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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 125. THE WARS OF THE ROSES (CONCLUDED)


But leaving here Pope Sixtus, let us now proceed, as we before promised, to enter the story of Maximilian, keeping, notwithstanding, the order of our kings here in England. For a little before the reign of Maximilian, King Edward the Fourth ceased his life, A. D. 1483, after he had reigned twenty and two years. In the time of which King Edward, this also is not to be forgotten, that one Burdet, a merchant, dwelling in Cheapside, at the sign of the Crown, which is now the sign of the Flower-de-luce, merrily speaking to his son, said, that he would make him inheritor of the crown, meaning, indeed, his own house. For the which words, King Edward causing them to be misconstrued, and interpreted as though he had meant the crown of the realm, within less space than four hours he was apprehended, judged, drawn, and quartered in Cheapside.

HIS King Edward left behind him, by his wife Elizabeth, two sons, Edward and Richard, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Cicely. Which two sons, Edward and Richard, forasmuch as they were under age, and not ripe to govern, a consultation was called among the peers, to debate whether the aforesaid young prince and king should be under the government of his mother; or else that Richard duke of Gloucester, brother to King Edward the Fourth, and uncle to the child, should be governor of the king, and protector of the realm. There hath been and is an old adage, the words whereof, rather than the true meaning, wrested out of Solomon: Woe to the kingdom, the king whereof is a child, &c. But if I may find leave herein to thrust in a gloss, I would add this, and say, Woe to that child, which is a king in a kingdom unruly and ambitious. There was the same season, among other noble peers of the realm, the duke of Buckingham, a man of great authority, who had married King Edward's wife's sister. Because the duke, being so near allied to the king, had been unkindly (as he thought) of the king treated, having by him no advancement nor any great friendship showed, according to his expectation, he took part thereof with Richard duke of Gloucester, both against the queen and her children, to make the aforesaid duke the chief governor and protector. The which thing being brought to pass by the aid, assistance, and working of the duke of Buckingham, the queen took sanctuary with her younger son; the elder brother, which was the king, remained in the custody of the duke of Gloucester his uncle. Who, being now in a good towardness to obtain that which he long looked for, sought all the means, and soon compassed the matter, by false colour of dissembled words, by perjury, and labour of friends, namely, the duke of Buckingham, and the cardinal archbishop of Canterbury, that the other brother also should be committed to his credit. Thus the ambitious protector and unnatural uncle, having the possession of his two nephews and innocent babes, thought himself almost up the wheel where he would climb; although he could not walk in such mists and clouds, but his devised purposes began to be espied; which caused him more covertly to go about to remove from him all suspicion, and to blind the people's eyes. But before he could accomplish his execrable enterprise, some there were, whom he thought first must be rid out of the way, as, namely, the Lord Hastings, and the Lord Stanley; who, as they were sitting together in council within the Tower, the protector (the matter being so appointed before) suddenly rushed in among them, and after a few words there communed, he suddenly hasted out again; his mind belike being full of mischief and fury, was not quiet. Who, within the space of an hour, returned again into the chamber with a stern countenance and a frowning look, and so there set him down in his place. When the lords were in great marvel and muse at the meaning hereof, then he, out of a cankered heart, thus began to bray, asking them, What are they worthy to have, which go about to imagine the destruction of him being so near to the king's blood, and protector of the realm? At the which question as the other lords sat musing, the Lord Hastings, because he had been more familiar with him, thus answered, that they were worthy of punishment, whatsoever they were. Which, when the other lords also had affirmed, that is (quoth the protector) yonder sorceress, my brother's wife, meaning the queen and other with her; adding, moreover, and saying, that sorceress and other of her counsel, Shore's wife with her affinity, have by their witchcraft thus wasted my body, and therewith showed forth his left arm a dry, withered thing, as it was never otherwise, as was well known.

