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URING this progress Perkin Warbeck, finding that time and temporizing, which while his practices were covert and wrought well in England made for him, did now when they were discovered and defeated rather make against him (for that when matters once go down the hill they stay not without a new force), resolved to try his adventure in some exploit upon England; hoping still upon the affections of the common people towards the House of York. Which body of common people he thought was not to be practiced upon as persons of quality are; but that the only practice upon their affections was to set up a standard in the field. The place where he should make his attempt he chose to be the coast of Kent.
2. The King by this time was grown to such a height of reputation for cunning and policy, that every accident and event that went well was laid and imputed to his foresight, as if he had set it before. As in this particular of Perkin’s design upon Kent. For the world would not believe afterwards, but the King, having secret intelligence of Perkin’s intention for Kent, the better to draw it on, went of purpose into the north afar off; laying an open side unto Perkin to make him come to the close, and so to trip up his heels, having made sure in Kent beforehand.
3. But so it was, that Perkin had gathered together a power of all nations, neither in number nor in hardiness and courage of the persons contemptible; but in their nature and fortunes to be feared as well of friends as enemies, being bankrupts, and many of them felons, and such as lived by rapine. These he put to sea, and arrived upon the coast of Sandwich and Deal in Kent about July.
4. There he cast anchor, and to prove the affections of the people, sent some of his men to land, making great boasts of the power that was to follow. The Kentish men, perceiving that Perkin was not followed by any English of name or account, and that his forces consisted but of strangers born, and most of them base people and free-booters, fitter to spoil a coast than to recover a kingdom; resorting unto the principal gentlemen of the country, professed their loyalty to the King, and desired to be directed and commanded for the best of the King’s service. The gentlemen, entering into consultation, directed some forces in good number to shew themselves upon the coast, and some of them to make signs to entice Perkin’s soldiers to land, as if they would join with them; and some others to appear from some other places, and to make semblance as if they fled from them, the better to encourage them to land. But Perkin, who by playing the Prince, or else taught by secretary Frion, had learned thus much, that people under command do use to consult and after to march on in order, and rebels contrariwise run upon an head together in confusion; considering the delay of time, and observing their orderly and not tumultuary arming, doubting the worst. And therefore the wily youth would not set one foot out of his ship, till he might see things were sure. Wherefore the King’s forces, perceiving that they could draw on no more than those that were formerly landed, set upon them and cut them in pieces ere they could fly back to their ships. In which skirmish (besides those that fled and were slain) there were taken about an hundred and fifty persons, which, for that the King thought to punish a few for example was gentleman’s play, but for rascal people they were to be cut off every man, especially in the beginning of an enterprise; and likewise for that he saw that Perkin’s forces would now consist chiefly of such rabble and scum of desperate people; he therefore hanged thaem all for the greater terror. They were brought to London all railed in ropes, like a team of horses in a cart, and were executed some of them at London and Wapping, and the rest at divers places upon the sea-coast of Kent, Sussex, and Norfolk; for sea-marks or light-houses to teach Perkin’s people to avoid the coast. The King being advertised of the landing of the rebels, thought to leave his progress: but being certified the next day that they were partly defeated and partly fled, he continued his progress, and sent Sir Richard Guildford into Kent in message; who calling the country together, did much commend (from the King) their fidelity, manhood, and well handling of that service; and gave them all thanks, and in private promised reward to some particulars.
5. Upon the sixteenth of November (this being the eleventh year of the King) was holden the Serjeants’ feast at Ely Place, there being nine serjeants of that call. The King to honour the feast, was present with his Queen at the dinner; being a Prince that was ever ready to grace and countenance the professors of the law; having a little of that, that as he governed his subjects by his laws, so he governed his laws by his lawyers.
6. This year also the King entered into league with the Italian potentates for the defence of Italy against France. For King Charles had conquered the realm of Naples, and lost it again, a kind of felicity of a dream. He passed the whole length of Italy without resistance; so that it was true which Pope Alexander was wont to say, That the Frenchmen came into Italy with chalk in their hands to mark up their lodgings, rather than with swords to fight. He likewise entered and won in effect the whole kingdom of Naples itself, without striking stroke. But presently thereupon he did commit and multiply so many errors, as was too great a task for the best fortune to overcome. He gave no contentment to the barons of Naples, of the faction of the Angeovines; but scattered his rewards according to the mercenary appetites of some about him; He put all Italy upon their guard, by the seizing and holding of Ostia, and the protecting of the liberty of Pisa; which made all men suspect that his purposes looked further than his title of Naples: He fell too soon at difference with Ludovico Sfortza, who was the man that carried the keys which brought him in and shut him out: He neglected to extinguish some relicks of the war: And lastly, in regard of his easy passage through Italy without resistance, he entered into an overmuch despising of the arms of the Italians, whereby he left the realm of Naples at his departure so much the less provided. So that not long after his return, the whole kingdom revolted to Ferdinando the younger, and the French were quite driven out. Nevertheless Charles did make both great threats and great preparations to reenter Italy once again: wherefore at the instance of divers of the states of Italy (and especially of Pope Alexander) there was a league concluded between the said Pope, Maximilian King of the Romans, Henry King of England, Ferdinando and Isabella King and Queen of Spain (for so they are constantly placed in the original treaty throughout), Augustino Barbadico Duke of Venice, and Ludovico Sfortza Duke of Milan, for the common defense of their estates; wherein though Ferdinando of Naples was named as principal, yet no doubt the kingdom of Naples was tacitly included as a fee of the church.
