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Title: The Wars of the Roses
       or, Stories of the Struggle of York and Lancaster

Author: John G. Edgar

Release Date: June 29, 2014 [EBook #46132]

Language: English

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THE WARS OF THE ROSES

[Pg i]


[Pg ii] PLUCKING THE ROSES.
PLUCKING THE ROSES.

[Pg iii]

THE

WARS OF THE ROSES;

OR,

Stories of the Struggle of York and Lancaster.

By J. G. EDGAR,

AUTHOR OF "HISTORY FOR BOYS," "THE BOYHOOD OF GREAT MEN," "THE FOOTPRINTS OF FAMOUS MEN," ETC.

With Illustrations.

man removing crown from rose bush

NEW YORK:

HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,

FRANKLIN SQUARE.

[Pg iv]


[Pg v]TO

MASTER DAVID M'DOWALL HANNAY,

This Book for Boys

IS, WITH EARNEST PRAYERS FOR HIS WELFARE, INSCRIBED

BY HIS GODFATHER,

THE AUTHOR.

[Pg vi]


[Pg vii]

PREFACE.

My object in writing this book for boys is to furnish them with a narrative of the struggle between York and Lancaster—a struggle which extended over thirty years, deluged England with blood, cost a hundred thousand lives, emasculated the old nobility, and utterly destroyed the house of Plantagenet.

It is generally admitted that no period in England's history is richer in romantic incident than the three decades occupied by the Wars of the Roses; but the contest is frequently described as having been without interest in a political point of view. This idea seems erroneous. That struggle of thirty years was no mere strife of chiefs, ambitious of supremacy and unscrupulous as to means. Indeed, the circumstances of the country were such that no hand would have been lifted against sovereigns—whether reigning by Parliamentary or hereditary right—who showed a due respect to ancient rights and liberties. But the tyranny exercised,[Pg viii] first by the ministers of the sixth Henry, and afterward by those of the fourth Edward—one influenced by Margaret of Anjou, the other by the Duchess of Bedford, both "foreign women"—was such as could not be borne by Englishmen without a struggle; and evidence exists that Richard Neville, in arming the people against these kings, did so to prevent the establishment of that despotism which John Hampden and Oliver Cromwell afterward fought to destroy.

With such impressions as to the origin of the war which, during the fifteenth century, agitated England and perplexed Continental rulers, I have, in the following pages, traced the course of events from the plucking of the roses in the Temple Gardens to the destruction of Richard the Third, and the coronation of Henry Tudor, on Bosworth Field. And I venture to hope that a book written to attract English boys of this generation to a remarkable epoch in the medićval history of their country will be received with favor, and read with interest, by those for whose perusal it is more particularly intended.

J. G. E.


[Pg ix]

INTRODUCTION.

The Plantagenets.

About the middle of the ninth century a warrior named Tertullus, having rendered signal services to the King of France, married Petronella, the king's cousin, and had a son who flourished as Count of Anjou. The descendants of Tertullus and Petronella rose rapidly, and exercised much influence on French affairs. At length, in the twelfth century, Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, surnamed Plantagenet, from wearing a sprig of flowering broom instead of a feather, espoused Maude, daughter of Henry Beauclerc, King of England; and Henry Plantagenet, their son, succeeded, on the death of Stephen, to the English throne.

Having married Eleanor, heiress of Aquitaine, and extended his continental empire from the Channel to the Pyrenees, Henry ranked as the most potent of European princes. But, though enabled to render great services to England,[Pg x] he was not an Englishman; and, indeed, it was not till the death of John, at Swinehead, that the English had a king who could be regarded as one of themselves. That king was Henry the Third, born and educated in England, and sympathizing with the traditions of the people over whom he reigned.

Unfortunately for Henry, he was surrounded by Continental kinsmen, whose conduct caused such discontent that clergy, barons, citizens, and people raised the cry of England for the English; and Simon de Montfort, though foreign himself, undertook to head a movement against foreigners. A barons' war was the consequence. Henry, defeated at Lewes, became a prisoner in the hands of the oligarchy; and there was some prospect of the crown passing from the house of Plantagenet to that of Montfort.

At this crisis, however, Edward, eldest son of the king, escaped from captivity, destroyed the oligarchy in the battle of Evesham, and entered upon his great and glorious career. Space would fail us to expatiate on the services which, when elevated to the throne as Edward the First, that mighty prince rendered to England. Suffice it to say that he gave peace, prosperity,[Pg xi] and freedom to the people, formed hostile races into one great nation, and rendered his memory immortal by the laws which he instituted.[1]

For the country which the first Edward rendered prosperous and free, the third Edward and his heroic son won glory in those wars which made Englishmen, for a time, masters of France. Unhappily, the Black Prince died before his father; and his only son, who succeeded when a boy as Richard the Second, departed from right principles of government. This excited serious discontent, and led the English people to that violation of "the lineal succession of their monarchs" which caused the Wars of the Roses.

Besides the Black Prince, the conqueror of Cressy had by his queen, Philippa—the patroness of Froissart—several sons, among whom were Lionel, Duke of Clarence; John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster; and Edmund of Langley,[Pg xii] Duke of York.[2] Lionel died early; but John of Gaunt survived his father and eldest brother, and was suspected of having an eye to the crown which his young nephew wore. No usurpation, however, was attempted. But when John was in the grave, his son, Henry of Bolingbroke, returning from an irksome exile, deposed Richard, and sent him prisoner to Pontefract[Pg xiii] Castle, where he is understood to have been murdered.

On the death of Richard, who was childless, Henry the Fourth, as son of John of Gaunt, would have had hereditary right on his side, but that Lionel of Clarence had left a daughter, Philippa, wife of Mortimer, Earl of March, and ancestress of three successive earls. Of these, Edmund, the last earl, was a boy when Henry of Bolingbroke usurped the throne; and his sister, Anne Mortimer, was wife of Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cambridge, second son of Edmund of Langley, Duke of York. "This was that princely branch," says Sandford, "by the ingrafting of which into the stock of York, that tree brought forth not only White Roses, but crowns and sceptres also."

Henry the Fourth regarded young March with jealousy, and had him vigilantly guarded. But Henry the Fifth completely won the earl's loyalty, and made him a most zealous adherent. March showed no ambition to reign; and the nation, intoxicated with Agincourt and glory and conquest, cared not an iota for his claims. At the time when the hero-king expired at Vincennes and the Earl of March died in England the dynastic dispute was[Pg xiv] scarcely remembered, and it would never, in all probability, have been revived had the Lancastrian government not become such as could not be submitted to without degradation. It was when law and decency were defied, and when Englishmen were in danger of being enslaved by a "foreign woman," that they remembered the true heir of the Plantagenets and took up arms to vindicate his claims.


[Pg xv]

CONTENTS.

CHAPTERPAGE
I. The Monk-monarch and his Misleaders17
II. The Duke of York and the King-maker27
III. The Captain of Kent35
IV. The Rival Dukes46
V. The King's Malady53
VI. The Battle of St. Albans60
VII. The Queen and the Yorkist Chiefs67
VIII. The City and the Court76
IX. A Yorkist Victory and a Lancastrian Revenge80
X. The Battle of Northampton88
XI. York's Claim to the Crown94
XII. The Queen's Flight and Return99
XIII. The Anjouite's Vengeance105
XIV. A Plantagenet and the Tudors118
XV. Before Towton125
XVI. Towton Field131
XVII. The Queen in Adversity145
XVIII. The Woodvilles160
XIX. The Lancastrians in Exile174
XX. Warwick and the Woodvilles190
XXI. Despotism, Discontent, and Disorder203
XXII. The Siege of Exeter218
XXIII. Louis the Crafty224
XXIV. "The Stout Earl" in Exile232
XXV. The Earl's Return and Edward's Flight244
[Pg xvi]XXVI. The Earl of Worcester253
XXVII. The Banished King262
XXVIII. Queen Margaret's Voyage276
XXIX. The Battle of Barnet282
XXX. Before Tewkesbury299
XXXI. The Field of Tewkesbury312
XXXII. The Victor and the Vanquished325
XXXIII. Warwick's Vice-admiral337
XXXIV. Escape of the Tudors347
XXXV. Adventures of John De Vere353
XXXVI. A Duke in Rags362
XXXVII. Louis de Bruges at Windsor368
XXXVIII. The Treaty of Picquigny372
XXXIX. A Domestic Tragedy381
XL. King Edward's Death390
XLI. The Duke of Gloucester396
XLII. The Protector and the Protectorate399
XLIII. The Usurpation415
XLIV. Richard's Coronation420
XLV. The Princes in the Tower423
XLVI. A Mock King-maker427
XLVII. The Coming Man432
XLVIII. From Brittany to Bosworth439
XLIX. Richard before Bosworth444
L. Bosworth Field451
LI. After Bosworth465
LII. The Union of the Two Roses469

[Pg 17]

THE WARS OF THE ROSES.


CHAPTER I.

THE MONK-MONARCH AND HIS MISLEADERS.

On St. Nicholas's Day, in the year 1421, there was joy in the castle of Windsor and rejoicing in the city of London. On that day Katherine de Valois, youthful spouse of the fifth Henry, became mother of a prince destined to wear the crown of the Plantagenets; and courtiers vied with citizens in expressing gratification that a son had been born to the conqueror of Agincourt—an heir to the kingdoms of England and France.

Henry of Windsor, whose birth was hailed with a degree of enthusiasm which no similar event had excited in England, was doomed to misfortune from his cradle. He was not quite nine months old when Henry the Fifth departed this life at Vincennes; and he was still an infant when Katherine de Valois forgot her hero-husband and all dignity for the sake of a Welsh soldier with a handsome person and an imaginary pedigree. The young king, however, was the beloved of a thousand hearts. As son of a hero[Pg 18] who had won imperishable glory for England, the heir of Lancaster was regarded by Englishmen with sincere affection; the legitimacy of his title even was unquestioned; and the genius of his uncles, John, Duke of Bedford, and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, under whose auspices the royal boy was crowned in London and Paris, created a feeling of security seldom felt by kingdoms at the beginning of long minorities.

For a time the aspect of affairs was cheering. At a critical period, however, Bedford expired at Rouen; and ere long England was distracted by a feud between Gloucester and that spurious son of John of Gaunt, known in history as Cardinal Beaufort, and as chief of a house which then enjoyed the dukedom of Somerset. Gloucester charged the cardinal with contempt for the laws of the realm; and the cardinal avenged himself by accusing Gloucester's duchess of endeavoring to destroy the king by witchcraft, and banishing her to the Isle of Man. It soon appeared that the rivalry between Duke Humphrey and his illegitimate kinsman would involve the sovereign and people of England in serious disasters.

Nature had not gifted Henry of Windsor with the capacity which would have enabled a sovereign to reconcile such foes. Never had the Confessor's crown been placed on so weak a head. Never had[Pg 19] the Conqueror's sceptre been grasped by so feeble a hand. The son of the fifth Henry was more of a monk than a monarch, and in every respect better qualified for the cloister than for courts and camps. In one respect, however, the king's taste was not monastic. Notwithstanding his monkish tendencies he did not relish the idea of celibacy; and the rival chiefs, perceiving his anxiety to marry, cast their eyes over Europe to discover a princess worthy of enacting the part of Queen of England.

Gloucester was the first to take the business in hand. Guided at once by motives of policy and patriotism, he proposed to unite his nephew to a daughter of the Count of Armagnac; and he trusted, by an alliance, to allure that powerful French noble to the English interest. The king did not object to the Armagnac match. Before striking a bargain, however, he felt a natural desire to know something of the appearance of his future spouse; and with this view he employed a painter to furnish portraits of the count's three daughters. Before the portraits could be executed circumstances put an end to the negotiations. In fact, the dauphin, as the English still called the seventh Charles of France, having no reason to regard the proposed marriage with favor, placed himself at the head of an army, seized upon the count and his daughters, and carried them off as prisoners of state.

[Pg 20]

Meanwhile, Beaufort was not idle. Eager to mortify Gloucester and increase his own influence, the aged cardinal was bent on uniting the king to Margaret of Anjou, daughter of René of Provence, and niece of the French monarch. René, indeed, though titular sovereign of Jerusalem and the two Sicilies, was poor, and Margaret, albeit the Carlovingian blood flowed in her veins, was portionless. But, though not favored by fortune, the Provençal princess was richly endowed by nature; and, young as she was, the unrivaled beauty and intellect of King René's daughter had made her name familiar in France and famous in England.

Never was an intriguer more successful than Beaufort. While Gloucester was negotiating with the Count of Armagnac, the cardinal, aware of Margaret's charms, contrived to have a likeness of the princess transmitted to the court of England; and the young king became so enamored of the fair being whom the portrait represented that his wish to espouse her could not decently be combated. Matrimonial negotiations were therefore resolved on; and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, was sent as embassador to bring home the princess. René drove a hard bargain. Before consenting to the marriage he insisted on the restoration of Maine and Anjou, which were among the Continental conquests that the English were in no humor to surrender.[Pg 21] But Suffolk, who was thinking more of his own interests than of his country's honor, yielded without scruple; and the marriage of King René's daughter was made the basis of a treaty which could not fail to prove unpopular. At first, however, no complaint was uttered. Suffolk brought the royal bride to England, and declared, in allusion to her poverty, that her beauty and intellect were worth more than all the gold in the world.

One day in April, 1445, the marriage of Henry of Windsor and Margaret of Anjou was solemnized at the Abbey of Tichfield—the bridegroom being in his twenty-fourth, the bride in her sixteenth year. The religious ceremony having been performed, the wedded pair were conducted to the capital of their dominions, and the English, being then devotedly loyal, were prepared to welcome the spouse of young Henry to London with an enthusiasm which could hardly fail to intoxicate so young a princess. The nobles, displaying all the pride and pomp of feudalism, wore the queen's badge in honor of her arrival. At Greenwich, Gloucester, as first prince of the blood, though known to have been averse to the match, paid his respects, attended by five hundred men, dressed in her livery. At Blackheath appeared the mayor, aldermen, and sheriffs of London, arrayed in scarlet robes, and mounted on horseback, to escort her through Southwark into the city.[Pg 22] Passing under triumphal arches to Westminster, she was crowned in the Abbey; and that ceremony was the occasion of general rejoicing. The shows, the pageants, the tournaments, the display of feudal banners by the nobles, and loud applause of the populace might well have led the royal pair to prognosticate a life of peace and happiness. Nobody, who witnessed the universal joy, could have supposed that England was on the eve of the bloodiest dynastic struggle recorded in her history.

In fact, the people of England, knowing nothing of the restitution of Maine and Anjou, were at first delighted with their queen, and enraptured with her beauty. Her appearance was such as could hardly fail to please the eye and touch the heart. Imagine a princess in her teens, singularly accomplished, with a fair complexion, soft, delicate features, bright, expressive eyes, and golden hair flowing over ivory shoulders; place a crown upon her head, which seemed to have been formed to wear such a symbol of power; array her graceful figure in robes of state, and a mantle of purple fastened with gold and gems; and you will have before your mind's eye the bride of Henry of Windsor, as on the day of her coronation she appeared among peers and prelates and high-born dames in the Abbey of Westminster.

Unfortunately for Margaret of Anjou, her prudence[Pg 23] and intelligence were not equal to her wit and beauty. Ere two years passed the popularity she enjoyed vanished into empty air; but she was a woman of defiant courage, and far from taking any pains to regain the affections of the people, she openly manifested her dislike of Gloucester, who was their favorite and their idol. Indeed, the young queen never could forgive the duke's opposition to her marriage; and she listened readily to the counsels of Beaufort and Suffolk, who, in the spring of 1447, resolved, at all hazards, to accomplish his ruin.

With this view, a parliament was summoned to meet at Bury St. Edmunds; and Gloucester, suspecting no snare, rode thither, with a small retinue, from the castle of Devizes. At first, nothing occurred to raise his apprehension; but, in a few days, to his surprise, he found himself arrested by the Constable of England, on the charge of conspiracy to murder the king and seize the crown.

Gloucester was never brought to trial; and it was said that Suffolk and the cardinal, finding that every body ridiculed the charge of conspiracy, caused "The Good Duke" to be assassinated. Appearances rather strengthened the popular suspicion. One evening, about the close of February, Gloucester was in perfect health: next morning he was found dead in bed. The indecent haste with which[Pg 24] Suffolk seized upon the duke's estates was commented on with severity; and Margaret of Anjou shared the suspicion that had been excited.

The cardinal did not long survive the man who was believed to have been his victim. Early in the month of April, Beaufort died in despair, bitterly reproaching his riches, that they could not prolong his life; and Suffolk, now without a rival, so conducted himself as to incur the perfect hatred of the nation. The English people had a peculiar aversion to favorites, and remembered that while weak sovereigns, like the third Henry and the second Edward, had been ruined by such creatures, great kings, like the first and third Edward, had done excellently well without them. Suffolk was every day more and more disliked; and in 1449 his unpopularity reached the highest point.

The position of Suffolk now became perilous. Impatient at their Continental reverses, and exasperated at the loss of Rouen, the people exhibited a degree of indignation that was overwhelming, and the duke, after being attacked in both houses of Parliament, found himself committed to the Tower. When brought to the bar of the Lords, Suffolk, aware of his favor at court, threw himself on the mercy of the king; and, every thing having been arranged, the lord chancellor, in Henry's name, sentenced him to five years' banishment. The peers[Pg 25] protested against this proceeding as unconstitutional; and the populace were so furious at the idea of the traitor escaping, that, on the day of his liberation, they assembled in St. Giles's Fields to the number of two thousand, with the intention of bringing him to justice. But Suffolk evaded their vigilance, and, at Ipswich, embarked for the Continent.

On the 2d of May, 1450, however, as the banished duke was sailing between Dover and Calais, he was stopped by an English man-of-war, described as the Nicholas of the Tower, and ordered to come immediately on board. As soon as Suffolk set foot on deck, the master of the Nicholas exclaimed, "Welcome, traitor;" and, for two days, kept his captive in suspense. On the third day, however, the duke was handed into a cock-boat, in which appeared an executioner, an axe, and a block; and the death's-man, having without delay cut off the head of the disgraced minister, contemptuously cast the headless trunk on the sand.

While England's sufferings, from disasters abroad and discord at home, were thus avenged on the queen's favorite, the king was regarded with pity and compassion. Henry, in fact, was looked upon as the victim of fate; and a prophecy, supposed to have been uttered by his father, was cited to account for all his misfortunes. The hero-king, according[Pg 26] to rumor, had, on hearing of his son's birth at Windsor, shaken his head, and remarked prophetically, "I, Henry of Monmouth, have gained much in my short reign; Henry of Windsor shall reign much longer, and lose all. But God's will be done."

Margaret of Anjou shared her favorite's unpopularity; and, when she reached the age of twenty, the crown which had been placed on her head amid so much applause became a crown of thorns. Exasperated at the loss of their Continental conquests, Englishmen recalled to mind that she was a kinswoman and protégée of the King of France; and when it was known that, to secure her hand for their sovereign, Maine and Anjou had been surrendered, sturdy patriots described her as the cause of a humiliating peace, and, with bitter emphasis, denounced her as "The Foreign Woman."

These men were not altogether unreasonable. In fact, the case proved much worse for England than even they anticipated; and, ere long, France was gratified with a thorough revenge on the foe by whom she had been humbled to the dust, from having placed on the Plantagenets' throne a princess capable, by pride and indiscretion, of rousing a civil war that ruined the Plantagenets' monarchy.


[Pg 27]

CHAPTER II.

THE DUKE OF YORK AND THE KING-MAKER.

When Suffolk fell a victim to the popular indignation, Richard, Duke of York, first prince of the blood, was governing Ireland, with a courage worthy of his high rank, and a wisdom worthy of his great name. Indeed, his success was such as much to increase the jealousy with which the queen had ever regarded the heir of the Plantagenets.

York was descended, in the male line, from Edmund of Langley, fifth son of the third Edward, and was thus heir-presumptive to the crown which the meek Henry wore. But the duke had another claim, which rendered him more formidable than, as heir-presumptive, he would ever have made himself; for, through his mother, Anne Mortimer, daughter of an Earl of March, he inherited the blood of Lionel of Clarence, elder brother of John of Gaunt, and, in this way, could advance claims to the English crown, which, in a hereditary point of view, were infinitely superior to those of the house of Lancaster.

Richard Plantagenet was nearly ten years older than King Henry. He first saw the light in 1412;[Pg 28] and, when a mere child, became, by the execution of his father, the Earl of Cambridge, at Southampton, and the fall of his uncle, the Duke of York, at Agincourt, heir of Edmund of Langley. His father's misfortune placed Richard, for a time, under attainder; but after the accession of Henry the dignities of the house of York were restored; and in 1424, on the death of Edmund, last of the Earls of March, the young Plantagenet succeeded to the feudal power of the house of Mortimer.

An illustrious pedigree and a great inheritance rendered York a most important personage; and, as years passed over, he was, by Gloucester's influence, appointed Regent of France. In that situation the duke bore himself like a brave leader in war and a wise ruler in peace; but, as it was feared that he would obstruct the surrender of Maine and Anjou, he was displaced by Suffolk, and succeeded by the Duke of Somerset, who, it was well known, would be most accommodating.

When York returned to England, the queen, not relishing a rival so near the throne, determined to send him out of the way. She, therefore, caused the duke to be appointed, for ten years, to the government of Ireland, and then dispatched armed men to seize him on the road and imprison him in the castle of Conway. York, however, was fortunate enough to escape the queen's snares; and, reaching[Pg 29] Ireland in safety, he not only gave peace to that country, but, by his skillful policy, won much favor among the inhabitants.

Time passed on; and the disappearance of Suffolk, of Beaufort, of Gloucester, and of Bedford from the theatre of affairs opened up a new scene. As minister of the king and favorite of the queen, Beaufort and Suffolk were succeeded by Somerset; as first prince of blood and hero of the people, Bedford and Gloucester were succeeded by York. Moreover, the absence of the duke from the country caused much discontent. "If," said the people, "he who brought the wild, savage Irish to civil fashions and English urbanity once ruled in England, he would depose evil counselors, correct evil judges, and reform all unamended matters."

Firmly established the house of Lancaster then was; but York had friends sufficiently powerful to make him a formidable rival to any dynasty. In youth he had married Cicely, daughter of Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmoreland; and, of all the English magnates of the fifteenth century, the Nevilles, who drew strength at once from an illustrious Saxon origin and distinguished Norman alliances, were by far the most powerful and popular.

The Nevilles derived the descent, in the male line, from the Anglo-Saxon Earls of Northumberland. Their ancestor, Cospatrick, figured in youth at the[Pg 30] court of Edward the Confessor, and, relishing neither the sway of Harold the Usurper, nor of William the Conqueror, passed most of his life in adversity and exile. After much suffering he died at Norham, on the south bank of the Tweed, and left two sons, who were more fortunate. One of these founded the house of Dunbar, whose chiefs for hundreds of years flourished with honor and renown; the other was grandfather of Robert Fitzmaldred, who married the heiress of the Nevilles, and was progenitor of that proud family, whose seat was long at Raby. About the beginning of the fifteenth century the house of Dunbar fell, and great was the fall thereof. About the beginning of the fifteenth century the Nevilles attained to the earldom of Westmoreland, and to a point of grandeur unrivaled among the nobles of England.

Among the chiefs of the house of Neville, Ralph, first Earl of Westmoreland, was one of the most important. His possessions were so extensive that, besides the castle of his Anglo-Saxon ancestors and those of Brancepath, Middleham, and Sheriff Hutton, inherited through Norman heiresses of great name, he possessed about fifty manor-houses; and his feudal following was so grand that, at times, he assembled in the great hall at Raby no fewer than seven hundred knights, who lived on his lands in time of peace, and followed his banner in war. Even the[Pg 31] earl's children were more numerous than those of his neighbors. He was twice married; and the Duchess of York, known among northern men as "The Rose of Raby," was the youngest of a family of twenty-two. John Neville, Ralph's eldest son by his first countess, was progenitor of those chiefs who, as Earls of Westmoreland, maintained baronial rank at Raby, till one of them risked and lost all in the great northern rebellion against Elizabeth. Richard Neville, Ralph's eldest son by his second countess, obtained the hand of the heiress of the Montagues, and with her hand their earldom of Salisbury and their vast possessions.

In the Continental wars and domestic struggles in which Englishmen indulged during the fifteenth century, Salisbury was recognized as a man of military prowess and political influence. But almost ere reaching middle age his fame grew pale before that of his eldest son, Richard Neville, who espoused the heiress of the Beauchamps, who, in her right, obtained the earldom of Warwick, and who, as time passed on, became celebrated throughout Europe as the king-maker.

At the name of "The Stout Earl," as the people of England proudly called him, the fancy conjures up a mail-clad man of the tallest stature and the most majestic proportions; with dark brown hair clustering over a magnificent head, resting firmly[Pg 32] and gracefully on mighty shoulders; a brow marked with thought, perhaps not without traces of care; a complexion naturally fair, but somewhat bronzed by exposure to the sun and wind; a frank and open countenance lighted up with an eye of deep blue, and reflecting the emotions of the soul, as clouds are reflected in a clear lake; and a presence so noble and heroic that, compared with him, the princes and peers of our day would sink into utter insignificance. Unfortunately, no portrait capable of conveying an adequate idea of Warwick's appearance exists for the instruction of our generation; but traditions and chronicles lead to the conclusion that, if a Vandyke or a Reynolds had existed in the fifteenth century to transmit to posterity the king-maker as, in form and feature, he appeared to his contemporaries in Westminster Hall, in Warwick Castle, or on Towton Field, such a portrait, by such an artist, would not belie our conceptions as to the personal grandeur of the warrior-statesman of medićval England.

But, however that might be, Warwick was the hero of his own times. From early youth he was in great favor with the people; and, as years passed on, his frankness, affability, sincerity, love of justice, and hatred of oppression endeared him to their hearts. In an age of falsehood and fraud, his word was never broken nor his honor tarnished. Even the lofty patrician pride, which rendered him an[Pg 33] object of mingled awe and envy to the Woodvilles, the Howards, and the Herberts, recommended him to the multitude; for the new men, whom the descendant of Cospatrick would not recognize as his peers, were the instruments used by despotic sovereigns to grind the faces of the poor. Moreover, Warwick's patriotism was ardent; and the nation remarked with gratification, that "The Stout Earl" was animated by all those English sympathies which, banished from courts and parliaments, still found a home in cottage and in grange.

Besides being the most patriotic, Warwick had the good fortune to be the richest, of England's patricians; and his immense revenues were expended in such a way that his praise as the people's friend was ever on the tongues of the poor and needy. His hospitality knew no bounds. The gate of his mansion in London stood open to all comers; six oxen were usually consumed at a breakfast; no human being was sent hungry away; and every fighting man had the privilege of walking into the kitchen and helping himself to as much meat as could be carried away on the point of a dagger. At the same time, thirty thousand persons are said to have feasted daily at the earl's mansions and castles in various parts of England.

And it was not merely as a patriot and a popular patrician that Richard Neville was distinguished, for[Pg 34] great was his renown as a warrior and a statesman. On fields of fight his bearing reminded men of the Paladins of romance; and when he broke, sword in hand, into foemen's ranks, the cry of "A Warwick! A Warwick!" did more service to his friends than could the lances of five hundred knights. While Warwick's martial prowess made him the idol of the soldiery, his capacity for affairs secured him general confidence and admiration. "The Stout Earl," said the people, "is able to do any thing, and without him nothing can be done well."

With such a friend as Warwick in England the Duke of York doubtless felt secure that his hereditary claims were in little danger of being quite forgotten during his absence. The duke was in Ireland, when an incident, immortalized by Shakspeare, gave life and color to the rival factions. One day a violent dispute as to the rights of the houses of York and Lancaster took place in the Temple Gardens. The disputants, "The Stout Earl" and the Duke of Somerset, appealed to their friends to take sides in the controversy; but these, being the barons of England, declined to enter upon such "nice sharp quillets of the law." Warwick thereupon plucked a white rose, and Somerset a red rose; and each asked his friends to follow his example. Thus originated the badges of the chiefs who involved England in that sanguinary struggle celebrated by poets and chroniclers as the Wars of the Roses.


[Pg 35]

CHAPTER III.

THE CAPTAIN OF KENT.

In the summer of 1450 there was a ferment among the commons of Kent. For some time, indeed, the inhabitants of that district of England had been discontented with the administration of affairs; but now they were roused to action by rumors that Margaret of Anjou, holding them responsible for the execution of Suffolk, had vowed revenge; that a process of extermination was to be forthwith commenced; and that the country, from the Thames to the Straits of Dover, was to be converted into a hunting-forest for the queen and her favorites.

About the middle of June, while the indignation of the Kentishmen was at its height, a military adventurer, who has since been known as "Jack Cade," but who called himself John Mortimer, and gave out that his mother was a Lacy, suddenly appeared among the malcontents, informed them that he was related to the Duke of York, and offered to be their captain. According to the chroniclers, he was "a young man of goodly stature, and pregnant wit," and he told his story so plausibly, that the[Pg 36] men of Kent believed he was York's cousin. Delighted with the notion of having found a Mortimer to lead them to battle, and to free them from oppression, the people crowded by thousands to his standard; and Cade, having assumed the title of Captain of Kent, arrayed them in good order, marched toward London, and encamped on Blackheath.

The men of Kent were not foes to be despised. They had ever claimed the privilege of marching in the van of England's army, and had so borne themselves on fields of fight, that their courage was beyond dispute. The determined spirit by which they were known to be animated rather daunted the court; and the king, in alarm, sent to ask why they had left their homes. Cade replied in a manner at which a government owing its existence to a revolution had little reason to take umbrage. He sent a document, entitled "Complaint of the Commons of Kent," containing a statement of grievances, demanding speedy redress, and requesting, in respectful language, the dismissal of the corrupt men by whom the king was surrounded, and the recall of "the Duke of York, late exiled from the royal presence."

The queen and her friends saw that something must be done, and that quickly. An army was, therefore, levied in the king's name; and, at the[Pg 37] head of it, Henry advanced to Blackheath; but Cade, wishing to draw the royal force into Kent, broke up his camp and retreated to the quiet old market-town of Sevenoaks. The queen, doubtless somewhat surprised at the storm she had raised, dreaded the possibility of the king being environed by the insurgents. She, therefore, deputed the danger of encountering Cade to a gallant knight named Humphrey Stafford, and, having done so, retired to Greenwich.

On receiving the queen's commands, Stafford, and some of the court gallants, put on their rich armor and gorgeous surcoats, mounted their horses, and, with a detachment of the royal army, dashed off to engage the insurgents, all eagerness, as it seemed, to bring back the leader's head as a trophy. On coming up with the foe, however, the ardor of the gay warriors rapidly cooled; for, in posting his troops in Sevenoaks Wood, the Captain of Kent had made his dispositions with such masterly skill, that the insurgents felt high confidence, and presented a formidable front. Nevertheless, Stafford did not shrink from an encounter. Boldly dashing onward, he attacked the Kentishmen in their strong-hold. His courage, however, was of no avail. At the very onslaught, he fell in front of his soldiers; and they, fighting with no good-will, allowed themselves to be easily defeated.

[Pg 38]

Proud of his victory, the Captain of Kent arrayed himself in Stafford's rich armor, advanced toward London, encamped once more on Blackheath, and threatened to attack the metropolis. His success had rendered him so popular a hero, that the Kentishmen, under the delusion that all abuses were to be reformed, called him "Captain Mendall;" and the inhabitants of Surrey and Sussex, catching the enthusiasm, crowded to his camp.

Margaret of Anjou had now cause for serious alarm. The royal army could no longer be relied on. Already many of the soldiers had deserted, and those who remained were asking, with indignation, why the Duke of York was not recalled. Aware of all this, the king deputed Humphrey Stafford, first Duke of Buckingham, a popular favorite, and a prince of the blood, to repair to Cade's camp, and expostulate with the rebels. The captain received the duke with all due respect, but declared that the insurgents could not lay down their arms, unless the king would hear their complaints in person, and pledge his royal word that their grievances should be redressed.

When Buckingham returned with Cade's answer to Greenwich, there was yet time for Henry to save his regal dignity. Had he been capable of laying aside his saintly theories for a few hours, bracing on his armor, mounting his steed, and riding forth with[Pg 39] words of courage and patriotism on his lips, he might have won back the hearts of his soldiers, and either scattered the insurgent army by force, or dissolved it by persuasion. To do this, a king of England did not require the animal courage of a Cœur de Lion, or the political genius of an English Justinian. Any of Henry's predecessors, even the second Edward or the second Richard, could have mustered spirit and energy sufficient for the occasion. But the monk-monarch, having neither spirit nor energy, quietly resigned himself to his fate; and the queen, terrified at the commotion her imprudences had raised, disbanded the royal army, charged Lord Scales to keep the Tower, and, leaving London to its fate, departed with her husband to seek security in the strong castle of Kenilworth. There was quite as little discretion as dignity in the king's precipitate retreat. The most devoted adherents of the Red Rose might well despair of the house of Lancaster standing long, when they heard that the son of the conqueror of Agincourt had fled before the ringleader of a rabble.

Not slow to take advantage of the king's absence, the Captain of Kent moved from Blackheath to Southwark. From that place he sent to demand entrance into London; and, after a debate in the Common Council, Sir Thomas Chalton, the mayor, intimated that no opposition would be offered. Accordingly, on the 3d of July, the insurgent leader[Pg 40] crossed London Bridge—the single bridge of which the capital then boasted—and led his followers into the city.

The inhabitants of London must have felt some degree of dismay. Both courtiers and citizens had an idea what a mob was—what violence and bloodshed the French capital had witnessed during the outbreaks of the Cabochiens—of what horrors each French province had been the scene during the Jacquerie. Moreover, the ruins of the Savoy, destroyed during Wat Tyler's insurrection, and towering gloomily on the spot now occupied by the northern approach to Waterloo Bridge, formed at least one memorial of what mischief even English peasants and artisans were capable, when roused by injustice and oppression. At first, however, the Captain of Kent displayed a degree of moderation hardly to have been anticipated. Arrayed in Stafford's splendid mail, he commenced his triumphal entry by indulging in a little harmless vanity.

"Now," said he, stopping, and striking his staff on London Stone, "now is Mortimer Lord of London."

"Take heed," said the mayor, who was standing on the threshold of his door, and witnessed the scene, "take heed that you attempt nothing against the quiet of the city."

"Sir," answered Cade, "let the world take notice of our honest intentions by our actions."

[Pg 41]

All that day the Captain of Kent appeared most anxious to gain the good opinion of the citizens. He issued proclamations against plunder, did his utmost to preserve discipline, and in the evening he marched quietly back to Southwark. Next morning, however, he returned; and, perhaps, no longer able to restrain the thirst of his followers for blood, he resolved to gratify them by the execution of "a new man."

Among the most obnoxious of the king's ministers was James Fiennes, who held the office of lord chamberlain, and enjoyed the dignity of Lord Say. The rapid rise of this peer to wealth and power had rendered him an object of dislike to the old nobility; and his connection with Suffolk's administration had rendered him an object of hatred to the people. Besides, he had lately purchased Knole Park, in the vicinity of Sevenoaks, and perhaps had, as lord of the soil, given offense to the commons of Kent by trenching on some of those privileges which they cherished so fondly.

Ere entering London, the insurgents had made up their minds to have Lord Say's head; and, aware of the odium attached to his name, the unpopular minister had taken refuge with Lord Scales in the Tower. Scales had seen much service in France, and highly distinguished himself in the wars of the fifth Henry; but now he had reached his fiftieth[Pg 42] summer; his bodily strength had decayed; and time had perhaps impaired the martial spirit that had animated his youthful exploits. At all events, instead of defending Lord Say to the last, as might have been expected, Scales allowed him to be taken from the Tower and carried to Guildhall, and on the ill-fated lord's arrival there the Captain of Kent compelled the mayor and aldermen to arraign him as a traitor. In vain Say protested against the proceeding, and demanded a trial by his peers. The captain twitted him with being a mock patrician, and insisted upon the judges condemning the "buckram lord." At length the insurgents lost patience, hurried their prisoner into Cheapside, and, having there beheaded him without farther ceremony, hastened to execute vengeance upon his son-in-law, Sir James Cromer, who, as sheriff of Kent, had incurred their displeasure.

Intoxicated with triumph as the Captain of Kent might be, the daring adventurer felt the reverse of easy while passing himself off as a Mortimer, and could not help dreading the consequence of his real origin being revealed to those whom he had deluded. Rumors were indeed creeping about that his name was Jack Cade; that he was a native of Ireland; that in his own country he had, for some time, lived in the household of a knight, but that having killed a woman and child he had entered the French[Pg 43] service, and acquired the military skill which he had displayed against Stafford. Moreover, some chroniclers state that, to preclude the possibility of exposure, he mercilessly executed those who were suspected to know any thing of his antecedents, and endeavored to insure the fidelity of his adherents by allowing them to perpetrate various kinds of enormity.

The citizens had hitherto submitted with patience; but on the 5th of July a provoking outrage roused them to resistance. On that day Cade, having gratified his vanity and satiated his thirst for blood, began to think of spoil. He commenced operations under peculiar circumstances. After dining with one of the citizens he requited the hospitality of his host by plundering the house, and the example of the captain was so faithfully followed by his men that the Londoners perceived the propriety of doing something for their defense. When, therefore, Cade led his forces back to Southwark for the night, and the shades of evening settled over London, the inhabitants took counsel with Lord Scales, and resolved upon fortifying the bridge so as to prevent his return.

While Cade was passing the night of the 5th of July at Southwark, reposing on his laurels, as it were, at the White Hart, news was carried to him that Lord Scales and the citizens were preparing to[Pg 44] resist his return. With characteristic decision the Captain of Kent sprang to arms, declared he should force a passage forthwith, mustered his men, and led them to the attack. Fortune, however, now declared against him. A fierce combat took place, and the citizens defended the bridge so courageously that after a struggle of six hours the insurgents were fain to retire to Southwark.

The courage of the mob now cooled; and the king's ministers determined to try the effect of promises never intended to be redeemed. Accordingly, William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, appeared with an offer of pardon to all who would return peaceably home. At first the insurgents were divided in opinion about accepting the bishop's terms; but Cade showed an inclination to grasp at the pardon, and finally all dispersed. The Captain of Kent, however, had as little intention as the government to act with honor; and within ten days he again appeared in Southwark with a considerable following. This time, however, the citizens, elate with victory, presented a firm front; and, dismayed at their threatening aspect, Cade retreated to Rochester. While there, terrified at the feuds of his followers, he learned with horror that a thousand marks had been offered for his apprehension; and, alarmed at the probability of being delivered up, he galloped across the country toward the coast of Sussex, and, for some time, wandered about in disguise.

[Pg 45]

The Captain of Kent was not destined to elude the vengeance of the government which he had defied. An esquire of the county, named Alexander Iden, pursued the despairing insurgent, and found him lurking in a garden at Rothfield. Cade did not yield to his fate without a struggle. Drawing his sword, he stood upon his defense; and both the captain and the esquire being men of strength and courage, a desperate conflict ensued. The victory, however, fell to Iden; and Cade's head, after being carried to the king, was set on London Bridge, his face turned toward the hills of Kent. Many of his companions, in spite of Bishop Waynflete's promise of pardon, were subsequently taken and executed as traitors.

Such was the end of a popular tumult, the origin of which remains in considerable obscurity. Some asserted that Jack Cade was merely an agent of Richard Plantagenet, and did not hesitate to describe "Captain Mendall" as "one of the Duke of York's firebrands." No evidence exists, however, to show that the "high and mighty prince," freely as his great name might have been used by the insurgents, had any thing to do with the enterprise. Nevertheless the insurrection was not without influence on the duke's fortunes, and it has ever been regarded as a prelude to the fierce struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster.


[Pg 46]

CHAPTER IV.

THE RIVAL DUKES.

About the end of August, 1451, a rumor reached the court of Westminster that the Duke of York had suddenly left Ireland. The queen was naturally somewhat alarmed; for, during Cade's insurrection, the duke's name had been used in such a way as to test his influence, and no doubt remained of the popularity he enjoyed among the commons.

Margaret of Anjou had no wish to see York in London. On the pretext, therefore, that the duke came with too large a force, the queen, at Somerset's instigation, dispatched Lord Lisle, son of the famous Talbot, to prevent his landing. York, however, eluded the vigilance of his enemies, made his way to London, paid his respects to the king, complained of the misgovernment under which the country was suffering; and, still mute as to his intentions, retired to Fotheringay, a castle which had been built by his ancestor, Edmund of Langley.

The absence of York from court exercised more influence in London than his presence could have done, and soon after his return from Ireland a member of the House of Commons boldly proposed that,[Pg 47] since Henry had no issue and no prospect of any, the duke should be declared heir to the throne. For his temerity this senator was committed to the Tower; but the Commons, who were not thus to be daunted, passed a bill of attainder against the deceased Duke of Suffolk, and presented a petition to the king for the dismissal of Somerset, who was Suffolk's successor and York's foe.

The name of the Duke of Somerset was Edmund Beaufort. He was the illegitimate grandson of John of Gaunt, nephew of Cardinal Beaufort, and brother of that fair damsel whom James, the poet-king of Scots, had wooed at Windsor, under circumstances so romantic. He had, for several years, been Regent of France, and in that capacity displayed considerable vigor; but the loss of Normandy occurred during his government, and this misfortune, coupled with his violent temper, and the fact of his enjoying the queen's favor, rendered Somerset's name as odious to the multitude as that of Suffolk had ever been. The queen, however, not being inclined to bow to popular opinion, resisted the demand of the House of Commons for her favorite's dismissal; and the strife between the parties was carried on with a degree of violence which, in any other country, would have produced immediate war and bloodshed.

The heir of the Plantagenets, however, recognized the necessity of acting with prudence. In fact, the[Pg 48] Lancastrian dynasty was still so much in favor with the nation that an attempt on York's part to seize the crown would inevitably have added to the power of his enemies; but in any efforts to put down Somerset, and the men whom that obnoxious minister used as the instruments of his tyranny, the duke well knew that he carried with him the hearts of the people and of those great patricians whom the people regarded as their natural leaders.

Though the Earl of Westmoreland adhered to the house of Lancaster the alliance of the other Nevilles would of itself have rendered York formidable; and, besides the Nevilles, there were many feudal magnates who shared York's antipathy to Somerset. Thomas, Lord Stanley, who had married Warwick's sister; John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, descended from a granddaughter of the first Edward; John De Vere, Earl of Oxford, whose ancestors had been great in England since the Conquest; and Thomas Courtenay, Earl of Devon, whose pedigree dated from the age of Charlemagne, could not witness without indignation the domination of Beauforts. "We are unwilling," such men must have murmured, "to see the court of Westminster converted into a sty for the brood of Katherine Swynford."

York, for some time, hesitated to strike a blow; but, at length, and not without reason, he lost all patience. Indeed, the Yorkists affirmed that a plot had been formed for imprisoning their chief, and[Pg 49] putting him secretly to death; and the memory of Humphrey of Gloucester's fate rendered people credulous of any such report. To baffle any such criminal project, a movement against Somerset was resolved upon by the partisans of the White Rose; and, about the opening of 1452, York repaired to his castle of Ludlow, gathered an army among the retainers of the house of Mortimer, and, declaring that he had no evil intentions against the king, to whom he offered to swear fealty on the sacrament, commenced his march toward London.

The Lancastrians were alarmed at the intelligence that the duke was in arms; and forces were mustered to intercept his march. But while the royal army went westward by one road York came eastward by another, and, with several thousand men at his back, appeared at the gates of London. The metropolis, however, had aided in that revolution which placed Henry of Bolingbroke on the throne, and still continued well affected to the house of Lancaster. York did not, therefore, meet with such a reception as his friends could have wished. The gates, in fact, were shut in his face; and, not wishing to exasperate the citizens by acts of violence, he marched up the banks of the Thames, crossed the river at Kingston, and, having been joined by the Earl of Devon, encamped his army on Brent Heath, near Dartford.

[Pg 50]

Henry, meantime, ventured on taking the field, and pitched his pavilion on Blackheath. It soon appeared, however, that on neither side was there any inclination to involve the country in civil war. Negotiations were therefore opened; and two bishops, commissioned to act for the king, proceeded to the camp of the Yorkists and demanded of their chief why he had appeared in arms.

The duke, who would seem to have been unaware of the utter insincerity of his enemies, answered that repeated attempts had been made to effect his ruin, and that he was in arms for his own safety. The bishops, who well knew how truly York spoke, admitted that he had been watched with a jealous eye, but assigned as a reason that the treasonable talk of his adherents justified suspicion. On the king's part, however, they acquitted him of all treason, saying that Henry esteemed him as a true man and well-beloved cousin; and York, maintaining a high tone, insisted that all persons who had broken the laws of the realm, especially those who had been indicted for treason, should be put upon their trial. The demand was so reasonable that compliance could not with decency be refused; and Henry, having promised that every offender should be punished, issued an order for the apprehension of Somerset, and gave York to understand that he should have a place in the council.

[Pg 51]

Far from doubting the king's good faith, York disbanded his army, and agreed to a personal interview with his royal kinsman. The result was not the most satisfactory. It proved beyond question that, however saintly his theories, Henry was capable of acting with an utter disregard of honor—that he had little sympathy with the fine sentiment of his ancestor, John de Valois, who, when advised to violate a treaty with our third Edward, exclaimed: "Were truth and sincerity banished from every part of the earth, they ought yet to be found in the mouths and the hearts of kings." It appears that the queen had concealed Somerset behind the arras of the king's tent, and no sooner did York enter, and repeat what he had said to the two bishops, than the favorite, stepping from behind a curtain, offered to prove his innocence, and called York liar and traitor.

The scene which followed may easily be imagined. Somerset was violent and insolent; Henry, alarmed and silent; York, indignant and scornful. The duke could now entertain no doubt that he had been betrayed; but his courage did not desert him. He retorted Somerset's epithets with interest, and was turning haughtily to take his departure, when informed that he was a captive. Somerset then proposed a summary trial and execution; but the courtiers shrunk from the opprobrium of another murder.[Pg 52] The king, who, save in the case of Lollards, had no love of executions, took the more moderate view; and the duke, instead of perishing on the scaffold, was sent as a state prisoner to the Tower of London.

While the queen and her friends were still bent on York's destruction, a rumor that his eldest son Edward, the boy-Earl of March, was coming from Ludlow at the head of a strong body of Welshmen, filled the council with alarm. The duke was thereupon set at liberty, and, after making his submission, allowed to retire to the borders of Wales. Having reached the dominions of the Mortimers, the heir-presumptive sought refuge within the walls of the castles of Wigmore and Ludlow, repressed ambitious longings and patriotic indignation, and, for the restoration of better days to himself and his country, trusted to the chapter of accidents and the course of events.


[Pg 53]

CHAPTER V.

THE KING'S MALADY.

In the autumn of 1453 the queen was keeping her court at Clarendon; the Duke of York was at Wigmore and at Ludlow, maintaining a state befitting the heir of the Mortimers; the barons were at their moated castles, complaining gloomily of Henry's indolence and Somerset's insolence; and the people were expressing the utmost discontent at the mismanagement that had, after a brave struggle, in which Talbot and his son, Lord Lisle, fell, finally lost Gascony; when a strange gloom settled over the countenances of the Lancastrians, and mysterious rumors crept about as to the king's health. At length the terrible truth came out, and the Yorkists learned that Henry was suffering from an eclipse of reason, similar to that which had afflicted his maternal grandsire, the sixth Charles of France. In this state he was slowly removed from Clarendon to Westminster.

About a month after the king's loss of reason, there occurred another event, destined to exercise great influence on the rival parties. At Westminster, on the 14th of October, 1453, Margaret of[Pg 54] Anjou, after having been for eight years a wife, without being a mother, gave birth to an heir to the English crown; and the existence of this boy, destined to an end so tragic, while reviving the courage of the Lancastrians, inspired the partisans of the White Rose with a resolution to adopt bold measures on behalf of their chief.

[Pg 55] BIRTH OF EDWARD OF LANCASTER.
[Pg 56]BIRTH OF EDWARD OF LANCASTER.

At first, indeed, the Yorkists altogether refused to believe in the existence of the infant prince. When, however, that could no longer be denied, they declared that there had been unfair play. Finally, they circulated reports injurious to Margaret's honor as a queen and reputation as a woman; and rumor, which, ere this, had whispered light tales of René's daughter, took the liberty of ascribing to Somerset the paternity of her son. Such scandals were calculated to repress loyal emotions; and the courtiers attempted to counteract the effect by giving the child a popular name. Accordingly, the little prince, who had first seen the light on St. Edward's Day, was baptized by that name, which was dear to the people, as having been borne by the last Anglo-Saxon king, and by the greatest of the Plantagenets. Nobody, however, appears to have supposed that because the boy was named Edward, he would, therefore, prove equal in wisdom and valor to the English Justinian, or the conqueror of Cressy, or "the valiant and gentle[Pg 57] Prince of Wales, the flower of all chivalry in the world."

The insanity of the king, naturally enough, brought about the recall of York to the council; and when Parliament met in February, 1454, the duke having, as Royal Commissioner, opened the proceedings, the peers determined to arrive at a knowledge of the king's real condition, which the queen had hitherto endeavored to conceal. An opportunity soon occurred.

On the 2d of March, 1454, John Kempe, Primate and Chancellor of England, breathed his last. On such occasions it was customary for the House of Lords to confer personally with the sovereign, and, accordingly, Henry being then at Windsor, twelve peers were deputed to go thither for that purpose. Their reception was not gracious; but they insisted on entering the castle, and found the king utterly incapable of comprehending a word. Three several times they presented themselves in his chamber, but in vain; and, returning to London, free from any doubts, they made a report to the House which convinced the most incredulous. "We could get," said they, "no answer or sign from him for no prayer nor desire." At the request of the twelve peers, this report was entered on the records of Parliament; and, ere two days passed, Richard, Duke of York, was nominated Protector of England. His[Pg 58] power was to continue until the king recovered, or, in the event of Henry's malady proving incurable, till young Edward came of age.

The duke, when intrusted by Parliament with the functions of Protector, exercised the utmost caution; and, while accepting the duties of the office, was careful to obtain from his peers the most explicit declaration that he only followed their noble commandments. It is true that one of his first acts was to intrust the great seal to the Earl of Salisbury; but, on the whole, his moderation was conspicuous; and the claims of Prince Edward, as heir of England, having been fully recognized, he was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, and a splendid provision was made for his maintenance.

With York at the head of the government, matters went smoothly till the close of 1454; but in the month of December the king's recovery threw every thing into disorder. About Christmas Henry awoke as from a confused dream; and, on St. John's Day, he sent his almoner with an offering to Canterbury, and his secretary on a similar errand to the shrine of St. Edward.

The queen's hopes were now renewed and her ambitions stimulated. Having in vain endeavored to conceal the plight of her husband from the nation, she marked his restoration with joy, and presented[Pg 59] the prince to him with maternal pride. Henry was, perhaps, slightly surprised to find himself the father of a fine boy; but, manifesting a proper degree of paternal affection, he asked by what name his heir had been called. The queen replied that he had been named Edward; and the king, holding up his hands, thanked God that such was the case. He was then informed that Cardinal Kempe was no more; and he remarked, "Then one of the wisest lords in the land is dead."

The king's recovery was bruited about; and, on the morning after Twelfth Day, William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, paid the royal invalid a visit. Henry spoke to him as rationally as ever he had been capable of doing; declaring, moreover, that he was in charity with all the world, and wished his lords were in the same frame of mind. The bishop, on leaving the king, was so affected that he wept for joy; the news spread from Thames to Tweed; and, from Kent to Northumberland, the partisans of the Red Rose congratulated each other on the return of good fortune.


[Pg 60]

CHAPTER VI.

THE BATTLE OF ST. ALBANS.

When Henry recovered from his malady York resigned the Protectorship, and Margaret of Anjou again became all-powerful. The circumstances were such that the exercise of moderation, toward friends and foes, would have restored the Lancastrian queen to the good opinion of her husband's subjects. Unfortunately for her happiness, Margaret allowed prejudice and passion to hurry her into a defiance of law and decency.

It happened that, during the king's illness, Somerset had been arrested in the queen's great chamber, and sent to keep his Christmas in the Tower, as a preliminary to his being brought to trial. No sooner, however, did Margaret regain authority, than her favorite was set at liberty; and people learned with indignation that, instead of having to answer for his offenses against the state, the unworthy noble was to be appointed Captain-general of Calais. After this, the Yorkists became convinced that the sword alone could settle the controversy; and, about the spring of 1455, the duke, repairing to Ludlow, summoned, for the second time,[Pg 61] his retainers, and prepared to display his banner in actual war against the royal standard of England. He had soon the gratification of being joined by the two great Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, by John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, and by other men whose rank and nobility lent lustre to the cause. Having armed and arrayed the Marchmen of Wales, York advanced toward the capital.

War was now inevitable; and Somerset did not shrink from a conflict with the prince whose life he had sought and whose vengeance he had defied. A Lancastrian army was forthwith assembled; and at its head Henry and Somerset, accompanied by many men of influence, marched from London to face the Yorkists in fight. Sir Philip Wentworth bore the royal standard; and with the king went Humphrey, Duke of Buckingham, and his son, Earl Stafford; James Butler, chief of the house of Ormond, whom Henry had created Earl of Wiltshire; Thomas, Lord Clifford, from the Craven; and Hotspur's son, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, who, having in youth been restored by Henry the Fifth, now went out, at the age of threescore, to fight for the crown worn by Henry's son. The people, however, held aloof from the contest; and the army of the Red Rose, composed entirely of nobles, with their knights, and squires, and fighting men, does not appear to have exceeded two thousand in number.

[Pg 62]

The king had not far to go in search of his kinsman. After passing the night of Thursday, the 22d of May, at Watford, and proceeding next morning to St. Albans, the Lancastrians, when about to continue their march, perceived that the hills in front of them were covered with armed men, who moved rapidly in battle order toward the ancient historic town. On observing the approach of the Yorkist foe, the Lancastrian leaders halted, set up the royal standard, placed troops under the command of Lord Clifford to guard the barriers, and sent the Duke of Buckingham to confer with the White Rose chiefs, who had encamped at Heyfield.

Richard Plantagenet, though a warrior of the highest courage, had no relish for bloodshed; and he did not forget that those to whom he now stood opposed were Englishmen like himself. When, therefore, Buckingham went, in Henry's name, to demand why York thus appeared before his sovereign in hostile array, the duke professed great loyalty, and replied that he would at once lay down his arms if the king would surrender Somerset to justice.

Buckingham, whose affection for the Beauforts was not excessive, carried this answer to Henry; and the duke's demand for the surrender of the queen's favorite produced an effect which could hardly have been anticipated. For once the monk-monarch showed some spark of the Plantagenet, expressed[Pg 63] the utmost scorn at the message, and swore by St. Edward, as if he had been a conqueror of Evesham, "that he would as soon deliver up his crown as either Somerset or the meanest soldier in his camp."

Every prospect of an accommodation was now dissipated; and the warriors of the White Rose, who had remained inactive for three hours, prepared for an encounter. Having addressed his adherents, York advanced, with banners streaming and clarions sounding, and at noon commenced that struggle, which, thirty years later, was terminated on the field of Bosworth.

From occupying St. Albans the Lancastrians had the advantage of position, and such hopes of victory that Somerset's men were ordered to put to death all the Yorkists who should be taken prisoners. Moreover, Clifford made a brave defense, and for a time the duke was kept in check at the barriers. The Yorkists, among other weapons of offense, had guns; and Warwick and Salisbury had such a degree of skill in using them as their enemies could not boast of. Yet so steadily were they resisted by Clifford that the prospect of coming to close conflict with the foe appeared distant; and the partisans of York looked somewhat blank. But Warwick was not a man to yield to obstacles. Leading his soldiers round part of the hill on which St. Albans is situated, that great war-chief broke down a high[Pg 64] wall, ordered his trumpets to sound, crossed the gardens which the wall inclosed, and, shouting "A Warwick! A Warwick!" charged forward upon the recoiling foe. On the Lancastrian ranks Warwick's presence produced an immediate impression; and the barriers having been burst, the Yorkists, encouraged by "The Stout Earl's" war-cry, rushed into the town, and came face to face with their foes.

A conflict now took place among the houses, in the lanes, in the streets, and in the market-place. The fight was fierce, as could not fail to be the case in a struggle between men who had long cherished, while restraining, their mortal hate; and the ancient town was soon strewn with traces of the battle, and crimsoned with the blood of the slain. The king's friends made a desperate resistance; and delayed the victory till the clash of mail reached the monks in the abbey. But Warwick cheered on archer and spearman to the assault; and York, not to be baffled, re-enforced every party that was hard-pressed, and pressed forward fresh warriors to relieve the weary and the wounded. Humphrey, Earl Stafford, bit the dust; Clifford fell, to be cruelly avenged on a more bloody day; and Northumberland, who had seen so many years and fought so many battles, died under the weapons of his foes.

Somerset appears at first to have fought with a courage worthy of the reputation he had won on[Pg 65] the Continent; and on hearing that Clifford's soldiers were giving way before Warwick's mighty onslaught he rushed gallantly to the rescue. The chief of the Beauforts, however, did not live to bring aid to the men of the Craven. Years before, the Lancastrian duke had been admonished by a fortune-teller to beware of a castle; and, finding himself suddenly under a tavern bearing that sign, the warning occurred to his memory. Superstitious like his neighbors, Somerset lost his presence of mind, gave himself up for lost, became bewildered, and was beaten down and slain. The fortune of the day being decidedly against the Red Rose, the Earl of Wiltshire cast his harness into a ditch and spurred fast from the lost field; while Sir Philip Wentworth, equally careful of his own safety, threw away the royal standard, and fled toward Suffolk. The Lancastrians, beaten and aware of Somerset's fall, rushed through the gardens and leaped over hedges, leaving their arms in the ditches and woods that they might escape the more swiftly.

Ere this Henry had been wounded in the neck by an arrow. Sad and sorrowful, he sought shelter in a thatched house occupied by a tanner. Thither, fresh from victory, went the duke; and treated his vanquished kinsman with every respect. Kneeling respectfully, the conqueror protested his loyalty, and declared his readiness to obey the king. "Then,"[Pg 66] said Henry, "stop the pursuit and slaughter, and I will do whatever you will." The duke, having ordered a cessation of hostilities, led the king to the abbey; the royal kinsmen, after praying together before the shrine of England's first martyr, journeyed to London; and Margaret of Anjou, then with her son at Greenwich, learned, with dismay, that her favorite was a corpse and her husband a captive. At such a time, while shedding tears of bitterness and doubt within the palace built by Humphrey of Gloucester, the young queen must have reflected, with remorse, on the part she had taken against "The Good Duke," and considered how different a face affairs might have worn in 1455, if she had not, in 1447, consented to the violent removal of the last stately pillar that supported the house of Lancaster.


[Pg 67]

CHAPTER VII.

THE QUEEN AND THE YORKIST CHIEFS.

When the battle of St. Albans placed the king and kingdom of England under the influence of the Yorkists, the duke and his friends exercised their authority with a moderation rarely exhibited in such circumstances. No vindictive malice was displayed against the vanquished; not a drop of blood flowed on the scaffold; not an act of attainder passed the Legislature. Every thing was done temperately and in order.

As Henry was again attacked by his malady he was intrusted to Margaret's care, and York was again declared Protector of the realm, with a provision that he was to hold the office, not as before at the king's pleasure, but until discharged from it by the Lords in Parliament. Salisbury was, at the same time, intrusted with the Great Seal; and Warwick was appointed to the government of Calais. Comines calls Calais "the richest prize in the crown of England;" and the government of the city was an office of greater trust and profit than any which an English sovereign had to bestow.

