Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 2, 1515-1518. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1864.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
The return-embassy from England.
French compliments to English appetites.
The embassy from France was followed by an embassy from England in return. It consisted of the earl of Worcester, West, bishop of Ely, Dokwra, prior of St. John's, and Sir Nicholas Vaux. (fn. 1) They reached Dover on 13th November, crossed to Calais the next day (Sunday), but, owing to a storm, had the misfortune to leave part of their train and their horses behind. On 27th they left for Boulogne, where they were received "in great triumph with shooting of guns," (fn. 2) and were lodged in the castle. On the 29th they were attended by La Fayette to Montreuil; thence to Abbeville on the 1st December. (fn. 3) Here the mayor and merchants of the town, after a solemn reception, presented them with three puncheons of wine. The bishop entertained them at his father's house; "where the old father, a very impotent old man, having no more use of reason than a child, met them in his gallery, and made them a right good supper." On the 3rd to Amiens; where, being Friday, the burgesses offered them "great carps, great pikes, trouts, barbels, crevisses, great eels, and four pun-cheons of wine." On Sunday they divided their company for straitness of lodging, agreeing to meet at Senlis on Tuesday. (fn. 4) They reached St. Denys on the 9th; (fn. 5) here the abbot sent them "right good plenty of wine;" and next day made them "a right good feast:"—for their new continental friends and allies seem to have been quite alive to the national infirmity. A league from Paris they were met by the bishop, and 100 gentlemen of the king's house. Then came the provost with "the merchants," and the courtiers in the faubourgs. As they passed along they were met by "divers gentlemen masked, some of whom rode amongst us, and looked upon every man as they rode, amongst whom we surely suppose the king himself was." Their audience was appointed on Sunday the 12th, at the palace; "where, in a very great chamber, appointed with blue hangings full of fleurs-de-lis, with the floor covered with the same, (fn. 6) and seats prepared round for the noblemen, as it was within your realm, (fn. 7) closed round about with rails, the king himself sate in a chair raised four steps from the ground, under a rich cloth of estate, with a pall of cloth of gold, and a cushion of the same under his feet." (fn. 8) The steps of the dais were covered with violet-coloured velvet powdered with fleurs-de-lis. Francis was dressed in a robe of cloth of silver, embroidered with flowers, and lined with herons' feathers. His doublet was cloth of gold. But on his head he wore only his ordinary cloth cap. On his right was the Roman legate, seated under a gold canopy, then the king of Navarre, with the dukes of Alençon, Bourbon and others; on the left, four Cardinals, the papal nuncio, and ambassadors, the Chevalier Duprat, and a crowd of bishops.
After all were duly seated, the English ambassadors made their appearance. They were conducted through the press by 200 gentlemen armed with battle-axes. (fn. 9) Worcester was dressed in a vest of crimson satin lined with sables, Vaux in cloth of gold lined with the same, the bishop of Ely in his rochet, the lord of St. John's in black satin. Then came twenty English gentlemen, superbly dressed in cloth of gold, with pendants in their bonnets, and massive gold chains round their necks and waists, studded with jewels. As they arrived at the middle of the platform, Francis descended from his seat, embraced them, and ordered them to be seated. Then West rose to speak, of course in Latin, the sole medium of communication on these occasions, and delivered himself not merely " with good emphasis and discretion," but, if Hall may be trusted, " with such a bold spirit that the Frenchmen much praised his audacity." (fn. 10) At the conclusion of the ceremony, the king rose, descended from his throne, and embraced all the English gentlemen, in acknowledgement of a similar compliment paid to the French gentlemen at Greenwich. That done, he withdrew to another chamber, accompanied by Worcester. To the earl he expressed his great satisfaction at the peace;—declared that "from henceforth he would repute himself and his subjects as Englishmen, and the king's Grace, our master and his subjects, as Frenchmen; and that it might so appear, he would endeavour himself to learn English." When Worcester presented his letters, partly written with the king's hand, Francis raised them to his lips with becoming reverence, read them and put them in his bosom, saying "that he had all the letters that ever his Grace had sent him in his own custody and keeping, and he would in like manner keep these." France had some right to be proud of the best-bred gentleman in Europe.
Francis takes his oath.
A ball at the Bastile.
On Tuesday the 14th the embassy proceeded to Notre Dame, where the Scotch guard "kept the room." Mass done, the legate advanced to the high altar, and gave a solemn benediction with plenary indulgence. Then the king advanced from his traverse, followed by the English commissioners. A cardinal held the book, the legate standing before him; whilst Francis signed the oath with his own hand. "Sire, ye have done a noble act to day," said the legate. "By my faith," replied the king, "I have done it with a good heart and good will." Then all went to dinner with the bishop of Paris, "who gave them a stately banquet served solely on gold plate;" after dinner, to the duke of Bourbon's to a supper, equally costly. The whole was concluded with an entertainment on the 22nd, at the Bastile, "a small fortress surrounded by very high walls, turrets, and a moat, constructed of yore as a bulwark to the city." It was now near mid-winter, and the weather stormy and rainy. But the French, never at a loss where taste and ingenuity are required, were as distinguished in displays of this kind then as they are now. (fn. 11) The inner courtyard of the Bastile was carefully laid over with smooth timber, and covered with an awning of blue canvas, setting weather and rain at defiance. The canvas was painted blue, to represent the heavens, and powdered with gilt stars and planets; the galleries were festooned with alternate strips of white and tawny, the royal colors. The floor was carpeted in the same manner. From the centre hung an immense chandelier, "throwing such a marvellous blaze of light on the starry ceiling as to rival the sun." A raised platform ran along the whole length of the apartment, carpeted like the hall, with benches all round, covered with gold brocade. Over-arching the platform was a latticed bower of box, ivy, and evergreens, from which roses and other flowers trailed. The king took his seat at the table on a high dais, covered with cloth of gold, placing the duchess of Alençon on his left, and next her the bishop of Ely. On his right was the papal legate, with the beautiful countess of Borromeo, daughter of Galeazzo Visconti; next her the earl of Worcester, with noblemen and ladies alternately. The gentlemen of the embassy dined at tables on the floor below the platform. Dancing commenced to the sound of trumpets and fifes, and lasted until nine, when supper was served on gold and silver dishes, each course being announced by a flourish of trumpets. The supper ended, different companies of maskers successively appeared in quaint costumes; and last of all the king, dressed in a long close-fitting vest of white satin, embroidered with gold, intended to represent Christ's robe, with compasses and dials, the meaning of which puzzled the spectators. Then dancing recommenced, and the whole was finished by ladies handing round to all the company confections and bon-bons on silver dishes. The entertainment is said to have cost the king of France more than 450,000 crowns. (fn. 12)
The revolution of the wheel.
The embassy returned. France was now the ally of England; but for that alliance it had made great concessions and sacrifices. It had purchased its own property from England at a heavy cost. It had paid dearly for a possession which England would not have retained at any price. It had agreed to desist from all interference in the affairs of Scotland, its most steady and ancient ally. The wings of its ambition were clipped. So bitter, and apparently so unpopular, had the military career of Francis proved to many of his subjects, that they welcomed the friendship of England with every demonstration of delight. The wheel had turned round, and Wolsey had fulfilled his promise. He had united the two nations. Once more England stood arbiter among the sovereigns of Europe;—without a blow; by the mere force of Wolsey's policy. His triumph was complete; his enemies had not a word to say.
Troubles in Scotland.
The internal policy of the country during the same period is, with one exception, of much less interest and importance. That exception relates to the flight of queen Margaret from Scotland, and her refuge in England, told in these pages with a minuteness that forms a striking contrast to the meagre and unsatisfactory narrative of Scotch historians in general. To follow the documents it will be necessary for the reader to bear in mind the following events.
