Reign of Henry VII. - (continued) page 4
Ramsay, Lord Bothwell, the favourite of the late king, who had fled to England, the Earl of Buchan, recently pardoned, and Sir Thomas Tod, a Scottish gentleman, entered into agreement with Henry VII. to seize the King of Scotland and his brother the Duke of Ross, and deliver them into the hands of the English monarch. Henry advanced them the sum of £266 to enable them to carry out this base enterprise; but, with his unconquerable regard for his money, binding them to repay it by a certain day, in case of failure. To ensure this, Tod delivered his son as a hostage. The original contract, drawn up at Greenwich, for this diabolical deed, still exists, and intimates that various other persons besides Bothwell, Buchan, and Tod were concerned in the affair. So unconscious was James of this treason meditated against his person, that at the very moment he was sending the Archbishop of St. Andrew's to meet the commissioners of Henry, for the adjustment of all border differences, and for the promotion of the general peace of the two kingdoms. Though this plot failed, another was soon after concocted by Henry with the malcontent Earl of Angus, of which James received due notice, and on the return of Angus ordered him into restraint in his castle of Tantallan, and deprived him of his lands and lordships of Liddisdale, and the strong fortress of Hermitage. These treacherous proceedings of King Henry sank deep into the mind of James, and he was anxious to break with England and carry some retributive trouble into Henry's own kingdom.
In this temper of the Scottish King, nothing could come more opportunely than such a person as Perkin Warbeck. James had, from the first moment of mounting his throne, been careful to strengthen his alliances with the whole European continent. With France, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, and Flanders, his intercourse, both official and mercantile, was active and constant. Of course, James was kept in full information of all that was agitating as it regarded England. With the Duchess of Burgundy, the inveterate enemy of Henry, it is clearly provable that James was in secret correspondence only five months after his accession. In 1488, even, there were busy messengers and heralds passing to and fro betwixt Flanders, Ireland, and Scotland. In that year Margaret of Burgundy sent Sir Richard Hardelman and Richard Ludelay to Dublin, and thence to Edinburgh on a secret mission. This intercourse continued and grew in activity. James sent his newly-created Earl of Bothwell to the Court of France while Warbeck was there. Monipenny, the Sieur de Concressault, a Scotchman by descent, was at that time captain of the guard of Warbeck, and soon after was sent as ambassador to James's Court. In 1491, when Warbeck was in Ireland, this intercourse was more open. Warbeck, after being received by Desmond and Kildare, sent Edward Ormond as his envoy to the Scottish Court, where he was cordially received by James; and in 1494 the Duchess of Burgundy announced to James that the Prince of England was about to visit Scotland, and James made preparations for his reception in Stirling.
From all these circumstances, which are attested by the "Treasurer's Accounts," and other records of Scotland, it is manifest that James was intimately informed of everything which could be known about Warbeck. There could be no mistake made by James in his reception of that personage, when, in November 1495, he presented himself at the palace of Stirling. Whatever James did he did with his eyes wide open and his mind fully made up. Yet from the very first he received him apparently with the most undoubting faith as to his being the true Plantagenet.
Events, indeed, had recently occurred which might have cooled a less sincere or less incensed man than James. Henry VII. had undoubtedly been kept well informed by his emissaries of what was passing both at the Scottish and Burgundian Courts. In Scotland, Henry had nobles in pay; in Brussels, besides others, the banished Lord Ramsay of Bothwell was his field agent, and Clifford had proceeded to England and revealed the whole plot. It was probably the policy of the Yorkists to astonish and overwhelm Henry by a simultaneous rising in England, Scotland, and Ireland. For this purpose, in 1494, O'Donnel, Prince of Tyrconnel, one of the most powerful chiefs of Ireland, had gone over to the Scottish Court. But Clifford's treason disconcerted the whole scheme, and instead of James marching down upon England in the north while Warbeck invaded it in the south, and Ireland was ready to succour either force, the adventurer was repulsed both from England and Ireland, and came rather like a hopeless fugitive than a rising prince to Scotland. Yet not the less did James welcome him with all the honours of royalty, or the warmth of a zealous partisan.
