By which words the Duke perceiving that the Bishop bore unto him his good heart and favour, mistrusted not to enter more plain communication with him so far, that at the last the Bishop declared himself to be one of them that would gladly help that Richard, who then usurped the crown, might be deposed, if he had known how it might conveniently be brought to pass that such a person as had true title of inheritance unto the same, might be restored thereunto. Upon this the said Duke, knowing the Bishop to be a man of prudence and fidelity, opened to him all his whole heart and intent, saying, my Lord, I have devised the way of the blood of both of King Edward and of King Henry the sixth, that is left, being coupled by marriage and affinity may be restored unto the crown, being by just and true title due unto them both, (for King Richard he called not the brother of King Edward the fourth, but his enemy and mortal foe). The way that the Duke had devised was this, that they should with all speed and celerity find means to send for Henry Earl of Richmond (whom the rumour went immediately upon knowledge of King Edward's death to have been delivered out of prison with Francis Duke of Brittany) and the same Henry to help with all their power and strength, so that the said Henry would first, by his faithful oath, promise that immediately upon the obtaining the crown, he would marry and take to wife Elizabeth, the elder daughter of Edward the fourth. The Bishop of Ely right well allowed both the device and purpose of the Duke, and also the manner and way how the matter should be brought to effect, and found means that Reynold Bray, servant with Margaret mother of the said Henry then married to Thomas Stanley, came to the Duke into Wales, and the Duke's mind thoroughly perceived and known, with great speed returned to the said Margaret, advertising the same of all things which was between the Duke and him concerning as well the common weal of the realm, as also the advancement of her and her blood that had been debated.
Now it came so to pass that the Duke of Buckingham and the Lady Margaret mother to the said Henry, had been in communication of the same matter before, and that the said Lady Margaret had devised the same mean and way for the deposition of King Richard and bringing in of Henry her son, the which the Duke now broke unto the Bishop of Ely, whereupon there rested no more, forasmuch as she perceived the Duke now willing to prosecute and further the said device, but that she should find the means that this matter might be broken unto Queen Elizabeth, the wife of King Edward the fourth then being in sanctuary. And here upon which she caused one Lewes that was her physician, in his own name and as though it came of himself, to break this matter unto the Queen, saying that if she would consent and agree thereunto, a mean might be found how to restore again the blood of King Edward and King Henry the sixth unto the crown, and to be avenged of King Richard for the murder of King Edward's children, and then declared that there was beyond the sea Henry Earl of Richmond, which was of the blood of King Henry the sixth, whom if she would be content that he marry might Elizabeth her eldest daughter, there should of his side be made right many friends, and she for her part might help in like manner, whereby no doubt it should come to pass that he should possess the crown by most rightful inheritance. Which matter, when she heard it, it liked her exceedingly well, insomuch as she counselled the said physician to break the same unto his mistress the Lady Margaret and know her mind therein, promising upon her word that she would make all the friends of King Edward to take part with the said Henry if he would be sworn that when he came to the possession of the crown, he would immediately take in marriage Elizabeth her eldest daughter, or else if she lived not at that time, that then he would take Cicely her youngest daughter.
Whereupon the said Lewes returned unto the Lady Margaret his mistress declaring unto her the whole mind and intent of the Queen. So that then it was shortly agreed between these two women, that with all speed this matter should be set forward, insomuch that the Lady Margaret broke this matter unto Reynold Bray, willing him to move and set forward the same with all such as he should perceive either able to do good or willing thereunto. Then had the Queen devised that one Christopher (whom the aforesaid Lewes the physician had promoted into her service) should be sent into Brittany to Henry to give him knowledge of their minds here, and that he should prepare and appoint himself ready and to come into Wales, where he should find aid and help enough ready to receive him.
But then shortly after came unto her knowledge that the Duke of Buckingham had of himself afore intended the same matter, whereupon she thought it should be meet to send some messenger of more reputation and credit than was this Christopher, and so kept him at home, and then sent Hugh Conway with a great sum of money, willing him to declare unto Henry all things, and that he should haste him to come and to land in Wales as is aforesaid. And after him one Richard Guilford out of Kent sent one Thomas Ramney with the same message, the which two messengers came in manner both at one time into Brittany to the Earl Henry, and declared unto him all their commissions. The which message, when Henry had received and thoroughly heard, it rejoiced his heart, and he gave thanks unto God, full purposing with all convenient speed to take his journey towards England, desiring the aid and help of the Duke of Brittany, with promise of thankful recompense when God should send him to come to his right. The Duke of Brittany notwithstanding that he had not long after been required by Thomas Hutton purposely sent to him from King Richard in message with money eftsoons to imprison the said Henry Earl of Richmond and there continually to keep and hold the same from coming into England, yet with all gladness and favour inclined to the desire of Henry and aided him as he might with men, money, ships and other necessaries. But Henry while he might accordingly appoint and furnish himself, remained in Brittany sending afore the said Hugh Conway and Thomas Ramney, which two were to him very true and faithful, to bear tidings into England unto his friends of his coming, as also for seeing such dangers as might befall, and avoiding such traps and snares as by Richard the third and his complices might be set for him and for all his other company that he should bring with him.