This Shore's wife had been before a concubine to King Edward, and afterward was kept by the same Lord Hastings. Moreover, here is to be noted, that by the consent of the said Lord Hastings, the cruel protector had devised about the same time, the kindred of the queen innocently to be beheaded at Pomfret, of mere despite and hatred. Wherefore this punishment not undeservedly, by the just hand of God, fell upon the Lord Hastings.

It followeth then more in the story, that when the Lord Hastings had heard of these false accusations of the tyrant, which he knew to be untrue; "Certainly, my lord," said he, "if they have so done, they be worthy of heinous punishment." "Why," quoth the protector, "Dost thou serve me with if and with and? I tell thee, they have so done, and that I will make good on thy body, traitor:" and therewith giving a great rap on the board, for a token or watchword, one cried Treason without, and forthwith the chamber was full of harnessed men. The protector then approaching to the Lord Hastings, arrested him as a traitor. Another let fly at the Lord Stanley; who to avoid the blow, shrunk under the table, or else his head had been cleft asunder: notwithstanding he received such a wound, that the blood ran about his ears. There were in that council the same time the archbishop of York, and Doctor Morton, bishop of Ely, by whose procurement afterward King Henry the Seventh was sent for into England, and he made archbishop after that of Canterbury: these with the Lord Stanley diversely were bestowed in divers chambers. The Lord Hastings was commanded to speed and shrive him apace, for before dinner the protector sware by St. Paul that he should die; and so incontinently, without further judgment, his head was stricken off, by whose counsel the queen's kindred were at the same time and day beheaded at Pomfret.

After this tyrannous murder accomplished, the mischievous protector aspiring still to the crown, to set his devices forward, first through gifts and fair promises did suborn Doctor Shaw, a famous preacher then in London, at Paul's Cross to insinuate to the people, that neither King Edward with his sons, nor the duke of Clarence, were lawfully begotten, nor the very children of the duke of York, but begotten unlawfully by other persons in adultery on the duchess their mother, and that he alone was the true and only lawful heir of the duke of York. Moreover, to declare and to signify to the audience, that King Edward was never lawfully married to the queen, but his wife before was Dame Elizabeth Lucy, and so the two children of King Edward to be base and bastards, and therefore the title of the crown most rightly to pertain to the lord protector. Thus this false flatterer, and loud, lying preacher, to serve the protector's humour, shamed not most impudently to abuse that holy place, that reverend auditory, the sacred word of God, taking for his theme, Adulteræ plantationes non dabunt radices altos, &c., which he most impiously did apply against the innocent children and right heirs of the realm. Whereupon such grudge and disdain of the people with worldly wonder followed him, that, for shame of the people crying out of him, in few days after he pined away.

When this sermon would take no effect with the people, the protector, unmercifully drowned in ambition, rested not thus, but within few days after excited the duke of Buckingham, first to break the matter in covert talk to the mayor and certain of the heads of the city picked out for the purpose; that done, to come to the Guildhall, to move the people by all flattering and lying persuasions to the same, which shameless Shaw before had preached at Paul's Cross; which the duke with all diligence and helps of eloquence, being a man both learned and well spoken, endeavoured to accomplish, making to the people a long and artificial oration, supposing no less but that the people, allured by his crafty insinuations, would cry, King Richard, King Richard. But there was no King Richard in their mouths, less in their hearts. Whereupon the duke, looking to the lord mayor, and asking what this silence meant, contrary to the promise of the one, and the expectation of the other; it was then answered of the mayor, that the people peradventure well understood him not; wherefore the duke, reiterating his narration in other words, declared again that he had done before. Likewise the third time he repeated his oration again and again. Then the commons which before stood mute, being now in amaze, seeing this importunity, began to mutter softly among themselves, but yet no King Richard could sound in their lips, save only that in the nether end of the hall certain of the duke's servants, with one Nashfield, and other belonging to the protector, thrusting into the hall among the press, began suddenly at men's backs to cry, King Richard, King Richard, throwing up their caps; whereat the citizens, turning back their heads, marvelled not a little, but said nothing.

