Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 11, July-December 1536. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1888.
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At the close of the last volume the results of Anne Boleyn's fall had scarcely yet been fully developed. We have seen how it affected the political situation generally and opened up a prospect—not to be realised, as it soon appeared, except under cruel conditions—of the King's reconciliation with the princess Mary. The marriage with Jane Seymour necessitated the calling of a new Parliament to pass a new Act of Succession. Its meeting on the 8th June is recorded in the last volume; but as it did not conclude its sittings till the 18th July, its proceedings extend nearly three weeks over the date when the present volume commences. They must have been a great disappointment to those who hoped for a return to a former state of things. The issues of Katharine and Anne Boleyn were alike declared illegitimate, and an Act was passed for the purpose of destroying the last vestiges of Papal authority by involving those who still recognised it in the penalties of prœmunire. Convocation, at the same time, drew up a set of articles of religion, (fn. 1) issued instructions to bishops and preachers how to teach the people, and—to avert any interference from without—declared its judgment against the right of the Pope to summon a General Council without the assent of Christian Princes. (fn. 2) Thus the Church and Realm of England stood alike committed to an assertion of their spiritual independence.
A more purely personal consequence of Anne Boleyn's fall was the disgrace of her father the earl of Wiltshire. At least we may judge that his presence was less acceptable at Court from his being deprived of the office of lord Privy Seal, which he had held for more than six years with a salary of 20s. a day. Pecuniary loss was a thing to which Wiltshire was always very sensitive, (fn. 3) and, as if to make it still more bitter, he was forced, at the direct solicitation of the King and Cromwell, to make out of his own diminished resources a more ample allowance to his widowed daughter-in-law, lady Rochford. (fn. 4) The office of lord Privy Seal was given to Cromwell, who received letters patent of his appointment on the 2nd July; (fn. 5) and for a further honor, on the 9th he was created a peer of the realm with the title of baron Cromwell. (fn. 6) He forbore, however, the use of this title till the last day of the Parliament, (fn. 7) the 18th of the month, when he took his seat in the House of Lords as lord Cromwell of Wimbledon. (fn. 8) On his appointment as keeper of the Privy Seal he resigned the office of Master of the Rolls, which was given to Christopher Hales, while John Baker was made Attorney-General in the room of the latter. (fn. 9) But Cromwell still continued to be the King's secretary and ViceGerent in Ecclesiastical Causes, while his increased dignity made him more powerful than ever, alike in Church and State.
He stood now far above all the King's other subjects in wealth and influence, though not in rank. He had quite supplanted the duke of Norfolk and the other proud noblemen who had been unable some years before to endure the ascendancy of Wolsey. Even the princess Mary was his humble suitor; and it is at this time we hear of the project, long afterwards imputed to him as a piece of criminal ambition, of his marrying her. The design, however, even if seriously entertained, did not originate with him. He had warning enough against any such project. At this very time the duke of Norfolk's brother was imprisoned in the Tower and attainted by Parliament for daring to contract marriage with the King's niece, lady Margaret Douglas, (fn. 10) and Cromwell, certainly, was never so intoxicated with his own success as to contemplate for a moment a match far more audacious and unequal in point of rank. The suggestion really proceeded from the King, and it was not made with a view to Cromwell's interests any more than to those of Mary herself. Nevertheless, Mary's attendants were seriously afraid that the King would insist on marrying her to a subject, lest a marriage with some foreign prince should enable her, as soon as she found herself safe in another country, to repudiate what she had done under compulsion, and assert once more that she was born in lawful matrimony. (fn. 11)
From no other point of view was it possible even to conceive of such a marriage being seriously proposed by any one. Such a policy, however, though it might have gratified the King's self-will and maintained the credit of his Acts of Parliament, was evidently attended by serious disadvantages. It would have been simple folly on the King's part persistently to depreciate the jewel on which he knew that foreign princes set so high a value. Even if he did not marry his daughter abroad he could always use her while unmarried as a counter in the game of diplomacy. For months past the Emperor and Chapuys had been offering to negociate a match between her and Don Loys of Portugal, brother of King John III., and France, as we have seen, two years before this, had asked her in marriage for the duke of Angoulême. Neither of these offers could be accepted now without committing the King to take part with one side or the other in the war between Francis and the Emperor. But both might be kept alive by careful diplomacy, offering to each combatant in turn a delusive hope that Henry would declare himself openly on his side. And now that the Princess herself had made the most complete submission that her father could require of her, foreign princes might be informed that Henry could easily procure her legitimation by Act of Parliament.
This, accordingly, was the course adopted by the King. From the day that the Princess, seeing no other course open to her, was induced to put her signature to the declaration that her father and mother's marriage was unlawful, Henry began to treat her with greater kindness. On the 6th July he and Jane Seymour went to visit her, and remained with her till the following afternoon. His old affection for her seemed quite to have revived. He conversed with her continually all the time he was with her, and at parting made her a present of 1,000 crowns, while the Queen gave her a beautiful diamond. She was served at table and waited upon elsewhere with a degree of ceremony to which she had been long unaccustomed, and the King informed her that in three or four days he would send Cromwell and others to appoint her a household. The rumour became prevalent that she was to be declared heir apparent, when suddenly it turned out that the new Act of Succession was to contain a provision enabling the King, in case he had no lawful issue by Jane Seymour, to appoint his successor by will. And this provision was in reality included in the Act, which went through all its stages, whether with much or little opposition does not appear, and took its place upon the Statute Book. What was meant by it was a matter of speculation, but the current belief was that Henry intended to name his bastard son, the duke of Richmond, his heir, and that it was only failing him that Mary would take her place in the succession. (fn. 12)
But the days of the duke of Richmond were numbered. He was exceedingly ill, and life was rapidly ebbing away even on the day that Parliament was dissolved. Four days later he breathed his last, and his death was the less regretted because it was supposed that he would have supplanted the Princess in her just rights. (fn. 13) The inventory of his wardrobe and plate will be found in this volume, with papers relating to the breaking up of his household. (fn. 14) The duke of Norfolk, whose daughter he had married (at least he had been betrothed to her and she was called duchess of Richmond) was commissioned to take charge of his burial, and eight days after his death conveyed the body secretly down into Norfolk, followed merely, at a little distance, by two persons clad in green. (fn. 15) The secrecy of the removal was in accordance with the King's own instructions— even Henry, doubtless, knew full well that little honor would have been shown to the corpse if it had been carried in funeral pomp along the highways—but he was displeased with Norfolk because the Duke was not buried so honorably as he had intended. (fn. 16)
The day after the King and Queen had left her, Mary was induced to write a letter to the former in her own hand, in which besides thanking him "for his gracious mercy and fatherly pity surmounting her offences," she besought him to believe her professions of penitence for the past and to accept her as his most bounden slave. (fn. 17) If this letter was not dictated to her, like some of its predecessors, it shows how deeply Mary was moved by the symptoms of returning kindness. But apparently, as a mere matter of policy, she could not be too submissive, for the King would even yet cruelly hint to her that her former obstinacy had been due to too much reliance upon the Emperor, who was in no position to help her. Still, she was now better treated every day, especially after the death of the duke of Richmond, only the appointment of a household for her was still for some time deferred (the lists given in last volume, No. 1187, are placed a few months too early). But of this and of her being speedily declared the prospective heiress of the Crown, Cromwell was profuse in his assurances to Chapuys. For the King, he said, had confessed to growing old, and did not expect to have any child by his new Queen. Indeed, on Sunday the 20th August Mary was actually proclaimed heir apparent in one of the London churches—no doubt by some mistake. (fn. 18)