In the meantime, the friends of Henry with all care, study, and diligence wrought all things unto their purpose belonging. And though all this were as secretly wrought and conveyed as among so great a number was possible to be, yet privy knowledge thereof came to the ears of King Richard, who although he were at the first hearing much abashed, yet thought best to dissemble the matter as though he had no knowledge thereof, while might secretly gather unto him power and strength, and by secret spial among the people get more perfect knowledge of the whole matters and chief authors and contrivers of the same. And because he knew the chief and principal of them, as unto whom his own conscience knew that he had given most just causes of enmity, he thought it necessary first of all to dispatch the same Duke out of the way. Wherefore, unto the Duke he addressed letters enforced and replenished with all humanity, friendship, familiarity and sweetness of words, willing and desiring the same to come unto him with all convenient speed. And further gave in commandment to the messenger that carried the letters that he should in his behalf make many high and gay promises unto the Duke and by all gentle means persuade the same to come unto him. But the Duke, mistrusting the fair words and promises so suddenly offered of him, of whose wily crafts and means he knew sundry examples afore practiced, desired the King his pardon, excusing himself that he was diseased and sick, and that he might be ascertained, that if it possible were for him to come, he would not absent himself from his grace. This excuse the King would not admit, but eftsoons directed unto the Duke other letters of a more rough sort, not without menacing and threatening unless he would according to his duty repair unto him at his calling, whereunto the Duke plainly made answer that he would not come to him whom he knew to be his enemy. And immediately the Duke prepared himself to make war against him, and persuaded all his complices and partakers of his intent with all possible expedition, some in one place and some in another, to stir against King Richard. And by this means and manner, at one time and hour, Thomas Marquis of Dorchester raised an army within the County of York, being himself late come forth of sanctuary, and by the means and help of Thomas Rowell, preserved and saved from peril of death. And in Devonshire, Edward Courtnay with his brother Peter, Bishop of Exeter, raised in like manner an army, and in Kent, Richard Guilford accompanied with certain other gentleman raised up the people, as is aforesaid, and all this was done in manner in one moment. But the King, who had in the meantime gathered together great power and strength, thinking it not to be best by pursuing everyone of his enemies to disparkle his company in small flocks, determined to let pass all the others, and with all his whole puissance to set upon the chief head, that is to say the Duke of Buckingham: so taking his journey from London he went towards Salisbury to the intent that he might set upon the said Duke, in case he might have perfect knowledge that the same lay in any field embattled. And now was the King within two days journey of Salisbury when the Duke attempted to meet him, which Duke being accompanied with great strength of Welshmen, whom he had enforced thereunto and coerced, more by lordly commandment than by liberal wages and hire, which thing indeed was the cause that they fell from him and forsook him. Wherefore he being suddenly forsaken of his men, was of necessity constrained to flee, in which doing, as a man cast in sudden and therefore great fear, of this his sudden change of fortune, and by reason of the same fear not knowing where to be come, nor where to hide his head, nor what in such case best to do, he secretly conveyed himself into the house of Humphrey Bannister, in whom he had conceived a sure hope and confidence to find faithful and trusty unto him, because the same had been and then was his servant, intending therefore to remain in secret until he might either raise a new army, or else by some means convey himself into Brittany to Henry Earl of Richmond. But as soon as the others, which had attempted the same enterprise against the King, acknowledge that the Duke was forsaken of his company and fled and could not be found, they being stricken with sudden fear, made every man for himself such shift as he might, and being in utter despair of their health and life, either got them to sanctuaries or desert places, or else assayed to escape oversea, and many of them indeed arrived safely in Brittany, among whom were these whose names ensue. Peter Courtney Bishop of Exeter with his brother Edward Earl of Devonshire, Thomas Marquis of Dorchester with his son Thomas being a very young child, John Bourshere, John Welsh, Edward Woodville a stout man of arms and brother to Elizabeth the Queen, Robert Willoughby, Giles Daubeney, Thomas Arundel, John Cheney with his two brethren, William Berkeley, William Brandon with Thomas his brother, Richard Edgecome, and all these for the most part knights. Also John Halliwell, Edward Pointz an excellent good captain and Christopher Urswick, but John Morton the Bishop of Ely at the same self time together with sundry of the nobles and gentlemen sailed into Flanders.
But Richard the king, who was now come to Salisbury and had gotten perfect knowledge that all these parties sought to flee the realm, with all diligence and haste that might be, sent to all the port towns there about, to make sure stay that none of them might pass untaken, and made proclamation that whosoever should bring him knowledge, where the Duke of Buckingham were to be had, should have for his reward, if he were a bondman, his freedom, and if he were free, his pardon and besides that, a thousand pounds of money.
Furthermore because he understood by Thomas Hutton newly returned out of Brittany, of whom afore is mentioned, that Francis Duke of Brittany would not only not hold Henry Earl of Richmond in prison for his sake, but also was ready to help the same Henry with men, money and ships in all that he might against him, he set divers and sundry ships in places convenient by all the sea coasts to Brittany-ward that if Henry should come that way, he might either be taken before his arrival, or else might be kept from landing in any coast of England. And furthermore in every coast and corner of the realm, laid wonderful wait and watch to take partly any other of his enemies, and especially the said Duke of Buckingham. Whereupon the said Humphrey Bannister (were it for meed or for losing his life and goods,) disclosed him unto the King's inquisitors, who immediately took him, and forthwith all brought him to Salisbury where King Richard was. The Duke being diligently examined uttered without any manner refusal or sticking, all such things as he knew, trusting that for his plain confession he should have liberty to speak with the King, which he made most instant and humble petition that he might do. But as soon as he had confessed his offence towards King Richard, he was out of hand beheaded. And this death of the Duke received at the hands of King Richard whom he had before holpen in his affairs and purposes beyond all God's forebode.
While these things were in hand in England, Henry Earl of Richmond made ready his host strength to the number of five thousand Bretons and fifteen ships, the day appointed of his departure being now come, which was the twelfth day of the month of October, in the year of our Lord God a thousand four hundred fourscore and four, and the second year of the reign of King Richard and having a fair wind, hoisted up the sails and set forward, but towards the night came such a tempest that they were dispersed from one another some into Brittany and some into Normandy. But the ship in which Henry was, with one other ship, tossed all the night with the waves of the sea and tempest, when the morning came, it waxed somewhat calm and fair weather, and they were come toward the south part of England, by a haven or port called Poole, where the said Henry saw all the shores and banks set full of harnessed men, which were soldiers appointed there to wait by King Richard, as we have said before, for the coming and landing of the Earl. While Henry there abode he gave commandment, that no man should land before the coming of the other ships. And in the meantime that he waited for them, he sent a little boat with a few in it aland to know what they were that stood on the shore, his friends or enemies. To whom those soldiers, being before taught but they should say, answered that they were the friends of Henry, and were appointed by the Duke of Buckingham there to abide his coming and to conduct him to those castles and holds, where his tents pavilions and artillery for the war lay, and where remained for him a great power that intended now with all speed to set upon King Richard while he was now fled for fear and clean without provision, and therefore besought him to come aland.