By the death of the accomplished Alexander Stuart (fn. 13) on the field of Flodden, the metropolitan see of St. Andrew's fell vacant. Three competitors started up for the vacancy: Gawin Douglas, the translator of Virgil, supported by the influence of England, John Hepburn, prior of St. Andrew's, and Andrew Forman, bishop of Murray, whose name frequently occurs in this and in the previous volume. The bishop of Murray was higher in favour than either of his rivals at the Papal and the French courts. Julius II. had promised him a cardinalate. (fn. 14) Lewis XII. had created him archbishop of Bourges, and employed him as his mediator with the Pope. The claims of Hepburn were, in the first instance, espoused by Alexander Hume, Chamberlain of Scotland: subsequently Hume took part with Forman, and thus drew down upon himself the resentment of Hepburn. Even before the death of James IV. fierce dissensions had broken out among the hierarchy of that country; now, after their preponderance had been greatly augmented by the fatal destruction of the nobility at Flodden and the minority of James V., the power and rights of the crown were set at defiance. The Church presented a scene of rapine and disorder darker even than the rest of that dark kingdom. "Every man takes up abbies that may ... They tarry not whilk benefices be vacant; they take them or (i.e. before) they fall; for they tyne (lose) the virtue if they touch ground;" is the quaint and sarcastic remark of Inglis, Margaret's secretary. (fn. 15)
Margaret's second marriage.
Shuts herself up in Stirling castle.
Such was the state of things when Margaret, four months after the birth of her posthumous son, (fn. 16) and within a year of the death of James IV., (fn. 17) married her second husband, Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus, a handsome young man,—"vehementi quodam animi impetu concitata," remarks Leslie,—a remark which characterized the whole family in these affairs. She lost by her marriage the little remains of authority she had nominally retained over her proud and impetuous subjects;—a result to which she herself contributed by advancing the interests of her husband's relatives. James Beton, archbishop of Glasgow, exasperated at the loss of the chancellorship, threw himself immediately into opposition;—marched upon Edinburgh, and Margaret fled with Angus to Stirling. She was in great distress,—she had pawned her jewels, and lost her friends. Whether Henry ever contemplated making an offer of her hand during her widowhood to Lewis XII., as Dacre proposed, we have no means of deciding. It is not unlikely. When she was in England Wolsey was heard to say "that he would have resigned the Cardinal's hat, or lost a finger of his right hand, to have married her to the Emperor Maximilian." (fn. 18) Some sort of argument was in fact set up for that purpose. Scotland, it was pretended, was under an interdict at the time of her marriage, and so her union with Angus was null and void. (fn. 19) But in Margaret, as in Mary, Henry found a will as imperious as his own in matters of the heart. Where these Tudors set their affections there they gave their hands, regardless of all considerations but one; and from their resolutions, once taken, nothing could divert them. In this state of uncertainty she received a letter from Henry on 22nd November. (fn. 20) She was then at war with her refractory subjects. Hepburn had laid siege to the castle of St. Andrew's; she herself was daily expecting to be attacked in Stirling castle. Hume, the Chamberlain, "the post of this conspiration," usurped all authority, and treated her and her adherents as rebels. She desired Henry to send an army into Scotland, and keep, him well employed; from the rest she could defend herself till aid came from England. She begs to hear from her brother every month: "and gif my party adversary counterfeits ony letters in my name, or gif they compel me to write to you for concord, the subscription shall be but thus: Margaret R. na mare." (fn. 21) That would show she had written under compulsion.
Is taken to Edinburgh. Escapes a second time to Stirling.
The expected aid did not come; she was taken a few days after from Stirling to Edinburgh by her enemies, Arran and the Chamberlain; escaped with Angus on the 21st November; (fn. 22) threw herself again into Stirling, and was closely besieged by the Prior of St. Andrew's. So matters stood at the commencement of 1515. Both parties were now anxiously expecting the arrival of Albany. It had been part of the purpose of Suffolk and his fellows, in their embassy of congratulation, to prevent, if possible, the duke from receiving aid from France. In this they were unsuccessful. The design of Suffolk to marry the French queen placed him at once in a false position at the French court, and tied his hands. Francis and his ministers professed utter ignorance of any design upon the part of Albany to cross the sea. (fn. 23) There was no means of meeting such an allegation. The English ambassadors, however well convinced of the fact, had only uncertain rumors to oppose. The duke's steps were carefully dogged by English spies; the port from which he was to sail well known; and English vessels hovered about the passage to intercept him. (fn. 24) Francis himself, more young and confident than his ministers, made no concealment of his intentions. When Suffolk and the rest proposed to conclude the peace between the two crowns on condition that Francis should agree by a secret article not to send Albany to Scotland, he proudly refused. (fn. 25) The altercation (it was little less) lasted two hours, but the king's resolution remained unshaken: "He had promised the Scots to send Albany, and he could not now retract his promise with honour." They urged, "he was the most suspect person that could be sent, for he not only pre-tended to the crown of Scotland, but had been invited by their master's enemies." The only satisfaction they could obtain was a promise that Francis would undertake that the duke should do no injury to England; and if he failed to appease the disturbances in three or four months, he should be recalled. This promise, the king urged, had been made to the Scotch by Lewis XII., and therefore his successor was bound to perform it. (fn. 26)
His ministers, more wary, and conscious of the fact that Henry was already actively interposing in the affairs of Scotland, offered to stop Albany for three months, if Henry in the meantime would engage to give no aid to his sister but allow both parties in Scotland to settle their differences by themselves. The English replied: They had no authority to make such an agreement, and would not make it if they had; but if Francis sent the duke to aid one party, their master "would send another as big as he" to help his sister. The French said: England has already prepared ships which are now cruising on the coast; and as they cannot be intended against France, whose alliance England is now seeking, they must be intended against Scotland. The ambassadors replied, about that matter they knew nothing.
These remarks will explain a number of difficulties which have hitherto puzzled English and Scotch historians. It has appeared strange that in so critical a period Henry should have rendered such ineffectual aid to Margaret. Her messengers were all this time in England urging, in the strongest terms, a speedy and effective demonstration. That seemed the wisest policy. If it were only known that England was making preparations to advance to Margaret's relief, it would inspire her friends with confidence, and intimidate her foes. Neither the queen's life nor her husband's was safe in a country abandoned to furious civil strife, and never nice in shedding royal blood. In January, Hamilton set an ambush of 600 men to slay Angus as he was coming from Glasgow. Lennox had pounced upon Dumbarton. Every day the queen expected to be deprived of her children. She was surrounded by spies on all sides. "God send," she writes to her brother, "I were such a woman as might go with my bairns in mine arm, I trow I should not be long fra you." It was the same with all classes, high or low. As might be expected, when the chiefs quarrelled, every Scotchman, as a matter of course, with his keen appetite and canine sagacity for strife, was only too ready to share in the fray. "Ye know the use (fashion) of this country," says Sir James Inglis (fn. 27) more than three hundred years ago; "every man speaks of what he will without blame. There is na slander punished; the man hath ma words na (than) the master, and will not be content except he ken his master's counsel. There is na order among us." Yet no help came.
Albany in Scotland.
Equally, on the other side, Albany's inexplicable delay filled his followers with fear and perplexity. He did not leave St. Malo, where he had been hovering about for a month watching the white sails of the English cruisers, until the 18th May. The exact day of his disembarkation is not known; it was sedulously concealed. His first letter was addressed to Francis I., from Glasgow, May 22nd, (fn. 28) doubtless from the house of his great ally the archbishop there. But by that time Francis was out of ear-shot of English remonstrances. He had started on his expedition for Milan, and cared not to have his whereabouts known. Albany, at his arrival, threw himself into the arms of Hepburn, Margaret's most implacable enemy. The fiery pride of Hume was offended at this injudicious preference of his rival. He veered round to the queen's party; and Murray became indifferent.
By the comprehension of Scotland in the treaty with France, Henry was precluded from all overt acts of aggression on the kingdom of his nephew. Whatever was to be done, especially against Albany, could only be done by intrigues with Margaret, or continual raids upon the borders. For the latter some pretext was never long wanting. A hard, stern people, reckless of life—for property they had none,—familiarized from their cradles with bloodshed and robbery, nurtured among burning homesteads and smoking ricks—accustomed to look out on every bright moonlit night in the summer for the rapid moss-trooper swooping down with his black gangs on any spot recovered by a greener vegetation from the dreary waste—from sire to son inheriting blood which cried aloud for vengeance and throbbed in their veins for the wrongs of country and kinsmen,—they never waited to consider how far they might be violating the laws of treaties, or what amount of provocation justified retaliation. The implacable feuds of the two people had drawn a band of desolation of many miles in extent, from Berwick to Carlisle—so dreary, so desolate, that centuries of peaceful occupation have not yet sufficed entirely to obliterate its traces. Chief of the English Marches was Thomas lord Dacre, sometimes called lord Dacre of the North; fierce, imperious and indefatigable; not so fiery as Hotspur, but one to whom might be applied, more truly than to Hotspur himself, the exaggerated expression of prince Henry,—one that "would kill some six or seven dozen of Scots at breakfast, wash his hands, and say to his wife: 'Fie upon this quiet life, I want work.'" But Dacre, unlike Hotspur, was a man of great policy, habituated to all those arts of disguise and surprise which had been fostered by his border life. He was the person now appointed to carry out the designs of Henry against Scotland;—an everlasting thorn to prick the sides of Albany, and keep him in perpetual alarm.
