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The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part B. - From Henry III. to Richard III.
by David Hume
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* W. Wyrcester, p. 508.

** W. Wyrcester, p. 511. Hall, fol. 200. Habington, p. 439. Holingshed, p. 671. Polyd. Virg. p. 515.

*** Grafton. p. 873.

While this cloud was gathering at home, Edward carried his views abroad, and endeavored to secure himself against his factious nobility, by entering into foreign alliances. The dark and dangerous ambition of Lewis XI., the more it was known, the greater alarm it excited among his neighbors and vassals; and as it was supported by great abilities, and unrestrained by any principle of faith or humanity, they found no security to themselves but by a jealous combination against him. Philip, duke of Burgundy, was now dead: his rich and extensive dominions were devolved to Charles, his only son, whose martial disposition acquired him the surname of Bold, and whose ambition, more outrageous than that of Lewis, but seconded by less power and policy, was regarded with a more favorable eye by the other potentates of Europe.

The opposition of interests, and still more a natural antipathy of character, produced a declared animosity between these bad princes; and Edward was thus secure of the sincere attachment of either of them, for whom he should choose to declare himself. The duke of Burgundy, being descended by his mother, a daughter of Portugal, from John of Gaunt, was naturally inclined to favor the house of Lancaster:[*] but this consideration was easily overbalanced by political motives; and Charles, perceiving the interests of that house to be extremely decayed in England, sent over his natural brother, commonly called the Bastard of Burgundy, to carry in his name proposals of marriage to Margaret, the king's sister.

{1468.} The alliance of Burgundy was more popular among the English than that of France; the commercial interests of the two nations invited the princes to a close union; their common jealousy of Lewis was a natural cement between them; and Edward, pleased with strengthening himself by so potent a confederate, soon concluded the alliance, and bestowed his sister upon Charles.[**] A league, which Edward at the same time concluded with the duke of Brittany, seemed both to increase his security, and to open to him the prospect of rivalling his predecessors in those foreign conquests, which, however short-lived and unprofitable, had rendered their reigns so popular and illustrious.[***]

* Comine's, liv. iii. chap. 4, 6.

** W. Wyrcester, p. 5. Parl. Hist. vol. ii. p. 332.

*** Hall, fol. 169, 197.

{1469.} But whatever ambitious schemes the king might have built on these alliances, they were soon frustrated by intestine commotions, which engrossed all his attention. These disorders probably arose not immediately from the intrigues of the earl of Warwick, but from accident, aided by the turbulent spirit of the age, by the general humor of discontent which that popular nobleman had instilled into the nation, and perhaps by some remains of attachment to the house of Lancaster. The hospital of St. Leonard's, near York, had received, from an ancient grant of King Athelstane, a right of levying a thrave of corn upon every plough-land in the county; and as these charitable establishments are liable to abuse, the country people complained, that the revenue of the hospital was no longer expended for the relief of the poor, but was secreted by the managers, and employed to their private purposes.

After long repining at the contribution, they refused payment: ecclesiastical and civil censures were issued against them, their goods were distrained, and their persons thrown into jail: till, as their ill humor daily increased, they rose in arms; fell upon the officers of the hospital, whom they put to the sword; and proceeded in a body, fifteen thousand strong, to the gates of York. Lord Montague, who commanded in those parts, opposed himself to their progress; and having been so fortunate in a skirmish as to seize Robert Hulderne, their leader, he ordered him immediately to be led to execution, according to the practice of the times. The rebels, however, still continued in arms; and being soon headed by men of greater distinction: Sir Henry Nevil, son of Lord Latimer, and Sir John Coniers, they advanced southwards, and began to appear formidable to government. Herbert, earl of Pembroke, who had received that title on the forfeiture of Jasper Tudor, was ordered by Edward to march against them at the head of a body of Welshmen; and he was joined by five thousand archers, under the command of Stafford, earl of Devonshire, who had succeeded in that title to the family of Courtney, which had also been attainted. But a trivial difference about quarters having begotten an animosity between these two noblemen, the earl of Devonshire retired with his archers, and left Pembroke alone to encounter the rebels. The two armies approached each other near Banbury; and Pembroke, having prevailed in a skirmish, and having taken Sir John Nevil prisoner, ordered him immediately to be put to death, without any form of process. This execution enraged without terrifying the rebels: they attacked the Welsh army, routed them, put them to the sword without mercy; and having seized Pembroke, they took immediate revenge upon him for the death of their leader. The king, imputing this misfortune to the earl of Devonshire, who had deserted Pembroke, ordered him to be executed in a like summary manner. But these speedy executions, or rather open murders, did not stop there: the northern rebels, sending a party to Grafton, seized the earl of Rivers and his son John; men who had become obnoxious by their near relation to the king, and his partiality towards them: and they were immediately executed by orders from Sir John Coniers.[*]

* Fabian, fol. 217.

There is no part of English history since the conquest so obscure, so uncertain, so little authentic or consistent, as that of the wars between the two "roses:" historians differ about many material circumstances; some events of the utmost consequence, in which they almost all agree, are incredible, and contradicted by records;[*] [19] and it is remarkable, that this profound darkness falls upon us just on the eve of the restoration of letters, and when the art of printing was already known in Europe. All we can distinguish with certainty through the deep cloud which covers that period, is a scene of horror and bloodshed: savage manners, arbitrary executions, and treacherous, dishonorable conduct in all parties. There is no possibility, for instance, of accounting for the views and intentions of the earl of Warwick at this time. It is agreed that he resided, together with his son-in-law, the duke of Clarence, in his government of Calais during the commencement of this rebellion; and that his brother Montague acted with vigor against the northern rebels. We may thence presume, that the insurrection had not proceeded from the secret counsels and instigation of Warwick; though the murder committed by the rebels on the earl of Rivers, his capital enemy, forms, on the other hand, a violent presumption against him. He and Clarence came over to England, offered their service to Edward, were received without any suspicion, were intrusted by him in the highest commands,[**] and still persevered in their fidelity. Soon after, we find the rebels quieted and dispersed by a general pardon granted by Edward from the advice of the earl of Warwick: but why so courageous a prince, if secure of Warwick's fidelity, should have granted a general pardon to men who had been guilty of such violent and personal outrages against him, is not intelligible; nor why that nobleman, if unfaithful, should have endeavored to appease a rebellion of which he was able to make such advantages. But it appears, that after this insurrection, there was an interval of peace, during which the king loaded the family of Nevil with honors and favors of the highest nature: he made Lord Montague a marquis, by the same name: he created his son George duke of Bedford;[***] he publicly declared his intention of marrying that young nobleman to his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, who, as he had yet no sons, was presumptive heir of the crown: yet we find that soon after, being invited to a feast by the archbishop of York, a younger brother of Warwick and Montague, he entertained a sudden suspicion that they intended to seize his person or to murder him: and he abruptly left the entertainment.[****]

* See note S, at the end of the volume.

** Rymer, vol. xi. p. 647, 649, 650.

*** Cotton, p. 702.

**** Fragm. Edward IV. ad fin. Sproti.

{1470.} Soon after, there broke out another rebellion, which is as unaccountable as all the preceding events; chiefly because no sufficient reason is assigned for it, and because, so far as appears, the family of Nevil had no hand in exciting and fomenting it. It arose in Lincolnshire, and was headed by Sir Robert Welles, son to the lord of that name. The army of the rebels amounted to thirty thousand men; but Lord Welles himself, far from giving countenance to them, fled into a sanctuary, in order to secure his person against the king's anger or suspicions. He was allured from this retreat by a promise of safety; and was soon after, notwithstanding this assurance, beheaded, along with Sir Thomas Dymoc, by orders from Edward.[*] The king fought a battle with the rebels, defeated them, took Sir Robert Welles and Sir Thomas Launde prisoners, and ordered them immediately to be beheaded.

Edward, during these transactions, had entertained so little jealousy of the earl of Warwick or duke of Clarence, that he sent them with commissions of array to levy forces against the rebels:[**] but these malecontents, as soon as they left the court, raised troops in their own name, issued declarations against the government, and complained of grievances, oppressions, and bad ministers. The unexpected defeat of Welles disconcerted all their measures; and they retired northwards into Lancashire, where they expected to be joined by Lord Stanley, who had married the earl of Warwick's sister. But as that nobleman refused all concurrence with them, and as Lord Montague also remained quiet in Yorkshire, they were obliged to disband their army, and to fly into Devonshire, where they embarked and made sail towards Calais.[***]

* Hall, fol. 204. Fabian, fol. 218. Habington, p. 442. Holingshed, p. 674.

** Rymer, vol. xi. p. 652.

*** The king offered, by proclamation, a reward of one thousand pounds, or one hundred pounds a year in land, to any that would seize them. Whence we may learn that land was at that time sold for about ten years' purchase. See Rymer, vol. xi. p. 654.

