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Reign of Edward VI page 9

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Expecting that now some attack would soon be made upon them, they marched into Norwich to seize on all the artillery and ammunition they could, and carry it to their camp. The herald made another proclamation to them in the market place, repeating the offer of pardon, but threatening death to all who did not immediately accept it. They bade him begone, for they wanted no such manner of mercy. From that day the number of Ket's followers grew again rapidly, for he seemed above the Government; and the herald returning to town, dissipated at Court any hope of the rebels dispersing of themselves. A troop of 1,500 horse, under the Marquis of Northampton, accompanied by a small force of mounted Italians, under Malatesta, were, therefore, sent down to Norwich, of which they took possession. But the next day Ket and his host descended from their hill, found their way into the city, engaged, defeated, and drove out the king's troops, killing Lord Sheffield and many gentlemen, and, their blood being up, set fire to the town, and plundered it as it burnt.

Northampton retreated ignominiously to town, where the Protector now saw that the affair was of a character that demanded vigorous suppression. An army of 8,000 men, 2,000 of whom were Germans, under the Earl of Warwick, about to proceed against Scotland, was directed to march to Norwich and disperse the rebels. Warwick arriving, made an entrance, after some resistance, into the city. But there he was assailed on all sides with such impetuosity, that he found it all that he could do to defend himself, being greatly deficient in ammunition. On the 26th of August, however, arrived a reinforcement of 1,400 lansquenets, with store of powder and ball, and the next day he marched out, and the enemy having imprudently left their strong position 011 the hill, he attacked them in the valley of Dussingdale, and at the first charge broke their ranks. They fled, their leader, Ket, galloping off before them. They were pursued for three or four miles, and the troopers cut them down all the way with such ruthless vengeance, that 3,500 of them were said to have perished. The rest, however, managed to surround themselves by a line of wagons, and, hastily forming a rampart of a trench and a bank fortified with stakes, resolved to stand their ground. Warwick, perceiving the strength of the place, and apprehensive of a great slaughter of his men, offered them a pardon; but they replied that they did not trust to the offer; they knew the fate that awaited them, and they preferred to die with arms in their hands than on the gallows. Warwick renewed his offer, and went himself to assure them of his sincerity, on which they laid down their arms, or retired with them in their hands. Ket alone was hung on the walls of Norwich Castle, his brother on the steeple of Wymondham Church, and nine of the ringleaders on the Oak of Reformation.

Thus was this dangerous and widely-spread insurrection put down. On the part of the Government there never was more forbearance shown on such occasion, and on the part of the people, nothing was more demonstrable than the fact that however deep are the grievances of the multitude, however widely spread - for this penetrated from south to north, being equally existent, and with considerable trouble quelled in Yorkshire too - and, however well supported, not one such rising in ten thousand succeeds. In this case, the greater part of the clergy, and not a few of the gentry and aristocracy went along with them on account of religion, yet the rebellion would, with the ordinary severity and appliance of force, have been quelled in a few days. A mob, however brave, must have some thoroughly and universally national cause of excitement, and some peculiarly strong country, to compete with the power of regular soldiery. The dangers of this time, however, led to the introduction of the system which now exists, by which lords lieutenants of counties are empowered to inquire of treason, misprision of treason, insurrections, and riots, with power to levy men, and lead them against the enemies of the king.