Margaret of Anjou, however, was not quite absorbed[Pg 68] in her duties as wife and mother. While educating her helpless son and tending her yet more helpless husband, she was bent on a struggle for the recovery of that power which she had already so fatally abused; and as necessity alone had made her submit to the authority of York and his two noble kinsmen, who were satirized as the "Triumvirate," she seized the earliest opportunity of ejecting them from power.

One day in spring, while the queen was pondering projects of ambition, and glowing with anticipations of vengeance, two noblemen of high rank and great influence appeared at the palace of Greenwich. One of these was Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham; the other, Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset; and their errand was to confer with Queen Margaret on the present state of affairs. The queen received them with open arms, expressed haughty scorn of her potent foes, and reminded Buckingham of the son he had lost at St. Albans, and Somerset of the father he had lost on the same fatal day. The dukes, having listened to all this, represented to Margaret the indignity to which the king was subjected in being deprived of all share in the government, while York and his accomplices managed every thing according to their pleasure. The queen heard her friends with delight, vowed that the triumph of the Yorkist chiefs should be brief, and resolved upon acting without delay.

[Pg 69]

Accordingly it was determined to hold a council; and the enemies of York were summoned to Greenwich. After some debate as to the most politic method of restoring the royal authority, the council resolved that York should be commanded to resign the office of protector, seeing that the king was of years and discretion sufficient to rule without a guardian, and that Salisbury should be commanded to surrender the post of chancellor. "The great seal," they said, "had never been in his custody, that which he used having been made since the king's restraint." Henry, for whose opinion none of the Lancastrians had any respect, was easily prevailed upon to give his sanction to their measures, and York and Salisbury were discharged from their high offices, and summoned to appear before the council.

The duke and the earl were much too wise to place themselves in the power of enemies who had, on former occasions, proved so unscrupulous. They answered boldly that there existed no power to displace them or command their appearance, save in Parliament. When, however, the houses assembled after Christmas, 1456, Henry presented himself and demanded back his regal power. Every body was surprised; but no doubt was expressed as to the king's sanity, and York, without a murmur, resigned the protectorship.

[Pg 70]

The queen was not content with having deprived the duke and the earl of power. Her ideas of revenge went far beyond such satisfaction; and she occupied her brain with schemes for putting her enemies under her feet. Feigning indifference to affairs of state, the artful woman pretended to give herself up entirely to the restoration of the king's health, and announced her intention of affording Henry an opportunity to indulge in pastimes likely to restore him to vigor of mind and body.

On this pretext the king and queen made a progress into Warwickshire, hunting and hawking by the way, till they reached Coventry. While residing in that ancient city, and keeping her court in the Priory, the queen wrote letters, in affectionate terms, to York, Salisbury, and Warwick, earnestly entreating them to visit the king on a certain day; and the duke, with the two earls, suspecting no evil, obeyed the summons, and rode toward Coventry. On approaching the city, however, they received warning that foul play was intended, and, turning aside, escaped the peril that awaited them. York, unattended save by his groom and page, made for Wigmore; Salisbury repaired to Middleham, a great castle of the Nevilles in Yorkshire; and Warwick took shipping for Calais, which soon became his strong-hold and refuge.

Totally unaware of the mischief projected by his[Pg 71] spouse, but sincerely anxious for a reconciliation of parties, Henry resolved on acting as peace-maker, and, with that view, summoned a great council. The king was all eagerness to reconcile York and his friends with the Beauforts, Percies, and Cliffords, whose kinsmen had been slain at St. Albans; and he swore upon his salvation so to entertain the duke and the two earls, that all discontent should be removed. London was fixed upon as the place of meeting; and, at the head of five thousand armed men, the mayor undertook to prevent strife.

Accompanied by a number of friends and followers, York entered the capital, and repaired to Baynard's castle; the Earl of Salisbury arrived, with a feudal following, at his mansion called the Harbor; and Warwick, landing from Calais, rode into the city, attended by six hundred men, with his badge, the ragged staff, embroidered on each of their red coats, and took possession of his residence near the Grey Friars.

At the same time, the Lancastrian nobles mustered strong. Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset; Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland; and John, "the black-faced" Lord Clifford, came riding toward London, in feudal array, attended by hundreds of the men of the west, of Northumberland, and of the Craven. Each of the three had lost a father in the first battle of the Roses; and, albeit[Pg 72] young and vigorous, they were to pour out their heart's blood in the struggle, ere a few years passed over. But in no wise apprehensive did they seem, as they alighted at their respective lodgings to the west of Temple Bar. Thither, at the same time, came Exeter, Buckingham, and Thomas Percy, Lord Egremont, a younger son of that Earl of Northumberland slain at St. Albans. Devon would have been in London also; but, while on his way, he fell sick, and died in the Abbey of Abingdon.

One circumstance connected with this attempt at pacification was particularly noticed. While the Yorkists lodged in the city, the Beauforts, Percies, and Cliffords, sojourned on the west of Temple Bar; and while one party held their deliberations in the Black Friars, the other held their meetings in the Chapter House at Westminster. The wits of the period had their joke on the occasion, and said, that as the Jews disdained the company of the Samaritans, so the Lancastrian lords abhorred the idea of familiarity with the White Rose chiefs.

The farce was played out. The king, who, during the conferences, resided at Berkhamstead and acted as umpire, in due time gave his award. The Yorkists appear to have had scanty justice. They were heavily mulcted, for the benefit of their living foes, and ordered to build a chapel for the good of the souls of the lords slain at St. Albans. Every body,[Pg 73] however, appeared satisfied, and agreed to a religious procession to St. Paul's, that they might convince the populace how real was the concord that existed. The day of the Conception was appointed for this ceremony; and, to take part in it, the king and queen came from Berkhamstead to London.

The procession was so arranged as to place in the position of dear friends those whose enmity was supposed to be the bitterest. The king, with a crown on his head, and wearing royal robes, was naturally the principal figure. Before him, hand in hand, walked Salisbury and Somerset, Warwick and Exeter. Behind him came York leading Margaret of Anjou. The citizens were, perhaps, convinced that Yorkists and Lancastrians were the best of friends. All was delusion, however, naught was truth. Though their hands were joined their hearts were far asunder, and the blood already shed cried for vengeance. Stern grew the brows of Lancastrian lords, pale the cheeks of Lancastrian ladies, at the mention of St. Albans. The Beauforts, Percies, and Cliffords, still panted for vengeance, and vowed to have an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.[3]

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The procession to St. Paul's took place in spring, and ere the summer was over events dissipated the illusions which the scene created. Warwick, as Captain of Calais, interfered with some ships belonging to the Hanse Towns; and of this the Hanseatic League complained to the court of England, as an infraction of the law of nations. The earl was asked for explanations; and to render them more clearly presented himself at Westminster.

The opportunity for a quarrel was too favorable to be neglected. One day, when Warwick was attending the council at Westminster, a yeoman of his retinue, having been struck by one of the royal household, wounded his assailant. The king's servants assembling at the news watched until the earl was returning from the council to his barge, and set upon him with desperate intentions. A fray ensued, and Warwick, with some difficulty, escaped in a wherry to London. Unfortunately, the mischief did not end here. The queen, having heard of the affair, acted with characteristic imprudence, and ordered[Pg 75] Warwick to be sent to the Tower, and a cry was therefore raised that "The Foreign Woman," who had murdered "The Good Duke Humphrey," was going to murder "The Stout Earl." Warwick, however, consulted his safety by making for Yorkshire, where he took counsel with York and Salisbury. After this conference he passed over to Calais, and during the winter employed himself in embodying some veteran troops who had served under Bedford and Talbot in the wars of France.


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CHAPTER VIII.

THE CITY AND THE COURT.

One day, in the year 1456, a citizen of London, passing along Cheapside, happened to meet an Italian carrying a dagger. The citizen was a young merchant who had lately been on the Continent, and who had, in some of the Italian states, been prohibited by the magistrates from wearing a weapon, even for the defense of his life. Naturally indignant at seeing an Italian doing in the capital of England what an Englishman was not allowed to do in the cities of Italy, the merchant ventured upon stopping the foreigner and reminding him of the laws of his own country.

Not having any relish for being thus challenged, the Italian answered with some degree of insolence; and the Englishman, stung to the quick, forcibly seized the dagger of the foreigner, "and," according to the chroniclers of the period, "with the same a little cut his crown and cracked his pate." Enraged at this assault, the Italian complained of the outrage to the lord mayor; and the Englishman, having been summoned to the court at Guildhall, was committed to Newgate.

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Between the London merchants of that day and the foreigners carrying on business in London no good-will existed. Free trade was not the fashion of the age; and the inhabitants of the city, hating the Italians for interfering with their commerce, were ready on any fitting occasion to rise to the tune of "England for the English." No sooner, therefore, was it known that an Englishman had been incarcerated for breaking an Italian's head than he was regarded as a martyr to his patriotism; and the Londoners, assembling in crowds, compelled the mayor to deliver the merchant from prison, and took the opportunity of attacking the houses of all the Italians in London. The mayor, in the utmost alarm, summoned the elder and graver of the citizens to his assistance; and these, with much difficulty, prevailed on the crowd to disperse to their homes. As for the merchant, not seeing any security under the circumstances, he repaired to Westminster, and there took refuge in the sanctuary.

The riot in London created considerable sensation; and, unfortunately, the queen, as if she had not already business enough on her hands, took upon herself to interfere, and expressed her intention of inflicting signal punishment on the offenders. With that purpose in view, she instructed two of her dukes, Buckingham and Exeter, to proceed to the city; and these noblemen, with the mayor and two justices, opened a commission at Guildhall.

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At first the business was conducted with all due form, and the inquiry was ceremoniously prosecuted. Suddenly, however, a great change occurred in the city. Bow bell was rung, and at its sound the streets filled with armed men, who appeared bent on mischief. The queen's high-born commissioners were, doubtless, as much taken by surprise as if Jack Cade had come to life again; and, probably, not unmindful of Lord Say's fate, they abandoned the inquiry in a state of trepidation hardly consisting with the dignity of a Stafford and a Holland. The city, however, was nothing the worse for their absence; indeed, the lord mayor, having thus got rid of his lordly coadjutors, called some discreet citizens to his aid, and dealt so prudently with the multitude, that order was restored and justice satisfied.

The part enacted by the queen, in regard to the quarrel between the English and Italians, destroyed the last particle of affection which the inhabitants of London entertained for the house of Lancaster; and Margaret, for many reasons, began to prefer Coventry to the metropolis. This, however, was not the only result of her interference. In the eyes of foreigners it elevated the riot to the dignity of an insurrection, the French mistaking it for one of those revolutions in which the Parisians, under the auspices of Jean de Troyes and Jean Caboche, were in the habit of indulging during the reign of the unfortunate Charles.

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The French were excusable in their delusion. With an insane king and a reckless queen in both cases the parallel was somewhat close. But the French soon discovered their mistake. Having fitted out two expeditions to avail themselves of our domestic disorders, they intrusted one to Lord de Pomyers, and the other to Sir Peter de Brezé. Pomyers landed on the coast of Cornwall, and having burned Towey, sailed back to France without doing serious mischief. Brezé, with four thousand men, embarked at Honfleur, made a descent on Sandwich, and proceeded to spoil the town, which had been deserted by its defenders on account of the plague; but, the country people in the neighborhood arriving in great numbers, the invaders were fain to return to their ships.

Such was the end of the riot in London; and from that time the metropolitan populace adhered to the chiefs of the White Rose; and to that badge of hereditary pride and personal honor they clung with fidelity long after it had lost its bloom in the atmosphere of a corrupt court, and been dyed red on scaffold and battle-field in the blood of the noble and the brave.


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CHAPTER IX.

A YORKIST VICTORY AND A LANCASTRIAN REVENGE.

In the summer of 1459 Margaret of Anjou carried the Prince of Wales on a progress through Chester, of which he was earl. The queen's object being to enlist the sympathies of the men of the north, she caused her son, then in his sixth year, to present a silver swan, which had been assumed as his badge, to each of the principal adherents of the house of Lancaster. Margaret had left the County Palatine, and was resting from her fatigues at Eccleshall, in Staffordshire, when she received intelligence that the Yorkists were in motion; that the duke was arraying the retainers of Mortimer beneath the Plantagenet banner; that Warwick was on his way from Calais with a body of warriors trained to arms by Bedford and Talbot; and that Salisbury, at the head of five thousand merry men of Yorkshire, was moving from Middleham Castle to join his son and his brother-in-law at Ludlow.

Notwithstanding the rout of her friends at St. Albans, Margaret was not daunted at the prospect of another trial of strength. Perhaps, indeed, she rather rejoiced that the Yorkist chiefs afforded a fair[Pg 81] opportunity of executing her vengeance and effecting their ruin. Her measures, with that purpose, were taken with characteristic promptitude. She issued orders to James Touchet, Lord Audley, to intercept Salisbury's march; and at the same time summoned Thomas, Lord Stanley, to join the Lancastrian army with all his forces. Stanley, who was son-in-law of Salisbury, answered that he would come in all haste, but failed to keep his promise. Audley, however, exhibited more devotion to the Red Rose. On receiving the queen's commands, he undertook to bring her one Yorkist chief dead or alive; and hastily assembling a force of ten thousand men in Cheshire and Shropshire, boldly threw himself between the earl and the duke. On the evening of Saturday, the 22d of September, Audley came face to face with Salisbury at Bloreheath, within a short distance of Drayton, anciently the seat of those Bassets who fought with so much distinction in the wars of the first Edward.

The position of the Yorkists was the reverse of pleasant. The Lancastrian army was greatly superior in number, and Audley had the advantage of being posted by the side of a stream, of which the banks were particularly steep. But Salisbury was not to be baffled. Seeing that there was little prospect of success in the event of his crossing to attack, the earl resolved on a military stratagem,[Pg 82] and gave orders that his army should encamp for the night.

Early on the morning of Sunday—it was St. Tecla's Day—Salisbury set his men in motion; and, having caused his archers to send a flight of shafts across the river toward Audley's camp, feigned to retreat. Audley soon showed that he was no match for such an enemy. Completely deceived, the Lancastrian lord roused his troops to action, caused his trumpets to sound, and gave orders for his army passing the river. His orders were promptly obeyed. The men of Cheshire, who composed the van, dashed into the water, and plunged through the stream; but scarcely had they commenced ascending the opposite banks when Salisbury turned, and attacked them with that degree of courage against which superiority of numbers is vain. The battle was, nevertheless, maintained for hours, and proved most sanguinary. The loss of the Yorkists was indeed trifling,[4] but more than two thousand of the Red[Pg 83] Rose warriors perished in the encounter. Audley himself was slain, and with him some of the foremost gentlemen of Cheshire and Lancashire, among whom were the heads of the families of Venables, Molyneux, Legh, and Egerton. The queen, who witnessed the defeat of her adherents from the tower of a neighboring church, fled back to digest her mortification at Eccleshall.

The Earl of Salisbury soon found that his success was calculated to convert neutrals into allies. Lord Stanley, on receiving the queen's message, had gathered a force of two thousand men; but, being reluctant to commit himself on either side, he contrived, on the day of battle, to be six miles from the scene of action. On hearing of the result, however, he sent a congratulatory letter to his father-in-law; and Salisbury, showing the epistle to Sir John Harrington, and others of his knights, said, jocosely, "Sirs, be merry, for we have yet more friends."

The contest between York and Lancaster now assumed a new aspect. Salisbury, rejoicing in a victory so complete as that of Bloreheath, formed a junction with York at Ludlow; and the duke, perceiving that moderation had been of so little avail,[Pg 84] and believing that his life would be in danger so long as Margaret of Anjou ruled England, resolved henceforth upon pursuing a bolder course. He could not help remembering that he was turned of forty, an age at which, as the poet tells us, there is no dallying with life; and he began to consider that the time had arrived to claim the crown which was his by hereditary right.

Having resolved no longer, by timidity in politics, to play the game of his enemies, York set up his standard and summoned his friends to Ludlow. Fighting men came from various parts of England, and assembled cheerily and in good order at the rendezvous; while, to take part in the civil war, Warwick brought from Calais those veterans who, in other days, had signalized their valor against foreign foes. The projects of the Yorkists seemed to flourish. Salisbury's experience, knowledge, and military skill were doubtless of great service to his friends; and having thrown up intrenchments, and disposed in battery a number of bombards and cannon, they confidently awaited the enemy.

Meanwhile, the Lancastrians were by no means in despair. The king, having, with the aid of the young Dukes of Somerset and Exeter, drawn together a mighty army at Worcester, sent the Bishop of Salisbury to promise the Yorkists a general pardon if they would lay down their arms. The Yorkists,[Pg 85] however, had learned by severe experience what the king's promises were worth, and received the bishop like men who were no longer to be deluded. "So long," said they, "as the queen has supreme power, we have no faith in the king's pardon; but," they added, "could we have assurance of safety, we should express our loyalty, and humbly render ourselves at the king's service."

The king, having received the answer of the insurgent chiefs, advanced on the 13th of October to the Yorkist camp, and made proclamation, that whoever abandoned the duke should have the royal pardon. Though this appeared to be without effect, the king's army did not commence the attack. Indeed, the Yorkist ranks were most imposing, and the duke's guns wrought considerable havoc in the Lancastrian lines. Observing the formidable attitude of his foes, the king resolved to delay the assault until the morrow; and, ere the sun again shone, an unexpected incident had changed the face of matters, and thrown the Yorkists into utter confusion.

Among those who heard the king's proclamation was Andrew Trollope, captain of the veterans whom Warwick had brought from Calais. This mighty man-at-arms had served long in the French wars, and cared not to draw his sword against the son of the Conqueror of Agincourt. After listening to the king's offers of pardon, and considering the consequences[Pg 86] of refusing them, Trollope resolved upon deserting; and, at dead of night, he quietly carried off the Calais troops, and making for the royal camp, revealed the whole of York's plans.

When morning dawned, and Trollope's treachery was discovered, the adherents of the White Rose were in dismay and consternation. Every man became suspicious of his neighbor; and the duke was driven to the conclusion that he must submit to circumstances. No prospect of safety appearing but in flight, York, with his second son, the ill-fated Earl of Rutland, departed into Wales, and thence went to Ireland; while Salisbury and Warwick, with the duke's eldest son, Edward, escaped to Devonshire, bought a ship at Exmouth, sailed to Guernsey, and then passed over to Calais.

The king, on finding that his enemies had fled, became very bold; and having spoiled the town and castle of Ludlow, and taken the Duchess of York prisoner, he called a Parliament. As measures were to be taken to extinguish the Yorkists, no temporal peer, unless known as a stanch adherent of the Red Rose, received a summons; and Coventry was selected as the scene of revenge; for, since the unfortunate result of the Commission at Guildhall, the queen looked upon London as no place for the execution of those projects on which she had set her heart. Away from the metropolis, however, Margaret[Pg 87] found herself in a position to do as she pleased; and at Coventry Bloreheath was fearfully avenged. With little regard to law, and still less regard to prudence, the most violent courses were pursued: York, Salisbury, Warwick, and their friends, were declared traitors; and their estates, being confiscated, were bestowed on the queen's favorites. The chiefs of the White Rose appeared utterly ruined; and England was once more at the feet of "The Foreign Woman."


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CHAPTER X.

THE BATTLE OF NORTHAMPTON.

In the month of June, 1460, while the Duke of York was in Ireland, while Margaret of Anjou was with her feeble husband at Coventry, and while Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, York's son-in-law, was, as lord high admiral, guarding the Channel with a strong fleet, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, sailed from Calais for the shores of England. It was in vain that Exeter endeavored to do his duty as admiral; for on the sea as on the land, "The Stout Earl" was a favorite hero, and the sailors refused to haul an anchor or hoist a sail to prevent his landing. At Sandwich he safely set foot on English ground, and prepared to strike a shattering blow at the house of Lancaster.

Warwick was accompanied by the Earl of Salisbury and the Earl of March; but the army with which he came to change the dynasty did not consist of more than fifteen hundred men. The earl, however, was not dismayed at the weakness of his force. Indeed, his own great name was a tower of strength; and when, on landing, he proclaimed that his motive for taking up arms was to deliver his[Pg 89] countrymen from oppression, and to maintain the ancient laws and liberties of England, he knew that the people would rally around his banner. Ere this, the White Rose, in addition to being the emblem of hereditary right, had become identified with the cause of civil and religious freedom.

The earl's confidence in the people of England was not misplaced. As he marched toward London, the fighting men of Kent and of all the south flocked to his standard, and on reaching Blackheath he was at the head of thirty thousand men. As the patrician hero entered the capital he was hailed with enthusiasm, and cheered with the hope of crowning his enterprise with success.

The king and queen were still at Coventry when informed of Warwick's landing, and Margaret lost no time in taking measures to resist the Yorkist invasion. Money was borrowed from the Lancastrian clergy and nobles, and troops, under Percies, Staffords, Beauforts, Talbots, and Beaumonts, gathered rapidly to the royal standard. The respect which, on his heroic father's account, people still entertained for Henry, and the fear with which Margaret inspired them, were powerful motives; and a great army having been assembled, the Lancastrian king and his haughty spouse, accompanied by Somerset and Buckingham, removed to Northampton, and took up their quarters in the Friary.

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Meanwhile, leaving his father in London to defend the city and besiege the Tower, still held for the king by Lord Scales, Warwick marched through the midland counties. Having taken up a position between Towcester and Northampton, he sent the Bishop of Salisbury to the king with pacific overtures. The bishop returned without satisfaction, and Warwick, having thrice ineffectually attempted to obtain an audience of the king, gave the Lancastrians notice to prepare for battle.

The queen was not less willing than the earl to try conclusions. Believing the Lancastrians equal to an encounter with the army of Warwick, she addressed her partisans, and encouraged them with promises of honors and rewards. Confident in their strength, she ordered them to cross the Nene; and, Lord Grey de Ruthin leading the van, the royal army passed through the river, and encamped hard by the Abbey of Delapré in the meadows to the south of the town. There the Lancastrians encompassed themselves with high banks and deep trenches; and, having fortified their position with piles, and sharp stakes, and artillery, they awaited the approach of the Yorkist foe.

Warwick was not the man to keep his enemies long waiting under such circumstances. After charging his soldiers to strike down every knight and noble, but to spare the common men, he prepared for the[Pg 91] encounter; and, ere the morning of the 9th of July—it was gloomy and wet—dawned on the towers and turrets of the ancient town on the winding Nene, his army was in motion. Setting their faces northward, the Yorkists passed the cross erected two centuries earlier in memory of Eleanor of Castile, and in feudal array advanced upon the foe—"The Stout Earl" towering in front, and Edward of March, York's youthful heir, following with his father's banner.[5]

At news of Warwick's approach, the Lancastrian chiefs aroused themselves to activity, donned their mail, mounted their steeds, set their men in battle order, and then alighted to fight on foot. The king, in his tent, awaited the issue of the conflict; but Margaret of Anjou repaired to an elevated situation, and thither carried her son, to witness the fight. Her hopes were doubtless high, for gallant looked the army that was to do battle in her cause, and well provided were the Lancastrians with the artillery which had, in the previous autumn, rendered the Yorkists so formidable at Ludlow.

[Pg 92]

By seven o'clock the Yorkists assailed the intrenched camp at Delapré, and the war-cries of the Lancastrian leaders answered the shouts of Warwick and March. At first the contest was vigorously maintained; but, unfortunately for the queen's hopes, the rain had rendered the artillery incapable of doing the service that had been anticipated. In spite of this disheartening circumstance, the warriors of the Red Rose bravely met their antagonists, and both Yorkists and Lancastrians fought desperately and well. But, in the heat of action, Lord Grey de Ruthin, betraying his trust, deserted to the enemy. Consternation thereupon fell upon the king's army, and the Yorkists having, with the aid of Lord Grey's soldiers, got within the intrenchments, wrought fearful havoc. The conflict was, nevertheless, maintained with obstinacy till nine o'clock; but after two hours of hard fighting the king's men were seen flying in all directions, and many, while attempting to cross the Nene, were drowned in its waters.

In consequence of Warwick's order to spare the commons, the slaughter fell chiefly on the knights and nobles. The Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, Thomas Percy, Lord Egremont, and John, Viscount Beaumont, were among the slain. Somerset narrowly escaped, and fled after the queen in the direction of North Wales.

When intelligence of Warwick's victory reached[Pg 93] London, the populace broke loose from all restraint. Lord Scales, who, while keeping the Tower, had incurred their hatred, disguised himself and endeavored to escape. The watermen, however, recognized him, and, notwithstanding his threescore years, cut off his head and cast the body carelessly on the sands. Thomas Thorpe, one of the barons of the Exchequer, met a similar fate. While attempting to fly, he was captured and committed to the Tower; but afterward he was taken possession of by the mob, and executed at Highgate. With such scenes enacting before their eyes, the citizens recognized the necessity of a settled government; and the adherents of the White Rose intimated to their chief the expediency of his immediate return from Ireland.

King Henry, after the defeat of his adherents at Northampton, was found in his tent, lamenting the slaughter. As at St. Albans, he was treated by the victors with respectful compassion, and by them conducted, with the utmost deference, to London.


[Pg 94]

CHAPTER XI.

YORK'S CLAIM TO THE CROWN.

On the 7th of October, 1460, a Parliament, summoned in King Henry's name, met at Westminster, in the Painted Chamber, for centuries regarded with veneration as the place where St. Edward had breathed his last, and with admiration on account of the pictures representing incidents of the Confessor's life and canonization, executed by command of the third Henry to adorn the walls.

On this occasion the king sat in the chair of state; and Warwick's brother, George Neville, Bishop of Exeter, who, though not yet thirty, had been appointed chancellor, opened the proceedings with a notable declamation, taking for his text, Congregate populum, sanctificate ecclesiam. The Houses then entered upon business, repealed all the acts passed at Coventry, and declared that the Parliament there held had not been duly elected.

While this was going on, the Duke of York, who had landed at Chester, came toward London; and three days after the meeting of Parliament, accompanied by a splendid retinue, all armed and mounted, he entered the capital with banners flying, trumpets[Pg 95] sounding, and a naked sword carried before him. Riding along with princely dignity, the duke dismounted at Westminster, and proceeded to the House of Lords. Walking straight to the throne, he laid his hand on the cloth of gold, and, pausing, looked round, as if to read the sentiments of the peers in the faces. At that moment the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been with Henry, entered the house, and made the usual reverence to the duke.

"Will not my Lord of York go and pay his respects to the king?" asked the archbishop.

"I know no one," answered York, coloring, "to whom I owe that title."

The archbishop, on hearing the duke's answer, went back to the king; and York, following, took possession of the palace. Then, returning to the house, and standing on the steps of the throne, he claimed the crown of England as heir of Lionel of Clarence. When the duke concluded his speech, the peers sat motionless as graven images; and perceiving that not a word was uttered nor a whisper exchanged, York sharply asked them to deliberate. "Think of this matter, my lords," said he; "I have taken my course, take yours."

The duke left the house in some chagrin, and the peers took his request into consideration. After discussing the claim to the crown as calmly as if it had been an ordinary peerage case, they[Pg 96] resolved that the question should be argued by counsel at the bar.

Most of the lords were under essential obligations to the house of Lancaster, and therefore in no haste to take York's claim into consideration. When a week elapsed, therefore, the duke deemed it politic to send a formal demand of the crown, and to request an immediate answer. The peers, somewhat startled, replied that they refused justice to no man, but in this case could decide nothing without the advice and consent of the king. Henry was consulted; and he recommended that the judges should be summoned to give their opinion. These legal functionaries, however, declined to meddle with a matter so dangerous, and the peers were under the necessity of proceeding without the aid of their learning and experience. The duke was then heard by his counsel; and, an order having been made "that every man might freely and indifferently speak his mind without fear of impeachment," the question was debated several days.

All this time York lodged in the palace of Westminster, where Henry then was, but refused to see his royal kinsman, or to hold any communication with him till the peers had decided on the justice of his claim; he knew no one, he said, to whom he owed the title of king.

At length the peers arrived at a decision; and[Pg 97] the youthful chancellor, by order of the house, pronounced judgment. It was to the effect that Richard Plantagenet had made out his claim; but that, in consideration of Henry having from infancy worn the crown, he should be allowed to continue king for life, and that York, who meanwhile was to hold the reins of government, should ascend the throne after his royal kinsman's death. This compromise of a delicate dispute seemed to please both parties. On the vigil of the feast of All Saints, York and two of his sons appeared in Parliament, and took an oath to abide by the decision; on All Saints Day the heir of John of Gaunt and the heir of Lionel of Clarence rode together to St. Paul's in token of friendship; and on the Saturday following the duke was, by sound of trumpet, proclaimed Protector of the realm and heir to the crown.

The king appeared quite unconcerned at the turn which affairs had taken, and York had no apprehensions of a man who was never happy but when giving himself up to devotional exercises. The duke, however, was not indifferent to the enmity of Margaret of Anjou, and he felt anxious to secure himself against her hostility. He therefore sent a summons to bring her son without delay to Westminster, intending in case of disobedience to banish her from among a people on whom she had brought so many misfortunes. The Protector, it[Pg 98] soon appeared, had under-estimated the resources, the energy, the terrible enthusiasm of the daughter of King René. He sent his messengers, as it were, to hunt a wild-cat, and he found, to his cost, that they had roused a fierce tigress.


[Pg 99]

CHAPTER XII.

THE QUEEN'S FLIGHT AND RETURN.

When Margaret of Anjou, from the rising ground at Northampton, saw her knights and nobles bite the dust, and descried the banner of Richard Plantagenet borne in triumph through the broken ranks of the Lancastrian army, she mounted in haste and fled with her son toward the bishopric of Durham. Changing her mind, however, the unfortunate queen drew her rein, turned aside, and made for North Wales.

The way was beset with danger. As Margaret was passing through Lancashire she was robbed of her jewels; and while, with bitter feelings, pursuing her flight through Cheshire she was attacked by a retainer of Sir William Stanley. Having escaped these perils, and been joined by Somerset, the fair Anjouite sought refuge in Harleck Castle, which had been built on the site of an ancient British fortress by the first Edward, and which was held for that mighty monarch's feeble descendant by a Welsh captain who rejoiced in the name of Davydd ap Jefan ap Einion.

The Castle of Harleck stood on a lofty cliff, the[Pg 100] base of which was then washed by the ocean, though now a marshy tract of ground intervenes. From the sea, with such a rock to scale, the strong-hold was well-nigh impregnable; while on the land side it was defended by massive walls, by a large fosse, and by round towers and turrets, which covered every approach. Owen Glendower had, during four years, maintained the place against the fifth Henry; and the sturdy "Davydd" would not have shrunk from defending it against a Yorkist army, even if led by Warwick in person.

At Harleck Margaret passed months, brooding over the past, uncertain as to the present, and anxious about the future. At times, indeed, she must have forgotten her misfortunes, as, from the battlements of the castle, she gazed with the eye of a poetess over the intervening mountains to where the peaks of Snowdon seem to mingle with the clouds. At length she was startled by intelligence of the settlement made by Parliament, and by a summons from York, as Protector, to appear at Westminster with her son.

Margaret might well crimson with shame and anger. The terms on which the dispute between York and Lancaster had been compromised recalled all the injurious rumors as to the birth of her son; and her maternal feelings were shocked at the exclusion of the boy-prince from the throne he had[Pg 101] been born to inherit.[6] Submission was, under these circumstances, impossible to such a woman. She was not yet thirty, decidedly too young to abandon hope; and she was conscious of having already, in seasons of danger, exhibited that energy which is hope in action. The idea of yet trampling in the dust the three magnates by whom she had been humbled, took possession of her mind; and, unaided save by beauty, eloquence, and those accomplishments which, fifteen years earlier, had made her famous at the courts of Europe, she started for the north with the determination of regaining the crown which she had already found so thorny. The distressed queen embarked on the Menai; and her destination was Scotland.

One day in the autumn of 1460, James, King of Scots, the second of his name, while attempting to wrest Roxburgh Castle from the English, was killed by the bursting of a cannon, and succeeded by his son, a boy in his seventh year. The obsequies of[Pg 102] the deceased monarch were scarcely celebrated, when intelligence reached the Scottish court that Margaret of Anjou had, with her son, arrived at Dumfries; that she had met with a reception befitting a royal personage; and that she had taken up her residence in the College of Lincluden.

Mary of Gueldres, the widowed Queen of Scots, was about Margaret's own age. Moreover, Mary was a princess of great beauty, of masculine talent, and of the blood royal of France. Surrounded by the iron barons of a rude country, her position was not quite so pleasant as a bed of roses; and she could hardly help sympathizing with the desolate condition of her distant kinswoman. Hastening with her son to Dumfries, she held a conference that lasted for twelve days.

At the conference of Lincluden every thing went smoothly. Much wine was consumed. A close friendship was formed between the queens. A marriage was projected between the Prince of Wales and a princess of Scotland. Margaret's spirit rose high; her hopes revived; and encouraged by promises of aid, she resolved on no less desperate an adventure than marching to London and rescuing her husband from the grasp of "the Triumvirate."

The enterprise decided on, no time was lost. An army was mustered in the frontier counties with a[Pg 103] rapidity which, it would seem, York and his friends had never regarded as possible. The great barons of the north, however, had never manifested any tenderness for the White Rose; and they remembered with indignation that hitherto their southern peers had carried every thing before them. Eager to vindicate their importance, and inspired by Margaret with an enthusiasm almost equal to her own, the Nevilles of Westmoreland, the Percies of Northumberland, and the Cliffords of Cumberland, summoned their fighting men, and at the same time endeavored, by promises of plunder south of the Trent, to allure the foraying clans to their standard.

The Borderers boasted that their property was in their swords; and they were seldom slow to ride when the prospect of booty was presented to their imaginations. They went to church as seldom as the twenty-ninth of February comes into the calendar, and never happened to comprehend that there was a seventh commandment. When on forays, they took every thing that was not too heavy; and were sometimes far from satisfied with the exception. Such men hailed with delight the prospect of plundering the rich South. From peels and castellated houses they came, wearing rusting armor, and mounted on lean steeds, but steady of heart, stout of hand, and ready, without thought of fear, to charge against knight or noble, no matter how proof his mail or[Pg 104] high his renown in arms. The Borderers cared nothing for York or Lancaster; and would have fought as readily for the White Rose as the Red. But the spoil south of the Trent was a noble prize; and they gathered to the queen's standard like eagles to their prey.

Finding herself at the head of eighteen thousand men, Margaret of Anjou pressed boldly southward. Even the season was such as would have daunted an ordinary woman. When operations commenced, the year 1460 was about to expire; the grass had withered; the streams were darkened with the rains of December; the leaves had fallen; and the wind whistled through the naked branches of the trees. Margaret, far from shrinking, defied all hardships; and the spectacle of a queen, so young and beautiful, enduring fatigue and daring danger, excited the admiration and increased loyalty of her adherents. With every inclination to execute a signal revenge, she appeared before the gates of York; and marched from that city toward Sandal Castle.


[Pg 105]

CHAPTER XIII.

THE ANJOUITE'S VENGEANCE.

As the autumn of 1460 was deepening into winter, a rumor reached London that Margaret of Anjou was raising troops on the borders of England. The Duke of York, though not seriously alarmed, was apprehensive of an insurrection in the north; and, marching from the metropolis, with an army of five thousand men, he, on Christmas-eve, arrived at Sandal Castle, which stood on an eminence that slopes down toward the town of Wakefield. Finding that his enemies were so much more numerous than he had anticipated, the Protector saw the propriety of remaining in his strong-hold till re-enforced by his son, who was recruiting in the marches of Wales.

The fact, however, was that Margaret had no intention of allowing Duke Richard to profit by delay. Marching to Wakefield Green, she challenged him to the field, and ridiculed the idea of a man having aspired to a crown who was frightened to encounter an army led by a woman. Well aware, however, that the battle is not always to the strong, Margaret did not altogether trust in numerical superiority. Determined to secure victory, she formed[Pg 106] an ambuscade on either side: one under Lord Clifford, the other under the Earl of Wiltshire; while to Somerset she intrusted the command of her main army.

Meanwhile York called a council of war: Salisbury and the other chiefs of the White Rose who were present strongly objected to hazarding a battle; and David Hall, an old and experienced warrior, implored the duke to remain within the walls of Sandal. But York considered that his honor was concerned in fighting; and, addressing himself to Hall in familiar phrase, he expressed the sentiments by which he was animated.

"Ah! Davy, Davy," said the duke, "hast thou loved me so long, and wouldst now have me dishonored? No man ever saw me keep fortress when I was Regent of Normandy, when the dauphin, with his puissance, came to besiege me; but, like a man, and not like a bird inclosed in a cage, I issued, and fought with mine enemies; to their loss (I thank God), and ever to my honor. If I have not kept myself within walls for fear of a great and strong prince, nor hid my face from any living mortal, wouldst thou that I should incarcerate and shut myself up for dread of a scolding woman, whose weapons are her tongue and nails? All men would cry wonder, and report dishonor, that a woman made a dastard of me, whom no man could ever, to this[Pg 107] day, report as a coward. And, surely, my mind is rather to die with honor than to live with shame. Their numbers do not appall me. Assuredly I will fight with them, if I fight alone. Therefore, advance my banners, in the name of God and St. George!"

Seeing the duke determined to hazard a field, Salisbury and the other captains arrayed their men for battle; and the Yorkists, sallying from the castle, descended to meet the foe on Wakefield Green. The duke supposed that the troops under Somerset were all with whom he had to contend; and the brave warrior, now in his fiftieth year, advanced fearlessly to the encounter. Never was Plantagenet more completely deceived. When between Sandal Castle and the town of Wakefield, York was suddenly assailed, by Clifford on the right hand, and by Wiltshire on the left; but, though environed on every side, the duke did not yield to fate without a desperate struggle. On both sides, the soldiers fought with savage fury; and the Yorkists, conscious of superior discipline, were for a while hopeful of victory. At a critical moment, however, Margaret brought up a body of Borderers, and ordered them to attack the Yorkists in the rear; and the effect was instantaneous. The northern prickers laid their spears in rest, spurred their lean steeds, and charged the warriors of the White Rose with a[Pg 108] vigor that defied resistance. The victory was complete; and of five thousand men, whom York had brought into the field, nearly three thousand were stretched on the slippery sod. The bold duke was among the first who fell. With him were slain his faithful squire, David Hall, and many lords and gentlemen of the south—among whom were Sir Thomas Neville, Salisbury's son; and William Bonville, Lord Harrington, the husband of Katherine Neville, Salisbury's daughter.

An incident as melancholy as any connected with the Wars of the Roses now occurred. York's son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, being in the castle of Sandal, had gone with his tutor, Sir Robert Aspall, to witness the fight. They dreaded no danger, for Aspall was a priest, and Rutland was a fair boy of twelve, and innocent as a lamb. Seeing, however, that the fortune of the day was against York, the tutor hurried the young earl from the field; but as they were crossing the bridge, Lord Clifford rode up and asked the boy's name. The young earl fell on his knees, and, being too much agitated to speak, implored mercy by holding up his hands.

"Spare him," said the tutor; "he is a prince's son, and may hereafter do you good."

"York's son!" exclaimed Clifford, eying the boy savagely. "By God's blood, thy father slew mine, and so will I thee and all thy kin."

[Pg 109] CLIFFORD STABBING RUTLAND.
[Pg 110]CLIFFORD STABBING RUTLAND.

[Pg 111] Deaf to the tutor's prayers and entreaties, "the black-faced lord" plunged his dagger into Rutland's heart; and as the boy expired turned to the priest, who stood mute with horror. "Go," said the murderer, "bear to his mother and his brother tidings of what you have heard and seen."

After thus imbruing his hands in the blood of an innocent boy, Clifford went in search of the corpse of York. Having severed the duke's head from the body, and put a crown of paper on the brow of the dead man, and fixed the head on a pole, he presented the ghastly trophy to the queen. "Madam," said Clifford, mockingly, "your war is done; here I bring your king's ransom." Margaret of Anjou laughed; the Lancastrian lords around her laughed in chorus; there was much jesting on the occasion. "Many," says Hall, "were glad of other men's deaths, not knowing that their own was near at hand;" and the chronicler might have added that others lived through many dreary years to rue the jesting of that day.

One of the hated "Triumvirate" was now no longer alive to annoy the queen; and she was yet to have another victim. Thomas Neville, the son of Salisbury, was, as has been stated, among the slain; but the old earl, though wounded, had left the field. He was too dangerous a foe, however, to be allowed by Clifford to escape. Keenly pursued,[Pg 112] he was taken during the night, carried to Pontefract Castle, and there executed. Margaret ordered Salisbury's head, and those of York and Rutland, to be set over the gates of York, as a warning to all Englishmen not to interfere with her sovereign will. "Take care," she said to her myrmidons, "to leave room for the head of my Lord of Warwick, for he will soon come to keep his friends company."

Glowing with victory, and confident that her enterprise would be crowned with triumph, the queen, taking the great north road, pursued her march toward the capital. Her progress was for a time unopposed. On approaching St. Albans, however, she learned that the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Norfolk had left London to intercept her; that they had taken possession of St. Albans; that they had filled the streets of the town with archers, and posted their army on the hills to the southeast.

Margaret was not dismayed at the intelligence that such formidable foes were in her way. On the contrary, she intimated her intention of passing through St. Albans in spite of their opposition; but did not deem it safe to trust to force alone. One of the ladies of her court—so runs the story—happened to have, in other days, interested Warwick, and had not quite lost her influence with "The Stout Earl." Upon this dame—the daughter of Sir Richard Woodville and the wife of John Grey[Pg 113] of Groby—devolved the duty of playing the spy; and accordingly she repaired to Warwick under the pretense of asking some favor. The lady was cunning enough to act her part with discretion; and she, doubtless, brought her royal mistress intelligence which gave the Lancastrians courage to proceed.

It was the morning of the 17th of February, 1461, when the van of the queen's army advanced to force their way through St. Albans. At first the attempt was unsuccessful; and the Lancastrians were met by Warwick's bowmen with a flight of arrows that caused them to fall back from the market-place. Undaunted by this repulse, Margaret persevered; and, driving the archers before her, she brought her soldiers into action with the main body of the Yorkists in a field called Bernard's Heath.

At this point the Lancastrians found their task more easy than they could have anticipated. For the third time during the wars of the Roses occurred an instance of desertion in the face of the enemy. At Ludlow, Andrew Trollope had left the Yorkists; at Northampton, Lord Grey de Ruthin had abandoned the Lancastrians; and now Lovelace, who at the head of the Kentish men led Warwick's van, deserted the great earl in the hour of need. This circumstance placed the victory in Margaret's power; and a dashing charge made by John Grey of[Pg 114] Groby, at the head of the Lancastrian cavalry, decided the day in favor of the Red Rose. A running fight was, nevertheless, kept up over the undulating ground between St. Albans and the little town of Barnet; and, a last stand having in vain been made on Barnet Common, Warwick was fain to retreat with the remnants of his army.

So unexpected had been the queen's victory, and so sudden the earl's discomfiture, that the captive king was left in solitude. However, Lord Bonville, grandfather of the warrior who fell at Wakefield, and Sir Thomas Kyriel, renowned in the wars of France, went to the royal tent, and in courteous language expressed their regret at leaving him unattended. Henry, entreating them to remain, gave them a distinct promise that in doing so they should incur no danger; and after accepting the royal word as a pledge for their personal safety they consented, and advised the king to intimate to the victors that he would gladly join them.

A message was accordingly dispatched; and several Lancastrian lords came to convey Henry of Windsor to the presence of his terrible spouse. The monk-king found Margaret of Anjou and the Prince of Wales in Lord Clifford's tent, and, having expressed his gratification at their meeting, rewarded the fidelity of his adherents by knighting thirty of them at the village of Colney. Among these were the[Pg 115] Prince of Wales, and John Grey of Groby, the warrior who had broken the Yorkists' ranks, and who, dying of his wounds a few days later, left a widow destined to bring countless miseries on the royal race whose chiefs had so long ruled England. After the ceremony of knighting his partisans, Henry repaired to the Abbey of St. Albans and returned thanks for the victory.

While Henry was occupied with devotional exercises, the queen was unfortunately guilty of an outrage which, even if she had been in other respects faultless, must have for ever associated crime with the name of Margaret of Anjou. The Lord Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyriel had consented, as we have seen, from motives of compassion and romantic honor, to remain with Henry; and the king had on his part given a distinct promise that no evil should befall them. But by the queen and her captains no respect was paid to Henry; in fact, much less decorum was observed toward him by the Lancastrians than by the Yorkists. At all events Margaret, exhibiting the utmost disregard for her husband's promise, ordered a scaffold to be erected at St. Albans; and, in defiance of all faith and honor, Lord Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyriel died by the hands of the executioner.

Meanwhile, Margaret's adherents were taking a sure way to render her cause unpopular. Ere[Pg 116] marching toward London the men of the north had, as the price of their allegiance to the Red Rose, covenanted to have the spoil south of the Trent; and, resolved not to return home empty-handed, they had forayed with so much energy as to spread terror wherever they went. At St. Albans their rapacity knew no limits. Not only did they plunder the town with an utter disregard to the rights of property, but stripped the abbey with a sacrilegious hardihood which rapidly converted the head of that great monastic house from a zealous Lancastrian to a violent partisan of the White Rose.

The report of the lawless scenes enacted at St. Albans was carried to London, and the citizens, who believed that the queen had marked them as objects of her vengeance, were impressed with a sense of danger, and rather eager to win back her favor. When, therefore, the northern army lay at Barnet, and Margaret sent to demand provisions, the mayor hastened to forward some cart-loads of "lenten stuff" for the use of her camp. The populace, however, exhibited a courage which their wealthier neighbors did not possess, and rising in a mass at Cripplegate stopped the carts, and forcibly prevented the provisions leaving the city. The mayor, in alarm, sent the recorder to the king's council, and moreover interested Lady Scales and the Duchess of Bedford to intercede with the queen, and represent the impolicy[Pg 117] of exasperating the commons at such a crisis. This led to another scene of lawless outrage. Some lords of the council, with four hundred horsemen, headed by Sir Baldwin Fulford, were sent to investigate matters, and attempted to enter London at Cripplegate. Again, however, the populace fought for the White Rose; and the Lancastrian horsemen, being repulsed, plundered the northern suburbs in retaliation, and left matters infinitely worse than they had previously appeared.

While affairs were in this posture—Margaret's heart beating high with the pride of victory—a price set on the head of Edward of York—the Lancastrian lords cherishing the prospect of vengeance—"the wealth of London looking pale, knowing itself in danger from the northern army"—and the citizens apprehensive of being given over to the tender mercies of Grahams and Armstrongs—from Mortimer's Cross there arrived news of battle and bloodshed. The citizens resumed their feelings of security; the wealth of London appeared once more safe from huge Borderers; and Margaret of Anjou, forcibly reminded that Edward Plantagenet and Richard Neville yet lived to avenge their sires, prepared to return to "Northumberland, the nursery of her strength."


[Pg 118]

CHAPTER XIV.

A PLANTAGENET AND THE TUDORS.

At the opening of the year 1461, a princely personage, of graceful figure and distinguished air, rather more than twenty years of age, and rather more than six feet in height, might have been seen moving about the city of Gloucester, whose quiet streets, with old projecting houses, and whose Gothic cathedral, with stained oriel window and lofty tower, have little changed in aspect since that period. The youthful stranger, who was wonderfully handsome, had golden hair flowing straight to his shoulders, a long oval countenance, a rich but clear and delicate complexion, broad shoulders, and a form almost faultless. Perhaps his eye roved with too eager admiration after the fair damsels who happened to cross his path; but it was not for want of more serious subjects with which to occupy his attention; for the tall, handsome youth was Edward Plantagenet, Earl of March; and he had been sent to the Welsh Marches to recruit soldiers to fight the battles of the White Rose.

Edward of York was a native of Rouen. In that city he was born in 1441, while his father ruled[Pg 119] Normandy. At an early age, however, he was brought to England, to be educated in Ludlow Castle, under the auspices of Sir Richard Croft, a warlike Marchman, who had married a widow of one of the Mortimers. Under the auspices of Croft and of his spouse, who, at Ludlow, was known as "The Lady Governess," Edward grew up a handsome boy, and was, from the place of his birth, called "The Rose of Rouen," as his mother had been called "The Rose of Raby." Early plunged into the wars of the Roses, the heir of York never acquired any thing like learning, but became a warrior of experience in his teens; and, when at Northampton, bearing his father's banner, he exhibited a spirit which inspired the partisans of York with high hopes.

When Edward received intelligence that, on Wakefield Green, his father, the Duke of York, had fallen in battle against Margaret of Anjou, and that his brother, the Earl of Rutland, had been barbarously murdered by Lord Clifford, the prince, in the spirit of that age, vowed vengeance, and applied himself with energy to execute his vow. Doubtless, other objects than mere revenge presented themselves to his imagination. As the grandson of Anne Mortimer, he was the legitimate heir of England's kings; and he had not, during his brief career, shown any of that political moderation which had prevented[Pg 120] his father plucking the crown from the feeble Henry.

The recruiting expedition on which Edward had gone, accompanied by a gallant squire, named William Hastings, said to derive his descent, through knights and nobles, from one of the famous sea kings, was, at first, much less successful than anticipated. The Marchmen seemed disinclined to stir in a dynastic quarrel which they did not quite understand. But a report that York had fallen in battle, and that Rutland had been murdered in cold blood, produced a sudden change. Men who before appeared careless about taking up arms rushed to the Yorkist standard; and the retainers of the house of Mortimer, on hearing that their valiant lord was slain, appeared, with sad hearts and stern brows, demanding to be led against the murderers.

Edward was already, in imagination, a conqueror. After visiting Shrewsbury, and other towns on the Severn, he found himself at the head of twenty-three thousand men, ready to avenge his father's fall, and vindicate his own rights. At the head of this force he took his way toward London, trusting to unite with Warwick, and, at one blow, crush the power of the fierce Anjouite ere she reached the capital. An unexpected circumstance prevented Edward's hope from being so speedily realized.

Among the Welsh soldiers who fought at Agincourt,[Pg 121] and assisted in repelling the furious charge of the Duke of Alençon, was Owen Tudor, the son of a brewer at Beaumaris. In recognition of his courage, Owen was named a squire of the body to the hero of that day, and, a few years later, became clerk of the wardrobe to the hero's widow. It happened that Owen, who was a handsome man, pleased the eye of Katherine de Valois; and one day, when he stumbled over her dress, while dancing for the diversion of the court, she excused the awkwardness with a readiness which first gave her ladies a suspicion that she was not altogether insensible to his manly beauty. As time passed on, Katherine united her fate with his; and, in secret, she became the mother of several children.

When the sacrifice which the widowed queen had made became known, shame and grief carried her to the grave; and Humphrey of Gloucester, then Protector, sent Owen to the Tower. He afterward regained his liberty, but without being acknowledged by the young king as a father-in-law. Indeed, of a marriage between the Welsh soldier and the daughter of a Valois and widow of a Plantagenet no evidence exists; but when Edmund and Jasper, the sons of Katherine, grew up, Henry gave to one the Earldom of Richmond, and to the other that of Pembroke. Richmond died about the time when the wars of the Roses commenced. Pembroke lived[Pg 122] to enact a conspicuous part in the long and sanguinary struggle.

When the Lancastrian army, flushed with victory, was advancing from Wakefield toward London, Margaret of Anjou, hearing that Edward of York was on the Marches of Wales, resolved to send a force under Jasper Tudor to intercept him; and Jasper, proud of the commission, undertook to bring the young Plantagenet, dead or alive, to her feet. With this view he persuaded his father to take part in the adventure, and Owen Tudor once more drew the sword which, in years gone by, he had wielded for the House of Lancaster.

Edward was on his march toward London when he heard that Jasper and other Welshmen were on his track. The prince was startled; but the idea of an heir of the blood and name of the great Edwards flying before Owen Tudor and his son was not pleasant; and, moreover, it was impolitic to place himself between two Lancastrian armies. Considering these circumstances, Edward turned upon his pursuers, and met them at Mortimer's Cross, in the neighborhood of Hereford.

It was the morning of the 2d of February—Candlemas Day—and Edward was arraying his men for the encounter, when he perceived that the "orb of day" appeared like three suns, which all joined together as he looked. In those days the[Pg 123] appearance of three suns in the sky was regarded as a strange prodigy; and Edward either believed, or affected to believe, that the phenomenon was an omen of good fortune. Encouraging his soldiers with the hope of victory, he set fiercely upon the enemy.

The Tudors, whose heads had been turned by unmerited prosperity, were by no means prepared for defeat. Owen, with whom a queen-dowager had united her fate, and Jasper, on whom a king had conferred an earldom, were too much intoxicated to perceive the danger of giving chase to the heir of the Plantagenets. Not till Edward turned savagely to bay did they perceive that, instead of starting a hare, they had roused a lion.

At length the armies joined battle, and a fierce conflict took place. Edward, exhibiting that skill which afterward humbled the most potent of England's barons, saw thousands of his foes hurled to the ground; and Jasper, forgetful of his heraldic precept, that death is better than disgrace, left his followers to their fate and fled from the field. Owen, however, declined to follow his son's example. He had fought at Agincourt, he remembered, and had not learned to fly. His courage did not save the Welsh adherents of Lancaster from defeat; and, in spite of his efforts, he was taken prisoner with David Lloyd, Morgan ap Reuther, and other Welshmen.

[Pg 124]

Edward had now a golden opportunity, by sparing the vanquished, of setting a great example to his adversaries. But the use which Margaret had made of her victory at Wakefield could not be forgotten; and it seemed to be understood that henceforth no quarter was to be given in the Wars of the Roses. Accordingly, Owen and his friends were conveyed to Hereford, and executed in the market-place. The old Agincourt soldier was buried in the chapel of the Grey Friars' Church; but no monument was erected by his regal descendants in memory of the Celtic hero whose lucky stumble over a royal widow's robes resulted in his sept exchanging the obscurity of Beaumaris for the splendor of Windsor.


[Pg 125]

CHAPTER XV.

BEFORE TOWTON.

On the 3d of March, 1461, while Margaret of Anjou was leading her army toward the Humber, and the citizens of London were awakening from fearful dreams of northern men plundering their warehouses with lawless violence, and treating their women with indelicate freedom, Edward of York entered the capital at the head of his victorious army. Accompanied by the Earl of Warwick, by whom he had been joined at Chipping Norton, the conqueror of the Tudors rode through the city, and was welcomed with the utmost enthusiasm. It was long since London had been the scene of such loyal excitement. From Kent and Essex came crowds to gaze on the handsome son of Richard, Duke of York; and many were the predictions that, as a native of Rouen, Edward would reconquer Normandy, and retrieve those losses which, under the government of Margaret of Anjou, the English had sustained on the Continent.

Whatever he might pretend, Edward had none of the moderation that characterized his father, and he was determined without delay to ascend the throne, which he had been taught to consider his by[Pg 126] hereditary right. Anxious, however, to have the popular assent to the step he was about to take, the heir of the Plantagenets resolved to test the loyalty of the Londoners. With this object a grand review, in St. John's Fields, was proclaimed by William Neville, Lord Falconbridge; and the wealthy citizens, as well as the multitude, assembled to witness the military pageant. Suddenly availing himself of a favorable moment, Warwick's brother, the Bishop of Exeter, addressed the crowd on the great dynastic dispute, and asked them plainly whether they would any longer have Henry to reign over them. "Nay, nay," answered the crowd. Warwick's uncle, Lord Falconbridge, having then spoken in praise of Edward's valor and wisdom, asked if they would have him for king. "Yea, yea—King Edward, King Edward," shouted the populace, with one accord, cheering and clapping their hands.

The Yorkist chiefs were satisfied with the result of their experiment in St. John's Fields; and next day a great council was held at Baynard's Castle. After due deliberation, the peers and prelates declared that Henry, in joining the queen's army and breaking faith with Parliament, had forfeited the crown; and the heir of York, after riding in royal state to Westminster, offered at St. Edward's shrine, assumed the Confessor's crown, ascended the throne, explained the nature of his claim, and harangued[Pg 127] the people. His spirit and energy inspired the audience with enthusiasm, and he was frequently interrupted with shouts of "Long live King Edward."

On the day when the young Plantagenet took possession of the English throne at Westminster, he was proclaimed king in various parts of London. Edward was not, however, so intoxicated with the applause with which the men of the south had greeted his arrival in the metropolis as to delude himself into the idea that his triumph was complete. He knew that the lords of the north would again rise in arms for the Red Rose, and that battles must be won, and fortresses taken, ere the crown of St. Edward could sit easily on his head.

Nothing, however, could be gained by delay; and Warwick was well aware of the danger of procrastination at such a crisis. The young king and the king-maker, therefore, resolved upon marching forthwith against the Lancastrians, to achieve, as they hoped, a crowning victory; and, having sent the Duke of Norfolk to recruit in the provinces, they made preparations to go in search of their foes.

No time was wasted. Indeed, within three days of entering London, Warwick marched northward with the van of the Yorkist army; and the infantry having meanwhile followed, Edward, on the 12th of March, buckled on his armor, mounted his war-steed, and rode out of Bishopgate to conquer or die. By[Pg 128] easy marches the royal warrior reached Pontefract, memorable as the scene of the second Richard's murder; and, having, while resting there, enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing his army swell to the number of forty-nine thousand, he dispatched Lord Fitzwalter, with a band of tall men, to keep the passage over the Aire at Ferrybridge.

Nor had Margaret failed to prepare for the inevitable conflict. When, at St. Albans, the Lancastrian queen found that her foes were still unsubdued, she speedily bore back to the northern counties, and commenced recruiting her army on the banks of the Humber, the Trent, and the Tyne. Her spirit, ever highest in the time of trouble, sustained the courage of her adherents; and the men of the north, who now, without entering into the delicate questions of hereditary right and parliamentary settlement, sympathized with the dethroned queen, came from towers by the wayside, and shealings on the moor, till around the Lancastrian banner at York mustered an army of sixty thousand.

On hearing of Edward's approach the queen resolved to remain, with Henry and the young prince, at York, to await the issue of the battle impending. But she could hardly dream of defeat as she inspected that numerous army, headed by knights and nobles arrayed in rich armor and mounted on prancing steeds, who had gathered to her standard in the[Pg 129] capital of the north. Somerset, Northumberland, and Clifford, appeared in feudal pride, determined at length to avenge the slaughter of their sires at St. Albans; and the Duke of Exeter, with John, Lord Neville, brother to the Earl of Westmoreland, and Thomas Courtenay, Earl of Devon, without the death of sires to avenge, came to fight for the Red Rose; the first against his brother-in-law, King Edward, the second against his kinsmen, the Lords Warwick and Falconbridge, and the third against the house of York, of which his father had been one of the earliest adherents. Many other stanch Lancastrians, bearing names celebrated in history and song, had assembled; as Leo, Lord Welles, James Butler, Earl of Wiltshire, Ralph, Lord Dacre of the north, and Thomas, Lord De Roos, heir of that great Anglo-Norman baron of the twelfth century, whose effigy is still to be seen in the Temple Church. Among the Percies, Beauforts, and Cliffords figured Sir John Heron, of the Ford, a stalwart Borderer, who, in his day, had laid lance in rest against the Homes and Cranstouns; and Andrew Trollope, that mighty man of war, whose betrayal of the Yorkists at Ludlow had, for a year, delayed the exile of Margaret of Anjou. Even a venerable lawyer and a subtle churchman might have been seen in the Lancastrian ranks; for Sir John Fortescue had left the Court of King's Bench to fight for the cause which[Pg 130] he believed to be that of truth and justice; and John Morton had deserted the parsonage of Blokesworth to win preferment, if possible, by the arm of flesh. Such were the chiefs, devoted heart and hand to the house of Lancaster, who, at the head of the northern men, awaited the coming of the Yorkist king and the king-maker.


[Pg 131]

CHAPTER XVI.

TOWTON FIELD.

