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TO THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AND MOST EXCELLENT PRINCE CHARLES,
PRINCE OF WALES, DUKE OF CORNWALL, EARL OF CHESTER, &c.
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR HIGHNESS,
In part of my acknowledgement to your Highness, I have endeavoured to do honour to the memory of the last King of England that was ancestor to the King your father and yourself; and was that King of whom both Unions may in a sort refer; that of the Roses being in him consummate, and that of the Kingdoms by him begun. Besides, his times deserve it. For he was a wise man, and an excellent King; and yet the times were rough, and full of mutations and rare accidents. And it is with times as it is with ways. Some are more up-hill and down-hill, and some are more flat and plain; and the one is better for the liver, and the other for the writer. I have not flattered him, but took him to life as well as I could, sitting so far off, and having no better light. It is true, your Highness hath a living pattern, incomparable, of the King your father. But it is not amiss for you also to see one of these ancient pieces. God preserve your Highness.
Your Highness’s most humble
and devoted servant,
FRANCIS ST. ALBAN
FTER that Richard, the third of that name, king in fact only, but tyrant both in title and regiment, and so commonly termed and reputed in all times since, was by the Divine Revenge, favouring the design of an exiled man, overthrown and slain at Bosworth Field; there succeeded in the kingdom the Earl of Richmond, thenceforth styled Henry the Seventh. The King immediately after the victory, as one that had been bred under a devout mother, and was in his nature a great observer of religious forms, caused Te deum laudamus to be solemnly sung in the presence of the whole army upon the place, and was himself with general applause and great cries of joy, in a kind of militar election or recognition, saluted King. Meanwhile the body of Richard after many indignities and reproaches (the dirigies and obsequies of the common people towards tyrants) was obscurely buried. For though the King of his nobleness gave charge unto the friars of Leicester to see an honourable interment to be given to it, yet the religious people themselves (being not free from the humours of the vulgar) neglected it; wherein nevertheless they did not then incur any man’s blame or censure, no man thinking any ignominy or contumely unworthy of him, that had been the executioner of King Henry the Sixth (that innocent Prince) with is own hands; the contriver of the death of the Duke of Clarence, his brother; the murderer of his two nephews (one of them his lawful King in the present, and the other in the future, failing of him); and vehemently suspected to have been the impoisoner of his wife, thereby to make vacant his bed for a marriage within the degrees forbidden. And although he were a Prince in militar virtue approved, jealous of the honour of the English nation, and likewise a good law-maker for the ease and solace of the common people; yet his cruelties and parricides in the opinion of all men weightd down his virtues and merits; and in the opinion of wise men, even those virtues themselves were conceived to be rather feigned and affected things to serve his ambition, than true qualities ingenerate in his judgment or nature. And therefore it was noted by men of great understanding (who seeing his after-acts looked back upon his former proceedings) that even in the time of King Edward his brother he was no without secret trains and mines to turn envy and hatred upon his brother’s government; as having an expectation and a kind of divination, that the King, by reason of his many disorders, could not be of long life, but was like to leave his sons of tender years; and then he knew well how easy a step it was from the place of a Protector and first Prince of the blood to the Crown. And that out of this deep root of ambition it sprang, that as well at the treaty of peace that passed between Edward the Fourth and Lewis the Eleventh of France, concluded by interview of both Kings at Piqueny, as upon all other occasions, Richard, then Duke of Gloucester, stood every upon the side of honour, raising his own reputation to the disadvantage of the King his brother, and drawing the eyes of all (especially of the nobles and soldiers) upon himself; as if the King by his voluptuous life and mean marriage were become effeminate, and less sensible of honour and reason of state than was fit for a King. And as for the politic and whilesome laws which were enacted in his time, they were interpreted to be but the brocage of an usurper, thereby to woo and win the hearts of the people, as being conscious to himself that the true obligations of sovereignty in him failed and were wanting. But King Henry, in the very entrance of his reign and the instant of time when the kingdom was cast into his arms, met with a point of great difficulty and knotty to solve, able to trouible and confound the wisest King in the newness of his estate; and so much the more, because it could not endure a deliberation, but must be at once deliberated and determined. There were fallen to his lot, and concurrent in his person, three several titles to the imperial crown. The first, the title of the Lady Elizabeth, with whom, by