7. There died also this year Cecile Duchess of York, mother to King Edward the Fourth, at her castle at Barkhamsted, being of extreme years, and who had lived to see three princes of her body crowned, and four murdered. She was buried at Foderingham, by her husband.
8. This year also the King called his Parliament, where many laws were made of a more private and vulgar nature than ought to detain the reader of an history. And it may be justly suspected, by the proceedings following, that as the King did excel in good commonwealth laws, so nevertheless he had in secret a design to make use of them, as well for collecting of treasure as for correcting of manners; and so meaning thereby to harrow his people, did accumulate them the rather.
9. The principal law that was made this Parliament was a law of a strange nature, rather just than legal, and more magnanimous than provident. This law did ordain, That no person that did assist in arms or otherwise the King for the time being, should after be impeached therefore, or attained either by the course of law or by act of Parliament; but if any such act of attainder did hap to be made, it should be void and of none effect; for that it was agreeable to reason of estate that the subject should not inquire of the justness of the King’s title or quarrel, and it was agreeable to good conscience that (whatever the fortune of the war were) the subject should not suffer for his obedience. The spirit of this law was wonderful pious and noble, being like, in matter of war unto the spirit of David in matter of plague; who said, If I have sinned strike me, but what have these sheep done? Neither wanted this law parts of prudent and deep foresight. For it did the better take away occasion for the people to busy themselves to pry into the King’s title; for that (howsoever it fell) their safety was already provided for. Besides it could not but greatly draw unto him the love and hearts of the people, because he seemed more careful for them than for himself. But yet nevertheless it did take off from his party that great tie and spur of necessity to fight and go victors out of the field; considering their lives and fortunes were put in safety and protected whether they stood to it or ran away. But the force and obligation of this law was in itself illusory, as to the latter part of it; (by a precedent act of Parliament to bind or frustrate a future). For a supreme and absolute power cannot conclude itself, neither can that which is in nature revocable be made fixed; no more than if a man should appoint or declare by his will that if he made any later will it should be void. And for the case of the act of Parliament, there is a notable precedent of it in King Henry the Eighth’s time; who doubting [fearing] he might die in the minority of his son, procured an act to pass, That no statute made during the minority of a King should bind him or his successors, except it were confirmed by the King under his great seal at his full age. But the first act that passed in King Edward the Sixth’s time, was an act of repeal of that former act; at which time nevertheless the King was minor. But things that do not bind may satisfy for the time.
10. There was also made a shoaring or underpropping act for the benevolence: to make the sums which any person had agreed to pay, and nevertheless were not brought in, to be leviable by course of law. Which act did not only bring in the arrears, but did indeed countenance the whole business, and was pretended to be made at the desire of those that had been forward to pay.
11. This Parliament also was made that good law which gave the attaint upon a false verdict between party and party, which before was a kind of evangile, irremediable. It extends not to causes capital, as well because they are for the most part at the King;s suit; as because in them, if they be followed in course of indictment, there passeth a double jury, the indictors and triers, and so not twelve men but four and twenty. But it seemeth that was not the only reason; for this reason holdeth not in the appeal. But the great reason was, lest it should tend to the discouragement of jurors in cases of life and death, if they should be subject to suit and penalty, where the favour of life maketh against them. It extendeth not also to any suit where the demand is under the value of forty pounds; for that in such cases of petty value it would not quit the charge to go about again.
12. There was another law made against a branch of ingratitute in women, who having been advanced by their husbands, or their husbands’ ancestors, should alienate and thereby seek to defeat the heirs or those in remainder of the lands whereunto they had been so advanced. The remedy was by giving power to the next to enter for a forfeiture.
13. There was also enacted that charitable law for the admission of poor suitors in forma pauperis, without fee to counsellor, attorney, or clerk; whereby poor men became rather able to vex than unable to sue. There were divers other good laws made that Parliament, as we said before; but we still observe our manners in selecting out those that are not of a vulgar nature.
