Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 1, 1509-1514. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1920.
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[References cited by number are to be identified in this second edition by the "Key" which follows.—R.H.B.]
THIS Catalogue, of which the first volume is now submitted to the reader, differs in some important respects from the Calendars of State Papers which have already appeared under the sanction of the Master of the Rolls. They relate to documents contained in single departments of the State; this embraces an abstract of all Letters and Miscellaneous Papers, illustrative of the reign of Henry VIII, foreign or domestic, printed or in manuscript, preserved either in the different departments of the Great National Depository, or in the British Museum, the Bodleian and the Lambeth libraries, or the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. It has further been found necessary, from the peculiar nature of the work, to include in it a complete index and summary of the French, the Scotch, the Patent and the Parliament Rolls, the Signed Bills and Privy Seals, the army, navy, ordnance, and wardrobe accounts of the same period, not omitting the transcripts made by the late Record Commission from foreign archives, for the new edition of Rymer's Fœdera.
Such portions of the series as belong to the nation, and were hitherto dispersed in different offices, have now for the first time been brought together and arranged chronologically. They consisted originally of 328 miscellaneous volumes found in the Rolls House, 242 bundles and books in the State Paper Office, numerous documents and fragments placed in portfolios and boxes, gathered up in the searches made by the officers at the Chapter House, Westminster. The number has since been greatly augmented by valuable additions from different quarters; partly by an examination, made by Mr. Gairdner and myself, of 118 sacks of unsorted documents transferred from the Chapter House to the New Repository; partly by occasional papers kindly brought to my attention by Mr. Nelson and Mr. Burtt, of the Record Office; and, more recently, by searches in the Rolls Chapel and elsewhere, conducted under the direction of Mr. Hardy, the present Deputy Keeper of the National Records.
The entire diplomatic correspondence of the reign was originally deposited at the Chapter House, Westminster, in Her Majesty's Treasury of the Exchequer; but among the documents there, relating to the political history of the times, many letters and private memoranda were preserved, detailing the most secret history of the King's ministers. Not only the property of Wolsey, Cromwell, Lord Lisle, and other noblemen, but their papers and correspondence, were confiscated, on their disgrace, to the King's use. No distinction was observed between official and private documents; between drafts, despatches, memoranda intended for the Council Table, and letters on personal matters and domestic expenditure. Even the escritoires of the ladies were not exempted from this legal confiscation. Whatever in the opinion of the law officers of the Crown might possibly furnish matter for the impeachment of their husbands, was inexorably seized to the King's use,—consequently bills for ribbons, shoes, and millinery, receipts for apple pies, salves, and medicated waters, are sometimes found in grotesque juxta-position with papal bulls or instructions to plenipotentiaries.
There is good reason to suppose that these papers were deposited in the Treasury of the Exchequer, in their original order and condition, and remained so until the commencement of the 17th century. Large portions of them were carried off in 1614, if not before, by Sir Robert Cotton, to augment his celebrated library, and are now to be found in the British Museum. Within a late period three hundred bundles and books were sent to the Rolls House; and again from the Rolls House an important selection of them was transferred to the State Paper Office. This diversion of the documents from their primitive source into different channels was productive of great irregularities. Proceedings in manor courts, portions of suits in the Court of Wards, the Star Chamber, or the Chancery, found their way into the diplomatic collections of the State Paper Office or the Rolls House. Treaties made between the same powers, and relating to the same period of history, straggled piecemeal into two or three or even four different depositories. The correspondence of Wolsey, Cromwell, Norfolk, and the King, was broken up between the State Paper Office, the Record Office, and the British Museum. Parts of the same letter were not unusually found in different libraries; addresses were detached from the bodies of the letters to which they belonged, and inclosures inserted in the wrong envelopes.
To add to the confusion, special modes of arrangement were adopted in different offices; and not unfrequently the system pursued under one officer was modified or reversed by his successor. The original bundles appear to have been broken up, under the keepership of Arthur Agarde, when the Treasury of the Exchequer was rifled of its most precious contents, to augment the collections of Sir Robert Cotton. Their order was further disturbed by Mr. John Cayley, who arranged many of the letters in an alphabetical order of names. Some preferred a topographical, others a diplomatic, arrangement. But as none of these projects were completed, and never could be so long as portions of the same series remained in different depositories, these successive attempts at arrangement ended, as might be expected, in utter confusion.
A return to the primitive arrangement of the papers, however desirable, was altogether impossible, for no memoranda had been kept of these changes. To have catalogued the papers as they stood was scarcely more possible. Nothing remained except to bring the different series together, and patiently proceed de novo to arrange the whole in uniform chronological order. The task was extremely difficult and fatiguing. The labor was increased by the dispersion of the papers, the variety of experiments to which they had been subjected at different intervals, and the total obliteration of all traces of their original sequence. The letters are seldom dated; their dates had to be determined by internal evidence. Many turn exclusively upon personal topics, or refer to events little known. Long and tedious researches had to be made for obscure names, and events not less obscure; often without any successful result, often where the success bore no proportion to the time and labor spent upon it. Tedious and unsatisfactory as the task proved to be, it was necessary, in some instances, to replace the books and bundles, as nearly as could be guessed, in their ancient order, and insert once more dated among the undated documents,
"incedens per ignes
Suppositos cineri doloso."
But even where the events were more noticeable, as in the political relations of England with the Continent during the first half of the 16th century, letters of credence or compliment, drafts of instructions, many without date or signature, not in the handwriting of the author but of his scribe, were far from being easily arranged. Events frequently repeat themselves with extraordinary likeness in the various political combinations of those times. It is not easy, for instance, to assign to their proper years undated memoranda relating to the intricate wars and policy of Italy. The diplomatic correspondence between England and France in 1518 or 1519, and again in 1525 and 1526, or that of Flanders in 1516 and 1517, as compared with 1522 and 1523, is deceptive enough. To determine the due sequence of papers referring to the designs of France upon Tournay and the English pale, to follow without confusion the crooked lines of Scotch politics under the Duke of Albany, to keep every minute and instruction, every rough draft and memorandum for each ambassador, in its proper month and year, where no help is lent by signature, date, or handwriting, is more laborious than they know who have never tried it. Nothing seems more easy or obvious after the true order has been discovered; nothing is more perplexing before.
The first step was to number all the documents in the several bundles, boxes, and portfolios as they were produced to me; then to deal into boxes marked with the regnal and dominical year all papers of which the dates were certain, setting aside for the present the less certain and obvious. The residue thus set aside had to be examined again and again, subjected to various processes, and reduced to the smallest compass compatible with accuracy of arrangement.
After repeated examination the undigested mass, consisting of fragments, anonymous letters, or papers which defied all chronological arrangement, had to be indexed for convenience of reference, in the expectation that during the formation of the Calendar fresh evidence might turn up, doubts be cleared, or the missing portions and fragments of defective letters be discovered.
To the difficulty arising from a general absence of dates in papers of this early period must be added the uncertainty in the different modes of calculation adopted by different nations. Some states followed the Roman, some the old style. Some commenced the year on Christmas Day, some at the variable feast of Easter. In some instances the same writer followed no rule but wavered between both styles, like the Emperor Maximilian; some adopted the style of the place where they chanced to be staying, or of the correspondent to whom their letters were addressed. This uncertainty in the chronology of the times involved the necessity of numerous researches among the Privy Seals, Patent Rolls, and other muniments at the Record Office. It was indispensable, to arrive at some certain data for determining the shifting dates of uncertain papers. At last by one method or another and finally by comparing the entire series of despatches of this or that ambassador, wherever such a comparison could be made, the date of each separate document was determined with tolerable exactness. Step by step the whole series emerged from confusion.
To prosecute these inquiries with any chance of success, it became necessary to supply the missing links in the correspondence from the papers in the British Museum. The collections made by Sir Robert Cotton, for the early years of the reign of Henry VIII. are more numerous and even more interesting than the documents in the English, the French or the Spanish archives. They are equally authentic; they supply the lacunæ in the official correspondence; they contain the enclosures addresses, deciphers, and sometimes the missing portions of the letters now remaining in the Record Office. By what fraud or negligence they found their way into the possession of Sir Robert Cotton it is not for me to inquire. That originally they belonged to the Crown, will be evident to those who examine both collections minutely. They are in fact, parts of one and the same series. (fn. 1)
It was necessary, therefore, to examine all the correspondence relating to the reign of Henry VIII. in the Cottonian, Harleian, Lansdowne, and Additional Collections of the British Museum. Such as obviously referred to a later date than 1525 were passed over for the present to avoid delay, and I shall be glad if no document of an earlier period has escaped my researches. Unfortunately many of the Cottonian manuscripts suffered irreparable injury from the fire which devastated the Library in the year 1731. As it raged apparently with greater fury in those cases where these papers were deposited, many documents were entirely destroyed; some are so mutilated that no certain meaning can now be gathered from their contents. Writings left comparatively uninjured by the fire were obliterated by water. In some instances the leaves of the MSS. got loose, as the bindings or fastenings were destroyed by the flames, and were afterwards replaced at hazard. And thus addresses have not unfrequently been attached to the wrong letters, the leaves of one despatch been mixed with those of another, the inner margins been turned outside, the order of the paging inverted, and the sense of the documents rendered unintelligible or obscure.
Some of these volumes, formerly inaccessible and useless, have of late years been carefully repaired and bound by the trustees of the Museum; but they have not thought it right to interfere with this inaccurate arrangement. An appendix to the Cottonian Catalogue and two bundles (Calig. E. i. and ii. ?) still remained, at the date of this Preface, in a very mutilated condition. They have been carefully examined and their contents catalogued.
The mutilated and unsatisfactory condition of these papers occasioned great trouble. The difficulty of deciphering them, and determining their due order, involved additional labour, and a more precise and tedious method of describing their contents. Wherever the mutilations were so extensive that the sense could not be safely determined from the context, no course remained except to transcribe the mutilated passages as they stood, or omit all notice of them. The former method, though more tedious, seemed more satisfactory, and it has been adopted accordingly.
The same difficulty, and the desire to attain completeness, induced me to include in this Catalogue the few letters and documents relating to the reign of Henry VIII. now remaining in the libraries of Oxford, Cambridge, and Lambeth. It is not likely that further researches in England, at all events, will furnish fresh materials of much importance. The various departments of the Public Record Office have been carefully searched; and the Master of the Rolls, in his desire to render the work as complete as possible, has issued orders to every officer under his charge to furnish a complete list of all papers bearing on the political, religious, or social history of the reign. When these returns have been duly executed I know of no other sources in this country likely to furnish additional stores of information.
I have included a summary of the Privy Seals and Signed Bills, both for their chronological and their historical importance. These documents had to be frequently searched during the formation of the Calendar. They have the advantage of being dated with rigid accuracy. (fn. 2) To the time of compilation of this Catalogue they were kept on files without any order. They are now chronologically arranged, and their number has been augmented by subsequent researches.
As the contents of the Privy Seals and Signed Bills are generally entered on the Patent Rolls, and form their most valuable and interesting materials, it seemed only a small extension of labor to include the remaining entries, and thus make the Index to the Patent Rolls complete. That labour was greatly lightened by a manuscript calendar of these Rolls, prepared and in a great part completed by Mr. Roberts, the present Secretary of the Record Office; and though it did not suit the purposes of this work to adopt the fuller descriptions of Mr. Roberts, or follow, as he does, the miscellaneous order of the Rolls, I am glad to acknowledge my obligations to the conscientious labors of that gentleman. (fn. 3)
The collation of the Signed Bills and Privy Seals was often of service in detecting errors in the entries on the Patent Rolls. Such mistakes have been noticed wherever they seemed important.
To the Patent Rolls I have added an abstract of the Parliament Rolls, and propose to add one of the Privy Council books as soon as they fall within the scope of my work. The papers and memoranda lately brought to light will supply great deficiencies in those books, and prove not the least curious part of the whole collection.
The Scotch Rolls contain the commissions of ambassadors and agents accredited by England to Scotland, and curious notices of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. The French Rolls detail the same information for France, with a larger amount of miscellaneous matter. Both were frequently consulted by Rymer for his edition of the Fœdera, and a full summary of their contents will be found in this Catalogue.
Whenever any of these letters, rolls, or documents have been printed by Herbert, Hearne, Rymer, Fiddes, Burnet, Strype, Howard, Ellis, Lodge, or in the State Papers, the Archæologia, or other collections, (fn. 4) I have noticed the fact in the margin. When the originals could not be found I have given an abstract of the document as it existed in print. I ought, perhaps, to apologize for including the letters of Erasmus and Peter Martyr. But only those letters of Erasmus are here noticed which were written by him during his residence in England, or received by him from Englishmen during his residence abroad, or are of direct importance to English history. His correspondents were men of high standing in the region of politics. He numbered among his intimate friends, Warham, Tunstal, More, Pace, Sampson, and Ammonius, secretary for the Latin and Italian tongues to Henry VIII. No one was better acquainted than Ammonius with the proceedings between this country and Rome. These letters, therefore, have a claim on the consideration of the historical student beyond the personal importance of the names under which they were published. Unhappily the dates in all the printed copies are strangely confused and inaccurate. I have therefore been compelled to arrange them by their internal evidence, retaining the printed dates at the foot of the extracts. (fn. 5) The order adopted by Le Clerc, in his splendid collection of the works of Erasmus, published at the Hague, is certainly faulty. He was followed implicitly by Jortin. Four original letters of Erasmus, now in the Record Office never before printed, will be found in this Volume.
For introducing the letters of Peter Martyr I must offer a similar apology. The information, to be found in this writer, relating to England, comes from an authentic and unquestionable source. John Stile, the English ambassador at the court of Ferdinand in the reigns of Henry VII. and Henry VIII., whose letters in cipher make so important a figure in the early years of Henry VIII., is the Hastil so frequently mentioned by Martyr; and to him Martyr was indebted for the information touching this nation and its sovereign which he transmits to his constant correspondent Mendoza. Letters in other printed collections will be mentioned hereafter. Before 1518 they are very scanty.
I proceed to some remarks on the sources of information thus laid open to the public by the liberality of the Government.
This Volume extends from the accession of Henry VIII. to the close of 1514. Of the contrast presented by the reign of Henry VIII. to that of his predecessor, no more lively example can be found than in the richness and variety of its correspondence as compared with the correspondence of the previous reign. Where the documents of the reign of Henry VII. are reckoned by tens, those of Henry VIII. may be reckoned by hundreds. Whilst, under the former, reports of ministers and ambassadors are confined to political news, told in general with a dryness and succinctness characteristic of the monarch to whom they were addressed, the letters addressed to Henry VIII. are full of miscellaneous information and lively personal details. The writer seems to be conscious that the young King takes more than ordinary interest in the appearance, manners, doings, and designs of his contemporaries. His personality makes itself felt immediately on his accession; it penetrates in different degrees all classes in the nation from the highest to the lowest. Though the prime ministers and agents of his father were retained, and the political maxims of the last reign remained unchanged, the spirit of the times is transformed. The youth, the frankness, and even that ostentation in which the securer position of Henry VIII. enabled him to indulge, broke down that reserve in which the closer nature and more perilous position of his father delighted to fence themselves. That change finds its most adequate expression in the papers now laid before the reader.
In the earlier pages of the Volume little more will be found than the names and offices of those who were destined to play their parts in the great drama that followed, and developed itself with unexampled rapidity and energy. Whole pages are occupied with notices of commissions, rolls of sheriffs, appointments at court,—indications of a regular order long established,—as if nothing had interrupted for centuries the even flow of the nation, and no such event as the Reformation were at hand to break up the great deeps. But as the reign proceeds questions of greater moment break upon the nation; the correspondence multiplies in variety and detail. The individuality of the writers is more strikingly displayed; a new era has risen with the new reign, deepening every hour into the fuller day. A more lively curiosity in the proceedings of their contemporaries, especially on the Continent, from which they had long been virtually excluded, pervades the minds of Englishmen. A fuller conviction exists of their own strength, as of men entering on and fully prepared for a new stage of existence. Their judgment is more confident and penetrating, less apt to submit to established traditions, less willing to defer to constituted authority. Their criticisms on things passing around them are freer and not unfrequently marked with indignation. Their reports of the times, lively and minute, contain shrewd observations on the characters, appearance, and actions of those with whom these English agents have to deal. Already they begin to display the peculiar temper and genius of the nation. Plodding and cautious, not easily susceptible of emotion, they look with apparent stolidity, real or assumed, on what is before them. Inferior in statecraft to the Frenchman or the Spaniard, the veteran diplomatists of Europe thought it scarcely worth while to deceive such inexperienced negociators. It was no credit to assume the mask before men who had never sounded the turbid depths of political intrigue. Everywhere on the Continent the notion prevailed that England was wealthy and easily duped, even by intellects of no heavier calibre than Maximilian's. It possessed none of the warlike or administrative genius of its great rival; and none of the prestige which still clung to the Holy Roman Empire. It was not fit to be named in the same breath with the reserved and metaphysical Spaniard. A wealthy parvenu in the great family of nations,—no more,—its riches and resources were to patch up the broken finance of Ferdinand, Louis, or the Empire. And the correspondence in this Volume shows the little pains taken by the sovereigns and statesmen of the age to conceal their designs, or veil the contempt they entertained for English simplicity and honesty.
The feeling was not unnatural. In the long civil wars which had deesolated the country during the last century, England had lost its influence on the Continent. From policy and temperament Henry VII. was little inclined to interfere in foreign politics. It was enough to provide for the security of his throne. He was satisfied to feel his way without indulging in needless exhibitions of confidence or chivalrous designs, which might bring glory, but certainly brought hazard. Great projects, if he formed any, were kept to himself, and before the time for action had arrived he had grown afraid of his own conceptions. So, during his reign, England rose to no higher estimate on the Continent than a third or fourth rate power. Even this degree of importance was rather accorded to the sagacity of a king, whose wonderful ability had been displayed through twenty years of unexampled difficulty, than to the genius and character of the nation itself.
But it could not be expected that the respect paid to the experience and reserve of Henry VII. should be as submissively yielded to the youth of Henry VIII. The old sovereigns of Europe were not at all prepared to recognize his right of interference in continental politics. He was but a youth among kings and emperors old enough to be his uncles. His gaiety of disposition and unbounded generosity were no secret. Without the title of Catholic or Christian, he was the most Christian and Catholic son of the Church. To Ferdinand he paid deference of a son-in-law, to Maximilian that of a nephew. Obligations which they considered as nominal, he regarded as real; for Pope, father-in-law, or ally, would never, at any moment, have scrupled to sacrifice to their own interests a son and a nephew who entertained such romantic notions of duty. The reader will understand by the following correspondence the difference of their conceptions of honour from his; and will be at no loss to see that they would have engaged Henry VIII., under the most solemn promises of aid and fidelity, to the most perilous adventures, and then have shamelessly abandoned him, whenever it suited their convenience.
At his accession to the crown he was in the prime of youth and manly beauty. Had he lived in a more poetic age and died before his divorce, he might, without any great effort of imagination, have stood for the hero of an epic poem. He possessed just those qualities which Englishmen admire in their rulers at all times;—a fund of good temper, occasionally broken by sudden bursts of anger, vast muscular strength and unflinching courage. In stature he towered above all his contemporaries. From the brilliant crowd that surrounded him he could at once be distinguished by his commanding figure, and the superior graces of his person. In an age remarkable for feats of strength, and when bodily skill was held in highest estimation, no one outdid him in the tournament. Man and horse fell before him, and lance after lance, at the jousts held in Tournay in honor of the Lady Margaret and the Emperor Maximilian. (fn. 6) It may be thought that the courtesy of the age and place prevented either subject or foreigner from contesting the palm with one who commanded the armies of England. But other feats are recorded of his personal skill and activity, which can scarcely be attributed to flattery. He was no less an adept in the great national weapon than in the more exclusively aristocratic pastime of the tilt-yard. He drew the best bow of his age; and in the mastery of it was a match for the tallest archers of his own guard. Tayler, then clerk of the parliament, who served in the siege of Tournay, tells in his amusing Diary (fn. 7) how he saw the King diverting himself with his archers in a private garden, and as much surpassing them in their own weapon, as he exceeded them in the graces of his person. He spoke French, Italian, and Spanish. (fn. 8) Of his proficiency in Latin a specimen has been preserved among the letters of Erasmus. All suspicion of its genuineness is removed by the positive assertion of Erasmus, that he had seen the original and corrections in the Prince's own hand. In the business of the State, he was, with the exception of Wolsey, the most assiduous man in his dominions. He read and noted the despatches of his ministers and ambassadors without the aid of secretary or interpreter. He spoke French fluently, though he had never been in France; and we have a curious confirmation of his ability in this respect in a letter from the Lady Margaret of Savoy. When Suffolk, in a fit of uncouth gallantry, made love to this lady at Tournay, and stole a ring from her finger, she was unable to make him understand her wish to reclaim it, from his ignorance of French. "One night at Tournay being at the banquet, after the banquet he put himself upon his knees before me, and me speaking and him playing, he drew from my finger the ring and put it upon his, and since (afterwards) showed it to me: and I took to laugh, and to him said that he was a thief, and that I thought not that the King had with him led thieves out of his country. This word laron he could not understand." So she was compelled to call in the aid of the King to interpret her meaning to the Duke. (fn. 9)
Among his lighter accomplishments, still more rare among the sovereigns and nobility of that age, was his skill in the practice and theory of music. We learn from Sagudino, secretary to Giustinian, who visited England in 1515, that the King practised the lute, organ, and harpsichord "day and night," and was passionately fond of music. (fn. 10) "He was extremely skilled in music" is the remark of Giustinian, an Italian, accustomed to hear the best composers of his own country, when the musicians of Italy were scarcely less eminent than its painters. (fn. 11) Nicolo Sagudino writes in 1517 that "he remained ten days at Richmond with the ambassador and in the evening they enjoyed hearing the King play and sing, and seeing him dance, and run at the ring by day; in all which exercises he acquitted himself divinely."