precedent pact with the party that brought him in, he was to marry. The second, the ancient and long disputed title (both by plea and arms) of the house of Lancaster, to which he was inheritor in his own person. The third, the title of the sword or conquest, for that he came in by victory of battle, and that the king in possession was slain in the field. The first of these was fairest, and most like to give contentment to the people, who by two-and-twenty years reign of King Edward the Fourth had been fully made capable of the clearness of the title of the White Rose or house of York; and by the mild and plausible reign of the same King towards his latter time, were become affectionate to that line. But then it lay plain before his eyes, that if he relied upon that title, he could be but a King at courtesy, and have rather a matrimonial than a regal power; the right remaining in his Queen, upon whose decesase, either with issue or without issue, he was to give place and be removed. And though he should obtain by Parliament to be continued, yet he knew there was a very great difference between a King that holdeth his crown by a civil act of estates, and one that holdeth it originally by the law of nature and descent of blood. Neither wanted there even at that time secret rumours and whisperings (which afterwards gathered strength and turned to great troubles) that the two young sons of King Edward the Fourth, or one of them, (which were said to be destroyed in the Tower) were not indeed murdered but conveyed secretly away, and were yet living; which, if it had been true, had prevented the title of the Lady Elizabeth. On the other side, if he stood upon his own title of the house of Lancaster, inherent in his person, he knew it was a title condemned by Parliament, and generally prejudged in the common opinion of the realm, and that it tended directly to the the disinherison of the line of York, held then the indubiate heirs of the crown. So that if he should have no issue by the Lady Elizabeth, which should be descendants of the double line, then the ancient flames of discord and intestine wars, upon the the competition of both houses, would again return and revive.
As for conquest, notwithstanding Sir William Stanley, after some acclamations of the soldiers in the field, had put a crown of ornament (which Richard wore in the battle and was found amongst the spoils) upon King Henry’s head, as if there were his chief title; yet he remembered well upon what conditions and agreements he was brought in; and that to claim as conqueror was to put as well his own party as the rest into terror and fear; as that which gave him power of disanulling of laws, and disposing of men’s fortunes and estates, and the like points of absolute power, being in themselves so harsh and odious, as that William himself, commonly called the Conqueror, howsoever he used and exercised the power of a conqueror to reward his Normans, yet he forbare to use that claim in the beginning, but mixed it with a titulary pretence, grounded upon the will and designation of Edward the Confessor. [2.] But the King, out of the greatness of his own mind, presently cast the die; and the inconveniences appearing unto him on all parts, and knowing there could not be any interreign or suspension of title, and preferring his affection to his own line and blood, and liking that title best which made him independent, and being in his nature and constitution of mind not very apprehensive of forecasting of future events afar off, but an entertainer of fortune by the day, resolved to rest upon the title of Lancaster as the main, and to the use the other two, that of marriage and that of battle, but as supporters, the one to appease secret discontents, and the other to beat down open murmur and dispute; not forgetting that the same title of Lancaster had formerly maintained a possession of three descents in the crown; and might have proved a perpetuity, had it not ended in the weakness and inability of the last prince. Whereupon the King presently that very day, being the two and twentieth of August, assumed the style of King in his own name, without mention of the Lady Elizabeth at all, or any relation thereunto. In which course he ever after persisted: which did spin him a thread of many seditions and troubles. [3.] The King, full of these throughts, before his departure from Leicester, despatched Sir Robert Willoughby to the castle of Sheriff-Hutton, in Yorkshire, where were kept in safe custody, by King Richard’s commandment, both the Lady Elizabeth, daughter of King Edward, and Edward Plantagenet, son and heir to George Duke of Clarence. This Edward was by the King’s warrant delivered from the constable of the castle to the hand of Sir Robert Willoughby; and by him with all safety and diligence conveyed to the Tower of London, where he was shut up close prisoner. Which act of the King’s (being an act merely of policy and power) proceeded not so much from any apprehension he had of Dr. Shaw’s tale at Paul’s Cross for the bastarding of Edward the Fourth’s issues, in which case this young gentleman was to succeed (for that fable was ever exploded,) but upon a settled disposition to depress all eminent persons of the line of York. Wherein still the King, out of strength of will or weakness of judgment, did use to shew a little more of the party than of the king.
