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Reign of Henry the Eighth. - (Continued) page 3


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With all his haughtiness and overgrown state, he pleased the people by his summary dealings with great offenders, especially with the detested class of public harpies of whom Dudley and Empson had been the chief. That people of small means might obtain justice, he established courts of request, and made other reforms in the administration of the laws. On many occasions, to settle family quarrels, he would offer himself as arbitrator; and in the Court of Chancery, though unacquainted with the quirks and subtleties of law, he decided, on the principle of common sense, to the wonderful satisfaction of clients. So great was the practice brought into his court, that the king, to enable him to get through the business, established four subordinate tribunals, of which that in which the Master of the Rolls still presides is one.

But, on the other hand, Wolsey's towering ambition and selfwill led him to commit equal crimes and injustice. No man, or thing, which stood in his way was safe. His domestic domination could brook no rival; the highest and the noblest perished if they offended him; arid his foreign policy was dictated entirely by his own private purposes. The primal object of his life was to achieve the Popedom; and as kings or courtiers favoured or opposed his wishes, they experienced his favour or resentment; and so long as his hold on Henry lasted, his frown was war, his smile peace, wherever they fell. Such was Wolsey at this moment; such he continued for a decade of remarkable years. His eye was constantly traversing Europe. In every court and country he had his secret, as well as his avowed, agents. The most hidden movements were quickly revealed to him, and all his machinery was instantly in motion to promote or counteract. In the pursuance of his objects he shamefully abused the confidence of his royal patron, and sacrificed the honour and the interests of the country, and of Europe, in the indulgence of his passions, and the prosecution of his private interests. His ostensible object was to regulate the balance of Europe, threatened in its equilibrium by the rival houses of Prance and Austria; but his real one was to raise or repress those powers with reference to his claims on the Popedom.

The peace which Henry had made with the young monarch of France, was not destined to be of long continuance. Francis I. soon had the misfortune to offend both Henry and Wolsey, and in their separate interests. James IV. of Scotland had left by his will the regency of his kingdom to his widow. The convention of the states confirmed this arrangement, but on condition that the queen remained unmarried. James V., her son, of whom she was to retain the guardianship, was on his father's j death an infant of only a year and-a-half old. In less than seven months after the death of her husband, Margaret was delivered of a second son, Alexander, Duke of Boss; and in less than three months after that she married, in defiance of the convention of the states, Douglas, Earl of Angus, a young man of handsome person, but of an ambitious and headstrong character. This marriage gave great offence to a great number of the nobility, especially those who had a leaning to France. They asserted that Henry of England, the queen's brother, notwithstanding that he had deprived her of her husband, and notwithstanding her difficult position as the widowed mother of an infant king, so far from supporting her, took every opportunity to attack her borders. They therefore recommended that they should recall from France John, Duke of Albany, the son of Alexander, who had been banished by his brother James III., and place the regency in his hands. Albany, though of Scotch origin, was a Frenchman by birth, education, and taste. He had not a foot of land in Scotland, but in France he had extensive demesnes, and stood high in favour of the monarch.

At the head of the party in opposition to the queen was Lord Home, on whose conduct at Flodden aspersions had been cast. By him and his party it was that Albany was invited to Scotland. Henry was greatly alarmed at this proposition, and for some time the fear of a breach induced Francis I. to restrain Albany from accepting the offer. Yet in May, 1515, Albany made his appearance in Scotland. He found that kingdom in a condition which required a firm and determined hand to govern it. The nobility, always turbulent, and kept in order with difficulty by the strongest monarchs, were now divided into two factions, for and against the queen and her party. Lord Home, by whom Albany had chiefly been invited, had the ill-fortune to be represented to Albany, immediately on his arrival, as, so far from a friend, one of the most dangerous enemies of legitimate authority in the kingdom. Home, apprised of this representation, and of its having taken full effect on the mind of Albany, threw himself into the party of the queen, and urged her to avoid the danger of allowing the young princes to fall into the hands of Albany, who was the next heir to the crown after them, and was, according to his statement, a most dangerous and ambitious man. Moved by these statements, Margaret determined to escape to England

with her sons, and put them tinder the powerful protection of their uncle Henry.

Henry had himself made similar representations to her, for nothing would suit his views on the crown of Scotland so well as to have possession of the infant heirs. But Albany was quickly informed of the queen's intentions; he besieged the castle of Stirling, where she resided with the infant princes, compelled her to surrender, and obtaining possession of the princes, placed them in the keeping of three lords appointed by Parliament. Margaret herself, her husband Angus, and Lord Home, succeeded in escaping to England, where she was delivered of a daughter.

