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A Child's History of England - Ch. 22-25

A Child's History of England: Chapters 1 - 2
A Child's History of England: Chapters 3 - 6
A Child's History of England: Chapters 7 - 10
A Child's History of England: Chapters 11 - 12
A Child's History of England: Chapters 13 - 16
A Child's History of England: Chapters 17 - 21
A Child's History of England: Chapters 22 - 25
A Child's History of England: Chapters 26 - 30
A Child's History of England: Chapters 31 - 35
A Child's History of England: Chapters 36 - 37

CHAPTER XXII - ENGLAND UNDER HENRY THE SIXTH



PART THE FIRST

IT had been the wish of the late King, that while his infant son
KING HENRY THE SIXTH, at this time only nine months old, was under
age, the Duke of Gloucester should be appointed Regent. The
English Parliament, however, preferred to appoint a Council of
Regency, with the Duke of Bedford at its head: to be represented,
in his absence only, by the Duke of Gloucester. The Parliament
would seem to have been wise in this, for Gloucester soon showed
himself to be ambitious and troublesome, and, in the gratification
of his own personal schemes, gave dangerous offence to the Duke of
Burgundy, which was with difficulty adjusted.



As that duke declined the Regency of France, it was bestowed by the
poor French King upon the Duke of Bedford. But, the French King
dying within two months, the Dauphin instantly asserted his claim
to the French throne, and was actually crowned under the title of
CHARLES THE SEVENTH. The Duke of Bedford, to be a match for him,
entered into a friendly league with the Dukes of Burgundy and
Brittany, and gave them his two sisters in marriage. War with
France was immediately renewed, and the Perpetual Peace came to an
untimely end.



In the first campaign, the English, aided by this alliance, were
speedily successful. As Scotland, however, had sent the French
five thousand men, and might send more, or attack the North of
England while England was busy with France, it was considered that
it would be a good thing to offer the Scottish King, James, who had
been so long imprisoned, his liberty, on his paying forty thousand
pounds for his board and lodging during nineteen years, and
engaging to forbid his subjects from serving under the flag of
France. It is pleasant to know, not only that the amiable captive
at last regained his freedom upon these terms, but, that he married
a noble English lady, with whom he had been long in love, and
became an excellent King. I am afraid we have met with some Kings
in this history, and shall meet with some more, who would have been
very much the better, and would have left the world much happier,
if they had been imprisoned nineteen years too.



In the second campaign, the English gained a considerable victory
at Verneuil, in a battle which was chiefly remarkable, otherwise,
for their resorting to the odd expedient of tying their baggage-
horses together by the heads and tails, and jumbling them up with
the baggage, so as to convert them into a sort of live
fortification - which was found useful to the troops, but which I
should think was not agreeable to the horses. For three years
afterwards very little was done, owing to both sides being too poor
for war, which is a very expensive entertainment; but, a council
was then held in Paris, in which it was decided to lay siege to the
town of Orleans, which was a place of great importance to the
Dauphin's cause. An English army of ten thousand men was
despatched on this service, under the command of the Earl of
Salisbury, a general of fame. He being unfortunately killed early
in the siege, the Earl of Suffolk took his place; under whom
(reinforced by SIR JOHN FALSTAFF, who brought up four hundred
waggons laden with salt herrings and other provisions for the
troops, and, beating off the French who tried to intercept him,
came victorious out of a hot skirmish, which was afterwards called
in jest the Battle of the Herrings) the town of Orleans was so
completely hemmed in, that the besieged proposed to yield it up to
their countryman the Duke of Burgundy. The English general,
however, replied that his English men had won it, so far, by their
blood and valour, and that his English men must have it. There
seemed to be no hope for the town, or for the Dauphin, who was so
dismayed that he even thought of flying to Scotland or to Spain -
when a peasant girl rose up and changed the whole state of affairs.



The story of this peasant girl I have now to tell.




PART THE SECOND: THE STORY OF JOAN OF ARC




IN a remote village among some wild hills in the province of
Lorraine, there lived a countryman whose name was JACQUES D'ARC.
He had a daughter, JOAN OF ARC, who was at this time in her
twentieth year. She had been a solitary girl from her childhood;
she had often tended sheep and cattle for whole days where no human
figure was seen or human voice heard; and she had often knelt, for
hours together, in the gloomy, empty, little village chapel,
looking up at the altar and at the dim lamp burning before it,
until she fancied that she saw shadowy figures standing there, and
even that she heard them speak to her. The people in that part of
France were very ignorant and superstitious, and they had many
ghostly tales to tell about what they had dreamed, and what they
saw among the lonely hills when the clouds and the mists were
resting on them. So, they easily believed that Joan saw strange
sights, and they whispered among themselves that angels and spirits
talked to her.



