Ex-Classics Home Page

Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 121. THE WARS OF THE ROSES


Now from the popes to descend to other estates, it remaineth likewise somewhat to write of the emperors incident to this time, which matters and grievances of the Germans, and also of other princes, first beginning with our troubles and mutations here at home pertaining to the overthrow of this King Henry and his seat, now following to be showed. And briefly to contract long process of much tumult and business into a short narration, here is to be remembered, which partly before was signified, how, after the death of the duke of Gloucester, mischiefs came in by heaps upon the king and his realm. For after the giving away of Anjou and Maine to the Frenchmen, by the unfortunate marriage of Queen Margaret above mentioned, the said Frenchmen, perceiving now, by the death of the duke of Gloucester, the stay and pillar of this commonwealth to be decayed, and seeing, moreover, the hearts of the nobility among themselves to be divided, foreslacked no time, having such an open way into Normandy, and in short time they recovered the same, and also got Gascony, so that no more now remained to England of all the parts beyond the sea, but only Calais. Neither yet did all the calamity of the realm only rest in this; for the king now having lost his friendly uncle, as the stay and staff of his age, which had brought him up so faithfully from his youth, was now thereby the more open to his enemies, and they more imboldened to set upon him; as appeared, first by Jack Cade the Kentish captain, who, encamping first on Blackheath, afterward aspired to London, and had the spoil thereof, the king being driven into Warwickshire. After the suppressing of Cade ensued not long after the duke of York, who, being accompanied with three earls, set upon the king near to St. Alban's, where the king was taken in the field captive, and the duke of York was by parliament declared protector, which was in the year of our Lord 1453. After this followed long division and mortal war between the two houses of Lancaster and York, continuing many years. At length, about the year of our Lord 1459, the duke of York was slain in battle by the queen near to the town of Wakefield, and with him also his son, earl of Rutland. By the which queen also shortly after, in the same year, were discomfited the earl of Warwick and duke of Norfolk, to whom the keeping of the king was committed by the duke of York, and so the queen again delivered her husband.

After this victory obtained, the northern men, advanced not a little in pride and courage, began to take upon them great attempts, not only to spoil and rob churches, and religious houses, and villages, but also were fully intended, partly by themselves, partly by the inducement of their lords and captains, to sack, waste, and utterly to subvert the city of London, and to take the spoil thereof; "and no doubt," saith my history, "would have proceeded in their conceived intent, had not the opportune favour of God provided a speedy remedy." For as these mischiefs were in brewing, suddenly cometh the noble Prince Edward unto London with a mighty army, the seven and twentieth day of February, who was the son and heir to the duke of York above mentioned, accompanied with the earl of Warwick, and divers more. King Henry in the mean time, with his victory, went up to York; when Edward, being at London, caused there to be proclaimed certain articles concerning his title to the crown of England, which was the second day of March.

Whereupon, the next day following, the lords both temporal and spiritual being assembled together, the said articles were propounded, and also well approved. The fourth day of the said month of March, after a solemn general procession, (according to the blind superstition of those days,) the bishop of Exeter made a sermon at Paul's Cross, wherein he commended and proved by manifold evidences, the title of Prince Edward to be just and lawful, answering the same to all objections which might be made to the contrary.

This matter being thus discussed, Prince Edward, accompanied with the lords spiritual and temporal, and with much concourse of people, rode the same day to Westminster Hall, and there, by the full consent, as well of the lords, as also by the voice of all the commons, took his possession of the crown, and was called King Edward the Fourth.

These things thus accomplished at London, as to such a matter appertained, and preparation of money sufficiently being administered of the people and commons, with most ready and willing minds, for the necessary furniture of his wars; he, with the duke of Norfolk, and earl of Warwick, and Lord Falconbridge, in all speedy wise took his journey toward King Henry; who now being at York, and forsaken of the Londoners, had all his refuge only reposed in the northern men.

When King Edward with his army had passed over the river of Trent, and was come near to Ferry-bridge, where also the host of King Henry was not far off, upon Palm Sunday, between Ferrybridge and Tadcaster, both the armies of the southern and northern men joined together in battle. And although at the first beginning divers horsemen of King Edward's side turned their backs, and spoiled the king of carriage and victuals; yet the courageous prince, with his captains, little discouraged therewith, fiercely and manfully set on their adversaries. The which battle on both sides was so cruelly fought, that in the same conflict were slain to the number, as is reported, beside men of name, thirty thousand of the poor commons. Notwithstanding, the conquest fell on King Edward's part, so that King Henry having lost all, was forced to fly into Scotland, where also he gave up to the Scots the town of Berwick, after he had reigned eight and thirty years and a half.

The claim and title of the duke of York, and after him of Edward his son, put up to the lords and commons, whereby they challenged the crown to the house of York, is thus in the story of Scala Mundi, word for word, as here-under is contained.

The title of the house of York to the crown of England.

Edward the Third, right king of England, had issue, first, Prince Edward; second, William Hatfield; third, Lionel; fourth, John of Gaunt, &c. Prince Edward had Richard the Second, which died without issue, William Hatfield died without issue, Lionel, duke of Clarence, had issue lawfully begot, Philippa, his only daughter and heiress; who was lawfully coupled to Edmund Mortimer, earl of March, and had issue lawfully begot, Roger Mortimer, earl of March, and heir; which Roger had issue Edmund, earl of March, Roger, Anne, and Eleanor; Edmund and Eleanor died without issue, and the said Anne by lawful matrimony was coupled unto Richard, earl of Cambridge, the son of Edmund of Langley, who had issue and lawfully bare Richard Plantagenet, now duke of York; John of Gaunt gat Henry; which unrightfully treated King Richard, then being alive Edmund Mortimer, earl of March, son of the said Philippa, daughter to Lionel. To the which Richard, duke of York, and son to Anne, daughter to Roger Mortimer, earl of March,son and heir to the said Philippa, daughter and heir to the said Lionel, the third son of Edward the Third, the right and dignity of the crown appertained and belonged, before any issue of the said John of Gaunt. Notwithstanding the said title of dignity of the said Richard of York, the said Richard, desiring the wealth, rest, and prosperity of England, agreeth and consenteth that King Henry the Sixth, should be had and taken for king of England during his natural life, from this time, without hurt of his title.

