A Child's History of England
Charles Dickens

Part 5 out of 8

great many promises on behalf of the state, that were never
intended to be performed. This DID divide them; some of Jack's men
saying that they ought to take the conditions which were offered,
and others saying that they ought not, for they were only a snare;
some going home at once; others staying where they were; and all
doubting and quarrelling among themselves.

Jack, who was in two minds about fighting or accepting a pardon,
and who indeed did both, saw at last that there was nothing to
expect from his men, and that it was very likely some of them would
deliver him up and get a reward of a thousand marks, which was
offered for his apprehension. So, after they had travelled and
quarrelled all the way from Southwark to Blackheath, and from
Blackheath to Rochester, he mounted a good horse and galloped away
into Sussex. But, there galloped after him, on a better horse, one
Alexander Iden, who came up with him, had a hard fight with him,
and killed him. Jack's head was set aloft on London Bridge, with
the face looking towards Blackheath, where he had raised his flag;
and Alexander Iden got the thousand marks.

It is supposed by some, that the Duke of York, who had been removed
from a high post abroad through the Queen's influence, and sent out
of the way, to govern Ireland, was at the bottom of this rising of
Jack and his men, because he wanted to trouble the government. He
claimed (though not yet publicly) to have a better right to the
throne than Henry of Lancaster, as one of the family of the Earl of
March, whom Henry the Fourth had set aside. Touching this claim,
which, being through female relationship, was not according to the
usual descent, it is enough to say that Henry the Fourth was the
free choice of the people and the Parliament, and that his family
had now reigned undisputed for sixty years. The memory of Henry
the Fifth was so famous, and the English people loved it so much,
that the Duke of York's claim would, perhaps, never have been
thought of (it would have been so hopeless) but for the unfortunate
circumstance of the present King's being by this time quite an
idiot, and the country very ill governed. These two circumstances
gave the Duke of York a power he could not otherwise have had.

Whether the Duke knew anything of Jack Cade, or not, he came over
from Ireland while Jack's head was on London Bridge; being secretly
advised that the Queen was setting up his enemy, the Duke of
Somerset, against him. He went to Westminster, at the head of four
thousand men, and on his knees before the King, represented to him
the bad state of the country, and petitioned him to summon a
Parliament to consider it. This the King promised. When the
Parliament was summoned, the Duke of York accused the Duke of
Somerset, and the Duke of Somerset accused the Duke of York; and,
both in and out of Parliament, the followers of each party were
full of violence and hatred towards the other. At length the Duke
of York put himself at the head of a large force of his tenants,
and, in arms, demanded the reformation of the Government. Being
shut out of London, he encamped at Dartford, and the royal army
encamped at Blackheath. According as either side triumphed, the
Duke of York was arrested, or the Duke of Somerset was arrested.
The trouble ended, for the moment, in the Duke of York renewing his
oath of allegiance, and going in peace to one of his own castles.

Half a year afterwards the Queen gave birth to a son, who was very
ill received by the people, and not believed to be the son of the
King. It shows the Duke of York to have been a moderate man,
unwilling to involve England in new troubles, that he did not take
advantage of the general discontent at this time, but really acted
for the public good. He was made a member of the cabinet, and the
King being now so much worse that he could not be carried about and
shown to the people with any decency, the duke was made Lord
Protector of the kingdom, until the King should recover, or the
Prince should come of age. At the same time the Duke of Somerset
was committed to the Tower. So, now the Duke of Somerset was down,
and the Duke of York was up. By the end of the year, however, the
King recovered his memory and some spark of sense; upon which the
Queen used her power - which recovered with him - to get the
Protector disgraced, and her favourite released. So now the Duke
of York was down, and the Duke of Somerset was up.

These ducal ups and downs gradually separated the whole nation into
the two parties of York and Lancaster, and led to those terrible
civil wars long known as the Wars of the Red and White Roses,
because the red rose was the badge of the House of Lancaster, and
the white rose was the badge of the House of York.

The Duke of York, joined by some other powerful noblemen of the
White Rose party, and leading a small army, met the King with
another small army at St. Alban's, and demanded that the Duke of
Somerset should be given up. The poor King, being made to say in
answer that he would sooner die, was instantly attacked. The Duke
of Somerset was killed, and the King himself was wounded in the
neck, and took refuge in the house of a poor tanner. Whereupon,
the Duke of York went to him, led him with great submission to the
Abbey, and said he was very sorry for what had happened. Having
now the King in his possession, he got a Parliament summoned and
himself once more made Protector, but, only for a few months; for,
on the King getting a little better again, the Queen and her party
got him into their possession, and disgraced the Duke once more.
So, now the Duke of York was down again.

Some of the best men in power, seeing the danger of these constant
changes, tried even then to prevent the Red and the White Rose
Wars. They brought about a great council in London between the two
parties. The White Roses assembled in Blackfriars, the Red Roses
in Whitefriars; and some good priests communicated between them,
and made the proceedings known at evening to the King and the
judges. They ended in a peaceful agreement that there should be no
more quarrelling; and there was a great royal procession to St.
Paul's, in which the Queen walked arm-in-arm with her old enemy,
the Duke of York, to show the people how comfortable they all were.
This state of peace lasted half a year, when a dispute between the
Earl of Warwick (one of the Duke's powerful friends) and some of
the King's servants at Court, led to an attack upon that Earl - who
was a White Rose - and to a sudden breaking out of all old
animosities. So, here were greater ups and downs than ever.

There were even greater ups and downs than these, soon after.
After various battles, the Duke of York fled to Ireland, and his
son the Earl of March to Calais, with their friends the Earls of
Salisbury and Warwick; and a Parliament was held declaring them all
traitors. Little the worse for this, the Earl of Warwick presently
came back, landed in Kent, was joined by the Archbishop of
Canterbury and other powerful noblemen and gentlemen, engaged the
King's forces at Northampton, signally defeated them, and took the
King himself prisoner, who was found in his tent. Warwick would
have been glad, I dare say, to have taken the Queen and Prince too,
but they escaped into Wales and thence into Scotland.

The King was carried by the victorious force straight to London,
and made to call a new Parliament, which immediately declared that
the Duke of York and those other noblemen were not traitors, but
excellent subjects. Then, back comes the Duke from Ireland at the
head of five hundred horsemen, rides from London to Westminster,
and enters the House of Lords. There, he laid his hand upon the
cloth of gold which covered the empty throne, as if he had half a
mind to sit down in it - but he did not. On the Archbishop of
Canterbury, asking him if he would visit the King, who was in his
palace close by, he replied, 'I know no one in this country, my
lord, who ought not to visit ME.' None of the lords present spoke
a single word; so, the duke went out as he had come in, established
himself royally in the King's palace, and, six days afterwards,
sent in to the Lords a formal statement of his claim to the throne.
The lords went to the King on this momentous subject, and after a
great deal of discussion, in which the judges and the other law
officers were afraid to give an opinion on either side, the
question was compromised. It was agreed that the present King
should retain the crown for his life, and that it should then pass
to the Duke of York and his heirs.

But, the resolute Queen, determined on asserting her son's right,
would hear of no such thing. She came from Scotland to the north
of England, where several powerful lords armed in her cause. The
Duke of York, for his part, set off with some five thousand men, a
little time before Christmas Day, one thousand four hundred and
sixty, to give her battle. He lodged at Sandal Castle, near
Wakefield, and the Red Roses defied him to come out on Wakefield
Green, and fight them then and there. His generals said, he had
best wait until his gallant son, the Earl of March, came up with
his power; but, he was determined to accept the challenge. He did
so, in an evil hour. He was hotly pressed on all sides, two
thousand of his men lay dead on Wakefield Green, and he himself was
taken prisoner. They set him down in mock state on an ant-hill,
and twisted grass about his head, and pretended to pay court to him
on their knees, saying, 'O King, without a kingdom, and Prince
without a people, we hope your gracious Majesty is very well and
happy!' They did worse than this; they cut his head off, and
handed it on a pole to the Queen, who laughed with delight when she
saw it (you recollect their walking so religiously and comfortably
to St. Paul's!), and had it fixed, with a paper crown upon its
head, on the walls of York. The Earl of Salisbury lost his head,
too; and the Duke of York's second son, a handsome boy who was
flying with his tutor over Wakefield Bridge, was stabbed in the
heart by a murderous, lord - Lord Clifford by name - whose father
had been killed by the White Roses in the fight at St. Alban's.
There was awful sacrifice of life in this battle, for no quarter
was given, and the Queen was wild for revenge. When men
unnaturally fight against their own countrymen, they are always
observed to be more unnaturally cruel and filled with rage than
they are against any other enemy.

But, Lord Clifford had stabbed the second son of the Duke of York -
not the first. The eldest son, Edward Earl of March, was at
Gloucester; and, vowing vengeance for the death of his father, his
brother, and their faithful friends, he began to march against the
Queen. He had to turn and fight a great body of Welsh and Irish
first, who worried his advance. These he defeated in a great fight
at Mortimer's Cross, near Hereford, where he beheaded a number of
the Red Roses taken in battle, in retaliation for the beheading of
the White Roses at Wakefield. The Queen had the next turn of
beheading. Having moved towards London, and falling in, between
St. Alban's and Barnet, with the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of
Norfolk, White Roses both, who were there with an army to oppose
her, and had got the King with them; she defeated them with great
loss, and struck off the heads of two prisoners of note, who were
in the King's tent with him, and to whom the King had promised his
protection. Her triumph, however, was very short. She had no
treasure, and her army subsisted by plunder. This caused them to
be hated and dreaded by the people, and particularly by the London
people, who were wealthy. As soon as the Londoners heard that
Edward, Earl of March, united with the Earl of Warwick, was
advancing towards the city, they refused to send the Queen
supplies, and made a great rejoicing.

The Queen and her men retreated with all speed, and Edward and
Warwick came on, greeted with loud acclamations on every side. The
courage, beauty, and virtues of young Edward could not be
sufficiently praised by the whole people. He rode into London like
a conqueror, and met with an enthusiastic welcome. A few days
afterwards, Lord Falconbridge and the Bishop of Exeter assembled
the citizens in St. John's Field, Clerkenwell, and asked them if
they would have Henry of Lancaster for their King? To this they
all roared, 'No, no, no!' and 'King Edward! King Edward!' Then,
said those noblemen, would they love and serve young Edward? To
this they all cried, 'Yes, yes!' and threw up their caps and
clapped their hands, and cheered tremendously.

Therefore, it was declared that by joining the Queen and not
protecting those two prisoners of note, Henry of Lancaster had
forfeited the crown; and Edward of York was proclaimed King. He
made a great speech to the applauding people at Westminster, and
sat down as sovereign of England on that throne, on the golden
covering of which his father - worthy of a better fate than the
bloody axe which cut the thread of so many lives in England,
through so many years - had laid his hand.


KING EDWARD THE FOURTH was not quite twenty-one years of age when
he took that unquiet seat upon the throne of England. The
Lancaster party, the Red Roses, were then assembling in great
numbers near York, and it was necessary to give them battle
instantly. But, the stout Earl of Warwick leading for the young
King, and the young King himself closely following him, and the
English people crowding round the Royal standard, the White and the
Red Roses met, on a wild March day when the snow was falling
heavily, at Towton; and there such a furious battle raged between
them, that the total loss amounted to forty thousand men - all
Englishmen, fighting, upon English ground, against one another.
The young King gained the day, took down the heads of his father
and brother from the walls of York, and put up the heads of some of
the most famous noblemen engaged in the battle on the other side.
Then, he went to London and was crowned with great splendour.

