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T this time the King began again to be haunted with sprites; by the magic and curious arts of the Lady Margaret; who raised up the ghost of Richard Duke of York (second son to King Edward the Fourth) to walk and vex the King. This was a finer counterfeit stone than Lambert Symnell; better done, and worn upon greater hands; being graced after with the wearing of a King of France and a King of Scotland, not of a Duchess of Burgundy only. And for Symnell, there was not much in him, more than that he was a handsome boy, and did not shame his robes. But this youth (of whom we are now to speak) was such a mercurial, as the like hath seldom been known; and could make his own part, if any time he chanced to be out. Wherefore this being one of the strangest examples ofa personation, that ever was in elder or later times, it deserveth to be discovered and related at the full: although the King’s manner of shewing things by pieces, and dark-lights, hath so muffled it, that it hath left it almost as a mystery to this day.
2. The Lady Margaret, whom the King’s friends called Juno, because she was to him as Juno was to Aeneas, stirring both heaven and hell to do him mischief, for a foundation of her particular practices against him did continually by all means possible nourish, maintain, and divulge the flying opinion that Richard Duke of York (second son to Edward the Fourth) was not murdered in the Tower (as was given out) but saved alive; for that those who were employed in that barbaroius fact [deed], having destroyed the elder brother, were stricken with remorse and compassion towards the younger, and set him privily at liberty to seek his fortune. This lure she cast abroad, thinking that this fame and belief (together with the fresh example of Lambert Symnell) would draw at one time or another some birds to strike upon it. she used likewise a further diligence (not committing all to chance: for she had some secret espials [agents], (like to the Turks commissioners of children to tribute,) to look abroad for handsome and graceful youths, to make Plantagenets and Dukes of York. At the last she did light on one, in whom all things met, as one would wish, to serve her turn for a counterfeit of Richard Duke of York.
[3.] This was Perkin Warbeck, whose adventures we shall now describe. For first, the years agreed well. Secondly, he was a youth of fine favour and shape; but more than that, he had such a crafty and bewitching fashion, both to move pity and to induce belief, as was like a kind of fascination and inchantment to those that saw him or heard him. Thirdly, he had been from his childhood such a wanderer, or (as the King called it) such a land-loper, as it was extreme hard to hunt out his nest and parents; neither again could any man, by company or conversing with him, be able to say or detect well what he was; he did so flit from place to place. Lastly, there was a circumstance (which is mentioned by one that writ in the same time) that is very likely to have made somewhat of the matter; which is, that King Edward the Fourth was his godfather. Which, as it is somewhat suspicious for a wanton prince to become gossip in so mean a house, and might make a man think that he might indeed have in him some base blood of the house of York; so at the least (though that were not) it might give the occasion to the boy, in being called King Edward’s godson, or perhaps in sport King Edward’s son, to entertain such thoughts into his head. For tutor he had none (for ought that appears), as Lambert Symnell had, until he came unto the Lady Margaret who instructed him.
4. Thus therefore it came to pass. There was a townsman of Tournay that had borne office in the town, whose name was John Osbeck (a converted Jew,) married to Katheren de Faro, whose business drew him to live for a time with his wife at London in King Henry the Fourth’s days; during which time he had a son by her; and being known in court, the King either out of religious nobleness, because he was a convert, or upon some private acquaintance, did him the honour to be godfather to his child, and named him Peter. But afterwards proving a dainty and effeminate youth, he was commonly called by the diminutive of his name, Peterkin, or Perkin. But as for the name of Warbeck it was given him when they did but guess at it, before examinations had been taken. But yet he had been so much talked on by that name, as it stuck by him, after his true name of Osbeck was known. While he was a young child, his parents returned with him to Tournay. Then was he placed in a house of a kinsman of his, called John Stenbeck, at Antwerp, and so roamed up and down between Antwerp and Tournay and other towns of Flanders for a good time; living much in English company, and having the English tongue perfect. In which time, being grown a comely youth, he as brought by some of the espials of the Lady Margaret into her presence: who viewing him well, and seeing that he had a face and personage that would bear a noble fortune; and finding him otherwise of a fine spirit and winning behaviour; thought she had now found a curious piece of marble to carve out an image of a Duke of York. She kept him by her a great while, but with extreme secrecy. The while she instructed him by many cabinet conferences; First, in princely behaviour and gesture; teaching him how he should keep state, and yet with a modest sense of his misfortunes: Then she informed him off all the circumstances and particulars that concerned the person of Richard Duke of York, which he was to act; describing unto him the personages, lineamenets, and features of the King and Queen his pretended parents, and of his brother and sisters, and divers others