Her value as a piece on the political chessboard was becoming more manifest every day, as Henry was trying to make himself umpire between Francis and the Emperor. The French had met with no reverse in their attack on Piedmont until Charles himself arrived in the north of Italy. Then he denounced their ally the marquis of Saluzzo as a rebellious subject, and declared his country forfeited. (fn. 19) De Leyva at the same time besieged Fossano, which at first made a gallant resistance, and took one of his captains prisoner. But resistance there and elsewhere suddenly collapsed. The marquis of Saluzzo made an agreement with the Emperor and handed over to him Coni and the other strong places that he held in Piedmont; Fossano, perhaps disheartened by his defection, agreed to surrender if not relieved within a month; and Charles, over-sanguine for once in his life, to the dismay of all his councillors, determined on the invasion of Provence and the siege of Marseilles. (fn. 20) Nassau, however, was collecting forces in Flanders to make another invasion in the north, of which the French stood greatly in dread, and the prospects on either side seemed to be as well balanced as Henry could possibly wish. When the invasion of Picardy took place in July he promised the bishop of Tarbes—and wrote to his own ambassadors with Francis nearly to the same effect—that he would write to the Emperor and the Regent of Flanders to withdraw their troops from that quarter, else he should feel bound to aid Francis. (fn. 21) He did write accordingly, but not exactly in the imperative tone expected of him by the French ambassador. He only requested that the Emperor would forbear from invading France, and offered his own services as a mediator with a view to a peaceful settlement. (fn. 22)
An offer of mediation had been all along his reply to the appeal made to him by Chapuys to declare himself on the Emperor's side against Francis. (fn. 23) He gave little promise, however, of showing himself an impartial mediator, for he still continued to tell Chapuys that he considered the Emperor the aggressor in the war, and not Francis. (fn. 24) But his words were obviously insincere; and it is singular that Chapuys, in spite of these excuses, was inclined to believe that he was only awaiting events to give effect to his real sentiments, which were those of all his subjects, by declaring in favor of the Emperor against France. For, whatever might have been his intention in trying to irritate Chapuys by what he said of his master, the ambassador knew from trustworthy sources that he had in private expressed his entire disapproval of the conduct of Francis in commencing hostilities unprovoked, and his belief that Charles would not have war with any one except under compulsion. Chapuys, therefore, was pretty confident that the French would not succeed in drawing him over to their side; but he had no hope of his departing from neutrality and making common cause with the Emperor until some signal success attended the Emperor's arms. (fn. 25)
Henry was watching events, no doubt; but whether even the most signal success of the Emperor would have induced him to take part with him openly against Francis must remain a matter of speculation. Charles very soon met with the check that was anticipated by good tacticians. Compelled to raise the siege of Marseilles, he was equally compelled to withdraw the remains of his fine army, wasted by disease and starvation, from a country which had been purposely laid bare at his approach. (fn. 26) But at his first entry into Provence he gained some momentary advantages, (fn. 27) and these do not seem to have affected Henry's determination to preserve neutrality, which was formally proclaimed in London on the 19th August, just after the news had arrived; (fn. 28) or if he showed himself inclined to either side it was not in favour of the Emperor. On the contrary he expressed displeasure at hearing that Nassau had laid siege to Guise, and on its capture wrote to the Regent Mary in the Netherlands, urging the cessation of hostilities, as France, at his intercession, was ready to come to an agreement. (fn. 29)
France, of course, had been as solicitous of Henry's support as the Imperial ambassador, and had been put off in very much the same fashion. The King, indeed, did not tell the French ambassador that his master's cause was a bad one. He rather wished to encourage Francis in the hope that he would assist him, on condition that he would protect Henry against the Pope, by repudiating any General Council not summoned with the consent of England. But when it appeared that the Papal summons to a Council at Mantua was issued, as the words of the brief declared, with the consent of Francis, Henry demanded an explanation, and evaded meanwhile the fulfilment of a promise which the bishop of Tarbes understood him to have made, to send men to aid Francis in the defence of Picardy. Later on he excused himself by the lateness of the season and other pretexts, wondering particularly that Francis made no account of many debts of which Henry had forborne to press for payment. If he found himself ultimately bound to aid Francis, he said he would allow him to deduct 50,000 crowns a month from the pension due from France to England. (fn. 30)
As a means of engaging Henry more completely in the interests of France, the bailly of Troyes, who had been in England not long before, and probably had got a suggestion there from Cromwell, dropped a hint to Gardiner and Wallop at the French court about the possibility of reviving the project of a marriage between Mary and the duke of Angoulême. It did not appear that he had express authority from his master to make such an overture; but diplomatists, in such cases, easily understood what was meant, and on sounding Francis, according to their instructions, the English ambassadors found that he viewed the suggestion with favor. The King then desired them to thank Francis for the offer, to which he could make no immediate reply, as many things depended on her legitimation, which he was willing to bring about if other matters could be satisfactorily arranged. But it was only right that Francis should, in the first place, send a solemn embassy to ask her formally in marriage, before anything further was done. (fn. 31) This Francis was not likely to do without some assurance that the lady's birth was no longer disparaged, and that the terms of the match were otherwise suitable for a prince who, since the death of the Dauphin in August, had now become duke of Orleans, and was one step nearer the throne. Still, he could not quite let the matter drop, especially as the English ambas sadors were instructed to keep it alive, or, in the exact words of the despatch, to "haste slowly the further entreating thereof," leaving it, however, to the French to make a proposal, as if the matter concerned them a good deal more than the King. (fn. 32) At last, in the beginning of November, La Pommeraye arrived in London, commissioned to treat for the marriage, but the King, observing that he had made no offer of his daughter's hand, desired him to confer upon the matter with his Council, who took the opportunity of showing Chapuys how anxious the French were for the marriage, and how they themselves hoped rather that the match with Don Loys of Portugal would be speedily concluded. (fn. 33)
The internal state of the kingdom, however, soon became a matter of far greater anxiety than foreign diplomacy. The suppression of the monasteries, although limited as yet to those under 200l. a year in value, was such a sweeping act as could not but produce the most serious disturbance in the social life of the country. We cannot mark distinctly the whole progress of the work, though a few dates here and there enable us to see how it was going on. The commissions by which active steps were first taken under the Act appear to have been drawn up in March, (fn. 34) though the first we find with an actual date to it is of the 24th April. (fn. 35) The first suppression recorded to have been taken was that of Calwich, in Staffordshire, on the 12th May. (fn. 36) This, however, seems to have been an easy surrender, for which a special agent was instructed by Cromwell to secure the property. The Commissioners in Northamptonshire had just made an end that day of their preliminary survey. (fn. 37)
On the 1st June, John Freeman, the King's goldsmith, whose sphere of action seems to have been Lincolnshire and some other counties, promised Cromwell that he would bring "a profitable inventory to the King," notwithstanding that the Gilbertines had left their houses so bare that there was little to take but bells and lead. (fn. 38) On the 14th we find the Commissioners sitting in Surrey, at the suppression of Waverley. (fn. 39) In the beginning of the month also they were at Byleigh, in Essex, and took a full inventory of the goods and furniture of that monastery on the 6th. (fn. 40) We have also notices of the suppression of two Norfolk monasteries, the one on the 12th August, the other on the 2nd September. (fn. 41)
On the 8th July Chapuys wrote to the Emperor's Secretary, Anthoine Perrenot:—"It is a lamentable thing to see a legion of monks and nuns, who have been chased from their monasteries, wandering miserably hither and thither seeking means to live; and several honest men have told me that, what with monks, nuns, and persons dependent on the monasteries suppressed, there were over 20,000 who knew not how to live." (fn. 42) The estimate may possibly have referred to the ultimate effects of the Act, though the previous statement shows that the results were painful enough already. For as yet not half the work could have been done. Even the preliminary survey had not been completed in some counties; (fn. 43) and from the few records of this survey that have come down to us, or, perhaps we should say, that have yet been rescued from the confusion in which a great mass of documents still remain, it is clear that the Commissioners themselves were anxious that the suppression should not be too ruthlessly carried out. Those of Northamptonshire, for example, recommended that the nunnery of Catesby should be allowed to stand; (fn. 44) and that urgent representations must have been made in behalf of many other monasteries which would naturally have come under the Act appears sufficiently from the fact that a number of special licenses were ultimately made out for the continuance of several of them. (fn. 45) Another point was forced upon the King's attention by John Freeman writing from Valdey, in Lincolnshire. Time at least must be allowed, for many of the houses of Lincolnshire were built with such thick walls that to take them down at once would cost the King at least 1,000l. in Lincolnshire, which might be spared if Freeman were allowed first to take down the bells and lead, then the roofs, battlements, and stairs, and last, let the walls stand, using the materials as a profitable "quarry of stones to make sales of." (fn. 46)
According to the Act of Parliament the monks of the suppressed houses were either to be pensioned or transferred to larger monasteries. But it is clear from Chapuys' words there were many to whom neither new abodes nor sufficient means of living were assigned.