Henry suspecting this to be but fraud, after that he saw none of his ships appeared, hoisted up the sails, having a marvellous good wind, even appointed him of God to deliver him from that great jeopardy, and sailed back again into Normandy. And after his landing there, he and his company after their labours, arrested them for the space of three days, determining to go from thence afoot into Brittany, and in the meanwhile sent messengers unto Charles the French King, the son of Louis that a little before departed, beseeching him of liberty and licence to pass through Normandy into Brittany. The young King Charles, being sorry for his fortune, was not only ready and well pleased to grant his passage, but also sent him money to help him further in his journey. But Henry before that he knew the King his mind (not doubting of his great humanity and gentleness), had sent away his ships towards Brittany, and had set himself forwards in his journey, but made no great haste till the messengers returned, which great gentleness when he received from the King, rejoiced his heart and with a lusty stomach and good hope set forward into Brittany, there to take farther counsel of his affairs.
And when he was in Brittany, he received from his friends out of England knowledge that the Duke of Buckingham was beheaded, and that the Marquis of Dorchester with a great number of the noblemen of England had been there a little before to seek him, and that they were now in Vannes a city in Brittany. The which things being known to the Earl, he on the one part to greatly lament the death and evil chance of his chief and principal friend, but yet on the other part he greatly rejoiced in that he had so many and noble men to take his part in the battle. And therefore conceiving a good hope and opinion that his purpose should well frame and come to pass, determined with himself with all expedition to set forward, and thereupon went to a place in Brittany called Redon, and from thence sent the Marquis with all the other noblemen that they should come to him. Then when they heard that Henry was safe returned into Brittany rejoiced not a little, for they had thought he had landed in England, and so fallen into the hands of King Richard, and they made not a little haste till they were come unto him. The which when they met after great joy and gladness as well of their part of his, they began to talk of their prepensed matters, and now was Christmas come, on the which day they all together assembled in the church and there swore faith and truth one to another. And Henry swore first, promising that as soon as he should possess the crown of England, that he would marry Elizabeth the daughter of King Edward the fourth and afterwards they swore fealty and homage unto him, even as though he had already been King, and so from that time forth did take him, promising him that they would spend both their lives and goods with him, and that Richard should no longer reign over them. When this was done, Henry declared all these things to the Duke of Brittany, praying and desiring him now of help, and that he would aid him with a greater number of men, and also to lend him a friendly and honest sum of money, that he might now recover his right and inheritance of the crown of England, unto the which he was called and desired by all the Lords and nobility of the realm, and which (God willing) he was most assured to possess, and after his possession he would most faithfully restore the same again. The Duke promised him aid, upon the trust whereof he began to make ready his ships that they might with all expedition be ready to sail, but no time should be lost. In the which time King Richard was again returned to London, and had taken divers of them that were of this conspiracy that is to say George Brown, Roger Clifford, Thomas Salinger, knights. Also Thomas Ram, Robert Clifford and divers others whom he caused to be put to death.
After this he called a Parliament, wherein was decreed that all the lords that were fled out of the land should be reputed and taken as enemies to the realm, and all their lands and goods to be forfeit and confiscate. And not content with that prey, which was no small thing, he he called also a great tax and sum of money to be levied of the people. For the large gifts and liberality that he first used, to buy the favours and friendships of many, had now brought him in need. But nothing was more like than that Thomas Stanley should have been reputed and taken for one of those enemies, because of the working of Margaret his wife, which was mother unto Henry Earl of Richmond, the which was noted for the chief head and worker of this conspiracy. But forasmuch as it was thought that was to small purpose that women could do, Thomas being nothing faulty was delivered and commanded that he should not suffer Margaret his wife to have any servants about her, neither that she should not go abroad, but to be shut up and that from thenceforth she should send no message neither to her son nor to any of her other friends, whereby any hurt might be wrought against the King, the which commandment was accomplished. And by the authority of the same Parliament a peace was concluded with the Scots, which a little before had skirmished with the borderers. Which thing brought to pass, the King supposed all conspiracy to be clean avoided, for as much of the Duke with other of his company were put to death, and also certain other banished. Yet for all this, King Richard was daily vexed and troubled, partly mistrusting his own strength, and partly fearing the coming of Henry with his company, so that he lived but in a miserable case. And because that he would not so continue any longer, he determined with himself to put away the cause of this his fear and business, either by policy or else by strength. And after that he had thus purposed with himself, he thought nothing better than to tempt the Duke of Brittany yet once again either with money, prayer or some other special reward, because that he had in keeping the Earl Henry, and most chiefly, because he knew that it was only he that might deliver him from all his trouble by delivering or imprisoning the said Henry. Wherefore incontinently he sent unto the Duke certain ambassadors the which should promise unto him, beside other great rewards that they brought with them, to give him the yearly all the revenues of all the lands of Henry and of all the other lords there being with him, if he would after the receipt of the ambassadors put them in prison. The ambassadors, being departed and come where the Duke lay, could not have communication with him, forasmuch as by extreme sickness his wits were feeble and weak. Wherefore one Peter Landose his treasurer a man both of pregnant wit and great authority, took the matter in hand. For which cause he was afterward hated of all the lords of Brittany. With this Peter the English ambassadors had communication, and declaring to him the King his message desired him instantly, forasmuch as they knew that he might bring their purpose to pass, that he would grant unto King Richard his request, and he should have the yearly revenues of all the lands of the said lords. Peter, considering that he was greatly hated of the lords of his own nation, thought that if he might bring to pass through King Richard to have all these great possessions and the yearly revenues, he should then be able to match with them well enough and not to care a rush for them, whereupon he answered the ambassadors that he would do that King Richard did desire, if he broke not promise with him. And this did he not for any hatred that he bore unto Henry, for he hated him not, for not long before he saved his life where the Earl Henry was in great jeopardy. But such was the good fortune of England, that this crafty compact took no place, for while the letters and messengers ran between Peter and King Richard, John the Bishop of Ely being then in Flanders was certified by a priest, which came out of England whose name was Christopher Urswick, of all the whole circumstance of this device and purpose. Whereupon with all speed the said Bishop caused the said priest the same day to carry knowledge thereof into Brittany to Henry Earl of Richmond, willing him with all the other noblemen to dispatch themselves with all possible haste into France. Henry was then in Vannes, when he heard of this fraud without tarriance sent Christopher unto Charles the French King desiring license that Henry with the other noblemen might safely come into France, which thing being soon obtained, the messenger returned with speed to his Lord and Prince.
