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

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


CHAPTER VI: Henry VII 1485-1509

1.[1] 's first act was to send the Lady Bessy, his betrothed, and her cousin Edward of Warwick, Clarence's son, from the north, where they had been living in safe custody, to the Tower. He himself soon followed them to London, which he entered in great state amid much rejoicing on a Saturday, a day he always fancied brought him good fortune. But he was not able to be crowned for some weeks, because of the sweating sickness, which was raging very badly at the time in the city. After the coronation, when he made his father's brother Jasper Duke of Bedford, his step-father Stanley Earl of Derby, and his friend Sir Edward Courtnay Earl of Devon, he called a parliament. It met and reversed the attainders of the new king's mother, kinsmen, and friends, annulled the Acts which declared , , and usurpers and 's children base born, and passed a bill attainting King and his chief counsellors. It


was also settled

" that the inheritance of the crown should rest, remain, and abide in King

Henry VII.

and the heirs of his body,"

and both Houses prayed the new king to marry the Lady Elizabeth of . To this he agreed, and after proclaiming a pardon to all who had offended him, he wedded the Lady Bessy on the 18th January. Knowing that had been well liked in the north, he now resolved to follow his example and make a progress through his kingdom from London to , redressing grievances, and meeting all who wished to see him or speak with him. On the road he was annoyed by the first of the many risings which made his reign almost as troublesome as that of Lord Lovel broke out of sanctuary, raised a band of soldiers, and was about to waylay the king on his road, while the Staffords (cousins of the late Duke of Buckingham) seized Worcester. But Bedford and the northern levies scattered Lovel's men, though he himself escaped to Flanders to 's sister, the Duchess of Burgundy, 's deadliest foe. The Staffords were easily put down. In England the Yorkists were too disheartened by their late defeats to risk further misfortune; but in Ireland, where they had not suffered for the cause, and where the government was wholly in their, hands, there were many eager to strike another blow for the White Rose. The Fitzgeralds had been put into power by Richard of , and his son Richard, in , had named their head, the Earl of Kildare, Lord-Deputy for life. naturally leant towards the rival house, that of the Butlers, who were staunch Lancastrians; and though he dared not overthrow the Fitzgeralds, he at once sent over his uncle Jasper as Lord-Lieutenant to look after his interests. Kildare accordingly fell readily into a scheme formed at the court of Burgundy for the new king's overthrow.

2. In February there came to Waterford a priest, Richard Symons, with a handsome boy of ten years old, who he said was Edward of Warwick, son of Clarence, and heir of the English crown. They were welcomed and acknowledged by the Fitzgeralds, and the news sent to the Yorkists in England. John Earl of , who had his own claims to the crown, travelled secretly to Flanders, and thence, by the help of the duchess, soon sailed to Dublin with Lord Lovel and a number of trained arcbusiers under Martin Swart, a veteran captain. The plot was now ripe on May 5 ; the boy was crowned in Dublin Cathedral with a


circle of silver taken from the head of the Virgin's image, and borne through the streets after the Irish fashion on the shoulders of the chief of the Darcies. [2]  They then resolved to cross into England and attack King there, and on June 4 landed at Foudray. Meanwhile had made ready to resist his enemies; he brought the real Edward of Warwick out of the Tower, so that people might see for themselves that the boy the Irish crowned was a counterfeit; he levied troops, and he went a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Walsingham to pray for help in his troubles. The earls got as far south as Stoke, though their snowball did not gather as it went, and few Englishmen joined them. Here the king met them, and after three hours' hard fighting won the day. Martin Swart and his Kildare and his Irish gallow-glasses, and the English Yorkists, were all killed on the field. Lovel swam the Trent and reached his home, where he hid in a secret chamber underground for some time, till of wounds or want of food he died. The priest and the pretended Edward were taken. The former was sent to prison, but the latter pardoned and made a turnspit in his kitchen, whence he afterwards rose to be a falconer in the Royal Mews. It was found out that his real name was Lambert, and that he was the son of Thomas Simnel, organ-maker, of . He was taken and trained to act as he did, because the Yorkists feared that if they chose Edward as king while he was in 's hands, the king would at once put him to death; whereas, if they set up a false Edward (whom they could easily get rid of if they were able to overthrow ), the king would be obliged, in his own interest, to keep the true Edward alive, to show the people that he was not with the rebels. punished those whom he found to have been in the secret of the plot by heavy fines; and to show the Yorkists that he did not mean to persecute them, he had his queen crowned with much show of state, and sent to Ireland to pardon the Fitzgeralds on condition of their swearing to be faithful to him.