The full degree of hardship arising out of the King's proceedings was perhaps difficult even in that day to estimate: impossible in ours. Where special intercession was not made to save a monastery, the monks had no choice but to submit. But in the North of England these proceedings were regarded with a spirit of indignation which did not venture to express itself elsewhere; and in Northumberland the canons of Hexham, when the Commissioners came to suppress their monastery, had fortified the house with guns and "artillery" (bows and arrows) to defend themselves. As the Commissioners entered the town the common bell was first rung, then the great bell of the monastery. Then a canon named the Master of Ovingham appeared in armour on the leads and said there were twenty brethren in the house who would all die before the Commissioners should have it. They had a charter under the Great Seal of Henry VIII. himself for the confirmation of their rights and privileges, and they thought it not for the King's honor "to give forth one seal contrary to another." The Commissioners thought it prudent to withdraw, (fn. 47) and though the King, on hearing of the matter, sent orders to quell the resistance, (fn. 48) he soon found that he had a much more serious rebellion to put down elsewhere.
On the 3rd October the Commissioners for levying the subsidy came to Caistor, in Lincolnshire, where they had appointed to sit that day. Apprehensive of some disturbance, they asked lord Burgh, Sir Robert Tyrwhit, and others of the neighbouring gentry, to meet with them. A report had been circulated through the country that they were come to take away the jewels and other valuables from the churches, and to lay fresh burdens upon the people; and when the Commissioners assembled they learned that a great multitude from Louth (12 miles distant as it was called in those days, but in modern reckoning 18) was within a mile of the place. They were believed, no doubt with some exaggeration, to number 20,000; but it would seem that they were joined by a force reckoned at 3,000 from the neighbourhood of Horncastle, many miles further south, where preparations had been made for the muster even on the last day of September, and apparently by another detachment from East Rasen. The people of Caistor told the Commissioners they would pay no more money and the alarm bell was rung. Lord Burgh and the gentlemen summoned to aid the Commissioners thereupon made a hasty retreat, and were pursued to their houses. Lord Burgh avoided capture by taking refuge with a friend instead of going to his own house at Gainsborough. Of the others, Sir Robert Tyrwhit, Sir William Askew, a lawyer named Thomas Moigne, and a few more, fell into the hands of the multitude, and, to satisfy their captors, wrote two letters,—the first to lord Hussey at Sleaford, warning him to join the commons if he would not have them seek him out as an enemy,—the second to the King, to desire a general pardon. (fn. 49)
Lord Hussey took care not to compromise himself in any way. At the very first news of the commotion he wrote to the mayor of Lincoln to see to the sure keeping of the city, promising to bring up forces to his aid if he thought those within too weak to resist attack. He daily received letters from the rebels desiring to know if he would either join them or write to the King in their favour. These, however, he forwarded to Cromwell, telling the writers the King could make no terms with rebels, and warned his neighbours and dependents to be ready to resist the insurgents in case they should come near Sleaford. The men all promised to do their utmost to defend him; but Hussey, as he wrote to Cromwell, felt that he could not rely upon their aid if it came to fighting. The rebels, meanwhile, seem to have contemplated a march into the centre of the Kingdom. They entered Lincoln on Friday, the 6th, and were expected to be at Newark by the night of Sunday, the 8th. By Friday, the 6th, also, Hussey found himself so surrounded that he could not leave his house. In fact, it was quite expected that he would fall into their hands. (fn. 50)
The letter of the gentlemen to the King was despatched on Tuesday, 3rd October, (fn. 51) by Sir Edward Madeson and John Hennege, whom the insurgents sent up to London to state their case. Madeson was examined before the Council, and compelled to give the names of the ringleaders in each particular district. A gentleman of the name of Huddiswell had taken the lead at Caistor, and among those who met him outside the town were the bailiffs of Louth and of Middle Rasen, a monk of Louth Park, a few of the country parsons, and a shoemaker of the name of Melton, henceforth known as "Captain Cobbler." The bailiff of Rasen had sworn Madeson himself with his brother John and both his sons "to be true to God and the King and to do as they (the commons) did." The rebellion, like many other such movements before and after it, wore the external aspect of loyalty; indeed there is no reason to doubt that the loyalty was sincere. The King can do no wrong, but his Ministers may—such has always been the doctrine of the English constitution, and it was by no means a pedantic fiction to Englishmen in the days of Henry VIII. The people were satisfied that all would yet be well if only the innovations in religion were disowned, suppressed monasteries restored, heretical bishops like Cranmer, Latimer, and others banished, or delivered up, along with the chief political mischief-makers, such as Cromwell, Riche (the Chancellor of the Augmentations), and one or two others, to the tender mercies of the commons. (fn. 52)
The King was seriously alarmed. The easy conquest of the country gentlemen who had, with more or less compulsion, been induced to take the oath, suggested danger of a very acute kind indeed. Christopher Ascugh, gentleman usher to the King, after going down as far into Lincolnshire as he could without being taken by the rebels, reported that in the very southernmost part of the county, at Spalding and at Stamford, and also further south at Peterborough, the people were very reluctant to take arms against the rebels. The commons everywhere murmured among themselves that if they did not hold together they would be undone. In fact, the disease was not local, it was general; disaffection was by no means confined to one particular county. (fn. 53) That it did not show itself elsewhere in mutinous gatherings was no doubt owing to the very effective organisation by which anything like rebellion was continually held in check. But even in the neighbourhood of Windsor, as we know from chronicles—and the fact is confirmed by a document in this volume—a priest and a butcher (or, as Chapuys' nephew understood, a shoemaker) were mercilessly hanged for daring even to express sympathy with the cause of the Lincolnshire insurgents. (fn. 54) And we learn from a letter of Sir William Fitzwilliam, written at Guildford, in Surrey, on Saturday, the 7th October, that Sir William Hussey, lord Hussey's son, who had apparently arrived in that neighbourhood with a servant, after making his escape from the hosts by whom his father was surrounded, had found the country people wherever he passed warmly sympathising with the insurgents, wishing them God speed, and saying that they should lack nothing on their way. (fn. 55)
Letters missive were despatched in haste, some at least as early as the 6th October, to noblemen and men of standing in various parts of the country, directing each first to take steps for securing public tranquillity in the parts about him, and then to be ready at an hour's warning to come with his followers to such place as should be afterwards notified to him. (fn. 56)