Then the Earl Henry setting all his business in as good stay and order as he might, talked little and made few a counsel thereof, and for the more expedition, he caused the Earl of Pembroke secretly to cause all the noblemen to take their horses, dissembling to ride unto the Duke of Brittany: but when they came to the uttermost parts thereof, they should forsake the way that led them toward the Duke, and to make into France with all that ever they might. Then they, doing in everything as they were bidden, lost no time but so sped them that shortly they obtained and got into the County of Anjou. Henry then within two days following, being then still at Vannes took four or five of his servants with him and feigned as though he would have ridden thereby to visit a friend of his; and forasmuch as there were many English men left there in the town, no man suspected anything, but after that he had kept the right way for the space of five miles, he forsook that and turned straight into a wood that was thereby, and took upon him his servants apparel, and put his apparel upon his servant and so took but one of them with him, on whom he waited as though he had been the servant and the other the master. And with all convenient and speedy haste so set forth upon their journey that no time was lost, and obeyed no more tarriance by the way, than only the baiting of their horses, so that shortly he recovered the coasts of Anjou, where all his other company was.
But within four days after that the Earl was thus escaped Peter received from King Richard the confirmation of the grant and promises made for the betraying of Henry and the other nobles. Wherefore the said Peter sent out after him horses and men with such expedition and speed to have taken him, that scarcely the Earl was entered France one hour but they were at his heels. The English then then being above the number of three hundred at Vannes, hearing that the Earl and all the nobles were fled so suddenly and without any of their knowledge, were astonied and in manner despaired of their lives.
But it happened contrary to their expectation for the Duke of Brittany, taking the matter so unkindly that Henry should be so used with him that for fear he should be compelled to flee his land, was not a little vexed with Peter, to whom (although that he was ignorant of the fraud and craft that had been wrought by him) yet he laid the whole fault in him, and therefore called unto him Edward Poynings and Edward Woodville, delivering unto them the foresaid money that Henry before had desired the Duke to lend him toward the charge of his journey, and commanded them to convey and conduct all the Englishman his servants unto him paying their expenses, and to deliver the said sum of money unto the Earl. When the Earl saw his men, and heard the comfortable news, he not a little rejoiced, desiring the messengers that returned to show unto the Duke, that he trusted ere long time to show himself not to be unthankful for this great kindness that he now showed unto him. And within a few days after, the Earl went unto Charles the French King, to whom after he had rendered thanks for the great benefits and kindness that he had received of him, the cause of his coming first declared, then he besought him of his help and aid, which should be an immortal benefit to him and his lords, of whom generally he was called unto the kingdom, forasmuch as they so abhorred the tyranny of King Richard. Charles promised him help and bade him to be of good cheer and to take no care, for he would gladly declare unto him his benevolence. And the same time Charles removed and took with him Henry and all the other noblemen.
While Henry remained there, John Earl of Oxford (of whom is before spoken) which was put in prison by King Edward the fourth in the Castle of Hammes with also James Blunt captain of that castle, and John Fortescue knight, porter of the town of Calais, came unto him. But James the captain, because he left his wife in the castle, did furnish the same with a good garrison of men before his departure.
Henry, when he saw the Earl, was out of measure glad that so noble a man and of great experience in battle, and so valiant and hardy a knight, whom he had thought to be most fateful and sure, for so much as he had, in the time of King Edward the fourth, continual battle with him in defending of King Henry the sixth, thought that now he was so well appointed that he could not desire to be better, and therefore communicated to him all his whole affairs, to be ordered and ruled only by him. Not long after Charles the French King removed again to Paris, whom Henry followed, and there again moved and besought the King as he had most favourably and kindly entertained him all this time, not only in words but also in deeds, that it would likewise please him yet so much further to extend his favour and benevolence unto him, that now he would aid and help them forward in his journey, that not only he, but also all the Lords and nobility of England might justly have cause to knowledge and confess that by the mean of his favour and goodness they were restored again to the possession of their inheritances, which without him they could not well bring to pass.
In the meanwhile, his fortune was such, that many English men came over daily out of England unto him, and many which were then in Paris, among whom were divers students that fell unto his part both more and less, and specially there was one, whose name was Richard Foxe a priest, being a man of a singular good wit and learning, whom Henry straightaway retained and committed all his secrets unto him and whom also afterwards he promoted to many high promotions, and at the last he made him Bishop of Winchester.
King Richard then, hearing of all this conspiracy and of the great aid that daily went over to Henry, thought yet for all this, that if he might bring to pass that Henry should not couple in marriage with the blood of King Edward, that then he should do well enough with him and keep him from the possession of the crown. Then devised he with himself all the ways and means that might be how to bring this to pass. And first he thought it to be best with fair and large promises to attempt the Queen, whose favour obtained, he doubted not but shortly to find the means to have both her daughters out of her hands into his own, and then rested nothing but if he himself might find the means afterward to marry one of the same daughters, whereby he thought he should make all sure and safe to the utter disappointing of Henry. Whereupon he sent unto the Queen, then being in the sanctuary, divers and sundry messengers that should excuse and purge him of his fact afore done towards her, setting forth the matter with pleasant words and high promises both to her and also her son Thomas Lord Marquis of Dorset, of all things that could be desired. These messengers being men of gravity, handled the Queen so craftily that anon she began to be allured and to hearken unto them favourably, so that in conclusion she promised to be obedient to the King in his requests (forgetting the injuries he had done to her before, and on the other part not remembering the promise that she made to Margaret, Henry's mother). And first she delivered both her daughters into the hands of King Richard, then after she said privily for the Lord Marquis her son being then at Paris with Henry (as you have heard) willing him to forsake Henry with whom he was, speedily to return into England, for all things was pardoned and forgiven, and she again in favour and friendship of the King, and it should be highly for his advancement and honour.