The vast number of warrants, letters, and despatches which every day demanded his attention and required his signature—and such a signature as was not struck off in a hurry—is entirely at variance with the popular notion that he gave himself up wholly to amusement, and was indifferent to more serious occupations. Had such been the case the business of the nation must have fallen into confusion or come to a stand, and we should have seen some traces of it in the correspondence of the time. On the contrary, nothing could exceed the regularity and despatch in every department of the State, as shown by the documents now preserved in the Record Office. Above all, is the interest Henry took in the navy, and the corresponding zeal he was able to make others feel for this important branch of the service. Men of inferior rank were sure of his favor and attentive hearing if they had any experience of the sea, or could communicate information on this favorite subject. Details about the speed, the size, and capacity of his ships never came amiss. When Gerard de Pleine arrived in England, from the Lady Margaret, he found the King in his new ship the Great Harry, with the Queen, the bishops, and the nobility, (fn. 12) acting as a guide to his new visitors. Admiral Howard, (fn. 13) who fell in the great action in Brest, dwells with minute complacency on the speed of the different vessels under his command. He enlarges on the theme, with the pride and garrulity of a sailor, to no cold or indifferent ear: "Sir, your good ship is the flower, I trow, of all ships that ever sailed."—"Sir, she is the noblest ship of sail, is this great ship at this hour, that I trow be in Christendom." And then he goes on to tell how they came in one after another. "And there was a foul tail between the Mary George and another." And he begs he may be excused the length of his letter, but the King commanded him "to send word how every ship did sail."
His delight in gorgeous pageantry and splendid ceremonial, if without any studied design, was not without advantage. Cloth of gold and tissue, new year's gifts, Christmas masquerades and May day mummeries, fell with heavy expense on the nobility, but afforded a cheap and gratuitous amusement to the people. The roughest of the populace were not excluded from their share in the enjoyment. Sometimes, in a boisterous fit of delight, he would allow and even invite the lookers-on to scramble for the rich ornaments of his own dress and those of his courtiers. Unlike his father he showed himself everywhere. He entered with ease into the sports of others, and allowed them with equal ease to share in his. To his hearty compliance with the national humor, which no subsequent acts, however arbitrary or cruel, could altogether obliterate,—to the impression produced by his frankness, and good humor,—to his unquestionable courage, and ability to hold his own against all comers, without the adventitious aid of his exalted position,—Henry VIII. owed much of that popularity, which seems unintelligible to modern notions.
In fact, it is almost impossible to exaggerate his popularity during those early years, or the fascination which he exercised over the minds of his subjects. The old feudal nobility, scarred and broken by the civil broils of the last century, had never recovered that haughty independence which had once successfully defied the Royal authority. Their spirit had fallen with their power; and the small remnant that survived remembered too well the unbending rule of Henry VII. to venture on fresh rebellions. They acquiesced in the accession of his son with a tameness and submission strikingly at variance with the rugged insubordination of their ancestors. They had nothing to fear, if they had little to hope from his frankness. The clergy, insecure, and jealous of the laity, expected to find a champion in one who was universally acknowledged to be the most orthodox and dutiful son of the Church; whilst the people, looking little beyond the gratification of the hour, were delighted with the splendour and munificence of the new reign, which stood out in striking contrast to the parsimonious and almost puritanical reserve of Henry VII.
I will not undertake to say how much of this popularity was to be attributed to other motives than those of loyalty. The position of the King was remarkable; he was the poise and centre of the nation, and no party in it could afford to neglect his favors. The factions of the time regarded each other with watchful jealousy. Their unanimity was that of enemies who take the measure of each other's strength, and are unwilling to commence the strife. In the council, Norfolk, Surrey, and Buckingham looked with jealous eye on the influence of Fox and the ecclesiastics. The predilection of Henry for theology, his love of learning and the fine arts, seemed to give the clergy a hold upon him which the lay members of the council dreaded and despised. The bishops were on their part equally apprehensive of Henry's love of enterprise, and his dreams of conquest. Outside the cabinet more unanimity apparently prevailed. The old Yorkist faction showed no symptoms of animation. With great wisdom and forbearance Henry VII. had condoned the offences of many of the Northern chieftains, and advanced them to place, if not to power. The heads of the party had been laid in the dust, and there was no man of sufficient trust or strength to bind the smouldering embers into a firebrand, and launch it upon the rich provinces of the South. But there were elements of discord, though dispersed and for the present harmless, which one false move at home, one signal discomfiture abroad, would have brought into perilous union. These Northern chiefs still remembered Richard III. and yielded a precarious subjection. Brought up from their infancy to war, nursed in the forays of the Borders, accustomed to obey no laws except those of their own imposing, they looked with displeasure on a silken King, reigning on the banks of the Thames, and treated his deputies and lieutenants with ill-disguised insolence and contempt. The gentry and nobility of Yorkshire, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and the Borders proportioned their obedience to their inclination. They harbored the King's enemies, they thwarted his lieutenants of the Marches, or betrayed them to the Scotch.
But for the present, and in the South at least, Englishmen had found at last a living counterpart of that ideal loyalty which they had often longed for, and seldom been able to realise. That ideal is not ours; it falls far short of our conceptions; still it must be judged by the times. And no attentive reader of the papers or chronicles of the reign will be at a loss to find a counterpart to those passionate expressions of loyalty which Shakespeare has put into the mouth of Wolsey.
For the personal appearance of the King we are indebted to the accounts of strangers. Giustinian, the Venetian ambassador, in a secret memoir intended for the Seignory, thus describes him a year or two after his accession: "His Majesty" (he says) "is twenty-nine years old, and extremely handsome. Nature could not have done more for him. He is much handsomer than any other sovereign in Christendom; a great deal handsomer than the King of France; very fair, and his whole frame admirably proportioned. On hearing that Francis I. wore a beard, he allowed his own to grow; and as it is reddish, he has now got a beard that looks like gold. He is very accomplished; a good musician; composes well; is a most capital horseman; a fine jouster; speaks good French, Latin, and Spanish; is very religious; hears three masses daily when he hunts, and sometimes five on other days. He hears the Office every day in the Queen's Chamber; that is to say, vesper and compline. He is very fond of hunting, and never takes his diversion without tiring eight or ten horses, which he causes to be stationed beforehand along the line of country he means to take; and when one is tired he mounts another, and before he gets home they are all exhausted. He is extremely fond of tennis, at which game it is the prettiest thing in the world to see him play, his fair skin glowing through a shirt of the finest texture." (fn. 14)
To the same purport is an earlier account written in 1515 by the Venetian Pasqualigo. "His Majesty," says the ambassador, "is the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on; above the usual height, with an extremely fine calf to his leg; his complexion very fair and bright, with auburn hair combed straight and short in the French fashion, and a round face, so very beautiful, that it would become a pretty woman, his throat being rather long and thick." (fn. 15)
To the same authorities we are indebted for an account of the King's appearance at a solemn reception. After passing the ranks of the body-guard, which consisted of 300 halberdiers, with silver breastplates, who "were all as big as giants," he and his fellows were brought to the King. They found him standing under a canopy of cloth of gold, leaning against his gilt throne, on which lay a gold brocade cushion, with the gold sword of state. "He wore a cap of crimson velvet, in the French fashion, and the brim was looped up all round with lacets and gold enamelled tags. His doublet was in the Swiss fashion, striped alternately with white and crimson satin, and his hose were scarlet, and all slashed from the knee upwards. Very close round his neck he had a gold collar, from which there hung a rough cut diamond, the size of the largest walnut I ever saw, and to this was suspended a most beautiful and very large round pearl. His mantle was of purple velvet lined with white satin, the sleeves open, with a train more than four Venetian yards long. This mantle was girt in front like a gown, with a thick gold cord, from which there hung large golden acorns like those suspended from a cardinal's hat; over this mantle was a very handsome gold collar, with a pendant St. George entirely of diamonds. Beneath the mantle he wore a pouch of cloth of gold, which covered a dagger; and his fingers were one mass of jewelled rings." (fn. 16)
But all this splendour must have appeared more dazzling when contrasted with the courts and persons of contemporary sovereigns. Age had not yet abated the ambition of Lewis XII. or blunted the activity of his intellect, but it had made sad ravages in his person. Long before his death at the age of fifty-three, he is everywhere spoken of as an infirm old man, the victim of disease. "Has not the King of France had the small pox?" asks a nobleman of Gerard de Pleine, with malicious curiosity. (fn. 17) The terms applied to him in Peter Martyr's unceremonious letters are far from flattering. On his own acknowledgment to the English ambassadors, "he was a sickly body," and not fond of having too curious eyes about him. (fn. 18) His treasures had been exhausted in ruinous wars. He had neither the inclination nor the means for that pomp and splendour which the parsimony of Henry VII. had liberally accumulated for Henry VIII.
The bankrupt Emperor Maximilian, "the man of few pence," as he was styled in derision throughout Europe, had even less means for rivalling the splendour of the English court. Always receiving large sums for services he never performed, the activity of his intellect was concentrated on shifts and expedients for raising money which never made him richer. In the pursuit of it, there was no meanness to which he would not stoop, even to the sale of honor and of empire. The correspondence contained in this Volume abounds with such instances. The most barefaced and importunate of beggars, he felt no delicacy in appropriating to his own use the sums entrusted him for other purposes. And yet he set up a claim for fastidiousness and modesty. He was too scrupulous and conscientious; and allowed his pride to stand in the way of his interests! When Dr. Knight, on 18 April 1514, asked Lady Margaret for an explanation of some suspicious movements of the Emperor, then coquetting with France in violation of his written engagements, she said "she did not know the reason; but from the manner which was peculiar to her father and her, and all their house, there was something he would have which he would not press." She lamented that such was the manner of their house; and had it been her and her father's fortune to have come of a low house and humble stock, her father and herself must have died for hunger, "rather than their courage should have served them to have asked a'-God's name." In the English camp at Tournay he took pay and served as a soldier under the King of England. There Tayler, clerk of the Parliament, saw him, and thus describes this renowned Head of the Holy Roman Empire in his diary already noticed:—"The Emperor," he says, (fn. 19) "is of middle height, with open and manly countenance and pale complexion. He has a snub nose and a grey beard; is affable, frugal, and an enemy to pomp. His attendants are dressed in black silk or woollen."
The portrait of Ferdinand, as drawn by contemporaneous and independent writers, is scarcely more flattering. Peter Martyr, who was in constant attendance upon him at Valladolid, ridicules his uxoriousness, in common with the rest of the world, and Machiavelli with equal truth condemns his suspicious and niggardly disposition. His ungenerous or timid policy had estranged from his councils the ablest of his nobility. In his single hand, he still grasped all the administrative functions of the State, which had long since outgrown his powers. "For in truth, sovereign lord," says Stile, (fn. 20) addressing Henry VIII., "according to my allegiance and fidelity unto your Highness, the King of Arragon your good father is a noble, wise, and well fortunate prince of himself, having right few noblemen of his council unto whom he may surely trust, except that it be his secretary Almaçan, and a gentleman called Fernando de Vega, and other such men learned in the law, and men of base manner (low degree); and never a lord meddles in his counsel, except the Conde de Cifuentes, which is a wise knight, and of no great lands nor rents. For the which, and it please your grace, the King your said good father taketh great labor and pain with his royal person, daily giving audience, and hearing all the matters and causes of this realm, and of all his realms, himself, be they of never so little substance; for all the causes here that resound not to their own profits, or perforce, be endless."
Such were the contemporaries of Henry VIII. As their political intrigues occupy a considerable portion of this Volume, some remark on the object which each of them had in view, will enable the reader to use the documents with greater facility.
For the first two years after Henry's accession, England remained little more than an idle spectator of foreign intrigues. The league of Cambray (fn. 21) had virtually excluded it from all share in continental politics, and prostrated Europe at the feet of a powerful triumvirate. Henry VII. had quietly acquiesced in the dishonest compact. We must in charity believe that his closeness towards the latter years of his life had a little impaired and "perished his understanding." (fn. 22)
Ostensibly the work of Margaret of Savoy, George Cardinal D'Amboise, the real author of the league, was content to abandon the empty honor of its consummation to the Princess and confidante of Maximilian, whilst the substantial benefits of its arrangements were reaped by France. That Maximilian should have been cajoled might have been expected; that Julius II. should have been a consenting party can be attributed only to the blindness of his exasperation against the Venetians. By the terms of the compact Rimini and Ravenna were reserved for the Pope; Brescia, Bergamo, Crema, and Cremona, for Lewis XII.; the more splendid acquisitions of Verona, Padua, Vicenza, and Friuli fell to Maximilian; Trano and Otranto to Ferdinand. The real advantage rested with Lewis. He was content for the time to abandon his claims upon the rich cities of the south ; for what man of military genius would commit so capital a blunder as to make the Southern peninsula of Italy the basis of great military operations? He needed, moreover, Ferdinand's friendship. Content with the modest acquisition of Crema and Cremona, he abandoned to Maximilian the rich prizes of Padua and Verona. But Padua and Verona were more tempting to sight than tractable to the touch. Their subjection would have demanded all the energy, skill, and resources which the greatest military power could command; it might be left with perfect safety to the poor, ill-adjusted, desultory efforts of one whose greatest schemes evaporated in bluster. Whilst Ferdinand, safe in the possession of a wealthy and obedient son-in-law was weaving his nets, like a solitary spider, for his own exclusive advantage, whilst Julius was snorting vengeance, and Maximilian dozing over his stove, (fn. 23) Lewis had started off to the scene of conquest. With the energy and adroitness of his nation, he had opened the campaign as early as April 1509. By the battle of Agnadel, on the 14th May, and the capture of the Venetian general D'Alviano, he had become master in effect of the north of Italy.
This was evidently more than his good friends and confederates had anticipated; with the exception, perhaps, of Maximilian. He writes with unaffected delight to his daughter Margaret of the successes of his faithful ally, and is persuaded that such good fortune is only a prelude to that promised aid of 500 lances which Lewis had engaged to lend him for the reduction of Padua. With very different feelings Julius beheld the ascendancy of his hated rival. He bit his lips and stroked his beard in vexation. (fn. 24) He had baited the trap for himself by his own intemperate passion. Ferdinand concealed his feelings. He would not entrust them even to his son-in-law. So much of them, however, as he permitted to transpire are made known to us in a letter of John Stile, then in the court of Arragon, dated September 9, 1509. (fn. 25) "Touching the commandment of your Highness" (proceeds the ambassador in his quaint and homely style) "I demanded of the King "your good father, how that his Majesty intendeth for to be and continue "in amity with the Emperor and with the French King, and with everiche "of the said princes. To the which, an it please your Grace, the answer "of the King your good father was, that he is fully determined for to continue in amity with the Emperor, for that there is none other cause reasonable betwixt them, by the which any variance or breach of peace should be; trusting that the Emperor will be reformed, and suffer "him with the governacion of the realm of Castile,"—the great point in debate between them. "And as touching the French King, that he also intendeth for to continue in amity with him, as long as that your Highness and your good father shall think standeth with the honors and profits of your highness, and no longer." Then follows this cautious advice: "The King your said good father being joyous and glad that your highness is in amity and good peace with all Christian Princes, and his Majesty not counselling nor advising your highness as yet for to move any war unto any outward Princes, unless that great causes shall move your highness thereunto."
From this it appears that Henry had already sounded the intentions of Ferdinand as to an expedition against France. But gladly as Ferdinand would have crippled the power of France, he dreaded no less the influence of Maximilian. More strangely still, he was afraid of his dutiful son-in-law. The marriage of the Princess Mary with Archduke Charles must naturally favor a settlement of the claims of the latter to Castile,—claims which Ferdinand had resolved never to recognize. To friend or enemy he measured his conduct by his fears; as this party or that gained the ascendancy, and were likely to support the rights of the Archduke, Ferdinand turned against them. For the present, however, the Emperor was the more to be dreaded. The turn of affairs in Italy alarmed the apprehensions of Ferdinand. "An it please your grace," says Stile, (fn. 26) "the King of Arragon, your good father, doth not nor will not take pleasure in the Emperor's prosperous estate. He is in doubt of the realm of Naples that they woll yield themselves unto the Emperor for the Prince of Castile, in case that the Emperor's cause prospers in Italy." So, without openly opposing, Ferdinand threw every sort of discouragement in the way of Maximilian, refused to let his fleet aid in the conquest of the Venetians, masked his conduct with so much doubt and hesitation that the poor Emperor was in a continual flutter of hope and despair; at once amused, encouraged, and betrayed. (fn. 27)
With the tact of a woman, Margaret saw through the artifice; but the simple-minded Emperor, in the conceit of his own sagacity, outwitted his daughter to his own disadvantage. He would not be led by a woman. He offered to accept the terms proposed him by Ferdinand, in the hope of securing his assistance in Italy. (fn. 28) To the delight of Margaret, (fn. 29) the arrangement ended in a total rupture. Meanwhile we find by the letters of Stile, of the 3rd December, (fn. 30) that Henry had not only made a proffer of his services to Ferdinand, but had since been in correspondence with France. "Your noble good father is not contented nor pleased with the answers the French King made to your Highness." These letters have not been preserved. But we know the result. Ferdinand, now thoroughly alarmed, desired Henry to send a private mission to the Emperor, and induce him to join in a league which should comprehend the Emperor, England, Ferdinand, and the Prince of Castile. Both were to write secretly to the Pope and obtain his concurrence "to the intent that the French King shall not nor may not attain unto his cruel purpose for to destroy all the country of Italy." (P. 115.) (fn. 31)
But the resolutions of Ferdinand and Maximilian were not to be trusted. With war on their lips they were ready to temporize; one to gain money, the other because peace and policy were more advantageous than violence. France had nothing to fear from the indecision of the Emperor, and nothing to hope from the promises of Ferdinand. Secret negociations went on through most part of the year 1510, without any open rupture. The fiery Julius employed all his energies, but in vain, to detach Ferdinand and Maximilian from their unholy ally. Every day the power of France grew strong in Italy, and threatened to overawe the papacy. But nobody moved. Even England continued indifferent apparently. Pageants and tournaments constituted its most serious occupations. If more ambitious designs had entered the thoughts of Henry VIII., young as he was, he still possessed enough of his father's reserve to conceal his future intentions. As late as the 26th July 1510, Docwra and West, the English ambassadors, were sent to Paris and received with every demonstration of respect. The cordiality of the two Kings continued unabated. West, on the part of the King of England, enlarged on the unalterable affection between the two crowns, to the extreme satisfaction of Lewis. (fn. 32) The King of England would do more, he said, to oblige his Christian Majesty than for all other princes in the wide world. The King of France was not a whit behind in profuseness of compliments.
This is not the first time in history that France by its singular adroitness and dexterity saw the Continent at its feet. Nor was it the only time that it lost all the advantages it had gained, by a single act of folly and bravado. Upon the ostensible pretext of ecclesiastical reform, but in reality to revenge himself on Julius II., Lewis set on foot the Council at Pisa. The most zealous advocate for ecclesiastical reform could not be misled by such pretences. He could not expect to see the spirit of peace and holiness shedding its influence over an assembly summoned for the purposes of strife and division, however much, in common with many of his age, he might have looked to a General Council as the only remedy for the troubles of Christendom. Barely supported by a few prelates notoriously in the interests of France, the Council fell into discredit from the beginning. (fn. 33) Its promoters, in their anxiety to gain credit with the world, published the names of certain cardinals among its adherents without their sanction. They were glad to disavow it and denounce it. The secret and open enemies of Lewis eagerly laid hold of the pretext to stigmatize him as the enemy of Holy Church. The King Catholic could do no less than come forward in its defence. Henry, the Pope's most obedient son, was bound to assert the cause of his spiritual father. From a turbulent sovereign, engaged in advancing his own exclusive interests, Julius was suddenly transformed into the champion of Christendom. He stood before the eyes of Europe as the uncompromising defender of that pure Faith of which Lewis and the Turk were the deadliest and most accursed enemies. The world justified the calumny. The arrogance of the French, and the cruel use they had made of their victories in Italy, recalled to the memories of men the sanguinary persecutions of their Christian brethren by the Infidels. A parallel to "the Son of Iniquity" had been found in the most Christian King. Nor was Julius slow to see and seize his advantage. Nothing could daunt his indomitable energy. He flourished both swords. He opposed Council to Council, and army to army. He had fallen sick through anxiety and vexation and had been like to die. Condoling Cardinals had fluttered round his deathbed, as they supposed, and his attendants had stripped him to his last shirt. But he rose up when given over, and in midwinter led his troops on foot in the midst of ice and snow. Ferdinand at once made an alliance with the Pope and the Venetians, (fn. 34) and used all his influence to induce Henry to join.
Maximilian, in the meantime, marching pari passu with Lewis, had taken to himself with inexpressible complacency the notion of an opposition Council. He had requested his daughter Margaret to send deputies to Pisa. She had told him, like a sensible woman, "Monseigneur, under your great correction, it seems to me you ought not to mix yourself up with this Council which is to be held at Pisa. Leave it to the Pope, to whom the cognizance of such things belongs." He was not to be dissuaded. Again he urges; again she replies: "Touching the sending of deputies to Pisa, of which you have written to me, Monseigneur, it seems to me, that as you are the governor of Monseigneur my nephew, and my lord and father, it will be sufficient "if you send deputies for us both. And, to tell you the truth, our finances here are so low we cannot muster a penny for any such purpose." Abandoned by all, he was now left to weather the storm alone. Reproach and contumely pressed upon him from all sides. He was taunted for his heresy by Julius and Ferdinand. (fn. 35) Even Henry could not help telling him that those who had advised or supported the Conciliable, as he contemptuously called it, had incurred the censures of the Church; and he read Maximilian a grave lecture on the sinfulness of setting at defiance the authority of his Holy Father. (fn. 36)
It was in vain for Lewis or the Council to make head against the general prejudice. The loss of Bologna by the Pope, May 1511, the splendid military achievements of Gaston de Foix, (fn. 37) the siege of Brescia (Feb. 19, 1512), the victory of Ravenna (11th April 1512), the terrors inspired by his conquests, failed to regain for Lewis the advantages he had forfeited. Before the winter of 1512 he had lost every foot of ground in Italy, on which so much blood and treasure had been spent. Justice sits at the wheel of Fortune. The prime agent of the League of Cambray against the unhappy Venetians was to reap the fruits of his own lessons. Lewis now saw himself face to face with a powerful confederacy, (fn. 38) consisting of the Pope, the Emperor, the Kings of Arragon and England. The cruelties of which he had been guilty in Italy were to be retaliated on himself. In the swaling of St. Peter's boat, (fn. 39) consequent upon the dissensions raised by this degenerate son of the Church, his more obedient brothers had taken counsel together, by letters and messengers, how they should best protect it from the storm, and find a remedy, if need be, even to the cutting off of the rebellious member.
