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Reign of Henry IV page 4


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The remainder of the year was spent in negotiations for the return of Queen Isabella to France. This return had hitherto been delayed by the anxiety of Henry still to obtain her for his son the Prince of Wales; but Isabella, as well as her relatives, is said to have stood firm not to listen to any alliance with the family of her husband's murderer. In the following year, 1401, Henry concluded a treaty of marriage between Louis of Bavaria, the eldest son of the Emperor of Germany, and his eldest daughter, the Princess Blanche, to whom he gave a portion of 40,000 nobles.

This done, Henry marched once more against the Welsh, who continued to assemble in still greater bodies under the banner of Owen Glendower, and make inroads into England, plundering and killing wherever they came. Twice in this year Henry took the field against them, but on his approach they retired into their mountains and eluded his pursuit. As regularly as he returned, they again rushed down into the champaign country, and in one of these incursions in Pembrokeshire, Owen gained a considerable victory, thus raising his reputation and augmenting his force.

Wearied by these fruitless attempts to subdue the insurgent Welsh, Henry returned towards the end of the year to London, but found as little repose or satisfaction there. Secret enemies were around him, treason dogged his steps into his very chamber, and he was very near losing his life by means of a sharp instrument of steel, having three long points, which was concealed in his bed.

In 1402 Henry was at length reluctantly obliged to relax his hold on the young Queen Isabella. When Charles VI., her father, recovered his sanity for a time, he sent the Count d'Albret into England to demand an interview with Isabella, in order to ascertain the real condition in which she was kept, and to demand her release with her dower and jewels, according to the marriage contract with Richard. The ambassador found the king at Eltham, who received him and his suite with great hospitality, gave ready access to the young queen on condition that neither the ambassador nor any one accompanying him should speak of Richard of Bordeaux to her. He declared that she should possess the most perfect security and every comfort, state, and dignity which was due to her rank and position; but he did not seem the more prepared to yield up the desired princess. His council, however, ventured to take a different view of the matter. They suggested that as no accommodation respecting her marriage with the prince could be effected, it was time that she should be given up to her friends. That as she was but of tender age, she could not of right claim revenue as a queen dowager of England, but that it was fitting that she should receive back again her dowry and her jewels, with all the other effects which she brought With her.

On this point Henry demurred, and submitted to the council whether he were really bound by the engagements of his predecessor. The council, with an evidently growing firmness, decided that he was. But Henry pleaded another difficulty. He had, it came out, actually taken possession of the young queen's jewels, and distributed them amongst his six children; the Prince of Wales, though he could not have the lady, being consoled with the largest share of her spoils. Henry announced to his council that his children were all absent, but that he had written to them commanding them to give up the jewels of "their dear cousin, Queen Isabella," and they were to be sent to London.

If the poor young queen waited for them she waited in vain; for we find that she actually was compelled to take her leave stripped of everything except her silver drinking cup, a few silver saucers and dishes, and some pieces of old tapestry. Nothing in the whole reign of Henry is more characteristic of the grasping and unjust nature of the man, even in such small matters as a lady's jewels, finding in himself no capability of arousing a generous feeling within him. He was pre-eminently of a cold, unimpassioned, acquisitive nature. He excused himself from making restitution of her dowry on the plea of a great debt still owed by France to this country for the ransom of King John, and deducted the amount as a great favour, and with all the punctual scrupulosity of a scrivener. But the jewels were never returned or accounted for, as we shall presently hear from her indignant kinsmen.

In other respects the unfortunate and amiable young queen seems to have been sent home with all due state and respect. She was, accompanied from her residence, Havering-atte-Bower, to London, by the Duchess of Ireland and the Countess of Hereford, the mother of the Duchess of Gloucester, and by Eleanor Holland, the widow of Roger, Earl of Marche, and mother of the young earl, the rightful heir of England. Besides these princesses there were the Ladies Poynings and Mowbray, and seven maids of honour, in- addition to her own suite of French gentlemen and ladies. She was escorted by the Bishops of Durham and Hereford, the Earl of Somerset, half-brother of Henry, four knights bannerets, and six chevaliers.

