OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Reign of Henry VII. - (continued) page 5


Pages: 1 2 3 4 <5> 6 7 8 9 10

James of Scotland seized on the opportunity created by the Cornish insurrection to make a fresh inroad into England. He laid siege to the castle of Norham, and plundered the country round. Henry dispatched the Earl of Surrey, with an army of 20,000 men, to drive back the Scots, and punish them by carrying the war of devastation into their country. As Surrey advanced, James retired, and Surrey, following him across the Tweed, took and demolished the little castle of Ayton, ravaged the borders, and returned to Berwick. These useless and worse than useless raids, with no hope of permanent advantage on either side, but only of mischief to the unoffending inhabitants on both, were worthy only of the most savage and unenlightened times. The spies of Henry, however, soon informed him that James was really sick of the war, and he repeated the offer made before of the hand of his daughter Margaret. This he made through the Spanish ambassador, Don Pedro d'Ayala, who came forward as a friendly mediator, thus sparing both kings the humiliation of making the first move. D'Ayala found James quite disposed for peace, but in a somewhat cavalier humour as to the terms. Henry demanded first of all that Perkin War-beck should be given up to him, but this James resented as an attack upon his honour, and refused. He had even melted down his plate and sold the gold chain from his neck to assist Perkin, and he now spurned the idea of betraying him; but there is little doubt that he signified his assent to his departure from Scotland. Henry then called for compensation for the ravages committed in the late inroads; but the Scotch commissioners replied that Henry had already taken his revenge. Again, Henry proposed that the two monarchs should meet at Newcastle, and settle all matters between them; but as Newcastle was in England, James proudly replied that though he was ready to treat for peace, he was not going a-begging for it. By the advice of D'Ayala, Henry conceded these points, and commissioners were appointed to meet at Ayton, where, tinder the management of Fox,

Bishop of Durham, on the part of England, a truce was agreed upon to last for the lives of the two kings, and a year after the death of the longer liver. Though agreed upon, this important truce was not ratified for some years afterwards.

Meantime, James privately admonished Warbeck to quit the kingdom, as he could no longer assist him, and his presence would only tend to endanger the truce. Warbeck is said to have received this intimation with much true dignity and good feeling. He thanked the king for the great effort he had made on his account, for all the honours and favours that he had conferred upon him, and for which he declared he should ever remain deeply grateful. A vessel was prepared for his departure at Ayr, and every comfort was provided for his accommodation which James could have offered to the true prince. His beautiful and accomplished wife would not be left behind - a proof that she was really attached to him, whatever she might think of his pretensions. She quitted rank, fortune, a high position in the Scottish Court, to embrace with him a homeless life and a dark prospect. Flanders was closed to Perkin by the fresh league betwixt that country and England. Ireland was a more than dubious resort, yet thither he turned his prow, and landed at Cork on the 30th of July, 1497, with about 100 followers. The attempt to rouse again the enthusiasm of Ireland was vain; but at this juncture the last gleam of Warbeck's waning fortune seemed to fall upon him.

The Cornish rebels, let off so easily by Henry, had returned to their own county, proclaiming by the way that the king had not dared to put them to death because the whole of his subjects were in the same state of discontent. The people of Cornwall and Devon, reassured by this, again took up arms against the commissioners, who were still collecting the tax with great severity, and, it is said, dispatched a message to Warbeck to come over and head them. On the 7th of September, 1497, he accordingly landed at Whitsand Bay, with four or five small barques, and his 100 fighting men. Being joined by 3,000 of the insurgents at Bodmin, he issued a proclamation similar to his former one. Bodmin was the native place of Michael Joseph, their great orator and leader, and the people there were burning to revenge his death. Warbeck set out on his march towards Devonshire, and thousands of those who had lost friends and relations in the bloody battle of Blackheath, joined him on the way. He sent his wife to Mount St. Michael for security, and directing his course towards Exeter, he invested that city on the 17th of September with a rude, wild force of about 10,000 men. He announced himself as Richard IV. of England, and called on the inhabitants to surrender; but, having sent notification of his approach to King Henry, they determined to defend themselves, if needful, till succour arrived.