At last, Joan told her father that she had one day been surprised
by a great unearthly light, and had afterwards heard a solemn
voice, which said it was Saint Michael's voice, telling her that
she was to go and help the Dauphin. Soon after this (she said),
Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret had appeared to her with
sparkling crowns upon their heads, and had encouraged her to be
virtuous and resolute. These visions had returned sometimes; but
the Voices very often; and the voices always said, 'Joan, thou art
appointed by Heaven to go and help the Dauphin!' She almost always
heard them while the chapel bells were ringing.



There is no doubt, now, that Joan believed she saw and heard these
things. It is very well known that such delusions are a disease
which is not by any means uncommon. It is probable enough that
there were figures of Saint Michael, and Saint Catherine, and Saint
Margaret, in the little chapel (where they would be very likely to
have shining crowns upon their heads), and that they first gave
Joan the idea of those three personages. She had long been a
moping, fanciful girl, and, though she was a very good girl, I dare
say she was a little vain, and wishful for notoriety.



Her father, something wiser than his neighbours, said, 'I tell
thee, Joan, it is thy fancy. Thou hadst better have a kind husband
to take care of thee, girl, and work to employ thy mind!' But Joan
told him in reply, that she had taken a vow never to have a
husband, and that she must go as Heaven directed her, to help the
Dauphin.



It happened, unfortunately for her father's persuasions, and most
unfortunately for the poor girl, too, that a party of the Dauphin's
enemies found their way into the village while Joan's disorder was
at this point, and burnt the chapel, and drove out the inhabitants.
The cruelties she saw committed, touched Joan's heart and made her
worse. She said that the voices and the figures were now
continually with her; that they told her she was the girl who,
according to an old prophecy, was to deliver France; and she must
go and help the Dauphin, and must remain with him until he should
be crowned at Rheims: and that she must travel a long way to a
certain lord named BAUDRICOURT, who could and would, bring her into
the Dauphin's presence.



As her father still said, 'I tell thee, Joan, it is thy fancy,' she
set off to find out this lord, accompanied by an uncle, a poor
village wheelwright and cart-maker, who believed in the reality of
her visions. They travelled a long way and went on and on, over a
rough country, full of the Duke of Burgundy's men, and of all kinds
of robbers and marauders, until they came to where this lord was.



When his servants told him that there was a poor peasant girl named
Joan of Arc, accompanied by nobody but an old village wheelwright
and cart-maker, who wished to see him because she was commanded to
help the Dauphin and save France, Baudricourt burst out a-laughing,
and bade them send the girl away. But, he soon heard so much about
her lingering in the town, and praying in the churches, and seeing
visions, and doing harm to no one, that he sent for her, and
questioned her. As she said the same things after she had been
well sprinkled with holy water as she had said before the
sprinkling, Baudricourt began to think there might be something in
it. At all events, he thought it worth while to send her on to the
town of Chinon, where the Dauphin was. So, he bought her a horse,
and a sword, and gave her two squires to conduct her. As the
Voices had told Joan that she was to wear a man's dress, now, she
put one on, and girded her sword to her side, and bound spurs to
her heels, and mounted her horse and rode away with her two
squires. As to her uncle the wheelwright, he stood staring at his
niece in wonder until she was out of sight - as well he might - and
then went home again. The best place, too.



Joan and her two squires rode on and on, until they came to Chinon,
where she was, after some doubt, admitted into the Dauphin's
presence. Picking him out immediately from all his court, she told
him that she came commanded by Heaven to subdue his enemies and
conduct him to his coronation at Rheims. She also told him (or he
pretended so afterwards, to make the greater impression upon his
soldiers) a number of his secrets known only to himself, and,
furthermore, she said there was an old, old sword in the cathedral
of Saint Catherine at Fierbois, marked with five old crosses on the
blade, which Saint Catherine had ordered her to wear.