that were nearest him in childhood, together with all passages, some secret, some common, that were fit for a child’s memory, until the death of King Edward. Then she added the particulars of the time from the King’s death until he and his brother were commted to the Tower, ad well during the time he was abroad as while he was in sanctuary. As for the times while he was in the Tower, and the manner of his brother’s death, and his own escape; she knew they were things which very few could controul. And therefore she taught him only to tell a smooth and likely tale of those matters; warning him not to vary from it. It was agreed likewise between them what account he should give of his peregrination abroad; intermixing many things which were true and such as they knew others could testify, for the credit of the rest; but still making them to hang together with the part he was to play. She taught him likewise how to avoid sundry captious and tempting questoins, which were like to be asked of him. But in this she found him of himself so nimble and shifting, as she trusted much to his own wit and readiness; and therefore laboured the less in it. Lastly, she raised his toughts with some present rewards and further promises; setting before him chiefly the glory and fortune of a crown, if things went well; and a sure refuge in her court if the worst should fall. After such times as she thought he was perfect in his lesson, she began to cast with herself from what coast this blazing star should first appear, and at what time. It must be upon the horizon of Ireland; for there had the like meteor strong influence before. The time of the apparition to be, when the King should be engaged in a war with France. But well she knew that whatsoever should come from her would be held suspected. And therefore if he should go out of Flanders immediately into Ireland she might be thought to have some hand in it. And beside, the time was not yet ripe; for that the two Kings were then upon terms of peace. Therefore she wheeled about; and to put all suspicion afar off, and loth to keep him any longer by her (for that she knew secrets are not long-lived), she sent him unknown into Portugal, with the Lady Brampton, an English lady (that embarked for Portugal at that time), with some privade [private agent] of her own to have an eye upon him; and there he was to remain and to expect her further directions. In the mean time she omitted not to prepare things for his better welcome and accepting, not only in the kingdom of Ireland, but in the court of France. He continued in Portugal about a year; and by that time the King of England called his Parliament (as hath been said), and had declared open war against France. Now did the signs reign, and the constellation was comen, under which Perkin should appear. And therefore he was straight sent unto by the Duchess to go for Ireland, at the town of Cork. When he was thither comen, his own tale was (when he made his confession afterwards) that the Irishmen finding him in some good clothes, came flocking about him, and bore him down that he was the Duke of Clarence th that he was Richard Duke of York, second son to Edward the Fourth: but that he for his part renounced all these things, and offered to swear upon the holy Evangelists that he was no such man, till at last they forced it upon him, and bad him fear nothing; and so forth. But the truth is, that immediately upon his coming into Ireland, he took upon him the said person of the Duke of York, and drew unto him complices and partakers by all the means he could devise. Insomuch as he had writ his letters more unto the Earle of Desmond and Kildare, to come to his aid and be of his party; the originate of which letters are yet extant.
5. Somewhat before this time, the Duchess had also gained unto her a near servant of King Henry’s own, one Strephen Frion, his secretary for the French tongue; an active man, but turbulent and discontented. This Frion had fled over to Charles the French King, and put himself into his survice, at such time as he began to be in open enmity with the King. Now King Charles, when he understood of the person and attempts of Perkin, ready himself to embrace all advantages against the King of England, instigated by Frion, and formerly prepared by the Lady Margaret, forthwith despatched one Lucas and this Frion in nature of ambasadors to Perkin, to advertise him of the King’s good inclination to him, and that he was resolved to aid him to recover his right against King Henry, an usuper of England an an enemy of France; and wished him to come over unto him at Paris. Perkin thought himself in heaven now that he was invited by so great a King in so honourable a manner. And imparting unto his friends in Ireland for their encouragement how fortune called him, and what great hopes he had, sailed presently into France. When he was comen to the court of France, the King received him with great honour, saluted, and stiled him by the name of the Duke of York, lodged him and accommodated him in great state; and the better to give him the representation and the countenance of a Prince, assigned him a guard for his person, whereof the Lord Congresall was captain. And the courtiers likewise (thought it be ill mocking with the French) applied themselves to their King’s bent, seeing there was reason of state for it. At the same time there repaired unto Perkin divers Englishmen of quality; Sir George Neville, Sir John Taylor, and about one hundred more; and amongst the rest, this Stephen Frion of whom we spake, who followed his fortune both then and for a long time after, and was indeed his principal counsellor and instrument in all his proceedings. But all this on the French King’s part was but a