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Reign of Henry IV page 8


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Henry punished the city of York for "its disposition to support the views of the archbishop, by depriving it of its franchises, and then, at the head of 37,000 men, marched in pursuit of the Earl of Northumberland and Lord Bardolf. Northumberland had delayed his demonstration this time to secure the assistance of Albany, the regent of Scotland, and aid from France. He had readily formed an alliance with Albany, but failed in procuring any support from the French court. As Henry advanced north, Northumberland retired. Henry took successive possession of the duke's castles of Prudhoe, Warkworth, and Alnwick; and as he drew near Berwick, Northumberland, who never showed much courage, surrendered it into the hands of the Scots, and fell back still further on his Scottish allies. The Scots themselves, not thinking the town tenable against Henry's forces, set it on fire and deserted it. The castle alone appeared disposed to make resistance; Hut the shot of an enormous cannon having shattered one of the towers, it opened its gates; and the son of the Baron of Gray stock, with the six principal officers, were immediately executed. Henry turned southward victorious, and at Pontefract - which no thoughts of the murder he was charged with committing prevented his visiting - he conferred upon his queen the several great estates of the Earl of Northumberland and Lord Bardolf.

Henry now marched to Wales, whither he had sent his son, Prince Henry, in the spring. That gallant young prince, who had acquired such renown on the field of Shrewsbury, had pursued Glendower into his fortresses, with all the ardour and impetuosity of youth. For some time that artful general eluded his attacks, and set him at defiance by a variety of stratagems, but in the month of March he had obtained a signal victory over the Welsh at Grosmont, in Monmouthshire, and taken Griffin, the son of Glendower, who commanded, prisoner. He next laid siege to Lampeter Castle, in Cardiganshire, and after a long siege reduced it. But now the French appeared upon the scene with a force of 12,000 men, if we are to credit Otter burn.

Glendower, finding his power gradually undermined by the efforts of Henry and his valiant son, had applied to the French, or, as some writers assert, had gone in person to solicit the aid of France. That country at the time was in a deplorable state of misgovernment. The malady of Charles VI. had reduced him to a condition of absolute imbecility. The powerful Duke of Burgundy was dead, and the dissolute Orleans, living in open adultery with the queen, had usurped the whole powers of the state. As Albany was in Scotland, so was Orleans in France. Hating Henry with an inveterate hatred, he readily promised Glendower his assistance. A fleet was fitted out and entrusted to the Count of La Marche, a gay young prince of the royal family, but engrossed in pleasures and gaieties, It was so late in the year when this courtly admiral reached his fleet at Brest, that his most sensible followers refused to venture to sea; and with a fragment of his force La Marche made an abortive descent on the English coast at Falmouth.

In the spring of 1405, however, a fresh fleet, assembled by the resolute Orleans, reached Wales, and debarked at Milford Haven. The fleet consisted of 120 ships, and had taken on board a great number of cavalry horses, which, however, had nearly all perished during the stormy passage; and no sooner was the fleet moored than the squadron of the Cinque Ports sailed in after it, and burnt fifteen ships. It, moreover, cut off all supplies by sea, and soon after succeeded in capturing a portion of the French transports bringing ammunition and provisions.

The French army was commanded by the Count Montmorency, Marshal of Rieux, and the Sire de Hugueville, grand master of the arbalisters. They marched to Haver-fordwest, and burnt the town, but suffered great loss in attempting to take the castle, and were repulsed. They next advanced to Caermarthen, laying the country waste as they went; they took Caermarthen, and there were joined by Owen Grlendower with a force of 10,000 men. This united force took its way towards England, and Prince Henry, being in possession of an inferior force, was compelled to avoid an engagement,

It was this which had made Henry hasten his march from the north. Before setting oat, he granted the Isle of Man, forfeited by the Earl of Northumberland, to Sir William Stanley, in whose family it continued till the reign of Elizabeth. On reaching Hereford the king was compelled to issue a proclamation representing that the kingdom was in great danger from the junction of the French and the Welsh; that his finances were totally exhausted; and that the tenths and fifteenths granted by Parliament could not be levied till Martinmas. He, therefore, commanded the sheriffs of all the neighbouring counties to summon before them the richest men of their several shires, and prevail upon them to advance money on the credit of the taxes already voted.