14. The King this while though he sat in Parliament as in full peace, and seemed to account of the designs of Perkin (who was now returned into Flanders) but as of a May-game; yet having the composition of a wise King, stout without and apprehensive within, had given order for the watching of beacons upon the coast, and erecting more where they stood too thin; and had a careful eye where this wandering cloud should break. But Perkin, advised to keep his fire (which hitherto burned as it were upon green wood) alive with continual blowing, sailed again into Ireland; whence he had formerly departed, rather upon the hopes of France than upon any unreadiness or discouragement he found in that people. But in the space of time between, the King’s diligence and Poyning’s commission had so settled things there, as there was nothing left for Perkin but the blustering affection of the wild and naked people. Wherefore he was advised by his counsel to seek aid of the King of Scotland; a Prince young and valorous, and in good terms with his nobles and people, and ill affected to King Henry. At this time also both Maximilian and Charles of France began to bear no good will to the King; the one being displeased with the King’s prohibition of commerce with Flanders; the other holding the King for suspect in regard of his late entry into league with the Italians. Wherefore besides the open aids of the Duchess of Burgundy, which did with sails and oars put on and advance Perkin’s designs, there wanted not some secret tides from Maximilian and Charles which did further his fortunes; insomuch as they both by their secret letters and messages recommended him to the King of Scotland.
15. Perkin therefore coming into Scotland upon those hopes, with a well-appointed company, was by the King of Scots (being formerly well prepared) honourably welcomed; and soon after his arrival admitted to his presence in a solemn manner. For the King received him in state in his chamber of presence, accompanied with divers of his nobles. And Perkin, well attended as well with those that the King had sent before him as with his own train, entered the room where the King was, and coming near to the King, and bowing a little to embrace him, he retired some paces back, and with a loud voice, that all were present might hear him, made his declaration in this manner:
16. “High and mighty King; your Grace and these your nobles here present may be pleased benignly to bow your ears to hear the tragedy of a young man, that by right ought to hold in his hand the ball of a kingdom, but by fortune is made himself a ball, tossed from misery to misery, and from place to place. You see here before you the spectacle of a Plantagenet, who hath been carried from the nursery to the sanctuary, from the sanctuary to the direful prison, from the prison to the hand of the cruel tormentor, and from that hand to the wide wilderness (as I may truly all it), for so the world hath been to me. So that he that is born to a great kingdom, hath not ground to set his foot upon, more than this where he now standeth by your princely favour. Edward the Fourth, late King of England, (as your Grace cannot but have heard,) left two sons, Edward and Richard Duke of York, both very yong. Edward the eldest succeeded their father in the crown, by the name of King Edward the Fifth. But Richard Duke of Glocester, their unnatural uncle, first thirsting after the kingdom through ambition, and afterwards thirsting for their blood out of desire to secure himself, employed an instrument of his (confident to him as he thought,) to murder them both. But this man that was employed to execute that execrable tragedy, having cruelly slain King Edward, the eldest of the two, was moved partly by remorse, and partly by some other mean, to save Richard his brother; making a report nevertheless to the tyrant that he had performed his commandment for both brethren. This report was accordingly believed, and published generally. So that the world hath been possessed of an opinion that they both were barbarously made away, though ever truth hath some sparks that fly abroad until it appear in due time, as this hath had. But Almighty God, that stopped the mouth of the lions, and saved little Joas from the tyranny of Athaliah when she massacred the King’s children, and did save Isaac when the hand was stretched forth to sacrifice him, preserved the second brother. For I myself that stand here in your presence, am that very Richard Duke of York, brother of that unfortunate Prince King Edward the Fifth, now the most rightful surviving heir-male to that victorious and most noble Edward, of that name the Fourth, late King of England. For the manner of my escape, it is fit it should pass in silence, or at least in a more secret relation; for that it may concern some alive, and the memory of some that are dead. Let it suffice to think, that I had then a mother living, a Queen, and one that expected daily such a commandment from the tyrant for the murdering of her children. Thus in my tender age escaping by God’s mercy out of London, I was secretly conveyed over sea; where after a time the party that had me in charge (upon what new fears, change of mind, or practice, God knoweth) suddenly forsook me; whereby I was forced to wander abroad, and to seek mean conditions for the sustaining of my life. Wherefore distracted between several passions, the one of fear to be known, lest the tyrant should have a new attempt on me, the other of grief and disdain to be unknown and to live in that base and servile manner that I did, I resolved with myself to expect the tyrant’s death, and then to put myself into my sister’s hands, who was next heir to the crown. But in this season it happened one Henry Tidder, son to Edmund Tidder Earl of Richmond, to come from France and enter into the realm, and by subtile and foul means to obtain the crown of the same, which to me rightfully appertained: so that it was but a change from tyrant to tyrant. This Henry, my extreme and mortal enemy, so soon as he had knowledge of my being alive, imagined and wrought all the subtile ways and means he could to procure my final destruction. For my mortal enemy hath not only falsely surmised me to be a feigned person, giving me nick-names so abusing the world; but also to defer and put me from entry into England, hath offered large sums of money to corrupt the Princes and their ministers with whom I have been retained; and made importune labours to certain servants about my person to murder or poison me, and others to forsake and leave my righteous quarrel and to depart from my service; as Sir Robert Clifford and others. So that every man of reason may well perceive, that Henry, calling himself King of England, needed not to have bestowed such great sums of treasure, nor so to have busied himself with importune and incessant labour and industry, to compass my death and ruin, if I had been such a feigned person. But the truth of my cause being so manifest, moved the most Christian King Charles, and the Lady Duchess Dowager of Burgundy, my most dear aunt, not only to acknowledge the truth thereof, but lovingly to assist me. But it seemeth that God above, for the good of this whole island, and the knitting of these two kingdoms of England Scotland into a straight concord and amity by so great an obligation, hath reserved the placing of me in the imperial throne of England for the arms and succours of your Grace. Neither is it the first time that a King of Scotland hath supported them that were reft and spoiled of the kingdom of England, as of late in fresh memory it was done in the person of Henry the Sixth. Wherefore for that your Grace hath given clear signs that you are in no noble quality inferior to your royal ancestors, I, so distressed a Prince, was hereby moved to come and put myself into your royal hands; desiring your assistance to recover my kingdom of England, promising faithfully to bear myself towards your Grace no otherwise than if I were your own natural brother; and will, upon the recovery of mine inheritance, gratefully do to you all the pleasure that is in my utmost power.”