The duke and the lord mayor with that side, taking this for sufficient testimony, incontinent came blowing for haste to the protector, then lying at Baynard's Castle; where the matter, being made before, was now so contrived, that forsooth humble petition was made in the name of the whole commons, and that with three sundry suits, to the humble and simple protector, that he, although it was utterly against his will to take it, yet would of his humility stoop so low, as to receive the heavy kingdom of England upon his shoulders. At this their tender request and suit of the lords and commons made, (ye must know how,) the mild duke, seeing no other remedy, was contented at length to yield, although sore against his will, (ye must so imagine,) and to submit himself so low, as of a protector to be made king; not much herein unlike to our prellates in the popish church, who when they have before well compounded for the pope's bulls, yet must they for manners' sake make courtesy, and thrice deny that for which they so long before have gaped, and so sweetly have paid for.

Illustration -- Portrait of Richard III

And thus Richard duke of Gloucester took upon him to be made and proclaimed king of England, the year aforesaid, A. D. 1483, in the month of June. Who then coming to the Tower by water, first made his son, a child of ten years old, prince of Wales, and John Howard (a man of great industry and service) he advanced to be duke of Norfolk, and Sir Thomas Howard his son he ordained earl of Surrey. Also William Lord Barkley was appointed earl of Nottingham. Francis Lord Lovell was made Viscount Lovell. Lord Stanley, for fear of his son, was delivered out of the Tower, and made steward of the king's household. Likewise the archbishop of York was set free; but Morton, bishop of Ely, was committed to the duke of Buckingham, by whom was wrought the first device to bring in Henry earl of Richmond into England, and to conjoin marriage between Elizabeth, King Edward's daughter, and him, whereby the two houses of York and Lancaster were united together.

After the kingdom of England was thus allotted to King Richard the usurper, as in manner above remembered, he tarried not long for his coronation, which was solemnized the month next ensuing, the sixth day of July.

The triumph and solemnity of his usurped coronation being finished, and all things to the same appertaining, this unquiet tyrant yet could not think himself safe, so long as young Edward, the right king, and his brother were alive; wherefore the next enterprise which he did set upon was this, how to rid those innocent babes out of the way, that he might reign king alone.

In the mean time, while all this ruffling was in hand, what dread and sorrow the tender hearts of these fatherless and friendless children were in, what little joy of themselves, what small joy of life they had, it is not so hard as dolorous for tender hearts to understand. As the younger brother lingered in thought and heaviness; so the prince, which was eleven years old, was so out of heart and so fraught with fear, that he never tied his points, nor joyed good day, till the traitorous impiety of their cruel uncle had delivered them of their wretchedness, which was not long in despatching. For after King Richard their uncle had first attempted to compass his devilish device by Robert Brakenbury, constable of the Tower, and could not win him to such a cruel fact, (to die therefore,) then he got one James Tyrill, joining with him John Dighton and Miles Forrest, to perpetrate this heinous murder. Which Dighton and Forrest, about midnight entering into their chamber, so bewrapped and entangled them amongst the clothes, keeping down the featherbed and pillows hard unto their mouths, that within a while they smothered and stifled them piteously in their bed.

And thus ended these two young princes their lives, through the wretched cruelty of these forenamed tormentors, who, for their detestable and bloody murder committed, escaped not long unpunished by the just hand of God. For first, Miles Forrest, at St. Martin's le Grand, by piecemeal miserably rotted away. John Dighton lived at Calais long after, so disdained and hated, that he was pointed at of all men, and there died in great misery. Sir James Tyrill was beheaded at Tower-hill for treason. Also King Richard himself, within a year and a half after, was slain in the field, hacked and hewed of his enemies' hands, torn and tugged like a cur dog.

