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Reign of Henry VII. - (continued) page 9


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The two kings saluted each other with all show of affection, but Philip, whilst endeavouring to be courteous, could not help betraying what was passing in his thoughts, for he declared that he was now punished for not going into Calais when they last met, Henry replied that walls

and seas were nothing when hearts were open - a thing true enough, in more than one sense, which, no doubt, Philip thought to himself. Philip found himself received with much magnificence at the castle of "Windsor; but he was not suffered to remain long without feeling that he was in the hands of a man who would have his full advantage out of him. The insatiable old miser went to work and propounded his demands, and there was nothing for it but for Philip to comply, if he ever meant to see Spain. First, Henry informed him that he was intending to marry, and that Philip's sister, the Dowager-Duchess of Savoy, was the woman of his choice. He demanded with her the sum of 300,000 crowns, of which 100,000 should be paid in August - it was already the 10th of March - and the remainder in six years by equal instalments. Besides this, Margaret, the duchess, was in the annual receipt of two dowries; one as the widow of John, Prince of Spain, and the other as widow of Philibert, Duke of Savoy, for she had been twice married already. This income Henry stipulated should be settled upon himself - poor man! as if he were so destitute of income already - and the princess was to receive instead an income as queen of England. That meant that Henry would have an income certain, and give her one most uncertain, for at this very time Catherine, the widow of his son Arthur, and betrothed bride of his son Henry, was kept by him in a condition, of the most shameful destitution.

Philip consented - for what could he do? - and that point settled, Henry informed Philip that he had also a son, whom he, Henry, proposed to marry to his youngest daughter, Mary. This must have been a still more bitter draught for the poor Spanish monarch than the former. Henry had already made this very proposal, and it had been at once rejected. This son of Philip, the future celebrated Emperor Charles V., was now a child of six years of age, and the little Princess Mary was just three! Philip, however much he might inwardly rebel, and however differently he had planned the destiny of his son, was in the miser's vice, and the thing was done.

Henry next proceeded to dictate a new treaty of commerce betwixt England and Flanders, reversing the advantages which Flanders had before enjoyed, and placing them on the side of England. This change the Flemish denounced bitterly when it became known. They had called their old treaty with England the intercursus magnus - the great treaty - but this they dubbed the intercursus malus - the bad treaty. These matters being settled, Henry consented to lend Philip 138,000 on good and profitable securities, to assist him in his enterprise of obtaining his wife's throne in Spain; and then demanded that he should put into his hands the unfortunate Earl of Suffolk, who was now in the Netherlands. At this demand Philip recoiled in disgust. It was a direct attack upon his honour, and if Henry had had one spark of feeling himself he would have called to mind his own ideas when Richard III. demanded his surrender from the Duke of Brittany. But Philip must either yield or remain an actual captive himself at Windsor; he therefore consented, on the strict condition that the life of the earl should be spared. This being conceded, Philip wrote to assure the earl that he might safely venture to return to England. Suffolk returned, to enable Philip, his benefactor, to

escape from the clutches of Henry, and on the earl's surrender, Philip was permitted to take his leave. Henry thirsted for the blood of Suffolk, but, fearful of offending Philip, he refrained from putting the earl to death; he kept him shut up in the Tower, and left at his death a strict order that his successor should have him executed.

The visit which Juana made to Windsor, during these extraordinary proceedings, was studiedly short. She arrived on the 10th of February, and left again on the 12th, thus remaining little more than a day, after the long journey from Weyniouth in the winter, though her husband was at Windsor with her. But there were reasons sufficiently strong why Juana should not have too much opportunity for speech with her sister Catherine, the Princess of Wales. Catherine, as we have said, was kept by Henry in a condition of poverty arid insult which would have created a great sensation in Spain if it became known, and which was likely to stir uneasily the heart of a sister. The miserable king, angry at not receiving the remainder of her dower - for since her mother's death the state of Castille had refused to pay it, and Ferdinand was, therefore, unable to remit it - revenged himself by taunting her with the non-payment of the money. When she assured him that her father was certain to discharge it at one time or another, he replied churlishly, "that was yet to see," and that "he did not know that." Nor did he confine himself to taunts: he refused to pay her allotted income as Dowager-Princess of Wales. The endowing her by Prince Arthur with one-third of his property at the church door was a cruel farce: she had nothing. The residences assigned to her were such as lay low - as Durham House, in the Strand, or Arragon House, at Twickenham - and the great change from the warm, dry air of Spain fixed on her an obstinate intermittent fever, of which she was suffering for more than a year. In this condition she was not blessed with a penny. She complains in her letters to her father that she was in debt in London for herself and household - not for extravagance, but simply for food. She implores her father with tears to prevail on the King of England to discharge her debts. "My lord," she says, "I am in the greatest trouble and anguish in the world, on the one part seeing all my people that they are ready to ask alms; on the other, the debts that I have in London. About my own person I have nothing for chemises, wherefore, by your highness's life, I have now sold some bracelets to get a dress of black velvet; for, since I departed from Spain, I have had nothing but two new dresses, for till now those I brought have lasted me, although now I have got nothing but dresses of brocade."