Warbeck was welcomed into Scotland with much state and rejoicing as the veritable Duke of York. James addressed him as "cousin," and celebrated tournaments and other courtly gaieties in his honour. The reputed prince, by his noble appearance, the simple dignity of his manners, and the romance of his story and supposed misfortunes, everywhere excited the highest admiration. James made a grand progress with him through his dominions, and beheld him wherever he appeared produce the most favourable impression. If James did not himself really believe Warbeck to be the Duke of York before he came to Scotland, his conduct during his abode there seems to have convinced him of it. At no time was he known to express a doubt of it, and on all occasions he spoke and acted as if morally certain of it. Nothing could be more convincing than his giving him to wife one of the most beautiful and high-born women of Scotland, the Lady Catherine Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Huntly, and grand-daughter of James I.
James now mustered his forces for the grand expedition which he hoped would drive Henry from the throne of England, and establish there the son of Edward IV., in the person of Warbeck. He was accompanied by this extraordinary pretender, who seemed to have united in
him all the graces and accomplishments of a true prince. As the army was about to march there arrived a supply of arms, harness, crossbows, and military stores from the Duchess of Burgundy; and from Charles of France came the Count de Concressault, an old and intimate friend of Warbeck's, as ambassador. Publicly, Concressault professed to exert himself, by command of his master, to promote peace betwixt James and Henry; privately, he urged zealously the invasion of England, to counteract the subtle proceedings of Henry, who had knit up a confederacy betwixt Spain, Flanders, and some of the Italian states, to hold in check the French designs beyond the Alps.
These apparently auspicious circumstances were rendered more flattering by the arrival at the Scottish camp, as adherents of the reputed Duke of York, of numbers of the chiefs from the English side of the borders; Nevilles, Dacres, Skeltons, Lovels, Herons, &c. The appearance of these barons inspired the most exhilarating persuasion that Warbeck had only to show himself in England to be universally supported.
Meantime, Henry VII. was diligently at work at his favourite plans of bribing and undermining. He had an active agent in Ramsay Lord Bothwell, whom James had weakly permitted to return to Scotland. By his means Henry had won over the king's brothers, the Duke of Ross, the Earl of Buchan, and the Bishop of Moray. These traitors engaged to do everything in their power to defeat the expedition. The Duke of Ross promised to put himself under the protection of the King of England the moment his brother crossed the borders. Nor did the plot stop there. Again there was a scheme to seize James at night in his tent, suggested by Henry, and entered into by Bothwell, Buchan, and Wyat, an English emissary. This disgraceful plot was defeated by the vigilance of the royal guard, but not the less actively did the paid spies of Henry Tudor, including some of the most powerful barons in Scotland, labour to defeat the success of the enterprise. They accompanied the army only with the hope of betraying it, while their efforts were essentially aided by the remonstrances of more honest counsellors, who doubted the wisdom of the expedition, and did all they could to dissuade James from it.
But James, burning with resentment at the base and insidious attempts of Henry to disturb the security of his government, and to seize upon his person, and coveting the glory of restoring the last noble scion of a great race to the throne of his ancestors, was deaf alike to warnings of secret treason or more public danger. He made his last muster of his forces at Ellam Kirk, near the English border, and, proclaiming war on Henry, marched forward. Warbeck, as Richard Duke of York, at the same time issued a proclamation calling upon all true Englishmen to assemble beneath the banner of the true inheritor of the crown. He denounced Henry Tudor as a usurper, and the murderer of Sir William Stanley, Sir Simon Montfort, and others of the ancient nobility; of having invaded the liberties and the franchises of both church and people; and of having plundered the subjects by heavy and illegal impositions. He pledged himself to remedy all these abuses; to restore and defend the rights and privileges of the church, the nobles, the corporations, and the commerce and manufactures of the country. He related the dangers through which he had passed since his escape from the Tower to this moment, and he set a price of a thousand pounds in money, and land to the value of a hundred marks per annum, for the capture or destruction of Henry Tudor.
But however judiciously the proclamation was drawn up, James was confounded as he advanced to see that it produced not the slightest effect. In vain had it been protested in the proclamation that James came only as the friend of the rightful King of England; that he sought no advantage to himself - though he had really bargained for the restoration of Berwick, and was to be paid 1,000 marks for the expenses of the war - and that he would retire the moment a sufficient English force appeared in the field. No such force was likely to present itself. If Warbeck had met with no success when supported by Englishmen, it was not to be expected when followed by an army of the hereditary foes of the kingdom - Scots and French, backed by Germans, Flemings, and other foreigners.