"Wherefore the king understanding the said title of the said duke to be just, lawful, true, and sufficient, by the advice and assent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons in the parliament, and by the authority of the same parliament, declareth, approveth, ratifieth, confirmeth, accepteth the said title for just, good, lawful, and true, and thereto giveth his assent and agreement of his free will and liberty; and over that, by the said advice and authority declareth, calleth, stablisheth, affirmeth, and reputeth the said Richard of York, very true and rightful heir to the crown of England and France; and that all other statutes and acts made by any of the late Henries, contrary to this advice, be annulled, repelled, damned, cancelled, void, and of no force or effect. The king agreed and consented that the said duke and his heirs should after his natural life enjoy the crown, &c. Also, that all sayings and doings against the duke of York shall be high treason, and all acts of parliaments contrary to this principal act be void and of none effect."

And thus much for the reign of King Henry the Sixth, who now lacked his uncle and protector, duke of Gloucester, about him. But commonly the lack of such friends is never felt before they be missed.

In the time of this king was builded the house in London called Leadenhall, founded by one Simon Eyre, mayor once of the said city of London, A. D. 1445.

Also the standard in Cheap, builded by John Wells, A. D. 1442; the conduit in Fleet Street, by William Castfield, A. D. 1438. Item, Newgate, builded by the goods of Richard Whittington, A. D. 1422.

Moreover the said Henry the Sixth founded the college of Eton, and another house, having then the title of St. Nicholas, in Cambridge, now called the King's College.

In the reign of this Henry the Sixth, it is not to be passed over in silence which we find noted in the parliament rolls, how that Louis, archbishop of Rouen, after the death of the late bishop of Ely, had granted unto him by the pope's bulls, during his life, all the profits of the said bishopric, by the name of the administrator of the said bishopric. Louis, the aforesaid archbishop, showeth his bulls to the king, who utterly rejected his bulls. Notwithstanding, for his service done in France, the king granted to him the administration aforesaid, the which to all intents, at the petition of the said Louis, should be affirmed to be of as great force as though he were bishop, touching profits, liberties, and ability.

Neither again is here to be overpast a certain tragical act done betwixt Easter and Whitsuntide, of a false Briton, A. D. 1427, which murdered a good widow in her bed, (who had brought him up of alms, without Aldgate, in the suburbs of London,) and bare away all that she had, and afterward he took succour of holy church at St. George's in Southwark; but at the last he took the cross and forswore the king's land. And as he went his way, it happened him to come by the same place where he had done that cursed deed; and women of the same parish came out with stones and channel dung, and there made an end of him in the high street, so that he went no farther, notwithstanding the constables and other men also which had him under governance to conduct him forward; for there was a great company of them, so that they were not able to withstand them.

Illustration -- Tomb of Henry VI

KING Edward, after his conquest and victory achieved against King Henry, returned again to London, where, upon the vigil of St. Peter and Paul, being on Sunday, he was crown ed king of England, and reigned twenty-two years, albeit not without great disquietness, and much perturbation in his reign.

Queen Margaret, hearing how her husband was fled into Scotland, was also fain to fly the land, and went to her father, duke of Anjou; from whence, the next year following, she returned again to renew war against King Edward, with small succour and less luck. For being encountered by the earl of Warwick, about November, she was driven to the seas again, and by tempest of weather she was driven into Scotland.

In this year we read that King Edward, in the cause of a certain widow for rape, sat in his own person in Westminster Hall upon his own bench, discussing her cause.

The year following, King Henry, issuing out of Scotland with a sufficient power of Scots and Frenchmen, came into the north country to recover the crown, unto whom the Lord Ralph Percy, and Lord Ralph Gray, flying from King Edward, did adjoin themselves; but the Lord so disposing, King Henry with his power was repulsed in battle at Exham by the Lord Mountecute, having then the rule of the north; where the duke of Somerset, Lord Hungerford, Lord Ross, with certain other were taken. The Lord Ralph Percy was slain, the residue fled. Albeit the history of Scala Mundi referreth this battle to the year 1464, the fifteenth day of May. In the which month of May, were beheaded the duke of Somerset, Lord Hungerford, Lord Ross, Lord Philip Wentworth, Lord Thomas Hussy, Lord Thomas Findern, beside twenty-one other belonging to the retinue and household of King Henry the Sixth. Queen Margaret, finding no resting-place here in England, took her progress again from whence she came, learning in her own country to drink that drink, which she herself had brewed here in England.

And not long after, the next year, A. D. 1465, on the day of St. Peter and Paul, King Henry, being found and known in a wood by one Cantlow, as they say, was arrested by the earl of Warwick, and at last, of a king made prisoner in the Tower of London.

