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Reign of Henry the Eighth. - (Continued) page 7

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The tournaments were such as had not been witnessed since the most chivalrous ages. Both Henry and Francis were ardently attached to all martial exercises, and therefore they had, months before this meeting, sent heralds into all the principal cities of Europe, to proclaim by sound of trumpet, the challenge of the kings of England and France, who, as brothers in arms, with fourteen companions, at tilts, tournaments, and barriers, would keep the field against all comers, and invited all valorous knights and gentlemen to come and accept the challenge. In this challenge the two kings showed themselves truer knights than Henry had done to Francis in a ludicrous

challenge of another kind, which was never to shave till they met - a challenge which Francis maintained, and appeared with a bushy beard, but Henry with a smooth face, asserting that the queen could not abide a shaggy chin.

These tournaments opened on the 11th of June and terminated on the 23rd. The enclosed arena was 900 feet long, and 320 feet wide, and surrounded by scaffolding and galleries for spectators. The two queens sat as umpires, loaded with silks, cloth of gold, and jewels, the very foot-cloth of Queen Catherine being covered with pearls. There were two tents near the entrance of the arena for the kings to array themselves in, and to rest after their contests, and wine flowed like water. In the centre of the field was raised a mound, on which were planted two artificial trees, the hawthorn for England and the raspberry for France, with their stems and branches lovingly intertwined. The shield of Henry, bearing the arms of England within a garter, hung upon one tree, and that of Francis, with the arms of France within a collar of his order of St. Michael, on the other. Henry was attended by his gallant brother-in-law, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, the Marquis of Dorset, Sir William Kingston, Sir Richard Jerningham, Sir Giles Capel, Nicholas Carew, and Anthony Neville; Francis, by the Lords Pol, Montmorency, Biron, and other gentlemen. Numbers of the bravest knights of different countries appeared in the lists to answer the challenges; and six days were spent in tilting with lances, two in fighting with broadswords on horseback, and two on foot at the barriers. There were five battles a day; and in all, such was the valour of the monarchs, or the skilful flattery of their opponents, they came off conquerors.

After the tournaments, the English and French wrestlers appeared and wrestled before the kings and the ladies, in which contest the English bore away the palm. Henry, excited by this scene, seized Francis by the collar, crying, "My brother, I must wrestle with you," and endeavoured to trip up his heels; but the King of France, who was a dexterous wrestler, twisted him round and threw him on the ground with great violence. Henry, mortified at this defeat before the two courts and the concourse of illustrious strangers, roso warmly, and insisted on renewing the contest, but the nobles on both sides interfered and prevented further play. The joustings were succeeded by banquets, balls, masquerades, and mummeries, in which the ladies as well as the gentlemen played their parts. Shakespeare has described these gorgeous festivities in his unequalled style: -

"Men might say,
Till this time pomp was single: but now married
To one above itself. Each following day
Became the next day's master, till the last
Made former wonder its: to-day, the French,
All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods,
Shone down the English: and, to-morrow, they
Made Britain, India: every man that stood,
Showed like a mine. Their dwarfish pages were
As cherubins, all gilt: the madams, too,
Not used to toil, did almost sweat to bear
The pride upon them, that their very labour
Was to them as a painting: now, this mask
Was cried incomparable: and the ensuing night
Made it a fool and beggar. The two kings,
Equal in lustre, were now best, now worst,
As presence did present them; him in eye
Still him in praise: and being present both,
'Twas said they saw but one; and no discerner
Durst wag his tongue in censure. When these suns
(For so they phrase them) by their heralds challenged
The noble spirits to arms, they did perform
Beyond thought's compass: that former, fabulous story,
Being now seen possible enough, got credit."
King Henry VIII., Act 1, Scene 1,

