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 the Eighth page 3


Pages: 1 2 <3> 4 5 6

At sea, the fleet under Sir Edward Howard had not been more successful than the forces on land. Sir Edward harassed the coasts of Brittany during the spring and summer, and on the 10th of August fell in with a fleet of thirty-nine sail, under the command of Admiral Primauget. Sir Charles Brandon, afterwards the Duke

of Suffolk, bore clown upon the Cordelier, of Brest, a vessel of huge bulk, and carrying 900 men. Brandon's vessel was soon dismasted, and fell astern, giving place to the Regent, the largest vessel in the English navy, a ship of 1,000 tons. The Regent was commanded by Sir Thomas Knevet, a young officer of a daring character. He continued the contest with Primauget for more than an hour, when, another ship coming to his aid, Primauget set fire to the Cordelier, the flames of which soon catching the Regent, which lay alongside with her in full action, both vessels were wrapt in fire, amid which the crews continued their desperate fight till the I French admiral's ship blew up, destroying with it the Regent; and all the crews went down, with the commanders, amid the horror of the spectators. The rest of the French fleet then escaped into Brest, and Sir Edward Howard made a vow to God that he would never see the king's face again till he had avenged the death of the valiant Sir Thomas Knevet.

But though Henry had been duped by the wily Ferdinand, and had suffered greatly at sea, his efforts had inflicted very serious evil on the King of France. The menace of his dominions in the south, and the English fleet hovering upon his coasts, had prevented him sending into Italy the necessary force to ensure lasting advantage there. At first his generals marched forward with the impetuosity characteristic of French troops, and drove the armies of the Pope and of Ferdinand before them. On the 11th of April they forced the entrenched camp under the walls of Ravenna, and carried that city by assault. It was a splendid but a fatal action. The general, Gaston de Foix, a young nobleman of the highest bravery and genius, fell, and with him 10,000 of his best soldiers. La Palice, who succeeded to the command, sent urgent despatches to Louis for fresh forces, and whilst awaiting them proceeded to complete the subjection of the rest of Romagna. But Louis was not able to spare him the necessary reinforcement, and therefore he led back the remains of his victorious army to Milan, where he continued to maintain himself - still urging the absolute necessity of fresh troops - till December. But no forces arrived; the Italians rose and harassed him on all sides; the Pope engaged a body of Swiss to inarch down upon him, and, therefore, giving up the city to Maximilian Sforza, the son of the late duke, Palice endeavoured to secure his retreat. The enemy pursued him with renewed fury, and coming up with him on the banks of the Ticino, defeated him with a loss of one-fourth of his number. Before Christmas Julius had fulfilled his boast that he would drive the barbarians beyond the Alps. He had done it, says Muratori, without stopping a moment to ask himself whether this was the precise function oi the chief pastor of the Church.

Louis, convinced that the Holy League, as it was called, was proving too strong for him, employed the ensuing winter in devising means to break it up, or to corrupt some of its members. Julius, the great soul of the league, died - a grand advantage to Louis - in February, 1513, and the new pontiff, Leo X., who was Cardinal John de Medici, though he prosecuted the same object of clearing Italy of the foreigner, did not possess the same belligerent temperament as his predecessor. Leo laboured to keep the league together, but at the same time he was busily engaged in schemes for the aggrandisement of his own family, and especially of securing to it the sovereignty of Florence. In pursuing this object, Venice felt itself neglected in its claims of support against the emperor, and went over to the alliance with France. Yet the plan of a renewed league betwixt the Pope, the emperor, the Kings of Spain and England, against Louis, which had long been secretly concocting at Mechlin, was signed by the plenipotentiaries on the 5th of April, 1513. By this league Leo engaged to invade France in Provence or Dauphiny, and to launch all the thunders of the Church at Louis. He had managed to detach the emperor from the French king, and engaged him to attack France from his own side, but not in Italy. To enable him to take the field, Henry of England was to advance him 100,000 crowns of gold. Ferdinand engaged to invade Bearne, for which he particularly yearned, or Languedoc; Henry to attack Normandy, Picardy, or Guienne. All the invading armies were to be strong and well appointed, and none of the confederates were to make a peace without the consent of all the rest.

