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FTER the Cornishmen were defeated, there came from Calais to the King an honourable ambassage from the French King; which had arrived at Calais a month before, and was there stayed in respect of the troubles; but honourably entertained and defrayed. [2.] The King at their first coming sent unto them, and prayed them to have patience, till a little smoke that was raised in his country, were over; which would soon be: slighting (as his manner was) that openly, which nevertheless he intended [regarded] seriously. [3.] This ambassage concerned no great affair, but only the prolongation of days for payment of money, and some other particulars of the frontiers: and it was indeed but a wooing ambassage, with good respects to entertain the King in good affection. But nothing was done or handled to the derogation of the King’s late treaty with the Italians.
4. But during the time that the Cornishmen were in their march towards London, the King of Scotland, well advertised of all that passed and knowing himself sure of a war from England whensoever those stirs were appeased, neglected not his opportunity; but thinking the King had his hands full, entered the frontiers of England again with an army, and besieged the castle of Norham in person with part of his forces, sending the rest to forage the country. But Foxe Bishop of Duresme [Durham], a wise man, and one that could see through the present to the future, doubting as much before, had caused his castle of Norham to be strongly fortified, and furnished with all kind of munition; and had manned it likewise with a very great number of tall soldiers more than for the proportion of the castle, reckoning rather upon a sharp assault than a longe siege. And for the country likewise, he had caused the people to withdraw their cattle and goods into fast places, that were not of easy approach; and sent in post to the Earl of Surrey (who was not far off in Yorkshire) to come in diligence to the succour. So as the Scottish King both failed of doing good upon the castle, and his men had but a catching harvest of their spoils. And when he understood that the Earl of Surrey was coming on with great forces, he returned back into Scotland. The Earl finding the castle freed, and the enemy returned, pursued with all celerity into Scotland; hoping to have overtaken the Scottish King, and to have given him battle. But not attaining him in time, sat down before the castle of Aton, one of the strongest places (then esteemed) between Berwick and Edinburgh; which in a small time he took. And soon after the Scottish King retiring further into his country, and the weather being extraordinary foul and stormy; the Earl returned into England. So that the expeditions on both parts were (in effect) but a castle taken and a castle distressed; not answerable to the puissance of the forces, nor to the heat of the quarrel, nor to the greatness of the expectation.
5. Amongst these troubles both civil and external, came into England from Spain, Peter Hialas, some call him Elias (surely he was the forerunner of the good hap that we enjoy at this day: for his ambassage set the truce between England and Scotland; the truce drew on the peace; the peace the marriage; and the marriage the union of the kingdoms); a man of great widom, and (as those times were) not unlearned; sent from Ferdinando and Isabella, Kings of Spain, unto the King, to treat a marriage between Katherine, their second daughter, and Prince Arthur. This treaty was by him set in a very good way; and almost brought to perfection. But it so fell out by the way, that upon some conference which he had with the King touching this business, the King (who had a great dexterity in getting suddenly into the bosom of ambassadors of foreign Princes, if he liked the man; insomuch as he would many times communicate with them of his own affairs, yea and employ them in his service,) fell into speech and discourse incidently, concerning the ending of the debates and differences with Scotland. For the King naturally did not love the barren wars with Scotland; though he made his profit of the noise of them: and he wanted not in the counsel of Scotland those that would advise their King to meet him at the half way, and to give over the war with England; pretending to be good patriots, but indeed favouring the affairs of the King. Only his heart was too great to begin with Scotland for the motion of peace. On the other side, he had met with an ally of Ferdinando of Arragon, as fit for his turn as could be. For after that King Ferdinando had upon assured confidence of the marriage to succeed taken upon him the person of a fraternal ally to the King, he would not let [refuse], in a Spanish gravity, to counsel the King on his own affairs. And the King on his part not being wanting to himself, but making use of every man’s humours, made his advantage of this in such things as he thought either not decent or not pleasant to proceed from himself; putting them off as done by the counsel of Ferdinando: wherefore he was content that Hialas (as in a matter moved and advised from Hialas himself) should to into Scotland, to treat of a concord between the two Kings. Hialas took it upon him, and coming to the Scottish King, after he had with much art brought King James to hearken to the more safe and quiet counsels, writ unto