History of England, Part I For the use of Middle Forms of Schools

Tout, T. F. --Powell, F. York


CHAPTER V: Edward V of Westminster 1483 and Richard III 1483

1. When died, his elder son, Prince of Wales, was at Ludlow, where he had been sent to be brought up by his mother's brother, Anthony Lord Rivers, one of the most learned and accomplished noblemen of the day. Most of the great lords of the Council, save the Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham, were in London. They at once met, and proclaimed the prince, who was then a handsome and clever boy of twelve years, King the Fifth.

[1]  A regency was, of course, needful. The queen-mother's kinsmen, the Woodvilles and Greys, would have liked her to be regent. But the Council, led by the personal friends of the late king-Lord Hastings the Captain of Calais, Lord Stanley the Steward (who had married Margaret Beaufort Countess of Richmond), and John Duke of Suffolk, husband of Elizabeth, 's sister-wished to make Gloucester Protector. They therefore forbade Lord Rivers to bring more than 2000 men up from Wales with the little king. Gloucester, who was in shire when his brother died, set off to London with a large body of men, and met Buckingham at


Northampton. Here the two dukes laid their plans for the complete overthrow of the

" queen's friends."

At Stony-Stratford, where they met the king, they struck the first blow, arresting Rivers and his nephew, Sir Richard Grey. This sudden stroke frightened the queen, and she sought sanctuary at Westminster with her youngest son, Richard Duke of , while her eldest son, the Marquis of Dorset fled from London.

When the two dukes and the king reached London, where they were warmly welcomed, the Council met, and at Hastings' proposal, named Gloucester Protector and Defender of the Realm. Parliament was called, and the crowning of the little king fixed for the 22d June. But Gloucester and Buckingham were not content with the power Council had given them. The queen's party were helpless, at their mercy, but the

" king's friends,"

led by Hastings, were still strong enough at the Council to check their plans. They therefore made up their minds to fall upon him. Gloucester quickly called out the levies of the northern shires, where he was held in much esteem, and sent orders to his friends Ratcliffe and the Earl of to have Lord Rivers and the other prisoners of that party beheaded without further delay. In all this he was able to act more secretly and swiftly by means of the regular post, or service of mounted messengers, which he had devised when he was carrying on the Scottish war for his brother. On 13th June, when all was ready, the Protector came down to the Council, which met at the Tower, where the young king was lodged. At first he spoke pleasantly to them all, but then withdrew for a short time, to make sure that his soldiers were at hand. When he came back his face was dark, and, after sitting silent for a while, he cried, answered Hastings, Then bared his left arm (which was thinner and smaller than the other), declaring that it had been wasted by the witchcraft of Queen Elizabeth and Jane Shore. The latter was a lady whom King had dearly loved, and who was befriended by Hastings after his death. Hastings, willing to soothe the angry duke, answered gently, cried Gloucester, and with that he smote the board sharply with his hand. The door flew open, and in rushed a band of guards, with


cries of They laid hands on the Bishops of and Ely, and Lords Hastings and Stanley, the latter of whom was nearly killed by a blow from a sword. Gloucester bade them hale Hastings out and strike off his head at once, swearing by S. Paul that he would not break bread that day till he heard that he was dead. So as soon as he had been shrived by the first priest that could be found, the unlucky Hastings was beheaded on a log of timber that lay on the green by S. Peter's in the Tower. The other prisoners were set in safe keeping. Then and Buckingham called for armour from the stores in the Tower, and putting on the first brigandines [body-armour] that came to hand, met the mayor and aldermen, whom they had sent for, and told them that the Chamberlain and his friends had plotted to put them to death and seize the government, and that they had been obliged to punish them at once, lest further evil should come of it. The mayor and aldermen, who knew that the duke was a wise and careful statesman, and believed him to be a pious and unselfish man, were glad of the news, and put all their trust in the two dukes. 's next step was to get Cardinal Bourchier to persuade the queen to give up the Duke of . When she had done so, he brought him to his brother the king in the Tower with much state.