Now, nobody knew anything about this old, old sword, but when the
cathedral came to be examined - which was immediately done - there,
sure enough, the sword was found! The Dauphin then required a
number of grave priests and bishops to give him their opinion
whether the girl derived her power from good spirits or from evil
spirits, which they held prodigiously long debates about, in the
course of which several learned men fell fast asleep and snored
loudly. At last, when one gruff old gentleman had said to Joan,
'What language do your Voices speak?' and when Joan had replied to
the gruff old gentleman, 'A pleasanter language than yours,' they
agreed that it was all correct, and that Joan of Arc was inspired
from Heaven. This wonderful circumstance put new heart into the
Dauphin's soldiers when they heard of it, and dispirited the
English army, who took Joan for a witch.



So Joan mounted horse again, and again rode on and on, until she
came to Orleans. But she rode now, as never peasant girl had
ridden yet. She rode upon a white war-horse, in a suit of
glittering armour; with the old, old sword from the cathedral,
newly burnished, in her belt; with a white flag carried before her,
upon which were a picture of God, and the words JESUS MARIA. In
this splendid state, at the head of a great body of troops
escorting provisions of all kinds for the starving inhabitants of
Orleans, she appeared before that beleaguered city.



When the people on the walls beheld her, they cried out 'The Maid
is come! The Maid of the Prophecy is come to deliver us!' And
this, and the sight of the Maid fighting at the head of their men,
made the French so bold, and made the English so fearful, that the
English line of forts was soon broken, the troops and provisions
were got into the town, and Orleans was saved.



Joan, henceforth called THE MAID OF ORLEANS, remained within the
walls for a few days, and caused letters to be thrown over,
ordering Lord Suffolk and his Englishmen to depart from before the
town according to the will of Heaven. As the English general very
positively declined to believe that Joan knew anything about the
will of Heaven (which did not mend the matter with his soldiers,
for they stupidly said if she were not inspired she was a witch,
and it was of no use to fight against a witch), she mounted her
white war-horse again, and ordered her white banner to advance.



The besiegers held the bridge, and some strong towers upon the
bridge; and here the Maid of Orleans attacked them. The fight was
fourteen hours long. She planted a scaling ladder with her own
hands, and mounted a tower wall, but was struck by an English arrow
in the neck, and fell into the trench. She was carried away and
the arrow was taken out, during which operation she screamed and
cried with the pain, as any other girl might have done; but
presently she said that the Voices were speaking to her and
soothing her to rest. After a while, she got up, and was again
foremost in the fight. When the English who had seen her fall and
supposed her dead, saw this, they were troubled with the strangest
fears, and some of them cried out that they beheld Saint Michael on
a white horse (probably Joan herself) fighting for the French.
They lost the bridge, and lost the towers, and next day set their
chain of forts on fire, and left the place.



But as Lord Suffolk himself retired no farther than the town of
Jargeau, which was only a few miles off, the Maid of Orleans
besieged him there, and he was taken prisoner. As the white banner
scaled the wall, she was struck upon the head with a stone, and was
again tumbled down into the ditch; but, she only cried all the
more, as she lay there, 'On, on, my countrymen! And fear nothing,
for the Lord hath delivered them into our hands!' After this new
success of the Maid's, several other fortresses and places which
had previously held out against the Dauphin were delivered up
without a battle; and at Patay she defeated the remainder of the
English army, and set up her victorious white banner on a field
where twelve hundred Englishmen lay dead.



She now urged the Dauphin (who always kept out of the way when
there was any fighting) to proceed to Rheims, as the first part of
her mission was accomplished; and to complete the whole by being
crowned there. The Dauphin was in no particular hurry to do this,
as Rheims was a long way off, and the English and the Duke of
Burgundy were still strong in the country through which the road
lay. However, they set forth, with ten thousand men, and again the
Maid of Orleans rode on and on, upon her white war-horse, and in
her shining armour. Whenever they came to a town which yielded
readily, the soldiers believed in her; but, whenever they came to a
town which gave them any trouble, they began to murmur that she was
an impostor. The latter was particularly the case at Troyes, which
finally yielded, however, through the persuasion of one Richard, a
friar of the place. Friar Richard was in the old doubt about the
Maid of Orleans, until he had sprinkled her well with holy water,
and had also well sprinkled the threshold of the gate by which she
came into the city. Finding that it made no change in her or the
gate, he said, as the other grave old gentlemen had said, that it
was all right, and became her great ally.