These were followed up next day by letters under the privy signet, declaring the King's intention to advance in person against the rebels, and summoning the persons addressed to join him by a certain day, each with a body of foot and horse. The ports were at the same time warned to keep a close look-out on ships that came near the coast, and lists were prepared, both of the lords and gentlemen who were to attend the King, and of those who were to remain at home to keep good order in their districts. (fn. 57) On the 7th, Richard Cromwell got out of the Tower a vast quantity of arrows and implements of war, and all sorts of workmen in London were seized and converted into soldiers. Not even the masons and carpenters engaged upon Cromwell's buildings—some three or four score men— were exempted from this service; and pressure was put upon rich London merchants to buy cloth, lest the clothmakers should dismiss their servants and these should join the rebels. (fn. 58)
The King also sent—rather unwillingly, as Chapuys believed—for the duke of Norfolk, who was still in disgrace to some extent, Cromwell having helped to keep him out of the Court ever since the offence he had given about the duke of Richmond's burial. The prospect of returning favor raised his spirits greatly. He came up from Norfolk a happy man, arrived in London on the 5th, and on the 7th, immediately after dinner, started again on his return to his own part of the country to raise men and take measures to prevent disturbances. He treated the rebellion as a trifle, and believed the insurgents could not muster more than 5,000 men. (fn. 59) But next day, before he had got nearly half-way home, (fn. 60) he was overtaken by a messenger with letters from the King, which showed that distrust, or some unpleasant feeling, had revived, for he was commanded to send his son, the earl of Surrey, in his place against the rebels, and himself to stay at home to keep the country quiet. Writing to the Council, he suggested that the earls of Oxford and Sussex were as competent to "stay" the country as himself. But after he had come a few miles further things appeared to him in a different light. The clothmakers of the Eastern counties had barely been restrained by a recent proclamation from adding to the general discontent, and news reached him that there were numbers who rejoiced at the "business," as it was termed, in Lincolnshire. Yet he had been compelled to send away his son with a body of horse which he could very ill spare, even if he was to do no more than keep the Norfolk people in order. And what use, he asked, could Surrey be in repressing the rebellion? He could not hope to overtake the duke of Suffolk, who had been just despatched to Lincolnshire and would be on the following night at Huntingdon, while the rebels would doubtless be defeated by the earl of Shrewsbury long before Suffolk reached them. (fn. 61)
It was not quite such a simple business, however. The earl of Shrewsbury, on whom the King chiefly relied until Suffolk should get down to Lincolnshire, fully justified the confidence reposed in him. III as he then was, he anticipated the King's commands, which only reached him on the morning of the 6th, by coming to his seat at Hardwick, in Sherwood Forest, and warning the King's subjects in Derbyshire and the Midland counties generally to meet him at Nottingham on Monday night, the 9th. (fn. 62) By that time it was expected that the rebels would have advanced as far as Newark, and it is a fact that they had ordered a muster at Ancaster Heath the day before, to which they compelled the justices to summon the men and personally to lead them. (fn. 63) They had already killed the bishop of Lincoln's chancellor. Dr. Raynes, who was visiting the diocese by virtue of the King's writ, and had hanged as a spy one Wolsey, formerly a servant of his namesake the Cardinal. They would have killed also, if they had caught him, Dr. Legh, the visitor of the monasteries— not on account of what he had reported about the state of those establishments, for after all it may not have been generally known—but because he had been the instrument used for the citation of Katharine of Arragon before Cranmer. At the beginning of the rebellion he was in Lincolnshire, but he managed to escape. His cook, however, fell into the hands of the rebels, and they hanged him. Reports were also spread that they had hanged a servant of Cromwell's named Millisent, and baited another, named Bellowe, to death with dogs. They had levied contributions from the priests for their army, and had extorted as much as 100l. from one priest, Francis Stoner, who was surveyor to lady Willoughby. They had sworn all the gentry and justices of the peace to take part with them, from Boston to the Humber. (fn. 64) Instead of advancing, however, into the centre of the Kingdom, they had resolved, after sending up Madeson and Hennege, to remain about Lincoln till an answer was received from the King. (fn. 65)
The duke of Suffolk was staying in the county of Suffolk when he received intimation that his services were required to put down the Lincolnshire rebellion. He made a hasty muster of his dependents and marched on himself by night in advance of them to Huntingdon, where he was told to expect ordnance and artillery, which was to be despatched thither from London. He arrived at Huntingdon at 6 o'clock on the morning of Monday, the 9th, but found no ordnance or artillery. Richard Cromwell, in fact, had found no small difficulty in procuring transport for them. The Lord Mayor, on receiving orders to supply him with horses, spared no pains, going from stable to stable and compelling every owner to give them up for his service, quieting remonstrances to some extent by pretending that the animals were wanted for the count Nassau, who, it was untruly suggested, was coming to England with a numerous train, insufficiently horsed. But neither mendacity nor coercion could procure cattle of the strength and number required. Thirty-four small pieces of ordnance were got out of the Tower on Sunday, but the poor horses broke down with their burden before they had got far out of town, and thirteen of the guns had to be sent back that the rest might be got forward. (fn. 66)
Richard Cromwell contrived to reach Ware by 10 o'clock that night, (fn. 67) and wrote that he proposed after midnight to push on to Huntingdon. He had already been met on his way by a company under Mr. Cotton, of the late duke of Richmond's Council, and he expected to gather more men as he went on. He had also been met by one Hall, who had been taken prisoner by the rebels and sworn as one of their captains, but had escaped by stratagem. He reported that they numbered 40,000 or 50,000; that they gained 500 or 600 new followers every day, and that they encamped themselves in good positions. Richard Cromwell at length overtook Suffolk at Stamford on the 10th, but it was only by leaving the ordnance behind him, which was expected to arrive there on the 13th. (fn. 68) At Stamford, accordingly, the Duke was obliged to wait, for though Sir John Russell, Sir Francis Brian, and Sir William Parr were there before him with a small company of 900 men, they had neither ordnance nor money. But by Friday, the 13th, at noon, his retinue had joined him, and he had 5,000 men at his command, of whom, however, only 3,000 had either horses or weapons. The artillery, however, arrived that day as well, and agreeable news came from Lincolnshire itself that the rebels, hearing of his approach, had begun to disperse. Suffolk, on this, determined to discharge the men who had no arms, thinking that such a display of confidence in his own strength would have a good effect, and that the men might still form a reserve for the earl of Shrewsbury, who, having been by this time joined by the earls of Rutland and Huntingdon, was to advance from Nottingham, while Suffolk advanced from Stamford. Simultaneous action was thought desirable, but Shrewsbury could not leave Nottingham until he received money for his troops and an answer to a message he had sent to the King by Lancaster herald. At length, on Sunday, the 15th, Suffolk advanced from Stamford, and desired Shrewsbury to do the same. (fn. 69) On the 17th he wrote to the King from Lincoln. (fn. 70)