The deputy governor, whom Warwick had left at Calais, was one Vaucler, a Gascon, who, seeing the earl return in this miserable condition, refused him admittance; and would not so much as permit the duchess of Clarence to land, though, a few days before, she had been delivered on shipboard of a son, and was at that time extremely disordered by sickness. With difficulty he would allow a few flagons of wine to be carried to the ship for the use of the ladies: but as he was a man of sagacity, and well acquainted with the revolutions to which England was subject, he secretly apologized to Warwick for this appearance of infidelity, and represented it as proceeding entirely from zeal for his service. He said that the fortress was ill supplied with provisions; that he could not depend on the attachment of the garrison; that the inhabitants, who lived by the English commerce, would certainly declare for the established government; that the place was at present unable to resist the power of England on the one hand, and that of the duke of Burgundy on the other; and that, by seeming to declare for Edward, he would acquire the confidence of that prince, and still keep it in his power, when it should become safe and prudent, to restore Calais to its ancient master.[*] It is uncertain whether Warwick was satisfied with this apology, or suspected a double infidelity in Vaucler; but he feigned to be entirely convinced by him; and having seized some Flemish vessels which he found lying off Calais, he immediately made sail towards France.

The king of France, uneasy at the close conjunction between Edward and the duke of Burgundy, received with the greatest demonstrations of regard the unfortunate Warwick,[**] with whom he had formerly maintained a secret correspondence, and whom he hoped still to make his instrument in overturning the government of England, and reestablishing the house of Lancaster.

* Comines, liv. iii. chap. 4. Hall, fol. 205.

** Polyd. Virg. p. 519.

No animosity was ever greater than that which had long prevailed between that house and the earl of Warwick. His father had been executed by orders from Margaret: he himself had twice reduced Henry to captivity, had banished the queen, had put to death all their most zealous partisans either in the field or on the scaffold, and had occasioned innumerable ills to that unhappy family. For this reason, believing that such inveterate rancor could never admit of any cordial reconciliation, he had not mentioned Henry's name when he took arms against Edward; and he rather endeavored to prevail by means of his own adherents, than revive a party which he sincerely hated. But his present distresses and the entreaties of Lewis made him hearken to terms of accommodation; and Margaret being sent for from Angers, where she then resided, an agreement was, from common interest, soon concluded between them. It was stipulated, that Warwick should espouse the cause of Henry, and endeavor to restore him to liberty, and to reestablish him on the throne; that the administration of the government, during the minority of young Edward, Henry's son, should be intrusted conjointly to the earl of Warwick and the duke of Clarence; that Prince Edward should marry the Lady Anne, second daughter of that nobleman; and that the crown, in case of the failure of male issue in that prince, should descend to the duke of Clarence, to the entire exclusion of King Edward and his posterity. Never was confederacy, on all sides, less natural, or more evidently the work of necessity: but Warwick hoped, that all former passions of the Lancastrians might be lost in present political views; and that, at worst, the independent power of his family, and the affections of the people, would suffice to give him security, and enable him to exact the full performance of all the conditions agreed on. The marriage of Prince Edward with the Lady Anne was immediately celebrated in France.

Edward foresaw that it would be easy to dissolve an alliance composed of such discordant parts. For this purpose, he sent over a lady of great sagacity and address, who belonged to the train of the duchess of Clarence, and who, under color of attending her mistress, was empowered to negotiate with the duke, and to renew the connections of that prince with his own family.[*] She represented to Clarence, that he had unwarily, to his own ruin, become the instrument of Warwick's vengeance, and had thrown himself entirely in the power of his most inveterate enemies; that the mortal injuries which the one royal family had suffered from the other, were now past all forgiveness, and no imaginary union of interests could ever suffice to obliterate them; that even if the leaders were willing to forget past offences, the animosity of their adherents would prevent a sincere coalition of parties, and would, in spite of all temporary and verbal agreements, preserve an eternal opposition of measures between them; and that a prince who deserted his own kindred, and joined the murderers of his father, left himself single, without friends, without protection, and would not, when misfortunes inevitably fell upon him, be so much as entitled to any pity or regard from the rest of mankind.

* Comines, liv. iii. chap. 5. Hall, fol. 20*7. Holingshed, p. 676.

Clarence was only one and twenty years of age, and seems to have possessed but a slender capacity; yet could he easily see the force of these reasons; and, upon the promise of forgiveness from his brother, he secretly engaged, on a favorable opportunity, to desert the earl of Warwick, and abandon the Lancastrian party.

During this negotiation, Warwick was secretly carrying on a correspondence of the same nature with his brother, the marquis of Montague, who was entirely trusted by Edward; and like motives produced a like resolution in that nobleman. The marquis, also, that he might render the projected blow the more deadly and incurable, resolved, on his side, to watch a favorable opportunity for committing his perfidy, and still to maintain the appearance of being a zealous adherent to the house of York.

After these mutual snares were thus carefully laid, the decision of the quarrel advanced apace. Lewis prepared a fleet to escort the earl of Warwick, and granted him a supply of men and money.[*] The duke of Burgundy, on the other hand, enraged at that nobleman for his seizure of the Flemish vessels before Calais, and anxious to support the reigning family in England, with whom his own interests were now connected, fitted out a larger fleet, with which he guarded the Channel: and he incessantly warned his brother-in-law of the imminent perils to which he was exposed. But Edward, though always brave and often active, had little foresight or penetration. He was not sensible of his danger; he made no suitable preparations against the earl of Warwick;[**] he even said that the duke might spare himself the trouble of guarding the seas, and that he wished for nothing more than to see Warwick set foot on English ground.[***] A vain confidence in his own prowess, joined to the immoderate love of pleasure, had made him incapable of all sound reason and reflection.

The event soon happened, of which Edward seemed so desirous. A storm dispersed the Flemish navy, and left the sea open to Warwick.[****] That nobleman seized the opportunity, and setting sail, quickly landed at Dartmouth with the duke of Clarence, the earls of Oxford and Pembroke, and a small body of troops, while the king was in the north, engaged in suppressing an insurrection which had been raised by Lord Fitz-Hugh, brother-in-law to Warwick.

* Comines, liv. iii. chap. 4. Hall, fol. 207.

** Grafton, p. 687.

*** Comines, liv. iii. chap. 5. Hall, fol. 208.

**** Comines, liv. iii. chap. 5.

The scene which ensues resembles more the fiction of a poem or romance than an event in true history. The prodigious popularity of Warwick,[*] the zeal of the Lancastrian party, the spirit of discontent with which many were infected, and the general instability of the English nation, occasioned by the late frequent revolutions, drew such multitudes to his standard, that in a very few days his army amounted to sixty thousand men and was continually increasing. Edward hastened southwards to encounter him; and the two armies approached each other near Nottingham, where a decisive action was every hour expected. The rapidity of Warwick's progress had incapacitated the duke of Clarence from executing his plan of treachery; and the marquis of Montague had here the opportunity of striking the first blow. He communicated the design to his adherents, who promised him their concurrence: they took to arms in the night-time, and hastened with loud acclamations to Edward's quarters; the king was alarmed at the noise, and starting from bed, heard the cry of war usually employed by the Lancastrian party. Lord Hastings, his chamberlain, informed him of the danger, and urged him to make his escape by speedy flight from an army where he had so many concealed enemies, and where few seemed zealously attached to his service. He had just time to get on horseback, and to hurry with a small retinue to Lynne, in Norfolk, where he luckily found some ships ready, on board of which he instantly embarked.[**] And after this manner the earl of Warwick, in no longer space than eleven days after his first landing, was left entire master of the kingdom.

* Hall, fol. 205.

** Comines, liv. iii. chap. 5. Hall, fol. 208.

But Edward's danger did not end with his embarkation. The Easterlings or Hanse Towns were then at war both with France and England; and some ships of these people, hovering on the English coast, espied the king's vessels, and gave chase to them; nor was it without extreme difficulty that he made his escape into the port of Alcmaer, in Holland. He had fled from England with such precipitation, that he had carried nothing of value along with him; and the only reward which he could bestow on the captain of the vessel that brought him over, was a robe lined with sables; promising him an ample recompense if fortune should ever become more propitious to him.[*]

* Comines, liv, iii. chap. 5.

It is not likely that Edward could be very fond of presenting himself in this lamentable plight before the duke of Burgundy; and that having so suddenly, after his mighty vaunts, lost all footing in his own kingdom, he could be insensible to the ridicule which must attend him in the eyes of that prince. The duke, on his part, was no less embarrassed how he should receive the dethroned monarch. As he had ever borne a greater affection to the house of Lancaster than to that of York, nothing but political views had engaged him to contract an alliance with the latter; and he foresaw, that probably the revolution in England would now turn this alliance against him, and render the reigning family his implacable and jealous enemy. For this reason, when the first rumor of that event reached him, attended with the circumstance of Edward's death, he seemed rather pleased with the catastrophe; and it was no agreeable disappointment to find, that he must either undergo the burden of supporting an exiled prince, or the dishonor of abandoning so near a relation. He began already to say, that his connections were with the kingdom of England, not with the king; and it was indifferent to him whether the name of Edward or that of Henry were employed in the articles of treaty. These sentiments were continually strengthened by the subsequent events. Vaucler, the deputy-governor of Calais, though he had been confirmed in his command by Edward, and had even received a pension from the duke of Burgundy on account of his fidelity to the crown, no sooner saw his old master, Warwick, reinstated in authority, than he declared for him, and with great demonstrations of zeal and attachment, put the whole garrison in his livery. And the intelligence which the duke received every day from England, seemed to promise an entire and full settlement in the family of Lancaster.