It is said that still Henry was most unwilling to let her go, and that both he and his son did all in their power to bend her inclination, but in vain. At length, in July, Sir Thomas Percy was appointed to conduct her across the Channel, and deliver her into the hands of her friends. This took place at Leulinghen, a town betwixt Calais and Boulogne, on the 26th of July, 1402. Isabella was at this time nearly fifteen, strikingly handsome, and extremely amiable. Every one is said to have parted from her with regret, and, on the other hand, she was received by her royal relatives and countrymen with an enthusiasm which probably had as much design as affection in it, for they wished to mark the contrast between the sordid behaviour of Henry and their own. She was overwhelmed with rich presents, as if to make amends for the widowed destitution in which she returned, and her uncle, the Duke of Orleans, who was anxious to secure her for his son, outdid every one else in his liberality. He was not satisfied with this, but sent a letter to Henry, upbraiding him in the severest terms for his meanness, for his murder of Richard, and challenging him to mortal combat. This was not the only epistle which Henry received from France in the same strain, for the Count Walleran de Ligny and St. Pol had written to him before the queen arrived, and sent his heralds with his letter into England, also defying him, and protesting that he would everywhere, on land and sea, do him all the harm that he possibly could.

Henry was stung to answer these missives in a similar strain, but they did not prevent him still cherishing the idea of yet securing Isabella for his son. In 1406, if we are to believe Monstrellet, he made singular offers for this purpose, but the Duke of Orleans declared in the council that the hand of Isabella was now promised to his son, Charles of Angouleme. To this young prince the widowed queen of England was married, and died in childbirth in September, 1410. Such was the last of the fortunes of King Richard and his little queen; and it has been well argued that nothing is so decisive in proof of Richard being actually dead as the pertinacity of Henry to obtain Isabella for his son's wife, as he certainly would not have done this had he known that Richard was living, for it would have illegitimatised the issue of the marriage, and the claim of succession to the throne.

Meantime the revolt of Owen Glendower had been acquiring strength. Not only did the Welsh, amid their native mountains, flock to his standard, but such of them as were in England left their various employments and hastened back to join in the great efforts for the independence of their country. Not only labourers and artisans, but the apprentices in London and other cities caught the contagion, and went streaming back. The students left the universities, and the Commons at length presented themselves before the king, representing to him how all these various classes of men were hastening to Wales laden with armour, arrows, bows, and swords. Owen took the field early, engaged his original adversary, Lord Grey, defeated and made him prisoner on the banks of the Vurnway. Sir Edmund Mortimer, uncle to the young Earl of Marche, collected all the friends and vassals of the family to prevent the devastation of their lands. They mustered 12,000, with whom they attacked Glendower near Knighton, in Radnorshire, but were defeated, and Sir Edmund was made prisoner, with a loss of 1,100 of his men. At the same time the young earl himself, who had been allowed by Henry to retire to his castle of Wigmore, though a mere boy, took the field, but was also captured by Glendower and carried into the mountains.

Henry, who had the strongest reasons for wishing the Mortimers out of his way, we may suppose was by no means displeased at their seizure by Glendower; and this was sufficiently evident, for he refused to allow the Earl of Northumberland, who was closely allied to the Mortimers, to treat for their ransom with Glendower. Still, Henry put forth all his vigour to reduce the Welsh chieftain. He entered Wales at three different points; his son, the Prince of Wales, leading one division of the army, the Earl of Arundel the second, and himself the third. The Prince of Wales pushed into the heart of the mountains with a bravery which was the herald of Agincourt. He reached the very estate of Glendower and burnt down his house, and laid waste his property; but Glendower kept aloof on the hills till he saw young Henry retire, when he poured down like one of his native torrents, and carried desolation in his rear. The English armies found it impossible to come to close quarters with these enemies, and equally impossible to procure provisions. The weather was insupportable. The rains descended in incessant deluges, the tempest tore away the king's tent, and everything appeared to confirm the ideas of the people, and indeed of contemporary historians, that Owen Glendower, by the power of necromancy, could "call spirits from the vasty deep," and bring the elements in league against his foes. Henry was compelled to return baffled from the contest.

The news which reached the king from Scotland was equally extraordinary. It was that King Richard was alive and residing at the Scottish court, and about to invade England at the head of a large army. The king issued repeated proclamations against the propagation of these rumours, and it was now that he put to death Sir Roger Clarendon, the natural son of the Black Prince, the nine Franciscan friars, and several other persons, for disseminating this account. But his efforts only added force to the popular belief. The circumstance most in his favour was the distraction of the Scottish court, where a most terrible tragedy had been the consequence of the criminal ambition of the Duke of Albany, the king's brother.

