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Reign of Edward IV. Part 1 page 5

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But the designs of the Nevilles lay nearer home in reality. The Archbishop of York invited the king to meet Clarence and Warwick at his seat - the Moor - in Hertfordshire. As Edward was washing his hands, preparatory to supper, John Ratcliff, afterwards Lord Fitzwalter, whispered in his ear that 100 armed men were on the watch to seize him and convey him to prison. Edward having been once before trepanned by his loving friends, gave instant credence to the information, stole out, mounted a horse, and rode off to Windsor. This open confession of his opinion of the Neville, produced a fresh scene of discord, which, with some difficulty, was appeased by the king's mother, the Duchess of York, and the parties were reconciled with just the same sincerity as before.

The Nevilles were now in too critical a position to muse. They or the king must fall. At any hour some stratagem might surprise them and give the advantage of their injured and deadly enemies, the Wydvilles. Insurrection, therefore, was not long in showing itself again. This time it broke out in Lincolnshire, and, as in the case of the hospital of St. Leonards, appeared to have nothing whatever to do with Warwick or his party. Its ostensible cause was the old grievance of purveyance, and Sir Robert Burgh, one oŁ the purveyors, was attacked. his house burnt down, and himself chased out of the county. Had the cause been really local, there the mischief would have ended; but now again stepped forward a partisan of Warwick, Sir Robert Welles, who encouraged the rioters to keep together, and proceed to redress not the evils of one county, but of the nation. He put himself at their head, and they soon amounted to 30,000. The king commissioned a number of nobles to raise troops with all speed, and so well did Warwick and Clarence feign loyalty that they were amongst this number.

Edward summoned Lord Welles, the father of the insurgent chief, and Sir Thomas Dymoke, the champion, both Lincolnshire men, to the council, in order to obtain information of the extent of the insurrection, and to engage them to exert their influence to check it. Both these gentlemen, as if conscious of guilt, fled to sanctuary, but, on a promise of pardon, repaired to court. Edward insisted that Lord Welles should command his son to lay down his arms, and disperse his followers, with which order Lord Welles complied; but Sir Robert Welles received at the same time letters from Warwick and Clarence, encouraging him to hold out, assuring him that they were on the march to support him. When Edward reached Stamford, bearing Lord Welles and Dymoke with him, he found Sir Robert still in arms, and in his anger he wreaked his vengeance on his father, Lord Welles, and on Dymoke, beheading them in direct violation of his promise. He then sent a second order to Sir Robert to lay down his arms, but he replied that he scorned to surrender to a man destitute of honour, who had murdered his father. Edward then fell upon the insurgents at Uppingham, in Rutlandshire, and made a terrible slaughter of them. The leaders, Welles, and Sir Thomas Delalaunde, were taken and immediately executed. The inferior prisoners, as dupes to the designs of others, were dismissed.

The confessions of Sir Robert and of Dymoke made manifest the treason of Warwick and Clarence. They admitted that the insurrection was their work; that a confidential agent of Clarence regulated all the movements of troops; that the avowed object was to place Clarence on the throne. They had been directed to march into Leicestershire to meet the two heads of the rebellion; but being met by the royal army, and brought prematurely to an engagement, the plans of Warwick and Clarence were defeated. They now advanced towards York, calling on all the people to arm and follow them. But the inhabitants were Lancastrians, and refused to rise in support of any branch of the house of York. The king came within twenty miles of' them as they reached Esterfield, and summoned them to appear before him and explain their conduct; but they again altered their course for Lancashire, in the hope that Lord Stanley, who had married a sister of Warwick, would join him. In that, however, they were disappointed, and, finding no support in the north, they hastened southward. Edward pursued them briskly. He restored to Lord Percy his titles and estates, of which he had been deprived at the battle of Towton, taking them from Warwick's brother, who was again reduced to the empty dignity of Lord Montacute. He declared Clarence no longer Lieutenant of Ireland, conferring that office on the Earl of Worcester.