With Margaret of Anjou heading a mighty army at York, and Edward Plantagenet heading an army, not assuredly so numerous, but perhaps not less mighty, at Pontefract, a conflict could not long be delayed. Nor, indeed, had the partisans of either Rose any reason to shrink from an encounter. For, while the Yorkist chiefs felt that nothing less than a crowning triumph could save them from the vengeance of the dethroned queen, the Lancastrian lords were not less fully aware that nothing but a decisive victory could insure to them their possessions and restore to Henry his throne.

Learning that Edward was at Pontefract, and anxious to prevent him passing the Aire, Margaret's magnificent army moved from York. Formidable, indeed, the Lancastrians must have looked as they left the capital of the North, and marched southward; Somerset figuring as commander-in-chief; while Northumberland, aided by Andrew Trollope, the great soldier of the Red Rose ranks, led the van; and Clifford, with the hands that had been dyed in Rutland's blood, reined in his prancing steed at the[Pg 132] head of the light cavalry. Crossing the Wharfe, and marching through Tadcaster, the queen's captains posted their men to the south of Towton, a little village some eight miles from York. In front of their main body was a valley known as Towton Dale; their right wing was protected by a cliff, and their left by a marsh, which has since disappeared.

Somerset had hoped to keep the Aire between him and the Yorkist foe; and the aspiring duke was somewhat dismayed to hear that Lord Fitzwalter had seized Ferrybridge, and posted his company on the north side of the river. The Lancastrian lords, however, were in no mood to be daunted; and Clifford, who was quite as courageous as cruel, readily undertook to dislodge the Yorkist warriors from the position they occupied. Accordingly, at the head of his light cavalry, and accompanied by Lord Neville, Clifford spurred across the country, reached Ferrybridge by break of day, and, finding the guards asleep and utterly unsuspicious of an attack, had little difficulty in fulfilling his mission. Ere well awake half of the men were slaughtered, and the survivors were glad to escape to the south side of the Aire. Hearing a noise, and supposing that some quarrel had arisen among his soldiers, Fitzwalter rose from his couch, seized a battle-axe, and hastened to restore order. But before the Yorkist lord could even ascertain the cause of the disturbance[Pg 133] he was surrounded and slain, and, with him, Warwick's illegitimate brother, known as "The Bastard of Salisbury," and described as "a valiant young gentleman, and of great audacity."

Early on Saturday news of Clifford's exploit reached Pontefract and caused something like a panic in the Yorkist camp. Awed by the terrible name of Clifford, and not unaware of the numerical superiority of their foes, the soldiers lost heart and showed a disposition to waver. At this crisis, however, it became known that Warwick had mounted his horse, and every eye was turned toward the king-maker as he spurred through the lines straight to King Edward.

"Sir," said the earl, dismounting, "may God have mercy upon their souls, who, for love of you, have lost their lives. I see no hope of succor but in Him, to whom I remit the vengeance."

Edward, perhaps, thought Warwick was manifesting more alarm than was either necessary or prudent. "All who were afraid to fight might, at their pleasure, depart," the king said, "but to those that would stay he promised good reward; and," he added, "if any after staying should turn or flee, then that he who killed such a dastard should have double pay."

"Though your whole army should take to flight," said Warwick to Edward, "I will remain to fight;"[Pg 134] and, having thus expressed his resolution to stand by the young king to the death, the earl, in a manner not to be mistaken, intimated to the army of the White Rose that he, for one, rather than retreat one inch, was prepared to die with his feet to the foe. Drawing his sword, the patrician hero kissed the hilt, which was in the form of a cross, and, killing his war-horse in view of the soldiers, he exclaimed, "Let him flee that will flee, I will tarry with him that will tarry with me."

The effect of this sacrifice was marvelous; the soldiers saw that their chief and idol relied solely on their courage, that with them he would fight on foot, and that with them he would share victory or defeat. A feeling of enthusiasm pervaded the army, and not one man was craven enough to desert the great warrior-statesman in that hour of peril.

The Duke of Norfolk, as heir of Thomas de Brotherton, held the office of earl marshal, and was therefore entitled to lead the van of England's army. It happened, however, that Norfolk had not yet made his appearance among the Yorkist warriors, and, in his absence, Warwick's uncle, Lord Falconbridge, took the post of distinction and danger. With a view of cutting off Clifford's cavalry from the main body of the Lancastrians, Falconbridge, at the head of the Yorkist van, passed the Aire at Castleford, three miles above Ferrybridge, and, favored[Pg 135] by the windings of the river, led his men along the north bank ere Clifford was aware of the enemy being in motion. On being informed of the fact, however, the Lancastrian leader mustered his horsemen and made a dash northward to reach the queen's camp. Fortune, however, was this time against the savage lord. At Dintingdale, somewhat less than two miles from Towton, the murderer of Rutland and the executioner of Salisbury found that the avengers were upon him, and turned desperately to bay. A sharp and sanguinary skirmish ensued. Clifford offered a brave resistance to his fate, but, pierced in the throat with an arrow, he fell, never more to rise. Lord Neville having shared Clifford's fate, most of the light horsemen fell where they fought, and Ferrybridge was retaken.

On receiving intelligence of the victory at Dintingdale and the recovery of Ferrybridge, Edward hastened to pass the Aire, leading the centre of the Yorkist army, while the right wing was headed by Warwick, and the rear brought up by Sir John Denham, a veteran warrior who had ever adhered to the Yorkist cause, and Sir John Wenlock, who had once already changed sides to his profit, and was to do so again to his loss. As the day was drawing to a close the Yorkists reached Saxton, a village little more than a mile south from Towton, and, on their coming in sight of the Lancastrian[Pg 136] host, the northern and southern armies expressed the intense hatred they felt for each other by a long yell of defiance. At the same time Edward caused proclamation to be made, in the hearing of both, that, on his side, no prisoners should be taken and no quarter given; and Somerset immediately ordered a similar proclamation to be made in the name of the Lancastrian chiefs.

All that cold March night the hostile armies prepared for the combat, and on the morning of the 29th of March—it was that of Palm Sunday—Yorkist and Lancastrian sprang to arms. As the warriors of the Roses approached each other snow began to fall heavily, and, from having the wind in their faces, the Lancastrians were much inconvenienced by the flakes being blown in their eyes. Falconbridge, prompt to avail himself of such a circumstance, caused the archers in the Yorkist van to advance, send a flight of arrows among their antagonists, and then draw back to await the result. Galled by this discharge, the Lancastrians, who formed the van of the queen's army, bent their bows in retaliation; but, blinded by snow, they shot at random, and the shafts fell forty yards short of their adversaries.

Northumberland, the grandson of Hotspur, and Andrew Trollope, that "terrible man-at-arms," did not relish this inauspicious opening of the battle. Perceiving that at a distance they were fighting at[Pg 137] disadvantage, Trollope and the earl ordered the men to draw their blades, to rush forward, and to close with the foe. An unexpected obstacle, however, presented itself to the assailants; for the northern men, finding their feet entangled in their own shafts that stuck in the ground, came to a halt; and the Yorkists, galling their adversaries with another shower of arrows, threw them into confusion, and drove them precipitately back on the main body of the Lancastrians.

The White Rose was so far fortunate; but the Lancastrians, conscious of superior numbers, and elate with their victories at Wakefield and Bernard's Heath, were not to be daunted. Ere Northumberland fell back on the queen's forces, the two armies were face to face, and on neither side was there any wish to delay meeting hand to hand. Impatient to try conclusions, and disdaining to balk his enemies of the close conflict they desired, Falconbridge gave the word for his soldiers to lay aside their bows, take to their swords, and advance to the encounter; and, with shouts of anger and scorn, the men of the north and of the south approached each other to decide their quarrel with foot opposed to foot, and steel to steel.

The clarions having sounded a charge, the battle now began in earnest, and with such fury as had never before been displayed by Englishmen when[Pg 138] opposed to each other. The leaders trusted less to their own generalship than to the courage of their men; and the soldiers on both sides, animated with the deadliest hatred of their foes, moved forward in masses. Every man fought as if the quarrel had been his own; and among the fiercest and foremost, where skulls were cleaved and blood shed, appeared, on one side, Andrew Trollope, performing prodigies of valor, and, on the other, the young king, fiery with martial ardor, and freely hazarding his life to advance his fortunes. Mounted on barbed steed, and arrayed in emblazoned surcoat, and his standard, on which was a black bull, borne by Ralph Vestynden, Edward seemed the very prince to kindle enthusiasm in the heart of a multitude; and woe betided those who crossed his path, as, in this, his twentieth year, he fought with the savage valor which afterward bore down all opposition on the fields of Barnet and Tewkesbury. The king's courage and prowess made him conspicuous in the fight, and his indomitable determination contributed in no slight degree to maintain the resolution of the Yorkists to conquer or to die for his sake.

But, notwithstanding Edward's achievements, and the confidence with which the soldiers fought under Warwick's leadership, hours passed, and thousands upon thousands fell, without the prospect of a Yorkist victory. Still the northern war-cries rose upon[Pg 139] the gale; still Andrew Trollope hounded the northern men upon their foes; and still terrible proved the sweep of those long lances with which, at Wakefield, Herons and Tunstalls and Whartons had scattered the chivalry of York as the wind scatters leaves. No easy victory could, by any warriors, be won against such foes; and in spite of all the young king's courage, and "The Stout Earl's" sagacity, it appeared too likely that Trollope, with fortune as well as numbers on his side, would conquer, and that the bloodiest day England had ever seen would close in a Lancastrian triumph.

Meanwhile the aspect of the field was too terrible even to be described without a shudder. All on the ridge between Towton and Saxton were heaps of dead, and wounded, and dying; and the blood of the slain lay caked with the snow that covered the ground, and afterward, dissolving with it, ran down the furrows and ditches for miles together. Never, indeed, in England, had such a scene of carnage been witnessed as that upon which the villagers of Towton and Saxton looked out from their lowly cottages, and of which the citizens of York heard flying rumors, as, in common with Christendom, they celebrated the festival commemorative of our Redeemer's entry into Jerusalem.

At length, when the battle had lasted well-nigh ten hours, and thousands had fallen in the sanguinary[Pg 140] conflict, fortune so far favored the Red Rose that it seemed as if those long Border spears, so seldom couched in vain, were destined to win back the crown of St. Edward for Henry of Windsor. The Yorkists were, in fact, giving way; and Warwick must have felt that his charger had been sacrificed in vain, and that his head was not unlikely to occupy a place between those of York and Salisbury over the gates of the northern capital, when, through the snow which darkened the air and drifted over the country, another army was seen advancing from the south; and into the field, fresh and in no humor to avoid the combat, came the fighting men of Norfolk, under the banner of the princely Mowbrays, to the aid of Edward's wavering ranks. This new arrival of feudal warriors speedily turned the scale in favor of York; and while Edward animated his adherents, and Warwick urged the Yorkists to renewed exertion, the Lancastrians, after an attempt to resist their fate, at first slowly and frowning defiance on their foes, but gradually with more rapid steps, commenced a retreat northward.

Among the thousands who, on that stormy Palm Sunday, took the field with Red Roses on their gorgets, there was no better or braver knight than Ralph, Lord Dacre. From his castle of Naworth, in Cumberland, Dacre had brought his riders, arrayed under the ancestral banner—

[Pg 141]

"That swept the shores of Judah's sea,
And waved in gales of Galilee"—

and mounted to strike for King Henry; not, perhaps, without some presentiment of filling a warrior's grave. But death by a mean hand the lordly warrior would not contemplate; and with a spirit as high as his progenitor, who fought at Acre with Richard Cœur de Lion, he could hardly dream of falling by a weapon less renowned than Warwick's axe, or Edward's lance, or the sword of William Hastings, who, in the young king's track, slaughtering as he rode, was winning golden spurs and broad baronies. No death so distinguished, however, awaited Lord Dacre of the North. While in a large field, known as the North Acre, and still in rustic tradition and rhyme associated with his name, the haughty Borderer, probably making a last effort to rally the beaten and retreating Lancastrians, was mortally wounded with an arrow shot by a boy out of an auberry-tree, and prostrated among dead and dying on the miry ground.

"All is lost," groaned Exeter and Somerset, in bitter mood, as together they spurred over mounds of slain, and galloped toward York, to warn the queen that her foes were conquerors. And well, indeed, might the Lancastrian dukes express themselves in accents of despair, for never before had an English army been in a more hapless plight than[Pg 142] that which they were now leaving to its fate. At first, the retreat of the Lancastrians was conducted with some degree of order; but, ere long, their ranks were broken by the pursuing foe, and every thing was confusion as they fled in a mass toward Tadcaster. No leader of mark remained to direct or control the ill-fated army in the hour of disaster. John Heron, and Leo, Lord Welles, were slain. Andrew Trollope, after having "done marvelous deeds of valor," lay cold on the ground; Northumberland stooped his lofty crest as low as death; Devon and Wiltshire were heading the flight, and in vain endeavoring to place themselves beyond the vengeance of the victors. Resistance was hopeless; quarter was neither asked nor given; the carnage was so frightful that the road to York was literally red with the blood and strewn with the bodies of the slain; and the pursuit was so hot and eager that multitudes were drowned in attempting to cross the rivulet of Cock, while the corpses formed a bridge over which the pursuers passed. The brook ran purple with blood, and crimsoned, as it formed a junction with, the waters of the Wharfe.

Evening closed, at length, over the field of Towton, but without putting an end to the work of destruction. Till the noon of Monday the pursuit was keenly urged, and a running fight, kept up beyond[Pg 143] the Tyne, caused much bloodshed.[7] The Chief Justice of England and the Parson of Blokesworth escaped. But Devon and Wiltshire were less fortunate. One was taken near York, the other seized near Cockermouth by an esquire named Richard Salkeld; and both were executed by martial law.

After his signal victory on Towton Field, Edward knighted Hastings, Humphrey Stafford, and others, and then rode in triumph to York. Henry, with Queen Margaret and the prince, having fled from the city, the inhabitants received him with humble submission; and, having taken down the heads of his kinsmen from the gates, and set up those of Devon and Wiltshire instead, Edward remained at York, and kept the festival of Easter with great splendor. After visiting Durham, and settling the affairs of the north, the young king turned his face toward London.

From the day on which Edward rode out of Bishopgate until Easter, the citizens had been in fearful suspense. At length a messenger reached Baynard's Castle to inform the Duchess of York that the Lancastrians had been routed; and, when the news spread, the metropolis was the scene of[Pg 144] joy and rejoicing. Men of all ranks breathed freely, and thanked God for giving King Edward the victory; and minstrels, in grateful strains, sang the praise of the royal warrior who had saved the fair southern shires from the fierce and rude spearmen of the north.


[Pg 145]

CHAPTER XVII.

THE QUEEN'S STRUGGLES WITH ADVERSITY.

On Palm Sunday, when, on Towton Field, the armies of York and Lancaster were celebrating the festival with lances instead of palms, Margaret of Anjou, with the king, the Prince of Wales, and Lord De Roos, remained at York to await the issue of the conflict. The Lancastrians, when they rode forth, appeared so confident of victory that, in all probability, the queen was far from entertaining serious apprehensions. As the day wore on, however, Somerset and Exeter spurred into the city, announced that all was lost, and recommended a speedy flight.

Margaret was not the woman to faint in the day of adversity. The news brought by her discomfited partisans was indeed hard to hear, but their advice was too reasonable to be rejected. Dauntless in defeat, as merciless in victory, that resolute princess could, even at such a moment, dream of fresh chances, and calculate the advantages to be derived from placing herself beyond the reach of her enemies. Besides, it was necessary to do something, and that quickly. The day, indeed, was cold and[Pg 146] stormy; but what were snow and sleet in comparison with the Yorkist foe, headed by a chief who had proved at Mortimer's Cross that he could exercise a degree of cruelty almost as unsparing as that of which, at Wakefield, she had been guilty? The queen, therefore, determined on carrying her husband and her son to Scotland; and the whole party, mounting in haste, rode northward with all the speed of which their horses were capable.

The way was long and the weather was cold; but the fear of pursuit overbore all such considerations, and the royal fugitives were fortunate enough to reach Newcastle without being overtaken by the light horsemen whom Edward had sent out in pursuit. From the banks of the Tyne the queen proceeded to Berwick, and thence found her way to Kirkcudbright. In that ancient town of Galloway, near which, on an island in Lockfergus, stood the palace of the old kings of the province, Margaret left her husband to tell his beads, while she undertook a journey to Edinburgh, that she might concert measures for another effort to retrieve her disasters.

At the Scottish court the unfortunate queen was received with distinction, and warm sympathy was expressed for her mishaps. But the Scots, though dealing in fair words, were in no mood to assist Margaret without a consideration; and, to tempt them,[Pg 147] she agreed to surrender the town of Berwick, the capital of the East Marches and the last remnant of the great Edwards' conquests in Scotland.

Berwick having thus been placed in their possession, the Scots commenced operations in favor of the Red Rose. One army attacked Carlisle, another made an incursion into the Bishopric of Durham. Both expeditions resulted in failure. Early in June, Warwick's brother, John Neville, Lord Montagu, defeated the Scots under the walls of Carlisle; and, ere the close of that month, the Lancastrians, under Lord De Roos, were routed at Ryton and Brancepath, in Durham.

Margaret, however, was in no humor to submit to fortune. Finding the Scottish court unable to render any effectual assistance, the exiled queen dispatched Somerset to implore aid from France. An appeal to the French monarch could hardly, she thought, fail of producing the desired effect; for he was her relative; he had negotiated her marriage with Henry; and he entertained so high an opinion of his fair kinswoman, that, at parting, he had remarked, almost with tears in his eyes, "I feel as though I had done nothing for my niece in placing her on one of the greatest of European thrones, for it is scarcely worthy of possessing her."

Misfortunes are said never to come singly; and Margaret had, ere long, reason to believe such to be[Pg 148] the case. Having lost her throne, she lost the only friend who, for her own sake, would have made any exertions to restore her. Ere Somerset reached the court of Paris, King Charles had expired at the age of threescore; and his son, known in history and romance as Louis the Crafty, had succeeded to the French crown.

Louis had no ambition to incur the enmity of Edward of York. He even evinced his disregard for his kinswoman's claims by causing Somerset and other Lancastrians to be arrested while they were traveling in the disguise of merchants. The duke was, ere long, set free, and admitted to the king's presence; but he could not prevail on Louis to run any risk for the house of Lancaster; and, after lurking for a time at Bruges, to elude Edward's spies, he was fain to return to Scotland.

This was not the worst. The mission of Somerset proved doubly unfortunate. Not only had he failed in his object with the King of France, but he had given mortal offense to the Queen of Scots. The duke, it would seem, had, during his residence in Scotland, been attracted by the charms of Mary of Gueldres, and the widowed queen had showed for him a much too favorable regard. In an hour of indiscreet frankness Somerset revealed their familiarity to the King of France; and, the secret becoming known at Paris, reached the Scottish court. The[Pg 149] royal widow, on learning that her weakness was publicly talked of, felt the liveliest indignation; and forthwith employed Hepburn of Hailes, a new lover, to avenge her mortally on the chief of the Beauforts. Moreover, she availed herself of the opportunity to break off friendly relations with the Lancastrian exiles.

Matters had now, in fact, reached such a stage that Mary of Gueldres could hardly have avoided a quarrel with the Lancastrians. The young King of England was far from indifferent to the advantage of a close alliance with the Scots; and Warwick commenced negotiations by proposing, on behalf of Edward, a marriage with their queen. Crossing the Border in the spring of 1462, the king-maker arrived at Dumfries to arrange a matrimonial treaty.

Margaret of Anjou must now have been somewhat perplexed. Even if she had not received warning to quit the country, the presence of "The Stout Earl" at Dumfries was a hint not to be mistaken. Feeling that it was time to be gone, the Lancastrian queen obtained a convoy of four Scottish ships, and, embarking with her son, sailed for the Continent. Landing on the coast of Brittany, Margaret visited the duke of that province; and he, compassionating her misfortunes, advanced her a sum of money. After passing some time with King René, who was then at Anjou, she proceeded with[Pg 150] the Prince of Wales to the French court, and implored Louis to aid in restoring Henry of Windsor to his father's throne.

The French monarch had as little inclination as before to rush into war with a powerful nation merely to redress the wrongs of a distressed princess. But Louis had a keen eye to his own interests, and no objection to meet Margaret's wishes, if, while doing so, he could advance his projects. He, therefore, went cunningly to work, declaring at first that his own poverty was such as to preclude the possibility of interference in the affairs of others, but gradually making Margaret comprehend that he would furnish her with money if Calais were assigned to him as security.

After the battle of Cressy, Calais had been taken from the French by the third Edward, and was a conquest for a king to boast of. Such, at least, continued the opinion of the commons of England. Indeed, when sighing over the memory of Cressy, Poictiers, and Agincourt, and reflecting on their subsequent disasters, patriots never failed to console themselves with the thought that, so long as Calais remained in their possession, they carried the keys of France and of Flanders at their girdle. Margaret did not, of course, sympathize with such sentiments; and, catching at the proposal of Louis, she put Calais in pawn for twenty thousand livres.[Pg 151] Having received this sum, she raised an army of two thousand men.

At that time there was languishing in prison a French captain of great renown, named Peter de Brezé, who, in the reign of King Charles, had occupied a high position, and greatly distinguished himself at a tournament held in honor of Margaret's bridal. Inspired on that occasion by the Provençal princess with a chivalrous devotion which was proof against time and change, he offered, if set free, to conduct her little army to England; and Louis, hoping, it is said, that the brave captain might perish in the enterprise, gave him his liberty.

Brezé, embarking with the queen, set sail for Northumberland. Fortune did not, in any respect, favor the invaders. They, indeed, escaped the vigilance of Edward's fleet, and attempted to land at Tynemouth; but, the weather proving unfavorable, they were driven ashore near Bamburgh. The queen had anticipated that the whole north would hail her coming, but she was utterly disappointed; for, instead of friends rushing to her aid, there appeared Sir Robert Manners of Etal, and the Bastard Ogle, who, zealous for the White Rose, attacked her little force with so much determination that the Frenchmen were utterly routed.

Margaret was fain to turn toward Berwick; but, undismayed by reverses, she determined to persevere.[Pg 152] Leaving her son in safety, and having been joined by some English exiles and a body of Scots, she seized the Castles of Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh, and Alnwick. While in Alnwick, the strong-hold of the Percies, she was dismayed by intelligence of Warwick's approach; and, after taking counsel with Brezé, retired to her ships. As she put to sea, however, a storm arose, scattered her little fleet, and wrecked the vessels bearing her money and stores on the rocky coast of Northumberland. The queen was in the utmost danger; but, having been placed on board a fishing-boat, she had the fortune, in spite of wind and weather, to reach Berwick.

Warwick, meanwhile, approached with twenty thousand men; and Edward, following, took up his quarters at Durham. The queen's French troops fared badly. Five hundred of them, endeavoring to maintain themselves on Holy Island, were cut to pieces; and the garrisons of the three northern castles were soon in a desperate condition. Indeed, the plight of the Lancastrians appeared so utterly hopeless, that Somerset submitted to Edward, and, having been received into the king's favor, fought against his old friends.

Becoming most anxious to save Brezé, who, within the Castle of Alnwick, was reduced to extremity, Margaret applied to George Douglas, Earl of Angus, to rescue the gallant Frenchman from the jeopardy[Pg 153] in which he was placed. "Madam," replied Angus, who was father of the famous Bell-the-Cat, "I will do my utmost;" and, having crossed the Border with a chosen band of spearmen, he broke through the ranks of the besiegers and carried off the garrison in safety.

The prospects of the Lancastrians were now dismal. Margaret, however, did not despair. Her courage was still too high—her spirit too haughty—to give up the game, which she had hitherto played with so little success. Being on the Scottish marches, she cultivated the friendship of those chiefs whose spearmen were the plague of lordly wardens and the terror of humble villagers.

In the halls of Border lords, who, with hands strong to smite, had, under their coats of mail, hearts far from insensible to the tears of a beautiful woman and the supplications of a distressed princess, Margaret told the story of her wrongs. With a voice now stirring as the sound of a trumpet, now melancholy as the wind sighing among sepulchral yews, she reminded them what she had been, when, eighteen years earlier, England's nobles paid homage to her at Westminster, as she sat on the throne, wearing the crown of gold and the mantle of purple; how, when a fugitive, pursued by enemies thirsting for her blood, she had endured want and hunger; and how, when an exile, depending for[Pg 154] bread on the charity of rivals, she had been humbled to beg from a Scottish archer the mite which she placed on the shrine of a saint. Her poetic eloquence, potent to move the heart, drew tears from ladies, and caused men to lay their hands upon their swords, and swear, by God and St. George, that such things must no longer be. Ever, when Margaret was in distress, and laid aside her imperious tone and haughty manner, she became too persuasive and insinuating to be resisted. It was impossible for listeners to resist the conclusion that of all injured ladies she had suffered most, and that they would be unworthy longer to wear the crest and plume of knights who did not use every effort to restore her to that throne which they believed her so well qualified to grace.

Thus it came to pass that when the winter of 1463 had passed, and the spring of 1464 again painted the earth, the Red Rose-tree began to blossom anew. Margaret found herself at the head of a formidable army; and Somerset, hearing of her success, deserted Edward's court, rode post-haste to the north, and took part in the Lancastrian insurrection. All over England there was a spirit of discontent with the new government; and Edward, while watching the movements of the malcontents, got so enthralled by female charms that, instead of taking the field against the Lancastrian warriors, he[Pg 155] was exerting all his skill to achieve a triumph over a Lancastrian widow. However, he called upon his subjects to arm in his defense, and ordered a numerous force to march to the aid of Lord Montagu, who commanded in the north.

Margaret was all fire and energy. Carrying in her train her meek husband and hopeful son, she, in April, once more raised the Lancastrian banner, and marched southward. Somerset and his brother, Edmund Beaufort, were already at her side; and thither, also, went Exeter, De Roos, Hungerford, with Sir Ralph Percy, who had for a while submitted to Edward, and Sir Ralph Grey, who, having been a violent Yorkist, had lately, in revenge for not being granted the Castle of Alnwick, become enthusiastic for Lancaster.

Montagu, as Warden of the Marches, now found his position too close to the enemy to be either safe or pleasant. Undismayed, however, that feudal captain met the crisis with a courage worthy of his noble name, and a vigilance worthy of his high office. At Hedgley Moor, near Wooler, on the 25th of April, he fell on a party of the Lancastrians, under Sir Ralph Percy, and defeated them with slaughter. Sir Ralph, a son of the great northern earl slain at St. Albans, and a high-spirited warrior, fell fighting, exclaiming, with his latest breath, "I have saved the bird in my bosom."

[Pg 156]

After having so auspiciously commenced his Northumbrian campaign, Montagu paused; but when Edward did not appear, the noble warden lost patience, and determined to strike a decisive blow. Hearing that the Lancastrians were encamped on Level's Plain, on the south side of the Dowel Water, near Hexham, he, on the 8th of May, bore down upon their camp. Somerset, who commanded the Lancastrians, was taken by surprise, and, indeed, had at no time the martial skill to contend with such a captain as Montagu. The northern men, however, met the unexpected attack with their usual intrepidity; but their courage proved of no avail. For a time, it appears that neither side could boast of any advantage; till Montagu, growing impatient, urged his men to "do it valiantly;" and, after a desperate effort, the Yorkists entered the queen's camp. A bloody conflict ensued; the Lancastrians were put to the rout; poor Henry fled in terror and amaze, and, mounted on a swift steed, contrived to get out of the fray, leaving part of his equipage in the hands of the victors.

A few days after Hexham, Edward arrived at York, and, having been there met by Montagu, was presented with the high cap of state called "Abacot," which Henry of Windsor had left behind on the day of battle. Out of gratitude, the king granted to his victorious warden the earldom of Northumberland,[Pg 157] which, having been forfeited by the Percies, whose heir was then either a captive in the Tower or an exile in Scotland, could hardly have been more appropriately bestowed than on a lineal descendant of Cospatrick and Earl Uchtred.

Edward, however, had to punish as well as reward, and such of the Lancastrians as fell into the hands of the victors were treated with extreme severity. Somerset, who knew not where to turn, who had no reason to expect mercy in England, and no reason to expect protection in Scotland—since his revelations as to Mary of Gueldres had led Warwick to break off matrimonial negotiations on behalf of Edward—was discovered lurking in a wood, carried to Hexham, tried by martial law, and beheaded. The ill-starred duke died unmarried, but not without issue; and his descendants, in the illegitimate line, were destined to occupy a high place among the modern aristocracy of England. It happened that a fair being, named Joan Hill, without being a wife, became a mother. Of her son, Somerset was understood to be the father. After the duke's execution, the boy went by the name of Charles Somerset; and, as years passed over, he won the favor of the Tudors. By Henry the Eighth he was created Earl of Worcester; and by Charles the Second the Earls of Worcester were elevated in the peerage to the dukedom of Beaufort.

[Pg 158]

About the time when Somerset perished on the scaffold, the Red Rose lost a chief, scarcely less conspicuous, by the death of Lord de Roos. His widow found a home with her eldest daughter, the wife of Sir Robert Manners, of Etal; his son Edmund escaped to the Continent; and his Castle of Belvoir, inherited through an ancestress from William de Albini, was granted by King Edward to William Hastings, who, since Towton, had become a baron of the realm, and husband of Warwick's sister, Katherine Neville, the widow of Lord Bonville, slain at Wakefield. Hastings hurried to Leicestershire, to take possession of Belvoir; but the county, faithful to the banished De Roos, turned out under an esquire named Harrington and compelled the Yorkist lord to fly. Perceiving that to hold the castle under such circumstances would be no easy task, Hastings returned with a large force, spoiled the building, and carried off the leads to the stately pile he was rearing at Ashby de la Zouch.

The Lord Hungerford, with Sir Humphrey Neville, and William Tailbois, whom the Lancastrians called Earl of Kent, died, like Somerset, on the scaffold. But a punishment much more severe was added in the case of Sir Ralph Grey. This unfortunate renegade, when found in the Castle of Bamburgh, was condemned, ere being executed, to degradation from the rank of knighthood. Every thing[Pg 159] was prepared for the ceremony; and the master cook, with his apron and knife, stood ready to strike off the gilded spurs close by the heels. But from respect to the memory of the knight's grandfather, who had suffered much for the king's ancestors, this part of the punishment was remitted.

The hopes of the Lancastrians could hardly have survived so signal a disaster as their defeat at Hexham, if one circumstance had not rendered the victory of Montagu incomplete. Margaret of Anjou had, as if by miracle, escaped; and, while she was in possession of life and liberty, friends and adversaries were alike conscious that no battle, however bravely fought or decisively won, could secure the crown or assure the succession to the house of York.


[Pg 160]

CHAPTER XVIII.

THE WOODVILLES.

About the opening of 1464, Edward, King of England, then in his twenty-fourth year, was diverting himself with the pleasures of the chase in the forest of Whittlebury.

One day, when hunting in the neighborhood of Grafton, the king rode to that manor-house and alighted to pay his respects to Jacqueline, Duchess of Bedford. The visit was, perhaps, not altogether prompted by courtesy. He was then watching, with great suspicion, the movements of the Lancastrians, and he probably hoped to elicit from the duchess, who was a friend of Margaret of Anjou, some intelligence as to the intentions of the faction to which she belonged—forgetting, by-the-by, that the duchess was a woman of great experience, and had long since, under trying circumstances, learned how to make words conceal her thoughts.

Jacqueline of Luxembourg, a daughter of the Count of St. Pol, when young, lively, and beautiful, found herself given in marriage to John, Duke of Bedford. John was a famous man, doubtless, but very considerably the senior of his bride; and when[Pg 161] he died at Rouen, Jacqueline probably considered that, in any second matrimonial alliance, she ought to take the liberty of consulting her own taste. In any case, one of the duke's esquires, Richard Woodville by name, was appointed to escort her to England; and he, being among the handsomest men in Europe, made such an impression on the heart of the youthful widow, that a marriage was the result. For seven long years their union was kept secret; but at length circumstances rendered concealment impossible, and the marriage became a matter of public notoriety.

The discovery that the widow of the foremost prince and soldier of Europe had given her hand to a man who could not boast of a patrician ancestor or a patriotic achievement caused much astonishment, and such was the indignation of Jacqueline's own kinsmen that Woodville never again ventured to show his face on the Continent. To the esquire and the duchess, however, the consequences, though inconvenient, were not ruinous. A fine of a thousand pounds was demanded from Woodville; and, having paid that sum, he was put in possession of Jacqueline's castles.

As time passed on, the Duchess of Bedford, as "a foreign lady of quality," insinuated herself into the good graces of Margaret of Anjou; and Woodville was, through the interest of his wife, created a baron.[Pg 162] About the same period their eldest daughter, Elizabeth, became a maid of honor to the queen, and, subsequently, wife of John Grey of Groby, a zealous Lancastrian, who died after the second battle of St. Albans. Finding herself a widow, and the times being troublous, Elizabeth placed herself under the protection of her mother at Grafton. There she was residing when the Yorkist king appeared to pay his respects to the duchess.

Elizabeth probably regarded Edward's visit as providential. She had two sons; and, as the partisans of York were by no means in a humor to practice excessive leniency to the vanquished, the heirs of Grey were in danger of losing lands and living for their father's adherence to the Red Rose. Believing that she had now a capital opportunity of obtaining the removal of the attainder, she resolved to throw herself at the king's feet and implore his clemency.

An oak-tree between Grafton and Whittlebury Forest has since been indicated by tradition as the scene of Elizabeth Woodville's first interview with Edward of York. Standing under the branches, holding her sons by the hand, and casting down her eyes with an affectation of extreme modesty, the artful widow succeeded in arresting his attention. Indeed, there was little chance of Edward of York passing such a being without notice. Elizabeth was[Pg 163] on the shady side of thirty, to be sure; but time had not destroyed the charms that, fifteen years earlier, had brought suitors around the portionless maid of honor. Her features were remarkable for regularity; her complexion was fair and delicate, and her hair of that pale golden hue then deemed indispensable in a beauty of rank.

Edward's eye was arrested, and, being in the fever of youth, with a heart peculiarly susceptible, he was captivated by the fair suppliant. Too young and confident to believe in the possibility of his addresses being rejected, the king made love, though not in such terms as please the ear of a virtuous woman. Elizabeth, however, conducted herself with rare discretion, and made her royal lover understand that monarchs sometimes sigh in vain. At length the duchess took the matter in hand; and, under the influence of a tactician so expert, the enamored king set prudential considerations at defiance, and offered to take the young widow for better or for worse. A secret marriage was then projected; Jacqueline applied her energies to the business; and, with her experience of matrimonial affairs, the duchess found no difficulty in arranging every thing to satisfaction.

The ceremony was fixed for the 1st of May, and, since privacy was the object, the day was well chosen. Indeed, May-day was the festival which people regarded[Pg 164] as next in importance to Christmas; and they were too much taken up with its celebration to pry into the secrets of others. It was while milkmaids, with pyramids of silver plate on their heads, were dancing from door to door, and every body was preparing to dance round the maypole, that Edward secretly met his bride at the chapel of Grafton, and solemnized that marriage which was destined to bring such evils on the country. As the duchess probably suspected that it was not the first time the king had figured as a bridegroom, she was careful, in the event of any dispute arising, to provide herself with other witnesses than the priest and the mass-boy. With this view she brought two of her waiting-women; and the king, having gone through the ceremony, took his departure as secretly as he came. Ere long, however, Edward intimated to the father of the bride that he intended to spend some time with him at Grafton; and Woodville, who still feigned ignorance of the marriage, took care that his royal son-in-law should have nothing to complain of in regard to the entertainment.

Having thus wedded her daughter to the chief of the White Rose, the Duchess of Bedford converted her husband and sons from violent Lancastrians into unscrupulous Yorkists, and then manifested a strong desire to have the marriage acknowledged. This was a most delicate piece of business, and, managed[Pg 165] clumsily, might have cost the king his crown. It happened, however, that while Edward, in the shades of Grafton, had forgotten every thing that he ought to have remembered, Montagu, by his victory at Hexham, had so firmly established Edward's power that the king deemed himself in a position to inflict signal chastisement on any one venturesome enough to dispute his sovereign will. Nevertheless, it was thought prudent to ascertain the feeling of the nation before taking any positive step; and agents were employed for that purpose.

Warwick and Montagu were not, of course, the men for this kind of work. The chief person engaged in the inquiry, indeed, appears to have been Sir John Howard, a knight of Norfolk, whose family had, in the fourteenth century, been raised from obscurity by a successful lawyer, and, in the fifteenth, elevated somewhat higher by a marriage with the Mowbrays, about the time when the chief of that great house was under attainder and in exile. Howard, inspired, perhaps, by his Mowbray blood, cherished an ardent ambition to enroll his name among the old nobility of England; and, to get one inch nearer the gratification of his vanity, he appears to have undertaken any task, however undignified. Even on this occasion he was not by any means too nice for the duty to be performed; and he was careful to return an answer likely to please those who[Pg 166] were most interested. Finding that the Woodvilles were rising in the world, he reported, to their satisfaction, that the people were well disposed in regard to the king's marriage. At the same time the aspiring knight was not forgetful of his own interests. He entreated the Woodvilles to obtain, for himself and his spouse, places in the new queen's household; and, by way of securing Elizabeth's favor, presented her with a palfrey, as a mark of his devotion to her service. What dependence was to be placed on the faith or honor of Sir John Howard, Elizabeth Woodville found twenty years later, when her hour of trial and tribulation came.

And now Edward, whose fortunes half the royal damsels of Europe, among others Isabella of Castile, afterward the great Queen of Spain, were eager to share, resolved upon declaring his marriage to the world; and, with that purpose, he summoned a great council, to meet at the Abbey of Reading, in the autumn of 1464. Having there presented Elizabeth to the assembled peers as their queen, he ordered preparations to be made for her coronation in the ensuing spring.

In the mean time, the king's marriage caused serious discontent. Warwick and Edward's brother, the young Duke of Clarence, in particular, expressed their displeasure; the barons murmured that no King of England, since the Conquest, had dared to marry[Pg 167] his own subject; and ladies of high rank, like the Nevilles and De Veres, were, in no slight degree, indignant at having set over them one whom they had been accustomed to consider an inferior. At the same time, the multitude, far from regarding the marriage with the favor which Sir John Howard had led the Woodvilles to believe, raised the cry that the Duchess of Bedford was a witch, and that it was under the influence of the "forbidden spells" she practiced that the young king had taken the fatal step of espousing her daughter.

But nobody was more annoyed at Edward's marriage than his own mother, Cicely, Duchess of York, who, in other days, had been known in the north as "The Rose of Raby," and who now maintained great state at Baynard's Castle. From the beginning, Elizabeth found no favor in the eyes of her mother-in-law. With the beauty of the Nevilles, Cicely inherited a full share of their pride; and, in her husband's lifetime, she had assumed something like regal state. To such a woman an alliance with third-rate Lancastrians was mortifying, and she bitterly reproached her son with the folly of the step he had taken. Moreover, she upbraided him with faithlessness to another lady; but Edward treated the matter with characteristic recklessness. "Madam," said he, "for your objection of bigamy, by God's Blessed Lady, let the bishop lay it to my[Pg 168] charge when I come to take orders; for I understand it is forbidden to a priest, though I never wist it was forbidden to a prince."

Not insensible, however, to the sneers of which Elizabeth was the object, Edward determined on proving to his subjects that his bride was, after all, of royal blood, and therefore no unfit occupant of a throne. With this purpose he entreated Charles the Rash, Count of Charolois, and heir of Burgundy, to send her uncle, James of Luxembourg, to the coronation. The count, it appears, had never acknowledged the existence of the Duchess of Bedford since her second marriage; but, on hearing of the position Jacqueline's daughter had attained, his sentiments as to the Woodville alliance underwent a complete change, and he promised to take part in the coronation.

Faithful to his promise, the count appeared in England with a magnificent retinue; and his niece was brought from the palace of Eltham, conducted in great state through the city of London, and crowned, with much pomp, at Westminster. Hardly, however, had Elizabeth Woodville been invested with the symbols of royalty, than she found the crown sit uneasily on her head. The efforts made to render King Edward's marriage popular had failed. Even the presence of a Count of Luxembourg had not produced the effect anticipated. Still the old barons[Pg 169] of England grumbled fiercely; and still the people continued to denounce the Duchess of Bedford as a sorceress who had bewitched the king into marrying her daughter. Ere long, this widow of a Lancastrian knight, when sharing the throne of the Yorkist king, found that, with the White Rose, she had plucked the thorn.

The new queen conducted herself in such a way as rapidly to increase the prejudices of the nation. After her marriage she too frequently reminded people of the school in which she had studied the functions of royalty. Indeed, Elizabeth Woodville, when elevated to a throne, assumed a tone which great queens like Eleanor of Castile and Philippa of Hainault would never have dreamed of using. Charitably inclined as the patrician ladies of England might be, they could hardly help remarking that Margaret of Anjou's maid of honor did credit to the training of her mistress.

The people of England might have learned to bear much from Edward's wife; but, unfortunately, the queen was intimately associated in the public mind with the rapacity of her "kindred." Elizabeth's father, Richard Woodville, was created Earl Rivers, and appointed Treasurer of England; and she had numerous brothers and sisters, for all of whom fortunes had to be provided. Each of the sisters was married to a noble husband—Katherine,[Pg 170] the youngest, to Henry Stafford, the boy-Duke of Buckingham; and for each of the brothers an heiress to high titles and great estates had to be found. Unfortunately, while the Woodvilles were pursuing their schemes of family aggrandizement, their interests clashed with those of two powerful and popular personages. These were the Duchess of York and the Earl of Warwick.

Among the old nobility of England, whose names are chronicled by Dugdale, the Lord Scales occupied an eminent position. At an early period they granted lands to religious houses and made pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and in later days fought with the Plantagenet kings in the wars of Scotland and France. The last chief of the name, who, after Northampton, suffered for his fidelity to the house of Lancaster, left no sons. One daughter, however, survived him; and this lady, having been married to a younger son of the Earl of Essex, was now a widow, twenty-four years of age, and one of the richest heiresses in England.

Upon the heiress of Scales, Elizabeth Woodville and the Duchess of York both set their hearts. The Duchess wished to marry the wealthy widow to her son George, Duke of Clarence; and the queen was not less anxious to bestow the young lady's hand on her brother, Anthony Woodville, who was one of the most accomplished gentlemen of the age. The[Pg 171] contest between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law was, doubtless, keen. The queen, however, carried her point; and the duchess retreating, baffled and indignant, wrapped herself up in cold hauteur.

Of all the English heiresses of that day, the greatest, perhaps, was the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Exeter. The duke, having fought at Towton and Hexham for the Red Rose, was now braving poverty and exile for the house of Lancaster; but the duchess had not deemed it necessary to make any such sacrifice. Being a daughter of the Duke of York, she remained quietly at the court of King Edward, her brother, and, while enjoying the estates of her banished husband, acquired the right to dispose of his daughter's hand.

The heiress of the Hollands was, of course, a prize much coveted; and Warwick thought her hand so desirable, that he solicited her in marriage for his nephew, young George Neville, the son of Lord Montagu. The queen, however, was determined to obtain this heiress for her eldest son, Thomas Grey, who had been created Marquis of Dorset. The Duchess of Exeter was, accordingly, dealt with, and in such a fashion that the earl was disappointed, while the queen congratulated her son on having obtained a bride worthy of the rank to which he had been elevated.

[Pg 172]

Warwick was nephew of the Duchess of York, and both had already a grievance of which to complain. They were now to have their family pride wounded in a manner which, to souls so haughty, must have been well-nigh intolerable.

Long ere the Wars of the Roses were thought of, Katherine Neville, elder sister of the proud duchess, and aunt of "The Stout Earl," was espoused by John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. The duke departed this life in 1433, and Katherine gave her hand to an esquire named Strangways. When time passed on, and Strangways died, she consoled herself with a third husband in the person of Viscount Beaumont. The viscount went the way the duke and the esquire had gone, and Katherine found herself a third time a widow. But the dowager had buried her share of husbands; she had passed the age of eighty; and as to a fourth dash at matrimony, that was surely a subject which could never have entered into her head.

The Woodvilles were aware of the existence of the old Duchess of Norfolk, and knew that the venerable dame was rich; and the queen's youngest brother remained to be provided for. Setting decency at defiance, they resolved upon a match; and though the wealthy dowager had considerably passed the age of fourscore, and John Woodville had just emerged from his teens, a marriage was solemnized.[Pg 173] The nation was deeply disgusted with the avarice manifested on this occasion. Even Sir John Howard must now have confessed that the king's alliance with the Woodvilles was not quite so satisfactory to the people as he had predicted. The clamor raised was too loud and general to be either disregarded or suppressed. The Nevilles must have writhed under the ridicule to which their aged kinswoman was exposed; other adherents of the White Rose must have blushed for the disgrace reflected on Edward of York from his wife's family; and the Lancastrian exiles, wearing threadbare garments and bearing fictitious names, as they climbed narrow stairs and consumed meagre fare in the rich cities of Flanders, must have felt hope and taken heart, when to their ears came tidings of the shout of indignation which all England was raising against the new "queen's kindred."


[Pg 174]

CHAPTER XIX.

THE LANCASTRIANS IN EXILE.

On that day when Lord Montagu inflicted so severe a defeat on the Lancastrians at Hexham, and while the shouts of victory rose and swelled with the breeze, a lady of thirty-five, but still possessing great personal attractions, accompanied by a boy just entering his teens, fled for safety into a forest which then extended over the district, and was known far and wide as a den of outlaws. The lady was Margaret of Anjou; the boy was Edward of Lancaster; and, unfortunately for them, under the circumstances, the dress and appearance of the royal fugitives marked them too plainly as personages of the highest rank.

While treading the forest path with a tremulous haste, which indicated some apprehension of pursuit, Margaret and her son suddenly found themselves face to face with a band of ferocious robbers. The bandits were far from paying any respect to the queen's rank or sex. Having seized her jewels and other valuables, they dragged her forcibly before the chief of the gang, held a drawn sword before her eyes, and menaced her with instant death. Margaret[Pg 175] besought them to spare her life, but her prayers and tears had no effect whatever in melting their hearts; and they appeared on the point of carrying their threats into execution, when, luckily, they fell to wrangling over the partition of the spoil, and, ere long, took to settling the dispute by strength of hand.

Alarmed, as Margaret well might be, she did not lose her presence of mind. No sooner did she observe the bandits fighting among themselves than she looked around for a way of escape; and, seizing a favorable opportunity, she hurried her son into a thicket which concealed them from view. Pursuing their way till the shades of evening closed over the forest, the royal fugitives, faint from fatigue and want of food, seated themselves under an oak-tree, and bewailed their fate.

No wonder that, at such moments of desolation and distress, the Lancastrian queen felt a temptation to rid herself of a life which misfortune made so miserable. Even the heroic spirit of Margaret might have given way under circumstances so depressing as those in which she was now placed. But a new and unexpected danger occurred to recall her to energy while indulging in those pensive reflections; for, as the moon began to shine through the branches of the trees, she suddenly became aware of the approach of an armed man of huge stature. At first[Pg 176] she was under the impression that he was one of the robbers from whom she had already experienced treatment so cruel, and gave herself up for lost; but seeing, by the light of the moon, that his dress and appearance were quite different, she breathed a prayer, and resolved upon a great effort to save herself and her son.

Margaret knew that escape was impossible. She, therefore, made no attempt at flight; but, rising, she took her son by the hand, advanced to meet the man, explained in pathetic language the distress in which she was, and, as a woman and a princess, claimed his protection. "It is the unfortunate Queen of England," said Margaret, "who has fallen into your hands;" and then, suiting the action to the word, she added in accents not to be resisted, "There, my friend, I commit to your care the safety of your king's son."

[Pg 177] THE QUEEN IN THE OUTLAW'S CAVE.
[Pg 178]THE QUEEN IN THE OUTLAW'S CAVE.

The queen had taken a bold course, but she had correctly calculated the effect of her appeal. Her courage and presence of mind had saved her. The generosity of the outlaw prevailed; and, touched with the confidence reposed in him, he threw himself at Margaret's feet, and vowed to do all in his power to save the mother and the son. Having once promised, the man of the forest kept his word with a loyalty that his betters might have envied. He conducted the fugitives to his dwelling in a [Pg 179] rock, which is still shown as "The Queen's Cave," instructed his wife to do every thing that would tend to their comfort, and promised to discover for them the means of escape.

Leaving Margaret and her son in his cave, the mouth of which was protected by the bank of a rivulet, and screened from view by brushwood, the outlaw went to inquire after such of her friends as had escaped the carnage of Hexham. More fortunate than could have been expected, he met Sir Peter Brezé, who was wandering about looking for the queen, and, soon after, Brezé found the Duke of Exeter, who had concealed himself in a neighboring village, and, with the duke, Edmund Beaufort, who had now, by the death of his brother on the scaffold, become head of the house of Somerset. With these noblemen, Margaret and the prince went secretly to Carlisle, and there, with the assistance of the generous outlaw, embarked for Kirkcudbright.

Margaret, on reaching Scotland, visited Edinburgh to make another appeal to the government, but was not successful in obtaining farther aid. In fact, although the matrimonial negotiations between Mary of Gueldres and Edward of York had come to naught, the Scottish government was now utterly hostile to the interests of Lancaster. The Duke of Burgundy, hereditary foe of Margaret, had sent Louis de Bruges, one of his noblemen, as embassador[Pg 180] to the Scottish court, and contrived to make the regency play false, repudiate the marriage between the Prince of Wales and the Princess of Scotland, and conclude a treaty with the new King of England.

The Lancastrians now perceived that for the present action was impossible, and exile inevitable. Even in France their influence had diminished; for, since Margaret's visit to Paris, Mary of Anjou, her aunt and the mother of Louis, had died; and less inclination than ever felt the crafty king to make sacrifices for his fiery kinswoman. Margaret, therefore, yielded to fate, and, not without vowing vengeance on Burgundy, submitted to the harsh necessity of once more returning to the Continent. With this view, she repaired to Bamburgh, which was still held by Lancastrians, and with her son, and Sir Peter Brezé, and seven ladies, she embarked for France.

It was summer, but notwithstanding the season the weather proved unpropitious, and the unfortunate queen, driven by adverse winds, was under the necessity of putting into a port belonging to the Duke of Burgundy. Enemy of her father as the duke was, Margaret determined upon seeing him, and, suppressing all feelings of delicacy, she dispatched a messenger to demand an interview.

The house of Burgundy, like that of Anjou, derived descent from the kings of France, but had been[Pg 181] blessed with far fairer fortunes. About 1360, on the death of Philip de Rouvre, the dukedom, having reverted to the crown, was bestowed by King John on his fourth son, Philip the Bold. Philip played his cards well. While his brother Charles was struggling with the English, he became an independent prince by espousing the heiress of Flanders; and his son, John the Fearless, played a conspicuous part in those civil commotions that preceded the battle of Agincourt. The son of John, known as Philip the Good, affected greater state than any prince of his age, and instituted the order of the Golden Fleece to mark the splendor of his reign.

Philip's first wife was Michelle, daughter of the King of France, and sister of Katherine de Valois. His second wife was Isabel of Portugal, a granddaughter of John of Gaunt. The good duke was, therefore, nearly and doubly connected with the house of Lancaster. Unfortunately, however, Philip had proved an enemy of King René; and Margaret, who from infancy had cherished a bitter hatred toward the house of Burgundy, was reputed to have vowed that if ever the duke was at her mercy the executioner's axe should pass between his head and his shoulders. Such having been the language held by the queen, it is not wonderful that the duke, while receiving her message with politeness, should have pleaded sickness as an excuse for not granting her a personal interview.

[Pg 182]

Margaret was in no mood to be satisfied with excuses. She had expressed her intention of seeing the duke, and was determined to accomplish her purpose. She was hardly in a condition, indeed, to pay a royal visit, for her purse was empty, and her wardrobe reduced to the smallest compass. But, scorning to be subdued by fortune, the queen hired a cart covered with canvas, and, leaving her son at Bruges, commenced her progress to St. Pol, where the duke was then residing. It was about the time when Margaret, dressed in threadbare garments, was traveling from Bruges to St. Pol in a covered cart, that, in the Abbey of Reading, her maid of honor, Elizabeth Woodville, was presented to peers and prelates as Queen of England.

While pursuing her journey, with a spirit of heroism which set outward circumstances at defiance, Margaret was met by Charles the Rash, that impersonation of feudal pride, whose exploits against the Swiss, when Duke of Burgundy, have been celebrated by Sir Walter Scott. Charles, at this time, had hardly passed the age of thirty, and, as son and heir of Philip the Good, with whom he was then at enmity, bore the title of Count of Charolois. As the son of Isabel of Portugal, and great-grandson of John of Gaunt, the count had always declared himself friendly to the house of Lancaster, and he now manifested his sympathy by treating Margaret with[Pg 183] chivalrous respect. Moreover, on being made aware of her extreme poverty, Charolois presented her with five hundred crowns; and Burgundy, hearing of the landing of English forces at Calais, sent a body of his archers to escort her from Bethune to St. Pol. Having, after her interview with Charolois, pursued her way toward Bethune, and escaped some English horsemen who lay in wait to arrest her, she reached St. Pol in safety.

Duke Philip did not immediately grant Margaret an interview. After some delay, however, he indulged her wish; and, touched with compassion at the sight of a great queen reduced to a plight so hapless, entertained her with princely courtesy, and treated her with all the honors due to royalty. Having listened to the story of Margaret's woes, he gave her two thousand crowns of gold, and advised her to await events with patience. As Margaret parted from the duke her heart melted, and she shed tears as she bade adieu to the old man whom she had threatened to behead as she had done York and Salisbury. Perhaps on that occasion she, for one of the first times in her life, felt something like remorse. "The queen," says Monstrelet, "repented much and thought herself unfortunate that she had not sooner thrown herself on the protection of the noble Duke of Burgundy, as her affairs would probably have prospered better."

[Pg 184]

Having returned to Bruges, and been joined by the Prince of Wales, Margaret paid a visit to the Count of Charolois. Never were royal exiles more royally treated. The count exhibited a degree of delicacy and generosity worthy of an earlier era; and, indeed, was so deferential, that the Prince of Wales, who had known little of royalty but its perils and misfortunes, could not refrain from expressing his surprise.

"These honors," said the boy, "are not due from you to us; neither in your father's dominions should precedence be given to persons so destitute as we are."

"Unfortunate though you be," answered the count, "you are the son of the King of England, while I am only the son of a ducal sovereign; and that is not so high a rank."

Leaving Bruges with her son, Margaret was escorted to Barr with all the honor due to the royal rank. At Barr, the exiled queen was met and welcomed by her father, King René, who gave her an old castle in Verdun as a residence till better days should come. Thither Margaret went to establish her little court; and thither, to be educated in the accomplishments in fashion at the period, she carried the young prince around whom all her hopes now clustered.

Two hundred Lancastrians of name and reputation[Pg 185] shared the exile of Margaret of Anjou. Among these were Lord Kendal, a Gascon; the Bishop of St. Asaph, the young Lord De Roos and his kinsman, Sir Henry; John Courtenay, younger brother of Devon's Earl; Edmund Beaufort, the new Duke of Somerset, and his brother John, whom the Lancastrians called Marquis of Dorset; Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter—always, notwithstanding his relationship to Edward, faithful to the Red Rose; Jasper Tudor, who clung to Lancaster as if with a prophetic notion that with the fortunes of the house were associated those of his own family; John Morton, Parson of Blokesworth, whose talents subsequently made him a cardinal and an archbishop; and Sir John Fortescue, Chief Justice of England, one of the most upright judges who ever wore the ermine. Such men, when the fortunes of the house of Lancaster were at their worst, were prepared to suffer poverty and want in Henry's cause.

The banished queen could ill brook the obscurity of Verdun. It soon appeared that, notwithstanding so many disheartening reverses, Margaret retained her courage unimpaired; and that want, disappointment, mortification, had been unable to break her spirit or conquer her ambition. Hardly had the court of the exiles been formed at Verdun, when the queen renewed her efforts to regain the crown which she had already found so thorny.

[Pg 186]

At that time Alphonso the Fifth reigned in Portugal; and Portugal was rich, owing to the quantity of gold yearly brought from Guinea. Moreover, King Alphonso was a remarkable man. In his fiery nature were blended all the elements of love, chivalry, and religion; and though living in the fifteenth century he resembled a paladin of the age of Roland and Oliver. Through his grandmother, Philippa of Lancaster, Alphonso inherited the blood of John of Gaunt; and it was supposed that he would naturally feel much of that sympathy for the house of Lancaster which had been ever expressed by the Count of Charolois.

Accordingly, Margaret turned her eyes toward Portugal for aid, and employed John Butler, Earl of Ormond, to enlist Alphonso in her cause. Ormond, who, upon the execution of his brother, the Earl of Wiltshire, after Towton, had become the chief of the Butlers, was one of the most accomplished gentlemen of his age, and a master of the various languages then spoken in Europe. No fitter embassador could have been found; but he was not successful. In fact, although Alphonso was all his life engaged in chimerical enterprises, he could hardly have indulged in the delusion of being able to wrest a crown from Edward Plantagenet and Richard Neville. Not even that knight-errant would risk reputation against such odds. At all[Pg 187] events the negotiation appears to have come to naught; and Ormond, doubtless, convinced that the fortunes of Lancaster were hopeless, returned to England, and made his submission. Edward restored the accomplished nobleman to the honors and estates of the Butlers, with a complimentary remark. "If good-breeding and liberal qualities," said the king, "were lost in all the world, they would still be found in the Earl of Ormond."

About the time when Ormond's mission failed, Margaret received intelligence that her husband had fallen into the hands of her enemies. Finding, perhaps, that Scottish hospitality was hard to bear, Henry, about a year after Hexham, removed to the north of England, and in July, 1465, while sitting at dinner in Waddington Hall, he was seized by Sir John Harrington, and sent prisoner to London. At Islington the captive king was met by Warwick, who lodged him securely in the Tower; and Henry, treated with humanity, forgot, in the practice of a monkish devotion, the crown he had lost and the world he had left.

The captivity of their king was not the only misfortune which, at this period, befell the Lancastrians. In 1467, Harleck Castle, their last strong-hold, was under the necessity of yielding. Davydd ap Jefan ap Einion held out to the last; but when the garrison was on the point of starvation, the brave Welsh[Pg 188] captain listened to the dictates of humanity, and surrendered with honor.

Even after the fall of Harleck, Margaret's high spirit sustained her hopes. In 1467, she is understood to have come to London, disguised as a priest, to rouse her partisans to action, and even to have had an interview with her husband in the Tower. Next year she sent Jasper Tudor to Wales; and he laid siege to Denbigh. King Edward himself was in the castle, and the utmost peril of being taken prisoner. He contrived to escape, however; and the fortress surrendered. But a Yorkist named William Herbert went with an army, and inflicted such a defeat on Jasper that he was fain to escape to the Continent. Nevertheless, in October, Margaret lay at Harfleur threatening an invasion. Edward, however, sent his brother-in-law, Anthony Woodville, who now, in right of his wife, figured as Lord Scales, to attack the fleet of his old patroness; and the exiled queen, seeing no chance of success, abandoned her expedition in despair.

But even in despair Margaret could show herself heroic and sublime. Thus, when some of her Continental kinsfolk were, in a vulgar spirit, lamenting her unfortunate marriage, and describing her union with the unhappy Henry as the cause of all her misfortune, she raised her head with regal pride, and contemptuously rebuked their foolish talk. "On the day of my betrothal," exclaimed she, with poetic[Pg 189] eloquence, "when I accepted the Rose of England, I knew that I must wear the rose entire and with all its thorns."