Tandem sic Deo disponente, it was arranged that Ferdinand of Arragon should invade the Southern, England the Western and the central provinces. Maximilian was to receive 200,000 gold crowns for making himself generally useful in molesting the extra Italian dominions of Lewis. Julius, with anathemas in one hand and blessings in the other, should fulminate his censures, as often as required by his allies, against all who upheld and comforted this prodigal son who had endeavoured to rend the indivisible coat of Christ's church; whilst plenary indulgence was in store for those who assisted this Holy Confederacy with men and victuals.
Whilst these matters had been in preparation, England in the summer of 1512 had fleshed its sword in a continental war; now for the first time after many years of inaction, for the expedition of Lord Darcy to Cadiz in 1511 had proceeded no further, owing to mutual jealousies. By arrangement between Henry and Ferdinand, a simultaneous attack was to be made upon France in opposite quarters. (fn. 40) Ferdinand, supported by a large body of English troops under the Marquis of Dorset, was to invade Guienne, whilst Henry himself prepared to attack Normandy or Picardy. A measure of so much boldness can be attributed to no other genius than Wolsey's, and we learn from the letters of Knight, that he was generally reputed the author of the war. (fn. 41) The armament was ready by May 1512, (fn. 42) and landed on the coast of Spain, June 7. (fn. 43) But even the genius of Wolsey could not enforce strict discipline amongst raw soldiers drawn from hasty levies, and impatient of service in a foreign land. Great as his energy was, it failed to overcome the incapacity of commanders, whose personal bravery but ill atoned for their inexperience. Insubordination broke out in the fleet and the army; the seamen plundered the victuals when the soldiers were sea-sick (fn. 44); no provision had been made for their landing, and no tents for their shelter. The troops slept out in the fields and under bushes, exposed to incessant rains, and the tropical sun of a Spanish sky. The season was pestilential (fn. 45); the hot wines of Spain increased the evil; worst of all, no beer was to be had, and the English had not yet learnt to fight without it. "And it please your Grace," says Stile, in his quaint fashion, "the greatest lack of victuals that is here is of beer, for your subjects had lever for to drink beer than wine or cider; for the hot wines doth harm them, and the cider doth cast them in disease and sickness." The disorders and discontents were augmented by their total inaction. Faithless to all his promises, Ferdinand had failed to join them. He answered the repeated entreaties of the Marquis with excuses for delay. Instead of adhering to his arrangement made with Henry, he was busy in securing for himself the kingdom of Navarre. In August, Stile writes to the King: (fn. 46) "And it please your grace, as touching the King your good father and his council, as ever before this, according to the truth, I have certified unto your grace that their words and writings be so diligent and so fair, and their deeds so immeasurably slack, that I cannot judge, say, ne write what is to be thought or done; and continually I do write, according to the commandment of your grace, to the King your good father, and always his Majesty, by his letters, answereth that he will perform everything unto your grace, and that all the delays of time hath been for the best advantage for your enterprize of Guienne, that Navarre should be first put in a surety; the which surety could not be had otherwise than it is now had. And of a surety, Sovereign Lord, at my last being with the King your good father, I was so plain with his highness that I never saw his Majesty further out of patience than with me at that time, saying I believed not him, his Majesty affirming with many oaths that all his drift and entent was for the surety and weal of the Holy Church, and for your enterprize of Guienne. And in case, Sovereign Lord, that the entent or purpose of his Majesty be otherwise, it is hard for to trust the oaths and words of a prince or any other Christian man that so sweareth or sayeth it. It is evidently seen and known, by his policy and long drifts he attaineth many things to other men's pains."
No wonder the troops became intractable, and disaffection sprung up among officers and men. (fn. 47) A large number refused to serve any longer unless their wages were increased from 6d. to 8d. the day. The dearness of all necessaries in Spain, even the commonest, placed them out of the reach of the ordinary soldier. The mutiny was quelled, and one of the ringleaders suffered. But the inefficient management of those in command is strongly condemned in the summary expressions of Dr. Knight, who was then in the camp, and sent home to Wolsey accounts of its mismanagement. No martial exercises were kept, no training was insisted on, musters were neglected, many had been slain, others had died, and some had deserted. The instructions they received were disregarded, "and many of our council," he concludes with bitter sarcasm, "may suffer no counsel."
A letter from the same writer to Wolsey, (fn. 48) dated 4 Oct., presents the rare and humiliating spectacle of a council of war held by the English commanders at St. Sebastian on the 28th Aug., when the disaffection had reached its height. By a breach of discipline, unexampled in the military annals of England, the army resolved to return home, in direct violation of the King's commands. They had provided ships and baked their biscuit, by the first week in October, turning a deaf ear to the entreaties of Ferdinand, and threatening their officers who dared advise them to stay. According to Polydore Vergil, who was exceedingly well informed on the subject, and evidently compiled this portion of his history from authentic materials, the indignation of the King was unbounded. He wrote to Ferdinand to stop them at all hazards, and cut every man's throat who refused obedience. But the order came too late. The world was breathless with astonishment at such a flagrant act of insubordination, and expected from the King some signal mark of his displeasure. He would have brought the Marquis and his associates to trial. (fn. 49) But it was hard to discriminate where all were guilty alike. The matter was hushed up, and further proceedings were abandoned at the earnest request of the Council.
The news of this disgrace was not unacceptable to foreign courts and ministers. It confirmed the mean opinion entertained by them of the military inexperience of Henry, and deepened their conviction of English intractability and mismanagement. Even the Emperor and his daughter Margaret, though on the verge of bankruptcy, and stooping to every sort of meanness to extract a loan of 50,000 crowns from England, could not resist the temptation of throwing the popular taunt into the teeth of the English Ambassador: "You see," said they, "Englishmen have so long abstained from war, they lack experience from disuse; and, (added Margaret,) if the report be true, they are sick of it already." (fn. 50) The sarcasm circulated from mouth to mouth, and was so bitterly felt, that Henry considered it incumbent upon him to draw up formal instructions for his ambassadors, stating that Ferdinand and he had mutually agreed upon the return of the troops in consequence of the rainy weather. (fn. 51)
In fact, so signal a failure at the outset of his reign, and in the first attempt which England had made for many years to take part in a continental war, was infinitely more disastrous than it appears to us at this day, and threw an air of ridicule over the King's more ambitious pretensions. To the veteran politicians of Europe, accustomed to regard France as the first military power of the time, habituated to this conviction by its splendid victories in Italy, dreading its shrewd diplomacy and experienced statesmen, it appeared more than ordinarily quixotic and absurd for a young sovereign, who had never witnessed a siege, and never seen a sword drawn except at a tournament, to undertake the conquest of so great a kingdom. And, beside the blot on the national escutcheon, the late failure was the more disastrous from its effects on the minds of those whom Henry wished to conciliate, and whose co-operation, or at least whose tacit consent was requisite, before he could prosecute his cherished design with any tolerable chance of success. To invade France on the Flemish frontier, as he had proposed, it was expedient for him to gain the good will of the Emperor and his grandson Charles, Prince of Castile. The toilsome negociations by which he endeavoured to fix the shambling, shuffling, irresolute Maximilian to some definite and distinct arrangement are detailed in the letters of Poyninges and his associates. (fn. 52) Much, however, as Maximilian hankered after English crowns, it was easy to see that he placed little confidence in the warlike genius of England; he had no expectation that she would succeed in the struggle. He dallied with France, and offered but a feeble resistance to its fascinations. (fn. 53) Whilst on the other hand, the governors of the Prince of Castile, the betrothed of the King's own sister, made no secret of their little esteem for the English arms. They were at no pains to dissemble their preference for its rival; and looked with studied contempt on Henry's preparations. Had any wavered before, the failure on Guienne was decisive.
If England is to right itself with Europe, and wipe out the stain of its recent discomfiture, needful it is she should fall to work in earnest. War was not the wish of Fox or Wolsey. They had rather opposed it and thrown all their influence into the opposite scale. Now the directing genius of the enterprize was not Norfolk or Brandon, but Wolsey himself; and his vast influence with the King dates from this event. Though holding no higher rank than that of Almoner it is clear that the management of the war, in all its multifarious details, has fallen into his hands. He it is who determines the sums of money needful for the expedition, the line of march, the number and arrangement of the troops, even to the fashion of their armor and the barding of their horses. It is he who superintends the infinite details consequent on the shipment of a large army. He corresponds with Gonson and Fox about the victualling, (fn. 54) and is busy with beer, beef, and biscuit, transports, foists, and empty casks. (fn. 55) He puts out or puts in the names of the captains and masters of the fleet, and apportions the gunners and the convoys. (fn. 56) Ambassadors, admirals, generals, paymasters, pursers, secretaries, men of all grades, and in every sort of employment, crowd about him for advice and information. By the unconscious homage paid to genius in times of difficulty, he stands confessed as the master and guiding spirit of the age. Well may Fox say, "I pray God send us with speed, and soon deliver you out of your outrageous charge and labor; else ye shall have a cold stomach, little sleep, pale visage, and a thin belly, cum pari egestione." (fn. 57)
There was no lack of energy on all sides. Men felt that the credit of England was pawned in the encounter. But vigor and energy could not of themselves overcome the inert resistance of incapacity and inexperience. To bring together a large army from every part of England, to secure unity of action among officers who had never before served together, to assemble shipping from different ports, to ascertain the tonnage and sailing capabilities of the transports, to make the necessary provision of beef and bread and beer, to place all on board without confusion, to provide against minute accidents proverbially fatal to large bodies, demanded an amount of forethought, energy, patience, and administrative genius not to be found in any other man of that age. There was no war department, and no traditions of office to fall back upon. It is clear from the correspondence of the time that though Wolsey was surrounded by willing instruments, they had to look up to him for their instructions. He had seen no service; he had never so much as handled a sword, or tested the merits of a falconet or a culverin. His education had been that of a churchman; and till now he had only been employed in a subordinate capacity. Since the memory of the oldest Englishman, no enterprize on so large a scale had ever been undertaken by the nation. Not one in all that numerous host had seen much of foreign service. They had to encounter a great and powerful nation, full of veteran soldiers, accustomed to conquest, engaged for years in foreign wars, and rich in those resources which can alone bring war to a successful termination. Such an enterprize, with all the long training and subdivisions of modern official experience, must appear incredibly bold; how much more at that time, when the untrained genius of one churchman had to compensate for official defects and delinquencies, to ride triumphant over the inefficiency of officers, the absence of a commissariat, the disorganization of an army unaccustomed to discipline, unused to command, brought at haphazard from the plough, and never mustered for exercise except at the caprice or vanity of some great landed proprietor or some reluctant lord of the county?
To modern notions the motive for such an enterprize will doubtless appear inadequate. But war had not then lost all traces of its chivalrous aspect. It was the chosen field for the display of personal skill, courage and gallantry;—a tournament on a grander scale. So long as martial exercises remained in vogue, so long as every gentleman was trained to feats of arms, war became a necessity; and those dangerous pastimes, which often toppled over the nice distinction of game and earnest, were only redeemed from childishness by this necessity. War, like the duelling of later times, stood not on adequate motives; or found them adequate when measured by the spirit of the age. "Let nations," says Lord Bacon, (fn. 58) "that pretend to greatness have this, that they be sensible "of wrongs, and that they sit not too long upon a provocation." And in that age nations that were not sensible to wrong and ready for war, with and almost without provocation, must have forfeited all claims to distinction, and abandoned the hope of security as well as of greatness. It was the race in which all started for the prize, who felt a drop of genuine blood in their veins; the heat of exercise which kept heart and body healthy, when no other employment that could be considered noble, no other chance of distinction, was open to men.
The expedition put to sea in March 1513 under the command of Sir Edward Howard. It was arranged that the King should follow in June with the main body. Sir Edward had already gained reputation by his conduct in the late war of Guienne. His letters detailing the movements of the fleet will be read with interest. (fn. 59) There is something of that tone of self-confidence in them, which will remind the reader of Wolfe and Nelson; and in men of more doubtful courage would be deemed vain-glorious. The French had made great preparations to keep the sea and intercept the passage with a fleet of fifty sail. The English navy at the time consisted of twenty-four ships, of which the total tonnage amounted to 8,460 tons. (fn. 60) It carried 2,880 seamen, and 4,650 soldiers. The Admiral's ship, the Mary Rose, was of 600 tons, and carried 200 mariners. His subordinates in command were Sir Edward Echyngham, Sir Henry Shirborne, Sir Wm. Sidney, Sir Thomas Cheney, all equally anxious with himself to win the King's favor and signalize their valor against the French. On 25th April Sir Edward caught sight of the French galleys laid up in shallow water. They were protected by bulwarks on both sides, "planted so thick with guns and crossbows that the quarrels and the gunstones came together as thick as hailstones." (fn. 61) He at once resolved to board them with his boats. The rest must be told in the words of Sir Edward Echyngham, who was present at the engagement.4 "The Admiral boarded the galley that Pryer John was in (Pregian the French Admiral), and Charron the Spaniard with him, and sixteen others. By advice of the Admiral and Charron they had cast anchor [into the rails] of the French galley, and fastened the cable to the capstan, that if any of the galleys had been on fire they might have veered the cable and fallen off; but the French hewed asunder the cable, or some of our mariners let it slip, and so they left this [brave man] in the hands of his enemies." In the melée, or ebb of the tide, no one came to his support. "There was a mariner wounded in eighteen places, who by adventure (by mere chance) recovered unto the buoy of the galley, so that the galley's boat took him up. He said he saw my Lord Admiral thrust against the rails of the galley with marris pikes. Charran's boy tells a like tale; for when his master and the Admiral had entered, Charran sent him for his hand-gun, which before he could deliver, the one galley was gone off from the other, and he saw my Lord Admiral waving his sword and crying to the galleys, 'Come aboard again! Come aboard again!' which when my Lord saw they could not, he took his whistle from about his neck, wrapped it together and threw it into the sea." On making inquiries the next morning they could learn no more from the French Admiral than that, "one lept into his galley with a gilt target on his arm, whom he had cast overboard with marris pikes." Such was the end of Sir Edward Howard, whose loss was universally lamented: "for there was never a nobleman so ill lost as he was, that was of so great courage and had so many virtues, and that ruled so great an army so well as he did, and kept so great order and true justice."
It was a costly sacrifice; but the gallantry of the action retrieved in the eyes of the world the reputation of England. (fn. 62) At such a time, when unbounded admiration was felt for personal bravery, and victory depended much less on scientific combinations, such "a "dangerful enterprise" was fruitful in momentous consequences. It fastened on the imagination of both nations. From this man's example his countrymen jumped to the conviction that nothing was too arduous, and no odds on the side of an enemy justified retreat. From this man's daring the world took the measure of English courage generally. The French dared no longer dispute the possession of the narrow seas. The news was received with feelings of alarm and discontent by those who had hitherto disparaged the prowess of England. Its importance may be judged by the effect it had on those who were meditating treachery, and seeking an opportunity to make their peace with France. The victory gained over the French by sea, on St. Mark's day, as Knight informs the King, (fn. 63) gave no satisfaction to his father-in-law, Ferdinand. James IV., then plotting an invasion of England, condoles with Henry: "Surely your late Admiral, 'quha decessit to his grete honor,' was a greater loss than winning all the French galleys would have been to your advantage." He spoke more truth than he intended. But it was some consolation to remind his brother-in-law of his great loss in the full swing of his triumph. The most undeniable evidence of the importance of the victory were the sedulous endeavours taken to underrate it.
On June 30, 1513, Henry took shipping at Calais with the main body. The vanguard had crossed some days before, under the command of Lord Lisle. The progress of the army step by step to the surrender of Tournay on 24 Sept. is traced by Tayler in his minute and faithful Diary. (fn. 64) The papers and correspondence relating to the expedition, the arrangements for the army, the cost of preparation, the "moving accidents" of the field, are accurately detailed in the documents catalogued at p. 623, (fn. 65) sq. The main body under the King marched in three divisions; first came the van-ward with the chief of the ordnance; then the middle-ward with the King himself; last the rearward under the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl of Northumberland, and others. (fn. 66) The King was preceded by the Household, to the number of 300, mustered under the Trinity banner; in advance was the unhappy Duke of Buckingham with his 400 men. His banner was followed by Mr. Almoner (Wolsey) commanding 200, the Bishop of Durham (Ruthal) with 100, Fox, the Bishop of Winchester, with the same number. Next came the King with his banner and guard of 600 men, the priests and singers of the chapel to the number of 115, secretaries, clerks, sewers, grooms and pages of the chamber, with Peter Carmelianus (fn. 67) his lutanist, whose bad taste and false quantities furnished endless jokes for Erasmus. (fn. 68) The King decamped from Calais, 21st July, arrived before Terouenne on the 1st August, and was visited by the Emperor on the 12th. The experienced eye of Maximilian at once detected a capital blunder in the King's strategic position, of which his enemies however had failed to avail themselves. In fact, notwithstanding the disuse of war and the impetuosity of the Englishmen, their experience and superior skill proved of small service to the French. The veteran regiments of Lewis, still remaining on the other side of the Alps, had been shivered into fragments at the terrible battle of Novara. (fn. 69) Sick at heart and feeble in body, Lewis himself had driven over in a carriage from Paris, but was prevented by illness from taking part in the action. With the exception of La Palice and the well-known Chevalier Bayard, made prisoner at Terouenne, we miss the great names of the veterans who had served in the campaigns in Italy.
The surrender of Terouenne on the 22d Aug. was followed by that of Tournay, Sept. 24. (fn. 70) During the King's absence in France James IV. of Scotland had seized the opportunity of executing his long-cherished project,—the invasion of England. The letters of this King to the different potentates of Europe, now for the first time brought before the reader's notice, will be read with great interest. (fn. 71) They add something, though not much, to the scanty information we have of the state of Scotland in those turbulent times. With the exception of these few facts, the history is nothing more than the turbulent doings of an intractable nobility, who—
"laid about them at their wills and died."
By means not very easily traced, a thin sprinkling of the new learning had been introduced into Scotland. Here and there, among a barbarous and unlettered nobility, hardly able to write their own names, might be found a scholar whose command of the Latin tongue would not have disgraced Muretus. James IV. was one of these; and his Latin letters, as compared with the general Latin letters of that age, are not unworthy of Erasmus, who is said to have been his master. But they are too often characterized by a feeble elegance, that shrinks in dismay from the rough and ready Latinity of earlier times, and so lose in force, perspicuity, and directness. The character of James was not unlike his letters. That he had some reputation for learning is clear from the remarkable letter addressed to him by Polydore Vergil, who was engaged at the time in composing his history. (fn. 72) A better proof may be found in the interest he took in the studies of the youthful Archbishop of St. Andrews. (fn. 73) But with these good qualities James had the vices of his family;—a great conceit of his own wisdom and statecraft; an unshaken belief in his own powers as a universal peace maker. Without the means of preserving peace and dignity at home, he was thrust forward by his vanity to mediate between the great conflicting powers of Europe. He was bearded and defied in the precincts of his palace, not merely by his nobility but by his bishops; and at the time when he was making pompous professions of what he intended to do to secure the peace and salvation of Christendom, he was writing letters to the Pope to save him from the insolent encroachments of the Archbishop of Glasgow. That such a King, though not without some amiable qualities, should be untrue to his word, and in this respect most opposite to his rival, my readers will have expected. Among all the documents in the volume none are more painful than those in which Dr. West, the English ambassador, afterwards Bishop of Ely, describes his various interviews with James. A month before the expedition to Terouenne he had been sent by Henry into Scotland to ascertain the intentions of the Scottish King, and bring him, if possible, to some resolute answer. The cool, patient, and determined bearing of the Englishman, who never betrays his temper or the contempt he feels for the swagger of James and his repeated prevarications, the ability with which he unravels his contradictions and hunts him out from one subterfuge after another, the King "sore moved and chafed," plunging and floundering from one false statement or imprudent admission to another, form a striking but not agreeable picture.
He was bound by treaty between the two nations not to levy war against England, but allow their mutual disputes to be decided by arbitration. James had no intention to regard his oath, but he had not the courage to announce his determination to break it. He had written to the Pope already for a dispensation; and failing this, had resolved to obey his own inclination. Such was the state of hostility between the two kingdoms, that, notwithstanding the ties of blood, open war between the two Princes could never have been considered unnatural at any time. But James contrived to make his own share in the rupture wear a look of meanness and treachery. When the King was away, and all eyes bent on the siege of Terouenne, James began his march into England. His defiance, sent by Ross Herald, reached Henry in the field before Terouenne, Aug. 11. If not a perfidious it was an unchivalrous advantage. It told badly for James in the estimation of his contemporaries. From Henry it provoked no other reply than an expression of his disbelief that James would disregard the solemn obligation of an oath; but if such were his intention he doubted not the Scotch King would live to repent it. (fn. 74) No change was made in his arrangements. The only person who appears to have been despatched to meet this contingency was Ruthal Bishop of Durham, (fn. 75) who returned to London, and immediately put himself into communication with the Lord Treasurer Surrey appointed Lieutenant General of the North, and hastened towards Norham to arrange for its defence. "You are not so busy with war in Terouenne as I am encumbered with it in England," writes Katharine to Wolsey on the 13th August. "They are all here very glad to be busy with the Scots, for they take it for a pastime. My heart is very good to it, and I am horribly busy with making standards, banners and badges." (fn. 76)
Could James have foreseen the result it would have added to the bitterness of his death, that he was to fall by the hands of a woman. For there is no doubt that Katharine herself was the soul of the enterprize. She quieted uneasy thoughts of Henry's dangers by occupying herself in warlike preparations. The story of her address to the soldiers, as detailed by Peter Martyr, (fn. 77) may be apocryphal; not so the evidences of her activity, as furnished by official documents. But the rashness of James, his impatience to take his rival at disadvantage, and strike the blow before Henry could return, proved his worst enemies. The battle of Flodden remains a lasting monument of his incapacity. Of the correspondence relating to it to be found in this Volume, the letters of Ruthal to Wolsey, lately discovered, are among the most curious. (fn. 78) The Bishop is bewildered between joy and grief, between wonder at the great victory obtained, and greater wonder, if possible, that there should have been such a number of goodly men, "so well fed and fat," left among the slain. "The Scotch," as he tells Wolsey, "had a large "army and much ordnance, and plenty of victuals." (fn. 79) He would not have believed "that their beer was so good, had it not been tasted and viewed by our folks, to their great refreshing." (fn. 80) At one time he is for accumulating honors on my Lord Treasurer, who must be a Duke at least for his victory. "And if ye made twenty for Lords with their styles, and the residue with 'Trusty and well-beloved,' it would do very much good." At another time he attributes the entire glory of the day to "the banner of St. Cuthbert. The banner-men won great honor, and gained the King of Scots' banner, which now stands beside the shrine. The King fell near his banner."—"The victory has been "the most happy that can be remembered. All believe it has been wrought by the intercession of St. Cuthbert, who never suffered injury to be done to his Church unrequited. But for that the Scotch might have done much more harm." Rising above all these varied expressions of triumph and wonderment is heard the sound of his grief for the destruction of his castle of Norham; "which news touched me so near with inward sorrow that I had lever to have been out of the world than in it." However, he expresses his trust that by penance, and spending on it 10,000 marks the next four years, life may still be made tolerable. These remarks are followed by expressions of resignation worthy of so wealthy a prelate: "I never felt the hand of God so sore touching me as in this, whereof I most humbly thank Him; and after the inward search of conscience, to know the cause of the provocation of God's displeasure against me, I shall reform it, if it be in my power, and regard Him more than the world hereafter."