In this mean time, King Edward (after the motion of marriage for him being made, and first the Lady Margaret, sister to James the Fourth, king of Scots, thought upon; but that motion taking no effect, afterward the Lady Elizabeth, sister to Henry, king of Castile, being intended; but she, being under age, the earl of Warwick, turning then his legation and voyage to the French king, Louis the Eleventh, to obtain Lady Bona, daughter of the duke of Savoy, and sister to Carlot, the French queen, and obtained the same) had cast favour unto one Elizabeth Grey, widow of Sir John Grey, knight, slain before in the battle of St. Alban's, daughter to the duchess of Bedford, and Lord Rivers, and first went about to have her to his concubine. But she, as being unworthy, as she said, to be the wife of such a high personage, so thinking herself to be too good to be his concubine, in such sort won the king's heart, that incontinent, before the return of the earl of Warwick, he married her; at the which marriage were no more than only the duchess of Bedford, two gentlewomen, the priest and clerk. Upon this so hasty and unlucky marriage ensued no little trouble to the king, much bloodshed to the realm, undoing almost to all her kindred, and finally, confusion to King Edward's two sons, which both were declared afterward to be bastards, and also deprived of their lives. For the earl of Warwick, who had been the faithful friend and chief maintainer before of the king, at the hearing of this marriage, was therewith so grievously moved and chafed in his mind, that he never after sought any thing more, than how to work displeasure to the king, and to put him beside his cushion. And although for a time he dissembled his wrathful mood, till he might spy a time convenient, and a world to set forward his purpose, at last, finding occasion somewhat serving to his mind, he breaketh his heart to his two brethren, to wit, the marquis Mountacute, and the archbishop of York, conspiring with them how to bring his purpose about. Then thought he also to prove afar off the mind of the duke of Clarence, King Edward's brother, and likewise obtained him, giving also to him his daughter in marriage.

This matter being thus prepared against the king, the first flame of his conspiracy began to appear in the north country. Where the northern men, in short space gathering themselves in an open rebellion, and finding captains of their wicked purpose, came down from York toward London. Against whom was apppointed by the king, William Lord Herbert, earl of Pembroke, with the Lord Stafford, and certain other captains to encounter. The Yorkshiremen giving the overthrow first to the Lord Stafford, then to the earl of Pembroke, and his company of Welchmen at Banbury Field, at last joining together with the army of the earl of Warwick, and the duke of Clarence, in the dead of the night secretly stealing on the king's field at Wolney by Warwick, killed the watch, and took the king prisoner, who first being in the castle of Warwick, then was conveyed by night to Midleham castle, in Yorkshire, under the custody of the archbishop of York, where he, having loose keeping, and liberty to go on hunting, meeting with Sir William Standley, Sir Thomas of Borough, and other his friends, was too good for his keepers, and escaped the hands of his enemies, and so came to York, where he was well received; from thence to Lancaster, where he met with the Lord Hasting, his chamberlain, well accompanied, by whose help he came safe to London.

After this tumult, when reconciliation could not come to perfect peace and unity, although much labour was made by the nobility, the earl of Warwick raiseth up a new war in Lincolnshire, the captain whereof was Sir Robert Wells, knight, who shortly after, being taken in battle with his father, and Sir Thomas Dunocke, were beheaded, the residue casting away their coats, ran away and fled, giving the name of the field, called Losecoat Field. The earl of Warwick, after this, put out of comfort and hope to prevail at home, fled out of England, A. D. 1470, first to Calais, then to Louis the French king, accompanied with the duke of Clarence. The fame of the earl of Warwick, and of his famous acts, was at that time in great admiration above measure, and so highly favoured, that both in England and France all men were glad to behold his personage. Wherefore the coming of this earl, and of the duke of Clarence, was not a little grateful to the French king, and no less opportune to Queen Margaret, King Henry's wife, and Prince Edward, her son, who also came to the French court to meet and confer together touching their affairs, where a league between them was concluded, and moreover a marriage between Edward, prince of Wales, and Anne, the second daughter of the earl of Warwick, was wrought. Thus all things falling luckily upon the earl's part, beside the large offers and great promises made by the French king, on the best manner to set forward their purpose, the earl having also intelligence, by letters, that the hearts almost of all men went with him, and longed sore for his presence, so that there lacked now but only haste with all speed possible to return; he, with the duke of Clarence, well fortified with the French navy, set forward toward England; for so was it between them before decreed, that they two should prove the first venture, and then Queen Margaret, with Prince Edward her son, should follow after. The arrival of the earl was not so soon heard of at Dartmouth in Devonshire, but great concourse of people by thousands went to him from all quarters to receive and welcome him: who immediately made proclamation in the name of King Henry the Sixth, charging all men, able to bear armour, to prepare themselves to fight against Edward, duke of York, usurper of the crown. Here lacked no friends, strength of men, furniture, nor policy convenient for such a matter.

When King Edward (who before not passing for the matter, nor seeking how either to have stopped his landing, or else straightways to have encountered with him, before the gathering of his friends, but passing forth the time in hunting, in hawking, in all pleasure and dalliance) had knowledge what great resort of multitudes incessantly more repaired and more daily about the earl and the duke, he began now to provide for remedy, when it was too late; who, trusting too much to his friends and fortune before, did now right well perceive what a variable and inconstant thing the people is, and especially here of England, whose nature is never to be content long with the present state, but always delighting in news, seeketh new variety of changes, either envying that which standeth, or else pitying that which is fallen. Which inconstant mutability of the light people, changing with the wind, and wavering with the reed, did well appear in the course of this king's story. For he, through the favour of the people when he was down, was exalted; now, being exalted, of the same was forsaken. Whereby this is to be noted of all princes, that as there is nothing in this mutable world firm and stable; so there is no trust nor assurance to be made, but only in the favour of God, and in the promises of his word, only in Christ his Son, whose only kingdom shall never have end, nor is subject to any mutation.