3. now busied himself with foreign affairs, and especially with those of Scotland and Brittany. With James III. of Scotland he was good friends, and there was even some talk of the Scottish king marrying Elizabeth, widow of , and of two of the Scottish princes wedding two of her unmarried daughters. But the Scottish nobles of the party of Albany rebelled, and seized the king's


eldest son (still a boy), pretending to be upholding his rights against his father's counsellors. [3]  On June 11, , the royal army was utterly defeated, and James III. killed as he fled from the battle. The new king was under the sway of men who disliked heartily, as was soon to be seen, but the old friends of James III., who took refuge in England, were always ready to forward the schemes of the English king, by whom they hoped to regain power some day in their own land. As for Brittany, Duke Francis was now old, and the young French king, , the Duke of Orleans, and Maximilian, King of the Romans, were all hoping to succeed to his heritage, since he had no heir-male. was called upon by both Francis and for help, but he did not wish to risk his troops abroad, or to spend money on other people's behalf. He therefore made the war a pretext for getting Parliament to give him a large subsidy, and sent Edward Earl Rivers with a few men to Brittany, promising further help later. But his craft overreached itself and brought him trouble, for the people in shire and Durham said openly that they had endured of late years a thousand miseries, and neither could nor would pay the subsidy. But the king answered them that he would not bate a penny of what had been granted him by Parliament. Thereupon they rose under Sir John Egremont and John a' Chamber and killed the Earl of , whom they hated both for his harshness to them in levying the tax and his treachery to their old favourite King . However, this rising was soon put down by Thomas, Earl of (son to the Duke of Norfolk, who died at Bosworth), who took and hanged John a' Chamber and many of his followers. In Brittany too things fell out ill, for the Bretons were badly beaten at S. Aubin, where Rivers was killed, and on Francis' death a few weeks later the French overran the greater part of his duchy. So angry were the English that was obliged to send an army under Sir Robert Willoby to Brittany to help the heiress Anne, and another under Lords d'Aubigny and Morley to Flanders to aid Maximilian.-At Dixmude the English archers gained a splendid victory, storming the French camp and killing 8000 men, for they would give no quarter, as their leader, the young Lord Morley, had been killed. One archer, John Pearson, who was lamed by a cannon-shot, shot his arrows as he lay till the Frenchmen fled, and then he cried to one of his fellows,


saying,At Niewport too they beat off the French Captain Descordes, who had said that he would be content to lie in hell seven years if he might win Calais from the English ! This battle brought about a peace between and Maximilian and Anne. But the King of the Romans was too laggard a lover to carry off his bride while he had the chance, and forced upon her a treaty by which she was to marry him instead, and promised to leave her domains to the King of France or his heir. This marriage took place in December , and Maximilian was doubly angered at it, for he not only lost his own bride, but his daughter Margaret, who had been betrothed to , lost her bridegroom. The English again called out for war, and raised large sums by Benevolences, in levying which Morton, 's Chancellor, gave those who should gather them the famous instructions that have since been known as his fork or crutch-to wit, if they saw any gentry sparing in their way of life, they should tell them that since they must be saving, they must needs have something to lend the king ; and if they met any that lived richly, they were to say that since they could afford to spend so much, they must be well able to help the king. With the money so got called out a great army and landed at Boulogne, October . But all his warlike show was merely meant to frighten into paying a good round sum for peace; and as soon as Lord d'Aubigny had got an offer of £127,666, closed with it, and blaming the delays of Maximilian for his own inaction, went home, as had done after the treaty of Peronne. He had indeed a foe to cope with more to be dreaded than , and it is possible that he was content with less money than he would otherwise have asked for that he might have his hands free to deal with this new danger.