The disappointed chiefs made a hasty retreat to the south, being proclaimed traitors by the king. At Southampton they attempted to escape to sea in a large vessel of Warwick's called the Trinity, but were attacked and defeated by Lord Scales. They were more successful at Dartmouth; and Edward, finding on reaching Exeter that they had escaped him, vented in his savage way his rage on the prisoners taken by Lord Scales in the recent engagement. They were delivered to Tiptoff, the Earl of Worcester, the new Lieutenant of Ireland, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered; and for three weeks such gross indignities were practised on their remains, that Tiptoff was thenceforth named "the butcher," and he did not escape his share of the obloquy.

Warwick and Clarence made for Calais. But there Warwick's lieutenant, Vauclerc, a Gascon knight, to whom he had entrusted the care of the city, refused to admit them. When they attempted to enter, the batteries were opened upon them; and when they remonstrated on this strange conduct, Vauclerc sent secretly to inform Warwick that the garrison, aware of what had taken place in England, were ill affected, and would certainly seize him if he entered; that his only chance of preserving the place for him was to appear at present hostile; and he prayed him to retire till a more favourable opportunity. To Edward, however, Vauclerc sent word that he would hold the town for him as his sovereign against all attempts - for which Edward rewarded him with the government of the place, and the Duke of Burgundy added a pension of a thousand crowns. Warwick and Clarence, enraged at this unexpected repulse, sailed along the coast towards Normandy, seizing every Flemish merchantman that fell in their way in revenge to Burgundy, and entered Harfleur, where they were received with all honour by the admiral of France.

Low as were now the fortunes of Warwick and Clarence, decided as had been the failure of their attempts against Edward IV., Louis of France thought he had, in the possession of these great leaders, a means of consolidating a formidable party against Edward, who had treated his alliance with such contempt, and who entered into the closest relations with his most formidable opponent, the Duke of Burgundy. He therefore received them at Amboise, where he was holding his court, with the most marked honours, and ordered them and their ladies to have the best accommodations that could be procured in the neighbourhood. He proposed to these two chiefs to coalesce with the Lancastrian party, by which means they would be sure to gain the instant support of all that faction. He sent for Queen Margaret, who was then at Angers, and assured her that Providence had at length prepared the certain means of the restoration of King Henry and his family.

Warwick engaged, by the assistance of Louis and of the. Lancastrians, to replace Henry again upon the throne. By this means Warwick was to depose, and if possible to destroy, Edward of York. But Warwick never forgot the suggestions of his ambition. He must, if possible, sit on the throne of England in the persons of his descendants. For this he had married one daughter to Clarence. When the success of Edward had enfeebled his chance, he had succeeded in affiancing his nephew to the daughter of Edward, so that if not a Warwick at least a Neville might reign. He now sacrificed both these hopes to that of placing another daughter on the throne, as the queen of Margaret's son, the Prince of Wales. This alliance was the price of Warwick's assistance, and, however bitter might be the necessity, Margaret submitted to it, and the young Prince of Wales was forthwith married to Ann, the daughter of Warwick. Warwick then acknowledged Henry VI. as the rightful sovereign of England, and at the same time entered into solemn engagements to exert all his power to reinstate and maintain him on the throne. Margaret on her part swore on the holy Gospels never to reproach Warwick with the past, but to esteem him as a loyal and faithful subject. The French king, on the completion of this reconciliation, engaged to furnish the means necessary for the expedition.

Edward, on hearing of the extraordinary meeting and negotiations of Warwick and Margaret, of the active agency of the French king, and the proposed marriage of Edward Prince of Wales and Ann of Warwick, sent off a lady of pre-eminent art and address, who belonged to the train of the Duchess of Clarence, but who had been by some means left behind. The clever dame no sooner reached the court of Clarence than she expressed to him and the duchess her amazement at their permitting such a coalition as the present; that in every point of view it was destructive to their own hopes, and even security; that the continued adhesion of Warwick and Margaret was impossible. Their mutual antipathies were too deeply rooted ever to be eradicated.

Clarence was only one-and-twenty years of age. He was of a slender capacity, easily guided or misguided, and he agreed, on the first favourable opportunity, to abandon Warwick and go over to the king.