These things thus passing on in England on the earl's side against King Edward, he, accompanied with the duke of Gloucester his brother, and the Lord Hastings, who had married the earl of Warwick's sister, and yet was never untrue to the king his master, and the Lord Scales, brother to the queen, sent abroad to all his trusty friends for furniture of able soldiers for defence of his person, to withstand his enemies. When little rescue and few in effect would come, the king himself, so destitute, departed to Lincolnshire, where he, perceiving his enemies daily to increase upon him, and all the countries about to be in a roar, making fires, and singing songs, crying, King Henry, King Henry, a Warwick, a Warwick, and hearing moreover his enemies the Lancasterians to be within half a days' journey of him, was advised by his friends to flee over the sea to the duke of Burgundy, which not long before had married King Edward's sister.

Here might be thought, by the common judgment and policy of man, peradventure that King Edward, as he had in his hands the life of King Henry, of his queen and prince, so if he had despatched them out of the way, when he might, he had not fallen into this misery; but because he took not the vantage, which time rather than godly reason gave him, therefore that sparing pity of his turned. now to his confusion and ruin. And certes I suppose no less, but if the same case had fallen in these our pitiless days, in which charity now waxeth utterly cold, and humanity is almost forgotten, the occasion of such a time should not be so neglected. But let us here note and learn, how godly simplicity always in the end of things gaineth more than man's policy, forasmuch as man worketh with the one, but God worketh with the other.

And so far it is off, that event and success of things be governed by man's advised policy, or unadvised affection in this world, that that is judged to be weaker which flourisheth in man, than that which is cast down in the Lord; as in the double case of both these kings may well appear. And first, let us consider the case of King Edward, who, being so beset and compassed with evils and distresses on every side, first was compelled to take the Washes between Lincolnshire and Lynn (which was no less dangerous to his life, than it was unseemly for his state). Being come to Lynn, in what peril was he there, through the doubtful mutability of the townsmen, if he had been known to his enemies? And how could he be but known, if he had tarried any space? But though men and friends forsook him, yet the mercy of God, not forsaking the life of him which showed mercy unto other, so provided, that at the same present there was an English ship, and two hulks of Holland, ready to their journey. Thus King Edward, without provision, without bag or baggage, without cloth-sack or mail, without store of money, without raiment, save only apparel for war, also without all friends, except only his brother, duke of Gloucester, the Lord Scales, and Lord Hastings, with a few other trusty friends, to the number of seven or eight hundred persons, took shipping toward Holland; at which time he was in no less jeopardy almost on the sea, than he was on the land. For certain Easterlings having many ships of war, which lay roving the same time on the sea, and had done much damage the year before, as well to the English merchants as to the French nation, spying the king's ship, with seven or eight gallant ships, made sail after the king and his company. The king's ship was good of sail, and got some ground, albeit not much, of the Easterlings, that she came, to the coast of Holland before Alquemare, and there cast anchor; for otherwise, being an ebbing water, they could not enter the haven. The Easterlings with their great ships approached as near as they could possibly come for the low water, purposing at the flood to obtain their prey, and so were like to do, if the Lord had not there also provided Monsieur de Grounture, governor for Duke Charles in Holland, at that season to be personally present in the town of Alquemare, who, hearing of the jeopardy of the king being there at anchor, prohibited the Easterlings, on pain of death, to meddle with any Englishmen, which were the duke's friends and allies.

Thus King Edward, well chastised of God for his wantonness, both by sea and land, but not utterly given over from his protection, escaping so many hard chances, was set on land with his company; who, there well refreshed and new apparelled, were conducted to Hague.

Duke Charles, at the hearing of the unprosperous case and condition of King Edward his brother-in-law, was greatly amazed and perplexed in himself, much casting and doubting what he should do. For being then in war with the French king, he could not well provoke the English nation against him, without his manifest grievance and decay; neither yet could he, without great shame and obloquy, leave the king his brother in that necessity. Notwithstanding, so he demeaned himself through fair speech, pretending to the Englishmen to join part with the house of Lancaster, being himself partly descended of the same family by his grandmother's side; that he both was his own friend openly, and the king's friend covertly, pretending that he did not, and doing that he pretended not.

When tidings was spread in England of King Edward's flying, innumerable people of all hands resorted to the earl of Warwick, to take his part against King Edward, a few only except of his constant friends, which took sanctuary. Among whom was also Elizabeth his wife, who, despairing almost of all comfort, took also sanctuary at Westminster, where she, in great penury forsaken, was delivered of a fair son called Edward, which without all pomp was baptized like another poor woman's child, the godfathers being the abbot and prior of Westminster, the godmother was Lady Scroope.

To make the story short, the earl of Warwick having now brought all things to his appetite, upon the twelfth day of October rode to the Tower, which was then delivered to him, and there took King Henry out of the ward, and placed him in the king's lodging. The five and twentieth day of the same month, the duke of Clarence, accompanied with the earls of Warwick, Shrewsbury, and the Lord Stanley, with a great company, brought him in a long gown of blue velvet through the high streets of London, first to Paul's church to offer, then to the bishop's palace of London, and there he resumed again the crown royal, A. D. 1471, which he did not long enjoy.

After this followed a parliament, in the which King Edward with all his partakers were judged traitors. Queen Margaret, with her son Prince Edward, all this while was tarrying for a fair wind, thinking long belike till she came to an evil bargain, as it proved after. For King Edward, within six months after his departure out of England unto the duke of Burgundy, whether by letters from his friends solicited, or whether by his adventurous courage incited, made instant suit to Duke Charles his brother, to rescue him with such power as he would bestow upon him; for he was fully resolved to defer the matter, and to protract the time no longer.

The duke camped in double fear in such a dangerous case, notwithstanding, overcome by nature and affinity, secretly caused to be delivered to him fifty thousand florins, and further caused four great ships to be appointed for him in a haven in Zealand, where it was free for all men to come. Also the same duke had for him hired fourteen ships of the Fastenings well appointed, taking bond of them to serve him truly till he were landed in England, and fifteen days after.