the King that he hoped that peace would with no great difficulty cement and close, if he would send some wise and temperate counsellor of his own, that might treat of the conditions. Whereupon the King directed Bishop Foxe (who at that time was at his castle of Norham) to confer with Hialas, and they both to treat with some commissioners deputed from the Scottish King. The commissioners on both sides met. But after much dispute upon the articles and conditions of peace propounded upon either part, they could not conclude a peace. The chief impediment thereof was the demand of the King to have Perkin delivered into his hands; as a reproach to all Kings, and a person not protected by the law of nations. The King of Scotland on the other side peremptorily denied so to do; saying that he for his part was no competenet judge of Perkin’s title: but that he had received him as a suppliant, protected him as a person fled for refuge, espoused him with his kinswoman, and aided him with his arms upon the belief that he was a Prince; and therefore that he could not now with his honour so unrip [sic - read unripe?] and in a sort put a lie upon all that he had said and done before, as to deliver him up to his enemies. The Bishop likewise (who had certain proud instructions from the King, at the least in the front, though there were a pliant clause at the foot that remitted all to the Bishop’s discretion, and required him by no means to break off in ill terms) after that he had failed to obtain the delivery of Perkin, did move a second point of his instructions; which was, that the Scottish King would give the King an interview in person at Newcastle. But this being reported to the Scottish King, his answer was, that he meant to treat a peace, and no to go a begging for it. The Bishop also according to another article of his instructions, demanded restitution of the spoils taken by the Scottish, or damages for the same. But the Scottish commissioners answered, that that was but as water spilt upon the ground, which could not be gotton up again; and that the King’s people were better able to bear the loss than their master to repair it. But in the end as persons capable of reason on both sides, they made rather a kind of recess for some months following. But the King of Scotland, though he would not formally retract his judgment of Perkin, wherin he had engaged himself so far; yet in his private opinion, upon often speech with the Englishman and divers other advertisements, began to suspect him for a counterfeit; wherefor in a noble fashion he called him unto him, and recounted the benefits and favours that he had done him in making him his ally, and in provoking a mighty and opulent King by an offensive war in his quarrel, for the space of two years together; nay more, that if he had refused an honourable peace, whereof he had a fair offer if he would have delivered him; and that to keep his promise with him, he had deeply offended both his nobles and people, whom he might not hold in any long discontent: and therefore required him to think of his own fortunes, and to choose out some fitter place for his exile: telling him withal that he could not say but the English had forsaken him before the Scottish; for that upon two several trials, none had declared themselves on his side: but nevertheless he would make good what he said to him at his first receiving, which was that he should not repent him for putting himself into his hands; for that he would not cast him off, but help him with shipping and means to transport him where he should desire.
Perkin, not descending at all from his stage-like greatness, answered the King in few words; That he saw his time was not yet come; but whatsoever his fortunes were, he should both think and speak honour of the King. Taking his leave, he would not think on Flanders, doubting it was but hollow grouind for him since the treaty of the Archduke concluded the year before; but took his lady, and such followers as would not leave him, and sailed over into Ireland.
6. This twelfth year of the King a little before this time, Pope Alexander, who loved best those Princes that were furthest off and with whom he had least to do; and taking very thankfully the King’s late entrance into league for the defence of Italy; did remunerate him with an hallowed sword and cap of maintenance, sent by his Nuncio. Pope Innocent had done the like, but it was not received in that glory. For the King appointed the Mayor and his brethren to meet the Pope’s orator at London-bridge, and all the streets between the bridge-foot and the palace of Paul’s (where the King then lay) were garnished with the citizens, standing in their liveries. And the morrow after being Allhallown-day, the King, attended with many of his prelates and nobles and principal courtiers, went in procession to Paul’s, and the cap and sword were borne before him; and after the procession, the King himself remaining seated in the quire, the Lord Archbishop upon the greese [stair] of the quire made a long oration; setting forth the greatness and eminency of that honour which the Pope (in these ornaments and ensigns of benediction) had done the King; and how rarely and upon what high deserts they used to be bestowed; and then recited the King’s principal acts and merits, which had made him appear worthy in the eyes of his Hoiliness of this great honour.