To such extremity was Henry IV. reduced, in one of the most critical epochs of his troubled reign; and this total want of means for paying and feeding his army delayed him so long, that it was not till late in the year that he came face to face with the invaders. They had aow reached the very gates of Worcester, and menaced that town. Henry having united his forces with those of his son, now advanced upon the enemy, who were posted on a considerable hill, and took up his position on an opposite height. For eight days the two armies lay with a deep valley between them, neither of them willing to risk the loss of its vantage ground, and give battle under the unequal circumstances. There were occasional skirmishes, and three of the French lords were slain, including the brother of the marshal.

At length the Welsh and French beat a retreat into Wales, and Henry pursued them; but having reached their marshes and mountains, they turned upon the king's forces when they had, in their ardour, advanced incautiously amongst them, and inflicted great loss upon them, taking or destroying fifty of his wagons, containing the most valuable portion of his baggage. It was now the middle of October; the season was such as all the world then believed to be at the command of Glendower - tempestuous and incessantly raining. The roads became impassable, provisions were unattainable, and the king was heartily glad to draw off his army. Nor were the French less delighted to quit the country of the great necromancer, where they reaped more labours than laurels; and soon after they embarked and sailed back to France.

Freed for a moment from his anxiety, by the retreat of the Welsh and their allies, Henry turned his attention to the Earl of Northumberland and Lord Bardolf, who were still in Scotland. Knowing the secret disposition of Albany to encourage seditious enterprises against England, which was only kept in check by Henry holding the young King James in his hands, ready at any favourable moment to put him forward against him, he was by no means easy at the abode of those noblemen in that country.

For more than two years those noblemen had maintained their liberty in exile, wandering from place to place, to avoid the incessant arts and efforts of Henry to obtain possession of their persons. Sometimes they were soliciting aid from the Scots, sometimes from the Welsh, to renew their attempt to overturn the usurper. Henry was always on the watch to seize some advantage over them, and they were equally vigilant to inflict some injury on his troops or government. They did not neglect an endeavour to obtain an interview with the pretended Richard in Stirling Castle, and Albany would have been a bad tactician if he had openly refused them this. Nothing can be more obvious than that, if the Scottish Government really were in possession of the person of Richard, they would have taken care to show him to the numbers of English exiles always at that court, that they might be perfectly satisfied of the fact. No such means of placing this question on an unquestionable basis ever appears to have been used, though both French and English had taken pains to satisfy themselves on this head.

The French, when it was first rumoured that Richard had escaped, received the news with general delight. They formed plans for his restoration; they were ready to make a descent on England with a large army to support his cause; and the bravest knights vowed to peril their lives and fortunes in defence of the rights of Richard and Isabella.

But they were puzzled by the very natural circumstance that Richard, if alive, and at liberty in Scotland, sent no message to his wife, or her father and friends. Why was this? Why did he seek no means to regain his throne? Why did he hold no communication with his faithful adherents? Why not give his friends the satisfaction and the strength of an unmistakable assurance of his existence? To decide this question they resolved to send over a trustworthy agent. Creton, the former page of Richard, who had accompanied him to Ireland, and was taken prisoner with him in Wales, had recently written a poem on the wrongs and sufferings of his master. The French Court selected Creton as their emissary to Scotland to penetrate the heart of this mystery. He went, and the result was that the Scottish Richard was declared to be an impostor, and that there remained no doubt but that Richard himself had been murdered. The French ordinance for the payment of Creton remains, and may be seen in the "Archaeologia." It is without date, but is supposed to have been issued in the year 1402; and the outburst of the indignation of the French Court against Henry in 1403, and the defiances of the Duke of Orleans and Walleran de St. Pol, in which they charge Henry boldly with the murder of his king, seem a very natural consequence.

In 1404, Serlo, or Serle, a gentleman of King Richard's bedchamber, propagated the report that Richard was still alive, and that he had been with him in Scotland. He brought letters and messages addressed by Richard under his privy seal to his friends in England. Maud, the old Countess of Oxford, now far advanced in life, but having lost none of the remembrance of Henry's part in the destruction of her husband, eagerly imbibed all Serle's accounts, and "caused it to be reported," says Walsingham, "throughout Essex, by her domestics, that King Richard was alive, and would soon come back, and recover and assert his former rank. She caused little stags of silver and gold to be fabricated, presents which the king was wont to confer upon his most favourite knights and friends, so that, by distributing these in place of the king, she might the more easily entice the most powerful men in that district to accede to her wishes."