On the capture of Tournay, Maximilian, now thoroughly won over by English crowns and the discomfiture of France, was earnest with Henry to push his advantage to the uttermost. Polydore Vergil is willing to attribute it to Henry's moderation, that he turned a deaf ear to the Emperor's proposal. France had been sufficiently humbled to perceive its error; enough had been done to satisfy the injuries of the Church. Without wishing to detract from the praises bestowed on him by Polydore for acting like a Christian Prince, we may reasonably believe that the lateness of the season, the difficulty of keeping such an army on foot, and the delicate state of affairs in Scotland, were strong motives in urging Henry's return. The late brilliant victories had fully sustained the honor of England; and in defeating his enemy Henry perhaps had learned to respect them.
Among the prisoners taken at the battle of Spurs (fn. 81) was Louis d'Orleans, the young Duke of Longueville, and Marquis of Rothelyn, "un tres honneste jeune prince, whom I should pity," says Phillip de Bregilles writing to Margaret of Savoy, "if he were not a Frenchman." The young Duke was sent to London, to the safe-keeping of Queen Katharine, much to her annoyance; for she could find no one fit to attend upon him except my Lord Montjoy, the friend of Erasmus, who was then going over to Calais. Therefore, like a sensible woman much too busy to have the care of lively French noblemen, she recommended he should be disposed of in the Tower. (fn. 82) Young as the Duke was, he was in high estimation with Lewis XII., who had appointed him the year before his misfortune governor of Boulogne and the whole of Normandy. The tendency in England at the time to admire and imitate French fashions and French manners is well known. The great dramatist, in his wonderful play of Henry VIII., has given prominence,—not more, however, than is warranted by history—to this passion in the English aristocracy. Then, as on subsequent occasions, French captives and hostages were courteously received and caressed by their English masters. How the young prisoner spent his time we are not permitted to learn precisely, from want of the necessary documents, at least here in England, a mortification to which students of English history are continually exposed. He was evidently taken into favour; contrived, with the dexterity of a Frenchman, to make himself agreeable, perhaps to Queen Katharine herself, certainly to the King and to Wolsey. He was not slow in turning these advantages to the interests of Lewis, as will be seen in the sequel.
Henry had returned to England in November, fully resolved, to all appearance, to continue the war, and make additional preparations in the ensuing spring. There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of his intentions, or of his resolution to continue the war in spite of the insincerity and defection of his allies. (fn. 83) At its commencement he could scarcely have reposed much faith in the constancy of Ferdinand. He had heard of the dissatisfaction expressed by his father-in-law at the naval advantages gained by the Howards over the French. Ferdinand's subsequent abandonment of the league to which he had sworn a few months before; (fn. 84) the treacherous and underhand mission of his minister Quintana to form an alliance with France, when the conquest of that country by England seemed inevitable, could not have been unknown to Henry, or occasioned him much surprise. Peter Martyr, on the information of Stile, (fn. 85) represents Henry as extremely indignant at Ferdinand's conduct, and protesting he will never trust him again; but this may be no more than Stile's version of the remonstrance which Henry thought proper to address to Ferdinand, through his ambassador, and not the expression of his actual feelings. Externally, however, there was no change in his resolutions or designs. He appeared bent upon the conquest of France as much as ever. His ambassadors were instructed to demand leave from Maximilian and Charles to take up troops in the Low Countries. (fn. 86) They were ordered to remonstrate with the Emperor for his vacillation, and insist on the fulfilment of his engagements against France. Yet it appears from the correspondence in this Volume that the King and his ministers were fully aware that Maximilian was playing a double game. Whilst keeping up appearances with England, he was sidling and coquetting with France, anxious to secure the best terms from the highest bidder.
On the 24 Jan. 1514, the Emperor wrote to his daughter Margaret announcing Quintana's arrival from the court of Ferdinand, and his proposal for an accommodation with France. (fn. 87) Margaret in return tried hard to persuade him that he could not in honor assent to the offered arrangement. (fn. 88) She warned him that the only object of Ferdinand was to amuse him. No man, as she told him frankly, ought to know better than he how little dependence was to be placed on French promises. Besides, Ferdinand's interest and his own were diametrically opposed. If Henry, she said, had agreed to an accommodation with France (as Ferdinand pretended, and Maximilian affected to believe), he would have communicated the information to his ally; but she was convinced there was no truth in the insinuation; and if a hint of Quintana's negociation transpired, or the suspicions of the King of England were awakened, it would put thoughts into his head he never would otherwise have entertained. The Emperor must consider how perilous that contingency would be, for if the King of England threw off his allies, and expressed a desire for an accommodation with France, his terms would be accepted with open arms. He needed not the help of Ferdinand or Maximilian for an arrangement with Lewis, who would be only too happy to receive him without caring for his allies. With the tact of a woman she easily perceived that the widowhood of Lewis XII., (fn. 89) and the unsatisfactory state of the marriage settlement between Prince Charles and the Princess Mary opened the way for a union between the two crowns, of which France would only be too glad to avail itself.
"Monseigneur," she urges some days after, "there is great reason to fear that these fair offers are only put forward, on the part of France, to escape the storm that would fall upon it, if every one were as ready to do his duty as the King of England, who has made incredible preparations for continuing the war. Ferdinand may desire peace, for he is old and infirm; but that is not the interest of Monsieur (Prince Charles) and his dominions. (fn. 90) This young King, be well assured, will aid you with his person and his purse, without any deceit (like "France) or hypocrisy (like Ferdinand), if you give him no occasion to act otherwise; car je vous asseure, Monseigneur, que en luy n'a nulle faintise; par quoy en ce que luy touche, l'on doit aller de semblable maniere, et ne luy rompre nulle promese."
The advice was as prudent as it was honorable. But this was not the only occasion on which Margaret had reason to suspect that Maximilian disclosed to her only half his intentions, and asked her advice when he had formed his resolution already. He announced to her, on the 9th April, that the King Catholic and himself had agreed to a truce for a year with Lewis, upon an assurance from Quintana that Henry would make no objection. Her comment is very significant: "Monseigneur, the news you have sent me is very important, and very much opposed to my judgment (entendement). (fn. 91) I know not how the King of England will accept it, considering the great preparations he has made for war. However, Monseigneur, I do not want to know more than you are willing to communicate. I doubt not you have acted with the best intentions, and understand these affairs much better than I do."
In this same year, and at the time when this correspondence was going on between father and daughter, he who was the chief and unconscious subject of it had been struck down by sickness. (fn. 92) Peter Martyr tells his correspondent Furtado, in March: "The King of England has had the fever, and his physicians were afraid it would turn into pustules called the small pox (variolæ)." (fn. 93) By the instructions sent to Spinelly (fn. 94) on this occasion, it is stated to have been the small pox, apparently less dreaded than the plague,—the universal scourge and terror of this century. Henry had escaped all danger by the end of February, and rose from his bed with renewed resolutions to continue his conquests in France. He then learnt for the first time the full extent of Ferdinand's cunning and insincerity. By a series of secret negotiations, for which he was famous, he had contrived to detach the Pope and Maximilian from the confederacy, and in conjunction with them had agreed to an armistice with France for twelve months. The duplicity of which he had been guilty was increased, if possible, by the meanness of his excuses:—It was his duty to promote peace; he could not prevail upon his conscience to be a party any longer to a war against Christian princes, to which he had hitherto consented much against his will. He had never liked the war; had always expected that he would be betrayed by the English, and left to bear the burthen alone, which was more than an old man at his time of life ought to think of. Besides, the King of France had begged for peace;—to refuse it was inhuman; it was horrible. When such a King humbly sought reconciliation, and under such circumstances, he could not find it in his heart to refuse him, especially as he was anxious to devote the few days he might be spared, not against the friends but the enemies of the Faith.
When he framed these excuses he knew full well that no one would believe them. He knew that they would not convince any one of the honesty of his proceedings, or impose upon the meanest understanding. If they served any purpose beyond that of mere diplomatic conventionalism, it was to trail off inquiry from the true cause, which was not so much as hinted at. It was the policy of Ferdinand to keep all things, if possible, in statu quo; and balance against each other the different powers of Europe. He was afraid of the aggrandisement of his son-in-law; he was afraid of the projected marriage of Prince Charles with Princess Mary, lest it should lead to a demand of Castile by the former. By the skilful arrangements he had so secretly concluded he hoped that he had effectively prevented the further progress of all parties, and he trusted that out of gratitude for his compliance the King of France would shelter him from the vengeance his treachery had deserved. But, like most cunning men, he had overreached himself.
Henry saw all his hopes reft from him by his own father-in-law, and all his labours dashed to the ground. His indignation for the moment knew no bounds. He reproached Ferdinand for his ingratitude and deceit,—reminded him that at his own earnest entreaty he had entered on the war, had gone to vast expense, and directed the war in person. He broke off all communications with Ferdinand, and swore he would never trust him again. Maximilian, on the other hand, conscious of his treachery, did not stay to weather the storm, but withdrew, like a coward, from the King's reproaches, and allowed the whole fury of them to fall upon Margaret. (fn. 95)
A few weeks after, strange rumours had got into circulation. Anne of Brittany, Queen of Louis XII., had died on Jan. 9, 1514, "underly lamented," (fn. 96) in the language of the day. On 20 April Gattinara writes to Margaret that it was commonly reported "the old gallant would marry the young girl." (fn. 97) The report was probably premature, but it is certain that some correspondence had been going on between his master and Henry by the means of the Duke of Longueville, who has been already mentioned. He writes to Wolsey from Canterbury as early as March 16, stating he had received a packet from France expressing the cordial feelings of his Sovereign towards Henry. The matter was kept a profound secret. Not the slightest hint of it was conveyed to the English ministers or the ambassadors at the different courts, who, like the rest of the world, were kept in entire ignorance of the negociation. Whether a marriage with Mary formed part of the original design cannot at present be ascertained. She was not more than seventeen years of age, and Lewis was 52. Contemporary accounts describe her as the most beautiful woman of her times, though somewhat under size for a Tudor. "This last Sunday in Lent," says an unknown correspondent to Margaret, (fn. 98) "I saw the Princess Mary dressed in the Milanese fashion; and I think never man saw a more beautiful creature, or one possessed of so much grace and sweetness." Gerard de Pleine, writing to the Archduchess, bears similar testimony: "I would not write to you about the Princess until I had seen her several times. I assure you that she is one of the most beautiful young women in the world. I think I never saw a more charming creature. She is very graceful. Her deportment in dancing and conversation is as pleasing as you could desire. There is nothing gloomy or melancholy about her. I am certain if you had seen her you would never rest until you had her over. I assure you she has been well educated. It is certain, from everything I hear, that she is much attached to Monsieur (Prince Charles); of whom she has a very bad picture. And never a day passes that she does not express a wish to see him 'plus de dix fois, comme l'on m'a affirmé.' I had imagined that she would have been very tall; but she is of middling height, and, as I think, a much better match in age and person for the Prince, than I had heard or could have believed before I saw her." (fn. 99)
By the terms of the original compact Prince Charles was bound to consummate the marriage in the May of this year, when he had turned fourteen. But his governor Maximilian, now completely under the influence of Ferdinand, would come to no definite arrangement, and invented various excuses to avoid a decisive answer. (fn. 100) Margaret did all that she could to fence off the evil day; and wrote to her father in agony, as one pretext gave way after another. (fn. 101) The Prince was too young, or he was too ill, or he was not in the way. She was feebly supported by the Emperor, who was disingenuous and vacillating. Her efforts were thwarted in every way by the Prince's Council, who hated her influence, and feared their authority would be undermined by the alliance with England. They were moreover, under the influence of France. (fn. 102) Peter Martyr says, in a letter dated 8 June, 1514: (fn. 103) —"The sister of the King of England was betrothed to Prince Charles on condition that he should marry her when he had passed the age of fourteen. The King is urgent to have the marriage completed, as the Prince was of the age required on 24th Feb. last. But Maximilian and Ferdinand require its postponement, as the Prince is naturally of a feeble constitution." The excuse was not perhaps entirely without foundation. The feebleness, both physical and mental, of his mother, cast its shadow on the earlier and later years of Charles V. He was a sickly boy, of a sedate and melancholy disposition, grave and business-like beyond his years. Peter Martyr, in one of his letters, (fn. 104) endeavouring to impress his correspondent with a favourable notion of the Prince, then in his 13th year, dwells much upon the gravity of Charles. Even then he was a solemn censor of the manners of his attendants, and never failed to administer a severe rebuke if they had been guilty of any excesses over night. In fact, if he had one overmastering quality it was that of gravity;—a gravity that was never pierced by a single ray of passion or generous enthusiasm. The romantic affection of Mary, the appeals of Luther, the destruction of Rome fresh from the hands of Raphael and Michael Angelo, the fears of Katharine, and the curses of Spain, fell like water on that staid and decorous nature and left no mark. At 15 he was his own prime minister, and got out of bed at midnight to answer the despatches of his ambassadors. From his earliest years there was no spirit of boyish intemperance in Charles; no excesses to be corrected, no frivolity to be restrained. In active sports he took little or no delight; so that Margaret, writing on one occasion to Maximilian, thought it a grand piece of news to announce that the Prince had been out hunting. (fn. 105) The utmost excess of which Charles is recorded to have been guilty in his youth, was that of dancing himself into an illness at his sister's marriage. In a chivalrous age, and with two such rivals as Henry VIII. and Francis I., he was never betrayed into an unconscious fit of romance or generosity. No good saying, no act of forgetfulness, no impropriety, so far as I can remember, is recorded of him. He was universally solemn, decorous, and insipid; indifferent to the feelings of others, and never forgetful of his own. Sordid as Maximilian in his money dealings, he was without Maximilian's carelessness, irresolution, and nonchalance. That preciseness which afterwards found scope in regulating clocks, manifested itself even now. It presided over the amusements of the boy and prescribed the affections of the man. One of his love letters to Mary is preserved, (fn. 106) written probably to dictation; but it is so dull and decorous, it might as well have been his own composition. Love he felt not, and he made no effort to prevent the rupture. The story of his regret in after life is a mere invention. Who can wonder, therefore, that a respectable Scotch clergyman of the last age, on the look-out for a hero, should have thought he had found one in Charles V. The mistake is precisely one into which he was likely to fall—into which Princess Mary fell with her bad picture.
Early in June, (fn. 107) if not before, Lewis sent to demand the hand of Mary. He was ably seconded in his negociations by Longueville. There was not much to choose between a sickly, melancholy boy of 14, and a valetudinarian of 52. What solicitations were used to obtain her consent we know not; perhaps Gerard de Pleine has exaggerated her attachment; perhaps, in that age, female scruples and female delicacy were not much respected. The love affairs of the Tudors never ran in a straight or smooth channel. We learn from her subsequent letters, when she was married to Suffolk, that her reluctance, whatever it might be, was overcome by the assurance, that if she would comply with her brother's wishes in this instance, on the next occasion of the kind she should be at liberty to do as she pleased;—a promise of which she afterwards availed herself. She was induced openly to renounce her contract with Charles on 30 July, (fn. 108) at the royal manor of Wanstead, in the presence of Brandon and others,—to make a public declaration of her engagement to Lewis, (fn. 109) and appoint the Earl of Worcester as her proxy. (fn. 110) The whole course of her wooing, her love letters, the number of her dresses, her attendants, her reception at Paris, her coronation and life at the French court, may be read in the documents in this volume. (fn. 111)
She was conducted across the water with a splendid retinue, and met Louis at Abbeville in the first week of October. The description given by Peter Martyr of his appearance as he sate on a great Spanish war horse covered with magnificent trappings, giving unmistakeable indications of premature senility, with moist lips and slouching gait, we may charitably trust, is somewhat exaggerated. But the contrast was the more remarkable when Lewis took her by the hand in all the freshness of youth and beauty,—beautiful (as Peter Martyr says) without the adventitious aids of art, and with her native roses on her cheeks (Epist. 542). They were detained at Abbeville some weeks, as Lewis was suffering from the gout. The marriage ceremony had no sooner been concluded than all her English servants were dismissed. Mary does not scruple to ascribe this measure to the Duke of Norfolk. "I marvel much," she writes to Henry, (fn. 112) "that my Lord of Norfolk would at all times so lightly grant every thing at their requests here. I am well assured that when ye know the truth of everything, as my mother Guldeford can show you, ye would little have thought I should have been thus intreated. Would God my Lord of York (Wolsey) had come with me in the room of my Lord of Norfolk; for then I am sure I should have been left much more at my heart's ease than I am 'now." (fn. 113)
The truth of the complaint is substantiated in some measure by a letter from Suffolk to Wolsey; (fn. 114) who directly attributes the dismissal of the Queen's servants to Norfolk and his son, "because they were of Wolsey's choosing, and not theirs;" and advises him to have it redressed.
The alliance between the two crowns was not popular in England or the Netherlands; at least the disappointed correspondents of Margaret endeavoured to make it appear so, and magnified to the utmost the murmurs of the discontented. But, if we look back to the last three years, it cannot be denied that a vast advance has been made in the political position of England. From a second-rate kingdom under the dictation of Ferdinand, it had at once risen to the highest rank in the confederacy of nations. Its power was not the less imposing or dreaded, because in the moment of victory it had acted with moderation.
The marriage dazzled the eyes of Europe. France was in one continual dream of delight. English ambassadors swarmed about the French court, which they had never visited before, to congratulate the bride and bridegroom, to feast their eyes on the pageants, or take part in the tournaments. But in the midst of all this mirth, a conversation was going on between Dorset, Worcester, and Robertet, the purport of which can scarcely be gathered from the dark and oracular hints dropped in the correspondence of these ministers. It is so silent and so dark, that their fellow ambassadors in the same court have no notion of it, and Ferdinand for once was thrown off his guard. Suffolk writes to Henry, on 3rd November, that his letters were opened. "He had sent letters which he would not should have been seen, which the King knows well." After a variety of manœuvres to gain the ear of Lewis unseen, Suffolk is sent for by Lewis to come and visit his two daughters. In the midst of this innocent occupation, seeing the King at leisure, "and the chamber well rid," he took out his secret letter, and told the French King he had a private message for him from his master. Not a word is dropped by himself or Dorset, of the exact nature of this commission. "We have had," says Dorset, "divers communications with the French Privy Council. We leave (omit) to write because the charge is my Lord of Suffolk's. But, as far as I can perceive, all things go well, and to our master's honor." (fn. 115)
What was the purport of that communication we learn only from the reply of Lewis himself; (fn. 116) not from the English but the French archives. After thanking the King for sending so important a personage as the Duke, Lewis professes his desire to deal frankly with his new brother-in-law. With the proposition (fn. 117) made him by the English ambassadors, that he should assist Henry in expelling Ferdinand from Navarre, as a punishment for having violated his engagements, Lewis expresses his willingness to comply, and to raise an army for that purpose. To the second proposition, which was far more startling, he makes a more cautious answer. It seems that Henry had insisted that as the kingdom of Castile descended in equal portions to the sisters Katharine and Joan, (fn. 118) and he had married one of the sisters, he had a right to Castile, and as he was resolved to assert his claim he was anxious to know what aid Lewis would lend him for that purpose. Lewis excuses himself from giving any advice on this head, because he was not acquainted with the laws and customs of Spain, but if Henry would set an enterprise on foot for recovering the whole or part of Castile, Lewis would take his part without further inquiry; "mais la et quant le Roy d'Angleterre trouvera par son conseil quil peult et doit faire l'entreprise mencionneet es d. articles, tant pour expeller le d. Roy d'Arragon du d. royaume de Navarre, que aussi pour recouvrer le d. royaume de Castille, en tout ou partie, le Roy lors et en ce cas, sans soy vouloir informer autrement des d. querelles, est delibere et resolu de pourter le querelle du d. Roy d'Angleterre." This important concession, however, is coupled with a reservation that in the meantime, without disclosing their intentions, both parties should hear what the ambassadors of Arragon had to say, and communicate the result to each other.
The death of Lewis, shortly after, put an end to this extraordinary project, of which no distinct record remains except in this letter of the French archives.
During this time the domestic events of the reign are comparatively barren and unimportant. The court and the people were too much occupied with pleasure and pageantry in the earlier years to pay much attention to more serious matters; war and foreign politics took up the later. The chroniclers have been unjustly condemned for filling the pages with accounts of masques and revels, as if their attention had been engrossed by these to the exclusion of graver subjects. But at home, during the first two years, there was little else to chronicle. It was one unbroken round of amusements—revels at Christmas—masques and archery at May-day—tilting, and running at the ring, the rest of the year. King, ministers, and people were occupied with no higher thoughts than such fantastic sports. They are justified also by a curious letter of Queen Katharine to her father Ferdinand: "These kingdoms of your highness," she tells him with delicate flattery, (fn. 119) "are in great tranquility, and show great affection to her lord and herself. The time "is spent in continual feasting." Empson and Dudley (fn. 120) are borne to premature graves with little notice; the unfortunate Edmund De la Pole with less. The masques were not a whit less brilliant, or the maskers less lively. Who could expect that tragic, and "hearse-like airs," should succeed such careless easy strains? Or that broken hearts and forms of blood should change places with all that mirth and laughter? These chroniclers see more into the texture of life than their philosophical apologists. The reign of Henry VIII. was "a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground": and therefore, in the language of the dramatist "sad, high, and working."
