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THE HISTORY OF THE LIFE AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
OF HENRY VII
THE RIGHT PUISSANT AND WISE KING OF ENGLAND AND FRANCE
BY BERNARD ANDRÉ OF TOULOUSE
POET LAUREATE AND ROYAL HISTORIOGRAPHER
BERNARDUS ANDREAS OF TOULOUSE DEDICATES THIS WORK TO YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESS
ATO the Elder wrote in the preface to his Origins, most indomitable of kings, that both fine and more feeble natures must have a concern for their leisure no less than for their working hours. And I see that this dictum has gained the approval of many learned men, and especially of our Cicero, who in his speech Pro Plancus testified that this opinion always struck him as magnificent and noble. And, if I am to have regard for my middling talent and my far from middling desire for glory (if I have not yet subdued this by an exercise of reasoning), I too must heed this. What am I first to undertake, so as to ensure that my leisure as well as work be free of idleness? If I am going to write something enduring, I must turn my pen especially to these things regarding which I can, so to speak, participate in their glory, and resist the oblivion which the darkness of time’s passage and posterity’s forgetfulness threaten. As I frequently brooded over this thing, your most sacred name occurs to me, which is so bright and has conferred such great favor on me that, if I am undertake things either noble or dear to my heart, it cannot be ignored without great injustice. And furthermore, such is my special duty to you as your servant that, just as others owe you the tithes and firstfruits of their harvests, so I owe you those of my leisure. My intention is therefore to present you with a more or less annual offering, as dictated either by the abundance or sterility of my wit, just as if I were one of the tenants of your land, so that these fruits of my little tract might display my good loyalty. And, at first, what could you better hope from me than that topic which I have always held in my heart and on my lips, and which this solitary place now thrusts before my eyes, the praise of King Henry VII, a thing which I have always ventured to write about, and especially at this time, lest idleness overwhelm my sluggish senses, although it is a subject entirely beyond my powers? But let me test my abilities with a kind of prelude as Statius did with his Achilleid, since I have never before undertaken such fine, grand task. Therefore in this prefatory epistle I humbly offer Your Majesty a foretaste of my strivings, praying for this one thing that, if in this royal biography I have included anything wrong regarding either fact or chronology, your jovial kindness should not turn to wrath. For as I was dictating this, I could find no advisor other than myself. Wherefore, like a blind man walking about in darkness, I would prefer you blame me for my audacity rather than my negligence. And later, when you come to appreciate the crudeness and quality of my style, and have commanded me to be given material to write, I shall attempt to set it down, if not brilliantly, at least faithfully and as clearly as my industry can achieve, with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ, and may He always speed your royal wishes.
THE PREFACE TO THE LIFE OF HENRY VII BY BERNARDUS ANDREAS OF TOULOUSE
S I am about to write a very truthful account of the life and deeds of Henry VII, King of England France, that most fortunate and victorious of sovereigns, it first strikes me as worthwhile to say to what the Greek historian did in his Life of King Alexander and Caesar, “the multitude of their great actions affords so large a field that I were to blame if I should not by way of apology forewarn my reader that I have chosen rather to epitomize the most celebrated parts of their story, than to insist at large on every particular circumstance of it. It must be borne in mind that my design is not to write histories, but lives. And the most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles whatsoever. Therefore as portrait-painters are more exact in the lines and features of the face, in which the character is seen, than in the other parts of the body, so I must be allowed to give my more particular attention to the marks and indications of the souls of men, and while I endeavor by these to portray their lives, may be free to leave more weighty matters and great battles to be treated of by others.” Then too, Alexander, that bright light of Macedonia, is said to have replied to Choerilus, desiring to write of his deeds, “I’d rather be Homer’s Thersites than Choerilus’ Achilles,” and the same thing could be said of me, although Valerius Maximus bears witness that Homer too was blind.
2. I return to Alexander, who (as this same Plutarch recounts) issued an edict that nobody but Apelles should paint him, and nobody other than Lysippus should carve his statues, inasmuch as the one was an excellent artist, the other a fine sculptor. What about that bravest man Hector in Naevius? Did he not revel most of all in the praise of his father Priam, that most puissant ruler of Asia? Even if I am a humble man scarcely fit to be compared with such great bestowers of praise, I have nevertheless been moved by my unshakable loyalty to this most prudent of kings, and impelled by my most deeply-felt affection, good-will, and due observance towards him, and (to speak more truthfully) I have been fired and inflamed by the splendor of his virtue to decide to undertake this task, beyond my powers though it may be, with the boldness that such a great subject requires. And so, having gained leisure from my pursuits (since for four years I have expended my efforts on the education of the right noble and well-educated Arthur Prince of Wales, the firstborn son of our most noble king), I have begin to write about the life and deeds of the aforesaid prince’s most excellent father, in this year of grace 1500, the tenth year of the reign of the right blessed Pope Alexander VI and the sixteenth year of the aforementioned sovereign. And so, for the sake of excusing this feebleness of mine of which I have already spoken, I would humbly beg my readers if they find anything ill-instructed or mistaken set in this royal biography (as can very easily happen), they ascribe it, not to my lack of justice, but to the sublimity of history, and bear in mind that saying of St. Jerome, that small talents cannot support grand subjects, and that things attempted beyond one’s strength fail in the very attempt. But, as St. Augustine says, “this is a great and arduous task, but God is my helper.”
3. And so, not to make this preface over-long, here I do not think it amiss to repeat what Sallust (truly the noblest prince of historians, as St. Augustine thought) said of himself, “And in fact, my own opinion is that, even though there is nothing like the same glory that comes to both the recorder and the maker of events, it seems especially difficult to make a record of notable achievements. First, there is the fact that the deeds have to be matched by the account. Then many think that your criticism of faults is a product of spite and envy; and when you recall the remarkable excellence and glory of respectable people, all easily accept what they think they too could achieve, but anything beyond that they assume to be a mere fabrication put forth to deceive them.” And so, when my mind gained repose after its many miseries, and I had decided to live the remainder of my life far from court, an evil ambition caught me and fetched me back: I decided to write down the achievements of Henry VII that struck me as noteworthy, in snatches, as they chanced to come to mind, without any instructor, and all the more so because at the time my mind was very much at liberty. And so I shall deal with his life and deeds, as accurately as I can, in a few words. But first I must deal briefly with his royal pedigree on both sides of his family, and here, with Christ’s guidance, I shall make my beginning.
BERNARD ANDRÉ OF TOULOUSE’S HISTORY OF THE LIFE AND DEEDS OF HENRY VII
On the royal origins of both his parents
HE king derives his right noble royal lineage from a long pedigree on both sides. On the side of his father, whose name was Edmund Earl of Richmond, it comes from Brutus and all the kings of his line, and on his mother’s side traces his descent from Katherine of France, from kings of Castile, Portugal, Scotland, and many Holy Roman Emperors of Germany, so much so that he surpasses all previous sovereigns of Christendom, as well as those of his own age, in the excellence of his stock. And, if I may briefly touch on the descent of his father from the ancient kings of Britain, he is descended from St. Cadwallader, whom he has succeeded as lawful heir after a lengthy interval of time, and from Cadwallon, the father of the said Cadwallader. If I may, lest I exceed the limit of this history, I shall omit mention of the previous British kings from whom he derives his origin. Meanwhile, as far as St. Cadwallader goes, the most memorable fact is that after his father Cadwallon, the son of Cadvan, had killed King Edwin of the Northumbrians, the son of King Ethelfrid, at his behest King Penda of the Mercians killed St. Oswald. This same Cadwallon subjugated all the English kings and made them his tributaries, and reigned for forty-seven wars. As a terror to the Saxons, his body was encased in a bronze statue hard by the west gate of London, bearing these two verses as an inscription:
King Cadwallon lies in the wall of London, who laid harsh death on the English-born with his sword.
2. Cadwallader, as I have already said, was the son of this Cadwallon and succeeded his father in the realm of Britain, which nowadays we call England. And in his time a famine and great plague beset the Britons, and they died in such great numbers that the living did not suffice to bury the dead. At God’s command, the king took many Britons and escaped death by going to Alanus, king of Lesser Britain, and there at length, moved by a divine admonition, he renounced this world and went to Rome, where he was confirmed in his holy vocation by Pope Sergius, and died soon thereafter. He was known far and wide for the probity of his life and his dazzling miracles, and was canonized by that same pope and the entire College of venerable Cardinals. From that time down to the arrival of his lawful heir Henry VII in England, his line of rule was interrupted by the savagery of the English, who commenced to rule. And so, after the death of aforesaid Cadwallader down to Henry VII British rule was in abeyance, the Britons lost their name and were named Welsh after their general Wallo, who were ruled by Prince Arthur the Second, the firstborn son of the aforesaid king, at the time I wrote these words. But, as I was saying, the English who remained and survived the plague summoned inhabitants from Germany and divided the island between themselves subsequently disowned the rule of the Britons, calling it England from the people who lived in the angles of Saxony. In accordance with law both divine and human, after such a long space of time, after so many wars, catastrophes and the murders whereby Richard III,cruelly put to death the two sons of Edward IV, namely Prince Edward and Richard Duke of York, thanks to the will of divine vengeance and God’s helping power, with the assistance of a small band of followers he deservedly killed Richard, and expunged him from our island, and, after his death, began to rule most commodiously for the entire realm, in the year 1485. So much for his right noble pedigree on his father’s side. Now, as briefly as I can, I shall with a few words set forth the lineage of his mother, the lady Margaret, born of highly distinguished stock.
3. It would be a very lengthy business to recount the king’s blood-relations on his mother’s side with France, Navarre, the Dukes of Orleans, the Bourbons, the House of and Anjou, the lords of Portugal and Burgundy, and likewise with the queen of Castile, the king of Scotland, and twelve peers of France and elders of Brittany, not to mention with states and dominions subject to the rule of his most sacred majesty. But, inasmuch as many books exist in this realm written by the most expert genealogists in this kingdom and recently published, which give a very precise account of these things, I shall make my beginning with Catharine, consort of Henry V and daughter of the king of France, who later lawfully married the aforesaid Edwin Tudor, the king’s grandfather, the successor of the British kings. I shall say a bit about the descent of the king’s mother Lady Margaret, a right noble woman, endowed by heaven with uprightness of life and piety. And, lest her descent be forgotten, she counted among her ancestors John Duke of Lancaster, Philip King of Portugal, the Emperor Eleanor, Elizabeth Duchess of Burgundy, Charles her husband, Mary of Burgundy Duchess of Austria, the consort of Maximilian, King Edward of Portugal, the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian, John Earl of Somerset, and John Duke of Somerset, the father of Margaret Countess of Richmond, the king’s mother. From her came Henry VII, King of England and France, the subject of my discourse, and she ennobled his excellent pedigree. So much for his right distinguished genealogy.
Of the place and time of Henry VII’s birth
4. King Henry VII was born during the papacy of Pope Calixtus III and during the reign of Henry VI in this realm; he was distinguished by the the grace of consummate virtue and probity, so much so that down to this very day he is far and wide called a blessed king by all men because of the miracles God daily showed as recompense for his merits. Henry was born on February 17, the day of St. Agnes the Second, at the hour of [ . . . . . . . ]
Of the place he was born
5. This place was hard by the source of a torrential stream, and so was called in the vernacular Pembroke. This was a stoutly fortified castle in the southern district of Wales, near the sea, and by the nature of its situation it went to show that the day of his birth was happy and propitious.