4. For the Lady Elizabeth, she received also a direction to repair with all convenient speed to London, and there to remain with the Queen dowager her mother; which accordingly she soon after did, accompanied with many noblemen and ladies of honour. In the mean season the King set forwards by easy journeys to the City of London, receiving the acclamations and applauses of the people as he went, which indeed were true and unfeigned, as might well appear in the very demonstrations and fulness of the cry. For they thought generally that he was a Prince as ordained and sent down from heaven to unite and put to an end the long dissensions of the two houses; which although they had had, in the times of Henry the Fourth, Henry the Fifth, and a part of Henry the Sixth on the one side, and the times of Edward the Fourth on the other, lucid intervals and happy pauses; yet they did ever hang over the kingdom, ready to break forth into new perturbations and calamaties. And as his victory gave him the knee, so his purpose of marriage with the Lady Elizabeth gave him the heart; so that both knee and heart did truly bow before him.
5. He on the other side with great wisdom (not ignorant of the affections and fears of the people), to disperse the conceit and terror of a conquest, had given order that there should be nothing in his journey like unto a warlike march or manner; but rather like unto the progress of a King in full peace and assurance.
6. He entered the City upon a Saturday, as he had also obtained the victory upon a Saturday: which day of the week, first upon an observation, and after upon memory and fancy, he accounted and chose as a day prosperous unto him.
7. The mayor and companies of the City received him at Shoreditch; whence with great and honourable attendance, and troop of noblemen and persons of quality, he entered the City; himself not being on horseback, or in any open chair or throne, but in a close chariot; as one that having been sometimes an enemy to the whole state, and a proscribed person, chose rather to keep state and strike a reverence into the people than to fawn upon them.
8. He went first into St. Paul’s Church, where not meaning that the people should forget too soon that he came in by battle, he made offertory of his standards, and had orizons and Te Deum again sung; and went to his lodging prepared in the Bishop of London’s palace, where he stayed for a time.
9. During his abode there, he assembled his counsel and other principal persons, in presence of whom he did renew again his promise to marry with the Lady Elizabeth. This he did the rather, because having at his coming out of Brittaine given artificially for serving of his own turn some hopes, in case he obtained the kingdom, to marry Anne, inheritress to the duchy of Brittaine, whom Charles the Eighth of France soon after married, it bred some doubt and suspicion amongst divers that he was not sincere, or at least not fixed, in going on with the match of England so much desired: which conceit also, though it were but talk and discourse, did much afflict the poor Lady Elizabeth herself. But howsoever he both truly intended it, and desired also it should be so believed (the better to extinguish envy [in this work, always = unpopularity] and contradiction to his other purposes), yet was he resolved in himself not to proceed to the consummation thereof, till his coronation and a Parliament were past. The one, lest a joint coronation of himself and his Queen might give any countenance of participation of the title; the other, lest in the entailing of the crown to himself, which he hoped to obtain by Parliament, the votes of the Parliament might any ways reflect upon her.
10. About this time in autumn, towards the end of September, there began and reigned in the city and other parts of the kingdom a disease then new: which by the accidents and manner thereof they called the sweating-sickness. This disease had a swift course, both in the sick body and in the time and period of the lasting thereof. For they that were taken with it, upon four-and-twenty hours, escaping were thought almost assured. And as to the time of the malice and reign of the disease ere it ceased, it began about the one and twentieth of September, and cleared up before the end of October; insomuch as it was no hinderance to the King’s coronation, which was the last of October; nor (which was more) to the holding of the Parliament, which began but seven days after. It was a pestilent fever, but as it seemeth not seated in the veins or humours; for that there followed no carbuncle, no purple or livid spots, or the like, the mass of the body being not tainted; only a malign vapour flew to the heart, and seized the vital spirits; which stirred nature to strive to send it forth by an extreme sweat. And it appeared by experience that this disease was rather a surprise of nature, than obstinate to remedies, if it were in time looked unto. For if the patient were kept in an equal temper, both for clothes, fire, and drink moderately warm, with temperate cordials, whereby nature’s work were neither irritated by heat nor turned back by cold, he commonly recovered. But infinite persons died suddenly of it, before the manner of the cure and attendance was known. It was conceived not to be an epidemic disease, but to proceed from a malignity in the constitution of the air, gathered by the predispositions of seasons; and the speedy cessation declared as much.