Thus King Edward, being furnished but only with two thousand men of war, with more luck than hope to speed, sped his voyage into England, and landed at Ravenspur, in the coast of Yorkshire. Although there was no way for the king with such a small company of soldiers to do any good, yet, to use policy where strength did lack, first he sent forth certain light horsemen to prove the country on every side, with persuasions, to see whether the uplandish people would be stirred to take King Edward's part. Perceiving that it would not be, king Edward flieth to his shifts, dissembling his purpose to be, not to claim the crown and kingdom, but only to claim the duchy of York, which was his own title, and caused the same to be published. This being notified to the people, that he desired no more but only his just patrimony and lineal inheritance, they began to be moved with mercy and compassion towards him, either to favour him or not to resist him, and so, journeying toward York, he came to Beverley. The Marquis Mountacute, brother to the earl of Warwick, was then at Pomfret, to whom the earl had sent straight charge, with all expedition to set upon him, or else to stop his passage; and likewise to the citizens of York, and all Yorkshire, to shut their gates and take armour against him. King Edward, being in these straits, proceeded notwithstanding near to York without resistance, where he required of the citizens to be admitted into their city. But so stood the case then, that they durst not grant unto him, but, on the contrary, sent him word to approach no nearer, as he loved his own safeguard. The desolate king was here driven to a narrow strait, who neither could retire back, for the opinion of the country and loss of his cause; neither could go farther, for the present danger of the city. Wherefore, using the same policy as before, with lovely words and gentle speech he desired the messengers to declare unto the citizens, that his coming was not to demand the realm of England, or the title of the same, but only the duchy of York, his old inheritance; and therefore determined to set forward, neither with armynor weapon. The messengers were not so soon within the gates, but he was at the gates in a manner as soon as they.

The citizens, hearing his courteous answer, and that he intended nothing to the prejudice of the king, nor of the realm, were something mitigated toward him, and began to commune with him from the walls, willing him to withdraw his power to some other place, and they should be the more ready to aid him, at least he should have no damage by them.

Notwithstanding, he again used such lowly language, and delivered so fair speech unto them, entreating them so courteously, and saluting the aldermen by their names, requiring at their hands no more but only his own town, whereof he had the name and title, that at length the citizens, after long talk and debating upon the matter, partly also enticed with fair and large promises, fell to this convention, that if he would swear to be true to King Henry, and gentle in entertaining his citizens, they would receive him into the city.

This being concluded, the next morning, at the entering of the gate, a priest was ready to say mass, in the which, after the receiving of the sacrament, the king received a solemn oath to observe the two articles before agreed. By reason of which oath, so rashly made, and as shortly broken, and not long after punished, as it may well be thought, in his posterity, he obtained the city of York. Where he, in short time forgetting his oath, to make all sure, set in garrisons of armed soldiers. Furthermore, perceiving all things to be quiet, and no stir to be made against him, he thought to neglect no opportunity of time, and so made forward toward London, leaving by the way the Marquis Mountacute, which lay then with his army at Pomfret, on the right hand, not fully four miles distant from his camp; and so returning to the high-way, he went forward without any stirring to the town of Nottingham, where came to him Sir William Parre, Sir Thomas of Borough, Sir Thomas Montgomery, and divers else of his assured friends, with their aids, which caused him by a proclamation to stand to his own title of King Edward the Fourth, saying, that they would serve no man but a king: at the fame hereof being blown abroad, as the citizens of York were not a little offended, and that worthily, so from other towns and cities lords and noblemen began to fall unto him, thinking with themselves that the Marquis Mountacute either favoured his cause, or was afraid to encounter with the man. Howsoever it was, King Edward, being now more fully furnished at all points, came to the town of Leicester, and there, hearing that the earl of Warwick, accompanied with the earl of Oxford, were together at Warwick with a great power, minding to set on the earl, he removed from thence his army, hoping to give him battle. The duke of Clarence, in the mean time, about London had levied a great host, coming toward the earl of Warwick, as he was by the earl appointed. But when the earl saw the duke to linger the time, he began to suspect (as it fell out indeed) that he was altered to his brethren's part. The king, advancing forward his host, came to Warwick, where he found all the people departed. From thence he moved toward Coventry, where the earl was; unto whom, the next day after, he boldly offered battle. But the earl, expecting the duke of Clarence's coming, kept him within the walls. All this made for the king; for he, hearing that his brother, the duke of Clarence, was not far off, coming toward him with a great army, raised his camp, and made toward him, either to treat or else to encounter with his brother. When each host was in sight of the other, Richard, duke of Gloucester, brother to them both, as arbiter between them, first rode to the one, then to the other. Whether all this was for a face of a matter made, it is uncertain. But hereby both the brethren, laying all army and weapon aside, first lovingly and familiarly communed; after that, brotherly and naturally joined together. And that fraternal amity by proclamation also was ratified, and put out of all suspicion.

Then was it agreed between the three brethren to attempt the earl of Warwick, if he likewise would be reconciled; but he, crying out shame upon the duke of Clarence, stood at utter defiance. From thence King Edward, so strongly furnished and daily increasing, taketh his way to London; where, after it was known that the duke of Clarence was come to his brethren, much fear fell upon the Londoners, casting with themselves what was best to do. The suddenness of time permitted no long consultation. There was at London the same time the archbishop of York, brother to the earl of Warwick, and the duke of Somerset, with other of King Henry's council, to whom the earl had sent in commandment a little before, knowing the weakness of the city, that they should keep the city from their enemies two or three days, and he would follow with all possible speed with a puissant army, who, according to their commandment, defended the city with all their power, but yet to little purpose. For the citizens consulting with themselves for their own most indemnity, having no walls to defend them, thought best to take that way which seemed to them most sure and safe, and therefore concluded to take part with King Edward. This was not so soon known abroad, but the commonalty ran out by heaps to meet King Edward, and to salute him as their king. Whereupon the duke of Somerset, with other of King Henry's council, hearing thereof, and wondering at the sudden change of the world, to shift for themselves, fled away and left there King Henry alone. Who, the same day being caused by the archbishop of York to ride about London like a king, was before night made captive, and reduced again to the Tower.