17. After Perkin had told his tale, King James answered bravely and wisely, That whosoever he were, he should not repent him of putting himself into his hands. And from that time forth (though there wanted not some about him that would have persuaded him that all was but an illusion) yet notwithstanding, either taken by Perkin’s amiable and alluring behaviour, or inclining to the recommendation of the great Princes abroad, or willing to take an occasion of war against King Henry, he entertained him in all things as became the person of Richard Duke of York, embraced his quarrel, and, the more to put it out of doubt that he took him to be a great Prince and not a representation only, he gave consent that this Duke should take to wife the Lady Katheren Gordon daughter to the Earl of Huntley, being a near kinswoman to the King himself, and a young virgin of excellent beauty and virtue.
18. Not long after, the King of Scots in person, with Perkin in his company, entered with a great army (though it consisted chiefly of borderers being raised somewhat suddenly) into Northumberland. And Perkin, for a perfume before him as he went, caused to be published a proclamation, of this tenor following, in the name of Richard Duke of York, true inheritor of the crown of England:
19. “It hath pleased God, who putteth down the mighty from their seat, and exalteth the humble, and suffereth not the hopes of the just to perish in the end, to give us means at this length to show ourselves armed unto our lieges and people of England. But far be it from us to intend their hurt or damage, or to make war upon them, otherwise than to deliver ourself and them from tyranny and oppression. For our mortal enemy Henry Tidder, a false usurper of the crown of England, which to us by natural and lineal right appertaineth, knowing in his own heart our undoubted right, (we being the very Richard Duke of York, younger son and now surviving heir-male of the noble and victorious Edward the Fourth, late King of England), hath not only deprived us of our kingdom, but likewise by all foul and wicked means sought to betray us and bereave us of our life. Yet if his tyranny only extended itself to our person, (although our royal blood teacheth us to be sensible of injuries,) it should be less to our grief. But this Tidder, who boasteth himself to have overthrown a tyrant, hath ever since his first entrance into his usurped reign, put little in practice but tyranny and the feats thereof.
[20.] For King Richard, our unnatural uncle, (although desire of rule did blind him) yet in his other actions, like a true Plantagenet, was noble, and loved the honour of the realm and the contentment and comfort of this nobles and people. But this our mortal enemy, agreeable to the meanness of his birth, hath trodden under foot the honour of this nation; selling our best confederates for money, and making merchandise of the blood, estates, and fortunes of our peers and subjects, by feigned wars and dishonourable peace, only to enrich his coffers. Not unlike hath been his hateful misgovernment and evil deportments here at home. First he hath to fortify his false quarrel caused divers nobles of this our realm (whom he held suspect and stood in dread of) to be cruelly murdered; as our cousin Sir William Stanley Lord Chamberlain, Sir Simon Mountfort, Sir Robert Ratcliffe, William Dawbeny, Humphrey Stafford, and many others, besides such as have dearly bought their lives with intolerable ransoms: some of which nobles are now in the sanctuary. Also he hath long kept, and yet keepeth in prison, our right entirely well-beloved cousin, Edward, son and heir to our uncle Duke of Clarence, and others; withholding from them their rightful inheritance, to the intent they should never be of might and power to aid and assist us at our need, after the duty of their legiacies [allegiance]. He also married by compulsion certain of our sisters, and also the sister of our said cousin the Earl of Warwick, and divers other ladies of the royal blood, unto certain of his kinsmen and friends of simple and low degree; and putting apart all well disposed nobles, he hath none in favour and trust about his person, but Bishop Foxe, Smith, Bray, Lovel, Oliver King, David Owen, Riseley, Turbervile, Tyler, Chomeley, Epson, James Hobarte, John Cutte, Garth, Henry Wyate, and such other caitifs and villains of birth, which by subtile inventions and pilling [despoiling] of the people have been the principal finders, occasioners, and counsellors of the misrule and mischief now reigning in England.