7. All this while the rebellion of Cornwall (whereof we have spoken) seemed to have no relation to Perkin; save that perhaps Perkin’s proclamation had stricken upon the right vein, in promising to lay down exactions and payments; and so had made them now and then have a kind of thought on Perkin. But now these bubbles by much stirring began to meet, as they use to do upon the top of water. The King’s lenity (by that time the Cornish rebels, who were taken and pardoned, and as it was said many of them sold by them that had taken them for twelve pence and two shillings apiece, were come down into their country) had rather emboldened them than reclaimed them; insomuch as they stuck not to say to their neighbours and countrymen that the King did well to pardon them; for that he knew he should leave few subjects in England, if he hanged all that were of their mind: and began whetting and inciting one another to renew the commotion. Some of the subtlest of them, hearing of Perkin’s being in Ireland, found means to send to him to let him know that if he would come over to them they would serve him.
[8.] When Perkin heard this news, he began to take heart again, and advised upon it with his counsel; which were principally three; Herne a mercer that had fled for debt; Skelton a taylor, and Astley a scrivener; (for secretary Frion was gone.) These told him that he was mightily overseen [misled] when he went into Kent and when he went into Scotland; the one being a place so near London, and under the King’s nose; and the other a nation so distasted [unpopular] with the people of England, that if they had loved him never so well, yet they would never have taken his part in that company. But if he had been so happy as to have been in Cornwall at the first, when the people began to take arms there, he had been crowned at Westminster before this time: for these Kings (as he had now experience) would sell poor princes for shoes: but he must rely wholly upon people; and therefore advised him to sail over with all possible speed into Cornwall: which accordingly he did; having in his company four small barks, with some sixscore or sevenscore fighting-men. He arrived in September at Whitsand-Bay, and forthwith came to Bodmin, the blacksmith’s town; where there assembled unto him to the number of three thousand men of the rude people.
There he set forth a new proclamation, stroking the people with fair promises, and humouring them with invectives against the King and his government. And as it fareth with smoke that never leeseth [loses] itself till it be at the highest, he did not before his end raise his stile, intitling himself no more Richard Duke of York, but Richard the Fourth, King of England. His counsel advised him by all means to make himself master of some good walled town; as well to make his men find the sweetness of rich spoils, and to allure to him all loose and lost people by like hopes of booty; as to be a sure retreat to his forces, in case they should have any ill day or unlucky chance in the field. Wherefore they took heart to them, and went on and besieged the city of Exeter, the principal town for strength and wealth in those parts.
[9.] When they were comen before Exeter, they forbore to use any force at the first, but made continual shouts and outcries to terrify the inhabitants, and did likewise in divers places call and talk to them from under the walls, to join with them, and be of their party; telling them that the King would make them another London, if they would be the first town that should acknowledge him; but they had not the wit to send to them, in any orderly fashion, agents or chosen men to tempt them and to treat with them. The citizens on their part shewed themselves stout and loyal subjects; neither was there so much as any tumult or division amongst them, but all prepared themselves for a valiant defence, and making good the town. For well they saw that the rebels were of no such number of power that they needed to fear them as yet: and well they hoped that before their numbers increased the King’s succours would come in. And howseoever, they thought it the extremest of evils to put themselves at the mercy of those hungry and disorderly people. Wherefore setting all things in good order within the town, they nevertheless let down with cords from several parts of the walls privily, several messengers (that if one came to mischance another might pass on), which should adverstise the King of the state of the town, and implore his aid. Perkin also doubted that succours would come ere long, and therefore resolved to use his utmost force to assault the town. And for that purpose having mounted scaling-ladders in divers places upon the walls, made at the same instant an attempt to force one of the gates. But having no artillery or engines, and finding that he could do no good by ramming with logs of timber, nor by the use of iron bars and iron crows and such other means at hand, he had no way left him but to set one of the gates on fire; which he did. But the citizens well perceiving the danger, before the gate could be fully consumed, blocked up the gate and some space about it on the inside with faggots and other fuel, which they likewise set on fire, and so repulsed fire with fire; and in the mean time raised up rampiers [ramparts] of earth, and cast up deep trenches, to serve instead of wall and gate. And for the esclades [ladders], they had so bad success, as the rebels were driven from the walls with the loss of two hundred men.