The suppression of the insurrections in England had been attended with great mischief to the English power abroad. Both the Scotch and the French had taken advantage of the English being thus preoccupied to press them closely. In Scotland, D'Esse, the French commander, had achieved several successes over the English. Towards the end of the year 1548 a number of English ships arrived in the Forth, and took and fortified the island of Inchkeith, but D'Esse attacked and drove them thence in little more than a fortnight. He then retook Jedburgh, the castles of Hume and Fernihurst, and advancing into England, loaded himself with booty, and returned with 300 prisoners. But, after all, the French had ceased to be popular in Scotland. The Scots, on reflection, half repented having put their queen into the power of France, and made Scotland, as it were, a mere province of that country. They thought that the French who were amongst them already began to display ah insolent superiority in consequence, and a lively jealousy of them sprang up in the people. This proceeded so far that a fray arose with the French in Edinburgh; and the provost, his son, and a considerable number of men, women, and children were killed by the foreigners. The people, incensed at the conduct of their allies, began to murmur at the queen-dowager and the clergy, who, they said, had led them into this subjection to French dominance for their own purposes. Complaints were sent to France of the conduct of D'Esse, who was recalled, and Marshal Termes sent in his place. In. this distracted state of Scotland, and the severance of feeling betwixt the French and the natives, the English might have gained decided advantages; but the insurrections detained Warwick and his army, and the French were enabled to push their successes further and take Ford Castle in the south, and Broughty in the north, where they put the garrison to the sword. The new commander also besieged Haddington so straitly, that though Lord Dacres continued to throw supplies into it, it was in a miserable condition, and the country all round it was worse; it was reduced to a perfect desert by the alternating inroads of the French, Scotch, and English armies. As the place lay thirty miles from the frontiers, all provisions were obliged to be conveyed under strong escort, and could not find ingress, except by a battle. The maintenance of the garrisons, therefore, was very chargeable, and of no real utility; and, to complete the misfortunes, the plague broke out amongst the garrison owing to their weakened state. It was therefore found necessary to dismantle Haddington, and to remove the soldiers and artillery to Berwick. This was effected on the 1st of October by the Earl of But! and, who was appointed warden of the marches in the place of Lord Gray.

Meantime the King of France had taken advantage of the embarrassments of England with the insurgents and the Scots, to attempt the capture of Boulogne. From the moment that Mary Queen of Scots was in the French hands, Somerset had been anxious to make peace with Scotland, to surrender Boulogne to Henry II. for a sum of money, and to make a league with that monarch for the support of the Protestants in Germany against the power and persecutions of the emperor. But his Council opposed this policy strenuously, declaring that the surrender of Boulogne would entail infinite disgrace upon England. They rather recommended entrusting Boulogne to the keeping of the emperor, and distracting the Scots by offering the crown to Arran. They argued that Edward VI, would then have leisure to cultivate his resources and prepare for the events of the future. Accordingly, Sir William was sent to Brussels, where the emperor was holding his Court, to assist Sir Philip Hoby, the British ambassador, in this negotiation. But the French king had now made a successful approach to the walls of Boulogne; and Charles, deeming the possession of that fortress very doubtful, declined the engagement, and the treaty fell through.

Henry of France had fallen suddenly on the Bolonois, taken the castles of Sallaque, Blackness, and Ambleteuse, and endeavoured to surprise Boulonburg, but failed: the garrison of Boulonburg, however, deeming it untenable after the surrender of the other fortresses, destroyed the works and retired to Boulogne. Henry II. pushed on and laid siege to Boulogne; but the autumn proved excessively rainy: a distemper broke out amongst his soldiers, and he was compelled to withdraw to Paris. Still he left the command of the army to Gaspar de Coligny, Lord of Chatillon, afterwards renowned as Admiral Coligny, with orders to renew the siege as early as possible in the spring. Coligny did not wait altogether for spring, but made several attempts against it during the winter; and unless the English sent a commanding force to support it, it was evident that it must fall in the next season. An attempt was also made by Strozzi, the commander of the French fleet, to invade Jersey; but he found an English fleet already there, and withdrew.