Of the place where he was raised
6. As is usual for princes in their infancy, a variety of different places were used for his rearing, with an eye towards the wholesomeness of their climate and his physical welfare, as was required for the safeguarding of his health during different seasons of the year. Inasmuch as he often suffered from ailments in his childhood, he was given a gentle rearing by his guardians, men otherwise both upright and prudent [ . . . . . . . ]
7. Afterwards, when he had begun to come to the age of reason, he was handed over to excellent and very upright tutors for instruction in his ABC’s. He was endowed with such keenness of wit, lively intellect, and capacity to learn that as a little boy he learned everything pertaining to divine worship quickly, and beyond the expectation of them all, and learned these things with any great effort on the part of his preceptors. At this time in his boyhood, while still a child, his virtuous character shone forth, when he both read and listened to divine offices with attentions, to the extent that all who saw him regarded this as presaging his future probity and happiness. And as youth, after having received an introduction to literature, he surpassed all his contemporaries in the quickness of his understanding, no less than he had in learning his alphabet. Thus I recall that his right learned and excellent tutor Master Andrew Scott (may his soul rest with the saints), then a professor of theology at Oxford, was in the habit of telling me that he had never heard of a boy of that age so marked by quickness and capacity to learn. And furthermore, there was such decorum in his noble manners, such favor and grace in his royal countenance, so much beauty in him, that, as clear as daylight, he very happily showed all men of that epoch a foretaste of the state in which he now rules as a right triumphant victor and peaceful Solomon.
On his speedy departure from here
8. During the reign of the aforesaid Henry VI of most happy memory, an evil spirit grew envious of the peace of his realm, the same spirit which in earlier centuries had long set the Saxons and Britons to fighting each other within this realm, and stirred up trouble against the said excellent King Henry. And yet divine grace was not failing for the Earl of Richmond, as he was making progress in his service to God and his study of letters.
Of the divine prophecy of Henry VII’s reign and of heaven’s protection of the young Earl of Richmond after he had been bereft of his father
9. After the death of our king’s right noble father Edmund of Richmond, his excellent mother Margaret wisely undertook his supervision. One day, when Henry VI was enjoying a lavish banquet with the lords and optimates of his realm, while in the course of washing his hands he summoned the Earl of Richmond and forecast that someday he would assume the helm of state, and was destined to hold everything in his grasp (as we now see him happily doing). And at the advice of that good king, the Earl of Richmond secretly crossed the sea, to evade the cruel hands of his enemies.
The constancy of the king’s mother
10. Now that it had been decreed by a divine oracle, since the holy king had commanded it, that, albeit still a boy, the earl should depart for distant climes, then his mother’s mind (more steady and firm than that required by womanly weakness), manifested itself in the presence of some of her most well-tried counselors. Although she understood that she would react to his departure not without grief, after having debated the matter back and forth for a long time, she privately addressed the right noble Earl of Pembroke, the elder brother of her former husband Lord Edmund of Richmond, with words such as these:
His mother’s speech to the Lord Pembroke
11. “I wish, my dearest brother, that I were endowed with such divine grace that I could see what was the best thing for us to do in this time of turbulence regarding all our affairs. But the weakness, imprudence, and fickleness of the female sex is well-known to one and all. And so I earnestly implore Your Lordship, whom I have always loved like a brother, that if I strike you as less than astute in this business, that you help me with your singular prudence. But it seems to me that our excellent king’s advice seems by far the most advantageous for your nephew, my most beloved son. For, as you see, after , [ . . . . . . . ] out of his error of opinion and lust for power has appointed himself sovereign, perverting all laws both divine and human, and persecuting innocent and guilty with equal audacity. And we, fighting under the best of kings, may be dearly beloved to him, will suffer much for the sake of his uprightness and innocence. Then too, at this time supreme malice is supreme right, and nothing but the unjust and the unlawful possess strength. Therefore, should my son remain here, I fail to see what help he can find in me, especially because my lord husband’s power will not dare offer any defense. So it seems better and more advantageous for your safety if you yield in the face of the tyrant’s wrath and fury and go across the sea. Possibly in your prudence you will say that there are towns and very strong castles in Wales, with which the assault of our enemies might be warded off. But in the midst of adversity it is difficult to discern who is trustworthy, and these days we often hear that those who were most esteemed for their trustworthiness and silence are the first to fail you. In sum, unless my opinion and my motherly mind are wrong, only the sea will allow us to avoid all dangers. It is no secret that the sea is full of great perils, but at this time life is preserved by the upheavals of the sea more than those of the land. But, should things go amiss, even if my son lacks a tomb, the open sky will serve as his shroud. I would prefer that (God forbid!) rather than see him killed by the tyrant’s bloody swords. I have told you how the matter looks to me, my excellent brother. Pray correct me, if you see a better way.
The reply of my lord the Earl of Pembroke
12. “In your wisdom, my prudent, well-beloved lady sister, you shrewdly foresee what is to be done and what is to be avoided at this ruinous time, Indeed, your prudence has examined everything so circumspectly and wisely that I have nothing to say. So, to express myself in a few words, this crossing strikes me as entirely necessary. Out of my love for you two, I shall gladly undertake this responsibility and be sure to show such diligence towards your son and my nephew that I could not do better were he my own son.
13. After they had debated these things back and forth, [ . . . . . . . ] men of undoubted loyalty endowed with excellent wisdom were fetched, who might supervise this great undertaking and keep a close watch over the Earl of Richmond. Men assembled, moved by either hatred or great fear of the cruel tyrant. And so arrangements were made for a time, a place, and shipping, and thus, with very few privy to the enterprise, the crossing was prepared and at hand. [ . . . . . . . ] So with goodly omens and favorable weather, they entrusted themselves to the sea, bent on gaining France. But raging southerlies eventually drove them to Brittany.
14. Duke François of Burgundy was the best and kindliest prince of that time, and he received them with great relish, thanking Almighty God because he knew (having heard this from others) that Henry was destined someday to rule in England. So he began to treat him with all acts of kindness, friendliness, good-will and liberality, to the extent that nothing was left wanting, and, with a calm expression, he thus addressed his companions:
The speech of François of Brittany
15. “The degree of pleasure I am now feeling, noble sirs, is inexpressible. For I have previously I have heard plenty, plenty indeed, about the proscriptions suffered by your noble countrymen. I have learned of your flights, and been advised of your factions, continual dissensions, quarrels, rivalries, slaughters, and defeat. And so, by heavens, I am scarcely surprised that this young prince has been driven into exile and landed here, and I greatly congratulate him on having survived safe and sound the dangers he has faced by land and by sea. And indeed, meeting him face to face, I am increasingly moved to love him. For I see signs of his goodness of nature, I recognize his noble nature, and I admire the gravity he displays at such a young age, his well-arranged manners, his gentleness, his humility, and his innate, divinely-inspired uprightness. And, by heavens, by these signs I am easily led to believe that he is bound to attain to the helm of government someday. So come, my lords, and enter our house. I promise you and swear on my good faith and that I shall treat him and yourselves with the same good-will that I do my very own familiars and members of my household.” Having said these things, he graciously took him by the hand and escorted him into his palace with great good mirth, and commanded that he and all his companions should henceforth be supplied with the same necessities of life as the rest of his intimate friends and noble kinsmen.
Of Edward Earl of March
16. Meanwhile England came ablaze with great dissentions and upheavals, and Edward Earl of March, the son of Edward Duke of York, fired by I know not what Fury, aspired to gain tyranny over the realm, and attacked that excellent King Henry VI, originally with furtive hatred, and then openly. But God, all-seeing and the fairest of judges, did not allow these snares to go unnoticed by that holy man. And so, understanding the malice and perfidy of the Duke and his followers, he no longer entrusted himself to them. But the more he was protected, the hotter the fire burned, and pale Tisiphone kindled her fatal torches, inspiring men to break their faith and their sworn duty. Now all parts of the realm resounded with the clash of arms, wars were stirred up on all sides, and the downfall of the pious king was prepared. It is wonderful how the power of unseen destiny drives some headlong to do good, and others to do evil, so that the tragic poet did not go amiss in exclaiming, “the fates drag us against our will, and guide us when we are willing.” I say this since, if the report is true, Richard, the brother of the aforesaid Earl of March, was appointed to butcher this most innocent of kings, for bloody crimes pleased him down to his very fingertips.
17. But before I go any farther, at this point I have urgent need of a digression at point to explain the origin of this detestable mutual conflict and furious rivalry. In this respect I would beg my readers’ pardon if I do not trace the storms of those times in their proper order. For in those days I was not present, nor have I heard anything about them with these ears of mine. Furthermore, as I have said in my preface, I am writing a biography rather than a history, and wouldl that I were sufficient to praise and laud him in a polished way! And assuredly as I was writing these things I had no source or guide who might supply me with material for my narrative, as at the beginning I had hoped. And so, like a blind man walking in the dark with no guide, I have nothing beyond what I have heard. And furthermore, I have a mind and memory ill-attuned to such matters and deaf to evils. And so I humbly beg the pardon of those who read my words, if I have said anything out of its proper order or disjointedly. For these are preludes and, as it were, foretastes, designed merely as leisure pastimes for myself alone. I shall continue these bold beginnings by cursorily flitting through the remainder hither and thither, as bees like to light upon various flowers.
On the civil wars
18. As I have already said, I am torn in different directions concerning the order in which I might best recount these civil wars. But I shall relate them indiscriminately and without order, as each thing occurs to my imagination and memory. In those days the Earl of Warwick was dearly beloved to the people and very powerful in war, and fighting manfully on behalf of King Henry, he was killed on the field of battle [ . . . . . . . ] Where, they say, King Henry was brought by the man who had usurped his crown after gaining the day. In that battle those two famous bothers, I mean the aforesaid Earl and the Marquis of Montacute, fell while fighting manfully. Afterwards, when his affairs had been settled, King Edward (whom I have previously referred to as the Earl of March, but now ennobled with royal honor) brooded what was best to be done with the blessed King Henry VI. After considering many possibilities, it seemed best to have him put to death. At this point I cannot refrain from tears as in my inmost mind I think on the cruelty, brutality, and hardness used against that holy man, and I want to turn aside from my plan for a moment for an exclamation, not without evidence of my great sorrow.
The author’s tearful exclamation
19. Almighty, ever-living God, You Who have created everything out of nothingness and Who governs this world with perpetual reason, throughout the world You have made distinctions whom to humble and whom to lift up; You exalt the humble, You lift up the lowly from the dust. But what cause regarding this realm of England has moved You to allow those men to revel with impunity with such a variety of troublemaking? Good God, even if from the world’s beginning You have had foresight and foreknowledge of all things, nevertheless, by allowing them a protracted immunity in their criminality, You dumbfound the others, for when they see every wicked villain having his way in his wrongdoing they are reduced to wonder, and gain the suspicion that You have no care for mortal affairs. For good and innocent men are oppressed and evil men hold sway. The just king himself was always obedient to Your command, he was pious and harmless, and yet You allowed the scepter to be wrenched out of his hands by violence, and to be usurped by that man who, inspired by his evil ambition, lawlessly strove to gain it. But, overcome by love, I have strayed too far from my subject in my expostulation to You, but not without reason, inasmuch as I am troubled by the cruel end of such a good prince who was so dear to God. And yet, oh governor and ruler of kings and kingdoms, it is Your will that we at length find our way to You through the many anxieties of this life. Thus it happened in the case of this holy king, as we know now that, having been wrongly deposed from his royal throne, he has been crowned with a celestial crown in the company of the kings in heaven. And those men who tormented him have suffered condign punishments, in accordance with their deserts. But let us return to the king himself.