King Richard (when Queen Elizabeth was thus brought into a fool's paradise) after he had received all his brother's daughters from the sanctuary into his palace, thought their now remained nothing to be done, but only the casting away and destroying of his own wife, which thing he had wholly purposed and decreed within himself. And there was nothing that feared him so much from this most cruel and detestable murder as the losing of the good opinion that he thought the people had conceived of him, far as ye have heard before, he feigned himself to be a good man and thought the people had esteemed him even so. Notwithstanding shortly after, his foresaid ungracious purpose overcame all this honest fear. And first of all, he found himself grieved with the barrenness of his wife, that she was unfruitful and brought forth no children, complaining thereof very grievously unto the nobles of this realm, and chiefly above other unto Thomas Rotherham, then Archbishop of York (whom he had delivered a little before out of prison), the which Bishop did gather of this, that the Queen should be rid out of the way, ere it were long after (such experience had he of King Richard's complexion, who had practised many like things not long before) and at the same time also he made divers of his secret friends privy of the same his conjecture.
After this he caused a rumour to run among the common people (but he would not have the author known) that the Queen was dead, to the intent that she hearing this marvellous rumour, should take so grievous a conceit that anon after she should fall into some great disease, so that he would assay that way, in case it should chance her afterward to be sick, dead, or otherwise murdered, that then the people right imputed her death unto the thought she took, or else to sickness. But when the Queen heard of so horrible rumour of her death sprung abroad among the common people, she suspected the matter and supposed the world to be at an end with her, and incontinently, she went to the King with a lamentable countenance, and with weeping tears asked him, whether she had done anything whereby he might judge her worthy to suffer death. The King made answer with a smiling and dissimuling countenance and with flattering words, bidding her to be of good comfort and to pluck up her heart for there was no such thing toward her that he knew. But howsoever it fortuned, either by sorrow or else by poisoning, within a few days after the Queen was dead and afterward was buried in the Abbey of Westminster. This is the same Anne, one of Richard the Earl of Warwick's daughters, which once was contacted to Prince Edward, King Henry the sixth his son.
The King being thus delivered of his wife fantasied apace Lady Elizabeth his niece, desiring in any wise to marry with her, but because that all men, yea and the maiden herself, abhorred this unlawful desire, as a thing most detestable, he determined with himself to make no great haste in the matter, chiefly for that he was in a peck of troubles, fearing lest that of the noblemen some would forsake him and run unto Henry his part, the other at the least would favour the secret conspiracy made again him, so that of his end there was almost no doubt. Also the more part of the common people were in so great despair, that many of them had rather to be accounted of the number of his enemies, than to put themselves in jeopardy both of loss of body and goods in taking of his part.
And amongst those noblemen whom he feared, first was Thomas Stanley and William his brother, Gilbert Talbot, and other great number, of whose purpose though King Richard was ignorant, nevertheless he trusted not one of them, and least of all Thomas Stanley, because he had married Henry's mother, as it may well appear by this that followeth. For when the said, this would have departed from the court until his own mansion for his recreation (as he said) the truth was, because he would be in a readiness to receive Henry and aid him at his coming into the realm. But the kingdom did let him, and would not suffer him to depart, until such time as he had left in the court behind him George Strange, his son and heir, for a pledge. And while King Richard was thus wrapped in fear, and care of the tumult that was to come, lo, even then tidings came that Henry was entered into the land, and that the Castle of Hammes was prepared to receive Henry by the means of the Earl of Oxford which then was fled, with James Blunt keeper of the castle, unto Henry.
Then King Richard, thinking at the beginning to stay all this matter, sent forth with all haste the greater part that were then at Calais to recover the said castle again. Those that were in the castle, when they saw their adversaries make towards them, speedily they armed themselves to defence, and in all haste sent messengers to Henry, desiring him of aid. Henry forthwith sent the Earl of Oxford with a chosen sort of men to assist them, and at their first coming they laid siege not far from the castle. And while King Richard's men turned back having an eye towards them, Thomas Brandon, with thirty valiant men of the other side, got over a water into the castle, to strength them that were within. Then they that were within laid hard to their charge that were without; on the other side, the Earl of Oxford so valiantly assailed them of the back side that they were glad to make proclamatiunto them that were within, that if they would be content to give over the castle, they should have free liberty to depart with all that ever they had. The Earl of Oxford hearing this, which came only to save his friends from hurt, and namely James Blunt's wife, was contented with this condition and departed in safeguard with all his friends, returning back to Henry, which was in Paris. After this, King Richard was informed that the French king was weary of Henry and his company, and would do nothing for him, whereby Henry was now not able in manner to help himself, so that it was not possible that he should prevail or go forward in the enterprise that he thought to have taken in hand against King Richard. King Richard being brought thus into a fool's paradise, thought himself to be out of all fear, and that there was no cause why he should, being so sure, once to wake out of his sleep or trouble himself any further, and therefore called back his Navy of ships that then was ready upon the sea, which was fully furnished to have scoured the seas. But yet for the more surety, lest he should be suddenly oppressed, he gave commandment to the great men dwelling by the seaside (and especially the Welshmen) to watch night and day, lest his adversaries should have any opportunity to enter into the land. As the fashion is in time of war that those that dwelt by the sea side should make beacons in the highest places there about, which might be seen afar off, so that when it should chance their enemies to arrive toward the land, by and by they should fire their beacons and raise the country, to the intent that quickly from place to place they might be ascertained of all the whole matter, and also to arm themselves speedily against their enemies.