In the midst of adversity the exiled queen had one consolation. Edward, Prince of Wales, was a son of whom any mother might have been proud, and day by day he grew more accomplished in the warlike exercises of the age. Nor, though in almost hopeless adversity, did the prince lack instruction in weightier matters; for Fortescue undertook the task of educating the banished heir of Lancaster, endeavored so to form the mind of the royal boy as to enable him to enact in after years the part of a patriot-king, and compiled for his pupil the "De Laudibus Legum Anglić;" a work explaining the laws of England, and suggesting the improvements that might with advantage be introduced.

Five years of exile passed over; and during that time every attempt of the Lancastrians to better their position proved disastrous. It was when matters were at the worst—when the Red Rose had disappeared, and the Red Rose-tree had withered from England—that circumstances occurred which inspired the despairing adherents of the captive king with high hopes, diverted the thoughts of the exiled queen from reminiscences of the past to speculations on the future, and opened up to her son the prospect of a throne, only to conduct him to an untimely grave.


[Pg 190]

CHAPTER XX.

WARWICK AND THE WOODVILLES.

At a court, over which Elizabeth Woodville exercised all the influence derived from her rank as a queen and her fascination as a woman, the Earl of Warwick was somewhat out of place. By Woodvilles, Herberts, and Howards, he was regarded with awe and envy as the haughtiest representative of England's patricians. Especially to the queen and her kinsmen his presence was irksome; and, knowing that any attempt to make "The Stout Earl" a courtier after the Woodville pattern was hopeless as to convert a bird of prey into a barn-door fowl, they were at no pains to conceal the pleasure they felt in mortifying his pride and destroying his influence. One possibility does not seem to have struck them. The Woodvilles themselves, to receive benefits, had been suddenly converted from the Red Rose to the White; Warwick, to avenge the nation's injuries and his own, might as suddenly be converted from the White Rose to the Red.

Notwithstanding the exile of Lancastrians and the discontent of Yorkists, no court in Christendom was more brilliant than that of King Edward. Indeed,[Pg 191] foreign embassadors confessed, with mingled envy and admiration, that their eyes were dazzled by the surpassing loveliness of the damsels who appeared at state balls in the Palace of Westminster; and among these fair beings, perhaps, none was more interesting than the king's sister, Margaret, youngest daughter of Richard Plantagenet and Cicely Neville.

Two daughters of the Duke of York were already wives. Both had been married to English dukes—one to Exeter, another to Suffolk; and it was known that Edward, having, by his union with Elizabeth Woodville, lost the opportunity of allying himself with the Continental dynasties, contemplated for his remaining sister a marriage with some foreign prince capable of aiding him in case of a change of fortune.

Suitors were not, of course, wanting when so fair a princess as Margaret Plantagenet was to be won; and it happened that while Warwick was at feud with the Woodvilles—while the populace were clamoring against the new men with whom the king's court swarmed—her hand was contended for by Louis of France, for a prince of the blood royal, and by Louis of Bruges for the Count of Charolois, who, since his interview with Margaret of Anjou, had taken up arms against Louis and defeated him in the battle of Montlhéry. The choice was a matter of some difficulty; for the Woodvilles and Warwick took[Pg 192] different sides of the question. The queen's kindred favored the suit of the Count of Charolois; while "The Stout Earl," between whom and the Burgundian no amity existed, declared decidedly for an alliance with France. Edward was in some perplexity, but at length he yielded to the earl's arguments; and, in 1467, the frank, unsuspecting king-maker departed to negotiate a marriage with that celebrated master of kingcraft, whose maxim was, that he who knew not how to dissemble knew not how to reign.

When Louis heard of Warwick's embassy he could not help thinking the occasion favorable for the exercise of his craft. He resolved to give the earl such a reception as might stir the jealousy of Edward, and acted in such a manner as to create in the breast of the English king suspicions of the powerful noble who had placed him on a throne. Having landed at Harfleur, Warwick was, on the 7th of June, conveyed in a barge to the village of La Bouille, on the Seine. On arriving at La Bouille, he found a magnificent banquet prepared for him, and the king ready to act as host. After having been sumptuously feasted, Warwick embarked in his boat for Rouen, whither the king and his attendants went by land; and the inhabitants of the town met the earl at the gate of the Quay St. Eloy, where the king had ordered a most honorable reception. Banners,[Pg 193] crosses, and holy water were then presented to Warwick by priests in their copes; and he was conducted in procession to the cathedral, where he made his oblation, and thence to lodgings prepared for him at the monastery of the Jacobins.

Having thus received Warwick with the honors usually paid to royalty, Louis entertained the great earl in a style corresponding with the reception; and even ordered the queen and princesses to come to Rouen to testify their respect. The crafty king, meantime, did not refrain from those mischievous tricks at which he was such an adept. While Warwick staid at Rouen Louis lodged in the next house, and visited the earl at all hours, passing through a private door with such an air of mystery, as might, when reported to Edward, raise suspicions that some conspiracy had been hatching.

After the conference at Rouen had lasted for twelve days, Louis departed for Chartres, and Warwick set sail for England. The earl had been quite successful in the object of his mission; and he was accompanied home by the Archbishop of Narbonne, charged by Louis to put the finishing stroke to the treaty which was to detach the French king forever from the Lancastrian alliance.

Meanwhile, the Woodvilles had not been idle. Far from submitting patiently to the earl's triumph, they had labored resolutely to mortify his pride and[Pg 194] frustrate his mission. The business was artfully managed. Anthony Woodville, in the name of the ladies of England, revived an old challenge to Anthony, Count de la Roche, an illegitimate son of the Duke of Burgundy; and the count, commonly called "The Bastard of Burgundy," having accepted the challenge, with the usual forms, intimated his intention to come to England without delay.

The news crept abroad that a great passage of arms was to take place; and the highest expectations were excited by the prospect. The king himself entered into the spirit of the business, consented to act as umpire, and made such arrangements as, it was conceived, would render the tournament memorable. Several months were spent in adjusting the preliminaries; and the noblest knights of France and Scotland were invited to honor the tournament with their presence.

At length the Bastard of Burgundy arrived in London with a splendid retinue; and lists were erected in Smithfield, with pavilions for the combatants, and galleries around for the ladies of Edward's court and other noble personages who had been invited to witness the pageant. On the 11th of June, all the ceremonies prescribed by the laws of chivalry having been performed, the combatants prepared for the encounter, and advanced on horseback from their pavilions into the middle of the inclosed[Pg 195] space. After having answered the usual questions, they took their places in the lists, and, at the sound of trumpet, spurred their steeds and charged each other with sharp spears. Both champions, however, bore themselves fairly in the encounter, and parted with equal honor.

On the second day of the Smithfield tournament, the result was somewhat less gratifying to the Burgundian. On this occasion the champions again fought on horseback; and, as it happened, the steed of Anthony Woodville had a long and sharp pike of steel on his chaffron. This weapon was destined to have great influence on the fortunes of the day; for, while the combatants were engaged hand to hand, the pike's point entered the nostrils of the Bastard's steed, and the animal, infuriated by the pain, reared and plunged till he fell on his side. The Bastard was, of course, borne to the ground; and Anthony Woodville, riding round about with his drawn sword, asked his opponent to yield. At this point, the marshals, by the king's command, interfered, and extricated the Burgundian from his fallen steed. "I could not hold me by the clouds," exclaimed the brave Bastard; "but, though my horse fail me, I will not fail my encounter." The king, however, decided against the combat being then renewed.

Another day arrived, and the champions, armed with battle-axes, appeared on foot within the lists.[Pg 196] This day proved as unfortunate for the Bastard as the former had been. Both knights, indeed, bore themselves valiantly; but, at a critical moment, the point of Woodville's axe penetrated the sight-hole of his antagonist's helmet, and, availing himself of this advantage, Anthony was on the point of so twisting his weapon as to bring the Burgundian to his knee. At that instant, however, the king cast down his warder, and the marshals hastened to sever the combatants. The Bastard, having no relish for being thus worsted, declared himself far from content, and demanded of the king, in the name of justice, that he should be allowed to perform his enterprise. Edward thereupon appealed to the marshals; and they, having considered the matter, decided that by the laws of the tournament the Burgundian was entitled to have his demand granted; but that, in such a case, he must be delivered to his adversary in precisely the same predicament as when the king interfered—in fact, with the point of Anthony Woodville's weapon thrust into the crevice of his visor: "which," says Dugdale, "when the Bastard understood, he relinquished his farther challenge."

The tournament at Smithfield, unlike "the gentle passage at Ashby," terminated without bloodshed. Indeed, neither Anthony Woodville nor his antagonist felt any ambition to die in their harness[Pg 197] in the lists; and the Bastard, in visiting England, had a much more practical object in view than to afford amusement to gossiping citizens. He was, in fact, commissioned by the Count of Charolois to press the English king on the subject of a match with Margaret of York; and he played his part so well as to elicit from Edward, notwithstanding Warwick's embassy, a promise that the hand of the princess should be given to the heir of Burgundy. When Warwick returned from France and found what had been done in his absence, he considered that he had been dishonored. Such usage would, at any time, have grated hard on the earl's heart; and the idea of the Woodvilles having been the authors of this wrong made his blood boil with indignation. He forthwith retired to Middleham, in a humor the reverse of serene, and there brooded over his wrongs in a mood the reverse of philosophic.

The king did not allow the king-maker's anger to die for want of fuel. On the contrary, having given Warwick serious cause of offense, he added insult to injury by pretending that the earl had been gained over by Louis to the Lancastrian cause, and that the state was in no small danger from his treasonable attempts. At the same time, he abruptly deprived George Neville, Archbishop of York,[8] of the[Pg 198] office of chancellor—thus indicating still farther distrust of the great family to whose efforts he owed his crown.

While rumors as to Warwick's new-born sympathies with the house of Lancaster were afloat, the Castle of Harleck fell into the king's hands. Within the fortress was taken an agent of Margaret; and he, on being put to the rack, declared that Warwick, during his mission to France, had, at Rouen, spoken with favor of the exiled queen, during a confidential conversation with Louis. Warwick treated the accusation with contempt, and declined to leave his castle to be confronted with the accuser.

This unfortunate incident was little calculated to smooth the way for a reconciliation. Nevertheless,[Pg 199] the Archbishop of York, who had a keen eye for his own interest, undertook to mediate between his brother and the king. The churchman was successful in his efforts; and in July, 1468, when Margaret Plantagenet departed from England for her new home, Warwick rode before her, through the city of London, as if to indicate by his presence that he had withdrawn his objections to her marriage with the Count of Charolois, who, in the previous year, on the death of his father, had succeeded to the ducal sovereignty of Burgundy.

The chroniclers might with propriety have described this as a second "dissimulated love-day." No true reconcilement could take place between the king and the king-maker. Warwick considered Edward the most ungrateful of mankind; and the king thought of the earl, as the Regent-Duke of Albany said of the third Lord Home, that "he was too great to be a subject." The king regarded Warwick's patriotic counsel with aversion: the earl's discontent could be read by the multitude in his frank face. Each, naturally, began to calculate his strength.

Edward had one source of consolation. In giving his sister to Burgundy he had gained a potent ally on the Continent; and he rejoiced to think that, in the event of a change of fortune, a relative so near would assuredly befriend him. Edward, like other[Pg 200] men, deceived himself on such subjects. He little imagined how soon he would have to ask his brother-in-law's protection, and how he should find that Burgundy, while taking a wife from the house of York, had not quite laid his prejudices in favor of the house of Lancaster.

Warwick, on his part, felt aught rather than satisfied. Notwithstanding his appearance at court, he was brooding over the injury that he had received. Convinced of the expediency of making friends, he addressed himself to the king's brothers—George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Of Gloucester the earl could make nothing. The wily boy played with his dagger as he was wont, and maintained such a reserve that it would have been imprudent to trust him. With Clarence the earl had more success. Indeed, the duke complained of the king's unkindness; and particularly that though Edward had given rich heiresses to Dorset and Woodville, he had found no match for his own brother. Having both something of which to complain, the earl and the duke formed an alliance offensive and defensive; and a project was formed for binding them to each other by a tie which the Nevilles deemed could hardly be broken.

Warwick had not been blessed with a son to inherit his vast estates, his great name, and his popularity, which was quite undiminished. He, however,[Pg 201] had two daughters—Isabel and Anne—whose birth and lineage were such as to put them on a level with any prince in Europe. It appears that Isabel had inspired Clarence with an ardent attachment; but the king and "the queen's kindred" were averse to a match. Warwick now declared that the marriage should take place in spite of their hostility; and Clarence agreed, for Isabel's sake, to defy both Edward and the Woodvilles.

Having taken their resolution, the duke and the earl, in the summer of 1469, sailed for Calais, of which Warwick was still governor. Preparations were made for uniting Clarence and Isabel; and in the month of July, "in the Chapel of Our Lady," the ill-starred marriage was solemnized with a pomp befitting the rank of a Plantagenet bridegroom and a Neville bride.

King Edward no sooner heard of this marriage than he expressed strong displeasure. Unkind words passed in consequence; and, from that date, no affection existed between the king and the king-maker. About the same time there appeared in the heavens a comet, such as had been seen on the eve of great national changes—as before Hastings, which gave England to the Norman yoke, and Evesham, which freed Englishmen from the domination of a foreign baronage and an alien church. The superstitious were immediately struck with the "blazing[Pg 202] star," and expressed their belief that it heralded a political revolution. Others did not look at the sky for signs of a coming struggle. Indeed, those who were capable of comprehending the events passing before them could entertain little doubt that England had not yet seen the last of the Wars of the Roses.


[Pg 203]

CHAPTER XXI.

DESPOTISM, DISCONTENT, AND DISORDER.

While the Woodvilles were supreme, and while Edward was under their influence disheartening the ancient barons of England, and alienating the great noble to whom he owed the proudest crown in Christendom, the imprudent king did not ingratiate himself with the multitude by any display of respect for those rights and liberties to maintain which Warwick had won Northampton and Towton. Indeed, the government was disfigured by acts of undisguised tyranny; and torture, albeit known to be illegal in England, was freely used, as during the Lancastrian rule, to extort evidence. Even the laws of the first Edward and his great minister, Robert de Burnel, were in danger of going as much out of fashion as the chain armor in which Roger Bigod and Humphrey Bohun charged at Lewes and Evesham.

Edward's first victim was William Walker. This man kept a tavern in Cheapside, known as "The Crown," and there a club, composed of young men, had been in the habit of meeting. These fell under the suspicion of being Lancastrians, and were supposed[Pg 204] to be plotting a restoration. No evidence to that effect existed; but, unfortunately, the host, being one day in a jocular mood, while talking to his son, who was a boy, said, "Tom, if thou behavest thyself, I'll make thee heir to the crown." Every body knew that Walker's joke alluded to his sign; yet, when the words were reported, he was arrested, and, as if in mockery of common sense, indicted for imagining and compassing the death of the king. The prisoner pleaded his innocence of any evil intention, but his protestations were of no avail. He was found guilty, in defiance of justice, and hanged, in defiance of mercy.

The next case, that of a poor cobbler, if not so utterly unjust, was equally impolitic and still more cruel. Margaret of Anjou was, at that time, using every effort to regain her influence in England, and many persons, supposed to possess letters from the exiled queen, were tortured and put to death on that suspicion. Of these the cobbler was one, and one of the most severely punished. Having been apprehended on the charge of aiding Margaret to correspond with her partisans in England, he was tortured to death with red-hot pincers.

Even when the sufferers were Lancastrians, the barbarity of such proceedings could not fail to make the flesh creep and the blood curdle; but the case became still more iniquitous when government laid[Pg 205] hands on men attached to the house of York; when the Woodvilles, who had themselves been Lancastrians, singled out as victims stanch partisans of the White Rose.

Sir Thomas Cooke was one of the most reputable citizens of London, and, in the second year of Edward's reign, had fulfilled the highest municipal functions. Unfortunately for him, also, he had the reputation of being so wealthy as to tempt plunder. Earl Rivers and the Duchess of Bedford appear to have thought so; and exerted their influence with the king to have the ex-mayor arrested on a charge of treason, and committed to the Tower.

It appears that, in an evil hour for Cooke, a man named Hawkins had called on him and requested the loan of a thousand marks, on good security; but Sir Thomas said he should, in the first place, like to know for whom the money was, and, in the second, for what purpose it was intended. Hawkins frankly stated it was for the use of Queen Margaret; and Cooke thereupon declined to lend a penny. Hawkins went away, and the matter rested for some time. Sir Thomas was not, however, destined to escape; for Hawkins, having been taken to the Tower and put to the brake, called "the Duke of Exeter's daughter," confessed so much in regard to himself that he was put to death; and at the same time, under the influence of excessive pain,[Pg 206] stated that Cooke had lent the money to Margaret of Anjou.

The Woodvilles, having obtained such evidence against their destined victim, seized upon Cooke's house in London, ejecting his lady and servants, and, at the same time, took possession of Giddy Hall, his seat in Essex, where he had fish-ponds, and a park full of deer, and household furniture of great value. After thus appropriating the estate of the city knight, they determined that, for form's sake, he should have a trial; and accordingly a commission, of which Earl Rivers was a member, was appointed to sit at Guildhall. It would seem that the Woodvilles, meanwhile, had no apprehension of the result being unfavorable to their interests; but, unfortunately for their scheme of appropriation, the commission included two men who loved justice and hated iniquity. These were Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and Sir John Markham, Chief Justice of England.

Markham was of a family of lawyers, whose progenitors, though scarcely wealthier than yeomen, had held their land from time immemorial, and been entitled to carry coat armor. Having been early called to the bar, and successful in his profession, he became a puisne judge of the court of king's bench; and having strongly supported the claims of the house of York, and greatly contributed, by his abilities[Pg 207] and learning, to the triumph of the White Rose, he succeeded Fortescue as chief justice. But, though zealous for the hereditary right of the house of York, Markham was neither a minion nor a tool of its members; and, though he could not but be aware what the court expected, he was incapable of doing any thing to forfeit the public respect which he enjoyed as "The Upright Judge." When, therefore, the evidence against Cooke had been taken, and the whole case heard, the chief justice ruled that the offense was not treason, but, at the most, "Misprision of Treason," and directed the jury so to find it.

The lands of Sir Thomas Cooke were saved, and the Woodvilles, angry as wild beasts deprived of their prey, vowed vengeance on the chief justice. Accordingly Earl Rivers and his duchess pressed Edward to dismiss the unaccommodating functionary; and Edward swore that Markham should never sit on the bench again. Markham, submitting with a dignity becoming his high character, carried his integrity into retirement; and Sir Thomas Cooke was set free after he had paid an enormous fine.

Every man of intelligence must now have seen that the Woodvilles would embroil Edward with the nation. While the king was, under their influence, perpetrating such enormities as caused grave discontent, he was aroused to a sense of insecurity[Pg 208] by formidable commotions in the north. For the origin of these, the master and brethren of the Hospital of St. Leonards appear to have been responsible. The right of levying a thrave of corn from every plow in the country for the relief of the poor had, it seems, been granted to the hospital by one of the Anglo-Saxon kings; but the rural population complained that the revenue was not expended for charitable purposes, but employed by the master and brethren for their private advantage. After long complaining, the people of the country refused to pay, and, in retaliation, their goods were distrained and their persons imprisoned. At length, in 1469, finding they could get no redress, the recusants took up arms, and, under a captain named Robert Hulderne, they put the officers of the hospital to the sword, and, to the number of fifteen thousand, marched, in hostile array, to the gates of York.

The insurgents, however, were not to have it all their own way. Lord Montagu commanded in the district; and he prepared to put down the rising with that vigor and energy which had hitherto characterized his military operations. Accordingly, he hastened to bring them to an engagement. A skirmish took place; the insurgents were scattered; and Hulderne, their leader, having been taken, was sent by Montagu to immediate execution. Nevertheless,[Pg 209] the insurgents continued in arms; and, having been joined by Lord Fitzhugh and Sir Henry Neville, the son of Lord Latimer, one a nephew, the other a cousin of Warwick, they placed Sir John Conyers, a soldier of courage and experience, at their head, advanced toward London, denouncing the Woodvilles as taxers and oppressors, and loudly demanding their dismissal from the council.

Edward now roused himself from voluptuous lethargy, and prepared to defend his crown. Without delay, he gave commissions to William Herbert, whom he had created Earl of Pembroke, and Humphrey Stafford, to whom, on the execution of Hugh, Earl of Devon, at Salisbury, he had given the heritage of the Courtenays, to march against the rebels. At the same time, Edward buckled on his armor, and advanced to Newark. There, however, he thought it prudent to halt; and, finding his army utterly weak and unsteady, he retreated to Nottingham. Hitherto he had thought England none the worse for Warwick's absence; but now he dispatched a message to Calais, beseeching the earl and Clarence to come to his assistance. Having thus bent his pride, Edward waited the result with anxiety.

Meanwhile, Herbert and Stafford were in the field. Hastily assembling seven thousand men, most of whom were Welsh, the two Yorkist earls moved[Pg 210] against the insurgents; but they had hardly done so, when an unfortunate dispute involved them in serious disasters.

It was at Banbury, when the royal army approached the insurgents, that the quarrel took place. It appears that the Yorkist earls had agreed, in the course of their expedition, that when either took possession of a lodging, he should be allowed to keep it undisturbed. On reaching Banbury, on the 25th of July, Stafford took up his quarters at an inn, where there was a damsel for whom he had a partiality. Herbert, who was so proud of the king's letter that he could hardly contain his joy,[9] insisted upon putting Stafford out of the hostelry; and Stafford, whose spirit was high, took offense at being so treated by an inferior. Angry words passed, and the consequence was that Stafford mounted his horse, and rode from the town, with his men-at-arms and archers. Herbert, alarmed at being left alone, hastened to the hill on which his soldiers were encamped, and expressed his intention of abiding such fortune as God should send.

[Pg 211]

When evening advanced, Sir Henry Neville, at the head of his light-horse, commenced skirmishing with the Welsh, and, advancing too far, he was surrounded and slain. The northern men, thereupon, vowed vengeance; and next morning, at Edgecote, attacked the royal army with fury. Herbert, on the occasion, bore himself with a courage which well-nigh justified the king's favor; and his brother, Richard, twice, by main force, hewed his way through the insurgent ranks. Animated by the example of their leaders, the Welshmen were on the point of victory, when an esquire, named John Clapham, attended by five hundred men, and bearing a white bear, the banner of the king-maker, came up the hill, shouting—"A Warwick! A Warwick!" Hearing this war-cry, so terrible, and believing that "The Stout Earl" was upon them, the Welshmen fled in such terror and confusion that the northern men slaughtered five thousand of them. Herbert and his brother Richard, having been taken, were carried to Banbury, and there beheaded, in revenge for the death of Sir Henry Neville. Elate with their victory at Banbury, the insurgents resolved upon giving a lesson to the "queen's kindred;" and, choosing for their captain Robert Hilyard, whom men called "Robin of Redesdale," they marched to the Manor of Grafton, seized on Earl Rivers and John Woodville, who had wedded the old Duchess[Pg 212] of Norfolk, carried these obnoxious individuals to Nottingham, and there beheaded them as taxers and oppressors.

The king, on hearing of the defeat of Herbert and the execution of the Woodvilles, expressed the utmost resentment. Displeased with himself and every body else, he looked around for a victim on whom to wreak his fury; and, considering that of all connected with these misfortunes Stafford was the least blameless, he issued orders that the unfortunate nobleman should be seized, and dealt with as a traitor. The royal commands were obeyed. Stafford was taken at a village in Brentmarsh, carried to Bridgewater, and executed.

The aspect of affairs gradually became more threatening. At length Warwick arrived in England, and repaired to the king, who was encamped at Olney. He found Edward in no enviable plight. His friends were killed or scattered, and his enemies close upon him. The earl was just the man for such a crisis, and he consented to exercise his influence. He went to the insurgents, promised to see their grievances redressed, spoke to them in that popular strain which he alone could use; and, at his bidding, they dispersed and went northward. Edward, however, found that he was hardly more free than when the forces of Robin of Redesdale hemmed him in. The earl, in fact, took the king[Pg 213] into his own hands till he should redeem his promise to the insurgents, and conveyed him, as a kind of prisoner, to the Castle of Middleham.

Edward had no intention of granting the popular demands; and he was not the man to submit patiently to durance. He gained the hearts of his keepers, and obtained liberty to go a-hunting. This privilege he turned to account; and having one day been met by Sir William Stanley, Sir Thomas Brough, and others of his friends, he rode with them to York, pursued his way to Lancaster, and, having there been met by Lord Hastings, reached London in safety.

A peace between Warwick and the king was brought about by their friends; and Edward's eldest daughter was betrothed to Montagu's son. But a few weeks after this reconciliation, the earl took mortal offense. The cause is involved in some mystery. It appears, however, that Edward had two failings in common with many men both small and great—a weakness for wine and a weakness for women. He was much too fond of deep drinking, and by no means free from the indiscretions of those who indulge to excess in the social cup. On some occasion, it would seem, the king was guilty of a flagrant impropriety which touched the honor and roused the resentment of the earl. Even at this day the exact circumstances are unknown; but, in[Pg 214] the fifteenth century, rumor was not silent on the subject. Hall has indicated, in language somewhat too plain for this generation, that the offense was an insult offered by the king, in Warwick's house, to the niece or daughter of the earl; and adds, that "the certainty was not for both their honors openly known." But, however that may have been, the strife between the king and the king-maker now assumed the character of mortal enmity, and led rapidly to those events which rendered the year 1470 memorable in the annals of England.

Edward was not long left in doubt as to the earl's views. At the Moor, in Hertfordshire, which then belonged to the Archbishop of York, which passed fifteen years later to John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and which, in later days, became the seat of Anne Scott, heiress of Buccleuch and widow of the ill-fated Monmouth, George Neville, one day in the month of February, gave a banquet to the king. On the occasion Warwick and Clarence were invited; and all was going on well, and Edward was washing his hands before sitting down to supper, when one of his attendants whispered that armed men were lurking near the house to seize him. The king started, but, recovering himself sufficiently to betray no signs of alarm, he got secretly out of the house, mounted his horse, and, riding all night, reached Windsor Castle in safety.

[Pg 215]

Edward was not quite prepared to punish this attempt on his liberty. He, therefore, listened to the mediation of the Duchess of York; and that lady was laboring to effect another reconciliation, when an insurrection took place among the people of Lincolnshire. These complained bitterly of the oppression of the royal purveyors; and they were headed by Sir Robert Welles, the heir of a family remarkable for fidelity to the house of Lancaster.

Warwick was suspected to be the author of this disturbance. Nevertheless, the king found it necessary to treat the earl and Clarence as if he entertained no suspicion. He even intrusted them with the command of forces destined to suppress the insurgents, while he prepared to march against them with a numerous army.

Meanwhile, the king sent for Lord Welles, father of Sir Robert, and, at the royal summons, that nobleman came to Westminster, in company with Sir Thomas Dymoke, who had married his daughter. Being informed, however, that the king was much incensed, the Lancastrian lord and his son-in-law deemed it prudent to repair to the sanctuary. Edward, however, plighted his word as a prince, that he intended no harm, and they, fully relying on a pledge so sacred, came to his presence. Edward, thereupon, commanded Lord Welles to write to his son to desist from his enterprise; but Sir Robert[Pg 216] continuing firm in spite of the paternal admonition, Edward caused both the old lord and his son-in-law to be executed.

After this faithless proceeding Edward left London. Marching against the insurgents, he came up with them on the 13th of March, at Erpingham, in the county of Rutland. The royal army was so superior in number that Sir Robert had scarcely a chance of victory. Exasperated, however, by the execution of his father, the brave knight, setting prudence at defiance, was eager for an encounter. The armies joined battle, and it soon appeared that Sir Robert had reckoned without his host. The conflict was utterly unequal; and, the insurgents having been worsted, their leader was taken prisoner. No sooner was Welles in the hands of the enemy than the Lincolnshire men whom he had commanded became a mob, and fled from the field, having previously thrown off their coats, that their running might not be impeded. From this circumstance the battle was popularly spoken of as "Losecote Field."

The tables were now turned. The king was in a condition to defy Warwick, while the king-maker had no means of raising such a force as could, with any chance of success, encounter the royal army flushed with victory. The earl, however, made one effort. Being at his Castle of Warwick, and hearing[Pg 217] of Edward's victory at Erpingham, he endeavored to draw Lord Stanley, his brother-in-law, to his side. Stanley, however, was far too prudent a man to rush into danger even for his great kinsman's sake. He answered that "he would never make war against King Edward;" and Warwick and Clarence were compelled to turn toward Dartmouth.


[Pg 218]

CHAPTER XXII.

THE SIEGE OF EXETER.

On the summit of the hill that rises steeply from the left bank of the River Exe, and is crowned with the capital of Devon, some of the burghers of Exeter might have been met with, one spring day in 1470, gossiping about the king and Lord Warwick, and making observations on several hundreds of armed men, who, not without lance, and plume, and pennon, were escorting a youthful dame, of patrician aspect and stately bearing, toward the city gates. The mayor and aldermen were, probably, the reverse of delighted with the appearance of these fighting men. Indeed, the warlike strangers were adherents of Warwick and Clarence, escorting the young duchess who was daughter of one and wife of the other; and at that time, as was well known, both "The Stout Earl" and the fickle duke were at enmity with King Edward. The citizens of Exeter, however, made a virtue of necessity, and cheerfully enough admitted within their walls those whom they had not the power to exclude.

At that time Isabel, Duchess of Clarence, was about to become, under mortifying circumstances,[Pg 219] the mother of a son "born to perpetual calamity;" but, however delicate her situation, Lord Warwick's daughter, reared in the midst of civil strife, was probably less troubled than might be imagined with uneasiness as to the present or apprehension as to the future, as, with all honors due to her rank, she was conducted to the palace of the Bishop of Exeter.

The Duchess of Clarence soon had need of her hereditary courage; for she had scarcely been lodged in the bishop's palace, and the lords who attended her in the houses of the canons, when Sir Hugh Courtenay, sheriff of Devon, took the opportunity of displaying his zeal in the king's service, raised an army in the vicinity, and marched toward Exeter to the assault of the city. Perceiving, however, that its reduction must be the work of time, the sheriff encamped his men around the walls, barricaded the roads, stopped every avenue by which provisions could have reached the garrison, and appeared prepared to proceed deliberately with the siege. Having taken these measures, Courtenay sent a messenger to the mayor, demanding that the gates should be opened forthwith.

The mayor and the other municipal functionaries were by no means willing to incur the wrath of Edward of York. On the contrary, they were much inclined to entitle themselves to his favor by complying[Pg 220] with the sheriff's demand. But Warwick's friends were on their guard. Suspecting that the mayor might prove untrue, and resolved to have their fate in their own hands, the lords and gentlemen insisted on the keys of the city being placed in their possession; and, the mayor yielding on this point, they appointed the watch, manned the walls, repaired the gates, and took the entire management of the defense. Finding themselves in a somewhat delicate predicament, and not free from danger, the mayor and aldermen resolved to speak both parties fair, and do nothing till one side or other proved triumphant.

At first Warwick's red-jackets made so brave a defense that Courtenay could not boast of any progress. Ere long, however, they had to contend with a more formidable foe than the knightly sheriff. After the siege had lasted some days, provisions fell short; famine was apprehended; and the inhabitants became inconveniently impatient. The Warwickers, however, were utterly disinclined to yield. Indeed, with the fate of Lord Welles and Sir Thomas Dymoke before their eyes, they might well hesitate to trust to Edward's tender mercies. They, therefore, determined to endure all privations rather than submit, and declared their intention to hold out till God sent them deliverance. This resolution might have been difficult to maintain; but, after the[Pg 221] siege had lasted for twelve days, they were relieved by the arrival of Warwick and Clarence.

The earl did not arrive at Exeter with laurels on his brow. At Erpingham, Edward had already encountered the insurgents under Sir Robert Welles; and, having made the northern men fly before his lance, he had proclaimed Warwick and Clarence traitors, and offered a reward for their apprehension. Disappointed of Lord Stanley's alliance, and of aid from Sir John Conyers, the earl and the duke joined their friends in haste and alarm. Resistance was simply out of the question, for the king was at the head of an army of forty thousand men; and the king-maker had merely the yeomanry of the county of Warwick. The earl's game was clearly up for the present; and his only chance of safety appeared to lie in a retreat to the Continent. He, therefore, caused ships to be immediately fitted out at Dartmouth; and, going to that port, after a three days' stay in Exeter, he sailed for Calais, of which he still continued captain.

Meanwhile, the king, flushed with his victory over the Lincolnshire men, learned that Warwick had gone toward Exeter. Thither, at the head of his army, marched Edward, accompanied by a band of nobles, among whom were the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earls of Arundel and Rivers, and the Lords Stanley and Hastings. The citizens, uncomfortable,[Pg 222] no doubt, at having harbored the enemies of a prince so potent, resolved upon doing all in their power to entitle themselves to his favor. On hearing of the approach of the royal army, the mayor issued orders that every inhabitant having the means should provide himself with a gown of the city's livery, and hold himself in readiness to give the king a loyal reception.

At length, on the 14th of April, Edward's banners appeared in sight; and the mayor, attended by the recorder and four hundred of the citizens, clad in scarlet, issued forth from the gates to bid the king welcome. The scene was such as had generally been witnessed on such occasions. The mayor made a humble obeisance; the recorder delivered an oration, congratulating Edward on coming to Exeter. This ceremony over, the mayor presented the king with the keys of the city and a purse containing a hundred nobles in gold. Edward returned the keys; but "the gold," says the historian, "he took very thankfully."

Having thus propitiated the conqueror, the mayor of Exeter, his head uncovered, and bearing the mace of the city in his hands, conducted the king through the gate and toward the house which he was to occupy. After remaining a few days in Exeter, Edward returned to London, congratulating himself on having put under his feet so many of his enemies,[Pg 223] and out of the kingdom the great noble to whom he owed his crown. He seemed to think the whole quarrel between the people of England and the family of Woodville decided in favor of his wife's kindred by the flight of the Lancastrians from Erpingham and the earl's retreat from Exeter.


[Pg 224]

CHAPTER XXIII.

LOUIS THE CRAFTY.

When Warwick sailed from Dartmouth as a mortal foe of the man whom, ten years earlier, he had seated on the throne of the Plantagenets, the excitement created by the event was not confined to England. So grand was the earl's fame, so high his character, so ardent his patriotism, and so great the influence he had exercised over that nation of which he was the pride, that Continental princes listened to the news of his breaking with Edward as they would have done to that of an empire in convulsions. The circumstances of the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy especially were such that they could not have remained indifferent to what was passing; and lively, indeed, was the interest which Charles the Rash and Louis the Crafty exhibited on the occasion.

Sir Walter Scott has rendered Louis, with his peculiarities of mind, manner, and dress, familiar to the readers of "Quentin Durward." At the mention of his name there rises before the mind's eye a man of mean figure, with pinched features, a threadbare jerkin, and low fur cap, ornamented with paltry[Pg 225] leaden images—now indulging in ribald talk, now practicing the lowest hypocrisy, and now taking refuge in the grossest superstition. Our concern with him at present, however, is only so far as his career is associated with the Wars of the Roses.

Louis was the son of the seventh Charles of France, and of his queen, Mary of Anjou, a princess of worth and virtue, but not tenderly beloved by her husband, whose heart was devoted to his mistress, Agnes Sorrel, the handsomest woman of that age. Born at the commencement of those operations which resulted in the expulsion of the English from France, Louis had just reached the age of sixteen in 1440, when, to get rid of his tutor, the Count de Perdriac, he stole from the Castle of Loches, and conspired against his father's government. The conspiracy came to naught, and Louis was pardoned; but, a few years later, he incurred the suspicion of having poisoned Agnes Sorrel, and, flying from his father's court, sought refuge in Dauphiny.

Enraged at the death of his mistress and the conduct of his son, the king, in 1446, sent a band of armed men to arrest the heir of France; and placed at their head the Count of Dammartin. Louis, however, received timely warning, and projected an escape. With this view, he appointed a grand hunting-match, ordered his dinner to be prepared at the particular rendezvous, and took care that the count[Pg 226] was informed of the circumstance. Completely deceived, Dammartin placed troops in ambush, and made certain of a capture; but Louis valued life and liberty too much to allow himself to be caught. Instead of going to the hunt, he mounted a fleet steed, and, riding to the territories of the Duke of Burgundy, was courteously received and entertained by that magnate.

On hearing that Burgundy had treated the dauphin so handsomely, King Charles protested, and warned the duke against heaping benefits on a man of so depraved a disposition. "You know not, Duke Philip," said the king, "the nature of this savage animal. You cherish a wolf, who will one day tear your sheep to pieces. Remember the fable of the countryman, who, in compassion to a viper which he found half frozen in the field, brought it to his house, and warmed it by the fireside, till it turned round and hissed at its preserver." The good duke, however, continued to protect Louis, granted him a pension to maintain his state, and gave him the choice of a residence. Louis selected the Castle of Gennape, in Brabant; and, during his residence there, formed a close intimacy with the duke's son, the Count of Charolois, afterward celebrated as Charles the Rash.

The heir of Burgundy was some years younger than the dauphin, and in character presented a remarkable[Pg 227] contrast with the exiled prince, being violent, ungovernable, and, in all cases, ruled by his anger and pride. Round this incarnation of feudalism Louis had the art to wind himself, as the ivy does around the oak it is destined to destroy. They feasted together, hawked together, hunted together, and, in fact, were bosom friends; and when, in 1456, Isabel de Bourbon, the first wife of Charles, gave birth to a daughter, at Brussels, it was Louis who figured as sponsor at the baptism of the infant princess; and it was Louis who gave Mary of Burgundy her Christian name, in honor of his mother, Mary of Anjou.

When the dauphin had for years enjoyed the Duke of Burgundy's hospitality, Charles the Seventh died; and, shortly after the battle of Towton, the exiled prince, at the age of thirty-eight, succeeded to the crown of St. Louis. Hardly, however, had the dauphin become king, when he forgot all his obligations to the house which had sheltered him in adversity. Eager to weaken the influence of the two great feudatories of France, he sought to create hostility between the Duke of Brittany and the Count of Charolois. With this object he granted each of them the government of Normandy, in hopes of their contesting it, and destroying each other. Discovering the deception, however, they united against the deceiver, rallied around them the malcontents[Pg 228] of France, and placed at their head the king's brother, Charles de Valois, who claimed Normandy as his appanage.

A formidable alliance, called "The League for the Public Good," having been formed, Charolois, attended by the Count of St. Pol, and the Bastard of Burgundy, who afterward tilted at Smithfield with Anthony Woodville, led his forces into France in hostile array. Louis, though taken by surprise, girded himself up for a conflict, and, on the 16th of July, 1465, met his foes at Montlhéry. A fierce battle followed; and the king fought with courage. The day, however, went against France; and Louis was forced to leave the field, with the loss of some hundreds of his men and several of his captains, among whom was one who, in the Wars of the Roses, had spent a fortune, and enacted a strange and romantic part. For among the slain at Montlhéry, was Sir Peter de Brezé, celebrated for his chivalrous admiration of Margaret of Anjou, who, at the tournament given in France in honor of her nuptials, had distinguished himself by feats of arms, and who, when years of sorrow had passed over her head, came to England to prove his devotion by fighting for her husband's crown.

When Louis was under the necessity of abandoning the field at Montlhéry to the heir of Burgundy, Normandy revolted to the insurgent princes; and[Pg 229] the king, finding himself the weaker party, had recourse to dissimulation. He expressed his readiness to negotiate, pretended to forget his resentment, surrendered Normandy to his brother, satisfied the demands of the Count of Charolois, and named the Count of St. Pol Constable of France. But this treaty negotiated at Conflans having, at the king's desire, been annulled by the States-General, Louis avenged himself by depriving Charles de Valois of Normandy, and stirring up the rich cities of Flanders to revolt against Charolois, now, by his father's death, Duke of Burgundy, and, by his second marriage, brother-in-law to Edward of York.

At the time when Louis was inciting the Flemings to revolt against their sovereign, and when he had an emissary in Liége for that purpose, he endeavored to avert suspicion from himself by paying a visit to Charles the Rash, at Peronne. This piece of diplomacy well-nigh cost his life. Scarcely had the king arrived at Peronne ere intelligence followed of the revolt at Liége; and Burgundy was exasperated in the highest degree to learn that the populace had proceeded to horrible excesses, massacred the canons, and murdered the bishop, Louis de Bourbon, his own relative. But when, in addition to all this, Burgundy heard that the king was the author of the sedition, his rage knew no bounds. He immediately committed Louis to prison, menaced[Pg 230] the captive with death, and appeared determined to execute his threat. Louis, however, became aware of his peril, and submitted to all that was demanded. To extricate himself from danger he signed the treaty of Peronne, divesting himself of all sovereignty over Burgundy, giving his brother Champagne and Brie, and finally engaging to march in person against the insurgents of Liége.

The treaty of Peronne restored Louis to liberty, but not till he had played a part that must have tried even his seared conscience. He was under the necessity of accompanying Burgundy to Liége, witnessing the destruction of the unfortunate city, beholding a general massacre of the men whom he had incited to revolt, and even congratulating Charles the Rash on having executed vengeance. All this time, however, Louis had no intention of maintaining the treaty of Peronne. Indeed, he only awaited a favorable opportunity of breaking faith; but he deemed it policy to proceed cautiously, for the alliance of Burgundy with Edward of York rendered the duke formidable in his eyes.

At the opening of his reign Louis, notwithstanding his relationship to Margaret of Anjou, had shown a disinclination to make sacrifices for the house of Lancaster; while Charles the Rash, as a descendant of John of Gaunt, had expressed much sympathy with the party whose badge was the Red Rose.[Pg 231] Even kings, however, are the creatures of circumstances; and the disposal which Edward, in his wisdom, made of the hand of Margaret of York rendered Burgundy favorable to the White Rose, while it induced Louis, from selfish motives, to exhibit more friendship for the adherents of Lancaster.

Louis had not a particle of chivalry in his composition, and would have ridiculed the notion of undertaking any thing for the advantage of others. He was keenly alive to his own interest, however, and deemed it politic to give the enemies of Edward some degree of encouragement. To make them formidable enough to keep the Yorkist king at home was the object of his policy, for of all calamities Louis most dreaded an English invasion. When Warwick broke with Edward, he was not only freed from fear, but animated by hope; for in the earl's destiny he had perfect faith; and the earl was known to entertain an antipathy to Burgundy, and a strong opinion that peace with France was essential to England's welfare.


[Pg 232]

CHAPTER XXIV.

"THE STOUT EARL" AND "THE FOREIGN WOMAN."

It was the spring of 1470 when Warwick left the shores of England, accompanied by the Duke of Clarence, by the Countess of Warwick, and by her two daughters. The king-maker sailed toward Calais, of which, since 1455, he had been captain-general. At Calais Warwick expected welcome and safety. Such, indeed, had been his influence in the city in former days that his dismissal by the Lancastrian king had proved an idle ceremony; and, moreover, he relied with confidence on the fidelity of Lord Vauclerc, a Gascon, whom, years before, he had left as his deputy in the government.

Warwick was doomed to disappointment. News of the earl's rupture with the king had preceded him to Calais; and, as his ships approached the city of refuge, Vauclerc, far from according to his patron the anticipated welcome, ordered the artillery of the fort to be pointed against the fleet. This was not the worst. While the exiles, somewhat perplexed, lay before Calais, the Duchess of Clarence became a mother; and the earl appealed to the governor's humanity to admit her into the city. But Vauclerc[Pg 233] resolutely refused to countenance Edward's enemies, and the Gascon was with no slight difficulty persuaded to send on board two flagons of wine. Even the privilege of baptism in the city, which stood as a monument of the Continental triumphs of the Plantagenets, was refused to the infant destined to be the last male heir of that illustrious race.

Vauclerc, however, gave the earl information by no means valueless, in the shape of a warning that on putting to sea he must beware where he landed, as the myrmidons of Burgundy were on the watch to seize him. At the same time, he took occasion secretly to send an apology to Warwick, and to represent his conduct as being entirely guided by zeal for the earl's safety. "Calais," said he, "is ill-supplied with provisions; the garrison can not be depended on; the inhabitants, who live by the English commerce, will certainly take part with the established government; and the city is in no condition to resist England on one side and Burgundy on the other. It is better, therefore, that I should seem to declare for Edward, and keep the fortress in my power till it is safe to deliver it to you." Warwick was not, probably, in a very credulous mood; but he took Vauclerc's explanation for what it was worth, ordered the anchors to be hauled up, and, having defied Burgundy's enmity by seizing[Pg 234] some Flemish ships that lay off Calais, sailed toward the coast of Normandy.

King Edward, on hearing of Vauclerc's refusal to admit Warwick, expressed himself highly pleased with the deputy-governor, and manifested his approval by sending the Gascon a patent as Captain-general of Calais. Burgundy, not to be behind his brother-in-law, dispatched Philip de Comines to announce to Vauclerc that he should have a pension of a thousand crowns for life, and to keep him true to his principles. Vauclerc must have laughed in his sleeve at all this. "Never man," says Sir Richard Baker, "was better paid for one act of dissembling."

Meanwhile, Warwick landed at Harfleur, where his reception was all that could have been wished. The governor welcomed the exiles with every token of respect, escorted the ladies to Valognes, and hastened to communicate Warwick's arrival to the king. Louis exhibited the most unbounded confidence in the earl's fortunes. Indeed, so confident in the king-maker's alliance was the crafty monarch, that he prepared to brave the united enmity of Edward of England and Charles of Burgundy. Without delay he invited the great exile to court; and, as Warwick and Clarence—whom Warwick then intended to place on the English throne—rode toward Amboise, their journey excited the utmost curiosity.[Pg 235] Every where the inhabitants were eager to see "The Stout Earl;" and Jacques Bonnehomme came from his cabin to gaze on the man who made and unmade kings, and who, unlike the nobles of France, took pride in befriending the people in peace and sparing them in war.

At Amboise Warwick met with a reception which must have been gratifying to his pride. Louis was profuse of compliments and lavish of promises. The French king, however, took occasion to suggest to Warwick the expediency of finding some more adequate instrument than Clarence wherewith to work out his projects; and the English earl, bent on avenging England's injuries and his own, listened with patience, even when Louis proposed an alliance with Lancaster.

Ere this Margaret was on the alert. When, in the autumn of 1469, the exiled queen learned that the house of York was divided against itself, and that the king and the king-maker were mortal foes, she left her retreat at Verdun, and, with her son, repaired to the French king at Tours. Thither, to renew their adhesion to the Red Rose, came, among other Lancastrians, Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, who had been wandering over Europe like a vagabond, and Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, and Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, with his brother John, who, since the rout of Hexham, had been lurking[Pg 236] in Flanders, concealing their names and quality, and suffering all those inconveniences that arise from the ill-assorted union of pride and poverty. A man bearing a nobler name, and gifted with a higher intellect than Tudors, Hollands, or Beauforts, now joined the Lancastrian exiles. It was John De Vere, Earl of Oxford.

At the beginning of the contentions of York and Lancaster, the De Veres naturally took part against the misleaders of the monk-monarch, and as late, at least, as 1455, John, twelfth Earl of Oxford, was a friend of the duke. Oxford, however, was not prepared for a transfer of the crown; and when the dispute assumed the form of a dynastic war, he took the losing side, and in 1461 was beheaded on Tower Hill, with his eldest son, Aubrey. At the time of the old earl's execution, his second son, John, was twenty-three; and, being husband of Margaret Neville, the sister of Warwick, he was allowed to remain undisturbed in England, to bear the title of Oxford, and, without taking any part in politics, to maintain feudal state at Wyvenhoe and Castle Hedlingham. Oxford, however, was "linked in the closest friendship with Warwick;" and when the Yorkist king shook off the influence of "The Stout Earl," England was no longer a place of safety for the chief of the De Veres. In 1470 Oxford followed his great brother-in-law to France, hoping,[Pg 237] perhaps, to mediate between Warwick and the Lancastrian queen who had ever hated the earl as her mightiest foe.

At this period Margaret of Anjou had seen forty summers, and, doubtless, felt somewhat less strongly than in earlier days the ambition which had animated her before Wakefield and Hexham. But the Prince of Wales was now in his eighteenth year, and, inspired by maternal love, she was ready, in order to regain the crown for him, to brave new dangers and endure fresh hardships.

Young Edward was, indeed, a prince on whom a mother might well look with pride. Every thing had been done to make him worthy of the throne he had been born to inherit. Fortescue had instructed the royal boy in the duties necessary for his enacting the part of "a patriot king;" and, while engaged in studies so grave, the prince had not neglected those accomplishments essential to his rank. Ere leaving Verdun he had become a handsome and interesting youth. His bearing was chivalrous; his manner graceful; his countenance of almost feminine beauty, shaded with fair hair, and lighted up with a blue eye that sparkled with valor and intelligence. Such, arrayed in the short purple jacket trimmed with ermine, the badge of St. George on his breast, and a single ostrich feather—his cognizance as Prince of Wales—in his high cap, was[Pg 238] the heir of Lancaster, whom Margaret of Anjou presented to the devoted adherents of the Red Rose, who, having lost every thing else, came to the French court to place their swords at his disposal.

Louis was now in his element; and to reconcile the Yorkist earl and the Lancastrian queen, he exerted all his powers of political intrigue. His task, indeed, was not easy. Warwick had accused Margaret of plotting against his life, and murdering his father. Margaret had charged Warwick—whom she hated more bitterly even than she had hated the Duke of York—with depriving her of a crown, and destroying her reputation. The earl's wish, in the event of deposing Edward, still was to place Clarence on the throne; and, even since quarreling with the Yorkist king, he had taken part against the Lancastrians. The queen was, on her part, utterly averse to friendship with her ancient adversary. "My wounds," she exclaimed, "must bleed till doomsday, when to God's justice I will appeal for vengeance!"

Most men would have regarded the case as desperate. But Louis viewed it in another light. Between the queen and the earl, indeed, there was a wide gulph, in which ran the blood of slaughtered friends and kinsmen; but one sentiment the queen without a crown and the earl without an earldom had in common—an intense antipathy to Edward[Pg 239] of York. Moreover, the Prince of Wales had, on some festive occasion, seen Anne Neville, the earl's daughter, and the sight had inspired him with one of those romantic attachments which call into action the tenderest sympathies and the noblest aspirations. A fear that Margaret and Warwick would never consent to a union might have daunted young Edward, but Louis had seen more of the world. He knew that Warwick could hardly see the prince without being covetous to have him as a son-in-law; and he knew that Margaret would be prompted by the ambition of a queen, and the tenderness of a mother, to recover by compromise the crown which she had been unable to gain by force. In one important respect the mind of Louis was made up—that, on all points, he would intrigue and negotiate with an eye to his own profit.

Louis had correctly calculated the effect of circumstances on those with whom he had to deal. The earl, being flesh and blood, could not resist the prospect of a throne for his daughter, and indicated his readiness to make peace. Margaret was not quite so reasonable; but, at length, she yielded so far as to agree to a meeting with the man whom she had accused of piercing her heart with wounds that could never be healed.

Accordingly, a conference was appointed; and in June, 1470, Warwick, in the Castle of Amboise, met[Pg 240] the queen, from the brow of whose husband he had torn the English crown, and the prince, the illegitimacy of whose birth he had proclaimed at Paul's Cross. Now, however, the earl was prepared to give his hand in friendship to one, and his daughter as wife to the other. He offered to restore Henry of Windsor, if Margaret would consent to unite the Prince of Wales to Anne Neville. Margaret, however, felt the sharpness of the sacrifice, and, after some hesitation, asked for time to consider the proposal.

Ere the time expired, the queen's aversion to the match was strengthened. She showed Louis a letter from England, in which the hand of Edward's daughter, Elizabeth, then recognized as heiress to the crown, was offered to her son. "Is not that," she asked, "a more profitable party? And if it be necessary to forgive, is it not more queenly to treat with Edward than with a twofold rebel?" Louis, who was bent on business, did not relish such talk as this. To Margaret he became so cool, that she could hardly help seeing he would have thought little of throwing her interests overboard. To Warwick he was all kindness, declaring that he cared far more for the earl than he did either for Margaret or her son, and even giving an assurance that he would aid Warwick to conquer England for any one he chose.

[Pg 241]

Margaret perceived that it was no time for exhibitions of vindictive feeling; and, with undisguised reluctance, she consented to the match. After thus sacrificing her long-cherished prejudices, the exiled queen proceeded to Angers, on a visit to the Countess of Warwick and to Anne Neville, at that time in her sixteenth year. Preparations were then made for the marriage which was to cement the new alliance, and, in July, the daughter of "The Stout Earl" was solemnly espoused to the son of "The Foreign Woman."

About this time there arrived at Calais an English lady of quality, who stated that she was on her way to join the Duchess of Clarence. Vauclerc, believing that she brought overtures of peace from Edward to Warwick, and feeling a strong interest in the reconciliation of the king and the earl, allowed her to pass, and she found her way to Angers, where the marriage was then being celebrated. The errand of this lady was not quite so amiable as Vauclerc had supposed. On arriving at Angers, she revealed herself to Clarence as having been sent by his brothers to tempt him to betray Warwick—to implore him, at all events, not to aid in the subversion of their father's house.

Clarence was just in the state of mind to be worked upon by a skillful diplomatist; and the female embassador executed her mission with a craft that[Pg 242] Louis might have envied. The duke, so long as he had simply been taking part in a feud between Warwick and the Woodvilles, was all zeal for the earl, and not without hope that he himself might profit by the strife; but no sooner did the weak prince find himself engaged with the adherents of the Red Rose in a contest to substitute the heir of the house of Lancaster for the chief of the house of York, than he began to pause and ponder. At this stage the lady of quality appeared at Angers, and managed her part of the business with the requisite dexterity; in fact, Clarence declared that he was not so great an enemy to his brother as was supposed, and he promised, significantly, to prove that such was the case when he reached England. The lady departed from Angers, and returned to Edward's court with a full assurance that her mission would produce important results.

The bridal of the prince and Anne Neville having been celebrated, Warwick and Oxford prepared to return to England. Fortune, with fickle smile, cheered the king-maker's enterprise. Every thing was promising; for the English people, since Warwick had been exiled to a foreign strand, complained that England without "The Stout Earl" was like a world without a sun; and day after day came messengers to tell that thousands of men were ready to take up arms in his cause whenever he set foot on his native soil.

[Pg 243]

Delay was not to be thought of under such circumstances. The earl did not lose any time. With Pembroke and Clarence, and Oxford and George De Vere, Oxford's brother, he went on board the fleet that lay at Harfleur. The French coast was not, indeed, clear; for Burgundy had fitted out a fleet, which blockaded Harfleur and the mouth of the Seine. But even the elements favored Warwick at this crisis of his career. A storm arising dispersed the duke's fleet; and, next morning, the weather being fine, the earl and the Lancastrians gave their sails to the wind, and, confident of bringing their enterprise to a successful issue, left behind them the coast of Normandy.


[Pg 244]

CHAPTER XXV.

THE EARL'S RETURN AND EDWARD'S FLIGHT.

When Warwick, in France, was forming an alliance with Margaret of Anjou, the people of England were manifesting their anxiety for "The Stout Earl's" return.[10] Edward of York, meanwhile, appeared to consider the kingdom nothing the worse for the king-maker's absence. He even ridiculed the idea of taking any precautions to guard against the invasion which was threatened. Instead of making preparations for defense, the king, after the earl's departure from England, occupied himself wholly[Pg 245] with the ladies of his court; going in their company on hunting excursions, and diverting himself with every kind of pleasant pastime.

The Duke of Burgundy was by no means so cool as the King of England. In fact, Charles the Rash was quite aware of the degree of danger to which his brother-in-law was exposed, and gave him timely warning not only that an invasion was projected, but of the very port at which Warwick intended to land. "By God's blessed lady," exclaimed Edward, "I wish the earl would land, and when we have beaten him in England, I only ask our brother of Burgundy to keep such a good look-out at sea as to prevent his return to France."

The wish which the king, with too much confidence in his resources, thus expressed, was speedily to be gratified. About the middle of September, 1470, while he was in the north, suppressing an insurrection headed by Lord Fitzhugh, Warwick suddenly landed on the coast of Devon, and proclaimed that he came to put down falsehood and oppression, and to have law and justice fairly administered. It soon appeared that the popularity of the earl gave him a power that was irresistible. A few months earlier, when he was escaping to France, a magnificent reward had been offered by the king to any man who should seize the rebellious baron; but now that the earl was once more in England, with[Pg 246] Oxford by his side, all the heroes of the Round Table, if they had been in the flesh, would have shrunk from the hazard of such an exploit. Long ere he landed, the Nevilles and De Veres were mustering their merry-men; a few days later warriors of all ranks were flocking to his standard; and, at the head of a numerous army, he marched toward London. Being informed, however, that the capital was favorable to his project, and that the king had retraced his steps to Nottingham, Warwick turned toward the Trent, summoning men to his standard as he went, and intending to give Edward battle.

Meanwhile, the king's situation was gradually becoming desperate. His soldiers, giving way to discontent, began to desert; and, while he was in Lincoln, near the River Welland, circumstances occurred to prove the prudence of Burgundy's warnings, and to remove Edward's illusions.

At the time when Warwick was flying from England, Edward, in defiance of prudential considerations, took one of those steps which sometimes cost a crown. After his victory at Hexham, Lord Montagu had been gifted with the earldom of Northumberland. At that time the young chief of the Percies was a Lancastrian captive in the Tower or an exile in Scotland; but the mediation of friends prevailed, and the heir of Hotspur was reconciled to the heir of the Mortimers. Edward deemed the[Pg 247] opportunity favorable for weakening the Nevilles, and encouraged the Northumbrians to petition for the restoration of the house of Percy. The Northumbrians did petition; Montagu resigned the earldom; and the king, to console him for his loss, elevated the victor of Hexham to the rank of marquis. Montagu took the marquisate, but he indulged in a bitter jest and bided his time.

It happened that, when Warwick landed, Montagu had mustered ten thousand men in the king's name. Hearing of the earl's return, these soldiers caught the popular contagion, and evinced so strong an inclination to desert their standard, that Montagu saw that the hour for retaliation was come; and, after remarking that "Edward had taken Northumberland from him, and given him a marquisate, but only a pie's nest to maintain it withal," he frankly added, "I shall decidedly take the part of the earl."

The king was that night asleep in the royal tent when aroused by the chief of his minstrels, and informed that Montagu and some other lords had mounted their horses and ordered their soldiers to raise the shout of "God bless King Henry!" Edward, completely taken by surprise, rose and buckled on his armor; but, resistance being out of the question, he determined to fly. Having exhorted his followers to go and join Warwick, pretending great[Pg 248] friendship, but secretly retaining their allegiance, the king rode toward Lynn, accompanied by about a hundred knights and gentlemen, among whom were his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester; his brother-in-law, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers; his Chamberlain, William, Lord Hastings; and William Fiennes, Lord Say, son of that nobleman who had been put to death during Jack Cade's insurrection. At Lynn the king found an English ship and two Dutch vessels ready to put to sea. On board of these Edward and his friends hastily embarked; and, leaving Warwick and Oxford masters of England, set sail for the territories of Burgundy.

Within St. Paul's Church-yard, to the north of the Cathedral, Cardinal Kempe had erected a cross to remind passers-by to pray for the souls of those buried beneath their feet. To preach at Paul's Cross was an object of clerical ambition; and, when service was there performed, the multitude gathered round the pulpit, while the wealthy citizens and municipal functionaries occupied galleries so constructed as to shelter them when the weather happened to be inclement. On the Sunday after Michaelmas, 1470, Dr. Goddard was the divine who officiated; and the doctor, being one of Warwick's chaplains, preached a political sermon, advocating the claims of the royal captive in the Tower, and setting forth the earl's patriotic intentions in such a[Pg 249] light that the audience could not help wishing well to the enterprise.

The metropolis, thus excited, conceived a strong desire for Warwick's success; and, when it became known that King Edward had fled from the Welland, and that the earl was marching upon London, the partisans of the house of York, seeing that resistance would be vain, hastened to take refuge in the religious houses that had the privilege of affording sanctuary.