When James saw that, instead of being welcomed as deliverers, they were avoided, and that the expedition was altogether hopeless, he gave way to his wrath, and began to plunder the country, or to permit his troops to do it. Warbeck remonstrated against the devastations committed on the English with all the ardour of a true prince, declaring that he would rather lose the throne than gain it by the sufferings of his people. But James replied that his cousin of York was too considerate of the welfare of a nation that hesitated to acknowledge him either as king or subject. All this time the diligent Both well was duly informing Henry of the state of the Scottish camp, and of everything said and done in it. He now assured him that the Scottish army would soon beat a retreat, for that the inhabitants, in expectation of the visit, had driven off all their cattle, and removed their stores; so that the army was on the point of starvation. This was soon verified. The Scots, finding no supporters, about the end of the year retreated into their own country.
The invasion from Scotland afforded Henry another pretext for raising more money. He summoned a Parliament in the February of 1497, to which he uttered bitter complaints of the inroad and devastations of the Scots; of the troubles created by the impostor, and the manifold insults to the crown and nation. All this was now apparently blown over; but Parliament gratified the king by voting £120,000, together with two-fifteenths. Happy in the prospect of such supplies, Henry recked little of Warbeck or the Scots; but the tax roused the especial wrath of the Cornish people, who, knowing that the king only wanted to add their money to his already immense and useless hoards, wanted to know what they had to do with inroads of the Scots, who were never likely to come near them, and who had retired of themselves without so much as waiting for the sight of an army. This excitement of the brave and industrious, but hard-living Cornish men was fanned into a flame by Michael Joseph, a farrier of Bodmin, and one Thomas Flammock, an attorney, who assured the people that the tax was totally illegal, though voted by Parliament; for that the northern counties were bound by the tenures of their estates to defend that frontier; and that if they submitted to the
avarice of Henry and his ministers there would be no end to it.
Flammock told them that they must deliver the king a petition, seconded by such numbers as to give it authority; but at the same time he assured them that to procure the concurrence of the rest of the kingdom they must conduct themselves with all order, and refrain from committing any injuries to person or property, demonstrating that they had only the public good in view. Armed with bills, bows, axes, and other country weapons that they could command, they marched into Devonshire 16,000 strong, and called on the people to accompany them, and demand the heads of Archbishop Morton and Sir Reginald Bray, who were declared to be the advisers of the obnoxious impost. At Taunton they made an example of an insolent and overbearing commissioner of the tax of the name of Perin. At Wells they were joined by Thomas Touchet, Lord Audley, a man of an ancient family, but said to be of a vain and ambitious character.
Proud of having a nobleman at their head, they marched through Salisbury and Winchester into Surrey, and thence to Kent, the people of which, Flammock: told them, had in all ages been noted for their independence and patriotism, and were sure to join them. They pitched their camp on Blackheath, near Eltham, but not a man joined them. The people of Kent had their causes of complaint; but they had lately shown what was their spirit by repelling Perkin Warbeck, and they were too enlightened to join in any such ill-advised expedition.
Henry had now received the new levies raised to oppose any further motion of the Scots, and he sent them forward to attack and disperse the rebels. He always regarded Saturday as his fortunate day; therefore, on Saturday, the 22nd of June, 1497, he gave the order for the attack. He divided his forces into three divisions. The first, under Lord Daubeney, pushed forward to attack the insurgents in front; the second, under the Earl of Oxford, was to take a compass, and assail them in the rear; and the king himself took post with the third division in St. George's Fields, to secure the city. To throw the insurgents off their guard, he had given out that he should not take the field for some days; and to give probability to this notion, he did not send out his advanced forces till the latter part of the day. Lord Daubeney beat an advanced guard of the rebels from Deptford Bridge, and before the main body was prepared to receive him, he charged them with fury. Though they were brave men, and 16,000 strong, thus taken at advantage, and naturally ill-disciplined, ill-armed, and destitute of cavalry and artillery, they were soon broken and compelled to fly. Two thousand of them were slain, and 1,500 made prisoners. The prisoners Henry gave up to the captors, who allowed them to ransom themselves for a few shillings each.
<<< Previous page <<<
>>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 <4> 5 6 7 8 9 10