21. “We remembering these premises, with the great and execrable offences daily committed and done by our foresaid great enemy and his adherents, in breaking the liberties and franchises of our mother the holy church, upon pretenses of wicked and heathenish policy, to the high displeasure of Almighty God, besides the manifold treasons, abominable murders, manslaughters, robberies, extortions, the daily pilling of the people by dismes [tithes], taskes [contributions], tallages [tolls], benevolences, and other unlawful impositions and grievous exactions, with many other hainous effects, to the likely destruction and desolation of the whole realm: shall by God’s grace, and the help and assistance of the great lords of our blood, with the counsel of other sad persons, see that the commodities of our realm be employed to the most advantage of the same; the intercourse of merchandise betwixt realm and realm to be ministered and handled as shall more be to the common weal and prosperity of our subjects; and all such dismes, taskes, tallages, benevolences, unlawful impositions, and grievous exactions as be above rehearsed, to be foredone and laid apart, and never from henceforth to be called upon, but in such cases as our noble progenitors Kings of England have of old time been accustomed to have the aid, succour, and help of their subjects and true liege-men.
22. “And farther we do out of our grace and clemency hereby as well publish and promise to all our subjects remission and free pardon of all by-past offences whatsoever against our person or estate, in adhering to our said enemy, by whom we know well they have been misled; if they shall within time convenient submit themselves unto us. And for such as shall come with the foremost to assist our righteous quarrel, we shall make them so far partakers of our princely favour and bounty, as shall be highly for the comfort of them and theirs both during their life and after their death. As also we shall, by means which God shall put into our hands, demean ourselves to give royal contentment to all degrees and estates of our people; maintaining the liberties of holy preeminences of our nobles from contempt or disparagement, according to the dignity of their blood: we shall also unyoke our people from all heavy burdens and endurances, and confirm our cities, boroughs, and towns in their charters and freedoms, with enlargement where it shall be deserved; and in all points give our subjects cause to think that the blessed and debonaire government of our noble father King Edward in his last times is us revived.
23. “And forasmuch as the putting to death or taking alive of our said mortal enemy may be a mean to stay much effusion of blood, which otherwise may ensue if by compulsion or fair promises he shall draw after him any number of our subjects to resist us; which we desire to avoid (though we be certainly informed that our said enemy is purposed and prepared to fly the land, having already made over great masses of the treasure of our crown the better to support him in foreign parts); we do hereby declare that whosoever shall take or distress our said enemy, though the party be of never so mean a condition, he shall be by us rewarded with 1000 l. in money, forthwith to be laid down to him, and an hundred marks by the year of inheritance; besides that he may otherwise merit, both toward God and all good people, for the destruction of such a tyrant.
24. “Lastly, we do all men to wit (and herin we take also God to witness) that whereas God hath moved the heart of our dearest cousin the King of Scotland to aid us in person in this our righteous quarrel, that it is altogether without any pact or promise, or so much as demand, of any thing that may prejudice our crown or subjects; but contrariwise with promise on our said cousin’s part, that whensoever he shall find us in sufficient strength to get the upper hand of our enemy (which we hope will be very suddenly), he will forthwith peaceably return into his own kingdom, contenting himself only with the glory of so honourable an enterprise, and our true and faithful love and amity: which we shall ever by the grace of Almighty God so order as shall be to the great comfort of both kingdoms.”
25. But Perkin’s proclamation did little edify with the people of England. Neither was he the better welcome for the company he came in. Wherefore the King of Scotland, seeing none came in to Perkin nor none stirred anywhere in his favour, turned his enterprise into a rode [raiding expedition]; and wasted and destroyed the country of Northumberland with fire and sword. But hearing that there were forces coming against him, and not willing that they should find his men heavy and laden with booty, he returned into Scotland with great spoils, deferring further prosecution till another time. It is said that Perkin, acting the part of a prince handsomely, when he saw the Scottish fell to waste the country, came to the King in a passionate manner, making great lamentation, and desired that that might not be the manner of making the war; for that no crown was so dear to his mind, as that he desired to purchase it with the blood and ruin of his country. Whereunto the King answered half in sport, that he doubted much he was careful for that that was none of his; and that he should be too good a steward for his enemy, to save the country for his use.
26. By this time, being the eleventh year of the King, the interruption of trade between the English and the Flemish began to pinch the merchants of both nations very sore, which moved them by all means they could devise to affect and dispose their sovereigns respectively to open the intercourse again. Wherein time favoured them. For the Archduke and his counsel began to see that Perkin would prove but a runagate [loose man] and citizen of the world; and that it was the part of children to fall out about babies. And the King on his part, after the attempts upon Kent and Northumberland, began to have the business of Perkin in less estimation; so as he did not put it to account in any consultation of state. But that that moved him most was, that beinga King that loved wealth and treasure, he could not endure to have trade sick, nor any obstruction to continue in the gate-vein [vena cava], which disperseth the that blood. And yet he kept state so far, as first to be sought unto. Wherein the Merchant Adventurers likewise being a strong company (at that time) and well under-set with rich men and good order, did hold out bravely; taking off the commodities of the kingdom, though they lay dead upon their hands for want of vent. At the last, commissioners met at London to treat. On the King’s part, Bishop Foxe Lord Privy Seal, Viscount Wells, Kendall Prior of Saint John’s, and Warham Master of the Rolls (who began to gain much upon the King’s opinion), and Urwick, who was almost every one, and Risely. On the Archduke’s part, the Lord Bevers the Admiral, the Lord Verunsell President of Flanders, and others. These concluded a perfect treaty both of amity and intercourse between the King and the Archduke; containing articles both of state, commerce, and free fishing. This is that treaty which the Flemings call at this day intercursus magnus; both because it is more complete than the preceding treaties of the third and fourth year of the King; and chiefly to give it a difference from the treaty that followed in the one and twentieth year of the King, which they call intercursus malus. In this treaty there was an express article against the reception of the rebels of either prince by other; purporting that if any such rebel should be required by the prince whose rebel he was of the prince confederate, that forthwith the prince confederate should by proclamation command him to avoid his country: which if he did not within fifteen days, the rebel was to stand proscribed, and put out of protection. But nevertheless in this article Perkin was not named, neither perhaps contained, because he was no rebel. But by this means his wings were clipt of his followers that were English. And it was expressly comprised in the treaty, that it should extend to the territories of the Duchess Dowager. After the intercouise thus restored, the English merchants came again to their mansion at Antwerp, where they were received with procession and great joy.