So, at last, by dint of riding on and on, the Maid of Orleans, and
the Dauphin, and the ten thousand sometimes believing and sometimes
unbelieving men, came to Rheims. And in the great cathedral of
Rheims, the Dauphin actually was crowned Charles the Seventh in a
great assembly of the people. Then, the Maid, who with her white
banner stood beside the King in that hour of his triumph, kneeled
down upon the pavement at his feet, and said, with tears, that what
she had been inspired to do, was done, and that the only recompense
she asked for, was, that she should now have leave to go back to
her distant home, and her sturdily incredulous father, and her
first simple escort the village wheelwright and cart-maker. But
the King said 'No!' and made her and her family as noble as a King
could, and settled upon her the income of a Count.



Ah! happy had it been for the Maid of Orleans, if she had resumed
her rustic dress that day, and had gone home to the little chapel
and the wild hills, and had forgotten all these things, and had
been a good man's wife, and had heard no stranger voices than the
voices of little children!



It was not to be, and she continued helping the King (she did a
world for him, in alliance with Friar Richard), and trying to
improve the lives of the coarse soldiers, and leading a religious,
an unselfish, and a modest life, herself, beyond any doubt. Still,
many times she prayed the King to let her go home; and once she
even took off her bright armour and hung it up in a church, meaning
never to wear it more. But, the King always won her back again -
while she was of any use to him - and so she went on and on and on,
to her doom.



When the Duke of Bedford, who was a very able man, began to be
active for England, and, by bringing the war back into France and
by holding the Duke of Burgundy to his faith, to distress and
disturb Charles very much, Charles sometimes asked the Maid of
Orleans what the Voices said about it? But, the Voices had become
(very like ordinary voices in perplexed times) contradictory and
confused, so that now they said one thing, and now said another,
and the Maid lost credit every day. Charles marched on Paris,
which was opposed to him, and attacked the suburb of Saint Honore.
In this fight, being again struck down into the ditch, she was
abandoned by the whole army. She lay unaided among a heap of dead,
and crawled out how she could. Then, some of her believers went
over to an opposition Maid, Catherine of La Rochelle, who said she
was inspired to tell where there were treasures of buried money -
though she never did - and then Joan accidentally broke the old,
old sword, and others said that her power was broken with it.
Finally, at the siege of CompiŠgne, held by the Duke of Burgundy,
where she did valiant service, she was basely left alone in a
retreat, though facing about and fighting to the last; and an
archer pulled her off her horse.



O the uproar that was made, and the thanksgivings that were sung,
about the capture of this one poor country-girl! O the way in
which she was demanded to be tried for sorcery and heresy, and
anything else you like, by the Inquisitor-General of France, and by
this great man, and by that great man, until it is wearisome to
think of! She was bought at last by the Bishop of Beauvais for ten
thousand francs, and was shut up in her narrow prison: plain Joan
of Arc again, and Maid of Orleans no more.



I should never have done if I were to tell you how they had Joan
out to examine her, and cross-examine her, and re-examine her, and
worry her into saying anything and everything; and how all sorts of
scholars and doctors bestowed their utmost tediousness upon her.
Sixteen times she was brought out and shut up again, and worried,
and entrapped, and argued with, until she was heart-sick of the
dreary business. On the last occasion of this kind she was brought
into a burial-place at Rouen, dismally decorated with a scaffold,
and a stake and faggots, and the executioner, and a pulpit with a
friar therein, and an awful sermon ready. It is very affecting to
know that even at that pass the poor girl honoured the mean vermin
of a King, who had so used her for his purposes and so abandoned
her; and, that while she had been regardless of reproaches heaped
upon herself, she spoke out courageously for him.



It was natural in one so young to hold to life. To save her life,
she signed a declaration prepared for her - signed it with a cross,
for she couldn't write - that all her visions and Voices had come
from the Devil. Upon her recanting the past, and protesting that
she would never wear a man's dress in future, she was condemned to
imprisonment for life, 'on the bread of sorrow and the water of
affliction.'



But, on the bread of sorrow and the water of affliction, the
visions and the Voices soon returned. It was quite natural that
they should do so, for that kind of disease is much aggravated by
fasting, loneliness, and anxiety of mind. It was not only got out
of Joan that she considered herself inspired again, but, she was
taken in a man's dress, which had been left - to entrap her - in
her prison, and which she put on, in her solitude; perhaps, in
remembrance of her past glories, perhaps, because the imaginary
Voices told her. For this relapse into the sorcery and heresy and
anything else you like, she was sentenced to be burnt to death.
And, in the market-place of Rouen, in the hideous dress which the
monks had invented for such spectacles; with priests and bishops
sitting in a gallery looking on, though some had the Christian
grace to go away, unable to endure the infamous scene; this
shrieking girl - last seen amidst the smoke and fire, holding a
crucifix between her hands; last heard, calling upon Christ - was
burnt to ashes. They threw her ashes into the river Seine; but
they will rise against her murderers on the last day.



