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Reign of Henry VII page 2

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But this excess of caution and this nicely-balanced policy had not been carried through without alarming all parties, and greatly disgusting that of York. The whole nation looked to the union of the houses by the marriage of Henry and Elizabeth as the only means of putting an end to the civil wars which had so long rent the nation. But when Henry was seen thus carefully barricading himself, as it were, on the throne without proceeding to that union, there grew great uneasiness, and this was much heightened by the king demanding "the punishment of those who had offended his royal majesty.'* This was a piece of assumption which astonished his very friends. How, it was asked, could any one offend his majesty before he was admitted to majesty? Those who fought under Henry VI. against Edward IV., and under Edward against Henry VI., fought against a king, and were liable to a charge of high treason in case they failed; but Henry of Richmond was no king, he was a mere pretender when the followers of Richard III. fought against him; and, therefore, they could offend no majesty, and commit no treason. Yet Henry proceeded on this ground to pass attainders on "Richard III,, the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Surrey, the Lords Lovell, Zouch, and Ferrers, Sir Walter and Sir James Harrington, Sir William Berkeley, Sir Humphrey Stafford, Catesby, and twenty other gentlemen who had fought against him at Bosworth.

By this means Henry put himself in possession of the vast estates of these attainted noblemen and gentlemen, and filled his coffers, a thing which he never neglected. But this did not prevent him seeking supplies from Parliament, and they granted him during life the duty of tonnage and poundage. Besides the possession of estates by attainder, he passed an act of resumption of all crown lands which had been alienated since the thirty-fourth of Henry VI.; and as these were chiefly in the hands of the Yorkist party, he thus placed all the holders of them at his mercy, and could eject or leave them in possession according as they conducted themselves. All this being done, he issued a general pardon to those followers of Richard III. who should come in before a certain day, and take the oath of allegiance. This he did, however, as an especial act of royal grace by proclamation, not allowing the Parliament to advise him, or to participate with him in the favour. Many of the late adherents of Richard accordingly left their sanctuaries and hiding-places, and submitted to the new king. In one or two instances, Henry's resentment overcame his honour; though the Earl of Surrey, the son of the Duke of Norfolk, who had so stanchly supported Richard at Bosworth, came in, he was excepted from the general pardon, and sent to the Tower. Others, as Bishop Stillington, of Bath, who had written Richard's artful proclamations, were at first thrown into prison, and severely treated; but they soon found means, by their

humble and courtier-like crawling, to make their peace with the king; and this bishop, Sir John Tyrrel, the murderer of the princes in the Tower, and other like characters, were soon found to be active agents and emissaries of the court.

Still Henry, though now securely seated on the throne, evinced no haste to fulfil his pledge of placing Elizabeth of York upon it. With his cunning, prudential temperament, he was at the same time sensitively resentful, and could not forget or forgive the long course of ill-treatment which he had suffered from the house of York. His banishment, his youth spent in foreign courts and under foreign dependence and surveillance; the attempts of Edward IV. to get him into his hands, when a dungeon, and probably secret murder, or a public one, on some trumped-up pretence, would have been his fate, still lived and rankled in his memory. He could not forget that the queen-do wager, after having plighted Elizabeth to him, had submitted to the dictation of the monster Richard III., who had murdered her two sons, and usurped their throne, had gone again to his court, had consented to his marriage with Elizabeth, had put herself and her other daughters wholly into his power, and had written to her son, the Marquis of Dorset, at Paris, to withdraw from Henry and abandon his pretensions. He could not forget that Elizabeth herself, however justly or unjustly, had been declared to have favoured Richard, and expressed impatience at the lingering remains of his wife's life, which kept her from the throne.