Henry, in his self-confident ardour, blinded by his vanity, little read as yet in the wiles and selfish cunning of men, was delighted with this accomplished league. To him it appeared overwhelming, and Louis of France, encompassed on all sides, certain of utter defeat, and thus as certain to be compelled to restore all the rich provinces which his fathers had wrested from England. But little did he dream that at the very moment he was empowering his plenipotentiary to sign this league, his Spanish father-in-law was signing another with Louis himself, in conjunction with James of Scotland and the Duke of Gueldres. By this Ferdinand engaged to be quiet, and do Louis no harm. In fact, none of the parties in that league meant to fight at all. Their only object was to obtain Henry's money, or to derive some other advantage from him, and they would enjoy the pleasure of seeing him expending his wealth and his energies in the war on France, and thus reducing his too formidable ascendancy in Europe. Ferdinand's intention was to spend the summer in strengthening his position in the newly acquired kingdom of Navarre, and Maximilian, the emperor, having got the subsidy from Henry, would be ready to reap farther benefits whilst he idly amused the young king with his pretences of service. Henry alone was all on fire to wipe away the disgrace of his troops, and the disasters of his navy; to win martial renown, and to restore the ancient continental possessions of the crown.

The war commenced first at sea. Sir Edward Howard, burning to discharge his vow by taking vengeance for the death of Admiral Knevet, blockaded the harbour of Brest. On the 23rd of April he attempted to cut away a squadron of six galleys, moored in the bay of Conquet, a few leagues from Brest, and commanded by Admiral Prejeant, or Prior-John. With two galleys, one of which he gave into the command of Lord Ferrers, and four boats, he rowed up to the admiral's galley, leaped upon its deck, and was followed by one Carroz, a Spanish cavalier, and sixteen Englishmen. But the cable which bound the vessel to that of Prejeant being cut, his ship instead of lying alongside, fell astern, and left him unsupported. He was forced overboard with all his gallant followers, by

the pikes of an overwhelming weight of the enemy, and perished. Sir Thomas Cheney, Sir John Wallop, and Sir William Sidney, seeing the danger of Sir Edward Howard, pressed forward to his rescue, but in vain, and the English fleet, discouraged by the loss of their gallant commander, put back to port. Prejeant sailed out of harbour after it, and gave chase, but failing in overtaking it, he made a descent on the coast of Sussex, where he was repulsed, and lost an eye by the shot of an arrow. Henry, on hearing the unfortunate affair of Brest, appointed Lord Thomas Howard to his brother's post, and bade him go out and avenge his death; whereupon the French fleet again made sail for Brest, and left the English masters of the Channel.

Whilst these events were occurring at sea, Henry himself was endeavouring, before leaving for France, to secure a treaty with James of Scotland, that he might have no fear of a disturbance in his absence, from that quarter. Henry knew that James had various causes of complaint. The destruction of his admiral, Sir Andrew Barton, by the English admirals, Lord Howard and Sir Edward Howard, the two sons of the brave Earl of Surrey, whom Henry had treated as a pirate, was a bitter memory in James's breast. Henry had, moreover, refused to deliver the jewels which his father had left to Margaret, Queen of Scotland, Henry's own sister, and for which James had made repeated demands. These and other matters made James IV. indisposed to friendly relations with Henry; while, on the other hand, he was flattered and courted by France. Anne, the French queen, sent him a ring from her own finger, and named him her knight; and Louis was equally prodigal of his presents.

When, therefore, the envoy of Henry, Doctor West, Dean of Windsor, was dispatched to Edinburgh in April, to endeavour to accommodate all matters of difference, he found James busy putting his fleet in order, and West reported that there was "one mighty great ship, which was to carry more ordnance than the French king had ever had in the siege of any town." This did not look very pacific, and James was haughty and stiff, though he declared that he had no intention of breaking the truce. The fact was, as we have seen, James was actually solicited to join in a treaty with France and Spain, which was signed secretly, about the same time that the famous league was ratified by Spain, the emperor, and the Pope, with Henry. Under these circumstances, no good result could take place, though Henry, in his anxiety for a safe peace with Scotland, had given one commission for that purpose to William Lord Conyers and Sir Robert Drury on the 2nd of February, and another on the 15th of the same month to Dean West. Convinced, however, that argument was hopeless, unless he gave up his sister's jewels, and made open concessions, which his pride would not admit of, he ordered all his towns and forts on the Scottish borders to be put into a state of perfect defence; and appointed the Earl of Surrey, the ablest general, to take the command there, desiring him to array all the fencible men in Yorkshire and the five other northern counties, and have them in constant readiness to oppose the Scots.