Henry exerted himself to baffle the schemes of Albany and the French party in Scotland; and Home, having succeeded in obtaining permission to return to Scotland, is supposed to have prosecuted Henry's views in strengthening a party against Albany. Home, however, did not escape falling under suspicion. He was seized and placed in custody under the care of his brother-in-law, the Earl of Arran. But instead of Arran proving a trustworthy custodian of Home, that nobleman prevailed on him to unite in his views. Home was suffered to escape, but was weak enough to be beguiled, under a promise of accommodating all matters of difference, to suffer himself, along with Arran, to fall into the hands of Albany. Both of these noblemen were seized and brought to trial, on the ground of neglect of their duty, or of treasonable conduct, at the battle of Flodden, and though the evidence was anything but convincing, they were condemned and executed.

The part which Francis I. evidently had in permitting the passage of Albany to Scotland, and in supporting his party there, had given great offence to Henry. He sent strong remonstrances through his ambassador to Francis, complaining that Albany had been permitted to leave France and usurp the government of Scotland, contrary to the treaty; and that by this means the Queen of Scotland, the sister of the King of England, had been driven from the regency of the kingdom, and the guardianship of her children. Francis I. endeavoured to pacify Henry by assurances that Albany's conduct had received no countenance from him, but that he had stolen away at the urgent solicitation of a strong body of nobles in Scotland. Henry was not convinced, but there was nothing to be obtained by further remonstrances, for Francis was at this moment at the head of a powerful army, while Henry, having spent his father's hoards, was not in a condition for a fresh war without the sanction of Parliament.

Francis was bent on prosecuting the vain scheme of the conquest of Milan, which had already cost his predecessors and France so much. He had entered into alliance with Venice and Genoa, and trusted to be able easily to overcome Maximilian Sforza; the native Prince Sforza, on his part, depended upon the support of the Pope and the Swiss. Francis professed, in the first place, that his design was to chastise the hostile Swiss. These hardy people had fortified all those passes in the Alps by which they calculated that the French would attempt to pass towards Milan, but Francis made his way with 60,000 troops over the mountains in another direction, a large part of his army taking the way to the left of Mount Grenevre, a route never essayed by any army before. The Swiss mercenaries in the service of Sforza, thus taken by surprise, were rapidly defeated by the French, and were on the point of capitulation, when their countrymen, who had been watching to intercept Francis and his army, seeing that he had stolen a march upon them, descended from their mountains, 20,000 strong, and came to the relief of their countrymen under the walls of Milan.

Their courage now rose to the highest pitch, and they determined to give battle to the French. The headquarters of Francis were at Marignano, ten miles from Milan. Reinforcements were expected by the Milanese from the Pope, but a cardinal legate, who was present, urged the Swiss not to wait for these, but to seize the present favourable crisis, when the troops were in the warmth of their confidence, to march against the French and give them battle. The advice was of the most injudicious kind, for the French were not only greatly superior in numbers, but in their artillery, and a few days might bring essential aid to the Swiss. But the counsel was too consonant to the feelings of the Swiss army. They demanded to be led at once against the foe; and, marching forward when the day was considerably advanced, they fell in with the French lines about two hours before sunset. They rushed upon them with such fury that they carried all before them, as though they had suffered no fatigue from their long and hasty march. They drove back whole masses of the French infantry, and captured a considerable quantity of cannon. Francis, alarmed by this formidable impression on his foot, threw himself into the van at the head of his cavalry, and charged along the high raised road, on which the main body of the Swiss stood, the land right and left being marshy, with all the weight of his horse and with his characteristic gallantry. But the Swiss, confident in the memory of their former victories over the French, stood firm, and the battle became desperate. The Swiss broke the lines of the French cavalry repeatedly, and made terrible havoc amongst them. Night fell, but the moon rose, and the conflict raged so long as there was any light. When the moon went down, the two armies, still breathing defiance, stood to their ground, and waited impatiently for the dawn to renew the strife.

Francis had fought so long and arduously in the very melee that, when the pause came, he dropped upon a cannon completely exhausted, and fell into a deep sleep. But, fatigued as he was, he did not rest long. The smarting of his wounds, for he had been pierced in various places by the lances of the enemy, the uneasiness of his mind, and the songs and shouts of the Swiss, who were sitting on the ground close at hand, carolling airs of triumph, and impatient for light to finish their victory, soon roused him. On examining the state of his army, he found that an awful slaughter of his men had taken place, many of his most distinguished officers had fallen, fifteen pieces of cannon were seized by the enemy, and the prospect for the morrow was anything but hopeful. To add to the disastrous issue of the day's fight, his troops were ill-supplied with refreshments, whilst wine and provisions in plenty had followed the Swiss army from Milan; and they were fortifying themselves with good cheer for the victory. So completely were the Swiss

assured of this victory, that the news of the utter defeat of the French spread from their camp, and was carried by couriers to all parts of Italy.