Circumstances were now fast environing the Protector with danger. The feebleness of his government, his total want of success both in Scotland and France, emboldened his enemies, who had become numerous and determined from the arrogance of his manners and his endeavours to check the enclosures of the aristocracy. Henry VIII. had never drawn any signal advantages from his hostile expeditions; but the forces which he collected and the determined character of the man impressed his foreign foes with a dread of him. It was evident that the neighbouring nations had learned the weakness of, and, therefore, despised Somerset. He had driven the Queen of Scots into the hands of the French, and they had driven him out of the country. He was on the very verge of losing Boulogne, which Henry had prided himself so much in conquering. At home the whole country had been thrown into a state of anarchy and insubordination by the reforms in religion, of which he was the avowed patron, and in the meantime he had allowed another to reap the honour of restoring order. It was intended that the Protector himself should have proceeded against the rebels; but probably he thought he who had encouraged them to pull down the enclosures would appear with a very bad grace against them to punish them for doing it. Dudley, Earl of Warwick, was therefore selected for this office - a man quite as ambitious, quite as unprincipled, and far more daring than Somerset. In the campaign in Scotland; and especially at the battle of Pinkie, Warwick had appeared the real achiever of victory, and now he was suffered to reap the easily-won distinction of suppressing the rebels. hq returned from Norfolk like a victor, and his reputation rose remarkably from that moment. Ho was looked up to as the able and successful man, and his ambitious views were warmly seconded by the wily old ex-chancellor, Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, who hated Somerset for having dismissed him from office, and for a time banished him from the Council, lie now took up Warwick as a very promising instrument for his revenge. He nattered him. with the idea that he was the only man to restore the credit and peace of the nation. "He showed him," says Burnet, "that he had really got all those victories for which the Protector triumphed: ho had won the battle of Pinkie, near Musselburgh, and had subdued the rebels in Norfolk; and, as he had before defeated the French, so, if he were sent over thither, new triumphs would follow him. But it was below him to be second to any, so he engaged him to quarrel in everything with the Protector, all whose many motions were ascribed to fear or dulness."

Nor was it Warwick alone that Southampton stimulated to enmity against Somerset. He had arguments adapted to all; and where he found any seeming resolved to stand by the Protector, he would significantly ask what friendship they hoped from a man who had murdered his own brother. There required little rhetoric to influence the old nobility against Somerset, and his hostility to the enclosures had raised him a host of enemies amongst the new, who should be his natural friends. The people he had lost favour with, from his total want of success against the enemies of the country, and if there were any whom all these causes had not alienated, these were disgusted with his insolence and rapacity. He had bargained for large slices from the manors of bishoprics and cathedrals as the price of promotion to the clergy. He had obtained from the puppet king in his hands, grants of extensive church lands for his services in Scotland, services which now were worse than null; and in the patent which invested him with these lands, drawn up under his own eye, he had himself styled "Duke of Somerset, by the grace of God," as if he were a king. He was accused of having sold many of the chantry lands to his friends at nominal prices, because he obtained a heavy premium upon the transaction; but what more than all shocked the public sense of religious decorum was that he had erected for himself a splendid palace in the Strand, where the one called from him Somerset House now stands, and had spared no outrage upon public rights and decencies in its erection. Not only private houses, but public buildings, and those of the most sacred character, had been displaced to make room for his proud mansion. To clear the ground for its site, and to procure materials for its building, he pulled down three episcopal houses and two churches on the spot, St. Mary's and a church of St. John of Jerusalem, also a chapel, a cloister, and a charnel-house in St. Paul's Churchyard, and he carted away the remains of the dead by whole loads, and threw them into a pit in Bloomsbury. When he attempted to pull down St. Margaret's Church in Westminster, for the stones, the parishioners rose in tumult, and drove his men away, Whatever pretences of reformed religion he might make, such proceedings as these stamped them as pretences, hollow, and even impious, in the minds of the public.

The feeling which began out of doors had now made its way into the very heart of the Council. Somerset's friends were silenced, his enemies spoke out boldly. During the month of September there were great contentions in the Council; and, by the beginning of October, the two parties were ranged in hostile attitudes under their heads. Warwick and his followers met at Ely Place; the Protector was at Hampton Court, where he had the king. On the 5th of October, Somerset, in the king's name, sent the Secretary of the Council to know why the lords were assembling themselves in that manner, and commanding them, if they had anything to lay before him, to come before him peaceably and loyally. When this message was dispatched, Somerset, fearful of the manner in which this summons might be complied with, ordered the armour to be brought down out of the armoury at Hampton Court, sufficient for 500 men, in order to arm his followers, and had the doors barricaded, and people fetched in for the defence.

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