On Simon and Jude’s Even the King dined with Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal: and from Lambeth went by land over the bridge to the Tower, where the morrow after he made twelve knights-bannerets. But for creations, he dispensed them with a sparing hand. For notwithstanding a field so lately fought and a coronation so near at hand, he only created three: Jasper Earl of Pembroke (the King’s uncle) was created Duke of Bedford; Thomas the Lord Stanley (the King’s father-in-law) Earl of Derby; and Edward Courtney Earl of Devon; though the king had then nevertheless a purpose in himself to make more in time of Parliament; bearing a wise and decent respect to distribute his creations, some to honour his coronation, and some his Parliament.
12. The coronation followed two days after, upon the thirtieth day of October in the year of our Lord 1485. At which time Innocent the Eighth was Pope of Rome; Frederick the Third Emperor of Almain [Germany]; and Maximilian his son newly chosen King of the Romans; Charles the Eighth King of France; Ferdinando and Isabella Kings of Spain; and James the Third King of Scotland: with all of which kings and states the King was at that time in good peace and amity. At which day also (as if the crown upon his head had put perils into his thoughts) he did institute for the better security of his person a band of fifty archers under a captain to attend him, by the name of Yeomen-of-his-Guard: and yet that it might be thought to be rather a matter of dignity, after the imitation of that he had known abroad, than any matter of diffidence appropriate to his own case, he made it to be understood for an ordinance not temporary, but to hold in succession for ever after.
13. The seventh of November the King held his Parliament at Westminster, which he had summoned immediately after his coming to London. His ends in calling a Parliament (and that so speedily) were chiefly three. First, to procure the crown to be entailed upon himself. Next to have the attainders of all his party (which were in no small number) reversed, and all acts of hostility by them done in his quarrel remitted and discharged; and on the other side, to attaint by Parliament the heads and principals of his enemies. The third, to calm and quiet the fears of the rest of that party by a general pardon; not being ignorant in how great danger a King stands from his subjects, when most of his subjects are conscious in themselves that they stand in his danger. Unto these three special motives of a Parliament was added, that he as a prudent and moderate prince made this judgment, that it was fit for him to haste to let his people see that he meant to govern by law, howsoever he came in by the sword; and fit also to reclaim them to know him for their King, whom they had so lately talked of as an enemy or banished man. For that which concerned the entailing of the crown (more than that he was true to his own will, that he would not endure any mention of the Lady Elizabeth, no not in the nature of special entail), he carried it otherwise with great wisdom and measure. For he did not press to have the act penned by way of declaration or recognition of right; as on the other side he avoided to have it by new law or ordinance; but chose rather a kind of middle way, by way of establishment, and that under covert and indifferent words; that the inheritance of the crown should rest, remain, and abide in the King, etc.: which words might equally be applied, that the crown should continue to him; but whether as having former right to it (which was doubtful), or having it then in fact and possession (which no man denied), was left fair to interpretation either way. And again for the limitation of the entail, he did not press it to go farther than to himself and to the heirs of his body, not speaking of his right heirs; but leaving that to the law to decide; so as the entail might seem rather a personal favour to him and his children, than a total disinherison to the house of York. And in this form was the law drawn and passed. Which statute he procured to be confirmed by the Pope’s Bull the year following, with mention nevertheless (by way of recital) of his other titles both of descent and conquest. So as now the wreath of three was made a wreath of five. For to the three first titles, of the two houses or lines and conquest, were added two more; the authorities Parliamentary and Papal.