trick, the better to bow King Henry to peace. And therefore upon the first grain of incense that was sacrificed upon the altar of peace at Bulloigne, Perkin was smoked away. Yet would not the French King deliver him up to King Henry (as he was labored to do), for his honour’s sake; but warned him away and dismissed him. And Perkin on his part was as ready to be gone, doubting [fearing] he might be caught up under-hand. He therefore took his way into Flanders unto the Duchess of Burgundy; pretending that having been variously tossed by fortune he directed his course thither as to a safe harbour; no ways taking knowledge that he had ever been there before, but as if that had been his first address. The Duchess on the other part made it as new and strange to see him; and pretending at the first she was taught and made wise by the example of Lambert Symnell, how she did admit of any counterfeit stuff (though even in that she said she was not fully satisfied), she pretended at the first (and that was ever in the presence of others) to pose him and sift him, thereby to try whether he were indeed the very Duke of York or no. But seeming to receive full satisfaction by his answers, then she feigned herself to be transported with a kind of astonishment, mixt of joy and wonder, of his miraculous deliverance; receiving him as if he were risen from death to life; and inferring that God, who had in such wonderful manner preserved him from death, did likewise reserve him for some great and prosperous fortune. As for his dimission out of France, they interpreted it, not as if he were detected or neglected for a counterfeit deceiver; but contrariwise that it did shew manifestly unto the world that he was some great matter; for that it was his abandoning that (in effect) made the peace; being no more but the sacrificing of a poor distressed Prince unto the utility and ambition of two mighty monarchs. Neither was Perkin for his part wanting to himself either in gracious and princely behaviour, or in ready and apposite answers, or in contenting and caressing those that did apply themselves unto him, or in pretty scorns or disdains to those that seemed to doubt of him; but in all things did notably acquit himself: insomuch as it was generally believed (as well amongst great persons as amongst the vulgar) that he was indeed Duke Richard. Nay himself with long and continual counterfeiting and with often telling a lie, was turned (by habit) almost into the thing he seemed to be, and from a liar to a believer. The Duchess therefore, as in a case out of doubt did him all princely honour, calling him always by the name of her nephew, and giving him the delicate title of the White Rose of England; appointed him a guard of thirty persons, halbardiers, clad in a party-coloured livery of murrey and blue, to attend his person. Her court likewise, and generally the Dutch and strangers, in their usage towards him expressed no less respect.
6. The news hereof came blazing and thundering over into England that the Duke of York was sure alive. As for the name of Perkin Warbeck, it was not at that time comen to light, but all the news ran upon the Duke of York; that he had been entertained in Ireland, bought and sold in France, and was now plainly avowed and in great honour in Flanders. These fames took hold of divers; in some upon discontent, in some upon ambition, in some upon levity and desire of change, in some few upon conscience and belief, but in most upon simplicity, and in divers out of a dependence upon some of the better sort who did in secret favour and nourish these bruits. And it was not long ere these rumours of novelty had begotten others of scandal and murmur against the King and his government, taxing him for a great taxer of the people, and discountenancer of his nobility. The loss of Britainne and the peace with France were not forgotten; but chiefly they fell upon the wrong that he did his Queen, and that he did not reign in her right; wherefore they said that God had now brought to light a masculine branch of the House of York that would not be at his courtesy, howsoever he did depress his poor lady. And yet (as it fareth in things which are current with the multitude and which they affect) these fames grew so general, as the authors were lost in the generality of speakers; they being like running weeds that have no certain root, or like footings up and down impossible to be traced. But after a while these ill humours drew to an head, and settled secretly in some eminent persons; which were Sir William Stanley, Lord Chamberlain of the King’s household, the Lord Fitzwater, Sir Symond Mountford, Sir Thomas Thwaits. These entered into a secret conspiracy to favour Duke Richard’s title; nevertheless none engaged their fortunes in this business openly but two, Sir Robert Clifford and master William Barley, who sailed over into Flanders, sent indeed from the party of the conspirators here to understand the truth of those things which passed there, and not without some help of moneys from hence, provisionally to be delivered — if they found and were satisfied that there was truth in these pretences. The person of Sir Robert Clifford (being a gentleman of fame and family) was extremely welcome to the Lady Margaret, who after she had conference with him brought him to the sight of Perkin, with whom he had often speech and discourse. So that in the end, won either by the Duchess to affect or by Perkin to believe, he wrote back into England, that he knew the person of Richard Duke of York as well as he knew his own, and that this young man was undoubtedly he. By this means all things grew prepared to revolt and sedition here, and the conspiracy came to have a correspondence between Flanders and England.