Of the holy king’s cruel death
20. After the king had long languished in his imprisonment, having been despoiled of his rights and mourning the exile of his consort the right noble Queen Margaret and the untimely death of his vigorous son (who had fallen in the Battle of Tewkesbury, a little before the Battle of Barnet), he nevertheless exerted himself with daily prayers that by His divine will God would free him from his great evils so that he would not witness the final collapse of his kingdom. And so as to set forth in a few words what the good king prayed, I have here inserted a summary of his petition.
The divine king’s prayer
21. If I do not thank You for all my many ills, sweet Jesus, as well as for the good things I have enjoyed, than I am wholly an ingrate. You are not unaware of all the good things You have granted me in the course of my life, as well as the bad. I have gladly received from Your hand the good and the bad alike, because You make Your sun to shine on good men and bad alike, and You rain on the just and the unjust alike. The prosperity you have conferred upon me has been no cause for boasting, but rather I repay it with acts of gratitude. You have given me parents on both sides ennobled by an ancient royal pedigree. This place perhaps requires me to recount my father’s near-countless feats performed in France, but my prayer hastens on to other things. This one thing I shall decline to say about myself, to the glory of God.
22. “I was crowned in the very flourishing city of Paris, and afterwards Margaret, the right wise daughter of King René of Sicily, was my very chaste consort, and on her I fathered a son, Prince Edward. The fact that I governed the realm so many years in peace is indeed a better reason for congratulation than condolence. And although I am now overcome by all manner of evils, if I patiently suffer them, then everything will redound to my credit. Hence I shall calmly bear whatever misfortune God confers upon me, nor does my patience with these men who have committed many outrages seem over-long. For nothing makes death an evil save for what follows death, and a death is not to be deemed an evil one if a good life has preceded it.” The king regularly said these and similar things to his wardens [ . . . . . . . ] So when these things had been done, behold, the bloodthirsty Richard Duke of Gloucester, dispatched by his brother Edward IV, arrived to murder Henry, and he [ . . . . . . . ]
23. Nearly all the world knows how many evils followed his brutal murder, since a nearly countless heap of tragedies ensued. For after his death that Edward IV, otherwise a right puissant and magnificent prince, was cheated out of his sons, whom he had entrusted to his brother the aforesaid Richard for their safeguarding. And while still living Edward often feared that this Henry VII would replace him. Frightened by the prophetic pronouncements of certain men, he often tried to convince Duke François of Brittany, offering bribes, entreaties, and large promises, to return the Earl of Richmond to his native land. But the Earl’s mother, a thoroughly shrewd woman, saw through his deceit and by secret communications involving messengers and letters, constantly forbade him to return. Finally, frustrated in all his efforts, Edward attempted to gain possession of him by stealth. But mortal cleverness has never proved successful in despite of God, and so Edward later fell ill and died.
24. And So Richard, styled and named Protector of the Realm by his brother, first bade his brother’s sons be fetched from Wales, dissimulating the intention of making himself tyrant that he had now conceived. But Queen Elizabeth, King Edward’s very prudent consort, looked out for herself and her children and inhabited a place of asylum. Why say much? Having killed those lords he knew to be loyal to his brother, the tyrant had his nephews secretly cut down unawares in the Tower of London, and thus death was repaid with death, destruction with destruction. Then you could have seen the entire region filled with sobs and grief, great lords of the realm fearful for their lives, each man thinking how he might place another in jeopardy. Men wore loyal faces, but in their hearts they kept their lamentations far removed from the tyrant’s sight. Why say more? Under these circumstances he usurped the crown and was elevated to the throne. Meanwhile news of what had transpired in England was sent to the Earl of Richmond by means of his mother’s messengers. He relied on her prudent advice and consulted with Duke François of Britanny about what should be done. The duke, thinking if he were to gain Richard’s gratitude by sending the earl back it would be to his advantage, entertained thoughts about procuring Richard’s good-will. But since the Earl of Richmond and his followers understood his intention, they adopted the plan of secretly making their escape. So when he had made all his arrangements, the earl pretended to be going to the hunt, and, having forewarned his tutors, he secretly made his way to France. Meanwhile an uprising against Richard was mounted in Wales by Henry Duke of Buckingham, and when he got word of this, the earl thought of returning to England at once. But the Marquis of Dorset, the step-son of Edward IV, who had fled to the Earl of Richmond in Britanny a little while previously, dissuaded him from this plan. But Dorset was subsequently solicited by Richard and broke with the Earl of Richmond at Paris. He had decided to secretly flee to England, and would have done so had not the Earl of Richmond in his prudence prevented him. So [ . . . . . . . ] were sent, who caught and retrieved him. At length he was freed, after having been held in public custody at Paris, when the earl, having gained the crown, was inspired by piety to recall him to England, and, forgetful of the injuries he had suffered, embraced him with his erstwhile good-will.
25. But now I come back to my main subject. When to the Earl of Richmond had explained everything to King Charles VII of France and his very wise council, starting at its very beginning, the king, as if advised by a divine oracle, admired the prince’s excellent, handsome countenance, his innate presence and smooth handling of the French language, and could not refrain from being greatly overjoyed by his arrival. This was supplemented by the incredible liking for him on the part of all the lords of the realm, and especially by the unheard-of favor of that wisest and kindest of ladies, the kings’s sister the Duchess of Bourbon. The result of all these things was a decision by the royal council to provide support for the aforesaid earl. An army was immediately readied, foot and horse were enlisted. The overall command of this expedition was entrusted to that vigorous and wise soldier, the Sieur de Shaundé. [ . . . . . . . ] And so, when ships had been readied under a lucky star, before going abroad, the earl, in the manner of a Catholic prince, fell to his knees on the ground and humbly directed words such as these to God:
The speech of the Earl of Richmond prior to his crossing the sea
26. “This is the day, most merciful God, on which, in accordance with Your command, I intend to board ship. And yet, as You can best bear witness, I do not undertake this journey out of greed, ambition, or thirst for human blood. Rather, I go there moved by pity for the protracted, ruinous captivity of the realm and people of England, You know, almighty God, that brutal men have raged against my stock, to the point that there is nearly no remainder of my family that they have not destroyed by the sword and by proscriptions. Only my dearest mother remains, who is suffering great and constant sorrows for my sake. So, most just judge, if I deserve that for which I come, You will grant me the power. But if the right to rule is not owed to me, I most humbly pray You to advise me better and direct me from this day forward, as long as I do not deviate from Your will. And you, my sturdy fellow-soldiers, who have been exiled for such a long space of time, separated from your wives and children, apart from your homeland and parents, if it is God’s will that we should regain our rights at this time, you should renew your courage and help me against England with pure and honest hearts. You see how the tyrant has filled everything with bloodshed, has butchered his one-time close friend the Duke of Buckingham, and killed many innocent people, including lords of the realm and his very own nephews. And in the same way, in his thirst for blood he craves to destroy us who survive by the will of God, and he would have done so already, had God not held us back from the voyage we were bent on undertaking. But now our time is at hand, the time when God, that just judge, will punish his crimes by means of our handiwork. So be brave in this war and always keep God before your eyes. Indeed, I am deeply troubled that we are compelled to engage in cruel warfare, which goed contrary to my nature. But it is better to obey God’s command than while away the rest of our lives living amidst alien nations. And, although we enter into this journey with a small band of men and, being few, are waging war against a well-peopled land, if we place our trust firmly in God, then there is no doubt that we few can defeat many. When Moses raised his hands to heaven, Amelek was overcome: had his hands dropped even a trifle, he would have been enfeebled. It would be tedious to recount how many captains, how many kings, how many emperors have conquered great armies with the help of small forces, including Xerxes, Darius, Croesus, and many others, and also the Spartans, the Thebans, the Athenians, the Carthaginians, and Roman emperors, all defeated by small forces. Victory does not reside in the number of combatants, but in the hand of God. But this occasion requires no further words. I see you are sufficiently fired for doing this deed by your own virtue. So, having said one thing, I shall make an end to my speech. You whose duty is to serve and minister to God, I mean all you priests and clerics consecrated to God, I would urgently beg you that you pour forth continual prayers to Him, until, thanks to His mercy, you have your way, and I may give you all rewards worthy of your efforts.”
27. When he had said these things, with one voice and one heart they all turned to the right noble, right loyal Earl of Oxford to make a reply. And the earl, graciously and kindly enough, as was his wont, complied with their desire. Kneeling, he humbly addressed words such as these to the Earl of Richmond:
The loyal and well-disposed reply of the Earl of Oxford on behalf of the entire army
28. “My right wise lord, we imagine that the disposition of our hearts towards your rule is already well known to your excellency. But since at this present time your wise prudence has given us this admonition, it has assuredly acted no less wisely than necessarily. For who is possessed of such a great mind that he does not occasionally experience fear in time of war and in battle itself? Indeed, one’s boldness of mind stands clearly revealed in war, and sometimes weakness and cowardice deter even brave men’s hearts. This is the reason the old custom of commanders to exhort their fellow soldiers to fight bravely is a praiseworthy one: not because they entertain doubts about their soldiers’ loyalty, but to provoke them to act with greater energy. Thus did the most attentive and most triumphant Julius Caesar before his expedition to Pharsalia, thus did Pompey the Great, thus did Lucius Catiline, thus every excellent general has done. Hence it is, my most modest prince, that an insult inflicted on their commander has served as a motive and cause for resorting to arms,
29. “And you see, most kind prince, that we are all driven from our homesteads and suffer this voluntary exile. Your victory will make us all victors, now most of all, since our factions are fearful, supported by no strength, while the tyrant is an object of hatred to all men, while loyal, powerful men are pledged to you and are awaiting you. I therefore can say, along with Curio (although briefly),
Make haste; delay is ever fatal to those who are prepared.
The toil and danger are no greater than before, but the prize at stake is greater. Then too, he who refuses a man justice arms him, and heaven does not fail to take his side. For your arms are not being employed to gain plunder or acquire tyranny, your only intention is to rid our land of this tyrant. Since you have appointed me leader of your van, I am bidden to respond to your excellency in this wise with the words Laelius spoke to Caesar, you who are truly the successor and heir to the kingdom of Britain,
To speak the truth, our complains that you have borne too much and restrained your strength too long. was it confidence in us that you lacked? While the warm blood gives motion to these breathing bodies, and while our muscles have strength to hurl the javelin, will you submit to the disgrace of wearing the toga and to the tyranny of the Senate? Is it so wretched a fate to be victorious in a civil war? Lead us straightway through the tribes of Scythia, or to the inhospitable shore of the Syrtes, or the burning sands of thirsty Libya, that we might leave a conquered world at our backs. Whatever walls you wish to level, these arms will play the ram and scatter the stones asunder, even if the city you doom to utter destruction be Rome.”
all the cohorts together signified their assent, raising their hands on high and promising their aid in any war to which he summoned them. Their shout rose to heaven, as loud as, when the Thracian north-wind bears down upon the cliffs of pine-clad Ossa, the forest roars as the trees are bent towards the earth, or again as they rebound into the sky. When the prince saw that war was so eagerly welcomed by the soldiers, he would not by any slackness delay the course of the destiny that summoned,
and bade everyone immediately take ship. Having prayed to all the saints native to Britain that they might intercede with God, a favorable wind offered them a prosperous voyage. So, weighing anchor with happy southerlies blowing and God favoring them, [ . . . . . . . ] they landed in England. There, has been promised, [ . . . . . . . ] in particular assembled.
31. When he had been given a brief summary of the things needful to do, the place and time, and when he had understood all of Richard’s preparations, the great-hearted prince drew up his army in battle array, and placed the Earl of Oxford in command of it. That man, not inexpert at arms, urged a strategy on the prince and the other lords As I have mentioned above, certain nobles of the said King Charles were present with sturdy soldiers, and their chief was the Sieur de Shaundé, a man endowed with a military education.