His policy, to sow disaffection.
His first move was to disengage Hume, the Chamberlain, still further from his ancient friends, and set him up as a rival to the duke. (fn. 29) This was not difficult. Albany had been received at Edinburgh with acclamations. No better proof can be given of his great popularity than the unusual efforts made by Henry to detain him in France. At the meeting of the Scotch parliament on the 12th July, the sword was borne before him by the earl of Arran, without any regard to Margaret; a coronet was set upon his head by Angus and Argyle, and he was nominated Protector until the king reached the age of eighteen. Dacre had taken the precaution to despatch his brother Sir Christopher, like another invisible Até, to stir the blood of the disaffected lords, and prompt the neutrals to disaffection. It required very little art to crush the clusters of "ripe hate, like a wine;" or to note the way—
"It worked while each grew drunk:"
Albany resolved to obtain possession of the young princes.
but one art—and that was, not to seem to work in behalf of England, which the Scotch feared, hated, and suspected. Albany, who had little capacity for ruling, began unwisely by revenging past injuries, and striking at the adherents of Margaret. Lord Drummond, the grandfather of Angus, was sent to Blackness for maltreating a herald of Albany's a year before. Gawin Douglas was committed to the sea tower of St. Andrew's, for his English predilections. Eight lords were appointed to have the supervision of the young king, and four of them were sent to Margaret with an intimation to select three. Margaret was then at Stirling; on hearing of their approach she took the young king by the hand, then a child of two years old, and with her nurse carrying the other prince in her arms, posted herself in the gateway of the castle, attended by Angus, and resolutely waited the coming of the lords. The moment they were seen approaching within three yards of the gate, she commanded them to stand and deliver their message. They replied they had brought her a commission to deliver into their hands the king and his brother. At the instant the portcullis dropped; and Margaret refused all further parley, declaring that the castle was her own, and that by the will of her husband she was the guardian of his children. On the fifth day she offered to commit them to the care of three lords of her own nomination; but her proposition was refused, and Albany resolved to make himself master of the fortress. For this purpose he employed the services of her husband, Angus! (fn. 30)
The possession of the two princes was of the utmost importance; and Albany was determined not to be baffled. Stirling was strictly besieged by Lennox, Borthwick, Bothwell, and others, hereditary enemies of the Douglas. Angus was commanded on his allegiance to repair to Stirling, and assist in "keeping victuals from the queen and her party." This gratuitous cruelty and impolitic measure of the duke gave Dacre the opportunity he desired. He arranged for Angus and the Chamberlain to ride to Stirling with 60 horse and carry off the two princes. They managed to speak with Margaret, and smuggle in George Douglas, the earl's brother. Unfortunately sixteen of the party were lost as they endeavoured to steal away unperceived. But Dacre had accomplished one part of his purpose:—an irreconcileable feud sprung up between Albany and the Chamberlain.
Lays siege to Stirling Castle.
On Saturday, 4th August, Albany appeared before Stirling accompanied with 7,000 men and a park of artillery: among the number was the celebrated Mons Meg, now laid up in honorable inactivity in the castle at Edinburgh. It had been arranged by Margaret and her husband, that in the event of the duke assaulting the castle, Margaret should take the young king, and, placing him on the ramparts (fn. 31) in sight of the invaders, with a crown on his head and a sceptre in his hand, testify by this act that the war was directed against the king's own person. The formidable nature of Albany's preparation drove this and all thoughts of resistance out of the heads of the besieged. George Douglas with the rest fled, leaving Margaret and the young princes to their fate. In her distress she had no alternative except to surrender. She put the keys of the fortress into the young king's hands, and, descending with him to the gate, delivered them to the keeping of the duke; beseeching the regent, at the same time, to show favor to her children and her husband. (fn. 32) She was remanded to the castle, and closely watched by Albany's adherents.
Albany and the Humes.
So far Dacre had succeeded above his expectations in exasperating Margaret against the regent, and rendering all sincere reconciliation between them impossible. But the two princes had escaped the snare. His next device was to entice Albany to invade England, and thus by breaking the comprehension give Henry a just pretext for sending an army into Scotland. This was not easy; it might, however, be accomplished. By sheltering the disaffected nobles in the English marches, Albany might be provoked to make a sudden attempt to cross the borders and secure their persons. (fn. 33) No device seemed more available for that purpose than the feud between Albany and the Chamberlain; and as Hume had been warden of the marches for Scotland, this plan seemed the most feasible. If attacked by Albany he could readily retreat into the English borders; if he required ammunition, nothing was easier than to send it him from Berwick, or allow him to take it by a feint. Such was Dacre's suggestion; and it seems to have been acted on; (fn. 34) although it sometimes happened that those who had to carry out these plans did not understand them, and thought that Dacre was intriguing with Albany. Hume had a stronghold on the borders, named Fast castle, which appeared admirably adapted to the plot. It was victualled by Hume at the suggestion of Dacre, "meaning to do the duke all the annoyance he could, and take refuge in England when he could hold it no longer." (fn. 35) Alarmed at these intentions, Albany commanded Arran and Lennox to dislodge him. At the suggestion, doubtless of Dacre, Hume made a show of submission, and offered it to Albany if he would come and take it with a small band. On his appearing before the walls lady Hume refused to deliver it. (fn. 36) By Dacre's advice it was delivered at last to lord Fleming, but in so ruinous a condition as to render its possession worthless. (fn. 37) Hume had set it on fire, taken away the iron gates, unroofed all the houses and chambers, left "no thakke" or covering over any part, except only a vault, (fn. 38) where Fleming lay with a small company. Dissatisfied even with this destruction, Hume retook the castle, drove out Fleming, levelled the walls to the ground, and in the expressive language of the day, (fn. 39) "dammed up the well for evermore." Dacre might well boast he had got the Chamberlain into his power, and there was no probability of his reconciliation with the duke. "It is the interest of the Chamberlain to be true," he wrote to Sir Anthony Ughtred, captain of Berwick, who was mystified with this crooked policy; "I am aware of his movements, and cannot be beguiled." (fn. 40) In his desire for revenge, Hume, like the horse in the fable, had taken a new and rougher rider on his back. Six months before he was the most powerful noble in Scotland, now a houseless man and an exile. The arts of Dacre were prospering. He had prepared a bed of thorns for Albany. He was trailing round the regent an inextricable web of intrigue and faction, and was enchanted at the prospect.
Margaret arranges with Dacre an escape to England.
I return to Margaret, whom we left a prisoner, strictly watched, in Stirling castle. She had desired her brother to send her aid in the shape of an army: in his inability to comply with this request Henry invited her to take refuge in England. (fn. 41) Dacre was instructed to convey her safely into her brother's dominions from Douglas castle or any other place within ten miles this side of Stirling. Margaret alleged, in answer to this proposal, that she would rather follow it "than be the greatest lady in the world;" (fn. 42) but neither she, her husband, nor his uncle Gawin Douglas, could see how it was to be executed; for she was surrounded on all sides by spies, and all her communications were intercepted. She added a significant hint that in the event of no succours coming she should be compelled to submit to the duke, as she had no means of defending herself. (fn. 43) It is probable that neither Margaret nor her advisers approved of a flight to England, except as a desperate remedy. So long as they had hopes of maintaining themselves in Scotland, that was better than refuge in England, however honorable; refuge there involved the destruction of her party, and all her ex- pectations as queen. In vain Henry's agents endeavoured to combat these objections. (fn. 44) The capture of her two sons, and her own imprisonment at Stirling, had destroyed her hopes; and if Albany's letters and her own may be trusted, she had learned to acquiesce in her fate; or at least pretended so to do. She returned to Edinburgh in token of her satisfaction at the Regent's conduct; (fn. 45) she had even written to her brother, expressing a wish that she and Albany should continue in such a course that peace might be preserved between them; she expressed her approbation of the course taken by parliament in reference to the royal children; and as this letter was signed in the way she had arranged with Henry when he was to consider her writing as spontaneous, we must believe that these professions at the time were sincere. (fn. 46) She added at the close of the letter a very suspicious clause, that as she had not more than eight weeks to her time she intended to lie in at Linlithgow in twelve days. (fn. 47) The letter was dated from Edinburgh, August 20th. Apparently this was a preconcerted signal between herself and Dacre, to whom she wrote at the same time. By some contrivance the letter was not despatched until the end of the month.
