknown cause.


After the battle, Henry travelled northward to ascertain that all was secure in the tract through which the insurgents had passed, and to punish such as had aided the rebels, and those who just before the battle had spread the rumour of his defeat. The royal punishments did not consist in putting his enemies to death, but in fining them severely, for Henry Tudor much preferred making a profit of a man to killing him. The late insurrection had taught him that if he did not wish for a repetition of it, he must concede something to the Yorkist party, and must pay some respect to the queen. Accordingly, on the 25th of November, 1487, Elizabeth was crowned with much state at Westminster.

Having thus made this amende to public opinion, Henry, instead of giving Simnel consequence by putting him to death, or making a State prisoner of him in the Tower, turned him into his kitchen as a scullion, thus showing his contempt of him. "He would not take his life," says Lord Bacon, "taking him but as an image of wax that others had tempered and moulded;" and considering that if he was made a continual spectacle, he would be "a kind of remedy against the like enchantments of people in time to come." The priest Simon he shut up in a secret prison, saying he was but a tool, and did not know the depths of the plot. He even professed to regret the death of the Earl of Lincoln, who, had his life been spared, he said, "might have revealed to him the bottom of his danger." In his peculiar way he threw much mystery over the matter, for mystery was one of his greatest pleasures.

Having settled these matters, which he did on his own authority, Henry summoned a Parliament to grant him supplies, and to increase those supplies by bill of attainder against all those who had been engaged in the late conspiracy. To prevent similar risings, he demanded that the law should be rigorously put in force against the practice of maintenance. This maintenance was the association of numbers of persons under a particular chief or nobleman, whose badge or livery they wore, and to whom they were bound by oath to support him in his private quarrels against other noblemen. But the instrument was too convenient not to be turned on occasion against the Crown, whenever rich chiefs took up the opposite party, and by this means it was that such numbers of troops could be brought at the shortest notice into the field against the monarch. Various laws had been passed on this subject, and heavy penalties decreed; but now it was ordained that, instead of calling such offenders before the royal council, as had been the custom, a particular Court should be established for the purpose. The chancellor, the treasurer, the keeper of the privy seal, or two of them, one bishop, one lay peer, and the judges of the King's Bench and Common Pleas, were empowered to summon all such persons before them, and to punish the guilty just as if they had been convicted by ordinary course of law. This was the origin of what came to be called the Court of the Star Chamber, from the walls or ceiling of the room where it met being decorated with stars.

The affairs on the Continent were now in a state which demanded the most serious attention, but which were by no means likely to be settled to the honour of the country by a monarch of the penurious character of Henry VII. If ever a monarch was bound by gratitude to succour another prince, it was Henry VII. He had been protected in Brittany from all the attempts of the Yorkist monarch for years. The Duke Francis, who had been his host and friend during his long exile, was now growing old. He appears never to have been of a very vigorous mind, and now mind and body were failing together. He had two daughters, and the hope of securing the patrimony of the eldest, Anne, drew the attention of many suitors, the chief of whom were Maximilian, King of the Romans; the Duke of Orleans, the first prince of the blood in France; and the Count D'Albret, a powerful chieftain, at the foot of the Pyrenees. But hostile alike to all these wooers was Charles VIII. of France, who, though he was under engagement to marry the daughter of Maximilian, and therefore apparently debarred from the hand of Anne of Brittany, was resolved, if possible, to secure her territory. In this dilemma, Francis sent repeated importunate entreaties to Henry to come to his rescue. France, at the same time, sent to him, praying him to be neutral, alleging that Charles was only seeking to drive his revolted subjects out of Brittany. Henry was bound by honour to give prompt succour to his old friend; he had received from Parliament two-fifteenths for the purpose, and was urged by it to send efficient aid to prevent France from seizing this important province. But Henry could not find it in his heart to spend the money in active service; he proposed to mediate between the parties. This suited the views of France exactly, because while Henry was negotiating they could continue to press on their victories. The poor Duke Francis was compelled to submit to a treaty, in August, at Verger, by which he surrendered to the French all[83] the territory they had conquered, and was bound never again to call in assistance from England or any other country, nor to marry either of his daughters without the consent of the King of France. Having signed this humiliating treaty, the duke died of a broken heart, on the 7th of September, 1488, only three weeks afterwards.

The people of England received these tidings with undisguised indignation. Twice had they voted large sums to enable their ungrateful and pusillanimous king to aid his old benefactor and the ally of England; twice had he put the money in his coffers, and sold the honour of the country and the fortunes of the unfortunate ally to the French, wholly insensible to honour or shame. But whilst the public were foaming in wrath over this despicable conduct, the indefatigable French were pressing on. Anne, the young orphan duchess, was a mere child of only twelve years of age. Around her were contending rivals and their adherents. But all this time the French were seizing town after town. The news of this awoke such a fermentation in England, and Henry was upbraided in such vehement terms for thus, as the sovereign of a great people, sacrificing the honour of the nation, and permitting the helpless orphan of his benefactor to become the prey of France, that he was compelled to rouse himself. He determined to send ambassadors to Maximilian, to his son, the Archduke Philip, to the Kings of Spain and Portugal, inviting them to act in concert with him for the repression of French ambition. Having taken this magnanimous, and, if it had really been intended to follow it up vigorously, most admirable step, Henry called a Parliament, and demanded more money to carry on the war.

The pretences of this huckstering king were now become too transparent to deceive any one. All the money hitherto voted for a war that never took place was still in Henry's coffers. The people thought that he ought first to bring out that before he asked for more. Parliament, therefore, made strong opposition, and finally reduced his demand of £100,000 to £75,000. But, when they had voted, the indignant people refused to pay it, considering that the selfish monarch had their cash already in hand. Great disturbances arose in the endeavour to enforce the collection of the tax. This manifested itself especially in the north, where Henry had used such endeavours to soothe and win the inhabitants.

The Earl of Northumberland directed the collection to be enforced, accompanying the command with such menaces as he deemed necessary to procure obedience. But these had a contrary effect. The people flew to arms, and, turning their vengeance first against the earl, as the rigorous instrument of an imperious monarch, they stormed his house and put him to death. They then declared war against the tyrant, as they termed Henry, himself. Their leader was a fiery fellow of the common order, named John à Chambre, but, as they assumed a formidable aspect, Sir John Egremont, one of the Yorkist faction, put himself at their head. Henry lost no time in despatching Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, who soon suppressed the insurrection, and hanged John à Chambre and some of his accomplices. Sir John Egremont escaped to Flanders to the Duchess of Burgundy.

Henry now sent over to Brittany a body of 6,000 men under Lord Willoughby de Broke; but he limited their service to six months, which was, in fact, to render them nearly useless, especially when they had instructions not to fight, and he would not even afford that aid until he had exacted from the poor orphan girl, the young duchess, the surrender of her two best sea-ports in security of payment. He moreover compelled the duchess to bind herself by the like oath to him as she had taken to the French king, not to marry without his consent. Before the end of the year Anne found herself invested by the French army in Rennes; and rather than fall a helpless and humiliated captive into the hands of Charles, she consented to marry him, having not a single soul left to stand by her in her resolute opposition. She was married to Charles on the 13th of December, 1491, at Rennes, was crowned in the abbey church of St. Denis, and made her entrance into Paris amid the acclamations of a vast multitude, who regarded this event as one of the most auspicious which had ever happened to France.

The rage of Maximilian may be imagined. He had lost Brittany, his daughter had lost the throne of France, and he was duped and insulted in the most egregious manner before all Europe. He made his complaints ring far and wide, but they were only echoed by the laughter of his enemies, and he proceeded to vow revenge by the assistance of Spain and England.

Henry was now bent, according to all appearance, on war. He was too clear-sighted not to perceive the immense advantage France had obtained over him in securing Brittany, and how the political foresight and sagacity on which he prided himself had suffered from the paltry promptings of his[84] avarice. He therefore put on a most belligerent attitude. He summoned a Parliament at Westminster, and addressed it in the most heroic strain. He commented on the insolence of France, elated with the success of her late perfidy, and on—what he no doubt felt more deeply than anything else—her refusal to pay what he called the tribute agreed by Louis XI. to be paid to Edward IV., and hitherto continued to himself. Two-fifteenths were at once granted him, and the nobility were on fire with the anticipation of realising all the glories and the plunder of the past ages.

He availed himself of the paroxysm of the moment, not only to gather in and garner the two-fifteenths newly granted, but the remains of the benevolence voted last session. Whilst the fresh tax fell on the nation generally, this fell on the monied and commercial capitalists. London alone furnished £10,000 of it or £100,000 of our money. The wily old archbishop, Morton, instructed the commissioners to employ this dilemma, which was called "Morton's fork." They were to urge upon people who lived in a modest and careful way, that they must be rich in consequence of their parsimony; on those who indulged in expensive abodes and styles of living, that they must be opulent, because they had so much to expend. To afford ample time for harvesting these riches, Henry found perpetual causes for delaying his expedition. The nobles were already crowding to his standard with their vassals, and impatient to set out, but Henry had always some plausible excuse for lingering. At one time it was the unsafe state of Scotland, and four months were occupied in negotiating an extension of the truce; then it was the necessity of contracting for fresh levies of troops. These troops, however, were ready in June and July, but still they were not allowed to move. "The truth was," says Bacon, "that though the king showed great forwardness for a war, not only to his Parliament and Court, but to his Privy Council, except the two bishops (Fox and Morton), and a few more, yet, nevertheless, in his secret intentions, he had no purpose to go through with any war upon France. But the truth was, that he did but traffic with that war to make money."

At length, in the beginning of October, 1492, he landed at Calais, with a fine army of 25,000 foot, and 1,600 horse, which he gave in command to the Duke of Bedford and the Earl of Oxford. This was a force capable of striking an alarming blow, but the whole affair was a sham. In fact, Henry had entered into a treaty of peace before he had set out, and the only difficulty now was how to get out of the war without incurring too much resentment at home. To guard against this, the odium of the abortive expedient must be carefully removed from himself to other parties. The machinery for this was already prepared. His ambassadors appeared in the camp at Boulogne, informing them that their visit to his previous ally Maximilian had been useless; he was incapable of joining him. These were followed by others from Spain, bringing the intelligence that Ferdinand had concluded a peace with France, Roussillon and Cerdagne being ceded to him by Charles. But with Henry's fine army, and the defenceless state of France, the defection of these allies, from whom little or nothing had been expected, would have scarcely cost him a thought had he been a Henry V. As it was, after all his boasts, it was not even for him to propose an abandonment of the enterprise, and therefore, the Marquis of Dorset and twenty-three other persons of distinction were employed to present to him a request that he would also make a peace with France. They urged, as they were instructed for this purpose, the defection of these allies, the approach of winter, the difficulty of obtaining supplies at Calais at that season, and the obstinacy of the siege of Boulogne. All these were circumstances that had been foreseen from the first, and treated with indifference, as they deserved to be; but now Henry affected to listen to the desires of his army, and sent off the Bishop of Exeter and the Lord Daubeney to confer with the Marshal de Cordes, who had been sent as plenipotentiary on the part of Charles to Étaples. They soon returned, bringing the rough draft of a treaty, by which peace and amity were to be maintained betwixt the two sovereigns during their lives, and a year afterwards. Even this Henry affected to decline, and only consented to give way at the earnest entreaty of his already-mentioned four-and-twenty officers.

After having thus assumed all this pretence to exonerate himself from censure, Henry signed a peace on the following terms:—Charles was to retain Brittany for ever, and he was to pay Henry 620,000 crowns in gold for the money advanced by Henry on account of Brittany and his present expenses, and 125,000 crowns in gold as arrears of the pension paid to Edward IV. by Louis XI. He was also to continue this pension of 25,000 crowns to Henry and his heirs. The whole amount which Henry sacked was 745,000 crowns, equal to £400,000 of our present money. The members of his council, who openly acted the part of petitioners of this peace, are said not only to have[85] been instructed by Henry to perform this obnoxious duty, but to have been gained by the bribes of the French king, who was anxious to make short work of it, that he might proceed on an expedition which he had set his mind upon against Naples. They went about declaring that it was the most glorious peace that any king of England ever made with France, and that if Henry's subjects presumed to censure it, they were ready to take the blame upon themselves.



Having used these precautions to ward off the reproaches of his subjects, Henry ratified the peace on the 6th of November, and led back his army to England. There, though he had the money safely in his chests, the disappointment and indignation of the people were extreme, and tended to diminish his sordid satisfaction. The people protested that he had been trading on the honour of the nation, and had sold its interests and reputation for his own vile gain, and his enemies did not neglect to avail themselves of his unpopularity. During the past year, a young man had landed in Cork, of a singularly fascinating exterior and insinuating address. He represented himself to be no other than the Duke of York, the younger of the two princes who were supposed to have been murdered in the Tower. He was a fine young man, apparently exactly of the age of the Duke of York, and bearing a striking likeness to Edward IV. "Such a mercurial," says Bacon, "as the like hath seldom been known; and he had such a crafty and bewitching fashion, both to move pity and induce belief, as was like a kind of fascination or enchantment." What would appear to have been the real story of this remarkable pretender, so far as we can gather from the records of the time, is this:—

Margaret, the Duchess-Dowager of Burgundy, having played off Lambert Simnel, devised this scheme, or was supplied with it by the Yorkist refugees at her Court, who had immediate and constant communion with the heads of the York faction in England. A young man was industriously sought after who should well represent the Duke of York, though she knew him to be dead. Such a youth was found in the son, or reputed son, of one John Osbeck, or Warbeck, a renegade Jew of Tournay. This Warbeck had lived and carried on business in the time of Edward IV., and had dealings with the king, who was so free with him that the Jew prevailed on him to become godfather to his child, who was called Peter, and whose name became converted into the diminutive Peterkin or Perkin. Others assert that Warbeck's wife had been amongst the numerous favourites of Edward, and that this Perkin was really his son—whence the striking resemblance, the cleverness and liveliness of his character. Warbeck had returned to Flanders, and there, in course of time, his son had attracted the attention of the Yorkist conspirators as the very youth, in all respects, for their purpose. He was introduced to the duchess, who found him already familiar with the whole story of Edward's Court from the past affairs and position there of his parents.



The scheme being now matured and the chief actor ready, they only waited for the true moment for his appearance. That came in the prospect of[86] Henry being involved in war with France. As soon as this seemed inevitable, the pretended Duke of York landed in Ireland. The York faction was still strong in that country, and, despite the failure of the former pretender, Simnel, the Irish were ready, to a certain extent, to embrace another claimant of Henry's crown. He landed at Cork, where the mayor and others of that city received him as the true Richard Plantagenet, as, no doubt, they had previously agreed to do. Many of the credulous people flocked after him, but the more prudent stood aloof. He wrote to the Earls of Desmond and Kildare, inviting them to join his standard, but those powerful noblemen kept a cautious distance. Kildare had been disgraced by Henry for his reception of Simnel, and dreaded his more deadly vengeance in case of a second failure. But Warbeck, undismayed, spread everywhere the exciting story of his escape from the cruelty of his uncle Richard, and was gradually making an impression on the imaginative mind of Ireland, when a summons came to a new scene.

Charles VIII. of France was now menaced by Henry with invasion. He knew the man too well to doubt the real object of his menace, and the power of money to avert it, but it was of consequence to reduce the bribe as much as possible; and every instrument which promised to assist in effecting that was most valuable. Such an instrument was this self-styled Duke of York, who had suddenly appeared in Ireland. The watchful Duchess of Burgundy is said to have adroitly turned Charles's attention to this mysterious individual through the agency of one Frion, a man who had been a Secretary of Henry, but who had been won over by his enemies. Charles caught at the idea; an invitation was instantly despatched to Perkin Warbeck to hasten to the French Court, where he was "to hear of something to his advantage," and he was received by the king as the undoubted Duke of York and true monarch of England. Perkin's person, talents, and address, being worthy of a real prince, won him the admiration of all who approached him; and not only the Court and capital, but the whole of France, soon rang with praise of the accomplishments, the adventures, and the unmerited misfortunes of this last of the Plantagenets. The king settled upon him a princely income; a magnificent abode was assigned him, and a body-guard befitting a royal personage was conferred upon him, of which the Lord of Concressault was made captain.

The news of this cordial reception of the reputed Duke of York by the French Court flew to England, and Sir George Neville, Sir John Taylor, and above a hundred gentlemen hastened to Paris, and offered to him their devoted services. This decided and rapidly-growing demonstration had the effect which Charles contemplated. Henry was greatly alarmed, and hastened to close the negotiations for peace. These once signed, the puppet had done its work in France. Henry made earnest demands to have Warbeck handed over to him, but Charles, who, no doubt, was bound by agreement with the Duchess of Burgundy to refuse any such surrender, declared that to do so would be contrary to his honour; but he gave the pretender a hint to quit the kingdom, and he retired to the Court of Burgundy.

The duchess now heaped on Perkin all the marks of affection and the honours which she would have deemed due to her own nephew. She ordered every one to give him the homage belonging to a real king; she appointed him a guard of thirty halberdiers, and styled him the "White Rose of England." On all occasions her conduct towards him was that of an affectionate aunt, who regarded him as the head of her family, and the heir of the brightest crown in Europe.

It is not to be supposed that the tempest which was gathering around Henry had escaped his attention. On the contrary, he was aware of all that was passing, and with the caution and concealment of his character, he was at work to counteract the operations of his enemies. The first object with him was to convince the public that the real Duke of York had perished at the same time as his brother, Edward V. Nothing, he concluded, would be so effectual for this purpose as the evidence of those who had always been held to be concerned in the death of the young princes. Of five implicated, according to universal belief, two only now survived, namely, Sir James Tyrell—who had taken the place of Sir Robert Brackenbury, Lieutenant of the Tower, during the night of the murder—and John Dighton, one of the actual assassins. These two were secured and interrogated, and their evidence was precisely that which we have stated when relating the murder of the princes. The bodies, therefore, were sought for, but as the chaplain was dead who was supposed to have witnessed their removal, according to the order of Richard III., they could not then be found and produced. The testimony of Tyrell and Dighton, however, was published and circulated as widely as possible, and these two miscreants, after their full and frank avowal of the perpetration of this diabolical murder, were, to the disgrace of the[87] king and of public justice, again allowed to go free. Everyone, however, must perceive at once how important it was to Henry that the real witnesses of that murder should exist, and be forthcoming to confound any one pretending to be either of these princes.

Henry next applied to the Archduke Philip, the son of Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy, and now sovereign of the Netherlands in his own right, to deliver up to him the impostor, Warbeck, who, he contended, was entertained in his dominions contrary to the existing treaties, and the amity betwixt the two sovereigns. But Margaret had the influence to render his application abortive. Philip professed to have every desire to oblige his great ally, Henry of England, but he pleaded that Margaret was sole ruler in her own states, and, though he might advise her in this matter, he could not control her. Henry resented the polite evasion by stopping all commercial intercourse between England and the Low Countries, by banishing all Flemings from his dominions, and recalling his own subjects from Flanders; and Philip retaliated by issuing similar edicts.

In 1494, several Yorkist lords were arrested and executed, but there remained a conspirator far higher than any who had yet been unveiled—a conspirator where it was least expected, in the immediate vicinity of the throne, and in the person who more than all others, perhaps, had contributed to place Henry upon it. His name stood in the secret list of traitors furnished by spies, but he had been left for a more striking and dramatic discovery, for a dénouement calculated to produce the most startling and profound impression.

After the festivities of Christmas the king took up his residence in the Tower, where he held his council on the 7th of January, 1495. If there was one man more distinguished than another by the royal favour in that august circle, he was Stanley, Lord Chamberlain. Sir William Stanley had burst upon Richard III. at Bosworth Field, at the critical moment, slain his standard-bearer, and, by his followers, killed the tyrant. His brother, Lord Stanley, had put the crown of the fallen monarch on Henry's head. For this he had been created Earl of Derby, and had been allowed to ally himself to the throne by the marriage of Henry's mother, the Countess of Richmond. Sir William had been made Lord Chamberlain, and both brothers had been glutted, as it were, with the wealth and estates of proscribed families. There were no men—not even Fox and Morton—who were supposed to stand so high, not merely in the favour, but in the friendship of Henry. He was suddenly arrested at the council chamber and executed, his vast wealth passing to the Crown.

The fall of Stanley was a paralysing blow to the partisans of Warbeck. They saw that even that great nobleman, while apparently living in the very centre and blaze of royal favour, had been surrounded by spies who watched all his actions, heard his most secret communications, and carried them all to the king. No man who was in any degree implicated felt himself safe. Henry's cautious and severe temper, while it made him hated, made him proportionately feared. Assured by the success which had attended all his measures, Henry every day displayed more and more the grasping avarice of his disposition, and accusations and heavy fines fell thickly around. He fined Sir William Capel, Alderman of London, for some offence, £2,743; and, though he failed to secure the whole, he obtained £1,615. Encouraged by this, he repeated the like attempts; and, while he depressed the nobility, he especially countenanced unprincipled lawyers, as the ready tools of his rapacity. Whilst this conduct, however, kept alive the rancour of many influential people, it rendered the common people passive; for they escaped the oppressions of many petty tyrants, who were kept in check by the one great one. Warbeck's party, therefore, was much disabled. It was now three years since he made his appearance, but, with the exception of his brief visit to Ireland, he had attempted nothing in Henry's dominions. But the Flemings, who were smarting under the restrictions put upon their trade with England, began to murmur loudly, and the Archduke Philip to remonstrate warmly with Margaret on account of the countenance given to the English insurgents.

Under these circumstances it was necessary for Warbeck and his adherents to make an effort of some kind. Taking advantage, therefore, of the absence of Henry on a visit to his mother at Latham House, in Lancashire, Warbeck and a few hundred followers made a descent in July on the coast of Kent, near Deal. It was hoped that Henry's severity would have made numbers ready to join them. The people, indeed, assembled under the guidance of some gentlemen of property, and, professing to favour Warbeck, invited him to come on shore. But he, or those about him, observing that the forces collected had nothing of that tumultuous impetuosity about them which usually characterises insurgents in earnest, kept aloof, and the men of Kent perceiving that they could not draw Warbeck[88] into the snare, fell on his followers already on land, and, besides killing many of them, took 169 prisoners. The rest managed to get on board again, and Warbeck, seeing what sort of a reception England gave him, sailed back with all speed to Flanders. The prisoners were tied together like teams of cattle, and driven to London, where they were all condemned and executed to a man, in various places, some at London and Wapping, some on the coasts of Kent, Sussex, Essex, and Norfolk, where they were gibbeted, as a warning to any fresh adventurers who might appear on those shores.

Flanders was now become no durable place of sojourn for Perkin and his party. The Flemings would no longer submit to the interruption of their trade; and the archduke entered into a treaty with Henry, which contained a stipulation that Philip should restrain the Duchess Margaret from harbouring any of the king's enemies, and that the two princes should expel from their territories all the enemies of each other. This treaty was ratified on the 24th of February, 1496, and thereupon Warbeck betook himself to Ireland. But there he found a sensible change had taken place since his former visit. The king had sent over Sir Edward Poynings as lord-deputy, who had taken such measures that the people were much satisfied. On landing at Cork, therefore, the Irish refused to recognise their late idol, and from Cork he sailed away to Scotland. There a new and surprising turn of fortune awaited him. For a long time his interest had been on the decline. In Flanders the public had grown weary of him; in England they had endeavoured to entrap him; from Ireland they had repulsed him. He is said to have presented letters of recommendation from Charles VIII. of France, and from his great patroness the Duchess-Dowager of Burgundy; and James IV. of Scotland received him with open arms.

James IV. of Scotland was a brave, generous, and patriotic monarch. When Henry offered him his daughter Margaret, he, therefore, unceremoniously rejected the offer. The disposition which Henry was said to have shown to encourage his subjects, during the truce, to molest the Scottish merchantmen at the very mouth of the Forth, was highly resented by James, who supported his admiral—Wood of Largo—in severely chastising the pirates, and did not fail to warn Henry that such practices must not be repeated. The dislike which James entertained for the insidious character of Henry—who began that system of bribing the nobles around the throne of Scotland which was never discontinued so long as a Tudor reigned, and which ended in the destruction of Mary, Queen of Scots—was violently aggravated by a base attempt of Henry in 1490. This was no other than a scheme to seize and carry off James to England, which failed ignominiously.

In this temper of the Scottish King, nothing could come more opportunely than such a person as Perkin Warbeck. James had, from the first moment of mounting his throne, been careful to strengthen his alliances with the whole European continent. With France, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, and Flanders, his intercourse, both official and mercantile, was active and constant. Of course, James was kept in full information of all that was agitating England. With the Duchess of Burgundy, the inveterate enemy of Henry, it is clearly provable that James was in secret correspondence only five months after his accession. In 1488, even, there were busy messengers and heralds passing to and fro betwixt Flanders, Ireland, and Scotland.

From these circumstances, which are attested by the "Treasurer's Accounts," and other records of Scotland, it is manifest that James was intimately informed of everything which could be known about Warbeck. There could be no mistake made by James in his reception of that personage, when, in November, 1495, he presented himself at the palace of Stirling. Whatever James did he did with his eyes wide open and his mind fully made up. Yet from the very first he received him apparently with the most undoubting faith as to his being the true Plantagenet.

Warbeck was welcomed into Scotland with much state and rejoicing as the veritable Duke of York. James addressed him as "cousin," and celebrated tournaments and other courtly gaieties in his honour. The reputed prince, by his noble appearance, the simple dignity of his manners, and the romance of his story and supposed misfortunes, everywhere excited the highest admiration. James made a grand progress with him through his dominions, and beheld him wherever he appeared produce the most favourable impression. If James did not himself really believe Warbeck to be the Duke of York before he came to Scotland, his conduct during his abode there seems to have convinced him of it. At no time was he known to express a doubt of it, and on all occasions he spoke and acted as if morally certain of it. Nothing could be more convincing than his giving him to wife one of the most beautiful and high-born women of Scotland, Lady Catherine Gordon,[89] daughter of the Earl of Huntly, and grand-daughter of James I. James now mustered his forces for the grand expedition which he hoped would drive Henry from the throne of England, and establish there the son of Edward IV., in the person of Warbeck.

From a Photograph by G. W. Wilson & Co., Aberdeen


(From a Photograph by G. W. Wilson & Co., Aberdeen.)

Meantime, Henry VII. was diligently at work at his favourite plans of bribing and undermining. He had an active agent in Lord Bothwell, whom James had weakly forgiven for his numerous conspiracies. By his means Henry had won over the king's brothers, the Duke of Ross, the Earl of Buchan, and the Bishop of Moray. These traitors engaged to do everything in their power to defeat the expedition. The Duke of Ross promised to put himself under the protection of the King of England the moment his brother crossed the borders. Nor did the plot stop there. Again there was a scheme to seize James at night in his tent, suggested by Henry, and entered into by Bothwell, Buchan, and Wyat, an English emissary. This disgraceful plot was defeated by the vigilance of the royal guard, but not the less actively did the paid spies of Henry Tudor, including some of the most powerful barons in Scotland, labour to defeat the success of the enterprise. They accompanied the army only with the hope of betraying it, while their efforts were essentially aided by the remonstrances of more honest counsellors, who doubted the wisdom of the expedition, and did all they could to dissuade James from it.

Burning with resentment at the base and insidious attempts of Henry to disturb the security of his government, and to seize upon his person, and coveting the glory of restoring the last noble scion of a great race to the throne of his ancestors, James was deaf alike to warnings of secret treason or more public danger. He made his last muster of his forces at Ellam Kirk, near the English border and, proclaiming war on Henry, marched forward. Warbeck, as Richard Duke of York, at the same time issued a proclamation calling upon all true Englishmen to assemble beneath the banner of the true inheritor of the crown. He denounced Henry Tudor as a usurper, and as the murderer of Sir William Stanley, Sir Simon Montfort, and others of the ancient nobility; he charged him with having invaded the liberties and the[90] franchises of both Church and people; and with having plundered the subjects by heavy and illegal impositions. He pledged himself to remedy all these abuses; to restore and defend the rights and privileges of the Church, the nobles, the corporations, and the commerce and manufactures of the country. He related the dangers through which he had passed since his escape from the Tower to this moment, and he set a price of a thousand pounds in money, and land to the value of a hundred marks per annum, for the capture or destruction of Henry Tudor.

But however judiciously the proclamation was drawn up, James was confounded as he advanced to see that it produced not the slightest effect. In vain had it been protested in the proclamation that James came only as the friend of the rightful King of England; that he sought no advantage to himself—though he had really bargained for the restoration of Berwick, and was to be paid 1,000 marks for the expenses of the war—and that he would retire the moment a sufficient English force appeared in the field. No such force was likely to present itself. If Warbeck had met with no success when supported by Englishmen, it was not to be expected when followed by an army of the hereditary foes of the kingdom—Scots and French, backed by Germans, Flemings, and other foreigners.

When James saw that, instead of being welcomed as deliverers, they were avoided, and that the expedition was altogether hopeless, he gave way to his wrath, and began to plunder the country, or to permit his troops to do it. Warbeck remonstrated against the devastations committed on the English with all the ardour of a true prince, declaring that he would rather lose the throne than gain it by the sufferings of his people. But James replied that his cousin of York was too considerate of the welfare of a nation that hesitated to acknowledge him either as king or subject. All this time the diligent Bothwell was duly informing Henry of the state of the Scottish camp, and of everything said and done in it. He now assured him that the Scottish army would soon beat a retreat, for that the inhabitants, in expectation of the visit, had driven off all their cattle, and removed their stores; so that the army was on the point of starvation. This was soon verified. The Scots, finding no supporters, about the end of the year retreated into their own country.

The invasion from Scotland afforded Henry another pretext for raising more money. He summoned a Parliament in the February of 1497, to which he uttered bitter complaints of the inroad and devastations of the Scots; of the troubles created by the impostor, and the manifold insults to the crown and nation. All this was now apparently blown over; but Parliament gratified the king by voting £120,000, together with two-fifteenths. Happy in the prospect of such supplies, Henry recked little of Warbeck or the Scots; but the tax roused the especial wrath of the Cornish people, who, knowing that the king only wanted to add their money to his already immense and useless hoards, wanted to know what they had to do with inroads of the Scots, who were never likely to come near them, and who had retired of themselves without so much as waiting for the sight of an army. This excitement of the brave and industrious, but hard-living Cornish men was fanned into a flame by Michael Joseph, a farrier of Bodmin, and one Thomas Flammock, an attorney, who assured the people that the tax was totally illegal, though voted by Parliament; for that the northern counties were bound by the tenures of their estates to defend that frontier; and that if they submitted to the avarice of Henry and his ministers there would be no end to it.

Flammock told them that they must deliver the king a petition, seconded by such numbers as to give it authority; but at the same time he assured them that to procure the concurrence of the rest of the kingdom they must conduct themselves with all order, and refrain from committing any injuries to person or property, demonstrating that they had only the public good in view. Armed with bills, bows, axes, and other country weapons that they could command, they marched into Devonshire 16,000 strong, and called on the people to accompany them, and demand the heads of Archbishop Morton and Sir Reginald Bray, who were declared to be the advisers of the obnoxious impost. At Taunton they made an example of an insolent and overbearing commissioner of the tax of the name of Perin. At Wells they were joined by Lord Audley, a man of an ancient family, but said to be of a vain and ambitious character.

Proud of having a nobleman at their head, they marched through Salisbury and Winchester into Surrey, and thence to Kent, the people of which, Flammock told them, had in all ages been noted for their independence and patriotism, and were sure to join them. They pitched their camp on Blackheath, near Eltham, but not a man joined them. The people of Kent had their causes of complaint; but they had lately shown what was their spirit by repelling Perkin Warbeck, and they were too enlightened to join in the expedition.


Henry had now received the new levies raised to oppose any further motion of the Scots, and he sent them forward to attack and disperse the rebels. He always regarded Saturday as his fortunate day; therefore, on Saturday, the 22nd of June, 1497, he gave the order for the attack. He divided his forces into three divisions. The first, under Lord Daubeney, pushed forward to attack the insurgents in front; the second, under the Earl of Oxford, was to take a compass, and assail them in the rear; and the king himself took post with the third division in St. George's Fields, to secure the city. To throw the insurgents off their guard, he had given out that he should not take the field for some days; and to give probability to this notion, he did not send out his advanced forces till the latter part of the day. Lord Daubeney beat an advanced guard of the rebels from Deptford Bridge, and before the main body was prepared to receive him, he charged them with fury. Though they were brave men, and 16,000 strong, thus taken at advantage, and naturally ill-disciplined, ill-armed, and destitute of cavalry and artillery, they were soon broken and compelled to fly. Two thousand of them were slain, and 1,500 made prisoners. The prisoners Henry gave up to the captors, who allowed them to ransom themselves for a few shillings each.

Lord Audley, Flammock, and Joseph only were executed. The peer was beheaded, the commoners were hanged; and Joseph seemed to glory in the distinction, saying he should figure in history. Henry on this occasion displayed great clemency, which some have ascribed to his desire to make a good impression on the Cornish people; others for joy that Lord Daubeney had escaped, for at one time he was surrounded by the enemy but was soon rescued. But the most probable reason was that assigned by Lord Bacon:—"That the harmless behaviour of this people that came from the west of England to the east, without mischief almost, or spoil of the country, did somewhat mollify him, and move him to compassion; or, lastly, that he made a great difference between people that did rebel upon wantonness, and them that did rebel upon want."

James of Scotland seized on the opportunity created by the Cornish insurrection to make a fresh inroad into England. He laid siege to the castle of Norham, and plundered the country round. Henry despatched the Earl of Surrey, with an army of 20,000 men, to drive back the Scots, and punish them by carrying the war of devastation into their country. As Surrey advanced, James retired, and Surrey, following him across the Tweed, took and demolished the little castle of Ayton, ravaged the borders, and returned to Berwick. These useless and worse than useless raids, with no hope of permanent advantage on either side, but only of mischief to the unoffending inhabitants on both, were worthy only of the most savage and unenlightened times. The spies of Henry, however, soon informed him that James was really sick of the war, and he repeated the offer made before of the hand of his daughter Margaret. This he made through the Spanish ambassador, Don Pedro d'Ayala, who came forward as a friendly mediator, thus sparing both kings the humiliation of making the first move. D'Ayala found James quite disposed for peace, but in a somewhat cavalier humour as to the terms. By the advice of D'Ayala, commissioners were appointed to meet at Ayton, where, under the management of Fox, Bishop of Durham, on the part of England, a truce was agreed upon to last for the lives of the two kings, and a year after the death of the longer liver. Though agreed upon, this important truce was not ratified for some years afterwards.

Meantime, James privately admonished Warbeck to quit the kingdom, as he could no longer assist him, and his presence would only tend to endanger the truce. Warbeck is said to have received this intimation with much true dignity and good feeling. He thanked the king for the great effort he had made on his account, for all the honours and favours that he had conferred upon him, and for which he declared he should ever remain deeply grateful. A vessel was prepared for his departure at Ayr, and every comfort was provided for his accommodation which James could have offered to the true prince. His beautiful and accomplished wife would not be left behind—a proof that she was really attached to him, whatever she might think of his pretensions. She quitted rank, fortune, a high position in the Scottish Court, to embrace with him a homeless life and a dark prospect. Flanders was closed to Perkin by the fresh league betwixt that country and England. Ireland was a more than dubious resort, yet thither he turned his prow, and landed at Cork on the 30th of July, 1497, with about 100 followers. The attempt to rouse again the enthusiasm of Ireland was vain; but at this juncture the last gleam of Warbeck's waning fortune seemed to fall upon him.

The Cornish rebels, let off so easily by Henry, had returned to their own county, proclaiming by[92] the way that the king had not dared to put them to death because the whole of his subjects were in the same state of discontent. The people of Cornwall and Devon, reassured by this, again took up arms against the commissioners, who were still collecting the tax with great severity, and, it is said, despatched a message to Warbeck to come over and head them. On the 7th of September, 1497, he accordingly landed at Whitsand Bay, with four or five small barques, and his 100 fighting men. Being joined by 3,000 of the insurgents at Bodmin, he issued a proclamation similar to his former one. Bodmin was the native place of Michael Joseph, their great orator and leader, and the people there were burning to revenge his death. Warbeck set out on his march towards Devonshire, and thousands of those who had lost friends and relations in the bloody battle of Blackheath joined him on the way. He sent his wife to Mount St. Michael for security, and directing his course towards Exeter, he invested that city on the 17th of September with a rude, wild force of about 10,000 men. He announced himself as Richard IV. of England, and called on the inhabitants to surrender; but, having sent notification of his approach to King Henry, they determined to defend themselves, if needful, till succour arrived.


Warbeck had no artillery or engines of any kind to carry on a siege, he therefore attempted to break down the gates. At the one he was repulsed with considerable loss, the other he managed to burn down, but the citizens availed themselves of the fire, feeding it as it failed, till they had dug a deep trench behind the flames. When, the next morning, Warbeck returned to force a passage by that gate, the citizens received him with such spirit that they slew 200 of his men, and daunted the rest. Assistance was now also flowing in from the country to the city, and Warbeck was in danger of being attacked both in front and rear. Seeing this, he demanded a suspension of hostilities, and, depressed by this failure, his Devonshire followers began rapidly to fall away, and steal home as quickly as they could. His Cornish adherents, however, more intrepid, encouraged him to persevere, and vowed that they would perish in his cause. In this state of desperation the pretender marched on towards Taunton, where he arrived on the 20th of September. The country people on their way, smarting under the infliction of the hated tax, wished them success, but did not attempt to help them.




At Taunton, instead of any encouragement, they met the vanguard of the royal army, under the command of Lord Daubeney, the lord chamberlain, and Lord Broke, the steward of the household. The Duke of Buckingham was just behind with a second division, and Henry was declared to be following with a still larger force. The brave Cornish men, scarcely clothed, and still worse armed, shrank not a moment from the hopeless combat. They vowed to perish to a man in behalf of their newly-adopted king, and Warbeck, with an air as if he would lead them into battle in the morning, rode along their lines encouraging them, and made all ready for the attack.

But Warbeck, who had never shown any want of courage, perceived the utter madness of contending with his undisciplined followers against such overwhelming odds, and in the night he mounted a fleet steed and rode off. In the morning the Cornish men, seeing themselves without a leader, submitted to the king, and, with the exception of a few of the ringleaders, they were dismissed and returned homewards as best they might. Meanwhile, Lord Daubeney despatched 500 horsemen in pursuit of Warbeck, to prevent, if possible, his entrance into sanctuary; but the fugitive succeeded in reaching the monastery of Beaulieu, in the New Forest.

Henry sent a number of horsemen, in all haste, to St. Michael's Mount, in Cornwall, to obtain possession of the Lady Catherine Gordon, the wife of Warbeck. This they easily accomplished, and brought her to the king, on entering whose presence she blushed and burst into tears. Henry received her kindly—touched, for once in his life, with tenderness, by beauty in distress; or, probably, bearing in mind that the lady was the near kinswoman of the King of Scots, with whom he was desirous to stand well. He sent her to the queen, by whom she was most cordially received, and in whose court she remained attached to her service. She was still called the White Rose of Scotland, on account of her beauty. Lady Gordon was afterwards, it appears, three times married, but lies buried by the side of her second husband, Sir Matthew Cradock, in Swansea church.

Henry proceeded to Exeter, where he had the ringleaders of the Cornish insurrection brought in procession before him, with halters round their necks. Some of them he hanged, the rest he pardoned; but he, at the same time, appointed commissioners to proceed into the country through which Perkin had passed, and to fine all such people of property as had furnished him with aid or refreshment. They did not confine their scrutiny to those who had assisted Perkin in his march, but extended it to all who had relieved the famishing fugitives; "so that," says Bacon, "their severity did much obscure the king's mercy in sparing of blood, with the bleeding of so much treasure." They extorted altogether £10,000.

The next business was to get Warbeck out of his sanctuary and into the hands of the king. Beaulieu was surrounded by an armed force, and all attempts at escape made impossible. Some of Henry's council urged him to omit all ceremony, and take the pretender from the sanctuary by force; but this he declined, preferring to lure him thence by fair promises. After hesitating for some time, Warbeck at length threw himself upon the king's mercy. Henry then set out to London with his captive in his train. Warbeck rode in the king's suite through the city, along Cheapside, Cornhill, and to the Tower, and thence to Westminster. As the king had promised him his life, he kept his word. He was repeatedly examined by the Privy Council, but it seems as if something had transpired there which Henry deemed better concealed, for a profound silence was preserved on the subject of these disclosures. So far from even being degraded, like Lambert Simnel, to some menial occupation, Warbeck was suffered to enjoy a certain degree of liberty, and was treated as a gentleman. The probability is, that the king satisfied himself that this mysterious personage was in reality a son of Edward IV., by the handsome Jewess, Catherine de Faro, his birth being in Flanders, and agreeing exactly with the time of Edward's exile there. This might account for his admirable support of the character of a prince, for his confidence in his assertion of it for so many years, and the power he had of winning the strong attachment of persons of the highest rank and education. If this were true, he was, moreover, the queen's brother, though an illegitimate one, and might win the interest of herself and sisters by his resemblance in person, and in spirit and ambition, to her father.

But however this might be, he was too dangerous a person to be allowed to get loose again. He lived at Court under a strict surveillance, and he grew so weary of it, that he contrived to make his escape on the 8th of June, 1498. The alarm was instantly given; numbers of persons were out[95] in pursuit of him; every road by which he might escape to sea was vigilantly beset, and the unhappy man, finding himself pressed on all sides, surrendered himself to the Prior of Sheen, near Richmond. The prior exercised the right of sanctuary possessed by the house, and refused to give him up to the king, except under pledge that his life should be spared. Henry agreed, but he confirmed the public opinion, which, excited by the mystery of the Court, fully believed Warbeck a son of Edward's, by now endeavouring to degrade him, and to fix upon him the old story. For this purpose he compelled him to sit in the stocks two whole days, on the 14th of June at Westminster Hall, and on the 15th in Cheapside, and there to read aloud to the people a confession made up of the account of him published in Henry's former proclamation, but with some very contradictory additions. This confession was then printed and circulated amongst the people, but failed entirely to satisfy any one. When this bitter purgatory had been passed through, the bitterest conceivable to a man of Warbeck's character, pretensions, and superior mind, he was committed to the Tower.

Warbeck had not been long in the Tower when there was an attempt to liberate the Earl of Warwick, who was still in confinement there; and it failed only through the conspirators not having properly informed themselves of the real quarter in which he was kept. Soon after that a fresh plot was set on foot for the same object. In this the King of France was said to be concerned. It was said that he had declared his regret for ever having countenanced the usurpation of Henry Tudor, and that he offered money, ships, and even troops, to the friends of Warwick to enable them to release him, and place him on the throne. The Yorkist malcontents were once more active. They wrote to the retainers of the late Duke of Clarence, the father of Warwick, and to Lady Warwick, to come forward and see justice done to the oppressed prince; and an invitation was sent from the Court of France to a distinguished leader of the house of York to go over to that country and assume the command of the expedition. This also failing, a report was then spread of the death of the Earl of Warwick: then it was said that he had escaped, and a person of the name of Ralph Wulford, or Wilford, the son of a shoemaker in Sussex, was taught by one Patrick, an Augustinian friar, to personate the earl.

Whether the Yorkists were determined to give Henry no repose, but to haunt and harass him with a perpetual succession of impostors, or whether Henry himself planned this latter improbable scheme as a pretext for getting rid of the Earl of Warwick altogether, seems never to have been satisfactorily cleared up. All that is known is, that Wulford and the friar were speedily arrested, whereupon Wulford was put to death, and the friar consigned to prison for life.

Scarcely had this blown over, when it was reported that Warbeck and Warwick had endeavoured to escape from the Tower together. Warbeck must have been allowed to have free access to Warwick after he was sent to the Tower—a circumstance not likely to have been permitted by the cautious and vigilant Henry VII. had he not had some ulterior purpose in it. Once together, however, Warbeck won the favour of the simple and inexperienced Warwick, who was as ignorant of the world as a child, having passed nearly all his life in prison. Warbeck, however, exercised the same fascination over the highest and most intelligent persons whenever he had access to them. To the Tower he carried his active spirit of intrigue and adventure, and we soon find him in the enjoyment, for so dangerous a character, of extraordinary liberty and range in that State prison. He had not only completely won over the Earl of Warwick, but their keepers, Strangways, Astwood, Long Roger, and Blewet. These men engaged to murder their master, Sir John Digby, the Governor of the Tower, to get possession of the keys, and to conduct Warbeck and Warwick to the Yorkist partisans, by whom Warbeck was to be proclaimed King Richard IV., and Warwick to be restored to his titles and estates.

This plot, it is said, was discovered in time; and this was another circumstance which caused the public to suspect that the whole thing had been of the contriving, or, at least, of the permission of Henry, to rid him of these troublesome aspirants. The two offenders were immediately confined in separate cells. The servants of the Governor were brought to trial, and Blewet and Astwood were condemned and hanged. On the 16th of November, Warbeck was arraigned in Westminster Hall for sundry acts of high treason, since as a foreigner he had come into these kingdoms. They were, in fact, the attempts on the crown which we have related. He was condemned and hanged at Tyburn on the 23rd of November, 1499. On the scaffold his confession was read, and he declared it, on the word of a dying man, to be wholly true. Such was the end of this extraordinary adventurer. Bacon describes his enterprise as "one of the largest plays of the kind that hath been in memory;[96] and might, perhaps, have had another end if he had not met with a king both wise, stout, and fortunate."

On the 21st of November, the Earl of Warwick was brought to trial before the peers, though he had been attainted from his birth, and had never taken his oath and seat as a peer of the realm. The charge against him was his conspiracy with Warbeck to dethrone the king. The poor youth pleaded guilty, either as weary of a life which had been but one long injury and wrong, in consequence of his birth, or because he was destitute, from his perpetual confinement, of the activity of mind to comprehend his situation. Probably he imagined that if he confessed himself guilty, he would be pardoned, and sent back to his cell. But Henry had no such intention. The Earl of Oxford, as Lord Steward, pronounced judgment, and three days afterwards he was beheaded on Tower Hill. Thus perished the last legitimate descendant of the Plantagenets who could alarm the fears of Henry Tudor.

A few months after these tragic events, a plague broke out in London, which the people considered as a direct judgment from Heaven for such wicked bloodshed. Henry got out of town, but not feeling himself safe, after several changes of residence, he went over to Calais, and whilst there he had an interview with the Archduke Philip of Burgundy. Henry invited the archduke to take up his quarters in Calais, but it is a proof of the distrust which even his own allies entertained of the politic Henry, that the archduke declined putting himself into his power, and agreed to meet him at St. Pierre, near that city. What the archduke was particularly anxious to see Henry for, was to excite his jealousy of France, and secure his co-operation in counteracting its ambition.

Charles VIII. of France, an ambitious youth, had made a grand expedition into Italy to seize on the two Sicilies, having contrived to make out a claim upon them, which, though empty in itself, was good enough for an excuse for conquest. He had passed over the Alps with an army of upwards of 30,000 men. At first all gave way before him, but an extensive league was soon formed against the French encroachment, including Ferdinand of Spain, Maximilian, the King of the Romans, the father of Philip, the Duke of Milan, and the Doge of Venice. Charles, who had led a most dissipated life, died suddenly in 1498 at the castle of Amboise, and the Duke of Orleans succeeded as Louis XII. Louis was as fully bent as Charles had been on prosecuting the conquest of Naples and Sicily, and in 1499 marched with a fresh army into the south of Italy.

It was to secure Henry's assistance in the league against the aggression of France, which alarmed all Europe, that Philip used his most eloquent persuasives, but the only persuasives with Henry were moneys, and these Louis had already extended. He renewed the peace of Étaples, paid up the arrears of Henry's pension, and secured the interest of the Pope, with whom Henry was desirous to stand well, by paying him 20,000 ducats for a dispensation enabling him to divorce his wife, and marry Anne of Brittany, the widow of Charles VIII., and an old flame of his. He had also made over the Valentinois, in Dauphiné, with a pension of 20,000 livres, to the Pope's son, the vile Cæsar Borgia. The Pope, moreover, was coquetting with Henry, inviting him, by an express nuncio, to join a league for an imaginary crusade to the Holy Land, which Henry was ready to do for the cession of some real ports in Italy as places for the retreat and security of his fleet in those seas.

It was not likely that Philip of Burgundy would make much progress with Henry, except so far as he could serve him by keeping certain matters, well known at the Courts of Burgundy and Flanders, concerning the real history of Perkin Warbeck, secret; and his anxiety on this head more and more convinced people that Warbeck had been something more than the son of a Jew.

Henry VII. having succeeded in ridding himself of all the pretenders to his crown, now set himself to complete the marriages of his children, and to make money with redoubled ardour. Negotiations had been going on with James of Scotland for the marriage of Henry's eldest daughter, Margaret. In 1496 James, who had previously declined the match, now in communication with Fox, Bishop of Durham, offered to enter into that contract. Henry gladly assented, and, when some of his council suggested that in case of the failure of the male line in England, a Scottish prince, born of this marriage, would become the heir, and England a mere appendage of Scotland, "No," replied Henry, "Scotland will become an appendage of England, for the smaller must follow the larger kingdom." And, no doubt, this idea had from the first actuated the calculating mind of the Tudor. On the 29th of January, 1502, the parties were solemnly affianced in the queen's chamber, the Earl of Bothwell having come to London as proxy for James. Margaret, at the time of this affiancing, was but just turned twelve years of age, and it was agreed that she should remain twenty months[97] longer under the roof of her parents. Accordingly, it was not till the 8th of July, 1503, that she set out on her journey to Scotland.


Simultaneously had been proceeding the negotiations with the Spanish Court for the marriage between Henry's eldest son, Arthur, and Catherine, the daughter of Ferdinand, King of Aragon. The negotiations for this marriage had commenced so early as 1489, when the young prince was not yet three years old, and Catherine but four. In 1496 a further step was taken; and Ferdinand then promised to give the princess a portion of 200,000 crowns, and Henry engaged that his son should endow her with one-third of his present income, and the same of the income of the Crown, if he should live to be king. It was stipulated that so soon as Prince Arthur reached his twelfth year, a dispensation should be obtained to empower him to make the contract; and, accordingly, the marriage was performed by proxy, the Spanish ambassador assuming this part, in the chapel of the prince's manor of Bewdley. These two children, who were at this period, the one ten, and the other eleven years of age, were educated in the highest possible degree by their respective parents; and at the time of their actual marriage, in 1501, when Arthur was fifteen, and Catherine nearly sixteen, they were perhaps the two most learned persons of their years in the two kingdoms of Spain and England. The festivities over, Arthur retired to his castle of Ludlow with his bride, and there kept a Court modelled on that of the king. Great hopes and auguries were drawn from this marriage, and wonderful futures to them and their descendants were promised them by the astrologers. But little more than five months sufficed to falsify all the earthly predictions; for[98] the young prince fell suddenly ill and died. Various reasons for his death are assigned by different authorities. Some assert that he died of consumption; others declare that he was perfectly sound and robust, and that he died of some epidemic—the sweating sickness, or, as the Spanish historian says, the plague. Great sickness of some kind was prevailing in the neighbourhood, so that at Worcester the funeral, according to the Spanish herald, was but thinly attended. Prince Arthur died on the 2nd of April, 1502. He was a prince of great promise, and the beauty of his person, the sweetness of his manner, and his brilliant accomplishments, won him universal favour, which was equally shared by his young bride.

The death of Arthur was a shock to the political arrangements, as well as to the affections of the royal parties on both sides. Ferdinand was anxious to retain a close alliance with England, as a counterpoise to the ascendency of France. He therefore proposed to Henry that Catherine should be affianced to Henry Duke of York, Prince Arthur's younger brother. This was a very legitimate project according to the Jewish law, but not so much in accordance with the practice of the Christian world. Henry VII. appeared to hesitate—it may safely be surmised with no intention of allowing the young princess, and her dowry of 200,000 crowns, to escape him; but rather, it may be supposed, with a design to exact something more. To hasten his decision, however, the Spanish monarch announced as the alternative that Catherine must be at once restored to her parents, with half of the marriage portion already paid. This had immediate effect on the deliberations of Henry. He showed himself ready to assent, if there were an additional incentive in the shape of another sum. Ferdinand and Isabella were firm. They declared themselves ready to pay the remaining 100,000 crowns on the contract of the marriage, which should take effect two months after the receipt of a dispensation from the Pope. Henry tried every art to extort a larger sum, and it was not till June, 1503, that this proposition was finally accepted. The solemnisation of the marriage was to take place on the young Prince Henry completing his fourteenth year. But the difficulties were not yet over. The two monarchs continued, like two skilful players, to try every move which might delay the payment of the money, or compel it with an augmentation. In this state the matter remained till 1504, when Henry and Catherine, on the 25th of June, were betrothed, but still not married, at the house of the Bishop of Salisbury, in Fleet Street.

Scarcely had the eyes of Elizabeth of York closed (she died in 1503), at the early age of thirty-seven, than Henry was on the look-out for another wife, for it was another opportunity of making a profit. His eyes glanced over the courts and courtly dames of Europe; and the lady who struck him as the most attractive in the world was the widow of the late King of Naples—for the deceased monarch had bequeathed her an immense property. Her ducats were charms that told on the gold-loving heart of Henry most ravishingly. He posted off three private gentlemen, well skilled in such delicate inquiries, to Naples, to learn from real sources whether all was safe as to this grand dowry. Poor Catherine was even made to play a part in this notable scheme of courtship, by furnishing the emissaries with a letter to her relative, the queen-dowager. The gentlemen reported in the most glowing terms the charms of the queen-dowager's person, the sweetness of her disposition, and the brilliant endowments of her mind, but they were obliged to add that, though the lady's fortune was in justice as large as fame reported it, the present king refused to carry out the will by which it was conferred. This one unlucky fact at once blotted out all the rest, and Henry, giving not another thought to the dowager-queen of Naples, turned his attention to the dowager-duchess of Savoy, who was also reported to be rich.

While Henry, however, was traversing Europe with the design of adding to his ever-growing hoards, he was equally diligent at home in prosecuting every art by which he could add another mark to his heap. He sought out and kept in his pay clever and unprincipled lawyers to search the old statute-books for laws grown obsolete, but which had never been formally repealed; and he had another set of spies in correspondence with them, who went to and fro throughout the whole kingdom to mark out all such persons of property as had transgressed these slumbering laws. Such a state of things could never have been tolerated in any former reign; but the wars of the Roses had cut off all the chief nobility, and the House of Commons, terrified by the summary proceedings against offenders, had become utterly cowed, and trembled at the mere word of this imperious monarch. Never, therefore, was the English people at any time so completely prostrated beneath the talons of a royal vampire as at this period. The rich merchants of London found themselves accused[99] of malpractices in the discharge of their civic offices, and were subjected to the same process of squeezing in Henry's universal press.

To drain the coffers of the landed aristocracy, Henry's agents brought up against them all the old obsolete feudal charges of wardships, aids, liveries, premier seizins, and scutages. Their estates had long been held under a different tenure, obtained from former monarchs. No matter: all those marked out for legal bleeding were brought into the private inquisition of the king's commissioners, and compelled to pay whatever was demanded, or to suffer worse inconveniences. Even his own friends were not exempted from the ever-watchful eyes and schemes of this money-making king. The law which he had enacted against the practice of "maintenance" was a prolific source of emolument. A striking example of this species of royal sharp practice was given in the case of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford. This nobleman having entertained the king on one occasion for several days magnificently at his castle of Henningham, to do the utmost honour to him at his departure, summoned all his friends and retainers, arrayed in all their livery coats and cognisances, and ranged them in two rows leading from the reception rooms to the royal carriage. Henry's eye was instantly struck with this prodigious display of wealth and of men, and his mind as suddenly leapt to a felicitous conclusion. There was money to be made out of it. The king said: "By my faith, my lord, I thank you for your good cheer, but I may not endure to have my laws thus broken in my sight: my attorney must speak to you." The earl was prosecuted for thus seeking to flatter the vanity of his master, and compelled to gratify Henry's avarice by a fine of 15,000 marks.

Whilst the king himself set so notable an example of extortion, we may be sure that his commissioners, spies, and tools of all sorts were not slack in this abominable business of ferreting out and putting through the cruel torture of their secret courts, the unhappy subjects of every corner of the kingdom who had any substance to prey upon. "The king," says Bacon, "had gotten for his purpose, or beyond his purpose, two instruments, Empson and Dudley, whom the people esteemed as his horse-leeches and shearers: bold men, and careless of fame, and that took toll of their master's grist. Dudley was of a good family, eloquent, and one that could put hateful business into good language. But Empson, that was the son of a sieve-maker, triumphed always upon the deed done, putting off all other respects whatsoever."