The end of all these international spectacles – of all these sports and banquetings, and social amusements - shows how little such things can do to bind together the hearts of rival people. The enermous expenditure, followed by years of difficulty, and, in many cases, of utter ruin, by the actors in them, should have produced some national good. They produced none. The whole was hollow, and left no trace behind more than the glories of a Fata Morgana, which, pictured upon vapour, is blown away by the next breeze. The Field of the Cloth of Gold was immediately preceded by the emperor's visit, exciting deep jealousy in the minds of Francis and the French; and the moment the French retired, the coqueting with the emperor was renewed, and he was actually brought upon the scene as if purposely to give him the closing effect. On the 23rd of June the tournaments closed; on the 24th, Francis spent the day at Guisnes, with the Queen and Court of England, and Henry at Ardres, with the "good queen Claude" and the Court of France. On their way back the two kings met, spent some time in familiar conversation, made many warm expressions of their mutual and lasting regards, embraced, and parted, On the 25th, the English Court returned to Calais, half the followers of the nobles were sent home, and then active preparations were made for visiting the emperor at Gravelines, and receiving a visit from him at Calais. By the 10th of July all was ready, and Henry set out with a splendid retinue for Gravelines. He was met on the way, and conducted into the town, by Charles, with every circumstance of honour and display. Charles, whose object was avowedly to efface any impression which Francis and the French might have made on the mind of Henry at the late interview, had given orders to receive the English with every demonstration of friendship and hospitality, and his orders were so well executed that the English were enchanted with their visit. The next day Henry returned to Calais, accompanied by Charles, his aunt Margaret, and the imperial Court. Then, as if Henry had studied to place Charles precisely in the position which Francis had occupied in the late fete, Charles found a stupendous wooden building erected for his reception, in a circular form, and the ceiling painted to | represent the concave of heaven, and the moon and stars, like that of the pavilion of Francis; and as if Nature would do her part to make the resemblance perfect, there came a tempest which damaged it so extensively, that it could not be repaired in time. Notwithstanding, three days were spent in a continual round of banquetings, maskings, balls, and revelries,

It was natural that the attention of Francis and the French nation should be fixed with a keen interest on these merry-makings with the rival monarch, directly upon the heels of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. There were, therefore, numbers of the French emissaries who made their way into the royal palace disguised as maskers, to learn what was actually going on under this surface of gaiety. La Roche, the ambassador of Francis, did not hesitate, moreover, to present himself for an audience with the two kings. Whatever the anxious envoys might make out, everything which passed in public was of a character to move the spleen of the French, who had just put themselves to such expense and trouble to prevent an amity in that quarter. On the fourth day Charles returned with his court to Gravelines, mounted on a splendid horse, the gift of Henry, covered with a cloth of gold, richly studded with precious stones. It was a direct triumph over his rival, Francis, and said more loudly than words - "See what has come of it all!" But Charles did not spare to scatter abroad words of high gratulation too. He everywhere extolled the good fortune of his aunt Catherine, who was married to so great and magnificent a prince. In all this may be traced the hand of Wolsey, who was paying his assiduous court to Charles in pursuit of the promised Papal tiara, Henry was but the puppet, whilst he thought himself the director of everything and the greatest man on earth.

On the departure of Charles, Henry and his court embarked for Dover, returning proud of his sham prowess and mock-battles, and of all his finery, but both himself and all his followers loaded with a fearful amount of debt for this useless and hypocritical display. When the nobles and gentlemen got home and began to reflect coolly on the heavy responsibilities they had incurred for their late showy but worthless follies, they could not help


grumbling amongst themselves, and even blaming the cardinal, as loudly as they dared, as being at the bottom of the whole affair. One amongst them was neither nice nor cautious in his expressions of chagrin at the ruinous and foolish expense incurred, and denounced the proud cardinal's ambition as the cause of it all. Buckingham never forgot the threat of Wolsey to sit on his skirts, and Wolsey never forgave the insult of Buckingham throwing the water into his shoes, and making a jest before all the Court of the cardinal's menace, by wearing a short jerkin. He was now to pay a fatal penalty for his insult and his jest.

Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, was the son of that duke who, revolting from Richard III. at the instigation of Bishop Morton, was defeated and beheaded. Though the revolt of Buckingham had operated eventually in favour of Henry VII., yet the present duke, his son, had escaped the jealousy of that monarch almost by miracle, for he was one of those descendants of royalty who always kept him in alarm. He was descended from Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest son of Edward III., and is said to have been not only extremely vain of his royal lineage, but to look with the eye of a true claimant on the crown. Whether this was really the case, or only the insinuation of his enemies, the effect was the same. It afforded the vindictive cardinal a convenient plea for the purposes of his vengeance. Buckingham was one of the most wealthy peers in England - another cause of danger under a monarch like Henry VIII. - and he was, moreover, of a bold, free, aspiring temperament; fond of the éclat of a great position, a great house and retinue. He was liberal and even lavish in his conduct, and accustomed himself to talk freely of public affairs, not even sparing the king, especially on account of his blindness in fostering so haughty an upstart as Wolsey. He criticised freely the king's ministers and measures, and that was not a day when an opposition to Government could exist and maintain the privilege of freedom of speech with impunity.

Wolsey, having determined to destroy Buckingham, was not long in preparing his machinery. The duke was accused of having augmented extravagantly his retinue and state before going to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, though the reason for this was obvious enough, and every nobleman had done the same to make a figure on that occasion equal to his compeers. But Wolsey's malice had whispered a traitorous idea of it into Henry's ears before setting out on that occasion, and had particularly excited his jealousy by pointing out that Sir William Bulmer had quitted the king's service, and entered that of Buckingham. Henry, in his anger, had summoned Sir William into the Star Chamber, as though such an act were one of treason, and so alarmed the knight that he fell on his knees and begged pardon: whereupon the king pardoned him, but added these significant words: - "He would have none of his servants hang on another man's sleeve; land what might be thought of his departing, and what might be supposed by the duke's retaining, he could not then declare."

Thus mischief was meant, even before the duke went, but now his movements on Ms return hastened the crisis of his fate. It appears that, like many nobles and princes of those times, Buckingham had great faith in soothsaying and astrology. He had. some years before, had the misfortune to become acquainted with one Hopkins, the prior of the charter-house at Henton, who professed to be able to see into futurity; and this man, on the occasion of Henry setting out on the expedition to Terouenne, had predicted that he would return with fame from France, but that James of Scotland, if he passed the borders, as he was then menacing, would never return alive to his kingdom. The exact accomplishment of both these prophecies produced in Buckingham a profound conviction of Hopkins's prescience, and from that time forward the artful prior was much about the duke. He soon perceived that Buckingham was elated with his royal descent, as a much more preferable one to that of Henry; and the king having no sons, he began to play upon his credulity, and prognosticated the highest destinies for his patron; he insinuated, in fact, that Buckingham would succeed the king on the throne.

All these circumstances were carefully hunted out by Wolsey through his spies, and made the most of. The plot being ripe, the witnesses against the duke were secured from amongst his own servants. They were apprehended and committed to the Tower, where their hopes and fears could be successfully operated upon, and they could be held in reserve for the occasion. These men are raid to have been put to the torture to extort the necessary confessions. They were Hopkins, the prophet, Delacourt, Buckingham's confessor, Perk, his chancellor, and Charles Knevet, his steward. Whatever might be the case with the rest, the evidence of Knevet seems to have been voluntary and even officious. He was a relative of the duke, and had been his steward and confidential servant, but from some cause had been dismissed by him, and now was a ready and vindictive witness, a fit tool of the cardinal's malice.

All being ready, Buckingham, who was residing at his estate of Thornbury, in Gloucestershire, was invited to Court. It is said that he obeyed the summons, unsuspicious of any evil intended him, but it is difficult to suppose this, when his own servants had been already arrested, and thrown into the Tower. He set out, however, and was soon after startled by observing three knights of the king's body-guard riding at some distance in his rear, attended by a number of armed followers. Appearing to take no note of this, he travelled on to Windsor, and there his suspicions were greatly augmented by seeing those knights and their followers posted, as it were, on guard over him. He was not left long without confirmation strong that he was a doomed man, for the gentleman harbinger of the king, at Windsor, treated him with marked disrespect; and, on reaching Westminster, he went to pay his respects to Wolsey, but was curtly told that he was indisposed. The cardinal's servants had already their cue, and the coldness which they showed him gave the duke the gloomiest apprehensions. Taking his barge to row down to Greenwich, where the Court was, he was met by the barge of Sir Henry Marney, the captain of the body-guard, with a detachment of yeomen of the guard, who arrested him as a traitor, and conveyed him prisoner to the Tower, to the great astonishment and grief of the people, with whom he was highly popular.

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