A new Parliament met. No fewer than one hundred and fifty of the
principal noblemen and gentlemen on the Lancaster side were
declared traitors, and the King - who had very little humanity,
though he was handsome in person and agreeable in manners -
resolved to do all he could, to pluck up the Red Rose root and

Queen Margaret, however, was still active for her young son. She
obtained help from Scotland and from Normandy, and took several
important English castles. But, Warwick soon retook them; the
Queen lost all her treasure on board ship in a great storm; and
both she and her son suffered great misfortunes. Once, in the
winter weather, as they were riding through a forest, they were
attacked and plundered by a party of robbers; and, when they had
escaped from these men and were passing alone and on foot through a
thick dark part of the wood, they came, all at once, upon another
robber. So the Queen, with a stout heart, took the little Prince
by the hand, and going straight up to that robber, said to him, 'My
friend, this is the young son of your lawful King! I confide him
to your care.' The robber was surprised, but took the boy in his
arms, and faithfully restored him and his mother to their friends.
In the end, the Queen's soldiers being beaten and dispersed, she
went abroad again, and kept quiet for the present.

Now, all this time, the deposed King Henry was concealed by a Welsh
knight, who kept him close in his castle. But, next year, the
Lancaster party recovering their spirits, raised a large body of
men, and called him out of his retirement, to put him at their
head. They were joined by some powerful noblemen who had sworn
fidelity to the new King, but who were ready, as usual, to break
their oaths, whenever they thought there was anything to be got by
it. One of the worst things in the history of the war of the Red
and White Roses, is the ease with which these noblemen, who should
have set an example of honour to the people, left either side as
they took slight offence, or were disappointed in their greedy
expectations, and joined the other. Well! Warwick's brother soon
beat the Lancastrians, and the false noblemen, being taken, were
beheaded without a moment's loss of time. The deposed King had a
narrow escape; three of his servants were taken, and one of them
bore his cap of estate, which was set with pearls and embroidered
with two golden crowns. However, the head to which the cap
belonged, got safely into Lancashire, and lay pretty quietly there
(the people in the secret being very true) for more than a year.
At length, an old monk gave such intelligence as led to Henry's
being taken while he was sitting at dinner in a place called
Waddington Hall. He was immediately sent to London, and met at
Islington by the Earl of Warwick, by whose directions he was put
upon a horse, with his legs tied under it, and paraded three times
round the pillory. Then, he was carried off to the Tower, where
they treated him well enough.

The White Rose being so triumphant, the young King abandoned
himself entirely to pleasure, and led a jovial life. But, thorns
were springing up under his bed of roses, as he soon found out.
For, having been privately married to ELIZABETH WOODVILLE, a young
widow lady, very beautiful and very captivating; and at last
resolving to make his secret known, and to declare her his Queen;
he gave some offence to the Earl of Warwick, who was usually called
the King-Maker, because of his power and influence, and because of
his having lent such great help to placing Edward on the throne.
This offence was not lessened by the jealousy with which the Nevil
family (the Earl of Warwick's) regarded the promotion of the
Woodville family. For, the young Queen was so bent on providing
for her relations, that she made her father an earl and a great
officer of state; married her five sisters to young noblemen of the
highest rank; and provided for her younger brother, a young man of
twenty, by marrying him to an immensely rich old duchess of eighty.
The Earl of Warwick took all this pretty graciously for a man of
his proud temper, until the question arose to whom the King's
sister, MARGARET, should be married. The Earl of Warwick said, 'To
one of the French King's sons,' and was allowed to go over to the
French King to make friendly proposals for that purpose, and to
hold all manner of friendly interviews with him. But, while he was
so engaged, the Woodville party married the young lady to the Duke
of Burgundy! Upon this he came back in great rage and scorn, and
shut himself up discontented, in his Castle of Middleham.

A reconciliation, though not a very sincere one, was patched up
between the Earl of Warwick and the King, and lasted until the Earl
married his daughter, against the King's wishes, to the Duke of
Clarence. While the marriage was being celebrated at Calais, the
people in the north of England, where the influence of the Nevil
family was strongest, broke out into rebellion; their complaint
was, that England was oppressed and plundered by the Woodville
family, whom they demanded to have removed from power. As they
were joined by great numbers of people, and as they openly declared
that they were supported by the Earl of Warwick, the King did not
know what to do. At last, as he wrote to the earl beseeching his
aid, he and his new son-in-law came over to England, and began to
arrange the business by shutting the King up in Middleham Castle in
the safe keeping of the Archbishop of York; so England was not only
in the strange position of having two kings at once, but they were
both prisoners at the same time.

Even as yet, however, the King-Maker was so far true to the King,
that he dispersed a new rising of the Lancastrians, took their
leader prisoner, and brought him to the King, who ordered him to be
immediately executed. He presently allowed the King to return to
London, and there innumerable pledges of forgiveness and friendship
were exchanged between them, and between the Nevils and the
Woodvilles; the King's eldest daughter was promised in marriage to
the heir of the Nevil family; and more friendly oaths were sworn,
and more friendly promises made, than this book would hold.

They lasted about three months. At the end of that time, the
Archbishop of York made a feast for the King, the Earl of Warwick,
and the Duke of Clarence, at his house, the Moor, in Hertfordshire.
The King was washing his hands before supper, when some one
whispered him that a body of a hundred men were lying in ambush
outside the house. Whether this were true or untrue, the King took
fright, mounted his horse, and rode through the dark night to
Windsor Castle. Another reconciliation was patched up between him
and the King-Maker, but it was a short one, and it was the last. A
new rising took place in Lincolnshire, and the King marched to
repress it. Having done so, he proclaimed that both the Earl of
Warwick and the Duke of Clarence were traitors, who had secretly
assisted it, and who had been prepared publicly to join it on the
following day. In these dangerous circumstances they both took
ship and sailed away to the French court.

And here a meeting took place between the Earl of Warwick and his
old enemy, the Dowager Queen Margaret, through whom his father had
had his head struck off, and to whom he had been a bitter foe.
But, now, when he said that he had done with the ungrateful and
perfidious Edward of York, and that henceforth he devoted himself
to the restoration of the House of Lancaster, either in the person
of her husband or of her little son, she embraced him as if he had
ever been her dearest friend. She did more than that; she married
her son to his second daughter, the Lady Anne. However agreeable
this marriage was to the new friends, it was very disagreeable to
the Duke of Clarence, who perceived that his father-in-law, the
King-Maker, would never make HIM King, now. So, being but a weak-
minded young traitor, possessed of very little worth or sense, he
readily listened to an artful court lady sent over for the purpose,
and promised to turn traitor once more, and go over to his brother,
King Edward, when a fitting opportunity should come.

The Earl of Warwick, knowing nothing of this, soon redeemed his
promise to the Dowager Queen Margaret, by invading England and
landing at Plymouth, where he instantly proclaimed King Henry, and
summoned all Englishmen between the ages of sixteen and sixty, to
join his banner. Then, with his army increasing as he marched
along, he went northward, and came so near King Edward, who was in
that part of the country, that Edward had to ride hard for it to
the coast of Norfolk, and thence to get away in such ships as he
could find, to Holland. Thereupon, the triumphant King-Maker and
his false son-in-law, the Duke of Clarence, went to London, took
the old King out of the Tower, and walked him in a great procession
to Saint Paul's Cathedral with the crown upon his head. This did
not improve the temper of the Duke of Clarence, who saw himself
farther off from being King than ever; but he kept his secret, and
said nothing. The Nevil family were restored to all their honours
and glories, and the Woodvilles and the rest were disgraced. The
King-Maker, less sanguinary than the King, shed no blood except
that of the Earl of Worcester, who had been so cruel to the people
as to have gained the title of the Butcher. Him they caught hidden
in a tree, and him they tried and executed. No other death stained
the King-Maker's triumph.

To dispute this triumph, back came King Edward again, next year,
landing at Ravenspur, coming on to York, causing all his men to cry
'Long live King Henry!' and swearing on the altar, without a blush,
that he came to lay no claim to the crown. Now was the time for
the Duke of Clarence, who ordered his men to assume the White Rose,
and declare for his brother. The Marquis of Montague, though the
Earl of Warwick's brother, also declining to fight against King
Edward, he went on successfully to London, where the Archbishop of
York let him into the City, and where the people made great
demonstrations in his favour. For this they had four reasons.
Firstly, there were great numbers of the King's adherents hiding in
the City and ready to break out; secondly, the King owed them a
great deal of money, which they could never hope to get if he were
unsuccessful; thirdly, there was a young prince to inherit the
crown; and fourthly, the King was gay and handsome, and more
popular than a better man might have been with the City ladies.
After a stay of only two days with these worthy supporters, the
King marched out to Barnet Common, to give the Earl of Warwick
battle. And now it was to be seen, for the last time, whether the
King or the King-Maker was to carry the day.

While the battle was yet pending, the fainthearted Duke of Clarence
began to repent, and sent over secret messages to his father-in-
law, offering his services in mediation with the King. But, the
Earl of Warwick disdainfully rejected them, and replied that
Clarence was false and perjured, and that he would settle the
quarrel by the sword. The battle began at four o'clock in the
morning and lasted until ten, and during the greater part of the
time it was fought in a thick mist - absurdly supposed to be raised
by a magician. The loss of life was very great, for the hatred was
strong on both sides. The King-Maker was defeated, and the King
triumphed. Both the Earl of Warwick and his brother were slain,
and their bodies lay in St. Paul's, for some days, as a spectacle
to the people.

Margaret's spirit was not broken even by this great blow. Within
five days she was in arms again, and raised her standard in Bath,
whence she set off with her army, to try and join Lord Pembroke,
who had a force in Wales. But, the King, coming up with her
outside the town of Tewkesbury, and ordering his brother, the DUKE
OF GLOUCESTER, who was a brave soldier, to attack her men, she
sustained an entire defeat, and was taken prisoner, together with
her son, now only eighteen years of age. The conduct of the King
to this poor youth was worthy of his cruel character. He ordered
him to be led into his tent. 'And what,' said he, 'brought YOU to
England?' 'I came to England,' replied the prisoner, with a spirit
which a man of spirit might have admired in a captive, 'to recover
my father's kingdom, which descended to him as his right, and from
him descends to me, as mine.' The King, drawing off his iron
gauntlet, struck him with it in the face; and the Duke of Clarence
and some other lords, who were there, drew their noble swords, and
killed him.

His mother survived him, a prisoner, for five years; after her
ransom by the King of France, she survived for six years more.
Within three weeks of this murder, Henry died one of those
convenient sudden deaths which were so common in the Tower; in
plainer words, he was murdered by the King's order.

Having no particular excitement on his hands after this great
defeat of the Lancaster party, and being perhaps desirous to get
rid of some of his fat (for he was now getting too corpulent to be
handsome), the King thought of making war on France. As he wanted
more money for this purpose than the Parliament could give him,
though they were usually ready enough for war, he invented a new
way of raising it, by sending for the principal citizens of London,
and telling them, with a grave face, that he was very much in want
of cash, and would take it very kind in them if they would lend him
some. It being impossible for them safely to refuse, they
complied, and the moneys thus forced from them were called - no
doubt to the great amusement of the King and the Court - as if they
were free gifts, 'Benevolences.' What with grants from Parliament,
and what with Benevolences, the King raised an army and passed over
to Calais. As nobody wanted war, however, the French King made
proposals of peace, which were accepted, and a truce was concluded
for seven long years. The proceedings between the Kings of France
and England on this occasion, were very friendly, very splendid,
and very distrustful. They finished with a meeting between the two
Kings, on a temporary bridge over the river Somme, where they
embraced through two holes in a strong wooden grating like a lion's
cage, and made several bows and fine speeches to one another.