The tempestuous weather of January, 1506, which brought to others the disastrous news of vessels wrecked and lives lost, brought to Henry VII. tidings of a most exciting and elating kind. It was no other than that amongst the foreign vessels driven into the port of Weymouth, were some containing the Archduke Philip of Flanders and his wife Joanna, the elder sister of Catherine of Aragon, his daughter-in-law, and daughter of his friend and ally Ferdinand of Spain. The Archduke Philip knew his man; and at their meeting near Calais, in 1500, though he attempted to hold Henry's stirrup, and heaped upon him the titles of his father and protector, he took good care to keep out of his clutches; nothing would induce him to enter the city. But now circumstances were greatly changed; and the archduke and his wife Joanna would be a much more valuable prize. The mother of Joanna, the Queen Isabella of Spain, was dead, and Joanna was, in her own right, Queen of Castile, and Philip, by hers, king. There was a number of things, any one of which Henry would have been only too happy to extort from Philip.

The prince soon found himself received with much magnificence at the castle of Windsor; but he was not suffered to remain long without feeling that he was in the hands of a man who would have his full advantage out of him. The insatiable old miser went to work and propounded his demands, and there was nothing for it but for Philip to comply, if he ever meant to see Spain. First, Henry informed him that he was intending to marry, and that Philip's sister, the dowager-duchess of Savoy, was the woman of his choice. He demanded with her the sum of 300,000 crowns, of which 100,000 should be paid in August—it was already the 10th of March—and the remainder in six years by equal instalments. Besides this, Margaret, the duchess, was in the annual receipt of two dowries; one as the widow of John, Prince of Spain, and the other as widow of Philibert, Duke of Savoy, for she had been twice married already. This income Henry stipulated should be settled upon himself, and the princess was to receive instead an income as queen of England. That meant that Henry would have an income certain, and give her one most uncertain, for at this very time Catherine, the widow of his son Arthur, and betrothed bride of his son Henry, was kept by him in a condition of the most shameful destitution.

Philip consented—for what could he do?—and that point settled, Henry informed Philip that he[100] had also a son, whom he, Henry, proposed to marry to his youngest daughter, Mary. This must have been a still more bitter draught for the poor Spanish monarch than the former. Henry had already made this very proposal, and it had been at once rejected. This son of Philip, the future celebrated Emperor Charles V., was now a child of six years of age, and the little Princess Mary was just three! Philip, however much he might inwardly rebel, and however differently he had planned the destiny of his son, was in the miser's vice, and the thing was done.


Soon there came about fresh complications. Philip of Flanders, or, as he was oftener called, Philip the Fair of Austria, was but an invalid when he set out on his unlucky voyage to Spain. His detention in England during the three most trying months of its trying climate, January, February, and March, added to the vexation of the engagement forced upon him by the relentless Henry, is said to have completely broken his constitution; he sank and died in about six months. No sooner did King Henry hear this news, than, throwing aside all further thoughts of the Duchess of Savoy, he applied for the hand of Joanna, the widow of Philip. With Joanna, Queen of Castile, married to himself, and Charles, her son, the heir of all Spain, the Netherlands, and Austria, married to his daughter Mary, what visions of greatness and empire must have swum before the keen eyes of Henry, and excited his intense passion of acquisitiveness! Ferdinand returned for answer, that the proposal would have been well pleasing to him, but that Queen Joanna, from violent grief for the loss of her husband, was become permanently insane. This answer, which would have been all-sufficient for most men, was treated as a mere trifle by Henry, who replied that he knew the queen, having seen her in England; that her derangement of mind was not the effect of grief, but of the harsh treatment of Philip; that she would soon be all right, and that he was quite ready to marry her. Ferdinand reiterated the certainty of the lady's fixed madness, and Henry rejoined that if he was not allowed to marry her, the king's other daughter, Catherine, should never marry his son.

There is no doubt that, could Henry have secured[101] the hand of Joanna—"the Mad Queen," as she came to be called—he would have broken off the contract between Henry, his son, and Catherine, and kept her and her dower in England nevertheless. But the marriage of Henry VII. with Joanna being an impossibility, Ferdinand promised to send the remaining half of Catherine's dower by instalments, and Henry consented that the marriage of the two young people should take place as soon as the money was paid. Catherine, whose letters to her father had, for the most part, been intercepted and detained by Henry, at length gave up her opposition also to the wedding, declaring, in one of these letters, that it was better for her to marry the prince than remain in the woful condition of destitution and dependence in which her father-in-law kept her. The remainder of the dower, however, was never paid up during Henry's time, and therefore the marriage did not take place till after his death.


In the midst of his grasping, his hoarding, and his scheming, the king's end was drawing on, though he was far from an old man. The gout had long visited him with its periodical attacks. He was liable, during the cold and variable weather of spring, to complaints of the chest, which assumed the appearance of consumption, and occasionally reduced him very low. When the sickness was strong upon him he ordered Empson and Dudley to cease their villainies; as he got worse he commanded them even to make restitution to those whom they had pillaged and imprisoned; but as he grew better again, he instructed them that it was only necessary to recompense such as had not been dealt with according to the regular forms of law—so that as these vultures generally tore their victims in a legal fashion, and as they themselves were made the judges of the necessary restitution, very little was done. Henry VII. died at his palace of Richmond on the 21st of April, 1509, in the fifty-fourth year of his age and the twenty-fourth of his reign.




The King's Accession—State of Europe—Henry and Julius II.—Treaty between England and Spain—Henry is duped by Ferdinand—New Combinations—Execution of Suffolk—Invasion of France—Battle of Spurs—Invasion of England by the Scots—Flodden Field—Death of James of Scotland—Louis breaks up the Holy League—Peace with France—Marriage and Death of Louis XII.—Rise of Wolsey—Affairs in Scotland—Francis I. in Italy—Death of Maximilian—Henry a Candidate for the Empire—Election of Charles—Field of the Cloth of Gold—Wolsey's Diplomacy—Failure of his Candidature for the Papacy—The Emperor in London.

No prince ever ascended a throne under more auspicious circumstances than Henry VIII. While his father had strengthened the throne, he had made himself extremely unpopular. The longer he lived, the more the selfish meanness and the avarice of his character had become conspicuous, and excited the disgust of his subjects. Henry was young, handsome, accomplished, and gay. He was in many respects the very opposite of his father, and the people always give to a young prince every virtue under the sun. Accordingly, Henry, who was only eighteen, was regarded as a fine, buxom young fellow; frank, affable, generous, capable of everything, and disposed to the best.

Fox was grown old, and under Henry VII. had grown habitually parsimonious. He, therefore, attempted to keep a tight reign on the young monarch, and discouraged all mere schemes of pleasure which necessarily brought expense. But the old proverb that a miser is sure to be succeeded by a spendthrift, was not likely to be falsified in Henry. He was full of health, youth, vigour, and affluence. He was disposed to enjoy all the gaieties and enjoyments which a brilliant Court and the resources of a great kingdom spread around him, and in this tendency he found in the Earl of Surrey a far more facile counsellor than in Fox.

All this made deep inroads into his parental treasures, but it augmented his popularity, which he vastly extended by bringing to justice the two hated extortioners of Henry VII.'s reign. To prepare for this, he appointed commissioners to hear the complaints of those who had suffered from the grievous exactions of the late reign; but these complaints were so loud and so universal that he was soon convinced that it would be impossible to make full restitution; and he therefore resolved to appease the injured in some degree by punishing the injurers. A number of the most notorious informers were therefore seized, set on horses, and paraded through the streets of London, on the 6th of June, with their faces to the horses' tails. This done, they were set in the pillory, and left to the vengeance of the people, who so maltreated them that they all died soon after in prison. The fate of Dudley and Empson—the two main instruments of popular oppression—was suspended by the coronation, which took place on the 24th of the same month. After it was over they were tried and beheaded.

Henry had been married to Catherine of Aragon on the 3rd of the month at Greenwich. Whatever pretences Henry made in after years of his scruples about this marriage—Catherine having been the wife of his elder brother Prince Arthur—he seems to have felt or expressed none now. Archbishop Warham had protested against it on that ground in Henry VII.'s time; but though the princess was six years older than himself, there is every reason to believe that Henry was now anxious for the match. Catherine was at this time very agreeable in person, and was distinguished for the excellence of her disposition and the spotless purity and modesty of her life. She was the daughter of one of the most powerful sovereigns of Europe; and the alliance of Spain was held to be essentially desirable to counteract the power of France. Besides this, the princess had a large dower, which must be restored if she were allowed to return home. The majority of his council, therefore, zealously concurred with him in his wish to complete this marriage; and his grandmother, the sagacious Countess of Richmond, was one of its warmest advocates. "There were few women," says Lord Herbert, "who could compete with Queen Catherine when in her prime;" and Henry himself, writing to her father a short time after the marriage, sufficiently expresses his satisfaction at the union:—"As regards that sincere love which we have to the most serene queen, our consort, her eminent virtues daily more shine forth, blossom, and increase so much, that if[103] we were still free, her would we yet choose for our wife before all others." The conduct of Henry for many years bore out this profession.

To make the general satisfaction complete, Henry summoned a Parliament, in which the chief topic was the prevention in future of the abominable exactions of the past; and the obsolete penal statutes on which the extortioners had acted were formally repealed. The whole number of temporal peers who were summoned to this Parliament was only thirty-six—one duke, one marquis, eight earls, and twenty-six barons.

Henry was now at peace with all the world. At home and abroad, so far as he was concerned, everything was tranquil. No English monarch had ever been more popular, powerful, and prosperous. Nothing could show more the advance which England had made of late in strength and importance than the deference paid to Henry by the greatest princes on the Continent, and their anxiety to cultivate his alliance. The balance of power in Europe appeared more widely established than at any former period. England had freed herself of her intestine divisions, and stood compact and vigorous from united political power and the active spirit of commerce. The people were thriving; the Crown, owing to the care of Henry VII., was rich. Spain had joined its several provinces into one potent state, which was ruled by the crafty but able Ferdinand. France had begun the same work of consolidation under Louis XII., by his marriage with Anne of Brittany, and the union of Brittany with the Crown. Maximilian, the Emperor of Germany, with his hereditary dominions of Austria, possessed the weight given him by his Imperial office over all Germany; and his grandson Charles, heir at once of Austria, Spain, and the Netherlands, was at this time the ruler of Burgundy and the Netherlands, under the guardianship of his aunt Margaret of Savoy, a princess of high character for sense and virtue. Henry had taken the earliest opportunity of renewing the treaties made by his father with all these princes, and with Scotland, and declared that he was resolved to maintain peace with them, and to cultivate the interests of his subjects at home. But this promise he speedily broke.

The first means of exciting him to mingle in the distraction of the Continent were found in the fact that Louis XII. of France was reluctant to continue the annual payment of £80,000 which he made to his father. Henry had made a considerable vacuum in the paternal treasury chests, and was not willing to forego this convenient subsidy. There were those on the watch ready to stimulate him to hostile action. Pope Julius II. and Ferdinand of Spain had their own reasons for fomenting ill-will between Louis of France and Henry. Louis had added Milan and part of the north of Italy to the French crown. Ferdinand had become possessed of Naples and Sicily, first, by aiding the French in conquering them, and then by driving out the French. Julius II. was equally averse from the presence of the French and Spaniards in Italy, but he was, at the same time, jealous of the spreading power of Venice, and therefore concealed his ultimate designs against France and Spain, so that he might engage Louis and Ferdinand to aid him in humbling Venice. For this purpose he engaged Louis, Ferdinand, and Maximilian of Austria to enter into a league at Cambray, as early as December, 1508, by which they engaged to assist him in regaining the dominions of the church from the Venetians. Henry, who had no interest in the matter, was induced, in course of time, to add his name to this League, as a faithful son of the Church.

No sooner had Julius driven back the Venetians and reduced them to seek for peace, than he found occasion to quarrel with the French, and a new league was formed to protect the Pope from what he termed the ambitious designs of the French, into which Ferdinand, Maximilian, and Henry entered. Louis XII., seeing this powerful alliance arrayed against him, determined to carry a war of another nature into the camp of the militant Pope Julius. He induced a number of the cardinals to declare against the violence and aggressive spirit of the pontiff, as totally unbecoming his sacred character. But Julius, who, though now old, had all the resolution and the ambition of youth, set this schismatic conclave at defiance. He declared Pisa, where the opposing cardinals had summoned a council, and every other place to which they transferred themselves, under an interdict. He excommunicated all cardinals and prelates who should attend any such council, and not only they, but any temporal prince or chief who should receive, shelter, or countenance them.

At the same time that Julius launched his thunders thus liberally at his disobedient cardinals, he made every court in Europe ring with his outcries against the perfidy and lawless ambition of Louis, who, not content with seizing on Milan, he now asserted, was striving to make himself master of the domains of the holy Mother Church. Henry was prompt in responding to this appeal. He[104] regarded the claims of the Church as sacred and binding on all Christian princes; he had his own demands on Louis, and he was naturally disposed to co-operate with his father-in-law, Ferdinand. But beyond this, he was greatly flattered by the politic Pope declaring him "the head of the Italian league;" and assuring him that Louis by his hostility to the Church, having forfeited the title of the "Most Christian King," he would transfer it to him.

Henry was perfectly intoxicated by these skilful addresses to his vanity, and condescended to a piece of deception which, though often practised by potentates and statesmen, is at all times unworthy of any Englishman; he joined the Kings of Scotland and Spain, in recommending Louis to make peace with the Pope, on condition that Bologna should be restored to the Church, the council of cardinals at Pisa dissolved, and the cause of Alphonso, the Duke of Ferrara—whose territories Julius, the fighting Pope, had invaded—referred to impartial judges. These propositions on the part of Henry were made by Young, the English ambassador; but Louis, on his part, was perfectly aware at this very time that Henry was not only in alliance with the Pope and Spain, but had engaged to join Ferdinand in an invasion of France in the spring. He therefore treated the hollow overture with just contempt.

Henry was at this time in profound peace with Louis. He had but a few months before renewed his treaty with him, yet he was at the very time that he sent his hypocritical proposal of arbitration, diligently, though secretly, preparing for war with him. He sent a commission to gentlemen in each county on June 20th, 1511, to array and exercise all the men-at-arms and archers in their county, and to make a return of their names, and the quality of their arms, before the 1st of August.

On opening his plans to his council, he there met with strong dissuasion from war against France, and on very rational grounds. It was contended that "the natural situation of islands seems not to consort with conquests on the Continent. If we will enlarge ourselves, let it be in the way for which Providence hath fitted us, which is by sea." Never was sounder or more enlightened counsel given to an English king. But such language was in vain addressed to the ears of Henry, which had been assiduously tickled by the emissaries of Pope Julius and Ferdinand the Catholic, who assured him that nothing would be more easy, while they attacked France in other quarters, than to recover all the provinces once possessed there. He hastened to form a separate treaty with his cunning father-in-law, who had his own scheme in it, and this treaty was signed on the 10th of November, 1511. The preamble of this treaty was a fine specimen of the solemn pretences with which men attempt to varnish over their unprincipled designs. It represented Louis as an enemy to God and religion, a cruel and unrelenting persecutor of the Church, one who despised all admonition, and had rejected the generous offer of the Pope to pardon his sins.

And what was this pious scheme, so greatly to the glory of God and of heaven? It was professedly to seize on the French province of Guienne, in which Ferdinand promised to help Henry, but in reality to seize Navarre, in which Ferdinand meant Henry to help him, but took care not to say so. The old man, long practised in every art of royal treachery, was far too knowing for the vainglorious young man, his son-in-law.

Things being put into this train, Henry sent a herald to Louis, to command him not to make war upon the Pope, whom he styled "the father of all Christians." Louis, who was well acquainted with what was going on, knew that Pope Julius was as much a soldier and a politician as a Pope. He was the most busy, scheming, restless, and ambitious old man of his time. He not only made war on his neighbours, but attended the field in person, watched the progress of sieges, saw his attendants fall by his very side, and inspected his outposts with the watchful diligence of a prudent general. Louis knew that he was at the bottom of all these leagues against him, and he only smiled at Henry's message. This herald was therefore speedily followed by another demanding the surrender of Anjou, Maine, Normandy, and Guienne, as Henry's lawful inheritance. This, of course, was tantamount to a declaration of war, and the formal declaration only awaited the sanction of Henry by Parliament. Parliament was therefore summoned by him on the 4th of February, 1512, and was opened by Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, with a sermon, the extraordinary text of which was—"Righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psalm lxxxv. 10). Two-tenths and two-fifteenths were cheerfully granted Henry for prosecuting the war, and the clergy in convocation voted a subsidy of £23,000.

Thus zealously supported and encouraged, Henry despatched a declaration of war, and sent an army of 10,000 men, chiefly archers, with a train of[105] artillery, under command of the Marquis of Dorset, to co-operate with the Spaniards for the reduction of Guienne. These troops embarked at Southampton, May 16th, 1512, and soon landed safely at Guipuscoa, whilst the fleet under the Lord Admiral, Sir Edward Howard, cruised during the summer off the coast. But Ferdinand's real object was a very different one; his intention, as we have seen, was not to secure Guienne for his duped son-in-law, but Navarre for himself.


Navarre was a separate kingdom in possession of John d'Albret, who had married its heiress, the Infanta Catherine; and, justly suspicious of the covetous intentions of the King of Spain, he had sought to fortify himself by a secret treaty with the King of France. While, therefore, the Marquis of Dorset, the English general, and his army were impatiently waiting for the Spanish reinforcements, they received from Ferdinand a message that it would not be safe for them to quit the Spanish frontiers until they had secured the neutrality of the King of Navarre, who was also Lord of Béarn, on the French side of the Pyrenees. The English had thus to wait while Ferdinand demanded of D'Albret a pledge of strict neutrality during the present war. D'Albret readily assented to this; but Ferdinand then demanded security for his keeping this neutrality. To this also John of Navarre freely acceded; which was again followed by a demand from Ferdinand that this security should consist of the surrender of six of the most considerable places in his dominions into the hands of the Spaniards, and of his son as a hostage. The King of Navarre was compelled to refuse so unreasonable a requisition, and therefore Ferdinand, professing to believe that D'Albret meant to cut off the communication of the Spanish army with Spain if it ventured into France, and showing that he had obtained a copy of the secret treaty of D'Albret with Louis, immediately ordered the Duke of Alva to invade Navarre. The Duke soon made himself master of the smaller towns and the open country, and then summoned, to their profound astonishment, the English to march into Navarre, and assist him in reducing Pampeluna.

Dorset now perceived the real game that was being played. Having no orders, however, to do anything but attack Guienne, he refused to move a foot for the reduction of Navarre, and demanded afresh the supplies of artillery and horse which had been guaranteed for the former enterprise. But Ferdinand replied that it was quite out of the question to furnish him with any till Navarre was made secure; that was the first necessary step, and that effected, he should be prepared to march with him to Bayonne, Bordeaux, and to the conquest of all Guienne.

These representations only increased the disgust of Dorset and his army: but they could do nothing but await the event, and saw themselves thus most adroitly posted by Ferdinand, as the necessary guard of his position against the French, whilst he accomplished his long-desired acquisition[106] of Navarre. So Alva went on leisurely reducing Pampeluna, Ferdinand still calling on Dorset to accelerate the business by marching to Alva's support.

Henry did not yet perceive how grossly he had been deluded by his loving father-in-law, who had only used him to secure a kingdom for himself most essential to the compactness and power of Spain; and he would have been led by him to assist in his still contemplated aggressions. In the meantime Louis, more cognisant of the game, marched his troops into Béarn, and left them, professedly for his ally, whilst the remnant of the English army reached home, shorn of its anticipated honours, reduced in numbers, in rags, and more than half-famished. Henry was disposed to charge upon Dorset the disasters and disappointments of the expedition, but the officers succeeded in convincing him that they could not have done differently, consistent with their orders; but the time was yet far off when the vainglorious young king was to have his eyes opened to the selfish deceptions which his Machiavelian father-in-law was practising upon him.

At sea, the fleet under Sir Edward Howard had not been more successful than the forces on land. Sir Edward harassed the coasts of Brittany during the spring and summer, and on the 10th of August fell in with a fleet of thirty-nine sail. Sir Charles Brandon, afterwards the Duke of Suffolk, bore down upon the Cordelier, of Brest, a vessel of huge bulk, and carrying 900 men. Brandon's vessel was soon dismasted, and fell astern, giving place to the Regent, the largest vessel in the English navy, a ship of 1,000 tons. The Regent was commanded by Sir Thomas Knevet, a young officer of a daring character. He continued the contest for more than an hour, when another ship coming to his aid, the French commander set fire to the Cordelier, the flames of which soon catching the Regent, which lay alongside of her in full action, both vessels were wrapt in fire, amid which the crews continued their desperate fight till the French admiral's ship blew up, destroying with it the Regent; and all the crews went down with the commanders, amid the horror of the spectators. The rest of the French fleet then escaped into Brest; and Sir Edward Howard made a vow to God that he would never see the king's face again till he had avenged the death of the valiant Knevet.

But though Henry had been duped by the wily Ferdinand, and had suffered at sea, his efforts had inflicted serious evil on the King of France. The menace of Louis' dominions in the south, and the English fleet hovering upon his coasts, had prevented him from sending into Italy the necessary force to ensure lasting advantage there. Before Christmas Julius had fulfilled his boast that he would drive the barbarians beyond the Alps. He had done it, says Muratori, without stopping a moment to ask himself whether this was the precise function of the chief pastor of the Church.

Louis, convinced that the Holy League, as it was called, was proving too strong for him, employed the ensuing winter in devising means to break it up, or to corrupt some of its members. Julius, the soul of the League, died—a grand advantage to Louis—in February, 1513, and the new pontiff, Leo X., who was Cardinal John de Medici, though he prosecuted the same object of clearing Italy of the foreigner, did not possess the same belligerent temperament as his predecessor. Leo laboured to keep the League together, but at the same time he was engaged in schemes for the aggrandisement of his own family, and especially of securing to it the sovereignty of Florence. In pursuing this object, Venice felt itself neglected in its claims of support against the emperor, and went over to the alliance with France. Yet the plan of a renewed league between the Pope, the emperor, the kings of Spain and England, against Louis, which had long been secretly concocting at Mechlin, was signed by the plenipotentiaries on the 5th of April, 1513. By this league Leo engaged to invade France in Provence or Dauphiné, and to launch the thunders of the Church at Louis. He had managed to detach the emperor from the French king, and engaged him to attack France from his own side, but not in Italy. To enable him to take the field, Henry of England was to advance him 100,000 crowns of gold. Ferdinand engaged to invade Béarn, for which he particularly yearned, or Languedoc; Henry to attack Normandy, Picardy, or Guienne. The invading armies were to be strong and well appointed, and none of the confederates were to make a peace without the consent of all the rest.

Henry, in his self-confident ardour, blinded by his vanity, little read as yet in the wiles and selfish cunning of men, was delighted with this accomplished league. To him it appeared that Louis of France, encompassed on every side, was certain of utter defeat, and thus as certain to be compelled to restore all the rich provinces which his fathers had wrested from England. But little did he dream that at the very moment he was empowering his plenipotentiary to sign this league, his Spanish father-in-law was signing another with[107] Louis himself, in conjunction with James of Scotland and the Duke of Gueldres. By this Ferdinand engaged to be quiet, and do Louis no harm. In fact, none of the parties in that league meant to fight at all. Their only object was to obtain Henry's money, or to derive some other advantage from him, and they would enjoy the pleasure of seeing him expending his wealth and his energies in the war on France, and thus reducing his too formidable ascendency in Europe. Ferdinand's intention was to spend the summer in strengthening his position in the newly acquired kingdom of Navarre, and Maximilian, the emperor, having got the subsidy from Henry, would be ready to reap further benefits whilst he idly amused the young king with his pretences of service. Henry alone was all on fire to wipe away the disgrace of his troops and the disasters of his navy; to win martial renown, and to restore the ancient Continental possessions of the Crown.

The war commenced first at sea. Sir Edward Howard, burning to discharge his vow by taking vengeance for the death of Admiral Knevet, blockaded the harbour of Brest. On the 23rd of April he attempted to cut away a squadron of six galleys, moored in the bay of Conquêt, a few leagues from Brest, and commanded by Admiral Prejeant. With two galleys, one of which he gave into the command of Lord Ferrers, and four boats, he rowed up to the admiral's galley, leaped upon its deck, and was followed by one Carroz, a Spanish cavalier, and sixteen Englishmen. But the cable which bound the vessel to that of Prejeant being cut, his ship, instead of lying alongside, fell astern, and left him unsupported. He was forced overboard, with all his gallant followers, by the pikes of an overwhelming weight of the enemy, and perished. Sir Thomas Cheney, Sir John Wallop, and Sir William Sidney, seeing the danger of Sir Edward Howard, pressed forward to his rescue, but in vain, and the English fleet, discouraged by the loss of their gallant commander, put back to port. Prejeant sailed out of harbour after it, and gave chase, but failing in overtaking it, he made a descent on the coast of Sussex, where he was repulsed, and lost an eye, being struck by an arrow. Henry, on hearing the unfortunate affair of Brest, appointed Lord Thomas Howard to his brother's post, and bade him go out and avenge his death; whereupon the French fleet again made sail for Brest, and left the English masters of the Channel.

In June, Henry deemed himself fully prepared to cross with his army to Calais. Lord Howard was ordered to bring his fleet into the Channel, to cover the passage, and on the 6th of June, 1513, the vanguard of the army passed over, under the command of the Earl of Shrewsbury, accompanied by the Earl of Derby, the Lords Fitzwalter, Hastings, Cobham, and Sir Rice ap Thomas. A second division followed on the 16th, under Lord Herbert, the Chamberlain, accompanied by the Earls of Northumberland and Kent; the Lords Audley and Delawar, with Carew, Curson, and many other gentlemen. Henry himself followed on the 30th, with the main body and the rear of the army. The whole force consisted of 25,000 men, the majority of which was composed of the old victorious arm of archers.

Before leaving Dover, to which place the queen attended him, Henry appointed her regent during his absence, and constituted Archbishop Warham and Sir Thomas Lovel her chief counsellors and ministers. On the plea of leaving no cause of disturbance behind him to trouble her Majesty, he cut off the head of the Earl of Suffolk. Henry VII. had inveigled this nobleman into his hands at the time of the visit of the Archduke Philip, on the assurance that he would not take his life; but he seems to have repented of this show of clemency, for on his death-bed the king left an order that his son should put him to death. The earl had remained till now prisoner in the Tower, and Henry had been fatally reminded of him and of his father's dying injunction by the imprudence of Richard de la Pole, the brother of Suffolk, who had not only attempted to revive the York faction, but had taken a high command in the French army.

Henry himself, instead of crossing direct to Calais, ran down the coast as far as Boulogne, firing continually his artillery to terrify the French, and then returning, entered Calais amid a tremendous uproar of cannon from ships and batteries, announcing rather prematurely that another English monarch was come to conquer France. In order to effect this conquest, however, he found none of his allies fulfilling their agreements, except the Swiss, who, always alive at the touch of money, and having fingered that of Henry, were in full descent on the south of France, elated, moreover, with their victory over the French in the last Italian campaign. Maximilian, who had received 120,000 crowns, was not yet visible. But Henry's own officers had shown no remissness. Before his arrival, Lord Herbert and the Earl of Shrewsbury had laid siege to Terouenne, a town situate on the borders of Picardy, where they found a stout[108] resistance from the two commanders, Teligni and Crequi. The siege had been continued a month, and Henry, engaged in a round of pleasures and gaieties in Calais amongst his courtiers, seemed to have forgotten the great business before him, of rivalling the Edwards and the fifth of his own name. But news from the scene of action at length roused him. The besieged people of Terouenne, on the point of starvation, contrived to send word of their situation to Louis, who despatched Fontrailles with 800 Albanian horses, each soldier carrying behind him a sack of gunpowder and two quarters of bacon. Coming unawares upon the English camp, they made a sudden dash through it, up to the town fosse, where, flinging down their load, which was as quickly snatched up by the famishing inhabitants, they returned at full gallop, and so great was the surprise of the English that they again cut their way out and got clear off.


On arriving before Terouenne, on the 4th of August, Henry was soon joined by Maximilian, the emperor. This strange ally, who had received 120,000 crowns to raise and bring with him an army, appeared with only a miserable complement of 4,000 horse. Henry had taken up his quarters in a magnificent tent, blazing in silks, blue damask, and cloth of gold, but the bad weather had driven him out of it into a wooden house. To do honour to his German ally—who, by rank, was the first prince in Christendom—Henry arrayed himself and his nobles in all their bravery of attire. They and their horses were loaded with gold and silver tissue; the camp glittered with the display of golden ornaments and utensils; and, in this royal splendour, he rode at the head of his Court and commanders to meet and escort his guest. They encountered the emperor and his attendants clad in simple black, mourning for the recent death of the empress. But there was little opportunity for comparisons—for the weather was terrible; and they exchanged their greetings amid tempests of wind and deluges of rain. Maximilian, to prevent any too-well founded complaints as to the smallness of his force compared with the greatness of his position, his promises in the alliance, and his princely pay, declared himself only the king's volunteer, ready to serve under him as his own soldier, for the payment of 100 crowns a day. He[109] adopted Henry's badge of the red rose, was adorned with the cross of St. George, and, by flattering Henry's vanity, made him forget all his deficiencies.

The pleasure of receiving his great ally was somewhat dashed with bitter by the arrival of the Scottish Lion king-at-arms with the declaration of war from James IV., accompanied by the information that his master was already in the field, and had sent a fleet to the succour of the French king. Henry proudly replied that he left the Earl of Surrey to entertain James, who would know very well how to do it.


The French still continued to throw succours into Terouenne, in spite of the vigilance of the English. In this service no one was more active than the Duke of Angoulême, the heir-apparent to the crown, and afterwards Francis I. When the siege had lasted about six weeks, and the whole energy of the British army was roused to cut off these supplies of provisions and ammunition, the French advanced in great force to effect a diversion in favour of the place. A formidable display of cavalry issued from Blangy, and marched along the opposite bank of the Lis. As they approached Terouenne they divided into two bodies, one under Longueville, the other under the Duke of Alençon. Henry wisely followed the advice of Maximilian, who knew the country well, and had before this won two victories over the French in that very quarter. The troops were drawn out, and Maximilian crossed the river with his German horse and the English archers, also mounted on horseback. Henry followed with the infantry.

The French cavalry, who had won a high reputation for bravery and address in the Italian campaigns, charged the united army brilliantly; but speedily gave way and rode off. The English archers and German horse gave chase; the French fled faster and faster, till in hot pursuit they were driven upon the lines of the main body, and threw them into confusion. This was, no doubt, more than was intended; for the probable solution of the mystery is, that the retreat of the advanced body of cavalry was a feint, to enable the Duke of Alençon to seize the opportunity of the pursuit by[110] the English to throw the necessary supplies into the town. This he attempted. Dashing across the river, he made for the gates of the town, whence simultaneously was made an impetuous sally. But Lord Herbert met and beat back Alençon; and the Earl of Shrewsbury chased back the sallying party. In the meantime the feigned retreat of the decoy cavalry, by the brisk pursuit of the German and English horse, had become a real one. After galloping almost four miles before their enemies, they rushed upon their own main body with such fiery haste that they communicated a panic. All wheeled about to fly; the English came on with vehement shouts of "St. George!" "St. George!" The French commanders called in vain to their terror-stricken men to halt, and face the enemy; every man dashed his spurs into the flanks of his steed, and the huge army, in irretrievable confusion, galloped away, without striking a single blow. The officers, while using every endeavour to bring the terrified soldiers to a stand, soon found themselves abandoned and in the hands of the enemy. The Duke de Longueville, the famous Chevalier Bayard, Bussy d'Amboise, the Marquis of Rotelin, Clermont, and La Fayette, men of the highest reputation in the French army, were instantly surrounded and taken, with many other distinguished officers. La Palice and Imbrecourt were also taken, but effected their escape.

When these commanders, confounded by the unaccountable flight of their whole army, were presented to Henry and Maximilian, who had witnessed the sudden rout with equal amazement, Henry, laughing, complimented them ironically on the speed of their men, when the light-hearted Frenchmen, entering into the monarch's humour, declared that it was only a battle of spurs, for they were the only weapons that had been used. The Battle of Spurs has ever since been the name of this singular action, though it is sometimes called the Battle of Guinegate, from the place where the officers were met with. This event took place on the 16th of August.

The garrison of Terouenne, seeing that all hope of relief was now over, surrendered; but, instead of leaving a sufficient force in the place to hold it, Henry, at the artful suggestion of the emperor, who was anxious to destroy such a stronghold on the frontiers of his grandson Charles, Duke of Burgundy, first wasted his time in demolishing the fortifications of the town, and then, under the same mischievous counsel, perpetrated a still grosser error. Instead of marching on Paris, he sat down before Tournay, which Maximilian wished to secure for his grandson Charles. It fell after eight days' siege.

Here ended this extraordinary campaign, where so much had been prognosticated, and what was done should have only been the stepping-stones to infinitely greater advantages. But Henry entered the city of Tournay with as much pomp as if he had really entered into Paris instead. Wolsey received the promised wealthy bishopric, and Henry gratified his overweening vanity by his favourite tournaments and revelries. Charles, the young Duke of Burgundy, accompanied by his aunt Margaret, the Duchess-Dowager of Savoy, and Regent of the Netherlands, hastened to pay his respects to the English monarch, who had been so successfully fighting for his advantage.

During the reign of Henry VII., Charles had been affianced to Mary, the daughter of Henry, and sister of the present King of England. As he was then only four years of age, oaths had been plighted, and bonds to a heavy amount entered into by Henry and Maximilian for the preservation of the contract. The marriage was to take place on Charles reaching his fourteenth year. That time was now approaching; and, therefore, a new treaty was now subscribed, by which Maximilian, Margaret, and Charles were bound to meet Henry, Catherine, and Mary in the following spring to complete this union.

Meantime, the Swiss, discovering what sort of an ally they had got, entered into a negotiation with Tremouille, the Governor of Burgundy, who paid them handsomely in money, promised them much more, and saw them march off again to their mountains. Relieved from those dangerous visitants, Louis once more breathed freely. He concentrated his forces in the north, watched the movements of Henry VIII. with increasing satisfaction, and at length saw him embark for England with a secret resolve to accumulate a serious amount of difficulties in the way of his return. France had escaped from one of the most imminent perils of its history by the folly of the vainglorious English king. Yet he returned with all the assumption of a great conqueror, and utterly unconscious that he had been a laughing-stock and a dupe.

We have seen that James IV. of Scotland sent his declaration of war to Henry whilst he was engaged at the siege of Terouenne. Among the causes of complaint which James deemed he had against Henry was the refusal to deliver up the jewels left by Henry's father to the Queen Margaret of Scotland—a truly dishonest act on the[111] part of the English monarch, who, with all the wasteful prodigality peculiar to himself, inherited the avaricious disposition of his father. No sooner, therefore, did Henry set out for France, than James despatched a fleet with a body of 3,000 men to the aid of Louis, and by his herald at Terouenne, after detailing the catalogue of his own grievances, demanded that Henry should evacuate France. This haughty message received as haughty a reply, but James did not live to receive it.

In August, whilst Henry still lay before Terouenne, on the very same day that the Scottish herald left that place with his answer, the peace between England and Scotland was broken by Lord Home, chamberlain to King James, who crossed the Border, and made a devastating raid on the defenceless inhabitants. His band of marauders, on their return, loaded with plunder, was met by Sir William Bulmer, who slew 500 of them upon the spot, and took 400 prisoners. Called to action by this disaster, James collected on the Burghmuir, to the south of Edinburgh, such an army as, say the writers of the time, never gathered round a king of Scotland. Some state it at 100,000 men; the lowest calculation is 80,000.

James passed the Tweed on the 22nd of August, and on that and the following day encamped at Twizel-haugh. On the 24th, with the consent of his nobles, he issued a declaration that the heirs of all who were killed or who died in that expedition, should be exempt from all charges for wardship, relief, or marriage, without regard to their age. He then advanced up the right bank of the Tweed, and attacked the Border castle of Norham. This strong fortress was expected to detain the army some time, but the governor, rashly improvident of his ammunition, was compelled to surrender on the fifth day, August 29th. Wark, Etall, Heaton, and Ford Castles, places of no great consequence, soon followed the example of Norham. That accomplished, James fixed his camp on Flodden Hill, the east spur of the Cheviot Mountains, with the deep river Till flowing at his feet to join the neighbouring Tweed. In that strong position he awaited the approach of the English army.

The Earl of Surrey, commissioned by Henry on his departure expressly to arm the northern counties and defend the frontiers from an irruption of the Scots, no sooner heard of the muster of James on the Burghmuir, than he despatched messages to all the noblemen and gentlemen of those counties to assemble their forces, and meet him on the 1st of September at Newcastle-on-Tyne. He marched out of York on the 27th of August, and, though the weather was wet and stormy, and the roads consequently very bad, he marched day and night till he reached Durham. There he received the news that the Scots had taken Norham, which the commander had bragged he would hold against all comers till Henry returned from France. Receiving the banner of St. Cuthbert from the Prior of Durham, Surrey marched to Newcastle, where a council of war was held, and the troops from all parts were appointed to assemble on the 4th of September at Bolton, in Glendale, about twenty miles from Ford, where the Scots were said to be lying.

On the 4th of September, before Surrey had left Alnwick, which he had reached the evening before, he was joined, to his great encouragement, by his gallant son, Lord Thomas Howard, the Admiral of England, with a choice body of 5,000 men, whom Henry had despatched from France. From Alnwick the earl sent a herald to the Scottish king to reproach him with his breach of faith to his brother, the King of England, and to offer him battle on Friday, the 9th, if he dared to wait so long for his arrival.

On the 6th of September, the Earl of Surrey had reached Wooler-haugh, within three miles of the Scottish camp.

When Surrey came in sight, he was greatly struck with the formidable nature of James's position, and sent a messenger to him charging him with having shifted his ground after having accepted the challenge, and calling upon him to come down into the spacious plain of Millfield, where both armies could contend on more equal terms, the army of Surrey amounting to only 25,000 men. James, resenting this accusation, refused to admit the herald to his presence, but sent him word that he had sought no undue advantage, should seek none, and that it did not become an earl to send such a message to a king.

This endeavour to induce James by his high and often imprudent sense of honour to weaken his position not succeeding, on the 8th Surrey at the suggestion of his son the Lord Admiral adopted a fresh stratagem. He marched northward, sweeping round the hill of Flodden, crossed the Till near Twizel Castle, and thus placed the whole of his army between James and Scotland. From that point they directed their march as if intending to cross the Tweed, and enter Scotland. On the morning of Friday, the 9th, leaving their night halt at Barmoor Wood, they continued this course, till the Scots were greatly alarmed lest the English should plunder the fertile country of the[112] Merse, and they implored the king to descend and fight in defence of his country. Moved by these representations, and this being the day on which Surrey had promised to fight him, he ordered his army to set fire to their tents with all the litter and refuse of the camp, so as to make a great smoke, under which they might descend, unnoticed, on the English. But no sooner did the English perceive this, than also availing themselves of the obscurity of the smoke, they wheeled about, and made once more for the Till. As the reek blew aside, they were observed in the very act of crossing the narrow bridge of Twizel, and Robert Borthwick, the commander of James's artillery, fell on his knees and implored his sovereign to allow him to turn the fire of his cannon on the bridge, which he would destroy, and prevent the passage of Surrey's host. But James, with that romantic spirit of chivalry which seems to have possessed him to a degree of insanity, is said to have replied, "Fire one shot on the bridge, and I will command you to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. I will have all my enemies before me, and fight them fairly."

Thus the English host defiled over the bridge at leisure, and drew up in a long double line, consisting of a centre and two wings, with a strong body of cavalry, under Lord Dacre, in the rear. They beheld the Scots, in like form, descending the hill in solemn silence. The two conflicting armies came into action about four o'clock in the afternoon by the mutual discharge of their artillery. The thunder and concussion were terrific, but it was soon seen that the guns of the Scots being placed too high, their balls passed over the heads of their opponents, whilst those of the English, sweeping up the hill, did hideous execution, and made the Scots impatient to come to closer fight. The master gunner of Scotland was soon slain, his men were driven from their guns, whilst the shot of the English continued to strike into the heart of the battle. The left wing of the Scots, under the Earl of Huntly and Lord Home, came first into contact with the right wing of the English, and fighting on foot with long spears, they charged the enemy with such impetuosity, that Sir Edmund Howard, the commander of that wing, was borne down, his banner flung to the earth, and his lines broken into utter confusion. But at this moment Sir Edmund and his division were suddenly succoured by the Bastard Heron. This movement was supported by the advance of the second division of the English right wing, under the Lord Admiral, who attacked Home and Huntly, and these again were followed by the cavalry of Lord Dacre's reserve.

The Highlanders, under Home and Huntly, when they overthrew Sir Edmund Howard, imagined that they had won the victory, and fell eagerly to stripping and plundering the slain; but they soon found enough to do to defend themselves, and the battle then raged with desperate energy. At length the Scottish left gave way, and the Lord Admiral and the cavalry of Dacre next fell on the division under the Earls of Crawford and Montrose, both of whom were slain.

On the extreme right wing of the Scottish army fought the clans of the Macleans, the Mackenzies, the Campbells, and Macleods, under the Earls of Lennox and Argyle. These encountered the stout bowmen of Lancashire and Cheshire, under Sir Edward Stanley, who galled the half-naked Highlanders so intolerably with their arrows, that they flung down their targets, and dashed forward with claymore and axe pell-mell amongst the enemy. The French commissioner, De la Motte, who was present, astounded at this display of wild passion and savage insubordination, assisted by other French officers, shouted, stormed, and gesticulated to check the disorderly rabble, and restrain them in their ranks. In vain! The English, for a moment surprised by this sudden furious onslaught, yet kept their ranks unbroken, and, advancing like a solid wall, flung back their disintegrated assailants, swept them before them, and despatched them piece-meal. The Earls of Argyle and Lennox perished in the midst of their unmanageable men.

The two main bodies of the armies only were now left where James and Surrey were contending at the head of their troops, but with this difference, that the Scottish right and left were now unprotected, and those of James's centre were attacked on each side by the victorious right and left wings of the English. On one side Sir Edward Stanley charged with archers and pikemen, on the other Lord Howard, Sir Edmund Howard, and Lord Dacre were threatening with both horse and foot.




James and all his nobility about him in the main body were fighting on foot, and being clad in splendid armour, they suffered less from the English archers, who were opposed to them in the ranks of Surrey. On James's right hand fought his natural son, the accomplished Archbishop of St. Andrews. Soon the combatants became engaged hand to hand in deadly struggle with their swords, spears, pikes, and other instruments of death. Whilst hewing and cutting each other down in furious strife, face to face, life for life, showers of English arrows fell amid the Scottish ranks, and dealt terrible destruction to the less stoutly protected. When the Earls of Bothwell and Huntly rushed to the support of the main body on the one side, and Stanley, the Howards, and Dacre came to the aid of Surrey on the other, the strife became terrible beyond description, and the slaughter awful on every side of the environed Scots. Before the arrival of the reserves the Scots appeared at one time to have the best of it, and to be on the very edge of victory; and even after that James and the gallant band around him seemed to make a stupendous effort, as if they thought their sole hope was to force their way to Surrey and cut him down. James is said to have reached within a spear's length of him, when, after being twice wounded with arrows, he was despatched by a bill. This decided the day; the Scots, after suffering fearful losses, retreated next morning from the field, after holding Flodden Hill during the night.

When the news of the Scottish overthrow reached Edinburgh, it plunged the inhabitants into terrible grief and dismay. Women, weeping and seeking for tidings of their friends, thronged the streets. But the civic authorities kept their heads in the crisis. They ordered all the inhabitants capable of bearing arms to assemble for the defence at the tolling of a bell. Women and strangers were required to remain at their work and not to frequent the streets "clamorand and cryand;" while women of higher station were to repair to church, to offer up prayers "for our Sovereign Lord and his army, and the townsmen who are with the army." The crisis soon passed. No invasion was ever likely in view of the serious losses which the English themselves had suffered, and the city in due course regained its wonted aspect.

James IV., who fell at Flodden in the forty-first year of his age, and the twenty-fifth of his reign, was a prince of quick, generous, and chivalric character. Like his father, he had a taste for the arts, particularly those of civil and naval architecture; he built the great ship St. Michael, and several churches, and maintained a Court far superior in its elegance and refinement to that of any of his predecessors. On such a nature, Henry, by kind and even just treatment, might have operated so as to excite the most devoted friendship. As it was, a neighbouring nation, instead of a firm ally, had been made a more embittered enemy; its prince had been slain, and his kingdom left exposed, in the peculiar weakness of a long minority, to the ambitious cupidity of his royal uncle, whose overbearing designs only tended to defeat that union of the crowns which he was most anxious to ensure, and to perpetuate crimes, heartburnings, and troubles between the two governments, for two eventful generations yet to come. Henry, however, overlooking all these things, on returning home elate with his own useless campaign, and this brilliant but cruel victory, rewarded Surrey by restoring to him the title of Duke of Norfolk, forfeited by his father for his adherence to Richard III., and Lord Thomas Howard, his son, succeeded, for his part, to the title of Earl of Surrey, which had been his father's. Lord Herbert was made Earl of Somerset; and Sir Edward Stanley, Lord Monteagle. At the same time, his favourite, Sir Charles Brandon, Lord Lisle, the king elevated to the dignity of Duke of Suffolk. Wolsey, his growing clerical favourite, he made Bishop of Lincoln, in addition to his French bishopric of Tournay.

Henry VIII. had returned from the Continent as much inflated with the idea of his military greatness as if he had been Henry V.; his allies, in the meantime, were laughing in their sleeves at the success with which they had duped him. It was true that he had seriously distressed Louis, but it was for the benefit of those allies, who had all reaped singular advantages from Henry's campaign and heavy outlay. The Pope had got Italy freed from the French; Ferdinand of Spain had got Navarre, and leisure to fortify and make it safe; and Maximilian had got Terouenne, Tournay, and command of the French frontiers on the side of Flanders, with a fine pension from England. It was now time to see what acknowledgment those allies were likely to make him for his expensive services, and they did not permit him to wait long. While he had been so essentially obliging to the Pope, his Holiness had sent four bulls into his kingdom, by every one of which he had violated the statutes of the realm, especially that of Provisors, taking upon himself to nominate bishops and to command the persecution of heretics. The pontiff now went farther, and made a secret treaty with Louis of France, by which he removed the excommunication from Louis, and the interdict from his kingdom, on condition that Louis should withdraw his countenance from the schismatic council of cardinals; but knowing Henry's vain character, the Pope, to prevent him from expressing any[115] anger, sent him a consecrated sword and banner, with many fulsome compliments on his valour and royal greatness.

Henry's father-in-law, Ferdinand, was growing old, and having obtained all that he wanted—Navarre—was most ready to listen to Louis' proposals for peace. Louis tempted him by offering to marry his second daughter, Rénée, to his grandson Charles, and to give her as her portion his claim on the duchy of Milan. Ferdinand not only accepted with alacrity these terms, without troubling himself about what Henry might think of such treachery, but engaged to bring over Maximilian, Henry's ally and paid agent, but still the grandfather of Charles. When the news of these transactions, on the part of his trusty confederates, reached Henry, he was for a while incredulous, and then broke into a fury of rage. He complained that his father-in-law had been the first to involve him with France by his great promises and professions, not one of which he had kept, and now, without a moment's warning, had not only sacrificed his interests for his own selfish purposes, but had drawn over the Emperor of Germany, who lay under such signal obligations to him. He vowed the most determined revenge. Here was Maximilian, for whom he had conquered Terouenne and Tournay, whom he had subsidised to the amount of 200,000 crowns, and whose grandson Charles was affianced to his sister Mary, who had in a moment forgotten all these benefits and his engagement. As the time was come for the marriage of Charles and the Princess Mary, Henry sent a demand for its completion; Maximilian, who had already agreed to Louis' offer of his daughter Rénée, sent an evasive answer, and Henry's wrath knew no bounds. It was impossible for even his egregious vanity to blind him any longer to the extent to which he had been duped all round.

Louis, having thus destroyed Henry's confederacy of broken reeds, next took measures to secure a peace with him. The Duke of Longueville, who was one of the prisoners taken at the Battle of Spurs, was in London, and instructed by Louis, kept his ears open to Henry's angry denunciations of his perfidious allies. He represented to him that Anne, the Queen of France, being dead, there was a noble opportunity of avenging himself on these ungrateful princes, and of forming an alliance with Louis which would make them all tremble. Mary, the Princess of England, might become Queen of France, and thus a league be established between England and France which would decide the fate of Europe.

Henry's resentment and wounded honour would of themselves have made him close eagerly with this proposal; but he saw in it the most substantial advantages, and in a moment made up his mind. He had the policy, however, to appear to demur, and said his people would never consent for him to renounce his hereditary claims on France, which must be the case if such an alliance took place. They would ask themselves what equivalent they should obtain for so great a surrender. The shrewd Frenchman understood the suggestion; he communicated what passed to his Government, and proposals were quickly sent to meet Henry's views. Louis agreed to pay Henry a million crowns in discharge of all arrears due to Henry VII. from Charles VIII., &c.; and Henry engaged to give his sister a dower of 200,000 crowns, to pay the expenses of her journey, and to supply her with jewels—probably those of which he had defrauded the Scottish queen. The two kings agreed to assist each other, in case of any attack, by a force of 14,000 men, or, in case of any attack by either of them on another power, by half that number. This treaty was to continue for the lives of the two kings, and a year longer.

Thus was the Holy League, as it had been called, for the defence of the Pope and the Church against the King of France entirely done away with; and this great pretence was not so much as mentioned in any one of these treaties which put an end to it. The King of France strove hard to obtain Tournay again; but, though it was evidently Henry's interest to restore it, his favourite Wolsey, apprehensive of losing the profits of the bishopric, successfully opposed its restoration. Wolsey and Fox of Durham were Henry's plenipotentiaries for the management of the treaty, which was signed on the 7th of August, 1514.

By this treaty, Mary Tudor, Princess Royal of England, a remarkably beautiful young woman of sixteen, and passionately attached to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, the handsomest and most accomplished man of Henry's Court, was handed over to the worn-out Louis of France, who was fifty-three in years, and much older in constitution.

But this unnatural political mésalliance was not destined to be of long duration. Louis wrote in the course of December to Henry, expressing his happiness in possessing so excellent and amiable a[116] wife, and on the 1st of January he expired. The dissipation at Court, consequent on his marriage, is stated in the "Life of Bayard" to have precipitated his end. "For the good king, on account of his wife, had changed the whole manner of his life. He had been accustomed to dine at eight o'clock, now he had to dine at noon; he had been accustomed to retire to rest at six in the evening, and now he had often to sit up till midnight." Louis was greatly beloved by his subjects, who regarded him as a brave, upright, and wise prince, and gave him the honourable title of "the Father of his People." Mary promptly married her old lover, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Henry was angry at first, but the storm soon lulled. Wolsey is said to have been in the secret from the first, and such was his influence now, that a much more difficult matter would have given way before it. The young couple were received into favour, and ordered by Henry to be re-married before him at Greenwich—an event which took place on the 13th of May, 1515. So far was the part which Francis I. had taken in this matter from being resented, that he and Henry renewed all the engagements which existed between Louis and Henry, and so satisfactorily that they boasted that they had made a peace which would last for ever.

We have had frequent occasion already to introduce the name of Wolsey; we shall have still more frequent and more surprising occasion to repeat that name: and it is therefore necessary to take a complete view of the man who was now rapidly rising into a prominence before Europe and the world, such as has few examples in history, in one whose origin was as mean as his ascent was dazzling, and his fall sudden and irrevocable.

In the reign of Henry VII. we find first the name of Thomas Wolsey coming to public view as the private secretary of the king at the time of the forced visit of the Archduke Philip to the English Court. This originally obscure clergyman was born in 1471 at Ipswich, where his father was a wealthy butcher, and, therefore, could afford to give his son an education at the university. Probably the worthy butcher was induced to this step by a perception of the lad's uncommon cleverness, for at Oxford he displayed so much talent that he was soon distinguished by the title of the "Boy Bachelor." He became teacher of the grammar-school adjoining Magdalen College, and among his pupils were the sons of the Marquis of Dorset, on whom he so far won that he gave him the somewhat valuable living of Lymington, in Somersetshire. This might seem substantial promotion for the butcher's son, but an eagle, though hatched in the nest of a barn-door fowl, is sure to soar up towards the sun. Thomas Wolsey was not destined to the obscurity of a country parish. The same abilities and address which won him the favour of the marquis were capable of attracting far higher patrons.

Leaving his country parish, he seems to have been introduced to Fox, the Bishop of Winchester, and minister to Henry VII., who introduced him to the king, who was so much satisfied with him that he made him one of the royal chaplains. In this position the extraordinary talents and Court aptitude of Wolsey soon became apparent to the cautious old king. He employed him in sundry matters requiring secrecy and address. He was soon advanced to the deanery of Lincoln, and office of the king's almoner. Wolsey was Henry VII.'s envoy to the Duchess of Savoy when that amorous monarch had fallen in love with her fortune.

On the accession of Henry VIII., Wolsey rose still higher in the favour of the youthful monarch. Henry was but nineteen. Wolsey was forty; yet not a young gallant about the Court could so completely adapt himself to the fancy of the young pleasure-loving and power-loving king. In a very few months he was Henry's bosom friend—the associate in all his gaieties, the repository of all his secrets, the dispenser of all his favours, and, in reality, his only confidential minister. Henry seemed wrapped in admiration at the union of intellect and courtly accomplishment in the wonderful man. He gave him a grant of all deodands and forfeitures of felony, and went on continually adding to these other offices, benefices, and grants. In November, 1510, he was admitted a member of the Privy Council, and from that time he was really Prime Minister. Henry could move nowhere without his great friend and counsellor. He took him with him on his expedition to France in 1513, there conferred on him the wealthy bishopric of Tournay, and on his return made him Bishop of Lincoln, and gave him the opulent Abbey of St. Albans in commendam.

The ascent of Wolsey was now rapid. From the very commencement of his career at Court no man had been able to stand before him. Bishop Fox had first recommended his introduction into the Privy Council because, growing old himself, he perceived that the Earl of Surrey, afterwards conqueror of Flodden, and Duke of Norfolk, was winning higher favour with the king than the[117] ancient bishop; because his martial tastes and more courtly character were more attractive to Henry. Wolsey soon showed himself so successful that he not only cast Surrey, but his own patron, into the shade. In everything Wolsey could participate in the monarch's pursuits and amusements. Henry had already an ambition of literary and polemic distinction. He had studied the school divinity, and was an ardent admirer of Thomas Aquinas. Here Wolsey was quite at home; for he was a widely read man, and would, as a matter of course, soon refresh himself on any learned topic which was his master's hobby. While he flattered the young king's vanity, he was ready to contribute to his whims and his pleasures.

From the Portrait by Holbein

ARCHBISHOP WARHAM. (From the Portrait by Holbein.)

On the 14th of July, 1514, Leo X. addressed a letter to Henry, informing him that his ambassador, Cardinal Bambridge, the Archbishop of York, had died that day; and that, at the request of the deceased, he had promised not to appoint a successor till he had learnt the pleasure of his Majesty. This pleasure, there can be no doubt, was already known; and that the Pope, like every one now, perceiving the power of the favourite, was ready to conciliate him. The king at once named Wolsey to his Holiness, and showed that he was quite satisfied that that nomination would be confirmed by at once placing the archbishopric and all its revenues in the custody of the favourite. Thus was this great son of fortune at once possessed of the Archbishopric of York, the Bishoprics of Tournay and Lincoln, the administration of the[118] Bishoprics of Worcester, Hereford, and Bath, the possessors of which were Italians, who resided abroad, and were glad to secure a portion of their revenues by resigning to the native prelate the rest. Henry even allowed Wolsey, with the See of York, to unite that of Durham, as he afterwards did that of Winchester. The Pope, seeing more and more the marvellous influence of the man, before this year was out made him a cardinal. "For," says Hall, "when he was once archbishop, he studied day and night how to be a cardinal, and caused the king and the French king to write to Rome for him." Leo found a strong opposition amongst the cardinals to this promotion; but, desirous to oblige both Henry and Francis, he declared him a cardinal in full consistory, on September 11th.

My Lord Cardinal Wolsey almost immediately received a fresh favour from the Pope, who appointed him legate in England. This commission was originally limited to two years, but Wolsey never relinquished the office. He obtained from succeeding Popes a continuation of the post, asking from time to time even fresh powers, till he at length exercised within the realm almost all the prerogatives of the Pontiff. The only step above him now was the Papacy itself, and on that dignity he had already fixed his ambitious eye.

