Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Concluded). page 23
No sooner was the evil compact sealed, than the two renegade barons hastened to assemble their forces and earn their disgraceful pay. But the only fortune which they deserved attended them. Arran, acting under the counsel of the cardinal, met Glencairn near Glasgow, and after an obstinate battle defeated him. Glencairn escaped to Dumbarton, where Lennox lay, and that unprincipled nobleman resigned the castle into his hands, and set sail for England, where he received the promised hand of the Lady Margaret Douglas. Francis I. was so disgusted at this unnatural conduct of Lennox, that, suspecting his brother, Lord Aubigny, of some countenance of these proceedings, he deprived him of the high offices which he held in France, and threw him into prison.
In Scotland the cruel raid of Henry, and the traitorous league of Lennox and Glencairn with him, produced remarkable changes. A general council of the nobles met at Stirling, on the 3rd of June, where Lennox and Glencairn alone where absent. The conduct of Henry seemed to have united all hearts against him. There took place a coalition of the Romanist and Protestant parties; but Angus, who was now bound up with the Scottish policy, had the influence to obtain the removal of the feeble Arran from the regency, and the queen-mother, Mary of Guise, elected in his stead; Angus, the mover, being made Lieutenant-General of the kingdom.
But the cardinal was too clear-sighted to lend himself to any such heterogeneous coalition. He still adhered to Arran, and the country became torn by desperate factions, which exposed it the more to the attacks of the English king. In August, Lennox sailed from Bristol with a squadron of ten ships, and a number of soldiery, for the coast of Scotland, to fulfil his promise of putting the castles of Dumbarton and Bute into Henry's hand. He soon plundered the Isle of Arran, and, sailing to Bute, made himself master of it, and of its castle of Rothsay, and delivered them, according to agreement, to Sir Richard Mansell and Eichard Broke, to hold for Henry. The castle of Dumbarton, the key of the west of Scotland, Lennox felt sure of, having left it in the hands of Glen-cairn. But Glencairn had in the meantime gone over to the opposite party, and the officer in command, Stirling of Glorat, scorning such treason, not only refused to yield it up, but made it necessary for Lennox and his associates to escape with all speed to their ships.
Scarcely had Lennox quitted Dumbarton, when Sir George Douglas entered it with 4,000 troops, and the Earl of Argyll, occupying the castle of Dunoon, fired on Lennox as he fell down the Clyde. Lennox, returning the fire, landed to avenge the attack, and speedily dispersed the Highlanders drawn out against him. He next ravaged the coasts of Kintyre, Kyle, and Carrick, and then returned laden with spoil to Bristol, whence he dispatched Sir Peter Mewtas to inform the king at Boulogne of the issue of the enterprise, who received the account of the conduct of Glencairn with his most hearty choler. Meantime, Henry's officers, Sir Ralph Eure, Sir Brian Layton, and Sir Eichard Bowes, were ravaging the borders as mercilessly as Lennox did the shores of the Clyde. They were enabled to do almost whatever they pleased, owing to the unhappy dissensions betwixt the parties of the Governor Arran and the queen-dowager. The story of their burnings and spoliations has been preserved in an account called the "Bloody Ledger," in which are enumerated 192 towns, villages, farm-offices, towers, and churches as destroyed; 10,380 cattle driven off; 12,492 sheep, 1,496 horses, besides the account of other plunder and horrors.
In November this miserable warfare seems to have slackened, but not so the feuds betwixt the different factions. In the beginning of that month the regent called a Parliament in which he denounced Angus and his brother as traitors; and, on the other hand, Angus summoned the three estates to Stirling, in. the queen's name, and there issued a proclamation discharging all the people from their allegiance to Arran as the pretended regent. Once more the cardinal attempted to unite the clashing factions; peace appeared restored, and Arran marched to the borders to avenge the late injuries of the English, and laid siege to Coldingham, then in their possession. Suspicion and disunion, however, speedily broke out again; and the English becoming aware of it, rushed out upon them and put them to flight, though the Scotch were three times their number. Angus, who had the command of the vanguard on this occasion, Glencairn, Cassilis, Lords Somerville and Both-well, were all involved in the disgraceful rout. The defeat was universally attributed to the treason of the Douglases; yet, in the Parliament which was summoned in December at Edinburgh, they managed to clear themselves of the charge, but not from the belief of it in the minds of the people, which was soon sufficiently shown by both barons and commonalty refusing to serve under Angus when a muster was called in the Lothians.