Hard by the Palace of Westminster, in the fifteenth century, stood a massive edifice, with a church built over it in the form of a cross. This structure, which was a little town in itself, and strongly enough fortified to stand a siege, had been erected by Edward the Confessor as a place of refuge to the distressed, and, according to tradition and the belief of the superstitious, it had been "by St. Peter in his own person, accompanied with great numbers of angels, by night specially hallowed and dedicated to God."

Within the walls of this sanctuary, at the time when Edward of York was flying to the territories of the Duke of Burgundy, and Warwick was advancing upon London, Elizabeth Woodville, leaving the Tower, and escaping down the Thames in a barge, took refuge with her three daughters, her mother, the Duchess of Bedford, and her friend, the[Pg 250] Lady Scroope. There, forsaken by her court, and exposed to penury, the unhappy woman gave birth to her son Edward. This boy, "the child of misery," was "baptized in tears." "Like a poor man's child was he christened," says the chronicler, "his godfather being the Abbot and Prior of Westminster."

Meanwhile, on the 6th of October, Warwick entered London in triumph; and, going directly to the Tower, the great earl released Henry of Windsor, proclaimed him king, and escorted him from a prison to a palace. After this the king-maker called a Parliament, which branded Edward as a usurper, attainted his adherents as traitors, restored to the Lancastrians their titles and estates, and passed an act entailing the crown on Edward of Lancaster, and, failing that hopeful prince, on George, Duke of Clarence.

So great was the earl's power and popularity that he accomplished the restoration of Lancaster almost without drawing his sword; and no man suffered death upon the scaffold, with the exception of John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, whose cruelties, exercised in spite of learning and a love of letters that have made his name famous, had exasperated the people to phrensy, and won him the name of "the Butcher." Warwick was not a man, save when on fields of fight, to delight in the shedding of blood; and, even[Pg 251] had it been otherwise, his high pride would have made him scorn in the hour of triumph the idea of striking helpless foes.

At Calais the news of the earl's triumph created no less excitement than in England. The intelligence might, under some circumstances, have caused Governor Vauclerc considerable dismay and no slight apprehension that his conduct while the earl was in adversity would place him in a perilous predicament. Vauclerc, however, had his consolation, and must have chuckled as he reflected on the prudence he had exercised. The crafty Gascon, doubtless, congratulated himself heartily on his foresight, and felt assured that in spite of Edward's patent and Burgundy's pension, the devotion he had expressed and the intelligence he had given to Warwick would, now that the political wind had changed, secure him a continuance of place and power.

But, whatever on the occasion might have been Governor Vauclerc's sentiments, Warwick's triumph produced a sudden change in the politics of Calais. The city, so often the refuge of Yorkists in distress, manifested unequivocal symptoms of joy at a revolution which restored the house of Lancaster; and the Calesians, forgetting that, from selfish motives, they had, six months earlier, refused Warwick admittance within their walls, painted the white cross of Neville over their doors, and endeavored, in various[Pg 252] ways, to testify excessive respect for the great noble who could make and unmake kings. As for the garrison, which, a few months earlier, could not be trusted, every man was now ready to drink the earl's health; every tongue sounded the praises of the king-maker; every cap was conspicuously ornamented with the Ragged Staff, known, far and wide, as the badge of the Countess of Warwick.

Fortune, which seldom does things by halves, seemed to have conducted the earl to a triumph too complete to be reversed; and if any one, with the gift of political prophecy, had ventured to predict that, within six months, King Edward would ride into London amid the applause of the populace, he would have been regarded as a madman. Every circumstance rendered such an event improbable in the extreme. The fickle goddess appeared to have forever deserted the White Rose, and to have destined the sun of York never more to shine in merry England.


[Pg 253]

CHAPTER XXVI.

THE EARL OF WORCESTER.

While Edward is in exile; and Elizabeth Woodville in the sanctuary; and Warwick holding the reins of power; and Margaret of Anjou and her son on the Continent; we may refer with brevity to the melancholy fate of John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, celebrated on the same page of history as "the Butcher" and as "the paragon of learning and the patron of Caxton"—the most accomplished among the nobility of his age, and, at the same time, the only man "who, during the Yorkist domination, had committed such excesses as to merit the punishment of death at the Lancastrian restoration."

Though not of high patrician rank like the Nevilles or the De Veres, Worcester had claims to considerable respect in an ancestral point of view. One of the family of Tiptoft, after fighting in the Barons' Wars against Simon de Montfort, accompanied the victor of Evesham when that great prince fared forth to the Holy Land to signalize his prowess against the enemies of his religion; and the descendants of the crusader made their name known to fame in those wars which our Plantagenet kings[Pg 254] carried on in Scotland and in France. Early in the fifteenth century, Lord Tiptoft, the chief of the race, espoused the sister and co-heir of Edward Charlton, Lord Powis; and, about the year 1427, their son, John Tiptoft, first saw the light at Everton, in the shire of Cambridge.

The heir of the Tiptofts was educated at Baliol College, Oxford; and at that ancient seat of learning pursued his studies with such energy and enthusiasm as raised the admiration of his contemporaries, and laid the foundation of the fame which he has enjoyed with posterity. When in his teens, he became, by his father's death, one of the barons of England, and, some time later, in 1449, he found himself elevated, by Henry of Windsor, to the earldom of Worcester. He had enjoyed this new dignity for six years, and reached the age of twenty-eight, when blood was first shed at St. Albans in the Wars of the Roses.

Worcester was a man of action as well as a scholar. When, therefore, war commenced, he was, doubtless, looked upon by both parties as a desirable partisan. The accomplished earl, however, appears to have been in no haste to risk his head and his baronies in the quarrel either of York or Lancaster. At first, he hesitated, wavered, and refrained from committing himself as to the merits of the controversy, and, finally, instead of plucking either "the[Pg 255] pale or the purple rose," avoided the hazard of making a choice by leaving the country and repairing to the Holy Land.

After indulging his zeal as a Christian and his curiosity as a man, during his visit to Jerusalem, Worcester turned toward Italy; and having beheld the wonders of Venice—then in all the pride of wealth and commercial prosperity—and resided for a time at Padua—then famous as the chief seat of European learning—he proceeded to Rome to gladden his eyes with a sight of the Vatican Library. While in Rome Worcester had an interview with Pius the Second, and an interesting scene rendered the occasion memorable. On being presented to the Pope, better known in England as Ćneas Sylvius, the young English nobleman addressed to him a Latin oration, to which the learned pontiff listened with tears of admiration.

As soon as the news spread over Europe that the Lancastrians had been utterly routed on Towton Field, and that Edward of York was firmly seated on the English throne, Worcester returned home. During his residence in Italy he had purchased many volumes of manuscripts; and of these he contributed a liberal share to the library at Oxford, whose shelves had formerly profited by the donations of "The Good Duke Humphrey." When abroad, Worcester had evinced such an eagerness[Pg 256] to possess himself of books, that it was said he plundered the libraries of Italy to enrich those of England.

The king received Worcester with favor, and treated him with high consideration. Soon after his return the learned earl presided at the trial of John, Earl of Oxford, and his son, Aubrey De Vere; and, no longer inclined to waver, he buckled on the mail of a warrior, and accompanied Edward to the north of England on his expedition against the Lancastrians. Meanwhile, he had been intrusted with high offices; and appears to have at the same time exercised the functions of Treasurer of the King's Exchequer and Constable of the Tower of London, Chancellor of Ireland, and Justice of North Wales.

For seven years after his return from Italy, Worcester conducted himself with credit and distinction. Evil communications, however, corrupt good manners. At a critical period the intellectual baron appears to have fallen under the influence of Elizabeth Woodville; and to have been used by that unscrupulous woman to perpetrate acts of tyranny that ultimately cost him his life.

Of the great Norman barons whose swords had won them dominion over the Celts of Ireland the Fitzgeralds were among the proudest and most powerful. One branch of the family held the earldom of Desmond; another that of Kildare; and both exercised[Pg 257] much influence in the provinces subject to their sway. In the contest between the rival Plantagenets, the Fitzgeralds adopted the White Rose as their badge; and Thomas, eighth Earl of Desmond, fought by Edward's side in those battles which won the crown for the house of York.

When the question of Edward's marriage with Elizabeth Woodville was agitated, Desmond was naturally consulted; and the Norman earl took a different course from such pickthanks as Sir John Howard. Being frank and honest, he unhesitatingly pointed out the king's imprudence, and perhaps became, in consequence, one of those people for whom the widow of Sir John Grey did not entertain any particular affection. But, however that may have been, Edward appointed his old comrade-in-arms deputy to the Duke of Clarence, who was then Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and when Desmond was preparing to depart from London, the king asked if there was any thing in his policy that could be amended. The earl, with more zeal for his sovereign's service than respect for his sovereign's marriage vow, advised Edward to divorce Elizabeth Woodville, and to marry some woman worthy of sharing the English throne.

Edward was not the most faithful of husbands; and Elizabeth Woodville may not, at first, have been the most patient of wives, though she afterward[Pg 258] learned to submit with a good grace. At all events, they had sundry domestic quarrels; and Edward, during some altercation with the queen, said, "Had I hearkened to Desmond's advice, your insolent spirit would have been humbled."

The queen's curiosity was excited in the highest degree; and, unluckily for Desmond, she determined to find out what advice he had given. On eliciting the truth, Elizabeth vowed revenge; and so strenuous were her efforts to effect the earl's ruin, that she succeeded at length in having him sentenced to lose both his office and his head. Unfortunately for Worcester, he was appointed to succeed Desmond as deputy; and, on arriving in Ireland to assume his functions, he caused the sentence of decapitation against his predecessor to be executed. Under any circumstances, the duty which the new deputy had thus to perform would have been invidious. If we are to credit the story generally told, Worcester executed the sentence under circumstances, not only invidious, but disgraceful and dishonorable.

According to the popular account of the execution of Desmond, the king had no more idea than the child unborn that his old friend was to fall a victim to female malice. It is said that Elizabeth Woodville, having by stealth obtained the royal signet, affixed the seal to a warrant for the Irish earl's[Pg 259] execution, and that Worcester, in order to possess himself of some part of Desmond's estates, instantly acted on this document. It is added that, on hearing of the transaction, Edward was so enraged, that Elizabeth, terrified at her husband's wrath, fled from him to a place of safety.

Desmond was executed at Drogheda; and, when his head fell, the Fitzgeralds rose as one man to avenge the death of their chief. Worcester, however, far from being daunted, stood his ground fearlessly, and remained in Ireland till 1470, when Warwick finally broke with the king. As Clarence took part with his father-in-law, his posts as Constable of England and Lord-lieutenant of Ireland were forfeited, and Edward bestowed them upon Worcester.

On the occasion of his promotion to the lord-lieutenancy, Worcester returned to England. On arriving at Southampton, he was commanded by the king to sit in judgment on several gentlemen and yeomen taken by Anthony Woodville in some ships during a skirmish at sea. Worcester, who appears to have been the reverse of squeamish about shedding blood, condemned twenty of them to be "drawn, hanged, and quartered." Among these was John Clapham, the squire who figured so conspicuously at Banbury.

Worcester had hardly rendered this service to[Pg 260] Edward when Warwick landed, and carried every thing before him. The revolution which restored Henry of Windsor, and placed England in the power of Warwick and his brother-in-law, the Earl of Oxford, was accomplished with so little resistance, that scarcely a drop of blood was shed. Worcester, however, was not allowed to escape. Though a man of rare accomplishments for his age, and one who endeavored to inspire his countrymen with that respect for letters which he himself felt, the earl had, while constable of the Tower, been guilty of fearful severities against the Lancastrians; and he was spoken of among the populace as "The Butcher of England."[11]

Hearing of the king's flight, and not unconscious of his own unpopularity, Worcester was under the necessity of shifting for himself as he best could. His efforts to escape, however, were fruitless. Being pursued into the county of Huntingdon, he was[Pg 261] found concealed in a tree in the forest of Weybridge, dragged from his hiding-place, and carried to the Tower of London.

Worcester was, without delay, brought to trial. The Earl of Oxford presided on the occasion; and the lord-lieutenant was charged with having, while deputy, been guilty of extreme cruelty to two orphan boys, the infant sons of the Earl of Desmond. On this charge he was condemned. He was forthwith executed on Tower Hill, and his headless trunk was buried in the monastery of the Black Friars.

Whatever the faults of Worcester, Caxton seems to have regarded him with respect and admiration. "Oh, good blessed Lord," exclaims that English worthy, "what great loss was it of that noble, virtuous, and well-disposed lord, the Earl of Worcester. What worship had he at Rome, in the presence of our holy father the pope, and in all other places unto his death. The axe then did, at one blow, cut off more learning than was in the heads of all the surviving nobility."


[Pg 262]

CHAPTER XXVII.

THE BANISHED KING.

The adventures of Edward of York, when, at the age of thirty, driven from the kingdom by the Earl of Warwick, seem rather like the creation of a novelist's fancy than events in real life. Scarcely had he escaped from his mutinous army on the Welland, taken shipping at Lynn, and sailed for the Burgundian territories, trusting to the hospitality of his brother-in-law, than he was beset with a danger hardly less pressing than that from which he had fled. Freed from that peril, and disappointed of a cordial welcome, an impulse, which he had neither the will nor the power to resist, brought back the dethroned and banished prince, with a handful of adherents, resolved either to be crowned with laurel or covered with cypress.

During the Wars of the Roses, the narrow seas were infested by the Easterlings, who sailed as privateers as well as traders, and did a little business in the way of piracy besides. At the time of Edward's exile, the Easterlings were at war both with the house of Valois and that of Plantagenet, and had recently inflicted much damage on ships belonging[Pg 263] to the subjects of England. Unluckily for Edward, some of the Easterlings happened to be hovering on the coast when he sailed from Lynn, and scarcely had the shores of England vanished from the eyes of the royal fugitive, when eight of their ships gave chase to his little squadron.

The Yorkist king was far from relishing the eagerness manifested by the Easterlings to make his acquaintance, and would, doubtless, have been delighted to get, by fair sailing, clearly out of their way. This, however, appeared impossible; and, as the danger became alarming, he commanded the skipper to run ashore at all hazards. Edward, albeit exile and fugitive, was not the man to be disobeyed; and the ships stranded on the coast of Friesland, near the town of Alkmaar. The Easterlings, however, were not thus to be shaken off. Instead of giving up the chase, they resolved to board Edward's vessels by the next tide, and, meanwhile, followed as close as the depth of the water would permit. The king's situation was therefore the reverse of pleasant. Indeed, his safety appeared to depend on the chances of a few hours.

Among the European magnates with whom Edward, in the course of his checkered career, had formed friendships, was a Burgundian nobleman, Louis de Bruges, Lord of Grauthuse. This personage, at once a soldier, a scholar, and a trader,[Pg 264] had, on more than one occasion, rendered acceptable service to the White Rose. In other days, he had been sent by the Duke of Burgundy to cancel the treaty of marriage between the son of Margaret of Anjou and the daughter of Mary of Gueldres: and subsequently to the court of England, to treat of the match between Margaret Plantagenet and the Count of Charolois. Being stadtholder of Friesland, the Burgundian happened to be at Alkmaar when Edward was stranded on the coast, and by chance became acquainted with the startling fact that England's king was in the utmost danger of falling into the hands of privateers from the Hanse Towns.

Louis de Bruges could hardly have been unaware that the Duke of Burgundy had no wish to see Edward's face, or to be inextricably involved in the affairs of his unfortunate kinsman. The Lord of Grauthuse, however, was not the person to leave, on the coast of Friesland, at the mercy of pirates, a friend whom, on the banks of the Thames, he had known as a gallant and hospitable monarch; at whose board he had feasted in the Great Hall of Eltham, at whose balls he had danced in the Palace of Westminster, and with whose hounds he had hunted the stag through the glades of Windsor. Perhaps, indeed, being gifted with true nobility of soul, he was all the readier with his friendly offices that Edward was a banished man. In any case, he[Pg 265] took immediate steps to relieve the royal exile, hastened on board, and, without reference to the duke's political views, invited the English king and his friends to land.

Never was assistance more cheerfully given, or more gratefully received. The exiles breathed freely, and thanked Heaven for aid so timely. But a new difficulty at once presented itself. Edward was so poor that he could not pay the master of the Dutch vessel, and all his comrades were in an equally unhappy plight. The king, however, soon got over this awkward circumstance. Taking off his cloak, which was lined with marten, he presented it to the skipper, and, with that frank grace which he possessed in such rare perfection, promised a fitting reward when better days should come.

At the town of Alkmaar, twenty miles from Amsterdam, and celebrated for its rich pastures, the exiled king set foot on Continental soil. His circumstances were most discouraging. Even his garments and those of his friends appear to have been in such a condition as to excite surprise. "Sure," says Comines, "so poor a company were never seen before; yet the Lord of Grauthuse dealt very honorably by them, giving them clothes, and bearing all their expenses, till they came to the Hague."

In his adversity, indeed, the conqueror of Towton could hardly have met with a better friend than[Pg 266] Louis de Bruges. At the Hague the king felt the hardness of his lot alleviated by such attentions as exiles seldom experience. These, doubtless, were not without their effect. As Edward indulged in the good cheer of the city, and quaffed the good wine of the country, he would gradually take heart. Diverted from melancholy reflections by the wit of Anthony Woodville, and the humor of William Hastings, and the crafty suggestions of the boy-Duke of Gloucester, he would find his heart animated by a hope unfelt for days; and, under the influence of successive bumpers, he would allude to Warwick's implacable resentment, not in accents of despondency, but with his habitual oath, and his customary expression, "By God's Blessed Lady, he shall repent it through every vein of his heart."

But what would Burgundy say to all this? That was a question which the Lord of Grauthuse must frequently have asked himself, after feasting his royal guest, and recalling to his memory the scenes of other days, and the fair and the noble who were now suffering for his sake. The duke had already heard of Henry's restoration in connection with a rumor of Edward's death; and, far from manifesting any excessive grief, he had remarked that his relations were with the kingdom of England, not with the king, and that he cared not whether the name of Henry or that of Edward was employed in[Pg 267] the articles of treaty. In fact, the Lancastrian prejudices of Charles the Rash had never, perhaps, been stronger than when the mighty arm of Warwick was likely to smite the enemies of the Red Rose.

From the Hague Louis de Bruges intimated to Burgundy the arrival of King Edward. Burgundy had within the year demonstrated his respect for the King of England by appearing at Ghent with the blue garter on his leg and the red cross on his mantle. But, now that Edward was a king without a crown, the duke's sentiments were quite changed, and he was unwilling, by holding any intercourse with so hapless a being, to throw new difficulties in the way of those ambitious projects which he hoped would convert his ducal coronal into a regal and independent crown. On hearing the news of his brother-in-law being alive and in Holland, the duke's features, naturally harsh and severe, assumed an expression of extreme surprise. "He would have been better pleased," says Comines, "if it had been news of Edward's death."

Burgundy was with some reason annoyed at Edward's having paid so little attention to his warnings; and, moreover, he was vexed with himself for having, out of friendship to so imprudent a prince, exasperated to mortal enmity so potent a personage as "The Stout Earl." But Burgundy little knew[Pg 268] the ability and energy which, in seasons of adversity, the chief of the Plantagenets was capable of displaying. Edward already felt that something must be attempted. Dullness he could not bear. The idea of passing his life as a grumbling or plotting refugee was not to be entertained. Hitherto, when not engaged in making war on men, he had been occupied in making love to women. For luxurious indolence he had always had a failing; from violent exertion he had seldom shrunk; but excitement he had ever regarded as indispensable. When he left his gay and brilliant court, it was to charge, at the head of fighting men, against the foes of his house; and, with all his faults, it was admitted that Christendom could hardly boast of so brave a soldier, so gallant a knight, or so skillful a general. One man, indeed, Edward knew was still deemed his superior; and the banished Plantagenet burned for an opportunity to exercise his somewhat savage valor against the patriot earl who had made and unmade him.

The duke soon found that his royal relative was not likely to die an exiled king. In fact, Edward, who lately had exhibited so much indolence and indifference, was now all enthusiasm and eagerness for action. He who, while in England, was so lazy that the most pressing exhortations could not rouse him to obviously necessary precautions in defense of his[Pg 269] crown, had now, when an exile in Holland, more need of a bridle than a spur.

The position of Duke Charles was somewhat delicate. While aware that he could not with decency refuse aid to his wife's brother, he was unable to exclude from his mind great apprehensions from the hostility of Warwick. In this dilemma, even Europe's proudest and haughtiest magnate could not afford to be fastidious as to the means of saving himself. Between love of the duchess and fear of the earl, Charles the Rash for once found it necessary to condescend to the process of playing a double game. To ingratiate himself with Warwick he resolved to issue a proclamation forbidding any of his subjects to join Edward's expedition; and, at the same time, to pacify the duchess, he promised to grant secretly to his exiled kinsman the means of attempting to regain the English crown.

Preparations for Edward's departure were soon made. Twelve hundred men were got together, part of whom were English, armed with hand-guns, and part Flemings. To convey these to England, ships were necessary: to pay them, money was not less essential. Both ships and money were forthcoming.

Burgundy furnished the ships. The duke, however, acted with a caution which seemed to form no part of his character, and gave assistance in a manner[Pg 270] so secret that he trusted to avoid hostilities with the government established. At Vere, in Walcheren, four vessels were fitted out for Edward's use in the name of private merchants, and fourteen others were hired from the Easterlings to complete the squadron.

The house of Medici would seem to have supplied the money. At an earlier stage of the great struggle that divided England, Cosmo, the grandfather of Lorenzo the Magnificent, had thrown his weight into the Yorkist scale by advancing money to keep Edward on the throne; and the banker-princes of Florence appear once more to have influenced the fortunes of the house of Plantagenet by affording pecuniary aid to the heir of York. One way or another, Edward got possession of fifty thousand florins—no insignificant sum, considering how desperate seemed his fortunes.

The royal exile was now impatient to be in England, and there was at least one man who prayed earnestly for the success of his enterprise. This was Louis de Bruges, who—to his credit be it told—had throughout displayed toward the fugitive monarch, in an age of selfishness and servility, a generosity worthy of those great days of chivalry which boasted of the Black Prince and John de Valois. After having given all the aid he could to Edward in regard to ships and money, Louis still appears to have[Pg 271] thought he had not done enough. To complete his courtesy, therefore, he offered to accompany the banished king to England, and aid in overcoming his enemies in the battles that were inevitable. This last sacrifice to friendship Edward declined to accept; but he was touched by such a proof of esteem, and pressed his host strongly to come once more to England, and give him an opportunity of requiting so much hospitality. After an affectionate farewell, the king and the stadtholder parted; and Edward, having embarked, sailed toward England, with the determination either to reoccupy a regal throne or to fill a warrior's grave.

Edward's fleet sailed from Vere, in Walcheren, and, after a prosperous voyage, approached Cromer, on the coast of Norfolk. Hoping much from the influence of the Mowbrays, and eager to set his foot on English soil, the king sent Sir Robert Chamberlaine and another knight ashore to ascertain the ideas of the Duke of Norfolk. But little did Edward know of the position of his friends. The province was entirely under the influence of Oxford; and the Mowbrays, so far from retaining any power, appear to have been glad, indeed, of that earl's protection. "The duke and duchess," says John Paston, writing to his mother, "now sue to him as humbly as ever I did to them, inasmuch that my Lord of Oxford shall have the rule of them[Pg 272] and theirs, by their own desire and great means." The answer brought back by Edward's knights was not, therefore, satisfactory. Indeed, Oxford had just been in Norfolk, to assure himself that no precautions were omitted; and the coast was so vigilantly guarded by his brother, George De Vere, that an attempt to land would have been rushing on certain destruction.

Disappointed, but not dismayed, the king ordered the mariners to steer northward; and a violent storm scattered his fleet. Persevering, however, with his single ship, Edward, after having been tossed by winds and storms for forty-eight hours, sailed into the Humber, and on the 14th of March, 1471, effected a landing at Ravenspur, where, in other days, Henry of Bolingbroke had set foot when he came to deprive the second Richard of his crown and his life. Having passed the night at the village hard by, the king was next morning joined by his friends, who had landed on another part of the coast.

Edward now set his face southward; but he soon found that, on the shores of England, he was almost as far from his object as he had been on the coast of Walcheren. The people of the north were decidedly hostile; and at York he was brought to a stand-still. It was an age, however, when men sported with oaths as children do with playthings; and Edward's conscience was by no means more[Pg 273] tender than those of his neighbors. To smooth his way, he solemnly swore only to claim the dukedom of York, not to make any attempt to recover the crown; and, moreover, he carried his dissimulation so far as to proclaim King Henry and assume the ostrich feather, which was the cognizance of the Lancastrian Prince of Wales.

After leaving York, however, a formidable obstacle presented itself in the shape of Pontefract Castle, where Montagu lay with an army. But the marquis, deceived, it would seem, by a letter from the false Clarence, made no attempt to bar Edward's progress; and, once across the Trent, the king threw off his disguise, and rallied the people of the south to his standard. At Coventry, into which Warwick had retired to await the arrival of Clarence with twelve thousand men, Edward, halting before the walls, challenged the earl to decide their quarrel by single combat. The king-maker, however, treated this piece of knightly bravado with contempt; and Edward, having in vain endeavored to bring his great foe to battle by threatening the town of Warwick, was fain to throw himself between the earl and the capital.

All this time Warwick's danger was much greater than he supposed, for the negotiations of the female embassador sent to Angers were bearing fruit; and Gloucester had held a secret conference with[Pg 274] Clarence in the false duke's camp. The consequences of this interview soon appeared. Clarence, reconciled to his brothers, seized an early opportunity of making his soldiers put the White Rose on their gorgets instead of the Red, and then, with colors flying and trumpets sounding, marched to Edward's camp.

The king, thus re-enforced, pressed courageously toward London. Perhaps he entertained little doubt of a favorable reception; for he knew full well that the interest he had among the city dames, and the immense sums he owed their husbands—sums never likely to pay unless in the event of a restoration—made London friendly to his cause; and he knew, moreover, that thousands of his partisans were in the sanctuaries, ready to come forth and don the White Rose whenever the banner of York waved in the spring breeze before the city gates.

It appears that Warwick, ere leaving London, had placed the capital and the king under the auspices of his brother, George Neville, Archbishop of York. On hearing of Edward's approach, the archbishop made an effort to discharge his duty, mounted Henry of Windsor on horseback, and caused him to ride from St. Paul's to Walbrook to enlist the sympathies of the citizens. But during the last six months the feelings of the populace had undergone a considerable change, and the spectacle of the monk-monarch[Pg 275] on his palfrey failed to elicit any thing like enthusiasm. Seeing how the political wind blew, the ambitious prelate resolved to abandon his brother's cause, and dispatched a message to Edward asking to be received into favor.

The archbishop was assured of a pardon; and the way having thus been cleared, the king, on Thursday, the 11th of April, entered the city. After riding to St. Paul's, he repaired to the bishop's palace, and thither, to his presence, came the archbishop, leading Henry by the hand. Having taken possession of his captive, Edward rode to Westminster, rendered thanks to God in the Abbey for his restoration, conducted his wife and infant son from the sanctuary to Baynard's Castle, passed next day, Good Friday, in that palace of Duke Humphrey, and then braced on his armor to battle for his crown.


[Pg 276]

CHAPTER XXVIII.

QUEEN MARGARET'S VOYAGE.

One day in the middle of November, 1470, about three months after the marriage of Edward of Lancaster and Anne Neville, Margaret of Anjou visited Paris, and was received in the capital of Louis the Crafty with honors never before accorded but to queens of France. The daughter of King René must in that hour have formed high notions of the advantage of Warwick's friendship, for it was entirely owing to the king-maker's triumph that King Henry's wife was treated with so much distinction.

The news of Warwick's success and of Edward's discomfiture, which had caused so much excitement in Calais, the Continental strong-hold of the English, traveled rapidly to the French territories, and reached the king, who, at Amboise, was anxiously awaiting the result of Warwick's expedition. Louis was overjoyed at the success of his schemes, and demonstrated his confidence in the genius of the earl by setting the treaty of Peronne at defiance, and breaking all terms of amity with the Duke of Burgundy. In his enthusiasm he could not even recognize the possibility of a change of fortune.[Pg 277] For once this apostle of deceit was deceived by himself.

While rejoicing in the results produced by his political craft, Louis was seized with a fit of devotion. To indulge his superstitious emotions, the king went on a pilgrimage to the Church of St. Mary at Celles, in Poitou; and, having there expressed his own gratitude to Heaven, he issued orders that the clergy, nobles, and inhabitants of Paris and other towns throughout France should make solemn procession in honor of God and the Virgin, and give thanks at once for the victory obtained by Henry of Windsor over the Earl of March, who had long usurped his throne, and for the peace now happily established between England and France.

The visit of Margaret of Anjou to Paris was then projected; and, when the religious festival, which lasted for three days, was over, preparations were made for her reception. At the appointed time, Margaret proceeded on the journey, accompanied by the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Countess of Warwick, the Countess of Wiltshire, a daughter of the house of Beaufort, and other ladies and damsels who had formed the court at Verdun, and attended by an escort of French noblemen, among whom the Counts D'Eu, Dunois, and Vendôme were prominent figures.

On reaching the French capital, Margaret was[Pg 278] received with the highest honors. "When she approached Paris," says Monstrelet, "the bishop, the court of Parliament, the University, the provosts of Paris, and the court of Châtelet, by express orders from the king, together with the principal inhabitants, came out to meet her, handsomely dressed, and in very numerous bodies. She made her entry at the gate of St. James; and all the streets through which she passed, from that gate to the palace, where apartments had been handsomely prepared for her, were adorned with hangings of tapestry, and had tents pitched in all the squares." At such a time Margaret could hardly have helped recalling to memory, perhaps not without feelings of bitterness, how different had been her reception when, eight years earlier, she, poor indeed and desolate, but then as much as now Queen of the Lancastrians, came with her son in her hand to implore her kinsman's aid to recover her husband's crown.

Enthusiastic as was the welcome of the Lancastrians to Paris, they had no motive to prolong their stay on the banks of the Seine. Indeed, as it was believed that nothing but the presence of the queen and Prince of Wales was wanting to secure Warwick triumph, they were all anxiety to set sail. In November they journeyed to the coast, but the winter was so cold and the weather so stormy that they were fain to postpone their voyage.

[Pg 279]

About the opening of the year 1471, the Prior of St. John, dispatched by Warwick, came to urge the necessity of Margaret's presence, and that of the Prince of Wales, in England. The queen again embarked, and the earl gladly prepared to welcome the mother and the son to those shores from which he had, seven years before, driven them poor and destitute; but still the winds were adverse and the weather stormy, and the ships only left Harfleur to be driven back damaged.[12]

The elements had often proved unfavorable to Margaret of Anjou, but never under circumstances so unfortunate as on this occasion. Thrice did she put to sea, and as often was she dashed back by contrary winds. The partisans of each of the Roses in England put their own interpretation on these unpropitious gales. "It is God's just provision," said the Yorkists, "that the foreign woman, who has been the cause of so many battles and so much slaughter, should never return to England to do[Pg 280] more mischief." "The queen," said the Lancastrians, "is kept away, and her journey prevented, by Friar Bungey, the Duchess of Bedford, and other sorcerers and necromancers."

All winter the queen and prince were compelled to wait patiently for fair winds to waft them to the shores of England; and while in this position they learned, with some degree of alarm, that Edward of York had landed at Ravenspur, and that Clarence, breaking faith with Warwick, had been reconciled to his brother. But, however anxious at this intelligence, they were not seriously apprehensive of the consequences. Margaret knew, to her cost, the influence which Warwick exercised in England, and, sanguine by nature, she could hardly doubt that he would prove victorious in the event of a struggle. The prince, though intelligent and accomplished, was young and inexperienced; and he had been taught by Louis to believe that the alliance of Warwick and Margaret would conquer all obstacles.

At length, when the winter passed and the spring came, when the winds were still and the sea calm, the queen and the Prince of Wales embarked once more, and left the French coast behind. Landing at Weymouth on the 14th of April, they went to the Abbey of Cearne to repose from the fatigues of their voyage before taking their way to the capital, where they anticipated a joyous welcome. But a[Pg 281] bitter disappointment was reserved for the royal wanderers. The prince, instead of finding a throne at Westminster, was doomed to fill a bloody grave at Tewkesbury. Margaret, instead of entering London in triumph, was led thither a captive, when a terrible defeat had destroyed hope, and a tragic catastrophe had dissipated ambition.


[Pg 282]

CHAPTER XXIX.

THE BATTLE OF BARNET.

Memorable was the spring of 1471 destined to be in the history of England's baronage, and in the annals of the Wars of "the pale and the purple rose."

From the day that the warriors of the White Rose—thanks to Montagu's supineness in the cause of the Red—were allowed to pass the Trent on their progress southward, a great battle between Edward and Warwick became inevitable; and as the king, without any desire to avoid a collision with the earl, led a Yorkist army toward London, the earl, with every determination to insist on a conflict with the king, mustered a Lancastrian army at Coventry.

England, it was plain, could not, for many days longer, hold both Edward and Warwick. Each was animated by an intense antipathy to the other, and both panted for the hour that was to bring their mortal feud to the arbitrament of the sword. The circumstances were altogether unfavorable to compromise or delay; and events hurried on with a rapidity corresponding to the characters of the rival chiefs. While Edward Plantagenet was taking possession[Pg 283] of London, Richard Neville was advancing, by the high northern road, toward the capital; and, almost ere the king had time to do more than remove his spouse from the sanctuary of Westminster to Baynard's Castle, the trumpet of war summoned him to an encounter with the king-maker.

Warwick's rendezvous was Coventry; and to that city, at the earl's call, hastened thousands of men, to repair the loss which he had sustained by the defection of Clarence. Thither came Henry of Exeter and Edmund Somerset; and John De Vere, Earl of Oxford, with a host of warriors devoted to the house of Lancaster; and John Neville, Marquis of Montagu, who, although not supposed to relish the company of Lancastrians, appeared eager in his brother's quarrel to sacrifice the prejudices of his life and redeem the fatal error he had committed at Pontefract.

At this stage of affairs, the Duke of Clarence endeavored to open a door for the earl's reconciliation to the king. Such an attempt was indeed hopeless; but the duke, perhaps suffering some twinges of conscience on account of his treachery, sent to excuse himself for changing sides, and to entreat Warwick to make peace with Edward. His message was treated with lofty scorn. "I would rather," said the earl, "die true to myself, than live like that false and perjured duke; and I vow not, until[Pg 284] I have either lost my life or subdued mine enemies, to lay down the sword to which I have appealed."

With a resolution not to be broken, Warwick, with Oxford leading his van, marched from Coventry; and, hoping to arrest the Yorkist army ere the king was admitted into London, he advanced southward with all speed. Learning, however, that the archbishop had proved false, and that the citizens had proved obsequious, the earl, on reaching St. Albans, halted to allow his men to repose from their fatigues, and on Saturday moved forward to Barnet, standing on a hill midway between St. Albans and London. Here the earl, resolving to await the approach of his royal foe, called a halt; and, having ordered his vanguard to take possession of the little town, he encamped on a heath known as Gladsmuir, and forming part of an extensive chase, stocked with beasts of game.

The king did not long keep the earl waiting. No sooner did the martial monarch hear that his great foe had left Coventry and was approaching the metropolis, than he girded on his armor, with a heart as fearless of the issue as had animated the mightiest of his ancestors when, on a summer morning, he marched to Evesham to strike down the puissance of Simon de Montfort. It was with no faint hopes of success, indeed, that, at the head of an army devoted to his cause, Edward, clad in magnificent armor,[Pg 285] and mounted on a white steed, with crimson caparisons, lined with blue and embroidered with flowers of gold, rode out of London, cheered by the good wishes of the citizens, surrounded by the companions of his exile, and attended by George of Clarence, whom he could not prudently trust elsewhere, and by Henry of Windsor, whom he could not safely leave behind.

On the afternoon of Saturday Edward left London, and late in the evening of that day he reached Barnet. As the Yorkist army approached the town, the king's outriders, meeting those of the earl, chased them past the embattled tower of the church dedicated to St. John, and advanced till, through the darkness, they perceived the army of Warwick. On being informed that the earl was so near, the king ordered his army to move through Barnet, and encamped in the darkness, close to the foe, on Gladsmuir Heath. The king took up his quarters for the night in the town, and his soldiers lay on the heath. They had no sleep, however, for so near was the Lancastrian camp that the voices of men and the neighing of horses were distinctly heard.

Both armies had artillery; and Warwick's guns were, during the night, fired perseveringly at the foe. The king, it appears, did not reply to this salutation. Indeed, Edward early discovered that the Lancastrians were unaware of the exact position[Pg 286] of the Yorkist army, and thanked his stars that such was the case; for, though Edward's intention had been to place his men immediately in front of their foes, the darkness had prevented him from perceiving the extent of Warwick's lines, and thus it happened that, while ranging his forces so as far to outstride the earl's left wing, he had failed to place them over against the right. Seldom has an error in war proved so fortunate for a general. The earl happened to have all his artillery posted in the right division of his army, and concluded that the Yorkists were within reach. Edward, as the fire from Warwick's guns flashed red through the darkness, saw the advantage he had unintentionally gained, and issued strict orders that none of his guns should be fired, lest the enemy "should have guessed the ground, and so leveled their artillery to his annoyance." This precaution was successful, and the earl's gunners thundered till daybreak without producing any effect.

Ere the first streak of day glimmered in the sky, the armies were in motion; and when the morning of Easter Sunday dawned, a flourish of trumpets and a solemn tolling from the bell of the Church of St. John aroused the inhabitants of Barnet, and announced that the game of carnage was about to begin. The weather was by no means favorable for that display of martial chivalry which, in sunshine,[Pg 287] the field would have presented to the eyes of spectators. The morning was damp and dismal. A thick fog overshadowed the heath; and the mist hung so closely over both armies that neither Yorkists nor Lancastrians could see their foes, save at intervals. The fighting men of that age were as superstitious as their neighbors; and the soldiers on both sides concluded that the mists had been raised to favor the king by Friar Bungey, the potent magician whose spells were supposed to have raised the wind that kept Margaret of Anjou from the shores of England.

Nevertheless, at break of day the earl ordered his trumpets to sound, and proceeded to set his men in battle order. The task was one of no small delicacy; but it seems to have been performed with great judgment. Though Warwick was the soul and right arm of the Lancastrian army, the battle was so arranged as to give no umbrage to the time-tried champions of the Red Rose. The centre host, consisting chiefly of archers and bill-men, was commanded by Somerset; Oxford, who appears to have been trusted by the Lancastrians, shared the command of the right wing with the conqueror of Hexham; and, in command of the left, Exeter, who had helped to lose battle after battle, had the distinction of participating with "the setter-up and plucker-down of kings."

[Pg 288] Meanwhile, Edward had roused himself from his repose, arrayed himself royally for the battle, placed on his head a basnet surrounded with a crown of ornament, mounted his white charger—in that age regarded as the symbol of sovereignty—and taken the field to vindicate his right to the throne of his two great namesakes who reposed at Westminster in the Confessor's Chapel.

Edward, in marshaling his army, had to contend with none of the difficulties that beset Warwick. The Yorkist army was devoted to his cause, as the chief of the White Rose; and the captains shared each other's political sympathies and antipathies. Moreover, they were the king's own kinsmen and friends—kinsmen who had partaken of his prosperity, and were eager to contribute to his triumph—friends who had accompanied him into exile, and were ready to die in his defense. Under such circumstances, the disposition of the Yorkist army was easily made. Edward, keeping the fickle Clarence and the feeble Henry in close attendance, took the command of the centre, and was opposed to that part of the Lancastrian forces commanded by Somerset. At the head of the right wing was placed Gloucester, though still in his teens, to cope with Exeter, the husband of his sister, and Warwick, the sworn friend of his sire. At the head of the left was posted Hastings, to face his brothers-in-law,[Pg 289] Oxford and Montagu. Besides these divisions, the king kept a body of choice troops in reserve to render aid, as the day sped on, where aid should be most required.

Agreeably to the custom of the period, the king and the earl addressed their adherents, each asserting the justice of his cause—Edward denouncing the patrician hero as rebel and traitor; while Warwick branded his royal adversary as usurper and tyrant. This ceremony over, the hostile armies joined battle. At first fortune with fickle smile favored the Lancastrians. The error made by the Yorkists in taking up their position on the previous evening now caused them serious inconvenience. In fact, the Lancastrian right wing, composed of horsemen, so overlapped the king's troops opposed to them that Oxford and Montagu were enabled to crush Hastings as in a serpent's fold. The Yorkist left wing was completely discomfited; and many of the men spurred out of the fog, escaped from the field, dashed through Barnet, galloped along the high north road to London, and excused their flight by reporting that the earl had won the day.

The conclusion at which the fugitives had arrived was quite premature. Indeed, could these doughty champions of the White Rose have seen what was passing in other parts of the field, they would probably have postponed their ride to the capital. Fearful[Pg 290] difficulties encompassed the right wing of the Lancastrian army. Gloucester was proving how formidable a war-chief a Plantagenet could be even in his teens, and enacting his part with such skill and courage as would have done credit to warriors who had led the Yorkists to victory at Towton and Northampton. With an eye that few things escaped, the boy-duke availed himself of the advantage which Montagu and Oxford had turned to such account in their struggle with Hastings; and, urging on the assault with characteristic ferocity, he succeeded in placing his adversaries in the unfortunate predicament to which the left wing of the Yorkists had already been reduced. At the same time, the Lancastrians opposed to Gloucester were dispirited by the fall of Exeter, who sunk to the ground wounded with an arrow; and so dense continued the fog over Gladsmuir Heath that they were not even consoled with the knowledge of Oxford's signal success. Edward, however, early became aware that his left wing had been destroyed, and charged the Lancastrian centre with such vigor as threw Somerset's ranks into confusion.

The ignorance of the Lancastrians as to the success of their right wing, was not the only disadvantage they suffered from the fog. The soldiers considered the dense watery vapors not as ordinary exhalations, but as supernatural means used by Friar[Pg 291] Bungey to aid the Yorkist cause; and, from the beginning, the gloom had been decidedly favorable to Edward's operations. Ere the battle long continued, the fog did better service to the king than could have been rendered to him by hundreds of knights.

Among the retainers of feudal magnates of that age it was the fashion to wear a badge to indicate the personage whose banner they followed. From the time of the Crusades the badge of the house of De Vere had been a star with streams; and from the morning of Mortimer's Cross, the cognizance of the house of York had a sun in splendor. At Barnet, Oxford's men had the star embroidered on their coats; Edward's men the sun on their coats. The devices bore such a resemblance that, seen through a fog, one might easily be mistaken for the other; and it happened that on Gladsmuir Heath there was such a mistake.

When Oxford had pursued the Yorkists under Hastings to the verge of the Heath, it occurred to him that he might render a signal service to his party by wheeling round and smiting Edward's centre in the flank. Unfortunately some Lancastrian archers, who perceived without comprehending this movement, mistook De Vere's star, in the mist, for Edward's sun, drew their bows to the head, and sent a flight of shafts rattling against the mail of the[Pg 292] approaching cavalry. Oxford's horsemen instantly shouted "Treason! treason! we are all betrayed!" and Oxford, amazed at such treatment from his own party, and bewildered by the cry of "Treason!" that now came from all directions, concluded that there was foul play, and rode off the field at the head of eight hundred men.

The plight of the Lancastrians was now rapidly becoming desperate; and Edward hastened their ruin by urging fresh troops upon their disordered ranks. Warwick, however, showed no inclination to yield. "The Stout Earl" in fact had been little accustomed to defeat; and such was the terror of his name that, on former occasions, the cry of "A Warwick! A Warwick!" had been sufficient to decide the fate of a field. But at St. Albans, at Northampton, and at Towton Field, the earl's triumphs had been achieved over Beauforts, Hollands, and Tudors, men of ordinary courage and average intellect. At Barnet he was in the presence of a warrior of prowess and a war-chief of pride, whose heart was not less bold, and whose eye was still more skillful than his own.

Edward, in fact, could not help perceiving that nothing but a violent effort was now required to complete his victory. Up to this stage he appears to have issued commands to his friends with the skill of a Plantagenet: he now executed vengeance[Pg 293] on his foes with the cruelty of a Mortimer. Mounted on his white steed, with his teeth firmly set, the spur pressing his horse's side, and his right hand lifted up to slay, he charged the disheartened Lancastrians, bearing down all opposition; and, instead of crying, as on former occasions, "Smite the captains, but spare the commons!" he said, "Spare none who favor the rebel earl!"

While the king's steed was bearing him over the field, and his arm was doing fearful execution on the foe, the king-maker's operations were, unfortunately for the Lancastrian cause, limited to a single spot. In former battles, with a memorable exception, Warwick had fought on horseback. When mounted, the earl had been in the habit of riding from rank to rank to give orders, of breaking, with his sword or his battle-axe in hand, into the enemy's lines, with the cry of "A Warwick! A Warwick!" and encouraging his army by deeds of prowess, wherever the presence of a daring leader was most necessary. At Barnet, however, he had been prevailed on to dismount, and send his steed away, that he might thus, as when he killed his horse at Towton, prove to his adherents that he was determined never to leave the field till he was either a conqueror or a corpse. Most unfortunate for the earl proved this deviation from his ordinary custom, when the day wore on and the men grew weary, and looked[Pg 294] in vain for the presence of their chief to cheer their spirits and sustain their courage.

It was seven o'clock when the fight began. Long ere noon both wings of the Lancastrian army had vanished, and the chiefs of the Red Rose had disappeared from the field. Oxford had fled to avoid being betrayed. Somerset had fled to escape death. Exeter, abandoned by his attendants, lay on the cold heath of Gladsmuir among the dead and dying. But Warwick was resolved that the battle should only terminate with his life; and, at the head of the remaining division, opposed to the Yorkists whom Edward commanded in person, the earl posted himself for a final effort to avert his doom. Montagu, it would appear, was by his brother's side.

More furiously than ever now raged the battle; and far fiercer than hitherto was the struggle that took place. Opposed more directly to each other than they had previously been, the king and the earl exerted their prowess to the utmost—one animated by hope, the other urged by despair. The example of such leaders was not, of course, lost; and men of all ranks in the two armies strained every nerve, and struggled hand to hand with their adversaries.

"Groom fought like noble, squire like knight,
As fearlessly and well."

On both sides the slaughter had been considerable.[Pg 295] On Edward's side Lord Say and Sir John Lisle, Lord Cromwell and Sir Humphrey Bourchier, with about fifteen hundred soldiers, bit the dust. On Warwick's side twenty-three knights, among whom was Sir William Tyrrel, and three thousand fighting men fell to rise no more. At length, after a bloody and obstinate contest had been maintained, Edward saw that the time had arrived to strike a sure and shattering blow. There still remained a body of Yorkists who had been kept in reserve for any emergency. The king ordered up these fresh troops, and led them to the assault. Warwick fronted this new peril with haughty disdain; and, in accents of encouragement, appealed to his remaining adherents to persevere. "This," said he, "is their last resource. If we withstand this one charge the field will yet be ours." But the earl's men, jaded and fatigued, could not encounter such fearful odds with success; and Warwick had the mortification of finding that his call was no longer answered by his friends, and that his battle-cry no longer sounded terrible to his foes.

Warwick could not now have entertained any delusions as to the issue of the conflict. He was conquered, and he must have felt such to be the case. The disaster was irremediable, and left him no hope. The descendant of Cospatrick did not stoop to ask for mercy, as Simon de Montfort had done under[Pg 296] somewhat similar circumstances, only to be told there was none for such a traitor; nor did he, by a craven flight, tarnish the splendid fame which he had won on many a stricken field. Life, in fact, could not any longer have charms for him; and, ceasing to hope for victory, he did not feel any wish to survive defeat. A glorious death only awaited the king-maker—such a death as history should record in words of admiration and poets celebrate in strains of praise.

Under such circumstances, the great earl ventured desperately into the thickest of the conflict; and, sword in hand, threw himself valiantly among countless enemies. Death, which he appeared to seek, did not shun him; and he faced the king of terrors with an aspect as fearless as he had ever presented to Henry or to Edward. The king-maker died as he had lived. In the melancholy hour which closed his career—betrayed by the wily archbishop; deserted by the perjured Clarence; abandoned on the field by his new allies; and conquered by the man whom he had set on a throne—even in that hour, the bitterest perhaps of his life, Warwick was Warwick still; and Montagu, perhaps caring little to survive the patriot earl, rushed in to his rescue, and fell by his side.

Naturally enough, the Yorkists breathed more freely after Warwick's fall; and, with some reason,[Pg 297] they believed that the last hopes of Lancaster had been trodden out on the field of Barnet. Edward, as he rode from the scene of carnage toward London, imagined his throne absolutely secure; and, not dreaming that ere a few days he would have to gird on his armor for a struggle hardly less severe than that out of which he had come a conqueror, the king made a triumphal entry into the capital, repaired to St. Paul's, presented his standard as an offering, and returned thanks to God for giving him such a victory over his enemies.

The bodies of Warwick and Montagu were placed in one coffin, conveyed to London, and exposed for three days at St. Paul's, that all who desired might assure themselves that the great earl and his brother no longer lived. Even Warwick's death did not appease Edward's hatred; and he would have cared little to refuse interment befitting the earl's rank to the corpse of the departed hero. The king, however, mourned the death of Montagu; and, from regard to the memory of the marquis, he ordered that both brothers should be laid among their maternal ancestors.

During the fourteenth century, one of those Earls of Salisbury, whose name is associated with the era of English chivalry and with the noblest of European orders, had founded an abbey at Bisham, in Berkshire. This religious house, which stood hard by[Pg 298] the River Thames, and had become celebrated as the sepulchre of the illustrious family which the king-maker, through his mother, represented, was chosen as the last resting-place of Warwick and of the brother who fought and fell with him at Barnet. At the Reformation, Bisham Abbey was destroyed; and, unfortunately, nothing was left to mark the spot where repose the ashes of "The Stout Earl," whom Shakspeare celebrates as the "proud setter-up and puller-down of kings."


[Pg 299]

CHAPTER XXX.

BEFORE TEWKESBURY.

It was Easter Sunday, in the year 1471, and the battle of Barnet had been fought. Exeter lay stretched among the dead and the dying on the blood-stained heath of Gladsmuir; Oxford was spurring toward the north; Somerset was escaping toward the west; Henry of Windsor had been led back to his prison in the Tower; the bodies of Warwick and Montagu were being conveyed in one coffin to St. Paul's; and Edward of York was at the metropolitan cathedral, offering his standard upon the altar, and returning thanks to God for his victory over the Red Rose of Lancaster and the flower of the ancient nobility, when Margaret of Anjou once more set foot on the shores of England. Nor, in circumstances so inauspicious, did she arrive as a solitary victim. Accompanied by the son of the captive king and the daughter of the fallen earl, and attended by Lord Wenlock, Sir John Fortescue, and the Prior of St. John's, came the Lancastrian queen on that day when the wounded were dying, and the riflers prying, and the ravens flying over the field of Barnet.

[Pg 300]

At Weymouth, on the coast of Devon, Margaret landed with the Prince and Princess of Wales. From Weymouth, the ill-starred queen was escorted to the Abbey of Cearne, a religious house in the neighborhood. While at Cearne, resting from the fatigues of her voyage, she was informed of the defeat of the Lancastrians and the death of Warwick.

Margaret had hitherto, through all perils and perplexities, been sustained by her high spirit. She had won the reputation of being one of the race of steel, who felt her soul brighten in danger, and who never knew fear without such a feeling being succeeded by a blush at having yielded to such weakness. On hearing of the defeat at Barnet, however, she evinced the utmost alarm, raised her hands to heaven, closed her eyes, and, in a state of bewilderment, sunk swooning to the ground. Her first idea, on recovering consciousness, was to return to France; but, meanwhile, for the sake of personal safety, she hastened to the Abbey of Beaulieu, in Hampshire, and registered herself and her whole party as persons availing themselves of the privilege of sanctuary.

A rumor of the queen's arrival reached the chiefs of the Red Rose party; and to Beaulieu, without delay, went Somerset, with his brother, John Beaufort, whom the Lancastrians called Marquis of Dorset, and John, Earl of Devon, head of the great[Pg 301] house of Courtenay. These noblemen found Margaret plunged in grief, and resolved on returning to France till God should send her better fortune. Their presence, however, in some degree, revived the courage which had so often shone forth in adversity; and Somerset strongly urged her to brave fortune and the foe on another field. With the utmost difficulty Margaret was brought to consent to the proposal, and even then she hesitated and grew pale. Indeed, the ill-fated heroine confessed that she feared for her son, and intimated her wish that he should be sent to France, there to remain till a victory had been won. But to this scheme decided opposition was expressed. Somerset and the Lancastrian lords argued that the Prince of Wales should remain in England to lead the adherents of the Red Rose to battle, "he being," as they said, "the morning sun of the Lancastrian hopes, the rays of which were very resplendent to meet English eyes;" and the royal boy, we can well believe, was prepared rather to die at once on a field of fame, than live through years of exile to expire in inglorious obscurity.

At length Margaret yielded to the general wish, and the Lancastrian chiefs formed their plans for mustering an army. No insuperable difficulties presented themselves. Shortly before Barnet was fought, John Beaufort and the Earl of Devon had[Pg 302] gone westward from Coventry to levy forces, and Jasper Tudor had been sent into Wales on a similar errand. The idea of the Lancastrians was to draw together the men enlisted in the west, to join Jasper Tudor, who was still zealously recruiting in Wales, to secure the services of the archers in which Lancashire and Cheshire abounded, and to summon the prickers of the northern counties to that standard under which they had conquered at Wakefield and Bernard's Heath. The plan of campaign was, as we shall hereafter see, such as to place Edward's throne in considerable peril; and the imaginations of the Lancastrian chiefs caught fire at the prospect of triumph. Somerset openly boasted that the Red Rose party was rather strengthened than enfeebled by Warwick's fall; and Oxford, who had recovered from the bewilderment which had lost his friends a victory at Barnet, wrote to his countess, Warwick's sister, "Be of good cheer, and take no thought, for I shall bring my purpose about now by the grace of God."

Unfortunately for the champions of the Red Rose, they had to contend with no ordinary antagonist. Almost ere they had formed their plans, the king was aware that they were in motion; and, somewhat alarmed, he faced the new danger with the energy and spirit that had laid Warwick low. Within a week after his victory at Barnet, Edward, having[Pg 303] placed Henry of Windsor securely in the Tower, and also committed George Neville, Archbishop of York, to the metropolitan fortress, marched from London with such forces as were at hand; and at Windsor, within the castle of his regal ancestors, he remained nearly a week to celebrate the feast of St. George, to await the remainder of his troops, and to obtain such intelligence of the enemy's movements as might enable him to defeat their project. As yet the king was utterly uncertain whether the Red Rose chiefs intended marching toward London or leading their adherents northward. His predicament was, therefore, awkward. If he hastened on to protect the north from being invaded, he left London at their mercy; if he remained to guard the capital, he left the north free to their incursions. The king's great object, under such circumstances, was to bring the Lancastrians to battle at the earliest possible period. His army, indeed, was small; but, as affairs then were, he had little hope of its being increased; and he appears to have placed much reliance on the artillery, with which he was well provided. But, anxious as Edward might be to meet his foes face to face, he checked his natural impetuosity, and declined to advance a mile without having calculated the consequences.

Meanwhile, the Lancastrian standard was set up at Exeter, and to "the London of the West" the[Pg 304] men of Devon, Somerset, and Cornwall were invited to repair. The Red Rose chiefs perfectly comprehended the dilemma in which Edward was placed, and were prepared to act just as circumstances rendered safe and expedient. If they could draw their potent foe from the neighborhood of London, they would march on the metropolis. If they could keep him in the neighborhood of London, they would cross the Severn, join Jasper Tudor, march into Lancashire and Cheshire, and raise the men of the north to overturn the Yorkist throne. One thing they did not desire—that was an early meeting with the conqueror of Towton and Barnet.

At Exeter, Margaret of Anjou, with the Prince and Princess of Wales, joined the adherents of the Red Rose, and prepared for those military operations which, she hoped, would hurl Edward of York from the throne. Ere venturing upon the terrible task, however, the queen, with the Lancastrian chiefs, made a progress throughout the west to collect recruits. From Exeter she proceeded with this object to Bath, a town which then consisted of a few hundreds of houses, crowded within an old wall, hard by the Avon, and which derived some renown from those springs whose healing qualities Bladud had discovered under the guidance of hogs, and whose virtues had recommended the place to the Romans when they came to Britain as resistless conquerors.

[Pg 305]

At Bath, Margaret's friends learned that Edward was watching her movements with a vigilance that rendered an early junction with Jasper Tudor extremely desirable; and, having considerably increased in number, the Lancastrians took their way to Bristol, a town with strong walls, which the Flemings, brought over by Philippa of Hainault, had made the seat of an extensive woolen trade.

The inhabitants of Bristol had manifested much loyalty to Edward, when, during the harvest-time of 1462, the young Yorkist king appeared within their walls, and executed Sir Baldwin Fulford and other Lancastrians. Since that event, celebrated by Chatterton as "The Bristowe Tragedy," well-nigh nine years had elapsed, and, during that time, their attention had been attracted from the Wars of the Roses to a war nearer home. It is probable that the contentions of York and Lancaster had excited less interest than the feud between the houses of Berkeley and Lisle; and that the field of Barnet had created less excitement than that of Nibley Green, where, one March morning in 1470, William Lord Berkeley and Thomas Talbot, Lord Lisle, fought that battle known as "The English Chevy Chase."

But, however loyal the citizens of Bristol might be to Edward of York, they knew that Margaret of Anjou was not a woman to be trifled with; and,[Pg 306] however little they might relish the spectacle of Lancastrian warriors crowding their streets, they were ready enough to furnish the Red Rose chiefs with money, provisions, and artillery. After receiving these supplies, the Lancastrian queen, anxious to cross the Severn, relieved Bristol of her presence on the 2d of May—it was a Thursday—and led her army toward that valley which, of old, had been depicted by William of Malmesbury as rich in fruit and corn, and abounding in vineyards.

The king's pursuit of his enemies had, in the mean time, been at once absorbing as a game of chess and exciting as a fox-hunt. For a time, he was unable to comprehend their movements, and forced to act with extreme caution. Indeed, Edward was not unaware that the Lancastrian leaders were exercising their utmost energy to outwit him; and he knew full well that one false step on his part would, in all likelihood, decide the campaign in their favor. At length, becoming aware that they were spreading rumors of their intention to advance to London by Oxford and Reading, the king concluded that their real intention was to march northward; and, leading his army forth from Windsor, he encamped at Abingdon, a town of Berkshire, on the River Thames. Learning, at Abingdon, that Margaret and her captains were still at Wells, he moved a little northward to Cirencester, in Gloucestershire,[Pg 307] and was then informed that the Lancastrians were about to leave Bath and give him battle on the 1st of May—the anniversary of his ill-judged and ill-starred marriage.

Eager for a conflict, the king marched his army out of the town of Cirencester, and, encamping in the neighboring fields, awaited the arrival of his foes. Edward soon found, however, that he had been deceived; and, in hopes of finding them, marched to Malmesbury, in Wiltshire. Learning, at that town, that the Lancastrians had turned aside to Bristol, he went to Sodbury, a place about ten miles distant from the emporium of the west: and, at Sodbury, from the circumstances of his men, while riding into the town to secure quarters, encountering a body of the enemy's outriders, and the Lancastrians having sent forward men to take their ground on Sodbury Hill, he believed that their army was at no great distance. Eager for intelligence, Edward sent light horsemen to scour the country, and encamped on Sodbury Hill. About midnight on Thursday, scouts came into the camp, and Edward's suspense was terminated. It appeared beyond doubt that the Lancastrians were on full march from Bristol to Gloucester; and the king, awake to the crisis, lost no time in holding a council of war. A decision was rapidly arrived at; and a messenger dispatched post-haste to Richard, Lord Beauchamp of Powicke,[Pg 308] then Governor of Gloucester, with instructions to refuse the Lancastrians admittance and a promise to relieve the city forthwith in case of its being assailed.