From the moment that Wolsey saw himself a cardinal and Papal legate, as well as chief favourite of the king, his ambition displayed itself without restraint, and we shall have to paint, in his career, one of the most amazing instances of the pride, power, and grandeur of a subject. When his cardinal's hat was brought to England, he sent a splendid deputation to meet the bearer of it at Blackheath, and to conduct him through London, as if he had been the Pope himself. He gave a reception of the hat in Westminster Hall, which more resembled a coronation than the official investiture of a subject and a clergyman. His arrogance and ostentation disgusted the king's old ministers and courtiers. The Duke of Norfolk, with all his military glory, found himself completely eclipsed, and absented himself from Court as much as possible, though he still held the office of Treasurer. Fox, the venerable Bishop of Winchester, who had been the means of introducing Wolsey, found himself superseded by him, and, resigning his office of Keeper of the Privy Seal, retired to his diocese. On taking his leave, the aged minister was bold enough to caution Henry not to make any of his subjects greater than himself, to which the bluff king replied that he knew how to keep his subjects in order. The resignation of Fox was followed by that of Archbishop Warham, who delivered the Great Seal on the 22nd of December, 1515, resigning his office of Chancellor. Henry immediately handed over the seal to Wolsey, who now stood on the pinnacle of power, almost alone. He was like a great tree which withered up every other tree which came within its shade, and even the kingly power itself seemed centred in his hands. For the next ten years he may be said to have reigned in England, and Henry himself to have been the nominal, and Wolsey the real king. Well might he, in addressing a foreign power, say, "Ego et rex meus:" "I and my king."

Whilst the great looked on all this grandeur in obsequious but resentful silence, the people settled it in their own minds that the wonderful power of the priest over the fiery nature of the monarch was the effect of sorcery. But Wolsey was no mean or ordinary man. His talents and his consummate address were what influenced the king, who was proud of the magnificence which was at once his creation and his representative; and Wolsey had a grasp, an expanse, and an elevation in his ambition, which had something sublime in them. Though he was in the receipt of enormous revenues, he had no paltry desire to hoard them. He employed them in this august state and mode of living, which he regarded as reflecting honour on the monarch whose chief minister he was, and on the Church in which he held all but the highest rank. He devoted his funds liberally to the promoting of literature. He sent learned men to foreign courts to copy valuable manuscripts, which were made accessible by his vast influence. He built Hampton Court Palace, a residence fit only for a monarch, and presented it to Henry as a gift worthy such a subject to such a king. He built a college at Ipswich, his native place, and was in the course of erecting Christ Church at Oxford when his career was so abruptly closed. Besides that, he endowed seven lectureships in Oxford.

The peace which Henry had made with the young monarch of France was not destined to be of long continuance. Francis I. soon had the misfortune to offend both Henry and Wolsey, and in their separate interests. James IV. of Scotland had left by his will the regency of his kingdom to his widow. The Convention of the States confirmed this arrangement, but on condition that the queen remained unmarried. James V., her son, of whom she was to retain the guardianship, was on his father's death an infant of only a year-and-a-half old. In less than seven months after the death of her husband, Margaret was delivered of a second son, Alexander, Duke of Ross; and in less than three months after that she married, in defiance of the Convention of the States, Douglas, Earl of Angus, a young man of handsome person, but of an ambitious and headstrong character. This marriage gave great offence to a large number of the nobility, especially those who had a leaning to France. They asserted that Henry of England, the queen's brother, notwithstanding that he had deprived her of her husband, and notwithstanding her difficult position as the widowed mother of an infant king, so far from supporting her, took every opportunity to attack her borders. They therefore recommended that they should recall from France John, Duke of Albany, the son of Alexander, who had been banished by his brother James III., and place the regency in his hands. Albany, though of Scottish origin, was a Frenchman by birth, education, and taste. He had not a foot of land in Scotland, but in France he had extensive demesnes, and stood high in favour of the monarch.

By permission, from the Painting in the City of London Corporation Art Gallery. By Sir John Gilbert

By permission, from the Painting in the City of London Corporation Art Gallery.


By Sir John Gilbert, R.A., P.R.W.S.


At the head of the party in opposition to the queen was Lord Home, on whose conduct at Flodden aspersions had been cast. By him and his party it was that Albany was invited to Scotland. Henry was greatly alarmed at this proposition, and for some time the fear of a breach induced Francis I. to restrain Albany from accepting the offer. Yet in May, 1515, Albany made his appearance in Scotland. He found that kingdom in a condition which required a firm and determined hand to govern it. The nobility, always turbulent, and kept in order with difficulty by the strongest monarchs, were now divided into two factions, for and against the queen and her party. Lord Home, by whom Albany had chiefly been invited, had the ill-fortune to be represented to Albany, immediately on his arrival, as, so far from a friend, one of the most dangerous enemies of legitimate authority in the kingdom. Home, apprised of this representation, and of its having taken full effect on the mind of Albany, threw himself into the party of the queen, and urged her to avoid the danger of allowing the young princes to fall into the hands of Albany, who was the next heir to the crown after them, and was, according to his statement, a most dangerous and ambitious man. Moved by these statements, Margaret determined to escape to England with her sons, and put them under the powerful protection of their uncle Henry.

Henry had himself made similar representations to her, for nothing would suit his views on the crown of Scotland so well as to have possession of the infant heirs. But Albany was quickly informed of the queen's intentions; he besieged the castle of Stirling, where she resided with the infant princes, compelled her to surrender, and obtaining possession of the princes, placed them in the keeping of three lords appointed by Parliament. Margaret herself, accompanied by her husband Angus, and Lord Home, succeeded in escaping to England, where she was delivered of a daughter.

The part which Francis I. evidently had in permitting the passage of Albany to Scotland, and in supporting his party there, had given great offence to Henry. He sent strong remonstrances through his ambassador to Francis, complaining that Albany had been permitted to leave France and usurp the government of Scotland, contrary to the treaty; and that by this means the Queen of Scotland, the sister of the King of England, had been driven from the regency of the kingdom and the guardianship of her children. Francis I. endeavoured to pacify Henry by assurances that Albany's conduct had received no countenance from him, but that he had stolen away at the urgent solicitation of a strong body of nobles in Scotland. Henry was not convinced, but there was nothing to be obtained by further remonstrances, for Francis was at this moment at the head of a powerful army, while Henry, having spent his father's hoards, was not in a condition for a fresh war without the sanction of Parliament.

Francis was bent on prosecuting the vain scheme of the conquest of Milan, which had already cost his predecessors and France so much. He had entered into alliance with Venice and Genoa, and trusted to be able easily to overcome Maximilian Sforza the native Prince; Sforza, on his part, depended upon the support of the Pope and the Swiss. Francis professed, in the first place, that his design was to chastise the hostile Swiss. These hardy people had fortified those passes in the Alps by which they calculated that the French would attempt to pass towards Milan, but Francis made his way with 60,000 troops over the mountains in another direction, a large part of his army taking the way to the left of Mount Genèvre, a route never essayed by any army before. The Swiss mercenaries in the service of Sforza, thus taken by surprise, were rapidly defeated by the French, and were on the point of capitulation, when their countrymen, who had been watching to intercept Francis and his army,[120] seeing that he had stolen a march upon them, descended from their mountains, 20,000 strong, and came to the relief of their countrymen under the walls of Milan. At Marignano, Francis won a great victory over them on September 13th, 1515.

The effect at the English Court of this brilliant success was to heighten extremely that discontent with Francis which Henry had shown at the very moment that the chivalric young French king had set out for Italy. Henry, who was ambitious of military renown, was stung to the quick by it, and his envious mood was artfully aggravated by the suggestions of Wolsey.

On the 12th of November, 1515, Parliament was summoned to meet. Henry had caught a very discouraging glimpse of the iron at the bottom of his father's money-chests, and was, therefore, obliged to ask supplies from his subjects. His application does not appear to have been successful, and Parliament was therefore dissolved on the 22nd of December, and was never called again till the 31st of July, 1523, an interval of eight years. A Parliament which would not grant money was not likely to be a very favourite instrument with Henry, and this still less so, because it had involved him in a contention with the Convocation. The Convocation had dared to claim exemption for the clergy from the jurisdiction of the secular courts. The clergy in Henry's interest resisted this claim; it was brought before Parliament, and both the Lords and Commons, as well as the judges, decided against the Convocation. Henry, who was at once as fond of power and as bigoted as the Church, found himself in a most embarrassing dilemma, but declared that he would maintain the prerogatives of the Crown, and was glad to get rid of the dispute by the dismissal of Parliament.

On the 8th of February, 1516, Queen Catherine gave birth to a daughter, who was named Mary, and who survived to wear the crown of England. In the previous month died the queen's father, Ferdinand of Spain, one of the most cunning, grasping, and unprincipled monarchs that ever lived, but who had by his Machiavelian schemes united Spain into one great and compact kingdom, and whose sceptre Providence had extended, by the discovery of Columbus, over new and wonderful worlds. His grandson Charles, already in possession of the territories of the house of Burgundy, and heir to those of Austria, succeeded him, as Charles V. Henry had just entered into a commercial treaty with Charles, as regarded the Netherlands, and perceiving the vast power and greatness which must centre in Charles—for on the death of Maximilian, who was now old, he would also become Emperor of Germany—he was anxious to unite himself with him in close bonds of interest and intimacy. To this end, he gave a commission to Wolsey, assisted by the Duke of Norfolk and the Bishop of Durham, to cement and conclude a league with the Emperor Maximilian and Charles, the avowed object of which was to combine for the defence of the Church, and to restrain the unbridled ambition of certain princes—meaning Francis.

The sordid Emperor Maximilian, who had so often and so successfully made his profit out of the vanity of Henry, seeing him so urgent to cultivate the favour of his grandson Charles, thought it a good opportunity to draw fresh sums from him. Maximilian was now tottering towards his grave, but he was not the less desirous to pave his way to it with gold. In a confidential conversation, therefore, with Sir Robert Wingfield, the English ambassador at his Court, he delicately dropped a hint that he was grown weary of the toils and cares attending the Imperial office. Pursuing the theme, he pretended great admiration for the King of England; he declared that amongst all the princes of Christendom, he could see none who was so fitted to succeed him in his high office, and at the same time become the champion and protector of Holy Church against its enemies. He therefore proposed to adopt Henry as his son, for a proper consideration. According to his plan, Henry was to cross the Channel with an army. From Tournay he was to march to Trèves, where Maximilian was to meet him, and resign the empire to him, with all the necessary formalities. Then the united army of English and Germans was to invade France, and, whilst they thus sufficiently occupied the attention of Francis, Henry and Maximilian, with another division, were to march upon Italy, crossing the Alps at Coire, to take Milan, and, having secured that city, make an easy journey to Rome, where Henry was to be crowned emperor by the Pope.

In this wild-goose scheme—which equally ignored the fact that Charles V. was the grandson of Maximilian, heir of his kingdom, and therefore neither by the natural affection of the emperor, nor by the will of his subjects, likely to be set aside for a King of England; and the difficulty, the impossibility almost, of the accomplishment of the enterprise by two such monarchs as Maximilian and Henry—only one thing was palpable, that Maximilian would give his blessing to[121] the stipulated son for these impossible honours, and then would as quickly find a reason for abandoning the extravagant scheme as he had already done that of taking Milan. Yet it is certain that, for the moment, it seized on the imagination of Henry, and he despatched the Earl of Worcester and Dr. Tunstall, afterwards Bishop of Durham, to the Imperial Court, to settle the conditions of this notable scheme. Tunstall, who was not only an accomplished scholar, but a solid and shrewd thinker, no sooner reached the Court of Maximilian than he saw at a glance the hollowness of the plot and of the Imperial plotter. He, as well as Dr. Richard Pace, the ambassador at Maximilian's Court, quickly and honestly informed Henry that it was a mere scheme to get money.


These honest and patriotic statements perfectly unmasked the wily old Maximilian, and Henry escaped the snare. Francis I., having also now secured the duchy of Milan, set himself to conciliate two persons whose amity was necessary to his future peace and security. These were the Pope and Henry of England. The balance of power on the Continent, it was clear, would lie between Francis and Charles V., the King of Spain. On the death of Maximilian, Charles would be ruler of Austria, and, in all probability, Emperor of Germany. It would be quite enough for Francis to contend with the interests of Charles, whose dominions would then stretch from Austria, with the Imperial power of Germany, through the Netherlands to France, and reappear on the other boundary of France, in Spain, without having that gigantic dominion backed by the co-operation of England. Francis had seen with alarm the cultivation of friendship recently between these two formidable neighbours. To counteract these influences, the French king whilst in Italy had an interview with the Pope at Bologna, where he so won upon his regard that the Pontiff agreed to drop all opposition to the possession of Milan by the French.

Having secured himself in this quarter, Francis returned to France, and knowing well that the only way to the good graces of Henry was through the all-powerful Cardinal Wolsey, he caused his ambassador in England to endeavour to win the favour of the great minister. This was not to be[122] done otherwise than by substantial contributions to his avarice, and promises of service in that greatest project of Wolsey's ambition, the succession to the Popedom. Wolsey was at this time in the possession of the most extraordinary power in England. His word was law with both king and subject. To him all men bowed down, and while he conferred favours with regal hand, he did not forget those who had offended him in the days of his littleness. Not only English subjects, but foreign monarchs sought his favour with equal anxiety. The young King of Spain, to secure him to his views, and knowing his grudge against the King of France, conferred on him a pension of 3,000 livres a year, styling him, in the written grant, "his most dear and especial friend."

Thus were the kings of Spain and France paying humble homage to this proud churchman and absolute minister of England at the same moment. But Francis felt that he must outbid the King of Spain, and he resolved to do it. He commenced, then, by reminding him how sincerely he had rejoiced at his elevation to the cardinalate, and how greatly he desired the continuance and increase of their friendship, and promised him whatever it was in his power to do for him. These were mighty and significant words for the man who could signally aid him in his designs on the Popedom, and who could settle all difficulties and doubts about the bishopric of Tournay, hitherto such a stumbling-block between them. The letters of Francis were spread with the most skilful, if not the most delicate flatteries; he called him his lord, his father, and his guardian, told him he regarded his counsels as oracles; and whilst they increased the vanity of the cardinal most profusely, he accompanied his flatteries by presents of many extremely valuable and curious things.

Being assured by Villeroi, his resident ambassador at London, that the cardinal lent a willing ear to all these things, Francis instructed the ambassador to enter at once into private negotiation with Wolsey for the restoration of Tournay, and an alliance between the two crowns. This alliance was to be cemented by the affiancing of Henry's daughter, Mary, then about a year-and-a-half old, to the infant dauphin of France, but recently born! The price which Wolsey was to receive for these services being satisfactorily settled between himself and Francis, the great minister broke the matter to his master in a manner which marks the genius of the man, and his profound knowledge of Henry's character. He presented some of the superb articles which Francis had sent him to the king, saying, "With these things hath the King of France attempted to corrupt me. Many servants would have concealed this from their masters, but I am resolved to deal openly with your grace on all occasions. This attempt, however," added he, "to corrupt a servant is a certain proof of his sincere desire for the friendship of the master." Oh! faithful servant! Oh! open and incorruptible man! Henry's vanity was so flattered that he took in every word, and looked on himself as so much the greater prince to have a minister thus admired and courted by the most powerful monarchs.

The way to negotiation was now entirely open. Francis appointed William Gouffier, Lord of Bonivet, Admiral of France; Stephen Ponchier, Bishop of Paris; Sir Francis de Rupecavarde and Sir Nicholas de Neuville his plenipotentiaries. They set out with a splendid train of the greatest lords and ladies of France, attended by a retinue of 1,200 officers and servants. Francis knew that the way to ensure Henry's favourable attention was to compliment him by the pomp and splendour of his embassy. The French plenipotentiaries were introduced to Henry at Greenwich, on the 22nd of September, 1518, and Wolsey was appointed to conduct the business on the part of the King of England. When they went to business the ambassadors of Francis prepared the way for the greater matters by producing a grant, already prepared, and, therefore, clearly agreed upon beforehand, which they presented to Wolsey, securing him a pension of 12,000 livres a year, in compensation for the cession of the bishopric of Tournay. This was a direct and palpable bribe; but there was no troublesome and meddlesome Opposition in the House of Commons in those days to demand the production of papers, and the impeachment of corrupt ministers. With such a beginning the terms of treaty were soon settled. They embraced four articles:—A general contract of peace and amity betwixt the two kings and their successors, for ever; a treaty of marriage betwixt the two little babies, the Dauphin and Mary Tudor; the restitution of Tournay to France for 600,000 crowns; and, lastly, an agreement for a personal interview between the two monarchs, which was to take place on neutral ground between Calais and Ardres, before the last day of July, 1519.

But while Wolsey was deeply occupied in his plans and preparations for the royal meeting, an event occurred which for a time arrested the attention of Europe. This was the death of the Emperor Maximilian, and the vacancy in the[123] Imperial office. Francis I. and Charles of Spain were the two candidates for its occupation, and the rivalry of these two monarchs seems to have again awakened in Henry the same wish, though the plain statements of Bishop Tunstall had for a time suppressed it. He despatched a man of great learning, Dr. Richard Pace, to Germany, to see whether there were in reality any chance for him. The reports of Pace soon extinguished all hope of such event, and Henry, with a strange duplicity, then sent off his "sincere longings for success" to both of the rival candidates, Francis and Charles!

Francis declared to Henry's ambassador, Sir Thomas Boleyn, that he would spend three millions of gold, but he would win the Imperial crown; but though the German electors were notoriously corrupt, and ready to hold out plausible pretences to secure as much of any one's money as they could, from the outset there could be no question as to who would prove the successful candidate. The first and indispensable requisite for election was, that the candidate must be a native of Germany, and subject of the Empire, neither of which Francis was, and both of which Charles was. Charles was not only grandson of Maximilian, and his successor to the throne of Austria, and therefore of a German royal house, but he was sovereign of the Netherlands, which were included in the universal German empire.

Even where Francis placed his great strength—the power of bribing the corrupt German electors, the petty princes of Germany, for the people had no voice in the matter—Charles was infinitely beyond him in the power of bribery. He was now monarch of Spain, of the Netherlands, of Naples and Sicily, of the Indies, and of the gold regions of the newly-discovered America. Nor was Francis at all a match for Charles in the other power which usually determines so much in these contests—that of intrigue. Francis was open, generous, and ardent; Charles cool, cautious, and, though young, surrounded by ministers educated in the school of the crafty Ferdinand and the able Ximenes to every artifice of diplomatic cunning. Still more, the vulpine Maximilian, at the very time that he was attempting to wheedle Henry of England out of his money, on pretence of securing the Imperial dignity for him, had paved the way for his own grandson, by assiduous exertions and promises amongst the electors—promises which Charles was amply able to fulfil. Accordingly, after a lavish distribution of both French and Spanish gold amongst the elector-princes of Germany, Charles was declared emperor on the 28th of June, 1519. Francis, though he professed to carry off his disappointment with all the gaiety of a Frenchman, was deeply and lastingly chagrined by the event; and though he and Charles must, under any circumstances, have been rivals for the place of supremacy on the Continent of Europe, there is no doubt that this circumstance struck much deeper the feeling which led to that gigantic struggle between them, which, during their lives, kept Europe in a constant state of warfare and agitation.

Both Charles and Francis were intensely anxious to secure the preference of Henry, because his weight thrown into either balance must give it a dangerous preponderance. Both, therefore, paid assiduous court to him, and still more, though covertly, to his all-powerful minister, Wolsey. Francis, aware of the impulsive temperament of Henry, prayed for an early fulfilment of the visit agreed upon of Henry to France. It was decided that the interview should take place in May. The news of this immediately excited the jealousy of Charles, and his ambassadors in London expressed great dissatisfaction at the proposal. Wolsey found he had a difficult part to play, for he had great expectations from both monarchs, and he took care to make such representations to each prince in private, as to persuade him that the real affection of England lay towards him, the public favour shown to the rival monarch being only a matter of political expedience. When the Spanish ambassadors found they could not put off the intended interview, they proposed a visit of their master to the King of England previously, on his way from Spain to Germany. This was secretly arranged with the cardinal, but was to be made to appear quite an unpremeditated occurrence.

Accordingly, before the king set out for Calais, Charles, according to the secret treaty with Wolsey, sent that minister a grant under his privy seal, from the revenue of the two bishoprics of Badajoz and Placentia, of 7,000 ducats. Henry set forward from London to Canterbury, on his way towards Dover and Calais, attended by his queen and court, with a surprising degree of splendour. Whilst lying there, he was surprised, as it was made to appear, by the news that the emperor had been induced by his regard for the king to turn aside on his voyage towards his German dominions, and had anchored in the port of Hythe, on the 26th of May, 1520. As soon as this news reached Henry, he despatched Wolsey to receive the emperor and conduct him to the[124] castle of Dover, and Henry himself set out and rode by torchlight to Dover, where he arrived in the middle of the night. It must have been a hospitably inconvenient visit at that hour, for Charles, fatigued by his voyage, had gone to bed, and was awoke from a sound sleep by the noise and bustle of the king's arrival. He arose, however, and met Henry at the top of the stairs, where the two monarchs embraced, and Henry bade his august relative welcome. The next day, being Whitsunday, they went together to Canterbury, the king riding with the emperor on his right hand, the Earl of Derby carrying before them the sword of State.

From the cathedral the emperor was conducted by his royal host to the palace of the archbishop, where he was for the time quartered. For three days the archiepiscopal palace was a scene of the gayest festivities; nothing was omitted by Henry to do honour to his august relative; and nothing on the part of Charles to win upon Henry, and detach him from the interests of France. Nor the less assiduously did the politic emperor exert himself to secure the services of Wolsey. He saw that ambition was the great passion of the cardinal, and he adroitly infused into his mind the hope of reaching the Popedom through his influence and assistance. Nothing could bind Wolsey like this fascinating anticipation. Leo X. was a much younger man than himself; but this did not seem to occur to the sanguine spirit of the cardinal, for "all men think all men mortal but themselves;" whilst to Charles the circumstance made his promise peculiarly easy, as he could scarcely expect to be called upon to fulfil it.

On the fourth day Charles embarked at Sandwich for the Netherlands, less anxious regarding the approaching interview of Henry and Francis, for he had made an ardent impression on the king, and had put a strong hook into the nose of his great leviathan—the hope of the triple crown. Simultaneously with the departure of Charles, Henry, his queen and court, embarked at Dover for Calais; and on the 4th of June, 1520, Henry, with his queen, the Queen Dowager of France, and all his court, rode on to Guines, where 2,000 workmen, most of them clever artificers from Holland and Flanders, had been busily engaged for several months in erecting a palace of wood for their reception.

The meeting-place was called, from the splendour of the retinues of the two monarchs, the "Field of the Cloth of Gold," but it did little to cement the alliance between England and France.

On the 25th of June the English Court returned to Calais; half the followers of the nobles were sent home, and then preparations were made for visiting the emperor at Gravelines, and receiving a visit from him at Calais. By the 10th of July all was ready, and Henry set out with a splendid retinue. He was met on the way, and conducted into Gravelines by Charles, with every circumstance of honour and display. Charles, whose object was avowedly to efface any impression which Francis and the French might have made on the mind of Henry at the late interview, had given orders to receive the English with every demonstration of friendship and hospitality, and his orders were so well executed that the English were enchanted with their visit.

On the departure of Charles, Henry and his court embarked for Dover, returning proud of his sham prowess and mock battles, and of all his finery, but both himself and his followers loaded with a fearful amount of debt for this useless and hypocritical display. When the nobles and gentlemen got home, and began to reflect coolly on the heavy responsibilities they had incurred for their late showy but worthless follies, they could not help grumbling amongst themselves, and even blaming Wolsey, as loudly as they dared, as being at the bottom of the whole affair. One amongst them was neither nice nor cautious in his expressions of chagrin at the ruinous and foolish expense incurred, and denounced the proud cardinal's ambition as the cause of it all. This was the Duke of Buckingham. He was executed in 1521 on the absurd charge of having intercourse with astrologers.

The various causes of antipathy between Francis I. and Charles V., which had been long fomenting, now reached that degree of activity when they must burst all restraint. War was inevitable. The first breach was made by Francis. At this crisis Charles appealed to Henry to act as mediator, according to the provisions of the treaty of 1518. Henry at once accepted the office, and entered upon it with high professions of impartiality and of his sincere desire to promote justice and amity, but really with about the same amount of sincerity as was displayed by each of the contending parties. Francis had certainly been the aggressor, and Charles, having intercepted some of his letters, had already convinced Henry, to whom he had shown them, that the invasion of both Spain and Flanders was planned in the French cabinet. Henry's mind, therefore, was already made up[125] before he assumed the duty of deciding; and Charles, from being aware of this, proposed his arbitration. Henry, moreover, was anxious to invade France on his own account, spite of treaties and the dallyings of the Field of the Cloth of Gold, but he had not yet the funds necessary. With these feelings and secrets in his own heart, Henry opened his proposal of arbitration to Francis by declarations of the extraordinary affection which he had contracted for him at the late interview.[126]

After the Portrait by Holbein

HENRY VIII. (After the Portrait by Holbein.)

There was no alternative for the French king but to acquiesce in the proposal; the place of negotiations was appointed to be Calais, and, of course, Wolsey was named as the only man able and fitting to decide between two such great monarchs—Wolsey, who was bound hand and foot to the emperor by the hope of the Popedom. It was a clear case that Francis must be victimised, or the negotiation must prove abortive. Wolsey set out with something more than regal state to decide between the kings. In addition to his dignity of Papal legate a latere, he received the extraordinary powers of creating fifty counts-palatine, fifty knights, fifty chaplains, and fifty notaries; of legitimising bastards, and conferring the degree of doctor in medicine, law, and divinity. By another bull, he was empowered to grant licences to such as he thought proper to read the heretical works of Martin Luther, in order that some able man, having read them, might refute them. This was to pave the way for a royal champion of the Catholic Church against Luther and the devil, and that such a champion was already at work we shall shortly have occasion to show. Such were the pomp and splendour of the cardinal, that when he continued his journey into the Netherlands, with his troops of gentlemen attending him, clad in scarlet coats, with borders of velvet of a full hand's breadth, and with massive gold chains: when they saw him served on the knee by these attendants, and expending money with the most marvellous profusion, Christian, King of Denmark, and other princes then at the Court of the Emperor at Bruges, were overwhelmed with astonishment, for such slavish homage was not known in Germany.

Wolsey landed at Calais on the 2nd of July, 1521, and was received with great reverence. The ambassadors of the emperor had taken care to be there first, that they might secretly settle with Wolsey all the points to be insisted on. The French embassy arrived the next day, and the discussions were at once entered upon with all that air of solemn impartiality and careful weighing of propositions which such conferences assume, when the real points at issue have been determined upon privately beforehand by the parties who mean to carry out their own views. The French plenipotentiaries alleged that the emperor had broken the treaty of Noyon of 1516, by retaining possession of Navarre, and by neglecting to do homage for Flanders and Artois, fiefs of the French crown. On the other hand, the Imperial representatives retorted on the French the breach of the treaty of Noyon, and denounced in strong terms the late invasion of Spain and the clandestine support given to the Duke of Bouillon. The cardinal laboured to bring the fiery litigants to terms, but the demands of the emperor were purposely pitched so high that it was impossible. The differences became only the more inflamed; and on the Imperial chancellor, Gattinara, declaring that he could not concede a single demand made by his master, and that he came there to obtain them through the aid of the King of England, who was bound to afford it by the late treaty, Wolsey said that there, of necessity, his endeavours must end, unless the emperor could be induced to modify his expectations; and that, as his ambassador had no power to grant such modification, rather than all hope of accommodation should fail, he would himself take the trouble to make a journey to the Imperial Court, and endeavour to procure better terms. Nothing could appear more disinterested on the part of the cardinal, but the French ambassadors were struck with consternation at the proposal. They were too well aware of the cardinal's leaning towards Charles; they did not forget the coquetting of the English and the emperor both before and after the meeting at the Field of the Cloth of Gold; and they opposed this proposal of Wolsey with all their power. But their opposition was useless. There can be no doubt that the prime object of Wolsey in his embassy was to make this visit to Charles for his own purpose, and that it had been agreed upon between himself and Charles before he left London. In vain the French protested that such a visit, made by the umpire in the midst of the conference to one of the parties concerned, was contrary to all ideas of the impartiality essential to a mediator; and they declared that, if the thing was persisted in, they would break off the negotiation and retire. But Wolsey told them that if they did not remain at Calais till his return, he would pronounce them in the wrong, as the real aggressors in the war, and the enemies to peace and to the King of England. There was nothing for it but to submit.

The cardinal set out on his progress to Bruges on the 12th of August, attended by the Imperial ambassadors and a splendid retinue of prelates,[127] nobles, knights, and gentlemen, amounting altogether to 400 horsemen. The emperor met him a mile out of Bruges, and conducted him into the city in a kind of triumph. Thirteen days—a greater number than had been occupied at Calais—were spent in the pretended conferences for reducing the emperor's demands on France, but in reality in strengthening Wolsey's interest with Charles for the Popedom, and in settling the actual terms of a treaty between Charles, the Pope, and the King of England for a war against France. So deep was the hypocrisy of these parties, that before Wolsey had quitted the shores of England he had received a commission from Henry investing him with full authority to make a treaty of confederacy with the Pope, the emperor, the King of France, or any other potentate, offensive or defensive, which the king bound himself to ratify; the words "King of France, or other king, prince, or state," being clearly inserted to cover with an air of generality the particular design. The proposed marriage between the Dauphin and the Princess Mary was secretly determined to be set aside, and a marriage between Charles and that princess was agreed upon; and, moreover, it was settled that Charles should pay another visit to England on his voyage to Spain. Writing from Bruges to Henry, Wolsey told him all this, and added that it was to be kept a profound secret till Charles came to England, so that, adds Wolsey, "convenient time may be had to put yourself in good readiness for war."

After all this scandalous treachery—called in State language diplomacy—Wolsey returned to Calais, and resumed the conferences, as if he were the most honest man in the world, and was serving two kings about as honest as himself. He proposed to the plenipotentiaries a plan of a pacification, the conditions of which he knew the French would never accept. All this time hostilities were going on between Francis and the emperor. The emperor had taken Mouzon and laid siege to Mézières, and Francis, advancing, raised the siege, but was checked in his further pursuit of the enemy by the Count of Nassau. At this crisis Wolsey interposed, insisting that the belligerents should lay down their arms, and abide the award of King Henry; but this proposal was by no means likely to be met with favour on the part of the French, after what had been going on at Bruges, and therefore Wolsey pronounced that Francis was the aggressor, and that Henry was bound by the treaty to aid the emperor.

This was but a very thin varnish for the proceedings which immediately took place at Calais, and revealed the result of the interview at Bruges, in an avowed treaty between the Pope, the emperor, and Henry, by which they arranged—in order to promote an intended demonstration against the Turks, and to restrain the ambition of Francis—that the three combined powers should, in the spring of 1523, invade France simultaneously from as many different quarters; that, if Francis would not conclude a peace with the emperor on the arrival of Charles in England, Henry should declare war against France, and should break off the proposed marriage between the Dauphin and the Princess Mary.

In the meantime, the united forces of the Pope and Charles had prevailed in Italy, and expelled the French from Milan; the emperor had made himself master of Tournay, for which Francis had lately paid so heavy a price, and all the advantages that the French could boast of in the campaign to balance these losses were the capture of the little fortresses of Hesdin and Bouchain. Wolsey landed at Dover on the 27th of November, after the discharge of these important functions, having laid the foundation of much trouble to Europe, by destroying the balance of power between France, the Empire, and Spain, which it was the real interest of Henry to have maintained; and having equally inconvenienced the Government at home by carrying the Great Seal with him, so that those who had any business with it were obliged to go over to Calais, and so that there could be no nomination of sheriffs that year. But his power at this period was unlimited, and nothing could open Henry's eyes to his mischievous and inflated pride—not even his placing himself wholly on a par with the king in the treaty just signed, when he made himself a joint-guarantee, as if he had been a crowned head.

Wolsey had laboured assiduously and unscrupulously for Charles V. in furtherance of his own ambitious views. What convulsions disorganised Europe, what nations suffered or triumphed, troubled him not, so long as he could pave the way to the Papal chair. The time which was to test the gratitude of Charles came much sooner than any one had anticipated. Leo X., who was in the prime of life, elated with the expulsion of the French from Italy, was occupied in celebrating the triumph with every kind of public rejoicing. The moment he heard of the fall of Milan he ordered a Te Deum, and set off from his villa of Magliana to[128] Rome, which he entered in triumph; but that very night he was seized with a sudden illness, and on the 1st of December, but a few days afterwards, it was announced that he was dead, at the age of only forty-six. Strong suspicions of poison were entertained, and it was believed that it had been administered by his favourite valet, Bernabo Malaspina, who was supposed to have been bribed to it by the French party.

The news of Leo's death travelled with speed to England, and Wolsey, who, amid all his secret exertions to attain the Papal tiara, had declared with mock humility that he was too unworthy for so great and sacred a station, now threw off his garb of indifference, and despatched Dr. Pace to Rome, with the utmost celerity, to promote his election; and he sent to put the emperor in mind of his promises. On the 27th of December the conclave commenced its sittings. Another of the Medici family, Cardinal Giulio, appeared to have the majority of votes, but for twenty-three days the election remained undecided. The French cardinals opposed Giulio with all the persevering virulence of enemies smarting under national defeat. Numbers of others were opposed to electing a second member of the same family, and Giulio, growing impatient of the stormy and interminable debates which kept him from attending to pressing affairs out of doors, suddenly nominated Cardinal Adrian, a Belgian. This extraordinary stroke was supposed to be intended merely to prolong the time, till Giulio could throw more force into his own party; but Cardinal Cajetan, a man of great art and eloquence, who knew and admired the writings of Adrian, and had probably suggested his name to Giulio, advocated his election with such persuasive power, that Adrian, though a foreigner, and personally unknown, was carried almost by acclamation. And thus, as Lingard observes, within nine years from the time when Julius drove the barbarians out of Italy, a barbarian was seated as his successor on the Papal throne.

The cardinals had no sooner elected the new Pope than they appeared to wake from a dream, and wondered at their own work. The act appeared to be one of those sudden impulses which seize bodies of people in a condition of great and prolonged excitement, and they declared that it must have been the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. As for Wolsey, it does not appear that his sincere friend the emperor, who had protested that he would have him elected if it were at the head of his army, moved a finger in his behalf. The proud cardinal, however, was obliged to swallow his chagrin, and wait for the next change, Adrian being already an old man; and Dr. Pace remained at Rome to congratulate the new Pontiff on his arrival, and solicit a renewal of his legatine authority.

Francis at this crisis made strenuous efforts to regain the friendship of Henry. Probably he thought that the disappointment of Wolsey might cool his friendship for the emperor, or, which was the same thing, diminish his confidence in his promises; whilst Charles was very well aware that Wolsey was much more serviceable to him as minister of England than he could be or would be as Pope. Francis attacked Henry on his weakest side—his vanity. He heaped compliments upon him, and entreated that if he could not be his fast and avowed friend, he would, at least, abstain from being his enemy. To give force to his flatteries, he held out hopes of increasing his annual payments to England; and when that did not produce the due effect, he stopped the disbursements of that which he had been wont to remit. Finding that even this did not influence Henry, who was kept steady by Wolsey, he laid an embargo on the English shipping in his ports, and seized the property of the English merchants.

At this act of decided hostility Henry was transported with one of those fits of rage which became habitual in after years. As if he had not long been plotting against Francis, and preparing to make war upon him—as if he had not coolly and even insolently repulsed all his advances and offers of advantage and alliance—he regarded Francis as an aggressor without any cause, ordered the French ambassador to be confined to his house, all Frenchmen in London to be arrested, and despatched an envoy to Paris with a mortal defiance. What particularly exasperated Henry was the news that a whole fleet, loaded with wine, had been seized at Bordeaux, and the merchants and seamen thrown into prison. The English were ordered to make reprisals, and this was the actual state of things when Sir Thomas Cheney, his ambassador, announced by dispatch that the envoy had declared war on the 21st of May at Lyons; to which the king had replied, "I looked for this a great while ago; for, since the cardinal was at Bruges, I looked for nothing else." The wily manœuvres of Wolsey had deceived nobody.

On the 26th of May, only five days after the[129] declaration of war with France, the Emperor Charles V. landed at Dover. The passion of Henry had precipitated the outbreak of hostilities, for it was not intended that war should be declared till Charles was on the eve of departure from England, so that he might continue his voyage in safety to Spain. The king, however, received his illustrious guest with as much gaiety and splendour as if nothing but peace were in prospect. Wolsey waited on Charles at the landing-place, and, after embracing him, led him by the arm to the castle, where Henry soon welcomed him with great cordiality. Charles calculated much, in the approaching war, on the fleet of Henry; and, to show him its extent and equipment, Henry conducted him to the Downs, and led him over all his ships, especially his great ship, Henri, Grâce à Dieu, which was considered one of the wonders of the world. He then conducted his Imperial guest by easy journeys to Greenwich, where the Court was then residing, and introduced him to his aunt, the queen, and her infant daughter, whom it was arranged that he should marry.

From the Drawing by Holbein

GREAT SHIP OF HENRY VIII. (From the Drawing by Holbein.)

On the 6th of June Henry conducted the emperor with great state into London, where the inhabitants received him with a variety of shows and pageants. Sir Thomas More spoke the emperor's welcome in a learned oration, and there was a profusion of Latin verses in honour of the occasion. The two monarchs feasted, hunted, and rode at tournaments, whilst their ministers were busily employed in carrying out the terms agreed upon at Bruges into a treaty, which was signed on the 19th at Windsor. The subject of this treaty was the marriage of Charles with the infant Princess Mary, which the two monarchs bound themselves to see completed, under a penalty, in case of breach of engagement, of 400,000 crowns. Charles also engaged to indemnify Henry for the sums of money due to him from Francis; and, what was most extraordinary, both monarchs bound themselves to appear before Cardinal Wolsey in case[130] of any dispute, and submit absolutely to his decision, thus making a subject the arbiter of monarchs.

The emperor also engaged to indemnify the cardinal for his losses in breaking with Francis, by a grant of 9,000 crowns annually; thus paying this proud priest for being the author of the war. Yet, after all his courting and flattering of Wolsey, after again assuring him of his determination to set him in the Papal chair, it is certain that he hated the man, and used him only as a tool. His aunt, Queen Catherine, had deeply resented the cardinal's pursuit of the Duke of Buckingham to death, for whom she entertained a high regard; and Wolsey was aware of it, and never forgave her. It was, probably, in reply to Catherine's relation of this tragic event that Charles, whilst on this visit, was overheard to say, "Then the butcher's dog has pulled down the fairest buck in Christendom"—a witticism which flew all over the Court, and was not forgotten by the vindictive Wolsey.

Having agreed that each was to bring 40,000 men into the field, that France was to be attacked simultaneously on the north and the south, and that Charles was to co-operate with the English for the re-conquest of Guienne, the emperor embarked on the 6th of July, and pursued his voyage to Spain.



The War with France—The Earl of Surrey Invades that Country—More elected Speaker—Henry and Parliament—Revolt of the Duke of Bourbon—Pope Adrian VI. dies—Clement VII. elected—Francis I. taken Prisoner at the Battle of Pavia—Wolsey grows unpopular—Change of Feeling at the English Court—Treaty with France—Francis I. regains his Liberty—Italian League, including France and England, against the Emperor—Fall of the Duke of Bourbon at the Siege of Rome—Sacking of Rome, and Capture of the Pope—Appearance of Luther—Henry writes against him—Is styled by the Pope "Defender of the Faith"—Anne Boleyn—Henry applies to the Pope for a Divorce from the Queen—The Pope's Dilemma—War declared against Spain—Cardinal Campeggio arrives in England to decide the Legality of Henry's Marriage with Catherine—Trial of the Queen—Henry's Discontent with Wolsey—Fall of Wolsey—His Banishment from Court, and Death—Cranmer's Advice regarding the Divorce—Cromwell cuts the Gordian Knot—Dismay of the Clergy—The King declared Head of the Church of England—The King's Marriage with Anne Boleyn—Cranmer made Archbishop—The Pope Reverses the Divorce—Separation of England from Rome.

On the departure of the emperor, Henry commanded the Earl of Surrey to scour the Channel before him; and Charles, out of compliment to Henry, named Surrey, who was Lord Admiral of England, also admiral of his own fleet of one hundred and eighty sail. Surrey, having seen Charles safely landed in Spain, returned along the coast of France, ravaging it on all accessible points. He landed at Cherbourg, in Normandy, burnt the town of Morlaix, in Brittany, and many other maritime villages, houses of the people, and castles of the aristocracy. This was preparatory to the great invasion which Henry contemplated. For this purpose he had recalled Surrey from Ireland, where he had conducted himself with much ability, repressed the disorders of the natives, and won the esteem of the chief population. Henry now gave him the command of the army destined to invade France. That army, Henry boasted, should consist of forty thousand men; but the question was, whence the money was to come for its assembly and payment. The Field of the Cloth of Gold, and the entertainment of the emperor, following on many other extravagances, had entirely dissipated the treasures which his father had left him; and, as he was now endeavouring to rule without a parliament, he was compelled to resort to those unconstitutional measures of forced loans, which had always covered with odium the monarchs who used them.

In this unpopular attempt Wolsey was his instrument, and the work he had now to do ensured him a plentiful growth of dislike. In the first place, he exacted a loan of £20,000 from the merchants of London, and scarcely had he obtained possession of it, when he summoned the leading citizens before him, and demanded fresh advances. On the 20th of August, 1522, the lord mayor, aldermen, and the most substantial[131] merchants of London appeared before him, to whom he announced that the king had sent commissioners into the whole realm, to inquire into the actual rents of the lands in each township, what were the names of the owners and occupiers, and what was the value of each man's movable property. According to his account, a new Domesday Book was in preparation; and he, moreover, informed them that his Majesty had ordered a muster in the maritime counties of all the men betwixt the ages of sixteen and sixty, to enrol their names, and the names of the lords of whom they held their lands.

The deputation returned to the city in deep dejection, and made out their lists of such as were merchants and dealers and reputed men of substance. These men, then, themselves waited on the cardinal, and besought him not to put them to their oath as to their real amount of property, for that it was difficult for themselves to make a correct estimate of it, and that, in fact, many an honest man's credit was more than his substance. Wolsey replied that he "dare swear that the substance of London was no less than two millions of gold." From this it was obvious that the cardinal expected from them at least £200,000. But the citizens replied, "Would to God the city were so rich, but it is sore afflicted by the occupying of strangers!" The cardinal promised to see that that should be rectified, and that their loans should be repaid them out of the first subsidy voted by Parliament, which it was intended to call. But the victims did not appear much cheered by these assurances: they knew that Henry was not fond of calling parliaments. If he meant it, why borrow money when it could be voted? And they went away, saying that for the last loan some lent a fifth, and now to ask a tenth again was too much.

By these means, however, money enough was raised to put an army in motion. About the middle of August the Earl of Surrey landed at Calais with 12,000 men, paid by the king, and 3,000 volunteers. There he was joined by a body of German, Flemish, and Spanish horse, making a total force of 16,000. At the head of these he advanced through Picardy and Artois, desolating the country as he went, burning the defenceless towns, the castles of the nobles, and the huts of the peasants, and destroying whatever they could not carry off as spoil. They left the fortified cities, making no attempt except against Hesdin, which they soon quitted, finding their artillery not of weight enough. The French, under the Duke de Vendôme, avoided a general engagement, but they harassed the outskirts of the army, cut off the supplies, and occasionally a number of stragglers. The weather was the great ally of the French, for it was extremely rainy and cold, and occasioned dysentery to break out in the camp. On the appearance of this fatal foe, the foreign troops hastily retired into Béthune, and Surrey soon after led back his main body to Calais, having done the French much mischief, but obtained no single advantage except the seizure of a quantity of booty.

Francis, meantime, had not only kept his army hovering in front of the invaders, but he had sent active emissaries to rouse the Irish and Scots, and thus to distract the attention of the English. In Ireland he turned his attention to the Earl of Desmond, who still maintained in a great measure his independence of the English Crown. Francis offered him an annual pension, on condition that he should take up arms in Ireland against the English power, and the earl, moreover, seduced by the promise that a French army would be sent over, engaged to join it, and never to lay down his arms till he had won for himself a strong dominion in the island, and the remainder for Richard de la Pole, the heir of the house of York. But Francis, having obtained his object by the very alarm created by this negotiation, never sent any troops, never paid the Earl of Desmond any annuity, and the unfortunate chieftain was left to pay the penalty of his rash credulity in the vengeance of the English Government.

In Scotland affairs assumed a more formidable aspect. After the return of Margaret, the queen-mother, from England, she quarrelled with her weak but headstrong husband, the Earl of Angus, and in 1521 sent and invited her old antagonist, the Duke of Albany, to return to Scotland from France, promising to support him at the head of the Government. Nothing could suit the views of France better than this, for it was already menaced by Henry of England. Albany landed at Gairloch on the 19th of November, and thence hastened to the queen at Stirling. This strange, bold, and dissimulating woman, who had all the imperiousness and the sensuality of a Tudor, received him with open arms, and entered at once on such terms of familiarity with him as scandalised all Scotland.

Her husband and his relatives, the Douglases, being summoned by the regent before Parliament, fled towards the Borders, and took refuge in the[132] kirk of Steyle. By means of the celebrated Gawin Douglas, the Bishop of Dunkeld, and one of Scotland's finest poets, who was the uncle of Angus, the fugitives opened a communication with Henry of England. The bishop represented the conduct of Margaret as of the most flagitious kind, attributing to her the design of marrying Albany, and setting aside her own son. It was even asserted, and Lord Dacre, warden of the Western Marches, joined in the assertion, that the life of the young king was in danger, and as much from his own mother as from Albany. There is no question that the conduct of Margaret was most disgraceful; and though Albany was anxious to establish quietness and order in Scotland, and to obtain peace with England, the emissaries of Henry took care to foment strife between the nobles and the Government. Lord Dacre was—according to the system introduced by Henry VII., and continued so long as there was a Tudor on the throne of England—plentifully supplied with money to bribe the most powerful nobles, especially the Homes, to harass the Government by their factions.

From a photograph by G. W. Wilson and Co., Aberdeen


(From a 'photograph by G. W. Wilson and Co., Aberdeen.)

It was in vain, therefore, that Queen Margaret wrote to her brother, the King of England, protesting that the accusations against her were base and abominable calumnies, that the Duke of Albany ruled by the choice and advice of Parliament, and that without him there would be no peace in Scotland, nor safety for the king or herself. Henry only replied by upbraiding her with living in shameful adultery, and insisting that Albany should quit Scotland, or that he would make war upon it. He did not stop there—he made the same demand of Parliament, and hearing that Margaret was applying to the Pope for a divorce from Angus, in order to marry Albany, he exerted all his influence with the Church to prevent it. The Scottish Parliament, notwithstanding it contained many traitors, made such by Henry's gold, yet rejected his proposition for the dismissal of Albany; whereupon Henry ordered all Scottish subjects found in England[133] to be driven with insult over the Borders, having a white cross marked upon their backs. And at the same time that he sent Surrey to France, in the spring of 1522, he also bade the Earl of Shrewsbury march across the Tweed to punish the Scots. Shrewsbury obeyed the order with great celerity, and speedily laid waste the fine pastoral country round Kelso, but was met by a superior force and driven back, not however before he had aroused great indignation among the people at the wantonness of his attack and the outrages upon innocent folk and their property with which it was accompanied.

From the Portrait by Holbein

CARDINAL WOLSEY. (From the Portrait by Holbein).

Instead, therefore, of an invasion of Scotland by the English, Henry was threatened with a descent of the Scots on his own kingdom, whilst the gallant Surrey was absent in France. The Duke of Albany, incensed at the reproaches of Henry regarding his connection with Queen Margaret, at the demands for his extradition, and at the ferocious inroad of the Earl of Shrewsbury, declared war against England, with the consent of Parliament. He called for the muster of all the feudal force of the kingdom, and the call was answered with such promptness that he beheld himself at the head of 80,000 men. With such a force, nothing would have been easier to all appearance than to have overrun the north of England, left almost wholly destitute of defence. But though the Scottish people were in earnest, there was treason not only in the camp, but in the very tent of Albany. The money of Dacre was in the pockets of the most powerful nobles, who silently but actively spread disunion through his host; and worst of all, Margaret, who, like her brother, was continually roving[134] in her affections from one person to another, was already weary of Albany, and was in covert communication with Lord Dacre, and betraying the secrets and plans of Albany to him. It is said that Henry, through Lord Dacre, had completely corrupted the queen, probably by assisting her with money, but still more by offering to receive her again to his favour, and to secure her interests by marrying Mary, the Princess of England, to her son, the young King of Scots. Influenced by these hopes, the unprincipled queen exerted herself to weaken the measures of Albany, and to diminish the influence of France in the country as much as possible.

Albany, therefore, though he advanced to the banks of the Tweed, and even reached within a few miles of Carlisle, found the spirit of his host continually on the decline. On the other hand, Lord Dacre had expended his money in extensive bribery, and was almost destitute of soldiers; yet he pretended that a great army was on the march to him, which would show the Scots another Flodden Field, and so imposed on Albany that he was willing to treat instead of being ready to fight. He engaged to disband his forces if Dacre would engage to keep back the imaginary advancing troops of England. Wolsey, who was watching in the northern counties with deep anxiety the result of this contest between military multitudes and political cunning, could not sufficiently express his astonishment, as he saw the stupendous armament of Scotland melt away before the empty bugbears of Lord Dacre's creation. "By the great wisdom and policy of my Lord Dacre, and by means of the safe-conduct lately sent at the desire and contemplation of the Queen of Scots, the said Duke of Albany hath, our Lord be praised, not only forborne his invasion, but also dissolved his army; which, being dispersed, neither shall nor can, for this year, be gathered or assembled again." And the cardinal proceeds to give us a specimen of the easy nature of his political morality, in saying, "And yet the said abstinence [armistice] concluded by my Lord Dacre, he not having your authority for the same, nothing bindeth your grace; but, at your liberty, ye may pursue your wars against the said Scots, if it shall be thought to your highness convenable." On the 11th of September, 1522, the treaty between Albany and Dacre was concluded, and Albany went over to France for fresh supplies of men and money, leaving the Earls of Huntly, Arran, and Argyle to administer affairs during his absence. Thus, about the same time, Henry saw his French and his Scottish campaign for that year terminated.

His great and difficult business was now to raise the necessary funds for prosecuting his further designs against France. For eight years he had forborne to call a Parliament, but to postpone longer a summons of this engine of supply was not possible. He had pushed to the extreme point all the modes, legal and illegal, of extracting funds from his subjects; and the reluctance with which his last forced loan had been conceded, and the solemn promises which he had made to call a Parliament, left him no alternative. No king who ever reigned had a higher notion of the royal prerogative, and the hearty commendation he afterwards bestowed on Charles V. for destroying the last vestiges of free institutions in Spain showed plainly what he would fain have carried out in England. But sturdy as was his Tudor soul, he found that the English people had an equally stubborn will, and on the 15th of April, 1523, he summoned a Parliament at Blackfriars, London, where Wolsey sat at his feet as Chancellor.

The Commons chose, as was supposed through the influence of the Court, Sir Thomas More as Speaker. Sir Thomas was not only a man of profound learning, but a felicitous genius, and extremely witty. His conversation was greatly relished by the queen, who had introduced him to the private suppers with the king, who became as much fascinated by his society. Sir Thomas was evidently well aware of the difficult part which he would have to sustain in such a post, for he hung back from it, declaring how unfit he was for it. But Wolsey, who calculated greatly on his genius, protested that he was qualified for it by his great abilities and judgment more than almost any man. After a few days' session of Parliament, Wolsey went down to the House, contrary to all custom and privilege, and presented a royal message, to the effect that Francis, by his conduct, had made a war absolutely necessary, that the honour of the country was deeply concerned, and that it was a fine opportunity for England to recover all that it had lost in that country. He concluded his address by recommending them to vote immediately a property-tax of twenty per cent., which would raise the sum of £800,000.

Such a sum had never before been asked by any English king in his wildest dreams of foreign conquest. The House sat as if thunderstruck, and in profound silence. Wolsey had imagined that[135] his presence, surrounded by all the symbols of his grandeur, would completely overawe the House; and that with a Court favourite of such distinction as Sir Thomas More, he should carry the monstrous demand by surprise. He had, therefore, come environed by his pompous retinue of prelates and nobles, and with his silver pillars and crosses, his maces, his poleaxes, his hat and Great Seal borne before him. But not all his magnificence moved the Commons where its privileges had been thus grossly invaded, and its money was thus boldly demanded. The whole House sat as silent as the senate of Rome when Brennus and his savage Gauls burst in upon it. Wolsey gazed upon them in amazement, looking from one to another. The proud cardinal then addressed a member by name. The member arose, bowed, and sat down again without uttering a word. Still more surprised at this dumb show, Wolsey called upon another member for an explanation, but obtained none. Growing wrathful, for he was not accustomed to such treatment, he broke out:—"Masters, as I am sent here by the king, it is not unreasonable to expect an answer. Yet, unless it be the manner of your House, as very likely it may, by your Speaker only in such cases to express your mind, here is, without doubt, a most marvellous silence."

Whilst he said this, he looked fixedly and angrily at Sir Thomas More, unquestionably expecting different conduct from him. But Sir Thomas, dropping on his knee, said that the House felt abashed in the presence of so great a personage—which, he added, was enough to amaze the wisest and most learned men of the realm; that the House, according to its ancient privileges, was not bound to return any answer; and as for himself, unless all the members present could put their several thoughts into his head, he was unable to give his grace an answer on so weighty a matter. The cardinal then retired, much displeased with the House, and still more with the Speaker.

After the great minister had retired, the House went into a warm debate. Some of the members affirmed that there was not above £800,000 of cash in the kingdom; and if the money were gathered into the king's hands, no trade could be carried on except by barter. The courtiers urged all the ingenious arguments that they could invent, or with which they were supplied, to show the necessity of the grant; and the king was in such a rage that he is said to have even threatened some of the members with death. It was, in fact, a stout resistance to oppression of the people, and one of the most determined stands for privilege of Parliament ever made in this country.

The contest grew to such a pitch that the cardinal, fearful of the result, determined to go to the House a second time, notwithstanding the clear intimation given him that his presence was considered a breach of privilege. He made them a speech, going over all the arguments which had been advanced by the opposition, and then begged them to tell him what they had to object; but they only returned him the answer, through the Speaker, that they would hear his grace with humility, but could only reason amongst themselves; and he was obliged to go away as he came.

When he had departed, they resumed the debate; and at length, at the earnest entreaty of the Speaker, they voted two shillings in the pound on all who enjoyed twenty pounds a year or upwards; one shilling on all who possessed from two pounds to twenty; and on all subjects with incomes below that scale, a groat a head. This was not a moiety of what the king had demanded, and the payment was spread over four years, so that it did not really amount to above sixpence in the pound. The lesson which Henry here received did not incline him to call another Parliament speedily. He had summoned none for eight years before; and there is no doubt that he asked for this extravagant sum that he might dispense with Parliament for another term as long. He did not, as it was, call another for seven years.

The king, in his anger at the Commons, boasted to the mayor and aldermen of London that he should find a very different spirit amongst the clergy; but even these he tried beyond their patience. He demanded no less than fifty per cent. of the incomes of their benefices, to make up the deficiency from the laity. But the clergy were not disposed to be mulcted of half their incomes at a blow; they made as stout a resistance as the House of Commons. Wolsey, to make sure of them, summoned the convocations of the two provinces, which had met in their usual manner, by his legatine authority, to assemble in a national synod in Westminster Abbey. But there the proctors declared that they had only power to grant money in regular convocation, not in synod; and he was obliged to permit them to depart, and vote in their ordinary way. The convocation of the cardinal's own province of York waited to see what Canterbury would first do, which was more independent of Wolsey's power. In the Lower[136] House the resistance was resolute, and was kept alive by the eloquence of a preacher of the name of Philips, till he was won over to the Court by substantial promotion. In the Upper House, the Bishops of Winchester and Rochester animated the prelates to such opposition, that the grant was not carried for four months, and then, being spread over five years, amounted, not to fifty, but only to ten per cent.


The money obtained at all this cost of difficulty in Parliament, and of unpopularity with the people, was lavishly expended in repelling the attempts of the Scots, in furnishing aid to the allies in Italy, and in preparing for another expedition into France. It was of the first importance, before sending the army across the Channel, to obtain security on the side of Scotland. To this end Henry made fresh overtures to his sister, Queen Margaret, offering to place her at the head of the Government, and to enable her to put down the party of Albany, who was now absent in France collecting fresh means for maintaining the war. He sent the Earl of Surrey, son of the victor of Flodden Field, to co-operate with her, to win over as many as possible of the nobles with money, and to lay waste the Borders, so that they should be incapable of furnishing supplies to an invading army.