4. [4]  In there landed at Cork from Portugal, a fairspoken, richly dressed youth, who said he was Richard Duke of , and prayed for help from the Earls of Kildare and Desmond, the chiefs of the Fitzgeralds. He alleged that he had been saved from the Tower when his brother, , was killed by King 's murderers, and that he was now come to claim his heritage. sent for him when he was at war with ", and treated him as the true prince; and at the French court manly outlawed and exiled


Yorkists drew to him. After the treaty of Boulogne sent him into Flanders to the Duchess Margaret, who acknowledged him as her nephew, did him all princely honour, calling him the White Rose of England, and giving him a guard of thirty halbardiers clad in murrey [mulberry red] and blue. published an account of the murder of the princes, drawn, as he said, from the confessions of the murderers, Dighton and Tyrrell, in order to prove that Richard was an impostor. He also sent spies to Ireland, Flanders, and France, to find out all he could both about the young man himself and those with whom he was in correspondence in England. Moreover, he bought over Sir Robert Clifford, who betrayed to him the names of many who had promised Richard help. He sent to Flanders too, and begged the Archduke Philip, Maximilian's son, to turn the young man out of his domains; and upon his answer that the dowager-duchess could do as she liked in her own land, banished all the Flemings from England, and moved the regular mart or staple of the English wool trade from Antwerp to Calais, which was a great blow to the trade of the Low Countries. He then dealt his first stroke at the new ist party by arresting Lord Fitzwalter and several northern gentlemen and clergymen, who were tried, condemned, and, save Fitzwalter himself and three others, pardoned. To Ireland he sent pardons as before (for the Archbishop of Dublin and the Earl of Desmond had agreed to join Richard), and he took care for the better government of that country, by sending his trusty minister, Sir Edward Poynings, as deputy. Sir Edward sent Gerald Earl of Kildare over to England, to be examined by the Council, who were satisfied of his innocence. He also got the Irish Parliament to pass the Acts known as Poyning's Laws, by which the Acts of the English Parliament were of force in Ireland, and the Irish Parliament was forbidden to pass any Acts that should not be approved of by the Privy Council. These Acts made future Irish parliaments depend almost wholly upon the English government of the day. The king now made his second son Duke of , showing thereby his contempt of the claims of Richard. After the Christmas feasts were over the court moved to the Tower, and there, early in January, Sir Robert Clifford came to beg his pardon of the king, and to accuse Sir William Stanley, the Lord Chamberlain, of treason. He was at once arrested, confessed his guilt, and in February executed. It was said that the first thing that led Stanley


-who had been the chief person in gaining the king his crown-to wish to overthrow him, was the king's refusal to make him Earl of Chester, a title he kept for his own eldest son Arthur. By Stanley's death got £ 40,000 (the plunder of Bosworth), besides great estates that had once belonged to his old friend the Duke of Buckingham. The Parliament which held in the year was one of the most eventful of his reign. It passed an Act by which no one who served the king for the time being, whether he be the lawful king or no, shall be liable to be attainted as a traitor, or suffer any vexatious trouble or loss (a very welcome law to those who had been in any former king's service). It allowed persons too poor to buy writs to have them freely without fee. It ordered that judges should have power to fine jurymen giving untrue verdicts. The royal household was to cost no more than £12,000 a year. At last Richard sailed from Flanders, and landed a party of men at Deal. Here the Mayor of Sandwich and the Sheriff of fell upon them and took some eightscore, who were sent to London, railed in ropes like a team of cart-horses, to be hanged and set on gibbets along the coast of , for a warning to their friends. Richard himself sailed on to Ireland, and, being joined by many of the Fitzgeralds, laid siege to Waterford (a town with whom they had a long-standing feud), but in vain; so that being invited by King James IV. he thought best to go to him, hoping to get better help than he could look for in Ireland.

James not only received Richard well, but made a league with him, gave him his own cousin Catherine Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Huntly, to wife, and in invaded England on his behalf. A proclamation was put forth in the name of Richard the Fourth, King of England, declaring a usurper, and offering a reward of L1000 for his head, accusing him of putting to death Richard's true subjects, and governing by means of Bishop Fox, Simpson, and