And so to come to our purpose again, King Richard through the aforesaid tidings, began to be more careless and reckless, as who say, he had no power to withstand of the destiny that hung over his head. Such is the provident justice of God, that a man doth least know, provide and beware when the vengeance of God is even at hand for his offences. And to go forth, at that time when Henry the Earl of Richmond remained in France entreating and suing for aid and help of the Frenchmen, many of the chief noblemen, which had the realm in governance (because of the young age of Charles the King), fell somewhat at dissension, of the which variance, Louis the Prince of Orleans was the chief and head, which because he had married Joan the King's sister looked to have been chief Governor of all the realm. By the which means it came to pass, that one man had the principal governance of the realm. And therefore Henry the Earl was constrained to sue unto all the nobles severally one after another desiring and praying them of aid and help in his purpose, and thus the matter was prolonged. In the meantime Thomas the Marquis of Dorset (of whom we spoke afore) was privily sent for to come home by his mother, partly mistrusting that Henry should not prevail, and partly for the great and large promises that King Richard had made to her for him before. Which letters when the said Marquis had received, he believing all things that his mother wrote unto him, and also thinking that Henry should never prevail, and that the Frenchmen did but mock and delay with him, he suddenly in the night-time conveyed himself out of Paris and with great speed made towards Flanders. The which thing when the Earl and other of the English Lords heard of, they were sore astonied and amazed, and with all speed purchased of Charles the King a licence and commandment that the Marquis might be stayed, wheresoever he were found within the Dominion of France, chiefly for that he was secret of their counsel and knew all their purpose. The commandment was quickly obtained and posts made forth every way, among whom one Humphrey Cheney playing the part of a good bloodhound so truly smelled out and followed the trace, that by and by he found out and took the Marquis, and so handled and persuaded him with gentle and good words, that shortly after he was content to return.
Then Henry, being delivered of this chance, thought it best to prolong the matter no further lest he should lose both the present opportunity and also weary his friends that looked for him in England. Wherefore he made haste and set forward with a small army obtained of the French king, of whom he also borrowed some money, and some of other his friends, for the which he left the Marquis and John Burchere behind for a pledge. And so setting forward came to Rouen, and while he tarried there and prepared shipping at the haven of Seine, tidings came to him that King Richard's wife was dead, and purposed to marry with the lady Elizabeth, King Edward's eldest daughter being his neice, and that he had married Cicely her sister to a man's son of the land far underneath her degree. At the which thing, Henry was saw amazed and troubled, thinking that by this means all his purpose was dashed, for that there was no other way for him to come to the kingdom but only by the marriage of one of King Edward's daughters. And by this means also he feared lest his friends in England would shrink from him for lack of an honest title. But after they had consulted upon the matter, they thought it best to tarry a little to prove if they might get more help and make more friends. And among all other, they thought it best to adjoin the Lord Herbert unto them, which was a man of great power in Wales, and that should be brought to pass by this means, for that the Lord Herbert had a sister marriable, whom Henry would be content to marry if he would take their part. And to bring all this matter to pass messages were sent to Henry the Earl of Northumberland, which had married the other sister, so that he should bring this matter about, but the ways were so beset that the messengers could not come to him.
And in the mean the season came very good tidings from John ap Morgan, a temporal lawyer, which signified unto them that Sir Rhys ap Thomas, a noble and valiant man, and John Savage favoured his part earnestly, and also Sir Reynold Bray had prepared a great sum of money to wage battle on his part and to help him, and therefore he would they should make haste with all that ever they could, and make toward Wales.
Then Henry speedily prepared himself because he would linger his friends no longer. And after that he had made his prayer unto Almighty God that he might have good success in his journey, only with two thousand men and a few ships in the kalends of August he sailed from the haven of Seine, and the seventh day after which was the twenty second day of August, he arrived in Wales about sunset and landed at Milford Haven, and in the part which is called the Dale, where he was very joyfully received. Here he had contrary tidings brought to that he heard in Normandy afore, that Sir Rhys ap Thomas and John Savage, with all that ever they could make, were of King Richard's part.
Notwithstanding, they had such tidings sent them from the men of Pembroke by a valiant gentleman, whose name was Arnold Butler, that it rejoiced all their hearts, which was, that if all former offences might be remitted, they would be in a readiness to stick unto their own Gaspard the Earl. Then Henry's company by this means being increased, departed from Hereford five mile toward Cardigan, and then while he refreshed his men, suddenly came rumour unto him that the Lord Herbert, which dwelled at Carmarthen, was nigh at hand with a great army of men. At the which rumour there was a great stir amongst them, every man took himself to his weapon and made themselves ready if need were to fight, and a little while they were all afraid, till such time as Henry had sent out horsemen to try the truth, which when they came again, declared that all things was quiet and that there was no such thing. But most of all Master Griffiths, a very noble man, did comfort them and gladden their hearts which although before he had joined himself to the Lord Herbert, at that very time he cleaved to Henry with such company as he had, though they were but few, and the same time came John ap Morgan unto him. Henry went still forward and tarried almost in no place, because he would make sure work and the better speed, he invaded such places afore that they were armed against him, the which places he beat down with very little strength. But afterward, having knowledge by his spies that the Lord Herbert and Sir Rhys were in a readiness to give him battle, he determined to set upon them, and either to put them to flight or else to make them swear homage and fealty unto him, and to take them with him in his host against King Richard. And because he would ascertain his friends in England how all the matter went forward with him, he sent his most trusty friends to the lady Margaret his mother, to Stanley, to Talbot, and two other of his most special friends with certain commandments. The effect of the commandments were, that he intended with the help of his friends to pass over Severn and by Shrewsbury to make toward London.