It was time, now, that the Duke of Clarence should be punished for
his treacheries; and Fate had his punishment in store. He was,
probably, not trusted by the King - for who could trust him who
knew him! - and he had certainly a powerful opponent in his brother
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who, being avaricious and ambitious,
wanted to marry that widowed daughter of the Earl of Warwick's who
had been espoused to the deceased young Prince, at Calais.
Clarence, who wanted all the family wealth for himself, secreted
this lady, whom Richard found disguised as a servant in the City of
London, and whom he married; arbitrators appointed by the King,
then divided the property between the brothers. This led to ill-
will and mistrust between them. Clarence's wife dying, and he
wishing to make another marriage, which was obnoxious to the King,
his ruin was hurried by that means, too. At first, the Court
struck at his retainers and dependents, and accused some of them of
magic and witchcraft, and similar nonsense. Successful against
this small game, it then mounted to the Duke himself, who was
impeached by his brother the King, in person, on a variety of such
charges. He was found guilty, and sentenced to be publicly
executed. He never was publicly executed, but he met his death
somehow, in the Tower, and, no doubt, through some agency of the
King or his brother Gloucester, or both. It was supposed at the
time that he was told to choose the manner of his death, and that
he chose to be drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. I hope the story
may be true, for it would have been a becoming death for such a
miserable creature.

The King survived him some five years. He died in the forty-second
year of his life, and the twenty-third of his reign. He had a very
good capacity and some good points, but he was selfish, careless,
sensual, and cruel. He was a favourite with the people for his
showy manners; and the people were a good example to him in the
constancy of their attachment. He was penitent on his death-bed
for his 'benevolences,' and other extortions, and ordered
restitution to be made to the people who had suffered from them.
He also called about his bed the enriched members of the Woodville
family, and the proud lords whose honours were of older date, and
endeavoured to reconcile them, for the sake of the peaceful
succession of his son and the tranquillity of England.


THE late King's eldest son, the Prince of Wales, called EDWARD
after him, was only thirteen years of age at his father's death.
He was at Ludlow Castle with his uncle, the Earl of Rivers. The
prince's brother, the Duke of York, only eleven years of age, was
in London with his mother. The boldest, most crafty, and most
dreaded nobleman in England at that time was their uncle RICHARD,
Duke of Gloucester, and everybody wondered how the two poor boys
would fare with such an uncle for a friend or a foe.

The Queen, their mother, being exceedingly uneasy about this, was
anxious that instructions should be sent to Lord Rivers to raise an
army to escort the young King safely to London. But, Lord
Hastings, who was of the Court party opposed to the Woodvilles, and
who disliked the thought of giving them that power, argued against
the proposal, and obliged the Queen to be satisfied with an escort
of two thousand horse. The Duke of Gloucester did nothing, at
first, to justify suspicion. He came from Scotland (where he was
commanding an army) to York, and was there the first to swear
allegiance to his nephew. He then wrote a condoling letter to the
Queen-Mother, and set off to be present at the coronation in

Now, the young King, journeying towards London too, with Lord
Rivers and Lord Gray, came to Stony Stratford, as his uncle came to
Northampton, about ten miles distant; and when those two lords
heard that the Duke of Gloucester was so near, they proposed to the
young King that they should go back and greet him in his name. The
boy being very willing that they should do so, they rode off and
were received with great friendliness, and asked by the Duke of
Gloucester to stay and dine with him. In the evening, while they
were merry together, up came the Duke of Buckingham with three
hundred horsemen; and next morning the two lords and the two dukes,
and the three hundred horsemen, rode away together to rejoin the
King. Just as they were entering Stony Stratford, the Duke of
Gloucester, checking his horse, turned suddenly on the two lords,
charged them with alienating from him the affections of his sweet
nephew, and caused them to be arrested by the three hundred
horsemen and taken back. Then, he and the Duke of Buckingham went
straight to the King (whom they had now in their power), to whom
they made a show of kneeling down, and offering great love and
submission; and then they ordered his attendants to disperse, and
took him, alone with them, to Northampton.

A few days afterwards they conducted him to London, and lodged him
in the Bishop's Palace. But, he did not remain there long; for,
the Duke of Buckingham with a tender face made a speech expressing
how anxious he was for the Royal boy's safety, and how much safer
he would be in the Tower until his coronation, than he could be
anywhere else. So, to the Tower he was taken, very carefully, and
the Duke of Gloucester was named Protector of the State.

Although Gloucester had proceeded thus far with a very smooth
countenance - and although he was a clever man, fair of speech, and
not ill-looking, in spite of one of his shoulders being something
higher than the other - and although he had come into the City
riding bare-headed at the King's side, and looking very fond of him
- he had made the King's mother more uneasy yet; and when the Royal
boy was taken to the Tower, she became so alarmed that she took
sanctuary in Westminster with her five daughters.

Nor did she do this without reason, for, the Duke of Gloucester,
finding that the lords who were opposed to the Woodville family
were faithful to the young King nevertheless, quickly resolved to
strike a blow for himself. Accordingly, while those lords met in
council at the Tower, he and those who were in his interest met in
separate council at his own residence, Crosby Palace, in
Bishopsgate Street. Being at last quite prepared, he one day
appeared unexpectedly at the council in the Tower, and appeared to
be very jocular and merry. He was particularly gay with the Bishop
of Ely: praising the strawberries that grew in his garden on
Holborn Hill, and asking him to have some gathered that he might
eat them at dinner. The Bishop, quite proud of the honour, sent
one of his men to fetch some; and the Duke, still very jocular and
gay, went out; and the council all said what a very agreeable duke
he was! In a little time, however, he came back quite altered -
not at all jocular - frowning and fierce - and suddenly said, -

'What do those persons deserve who have compassed my destruction; I
being the King's lawful, as well as natural, protector?'

To this strange question, Lord Hastings replied, that they deserved
death, whosoever they were.

'Then,' said the Duke, 'I tell you that they are that sorceress my
brother's wife;' meaning the Queen: 'and that other sorceress,
Jane Shore. Who, by witchcraft, have withered my body, and caused
my arm to shrink as I now show you.'

He then pulled up his sleeve and showed them his arm, which was
shrunken, it is true, but which had been so, as they all very well
knew, from the hour of his birth.

Jane Shore, being then the lover of Lord Hastings, as she had
formerly been of the late King, that lord knew that he himself was
attacked. So, he said, in some confusion, 'Certainly, my Lord, if
they have done this, they be worthy of punishment.'

'If?' said the Duke of Gloucester; 'do you talk to me of ifs? I
tell you that they HAVE so done, and I will make it good upon thy
body, thou traitor!'

With that, he struck the table a great blow with his fist. This
was a signal to some of his people outside to cry 'Treason!' They
immediately did so, and there was a rush into the chamber of so
many armed men that it was filled in a moment.

'First,' said the Duke of Gloucester to Lord Hastings, 'I arrest
thee, traitor! And let him,' he added to the armed men who took
him, 'have a priest at once, for by St. Paul I will not dine until
I have seen his head of!'

Lord Hastings was hurried to the green by the Tower chapel, and
there beheaded on a log of wood that happened to be lying on the
ground. Then, the Duke dined with a good appetite, and after
dinner summoning the principal citizens to attend him, told them
that Lord Hastings and the rest had designed to murder both himself
and the Duke if Buckingham, who stood by his side, if he had not
providentially discovered their design. He requested them to be so
obliging as to inform their fellow-citizens of the truth of what he
said, and issued a proclamation (prepared and neatly copied out
beforehand) to the same effect.

On the same day that the Duke did these things in the Tower, Sir
Richard Ratcliffe, the boldest and most undaunted of his men, went
down to Pontefract; arrested Lord Rivers, Lord Gray, and two other
gentlemen; and publicly executed them on the scaffold, without any
trial, for having intended the Duke's death. Three days afterwards
the Duke, not to lose time, went down the river to Westminster in
his barge, attended by divers bishops, lords, and soldiers, and
demanded that the Queen should deliver her second son, the Duke of
York, into his safe keeping. The Queen, being obliged to comply,
resigned the child after she had wept over him; and Richard of
Gloucester placed him with his brother in the Tower. Then, he
seized Jane Shore, and, because she had been the lover of the late
King, confiscated her property, and got her sentenced to do public
penance in the streets by walking in a scanty dress, with bare
feet, and carrying a lighted candle, to St. Paul's Cathedral,
through the most crowded part of the City.

Having now all things ready for his own advancement, he caused a
friar to preach a sermon at the cross which stood in front of St.
Paul's Cathedral, in which he dwelt upon the profligate manners of
the late King, and upon the late shame of Jane Shore, and hinted
that the princes were not his children. 'Whereas, good people,'
said the friar, whose name was SHAW, 'my Lord the Protector, the
noble Duke of Gloucester, that sweet prince, the pattern of all the
noblest virtues, is the perfect image and express likeness of his
father.' There had been a little plot between the Duke and the
friar, that the Duke should appear in the crowd at this moment,
when it was expected that the people would cry 'Long live King
Richard!' But, either through the friar saying the words too soon,
or through the Duke's coming too late, the Duke and the words did
not come together, and the people only laughed, and the friar
sneaked off ashamed.

The Duke of Buckingham was a better hand at such business than the
friar, so he went to the Guildhall the next day, and addressed the
citizens in the Lord Protector's behalf. A few dirty men, who had
been hired and stationed there for the purpose, crying when he had
done, 'God save King Richard!' he made them a great bow, and
thanked them with all his heart. Next day, to make an end of it,
he went with the mayor and some lords and citizens to Bayard
Castle, by the river, where Richard then was, and read an address,
humbly entreating him to accept the Crown of England. Richard, who
looked down upon them out of a window and pretended to be in great
uneasiness and alarm, assured them there was nothing he desired
less, and that his deep affection for his nephews forbade him to
think of it. To this the Duke of Buckingham replied, with
pretended warmth, that the free people of England would never
submit to his nephew's rule, and that if Richard, who was the
lawful heir, refused the Crown, why then they must find some one
else to wear it. The Duke of Gloucester returned, that since he
used that strong language, it became his painful duty to think no
more of himself, and to accept the Crown.

Upon that, the people cheered and dispersed; and the Duke of
Gloucester and the Duke of Buckingham passed a pleasant evening,
talking over the play they had just acted with so much success, and
every word of which they had prepared together.


KING RICHARD THE THIRD was up betimes in the morning, and went to
Westminster Hall. In the Hall was a marble seat, upon which he sat
himself down between two great noblemen, and told the people that
he began the new reign in that place, because the first duty of a
sovereign was to administer the laws equally to all, and to
maintain justice. He then mounted his horse and rode back to the
City, where he was received by the clergy and the crowd as if he
really had a right to the throne, and really were a just man. The
clergy and the crowd must have been rather ashamed of themselves in
secret, I think, for being such poor-spirited knaves.

The new King and his Queen were soon crowned with a great deal of
show and noise, which the people liked very much; and then the King
set forth on a royal progress through his dominions. He was
crowned a second time at York, in order that the people might have
show and noise enough; and wherever he went was received with
shouts of rejoicing - from a good many people of strong lungs, who
were paid to strain their throats in crying, 'God save King
Richard!' The plan was so successful that I am told it has been
imitated since, by other usurpers, in other progresses through
other dominions.

While he was on this journey, King Richard stayed a week at
Warwick. And from Warwick he sent instructions home for one of the
wickedest murders that ever was done - the murder of the two young
princes, his nephews, who were shut up in the Tower of London.