Margaret now had every opportunity which a woman of spirit and reputation could wish. She was strongly supported by the power of England, and her great opponent was for ever defeated. She proclaimed her son, and assumed the regency; but her worst enemy was herself. She fell into her old habits; and her scandalous attachment to Henry Stuart, the son of Lord Evandale, soon ruined her prospects. Henry once more abandoned her, and raised her husband, the Earl of Angus, to the chief power. It was in vain that Margaret applied for assistance to Francis I., and humiliated herself so far as to solicit the return of Albany. From this moment there was more tranquillity in Scotland. The French faction, seeing support from France hopeless, were compelled to remain quiet. Truce after truce was established with England; and for eighteen years the Borders rested from hostilities.


The position of the King of France was, at this crisis, becoming more and more critical. His kingdom was environed with perils, and menaced with ruin, which could only be averted by singular courage and address. Against him was arrayed a most formidable confederacy of the Pope, the emperor, the King of England, and the various states of Italy. He had not a single ally, except the King of Scotland, a minor, and without authority. The internal condition of France was extremely discouraging. The wars of Francis in Italy and at home, his gay life and expensive pleasures, with his extravagant grants to his favourites, had exhausted his treasury, and involved him in grave embarrassment. The troops were ill-paid, and, as is usual in such cases, became disorderly and infested the highways, plundered the peasantry, and filled the whole kingdom with alarm and discontent. The Court partook of the licence and distraction of the nation; it was rent by faction, and the most dangerous secret conspiracy was at work in it. This was the doing of the Duke of Bourbon, Constable of France, who had been wronged in a lawsuit with the king.

Charles V. and Henry of England thereupon entered into a secret treaty with the disaffected prince to betray his sovereign and his native country. The transaction was a disgraceful one[137] to all parties concerned. In Bourbon, notwithstanding his grievous wrongs, it was a base as well as an impolitic deed; in Henry and Charles, it was one destructive of the security of the throne, and of every principle of honour which should guide the counsels of kings. Henry felt the vileness of the proceeding, but endeavoured to justify it as a fair retaliation, for that Francis had tampered with his Irish subject, the Earl of Desmond.


The Lord of Beaurain had been employed as the secret agent of the emperor; and Sir John Russell—this being one of the first public notices of the Russells in history—as that of Henry. A private treaty was concluded, of which the substance was as follows:—The emperor and the King of England were to invade France simultaneously, the one in the north, the other in the south, while Bourbon himself was to excite a rebellion in the heart of the kingdom, supported by all the connections of his family, whom he calculated at 200 knights and gentlemen, with their retainers. The attempt was to be made the moment Francis had crossed the Alps; and when the conquest of France was complete, Bourbon, in addition to his appanage of the Bourbonnais and Auvergne, was to receive Provence and Dauphiné, which together were to constitute a kingdom for him. He was, moreover, to receive the hand of the emperor's sister, Eleanor, Queen-Dowager of Portugal. The emperor was to have, as his share of the spoil, Languedoc, Burgundy, Champagne, and Picardy, and Henry VIII. the rest of France.

Such was the traitorous scheme which was now opened up to the astonished gaze of Francis. Had he crossed the Alps before he received the intelligence, it might have been fatal. He had received some dark hints of mischief to be apprehended from Bourbon previously; and on his way south, he had suddenly presented himself at the duke's castle, and called upon him to accompany the expedition to Italy; but the duke made it appear that the state of his health rendered that impossible. Francis, not by any means satisfied, set a strict but secret guard upon his castle, and proceeded to Lyons; but there the news reached him that the pretended sick man had managed to escape in disguise, and was on his way, through the intricacies of the mountains of Auvergne and Dauphiné, to join the emperor's army in Italy.


The Powers of England and the Netherlands appeared, in pursuance of the secret treaty with Bourbon, on the soil of France about the same time. The Duke of Suffolk, Charles Brandon, the commander of the English army, landed at Calais on the 24th of August, and, joining to his troops those collected from the garrisons of Calais, Ham, and Guines, found himself at the head of 13,000 men. He marched on the 19th of September, and the next day fell in with the Imperial troops from the Netherlands, under Van Buren. The allies now amounted to 20,000; but instead of marching to join the Imperial forces coming from Germany, they remained under the walls of St. Omer, debating whether they should do this or invest Boulogne. After having wasted a precious month, they decided to leave Boulogne, and endeavour to form a junction with the Germans. But they had now allowed Francis ample time to thwart all their objects. He had sent a[138] strong detachment, under the Duke of Guise, to throw themselves in the way of the Germans; whilst the Dukes of Vendôme and Tremouille kept a sharp watch over the movements of the allied army. Suffolk and Van Buren traversed Artois and Picardy, crossed the Somme and the Oise, and alarmed Paris by pitching their tents near Laon, within twenty miles of the capital. They had stopped by the way to invest Bray, Montdidier, and some other small places, and now confidently expected the arrival of the German army.

But the Germans by this time were in full flight before the Duke of Guise, and Vendôme and Tremouille manœuvred more menacingly on the front and flank of the Allies. Tremouille, in particular, grew more and more audacious, beat up their quarters with his cavalry, harassed them by frequent skirmishes, and intercepted their convoys. The position of the allied troops became every day more critical. They were threatened with a growing force in their rear, drawn from the garrisons of Picardy, and there was danger of their supplies, which were all derived from Calais, being cut off. The troops were become sickly, and discontented with their situation. It was high time to retrace their steps, and they commenced their march by way of Valenciennes. But the weather was very rainy, the roads were almost impassable, cold and frost succeeded, and the sickness and murmurs of the troops augmented every day. Numbers perished on the march; all were eager to reach their homes; and, as the Flemings drew near their frontiers, they deserted in shoals. The armies then separated, and Suffolk reached Calais in December, with his forces greatly reduced, and all in miserable condition.

On the 14th of September, whilst the Duke of Suffolk was advancing on Paris, an event occurred which arrested the attention of Cardinal Wolsey even more than the engrossing moves on the great chess-board of war. This was the death of the Pope Adrian. He had occupied the papal chair only about twenty months; and so impatient were the Italians of the Flemish pope and his strict economy, that they styled the doctor who attended him in his last sickness the "saviour of his country." Wolsey lost no time in putting in his claim; and wrote to Dr. Clark, the English ambassador at Rome, telling him to spare neither money nor promises, for that it was by command of the king, who would undoubtedly see all his engagements performed. This time Wolsey was put in nomination, and obtained a considerable number of votes; but there was no real chance for him, for the Italians were clamorous to have no more ultramontane, or, as they styled them, barbarian popes. Charles V., despite his promises to Wolsey, not only did not move a finger in his favour, but threw all his influence into the scale to carry the election of Julius de Medici; whilst the French cardinals, to a man, were opposed to Wolsey as the most dangerous enemy to their sovereign. The conclave met in October, and the discussion was continued through six stormy weeks. The election at length was seen to lie between Jacovaccio Romano and Julius de Medici. Cardinal Pompeo Colonna, who held the most decisive influence in the conclave, threw his weight into the scale for Romano, and the balance hung undecided; but all at once it gave way. Colonna, although he hated the Medici, gave up his opposition, and Julius was unanimously elected.

Wolsey, to all appearance, bore this second disappointment with the equanimity of a philosopher; yet we may justly imagine that it produced a deep change in his feelings towards the emperor, and led to a hostile policy against his interests and those of Queen Catherine, his aunt, in England. But Wolsey had prepared for either event, his election or rejection; and the moment the latter became certain, the whole of the influence of the English Government was employed in favour of the election of Julius de Medici. On the strength of this, the English ambassadors congratulated Julius on his elevation, and solicited the continuance of the legatine commission to Wolsey. The Pope, who assumed the name of Clement VII., not only renewed the commission, but granted it for life, with augmented powers; and added to it a commission to reform or suppress certain religious houses in England. This was a dangerous power, and as Wolsey, in 1525—only two years afterwards—by this authority suppressed a number of monasteries, it is by no means improbable that it led Henry to think of those more sweeping changes of the same kind which he afterwards effected. The money thus procured was devoted, notwithstanding the necessities of the State, to the erection of colleges, where both Wolsey and his master declared they were anxious to educate able men in order to oppose effectually the fast-growing heresies of Martin Luther.

The campaign in Italy opened in the spring of 1524, with wonderfully increased difficulties for the French. Charles V. had appointed the renegade Duke of Bourbon his generalissimo in that country against his own sovereign and compatriots.[139] Henry of England engaged to furnish 100,000 crowns for the first month's pay of the duke's army, and to make a diversion by invading Picardy in July. The emperor promised to defray the cost of the Italian army for the remainder of the campaign, and to invade Languedoc at the same time. Thus supported, Bourbon took the field early in the spring; and by the end of May the duke had completely freed Italy of his countrymen, and driven them across the Alps. The losses of the French in this retreat were dreadful, and perhaps the greatest calamity was the death of the famous Chevalier Bayard, the knight "sans peur et sans reproche," who was killed as he was protecting the rear of the army, on the banks of the Sesia (April 30, 1524.)

Bourbon, ardent and impatient to secure the kingdom which had been promised him in France, as well as thirsting with desire to take the utmost vengeance on Francis I., entreated the emperor to allow him to quit Italy and enter France with his victorious army. The emperor consented, and the Imperial forces soon found themselves descending from the Alps. Unfortunately, Charles had divided the command of this expedition between Bourbon and the Marquis of Pescara, and the certain result was divided councils. Bourbon urged to push forward to Lyons, calculating on his friends and dependants in France flocking to him there; but Pescara had probably different instructions, and accordingly advised that they should descend on Provence, and lay siege to Marseilles. This was palpably the suggestion of the emperor, for he was ambitious of securing Marseilles, and holding it as a key to the south of France, as Calais was to the north, in the hands of the English. Thither, therefore, they marched, entered Provence on the 2nd of July, and on the 19th of August they sat down before Marseilles with an army of 16,000 men.

But the situation of the Imperial troops soon became extremely hazardous there. The place was strongly fortified; it contained a garrison of 3,200 men, and these were zealously supported by 9,000 of the inhabitants, who, detesting the Spaniards, took up arms and fought most gallantly. Bourbon and Pescara spent forty days in mining and bombarding the place, when they became aware of a tempest gathering which boded their utter destruction. This was Francis marching from Avignon at the head of 40,000 men. Neither Henry nor the emperor had made those diversions in Languedoc and Picardy which they had promised, and thus the whole weight of the army of France was at liberty to descend upon them. Bourbon and Pescara precipitately abandoned the siege, made for the Alps, and regained Italy.

At this moment Francis committed a military error, which probably deprived him of the triumph of thoroughly routing his enemies. To have continued the pursuit was almost certain to have destroyed the Imperialist force, for it was worn down by its severe marches, and the road to Lodi by which Pescara retreated was actually strewn with his exhausted horses. The army of Pescara was the sole Imperial force now in Italy, and its defeat would have been the immediate recovery of the Milanese territory. But Francis was beguiled into the delay of besieging Pavia, in which Pescara had left a strong garrison, under Antonio da Leyva. Pavia was a well-fortified city, situated on the deep and rapid Ticino, in a peculiarly strong position, and had repeatedly defied armies for a long time together, particularly those of the Lombards and of Charlemagne. The moment Pescara heard of Francis sitting down before it, he exclaimed that he was saved! Every exertion was made by the Imperialists to profit by the time thus given them. The Duke of Bourbon hastened over the Alps to Germany to raise 12,000 men, for which purpose he had pawned his jewels. Lannoy, the viceroy of Naples, pledged the regular revenues of that kingdom for ready cash for the hiring of troops, and great activity was displayed in raising an army and posting it betwixt the Adda and the Ticino.

For three months Francis continued lying before Pavia, and committed the further error of weakening his forces, by detaching 6,000 of them, under Albany, the late regent of Scotland, to menace the kingdom of Naples.

In the beginning of February, 1525, the Imperialist generals thought themselves strong enough to attack the French in their entrenchments. These entrenchments were very formidable. The rear-guard was posted in the beautiful castle of Mirabello, in the midst of an extensive park, enclosed by high and solid walls. But Leyva, who commanded the garrison, found means to communicate with the Imperial generals outside, and he sent them word that they must either relieve him or that he must attempt to cut his way out, for famine was urgent amongst his troops. The generals themselves were suffering from want of provisions and pay for their troops. In the French camp the wisest commanders counselled Francis to raise the siege and retire to Milan, confident that the enemy must soon[140] disband from want of pay. But Bonivet treated this counsel as mean and dastardly; and, unfortunately, this was the tone most likely to captivate the chivalrous mind of the French king. He resolved to stand his ground.

On the 24th of February, Bourbon, Pescara, and Lannoy, having distracted the attention of the French for several days previously by false attacks, at midnight led out their troops silently to the park. A body of pioneers commenced operations on the wall, and before daylight they had effected a breach of a hundred paces in length, and at dawn they carried the castle by surprise. Francis drew his troops out of their entrenchments and made a push across the Ticino, but he found the bridge demolished, and a strong body of the Spaniards closely drawn up on the banks. Attacked fiercely by the garrison in the rear, and hemmed in by the Imperial army in front, the battle became desperate. Francis had his horse killed under him; the Swiss, contrary to their wont, turned and fled at the first charge; and the Germans, who fought with singular valour, were annihilated to a man. The Spanish musketeers then broke the French ranks; and the king, being already wounded twice in the face, and once in the hand, refused to surrender to the Spaniards who environed him. Fortunately, Pomperant, a French gentleman in the service of the Duke of Bourbon, recognised him, and called Lannoy, to whom the king resigned his sword. Lannoy, kneeling, kissed the king's hand, took the sword, and gave him his own in return, saying it did not become a monarch to appear unarmed in the presence of a subject. The king was relieved of his helmet by James D'Avila; and the Spanish soldiers, who admired his valour, came crowding around him, and snatched the feathers from it, and, when they were all gone, even cut pieces from his clothes, to keep as memorials that they had fought hand to hand with him. Francis was soon left standing in his jerkin and hose, and, despite his misfortune, could not help laughing at his situation, and at the eagerness of the soldiers for something belonging to him.

The amazement and consternation which fell on France at the news of this terrible disaster are scarcely to be imagined. Nothing, indeed, could be more melancholy than the situation of that kingdom. Her king was captive, her most distinguished generals and the flower of the army were taken or slain; powerful and triumphant enemies on all sides were ready to seize her as a spoil, and she was equally destitute of allies, of money, of troops, or wise counsel. Scarcely less was the terror of the princes and the states of Italy, for their only safety—the balance of power—was destroyed, and there appeared no defence against the predominant power of the emperor.

Charles himself assumed an air of singular composure and moderation on the receipt of this brilliant news. He had been daily expecting to hear of the defeat of his army, when, on the 10th of March, came the tidings of this great victory. We may imagine, therefore, his real joy. But such was his command of his feelings that nothing of this appeared in his manner. He perused the dispatches with the most perfect composure, affected even to commiserate the fall of his rival, and moralised sagely on the uncertainty of human greatness. A little time, however, was sufficient to show that this was dissimulation, and his conduct to Francis was ample proof that he had neither pity nor generosity.

Henry of England, on the contrary, gave freedom to his expressions of joy. Though he was actually on his way to coalesce with Francis against Charles, he saw at once the immense advantages this defeat and capture offered for aggressions on his kingdom, and he therefore ordered the most public rejoicings in London and other cities, and rode himself in state to St. Paul's, where Wolsey performed mass, assisted by eleven bishops, in presence of the Court and all the foreign ambassadors; and afterwards Te Deum was sung. Henry then posted off Tunstall, Bishop of London, and Sir Richard Wingfield, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, into Spain to congratulate the emperor on his splendid triumph, and modestly to propose that they should divide France between them.

To induce Charles to consent to this improbable arrangement, Henry proposed at once to put the Princess Mary, who was betrothed to Charles, into his hands—in fact, to make the exchange of her person for that of Francis. Henry was the more buoyed up in these wild notions by the fact that the ambassador of Charles had just been applying for the delivery of the princess.



So confident was Henry of the cession of his claims by the emperor, that he instantly took measures to raise the money necessary for the invasion of France. As he had resolved to rule without the interference of parliaments, he sent out commissioners to every part of the country to levy the sixth part of the goods of the laity and a fourth of those of the clergy. The scheme was entirely unconstitutional, the commissioners performed their part in a harsh and overbearing manner, trusting thus to intimidate the people into compliance, and the consequence was universal resentment and resistance. Clergy and laity, rich and poor, all alike denounced the arbitrary and illegal impost. "How the great men took it," says Hall, "was a marvel: the poor cursed, the rich repugned, the lighter sort railed, and, in conclusion, all men execrated the cardinal as the subverter of the laws and liberties of England. For, said they, if men should give their goods by a commission, then were it worse than the taxes of France, and so England would be bond, and not free." This was the more just because the cardinal in person acted as commissioner in London, and lent all the weight of his office and position to sanction the oppression. He used all his arts to prevail on the citizens to comply, but neither threats nor blandishments moved them. The resistance was obstinate and universal.

In London the excitement became excessive; the people placarded the walls with their complaints, and the clergy preached against the arbitrary tax, and declared that for themselves they would pay no money which was not voted in Convocation. From London the fire spread through the other towns, the people began to take up arms, the clergy to encourage them, and Henry, who was soon terrified, with all his bluster, took the alarm, and declared that he wanted nothing from his loving subjects but as a benevolence. But the very word benevolence awoke a host of hateful recollections. The tumult was only increased by it; and a lawyer in the city published the passage from the Act of Richard III., by which benevolences were abolished for ever. This seemed to arouse the lion spirit in Henry. The prospect of the crown of France was too fascinating to be lightly surrendered; he therefore called together the judges, and demanded their opinion on his power to tax his subjects without Parliament. The venal judges reminded the king that Richard III. was a usurper, and that his Parliament was a factious Parliament, the acts of which were illegal and void, and could in no wise bind a legitimate and absolute king, who, like him, held the Crown by hereditary right. This bold and base doctrine was loudly echoed by the Privy Council, but vain were such authorities with the people. On hearing this decision, they again flew to arms. In Kent they speedily drove the commissioners and tax-gatherers out of the county; in Suffolk they marched in an armed body of 4,000 or 5,000 men, and even threatened the duke of the county, Brandon, the king's brother-in-law, who was the chief commissioner there, with death. Surrey, who stood high in the estimation of the people, interfered to calm them, and to prevent mischief; and Henry saw that the contest was hopeless, and by proclamation retracted his demand. Wolsey, who had been extremely prominent in endeavouring to enforce the detested tax, now caused a report to be industriously circulated, that he had, in truth, never been favourable to it, but the people only replied when they heard it, "God save the king! we know the cardinal well enough."

But Henry might have spared himself this tumult and unpopularity. The emperor was never less likely than now to concede such favours and advantages to him. He was a deep and subtle prince; no man could see more intuitively and instantly the wonderful change in his power and position which the battle of Pavia created. Charles had calculated upon Henry for large subsidies during the war, but instead of receiving these, he had found Henry as much straitened for money as he was himself. It was now discovered that the emperor had already made a truce of six months with France, and he coolly advised the ambassadors to seek from their sovereign power, not negotiations for the invasion of France, but the terms on which the French king should be liberated. To crown all, and leave no question of the feeling which Henry's late conduct had produced in Charles's Court, he wrote to Henry, no longer styling himself his loving uncle and penning the grossest flatteries with his own hand, but he simply and curtly signed himself Charles to official communications duly and officially prepared.

This was a rebuff not to be received complacently by a man of Henry's vain and volcanic spirit. He read the astounding dispatches with an amazement which burst into a tempest of rage. At once a tide of impetuous revulsion flowed over his whole soul. He abandoned in a moment all ideas of conquests, invasions, and the crown of France, and determined to do everything in his power to procure the liberation of Francis, and to unite with him against the perfidious and insulting Spaniard. He had dismissed the French envoys, who were residing privately in London, on the news of the capture of Francis, but he now let it be understood that their presence would be heartily welcome. Louise, the mother of Francis, accepted the hint, and John Brenon, president of the[143] council of Normandy, and her favourite envoy, Giovanni Joacchino, were again despatched to London. A truce for four months was immediately concluded, and Wolsey, who fanned the new flame in Henry's bosom for objects and resentments of his own, soon arranged the terms of a treaty with them. These terms were extremely acceptable to Henry, as they furnished him with a prospect of a considerable addition to his income, without the disagreeable necessity of having to go to Parliament for it. The treaty consisted of six articles. By the first, the contracting parties engaged to guarantee the integrity of each other's territories against all the princes in the world. The object of this was to prevent Francis from bartering any of his provinces with Charles for his liberty. By the second, Francis and his heirs were made to guarantee to Henry the payment of 2,000,000 crowns, by half-yearly instalments, and 100,000 crowns for life, after the payment of that amount. Nine of the chief noblemen of France, and nine of the richest cities also, gave up their bonds for the security of these payments. By the third article, the King of France engaged to pay up all the arrears of the dowry of Mary, the Queen-Dowager of France. The rest of the articles were for the prevention of depredations at sea, for comprehending the King of Scots in the treaty, and for the prevention of the return of the Duke of Albany to Scotland during the minority of James V. This treaty was signed at the king's house in Hertfordshire, on the 30th of August. The cardinal, who never forgot himself on these occasions, was well rewarded for his trouble in promoting and arranging this alliance. He received a grant of 100,000 crowns for his good offices in the affair, and the arrears of his pension in lieu of his surrender of the bishopric of Tournay, the whole to be paid in equal instalments in the course of seven years and a half.

But whilst the French regent, Louise, made these liberal concessions for the friendship of Henry, and showed every apparent disposition to guarantee the conditions, Louise swearing to them, and Francis ratifying them, care was taken to leave a loophole of escape at any future period. The attorney and solicitor-general entered a secret protest against the whole treaty, so that Francis might, if occasion required, plead the illegality of the whole transaction.

But it was not so easy to procure the liberation of the captive King of France. Moderate as Charles had professed to be, and sympathetic regarding the misfortunes of Francis, he soon showed that he was determined to extort every possible advantage from having the royal captive in his hands. He had been detained in the strong castle of Pizzighettone, near Cremona; but, thinking that he should be able to influence the emperor by his presence, he petitioned to be removed to the Alcazar of Madrid. At length, however, on the 14th of January, 1526, was signed the famous treaty called the Concord of Madrid, one of the most grasping and impudent pieces of extortion which one prince ever forced from another in his necessity. By this treaty Francis gave up all that he had offered before—namely, all claims of superiority over Flanders and Artois, and the possession of Naples, Milan, Genoa, and the other Italian territories, for which France had spent so much blood and treasure. But besides this, Francis was to deliver to the emperor his two sons, the Dauphin and the Duke of Orleans, as hostages, and also bind himself, if he did not, or could not, fulfil his engagements within four months, to return and yield himself once more prisoner. He was to marry Queen Eleanora of Portugal, the sister of Charles, and the Dauphin was to marry the Princess Maria, the daughter of Eleanora. But these were but a small part of the demands. Francis was bound to persuade the King of Navarre to surrender his rights in that kingdom to Charles, and the Duke of Gueldres to appoint Charles the heir to his dominions; and if he failed to persuade them, he was to give them no aid when the emperor invaded their states. Next, Francis was to lend his whole navy, 500 men-at-arms, and 6,000 foot-soldiers, to put down the princes of Italy, who were uniting to effect his own freedom! Then, Francis was to pay to the King of England all those sums which the emperor himself had engaged to pay. Still more, he was to restore Bourbon and the rest of the rebels to their estates and honours. The whole of the conditions were so monstrous, that they cannot be read without astonishment at the rapacity of this triumphant prince. But to gain his liberty Francis signed the Treaty.

Henry VIII. was one of the first amongst princes to send ambassadors to congratulate Francis on his restoration to freedom, and to urge him to break every article of the infamous terms which had been forced upon him. Sir Thomas Cheney was sent from England to meet Dr. Taylor, the English ambassador at Paris; and together they proceeded to Bayonne, and were[144] introduced to Francis, who told them he greatly felt the friendship of Henry, who had, indeed, remonstrated with Charles on his behalf, though Charles had not paid much respect to the intercession. There was no need of any arguments from the two English casuists to induce Francis to break the engagements he had entered into. He had never meant to keep them. Before signing the document, he had protested, before two notaries and a few confidential friends, that he had acted under restraint, and that he should hold himself bound to observe none of the conditions which were not just and reasonable.

Two ambassadors had attended him from Spain to take his signature of the Treaty, when he was free and on his own soil, as a ratification of it, which he had engaged to give; but when the ambassadors presented themselves for this purpose, Francis declined, affirming that he could not enter into any such engagements without the advice of his council and the approbation of his subjects. He assured them, however, that he would immediately summon an assembly of the notables at Cognac, and requested them to attend him thither, to learn the decision of the assembly. This body met at that place in June, and declared, with one voice, that the king had no right or power to sever Burgundy from the kingdom without their consent, and such consent they would never give. The Spanish ambassadors were present when this decision was pronounced, and they said that the king, not being able to fulfil his contract, was bound to return to his captivity, and they called upon him to obey. Instead of a direct answer to this demand, a treaty betwixt the King of France, the Pope, the Venetians, and the Duke of Milan, which had been secretly concluded a few days before, was produced, and published in their hearing. As this was tantamount to a declaration of war, the ambassadors demanded their passports, and returned to Spain. The Pope, on entering into this league, absolved Francis from all the forced oaths that he had sworn.

This confederacy of Francis and the Italian princes and states against the emperor, bound the Allies to raise and pay an army of 30,000 foot and 3,000 horse, with a certain number of ships and galleys. The King of France was to be put in possession of the county of Asti and the lordship of Genoa; and Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, engaged to pay him 50,000 crowns annually. Naples was to be wrested from Charles, and its crown placed at the disposal of the Pope; but the king whom he appointed was to pay an annuity of 75,000 crowns to the King of France. Henry of England, though he declined to take any active part in the league, but consented merely to be nominated its protector, was to have a principality in Naples, with 36,000 ducats a year; and the cardinal, who always came in for his share of spoil, was to have a lordship worth 10,000 ducats.

So closed the year 1526; and the new year opened with preparations for still more terrors for devoted Italy. The Emperor Charles had no money to maintain the troops necessary for the extensive domination that he aimed at, and he therefore allowed the mercenary troops in his employment, rather than in his pay, to indemnify themselves by the plunder of the wretched inhabitants of the countries where they were collected. These troops consisted of a mob of vagabonds, outlaws, and marauders, from every country in Europe, who, by their long course of licentious freedom, were become utterly callous to the sufferings which they inflicted. Freundsberg, a German soldier of fortune, was at the head of 15,000 of these adventurers, consisting of Germans, Spaniards, and Swiss; and Bourbon, at the head of 10,000 more half-starved and half-clad mercenaries, was in possession of the whole duchy of Milan, but with no means of supporting his position. These two ferocious hordes having formed a junction under his banner, clamoured for their pay; Bourbon told them he had no money, and that Milan had been so repeatedly overrun and ravaged, that it was destitute of all means of supporting them; but that he would lead them into the enemy's country—into the richest cities of Italy—where they might amply indemnify themselves for all their past sufferings. Animated by these assurances, they swore to follow him whithersoever he might lead them. They marched on Rome, and sacked it, losing, however, their leader, who fell in the attack.

The news of the sacking of Rome, and the imprisonment of the Pope, excited the most lively sensations of horror and indignation throughout the Christian, and especially the Catholic, world. None appeared more affected than the emperor, by whose troops the sacrilegious deed had been perpetrated. He put himself and his Court into the deepest mourning, forbade rejoicing for the birth of his son, and commanded prayers to be offered in the churches throughout Spain for the liberation of His Holiness. No one could play off a piece of solemn hypocrisy more solemnly than Charles V. Francis and Henry, who were making a fresh treaty of alliance, were at once[145] affected with real or pretended horror. They agreed immediately to invade Italy with 30,000 foot, and 1,000 horse, to join the confederate army there, and drive out the troops of Spain, and liberate the Pope from the Castle of St. Angelo.

After the Portrait by Lucas Cranach, at Florence


(After the Portrait by Lucas Cranach, at Florence.)

But the time was now approaching which was to interrupt the friendship of Henry with the head of the Church of Rome. The Reformation in Germany had made an immense progress, and produced the most astonishing events. The whole mind and intellect of that country had been convulsed by the preaching of the doctrines of Luther. State had been set against state, prince against prince; and the bold monk of Wittenberg had only escaped the vengeance of the Church of Rome by the undaunted championship of the Elector of Saxony. Henry, fond of school divinity from his youth, and a great reader and admirer of Thomas Aquinas, had looked across to Germany with a grim and truculent glance, which seemed to rest on the blunt and unconventional Reformer with an expression of one who longed to strike down the daring heretic, and rid the world of him. As this was out of his power, he determined to annihilate him by his pen; and for this purpose he had written a book against him, with the title of "A Treatise on the Seven Sacraments, against Martin Luther, the Heresiarch, by the Illustrious Prince Henry VIII." This he had caused to be presented to the Pope by the English ambassador, beautifully written and magnificently bound, and Leo X. received it with the most extravagant laudations, and conferred on Henry in 1521 the title of "Defender of the Faith," in a bull signed by himself and twenty-seven cardinals. Henry really believed that he had crushed Luther and all his sect; but the free-mouthed Reformer, who paid no flatteries to king or Pope, soon convinced the literary monarch that he was as much alive as ever. He wrote a reply to Henry, in which, giving him commendation for writing in elegant language, he abused him and his work as broadly as he would have done that of the obscurest mortal. Henry, in his estimation, was "fool," "liar," "ass," "blasphemer." The correspondence which ensued was acrimonious.

The great defender of the faith, at the time at which we are now arrived, was growing dissatisfied with his wife, and was about to seek a divorce from her, which must necessarily involve the Pope in difficulties with the queen's nephew, the Emperor. Henry was married to Catherine when she was in her twenty-fifth year. So long as the disparity of their ages did not appear, for he was six years younger, and so long as she was pleasing in her person, he seemed not only satisfied with,[146] but really attached to her. But she was now forty-two years of age, had undergone much anxiety in her earlier years in England, had borne the king five children, three sons and two daughters, all of whom died in their infancy, except the Princess Mary, who lived to mount the throne. Catherine, of late years, had suffered much in her health, and we may judge from the best-known portrait of her that she had now lost her good looks, and had a bowed-down and sorrow-stricken air.

Anne Boleyn had been living in France, at first as attendant on Mary, King Henry's sister, the queen of Louis XII., and afterwards in the family of the Duke of Alençon. She returned to England on the breaking out of the war with Francis I., in 1522; and seems, by her beauty, wit, and accomplishments, to have created a great sensation in the English Court, where she was soon attached to the service of Queen Catherine. Henry is said to have first met her by accident, in her father's garden, at Hever Castle, in Kent; and was so charmed with her that he told Wolsey that he had been "discoursing with a young lady who had the wit of an angel, and was worthy of a crown." She is supposed at that time to have been about one-and-twenty, a brunette of tall and most graceful figure, and extremely accomplished.

The understanding between Henry and Anne Boleyn soon became obvious to the whole Court. The queen saw it as clearly as any one else, and upbraided Henry with it, but does not seem to have used any harshness to Anne on that account, though she occasionally gave her some sharp rubs. For instance, once when the queen was playing at cards with Anne Boleyn she thus addressed her, "My Lady Anne, you have the good hap ever to stop at a king; but you are like others, you will have all or none." Cavendish, Wolsey's secretary, says the queen at this trying crisis "behaved like a very patient Grissel."

Henry now having resolved to marry Anne Boleyn, as he found he could obtain her on no other terms, felt himself suddenly afflicted with lamentable scruples of conscience for being married to his brother's widow, and entertaining equally afflicting doubts of the power of the Pope to grant a dispensation for such a marriage. For eighteen years these scruples had rested in his bosom without disturbing a moment of his repose. It is true that these doubts had been started before the marriage by Archbishop Warham, but they had no weight with Henry or his father. Henry had gone into the marriage at the age of eighteen with his eyes open, having some time before, by his father's order, made a protest against it for State purposes, and had been ever since, till he saw Anne Boleyn, not only contented but jovial. Now, however, he soon ceased to be merely scrupulous—he became positive that his marriage was unlawful, and set to work to write a book to prove it. The king communicated to Wolsey fully his views regarding the divorce, and Wolsey, who had now his decided quarrel with Charles for deceiving him in the matter of the Papacy, and who was equally the enemy of Catherine, she having openly expressed her resentment of his procuring the destruction of the Duke of Buckingham, readily fell into the scheme. Wolsey was undoubtedly as well aware as any one of the love affair going on between Henry and Anne Boleyn; nothing that was moving at Court could escape him; but he supposed this affair was only of the same kind as the rest of Henry's gallantries, and his notion was that some foreign princess would be selected for Henry's second queen.

But during the discussions on the marriage between the English princess and the French prince, a circumstance had taken place which showed that Henry was resolved to let slip no opportunity of carrying his divorce at all costs. The Bishop of Tarbes suddenly asked the question whether the legitimacy of the Princess Mary was beyond every legal and canonical doubt, considering the nature of the king's marriage with her mother, the queen. Henry and Wolsey affected to be much astonished and agitated at the question; and the King afterwards made it an argument that the idea of the illegality of his marriage, though it had originated with himself, had been greatly strengthened by the question of the bishop, as it showed how apparent the fact was to strangers and even foreigners. Yet the suggestion had undoubtedly been made to the bishop by Wolsey on Henry's behalf. The meaning of the question was quite obvious—it was to serve the cause of the divorce, which was an object highly pleasing to Francis I., in his resentment of the treatment of himself by the Emperor; but it was not believed for a moment to indicate real doubt even on the part of the French king, or he would not have proceeded to confirm the choice of an illegitimate maiden for the Queen of France, or the wife of his son.

At the close of this treaty, Wolsey was sent over to France, rather to show to Europe, and particularly to the King of Spain, the intimate[147] footing between France and England, than for any real use. It was believed that Anne Boleyn and her friends were at the bottom of Wolsey's being sent abroad for a time, that the affairs regarding "the king's secret" might proceed without his cognisance; and, indeed, before his return, it had ceased to be a secret to any one. Anne had become openly acknowledged as the king's favourite, and had assumed an air and style of magnificence and consequence on account of it. Meantime, Wolsey, misled by his idea that the king meant to marry a foreign princess, had committed himself deeply, and supplied fresh and serious materials for his own destruction. He had given hints of the divorce of Henry, and of his probable marriage with a princess of the Court of France. He told Louise, the French king's mother, that "if she lived another year, she should see as great union on one side, and disunion on the other, as she would ask or wish for. These," he added, "were not idle words. Let her treasure them up in her memory; time would explain them."

The cardinal had, in fact, been looking round him at the French Court for a wife for Henry, and had selected the Princess Renée, sister of the late Queen Claude, while Henry himself had settled his choice nearer home. On the return of Wolsey, all being now prepared, Henry communicated to the astonished man the secret of his intended marriage with Anne. Confounded at the disclosure, the proud cardinal dropped on his knees, and, it is said, remained there for some hours pleading with the king against this infatuation, as he deemed it, and which he saw compromised himself with the Court of France, and menaced him darkly in the future, from the deep enmity of her who would thus become his queen. His pleadings and arguments were vain. His fair enemy had made her ground wholly secure in his absence, and Wolsey withdrew with gloomy forebodings.

The communication of the king's secret to Wolsey was immediately followed by more active measures, in which Wolsey, however averse, was obliged to co-operate. The king's treatise was now submitted to Sir Thomas More, who at once saw the peril of acting as a judge in so delicate a matter, declared that he was no theologian, and therefore unqualified to decide. It was next laid before the Bishop of Rochester, who decided against it. Henry then directed Sir Thomas to apply to some other of the bishops; but as he was hostile to the treatise himself, he was not likely to be a very persuasive pleader for it with others. None of the bishops would commit themselves, and Sir Thomas advised Henry to see what St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and the other fathers of the Church said upon it. Henry then employed the more unscrupulous agency of Wolsey with the prelates, who plied them with all his eloquence; but the most that he could obtain from them was that the arguments of the king's book furnished a reasonable ground for a scruple, and that he had better apply to the Holy See, and abide by its decision.

With the nation at large, the proposal of the amorous king was still less popular than with the bishops. They had a great veneration for the insulted Catherine, who had maintained for so many years the most fair and estimable character on the throne, and against whose virtue not a word had ever been breathed. They attributed this scheme to the acts of the cardinal, who was the enemy of the Emperor and the warm ally of France; and they dreaded that the divorce might lead to war and the suppression of the profitable trade with the Netherlands.

Unable to obtain much sanction at home, Henry at length referred the cause to the Pope; and Stephen Gardiner—then known by the humble name of Mr. Stephen—and Bishop Fox went in 1528 to Italy with the Royal instructions. The grand difficulty was to effect the divorce in so legal and complete a manner that no plea might be able to be brought against the legitimacy of the proposed marriage. For three months fresh instructions were issued and revoked, and issued in amended form again, which were laid before Dr. Knight, the king's agent at the Papal Court, and the three brothers Casali, Wolsey's agents, and before Staphilaeo, Dean of the Rota, who had been gained over whilst lately in London.

But the Emperor had not been idle. The Pope, as we have seen, had been shut up by the Imperial troops in the Castle of St. Angelo; and, in negotiation for his liberation, Charles had made it one of the principal stipulations of his release that he should not consent to act preparatory to a divorce without the previous knowledge of Charles himself. Scarcely had the Pope made his escape to Orvieto, when the English emissaries appeared before him. Poor Clement was thrown into a terrible dilemma. The Imperialists were still in possession of Rome, and if he consented to the request of Henry, he had nothing to expect but vengeance from the Emperor. To make the[148] matter worse, a French army, under the command of Lautrec, and accompanied by Sir Robert Jerningham as the English commissary, which had been sent over the Alps to his assistance, and to enable him to recover his capital, loitered at Piacenza, and delayed the chance of the restoration and defence of Rome.

The English envoys presented to him two instruments, which had been prepared by the learned agents above named, by the first of which he was to empower Wolsey, or in case of any objection to him, Staphilaeo, to hear and decide the case of the divorce; and by the second he was to grant Henry a dispensation to marry, in the place of Catherine, any other woman soever, even if she were already promised to another, or related to him in the first degree of affinity. This was a most extraordinary proceeding, an acknowledgment by Henry of the very power in the Pope which he affected to doubt and deny. The objection to the marriage of Henry with Catherine was that she was within the proscribed degree of affinity, having been his brother's wife. Moreover, as Henry was accused, and this instrument appeared to admit the charge, of having established the same degree of relationship, though illicitly, with Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne, as had existed between Catherine and his brother legally, this document was to prevent any objections to the marriage with Anne.

The Pope signed both instruments, but recommended that Henry should keep them secret till the French army, under Lautrec, should arrive, and free him from fears, even for his life, of the vengeance of the Emperor. When this should have taken place, he promised to issue a second commission of the same import, which might at once be publicly proceeded with.

Scarcely, however, had Dr. Knight left Orvieto, when Gregorio da Casali brought a request from the English Court that a legate from Rome might be joined in the commission with Wolsey. To this Clement observed that the King of England was pursuing a very circuitous course. If the king was really convinced in his conscience that his present marriage was null, he had better marry again, and then he himself or a legate could decide the question at once. But if a legate were to sit in jurisdiction, there must be appeals to himself in Rome, exceptions, and adjournments, which would make it an affair of years. But, after saying this, the Pope signed the requisition.

At the instigation of Wolsey, who was anxious that the treaty which he had signed with France should be carried into effect, war was now declared formally against the Emperor. The news of the war was received in England with the utmost disgust and discontent. The people denounced the cardinal as the troubler of the kingdom and the interrupter of its commerce. The merchants refused to frequent the new marts in France, which were appointed instead of their accustomed ones in the Netherlands. The wool-combers, spinners, and clothiers were stopped in their sales by this resolve on the part of the merchants; their people were all thrown out of work; and the spirit of commotion grew so strong that there were serious fears of open outbreaks. In the council, the cardinal had as little support in his policy as he did elsewhere. There was not a member, except himself, who was an advocate of the French alliance; but all his colleagues at the council-table were eagerly watching for some chance which should hasten his downfall. Even the king himself was averse from the war with his nephew; and especially as he was aware that the fear of Charles's resentment deterred Clement from cordially proceeding with the divorce; and Henry hinted that if peace were restored, Charles might be induced to withdraw his opposition. Fortunately, the Flemings were as much incommoded by the breach of commercial relations as the English; and the Archduchess Margaret, the Governess of the Netherlands, had the prudence to make a proposition that peace should be restored. Negotiations commenced, and were carried on for some time for a general pacification; but this being proved unattainable, a peace was concluded with the Netherlands, and the state of war was allowed to remain between England and Spain.

But the fact was, the war, so far as regarded these two countries, was merely nominal; it raged only in Italy, between the French and the Imperialists. Henry had no money for war, and, besides, his whole thoughts and energies were occupied in carrying through the divorce, which he now found a most formidable affair, fresh difficulties starting up at every step. Had Catherine been only an English subject, instead of the aunt of the great monarch of Germany, Flanders, and Spain, Henry would have made short work of his conscience and of the poor woman who was in the way. He would have charged her with some heinous and revolting crime, and severed her head from her shoulders at a blow, and all his difficulties with it. But he had not only royal blood to deal with, but all the ancient prejudices that surrounded it, and which would have made him execrated over the whole world had he spilled it. He knew that Charles was watching intently to catch him at a disadvantage, and he never felt himself safe in his proceedings.

After the Picture by Laslett J. Pott


(After the Picture by Laslett J. Pott.)


It now occurred to him that, though the Pope had granted permission for Wolsey and the legate to decide this momentous question, yet he might be induced, by the influence of Charles, to revise and reverse the sentence pronounced by his delegates: and this might involve him in inextricable dilemmas, especially should he have acted on the sentence of divorce, and married again.

Clement was placed in a very trying situation. He was anxious to oblige Henry, but to grant the bull confirming the sentence to be pronounced by Wolsey and the Legate, was to annihilate the dogma of Papal infallibility, for Julius II. had granted the Church's dispensation, notwithstanding the fact of Catherine's union with Henry's brother. Clement had been also informed that Henry's object was only to gratify the wish of a woman who was already living in adultery with him. But this was rebutted by a letter already received from Wolsey, assuring the Pope that Anne Boleyn was a lady of unimpeachable character. Driven from this point, Clement still demurred as to the formidable bull; and only consented, after consultation with a convocation of cardinals and theologians, to issue an order for a commission to inquire into the validity of the dispensation granted by Pope Julius, and to revoke it, if it was found to have been by any means surreptitiously obtained.

Campeggio, who had most reluctantly undertaken the appointment of commissioner in this case, was all this time slowly, very slowly, progressing towards England. He was an eminent professor of the canon law, and an experienced statesman. He had been a married man, and had a family; but, on the death of his wife, in 1509, he had taken orders, was made cardinal in 1517, and had been employed by Leo and his successors in various arduous cases to their highest satisfaction. Campeggio arrived in London at last, on the 7th of October, 1528, but in such exhaustion, from violent and long attacks of the gout, that he was carried in a litter to his lodgings, and remained for some time confined to his bed. Henry, with his characteristic hypocrisy, on the approach of the legate, again sent away his mistress, and recalled his obliging wife, with whom he appeared to be living on the most affectionate terms. They had the same bed and board, and went regularly through the same devotions. The arrival of the legate raised the courage of the people, who were unanimous in the favour of the queen, and, though Wolsey made every exertion to silence and restrain them, they loudly declared that, let the king marry whom he pleased, they would acknowledge no successor in prejudice to Mary.

It was a fortnight before the legate was ready to see the king. On the 22nd of October he made his visit, and was, of course, most graciously received by Henry and the cardinal, but they could extract from him no opinion as to the probable result of the inquiry which was at hand. Henry and Wolsey exerted all their arts to win over the great man. The king paid him constant visits; and to mollify and draw him out heaped all sorts of flatteries upon him, and made him the most brilliant promises. He had already made him Bishop of Salisbury, and presented him with a splendid palace in Rome; and he now offered to confer on him the rich bishopric of Durham, and knighted his son Ridolfo, by whom he was accompanied. But nothing moved the impenetrable ecclesiastic; for if favours were heaped on him here, terrors awaited him at Rome if he betrayed the trust of his master, the Pope. He replied to all solicitations that he had every disposition to serve the king, so far as his conscience would permit him. To produce a favourable bias in the opinions of the inexorable man, the judgments of eminent divines and doctors of the canon law on the king's case were laid before him. These he read, but still kept his own ideas locked in his breast.

Henry next endeavoured to obtain from Campeggio the publication of the decretal bull, or, at least, that it should be shown to the Privy Council, but the legate remained firm to his instructions. The king's agents at the same time plied Clement with persuasives to the same end, but with the same result. So far from giving way, the agents informed Henry that the Emperor had given back to the Pope Civita Vecchia and all the fortresses which he had taken from the Holy See, and that it was to be feared that there was a secret understanding between the Pope and Charles. At this news Henry despatched Sir Francis Bryan, Master of the Henchmen, and Peter Vannes, his secretary of the Latin tongue, to Francis I., upbraiding him with his neglect in permitting this to go[151] on; and they then proceeded to Italy, and requested the Pope to cite all Christian princes to meet in Avignon and settle their differences. In the meantime these agents were to consult the most celebrated canonists at Rome on the following extraordinary points:—"1. Whether, if a wife were to make a vow of chastity, and enter a convent, the Pope could not, in the plenitude of his power, authorise the husband to marry again. 2. Whether, if the husband were to enter into a religious order, that he might induce the wife to do the same, he might not afterwards be released from his vow, and have liberty to marry. 3. Whether, for reasons of State, the Pope could not license a prince to have, like the ancient patriarchs, two wives, of whom one only should be publicly acknowledged, and enjoy the honours of royalty."

On the 6th of February, 1529, the intelligence arrived that Clement was dying, and by that time was probably dead. Now was the time to place Wolsey in the Papal chair, and thus end all difficulties. Francis promised cordially to aid in the attempt; but, to their dismay, Clement revived, and dashed their hopes to the ground. Made desperate by these chances, Henry now gave the invalid Pope no rest from his solicitations. His agents forced themselves into his very sick chamber, and demanded that the fatal mandate of dispensation granted by Julius II.—a copy of which Catherine had obtained from Spain—should be revoked, or that Charles should be compelled to exhibit the original. But the Pope remained firm. He declared that he could not depart from the course already prescribed, that Catherine had even entered a protest in his Court against the persons of her judges, and he recommended Henry to lose no time, but to try to determine the matter in his own realm.

The Court which was to try the cause met in the Parliament chamber in the Blackfriars, and summoned the king and queen to appear before it on the 18th of June. Henry appeared by proxy; Catherine obeyed the summons in person, but only to protest against the judges as the subjects of Henry, her accuser, and to appeal to the Pope. This appeal was overruled, and the Court adjourned to the 21st of June. On this day both Henry and Catherine appeared, the king sitting in state on the right hand of the cardinal and legate, and Catherine sat on their left, attended by four friendly bishops. On their names being called, Henry answered "Here!" but Catherine was unable to reply. On being again cited, however, she rose and repeated her protest on three grounds,—first, as being a stranger; secondly, because the judges were subjects, and held benefices, the gift of her adversary; and last, because from such a Court she could not expect impartiality. This protest being held inadmissible, she rose again, crossed herself, and, leaning on her maids, approached the king, threw herself at his feet, and addressed him in a pathetic speech.

On the 25th of June Catherine was summoned before the Court again, but she refused to appear, sending in, however, and causing to be read, her appeal to the Pope. On this she was declared contumacious; and the king's counsellors asserted that the following points had been clearly proved:—That her marriage with Prince Arthur had been consummated, and, therefore, her marriage with Henry was unlawful; that the dispensation of Julius II. had been obtained under false pretences and a concealment of facts; and that the Papal brief which had been sent from Spain was a forgery. They therefore called on the judges to pronounce for the divorce. But even had all this been proved, which it had not, Campeggio was not intending to do anything of the kind. The peace which had been rumoured between the Pope and the Emperor had been signed on the 29th of June, and Clement was now much at his ease. On the 23rd of July, no progress being made, Henry summoned the Court, and demanded judgment in imperious terms. But Campeggio replied with unmoved dignity:—"I have not come so far to please any man for fear, meed, or favour, be he king or any other potentate. I am an old man, sick, decayed, looking daily for death; what should it then avail me to put my soul in the danger of God's displeasure, to my utter damnation, for the favour of any prince or high estate in this world? Forasmuch, then, that I perceive that the truth in this case is very difficult to be known; that the defendant will make no answer thereunto, but hath appealed from our judgment; therefore, to avoid all injustice and obscure doubts, I intend to proceed no further in this matter until I have the opinion of the Pope and such others of his council as have more experience and learning. I, for this purpose, adjourn this Court till the commencement of the next term, in the beginning of October."

It would be difficult to conceive the state of agitation into which the Court of Henry was now thrown. Instead of receiving a decision, it was put off till October; and this was not the worst,[152] for in a few days news arrived that the commission of the cardinals had been revoked by the Pope on the 15th of July, or eight days previous to the adjournment, and that the Papal Court had entertained the appeal of Queen Catherine, and recalled Campeggio. Thus, not even in October was there any chance of a decision, and had such been arrived at now it would have been null, the commission having previously expired. Still worse, while Henry was in the highest state of irritation, there came an instrument from Rome, forbidding him to pursue his cause by the legates, but citing him to appear by attorney in the Papal Court, under a penalty of 10,000 ducats. Campeggio departed from England at the commencement of Michaelmas term. At the interview in which he took his leave of the king, Henry behaved with much politeness to the Italian legate, but treated Wolsey with marked coldness. Showing a disposition to relent later on in the same day, Henry was at once so worked upon by the Boleyn faction that he undertook never more to see the cardinal, whose fall was now certain.

Indeed, on account of his failure to obtain the divorce, Wolsey was doomed to destruction. On the 9th of October, the same month as he opened the Court of Chancery, he perceived a deadly coldness as of winter frost around him. No one did him honour—the sun of Royal favour had set to him for ever. On the same day Hales, the attorney-general, filed two bills against him in the King's Bench, charging him with having incurred the penalty of Præmunire by acting in the kingdom as the Pope's legate. This was a most barefaced accusation, for he had accepted the legatine authority by Henry's express permission; had exercised it for many years with his full knowledge and approbation, and, in the affairs of the divorce, at the earnest request of the king. But Henry VIII. had no law but his own will, and never wanted reasons for punishing those who had offended him.

Of Wolsey, as he appeared at this moment, scathed and stunned by the thunderbolt of the royal wrath, we have a striking picture. The Bishop of Bayonne, the French ambassador, says in a letter:—"I have been to visit the cardinal in his distress, and I have witnessed the most striking change of fortune. He explained to me his hard case in the worst rhetoric that was ever heard. Both his tongue and his heart failed him. He recommended himself to the pity of the king and madame [Francis I. and his mother] with sighs and tears; and at last left me, without having said anything near so moving as his appearance. His face is dwindled to one-half its natural size. In truth, his misery is such that his enemies, Englishmen as they are, cannot help pitying him. Still, they will carry things to extremities. As for his legation, the seals, his authority, etc., he thinks no more of them. He is willing to give up everything, even the shirt from his back, and live in a hermitage, if the king would but desist from his displeasure."

On the 17th of October Henry sent the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk to demand the Great Seal; and they are said to have done that duty with some ungenerous triumph. But Wolsey delivered up his authority without complaint, and only sent in an offer surrendering all his personal estate to his gracious master, on condition that he might retire to his diocese on his church property. But the property of Wolsey had long been riveting the greedy eye of Henry, and, next to Anne Boleyn, that was, probably, the "weight which pulled him down." A message was soon brought him by the same noblemen that the king expected an entire and unconditional submission, whereupon he granted to the king the yearly profits of his benefices, and threw himself on his mercy. It was then intimated that His Majesty meant to reside at York Place (Whitehall) during the Parliament, and that Wolsey might retire to Esher Place, in Surrey, a house belonging to his bishopric of Winchester.

On the 3rd of November, after the long intermission of seven years, a Parliament was called together. The main object of this unusual occurrence was to complete the ruin of Wolsey, and place it beyond the power of the king to restore him to favour—a circumstance of which the courtiers were in constant dread. The committee of the House of Lords presented to the king a string of no less than forty-four articles against the fallen minister, enumerating and exaggerating all his offences, and calling upon the monarch to take such order with him "that he should never have any power, jurisdiction, or authority hereafter, to trouble, vex, and impoverish the commonwealth of this your realm, as he hath done heretofore, to the great hurt and damage of almost every man, high or low." This address was carried to the Commons for their concurrence; but there Thomas Cromwell, who by the favour of Wolsey had risen from the very lowest condition to be his friend and steward, and was now advanced to the king's service by the particular recommendation[153] of the cardinal, attacked the articles manfully, and caused the Commons to reject them, as the members were persuaded that Cromwell was acting by suggestion of the king; which is very probable, for so far from Henry showing Cromwell any dislike for this proceeding, he continued to promote him, till he became his prime minister, and was created Earl of Essex.


Henry, having now seized upon all the cardinal's property, the incomes of his bishoprics, abbeys, and other benefices, his colleges at Ipswich and Oxford, with all their furniture and revenues, his pensions, clothes, and even his very tomb, seemed contented to leave him his life. He, therefore, on the 12th of February, 1530, granted him a full pardon for all his real and pretended crimes. He allowed him, moreover, to retain the revenues of York. He gave him also a pension of 1,000 marks a year out of the bishopric of Winchester, and soon after sent him a present of £3,000 in money; and in plate, furniture, &c., the value of £3,374 3s. 7d., and gave him leave to reside at Richmond.

This new flow of royal favour wonderfully revived the cardinal's hopes, and as vividly excited the fears of the Boleyn party. To have this formidable man residing so near them as Richmond was too perilous to be thought of. Some fine morning the king might suddenly ride over there, and all be undone. Henry was, therefore,[154] besieged with entreaties to remove him farther from the Court, and to such a distance as should prevent the possibility of an interview. They prevailed, and Wolsey received an order through his friend Cromwell to go and reside in his archbishopric of York. To the cardinal, who felt a strong persuasion that if he could but obtain an interview with the king all would be set right, this was next to a death-warrant. He entreated Cromwell to obtain leave for him to reside at Winchester, but this was refused, and the Duke of Norfolk, Anne's uncle, sent Wolsey word that if he did not get away immediately into the North he would come and tear him in pieces with his teeth. "Then," said Wolsey, "it is time for me to be gone."

Delighted with their metropolitan, the clergy of York waited upon him in a body, and begged that he would allow himself to be installed in his cathedral, according to the custom of his predecessors. Wolsey, after taking time to consider of it, consented, on condition that it should be done with as little splendour as possible. No sooner, however, was this news divulged than the noblemen, gentlemen, and clergy of the county sent into York great quantities of provisions, and made preparations for a most magnificent feast. But this was suddenly prevented by a very unexpected event. On the 4th of November, only three days before the grand installation was to come off, the Earl of Northumberland, accompanied by Sir William Walsh and a number of horsemen, arrived at Cawood. Wolsey, believing in good news, went out to receive the Earl with a cheerful countenance; and, observing his numerous retinue, he said, "Ah! my lord, I perceive that you observe the precepts and instructions which I gave you, when you were abiding with me in your youth, to cherish your father's old servants." He then took the earl affectionately by the hand, and led him into a bed-chamber. There he no doubt expected to hear good tidings; but the earl, though greatly affected and embarrassed, laid his hand on the old man's shoulder, and said, "My lord, I arrest you of high treason." Wolsey was struck dumb, and stood motionless as a statue. He then bowed to the order, and prepared for his journey. On his way to London he was seized with dysentery at Sheffield Park, the mansion of the Earl of Shrewsbury. The attack left him so weak that he was glad to accept the hospitality of Leicester Abbey, where the abbot, at the head of a procession of the monks, with lighted torches, received him. He was completely worn out, and being lifted from his mule, said, "I am come, my brethren, to lay my bones amongst you." The monks carried him to his bed, where he swooned repeatedly; and the second morning his servants, who had watched him with anxious affection, saw that he was dying. He called to his bedside Sir William Kingston, and amongst others, addressed to him these remarkable words:—"Had I but served God as diligently as I have served the king, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs. But this is the just reward that I must receive for my diligent pains and study, not regarding my service to God, but only to my prince. Let me advise you to take care what you put in the king's head, for you can never put it out again. I have often kneeled before him, sometimes three hours together, to persuade him from his will and appetite, but could not prevail. He is a prince of most royal courage, and hath a princely heart; for, rather than miss or want any part of his will, he will endanger one half of his kingdom." On the 29th of November, 1530, thus died Thomas, Lord Cardinal Wolsey, one of the most extraordinary characters that was ever raised up and again overthrown by the mere will of a king, and who unconsciously contributed to one of the most extensive revolutions of human mind and government which the world has known.