Threatened by two armies, the one from the West and the other from the South, the Lincolnshire men had naturally enough begun to waver; and Shrewsbury, having not long before sent them a proclamation by Lancaster herald to disband and return to their houses without delay, they were very much inclined to comply if they only obtained assurance that on these terms they would be mercifully dealt with. (fn. 71) On receiving Lancaster's report accordingly Shrewsbury sent him up to the King with a petition from the insurgents for pardon, desiring instructions as to his further course of action. The King, in reply, expressed much satisfaction, but desired that the gentlemen who had offered to submit should be examined, half of them by Shrewsbury, and half of them by the duke of Suffolk, whom he had named his lieutenant, at Lincoln. Then Suffolk was to make proclamations at Lincoln for the rebels to deliver up their arms by a day prefixed, otherwise they must expect the utmost severity. He was, however, to keep four of the chief captains of Louth, three of Horncastle, and two of Caistor in confinement till further instructions, and secretly to view the cathedral and close of Lincoln, and report how it would do to establish a garrison there to keep the country perpetually in subjection. (fn. 72)
The King himself had proposed to take the field at the head of yet another army which was to muster at Ampthill on the 16th and 17th. (fn. 73) These musters were now countermanded as unnecessary, (fn. 74) although the King was aware even then that the disaffection had spread across the Humber, and that there was some disturbance in Holderness to be dealt with, as well as the original rebellion in Lincolnshire. He considered, however, that if the Lincolnshire men submitted, it would be easy for Shrewsbury, with the earls of Rutland and Huntingdon in his company, to deal with these other commotions in the south of Yorkshire, leaving Suffolk, Fitzwilliam, and Russell to keep Lincolnshire in order. But the ink was scarce dry on the instructions sent to Shrewsbury when news came from lord Darcy intimating that not a mere corner of Yorkshire, but really the whole county, was up and was very much in the same condition that Lincolnshire had been in before. A postscript was accordingly added to the Earl's instructions urging him, as Lincolnshire was practically safe, immediately to set his face towards Yorkshire, and if he felt himself strong enough, at once to engage the rebels there; otherwise to send word to the duke of Norfolk at Ampthill for further aid. (fn. 75)
"This matter hangeth like a fever, one day good, another bad." Such was secretary Wriothesley's comment on the state of affairs, writing from Windsor, where the King was, to Cromwell in London. The bad news was, however, fully confirmed within three days. All Yorkshire was in commotion from reports that had got abroad among the people. Every man, it was said, was to bring in all the gold he had, that it should receive "the touch of the Tower." Churches within five miles of each other were to be taken down as superfluous, and the jewels and church plate confiscated. Every man was to be sworn as to the value of his property, and all his goods taken if he were found to be worth more. Taxes were to be paid to the King for eating white bread, goose, or capon, and six and eightpence would be demanded for every wedding, burial, or christening. All cloth that was made was to be brought in to a certain place, where it would be registered under the owner's name, and sealed with two seals; then if it shrank, the owner's goods were to be forfeited. (fn. 76)
The stirring in Yorkshire had begun on the 9th October, when there was a great assembly in the East Riding, and a lawyer named Robert Aske took the chief command in the districts of Marshland, the Isle, and Howdenshire, desiring all men to assemble next day on Skipwith Moor, where they would take oath to be true "to the King's issue and the noble blood," to preserve the Church from spoil, and to be faithful to the commonweal. (fn. 77) This, however, was but the first overt act, for almost from the beginning of the move ment in Lincolnshire there had been symptoms of danger in the more northern county. The beacons fired by the Lincolnshire men on Wednesday, the 4th, were seen across the Humber, and though some days elapsed before the people began to move in Hull, Beverley, or Holderness, men had leagued together in Dent, Sedbergh, and Wensleydale, in the northern parts of the county, to suffer no spoils or suppression of abbeys. (fn. 78) Darcy accordingly sent word to the King that he would remove from Temple Hurst and take the command of Pomfret Castle, as it was his duty to do in times of disturbance. On the 8th he wrote from Pomfret to his son, Sir Arthur, to warn Shrewsbury that the whole country, city of York and all, sympathised much with the commons. (fn. 79)
The King wrote to Darcy on the 9th, thanking him for his early information, and desiring him to apprehend all seditious persons who talked about the suppression of abbeys, or of an intention to take away Church goods, or levy new impositions. He had no doubt, he said, that the "business" begun in Northumberland was by that time suppressed, and he had made such preparation for the Lincolnshire rebels that Darcy would soon learn that the beginners of that movement had met with their deserts. (fn. 80) That same day Darcy felt it his duty to write to the Lord Mayor of York, warning him that the commons of Beverley and the East Riding were about to march upon the city and seize the King's money; and as they were men of great experience in war, though without artillery, he must not only put the citizens in readiness to resist them, but summon the gentlemen of the Ainsty to his aid. (fn. 81) In truth the commons at Beverley had sent a message to the Lord Mayor desiring to know if they might pass through the city with his good will; (fn. 82) and on the 10th Sir Brian Hastings, who had the command in Doncaster and Hatfield, wrote to Darcy from the latter place, urging him, in co-operation with himself, to send out a force from Pomfret to intercept them on the way to York, and also to overawe the sympathisers in that city. He was ready, he said, to wait upon Darcy in person with 300 men. Darcy's reply to this was by no means very encouraging. He was putting all the gentlemen under his rule in readiness, so that they should come at an hour's warning, and he was glad Hastings had 300 men ready to serve against the rebels. But he was waiting for instructions from the King or the earl of Shrewsbury before he felt at liberty to do more. (fn. 83)
The news of Darcy's arrival at Pomfret, when it first reached Windsor, did not come from Darcy himself. It was said that he had been obliged to fly thither with twelve horses. Warned thus of the extremity of the danger, the King sent orders to the gentry round about Pomfret to muster under Sir Arthur Darcy if his father was unable to act. (fn. 84) But while the King complained of Darcy's remissness in sending information, Darcy, for his part, was complaining (at least this was his excuse afterwards) that he had no answer to repeated messages to the King for money, guns, gunpowder, and other things necessary to sustain a siege, nor as to laying of posts, or who was to have the command in the North as the King's lieutenant. (fn. 85) The castle was weak and in great danger, yet the archbishop of York had by this time fled thither to take refuge with Darcy; with whom were also his two sons, Sir George and Sir Arthur (for after despatching the latter to the King on the 6th from Templehurst, it appears that Darcy had recalled him), (fn. 86) archdeacon Magnus, Sir Robert Constable, and William Babthorpe. At length news arrived that the earls of Shrewsbury, Rutland, and Huntingdon had been sent down to suppress the insurrection. To them those in the castle wrote on the 15th that they expected to be besieged on the following Tuesday (the 17th); that the commons had met before York to the number of 20,000; that those of Yorkshire were certainly confederated with those of Lincolnshire; and that, as conditions of pardon had been offered to the Lincolnshire insurgents, it was very desirable that like conditions should be offered to those of Yorkshire also. (fn. 87)
Here, however, we may leave Darcy and the Pomfret garrison for a while to follow the doings of another actor in the drama.