Events now hastened rapidly onward. The king's messenger had no time to lose; for the Lancastrian army, having marched all night, was pushing on toward the vale of Gloucester. The vale, as the reader may be aware, is semicircular—the Severn forming the chord, the Cotswold Hills the arc; and Cheltenham, Gloucester, and Tewkesbury making a triangle with its area. Into the second of these towns Margaret expected to be admitted; and she calculated on being enabled, under the protection of its walls and castle, to pass the Severn without interruption, and to form a junction with Jasper Tudor, who was all bustle and enthusiasm in Wales.

A grievous disappointment awaited the Lancastrian army—a bitter mortification the Lancastrian queen. On Friday morning, a few hours after sunrise, Margaret of Anjou, with the warriors of the Red Rose, appeared before Gloucester. But Beauchamp, having received Edward's message, positively refused to open the gates; and when Margaret, with a heavy heart, turned aside and proceeded toward Tewkesbury, he still farther displayed his Yorkist zeal by hanging on the rear of the Lancastrians and doing them all the mischief he could.[Pg 309] Even Somerset must have confessed that the aspect of affairs was now the reverse of bright; and, after leaving Gloucester behind, every thing began to go wrong. The march lay through woods and lanes, and over stony ground; and the soldiers, hungry and foot-sore, were oppressed with the heat of the weather. Moreover, the peasantry, inclined, for some reason or other, to oppose the progress of the Lancastrians, secured the fords by which the Severn might have been crossed; and Beauchamp not only harassed the rear of the queen's army, but succeeded in capturing some artillery, which she was in no condition to spare. At length, on Friday afternoon, after having marched thirty-six miles, without rest, and almost without food, the Lancastrians, weary and dispirited, reached Tewkesbury, a little town standing on the left bank of the Severn, and deriving some dignity from a Norman abbey, known far and wide as the sepulchre of a mighty race of barons, whose chiefs fought at Evesham and fell at Bannockburn. At this place, which had been inherited from the De Clares, through Beauchamps and Despensers, by the Countess of Warwick, the Lancastrian leaders halted to refresh their men.

Early on that morning, when the queen and her captains appeared before Gloucester, Edward left Sodbury, and led his army over the Cotswolds, whose sheep and shepherds old Drayton has celebrated.[Pg 310] His soldiers suffered much from heat, and still more for want of water; only meeting, on their way, with one brook, the water of which, as men and horses dashed in, was soon rendered unfit for use. Onward, however, in spite of heat and thirst, as if prescient of victory, pressed Edward's soldiers, sometimes within five miles of their enemies—the Yorkists in a champaign country, and the Lancastrians among woods—but the chiefs of both armies directing their march toward the same point. At length, after having marched more than thirty miles, the Yorkists reached a little village situated on the River Chelt, secluded in the vale of Gloucester, and consisting of a few thatched cottages forming a straggling street near a church with an ancient spire, which had been erected in honor of St. Mary before the Plantagenets came to rule in England. At this hamlet, which the saline springs, discovered some centuries later by the flight of pigeons, have metamorphosed into a beautiful and luxurious city, Edward halted to recruit the energies and refresh the spirits of his followers. At Cheltenham the king received intelligence that the foe was at Tewkesbury; and, marching in that direction, he encamped for the night in a field hard by the Lancastrian camp.

Ere the king reached Cheltenham the Lancastrians had formed their plans. On arriving at Tewkesbury,[Pg 311] Somerset, aware that the Yorkists were fast approaching, intimated his intention to remain and give Edward battle. Margaret, as if with the presentiment of a tragic catastrophe, was all anxiety to cross the Severn; and many of the captains sympathized with their queen's wish. Somerset, however, carried his point; and, indeed, it is not easy to comprehend how the Lancastrians could, under the circumstances, have attempted a passage without exposing their rear to certain destruction. Somerset's opinion on any subject may not have been worth much; but he does not appear to have been in the wrong when he decided on encamping at Tewkesbury, and when he declared his intention there to abide such fortune as God should send.

So at Tewkesbury, through that summer night, within a short distance of each other, the armies of York and Lancaster, under the sons of those who, years before, had plucked the roses in the Temple Garden, and encountered with mortal hatred in the streets of St. Albans, animated moreover by such vindictive feelings as the memory of friends and kinsmen slain in the field and executed on the scaffold could not fail to inspire, awaited the light of another day, to fight their twelfth battle for the crown of England.


[Pg 312]

CHAPTER XXXI.

THE FIELD OF TEWKESBURY.

On Saturday the 4th of May, 1471, ere the bell of Tewkesbury Abbey tolled "the sweet hour of prime," or the monks had assembled to sing the morning hymn, King Edward was astir and making ready to attack the Lancastrians.

Mounted on a brown charger, with his magnificent person clad in Milan steel, a crown of ornament around his helmet, and the arms of France and England quarterly on his shield, the king set his men in order for the assault. The van of the Yorkist army was committed to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, whose skill and courage on the field of Barnet had made him, at nineteen, the hero among those of whom, at thirty, he was to be the headsman. The centre host Edward commanded in person; and by the side of the royal warrior figured the ill-starred Clarence, never again to be fully trusted by his brother. The rear was intrusted to the guidance of Lord Hastings, and to Elizabeth Woodville's eldest son, Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset. Thus arrayed, flushed with recent victory over mighty adversaries, the Yorkist warriors, in all[Pg 313] the pride of valor, and all the confidence of victory, prepared to advance upon their foes.

Meanwhile, the Red Rose chiefs were not idle. Having encamped south of the town of Tewkesbury, on some rising ground, part of which is still known as "Queen Margaret's Camp," the Lancastrians appear to have made the most of their advantages. Defended as they were in their rear by the Abbey, and in front and on both sides by hedges, lanes, and ditches, they intrenched their position strongly, in the hope of keeping Edward at bay till the arrival of Jasper Tudor, who was believed to be rapidly approaching; and, at the same time, they left openings in their intrenchments, through which, should such a course seem expedient, they might sally forth upon the assailing foe.

Their camp thus fortified, the Lancastrian leaders disposed the army of the Red Rose in three divisions. Of the first of these Somerset, aided by his brother, John Beaufort, took the command; the second was committed to the auspices of Edward, Prince of Wales, the Prior of St. John, and Lord Wenlock, who, having shared the Lancastrian defeat at St. Albans and the Yorkist triumph at Towton, had once more, in an evil hour, placed Queen Margaret's badge on his gorget; and the third was confided to the Earl of Devon, the youngest of three brothers, two of whom, after wearing the coronet of[Pg 314] the Courtenays, had died on the scaffold for their fidelity to the Red Rose.

While the Lancastrians were forming their line of battle, King Edward gave the order to advance; and, with banners displayed, with clarions and trumpets sounding a march, and with Gloucester leading the van, and perhaps even then dreaming of a crown, the Yorkist army moved forward, gay with knights and nobles in rich armor and broidered vests, their lances gleaming in the merry sunshine, their plumes and pennons dancing in the morning breeze, and their mailed steeds, with chaffrons of steel projecting from barbed frontals, caracoling at the touch of the spur. Within a mile of the Lancastrian camp Edward halted his men; and his large blue eye, which took in the whole position of his enemies, wandered jealously to the park of Tewkesbury, which was situated to the right of Somerset's division. Suspicious of an ambuscade, the Yorkist king dispatched two hundred spearmen from his army to proceed in that direction, and ordered them, in case of their not finding any foe lurking in the wood, to take such part in the battle as circumstances should render expedient. Having satisfied himself with this precaution, the king ordered his banners to advance, and his trumpets to sound an onset.

When the hour of conflict drew nigh, Margaret[Pg 315] of Anjou, accompanied by the heir of Lancaster, rode along the lines and addressed the adherents of the Red Rose. Never, perhaps, had the daughter of King René looked more queenly than on the field of Tewkesbury; never had she enacted her part with more art than she did on the eve of that catastrophe which was to plunge her to the depths of despair. Though sick at heart, and more than doubtful as to the issue of the field, she assumed the aspect of perfect confidence, and spoke as if inspired with the hope of victory. Years of trouble had, of course, destroyed those exquisite charms which in youth had made Margaret famous as the beauty of Christendom, but had not deprived her of the power of subduing men to her purposes, even against their better judgment. Though her countenance bore traces of the wear and tear of anxious days and sleepless nights, her presence exercised on the partisans of the house of Lancaster an influence not less potent than it had done in days when she possessed a beauty that dazzled all eyes and fascinated all hearts.

Nor did the heir of Lancaster appear, by any means, unworthy of such a mother, as, armed complete in mail, he accompanied her along the lines, his standard borne by John Gower. Imagine the boy-warrior, gifted as he was with all the graces of rank and royalty, frankness and chivalry; his eye[Pg 316] sparkling with the pride and valor of the Plantagenets; the arms of France and England blazoned on his shield, his tabard, and the caparisons of his horse, and it will not be difficult to conceive the influence which, in spite of his foreign accent, such a grandson of the conqueror of Agincourt, uttering sentiments worthy of the pupil of Fortescue in language worthy of the son of Margaret of Anjou, exercised on the Lancastrian host when about to encounter the partisans of the White Rose.

Margaret of Anjou was not unaware of the effect produced by the fair face and graceful figure of the Prince of Wales. Glancing, with maternal pride, at the royal boy, who rode at her right hand, she reined in her palfrey, and, having with a gesture obtained an audience, she encouraged her partisans, in a voice promising victory, to do their duty valiantly against Edward of York and prove their courage on the crests of the usurper's adherents. "It remained for them, the soldiers of the Red Rose," said the queen, in accents which quickened the pulse and nerved the arm of the listeners, "to restore an imprisoned king to liberty and his throne, and to secure for themselves, not only safety, but distinctions and rewards. Did the inequalities of number daunt them? She could not doubt that their stout hearts, animated by the justice of their cause, would enable them to overcome in spite of disparity. Did they[Pg 317] lack motives to be valiant against the foe? Let them look upon the Prince of Wales, and fight for him, their fellow-soldier, who was now to share their fortune on the field; and who, once in possession of his rights, would not forget those to whose courage he owed the throne. The kingdom of England should be their inheritance, to be divided among them; the wealth of the rebellious cities should be their spoil; they should be rewarded for their devotion with all those titles which their enemies now proudly wore; and, above all, they should enjoy lasting fame and honor throughout the realm."

An enthusiastic response arose from the ranks of the Lancastrians as their heroic queen concluded her spirit-stirring address; and the warriors of the Red Rose indicated, by signs not to be mistaken, their alacrity to fight to the death for the rights of such a mother and such a son. Perhaps, at that moment, Margaret, infected with the excitement which her own eloquence had created, almost persuaded herself to hope. No hour was that, however, to indulge in day-dreams. Ere the enthusiasm of the Lancastrians had time to die away, Richard of Gloucester had advanced his banner to their camp, and the troops under the young duke were storming the intrenchments.

Gloucester, as leader of the Yorkist van, found himself opposed to the Lancastrians whom Somerset[Pg 318] commanded in person; and, the ferocity of his nature being doubtless inflamed by the hereditary antipathy of the house of York to the house of Beaufort, he made a furious assault. The onslaught of the stripling war-chief, however, proved of no avail; for the nature of the ground was such as to prevent the Yorkists from coming hand to hand with their foes, while the Lancastrians, posted among bushes and trees, galled their assailants with showers of arrows. Gloucester was somewhat cowed, but his guile did not desert him. He assumed the air of a man who was baffled, pretended to be repulsed, and, retiring from the assault, contented himself with ordering the artillery, with which the Yorkists were better provided than their foes, to play upon the Lancastrian ranks.

The aspect of the battle was now decidedly in favor of the Red Rose, and such as to cause the Yorkists some degree of anxiety. What the Lancastrians wanted was a war-chief of courage and experience, and Somerset neither had the talents nor the experience requisite for the occasion. At the head of that host on the banks of the Severn, such a man as the fifth Henry, or John, Duke of Bedford, might, by a decisive victory, have won back Margaret's crown. But the grandson of Katherine Swynford had not been intended by God and nature to cope with the royal warrior who laid Warwick low.

[Pg 319]

Somerset had still to learn his incapacity for the part he had undertaken to enact. As yet he was under the influence of such a degree of vanity as prompted him to the rashest courses. Elate at Gloucester's retreat, and concluding that a determined effort would render the Lancastrians victorious, the shallow duke led his men through the openings that had been left in their intrenchments. Descending from the elevated ground, he charged Edward's centre host with violence, drove that part of the Yorkist army back, and then, with infinitely less prudence than presumption, followed the wily Gloucester into the open meadows.

Once fairly away from his intrenchments, the Lancastrian leader found too late the error he had committed. Gloucester's stratagem had been attended with a success which even he could hardly have anticipated. Suddenly wheeling round and shouting their battle-cry, the boy-duke and the Yorkists turned upon their pursuers with the fury of lions; and, at the same time, the two hundred spearmen who had been sent to guard against an ambuscade in Tewkesbury Park came rushing to the conflict, and made a vigorous attack upon Somerset's flank. Taken by surprise, the Lancastrian van fled in disorder. Some made for the park; some ran toward the meadows; others flung themselves into the ditches; and so many were beaten[Pg 320] down and slain where they fought, that the greensward was crimsoned with gore.

Gloucester did not pause in the work of destruction. After cheering on his men to the carnage, he pursued Somerset up the hill, availed himself of the Lancastrians' confusion to force his way through their intrenchments, and carried into their camp that terror with which his grisly cognizance seldom failed to inspire his enemies.

The plight of the Lancastrians now became desperate. Somerset, having lost his followers, lost his temper, and with it every chance of victory. Indeed, the duke appears to have acted the part of a madman. On reaching the camp, flushed and furious, he looked around for a victim to sacrifice to his rage, and made a selection which was singularly unfortunate for the Lancastrians. Lord Wenlock, it seems, had not left the camp to support Somerset's charge; and the duke, bearing in mind how recently that nobleman had been converted from the Yorkist cause, rushed to the conclusion that he was playing false. A fearful scene was the result. Riding to the centre division of the Lancastrians, the exasperated Beaufort reviled Lord Wenlock in language too coarse to have been recorded, and, after denouncing the aged warrior as traitor and coward, cleft his skull with a battle-axe.

No incident could have been more unfavorable to[Pg 321] the fortunes of the Red Rose than Wenlock's fall by the hand of Somerset. A panic immediately seized the Lancastrians; and, ere they could recover from their confusion, King Edward perceived his advantage, cheered his men to the onslaught, spurred over hedge and ditch, and dashed, on his brown charger, fiercely into the intrenched camp. Irresistible we can well imagine the onset of that horse and that rider to have been—the strong war-steed, with his frontal of steel, making a way through the enemy's disordered ranks, and the tall warrior dispersing all around with the sweep of his terrible sword. Vain was then the presence of the Prince of Wales, gallant as the bearing of the royal boy doubtless was. Indeed, all the princes of John of Gaunt's lineage could not now have turned the tide of fight. After a faint struggle, the Lancastrians recoiled in consternation; and, throwing down their arms, fled before Edward and his knights as deer before the hunters. The rout was rapid and complete. The field presented a fearful scene of panic, confusion, and slaughter. Some of the vanquished ran for refuge into Tewkesbury; others betook themselves for safety to the abbey church; and many, hotly pursued and scarcely knowing whither they went, were drowned "at a mill in the meadow fast by the town."

Somerset, on seeing the ruin his rashness had[Pg 322] brought on his friends, fled from the scene of carnage. The duke ought not, perhaps, to have avoided the destruction to which he had allured so many brave men. The chief of the Beauforts, however, had no ambition to die like the great earl whom he had deserted at Barnet, nor to fall on the field to which he had challenged his hereditary foe. It is wonderful, indeed, that a man who had known little of life save its miseries should have cared to survive such a defeat; but Somerset, whatever his other qualities, had none of that spirit which, at Bannockburn, prompted Argentine to exclaim, "'Tis not my wont to fly!" At Hexham and at Barnet, Somerset's principal exploits had consisted of availing himself of the speed of his horse to escape the foe; and at Tewkesbury he rushed cravenly from the field, on which, a few hours earlier, he had boastfully declared that he would abide such fortune as God should send. The Prior of St. John, Sir Gervase Clifton, Sir Thomas Tresham, and a number of knights and esquires likewise sought safety in flight.

The Prince of Wales had hitherto fought with courage; and there is some reason to believe that he fell fighting manfully on the field where so much blood was shed to vindicate his claims to the crown of England. Poets, novelists, and historians have, however, told a different tale, and produced an impression that, when the heir of Lancaster found himself[Pg 323] abandoned by Somerset, and perceived the fortune of the day decidedly adverse to the Red Rose, he followed the multitude, who, shrinking from the charge of Edward on his berry-brown steed, and of Gloucester with his boar's-head crest, fled confusedly toward the town.

But, however that may have been, all the warriors of the Red Rose did not fly. Destruction, indeed, awaited every man who stood his ground; but even the certainty of death can not daunt those who are inspired by honor. Knights and nobles, after fighting with courage, fell with disdainful pride, and hundreds upon hundreds of the Lancastrians of inferior rank lost their lives in the cause for which, at the summons of their chiefs, they had taken up arms. There fell the Earl of Devon; and John Beaufort, the brother of Somerset, and, save the duke, the last male heir of the house of Beaufort; and Sir John Delves, the chief of a family long settled at Doddington, in the County Palatine of Chester; and Sir William Fielding, whose descendants, in the time of the Stuarts, became Earls of Denbigh; and Sir Edmund Hampden, one of that ancient race which had flourished in the eleventh century, and which, in the sixteenth, produced the renowned leader of the Long Parliament.

At length, when three thousand Lancastrians had perished on the field of Tewkesbury, the resistance[Pg 324] and carnage came to an end; and Edward, having knighted Warwick's cousin, George Neville, the heir of Lord Abergavenny, sheathed his bloody sword, and Gloucester laid aside his lance; and the king and the duke rode to the abbey church to render thanks to God for giving them another victory over their enemies.


[Pg 325]

CHAPTER XXXII.

THE VICTOR AND THE VANQUISHED.

While Edward of York was smiting down his foes on the field of Tewkesbury, and the blood of the Lancastrians was flowing like water, a chariot, guided by attendants whose looks indicated alarm and dread, might have been observed to leave the scene of carnage, and pass hurriedly through the gates of the park. In this chariot was a lady, who appeared almost unconscious of what was passing, though it had not been her wont to faint in hours of difficulty and danger. The lady was Margaret of Anjou, but with a countenance no longer expressing those fierce and terrible emotions which, after Northampton, and Towton, and Hexham, had urged her to heroic ventures in order to regain for her husband the crown which her son had been born to inherit. Pale, ghastly, and rigid—more like that of a corpse than of a being breathing the breath of life—was now that face, in which the friends of the Lancastrian queen had in such seasons often read, as in a book, resolutions of stern vengeance to be executed on her foes.

Fortune, indeed, had at length subdued the high[Pg 326] spirit of Margaret of Anjou, and she made no effort to resist her fate. When witnessing the battle, and becoming aware that her worst anticipations were being realized, the unfortunate queen appeared reckless of life, and abandoned herself to despair. Alarmed, however, at the dangers which menaced the vanquished, Margaret's attendants placed their royal mistress in a chariot, conveyed her hastily from the field, and made their way to a small religious house situated near the left bank of the silver Severn: there she found the Princess of Wales and several Lancastrian ladies, who had followed the fortunes of the Red Rose and shared the perils of their kinsmen. No need to announce to them that all was lost. Even if the disastrous intelligence had not preceded her arrival, they would have read in Margaret's pale face and corpse-like aspect the ruin of her hopes and of their own.

The religious house in which the queen found a temporary resting-place was not one which could save her from the grasp of the conquering foe. But so sudden had been the rout of one party, and so signal the victory of the other, that the vanquished had no time to think of escaping to a distance. The abbey church was the point toward which most of the fugitives directed their course, and within the walls of that edifice Somerset, the Prior of St. John, Sir Henry de Roos, Sir Gervase Clifton, Sir[Pg 327] Thomas Tresham, many knights and esquires, and a crowd of humble adherents of the Red Rose, sought refuge from the sword of the conquerors. Unhappily for the Lancastrians, the church did not possess the privilege of protecting rebels, and Edward was in no humor to spare men who had shown themselves his bitter foes. Without scruple, the victor-king, on finding they had taken refuge in the abbey, attempted to enter, sword in hand; but at this point he found himself face to face with a power before which kings had often trembled. At the porch, a priest, bearing the host, interposed between the conqueror and his destined victims, and protested, in names which even Edward durst not disregard, against the sacred precincts being made the scene of bloodshed. Baffled of his prey, Edward turned his thoughts to the heir of Lancaster, and issued a proclamation, promising a reward to any who should produce the prince, dead or alive, and stating that in such a case the life of the royal boy would be spared.

Among the warriors who fought at Tewkesbury was Sir Richard Croft, a Marchman of Wales. This knight was husband of a kinswoman of the Yorkist princes, and had figured as Governor of Ludlow when Edward, then Earl of March, was residing during boyhood in that castle with his brother, the ill-fated Rutland. Passing, after the[Pg 328] battle of Tewkesbury, between the town and the field, Croft encountered a youthful warrior, whose elegance arrested his attention, and whose manner was like that of one strange to the place. On being accosted, the youth, in an accent which revealed a foreign education, acknowledged that he was the heir of Lancaster; and, on being assured that his life was in no hazard, he consented to accompany the stalwart Marchman to the king.

Toward the market-place, a triangular space where met the three streets that gave to Tewkesbury the form of the letter Y, Croft conducted his interesting captive. Tewkesbury has little changed since that time; but the old Town Hall, which then stood in the market-place, has disappeared. It was to a house in the neighborhood of this building, however, that the king had repaired after the battle, and there, surrounded by Clarence and Gloucester, Hastings and Dorset, the captains who had led his host to victory, sat Edward of York when Edward of Lancaster was brought into his presence.

[Pg 329] THE VICTOR AND THE VANQUISHED.
[Pg 330]THE VICTOR AND THE VANQUISHED.

The king had that morning gained a victory which put his enemies under his feet, and had since, perhaps, washed down his cravings for revenge with draughts of that cup to which he was certainly too much addicted. It is not difficult to believe those historians who tell that, under such[Pg 331] circumstances, satiated with carnage, and anxious for peace and repose, he was in a frame of mind the reverse of unfavorable to his captive, nor even to credit an assertion that the wish of Edward of York was to treat the heir of the fifth Henry as that king had treated the last chief of the house of Mortimer, to convert the prince from a dangerous rival into a sure friend, and to secure his gratitude by bestowing upon him the Duchy of Lancaster and the splendid possessions of John of Gaunt. To the vanquished prince, therefore, the victor-king "at first showed no uncourteous countenance." A minute's conversation, however, dissipated the king's benevolent intentions, and sealed the brave prince's fate.

"What brought you to England," asked Edward, "and how durst you enter into this our realm with banner displayed?"

"To recover my father's rights," fearlessly answered the heir of Lancaster; and then asked, "How darest thou, who art his subject, so presumptuously display thy colors against thy liege lord?"

At this reply, which evinced so little of that discretion which is the better part of valor, Edward's blood boiled; and, burning with indignation, he savagely struck the unarmed prince in the mouth with his gauntlet. Clarence and Gloucester are said to[Pg 332] have then rushed upon him with their swords, and the king's servants to have drawn him into another room and completed the murder. In the house where, according to tradition, this cruel deed was perpetrated, marks of blood were long visible on the oaken floor; and these dark stains were pointed out as memorials of the cruel murder of the fifth Henry's grandson, by turns the hope, the hero, and the victim of the Lancastrian cause.

Having imbrued his hands in the blood of the only rival whom he could deem formidable, and too fearfully avenged the murder of Rutland, Edward appears to have steeled his heart to feelings of mercy, and to have determined on throwing aside all scruples in dealing with his foes. It was only decent, however, to allow Sunday to elapse ere proceeding with the work of vengeance. That day of devotion and rest over, the Lancastrians were forcibly taken from the church. Those of meaner rank were pardoned; but Somerset, the Prior of St. John, Sir Henry de Roos, Sir Gervase Clifton, Sir Thomas Tresham, John Gower, and the other knights and esquires, were brought to trial. Gloucester and John Mowbray, the last of the great Dukes of Norfolk, presided, one as Constable of England, the other as Earl-marshal; and the trial being, of course, a mere form, the captives were condemned to be beheaded.

[Pg 333]

On Tuesday, while the scaffold was being erected in the market-place of Tewkesbury for the execution of those who had risked all in her cause, Margaret of Anjou was discovered in the religious house to which she had been conveyed from the field on which her last hopes were wrecked. The Lancastrian queen was brought to Edward by Sir William Stanley, still zealous on the Yorkist side, and little dreaming of the part he was to take at Bosworth in rendering the Red Rose finally triumphant. Margaret's life was spared; but her high spirit was gone, and, on being informed of her son's death, the unfortunate princess only gave utterance to words of lamentation and woe. Now that he around whom all her hopes had clustered was no more, what could life be to her? what the rival Roses? what the contentions of York and Lancaster? Her ambition was buried in the grave of her son, who had been her consolation and her hope.

Sir John Fortescue was among the Lancastrians whom the victory of Tewkesbury placed in Edward's power; and the great lawyer was in some danger of having to seal with his blood his devotion to the Red Rose. Fortescue, however, had no longings for a crown of martyrdom; and Edward, luckily for his memory, perceived that the house of York would lose nothing by sparing a foe so venerable and so learned. It happened that, when in Scotland,[Pg 334] Fortescue had produced a treatise vindicating the claims of the house of Lancaster to the English crown, and the king consented to pardon the ex-chief-justice if he would write a similar treatise in favor of the claims of the line of York. The condition was hard; but that was an age when, to borrow old Fuller's phrase, it was present drowning not to swim with the stream; and Fortescue, consenting to the terms, applied himself to the arduous task. The difficulty was not insuperable. In his argument for Lancaster he had relied much on the fact of Philippa of Clarence having never been acknowledged by her father. In his argument for York he showed that Philippa's legitimacy had been proved beyond all dispute. On the production of the treatise his pardon was granted; and the venerable judge retired to spend the remainder of his days at Ebrington, an estate which he possessed in Gloucestershire.

About the time that Fortescue received a pardon, John Morton, who, like the great lawyer, had fought on Towton Field, and since followed the ruined fortunes of Lancaster, expressed his readiness to make peace with the Yorkist king. In this case no difficulty was interposed. Edward perceived that the learning and intellect of the "late parson of Blokesworth" might be of great service to the government. Morton's attainder was therefore reversed at the[Pg 335] earliest possible period, and he soon after became Bishop of Ely.

Meanwhile, on the scaffold erected in the market-place of Tewkesbury, the Lancastrians were beheaded, the Prior of St. John appearing on the mournful occasion in the long black robe and white cross of his order. No quartering nor dismembering of the bodies, however, was practiced, nor were the heads of the vanquished set up in public places, as after Wakefield and Towton. The bodies of those who died, whether on the field or the scaffold, were handed over to their friends or servants, who interred them where seemed best. Most of them, including those of the Prince of Wales, Devon, Somerset, and John Beaufort, were laid in the abbey church; but the corpse of Wenlock was removed elsewhere, probably to be buried in the Wenlock Chapel, which he had built at Luton; and that of the prior was consigned to the care of the great fraternity of religious knights at Clerkenwell, of which he had been the head.

After wreaking his vengeance upon the conquered, Edward moved northward to complete his triumph, and forgot for a while the blood he had shed. Years after, however, when laid on his death-bed, the memory of those executions appears to have lain heavy upon his conscience, and he mournfully expressed the regret which they caused[Pg 336] him. "Such things, if I had foreseen," said he, "as I have with more pain than pleasure proved, by God's Blessed Lady I would never have won the courtesy of men's knees with the loss of so many heads."


[Pg 337]

CHAPTER XXXIII.

WARWICK'S VICE-ADMIRAL.

One day in May, 1471, while Edward of York was at Tewkesbury, while Henry of Windsor was a captive in the Tower, and while Elizabeth Woodville and her family were also lodged for security in the metropolitan fortress—thus at once serving the purposes of a prison and a palace—a sudden commotion took place in the capital of England, and consternation appeared on the face of every citizen. The alarm was by no means causeless, for never had the wealth of London looked so pale since threatened by the Lancastrian army after the battle on Bernard's Heath.

Among the English patricians who, at the beginning of the struggle between York and Lancaster, attached themselves to the fortunes of the White Rose, was William Neville, son of Ralph, Earl of Westmoreland, brother of Cicely, Duchess of York, and uncle of Richard, Earl of Warwick. This Yorkist warrior derived from the heiress whom he had married the lordship of Falconbridge; and, after leading the van at Towton, he was rewarded by Edward with the earldom of Kent. Dying soon[Pg 338] after, he was laid at rest, with obsequies befitting his rank, in the Priory of Gisborough, and his lands were inherited by his three daughters, one of whom was the wife of Sir John Conyers.

The Earl of Kent left no legitimate son to inherit his honors; but he left an illegitimate son, named Thomas Neville, and known, after the fashion of the age, as "The Bastard of Falconbridge." The misfortune of Falconbridge's birth, of course, prevented him from becoming his father's heir; but, being "a man of turbulent spirit and formed for action," he had no idea of passing his life in obscurity. His relationship to Warwick was not distant; and "The Stout Earl," duly appreciating the courage and vigor of his illegitimate kinsman, nominated him vice-admiral, and appointed him to prevent Edward receiving any aid from the Continent.

While Warwick lived, Falconbridge appears to have executed his commission on the narrow seas with fidelity and decorum. But when Barnet had been fought, and the vice-admiral had no longer the fear of the king-maker before his eyes, the narrow seas saw another sight. Throwing off all restraint, he took openly to piracy, and, joined by some malcontents from Calais, went so desperately to work, that in a marvelously short space of time he made his name terrible to skippers and traders. Falconbridge was not, however, content with this kind of[Pg 339] fame. He had always believed himself destined to perform some mighty achievement, and he now found his soul swelling with an irresistible ambition to attempt the restoration of Lancaster. The peril attending such an exploit might, indeed, have daunted the boldest spirit; but the courage of the Bastard was superlative, and his audacity was equal to his courage.

The enterprise of Falconbridge was not at first so utterly desperate as subsequent events made it appear. The Lancastrians were not yet quite subdued. Oxford was still free and unsubdued; Pembroke was in arms on the marches of Wales; and the men of the north, on whom Edward's hand had been so heavy, were arming to take revenge on their tyrant, and liberate from his grasp the woman who, with her smiles and tears, had in other days tempted them to do battle in her behalf. If, under these circumstances, Falconbridge could take Henry out of prison, proclaim the monk-monarch once more in London, and send northward the news of a Lancastrian army being in possession of the capital, he might change the destiny of England, and enroll his own name in the annals of fame.

No time was lost in maturing the project. Landing at Sandwich, Falconbridge was admitted into Canterbury, and prepared to march upon the metropolis. His adventure soon began to wear a hopeful[Pg 340] aspect. Indeed, his success was miraculous; for, as he made his way through Kent, the army, which originally consisted of the desperadoes of the Cinque Ports and the riff-raff of Calais, swelled till it numbered some seventeen thousand men. Posting this formidable host on the Surrey side of the Thames, and, at the same time, causing his ships to secure the river above St. Katherine's, Falconbridge demanded access to the city, that he might take Henry out of the Tower, and then pass onward to encounter the usurper.

The mayor and aldermen, however, sorely perplexed, determined to stand by the house of York, and sent post-haste to inform the king that London was menaced by land and water, and to implore him to hasten to the relief of his faithful city. Edward, who, to awe the northern insurgents, had proceeded as far as Coventry, forthwith sent fifteen hundred men to the capital; and, on meeting the Earl of Northumberland, who came to assure him of the peace of the north, the king turned his face southward, and hurried toward London.

Meanwhile the patience of Falconbridge had given way. Enraged at the refusal of the Londoners to admit his army, and anxious to gratify the appetite of his followers for plunder, the Bastard expressed his intention of passing the Thames with his army at Kingston, destroying Westminster, and then taking[Pg 341] revenge on the citizens of London for keeping him without their gates. Finding, however, that the wooden bridge at Kingston was broken down, and all the places of passage guarded, he drew his forces into St. George's Fields, and from that point prepared to carry London by assault.

His plan thus formed, Falconbridge commenced operations with characteristic energy. After carrying his ordnance from the ships, he planted guns and stationed archers along the banks of the Thames. At first considerable execution was done. Many houses were battered down by the ordnance, and London experienced much inconvenience from the flight of arrows; but the citizens soon showed that this was a game at which two parties could play. Having brought their artillery to the river-side, and planted it over against that of their assailants, they returned the fire with an effect so galling, that the adherents of the vice-admiral found their position intolerable, and retreated in confusion from their guns.

Falconbridge was not the man to despair early of the enterprise upon which he had ventured. Seeing his men fall back in dismay, he resolved on prosecuting the assault in a more direct way, and on going closely to work with his antagonists. He resolved, moreover, on making a great attempt at London Bridge, and, at the same time, ordered his lieutenants—Spicing[Pg 342] and Quintine—to embark three thousand men, pass the Thames in ships, and force Aldgate and Bishopgate. The desperadoes, crossing the river, acted in obedience to their leader's orders, and London was at once assailed suddenly at three separate points. But the Londoners continued obstinate. Encouraged by the news of Edward's victory, and incited to valor by the example of Robert Basset and Ralph Jocelyne, aldermen of the city, they faced the peril with fortitude, and offered so desperate a defense, that seven hundred of the assailants were slain. Repulsed on all points, and despairing of success, the Bastard was fain to beat a retreat.

Baffled in his efforts to take the capital by storm, Falconbridge led his adherents into Kent, and encamped on Blackheath. His prospects were not now encouraging; and for three days he remained in his camp without any new exploits. At the end of that time he learned that Edward was approaching, and doubtless felt that the idea of trying conclusions at the head of a mob with the army that had conquered at Barnet and Tewkesbury was not to be entertained. The undisciplined champions of the Red Rose, indeed, dispersed at the news of Edward's coming, as pigeons do at the approach of a hawk; and their adventurous leader, having taken to his ships, that lay at Blackwall, sailed for Sandwich.

[Pg 343]

On Tuesday, the 21st of May, seventeen days after Tewkesbury, Edward of York, at the head of thirty thousand men, entered London as a conqueror, and in his train to the capital came Margaret of Anjou as a captive. The broken-hearted queen found herself committed to the Tower, and condemned as a prisoner of state to brood, without hope and without consolation, over irreparable misfortunes and intolerable woes.

On Wednesday morning—it was that of Ascension Day—the citizens of London, who some hours earlier had been thanked for their loyalty to Edward of York, were informed that Henry of Lancaster had been found dead in the Tower, and soon after the corpse was borne bare-faced, on a bier, through Cheapside to St. Paul's, and there exposed to the public view. Notwithstanding this ceremony, rumors were current that the dethroned king had met with foul play. People naturally supposed that Falconbridge's attempt to release Henry precipitated this sad event; and they did not fail to notice that on the morning when the body was conveyed to St. Paul's the king and Richard of Gloucester left London.[13]

[Pg 344]

A resting-place beside his hero-sire, in the Chapel of St. Edward, might have been allowed to the only king since the Conquest who had emulated the Confessor's sanctity. But another edifice than the Abbey of Westminster was selected as the place of sepulture; and, on the evening of Ascension Day, the corpse, having been placed in a barge guarded by soldiers from Calais, was conveyed up the Thames, and, during the silence of midnight, committed to the dust in the Monastery of Chertsey. It was not at Chertsey, however, that the saintly king was to rest. When years had passed over, and Richard had ascended the throne, the mortal remains of Henry were removed from Chertsey to Windsor, and interred with much pomp in the south side of the choir in St. George's Chapel, there to rest, it was hoped, till that great day, for the coming of which he had religiously prepared by the devotion of a life.

After consigning Margaret to the Tower and Henry to the tomb, Edward led his army from London, marched to Canterbury, and prepared to inflict severe punishment on Falconbridge. Meanwhile, as vice-admiral, Falconbridge had taken possession of Sandwich, where forty-seven ships obeyed his command. With this naval force, and the town fortified in such a way as to withstand a siege, the Bastard prepared for resistance; but, on learning[Pg 345] that the royal army had reached Canterbury, his heart began to fail, and he determined, if possible, to obtain a pardon. With this object, Falconbridge dispatched a messenger to Edward; and the king was, doubtless, glad enough to get so bold a rebel quietly into his power. At all events, he determined on deluding the turbulent vice-admiral with assurances of safety and promises of favor; and Gloucester was empowered to negotiate a treaty.

Matters at first went smoothly. The duke rode to Sandwich to assure his illegitimate cousin of the king's full forgiveness, and about the 26th of May Falconbridge made his submission, and promised to be a faithful subject. Edward then honored him with knighthood, and confirmed him in the post of vice-admiral. At the same time, the king granted a full pardon to the Bastard's adherents; and they, relying on the royal word, surrendered the town of Sandwich, with the castle, and the ships that lay in the port. "But how this composition was observed," says Baker, "may be imagined, when Falconbridge, who was comprised in the pardon, was afterward taken and executed at Southampton. Spicing and Quintine, the captains that assailed Aldgate and Bishopgate, and were in Sandwich Castle at the surrender thereof, were presently beheaded at Canterbury, and their heads placed on poles in the[Pg 346] gates; and, by a commission of Oyer and Terminer, many, both in Essex and Kent, were arraigned and condemned for this rebellion."

About Michaelmas, Falconbridge expiated his ill-fated ambition; and the citizens had the satisfaction, in autumn, of seeing his head exposed to warn malcontents to beware of Edward of York. "Thomas Falconbridge, his head," says Paston, "was yesterday set upon London Bridge, looking Kentward, and men say that his brother was sore hurt, and escaped to sanctuary to Beverley." So ended the ambitious attempt of Warwick's vice-admiral to play the part of king-maker.


[Pg 347]

CHAPTER XXXIV.

ESCAPE OF THE TUDORS.

When the spirit of the Lancastrians had been broken on the fields of Barnet and Tewkesbury, and the violent deaths—if such they were—of the monk-monarch and his gallant son had left the adherents of the Red Rose without a prince to rally round, the house of York seemed to be established forever.

That branch of the Plantagenets which owed its origin to John of Gaunt was not, indeed, without an heir. The King of Portugal, the grandson of Philippa, eldest daughter of John and Blanche of Lancaster, was the personage with whom that honor rested; but Alphonso, albeit a knight-errant in manhood's prime, not being yet turned of forty, and rich in gold brought from Guinea, was not so utterly indiscreet as to waste his energy and croisadoes on an enterprise in which Warwick, the flower of English patricians and the favorite of the English people, had so signally failed. Moreover, about this time, Alphonso was all anxiety to wed Joan, the youthful daughter of the last King of Castile, and make a Quixotic attempt, as husband of that princess, to wrest the Spanish crown from Ferdinand and Isabella.[Pg 348] Thus occupied with projects of love and war, the King of Portugal does not appear to have put forward any claims as heir of John of Gaunt, nor, perhaps, did the English nation ever seriously consider his claims.

The extinction of Henry of Bolingbroke's posterity left the Red Rose party without having at its head a king whose name might serve as a rallying cry. But the adherents of the Lancastrian cause, however dispirited, were not utterly subdued. They still cherished vague hopes, and pointed to chiefs of high name; for John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, and Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, still lived; and while these noblemen—the first so noble, the second so loyal, and the third so wary—were free, there was still a prospect of revenge on the usurper. The fact, however, was, that the Lancastrian lords were in a situation far from enviable, and might have been forgiven had they cherished no aspiration more lofty than that of getting safely away from the country, and beyond the reach of Edward's vengeance.

When intelligence reached Jasper Tudor that Margaret of Anjou and her captains had been totally routed, far from cherishing any such delusions as imposed upon the rude intellect of Falconbridge, he forthwith allowed his forces to disperse, and, making for the valley of the Wye, took refuge in the strong-hold of Chepstow.

[Pg 349]

Situated at the mouth of the most beautiful of English rivers, Chepstow is still an interesting ruin. At that time it was a magnificent castle, stretching along a precipitous cliff, consisting of four courts and a central building, and covering an area of three acres. To this fortress Jasper, in the day of perplexity, retired to reflect on the past and prepare for the future.

While at Chepstow Jasper had a narrow escape. Edward was naturally most anxious to destroy the Lancastrians as a party, and eager, therefore, to get so zealous an adherent of the Red Rose into his power. With a view of entrapping his old adversary, he employed Roger Vaughan, one of a clan who, like the Crofts, were ancient retainers of the house of Mortimer, to repair to Chepstow. The contest between the Celt and the Marchman was brief. Jasper was not to be outwitted. He penetrated the secret of Vaughan's mission, caused him to be seized, and, without formality, had his head struck off.

Having taken this strong measure, and thereby added to his danger in the event of capture, Jasper proceeded to Pembroke. At that town the outlawed earl was exposed to new dangers. Pursued to Pembroke by a Welsh warrior named Morgan ap Thomas, he was besieged in the town; but relief came from a quarter that could hardly have been[Pg 350] expected. David ap Thomas, who was Morgan's brother, but attached to the Red Rose, rushing to Jasper's assistance, succeeded in raising the siege, and the Welsh earl was freed for the time from pressing peril. But, having lost all feeling of security, and every hope of holding out against Edward, he committed the defense of Pembroke to Sir John Scudamore, took his brother's son Henry, the young Earl of Richmond, under his wing, embarked with the boy at Tenby, and once more as an outlaw and fugitive sailed for the Continent.

The intention of Jasper and his nephew was to seek protection at the court of Louis, and they steered their course toward the coast of France. But fortune proved unfavorable to this design. Forever the elements fought against the Lancastrians. Encountering contrary winds, the Tudors were driven on the coast of Brittany, and, being compelled to put into a port belonging to the duke, they could not avoid paying their respects to that magnate. The duke received them with courtesy, and treated them with hospitality, and so far all went pleasantly. But when the Tudors prepared to pursue their way to France they were given to understand that they were not at liberty to proceed.

The two earls were somewhat disconcerted on comprehending their actual position. They made the best of circumstances, however; and, indeed, all[Pg 351] things considered, had not much reason to complain. The town of Vannes was assigned them as a residence, and they were treated with the respect deemed due to their rank. Except being narrowly watched, their position was not uncomfortable.

Intelligence of the Tudors being at Vannes was not long confined to Brittany. The news soon reached both Paris and London; and while the French king claimed them as friends, the English king demanded them as rebels and traitors. The duke, however, firmly adhered to the resolution to keep them to himself; and Edward was fain to appear content, and pay a yearly sum for their support. The duke, on his part, gave assurances that they should have no opportunity of causing disturbance to the English government.

When a few years passed over, circumstances had rendered young Henry Tudor a more important personage, and Edward made a great effort to obtain their extradition. To accomplish this object, he sent an embassy to Brittany to invite Henry to England, promising him the hand of the Princess Elizabeth. The Duke of Brittany was induced to consent, and Henry repaired to St. Malo to embark. But Peter de Landois, the duke's chief minister, who at that time pretended a high regard for the Tudors, declared that Edward's offer was a snare, and pointed out the impolicy of crediting Edward's[Pg 352] profession of friendship. The duke was convinced; and Richmond's embarkation having been delayed by a fever, the result of anxiety, he returned to Vannes.

And at Vannes, as guest or captive of Brittany—he hardly knew which—Henry Tudor was destined to remain, till one day the Bishop of Ely and the Duke of Buckingham, conspiring in Brecknock Castle, nominated him—a man described by Comines as "without power, without money, without hereditary right, and without any reputation"—as a candidate for the proudest of European thrones.


[Pg 353]

CHAPTER XXXV.

ADVENTURES OF JOHN DE VERE.

One autumn day, about six months after the fall of Warwick and Montagu, a little fleet approached the coast of Cornwall, and anchored in the green waters of Mount's Bay. The monks and fighting men who tenanted the fortified monastery that crowned the summit of St. Michael's Mount might have deemed the appearance of the ships slightly suspicious; but the aspect and attire of those who landed from their decks forbade uncharitable surmises. Indeed, they were in the garb of pilgrims, and represented themselves as men of rank, who, at the suggestion of their confessors, had come from remote parts of the kingdom to perform vows, make orisons, and offer oblations at the shrine of St. Michael.

It was the last day of September—the festival of St. Keyne, a virgin princess of rare sanctity, who had, in the fifth century, for pious purposes, visited the Mount; and, on such an occasion, the monks were not likely to be in any very skeptical mood. Proud, in all probability, of their saint's reputation, and not doubting his power to inspire zeal, they[Pg 354] opened their gates and admitted the pilgrims. No sooner were they admitted, however, than the scene changed. Each man, throwing aside his pilgrim's habit, stood before the astonished monks a warrior in mail, with a dagger in his girdle, a sword by his side, and in his eye the determination to use those weapons in the event of resistance. At the head of this band was a man of thirty or thereabouts, who announced that he was John De Vere, Earl of Oxford, and that he had come to take possession of St. Michael's Mount in the name of Lancaster.

Between his escape from Barnet and his arrival at St. Michael's Mount the chief of the De Veres had passed through some remarkable adventures. When Oxford, bewildered by the consequences of his silver star being mistaken for Edward's sun, and thrown off his guard by the shouts of "Treason!" rode through the mist and fled from the field, he directed his course northward with the intention of seeking refuge in Scotland; but, after riding some distance, and taking time to reflect, the earl came to the conclusion that the journey was too long to be accomplished with safety, and, turning aside, he rode, in the company of Lord Beaumont, toward the Welsh Marches, with the hope of joining Jasper Tudor. Whether or not he reached Wales is not quite clear; but it appears from a letter written in April to his countess, Warwick's sister, that, after Queen Margaret[Pg 355] had landed and her friends had resolved on another campaign, Oxford recovered the spirit he had displayed at Coventry, and indulged in the hope of a Lancastrian triumph.

"Right reverend and worshipful lady," writes the earl to his countess, "I recommend me to you, letting you weet that I am in great heaviness at the making of this letter; but, thanked be God, I am escaped myself, and suddenly departed from my men; for I understand my chaplain would have betrayed me....

"Ye shall give credence to the bringer of this letter, and I beseech you to reward him to his costs; for I am not in power at the making of this letter to give him but as I was put in trust by favor of strange people. Also, ye shall send me, in all haste, all the ready money ye can make, and as many of my men as can come well horsed, and that they come in divers parcels. Also, that my best horses be sent with my steel saddles, and bid the yeoman of the horse cover them with leather.

"Also, ye shall send to my mother and let her weet of this letter, and pray her of her blessing, and bid her send me my casket, by this token, that she hath the key thereof, but it is broken. And ye shall send to the Prior of Thetford, and bid him send me the sum of gold that he said I should have; also say to him, by this token, that I showed him the first Privy Seal....

[Pg 356]

"Also, ye shall be of good cheer, and take no thought; for I shall bring my purpose about now, by the grace of God, who have you in His keeping."

Oxford soon learned the truth of the homely proverb that there is much between the cup and the lip; and when Tewkesbury extinguished his hopes of victory, the earl, attended by Lord Beaumont, betook himself to France. His reception in that country not being such as to tempt a prolonged residence, he fitted out a fleet, and for a while made the ocean his home. Indeed, it would seem that, when exiled from his kindred and his castles, the heir of the De Veres reverted to the habits of his Scandinavian ancestors, and that, during the summer of 1471, the thirteenth of the proud earls of Oxford roved the narrow seas as a pirate. About the close of September, however, Oxford, having, in the words of Speede, "gotten stores of provisions by the strong hand at sea," landed in Cornwall; and with a body of men, whom some chroniclers represent as well-nigh four hundred, and others as less than a sixth of that number, appeared suddenly at St. Michael's Mount.

The monks of St. Michael and the soldiers who garrisoned the Mount were in no condition to resist a body of men so determined. They therefore yielded without a struggle; and Oxford set himself to[Pg 357] the task of repairing the fortifications, getting men and ammunition to defend the Mount in the event of a siege, and procuring provisions to subsist them in case of the operations being prolonged. Men and supplies were both forthcoming, for the earl happened to be grandson of an heiress of Sir Richard Sergeaux of Colquite, and their regard for the memory of that lady made the Cornishmen most eager to prove their devotion to his service. When, therefore, Oxford or his men descended into the villages adjacent to the Mount, they were received with enthusiasm, and, in the words of the chronicler, "had good cheer of the inhabitants."

Oxford's enterprise seemed to have prospered; but the period was the reverse of favorable for a Lancastrian lord being left in undisturbed possession of a strong-hold. No sooner did Edward hear of the exploit, than he issued a proclamation branding De Vere and his adherents as traitors; and, at the same time, he ordered Sir John Arundel, Sheriff of Cornwall, to retake St. Michael's Mount without delay. Arundel raised an army in the locality, advanced to the Mount, and sent a trumpeter to summon Oxford to surrender to the king's mercy, and thus save the effusion of Christian blood. The earl was uninfluenced by the ceremony. He resolutely refused to listen to the conditions. "Rather than yield on such terms," said he, "I and those with me will lose our lives."

[Pg 358]

The sheriff, seeing no hope of a capitulation, proceeded to storm the Mount. Oxford, however, far from being daunted, defended the strong-hold with such energy that, after a struggle, the besiegers were beaten at all points and repulsed with loss. Nor was this the worst; for the garrison, sallying from the outer gate, pursued the assailants down to the sands. There Arundel was slain with many of his soldiers; and the survivors—most of whom were newly levied—fled in dismay.[14]

Arundel was buried in the Church of the Mount; and Edward, on hearing of the sheriff's death, appointed a gentleman named Fortescue as successor in the office. Having been ordered to prosecute the siege, Fortescue commenced operations. But the new sheriff was little more successful than his predecessor. Moreover, the Mount, which was connected with the main land by an isthmus, dry at low water, but at other times overflowed, gained the reputation of being impregnable; and the king, who ascribed the want of success to the want of loyal zeal, and described Cornwall as "the back door of[Pg 359] rebellion," instructed Fortescue to hold a parley with Oxford in order to ascertain the earl's desires and expectations.

Fortescue acted according to his instructions, and demanded on what conditions the garrison would surrender.

"If," said the earl, "the king will grant myself and my adherents our lives, our liberties, and our estates, then we will yield."

"And otherwise?" said the sheriff.

"Why, in that event," exclaimed Oxford, with calm desperation, "we will fight it out to the last man."

The earl's answer was conveyed to the king; and on Edward's assuring the garrison of a free pardon, under the great seal of England, Oxford surrendered St. Michael's Mount. Indeed, he had been extremely perplexed; for Fortescue, it appears, had already opened communications with the garrison, and conveyed them such promises on the king's part that Oxford was under the necessity of surrendering himself to avoid the humiliation of being delivered by his own men into the hands of the besiegers. This was all the more provoking that he had sufficient provisions to last till midsummer; but there was no resisting fate, and, about the middle of February, Fortescue entered the Mount.

Oxford, having been carried to London with two[Pg 360] of his brothers and Lord Beaumont, was tried and attainted; and, notwithstanding the promise of pardon, the fate of the chief of the De Veres now appeared to be sealed. Fortunately for the Lancastrian earl, Edward's conscience was at that time troubled with some qualms, and his heart daunted by some signs which he regarded as ominous of evil. Not being in a savage humor, he shrunk from having more De Vere blood on his hands, and the earl escaped execution. However, he was sent captive to Picardy.

When Oxford was sent to a foreign prison, his youthful countess was left in poverty. As the sister of Warwick and the wife of Oxford, the noble lady was regarded by Edward with peculiar aversion; and, both as sister and wife, she returned the king's antipathy with interest. Thus it happened that, notwithstanding the near relationship in which she stood to the house of York, no provision out of her husband's revenues was made for her maintenance during his incarceration. The countess had all the Neville pride and determination. Cast down from patrician grandeur, and expelled from Castle Hedlingham and other feudal seats, where she had maintained state as the wife of England's proudest Norman earl, she made a noble effort to earn daily bread, and contrived to make a living by the exercise of her skill in needle-work. The struggle to[Pg 361] keep the wolf from the door was doubtless hard to the daughter of Salisbury and the spouse of Oxford; but, from being compelled to rely on her industry, Margaret Neville escaped the irksome necessity of suppressing the indignation she felt against her husband's foes, and she retained the privilege of denouncing the king, whom her imagination painted as the falsest of tyrants.

Meanwhile, Oxford was, in defiance of the king's promise, conveyed to Hammes, and committed as a prisoner to the Castle. The earl was not a man to relish the idea of incarceration, and he resolved on taking an unceremonious leave of his jailers. With this view, he leaped from the walls into the ditch, and endeavored to escape. The vigilance of his warders, however, rendered this attempt futile, and John de Vere was conveyed back to the Castle, a prisoner without prospect of release.


[Pg 362]

CHAPTER XXXVI.

A DUKE IN RAGS.

Among the Lancastrian chiefs who survived the two fields on which the Red Rose was trodden under the hoofs of King Edward's charger, none was destined to a more wretched fate than the conqueror's own brother-in-law, Henry, Duke of Exeter. The career of this chief of the family of Holland, from his cradle to his grave, forms a most melancholy chapter in the annals of the period.

The Hollands were somewhat inferior in origin to most of the great barons who fought in the Wars of the Roses. The founder of the house was a poor knight, who, from being secretary to an Earl of Lancaster, rose to some post of importance. His grandson, happening to hold the office of steward of the household to an Earl of Salisbury, contrived to espouse Joan Plantagenet, daughter of the Earl of Kent; and when that lady, known as "The Fair Maid of Kent," after figuring as a widow, became wife of "The Black Prince," the fortunes of the Hollands rose rapidly. One flourished as Earl of Kent; another was created Duke of Surrey; and a third, having been gifted with the earldom of[Pg 363] Huntingdon, became Duke of Exeter and husband of Elizabeth of Lancaster, John of Gaunt's second daughter.

Notwithstanding his Lancastrian alliance, the first Duke of Exeter remained faithful to Richard in 1399, and, consequently, lost his head soon after that sovereign's deposition. The son of the decapitated nobleman, however, being nephew of the new king, was soon received into favor by Henry of Lancaster, and appointed Constable of the Tower and Lord High Admiral of England. At an early age he married a daughter of Edmund, Earl Stafford; and on the 27th of June, 1430, their only son was born in the Tower of London. On the same day he was carried to Cold Harbor in the arms of the Countess Marshal, who conveyed him in a barge to Westminster, where, in St. Stephen's Chapel, he was baptized by the name of Henry.

Fortune seemed to smile on the heir of the Hollands. Could the future have been foreseen, however, no young peasant, laboring in the fields and struggling out of serfdom, would have envied the infant destined to a career so miserable and a catastrophe so melancholy. The life of Henry Holland opened brightly enough. At the age of seventeen he succeeded his father as third Duke of Exeter and Lord High Admiral of England, and espoused Anne Plantagenet, eldest daughter of the Duke of[Pg 364] York; and, at the time when the Roses were plucked, he appears to have favored the Yorkist cause. A change, however, came over his fortunes and his political sentiments.

Exeter had, in fact, chosen his party without due consideration, and ere long he saw reason to change sides. Indeed, his place in Parliaments and councils must have reminded the young duke that, through his grandmother, he was of the blood of Lancaster; and to a man of his rank flatterers would hardly be wanting to suggest the probability of the course of events bringing the regal sceptre to his hand. On arriving at years of discretion, Exeter changed the pale for the purple rose, and, after the first battle of St. Albans, he was under the necessity of flying to the sanctuary of Westminster. From that place of security he was taken on some pretext, and sent as a prisoner to Pontefract Castle.

When the political wind changed, Exeter recovered his liberty; and, as time passed over, he fought for Margaret of Anjou in the battles of Wakefield and Towton. After the rout of the Red Rose army on Palm Sunday, 1461, he fled with Henry into Scotland; but in the autumn of that year he was tempting fortune in Wales, and, in company with Jasper Tudor, stood embattled at Tutehill, near Carnarvon, against King Edward's forces. The Yorkists proving victorious, Exeter and his comrade[Pg 365] in arms were fain to make for the mountains, leaving the Welsh Lancastrians no resource but to submit.

Exeter's biography now becomes obscure. The unfortunate duke can be traced, however, lurking on the Scottish frontier, fighting at Hexham, flying to a Northumbrian village, finding Margaret of Anjou in the outlaw's cave, accompanying the Lancastrian queen into exile, and wandering as a broken man on the Continent, while his duchess, in no degree inclined to share such fortunes, enjoyed the estate of her banished lord, lived at her brother's court, kept well with Elizabeth Woodville, and ministered to that lady's maternal ambition by pledging the hand of Exeter's heiress to the young Marquis of Dorset. When, however, Warwick chased Edward of York from the kingdom, Exeter appeared once more in England, and figured as one of the Lancastrian leaders at Barnet.

The disgrace of abandoning "The Stout Earl" on the field where he was laid low, Exeter did not share. As early as seven in the morning of that Easter Sunday he was struck by an arrow, and left for dead on the field. After remaining for nine hours, he was discovered still alive, and carried to the house of one of his servants named Ruthland. A surgeon having been found to dress the duke's wound, he was in such a degree restored as to be conveyed to the sanctuary of Westminster.

[Pg 366]

At this point mystery again settles over Exeter's history. It appears, however, that the ill-fated duke escaped to the Continent, and that the duchess seized the opportunity to break the last link that bound her to a husband so unfortunate. In November, 1472, nearly two years after the battle of Barnet, the Plantagenet lady, at her own suit, procured a divorce, and soon after married Sir Thomas St. Leger, Knight of the Body to King Edward. The duchess survived this event for three years. According to Sandford, she breathed her last in 1475; and "St. Leger surviving her," says Dugdale, "in 21 Edward IV. founded a perpetual chantry of two priests to celebrate divine service daily within the Chapel of St. George in Windsor Castle." Exeter's only daughter, who had been betrothed to the Marquis of Dorset, died before her mother, and Elizabeth Woodville secured the heiress of Bonville as bride for her son.

Meanwhile the plight of Exeter became deplorable, and in Flanders he was reduced to absolute beggary. Comines relates that, on one occasion, he saw the impoverished magnate running after the Duke of Burgundy, and begging bread for God's sake. In the hapless mendicant, in rags and misery, Burgundy did not recognize the once proud chief of the house of Holland—his cousin by blood and his brother-in-law by marriage. On being afterward[Pg 367] informed, however, that the ragged mendicant was the banished Duke of Exeter, great-grandson of John of Gaunt, the king of Portugal's kinsman and his own, and formerly Lord High Admiral of England, owner of broad baronies, and husband of Anne Plantagenet, Charles the Rash was touched, and induced to bestow on Exeter a pension to save him from farther degradation.

Dugdale presumes that this scene occurred "after Barnet Field;" and, if so, Burgundy's bounty was not long enjoyed by the unfortunate recipient. Sometime in 1474 Exeter's earthly troubles ended. His body was found floating in the sea between Dover and Calais, but how he came by his death was never ascertained.

"In this year," says Fabyan, "was the Duke of Exeter found dead in the sea, between Dover and Calais, but how he was drowned the certainty is not known."


[Pg 368]

CHAPTER XXXVII.

LOUIS DE BRUGES AT WINDSOR.

In the autumn of 1472, while Oxford was being secured in the Castle of Hammes, and Edward was striving to get Pembroke and Richmond into his power, a guest, whom the king delighted to honor, appeared in England. This was Louis de Bruges, who had proved so true a friend in the hour of need; and right glad was Edward of York to welcome the Lord of Grauthuse to the regal castle which still stands, in the nineteenth century, a monument of the Plantagenets' pride in peace and prowess in war.