In following the story of Wolsey to its close, we have a little overstepped the progress of affairs. As soon as the great man was out of the way, a ministry was formed of the leading persons of the Boleyn party. The Duke of Norfolk, Anne's uncle, was made President of the Council, Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Lord Marshal, and the Earl of Wiltshire, the father of Anne Boleyn, had a principal place. Sir Thomas More, unfortunately for him as it proved, was made Lord Chancellor instead of Wolsey, a promotion which he reluctantly accepted. Amongst the king's servants, Stephen Gardiner, who had been introduced and much employed by Wolsey, still remained high in the king's favour, and occupied the post of his secretary. Gardiner, a bigoted Catholic, and afterwards one of the most bloody persecutors of the Reformers, now, however, in trying to promote the wishes of the king for the divorce, unconsciously promoted the Reformation.

From the Painting by Sir John Gilbert, R.A., P.R.W.S. At the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington


From the Painting by Sir John Gilbert, R.A., P.R.W.S.
At the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington.


The king, returning from the progress which he had made to Moore Park, and to Grafton, remained one night at Waltham. Gardiner and Fox were lodged in the house of a Mr. Cressy, a gentleman of good family. After supper the conversation turned on the grand topic of the day—the king's divorce, and Gardiner and Fox detailed the difficulties that surrounded it, and the apparent impossibility of getting the Pope to move in it. A grave clergyman, the tutor of the family, of the name of Thomas Cranmer, after listening to the discourse, was asked by Fox and Gardiner what he thought of the matter. At first he declined to give his opinion on so high a matter, but being pressed, he said, he thought they were wrong altogether in the way they were seeking the divorce. As the Pope evidently would not commit himself upon the subject, his opinion was that they should not waste any more time in fruitless solicitations at Rome, but submit this plain question to the most learned men and chief universities of Europe: "Do the laws of God permit a man to marry his brother's widow?" If, as he imagined, the answers were in the negative, the Pope would not dare to pronounce a sentence in opposition to the opinions of all these learned men and learned bodies.

On the return of the Court to Greenwich, Fox and Gardiner related this conversation to the king, who instantly swore that "the man had got the right sow by the ear," and ordered him instantly to be sent for to Court. Cranmer, on his arrival, maintained his opinion in a manner which wonderfully delighted Henry, and raised his hope of having at length hit on the true mode of solving the difficulty.

Agents were despatched to obtain the required opinion from the different universities, both in England and on the Continent, well provided with that most persuasive of rhetoricians—money. At his own universities, however, Henry found no little opposition. On the Continent, where Henry's menaces had no weight, his purse was freely opened; and the universities of Bologna, Padua, and Ferrara, as well as many learned men, were prevailed on to take the view that Henry wished. In Germany his agents were far less successful. Both Protestants and Catholics in general condemned his proposed divorce; and Luther and Melanchthon said he had much better follow the example of the patriarchs, and take a second wife, than put away the first without any crime on her part. From France and its fourteen universities Henry expected much more compliance, but he was disappointed. From Orleans, Toulouse, and Bourges, and from the civilians of Angers, doubtful decisions were procured, but the theologians of the last city maintained the validity of the existing marriage. The answers from other universities were either not received or were suppressed.

The scheme of Cranmer had not worked particularly well; the opinions of the universities were for the most part either adverse, or were forced, and those of learned men more opposed than coinciding. There needed a more determined spirit than that of Cranmer to break the way through the wood of embarrassments in which they were involved, and the right man now stepped forward in Thomas Cromwell, the former secretary of Wolsey. He sought an interview with Henry, and determined, according to his own phrase, "to make or mar," thus addressed him:—"It was not," he observed, "for him to affect to give advice where so many wise and abler men had failed, but when he saw the anxiety of his sovereign, he could no longer be silent, whatever might be the result. There was a clear and obvious course to pursue. Let the king do just what the princes of Germany had done, throw off the yoke of Rome; and let him, by the authority, declare himself, as he should be, the head of the Church within his own dominions. At present England was a monster with two heads. But let the king assume the authority now usurped by a foreign pontiff, an authority from which so many evils and confusions to this realm had flowed, and the monstrosity would be at an end; all would be simple, harmonious, and devoid of difficulty. The clergy, sensible that their lives and fortunes were in the hands of their own monarch—hands which could be no longer paralysed by alien interference—from haughty antagonists would instantly become the obsequious ministers of his will."

Henry listened to this new doctrine with equal wonder and delight, and he thanked Cromwell heartily, and had him instantly sworn of his privy council.

No time was lost in trying the efficacy of Cromwell's daring scheme. To sever that ancient union, which had existed so many ages, and was hallowed in the eyes of the world by so many proud recollections was a task at which the stoutest heart and most iron resolution might have trembled; but Cromwell had taken a profound survey of the region he was about to invade, and had learned its weakest places. He relied on the unscrupulous impetuosity of the king's passion to bear him through; he relied far more on the finesse of his own genius. With the calmest resolution, he laid his finger on one single page of the statute-book, and knew that he was master of the Church. The law which rendered any one who received favours direct from the Pope guilty of a breach of the Statute of Præmunire, permitted the monarch to[156] suspend the action of this Statute at his discretion. This he had done in the case of Wolsey. When he accepted the legatine authority, the cardinal took care to obtain a patent under the Great Seal, authorising the exercise of this foreign power. But Wolsey, when he was called in question for the administration of an office thus especially sanctioned by the Crown, neglected to produce this deed of indemnity, hoping still to be restored to the royal favour, and unwilling to irritate the king by any show of self-defence. There lay the concealed weapon which the shrewd eye of Cromwell had detected, and by which he could overturn the ecclesiastical fabric of ages. He declared, to the consternation of the whole hierarchy, that not only had Wolsey involved himself in all the penalties of Præmunire, but the whole of the clergy with him. They had admitted his exercise of the Papal authority, and thereby were become, in the language of the Statute, his "fautors and abettors."

Dire was the dismay which at this charge seized on the whole body of the clergy. The council ordered the Attorney-General to file an information against the entire ecclesiastical body. Convocation assembled in haste, and offered, as the price of a full pardon, £100,000. But still greater were the amazement and dismay of the clergy, when they found that this magnificent sum was rejected unless Convocation consented to declare, in the preamble to the grant, that the king was "the protector and only supreme head of the Church of England." By the king's permission, however, the venerable Archbishop Warham introduced and carried an amendment in Convocation, by which the grant was voted with this clause in the preamble:—"Of which church and clergy we acknowledge His Majesty to be the chief protector, the only and supreme lord, and, as far as the law of God will allow, the supreme head." The wedge was introduced; the severance was certain: the perfect accomplishment of it only awaited another opportunity for an easier issue. The northern convocation adopted the same language, and voted a grant of £18,840.

Henry, under the guidance of Cromwell, now procured an act to be passed by Parliament, abolishing the annates, or first-fruits, which furnished a considerable annual income to the Pope, and another abrogating the authority of the clergy in Convocation, and attaching that authority to the Crown. Feeling that in this struggle he should need the friendship of Francis, he proposed a new treaty with France, which was signed in London on the 23rd of June, 1532; and the more to strengthen the alliance the two monarchs met between Calais and Boulogne. Great preparations were made on both sides, and Henry begged Francis to bring his favourite mistress with him. This was as an excuse for Henry to bring Anne Boleyn, who was now created the Marchioness of Pembroke, and without whom he could go nowhere. It is said that Francis, during the interview, had urged Henry to wait no longer for the permission of the Pope, but to marry the Marchioness of Pembroke without further delay; but it is quite certain that another counsellor was more urgent, and that was—Time. It was high time, indeed, that the marriage should take place if they meant to legitimatise her offspring, for Anne Boleyn was with child. Accordingly, the marriage took place on the 25th of January, 1533. The ceremony, however, was strictly private. In fact the marriage was kept so secret that it was not even communicated to Cranmer, who had just returned from Germany, and taken up his abode in the family of Anne Boleyn. Cranmer, whilst in Germany, had married, Catholic priest as he was, the niece of Osiander, the Protestant minister of Nuremberg. This lady he had brought secretly to England, and was now living a married priest, in direct violation of the Church that he belonged to.

Archbishop Warham was now dead, and Henry nominated Cranmer to the vacant primacy. He was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury on the 30th of March, 1533, and he was immediately ordered to proceed with the divorces. The new primate, therefore, wrote on the 11th of April, a formal letter to the king, soliciting the issue of a commission to try that cause, and pronounce a definite sentence. This was immediately done; and Cranmer, as the head of this commission, accompanied by Gardiner, now Bishop of Winchester, the Bishops of London, Lincoln, Bath, and Wells, with many other divines and canonists, opened their court at Dunstable, in the monastery of St. Peter, six miles from Ampthill, where the queen resided. On the 12th of May Cranmer pronounced Catherine contumacious, and on the 23rd, he declared her marriage was null and invalid from the beginning. On the 28th, in a court held at Lambeth, the archbishop pronounced the king's marriage with Anne Boleyn to be good and valid. On the 1st of June, being Whit Sunday, Anne was crowned with every possible degree of pomp and display.

Henry, notwithstanding his separation from[157] Rome, was anxious to obtain the sanction of his marriage by the Pope; but, instead of that, Clement fulminated his denunciations against him over Europe. He annulled Cranmer's sentence on Henry's first marriage, and published a bull excommunicating Henry and Anne, unless they separated before the next September, when the new queen expected her confinement. Henry despatched ambassadors to the different foreign courts to announce his marriage, and the reasons which had led him to it; but from no quarter did he receive much congratulation.


However sincere and earnest the two principals in this contest, the Pope and Henry, might be, there were at work in the Court of England and the Court of Rome parties really more powerful than their principals, who were resolved that the two desiderata to this pacification never should be yielded. Cromwell and his party commenced an active campaign in Parliament for breaking beyond remedy the tie with Rome, and establishing an independent church in this country. This able man, who for his past services was now made Chancellor of the Exchequer for life, framed a series of bills, and introduced them to Parliament, soon after the Christmas holidays. These included an act establishing the title of the king as supreme head of the English Church, and vesting in him the right to appoint to all bishoprics, and to decide all ecclesiastical causes. Payments or appeals to Rome were strictly forbidden by the confirmation of the Annates Act, the Act against "Peter[158] Pence," and that "in Restraint of appeals" whereby the whole Roman jurisdiction in England was decisively repudiated.

By a further bill, the marriage of Catherine—strangely enough at the very moment that Henry had conceded its final decision at Rome—was declared unlawful, and that of Anne Boleyn confirmed. The issue by the first marriage was declared illegitimate, and excluded from the succession, and the issue of the marriage of Anne was made inheritable of the crown, and that only, and any one casting any slander on this marriage, or endeavouring to prejudice the succession of its issue, was declared guilty of high treason, if by writing, printing, or deed, and misprision of treason if by word. Thus was a new power established by the Crown; every person of full age, or on hereafter coming to full age, was to be sworn to obey this act. Not only new powers were thus created, but a new crime was invented; and though this statute was swept away in the course of a few years, yet it is a remarkable one, for it became the precedent for many a succeeding and despotic government.


REIGN OF HENRY VIII. (continued).

The Maid of Kent and Her Accomplices—Act of Supremacy and Consequent Persecutions—The "Bloody Statute"—Deaths of Fisher and More—Suppression of the Smaller Monasteries—Trial and Death of Anne Boleyn—Henry Marries Jane Seymour—Divisions in the Church—The Pilgrimage of Grace—Birth of Prince Edward—Death of Queen Jane—Suppression of the Larger Monasteries—The Six Articles—Judicial Murders—Persecution of Cardinal Pole—Cromwell's Marriage Scheme—Its Failure and his Fall.

The discontent aroused in the country amongst those attached to the church of Rome, by the separation, and by the seizure of church property, with the fear of still greater spoliation, excited many murmurings. The king, aware that his proceedings were regarded with disapprobation by a vast body of people both at home and abroad, grew suspicious of every rumour, jealous, and vindictive. Amongst the singular conspiracies against the royal transactions, one of the earliest arose out of the visions of a young woman of Addington, in Surrey, of the name of Elizabeth Barton, who was of a nervous temperament, and whose mind was greatly excited by the sufferings of Queen Catherine. The rector of the parish, struck by many of the words which fell from her in her trances, regarded her as a religiously inspired person, and recommended her to quit the village, and enter the convent of St. Sepulchre at Canterbury. There her ecstacies and revelations, probably strengthened by the atmosphere of the place, became more frequent and strong. The nuns regarded her declarations as prophecies, and the fame of her soon spread round the country, where she acquired the name of the "Holy Maid of Kent." It was observed that her visions had all a tendency to exalt the power of the Pope and the clergy, and to denounce the vengeance of Heaven on all who disobeyed or attempted to injure them. At length Henry considered that the words of the maid, which were sedulously taken down and circulated through the press, were a powerful means of stirring up the popular feeling against him, and he therefore ordered the arrest of herself and the chief of her accomplices.

In November they were brought into the Star Chamber and carefully examined by Cranmer, the archbishop, Cromwell, and Hugh Latimer, who soon after was made Bishop of Worcester. This tribunal appears to have intimidated both the maid and her abettors into a confession of the imposture, and they were condemned to stand during the sermon on Sunday at St. Paul's Cross, and there acknowledge the fraud. After that they were remanded to prison, and it was thought that, having disarmed these people by this exposure, he would be satisfied with the punishment they had received. But Henry was now become every day more and more addicted to blood, and ready to shed it for any infringement of those almost Divine rights which the supremacy of the Church had conferred on him. On the 21st of February,[159] 1534, therefore, a bill of attainder was brought into the House of Lords against the maid and her abettors, on the plea that their conspiracy tended to bring into peril the king's life and crown. The bill, notwithstanding that it was regarded with horror by the public as a strange and cruel stretch of authority, was passed by the slavish Parliament; and on the 21st of April, 1534, the seven accused were drawn to Tyburn and hanged. Besides the persons who suffered immediately with her, there were also accused of corresponding with her, Edward Thwaites, gentleman, Thomas Lawrence, registrar to the Archdeacon of Canterbury, the venerable Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas More.

Fisher, who was in his seventy-sixth year, confessed that he had seen and conversed with Elizabeth Barton; that he had heard her utter her prophecies concerning the king; and that he had not mentioned them to the sovereign, because her declarations did not refer to any violence against him, but merely to a visitation of Providence; and because, also, he knew that the king had received the communication of the prophecies from the maid herself, who had had for that purpose a private audience with Henry. He was, therefore, he said, guiltless of any conspiracy, and as he would answer it before the throne of Christ, knew not of any malice or evil that was intended by her or by any other earthly creature unto the king's highness.

The name of Sir Thomas More was erased from this bill, though he could not be more innocent than Fisher, but not more than a fortnight passed before the bloodthirsty tyrant had contrived a more deadly snare for them both. He had them summoned, and commanded to take the new oath of allegiance. They were both of them ready to swear to the king's full temporal authority, and to the succession of his children, but they could not conscientiously take the oath which declared Henry the supreme head of the English Church, and the marriage with Anne Boleyn lawful. Cranmer, who on this occasion showed more mildness and liberality than he had shown honest principles in his elevation, would fain have admitted these illustrious men to take the oath so far as it applied to temporal, and to dispense with it as regarded spiritual matters. But he pleaded in vain, and they were both committed to the Tower.

Henry, having got the Acts of Parliament for the Supremacy and the Succession, was not of a temper to let them become a dead letter. Whether it was owing to the carelessness of Parliament or the carefulness of the Crown, the oath of the Succession had not been verbally defined, and Henry now availed himself of this emission to alter and add to it so as to please himself. From the clergy he took care to obtain an oath including the full recognition of his supremacy in the Church, omitting the qualifying clause in the former one; and an assertion that the Bishop of Rome had no more authority within the realm than any other bishop. He spent the summer in administering this oath to the monks, friars, and nuns, also to all clergymen and clerical bodies whatever, and in obtaining decisions against the papal authority from the two convocations and the universities. The oath to the laity was administered to men and women alike. Remembering the mental reservation of Cranmer when he swore obedience to the Pope, he now demanded from every prelate an oath of renunciation of every protest previously or secretly made contrary to the oath of supremacy. He ordered that the very word Pope should be obliterated carefully out of all books used in public worship.

If Henry had been a zealous Reformer, a disciple of the new creed, we might have attributed his proceedings to an arbitrary and uncharitable earnestness for what he deemed the truth; but he was just as bigoted in the old faith as ever. His Bloody Statute, as it was called, the Statute of Six Articles, maintained that the actual presence was in the sacramental bread and wine; that priests were forbidden to marry; that vows of chastity were to be observed; and that mass and auricular confession were indispensable. Those who opposed any of these dogmas were to suffer death; no doctrine was to be believed contrary to the Six Articles; no persons were to sing or rhyme contrary to them; no book was to be possessed by any one against the Holy Sacrament; no annotations or preambles were to exist in Bibles or Testaments in English; and nothing was to be taught contrary to the king's command. In fact, the country had only got rid of an Italian Pope and got an English one in his stead—Pope Henry VIII.

The first-fruits of this awful concession to a vain and selfish man of the usurpation of God's own dominion in the soul, were an indiscriminating mass of Lollards, Lutherans, Anabaptists, and Roman Catholics committed to the flames. On the 22nd of July, during the prorogation of Parliament, Firth, a young man of singular learning, who had written a book against purgatory,[160] transubstantiation, and consubstantiation, was burnt in Smithfield; and a poor tailor, Andrew Hewett, who simply affirmed that he thought Firth was right, was burnt with him. Several Anabaptists underwent the same fate.

After the Portrait by Holbein

SIR THOMAS MORE. (After the Portrait by Holbein.)

As that year closed in blood, so the next opened. The priors of the then Charterhouses of London, Axholm, and Belleval, waited on Cromwell to explain their conscientious scruples; but Cromwell, who was become the harsh and unhesitating instrument of Henry's despotism, instead of listening to them, committed them to the Tower on a charge of high treason, for refusing the king "the dignity, style, and name of his Royal estate." When he brought them to trial the jury shrank from giving such a verdict against men of their acknowledged virtue and character. Cromwell hastened to the court in person, and threatened to hang them instead of the prisoners, if they did not without further delay pronounce them guilty. Five days later these three dignitaries were executed at Tyburn, with Richard Reynolds, a doctor of divinity and monk of Sion, and John Hailes, Vicar of Thistleworth. They were all treated with savage barbarity, being hanged, cut down alive, embowelled, and dismembered. On the 18th of June, nearly a fortnight afterwards, Exmew, Middlemore, and Newdigate, three Carthusian monks from the Charterhouse, were executed, with the same atrocities.



Whilst these horrors struck with consternation all at home, Henry proceeded to a deed which extended the feeling of abhorrence all over Europe. He shed the blood of Fisher and More. We have stated that Parliament had not enacted the precise oath for the refusal of which Fisher and More were arraigned. But this made no difference: the king willed it, and the submissive legislature passed a bill of attainder for misprision of treason against them both. On this they and their families were stripped of everything they had. The poor old bishop was left in a complete state of destitution, and had not even clothes to cover his nakedness. Sir Thomas More was dependent wholly for the support of his life on his married daughter, Margaret Roper. They were repeatedly called up after their attainder, and treacherously examined as to any act or word that they might have done or uttered contrary to the king's supremacy, as if to aggravate their crime and justify a more rigorous sentence. The Pope Clement was dead, and was succeeded by Paul III., who, hearing of the sad condition of the venerable Fisher, sent him a cardinal's hat, thinking it might make Henry less willing to proceed to extremities with him. But the effect on the tyrant was quite the contrary. On hearing of the Pope's intention, he exclaimed, "Ha! Paul may send him a hat, but I will take care that he have never a head to wear it on."

Accordingly, the aged prelate was brought out of the Tower on the 22nd of June, 1535, and beheaded. His head was stuck upon London Bridge, with his face turned towards the Kentish hills, amid which he had spent so many pleasant years. The body of the old bishop was stripped, and left naked on the spot till evening, when it was carried away by the guards, and buried in Allhallows churchyard at Barking. Such was the manner in which this supreme head of the Church treated his former tutor, and one of the most accomplished and pious men in Christendom.

More, the scholar, the wit, the genius, raised reluctantly to the chancellorship, had there so far deteriorated from the noble mood in which he had written his "Utopia" as to have become, contrary to all its doctrines and spirit, a persecutor. On the 14th of June he was visited in the Tower by Doctors Aldridge, Layton, Curwen, and Mr. Bedle, and there strictly interrogated in the presence of Pelstede, Whalley, and Rice, as to whether he had held any correspondence since he came into the Tower with Bishop Fisher, or others, and what had become of the letters he had received. He replied that George, the lieutenant's servant, had put them into the fire, against his wish, saying there was no better keeper than the fire. He was then asked whether he would not acknowledge the lawfulness of the king's marriage, and his headship of the Church. He declined to give an answer.

At length, on the 1st of July, he was brought out of the Tower, and was conducted on foot through the streets of London to Westminster. He was wrapped only in a coarse woollen garment, his hair had grown grey, his face was pale and emaciated, for he had been nearly a year a close prisoner. This was thought well calculated to teach a lesson of obedience to the people; when they saw how the king handled even ex-chancellors and cardinals. When he arrived, bowed with suffering, and supporting himself on a staff, in that hall where he had presided with so much dignity, all who saw him were struck with astonishment. In order to confound him, and prevent the dreaded effect of his eloquence, his enemies had caused the indictment against him to be drawn out an immense length, and the charges to be grossly exaggerated and enveloped in clouds of words. Sentence of death was pronounced upon him, and he rose to address the Court. In the rudest manner they attempted to silence him, and twice, by their clamour, they succeeded; but the firmness of the noble victim at length triumphed, and he told them that he could now openly avow what he had before concealed from every human being, that the oath of supremacy was contrary to English law. He declared that he had no enmity against his judges. There would, he observed, have always been a scene of contention, and he prayed that as Paul had consented to the death of Stephen, and yet was afterwards called to tread in the same path, and ascend to the same heaven, so might he and they yet meet there. "And so," he added, in conclusion, "may God preserve you all, and especially my lord the king, and send him good counsel."

As he turned from the bar, his son rushed through the hall, fell upon his knees, and implored his blessing; and, on approaching the Tower Wharf, his daughter, Margaret Roper, forced her way through the guard which surrounded him, and, clasping him round the neck, wept and sobbed aloud. The noble man, now clothed with all the calm dignity of the Christian philosopher, summoned fortitude enough to take a loving and a final farewell of her; but as he was moved on, the distracted daughter turned back, and, flying once more through the crowd, hung on his neck in the abandonment of grief. This was too much for his stoicism; he shed tears, whilst with deep emotion he repeated his blessing, and uttered words of Christian consolation. The people[163] and the guards were so deeply affected, that they too burst into tears, and it was some time before the officers could summon resolution to part the father and his child.

On the 6th of July he was summoned to execution, and informed that the king, as an especial favour, had commuted his punishment from hanging, drawing, and quartering, to decapitation. On this Sir Thomas, who had now taken his leave of the world, and met death with the cheerful humour of a man who is well assured that he is on the threshold of a better, replied with his wonted promptitude of wit, "God preserve all my friends from such favour." As he was about to ascend the scaffold, some one expressed a fear lest it should break down, for it appeared weak. "Mr. Lieutenant," said More, smiling, "see me safe up, and for my coming down let me shift for myself." The executioner then approached, and asked his forgiveness. More embraced him, and said, "Friend, thou wilt render me the greatest service in the power of any mortal; but," putting an angel into his hand, "my neck is so short, that I fear thou wilt gain little credit in the way of thy profession." The same fear of the eloquence of the illustrious victim which had attempted to stop his mouth on the trial, now forbade him to address the multitude; he therefore contented himself with saying that he died a faithful subject to the king, and a true Catholic before God. He then prayed, and, laying his head upon the block, bade the executioner stay his hand a moment while he put back his beard. For "that," said he, "has never committed any treason." His head was severed at a single blow, and was, like Fisher's, fixed on London Bridge.

But it was not merely in lopping off the heads of honest statesmen and prelates that Henry VIII. now displayed the powers of supreme head over the Church. There was a more tempting prey which allured his avaricious soul, and promised to recruit his exhausted treasury. These were the monasteries, convents, and abbeys. These institutions had grown excessively corrupt through time. Without depending on the reports of Henry's commissioners, whose business it was to make out a case for him against them, there is abundant evidence in contemporary writings that the monks, nuns, and friars were grown extremely sensual and corrupt. Rage and cupidity alike urged Henry to imitate the Reformers of Germany, and seize the spoils of this wealthy body. Cromwell—whom he had appointed Vicar-General, a strange office for a layman—went the whole length with him in those views; nay, he was the man who first turned his eyes on this great attractive mass of wealth, and hallooed him to the spoil. He had told him that, if once he was established by Parliament as head of the Church, all that opulence was his. There can be no doubt that it was to carry out this seizure that Cromwell was put into that very office of Vicar-General, as the only man to do the business, and he went to work upon it with right good will.

The first thing was to appoint a commission, and to obtain such a report as should induce Parliament to pass an act of suppression of the religious houses, and the forfeiture of all their property to the Crown. The Archbishop of Paris, years before, had confidently affirmed, that whenever Wolsey should fall, the spoliation of the Church would quickly follow. To expedite this matter as much as possible, the whole kingdom was divided into districts, and to each district was appointed a couple of commissioners, who were armed with eighty-six questions to propound to the monastic orders. As acknowledgment of the supremacy of the king and approbation of his marriage were made requisites of compliance, there was little chance of escape for any monastery, be its morals what they might.

The visitors had secret instructions to seek, in the first place, the lesser houses, and to exhort the inmates voluntarily to surrender them to the king, and, where they did not succeed, to collect such a body of evidence as should warrant the suppression of those houses; but after zealously labouring at this object through the winter, they could only prevail on seven small houses to surrender. A report was then prepared, which considerably surprised the public by stating that the lesser houses were abandoned to the most shameful sloth and immorality, but that the large and more opulent ones, contrary to all human experience, were more orderly. The secret of this representation was, that the abbots and priors of the great houses were lords of Parliament, and were, therefore, present to expose any false statement.

On the 4th of March, 1536, a bill was passed hastily through both Houses, transferring to the king and his heirs all monastic establishments the clear value of which did not exceed £200 per annum. It was calculated that this bill—which, however, did not pass the Commons till Henry had sent for them, and told them that he would apply his favourite remedy for stiff necks—would dissolve no less than 380 communities, and add £32,000 to the annual income of the Crown,[164] besides the presents received of £100,000 in money, plate, and jewels. The cause of these presents was a clause in the Act of Parliament, which left it to the discretion of the king to found any of these houses anew; a clause which was actively worked by Cromwell and his commissioners, and, by the hopes they inspired, drew large sums from the menaced brethren, part of which lodged in the pockets of the minister and his agents, and part reached the Crown. Cromwell amassed a large fortune from such sources.

The Parliament, which had now sat seven years, and which was one of the most slavish and base bodies that ever were brought together—having yielded every popular right and privilege which the imperious monarch demanded, and augmented the Royal prerogative to a pitch of actual absolutism; having altered the succession, changed the system of ecclesiastical government, abolished a great number of the ancient religious houses without thereby much benefiting the Crown—was now dismissed, having done that for this worthless king which should cost some of his successors their thrones or their heads, and a braver and more honourable generation the blood of its best men to undo again.

Anne Boleyn, on hearing of Catherine's death, which occurred in January, 1536, was so rejoiced that she could not help crying out, "Now I am indeed a queen!" And yet, in truth, never had she less cause for triumph. Already the lecherous eye of her worthless husband had fallen on one of her maids, as it had formerly fallen on one of Catherine's in her own person. This was Jane Seymour, a daughter of a knight of Wiltshire, who was not only of great beauty, but was distinguished for a gentle and sportive manner, equally removed from the Spanish gravity of Catherine and the French levity of Anne Boleyn. Before the death of Catherine, this fresh amour of Henry's was well known in the palace to all but the reigning queen; and, according to Wyatt, Anne only became aware of it by entering a room one day, and beholding Jane Seymour seated on Henry's knee, in a manner the most familiar, and as if accustomed to that indulgence. She saw at once that not only was Henry ready to bestow his regards on another, but that other was still more willing to step into her place than she had been to usurp that of Catherine. Anne was far advanced in pregnancy, and was in great hopes of riveting the king's affections to her by the birth of a prince; but the shock which she now received threw her into such agitation that she was prematurely delivered—of a boy, indeed, but dead. Henry, the moment that he heard of this unlucky accident, rushed into the queen's chamber, and upbraided her savagely "with the loss of his boy." Anne, stung by this cruelty, replied that he had to thank himself and "that wench Jane Seymour" for it. The fell tyrant retired, muttering his vengeance, and the die was now cast irrevocably for Anne Boleyn, if it were not before.

It was a great misfortune for Anne that she had never been able to lay aside that levity of manner which she had acquired by spending her juvenile years at the French Court. After her elevation to the throne, she was too apt to forget, with those about her, the sober dignity which belonged to the queen, and to converse with the officers about her more in the familiar manner of the maid-of-honour which she had once been. This freedom and gaiety had been caught at by the Court gossips, and now scandals were whispered abroad, and, as soon as the way was open by the anger and fresh love affair of the king, carried to him. Such accusations were precisely what he wanted, as a means to rid himself of her. A plot was speedily concocted, in which she was to be charged with criminal conduct towards not only three officers of the Royal household—Brereton, Weston, and Norris—but also with Mark Smeaton, the king's musician, and, still more horrible, with her own brother, the Viscount Rochford. A court of inquiry was at once appointed, in which presided Cromwell, the Lord Chancellor, and the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, Anne's determined enemies. On the 28th of April they began with Brereton, and committed him to the Tower. On Sunday, the 31st, they examined Smeaton, and sent him also to the same prison. The following day, being the 1st of May, the court was suspended to celebrate the gaieties usual on that day; and these were used for the purpose of obtaining a public cause of accusation against Sir Henry Norris. There was to be held a tournament at Greenwich that day, in which the Viscount Rochford was to be opposed by Norris as the principal defendant.

In the midst of the tournament, Henry, who, no doubt, was watching for some opportunity to entrap his victims, suddenly found one. The queen, leaning over the balcony, witnessing the tournament, accidentally let fall her handkerchief. Norris took it up, and, it was said,[165] presumptuously wiped his face with it, and then handed it to the queen on his spear. The thing is wholly improbable, the true version most likely being that the courtly Norris kissed the handkerchief on taking it up—an ordinary knightly usage—and that this was seized upon as a pretended charge against him. Henry, however, suddenly frowned, rose abruptly from his seat, and, black as a thunder-cloud, marched out of the gallery, followed by his six attendants. Every one was amazed; the queen appeared terror-stricken, and immediately retired. Sir Henry Norris, and not only Norris but Lord Rochford, who had had nothing whatever to do with the handkerchief (showing, therefore, that the matter was preconcerted), was arrested at the barriers on a charge of high treason. The queen herself was taken to her lodgings in the Tower.

After the Portrait by Holbein

ANNE BOLEYN. (After the Portrait by Holbein.)

Left alone in her prison, Anne's affliction seemed to actually disturb her intellect. She would sit for hours plunged in a stupor of melancholy, shedding torrents of tears, and then she would abruptly burst into wild laughter. To her attendants she would say that she should be a saint in heaven; that no rain would fall on the earth till she was delivered from prison; and that the most grievous calamities would oppress the nation in punishment for her death. At other times she became calm and devotional, and requested that a consecrated host might be placed in her closet.

But the unhappy queen was not suffered to enjoy much retirement. It was necessary for Henry to establish a charge against her sufficiently strong to turn the feeling of the nation against her, and from him; and for this purpose[166] no means were neglected which tyranny and harshness of the intensest kind could suggest. Whilst the accused gentlemen were interrogated, threatened, cajoled, and even put to the torture in their cells, to force a confession of guilt from them, two women were set over Anne to watch her every word, look, and act, to draw from her in her unguarded conversation everything they could to implicate her, and, no doubt, to invent and colour where the facts did not sufficiently answer the purpose required. These were Lady Boleyn, the wife of Anne's uncle, Sir Edward Boleyn, a determined enemy of hers, and Mrs. Cosyns, the wife of Anne's master of the horse, a creature of the most unprincipled character.

Mrs. Cosyns asked her why Norris had told his almoner on the preceding Saturday "that he could swear the queen was a good woman?" "Marry," replied Anne, "I bade him do so, for I asked him why he did not go on with his marriage, and he made answer that he would tarry awhile. 'Then,' said I, 'you look for dead men's shoes. If aught but good should come to the king [who was then afflicted with a dangerous ulcer], you would look to have me.' He denied it, and I told him I could undo him if I would." Again, the queen expressed some apprehension of what Weston might say in his examination, for he had told her on Whit Monday last that Norris came into her chamber more for her sake than for Madge, one of her maids of honour. She had told him he did love her kinswoman, Mrs. Skelton, and that he loved not his wife; and he answered again that he loved one in his house better than them both. She asked him who, and he said, "Yourself," on which she defied him. Such was the stuff which Kingston gathered at the hands of these wretched spies, to be used against the queen, who was to be got rid of.

Anne exhorted Kingston to convey a letter from her to Cromwell, but he declined such a responsibility; she contrived, however, by some means, on the fourth day of her imprisonment, to forward a letter, which conveys a very different impression from the conversation reported by the female spies, through Cromwell to the king.

"Never," she wrote, "did I at any time so far forget myself in my exaltation or received queenship, but that I always looked for such alteration as I now find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer foundation than your grace's fancy, the least alteration was fit and sufficient (I knew) to draw that fancy to some other object.

"Try me, good king, but let me have a lawful trial, and let not my sworn enemies sit as my accusers and as my judges; yea, let me receive an open trial, for my truth shall fear no open shame. Then shall you see either mine innocency cleared, your suspicions and conscience satisfied, the ignominy and slander of the world stopped, or my guilt openly declared."

This letter, a copy of which was found amongst the papers of Cromwell, when his turn came to pay the penalty of serving that remorseless tyrant, is the letter of an innocent woman, and forms a strange contrast to the dubious language put into her mouth by those who reported her speech on the scaffold.

On the 10th of May an indictment for high treason was found by the grand jury of Westminster against Anne and the five gentlemen accused; and on the same day the four commoners were put upon their trial in Westminster Hall, for the alleged offences against the honour and life of their sovereign lord. A true bill was also found against them by the grand juries of Kent and Middlesex, some of the offences being laid in those counties, at Greenwich, Hampton Court, &c. Smeaton, the musician, was the only one who could be brought to confess his guilt; and it is declared by Constantyne, who was in attendance on the trials, and wrote an account of the proceedings, that he "had been grievously racked" to bring him to that confession. According to Grafton's chronicle, he was beguiled into signing the deposition which criminated the queen as well as himself, by an offer of pardon like that so repeatedly made to Norris. The weak man fell into the snare; the rest of the accused stood firmly by their innocence, and neither threats nor promises could move them from it. Norris was a great favourite with the king, who still appeared anxious to save his life, and sent to him, offering him again full pardon if he would confess his guilt. But Norris nobly declared that he believed in his conscience that the queen was wholly innocent of the crimes charged upon her; but whether she were so or not, he could not accuse her of anything, and that he would rather die a thousand deaths than falsely accuse the innocent. On this being told to Henry, he exclaimed, "Let him hang then! hang him up then!" All the four were condemned to death.

On the 16th of May Queen Anne and her brother, Lord Rochford, were brought to trial in the great hall in the Tower, a temporary court being erected within it for the purpose. The Duke of Norfolk,[167] a known and notorious enemy of the accused, was created Lord High Steward for the occasion, and presided—a sufficient proof, if any were needed, that no justice was intended. His son, the Earl of Surrey, sat as Deputy Earl-Marshal beneath him. Twenty-six peers, as "lords-triers," constituted the court, and amongst these appeared the Duke of Suffolk, a nobleman still more inveterate in his hatred of the queen than the chief judge himself. The Earl of Northumberland, Anne's old lover, was one of the lords-triers; but he was seized with such a disorder, no doubt resulting from his memory of the past, that he was obliged to quit the court before the arraignment of Lord Rochford, and did not live many months. Henry, by his tyranny, had forcibly rent asunder his engagement with Anne; had embittered his life; and tired of the treasure which would have made Northumberland happy, he now called upon that injured man to assist in destroying one whom he had already lost.

Lord Rochford defended himself with such courage and ability that even in that packed court there were many who, by their sense of justice, were led to brave the vengeance of the terrible king, and voted for his acquittal. The chief witness against him was his own wife, who had hated Anne Boleyn from the moment that she became the king's favourite; and now with a most monstrous violation of all nature and decency, strove to destroy her queen and her own husband together. Spite of the impression which the young viscount made on some of his judges, he was condemned, for Henry willed it, and that was enough.

When he was removed Anne, Queen of England, was summoned into court, and appeared attended by her ladies and Lady Kingston, and was conducted to the bar by the Constable and Lieutenant of the Tower. She stood alone, without counsel or adviser; yet in that trying moment she displayed a dignified composure worthy of her station and of the character of an innocent woman. Crispin, Lord of Milherve, who was present, says that "she presented herself at the bar with the true dignity of a queen, and curtsied to her judges, looking round upon them all without any signs of fear." When the indictment against her, charging her with adultery and incest, had been read, she held up her hand and pleaded not guilty.

Anne seems to have shown great ability and address on the occasion. She is said to have spoken with extraordinary force, wit, and eloquence, and so completely scattered all the vile tissue of lies that was brought against her, that the spectators imagined that there was nothing for it but to acquit her. "It was reported without doors," says Wyatt, "that she had cleared herself in a most wise and noble speech." But, alas! it was neither wisdom, wit, truth, innocence, eloquence, nor all the powers and virtues which could be assembled in one soul, which could draw an acquittal from that assembly of slaves bound by selfish terror to the yoke of the remorseless despot who now disgraced the throne. "Had the peers given their verdict, according to the expectation of the assembly," says Bishop Godwin, "she had been acquitted." But they knew they must give it according to the expectation of their implacable master, and she was condemned.

Henry lost no time in getting rid of the woman, to obtain whom he had moved heaven and earth for years—threatening the peace of kingdoms, and rending the ancient bonds of the Church. The very day on which she was condemned, he signed her death-warrant, and sent Cranmer to confess her. There is something rather hinted at than proved in this part of these strange proceedings. Anne, when she was conveyed from Greenwich to the Tower, told her enemies proudly that nothing could prevent her dying their queen; and now, when she had seen Cranmer, she was in high spirits, and said to her attendants that she believed she should be spared after all, and that she understood that she was to be sent to Antwerp. The meaning of this the event of next day sufficiently explained. In the morning, on a summons from Archbishop Cranmer, she was conveyed privately from the Tower to Lambeth, where she voluntarily submitted to a judgment that her marriage with the king had been invalid, and was, therefore, from the first null and void. Thus she consented to dethrone herself, to unwife herself, and to bastardise her only child. Why? Undoubtedly from the promise of life, and from fear of the horrid death by fire. As she had received the confident idea of escape with life from the visit of Cranmer, there can be no rational doubt that he had been employed by the king to tamper with her fears of death and the stake, and draw this concession from her. Does any one think this impossible or improbable in Cranmer—the great Reformer of the Church? Let him weigh his very next proceeding.

Cranmer had formerly examined the marriage of Henry and Anne carefully by the canon law, and had pronounced it good and valid. He now[168] proceeded to contradict every one of his former arguments and decisions, and pronounced the same marriage null and void. A solemn mockery of everything true, serious, and Divine was now gone through. Henry appointed Dr. Sampson his proctor in the case; Anne had assigned her the Drs. Wotton and Barbour. The objections to the marriage were read over to them in the presence of the queen. The king's proctor could not dispute them; the queen's were, with pretended reluctance, obliged to admit them, and both united in demanding a judgment. Then the great Archbishop and Reformer, "having previously invoked the name of Christ, and having God alone before his eyes," pronounced definitively that the marriage formally contracted, solemnised, and consummated between Henry and Anne was from the first illegal, and, therefore, no marriage at all; and the poor woman, who had been induced to submit to this deed of shame and of infamous deception, was sent back, not to life, not to exile at Antwerp—but to the block!


Friday, the 19th of May, was the day fixed for her execution, and on that morning she rose at two o'clock and resumed her devotions with her almoner. She sent for Sir William Kingston to be witness to her last solemn protest of her innocence before taking the sacrament. A few minutes before twelve o'clock she was led forth by the Lieutenant of the Tower to the scaffold. "Never," said a foreign gentleman present, "had the queen looked so beautiful before." Her composure was equal to her beauty. She removed her hat and collar herself, and put a small linen cap upon her head, saying, "Alas! poor head, in a very brief space thou wilt roll in the dust on the scaffold; and as in life thou didst not merit to wear a crown, so in death thou deserved not better doom than this." She then took a very affectionate farewell of her ladies. Having given to Mary Wyatt, the sister of Sir Thomas Wyatt, who attended her through all her trouble, the little book of devotions which she held in her hand, and whispered to her some parting words, she laid her head on the block. One of the ladies then covered her eyes with a bandage, and as the poor queen was saying, "O Lord, have mercy on my soul," the executioner, who had been sent for from Calais, severed her head from her body at one stroke of the sword. Her body[169] was thrust into a chest used for keeping arrows in, and buried in the same grave with that of her brother, Lord Rochford, no coffin being provided.


Henry now repealed the late act of settlement, and passed a new one through the compliant Parliament, entailing the crown on the issue by Jane Seymour, whom he married on the morning after Anne's execution. He obtained, moreover, a power to bequeath the succession by letters patent, or by his last will, in case of having no fresh issue of his own, on any person whom he thought proper. In life and in death he demanded absolute power over every principle of the Constitution, and this Parliament, which would have granted him anything, conceded it. It was well understood that he meant to cut off his daughters, and to confer the crown on his illegitimate son, the Duke of Richmond. But as if Providence would punish him in the very act, this son died before he could give his Royal assent to the bill.

But if Henry had found a very submissive body in the Parliament, there was much discontent amongst the people, who were encouraged in their murmurs by the monks who had been dispossessed of their monasteries or who feared the approach of their fall, and by the clergy, who were equally alarmed at the progress of the opinions of the Reformers in the nation. There were two great factions in the Church and the Government, the opposed members of which were denominated the[170] men of the Old and the New learning. At the head of the Old or Romanist faction were Lee, Archbishop of York; Stokesley, Bishop of London; Tunstal, Bishop of Durham; Gardiner, of Winchester; Sherbourne, of Chichester; Nix, of Norwich; and Kite, of Carlisle. These received the countenance and support of the Duke of Norfolk and of Wriothesley, the premier secretary. The leaders of the Reforming faction were Cranmer, the Primate; Latimer, Bishop of Worcester; Shaxton, of Salisbury; Hilsey, of Rochester; Fox, of Hereford; and Barlow, of St. David's. These were especially patronised by Cromwell, whose power as Vicar-General was great, and who was now made Lord Cromwell by the king.

Each of these parties, supported by a large body in the nation, endeavoured to make their way by flattering the vanity or the love of power of the capricious king. The Papist party swayed him to their side by his love of the old doctrines and rites; the Reformers, by his pride in opposing the Pope, and the gratification of his love of power as the independent head of the Church. In this transition state of things, the doctrines of the English Church, as settled by Convocation, exhibited a singular medley, and were liable at any moment to be disturbed by the momentary bias of the king, whose word was the only law of both Church and State. The Reformers succeeded in having the standard of faith recognised as existing in the Scriptures and the three creeds—the Apostolic, Nicene, and Athanasian; but then the Romanists had secured the retention of auricular confession and penance. As to marriage, extreme unction, confirmation, or holy orders, it was found that there could be no agreement in the belief in them as sacraments, and, therefore, they remained unmentioned, every one following his own fancy. The Real Presence was admitted in the sacrament of the Supper. The Roman Catholics asserted the warrant of Scripture for the use of images; but the Protestants denied this, and warned the people against idolatry in praying to them. The use of holy water, the ceremonies practised on Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and other Festivals, were still maintained, but Convocation, yielding to the Reformers, admitted that they had no power to remit sin.

The Church being in this divided state, each party pushed its own opinions and practice where it could, with the certain consequence that there was much feud and heart-burning, and the people were pulled hither and thither. In those places where the Reformers prevailed, they saw the images thrown down or removed, the ancient rites neglected or despised; and they felt themselves aggrieved, but more especially with the ordinances of Cromwell as Vicar-General, who retrenched many of their ancient holidays. He also incensed the clergy, by prohibiting the resort to places of pilgrimage, and the exhibition of relics. These greatly reduced the emoluments of the clergy, whom he on the other hand compelled to lay aside a considerable portion of their revenues for the repairs of the churches, and the assistance of the poor. This caused them to foment the discontents of the people, and the thousands of monks now wandering over the country, without home or subsistence, found ready listeners in the vast population which had been accustomed to draw their main support from the daily alms of the convents and monasteries. The people, seeing all these ancient sources of a lazy support suddenly cut off by Government, grew furious; and their disaffection was strengthened by observing that many of the nobility and gentry were equally malcontent, whose ancestry had founded monasteries, and who, therefore, looked upon them with feelings of family pride, and, moreover, regarded them as a certain provision for some of their younger children. There were many of all classes who thought with horror of the souls of their ancestors and friends, who, they believed, would now remain for ages in all the torments of purgatory, for want of masses to relieve them.

All these causes operating together produced formidable insurrections, both in the north and south. The first rising was in Lincolnshire. It was headed by Dr. Mackrel, the Prior of Barlings, who was disguised like a mechanic, and by another man in disguise, calling himself Captain Cobbler. The first attack was occasioned by the demand of a subsidy for the king, but the public mind was already in a state of high excitement, and this was only the spark that produced the explosion. Twenty thousand men quickly rose in arms, and forced several lords and gentlemen to be their leaders. Such as refused, they either threw into prison or killed on the spot. Amongst the latter was the Chancellor of Longland, an ecclesiastic by no means popular. The king sent a force against them under the Duke of Suffolk, attended by the Earls of Shrewsbury, Kent, Rutland, and Huntingdon.

Suffolk found the insurgents in such force that he thought it best to temporise, and demanded of them what they had to complain of. Thereupon the men of Lincolnshire drew up and presented to him a list of six articles of grievance. These[171] consisted, first and foremost, of the suppression of the monasteries, by which they said great numbers of persons were put from their livings, and the poor of the realm were left unrelieved. Another complaint was of the fifteenth voted by Parliament, and of having to pay fourpence for a beast, and twelvepence for every twenty sheep. They affirmed that the king had taken into his councils personages of low birth and small reputation, who had got the forfeited lands into their hands, "most especial for their singular lucre and advantage." This was aimed by name, and with only too much justice, at Cromwell and Lord Rich, who had grown wealthy on the spoils of the abbeys. To these men they added the names of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of Rochester, Salisbury, St. David's, and Dublin, whom they accused of having perverted the faith of the realm; and they especially attributed the severe exactions on the people to the Bishop of Lincoln and the officers of Cromwell, of whom it was rumoured that they meant to take the plate, jewels, and ornaments of the parish churches, as they had taken those of the religious houses.

The king answered by flatly refusing their petition, bidding them meddle no more in the affairs of their undoubted prince, but deliver up their ringleaders, and leave governing to him and his counsellors and noblemen. This bluster appears to have frightened the simple clodhoppers of the Fens; for we have, a few days later, another letter from the same swelling hand, telling them that he has heard from the Earl of Shrewsbury that they have shown a fitting repentance and sorrow for their folly and their heinous crimes; and assuring them that in any other Christian country they, their wives and children, would have been exterminated with fire and sword. He orders them to pile their arms in the market-place of Lincoln, and get away to their proper habitations and business, or, if they remain a day longer in arms, he will execute on them, their wives and children, the most terrible judgments that the world had ever known.

On the 30th of October, this frightened rabble, which seems to have been led on and then deserted by the clergy and gentry, dispersed, having first delivered up to the king's general fifteen of their ringleaders, amongst whom were Dr. Mackrel, the Prior of Barlings, and Captain Cobbler, said to have been a man of the name of Melton. These prisoners were afterwards executed as traitors, with all the barbarities of the age.

Scarcely, however, was the disturbance in Lincolnshire suppressed, when a far more formidable one broke out in the north. The people there were much more accustomed to arms, and their vicinity to the Scots created alarm at Court, lest the latter should take advantage of the rising to make an inroad into the country. The insurrection quickly spread over Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Westmoreland, and Lancashire. The Lord Darcy was conspicuous in it on the Borders, and there were calculated to be not less than 40,000 men in arms. Henry was this time seriously aroused, and sent Cromwell to the Jewel-house in the Tower to take as much plate as he thought could possibly be spared, and have it coined to pay troops, for he had no money in his coffers, notwithstanding all the monasteries which he had seized. Wriothesley, the Secretary of State, wrote from Windsor to Cromwell to expedite this business, superscribing his letter, "In haste—haste for thy life;" and telling him that the king appeared to fear much this matter, especially if he should want money, "for on the Lord Darcy his Grace had no great trust."

As soon as money could be coined, a good sum was sent to the Duke of Suffolk, who was posted at Newark, and who made free use of it in buying over some of the ringleaders, and in sowing dissensions among the insurgents. Meanwhile the Earl of Shrewsbury was made the king's Lord-Lieutenant north of the Trent, and the Duke of Norfolk was despatched into Yorkshire, to command there with 5,000 men. Robert Aske, a gentleman of ability, was at the head of the rebel forces, and he had given a religious character to the movement by styling it "The Pilgrimage of Grace." Priests marched in the van, in the habits of their various orders, carrying crosses and banners, on which were emblazoned the figure of Christ on the cross, the sacred chalice, and the five wounds of the Saviour. On their sleeves, too, were embroidered the five wounds, and the name of Christ on their centre. They had all sworn an oath that they had entered into the pilgrimage from no other motive than the love of God, the care of the king's person and issue, the desire of purifying the nobility, of driving base persons from the king, of restoring the Church, and suppressing heresy.

Wherever they came, they compelled the people to join their ranks, as they would answer it at the day of judgment, as they would bear the pulling down of their houses, and the loss of their goods and of their lives. They restored[172] the monks and nuns to their houses as they went along. The cities of York, Hull, and Pontefract had opened their gates, and taken the prescribed oaths. The Archbishop of York, the Lords Darcy, Lumley, Latimer, and Neville, with a vast number of knights and gentlemen, gathered to their standard, either by free will or compulsion, and the army presented a formidable aspect. But there was already disunion in the host. The money of the Duke of Suffolk was doing its work, and Wriothesley soon wrote that the insurgents were falling to talking amongst themselves, and, if that went on, a pair of light heels would soon be worth five pairs of hands to them. The Earl of Cumberland repulsed them from his castle of Skipton; Sir Ralph Evers defended Scarborough against them; Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, the Earls of Huntingdon, Derby, and Rutland, took the field against them; and they only managed to take Pomfret Castle, because the Lord Darcy and the Archbishop of York, lying there, were supposed to be secretly in league with them, and only made a show of force, which they might plead in case of failure.

The insurgents, quite aware that the Government, which was attempting to sow dissension among them by pretended negotiations, was but waiting to seize and crush the leaders, again took the field in the very midst of winter. On the 23rd of January, 1537, bills were stuck on the church doors by night, calling on the commoners to come forth and to be true to one another, for the gentlemen had deceived them, yet they should not want for captains. There was great distrust lest the gentlemen had been won over by the pardon and by money. The rebels, however, marched out under two leaders of the name of Musgrave and Tilby, and, 8,000 strong, they laid siege to Carlisle, where they were repulsed; and, being encountered in their retreat by Norfolk, they were defeated and put to flight. All their officers, except Musgrave, were taken and put to death, to the number of seventy. Sir Francis Bigot and one Hallam attempted to surprise Hull, but failed; and other risings in the north proving equally abortive, the king now bade Norfolk spread his banner, march through the northern counties with martial law, and, regardless of the pardon he had issued, punish the rebels without mercy.

As the monks had obviously been at the bottom of this commotion, Henry let loose his vengeance especially upon them. He ordered Norfolk to go to Sawley, Hexham, Newminster, Lanercost, St. Agatha, and all other places that had made resistance, and there seize certain priors and canons and send them up to him, and immediately to hang up "all monks and canons that be in any wise faulty, without further delay or ceremony." He ordered the Earl of Surrey and other officers in the north to charge the monks there with grievous offences, to try their minds, and see whether they would not submit themselves gladly to his will. Under these sanguinary orders the whole of England north of the Trent became a scene of horror and butchery, and ghastly heads and mangled bodies, or corpses swinging from the trees. Nor did this admirable reformer of religion neglect to look after the property of his victims. Their lands and goods were all to be forfeited and taken possession of; "for we are informed," he says, "that there were amongst them divers freeholders and rich men, whose lands and goods, well looked unto, will reward others that with their truth have deserved the same."

Besides Aske, Sir Thomas Constable, Sir John Bulmer, Sir Thomas Percy, Sir Stephen Hamilton, Nicholas Tempest, William Lumley, and others, though they had taken the benefit of the pardon, were found guilty, and most of them were executed. Lord Hussey was found guilty of being an accomplice in the Lincolnshire rising, and was executed at Lincoln. Lord Darcy, though he pleaded compulsion, and a long life spent in the service of the Crown, was executed on Tower Hill. Lady Bulmer, the wife of Sir John Bulmer, was burnt in Smithfield; and Robert Aske was hung in chains on one of the towers of York. Having thus satiated his vengeance, and struck a profound terror into all the disaffected, Henry once more published a general pardon, to which he adhered; and even complied with one of the demands which the insurgents had made, that of erecting by patent a court of justice at York, for deciding lawsuits in the northern counties.

On the 12th of October, 1537, Jane Seymour gave birth to the long-desired prince, so well known afterwards as King Edward VI. This event took place at the palace of Hampton Court, and the infant was immediately proclaimed Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and Earl of Chester. The joy on so greatly desired an occurrence may be imagined, though it was somewhat dashed by the death of the queen, which took place only twelve days afterwards. During the confinement there was some question whether[173] the life of the mother or of the child should be sacrificed, and on the question being put to the king, which should be spared, he characteristically replied, "The child by all means, for other wives can be easily found." The queen's death, however, was occasioned by the absurd exposure which the pompous christening necessitated. Henry appeared to be grieved when her death really took place, and put on mourning, which he had never done for his wives before, and never did again. He wore it three months.


By the accession of Queen Jane a new family, greedy and insatiable of advancement, was brought forward, whom we shall soon find figuring on the scene. The queen's brothers, sisters, uncles, and cousins presently filled every great and lucrative office at Court; closely imitating the unpopular precedent of the relations of Elizabeth Woodville. Her eldest brother, Edward Seymour, was immediately made Lord Beauchamp and Earl of Hertford; and, in the joy of having an heir, Henry created Sir William Paulet Lord St. John and Sir John Russell Lord Russell. Sir William Fitzwilliam was made Earl of Southampton, and High-Admiral. Russell and Paulet were sworn of the Privy Council; and John Russell, now in high favour with the king, attended the wedding, flattered the bride, and became, in the next reign, Earl of Bedford. Queen Jane received all the rites of the Roman Catholic Church on her death-bed; thus clearly denoting that neither she nor her husband was of the Protestant faith.

Any grief which might have affected Henry for his wife's death did not prevent him from prosecuting his favourite design of seizing rich monasteries and destroying heretics. The great amount of property which Henry had obtained from the dissolution of monastic houses only stimulated him and his courtiers to invade the remainder. The insurrections laid the inmates of these houses open to a general charge that they had everywhere fomented, and in many places taken public part in, these attempts to resist Government. Prosecutions for high treason and menaces of martial law induced many of the[174] more timid abbots and priors to resign their trusts into the hands of the king and his heirs for ever. Others—like the prior of Henton, in Somersetshire—resisted, declaring that it did not become them "to be light and hasty in giving up those things which were not theirs to give, being dedicated to Almighty God, for service to be done unto His honour continually, with many other good deeds of charity which be daily done in their houses to their Christian brethren."

To grapple the more effectually with these sturdy remonstrants, a new visitation was appointed of all the monasteries in England; and, as a pretence only was wanted for their suppression, it was not difficult to find one where so many great men were eager to share in the spoils. But, while the destruction of the monasteries found many advocates, there were not wanting some who recommended the retention of those convents for women which had maintained order and a good reputation. But the king would hear of nothing but that all should be swept away together; and the better to prepare the public mind for so complete a revolution in social life, every means was employed to represent these establishments as abodes of infamy, and to expose the relics preserved in their shrines to ridicule, as impostures which deluded the ignorant people.