27. The winter following, being the twelfth year of his reign, the King called again his Parliament; where he did much exaggerate both the malice and the cruel predatory war lately made by the King of Scotland: That that King, being in amity with him, and no ways provoked, should so burn in hatred towards him, as to drink of the lees and dregs of Perkin’s intoxication, who was every where else detected and discarded: and that when he perceived it was out of his reach to do the King any hurt, he had turned his arms upon unarmed and unprovided people, to spoil only and depopulate, contrary to the laws both of war and peace: concluding, that he could neither with honour nor with the safety of his people to whom he did owe protection, let pass these wrongs unrevenged. The Parliament understood him well, and gave him a subsidy limited to the sum of one hundred and twenty thousand pounds, besides two fifteens: for his wars were always to him as a mine of treasure of a strange kind of ore; iron at the top, and gold and silver at the bottom. At this Parliament, for that there had been so much time spent in making laws the year before, and for that it was called purposely in respect of the Scottish war, there were no laws made to be remembered. Only there passed a law, at the suit of the Merchant Adventurers of England, against the Merchant Adventurers of London, for monopolising and exacting upon the trade; which it seemeth they did a little to save themselves, after the hard time they had sustained by want of trade. But those innovations were taken away by Parliament.
28. But it was fatal [fated] to the King to fight for his money. And though he avoided to fight with enemies abroad, yet he was still enforced to fight for it with rebels at home. For no sooner began the subsidy to be levied in Cornwall, but the people there grew to grudge and murmur; the Cornish being a race of men stout of stomach, mighty of body and limb, and that lived hardly in a barren country, and many of them could for a need live under-ground, that were tinners. They muttered extremely, that it was a thing not to be suffered that for a little stir of theScots, soon blown over, they should be thus grinded to powder with payments: and said it was for them to pay that had too much, and lived idly; but they would eat their bread that they got with the sweat of their brows, and no man should take it from them. And as in the tides of of people once up there want not commonly stirring winds to make them more rough; so this people did light upon two ringleaders or captains of the rout. The one was Michael Joseph, a blacksmith or farrier of Bodmin, a notable talking fellow, and no less desirous to be talked of. The other was Thomas Flammock, a lawyer, that by telling his neighbours commonly upon any occasion that the law was on their side, had gotten great sway amongst them. This man talked learnedly, and as if he could tell how to make a rebellion and never break the peace. He told the people that subsidies were not to be granted nor levied in this case; that is for wars in Scotland: for that the law had provided another course by service of scutage [feudal obligation of military service], for those journeys; much less when all was quiet, and war was made but a pretense to poll and pill the people. And therefore that it was good they should not stand like sheep before the shearers, but put on harness and take weapons in their hands; yet to do no creature hurt, but go and deliver the King a strong petition for the laying down of those grievous payments, and for the punishment of those that had given him that counsel, to make others beware how they did the like in time to come. And said for his part he did not see how they could do the duty of true Englishmen and good liege-men, except they did deliver the King from such wicked ones that would destroy both him and the country. Their aim was at Archbishop Morton and Sir Reignold Bray, who were the King’s screens in this envy.
29. And after these two, Flammock and the blacksmith, had by joint and several pratings found tokens of consent in the multitude, they offered themselves to lead them, until they should hear of better men to be their leaders, which they said would be ere long: telling them further, that they would be but their servants, and first in every danger; but doubted not but to make both the west-end and the east-end of England to meet in so good a quarrel; and that all (rightly understood) was but for the King’s service.