With these exceptions, there was not a cloud to darken the horizon as large as a man's hand. But for the present, whatever scruples might afterwards arise, there was nothing to interfere with Henry's affection for Katharine. Of his marriage he writes in the highest spirits to Margaret of Savoy (fn. 121); he assures Ferdinand his love for Katharine is such that if he were still free, he would choose her in preference to all others. (fn. 122) In virtues befitting a Queen and a woman no one will deny her pre-eminence. The small disparity of age was rather in her favor at so early a period of their married life. She was a Spaniard born, of the bluest blood, of the noblest descent, of the proudest court in Europe. Ferdinand had not thought that in bestowing her on an English prince he was receiving a favor. What was Henry VII. in the eyes of Europe when he ascended the throne? Or what were the chances that he could hold it? It was he, not they, who received the favor, and touched his bonnet when the names of Ferdinand and Isabella were mentioned in his presence. Accounts vary as to Katharine's personal appearance (as of what woman will they not, according to the taste or humor of the spectator ?). "She is rather ugly than otherwise," says Nicolo Sagudino, secretary to the ambassador Giustinian. (fn. 123) "She is not handsome," says the ambassador himself, "but has a very beautiful complexion." (fn. 124) "She is of a lively and gracious disposition; quite the opposite of the Queen her sister (Joan) in complexion and manner," says Gerard de Pleine. (fn. 125) She danced well, was a good musician; was better educated, wrote and read much better, and composed in English more correctly than half the ladies of her court. Above all, her love and admiration for Henry were unbounded. There was not such a paragon in the world. He was her hero, her paladin. "With his health and life," she writes with affectionate solicitude to Wolsey, "nothing can come amiss to him; "without them I can see no manner good thing shall fall after it." (fn. 126) She is persuaded that the victory at Flodden and the capture of Terouenne "is all owing to the King's piety." (fn. 127) Her greatest comfort in his absence is to hear from Wolsey of the King's health, and all the news of his proceedings. (fn. 128) After the battle of Flodden she writes to Henry that she sends him "the piece of the King of Scots' coat which John Glyn now bringeth. In this your grace shall see how I can keep my promise, sending you for your banners a King's coat." She tells him she is praying for his return, and with characteristic devoutness is setting out on a pilgrimage to our Lady at Walsingham for that purpose. (fn. 129)
One great grief had befallen her which had redoubled her anxiety and devotion. (fn. 130) To the inexpressible delight of the King and the nation, a prince had been born Jan. 1st, 1511. A household and officers were appointed for the royal babe. (fn. 131) His serjeant at arms with 12d. a day, and his clerk of the signet with an annuity of 20l., are immortalized in Privy Seals and Treasury Warrants. Even the name of his nurse, Elizabeth Pointes, is recorded, and that of the yeoman of his beds and wardrobe. Preparations were made to celebrate the joyous event with all the fantastic splendor and magnificence characteristic of the times. In the spirit of the days of Romance, the King, in the garb of a knight, held the barriers with three others against all comers. Articles of the challenge were put forth in conformity with the strict rules of ancient chivalry. (fn. 132) Cœur loyal, the title assumed by Henry himself, Valliaunt desyr, the appellation of Sir Edmund Nevill, Bon valoir, of the Earl of Devonshire, and Joyaux penser, of Sir Thomas Knevet, were to recall to the world once more the golden days of good report and knightly deeds. But the bright vision faded almost as soon as the pageant itself. On Feb. 22 this desire of all eyes died; and the following entry, signed by the King and his council, is found among the wages of minstrels, lords of misrule, and salaries of ambassadors, grim and emotionless as death itself:
By the King.
Trusty and welbeloved, we greet you well. And forasmuch as our subject John Tomson of London, waxchandler, hath delivered in tapers of wax of 3 lb. the piece the weight of 432 lb., to burn about the hearse of the late Prince, our dearest son, within our monastery of Westminster, over and above the charges of the said hearse, which before this hath been accompted for and paid to the said Tomeson by Sir Andrew Windesore, keeper of our Great Wardrobe: We therefore will and command you forthwith and without delay, upon the sight of these our letters, to content and pay unto the said John Tomson or his assignee for the said 432 lb. of wax after the rate of 3l. 14s. 8d. the 100, amounting in the whole to the sum of sixteen pounds sterlings. And these our letters shall be your sufficient warrant and discharge in that behalf. Given under our signet at our castle of Windsor, the 13th day of July, the third year of our reign.
T. Surrey—Ri. Wynton—C. Somerset—Harry Marny—T. Englefild.
To our trusty and welbeloved servant,
John Heron, treasurer of our
Chamber. (fn. 133)
With these exceptions, there was nothing in those early years to cloud the brilliancy of the reign. The conspiracies that had troubled Henry VII. so often, dared not raise their front against Henry VIII. The Simnels and Warbecks had disappeared altogether. The only miserable shadow of a pretender, Richard De la Pole, (fn. 134) was a fugitive in France, dependent on a precarious subsistence, and surrounded by spies who transmitted notice of his movements to England. The nation at large was content and flourishing. It is astonishing to observe the rapidity with which it had setttled down to order in the reign of Henry VII. after so many years of civil dissension. It would lead us to infer that those wars were the wars of a class, and not of the nation; and that the effects of them have been greatly exaggerated. With the single exception of Cade's rebellion they had nothing in common with the revolutions of later or earlier times. They were not wars against classes, against forms of government, against the order or the institutions of the nation. It was the rivalry of two aristocratic factions struggling for superiority, neither of them hoping or desiring, whichever obtained the upper hand, to introduce momentous changes in the State or its administration. The main body of the people took little interest in the struggle; in the towns at least there was no intermission of employment. The war passed over the nation, ruffling the surface, toppling down high cliffs here and there, washing away ancient landmarks, attracting the imagination of the spectator by the mightiness of its waves, and the noise of its thunders; but the great body below the surface remained unmoved. No famines, no plagues, consequent on the intermittence of labor caused by civil war, are recorded; even the prices of land and provisions scarcely varied more than they have been known to do in times of profoundest peace.
But the indirect and silent operation of these conflicts was much more remarkable. It reft into fragments the confederated ranks of a powerful territorial aristocracy, which had hitherto bid defiance to the King, however popular, however energetic. Henceforth the position of the Sovereign in the time of the Tudors, in relation to all classes of the people, became very different from what it had been: the Royal supremacy was no longer a theory, but a fact. Another class had sprung up on the decay of the ancient nobility. The great towns had enjoyed uninterrupted tranquillity, and even flourished, under the storm that was scourging the aristocracy and the rural districts. Their population had increased by numbers whom fear or the horrors of war had induced to find shelter behind stone walls. The diminution of agricultural laborers converted into soldiers by the folly of their lords, had turned cornlands into pasture, requiring less skill, less capital, and less labor. Consequently, a new class of men, at the commencement of this century, were occupying the soil and had invested their money in land; and a complaint is made to the Parliament of Henry VIII., that "in consequence of the occupation of land by merchants, clothiers, and others," (fn. 135) housekeeping had decayed, and tillage had been turned into pasture. The petition assumes as self-evident that picturesque form of the happiness of ancient days, not uncommon in such complaints. But this tendency to recall the past, and invest it with brilliant but imaginary colors, was characteristic of the reign. It was the same with knight and peasant. The bright sunset of a departing age, from which men were rapidly and unconsciously drifting, still fascinated many minds, and filled them with wistfulness and regrets. When every man was contented, say the petitioners, with one farm, there was plenty of everything, as "every acre of land ploughed bore the straw and chaff besides the corn, able, with help of the shackle, to keep great beasts, as the land would keep laid in leyes; and by the winnowing of corn there were kept at every barn-door pigs and poultry, to the comfort of the people in every shire. Now in a town of twenty or thirty dwellings the houses are decayed, the people gone, the churches in ruins, and in many parishes nothing more than a neatherd or a shepherd or a warner is to be seen."
But allowing that this account may be exaggerated, it could scarcely be entirely without foundation. The efforts of the Legislature to regulate wages and punish vagabondism is the proof that many irregularities did exist. Licences to beg, and the continuous efforts to repress unlicensed beggary, indicate the prevalence of beggary. In fact, while wages remained high in the towns, and skilled labour commanded good prices, the drying up of the ordinary employments and means of food in the agricultural districts led probably to the wretchedness described by Sir Thomas More in his Utopia, and the severe measures required to suppress it. If Latimer thought that two acres of hemp, sown up and down England, "were all too little to hang the thieves in it," the prevalence of thieving must have been notorious. And these statements are countenanced by the frequent complaints of robbers made by Erasmus when resident in England, and still more by a letter of Peter Martyr, dated 19 May, 1513: (fn. 136) "John Stile told him that a band of robbers had attacked the King's wagons carrying money to the wars, and afterwards fled to sanctuary. But the King caught 80 of them before they could escape, and hanged them all."
On the religious foundations, which had sprung up in such numbers in every shire of England, and engrossed the revenues of the secular and parochial clergy, the civil disturbances of the last century were specially disastrous. Discipline had relaxed and could not easily be enforced. The springs of charity which had supported the smaller houses ceased to flow; the estates of the greater houses, by the loss of their tenantry, were neglected and became unproductive. Debt, with no chance of redemption, weighed heavily upon all. An extreme measure was required to avoid the scandal and misery caused by this state of things; and Wolsey, by an act not altogether unlike what we have seen in our own days applied to Ireland, found it necessary to suppress and sell the smaller and more encumbered houses. The larger, which still remained, were necessarily modified by the circumstances of the times, and their religious character impaired. They admitted a number of lay inmates, or at least kept open house for persons not connected with their foundations. In some cases the abbots were bound to give endowments to scholars of the King's nomination, or provide them with competent benefices; (fn. 137) pensions and corrodies were granted under the Privy Seal to yeoman ushers of the wardrobe and the chambers, to clerks of the kitchen, sewers, secretaries, and gentlemen of the chapel royal, (fn. 138) and these were strictly enforced, whatever might be the other incumbrances of the house. We find Ammonius, in a letter to Erasmus, discussing the question where the latter is to lodge when he comes to London. The Augustinians have only unfurnished apartments. He will not recommend the monastery where he is lodging, as they keep a poor table. Another is not to be thought of; it is too mean, and the rooms are not comfortable. (fn. 139) Expressions strangely at variance with modern notions of monastic seclusion and religious asceticism.
But, in fact, respect for monastic life had in a great measure passed away with the necessity that created it. The writings and example of Erasmus himself, a monk leading a secular life, caressed by bishops and all the eminent men of his time, were not of a nature to inspire respect for monastic institutions. In England, no minister, no ecclesiastic, no scholar, of any eminence, had of late years sprung from the religious orders. Their influence over public opinion, at least in the southern counties of England, had been entirely eclipsed, and they had done nothing to recover it. That in so large a body of men, so widely dispersed, seated for so many centuries in the richest and fairest estates of England, for which they were mainly indebted to their own skill, perseverance, and industry, discreditable members were to be found (and what literary chiffonnier, raking in the scandalous annals of any profession, cannot find filth and corruption ?) is likely enough; but that the corruption was either so black or so general as party spirit would have us believe, is contrary to all analogy, and is unsupported by impartial and contemporary evidence. The general complaint against them is that of ignorance and bigotry; and—what an Englishman would now consider as the root of all evil—the absence of any ostensible employment. Of this, however, more will be said hereafter.
The laxity thus introduced by the events of the last century, and the occupation of bishops in political affairs, allowed a freedom in religious practice and discussion to spring up unchecked among the middle classes. Except a man with more zeal than discretion chose to obtrude his heresies into the face of his diocesan, he had little chance of incurring the penalty of martyrdom. Of course then, as now, there were exceptions. The canons were enforced with different degrees of severity in different dioceses. A prelate might distinguish himself by unreasonable severity;—he might enforce the law against a length of beard, (fn. 140) or laxity of opinions. But, in general, the indifference or contempt with which the bishops regarded departures from established doctrines, especially when that dissent was not attended with scholarship, was more galling in many cases than when they launched against it their ecclesiastical fulminations. At a later period, when Lutheranism grew into notice by its daring defiance of ecclesiastical authority, the bishops changed their measures, and became more strict and viligant. The King's own book against Luther gave a new tone to the age, and a sharper edge to ecclesiastical discipline. But as late as 1520, diversities of religious opinion spread among the lower orders, especially in the towns, without much notice from the hierarchy. We find Ammonius, indeed, bantering Erasmus, who was very susceptible of cold, on the price of faggots, in consequence of the daily multiplication of heresy, and Erasmus answering in the same tone. (fn. 141) But this is a sort of banter which must not be interpreted too literally. Had it been literally true, a man of so mild a temper as Erasmus, and an enemy to religious persecution, would scarcely have indulged in so cruel a jest. Foxe, who was not likely to have overlooked such instances, records only two cases of capital punishment for heresy during this early period of Henry's reign. (fn. 142) The rapid increase of religious independence among the lower and more illiterate classes in London, as stated by the Italian secretary, may be accepted as a fact. But, saving their old freedom of taxing the Pope and his doings, and the cherished national privilege of preaching and being preached to, the general body of the people had not yet learned to question the established doctrines of the Church. For the most part they paid Peter pence, and heard mass, and did as their fathers had done before them.
I turn to some remarks on the ministers and ambassadors whose correspondence forms so large a portion of this volume.
Sir Harris Nicolas has collected with great assiduity all that relates to the constitution and powers of the Privy Council. (fn. 143) Unfortunately his researches point to a later period, and he has been able to throw very little light on the functions and formation of that body as it existed in the early years of Henry VIII. It is certain, however, from the answer made by Henry VIII. to the rebels of Yorkshire in 1536, that the appointment of the Lords of the Council, or the Privy Council, as it is sometimes called, was entirely dependent on the King's pleasure. As some of the great officers of the Crown had no seat at the Council, so men holding no office, and of no rank, were to be found among its numbers. (fn. 144) In fact, the Privy Council at this time was apparently nothing more than a body of advisers whom the King might summon at pleasure to his presence, without binding himself to accept their suggestions; without necessarily consulting them on matters of great moment. He might declare war, or determine peace, or form treaties, or enter upon the most important negotiations, not only without their advice, but without so much as making them privy to his intentions. To our modern notions it will seem the more strange, that the orders of the Privy Council, in this volume, should diminish in number in proportion as the events of the times become important, as if they had been entrusted only with the ordinary and formal business of the administration. In all matters of domestic, and still more of foreign, politics the King was absolute. No check was imposed upon his inclinations by his ministers or the House of Commons. Even as late as 1526, when a body of regulations was issued for the establishment of a Council, it will be seen that the Council was far from being of the highest consideration in the State. "Forasmuch as the Lord Cardinal," it is stated, "the Lord Treasurer of England, Lord Privy Seal, Lord "Steward, and divers other Lords and personages before mentioned, by reason of their attendance at the terms for administration of justice, and exercising of their offices, and other reasonable impediments shall many seasons fortune to be absent from the King's court, and specially in term times, to the intent the King's highness shall not be any season unfurnished of an honorable presence of councillors about his grace, with whom his highness may confer upon the premises at his pleasure;—it is ordered that the persons hereafter mentioned shall give their continual attendance on the causes of his said Council, unto what place soever his highness shall resort." Then follow the names of the Lord Chamberlain, the Bishop of Bath, and others. "And because per case it may chance some of these aforenamed persons to be absent, be it always provided that the Bishop of Bath, the Secretary Sir Thomas More, and the Dean of the Chapel, or two of them at the least, always be present, being every day in the forenoon by 10 of the clock at the furthest, and at afternoon by two of the clock, in the King's dining chamber, or in such other place as shall fortune to be appointed for the Council Chamber." (fn. 145)
The great officers of the Crown were, Warham Archbishop of Canterbury, Chancellor, Thomas Earl of Surrey Lord High Treasurer, Fox Bishop of Winchester Privy Seal, Sir Edward Howard Lord High Admiral, the Earl of Shrewsbury Steward of the Household, Lord Herbert Chamberlain, Ruthal Bishop of Durham, Secretary of State. Of the members of the Privy Council, who enjoyed the greatest influence, Wolsey, as might be expected, occupies the most conspicuous place. Next to him was the Duke of Norfolk, "a person of extreme authority;" to whose jealousy of the Cardinal foreign ministers, when they could not succeed with Wolsey, were more than once indebted for valuable information. Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk, nearer than any other to the King in age, tastes, and love of martial exercises, shared much of his confidence, although he was infinitely inferior to Henry in all literary and intellectual qualifications. "He is associated with his Majesty," says Giustinian, "tanquam intelligentiam assistentem orbi, which governs, commands, and acts with authority scarcely inferior to the King himself." Next in authority was Fox Bishop of Winchester; last of all, Ruthal, the patient drudge of Wolsey. Warham is seldom mentioned, and none of the rest appear to have enjoyed any consideration.
It will seem strange that the name of Warham should occur so seldom except in connexion with his high legal functions. He is never engaged in any diplomatic mission of importance. He appears from the first to have declined all public business. Drafts, memoranda, and letters are frequent in the handwriting of Fox, Ruthal, and Wolsey. But nothing of the kind is found in the handwriting of Warham. In the bustle and excitement consequent on the wars in Guienne and Flanders, and the naval preparations against the French, Warham remained an impassive spectator. He fell at the first from the great group which surrounded the throne of the young prince, and lost whatever influence he might otherwise have commanded by his station and experience. To what causes this neglect is to be attributed, it is by no means easy to discover. The vulgar supposition which imputes it to jealousy on the part of Wolsey is without foundation. Long before Wolsey's name appears among the King's advisers, Warham's want of influence is visible. Jealousy of the Archbishop's power over the young King would have been the most causeless thing imaginable; for he never had any. He was never acceptable either to Henry or to Katharine. His munificence to Erasmus procured for him the praise and gratitude of that somewhat venal scholar; but with the solitary exception of Erasmus, and perhaps of the unhappy Duke of Buckingham, for whom he seems to have entertained some kindness, it would be hard to point out a single person with whom Warham lived on terms of friendship. Probably, therefore, the little influence he enjoyed at court may be attributed, with more justice, to a hardness and inflexibility of temper, which could not bend to the new state of things, or comply with the impetuous and stirring movements of Henry VIII., so contrary to the stateliness, reserve, and mystery of the previous reign. We have indications in this volume that the Archbishop was engaged in a dispute with Fox, (fn. 146) the most devout and gentle of all Henry's ministers. We find Katharine, no less gentle and conscientious than Fox, in allusion to the same dispute, hinting at the same infirmity (fn. 147); and Warham's own letters at a subsequent period confirm the impression of his discourtesy, not to say moroseness.
Nor does the common tradition, which owes its parentage to the spite of Polydore Vergil, whom Wolsey had committed to prison, rest on any better foundation. This historian, who never forgot the injury, and never could forgive the Cardinal, would have us believe that Wolsey paved the way for his own advancement by supplanting Fox, and driving him from the Council. The calumny, like many others affecting the intimacies of great men, has no foundation. It was better suited to the atmosphere of Rome than England. And had it been uttered here, Polydore would probably have been told, as one of his countrymen was told by an Englishman on a similar occasion: "Non isto vivitur "illic, quo tu rere modo." The insinuation is at variance with the correspondence of the two ministers. We see in their letters not only the cordial friendship which existed between them, but also the rooted disinclination of Fox to a life of diplomacy. It is only with the strongest arguments that Wolsey can prevail on him to give his attendance at the court, and occupy his seat at the Council table. He was always anxious to get away. He felt it inconsistent with his duties as a bishop to be immersed in politics, and he laments it to Wolsey, in a letter to be noted hereafter, in terms the sincerity of which cannot be mistaken. In fact, the noblest minds of the time often experienced the bitter struggle between the King as their conscience and their conscience as their King. Others than Fox regretted that they had neglected their spiritual calling to serve the State.
It must also be remembered that Fox belonged to the old order of things, when monastic seclusion to men of his devout turn, and total retirement from secular employments seemed the only life that deserved the name of religious. Great was the fascination exercised by Henry VII., and still more by Henry VIII., over the minds of such men; but times of compunction came when this total alienation of thought and action from their duties as spiritual men became an intolerable burthen. So far from driving Fox from the court, it is the utmost that Wolsey can do to bring him there; and when he succeeds, it is evidently more out of compassion for Wolsey's incredible labors than his own inclination.
In this respect the statesmen of Henry differ greatly from those of Elizabeth. Numerous are the complaints of the weariness and expense of public employment. There is not an ambassador who does not send reiterated entreaties to the King or Wolsey to be recalled and released. Men of still lower grade petition continually for exemption from offices which were greedily sought a century later. The simpler and sincerer habits of those, must not be measured by the finesse and dissimulation of later, times. Habits of seclusion were congenial to the age.
So the main weight of public business fell upon Ruthal and Wolsey; the former of whom had the reputation of being the wealthiest prelate in England, and was not altogether exempt from the imputation of penuriousness. His importance was due to his close connexion with Wolsey, (fn. 148) and to his dignity as Bishop of Durham. Owing to the proximity of Durham to the borders none but a wealthy prelate could hold that see with efficiency. It demanded a princely income to keep Norham and the neighbouring fortresses in repair, and provide against the continual incursions of the Scots. It needed a wealthy bishop, but no more; the less formidable for genius or ambition the better. For there were elements of discord and insubordination in the North, which might burst forth at any time, and find a nucleus for their organization in an active and enterprizing prelate. On that head there was not much to apprehend from the talents or ambition of Ruthal. The numerous letters and drafts in his handwriting, often mistaken for Wolsey's, and probably written at Wolsey's dictation, show Ruthal's labor and patience. His own letters do not inspire much respect for his judgment or his genius.