The work of suppressing the monasteries and convents went on briskly, for, says Bishop Godwin, "the king continued much prone to reformation, especially if anything might be gotten by it." The Earl of Sussex and a body of Commissioners were despatched to the north, to inquire into the conduct of the religious houses there, and great stress was laid on the participation of the monks in the insurrection of the Pilgrimage of Grace. The abbeys of Furness and Whalley were particularly rich; and though little concern with the rebellion could be traced to the inmates, yet the Commissioners never rested till, by persuasion and intimidation, they had induced the abbots to surrender these houses into their hands. The success of the Earl of Sussex and his associates led to similar Commissions in the south, and for four years the process was going on without an Act of Parliament.

The system generally adopted was this:—First, tempting offers of pensions were held out to the superiors and the monks or nuns, and in proportion to the obstinacy in complying was the smallness of the pension. The pensions to superiors varied, according to the wealth and rank of their houses, from £266 to £6 per annum. The priors of cells received generally £13. A few, whose services merited the distinction, £20. The monks received from £2 to £6 per annum, with a small sum in hand for immediate need. Nuns got about £4. That was the first and persuasive process; but, if this failed, intimidation was resorted to. The superior and his monks, tenants, servants, and neighbours, were subjected to a rigorous and vexatious examination. The accounts of the house were called for, and were scrutinised minutely, and all moneys, plate, and jewels ordered to be produced. There was a severe inquiry into the morals of the members, and one was encouraged to accuse another. Obstinate and refractory members were thrown into prison, and many died there—amongst them, the monks of the Charterhouse, London.

In 1539 a bill was brought into Parliament, vesting in the Crown all the property, movable and immovable, of the monastic establishments which were already, or which should be hereafter, suppressed, abolished, or surrendered, and, by 1540, the whole of this branch of the ecclesiastical property was in the hands of the king, or of the courtiers and parasites who surrounded him, like vultures, gorging themselves with the fallen carcase. The total number of such establishments suppressed from first to last by Henry was 655 monasteries—of which 28 had abbots enjoying a seat in Parliament—90 colleges, 2,374 chantries and free chapels, and 110 hospitals. The whole of the revenue of this property, as paid to superiors of these houses, was £161,000. The whole income of the kingdom at that period was rated at £4,000,000, so that the monastic property was apparently one twenty-fifth of the national estate; but as the monastic lands were let on long leases, and at very low rents, in the hands of the new proprietors it would prove of vastly higher value.

Henry distributed the property among his greedy courtiers as fast as it came, and never was so magnificent a property so speedily dissipated. What did not go amongst the Seymours, the Essexes, the Howards, the Russells, and the like, went in the most lavish manner on the king's pleasures and follies. He is said to have given a woman who introduced a pudding to his liking the revenue of a whole convent. Pauperism, instead of being extinguished, was increased to a degree which astonished every one. Such crowds had been supported by the monks and nuns as the public had no adequate idea of, till they were thrown destitute and desperate into[175] the streets and the highways, and at length became such a national burden and nuisance as in the reigns of Edward VI. and Elizabeth to cause the introduction of the poor-law system. The aristocracy, in fact, usurped the fund for the support of the poor, and threw them on the nation at large.

Education received an equal shock. The schools supported by the monasteries fell with them. The new race of noblemen who got the funds did nothing to continue them. Religion suffered also, for the wealth which might have founded efficient incomes for good preachers was gone into private hands, and such miserable stipends were paid to the working clergy, that none but poor and unlettered men would accept them.

It is only justice to Cranmer to say that he saw this waste of public property with concern, and would have had it appropriated to the purposes of education and religion, and the relief of the poor; but he was too timid to lay the matter before the Royal prodigal. Yet the murmurs of the people induced Henry to think of establishing a number of bishoprics, deaneries, and colleges, with a portion of the lands of the suppressed monasteries. He had an act passed through Parliament for the establishment of eighteen bishoprics, but it was found that the property intended for these was cleverly grasped by some of his courtiers, and only six out of the eighteen could be erected, namely, Westminster, Oxford, Peterborough, Bristol, Chester, and Gloucester; and some of these were so meagrely endowed that the new prelates had much ado for a considerable time to live. At the same time Henry converted fourteen abbeys and priories into cathedral and collegiate churches, attaching to each a deanery and a certain number of prebendaries. These were Canterbury, Rochester, Westminster, Winchester, Bristol, Gloucester, Worcester, Chester, Burton-upon-Trent, Carlisle, Durham, Thornton, Peterborough, and Ely. But he retained a good slice of the property belonging to them, and, at the same time, imposed on the chapters the obligations of paying a considerable sum to the repair of the highways, and another sum to the maintenance of the poor.

At the same time that Henry had been squandering the monastic property, and had falsified his promises of making the Crown independent of taxation, by coming to Parliament within twelve months for a subsidy of two-tenths and two-fifteenths, he had all along been riveting the doctrines of the Church of Rome faster on the nation, and persecuting those who questioned them. The Lower House of Convocation drew up a list of fifty-nine propositions, which it denounced as heresies, extracted from the publications of different Reformers, and presented it to the Upper House. On this, Henry, who believed himself a greater theologian than any in either house of Convocation, drew up, with the aid of some of the prelates, a book of "Articles" which was presented by Cromwell to Convocation, and there subscribed. This was then carried through Parliament, and became termed too justly the "Bloody Statute," for a more terrible engine of persecution never existed.

No sooner had the statute of the Six Articles passed, than Latimer and Shaxton, the Bishops of Worcester and Salisbury, resigned their sees; and Cranmer, who had been living openly with his wife and children, seeing the king's determination to enforce the celibacy of the clergy, sent off his family to Germany, and made himself outwardly conformable to the law. At the end of the year 1539, the king put to death, in Smithfield, three victims of his intolerance. The first two were a man and a woman who were Anabaptists. The third was John Lambert, formerly a priest, who had become a schoolmaster in London. He was a Reformer, and denied the doctrine which Henry was now enforcing under the penalty of death, that the Real Presence existed in the bread and wine.

During the whole of the years 1538 and 1539 Henry was, nevertheless, not only grown suspicious of his subjects, but greatly alarmed at the rumours of a combination between the Pope, the Emperor, and the King of France against him. It was rumoured that Cardinal Pole, his relative, who had rigorously opposed the divorce, was assisting in this scheme, and as Henry could not reach him, on account of Pole's flight to the Continent, he determined to take vengeance on his relatives and friends in England. A truce for ten years was concluded under the Papal mediation, between Charles and Francis, at Nice, in June, 1538. The two monarchs urged Paul to publish his bull of excommunication against Henry, which had been reserved so long, and Henry, whose spies soon conveyed to him these tidings, immediately ordered his fleet to be put in a state of activity, his harbours of defence strengthened, and the whole population to be called under arms, in expectation of a combined attack.

But at this conference Cardinal Pole had been present, and Henry directly attributed the scheme[176] of invasion to him. At once, therefore, he let loose his fury on his relatives and friends in England. Becket, the usher, and Wrothe, server of the Royal chamber, were despatched into Cornwall to collect some colour of accusation against Henry Courtenay, the Marquis of Exeter, and his adherents and dependents. The marquis and marchioness were soon arrested, as well as Sir Geoffrey Pole and Lord Montagu, brothers of the cardinal, and Sir Edward Neville, a brother of Lord Abergavenny. Two priests, Croft and Collins, and Holland, a mariner, were also arrested, and lodged in the Tower. On the last day of 1538 the marquis and Lord Montagu were tried before some of the peers, but not before their peers in Parliament, for Parliament was not sitting. The commoners were brought to trial before juries; and all on a charge of having conspired to place Reginald Pole, late Dean of Exeter, the king's enemy, on the throne. The king's ministers declared that the charge was well proved, but no such proofs were ever published, which, we may be sure, would have been had they existed.


The fact was, those noblemen were descended directly from the old Royal line of England: Courtenay was grandson to Edward IV., through his daughter Catherine, and the Poles were grandsons to George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Edward. All had a better title to the throne than Henry, and this, combined with their connection with the cardinal, was the cause of the tyrant's enmity. If these prisoners had been inclined to treason, they had had the fairest opportunity of showing it during the northern insurrection, but they had taken no part in it whatever. But Henry had determined to wreak his vengeance, which could not reach the cardinal, on them; and the servile peers and courts condemned them. It was said that Sir Geoffrey Pole, to save his own life, consented to give evidence against the rest—secretly it must have been, for it was never produced. His life, therefore, was spared, but the rest were executed. Lord Montagu, the Marquis of Exeter, and Sir Edward Neville were beheaded on Tower Hill on the 9th of January, 1539, and Sir Nicholas Carew, master of the king's horse, was also beheaded on the 3rd of March, on a charge of being privy to the conspiracy. The two priests and the mariner were hanged and quartered at Tyburn. A commission was then sent down into Cornwall, which arraigned, condemned, and put to death two gentlemen of the names of Kendall and Quintrell, for having said, some years before, that Exeter was the heir apparent, and should be king, if Henry married Anne Boleyn, or it should cost a thousand lives.



But the sanguinary fury of Henry was not yet sated. The cardinal was sent by the Pope to the Spanish and French courts to concert the carrying out of the scheme of policy against England. Henry defeated this by means of his agents, and neither Charles nor Francis would move: but not the less did Henry determine further to punish the hostile cardinal. Judgment of treason was pronounced against him; the Continental sovereigns were called upon to deliver him up; and he was constantly surrounded by spies, and, as he believed, ruffians hired to assassinate him. Meanwhile it was said that a French vessel had been driven by stress of weather into South Shields, and in it had been taken three emissaries—an English priest of the name of Moore, and two Irishmen, a monk and a friar, who were said to be carrying treasonable letters to the Pope and to Pole. The Irish monks were sent up to London, and tortured in the Tower—a very unnecessary measure, if they really possessed the treasonable letters alleged. On the 28th of April Parliament was called upon to pass bills of attainder against Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, the mother of Cardinal Pole; Gertrude, the widow of the Marquis of Exeter; the son of Lord Montagu, a boy of tender years; Sir Adam Fortescue, and Sir Thomas Dingley. This was a device of Cromwell's, who demanded of the judges whether persons accused of treason might not be attainted and condemned by Parliament without any trial! The judges—who, like every one else under this monster of a king, had lost all sense of honour and justice in[178] fears for their own safety—replied that it was a nice question, and one that no inferior tribunal could entertain, but that Parliament was supreme, and that an attainder by Parliament would be good in law! Such a bill was accordingly passed through the servile Parliament, condemning the whole to death without any form of trial whatever.

The two knights were beheaded on the 10th of July; the Marchioness of Exeter was kept in prison for six months, and then dismissed; the son of Lord Montagu, the grandson of the countess, was probably, too, allowed to escape, for no record of his death appears; but the venerable old lady herself, the near relative of the king, and the last direct descendant of the Plantagenets, after having been kept in prison for nearly two years, was brought out, and on the 27th of May, 1541, was condemned to the scaffold. There she still showed the determination of her character. Unlike many who had fallen there before her, so far from making any ambiguous speech, or giving any hypocritical professions of reverence for the king, she refused to do anything which appeared consenting to her own death. When told to lay her head on the block, she replied, "No, my head never committed treason; if you will have it, you must take it as you can." The executioner tried to seize her, but she moved swiftly round the scaffold, tossing her head from side to side. At last, covered with blood, for the guards struck her with their weapons, she was seized, and forcibly held down, and whilst exclaiming, "Blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake," the axe descended, and her head fell.

But, the time of Cromwell himself was coming. The block was the pretty certain goal of Henry's ministers. The more he caressed and favoured them, the more certain was that result. Reflecting anxiously on the critical nature of his position, the deep and unprincipled minister came to the conclusion that the only mode of regaining his influence with the king was to promote a Protestant marriage. For a time at least Henry allowed himself to be governed by a new wife, and that time gained might prove everything to Cromwell. Circumstances seemed to favour him at this moment. The king was in constant alarm at the combination between France and Spain; and a new alliance with the Protestant princes of Germany, if accomplished, would equally serve the purposes of the king and of Cromwell. Now was the time for Cromwell, while Henry was chagrined by these difficulties. He informed him that Anne, daughter of John III., Duke of Cleves, Count of Mark, and Lord of Ravenstein, was greatly extolled for her beauty and good sense; that her sister Sybilla, the wife of Frederick, Duke of Saxony, the head of the Protestant confederation of Germany, called the Schmalkaldic League, was famed for her beauty, talents, and virtues, and universally regarded as one of the most distinguished ladies of the time. He pointed out to Henry the advantages of thus, by this alliance, acquiring the firm friendship of the princes of Germany, in counterpoise to the designs of France and Spain; and he assured him that he heard that the sisters of the Electress of Saxony, educated under the same wise mother, were equally attractive in person and in mind, and waited only a higher position to give them greater lustre, especially the Princess Anne.

The Duke of Cleves died on the 6th of February, 1539, and Henry despatched Hans Holbein to take the lady's portrait. Being delighted with the portrait—which agreed so well with the many praises written of the lady by his agents—he acceded to the match; and in the month of September the count palatine and ambassadors from Cleves arrived in London, where Cromwell received them with real delight, and the king bade them right welcome. The treaty was soon concluded; and Henry, impatient for the arrival of his wife, despatched the Lord Admiral Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, to receive her at Calais, and conduct her to England.

On the 27th of December, 1539, Anne landed at Deal, having been escorted across the Channel by a fleet of fifty ships. She was a thorough Protestant, going into the midst of as thoroughly Papist a faction, and to consort with a monarch the most fickle and dogmatic in the world. She could speak no language but German, and of that Henry did not understand a word. It would have required a world of charms to have reconciled all this to Henry, even for a time, and of these poor Anne of Cleves was destitute. That she was not ugly, many contemporaries testify; but she was at least plain in person, and still plainer in manners. Both she and her maidens, of whom she brought a great train, are said to have been as homely and as awkward a bevy as ever came to England in the cause of royal matrimony.

The impatient though unwieldy lover, accompanied by eight gentlemen of his privy chamber, rode to Rochester to meet the bride. They were[179] all clad alike, in coats "of marble colour;" for Henry, with a spice of his old romance, was going incognito, to get a peep at his queen without her being aware which was he. He told Cromwell that "he intended to visit her privily, to nourish love." On his arrival, he sent Sir Anthony Browne, his master of the horse, to inform Anne that he had brought her a new year's gift, if she would please to accept it. Sir Anthony, on being introduced to the lady who was to occupy the place of the two most celebrated beauties of the day, the Boleyn and the Seymour, was, he afterwards confessed, "never so much dismayed in his life," but of course said nothing. So now the enamoured king, whose eyes were dazzled with the recollection of what his queens had been, and what Holbein and his ambassadors had promised him should again be, entered the presence of Anne of Cleves, and was thunderstruck at the first sight of the reality. Lord John Russell, who was present, declared "that he had never seen his highness so marvellously astonished and abashed as on that occasion."

Instead of presenting himself the new year's gift which he had brought—a muff and tippet of rich sables—he sent them to her with a very cold message, and rode back to Greenwich in high dudgeon. There, the moment that he saw Cromwell, he burst out upon him for being the means of bringing him, not a wife, but "a great Flanders mare." Cromwell excused himself by not having seen her, and threw the blame on Fitzwilliam, the lord admiral, who, he said, when he found the princess at Calais so different from the pictures and reports, should have detained her there till he knew the king's pleasure; but the admiral replied brusquely that he had not had the choosing of her, but had simply executed his commission; and if he had in his dispatches spoken of her beauty, it was because she was reckoned beautiful, and it was not for him to judge of his queen.

No way out of the marriage being found, orders were given for the lady to proceed from Dartford, and at Greenwich she was received outwardly with all the pomp and rejoicings the most welcome beauty could have elicited. But still the mind of the mortified king revolted at the completion of the wedding, and once more he summoned his council, and declared himself unsatisfied about the contract, and required that Anne should make a solemn protestation that she was free from all pre-contracts. Probably Henry hoped that, seeing that she was far from pleasing him, she might be willing to give him up; but though her just pride as a woman must have been wounded by his treatment, and her fears excited by the recollection of the fates of Catherine and Anne Boleyn, the princess could be no free agent in the matter. The ambassadors would urge the impossibility of her going back, thus insulting all Protestant Germany, and her own pride would second their arguments on that side too. The ignominy of being sent back, rejected as unattractive and unwelcome, was not to be thought of. She made a most clear and positive declaration of her freedom from all pre-contracts. On hearing this, the surly monarch fell into such a humour that Cromwell got away from his presence as quickly as he could. Seeing no way out of it, the marriage was celebrated on the 6th of January, 1540, but nothing could reconcile Henry to his German queen. He loathed her person, he could not even talk with her without an interpreter; and he soon fell in love with Catherine Howard, niece to the Duke of Norfolk, a young lady who was much handsomer than Anne, but not well educated, and greatly wanting in principle. From the moment that Henry cast his eyes on this new favourite, the little remains of outward courtesy towards the queen vanished. He ceased to appear with her in public. He began to express scruples about having a Lutheran wife. He did not hesitate to propagate the most shameful calumnies against her, declaring that she had not been virtuous before her marriage.

Anne, in need of counsel, could find none in those who ought to have stood by her. Cranmer, the Reformer, and Cromwell, the advocate of Protestantism, and who had, in fact, brought about the marriage, kept aloof from her. She sent expressly to Cromwell, and repeatedly, but in vain; he refused to see her, for he knew that he stood on the edge of a precipice already; that he had deeply offended the choleric monarch by promoting this match; and that he was surrounded by spies and enemies, who were watching for occasion for his ruin. There is no doubt whatever that his ruin was already determined, but Cromwell was an unhesitating tool of the quality which Henry needed; for it was just at this time that Henry executed the relatives of Cardinal Pole, and probably it was an object of his to load that minister with as much of the odium of that measure as he could before he cast him down. Cromwell still, then, apparently retained the full favour of the king, notwithstanding this unfortunate marriage, but the conduct of his friends precipitated his fate.


Bishop Gardiner, a bigoted Papist, and one who saw the signs of the times as quickly as any man living, did not hear Henry's scruples about a Lutheran wife with unheeding ears. On the 14th of February, 1540, he preached a sermon at St. Paul's Cross, in which he unsparingly denounced as a damnable doctrine the Lutheran tenet of justification by faith without works. Dr. Barnes, a dependent of Cromwell's, but clearly a most imprudent one, on the 28th of February, just a fortnight afterwards, mounted the same pulpit, and made a violent attack on Gardiner and his creed. Barnes could never have intimated to Cromwell his intention to make this assault on a creed which was as much the king's as Gardiner's, or he would have shown him the fatality of it. But Barnes, like a rash and unreflecting zealot, not only attacked Gardiner's sermon, but got quite excited, and declared that he himself was a fighting-cock, and Gardiner was another fighting-cock, but that the garden-cock lacked good spurs. As was inevitable, Henry, who never let slip an opportunity to champion his own religious views, summoned Barnes forthwith before a commission of divines, compelled him to recant his opinion, and ordered him to preach another sermon, in the same place, on the first Sunday after Easter, and there to read his recantation, and beg pardon of Gardiner. Barnes obeyed. He read his recantation, publicly asked pardon of Gardiner, and then, getting warm in his sermon, reiterated in stronger terms than ever the very doctrine he had recanted.

The man must have made up his mind to punishment for his religious faith, for no such daring conduct was ever tolerated for a moment by Henry. He threw the offender into the Tower, together with Garret and Jerome, two preachers of the same belief, who followed his example.

The enemies of Cromwell rejoiced in this event, believing that his connection with Barnes would not fail to influence the king. So confidently did they entertain this notion, that they already talked of the transfer of his two chief offices, those of Vicar-General and Keeper of the Privy Seal, to Tunstal, Bishop of Durham, and Clarke, Bishop of Bath. But the king had not yet come to his own point of action. Cromwell's opponents were, therefore, astonished to see him open Parliament on the 12th of April, as usual, when he announced the king's sorrow and displeasure at the religious dissensions which appeared in the nation, his subjects branding each other with the opprobrious epithets of Papists and heretics, and abusing the indulgence which the king had granted them of reading the Scriptures in their native tongue. To remedy these evils his Majesty had appointed two committees of prelates and doctors—one to set forth a system of pure doctrine, and the other to decide what ceremonies and rites should be retained in the Church or abandoned; and, in the meantime, he called on both houses to assist him in enacting penalties against all who treated with irreverence, or rashly and presumptuously explained, the Holy Scriptures.

Never did Cromwell appear so fully to possess the favour of his sovereign. He had obtained a grant of thirty manors belonging to suppressed monasteries; the title of Earl of Essex was revived in his favour, and the office of Lord-Chamberlain was added to his other appointments. He was the performer of all the great acts of the State. He brought in two bills, vesting the property of the Knights Hospitallers in the king, and settling an adequate jointure on the queen. He obtained from the laity the enormous subsidy of four-tenths and fifteenths, besides ten per cent. of their income from lands, and five per cent. on their goods; and from the clergy two-tenths, and twenty per cent. of their incomes for two years. So little did there appear any prospect of the fall of Cromwell, that his own conduct augured that he never felt himself stronger in his monarch's esteem. He dealt about his blows on all who had offended himself or the king, however high. He committed to the Tower the Bishop of Chichester and Dr. Wilson, for relieving prisoners confined for refusing to take the oath of supremacy; and menaced with the royal displeasure his chief opponents, the Duke of Norfolk, and the Bishops of Durham, Winchester, and Bath.

Yet all this time Henry had determined, and was preparing for his fall. He appointed Wriothesley and Ralph Sadler Secretaries of State, and divided the business between them. The king had met Catherine Howard, it is said, at dinner at Gardiner's, who was Bishop of Winchester. As she was a strict Papist, and niece to Norfolk, it was believed that this had been concerted by the Catholic party; and they were not mistaken. She at once caught the fancy of Henry. Every opportunity was afforded the king of meeting her at Gardiner's; and no sooner did that worldly prelate perceive the impression she had made, than he informed Henry that Barnes, whom neither Gardiner nor Henry could forget, had been Cromwell's agent in bringing about the marriage of Anne of Cleves; that Cromwell and Barnes had[181] done this, without regard to the feelings of the king, merely to bring in a queen pledged to German Protestantism; and that, instead of submitting to the king's religious views, they were bent on establishing in the country the detestable heresies of Luther.

After the Portrait by Holbein

THOMAS CROMWELL, EARL OF ESSEX. (After the Portrait by Holbein.)

Henry, whose jealousy was now excited, recollected that when he proposed to send Anne of Cleves back, Cromwell had strongly dissuaded him, and as Anne had now changed her insubordinate behaviour to him, he immediately suspected that it was at the suggestion of Cromwell. No sooner had this idea taken full possession, than down came the thunderbolt on the head of the great minister. The time was come, all was prepared, and, without a single note of warning—without the change of look or manner in the king—Cromwell was arrested at the council-board on a charge of high treason. In the morning he was in his place in the House of Lords, with every evidence of power about him; in the evening he was in the Tower.

In his career, from the shop of the fuller to the supreme power in the State, next to the king, Cromwell had totally forgotten the wise counsel of Wolsey. He had not avoided, but courted, ambition. He had leaned to the Reformed doctrines secretly, but he had taken care to enrich himself with the spoils of the suppressed monasteries, and many suspected that these spoils were the true incentives to his system of reformation. The wealth he had accumulated was, no doubt, a strong temptation to Henry, as it was in all such cases, and thus Cromwell's avarice brought its own punishment. In his treatment of the unfortunate Romanists whom he had to eject from their[182] ancient houses and lands, his conduct had been harsh and unsparing; and by that party, now in power, he was consequently hated with an intense hatred; and this was a second means of self-punishment. But above all, in the days of his power, he had been perfectly reckless of the liberties and securities of the subject. He had broken down the bulwarks of the Constitution, and advised the king to make his own will the sole law, carrying for him through Parliament the monstrous doctrine embodied in the enactment that the royal proclamation superseded Parliamentary decrees, and that the Crown could put men to death without any form of trial. Under the monstrous despotism which he had thus erected, he now fell himself, and had no right whatever to complain. Yet he did complain most lamentably. The men who never feel for others, concentrate all their commiseration on themselves; and Cromwell, so ruthless and immovable to the pleadings of his own victims, now sent the most abject and imploring letters to Henry, crying, "Mercy, mercy!"

His experience might have assured him that, when once Henry seized his victim, he never relented; and there was no one except Cranmer who dared to raise a voice in his favour, and Cranmer's interference was so much in his own timid style, that it availed nothing. His papers were seized, his servants interrogated, and out of their statements, whatever they were—for they were never produced in any court—the accusations were framed against him. These consisted in the charges of his having, as minister, received bribes, and encroached on the royal authority by issuing commissions, discharging prisoners, pardoning convicts, and granting licences for the exportation of prohibited merchandise. As Vicar-General, he was charged with having not only held heretical opinions himself, but also with protecting heretical preachers, and promoting the circulation of heretical books. Lastly, there was added one of those absurd, gratuitous assertions, which Henry always threw in to make the charge amount to high treason, namely, that Cromwell had expressed his resolve to fight against the king himself, if necessary, in support of his religious opinions; and Mount was instructed to inform the German princes that Cromwell had threatened to strike a dagger into the heart of the man who should oppose the Reformation, which, he said, meant the king. He demanded a public trial, but was refused, being only allowed to face his accusers before the Commissioners. Government then proceeded against him by bill of attainder, and thus, on the principle that he had himself established, he was condemned without trial, even Cranmer voting in favour of the attainder. His fate was delayed for more than a month, during which time he continued to protest his innocence, with a violence which stood in strong contrast to his callousness to the protestations of others, wishing that God might confound him, that the vengeance of God might light upon him, that all the devils in hell might confront him, if he were guilty. He drew the most lamentable picture of his forlorn and miserable condition, and offered to make any disclosures demanded of him; but though nothing would have saved him, unluckily for him, Henry discovered among his papers his secret correspondence with the princes of Germany. He gave the royal assent to the bill of attainder, and in five days—namely, on the 28th of July—Cromwell was led to the scaffold, where he confessed that he had been in error, but had now returned to the truth, and died a good Catholic. He fell detested by every man of his own party, exulted over by the Papist section of the community, and unregretted by the people, who were just then smarting under the enormous subsidy he had imposed. As if to render his execution the more degrading, Lord Hungerford, a nobleman charged with revolting crimes, was beheaded with him.



REIGN OF HENRY VIII. (concluded).

Divorce of Anne of Cleves—Catherine Howard's Marriage and Death—Fresh Persecutions—Welsh Affairs—The Irish Insurrection and its Suppression—Scottish Affairs—Catholic Opposition to Henry—Outbreak of War—Battle of Solway Moss—French and English Parties in Scotland—Escape of Beaton—Triumph of the French Party—Treaty between England and Germany—Henry's Sixth Marriage—Campaign in France—Expedition against Scotland—Capture of Edinburgh—Fresh Attempt on England—Cardinal Beaton and Wishart—Death of the Cardinal—Struggle between the Two Parties in England—Death of Henry.

The death of Cromwell was quickly followed by the divorce of Anne of Cleves. The queen was ordered to retire to Richmond, on pretence that the plague was in London. Marillac, the French ambassador, writing to Francis I., said that the reason assigned was not the true one, for if there had been the slightest rumour of the plague, nothing would have induced Henry to remain; "for the king is the most timid person in the world in such cases." It was the preliminary step to the divorce, and as soon as she was gone, Henry put in motion all his established machinery for getting rid of wives. The Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Duke of Norfolk, and others of the king's ministers, procured a petition to be got up and presented to his Majesty, stating that the House had doubts of the validity of the king's marriage, and consequently were uneasy as to the succession, and prayed the king to submit the question to Convocation. Of course, Henry could refuse nothing to his faithful peers, and Convocation, accordingly, took the matter into consideration. The marriage was declared—like his two former ones with Catherine and Anne Boleyn—to be null and void; and the same judgment of high treason was pronounced on any one who should say or write to the contrary. The queen being a stranger to the English laws and customs, was not called upon to appear personally, or even by her advocates, before Convocation.

All this being settled, the Duke of Suffolk, the Earl of Southampton, and Wriothesley proceeded to Richmond, to announce the decision to the queen. On the sight of these ministers, and on hearing their communication, that the marriage was annulled by Parliament, the poor woman, supposing that she was going to be treated like Anne Boleyn, fainted, and fell on the floor. On her return to consciousness, the messengers hastened to assure her that there was no cause of alarm; that the king had the kindest and best intentions towards her; that, if she would consent to resign the title of queen, he proposed to give her the title of his sister; to grant her precedence of every lady except the future queen and his daughters, and to endow her with estates to the value of £3,000 per annum.

Anne received some of the spoils of the fallen Cromwell in different estates which were made over to her for life, including Denham Hall, in Essex. She resided principally at her palace of Richmond, and at Ham House; but we find her living at different times at Bletchingley, Hever Castle, Penshurst, and Dartford. Though she was queen only about six months, she continued to live in England for seventeen years—seeing two queens after her, and Edward VI. and Queen Mary on the throne—greatly honoured by all who knew her, and much beloved by both the princesses Mary and Elizabeth. Not in seventeen years, but in sixteen months, she saw the fall and tragedy of the queen who supplanted her; so that one of her maids of honour, Elizabeth Bassett, could not help exclaiming at the news, "What a man the king is! how many wives will he have?" For which very natural expression the poor girl was very near getting into trouble. As for Anne herself, she appeared quite a new woman when she had got clear of her terrible and coarse-minded tyrant, so that the French ambassador, Marillac, wrote to his master that "Madame of Cleves has a more joyous countenance than ever. She wears a great variety of dresses, and passes all her time in sports and recreations." No sooner was she divorced than Henry paid her a visit, and was so delighted by her pleasant and respectful reception of him, that he supped with her merrily, and not only went often again to see her, but invited her to Hampton, whither she went, not at all troubling herself that another was acting the queen.

Anne's marriage was annulled by Parliament on the 9th of July, and on the 8th of August Catherine Howard appeared at Court as the[184] acknowledged queen. For twelve months all went on well, and the king repeatedly declared that he had never been happy in love or matrimony till now; that the queen was the most perfect of women, and the most affectionate of wives. To gratify his new queen, and to accomplish some objects of importance, Henry this summer made a progress into the north, and took Catherine with him. One object was to judge for himself of the state of the northern counties, where the late insurrections in favour of the old religion had broken out. He promised himself that his presence would intimidate the disaffected; that he should be able to punish those who remained troublesome, and make all quiet; but still more was he anxious for an interview with his nephew, James V. of Scotland. The principles of the Reformation had been making rapid progress in that country, and the fires of persecution had been lit up by the clergy. Patrick Hamilton, a young man of noble family, who had imbibed the new doctrines abroad, and Friar Forrest, a zealous preacher of the same, had suffered at the stake. But far more dangerous to the stability of the Catholic Church, was the fact that the Scottish nobility, poor and ambitious, had learnt a significant lesson from what had been going on in England. The seizure of the monastic estates there by the king, and their liberal distribution amongst the nobility, excited their cupidity, and they strongly urged James to follow the example of his royal uncle. In this counsel they found a staunch coadjutor in Henry, who never ceased exciting James to follow his example, and, to make sure of his doing so, invited him to an interview at York, to which he consented.

Notwithstanding great preparations had been made, the King of Scots excused his coming. The very first announcement of such a project had struck the clergy of Scotland with consternation. They hastened to point out to James the dangers of innovation—the certain mischief of aggrandising the nobility, already too powerful, with the spoils of the Church—the jeopardy of putting himself into the hands of Henry and the English, and the loss of the friendship of all foreign powers, if he was induced by Henry to attack the Church, which would render him almost wholly dependent on England. They added force to these arguments by presenting him with a gratuity of £50,000; promised him a continuance of their liberality, and pointed out to him a certain source of income of at least £100,000 per annum in the confiscations of heretics. These representations and gifts had the desired effect. James sent an excuse to Henry for not being able to meet him at York; and the disappointed king turned homeward in great disgust. The fascinations of the young queen, however, soon restored his good humour, and they arrived at Windsor, on the 26th of October, in high spirits.

Little did the uxorious monarch dream that he was at this moment standing on a mine that would blow all his imagined happiness into the air and send his idolised wife to the block. But at the very time that he and Catherine had been showing themselves as so beautifully conjugal a couple to the good people of the north, the mine had been preparing. It was the misfortune of all the queens of Henry VIII. that they had not only to deal with one of the most vindictive and capricious tyrants that ever existed, but that they were invariably, and necessarily, the objects of the hatred of a powerful and merciless party, which was ready to destroy its antagonist, and, as the first and telling stroke in that progress, to pull down the queen. Catherine Howard was now the hope of the Romanists. She was the niece of the Duke of Norfolk, the most resolute lay-Papist in the kingdom, and the political head of that party. The public evidences of the growing influence of Catherine with the king in the northern progress, had been marked by the Catholics with exultation, and by the Protestants with proportionate alarm. Both Rapin and Burnet assert that Cranmer felt convinced, from what he saw passing, that unless some means were found to lessen the influence of the queen, and thus dash the hopes of the Catholics, he must soon follow Cromwell to the block. A most ominous circumstance which reached him was, that the royal party took up their quarters for a night at the house of Sir John Gorstwick, who, but in the preceding spring, had denounced Cranmer in open Parliament, as "the root of all heresies," and that at Gorstwick's there had been held a select meeting of the Privy Council, at which Gardiner, the unhesitating leader of the Romanists, presided. It was the signal for the Protestants to bring means of counter-action into play, and such means, unfortunately for the queen, were already stored up and at hand.

It was discovered that the queen had been guilty of numerous improprieties before marriage, chiefly with a man called Derham, and it was now alleged that an intrigue had been going on between Catherine and her cousin, Thomas Culpepper, in the northern progress, at Lincoln and York, and that one night Culpepper was in the same room[185] with the queen and Lady Rochford for three hours. But when it was attempted to establish this fact on the evidence of women in attendance, Catherine Tylney and Margaret Morton, this evidence dwindled to mere surmise. Tylney deposed that on two nights at Lincoln, the queen went to the room of Lady Rochford, and stayed late, but affirmed "on her peril that she never saw who came unto the queen and my Lady Rochford, nor heard what was said between them." Morton's evidence amounted only to this, that, at Pontefract, Lady Rochford conveyed letters between the queen and Culpepper, as was supposed; and one night when the king went to the queen's chamber, the door was bolted, and it was some time before he could be admitted. This circumstance must have been satisfactorily accounted for to Henry at the time, jealous person as he was, yet on such paltry grounds was it necessary to build the charge of criminal conduct in the queen.


On the 21st of January, 1542, a bill of attainder of Catherine Howard, late Queen of England, and of Jane, Lady Rochford, for high treason; of Agnes, Duchess of Norfolk, Lord William Howard, the Lady Bridgewater, and four men and five women, including Derham and Culpepper, already executed, was read in the Lords. On the 28th, the Lord Chancellor, impressed with a laudable sense of justice, proposed that a deputation of Lords and Commons should be allowed to wait on the queen to hear what she had to say for herself. He said it was but just that a queen, who was no mean or private person, but a public and illustrious one, should be tried by equal laws like themselves and thought it would be acceptable to the king himself if his consort could thus clear herself. But that did not suit Henry: he was resolved to be rid of his lately beloved model queen; and as there was no evidence whatever of any crime on her part against him, he did not mean that she should have any opportunity of being heard in her defence. The bill was, therefore, passed through Parliament, passing the Lords in three and the Commons in two days. On the 10th of February the queen was conveyed by water to the Tower, and the next day Henry gave his assent to the bill of attainder. The persons sent to receive the queen's confession were Suffolk, Cranmer, Southampton,[186] Audley, and Thirlby. "How much she confessed to them," Burnet says, "is not very clear, neither by the journal nor the Act of Parliament, which only say she confessed." If she had confessed the crime alleged after marriage, that would have been made fully and officially known. Two days afterwards, February 12th, she was brought to the block.

Thus fell Catherine Howard in the bloom of her youth and beauty, being declared by an eye-witness to be the handsomest woman of her time, paying for youthful indiscretions the forfeit of her life to the king, though some think she had not sinned against him. So conscious was Henry of this, that he made it high treason, in the Act of Attainder, for any one to conceal any such previous misconduct in a woman whom the sovereign was about to marry. With Catherine fell the odious Lady Rochford, who had long deserved her fate, for her false and murderous evidence against her own husband and Anne Boleyn.

Having thus destroyed his fifth wife, Henry now turned his attention to the regulation of religious affairs and opinions. In 1539 he had attempted to set up a standard of orthodoxy by the publication of "The Institution of a Christian Man," or "The Bishops' Book," as it was called, because compiled by the bishops under his direction. After that he published his "Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man," which was called "The King's Book." In this it was observable that, instead of approaching nearer to the Protestant creed, he was going fast back into the strictest principles of Romanism. He had allowed the people to read the Bible, but he now declared that, though the reading of it was necessary to the teachers of religion, it was not so necessary for the learners; and he decreed, by Act of Parliament, that the Bible should not be read in public, or be seen in any private families but such as were of noble or gentle birth. It was not to be read privately by any but householders and women who were well-born. If any woman of the ordinary class, any artificer, apprentice, journeyman, servant, or labourer dared to read the Bible, he or she was to be imprisoned for one month.

Gardiner and the Papist party were more and more in the ascendant, and the timid Cranmer and the more liberal bishops were compelled not only to wink at these bigoted rules, but to order "The King's Book," containing all the dogmas which they held to be false and pernicious, to be published in every diocese, and to be the guide of every preacher. By this means it was hoped to quash the numerous new sects which were springing from the reading of the Bible, and the earnest discussions consequent upon it. Such a flood of new light had poured suddenly into the human mind, that it was completely dazzled by it. Opinion becoming in some degree free, ran into strange forms. There were Anabaptists, who held that every man ought to be guided by the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and that, consequently, there was no need of king, judge, magistrate, or civil law, or war, or capital punishment. There were Antinomians, who contended that all things were free and allowable to the saints without sin. There were Fifth-Monarchy men; members of the Family of Love, or Davidians, from one David George, their leader; Arians, Unitarians, Predestinarians, Libertines, and other denominations, whom we shall find abundant in the time of the Commonwealth. What was strangest of all was to see King Henry, who would allow no man's opinion to be right but his own, and who burnt men for daring to differ from him, lecturing these contending sects on their animosities in his speech in Parliament, and bidding them "behold what love and charity there was amongst them, when one called another heretic and Anabaptist, and he called him again Papist, hypocrite, and pharisee;" and the royal peacemaker threatened to put an end to their quarrellings by punishing them all. During the four remaining years of his reign, he burnt or hanged twenty-four persons for religion—that is, six annually—fourteen of them being Protestants. During these years "The King's Book" was the only authorised standard of English orthodoxy.

It is now necessary to take a brief glance at the proceedings of Henry's government in Ireland and Wales, and towards Scotland. In the Principality of Wales the measures of the king were marked by a far wiser spirit than those which predominated in religion. Being descended from the natives of that country, it was natural that it should claim his particular attention. Wales at that time might be divided into two parts, one of which had been subjected by the English monarchs, and divided into shires, the other which had been conquered by different knights and barons, thence called the lords-marchers. The shires were under the royal will, but the hundred and forty-one small districts or lordships which had been granted to the petty conquerors, excluded the officers and writs of the king altogether. The lords, like so many counts palatine, exercised all sovereign rights within their own districts, had their own courts, appointed their[187] own judges, and punished or pardoned offenders at pleasure. This opened up a source of the grossest confusion and impunity from justice; for criminals perpetrating offences in one district had only to move into another, and set the law at defiance. Henry, by enacting, in 1536, that the whole of Wales should thenceforth be incorporated with England, should obey the same laws and enjoy the same rights and privileges, did a great work. The Welsh shires, with one borough in each, were empowered to send members to Parliament, the judges were appointed solely by the Crown, and no lord was any longer allowed to pardon any treason, murder, or felony in his lordship, or to protect the perpetrators of such crimes. The same regulations were extended to the county palatine of Chester.

The proceedings of Henry in Ireland were equally energetic, if they were not always as just; and in the end they produced an equally improved condition of things there. Quiet and law came to prevail, though they prevailed with severity. On the accession of Henry to the throne, the portion of the island over which the English authority really extended was very limited indeed. It included merely the chief sea-ports, with the five counties of Louth, Westmeath, Dublin, Kildare, and Wexford. The rest of the country was almost independent of England, being in the hands of no less than ninety chieftains—thirty of English origin, and the rest native—who exercised a wild and lawless kind of sway, and made war on each other at will. Wolsey, in the height of his power, determined to reduce this Irish chaos to order. He saw that the main causes of the decay of the English authority lay in the perpetual feuds and jealousies of the families of Fitzgerald and Butler, at the head of which were the Earls of Kildare and of Ormond. The young Earl of Kildare, the chief of the Fitzgeralds, who succeeded his father in 1520, was replaced by the Earl of Surrey, afterwards the Duke of Norfolk, whom we have seen so disgracefully figuring in the affairs of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, his nieces. During the two years that he held the Irish government, he did himself great credit by the vigour of his administration, repressing the turbulence of the chiefs, and winning the esteem of the people by his hospitality and munificence.

Unfortunately for Ireland, Surrey had acquired great renown by his conduct under his father at Flodden, and when Henry, in 1522, declared war against France, he was deemed the only man fitted to take command of the army. The government of Ireland, on his departure, was placed in the hands of Butler, Earl of Ormond. In the course of ten years it passed successively from Ormond again to Kildare, from Kildare to Sir William Skeffington, and back for the third time to Kildare.

Kildare, relieved from the fear of Wolsey, who had now fallen, gave way to the exercise of such acts of extravagance, that his own friends attributed them to insanity. At the earnest recommendations, therefore, of his hereditary rivals, the Butlers, he was called to London in 1534, and sent to the Tower. Still, he had left his Irish government in the hands of his son, Lord Thomas Fitzgerald—a young man of only one-and-twenty, brave, generous, but with all the impetuosity of Irish blood. Hearing a false report that his father was beheaded in the Tower, young Fitzgerald flew to arms. He appeared at the head of 140 followers before the council, resigned the sword of State, and demanded war against Henry of England.

Cromer, the Archbishop of Armagh, earnestly entreated him not to plunge himself into a quarrel so hopeless as that with England; but in vain. The strains of an Irish minstrel, uttered in his native tongue, had more influence with him, for they called on him to revenge his father, to free Ireland; and the incensed youth flew to arms. For a time success attended him. He overran the rich district of Fingal; the natives flocked to his standard; the Irish minstrels, in wild songs, stirred the people to frenzy; and surprising Allen, the Archbishop of Dublin, on the very point of escaping to England, and supposed to be one of the accusers of the Earl of Kildare, they murdered him in presence of the young chief and his brothers. He then sent a deputation to Rome, offering, on condition that the Pope should give him the support of his sanction, to defend Ireland against an apostate prince, and to pay a handsome annual tribute to the Holy See. He sent ambassadors also to the Emperor, demanding assistance against the prince who had so grossly insulted him by divorcing his aunt, Queen Catherine. Five of his uncles joined him, but he was repulsed from the walls of Dublin. The strong castle of Maynooth was carried by assault by the new deputy, Sir William Skeffington; and in the month of October Lord Leonard Gray, the son of the Marquis of Dorset, arriving from England at the head of fresh forces, chased him into the fastnesses of Munster and Connaught. On hearing of this ill-advised rebellion, the poor Earl of Kildare, already stricken with palsy, sickened and died in the Tower.


Lord Gray did not trust simply to his arms in the difficult country into which the Fitzgeralds had retired; he employed money freely to bribe the natives, who led him through the defiles of the mountains, and the passable tracks of the morasses, into the retreats of the enemy. He found the county of Kildare almost entirely desolated. Six out of the eight baronies were burnt; and where this was not the case, the people had fled, leaving the corn in the fields. Meath also was ravaged; and the towns throughout the south of Ireland, besides the horrors of civil war, found fever and pestilence prevailing, Dublin itself being more frightfully decimated than the provincial towns. The English Government sent very little money to the troops, and left them to subsist by plunder; and they first seized all the cattle, corn, and provisions, and then laid waste the country by fire. By March, 1535, Lord Thomas Fitzgerald was reduced to such extremity that he wrote to Lord Gray, begging him to become intercessor between the king and himself. Lord Gray, there can be little doubt, promised Fitzgerald a full pardon, on which he surrendered. But Skeffington wrote to the king that, finding that O'Connor, his principal supporter, had come in and yielded, "the young traitor, Thomas Fitzgerald, had done the same, without condition of pardon of life, lands, and goods."


But this assertion is clearly contradicted by the council in Dublin, who wrote entreating the king to be merciful to the said Thomas, to whom they had given comfortable promises. O'Connor had been too wise to put himself into the power of Henry on the strength of any promises: he delivered only certain hostages as security for his good behaviour; but Lord Thomas was carried over to England by Lord Gray, where he was committed to the Tower. Gray was immediately sent back to Ireland, with the full command of the army there, and he was instructed above all things to secure the persons of the five uncles of Lord Fitzgerald. Accordingly, on the 14th of February, 1536, the council of Ireland sent to Cromwell, then minister, an exulting message, that Lord Gray, the chief justice, and others, had captured the five brethren, which they pronounced to be the "first deed that ever was done for the weal of the king's[189] poor subjects of that land." They added, "We assure your mastership that the said lord justice, the treasurer of the king's wars, and such others as his grace put in trust in this behalf, have highly deserved his most gracious thanks for the politic and secret conveying of the matter." But the truth was, that this politic and secret management was one of the most disgraceful pieces of treachery which ever was transacted—the Fitzgeralds being seized at a banquet to which both parties had proceeded under the most solemn pledges of mutual faith. They were conveyed at once to London, and in February, 1537, the young earl and his five uncles were beheaded, after a long and cruel imprisonment in the Tower. Their unprincipled betrayer, however, did not long enjoy the fruits of his treachery. He was made Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland as a reward for his dishonourable service, but was soon removed on charges of misconduct, committed to one of the very cells which his victims had occupied, and was beheaded on Tower Hill, as a traitor, on the 28th of June, 1541, ending his life, according to Godwin, very quietly and godlily. Gray certainly deserved better treatment from Henry; for, though his conduct was infamous to the Fitzgeralds, it was most useful to the English king. The rival factions of Fitzgeralds and Butlers continuing to resist the English power, Gray contended against them till, by his brilliant victory at Bellahoe, he broke the power of O'Neill, the northern chieftain, and confirmed the power of England. Yet, being uncle, by his sister, to the last surviving male heir of the Fitzgeralds—Gerald, the youngest brother of the unfortunate Lord Thomas, a boy of only twelve years of age—he was accused of favouring his escape, and all his services were forgotten by his ungrateful sovereign. The young Gerald Fitzgerald escaped to the Continent by the aid of a sea captain of St. Malo, and ultimately to Italy, where he lived under the patronage and protection of his kinsman, Cardinal Pole, till he eventually recovered the honours and estates of his ancestors, in the reign of Queen Mary, at the suggestion of the cardinal.

After the recall of Lord Gray, O'Connor, O'Neill, M'Murdo, and the O'Tooles excited fresh insurrections, but they were speedily put down, and in 1541 Anthony St. Leger found both the Irish chiefs and the lords of the pale eagerly outstripping each other in professions of loyalty. In 1541 Henry raised Ireland from the rank of a lordship to that of a kingdom, and granted letters patent to the Irish chiefs, by the advice of Sir Thomas Cusake, though unwillingly. Thus, by securing them in possession of their lands, and raising them to new honours, he gained their devoted attachment. Henry gave them houses in Dublin, which they were to inhabit when summoned as peers of the Irish Parliament. Ulick Burke was made Earl of Clanricarde, Murroch O'Brien Earl of Thomond, and the great O'Neill became henceforth known by his new title of Earl of Tyrone. The Irish council was instructed to proceed with the suppression of the monasteries, though cautiously, not urging the monks too rigorously, lest they stirred up opposition, but desirably persuading them that "the lands of the Church were his proper inheritance." These matters were so well carried out, that the ascendency of England had never appeared so firmly established since the first invasion of the island by Henry II.

In Scotland the French and Catholic party was all powerful. James V. married a French wife, Mary of Guise, in 1538, and in 1539 David Beaton succeeded his uncle, James Beaton, in the primacy, when the Pope, to add additional honours to so devoted a servant, presented him with a cardinal's hat. It was at this crisis that the Pope, acting in concert with France and Spain, sent Cardinal Pole to co-operate with the Scots in annoying Henry, and James being applied to by the Pontiff Paul, declared himself willing to unite with Francis I. and the Emperor in the endeavour to convert or punish the heretical English king. As if to show Henry that there was no prospect of any co-operation of James with him, the fires of persecution were kindled by Beaton and his coadjutors against the Protestants in that kingdom, and this again drove the Reformers to make common cause with the Earl of Angus and other Scottish exiles in England. Henry, to encourage the Protestants, and to warn James if possible, sent to him his rising diplomatist, Sir Ralph Sadler, who represented to James that Henry was much nearer related to him than were any of the Continental sovereigns, and who endeavoured to prevent there the publication of the bill of excommunication.

But it became necessarily a pitched battle between the Papist party in Scotland and Henry. They beheld with natural alarm his destruction of the Papal Church in England, an example of the most terrible kind to all other national churches of the same creed; and Henry, on the other hand, knew that so long as that faith was in the ascendant in Scotland, there would be no assured quiet in his own kingdom. It was the one[190] proximate and exposed quarter through which the Pope and his abettors on the Continent could perpetually assail him. From this moment, therefore, Henry spared no money, no negotiation, no pains to break down the Roman Catholic ascendency in Scotland.

In the spring of 1541 Cardinal Beaton, and Panter, the Royal secretary, were despatched to Rome with secret instructions. This alarmed Henry, and yet afforded him a hope of making an impression on his nephew whilst the cardinal was away. Once more, therefore, he invited James to meet him at York. Lord William Howard, who was his envoy on the occasion, induced James to promise to meet Henry there, and we have seen him on his way accompanied by his bride, Catherine Howard, to the place of rendezvous. But James came not; and Henry, enraged, vowed that he would compel James by force to do that which he would not concede to persuasion.

The Romanist party in Scotland were better pleased with a hostile than a pacific position, for they greatly dreaded that Henry might at length warp the king's mind towards his own views. The leaders on both sides were, in fact, never at peace. On the one side, the exiled Douglases were always on the watch to recover their estates by their swords, and the fugitives in Scotland, on account of the Pilgrimage of Grace, were equally ready to fight their way back to their homes and fortunes. In the August of 1542, accordingly, there were sharp forays, first from one side of the Border, and then from the other. Sir James Bowes, the warden of the east marches, accompanied by Sir George Douglas, the Earl of Angus, and other Scottish exiles, and 3,000 horsemen, rushed into Teviotdale, when they were met at Haddenrig by the Earl of Huntly and Lord Home, who defeated them, and took 600 prisoners.

Henry, having issued a proclamation declaring the Scots the aggressors, ordered a levy of 40,000 men, and appointed the Duke of Norfolk the commander of this army. He was attended by the Earls of Shrewsbury, Derby, Cumberland, Surrey, Hertford, Rutland, with many others of the nobility. This imposing force was joined by the Earl of Angus and the rest of the banished Douglases who had escaped the slaughter at Haddenrig. After some delay at York the royal army, issuing a fresh proclamation, in which Henry claimed the crown of Scotland, advanced to Berwick, where it crossed into Scotland, and, advancing along the northern bank of the Tweed as far as Kelso, burned two towns and twenty villages. Norfolk did not venture to advance farther into the country, as he heard that James had assembled a powerful force, whilst Huntly, Home, and Seton were hovering on his flanks. He therefore contented himself with ravaging the neighbourhood, and then crossed again at Kelso into England.

James, indignant at the invasion and the injuries inflicted on his subjects, marched from the Burghmuir at Edinburgh, where he was encamped at the head of 30,000 men, in pursuit of the English. But he soon found that different causes paralysed his intended chastisement. Many of the nobles were in favour of the Reformation, and held this martial movement as a direct attempt to maintain the Papal power and the influence of Beaton and his party. Others were in secret league with the banished Douglases, who were on the English side; and there were not wanting those who sincerely advised a merely defensive warfare, and pointed out the evils which had always followed the pursuit of the English into their own country. They urged the fact that Norfolk and his army, destitute of provisions and suffering from the inclemency of the weather, were already in full retreat homewards. But James would not listen to these arguments; he burned to take vengeance on the English, and after halting on Fala Muir, and reviewing his troops, he gave the order to march in pursuit of Norfolk; but, to his consternation, he found that nearly every nobleman refused to cross the Border. They pleaded the lateness of the season, the want of provisions for the army, and the rashness of following the English into the midst of their own country, where another Flodden Field might await them.

James was highly exasperated at this defection, and denounced the leaders as traitors and cowards, pointing out to them their unpatriotic conduct, when they saw all around them the towns and villages burnt, the farms ravaged, and the people expelled or exterminated along the line of Norfolk's march. It was in vain that he exhorted or reproved them; they stole away from his standard, and the indignant king found himself abandoned by the chief body of his army. For himself, however, he disdained to give up the enterprise. He despatched Lord Maxwell with a force of 10,000 men to burst into the western marches, ordering him to remain in England laying waste the country as long as Norfolk had remained in Scotland. James himself awaited the event at Caerlaverock Castle; but, discontented with the movements of Lord Maxwell, whom he suspected of being infected by the spirit of the other insubordinate nobles, he sent his favourite, Oliver Sinclair, to supersede Lord Maxwell in the command.

From the Painting by S. E. Waller, in the National Gallery of British Art


Moss-troopers returning from a Foray.

From the Painting by S. E. Waller, in the National Gallery of British Art.


This was an imprudent step, calculated to excite fresh discontent, as it very effectually did. The proud nobles who surrounded Maxwell threw down their arms, swearing that they would not serve under any such royal minion; the troops broke out into open mutiny; and in the midst of this confusion, a body of 500 English horse riding up under the Lords Dacre and Musgrave, the Scots believed it to be the vanguard of Norfolk's army, and fled in precipitate confusion. The English, charging furiously at this unexpected advantage, surrounded great numbers of the fugitives, and took 1,000 of them prisoners. All these were sent to London, and given into the custody of different English noblemen. Many of the prisoners were believed to surrender willingly, as disaffected men who were ready to sell their country to England; and others are said to have been seized by border freebooters, and sold to the enemy. This was the battle of Solway Moss.

The king was so overwhelmed with grief and resentment at this disgraceful defeat, through the disloyalty of his nobility, that he returned to Edinburgh in deep dejection. From Edinburgh he proceeded to the palace of Falkland, where he shut himself up, brooding on his misfortunes; and such hold did this take upon him, that he began to sink rapidly in health. He was in the prime of his life, being only in his thirty-first year; of a constitution hitherto vigorous, having scarcely known any sickness; but his agonised mind producing fever of body, he seemed hastening rapidly to the grave. At this crisis his wife was confined. She had already borne him two sons, who had died in their infancy, and an heir might now have given a check to his melancholy; but it proved a daughter—the afterwards celebrated and unfortunate Queen of Scots. On hearing that it was a daughter, he turned himself in his bed, saying, "The crown came with a woman, and it will go with one. Many miseries await this poor kingdom. Henry will make it his own, either by force of arms or by marriage." On the seventh day after the birth of Mary, he expired, December 14th, 1542.

No sooner did Cardinal Beaton and his party learn that the king had expired than, guessing all that Henry and his party in Scotland would attempt, they took measures to secure the young queen and the sovereign power. Beaton produced a will as that of James, appointing him regent and guardian of the young queen, assisted by a council of the Earls of Argyll, Huntly, and Murray. The Earl of Arran, James Hamilton, on the other hand, declared this will to be a forgery, and being himself the next heir to the throne, after the infant queen, he assumed the right to make himself her guardian, and to order the kingdom for her. By means of the Protestant nobles, as well as the vassals of his own house, and the prevailing opinion that Beaton had forged the will, Arran succeeded in establishing himself as regent on the 22nd of December, 1542, and the Protestant influence was in the ascendant. It was now conceded that Angus and the Douglases should be recalled from their exile, and they quitted England in the following January, the Earl of Arran giving them a safe-conduct.

It was a deadly warfare between the Protestant and Papal parties. A list of 360 of the nobles and gentry was produced by Arran, which was said to have been found on the person of the king, all of whom were proscribed as heretics, and doomed to confiscation of their estates and other punishments. This list, which the Romanists in their turn denounced as forged, was vehemently charged on Beaton, who was said to have drawn it up when the heads of the army refused to march into England. The Earl of Arran himself stood at the head of the list. The cardinal, who saw the imminent danger of his cause and party, despatched trusty agents to France to solicit instant aid in money and troops, to defend the interests and guard the persons of the queen-dowager, Mary of Guise, and the royal infant. To hasten the movements of the house of Guise, he represented the certain dependence of Scotland on England if the king of England succeeded in accomplishing the marriage of the infant queen with his son.