The people upon these seditious instigations did arm, most of them with bows and arrows, and bills, and such other weapons of rude and country people; and forthwith under the command of their leaders (which in such cases is ever at pleasure) marched out of Cornwall through Devonshire unto Taunton in Somersetshire, without any slaughter, violence, or spoil of the country. At Taunton they killed in fury an officious and eager commissioner for the subsidy, whom they called the Provost of Perin. Thence they marched to Wells, where the Lord Audley (with whom their leaders had before some secret intelligence), a nobleman of an ancient family, but unquiet and popular and aspiring to ruin, came in to them, and was by them with great gladness and cries of joy accepted as their general; they being now proud that they were led by a nobleman. The Lord Audley led them on from Wells to Salisbury, and from Salisbury to Winchester. Thence the foolish people (who in effect led their leaders) had a mind to be led into Kent; fancying that the people there would join with them; contrary to all reason or judgment; considering the Kentish men had shewed great loyalty and affection to the King so lately before. But the rude people had heard Flammock say that Kent was never conquered, and that these were the freest people of England. And upon these vain noises, they looked for great matters at their hands, in a cause which they conceited to be for the liberty of the subject. But when they were comen into Kent, the country was so well settled, both by the King’s late kind usage towards them, and by the credit and power of the Earl of Kent, the Lord Abergavenny, and the Lord Cobham, as neither gentleman nor yeomen came into their aid; which did much damp and dismay many of the simpler sort; insomuch of divers of them did secretly fly from the army and went home; but the sturdier sort, and those that were most engaged, stood by it, and rather waxed proud than failed in hopes and courage. For as it did somewhat appall them, that the people came not in to them; so it did not less encourage them, that the King’s forces had not set upon them, having marched from the west unto the east of England. Wherefore they kept on their way, and encamped upon Blackheath, between Greenwich and Eltham; threatening either to bid battle to the King (for now the seas went higher than to Morton and Bray), or to take London within his view; imagining with themselves there to find no less fear than wealth.
30. But to return to the King. When first he heard of this commotion of the Cornishmen occasioned by the subsidy, he was much troubled therewith; not for itself, but in regard of the concurrence of other dangers that did hang over him at that time. For he doubted lest a war from Scotland, a rebellion from Cornwall, and the practices and conspiracies of Perkin and his partakers, would come upon him at once: knowing well that it was a dangerous triplicity to a monarchy, to have the arms of a foreigner, the discontents of subjects, and the title of a pretender to meet. Nevertheless the occasion took him in some part well provided. For as soon as the Parliament had broken up, the King has presently raised a puissant army to war upon Scotland. And King James of Scotland likewise on his part had made great preparations, either for defence or for a new assailing of England. But as for the King’s forces, they were not only in preparation, but in readiness presently to set forth under the conduct of Dawbeny the Lord Chamberlain. But as soon as the King understood of the rebellion of Cornwall, he stayed those forces, retaining them for his own service and safety. But therewithal he dispatched the Earl of Surrey into the north, for the defense and strength of those parts, in case the Scots should stir. Bur for the course he held towards the rebels, it was utterly differing from his former custom and practice; which was ever full of forwardness and celerity to make head against them, or to set upon them as soon as ever they were in action. This he was wont to do; but now, besides that he was attempered by years, and less in love with dangers by the continued fruition [enjoyment] of a crown, it was a time when the various appearance to his thoughts of perils of several natures and from divers parts did make him judge it his best and surest way to keep his strength together in the seat and centre of his kingdom; according to the ancient Indian emblem — in such a swelling season, to hold the hand upon the middle of the bladder, that no side might rise. Besides, there was no necessity put upon him to alter this counsel. For neither did the rebels spoil the country, in which case it had been dishonour to abandon his people, neither on the other side did their forces gather or increase, which might hasten him to precipitate, and assail them before they grew too strong. And lastly, both reason of estate and war seemed to agree with this course. For that insurrections of base people are commonly more furious in their beginnings. And by this means also he had them the more at vantage, being tired and harassed with a long march; and more at mercy, being cut off far from their country, and therefore not able by any sudden flight to get to retreat, and to renew the troubles.
31. When therefore the rebels were encamped in Blackheath upon the hill, whence they might behold the city of London, and the fair valley about it; the King, knowing well that it stood him upon, by how much the more had hitherto protracted the time in not encountering them, by so much the sooner to dispatch with them; that it might appear to have been no coldness in fore-slowing but wisdom in choosing his time; resolved with all speed to assail them; and yet with that providence and surety as should leave little to venture or fortune. And having very great and puissant forces about him, the better to master all events and accidents, he divided them into three parts. The first was led by the Earl of Oxford in chief, assisted by the Earls of Essex and Suffolk. These noblemen were appointed, with some cornets of horse and bands of foot, and good store of artillery, wheeling about to put themselves beyond the hill where the rebels were encamped, and to beset all the skirts and descents thereof, except those that lay towards London; thereby to have these wild beasts as it were in a toil. The second part of his forces (which were those that were to be most in action, and upon which he relied most for the fortune of the day) he did assign to be led by the Lord Chamberlain, who was appointed to set upon the rebels in front, from that side which is towards London. The third part of his forces (being likewise great and brave forces) he retained about himself, to be ready upon all events; to restore the fight or consummate the victory; and meanwhile to secure the city. And for that purpose he encamped in person in Saint George’s Fields, putting himself between the city and the rebels.