From the moment of her capture, neither the French King nor one
single man in all his court raised a finger to save her. It is no
defence of them that they may have never really believed in her, or
that they may have won her victories by their skill and bravery.
The more they pretended to believe in her, the more they had caused
her to believe in herself; and she had ever been true to them, ever
brave, ever nobly devoted. But, it is no wonder, that they, who
were in all things false to themselves, false to one another, false
to their country, false to Heaven, false to Earth, should be
monsters of ingratitude and treachery to a helpless peasant girl.



In the picturesque old town of Rouen, where weeds and grass grow
high on the cathedral towers, and the venerable Norman streets are
still warm in the blessed sunlight though the monkish fires that
once gleamed horribly upon them have long grown cold, there is a
statue of Joan of Arc, in the scene of her last agony, the square
to which she has given its present name. I know some statues of
modern times - even in the World's metropolis, I think - which
commemorate less constancy, less earnestness, smaller claims upon
the world's attention, and much greater impostors.




PART THE THIRD




BAD deeds seldom prosper, happily for mankind; and the English
cause gained no advantage from the cruel death of Joan of Arc. For
a long time, the war went heavily on. The Duke of Bedford died;
the alliance with the Duke of Burgundy was broken; and Lord Talbot
became a great general on the English side in France. But, two of
the consequences of wars are, Famine - because the people cannot
peacefully cultivate the ground - and Pestilence, which comes of
want, misery, and suffering. Both these horrors broke out in both
countries, and lasted for two wretched years. Then, the war went
on again, and came by slow degrees to be so badly conducted by the
English government, that, within twenty years from the execution of
the Maid of Orleans, of all the great French conquests, the town of
Calais alone remained in English hands.



While these victories and defeats were taking place in the course
of time, many strange things happened at home. The young King, as
he grew up, proved to be very unlike his great father, and showed
himself a miserable puny creature. There was no harm in him - he
had a great aversion to shedding blood: which was something - but,
he was a weak, silly, helpless young man, and a mere shuttlecock to
the great lordly battledores about the Court.



Of these battledores, Cardinal Beaufort, a relation of the King,
and the Duke of Gloucester, were at first the most powerful. The
Duke of Gloucester had a wife, who was nonsensically accused of
practising witchcraft to cause the King's death and lead to her
husband's coming to the throne, he being the next heir. She was
charged with having, by the help of a ridiculous old woman named
Margery (who was called a witch), made a little waxen doll in the
King's likeness, and put it before a slow fire that it might
gradually melt away. It was supposed, in such cases, that the
death of the person whom the doll was made to represent, was sure
to happen. Whether the duchess was as ignorant as the rest of
them, and really did make such a doll with such an intention, I
don't know; but, you and I know very well that she might have made
a thousand dolls, if she had been stupid enough, and might have
melted them all, without hurting the King or anybody else.
However, she was tried for it, and so was old Margery, and so was
one of the duke's chaplains, who was charged with having assisted
them. Both he and Margery were put to death, and the duchess,
after being taken on foot and bearing a lighted candle, three times
round the City, as a penance, was imprisoned for life. The duke,
himself, took all this pretty quietly, and made as little stir
about the matter as if he were rather glad to be rid of the
duchess.



But, he was not destined to keep himself out of trouble long. The
royal shuttlecock being three-and-twenty, the battledores were very
anxious to get him married. The Duke of Gloucester wanted him to
marry a daughter of the Count of Armagnac; but, the Cardinal and
the Earl of Suffolk were all for MARGARET, the daughter of the King
of Sicily, who they knew was a resolute, ambitious woman and would
govern the King as she chose. To make friends with this lady, the
Earl of Suffolk, who went over to arrange the match, consented to
accept her for the King's wife without any fortune, and even to
give up the two most valuable possessions England then had in
France. So, the marriage was arranged, on terms very advantageous
to the lady; and Lord Suffolk brought her to England, and she was
married at Westminster. On what pretence this queen and her party
charged the Duke of Gloucester with high treason within a couple of
years, it is impossible to make out, the matter is so confused;
but, they pretended that the King's life was in danger, and they
took the duke prisoner. A fortnight afterwards, he was found dead
in bed (they said), and his body was shown to the people, and Lord
Suffolk came in for the best part of his estates. You know by this
time how strangely liable state prisoners were to sudden death.



