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Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Continued) page 5

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Archbishop Warham, formerly the wise minister of Henry, now fall of years and experience, addressed a letter to the haughty cardinal, saying: "I have heard that when the people be commanded to make fires and tokens of rejoicing for the taking of the French king, divers of them have spoken, that they have more cause to Weep than to rejoice thereat. And divers, as it hath been shown me secretly, have wished openly that the French king were at his liberty again, so as there was a good peace, and the king should not attempt again to win France, the winning whereof should be more chargeable to England than profitable, and the keeping thereof much more chargeable than the winning."

In London the excitement became excessive: the people placarded the walls with their complaints, and the clergy preached against the arbitrary tax, and declared that for themselves they would pay no money which was not voted in convocation. From London the fire spread through the other towns, the people began to take up arms, the clergy to encourage them, and Henry, who was soon terrified, with all his bluster, took the alarm, and declared that he wanted nothing from his loving subjects but as a benevolence. But the very word benevolence awoke a host of hateful recollections. The tumult was only increased by it; and a lawyer in the city published the passage from the Act of Richard III,, by which benevolences were abolished for ever. This seemed to arouse the lion spirit in Henry. The prospect of the crown of France was too fascinating to be lightly surrendered; he therefore called together the judges, and demanded their opinion on his power to tax his subjects without Parliament. The venal judges reminded the king that Richard III. was a usurper, and that his Parliament was a factious Parliament, all the acts of which were illegal and void, and could in no wise bind a legitimate and absolute king, who, like him, held the crown by hereditary right. This bold and base doctrine was loudly echoed by the Privy Council, but vain were such authorities with the people. On hearing this decision, they again flew to arms. In Kent they speedily drove the commissioners and tax-gatherers out of the county; in Suffolk they marched in an armed body of 4,000 or 5,000 men, and even threatened the duke of the county, Brandon, the king's brother-in-law, who was the chief commissioner there, with death. Surrey, who stood high in the estimation of the people, interfered to calm them, and to prevent mischief; and Henry saw that the contest was hopeless, and by proclamation retracted his demand. Wolsey, who had been extremely prominent in endeavouring to enforce the detested tax, now caused a report to be industriously circulated, that he had, in truth, never been favourable to it, but the people only replied when they heard it, "God save the king! we know the cardinal well enough."

But Henry might have spared himself all this tumult and unpopularity. The emperor was never less likely than now to concede such favours and advantages to him. He was a deep and subtle prince; no man could see more intuitively and instantly the wonderful change in his power and position which the battle of Pavia created. He was at once freed from a potent and ambitious rival. His own plans were no longer thwarted, his own territories were no longer threatened; fait, on the contrary, the whole of the Continent lay, as it were, at his feet. He seemed to stand upon it a huge imperial Colossus, almost without the shadow of a rival. Henry was the only man from whom, he had anything to fear, and Henry, he saw, was destitute of money, and unsupported in his desires for continental conquest by his people. Charles at once, therefore, assumed a lofty tone, and determined not only to mortify Henry's pride, but to punish him for neglecting to invade Picardy, according to agreement, so as to alleviate the pressure of the French arms in Italy. He therefore received Henry's ambassadors with marvellous coldness. So far from consenting to his propositions, he informed them that, by the advice of his council, he had determined not to invade France at all. He insinuated that the engagements of Henry were not to be relied on, and gave his breach of contract with regard to Picardy as a proof. He did not forget to remind them of Henry's recent negotiations with France. So far from, being anxious to receive the Princess Mary, the ambassadors discovered that Charles was actually contemplating another marriage, and was in treaty for the Infanta Isabella of Portugal.

Charles had calculated upon Henry for large subsidies during the war, but instead of receiving these he had found Henry as much straitened for money as he was himself. It was now discovered that the emperor had already made a truce for six months with France, and he now coolly advised the ambassadors to seek from, their sovereign power, not negotiations for the invasion of France, but the terms on which the French king should be liberated. To crown all, and leave no question of the feeling which Henry's late conduct had produced in Charles's Court, he wrote to Henry, no longer styling himself his loving uncle, and penning the grossest flatteries with his own hand, but he simply and curtly signed himself Charles, to official communications duly and officially prepared.

