Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

York. Henry, though surrounded with enemies in these disaffected counties, soon assembled a body of about three thousand men, and gave the command of them to his uncle Jasper duke of Bedford, directing him to march boldly towards the enemy, and when he approached them, to proclaim a full pardon to all who would lay down their arms. Lord Lovel, dreading the effect of this proclamation, fled in the night, and made his escape into Flanders ; his followers seeing themselves without a leader accepted of the offered pardon. The rebels before Worcester, hearing of the dispersion of their confederates, disbanded. The two brothers Stafford being taken, the eldest was executed, and the other pardoned. Soon after the queen being at Winchester was there prematurely delivered of a son, who was named Arthur, in honour of the famous British prince of that name, from whom the king pretended to derive his descent, by his grand father Owen Tudor.

While the high idea entertained of Henry's policy and vigour retained the nobility and men of character in obedience, the public discontent arising from his hatred and jealousy against the house of York, increased every day, and the consequences of his unpopular government soon appeared by incidents of an extraordinary nature. Richard Simon; a priest, who lived in Oxford, formed the design of raising a pretender to his crown, and for that purpose be

eyes on Lambert Simnel, a youth of fifteen years of age, who was son of a baker, and who being endowed with understanding above his years, and address above his condition, seemed well fitted to personate a prince of royal extraction. Simon had already insinuated that Simnel was the prince Richard duke of York, when a report was spread that Warwick, the son of the late duke of Clarence, had made his escape.from the tower ; Simon observa

cast his

ing that this news was attended with general satisfaction, made Simnel personate that unfortunate prince; but conscious that whatever care he might take to convey instruction to his pupil, the imposture would not bear a close inspection, he determined to open the first public scene of it in Ireland, where the people were zealously attached to the House of York, and bore an affectionate regard to the memory of Clarence, who had been their Lieutenant.

Thomas Fitzgerald, earl of Kildare, the deputy, whose protection Simnel claimed, as being the son of the duke of Clarence, not suspecting so bold an imposture, consulted some persons of rank with regard to this extraordinary incident, and found them even more sanguine in their zeal and belief than himself. The story diffused itself among those of lower condition, and became the object of still greater passion and credulity, till the people in Dublin tendered unanimously their allegiance to Simnel as to the true Plantagenet. 'They paid the pretended prince attendance as their sovereign, lodged him in the castle of Dublin, crowned him with a diadem taken from a statue of the virgin, and publicly proclaimed him king, by the appellation of Edward VI. The whole island followed the example of the capital.

Henry, perplexed at this intelligence, and suspecting the queen Dowager of countenancing Simnel, she was apprehended by his order, and conducted to the Nunnery of Bermondsey, to be kept there in close confinement; all her estates and property of every kind were confiscated; and there she remained till her death, in prison, poverty, and solitude, This act of arbitrary authority or vengeance was cloaked under the allegation, that, notwithstanding the secret agreement to marry her daughter to Henry, she had yielded to the solicitations and menaces of Richard, and delivered into his hands that princess and her sister; but it was generally suspected that such a light pretence could not be the real motive of the severity with which she was treated, and that Henry had preferred to employ it than to accuse so near a relation of a conspiracy against him.

The next measure of the king was to order that the real earl of Warwick should be taken from the tower, conducted in procession through the streets of London to St. Paul's, and there exposed to the view of the whole people. He even gave directions that some men of rank, attached to the house of York, and best acquainted with the person of the prince, should approach him, and converse with him; he trusted that these being convinced of the absurd imposture of Simnel would put a stop to the credulity of the populace. The expedient succeeded in England ; but in Ireland, the people persisted in their revolt, and zealously retorted on the king the reproach of propagating an imposture, and of having shewn a counterfeited Warwick to the public.

Margaret of York, sister of Edward IV, and duchess dowager of Burgundy, hearing of the malignant jealousy entertained by Henry against her family, and his oppression of all his partisans, was moved with the highest indignation, and longed for an opportunity of making him repent of that persecution to which so many of her friends had fallen victims, while many others had been obliged to fly to the continent. The most conspicuous among the latter was prince John earl of Lincoln, who by his mother Elizabeth duchess of Suffolk, eldest sister to Edward IV. was nephew to the duchess of Burgundy and to Richard III. who after the loss of his own son had declared Lincoln successor to the

After consulting with him and viscount Lovel, Margaret hired a body of two thousand veteran Germans, under the command of a brave and

crown.

experienced officer, and sent them over together with these two noblemen to join Simnel in Ireland.

The accession of this military force, raised the courage of the Irish to such a degree, that they resolved to invade England, and entertained hopes that the disaffected counties in the north would join them. Henry, timely informed of these dispositions had prepared himself for defence, by ordering troops to be levied under the command of the duke of Bedford and earl of Oxford; and to gratify the people by an appearance of devotion, he made a pilgrimage to our Lady of Walsingham, famous for miracles, and there offered prayers for deliverance from his enemies. Being informed that the rebels were landed in Lancashire, he advanced towards them as far as Coventry. The hostile armies met at Stoke, in the county of Nottingham, and fought a bloody battle, more obstinately disputed than could have been expected from the inequality of their force. Lincoln, and all the principal leaders of the rebels, perished with four thousand of their followers. Simnel and his tutor Simon were taken prisoners; Simon being a priest was only committed to close custody: Simnel was too contemptible to be an object either of apprehension or resentment, he was pardoned and made a scullion in the king's kitchen, whence he was afterwards advanced to the rank of a falconer. Strict inquiries were however made after those who had in the least assisted or favoured the rebels. The punishinents were not all sanguinary, but heavy fines were levied upon the delinquents, which produced large sums of money.

After the king had thus gratified his two predominant passions, revenge and avarice, he called a parliament on the oth of November 1487, when he informed the two houses of the state of affairs on the continent, and asked their advice, to determine whether he should enter into an auxiliary and defensive war for the Bretons against France. This measure produced the desired effect. The parliament granted the king a liberal supply, and advised him to enter into the war. To increase still more his popularity, he at last consented not to postpone any longer the coronation of the queen, and that ceremony so much wished for by the people was performed November 25th, 1437. About the same time, he restored the marquis of Dorset, the queen's uterine brother, to his liberty, of which he had been deprived at the beginning of the Irish rebellion. The court of star chamber was instituted or rather re-established this

year,

Ann. 1488, 1489.

Charles VIII. was king of France at that time, but on account of his minority, Anne of Beaujeu, his sister, was at the head of the government, accord. ing to the last will of the late king Lewis XI. in preference to the queen dowager Charlotte of Savoy, whom he disliked. She no sooner heard of the warlike dispositions of England against France, than she dispatched ambassadors to Henry to represent to him, that the duke of Britanny having given protection to French fugitives and rebels, the king had been obliged, contrary to his inclination, to carry war into that duchy ; that the war being thus on his part merely defensive, he had a right to expect, both from the justice of his 'cause and from the obligations which the court of France had conferred on Henry, when the duke of Britanny, or his mercenary counsellors, had deserted him and put his life to the utmost hazard, that England would at least preserve a neutrality between the contending parties.

Henry's frugality, which by degrees degenerated into avarice, made hi'n averse to all warlike enter

« AnteriorContinuar »