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Reign of Henry the Eighth page 2

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The first means of exciting him to mingle in the distraction of the Continent were found in the fact that Louis XII. of France was reluctant to continue the annual, payment of £80,000 which he made to his father. Henry had made a considerable vacuum in the treasury chests of his father, and was not willing to forego this convenient subsidy. There were those on the watch ready to stimulate him to hostile action. Pope Julius II., and Ferdinand of Spain, had their own reasons for fomenting ill-will betwixt Louis of France and Henry. Louis had added Milan, and part of the north of Italy, to the French crown. Ferdinand had become possessed of Naples and Sicily, first, by aiding the French in conquering them, and then by driving out the French. Pope Julius was equally averse to the presence of the French and Spaniards in Italy, but he was, at the same time, jealous of the spreading power of Venice, and therefore concealed his ultimate designs against France and Spain, so that he might engage Louis and Ferdinand to aid him in humbling Venice. For this purpose he engaged Louis, Ferdinand, and Maximilian of Austria to enter into a league at Cam-bray, as early as December, 1508, by which they engaged to assist him in regaining the dominions of the church from the Venetians. Henry, who had no interest in the matter, was induced, in course of time, to add his name to this league, as a faithful son of the church.

No sooner had Julius driven back the Venetians, and reduced them to seek for peace, than he found occasion to quarrel with the French, and a new league was formed to protect the Pope from what he termed the ambitious designs of the French, into which Ferdinand, Maximilian, and Henry entered. Louis XII., seeing this powerful alliance arrayed against him, determined to carry a war of another nature into the camp of the militant Pope Julius. He induced a number of the cardinals to declare against the violence and aggressive spirit of the pontiff, as totally unbecoming his sacred character. But Julius, who, though now old, had all the resolution and the ambition of youth, set this schismatic

conclave at defiance. He declared Pisa, where the opposing cardinals had summoned a council, and every other place to which they transferred themselves under an interdict. He excommunicated all cardinals and prelates who should attend any such council, and not only they, but any temporal prince or chief who should receive, shelter, or countenance them.

At the same time that Julius launched his thunders thus liberally at his disobedient cardinals, he made every court in Europe ring with his outcries against the perfidy and lawless ambition of Louis, who, not content with seizing on Milan, he now asserted, was striving to make himself master of the domains of the holy Mother Church. Henry was prompt in responding to this appeal. He regarded the claims of the church as sacred and binding on all Christian princes; he had his own demands on Louis, and he was naturally disposed to co-operate with his father-in-law, Ferdinand. But beyond this, he was greatly nattered by the politic Pope declaring him "the head of the Italian league;" and assuring him that Louis by his hostility to the church, having forfeited the title of the "Most Christian King," he would transfer it to him. Henry was perfectly intoxicated by these skilful addresses to his vanity, and condescended to a piece of deception which, though often practised by potentates and statesmen, is at all times unworthy of any Englishman; he joined the Kings of Scotland and Spain, in recommending Louis to make peace with the Pope, on condition that Bologna should be restored to the Church, the council of cardinals at Pisa be dissolved, and the cause of Alphonso, the Duke of Ferrara, whose territories Julius, the fighting Pope, had invaded, should be referred to impartial judges. These propositions on the part of Henry were made by Young, the English ambassador: but Louis, on his part, was perfectly aware at this very time that Henry was not only in alliance with the Pope and Spain, but had engaged to join Ferdinand in an invasion of France at spring. He therefore treated the hollow overture with just contempt.

Henry was at this time in profound peace with Louis. He had but a few months before renewed his treaty with him, yet he was at the very time that he sent his hypocritical proposal of arbitration, diligently, though secretly, preparing for war with him. He sent a commission to gentlemen in each county on June 20th, 1511, to array and exercise all the men-at-arms and archers in their county, and to make a return of their names, and the quality of their arms, before the 1st of August.