7. The King on his part was not asleep. But to arm or levy forces yet, he thought he would but show fear, and do this idol too much worship. Nevertheless the ports he did shut up, or at least kept a watch on them, that none should pass to or fro that was suspected. But for the rest he chose to work by countermine. His purposes were two; the one to lay open the abuse; the other to break the knot of the conspirators. To detect the absure, there were but two ways; the first to make it manifest to the world that the Duke of York was indeed murdered; the other to prove that (were he dead or alive) yet Perkin was a counterfeit. For the first, thus it stood. There were but four persons that could speak upon knowledge to the murder of the Duke of York; Sir James Tirrell (the employed-man from King Richard), John Dighton and Myles Forrest his servants (the two butchers or tormentors), and the priest of the Tower that buried them; of which four, Myles Forrest and the priest were dead, and there remained alive only Sir James Tirrell and John Dighton. These two the King caused to be committed to the Tower and examined touching the manner of the death of the two innocent princes. They agreed both in a tale (as the King gave out) to this effect: That King Richard having directed his warrant for the putting of them to death to Brackenbury, the Lieutenant of the Tower, was by him refused; whereupon the King directed his warrant to Sir James Tirrell to receive the keys of the Tower from the lieutenant (for the space of a night) for the King’s especial service. That Sir James Tirrell accordingly repaired to the Tower by night, attended by his two servants afore-named, whom he had chosen for the purpose. That himself stood at the stair-foot, and sent these two villains to execute the murder. That they smothered them in their bed; and, that done, called up their master to see their naked bodies dead, which they had laid forth. That they were buried under the stairs, and some stones cast upon them. That when the report was made to King Richard that his will was done, he gave Sir James Tirrell great thanks; but took exception to the place of their burial, being too base for them that were King’s children; whereupon another night by the King’s warrant renewed, their bodies were removed by the priest of the Tower, and buried by him in some place which (by means of the priest’s death soon after) could not be known. Thus much was then delivered abroad, to be the effect of those examinations; but the King nevertheless made no use of them in any of his declarations. Whereby, as it seems, those examinations left the business somewhat perplexed. And as for Sir James Tirrell, he was long after beheaded in the Tower-yard for other matters of treason. But John Dighton, who it seemeth spake best for the King, was forthwith set at liberty, and was the principal means of divulging this tradition. Therefore this kind of proof being left so naked, the King used the more diligence of the latter, for the tracing of Perkin. To this purpose he sent abroad into several parts, and especially into Flanders, divers secret and nimble scouts and spies; some feigning themselves to fly over unto Perkin, and to adhere unto him; and some uner other pretences to learn, search, and discover all the circumstances and particulars of Perkin’s parents, birth, person, travels up and down, and doings; and, in brief, to have a journal (as it were) of his life and doings; and furnished these his employed-men liberally with money, to draw on and reward intelligences; given them also in charge, to advertise continually what they found, and nevertheless still to go on. And ever as one advertisement and discovery called up another, he employed other new men, where the business did require it. Others he employed in a more special nature and trust, to be his pioners in the main countermine. These were directed to insinuate themselves into the familiarity and confidence of the principal persons of the party in Flanders, and so to learn what associates they had and correspondents either here in England or abroad; and how far every one was engaged; and what new ones they meant afterwards to try or board: and as this for the persons, so for the actions themselves, to discover to the bottom (as they could) the utmost of Perkin and the conspirators their intentions, hopes, and practices. These latter best betrust spies had some of them further instructions, to practice and draw off the best friends and servants of Perkin, by making remonstrance to them how weakly his enterprise and hopes were built, and with how prudent and potent a King they had to deal; and to reconcile them to the King with promise of pardon and good conditions of reward. And above the rest to assail, sap, and work into the constancy of Sir Robert Clifford, and to win him (if they could), being the man that knew most of their secrets, and who being won away would most appall and discourage the rest, and in a manner break the knot.