32. When these and others had been set in battle array, the Earl of Oxford himself fearlessly led them on their way from the Welsh harbor called [ . . . . . . . ]. At this point I do not think I should omit the salutation, pious and worthy of such a great prince, to England which he delivered when he saw it from his ship, and his most just oration to his followers when he had landed.
The salutation of the Earl of Richmond to england, and his second and just exhortation to his followers
33. “Hail, powerful mistress of war and peace, adorned with men of holy character and endowed with all the gifts of fortune. You surpass all the nations enclosed by the great ocean, you have never received adequate praise for your men. At length, after long delays, I come, having been advised by our God in heaven of the countless tragedies you suffer. We do not desire to ravage you with steel, fire, and plundering, but rather with God’s help we are determined to free you from tyranny, and restore to you your ancient rights, until now abrogated after the butchery of the blessed Henry VI. For a long time my hope has been joyfully to see you again. And now, when I behold you, afflicted though you are and wretchedly enslaved by a savage tyrant, I rejoice in my heart, I greet you, I love you, I shall protect you. And I swear by God that any man who has done you harm, even if he is one of my very own kinsmen, I shall prosecute him as my most bitter foe, I shall penalize him, I shall punish him. Wherefore I would have you all be admonished not to commit any wrong on the common folk either to gain sustenance or to turn a profit, nor to take any property from any inhabitant without paying him recompense. And if you require money, behold, men are here to pay you a proper salary. Do not do anything to other men, either by word or by deed, that you would not wish to have done to yourselves. If you conduct yourself thus, God will be propitious to us, since a thieving lawbreaker does not long rejoice in other men’s property.” When these pious and kindly words had been spoken by the prince, they all were of one heart in giving their agreement, promising their commanders on their good faith that they would conduct themselves in this way, and, should they do otherwise, that they would patiently to submit to their punishment.
On the rumor brought to Richard
34. While these things were afoot in the aforesaid camp, behold, rumor came a-flying to the tyrant on swift pinions, reporting that the Earl of Richmond had indisputably landed in Wales with considerable forces, and was marching to battle as quickly as he could. He had come to claim that which was his by right both paternal and maternal, and was unwilling to delay any longer, but rather intending to fight against him. The time for vengeance was at hand: God was slow to take revenge, but all the heavier in punishing evildoers. Hearing these things and much else of the same kind, like a snake fed on bad grass, the tyrant was fired with rage and fury, not otherwise than a Hyrcanian tiger or a Marsian wild boar when it feels itself to be wounded. Therefore he erupted in a sudden roaring and furiously addressed his followers:
The tyrant’s furious speech to his followers
35. “Take up arms, my men. For we have in our hands the arms for which we have so greatly hoped, and so we must take advantage of the strength we have created. I order you, I command and exhort you to destroy them all with fire and steel, without mercy, without piety, without favor. Kill the Frenchmen and other foreigners to the last man, butcher them, put them to the torture. And cut down the Earl of Richmond without any respect for his breeding or nobility, or, if you can, bring him to me, so that I might invent novel and unheard-of punishments, or even kill, slaughter, and murder him with my own hand. So go, my trusty chamberlain, and carry my out my orders quicker than their telling.” By passing out royal warrants on all sides, that busy fellow summoned all the lords of the realm, and exhorted them speedily to do as they were bidden. But at that time that good and prudent man the Lord Stanley, now Earl of Derby and the husband of the most kindly mother of the aforesaid Earl of Richmond, together with his noble sons, out of his faith and surpassing wisdom, neglected to obey the tyrant. These men did no wr0ng in cleaving to the Earl of Richmond in his quest to obtain his rights in equity. Telying on these men and wonderfully heartened, the prince joined battle all the more boldly. Why waste words? Now the day was at hand on which both sides had determined to fight.
The author’s apology
36. Although I have heard of this battle with my ears, in this business the eye is a surer witness than the ear. Since, as I have said, I am blind, I would not be so bold as to affirm the day, the place, and the order of battle, and so I pass this by. And, in lieu of a battlefield, until I am better informed, I leave a large blank field on this paper.
[ . . . . . . . ]
37. After the Earl of Richmond had happily gained the day thanks to the divine providence of God Almighty and the tyrant had been hewn down, as he deserved, the blare of bugles and bray of trumpets assaulted the stars. Furthermore all the churchmen who had come along with the most fortunate Earl of Richmond offered up heartfelt and most pious prayers to heaven. Among these was the reverend gentleman who at the time was his secretary, and now the Keeper of the Privy Seal and Bishop of Winchester, my lord and most attentive patron, together with the Franciscan friar Michael Deacon of blessed memory, Bishop of Asaph, the sometime confessor to the king, and likewise Dominus Christopher Urswick, the Dean of Windsor, then promoted to the position of King’s Almoner. And the right Christian prince remained most humble amidst his prosperity, not as most mortals are wont do do, and, signaling with his hand for all men to keep silent, he thus began to speak:
The Earl of Richmond’s thanksgiving to God after his victory
38. “I can offer no adequate thanks, no thanks can be offered that are proportionate to such great favors. But the thanks that cannot be offered can be felt and shown in action. Oh this great work of divine piety, wonderful in the telling! And so, ascribing this all to the gift of heaven’s grace, I give as much thanks as I can with this tongue and heart to You, most merciful Jesus, and also to you, o Virgin Mother of God, in whose service I have gained the victory on this Saturday. You will always be celebrated by my honor and my prayers. And all of you, you national saints by whose joint will I have proven triumphant, continue pouring forth your prayers to God, until our fortune at length comes to match such fair beginnings. May this take its beginning and find its end in you, oh pious virgin! Direct our prayers offered to you to the supreme Trinity, and I shall henceforth attend to offering thanksgivings to you and all the heavenly host. Meanwhile,
I do not know what else to say, I am overwhelmed by such great happiness and grief. First happiness, since I have happily brought back to your hearths and homes, oh my fellow soldiers. And yet I grieve when I behold the deaths of so many brave men, whom I would like to commit to a decent burial. In particular, I am of the opinion that the body of King Richard should be buried at [ . . . . . . . ] with all due reverence.”
39. When these quite honorable measures had been taken, with a single voice and will they all hailed the Earl of Richmond as king. Then his subjects’ hearts, long shut tight by dread and fear, melted, and every man opened his heart to their newly-named king, and swore to keep inviolate the loyalty he had not previously dared profess. In that battle the Lords [ . . . . . . . ] and ordered to be kept in public custody until the king had settled and pacified his affairs and was freer to attend to them.
On the royal coronation
40. On a Saturday (the same day of the week he had triumphed over his enemies) the royal Duke of Richmond made his happy entrance into the City of London accompanied by a great train of lords. Although I was blind, since I was fired with love and longing I myself was present at his arrival, and joyfully moved with poetical inspiration publicly recited this poem:
A SAPPHIC ODE ON THE KING’S FIRST VICTORY
Come, Muse, tell of the noble triumphs of King Henry VII. On your pliant strings come, tuneful Clio, and tell of his glory and victory.
Let that choir of yours tell of these things with a shrill voice, together with Phoebus; let your lyres enter into a great contest, always lauding this king to the skies.
Let gladsome lads and lasses sing of his coming with happy faces. Let the City rejoice like a wife happily wed to her husband.
See how all the winds have fallen still, save for the Zephyr, warm with its murmurs. It nourishes the roses and the bright flowers of pleasant springtime.
As when protracted rain pouring from the wide-open clouds has long detained the farmers, and the sad ploughman has left his plough long hanging,
And then, if Apollo, riding in his rosy car, drives off the darkness of the black clouds and brings back the light, the ploughman sings,
So this day on which the king returns dispels our dark quarreling, and the sunlight shines the brighter under this powerful king.
Our seamen will fly over the vast Caspian Sea once more, fearing no storms. Now let an English ship visit the far-off Geloni.
Therefore let all our land rejoice today with a gladsome hubbub and merry Muses; let it henceforth have no fear, as our king possesses his crown.
41. During this most mirthful entrance you could heard the voices of all men praising and blessing the king’s angelic countenance, and extolling the name of King Henry to high heaven. Next the king, wearied and fatigued by his lengthy journey (for he had begun at St. Albans) rested for the night in the palace of the Bishop of London. Then thought was had for a coronation, and on the day appointed by the royal counselors the king went to the Tower of London. Here it would take too much time to narrate what the noble men did there, adorning him with martial and heroic honors. But when I have learned more about the events of that kind I shall write more at large. Hence here too my plan has been to leave a large blank space. [ . . . . . . . ]
On the royal banquets and tournaments celebrated with the estate of a royal coronation
42. Here too you must stay your foot, my Muse. Why, rash one, are you ready to plunge ahead? You are not up to the task of writing and illustrating such great matters. Therefore, until I learn from others what was done, by a similar decision I have passed over these things. [ . . . . . . . ]
43. Meanwhile the Privy Council deliberated about the marriage of their king, so magnificently crowned. Although, prior to his departure, Duke François of Brittany had often tried to arrange a marriage between his eldest daughter Anne and the king, the king had most prudently declined to enter into this without the advice of his subjects. Moreover, in his lifetime Edward IV had importunately urged his marriage to his eldest daughter Elizabeth. And indeed, as the sequel revealed, in accordance with the desire of the aforesaid Edward his most noble and prudent daughter had been kept in a right chaste condition for King Henry.
In praise of Edward IV’s eldest daughter Elizabeth
44. I cannot pass by in silence the lauds and praises of Elizabeth, the said daughter of Edward IV, while she was still a girl, and so I have added a few words here concerning many things. She was possessed of fear of God down to her very fingertips, and admirable dutifulness towards Him, wonderful obedience to her parents, all but incredible love of her brothers and sisters, and singular reverence and affection for the poor and Christ’s ministers. When she had heard that the king had gained the day, in her mind’s happiness she exclaimed, “At length, God, You have heard the prayers of the humble and You have not rejected their orisons. I remember, and I shall never be embarrassed to recall, that my most noble father of famous memory once wished to bestow me on this right handsome prince. Oh would that I would be worthy of that now! But now that my father is dead, I lack the good friends to negotiate such a business. Then too, perhaps he is bent on having some other woman from across the sea my superior in beauty, fortune, and dignity. What can I say? I am alone, and dare not reveal my thoughts to anyone. What if I were to tell my mother? I’m ashamed to do so. Tell other lords? I lack the forwardness. I if I could speak with him, perhaps in the course of our conversation I could touch upon this subject. I have no idea what will happen, I only know this one thing, that God knows not how to fail those who place their hope in Him. And so, making an end to these thoughts, I place all my hope in You, great God. Deal with me in accordance with Your mercy.”
45. When she had entertained these secret thoughts, our just and excellent God consented to the girl’s desire, just as it was, and brought it to pass that, after he had heard of her integrity, faith, and probity, the prince’s mind was swayed to love her. And so when a council of all the leading nobility of the realm had been summoned and convened, it was decided that a single harmonious dynasty be made out of these two families which once suffered from mortal hatred for each other. Therefore wedding torches and ornaments fit for such a marriage were prepared. And here too my mind freezes with doubt when it comes to describing this estate in a manner that befits its dignity. And therefore I have deliberately passed over the abundance of things displayed in the royal wedding itself and in the coronation of the queen, the lavish gifts conferred by one and all, the feasting, dancing, tournaments all performed on a most lavish scale to demonstrate and enhance the happiness of the occasion, and the great plenty of gold, silver, rings, and jewels. [ . . . . . . . ]
46. When the royal wedding had been celebrated, great happiness rose throughout all the realm. For previously, as I have said, a vehement and undying hatred had come close to destroying those right noble houses. But when they heard of such a marriage, the people built bonfires far and wide, and dancing, singing, and banqueting was celebrated throughout the City of London, as all of its citizens of both sexes prayed for prosperous success for the king and queen, that their joys might at length be crowned by childbearing and the birth of a new little prince. And our Lord Jesus Christ looked favorably on their prayers, and not many days thereafter permitted our right serene queen to become fruitful with the longed-for child. At which point there arose new felicity for our most happy king, great glee for the queen, supreme mirth for the Church, great merriment for the court, and incredible pleasure for the entire realm. Nor was this amiss, for, as the matter turned out, had the Fates permitted him to enjoy the light of life for a longer time, not only England, but also the entire world would have had cause to rejoice because of such a child. But God, Who rules all things, and in Whose hand reside the scepters of kingdoms and the lives of kings, disposed of him otherwise.