Sir Robert Brackenbury was at that time Governor of the Tower. To
him, by the hands of a messenger named JOHN GREEN, did King Richard
send a letter, ordering him by some means to put the two young
princes to death. But Sir Robert - I hope because he had children
of his own, and loved them - sent John Green back again, riding and
spurring along the dusty roads, with the answer that he could not
do so horrible a piece of work. The King, having frowningly
considered a little, called to him SIR JAMES TYRREL, his master of
the horse, and to him gave authority to take command of the Tower,
whenever he would, for twenty-four hours, and to keep all the keys
of the Tower during that space of time. Tyrrel, well knowing what
was wanted, looked about him for two hardened ruffians, and chose
JOHN DIGHTON, one of his own grooms, and MILES FOREST, who was a
murderer by trade. Having secured these two assistants, he went,
upon a day in August, to the Tower, showed his authority from the
King, took the command for four-and-twenty hours, and obtained
possession of the keys. And when the black night came he went
creeping, creeping, like a guilty villain as he was, up the dark,
stone winding stairs, and along the dark stone passages, until he
came to the door of the room where the two young princes, having
said their prayers, lay fast asleep, clasped in each other's arms.
And while he watched and listened at the door, he sent in those
evil demons, John Dighton and Miles Forest, who smothered the two
princes with the bed and pillows, and carried their bodies down the
stairs, and buried them under a great heap of stones at the
staircase foot. And when the day came, he gave up the command of
the Tower, and restored the keys, and hurried away without once
looking behind him; and Sir Robert Brackenbury went with fear and
sadness to the princes' room, and found the princes gone for ever.

You know, through all this history, how true it is that traitors
are never true, and you will not be surprised to learn that the
Duke of Buckingham soon turned against King Richard, and joined a
great conspiracy that was formed to dethrone him, and to place the
crown upon its rightful owner's head. Richard had meant to keep
the murder secret; but when he heard through his spies that this
conspiracy existed, and that many lords and gentlemen drank in
secret to the healths of the two young princes in the Tower, he
made it known that they were dead. The conspirators, though
thwarted for a moment, soon resolved to set up for the crown
against the murderous Richard, HENRY Earl of Richmond, grandson of
Catherine: that widow of Henry the Fifth who married Owen Tudor.
And as Henry was of the house of Lancaster, they proposed that he
should marry the Princess Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of the
late King, now the heiress of the house of York, and thus by
uniting the rival families put an end to the fatal wars of the Red
and White Roses. All being settled, a time was appointed for Henry
to come over from Brittany, and for a great rising against Richard
to take place in several parts of England at the same hour. On a
certain day, therefore, in October, the revolt took place; but
unsuccessfully. Richard was prepared, Henry was driven back at sea
by a storm, his followers in England were dispersed, and the Duke
of Buckingham was taken, and at once beheaded in the market-place
at Salisbury.

The time of his success was a good time, Richard thought, for
summoning a Parliament and getting some money. So, a Parliament
was called, and it flattered and fawned upon him as much as he
could possibly desire, and declared him to be the rightful King of
England, and his only son Edward, then eleven years of age, the
next heir to the throne.

Richard knew full well that, let the Parliament say what it would,
the Princess Elizabeth was remembered by people as the heiress of
the house of York; and having accurate information besides, of its
being designed by the conspirators to marry her to Henry of
Richmond, he felt that it would much strengthen him and weaken
them, to be beforehand with them, and marry her to his son. With
this view he went to the Sanctuary at Westminster, where the late
King's widow and her daughter still were, and besought them to come
to Court: where (he swore by anything and everything) they should
be safely and honourably entertained. They came, accordingly, but
had scarcely been at Court a month when his son died suddenly - or
was poisoned - and his plan was crushed to pieces.

In this extremity, King Richard, always active, thought, 'I must
make another plan.' And he made the plan of marrying the Princess
Elizabeth himself, although she was his niece. There was one
difficulty in the way: his wife, the Queen Anne, was alive. But,
he knew (remembering his nephews) how to remove that obstacle, and
he made love to the Princess Elizabeth, telling her he felt
perfectly confident that the Queen would die in February. The
Princess was not a very scrupulous young lady, for, instead of
rejecting the murderer of her brothers with scorn and hatred, she
openly declared she loved him dearly; and, when February came and
the Queen did not die, she expressed her impatient opinion that she
was too long about it. However, King Richard was not so far out in
his prediction, but, that she died in March - he took good care of
that - and then this precious pair hoped to be married. But they
were disappointed, for the idea of such a marriage was so unpopular
in the country, that the King's chief counsellors, RATCLIFFE and
CATESBY, would by no means undertake to propose it, and the King
was even obliged to declare in public that he had never thought of
such a thing.

He was, by this time, dreaded and hated by all classes of his
subjects. His nobles deserted every day to Henry's side; he dared
not call another Parliament, lest his crimes should be denounced
there; and for want of money, he was obliged to get Benevolences
from the citizens, which exasperated them all against him. It was
said too, that, being stricken by his conscience, he dreamed
frightful dreams, and started up in the night-time, wild with
terror and remorse. Active to the last, through all this, he
issued vigorous proclamations against Henry of Richmond and all his
followers, when he heard that they were coming against him with a
Fleet from France; and took the field as fierce and savage as a
wild boar - the animal represented on his shield.

Henry of Richmond landed with six thousand men at Milford Haven,
and came on against King Richard, then encamped at Leicester with
an army twice as great, through North Wales. On Bosworth Field the
two armies met; and Richard, looking along Henry's ranks, and
seeing them crowded with the English nobles who had abandoned him,
turned pale when he beheld the powerful Lord Stanley and his son
(whom he had tried hard to retain) among them. But, he was as
brave as he was wicked, and plunged into the thickest of the fight.
He was riding hither and thither, laying about him in all
directions, when he observed the Earl of Northumberland - one of
his few great allies - to stand inactive, and the main body of his
troops to hesitate. At the same moment, his desperate glance
caught Henry of Richmond among a little group of his knights.
Riding hard at him, and crying 'Treason!' he killed his standard-
bearer, fiercely unhorsed another gentleman, and aimed a powerful
stroke at Henry himself, to cut him down. But, Sir William Stanley
parried it as it fell, and before Richard could raise his arm
again, he was borne down in a press of numbers, unhorsed, and
killed. Lord Stanley picked up the crown, all bruised and
trampled, and stained with blood, and put it upon Richmond's head,
amid loud and rejoicing cries of 'Long live King Henry!'

That night, a horse was led up to the church of the Grey Friars at
Leicester; across whose back was tied, like some worthless sack, a
naked body brought there for burial. It was the body of the last
of the Plantagenet line, King Richard the Third, usurper and
murderer, slain at the battle of Bosworth Field in the thirty-
second year of his age, after a reign of two years.


KING HENRY THE SEVENTH did not turn out to be as fine a fellow as
the nobility and people hoped, in the first joy of their
deliverance from Richard the Third. He was very cold, crafty, and
calculating, and would do almost anything for money. He possessed
considerable ability, but his chief merit appears to have been that
he was not cruel when there was nothing to be got by it.

The new King had promised the nobles who had espoused his cause
that he would marry the Princess Elizabeth. The first thing he
did, was, to direct her to be removed from the castle of Sheriff
Hutton in Yorkshire, where Richard had placed her, and restored to
the care of her mother in London. The young Earl of Warwick,
Edward Plantagenet, son and heir of the late Duke of Clarence, had
been kept a prisoner in the same old Yorkshire Castle with her.
This boy, who was now fifteen, the new King placed in the Tower for
safety. Then he came to London in great state, and gratified the
people with a fine procession; on which kind of show he often very
much relied for keeping them in good humour. The sports and feasts
which took place were followed by a terrible fever, called the
Sweating Sickness; of which great numbers of people died. Lord
Mayors and Aldermen are thought to have suffered most from it;
whether, because they were in the habit of over-eating themselves,
or because they were very jealous of preserving filth and nuisances
in the City (as they have been since), I don't know.

The King's coronation was postponed on account of the general ill-
health, and he afterwards deferred his marriage, as if he were not
very anxious that it should take place: and, even after that,
deferred the Queen's coronation so long that he gave offence to the
York party. However, he set these things right in the end, by
hanging some men and seizing on the rich possessions of others; by
granting more popular pardons to the followers of the late King
than could, at first, be got from him; and, by employing about his
Court, some very scrupulous persons who had been employed in the
previous reign.

As this reign was principally remarkable for two very curious
impostures which have become famous in history, we will make those
two stories its principal feature.

There was a priest at Oxford of the name of Simons, who had for a
pupil a handsome boy named Lambert Simnel, the son of a baker.
Partly to gratify his own ambitious ends, and partly to carry out
the designs of a secret party formed against the King, this priest
declared that his pupil, the boy, was no other than the young Earl
of Warwick; who (as everybody might have known) was safely locked
up in the Tower of London. The priest and the boy went over to
Ireland; and, at Dublin, enlisted in their cause all ranks of the
people: who seem to have been generous enough, but exceedingly
irrational. The Earl of Kildare, the governor of Ireland, declared
that he believed the boy to be what the priest represented; and the
boy, who had been well tutored by the priest, told them such things
of his childhood, and gave them so many descriptions of the Royal
Family, that they were perpetually shouting and hurrahing, and
drinking his health, and making all kinds of noisy and thirsty
demonstrations, to express their belief in him. Nor was this
feeling confined to Ireland alone, for the Earl of Lincoln - whom
the late usurper had named as his successor - went over to the
young Pretender; and, after holding a secret correspondence with
the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy - the sister of Edward the Fourth,
who detested the present King and all his race - sailed to Dublin
with two thousand German soldiers of her providing. In this
promising state of the boy's fortunes, he was crowned there, with a
crown taken off the head of a statue of the Virgin Mary; and was
then, according to the Irish custom of those days, carried home on
the shoulders of a big chieftain possessing a great deal more
strength than sense. Father Simons, you may be sure, was mighty
busy at the coronation.

Ten days afterwards, the Germans, and the Irish, and the priest,
and the boy, and the Earl of Lincoln, all landed in Lancashire to
invade England. The King, who had good intelligence of their
movements, set up his standard at Nottingham, where vast numbers
resorted to him every day; while the Earl of Lincoln could gain but
very few. With his small force he tried to make for the town of
Newark; but the King's army getting between him and that place, he
had no choice but to risk a battle at Stoke. It soon ended in the
complete destruction of the Pretender's forces, one half of whom
were killed; among them, the Earl himself. The priest and the
baker's boy were taken prisoners. The priest, after confessing the
trick, was shut up in prison, where he afterwards died - suddenly
perhaps. The boy was taken into the King's kitchen and made a
turnspit. He was afterwards raised to the station of one of the
King's falconers; and so ended this strange imposition.

There seems reason to suspect that the Dowager Queen - always a
restless and busy woman - had had some share in tutoring the
baker's son. The King was very angry with her, whether or no. He
seized upon her property, and shut her up in a convent at

One might suppose that the end of this story would have put the
Irish people on their guard; but they were quite ready to receive a
second impostor, as they had received the first, and that same
troublesome Duchess of Burgundy soon gave them the opportunity.
All of a sudden there appeared at Cork, in a vessel arriving from
Portugal, a young man of excellent abilities, of very handsome
appearance and most winning manners, who declared himself to be
Richard, Duke of York, the second son of King Edward the Fourth.
'O,' said some, even of those ready Irish believers, 'but surely
that young Prince was murdered by his uncle in the Tower!' - 'It IS
supposed so,' said the engaging young man; 'and my brother WAS
killed in that gloomy prison; but I escaped - it don't matter how,
at present - and have been wandering about the world for seven long
years.' This explanation being quite satisfactory to numbers of
the Irish people, they began again to shout and to hurrah, and to
drink his health, and to make the noisy and thirsty demonstrations
all over again. And the big chieftain in Dublin began to look out
for another coronation, and another young King to be carried home
on his back.

Now, King Henry being then on bad terms with France, the French
King, Charles the Eighth, saw that, by pretending to believe in the
handsome young man, he could trouble his enemy sorely. So, he
invited him over to the French Court, and appointed him a body-
guard, and treated him in all respects as if he really were the
Duke of York. Peace, however, being soon concluded between the two
Kings, the pretended Duke was turned adrift, and wandered for
protection to the Duchess of Burgundy. She, after feigning to
inquire into the reality of his claims, declared him to be the very
picture of her dear departed brother; gave him a body-guard at her
Court, of thirty halberdiers; and called him by the sounding name
of the White Rose of England.

