Imágenes de páginas





AFTER that Richard, the third of that name, King in fact only, but tyrant both in title and regiment, and so commonly termed and reputed in all times since, was, by the divine revenge favouring the design of an exiled man, overthrown and slain at Bosworth-field; there succeeded in thekingdom the earl of Richmond, thenceforth styled Henry the seventh. The King, immediately after the victory, as one that had been bred under a devout mother, and was in his nature a great observer of religious forms, caused Te Deum laudamus to be solemnly sung in the presence of the whole army upon the place, and was himself with general applause and great cries of joy, in a kind of military election or recognition, saluted King. Meanwhile the body of Richard, after many indignities and reproaches, the diriges and obsequies of the common people towards tyrants, was obscurely buried. For though the King of his nobleness gave charge unto the friars of Leicester to see an honourable interment to be given to it, yet the religious people themselves, being not free from the humours of the vulgar, neglected it; wherein nevertheless they did not then incur any man's blame or censure: no man thinking any ignominy or contumely unworthy of him, that had been the executioner of King Henry the sixth, that innocent Prince, with his own hands; the contriver of the death of the duke of Clarence his brother; the murderer of his two nephews, one of them his lawful King in the present, and the other in the future, failing of him, and vehemently suspected to have been the impoisoner of his wife, thereby to make vacant his bed, for a marriage within the degrees forbidden. And although he were a Prince in military virtue approved, jealous of the honour of the English nation, and likewise a good law-maker, for the ease and solace of the common people ; yet his cruelties and parricides, in the opinion of all men, weighed down his virtues and merits; and, in the opinion of wise men, even those virtues themselves were conceived to be rather feigned and affected things to serve his ambition, than true qualities ingenerate in his, judgment or nature. And therefore it was noted by men of great understanding, who seeing his after-acts, looked back upon his former proceedings, that even in the time of King Edward his brother he was not without secret trains and mines to turn envy and hatred upon his brother's government; as having an expectation and a kind of divination, that the King, by reason of his many disorders, could not be of long life, but was like to leave his sons of tender years; and then he knew well, how easy'a step it was, from the place of a protector, and first Prince of the blood, to the crown. And that out of this deep root of ambition it sprung, that as well at the treaty of peace that passed between Edward the fourth and Lewis the eleventh of France, concluded by interview of both Kings at Piqueny, as upon all other occasions, Richard, then duke of Gloucester, stood ever upon the side of honour, raising his own reputation to the disadvantage of the King his brother, and drawing the eyes of all, especially of the nobles and soldiers, upon himself; as if the King, by his voluptuous life and mean marriage, were become effe minate and less sensible of honour and reason of state than was fit for a King. And as for the politic and wholesome laws which were enacted in his time, they were interpreted to be but the brocage of an usurper, thereby to woo and win the hearts of the people, as being conscious to himself, that the true obligations of sovereignty in him failed, and were wanting. But King Henry, in the very entrance of his reign,and theinstantof time when the kingdom was castinto his arms, met with a point of great difficulty, and knotty to solve, able

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

to trouble and confound the wisest King in the newness of his estate, and so much the more, because it could not endure a deliberation, but must be at once deliberated and determined. There were fallen to his lot, and concurrent in his person, three several titles to the imperial crown. The first, the title of the lady Elizabeth, with whom, by precedent pact with the party that brought him in, he was to marry. The second, the ancient and long disputed title, both by plea and arms, of the house of Lancaster, to which he was inheritor in his own person. The third, the title of the sword or conquests for that he came in by victory of battle, and that the king in possession was slain in the field. The first of these was fairest, and most like to give content: ment to the people, who by two and twenty years reigni of King Edward the fourth had been fully made capable of the clearness of the title of the white rose, or house of York; and by the mild and plausible reign of the same King towards his latter time, were become affectionate to that line. But then it lay plain before his eyes, that if he relied upon that title, he could be but a King at courtesy, and have rather a matrimonial thari a regal power; the right remaining in his Queen, upon whose decease, either with issue, or without issue, he was to give place and be removed. And though he should obtain by parliament to be continued, yet he knew there was a very great difference between a King that holdeth his crown by a civil act of estates, and one that holdeth it originally by the law of nature and descent of blood. Neither wanted there even at that time secret rumours and whisperings, which afterwards gathered strength and turned to great troubles, that the two young sons of King Edward the fourth, or one of them, which were said to be destroyed in the Tower, were not indeed murdered, but conveyed secretly away, and were yet living which, if it had been true, had prevented the title of the lady Elizabeth. On the other side, if he stood upon his own title of the house of Laficaster, inherent in his person, he knew it was a title condemned by parliament, and generally prejudged in the comihohi opinion of the realm, and that it tended