[8.] There is a strange tradition, that the King lost in a wood of suspicions, and not knowing whom to trust, had both intelligence with the confessors and chaplains of divers great men; and for the better credit of his espials abroad with the contrary side, did use to have them cursed at Paul’s (by name) amongst the bead-roll of the Kings enemies, according to the custom of those times. These spials plied their charge so roundly, as the King had an anatomy of Perkin alive; and was likewise well informed of the particular correspondent conspirators in England, and many other mysteries were revealed; and Sir Robert Clifford in especial won to be assured to the King, and industrious and officious for his service. The King therefore (receiving a rich return of his diligence, and great satisfaction touching a number of particulars,) first divulged and spread abroad the imposture and juggling of Perkin’s person and travels, with the circumstances thereof, throughout the realm; not by proclamation (because things were yet in examination, and so might receive the more or the less,) but by court-fames, which commonly print better than printed proclamations. Then thought he it also time to send an ambassage unto Archduke Philip into Flanders, for the abandoning and dismissing of Perkin. Herein he employed Sir Edward Poynings, and Sir William Warham doctor of the canon law. The Archduke was then young and governed by his counsel. Before whom the ambassadors had audience. And Dr. Warham spake in this manner:
9. “My lords, the King our master is very sorry, that England and your country here of Flanders having been counted as man and wife for so long time, now this coiuntry of all others should be the stage where a base counterfeit should play the part of a King of England, not only to his Grace’s disquiet and dishonour, but to the scorn and reproach of all sovereign Princes. To counterfeit the dead image of a King in his coin is an high offence by all laws. But to counterfeit the living image of a King in his person exceedeth all falsifications, except it should be that of a Mahomet or an Antichrist, that counterfeit divine honour. The King hath too great an opinion of this sage counsel, to think that any of you is caught with this fable (though way may be given by you to the passion of some), the thing in itself is so improbable. To set testimonies aside of the death of Duke Richard, with the King hath upon record plain and infallible, (because they may be thought to be in the King’s own power,) let the thing testify for itself. Sense and reason no power can command. Is it possible (trow [believe] you) that King Richard should damn his soul and foul his name with so abominable a murder, and yet not mend his case? Or do you think that men of blood (that were his instruments) did turn to pity in the midst of their execution:? whereas in cruel and savage beasts, and men also, the first draught of blood doth yet make them more fierce and enraged. Do you not know that the bloody executioners of tyrants do go to such errands with an halter about their neck, so that if they perform not they are sure to die for it? And do you think that these men would hazard their own lives for sparing another’s? Admit they should have saved him; what should they have done with him? Turn him into London streets? that the watchman, or any passenger that should light upon him, might carry him before a justice, and so all come to light? Or should they have kept him by them secretly? That surely would have required a great deal of care, charge, and continual fears. But, my lords, I labour too much in a clear business. The King is so wise, and hath so good friends aborad, as now he knoweth Duke Perkin from his cradle. And because he is a great Prince, if you have any good poet here, he can help him with notes to write his life, and to parallel him with Lambert Symnell, now the King’s falconer. And therefore, to speak plainly to your lordships, it is the strangest thing in the world, that the Lady Margaret (excuse us if we name her, whose malice to the King is both causeless and endless,) should now when she is old, at the time when other women give over child&endash;bearing, bring forth two such monsters, being not the births of nine or ten months, but of many years. And whereas other natural mothers bring forth children weak, and not able to help themselves; she bringeth forth tall stripplings, able soon after their coming into the world to bid battle to mighty Kings. My lords, we stay unwillingly upon this part: we would to God that lady would once taste the joys which God Almighty doth serve up unto her, in beholding her niece to reign in such honour, and with so much royal issue, which she might be pleased to account as her own. The King’s request unto the Archduke and your lorships might be, that according to the example of King Charles, who hath already discarded him, you would banish this unworthy fellow out of your dominions. But because the King may justly expect more from an ancient confederate than from a new reconciled enemy, he maketh it his request unto you to deliver him up into his hands: pirates and impostors of this sort being fit to be accounted the common enemies of mankind, and no ways to be protected by the law of nations.”
10. After some short time of deliberation, the ambassadors received this short answer: That the Archduke, for the love of King Henry, would in no sort aid or assist the preteneded Duke, but in all things conserve the amity he had with the King. But for the Duchess Dowager, she was absolute in the lands of her dowry, and that he could not let [oppose] her to dispose of her own.