The death of her husband, Prince Arthur, and of her mother, had compelled her to get these two only new dresses, as mourning. But there was also a dispute going on betwixt Henry and Ferdinand, the brunt of which fell on the princess. Ferdinand contended that Catherine's jewels, amounting in value to 33,000 crowns, were meant as a part of the 200,000 crowns of dowry, but this Henry would not admit, but insisted on the payment in full.

Such was the situation of this unfortunate princess with this most miserable of royal misers. She was longing to get away to her own country again. She was strongly opposed to the second marriage with Prince Henry - who was a mere boy - and, therefore, took no pains to learn the English language. But fresh events added fresh complications to her dreary case. Philip of Flanders, or, as he was oftener called, Philip the Fair of Austria, was but an invalid when he set out on his unlucky voyage to Spain. His detention in England during the three most trying months of its trying climate, January, February, and March, added to the vexation of the engagement forced upon him by the relentless Henry, are said to have completely broken his constitution; he sank and died in about six months. No sooner did King Henry hear this news, than, throwing aside all further thoughts of the Duchess of Savoy, he applied for the hand of Juana, the widow of Philip. With Juana, Queen of Castille, and Charles, her son, the heir of all Spain, the Netherlands, and Austria, married to his daughter Mary, what visions of greatness and empire must have swum before the keen eyes of Henry, and excited his intense passion of acquisitiveness! Ferdinand returned for answer, that the proposal would have been well pleasing to him, but that Queen Juana, from violent grief for the loss of her husband, was become thoroughly and permanently insane. This answer, which would have been all-sufficient for most men, was treated as a mere trifle by Henry, who replied that he knew the queen, having seen her in England; that her derangement of mind was not the effect of grief, but of the harsh treatment of Philip; that she would soon be all right, and that he was quite ready to marry her. Ferdinand reiterated the certainty of the lady's fixed madness, and Henry rejoined that if he was not allowed to marry her, the king's other daughter, Catherine, should never marry his son.

There is no doubt that, could Henry have secured the hand of Juana, "the Mad Queen," as she came to be called, he would have broken off the contract betwixt Henry, his son, and Catherine, and kept her and her dower in England nevertheless. But the marriage of Henry VII. with Juana being an impossibility, Ferdinand promised to remit the remaining half of Catherine's dower by instalments, and Henry consented that the marriage of the two young people should take place as soon as the money was paid. Catherine, whose letters to her father had, for the most part, been intercepted and detained by Henry, at length gave up her opposition also to the wedding, declaring, in one of these letters, that it was better for her to marry the prince than remain in the woful condition of destitution and dependence in which her father-in-law kept her - a condition vastly aggravated by the fact that Henry had corrupted the Spanish minister at his Court, Dr. Peubla, and made of him one of the most oppressive of his tools against his own princess and countrywoman. The remainder of the dower, however, was never paid up during Henry's time, and therefore the marriage did not take place till after his death.