14. The King likewise in the reversal of the attainders of his partakers, and discharging them of all offences incident to his service and succour, had his will; and acts did pass accordingly. In the passage whereof, exception was taken to divers persons in the House of Commons, for that they were attained, and thereby not legal, nor habilitate to serve in Parliament, being disabled in the highest degree; and that it should be a great incongruity to have them to make laws who themselves were not inlawed. The truth was, that divers of those which had in the time of King Richard been strongest and most declared for the King’s party, were returned Knights and Burgesses of the Parliament; whether by care or recommendation from the state, or the voluntary inclination of the people; many of which had been by Richard the Third attainted by outlawries, or otherwise. The King was somewhat troubled with this. For though it had a grave and specious show, yet it reflected upon his party. But wisely not shewing himself at all moved therewith, he would not understand it but as a case in law, and wished the judges to be advised thereupon, who for that purpose were forthwith assembled in the Exchequer-chamber (which is the counsel-chamber of the judges), and upon deliberation they gave a grave and safe opinion and advice, mixed with law and convenience; which was, that the knights and burgesses attainted by the course of law should forbear to come into the house till a law were passed for the reversal of their attainders
15. It was at that time incidentally moved amongst the judges in their consultation, what should be done for the King himself who likewise was attainted: but it was with unanimous consent resolved, that the crown takes away all defects and stops in blood: and that from the time the King did assume the crown, the fountain was cleared, and all attainders and corruption of blood discharged. But nevertheless, for honour’s sake, it was ordained by Parliament, that all records wherein there was any memory or mention of the King’s attainder should be defaced, cancelled, and taken off the file.
16. But on the part of the King’s enemies there were by parliament attainted, the late Duke of Gloucester, calling himself Richard the Third, the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Surrey, Viscount Lovell, the Lord Ferrers, the Lord Zouch, Richard Ratcliffe, William Catesby, and many others of degree and quality. In which bills of attainders nevertheless there were contained many just and temperate clauses, savings, and provisoes; well shewing and fore-tokening the wisdom, stay, and moderation of the King’s spirit of government. And for the pardon of the rest that had stood against the King, the King upon a second advice thought it not fit it should pass by Parliament, the better (being matter of grace), to impropriate the thanks to himself: using only the opportunity of a Parliament time, the better to disperse it into the veins of the kingdom. Therefore during the Parliament he published his royal proclamation, offering pardon and grace of restitution to all such as taken arms or been participant of any attempts against him, so as they submitted themselves to his mercy by a day, and took the oath of allegiance and fidelity to him, whereupon many came out of sanctuary, and many more came out of fear, no less guilty than those that had taken sanctuary.
17. As for money or treasure, the King thought it not seasonable or fit to demand any of his subjects at this Parliament; both because he had received satisfaction from them in matters of so great importance, and because he could not remunerate them with any general pardon (being prevented therein by the coronation pardon passed immediately before); but chiefly, for that it was in every man’s eye what great forfeitures and confiscations he had at that present to help himself; whereby those casualites of the crown might in reason spare the purses of the subject; specially in a time when he was in peace with all his neighbours. Some few laws passed at that Parliament, almost for form sake: amongst which there was one, to reduce aliens being made denizens to pay strangers’ customs; and another, to draw to himself the seizures and compositions of Italians’ goods, for not employment; being points of profit to his coffers, whereof from the very beginning he was not forgetful; and had been more happy at the latter end, if his early providence, which kept him from all necessity of exacting upon his people, could likewise have attempered his nature therein. He added during parliament to his former creations the ennoblement or advancement in nobility of a few others. The Lord Chandos of Brittaine was made Earl of Bath; Sir Giles Dawbigny was made Lord Dawbigny; and Sir Robert Willoughby Lord Brooke.
18. The King did also with great nobleness and bounty (which virtues at that time had their turns in his nature) restore Edward Stafford eldest son to Henry Duke of Buckingham, attained in the time of King Richard, not only to his dignities, but to his fortunes and possessions, which were great; to which he was moved also by a kind of gratitude, for that the Duke was the man that moved the first stone against the tyranny of King Richard, and indeed made the King a bridge to the crown upon his own ruins. Thus the Parliament brake up.
19. The Parliament being dissolved, the King sent forthwith money to redeem the Marquis Dorset and Sir John Bourchier, whom he had left as his pledges at Paris for money which he had borrowed when he made his expedition for England; and thereupon he took a fit occasion to send the Lord Treasurer and Mr. Bray (whom he used as counsellor) to the Lord Mayor of London, requiring of the City a prest of six thousand marks. But after many parleys he could obtian but two thousand pounds; which nevertheless the King took in good part, as men use to do that practise to borrow money when they have no need.