But the City of London, especially at the first upon the near encamping of the rebels, was in great tumult; as it useth to be with wealthy and populous cities, especially those which being for greatness and fortune queens of their regions, do seldom see out of their windows or from their towers an army of enemies. But that which troubled them most was the conceit that they dealt with a rout of people, with whom there was no composition or condition, or orderly treating, if need were; but likely to be bent altogether upon rapine and spoil. And although they had heard that the rebels had behaved themselves quietly and modestly by the way as they went; yet they doubted much that would not last, but rather make them more hungry, and more in appetite to fall upon spoil in the end. Wherefore there was great running to and fro of people, giving themselves alarms and panic fears continually. Nevertheless both Tate the Lord Mayor and Shaw and Haddon the Sheriffs did their parts stoutly and well, in arming and ordering the people; and the King likewise did adjoin some captains of experience in the wars to advise and assist the citizens. But soon after when they understood that the King had so ordered the matter, that the rebels must win three battles before they could approach the city, and that he had put his own person between the rebels and them, and that the great care was rather how to impound the rebels that none of them might escape, than that any doubt was made to vanquish them; they grew to be quiet and out of fear; the rather for the confidence they reposed (which was not small) in the three leaders, Oxford, Essex, and Dawbeney; all men well famed and loved amongst the people. As for Jasper Duke of Bedford, whom the King used to employ with the first in his wars, he was then sick, and died soon after.
32. It was the two and twentieth of June, and a Saturday (which was the day of the week the King fancied), when the battle was fought; though the King had by all the art he could devise given out a false day, as if he prepared to give the rebels battle on the Monday following, the better to find them unprovided and in disarray. The lords that were appointed to circle the hill, had some days before planted themselves (as at the receipt [to receive the enemy]) in places convenient. In the afternoon towards the decline of the day, (which was done the better to keep the rebels in opinion that they should not fight that day,) the Lord Dawbeney marched on towards them, and first beat some troops of them from Deptford-bridge; where they fought manfully, but being in no great number were soon driven back, and fled up to their main army upon the hill. The army at that time hearing of the approach of the King’s forces, were putting themselves in array not without much confusion. But neither had they placed upon the first high ground towards the bridge any forces to second the troops below that kept the bridge; neither had they brought forwards their main battle (which stood in array far into the heath) near to the ascent of the hill; so that the Earl with his forces mounted the hill and recovered the plain without resistance. The Lord Dawbeney charged them with great fury; insomuch as it had like by accident to have branded the fortune of the day. For by inconsiderate forwardness in fighting in the head of his troops, he was taken by the rebels, but immediately rescued and delivered. The rebels maintained the fight for a small time, and for their persons shewed no want of courage. But being ill armed and ill led and without horse or artillery, they were with no great difficulty cut in pieces and put to flight. And for their three leaders, the Lord Audley, the blacksmith, and Flammock, (as commonly the captains of commotions are but half-couraged men,) suffered themselves to be taken alive. The number slain on the rebels’ part were some two thousand men; their army amounting as it was said, unto the number sixteen thousand. The rest were in effect all taken; for that the hill (as was said) was encompassed with the King’s forces round about. On the King’s part there died about three hundred, most of them shot with arrows, which were reported to be the length of a taylor’s yard; so strong and mighty a bow the Cornishmen were said to draw.
33. The victory thus obtained, the King created divers bannerets [knights], as well upon Blackheath, where his lieutenant had won the field, (whither he rode in person to perform the said creation) as in St. George’s Fields, where his own person had been encamped. As for matter of liberality, he did by open edict give the goods of all the prisoners unto those that had taken them; either to take them in kind or compound for them as they could. After matter of honour and liberality, followed matter of severity and execution. The Lord Audley was led from Newgate to Tower-Hill, in a paper coat painted with his own arms; the arms reversed, the coat torn; and at Tower-Hill beheaded. Flammock and the blacksmith were hanged drawn and quartered at Tyburn: the blacksmith taking pleasure upon the hurdle (as it seemeth by words that he uttered) to think that he should be famous in after-times. The King was once in mind to have sent down Flammock and the blacksmith to have been executed in Cornwall, for the more terror. But being advertised that the country was yet unquiet and boiling, he thought better not to irritate the people further. All the rest were pardoned by proclamation, and to take out their pardons under seal as many as would. So that more than the blood drawn in the field, the King did satisfy himself with the lives of only three offenders for the expiation of this great rebellion.
34. It was a strange thing to observe the variety and inequality of the King’s executions and pardons: and a man would think it at the first a kind of lottery or chance. But looking into it more nearly, one shall find there was reason for it; much more perhaps, than after so long a distance of time we can now discern. In the Kentish commotion (which was but an handful of men) there were executed to the number of one hundred and fifty; and in this so mighty a rebellion but three. Whether it were that the King put to account the men that were slain in the field; or that he was not willing to be severe in a popular cause; or that the harmless behaviour of this people, that came from the west of England to the east without mischief (almost) or spoil of the country, did somewhat mollify him, and move him to compassion; or lastly, that he made a great difference between people that did rebel upon wantonness, and them that did rebel upon want.
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