To silence the cardinal, he was seized and incarcerated in the castle of Blackness, under the care of Lord Seton; and a negotiation was actively carried on through Sir Ralph Sadler for the marriage of the infant queen and the Prince of Wales. It was agreed that Mary should remain in Scotland till she was ten years of age; that she should then be sent to England to be educated; that six Scottish noblemen should be at once delivered to Henry as hostages for the fulfilment of the contract; and when the union of the two kingdoms should take place, Scotland should retain all its own laws and privileges.

But though Beaton was in prison, his spirit was[192] abroad. The clergy had the highest faith in the talents and influence of the cardinal. They considered his liberation as necessary to avert the ruin of their party, and they put in motion all their machinery for rousing the people. They shut up the churches, and refused to administer the sacraments or bury the dead; and the priests and monks were thus set at liberty from all other duties to harangue and influence the passions of the people. Everywhere it was declared that Arran, the regent, had formed a league with Angus and the Douglases, who had been so long in England, to sell the country and the queen to England under the pretence of a marriage; that this was what the English monarchs had long been seeking; and that not only the Douglases, but Arran himself, were pensioned by Henry for the purpose. That this was but too true, the State Papers amply prove. Henry and his successors spared no money for this end; and the traitorous bargaining of a great number of the Scottish nobles with the English monarchs stands too well evidenced under their own hands.


(After the Picture by W. B. Hole, R.S.A.)

At this juncture Cardinal Beaton managed to escape from his prison, from which he had never ceased to correspond with and inspirit his party. How he came to escape has been considered a mystery; but perhaps that mystery is not very deep when we reflect that Lord Seton, in whose custody he was, was a man, though related to the Hamiltons, yet of a most loyal temper, and a decided Romanist. Seton negotiated with Beaton to give up his castle of St. Andrews; and, as if this could not be accomplished without the[193] cardinal's presence on the spot, Seton allowed him to accompany him, but with so small a force, that the moment the cardinal stood in his own castle he declared himself at liberty, and Seton had no power to say nay had he wished it. As no punishment or even censure befell Lord Seton on this account, it is most probable that Arran himself was cognisant of the scheme. What makes this more likely is that Hamilton, the abbot of Paisley, the natural brother of Arran, the Regent, had returned just before from France; and that he was at the bottom of the plot may not unreasonably be supposed, from the fact that he very soon exercised a powerful influence over the weaker mind of the Regent. Through the means of the abbot, Beaton even attempted to accommodate matters with Henry. He declared that he was sincerely desirous of the union of the young queen and the Prince of Wales, so that there should be peace between the countries, yet a peace preserving the independence of each. But this independence of Scotland was the very thing which Henry was determined to annihilate, and he pressed his desires for it with such violence that all hopes of an amicable arrangement vanished.


Arran, alienated from the English Government by the imperious demands of Henry, and alarmed at the progress of the Papist faction, took care to proclaim his resolute resolve to oppose the aims of Henry, even to the extremity of war, and he dismissed his Protestant chaplains, friar Williams and John Rough; and such was the spirit of the people that Glencairn and Cassillis, the most devoted partisans of England, declared that they would sooner die than agree to the surrender of the French alliance. Such, in fact, was the popular exasperation that Sadler dared not appear in the streets; and the peers in the interest of Henry were equally the objects of the public resentment.

To induce Henry to pause in his fatal career, Sir George Douglas hastened to London, and prevailed on him to abate the extravagance of his demands. The immediate delivery of the infant queen, the surrender of the fortresses and of the Government into the hands of Henry, were waived, and Douglas returned to Scotland, bearing[194] proposals of marriage of a more reasonable kind. Henry, however, did not abandon his schemes in secret. In the Public Record office there is a memorandum in the hand of Wriothesley, saying that "the articles be so reasonable, that if the ambassadors of Scotland will not agree to them, then it shall be mete the king's majesty follow out his purpose by force." Sir George Douglas renewed the offer formerly made by Henry to Arran, of marrying the Princess Elizabeth and his eldest son, and Sir George and Glencairn were sent to London to assist the ambassadors in bringing the negotiation to a close.

But Arran was assailed as vehemently on the other side by the cardinal, and the queen-dowager, who was the real head of the party. They sent Lennox to endeavour to win him over to their side, so that all Scotland might unite against Henry. Lennox delivered a very flattering message from Francis I. to the Regent, offering him both men and money to resist any attempt of invasion by the English; but this failing, the queen-dowager and Beaton prosecuted the negotiation with France, and it was agreed that 2,000 men, under Montgomerie, Sieur de Lorges, should be sent to Scotland. The queen and cardinal called on their partisans to assemble their followers and garrison their castles, whilst Grimani, the Pope's legate, was entreated to hasten to Scotland with a formidable store of anathemas and excommunications. The clergy assembled in convention at St. Andrews, and so ardent were they in the cause which they believed to be that of the very existence of the Church, that they pledged themselves to raise the sum required for the war against England, and, if necessary, not only to melt down the church plate, and to sacrifice their private fortunes, but to fight in person.

Whilst public opinion was in this state of fermentation, Henry VIII., irritated at the conduct of the cardinal and a large body of the nobles, committed one of those rash and foolish acts, into which the wild fury of his temper often precipitated him. After the proclamation of peace, a fleet of Scottish merchant vessels, driven by a storm, took refuge in an English port, where, under the recent treaty, they deemed themselves safe. But Henry had just proclaimed war on France and, making that a pretence, he accused them of carrying provisions to his enemies, and detained them. At this outrage the people of Edinburgh surrounded the house of Sadler the English ambassador, and threatened to burn him in it if the ships were not restored. Arran, the governor, came in for his share of the odium as the staunch ally of Henry; and the common friends of Arran and Henry, the traitorous faction of Angus, Cassillis, Glencairn, and the other barons under secret bond to England, proposed to call out their forces for immediate war. These base sons of a brave country asserted that the time was come for Henry to send a great army into Scotland, with which they would co-operate, "for the conquest of the realm."

Everything boded the immediate outbreak of a bloody war, when a surprising revolution took place. On the 3rd of September, Arran declared to Sir Ralph Sadler that he was devotedly attached to the interests of Henry, and within a week afterwards he met the cardinal at Callender House, the seat of Lord Livingston, and entered into a complete reconciliation with him. A short time before Beaton had refused to hold any intercourse with him for fear of his life, and now he was seen riding amicably with him towards Stirling. This singular exhibition was followed by Arran's renunciation of Protestantism; his return, with full absolution, into communion with the Roman Church; his surrender of the treaties with England, and the delivery of his son as a pledge of his sincerity. So marvellous a conversion must have had powerful causes, and they are only to be explained by the weakness of Arran's character, and the artful and alarming representations of his more able brother, the abbot of Paisley. This zealous partisan of both France and the cardinal is said to have persuaded him that by renouncing the Papal supremacy, and allying himself with the arch-enemy of Rome, Henry of England, he was running imminent danger of the total loss of his titles, estates, and claim to the Regency, which could only be maintained by the Pope declaring valid the divorce of his father from his former wife. All Scotland was now united in its enmity to England.

The year 1544 found Henry bent on war both with Scotland and France. Francis had deeply offended him by disapproving of his divorce and murder of Anne Boleyn, and by his refusal to follow his advice in repudiating his allegiance to the Pope. Francis had declared that he was Henry's friend, but only as far as the altar. Charles V., aggravated as had been the conduct of Henry towards him, by his divorce of his aunt Catherine, and the stigma of illegitimacy which he had cast on her daughter the Princess Mary,[195] was yet by no means displeased to observe the growing differences between Henry and his rival Francis. He, therefore, like a genuine politician, dropped his resentment on account of Catherine, and professed to believe that it was time to bury these remembrances in oblivion. The only obstacle to peace between them was the declared illegitimacy and exclusion from the succession of Mary. Henry lost no time in getting over this point. He had no need to confess himself wrong; he had a staunch Parliament who would do anything he required. Parliament, therefore, passed an Act restoring both Mary and Elizabeth to their political rights. Nothing was said of their illegitimacy, but they were restored to their place in the succession. Thus the Parliament had gone backward and forward at Henry's bidding to such an extent that now it was treason to assert the legitimacy of the princesses, and it was treason to deny it; for if they were illegitimate they could not claim the throne. It was treason to be silent, according to the former Act on this head, and it was now treason to refuse to take an oath on it when required. To such infamy did honourable members of Parliament stoop under this extraordinary despot.

This sorry compromise having been accepted by the necessities rather than the will of the Emperor, Henry and he now made a treaty on these terms: 1st, That they should jointly require the French king to renounce his alliance with the Turks, and to make reparation to the Christians for all the losses which they had sustained in consequence of that alliance; 2nd, That Francis should be compelled to pay up to the King of England the arrears of his pension, and give security for a more punctual payment in future; 3rd, That if Francis did not comply with these terms within forty days, the Emperor should seize the duchy of Burgundy, Henry all the territories of France which had belonged to his ancestors, and that both monarchs should be ready to enforce their claims at the head of a competent army.

As Francis refused to listen to these terms, and would not even permit the messengers of the newly allied sovereigns to cross his frontiers, the Emperor, who was now desirous of recovering the towns which he had lost in Flanders, obtained from Henry a reinforcement of 6,000 men under Sir John Wallop, who laid siege to Landrecies; whilst Charles himself, with a still greater force, overran the duchy of Cleves, and compelled the duke, the devoted partisan of France, to acknowledge the Imperial allegiance. Charles then marched to the siege of Landrecies, and Francis approached at the head of a large army. A great battle now appeared inevitable; but Francis, manœuvring as for a fight, contrived to throw provisions into the town and withdrew. Imperialists and English pursued the retiring army; and the English, by too much impetuosity, suffered considerable loss. Henry promised himself more decided advantage in the next campaign, which he intended to conduct in person. This he had not been able to make illustrious by his presence; for he had been busily engaged with his approaching marriage to a sixth wife.

The lady who had this time been elevated to this perilous eminence was the Lady Catherine Latimer, the widow of Lord Latimer, already mentioned for his concern in the Pilgrimage of Grace. She was born Catherine Parr, a daughter of Sir Thomas Parr. She was fourth cousin to Henry himself, and had been twice married previous to his wedding her. She was the widow of Lord Borough, of Gainsborough, at fifteen, and was about thirty when Henry married her, only a few months after the death of her second husband, Lord Latimer.

Catherine Parr, as she still continues to be called, was educated under the care of her mother at Kendal Castle, and received a very learned education for a woman of those times. She read and wrote Latin fluently, had some knowledge of Greek, and was mistress of several modern languages. She is said to have been handsome, but of very small and delicate features. At all times she appears to have been of remarkable thoughtfulness and prudence, extremely amiable, and became thoroughly devoted to Protestantism; and she may, indeed, justly be styled the first Protestant Queen of England, for Anne of Cleves, though educated in the Protestant faith, became a decided Papist in this country. It was not till after the death of Lord Latimer that her Protestant tendencies, however, were known; yet then, she seems to have made no secret of them, for her house became the resort of Coverdale, Latimer, Parkhurst, and other eminent Reformers, and sermons were frequently preached in her chamber of state, which it is surprising did not attract the attention of the king. The marriage took place on the 12th of July, 1543, in the queen's closet at Hampton Court.

The spring of 1544 opened with active preparations for Henry's campaign in France. During the winter, Gonzaga, the viceroy of Sicily, was despatched to London by Charles, to arrange the[196] plan of operations. An admirable one was devised, had Henry been the man to assist in carrying it out. The emperor was to enter France by Champagne, and Henry by Picardy, and, instead of staying to besiege the towns on the route, they were to dash on to Paris where, their forces uniting, they might consider themselves masters of the French capital, or in a position to dictate terms to Francis. In May the Imperialists were in the field, and Henry landed at Calais in June, and by the middle of July he was within the bounds of France, at the head of 20,000 English and 15,000 Imperialists.

But neither of the invaders kept to the original plan. Charles stopped by the way to reduce Luxembourg, Ligne, and St. Didier. Had Henry, however, pushed on with his imposing army to Paris, Francis would have been at the mercy of the allies. But Henry, ambitious to rival the military successes of Charles, and take towns too, instead of making the capital his object, turned aside to besiege Boulogne and Montreuil. The Imperial ambassador, sensible of the fatality of this proceeding, urged Henry with all his eloquence during eleven days to push on: and Charles, to take from him any further excuse for delay, hastened forward along the right bank of the Marne, avoiding all the fortified towns. But when once Henry had undertaken an object, opposition only increased his resolution, and he lost all consciousness of everything but the one idea of asserting his mastery. In vain, therefore, did Charles send messengers imploring him to advance; for more than two months he continued besieging Boulogne, and the golden opportunity was lost.

Francis seized on the delay to make terms with Charles. He sent to him a Spanish monk of the name of Guzman, and a near relative of Charles's confessor, proposing terms of accommodation. Charles readily listened to them, and sent to Henry to learn his demands. These demands were something enormous, and whilst Francis demurred, Charles continued his march, and arrived at Château-Thierry, almost in the vicinity of Paris. The circumstances of both Francis and Charles now mutually inclined them to open separate negotiations. Francis saw a foreign army menacing his capital, but Charles, on the other hand, saw the French army constantly increasing between him and his strange ally, whom nothing could induce to move from the walls of Boulogne. Under these circumstances Charles consented to offer Francis the terms which he had demanded before the war, and which he had refused; but now came the news that the English had taken Boulogne, and the French king at once accepted them. The Treaty of Crépy, as this was called, bound the two sovereigns to unite for the defence of Christendom against the Turks, and to unite their families by the marriage of the second son of Francis with a daughter of Charles. Henry, on his part, having placed a strong garrison in Boulogne, raised the siege of Montreuil, and returned to England, like a great conqueror, as he always did, from his distant campaigns.

By the end of April a scheme to assassinate Cardinal Beaton, of which Henry was cognisant, having failed, he was prepared to pour on Scotland the vial of his murderous wrath. A fleet of a hundred sail, under the command of Lord Lisle, the High Admiral of England, appeared suddenly in the Forth. The Scots seem to have by no means been dreaming of such a visitant, and it threw the capital into the greatest consternation. In four days, such was the absence of preparation, such the public paralysis, that Hertford was permitted to land his troops and his artillery without the sight of a single soldier. He had advanced from Granton to Leith when Arran and the cardinal threw themselves in his way with a miserable handful of followers, who were instantly dispersed and Leith was given up to plunder.

The citizens of Edinburgh, finding themselves deserted by the governor, flew to arms, under the command of Otterburn of Redhall, the provost of the city. Otterburn proceeded to the English camp and, obtaining an interview with Lord Hertford, complained of this unlooked-for invasion, and offered to accommodate all differences. But Hertford returned a haughty answer that he was not come to negotiate, for which he had no power, but to lay waste town and country with fire and sword unless the young queen were delivered to him. The people of Edinburgh, on hearing this insolent message, vowed to perish to a man rather than condescend to such baseness. They set about to defend their walls and sustain the attack of the enemy; but they found that Otterburn, who had tampered secretly with the English before this, had stolen unobserved away. They appointed a new provost, and manned their walls so stoutly that they compelled Hertford to fetch up his battering ordnance from Leith. Seeing very soon that it was impossible to defend their gates from this heavy ordnance, they silently collected as much of their property as they could carry, and abandoned the town. Hertford took possession of[197] it; and then sought to reduce the castle. But finding this useless, he set fire to the city; and, reinforced by 4,000 horse, under Lord Eure, he employed himself in devastating the surrounding country with a savage ferocity, which no doubt had been commanded by the bitter malice of the English king.

From the Portrait in the Louvre, attributed to the Elder Clouet


(From the Portrait in the Louvre, attributed to the Elder Clouet.)

On the 15th of May, Arran, having assembled a considerable force, and liberated Angus and his brother, Sir George Douglas, in the hope of winning them over by such clemency, marched rapidly towards Edinburgh. The English, however, did not wait for his arrival. Lord Lisle embarked a portion of the troops at Leith again, and Lord Hertford led away the remainder by land. Both by land and water the English commanders continued their buccaneering outrages, doing all the mischief and inflicting all the misery they could. Lord Lisle seized the two largest Scottish vessels in the harbour of Leith, and burnt the rest; he then sailed along the coast, plundering and destroying all the villages and country within reach. Lord Hertford, on his part, laid Port Seaton, Haddington, Renton, and Dunbar in ashes, and returned into England, leaving behind him a trail of desolation. Such was the insane and ridiculous manner in which Henry VIII. wooed the little Queen of Scotland for his son. A border war ensued, and Scotland was mercilessly ravaged.

Francis I. could not rest satisfied so long as Boulogne was in the hands of the English, and he resolved in 1545, to make a grand effort to recover not only that town but Calais, which had been for centuries in the possession of England. Large galleys were built at Rouen, and as many vessels were collected as possible from Marseilles and other ports in the Mediterranean for this[198] enterprise. He hired soldiers from the Venetian and other Italian States, and he determined to send a body of troops to Scotland to assist in making a diversion in that country. But he was not contented with endeavouring to regain his own towns; his coasts had often been harassed by the English vessels, and he now ventured to carry the war to Henry's own shores. Henry, aware of his intentions, raised fortifications on the banks of the Thames, and along the shores of Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire. The French fleet, consisting of 130 ships, set sail on the 16th of July, and fell down the Channel. Francis flattered himself that he could seize the Isle of Wight, and perhaps maintain garrisons there, if he should not be able to get possession of Portsmouth. Henry had himself proceeded to Portsmouth, where he had sixty ships lying, under the command of Lord Lisle. The French fleet sailed into the Solent, and anchored at St. Helen's. The sea being very calm, the French admiral put out his flat-bottomed boats and galleys that drew little water, and sailed into the very mouth of Portsmouth Harbour, daring the English admiral to come out. But Henry commanded Lord Lisle to lie still. The French admiral, firing into the port, sank the Mary Rose with her commander, Sir George Carew, and 700 men. On the turn of the tide Lord Lisle bore down on the enemy, and sank a galley with its men, and the French vessels then bore away to the main fleet.

As the French could not provoke the English to come out of harbour, though they burned the villages and farmhouses along the coast, they held a council of war, and resolved to attempt the conquest of the Isle of Wight. The invasion of the island was essayed in three places, but the inhabitants repulsed with great spirit the soldiers as they landed; and, after committing some ravages, the French thought it best to retire. They then sailed along the coast of Sussex, making occasional descents, and finally anchored before Boulogne, to prevent the entrance of supplies for the army there. Another object was to hinder reinforcements of ships from the Thames reaching Portsmouth, but in both these endeavours the superior vigilance of the English prevailed; provisions were conveyed into Boulogne, and a reinforcement of thirty ships arrived at Portsmouth. At length Lord Lisle received orders from Henry to put to sea and attack the enemy; he expressed himself highly delighted, but nothing came of it, for the two fleets manœuvred for some time in the face of each other, exchanged a few shots, and then retired to their respective ports. And thus ended the boastful enterprise of Francis. Henry, as we have seen, had only succeeded in capturing Boulogne, and was accordingly glad to make peace with Francis in 1546, on terms fairly advantageous to England.

As Scotland was included in the peace with France, the French party appeared to be entirely triumphant. But Beaton's end was near, and it was hastened on by his religious persecutions. Notwithstanding the endeavours of Cardinal Beaton, and the apostacy of Arran, the Reformation had now made great progress in Scotland, and it was while the struggle was going on between the party of Angus and the party of the cardinal, backed by the money and the arms of England, that there came upon the scene the remarkable preacher, George Wishart. Wishart is supposed to have been the son of James Wishart of Pitarro, justice-clerk to James V., and he was patronised by John Erskine, Provost of Montrose. In Montrose he became master of a school, and was expelled for teaching Greek to his boys, avowedly as the original tongue of the New Testament. He fled to England, and in Bristol was condemned as a heretic for preaching against the offering of prayers to the Virgin. He then recanted to avoid death, but remained some years in England, returning to all and more than the opinions he had renounced in sight of the fagot. He boldly preached the insufficiency of outward ceremonies when the heart itself was not touched. He admitted only the sacraments recorded in the Scriptures; derided auricular confession; condemned the invocation of saints and the doctrine of purgatory, though he approved of fasting, and maintained that the Lord's Supper was a Divine and comfortable institution. The doctrines, conduct, and corruptions of his opponents he denounced with unsparing severity.

These traits had made him a welcome agent of opposition to the cardinal with the lords of the English party; and Beaton, at once hostile to his religious views and to him personally, as the ally of those who were seeking his life by the most abominable means, soon turned his resentment upon him. Twice he is said to have escaped from the emissaries of the cardinal lying in wait to seize him. How far he was aware of the plots and mercenary villainy of those about him is uncertain; but living in the very midst of the traitor lords, and often under the very roof of the busy agent of Beaton's proposed murder, Brunston, he was so far cognisant of the preparations for the invasion of Scotland and the destruction of the[199] cardinal's party, that he frequently announced in his sermons the approach of the horrors which at length arrived, and thus acquired the reputation of a prophet. Under the protection of the Angus party, he preached in the towns of Montrose, Dundee, Perth, and Ayr, and produced such a spirit of hostility to the old religion, that at Dundee the houses of the Black and Grey Friars were destroyed, and similar attempts were made in Edinburgh.

While the friends of Wishart were seeking the life of Beaton, Beaton, aware of this, was seeking the life of Wishart, and Wishart in his addresses to the people repeatedly declared that he should perish a martyr to the cause of truth. At length Cassillis and the gentlemen of Kyle and Cunningham sent for him to meet them at Edinburgh, where they proposed that he should have an opportunity for public disputation with the bishop. Wishart proceeded to the capital where, Cassillis and the confederates not having arrived, he soon began to preach to the people, under the protection of the barons of Lothian. At Leith, Sir George Douglas bore public testimony to the truth of his doctrine, and declared his resolution to protect the preacher. There, too, he converted John Knox, who was destined to establish the Reformation in Scotland.

In the midst of these proceedings arrived the cardinal and the governor in Edinburgh, and Beaton lost no time in endeavouring to secure the person of the popular apostle. Brunston removed Wishart to West Lothian to be out of the way till the arrival of Cassillis, who was the chief conspirator against the cardinal; but Wishart was not a man to lie concealed. He preached in the very face of danger, though a two-handed sword was constantly borne before him on these occasions; and at length, after a remarkable sermon at Haddington, where he prognosticated deep miseries about to fall upon the country, he took leave affectionately of his audience, and set out for the house of Ormiston, accompanied by Brunston, Sandilands of Calder, and Ormiston. That night the house of Ormiston was surrounded by a party of horse under the command of the Earl of Bothwell. Wishart, Sandilands, and Cockburn were seized. Cockburn and Sandilands were conducted to the castle of Edinburgh, Wishart to Hailes, the house of Bothwell, who for some time refused to give him up to the cardinal, but at length did so under promise of a great reward. Brunston had managed to escape.

Beaton was anxious to have Wishart tried and condemned on a civil charge; but to this Arran would not consent, and the cardinal was therefore obliged to forego his vengeance, or arraign him as a heretic. He was sentenced to be burnt, and this sentence was carried out at St. Andrews, on the 28th of March, 1546. In this execution the cardinal's malice far outran his usually sound policy. Nothing could be more mischievous to his own cause than the murder of Wishart. Till then, the people, whatever their religious opinions, regarded the political views of Beaton as patriotic, and they supported him as the great bulwark against the power and designs of England. But now they regarded him as a horrible persecutor, and they shrank from him and his power fell. The meekness and patience with which Wishart, whom they now honoured with the name of martyr, bore his horrible fate, made a lasting impression on the public mind.

While the people thus unequivocally condemned this barbarous deed, and only the more eagerly inquired into the principles of the sufferer, the immediate confederates against the cardinal found in this event a grand warrant for carrying out their own murderous intentions. Cassillis, Glencairn, and the rest of the nobles had delayed the desperate deed, because they could not extract from Henry a distinct statement of the pay they were to receive for it. But now Norman Leslie, the Earl of Rothes, and John Leslie, his uncle, began to vow publicly that they would have the blood of Beaton as an atonement for that of the martyred Wishart. They opened anew an active correspondence with England, and associated themselves with a number of others who were exasperated at the cardinal's deed.

On the other hand, the partisans of Beaton lauded him to the skies as the saviour of the Church in Scotland, and strong in the alliance of France and the late ill-success of the English party, the cardinal appeared to enjoy a season of triumph; but it was a triumph quickly quenched in blood. Elated with his temporary success, the cardinal made a progress into Angus, and celebrated the marriage of one of his natural daughters, Margaret Béthune, to David Lindsay, Master of Crawford, at Finhaven Castle, bestowing upon her a dowry worthy of a princess. The cardinal was disturbed in his festivities by the news that Henry VIII. was pushing on his preparations for a new invasion, and he hastened to St. Andrews to put his castle into a perfect state of defence. On his arrival he summoned the barons of the neighbouring coast to consult on the best[200] means of fortifying it against any attack of the enemy. But while thus busily engaged in warding off the assault of a foreign enemy, a domestic foe was eagerly at work close at hand for his destruction. The Laird of Brunston was stimulating Henry to give the necessary assurance to those who were ready at a word to plunge the sword into the body of the cardinal. A quarrel arising between Beaton and the Leslies brought the matter to a crisis. Norman Leslie, the Master of Rothes, had given up to Beaton the estate of Easter Wemyss and, at a meeting in St. Andrews, had found the cardinal indisposed to make the promised equivalent for it. High words arose, and Leslie hastened to his uncle John; and both of them deeming that there was no longer any safety after the words Norman Leslie in his rage had let fall, they immediately summoned their confederates, and resolved to put the cardinal to death without delay.

On the evening of the 28th of May, Norman Leslie, attended by five followers, entered the city of St. Andrews, and rode, without exciting any suspicion, in his usual manner to his inn. Kirkaldy of Grange was awaiting him there, and after nightfall, John Leslie, whose enmity to Beaton was most notorious, stole quietly in and joined them. At daybreak the next morning, Norman Leslie and three of his attendants entered the gates of the castle court, the porter having lowered the drawbridge to admit the workmen who were employed on the cardinal's fresh fortifications. Norman inquired if the cardinal were yet up, as if he had business with him; and while he held the porter in conversation, Kirkaldy of Grange, James Melville, and their followers entered unobserved; but presently the porter, catching sight of John Leslie crossing the bridge, instantly suspected treason, and attempted to raise the drawbridge; but Leslie was too nimble for him; he leaped across the gap, and the conspirators, closing round the porter, despatched him with their daggers, seized the keys, and threw the body into the fosse, without any noise or alarm. They then proceeded to dismiss the workmen as quietly from the castle, and Kirkaldy, who was well acquainted with the castle, stationed himself at the only postern through which an escape could be made. The conspirators then went to the apartments of the different gentlemen composing the household of the cardinal, awoke them, and, under menace of instant death if they made any noise, conducted them silently out of the castle and dismissed them. Thus were 150 workmen and fifty household servants removed without any commotion by this little band of sixteen determined men, and, the portcullis being dropped, they remained masters of the castle.

The cardinal, who had slept through the greater part of this time, at length awoke at the unusual bustle, threw open his chamber window and demanded the cause of it. The reply was that Norman Leslie had taken the castle, on which the cardinal rushed to the postern to escape; but finding it in possession of Kirkaldy, he returned as rapidly to his chamber and, assisted by a page, pushed the heaviest furniture against the door to defend the entrance till an alarm could be given. But the conspirators did not allow him time for that. They called for fire to burn down the door, and Beaton, finding resistance useless, threw open the door, when John Leslie and Carmichael rushed upon him, as he cried for mercy, and stabbed him in several places. Melville, however, with a mockery of justice, bade them desist, saying that though the deed was done in secret, it was an act of national justice not that of mercenary assassins, and must be executed with all due decorum. Then, turning the point of the sword towards the wretched cardinal, he said, with formal gravity, "Repent thee, thou wicked cardinal, of all thy sins and iniquities, especially of the murder of Wishart, that instrument of God for the conversion of these lands. It is his death which now cries for vengeance on thee. We are sent by God to inflict the deserved punishment. For here, before the Almighty, I protest that it is neither hatred of thy person, nor love of thy riches, nor fear of thy power, which moves me to seek thy death; but only because thou hast been, and still remainest, an obstinate enemy to Christ Jesus and His holy Gospel." With that he plunged his sword repeatedly into the prelate's body, and laid him dead at his feet.

The death of Cardinal Beaton was at the same time the death-blow to the Church in Scotland. Though he was a man of corrupt moral life and of a persecuting disposition, he was one of the most able men of his time, and resisted the designs of Henry for the subjugation of his native country, with a vigour and perseverance which made Henry feel that whilst he lived Scotland was independent. The death of Beaton, so ardently desired, and so highly paid for by Henry, did not, however, bring him nearer to the reduction of the country, or the accomplishment of his son's marriage with the queen. On the contrary, so intense was the hatred of him and of England, which his tyrannic and detestable conduct had created in every rank and class of the Scottish people, that these objects were now farther off than ever. Henry's own embarrassments were, in consequence of his Scottish and French wars, become so intolerable, that he was compelled, as we have already seen (p. 198), to make peace with France in the month of June, by a treaty called the Treaty of Boulogne, and to agree to deliver up Boulogne, on condition that Francis paid up the arrears of his pension, and to submit a claim of 500,000 crowns upon him to arbitration. Francis took care to have Scotland included in the peace, and Henry bound himself not to interfere with it except on receiving some fresh provocation.




Henry was now drawing to a close of that life which might have been so splendid, and which he had made so horrible. To the last moment he was employed in base endeavours to elude the peace which he had submitted to with Scotland; in the struggles between the two great religious factions, and in still further shocking executions for treason and heresy. Henry himself was become in mind and person a most loathsome object. A life of vile pleasures, and furious and unrestrained passions, succeeded, as other appetites decayed, by a brutal habit of gormandising, had swollen him to an enormous size, and made his body one huge mass of corruption. The ulcer in his leg had become revoltingly offensive; his weight and helplessness were such that he could not pass through any ordinary door, nor be removed from one part of the house to another, except by the aid of machinery and by the help of numerous attendants. The constant irritation of his festering legs made his terrible temper still more terrible.

Of those about him, his queen, Catherine Parr, had the most miraculous escape. With wonderful patience, she had borne his whims, his rages, and his offensive person. She had shown an affectionate regard for his children, and had assisted with great wisdom in the progress of their education, living all the time as with a sword suspended over her head by a hair. She was devotedly attached to the Reformed principles, and loved to converse with sincere Protestants. She had made Miles Coverdale her almoner, and rendered him every assistance in his translation of the Bible. She employed the learned Nicholas Udal, Master of Eton, to edit the translations of Erasmus's "Paraphrases on the Four Gospels," which, according to Strype, she published at her own cost. Stimulated by her example, many ladies of rank pursued the study of the learned languages and of Scriptural knowledge.

Of this school, and one of Catherine's own pupils, was Lady Jane Grey; and another lovely and noble victim, Anne Askew, whose turn it was to fall under the destroying hand of Henry VIII. at this moment, was highly esteemed and encouraged by her. She was tortured and then burnt (July 6, 1546) for denying the Real Presence, and it is said that the Chancellor Wriothesley assisted in the application of the rack in the hope of wringing a confession from her.

An attempt to involve the Queen in similar charges was a complete failure, and Henry never forgave Gardiner for this attempt to deprive him of his true wife and unrivalled nurse. Catherine is said to have treated these her deadly enemies with great magnanimity; but she seems to have become quite aware that Gardiner's was the daring hand that was lifted to ruin her with the king, and it was probably this clear understanding between the king and queen which destroyed Gardiner's influence with Henry for ever. Henry struck Gardiner's name out of the list of his council, and on perceiving him one day on the terrace at Windsor amongst the other courtiers, he turned fiercely on Wriothesley, and said, "Did I not command you that he should come no more amongst you?" "My Lord of Winchester," replied the chancellor, "has come to wait upon your highness with the offer of a benevolence from his clergy." That was a deeply politic stroke of Gardiner's; he knew that if anything could redeem the lost favour of Henry, it was a sacrifice to his avarice next to his vanity. Henry took the money, but turned away from the bishop without a word or a look, and immediately struck his name from amongst his executors, as well as that of Thirlby, Bishop of Westminster, who, he said, was schooled by Gardiner. A deadly feud had grown up between the house of Seymour and the house of Howard. The house of Howard was old, and proud, not only of its ancient lineage, but of its grand deeds. The glory of Flodden lay like a great splendour on their name. Two queens had been selected from this house during the present reign, and the Princess Elizabeth was a partaker of its blood. The Seymours, on the other hand, were of no great lineage; but the two heads of it, Sir Thomas Seymour and Edward, who had been created Earl of Hertford, and whom we have seen executing the king's sanguinary pleasure more[203] than once in Scotland, were the uncles to the heir-apparent, Prince Edward. They had been lifted into greatness entirely through the marriage of their sister with Henry and the birth of the prince; they had no natural connection, therefore, amongst the old nobility, and were regarded by them with jealousy as fortunate upstarts. But there was a circumstance which gave them power besides the alliance with the Crown and the heir to it, and this was the Protestant faith which they held, and which, therefore, bound the Protestant party in England to their cause, and in hope, through their nephew, the future king. The Howards, on the other hand, held by the ancient faith, and were among its most positive assertors. Thus the feud between these rival houses was not only the feud of the old and new aristocracy, but that of the old and new faith; and the rival factions looked up to them as their natural lords and leaders.

The question, therefore, which of these families should become the guardians and ministers of the new king was every day acquiring a more intense interest. The Howards, from their old standing, and their great employments under the Crown, naturally regarded themselves as entitled to that distinction, and in this view they were, of course, supported by the whole Papist party most anxiously. But the Seymours, as the uncles of the prince, were equally bent on securing the preference. They had little connection, as we have stated, amongst the aristocracy, but had the whole Protestant party in their interest. They therefore regarded the Howards with the deepest jealousy and alarm, and they lost no time or opportunity in securing their ruin during the present king's life. There were many things which they could so bring before Henry's mind as to excite his most deadly fear. The Howards were the determined supporters of the Roman faith. What chance, therefore, was there under them of the preservation of the supremacy? What chance was there that they would leave the young king to his own unbiassed choice in matters of religion and of Church government? But still more, the Howards had not escaped his secret dislike through the conduct of Catherine Howard, the queen. A little thing could stimulate this dislike into something fearful. Again, the Duke of Norfolk was rich, and never were the riches of a subject overlooked or unlonged for by Henry Tudor. All these motives were brought successfully into play. Bishop Gardiner was the man most to be feared in the Howard interest, as it regarded the Church, and this had, unquestionably, much to do with his disgrace and banishment from Court.

A few days after that event, namely, on the 12th of December, the Duke of Norfolk and his son the Earl of Surrey, were, unknown to each other, arrested on a charge of high treason, and sent to the Tower, the one by water and the other by land. Surrey had never forgiven the Earl of Hertford for having superseded him in command of the army at Boulogne; he had in his irritation spoken with biting contempt of the parvenu Seymour, and declared that after the king's death he would take his revenge. But Henry was soon persuaded that the designs of Surrey went further. His fears, in his morbid and sinking state, were easily excited, and he was made to believe that there was a conspiracy of the Howards to seize the reins of government during his illness, and make themselves masters of the person of the prince. Surrey, with all the rash and lofty spirit of the poet, denied every charge of disloyalty or treason with the utmost vehemence, and offered to fight his accuser in his shirt.

The Duke of Norfolk wrote to the king from the Tower, expressing his astonishment at the sudden arrest, and saying, "Sir, God doth know that in all my life I never thought one untrue thought against you, or your succession; nor can no more judge nor cast in my mind what should be laid to my charge, than the child that was born this night." The only thing which he thought his enemies might bring against him was for "being quick against such as had been accused for sacramentaries," that is, Protestants. He prayed earnestly to have a fair hearing before the king or his council, face to face with his accusers. His gifted son, one of the finest poets of the age, and whose fame still makes part of England's glory, was brought to trial first, for he was young and full of talent, and, therefore, more dreaded than his father. On the 13th of December he was arraigned for treason in Guildhall, before the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Mayor, and other Commissioners, and a jury of commoners, and beheaded on the 19th of January. The Seymours pursued Norfolk with relentless ferocity. The king was rapidly sinking, there was no time to lose; a bill of attainder was passed through the Peers on the 26th of January, 1547; on the 27th the Royal assent was given in due form, and an order was despatched to the Tower to execute the Duke at an early hour next morning. Before that morning the soul of the tyrant was called to its[204] dread account, and the life of the old nobleman was saved as by a miracle.

Henry VIII. was fifty-five years and seven months old at his death, and had reigned thirty-seven years, nine months, and six days. His will was dated December 30th, 1546. He was authorised by Act of Parliament to settle the succession by his will, and he now named his son Prince Edward, as his lawful successor, then, in default of heirs, the Princess Mary and her heirs; these failing, the Princess Elizabeth, and her heirs. After Elizabeth, was named the Lady Frances, the eldest daughter of his sister, the Queen of France, and her heirs; and such failing, the Lady Eleanor, the youngest daughter of the late Queen of France. On the failure of all these, then the succession was to be to his heirs-at-law; but no particular mention was made in the succession of his sister Margaret, Queen of Scotland, and of her issue.



Accession of Edward VI.—Hertford's Intrigues—He becomes Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector—War with Scotland—Battle of Pinkie—Reversal of Henry's Policy—Religious Reforms—Ambition of Lord Seymour of Sudeley—He marries Catherine Parr—His Arrest and Death—Popular Discontents—Rebellion in Devonshire and Cornwall—Ket's Rebellion in Norfolk—Warwick Suppresses it—Opposition to Somerset—His Rapacity—Fall of Somerset—Disgraceful Peace with France—Persecution of Romanists—Somerset's Efforts to regain Power—His Trial and Execution—New Treason Law—Northumberland's Schemes for Changing the Succession—Death of Edward.

The country was doomed once more to experience the inconveniences of a regal minority, to witness the struggles and manifold mischiefs of ambitious nobles, while the hand of the king was too feeble to keep them in restraint. The execution of Surrey, and the imprisonment and attainder of the great Duke of Norfolk, left the Seymours completely in the ascendant; and having recently risen into note and power, they very soon showed all the inflated ambition of such parvenus. The Earl of Hertford, as uncle of the king, was in reality the man now in possession of the chief power. The king was but a few months more than nine years of age. Henry, his father, acting on the discretion given him by an Act of Parliament of the twenty-eighth year of his reign, had by will settled the crown on Edward, and had appointed sixteen individuals as his executors, who should constitute also the Privy Council, and exercise the authority of the Crown till the young monarch was eighteen years of age. To enable these executors, or rather, to enable Hertford, to secure the person of the king, and take other measures for the establishment of their position, the death of Henry was kept secret for four days. Parliament, which was virtually dissolved by his death, met on the 29th of January, and proceeded to business as usual, so that any acts passed under these circumstances would have clearly become null. On the 31st Edward entered London amid the applause of the people.

On the day after his arrival at the Tower, that is, on February 1st, 1547, the greater part of the nobility and the prelates were summoned, and assembled there about three o'clock in the afternoon, in the presence-chamber, where they all successively knelt and kissed his majesty's hands, saying every one of them, "God save your grace!" Then Wriothesley, the Chancellor, produced Henry's will, and announced from it that sixteen persons were appointed to be his late majesty's executors, and to hold the office of governors of the present king and of the kingdom till he was eighteen years of age. To these were added twelve others, who were to aid them in any case of difficulty by their advice. Yet, although these formed a second council, it was totally destitute of any real authority and could only tender advice when asked.

The announcement of these names excited much animadversion and some censure. It was remarked that the greater part of them were new men; and the chief council consisted of those who had been about Henry in his last illness. But what next was disclosed was more extraordinary. The executors, when assembled in the Tower on the day of the young king's proclamation, declared that "they were resolved not only to stand to and maintain the last will and testament of their master, the late king, and every part and parcel of the same, to the uttermost of their powers, wits, and cunning, but also that every one of[205] them present should take a corporal oath upon a book, for the more assured and effectual accomplishment of the same." And now it was announced that the Privy Council, for the better despatch of business, had resolved to place the Earl of Hertford at their head. This was so directly in opposition to the will, which had invested every member of the council with equal power, that it was received with no little wonder. The fact was that Hertford—who, before the old king's death, had determined to seize the supreme power during the minority of his nephew—had secured a majority in the council, who, as we shall soon find, had their object to attain. Wriothesley was the only one who stood out. He assured them that such an act invalidated the whole will. But he argued in vain and, finding it useless, he gave way; and thus Hertford was now proclaimed Protector of the realm and guardian of the king's person, with the understood but empty condition, that he should attempt nothing which had not the assent of a majority of the council. His triumph was completed by the titles of Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of England.


Essex, that is Parr, brother of the late queen, became Marquis of Northampton; Lisle, Earl of Warwick; Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton; Sir Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, and Lord High Admiral; Rich became Baron Rich; Willoughby, Baron Willoughby; Sheffield, Baron Sheffield. Southampton was, however,[206] soon compelled to resign office on the charge of having illegally put the Great Seal in commission.

Having thus seized and secured the actual sovereign power in England, Somerset began to turn his attention to foreign affairs. Henry VIII. had left it as a strict injunction to his council to secure the marriage of the Queen of Scots with his son Edward. Somerset, therefore, addressed a letter to the Scottish nobility, calling upon them to complete an arrangement which he recommended as equally advantageous with that to which they were bound by oaths, promises, and seals. The Scots took little notice of this communication from the man who had carried the commands of the late king through their land with fire and sword. The castle of St. Andrews, which the murderers of Cardinal Beaton held out against Arran, had in the course of this summer been surrendered to a French force, and the conspirators were conveyed to France. Some of them were confined in fortresses on the coast of Brittany, and others, amongst whom was John Knox, were sent to work in the galleys, whence they were not released till 1550. By the month of August, Somerset was once more prepared to invade Scotland, and to force, if possible, the young queen from the hands of Arran and the queen-mother. The forces were reviewed, and on the 29th they commenced their march. On the 2nd of September they were at Berwick, where they found Lord Clinton with the fleet, and from that point the army marched along the shore, supported by the ships at sea. Somerset took Douglas Castle, the property of Sir George Douglas, without resistance. The castle being rifled, was then blown up with gunpowder, as were also the peels of Thornton and Anderwick. Passing by Dunbar and the castle of Tantallon, the army, on Friday, the 8th of September, sat down near Prestonpans, the fleet being stationed opposite the town of Musselburgh.

To meet this invasion, Arran had sent the Fiery Cross from clan to clan through the Highlands, and had ordered every Scot capable of bearing arms to meet at Musselburgh. The two armies now lay at Pinkie, not much more than a couple of miles from each other. On the 9th the Scottish horse were seen parading themselves boldly on the height which lay between the hosts, called Falside, or Fawside Brae. The two armies had the sea to the north, while Falside rose facing the west, and having on its summit a castellated keep and a few huts.

Somerset and Warwick resolved to occupy the height on which stood St. Michael's Church, and for this purpose, early on the morning of the 10th, long called "Black Saturday" in Scotland, they advanced upon it about eight o'clock. But the Scots had also concluded to advance, and on the English approaching the first height, they were astonished to find that the Scots had quitted their strong position beyond the river, and were occupying the ground they had intended for themselves. It seems that the Scots had somehow got the idea that the English meant to retreat and escape them, and to prevent this they determined to surprise them in their camp, and were on the way for this purpose. At the sight of the English, the Scots pushed forward impetuously, hoping to get possession of Fawside Brae, but they were checked by a sharp discharge of artillery from the admiral's galley, which mowed down about thirty of them, as they defiled over the bridge near the sea. Seeing the English posted on the height with several pieces of artillery, the Scots halted in a fallow field, having in their front a deep ditch. The English, however, reckless of this obstacle, dashed on and, with Lord Grey at their head, made their way up to them. Standing in an almost impenetrable mass, the Scots kept crying, "Come here, loons! come here, tykes! come here, heretics!" and the like, and the English charging upon them, seemed for a moment to have disconcerted them, but soon were fain to turn and retreat. The flight became general, and the Scots rushing on expected to reap an easy victory. Lord Grey himself was severely wounded in the mouth, and the Scottish soldiers pressing on seized the Royal standard, when a desperate struggle ensued and, the staff of the standard being broken, part of it remained in the hands of the enemy, but the standard itself was rescued.

The fight now became general and fierce, and there was a hand-to-hand contest in which many fell on both sides; but the English commanders were men proved in many a great battle, and exerted themselves to restore order amongst their troops. Warwick was seen everywhere encouraging, ordering, and ranking his men afresh; while the artillery from the height, directed over the heads of their own regiments, mowed down the assailing Scots. The ardour of the soldiers restored, advantage was taken of the position of a large body of the enemy who in their impetuosity had rushed forward beyond the support of the main army. They were surrounded and attacked on all sides. Confounded by this unexpected occurrence, the Scots were[207] thrown into confusion, and began to take to flight. Arran himself soon put spurs to his horse; Angus followed, and the Highland clans—who had never been engaged—fled en masse. The rout was general and the slaughter terrible, some making for Leith, some direct for Edinburgh, by fields or woods as they could, and others endeavoured to cross the marsh and reach Dalkeith.

Now was the time to push the object for which this expedition had been undertaken—the securing the young queen for the king. Somerset had attained a commanding position. He held the capital, as it were, under his hand, and fresh forces brought up, and judiciously employed, must have put the country so far into his power as to enable him to treat on the most advantageous terms for the accomplishment of this great national object; or if he could not obtain it by treaty, he might make himself master of her person by arms. But all this demonstration, this signal victory, this sanguinary butchery, which must add finally to the antipathy of the Scottish people if no real gain followed it, was cast aside with a strange recklessness which shewed that though Somerset could conquer in the field, he was totally destitute of the qualities of a statesman. Instead of making his success the platform of wise negotiation, and of a great national union, he converted it into a fresh aggravation of the ill-will of the Scots, by depriving it of all rational result. Being, it is supposed, apprised of some machinations of his brother, the admiral, in his absence, he commenced an instant march homeward, like a man that was beaten rather than a victor. On the 17th of September, only a week from the battle of Pinkie, he took his departure southwards. On entering England, he made the best of his way to London, the whole term of his absence having been only some six weeks. A Parliament was then summoned, and the Protector proceeded to carry out the contemplated reform in the Church. Already an ecclesiastical commission had been busily engaged in visitation of dioceses. For this purpose, the kingdom was divided into six circuits, to each of which was appointed a certain number of visitors, partly laymen partly clergymen, who, the moment they arrived in a diocese, became the only ecclesiastical authority there. They were empowered to call before them the bishop, the clergy, and five, six, or eight of the principal inhabitants of each parish, and put into their hands a body of royal injunctions, seven-and-thirty in number. These injunctions regarded religious doctrines and practice, and the visitors required an answer upon oath to every question which they chose to put concerning them. The injunctions were similar to those which had been framed and used by Cromwell, but the present practice of joining the laity with the clergy was an innovation of a more sweeping character. The commission promptly imprisoned Bonner and Gardiner, the leaders of the Roman Catholic party.

Parliament assembled on the 4th of November, and proceeded to mitigate some of the severities of the last reign. It repealed those monstrous acts of Henry VIII., which gave to Royal proclamations all the force of Acts of Parliament; likewise all the penal statutes against the Lollards, and all the new felonies created in the last reign, including the statute of the Six Articles. It admitted the laity as well as the clergy to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in both kinds. It determined that the old fiction of electing bishops by "congé d'élire" should cease, and that all such appointments should proceed directly by nomination of the Crown; that all processes in the episcopal courts should be carried on in the king's name, and all documents issuing thence should be sealed, not with the bishop's seal, but with that of the Crown. The claim of spiritual supremacy was placed on the same level as the other rights of the Crown, and it was made a capital offence to deny that the king was supreme head of the Church; but with this distinction, that what was printed of that nature was direct high treason—what was merely spoken only became so by repetition. A bill for legalising the marriages of the clergy was brought into the Commons, and carried by a large majority; but, from some cause, was not carried to the Lords during the present session.

Parliament terminated its sitting on the 24th of December, and the council, carrying forward its measures for the advancement of the Reformation, issued an order prohibiting the burning of candles on Candlemas-Day, and the use of ashes on Ash Wednesday, and of palms on Palm Sunday. The order against images was repeated, and the clothes covering them were directed to be given to the poor. The people, however, who delighted in religious ceremonies, processions, and spectacles, and thought the sermons very dull, were by no means pleased with these innovations. There was to be no elevation of the Host, and the whole service was to be in English.

Cranmer employed himself in composing a catechism, which was published "for the singular profit[208] and instruction of children and young people;" and a committee of bishops and divines sat to compile a new liturgy for the use of the English Church. They took the Latin missals and breviaries for the groundwork, omitting whatever they deemed superfluous or superstitious, and adding fresh matter. Before Christmas they had compiled a book of common prayer, differing in various particulars from the one now in use, and all ministers were ordered to make use of that book, under penalty, on refusal, of forfeiture of a year's income, and six months' imprisonment for the first offence; for the second, loss of all preferments, with twelve months' imprisonment; and for the third, imprisonment for life. Any one taking upon him to preach, except in his own house, without licence from the king's visitors, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the bishop of the diocese, was liable to imprisonment. Latimer, who had resigned his bishopric in 1539, was now called forward again, and appointed to preach at St. Paul's Cross, and also in the king's privy garden, where Edward, attended by his court, used to listen to his bold and quaint eloquence for an hour together.

Towards the close of 1547, as we have seen, a bill passed the Commons authorising the marriage of the clergy, but on the 9th of February, 1548, a different bill for the same object was carried in the House of Lords, and accepted by the Commons.

While these events had been taking place in England, the war had been steadily prosecuted against Scotland, and led to the result which might naturally be expected, but which was least expected by the Protector—that of the passing of the young queen of Scotland into the hands of the French. Very soon after the battle of Pinkie, a council was summoned at Stirling, where the queen-dowager proposed that, to put an end to those barbarous inroads of the English on pretence of seeking the hand of the queen, they should apply to France for its assistance; that as a means of engaging it in effectual aid, they should offer the young queen in marriage to the Dauphin; and that for her better security she should be educated in the French court. There, in August, 1548, she was solemnly contracted to the Dauphin, afterwards Francis II.

But during the session of Parliament commencing on the 24th of November, a question of most serious import was brought forward concerning the Protector's brother. The lord high admiral, Thomas Seymour, had all the ambition of his elder brother, the Protector, but from some cause he had failed to acquire the same position at court. Henry VIII. had not only employed Somerset in great commissions, but had given him such marks of his confidence that, on his death, he easily engrossed all the power of the State under his son. The admiral did not witness this with indifference. The Protector, to satisfy him, got him created Baron Seymour of Sudeley, and with this title he received in August, 1548, the lordship of Sudeley in Gloucestershire, together with other lands and tenements in no less than eighteen counties. He made him, moreover, high admiral, a post which had been held by the Earl of Warwick, who received instead of it that of lord great chamberlain. These honours and estates might have well contented a man of even high ambition, but the aspiring of the Seymours brooked no limits. As he did not seem to succeed in his desire of rising to a station as lofty as that of his brother the Protector, through the Council and political alliance, he sought to achieve this by means of marriage. There were several ladies on whom he cast his eyes for this purpose. The Princesses Mary and Elizabeth were the next in succession, and he did not hesitate to aim at securing the hand of one of them, which would have realised his soaring wishes, or plunged him down at once to destruction. He seems then to have weighed the chances which a union with Lady Jane Grey might give him; but, as if not satisfied with the prospect, he suddenly determined on the queen-dowager. He had, indeed, paid his addresses to Catherine Parr before her marriage with Henry VIII., and Catherine was so much attached to him that she at first listened with obvious reluctance to Henry's proposal. No sooner was Henry dead than Seymour seems to have renewed his addresses to Catherine, and, with all her piety and prudence, the queen-dowager seems to have listened to him as promptly and readily. Though Henry only died at the end of January, 1547, in a single month, according to Leti, she had consented to a private contract of marriage, and she and Seymour had exchanged rings of betrothal. According to King Edward's journal, their marriage took place in May, but the courtship had been going on long before, and was only revealed to him when it was become dangerous to conceal it any longer, and they were privately married long before that. The marriage was publicly announced in June—a rapidity for such a transaction as strange as it was indecorous. Catherine Parr gave birth to a daughter on the 30th of August, 1548, and on the 7th of September, only eight days after, she died of puerperal[209] fever. Rumours that her husband had poisoned her to enable him to aspire to the hand of the Princess Elizabeth, were spread by his enemies, but there does not appear the slightest foundation for the horrible charge.


The lord admiral, who had found it difficult to keep out of danger during the life of his wife, partly through his own rash ambition, and partly through the malice of his near relatives, soon fell into it after her death. In July of 1548, he had been called before the Council on the charge of having endeavoured to prevail on the king to write a letter, complaining of the arbitrary conduct of the Protector and of the restraint in which he was kept by him. Seymour was seeking, in fact, to supersede the Protector, and was threatened with imprisonment in the Tower; but the matter for that time was made up, and the Protector added £800 per annum to his income, by way of conciliating him.

But with Catherine departed his good genius. He gave a free play to his ambitious desires, and renewed his endeavours to compass a clandestine marriage with the Princess Elizabeth, as he had done with Catherine. Finding, however, that such a marriage would annul the claims of Elizabeth to the throne, he next devised means to extort from the Council a consent, which he was well aware it would never yield voluntarily. For this purpose he is said to have courted the friendship of the discontented section of the nobility, and made such a display of his wealth and retainers as was calculated to alarm the Protector and his party. The Protector now resolved to get rid of so dangerous an enemy, though he was his own brother. Sharrington, master of the mint at Bristol being accused of gross peculation by clipping the coin, issuing testoons, or shilling pieces, of a false value, and making fraudulent entries in his books, was boldly defended by the admiral, who owed him £3,000. But Sharrington, to save his life, ungratefully betrayed that of his advocate. He confessed that he had promised to coin money for the admiral, who could reckon on the services of 10,000 men, with whose aid he meant to carry off the king and change the government. This charge, made, no doubt, solely to save his own life, was enough for Somerset. Seymour was arrested on the 16th of January, 1549, on a charge of high treason, and committed to the Tower.

There was no lack of charges against him, true or false. It was stated that he had resolved to seize the king's person, and carry him to his castle of Holt, in Denbighshire, which had come to him in one of the royal grants; that he had confederated for this purpose with various noblemen and others, and had laid in large stores of provisions and a mass of money at that castle. He was also charged with having abused his authority as lord admiral, and encouraged piracy and smuggling, and with having circulated reports against the Lord Protector and Council too vile to be repeated. But the most remarkable were the charges against him of endeavouring, both before and after his marriage with the queen-dowager, to[210] compass a marriage with the king's sister, the Lady Elizabeth, second inheritor to the Crown, to the peril of the king's person and danger to the throne. A Bill of Attainder was brought in against him; he was condemned without a hearing and executed on the 27th of March.

The Protector no sooner had put his brother out of his path into a bloody grave, than he was called upon to contend with a whole host of enemies. A variety of causes had reduced the common people to a condition of deep distress and discontent. The depreciation of the coinage by Henry VIII. had produced its certain consequence—the proportionate advance of the price of all purchasable articles. But with the rise in price of food and clothing, there had been no rise in the price of labour. The dissolution of the monasteries had thrown a vast number of people on the public without any resource. Besides the large number of monks and nuns who, instead of affording alms, were now obliged to seek a subsistence of some kind, the hundreds of thousands who had received daily assistance at the doors of convents and monasteries were obliged to beg, work, or starve. But the new proprietors who had obtained the abbey and chantry lands, found wool so much in demand, that instead of cultivating the land, and thus at once employing the people and growing corn for them, they threw their fields out of tillage, and made great enclosures where their profitable flocks could range without even the superintendence of a shepherd.

The people thus driven to starvation were still more exasperated by the change in the religion of the country, by the destruction of their images, and the desecration of the shrines of their saints. Their whole public life had been changed by the change of their religion. Their oldest and most sacred associations were broken. Their pageants, their processions, their pilgrimages were all rudely swept away as superstitious rubbish; their gay holidays had become a gloomy blank. What their fathers and their pastors had taught them as peculiarly holy and essential to their spiritual well-being, their rulers had now pronounced to be damnable doctrines and the delusions of priest-craft; and whilst smarting under this abrupt privation of their bodily and spiritual support, they beheld the new lords of the ancient church lands greedily cutting off not only the old streams of benevolence, but the means of livelihood by labour, and showing not the slightest regard for their sufferings. The priests, the monks, the remaining heads of the Papist party did not fail to point assiduously at all these things, and to fan the fires of the popular discontent.