On the birth of Prince Arthur
47. At the time the queen was great with child and close to giving birth, the king was staying at Winchester, determining the new business of the realm and restoring the body of the entire state, which for a long time had been rent asunder limb by limb. When the time for the birth was close at hand and the months of her carriage had passed by, behold, a new little prince was born, exhibiting such charm, grace and virtue that he promised all manner of happiness unheard-of in previous ages. For my part I was inspired by a kind of divine frenzy, and had long ago foretold this in these verses, sung at the coronation of his mother the right noble Queen Elizabeth:
A PROPHECY FOR THE QUEEN’S CORONATION
Come down from your holy ridge, Calliope. Come down, having been given the quill of unshorn Cynthius. As the first of the Muses, be present bearing his Pythian plectrum.
The queen, a child of Jove on high, bearing a crown whiter than the springtime rose, just as bright Diana springs from the midst of the rose-beds,
Sprung from the greatest gods on high, is joined to such a great prince by divine will, he who has serenely surpassed the entire world with his handsome praises.
Oh nymph kinder than Phoebus’ mother, you who in your greatness have given birth to such a great king, you are surpassing in your honorable virtue, since your sworn chastity, joined in this marriage,
Has created a son by such a great father, thanks to whom the peace of the Sibyl, governing by love, can confer everlasting centuries.
And so, you City, may the happy-hearted queen receive this noble crown. Rejoice, forever hymning both these noble roses with honor.
For Arthur himself, growing from one and the same stock, has favored these sweetest and brightest roses, I mean the red and the white, with such great prosperity that, if his noble virtue has not surpassed the fame of all other princes, it has at the least been their match.
About Arthur, placed under God’s government at the sacred font
48. After Arthur’s bright star had been conferred on a world at that time barren of new young princes, all the Furies of Hell were banished far away. For at the rising of the star of Arcturus, which according to nativities falls on September 12, Arthur too was born. To congratulate him on his birth, a hundred verses were composed by me, which I have omitted here because of their prolixity. Their beginning was as follows:
Hasten to celebrate the newborn boy, my Muses, this child who derives his pedigree from famous kings. Celebrate this solemn day. Bind your locks with decent flowers, ye Englishmen, and wreath your brows with garlands. Let the flute give its sound, let lads and tender lasses trip the dance and strike the welkin with their cheers, and let happy London hold festival games. Behold, the royal boy Arthur springs up, sent from lofty Olympus, the second hope of our realm. Strew the ground with greeny grass mixed with flowers, and let happy bonfires give their light as the day wanes. A holiday is at hand, a happy day most welcome to the English. Let the common folk say Io Paean, let the court say it too. Let them load their tables with feasts and fill their cups, let them toast one another with full bumpers of wine, and let every man utter the king’s name as he quaffs. And you fathers with your brows bound with victors’ laurels, stand at the altars offering up prayers worthy of God, that He will grant His son whatever you ask for, Henry. And meanwhile let the rites not cease in our churches; rather, let Christ’s bishop, wearing his shepherd’s miter and linen gown, preside over the traditional rite. Let priests utter sweet hymns filled with great praises, and pray to the holy saints that they might favor the boy, so that he might enhance the splendid deeds of his father and surpass his ancestors in piety and in feats of arms. And he will do so, since his nature tells us so. And so, as long as the morning star rises in the east and the evening star drives Phoebus into the western waters, and while the starry sphere wheels in its fixed turnings, let us celebrate the yearly festival of this noble day. Let pious incense be burned on our altars, let the fragrant spices sent us by Arabia Felix be burned. Let his genius itself come to see his honors, and let his temples drip with pure spikenard.
49. When I think on the happiness forecast by the remainder of the poem that follows, and again on the tragedy, the lamentable tempest that unexpectedly fell upon the entire realm because of the prince’s untimely death, good heavens, my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. But nevertheless I must continue. so as not to break the thread of my history, although I leave the high estate and festivity, and the magnificent adornment of his baptismal ceremony for others to write about.
Of the happy successes of his virtues
50. As he progressed a little in his age, the growth of his virtues began to shine forth even in his infancy. Such was the power of his nature that, without any training or the intervention of any man, thanks to his own inborn goodness he revealed to those responsible for his upbringing the future character of his virtues. After very swiftly learning his ABC’s, he was led to a deeper understanding of learning by his excellent and right learned tutor, Master John Rede, without any great amount of effort by either party. After a few years I myself supplied some assistance, and in our that apostolic statement proved true, “Apollo did the planting, I watered the plant, but the Lord made it grow.” I would be so bold as to say this one thing, that while he was still short of his sixteenth year he had read Guarino, Perotti, Pomponio Leto, Sulpizio, Aulus Gellius, and Valla in grammar, Homer, Vergil, Lucan, Ovid, Silius Italicus, Plautus and Terence in poetry, Cicero’s De Officiis, Epistolae, and Paradoxa Stoicorum and Quintilian in rhetoric, Thucydides, Livy, Caesar’s Commentaries, Suetonius, Cornelius Tacitus, Pliny, Valerius Maximus, Sallust, and even Eusebius: all of these he had either partially committed to memory or at least paged through them with his hands and read them with his eyes. Afterwards followed the ceremony of his most welcome investiture in lofty Westminster Palace, so longed-for by all the peerage of the realm, performed with such abundance of all things, opulence, and liberality of expenditure that I could scarcely describe it. But I adorned his right excellent creation with the following trifling versus, of whatever quality they might be:
Oh descendent of Arthur, sprung from blessed forefathers, oh ornament and fairest glory of our realm, a glory which, now that you have completed three full years, rises up to the starry skies and is known throughout the world., you most famous child of the right great-minded King Henry VII, bearing a heaven-sent name, hail, Arthur. Hail again, you whom the bright Pleiad nymph has borne, a nymph more excellent than your snowy rosebeds, you dweller at Paestum, and it is from her that my Clio, who has started up at your advent, should make her beginning. At which beginning all England has begun to extol you to heaven forever with its magnificent praises. Oh day that deserves to be remembered every year! This is the day on which our age of the world is able to behold the noble image of great Arthur, reflected in a little boy. Come now, Phoebus, and sound your lyre upon the high peak of Helicon, so that the favoring crew of Boetian sisters might sing such great praises and commemorate this day with solemn feasts.
I had finished, when the god Apollo came a-knocking at my door in the company of the Muses, such as he is when he comes to Delos, leaving your current and water, Xanthe. The Dryopes leap, the Agathyrsi caper with song, as he plays with his ivory quill. Thus he was the first to enter, and spoke with such words as these::
“Arise, Erato. Now, now take up your humble quill, albeit mine is golden. Begin, dear sister, to celebrate this solemn day, and kindle the hearth in this home. The blessed day has arisen on which I shall allow Arthur to make trial of his father’s scepter, for thus the pious Fates command. Behold, he is here for his investiture. Take up Phoebus’ pious tunes, you crew of nine Muses, and bind your sacred locks with green garlands. I myself will encircle my brow with victorious laurel, so that I, in the company of his genius, can witness the pious rites.” He spoke, and having spoken, with his tuneful voice he sang his tunes, made by my Muse:
Let our choir sing the praises of Arthur today, oh sisters Phoebus commands this, and the duly-created prince ordains it.
His face shines serenely for the benefit of his people, like a ruby. A fair ray more graceful than sunlight shines from his eyes.
Jupiter on high could not have given the British anything greater than this with his just Fates, nor shall he give such, even if the the age of the proud king should return.
So let his parents offer thanks to heaven, whose gods have created such a boy of noble character, bringing him the Thunderer’s holy things.
Let this nation widely rejoice, repeating with its tuneful voice the name of the boy who has been created a prince. Lead the happy songs, lads and lasses.
May the friendly gods grant the prayers of them both, so that the happy boy may long survive his father, and take up the reins after his father’s lengthy life.
May he be an old man, and together with his yet older divine father rule the sea’s trident. Lachesis, as you spin out their threads, bid your distaff keep on a-running.
I have inserted these verses about his creation after describing his birth, although I was aware that these did not follow in chronological order, so that I could maintain continuity and address myself to the glorification of his immortal fame in a fitter way.
Innocent sends fine gifts to the indomitable king
51. At this time Pope Innocent sent to the king the right reverend Bishop of Concordia together with a sword, gold, jewels, and a very ornate cap. After receiving an honorable reception at the City of London for several days by the king himself, he appeared at an audience wearing a very respectful countenance, for he was a venerable and eloquent gentleman. Having been given permission to speak, and after an exchange of salutations, he announced how overjoyed the pope had been made by his victory, then very eloquently offered his congratulations. His Holiness had never doubted but that by God’s will His Highness would gain his wishes. God was accustomed to dispose of kingdoms so that.for a while He would suffer these men to enjoy impunity and those to endure wrongdoing, but in the end He would give every man his due recompense. And inasmuch as the pope had heard that everything had turned out as it had, and as a sign and token of our faith, to set an enduring example for good men and as a caution to evildoers, he had sent Henry a Sword of Justice and Cap of Maintenance, and he hoped that someday he would defend the government of all Christendom against the most savage enemies of the Church Militant. To these words a response no less prudent than learned was offered by the king’s chancellor [ . . . . . . . ]. Then he, content with such a kindly response and laden down with generous gifts, happily went his way.
On the embassies of various princes
52. At this time ambassadors were sent to our most prudent king from sundry parts, lords of noble pedigree, excellent wit, outstanding learning, and endowed with a great funds of experience, who had come a-flying from far and wide because of our noble king’s fame. These were particularly French, Spanish, German, Burgundian. Portuguese, Pannonian, and Irish, sent by their right noble sovereigns to our king, as if he were the father and emperor of them all. In view of the dignity of their persons and the antiquity of their stock our most polished king received them so kindly, so wisely, and so magnificently that he left nothing missing from the full measure of honor and liberality. When he had had an individual interview with each, he dismissed them with his great congratulations, and they quickly betook themselves to their own folk.
53. Meanwhile the people of the north attacked the Earl of Northumberland unawares, a man otherwise distinguished, outstanding in war, and well-deserving of his royal majesty for serving as his agent, and slew him. I wrote the following verses about his murder:
ON THE DEATH OF THE EARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND
Are you not yet satisfied with your game, oh Quirinus? With what a grave stroke you compel human minds to run on a furious course, you lunatic!
You should at length cease to threaten our Henry VII so often, my conquered friend, for he has thrice gained a victory with his spear in your fields.
Our laureled prince, peaceful and mild, has suppressed all hostile furies, so that the British might live in enduring peace.
Oh savage Mars, what has moved these wild countrymen to use their bloody hands to destroy such a great earl with an unspeakable murder? Oh, the crime!
So now that your vain uprisings have failed utterly, thanks to the wise care of our unconquered king, you should hide your weapons.