On the other hand, Warwick was as actively and secretly engaged in preparing the defection of partisans of the king in England. His brother, the Marquis of Montacute, though he had not deemed it prudent to join Warwick and Clarence in their unfortunate attempt to raise the country against Edward, had been suspected by him, and stripped of the earldom of Northumberland. He was still an ostensible adherent of the king, but he was watched. Warwick apprised him of the new and wonderful turn of affairs, and engaged him to keep up a zealous show of loyalty, that his defection at an important moment might tell with the more disastrous effect on the Yorkist cause.

Edward, satisfied with having detached Clarence from Warwick's interests, continued as careless as ever. The Duke of Burgundy, more sagacious than his brother-in-law, the King of England, did all that he could to arouse him to a sense of his danger, and to obstruct the progress of the expedition. He sent ambassadors to Paris to complain of the reception given to the enemies of his brother and ally. He menaced Louis with instant war if he did not desist from aiding and protecting the English traitors. He sent spies to watch the proceedings of Vauclerc, in Calais, and dispatched a squadron to make reprisals on the French, merchantmen for the seizures made by Warwick, and to blockade the mouth of the Seine. Edward laughed at the fears and precautions of Burgundy. He bade him take no pains to guard the Channel, for that he should enjoy nothing better than to see Warwick venture to set foot in England.

He was not long without that pleasure. A tempest dispersed the Burgundian fleet, and the fleet of Warwick and Clarence, seizing the opportunity, put to sea, crossed the Channel, and landed on the 13th of September, 1470, without opposition, at Portsmouth and Dartmouth. Warwick had prepared his own way very skilfully. Edward was deluded by a ruse on the part of Lord Fitzwalter, the brother-in-law of Warwick, who appeared in arms in Northumberland, as if meditating an insurrection; by which means the unwary king was induced to march towards the north, leaving the southern counties exposed to the invaders. This was the object of Warwick, and, as soon as it was effected, Fitzwalter retreated into Scotland. Meantime, the real danger was growing rapidly in the south. The men of Kent rose in arms; London was thrown into a ferment by a Dr. Goddard preaching at St. Paul's Cross in favour of Henry VI.; and from every quarter people hastened to the standard of Warwick with such eagerness that he speedily found himself at the head of 60,000 men,

As London and the southern counties appeared safe, Warwick proclaimed Henry, and set out to encounter Edward without delay. He advanced towards Nottingham. Edward, who had taken up his head-quarters at Doncaster, had issued his orders for all who could bear arms to join his banner. They came in slowly; and Edward, who had ridiculed the idea of the return of Warwick, saying Burgundy would take care that he did not cross the sea, was now rudely aroused from his fancied security. He was compelled with unequal forces to advance against Warwick. A great battle appeared imminent in the neighbourhood of Nottingham; but the rapid defection of Edward's adherents rendered that unnecessary. The speedy movements of Warwick, and the general demonstration in favour of Henry, had not permitted Clarence to carry into effect his intended transit from Warwick to Edward, when a startling act of desertion occurred to the other side, which completed Edward's ruin. Before Edward could reach Nottingham, and while lying near the river Welland, in Lincolnshire, the Marquis of Montacute, Warwick's brother, from whom Edward had taken the earldom of Northumberland, now revenged himself by suddenly marching from York at the head of 6,000 men, and in the night, and in full concert with his officers, advanced upon Edward's quarters, his men wearing the red rose instead of the white, and with loud cries of "God bless King Henry!"

Edward commanded his troops to be put in array to meet the traitor; but Lord Hastings told him that he had not a regiment that he could rely upon; that nothing was to be thought of but his personal safety, and that on the instant. Accordingly, he took horse with the Duke of Gloucester, the Earl Rivers, seven or eight other noblemen, and a small troop of the most reliable followers, with whom he rode away. A guard was posted on a neighbouring bridge to prevent the crossing of Warwick, for he also was within a day's march of him; and with all haste Edward and his little band rode on full speed till he reached Lynn, in Norfolk. It is probable that the royal party had made for this small port on the Wash, knowing that some vessels which had brought provisions for the troops still lay there. They found, indeed, a small English ship, and two Dutch vessels, on board of which they hurried, and put to sea. Edward, on starting from his quarters, had recommended his army to declare at once for Warwick, as the best means of saving themselves, and of again rejoining his standard when opportunity should offer; for no changes were too wonderful to be hoped for in those strange times.

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