2. [2]  And now that he had no further danger to fear, for those whom he dreaded were either dead or in his power, while he had a large force of soldiers at his back ready to put down any rising against him, began to take more open means to get himself made king. On Sunday 22nd June, Dr. Shaw, the mayor's brother, was set to preach at S. Paul's a sermon in which he said that, as the late king had been privately married to Eleanor Butler, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, before he wedded Lady Elizabeth Grey, his two sons Edward and Richard were not born in lawful wedlock, and therefore had no right to the crown. He even went further, and to the great astonishment of the crowd of citizens who listened to him, set forth his doubts as to the lawful birth of the late King himself, at the same time talking of the certainty every one must feel that Gloucester was his father's true heir. This sermon was followed up on the following Tuesday by a speech from the Duke of Buckingham at Guildhall to the mayor and chief citizens of London. He repeated Dr. Shaw's arguments, said that the lords and commons of the north of England had sworn never to obey


a king who was not lawfully born, noticed that Clarence's children were attainted by Act of Parliament, and declared that by right Duke of Gloucester was the true heir to the crown of England and France. Upon this some of the assembly threw up their caps and hoods, with loud cries of Then the duke begged the mayor and company to go with him next morning to Baynard's Castle, where the Protector was lodging, and beg him to take the crown that was his right. So, on the 25th June, the duke, the mayor, with many lords, clergymen, and chief citizens, visited the Protector, and presented him with a signed roll, in which they prayed him in the name of the Three Estates to be their king. After a slight show of refusal agreed to their wishes, and next day he walked to Westminster Hall in state to be proclaimed king. There he sat down on the judges' bench, and spoke to the lords and commons. He told them that he sat there because he wished to show that the king above all things should take care that the laws should be good laws and well kept. On the 6th July and Anne his wife were crowned by the Archbishop, Cardinal Bourchier, amid great pomp, the Duke of Buckingham and the Countess of Richmond being the train-bearers of the new king and queen. Most men were well pleased to be ruled by a man who had given proofs of his talents and knowledge of affairs, rather than have to face once more the many dangers and difficulties of a long minority. After the crowning of nothing more was heard of the little princes, and what became of them was indeed never clearly known. However, it was soon spread abroad that they were both dead, murdered in the Tower, as has ever since been most generally believed, by their uncle's order. And it is possible that the pity felt for their untimely fate, and the hatred it roused against the man who was looked upon as their merciless betrayer, were among the chief causes of his own downfall and death. Yet it does not seem that the princes' kindred or the great nobles believed at the time that had killed his nephews, and for many years afterward, as will be seen, there were many who were sure that they had escaped from the Tower and were alive in hiding.

3. began his reign by rewarding his friends. Lord Howard was made Duke of Norfolk and Earl Marshal and High Admiral, Buckingham Constable of England, Lord Berkley Earl of Nottingham, Lord Lovel Chamberlain, Warden of the Northern Marches. His


own son Edward, Earl of Salisbury, a boy of ten years old, he made Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, and Lieutenant of Ireland, and at (which he visited in great state), knighted him on the 8th September. [3]  But Buckingham was not satisfied with what he had got by his work; like Warwick he had made a king, and the king when made did not care to be ruled by him. When he claimed the earldom of Hereford, which had fallen into the crown, as the heir of the house of Bohun, refused it. Buckingham at once began treating with the Woodvilles and Greys, and with the remains of the old Lancastrian party, the Courtnays, Bishop Morton, and the friends of the exiled Earl of Richmond. At first their plan had been to rise for the little King But when it was bruited about that he and his brother were dead, by Morton's advice they determined to make Richmond king, and marry him to the Lady Bessy, eldest daughter of , so as to join the two houses of and Beaufort against . The Stanleys, who were now in high favour with the king again, held back, for though Lord Stanley would gladly have seen his wife's son on the throne, he did not care to risk his life and lordship to profit Buckingham, who would, of course, have become Richmond's chief minister. The secret of the plot was well kept. On the 18th October all the southern shires rose from to Devon; Buckingham set up the new king's banner at Brecknock, and marched down to the Severn; Richmond himself set sail from S. Malo for the south coast of England. took swift means to quell the rebellion. He proclaimed death to the leaders and pardon to their followers. He broke down the Severn bridges so as to stop Buckingham, and then hurried in person to the south-west to meet Richmond as soon as he should land. However, Richmond's fleet was driven north by a heavy gale, and when he found himself alone off Poole, he dared not risk the venture, and put back to Brittany. Buckingham was kept back by the rising of the Severn, which made the fords too deep to ride. The rebels in the south-west, left leaderless, scattered and went home. And when Buckingham found that he had failed, he too fled in disguise to the house of one of his servants named Bannister, who betrayed him to for a great price. In vain Buckingham prayed for an interview with the king, his head was struck off in Salisbury market-place. At did not even spare his own sister's husband, Sir Thomas St. Leger, but he forgave all the commonalty.