Warbeck had no artillery or engines of any kind to carry on a siege, he therefore attempted to break down the gates. At the one he was repulsed with considerable loss, the other he managed to burn down, but the citizens availed themselves of the fire, feeding it as it failed, till they had dug a deep trench behind the flames. When, the next morning, Warbeck returned to force a passage by that gate, the citizens received him with such spirit that they slew 200 of his men, and daunted the rest. Assistance was now also flowing in from the country to the city, and Warbeck was in danger of being attacked both in front and rear. Seeing this, he demanded a suspension of hostilities, and, depressed by this failure, his Devonshire followers began rapidly to fall away, and steal home as quickly as they could. His Cornish adherents, however, more intrepid, encouraged him to persevere, and vowed that they would perish in his cause. In this state of desperation the pretender marched on towards Taunton, where he arrived on the 20th of September. The country people on their way, smarting under the infliction of the hated tax, wished them success, but did not attempt to help them.

At Taunton, instead of any encouragement, they met the vanguard of the royal army, under the command of Lord Daubeney, the lord chamberlain, and Lord Broke, the steward of the household. The Duke of Buckingham was just behind with a second division, and Henry was declared to be following with a still larger force, The brave Cornish men, scarcely clothed, and still worse armed, shrunk not a moment from the hopeless combat. They vowed to perish to a man in behalf of their newly-adopted king, and Warbeck, with an air as if he would lead them into battle in the morning, rode along their lines encouraging them, and made all ready for the attack.

But Warbeck, who had never shown any want of courage, perceived the utter madness of contending with his undisciplined followers against such overwhelming odds, and in the night he mounted a fleet steed and rode off. In the morning the Cornish men, seeing themselves without a leader, submitted to the king, and, with the exception of a few of the ringleaders, they were dismissed and returned homewards as best they might. Meanwhile, Lord Daubeney dispatched 500 horsemen in pursuit of Warbeck, to prevent, if possible, his entrance into sanctuary; but the fugitive succeeded in reaching the monastery of Beaulieu, in the New Forest.

Henry sent a number of horsemen, in all haste, to St. Michael's Mount, in Cornwall, to obtain possession of the Lady Catherine Gordon, the wife of Warbeck. This they easily accomplished, and brought her to the king, on entering whose presence she blushed and burst into tears. Henry received her kindly - touched, for once in his life, with tenderness, by beauty in distress; or, probably, bearing in mind that the lady was the near kinswoman of the King of Scots, with whom he was desirous to stand well. He sent her to the queen, by whom she was most cordially received, and in whose court she remained attached to her service. She was still called the White Rose of Scotland, on account of her beauty. Lady Gordon was afterwards, it appears, three times married, but lies buried by the side of her second husband, Sir Matthew Cradock, in Swansea church.

Henry proceeded to Exeter, where he had the ringleaders of the Cornish insurrection brought in procession before him, with halters round their necks. Some of them he hanged, the rest he pardoned; but he, at the same time, appointed commissioners to proceed into the country through which Perkin had passed, and to fine all such people of property as had furnished him with aid or refreshment. They did not confine their scrutiny to those who had assisted Perkin in his march, but extended it to all who had relieved the famishing fugitives; "so that," says Bacon, "their severity did much obscure the king's mercy in sparing of blood, with the bleeding of so much treasure." They extorted altogether 10,000.

The next business was to get Warbeck out of his sanctuary and into the hands of the king. Beaulieu was surrounded by an armed force, and all attempts at escape made impossible. Some of Henry's council urged him to omit all ceremony, and take the pretender from the sanctuary by force; but this he declined, preferring to lure him thence by fair promises. After hesitating for some time, Warbeck at length threw himself upon the king's mercy. Henry then set out to London with his captive in his train. Warbeck rode in the king's suite through the city, along Cheapside, Cornhill, and to the Tower, and thence to Westminster. As the king had promised him his life, he kept his word. He was repeatedly examined by the Privy Council, but it seems as if something had transpired there which Henry deemed better concealed, for a profound silence was preserved on the subject of these disclosures. So far from even being degraded, like Lambert Simnel, to some menial occupation, Warbeck was suffered to enjoy a certain degree of liberty, and was treated as a gentleman. The probability is, that the king satisfied himself that this mysterious personage was in reality a son of Edward IV., by the handsome Jewess, Catherine de Faro, his birth being in Flanders, and agreeing exactly with the time of Edward's exile there. This might account for his admirable support of the character of a prince, for his confidence in his assertion of it for so many years, and the power he had of winning the strong attachment of persons of the highest rank and education. If this were true, he was, moreover, the queen's brother, though an illegitimate one, and might win the interest of herself and sisters by his resemblance in person, and in spirit and ambition, to her father.