The leading members of the White Rose party in England sent over an
agent, named Sir Robert Clifford, to ascertain whether the White
Rose's claims were good: the King also sent over his agents to
inquire into the Rose's history. The White Roses declared the
young man to be really the Duke of York; the King declared him to
be PERKIN WARBECK, the son of a merchant of the city of Tournay,
who had acquired his knowledge of England, its language and
manners, from the English merchants who traded in Flanders; it was
also stated by the Royal agents that he had been in the service of
Lady Brompton, the wife of an exiled English nobleman, and that the
Duchess of Burgundy had caused him to be trained and taught,
expressly for this deception. The King then required the Archduke
Philip - who was the sovereign of Burgundy - to banish this new
Pretender, or to deliver him up; but, as the Archduke replied that
he could not control the Duchess in her own land, the King, in
revenge, took the market of English cloth away from Antwerp, and
prevented all commercial intercourse between the two countries.

He also, by arts and bribes, prevailed on Sir Robert Clifford to
betray his employers; and he denouncing several famous English
noblemen as being secretly the friends of Perkin Warbeck, the King
had three of the foremost executed at once. Whether he pardoned
the remainder because they were poor, I do not know; but it is only
too probable that he refused to pardon one famous nobleman against
whom the same Clifford soon afterwards informed separately, because
he was rich. This was no other than Sir William Stanley, who had
saved the King's life at the battle of Bosworth Field. It is very
doubtful whether his treason amounted to much more than his having
said, that if he were sure the young man was the Duke of York, he
would not take arms against him. Whatever he had done he admitted,
like an honourable spirit; and he lost his head for it, and the
covetous King gained all his wealth.

Perkin Warbeck kept quiet for three years; but, as the Flemings
began to complain heavily of the loss of their trade by the
stoppage of the Antwerp market on his account, and as it was not
unlikely that they might even go so far as to take his life, or
give him up, he found it necessary to do something. Accordingly he
made a desperate sally, and landed, with only a few hundred men, on
the coast of Deal. But he was soon glad to get back to the place
from whence he came; for the country people rose against his
followers, killed a great many, and took a hundred and fifty
prisoners: who were all driven to London, tied together with
ropes, like a team of cattle. Every one of them was hanged on some
part or other of the sea-shore; in order, that if any more men
should come over with Perkin Warbeck, they might see the bodies as
a warning before they landed.

Then the wary King, by making a treaty of commerce with the
Flemings, drove Perkin Warbeck out of that country; and, by
completely gaining over the Irish to his side, deprived him of that
asylum too. He wandered away to Scotland, and told his story at
that Court. King James the Fourth of Scotland, who was no friend
to King Henry, and had no reason to be (for King Henry had bribed
his Scotch lords to betray him more than once; but had never
succeeded in his plots), gave him a great reception, called him his
cousin, and gave him in marriage the Lady Catherine Gordon, a
beautiful and charming creature related to the royal house of

Alarmed by this successful reappearance of the Pretender, the King
still undermined, and bought, and bribed, and kept his doings and
Perkin Warbeck's story in the dark, when he might, one would
imagine, have rendered the matter clear to all England. But, for
all this bribing of the Scotch lords at the Scotch King's Court, he
could not procure the Pretender to be delivered up to him. James,
though not very particular in many respects, would not betray him;
and the ever-busy Duchess of Burgundy so provided him with arms,
and good soldiers, and with money besides, that he had soon a
little army of fifteen hundred men of various nations. With these,
and aided by the Scottish King in person, he crossed the border
into England, and made a proclamation to the people, in which he
called the King 'Henry Tudor;' offered large rewards to any who
should take or distress him; and announced himself as King Richard
the Fourth come to receive the homage of his faithful subjects.
His faithful subjects, however, cared nothing for him, and hated
his faithful troops: who, being of different nations, quarrelled
also among themselves. Worse than this, if worse were possible,
they began to plunder the country; upon which the White Rose said,
that he would rather lose his rights, than gain them through the
miseries of the English people. The Scottish King made a jest of
his scruples; but they and their whole force went back again
without fighting a battle.

The worst consequence of this attempt was, that a rising took place
among the people of Cornwall, who considered themselves too heavily
taxed to meet the charges of the expected war. Stimulated by
Flammock, a lawyer, and Joseph, a blacksmith, and joined by Lord
Audley and some other country gentlemen, they marched on all the
way to Deptford Bridge, where they fought a battle with the King's
army. They were defeated - though the Cornish men fought with
great bravery - and the lord was beheaded, and the lawyer and the
blacksmith were hanged, drawn, and quartered. The rest were
pardoned. The King, who believed every man to be as avaricious as
himself, and thought that money could settle anything, allowed them
to make bargains for their liberty with the soldiers who had taken

Perkin Warbeck, doomed to wander up and down, and never to find
rest anywhere - a sad fate: almost a sufficient punishment for an
imposture, which he seems in time to have half believed himself -
lost his Scottish refuge through a truce being made between the two
Kings; and found himself, once more, without a country before him
in which he could lay his head. But James (always honourable and
true to him, alike when he melted down his plate, and even the
great gold chain he had been used to wear, to pay soldiers in his
cause; and now, when that cause was lost and hopeless) did not
conclude the treaty, until he had safely departed out of the
Scottish dominions. He, and his beautiful wife, who was faithful
to him under all reverses, and left her state and home to follow
his poor fortunes, were put aboard ship with everything necessary
for their comfort and protection, and sailed for Ireland.

But, the Irish people had had enough of counterfeit Earls of
Warwick and Dukes of York, for one while; and would give the White
Rose no aid. So, the White Rose - encircled by thorns indeed -
resolved to go with his beautiful wife to Cornwall as a forlorn
resource, and see what might be made of the Cornish men, who had
risen so valiantly a little while before, and who had fought so
bravely at Deptford Bridge.

To Whitsand Bay, in Cornwall, accordingly, came Perkin Warbeck and
his wife; and the lovely lady he shut up for safety in the Castle
of St. Michael's Mount, and then marched into Devonshire at the
head of three thousand Cornishmen. These were increased to six
thousand by the time of his arrival in Exeter; but, there the
people made a stout resistance, and he went on to Taunton, where he
came in sight of the King's army. The stout Cornish men, although
they were few in number, and badly armed, were so bold, that they
never thought of retreating; but bravely looked forward to a battle
on the morrow. Unhappily for them, the man who was possessed of so
many engaging qualities, and who attracted so many people to his
side when he had nothing else with which to tempt them, was not as
brave as they. In the night, when the two armies lay opposite to
each other, he mounted a swift horse and fled. When morning
dawned, the poor confiding Cornish men, discovering that they had
no leader, surrendered to the King's power. Some of them were
hanged, and the rest were pardoned and went miserably home.

Before the King pursued Perkin Warbeck to the sanctuary of Beaulieu
in the New Forest, where it was soon known that he had taken
refuge, he sent a body of horsemen to St. Michael's Mount, to seize
his wife. She was soon taken and brought as a captive before the
King. But she was so beautiful, and so good, and so devoted to the
man in whom she believed, that the King regarded her with
compassion, treated her with great respect, and placed her at
Court, near the Queen's person. And many years after Perkin
Warbeck was no more, and when his strange story had become like a
nursery tale, SHE was called the White Rose, by the people, in
remembrance of her beauty.

The sanctuary at Beaulieu was soon surrounded by the King's men;
and the King, pursuing his usual dark, artful ways, sent pretended
friends to Perkin Warbeck to persuade him to come out and surrender
himself. This he soon did; the King having taken a good look at
the man of whom he had heard so much - from behind a screen -
directed him to be well mounted, and to ride behind him at a little
distance, guarded, but not bound in any way. So they entered
London with the King's favourite show - a procession; and some of
the people hooted as the Pretender rode slowly through the streets
to the Tower; but the greater part were quiet, and very curious to
see him. From the Tower, he was taken to the Palace at
Westminster, and there lodged like a gentleman, though closely
watched. He was examined every now and then as to his imposture;
but the King was so secret in all he did, that even then he gave it
a consequence, which it cannot be supposed to have in itself

At last Perkin Warbeck ran away, and took refuge in another
sanctuary near Richmond in Surrey. From this he was again
persuaded to deliver himself up; and, being conveyed to London, he
stood in the stocks for a whole day, outside Westminster Hall, and
there read a paper purporting to be his full confession, and
relating his history as the King's agents had originally described
it. He was then shut up in the Tower again, in the company of the
Earl of Warwick, who had now been there for fourteen years: ever
since his removal out of Yorkshire, except when the King had had
him at Court, and had shown him to the people, to prove the
imposture of the Baker's boy. It is but too probable, when we
consider the crafty character of Henry the Seventh, that these two
were brought together for a cruel purpose. A plot was soon
discovered between them and the keepers, to murder the Governor,
get possession of the keys, and proclaim Perkin Warbeck as King
Richard the Fourth. That there was some such plot, is likely; that
they were tempted into it, is at least as likely; that the
unfortunate Earl of Warwick - last male of the Plantagenet line -
was too unused to the world, and too ignorant and simple to know
much about it, whatever it was, is perfectly certain; and that it
was the King's interest to get rid of him, is no less so. He was
beheaded on Tower Hill, and Perkin Warbeck was hanged at Tyburn.

Such was the end of the pretended Duke of York, whose shadowy
history was made more shadowy - and ever will be - by the mystery
and craft of the King. If he had turned his great natural
advantages to a more honest account, he might have lived a happy
and respected life, even in those days. But he died upon a gallows
at Tyburn, leaving the Scottish lady, who had loved him so well,
kindly protected at the Queen's Court. After some time she forgot
her old loves and troubles, as many people do with Time's merciful
assistance, and married a Welsh gentleman. Her second husband, SIR
MATTHEW CRADOC, more honest and more happy than her first, lies
beside her in a tomb in the old church of Swansea.

The ill-blood between France and England in this reign, arose out
of the continued plotting of the Duchess of Burgundy, and disputes
respecting the affairs of Brittany. The King feigned to be very
patriotic, indignant, and warlike; but he always contrived so as
never to make war in reality, and always to make money. His
taxation of the people, on pretence of war with France, involved,
at one time, a very dangerous insurrection, headed by Sir John
Egremont, and a common man called John a Chambre. But it was
subdued by the royal forces, under the command of the Earl of
Surrey. The knighted John escaped to the Duchess of Burgundy, who
was ever ready to receive any one who gave the King trouble; and
the plain John was hanged at York, in the midst of a number of his
men, but on a much higher gibbet, as being a greater traitor. Hung
high or hung low, however, hanging is much the same to the person

Within a year after her marriage, the Queen had given birth to a
son, who was called Prince Arthur, in remembrance of the old
British prince of romance and story; and who, when all these events
had happened, being then in his fifteenth year, was married to
CATHERINE, the daughter of the Spanish monarch, with great
rejoicings and bright prospects; but in a very few months he
sickened and died. As soon as the King had recovered from his
grief, he thought it a pity that the fortune of the Spanish
Princess, amounting to two hundred thousand crowns, should go out
of the family; and therefore arranged that the young widow should
marry his second son HENRY, then twelve years of age, when he too
should be fifteen. There were objections to this marriage on the
part of the clergy; but, as the infallible Pope was gained over,
and, as he MUST be right, that settled the business for the time.
The King's eldest daughter was provided for, and a long course of
disturbance was considered to be set at rest, by her being married
to the Scottish King.

And now the Queen died. When the King had got over that grief too,
his mind once more reverted to his darling money for consolation,
and he thought of marrying the Dowager Queen of Naples, who was
immensely rich: but, as it turned out not to be practicable to
gain the money however practicable it might have been to gain the
lady, he gave up the idea. He was not so fond of her but that he
soon proposed to marry the Dowager Duchess of Savoy; and, soon
afterwards, the widow of the King of Castile, who was raving mad.
But he made a money-bargain instead, and married neither.