She arrives at Harbottle, and gives birth to a daughter.
(fn. 48) On the 1st September, Dacre requested her to change Linlithgow for Blacater, near Berwick, when he promised to wait upon her. She wrote in reply by Sir Robert Carr, that Dacre did not comprehend her real position; she was kept in strict watch by Albany in Edinburgh, her friends were in ward, her revenues withheld. Escape was not easy. To follow Dacre's advice, and reach Blacater, she would feign sickness, go to Linlithgow with the earl her husband, and there take her chamber. She proposed to leave on the first or second night, accompanied only by her husband and four or five servants; the Chamberlain was to meet her with "40 hardy and well striking fellows," two or three miles from the town. It was suggested that, in the event of failure, he should set fire to some village, as if his intentions had been nothing more than a border raid, and then wait for a better opportunity. It was now the 7th of September, and Dacre was at Etall. The plot could not apparently be carried out so soon as was expected. Nearly a month slipped away, but on Sunday, September 30th, Margaret arrived at Harbottle; and the Sunday after, in the words of Dacre, was immediately "delivered of a fair young lady," christened the next day with such conveniences as they could muster. (fn. 49) This was the celebrated Margaret Douglas, afterwards married to the earl of Lennox. When her escape became known to Albany, he wrote to her the most urgent entreaties to return to Scotland, apologized for the part he had taken in reference to her children, and attributed the act entirely to the States. (fn. 50) If she would return to Scotland "to her gesine" he promised to restore everything in seven days, and take Angus into favor. It is needless to say that these offers were rejected with scorn. On the 10th she notified to him her delivery "of a Christian soul, being a young lady," (fn. 51) and demanded the governance of her children. The answer of the council of Scotland to this demand was extraordinary; still more as it was manifestly dictated by Albany. They told her that the governance of the realm expired with the death of her husband, and devolved upon the States; that Albany had been appointed by her consent; that she had forfeited the guardianship of her children by her second marriage; that in all temporal matters "the realm of Scotland has been immediately subject to Almighty God, not recognizing the Pope or any superior upon earth."
Albany kept in hot water by Dacre.
It was in vain that Albany employed threats and blandishments alternately. He wrote to queen Mary, (fn. 52) whom he had personally known in France, to her husband the duke of Suffolk, to Henry, and to Wolsey; (fn. 53) his intentions, he said, were studiously misrepresented, and Dacre—without mentioning his name—had kept the truth from the king's ears. Truth was not the thing wanted, least of all peace. It was Dacre's object to keep Albany in perpetual alarm; to throw over the borders the lawless troopers of Northumberland, Riddesdale, Tynedale, and Gillesland, and withdraw them the moment Albany appeared in force. By all the means his fertile brains could devise, he fomented the animosities of the nobles, especially of the Humes; he held out to them promises of munificent rewards from his master on condition that they should never make terms with Albany; and he took care, in his private correspondence with the duke, that Albany should be in no temper or condition to make advances. "They are resolved," he says, in a letter to the king, (fn. 54) "to annoy the duke, who is well weary from the continued spoiling, burning, and slaughter in Scotland." Dacre was indefatigable in these devices; an inimitable agent of mischief and destruction. In his hands the passions, the selfishness, the treachery of men were more desolating instruments than fire and sword for turning a fruitful land into a wilderness.
Margaret sent for to London. Too ill to travel.
Henry was desirous that Margaret should spend her Christmas in London, and take part in the pageantry of that season, (fn. 55) into which no one entered with greater zest than himself. But her delivery had been followed by a severe and protracted illness. From Harbottle she had been removed to Morpeth, to Dacre's intolerable expense, and was some days in accomplishing the journey. She was too feeble to bear the jolting of horses in the litter, and was carried the whole distance on the shoulders of Dacre's servants. Sir Christopher Garneys, whom Skelton the poet has made the subject of his bitterest invectives, was sent to visit her in December and carry her the king's presents. He gives an affecting picture of the queen and the woman, racked by excruciating pains, which could not extinguish the delight she took in the new dresses just arrived from London. "I think her," he says, (fn. 56) "one of the lowest-brought ladies with her great pain of sickness that I have seen, and escape. Her Grace hath such a pain in her right leg that these three weeks she may not endure to sit up while her bed is a-making; and when her Grace is removed it would pity any man's heart to hear the shrieks and cries that her Grace giveth." (fn. 57) Immediately she heard of the presents, she had herself borne in a chair out of her bedroom into the great chamber to feast her eyes on the rich stuffs her brother had sent her. "When she had seen everything," continues Garneys, "she bid the lord chamberlain (Hume, who had followed her to Morpeth) and the other gentlemen come in and look at them; exclaiming, with an air of triumph, 'So, my Lords, here ye may see that the king my brother hath not forgotten me, and that he would not I should die for lack of clothes!'" Garneys adds that she had a wonderful love of apparel, and had caused the gowns of cloth of gold and tinsen (tinsel) to be made against this term of Christmas, "and likes the fashion so well she will send for them and have them held before her once or twice a day to look at." She had already in the castle twenty-two gowns of cloth of silk and gold, and had sent to Edinburgh for more.
In this flutter of delight she was unconscious of the great loss which had befallen her. The duke of Rothesay, her favourite child, had died a few days before, on the 18th December. The news was known to Dacre, but no one dared break it to Margaret. She herself was too much occupied with her clothes to notice the anxious looks of her attendants. The Duke, by all accounts, was a beautiful and winning boy; and Margaret, who had not seen him since she left Edinburgh, was never tired of talking about him. "If it comes to her knowledge," says Garneys, "it will be fatal to her. These four or five days of her own mind it hath pleased her grace to show unto me how goodly a child her younger son is, and her grace praiseth him more than she doth the king her eldest son." (fn. 58) In such unobserved corners nature peeps out. No amount of brocade, no mountain heaps of political intrigue, could smother it entirely.
Her health restored. Sets forward.
Angus and Hume refuse to go with her.
Albany proposes to leave Scotland.
In April the Queen's health was re-established, and she started southward on her progress. The journey was not pressed upon her solely from motives of affection. Dacre was afraid that the resort of the Scotch nobles to Morpeth might produce some change in the Queen's inclinations, and possibly tempt her to an accommodation with Albany, who wrote frequently and made many professions. Dacre dictated her letters, and under such management there was no fear of their being too conciliatory. (fn. 59) On the 3rd May the king met her at Tottenham, and "the same day her Grace did ride behind Sir Thos. Parr through Cheapside, about six o'clock, to Baynard's castle." (fn. 60) She remained in England until June 1517, taking part in the court pageantry and adding lustre by her presence to those masks and ceremonials, on which, in the absence of more serious occupations, so much attention was then bestowed. Her necessities were pressing; from Henry she had no regular allowance, and no remittances from Scotland. (fn. 61) We find her urgently demanding of Wolsey 200l. for her own and her servants' wants at Christmas. (fn. 62) "I pray you heartily, my lord, put me off no longer, for the time is short; and if you will do so much for me at this time I pray send me word, for I will trouble you no more with my sending, for then I will speak to the king my brother, for I trust his grace will do so much for me." The king her son was in Scotland. Angus, her husband, and Hume, had left her on hearing her resolution to proceed southward. (fn. 63) Judging by the cautious terms of Dacre's letter, there had been a quarrel between them on this subject. They had no appetite for an honorable captivity in England, and from that moment were reconciled to Albany. No wonder Margaret was anxious to return and join her child and her husband. The preparations for a war with France facilitated her wishes. Ostensibly Albany was tired of Scotland, and desirous to leave. He professed the strongest wish for the two kingdoms to remain at peace, and even offered to visit Henry in England, provided he might have sufficient security. (fn. 64) This arrangement never took effect. The estates of Scotland refused to let Albany leave until their king was of age. (fn. 65) When Clarencieux urged him to give some proof of his sincerity, he took the herald's "hand betwixt his two hands, and swore by the faith "he owed unto God and by the faith of a gentleman,"—(a phrase he had apparently picked up from his familiarity with Francis I.,)—"that he would put himself in his most effectual "devoir to have his leave of the Scots to go to England; and were he not as well minded as any one, in condition he were ready to depart, to go on foot from Edinburgh to London, he would forsake his part in paradise, and give him, body and soul, to all the devils of hell; and further sware in like manner, upon a piece of the Holy Cross, and on divers other relics, which be in a tablet of gold hanging about his neck."