4. [4]  When he got back to London at Christmas a parliament was called, 23d January, which decreed 's title good, as well by right of blood and inheritance as by lawful choice, hallowing, and crowning, attainted the Duke of Buckingham, the Earls of Richmond and Pembroke, the Countess of Richmond, the Marquis of Dorset, and others. This parliament also passed many useful Acts touching law, trade, and tax-collecting; by the Statute of Fines it enabled men to make good against all the world their title to the lands they held, a matter of much moment at a time when so much land had passed by forfeiture and attainder from hand to hand; by the Statute of Uses it forbade secret conveyances of land, and made the person for whose use land was held by the king the real owner in the eye of the law ; by the article against it did away for ever with these new and unlawful inventions. The king also gave the clergy a charter at this parliament, confirming all the rights his brother granted them in .

also strove to make a fresh settlement for the crown, for when, in the midst of his success, his only son died, April , he adopted as his heir first Edward Earl of Warwick, the son of Clarence, and afterward John de la Pole, Earl of , another nephew. Anne, John's sister, he proposed to marry to the prince of Scotland by the treaty of Nottingham, September, when he made a truce with King James. The Scots were glad of this peace, for the English fleet had driven their cruisers off the four seas, and now that Albany (who had been sheltered and helped by when he quarrelled with his brother, and returned to England in ) had failed in the Raid of Lochmaben, and sought refuge in France, the English had no reasons for enmity with them. March 16, , 's wife Anne, who had been long ailing, died, and now he persuaded Elizabeth, the dowager-queen, to throw over the schemes of those who would have married her daughter Lady Bessy to Richmond, and promise her to himself-a plan which Lady Bessy herself, whatever she thought secretly, openly approved of. But many of 's best friends tried to dissuade him from it, and he at last had to contradict it to the London citizens. However, before the final steps could be taken to bring about the marriage, 's own end came. When Buckingham fell Lord Stanley became Constable of England, his brother Sir William Justiciar of North Wales, and Henry


Earl of Chamberlain. But whether they dreaded the craft of the king, or hoped to get even higher rewards from his successes, certain it is that they entered secretly into a second plot for setting Richmond on the throne. After getting assurances of their help, the young earl sailed from Harfleur, with some French ships, and some 3000 Norman soldiers aboard, and slipping past 's fleet, landed at Milford Haven August 7. , who had known of his coming, though he was not aware of the treachery of his ministers, had an army ready to meet him, and a large treasure raised by loans on pledge among his richer friends. He now issued a proclamation. in which he says that certain rebels and traitors, men of evil life, had come to attack England, having chosen for a captain

"one Harry Tydder of base descent :"

that these men had promised the King of France to give up all the English rights over Guienne, Anjou, and Normandy in return for his help to them; that they had shared among themselves the lordships of many of the clergy and nobles of England, and that they would surely take these, and overturn the laws of England and all men's rights if they could; that therefore he, , who would put himself to all labour and pain for the comfort and safety of his subjects, bade all men be ready in arms to resist the said rebels, enemies, and traitors.

5. [5]  The royal forces gathered at Leicester, Northumberland, and the northern lords and gentry from the north, Norfolk from the east, Brackenbury from the south-east, and Lovel from the south-west. But Lord Stanley, who led the men of Lancashire and Cheshire, delayed to come, saying that he was ill of the

"sweating sickness,"

an illness that was at that time raging in England. Doubting his excuse, seized his son Lord Strange, who confessed that he and his uncle Sir William and others had sworn to help Richmond, but held out that his father knew nothing of the plot. The king bade him write to his father that he must bring his men up at once, or his son should die. All the while was pushing for Leicester; on his road he was joined by Rees ap Thomas with his Welsh spearmen, by Sir Gilbert Talbot with the men of Shrewsbury, and by the friends of the Earl of and of Sir John Savage. But he agreed with Sir William Stanley, that, to save Lord Strange, the Stanleys should not come over openly to him till the day of battle. So they marched alongside of him a few miles off till the 21st August,


when they joined him at Atherston. Next morning the armies met at Redmore, near Bosworth. drew up his men with skill. Norfolk led his vanguard, he himself the main body, while lay on one wing. He had much artillery there, as the ballad says :-

"There were seven score serpentines [long cannon] without doubt,

locked and chained up in a row,

As many bombards [mortars] that were stout, like blasts of thunder they can blow,

Ten thousand morris pikes [long spears] withal, and harcbusiers [musketeers] that could throughly thring [shoot],

To make many a nobleman to fall, that stood against Richard that was our king."