After being overtaken by the message which informed him that he was not to go to Lincolnshire, Norfolk pursued his melancholy journey towards Kenninghall, doing his best as he went along to set such order in Suffolk and in Norfolk that no one should wag his tongue in dispraise of the King's proceedings without being immediately brought before him. (fn. 88) But he had not quite reached his home, on the 9th October, when he received letters from the King, dated the 7th, commanding him to return, and he wrote at once to the Council that he would set forward that night towards his Highness as soon as the moon rose. (fn. 89) "I pray God," he added, "his pleasure may be to send me word to return home and to set forward towards my lord of Suffolk. I doubt not to have a good company ready to set forth by Thursday in the morning, if his gracious pleasure be so to command me." Next day, after passing Colchester and coming within seven miles of Chelmsford, (fn. 90) he received yet further orders, which compelled him to reverse his course once more. The King wished him to bring a company to the proposed muster at Ampthill on the 16th. The time was all too short; the place was out of the way for his Norfolk followers (for they could only get at it by a roundabout course through Cambridge, bending southwards, too, instead of northwards, on the way to Lincolnshire); and though he had ridden that day fifty miles, he at once turned his horse's head and wrote the same night from Colchester, promising obedience to the utmost of his power. (fn. 91) But the utter impossibility of fulfilling the King's wishes appears to have grown more and more clear to him as he proceeded homewards. To be at Ampthill on the 16th! He and his men could no doubt be at Cambridge by Sunday night, the 15th, and he himself could come on with one or two attendants to Ampthill; but as to bringing thither the company of two shires, time positively did not admit of it. Besides, it seemed really more advantageous to bring them from Cambridge to Huntingdon, which was further on the way to Lincolnshire. He accordingly wrote to Cromwell on the 11th from Woolpit, in Suffolk, desiring to know what he should do, and on the very same day, perhaps the very same hour, he wrote another letter to the King (which he dated, evidently in confusion of mind, as if written from Ampthill), saying nothing about his perplexity on that subject, but much about his zeal to serve the King, the number of men he could raise in Suffolk and in Norfolk, and the safe hands into which he would commit the keeping of those counties. (fn. 92)
Arrived at Kenninghall, he received letters from Cromwell, dated Windsor, the 11th, desiring him to have his company at Ampthill on the 17th, and hasten himself to the King. Again impossible. He could not leave his company till he had seen them well upon their way, for though of very good fighting material they were not well horsed. Nor could they possibly be at Ampthill by the 17th, though he hoped to have them at Cambridge by that day, and with the King's leave he would be glad to bring them from Cambridge to Huntingdon—a distance of only twelve miles—to meet his Grace there on the 18th, rather than go round by Ampthill, which would add 30 miles to their march. He himself, however, would make haste to the King, and hoped to be with him on Monday (the 16th) at the latest. (fn. 93) He actually arrived at Windsor the day before. (fn. 94)
By that time news had reached the King of the submission of the Lincolnshire rebels, and the Ampthill musters were countermanded. Norfolk was consulted about the laying of posts and other matters, and had taken his leave to go to Ampthill when he received letters from lord Darcy on the way, informing him of the formidable outbreak in Yorkshire. On this he again returned to Windsor, and deferred his journey till next day. A commission was then made out that in case of danger he should be joined in command with the earl of Shrewsbury, and have with him the marquis of Exeter as his aide-de-camp. (fn. 95) Next day, at Amersham, in Buckinghamshire, on his way to Ampthill he received a letter from his son the earl of Surrey, at Cambridge, who wrote that the gentlemen of Norfolk and Suffolk had doubled and trebled the numbers they had been enjoined to raise for the King's service, and, lest so fine a force should disperse without orders under an impression that they were no longer wanted, he had resolved to hold the musters there next day. (fn. 96) This was well, for the accounts from Yorkshire grew daily more formidable, and on the 17th the earl of Shrewsbury wrote to Norfolk from Newark begging him to march in all haste towards Doncaster. The Earl himself, who received that day a commission to be the King's lieutenant northwards, was about to advance, with a force of only 7,000 men, against an army of insurgents reckoned at 40,000. (fn. 97) The accounts which he received next day, however, made him abandon this intention, and he resolved to wait till Norfolk's coming. The number of the rebels was so great they could not be attacked "without putting all in hazard." They had entered York on the 16th. (fn. 98) Next day they had sworn the mayor and commons of Doncaster, and the oath had been taken with the most objectionable good will. The King's letters to Darcy and others could not be delivered, owing to the watch they kept about Pomfret Castle, and the earl of Northumberland was said to be taken. (fn. 99) Norfolk certainly hoped that Shrewsbury would await his coming, though he knew it would take him more than a week to reach Doncaster. (fn. 100)
The difficulties of the crisis were urgent, numerous, and perplexing,—difficulties about horses, about money, about posts,—not to mention orders which came too late to stay 2,000 of the army prematurely discharged at Ampthill. (fn. 101) Norfolk, when he set out, had 1,500l. of his own, derived from a pension which he received from France, which pension he significantly told the Council, glancing, of course, at recent imputations on his loyalty, "hath now done no hurt to me nor the King's affairs." (fn. 102) And not only did he spend this money readily in the King's service, but when the King declined to pay his men their wages in advance, he asked him for a loan of 1,000l., which he promised to repay on his return. (fn. 103) As to strategy, he was clearly of opinion that with such a formidable movement policy must be used before having recourse to force, and he drew up a letter to be sent by him and Shrewsbury to the rebels which he submitted to the King beforehand, and of which the King entirely approved. The King also desired him to write to Shrewsbury to take up his quarters at Newark, and see to the keeping of the bridges there and at Nottingham, that no rebels should have any opportunity of crossing the Trent southwards. (fn. 104)
Thomas Miller, Lancaster herald, had been a useful agent in procuring the submission of the Lincolnshire rebels. He was despatched by the earl of Shrewsbury from Nottingham to Lincoln during the rebellion, and it was he who, on the 11th, made the proclamation which induced the insurgents there to quit the field. (fn. 105) Immediately afterwards Shrewsbury sent him to the King at Windsor for instructions as to further movements, (fn. 106) and soon after his return to the Earl the King ordered the latter to send him to Yorkshire on a mission similar to that which he had so successfully discharged at Lincoln. (fn. 107) Shrewsbury accordingly, as lieutenant-general of the King in England north of Trent, despatched him from Scrooby in Nottinghamshire, on the 21st October, to Pomfret, to read a proclamation, devised by the King and Council, rebuking the credulity of the people in believing false reports of the King's intentions, and declaring the royal pardon to all but ten persons on their immediate submission. The day before he left Scrooby, Pomfret had already been delivered into the hands of the rebels by lord Darcy. (fn. 108) As he approached his destination he was saluted by crowds of people, who paid all due deference to the King's coat of arms. He asked the reason of their assembling in arms. They said it was to prevent the commonalty and Church being destroyed, for they were informed that heavy taxes would be levied on every burial, wedding, or christening, that all cattle would be marked and pay a fine to the King's use, and every unmarked beast be forfeited. Lancaster replied that such things had never been thought of, and on riding into the town he persuaded 300 or 400 to go home. He then went to the Market Cross to make his proclamation. (fn. 109)
Here, however, he found that he had to obey other orders than those of the King and Shrewsbury. In going to the Cross he was sent for by Robert Aske, the captain of the host, who had taken up his quarters in the castle. He was conducted to his presence, passing porters with white staffs and bodies of men in armour in each of the three separate wards. But first he was taken into a hall full of people and ordered to await the captain's pleasure. Disregarding this command he got upon a high table and would have read the pro clamation to those present, when Aske sent for him into his chamber. With the captain were archbishop Lee of York, lord Darcy, Sir Robert Constable, and various others, but Aske was allowed to manage the proceedings, and desired Lancaster to give him the proclamation. The herald gave it up, and Aske having read it aloud, said he would answer it himself. He told the herald he was welcome as a messenger, but that the proclamation should not be read at the Cross, for he and all his friends were agreed upon their articles, and were going to London to insist on their being conceded. The herald asked what these articles were, and he replied: To have all the vile blood put out of the King's Council and the noble blood restored; to have the faith of Christ and God's laws kept; restitution made for the wrongs of the Church, and the commonalty used as they should be. Lancaster demanded a written statement of these articles and got him to sign it. The herald then fell on his knees before Aske, and begged leave to execute the King's commission; but the captain sternly refused to allow him. He said he should have safe-conduct at all times while he wore the King's coat-of-arms; and if the earl of Shrewsbury or other lords wished to confer with him they should have safeconduct too; but he must not read the proclamation in the town. He then desired Darcy to give him two crowns reward and ordered a company of 20 or 40 men to conduct him out of Pomfret. (fn. 110)