11. The King, upon the return of the ambassadors, was nothing satisfied with this answer; for well he knew that a patrimonial dowry carried no part of sovereignty or command of forces. Besides the ambassadors told him plainly, that they saw the Duchess had a great party in the Archduke’s counsel; and that howsoever it was carried in a course of connivance, yet the Archduke underhand give aid and futherance to Perkin. Wherefore (partly out of courage and partly out of policy) the King forthwith banished all Flemings (as well their persons as their wares) out of his kingdom; commanding his subjects likewise (and by name his Merchants Adventurers) which had a resiance [residence] in Antwerp, to return; translating the mart (which commonly followed the English cloth) unto Calais, and embarred also all further trade for the future. This the King did, being sensible in point of honour not to suffer a pretender to the crown of England to affront him so near at hand, and he to keep terms of friendship with the country where he did set up. But he had also a further reach; for that he knew well that the subjects of Flanders drew so great commodity from the trade of England, as by this embargo they would soon wax weary of Perkin; and that the tumults of Flanders had been so late and fresh, as it was no time for the Prince to displease the people. Nevertheless for form’s sake, by way of requital, the Archduke did likewise banish the English out of Flanders; which in effect was done to his hand.
12. The King being well adverstised that Perkin did more trust upon friends and partakers within the realm than upon foreign arms, thought it behoved him to apply the remedy where disease lay, and to proceed with severity against some of the principal conspirators here within the realm; thereby to purge the ill humours in England, and to cool the hopes in Flanders. Wherefore he caused to be apprehended, almost at an instant, John Ratcliffe Lord Fitzwater, Sir Symon Mountford, Sir Thomas Thwaites, William Dawbendy, Robert Ratcliffe, Thomas Chressenor, and Thomas Astwood. All these were arraigned, convicted, and condemned for high treason, in adhering and promising aid to Perkin. Of these the Lord Fitzwater was conveyed to Calais, and there kept in hold and in hope of life, until soon after (either impatient or betrayed) he dealt with his keeper to have escaped, and thereupon was beheaded. But Sir Symon Moundford, Robert Ratcliffe, and William Dawbeny, were beheaded immediately after their condemnation. The rest were pardoned, together with many others, clerks and laics, amongst whom were two Dominican friars, and William Worseley Dean of Paul’s; which latter sort passed examination, but came not to public trial.
13. The Lord Chamberlain at that time was not touched; whether it were that the King would not stir too many humours at once, but, after the manner of good physicians, purge the head last; or that Clifford (from whom most of these discoveries came) reserved that piece for his own coming over; signifying only to the King in the mean time that he doubted [suspected] there were some greater ones in the business, whereof he would give the King farther account when he came to his presence.
14. Upon Allhallows-day-even, being now the tenth year of the King’s reign, the King’s second son Henry was created Duke of York; and as well the Duke, as divers others, noblemen, knights-bachelors, and gentlemen of quality, were made Knights of the Bath according to the ceremony. Upont he morrow after Twelfth-day, the King removed from Westminster (where he had kept his Christmas) to the Tower of London. This he did as soon as he had adverstisement that Sir Robert Clifford (in whose bosom or budget most of Perkin’s secrets were laid up) was comen into England. And the place of the Tower was chosen to that the end, that if Clifford should accuse any of the great ones, they might without suspicion or noise or sending abroad of warrants be presently attached; the court and prison being within the cincture of one wall. After a day or two the King drew unto him a selected counsel, and admitted Clifford to his presence; who first fell down at his feet, and in all humble manner craved the King’s pardon; which the King then granted, though he were indeed secretly assured of his life before. Then, commanded to tell his knowledge, he did amongst many others (of himself not interrogated) impeach Sir William Stanley, the Lord Chamberlain of the King’s household.