Immediately after Edward's flight had left the kingdom at Warwick's disposal, that nobleman hastened to London; and taking Henry from his confinement in the Tower, into which he himself had been the chief cause of throwing him, he proclaimed him king with great solemnity. A parliament was summoned in the name of that prince, to meet at Westminster, and as this assembly could pretend to no liberty while surrounded by such enraged and insolent victors, governed by such an impetuous spirit as Warwick, their votes were entirely dictated by the ruling faction. The treaty with Margaret was here fully executed: Henry was recognized as lawful king; but his incapacity for government being avowed, the regency was intrusted to Warwick and Clarence till the majority of Prince Edward; and in default of that prince's issue, Clarence was declared successor to the crown. The usual business also of reversals went on without opposition: every statute made during the reign of Edward was repealed; that prince was declared to be a usurper; he and his adherents were attainted; and in particular Richard, duke of Glocester, his younger brother: all the attainders of the Lancastrians, the dukes of Somerset and Exeter, the earls of Richmond, Pembroke, Oxford, and Ormond, were reversed; and every one was restored who had lost either honors or fortunes by his former adherence to the cause of Henry.

The ruling party were more sparing in their executions than was usual after any revolution during those violent times. The only victim of distinction was John Tibetot, earl of Worcester. This accomplished person, born in an age and nation where the nobility valued themselves on ignorance as their privilege, and left learning to monks and schoolmasters, for whom indeed the spurious erudition that prevailed was best fitted, had been struck with the first rays of true science, which began to penetrate from the south, and had been zealous, by his exhortation and example, to propagate the love of letters among his unpolished countrymen. It is pretended, that knowledge had not produced on this nobleman himself the effect which naturally attends it, of humanizing the temper and softening the heart;[*] and that he had enraged the Lancastrians against him by the severities which he exercised upon them during the prevalence of his own party.

* Hall, fol. 210. Stowe, p. 422.

He endeavored to conceal himself after the flight of Edward, but was caught on the top of a tree in the forest of Weybridge, was conducted to London, tried before the earl of Oxford, condemned, and executed. All the other considerable Yorkists either fled beyond sea, or took shelter in sanctuaries, where the ecclesiastical privileges afforded them protection. In London alone it is computed that no less than two thousand persons saved themselves in this manner;[*] and among the rest, Edward's queen, who was there delivered of a son, called by his father's name.[**]

Queen Margaret, the other rival queen, had not yet appeared in England, but on receiving intelligence of Warwick's success, was preparing with Prince Edward for her journey. All the banished Lancastrians flocked to her; and, among the rest, the duke of Somerset, son of the duke beheaded after the battle of Hexham. This nobleman, who had long been regarded as the head of the party, had fled into the Low Countries on the discomfiture of his friends; and as he concealed his name and quality, he had there languished in extreme indigence. Philip de Comines tells us,[***] that he himself saw him, as well as the duke of Exeter, in a condition no better than that of a common beggar; till being discovered by Philip, duke of Burgundy, they had small pensions allotted them, and were living in silence and obscurity when the success of their party called them from their retreat. But both Somerset and Margaret were detained by contrary winds from reaching England,[****] till a new revolution in that kingdom, no less sudden and surprising than the former, threw them into greater misery than that from which they had just emerged.

Though the duke of Burgundy, by neglecting Edward, and paying court to the established government, had endeavored to conciliate the friendship of the Lancastrians, he found that he had not succeeded to his wish; and the connections between the king of France and the earl of Warwick still held him in great anxiety.[*****] This nobleman, too hastily regarding Charles as a determined enemy, had sent over to Calais a body of four thousand men, who made inroads into the Low Countries;[******] and the duke of Burgundy saw himself in danger of being overwhelmed by the united arms of England and of France. He resolved therefore to grant some assistance to his brother-in-law; but in such a covert manner as should give the least offence possible to the English government.

* Comines, liv. iii. chap. 7.

** Hall, fol. 210. Stowe, p. 423. Holingshed, p. 677. Grafton, p. 690.

*** Liv. iii. chap. 4.

**** Grafton, p. 692. Polyd. Virg. p 522.

***** Hall, fol. 205.

****** Comines, liv, iii. chap. 6.

{1471.} He equipped four large vessels, in the name of some private merchants, at Terveer, in Zealand; and causing fourteen ships to be secretly hired from the Easterlings, he delivered this small squadron to Edward, who, receiving also a sum of money from the duke, immediately set sail for England. No sooner was Charles informed of his departure than he issued a proclamation inhibiting all his subjects from giving him countenance or assistance;[*] an artifice which could not deceive the earl of Warwick, but which might serve as a decent pretence, if that nobleman were so disposed, for maintaining friendship with the duke of Burgundy.

Edward, impatient to take revenge on his enemies, and to recover his lost authority, made an attempt to land with his forces, which exceeded not two thousand men, on the coast of Norfolk; but being there repulsed, he sailed northwards, and disembarked at Ravenspur, in Yorkshire. Finding that the new magistrates, who had been appointed by the earl of Warwick, kept the people every where from joining him, he pretended, and even made oath, that he came not to challenge the crown, but only the inheritance of the house of York, which of right belonged to him; and that he did not intend to disturb the peace of the kingdom. His partisans every moment flocked to his standard: he was admitted into the city of York: and he was soon in such a situation as gave him hopes of succeeding in all his claims and pretensions. The marquis of Montague commanded in the northern counties; but from some mysterious reasons, which, as well as many other important transactions in that age, no historian has cleared up, he totally neglected the beginnings of an insurrection which he ought to have esteemed so formidable. Warwick assembled an army at Leicester, with an intention of meeting and of giving battle to the enemy; but Edward, by taking another road, passed him unmolested, and presented himself before the gates of London. Had he here been refused admittance, he was totally undone: but there were many reasons which inclined the citizens to favor him. His numerous friends, issuing from their sanctuaries, were active in his cause; many rich merchants, who had formerly lent him money, saw no other chance for their payment but his restoration; the city dames who had been liberal of their favors to him, and who still retained an affection for this young and gallant prince, swayed their husbands and friends in his favor;[**] and above all, the archbishop of York, Warwick's brother, to whom the care of the city was committed, had secretly, from unknown reasons, entered into a correspondence with him; and he facilitated Edward's admission into London.

* Comines, liv. iii. chap. 6.

** Comines, liv. iii. chap. 7.

The most likely cause which can be assigned for those multiplied infidelities, even in the family of Nevil itself, is the spirit of faction, which, when it becomes inveterate, it is very difficult for any man entirely to shake off. The persons who had long distinguished themselves in the York party, were unable to act with zeal and cordiality for the support of the Lancastrians; and they were inclined, by any prospect of favor or accommodation offered them by Edward, to return to their ancient connections. However this may be, Edward's entrance into London made him master not only of that rich and powerful city, but also of the person of Henry, who, destined to be the perpetual sport of fortune, thus fell again into the hands of his enemies.[*]

It appears not that Warwick, during his short administration, which had continued only six months, had been guilty of any unpopular act, or had anywise deserved to lose that general favor with which he had so lately overwhelmed Edward. But this prince, who was formerly on the defensive, was now the aggressor; and having overcome the difficulties which always attend the beginnings of an insurrection, possessed many advantages above his enemy: his partisans were actuated by that zeal and courage which the notion of an attack inspires his opponents were intimidated for a like reason; every one who had been disappointed in the hopes which he had entertained from Warwick's elevation, either became a cool friend or an open enemy to that nobleman; and each malecontent, from whatever cause, proved an accession to Edward's army. The king, therefore, found himself in a condition to face the earl of Warwick; who, being reenforced by his son-in-law the duke of Clarence, and his brother the marquis of Montague, took post at Barnet, in the neighborhood of London. The arrival of Queen Margaret was every day expected, who would have drawn together all the genuine Lancastrians, and have brought a great accession to Warwick's forces: but this very consideration proved a motive to the earl rather to hurry on a decisive action than to share the victory with rivals and ancient enemies, who, he foresaw, would, in case of success, claim the chief merit in the enterprise.[**]

* Grafton, p. 702.

** Comines, liv. iii. chap. 7.

But while his jealousy was always directed towards that side, he overlooked the dangerous infidelity of friends, who lay the nearest to his bosom. His brother Montague, who had lately temporized, seems now to have remained sincerely attached to the interests of his family: but his son-in-law, though bound to him by every tie of honor and gratitude, though he shared the power of the regency, though he had been invested by Warwick in all the honors and patrimony of the house of York, resolved to fulfil the secret engagements which he had formerly taken with his brother, and to support the interests of his own family: he deserted to the king in the night-time, and carried over a body of twelve thousand men along with him.[*] Warwick was now too far advanced to retreat; and as he rejected with disdain all terms of peace offered him by Edward and Clarence, he was obliged to hazard a general engagement. The battle was fought with obstinacy on both sides: the two armies, in imitation of their leaders displayed uncommon valor; and the victory remained long undecided between them. But an accident threw the balance to the side of the Yorkists. Edward's cognizance was a sun; that of Warwick a star with rays; and the mistiness of the morning rendering it difficult to distinguish them, the earl of Oxford, who fought on the side of the Lancastrians, was by mistake attacked by his friends, and chased off the field of battle.[**] Warwick, contrary to his more usual practice, engaged that day on foot, resolving to show his army that he meant to share every fortune with them; and he was slain in the thickest of the engagement;[***] his brother underwent the same fate; and as Edward had issued orders not to give any quarter, a great and undistinguished slaughter was made in the pursuit. There fell about one thousand five hundred on the side of the victors.