Meanwhile the duke of Norfolk was marching northwards, professing the greatest eagerness to join battle with the rebels and fearing only that Shrewsbury might be induced or compelled to do so before his coming. (fn. 111) He was sorry even that the Earl had advanced beyond the Trent before he had joined him. But whatever might happen he assured the King he would spare no fatigue and labour on his own part to do him service; nay, he was ready even to sacrifice what other people (he was well aware) might call his honor if it would help to promote the King's interests. For whatever promise, acting on the advice of others, he thought fit to make to the rebels, "surely," he wrote to the King, "I shall observe no part thereof longer than I and my company with my lord Marquis may be assembled together." A promise made to serve the King, he said, could not "distayne" his honor. (fn. 112) It is curious that this frank avowal of perfidious purposes seemed not altogether satisfactory to the person to whom it was addressed. At least it suggested a word of caution being sent to the writer. Yet it was not apparently because the policy was dishonest in itself. To judge by the terms of the King's letter to him, Norfolk was at liberty to "distayne" his own honor as much as he pleased, but he must take care not to do it in a way that would compromise the King's, which might be the result if he made a "certain grant" of that which he could not "certainly promise." (fn. 113)
With this key to the policy of Norfolk, and the necessity of upholding what was considered to be the King's honour at the expense of his own, we have little difficulty in following the steps actually taken. He approached the rebels first with an address, signed by himself and the other commanders, Shrewsbury, Exeter, Rutland, and Huntingdon, beginning, "Alas, ye unhappy men!" giving them the choice whether to abide the result of battle or submit to the King's mercy. (fn. 114) But on reaching Doncaster he was met by a deputation from the lords and gentlemen at Pomfret, who soon succeeded in convincing him that the rebels were much more capable of setting him and the royal forces at defiance than he and the royal forces were to defy them. There was nothing for it but to make an agreement with the rebels (27 Oct.), publish the King's pardon, and dismiss them to their homes. (fn. 115) A temporary settlement was thus effected till the grievances of the commons obtained a full and proper hearing before the King in Council. All over the North of England there was to be a truce, and the earl of Derby in Lancashire was written to by Shrewsbury to disband the forces he was about to bring to Whalley Abbey. (fn. 116) Norfolk then repaired once more to Court, in a state of miserable anxiety and fear as to how the King would take his proceedings. Never before had he been "enforced to appoint with rebels," and while he did not cease to lament the valiant indiscretion of Shrewsbury in advancing north of Trent before him, he was angry beyond measure at Darcy and Sir Robert Constable, whom he denounced secretly as traitors, though he implored that no one would call them so till he had seen the King. The duke of Suffolk also must be written to on no account to hang any of the Lincolnshire rebels pending the general settlement. (fn. 117)
The duke of Norfolk reached Windsor on Thursday, the 2nd November. (fn. 118) Sir Ralph Ellerker and Robert Bowes had come up along with him under safe-conduct to state the demands of the rebels, and to bear back with them the King's answer; and Norfolk wrote to Darcy on the 6th that the King had taken very great pains about this reply, writing it out with his own hand, and making no creature privy thereto till it was finished. (fn. 119) In such a crisis Henry was his own prime minister; and the answer he made was that of a skilled tactician. Some of the complaints, he said, were so general that it was difficult to meet them; but as to the Faith, if it was the Faith of Christ, and the Church, if it was the Church of England, he had done no injury to either. All that he had done was according to law and for the benefit of his subjects. As to councillors of noble birth, how came they to think that there were more at the beginning of the King's reign than now? There was no foundation for such an opinion. In any case it did not become subjects to appoint a Council for their King; but if they could prove the disloyalty of any of his present Council he would proceed against them. Nothing could justify their attitude of rebellion, but if they were penitent he would grant a general pardon to all except ten ringleaders. (fn. 120)
In writing to Darcy, Norfolk gave it as his opinion that the King's reply left nothing to be amended; and added that Ellerker and Bowes would have been already despatched (fn. 121) with it but for news which had arrived that Aske had been endeavouring by letters to raise up new commotions in Lancashire, Cumberland, and Westmoreland, as well as Yorkshire. This had induced the King to stay these messengers; and he must warn Darcy as a friend (the reader can understand the sincerity of his friendship) that it was reported he was in collusion with Aske at the delivery of Pomfret Castle. He himself had endeavoured to remove this impression from the King's mind, but he counselled Darcy, as the most effectual way to clear himself, to do his very utmost to take that traitor Aske, alive or dead, but, if possible, alive. (fn. 122)
There was deep distrust on both sides. Sir Henry Savill called before him the men who "did cess the people" at Dewsbury "for the setting forwards of two soldiers to the commons." He even compelled the constable of Dewsbury to repay the money taken from his tenants, and menaced the country gentlemen about him with "many displeasures." (fn. 123) The town of Hull, on the other hand, refused to deliver up some men named in a letter of the duke of Norfolk without a warrant from Aske. (fn. 124) It was in close communication with the rebel leaders. (fn. 125) The detention of Ellerker and Bowes increased suspicion. The pretext of it—that there had been new commotions—Darcy declared to be unfounded. The declaration of the King's pleasure by them was the only thing that would satisfy the North country. (fn. 126) The rebels, in fact, were ready again to take up arms at an hour's warning; and the earl of Rutland, when on his way to the King, was ordered back to Nottingham to take charge of the castle, the bridge, and the fords. (fn. 127) Sir Robert Constable, on the other hand, was arresting ships at Hull in the interest of the insurgents, and Darcy, hearing that Sir Brian Hastings mustered his tenants against him, raised the country in his own defence, when Hastings wrote to assure him that the rumour was unfounded. (fn. 128)
Darcy, thereupon, seems to have done his best to pacify the alarm. But the fact having been communicated to the duke of Suffolk at Lincoln, he thought right to despatch Somerset herald to Darcy at Temple Hurst to demand an explanation. A full report given by the herald of his communications with Darcy on this subject will be found in No. 1086. Darcy's own explanation was easily given, but he in his turn demanded explanations of the herald about more than one thing, showing clearly the suspicions that were entertained of unfair dealing. Was Suffolk going to besiege Hull, contrary to the arrangement at Doncaster? No; part of his army lay on the opposite shore of the Humber, merely because they were too many to be quartered about Lincoln. (fn. 129) But what did Suffolk mean by writing to encourage the earl of Cumberland against "the rebellious"? The letter had been intercepted and got into Aske's hands; so it had got abroad that the commons were treated as rebellious still, even before the King's answer came. Darcy, however, in the freedom of his communications with the herald, though he disclaimed all traitorous thoughts, exposed himself even while doing so in a way that was sure to tell against him afterwards. He declared the King himself should not make him do a treacherous or unlawful act, and the herald, clearly perceiving to what he alluded, asked if it would be an unlawful act to take Aske on the supposition that he was a traitor. Darcy said he that promised to be true to a man and then deceived him might be called a traitor—thereby confessing that he had made a promise to Aske. The point was not lost sight of by the King and his Council.
The malcontents, not hearing of the return of Ellerker and Bowes, had convoked a general assembly or parliament to meet at York on Saturday, the 11th November. It was, however, countermanded on receipt of letters from the duke of Norfolk and from Ellerker and Bowes themselves. (fn. 130) At length the two arrived safe in Yorkshire (fn. 131) with the King's answer, (fn. 132) and a council was summoned at York to consider whether the King's terms should be accepted or war should be maintained. Norfolk had already written to Darcy from Windsor to assemble the gentlemen at Doncaster by the 29th, (fn. 133) when he and Fitzwilliam, who were going down to the North on the King's part, (fn. 134) would meet with them. Arrangements were accordingly made for this between the gentlemen and the King's representatives; but it was ultimately decided that the meeting at Doncaster should take place on St. Nicholas' Eve (the 5th December), and a preliminary meeting of the malcontents was arranged to be held at Pomfret on the Saturday before (2nd December). (fn. 135) Safe-conducts were made out for lords Scrope, Latimer, Lumley, and Darcy, with 300 followers, to come to Doncaster on behalf of the commons. (fn. 136) At the Pomfret meeting, besides a considerable muster of lords and laymen, which excited the suspicions of Norfolk and Shrewsbury, (fn. 137) the Northern clergy sat in a sort of convocation, and the archbishop of York preached a sermon. (fn. 138) We have some notices in Nos. 1244–6 of the deliberations, both of clergy and laity, and of their result.
