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Reign of Henry IV page 7

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The Earl of Northumberland, recovering from his illness, was far advanced in his march with a considerable body of men to join the main army, when he was met by the intelligence of the defeat and death of his son, and his brother, the Earl of Worcester. Completely dejected by this calamitous news, he disbanded his little army, and retired to his castle of Warkworth. Owen Glen-dower, from some cause, never appeared. No sooner was this destructive battle over than Henry marched northward to disperse any remains of disaffection or armed force. He acted with consummate policy, prohibiting his troops from plundering, and offering pardon to all concerned in the late rebellion who laid down their arms. The Earl of Northumberland hastened to avail himself of this lenity, and presented himself before Henry at York, who received him, as might be expected, with evident displeasure and reproaches for the perfidy of his conduct. It is said that the old earl was mean enough to declare that he never intended any disloyalty, but was marching his troops to join the royal army - a circumstance which, if true, would induce us to believe all that writers of the time have insinuated of the dubious character of the indisposition which prevented him appearing at the moment of action. Henry seems to have received his miserable plea with deserved contempt, and he retained him in honourable custody for judgment by the approaching Parliament. He then proceeded to issue orders for the arrest of the Lady Elizabeth, the widow of Hotspur, and compelled the knights of Northumberland to swear fealty to him.

When Parliament assembled, Northumberland presented his petition to the king, acknowledging his assembling his retainers, but pleading Henry's promise of pardon at York, on condition of his surrender. The king referred the decision of his case to the judges, but the lords claimed it as their right to try their brother peer; and many of them having been more or less involved in the recent league with him, they pronounced him not guilty of treason or felony, but only of trespasses, for which they adjudged him bound to pay a fine at the king's pleasure. He then swore fealty to Henry, to the Prince of Wales, and to the other sons of the king and their issue, whereupon Henry granted him;jjis pardon, and in a few months restored him to his lands and honours, with the exception of the Isle of Man, the governorship of Berwick, and some other fortresses.

Henry had thus quelled this dangerous rebellion with great spirit and address, but he was still surrounded by dangers; he still found himself pursued by all the evils and annoyances of a usurper. The French friends and families of the slain insurgents were full of animosity; the country complained of the weight of taxes imposed to put down these continual disturbances, the direct consequences of Henry's arbitrary seizure of the crown; and his enemies abroad were insulting the country, and plundering its coasts in revenge of his offences.

The French attacked Guienne, and plundered every English ship and every 'part of the English coasts that they could approach. They captured a whole fleet of merchantmen; they attacked and took Jersey and Guernsey; they made a descent on Plymouth, burnt it, and laid waste the whole neighbourhood. Walleran de St. Pol put his threat in force, of annoying and injuring Henry by every means in his power. He cruised along our coasts with a squadron of ships, landed on the Isle of Wight, and inflicted severe injuries on the inhabitants before he was repulsed. The admiral of Brittany scoured our coasts and the narrow seas, and carried off no less than fifty prizes, and nearly 2,000 prisoners. No less than three princes of the House of Bourbon were engaged in thus discharging on the people of England their vengeance for the crimes of their king.

Henry granted letters of marque to make reprisals, and the inhabitants of the English seaports associated and carried on a vigorous maritime warfare. They retaliated on the French, ravaged their coasts, burnt their towns, and often even penetrated into the interior. They brought several fleets, laden with wine and other valuable cargo, into the British ports. They burnt Pennareh and St. Mane. The Flemings and Easterlings, instigated by the Duke of Orleans and St. Pol, joined with the French in this piratical persecution of the English; and Henry sent out his second son, Thomas, afterwards Duke of Clarence, with a fleet, who committed great havoc on their coasts, destroying ships, people, and towns, without mercy. Thus did the people, as is too commonly the case, suffer for the crimes and feuds of their rulers.

To relieve the pressure of his wants, he made an attempt, through the Commons, to resume the grants of the Crown, and to appropriate some of the property of the Church; which resulted in nothing but exasperation of the minds of both laity and clergy. The widow of the Lord Spenser, who had been executed at Bristol, formed a scheme to liberate from Henry's custody the young Earl of Marche and his brother. She reached their apartments at Windsor by means of false keys, succeeded in getting them safely out of the castle, and was on her way with them towards Wales, where their uncle Mortimer was in close alliance with Glendower. But the vigilance of Henry was quickly aroused; the fugitives were pursued and captured. Lady Spenser, on being interrogated by the council, avowed that her brother, the Duke of York, the notorious Rutland, who betrayed everybody, and who had now succeeded his father in his title and estates, was at the bottom of the scheme. York was immediately arrested; but he protested his entire innocence, and, after a few months' confinement in the castle of Pevensey, he was released and restored to the full enjoyment of his rank and property.