Modern historians have endeavoured to prove that much of the dislike of Henry to his wife, and still more to her mother, was unfounded; but the historians of the time are unanimous in their assertion of it, and nothing is more certain than Henry's lasting hatred of the whole Yorkist party - of his pleasure in mortifying and depressing the members of it - and his harsh treatment of the queen-do wager, if not of the queen. It was not, therefore, till the feeling of the public became strongly manifested at his neglect of the princess, and till the Commons presented him a petition praying him "to take to wife the Princess Elizabeth, which marriage they hoped God would bless with a progeny of the race of kings;" and till the Lords, spiritual and temporal, had testified their participation in this wish, by rising simultaneously and bowing as it was uttered, that Henry consented to the celebration of the marriage.

But even in this late and ungracious compliance, Henry took care to have his own personal claims to the crown reiterated, and made independent of those of the proposed queen. For this purpose he was not satisfied with the dispensation which had been granted by the Pope's legate, on account of the relationship of the parties, but he applied to Pope Innocent VIII. himself, and he took care to have the Pope's bull so worded that it should render Henry the sole arbiter of the crown, and his acceptance of Elizabeth a royal favour. This papal act presumed to sanction and confirm the act of settlement passed by the British Parliament; and declared, in stronger language than Henry in his own person had dared to use, that the crown of England belonged to Henry by right of war, by notorious and indisputable hereditary succession (which was, in fact, a most notorious falsehood), by the wish and election of all the prelates, nobles, and commons of the realm, and by the act of the three estates in Parliament assembled. Yet, nevertheless, to put an end to the bloody wars caused by the rival claims of the house of York, and at the urgent request of the three estates, the king had consented to marry the Princess Elizabeth. Never surely did a man more studiously and bitterly seek to humiliate the woman he was about to make his wife, or a woman accept a hand which thus degraded her with a more tame compliance. But the hope of a crown is too apt to extinguish all the natural sentiments of honour or shame, resentment, or self-respect.

The marriage took place on the 18th of January, 1486, and the rejoicings in London, Westminster, and other cities were of the most lively kind. They were heartfelt, for now all parties concluded that there was a hope of peace and comfort. They were far more ardent than at the king's accession or coronation, and the mean-souled monarch saw it with sullen displeasure, for it seemed to imply that though he had taken such pains to place foremost his right to the throne, the people recognised, spontaneously, the superior title of the house of York, and that of his beautiful, and by him superciliously treated wife. "If," says Lingard, "the ambition of the princess was flattered by this union, we are told (on what authority I know not) that she had little reason to congratulate herself on the score of domestic happiness; that Henry treated her with harshness and with neglect; and that in his estimation, neither the beauty of her person, nor the-sweetness of her disposition, could atone for the deadly crime of being a descendant of the house of York." Lord Bacon, who is the great historian of this period, and who may be supposed to be sufficiently informed, does not hesitate to add that the manifest affection of the people for the queen produced in him towards her additional coldness and dislike.

Henry, before dismissing his Parliament, conferred favours and promotions on many of his friends. He restored Edward Stafford, the eldest son of the Duke of Buckingham, who had lost his life and fallen under attainder by espousing his cause in the late reign; nor did he forget Morton, the sagacious Bishop of Ely, who had planned the conversion of Buckingham to his cause, and embarked himself in the expedition. Chandos of Brittany was created Earl of Bath; Sir George Daubeny, who had been one of his most successful generals, was made Lord Daubeny; and Sir Robert Willoughby, Lord Broke. The two persons, however, whose counsels and administrative services he chiefly valued, were Bishops Morton and Fox, the latter of whom he raised to the see of Exeter. They had shared in all his adversities, and were now admitted to participate in his high fortune. Morton was, at the death of Bouchier, made Primate of England; and Pox was entrusted with the Privy Seal, and successively made Bishop of Bath and Wells, Durham, and finally, Winchester. These two able prelates were Henry's ministers and constant advisers. "He loved," says an historian of the time, "to have a convenient number of right grave and wise priests to be of his council; because," adds Bacon, "having rich bishoprics to bestow, it was easy to reward their services," thus sparing his beloved coin; for the only two things which Henry Tudor really loved were power and money.