The possibility that the conference at Doncaster might turn out a failure was considered on both sides, but it certainly gave greater anxiety to the King than to his Northern subjects. The one thing Henry could not sacrifice was his "honor,"—that is to say, his selfwill. Under no circumstances must it appear that he had retreated from a position he had once taken up. And though we cannot tell the precise terms of the secret instructions he gave to the earl of Shrewsbury in case of the possible rupture, enough is disclosed to enable us to judge of their general effect. The King wrote that he had come to consider, from lord Darcy's letters, that the conduct of that nobleman had been greatly misrepresented. He believed Darcy was loyal at heart and would be glad to come in. (fn. 139) If he did he should have his pardon, which the King despatched by the courier (the date only being left blank for Shrewsbury to fill up), and if he could persuade Aske to follow the same course, there was a pardon for him as well. But their reception to favor must be managed secretly by Shrewsbury and Russell only, no one else being allowed to have any knowledge of it. (fn. 140) In short, Darcy and Aske must be somehow induced to desert the rebels, and upon the assurance of pardon to betray their confederates.
But a further insight into the King's policy is given in his letters to the duke of Suffolk at Lincoln. One of these, written on the same day as the letter to Shrewsbury just referred to, instructs the Duke, in case of any new commotion, to perform the "enterprise of Hull," to fortify suitable places, and to use all dexterity to induce the men of the Marshland to come in. (fn. 141) This, indeed, was little more than a repetition of former instructions; (fn. 142) and though the draft despatch is imperfect, it does not appear from Suffolk's reply (fn. 143) that it contained very much more. But two days later the King wrote again to Suffolk, saying that as both he and the duke of Norfolk thought it would be necessary to grant the rebels a free pardon and a Parliament, he had authorised Norfolk to dispense the one and to concede the other; but this was not to be done except at the last extremity, after all other offers had failed. If, however, the rebels should "devise some new matter," Norfolk, with the earls of Shrewsbury, Rutland, and Huntingdon, was to prepare at once to resist them by force, while the earl of Derby would at the same time array the men in Cheshire, Lancashire, and part of North Wales. Suffolk, for his part, would take counsel with Norfolk and Shrewsbury whether to go to their aid, or to take Hull; and if he passed into those parts he was to enter Pomfret and take the city of York and all other holds requisite to keep the country quiet. (fn. 144)
Accustomed to a comparatively easy submission elsewhere, Henry was astonished at the degree of resistance his policy met with in the North of England, and he vented part of his displeasure on his own over-zealous agents. He wondered that they all should write "in such desperate sort," as if the world would be turned upside down if he did not yield to the demands of insurgents, and he taunted Norfolk in particular with the contrast between recent communications and the sanguine tone of his earlier despatches. (fn. 145) It was impossible, however, wholly to reject Norfolk's advice, and the Council wrote to him that the King thanked him for bringing the matter to good towardness. One thing only must be considered "for the preservation of his Grace's honor." Some few persons at least—even though a very few—must be reserved for punishment, and among the few must be Sir Robert Constable, "as he is the most notable and most wilful." (fn. 146)
We have less information than might have been expected about the meeting of the malcontents with the lords at Doncaster. (fn. 147) But the result is sufficiently apparent. The King was again mortified by the letters he received from his own agents at Doncaster, and he again complained of their writing "in such desperate sort," as if it was not even possible to obtain that one object in which "his Grace's honor" was so very greatly involved. This was the more strange, he wrote, as all accounts showed that the people were rather repentant for what they had done than disposed to make a new stir. But they must not expect him to mitigate his demands or give up one tittle of his rights; and so he would tell his agents plainly he would never consent to restore the abbeys, whatever demands were made to that effect. (fn. 148) Before this despatch, however, could have reached its destination, a settlement had been actually arrived at, and a general pardon was proclaimed at Doncaster. (fn. 149)
The King was obliged to keep the flaw in his "honor" to himself, and to make the best of matters. On the 15th December he wrote to Aske, expressing a great desire to speak with him, and commanded him to come up to London with diligence, making no man privy to the fact that he had received the summons. The letter further assured Aske that all engagements would be kept and the free pardon already granted would be loyally observed towards him. The King even trusted that Aske by his plainness and frankness at their interview would make himself worthy of reward. (fn. 150) Aske did go up to him accordingly; but what came of their interview the next volume of the Calendar must explain.
Such is—at least in its main outline—the story of the famous "Pilgrimage of Grace" as it appears in contemporary papers, now for the first time reduced to chronological order. Many details certainly may be added, not only from the documents in this volume, but from those which remain yet to be calendared in the year 1537. But with this brief and very imperfect sketch of the course of public events in the latter half of the year 1536, we must leave further investigation of the contents of the documents to the reader himself. The historical student will not fail to find in the present volume matters of high importance which we have not even glanced at—especially the deeplyinteresting correspondence of Reginald Pole, and his creation as cardinal on the 22nd December of this year. To this, however, and doubtless to some other subjects, we shall have occasion to refer in future volumes, when a consecutive story can be given without periodical interruptions.
Before concluding I must mention a new feature in the Calendar which has been introduced into the present volume—a thing, indeed, of such rare occurrence as hardly to be noticed, but on that account all the more necessary to be explained. It has been continually felt, both by myself and by the previous editor, Mr. Brewer, that it was difficult to convey sufficient warning to the student of the uncertainty of the dates of a large number of letters, which must inevitably be included among the documents, either of one year or another, and no less inevitably be sometimes entered in a wrong year. No device that can possibly be adopted can avert this danger; and it is even to be suspected that a distinct indication of the uncertainty in some cases may induce too much confidence in the student where no such note is met with. If such be the result, the present innovation may be rather mischievous than otherwise; for by far the greater number of the letters in this Calendar are dated inferentially on evidence which after all is merely probable, and there are doubtless many cases in which evidences which should have been noted have been unfortunately overlooked. Nevertheless, as certain cases occur where a letter is evidently within a particular range of dates, say between 1536 and 1539, and there is no apparent reason for assigning it to one of these years more than to another, it has been thought advisable in such cases to mark the possible range of dates in brackets in the margin, e.g. "[1536–9]" under the letters "R. O." or other reference to the place of deposit of the original MS.
One further duty remains—to express acknowledgments for assistance. Since the last volume of this Calendar was published, my old friend and colleague, Mr. Trice Martin, to whose aid I have been so much indebted in past years, has had new duties assigned to him, and can no longer assist me. It is, however, greatly owing to his experience, zeal, and assiduity in the past that I am now able to dispense with his services more easily than would otherwise have been the case, for he has left much work with me available for future use. On the other hand, the increased experience of Mr. Brodie, ever since I have had the benefit of his services, has made those services yearly of greater value; and I cannot express too highly my sense of his willing and cordial coöperation. Without it the work could never have advanced so smoothly and so rapidly as it has done.
I have also to thank my old friend, the Rev. Joseph Stevenson, for the loan of some transcripts from the French Archives which have enabled me to add an entry or two to the Calendar.