If Cardinal Beaufort had any hand in this matter, it did him no
good, for he died within six weeks; thinking it very hard and
curious - at eighty years old! - that he could not live to be Pope.



This was the time when England had completed her loss of all her
great French conquests. The people charged the loss principally
upon the Earl of Suffolk, now a duke, who had made those easy terms
about the Royal Marriage, and who, they believed, had even been
bought by France. So he was impeached as a traitor, on a great
number of charges, but chiefly on accusations of having aided the
French King, and of designing to make his own son King of England.
The Commons and the people being violent against him, the King was
made (by his friends) to interpose to save him, by banishing him
for five years, and proroguing the Parliament. The duke had much
ado to escape from a London mob, two thousand strong, who lay in
wait for him in St. Giles's fields; but, he got down to his own
estates in Suffolk, and sailed away from Ipswich. Sailing across
the Channel, he sent into Calais to know if he might land there;
but, they kept his boat and men in the harbour, until an English
ship, carrying a hundred and fifty men and called the Nicholas of
the Tower, came alongside his little vessel, and ordered him on
board. 'Welcome, traitor, as men say,' was the captain's grim and
not very respectful salutation. He was kept on board, a prisoner,
for eight-and-forty hours, and then a small boat appeared rowing
toward the ship. As this boat came nearer, it was seen to have in
it a block, a rusty sword, and an executioner in a black mask. The
duke was handed down into it, and there his head was cut off with
six strokes of the rusty sword. Then, the little boat rowed away
to Dover beach, where the body was cast out, and left until the
duchess claimed it. By whom, high in authority, this murder was
committed, has never appeared. No one was ever punished for it.



There now arose in Kent an Irishman, who gave himself the name of
Mortimer, but whose real name was JACK CADE. Jack, in imitation of
Wat Tyler, though he was a very different and inferior sort of man,
addressed the Kentish men upon their wrongs, occasioned by the bad
government of England, among so many battledores and such a poor
shuttlecock; and the Kentish men rose up to the number of twenty
thousand. Their place of assembly was Blackheath, where, headed by
Jack, they put forth two papers, which they called 'The Complaint
of the Commons of Kent,' and 'The Requests of the Captain of the
Great Assembly in Kent.' They then retired to Sevenoaks. The
royal army coming up with them here, they beat it and killed their
general. Then, Jack dressed himself in the dead general's armour,
and led his men to London.



Jack passed into the City from Southwark, over the bridge, and
entered it in triumph, giving the strictest orders to his men not
to plunder. Having made a show of his forces there, while the
citizens looked on quietly, he went back into Southwark in good
order, and passed the night. Next day, he came back again, having
got hold in the meantime of Lord Say, an unpopular nobleman. Says
Jack to the Lord Mayor and judges: 'Will you be so good as to make
a tribunal in Guildhall, and try me this nobleman?' The court
being hastily made, he was found guilty, and Jack and his men cut
his head off on Cornhill. They also cut off the head of his son-
in-law, and then went back in good order to Southwark again.



But, although the citizens could bear the beheading of an unpopular
lord, they could not bear to have their houses pillaged. And it
did so happen that Jack, after dinner - perhaps he had drunk a
little too much - began to plunder the house where he lodged; upon
which, of course, his men began to imitate him. Wherefore, the
Londoners took counsel with Lord Scales, who had a thousand
soldiers in the Tower; and defended London Bridge, and kept Jack
and his people out. This advantage gained, it was resolved by
divers great men to divide Jack's army in the old way, by making a
great many promises on behalf of the state, that were never
intended to be performed. This DID divide them; some of Jack's men
saying that they ought to take the conditions which were offered,
and others saying that they ought not, for they were only a snare;
some going home at once; others staying where they were; and all
doubting and quarrelling among themselves.



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



 



CHAPTER XXIII - ENGLAND UNDER EDWARD THE FOURTH



 



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



 



CHAPTER XXIV - ENGLAND UNDER EDWARD THE FIFTH



 



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



 



CHAPTER XXV - ENGLAND UNDER RICHARD THE THIRD



 



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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