An account of the visit of the Burgundian nobleman, written at the time, has fortunately been preserved; and, as has been remarked, "far more luxurious and more splendid than might be deemed by those who read but the general histories of that sanguinary time, or the inventories of furniture in the houses even of the great barons, was the accommodation which Edward afforded to his guests."

On reaching Windsor, where, by-the-by, Margaret of Anjou was then a prisoner of state, Louis de Bruges was received by Lord Hastings, who, as the[Pg 369] king's chamberlain, led the noble guest to apartments in the far side of the quadrangle of the castle, which were richly hung with arras of cloth of gold. Edward received Louis with every demonstration of affection, and presented him to his spouse; and Elizabeth Woodville was, of course, all courtesy to her husband's preserver. After the ceremony of reception was over, the king signified that Hastings should conduct the Lord of Grauthuse to his chamber, where supper was ready; and Louis found that every preparation had been made for entertaining him luxuriously.

The apartments appropriated to the Burgundian are described as having been fitted up in a way which must have impressed the eye even of a man accustomed to the magnificence of Dijon. The walls were hung with white silk and linen cloth, and the floor covered with rich carpets. The bed was of down, the sheets were of Rennes cloth, and the counterpane, the tester, and the ceiler were of cloth of gold and furred with ermine. In the second chamber was another state bed, and a couch with hangings like a tent. In the third, covered with white cloth, was a bath, which in that age was in daily use.

After partaking of supper in the apartments dedicated to his service, Louis was conducted to the queen's withdrawing room, where he found Elizabeth[Pg 370] and her ladies amusing themselves with different games; some playing at marteaux with balls like marbles, and others at closheys, or nine-pins, made of ivory.

Next day, after matins, Edward took his guest to the Chapel of St. George, where they heard mass most melodiously sung. When mass had been performed, the king presented his guest with a cup of gold, garnished with pearl, in the middle of which was a large piece of unicorn's horn, and on the cover a great sapphire. Then the king led Louis to the quadrangle of the castle, and there the Prince of Wales, still in his second year, appeared, to bid the Lord of Grauthuse welcome to England. Having introduced his heir to the Burgundian lord, Edward conducted his guest into the little park, where they had much sport. The king made Louis ride his own horse; and of the animal, which is described as "a right fair hobby," he graciously made a present to his guest.

That day the king dined at the lodge in Windsor Park; and, the dinner over, he showed Louis his gardens and vineyard of pleasure. The queen ordered the evening banquet in her own apartments; and, when supper was over, the Princess Elizabeth danced with the Duke of Buckingham. Never did guest receive more flattering attentions than Louis. The king and courtiers did not take their leave of[Pg 371] him for the night till they had escorted him to his apartments; and soon after, when he had been in his bath and was preparing to betake himself to repose, there were sent him by the queen's orders "green ginger, and divers sirups, and hippocras." Next morning Louis breakfasted with the king, and then, leaving Windsor, returned to Westminster.

At Westminster new honors awaited the Lord of Grauthuse. On St. Edward's Day—exactly nineteen years after the birth of the ill-fated Edward of Lancaster—the king created the Burgundian nobleman Earl of Winchester, and, with many complimentary phrases, gave him the arms of the family of De Quency, which had enjoyed that earldom at the time of the Barons' Wars. After having been granted a more substantial mark of Edward's gratitude in the shape of a pension, Louis de Bruges took his leave and returned to his own country.


[Pg 372]

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

THE TREATY OF PICQUIGNY.

When Edward's victories on Gladsmuir Heath and the banks of the Severn had rendered the Lancastrians in England utterly incapable of making head against the house of York, the martial king naturally turned his thoughts to Continental triumphs, and prepared to avenge himself on Louis of France for the encouragement which that monarch had openly and secretly given to the adherents of the Red Rose.

Apart from the friendship shown by the crafty king to Warwick and Lancaster, Edward had a strong reason for making war on Louis. It was well known that Louis had not only sneered at his royalty, but questioned his legitimacy, calling him "the son of the archer," and keeping alive a story which some envious Lancastrians had invented about an intrigue of the Duchess of York, the proudest of English matrons, with Blackburn of Middleham. Besides, Edward was not insensible to the glory and popularity to be acquired by emulating the martial deeds of his ancestors on Continental soil. Accordingly, in the year 1475, after concluding an alliance[Pg 373] offensive and defensive with the Duke of Burgundy, and receiving promises of co-operation from the Constable St. Pol, Edward dispatched Garter-King-at-Arms to Louis, demanding the immediate surrender of the kingdom of France.

However startled Louis might be at the message, he did not lose his presence of mind. After reading Edward's letter and reflecting, he sent for the Garter-King, brought all his statecraft into play, expressed his high respect for the English king, deplored that such a prince should be deluded by so treacherous an ally as Burgundy, and persuaded the herald to urge his master to settle the matter amicably. Moreover, he promised Garter a thousand crowns when peace should be concluded; and, meanwhile, presented him with three hundred crowns. Garter-King-at-Arms was touched with the munificence of Louis, and promised his good offices; nay, more, significantly advised the King of France to open negotiations with the English ministers, whom he knew to be averse to a war.

Meanwhile, Edward had set himself to the task of providing money and men for the expedition he meditated; and as the project of a war with France was sure to make Parliament open the purse of the nation, a considerable sum was voted. To Edward, however, the amount appeared insufficient for his purpose, and he resolved upon a system of exaction[Pg 374] practiced in time of Richard the Second, and known as "a benevolence." But money paid in this way was supposed to be a voluntary gift, and not likely to come in large sums unless asked for. Edward, therefore, sent for the wealthiest citizens of London, talked to them frankly, and pressed them to contribute liberally; and he besides secured the influence of the city dames, who exerted themselves to the utmost on his behalf. A story is told of a widow, who was not fond of parting with money, bringing twenty pounds. "By God's Blessed Lady," said Edward, who was present, "you shall have a king's kiss for that money," and suited the action to the word. "Sire," said she, delighted with this familiarity, "the honor is worth more money than I have given:" and the widow doubled her contribution.

Large sums having been obtained, a gallant army was soon raised. In fact, the sons of the men of Agincourt did not relish the idea of beating swords into plowshares; and to the royal standard came nearly twenty thousand men, headed by the Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester, the Marquis of Dorset, the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Stanley, Lord Hastings, and other men of rank. With these, and attended by Lord-chancellor Rotheram and the Bishop of Ely, Edward sailed from Sandwich, and, toward the close of June, landed at Calais, which he[Pg 375] had last visited under the protection of Warwick, between their flight from Ludlow and their victory at Northampton.

High hopes were at first entertained by the invaders; but it soon became apparent that they were not destined to add a Cressy or an Agincourt to England's list of victories. At the very beginning, their enterprise was ruined by the constable's insincerity and Burgundy's rashness. The former failed to open the gates as he had promised; and the latter, instead of joining Edward with a large army, exhausted his strength before Neuss in a battle with the Swiss.

Louis began to breathe freely; and while the English army lay inactive at Peronne, French gold circulated freely among the leaders. A general desire for peace was, of course, the result; and, ere long, Edward caught the infection. French embassadors soon appeared, and offered to pay any thing in reason. A sum of seventy-five thousand crowns down, an annuity of fifty thousand crowns, and the dauphin as a husband for his eldest daughter—such were the terms submitted on the part of Louis for the acceptance of the English king. Edward could not resist such offers; and, after negotiations had gone on for some time, the kings agreed to a conference.

Picquigny, three leagues from Amiens, on the[Pg 376] road from Calais to Paris, was selected as the scene, and the 29th of August appointed as the time for this memorable interview. Every precaution was taken to prevent mischief; and on the middle of the bridge which spanned the Somme, at Picquigny, were erected two sheds. These fronted each other, but were divided from top to bottom by a trellis of wood-work. The space between the gratings was no wider than to admit a man's arm; and the English king was to occupy one side of the barricade, while the French king occupied the other.

It appears that Richard of Gloucester considered the terms of treaty degrading, and declined to appear at the conference. Nevertheless, on the appointed morning, Edward, attended by Clarence, Northumberland, Hastings, and others, proceeded to the Bridge of Picquigny, and approached the grating. On the other side, Louis had already arrived, with the Duke of Bourbon, the Cardinal Bourbon, about ten other persons of the highest rank in France, and Philip de Comines, who had recently exchanged the service of Burgundy for that of Louis.

One glance at Edward as he advanced along the causeway, with his tall, graceful form arrayed in cloth of gold, and wearing on his regal head a velvet cap with a large fleur de lis formed of precious stones, must have convinced so acute an observer as Louis that the story about the archer of Middleham[Pg 377] was an invention of the enemy; and as the King of England took off his cap, and bowed with grace, the French monarch, who had been leaning against the barrier, made a respectful obeisance, and exclaimed, "Cousin, you are right welcome. There is no person living I have been so ambitious of seeing." Edward, in good French, returned the compliment; and the two kings proceeded to business.

Notwithstanding a heavy fall of rain, which "came on to the great vexation of the French lords, who had dressed themselves and their horses in their richest habiliments, in honor of King Edward," the conference proved interesting. The Bishop of Ely, in a set harangue, quoted a prophecy of Merlin foreshadowing the august meeting; and a missal and crucifix having been produced, the kings, each placing one hand on the book and another on the crucifix, swore to observe religiously the terms of the treaty.

The solemn ceremony of swearing over, Louis became jocose, assured Edward he should be happy to see him in Paris, and promised to assign him, as confessor, the Cardinal Bourbon, who would, doubtless, readily grant absolution for any love affairs. Edward seemed to relish the prospect; and, knowing the cardinal's morals to be lax as his own, took the opportunity of displaying his wit in reply. After this the lords were sent to a little distance; and[Pg 378] the kings, having spoken some words in private, shook hands through the grating, and parted—Louis riding to Amiens, and Edward to the English camp.

No sooner had Louis left the bridge of Picquigny than he repented of the invitation he had given Edward to visit the French capital. "Certes," said the crafty monarch to Comines, as they rode toward Amiens, "our brother of England is a fine king, and a warm admirer of the ladies. At Paris he might chance to find some dame so much to his taste as to tempt him to return. His predecessors have been too often both in Paris and Normandy already, and I have no great affection for his company on this side of the Channel."

At Amiens, on the same evening, when Louis was sitting down to supper, an amusing scene occurred. Sir John Howard, now a baron, and Sir John Cheyney, Edward's Master of the Horse, had been appointed to accompany Louis to Paris; and Howard, whose vanity made him, as usual, ridiculous, whispered to the French king that it would go hard but he would persuade Edward to come to Paris a while and be merry. Louis allowed this to pass without returning any direct answer; but afterward he took occasion to say that the war with Burgundy would render his presence absolutely necessary in another part of France.

But, whatever his apprehensions, Louis was not[Pg 379] doomed to have his formidable contemporary as a foe or a guest on the banks of the Seine. Edward, doubtless delighted with the prospect of indulging in hunting, carousing, and love-making at Shene or Windsor, recalled, without delay, his soldiers from Peronne, Abbeville, and other places, and, escorted by the Bishop of Evreux, marched back to Calais. Thence he embarked for England, but not without being unpleasantly reminded that he hardly came off with royal honors. In fact, the Constable of St. Pol, apparently enraged that events had taken such a turn as to profit him nothing, wrote Edward a furious letter, calling him "a coward, a pitiful and poor sovereign, for having made a treaty with a king who would not keep one of his promises."[15]

The Plantagenet sent St. Pol's epistle to the King of France, and digested the affront; and while Louis, who had already been suspected of poisoning his brother, Charles de Valois, got rid of another enemy by beheading the constable, Edward returned to England to expend the money he had received as a bribe on those pleasures destined to destroy his health and obscure his intellect. Nor did his nobles come home empty-handed. Dorset, Hastings, and[Pg 380] Howard, Sir John Cheyney and Sir Thomas St. Leger, had become pensioners of the French king; and the people were left to complain that the expedition for which they had paid so dearly had ended in infamy. Perhaps, under such circumstances, they did drop a tear over the grave of "The Stout Earl," who, had he been alive, would not have stood quietly by while a king of England extracted taxes from English subjects to commence an unnecessary war, and took bribes from a French monarch to conclude a humiliating peace.


[Pg 381]

CHAPTER XXXIX.

A DOMESTIC TRAGEDY.

At the opening of the year 1477, Charles the Rash, Duke of Burgundy, fell at Nanci, before the two-handed swords of the Swiss mountaineers, leaving, by his first wife, Isabel of Bourbon, a daughter, Mary, the heiress of his dominions. About the same time, George, Duke of Clarence, and Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers, happened to become widowers. The duke and the earl, in other days rivals for the hand of the heiress of Lord Scales, immediately entered the arena as candidates for that of Mary of Burgundy, and their rivalry produced one of the darkest domestic tragedies recorded in the Plantagenet annals.

Clarence appears to have been the first to urge his claims. Almost ere the dust had time to gather on the coffin of his departed wife in the Abbey of Tewkesbury, the bereaved husband of Isabel Neville applied to his sister, the widow of Burgundy, to forward his suit with her step-daughter. The widowed duchess was the reverse of unfavorable to a matrimonial project so likely to advance the fortunes of her family, and the heart of Clarence for a moment[Pg 382] glowed with anticipations of a great matrimonial success.

But the hopes which Clarence cherished of a marriage with the heiress of Burgundy were rudely dispelled. The duke, whose shallow brain was muddled with Malmsey, soon found that he was no match for veteran courtiers. Experienced intriguers, the Woodvilles were prompt in their measures to defeat any project that jarred with their interests; and Elizabeth instilled into her husband's mind such suspicions as to Clarence's intentions, that Edward not only refused to hear of an alliance that "might enable Clarence to employ the power of Burgundy to win the crown," but even let down his dignity so far as to propose a marriage between Anthony, Earl Rivers, and the daughter of Charles the Rash. The court of Burgundy, treating the proposal with the disdain it deserved, gave the heiress to the Emperor Maximilian; and the Woodvilles, finding their presumption checked, and resolved to console themselves by making Clarence a victim, bent all their energies to effect his ruin.

Circumstances were unfavorable to Clarence; for, since the duke's confederacy with Warwick, no love had existed between him and the king. Edward deemed that he owed his brother an injury; and that, at least, was a kind of debt which Edward of York was never sorry to have an opportunity of[Pg 383] paying. The king's dislike was judiciously humored by the queen's kindred; and a prophecy, that the crown should be seized and the royal children murdered by one, the first letter of whose name was G, took possession of his imagination. A fair excuse only was wanting to get rid of Clarence, and a pretext was ere long found.

Among the Anglo-Norman families who during the fifteenth century maintained territorial state in that county which had come with an heiress of the Beauchamps to Richard Neville, and with the eldest daughter of the king-maker to the royal duke by whom he was betrayed, few were of higher consideration than the Burdets. One of the Burdets had accompanied the Conqueror to England; another had sat as member for Warwickshire in the Parliament of the second Edward; and a third, Sir Nicholas, had fought with high distinction in the wars carried on by the Duke of York in France. Falling at Pontoise on that day when King Charles of France stormed the town, Nicholas left a son, Thomas, who resided at Arrow, the seat of his family, and held an office in Clarence's household.

Burdet had figured as a Yorkist and fought for the White Rose. Being a follower of Clarence, however, he was regarded with some degree of suspicion; and, having domestic troubles, his temper was probably too much the worse for the wear to[Pg 384] admit of his being suspected without manifesting impatience. An accident, according to chroniclers, occurred, which exasperated him to language so indiscreet as to cause his own death and that of his patron.

Burdet had, among the deer in his park at Arrow, a white buck, of which he was exceedingly proud. This buck was destined to be the cause of much mischief; for one day, when Burdet was from home, the king, making a progress through Warwickshire, went to Arrow, and entered the park to divert himself with hunting. Unfortunately, Edward killed the favorite buck of all others; and Burdet, being informed on his return of what had happened, was enraged beyond measure. Indeed, it was said that the worthy squire, regarding the whole affair as a premeditated insult, lost his patience so completely as to express a wish "that the buck's horns had been in the king's belly."

But, however that may have been, there lived at that time, under Clarence's protection, an ecclesiastic named John Stacey, famed for his learning and skill in astrology. Having been denounced as a necromancer, and accused of exercising his unlawful art for the destruction of Richard, Lord Beauchamp, Stacey was put to the rack and tortured into naming Thomas Burdet as his accomplice in some treasonable practices. Burdet was[Pg 385] accordingly arrested on the charge of conspiring to kill the king and the Prince of Wales by casting their nativity, and of scattering among the people papers predicting their death.

Having been taken to Westminster Hall, Burdet and Stacey were tried before the Court of King's Bench. But that court was no longer presided over by a Fortescue or a Markham, and it was in vain that Burdet pleaded his innocence, declaring that, so far from having any design against the king's life, he was ready to fight for the king's crown, as he had done before. His fate was sealed: the jury returned a verdict of "Guilty;" the knight and ecclesiastic were sentenced to death; and, having been drawn from the Tower, they were executed as traitors at Tyburn.

The matter did not rest here. On learning the result of his adherents' trial, Clarence, who was in Ireland, naturally felt somewhat dismayed. Recollecting how the proceedings against Eleanor Cobham had served as a prelude to the destruction of Duke Humphrey, and apprehending in this case a similar result, he determined to stir in his own defense, and rushed into the snare which his enemies had set. Hurrying to England, and reaching Westminster in the king's absence, he entered the council chamber, showed the lords there assembled private confessions and declarations of innocence made[Pg 386] by Burdet and Stacey, and protested vehemently against the execution that had taken place.

At Windsor the king received intelligence of the step Clarence had taken; and the affair being reported to him in the worst light, he appears to have been seized with something like temporary insanity, and to have regarded Clarence's destruction as essential to his own safety and that of his children. No sooner, in any case, was news conveyed to him that Clarence was "flying in the face of all justice," than he hastened to Westminster, summoned the duke to the palace, and ordered him to be committed to the Tower.

Having pushed matters to this crisis, the Woodvilles did not allow Edward's passion to cool. It was in vain that the lord chancellor attempted to reconcile the king and the captive. A Parliament was summoned to meet about the middle of January; and when, on the appointed day, the English senators assembled at Westminster, the judges were summoned to the House of Lords, and Clarence was brought to the bar to be tried by his peers—the young Duke of Buckingham, who had married the queen's sister, presiding as lord high steward, and Edward appearing personally as accuser. Absurd as some of the charges were, Clarence had no chance of escape. He was charged with having dealt with the devil through necromancers; represented Edward[Pg 387] as illegitimate and without right to the throne; plotted to dethrone the king and disinherit the king's children; retained possession of an act of Parliament, whereby, in the reign of Henry, he had been declared heir to the crown after Edward of Lancaster; purchased the support of the Lancastrians by promising to restore their confiscated estates; and warned his own retainers to be ready to take up arms at an hour's notice. Clarence indignantly denied every charge; but his protestations of innocence were as vain as those of Burdet had been. Edward appeared bent on a conviction, and the peers had not the courage to resist such a pleader. The royal brothers, indeed, would seem to have had all the talk to themselves—"no one denying Clarence but the king, and no one answering the king but Clarence." Even the self-sufficient Buckingham contented himself with asking the judges "whether the matters proved against Clarence amounted in law to high treason." The opinion of the judges was altogether unfavorable to the duke. The legal functionaries answered the lord high steward's question in the affirmative, and the peers returned a unanimous verdict of "Guilty." On the 7th of February Buckingham pronounced sentence of death.

When matters reached this alarming stage, the Duchess of York interfered; and the king, in a somewhat relenting mood, delayed sending his brother[Pg 388] to the block. The Woodvilles, however, were not to be baffled of their prey; and the House of Commons, acting under their influence, petitioned for the duke's immediate execution. But the son-in-law of Warwick, with all his failings, was still the idol of the populace; and the policy of having him beheaded on Tower Hill was more than doubtful.

Ere this, Clarence had been reconducted to the Tower, and lodged in that part of the metropolitan fortress where resided the Master Provider of the King's Bows. In a gloomy chamber of "The Bowyer Tower," the duke, sad and solitary, passed several weeks, while his enemies decided what should be his fate. At length, about the beginning of March, it was rumored that the captive had died of grief and despair. The populace immediately raised a shout of indignation on hearing of the death of their "Good Duke," and sternly refused to believe that he had not had foul play. Ere long the story which Shakspeare has made so familiar was whispered about.

The execution of Clarence having been determined on—such was the popular account—he was allowed the privilege of choosing what death he should die; and, having an objection to appear on the scaffold, he elected to be drowned in that liquor with which he had so often washed down care and[Pg 389] remorse. A butt of Malmsey was accordingly introduced to the gloomy chamber in which he was lodged; and, one end of the cask having been knocked out, he was plunged into the wine, with his head down, and held in that position till life was extinct. His body was carried to Tewkesbury, and laid beside that of his duchess in the abbey church.

Having accomplished their revenge on the king's brother, the queen's kinsmen looked out for something wherewith to gratify their avarice. On this point the Woodvilles were, as usual, successful. To Earl Rivers was given part of the estates of Clarence; and to the Marquis of Dorset the wardship of the son of the murdered duke. The king, however, was the reverse of satisfied. He never recalled the name of Clarence without a feeling of penitence; and afterward, when sued for any man's pardon, he was in the habit of exclaiming mournfully, "Ah! I once had an unfortunate brother, and for his life not one man would open his mouth."


[Pg 390]

CHAPTER XL.

KING EDWARD'S DEATH.

For some years after the treaty of Picquigny, Edward of York, trusting to the friendship and relying on the pension of King Louis, passed his time in inglorious ease; and Elizabeth Woodville, elate with the prospect of her daughter sharing the throne of a Valois, persisted in pestering the crafty monarch of France with inquiries when she was to send him her young dauphiness. Meanwhile, Louis, who had no intention whatever of maintaining faith with the King of England one day longer than prudence dictated, was looking about for a more advantageous alliance for the heir to his throne.

After appearing for some time utterly unsuspicious, Edward, in 1480, resolved on sending an embassador to Paris, and Sir John Howard was selected as the man to urge a speedy celebration of the marriage. The plans of Louis were not then quite ripe, but his statecraft did not desert him; and, at length, after Howard had for some time been silenced by bribes, and Edward deluded by flattering assurances, he set the treaty of Picquigny at defiance, and contracted a marriage between the[Pg 391] dauphin and a daughter of the Emperor Maximilian.

Fortunately for Louis, Edward was a much less formidable personage than of yore. Since returning from his French expedition, the English king had given himself up to luxury and indolence. He had drunk deep, kept late hours, sat long over the wine-cup, and gratified his sensual inclinations with little regard either to his dignity as a king or his honor as a man. Dissipation and debauchery had ruined his health and obscured his intellect. Even his appearance was changed for the worse. His person had become corpulent, and his figure had lost its grace. He was no longer the Edward of Towton or of Tewkesbury.

On discovering, however, how completely he had been duped, Edward displayed some sparks of the savage valor which, in other days, had made him so terrible a foe. Rousing himself to projects of revenge, he vowed to carry such a war into France as that country had never before experienced, and commenced preparations for executing his threats. As his resentment appeared implacable, Louis deemed it prudent to find him work nearer home; and, with this object, excited the King of Scots to undertake a war against England.

Some successes achieved by Gloucester in Scotland emboldened Edward in his projects. It happened,[Pg 392] however, that he did not live even to attempt the execution of his threats. The excess of his rage against Louis had been such as seriously to affect his health; and, about Easter, 1483, in his forty-second year, the warlike king was laid prostrate with a fever in the Palace of Westminster. Stretched on a bed of sickness, the king found his constitution rapidly giving way; and, losing faith in the skill of his physicians, he referred his quarrel with Louis to the judgment of God, and summoned the lords of his court to bid them farewell.

The king, indeed, could not fail to be anxious as to the fortunes of the family he was leaving. Ever since his ill-starred marriage the court had been distracted by the feuds of the queen's kindred and the old nobility of England. The death of Warwick and the judicial murder of Clarence had by no means restored harmony. At the head of one party figured the queen's brother, Earl Rivers, and her son, the Marquis of Dorset; at the head of the other was the Duke of Buckingham, with whom sided the Lords Stanley and Hastings. Difficult as the task might be, Edward hoped to reconcile the hostile factions ere going to his grave.

When the lords appeared in the king's chamber, and assembled around his bed, Edward addressed to them an impressive speech. Having indicated his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as the fittest[Pg 393] person to be Protector of the realm, he expressed much anxiety about the affairs of his kingdom and family, pointed out the perils of discord in a state, and lamented that it had been his lot "to win the courtesy of men's knees by the fall of so many heads." After thus smoothing the way, as it were, he put it to his lords, as a last request, that they should lay aside all variance, and love one another. At this solemn appeal the lords acted their parts with a decorum which imposed on the dying man. Two celebrated characters, indeed, were absent, whose talents for dissimulation could not have failed to distinguish them. Gloucester was on the borders of Scotland, and Rivers on the marches of Wales; so that Richard Plantagenet, with his dark guile, and Anthony Woodville, with his airy pretensions, were wanting to complete the scene. But Hastings, Dorset, and others, though their hearts were far asunder, shook hands and embraced with every semblance of friendship; and the king dismissed them with the idea that he had effected a reconciliation.

His affairs on earth thus settled, as he believed, Edward proceeded to make his peace with heaven. Having received such consolations as the Church administers to frail men when they are going to judgment, and committed his soul to the mercy of God, Edward awaited the coming of the Great Destroyer. On the 9th of April his hour arrived; and, complaining[Pg 394] of drowsiness, he turned on his side. While in that position he fell into the sleep that knows no breaking; and his spirit, which had so often luxuriated in carnage and strife, departed in peace.

On the day when the king breathed his last he lay exposed in the Palace of Westminster, that the lords, temporal and spiritual, and the municipal functionaries of London might have an opportunity of ascertaining that he had not been murdered. This ceremony over, the body was seared and removed to St. Stephen's Chapel, and there watched by nobles, while masses were sung.

Windsor had been selected as the place of interment. Ere being conveyed to its last resting-place, however, the corpse, covered with cloth of gold, was carried to the Abbey of Westminster under a rich canopy of cloth imperial, supported by four knights, Sir John Howard bearing the banner in front of the procession, and the officers of arms walking around. Mass having been again performed at Westminster, the mortal remains of the warrior-king were placed in a chariot drawn by six horses, and conveyed, by slow stages, along the banks of the Thames. Having been met at the gates of Windsor, and perfumed with odors by the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Winchester the corpse was borne in solemn procession to the Chapel of St. George, where, placed in the choir, on a hearse blazing with lights[Pg 395] and surrounded with banners, it was watched for the night by nobles and esquires. Another mass, more religious solemnities, a few more ceremonies befitting the rank of the deceased, and the last Plantagenet whose obsequies were performed with royal honors was committed to the tomb.


[Pg 396]

CHAPTER XLI.

THE DUKE OF GLOUCESTER.

Whether Richard the Third, with his hunch back, withered arm, splay feet, goggle eyes, and swarthy countenance, as portrayed by poets and chroniclers of the Tudor period, very closely resembles the Richard of Baynard's Castle and Bosworth Field, is a question which philosophical historians have answered in the negative. The evidence of the old Countess of Desmond, when brought to light by Horace Walpole in 1758, first began to set the world right on this subject. Born about the middle of the fifteenth century, she lived—when the Plantagenets had been displaced by the Tudors, and the Tudors succeeded by the Stuarts—to affirm, in the seventeenth century, that, in her youth, she had danced with Richard at his brother's court, and that he whom historians had, in deference to Tudor prejudices, represented as a monster of ugliness, was in reality the handsomest man in the room except his brother Edward, and that he was very well made.

It can not be denied that the Countess of Desmond's description of Richard appears extremely complimentary; and, indeed, it would have been[Pg 397] something novel in human nature if this lady of the house of Fitzgerald, in old age and penury, had not been inclined to exaggerate the personal advantages of a Plantagenet prince who, in the days of her youth and hope, had distinguished her by his attention. Evidence, however, exists in abundance to prove that Richard was utterly unlike the deformed ruffian introduced into history by the scribes and sheriffs of London, who plied their pens with an eye to the favor of the Tudors.

Portraits and authentic descriptions of the last Plantagenet king which have come down to posterity convey the idea of a man rather under-sized and hard-featured, with dark brown hair, an intellectual forehead, a face slightly deficient in length, dark, thoughtful eyes, and a short neck, and shoulders somewhat unequal, giving an appearance of inelegance to a figure, spare indeed, and wanting in bulk, but wiry, robust, and sinewy; trained by exercise to endure fatigue, and capable on occasions of exercising almost superhuman strength. Such, clad in garments far more gorgeous than good taste would have approved, his head bent forward on his bosom, his hand playing with his dagger, as if in restlessness of mood, and his lips moving as if in soliloquy, appeared to his contemporaries the subtle politician who, at Baynard's Castle, schemed for the crown of St. Edward. Such, arrayed in Milan steel, bestriding[Pg 398] a white steed, the emblem of sovereignty, with a surcoat of brilliant colors over his armor, a crown of ornament around his helmet, a trusty lance skillfully poised in his hand, and an intense craving for vengeance gnawing at his heart, appeared the fiery warrior whose desperate valor well-nigh saved St. Edward's crown from fortune and the foe on Bosworth Field.


[Pg 399]

CHAPTER XLII.

THE PROTECTOR AND THE PROTECTORATE.

Before "giving up his soul to God" in the Palace of Westminster, the fourth Edward nominated his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as Protector of England during the minority of Edward the Fifth. The choice was one of which the nation could not but approve. Richard was in the thirty-first year of his life, and in the full vigor of his intellect; with faculties refined by education and sharpened by use; knowledge of mankind, acquired in civil strife and in the experience of startling vicissitudes of fortune; a courage in battle which had made his slight form and grisly cognizance terrible to foes on fields of fame; a genius for war which had given him an enviable reputation throughout Christendom; a temper hitherto so carefully kept under restraint that any man hinting at the excess of its ferocity would have been deemed insane; and an ambition hitherto so well masked by affected humility that no one could have imagined it capable of prompting political crimes, unjustifiable, save by those Italian maxims associated with the name of Machiavelli.

[Pg 400]

It was on the 2d of October, 1452, shortly after the Roses were plucked in the Temple Gardens, that Cicely, Duchess of York, gave birth to her youngest son, Richard, in the Castle of Fotheringay. He was, therefore, scarcely three years old when the Wars of the Roses commenced at St. Albans, and little more than eight when the Duke of York was slain by the Lancastrians on Wakefield Green. Alarmed, after that event, at the aspect of affairs, warned by the murder of her second son, the boy-Earl of Rutland, and eager to save George and Richard from the fate of their elder brother, the Duchess Cicely sent them to Holland, trusting that, even in case of the Lancastrians triumphing, the Duke of Burgundy would generously afford them protection and insure them safety.

After being sent to the Continent, Richard and his brother remained for some time in secret at Utrecht; but the Duke of Burgundy, hearing that the young Plantagenets were in that city, had them sought out and escorted to Bruges, where they were received with the honors due to their rank. When, however, his victory at Towton made Edward King of England, he requested Burgundy to send the princes; and, in the spring of 1461, "The Good Duke" had them honorably escorted to Calais on their way home. When, after their return to England, George was dignified with the dukedom of Clarence, Richard became Duke of Gloucester.

[Pg 401]

At an early age, Richard, who was energetic and highly educated, acquired great influence over the indolent and illiterate Edward; and in the summer of 1470, when scarcely eighteen, he was appointed Warden of the West Marches. The return of Warwick from France interrupting his tenure of office, he shared his brother's flight to the territories of the Duke of Burgundy; and when Edward landed at Ravenspur, to conquer or die, Richard was by his side, and proved an ally of no mean prowess. Being intrusted with high command at Barnet and Tewkesbury, his conduct won him high reputation; and, in spite of his foppery and fondness for dress and gay apparel, he showed himself, at both of these battles, a sage counselor in camp and a fiery warrior in conflict.

The Lancastrians having been put down and peace restored, Richard turned his thoughts to matrimony, and resolved to espouse Anne Neville, daughter of Warwick and widow of Edward of Lancaster. Clarence, wishing to keep the Warwick baronies to himself, as husband of Isabel Neville, attempted, by concealing her sister, to prevent this marriage. But Richard was not to be baffled. He discovered the fair Anne in London, disguised as a cook-maid, and carrying the youthful widow off, placed her for security in the sanctuary of St. Martin's. Nevertheless, Clarence continued unreasonable. "Richard[Pg 402] may have my sister-in-law if he will," he said, "but we will part no livelihood." Edward, however, took the matter in hand, pacified his brothers, allotted Anne a handsome portion out of the Warwick estates, and had the marriage with Richard forthwith solemnized. One son, destined to figure for a brief period as Prince of Wales, was the result of this union.

Years rendered memorable by the inglorious expedition to France and the unfortunate execution of Clarence passed over; and in 1482, when Edward conspired with the exiled Duke of Albany to dethrone James, King of Scots, Richard, who, among his contemporaries, had acquired the reputation of being "a man of deep reach and policy," was intrusted with the conduct of the war. Having been nominated lieutenant general against the Scots, and joined by the Earl of Northumberland and Lord Stanley, he led twenty-five thousand men across the Tweed, regained Berwick, which had been surrendered by Queen Margaret, and marched to the gates of Edinburgh. By this expedition Richard acquired an increase of popularity; and he was still in the north when Edward the Fourth departed this life and his son was proclaimed as Edward the Fifth.

At that time the young king—a boy of thirteen—was residing in the Castle of Ludlow, on the marches[Pg 403] of Wales, and receiving his education under the auspices of his maternal uncle, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers. Anthony was eminently qualified for the post of tutor, and every precaution appears to have been taken to render the boy worthy of the crown which he was destined never to wear.

While the news of his father's death was traveling to young Edward at Ludlow, the feud between the ancient nobility and the queen's kindred broke out afresh at Westminster, and London was agitated by the factious strife. Elizabeth, jealous of the designs of the adverse faction, wrote to Rivers to raise a large force in Wales, and conduct the king to the capital to be crowned; and she empowered her son, the Marquis of Dorset, who was Constable of the Tower, to take the royal treasure out of that fortress, and fit out a fleet. Hastings, alarmed at these indications of suspicion, threatened to retire to Calais, of which he was captain; and both parties appealed to Richard, who had hitherto so acted as to give offense to neither.

Richard, on learning the state of affairs, immediately wrote to the queen, recommending that the army gathering round her son should be dismissed; and the royal widow, who was totally devoid of the intellect and sagacity necessary for such a crisis, dispatched a messenger to her brother to disband his troops. The young king, however, set out from[Pg 404] Ludlow, and, attended by Earl Rivers, Elizabeth's second son, Richard Grey, and Sir Thomas Vaughan, he approached Northampton on the 22d of April, and learned that Richard had already arrived at that town.

Richard, as we have said, was on the frontiers of Scotland when his brother expired at Westminster. On receiving intelligence of this sad event he rode southward to York, and entered that city with a retinue of six hundred knights and esquires, all dressed, like himself, in deep mourning. At York he ordered a grand funeral service to be performed in the Cathedral; and, having summoned the magnates of the neighborhood to swear fealty to Edward the Fifth, he set them the example by taking the oath first. After going through this ceremony, he wrote to Elizabeth Woodville and to Earl Rivers, expressing the utmost loyalty and affection for the young king; but, at the same time, a messenger was sent to the Duke of Buckingham appointing a meeting at Northampton.

Again taking the road southward, Richard reached Northampton on the 22d of April; and, learning that the king was every hour expected, he resolved to await the arrival of his nephew and escort him safely to London. Ere long Rivers and Richard Grey appeared to pay their respects, and announce that the king had gone forward to Stony[Pg 405] Stratford. Richard, who had hitherto given the Woodvilles no cause for suspicion, was doubtless somewhat surprised at this intelligence. He, however, suppressed his emotions, listened patiently to Anthony's frivolous apology about fearing that Northampton would have been too small a place to accommodate so many people, and with the utmost courtesy invited the uncle and nephew to remain and sup.

Rivers and Grey accepted without hesitation an invitation given in so friendly a tone; and soon after, Buckingham arrived at the head of three hundred horsemen. Every thing went calmly. The two dukes passed the evening with Rivers and Grey; they all talked in the most friendly way; and next morning they rode together to Stony Stratford.

On reaching Stony Stratford, Richard found the king mounting to renew his journey; and this circumstance seems to have convinced him that he was intended by the Woodvilles first as a dupe and then as a victim. At all events, their evident anxiety to prevent an interview between him and his nephew afforded him a fair opportunity for taking strong measures, and he did not hesitate. Turning to Rivers and Grey, he immediately charged them with estranging the affections of his nephew, and caused them to be arrested along with Sir Thomas Vaughan.

Having ordered the prisoners to be conveyed to[Pg 406] the castle of Sheriff Hutton, Richard and Buckingham bent their knees to their youthful sovereign, and explained to him that Rivers, Grey, and Dorset were traitors; but Edward, educated by his maternal relatives and much attached to them, could not conceal his displeasure at their arrest.

This scene over, Richard dismissed all domestics with whom Rivers had surrounded the young king, and conducted his nephew toward London, giving out as he went that the Woodvilles had been conspiring. On the 4th of May they approached the metropolis; and at Hornsey Wood they were met by Lord-mayor Shaw, with the sheriffs and aldermen, in their scarlet robes, and five hundred of the citizens, clad in violet and gallantly mounted. Attended as became a king, young Edward entered London. Richard rode bareheaded before his nephew; many knights and nobles followed; and, amid loud acclamations from the populace, Edward the Fifth was conducted to the Bishop's Palace. A grand council was then summoned, and Richard was declared Protector of England.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Woodville had been seized with dread. Alarmed at the report that her brother and son were under arrest, and apprehensive of Richard's intentions, she fled to the sanctuary with her five daughters, her eldest son, the Marquis of Dorset, and her youngest son, Richard, a boy of ten,[Pg 407] who had been created Duke of York, and contracted in marriage to an heiress of the Mowbrays who died in infancy. The king, on learning that his mother was alarmed, expressed his grief with tears in his eyes. At first Richard only protested his loyalty, and marveled that his nephew should be so melancholy; but ere long he resolved to turn the royal boy's unhappiness to account, and with this view sent the Archbishop of York to Elizabeth to say that, to the king's happiness, the company of his brother was essential.

The prelate carried the Protector's message to the sanctuary, and found the mournful mother earnestly opposed to delivering up the Duke of York. The archbishop, however, told her plainly that if she did not consent, he feared some sharper course would speedily be taken; and at this warning Elizabeth, who was at once timorous and imprudent, began to yield. At length she took the boy by the hand and led him to the archbishop. "My lord," she said, "here he is. For my own part, I never will deliver him freely; but if you must needs have, take him, and at your hands I will require him."

At that time Richard and other lords were in the Star Chamber, and thither the archbishop led the weeping boy. As they entered, Richard rose, embraced his nephew affectionately, and exclaimed with characteristic dissimulation, "Welcome, nephew,[Pg 408] with all my heart. Next to my sovereign lord, your brother, nothing gives me so much contentment as your presence." A few days after this scene was enacted, Richard declared that it was necessary that the king and his brother should be sent to some place of security till the distempers of the commonwealth were healed; and a great council, summoned to discuss the question, resolved, on the motion of Buckingham, that the princes should be sent to the Tower. Accordingly, they were conducted to the metropolitan fortress; and it was intimated that they were to remain there till preparations had been made for the king's coronation.

The fate of Rivers, Grey, and Vaughan having been decided on, the 13th of June was appointed as the day of execution; and Sir Richard Ratcliffe, an unscrupulous agent of Richard, was intrusted with the ceremony. Anthony Woodville was prevented from addressing the people on the occasion, and posterity has been deprived of the satisfaction of reading the accomplished adventurer's vindication; but Vaughan was more lucky in his effort to be heard.

"I appeal," said Vaughan, solemnly, "to God's high tribunal against the Duke of Gloucester for this wrongful murder."

"You have made a goodly appeal," said Ratcliffe, with a sneer, "so lay down your head."

"I die in the right, Ratcliffe," answered Vaughan;[Pg 409] and, preparing to submit to the blow, he added, "Take heed that you die not in the wrong."

Ere disposing of the Woodvilles, Richard persuaded himself that his dream of the crown might be realized, and by bribes and promises purchased Buckingham's aid in overthrowing the obstacles that stood in his way. Anxious, also, to gain over Hastings, he deputed the task of sounding him to William Catesby, an eminent lawyer, who descended from an ancient family at Lapworth, in Warwickshire, and who was destined to acquire an unenviable notoriety in Richard's service. The result was not satisfactory. In fact, Hastings, though he heartily concurred in Richard's measures against the Woodvilles, was determined to stand by Edward's sons to the death; and, ere long, matters arrived at such a pass that, while Richard sat at the head of a majority of the council at Crosby Hall, Hastings presided over a minority at the Tower. The party of Hastings appeared formidable. Lord Stanley, among others, took part in its proceedings; and Stanley's son, George, Lord Strange, was reported to be levying forces in Lancashire to give effect to its decisions. Richard was not blind to the fact that if he did not destroy the confederacy forthwith it would destroy him. At such a crisis he was neither so timid nor so scrupulous as to hesitate as to the means.

[Pg 410]

Some years before his death, Edward of York, while pursuing his amours in the city of London, was captivated by the charms of Jane Shore, a young city dame, whose name occupies an unfortunate place in the history of the period. This woman, after being for seven years the wife of a reputable goldsmith, allowed herself, in an evil hour, to be lured from the house of her husband, and figured for some time as the king's mistress. Notwithstanding her equivocal position, however, Mistress Shore exhibited many redeeming qualities. Her wit and beauty giving her great influence over Edward, she exercised it for worthy purposes, and was ever ready to relieve the needy, to shield the innocent, and protect the oppressed.

When Edward had been laid at rest in St. George's Chapel, and Elizabeth Woodville fled to the sanctuary, Mistress Shore manifested much sympathy for the distressed queen; and, having formed an intimacy with Lord Hastings, she framed something resembling a plot against the Protector. Elizabeth at once forgave Hastings the hostility he had displayed toward her kindred, and forgave Mistress Shore for having supplanted her in Edward's affections, and the three became allies. Richard's jealousy was aroused, and he resolved to make this extraordinary alliance the means of effecting the ruin of Hastings.

[Pg 411]

It was Friday, the 13th of June—the day on which Rivers, Grey, and Vaughan suffered at Pontefract—and Hastings, Stanley, the Bishop of Ely, the Archbishop of York, with other men of mark, had assembled at nine o'clock in the Tower, when the Protector suddenly entered the council chamber and took his seat at the table. Richard appeared in a lively mood, conversed for a while gayly with those present, and quite surprised them by the mirth which he exhibited.

Having set the lords somewhat at their ease and persuaded them to proceed with business, Richard begged them to spare him for a while, and, leaving the council chamber, he remained absent for an hour. Between ten and eleven he returned, but frowning and fretting, knitting his brow and biting his lips.

"What punishment," he asked, seating himself, "do they deserve who have imagined and compassed my destruction, who am so nearly related to the king, and intrusted with the government of the realm?"

"Whoever they be," answered Hastings, after a pause, "they deserve the death of traitors."

"These traitors," cried Richard, "are the sorceress my brother's wife, and her accomplice, Jane Shore, his mistress, with others, their associates, who have, by their witchcraft, wasted my body."

[Pg 412]

"Certainly, my lord," said Hastings, after exhibiting some confusion, "if they be guilty of these crimes, they deserve the severest punishment."

"What?" exclaimed Richard, furiously, "do you reply to me with ifs and with ands? I tell thee they have so done, and that I will make good on your body, traitor."

After threatening Hastings, Richard struck the council table, and immediately a cry of "Treason" arose, and armed men rushed into the chamber.

"I arrest thee, traitor," said Richard, turning to Hastings.

"Me, my lord?" asked Hastings, in surprise.

"Yes, thee, traitor," said Richard; "and, by St. Paul, I swear I will not to dinner till I have thy head off."

While this conversation was passing between the Protector and Hastings, one of the soldiers, as if by accident or mistake, struck a blow at Lord Stanley. But the noble baron, who had no ambition to share his ally's fate, and who, indeed, contrived to carry his wise head to the grave, saved himself on this occasion by jerking under the table, and escaped without any other bodily injury than a bruise.

While Lord Stanley, the Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of Ely were arrested, and shut up in various parts of the Tower, Hastings was hurried outside for immediate execution. Richard would not[Pg 413] even allow the headsman time enough to erect a scaffold; but a log of wood answered the purpose. This, having been found in the court of the Tower, was carried to the green near the chapel; and the lord chamberlain, after being led thither, was without farther ceremony beheaded. At the same time the sheriffs of London proceeded to Mistress Shore's house, took possession of her goods, which were valued at three thousand marks, and conveyed her through the city to the Tower. On being brought before the council, however, on the charge of sorcery, no evidence worthy of credit was produced, and an acquittal was the consequence.

The sudden execution of the lord chamberlain naturally excited much interest in the city; and, as Hastings happened to be a great favorite with the inhabitants, Richard deemed it necessary to vouchsafe an explanation. Having therefore sent for some of the influential citizens, and frankly justified himself as having acted simply in self-defense, he, within two hours, caused a proclamation, under the great seal, fairly written on parchment, to be read by a herald-at-arms, with great solemnity, in various parts of London. Unfortunately, this vindication appeared so soon after the execution that people could not help suspecting that it had been drawn up before.

"Here's a gay goodly cast," remarked the schoolmaster[Pg 414] of St. Paul's, as the document was read at the Cross, "soul cast away for haste."

"Ay," said a merchant standing by, "I think it has been written by the spirit of prophecy."


[Pg 415]

CHAPTER XLIII.

THE USURPATION.

After mewing the princes in the Tower, beheading Hastings in London and the Woodvilles at Pontefract, placing such foes to his pretensions as Lord Stanley and the Bishop of Ely under lock and key, and arousing the people's moral indignation by the scandal of a king's widow taking counsel with her husband's mistress to embarrass the government carried on in the name of her son, Richard applied himself resolutely to secure the prize on which he had set his heart. Ere long, the citizens who discussed the proclamation about Hastings were destined to have fresh subjects for gossip.

Among the numerous ladies upon whom Edward, about the beginning of his reign, cast admiring eyes, was Eleanor Talbot, granddaughter of the great Earl of Shrewsbury. This patrician dame was the widow of Lord Butler of Sudeley, and had seen fifteen more summers than her royal lover. Edward, not on that account the less enamored, asked her to become his wife; and, won by the ardor of his attachment, Eleanor consented to a secret marriage. The ceremony was performed by Dr. Stillington,[Pg 416] Bishop of Bath; but, as time passed on, the Yorkist king's amorous heart led him into another engagement, and the neglected Eleanor was astonished with news of his having married Elizabeth Woodville. On hearing of his faithlessness she fell into a profound melancholy, and afterward lived in sadness and retirement.

This silent repudiation of a daughter of their house shocked the propriety and hurt the pride of the Talbots, and they applied to Stillington to demand satisfaction. Not relishing the perilous duty, the bishop spoke to Richard on the subject, and Gloucester mentioned it to the king. This intercession proved of no avail; and Edward displayed such fury on learning that the secret was known, that nobody who valued a head would have cared to allude to it while he was on the throne. But Richard, who had not forgotten a circumstance so important, now saw that the time had come when the secret might be used to advance his own fortunes. It was necessary, however, that the facts should be published in such a way as to produce a strong impression, and a plan was devised for bringing together a multitude.

For this purpose, Richard caused Mistress Shore to be again dragged into public, and tried before the spiritual courts for her scandalous manner of life. The Protector was not this time disappointed.[Pg 417] However unfounded the charge of sorcery, there was no lack of evidence as to her frailties, and she was condemned to do open penance. Sunday was appointed for this act of humiliation; and on that day, through streets crowded with spectators, the erring woman was under the necessity of walking to St. Paul's barefooted, wrapped in a white sheet, and holding a lighted taper of wax in her hand.

This exhibition was of itself deemed likely to advance the Protector's interests by impressing people with a high opinion of his worth as a reformer of morals; but Richard had arranged that, ere the crowd assembled as spectators had time to disperse, another and a far more important scene should be enacted. In this the chief actor was Dr. Shaw, an Augustine friar of high reputation and great popularity. Mounting the pulpit at St. Paul's Cross, Shaw, who was a brother of the lord-mayor and an adherent of the Protector, preached from the text, "The multiplying brood of the ungodly shall not thrive, nor take deep rooting from bastard slips;" and proceeded boldly to prove that the princes in the Tower were illegitimate.

Richard appears to have found this stratagem unsuccessful; but he did not dream of abandoning his ambitious project. Nor can he, with justice, be severely blamed for setting aside the sons of Elizabeth Woodville. However the matter may have been[Pg 418] slurred over by men writing with the fear of the Tudors before their eyes, hardly any doubt can exist that Edward was guilty of bigamy, and that his marriage with Elizabeth was invalid; for Philip de Comines bears witness to having heard Bishop Stillington state that he had married the king to Lady Butler; and Eleanor undoubtedly survived that unfortunate ceremony performed on a May morning in the chapel at Grafton.

But the illegitimacy of Edward's offspring did not make Richard heir of the house of York. Between him and the crown stood the children of Clarence, Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick, and his sister Margaret, afterward Countess of Salisbury and mother of Cardinal Pole. The claim of these children was such as could not decently be rejected; but, having gone too far to recede, Richard pretended that their father's attainder disqualified them from inheriting, and adopted measures for usurping the crown.

Richard again invoked the aid of Buckingham; and, on the Tuesday after Dr. Shaw's sermon, attended by nobles, knights, and citizens, Buckingham appeared on the hustings at Guildhall, and harangued the populace. The duke's oratory was successful. Some of the wealthy citizens, indeed, asked time for consideration; but the multitude tossed their bonnets in the air, and shouted, "Long live King Richard."

[Pg 419]

At Baynard's Castle, with the Duchess of York, Richard was then residing; and thither, to wait upon him, the citizens sent a deputation, headed by the lord-mayor and accompanied by Buckingham. On being informed that a number of people were in the castle court, Richard affected alarm and declined to receive them; but, at length, they were admitted, and Buckingham presented an address, praying Richard to take the crown as his by right of birth and the election of the estates of the realm.

"I little thought, cousin," said Richard, angrily, "that you, of all men, would have moved me to a matter which, of all things, I most decline."

"The free people of England will never be ruled by a bastard," said Buckingham; "and if you, the true heir, refuse the crown, they know where to find another who will gladly accept it."

"Well," said Richard, with the air of a man making a great sacrifice, "since I perceive that the whole realm is resolved not to permit my nephew to reign, and that the right of succession belongs to me, I am content to submit to the will of the people."

On hearing this speech the citizens raised a cry of "Long live King Richard, our sovereign lord;" and the brief reign of Edward the Fifth was at an end.


[Pg 420]

CHAPTER XLIV.

RICHARD'S CORONATION.

When Richard had expressed his intention to usurp the English crown, he fixed the 6th day of July, 1483, for his coronation, and caused preparations to be made for performing the ceremony with such magnificence as was likely to render the occasion memorable. Never had arrangements been made on so splendid a scale for investing a king of England with the symbols of power.

At the same time Richard took precautions against any opposition that might be offered by the friends of Elizabeth Woodville. From the north were brought five thousand fighting men, "evil appareled, and worse harnessed, in rusty armor, neither defensible for proof nor scoured for show," but with fearless hearts and strong hands. Their leader was one whose name a Woodville could hardly hear without growing pale. For it was Robin of Redesdale, who, in other days, had led the half mob, half army that seized and beheaded old Earl Rivers, and that son of Earl Rivers who, while in his teens, had wedded a dowager duchess in her eighty-second year. On the 4th of July these northern soldiers encamped[Pg 421] in Finsbury Fields, and inspired the citizens of London with emotions of doubt and apprehension.

On the day when Robin of Redesdale and his men startled London, Richard and his ill-starred queen—the Anne Neville of earlier and happier times—took their barge at Baynard's Castle, and went by water to the Tower. After releasing Lord Stanley and the Archbishop of York, that they might take part in the coronation, the king created his son Edward Prince of Wales, nominated Lord Lovel to the office of lord chamberlain, vacant by the execution of Hastings, and appointed Sir Robert Brackenbury, the younger son of an ancient family long settled at Sallaby, in the Bishopric of Durham, to the lieutenancy of the Tower. At the same time he bestowed on Sir John Howard the dukedom of Norfolk, and to Thomas, eldest son of that pretentious personage, he gave the earldom of Surrey. Gratified as the vanity of the Howards might be, Sir John must have blushed, if, indeed, capable of so much decorum, as he thought of the disconsolate woman in the sanctuary, and remembered the letter which, twenty years earlier, at the time of her marriage, he had written to her father, Sir Richard Woodville.

At length the day appointed for the ceremony arrived, and Richard prepared to place the crown of St. Edward on his head. "The king, with Queen Anne, his wife," says the chronicler, "came down[Pg 422] out of the Whitehall into the great hall at Westminster, and went directly to the King's Bench, and from thence, going upon Ray-cloth, barefooted, went to St. Edward's Shrine; all his nobility going with him, every lord in his degree."

A magnificent banquet in Westminster Hall brought the coronation ceremony to a conclusion; and, in the midst of the banquet, Sir Robert Dymoke, as king's champion, rode into the hall and challenged any man to say that Richard was not King of England. No one, of course, ventured to gainsay his title; but from every side rose shouts of "King Richard, King Richard;" and, his inauguration as sovereign of England having been thus formally completed, the usurper retired to consider how he could best secure himself on that throne which he had gained by means so unscrupulous.


[Pg 423]

CHAPTER XLV.

THE PRINCES IN THE TOWER.

When the sons of the fourth Edward and Elizabeth Woodville had been escorted through London, conducted to the Tower, and given into the keeping of Sir Robert Brackenbury, the populace saw their faces no more.

According to the chroniclers who wrote in the age of the Tudors, the young king had, from the time of the arrest of his maternal kinsman at Stony Stratford, been possessed with vague presentiments; and he no sooner heard of the usurpation than he revealed the alarm he felt for his personal safety. "Alas!" exclaimed the boy, on being informed that Richard was to be crowned, "I would mine uncle would let me enjoy my life, though I lose my kingdom and my crown."

The lives of the princes might have been spared; but it happened that, after causing his coronation to be celebrated with so much splendor at Westminster, Richard undertook a progress to York, to have the ceremony repeated in the capital of the north. While on his way, Richard learned that the friends of Elizabeth Woodville were conspiring to deliver[Pg 424] the princes from the Tower, and to place young Edward on the throne. The usurper, it is said, then resolved on having his nephews put to death ere they could be used by his enemies to disturb his reign. With this view, while at Gloucester, Richard dispatched a messenger, named John Green, to Brackenbury, with instructions to make away with the princes; but Brackenbury, though elevated to office by Richard, declared that he must decline the commission.

Richard was at Warwick when this answer reached him; and, on hearing that Brackenbury was a man who entertained scruples, he exclaimed, with astonishment, "By St. Paul, whom then may we trust?" He was determined, however, that the deed should be done, and, while musing over the matter, bethought him of his Master of the Horse, Sir James Tyrrel, who was in the next room. This man, a brother, it appears, of the knight of that name who fell with Warwick at Barnet, was turbulent in spirit, and so eager for preferment that, in order to make his fortune, he would shrink from no crime. When, therefore, summoned to the king's presence, he showed himself even readier to execute the murderous deed than Richard was to intrust him with the commission.

"Would you venture to kill one of my friends?" asked Richard.

[Pg 425]

"Yes, my lord," answered Tyrrel; "but I would rather kill two of your enemies."

"By St. Paul!" exclaimed Richard, "that is the very thing. I want to be free from dread of two mortal foes in the Tower."

"Open the gates to me," said Tyrrel, "and you will not need to fear them longer."

Richard, glad to have found a man capable of executing his commission, gave Tyrrel letters to Brackenbury, commanding that he should be intrusted with the custody of the Tower and of the princes for twenty-four hours. Armed with these letters, Tyrrel hied him to London; and, having freed Brackenbury for a while from the exercise of his official functions, he enlisted in his service a man named Miles Forrest, and a sturdy groom named James Dighton. With the aid of these ruffians, and the sole attendant of the princes, William Slaughter, whom chroniclers call "Black Will," and emphatically describe as a "bloody knave," Tyrrel prepared for the murderous deed.

On a summer night—such is the story so often told—the two princes were sleeping in an upper chamber of the Tower, in that part of the gloomy strong-hold still pointed out as "the Bloody Tower." Their only attendant was "Black Will;" but, as clasped in each other's arms they slept the sleep of boyhood, their very innocence seemed a protection.[Pg 426] While Tyrrel remained outside the door, Forrest and Dighton suddenly stole into the room, prepared to set about the work of murder. The spectacle presented would have melted any other than the hardest hearts; but Forrest and Dighton were so hardened as to be impervious to emotions of pity, and they proceeded to their task with a shocking brutality. Wrapping the boys tightly in the coverlet, they placed the pillows and feather bed over their mouths till they were stifled; and then, seeing that their innocent souls had departed, laid the bodies on the bed, and intimated to their employer that all was over.

Tyrrel, on hearing this, entered the room to see with his own eyes that the horrid commission had been faithfully executed. After satisfying himself on this point, the unworthy knight ordered the bodies of the murdered princes to be buried beneath the stair, and hastened back to inform the king that his nephews slept in Paradise.


[Pg 427]

CHAPTER XLVI.

A MOCK KING-MAKER.

Among the many men of high estate who aided Richard to usurp the English throne, none played a more conspicuous part than his rival in foppery, Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. No sooner, however, had the Protector been converted into a king than his confederate became malcontent and restlessly eager for change. The death of Warwick, the captivity of John de Vere, the extinction of the Mowbrays and Beauforts, had left the duke one of the most influential among English magnates then alive and at liberty; and, albeit destitute of prowess and intellect, he appears to have vainly imagined that he could exercise that kind of influence which had rendered Richard Neville so formidable. But, capable as Buckingham might have deemed himself of rivaling "The Stout Earl," who slept with his Montagu ancestors in the Abbey of Bisham, he had none of "the superb and more than regal pride" which rendered the descendant of Cospatrick averse to the gewgaws of royalty. The object of the duke's ambition, when he resolved to break with the usurper, appears to have been the crown which he had helped to place on Richard's head.

[Pg 428]

With his shallow brain full of ambitious ideas, and hardly deigning to conceal his discontent, Buckingham took leave of Richard. On leaving the court of Westminster, he turned his face toward his castle of Brecknock, and by the way regaled his fancy with splendid visions of crowns and sceptres.

It happened that, on the day before the coronation, when Richard released the confederates of Hastings from the Tower, he found John Morton, Bishop of Ely, decidedly hostile to his pretensions. Unable to gain the support of the prelate, but unwilling, on such an occasion, to appear harsh, Richard delivered him to Buckingham, to be sent to Brecknock and gently guarded in that castle. At Brecknock, musing over his experiences as parson of Blokesworth, his expedition to Towton Field, his exile to Verdun, and his promotion to the see of Ely by a Yorkist king, Buckingham met the bishop when he went thither awakened from his dream of royalty, but panting for enterprise, however quixotic. After so many exciting scenes—suppers at Northampton, orations at the Guildhall, deputations to Baynard's Castle, progresses through London, and coronation banquets at Westminster—the duke doubtless found Brecknock intolerably dull. Feeling the want of company, he threw himself in the bishop's way, and gradually surrendered himself to the fascination of the wily churchman's conversation.[Pg 429] The bishop, perceiving that envy was devouring the duke's heart, worked craftily upon his humor; and Buckingham, exposed to the influence of one of the most adroit politicians of the age, by degrees approached the subject which the bishop was anxious to discuss.