In March 1517, when by the treaty of Noyon all the European powers were in league with France, a truce was concluded between England and Scotland, and Margaret was allowed to return, on condition that she took no part in the administration. (fn. 66) She commenced her journey in May. (fn. 67) At her entry into York she was received by the earl of Northumberland. (fn. 68) On Whitsunday, 31st May, she dined at St. Mary's Abbey. On the 15th of the next month she entered Scotland. (fn. 69) Albany in the interval had crossed to France on the 8th, leaving as governors in his place the archbishops of St. Andrew and Glasgow, with the earls of Huntley, Angus, Argyle, and Arran. Magnus, who attended her and noticed her dejection, thought that she would rather have remained in England. He did the best to comfort and advise her; but she loitered on the borders, naturally reluctant when the time came to trust herself again to the stormy sea from which she had escaped so recently. "Her Grace," he adds, (fn. 70) "considereth now the honour of England, and the poverty and wretchedness of Scotland, which she did not afore, but in her opinion esteemed Scotland equal to England."
She was well received, but her authority was not restored, and her influence was less substantial than it was before. What could a woman do among such restless and imperious spirits, proud and defiant under all rule, still more under that of an English princess? The romantic chivalry towards women, sometimes carried to excess in the South, was scarcely known in Scotland. The Scotch nobility, uneducated as a body, and despising all arts and polite acquirements, spent their lives in endless feuds, devoting the little intellects they had to interminable quarrels, transmitted from sire to son with fatal and unimpaired fidelity. Never engaged in one common enterprise or continental war, no sense of unity as a nation, no national spirit existed among them. There was no centre, as in England, round which the restless and jarring elements might eventually concentrate and find harmony and repose at last: sovereigns to them were but mockery kings and queens of snow. One bond of union they had, and but one, the worst a people could have; and that was hatred; hatred the most intense for England, and, next to that, for one another. Happily the former continued strong enough and long enough to prevent the latter from running out into its fullest latitude of excess; and their border warfare, perhaps the most sanguinary that ever stained the annals of any people, had this one advantage, that it gave the Scotch aristocracy and their followers a common enemy, and something of a common interest, and so preserved the nation from utter desolation. However, it is not my business to write history, but to show the bearings of these new materials upon history; and I must conclude this portion of my preface with some remarks on the fate and conduct of the Homes, whose exploits have been so frequently mentioned in these pages.
When Margaret took her journey to London, Angus and Hume had left her in displeasure, to the extreme disgust of Dacre. Both returned to Scotland, and were reconciled to Albany. (fn. 71) From that moment the Chamberlain's fate is involved in obscurity. His mother, Lady Hume, (according to the partial statement of Margaret, which was in truth only a political manifesto drawn by Dacre,) had been taken from Coldstream by De la Bastie, placed "on a trotting horse in spite of her age," and carried to Dunbar castle, where she was kept "six weeks on brown store-bread and water." (fn. 72) The Chamberlain had been attained in parliament for the part he had taken in furthering Margaret's escape, and urging an invasion by England. But rumour reported that he had made his peace with the Duke, through the mediation of the archbishop of St. Andrew's (fn. 73) (Murray). Dacre writes to Wolsey on the 26th October, (fn. 74) but without a passing expression of regret, that the Master of Graystock would explain to him the order for the execution of Lord Hume and his brother. They had already been executed some days before this communication (fn. 75), and their heads had been set on "the town house at Edinburgh." (fn. 76) That the reconciliation with Albany was sincere on his part is obvious from Spinelly's letters. At the duke's recommendation Francis I. granted pensions to six of the Scotch noblemen who had hitherto been inclined to England, and the Chamberlain was one of that number. (fn. 77) As late as on the 29th August, we find from a letter of Clarencieux (fn. 78) to Wolsey, that Angus, Hume, and their party, still hung together, and were outwardly submissive to the duke. Hume's relative, David Hume of Wedderburn, (fn. 79) states positively that the Chamberlain was slain by Albany "under trust;"—an assertion not to be accepted without hesitation, considering the quarter from which it emanates. Whatever might be the cause, Hume was condemned by parliament. A traitor apparently on both sides, and studious only of revenge at any sacrifice, his fate was not regretted or condemned by his own people or by Englishmen. Neither Dacre nor his sovereign made any effort to save him.
The murder of La Bastie.
The clan of the Humes studied revenge. David Hume in despair seized the person of the French ambassador, (fn. 80) but at the bidding of Dacre reluctantly consented to let him go. George Hume took a more ample and speedy revenge. At the death of the Chamberlain, De la Bastie, the bravest and most accomplished knight in Scotland, had been appointed warden of the East Marches. On the 15th April 1517 (fn. 81) he was desired by Albany to visit Dacre, then at Naward, and demand the surrender of George Hume and others, according to the agreement lately made between the two nations. Dacre stated, in reply to this demand, that he did not know where George Hume and his brother were to be found. He thought they were in Scotland, but if they were in his borders he would do his best to take them. (fn. 82) On the 16th June, La Bastie was one of those who met Margaret on the borders, and welcomed her to Scotland. Towards the end of July (fn. 83) he was again with Dacre on the subject of these border disputes. This is the last time we hear of him alive. The Humes had been watching for an opportunity of revenge; at length, they contrived by a feint to draw out La Bastie, accompanied with a few followers, from the castle of Dunbar, attacked him in full force, and as his horse got entangled in a morass, (fn. 84) in his attempt to escape, slew him with great cruelty, cut off his head, which George Hume slung at his saddle-bow, and fixed it upon a pole in the town of Dunse. The Scotch historians date this murder on the 19th or 20th September. I think it must have been earlier, for the following reasons. Margaret had written to Dacre, desiring him, at the request of the laird of Wedderburn, to send her the prior of Coldingham and his brother George Hume, for now was the time for them to take her part. She was resolved, she told him, to have "all the rule, or there will be some trouble." It appears that, either on her own behalf, or, at the suggestion of Angus, she thought it possible, in the confusion which arose on the death of La Bastie, Albany's most important adherent, that she might make a dash at the crown, and regain her authority. It is clear too that she believed the two Humes, notwithstanding this murder, were sheltered and supported by Dacre, who naturally laid himself open to suspicion from the encouragement he had given to the Humes, and his adoption of an illegitimate son of the late Chamberlain. His reply indicates considerable annoyance, and is barely respectful. (fn. 85) He began by expressing his astonishment that she should write to him at the request of the laird of Wedderburn;—he knew nothing of the Humes, nor where they were. Then, referring to the murder of La Bastie, which strangely enough had not been openly mentioned in Margaret's letter, he expressed his belief that it was "of a sodendy." He warns Angus "not to lose himself in the taking of a light way with the said laird of Wedderburn," and to do nothing without the advice of his friends in Scotland;—expressions which can hardly bear any other construction than that Angus had meditated, with the help of the Humes, to obtain the government during Albany's absence, and in common with Margaret had imagined that the slaughter of La Bastie had been planned with a view to their interests, not without Dacre's cognizance.