directly to the disinherison of the line of York, held then the indubitate heirs of the crown. So that if he should have no issue by the lady Elizabeth, which should be descendents of the double line, then the ancient flames of discord and intestine wars, upon the competition of both houses, would again return and revive.

As for conquest, notwithstanding Sir William Stanley, after some acclamations of the soldiers in the field, had put a crown of ornament, which Richard worein the battle, and was found amongst the spoils, upon King Henry's head, as if there were his chief title; yet he remembered well upon what conditions and agreementshe was brought in; and that to claim as conqueror, was to put as well his own party, as the rest, into terror and fear; as that which

power of disannuling of laws, and disposing of men's fortunes and estates, and thelike points of absolute power, being in themselves so harsh and odious, as that William himself,commonly called theconqueror, howsoever he used and exercised the power of aconquerorto reward his Normans, yet he forbore to use that claim in the beginning, but mixedit with atitulary pretence, grounded upon the will and designation of Edward the confessor. But the King, out of the greatness of his own mind, presently cast the die; and the inconveniences appearing unto him on all parts, and knowing therecould not be any interreign, or suspension of title, and preferring his affection to his own line and blood, and liking that title best which made him independent; and being in his nature and constitution of mind not very apprehensive or forecasting of future events afar off, but an entertainer of fortune by the day; resolved to rest upon the title of Lancaster as the main, and to use the other two, that of marriage, and that of battle, but as supporters, the one to appease secret discontents, and the other to beat down open murmur and dispute: not forgetting that the same title of Lancaster had formerly maintained a possession of three descents in the crown; and might have proved a perpetuity, had it not ended in the weakness and inability of the last Prince. Whereupon the King presently that very day, being the two and twentieth of August, assumed the style of King in his own name, without mention of the lady Elizabeth at all, or any relation thereunto. In which course he ever after persisted: which did spin him a thread of many seditions and troubles. The King, fullof these thoughts, before his departure from Leicester, dispatched Sir Robert Willoughby to the castle of Sheriff-Hutton in Yorkshire, where were kept in safe custody, by King Richard's commandment, both the lady Elizabeth, daughter of King Edward, and Edward Plantagenet, son and heir to George, duke of Clarence. This Edward was by the King's warrant delivered from the constable of the castle to the hand of Sir Robert Willoughby : and by him with all safety and diligence conveyed to the Tower of London, where he was shut up close prisoner. Which act of the King's, being an act merely of policy and power, proceeded not so much from any apprehension he had of doctor Shaw's tale at Paul's cross for the bastarding of Edward the fourth’s issues, in which case this young gentleman was to succeed, for that fable was ever exploded, but upon a settled disposition to depress all eminent persons of the line of York. Wherein still the King out of strength of will, or weakness of judgment, did use to shew a little more of the party than of the King.

gave him

For the lady Elizabeth, she received also a direction to repair with all convenient speed to London, and there to remain with the Queen dowager her mother; which accordingly she soon after did, accompanied with many noblemen and ladies of honour. In the mean season the King set forwards by easy journeys to the city of London, receiving the acclamations and applauses of the people as he went, which indeed were true and unfeigned, as might well appear in the very demonstrations and fulness of the cry. For they thought generally, that he was a Prince, as ordained and sent down from heaven, to unite and put to an end the long dissensions of the two houses; which although they had had, in the times of Henry the fourth, Henry the fifth, and a part of Henry the sixth, on the one side, and the times of Edward the fourth on the other, lucid intervals and

« AnteriorContinuar »