This was a rebuff not to be received complacently by a man of Henry's vain and volcanic spirit. He read the astounding despatches with an amazement which burst into a tempest of rage. At once a tide of impetuous revulsion flowed over his whole soul. He abandoned in a moment all ideas of conquests, invasions, and the crown of France, and determined to do everything in his power to procure the liberation of Francis, and to unite with him against the perfidious and insulting Spaniard. Ho had dismissed the French envoys, who were residing privately in London, on the news of the capture of Francis, but he now let it be understood that their presence would be heartily welcome. Louise accepted the hint with all alacrity, and John Brenon, president of the council of Normandy, and her favourite envoy, Giovanni Joacchino, were again dispatched to London. A truce for four months was immediately concluded, and Wolsey, who fanned the new flame in Henry's bosom for objects and resentments of his own, soon arranged the terms of a treaty with them. These terms were extremely acceptable to Henry, as they furnished him with a prospect of a considerable addition to his income, without the disagreeable necessity of having to go to Parliament for it. The treaty consisted of six articles. By the first, the contracting parties engaged to guarantee the integrity of each other's territories against all the princes in the world. The object of this was to prevent Francis bartering any of his provinces with Charles for his liberty. By the second, Francis and his heirs were made to guarantee to Henry the payment of 2.000.000 crowns, by half-yearly instalments, and 100,000 crowns for life, after the payment of that amount. Nine of the chief noblemen of France, and nine of the richest cities also, gave their bonds for the security of these payments. By the third article, the King of France engaged to pay up all the arrears of the dowry of Mary, the Queen-Dowager of France. The rest of the articles were for the prevention of depredations at sea, for comprehending the King of Scots in the treaty, and for the prevention of the return of the Duke of Albany to Scotland during the minority of James V. This treaty was signed at the Moore, the king's house in Hertfordshire, on the 30th of August. The cardinal, who never forgot himself on these occasions, was well rewarded for his trouble in promoting and arranging this alliance. He received a grant of 100,000 crowns for his good offices in the affair, and the arrears of his pension in lieu of his surrender of the bishopric of Tournay, the whole to be paid in equal instalments in the course of seven years and a half.

But whilst the French regent, Louise, made these liberal concessions for the friendship of Henry, and showed every apparent disposition to guarantee the conditions, Louise swearing to them, and Francis ratifying them, care was taken to leave a loop-hole of escape at any future period. The attorney and solicitor-generals of the French Government entered a secret protest against the whole treaty, so that Francis might, if occasion required, plead the illegality of the whole transaction.

But it was not so easy to procure the liberation of the captive King of France. Moderate as Charles had professed to be, and sympathetic regarding the misfortunes of Francis, he soon showed that he was determined to extort every possible advantage from having the royal captive in his hands. He had been detained in the strong castle of Pizzighitone, near Cremona; but, thinking that he should be able to influence the emperor by his presence, he petitioned to be removed to the Alcazar of Madrid. The ministers of Charles, fearful that the French king might so far win upon him as to draw from him some imprudent concessions, got him away to Toledo, to preside at an assembly of the Cortes, before the arrival of "Francis. The captive king, impatient of the recovery of his liberty, now offered to give up all claim to Naples, Milan, Genoa, and all the other territories in Italy; to relinquish the superiority over Flanders and Artois; to restore the Duke of Bourbon and his followers to their estates and honours; to marry Eleanora, the emperor's sister, and to pay 3,000,000 crowns for his ransom. These enormous concessions did not, however, satisfy the exacting spirit of Charles. He demanded the surrender of Burgundy, which, he maintained, had been wrested unjustly from his family. This Francis positively declined, and was thereupon informed that he must either restore it, or calculate 011 remaining a prisoner for life. But so determined on this point was Francis, knowing that with the possession of Burgundy his enemies could at any time penetrate into the very heart of his kingdom, that he signed his abdication in favour of the dauphin, and gave way so completely to the distressing influence of despair, that his health failed rapidly; and the emperor, alarmed lest his captive should escape out of his hands, and with him all the advantages he was endeavouring to extort from him, hastened from Toledo to Madrid, and, visiting Francis with an air of kindness, gave him hopes that all difficulties should be removed. This had such a cheering effect on the health of the captive, that Charles now again thought his fears unnecessary, and returned quietly to Toledo, leaving Francis in a confinement as strict as ever.