Furthermore, the said justice of God's hand let not the duke of Buckingham escape free, which was a great maintainer and setter up of this butcherly usurper; for less than within a year after, so God wrought, that he was himself beheaded for treason by the said king, whom he so unjustly before had advanced and set up.

In the same catalogue and order of these wicked doers before recited, we have also to comprehend two other, as well worthy of memorial as the best, or rather as the worst. The name of the one was Doctor Shaw above rehearsed; the other Doctor Pinkie, provincial of the Austin Friars; both famous preachers, and both doctors in divinity, both of more learning than virtue, (saith the story,) of more fame than learning, and yet of more learning than truth. Shaw made a sermon in praise of the protector, before his coronation. Pinkie preached after his coronation. Both were so full of tedious flattery, that no good ears could abide them. Pinkie in his sermon so lost his voice, that he was fain to leave off and came down in the midst. Doctor Shaw by his sermon lost his honesty, and soon after his life, for very shame of the world, so that he never durst after that show his face again. But as for the friar, he was so far past shame, that the loss thereof did little touch him. Mention was made a little before of Doctor Morton, bishop of Ely, by whose means the device was first broached for the conjoining of the two houses of York and Lancaster together. This device was first broken to the duke of Buckingham, which soon after cost him his life. But that bishop, more crafty to save himself, incontinent fled into Brittany. Notwithstanding, the device, once being broached, was so plausible, and took such effect, that message was sent over the sea to Henry, earl of Richmond, by his mother and by the queen, mother to the Lady Elizabeth, that if he would make his return, and promise to marry with the said Lady Elizabeth, King Edward's daughter, he should be received. To make a longer discourse of this matter, which is sufficiently set forth by Sir Thomas More so ornately, it needeth not.

Briefly, to contract that in a small compass of words, which was not so small a thing in doing, after that the Earl Henry, with such other banished men as fled out of England at the taking of the duke of Buckingham, had perfect intelligence by his mother and by the queen, and other friends more out of England, how the case of the realm stood, and how it was here purposed by his friends, that is, that he should, with all convenient speed, haste his return over into England, promising to marry with the Lady Elizabeth; he, with all diligence, as time and preparation would serve, advanced forward his journey, being well helped and furnished by Francis,duke of Brittany, and so shipped his men. Albeit his first voyage sped not; for that, the winds turning contrary, by force of weather his ships were dispersed, and he repulsed back into France again. His second voyage was more prosperous; who, taking the seas at Harfleur, in the month of August, A. D. 1485, accompanied only with two thousand men, and a small number of ships, arrived at Milford-haven in Wales, and first came to Dale, then to Haverfordwest, where he was joyfully received, and also, by the coming in of Arnold Butler and the Pembroke men, was in power increased. From thence he, removing by Cardigan to Shrewsbury, and then to Newport, and so to Stafford, from thence to Litchfield, his army still more and more augmented. Like as a great flood, by coming in of many small rivers, gathereth more abundance of water; so to this earl divers noble captains and men of power adjoined themselves, as Richard Griffith, John Morgan, Rice ap Thomas, then Sir George Talbot, with the young earl of Shrewsbury, his ward, Sir William Stanley, Sir Thomas Burchier, and Sir Walter Hungerford, knights. At the last, the said earl, hearing of the king's coming, conducted his whole army to Tamworth.