Unlike his fellows in the Council, Wolsey's attention to business was not distracted by the duties of a high ecclesiastical appointment, or even the claims of large territorial estates. He held at this time no other preferment than the deanery of Lincoln. The bent of his genius was exclusively political; but it leaned more to foreign than domestic politics. It shone more conspicuous in great diplomatic combinations, for which the earlier years of the reign furnished favorable opportunities, than in domestic reforms. No man understood so well the interests of this kingdom in its relations to foreign powers, or pursued them with greater skill and boldness. The more hazardous the conjuncture, the higher his spirit soared to meet it. His intellect expanded with the occasion. Even at this early time he knew the extent of his power, and the temper of those with whom he had to deal. In a very characteristic letter to his vicar-general at Tournay, Dr. Sampson, who alleged the difficulties he encountered in his administration there, Wolsey tells him to do his duty (fn. 149) : "Ye need not doubt thereof; the Pope would "not offend me for one thousand such as the elect is, nor there is no "such thing spoken of nor intended. I would not have you muse upon "the moon, but to go straightly and wisely to my matters." Proud Cardinal and proud prelate were the terms lavished upon him by men as proud as himself, with much less reason to be proud. From a humble station, by his own unassisted efforts he had raised himself to the most conspicuous position not in this nation only, but throughout the whole of Europe. "He was seven times greater than the Pope himself," is no exaggeration of the Venetian Giustinian; for he saw at his feet, what no Pope had for a long time seen, and no subject before or since, Princes, Kings, and Emperors courting his smiles. Born to command, infinitely superior in genius to those who addressed him, piercing their motives at a glance, he was lofty and impatient. But there is not a trace throughout his correspondence of the ostentation of vulgar triumph or gratified vanity. Grave and earnest—it occasionally descends to irony—is sometimes pungent, never vain-glorious. Ambassadors from foreign courts when they first visit England, address themselves to the King, and write letters to the Council. After a few weeks a little penetration enables them to discover by whose judgment and decision every great question will be eventually decided.
But throughout the whole period of his long administration, and through all his correspondence, it is remarkable how small a portion of his thoughts is occupied with domestic affairs; and with religious matters still less. Looking back upon the reign, and judging it as we do now by one great event, and one only, it appears inconceivable that a man of so much penetration and experience should have taken such a little interest in the religious movements of the day and regarded Luther and the progress of the Reformation with so little concern. Grand also and munificent as were his notions of education, it is hard to find any statesmen of his eminence who manifested less interest in the revival of letters, and cared less for Ciceronianisms and Latin elegancies. When, from a variety of causes, questions of domestic interest became paramount, and the Sovereign and the nation were engrossed in religious discussions, the genius of Wolsey was no longer required. It no longer occupied the entire field of politics. The result was fatal; younger men understood the temper of the times better than he; they had the advantage of mixing in the strife with minds less prejudiced by the traditional maxims of the past; they were less trammelled by rules which no longer suited the rapid changes of the age. But so long as domestic questions remained in abeyance,—so long as the movements of Francis I., Charles V., or the Pope, were immeasurably more important than labourers' wages, the exactions of London curates, or the excesses of the Ecclesiastical courts,—so long the genius of Wolsey rode triumphant. No one could for a moment mount within his sphere, or contest his superiority.
The eclipse of his greatness was inevitable. It was in some measure owing to the dying off of his older associates who had served under Henry VII.;—to the youth and inexperience of the men about Henry VIII.;—to the reluctance with which Wolsey admitted fresh hands to a share of his labors. More than once he was urged by the King to promote younger associates, and provide for contingencies in the public service. More than once he finds excuses for complying, not from envy or selfishness; but, like other great and successful ministers who have long stood supreme and alone, he grew more fastidious as he grew older; he was less willing to hazard his measures by intrusting them to others, or damage the success of his plans through the indiscretion and inexperience of younger heads. With the failing natural to old age, he was more willing to tax his waning strength, than undertake the ungracious and unpalatable task of communicating his designs and explaining their bearings to raw associates. The policy was fatal;—it angered the King, it raised up a host of enemies in the able and rising courtiers. It left Wolsey friendless when he most needed friends; and the moment an opportunity offered of attacking the minister behind his back, it was readily seized on. Without any great ingratitude on the part of his Sovereign his fall was inevitable; the work and the time had outgrown him;—and the expression put into his mouth by the great dramatist, "the King has gone beyond me," expresses Wolsey's profound conviction of the real causes of his disgrace, and the impossibility of his restoration.
But of his wonderful genius, most wonderful in the earlier stage of his career, abundant proofs will be found in this and the subsequent volumes. The policy of Henry VIII. at the outset presented as great a contrast to the policy of Henry VII. as the administration of Cromwell did to his predecessor's. No minister so thoroughly understood that change as Wolsey, or entered upon it with so much zeal and energy.
Of his personal appearance the most faithful record will be found in his picture at Hampton Court. On that portrait the memorial sent by Sebastian Giustinian to his Seignory in 1519 is the best comment:—
"He is about forty-six years old," says the writer, "very handsome, (fn. 150) "learned, extremely eloquent, of vast ability, and indefatigable. He "alone transacts the same business as that which occupies all the "magistracies, offices, and councils of Venice, both civil and criminal; "and all state affairs likewise are managed by him, let their nature be "what it may.
"He is pensive, and has the reputation of being extremely just. He "favors the people exceedingly, and especially the poor, hearing their "suits and seeking to despatch them instantly. He also makes the "lawyers plead gratis for all paupers. He is in very great repute, seven "times more so than if he were Pope. (fn. 151)
"He is the person," continues the ambassador, "who rules both the "King and the entire kingdom. On the ambassador's first arrival "in England he used to say, 'His Majesty will do so and so;' subsequently "by degrees he went on forgetting himself, and commenced saying, "'We shall do so and so;' at this present he has reached such a pitch "that he says, 'I shall do so and so.'"
The story of his low birth, though noticed by Giustinian, is apparently exaggerated. (fn. 152) Its common version is hardly consistent with the Privy Seal, (fn. 153) 21st Feb., 1510, granted to Edmund Daundy, of Ipswich, empowering him to found a chantry in the Southern nave of St. Lawrence, Ipswich, to pray for the good estate of the King and the Queen, and among others for the souls of Robert Wolsey and Joan his wife, father and mother of Thomas Wolsey, dean of Lincoln. Indeed, had the story been true, it is highly improbable that it would have escaped the notice of his implacable enemy Polydore Vergil. He was educated at Oxford, for the priesthood, but from the expression in his father's will, published by Fiddes, appears to have felt some reluctance at taking orders. Many evidences remain of his skill in the Latin tongue, but none of any other, whether French or Italian. Though theology was not his forte, yet even his old enemy and maligner, Polydore Vergil, admits his abilities as a theologian. (fn. 154) According to the same writer he was a Thomist and induced the King to study the works of Aquinas. Beneath the malioe of his personal enemies it is easy to trace the more obvious traits of his person and character. He was extremely popular in his manners; offended the old courtiers of the last reign by his wit, and by the absence of that reserved and solemn demeanor which, we can readily believe, was acceptable at the court of Henry VII. From the bitter and indiscriminate satire of Skelton, written at a later period, we gain a few other personal traits of the Cardinal. After affirming that the French shot crowns at the cardinal hat,—
"That he ne see can,
To know God or man";
he proceeds in the following strain:
"He is set so high
In his hierarchy,
Of frantic phrenesy
And foolish phantasy,
That in the Chamber of Stars
All matters there he mars.
Clapping his rod on the Board,
No man dare speak a word;
For he hath all the saying,
Without any renaying. (fn. 155)
He rolleth in his records,
And saith, 'How say ye, my Lords ?
Is not my reason good ?'
Good even, good Robin Hood! (fn. 156)
Some say, 'Yes'; and some
Sit still as they were dumb.
Thus thwarting over them
He ruleth all the roast
With bragging and with boast." (fn. 157)
Expressive enough this, of the Cardinal's abrupt behaviour to the Lords in the Star Chamber. The charge of not keeping the Lent fast, a graceless accusation from Skelton, has some foundation in fact:
"In Lent, for a repast,
He eateth capons stewed,
Pheasant and partridge mewed."
for we find in the records of the time that, in consequence of the weakness of his stomach, Wolsey had obtained a dispensation from Leo X. to eat flesh in Lent. The poet is not less severe against the Cardinal's conduct as chancellor, and his contempt of the lawyers who pleaded before him:
"At the Common Pleas,
Or at the King's Bench,
He wringeth them such a wrench,
That all our learned men
Dare not set their pen
To plead a true trial
Within Westminster Hall.
In the Chancery where he sits,
But such as he admits,
None so hardy to speak.
He saith, 'Thou huddypeke,
Thy learning is too lewd!'" (fn. 158)
He then alludes to divisions in the Privy Council; (fn. 159) —to the vast crowd of suitors who attended the Cardinal's palace at Hampton Court as compared with the King's Court;—to the influence which the Cardinal exercised over the King's mind:
"That all is but nut-shells
That any other saith:
He hath in him such faith." (fn. 160)
Not satisfied with this indiscriminate condemnation of Wolsey's public conduct, Skelton proceeds to attack him for his want of learning:
"He was but a poor master of art;
God wot, had little part
Of the quadrivials,
Nor yet of trivials, (fn. 161)
Nor of philosophy.
* * *
His Latin tongue doth hobble,
He doth but clout and cobble
In Tully's faculty." (fn. 162)
And for this charge there might be some foundation in the little apparent interest taken by Wolsey in classical learning. Such indifference was enough to expose him to the attacks of the popular writers of the day. But abuse so virulent and unguarded defeats itself. Besides, in animosity against the Cardinal, Skelton was animated by party feelings. He was a native of Norfolk,—had evidently resided some time at Norwich, (fn. 163) —was intimate with the Duke of Norfolk and his son, and never omits any opportunity of recommending himself to their good graces by praising some member of the family, or blackening their personal and political adversaries. (fn. 164) Yet when occasion demanded Skelton could be as servile to Wolsey as at other times he was severe.
For the long feud between Wolsey and his formidable rival in the cabinet, Thomas Earl of Surrey the Treasurer, created for his victory at Flodden Duke of Norfolk, there is much better authority. It will be seen by the letters in this Volume that Polydore Vergil was not far wrong in stating that Fox and Wolsey regarded this nobleman with dislike. They suspected him of tempting the King into habits of extravagance, and fostering his passion for military distinction. Polydore insinuates that the Earl made use of his influence with the King for the selfish purpose of repairing his estates crippled by the late civil wars. I cannot find any documents which justify this assertion. No extraordinary gifts to the Earl in land or money are to be found among the earlier records of the reign; with the exception of his patent of nobility, and the annuities granted him after the battle of Flodden; (fn. 165) —a victory which eclipsed all others in the estimation of his contemporaries, and could scarcely be overpaid by any honours or emoluments. In common with other members of his family, the Duke was not partial to Wolsey. He disliked the influence exercised by the Churchmen over the young King; and probably hoped to counteract their authority by engaging Henry in foreign conquests and removing him from the sphere of their influence. The feud descended to the next Duke; and their party was espoused by the Earl of Northumberland. They would have been much more formidable opponents, but for the affection which the King entertained for Charles Brandon, afterwards Duke of Suffolk. Henry's partiality to this brilliant nobleman exceeded the bounds of ordinary friendship. He pushed Brandon's fortunes with the affection and assiduity of a brother. But Suffolk managed a war-horse much better than he wielded a pen. (fn. 166) He took but little interest in politics, and his subsequent marriage with Mary the King's sister compelled him to espouse the side of Wolsey rather than of Norfolk. The other members of the Council had a vote, no more; vox et præterea nihil.
Of the offices connected with the Privy Council little needs be said. The chancellorship of the Exchequer was a patent office of 40 marks a year. The King's secretary, if Erasmus may be trusted, was a more lucrative post. The most eminent of the number was Richard Pace, who in this Volume appears only as the faithful servant and executor of Cardinal Bainbridge. The Secretaries of State were secretaries, and no more, employed in making fair copies of despatches. The secretary for the Latin tongue was Andreas Ammonius, the friend and correspondent of Erasmus; the secretary for the French tongue Peter Meautys whose salary amounted to no more than 40 marks a year. (fn. 167)
Of the ambassadors of the times few seem to have been drawn from the higher class of the nobility. The duties and emoluments and even the honor of such appointments were not sufficiently tempting. The usual fixed pay of a resident was five shillings a day, increased by occasional bounties from the King. In some instances the ambassador was paid as much as 20s. per diem, but this sum included his own travelling expenses and diet and those of his suite. John Stile sent to reside with the King of Arragon, 20 Jan. 1511, is paid 10s. a day; Sir Robert Drury and Lord Dacre, ambassadors into Scotland, 20s. a day; 19 June, 1511. Dr. Yong, Master of the Rolls, on his embassy into France, 18 July, 1511, the same. When the Bishop of Rochester (Fisher), the Prior of St. John's, and the Abbot of Wynchcombe, were sent ambassadors to the Pope, 5 Feb. 1512, the first and second received 800l., the third 800 marks, for their expenses during 160 days. Dr. West, ambassador into Scotland, 16 April, 1512, had 20s. a day, and Lord Dacre, sent with him, 40s. a day. In addition to his pay as an ambassador, John Stile receives a pension, 12 May, 1511, of 40 marks yearly for his services beyond sea; Thomas Spinelly, 50l., 23 Dec., 1511. (fn. 168) But their emoluments and their dignity were entirely dependent on the King's liberality; and, as the sums given them were often irregularly paid, and generally in arrears, the position of an ambassador was not always to be coveted. More, writing to Erasmus, (fn. 169) in his usual pleasant strain, describes in lively colors the miseries to which an English plenipotentiary was subjected. "Tunstal," he says, "has just left "this; having spent scarcely ten days here, and none to his own satis-"faction. He has been anxiously and arduously employed all the time "in setting forth those things which belong to an ambassador's com-"mission. No sooner is this over, than, vastly against his will, he is "thrust again on a new legation, without any warning. I never liked "the office of an ambassador. We laymen and you priests are not "on equal terms on such occasions; for you have no wives or children "at home, or find them wherever you go. Whereas whenever we laymen "are away, we are called back by the love of our wives and our families. "When a priest starts on his mission, he can take his whole family with "him, and feed at the King's expense, those whom he must otherwise "have fed at home; but when ever I am absent I have two families "to keep, one at home and one abroad. The King provides tolerably "well for those whom I must take with me; but no consideration is "paid to those whom I leave behind. You know what a kind husband "I am! what an indulgent father, and lenient master! and yet for "all this I cannot prevail on my wife, children, and servants to close "their mouths and stop eating until I return." The miseries of ambassadors, thus jocosely insisted on by More, find an echo in earnest in the correspondence of the ministers at the different courts; and though the cares of their employment were sometimes alleviated by donatives or appointments, it was sufficiently onerous and ill-paid to deter many competitors from seeking it.
Of the ambassadors thus employed few were of high birth, or, with one exception, of high position. John Stile, the English ambassador at the expensive court of Ferdinand and Isabella, was a man of no rank or education. His English is extremely uncouth and often obscure. It is not improbable that he was engaged in business, like others in the same position. The name of John Stile, grocer (that is engrosser), London, alias scribe, occurs in No. 1662; and again, of John Stile, collector at the port of Plymouth (No. 1810), who is certainly the same as the ambassador at the court of Arragon. Peter Martyr calls him a gentleman of the chamber. This may well be; for such occupations were not considered incompatible with a place at court. Thus, Richard Lloid, groom of the chamber, is searcher in the port of Yarmouth; (fn. 170) Brian Tuke, clerk of the signet, obtains a licence to export kerseys; (fn. 171) James Worsley, groom of the robes, to import wine and woad; (fn. 172) Giles Talbot, groom of the chamber, to import 400 tons of the same; (fn. 173) Sir Wistan Brown and Wm. Sydney to export 2,000 sacks of wool. (fn. 174) They may have retailed these licences to Italian or other merchants, and occupied their office as searchers by deputy. But whether they traded in their own names, or used their influence at Court in obtaining these licences for others, never seems to have been either questioned or condemned.
Another of these ambassadors, Thomas Spinelly, the English resident in Flanders at the court of the Archduchess, was evidently a merchant like his brothers. His earlier letters are written in French, his latter ones in English; but he wrote neither of those languages with eloquence, and barely with correctness. He seems to have been by birth an Italian; but little else is known of him beyond the information furnished by his own correspondence. Like Stile, he appears to have been employed by Henry VII. He died in the King's service at the court of Spain in 1524. Sir Robert Wingfield, on the contrary, the ambassador with Maximilian, was of a good family, settled in the county of Suffolk, and evidently a man of some literary culture,—a gift he did not hide in a corner. He was deputy of Calais, but occupied that place by Sir Richard Wingfield his brother. His allowance at the court of Spain was 20s. a day, and the liberal grants made him by the King are evidences of the estimation in which he was held. (fn. 175) He, too, seems to have been employed by Henry VII. In fact, with the exception of Cardinal Bainbridge at Rome, the same names of English and foreign residents occur under both reigns. Cardinal Bainbridge was selected for his high ecclesiastical position in a court entirely governed by Archbishops and Cardinals. His wealth probably was an additional motive. For none but a wealthy prelate could hope to support the expense of a residence at Rome. His rival in the same court, De Giglis, Bishop of Worcester, who was supposed to be instrumental in Bainbridge's death, had been in the service of Henry VII. So was Hadrian de Corneto, the patron of Polydore Vergil; both of whom seem to have tasted the bounty of Henry VIII. The letters of these ecclesiastics, and the correspondence relating to Bainbridge's murder, are of the greatest interest. Many of them have never been published. Above all, the letter of Wolsey to Worcester, No. 5465, on the same subject, and the efforts made to obtain for him the cardinalate, will repay an attentive perusal. Sir Edward Ponynges, Dr. Will. Knight, Sir Thomas Boleyn, Dr. Tunstal, and Dr. Yong, Masters of the Rolls, and the Earl of Worcester, were employed on occasional missions of more than usual delicacy and importance. But the permanent residents were generally men of a lower position. This policy was inaugurated by Henry VII. It seemed to his reserved and suspicious temper safer to trust meaner instruments whom he could shake off at pleasure without incurring danger from their resentment. It was more economical. The employment of humbler men had, moreover, this advantage: they could more easily accommodate themselves to circumstances, and collect information with greater readiness than men of higher rank and pretensions. We are gainers by this policy in the minuteness of details furnished by such negociators, and in the absence of all affectation of political sagacity. They report the occurrences of the hour and the day with a laborious fidelity, which is of the utmost value to the modern historian, and forms a refreshing contrast to the dry and pompous formalities of later diplomatists. Of the actions and personal appearances of Maximilian and Ferdinand, of the movements of the unconquerable Julius, the Cæsar of all Pontiffs, more trustworthy information can be gained from the unpretending reports of Wingfield, Spinelly, or even Bainbridge, than from any other sources.
To the importance of the Signed Bills and Privy Seals, (fn. 176) in substantiating doubtful points of chronology, I have already referred. But these documents have an independent historical importance, which must not be overlooked. Bald as they are, they contain information on a variety of topics with which the historian cannot dispense. Their value to the topographer and antiquary can scarcely be overrated; and if ever the time should come for a sensible work to be written on the history of the English gentry, and of that body of men who from the time of the Reformation have been identified with all the great constitutional struggles in this country, it is from these, and documents such as these, that such a history must be drawn. The dissensions which ploughed up the land in the previous century exterminated with few exceptions the old race of nobility. A few, like the Duke of Norfolk, still remained, rather as fragments of their ancient grandeur, to connect the era of the Tudors with that of the Plantagenets, than in the full integrity of their might. But the civil wars turned up a new soil to the surface from which all the great names in modern history have sprung; and the cradle of the new race is to be seen in these Signed Bills and Privy Seals. Moreover, these documents contain the nominations of ambassadors, confirmation of treaties, commissions, summons for Convocation and Parliament, creations of nobility, congés d'élire of bishops, abbots and priors, presentations to livings and pensions, stewardships of forests and manors, distribution of forfeited lands, appointments at court, pensions, lists of sheriffs, mortmain licences by Henry VII., licences to import and export merchandize, to beg alms for the redemption of captives, and the like.
But even this list will scarcely convey to the reader just ideas of the significance of these documents, unless he bear in mind that they are also the records of the personal acts of the Sovereign, not of his ministers. No other documents, in fact, can give such adequate notions of the enormous powers of the Crown, under the Tudors, or show more distinctly the steps by which it had been aggrandized under Henry VII. Under Henry VIII. the patronage and the revenues of the Crown were immense. Besides the ordinary grant of tonnage and poundage, the expenses of the King's household were provided for by an annual grant of 19,400l., not including the assignments for the Wardrobe. To these must be added the sums received from Lewis XII., the subsidies voted the King in various years by the Commons and the Convocation, benevolences exacted under the title of free gifts, and loans that were never repaid. Happily they were not of frequent occurrence. When, however, the necessities of the Crown were urgent, the nobility and gentry were sent down to their several counties to stir up the liberality of the inhabitants. They were commanded to bring their tenantry and the neighbouring towns together, in order to meet, determine on a contribution for the King, and each man's quota. A troublesome opponent or refractory minority was easily controlled by a threat of being sent to London to state their objections before the Privy Council;—a threat which generally proved effectual in silencing opposition. For the expenditure of this and other sums, levied on the nation, the King was responsible to no one. He had no control beyond his own sense of right, or the dread of unpopularity, always a potent check upon the Tudors. Henry VII., by his ministers Empson and Dudley, imposed fines, upon different pretexts, under the names of recognizances, with what justice may be seen in the acts of his son and successor. The early pages of this Catalogue are loaded with cancels of these recognizances. In more than one instance, the writ is even charged with a clause that such recognizances were made "without any cause reasonable or lawful, by the undue "means of certain of the learned Council of our late father, contrary "to the law, reason, and good conscience, to the manifest charge and "peril of the soul of our late father, and that the sums contained in "those recognizances cannot be levied without the evident peril of our "late father's soul, which we would for no earthly riches see nor suffer." (fn. 177)
These remarks, however, can only give a feeble idea of the wealth and power of the Sovereign. Small chance as there was of successful opposition to his wishes, the King was in some measure dependent for these sources of his revenue on the good will of his subjects. There were others for which he was not dependent upon them in any measure, and in the employment of which they would no more have presumed to express an opinion than he would have thought of demanding it. In the union of the houses of York and Lancaster in Henry VII., it must not be forgotten that, besides a union of claims to the Crown, there was a union of estates. Before this time Yorkist or Lancastrian had to supply the expense and means for war from one half only of the revenues which fell into the hands of Henry VII. The lands of attainted and rebellious nobles were confiscated to the Crown; the estates of a Yorkist increased the Crown lands of a Lancastrian, the triumphant Yorkist retaliated the same measure on his Lancastrian opponent. When the war ended, heirs and claimants had died off, or were in ill-favour or under suspicion of disaffection; and even when the attainted lands were restored, some portion stuck fast in the transit; a part was voluntarily surrendered to secure the remainder. The rebellions under Henry VII. added greatly to these acquisitions; and the reader has only to turn over a few pages of this Volume to see how the Crown lands had augmented throughout the length and breadth of England by the attainders of the De la Poles, the Salisburies, the Charltons, the Empsons, and the Dudleys. In fact, treason was more profitable to Henry VII. than any branch of his revenue.