The cause of the Humes was ruined for ever. Francis I. was then in secret communication with Wolsey for a stricter union between the two crowns; and on hearing of the death of his ambassador, he dictated an energetic remonstrance to the States of Scotland. (fn. 86) The States wrote word that nothing had ever grieved them more since the death of their late King. They had already taken measures for punishing the offenders before the receipt of his letters, and had summoned a parliament for that purpose:—all the Humes had been declared traitors; their lands and goods forfeited; one had been caught, hung, drawn, and quartered; the rest had fled to England, and were sheltered there in violation of the truce. A demand had been made for their surrender, which Henry had refused. Naturally Dacre was anxious to free himself from all suspicion of harbouring such delinquents.
England:—its contrast to Scotland.
Royal funds and expenditure.
Great was the contrast which England offered in this respect to the sister kingdom, and Margaret might well return to Scotland with a sigh. In England there was no trouble or dissension; there she was accustomed to behold a wealthy and obedient people, a submissive clergy, a court where nothing seemed to rule except an unbroken round of pleasure; splendid amusements, masques, decorations, jewellery, inlaid armour; cards and dice, ducats and crowns in great silver bowls, luxuries for which money was always forthcoming when needed. All these delights must have appeared to her bewildered imagination, in contrast to her own poverty as queen of Scotland, like the realization of Aladdin's wonderful lamp. I have stated before (fn. 87) that the king had the entire and exclusive control of the money paid into the Exchequer. He had nothing to do except sign a warrant to John Heron, the treasurer of the Chamber, and whatever sums were in the hands of the receivers of the revenue were instantly paid over to the king's use. There was no Admiralty to control the navy or regulate its expenses; no commander-in-chief or paymaster-general of the army. All such offices, or their modern substitutes, were combined in the king's person, and he regulated at his own will the finances connected with them. If ships were to be built, he built them out of his privy purse; if armies were to be raised, they were raised by the same means. The country was called upon for loans and subsidies, and the parliament determined on the amount; but it never presumed to regulate the expenditure of the money so collected, or even dictate how it should be applied. If the reader will turn to the remarkable document published at the end of this volume, entitled "The King's Book of Payments," he will see this subject more clearly at a glance than it could be explained to him by the most laborious description. On comparing the two years of war, 1512, 1513, followed by 1514, with three years of peace and subsidizing of foreign powers, like Maximilian and the Swiss, the account will be found to stand as follows: Sum total of all expenditure in 1512 was 286,269l.; in 1513 it rose to 699,714l.; in 1514 it declined to 155,757l.; in 1515, to 74,007l.; (fn. 88) in 1516 it rose again, from circumstances stated in the note, to 130,779l.; (fn. 89) but sunk in 1517 to 78,887l. (fn. 90) This extraordinary reduction of expenditure from the moment that Wolsey came into power is one of the most remarkable feats of his administration, and shows how entirely it has been misunderstood by modern historians. It must be remembered also that all the expenses of Tournay are included in these latter years, with the loans to queen Margaret, presents to ambassadors, and the establishment for princess Mary. The King too had acquired in the latter years a habit of helping himself to heavy sums, for his own use, without accounting for the mode of their expenditure. In May 1515 he took 3,000l., in August 3,000l., and again in December 6,000l.; in June 1516, 2,000l., and again in October 3,000l.; in March 1517, 3,000l.; in December 1518, 2,000l. (fn. 91) How these sums were employed it would be useless to speculate. They were received by Sir Wm. Compton, the chief gentleman of the king's bedchamber, "for the king's use," and formed no part of the regular expenses for the household, the entertainment of ambassadors, secret or public service money, all of which are entered at full. The sums disbursed for alms, jewellery, plate, arms, horses, saddlery, the tilt-yard, Christmas boxes, and new year's gifts, are also accounted for. In 1515 the money paid for silks and velvets, not including minor items, exceeded 5,000l., for plate and jewellery 1,500l.; in January 1515, for pearls, 566l.; in December 1516, for pearls and diamonds, 596l.; in October 1518, for sables, 290l. I can only infer, therefore, that the large sums mentioned above were laid out in personal luxuries or expenditure, of which the king and his attendants chose to give no detailed account. His presents to ambassadors were on a most magnificent scale. To the duke of Longueville, he gave in August 1514, 2,083l.; (fn. 92) to the prince of Castile's ambassadors in July 1517, 200l., and 560l. in plate in the September following; to the French king's gentlemen in October 800l., and 1,829l. in plate; to Cardinal Sion, in November 1518, 333l. 6s. 8d. There was the same love of splendor, and the same disregard of economy, shown in his amusements. (fn. 93) New year's gifts, revels at court, tournaments, masques, balls, and interludes form a considerable item in the royal expenditure. Of these many curious accounts will be found at the close of this volume. I can only afford space for two, and must apologize to my readers for entering into these minute details.
The first is a Christmas festivity held at Westminster in 1511. The writer makes no distinction between the antelope and the olyvant (elephant), as one of the supporters of the royal arms.
A Christmas joust.
On the 12 and 13 Feb., 2 Hen. VIII., a joust of honor was held by the King, with three aids, at Westminster. A forest was constructed within the house of Black Friars, Ludgate, 26 ft. long, 16 ft. broad, 9 ft. high, garnished with artificial "hawthorns, oaks, maples, hazels, birches, fern, broom and furze, with beasts and birds embossed of sundry fashion, with foresters sitting and going on the top of the same, and a castle in the said forest, with a maiden sitting thereby with a garland, and a lion of great stature and bigness, with an antelope of like proportion, after his kind, drawing the said pageant or forest, conducted with men in woodwoos' (fn. 94) apparel, and two maidens sitting on the said two beasts. In the which forest were four men of arms, riding, that issued out at times appointed; and on every of the four quarters of the forest were the arms of the four knights challengers. And for the second day were provided and made four rich pavilions, one crowned, the other three with balls of burnished gold.
For this pageant the following articles were required: 27 ft. of fine oak for mules and other beasts. 78 alder poles for the body of the forest and great beasts, and the closures of the hall door at Westminster, 10 bundles of crown paper for moulding beasts, the faces of the lion and antelope, &c.; 7 reams of white Geen paper, for lining the sarcenet that the leaves were made of, and for covering the rocks. 6 fir trees. 4 masts for enclosing the hall door. 1 lb. of Spanish brown for coloring the beasts. 1 lb. of orpiment. 2 doz. green schyng paper, for mixing with the ivy and the woodwos' heads and staves. 5 doz. of gold paper for the castle, and the body and legs of the lion. 1 lb. vermilion for the mouths of the lion and antelope, &c. Canvas of Normandy, 16 ells for the lion and olyvant; 9 ells for lining the 4 woodwos' apparel. 5 bushels of wheat flour, for paste. 4 st. neat's tallow. 56 doz. silver paper. 2 doz. embossed birds. 2,400 turned acorns and hazelnuts, 118 lbs. orsade for flossing and casing the lion, &c. Holly boughs, fennel stalks, broom stalks, &c. planted with sarcenet flowers and leaves. 6 doz. silk roses, wrought by the maiden into a garland, and delivered to the queen when the jousts began. 4 lbs. of iron wire for the lion's and olyvant's tails. 6 backs of tanned leather for the chains that the lion and the antelope drew the forest with. Gold for gilding the antelope's horns, crowns, &c. 3 coifs of Venice gold, for the maiden in the forest, and those that rode on the lion and the olyvant. 4 oz. Venice ribbon for girdles and the garland presented to the queen. Ivy for the woodwos' heads, belts, and staves. 4 vizors for the woodwos who conducted the forest. 3 lbs. of booellarmanyake (bole Armeniac). Green sarcenet, for the boughs of the forest, 26 ft. long, 16 ft. broad, and 9 ft. high, 153 yds.; lining a pavilion for the King, 42 yds.; for 12 hawthorns, 44 yds; 12 oaks, 44 yds.; 10 maples, 36 yds.; 12 hazels, 32 yds.; 10 birches, 32 yds.; 16 doz. fern roots and branches, 64 yds.; 50 broom stalks, 58 yds.; 16 furze bushes, 33 yds.; lining the maiden's sleeves, 2¾ yds.; total, 542 yds. Yellow sarcenet for broom and furze flowers, 22 yds. Russet sarcenet for the 4 woodwos' garments, shred like locks of hair or wool, 48 yds. Russet damask, spent by Edmund Skill, tailor, for kirtles of the maiden in the forest, and on the lion and "olyvant," 10 yds. Yellow damask for the maidens on the lion and "antlope," 10 yds. Blue velvet for a pavilion for the king, 36 yds. Blue and crimson damask for pavilions. 1 yd. of blue sarcenet for a banner in the forest. "Spent and employed on the said four pavilions for points to stay the hoops, which points were spent, stolen and wasted at the siege of Terouenne at the receiving of the Emperor, for the said pavilions did the king royal service to his honor." To Edmund Skill, for making the apparel for the maiden in the forest, those on the lion and the antelope (fn. 95) and the woodwos, 42s. 10d.