The old countess by these means brought over many gentlemen to her belief, and amongst them several abbots of that county. The consequence was, as we have related, that these abbots, with Sir Roger Clarendon and others, were seized by King Henry, and summarily put to death for propagating this assurance of Richard being in Scotland. Henry eventually laid hold of Serle himself, who confessed that he had indeed seen a person in Scotland who was asserted to be King Richard, but who really was not so, but merely one Thomas Warde, who had been King Richard's Court fool. Serle - who was said to have been concerned in the murder of the Duke of Gloucester at Calais - was, of course, executed in London, after having been drawn on a sledge through every town between Pontefract and the capital; and the old Countess of Oxford was shut up in prison.

And now the Earl of Northumberland and Lord Bardolf sought to satisfy themselves of the real facts - whether this was a true or a spurious Richard - for he was still supported by Albany as the real Simon Pure; whether Henry, in the proclamation made on the conviction of Serle, had forged his confession for him, as many asserted, and that the story of Thomas Warde was one of his invention. And what was the result? Northumberland, Bardolf, and their friends were assured that they were quite welcome to see and converse with Richard. Here the great mystery at last appeared on the point of being solved for ever. But no: they were met by the information that Richard refused to see them, and that no solicitations, not even those of Albany himself, could extort his consent. This must have quite satisfied these noblemen that Albany's Richard was really a mamuet, or puppet, as Henry styled him in his proclamations, and that nobody knew it so well as Henry himself.

Northumberland and Bardolf were soon compelled by the manoeuvres of Henry to escape from Scotland. The Scottish noblemen who had been kept prisoners in England ever since the battles of Homildon Hill and Shrewsbury, were offered by Henry their liberty if they would persuade their friends in Scotland to seize and deliver up these noblemen. This disgraceful scheme was readily adopted by the Scottish prisoners and their friends, and would have been carried speedily into execution; but the news of it reached the ears of the brave Sir David Fleming, a staunch friend of the Percies. It must be remembered that not only was the Earl of Douglas, but Murdoch, the son of the regent Albany, still amongst the prisoners of war in England; and, therefore, both Albany and the friends of Douglas, combining the most powerful party in Scotland, were engaged in this most dishonourable conspiracy for the betrayal of Northumberland, his young grandson, Henry Lord Percy, and Lord Bardolf. Sir David Fleming, disdaining to connive at so base a treason against the honour and hospitality of Scotland, gave the English noblemen timely warning. They escaped; but Sir David, as we have related, returning from conducting Prince James to North Berwick on his way to France, was set upon by the son of Douglas and the connections of the other prisoners in England, and lost his life for his noble conduct. Northumberland and Bardolf made their escape to Glendower in Wales.

The situation of Henry at this epoch was far from enviable. His usurpation had involved himself and the nation in constant feuds, battles, treasons, and bloodshed. The best and ablest men, instead of being able to unite their counsels and their efforts for the common good of the country, were inflamed by violent antipathies against each other. The lives of many of the noblest were sacrificed, and the resources of the country consumed in mutual destruction. Henry, indeed, by his skill, address, and courage, had defeated all the schemes formed for his dethronement, and dispersed his assailants, but he was still surrounded by malcontents and general dissatisfaction. All his efforts had not been able to extinguish the reports of the existence of King Richard. As often as these reports were exposed and made ridiculous, as certainly did they revive and renew their strength. The remonstrances of Parliament were severe to an extraordinary degree against his exactions and mal-administration. According to the Parliamentary history, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir John Tibetot, in a speech addressed to the king, declared that the country was impoverished by excessive impositions, and that nothing was done for its benefit. That in Guienne ninety-six towns and castles were lost, though it had cost this nation great expenditure to defend it; and that the whole of our continental possessions were in danger. That the marches on the Scottish borders were in the worst condition; that the rebellion in Wales, notwithstanding every effort, was still unsuppressed. That Ireland was nearly lost, though the charges for its government continued. That at sea our trade was destroyed, and the vessels of our merchants intercepted. That the expenses of the royal household were excessive, and the court filled with "a set of worthless rascals."

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Pictures for Reign of Henry IV page 8

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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