The timidity of the Protector forced the ferment to a climax by the very means which he resorted to in order to mitigate it. He ordered all the new enclosures to be thrown open by a certain day. The people rejoiced at this, believing that now they had the Government on their side. But they waited in vain to see the Protector's order obeyed. The Royal proclamation fully bore out the complaints of the populace. It declared that many villages, in which from one hundred to two hundred people had lived, were entirely destroyed; that one shepherd now dwelt where numerous industrious families dwelt before; and that the realm was injured by turning arable land into pasture, and letting houses and families decay and lie waste. Hales, the commissioner, stated that the laws which forbade any one to keep more than 2,000 sheep, and which commanded the owners of church lands to keep household on the same, were disobeyed, the result being that numbers of the king's subjects had diminished. But though the Government admitted all this, it took no measures to make its proclamation effective; the landowners disregarded it, and the people, believing that they were only seconding the law, assembled in great numbers, chose their captains or leaders, broke down the enclosures, killed the deer in the parks, and began to spoil and waste, according to Holinshed, after the manner of an open rebellion. The day approached when the use of the old liturgy was to cease, and instead of the music, the spectacle, and all the imposing ceremonies of high Mass, they would be called on to listen to a plain sermon. Goaded to desperation by these grievances, the people rose in almost every part of the country.

In Wiltshire, Sir William Herbert raised a body of troops and dispersed the insurgents, killing some, and executing others according to martial law. The same was done in other quarters by the resident gentry. The Protector, alarmed, sent out commissioners to hear and decide all causes about enclosures, highways, and cottages. These commissioners were armed with great powers, the exercise of which produced as much dissatisfaction amongst the nobility and gentry as the enclosures had done amongst the people. The spirit of remonstrance entered into the very Council, and the Protector was checked in his proceedings; whereupon the people, not finding the redress they expected, again rose in rebellion.

In Devonshire the religious phase of the[211] movement appeared first, and rapidly assumed a very formidable air. The new liturgy was read for the first time in the church of Sampford Courtenay, on Whit Sunday, and the next day the people compelled the clergyman to perform the ancient service. Having once resisted the law, the insurgents rapidly spread. Humphrey Arundel, the governor of St. Michael's Mount, took the lead, and a few days brought ten thousand men to his standard. As the other risings had been easily dispersed, the Government were rather dilatory in dealing with this; but finding that it steadily increased, Lord Russell was despatched with a small force against the malcontents, accompanied by three preachers, Gregory, Reynolds, and Coverdale, who were licensed to preach in such public places as Lord Russell should appoint.

The rebels had sat down before Exeter when Russell came up with them; but conscious of the great inferiority of his force, and expecting no miracles from the eloquence of his preachers, he adopted the plan of the Duke of Norfolk in the late reign, and offered to negotiate. Upon this, Arundel and his adherents drew up and presented fifteen articles, which went, indeed, to restore everything of the old faith and ritual that had been taken away. The Statute of the Six Articles was to be put in force, the Mass to be in Latin, the Sacrament to be again hung up and worshipped, all such as refused it homage were to be treated as heretics, souls in purgatory should be prayed for, images again be set up, the Bible be called in, and Cardinal Pole was to be of the king's Council. Half of the Church lands were to be restored to two of the chief abbeys in each county; in a word, Popery was to be restored and Protestantism abolished.

All this time Lord Russell lay at Honiton, not venturing to attack, the Government sending him instead of troops only proclamations, by one of which a free pardon was offered to all who would submit; by another, the lands, goods, and chattels of the insurgents were given to any who chose to take them; by a third, punishment of death by martial law was ordered for all taken in arms; and by a fourth, the commissioners were commanded to break down all illegal enclosures. None of these produced the least effect. Lord Russell had sent Sir Peter Carew to urge the Protector and Council to expedite reinforcements; but the Protector and Rich charged Sir Peter with having been the original cause of the outbreak. The bold baronet resented this imputation so stoutly, and charged home the Protector in a style so unaccustomed in courts, with his own neglect, that men and money were promised. Nothing, however, but the proclamations just mentioned arrived, and at length the rebels despatched a force to dislodge Russell from his position at Honiton. To prevent this, he advanced to Feniton Bridge, where he encountered the rebel detachment and defeated it. Soon after Lord Grey arrived with 300 German and Italian infantry, with which assistance he marched on Exeter, and again defeated the rebels. They rallied on Clifton Downs, and Lord Grey coming suddenly upon them and fearing they might overpower him, he ordered his men to despatch all the prisoners they had in their hands, and a sanguinary slaughter took place. A third and last encounter at Bridgewater completed the reduction of the Rising of the West.

But the most formidable demonstration was made by the rebels in Norfolk. It commenced at Aldborough, and appeared at first too insignificant for notice. But the rumours of what had been done in Kent, where the new enclosures had been broken down, gradually infected the people far and wide. They did not trouble themselves about the religious questions, but they expressed a particular rancour against gentlemen, for their insatiable avarice and their grasping at all land, their extortionate rents, and oppressions of the people. They declared that it was high time that not only the enclosure mania should be put a stop to, but abundance of other evils should be reformed.

On the 6th of July, at Wymondham, a few miles from Norwich, on occasion of a play which was annually performed there, the people, stimulated by what was being done elsewhere, began to throw down the dykes, as they were called, or fences round enclosures, and they found a leader in one Robert Ket, a tanner. Under an oak tree, called the Tree of Reformation, which stood on Mousehold Hill, near Norwich, Ket erected his throne, and established courts of chancery, king's bench, and common pleas, as in Westminster Hall; and, with a liberality which shamed the Government of that and of most succeeding times, he allowed not only the orators of his own but of the opposite party to harangue them from this tree. Ket, it is clear, was a man far beyond his times, sincerely seeking the reform of abuses, and not destruction of the constituted authority. The tree was used as a rostrum, and all who had anything to say climbed into it. Into the tree mounted frequently Master Aldrich, the mayor of Norwich, and others, who used all[212] possible persuasions to the insurgents to desist from spoliation and disorderly courses. Clergymen of both persuasions preached to them from the oak, and Matthew Parker, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, one day ascended it, and addressed them in the plainest possible terms on the unwisdom of their attempt, and the ruin it was certain to bring upon them.


At length on the 31st of July, a Royal herald appeared in the camp, "and, standing before the Tree of Reformation, apparelled in his coat-of-arms, pronounced there, before all the multitude, with loud voice, a free pardon to all that would depart to their houses and, laying aside their armour, give over their traitorous enterprise." Some of the insurgents, who were already weary of the affair, and only wanted a good excuse for drawing off safely, took the offered pardon and disappeared; but Ket and the chief part of the people held their ground, saying they wanted no pardon, for they had done nothing but what was incumbent on true subjects.

Expecting that now some attack would soon be made upon them, they marched into Norwich to seize on all the artillery and ammunition they could, and carry it to their camp. The herald made another proclamation to them in the market-place, repeating the offer of pardon, but threatening death to all who did not immediately accept it. They bade him begone, for they wanted no such manner of mercy. From that day the number of Ket's followers grew again rapidly, for he seemed above the Government; and the herald returning to town, dissipated at Court any hope of the rebels dispersing of themselves. A troop of 1,500 horse, under the Marquis of Northampton, accompanied by a small force of mounted Italians, under Malatesta, were, therefore, sent down to Norwich, of which they took possession. But the next day Ket and his host descended from their hill, found their way into the city, engaged, defeated, and drove out the king's troops, killing Lord Sheffield and many gentlemen, and, their blood being up, set fire to the town, and plundered it as it burnt.

Northampton retreated ignominiously to town, where the Protector now saw that the affair was of a character that demanded vigorous suppression. An army of 8,000 men, 2,000 of whom[213] were Germans, under the Earl of Warwick, about to proceed against Scotland, was directed to march to Norwich and disperse the rebels. Warwick arriving, made an entrance, after some resistance, into the city. But there he was assailed on every side with such impetuosity, that he found it all that he could do to defend himself, being deficient in ammunition. On the 26th of August, however, arrived a reinforcement of 1,400 lansquenets, with store of powder and ball, and the next day he marched out, and the enemy having imprudently left their strong position on the hill, he attacked them in the valley of Dussingdale, and at the first charge broke their ranks. They fled, their leader, Ket, galloping off before them. They were pursued for three or four miles, and the troopers cut them down all the way with such ruthless vengeance, that 3,500 of them were said to have perished. The rest, however, managed to surround themselves by a line of waggons, and, hastily forming a rampart of a trench and a bank fortified with stakes, resolved to stand their ground. Warwick, perceiving the strength of the place, and apprehensive of a great slaughter of his men, offered them a pardon; but they replied that they did not trust to the offer; they knew the fate that awaited them, and they preferred to die with arms in their hands rather than on the gallows. Warwick renewed his offer, and went himself to assure them of his sincerity, on which they laid down their arms, or retired with them in their hands. Ket alone was hanged on the walls of Norwich Castle, his brother on the steeple of Wymondham Church, and nine of the ringleaders on the Oak of Reformation.


Circumstances were now fast environing the Protector with danger. The feebleness of his government, his total want of success, both in Scotland and France, with which country he had become involved in an undeclared war, emboldened his enemies, who had become numerous and determined from the arrogance of his manners and his endeavours to check the enclosures of the aristocracy. Henry VIII. had never drawn any signal advantages from his hostile expeditions; but the forces which he collected and the determined character of the man impressed his foreign foes with a dread of him. It was evident that the[214] neighbouring nations had learned Somerset's weakness, and therefore despised him. He had driven the Queen of Scots into the hands of the French, and they had driven him out of the country. He was on the very verge of losing Boulogne, which Henry had prided himself so much on conquering. At home the whole country had been thrown into a state of anarchy and insubordination by the reforms in religion, of which he was the avowed patron, and in the meantime he had allowed another to reap the honour of restoring order.

It was intended that the Protector himself should have proceeded against the rebels; but probably he thought that the man who had encouraged them to pull down the enclosures would appear with a very bad grace to punish them for doing it. Dudley, Earl of Warwick, was, therefore, selected for this office—a man quite as ambitious, quite as unprincipled, and far more daring than Somerset. He returned from Norfolk like a victor, and his reputation rose remarkably from that moment. He was looked up to as the able and successful man, and his ambitious views were warmly seconded by the wily old ex-Chancellor, Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, who hated Somerset for having dismissed him from office, and for having banished him from the Council. He now took up Warwick as a promising instrument for his revenge. He flattered him with the idea that he was the only man to restore the credit and peace of the nation.

Nor was it Warwick only whom Southampton stimulated to enmity against Somerset. He had arguments adapted to all; and where he found any seemingly resolved to stand by the Protector, he would significantly ask what friendship they hoped from a man who had murdered his own brother. Little art was needed to influence the old nobility against Somerset, and his hostility to the enclosures had raised up a host of enemies amongst the new, who should have been his natural friends. The people he had lost favour with, from his total want of success against the enemies of the country, and if there were any whom all these causes had not alienated, these were disgusted with his insolence and rapacity. He had bargained for large slices from the manors of bishoprics and cathedrals as the price of promotion to the clergy. He had obtained from the puppet king in his hands, grants of extensive Church lands for his services in Scotland, services which now were worse than null; and in the patent which invested him with these lands, drawn up under his own eye, he had himself styled "Duke of Somerset, by the grace of God," as if he were a king. He was accused of having sold many of the chantry lands to his friends at nominal prices, because he obtained a heavy premium upon the transaction; but what more than all shocked the public sense of religious decorum was that he had erected for himself a splendid palace in the Strand, where the one called from him Somerset House now stands, and had spared no outrage upon public rights and decencies in its erection. Not only private houses, but public buildings, and those of the most sacred character, had been displaced to make room for his proud mansion. To clear the ground for its site and to procure materials for its building, he pulled down three episcopal houses and two churches on the spot, St. Mary's and a church of St. John of Jerusalem, also a chapel, a cloister, and a charnel-house in St. Paul's Churchyard, and he carted away the remains of the dead by whole loads, and threw them into a pit in Bloomsbury. When he attempted to pull down St. Margaret's Church in Westminster, for the stones, the parishioners rose in tumult and drove his men away. Whatever profession of Reformed religion he might make, such proceedings as these stamped it as a pretence, hollow and even impious, in the minds of the public.

The feeling (which originated out of doors) had now made its way into the heart of the Council. Somerset's friends were silenced. His enemies spoke out boldly. During September there were great contentions in the Council; and by the beginning of October the two parties were ranged in hostile attitudes under their chiefs. Warwick and his followers met at Ely Place; the Protector was at Hampton Court, where he had the king. On the 5th of October, Somerset, in the king's name, sent the Secretary of the Council to know why the lords were assembling themselves in that manner, and commanding them, if they had anything to lay before him, to come before him peaceably and loyally. When this message was despatched, Somerset, fearful of the spirit in which this summons might be complied with, ordered the armour to be brought down out of the armoury at Hampton Court, sufficient for 500 men, to arm his followers, and had the doors barricaded, and people fetched in for the defence. But, instead of coming, Warwick and his party ordered the Lieutenant of the Tower, and the Lord Mayor and aldermen, to be summoned, who duly attended and proffered their obedience. They then despatched letters to the[215] nobility and gentry in different parts of the kingdom, informing them of their doings and the motives for them. Alarmed at the aspect of affairs, Somerset conveyed the king to Windsor, under escort of 500 men; Cranmer and Sir William Paget alone, of all the Council, accompanying them. Finding himself rapidly deserted by his friends, Somerset judiciously submitted and signed a confession of his guilt, his presumption, and incapacity. Having signed this, he was promised his life, on condition that he should forfeit all his appointments, his goods and chattels, and so much of his estates as amounted to £2,000 a year. A bill to this effect passed both Houses of Parliament in January, 1550. Somerset remonstrated against the extent of this forfeiture, but the Council replied to him with so much sternness that the abject-spirited man shrank in terror, and on the 2nd of February signed a still more ignominious submission, disclaiming all idea of justifying himself, and expressing his gratitude to the king and Council for sparing his life and being content with a fine. On the 6th of February he was discharged from the Tower, and ten days after received a formal pardon. His officers and servants, who had been imprisoned, also recovered their liberty, but were heavily fined.

Warwick had humbled Somerset, but he could not prevent the country from being humbled with him. His party had blamed the Protector for proposing to surrender Boulogne, but they were now compelled, by the exhausted and disordered state of the nation, to accept even more disgraceful terms. During the winter the French had cut off all communication between Boulogne and Calais, and the Earl of Huntingdon found himself unable to re-open it, though he led against the enemy all his bands of mercenaries and 3,000 English veterans. His treasury and his storehouses were empty, and the French calculated confidently on taking the place at spring. Unable to send the necessary aid, a fresh proposal was made to the Emperor to occupy it, and this not tempting him, the Council next offered to cede it to him in full sovereignty, on condition that it should never be surrendered to France. Charles declined, and as a last resource a Florentine merchant, Antonio Guidotti, was employed to make the French aware that England was not averse from a peace. The French embraced the offer, but under such circumstances they were not likely to be very modest in their terms of accommodation.

The conference between the ambassadors was opened on the 21st of January, and the English proposed that, as an equivalent for the surrender of Boulogne, Mary of Scotland should be contracted to Edward. To this the French bluntly replied that that was impossible, as Henry had already agreed to marry her to the Dauphin. The next proposition was that the arrears of money due from the Crown of France should be paid up, and the payment of the fixed pension continued. To this the ambassadors of Henry replied, in a very different tone to that which English monarchs had been accustomed to hear from those of France, that their king would never condescend to pay tribute to any foreign Crown; that Henry VIII. had been enabled by the necessities of France to extort a pension from Francis; and that they would now avail themselves of the present difficulties of England to compel Edward to renounce it. The English envoys appeared, on this bold declaration, highly indignant, and as if they would break off the conference; but every day they receded more and more from their pretensions, and they ended by subscribing, on the 24th of March, to all the demands of their opponents.

These conditions were that there should be peace and union between the two countries, not merely for the lives of the present monarchs, but to the end of time; that Boulogne should be surrendered to the King of France with all its stores and ordnance; and that, in return for the money expended on the fortifications, they should pay to Edward 200,000 crowns on the delivery of the place, and 200,000 more in five months. But the English were previously to surrender Douglas and Lauder to the Queen of Scots, or, if they were already in the hands of the Scots, to raze the fortresses of Eyemouth and Roxburgh to the ground. Scotland was to be comprehended in the treaty if the queen desired it, and Edward bound himself not to make war on Scotland unless some new provocation were given.

So disgraceful was this treaty, such a surrender was it of the nation's dignity, that the people regarded it as an eternal opprobrium to the country; and from that hour the boastful claims of England on the French Crown were no more heard of, except in the ridiculous retention of the title of King of France by our sovereigns.

Freed from the embarrassments of foreign politics, the Council now proceeded with the work of Church reform; and during 1550 and part of 1551 was busily engaged checking on the one hand the opposition of the Romanist clergy, and on the other the latitudinarian tendencies of the[216] Protestants. Bonner and Gardiner were the most considerable of the uncomplying prelates, and they were first brought under notice. Bonner had been called before the Council in August of 1549, for not complying with the requisitions of the Court in matters of religion; and in April, 1550, he was deprived of his see of London, and remanded to the Marshalsea, where he remained till the king's death. Ridley was appointed to the bishopric of London. Gardiner and Heath, Bishop of Worcester, were also imprisoned.

From the bishops, the reforming Council proceeded to higher game. The Princess Mary, the king's eldest sister, from the first had expressed her firm resolution of not adopting the new faith or ritual. She had, moreover, declared to Somerset, that during Edward's minority things ought to remain as the king her father had left them. Somerset replied that, on the contrary, he was only carrying out the plans which Henry had already settled in his own mind, but had not had time to complete. On the introduction of the new liturgy, she received in June, 1549, an intimation that she must conform to the provisions of the statute. Mary replied with spirit, that her conscience would not permit her to lay aside the practice of the religion that she believed in, and reminded the lords of the Council that they were bound by their oaths to maintain the Church as left by her father; adding, that they could not, with any decency, refuse liberty of worship to the daughter of the king who had raised them to what they were. The appeal to the liberality, the consciences, or the gratitude of these statesmen producing no effect, she next applied to a more influential person, the Emperor, Charles V., her great relative. He intervened on her behalf with such vigour that war between England and Germany seemed at one time inevitable, and the Council gave way. The persecutions were shortly afterwards renewed, but Mary remained firm, and finally was completely victorious.

The ungenerous conduct of the Warwick party towards Mary, and the disgraceful conditions of the peace with France, naturally caused a considerable revival of Somerset's influence at Court, and the remainder of the summer was spent by him in intriguing for the increase of his favour. He surrounded himself with a strong body of armed men; there were secret debates among his friends on the possibility of raising the City in his behalf, and he did not hesitate to drop hints that assassination only could free him from his implacable enemies. But whilst the irresolute Somerset plotted, Warwick acted. He secured for himself the appointment of warden of the Scottish marches, thus cutting off the danger which had lately appeared of Somerset's retreat thither. Armed with the preponderating influence which that office conferred in the northern districts, on the 27th of September or the 17th of October he was announced as Duke of Northumberland, a title venerated by the Border people, and which had been extinct since the attainder of Earl Percy in 1527. In this formidable position of power and dignity he was strengthened by his friends and partisans being at the same time elevated in the peerage. The Marquis of Dorset was created Duke of Suffolk, the Earl of Wiltshire, Marquis of Winchester, and Sir William Herbert, Baron of Cardiff and Earl of Pembroke. Cecil, Cheke, Sidney, and Nevil received the honour of knighthood.

This movement in favour of Warwick was followed by consequences of still more startling character to the Duke of Somerset. His enemies now felt safe, and on the 16th of October, 1551, the news flew through London that he was arrested on a charge of conspiracy and high treason, and committed to the Tower. He had been apprised that depositions of a serious character had been made against him by Sir Thomas Palmer, a partisan of Warwick's, whereupon he sent for Palmer, and strictly interrogated him, but on his positive denial, let him go. Not satisfied, however, he wrote to Cecil, telling him that he suspected something was in agitation against him. Cecil replied with his characteristic astuteness, that if he were innocent he could have nothing to fear; if he were guilty, he could only lament his misfortune. Piqued at this reply, he sent a letter of defiance, but took no means for the security of his person. Palmer, notwithstanding his denial, had, however, it seems, really lodged this charge against him on the 7th of the month with Warwick:—That in a conference with Somerset in April last, in his garden, the duke assured him that at the time that the solemn declaration of Sir William Herbert had prevented him from going northward, he had sent Lord Grey to raise their friends there; that after that he had formed the design of inviting Warwick, Northampton, and the chiefs of that party, and of assassinating them, either there, or on their return home; that at this very moment he was planning to raise an insurrection in London, to destroy his enemy, and to seize the direction of Government; that Sir Miles Partridge was to call out the apprentices of the City, kill the City guard, and get possession of the Great[217] Seal; and that Sir Thomas Arundel had secured the Tower, and Sir Ralph Vane had a force of 2,000 men ready to support them.

THE DUKE OF SOMERSET. After the Portrait by Holbein

THE DUKE OF SOMERSET. (After the Portrait by Holbein.)

Probably this was a mixture of some truth with a much larger portion of convenient falsehood. The duke was accordingly arrested, and the next day the duchess, with her favourites, Mr. and Mrs. Crane, Sir Miles Partridge, Sir Thomas Arundel, Sir Thomas Holcroft, Sir Michael Stanhope, and others of the duke's friends, were also arrested, and committed to the Tower. The king was already brought up from Hampton Court to Westminster for greater security and convenience during the trials of the conspirators. A message was sent in the king's name to the Lord Mayor and Corporation, informing them that the conspirators had agreed to seize the Tower, kill the guards of the City, seize the Great Seal, set fire to the town, and depart for the Isle of Wight; and they were, therefore, ordered to keep the gates well, and maintain a strong patrol in the streets.

The trial of the duke, such as it was, took place on the 1st of December, in Westminster Hall. Twenty-seven peers were summoned to sit as his judges, the Marquis of Winchester being appointed Lord High Steward, to preside. On that morning Somerset was brought from the Tower, with the axe borne before him; whilst a great number of men carrying bills, glaives, halberds, and poll-axes, guarded him. A new platform was raised in the hall, on which the lords, his judges, sat; and above them was the Lord High Steward, on a raised seat ascended by three steps, and over it a canopy of State. The judges consisted almost wholly of the duke's enemies, and conspicuous amongst them were Northumberland, Northampton,[218] and Pembroke. The witnesses against him were not produced, but merely their depositions read. Somerset denied the whole of the charges respecting his intention to raise the City of London, declaring that the idea of killing the City guard was worthy only of a madman. As to the accusation of proposing to assassinate the Duke of Northumberland and others, he admitted that he had thought of it, and even talked of it, but on mature consideration had abandoned it for ever.

On this confession the judges declared him guilty of felony without benefit of clergy. They were desirous to adjudge it treason, but this Northumberland himself overruled. When this sentence was pronounced, Somerset fell on his knees, and thanked the lords for the fair trial they had given him, and implored pardon from Northumberland, Northampton, and Pembroke, for his design against their lives, entreating them to pray the king's mercy to him and his grace towards his wife, his children, and his servants. On the sentence being pronounced only felony, the axe of the Tower was withdrawn; and the people, seeing him returning without that fatal instrument, imagined that he was acquitted, and gave such shouts, that they were heard from Charing Cross to the hall. According to Holinshed, the Duke of Somerset landed from the river "at the crane of the Vine-tree, and so passed through London, where were both acclamations—the one cried for joy that he was acquitted, the other cried that he was condemned."

Six weeks after his sentence, the warrant for his execution was signed. The chronicler quaintly remarks that "Christmas being thus passed and spent with much mirth and pastime, it was thought now good to proceed to the execution of the judgment against the Duke of Somerset." The day of execution was the 22nd of January, 1552. To prevent the vast concourse which, from the popularity of his character among the common people, from his opposition to enclosures during his Protectorship, was sure to take place, the Council had issued a precept to the Lord Mayor, commanding him to take all necessary measures for restraining the rush towards Tower Hill. The constables in every ward had, therefore, strictly charged every one not to leave their houses before ten o'clock that morning. But, by the very dawn, Tower Hill was one mass of heads, assembled more in expectation of the duke's reprieve than of his execution. At eight o'clock he was delivered to the sheriffs of London, who led him out to the scaffold on Tower Hill. He died calmly and nobly.

Parliament met the day after the execution of Somerset; and as it had been originally summoned by him, it appeared to act as inspired with a spirit which resented his treatment and his death; and this spirit tended greatly during this session to revive that ancient independence which Henry VIII. had so completely quelled during his life. Most deserving of notice was the enactment which ordered the churchwardens in every parish to collect contributions for the support of the poor. This, though it appeared at first sight a voluntary contribution under the sanction of Government, was in reality a compulsory one, for the bishop of the diocese had authority to proceed against such as refused to subscribe. From this germ grew the English poor-law, with all its machinery and consequences.

The Crown attempted to re-enact some of the most arbitrary and oppressive laws of Henry VIII., though they had been repealed in the first Parliament of this reign. A bill was sent to the Lords, making it treason to call the king, or any of his heirs, a heretic, schismatic, tyrant, or usurper. The Lords passed it without hesitation, for it most probably proceeded from Warwick, and the Lords were strongly devoted to him; but the Commons drew the same line which had been drawn regarding the deniers of the supremacy. They would admit the offence to be treason only when it was done by "writing, printing, carving, or graving," which indicated deliberate purpose; but what was spoken, as it might result from indiscretion or sudden passion, they decreed to be only a minor offence, punishable by fine or forfeiture, and only rendered treasonable by a third repetition. The Commons also added a most invaluable clause, the necessity of which had been constantly pressing on the public attention, and had just been strikingly demonstrated by the trial of Somerset. It was now enacted that no person should be arraigned, indicted, convicted, or attainted of any manner of treason unless on the oath of two lawful accusers, who should be brought before him at the time of his arraignment, and there should openly maintain their charges against him.

But in prosecuting the reforms of the Church, the Parliament proceeded with a far more arbitrary spirit. The Common Prayer Book underwent much revision, and an Act was passed by which the bishops were empowered to compel attendance on the amended form of service by spiritual censures, and the magistrates to punish corporally all who used any other. Any one daring to attend any other form of worship was liable to six[219] months' imprisonment for the first offence, twelve months for the second, and confinement for life for the third. So little did our Church reformers of that day understand of the rights of conscience. In the same spirit Cranmer proceeded to frame a collection of the articles of religion, and a code of ecclesiastical constitutions.

Parliament, proving too independent, was dissolved, and in preparing for a new Parliament, Northumberland took such measures as showed that his own power and aggrandisement were the first things in his thoughts, the Constitution of the kingdom the last. Letters were sent in the king's name to all the sheriffs, directing them, in the most straightforward manner, to abuse their powers in order to return a Parliament completely subservient to the Government.


The only object which the Duke of Northumberland had in view in calling the new Parliament together was to procure liberal supplies. The appropriation of the monastic and chartered lands had left the Crown nearly as poor as it had found it. Such portions of these lands as still remained in its possession were totally inadequate to meet the annual demands of the Government. Northumberland, therefore, asked for two-tenths and two-fifteenths; but even with his care to pack the Commons he found it no easy task to obtain supplies, and the friends of Somerset again assembled in considerable force in the House, resenting in strong terms the pretence thrown out in the preamble to the bill that it was owing to the extravagance and improvidence of the late Duke of Somerset, to his involving the country in needless wars, debasing the coin, and occasioning a terrible rebellion.

But the king's health was fast failing, and it was high time for Northumberland to make sure his position and fortune. The constitution of Edward had long betrayed symptoms of frailty. In the early spring of the past year he was successively attacked by measles and small-pox. In the autumn, through incautious exposure to cold, he was attacked by inflammation of the lungs, and so enfeebled was he become by the meeting of Parliament on the 1st of March, 1553, that he was obliged to receive the two Houses at his palace of Whitehall. He was greatly exhausted by the exertion, being evidently far gone in a consumption, and harassed with a troublesome cough.

Northumberland, from the day on which he rose into the ascendant at Court, had shown that he was the true son of the old licensed extortioner. He had laboured assiduously not only to surround himself by interested adherents, but to add estate to estate. He inherited a large property, the accumulations of oppression and crimes of the blackest dye. But during the three years in which he had enjoyed all but kingly power, he had been diligently at work creating a kingly demesne. He was become the Steward of the East Riding of Yorkshire, and likewise of all the Royal manors in the five northern counties. He had obtained Tynemouth and Alnwick in Northumberland, Barnard Castle in Durham, and immense estates in Warwick, Worcester, and Somerset shires. The more he saw the king fail, the more anxious he was to place his brother, his sons, his relatives, and most devoted partisans in places of honour and profit around him at Court. This done, he advanced to bolder measures, to which these were only the stepping-stones. Lady Jane Grey was the daughter of Frances, Duchess of Suffolk, whose mother was Mary, the sister of Henry VIII. Mary first married Louis XII. of France, by whom she had no children, and next, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, by whom she had two daughters. The younger of these married Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, but the elder, Frances, whose claim came first, had by the Marquis of Dorset (afterwards Duke of Suffolk) three daughters, Jane, Catherine, and Mary.

Northumberland, casting his eye over the descendants of Henry VIII., saw the only son, King Edward, dying, and the two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, bastardised by Acts of Parliament still unrepealed. A daring scheme seized his ambitious mind—a scheme to set aside these two princesses, the elder of whom, and immediate heir to the[220] throne, was especially dangerous to the permanence of the newly-established Protestantism. It was true that Margaret of Scotland, the sister of Henry VIII., was older than his sister Mary, and her grand-daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, would have taken precedence of the descendants of Mary, but she and her issue had been entirely passed over in the will of Henry. Leaving out, then, this line, and setting aside the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth as legally illegitimate, Lady Jane Grey would become heir to the throne. Northumberland resolved, therefore, to secure Lady Jane in marriage for his son Lord Guilford Dudley; to obtain Lady Jane's sister, Catherine, for Lord Herbert, son of the Earl of Pembroke, who owed title, estates, and everything to the favour of Northumberland; and to marry his own daughter Catherine to the eldest son of the Earl of Huntingdon. The marriages were celebrated at Durham House, the Duke of Northumberland's new residence in the Strand.



Northumberland's next step was to induce the king to bequeath the crown to Lady Jane. The dying prince listened with a mind which had long been under the influence of the more powerful will of Dudley, and saw nothing but the most patriotic objects in his recommendations. He no doubt considered it a great kingly duty to decide the succession by will as his father had done; and that the whole responsibility might rest on himself, and not on Northumberland, who had so much at stake, he was easily induced to sketch the form of his devise of the Crown with his own pen. In this rough draft he entailed the succession on "the Lady Frances's heirs masles," next on "Lady Jane's heirs masles," and then on the heirs male of her sisters. This, however, did not accord with the plans of Northumberland, for none of the ladies named had any heirs male; and, therefore, on the death of Edward, the Crown would have passed over the whole family, and would go to the next of kin. A slight alteration was accordingly made. The letter "s" at the end of "Jane's" was scored out, the words "and her" inserted, and thus the bequest stood "to the Lady Jane and her heirs masles." Northumberland then compelled the judges to draw out letters patent under the Great Seal confirming the disposition of the Crown.



But Northumberland, not satisfied with the will of the king and the act of the Crown lawyer, produced another document, to which he required the signatures of the members of the Council and of the legal advisers of the Crown, who pledged, to the number of four-and-twenty, their oaths and honour to support this arrangement. The legal instrument, being prepared, was engrossed on parchment, and was authenticated by the Great Seal. Northumberland was preparing to secure his position by force of arms, when the poor young king, whose mind had been overtaxed by his advisers, died on the 6th of July, 1553.





Proclamation of Lady Jane Grey—Mary's Resistance—Northumberland's Failure—Mary is Proclaimed—The Advice of Charles V.—Execution of Northumberland—Restoration of the Roman Church—Proposed Marriage with Philip of Spain—Consequent Risings throughout England—Wyatt's Rebellion—Execution of Lady Jane Grey—Imprisonment of Elizabeth—Marriage of Philip and Mary—England Accepts the Papal Absolution—Persecuting Statutes Re-enacted—Martyrdom of Rogers, Hooper, and Taylor—Di Castro's Sermon—Sickness of Mary—Trials of Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer—Martyrdom of Ridley and Latimer—Confession and Death of Cranmer—Departure of Philip—The Dudley Conspiracy—Return of Philip—War with France—Battle of St. Quentin—Loss of Calais—Death of Mary.

As Mary fled from the emissaries of Northumberland on the 7th of July, after learning the death of her brother, she arrived on the ensuing evening at Sawston Hall, near Cambridge, the seat of Mr. Huddlestone, a zealous Romanist, one of whose kinsmen was a gentleman of Mary's retinue. There she passed the night, but was compelled to resume her journey early in the morning, the Protestant party in Cambridge having heard of her arrival, and being on the march to attack her. She and her followers were obliged to make the best of their way thence in different disguises, and turning on the Gogmagog Hills to take a look at the hall, she saw it in flames: her night's sojourn had cost her entertainer the home of his ancestors. On seeing this, she exclaimed, as quite certain of her fortunes, "Well, let it burn, I will build him a better;" and she kept her word. She passed through Bury St. Edmunds, and the next night reached the seat of Kenninghall, in Norfolk. Thence without delay she despatched a messenger to the Privy Council, commanding them to desist from the treasonable scheme which she knew that they were attempting, and ordering them to proclaim her their rightful sovereign, in which case all that was past should be pardoned. The messenger[222] arrived just in time to see the rival queen proclaimed on the 10th, and to bring back a reply peculiarly insulting for its gross language, asserting her illegitimacy, and calling upon her to submit to her sovereign, Queen Jane.

Mary on this occasion displayed the strong spirit of the Tudor. Though Northumberland had all the powers of the Government, the military strength, the influence of party, and the support of the nobility of the nation apparently under his hand, and possessed the reputation of being an able and most successful general, and though she had nobody with her but Sir Thomas Warton, the steward of her household, Andrew Huddlestone, and her ladies; though she had neither troops nor money, Mary did not hesitate. Kenninghall was but a defenceless house in an open country; she, therefore, rode forward to Framlingham Castle, not far from the Suffolk coast, where, in a strong fortress, she could await the result of an appeal to her subjects and, were she forced to fly, could easily escape across to Holland, and put herself under the protection of her Imperial kinsman.

Once within the lofty walls of Framlingham, she commanded the standard of England to be cast loose to the winds, and caused herself to be proclaimed Queen-regnant of England and Ireland. The effect was soon seen. Sir Henry Jerningham and Sir Henry Bedingfeld had joined her with a few followers before she quitted Kenninghall, and had served her as a guard in her ride of twenty miles to Framlingham. Sir John Sulyard now arrived, and was appointed captain of her guard. He was speedily followed by the tenants of Sir Henry Bedingfeld, to the number of 140. By the influence of Sir Henry Jerningham, Yarmouth declared for her; and soon after flocked in, with more or less of followers, Lord Thomas Howard, a grandson of the old Duke of Norfolk; Sir William Drury; Sir Thomas Cornwallis, High Sheriff of Suffolk; Sir John Skelton; and Sir John Tyrrel. These were all zealous Papists; and the people of Norfolk and Suffolk hurried to her standard, impelled by the memory of Northumberland's sanguinary extinction of Ket's rebellion, the horrors of which still kept alive a deep detestation of the unprincipled duke in those counties. In a very short time Mary beheld herself surrounded by an army of 13,000 men, all serving without pay, but confidently calculating on the certain recompense which, as queen, she would soon be able to award them. Lord Derby rose for her in Cheshire, and Carew proclaimed her in Devonshire.

Northumberland saw that no time was to be lost. It was necessary that forces should be instantly despatched to check the growth of Mary's army, and to disperse it altogether. But who should command it? There was no one so proper as himself; but he suspected the fidelity of the Council, and was unwilling to remove himself to a distance from them; he therefore recommended the Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane, to the command of the expedition. The Council, who were anxious to get rid of Northumberland in order that they might themselves escape to Mary's camp, represented privately that Suffolk was a general of no reputation, that everything depended on decisive proceedings in the outset, and that he alone was the man for the purpose. They, moreover, so excited the fears of Lady Jane that she entreated in tears that her father might remain with her.

Northumberland consented, though with many misgivings. He equally distrusted the Council and the citizens. On the 13th of July he set out, urging on the Council at his departure fidelity to the trust reposed in them, and receiving from them the most earnest protestations of zeal and attachment. At every step some expectation was falsified, or some disastrous news met him. The promised reinforcements did not arrive, but he heard of them taking the way to the camp of Mary instead of to his own. He heard of the defection of the fleet; and lastly, a prostrating blow, of the Council having gone over to Queen Mary. Struck with dismay at this accumulation of evil tidings, he retreated from Bury St. Edmunds, which he had reached, to Cambridge, and there betrayed pitiable indecision.

Scarcely had he left London before the Council, whilst outwardly professing much activity for the interests of Queen Jane, set to work to terminate as soon as possible the perilous farce of her royalty. On the evening of Sunday, the 16th, the Lord Treasurer left the Tower, and made a visit to his own house, contrary to the positive order of Northumberland, who had strictly enjoined Suffolk to keep the whole Council within its walls. On the 19th the Lord Treasurer and Lord Privy Seal, the Earls of Arundel, Shrewsbury, and Pembroke, Sir Thomas Cheney, and Sir John Mason, left the Tower, on the plea that it was necessary to levy forces, and to receive the French ambassador, and that Baynard's Castle, the residence of the Earl of Pembroke, was a much more convenient place for these purposes. As they professed to be actuated by zeal for the cause of his daughter, Suffolk, a very weak person, was easily duped. No sooner had they reached Baynard's Castle than they unanimously declared for Queen Mary.


From the Painting by C. R. Leslie, R.A. In the possession of the Duke of Bedford.


Immediately after proclaiming the new queen, the Council sent to summon the Duke of Suffolk to surrender the Tower, which he did with all alacrity, and, proceeding to Baynard's Castle, signed the proclamations which the Council were issuing. Poor Lady Jane resigned her uneasy and unblessed crown of nine days with unfeigned joy, and the next morning returned to Sion House. This brief period of queenship, which had been thrust upon her against her own wishes and better judgment, had been embittered not only by her own sense of injustice towards her kinswoman, the Princess Mary, and by apprehension of the consequences to herself and all her friends, but still more by the harshness and insatiate ambition of her husband and his mother.

The Council despatched a letter to Northumberland by Richard Rose, the herald, commanding him to disband his army, and return to his allegiance to Queen Mary, under penalty of being declared a traitor. But before this reached him he had submitted himself, and in a manner the least heroic and dignified possible. On the Sunday he had induced Dr. Sandys, the vice-chancellor of the university, to preach a sermon against the title and religion of Mary. The very next day the news of the revolution at London arrived, and Northumberland, proceeding to the market-place, proclaimed the woman he had thus denounced, and flung up his cap as if in joy at the event, whilst the tears of grief and chagrin streamed down his face. Turning to Doctor Sandys, who was again with him, he said, "Queen Mary was a merciful woman, and that, doubtless, all would receive the benefit of her general pardon." But Sandys, who could not help despising him, bade him "not flatter himself with that; for if the queen were ever so inclined to pardon, those who ruled her would destroy him, whoever else were spared." Immediately after, Sir John Gates, one of his oldest and most obsequious instruments, arrested him, when he had his boots half-drawn on, so that he could not help himself; and, on the following morning, the Earl of Arundel, arriving with a body of troops, took possession of Northumberland, his captor, Gates, and Dr. Sandys, and sent them off to the Tower.

Mary dismissed her army, which had never exceeded 15,000, and which had had no occasion to draw a sword, before quitting Wanstead, except 3,000 horsemen in uniforms of green and white, red and white, and blue and white. These, too, she sent back before entering the City gate, thus showing her perfect confidence in the attachment of her capital. From that point her only guard was that of the City, which brought up the rear with bows and javelins. As Mary and her sister Elizabeth rode through the crowded streets, they were accompanied by a continuous roar of acclamation; and on entering the court of the Tower they beheld, kneeling on the green before St. Peter's Church, the State prisoners who had been detained there during the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. These were Courtenay, the son of the Marquis of Exeter, who was executed in 1538; the old Duke of Norfolk, still under sentence of death; and the Bishops of Durham and Winchester, Tunstall and Gardiner. Gardiner pronounced a congratulation on behalf of the others; and Mary, bursting into tears at the sight, called them to her, exclaiming, "Ye are all my prisoners!" raised them one by one, kissed them, and set them at liberty. To extend the joy of her safe establishment upon the throne of her ancestors, she ordered eighteen pence to be distributed to every poor householder in the City.

It was Mary's misfortune that she had been educated to place so much reliance on the wisdom and friendship of her great relative, the Emperor Charles V. He had been her champion, as he had been that of her mother. When pressed on the subject of her religion during the last reign, he had menaced the country with war if the freedom of her conscience were violated. It was natural, therefore, that she should now look to him for counsel, seeing that almost all those whom she was obliged to employ or to have around her had been her enemies during her brother's reign. Charles communicated his opinions through Simon Renard, his ambassador, who was to be the medium of their correspondence, and to advise her in matters not of sufficient importance to require the Emperor's judgment, or not allowing of sufficient time to obtain it. Renard was ordered to act warily, and to show himself little at Court, so as to avoid suspicion.

Charles advised her to make examples of the chief conspirators, and to punish the subordinates more mildly, so as to obtain a character of moderation. He insisted upon it as necessary, however, that Lady Jane Grey should be included in the list for capital punishment, and to this Mary would by no means consent. She replied that "she could not find in her heart or conscience to put her unfortunate kinswoman to death, who had not been an accomplice of Northumberland, but merely an unresisting instrument in his hands.[224] If there were any crime in being his daughter-in-law, even of that her cousin Jane was not guilty, for she had been legally contracted to another, and, therefore, her marriage with Lord Guilford Dudley was not valid. As to the danger existing from her pretensions, it was but imaginary, and every requisite precaution should be taken before she was set at liberty."


Mary's selection of prisoners was remarkably small considering the number in her hands, and the character of their offence against her. She contented herself with putting only seven of them on their trial—namely, Northumberland, his son the Earl of Warwick, the Marquis of Northampton, Sir John Gates, Sir Henry Gates, Sir Andrew Dudley, and Sir Thomas Palmer—his chief councillors and his associates. Northumberland submitted to the court whether a man could be guilty of treason who acted on the authority of Council, and under warrant of the Great Seal; or could they, who had been his chief advisers and accomplices during the whole time, sit as his judges? The Duke of Norfolk, who presided at the trial as High Steward, replied that the Council and Great Seal which he spoke of were those of a usurper, and, therefore, so far from availing him, only aggravated the offence, and that the lords in question could sit as his judges, because they were under no attainder.

Finding that his appeal had done him no service, Northumberland and his fellow-prisoners pleaded guilty. The duke prayed that his sentence might be commuted into decapitation, as became a peer of the realm, and he prayed the queen that she would be merciful to his children on account of their youth. He desired also that an able divine might be sent to him for the settling of his conscience, thereby intimating that he was at heart a Romanist, in hopes, no doubt, of winning upon the mind of the queen, for he was very anxious to save his life. He professed, too, that he was in possession of certain State secrets of vital importance to her Majesty, and entreated that two members of the Council might be sent to him to receive these matters from him. What his object was became manifest from the result, for Gardiner and another member of the Council being sent to him in consequence, he implored Gardiner passionately to intercede for his life. Gardiner gave him little hope, but promised to do what he could, and on returning to the queen so much moved her, that she was inclined to grant the request; but others of the Council wrote through Renard to the Emperor, who strenuously warned her, if she valued her safety, or the peace of her reign, not to listen to the arch-traitor. On Tuesday, the 22nd of August, Northumberland, Gates, and Palmer were brought from the Tower for execution on Tower Hill. Of the eleven condemned, only these three were executed—an instance of clemency, in so gross a conspiracy to deprive a sovereign of a throne, which is without parallel. When the Duke of Northumberland and Gates met on the scaffold, they each accused the other of being the author of the[225] treason. Northumberland charged the whole design on Gates and the Council; Gates laid it more truly on Northumberland and his high authority. They protested, however, that they entirely forgave each other, and Northumberland, stepping to the rail, made a speech, praying for a long and happy reign to the queen, and calling on the people to bear witness that he died in the true Catholic faith. Though he condemned it, he said, in his heart, ambition had led him to conform to the new faith, the adoption of which had filled both England and Germany with constant dissensions, troubles, and civil wars. After repeating the "Miserere," "De Profundis," and the "Paternoster," with some portion of another psalm, concluding with the words, "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit," he laid his head on the block, saying that he deserved a thousand deaths, and it was severed at a stroke. Gates and Palmer died professing much penitence.


The accession of Mary was a joyful event to the Papal Court. Julius III. appointed Cardinal Pole his legate to the queen; but Pole was by no means in haste, without obtaining further information, to fill this office in a country where the people, whose sturdy character he well knew, had to so great an extent imbibed the doctrines of the Reformation. Dandino, the Papal legate at Brussels, therefore despatched a gentleman of his suite to proceed to London and cautiously spy out the land. Before making himself known, this emissary, Gianfrancesco Commendone, went about London for some days gathering up all evidences of the public feeling on the question[226] of the Church. He then procured a private interview with Mary, and was delighted to hear from her own lips that she was fully resolved on reconciling her kingdom to the Papal See, and meant to obtain the repeal of all laws restricting the doctrines or discipline of the Roman Church; but that it required caution, and that no trace of any correspondence with Rome must come to light.

Mary was, however, inclined to go faster and farther than some of her advisers, and Gardiner, though so staunch a Papist, was too much of an Englishman to wish to see the supremacy restored to the Pontiff. But others were not so patriotic. Throughout the kingdom the Protestant preachers were silenced. The great bell at Christ Church, Oxford, was just recast, and the first use of it was to call the people to Mass. "That bell then rung," says Fuller, "the knell of Gospel truth in the city of Oxford, afterwards filled with Protestant tears."

Four days after her coronation, on October 1st, Mary opened her first Parliament; and she opened it in a manner which showed plainly what was to come. Both peers and commoners were called upon to attend her majesty at a solemn Mass of the Holy Ghost. This was an immediate test of what degree of compliance was to be expected in the attempt to return to the ancient order of things; and the success of the experiment was most encouraging. With the exception of Taylor Bishop of Lincoln, and Harley Bishop of Hereford, the whole Parliament—peers, prelates, and commoners—fell on their knees at the elevation of the Host, and participated with an air of devotion in that which in the last reign they had declared an abomination. But such was the zeal now for the lately abhorred Mass, that the two noncomplying bishops were thrust out of the queen's presence, and out of the abbey altogether. There were those who insinuated that the Emperor furnished Mary with funds to bribe her Parliament on this occasion; but, besides that Charles was not so lavish of his money, events soon showed that the Parliament, though so exceedingly pliant in the matter of religion, was stubborn enough regarding the estates obtained from the Church, and also concerning Mary's scheme of a Spanish marriage.

The first act of legislation was to restore the securities to life and property which had been granted in the twenty-fifth year of Edward III., and which had been so completely prostrated by the acts of Henry VIII. Such an Act had been passed at the commencement of the last reign, but had been again violated in the cases of the two Seymours. The Parliament, looking back on the sanguinary lawlessness of that monarch, did not think the country sufficiently safe from charges of constructive treason and felony without a fresh enactment. It next passed an Act annulling the divorce of Queen Catherine of Aragon, by Cranmer, and declaring the present queen legitimate. This Act indeed tacitly declared Elizabeth illegitimate, but there was no getting altogether out of the difficulties which the licentious proceedings of Henry VIII. had created, and it was deemed best to pass that point over in silence, leaving the queen to treat her sister as if born in genuine wedlock.

The next Act went to restore the Papal Church in England, stopping short, however, of the supremacy. This received no opposition in the House of Lords, but occasioned a debate of two days in the Commons. It passed, however, eventually without a division, and by it was swept away at once the whole system of Protestantism established by Cranmer during the reign of Edward VI. The Reformed liturgy, which the Parliament of that monarch had declared was framed by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, was now pronounced to be "a new thing, imagined and devised by a few of singular opinions." This abolished the marriages of priests and illegitimatised their children. From the 20th day of November divine worship was to be performed, and the sacraments were to be administered, as in the last year of Henry VIII. Thus were the tyrannic Six Articles restored, and all but the Papal supremacy. Even the discussion of the ritual and doctrines of Edward VI. became so warm, that the queen prorogued Parliament for three days. On calling the House of Commons together again, and proceeding with the Bill, no mention was made of the restoration of the Church property, though the queen was anxious to restore all that was in the hands of the Crown; for the Lords, and gentlemen even of the House of Commons, who were in possession of those lands, would have raised a far different opposition to that which was manifested regarding the State religion. No sooner were these Bills passed than the clergy met in Convocation, and passed decrees for the speedy enforcement of all the new regulations.

By permission, from the Painting in the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington

By permission, from the Painting in the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington.




The persecution of the Reformed clergy who had stood firm became vehement. The married clergy were called upon to abandon their wives, and there was a rush of the expelled priests again to fill their pulpits. In the cities there was considerable opposition, for there the people had read and reflected, but generally throughout the agricultural districts the change took place with the ease and rapidity of the scene-shifting at a theatre. Many of the married priests, however, would not abandon their wives and children, and were turned adrift into the highways, or were thrust into prison. Many fled abroad, hoping for more Christian treatment from the Reformed churches there, but in vain, for their doctrines did not accord with those of the foreign Reformers, who deemed them heretical.

About half the English bishops conformed; the rest were ejected from their sees, and several of them were imprisoned. Soon after Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley were sent to the Tower, Holgate, Archbishop of York, was sent thither also. Poynet, who was Bishop of Winchester during Gardiner's expulsion, was imprisoned for having married. Taylor of Lincoln and Harley of Hereford, for refusing to kneel on the elevation of the Host at the queen's coronation, and for other heresies, were committed to prison. On the 13th of October Cranmer was brought to trial in the Guildhall, on a charge of treason, with Lady Jane Grey, her husband Lord Guilford Dudley, and Lord Ambrose Dudley, his brother. They were all condemned to death as traitors, and a bill of attainder was passed through Parliament against them. Lady Jane's sentence was to be beheaded or burnt at the queen's pleasure, which was then the law of England in all cases where women committed high treason, or petty treason by the murder of their husbands. The fate of Lady Jane, who pleaded guilty, and exhibited the most mild and amiable demeanour on the occasion, excited deep sympathy, and crowds followed her as she was reconducted to the Tower, weeping and lamenting her hard fate. It was well understood, however, that the queen had no intention of carrying the sentence into effect against any of the prisoners; but she deemed it a means of keeping quiet her partisans to hold them in prison under sentence of death. She gave orders that they should receive every indulgence consistent with their security, and Lady Jane was permitted to walk in the queen's garden at the Tower, and even on Tower Hill.

The subject which created the greatest difficulty to this Parliament was that of the queen's marriage. The wily Renard suggested to Mary as a possible husband Philip the heir of Charles V., and she eagerly seized on the idea though she knew that it would be very unpopular. The first to remonstrate with Mary on the subject was Gardiner, her Chancellor, who boldly pointed out to her the repugnance of the nation to a Spanish marriage; that she would be the paramount authority if she married a subject, but that it would be difficult to maintain that rank with a Spanish king; that the arrogance of the Spanish had made them odious to all nations, and that this quality had shown itself conspicuously in Philip. He was greatly disliked by his own people, and it was not likely that he would be tolerated by the English; moreover, alliance with Spain meant perpetual war with France, which would never suffer the Netherlands to be annexed to the crown of England. The rest of Mary's Council took up the same strain, with the exception of the old Duke of Norfolk, and the Lords Arundel and Paget. The Protestant party out of doors were furious against the match, declaring that it would bring the Inquisition into the country, to rivet Popery upon it, and to make England the slave of taxation to the Spaniards. The Parliament took up the subject with equal hostility, and the Commons sent their Speaker to her, attended by a deputation of twenty members, praying her Majesty not to marry a foreigner.

Noailles, the French ambassador, was delighted with this movement, and took much credit to himself for inciting influential parties to it; but Mary believed it to originate with Gardiner, and the lion spirit of her father coming over her, she vowed that she would prove a match for the cunning of the Chancellor. That very night she sent for the Spanish ambassador, and bidding him follow her into her private oratory, she there knelt down before the altar, and after chanting the hymn, "Veni Creator Spiritus," she made a vow to God that she would marry Philip of Spain, and whilst she lived, no other man but him. Thus she put it out of her power, if she kept her vow, to marry any other person should she outlive Philip, showing the force of the paroxysm of determination which was upon her. The effort would seem to have been very violent, for immediately after she was taken ill, and continued so for some days.

It was on the last day of October that this curious circumstance took place, and on the 17th of November she sent for the House of Commons, when the Speaker read the address giving her their advice regarding her marriage. Instead of the Chancellor returning the answer, as was the custom, Mary replied herself, thanking them for[228] their care that she should have a succession in her own children, but rebuking them for presuming to dictate to her the choice of a husband. She declared that the marriages of her predecessors had always been free, a privilege which, she assured them, she was resolved to maintain. At the same time, she added, she should be careful to make such a selection as should contribute both to her own happiness and to that of her people.

The plain declaration of the queen to her Parliament was not necessary to inform those about her who were interested in the question; they had speedy information of her having favoured the Spanish suit, and Noailles was certainly mixed up in conspiracies to defeat it. It was proposed to place Courtenay, the young Earl of Devon, who had long been a prisoner in the Tower, at the head of the Reformed party, and if Mary would not consent to marry him, to assassinate Arundel and Paget, the advocates of the Spanish match; to marry Elizabeth to Courtenay, and raise the standard of rebellion in Devonshire. It appears from the despatches of Noailles that the Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane Grey, was in this conspiracy. But the folly and the unstable character of their hero, Courtenay, was fatal to their design, and of that Noailles very soon became sensible. It was suggested by some of the parties that Courtenay should steal away from Court, get across to France, and thence join the conspirators in Devonshire; but Noailles opposed this plan, declaring that the moment Courtenay quitted the coast of England his chance was utterly lost; and he wrote to his own government, saying that the scheme would fall to nothing; for although Courtenay and Elizabeth were fitting persons to cause a rising, such was the want of decision of Courtenay, he would let himself be taken before he would act—the thing which actually came to pass.

On the 2nd of January, 1554, a splendid embassy, sent by the Emperor, headed by the Counts Egmont and Lalain, the Lord of Courrieres, and the Sieur de Nigry, landed in Kent, to arrange the marriage between Mary and Philip. The unpopularity of this measure was immediately manifested, for the men of Kent, taking Egmont for Philip, rose in fury, and would have torn him to pieces if they could have got hold of him. Having, however, reached Westminster in safety, on the 14th of January, a numerous assembly of nobles, prelates, and courtiers was summoned to the queen's presence-chamber, where Gardiner, who had found it necessary to relinquish his opposition, stated to them the proposed conditions of the treaty. The greatest care was evidently taken to disarm the fears of the English, and nothing could appear more moderate than the terms of this alliance. Philip and Mary were to confer on each other the titles of their respective kingdoms, but each kingdom was still to be governed by its own laws and constitution. None but English subjects were to hold office in this country, not even in the king's private service. If the queen had an heir, it was to be her successor in her own dominions, and also in all Philip's dominions of Burgundy, Holland, and Flanders, which were for ever to become part and parcel of England. This certainly, on the face of it, was a most advantageous condition for England, but had it taken effect, it would undoubtedly have proved a most disastrous one, involving us perpetually in the wars and struggles of the Continent, and draining these islands to defend those foreign territories.

Another condition of the treaty was that Mary was not to be carried out of the kingdom except at her own request, nor any of her children, except by the consent of the peers. The Commons were totally ignored in the matter. Philip was not to entangle England in the Continental wars of his father, nor to appropriate any of the naval or military resources of this country, or the property or jewels of the Crown, to any foreign purposes. If there was no issue of the marriage, all the conditions of the treaty at once became void, and Philip ceased to be king even in name. If he died first, which was not very probable, Mary was to enjoy a dower of 60,000 ducats per annum, secured on lands in Spain and Flanders. No mention was made of any payment to Philip if he happened to be the survivor. But there was one little clause which stipulated that Philip should aid Mary in governing her kingdom—an ominous word, which might be made of vast significance.

Within five days came the startling news that three insurrections had broken out in different quarters of the kingdom. One was a-foot in the midland counties, where the Duke of Suffolk and the Grey family had property and influence. There the cry was for the Lady Jane. Mary had been completely deceived by the Duke of Suffolk, whom she had pardoned and liberated from the Tower. In return for her leniency he affected so hearty an approval of her marriage, that she instantly thought of him as t