The greater part of the south of Scotland now lay exposed to the inroads and devastations of the English. The border clans, ready to fight on that side where there was the best prospect of booty, entered into the service of England; others, who were more patriotic, were compelled to purchase protection; and the English wardens became so confident that all Scotland to the Forth might be subdued, almost without a struggle, that Sir Ralph Eure and Sir Brian Lay ton hastened to Court and laid their views before the king. Henry was only too ready to punish still farther the stubborn Scots, and, as an incentive to Eure, he granted him all the lands he should conquer in the Merse, Teviotdale, and Lauderdale - districts which were the old hereditary property of the Douglases. Angus heard of this free grant of his patrimony with such indignation, that he vowed he would write his "sasine," or instrument of possession, on his skin with sharp pens and bloody ink, if he dared touch it. Sir Ralph Eure, however, recked little of his threat. He straightway crossed the borders with 5,000 men, consisting of foreign mercenaries, English archers, and 600 border Scots, who wore the red cross of England over their armour. They tracked their way in barbarities still more savage than before. They burnt the tower of Broomhouse, and in it a noble and aged matron, its mistress, with her whole family. They wrecked and desolated the celebrated abbey of Melrose, plundering it, and reducing it to ruins, ransacking and defacing the tombs of the Douglases.
Angus rushed on in the spirit of his vow to meet these marauders, and came up with them in the midst of their destruction of the tombs of his ancestors; but, so far from writing Eure's "sasine" on his back, he was repulsed with great slaughter; and with Arran, the governor, who accompanied him, saw the ruthless foe complete their sacrilegious havoc, and commence their march to Jed-burgh, without any forces to prevent them. Angus and Arran, however, hung on the rear of the retreating army, heavy with plunder, and saw Eure, confident of his superior strength, encamp on a moor above the village of Ancram, on the Teviot. The Scotch posted themselves on a neighbouring eminence, and to their great joy beheld Norman Leslie, the Master of Rothes, arrive at the head of 1,200 lances, and directly after, Sir Walter Scott, the old Laird of Buccleuch, gallop up, announcing his followers to be within an hour's march.
Thus strengthened, they resolved to give battle; but, to deceive the enemy, Buccleuch advised Arran to quit the height where he was posted, and retire to a level plain in its rear, called Peniel Heugh, as if they were about to retreat. They then dismounted, and sent their horses in the care of the camp-boys to a hill beyond the plain. The English commanders fell into the snare laid for them. Their successes had made them careless, and they galloped forward to pursue the flying enemy. On reaching the brow of the hill, however, they saw with astonishment, not an army in retreat, but drawn up for battle, almost face to face with them. They were thrown into some disorder by their rapid advance up the hill, and their horses were blown; but, relying on their superiority, they dashed forward, and charged the foe. The Scots, who had the sun and wind on their backs, and burned with the sense of a thousand injuries unavenged, stood the shock bravely, and the battle became furious. The superior length of the Scottish spears gave them a decided advantage. Bowes and Layton were pushed back on the main body, and threw it into confusion, and that again disordered the rear. The setting sun blinded the English, and the smoke from the arquebuses of their enemies was blown in their faces. They gave way; and, on the very first symptom of flight, the 600 Scottish borderers tore off their red crosses, joined their countrymen, and made a terrible carnage amongst their late comrades. The neighbouring peasantry soon joined in the chase, animated by the spirit of a natural revenge, and the cry of "Remember Broomhouse!" rang over the field, the women being the most frantic in the exclamation. Eure and Layton, who for six months had kept the whole border country in terror, and had perpetrated the most merciless atrocities, were, to the great exultation of the people, found dead upon the field. Many knights and gentlemen were taken prisoners; and Arran, seizing the camp equipage and the enormous booty, marched on Coldingham and Jedburgh, which surrendered; and he soon saw the whole southern district freed of the enemy.
