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Reign of Henry VII. - (continued) page 6

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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.

This plot, it is said, was discovered in time; and this was another circumstance which caused the public to suspect that the whole thing had been of the contriving, or, at least, of the permission of Henry, to rid him of these troublesome aspirants. The two offenders were immediately confined in separate cells. The servants of the governor were brought to trial, and Blewet and Astwood were condemned and hanged. On the 16th of November, Warbeck was arraigned in Westminster Hall for sundry acts of high treason, since as a foreigner he had come into these kingdoms. They were, in fact, the attempts on the crown which we have related. He was condemned and hanged at Tyburn on the 23rd of the month, with O'Water, the mayor of Cork, who had been S the first to join him in Ireland. On the scaffold his confession was read, and he declared it, on the word of a dying man, to be wholly true. Both he and O'Water asked pardon of the king for their attempts against him. Such was the end of this extraordinary adventurer. Bacon describes his enterprise as "one of the largest plays of the kind that hath been in memory; and might, perhaps, have had another end if he had not met with a king both wise, stout, and fortunate."

On the 21st of November, the Earl of Warwick was brought to trial before the peers, though he had been attainted from his birth, and had never taken his oath and seat as a peer of the realm. The charge against him was his conspiracy with Warbeck to dethrone the king. The poor youth pleaded guilty, either as weary of a life which had been but one long injury and wrong, in consequence of his birth, or because he was destitute, from his perpetual confinement, of the activity of mind to comprehend his situation. Probably he imagined that if he confessed himself guilty, he would be pardoned, and returned to his cell. But Henry had no such intention. The Earl of Oxford, as lord steward, pronounced judgment, and three days afterwards he was beheaded on Tower Hill. Thus perished the last legitimate descendant of the Plantagenets who could alarm the fears of Henry Tudor.

There are many cases of royal oppression in history more bloodily atrocious, but none more criminal than this of Henry VII. For fourteen years he had kept this innocent youth in close confinement, for no other cause than that he was of royal blood. Though there is no reason to believe him an idiot, as some have pretended, yet his mind appeared to have suffered by his constant confinement and exclusion from society, till it was too feeble and ill-informed to be capable of real mischief. The partisans of the cause, however, were not inclined to rest, and for that reason Henry determined to destroy his captive. It was a judicial murder of a kind which excited in the public mind a just and deep abhorrence; and Henry, with his usual trick of cunning, endeavoured to shift the odium to other shoulders. Henry was negotiating for the marriage of his son Prince Arthur and Catherine, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, and he circulated a report that Ferdinand would not consent to the alliance so long as the Earl of Warwick lived. Nay, he would appear to have got the King o: Spain to write so for this end. "For," says Bacon, "these two kings understanding each other at half a word, so it was that there were letters showed out of Spain, whereby in the passages concerning the treaty of marriage, Ferdinand had written to the king in plain terms, that he saw no assurance of his succession so long as the Earl of Warwick lived, and that he was loath to send his daughter to troubles and dangers.

"But hereby," adds Bacon, "as the king did in some part remove the envy from himself, so he did not observe that he did withal bring a kind of malediction and infausting on the marriage, as an ill prognostic, which in event so far proved true, as both Prince Arthur enjoyed a very small time after the marriage, and the Lady Catherine herself, a sad and religious woman, long after, when King Henry VIII.'s resolution of divorce from her was first made known to her, used some words - 'That she had not offended: but it was a judgment of God, for that her former marriage was made in blood' - meaning that of the Earl of Warwick."

With the execution of these two rivals, Henry VII. put an end to the long catalogue of pretenders to the crown, but for many a long year was the story of the lives and deaths of Warbeck and the young Warwick discussed at thousands of English hearths, with strange comments and significant looks. The one was a narrative of harsh injustice to a princely youth scarcely less exciting than that of the murder of his two still younger cousins in the Tower. The other was that of a strange, daring, and able adventurer, sanctioned by kings, and by princesses of the house of York nearest in blood to the throne, adorned with all princely qualities and graces, and surrounded by mysteries which not all the arts and the prepared confessions of the Tudor had availed to dissipate.

A few months after these tragic events, a plague broke out in London, which the people considered as a direct judgment from Heaven for such wicked bloodshed. Henry got out of town, but not feeling himself safe, after several changes of residence, he went over to Calais, and whilst there he had an interview with the Archduke Philip of Burgundy. Henry invited the archduke to take up his quarters in Calais, but it is a proof of the distrust which even his own allies entertained of the politic Henry, that the archduke declined putting himself into his power, and agreed to meet him at St. Pierre, near that city. What the archduke was particularly anxious to see Henry for, was to excite his jealousy of France, and secure his co-operation in counteracting its ambition.

Charles VIII. of France, as we have seen, had made a grand expedition into Italy to seize on the two Sicilies, having contrived to make out a claim upon them, which, though empty in itself, was good enough for an excuse for conquest. He had passed over the Alps with an army of

upwards of 30,000 men. At first all gave way before him, but an extensive league was soon formed against the French encroachment, including Ferdinand of Spain, Maximilian, the King of the Romans, the father of Philip, the Duke of Milan, and the Doge of Venice. Charles, who had led a most dissipated life, died suddenly in 1498 at the Castle of Amboise, and the Duke of Orleans succeeded as Louis XII. Louis was as fully bent as Charles had been to prosecute the conquest of Naples and Sicily, and in 1499 marched with a fresh army into the south of Italy.