The same day on which this decisive battle was fought,[****] Queen Margaret and her son, now about eighteen years of age, and a young prince of great hopes, landed at Weymouth, supported by a small body of French forces.

* Grafton, p 700. Comines, liv. iii. chap. 7. Leland's Collect. vol. ii. p. 505.

** Habington, p. 449.

*** Comines, liv. iii. chap. 7.

**** Leland's Collect, vol. ii. p. 505.

When this princess received intelligence of her husband's captivity, and of the defeat and death of the earl of Warwick, her courage which had supported her under so many disastrous events, here quite left her; and she immediately foresaw all the dismal consequences of this calamity. At first she took sanctuary in the abbey of Beaulieu;[*] but being encouraged by the appearance of Tudor, earl of Pembroke, and Courtney, earl of Devonshire, of the Lords Wenlock and St. John, with other men of rank, who exhorted her still to hope for success, she resumed her former spirit, and determined to defend to the utmost the ruins of her fallen fortunes. She advanced through the counties of Devon, Somerset, and Glocester, increasing her army on each day's march; but was at last overtaken by the rapid and expeditious Edward, at Tewkesbury, on the banks of the Severn. The Lancastrians were here totally defeated: the earl of Devonshire and Lord Wenlock were killed in the field: the duke of Somerset, and about twenty other persons of distinction, having taken shelter in a church, were surrounded, dragged out, and immediately beheaded: about three thousand of their side fell in battle: and the army was entirely dispersed.

Queen Margaret and her son were taken prisoners, and brought to the king, who asked the prince, after an insulting manner, how he dared to invade his dominions. The young prince, more mindful of his high birth than of his present fortune, replied, that he came thither to claim his just inheritance. The ungenerous Edward, insensible to pity, struck him on the face with his gauntlet; and the dukes of Clarence and Glocester, Lord Hastings, and Sir Thomas Gray, taking the blow as a signal for further violence, hurried the prince into the next apartment, and there despatched him with their daggers.[**] Margaret was thrown into the Tower: King Henry expired in that confinement a few days after the battle of Tewkesbury; but whether he died a natural or violent death is uncertain. It is pretended, and was generally believed, that the duke of Glocester killed him with his own hands:[***] but the universal odium which that prince had incurred, inclined perhaps the nation to aggravate his crimes without any sufficient authority.

* Hall, fol. 219. Habington, p. 451. Grafton, p. 706. Polyd. Virg. p. 528.

** Hall, fol. 221. Habington, p. 453. Holingshed, p 688. Polyd. Virg. p. 530.

*** Comines. Hall, fol. 228. Grafton, p. 703.

It is certain, however, that Henry's death was sudden; and though he labored under an ill state of health, this circumstance, joined to the general manners of the age, gave a natural ground, of suspicion; which was rather increased than diminished by the exposing of his body to public view. That precaution served only to recall many similar instances in the English history, and to suggest the comparison.

All the hopes of the house of Lancaster seemed now to be utterly extinguished. Every legitimate prince of that family was dead: almost every great leader of the party had perished in battle or on the scaffold: the earl of Pembroke, who was levying forces in Wales, disbanded his army when he received intelligence of the battle of Tewkesbury; and he fled into Brittany with his nephew, the young earl of Richmond.[*] The bastard of Falconberg, who had levied some forces, and had advanced to London during Edward's absence, was repulsed; his men deserted him; he was taken prisoner and immediately executed:[**] and peace being now fully restored to the nation, a parliament was summoned, which ratified as usual, all the acts of the victor, and recognized his legal authority.

* Habington, p. 454. Polyd. Virg. p. 531.

** Holingshed, p. 689, 690, 693. Hist. Croyl. Cont. p. 554.

But this prince, who had been so firm, and active, and intrepid during the course of adversity, was still unable to resist the allurements of a prosperous fortune; and he wholly devoted himself, as before, to pleasure and amusement, after he became entirely master of his kingdom, and had no longer any enemy who could give him anxiety or alarm. He recovered, however, by this gay and inoffensive course of life, and by his easy, familiar manners, that popularity which, it is natural to imagine, he had lost by the repeated cruelties exercised upon his enemies; and the example also of his jovial festivity served to abate the former acrimony of faction among his subjects, and to restore the social disposition which had been so long interrupted between the opposite parties. All men seemed to be fully satisfied with the present government; and the memory of past calamities served only to impress the people more strongly with a sense of their allegiance, and with the resolution of never incurring any more the hazard of renewing such direful scenes.

{1474.} But while the king was thus indulging himself in pleasure, he was roused from his lethargy by a prospect of foreign conquests, which, it is probable, his desire of popularity, more than the spirit of ambition, had made him covet. Though he deemed himself little beholden to the duke of Burgundy for the reception which that prince had given him during his exile,[*] the political interests of their states maintained still a close connection between them; and they agreed to unite their arms in making a powerful invasion on France. A league was formed, in which Edward stipulated to pass the seas with an army exceeding ten thousand men, and to invade the French territories: Charles promised to join him with all his forces: the king was to challenge the crown of France, and to obtain at least the provinces of Normandy and Guienne; the duke was to acquire Champaigne and some other territories, and to free all his dominions from the burden of homage to the crown of France: and neither party was to make peace without the consent of the other.[**] They were the more encouraged to hope for success from this league, as the count of St. Pol, constable of France, who was master of St. Quintin and other towns on the Somme, had secretly promised to join them; and there were also hopes of engaging the duke of Brittany to enter into the confederacy.

The prospect of a French war was always a sure means of making the parliament open their purses, as far as the habits of that age would permit. They voted the king a tenth of rents, or two shillings in the pound; which must have been very inaccurately levied, since it produced only thirty-one thousand four hundred and sixty pounds; and they added to this supply a whole fifteenth, and three quarters of another;[***] but as the king deemed these sums still unequal to the undertaking, he attempted to levy money by way of benevolence, a kind of exaction which, except during the reigns of Henry III. and Richard II., had not been much practised in former times, and which, though the consent of the parties was pretended to be gained, could not be deemed entirely voluntary.[****]

* Comines, liv. iii. chap. 7.

** Rymer, vol. xi p. 806, 807, 808, etc.

*** Cotton, p. 696, 700. Hist. Croyl. Cont. p. 558.

**** Hall, fol. 226. Habington, p. 461. Grafton, p. 719. Fabian, fol. 221.

The clauses annexed to the parliamentary grant show sufficiently the spirit of the nation in this respect. The money levied by the fifteenth was not to be put into the king's hands but to be kept in religious houses; and if the expedition into France should not take place, it was immediately to be refunded to the people. After these grants, the parliament was dissolved, which had sitten near two years and a half, and had undergone several prorogations; a practice not very usual at that time in England.

{1475.} The king passed over to Calais with an army of one thousand five hundred men at arms and fifteen thousand archers, attended by all the chief nobility of England, who, prognosticating future successes from the past, were eager to appear on this great theatre of honor.[*] But all their sanguine hopes were damped when they found, on entering the French territories, that neither did the constable open his gates to them, nor the duke of Burgundy bring them the smallest assistance. That prince, transported by his ardent temper, had carried all his armies to a great distance, and had employed them in wars on the frontiers of Germany, and against the duke of Lorraine: and though he came in person to Edward, and endeavored to apologize for this breach of treaty, there was no prospect that they would be able this campaign to make a conjunction with the English. This circumstance gave great disgust to the king, and inclined him to hearken to those advances which Lewis continually made him for an accommodation.

That monarch, more swayed by political views than by the point of honor, deemed no submissions too mean which might free him from enemies who had proved so formidable to his predecessors, and who, united to so many other enemies, might still shake the well-established government of France. It appears from Comines, that discipline was at this time very imperfect among the English; and that their civil wars, though long continued, yet, being always decided by hasty battles, had still left them ignorant of the improvements which the military art was beginning to receive upon the continent.[**]

* Comines, liv. iv. chap. 5. This author says, (chap. 11,) that the king artfully brought over some of the richest of his subjects who, he knew, would be soon tired of the war, and would promote all proposals of peace, which he foresaw would be soon necessary.