The Duchess of Burgundy, among the other discontented people to
whom she had given refuge, had sheltered EDMUND DE LA POLE (younger
brother of that Earl of Lincoln who was killed at Stoke), now Earl
of Suffolk. The King had prevailed upon him to return to the
marriage of Prince Arthur; but, he soon afterwards went away again;
and then the King, suspecting a conspiracy, resorted to his
favourite plan of sending him some treacherous friends, and buying
of those scoundrels the secrets they disclosed or invented. Some
arrests and executions took place in consequence. In the end, the
King, on a promise of not taking his life, obtained possession of
the person of Edmund de la Pole, and shut him up in the Tower.

This was his last enemy. If he had lived much longer he would have
made many more among the people, by the grinding exaction to which
he constantly exposed them, and by the tyrannical acts of his two
prime favourites in all money-raising matters, EDMUND DUDLEY and
RICHARD EMPSON. But Death - the enemy who is not to be bought off
or deceived, and on whom no money, and no treachery has any effect
- presented himself at this juncture, and ended the King's reign.
He died of the gout, on the twenty-second of April, one thousand
five hundred and nine, and in the fifty-third year of his age,
after reigning twenty-four years; he was buried in the beautiful
Chapel of Westminster Abbey, which he had himself founded, and
which still bears his name.

It was in this reign that the great CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, on behalf
of Spain, discovered what was then called The New World. Great
wonder, interest, and hope of wealth being awakened in England
thereby, the King and the merchants of London and Bristol fitted
out an English expedition for further discoveries in the New World,
and entrusted it to SEBASTIAN CABOT, of Bristol, the son of a
Venetian pilot there. He was very successful in his voyage, and
gained high reputation, both for himself and England.



WE now come to King Henry the Eighth, whom it has been too much the
fashion to call 'Bluff King Hal,' and 'Burly King Harry,' and other
fine names; but whom I shall take the liberty to call, plainly, one
of the most detestable villains that ever drew breath. You will be
able to judge, long before we come to the end of his life, whether
he deserves the character.

He was just eighteen years of age when he came to the throne.
People said he was handsome then; but I don't believe it. He was a
big, burly, noisy, small-eyed, large-faced, double-chinned,
swinish-looking fellow in later life (as we know from the
likenesses of him, painted by the famous HANS HOLBEIN), and it is
not easy to believe that so bad a character can ever have been
veiled under a prepossessing appearance.

He was anxious to make himself popular; and the people, who had
long disliked the late King, were very willing to believe that he
deserved to be so. He was extremely fond of show and display, and
so were they. Therefore there was great rejoicing when he married
the Princess Catherine, and when they were both crowned. And the
King fought at tournaments and always came off victorious - for the
courtiers took care of that - and there was a general outcry that
he was a wonderful man. Empson, Dudley, and their supporters were
accused of a variety of crimes they had never committed, instead of
the offences of which they really had been guilty; and they were
pilloried, and set upon horses with their faces to the tails, and
knocked about and beheaded, to the satisfaction of the people, and
the enrichment of the King.

The Pope, so indefatigable in getting the world into trouble, had
mixed himself up in a war on the continent of Europe, occasioned by
the reigning Princes of little quarrelling states in Italy having
at various times married into other Royal families, and so led to
THEIR claiming a share in those petty Governments. The King, who
discovered that he was very fond of the Pope, sent a herald to the
King of France, to say that he must not make war upon that holy
personage, because he was the father of all Christians. As the
French King did not mind this relationship in the least, and also
refused to admit a claim King Henry made to certain lands in
France, war was declared between the two countries. Not to perplex
this story with an account of the tricks and designs of all the
sovereigns who were engaged in it, it is enough to say that England
made a blundering alliance with Spain, and got stupidly taken in by
that country; which made its own terms with France when it could
and left England in the lurch. SIR EDWARD HOWARD, a bold admiral,
son of the Earl of Surrey, distinguished himself by his bravery
against the French in this business; but, unfortunately, he was
more brave than wise, for, skimming into the French harbour of
Brest with only a few row-boats, he attempted (in revenge for the
defeat and death of SIR THOMAS KNYVETT, another bold English
admiral) to take some strong French ships, well defended with
batteries of cannon. The upshot was, that he was left on board of
one of them (in consequence of its shooting away from his own
boat), with not more than about a dozen men, and was thrown into
the sea and drowned: though not until he had taken from his breast
his gold chain and gold whistle, which were the signs of his
office, and had cast them into the sea to prevent their being made
a boast of by the enemy. After this defeat - which was a great
one, for Sir Edward Howard was a man of valour and fame - the King
took it into his head to invade France in person; first executing
that dangerous Earl of Suffolk whom his father had left in the
Tower, and appointing Queen Catherine to the charge of his kingdom
in his absence. He sailed to Calais, where he was joined by
MAXIMILIAN, Emperor of Germany, who pretended to be his soldier,
and who took pay in his service: with a good deal of nonsense of
that sort, flattering enough to the vanity of a vain blusterer.
The King might be successful enough in sham fights; but his idea of
real battles chiefly consisted in pitching silken tents of bright
colours that were ignominiously blown down by the wind, and in
making a vast display of gaudy flags and golden curtains. Fortune,
however, favoured him better than he deserved; for, after much
waste of time in tent pitching, flag flying, gold curtaining, and
other such masquerading, he gave the French battle at a place
called Guinegate: where they took such an unaccountable panic, and
fled with such swiftness, that it was ever afterwards called by the
English the Battle of Spurs. Instead of following up his
advantage, the King, finding that he had had enough of real
fighting, came home again.

The Scottish King, though nearly related to Henry by marriage, had
taken part against him in this war. The Earl of Surrey, as the
English general, advanced to meet him when he came out of his own
dominions and crossed the river Tweed. The two armies came up with
one another when the Scottish King had also crossed the river Till,
and was encamped upon the last of the Cheviot Hills, called the
Hill of Flodden. Along the plain below it, the English, when the
hour of battle came, advanced. The Scottish army, which had been
drawn up in five great bodies, then came steadily down in perfect
silence. So they, in their turn, advanced to meet the English
army, which came on in one long line; and they attacked it with a
body of spearmen, under LORD HOME. At first they had the best of
it; but the English recovered themselves so bravely, and fought
with such valour, that, when the Scottish King had almost made his
way up to the Royal Standard, he was slain, and the whole Scottish
power routed. Ten thousand Scottish men lay dead that day on
Flodden Field; and among them, numbers of the nobility and gentry.
For a long time afterwards, the Scottish peasantry used to believe
that their King had not been really killed in this battle, because
no Englishman had found an iron belt he wore about his body as a
penance for having been an unnatural and undutiful son. But,
whatever became of his belt, the English had his sword and dagger,
and the ring from his finger, and his body too, covered with
wounds. There is no doubt of it; for it was seen and recognised by
English gentlemen who had known the Scottish King well.

When King Henry was making ready to renew the war in France, the
French King was contemplating peace. His queen, dying at this
time, he proposed, though he was upwards of fifty years old, to
marry King Henry's sister, the Princess Mary, who, besides being
only sixteen, was betrothed to the Duke of Suffolk. As the
inclinations of young Princesses were not much considered in such
matters, the marriage was concluded, and the poor girl was escorted
to France, where she was immediately left as the French King's
bride, with only one of all her English attendants. That one was a
pretty young girl named ANNE BOLEYN, niece of the Earl of Surrey,
who had been made Duke of Norfolk, after the victory of Flodden
Field. Anne Boleyn's is a name to be remembered, as you will
presently find.

And now the French King, who was very proud of his young wife, was
preparing for many years of happiness, and she was looking forward,
I dare say, to many years of misery, when he died within three
months, and left her a young widow. The new French monarch,
FRANCIS THE FIRST, seeing how important it was to his interests
that she should take for her second husband no one but an
Englishman, advised her first lover, the Duke of Suffolk, when King
Henry sent him over to France to fetch her home, to marry her. The
Princess being herself so fond of that Duke, as to tell him that he
must either do so then, or for ever lose her, they were wedded; and
Henry afterwards forgave them. In making interest with the King,
the Duke of Suffolk had addressed his most powerful favourite and
adviser, THOMAS WOLSEY - a name very famous in history for its rise
and downfall.

Wolsey was the son of a respectable butcher at Ipswich, in Suffolk
and received so excellent an education that he became a tutor to
the family of the Marquis of Dorset, who afterwards got him
appointed one of the late King's chaplains. On the accession of
Henry the Eighth, he was promoted and taken into great favour. He
was now Archbishop of York; the Pope had made him a Cardinal
besides; and whoever wanted influence in England or favour with the
King - whether he were a foreign monarch or an English nobleman -
was obliged to make a friend of the great Cardinal Wolsey.

He was a gay man, who could dance and jest, and sing and drink; and
those were the roads to so much, or rather so little, of a heart as
King Henry had. He was wonderfully fond of pomp and glitter, and
so was the King. He knew a good deal of the Church learning of
that time; much of which consisted in finding artful excuses and
pretences for almost any wrong thing, and in arguing that black was
white, or any other colour. This kind of learning pleased the King
too. For many such reasons, the Cardinal was high in estimation
with the King; and, being a man of far greater ability, knew as
well how to manage him, as a clever keeper may know how to manage a
wolf or a tiger, or any other cruel and uncertain beast, that may
turn upon him and tear him any day. Never had there been seen in
England such state as my Lord Cardinal kept. His wealth was
enormous; equal, it was reckoned, to the riches of the Crown. His
palaces were as splendid as the King's, and his retinue was eight
hundred strong. He held his Court, dressed out from top to toe in
flaming scarlet; and his very shoes were golden, set with precious
stones. His followers rode on blood horses; while he, with a
wonderful affectation of humility in the midst of his great
splendour, ambled on a mule with a red velvet saddle and bridle and
golden stirrups.

Through the influence of this stately priest, a grand meeting was
arranged to take place between the French and English Kings in
France; but on ground belonging to England. A prodigious show of
friendship and rejoicing was to be made on the occasion; and
heralds were sent to proclaim with brazen trumpets through all the
principal cities of Europe, that, on a certain day, the Kings of
France and England, as companions and brothers in arms, each
attended by eighteen followers, would hold a tournament against all
knights who might choose to come.

CHARLES, the new Emperor of Germany (the old one being dead),
wanted to prevent too cordial an alliance between these sovereigns,
and came over to England before the King could repair to the place
of meeting; and, besides making an agreeable impression upon him,
secured Wolsey's interest by promising that his influence should
make him Pope when the next vacancy occurred. On the day when the
Emperor left England, the King and all the Court went over to
Calais, and thence to the place of meeting, between Ardres and
Guisnes, commonly called the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Here, all
manner of expense and prodigality was lavished on the decorations
of the show; many of the knights and gentlemen being so superbly
dressed that it was said they carried their whole estates upon
their shoulders.

There were sham castles, temporary chapels, fountains running wine,
great cellars full of wine free as water to all comers, silk tents,
gold lace and foil, gilt lions, and such things without end; and,
in the midst of all, the rich Cardinal out-shone and out-glittered
all the noblemen and gentlemen assembled. After a treaty made
between the two Kings with as much solemnity as if they had
intended to keep it, the lists - nine hundred feet long, and three
hundred and twenty broad - were opened for the tournament; the
Queens of France and England looking on with great array of lords
and ladies. Then, for ten days, the two sovereigns fought five
combats every day, and always beat their polite adversaries; though
they DO write that the King of England, being thrown in a wrestle
one day by the King of France, lost his kingly temper with his
brother-in-arms, and wanted to make a quarrel of it. Then, there
is a great story belonging to this Field of the Cloth of Gold,
showing how the English were distrustful of the French, and the
French of the English, until Francis rode alone one morning to
Henry's tent; and, going in before he was out of bed, told him in
joke that he was his prisoner; and how Henry jumped out of bed and
embraced Francis; and how Francis helped Henry to dress, and warmed
his linen for him; and how Henry gave Francis a splendid jewelled
collar, and how Francis gave Henry, in return, a costly bracelet.
All this and a great deal more was so written about, and sung
about, and talked about at that time (and, indeed, since that time
too), that the world has had good cause to be sick of it, for ever.