" such other caitiffs and villains born,"

and promising that the King of Scots would go back without reward as soon as was overthrown. But after wasting Northumberland, a course against which Richard protested, the Scots were forced to retire, for no one would join them, and they were afraid to risk a pitched battle. , however, did not spare pains to forestall a fourth invasion. He made a treaty with the Archduke of Flanders, known as the Magnus Intercursus, by which trade was to be resumed, and each side agreed to expel rebels against the


other taking refuge in their domains, thus closing a refuge against Richard. He also got Parliament to give him a fresh subsidy of £120,000 to make the north safe against Scottish attacks. But this tax was resisted in Cornwall by the people, who were told by Michæl Joseph, the farrier of Bodmin, and Thomas Flammock, a lawyer, that they were not bound to be taxed for the northern counties, whose need should be met by scutage and the other feudal dues. This encouraged them to rise and march to London to punish Archbishop Morton, who laid on this tax. So, armed with bills, bows, and clubs, they marched in good order to under Lord Audley, Michæl, and Thomas, and camped on Blackheath. sent to guard the north, and himself, with the Earls of , Essex, and Suffolk, and Lord d'Aubigny, made ready to defend London. June 17th, , after some desperate fighting-for the Cornishmen were famed for their strength and skill in archery, and it was noted after the fight that their arrows were some inches longer than those of the royal soldiers-d'Aubigny won the day for the king, killing 2000 rebels, and taking Lord Audley, Michæl, and Thomas prisoners. These three were executed in London, and the rest pardoned. on his side drove back the Scottish host, and carried the war into Scotland. So that James was not unwilling to make peace and send Richard away. Accordingly in July, Richard, with his wife and a few faithful followers, set out for Ireland in ships which James had given him. From here, urged by his counsellor lawyer Ashley, he crossed to Cornwall, where the late rising showed how little was loved, and being well received there, led about 3000 men to beset . But the king's friends now gathered in numbers against him, so he resolved to leave , which he could not take, and march on to the east. At Taunton his army, 7000 strong, faced the royal troops; but at midnight, before the battle, his heart failed him, and he fled secretly to Bewley, where he took sanctuary. His followers, left to their fate, disbanded. The king forgave the Cornishmen, after punishing them with heavy fines; the townsmen of he rewarded and thanked, giving the mayor his own sword as a token of his esteem. Richard's wife was taken at St. Michæl's Mount, and , touched by her beauty and faithfulness, made her lady-in-waiting to his own queen. Richard himself was lured from Bewley on promise of his life being spared, and brought in the king's train to London, where he abode as


an honoured prisoner at the court, kindly treated but carefully watched. A confession was published, in which he was made to say that his real name was Piers Wosbeck, son of John of Wosbeck and Catherine of Faro, his wife, citizens of Tournay, that he had lived in company with Englishmen at Antwerp and other towns in the Low Countries, whence he had gone to Portugal and taken service with Sir Piers Vacz da Cunha, and finally came with a Breton, Pregent Meno, to Cork, where he was persuaded to call himself the Duke of . Next year, , Richard fled from the court, but finding the roads all guarded, took sanctuary at ; but the king again agreed to spare his life, and he again yielded himself. He was now imprisoned in the Tower. Here he met Edward of Warwick, Clarence's son, with whom he was accused soon afterwards of plotting to seize the Tower and overthrow the king, and upon this charge they were tried, condemned, and put to death, November . But many said that it was not their guilt that brought them to their end, but the wish had to marry his son Arthur to Katherine, daughter of the King of Naples and Aragon, who would not consent to the wedding

"as long as a doubtful drop of royal blood remained in England."

However this may be, it is noteworthy that the brothers of the late Earl of (Richard III.'s heir), now the last living male stocks of the White Rose-Edmund de la Pole and his brother Richard fled from England in . A wise step, as was shown by the execution of many of their friends and kinsmen in , and the attainder of themselves and their friend William Courtnay, Earl of Devon, husband of Catherine, Edward IV.'s daughter, in . Yet it could not save them altogether.

5. [5]  At the end of the year , according to an agreement come to at an interview between and the Archduke at Calais in , Prince Arthur married Katherine of Aragon, and a year later his sister went to Scotland to be the wife of James IV. When Arthur (who is said to have been a youth of great gifts) died, April 2, , got the Pope's leave to betroth his widow, Katherine, to his second son, Duke of , who was now made Prince of Wales. In had lost his old friend Archbishop Morton, who had done more than any man to bring about the reunion of the Two Roses. He was not a popular man, however, for he had offended the people by the benevolences and