It was not long after these things thus done at London, but the coming of the earl of Warwick was heard of; who, thinking to prevent mischiefs with making speed, came a little too late and missed of his purpose. In the earl's army were John, duke of Exeter, Edmund, earl of Somerset, John, earl of Oxford, and Marquis Mountacute, the earl's brother. The earl had now passed a great part of his journey, when he, hearing news of the world so changed, and of the captivity of King Henry, was not a little thereat appalled in his mind; wherefore lie stayed with his army at St. Alban's, to see what way further to take. And forasmuch as there was no other remedy, but either he must yield, or one conflict must finish the matter, he removed to Barnet, ten miles from St. Alban's.

Against him set forth King Edward, well appointed with a strong army of picked and able persons, with artillery, engines, and instruments meet for the purpose; bringing with him also King Henry. On Easter-even he came to Barnet, and there he embattled himself. In the morning upon Easter-day the battle began, and fiercely continued almost till noon, with murder on each side, much doubtful, till both parts were almost weary with fighting and murdering. King Edward then desirous to see an end, off or on, with a great crew of new fresh soldiers set upon his wearied enemies. Where the earl's men, encouraged with words of their captain, stoutly fought, but they, sore wounded and wearied, could not long hold out. The earl, rushing into the midst of his enemies, ventured so far that he could not be rescued; where he was stricken down and slain, and there lay he. Marquis Mountacute, thinking to succour his brother, whom he saw to be in great jeopardy, was likewise overthrown and slain. After that Richard Nevill, earl of Warwick, and his brother were gone, the rest fled, and many were taken. The number of them which were in this field slain, are judged about ten thousand, as Polydore Virgil reciteth. Fabian numbereth of them that were slain but fifteen hundred. The duke of Somerset and earl of Oxford, thinking to fly to Scotland, returned to Jasper, earl of Pembroke, in Wales. The duke of Exeter hardly escaped to Westminster, and there took sanctuary. For the death of the earl of Warwick the king was not so glad, as he was sorry for the Marquis Mountacute, whom he took to be his friend. The corpses of these two were brought to the church of Paul's, where they lay open in two coffins two days, and then were interred.

In the narration of this history, Polydore Virgil, whom Hall followeth word for word, doth some deal differ from Robert Fabian. Neither do I doubt but both these had their authors by whom they were directed. Notwithstanding this, I marvel that Polydore, writing of so many things which he never saw, doth not vouchsafe to cite unto us those writers of whom he borrowed. And more do I marvel, or rather lament, if it be true that I have heard, that he not only nameth no author unto us, but also burned a heap of our English stories unknown, after the finishing of his, in the days of King Henry the Eighth. But now to our text again.

ll this while yet Queen Margaret, with young Prince Edward her son, was scarce come over, being long let with contrary winds; who at length in the month of April arrived at Weymouth in Dorsetshire, and hearing the sorrowful tidings of these things lately happened to her husband, and to the earl of Warwick and his brother, and of the prosperous success of King Edward, was so dismayed, disquieted, and pierced with sorrow, seeing all things, contrary to her expectation, so to frame against her, that she feared and took on with herself, lamenting her husband,, bewailing her son, cursing her coming, and crying out of Fortune, as though blind Fortune were she that governeth times and tides, (rewarding just punishments to unjust deservings of men,) and not the secret power and terrible justice of Almighty God. Such was then the impatience of that queen, being not able to bear the vehemency of her passion, (who rather should have sorrowed the dolorous death of Duke Humphrey, whom before she neglected, but now she lacked,) that her senses failed, her spirits were taken, her speech decayed, and, life almost gone, she fell to the ground, as one that would rather die than live. In this desolate case Queen Margaret, learning now to know her friends from her foes, when it was too late, fraught full of heaviness, without solace or hope of remedy, she with her son and her company departed for the next refuge, to a monastery of monks called Beauly in Hampshire, there to take sanctuary and privilege of the house.

Yet all hearts were not sound nor subdued in England, especially Edmund, duke of Somerset, with Lord John his brother, Thomas Courtney, earl of Devonshire, Jasper, earl of Pembroke, Lord Wenlock, John Longscrother, being prior of the knights of Rhodes, in St. John's. These, hearing of the queen's return, with speed resorted to her; by whom she being somewhat quickened in her spirits, and animated to war, began to take some heart, and to follow their counsel; which was, in all the hot haste, to renew war against King Edward, being now unprovided, by reason his army was now dispersed, and chiefest of his soldiers wasted. Here great hope of victory was showed, great promises made. Although the queen's mind was, being more careful for the young prince than for herself, to send him over into France, before some proof or trial made; yet following the contrary counsel of them, and partly cut off by shortness of time which required haste, she began with all expedition to gather power. Likewise Jasper, earl of Pembroke, posted into Wales to do the same.