"Thys forrest or pageant after the usance had into Westmester gret Hall, and by the kynges gard and other gentyllmen rent, brokyn, and by fors karryed away, and the poor men that wer set to kep theyr heds brokyn two of them, and the remnant put ther from with foors, so that noon ther of byt the baar tymbyr cum near to the kynges ews nor stoor.
"The second day the 4 pavelyuns wer savyd to the kynges ews and profyd with meche payn.
"Md. That the kynges graas at hys town of Kales cummandyd me Rechard Gybson to kut oon of the sayd pavelyuns, and so yt was and maad an hangyng for an hows of tymbyr of Flandyrs werke. And at the seege of Tyrwyen the sayd hows was gevyn by the kynges graas to my Lord of Wynchester, with the saam hangyng so mad of the saam pavelyun."
The other belongs to 1516, and is as follows:
A classic interlude.
The king being at Eltham, Christmas 7 Hen. VIII., instructions were issued to Richard Gibson, by Mr. Wm. Cornish and the master of the revels, to prepare a castle of timber in the King's hall, garnished after such devices as shall ensue. Cornish and the children of the chapel also performed "the story of Troylous and Pandor richly apparelled, also Kallkas and Kryssyd apparelled like a widow of honour, in black sarcenet and other habiliments for such matter; Dyomed and the Greeks apparelled like men of war, according to the intent or purpose. After which comedy played and done, a herald cried and made an oy that three strange knights were come to do battle with [those] of the said castle; out [of] which issued three men of arms with punching spears, ready to do feats at the barriers, apparelled in white satin and green satin of Bruges, lined with green sarcenet and white sarcenet, and the satin cut thereon. To the said three men of arms entered other three men of arms with like weapons, and apparelled in slops of red sarcenet, and yellow sarcenet, and with spears made certain strokes; and after that done, with naked swords fought a fair battle of twelve strokes, and so departed of force. Then out of the castle issued a queen, and with her six ladies, with speeches after the device of Mr. Cornish; and after this done, seven minstrels apparelled in long garments, and bonnets to the same, of satin of Bruges, white and green, (fn. 96) on the walls and towers of the said castle played a melodious song. Then came out of the castle six lords and gentlemen apparelled in garments of white satin of Bruges and green, broidered with counterfeit stuff of Flanders making, as brooches, ouches, spangs, and such; and also six ladies apparelled in six garments of rich satin, white and green, set with H and K of yellow satin, pointed together with points of Kolen gold. These six garments for ladies were of the King's store, newly repaired. All the said ladies heads apparelled with loose gold of damask, as well as with woven flat gold of damask, &c." The garments were prepared and brought to Eltham for Epiphany night and New Year's night.
Bought of Wm. Botre and Mr. Thorstoon, 265¾ yds. white and green satin, for garments for ladies, a doublet for one of the chapel children who played Eulyxes. 5 yds. red satin. 27 yds. yellow satin for Cornish and the ladies of the castle. 51¾ yds. red and yellow sarcenet for three Greek robes, a double cloak for Troylous, a mantle and bishop's surcoat for Cornish to play Kallkas in. 27¼ yds. white and green sarcenet. Black sarcenet for a surcoat, mantle and widow's hood for Kressyd, and a garment for Cornish when he played the herald, &c. 2 pieces Florence cotton for Kressyd. 12 pieces cyprus for the lady who played Faith. 7 ells Holland cloth for short wide sleeves for Dyomed and his fellows. 10 oz. copper ribbon and 12 doz. silk points for binding 7 ladies' collars, coats for minstrels, and for Troylous, Pandor, Dyomed, Eulyxes, and others. 1 qu. 1 nail velvet for shoes for Troylous. 10 hand staves for barriers. 6 morions. 6 swords for "the men of arms that battled in presence as for the departers with 4 odd staves." To Cornish, for a feather for Troylous, Spanish girdles, &c., 13s. 4d. For a barber "for there heer trimming and washing of their heads," 4d. To the tailor, 6l. 9s. 10d. For a cart to carry the stuff to Eltham, and "hys abod," 3 days and nights, 8s. 4d.
Expenses of garments.—To Cornish, a mantle, a surcoat of yellow sarcenet, a coat armour, a garment of black sarcenet, and a bonnet. To the two children, Troylous and Pandor, 9 satin doublets, 2 jackets of the old store, a double cloak of sarcenet. To Kryssyd, a mantle, a surcoat, and cottons and wimple. To gentlemen, 6 crimson satin bonnets. 3 bases and Greek robes to men at arms. 7 coats and bonnets of satin to minstrels. A gown of white green and satin to Mr. Harry of the chapel. To the seven ladies of the castle, seven gowns of satin of Bruges, with their headdresses. To the six ladies of the court who disguised, their headdresses and stomachers of crimson satin. The feather that Troylus wore. All the girdles, spears, swords, and targets. To the taborets, 2 jackets of the store.
Number of persons for the play.—15 for the castle; 7 ladies; 7 minstrels; 6 lords and gentlemen and 6 ladies disguised; 6 men at arms; 3 tamboreens.
This is admirable fooling.
Hitherto Henry's reign had been one of uninterrupted prosperity. He was the most popular, the most wealthy, the most envied of monarchs. His ambassadors boasted with reason, that no king was more beloved by his subjects or more readily obeyed than he. Possessed of vast royal demesnes, he could gratify his love of pleasure, his taste, his magnificence, without stint. Never engaged but once in a continental war, and that at no great distance, still less in that ruinous game of ambition on which Francis I. expended his energies and his treasures, Henry VIII. had no occasion "to pill and poll his subjects;" and his rule formed a striking contrast to that of the impoverished Maximilian, and the famished and grasping policy of Charles. Whatever vices or mistakes may have clouded his latter years, they had not yet made their appearance. Compared with the licentiousness of Francis I., his life was a pattern of temperance and purity. Constant he was not to his marriage vow; but his departures from it were neither frequent nor notorious. The French ambassador wrote home, that "he was a youngster who cared for nothing but "girls and hunting, and wasted his father's patrimony." (fn. 97) Such scandals are not to be received implicitly; ambassadors wrote home what they thought would please their own courts, without much concern for the accuracy of their information. Often ignorant of the real feelings of the court and the nation to which they were accredited, generally ignorant of its language, exposed more than others to imposition, and fed with tales by those who knew their humour, or were purposely set on to mislead them,—solitary and unsupported anecdotes repeated in their despatches must not be implicitly accepted, unless they are crossed and supported by other and independent lines of evidence. Not unfrequently in the absence of better news, they were authorised retailers of gossip, intended quite as much to amuse as to instruct their respective courts. In this instance, the scandal of the French ambassador receives no support from the Venetian or the private correspondence of the times. Notwithstanding his frequent disappointments the King is represented as treating Katharine uniformly with kindness and respect. If he felt any dissatisfaction, he took care not to express it by word or sign. And her affectionate solicitude for him, especially in the time of the "sweating sickness," is a satisfactory proof that hitherto the love between them had continued unimpaired.