About this time the King called unto his Privy Counsel John Morton and Richard Foxe, the one Bishop of Ely, the other Bishop of Exeter; vigilant men and secret, and such as kept watch with him almost upon all men else. They had been both versed in his affairs before he came to the crown, and were partakers of his adverse fortune. This Morton soon after, upon the death of Bourchier, he made Archbishop of Canterbury. And for Foxe, he made him Lord Keeper of his Privy Seal; and afterwards advanced him by degrees, from Exeter to Bath and Wells, thence to Durham, and last to Winchester. For although the King loved to employ and advance bishops, because having rich bishoprics they carried their reward upon themselves; yet he did use to raise they by steps; that he might not lose the profit of the first fruits, which by that course of gradation was multiplied.
20. At last upon the eighteenth of January was solemnised the so long expected and so much desired marriage between the King and the Lady Elizabeth; which day of marriage was celebrated with greater triumph and demonstrations (especially on the people’s part) of joy and gladness, than the days either of his entry or coronation; which the King rather noted than liked. And it is true that all his life-time, while the Lady Elizabeth lived with him (for she died before him), he shewed himself no very indulgent husband towards her though she was beautiful gentle and fruitful. But his aversion toward the house of York was so predominant in him, as it found place not only in his wars and counsels, but in his chamber and bed.
21. Towards the middle of the spring, the King, full of confidence and assurance, as a prince that had been victorious in battle, and had prevailed with his Parliament in all that he desired, and had the ring of acclamations fresh in his ears, thought the rest of his reign should be but play, and the enjoying of a kingdom. Yet as a wise and watchful King, he would not neglect anything for his safety, thinking nevertheless to perform all things now rather as an exercise than as a labour. So he being truly informed that the northern parts were not only affectionate to the house of York, but particularly had been devoted to King Richard the Third, thought it would be a summer well spent to visit those parts, and by his presence and application of himself to reclaim and rectify those humours. But the King, in his account of peace and calms, did much over-cast his fortunes: which proved for many years together full of broken seas, tides, and tempests. For he was no sooner come to Lincoln, where he kept his Easter, but he received news that the Lord Lovell, Humphrey Stafford, and Thomas Stafford, who had formerly taken sanctuary at Colchester, were departed out of sanctuary, but to what place no man could tell. Which advertisement the King despised, and continued his journey to York. At York there came fresh and more certain advertisement that the Lord Lovell was at hand with a great power of men, and that the Staffords were in arms in Worcestershire, and had made their approaches to the city of Worcester to assail it. The King, as a prince of great and profound judgment, was not much moved with it; for that he thought it was but a rag of remnant of Bosworth Field, and had nothing in it of the main party of the house of York. But he was more doubtful of the raising of forces to resist the rebels, then of the resistance itself; for that he was in a core of people whose affections he suspected. But the action enduring no delay, he did speedily levy and send agains the Lord Lovell to the number of three thousand men, ill armed but well assured (being taken some few out of his own train, and the rest out of the tenants and followers of such as were safe to be trusted), under the conduct of the Duke of Bedford. And as his manner was to send his pardons rather before the sword than after, he gave commission to the Duke to proclaim pardon to all that would come in: which the Duke, upon his approach to the Lord Lovell’s camp, did perform. And it fell out as the King expected; the heralds were the great ordnance. For the Lord Lovell, upon proclamation of pardon, mistrusting his men, fled into Lancashire, and lurking for a time with Sir Thomas Broughton, after sailed over into Flanders to the Lady Margaret. And his men, forsaken of their captain, did presently submit themselves to the Duke. The Staffords likewise, and their forces, hearing what had happened to the Lord Lovell (in whose success their chief trust was), despaired and dispersed; the two brothers taking sanctuary at Colnham, a village near Abingdon; which place, upon view of their privilege in the King’s bench, being judged no sufficient sanctuary for traitors, Humphrey was executed at Tyburn; and Thomas, as being led by his elder brother, was pardoned. So this rebellion proved but a blast, and the King having by this journey purged a little the dregs and leaven of the northern people, that were before in no good affection towards him, returned to London.
22. In September following, the Queen was delivered of her first son, whom the King (in honour of the British race, of which himelf was) named Arthur, according to the name of that ancient worthy King of the Britons; in whose acts there is truth enough to make him famous, besides that which is fabulous. The child was strong and able, though he was born in the eighth month, which the physicians do prejudge.
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