King Edward, having intelligence of all these doings, first sendeth out certain light horsemen, to espy abroad through the west parts what ways his enemies did take. In the mean time he, using all celerity to meet them before they came to London, gathered a power, such as he could make about London, and first cometh to Abingdon, from thence to Marlebridge, hearing that the queen was at Bath, thinking to encounter with them, before they diverted into Wales to the earl of Pembroke, whither he thought (as they indeed intended) that they would take. But the queen, understanding the king to be so nigh, removeth from Bath to Bristol, sending word in the mean while to the citizens of Gloucester, that they would grant her leave safely to pass by their city. Which when it could not be obtained, with her army she departed from Bristol to Tewkesbury; where the duke of Somerset, knowing King Edward to be at hand at his very back, willed the queen there to stay, and in no wise to fly backward for certain doubts that might be cast. Although this counsel was against the consent of many other captains, who thought it best rather to draw aside, while the earl of Pembroke with his army were with them associate; yet the mind of the duke prevailed, the place was prefixed, the field pitched, the time of battle came, the king was looked for; who being within one mile of Tewkesbury, with like industry and policy, as his enemies had done, disposed his army likewise in their array. The celerity of the king, taking the time, was to him great advantage; who otherwise, if he had deferred till he had conjoined with the earl of Pembroke, had put the matter in great hazard. Such a matter it is to take a thing in time.

Of this battle Hall thus reporteth, adding more than Polydore, that the duke of Somerset, although he was strongly intrenched, yet, through the occasion or policy of the duke of Gloucester, which had the fore ward of the king's part, a little recoiling back, followed the chase, supposing that the Lord Wenlock, who had the middle ward, would have followed hard at his back. The duke of Gloucester, whether for shame rather than of policy, espying his advantage, suddenly turned face to his enemies. Whereupon the contrary part was eftsoons discomfited, and so much the more, because they were separated from their company. The duke of Somerset, not a little aggrieved at this so unfortunate a case, returneth to the middle ward, where he seeing the Lord Wenlock abiding still, revileth him, and calleth him traitor, and with his axe striketh the brains out of his head.

Thus much addeth Hall besides Polydore; but showeth not his author where he had it. Polydore, writing of this conflict, writeth no more but this, that the queen's army being overset with the number and multitude of their enemies, and she having no fresh soldiers to furnish the field, was at last overmatched, and for the most part slain or taken. In which battle were named to be slain, the earl of Devonshire, the Lord Wenlock, Lord John, duke of Somerset's brother, besides other. Among them that were taken was Queen Margaret, found in her chariot almost dead for sorrow, Prince Edward, Edmund, duke of Somerset, John, prior of St. John's, with twenty other knights; all which were beheaded within two days after, the queen only and the young prince excepted. Which Prince Edward being then brought to the king's presence, it was demanded of him how he durst be so bold to stand in battle against him. To this Edward Hall addeth more, and saith, that after the field was finished the king made proclamation, that whosoever would bring Prince Edward to him, should have annuity of a hundred pounds during his life, and the prince's life should be saved. Whereupon Sir Richard Croftes, not mistrusting the king's promise, brought forth his prisoner, &c. And so the king demanding of the prince, as is said, how he durst so presumptuously enter this realm with his banner displayed against him; he answered, saying, that he came to recover his father's kingdom and inheritance, from his grandfather and father to him descending; whereat (said Polydore) the king with his hand disdainfully thrust him from him. Other say that the king struck him on the face with his gauntlet.

At the speaking of these words were present George, duke of Clarence, Richard, duke of Gloucester, and the earl Lord William Hastings; who upon the same, uncourteously falling upon the prince, did slay him. Queen Margaret, being brought prisoner to London, was afterward ransomed of her father, duke of Anjou, for a great sum of money, which he borrowed of the French king, and for the payment thereof was fain to yield unto him the title of the kingdom of Sicily, and Naples, &c. King Edward for these prosperous wars rendered to God his hearty thanks, and caused publicly through his realm solemn processions to be kept three days together. And thus much, and too much, touching the wars of King Edward the Fourth, which was done, A. D. 1471.

The same year, and about the same time, upon the Ascension even, King Henry, being prisoner in the Tower, departed, after he had reigned in all thirty-eight years and six months. Polydore, and Hall following him, affirm that he was slain with a dagger by Richard, duke of Gloucester, the king's brother, for the more quiet and safeguard of the king his brother. In the history entitled Scala Mundi, I find these words, that King Henry being in the Tower, upon the Ascension even, there happily or quietly departing, was brought by Thames in a boat to the abbey of Chertsey, and there buried.

Polydore, after he hath described the virtues of this king, recordeth that King Henry the Seventh did afterward translate the corpse of him from Chertsey to Windsor, and addeth, moreover, that by him certain miracles were wrought. "For the which cause the said King Henry the Seventh," saith he, "laboured with Pope Julius, to have him canonized for a saint, but the death of the king was the let why that matter proceeded not." Edward Hall, writing of this matter, addeth more, declaring the cause why King Henry's sainting went not forward to be this; for that the fees of canonizing of a king were of so great a quantity at Rome, (more than of another, bishop or prelate,) that the said king thought it better to keep the money in his chests, than with the impoverishing of the realm to buy so dear and pay so much for a new holy-day of St. Henry in the calendar, &c. Which if it be true, it might be replied then to Pope Julius, that if popes be higher than kings in the earth, and especially in heaven, why then is a pope-saint so cheap in the marketplace of Rome, and a king-saint so dear? Again, if the valuation of things in all markets and burses be according to the price and dignity of the thing that is bought; what reason is it, seeing the sainting of a king beareth a bigger sale than the sainting of any pope in heaven, but that kings should be above popes also upon the earth? As I do not doubt but that King Henry was a good and a quiet prince, if he had not otherwise been abused by some; so touching the ruin of his house, I think not contrary, but it came not without the just appointment of the Lord, either for that the Henries of Lancaster's house were such enemies to God's people, and for the burning of the Lord Cobham and many other; or else for the unjust displacing of King Richard the Second; or else, thirdly, for the cruel slaughter of Humphrey, the good duke of Gloucester, his uncle, whereof sufficiently hath been said before.