taxes he advised his master to raise, and he made the monks angry by an inspection he made of the minsters and convents, where indeed he found much that needed correction and reform. 's wife did not long outlive her son, dying in . And now that he had overcome nearly all his difficulties, the king's own health began to fail, growing worse and worse till his death. Yet he did not withdraw from business, but employed himself in treaties with foreign princes abroad, and in gathering treasures at home. In he got Pope , who had sent him a sword and cap of honour, to lessen the privileges of sanctuary, which had little by little become a stumbling block in the path of justice, whereby offenders too often escaped the rightful punishment of their crimes. In another busy Parliament met, in which large grants were made to the king; corporations, guilds, and fellowships were forbidden to make by-laws without the assent of the Chancellor or justices; maintenance and giving of liveries and badges were ordered to be judged in the Council or by the King's Bench. In , as the King of Castile, the Archduke, was passing Dover Channel with his wife Joan, they were driven into Falmouth by stress of weather. at once bid them to his court, and they were not able to refuse.

"Two miles out of Windsor they met, and




in the goodliest manner, and each of them embraced the other in his arms. To show you the King of England's apparel, thus it was:-His horse of bay trapped with needlework, a gown of purple velvet, a chain with a George of diamonds, and a hood of purple velvet, which he put not off at the meeting of the said

King of Castile

. His hat and his bonnet he availed [took off], and the

King of Castile

in like case. And the

King of Castile

rode upon a sorrel hobby [hackney] which the king gave him. His apparel was all black, a gown of black velvet, a black hood, a black hat, and his horse harness of black velvet."

But though treated with such courtesy, holding feasts in his honour, making him Knight of the Garter and the like, he would not let him go till he had promised (1) to give him his sister Margaret of Savoy in marriage; (2) to marry his eldest son Charles to 's daughter Mary; (3) to seal a treaty of commerce so favourable to the English merchants and fishermen, and so unwelcome to the Flemings, that it was called by them the ; (4) to give up Edward and Richard de la Pole on condition of their lives being spared. Richard fled to Hungary, but Edward was


sent to England, and not till he arrived was allowed to go on his way. died before received Margaret as bride, and the English king thereupon gave up this match, and sought to wed Joan Queen of Castile, 's widow, although she was mad. The marriage between and Mary also fell through, though there was much time spent in bargaining over it by the king's agents abroad. At home worked chiefly through two of his councillors, Robert Dudley, a Warwickshire squire, and Richard Empson, the son of a sievemaker. Bold men, careless of scorn, hated by the people as the king's

"horse-leeches and skin-shearers,"

they busied themselves in filling the treasury and their own pockets, by making men pay heavy fees for the privilege of being tried; by extorting large sums for charters of pardon; by fining jurymen for their sentences; by setting men (whom the people nick-named promoters and questmongers) to seek out those who had broken the laws in petty ways, and either frighten them into paying highly to be let off, or condemn them without mercy to excessive fines; by making corporations and guilds give enormous sums to allow their privileges and by-laws to stand. By which unjust doings the king, at his death, had more than £1,800,000 gathered in secret places under his own key. Twice when he felt ill and near his end, he showed that he knew of the evil ways by which his servants had amassed money for him, for he ordered the petty debtors who filled the prisons to be set free, and bade the judges hear complaints against his councillors. And on his deathbed he wished what he had unjustly gotten to be given back, but as long as he was well he did not check the wickedness going on in his name. On April 22, , he died at Richmond, in the palace he had built. He lies in the fair chapel he made for his tomb in Westminster Abbey.

An exile or a prisoner from the age of five till he won his crown, grew up serious, silent, suspicious, and reserved, neither hating nor loving, but using his fellow-creatures with no closer care than his own well-being, no deeper religion than a regard for his own soul. He is described as of middle height, spare built, with a long pale face, grey eyes, dark brown hair, and a red wart on the right cheek. He loved fine clothes and glittering pageants. In his search for wealth, it is worth noting that he risked a little money in sending Sebastian Gabato on a voyage to the New World.


[1] Henry crowned and married, 1485-1486.

[] [1487-1491.]

[2] The Lambert Simnel rebellion crushed at Stoke, June 15, 1487.

[3] Henry's treaties and wars abroad, 1487-1492.

[] [1491-1494.]

[4] The rebellion of Richard or Perkin, 1492-1499.

[] [1495-1497.]

[] [1499-1504.]

[5] Henry's schemes at home and abroad, 1501-9.

[] [1509.

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