** Comines, liv. iv. chap. 5.

But as Lewis was sensible that the warlike genius of the people would soon render them excellent soldiers, he was far from despising them for their present want of experience; and he employed all his art to detach them from the alliance of Burgundy. When Edward sent him a herald to claim the crown of France, and to carry him a defiance in case of refusal, so far from answering to [*] this bravado in like haughty terms, he replied with great temper, and even made the herald a considerable present:[**] he took afterwards an opportunity of sending a herald to the English camp; and having given him directions to apply to the Lords Stanley and Howard, who, he heard, were friends to peace, he desired the good offices of these noblemen in promoting an accommodation with their master.[***] As Edward was now fallen into like dispositions, a truce was soon concluded on terms more advantageous than honorable to Lewis. He stipulated to pay Edward immediately seventy-five thousand crowns, on condition that he should withdraw his army from France, and promised to pay him fifty thousand crowns a year during their joint lives: it was added, that the dauphin, when of age, should marry Edward's eldest daughter.[****] In order to ratify this treaty, the two monarchs agreed to have a personal interview; and for that purpose suitable preparations were made at Pecquigni, near Amiens. A close rail was drawn across a bridge in that place, with no larger intervals than would allow the arm to pass; a precaution against a similar accident to that which befell the duke of Burgundy in his conference with the dauphin at Montereau. Edward and Lewis came to the opposite sides; conferred privately together; and having confirmed their friendship, and interchanged many mutual civilities, they soon after parted.[*****]

* Comines, liv. iv. chap. 5. Hall, fol. 227.

** Comines, liv. iv. chap. 7.

*** Rymer, vol. xii. p. 17.

**** Comines, liv, iv, chap. 9.

***** Hall, fol. 235.

Lewis was anxious not only to gain the king's friendship but also that of the nation, and of all the considerable persons in the English court. He bestowed pensions, to the amount of sixteen thousand crowns a year, on several of the kings, favorites; on Lord Hastings two thousand crowns; on Lora Howard and others in proportion; and these great ministers were not ashamed thus to receive wages from a foreign prince. As the two armies, after the conclusion of the truce remained some time in the neighborhood of each other, the English were not only admitted freely into Amiens, where Lewis resided, but had also their charges defrayed, and had wine and victuals furnished them in every inn, without any payment being demanded. They flocked thither in such multitude that once above nine thousand of them were in the town, and they might have made themselves masters of the king's person; but Lewis, concluding from their jovial and dissolute manner of living, that they had no bad intentions, was careful not to betray the least sign of fear or jealousy. And when Edward, informed of this disorder, desired him to shut the gates against them, he replied, that he would never agree to exclude the English from the place where he resided; but that Edward, if he pleased, might recall them, and place his own officers at the gates of Amiens to prevent their returning.[*]

Lewis's desire of confirming a mutual amity with England, engaged him even to make imprudent advances, which it cost him afterwards some pains to evade. In the conference at Pecquigni he had said to Edward, that he wished to have a visit from him at Paris; that he would there endeavor to amuse him with the ladies; and that, in case any offences were then committed, he would assign him the cardinal of Bourbon for confessor, who, from fellow-feeling, would not be over and above severe in the penances which he would enjoin. This hint made deeper impression than Lewis intended. Lord Howard, who accompanied him back to Amiens, told him in confidence that, if he were so disposed it would not be impossible to persuade Edward to take a journey with him to Paris, where they might make merry together. Lewis pretended at first not to hear the offer; but on Howard's repeating it, he expressed his concern that his wars with the duke of Burgundy would not permit him to attend his royal guest, and do him the honors he intended "Edward," said he privately to Comines, "is a very handsome and a very amorous prince: some lady at Paris may like him as well as he shall do her; and may invite him to return in another manner. It is better that the sea be between us."[**]

* Comines, liv. iv. chap. 9. Hall, fol. 233.

** Comines, liv. iv. chap. 10. Habington, p. 469.

This treaty did very little honor to either of these monarchs: it discovered the imprudence of Edward, who had taken his measures so ill with his allies, as to be obliged, after such an expensive armament, to return without making any acquisitions adequate to it: it showed the want of dignity in Lewis who, rather than run the hazard of a battle, agreed to subject his kingdom to a tribute, and thus acknowledge the superiority of a neighboring prince possessed of less power and territory than himself. But as Lewis made interest the sole test of honor, he thought that all the advantages of the treaty were on his side, and that he had overreached Edward, by sending him out of France on such easy terms. For this reason he was very solicitous to conceal his triumph; and he strictly enjoined his courtiers never to show the English the least sign of mockery or derision. But he did not himself very carefully observe so prudent a rule: he could not forbear, one day, in the joy of his heart, throwing out some raillery on the easy simplicity of Edward and his council; when he perceived that he was overheard by a Gascon, who had settled in England. He was immediately sensible of his indiscretion; sent a message to the gentleman; and offered him some advantages in his own country, as engaged him to remain in France. "It is but just," said he, "that I pay the penalty of my talkativeness."[*]

* Comines, liv. iii. chap. 10.

The most honorable part of Lewis's treaty with Edward was the stipulation for the liberty of Queen Margaret, who, though after the death of her husband and son she could no longer be formidable to government, was still detained in custody by Edward. Lewis paid fifty thousand crowns for her ransom; and that princess, who had been so active on the stage of the world, and who had experienced such a variety of fortune, passed the remainder of her days in tranquility and privacy, till the year 1482, when she died; an admirable princess, but more illustrious by her undaunted spirit in adversity, than by her moderation in prosperity. She seems neither to have enjoyed the virtues, nor been subject to the weaknesses, of her sex; and was as much tainted with the ferocity as endowed with the courage of that barbarous age in which she lived.

Though Edward had so little reason to be satisfied with the conduct of the duke of Burgundy, he reserved to that prince a power of acceding to the treaty of Pecquigni: but Charles, when the offer was made him, haughtily replied, that he was able to support himself without the assistance of England, and that he would make no peace with Lewis till three months after Edward's return into his own country. This prince possessed all the ambition and courage of a conqueror; but being defective in policy and prudence, qualities no less essential, he was unfortunate in all his enterprises; and perished at last in battle against the Swiss;[*] a people whom he despised, and who, though brave and free, had hitherto been in a manner overlooked in the general system of Europe. This event, which happened in the year 1477, produced a great alteration in the views of all the princes, and was attended with consequences which were felt for many generations. Charles left only one daughter, Mary, by his first wife; and this princess, being heir of his opulent and extensive dominions, was courted by all the potentates of Christendom, who contended for the possession of so rich a prize. Lewis, the head of her family, might, by a proper application, have obtained this match for the dauphin, and have thereby united to the crown of France all the provinces of the Low Countries, together with Burgundy, Artois, and Picardy; which would at once have rendered his kingdom an overmate for all its neighbors. But a man wholly interested is as rare as one entirely endowed with the opposite quality; and Lewis, though impregnable to all the sentiments of generosity and friendship, was, on this occasion, carried from the road of true policy by the passions of animosity and revenge. He had imbibed so deep a hatred to the house of Burgundy, that he rather chose to subdue the princess by arms, than unite her to his family by marriage: he conquered the duchy of Burgundy and that part of Picardy which had been ceded to Philip the Good by the treaty of Arras: but he thereby forced the states of the Netherlands to bestow their sovereign in marriage on Maximilian of Austria, son of the emperor Frederick, from whom they looked for protection in their present distresses: and by these means, France lost the opportunity, which she never could recall, of making that important acquisition of power and territory.

During this interesting crisis, Edward was no less defective in policy, and was no less actuated by private passions, unworthy of a sovereign and a statesman. Jealousy of his brother Clarence had caused him to neglect the advances which were made of marrying that prince, now a widower, to the heiress of Burgundy;[**] and he sent her proposals of espousing Anthony, earl of Rivers, brother to his queen, who still retained an entire ascendant over him.

* Comines, liv. v. chap. 8.

** Polyd. Virg. Hall, fol. 240. Holingshed, p. 703. Habington p. 474. Grafton, p. 742.

But the match was rejected with disdain;[*] and Edward, resenting this treatment of his brother-in-law, permitted France to proceed without interruption in her conquests over his defenceless ally. Any pretence sufficed him for abandoning himself entirely to indolence and pleasure, which were now become his ruling passions. The only object which divided his attention was the improving of the public revenue, which had been dilapidated by the necessities or negligence of his predecessors; and some of his expedients for that purpose, though unknown to us, were deemed, during the time, oppressive to the people.[**] The detail of private wrongs naturally escapes the notice of history; but an act of tyranny of which Edward was guilty in his own family, has been taken notice of by all writers, and has met with general and deserved censure.

* Hall, fol. 240.