Continue, brave king; kind king, continue. For (trust my sacred prayers) Christ and His holy virgin mother will look favorably upon you,
Let your happy Fates suppress the dark Sisters of Hell throughout the world. Let friendly Zephyrs drive your sails over the vast sea.
May God grant the daily prayers we humbly offer, for this we pray, that you may long wield the reins of state with a safe career.
May you bring it to pass, oh prince, that holy Peace may go coursing far and wide through the sunny countryside. The gods will give you the strength. Continue your voyage, for winds fill your sails.
Now your king has returned to you, ye City, put on a bright face. You hardened ploughman, you may now remain carefree in your fields along with your ox.
Now the playful kidlings caper through bramble-bushes fresh with the flower of tree-medick. Let the wolf roam among the fearless lambs, now that our enemy is subdued.
Let all our humble folk rejoice. Let you rejoice in all your parts, our nation, as you raise your tuneful voices, as the king revisits the homes of your songs.
Hearing of the earl’s death, the king took it hard. Collecting a force of men he went to the north country and punished all the rebels in accordance with their merits. And a little later a treasonous innovation was undertaken in Ireland.
On the Irish conspiracy
54. While the dire death of King Edward’s sons was still a fresh wound, behold, some seditious fellows devised another new crime, and so that they might cloak their fiction with some misrepresentation, in their evilmindedness they gave out that some base-born boy, the son of a baker or tailor, was the son of Edward IV. Their boldness had them in its grip to the point that out of the hatred they had conceived for their king they had no fear of God or Man. Thus, in accordance with the scheme they had hatched, rumor had it that Edward’s second son had been crowned king in Ireland. And when this rumor was brought to the king, in his wisdom he elicited all the facts from the men who had informed him: namely, he sagely discerned how and by whom the boy had been brought there, where he had been raised, where he had lingered for such a long time, what friends he had, and many other things of the same kind. In accordance with the variety of developments, various messengers were sent out, and finally [ . . . . . . . ], who said that he could easily divine whether the boy was what he claimed to be, crossed over to Ireland. But the lad, schooled with evil art by men who were familiar with Edward’s days, very readily replied to all the herald’s questions. In the end (not to make a long story of it), thanks to the false instructions of his sponsors, he was believed to be Edward’s son by a number of Henry’s emissaries, who were prudent men, and he was so strongly supported that a large number had no hesitation to die for his sake. Now see the sequel. In those days such was the ignorance of even prominent men, such was their blindness (not to mention pride and malice), that the Earl of Lincoln [ . . . . . . . ] had no hesitation in believing. And, inasmuch as he was thought to be a scion of Edward’s stock, the Lady Margaret, formerly the consort of Charles, the most recent Duke of Burgundy, wrote him a letter of summons. By stealth he quickly made his way to her, with only a few men party to such a great act of treason. To explain the thing briefly with a few words, the Irish and the northern Englishmen were provoked to this uprising by the aid and advice of the aforementioned woman. Therefore, having assembled an expedition of both Germans and Irishmen, always aided by the said Lady, they soon crossed over to England, and landed on its northern shore.
On the second triumph of Henry VII
The king’s speech
“My most loyal lords and very stout companions in my battles, who have joined me in running so many risks by land and by sea, behold, we are unwillingly being put to the test in another war. For, as you know, the Earl of Lincoln, a treacherous man, is upholding this iniquitous cause directed against myself, although I have given him no occasion for so doing. Nor, as you see, does he do so by stealth, but rather most impudently, without any fear of God, not just to create difficulty for us, but also to oblige the desire of a light-headed, chattering little woman, who is not unaware that her blood-line ended with the death of her brother Richard. But, since he was always an enemy of our family, she has no care about the welfare of her niece, my right noble consort, but rather is striving to destroy ourselves and our issue. So you see how often we are provoked by her. But she will never go unavenged by us. I swear by God and His holy angels, while I consult days and nights for your common peace, our old enemy strives against me. But God, a just judge, strong and long-suffering, will furnish a remedy for this evil too. Meanwhile I urge and ahort you that at this time the lawful succession must prove stronger than the lawless mischief-making of those people. Nor should you have any doubt but that God Himself, Who made us the victors in the previous war, will now allow us to triumph over our enemies. So let us attack them fearlessly, since God is our helper.”
56. He made an ending, and, since the time was pressing, although the Earl of Oxford was ready to make a response he bid him hold his silence and have regard for the urgent situation. So, moving “as headlong as doves in the face of a dark storm,” they took up arms. And now the royal army was approaching the barbarian squadrons, and they awaited our men on the brow of a hill, drawn up and ready. But God, the Lord of vengeance, punished their wrath with a sudden gale which arose while they were engaged in fighting, just as when Constantine was fighting against the enemies of the Church, and our men, who thought themselves bested, finally overcame them. Then a sudden shout of “King Henry“ rose up to heaven, as trumpets blared on all sides, and filled the ears of them all with rejoicing. There that petty king of villains, who, as I have said, had been crowned in Ireland, was taken in battle. Interrogated about what boldness induced the rascal to dare such a great deed, did not deny that he had been compelled by certain criminals of his own rank in life. Asked next about his family and parentage, he admitted that they were altogether low-down personages of mean professions unworthy of mention in this history. And the Earl of Lincoln suffered an end fitting for his actions. For he was killed on the battlefield, and likewise many others, whose commander and ruler was Martin Schwarz, a man well-versed in the arts of war, who fell while fighting bravely. When the day had been won by our king, by the grace of God Almighty, with little loss of life, he returned to London to offer thanksgiving to God, accompanied by his entire force.
57. I composed this poem on the subject of his happy homecoming:
Let others others follow the well-worn paths of bards in writing of the night-time fall of the Trojans, the tardy homecoming of Ulysses, and the rash theft of the Palladium. Let them praise Hector, the Thessalian chariot of Achilles, and puissant Priam’s suppliant gold. Let this poet mourn the crime of Pelusian Canopus, and that one employ his bright quill to sing of Philippi, white with Italian bones. Let these loudly hymn the Scipios, noble for their virtue, let those speak of the austere justice of Cato, and let another sing with fear and awe of the gods’ venerable power. Let another not keep silent about your virtue, Metellus. But, you learned servant of a great-minded sovereign, your Phoebus, joined with Pallas, has kindly conferred upon you the noble arts of both their provinces, upright morals, a hale body, prudent counsel, and the nymphs have granted you the favor of such a great prince, mortal though you are, virtues such as my Muse and my Thalia have not the power worthily to hymn on their strings, even if they were the strings of an Amphion. I sing the triumphs of Henry VII, a divine prince. He alone is Phoebus’ darling. For that prince kindly loves my humble verses and fosters my Muses. He is a prince distinguished with his warlike armament, but a prince who takes no pleasure in conquering or striking, a prince who governs the watery trident, a prince who is the darling and dread of his realm, a prince who is the ornament of Mars-born Quirinus, a prince bright with the Attic olive, a prince, Croesus, who shuns your wealth, a prince who is the child of heaven’s Mercury, a prince excellent for his bright intellect, his fame, his piety, his affability, his sense, his breeding, his grace, and his carriage. Therefore my flute, humble though it may be, will always praise him to high heaven, and repeat his name forever, until a stone raised up from the deep floats on the water, or until the bold hero does not fear his Amythaon-born Melampus.
58. Awaiting our invincible king on his return to the City of London after his victory was a papal legate, who announced a crusade declared by the holy father. The most kindly king received him with the same warmth that he was accustomed to display to everybody, and very obediently complied with the pope’s bidding, as a son would obey a father, and immediately bade the crusade be announced throughout the realm. And I composed these impromptu verses about the legate’s visit:
TO THE PAPAL LEGATE
The priest of the Roman choir is adored. This is your day: be favorable, my Muses. A man has come who can move rivers, herds of beasts, and Getic ash-trees with his plectrum. To him yields Lucretius’ burning passion, and he who guided the Argonauts through the strait, and he who transfigures first bodies. What greater thing can I say? To him yields the uncouth Muse of wild Ennius, and now the poet sits at the threshold of Vergil’s shrine and displays great skill in the measures of both verse and prose. Yours is a blessed land: witnessing setting Hyperion’s passage into the wavetops, it bore a single Lucan for your forefathers. But it has given us a second, from the stock of lilies in the city of Lucca, illuminated by the brilliance of his poems, his fame, simplicity, affability, good sense, breeding, grace, and elegance.
Another embassy from France
59. Not long thereafter Gaguin, the right eloquent ambassador of his most Christian majesty Charles VIII King of France, together with his most noble colleagues Sieur François of Luxemburg and [ . . . . . . . ] came to our king making an honorable request for a treaty of peace. And after his splendid oration in which, as I have indicated, he prayed for peace and amity, the right reverend Cardinal of Canterbury of pious memory responded most learnedly and prudently to this effect: “His royal highness has always been most desirous of peace, after the example of our Savior, but peace cannot be had unless insult and injury are erased, for wars are customarily waged so that one can live in peace without suffering harm. Wherefore the King of France should first give our king his due, and then ask for peace.” When these matters became protracted, the king referred the matter to the privy council. At length they voted that, if the French did not pay their tribute, preparations for war should quickly be made against them. I pass by other decisions they made in council, which elude me. So the Frenchmen, returning to their king with such a response, were sent back to us, bringing I know not what arguments, which were not to our king’s liking. And so the aforesaid Gaguin fell into a fury and rashly spewed forth his verses against our king, which began as follows:
So are we to test the English with such frequent meetings &c.
For (as I should have said in advance) they first met with our representatives concerning peace. Dominus Giovanni Gigli of fair memory, a man with deep experience in matters both divine and human, caviled against the said ambassador and made reply in the king’s name. Because of the splendid lavish banquet, replete with all manner of dishes, with which the king had most kindly received them, in his poem (which does not come to mind now) Gaguin called the king a shepherd. Then Gigli wittily retorted “if you call me a shepherd, that makes you a sheep” and much else besides. Then Dominus Pietro Carmeliano of Breschia, a most notable orator and poet and the king’s very well-deserving secretary, in his most witty poem (because of his absence I could not get a copy while writing these words) got a wonderful laugh with his bilious attack on the other fellow. I keep silent about the very mordant epigram against the same man by Cornelio Vitelli, which began:
Is this how you attack purple-clad kings in verse? Is this how you perform your ambassadorial duties and then depart?
60. And I too, being one of the poetical crew, raged against him, not with a few verses, like the others, but with about a hundred, since nothing is bolder than a bad poet. First were about fifty hexameters, which began:
Come now, Father Phoebus, you move your Delian caves.
Then came elegiacs, “Of aged Nestor” and so forth. Likewise others beginning “A ship to Oenopia,” &c. Likewise some hendecasyllables, “Since you sustain so many,” of which I quote the ending here because I can remember them (or out of boastfulness):
The soldier rejoices in horses, the farmer in lands, the hunter in gods, the poet in his Muses: thus each man is scorched by his own delight.
Having thus been hissed and jeered off the stage by many witticisms of this sort, he furiously made his departure. Meanwhile the king commanded those things which seemed necessary for war to be hastened along, so that he could take an expedition over to France before the stormy season. For winter was approaching.
On the embassy of the Emperor Maximilian
61. While these dispositions were being made around England, a great embassy, with great and excellent gentlemen, came to England from the Emperor Maximilian. I pass over the reasons for such an important embassy, since it is none of my affair to speak of royal personages, especially when they are not relevant. I would venture to say this one thing, that the said Emperor had been causing our king very great difficulties, which I shall mention at a more suitable place. So when they had set forth their respective views, the ambassadors went home. And behold, another embassy came from the noble Archduke Philip of Flanders, fitted out with proud lords, and in particular [ . . . . . . . ]. Since they came for the sake of peace and amity, the king gave them all, together with their train, a most warm reception. Afterwards he sent them away laden down with very ample gifts.