Whilst ordering these arrangements in reference to Scotland, Henry all the time had been actively employed in his preparations for the invasion of France. The long peace had had its usual effect in unfitting the English for military matters, while the war which had been constantly waging on the Continent had rendered those nations more formidable and expert. There was a great change, moreover, in ore over, in the weapons employed. The Swiss and the Spaniards had greatly improved the stability and tactics of their infantry, which, armed with pike and sword, was often more than a match for the heavy-armed cavalry of the period. Firearms had grown considerably into use, but the cannon was so heavy and difficult to transport and of quick removal, and the hand-guns were so clumsy, that they could not, after all, compete with the English bow in practical hands. Peace in England, however, had greatly decayed that practice, and strenuous exertions, all spring and early summer, were obliged to be made to render the archers equal to those who had done such wonders in France aforetime.

In June, however, Henry deemed himself fully prepared to cross with his army to Calais. Lord Howard was ordered to bring his fleet into the Channel, to cover the r as sage, and on the 6th of June, 1513, the vanguard of the army passed over, under the command of the Earl of Shrewsbury, accompanied by the Earl of Derby, the Lords Fitzwater, Hastings, Cobham, and Sir Rice ap Thomas. A second division followed on the 16th, under Lord Herbert, the chamberlain, accompanied by the Earls of Northumberland and Kent; the Lords Audley and Delawar, with Carew, Curson, and many other gentlemen. Henry himself followed on the 30th, with the main body and the rear of the army. The whole force consisted of 25,000 men, the majority of which consisted of the old victorious arm of archers.

Before leaving Dover, to which place the queen attended him, Henry appointed her regent during his absence, and constituted Archbishop Warham and Sir Thomas Lovel her chief counsellors and ministers. On the plea of leaving no cause of disturbance behind him to trouble her majesty, he cut off the head of the Earl of Suffok. The reader will remember the art by which Henry VII. inveigled this nobleman into his hands at the time of the visit of the Archduke Philip, on the assurance that he would not take his life. We have related that Henry VII., however, on his death-bed, left an order that his son should put him to death. The earl had remained till now prisoner in the Tower, and Henry had been fatally reminded of him and of his father's dying injunction by the imprudence of Richard de la Pole, the brother of Suffolk, who had not only attempted to revive the York faction, but had taken a high command in the French army.

Henry himself, instead of crossing direct to Calais, ran down the coast as far as Boulogne, firing continually his artillery to terrify the French, and then returning entered Calais amid a tremendous uproar of cannon from ships and batteries, announcing rather prematurely that another English monarch was come to conquer France. In order to this conquest, however, he found none of his allies fulfilling their agreements, except the Swiss, who, always alive at the touch of money, and having fingered that of Henry, were in full descent on the south of France, elated, moreover, with their victory over the

French in the last Italian campaign. Maximilian who had received 120,000 crowns, was not yet visible. But Henry's own officers had show no remissness. Before his arrival, Lord Herbert and the Earl of Shrewsbury had laid siege to Terouenne, a town situate on the borders of Picardy, where they found a stout resistance from the two commanders, Teligni and Crequi. The siege had been continued a month, and Henry, engaged in a round of pleasures and gaieties in Calais amongst his courtiers, seemed to have forgotten the great business before him, of rivalling the Edwards and the fifth of his own name. But news from the scene of action at length roused him. The besieged people of Terouenne, on the point of starvation, contrived to send word of-their situation to Louis, who dispatched Fontrailles with 800 Albanian horses, each soldier carrying behind him a sack of gunpowder and two quarters of bacon. Coming unawares upon the English camp, they made a sudden dash through it, up to the town fosse, where flinging down their load, which was as quickly snatched up by the famishing inhabitants, they returned at full gallop, and so great was the surprise of the English that they again cut their way out and got clear off.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 <3> 4 5 6

Pictures for Reign of Henry the Eighth page 3

Great Seal of Henry VIII
Great Seal of Henry VIII >>>>
Henry's clock
Henry's clock >>>>
Henry VIII
Henry VIII >>>>
Death of Gaston de Foix at Ravenna
Death of Gaston de Foix at Ravenna >>>>
The Battle of Spurs
The Battle of Spurs >>>>
Costumes in the time of Henry VIII
Costumes in the time of Henry VIII >>>>
Great Ship of King Henry VIII
Great Ship of King Henry VIII >>>>
The Shrine of Prince Arthur
The Shrine of Prince Arthur >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About