** Hall, p. 241. Hist. Croyl. Cont. p, 559.

The duke of Clarence, by all his services in deserting Warwick, had never been able to regain the king's friendship, which he had forfeited by his former confederacy with that nobleman. He was still regarded at court as a man of a dangerous and a fickle character; and the imprudent openness and violence of his temper, though it rendered him much less dangerous, tended extremely to multiply his enemies, and to incense them against him. Among others, he had had the misfortune to give displeasure to the queen herself, as well as to his brother, the duke of Glocester, a prince of the deepest policy, of the most unrelenting ambition, and the least scrupulous in the means which he employed for the attainment or his ends. A combination between these potent adversaries being secretly formed against Clarence, it was determined to begin by attacking his friends; in hopes that, if he patiently endured this injury, his pusillanimity would dishonor him in the eyes of the public; if he made resistance, and expressed resentment, his passion would betray him into measures which might give them advantages against him. The king, hunting one day in the park of Thomas Burdet, of Arrow, in Warwickshire, had killed a white buck, which was a great favorite of the owner; and Burdet, vexed at the loss, broke into a passion, and wished the horns of the deer in the belly of the person who had advised the king to commit that insult upon him. This natural expression of resentment, which would have been overlooked or forgotten had it fallen from any other person, was rendered criminal and capital in that gentleman, by the friendship in which he had the misfortune to live with the duke of Clarence; he was tried for his life; the judges and jury were found servile enough to condemn him and he was publicly beheaded at Tyburn for this pretended offence.[*] About the same time, one John Stacey, an ecclesiastic, much connected with the duke as well as with Burdet, was exposed to a like iniquitous and barbarous prosecution. This clergyman, being more learned in mathematics and astronomy than was usual in that age, lay under the imputation of necromancy with the ignorant vulgar; and the court laid hold of this popular rumor to effect his destruction. He was brought to his trial for that imaginary crime; many of the greatest peers countenanced the prosecution by their presence; he was condemned, put to the torture, and executed.[**]

The duke of Clarence was alarmed when he found these acts of tyranny exercised on all around him: he reflected on the fate of the good duke of Glocester, in the last reign, who, after seeing the most infamous pretences employed for the destruction of his nearest connections, at last fell himself a victim to the vengeance of his enemies. But Clarence, instead of securing his own life against the present danger by silence and reserve, was open and loud in justifying the innocence of his friends, and in exclaiming against the iniquity of their prosecutors.

{1478.} The king, highly offended with his freedom, or using that pretence against him, committed him to the Tower,[***] summoned a parliament, and tried him for his life before the house of peers, the supreme tribunal of the nation.

The duke was accused of arraigning public justice, by maintaining the innocence of men who had been condemned in courts of judicature, and or inveighing against the iniquity of the king, who had given orders for their prosecution.[****]

* Habington, p. 475. Holingshed, p. 703. Sir Thomas More in Kennet, p. 498.

** Hist. Croyl. Cont. p. 561.

*** Hist Croyl. Cont. p. 562.

**** Stowe, p. 430.

Many rash expressions were imputed to him, and some, too, reflecting on Edward's legitimacy; but he was not accused of any overt act of treason; and even the truth of these speeches may be doubted of, since the liberty of judgment was taken from the court, by the king's appearing personally as his brother's accuser,[*] and pleading the cause against him. But a sentence of condemnation, even when this extraordinary circumstance had not place, was a necessary consequence, in those times, of any prosecution by the court or the prevailing party; and the duke of Clarence was pronounced guilty by the peers. The house of commons were no less slavish and unjust: they both petitioned for the execution of the duke, and afterwards passed a bill of attainder against him.[**] The measures of the parliament, during that age, furnish us with examples of a strange contrast of freedom and servility: they scruple to grant, and sometimes refuse, to the king the smallest supplies, the most necessary for the support of government, even the most necessary for the maintenance of wars, for which the nation, as well as the parliament itself, expressed great fondness: but they never scruple to concur in the most flagrant act of injustice or tyranny which falls on any individual, however distinguished by birth or merit. These maxims, so ungenerous, so opposite to all principles of good government, so contrary to the practice of present parliaments, are very remarkable in all the transactions of the English history for more than a century after the period in which we are now engaged.

The only favor which the king granted his brother after his condemnation, was to leave him the choice of his death; and he was privately drowned in a butt of malmsey in the Tower; a whimsical choice, which implies that he had an extraordinary passion for that liquor. The duke left two children by the elder daughter of the earl of Warwick; a son, created an earl by his grandfather's title, and a daughter, afterwards countess of Salisbury. Both this prince and princess were also unfortunate in their end, and died a violent death; a fate which, for many years, attended almost all the descendants of the royal blood in England. There prevails a report, that a chief source of the violent prosecution of the duke of Clarence, whose name was George, was a current prophecy, that the king's son should be murdered by one, the initial letter of whose name was G.[***] It is not impossible but, in those ignorant times, such a silly reason might have some influence; but it is more probable that the whole story is the invention of a subsequent period, and founded on the murder of these children by the duke of Glocester. Comines remarks, that at that time the English never were without some superstitious prophecy or other, by which they accounted for every event.

* Hist. Croyl. Cont. p. 562.

** Stowe, p. 430. Hist. Croyl. Cont. p. 562.

*** Hall, fol. 239. Holingshed, p. 703. Grafton, p. 741. Polyd. Virg. p. 537. Sir Thomas More in Kennet, p. 497.

All the glories of Edward's reign terminated with the civil wars, where his laurels, too, were extremely sullied with blood, violence, and cruelty. His spirit seems afterwards to have been sunk in indolence and pleasure, or his measures were frustrated by imprudence and the want of foresight. There was no object on which he was more intent than to have all his daughters settled by splendid marriages, though most of these princesses were yet in their infancy, and though the completion of his views, it was obvious, must depend on numberless accidents, which were impossible to be foreseen or prevented. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth, was contracted to the dauphin; his second, Cicely, to the eldest son of James III., king of Scotland; his third, Anne, to Philip, only son of Maximilian and the duchess of Burgundy; his fourth, Catharine, to John, son and heir to Ferdinand, king of Arragon, and Isabella, queen of Castile.[*] None of these projected marriages took place; and the king himself saw in his lifetime the rupture of the first, that with the dauphin, for which he had always discovered a peculiar fondness. Lewis, who paid no regard to treaties or engagements, found his advantage in contracting the dauphin to the princess Margaret, daughter of Maximilian, and the king, notwithstanding his indolence, prepared to revenge the indignity.

* Rymer, vol. xi. p. 110.

{1482.} The French monarch, eminent for prudence as well as perfidy, endeavored to guard against the blow; and by a proper distribution of presents in the court of Scotland, he incited James to make war upon England. This prince, who lived on bad terms with his own nobility, and whose force was very unequal to the enterprise, levied an army; but when he was ready to enter England, the barons, conspiring against his favorites, put them to death without trial; and the army presently disbanded. The duke of Glocester, attended by the duke of Albany, James's brother, who had been banished his country, entered Scotland at the head of an army, took Berwick, and obliged the Scots to accept of a peace, by which they resigned that fortress to Edward. This success imboldened the king to think more seriously of a French war; but while he was making preparations for that enterprise, he was seized with a distemper, of which he expired in the forty-second year of his age, and the twenty-third of his reign; a prince more splendid and showy than either prudent or virtuous; brave, though cruel; addicted to pleasure, though capable of activity in great emergencies; and less fitted to prevent ills by wise precautions, than to remedy them, after they took place, by his vigor and enterprise. Besides five daughters, this king left two sons; Edward, prince of Wales, his successor, then in his thirteenth year and Richard, duke of York, in his ninth.



CHAPTER XXIII.



EDWARD V. AND RICHARD III.

{1483.} During the latter years of Edward IV., the nation having in a great measure forgotten the bloody feuds between the two roses, and peaceably acquiescing in the established government, was agitated only by some court intrigues, which, being restrained by the authority of the king, seemed nowise to endanger the public tranquillity. These intrigues arose from the perpetual rivalship between two parties; one consisting of the queen and her relations, particularly the earl of Rivers, her brother, and the marquis of Dorset, her son; the other composed of the ancient nobility, who envied the sudden growth and unlimited credit of that aspiring family.[*]

* Sir Thomas More. p. 481.

At the head of this latter party was the duke of Buckingham, a man of very noble birth, of ample possessions, of great alliances, of shining parts; who, though he had married the queen's sister, was too haughty to act in subserviency to her inclinations, and aimed rather at maintaining an independent influence and authority. Lord Hastings, the chamberlain, was another leader of the same party; and as this nobleman had, by his bravery and activity, as well as by his approved fidelity, acquired the confidence and favor of his master, he had been able, though with some difficulty, to support himself against the credit of the queen. The lords Howard and Stanley maintained a connection with these two noblemen, and brought a considerable accession of influence and reputation to their party. All the other barons, who had no particular dependence on the queen, adhered to the same interest; and the people in general, from their natural envy against the prevailing power, bore great favor to the cause of these noblemen.

But Edward knew that, though he himself had been able to overawe those rival factions, many disorders might arise from their contests during the minority of his son; and he therefore took care, in his last illness, to summon together several of the leaders on both sides, and by composing their ancient quarrels, to provide, as far as possible, for the future tranquillity of the government. After expressing his intentions, that his brother, the duke of Glocester, then absent in the north, should be intrusted with the regency, he recommended to them peace and unanimity during the tender years of his son; represented to them the dangers which must attend the continuance of their animosities; and engaged them to embrace each other with all the appearance of the most cordial reconciliation. But this temporary or feigned agreement lasted no longer than the king's life; he had no sooner expired, than the jealousies of the parties broke out afresh; and each of them applied, by separate messages, to the duke of Glocester, and endeavored to acquire his favor and friendship.