Meantime Robert, King of Scotland, crushed by the murder of his eldest son, the Duke of Rothsay, and trembling for the fate of his second son, James, Earl of Carrick, still a boy of only fourteen years of age, was too much enfeebled by age and adversity to be able to contend with the wicked Albany, or find any means of security for his son at home, where that nobleman held unlimited sway. He. therefore agreed to place him in charge of the King of France, and the young prince, accompanied by the Earl of Orkney, Fleming of Cumbernauld, the Lords of Dirleton and Hermandston, and a strong body of the barons of the Lothians, proceeded to North Berwick, and embarked in a ship which awaited him at the Bass. The Earl of Orkney and a small personal suite alone accompanied him on the voyage, and as the truce was still existing with England, they had no apprehensions from that quarter. But they were already watched by the sleepless eyes of Henry of Lancaster, and when the vessel was off Flamborough Head, they were captured by an armed merchantman of Wye, and carried to London.

The Earl of Orkney presented a letter to Henry, written by Robert of Scotland, entreating him, should his son be compelled by stress of weather to put into an English port, to show him kindness. The earl added, that the young prince was on his way to France for the purpose of his education, and prayed that they might be permitted to pursue their way in peace and security. But Henry had not planned their capture on trivial grounds, and was not, therefore, to be persuaded to give up his prize by mere words. His interest was his paramount principle, and with that he rarely suffered feelings of justice or a sense of honour to interfere. The seizure of the son of a neighbouring king, at entire peace with him, was as gross a breach of the laws of nations as could be conceived; but then Henry had by it obtained a pledge of good behaviour on the part of Scotland. He had now the heir-apparent in his hands, and could employ that advantage in counteraction of the use made by Scotland of the pretended King Richard. Henry, therefore, merely replied to the entreaties of the attendants of the Scottish prince, that he would be perfectly safe with him; and that as to his education, he spoke French as well as the King of France or the Duke of Orleans; and that his father, in fact, could not have sent him to a better master. James and his suite were consigned to the safe keeping of the Tower. That nothing could be more agreeable to the Duke of Albany than to have the heir to the throne safely secured at a distance, was apparent to all the world, as it would leave him, in case of the king's death, regent, and all but king in name. So much was this felt, that many did not hesitate to declare the whole affair to have been planned between Albany and Henry; and the feeble public remonstrances of Albany confirmed this belief. Douglas, on the other hand, who would fain have had the young prince in his hands as a means of gratifying his own lust of power, and of curbing that of Albany, was so enraged at the conveyance of the Earl of Carrick out of the kingdom, that his son, James Douglas of Abercorn, attacked the party of nobles who had accompanied the prince, on their return from North Berwick, and at the moor of Lang-Hermandston slew Sir David Fleming, and took most of the other nobles prisoners. This disastrous termination of the scheme which Robert of Scotland had devised for the safety of his son, hastened his death, which took place in 1406, and Albany was appointed regent during the absence of the young prince, which he was not, therefore, likely to reduce by any very strenuous exertions of his own.

It might have been expected that Henry's decisive suppression of the Percy insurrection would have procured him some considerable interval of peace; but this was by no means the case. The Percies were on fire with resentment, and resolved to take revenge for their humiliation and the deaths of Hotspur and Worcester on the very first opportunity. The Earl of Nottingham, son of the Duke of Norfolk, and Scrope, the Archbishop of York, who, though they had remained passive while Hotspur was in the field, now did their best to fan the flame of revolt in the heart of the old earl. He had been compelled at the time of his pardon to sign an obligation to surrender into the hands of the king the castles of Berwick and Jedburgh, and was deprived of the offices of constable and warden of the marches.