"I fantasied," such were the duke's words, "that if I list to take upon me the crown, now was the time, when this tyrant was detested of all men, and knowing not of any one that could pretend before me. In this imagination I rested two days at Tewkesbury. But, as I rode between Worcester and Bridgenorth, I met with the Lady Margaret, Countess of Richmond, now wife to the Lord Stanley, who is the daughter and sole heir of John, Duke of Somerset, my grandfather's elder brother (who was as clean out of my mind as if I had never seen her); so that she and her son, the Earl of Richmond, have, both of them, titles before mine; and then I clearly saw how I was deceived, whereupon I determined utterly to relinquish all such fantastical notions concerning the obtaining the crown myself."

The bishop listened eagerly, and doubtless felt much relieved at this announcement. He had soon more cause for gratification when Buckingham added, "I find there can be no better way to settle the crown than that the Earl of Richmond, very heir to[Pg 430] the house of Lancaster, should take to wife Lady Elizabeth, eldest daughter to King Edward, the very heir of the house of York, so that the two Roses may be united in one."

"Since by your grace's incomparable wisdom this noble conjunction is now moved," exclaimed the bishop, almost overcome with joy at the duke's hitting "the mark he had himself aimed at" in forming his projects, "it is in the next place necessary to consider what friends we shall first make privy to our intention."

"By my troth," said the duke, "we will begin with the Countess of Richmond—the earl's mother—who knows where he is in Brittany, and whether a captive or at large."

The conspiracy originated at Brecknock rapidly became formidable. Reginald Bray, a retainer of the Countess of Richmond, was employed to open the business to his mistress; and the countess, approving of the project, commissioned her physician, Dr. Lewis, to treat with Elizabeth Woodville in the sanctuary.

Elizabeth interposed no obstacle to a project which promised her daughter a throne; and Bray, on finding that the negotiation had proved successful, was enabled to draw many men of high rank into the conspiracy. John, Lord Welles, true like his ancestors to the Red Rose, prepared to draw his[Pg 431] sword for Lancaster. Peter Courtenay, Bishop of Exeter, and his brother Sir Edward, a man remarkable for his elegance and destined to wed King Edward's daughter Katherine, undertook to raise the inhabitants of the western counties. Dorset, escaping from the sanctuary, repaired to Yorkshire, trusting to rouse the men of the north against the usurper.

Buckingham meanwhile remained at Brecknock, gathering the Welsh to his standard, and dreaming, perhaps, of entering London as Warwick had entered London thirteen years earlier. The duke, indeed, seems to have had no conception of the hazard to which he was exposing himself. He had been so flattered that he believed himself hedged by the nobility of his name. He had not the elevation of soul to dream of a Barnet, and he had too much vanity to entertain a prophetic vision of the crowded market-place, the scaffold, and the block, which, with the headsmen, awaited unsuccessful rebellion.


[Pg 432]

CHAPTER XLVII.

THE COMING MAN.

At the time when Richard usurped the English throne, a young Welshman was residing at Vannes, in Brittany. His age was thirty; his stature below the middle height; his complexion fair; his eyes gray; his hair yellow; and his countenance would have been pleasing but for an expression indicative of cunning and hypocrisy. It was Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, grandson of Owen Tudor, and sole heir of his mother, Margaret Beaufort, granddaughter of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford.

While passing his time at Vannes, Richmond was one day startled by the arrival of messengers with intelligence that a conspiracy had been formed at Brecknock to place him on the English throne, and give him in marriage a young woman who belonged to the house of York, which he had detested from his cradle, and who, moreover, had the disadvantage of being considered illegitimate. Richmond does not appear to have received the proposals with enthusiasm, and matters might never have been brought to a satisfactory issue but for the arrival of the[Pg 433] Bishop of Ely. The prelate, by his diplomacy, however, removed all obstacles, and the Duke of Brittany, on being consulted, promised to aid the enterprise.

At that period, Dr. Thomas Hutton, a man of intellect and perception, was in Brittany as English embassador, ostensibly to ascertain whether or not Duke Francis gave any countenance to the Woodvilles, but, doubtless, with secret instructions to defeat the machinations of the exiles at Vannes. Hutton, who had an eye to see and a brain to comprehend, soon became aware of Buckingham's plot, and endeavored to persuade the Duke of Brittany to detain Richmond. But, when the duke, who was already committed, declined to interfere, the embassador sent such intelligence to England as enabled Richard to form a clear notion of the conspiracy formed to hurl him from the throne.

Nevertheless, Richmond, with forty ships and five thousand Bretons, sailed from St. Malo. But his voyage was the reverse of prosperous; and on the very evening when the adventurers put to sea a violent tempest dispersed the fleet. Only the ship which carried Richmond, attended by a single bark, held on her course, and reached the mouth of Poole Harbor, on the coast of Dorset.

And now the Welsh earl had startling proof of Hutton's vigilance. On approaching the English[Pg 434] coast, Richmond perceived crowds of armed men, and immediately suspected a snare. However, he sent a boat ashore to ascertain whether they were friends or foes, and his messengers returned with information that the soldiers were friends, waiting to escort him to Buckingham's camp. But Richmond, too cautious to land with so slender a force in an enemy's country, resolved on sailing back to St. Malo. The wind being favorable, Richmond soon came in sight of Normandy, and after a short stay on that coast he returned to Brittany.

Meanwhile, Buckingham's insurrection began, and in autumn Richmond was proclaimed king at various places in England. At the same time, the duke, at the head of a large body of Welshmen, marched from his castle and moved toward the Severn, his first object being to join the Courtenays.

Matters immediately assumed a gloomy aspect; and Buckingham found that heading an insurgent army was less agreeable than dancing with princesses at Windsor, or displaying his gorgeous attire before the citizens of London. While he was blundering along the right bank of the Severn in search of a ford, autumnal rains rendered every ford impassable; and the river, rapidly overflowing its banks, inundated the country around. A scene replete with horrors was the consequence. Houses[Pg 435] were overthrown; men were drowned in their beds; children were carried about swimming in cradles; and beasts of burden and beasts of prey were drowned in the fields and on the hills. Such a flood had never been experienced within the memory of man; and, for centuries after, it was remembered along the banks of the Severn as "the Duke of Buckingham's water."

Buckingham was rudely awakened from his delusions. The flooded river and broken bridges created difficulties with which he could not cope. His enterprise—from the beginning never very promising—became utterly hopeless; and the Welshmen, losing heart and finding no provision made for their subsistence, turned their thoughts affectionately to the rude homes and the rude fare they had left behind. The result soon appeared. The Celtic warriors pretended to regard the flood as a sign that the insurrection was displeasing to Heaven, deserted their standards in crowds, and, without exception, returned to their mountains.

Buckingham now lost courage; and, while his confederates—Dorset, the Courtenays, Lord Welles, Sir William Brandon, and Sir John Cheyney—escaped to Richmond in Brittany, the duke fled to Shrewsbury, and took refuge in the house of one of his retainers, named Humphrey Bannister. Tempted by the reward offered for Buckingham's apprehension,[Pg 436] Bannister betrayed his master; and the duke, having been conveyed to Salisbury, was beheaded, without trial, in the market-place.

When the conspiracy of Brecknock had been crushed, Richard summoned a Parliament, which declared him lawful sovereign, entailed the crown on his son, and passed a bill of attainder against those who had taken part in Buckingham's attempt at king-making. Nevertheless, Richard did not feel secure. The dread of an invasion, and of his enemies uniting Richmond and Elizabeth, kept the usurper uneasy, and he set himself boldly to the scheme of getting both the Welsh earl and the English princess in his power. The persons who could aid him in this were Peter Landois and Elizabeth Woodville.

The Duke of Brittany now reigned no longer save in name, and Peter Landois—son of a tailor—ruled the province with more than ducal power. Peter, though elevated to so high a position, was not proof to the temptation of a bribe; and Richard, by means of gold, converted him from a friend to an enemy of Richmond, and obtained his promise to send the Welsh earl a prisoner into England.

With Elizabeth Woodville Richard was equally successful. That lady, weary of the sanctuary, not only listened to his proposals, but went with her daughters to court, where Elizabeth, the eldest, was[Pg 437] treated with the utmost distinction. Richard is supposed to have intended to match the princess with his son, a boy of eleven, but the death of the prince at Middleham defeated this plan for reconciling conflicting claims.

No sooner, however, had Richard recovered from the grief caused by the death of his son, than he formed a new scheme for keeping Elizabeth in his family. His queen, the Anne Neville of other days, was in feeble health; and Richard, under the impression that she could not live long, determined to obtain a dispensation from Rome, and marry the princess.

Neither mother nor daughter appear to have objected to this scandalous project. Elizabeth Woodville wrote to the Marquis of Dorset to abandon Richmond's cause, as she had formed a better plan for her family; and Elizabeth of York, at the instigation of her mother, no doubt, wrote to Sir John Howard, now Duke of Norfolk, expressing her surprise that the queen should be so long in dying.

At length, in March, 1485, Anne Neville breathed her last, and Richard consulted Catesby and Ratcliffe as to the policy of espousing Elizabeth. Both protested against the project, declaring that such a marriage would shock both clergy and populace, and would, moreover, alienate the men of the north, hitherto so faithful to Richard as the husband of[Pg 438] Lord Warwick's daughter. Richard, convinced, banished all thought of marrying Elizabeth; and, having sent her for security to the Castle of Sheriff Hutton, he prepared to encounter the coming man.


[Pg 439]

CHAPTER XLVIII.

FROM BRITTANY TO BOSWORTH.

On Christmas day, 1483, a memorable scene was enacted in the capital of Brittany. On that day, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, appeared in the Cathedral of Rennes; before the high altar, and in the presence of the Marquis of Dorset and many other exiles the Welsh earl swore, in the event of being placed on the English throne, to espouse Elizabeth of York, and thereupon the marquis, with the other lords and knights, did him homage as to their sovereign. On the same day Richmond and the English exiles took the sacrament, and bound themselves by oath never to desist from making war against King Richard till they accomplished his destruction or his dethronement.

Within twelve months after this solemn ceremony, and while Richmond was musing over his prospects, his mother's chaplain one day arrived with a message to the effect that the Welsh earl was no longer safe in Brittany; and, after considering the matter, Richmond resolved upon an escape, and prepared to be gone. With this view he announced his intention to visit a friend in a neighboring village, and, without[Pg 440] delay, mounted his horse as if to proceed on the way thither. After riding five miles, however, he entered a wood, and hastily exchanged clothes with one of his servants. Having assumed the character of a valet, Richmond again mounted, and traveling by by-paths without halting, save to bait the horses, he reached Angers, and, accompanied by the exiled lords, pursued his way to the court of France.

Events had recently occurred at the French court which secured Richmond a favorable reception. In the summer of 1483, Louis the Crafty had drawn his last breath, his son Charles then being a boy of thirteen. A struggle for power began between the young king's sister Anne, wife of the Sire de Beaujieu, and Louis, Duke of Orleans, heir-presumptive to the throne. Orleans, it seems, had formed an alliance with Richard; and Anne, from considerations of policy, determined to assist Richmond.

At Paris, therefore, Richmond was received with distinction; and, ere long, Anne, in the young king's name, agreed to furnish him with money and men to undertake an expedition against the King of England. Richmond then commenced preparations for the great adventure.

Matters, however, did not go quite smoothly; and Dorset, despairing, resolved to avail himself of Elizabeth Woodville's invitation; and, with this view, the marquis, who, though young, appears to have[Pg 441] been false and calculating as his mother, forgot his oath in the Cathedral of Rennes, and left Paris secretly by night. His disappearance caused some consternation; for, though in most respects a man of arms would have been a greater loss, he was possessed of information which, conveyed to Richard, would have ruined every thing. Humphrey Cheyney, one of Sir John's brothers, was therefore dispatched in pursuit, and succeeded in bringing the renegade back to Paris.

Ere the escape of the marquis, Richmond had been joined by an Englishman whose presence lent dignity to the enterprise, and would have more than compensated for the loss of five hundred Dorsets.

A long and weary captivity, during which his only son had died in the Tower, and his wife lived by needle-work, had not broken the spirit of Oxford's earl. John De Vere was still ready for adventure; and no sooner did he learn that the partisans of the Red Rose were in motion, than, becoming eager to leave Hammes, he tried his eloquence on James Blount, captain of the fortress. Oxford's success was more signal than he anticipated. Won, and touched with admiration at the degree of courage that animated the earl after so long a captivity, Blount not only consented to set Oxford at liberty, but offered to accompany him to Richmond, and place the fortress at the adventurer's service. They[Pg 442] went; and Richmond was delighted to have such a castle as Hammes at his disposal, and such a patrician as John De Vere at his right hand.

All that could be done in Paris having been accomplished, Richmond put Dorset in pledge for the money he had borrowed, and left the court of Paris for Harfleur. Having made all preparations, he and his English friends embarked, with a few pieces of artillery and about three thousand men, collected from the jails and hospitals of Normandy and Brittany, and described by Comines as "the loosest and most profligate fellows of all the country." On the last day of July, 1485—it was a Sunday—the armament, leaving the mouth of the Seine, put to sea, and Richmond ordered the mariners to steer for Wales. The voyage was free from such disasters as attended Richmond's former expedition; and, after having been six days at sea, the adventurers sailed safely into Milford Haven. At the grand national harbor, which gives importance to that part of South Wales, Richmond debarked his soldiers without challenge.

On the morning of Sunday, the 21st of August, about three weeks after his landing, Richmond, having marched from Milford Haven without a check, encamped in Leicestershire at a place then known in the locality as Whitemoors, and erected his standard on the margin of a rivulet now known in the locality[Pg 443] as the Tweed. To the north of Richmond's camp was a morass, and beyond the morass a spacious plain nearly surrounded by hills. At the farthest verge of these hills, about three miles north from the camp, but concealed from view by the elevated ground that intervened, was a little town, to which the inhabitants of that part of Leicestershire were long in the habit of repairing weekly to market. Since that time, however, the name of that market-town has become famous as the scene of a great battle, which destroyed a dynasty and overturned a throne. It was Bosworth.


[Pg 444]

CHAPTER XLIX.

RICHARD BEFORE BOSWORTH.

While Oxford was leaving Hammes, and Richmond was at Paris maturing his projects, and Reginald Bray was carrying messages from the English malcontents to the Welsh earl, the king appears to have been unaware of the magnitude of his danger.

Richard was not, however, the man to be surprised by armed foemen in the recesses of a palace. No sooner did he hear of an armament at the mouth of the Seine, than Lord Lovel was stationed at Southampton, Sir John Savage commissioned to guard the coasts of Cheshire, and Rice ap Thomas intrusted with the defense of Wales. At the same time, Richard issued a proclamation, describing Richmond as "one Henry Tudor, descended of bastard blood both by father's and mother's side;" who could have no claim to the crown but by conquest; who had agreed to give up Calais to France; and who intended to subvert the ancient laws and liberties of England.

Having thus endeavored to excite the patriotism of the populace, Richard, about midsummer, set up his standard at Nottingham, and around it, with the[Pg 445] Earl of Northumberland at their head, came the men of the north in thousands. While keeping his state in Nottingham Castle, Richard heard of Richmond's landing at Milford Haven, and soon after learned, with indignation, that Rice ap Thomas had proved false; that Sir Gilbert Talbot, with two thousand retainers of his nephew, the young Earl of Shrewsbury, had joined the invaders; that, after leaving Shrewsbury, Richmond had pursued his way through Newport to Stafford, and from Stafford to Lichfield, and that men were rapidly gathering to his standard. Vowing vengeance, the king issued orders that his army should forthwith march southward to Leicester.

Meanwhile, many of the lords whom Richard had summoned did not appear; and Lord Stanley, feeling that he, as husband of the Countess of Richmond, was peculiarly liable to suspicion, sent to say that sickness alone kept him from his sovereign's side at such a crisis. But this apology did not prove satisfactory; and Richard having Stanley's son, Lord Strange, in the camp, ordered him to be secured, and made it understood that the son's life depended on the sire's loyalty.

It was the evening of Tuesday, the 16th of August, when Richard, mounted on a tall white charger, environed by his guard and followed by his infantry, entered Leicester; and as the castle was too much[Pg 446] dilapidated to accommodate a king, he was lodged in one of those antique edifices, half brick, half timber, that have gradually given way to modern buildings. In a room of this house, long known as "The old Blue Boar," Richard slept during his stay at Leicester on a remarkable bedstead of wood, which had a false bottom, and served him as a military chest. After the battle of Bosworth this strange piece of furniture was found to contain a large sum of money, and it was long preserved in Leicester as a memorial of King Richard's visit to that city.

While Richard was at Leicester, fighting men came in to his aid. There he was joined by John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, by Thomas, Earl of Surrey, by Lord Lovel, and by Sir Robert Brackenbury. But with them came farther tidings of desertion; for at Stony Stratford, Sir Walter Hungerford and Sir Thomas Bourchier, son of Sir Humphrey, who fell at Barnet, feeling that they were not trusted, deserted Brackenbury, and—much as they owed to Richard—went straight to Richmond's camp.

Nevertheless, the king's courage continued high; and on the morning of Sunday, the 21st, having, it would appear, been previously out of the city looking for his foes, he rode from Leicester toward Market Bosworth, in the hope of an early meeting. On the way, it was necessary for him to pass over Bow[Pg 447] Bridge, which crossed the Stoure on the west side of the town. Upon this bridge, according to tradition, was a stone of such height that, in riding by, Richard happened to strike it with his spur. An old woman, who was supposed to practice, in a humble way, the arts which the populace associated with the names of Friar Bungey and the Duchess of Bedford, thereupon shook her head, and on being asked what would be the king's fortune, she answered, "Where his spur struck, there shall his head be broken."

After marching about eight miles, Richard came in sight of Richmond's army, and encamped for the day near the Abbey of Miraville. In the evening, however, he moved forward to within a mile of the town of Bosworth, and posted his army strongly on Amyon Hill, an acclivity with a steep descent on all sides, but steepest toward the north, or Bosworth side, and least so toward the south, where, with a morass intervening, Richmond's army lay. Lord Stanley still remained at Stapleton. His brother, Sir William Stanley, had not yet arrived.

When that August day drew to a close, and darkness concealed the hostile armies from each other's view, Richard retired to rest. Repose, however, was not granted, so disturbed were his slumbers and so alarming his dreams; and at daybreak he had farther evidence of the spirit of treachery that prevailed[Pg 448] in his camp. During the night, Sir John Savage, Sir Simon Digby, and Sir Brian Sandford had gone over to Richmond. The desertion of Savage was of no slight consequence, for he was Lord Stanley's nephew, and he led the men of Cheshire.

Nor was the desertion of Savage, Digby, and Sandford the most alarming incident. A mysterious warning in rhyme, attached, during the night, to the tent of the new Duke of Norfolk,[16] seemed to intimate that the king's prospects were worse than they yet seemed; for still, to all appearance, Richard's army was comparatively formidable. It was not merely by Brackenbury, and by Catesby, Ratcliffe, and Lovel, whose names had been rendered familiar by Collingborn's rhyme, that the usurper found himself surrounded on that memorable morning. On the king's side, Northumberland still remained, somewhat reserved, perhaps, but raising no suspicion of the treachery of which he was about to be guilty. On the king's side, also, appeared John, Lord Zouche, and Walter Devereux, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, and Sir Gervase Clifton, albeit the son of the Lancastrian executed after Tewkesbury. And not the least conspicuous, decked out in the trappings of the Mowbrays, and reminding contemporaries of the jackass in the lion's skin, figured Sir[Pg 449] John Howard, for once in his life acting with honesty, and prepared to prove his gratitude for the dukedom he had long coveted.

All this time, however, the intentions of Lord Stanley were doubtful. Hitherto the wary baron had kept his counsel so well that even his own brother, who had come with three thousand men from Stafford, and encamped to the king's right, was unaware of his intentions.

When, however, the morning advanced, and the hostile armies prepared for battle, and Lord Stanley, moving slowly forward, posted his men midway between the two armies, Richard lost temper, and resolved to try the influence of a menace. He therefore sent a pursuivant-at-arms to command Lord Stanley's attendance, and to intimate that he had sworn by Christ's passion, in case of not being obeyed, to strike off Lord Strange's head. Lord Stanley, however, remained resolute. "If the king cut off Strange's head," said the grim baron, "I have more sons alive. He may do his pleasure; but to come to him I am not now determined." Enraged at this answer, Richard ordered Strange to be led forth to execution; but his advisers agreed that it was better to keep the prisoner till after the battle. "It was now," they said, "the time to fight, not to execute;" and Richard, perhaps thinking that, while the son's life hung in the balance, there was a chance[Pg 450] of the father repeating the part so well played at Bloreheath, placed Strange in the custody of his tent-keeper, and girded on his armor for a great struggle to retain the crown he had usurped.

And who can doubt that, in such an hour, other than selfish motives animated the last Plantagenet king? With all his faults, Richard was an Englishman, and a man of genius; and his patriotism and his pride must have been shocked at the possibility of the throne, from which the first and the third Edward had commanded the respect of Europe, becoming the perch of an adventurer, who would never have been heard of but for a Welsh soldier having made too elaborate a pirouette while enacting the part of court fool.


[Pg 451]

CHAPTER L.

BOSWORTH FIELD.

It was the morning of Monday, the 22d of August, 1485, when the Yorkist usurper and the Lancastrian adventurer mustered their forces on the field of Bosworth, and prepared for that conflict which decided the thirty years' War of the Roses.

On the eve of a struggle which subsequent events rendered so memorable, Richard was not quite himself. For days his temper had been frequently tried by news of desertion, and for nights his rest had been broken by dreams of disaster. Nevertheless, he prepared for battle with energy. The honor of leading the van, which was constituted of archers, flanked with cuirassiers, fell to the Duke of Norfolk, and his son the Earl of Surrey. The main battle, consisting of choice bill-men, empaled with pikes, and formed into a dense square, with wings of cavalry on either side, the king took under his own auspices. The rear-guard was under the command of Northumberland. Besides, Richard's artillery was the reverse of contemptible; and, altogether, he had little to fear save from the treachery of his adherents.

Richmond, meantime, growing uneasy in the presence[Pg 452] of a foe so redoubted, sent to ask Lord Stanley to come and assist him in marshaling his army. The answer of the Countess of Richmond's husband was not quite satisfactory to his step-son. Indeed, Stanley gave the messenger to understand that no aid need be expected from him till the armies joined battle, and he only committed himself so far as to advise that the onset should be made without delay.

Richmond was staggered at Stanley's answer. The Welsh earl's situation was indeed painful and perplexing. He knew that his army was scarcely half so numerous as the king's, and he could not but be conscious of his immeasurable inferiority as a general. Retreat, however, was impossible; and, after holding a council of war, Richmond resolved on fighting forthwith. This resolution having been arrived at, the Lancastrian army was set in order for battle. Oxford took the command of the van, which consisted principally of archers. Richmond—whose standard was borne by Sir William Brandon—undertook to command the main body; and in his rear, with a body of horsemen and some bills and pikes, was posted Jasper Tudor, whose age and experience, it was probably hoped, would compensate in some measure for his nephew's lack of military skill and prowess. Besides, Richmond's army had two wings. Of these one was commanded by Sir Gilbert Talbot, the other by Sir John Savage.

[Pg 453]

His preparations made, and his armor girded on except the helmet, Richmond, to encourage his army, rode from rank to rank, and many of the Lancastrian soldiers for the first time saw the man who represented himself as the heir of John of Gaunt. The aspect of the adventurer must have disappointed those who had pictured, in imagination, such a chief as the conqueror of Towton and Tewkesbury. Nature had denied Richmond kingly proportions; and his appearance, though not positively mean, was far from majestic; while his countenance wore an expression which indicated too clearly that tendency to knavery destined to be so rapidly developed.

After riding along his lines, Richmond halted, and from an elevated part of the field addressed to his army one of those battle-field orations which were in fashion at the period. Dealing with such topics as were most likely to inflame his partisans against the usurper, he was listened to with sympathy; and perceiving, as he pronounced the words, "Get this day, and be conquerors; lose the battle, and be slaves," that an impression had been produced, he added, "In the name of God, then, and of St. George, let every man advance his banner." At these words Sir William Brandon raised the Tudor's standard; the trumpets sounded an onset; and Richmond, keeping the morass to his right, led[Pg 454] the Lancastrians, with the sun on their backs, slowly up the ascent toward Amyon Hill.

Ere this, Richard had mounted his tall steed—the White Surrey of Shakspeare—ascended an eminence, since known as "Dickon's Mount," called his captains together, and addressed them as his "most faithful and assured friends." The speech, not unworthy of one whom his enemies confess to have been "a king jealous of the honor of England," elicited some degree of enthusiasm; but Richard must have sighed as he recalled to memory how enthusiastic, in comparison, had been the burst of sympathy which rose from Edward's soldiers on the field of Barnet. The bold usurper, however, appeared undismayed. "Let every one," he said in conclusion, "strike but one sure blow, and certainly the day will be ours. Wherefore, advance banners, sound trumpets; St. George be our aid; and God grant us victory!"

As the king concluded, and placed his helmet, with a crown of ornament, on his brow, the Yorkists raised a shout, sounded trumpets, and moved down the hill; and, with banners flying and plumes waving, the hostile armies came hand to hand.

The day opened not inauspiciously for Richard. His army would be little inferior to that of his adversaries even should Stanley join Richmond; and his position on Amyon Hill had been selected with[Pg 455] judgment. Moreover, to intimidate and outflank the foe, he had extended his van to an unusual length, and this artifice proved so far successful, at least, that Oxford was somewhat dismayed at the danger that threatened his scanty ranks.

Oxford, however, was a leader of extraordinary calibre. He had not, indeed, seen many fields, but to him Barnet had been worth thirty years of experience to men not gifted with the military genius which rendered the Anglo-Norman barons such formidable war-chiefs. Over the events of that disastrous day the earl may be supposed to have mused for twelve years in his prison at Hammes, and to have learned, in sadness and solitude, wholesome lessons for his guidance in the event of being again called to encounter the warriors of the White Rose. The day had now arrived, and John De Vere was resolved not to be outwitted either by "Jocky of Norfolk" or "Dickon his master."

No sooner did Oxford's men come to close encounter with those under Norfolk, than the earl saw that he was exposed to danger. Without loss of time, he issued orders that no soldier should move ten yards from his colors. Their leader's motive not being understood, the men hurriedly closed their ranks and ceased from fighting; and the enemy, suspicious of some stratagem, likewise drew back from the conflict. Oxford quickly availed himself[Pg 456] of this pause in the battle, and, placing his men in the form of a wedge, he made a furious attack on the foe. At the same time, Lord Stanley, who, when the armies moved, had placed himself on Richmond's right hand to oppose the front of the royal van, charged with ardor; and Norfolk would have been exposed to a danger similar to that from which Oxford had just been freed, if, while Oxford was forming the Lancastrian van into a wedge, Richard had not arrayed anew that of the Yorkists—placing thin lines in front, and supporting them by dense masses.

Both armies having thus been re-formed, proceeded with the battle. But it soon appeared that, however equal the antagonistic forces might be in number, the zeal was all on the side of the Red Rose. Moreover, Northumberland, who commanded the rear—one third of Richard's army—refrained from taking any part whatever in the conflict; and futile proved the king's expectation of aid from the potent northern earl.

The battle had not been long joined ere the field wore an aspect most unfavorable to Richard. Norfolk, indeed, fought resolutely in the van; but, outnumbered and hard-pressed by Oxford and Stanley, he was slowly but surely giving way; and the men composing the king's division exerted themselves faintly, and exhibited little of such enthusiasm as[Pg 457] might have carried them on to victory against superior numbers.

Amid the smoke of artillery and the roar of battle, Sir Robert Brackenbury and Sir Walter Hungerford met face to face.

"Traitor," exclaimed Brackenbury, "what caused you to desert me?"

"I will not answer you with words," said Hungerford, taking aim at the head of his ancient comrade.

The blow would have been fatal; but Brackenbury received its force on his shield, which was shivered in protecting its owner's head; and Hungerford, perceiving his antagonist's defenseless plight, chivalrously declared that they should fight on equal terms, and handed his own shield to a squire. The combat was then renewed, and both knights exerted their utmost strength. At length Brackenbury's helmet was battered to pieces, and his adversary's weapon inflicted a severe wound. "Spare his life, brave Hungerford," cried Sir Thomas Bourchier, coming up; "he was our friend, and he may be so again." But it was already too late to save the wounded knight. As Bourchier spoke, Brackenbury fell lifeless to the ground.

In another part of the field met Sir John Byron and Sir Gervase Clifton. The two knights were neighbors in the county of Nottingham, and, before[Pg 458] embracing opposite sides, had made a singular contract. Byron, who donned the Red Rose, agreed, in the event of Richmond being victor, to intercede for the heirs of Clifton; and Clifton, who assumed the White Rose, promised, in case of Richard's success, to exercise his utmost influence on behalf of Byron's family. Byron, seeing Clifton fall, instantly pressed forward to save him; and, sustaining his wounded friend on a shield, entreated him to surrender. Clifton opened his eyes, recognized his neighbor, and recalled their agreement to memory. "All is over with me," he said, faintly; "but remember your promise." Byron pressed the hand of Clifton as the Yorkist warrior expired, and he kept the promise so faithfully that Clifton's estates remained in possession of his children.

About this time Richard rode out of the battle, and dismounted to quench his thirst at a spring of water on Amyon Hill, now covered with a pyramid of rough stones, indicated by Dr. Parr's inscription in Roman letters, and pointed out to strangers as "King Richard's Well;" and Catesby and other of the usurper's friends, believing defeat inevitable, brought one of those fleet steeds which, on such occasions, seldom failed their riders.

"The field is lost, but the king can yet be saved," they said as the war-cries, reaching their ears through the roar of bombards and the din of battle, intimated[Pg 459] that Oxford and Stanley were overmatching the Howards, and that, ere long, the shout would be "Richmond and victory."

"Mount, my lord," said Catesby; "I hold it time for you to fly. Stanley's dints are so sore that against them can no man stand. Fly! Another day we may worship again."

"Fly!" exclaimed Richard. "By St. Paul, not one foot. I will either make an end of all battles this day, or finish my life on this field. I will die King of England."

His determination thus expressed, Richard mounted his charger, hastily closed his visor, and again faced the field. By this time it appeared that the day would be decided by the vans. Richard, not altogether willing to stake his crown on the generalship of the Howards, spurred from his right centre to see how the conflict went; and, at the same moment, Richmond, surrounded by his guard, left his main body, and rode forward to encourage the men under Oxford and Stanley. Thus it happened that the king and the Welsh earl came in sight of each other; and no sooner was Richard aware of Richmond being within reach, than the temptation to single out the hostile leader became too strong to be resisted.

And never during the battles of the Roses—neither in the mist at Barnet, nor in the sunshine at[Pg 460] Tewkesbury—had Richard made himself so formidable as in that hour. With his lance in rest, and followed by choice warriors, he dashed toward the spot where the banner borne by Sir William Brandon indicated Richmond's presence. The white war-steed, the gorgeous armor, the crown of ornament, rendered Richard conspicuous as he spurred forward, and fierce was the onset as he charged among the knights who clustered around the Lancastrian chief. Vain were all efforts to bar his progress. Richmond's standard was trampled in the dust; Sir William Brandon, pierced with a mortal wound, fell never more to rise; Sir John Cheyney, throwing his bulky form in Richard's path, was hurled from his horse; and the Welsh earl, all unused to the game of carnage, was in the utmost peril. His destruction, indeed, appeared inevitable. The Lancastrian warriors, however, spurred to the rescue, and shielded the adventurer's head from the usurper's hand.

But most doubtful now was the issue of the conflict. The desperate charge of Richard had created a panic among his foes, and there was some prospect of Richmond having to choose between dying bravely and flying cravenly, when a circumstance, not unexpected, changed the aspect of the field.

Sir William Stanley had hitherto remained a spectator of the fight. Having ever been a devoted[Pg 461] Yorkist, perhaps the gallant knight, hating Richard as he did, was not eager to draw the sword for Lancaster against a Yorkist, even though a usurper. When, however, Richard's triumph was likely to result from his inaction, Stanley came with a shout to Richmond's aid; and this accession of force to the Lancastrians so completely turned the scale, that no chance of victory remained for Richard, unless, indeed, the chief of the Percies should lead the tall Danes of the north to the rescue.

But Stanley charged on, and the conflict became a rout; and the Yorkist warriors, attacked with energy, gave way in a body; and, still, Northumberland maintained his position, and, having ordered his soldiers to throw down their weapons, stood motionless while fliers and pursuers swept by.

Lord Lovel and other Yorkists of name made their escape. But, as at Barnet and Tewkesbury, so also at Bosworth, men of high spirit disdained to fly or yield. John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, fighting in the van, redeemed a mean life by a not inglorious death; Walter, Lord Ferrers, died with courage, as he had lived with honor; and Sir Richard Ratcliffe partially wiped away his disgrace by falling bravely for the sovereign whom he had too faithfully served. Lord Surrey and Sir William Catesby were taken on the field. Northumberland quietly surrendered.

Richard now felt that he was face to face with his destiny; and, in the hour of defeat and despair,[Pg 462] he did not shrink from the fate he had defied. Indeed, the valor he displayed in his last moments excited admiration even in adversaries. Rising in his stirrups as he saw his standard-bearer cut down, and shouting loudly that he had been betrayed, the usurper spurred into the midst of his foes, and made his sword ring on helmet and shield. Not till unhorsed did he cease to fight desperately. Even then, his shield broken, his armor bruised, and the crown of ornament hewn from his helmet, Richard continued to struggle. At length, exhausted with fatigue, and pierced with many wounds, he died disdainfully, with the word "Treason" on his tongue.

Ere the warriors of the Red Rose had time to moralize over the fall of the last Plantagenet king, Richmond, unwounded in the dreadful scene with which the conflict closed, and feeling like a man saved from imminent peril of drowning, threw himself on his knees, and returned thanks to God for victory. Then he rose, and expressed gratitude to those who had aided him in his enterprise; and Reginald Bray, bringing Richard's crown from a bush, on which that ornament had been hung, handed it to Lord Stanley, and Stanley placed it on the victor's head; and the soldiers cried, "Long live Henry the Seventh;" and the monarchy of the Plantagenets ceased to exist.

[Pg 463]

THE LAST PLANTAGENET KING.
THE LAST PLANTAGENET KING.

[Pg 464]


[Pg 465]

CHAPTER LI.

AFTER BOSWORTH.

When the battle of Bosworth was over, and Richmond, with John De Vere, and Jasper of Pembroke, and the Stanleys, including Lord Strange, stood around the mangled corpse of Richard, the prisoners were brought before the victor. Among them appeared William Catesby, and the Earls of Surrey and Northumberland.

Northumberland was readily received into favor. Surrey, when asked how he durst bear arms for the usurper, answered, "If the Parliament of England set the crown upon a bush, I would fight for it." Richmond was softened by this speech, and Surrey was spared to fight for the Tudors at Flodden, and to wear the ducal coronet of the Mowbrays. Catesby, less fortunate than the two earls, was summarily executed. Dr. Hutton, who, according to tradition, was one of "the Huttons of that Ilk," sought safety north of the Tweed.

From Bosworth Richmond marched to Leicester, and thither, covered with blood and dust, hung across a horse, behind a pursuivant-at-arms, the feet[Pg 466] dangling on one side and the hands on the other, the body of King Richard was carried. As the mangled corpse was conveyed over Bow Bridge, the head dashed violently against the stone which Richard had, the day before, struck with his spur—"thus," say the old chroniclers, "fulfilling the prediction of the wise woman."

After being exposed to view in the Town Hall of Leicester, Richard's body was buried in the Grey Friars' Church, and Richmond slowly advanced toward London. At Hornsey Wood he was met and welcomed by the mayor and aldermen, all clad in violet. Having been escorted to St. Paul's, he returned thanks to God for his victory, and offered three standards upon the high altar.

After some delay, Richmond appointed the 30th of October, 1485, for his coronation; and on that day the old Archbishop of Canterbury anointed the adventurer, as two years earlier he had anointed the usurper. All the ancient ceremonies were observed; and Richmond availed himself of the occasion to elevate Lord Stanley to the Earldom of Derby, Sir Edward Courtenay to the Earldom of Devon, and Jasper Tudor to the Dukedom of Bedford—the old duchess, Elizabeth Woodville's mother, having gone to her account at the time when peace and prosperity surrounded the throne of her son-in-law, and when William Caxton was setting up his[Pg 467] printing-press under the patronage of the White Rose.[17]

A week after Richmond's coronation Parliament assembled at Westminster. Richard's adherents were declared traitors, while De Vere, De Roos, Beaumont, Welles, and others were restored; and the heir of the Cliffords, who had passed his youth in the garb of a shepherd, emerged at thirty from the fells of Cumberland, and lived to lead the men of the Craven to Flodden Field.

But of all who suffered during the Yorkist domination, no one was so harshly treated as the widow of "The Stout Earl," who fell on Gladsmuir Heath, fighting for the ancient rights and liberties of Englishmen. After having heard of Warwick's death, the countess took refuge in the sanctuary of Beaulieu, and there remained in poverty. On Richmond's accession, however, an Act of Parliament was passed to restore her manors. But this, it would seem, was done that she might convey them to the king, and only that of Sutton was allotted for her maintenance.

[Pg 468]

From the day when Edward, Prince of Wales, perished in his teens at Tewkesbury, Margaret of Anjou ceased to influence the controversy with which her name is inseparably associated.

Margaret lived several years after regaining her freedom; and, deprived of the crown which her accomplishments had won, the Lancastrian queen wandered sadly from place to place, as if driven by her perturbed spirit to seek something that was no longer to be found.

Tortured by avenging memory, embittered by unavailing regret, and weary of life, Margaret of Anjou summed up her experience of the world when she wrote in the breviary of her niece, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." At length, in August, 1480, the disconsolate queen, after reaching the age of twoscore and ten, breathed her last at Damprierre, and was buried by the side of her father in the Cathedral of Angers.


[Pg 469]

CHAPTER LII.

THE UNION OF THE TWO ROSES.

At the time of the battle of Bosworth the eldest daughter of Edward of York and Elizabeth Woodville was immured in the Castle of Sheriff Hutton, within the walls of which her cousin, Edward Plantagenet, was also secure. After Richmond's victory both were removed to London: Elizabeth of York by high and mighty dames, to be restored to the arms of her mother; Edward of Warwick by a band of hireling soldiers, to be delivered into the hands of a jailer and imprisoned in the Tower.[18]

It soon appeared that Richmond was not particularly eager to wed the Yorkist princess. He was not, however, to escape a marriage. When Parliament met, and the king sat on the throne, and the[Pg 470] Commons presented a grant of tonnage and poundage for life, they plainly requested that he would marry Elizabeth of York; and the lords, spiritual and temporal, bowed to indicate their concurrence in the prayer. Richmond, perceiving that there was no way by which to retreat, replied that he was ready and willing to take the princess to wife.

The marriage of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York was fixed for the 18th of January, 1486, and the ceremony was performed at Westminster. The primate, soon to be laid in his grave and succeeded by the Bishop of Ely, officiated on the occasion, and every thing went joyously. The knights and nobles of England exhibited their bravery at a grand tournament; the citizens of London feasted and danced; the populace sang songs and lighted bonfires; the claims of the King of Portugal, the heir of John of Gaunt, and the existence of Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick, the heir of Lionel of Clarence, were conveniently forgotten; and the marriage of a spurious Lancastrian prince and an illegitimate daughter of York was celebrated by poets and chroniclers as "The Union of the two Roses."

THE END.


FOOTNOTES.

[1] "Edward the First hath justly been styled the English Justinian. For, in his time, the law did receive so sudden a perfection, that Sir Matthew Hale does not scruple to affirm that more was done in the first thirteen years of his reign to settle and establish the distributive justice of the kingdom than in all the ages since that time put together.... It was from this period that the liberty of England began to rear its head."—Blackstone's Commentaries.

[2] "Lionel of Clarence married Elizabeth, daughter of William de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, and had a daughter, Philippa, wife of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March. John of Gaunt was thrice married. His first wife was Blanche, heiress of Lancaster, by whom he had a son, Henry the Fourth, and two daughters—Philippa, married to the King of Portugal, and Elizabeth, to John Holland, Duke of Exeter. His second wife was Constance, eldest daughter of Peter the Cruel, King of Castile, by whom he had a daughter, Katherine, married to Henry the Third, King of Castile. His third wife was Katherine Swynford, by whom he had two sons—Henry Beaufort, Cardinal of St. Eusebius and Bishop of Winchester, and John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, ancestor of the dukes who fought in the Wars of the Roses, and of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, mother of Henry the Seventh. But both the sons of Katherine Swynford were born before wedlock. Edmund of Langley espoused Isabel, second daughter of Peter the Cruel, and had two sons—Edward, Duke of York, who fell at Agincourt, and Richard, Earl of Cambridge, who married Anne Mortimer, daughter of the Earl of March, and left a son, Richard, Duke of York."—See Sandford's Genealogical History.

[3] A serious quarrel—destined to be fought out eight years later on Hexham Field—occurred about this date between the chief of the Beauforts and Warwick's younger brother, who, in 1461, became Lord Montagu. "It was not long after that dissension and unkindness fell between the young Duke of Somerset and Sir John Neville, son unto the Earl of Salisbury, being then both lodged within the city. Whereof the mayor being warned, ordained such watch and provision that if they had any thing stirred he was able to have subdued both parties, and to have put them in ward till he had known the king's pleasure. Whereof the friends of both parties being aware, labored such means that they agreed them for that time."—Fabyan's Chronicle.

[4] "But the earl's two sons—the one called Sir John Neville, and the other Sir Thomas—were sore wounded; which, slowly journeying into the north country, thinking there to repose themselves, were in their journey apprehended by the queen's friends, and conveyed to Chester. But their keepers delivered them shortly, or else the Marchmen had destroyed the jails. Such favor had the commons of Wales to the Duke of York's band and his affinity, that they could suffer no wrong to be done, nor evil word to be spoken of him or of his friends."—Hall's Union of the Families of Lancaster and York.

[5] "At that period, the men-at-arms, or heavy cavalry, went to battle in complete armor; each man carried a lance, sword, dagger, and occasionally a mace or battle-axe; his horse, also, was, to a certain extent, in armor. A considerable part of an English army consisted of archers, armed with long bows and arrows; and another part consisted of men armed with bills, pikes, pole-axes, glaives, and morris-pikes."—Brooke's Visits to Fields of Battle.

[6] "One of the greatest obstacles to the cause of the Red Rose, was the popular belief that the young prince was not Henry's son. Had that belief not been widely spread and firmly maintained, the lords who arbitrated between Henry VI. and Richard, Duke of York, in October, 1460, could scarcely have come to the resolution to set aside the Prince of Wales altogether, to accord Henry the crown for his life, and declare the Duke of York his heir."—Sir E. B. Lytton's Last of the Barons.

[7] "The chase," says Hall, "continued all night, and the most part of the next day; and ever the northern men, when they saw or perceived any advantage, returned again and fought with their enemies, to the great loss of both parties."

[8] "George Neville, brother to the great Earl of Warwick, at his installment into his archbishopric of York, made a prodigious feast to the nobility, chief clergy, and many gentry, wherein he spent 300 quarters of wheat, 330 tuns of ale, 104 tuns of wine, 1 pipe of spiced wine, 80 fat oxen, 6 wild bulls, 1004 sheep, 3000 hogs, 300 calves, 3000 geese, 3000 capons, 300 pigs, 100 peacocks, 200 cranes, 200 kids, 2000 chickens, 4000 pigeons, 4000 rabbits, 204 bittours, 4000 ducks, 400 herons, 200 pheasants, 500 partridges, 4000 woodcocks, 400 plovers, 100 curlews, 100 quails, 100 egrets, 200 rees, above 400 bucks, does, and roebucks, 5506 venison pasties, 5000 dishes of jelly, 6000 custards, 300 pikes, 300 breams, 8 seals, 4 porpoises, and 400 tarts. At this feast the Earl of Warwick was steward, the Lord Hastings comptroller, with many other noble officers, 1000 servitors, 62 cooks, 515 scullions."—Burton's Admirable Curiosities in England.

[9] "Herbert was not a little joyous of the king's letter, partly to deserve the king's liberality, which, of a mean gentleman, had promoted him to the estate of an earl, partly for the malice that he bare to the Earl of Warwick, being the sole obstacle (as he thought) why he obtained not the wardship of the Lord Bonville's daughter and heir for his eldest son."—Grafton's Chronicle.

[10] "The absence of the Earl of Warwick," says Hall, "made the common people daily more and more to long, and be desirous to have the sight of him, and presently to behold his personage. For they judged that the sun was clearly taken from the world when he was absent. In such high estimation, among the people, was his name, that neither no one man they had in so much honor, neither no one person they so much praised, or, to the clouds, so highly extolled. What shall I say? His only name sounded in every song, in the mouth of the common people, and his person was represented with great reverence when public plays or open triumphs should be showed or set forth abroad in the streets."

[11] "It is vain," says Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, "that some writers would seek to cleanse the memory of the learned nobleman from the stain of cruelty, by rhetorical remarks on the improbability that a cultivator of letters should be of a ruthless disposition. The general philosophy of this defense is erroneous. In ignorant ages, a man of superior acquirements is not necessarily made humane by the cultivation of his intellect; on the contrary, he too often learns to look upon the uneducated herd as things of another clay. Of this truth all history is pregnant."

[12] "On the 14th of February," says Fabyan, "the Duke of Exeter came to London, and on the 27th rode the Earl of Warwick through the city toward Dover for to have received Queen Margaret. But he was disappointed, for the wind was to her so contrary that she lay at the sea-side, tarrying for a convenient wind, from November till April. And so the said earl, when he had long tarried for her at the sea-side, was fain to return without speed of his purpose."

[13] "Of the death of this prince," says Fabyan, "divers tales were told; but the most common fame went, that he was sticked with a dagger by the hands of the Duke of Gloucester."

[14] "Sir John Arundel had long before been told, by some fortune-teller, he should be slain on the sands; wherefore, to avoid that destiny, he removed from Efford, near Stratton-on-the-Sands, where he dwelt, to Trerice, far off from the sea, yet by this misfortune fulfilled the prediction in another place."—Polwhele's History of Cornwall.

[15] "The most honorable part of Louis's treaty with Edward was the stipulation for the liberty of Queen Margaret.... Louis paid fifty thousand crowns for her ransom."—Hume's History.

[16]

"Jocky of Norfolk, be not too bold,
For Dickon, thy master, is bought and sold."

[17] When Margaret Plantagenet was married to Charles the Rash, Caxton accompanied that royal lady to her new home, and, while in her service in Flanders, learned the art of printing. Having returned to England, and been presented by Anthony Woodville to Edward of York, he, under the king's protection, set up his printing-press in the Almonry at Westminster.

[18] After a long and cruel captivity, Warwick was, in 1499, executed on Tower Hill, "for no other offense," says Dugdale, "than being the only male Plantagenet at that time living, and consequently the most rightful heir to the throne." Fuller, in his Worthies of England, says that "Henry, being of a new lineage and surname, knew full well how the nation hankered after the name of Plantagenet; which, as it did outsyllable Tudor in the mouths, so did it outvie it in the hearts of the English."


[Pg 471]

BOOKS BY THE ABBOTTS.


THE FRANCONIA STORIES.

By Jacob Abbott. In Ten Volumes. Beautifully Illustrated. 16mo, Cloth, 90 cents per Vol.; the set complete in case, $9 00.

1. Malleville.
2. Mary Bell.
3. Ellen Linn.
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6. Stuyvesant.
7. Agnes.
8. Mary Erskine.
9. Rodolphus.
10. Caroline.


MARCO PAUL SERIES.

Marco Paul's Voyages and Travels in the Pursuit of Knowledge. By Jacob Abbott. Beautifully Illustrated. Complete in 6 Volumes, 16mo, Cloth, 90 cents per Volume. Price of the set, in case, $5 40.

In New York.
On the Erie Canal.
In the Forests of Maine.
In Vermont.
In Boston.
At the Springfield Armory.


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Handie.
Rainbow's Journey.
The Three Pines.
Selling Lucky.
Up the River.


YOUNG CHRISTIAN SERIES.

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1. The Young Christian.
2. The Corner Stone.
3. The Way to Do Good.
4. Hoaryhead and M'Donner.

[Pg 472]


HARPER'S STORY BOOKS.

A Series of Narratives, Biographies, and Tales, for the Instruction and Entertainment of the Young. By Jacob Abbott. Embellished with more than One Thousand beautiful Engravings. Square 4to, complete in 12 large Volumes and 36 small ones.

"Harper's Story Books" can be obtained complete in Twelve Volumes, bound in blue and gold, each one containing Three Stories, for $21 00, or in Thirty-six thin Volumes, bound in crimson and gold, each containing One Story, for $32 40. The volumes may be had separately—the large ones at $1 75 each, the others at 90 cents each.

VOL. I.

BRUNO; or, Lessons of Fidelity, Patience, and Self-Denial Taught by a Dog.

WILLIE AND THE MORTGAGE: showing How Much may be Accomplished by a Boy.

THE STRAIT GATE; or, The Rule of Exclusion from Heaven.

VOL. II.

THE LITTLE LOUVRE; or, The Boys' and Girls' Picture-Gallery.

PRANK; or, The Philosophy of Tricks and Mischief.

EMMA; or, The Three Misfortunes of a Belle.

VOL. III.

VIRGINIA; or, A Little Light on a Very Dark Saying.

TIMBOO AND JOLIBA; or, The Art of Being Useful.

TIMBOO AND FANNY; or, The Art of Self-Instruction.

VOL. IV.

THE HARPER ESTABLISHMENT; or, How the Story Books are Made.

FRANKLIN, the Apprentice-Boy.

THE STUDIO; or, Illustrations of the Theory and Practice of Drawing, for Young Artists at Home.

VOL. V.

THE STORY OF ANCIENT HISTORY, from the Earliest Periods to the Fall of the Roman Empire.

THE STORY OF ENGLISH HISTORY, from the Earliest Periods to the American Revolution.

THE STORY OF AMERICAN HISTORY, from the Earliest Settlement of the Country to the Establishment of the Federal Constitution.

[Pg 473]

VOL. VI.

JOHN TRUE; or, The Christian Experience of an Honest Boy.

ELFRED; or, The Blind Boy and his Pictures.

THE MUSEUM; or, Curiosities Explained.

VOL. VII.

THE ENGINEER; or, How to Travel in the Woods.

RAMBLES AMONG THE ALPS.

THE THREE GOLD DOLLARS; or, An Account of the Adventures of Robin Green.

VOL. VIII.

THE GIBRALTAR GALLERY: being an Account of various Things both Curious and Useful.

THE ALCOVE: containing some Farther Account of Timboo, Mark, and Fanny.

DIALOGUES for the Amusement and Instruction of Young Persons.

VOL. IX.

THE GREAT ELM; or, Robin Green and Josiah Lane at School.

AUNT MARGARET; or, How John True kept his Resolutions.

VERNON; or, Conversations about Old Times in England.

VOL. X.

CARL AND JOCKO; or, The Adventures of the Little Italian Boy and his Monkey.

LAPSTONE; or, The Sailor turned Shoemaker.

ORKNEY, THE PEACEMAKER; or, The Various Ways of Settling Disputes.

VOL. XI.

JUDGE JUSTIN; or, The Little Court of Morningdale.

MINIGO; or, The Fairy of Cairnstone Abbey.

JASPER; or, The Spoiled Child Recovered.

VOL. XII.

CONGO; or, Jasper's Experience in Command.

VIOLA and her Little Brother Arno.

LITTLE PAUL; or, How to be Patient in Sickness and Pain.

Some of the Story Books are written particularly for girls, and some for boys, and the different Volumes are adapted to various ages, so that the work forms a Complete Library of Story Books for all the Children of the Family and the Sunday-School.


[Pg 474]

ABBOTTS' ILLUSTRATED HISTORIES.

Biographical Histories. By Jacob Abbott and John S. C. Abbott. The Volumes of this Series are printed and bound uniformly, and are embellished with numerous Engravings. 16mo, Cloth, $1 00 per volume. Price of the set (32 vols.), $32 00.

A series of volumes containing severally full accounts of the lives, characters, and exploits of the most distinguished sovereigns, potentates, and rulers that have been chiefly renowned among mankind, in the various ages of the world, from the earliest periods to the present day.

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The narratives are intended to be succinct and comprehensive, and are written in a very plain and simple style. They are, however, not juvenile in their character, nor intended exclusively for the young. The volumes are sufficiently large to allow each history to comprise all the leading facts in the life of the personage who is the subject of it, and thus to communicate all the information in respect to him which is necessary for the purposes of the general reader.

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[Pg 475]

CYRUS THE GREAT.
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XERXES.
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ROMULUS.
HANNIBAL.
PYRRHUS.
JULIUS CĆSAR.
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RICHARD I.
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MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.
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CHARLES I.
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MARIA ANTOINETTE.
MADAME ROLAND.
HENRY IV.
PETER THE GREAT.
GENGHIS KHAN.
KING PHILIP.
HERNANDO CORTEZ.
MARGARET OF ANJOU.
JOSEPH BONAPARTE.
QUEEN HORTENSE.
LOUIS XIV.
LOUIS PHILIPPE.


[Pg 476]

THE LITTLE LEARNER SERIES.

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LEARNING ABOUT RIGHT AND WRONG; or, Entertaining and Instructive Lessons for Young Children in respect to their Duty. 90 Engravings.


[Pg 477]

KINGS AND QUEENS; or, Life in the Palace: consisting of Historical Sketches of Josephine and Maria Louisa, Louis Philippe, Ferdinand of Austria, Nicholas, Isabella II., Leopold, Victoria, and Louis Napoleon. By John S. C. Abbott. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1 75.


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THE ROMANCE OF SPANISH HISTORY. By John S. C. Abbott. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $2 00.


THE TEACHER. Moral Influences Employed in the Instruction and Government of the Young. By Jacob Abbott. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1 75.


GENTLE MEASURES IN TRAINING THE YOUNG. Gentle Measures in the Management and Training of the Young; or, The Principles on which a Firm Parental Authority may be Established and Maintained without Violence or Anger, and the Right Development of the Moral and Mental Capacities be Promoted by Methods in Harmony with the Structure and the Characteristics of the Juvenile Mind. A Book for the Parents of Young Children. By Jacob Abbott. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1 75.


[Pg 478]

POPULAR HISTORIES

BY

JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.


HISTORY OF FREDERICK THE GREAT.

The History of Frederick the Second, called Frederick the Great. By John S. C. Abbott. Elegantly Illustrated. 8vo, Cloth, $5 00.


THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.

The French Revolution of 1789, as Viewed in the Light of Republican Institutions. By John S. C. Abbott. With 100 Engravings. 8vo, Cloth, $5 00.


NAPOLEON BONAPARTE.

The History of Napoleon Bonaparte. By John S. C. Abbott. With Maps, Woodcuts, and Portraits on Steel. 2 vols., 8vo, Cloth, $10 00.


NAPOLEON AT ST. HELENA.

Napoleon at St. Helena; or, Interesting Anecdotes and Remarkable Conversations of the Emperor during the Five and a Half Years of his Captivity. Collected from the Memorials of Las Casas, O'Meara, Montholon, Antommarchi, and others. By John S. C. Abbott. With Illustrations. 8vo, Cloth, $5 00.


[Pg 479]

SCIENCE FOR THE YOUNG.

By JACOB ABBOTT.

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS.


HEAT. 12mo, Cloth, $1 50.
LIGHT. 12mo, Cloth, $1 50.
WATER AND LAND. 12mo, Cloth, $1 50.
FORCE. 12mo, Cloth, $1 50.


Few men enjoy a wider or better earned popularity as a writer for the young than Jacob Abbott. His series of histories, and stories illustrative of moral truths, have furnished amusement and instruction to thousands. He has the knack of piquing and gratifying curiosity. In the book before us he shows his happy faculty of imparting useful information through the medium of a pleasant narrative, keeping alive the interest of the young reader, and fixing in his memory valuable truths.—Mercury, New Bedford, Mass.

Jacob Abbott is almost the only writer in the English language who knows how to combine real amusement with real instruction in such a manner that the eager young readers are quite as much interested in the useful knowledge he imparts as in the story which he makes so pleasant a medium of instruction.—Buffalo Commercial Advertiser.

* * * Mr. Abbott has avoided the errors so common with writers for popular effect, that of slurring over the difficulties of the subject through the desire of making it intelligible and attractive to unlearned readers. He never tampers with the truth of science, nor attempts to dodge the solution of a knotty problem behind a cloud of plausible illustrations.—N. Y. Tribune.


[Pg 480]

By JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.


CHILD AT HOME.

The Child at Home; or, the Principles of Filial Duty familiarly Illustrated. By John S. C. Abbott. Woodcuts. 16mo, Cloth, $1 00.

The duties and trials peculiar to the child are explained and illustrated in this volume in the same clear and attractive manner in which those of the mother are set forth in the "Mother at Home." These two works may be considered as forming a complete manual of filial and maternal relations.


MOTHER AT HOME.

The Mother at Home; or, the Principles of Maternal Duty familiarly Illustrated. By John S. C. Abbott. Engravings. 16mo, Cloth, $1 00.

This book treats of the important questions of maternal responsibility and authority; of the difficulties which the mother will experience, the errors to which she is liable, the methods and plans she should adopt; of the religious instruction which she should impart, and of the results which she may reasonably hope will follow her faithful and persevering exertions. These subjects are illustrated with the felicity characteristic of all the productions of the author.


PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY.

Practical Christianity. A Treatise specially designed for Young Men. By John S. C. Abbott. 16mo, Cloth, $1 00.

It is characterized by the simplicity of style and appositeness of illustration which make a book easily read and readily understood. It is designed to instruct and interest young men in the effectual truths of Christianity. It comes down to their plane of thought, and, in a genial, conversational way, strives to lead them to a life of godliness.—Watchman and Reflector.

It abounds in wise and practical suggestions.—N. Y. Commercial Advertiser.


TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES.

Page 19: duplicate "of" removed (seventh Charles of France)

Page 20: word "an" added (Never was an intriguer)

Page 38: note that there are two different men named Humphrey Stafford referenced in the text; the first was slain by Jack Cade and the second was the 1st Duke of Buckingham

Page 65: missing word "the" added (the Continent; and on)

Page 74: "Hans" changed to "Hanse" to match other instance in text (belonging to the Hanse Towns)

Page 74: "Westminter" changed to "Westminster" (the Council at Westminster)

Page 147: "posssessing" changed to "possessing" (worthy of possessing her)

Page 196: "vizor" changed to "visor" to match other instances in text (crevice of his visor)

Page 201: "kingmaker" changed to "king-maker" to match other instances in text (the king and the king-maker)

Page 226: duplicate quotation mark removed (said the king, "the nature)

Page 307: "neigboring" changed to "neighboring" (encamping in the neighboring fields)

Page 355: "God" not in small capitals in original text, and retained as such here (thanked be God)

Page 390: "state-craft" changed to "statecraft" to match other instances in text (his statecraft did not desert him)

Page 406: period changed to comma (a boy of ten,)

Page 415: "grand-daughter" changed to "granddaughter" to match other instances in text (Eleanor Talbot, granddaughter)

Page 440: "Elizbeth" changed to "Elizabeth" (Elizabeth Woodville's invitation)

Page 468: "neice" changed to "niece" (breviary of her niece)

Page 471: numbering for the volumes listed under THE FRANCONIA STORIES changed to bold for consistency

Page 472: missing word "and" added (12 large Volumes and 26 small ones)

Page 473: missing period added (Court of Morningdale.)

Page 474: "argest" changed to "largest" (largest and most influential)

Page 476: semicolon changed to colon (Learning to Read:)






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