King Richard, first hearing of the arrival of the Earl Henry in the parts of Wales after such a slender sort, did give little or no regard unto it. But after understanding that he was come to Litchfield without resistance or encumbrance, he was sore moved, and exceedingly took on, cursing and crying out against them which had so deceived him, and in all post speed sent for John, duke of Norfolk, Henry, earl of Northumberland, Thomas, earl of Surrey, with other his friends of special trust. Robert Brakenbury also, lieutenant of the Tower, was sent for, with Sir Thomas Burchier, and Sir Walter Hungerford, with certain other knights and esquires, of whom he partly misdoubted, or had some suspicious jealousy. Thus King Richard, after most forcible manner well fortified and accompanied, leaving nothing undone that diligence could require, set forward toward his enemies. The earl by this time was come to Tamworth, to whom secretly in the evening resorted Sir John Savage, Sir Bryan Sanford, Sir Simon Digby, and many others, forsaking the part of King Richard, whom all good men hated, as he no otherwise deserved. The king, having perfect knowledge the earl to be encamped at Tamworth, embattled himself in a place near to a village called Bosworth, not far from Leicester, appointing there to encounter with his adversaries. Here the matter lay in great doubt and suspense concerning the Lord Stanley, (which was the earl's father-in-law, and had married his mother,) to what part he would incline. For although his heart went (no doubt) with the earl, and had secret conference with him the night before, yet because of his son and heir, George, Lord Strange, being then in the hands of King Richard, lest the king should attempt any prejudicial thing against him, he durst not be seen openly to go that way where in heart he favoured, and therefore closely kept himself between both, till the push came that his help might serve at a pinch.

Illustration -- the battle of Bosworth Field

The number of the earl's part exceeded not to the one half of the side of King Richard. When the time and the place was appointed, where the two battles should encounter and join together, sore stripes and great blows were given on both sides, and many slain. If number and multitude might govern the success of battle, King Richard had double to the earl. But God is he, not man, that giveth victory, by what means it seemeth to his Divine providence best. In what order and by what occasion this field was won and lost, the certain intelligence we have not certainly expressed, but only by the history of Polydore Virgil, whom Sir Thomas More doth follow word for word. In the which story it doth appear, that as these two armies were coupling together, King Richard, understanding by his espials where the earl of Richmond was, and how he was but slenderly accompanied, and seeing him to approach more near unto him, rather carried with courage than ruled with reason, set spurs to the horse, and ranging out of the compass of his ranks, pressed toward the earl, setting upon him so sharply, that first he killed Sir William Brandon, the earl's standard-bearer, father to the Lord Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, then after overthrew Sir John Cheney, thinking likewise to oppress the earl. But as the Lord by his secret providence disposeth the event of all things, as the earl with his men about him, being over-matched, began to despair of victory, suddenly and opportunely came Sir William Stanley with three thousand well-appointed able men, whereby King Richard's men were driven hack, and he himself, cruelly fighting in the thick of his enemies, was there slain, and brought to his confusion and death, which he worthily deserved.

In the mean time the earl of Oxford, who had the guiding of the fore ward, discomfited the forefront of King Richard's host, and put them to flight, in which chase many were slain, of noblemen especially, above other, John, duke of Norfolk, Lord Ferrers, Sir Richard Radcliff, and Robert Brakenbury, lieutenant of the Tower, &c. Lord Thomas Howard, earl of Surrey, there submitted himself, and although he was not received at first to grace, but long remained in the Tower, yet, at length, for his fidelity, he was delivered and advanced to his recovered honour and dignity again.

This King Richard had but one son, who, shortly after the cruel murder of King Edward's sons, was taken with sickness and died. The wife of the said King Richard (whether by poison or by sickness) died also a little before the field of Bosworth; after whose decease, the story of Polydore and of Sir Thomas More affirmeth, that he intended himself to marry the Lady Elizabeth his own brother's daughter, and so to prevent the earl of Richmond.

Moreover, as touching the Lord Stanley, thus reporteth the story, that King Richard being in Bosworth field, sent for the Lord Stanley by a pursuivant, to advance forward with his company, and come to his presence; otherwise he sware by Christ's passion, that he would strike off his son's head before dinner. The Lord Stanley sent word again, that if he did he had more sons alive. Whereupon the king immediately commanded the Lord Strange to be beheaded, which was the very time when both the armies were within sight, and were ready to join together. Wherefore the kings counsellors, pondering the time and the case, persuaded the king that it was now time to fight, and not to do execution, advising him to delay the matter till the battle were ended. And so (as God would) King Richard breaking his oath, or rather keeping his oath, for he himself was slain before dinner, the Lord Strange was committed to be kept prisoner within the king's tent; who then, after the victory gotten, was sought out and brought to his joyful father. And thus have ye the tragical life and end of this wretched King Richard. Henry, the earl of Richmond, after hearty thanks given to Almighty God, for his glorious victory obtained, proceeded to the town of Leicester, where was brought to him, by the Lord Strange, the crown, and put on the earl's head.