It was to secure Henry's assistance in the league against the aggression of France, which alarmed all Europe, that Philip used his most eloquent persuasives but the only persuasives with him were moneys, and these Louis had already extended. He renewed the peace of Estaples, paid up the arrears of Henry's pension, and secured the interest of the Pope, with whom Henry was desirous to stand well, by paying him 20,000 ducats for a dispensation enabling him to divorce his wife, and marry Anne of Brittany, the widow of Charles VIII., and an old flame of his. He had also made over the Valentinois, in Dauphiny, with a pension of 20,000 livres, to the Pope's son, the vile Caesar Borgia. The Pope, moreover, was coqueting with Henry, inviting him, by an express nuncio, to join a league for an imaginary crusade to the Holy Land, which Henry was ready to do for the cession of some real ports in Italy as places for the retreat and security of his fleet in those seas.

It was not likely that Philip of Burgundy would make much progress with Henry, except so far as he could serve him by keeping certain matters, well known at the Courts of Burgundy and Flanders, concerning the real history of Perkin Warbeck, secret; and his anxiety on this head more and more convinced people that Warbeck was something more than the son of a Jew.

Henry VII. having succeeded in ridding himself of all the pretenders to his crown, now set himself to complete the marriages of his children, and to make money with redoubled ardour. Negotiations had been going on with James of Scotland for the marriage of Henry's eldest daughter, Margaret. In 1496 James, who had previously declined the match, now in communication with Fox, Bishop of Durham, offered to enter into that contract. Henry gladly assented, and, when some of his council suggested that in case of the failure of the male line in England, a Scottish prince, born of this marriage, would become the heir, and England a mere appendage of Scot-and, "No," replied Henry, "Scotland will become an appendage of England, for the smaller must follow the larger kingdom." And, no doubt, this idea had from the first actuated the calculating mind of the Tudor. That le was right the event has shown, for, though ultimately he failure of the male line in England took place, and James VI. of Scotland, the descendant of this very marriage, became King of England, yet England became he leading state. In fact, this marriage was by far the most beneficial act of the reign of Henry VII. next to his own marriage with the heiress of York. That marriage united the two rival houses; this united the two kingdoms, the most auspicious event for both countries which is conceivable, converting the whole British island into one integral empire, and the people of each section of it into possessors of the privileges and advantages of both.

But in the accomplishment of this great national end the miserably penurious character of Henry showed most contemptibly. With his coffers crammed with millions of useless gold, he could only find in his heart to bestow upon his eldest daughter, in making her Queen of Scotland, the paltry sum of 30,000 nobles, and that to be paid in three annual instalments. It might have been supposed that the poor king was getting a good interest for his money, instead of hoarding it in barren chests, or that he had to scrape it up, year by year, front his reluctant subjects. James of Scotland agreed to settle upon his wife 3,000 a year in lands; but instead of paying that amount of income during his life, he contracted to defray her household expenses, and allow her for her private expenditure 500 marks. On the 29th of January, 1502, the parties were solemnly affianced in the queen's chamber, the Earl of Bothwell having come to London as proxy for James. Tournaments were celebrated for two days in honour of the marriage. Twelve hogsheads of claret were tapped in the streets for the gratification of the populace, and twelve bonfires kindled. And never did the people rejoice on a more genuine occasion; for this union was, in fact, the termination of centuries of those bloody and barbarous wars betwixt the two kingdoms, which, however they had shown the martial spirit of both races, had been productive of little other benefit, and of infinite mischief and misery to the inhabitants on both sides the Borders.

Margaret, at the time of this affiancing, was but just turned twelve years of age, and it was agreed that she should remain twenty months longer under the roof of her parents. Accordingly, it was not till the 8th of July, 1503, that she set out on her journey to Scotland. She quitted on that day the palace of her grandmother at Colliweston, attended by a long and brilliant train of the ladies and gentlemen of the Court, who, at the end of a mile, kissed her, and returned. Here the Earl of Kent, the Lords Strange, Hastings, and Willoughby, escorted her as far as York. She rode on a palfrey, attended by four footmen; and on approaching any town, she alighted, and rode in a magnificent litter through the place. A company of actors and numbers of minstrels attended to divert her and her friends on the way. At York she was received by the mayor, corporation, and people with great honour, and the Earls of Northumberland and Surrey conveyed her thence to Lamberton kirk, where they met the Scottish deputation of nobles, who proceeded on the way to Edinburgh with her. James repeatedly visited his bride on her journey, and on the 7th of August she made her entry into Edinburgh, James riding before her on her palfrey. The marriage ceremony was performed on the 8th by the Archbishop of Glasgow, and the English nobles took their leave and returned home. In this marriage treaty, Henry, not forgetting the past, took care that there should be a clause binding both monarchs not to harbour or receive the revolted subjects one of the other.

Simultaneously had been proceeding the negotiations with the Spanish Court for the marriage betwixt Henry's eldest son, Arthur, and Catherine, the daughter of Ferdinand, King of Castillo and Arragon. The negotiations for this marriage had commenced so early as 1492, the very year in which Christopher Columbus, under the patronage of Ferdinand and Isabella, discovered the New World. In 1496 a farther step was taken; and Ferdinand then promised to give the princess a portion of 200,000 crowns, and Henry engaged that his son should endow her with one-third of his present income, and the same of the income of the crown, if he should live to be king. It was stipulated that so soon as Prince Arthur reached his twelfth year, a dispensation should be obtained to empower him to make the contract; and, accordingly, the marriage was performed by proxy, the Spanish ambassador assuming this part, in the chapel of the prince's manor of Bewdley.

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