On opening his plans to his council, he there met with strong dissuasion from war against France, and on very rational grounds. It was contended that "the natural situation of islands seems not to consort with conquests on the Continent. If we will enlarge ourselves, let it be in the way for which Providence hath fitted us, which is by sea." Never was sounder or more enlightened council given to an English king. Had our rulers always borne this in mind, we should now inherit from our ancestors a. larger glory and a lesser debt. But such language was in vain addressed to the ears of Henry, which had been assiduously tickled by the emissaries of Pope Julius and Ferdinand the Artful, who assured him that nothing would be more easy, while they attacked France in other quarters, than to recover all the provinces once possessed there. He hastened to form a separate treaty with his running father-in-law, who had his own scheme in it, and this treaty was signed on the 10th of November, 1511. The preamble of this treaty was a fine specimen of the solemn pretences with which men attempt to varnish over their unprincipled designs. It represented Louis as an enemy to God and religion, a cruel and unrelenting persecutor of the Church, one who despised all admonition, and had rejected the generous offer of the Pope to pardon all his sins. It then added, that "knowing how detrimental such conduct must prove to the Catholic faith, to the Church of God, and the welfare of Christendom, they had thought proper to agree upon the following articles, to the praise and glory of Almighty God, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the whole triumphant court of heaven."

And what was this pious scheme, so greatly to the glory of God and of all heaven? It was professedly to seize on the French province of Guienne, in which Ferdinand promised to help Henry, but in reality to seize Navarre, in which Ferdinand meant Henry to help him, but took care not to say so. The old man, long practised in every art of royal treachery, was far too knowing for the vainglorious young man his son-in-law.

Things being put into this train, Henry sent a herald to Louis, to command him not to make war upon the Pope, whom he styled "the father of all Christians." Louis, who was well acquainted with all that was going on, knew that Pope Julius was as much a soldier and # politician as a Pope. He was the most busy, scheming, restless, and ambitious old man of his time. He not only made war on his neighbours, but attended the field in person, watched the progress of sieges, saw his attendants fall by his very side, and inspected all his outposts with the watchful diligence of a prudent general. Louis knew that he was at the bottom of all these leagues against him, and he only smiled at Henry's message. This herald was therefore speedily followed by another, demanding the surrender of Anjou, Maine, Normandy, and Guienne, as Henry's lawful inheritance. This, of course, was tantamount to a declaration of war, and the formal declaration only awaited the sanction of Henry by Parliament. Parliament was therefore summoned by him on the 4th of February, 1512, and was opened by Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, with a sermon, the extraordinary text of which was – "Righteousness and peace hath kissed each other."

On this peaceful text the prelate held forth for an hour and a half; Stowe says, "to his great commendation and the singular comfort of his hearers." But on the fifteenth day of the session, this note of promised tranquillity was disturbed by the chancellor producing in the Lords an apostolic brief, charged with the most grievous complaints of the injuries done to the Pope and the Church by the King of France. The chancellor then disclosed the fact that this was the real cause for the summoning of this Parliament; and, accompanied by the treasurer and some other members, he went to the Commons and made this same statement. Henry now found a very different reception of his warlike purposes to what he had done in the council. Both Houses displayed all the old passion for war with France. The nobility and gentry had not yet been sufficiently taught the folly of seeking to enrich themselves by the plunder of that country; the nation was yet resentful of the loss of our possessions there, and far

from comprehending that we were much better without them; that, as the council had wisely suggested, a far more superb and affluent dominion lay for us in the ocean. Two-tenths and two-fifteenths were cheerfully granted Henry for prosecuting the war, and the clergy in convocation voted a subsidy of £23,000.

Thus zealously supported and encouraged, Henry despatched Clarenceaux, King-at-arms, to Louis, with a declaration of war, and sent an army of 10,000 men, chiefly archers, with a train of artillery, under command of the Marquis of Dorset, to co-operate with the Spaniards for the reduction of Guienne. These troops embarked at Southampton, May 16th, 1512, and soon landed safely at Guipuscoa, whilst the fleet under the Lord Admiral, Sir Edward Howard, cruised during the summer off the coast. With the English army, besides the commander-in-chief, the Marquis of Dorset, there were Lord Howard, son of the Earl of Surrey, the Lord Broke, the Lord Ferrers, and many gentlemen of the noblest families of England. They were all eager to be led against Guienne, the avowed object of the expedition, and Ferdinand promised them a speedy union of his own forces. Meantime he ordered them to encamp at Fontarabia, near the mouth of the Bidassoa. Dorset proposed at once to cross that river into France, and to proceed to the siege of Bayonne; but, as he had not sufficient numbers or artillery himself to attempt a regular investment of the place, he was compelled to wait for the arrival of the Spanish army. But Ferdinand's real object was a very different one: his intention was not to secure Guienne for his duped son-in-law, but Navarre for himself.