In the mean time the dead corpse of King Richard was shamefully carried to the town of Leicester, being naked and despoiled to the skin; and being trussed behind a pursuivant of arms, was carried like a hog or a dog, having his head and arms hanging on the one side of the horse, and the legs on the other side, all sprinkled with mire and blood. And thus ended the usurped reign of King Richard, who reigned two years and two months.

When King Henry, by the providence of God, had obtained thistriumphant victory, and diadem of the realm, first sending for Edward Plantagenet, earl of Warwick, son to George, duke of Clarence, and committing him to safe custody within the Tower, from Leicester he removed to London, and not long after, according to his oath and promise made before, espoused to him the young Lady Elizabeth, heir of the house of York; whereby both the houses of York and Lancaster were conjoined together, to the no little rejoicing of all English hearts, and no less quiet unto the realm, which was A. D. 1485. This king reigned twenty-three years and eight months, and being a prince of great policy, justice, and temperance, kept his realm in good tolerable rule and order. And here, interrupting a little the course of our English matters, we will now (the Lord willing) enter the story above promised, of Maximilian the emperor, and matters of the empire, especially such as pertain to the church.

In the year of our Lord 1486, Frederic waxing aged, and partly also mistrusting the hearts of the Germans, who had complained before of their grievances, and could not be heard; and therefore misdoubting that his house, after his decease, should have the less favour among them, for that cause in his life-time did associate his son Maximilian to be joined emperor with him; with whom he reigned the space of seven years till the death of the said Frederic his father, who departed A. D. 1494, after he had reigned over the empire fifty-three years, lacking only but three years of the reign of Augustus Cæsar, under whom was the birth of our Lord and Saviour Christ.

This Maximilian, as he was a valiant emperor, prudent and singularly learned, so was his reign entangled in many unquiet and difficult wars; first, in the lower countries of Flanders and Brabant, where the said Maximilian was taken captive, but shortly after rescued and delivered again by his father, A. D. 1487. It was signified before how this Maximilian, by the advice of the Burgundians, had to wife Mary, the only daughter of Charles Duke of Burgundy, before mentioned, by whom he had two children, Philip and Margaret, A. D. 1477. Which Mary, not long after, about the year of our Lord 1481, by a fall from her horse fell into an ague, and departed. Other wars many more the same Maximilian also achieved, both in France, in Italy, in Hungary, and divers beside.

So happy was the education of this emperor in good letters, so expert he was in tongues and sciences, but especially such was his dexterity and promptness in the Latin style, that he, imitating the example of Julius Cæsar, did write and comprehend in Latin histories his own acts and feats done, and that in such sort, that when he had given a certain taste of his history to one Pircamerus, a learned man, asking his judgment how his warlike style of Latin did like him, the said Pircamerus did affirm and report of him to John Carion, the witness and writer of this story, that he did never see nor read in any German story, a thing more exactly, and that in such haste, done, as this was of Maximilian. Moreover, as he was learned himself, so was he a singular patron and advancer of learned students, as may well appear by the erecting and setting up the university of Wittenberg. By this emperor many in those days were excited to the embracing as well of other liberal arts, as also, namely, to the searching out of old antiquities of histories, whereby divers were then by him first occasioned in Germany to set their minds and to exercise their diligence in collecting and explicating matters pertaining to the knowledge of history, as well of ancient as also of later times, as namely Cuspinianus, Nauclerus, Conradus Peutingerus, Manlius, and other.

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