62. At this point it occurs to me to mention the very notable births of the right serene Lady Margaret, the firstborn daughter of our king, and of the most excellent Henry Duke of York, the second son of the said king, who were born before the aforesaid events transpired. But, when these things have been finished up neatly, another time will be fitter for writing of these events. Let us pursue what we have commenced.
On the king’s crossing to France
63. When all was in readiness for the expedition and the most prudent king had taken all provisions for his realm, he entrusted all things to God’s government and arranged for his army to be transported over to France, as he had previously planned.
On the terror of the French
64. Hearing of our most victorious king’s unanticipated arrival, the French quaked with sudden terror and took up arms. Part hastened towards Boulogne, and part asked the Lord Cordes that he would exercise his prudence in offering resistance to such great dangers. Furthermore, they remembered their losses in earlier warfare. He, being a man given to delay, first consulted his king’s wishes, and then tried to buck up their courage. Meanwhile our king, having taken good precautions for his right noble queen and right illustrious children, found a prosperous wind and entrusted himself to the sea. But before leaving the English shore, he addressed his lords to the following effect:
The king’s speech
65. “To speak with you first on sacred matters, my noble lords, I am conscious that fortitude is not bestowed by the size of one’s army, but by heaven. Therefore do not be over-confident in your strength, but rather place your hope in God. In accordance with your counsel, I am undertaking a great and arduous war, but I do not only place my confidence in the courage of our men, nor in the multitude of our arms, horses, wealth, and other resources, but rather I have also placed all my hope in God’s mercy, piety, and protection. And, albeit I am to no small degree troubled by my concern for my consort and my children, still so young, and also by the difficulty of oncoming winter, nevertheless at this time I have preferred to oblige your wishes rather than my own, so that my love for you might urge you to accomplish this thing well, my good-will might encourage you, my affection might stimulate you, my kindness might exhort you. But since this occasion permits no further words, I shall end my address.”
66. Then, bidding adieu to his people, he departed on his royal business, and so, having issued all the commands he wished, after a happy crossing he came to Calais. And, if I may pass over all he did there, he besieged the very stoutly town of Boulogne on its landward side, and began a strong assault with his artillery. They for their part offered resistance and protected themselves within their walls. They did not dare come out into open ground, but defended themselves with guns on their walls. Meanwhile the French held a council and at their king’s bidding sent the Lord Cordes as an ambassador to our king. After conveying his sovereign’s greetings, he first tested the king with large promises, and then humbly begged him to desist from this undertaking. The king, being peaceful by nature and not disposed to the shedding of human blood, referred the matter to his council. Meanwhile he entrusted the entire business to the governor of Calais, Giles Daubigny, now the Lord High Chamberlain, a very prudent and loyal gentleman. In the end, thanks to God’s help, a means of obtaining peace was discovered, thanks to our most kindly sovereign of Richmond. Wherefore, pledges being exchanged and solemnly committed to writing, our king demanded his ancient right and tribute, such as his dynastic predecessors had enjoyed, and when this was most graciously conceded by the King of France, and many other things outside my knowledge were added, so that here too a space has been left so that the other facts omitted by me in my ignorance may be added, after the prince has commanded that my weak endeavors be brought to perfection. [ . . . . . . . ]
On our king’s return
67. After a peace-treaty had been confirmed to our right clement king’s satisfaction, although the winter had commenced he hastened to return home. At the time, he had received a large number of letters from our most modest queen, filled with all kinds of sweetness and affection, which went to far towards enticing our king’s kindly disposition and gentle mind to make his return. And so, with all things happily completed both at Calais and Guines, having obtained fair weather and with a south wind sweetly blowing, the king and his entire army came back safely and landed in Kent. There he prayed at the tomb of Thomas of Canterbury and afterwards entered London, with its people rejoicing on all sides. I gleefully wrote the few lines that follow to celebrate his most felicitous return:
A CONGRATULATION ON THE KING’S RETURN FROM FRANCE
To his Muse
Go singing to the belaurelled trophy without me, oh happy and blessed Clio, you who witness such great triumphs and behold our venerable senate come a-flocking to such a great prince and cheering him. Lofty Jupiter has been unable to grant the British anything greater, nor has our prince been able to make any greater offering at the shrines of the saints than his holy accomplishments of peace. At this the heavens rejoice, as does the people, and behold how the whole world venerates this. Go now, to wreathe the bright home of our kind king with the laurel of peace and quiet, may God’s love of peace speed you.
See how the fostering Pallantias beautifully returns on her rosy car from the shore of the Morini, bringing the day. Hey, mother of Memnon, do I see the palace so filled with roses, its doors adorned with purple? Why do the lesser fires not flee, Matuta? Why are you slow to yoke your horses, Phosphorus? Is it because you want to see the magnificent processions, you pious gods, and the noble trophies of our indomitable commander? Do not yoke the swift, fire-breathing horses of the sun. Behold, the Horae are already prepared, there is no need for you. For, should Apollo once more tend to the cattle of Admetus, trust me, the jovial countenance of our sovereign would provide light in abundance. Phoebus, you may depart.
Now, famous city, with your locks bound with laurel, you happily behold your great-minded king returned from Northern climes, escorted by his entire band, and with the Thunderer now answering his prayers. So come, put on a joyous face and celebrate this solemn day, setting down your battle-standards, just as on the day when, ruler of the gods, Germanicus offered up to you a crown of laurel for his victory over the Sarmatian nation, and Rome came out in a long procession and happily discharged its vows by offering up garlanded cattle. Such you should be, you right noble land, at the arrival of your commander, when he brings with him the gifts of holy peace. Freely give incense, offer up tuneful hymns, give him his due praises with pious song, noble nation. The name of peace possesses greater glory than that of war. For how much the fostering gift of peace confers on mortals is shown by all those cruel wars which have ruined the human race with their perils. For many years, Mars, this has been your province, for savage Scorpio has infected you, savage with its fiery menace, and, fearsome with its hooked tail, has tainted humanity. But you must set this aside. Jove’s star grew feeble, and the handsome child of Atlas stopped his swift motions. Then Mother Venus grew pale and you alone governed the sky, stern Mars. Sword-bearing Orion, your comrade-in-arms, shone bright and governed the vast heaven. But Your love of peace, eternal God, looked down from on high on the lands, stricken by such a great storm, and bridled war’s horrible mouth with a hundred chains, closing the belligerent gate of eternal Janus.
But now the procession comes. Clap for the commander of peace. The time for peace is at hand, we venerate peace with a cheer. Now the pious prelate, conspicuous in his Tyrian scarlet, performs the rites for the gods. Let him today burn his pious incense in fragrant chapels, let him be accompanied by a choir singing hymns of praises, skilled in Apollo’s art of modulating its voices with numbers. And you, heaven-descended queen, who together with your children, shine forth among the nymphs who surround you like roses shine among lilies, give your votive offering to the saints of heaven, offerings worthy of such a great husband. You happily see the triumphant procession pass by, casting its brightness on the land. Let the commons freely offer its prayers, let the court sing the victory hymn, saying over and over Io triumphe, father, Io. Come now and let the gates be decked with fitting laurel, let the laurel of peace garland the commander’s own brow. And since the gods on high will give you perpetual triumphs, so as to publish your deeds throughout the worls, noble deeds consecrated to the Leucadian god, the Muses have bidden them be celebrated in my verses, as the praises of Caesar Augustus once were. And as the the laurel always grows green and never is ravaged by the gale of the winds, but rather, abiding with its enduring leaves, never fails and dies, so, most invincible of kings, now mighty by sea and by land, while the glittering stars shine in heaven, reflecting the rays of Phoebus, your evergreen fame will be hymned forever.
And so today let the land of Britain rejoice far and wide, singing of these noble triumphs, and may it strive to return great thanks to Christ.
And, Mars, inasmuch as your vain tumults have now failed thanks to the care of our sovereign, store away your arrows, you furious god.
Life, brave king, pious and mild. Live, for God always has shown His approval to peace and quiet, and bids live in peaceful quietude.
68. Oh Mars, would that you had never prepared civil wars for the English, but had defended her people, otherwise victorious for many centuries gone by, and especially under this most wise King Henry VII, than whom no other king has been more excellent nor will be, even if the age of King Saturn should return, who (if the report is true) was the first to introduce the Golden Age into the world! But, as mythology has it, Jupiter deposed him. But our king, whose name is Rich Mountain, being happier and sager than Saturn, will prolong the time of his government forever, such is the decree of heaven. And although unhappy envy has often attempted to baffle his successes, nevertheless whatever men undertake against God is fruitless. And yet this God, Whose secrets are unfathomable by human reason, sometimes allows the wickedness of men to rage against the good and the just, so that the virtue that dwells among them may be tested, like gold in a furnace. We read that the same befell Hercules, who, having overcome so many monsters with his deadly effort, at length discovered on his final day that envy was reborn. What about Remus and Romulus? What about Alexander and Pompey, both called The Great? Did not biting malice cruelly afflict them all? Indeed, I see no living Christian king whose good things have not been troubled by morbid envy, but particularly those who appear to surpass the rest in some excellence of virtue or honor, of whom (if I may say so without giving offence) this Henry of ours is easily the foremost. But, lest I appear to be flattering or fawning by praising him so often, let us continue with our subject.
69. But, as the proverb has it, envy never rests. This can be seen clearer than daylight in what I am about to relate. For (if I may call her thus without giving offence to our royal family) Margaret of Burgundy, this second Juno for our king, not resting content with her earlier hatred, devise a new and unheard-of crime against our king, and tried to impart her inveterate loathing (since womanly wrath is undying) to his subjects. But her poison could move nobody save for empty-headed fools. Among whom was a French secretary of his royal highness named Étienne Frion, who became corrupted by the woman’s venomous prompting and, defecting as a runaway from the king together with some rascals of his ilk, tried to do his worst against him. But his strivings were in vain and he was punished with extreme misery. At that time, a number of the conspirators of his faction were named, whom it would take too long to enumerate here. They feigned that a certain Pierre of Tournai, brought up by a certain Jew named Edward and subsequently sponsored as a godfather by King Edward and reared in this nation, was the younger son of King Edward IV and pretended that he had grown up in various nations, and eventually brought him to King Charles VIII in France by the advice of the said Frion. Or rather, it is said, as a means of frightening off our king they employed large promises to attract him from Ireland. When he saw he was making little progress with the French and Juno was calling him back, he went to Flanders. Afterwards he was borne to Ireland by a fair wind for the purpose of his coronation, and by his shrewd advances suborned a large part of the barbarians of that island. For he described and repeated from his ready memory all the events of Edward IV’s days, and all his favorites and domestics, for he could reel off from memory things in which he had been instructed since boyhood. He added details concerning places, times, and persons, by which he easily convinced the empty brains of those fellows. Cloaked in such misrepresentation, the matter went so far that even prudent men and men of high nobility were induced to believe him.