Therefore he desired them with those that were of their counsel, in time and place convenient, to meet him. So the messenger is going forth with these commissions, Henry went forward toward the Shrewsbury, and in the way met with Sir Rhys ap Thomas with a great number of men which came unto him and was of his part. For two days afore Henry promised him to be chief ruler of all Wales as soon as he came to the crown (if he would come to him) which afterward he gave to him indeed. In the meantime the messengers executing the message diligently returned back again with large rewards of them to whom they were sent, and came to Henry the same day he entered into Shrewsbury and showed how all his friends were in a readiness to do the uttermost that lay in them. This tidings put Henry in such great hope, that he went forth with a courage and came to the town of Newport and there set up his tents upon a little hill, and there lay all night. At night came to him Sir Gilbert Talbot with above two hundred men. After that they went forth to Stafford and while they were there, William Stanley came to him with a few after him, and when he had talked a little with him, returned back again to his host which he had prepared. From thence he went to Lichfield and that night lay without the town, but in the morning betime he entered into the city and was received honourably. A day or two afore, Thomas Stanley was there with five thousand men armed, which, when he knew of Henry's coming, forthwith went afore to a village called Adderstone there to tarry till Henry came. This he did to avoid suspicion, being afraid lest King Richard knowing his intent would have put his sunto death, which, as I told you before, was left with him as a pledge for his father. But King Richard in the meantime, which then was at Nottingham, hearing that Henry with a few more of banished men was entered into Wales, so lightly regarded to the matter, that he thought it was not much to be passed upon, for that he came in with so few in number, and that the Lord Herbert and Sir Rhys, which were rulers of all Wales, would either kill him, or else take him and bring him alive. But afterward, when he remembered himself that oftentimes a small matter in battle, if it be not looked unto betimes, would make at the last a great stir, he thought it best to remedy the matter betimes and commanded Henry the Earl of Northumberland with other of the nobles of the realm (whom he thought had set more by him than by their own goods) to raise up an army and to come to him with speed. Also he sent divers messengers with letters to Robert Brackenbury, keeper of the Tower of London, commanding him to come unto him in all haste, and to bring with him, as fellows in battle, Thomas Bircher, Walter Hungerford and divers other knights, whom he did not a little suspect.
In this time it was showed that Henry was come to Shrewsbury without any hurt. With the which tidings, the King began to rage and make exclamation against them, that contrary to their faiths they had utterly deceived him, and then he began to mistrust all men, and wist not whom he might trust, so that he thought it best to set forth himself against his adversaries. And forthwith he sent out spies to know which way Henry did take. They when they had done their diligence returned back again and showed him how that Henry was come to Lichfield. The which thing after he knew, because now there was a great number of soldiers come together, by and by his men set in array, he commanded them forward, and to go for and for together, and by that way which they kept they heard say, their enemies were coming. The suspect persons he put in the midst, he himself with those he trusted came behind, with wings of horsemen running on every side. And thus keeping their order, about sunset came unto Leicester.
When Henry in the mean season had removed from Lichfield unto the next village called Tamworth, in the midway he met with Walter Hungerford, Thomas Bircher and many other more, which had promised to aid him afore. And for because they perceived that they were suspected of King Richard, and lest they should be brought violently unto him, being their enemy, they forsook Robert Brackenbury their captain and in the night-time stole privily away and went to Henry. Unto whom there chanced by the way that was worthy to be marked, which was that Henry, although he was a man of noble courage and also his company did daily increase, yet for all that stood in great fear because he was uncertain of Thomas Stanley which, as I told you before, for the fear of putting his sons to death, inclined as yet unto no part, and that the matter was not so slender of King Richard, as report was made to him of his friends.
Wherefore, as all afraid without a cause, he took only twenty men with him, and started his journey as a man in despair and half musing with himself what was best to be done. And to aggravate the matter, tidings was brought him that King Richard was coming near to meet him with a great and huge host of men. And while he thus lingered for fear behind, his host came afore to the town of Tamworth, and because it was then dark night, he lost both his company and also his way, then wandering from place to place, at last came to a little village three mile from his host, being full of fear, and lest he should fall into the danger of the scoutwatch he durst not ask a question on any man, and partly for the fear that was present, and partly for that was to come delayed there that night and took this for a sign or a prognostication of some great plague that was to come, and the other part of his host was no less abashed seeing his absence for that time. When in the morning Henry came to them in the light of the day he excused the matter that he was not absent because he had lost his way, but rather of purpose, because he would commune with his privy friends which would not be seen in the day. And after that he went privily to Adderstone where Thomas Stanley and William his brother did dwell. Here Henry, Thomas, and William met and took other by the hand with loving salutations and were glad one of another. Then after they counselled together of their meeting with King Richard whom they perceived not then to be far from them. That day withdrew toward night, in the evening John Savage, Brittany Sanford, Simon Digby with many other had forsaken King Richard and came to Henry with a great power of men, which power and strength set Henry aloft again. In the mean season King Richard which purposed to go through thick and thin in this matter came to Bosworth a little beyond Leicester where the place of battle should be (as a man would say the high justice of God, which could not be avoided, hanging over his head, and called him to a place where he should suffer worthy punishment for his detestable offences) and there he set up his tents and rested that night. Afore he went to bed, he made an oration to his company with great vehemence, persuading and exhorting them manfully to fight. And afterward, as it was said, he had a horrible dream in his sleep, seeming that he saw horrible devils appear unto him and pulling and hauling of him that he could take no rest, which vision filled full of fear and also of heavy care when he waked. For by and by after, being sore grieved in his mind, he did prognosticate of this dream the evil luck and heavy chance that after came to him, and he came not with so cheerful countenance unto his company as he was wont to do. Then, lest they should think that he had this heaviness for the fear of his enemies, he stood up and rehearsed unto them all his dream. But I think that this was not a dream, but rather his conscience pricked with the sharp sting of his mischievous offences, which although they do not prick alway, yet most commonly they will bite most toward the latter day, representing unto us not only themselves, but also the terrible punishment that is ordained for the same, as the sight of the devil tearing and hauling us, so that thereby (if we have grace) we may take an occasiunto be penitent, or else for lack of the same die in desperation. Now to come to my purpose again, the next day after, King Richard having all things in readiness went forth with the army out of his tents, and began to set his men in array; first the forward set forth a marvellous length both of horsemen and also of footmen, a very terrible company to them that should see them afar off; and in the foremost part of all he ordered the bowmen as a strong fortress for them that came after, and over this John the Duke of Norfolk was head captain. After him followed the King with a mighty sort of men.