Navarre was a separate kingdom in possession of John d'Albret, who had married the heiress, the Infanta Catalina; and, justly suspicious of the covetous intentions of the King of Spain, he had sought to fortify himself against it by a secret treaty with the King of France. "While, therefore, Dorset and his army were impatiently waiting for the Spanish reinforcements, they received from Ferdinand a message that it would not be safe for them to quit the Spanish frontiers until they had secured the neutrality of the King of Navarre, who was also Lord of Bearne, on the French side of the Pyrenees. The English had thus to wait while Ferdinand demanded of D'Albret a pledge of strict neutrality during the present war. D'Albret readily assented to this; but Ferdinand then demanded security for his keeping this neutrality. To this also John of Navarre freely acceded; which was again followed by a demand from Ferdinand, that this security should consist of the surrender of six of the most considerable places in his dominions into the hands of the Spaniards, and of his son as a hostage. The King of Navarre was compelled to refuse so unreasonable a requisition, and therefore Ferdinand, professing to believe that D'Albret meant to cut off the communication of the Spanish army with Spain if it ventured into France, and showing that he had obtained a copy of the secret treaty of D'Albret with Louis, immediately ordered the Duke of Alva to invade Navarre, who soon made himself master of the smaller towns and the open country, and then summoned, to their great astonishment, the England to march into Navarre, and assist him to reduce Pampeluna.

Dorset now perceived the real game that was being played. Having no orders, however, to do anything but attack Guienne, he positively refused to move a foot for the reduction of Navarre, and demanded afresh the supplies of artillery and horse which had been guaranteed for that enterprise. But Ferdinand with all suavity replied, that it was quite out of the question to furnish him with any till Navarre was made secure; that was the first necessary step, and that effected, he should be prepared to march with him to Bayonne, Bordeaux, and to the conquest of all Guienne.

These representations only increased the disgust of Dorset and his army: but they could do nothing but await the event, and saw themselves thus most adroitly posted by Ferdinand, as the necessary guard of his position against the French, whilst he accomplished his long-desired acquisition of Navarre. So Alva went on leisurely reducing Pampeluna, Ferdinand still calling on Dorset to accelerate the business by marching to Alva's support.

Thus the summer was passed in mutual recriminations. The English, too inconsiderable in force to attempt the siege of Bayonne alone, lay inactive in their camp, cursing the perfidy of their treacherous ally, and brooding gloomily over all their blasted hopes from the expedition. Ill supplied with provisions, and indulging too freely in the fruits and wines of the country, disease ravaged the army, as it had done that of the Black Prince in the same country and the same circumstances, when supporting Pedro the Cruel. Dorset repeatedly demanded transports to lead back his perishing army to England; and, at length, when Navarre was perfectly secured, Ferdinand offered to join the English and march with them into Guienne. This Dorset rejected; for he found that the real design was, first to march into Bearne, the King of Navarre's hereditary territory, and whither he had fled on the fall of Pampeluna. Dorset indignantly repeated his demand for transports. This was at length granted; and scarcely had he sailed, when orders reached Spain from Henry, in consequence of Ferdinand's representations, that the army should remain and follow the route indicated by the King of Spain.

Henry did not yet perceive how grossly he had been deluded by his loving father-in-law, who had only used | him to secure a kingdom for himself most essential to the compactness and power of Spain; and he would have been led by him to assist in his still contemplated aggressions. Meantime Louis, more clearly cognisant of the game, marched his troops into Bearne, and left them, professedly for his ally, whilst the remnant of the English army reached home, shorn of all its anticipated honours, reduced in numbers, in rags, and more than half famished. Henry was disposed to charge upon Dorset the disasters and disappointments of the expedition, but the officers succeeded in convincing him that they could not have done differently, consistent with their orders; but the time was yet far off when the vain-glorious young king was to have his eyes opened to the selfish deceptions which his Machiavelian father-in-law was practising upon him.

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