15. The King seemed to be much amazed at the naming of this lord; as if he had heard the news of some strange and fearful prodigy. To hear a man that had done him service of so high a nature as to save his life and set the crown upon his head; a man that enjoyed by his favour and advancement so great a fortune both in honour and riches; a man that was tied unto him in so near a band of allianace, his brother having married the King’s mother; and lastly a man to whom he had committed the trust of his person, in making him his chamberlain; that this man, no ways disgraced, no ways discontent, no ways put in fear, should be false unto him. Clifford was required to say over again and again the particulars of his accusation; being warned, that in a matter so unlikely, and that concerned so great a servant of the King’s, he should not in any wise go too far. But the King finding that he did sadly and constantly (without hesitation or varying, and with those civil protestations that were fit,) stand to that that he had said, offering to justify it upon his soul and life; he caused him to be removed. And after he had not a little bemoaned himself unto his counsel there present, gave order that Sir William Stanley should be restrained in his own chamber, where he lay before, in the square tower. Upon his examination he denied little of that wherewith he was charged, nor endeavoured much to excuse or extenuate his fault. So that (not very wisely), thinking to make his offence less by confession, he made it enough for condemnation. It was conceived that he trusted much to his former merits and the interest that his brother had in the King. But those helps were over-weighed by divers things that made against him, and were predominant in the King’s nature and mind. First, an over-merit; for convenient merit, unto which reward may easily reach, doth best with Kings; Next, the sense of his power; for the King thought that he that could set him up was the more dangerous to pull him down; Thirdly, the glimmering of a confiscation; for he was the richest subject for value in the kingdom; there being found in his castle of Holte forty thousand marks in ready money and plate, besides jewels, household-stuff, stocks upon his grounds, and other personal estate exceeding great; and for his revenue in land and fee, it was three thousand pounds a year of old rent, a great matter in those times. Lastly, the nature of the time; for if the King had been out of fear of his own estate, it was not unlike he would have spared his life; but the cloud of so great a rebellion hanging over his head made him work sure. Wherefore after some six seeks’ distance of time, which the King did honourably interpose, both to give space to his brother’s intercession, and to shew to the would that he had a conflict with himself what he should do, he was arraigned of high-treason and condemned, and presently after beheaded.
16. It is yet to this day left but in dark memory, both what the case of this noble person was, for which he suffered; and what likewise was the ground and cause of his defection and alienation of his heart from the King. His case was said to be this; that in discourse between Sir Robert Clifford and him he had said, That if he were sure that the young man were King Edward’s son, he would never bear arms against him. This case seems somewhat a hard case, both in respect of the conditional, and in respect of the other words. But for the conditional, it seemeth that the judges of that time (who were learned men, and the three chief of them of the privy counsel,) thought it was a dangerous thing to admit Ifs and Ands to qualify words of treason; whereby every man might express his malice, and blanch his danger. And it was like to the case (in the following times) of Elizabeth Barton, the holy maid of Kent, who had said, That if King Henry the Eighth did not take Catherine his wife again, he should be deprived of his crown, and die the death of a dog. And infinite cases may be put of like nature; which it seemeth the grave judges taking into consideration, would not admit of treasons upon condition. And as for the positive words, That he would not bear arms against King Edward’s son; though the words seem calm, yet; it was a plain and direct over-ruling of the King’s title, either by the line of Lancaster or by act of Parliament; which no doubt pierced the King more than if Stanley had charged his lance upon him in the field. For if Stanley would hold that opinion, That a son of King Edward had still the better right, he being so a principal person of authority and favour about the King, it was to teach all England to say as much. And therefore, as those times were, that speech touched the quick. But some writers do put this out of doiubt; for they say that Stanley did expressly promise to aid Perkin, and sent him some help of treasure.
17. Now for the motive of his falling off from the King. It is true that at Bosworth field the King was beset, and in manner inclosed round about by the troops of King Richard, and in manifest danger of his life; when this Stanley was sent by his brother with three thousand men to his rescue, which he performed so, that King Richard was slain upon the place. So as the condition of mortal men is not capable of a greater benefit than the King received by the hands of Stanley; being like the benefit of Christ, at once to save and crown. For which service the King gave him great gifts, made him his counsellor and chamberlain; and (somewhat contrary to his nature) had winked at the great spoils of Bosworth-field, which came almost wholly to this man’s hands, to his infinite enriching. Yet nevertheless, blown up with the conceit of his merit, he did not think he had received good measure from the King, at least not pressing-down and running over, as he expected. And his ambition was so exorbitant and unbounded, as he became suitor to the King for the Earldom of Chester; which ever being a kind of appanage to the principality of Wales, and using to go to the King’s son, his suit did not only end in a denial but in a distaste: the King perceiving thereby that his desires were intemperate, and his cogitations vast and irregular, and that his former benefits were but cheap and lightly regarded by him. Wherefore the King began not to brook him well; and as a little leaven of new distaste doth commonly sour the whole lump of former merits, the king’s wit began now to suggest unto his passion, that Stanley at Bosworth-field, though he came time enough to save his life, yet he stayed long enough to endanger it. But yet having no matter against him, he continued him in his places until this his fall.
18. After him was made Lord Chamberlain Giles Lord Dawbeny, a man of great sufficiency and valour, the more because he was gentle and moderate.