Of course, nothing came of all these fine doings but a speedy
renewal of the war between England and France, in which the two
Royal companions and brothers in arms longed very earnestly to
damage one another. But, before it broke out again, the Duke of
Buckingham was shamefully executed on Tower Hill, on the evidence
of a discharged servant - really for nothing, except the folly of
having believed in a friar of the name of HOPKINS, who had
pretended to be a prophet, and who had mumbled and jumbled out some
nonsense about the Duke's son being destined to be very great in
the land. It was believed that the unfortunate Duke had given
offence to the great Cardinal by expressing his mind freely about
the expense and absurdity of the whole business of the Field of the
Cloth of Gold. At any rate, he was beheaded, as I have said, for
nothing. And the people who saw it done were very angry, and cried
out that it was the work of 'the butcher's son!'

The new war was a short one, though the Earl of Surrey invaded
France again, and did some injury to that country. It ended in
another treaty of peace between the two kingdoms, and in the
discovery that the Emperor of Germany was not such a good friend to
England in reality, as he pretended to be. Neither did he keep his
promise to Wolsey to make him Pope, though the King urged him. Two
Popes died in pretty quick succession; but the foreign priests were
too much for the Cardinal, and kept him out of the post. So the
Cardinal and King together found out that the Emperor of Germany
was not a man to keep faith with; broke off a projected marriage
between the King's daughter MARY, Princess of Wales, and that
sovereign; and began to consider whether it might not be well to
marry the young lady, either to Francis himself, or to his eldest

There now arose at Wittemberg, in Germany, the great leader of the
mighty change in England which is called The Reformation, and which
set the people free from their slavery to the priests. This was a
learned Doctor, named MARTIN LUTHER, who knew all about them, for
he had been a priest, and even a monk, himself. The preaching and
writing of Wickliffe had set a number of men thinking on this
subject; and Luther, finding one day to his great surprise, that
there really was a book called the New Testament which the priests
did not allow to be read, and which contained truths that they
suppressed, began to be very vigorous against the whole body, from
the Pope downward. It happened, while he was yet only beginning
his vast work of awakening the nation, that an impudent fellow
named TETZEL, a friar of very bad character, came into his
neighbourhood selling what were called Indulgences, by wholesale,
to raise money for beautifying the great Cathedral of St. Peter's,
at Rome. Whoever bought an Indulgence of the Pope was supposed to
buy himself off from the punishment of Heaven for his offences.
Luther told the people that these Indulgences were worthless bits
of paper, before God, and that Tetzel and his masters were a crew
of impostors in selling them.

The King and the Cardinal were mightily indignant at this
presumption; and the King (with the help of SIR THOMAS MORE, a wise
man, whom he afterwards repaid by striking off his head) even wrote
a book about it, with which the Pope was so well pleased that he
gave the King the title of Defender of the Faith. The King and the
Cardinal also issued flaming warnings to the people not to read
Luther's books, on pain of excommunication. But they did read them
for all that; and the rumour of what was in them spread far and

When this great change was thus going on, the King began to show
himself in his truest and worst colours. Anne Boleyn, the pretty
little girl who had gone abroad to France with his sister, was by
this time grown up to be very beautiful, and was one of the ladies
in attendance on Queen Catherine. Now, Queen Catherine was no
longer young or handsome, and it is likely that she was not
particularly good-tempered; having been always rather melancholy,
and having been made more so by the deaths of four of her children
when they were very young. So, the King fell in love with the fair
Anne Boleyn, and said to himself, 'How can I be best rid of my own
troublesome wife whom I am tired of, and marry Anne?'

You recollect that Queen Catherine had been the wife of Henry's
brother. What does the King do, after thinking it over, but calls
his favourite priests about him, and says, O! his mind is in such a
dreadful state, and he is so frightfully uneasy, because he is
afraid it was not lawful for him to marry the Queen! Not one of
those priests had the courage to hint that it was rather curious he
had never thought of that before, and that his mind seemed to have
been in a tolerably jolly condition during a great many years, in
which he certainly had not fretted himself thin; but, they all
said, Ah! that was very true, and it was a serious business; and
perhaps the best way to make it right, would be for his Majesty to
be divorced! The King replied, Yes, he thought that would be the
best way, certainly; so they all went to work.

If I were to relate to you the intrigues and plots that took place
in the endeavour to get this divorce, you would think the History
of England the most tiresome book in the world. So I shall say no
more, than that after a vast deal of negotiation and evasion, the
Pope issued a commission to Cardinal Wolsey and CARDINAL CAMPEGGIO
(whom he sent over from Italy for the purpose), to try the whole
case in England. It is supposed - and I think with reason - that
Wolsey was the Queen's enemy, because she had reproved him for his
proud and gorgeous manner of life. But, he did not at first know
that the King wanted to marry Anne Boleyn; and when he did know it,
he even went down on his knees, in the endeavour to dissuade him.

The Cardinals opened their court in the Convent of the Black
Friars, near to where the bridge of that name in London now stands;
and the King and Queen, that they might be near it, took up their
lodgings at the adjoining palace of Bridewell, of which nothing now
remains but a bad prison. On the opening of the court, when the
King and Queen were called on to appear, that poor ill-used lady,
with a dignity and firmness and yet with a womanly affection worthy
to be always admired, went and kneeled at the King's feet, and said
that she had come, a stranger, to his dominions; that she had been
a good and true wife to him for twenty years; and that she could
acknowledge no power in those Cardinals to try whether she should
be considered his wife after all that time, or should be put away.
With that, she got up and left the court, and would never
afterwards come back to it.

The King pretended to be very much overcome, and said, O! my lords
and gentlemen, what a good woman she was to be sure, and how
delighted he would be to live with her unto death, but for that
terrible uneasiness in his mind which was quite wearing him away!
So, the case went on, and there was nothing but talk for two
months. Then Cardinal Campeggio, who, on behalf of the Pope,
wanted nothing so much as delay, adjourned it for two more months;
and before that time was elapsed, the Pope himself adjourned it
indefinitely, by requiring the King and Queen to come to Rome and
have it tried there. But by good luck for the King, word was
brought to him by some of his people, that they had happened to
meet at supper, THOMAS CRANMER, a learned Doctor of Cambridge, who
had proposed to urge the Pope on, by referring the case to all the
learned doctors and bishops, here and there and everywhere, and
getting their opinions that the King's marriage was unlawful. The
King, who was now in a hurry to marry Anne Boleyn, thought this
such a good idea, that he sent for Cranmer, post haste, and said to
LORD ROCHFORT, Anne Boleyn's father, 'Take this learned Doctor down
to your country-house, and there let him have a good room for a
study, and no end of books out of which to prove that I may marry
your daughter.' Lord Rochfort, not at all reluctant, made the
learned Doctor as comfortable as he could; and the learned Doctor
went to work to prove his case. All this time, the King and Anne
Boleyn were writing letters to one another almost daily, full of
impatience to have the case settled; and Anne Boleyn was showing
herself (as I think) very worthy of the fate which afterwards befel

It was bad for Cardinal Wolsey that he had left Cranmer to render
this help. It was worse for him that he had tried to dissuade the
King from marrying Anne Boleyn. Such a servant as he, to such a
master as Henry, would probably have fallen in any case; but,
between the hatred of the party of the Queen that was, and the
hatred of the party of the Queen that was to be, he fell suddenly
and heavily. Going down one day to the Court of Chancery, where he
now presided, he was waited upon by the Dukes of Norfolk and
Suffolk, who told him that they brought an order to him to resign
that office, and to withdraw quietly to a house he had at Esher, in
Surrey. The Cardinal refusing, they rode off to the King; and next
day came back with a letter from him, on reading which, the
Cardinal submitted. An inventory was made out of all the riches in
his palace at York Place (now Whitehall), and he went sorrowfully
up the river, in his barge, to Putney. An abject man he was, in
spite of his pride; for being overtaken, riding out of that place
towards Esher, by one of the King's chamberlains who brought him a
kind message and a ring, he alighted from his mule, took off his
cap, and kneeled down in the dirt. His poor Fool, whom in his
prosperous days he had always kept in his palace to entertain him,
cut a far better figure than he; for, when the Cardinal said to the
chamberlain that he had nothing to send to his lord the King as a
present, but that jester who was a most excellent one, it took six
strong yeomen to remove the faithful fool from his master.

The once proud Cardinal was soon further disgraced, and wrote the
most abject letters to his vile sovereign; who humbled him one day
and encouraged him the next, according to his humour, until he was
at last ordered to go and reside in his diocese of York. He said
he was too poor; but I don't know how he made that out, for he took
a hundred and sixty servants with him, and seventy-two cart-loads
of furniture, food, and wine. He remained in that part of the
country for the best part of a year, and showed himself so improved
by his misfortunes, and was so mild and so conciliating, that he
won all hearts. And indeed, even in his proud days, he had done
some magnificent things for learning and education. At last, he
was arrested for high treason; and, coming slowly on his journey
towards London, got as far as Leicester. Arriving at Leicester
Abbey after dark, and very ill, he said - when the monks came out
at the gate with lighted torches to receive him - that he had come
to lay his bones among them. He had indeed; for he was taken to a
bed, from which he never rose again. His last words were, 'Had I
but served God as diligently as I have served the King, He would
not have given me over, in my grey hairs. Howbeit, this is my just
reward for my pains and diligence, not regarding my service to God,
but only my duty to my prince.' The news of his death was quickly
carried to the King, who was amusing himself with archery in the
garden of the magnificent Palace at Hampton Court, which that very
Wolsey had presented to him. The greatest emotion his royal mind
displayed at the loss of a servant so faithful and so ruined, was a
particular desire to lay hold of fifteen hundred pounds which the
Cardinal was reported to have hidden somewhere.

The opinions concerning the divorce, of the learned doctors and
bishops and others, being at last collected, and being generally in
the King's favour, were forwarded to the Pope, with an entreaty
that he would now grant it. The unfortunate Pope, who was a timid
man, was half distracted between his fear of his authority being
set aside in England if he did not do as he was asked, and his
dread of offending the Emperor of Germany, who was Queen
Catherine's nephew. In this state of mind he still evaded and did
nothing. Then, THOMAS CROMWELL, who had been one of Wolsey's
faithful attendants, and had remained so even in his decline,
advised the King to take the matter into his own hands, and make
himself the head of the whole Church. This, the King by various
artful means, began to do; but he recompensed the clergy by
allowing them to burn as many people as they pleased, for holding
Luther's opinions. You must understand that Sir Thomas More, the
wise man who had helped the King with his book, had been made
Chancellor in Wolsey's place. But, as he was truly attached to the
Church as it was even in its abuses, he, in this state of things,

Being now quite resolved to get rid of Queen Catherine, and to
marry Anne Boleyn without more ado, the King made Cranmer
Archbishop of Canterbury, and directed Queen Catherine to leave the
Court. She obeyed; but replied that wherever she went, she was
Queen of England still, and would remain so, to the last. The King
then married Anne Boleyn privately; and the new Archbishop of
Canterbury, within half a year, declared his marriage with Queen
Catherine void, and crowned Anne Boleyn Queen.