The chagrin of the French monarch brought back his dangerous symptoms, and the greedy emperor was once more seized with his old fears. His position at this moment was anything but enviable. His affairs in Germany were in a condition to excite many anxieties. The Turks had taken Rhodes, entered Hungary, and menaced his own dominions: but a far more formidable enemy was growing and becoming every day more fearful. This was the Reformation, which now had a very powerful body of adherents, and threatened to prostrate all the supporters of the ancient church. Barbarossa, who, from a pirate, was become a great prince, obstructed his commerce and menaced the coasts of Spain. His relative, the King of England, resenting his treatment, was become the fast friend of France; and France, under the able management of Louise, was again in a respectable posture of defence. His exchequer was empty, and ho had no means of wresting Burgundy from France; and ho might lose the very countries and the money offered him, should the king die, or should he effect his escape. He was aware that plots were on foot for the purpose; that no money would be spared by the lady regent; and the escape of the King of Navarre, in his servant's clothes, though he had been as strictly guarded since the battle of Pavia as Francis himself, brought the possibility of such a chance very vividly to his mind.

At length, therefore, on the 14th of January, 1526, was signed the famous treaty called the Concord of Madrid, one of the most grasping and impudent pieces of extortion which one prince ever forced from another in his necessity. By this treaty Francis gave up all that he had offered before - namely, all claims of superiority over Flanders and Artois, and the possession of Naples, Milan, Genoa, and the other Italian territories, for which France had spent so much blood and treasure. But besides this, Francis was to deliver to the emperor his two sons, the dauphin and the Duke of Orleans, as hostages, and also bind himself, if he did not, or could not, fulfil all his engagements within four months, to return and yield himself once more prisoner. He was to marry Queen Eleanora, and the dauphin the Princess Maria, the daughter of Eleanora. But these were but a small part of the demands of the insatiable emperor. Francis was bound to persuade the King of Navarre to surrender all his rights in that kingdom to Charles, and the Duke of Gueldres to appoint Charles the heir to Iris dominions; and if he could not persuade them, he was to give them no aid when the emperor invaded their states. Next, Francis was to lend his whole navy, 500 men-at-arms, and 6,000 foot soldiers, to put down the princes of Italy, who were uniting to effect his own freedom! Then, Francis was to pay to the King of England all those sums which the emperor himself had engaged to pay. Still more, he was to restore Bourbon and the rest of the rebels to their estates and honours. The whole of the conditions were so monstrous, that they cannot be read without astonishment at the rapacity of this triumphant prince.

When the treaty was signed, the emperor assumed once more his mien of kindness, fawned upon the man whom he had held in such rigorous durance, and from whom he had extorted not only his possessions, but his honour. He introduced him to his future queen, called him his dearest brother and most beloved friend, and vainly hoped to make his victim forget the royal rack on which he had stretched him. But such things never are forgotten. In the soul of Francis they lived strong and imperishably, and whilst he complied with the detestable pressure of this imperial vampire, he secretly swore to break every engagement, as forced, excessive, and unwarrantable. Could we have expected anything else, or could the unprincipled emperor have expected anything else, had he not been blinded by his greed? In ail ages and nations, such forced and iniquitous engagements have boon held void. It was a game played betwixt a man whose avarice had no bounds, and whose honour had no existence, and another, who consents to feign acquiescence to defeat the hideous machinations of his oppressor.

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