Robert III. had never been a martial monarch, owing to a kick which he received in his youth from a horse, which left him very lame. He was of peaceful habits, a religious and just temperament, but of feeble mind, and readily influenced by those around him. His aspiring brother, the Duke of Albany, had taken advantage of these circumstances to grasp the whole power of the state in his hands.

David, the Duke of Rothsay, the eldest son of Robert, was, like the son of Henry in England, gay and dissipated. He was at the same time brave, generous, and honourable, and, therefore, the more liable to be entrapped by the crafty arts of Albany. The king and queen were anxious to have their son well married, but Albany prevailed on them to select a wife from a Scottish house which would pay the largest dower. On this disgraceful principle he sought to degrade the prince, and make him enemies. He succeeded completely. George, Earl of March - not the English Marche - made the most ample offer for the honour of this connection with royalty. The prince was said to have his own attachment, but that was by no means consulted. When, however, the match was arranged with the daughter of the Earl of March, Archibald, Earl of Douglas, the most powerful and overbearing baron in Scotland, felt himself aggrieved, and determined to place his own daughter, as Rothsay's wife, on the throne. Earl James, his predecessor, had married the king's sister, and he was resolved that no subject but himself should hold the same relation to the crown. He outbade March, the Duke of Albany gave him the preference, the alliance already arranged was broken off with March, and Mariell Douglas was married to Rothsay.

It was not to be expected that such a marriage should be an auspicious one. Rothsay loved another, and not only hated but despised his wife, who is said to have been at once plain and hard, with all the towering pride of her family. Rothsay not only neglected but ridiculed her amongst his dissolute companions. The injury sunk deep in the minds of the younger Douglases, and was not to be forgiven. All this was so much gain to the plans of the base Albany, who had long determined at any cost to clear Rothsay out of his own path to the throne. For some time the impediments to this murderous career were too great. The queen had for her advisers the old Earl of Douglas, Archibald the Grim, and Trail, the Archbishop of St. Andrews. By their united authority and counsels they restrained both the wildness of Rothsay and the ambitious schemes of Albany. But after the death of these three beneficent guardians, with whom, says Fordun, it was commonly said through the land, that the glory and honesty of Scotland were buried, the Duke of Rothsay plunged once more into his excesses, and it was advised by Albany that he should be put under some degree of restraint. In an evil hour the old king listened to this, and the fate of Rothsay was sealed.

Amongst the duke's companions was a Sir John Ramorgny, the most accomplished villain of his time. His education was of the most complete character for the age, for it seems he had been originally intended for the Church, but the profligacy and reckless spirit of his youth had disqualified him, and he had become first a soldier and then a diplomatist. His handsome person, his fascinating manners, the insinuating address and grace of his demeanour, which covered no single spark of conscience or principle, peculiarly fitted him to be the supple tool of princes. He was accordingly employed by Albany in state negotiations, both at home and abroad.

This man was just the person to attract the attention of the young Rothsay. He could inform him of all the life and follies of foreign courts, and introduce him to the most criminal pleasures of his own capital. Rothsay, with his openness of character, did not for a moment conceal his hatred of Albany, and Ramorgny, with the utmost coolness, advised him to have him assassinated. From this diabolical counsel Rothsay, who, however misguided, was honourable by nature, revolted in horror, and heaped such terms of abhorrence on his adviser, that Ramorgny, stung with all the resentment of a fiend, and incapable of the remorse of a man, conceived the most deadly hatred to the young duke, betrayed his conversations to Albany, and lent himself to assist in his destruction.

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Pictures for Reign of Henry IV page 4

Henry IV
Henry IV >>>>
Great Seal of Henry IV
Great Seal of Henry IV >>>>
Owen Glendower's Oak
Owen Glendower's Oak >>>>
The Return of the Douglas
The Return of the Douglas >>>>
Restoration of Isabella to her Father
Restoration of Isabella to her Father >>>>
The Field of the Battle of Shrewsbury
The Field of the Battle of Shrewsbury >>>>
The French Fleet reaching Milford Haven
The French Fleet reaching Milford Haven >>>>
Execution of the Archbishop of York
Execution of the Archbishop of York >>>>
Judge Gascoigne
Judge Gascoigne >>>>
Dukes of Burgundy and Orleans
Dukes of Burgundy and Orleans >>>>
Owen Glendower
Owen Glendower >>>>
Judge Gascoigne and Prince Henry
Judge Gascoigne and Prince Henry >>>>
Tomb of Henry IV
Tomb of Henry IV >>>>

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