But Francis resolved to contest the point with all his power. During the night he examined carefully his position, made such fresh arrangements as the knowledge of the ground and the events of the first day suggested; encouraged his men, and sent messengers post haste to expedite the march of reinforcements from Venice, which he knew to be on the road. With the first return of dawn the Swiss were afoot, and renewed the battle with augmented impetuosity. Confident of victory, they fought with the persuasion that a vehement attack would be followed by a speedy flight of the French. They found, however, that Francis had taken advantage of the night, and so disposed his artillery, as to rake them murderously in flank as they advanced. But this only caused them to dash forward like wounded lions upon the foe, and such was the fury of their onset, that the French cavalry must have been speedily routed, when up galloped the light horse of the Venetians, led only by Count Alviano, and fell upon their rear. Imagining that the whole of the Venetian army was come up, the Swiss now sounded a retreat; but this was made with such coolness and courage that they kept the order of their ranks, and part still facing the French, part the Venetians, they thus commenced their march back towards Milan. Such was the resolution with which they made this retrograde movement, that they would leave neither their wounded nor their artillery behind them, but carried them all off, and showed such a determined and self-possessed air, that the French, wearied, and having suffered great loss, made no attempt to pursue them.

But the Swiss had left on the field 8,000 of their best men slain, and they were in no condition to pursue the contest as they had begun it. On returning to Milan they found that Sforza, for whom they had fought, had no money to pay them, and, therefore, having won great admiration by their conduct in this battle, they marched out of Milan and took their way home by Como. Francis, who had lost nearly as many troops as the Swiss, and some of his most valuable officers, was enabled easily, through this circumstance, to make himself master of Milan.

If the Swiss had acquired reputation by this campaign, Francis had won still more; for against such brave forces he had shown himself still braver, and remained victor finally. The effect at the English Court of this brilliant success was to heighten extremely that discontent with Francis which Henry had shown at the very moment that the chivalric young French king had set out for Italy. Henry, who was ambitious of military renown, was stung to the quick by it, and his envious mood was artfully aggravated by the suggestions of Wolsey. Wolsey hated Francis because he v/as steadily opposed to his retention of the bishopric of Tournay. Wolsey had prevailed on Henry to disregard the earnest demands for the restoration of this town at the late peace, because he should in case of its surrender lose the ample revenues; Francis, on the other hand, naturally was equally anxious to have Tournay restored to his natural dominion. He therefore supported the claims of the other Bishop of Tournay, who, when the town was taken by the English, had been appointed but not yet installed. Wolsey now found, through his spies, that Francis, while so near Rome, had strongly urged upon the Pope the claims of the French Bishop, and with such effect that he had obtained a bull in his favour. Enraged at this, Wolsey now fanned with all his subtle skill the spleen of Henry's mind, and disposed him to break with Francis. But this was so serious a matter, having recently sworn to maintain peace with that country, and with the rising reputation of Francis, that Henry was prudent enough not to give way to Wolsey's persuasions without counsel with his other experienced ministers. The Duke of Norfolk, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishop of Winchester, were summoned to Court, and the matter laid before them. It is quite certain that, had there been real cause for war with France, these ancient counsellors of the crown, who had retired in disgust from the arrogance of Wolsey, would have argued against it; but as they had right on their side, they strongly denounced a breach of the peace with France as equally impolitic, dishonourable, and unjust. Wolsey replied in an equally high strain that Francis had shown himself a prince of an aggressive character, of an insatiable ambition, and that his successes in Italy would lead to fresh attempts; and that unless England interposed to crush his soaring spirit of conquest, he would become the terror and molester of all Europe. The Bishop of Durham, and the rest of the counsellors who were under the influence of Wolsey, warmly supported these views, and Henry, distracted by these conflicting opinions, declared that he would adopt the suggestions of both parties; he would take measures to curb the ambition of France, but he would do it so as to avoid an open breach.

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Pictures for Reign of Henry the Eighth. - (Continued) page 3

Thomas Wolsey
Thomas Wolsey >>>>
Scotch Peers demanding the Children of Queen Margaret
Scotch Peers demanding the Children of Queen Margaret >>>>
Henry VIII.  Catherine of Arragon. Thomas Wolsey.
Henry VIII. Catherine of Arragon. Thomas Wolsey. >>>>
King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII >>>>
Meeting of Henry VIII. and Francis I
Meeting of Henry VIII. and Francis I >>>>
The Field of the Cloth of Gold
The Field of the Cloth of Gold >>>>
Execution of the Duke of Buckingham
Execution of the Duke of Buckingham >>>>
The City of Bruges, - Palace of the Franks
The City of Bruges, - Palace of the Franks >>>>
Queen Catherine of Arragon
Queen Catherine of Arragon >>>>
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace >>>>
Erasmus and Sir Thomas More
Erasmus and Sir Thomas More >>>>
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle >>>>

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