When saw the and of the Stanleys ranged on Richmond's side, he bade his men behead Lord Strange at once. But Sir William Harrington pointed out that the vanguards were beginning to fight, and begged the king to wait till he had all the three Stanleys in his power, and judge them together. So the young man escaped death. The battle began hotly:-

"They encounter'd together sad and sair, archers let sharp arrows flee,

They shot guns both fell [fierce] and fair, bows of yew did bended be,

Then the archers let their shooting by, and joined weapons in the fight.

Brands rang on basnets [helmets] high, battle-axes fast on helms did light."

But the day went against , for , who was in the plot with Stanley, gave way before the Welsh, who fought under the dragon banner of Wales, and though Norfolk stood bravely, he was driven back and slain by the fierce rush of the

"white hoods"

of Savage, the Talbot


and the

"blue boars "

of :-

"Then a knight to King Richard gan say, good Sir William Harrington,

"Sir," said he, "all we to-day, to the death are like here to be done.

The Stanley strokes they are so strong, there may no man their blows abide,

Methinks ye tarry here too long, ye may come back at another tide.

Your horse at your hand is ready, another day ye may the worship win,

And reign in right and royalty, and keep your crown, and be our king!'

' Nay, give me my battle-axe in my hand, and the crown of England on my helm so high,

For by Him that made both sea and land, King of England this day I will die.

One foot I will never flee, whilst the breath is my heart within !"

As he said so did it be. If he lost his life he died a King."

For when he saw that the day was lost he spurred his steed, White , straight at the St. George standard of Richmond, crying, In his furious charge he cut down 's banner-bearer, Brandon, and unhorsed another strong knight. But he was almost alone, and before he could kill he was overpowered and slain. Lord Stanley picked up the crown which had been stricken from the fallen king's helmet, and had fallen in a hawthorn bush, and taking Richmond to a little hillock close by, set it on his head amid shouts of The body of was stripped and borne across a herald's horse, like a dead calf, to Leicester, where it was buried in the Grey Friars church. Brackenbury, Ratcliffe, Lord Ferrers, and Theobald, King 's standard-bearer (who clung to his banner when he could no longer stand for his wounds), died with their master. lost scarce one man of note.

was one of the most able kings that ever reigned in England, and so far as can be seen his rule deserves high praise. With all the talents and far more perseverance than his brother Edward, he took especial care of police, justice, and trade. The one parliament of his reign did more to better the laws than any since the death of He was never tired of looking into his subjects' grievances himself, and in redressing these he showed uprightness and kindliness. He had a higher sense of the royal honour than his brother, and he had been angry when had taken bribes from the French king at Peronne rather than fight for his claims on France. He had never changed sides like the

" false, fleeting, perjured Clarence,"

but had shown such a strong and unyielding party-feeling, that his foes set down to him the harshest measures that had been taken against the Red Rose. Whether he really did the deeds of which he is accused is not certain, but there is nothing in what is known of him to render his guilt unlikely. Unbounded selfishness and keen ambition, careful of the end but careless of the means to gain that end, appear in the character of many princes of his day, and might and often did exist along with the personal good-nature, gallantry,


generosity, high ability and outward strictness of life which undoubtedly showed. He was a persuasive speaker, a lover of music, and art, and learning, and delighted in rich clothes, shows, and ceremonies, though his own dress was simple and good. He was, like all his family, handsome of face, and in spite of having one shoulder slightly higher than the other, and the left arm weaker and smaller than the right, he is said by those who knew him to have been a singularly active, agile, and powerful man. In his plan of governing by men such as Catesby, Ratcliffe, and Lovel, whom he could put up and set down as he liked, in his determination to quell the turbulence of his nobles by strict laws against men keeping large numbers of armed retainers or making partisans by the giving of badges, in the plans of finance by which he strove to lighten the burdens of the merchant, yeoman, and artisan, he improved upon his brother's policy, and laid down the lines upon which the Tudors ruled England for sixscore years to the people's liking and their own good-fortune-yet he has left his own name to become a by-word and a reproach.


[1] Gloucester made Protector. The friend of the Queen over-thrown, May and June 1483.

[2] The Protector chosen King, 1483.

[] Richard III.

[3] Buckingham's rebellion and fall.

[4] Richard's plans and Stanley's treachery, 1485.

[5] Richard killed at Bosworth field, 22nd Aug. 1485. His character and rule.

[] [1485.

[] [1485-1487.]

  • In-text illustrations for this text are cataloged in MS004/002.001#DO01.
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