Amidst the legal and state fictions of this day, it is hard to realize the true position of a Tudor sovereign in the 16th century. The lands of the Crown, by whatever means acquired, were as much in the King's power as those of any other landlord. His personal management and control of them were as unlimited. He exchanged them, cut down the timber, built up or pulled down, appointed stewards or managers as he pleased, and at whatever salary he pleased. The revenues he derived from them were his own, to employ or waste at his pleasure. It is probable that this vast increase of estates under the first Tudors did not bring a proportionate increase of revenue; but it placed the power and supremacy of the King on a footing it had never been placed on before. It afforded him numerous opportunities of bestowing lucrative appointments on his courtiers. He had at his own immediate disposal the stewardships of forests, manors, chases, castles, fisheries, and mines; the collectorships of customs in various ports; nominations to churches on his estates; not to mention his ancient right of wardship and marriage which now sunk into an insignificant item compared with the more splendid and lucrative offices at his disposal. What is the result? The forests and chaces maintained a numerous and hardy race of men, trained to arms, and ready for the King's service at any time he should deem fit to employ them. They formed a standing army without its obnoxious features; without the dangers to which standing armies are subject, of becoming mischievous weapons in the hands of their officers. The appointment of customs at various ports was not only a reward for past services, but a watch on the loyalty and disaffection of the towns, and the indirect means for transmitting important information of foreign or domestic insurrections. Even wardships were not without their uses in this respect; for the King could, as we see from this Volume he did, entrust to those of whose fidelity he had no suspicion the wardship, training, and marriage of the sons and daughters of disaffected families. Of course, appointment of ambassadors, commissions in the army and navy, had been in his gift from time immemorial; but now, in consequence of the vast augmentation of the Crown lands, he could supplement the small wages attached to such employments by some lucrative post on the royal estates.
It may be thought that, after all, Henry would be guided by his ministers; that he could know nothing or little of the hundreds of claimants on his bounty. As an answer to that objection, we find among the warrants to the treasurer of the Chamber, (fn. 178) signed by the King, one in favour of William Wynesbury, his Lord of Misrule, directing the treasurer to pay him 5l., "upon the prest towards his reward for "his business against this Christmas next ensuing." But annexed to the above is a note from the petitioner to the following effect: "If it "shall like your Grace to give me too much, I will give you none again; "and if your Grace give me too little, I will ask more." An indication of the freedom with which Henry sometimes allowed himself to be addressed, for he granted the petition; and still more, of the petitioner's conviction that the writ would be read by the King.
But we have better evidence than this. On examining these appointments, it is remarkable how many of them are made to those who are or have been in personal attendance on the Sovereign. Scarcely any man holds an office of importance who is not familiarly known to the King. The Howards, the Brandons, the Jerninghams, the Sydneys, the Plantagenets, the Sherbornes, the Fitzwilliams, the Marneys, were or had all been squires or knights of the Body or gentlemen of the Chamber. The King's patronage naturally flows in this direction; and we have this curious result, that all great and important offices in the army, the navy, all influential departments of the State, are not only filled by men who have been in personal attendance on the King, but that the exclusive road to promotion is dependent on this personal service. No minister dispenses or even shares the patronage of the Crown; he may recommend, but evidently that recommendation is confined within the narrow circle of those who are already known to the Sovereign by personal and assiduous service. All this has changed the King's position, and vastly augmented his power. Unlike the old haughty nobility, who kept a jealous watch over the powers of the Crown, and, in the absence of constitutional restraints, acted as a check upon the undue extension of its prerogatives, the ministers under the Tudors, taken from a lower rank, looked up to the Crown and the extension of its authority as a support for their own. They are the servants of the Crown, an epithet which the ancient nobility of a past age would have rejected with disdain, as they would have rejected that subordination which it signified.
It is scarcely necessary for me to point the moral suggested by these remarks. It begins to shape itself in the dim vision of the past, and the confusion of the civil wars. As it drifts along the current of events, it assumes more gigantic and more definite proportions. War, peace, and even rebellion force the consideration of it on the minds of men. It flits in dim consciousness across the thoughts of devout men like Fox in their struggle between loyalty and conscience. It stings fierce men into treason, and thoughtful men into disobedience. Even the passions of men and the policy of kings, with no higher object than their own selfish interests, become instrumental to its development. The ecclesiastics who surrounded the throne of Henry VII. and Henry VIII., and sanctioned with their presence and authority the acts of both those monarchs, invested royalty with a spiritual influence in the minds of the people which could not be disintegrated from it, or resumed when the King changed their religious principles, and dismissed their spiritual ministers. The royal supremacy was now to triumph after years of efforts apparently fruitless and often purposeless. That which had been present to the English mind for centuries was now to come forth in distinct consciousness armed with a power which nothing could resist. Yet that it should come forth in such a form is marvellous. All events had prepared the way for the King's temporal supremacy. Opposition to papal authority was familiar to men; but a spiritual supremacy, an ecclesiastical headship, as it separated Henry VIII. from all his predecessors by an immeasurable interval, so was it without precedent and at variance with all tradition. Fools could raise objections, the wisest could hardly catch a glimpse of its profound significance.
Of other notices, but of a different nature, to be found among those documents, are the letters of denization for Katharine Gordon, the unhappy widow of the celebrated Peter Warbeck. No. 1030 is a warrant to the Abp. of Canterbury to deliver to the celebrated Richard Pinson, the King's printer, a true copy of the statutes lately passed in Parliament, that he may print them. No. 3253 contains his annuity of 40s. (fn. 179) From the same documents we obtain more accurate lists of the Privy Council; (fn. 180) of the exports and imports, which passed chiefly through the hands of Italian merchants. Among the former we find wool paying custom of 10s. per sack or 10s. for 240 fleeces, (fn. 181) broad cloths, kerseys, skins, lead, tin, oxen, and salt hides. In the latter are Gascon, Burgundy, and Malvesey wine, alum and wood, tapestry, girdles, ribands and laces, leather, silk, and gold, French and Milanese hats and caps.
Not the least valuable are the details they furnish of the fees and wages paid to the servants of the Crown and others. The Chancellor's salary is 200l. per annum. (fn. 182) Speaker of the House of Commons, 100l. The Chief Justice of the King's Bench has two tuns annually of Gascon wine (fn. 183) (1315). The Master of the Rolls one tun, and the House of the Converts (165). The salary of John Tayler, the Clerk of the Parliament, is 40l. (611), and he holds the living of All Saints the More in the city of London (1356). The King's chief carver has 50l., his chief surgeon 40 marks per annum (966); his apothecary, 10l. (1373); Master of the Jewels, 20l. (3040); Librarian, 10l. (3094); cup-bearer, 20l. (90); sewer of the mouth, 20l. (99); squire of the body, 50 marks (1276); Ann Luke, his late nurse, 20l. (284); serjeant at arms (622), veterinary surgeon (1370), porter and master mason at the Tower (1058, 1190), chief gunner (120), and the master of the artillery at Calais (609), 12d. a day; keeper of the Wardrobe (698), and master smith in the Tower of London (716), 8d. a day; yeoman usher of the Chamber (113), yeoman of the Guard (184), gentleman of the Chapel Royal (207), comptroller of the works at Windsor Castle (589), and keeper of the garden at the Tower (1888), 6d. a day; keeper of the garden at Eltham (929), only 3d. a day; the King's painter (2053), 2d. a day; the King's godson, Henry Windsor (1357), 1½d. a day. The salaries of the heralds are extravagant when compared with these allowances. Garter had 40l. a year (556); Norroy, 20l. (1338); Lancaster, 20 marks (975).
Turning to the army, (fn. 184) we find that the daily pay of the Earl of Surrey in the fight of Branxton field was 5l.; Lord Berners, marshal of the army, 6s. 8d.; captains, 4s.; petty captains, 2s.; a spearman, 1s. 6d.; a demi-lance, 9d.; a trumpet, 1s. 4d.; an archer, 8d.; a surgeon, the same; an ordinary soldier, 6d. His coat of white and green, the livery of the Tudors, cost 4s. His harness ranged from 8s. to 11s. If he kept himself he was allowed 1s. 6d. a week; and on joining his regiment or returning home he received conduct money, at the rate of 6d. a day, or ½d. per mile. The payment for the ordnance ranged higher. The master of the ordnance had 6s. 8d. a day; the captain of the gunners, 12d.; quartermaster gunners, 9d.; ordinary gunners, 6d.; but carpenters, wheelwrights, yeoman-carters, and harness-makers employed on the ordnance had 8d. a day. The King's messenger had 1s. a day; others were paid at the rate of 2d. a mile. A man and his horse received 1s. 4d. per day; whilst the hire of a horse at hard meat cost 9s. 4d. the month; (fn. 185) a Flanders mare for draught of the ordnance, 10d. a day.
The price of gunpowder was 3½d. to 4d. per lb.; saltpetre, 4d. A hand gun cost 9s.; a great copper gun with two chambers, 35l.; two iron guns, 25l. 6s. 8d. (fn. 186) These guns came chiefly from Flanders. Their names, and the weight of 56 such pieces, may be seen in No. 3616. (fn. 187) We have a still more curious document in No. 4633, from which we learn the quantity of powder and shot required to serve the guns. Every apostle (so named from a figure of one of the Twelve Apostles cast upon the gun) took an iron shot of 20lb., and 20lb. of powder, and might be shot 30 times a day. Every curtow a shot of 60lb., and 40lb. of powder, and might be shot 40 times a day; every culverin, a shot of 20lb., and 22lb. of powder, and might be shot 36 times a day; every Nuremburgh, a shot of 20lb., and 20lb. of powder, and might be shot 30 times a day; every lizard, a shot of 12lb., and 14lb. of powder, and might be shot 37 times a day; every bombard, a shot of 260 lb., and 80 lb. of powder, and might be shot 5 times a day; every minion, a shot of 8 lb., and 8 lb. powder; every potgun, 8 lb., and 40 lb. of powder.
In the navy the Admiral had 10s. a day; captains and treasurer, 3s. 6d.; under captains, 1s. 6d.; clerks 8d., and some 1s.; master and pilot, 30s. a month; master surgeon, 13s. 4d. a month; quartermaster, 7s. 6d.; quartermaster gunner, 6s. 8d.; soldiers and mariners, 5s. Elsewhere mariners' wages are estimated at 7s. 1d. per month. Victuals for captain gunners reckoned at 1s. 6d. a week. Coats for the navy, 4s.; jackets, 20d. Trumpeters and heralds are always paid excessively. I may add, that minstrels were paid 6d. a day; and the marshal of the minstrels 4½d., and 10 marks per annum. (fn. 188)
It is important to contrast these payments with the wages of mechanics and ordinary labourers. According to the statute 6 Hen. VIII. c. 3, the day's work, from the middle of March to the middle of September, began before 5 in the morning and ended between 7 and 8 in the evening. During the other months it began with "the springing of the day" and lasted till night; and during these months no sleep in the day was allowed. The labourers had half an hour for breakfast an hour and a half in the summer months for dinner, and half an hour less in the dark months. So, statutably, the day's work consisted of 12 hours, but was practically less. (fn. 189) Superior workmen, of freemasons, bricklayers, plumbers, joiners, had in the long months 6d. a day, in the short 5d.; if on board wages 4d. and 3d. The ordinary agricultural laborer was paid from Easter to Michaelmas 4d. without meat and drink, and 2d. with, and the rest part of the year 1½d. with his board. A woman was to have 2d. a day with her board, or 4d. without it; yearly clothing of a chief shepherd is valued at 5s., of a woman servant 4s., and the same for a woman or child. (fn. 190)
This rate of wages continued with little alteration throughout the reign of Hen. VIII. (fn. 191) In the Hampton Court accounts for 28 Hen. VIII., even in the winter months superior carpenters are paid 8d., 7d., and 6d. a day, prentices 6d., 5d., and 4d.; wire-drawers, 8d.; bricklayers, 6d.; prentices, 5d.; joiners, 7d.; prentices, 6d., 5d., and 4d.; plumbers, 7d.; scaffolders, 6d.; plasterers, 8d.; the servitors, 5d.; netmakers, 6d.; prentices in the King's closet, 10d., 9d., 8d.; gardeners, 6d.; common labourers, 4d., some 4½d.; chalk-diggers, 5d.; and the same for the summer months. Weeders in the King's new garden, all women, 3d. a day; but in another entry two women employed in weeding two days are paid 8d. each. The pheasant keeper at Hampton Court had 2s. the week, and 4d. for his bed, with an extra allowance for seed, eggs, &c. (fn. 192)
Of garden produce we obtain the following memoranda:—apple and pear trees, 6d. each; damson, 2d., rose trees, 4d., the 100; 2lbs. of leek seed, 12d.; 2lbs. of parsley seed, 4d.; 3 service trees, 7d.; 3lbs. of anetts (anise) seed, 5s. 6d.; for beetroot, carrot, thyme, parsley, caryway, cokcomer, mellyons, syderus, collyamber seed, &c., 12d. Seven baskets of strawberries are charged 3s. 6d.; and 7 baskets of prymrose 2s. 4d.; strawberries for planting 4d. a bushel; a grafting knife, 2d.; two pairs of sheers, 2s.; 200 of 2nd nails, 3d.; wheelbarrow, 14d.; a grindstone varying from 2s. 4d. to 7s.; a spade, 8d.
For carpenters and painters:—100 of fine gold, 5s. 8d.; a quarter of Synoper black, 3s. 4d.; a gallon of painter's oil, 20d.; 1lb. of white varnish, 12d.; 1 lb. of bristles, 7d.; 1lb. of glue, 2½d.; candles for carpenters, a dozen, 1s. 6d.; elsewhere 7lbs. of candles, 10½d.; 1lb. of pack thread, 4d.; a stone saw for freemasons, 8s.; glass for glazing the windows of the palace, 2d. the foot. Among other interesting items is one of 4l. 6s. 8d. paid to B. Augustyn, clockmaker, Westminster, for 20 brazen dials set up in the King's garden at Hampton Court.
The price of the provisions for the navy was estimated as follows: biscuits, 5s. the 100; (fn. 193) beer, 6s. 6d. the pipe; dried cod, 38s. 4d. the 124; Flemish fish, 28s. 8d. the 100; salt, 5d. a bushel; oatmeal, 10d., and some 14d. (fn. 194) a bushel; oil, 10d. a gallon.
But the expenses paid for the victuals of the men employed in building The Great Harry will perhaps put the subject more clearly before my readers. (fn. 195) It appears that the number of mariners employed was 217, and 141 shipwrights, with their ordinary officers, master, quartermaster, and purser. The account begins 3 Oct. 1512, and ends 6 July 1514. The master's wages were 20s. the month, the quartermaster's, 10s., the purser's, 8s., other officers, 7s. 6d., mariner's, 3s. They consumed 7,497½ dozen and 2 loaves of bread, 370l. 7s. 8d.; 1,543 pipes and 2 kilderkins of beer, 526l. 19s. 11d.; 557 beeves, 706l. 17s. 19d.; 205 score muttons, 32l. 5s. 8d.; pork, 36s.; 27 calves, 75s.; ling, salt-fish, cod, salmon, red and white herrings, sprats, of which the particulars are given; 7 barrels of butter, 4l. 6s. 0d.; 30 weys and 3 quarters of cheese. The only vegetables mentioned are grey and green pease.
As a contrast, I submit to my readers the following extracts from a MS. in the Rolls House, entitled:
"The charges and expenses of dinners made and provided at Westminster, as well for the Reverend Father in God the Lord Cardinal of the Soucheris (Swiss), as for the lords of our Sovereign Lord the King's most honorable Council. From the 29th day of December in the 7th year of the reign of our said Sovereign Lord the King unto the 12th day of July in the 10th year of our said Sovereign Lord the King's reign as by the space of 2 years half and 13 days, as it doth hereafter ensue." (fn. 196)
Wednesday the 29th day of Dec. Item for bread, 16d.; ale, 2s.; herbs, 1d.; butter, 14d.; a ling, 20d.; a haburdyne, 6d.; 4 jowls of salmon, 18d.; 3 pikes, 7s. 9d.; a salmon and 2 chines, 15s.; herrings, 7d.; eels to roast, 18d.; eels to bake, 12d.; lampreys to roast, 12d.; lampreys for stew, 6d.; lampreys to blote, 16d.; oysters, 3d.; oranges, 4d.; curds, 6d.; apples, 4d.; flour, 10d.; boat hire, 13d.; salt, 5d.; and sauce, 4d.; cups, 5d.; trenchers, 1½d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d. Sum total, 43s. 10½d.
Thursday the 30th day of Dec. Item, bread, 18d.; ale, 2s.; herbs, 1½d.; butter, 8d.; a ling, 14d.; a haburdine, 6d.; 3 jowls salmon, 18d.; 2 pikes, 5s. 6d.; half a salmon and the chine, 6s. 5d.; herrings, 6d.; eels to roast, 16d.; lampreys to roast, 18d.; to blote, 14d.; and for stew, 6d.; oysters, 3d.; lampreys to bake, 16d.; oranges, 3d.; cream, 8d.; apples, 4d.; 2 haddocks, 20d.; flour, 10d.; boat hire, 13d.; spices, 2s.; salt, 6d.; and sauce, 6d.; cups, 2d.; trenchers, 1½d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d. Sum total, 36s. 5d.
Friday, 31st Dec. Item, bread, 20d.; ale, 2s.; herbs, 1d.; butter, 12d.; a ling, 16d.; a haburdyne, 6d.; 2 pikes, 5s. 4d.; 3 haddocks, 2s. 9d.; flounders, 16d.; lampreys for stew, 6d.; lampreys to roast, 16d.; eels to roast, 18d.; lampreys to blote, 16d.; oysters, 3d.; herrings, 6d.; flour, 12d.; spices, 7s.; quinces, 3s. 5d.; boat hire, 13d.; salt, 4d.; and sauce, 5d.; trenchers, 1½d.; apples, 4d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d. Sum total, 37s. 5½d.
Monday 10th Mar. Item, bread, 2s.; ale, 2s.; herbs, 2d.; a ling, 16d.; a cod, 14d.; 3 jowls of salmon, 21d.; a turbot, 6s. 8d.; 6 gurnards, 8s. 4d.; 6 haddocks, 3s.; 6 soles, 2s.; half a salmon and the chine, 8s.; eels to roast, 2s.; lampreys to roast, 12d.; eels to bake, 16d.; oysters, 3d.; apples, 10d.; mussels, 2d.; oranges, 2d.; spices, 4s.; salt and sauce, 8d.; oil, 8d.; cups, 5d.; trenchers, 1½d.; boat hire, 12d.; herrings, 6d.; flour, 8d.; salt eels, 2s. 4d.; a turbot, 4s.; for my lord Cardinal cook's wages, 2s. 4d. Sum total, 58s. 10½d.
Tuesday 11th Mar. Item, for bread, 20d.; ale, 2s.; herbs, 2d.; a ling, 16d.; a cod, 16d.; 3 jowls of salmon, 20d.; 4 great gurnards, 5s. 8d.; half a salmon, 10s.; a turbot, 6s. 8d.; eels to roast, 2s.; 12 baking oranges, 2s.; oysters, 3d.; salt eels, 2s. 4d.; lampreys to roast, 14d.; mussels, 2d.; boat hire, 12d.; flour, 10d.; eels to bake, 16d.; lampreys for stew, 6d.; spices, 4s.; apples, 8d.; salt and sauce, 10d.; oil, 8d.; herrings, 6d.; washing of cloths, 12d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d. Sum, 52s. 1d.
Monday the last day of March at the Tower, for the Embassador of Savoy Item, for bread, 2s. 6d.; ale, 4s.; wine, 4s.; herbs, 1d.; butter, 12d.; 2 sirloins of beef, 3s. 4d.; 4 loins of mutton, 2s.; 2 kids, 5s. 4d.; a loin of veal, 7d.; a breast of veal, 7d.; 15 marrowbones, 2s. 6d.; potage flesh, 4d.; cups, 5d.; trenchers, 3d.; apples, 5d.; 4 capons, 7s.; 4 pheasants, 10s. 8d.; 18 chickens, 3s.; 2 doz. pigeons, 2s. 4d.; eggs, 5d.; 18 rabbits, 3s.; spices, 3s. 1d.; salt and sauce, 6d.; curd, 8d.; flour, 10d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d. Sum total, 3l. 0s. 14d.
Monday 23 June. Item, bread, 18d.; ale, 2s.; herbs, 1d.; butter, 6d.; a ling, 13d.; a haberdine, 6d.; 6 place, 2s.; 3 couple of soles, 16d.; 10 mackerel, 8d.; half a salmon and the chine, 12s.; a doree, 3s.; half a conger, 4s.; a turbot, 5s.; flounders, 6d.; boat hire, 13d.; flour, 8d.; spices, 2s. 6d.; salt and sauce, 6d.; cups, 5d.; peas, 4d.; beans, 4d.; cherrys, 4d.; sweet butter, 4d.; boat hire, 13d.; gooseberrys, 2d.; salt, 4d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d.; sum total, 44s. 7d. Item, paid for 31 quarters of coals, 10s. 4d.