This prince, during his brother's reign, had endeavored to live on good terms with both parties; and his high birth, his extensive abilities, and his great services, had enabled him to support himself without falling into a dependence on either. But the new situation of affairs, when the supreme power was devolved upon him, immediately changed his measures; and he secretly determined to preserve no longer that neutrality which he had hitherto maintained. His exorbitant ambition, unrestrained by any principle either of justice or humanity; made him carry his views to the possession of the crown itself; and as this object could not be attained without the ruin of the queen and her family, he fell, without hesitation, into concert with the opposite party. But being sensible that the most profound dissimulation was requisite for effecting his criminal purposes, he redoubled his professions of zeal and attachment to that princess; and he gained such credit with her as to influence her conduct in a point which, as it was of the utmost importance, was violently disputed between the opposite factions.

The young king, at the time of his father's death, resided in the Castle of Ludlow, on the borders of Wales; whither he had been sent, that the influence of his presence might overawe the Welsh, and restore the tranquillity of that country, which had been disturbed by some late commotions. His person was committed to the care of his uncle, the earl of Rivers, the most accomplished nobleman in England, who, having united an uncommon taste for literature[*] to great abilities in business and valor in the field was entitled by his talents, still more than by nearness of blood, to direct the education of the young monarch. The queen, anxious to preserve that ascendant over her son which she had long maintained over her husband, wrote to the earl of Rivers, that he should levy a body of forces, in order to escort the king to London, to protect him during his coronation, and to keep him from falling into the hands of their enemies.[**] The opposite faction, sensible that Edward was now of an age when great advantages could be made of his name and countenance, and was approaching to the age when he would be legally entitled to exert in person his authority, foresaw that the tendency of this measure was to perpetuate their subjection under their rivals; and they vehemently opposed a resolution which they represented as the signal for renewing a civil war in the kingdom. Lord Hastings threatened to depart instantly to his government of Calais:[**] the other nobles seemed resolute to oppose force by force: and as the duke of Glocester, on pretence of pacifying the quarrel, had declared against all appearance of an armed power, which might be dangerous, and was nowise necessary; the queen, trusting to the sincerity of his friendship, and overawed by so violent an opposition, recalled her orders to her brother, and desired him to bring up no greater retinue than should be necessary to support the state and dignity of the young sovereign.[***]

* This nobleman first introduced the noble art of printing into England. Caxton was recommended by him to the patronage of Edward IV. See Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors.

** Hist. Croyl. Cont. p. 564, 565.

*** Sir Thomas More, p. 483.

The duke of Glocester, meanwhile, set out from York, attended by a numerous train of the northern gentry. When he reached Northampton, he was joined by the duke of Buckingham, who was also attended by a splendid retinue; and as he heard that the king was hourly expected on that road, he resolved to await his arrival, under color of conducting him thence in person to London. The earl of Rivers, apprehensive that the place would be too narrow to contain so many attendants, sent his pupil forward by another road to Stony Stratford; and came himself to Northampton, in order to apologize for this measure, and to pay his respects to the duke of Glocester. He was received with the greatest appearance of cordiality: he passed the evening an an amicable manner with Glocester and Buckingham: he proceeded on the road with them next day to join the king: but as he was entering Stony Stratford, he was arrested by orders from the duke of Glocester:[*] Sir Richard Gray, one of the queen's sons, was at the same time put under a guard, together with Sir Thomas Vaughan, who possessed a considerable office in the king's household; and all the prisoners were instantly conducted to Pomfret. Glocester approached the young prince with the greatest demonstrations of respect; and endeavored to satisfy him with regard to the violence committed on his uncle and brother: but Edward, much attached to these near relations, by whom he had been tenderly educated, was not such a master of dissimulation as to conceal his displeasure.[**]

The people, however, were extremely rejoiced at this revolution; and the duke was received in London with the loudest acclamations: but the queen no sooner received intelligence of her brother's imprisonment, than she foresaw that Glocester's violence would not stop there, and that her own ruin, if not that of all her children, was finally determined. She therefore fled into the sanctuary of Westminster, attended by the marquis of Dorset; and she carried thither the five princesses, together with the duke of York.[***]

* Hist. Croyl. Cont. p. 564, 565.

** Sir Thomas More.

*** Hist. Croyl. Cont. p. 565.

She trusted that the ecclesiastical privileges, which had formerly, during the total ruin of her husband and family, given her protection against the fury of the Lancastrian faction, would not now be violated by her brother-in-law, while her son was on the throne; and she resolved to await there the return of better fortune. But Glocester, anxious to have the duke of York in his power, proposed to take him by force from the sanctuary; and he represented to the privy council both the indignity put upon the government by the queen's ill-grounded apprehensions, and the necessity of the young prince's appearance at the ensuing coronation of his brother. It was further urged, that ecclesiastical privileges were originally intended only to give protection to unhappy men persecuted for their debts or crimes; and were entirely useless to a person who, by reason of his tender age, could lie under the burden of neither, and who, for the same reason, was utterly incapable of claiming security from any sanctuary. But the two archbishops, Cardinal Bourchier, the primate, and Rotherhand, archbishop of York, protesting against the sacrilege of this measure, it was agreed that they should first endeavor to bring the queen to compliance by persuasion, before any violence should be employed against her. These prelates were persons of known integrity and honor; and being themselves entirely persuaded of the duke's good intentions, they employed every argument, accompanied with earnest entreaties, exhortations, and assurances, to bring her over to the same opinion. She long continued obstinate, and insisted that the duke of York, by living in the sanctuary, was not only secure himself, but gave security to the king, whose life no one would dare to attempt while his successor and avenger remained in safety. But finding that none supported her in these sentiments, and that force, in case of refusal, was threatened by the council, she at last complied, and produced her son to the two prelates. She was here on a sudden struck with a kind of presage of his future fate: she tenderly embraced him; she bedewed him with her tears; and bidding him an eternal adieu, delivered him, with many expressions of regret and reluctance, into their custody.[*]

The duke of Glocester, being the nearest male of the royal family capable of exercising the government, seemed entitled, by the customs of the realm, to the office of protector; and the council, not waiting for the consent of parliament, made no scruple of investing him with that high dignity.[**]

* Sir Thomas More, p. 491.

** Hist. Croyl. Cont, p. 566.

The general prejudice entertained by the nobility against the queen and her kindred, occasioned this precipitation and irregularity; and no one foresaw any danger to the succession, much less to the lives of the young princes, from a measure so obvious and so natural. Besides that the duke had hitherto been able to cover, by the most profound dissimulation, his fierce and savage nature, the numerous issue of Edward, together with the two children of Clarence, seemed to be an eternal obstacle to his ambition; and it appeared equally impracticable for him to destroy so many persons possessed of a preferable title, and imprudent to exclude them. But a man who had abandoned all principles of honor and humanity, was soon carried by his predominant passion beyond the reach of fear or precaution; and Glocester, having so far succeeded in his views, no longer hesitated in removing the other obstructions which lay between him and the throne. The death of the earl of Rivers, and of the other prisoners detained in Pomfret, was first determined; and he easily obtained the consent of the duke of Buckingham, as well as of Lord Hastings, to this violent and sanguinary measure. However easy it was, in those times, to procure a sentence against the most innocent person, it appeared still more easy to despatch an enemy without any trial or form of process; and orders were accordingly issued to Sir Richard Ratcliffe, a proper instrument in the hands of this tyrant, to cut off the heads of the prisoners. The protector then assailed the fidelity of Buckingham by all the arguments capable of swaying a vicious mind, which knew no motive of action but interest and ambition. He represented that the execution of persons so nearly related to the king, whom that prince so openly professed to love, and whose fate he so much resented, would never pass unpunished; and all the actors in that scene were bound in prudence to prevent the effects of his future vengeance: that it would be impossible to keep the queen forever at a distance from her son, and equally impossible to prevent her from instilling into his tender mind the thoughts of retaliating, by like executions, the sanguinary insults committed on her family: that the only method of obviating these mischiefs was to put the sceptre in the hands of a man of whose friendship the duke might be assured, and whose years and experience taught him to pay respect to merit and to the rights of ancient nobility: and that the same necessity which had carried them so far in resisting the usurpation of these intruders, must justify them in attempting further innovations, and in making, by national consent, a new settlement of the succession. To these reasons he added the offers of great private advantages to the duke of Buckingham; and he easily obtained from him a promise of supporting him in all his enterprises.

The duke of Glocester, knowing the importance of gaining Lord Hastings, sounded at a distance his sentiments, by means of Catesby, a lawyer, who lived in great intimacy with that nobleman; but found him impregnable in his allegiance and fidelity to the children of Edward, who had ever honored him with his friendship.[*] He saw, therefore, that there were no longer any measures to be kept with him; and he determined to ruin utterly the man whom he despaired of engaging to concur in his usurpation. On the very day when Rivers, Gray, and Vaughan were executed, or rather murdered, at Poinfret by the advice of Hastings, the protector summoned a council in the Tower; whither that nobleman, suspecting no design against him, repaired without hesitation.

* Sir Thomas More. p. 493.