The birth of the princess Mary (fn. 98) threw the Queen into the shade,—I am inclined to think not unwillingly on her part. Her happiness at this, the most joyous event in her ill-starred life, was clouded by the death of her father Ferdinand; he, who next to herself, would have been most interested in the event. The news of his death was studiously concealed from her, (fn. 99) in dread of the ill effects it might produce; and if anything could have tended to augment her melancholy, it must have been the thought that the only child which survived of all her offspring was ushered into the world in a season of mourning. As for Henry himself, though he would fain have had a boy, he solaced himself in his usual buoyant style: "Domine orator," he said to the Venetian ambassador, who had come to congratulate him on the occasion, and express regret that it had not been a prince, "we are "both young; if it be a girl this time, by the grace of "God, boys will follow." Mary was christened three days after her birth, on Wednesday, 20th February 1516, and had for her godfather Cardinal Wolsey. (fn. 100) The silver font was brought from the cathedral of Canterbury to Greenwich, for the ceremony. (fn. 101) Henry, always fond of children, was fond and proud of his daughter to excess. When she was not more than two years old, (fn. 102) he carried her about in his arms in the presence chamber, before the lords and ladies of the court and the foreign ambassadors. Even at this early period of her life, Mary displayed that love of music in which she was afterwards so great a proficient;—the passion of her whole family. (fn. 103) The Venetian ambassador, who had introduced an Italian friar, named Memo, to the King, for his great musical talents, gives a charming account of his interview with the little princess at one of the court receptions:
"After this conversation, his Majesty caused the princess, his daughter, who is two years old, to be brought into the apartment where we were; whereupon the right reverend Cardinal (Wolsey) and I, and all the other lords, kissed her hand, pro more;—the greatest marks of honor being paid her universally, more than to the queen herself. The moment she cast her eyes on the reverend Dionysius Memo, who was there, she commenced calling out in English, Priest, priest: and he was obliged to go and play for her; after which the king with the princess in his arms, came to me and said: 'Per Deum iste (Memo) est honestissimus vir et unus carissimus; nullus unquam servivit mihi melius isto.'" (fn. 104)
The days' employment.
These brilliant and halcyon days seemed the more brilliant from the contrast they presented to the troubled rule of other sovereigns. So the years ran smoothly on. The amusements at court were diversified by hunting and out-door exercises in the morning; in the afternoon by Memo's music, by the consecration and distribution of cramp-rings, or the inventing of plasters and compounding of medicines—an occupation in which the King took unusual pleasure. A manuscript (fn. 105) is preserved in the British Museum, entitled Dr. Butts' Diary, containing a variety of liniments and cataplasms devised by his Majesty;—chiefly for excoriations or ulcers in the legs, a disease common in those days, and from which the King himself suffered, and eventually died. Had these complaints been confined to laymen, they might have been attributed to gross feeding and the chafing of armour; but notices of them occur repeatedly, in all classes, without distinction. (fn. 106)
Erasmus describes in glowing terms the court of Henry as a Musæum of letters and learning,—a polite academy, where arts and sciences flourished under liberal patronage. Queen Katharine was a miracle of learning and piety; the king took more delight in reading good books than any prince of his age. The eulogy, though perhaps highly colored, was not wholly undeserved. The advancement of men of learning and genius to posts about the king and to high offices in the state, justified in a great measure the praises of Erasmus. Among the favorite preachers were Dean Colet and Grocyn (More's friend); Linacre was physician, More privy councillor, Pace secretary, Tunstal Master of the Rolls.
The King's book.
As we proceed, notices occur of more serious employments than gambling at cards or devising masques. On 24th June 1518, Pace writes to Wolsey that the king was pleased with the commendations given to his book by the Cardinal; and though he does not think it worthy such praise as it had from him and all other great learned men, yet he is very glad "to have noted in your Grace's letters that his reasons be called inevitable, considering that your Grace was some time his adversary herein, and of contrary opinion;"—a passage well worth observing. The same statement is repeated by Pace four days afterwards. Now, though the word book is used frequently to imply a paper of political instructions or a written agreement, (fn. 107) in its connexion here with the praises of learned men, it seems to me impossible that it can be employed in any other than in its modern meaning. If so, the book to which Pace refers must be the draft of the king's book against Luther, which appeared in 1521. The letters of Erasmus show the rapid progress of Lutheran opinions, even at this early date; and "swarms of books" were now pouring from the press on the great questions soon destined to engross the minds of men exclusively. Though little or no reference is made to Luther in the English correspondence contained in this volume, and Lutheranism appears to have been almost unknown in England at this early date, Erasmus thought it necessary to disavow to Wolsey (fn. 108) not only all friendship for the German reformer, but all personal acquaintance with him. That letter ought to be studied; for it shows that the king's book grappled with those points especially on which the minds of people were most disturbed. The correspondence of Pace invalidates the supposition that he or More, or both conjointly, were the real authors of the book. They may have assisted in its composition, especially in correcting the Latin style, but had they been the authors of it Pace would scarcely have held the language he did to Wolsey.
Sale of Indulgences.
But the cloud was no bigger than a man's hand—if a cloud at all. Erasmus might be alarmed at the new tone and noisy scurrility which burst upon his ears, so foreign to his notions of dignified scholarship and literary refinement. He might think it would have been better to have left the friars in undisturbed possession of the pulpit, and for the canonists to bemuse themselves in extravagant admiration of the Decretals. (fn. 109) But to the majority of the world, and to our own nation at that time, it seemed no more than a passing brawl between two friars—brawls to which the world had been accustomed, and which wise men had ceased to notice. Indulgences were not new to Europe. They were not even the exclusive invention of the papal court for raising money; at all events the temporal sovereigns of Europe joined in the plot and shared the spoils. On the 8th December 1515, Mountjoy wrote from Tournay to Wolsey to tell him, "that a commissary had come from the Pope with great indulgences for the helping to the building of St. Peter's." As nothing of the sort might be published without the sanction of the king, Mountjoy had informed the commissary that he would not be allowed to publish his brief, "but such alms as should be given were to be put in a box with two keys, of which he was to have the one, and Mountjoy the other." The bishop of Worcester, ambassador for England at the papal court, writes to say, (fn. 110) that the Pope intended sending commissioners to England with indulgences for the same purpose, as he had done to France, Germany, and Spain. The bishop told his Holiness that such a practice had never been allowed unless the king gave his consent and shared the profits. The Pope offered a fourth. Worcester says, if Wolsey approve, he will endeavour to obtain a third. In Spain Charles had managed to obtain a loan of 175,000 ducats from the commissioners, in anticipation of the amount to be realized. "The Pope," says Spinelly, (fn. 111) "has granted the realms of Castile indulgence for three years, which will amount to more than 800,000 ducats of gold, net." "For here the common people, whether they will or not, be compelled to take it for a certain sum of money, and the commissioners appointed in this business have advanced unto the king by manner of lent (loan) a 175,000 ducats; whose (which) commissioners shall have for their right and labour a penny Flemish for every bull, and the king two royals of silver for every man; that is, upon tenpence English. The Pope hath had in ready money for such grant 27,000 ducats, and 10,000 restored again that he had lent for the payment of the footmen in Spain." It was the same in France, where a great and bitter feud raged between the king and the Parliament. The necessities of Francis compelled him, like Charles, to encourage the sale of indulgences. It was the readiest and the least obnoxious means of raising money. "The king of France," writes one, (fn. 112) "has gained more money by pardons of the crusade than by all his exactions. People are compelled to listen to these heretic preachers"—the phrase is remarkable—"and murmur everywhere. They preach that whoever puts 10 sous Tournois into the money box will go to paradise; for 10 sous apiece sins shall be forgiven, and souls escape purgatory. They are opposed by the University and doctors of theology; but too late, as the money has been collected. These indulgences are ruinous to princes and their poor subjects." Such passages as these throw a new light on that event which led to such momentous consequences. The sale of indulgences was a project devised between the temporal and spiritual rulers of Europe for collecting subsidies from the poor and the labouring classes. It was levelled to their capacities and their means. (fn. 113) By the old and established system of trentals and private masses the delivery of souls out of purgatory and remission of sins were accessible only to the rich; now when the same could be accomplished at 10 sous a head, that was the same as bringing within the reach of the poorest a privilege hitherto exclusively confined to their more fortunate brethren. In the former case the practice was limited to a class whose growing intelligence and gradual emancipation from credulity, added to other causes, had brought the practice within much narrower limits. Now there was to be no restriction: the sale of pardons was to descend to a much wider circle; to be sanctioned by the highest authority secular and national; to be engrafted without stint into the Church's system; to become a great state engine, against which resistance would be ineffectual. So the preachers of indulgences were opposed by two parties for their novel and pernicious doctrines;—they were condemned for illegal exactions by the one, and denounced as heretics by the other. They were everywhere opposed by the regular clergy; and it is as heretics and novel preachers transgressing the teaching of the Church that Luther wrote to the archbishop of Mayence to interpose his authority and put them down. (fn. 114)