But however this might be, he was too dangerous a person to be allowed to get loose again. He lived at Court under a strict surveillance, and he grew so weary of it, that he contrived to make his escape on the 8th of June, 1498. The alarm was instantly given; numbers of persons were out in pursuit of him; every road by which he might escape to sea was vigilantly beset, and the unhappy man, finding himself pressed on all sides, surrendered himself to the Prior of Shene, near Richmond. The prior exercised the right of sanctuary possessed by the house, and refused to give him up to the king, except under pledge that his life should be spared. Henry agreed, but he confirmed the public opinion, which, excited by the mystery of the Court, fully believed "Warbeck a son of Edward's, by now endeavouring to degrade him, and to fix upon him the old story. For this purpose he compelled him to sit in the stocks two whole days, on the 14th of June at Westminster Hall, and on the 15th in Cheapside, and there to read aloud to the people a confession made up of the account of him published in Henry's former proclamation, but with some very contradictory additions. This confession was then printed and circulated amongst the people, but failed entirely to satisfy any one, When this bitter purgatory had been passed through, the bitterest conceivable to a man of Warbeck's character, pretensions, and superior mind, he was committed to the Tower.

Warbeck had not been long in the Tower when there was an attempt to liberate the Earl of Warwick, who was still in confinement there; and it failed only through the conspirators not having properly informed themselves of the real quarter in which he was kept. Soon after that a fresh plot was set on foot for the same object. In this the King of France was said to be concerned. He was reported to have declared his regret for ever having countenanced the usurpation of Henry Tudor, and that he offered money, ships, and even troops, to the friends of Warwick to enable them to release him, and place him on the throne. The Yorkist malcontents were once more active. They wrote to the retainers of the late Duke of Clarence, the father of Warwick, and to Lady Warwick, to come forward and see justice done to the oppressed prince; and an invitation was sent from the Court of France to a distinguished leader of the house of York, to go over to that country and assume the command of the expedition. This also failing, a report was then spread of the death of the Earl of Warwick; then it was said that he had escaped, and a person of the name of Ralph Wulford, or Wilford, the son of a shoemaker in Sussex, was taught by one Patrick, an Augustinian friar, to personate the earl.

Whether the Yorkists were determined to give Henry no repose, but to haunt and harass him with a perpetual succession of impostors, or whether Henry himself planned this latter improbable scheme as a pretext for getting rid of the Earl of Warwick altogether, seems never to have been satisfactorily cleared up. All that is known is, that Wulford and the friar were speedily arrested, Wulford put to death, and the friar consigned to prison for life.

Scarcely had this blown over, when it was reported that Warbeck and Warwick had endeavoured to escape from the Tower together. Warbeck must have been permitted to have free access to Warwick after he was sent to the Tower - a circumstance not likely to have been permitted by the cautious and vigilant Henry VII. had he not had some ulterior purpose in it. Once together, however, Warbeck won the favour of the simple and inexperienced Warwick, who was as ignorant of the world as a child, having passed nearly all his life in prison. Warbeck, However, exercised the same fascination over the highest

and most intelligent persons whenever he had access to them. To the Tower he carried his active spirit of intrigue and adventure, and we soon find him in the enjoyment of extraordinary liberty and range in that state prison for so dangerous a character. He had not only completely won over the Earl of Warwick, but their keepers, Strangways, Astwood, Long Roger, and Blewet. These men engaged to murder their master, Sir John Digby, the Governor of the Tower, to get possession of the keys, and to conduct Warbeck and Warwick to the Yorkist partisans, by whom Warbeck was to be proclaimed King Richard IV., and Warwick to be restored to his titles and estates.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 <5> 6 7 8 9 10

Pictures for Reign of Henry VII. - (continued) page 5

Remains of Bermondsey Abbey
Remains of Bermondsey Abbey >>>>
Old English Merrymaking
Old English Merrymaking >>>>
London in the Fifteenth Century
London in the Fifteenth Century >>>>
Knight in complete Armour
Knight in complete Armour >>>>
Bowmen of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.
Bowmen of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. >>>>
Beaulieu Abbey
Beaulieu Abbey >>>>
Henry VII. at the Dispatch of Business.
Henry VII. at the Dispatch of Business. >>>>
The White Rose of Scotland
The White Rose of Scotland >>>>
Thomas Stanley
Thomas Stanley >>>>
The Port of Weymouth
The Port of Weymouth >>>>
Henry the Seventh's Chapel
Henry the Seventh's Chapel >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About