Having dismissed his Parliament, and left all in order, Henry set out on a progress through the kingdom. The people of the northern counties had been the most devoted to Richard, and he sought, by spending some time amongst them, to remove their prejudices and attach them to his interests. No means could have been so effectual as that of carrying with him, in honour and affection, the head of the house of York - his own queen; but here again his jealous disposition showed itself. He dreaded the superior homage which she was sure to elicit, and determined to owe nothing but t his own merits and measures. He therefore left Elizabeth with a small court, including her mother and sisters, and his own mother, the Countess of Richmond. He had advanced as far as Lincoln, and was there keeping his Easter, on the 2nd day of April, when he learned that Lord Lovell, formerly chamberlain to Richard, with Humphrey and Thomas Stafford, had left the sanctuary at Colchester, and were gone with dangerous intentions, no man knew whither. The news did not seem to give him much concern, and he proceeded towards York. At Nottingham, more pressing and alarming intelligence reached him, that Lord Lovell was advancing towards York with 4,000 men, and that the two Staffords were besieging Worcester with another army.

At Nottingham, Henry received an embassy from the King of the Scots; and dispatching his uncle, the Duke of Bedford, with about 3,000 men in pursuit of Lord Lovell, on the 6th of April he quitted Northampton in the same direction. At Pontefract he "was met, on the 17th, by the news that Lovell had passed him on the road, had raised a force in the neighbourhood of Ripon and Middleham, and was preparing to surprise him on his entrance into York. Henry's courage did not fail him; he was now surrounded by most of the northern and southern nobility, who had brought up considerable forces. But the man who always trusted more to his shrewd knowledge of human nature than to arms, now hit on a means of dispersing the insurgent army without a blow. He sent on his uncle, Jasper of Bedford, to offer a free pardon to all who would desert Lovell's standard, and the whole host dispersed as by magic. It was, in fact, the magic of the right incentive applied at the right moment. Lovell, who was as much affected by the proclamation of pardon as his followers - for it instantly struck him with the fear of universal desertion - fled at once to the house of his friend, Sir Thomas Broughton, in Lancashire; and, after lying concealed there some days, contrived to escape to the court of the Duchess of Burgundy, in Flanders. Some of his followers, as it would seem, in defiance of the king's offer of pardon, were seized and executed by the Earl of Northumberland.

On hearing of this dispersion of the northern division of the insurgents, the brothers Stafford abandoned the siege of Worcester, and fled for sanctuary to the church of Colnham, a little village near Abingdon. They were taken thence without ceremony, on the plea that Colnham had no right of sanctuary - a decision which all the judges confirmed - though expressly claimed by the Abbot of Abingdon. Humphrey Stafford was executed at Tyburn, but Thomas, the younger brother, was pardoned, on the plea that he was only acting under the advice of his elder brother.

After this success, Henry entered York with great magnificence. The effect of his victory was seen in the inhabitants of that city flocking out to meet him, with the mayor and aldermen at their head on horseback, and a great procession of the clergy. The populace clapped, hurrahed, and cried, ''King Henry! King Henry! our Lord preserve that sweet and well-favoured face!" A piece of flattery which Leland seems to think was peculiarly appreciated, for Henry dropped the yearly rent paid by the citizens to the crown from 160 to 18 5s.; and when he was willing to relinquish money, he must be in a very happy mood indeed! He spent three weeks there dispensing favours, conferring honours, and redressing grievances. Great pageants and feasts were held in his honour, and were given by him in return; and he opened his heart to pay certain flattering poetasters for their verses in his praise, and also distributed money amongst the populace. In fact, Henry was there for the purpose of winning good opinions; and he did it so effectually that during the invasion of the following year he found Yorkshire, instead of one of the most adverse, the most loyal of counties.

This is a very rare instance indeed of anything like liberal conduct on the part of the king, and it shows that he was not so miserly as to lose sight of his interest in other directions besides that of money. It was unfortunate that he did not more frequently put a curb on his ruling passion, and receive more often, as in this case, that affection from his subjects which such conduct

naturally drew forth. Unfortunate, indeed, for England and for himself, that a mind of such astuteness and penetration should be allied to a soul whose sole passion was this wretched self-aggrandisement.

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