And in this while, Henry, being departed from the communication of his friends, without any tarrying pitched his tents near his enemies and lay there all night and commanded his men to be in a readiness. In the morning he sent also to Thomas Stanley, being then in the midst betwixt both hosts, that he should come near with his army. He sent word again that he should set his men in an order till he came; with the which answer, otherwise than he had thought or than the matter did require, he was not a little abashed and stood as it were in doubt. Yet for all that he tarried not, but with all speed set his men in an order, the forward was but slender, because his number was but few, the archers were set in the foremost part. Over them John the Earl of Oxford was head captain. In the right wing he set Gilbert Talbot. In the left he put John Savage. And he himself with the help of Thomas Stanley followed with one company of horsemen and a few footmen, for all his his whole company were scant five thousand besides both the Stanleys with their company, of the which William Stanley had three thousand. The King his army was double to all this. And so when both armies were all in a readiness and began for to come within the sight of other, they bragged forth themselves of both parties, looking only for the sign and token of striking together. Betwixt both hosts, there was a morass which Henry left on his right hand purposely as a defence of his men, he found the means also to have the bright sun on his back, that it might dazzle the eyes of his enemies.
But the King, when he saw Henry pass over the morass, commanded his men with all violence to set upon them. They by and by with a sudden clamour let arrows fly at them. On the other side they paid them home manfully again with the same. But when they came near together they laid on valiantly with swords. The Earl of Oxford fearing lest in the meantime King Richard's multitude should have compassed in his men, which were but a few, he commanded them by fives they should not move forward past ten foot, the which commandment known, they knit themselves together and ceased not in fighting: their adversaries being afraid suspected some craft or guile and began to break off, and many of the same part were not much grieved therewith, because they were as glad the King should be lost as saved, and therefore they fought with less courage. Then the Earl of Oxford, with his men thick together, struck on more freshlier. The other of the other part did likewise the same. And while the first wards of the battle had fought so manfully, Richard perceived by his spies Henry afar off with a few company of armed men. Afterward coming near, Richard knew him by signs and tokens, then being inflamed with an anger, furiously struck the horse with the spurs and ran out of the one side of the host, and like a lion ran at him. On the other side Henry, perceiving him coming, was very desirous to meet him. Richard at the first setting forth killed divers that stood before him, and again he threw down Henry's banner and William Brandon the bearer also, he ran at Cheney, a man of great might, which came for to meet him, and with great violence overthrew him to the ground, and thus he made himself a way through them for to come to Henry. But Henry kept better tack with him than his men would have thought, which then was almost in despair of the victory. And even at that time lo there came William Stanley to aid them with three thousand men, and even at the very same time the residue of King Richard's men were put to flight. Then Richard fighting alone in the midst of all his enemies was overthrown and slain. In the meantime the Earl of Oxford in the forward, after he had fought manfully a little while, put the residue to flight of whom he slew a great number. But a great number more, which followed Richard more for fear than for love, held their hands from fighting and went away without hurt for that they looked not for his safeguard, but rather for his destruction. There were slain in this conflict not many more than one thousand of the which these were noblemen: John Duke of Norfolk, Walter Ferris, Robert Brackenbury, Richard Radcliffe and many other more. And within two days after, William Catesby lawyer with certain other of his fellows was put to death at Leicester, and among those that ran away was Francis Lovell, Humphrey Stafford, with Thomas his brother, and many other more that ran into sanctuary at Colchester in Essex. There was of the captives a great number, because that when King Richard was slain, every man cast down his weapon and yielded himself to Henry, of the which the more part would have done so at the beginning, if it had not been for fear of King Richard's spies, which then wandered in every place. And amongst these, the nobles were the Earl of Northumberland, the Earl of Surrey, of the which the Earl of Surrey was put in prison, the other as a friend was received into favour. Henry at that field lost not above a hundred men amongst whom the chief was William Brandon which bore Henry's banner. This battle was fought on the twenty seventh day of the month of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand four hundred and eighty-six. The conflict endured more than two hours. Richard might (as the fame went) have saved himself if he would have fled away, for those that were about him, when they saw his men from the beginning fight but faintly and that some were run away to the other part, suspected treason and willed him to fly, and when the matter was manifest that all hope of victory was passed, they brought him a swift horse. He putting aside all hope and trust that was in flying, made (as it was said) this answer, that this day he would have either an end of battle or else of his life, such was his great audacity and manfulness which because he did see certainly that in this day he should obtain the kingdom quietly all days of his life or else lose both forever, he entered in amongst them, as it was declared before, intending utterly either to lose all or else to win all. And so the wretch died, having the end that all such were wont to have, which in the stead of law, honesty and all godliness follow their own appetite, villainy and all wickedness. And plainly this is an example which cannot be expressed, to fear them which will not suffer one hour to be otherwise spent than in cruelty, mischief and all devilish fashions. Henry when he had thus obtained the victory he fell down on his knees and, with many prayers and thanks, referred all to the goodness of God. Then after he stood up being wonderfully replenished with joy, and went up upon a little hill and there gave great commendations to his soldiers, commanding them that were hurt to be healed and the dead to be buried; afterward he gave mortal thanks to his noble captains promising them that he would never forget their benefit. The multitude in the meantime with one voice and one mind proclaimed him King. When Thomas Stanley saw that, he took King Richard his crown which was found amongst the spoil, and by and by put it upon Henry's head as though he had been then created King by the election of the people as it was wont to be in the old time, and this was the first token of his felicity. After this King Henry with his company and carriage went to Leicester toward night to bed, where, after he had refreshed his company well for the space of two days, that they might the better go toward London, King Richard's body was brought naked over a horse back, the head and the arms hanging on the one side and the legs on the other, and carried into the Greyfriars of Leicester, and surely it was but a miserable sight look upon, yet it was good enough considering his wretched living, and there without any solemnity was buried two days after. He reigned two years two months and one day. He was but of a small stature having but a deformed body, the one shoulder was higher than the other, he had a short face and a cruel look which did betoken malice, guile and deceit. And while he did muse upon any thing standing, he would bite his underlip continually, whereby a man might perceive his cruel nature within his wretched body strived and chafed always within himself, also the dagger which he bore about him, he would always be chopping of it in and out. He had a sharp and pregnant wit, subtle, and to dissimule and feign very meet. He had also a proud and cruel mind, which never went from him to the hour of his death, which he had rather suffer by the cruel sword, though all his company did forsake him, than by shameful flight he would favour his life, which after might fortune by sickness or other condign punishment shortly to perish.
The End of The History of King Richard III.