She might have known that no good could ever come from such wrong,
and that the corpulent brute who had been so faithless and so cruel
to his first wife, could be more faithless and more cruel to his
second. She might have known that, even when he was in love with
her, he had been a mean and selfish coward, running away, like a
frightened cur, from her society and her house, when a dangerous
sickness broke out in it, and when she might easily have taken it
and died, as several of the household did. But, Anne Boleyn
arrived at all this knowledge too late, and bought it at a dear
price. Her bad marriage with a worse man came to its natural end.
Its natural end was not, as we shall too soon see, a natural death
for her.



THE Pope was thrown into a very angry state of mind when he heard
of the King's marriage, and fumed exceedingly. Many of the English
monks and friars, seeing that their order was in danger, did the
same; some even declaimed against the King in church before his
face, and were not to be stopped until he himself roared out
'Silence!' The King, not much the worse for this, took it pretty
quietly; and was very glad when his Queen gave birth to a daughter,
who was christened ELIZABETH, and declared Princess of Wales as her
sister Mary had already been.

One of the most atrocious features of this reign was that Henry the
Eighth was always trimming between the reformed religion and the
unreformed one; so that the more he quarrelled with the Pope, the
more of his own subjects he roasted alive for not holding the
Pope's opinions. Thus, an unfortunate student named John Frith,
and a poor simple tailor named Andrew Hewet who loved him very
much, and said that whatever John Frith believed HE believed, were
burnt in Smithfield - to show what a capital Christian the King

But, these were speedily followed by two much greater victims, Sir
Thomas More, and John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester. The latter,
who was a good and amiable old man, had committed no greater
offence than believing in Elizabeth Barton, called the Maid of Kent
- another of those ridiculous women who pretended to be inspired,
and to make all sorts of heavenly revelations, though they indeed
uttered nothing but evil nonsense. For this offence - as it was
pretended, but really for denying the King to be the supreme Head
of the Church - he got into trouble, and was put in prison; but,
even then, he might have been suffered to die naturally (short work
having been made of executing the Kentish Maid and her principal
followers), but that the Pope, to spite the King, resolved to make
him a cardinal. Upon that the King made a ferocious joke to the
effect that the Pope might send Fisher a red hat - which is the way
they make a cardinal - but he should have no head on which to wear
it; and he was tried with all unfairness and injustice, and
sentenced to death. He died like a noble and virtuous old man, and
left a worthy name behind him. The King supposed, I dare say, that
Sir Thomas More would be frightened by this example; but, as he was
not to be easily terrified, and, thoroughly believing in the Pope,
had made up his mind that the King was not the rightful Head of the
Church, he positively refused to say that he was. For this crime
he too was tried and sentenced, after having been in prison a whole
year. When he was doomed to death, and came away from his trial
with the edge of the executioner's axe turned towards him - as was
always done in those times when a state prisoner came to that
hopeless pass - he bore it quite serenely, and gave his blessing to
his son, who pressed through the crowd in Westminster Hall and
kneeled down to receive it. But, when he got to the Tower Wharf on
his way back to his prison, and his favourite daughter, MARGARET
ROPER, a very good woman, rushed through the guards again and
again, to kiss him and to weep upon his neck, he was overcome at
last. He soon recovered, and never more showed any feeling but
cheerfulness and courage. When he was going up the steps of the
scaffold to his death, he said jokingly to the Lieutenant of the
Tower, observing that they were weak and shook beneath his tread,
'I pray you, master Lieutenant, see me safe up; and, for my coming
down, I can shift for myself.' Also he said to the executioner,
after he had laid his head upon the block, 'Let me put my beard out
of the way; for that, at least, has never committed any treason.'
Then his head was struck off at a blow. These two executions were
worthy of King Henry the Eighth. Sir Thomas More was one of the
most virtuous men in his dominions, and the Bishop was one of his
oldest and truest friends. But to be a friend of that fellow was
almost as dangerous as to be his wife.

When the news of these two murders got to Rome, the Pope raged
against the murderer more than ever Pope raged since the world
began, and prepared a Bull, ordering his subjects to take arms
against him and dethrone him. The King took all possible
precautions to keep that document out of his dominions, and set to
work in return to suppress a great number of the English
monasteries and abbeys.

This destruction was begun by a body of commissioners, of whom
Cromwell (whom the King had taken into great favour) was the head;
and was carried on through some few years to its entire completion.
There is no doubt that many of these religious establishments were
religious in nothing but in name, and were crammed with lazy,
indolent, and sensual monks. There is no doubt that they imposed
upon the people in every possible way; that they had images moved
by wires, which they pretended were miraculously moved by Heaven;
that they had among them a whole tun measure full of teeth, all
purporting to have come out of the head of one saint, who must
indeed have been a very extraordinary person with that enormous
allowance of grinders; that they had bits of coal which they said
had fried Saint Lawrence, and bits of toe-nails which they said
belonged to other famous saints; penknives, and boots, and girdles,
which they said belonged to others; and that all these bits of
rubbish were called Relics, and adored by the ignorant people.
But, on the other hand, there is no doubt either, that the King's
officers and men punished the good monks with the bad; did great
injustice; demolished many beautiful things and many valuable
libraries; destroyed numbers of paintings, stained glass windows,
fine pavements, and carvings; and that the whole court were
ravenously greedy and rapacious for the division of this great
spoil among them. The King seems to have grown almost mad in the
ardour of this pursuit; for he declared Thomas a Becket a traitor,
though he had been dead so many years, and had his body dug up out
of his grave. He must have been as miraculous as the monks
pretended, if they had told the truth, for he was found with one
head on his shoulders, and they had shown another as his undoubted
and genuine head ever since his death; it had brought them vast
sums of money, too. The gold and jewels on his shrine filled two
great chests, and eight men tottered as they carried them away.
How rich the monasteries were you may infer from the fact that,
when they were all suppressed, one hundred and thirty thousand
pounds a year - in those days an immense sum - came to the Crown.

These things were not done without causing great discontent among
the people. The monks had been good landlords and hospitable
entertainers of all travellers, and had been accustomed to give
away a great deal of corn, and fruit, and meat, and other things.
In those days it was difficult to change goods into money, in
consequence of the roads being very few and very bad, and the
carts, and waggons of the worst description; and they must either
have given away some of the good things they possessed in enormous
quantities, or have suffered them to spoil and moulder. So, many
of the people missed what it was more agreeable to get idly than to
work for; and the monks who were driven out of their homes and
wandered about encouraged their discontent; and there were,
consequently, great risings in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. These
were put down by terrific executions, from which the monks
themselves did not escape, and the King went on grunting and
growling in his own fat way, like a Royal pig.

I have told all this story of the religious houses at one time, to
make it plainer, and to get back to the King's domestic affairs.

The unfortunate Queen Catherine was by this time dead; and the King
was by this time as tired of his second Queen as he had been of his
first. As he had fallen in love with Anne when she was in the
service of Catherine, so he now fell in love with another lady in
the service of Anne. See how wicked deeds are punished, and how
bitterly and self-reproachfully the Queen must now have thought of
her own rise to the throne! The new fancy was a LADY JANE SEYMOUR;
and the King no sooner set his mind on her, than he resolved to
have Anne Boleyn's head. So, he brought a number of charges
against Anne, accusing her of dreadful crimes which she had never
committed, and implicating in them her own brother and certain
gentlemen in her service: among whom one Norris, and Mark Smeaton
a musician, are best remembered. As the lords and councillors were
as afraid of the King and as subservient to him as the meanest
peasant in England was, they brought in Anne Boleyn guilty, and the
other unfortunate persons accused with her, guilty too. Those
gentlemen died like men, with the exception of Smeaton, who had
been tempted by the King into telling lies, which he called
confessions, and who had expected to be pardoned; but who, I am
very glad to say, was not. There was then only the Queen to
dispose of. She had been surrounded in the Tower with women spies;
had been monstrously persecuted and foully slandered; and had
received no justice. But her spirit rose with her afflictions;
and, after having in vain tried to soften the King by writing an
affecting letter to him which still exists, 'from her doleful
prison in the Tower,' she resigned herself to death. She said to
those about her, very cheerfully, that she had heard say the
executioner was a good one, and that she had a little neck (she
laughed and clasped it with her hands as she said that), and would
soon be out of her pain. And she WAS soon out of her pain, poor
creature, on the Green inside the Tower, and her body was flung
into an old box and put away in the ground under the chapel.

There is a story that the King sat in his palace listening very
anxiously for the sound of the cannon which was to announce this
new murder; and that, when he heard it come booming on the air, he
rose up in great spirits and ordered out his dogs to go a-hunting.
He was bad enough to do it; but whether he did it or not, it is
certain that he married Jane Seymour the very next day.

I have not much pleasure in recording that she lived just long
enough to give birth to a son who was christened EDWARD, and then
to die of a fever: for, I cannot but think that any woman who
married such a ruffian, and knew what innocent blood was on his
hands, deserved the axe that would assuredly have fallen on the
neck of Jane Seymour, if she had lived much longer.

Cranmer had done what he could to save some of the Church property
for purposes of religion and education; but, the great families had
been so hungry to get hold of it, that very little could be rescued
for such objects. Even MILES COVERDALE, who did the people the
inestimable service of translating the Bible into English (which
the unreformed religion never permitted to be done), was left in
poverty while the great families clutched the Church lands and
money. The people had been told that when the Crown came into
possession of these funds, it would not be necessary to tax them;
but they were taxed afresh directly afterwards. It was fortunate
for them, indeed, that so many nobles were so greedy for this
wealth; since, if it had remained with the Crown, there might have
been no end to tyranny for hundreds of years. One of the most
active writers on the Church's side against the King was a member
of his own family - a sort of distant cousin, REGINALD POLE by name
- who attacked him in the most violent manner (though he received a
pension from him all the time), and fought for the Church with his
pen, day and night. As he was beyond the King's reach - being in
Italy - the King politely invited him over to discuss the subject;
but he, knowing better than to come, and wisely staying where he
was, the King's rage fell upon his brother Lord Montague, the
Marquis of Exeter, and some other gentlemen: who were tried for
high treason in corresponding with him and aiding him - which they
probably did - and were all executed. The Pope made Reginald Pole
a cardinal; but, so much against his will, that it is thought he
even aspired in his own mind to the vacant throne of England, and
had hopes of marrying the Princess Mary. His being made a high
priest, however, put an end to all that. His mother, the venerable
Countess of Salisbury - who was, unfortunately for herself, within
the tyrant's reach - was the last of his relatives on whom his
wrath fell. When she was told to lay her grey head upon the block,
she answered the executioner, 'No! My head never committed
treason, and if you want it, you shall seize it.' So, she ran
round and round the scaffold with the executioner striking at her,
and her grey hair bedabbled with blood; and even when they held her
down upon the block she moved her head about to the last, resolved
to be no party to her own barbarous murder. All this the people
bore, as they had borne everything else.

Indeed they bore much more; for the slow fires of Smithfield were
continually burning, and people were constantly being roasted to
death - still to show what a good Christian the King was. He
defied the Pope and his Bull, which was now issued, and had come
into England; but he burned innumerable people whose only offence
was that they differed from the Pope's religious opinions. There
was a wretched man named LAMBERT, among others, who was tried for
this before the King, and with whom six bishops argued one after
another. When he was quite exhausted (as well he might be, after
six bishops), he threw himself on the King's mercy; but the King
blustered out that he had no mercy for heretics. So, HE too fed
the fire.

All this the people bore, and more than all this yet. The national
spirit seems to have been banished from the kingdom at this time.
The very people who were executed for treason, the very wives and
friends of the 'bluff' King, spoke of him on the scaffold as a good
prince, and a gentle prince - just as serfs in similar
circumstances have been known to do, under the Sultan and Bashaws
of the East, or under the fierce old tyrants of Russia, who poured
boiling and freezing water on them alternately, until they died.
The Parliament were as bad as the rest, and gave the King whatever


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