The duke of Glocester was capable of committing the most bloody and treacherous murders with the utmost coolness and indifference. On taking his place at the council-table, he appeared in the easiest and most jovial humor imaginable. He seemed to indulge himself in familiar conversation with the counsellors, before they should enter on business, and having paid some compliments to Morton, bishop of Ely, on the good and early strawberries which he raised in his garden at Holborn, he begged the favor of having a dish of them, which that prelate immediately despatched a servant to bring to him. The protector then left the council, as if called away by some other business; but soon after returning with an angry and inflamed countenance, he asked them, what punishment those deserved that had plotted against his life, who was so nearly related to the king, and was intrusted with the administration of government. Hastings replied, that they merited the punishment of traitors. "These traitors," cried the protector, "are the sorceress, my brother's wife, and Jane Shore, his mistress, with others their associates: see to what a condition they have reduced me by their incantations and witchcraft:" upon which he laid bare his arm, all shrivelled and decayed. But the counsellors, who knew that this infirmity had attended him from his birth, looked on each other with amazement; and, above all, Lord Hastings, who, as he had since Edward's death engaged in an intrigue with Jane Shore,[*] [20] was naturally anxious concerning the issue of these extraordinary proceedings.

* See note T, at the end of the volume.

"Certainly, my lord," said he, "if they be guilty of these crimes, they deserve the severest punishment." "And do you reply to me," exclaimed the protector, "with your ifs and your ands? You are the chief abettor of that witch, Shore: you are yourself a traitor; and I swear by St. Paul, that I will not dine before your head be brought me," He struck the table with his hand: armed men rushed in at the signal: the counsellors were thrown into the utmost consternation: and one of the guards, as if by accident or mistake, aimed a blow with a pole-axe at Lord Stanley, who, aware of the danger, slunk under the table; and though he saved his life, he received a severe wound in the head, in the protector's presence. Hastings was seized, was hurried away, and instantly beheaded on a timber-log, which lay in the court of the Tower.[*] Two hours after, a proclamation, well penned, and fairly written, was read to the citizens of London, enumerating his offenses, and apologizing to them, from the suddenness of the discovery, for the sudden execution of that nobleman, who was very popular among them; but the saying of a merchant was much talked of on the occasion, who remarked, that the proclamation was certainly drawn by the spirit of prophecy.[**]

* Hist Croyl. Cont. p. 566.

** Sir Thomas More, p. 496.

Lord Stanley, the archbishop of York, the bishop of Ely, and other counsellors, were committed prisoners in different chambers of the Tower; and the protector, in order to carry on the farce of his accusations, ordered the goods of Jane Shore to be seized; and he summoned her to answer before the council for sorcery and witchcraft. But as no proofs, which could be received even in that ignorant age, were produced against her, he directed her to be tried in the spiritual court for her adulteries and lewdness; and she did penance in a white sheet in St. Paul's, before the whole people. This lady was born of reputable parents in London, was well educated, and married to a substantial citizen; but unhappily views of interest, more than the maid's inclinations, had been consulted in the match, and her mind, though framed for virtue, had proved unable to resist the allurements of Edward, who solicited her favors. But while seduced from her duty by this gay and amorous monarch, she still made herself respectable by her other virtues; and the ascendant which her charms and vivacity long maintained over him, was all employed in acts of beneficence and humanity. She was still forward to oppose calumny, to protect the oppressed, to relieve the indigent; and her good offices, the genuine dictates of her heart, never waited the solicitation of presents, or the hopes of reciprocal services. But she lived not only to feel the bitterness of shame imposed on her by this tyrant, but to experience, in old age and poverty, the ingratitude of those courtiers who had long solicited her friendship, and been protected by her credit. No one, among the great multitudes whom she had obliged, had the humanity to bring her consolation or relief; she languished out her life in solitude and indigence; and amidst a court inured to the most atrocious crimes, the frail ties of this woman justified all violations of friendship towards her, and all neglect of former obligations.

These acts of violence, exercised against all the nearest connections of the late king, prognosticated the severest fate to his defenceless children; and after the murder of Hastings, the protector no longer made a secret of his intentions to usurp the crown. The licentious life of Edward, who was not restrained in his pleasures either by honor or prudence, afforded a pretence for declaring his marriage with the queen invalid, and all his posterity illegitimate. It was asserted that, before espousing the lady Elizabeth Gray, he had paid court to the lady Eleanor Talbot, daughter of the earl of Shrewsbury; and being repulsed by the virtue of that lady, he was obliged, ere he could gratify his desires, to consent to a private marriage, without any witnesses, by Stillington, bishop of Bath, who afterwards divulged the secret.[*]

* Hist. Croyl. Cont. p. 567. Comines. Sir Thomas More, p. 482.

It was also maintained that the act of attainder passed against the duke of Clarence, had virtually incapacitated his children from succeeding to the crown; and these two families being set aside, the protector remained the only true and legitimate heir of the house of York. But as it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove the preceding marriage of the late king, and as the rule which excludes the heirs of an attainted blood from private successions was never extended to the crown, the protector resolved to make use of another plea, still more shameful and scandalous. His partisans were taught to maintain, that both Edward IV. and the duke of Clarence were illegitimate; that the duchess of York had received different lovers into her bed, who were the fathers of these children, that, their resemblance to those gallants was a sufficient proof of their spurious birth; and that the duke of Glocester alone, of all her sons, appeared by his features and countenance to be the true offspring of the duke of York. Nothing can be imagined more impudent than this assertion, which threw so foul an imputation on his own mother, a princess of irreproachable virtue, and then alive; yet the place chosen for first promulgating it was the pulpit, before a large congregation, and in the protector's presence. Dr. Shaw was appointed to preach in St. Paul's; and having chosen this passage for his text "Bastards lips shall not thrive," he enlarged on all the topics which could discredit the birth of Edward IV., the duke of Clarence, and of all their children. He then broke out in a panegyric on the duke of Glocester; and 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, once your hero and favorite: he alone is entitled to your allegiance: he must deliver you from the dominion of all intruders: he alone can restore the lost glory and honor of the nation." It was previously concerted, that as the doctor should pronounce these words, the duke of Glocester should enter the church; and it was expected that the audience would cry out, "God save King Richard;" which would immediately have been laid hold of as a popular consent, and interpreted to be the voice of the nation; but by a ridiculous mistake, worthy of the whole scene, the duke did not appear till after this exclamation was already recited by the preacher. The doctor was therefore obliged to repeat his rhetorical figure out of its proper place: the audience, less from the absurd conduct of the discourse than from their detestation of these proceedings, kept a profound silence: and the protector and his preacher were equally abashed at the ill success of their stratagem.

But the duke was too far advanced to recede from his criminal and ambitious purpose. A new expedient was tried to work on the people. The mayor, who was brother to Dr. Shaw, and entirely in the protector's interests, called an assembly of the citizens; where the duke of Buckingham, who possessed some talents for eloquence, harangued them on the protector's title to the crown, and displayed those numerous virtues of which he pretended that prince was possessed. He next asked them whether they would have the duke for king; and then stopped, in expectation of hearing the cry, "God save King Richard." He was surprised to observe them silent; and turning about to the mayor, asked him the reason. The mayor replied, that perhaps they did not understand him. Buckingham then repeated his discourse with some variation. enforced the same topics, asked the same question, and was received with the same silence. "I now see the cause," said the mayor; "the citizens are not accustomed to be harangued by any but their recorder; and know not how to answer a person of your grace's quality." The recorder, Fitz-Williams, was then commanded to repeat the substance of the duke's speech; but the man, who was averse to the office, took care, throughout his whole discourse, to have it understood that he spoke nothing of himself, and that he only conveyed to them the sense of the duke of Buckingham. Still the audience kept a profound silence. "This is wonderful obstinacy," cried the duke: "express your meaning, my friends, one way or other: when we apply to you on this occasion, it is merely from the regard which we bear to you. The lords and commons have sufficient authority, without your consent, to appoint a king: but I require you here to declare, in plain terms, whether or not you will have the duke of Glocester for your sovereign." After all these efforts, some of the meanest apprentices, incited by the protector's and Buckingham's servants, raised a feeble cry, "God save King Richard:"[*] the sentiments of the nation were now sufficiently declared: the voice of the people was the voice of God: and Buckingham, with the mayor, hastened to Baynard's Castle, where the protector then resided, that they might make him a tender of the crown.

* Sir Thomas More, p. 496.

When Richard was told that a great multitude was in the court, he refused to appear to them, and pretended to be apprehensive for his personal safety; a circumstance taken notice of by Buckingham, who observed to the citizens that the prince was ignorant of the whole design. At last he was persuaded to step forth, but he still kept at some distance; and he asked the meaning of their intrusion and importunity. Buckingham told him that the nation was resolved to have him for king: the protector declared his purpose of maintaining his loyalty to the present sovereign, and exhorted them to adhere to the same resolution. He was told that the people had determined to have another prince; and if he rejected their unanimous voice, they must look out for one who would be more compliant. This argument was too powerful to be resisted: he was prevailed on to accept of the crown: and he thenceforth acted as legitimate and rightful sovereign.

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