The anger of Henry VIII. may be imagined on the receipt of this news. He vowed especial vengeance on Angus, who had so long been his obsequious tool; but that chief having now executed his vow not only on Eure but on Lay ton, exclaimed proudly, "What! does my royal brother-in-law feel offended, because, like a good Scotsman, I have avenged upon Ralph Eure the defaced tombs of my ancestors? They were better men than he, and I ought to have done no less; and will he take my life for that? Little knows King Henry the skirts of Kernetable; I can keep myself there against all his English host."
Francis I. could not rest satisfied so long as Boulogne was in the hands of the English, and he resolved, in 1545, to make a grand effort, to recover not only that town but Calais, which had been for centuries in the possession of England. Large galleys were built at Rouen, and as many vessels were collected as possible from Marseilles and other ports in the Mediterranean for this enterprise. He hired soldiers from the Venetian and other Italian States, and he determined to send a body of troops to Scotland to assist in making a diversion in that country. But he was not contented with endeavouring to regain his own towns; his coasts had often been harassed by the English vessels, and he now ventured to carry the war to Henry's own shores. Henry, aware of his intentions, raised fortifications on the banks of the Thames, and along the shores of Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire. The French fleet, consisting of 130 sail, under the command of Annebaut, set sail on the 16th of July, and fell down the Channel. Francis flattered himself that he could seize the Isle of Wight, and perhaps maintain garrisons there, if he should not be able to get possession of Portsmouth. Henry had himself proceeded to Portsmouth, where he had sixty ships lying, under the command of Lord Lisle. The French fleet sailed into the Solent, and anchored at St. Helen's. The sea being very calm, the French admiral put out his flat-bottomed boats and galleys that drew little water, and sailed into the very mouth of Portsmouth Harbour, daring the English admiral to come out. But Henry commanded Lord Lisle to lie still, and Annebaut, firing into the port, sunk the Mary Rose with her commander, Sir George Carew, and 700 men. On the turn of the tide Lord Lisle bore down on the enemy, and sunk a galley with its men, and the French vessels then bore away to the main fleet.
As the French could not provoke the English to come out of harbour, though they burned the villages and farmhouses along the coast, they held a council of war, and resolved to attempt the conquest of the Isle of Wight. The invasion of the island was essayed in three places, but the inhabitants repulsed the soldiers as they landed, with great spirit; and, after committing some ravages, the French thought it best to retire. They then sailed along the coast of Sussex, making occasional descents, and finally anchored before Boulogne, to prevent the entrance of supplies for the army there. Another object was to prevent reinforcements of ships from the Thames reaching Portsmouth, but in both these endeavours the superior vigilance of the English prevailed; provisions were conveyed into Boulogne, and thirty sail of ships arrived at Portsmouth. At length Lord Lisle received orders from Henry to put to sea and attack the enemy; he expressed himself highly delighted, but nothing came of it, for the two fleets manoeuvred for some time in the face of each other, exchanged a few shots, and then retired to their respective ports. And thus ended the boastful enterprise of Francis.
If Francis had done little, Henry was still apprehensive that he might do more, and he was in no condition to raise adequate forces for defence. After all that his father had left him, and after the enormous receipts from the Church property, never was monarch in greater straits for money. Wriothesley, writing to the Council in September of this year, draws a woful picture of the finances. "As concerning the preparation of money, I shall do what is possible to be done; but, my lords, I trust your wisdoms do consider what is done and paid already. You see the king's majesty hath this year and the last spent £1,300,000, or thereabouts; and his subsidy and benevolence ministering scant £300,000 thereoff, I muse sometime where the rest, being so great a sum, hath been gotten; so the lands being consumed, the plate of the realm molten and coined, whereof much hath risen, I sorrow and lament the danger of the time to come, wherein is also to be remembered the money that is to be paid in Flanders; and that is as much and more than all the rest, the great scarcity that we have of corn, wheat being in all places in manner, Norfolk excepted, at twenty shillings the quarter, and a marvellous small quantity to be gotten of it. And though the king's majesty should have a greater grant than the realm could bear at one time, it could do little to the continuance of these charges, which be so importable, that I see not almost how it is possible to bear the charges winter till more may be gotten. Therefore, good lords, though you write to me still, 'Pay! pay! prepare for this and that!' consider, it is your part to remember the state of things with me, and by your wisdom to ponder what may be done, and how things may be continued."
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