70. What next? Certain prophecies concerning him were published far and wide by lying pseudo-prophets, which entirely blinded the minds of the common folk. Finally, thanks to the wiles and schemes of his evil advisors, it came to pass that he set sail from Flanders and hastened to England. This occurred at a time when the king was occupied with affairs of state far away from Kent. And so, with everything readied thanks to the expense and outlay of Juno, his armed fleet steered for that country. Its captains, [ . . . . . . . ], men otherwise outstanding in war, entrusted themselves to the sea and to fortune. The Kentishmen, who had previously been subject to chastisement, were fearful and at first doubted, and some of them thought about what had befallen them as a result of their recent conspiracy. For, they say, a little earlier some men pretending to be Christ and His apostles come back to earth had seduced the ignorant peasants, and they had suffered condign punishments for their deeds. For these reasons, after the said fleet had landed they single-mindedly decided to offer resistance to these “royal” forces. But, having formed their plan, they first gave them a friendly reception on the land and promised to fight on their side. But Perkin’s ship, either driven off by the wind, or, as others think, because he had come to suspect trickery, was left far behind. When he heard that the others had been taken prisoner, he saved his skin by taking flight. But the rest, despairing when they discovered they had been baffled, first complained of the locals’ good faith and then set to fighting, but were easily defeated by [ . . . . . . . ].And on a prearranged day they entered London bound by ropes like thieves, save for their wounded, who were carried on carts, to the intense curiosity of one and all. A few days later some were beheaded and others ended their lives on the gallows, to the number of about four hundred. When the king, who, as I have said, was far away from the city on a royal progress through his realm, heard that they had been taken prisoner, being always grateful to God, with a calm voice he spoke words such as these:
The king’s congratulation
71. “I am not unaware, most merciful Jesus, what great victories You have conferred on me on this Saturday, in response to the prayers of Your most pious mother. And I ascribe all of these, not to my own merits, but to the gift of Your heavenly grace. You see, most kind Jesus, how many plots, deceits, and armaments that cruel Juno has readied against me. After our wedding she pretended to rejoice and promised on her good faith to treat us with all favor and good-will. But, being shiftier than the wind, she has perverted everything both divine and human: she does not fear God, but hatefully contrives the destruction of those of her own blood. You, all-knowing God, free us from these evils too, if we deserve such. But if our sins have earned us this, deal with us as best You please. Be this as it may, we owe you undying gratitude, which, even if we cannot adequately express with our tongue, we nevertheless have always kept in mind, and with such a mind that no prosperity or adversity, no event, no alteration of places or times shall ever make us forgetful.” When these things had thus been said by the most modest king, he delivered with his very grave council what should be done for the future. Meanwhile Perkin and his Juno, cheated of their hope, turned their minds in various directions for the fulfillment of their intention. At length, after considering many things, it seemed most advantageous that, although they had a reversal, they should not desist, but rather add evils to evils, and so Juno thus began to speak:
72. “Why, nephew, do the Fates oppose our undertakings so? Why does Henry in his prudence always elude us? Oh the strange power of the Britons against our house! How I like to recall all the wars between them and ourselves of olden times, when they always came off second best. Until the time of Cadwallader, did not the invincible hand of the Saxons subdue all the Britons? Is the British race now destined to subject our posterity to this Henry alone? Indeed, if we do not have a care for ourselves, that man of Trojan blood will make an end to our stock. So we must be clever-minded in searching out what we should do to counter this. Therefore, my darling nephew, you will go and inform the Emperor Maximilian about our adverse fortune, always carefully keeping locked up in your mind and heart what fiction we have created about my brother’s son. You will also mention the misfortune of those captains whom his son the Archduke Philip gave you for your aid, mercilessly butchered by that same Henry. And so, if he is willing to help you, you will show yourself as being in high hopes that we will achieve our wish, and you will show him the letters secretly sent to you from Henry’s Lord Chamberlain and other lords.”
On the conspiracy of Lord William Stanley
73. This context appears to advise me to mention the conspiracy of Lord William Stanley, our right serene king’s Lord Chamberlain at the time. At the same time very learned and religious men were detected to be conspiring with the said chamberlain. Among those who excelled for their fine knowledge of Scripture I mention, first of all, the Provincial of the Dominican Order, next that excellent professor of theology Master Sutton, and furthermore the Dean of St. Paul’s at London <William Worsley> and certain others whose names do not come to mind. These all either sent Perkin money or secretly relayed funds furnished by others. The Chamberlain, the wealthiest of them all, possessed great heaps of money, with which he promised both to protect him and to bring him to the throne. But, since Stanley was born of such high pedigree, one should not blame the noblest of that stock for his guilt. For, as the apostle says, “Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor?” At that time the loyalty, constancy and truth of the other men of that family shone forth as clear as daylight, and their most dutiful loyalty towards our king remains unshaken.
74. But let me return to the man. After his royal majesty had learned about him both from documentary evidence and the testimony of that doughty soldier Sir Robert Clifford (who had also defected from the king and fled to Flanders along with Perkin), first, in accordance with his sage habit, he very prudently investigated into the truth of the allegations, and when he was satisfied that they were true he consigned the chamberlain to be punished in accordance with his laws, and thus Stanley was beheaded. He spared the lives of the churchmen I have named because of their ecclesiastical dignity. And a few days later he convened a meeting of his privy council. At the same time Tournai-born Perkin, who had been brought to Ireland by the help of Maximilian and others, decided to do the same. At that crowded meeting [. . . . . . . ], who guided him, thought it best that he linger in Scotland out of fear of punishment. Therefore he assembled a fleet which arrived at Scotland, and there he received a warm welcome from the King of Scots. In the end that sovereign, misled by his deception, like many other right prudent sovereigns had been before, arranged a marriage for him, since he seemed distrustful of the Scots and had requested this. The hand of Lady Catherine Gordon, well-born of parents of the royal blood and endowed with fine morals, was bestowed on him. And after the wedding-festivities had been completed, he took his children and, relying on Scottish aid, again attempted to attack England. He was borne along its western shore and fetched up in Cornwall. The Cornishmen were deceived by his misrepresentations into believing he was the younger son of Edward IV, and firmly took his side.
On Perkin’s second invasion
75. When our most serene king heard of the villain’s arrival, he smiled and said, “See how it comes to pass that we are attacked once more by that prince of rascals. So come, lest my subjects suffer any catastrophe out of their ignorance, let us try to deal with Perkin by gentle measures.” But the Cornishmen and their butterfly attacked the gates of Exeter with fire and steel, and the Earl of Devonshire offered resistance to the best of his ability. And the king sent forces, not to fight against the clown, but to protect his nation and its people from evils. Since I do not recall the rest of this invasion, here too I shall leave a blank space, until such time as I receive better instruction. [. . . . . . . ]
76. Losing faith in his enterprise, and seeing that he could not resist our king’s power or avoid his clutches, that aforesaid glutton, wholly quaking in his weak and effeminate mind and destitute of strength, addressed his adherents as follows:
77. “You see, my fellow soldiers, that the power of God Almighty is opposed to our ventures. You see that the virtue and grace of King Henry are so supported by God’s will that our strength against him is wholly in vain and reduced to nothing. And furthermore, you see our need and dearth of all things, and, to speak more plainly, our wretchedness. For, to tell you the truth now, although I have putting off giving your pay until today, nothing at all is left me, not a groat, and I don’t know where I might get money or where to turn. Thus I am assaulted by fear and a guilty conscience, so I shall openly place in truth’s light what I have hitherto kept concealed from you. I am assuredly not the son of Edward I told you I was, nor am I worthy of such an ancestry. And whatever evidence I have slyly shown you in the past, I remembered all of that from when I was a little boy in the service of a certain Jew named Edward, who had served the aforesaid son of King Edward, for my patron was a close familiar of King Edward and his children. So forgive me, I beg you, and manfully strive to save your lives. I have no idea where to turn or where to flee. Be that as it may, I have decided to surrender myself to our right gentle king before I be killed.” Having tearfully said these things to his followers out of his base cowardice, the wretch took sanctuary at Beaulieu, and afterwards he begged our most pious king for his life, and out his great mercy the king granted him this.
78. Shivering, he was fetched to court, and, jeered and hissed by the king’s servants, his silly person was subjected to wonderful mockery. Meanwhile, by royal decree his noble wife, who had been left at St. Michael’s Mount, was honorably brought to court, because of her noble birth. It is hard for me to describe the words with which our right modest king first addressed that most unworthy buffoon, because my slender wit fails to understand both what was done at that singular conference, and the prudent reasoning of our most wise king. But this one thing I know, that our right modest king was greatly grieved by the many deaths of illustrious men caused by that pretender. He, seeing that he was secure in his life thanks to the king’s kindness, boldly related the entire story of his life and his impudence, and afterwards the king required him to publish this in writing as a terror to malefactors. Afterwards his wife, possessed of a modest and comely countenance, fine beauty, and youth, was produced in the royal presence with much blushing and tears. And the king spoke to her most kindly:
The king’s speech to her
79. “My noble lady, I grieve and greatly regret that, after the death of so many of my subjects, you were deluded by such a low-down fellow. For the nobility of your blood, the excellence of your manners and all your body, your beauty and dignity, required a far better husband. But since it was God’s will that, thanks to the perfidy and wickedness of that rascal, you were reduced to this miserable condition, you should bear and endure it with a calm mind. Since this time requires no further words, I urge and advise you to endure your downfall with equanimity. Upon my royal faith I vow that, after you have come here by the will of God, I will treat you no differently than if you were my own sister, and that you may henceforth remain here in a more honorable and secure position, for I have decided to send you to my wellbeloved right serene royal consort with honor and goodly companions. But I shall continue to keep your husband with me, for there are certain things I need to learn from him.” When he had said these words, the king bid her stand, for she had continually been on the ground on her knees, weeping a fountain of tears, and instructed her to advise her husband of what he had said He, hesitating partly out of fear and partly out of bashfulness, ultimately confessed he was not man he had claimed to be and begged her pardon, saying he had been ill-advised, and regretted having abducted her. He begged the king to send her back to her kinsmen. And after he had said all this, she wailed and, with groans, broke forth in these words:
His wife’s response
80. “After being willing to seduce me with your false tales, oh most deceitful of men, why did you abducted me from my ancestral home, my house, my parents and friends, and place me in hostile hands? Oh wretched me! What grief, what cares will today give my noble parents! Oh would that you had never come to our shores! Poor me! What more my ruined chastity can give me other than death I do not see. Woe’s me! Why do my parents give me some man to punish you? You worst of criminals, is this the scepter you promised me? You most depraved of men, is this the royal honor you boasted we would receive? As for me, being here, a needy, helpless stranger, for what am I to hope? In whom can I place my trust? What will relieve my sorrow? There seems to be nothing other than the fact that the most puissant, most clement king has promised he will not abandon me. In his royal promise I have placed all my trust, my hope, my security. I would say more, but the power of my grief and tears stays my words.” After this the most wise king dealt with them both, with him in respect to his guilt, with her for her consolation, and, acting in accordance with his words, out of his singular prudence he sent her to the queen, as he had decided. After making a slight delay, she abandoned her husband with some reluctance, because of her conjugal faith in Christ, under the escort of [. . . . . . . ], gentlemen notable for their faith and uprightness. At that time the queen was at Richmond, remaining there most reluctantly because she was desirous to hear of the royal successes. These things were done [. . . . . . . ], at which time the king was at Exeter sitting in judgment on the conspirators, all of whom he had commanded to be brought to them, and from his high place he addressed them thus:
The king’s speech to the Cornishmen
81. “We take it hard, gentlemen of Cornwall, that you have injured us out of your wrongdoing and wickedness, and, as God as our witness, it is against our will that we have come here for your punishment. But inasmuch as we are obliged to obey our laws, for the terror of bad men and to set an example for good ones, it is just for us to mete out due punishments fit for your deserts, since you have had minds so easily turned to evil, and, without any fear for God or ourselves, have taken up arms in aid of a most empty-headed man and did not desist at our command. Nevertheless, we spare the lives of the rest of you, who went astray partly out of error, partly out of your promptings against us.” After the king had said these brief words, nearly all of those who stood around [. . . . . . . ] were granted their lives, and, standing in their bonds, groaned and raised a shout, giving the king their great thanks.