In the midst of his grasping, his hoarding, and his scheming, his end was drawing on, though he was far from an old man. The gout had long visited him with its periodical attacks. He was liable, during the cold and variable weather of spring, to complaints of the chest, which assumed the appearance of consumption, and occasionally reduced him very low. As these seizures became progressively severe, the warning voice of conscience startled him from his repose, and he began to look with terror towards that tribunal where kings stand alone without their flatterers, and where the cries of the oppressed cannot be stifled by rude soldiers, or eluded by legal quibbles. The blood of Sir William Stanley and of the innocent Earl of Warwick, lay heavy on his soul, and the disregarded prayers of his people, fleeced and tortured by his emissaries, Dudley and Empson, disturbed his midnight hours. His flatterers endeavoured to console him by declaring that he had been so good a prince that his soul would mount direct to heaven as it left the body; but he did not himself appear quite so confident about that. On the contrary, he had a very lively dread of going in a different direction, and resorted to the usual refuge of bad kings - the aid of the priests, from whom he hoped to purchase exemption from deserved punishment. He had founded three priories; but this did not appear to his guilty conscience enough. He therefore bargained for an infinite number of masses, and established in his magnificent chapel at Westminster a fund for a perpetual offering of them for his soul. He had great faith in the power of money, of which he had hoarded up 1,800,000, equal to 18,000,000 of our present money, which he kept carefully locked up in chests at his palace near Richmond, besides a vast amount in jewels. Being very ill in the spring of 1507, he distributed alms to the poor, and discharged all the prisoners in London who were confined for fees or debts of less than forty shillings.

But nothing shows more curiously how such long-practised criminals juggle with their own souls than his behaviour regarding Dudley and Empson, the instruments of his perpetual robberies of the people. When the sickness was strong upon him he ordered them to cease their villanies; as he got worse he commanded them even to make restitution to those they had pillaged and imprisoned; but as he grew better again, he instructed them that it was only necessary to recompense such as had not been dealt with according to the regular forms of law - so that, as these vultures generally tore their victims in a legal fashion, and as they themselves were made the judges of the necessary restitution, very little was done. The terrors of death, however, drew nearer; and the struggles of the wretched man clinging to the earth and to his useless gold, and recoiling from the pains of purgatory, if not of something worse, appear in a vivid manner in his will.

This singular document was signed at Richmond on the last day of March, 1509, just three weeks before his death. In this he directs his executors to cause 2,000 masses to be said for his soul within a month after his decease, at the rate of sixpence a piece. He orders them, also, to distribute 2,000 to prisoners and poor people, on condition that they also pray for his soul by name - for even in death Henry Tudor must have his quid pro quo. "And in this partie," ho says, "we hertily desire our

executores to thinke and considere how necessarie, behoofful, and how profitable it is to dede folks to be praied for." He had some time before made formal contracts with the clergy of all the cathedrals, conventual and collegiate churches in the kingdom, to say a certain number of masses and prayers, for certain sums of money, and he now granted them by his will fresh sums to engage them to say their masses with increased fervency, and their prayers with greater zeal. Such are the confessions which Death, the great master, forces even from the bosoms of kings, which have been wrapt in the splendour of gold and the softness of ermine, and have looked to the simple spectator so noble and so serene.

Henry VII. died at his palace of Richmond on the 21 st of April, 1509, in the fifty-fourth year of his age and the twenty-fourth of his reign. With all the vices of his character he was fortunate as a monarch, and by his very mean and parsimonious nature benefited the nation. In passing judgment upon him it is necessary to separate our estimate of the monarch from that of the man. As a man he was essentially a mean one; as a monarch he had nothing great and magnanimous about him; but he appeared in times when repose was essentially necessary to the nation, and he gave it that, because he could not find it in his heart to spend his money in war. Thus his sordid nature, which was otherwise contemptible, became almost virtuous, as it secured the realm from foreign expenses, which would further have exhausted it. He plundered his subjects by his commissioners, but they were not dragged so often to the battle-field, nor had their harvests trodden down and their houses burnt by contending parties. The peace which he gave them was salutary, though it might be ignominious; and Henry had this virtue for a monarch - he was a man of business. He attended to his own affairs; and while he locked his motives and his plans inviolably in his own breast, he set his ministers and subordinates their work, and he saw that it was done. Though he was not wide in his mental horizon, and was utterly incapable of a truly great design, he pondered well what he meant to do, and did it so completely, that that grovelling cunning of his was lauded by his contemporaries as profound wisdom, and they called him the Solomon of the age. But then it was an age unexampled in a race of unprincipled and perfidious princes. Louis of France, Ferdinand of Spain, the Pope Alexander VI., his detestable son, Caesar Borgia, and our Henry, have been well said "to have acted in blood and treachery all that Machiavelli afterwards wrote."

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Pictures for Reign of Henry VII. - (continued) page 9

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