Henry had called two great councils of barons and prelates at St. Albans, but found in them a spirit very uncompliant with his demands. Foremost in opposition and in denouncing the measures of the king was the Lord Bardolf. He soon found it safest to absent himself from court, and he therefore hastened north to the Earl of Northumberland, and added his overflowing discontent to that which was already effervescing in the bosoms of the earl and of his partisans. The insurgents took the field, but, as in all their attempts during this reign, without any concert. First appeared in arms Sir John Falconberg and three other knights in Cleveland, in May of 1405. They were immediately assaulted and dispersed by Prince John, the third son of King Henry, and the Earl of Westmoreland. Then the Archbishop of York and the Earl of Nottingham, more commonly called the Earl Mowbray, who also was earl marshal, with unexampled rashness appeared in arms without waiting for the forces of the Duke of Northumberland. They fixed on the doors of the churches in York and other places a defiance of the king, charging him with the same crimes and misdemeanors which were contained in the proclamation of Shrewsbury - perjury, usurpation, murder, extortion, and the like. They assembled 8,000 men at Skipton-on-the-Moor. The Prince and Earl of Westmoreland having defeated Falconberg's force, marched against them, and came up with them in the forest of Galtres on the 29th of May.

Finding that the forces of the insurgents exceeded their own, the Earl of Westmoreland proposed a friendly conference, which was acceded to. There the earl acted with an art not more remarkable than the simplicity of those on whom it was practised. The archbishop presented a list of grievances, which Westmoreland read and declared to be perfectly reasonable, and presenting, in his opinion, no difficulties but such as might readily be got over. The matters in dispute were discussed. Westmoreland approved of all that they suggested, conceded all their demands, and solemnly swore to procure the royal ratification of every condition.

Having thus amicably terminated their differences, the earl called for wine, which the negotiators partook of in sight of both armies. Westmoreland then proposed that they should embrace, in sign of amity, which also took place in view of the two armies. While they were thus drinking and embracing, the earl pleasantly suggested that, as they were now friends, there could be no necessity for keeping their armies assembled, and proposed that they should disband them all on the spot, let them know that peace was concluded, and allow every man to go home.

To this the Earl Mowbray made some objection; but the archbishop, who was sincerity and simplicity embodied, overruled his caution, and gave orders for the dismissal of their troops. No sooner was this done, and the army of the insurgents dispersing on all sides in confusion, than it was seen that the soldiers of the Crown remained stationary, having been duly instructed beforehand; and Westmoreland, throwing off the mask, arrested the archbishop, the earl marshal, and the other leaders who had come to the conference. This news reaching the insurgents, every one made the best of his way in flight for his own safety.

Henry was already on his way to support his son and Westmoreland. He had already arrived at Pontefract, and at that spot, so suggestive of his unrelenting disposition, the insurgent leaders, thus perfidiously entrapped, were brought before him. He ordered them to follow him to Bishopsthorpe, the palace of the primate, near York; as if, with a refinement of cruelty, he would make the fate which he designed for him the more bitter by inflicting it on the spot of his past greatness and authority. There he commanded the chief justice, Gascoigne, to pronounce on them sentence of death; but that upright and inflexible judge refused, declaring that he had no jurisdiction over either archbishop or earl, who must be tried by their peers. Sir William Fulthorpe was appointed on the spot Chief Justice of the King's Bench for the occasion; and this pliant tool, no doubt selected with full knowledge of his obsequious nature, called them at once before him, and, without any form of law, indictment, trial, or jury, condemned them to be beheaded as traitors; and the sentence was carried instantly into execution, with many circumstances of wanton and unworthy cruelty.

This was the first time that a prelate had suffered capital punishment in England. Prelates had been imprisoned-and punished by forfeiture and banishment, but no king had yet dared to put to death a bishop; and the circumstance did not pass without the Pope launching the thunders of excommunication against all persons concerned in this ominous innovation, though without especially naming the king. The archbishop, on hearing his sentence, protested that he never intended any evil to the person of Henry, and merely sought redress of grievances; but after having twice incited the insurgents to arms, and being believed to have written the last proclamation, if not that also at Shrewsbury, he was not likely to obtain credence. When afterwards the king called upon the House of Lords to record a judgment of high treason against the archbishop and the earl marshal, they demurred, and required the question to lie over till the next Parliament - a significant hint of their disapproval, which Henry was wise enough to take. The matter was never mentioned again.

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Pictures for Reign of Henry IV page 7

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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