Wednesday 25th June. Item, for bread, 18d.; ale, 2s.; beer, 18d.; herbs, 2d.; sirloin and a half of beef, 2s. 2d.; 2 loins of mutton, 12d.; a kid, 3s.; 8 marrow bones, 16d.; potage flesh, 3d.; 3 breasts of veal, 21d.; spices, 2s. 6d.; salt and sauce, 5d.; milk, 6d.; wheat, 4d.; cream, 6d.; cherrys, 8d.; apples, 6d.; boat hire, 13d.; butter to baste, 6d.; onions, 1d.; sweet butter, 6d.; gooseberrys, 2d.; peas and beans, 4d.; flour, 10d.; 6 geese, 3s. 6d.; 12 chickens, 2s.; a doz. of quails, 4s.; 8 rundre, 2s.; eggs, 6d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d.; trenchers, 2d. Sum total, 38s. 1d.
Thursday 26th June. Item, for bread, 18d.; ale, 2s.; butter, 6d.; a sirloin of beef, 18d.; 2 loins of mutton, 12d.; a neck of mutton, 4d.; a breast of veal, 7d.; 8 marrow bones, 16d.; potage flesh, 3d.; 3 capons, 6s.; 3 heronsews, 6s.; 2 doz. pigeons, 2s. 8d.; 8 rabbits, 2s.; a doz. quails, 4s.; spices, 2s.; salt and sauce, 5d.; flour, 8d.; boat hire, 13d.; cherrys, 6d.; apples, 6d.; peas, beans, 6d.; herbs, 2d.; gooseberrys, 2d.; butter to baste, 6d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d.; 6 geese, 3s. 6d.; bacon, 6d.; 4 coneys, 12d.; eggs, 6d. Sum total, 44s.
Wednesday 18 June. Item, bread, 18d.; ale, 2s.; beer, 18d.; herbs, 2d.; butter, 6d.; a sirloin of beef, 18d.; 2 loins of mutton, 12d.; a neck of mutton, 4d.; a breast of veal, 7d.; potage flesh, 3d.; 8 marrow bones, 16d.; 3 breasts of veal, 21d.; peas, 4d.; beans, 4d.; strawberrys, 18d.; apples, 6d.; spices, 3s.; salt and sauce, 5d.; 3 heronsews, 6s.; 6 geese, 3s. 6d.; eggs, 5½d.; 6 ronners, 18d.; 18 quails, 5s.; cream, 6d.; flour, 8d.; milk, 4d.; wheat, 4d.; boat hire, 13d.; butter to baste, 6d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d.; suet to fry, 4d.; a basket for coals, 3d.; salt, 4d.; gooseberrys, 2d. Sum total, 41s. 9½d.
Thursday 23 Oct. Item, bread, 18d.; ale, 2s.; herbs, 1d.; butter, 6d.; sirloin and half of beef, 2s.; 2 loins of mutton, 12d.; 4 partridges, 2s. 8d.; 8 woodcocks, 3s. 4d.; 6 plovers, 16d.; 3 bitterns, 6s.; a breast of veal, 7d.; 3 capons, 5s.; a swan, 5s.; a goose, 8d.; 3 doz. larks. 15d.; potage flesh, 3d.; 6 marrow bones, 12d.; pears, 4d.; apples, 6d.; cups, 5d.; trenchers, 2d.; flour, 10d.; 6 quails, 2s.; boat hire, 13d.; cook's wages, 2s.; spice, 4s.; salt and sauce, 6d.; quinces, 12d. Sum total, 47s.
Friday 24 Oct. Item, for bread, 20d.; ale, 2s.; herbs, 1d.; butter, 10d.; a ling, 12d.; a haberdine, 6d.; 3 jowls of salmon, 18d.; baking-herrings, 6d.; 6 had-docks, 2s. 8d.; fresh herrings, 6d.; a conger, 8s.; 2 pikes, 4s. 8d.; a quarter of porpoise, 10s.; 3 couple of soles, 2s.; 4 plaice, 16d.; lampreys to bake, 8d.; flour, 8d.; cups, 5d.; trenchers, 2d.; pears, 4d.; apples, 6d.; medlars, 4d.; spices, 4s.; salt and sauce, 6d.; quinces, 12d.; oysters, 3d.; lampreys for stew, 6d.; boat hire, 13d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d. Sum total, 50s.
Saturday 25 Oct. Item, bread, 18d.; ale, 2s.; beer, 9d.; herbs, 1d.; flounders for stew, 6d.; oysters, 3d.; butter, 10d.; flour, 10d.; boat hire, 10d.; quinces, 8d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d.; a ling, 12d.; a haberdine, 6d.; baking herrings, 6d.; fresh herrings, 6d.; 6 haddocks, 2s. 8d.; 20 whitings, 20d.; 3 jowls of salmon, 18d.; 2 pikes, 4s. 6d.; a quarter of a porpoise, 10s.; spices, 4s.; salt and sauce, 7d.; cups, 5d.; trenchers, 2d.; pears, 2d.; apples, 6d.; medlars, 4d.; washing, 12d. Sum total, 40s. 7d."
7th Jan. A swan, 6s.; 12 snipes, 2s. 6d.; a lamb, 2s.; 2 pound suet, 2d.;—23rd, a crane, 6s.; a pheasant, 2s. 8d.; a heron, 2s. 8d.; a curlew, 16d.; 4 partridges, 2s. 8d.; 2 doz. larks, 16d.; 5 hens, 2s. 11d.; 8 woodcocks, 3s. 4d.; 4 coneys, 12d.—11 Feb. 3 crabs, 2s.—14 Feb. a crab, 16d.—15th Feb. a fillet of porpoise, 6s. 8d.—21 April, a doz. pigeons, 6d.; 2 pigs, 15d.; a doz. chickens to bake, 2s.—2 May, 12 oranges, 4d.—27 Nov. for a pipe of claret, a hogshead of red, and a hogshead of white wine, 5l. 6s. 8d.—29 Jan. a heron, 2s.; 2 pheasants, 4s. 8d.; queen apples, 6d.—17 June 1517, sirloin of beef, 2s.; rump of beef for clerks, 12d.; gooseberrys, 1d.; pottle of strawberries, 19d.—Do. 19th June, 20d.—10 July, a pottle of strawberries, 16d.; and half a pint, 5d.—11 July, a pottle of strawberries, 20d.; and a pint, 6d.—4 July, a hundred prawns, 8d.—11 July, do. 6d.—3 July, 7 mullets, 16d.; 8 roaches, 12d.; 6lbs. cherries, 82d.—2nd July, cherries, 8lbs., 18d.—31st Jan. a cod's head, 8d.—12 July, 12 sea mews, 8s.; flowers for chambers, 12d.—Wed. 5 Nov., cabbage, 2d.—6 Nov. do. 2d.
In another document of the same period, entitled:
"Expenses with the French ambassadors being at the King's charge in the town of Farnham, at the sign of St. George, from Tuesday the 17th to Thursday, 19th Nov. 9 Hen. VIII.," the prices are as follow:—
Six doz. penny loaves, 20d.; for manchet bread, 6s.; for a hgsd. of beer, 26s. 8d.; for 4 blls. of Gascon wine, 4s.; for 6 galls. of same, 2s.; for 2 wax torches, 2s. 6d.; for 2 doz. "queryors" of wax, 12d.; for 38 prickets of wax, 12d.; for 6 links, 12d.; for 8lbs. of candles, 4d.; for a ¼ of pepper, 1 oz. of saffron, 12d.; 3 ozs. cloves and mace, 12d.; ¼ of cinnamon, 20d.; 3 ozs. ginger, 5d.; 2lbs. dates, 8d.; 2lbs. prunes, 4d.; 2lbs. currants, 4d.; 6lbs. sugar, 4s.; streyners, 3d.; 100 "de pir," 16d.; ¼ blaynche pouder, 4d.; 2 capon "gr." 47s.; 7 capon "K." 4s. 8d.; 13 capon "cors." 6s.; 26 coneys, 5s. 5d.; 8 pullets, 15d.; 10 "anc," 8d.; 2 pheasants, 4s. 8d.; 8 partridges, 4s.; 20 plovers, 5s.; 6 doz. larks, 3s.; 2 bitterns, 3s. 4d.; 2 curlews, 3s. 4d.; 4 cocks, 16d.; butter(?), 16d.; "butter gr.," 6d.; 50 eggs, 9d.; for herbs, 4d.; pots bought, 4d.; 11 qrs. of coal, 6d. a qr.; talliage of 2 carts, 12d. a cart; 200 faggots, 5s. 4d.; 3 pieces of beef, 4s.; 4 chines, 2s. 8d.; 3½ carcases ("c") of sheep, 6s.; hired labor in the kitchen, 8d.; white-salt 1 "pc." (stone ?), 3d.; 1 pint of vinegar, 2d.; pt. of virjuice, 2d.; horsemeat, 26s. 4d.; paid to the Widow at The George for hire of houses and damage done in breaking beds, &c., 20s. Total, 9l. 6s. 7d.
Compare with these the provision made for the notorious Court of the Star Chamber:—
"The expenses made and provided for the Lord's diets of the King's most honorable Council at Westminster in the Council Chamber, from the 25th day of January unto the 14th day of February, for Hilary term anno 32 regni Regis Henrici Octavi.
25th Jan. In bread, 2s. 6d.; ale, 2s.; beer, 4d.; flour, 12d.; beef, 3s.; mutton, 8d.; 2 loins of mutton, 12.; a rump of beef, 12d.; 2 loins of veal, 16d.; 6 pestles of pork, 2s. 8d.; 1 leg of veal, 8d.; 2 breasts of veal, 16d.; 1 lamb and half, 3s.; suet, 12d.; 3 doz. larks, 2s.; 3 capons, 5s. 8d.; 1 hen, 8d.; 1 hen, 8d.; 12 prenes, 3s. 4d.; 24 oxes, 2s.; 18 snypes, 3s.; cream, 6d.; eggs, 2s.; butter, 2s.; bacon, 8d.; lard, 8d.; marrow bones, 12d.; spices, 5s. 4d.; pippins, 4d.; onions and herbs, 5d.; sauce and salt, 8d.; cups and trenches, 8d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d.; boat hire, 14d.; apples to roast, 1d. Sum total, 56s.
27th Jan., bread, 2s. 6d.; ale, 2s. 4d.; flour, 12d.; ling, 2s. 8d.; halberdine, 8d.; 3 jowls of salmon, 18d.; white herrings, 8d.; bacon herrings, 8d.; 2 gurnards, 4s.; 6 great rochetts, 3s.; whiting, 16d.; fresh salmon, 5s.; a side of salmon, 2s. 8d.; 1 hundred gudgeons, 8d.; 2 pike to boil, 6s.; 2 pike to fry, 3s.; shrimps, 8d.; eels to bake, 12d.; eels to roast, 2s.; oysters, 8d.; butter, 2s.; eggs, 2s.; spices, 5s. 4d.; onions and herbs, 4d.; sauce and salt, 8d.; cups and trenchers, 7d.; pippins to eat, 6d.; apples to roast, 4d.; oranges, 4d.; 1 quarterne of lampreys, 20d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d.; boat hire, 14d. Sum total, 59s. 3d.
3 Feb., ling to boil, and collops, 2s. 8d.—8th Feb., paper for the pastry, 1d.—10th Feb., do.
Provisions made for Hil. term, anno 32 H. 8, as followeth: for 100 sacks of coals, 41s. 8d.; 6 hund. faggots at 3s. 4d. the hund., 20s.; for carriage, 20d.; 2 load of tall wood, 6s.; for washing of the pantry clothes, 3s. 4d.; for a scouring of the plate, 2d.; do. the vessel, 16d.; for dish cloths, 8d.; for the lock of the pantry door, 13d.; and for the conveying of the plate from the Tower to the Star Chamber, 16d.—For Easter. 5 May, spinach, 4d.; 6th, white vinegar, 4d.—23 May, spinach for tart, 4d.—24 May, sage for tart, 4d.; item for rushes for the dining chamber and the Council chamber for the whole year, as doth appear by a bill, and my Lord Treasurer's Chamber, 13s. 4d.—25th Aug., pears, 4d.; damsons, 2d.—2 Sept., 2 shovelards, 4s. 4d.; 3 egrets, 4s. 8d.; 3rd, smelts, 14d.; 3 plaice, 2s.; 6 mullets, 4s.;—9th Sept., pilchards, 8d.—24th Sept., 12 plovers, 4s.—29th, bread, 2s. 6d.; ale, 2s.; beer, 4d.; flour, 12d.; 15 Oct., ling, 20d.; haberdine, 8d.; 2 jowls of salt salmon, 10d.; "bacon" herrings, 6d.; white herrings, 6d.; 3 plaice, 20d.; 6 soles, 2s.; 2 pike, 4s. 4d.; eels to roast, 2s.; lampreys, 18d.; conger, 3s; flounders, 14d.; roaches, 20d.; shrimps, 6d.; oysters, 8d.; eggs, 20d.; butter, 2s.; spice, 5s.; onions and herbs, 4d.; sauce and salt, 8d.; cups, 7d.; pears, 4d.; wine of Gascony, 8d.; sack, 6d.; cook's wages, 2s. 4d.; boat hire, 14d.; total, 43s. 9d.—12 Nov. 33 H. VIII. 1541, crevyses, 8d.; 30th, one quart of claret for the kitchen, 2d.; malveysey for the same, 3d.; 27th, darcys, 8d.—9 Dec., 2 great crabs of Rye, 2s.; 1 cod and a head, 4s. 4d.; 12 teals, 3s.;—13 Dec., 1 crane, 6s. 8d.; 10 cocks, 5s.; 6 coneys, 2s.;—14 Dec., sprats, 2d.; new laid eggs, 4d."
"Provisions made for the vacation from the 16th day of July unto the 22nd day of Dec., and Mich. term in the same, in the 33rd year of the reign of our sovereign lord King Henry the VIII. Imprimis paid for 4 loads of coal the 10th day of July, 48s.; for 200 tallwood, 10s. 8d.; 200 faggotts, 6s.; for a book of the Acts of 30th and 32nd, 2s.; one book of the Acts from Edw. the 3rd, 13s. 4d.; for two loads of coals the 3rd Sept., 21s.; to the bargeman for 600 faggots 18s.; 12 fine napkins, 9s.; 12 coarse napkins, 6s. 8d.; 3½ ells of cresse cloth at 7d. the ell, for the clerk's table; 2s. ½d. to the collier of Lambeth for one load of coals, 12s.; to the bargeman for 400 faggots, 12s.; for mending of a lock, 2d.; for making of 24 napkins, 12d.; for the table cloth, 2d.; for washing of the council pantry cloths for 27 days in the long vacation, 9s.; for one load of tallwood, 2s. 8d.; for mending of the ambry, 4d.; for 3 kilderkins of ale fallen "eger" in the long vacation, 6s.; for 3 loads of coals, 36s." (fn. 197)
In the abstracts of the papers now submitted to the reader, I have followed the directions laid down by the Master of the Rolls in the instructions issued to the editors of Calendars. I have endeavoured to interpret those instructions, in all cases of doubt, by the probable wants of an historical reader; for whom alone these papers are now likely to be useful. I have also been guided by the consideration, that no historian could of himself peruse all the original Records and State Papers of any reign; nor, if he could, would it be worth his time and labor. He must leave some to be abridged or described for him by others, however zealous he may be in the conscientious execution of his task. No one will impugn this assertion, I am inclined to believe, who has a tolerably correct notion of the mass of original documents hoarded up in the great national repository, and of their present condition. Letters in cipher have been deciphered, and the deciphers printed at full length; for in no other way could the contents of such papers be made accessible. Where, however, contemporary ciphers existed it has been deemed sufficient to give an abstract only of these as of the other documents, care having been first taken to compare the deciphers with the ciphered despatches, as passages are not unfrequently omitted by the original deciphers, from oversight or design. But in mutilated and burnt documents, when neither text nor decipher remained complete, and the exact meaning could only be gathered by a comparison of both, either a fuller abstract has been made, or the despatch thus interpreted has been printed at length. Documents of a secret nature or very difficult to read, or requiring more than ordinary pains for the interpretation, from the corruption of the style or the badness of the handwriting, have also been given in greater detail. It did not seem to me probable that the historian or general student of ancient documents would have greater facilities in making them out than were possessed by Mr. Gairdner and myself working together. After a careful examination of all the papers of the reign, and many thousand more, of which no notice will appear in this Calendar, I claim the privilege of stating thus much without fearing to incur the charge of vanity or presumption. Formal documents, of which great numbers are to be found in all diplomatic collections, have been catalogued as briefly as was compatible with clearness.
In the chronological arrangements of these papers, the reader must bear in mind that they now stand according to the modern system of computation. The dates, wherever dates appear in the left-hand column, are inferential merely. As, however, the dates of the originals are always retained in the body of the document, whenever they existed, the reader has the means of correcting my inferences whenever he suspects them of inaccuracy. And he will have reason to exercise this vigilance on more than one occasion, as he will find that the place assigned for some of these documents is intentionally at variance with their apparent dates.
With such a vast mass of materials, and the desire of presenting them to the public in an available shape, condensation in every possible way has been diligently studied. I am painfully aware how difficult it is to satisfy the requirements of all readers; what is important to the biographer or antiquarian will appear trivial to the historian; and an anxiety to do justice to all may end in giving satisfaction to none. But should it be so, the cause of the failure must not be sought in want of thought or diligence on my part, or in the aid and concurrence of those who have been associated with me in this task, or the advice of the most experienced and competent judges. Foremost among these is Mr. Gairdner, of the Record Office, who has laboured with me at this Catalogue from the commencement. I can hardly express, without seeming to be guilty of extravagance, how much I owe to the learning, experience, assiduity, cool judgment, and unvarying perseverance, of this gentleman. All who have the happiness of knowing him will be fully aware how much this Catalogue is indebted to his care; and how much I myself have profited every day in having the assistance of one whose special qualities of mind and disposition were invaluable in a laborious work like this. In its successful accomplishment Mr. Gairdner is as much concerned as I am myself.
In my long tried and valued friend Mr. Hardy, now deputy keeper of the Record Office, I have found a ready, I need not say a most able and skilful adviser on all matters of difficulty. His vast experience, the fruits of a long and laborious life devoted to the study of ancient documents, has always been at my service, as it is at the service of all his friends, and all literary inquirers who have had occasion to consult him. It was mainly owing to him that the papers of the reign, dispersed in so many collections, were for the first time brought together. Before his advancement to his present position he had signalized his desire of furthering the work by having researches made for additional papers. Since then he has continued these researches on a larger scale; and the result has been the discovery within the last few days of documents of considerable interest and importance, of which some notice will be found in the Appendix. But in consequence of the lateness of the period when these papers were discovered, the delay to which this volume has been already subjected from similar causes, and its present bulk, it was not deemed advisable to stop the press for their insertion. The second volume is now in the press, and will appear with all convenient speed, allowing for the delays to which the work is subjected. Of these the interruption occasioned by the public, who are allowed by an unusual stretch of liberality to consult these papers during the process of arrangement, is not the least considerable.
To all those who have been employed under me I desire to make my public acknowledgments ; among others I cannot pass over the services of Edward Kirk, a young lad attached to the office, whose steadiness, care, and assiduity are worthy of all praise. And not least do I owe my acknowledgments to Her Majesty's Printers for the skill, patience, expedition and ability, with which they have passed this volume through the press.
In conclusion I hope the Catalogue will not be found unworthy of the Government at whose expense it is printed, or of that authority under whose sanction it appears. I am not afraid to assert, that whenever it is completed it will present such a mass of materials, not only for the reign of Henry VIII. but of Europe generally, during the most momentous crisis, one only excepted, in the history of the world, as, in interest, and completeness no parallel can be found in this or in any other country.
Record Office, 1861.
HALF-YEARLY RETURNS of the REVENUE, from 1509 to 1514 inclusive.
These Returns are taken from the Tellers' Rolls of the Exchequer, in the Record Office. For the items of Receipt and Expenditure from which these totals are derived the reader must consult the Rolls.
|1 Henry VIII. EASTER.|
|1 Henry VIII. MICHAELMAS.|
|1 & 2 Henry VIII. EASTER.|
|2 Henry VIII. MICHAELMAS.|
|Receipts (fn. 198)||5,779||4||5½||Issues||4,653||14||9|
|2 & 3 Henry VIII. EASTER.|
|3 Henry VIII. MICHAELMAS.|
|From tonnage and poundage||6,836||2||9||For the King's use to John Heron||1,166||13||4|
|3 & 4 Henry VIII. EASTER.|
|From fifteenths and tenths||19,673||12||4||For the King's Chamber||18,802||5||8½|
|4 Henry VIII. MICHAELMAS.|
|From tonnage and poundage||6,301||1||2½|
|From fifteenths and tenths||12,161||9||11|
|Mixed account, chiefly tonnage and poundage||2,168||7||4½|
|4 & 5 Henry VIII. EASTER.|
|From subsidy granted by the Commons, 4 Hen. VIII.||15,700||16||5|
|From fifteenths and tenths||13,027||4||11|
|5 Henry VIII. MICHAELMAS.|
|From fifteenths and tenths (first collection)||67||0||9||From the King's use||16,255||13||1½|
|From fifteenths and tenths (second collection)||753||1||6|
|Subsidy granted by the Commons in 4th year||3,789||2||4|
|First of four dismes granted by the clergy||9,470||7||7|
|5 & 6 Henry VIII. EASTER.|
|From fifteenths and tenths (first collection)||138||6||0½||For the King's use||32,513||8||3|
|From fifteenths and tenths (second collection)||545||5||10|
|One fifteenth and tenth||25,081||5||8½|
|Subsidy granted in 4th year||8,558||18||10|
|Subsidy granted in 5th year||1,205||6||2|
|First of four dismes granted by the clergy||3,960||14||9|
|Second of four dismes granted by the clergy||1,005||15||4|
|6 Henry VIII. MICHAELMAS.|
|First disme granted by the clergy||7,197||0||3½||For the King's use||26,139||19||5½|
|Second disme granted in fourth year||899||6||10|
|First fifteenths and tenth of 3d year||57||15||9|
|Fifteenths and tenths of 4th year||1,263||11||3½|
|Tenths and fifteenths (2nd collection)||52||12||5|
|Subsidy of 160,000l. in the fifth year||21,607||10||8|
|Mixed account, chiefly customs||4,017||10||4|
|Mixed account, almost wholely tonnage and poundage||1,792||17||9½|