During the time of these doings, being about the year of our Lord 1465, there was here in England a certain Friar Carmelite, who, about the term of Michael the archangel, preached at Paul's, in London, that our Lord Jesus Christ, being here in this present world, was in poverty, and did beg. To whose opinion and doctrine the provincial of that order seemed also to incline, defending the same both in his reading and preaching, with other doctors more and brethren of the same order; unto whom also adjoined certain of the Jacobites, and stiffly did take their parts. On the contrary side, many doctors and also lawyers, both in their public lectures and preaching, to the uttermost of their cunning did withstand their assertion, as being a thing most pestiferous in the church to be heard. Such a bitter contention was among them, that the defendant part was driven for a while to keep silence. Much like to those times I might well resemble these our days now present, with our tumultuous contention of forms and fashions of garments. But I put myself here in Pythagoras's school, and keep silence with these friars. In the story, moreover, it followeth, that this beggarly question of the Begging Friars, whether Christ did beg or no, went so far, that at length it came to the pope's ears, Paulus the Second, who was no beggar ye may be sure. After that the fame of this doctrine, mounting over the Alps, came flying to the court of Rome, which was about the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the year next following, A. D. 1465, it brought with it such an evil smell to the fine noses there, that it was no need to bid them to stir; for begging to them was worse than high heresy. Wherefore the holy father, Pope Paulus the Second, to repress the sparkles of this doctrine, which otherwise, perhaps, might have set his whole kitchen on fire, taketh the matter in hand, and eftsoons directeth down his bull into England, insinuating to the prelates here, That this heresy, which pestiferously doth affirm that Christ did openly beg, was condemned of old time by the bishop of Rome, and his councils, and that the same ought to be declared in all places for a damned doctrine, and worthy to be trodden down under all men's feet, &c. This was in the same year when Prince Edward, King Edward's son, was born in the sanctuary of Westminster, A. D. 1465.

As touching the rest of the doings and affairs of this king, (which had vanquished hitherto in nine battles, himself being present,) how afterward he, through the incitement of Charles, duke of Burgundy, his brother-in-law, ventured into France with a puissant army, and how the duke failed him in his promise; also how peace between these two kings was at length concluded in a solemn meeting of both the said kings together, (which meeting is notified in stories, by a white dove sitting the same day of meeting upon the top of King Edward's tent,) also of the marriage promised between the young Dauphin and Elizabeth King Edward's eldest daughter, but afterward broken off on the French king's part; moreover, as touching the death of the duke of Burgundy slain in war, and of his daughter Mary, niece to King Edward, spoiled of her lands and possessions wrongfully by Louis the French king, and married after to Maximilian. Furthermore, as touching the expedition of King Edward into Scotland, by reason of King James breaking promise in marrying with Cicely the second daughter of King Edward, and of driving out his brother, and how the matter was composed there, and of the recovery again of Berwick; of these (I say) and such other things more, partly because they are described sufficiently in our common English stories, partly also because they be matters not greatly pertaining to the church, I omit to speak, making of them a supersedeas. Two things I find here, among many other, specially to be remembered.

The first is concerning a godly and constant servant of Christ, named John Goose, which in the time of this king was unjustly condemned and burnt at the Tower Hill, A. D. 1473, in the month of August. Thus had England also its John Huss as well as Bohemia. Wherein, moreover, this is to be noted, that since the time of King Richard the Second, there is no reign of any king to be assigned hitherto, wherein some good man or other hath not suffered the pains of fire for the religion and true testimony of Christ Jesus. Of this said John Goose, or John Huss, this, moreover, I find in another English monument recorded, that the said John being delivered to Robert Belisdon, one of the sheriffs, to see him burnt the afternoon; the sheriff, like a charitable man, had him home to his house, and there exhorted him to deny (saith the story) his errors. But the godly man, after long exhortation heard, desired the sheriff to be content, for he was satisfied in his conscience. Notwithstanding this, he desired of the sheriff, for God's sake to give him some meat, saying that he was very sore hungered. Then the sheriff commanded him meat; whereof he took and did eat, as if he had been toward no manner of danger, and said to such as stood about him, I eat now a good and competent dinner, for I shall pass a little sharp shower ere I go to supper. And when he had dined, he gave thanks, and required that he might shortly be led to the place where he should yield up his spirit unto God.

The second thing herein to be noted, is the death of George, duke of Clarence, the king's second brother; of whom relation was made before, how he assisted King Edward his brother, against the earl of Warwick at Barnet field, and helped him to the crown; and now after all these benefits was at length thus requited, that, for what cause it is uncertain, he was apprehended and cast into the Tower, where he, being adjudged for a traitor, was privily drowned in a butt of Malmsey. What the true cause was of his death, it cannot certainly be affirmed. Divers conjectures and imaginations there be diversely put forth. Some partly imputed it to the queen's displeasure. Other suppose it came for taking part in the cause of his servant, which was accused and condemned for poisoning, sorcery, or enchantment. Another fame there is, which surmiseth the cause hereof to rise upon the vain fear of a foolish prophecy, coming no doubt, if it were true, by the crafty operation of Satan, as it doth many times else happen among infidels and Gentiles, where Christ is not known; where among high princes and in noble houses much mischief groweth, first murder and parricide, and thereby ruin of ancient families, and alteration of kingdoms. The effect of this prophecy, as the fame goeth, was this, that after King Edward should one reign whose name should begin with G. And because the name of the duke of Clarence, being George, began with a G, therefore he began to be feared, and afterward privily, as is aforesaid, was made away.

Previous Next