19. There was a common opinion, that Sir Robert Clifford (who was now becomen the state-informer) was from the beginning an emissary and spy of the King’s; and that he fled over into Flanders with his consent and privity. But this is not probable; both because he never recovered that degree of grace which he had with the King before his going over; and chiefly for that hte discovery which he had made touching the Lord Chamberlain (which was his great service) grew not from anything he learned abroad, for that he knew it well before he went.
20. These executions, and specially that of the Lord Chamberlain which was the chief strength of the party, and by means of Sir Robert Clifford who was the most inward man of trust amongst them, did extremely quail the design of Perkin and his complices, as well through discouragement as distrust. So that they were now like sand without lime; ill bound together; especially as many as were English, who were at a gaze, looking strange one upon another, not knowing who was faithful to their side; but thinking that the King (what with his baits and what with his nets) would draw them all unto him that were any thing worth. And indeed it came to pass that divers came away by the thrid [= thread, i. e. the conspiracy unravelled], sometimes one and sometimes another. Barley, that was joint-commissioner with Clifford, did hold out one of the longest, till Perkin was far worn; yet made his peace at length. But the fall of this great man, being so high authority and favour (as was thought) with the King, and the manner of carriage of the business, as if there had been secret inquisition upon him for a great time before; and the cause for which he suffered, which was little more than for saying in effect that the title of York was better than the title of Lancaster, which was the case almost of every man, at the least in opinion; was matter of great terror amongst all the King’s servants and subjects; insomuch as no man almost thought himself secure, and men durst scarce commune or talk one with another, but there was a general diffidence everywhere; which nevertheless made the King rather more absolute than more safe. For bleeding inwards and shut vapours strangle soonest and oppress most.
21. Hereupon presently came forth swarms and vollies of libels (which are the gusts of liberty of speech restrained, and the females of sedition,) containing bitter invectives and slanders against the King and some of the counsel; for the contriving and dispersing whereof (after great diligence of enquiry) five mean persons were caught up and executed.
22. Meanwhile the King did not neglect Ireland, being the soil where these mushrooms and upstart weeds that spring up in a night did chiefly prosper. He sent therefore from hence (for the better settling of his affairs there) commissioners of both robes, the Prior of Lanthony to be his Chancellor in that kingdom, and Sir Edward Poynings, with a power of men, and a marshall commission, together with a civil power of his Lieutenant, with a clause, That the Earl of Kildare, then Deputy, should obey him. But the wild Irish, who were the principal offenders, fled into the woods and bogs, after their manner; and those that knew themselves guilty in the pale fled to them. So that Sir Edward Poynings was enforced to make a wild chase upon the wild Irish; where (in respect of the mountains and fastnesses) he did little good: which (either out of a suspicious melancholy upon his bad success, or the better to save his service from disgrace,) he would needs impute unto the comfort that the rebels should receive underhand from the Earl of Kildare; every light suspicion growing upon the Earl, in respect of the Kildare that was in the action of Lambert Symnell, and slain at Stokefield. Wherefore he caused the Earl to be apprehended, and sent into England; where upon examination he cleared himself so well as he was replaced in his government. But Poynings, the better to make compensation of the meagreness of his service in the wars by acts of peace, called a Parliament; where was made that memorable act which at this day is called Poynings’ Law; whereby all the statutes of England were made to be of force in Ireland. For before they were not; neither are any now in force in Ireland, which were made in England since that time; which was the tenth year of the King.
23. About this time began to be discovered in the King that disposition, which afterwards nourished and whet on by bad counsellors and ministers proved the blot of his times; which was the course he took to crush treasure out of his subjects’ purses, by forfeitures upon penal laws. At this men did startle the more (at this time), because it appeared plainly to be in the King’s nature, and not out of his necessity; he being now in float for [abounding in] treasure: for that he had newly received the peace-money from France, the benevolence-money from his subjects, and great casualties [windfalls] upon the confiscations of the Lord Chamberlain and diverse others. The first noted case of this kind was that of Sir William Capel, Alderman of London; who upon sundry penal laws was condemned in the sum of seven and twenty hundred pounds, and compounded with the King for sixteen hundred: and yet after, Empson would have cut another chop out of him, if the King had not died in the instant.
24. The summer following, the King, to comfort his mother, whom he did always tenderly love and revere, and to make demonstration to the world that the proceeding against Sir William Stanley (which was imposed upon him by necessity of state) had not in any degree diminished the affection he bore to Thomas his brother, went in progress to Latham, to make merry with his mother and the Earl, and lay there divers days.
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