10. The King when he heard of Perkin’s siege of Exeter, made sport with it; and said to them that were about him, that the King of rake-hells was landed in the west, and that he hoped now to have the honour to see him, which he could never yet do. And it appeared plainly to those that were about the King, that he was indeed much joyed with the news of Perkin’s being in English ground, where he could have no retreat by land; thinking now, that he should be cured of those privy stitches, which he had had long about his heart, and had sometimes broken his sleeps in the midst of all his felicity. And to set all men’s hearts on fire, he did now by all possible means let it appear, that those that should now do him service to make an end of these troubles, should be no less accepted of him than he that came upon the eleventh hour and had the whole wages of the day. Therefore now, like the end of a play, a great number came upon the stage at once. He sent the Lord Chamberlain, and the Lord Brooke, and Sir Rice ap Thomas, with expedite forces to speed to Exeter to the rescue of the town, and to spread the fame of his own following in person with a royal army. The Earl of Devonshire and his son, with the Carews and the Fulfordes and other principal persons of Devonshire (uncalled from the court, but hearing that the King’s heart was much bent upon this service), made haste with troops that they had raise to be the first that should succour the city of Exeter, and prevent the King’s succours. The Duke of Buckingham likewise with many brave gentlemen put themselves in arms, not staying either the King’s or Lord Chamberlain’s coming on, but making a body of forces of themselves, the more to endear their merit; signifying to the King their readiness, and desiring to know his pleasure. So that according to the proverb, In the coming down every Saint did help.
11. Perkin hearing this thunder of arms and preparations against him from so many parts, raised his siege and marched to Taunton, beginning already to squint one eye upon the crown and another upon the sanctuary; though the Cornishmen were become like metal often fired and quenched, churlish, and that would sooner break than bow; swearing and vowing not to leave him till the uttermost drop of their blood were spilt. He was at his rising from Exeter between six and seven thousand strong, many having comen unto him after he was set before Exeter, upon fame of so great an enterprise, and to partake of the spoil; though upon the raising of the siege some did slip away. When he was comen near Taunton, he dissembled all fear; and seemed all the day to use diligence in preparing all things ready to fight. But about midnight he fled with threescore horse to Bewley in the New Forest; where he and divers of his company registered themselves sanctuary-men, leaving his Cornishmen to the four winds; but thereby easing them of their vow; and using his wonted compassion, not to be by when his subjects blood should be spilt.
[12.] The King as soon as heard of Perkin’s flight, sent presently five hundred horse to pursue and apprehend him, before he could get either to the sea or to that same little island called a sanctuary. But they came too late for the latter of these. Therefore all they could do was to beset the sanctuary, and to maintain a strong watch about it, till the King’s pleasure were further known. As for the rest of the rebels, they (being destituted of their head) without stroke stricken submitted themselves unto the King’s mercy. And the King who commonly drew blood (as physicians do) rather to save life than to spill it, and was never cruel when he was secure, now he saw the danger was past, pardoned them all in the end; except some few desperate persons, which he reserved to be executed, the better to set off his mercy towards the rest. There were also sent with all speed some horse to Saint Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, where the Lady Katherine Gordon was left by her husband, whom in all fortunes she entirely loved; adding the virtues of a wife to the virtues of her sex. The King sent in the greater diligence, not knowing whether she might be with child, whereby the business would not have ended in Perkin’s person. When she was brought to the King, it was commonly said that the King received her not only with compassion but with affection; pity giving more impression to her excellent beauty. Wherefore comforting her, to serve as well his eye as his fame, he sent her to his Queen, to remain with her; giving her very honourable allowance for the support of her estate, which she enjoyed both during the King’s life and many years after. The name of the White Rose, which had been given to her husband’s false title, was continued in common speech to her true beauty.
13. The King went forwards on his journey, and made a joyful entrance into Exeter, where he gave the citizens great commendations and thanks; and taking the sword he wore from his side, he gave it to the Mayor, and commanded it should be ever after carried before him. There also he caused to be executed some of the ringleaders of the Cornishmen, in sacrifice to the citizens; whom they had put in fear and trouble. At Exeter the King consulted with his counsel, whether he should offer life to Perkin if he would quit the sanctuary and voluntarily submit himself. The counsel were divided in opinion. Some advised the King to take him out of sanctuary perforce, and to put him to death, as in a case of necessity, which in itself dispenseth with consecrated places and things; wherein they doubted not also but the King should find the Pope tractable to ratify his deed, either by declaration or at least by indulgence. Others were of opinion, since all was now safe and no further hurt could be done, that it was not worth the exposing of the King to new scandal and envy. A third sort fell upon the opinion, that it was not possible for the King ever either to satisfy the world well touching the imposture or to learn out the bottom of the conspiracy, except by promise of life and pardon and other fair means he should get Perkin into his hands. But they did all in their preambles much bemoan the King’s case, with a kind of indignation at his for the; that a Prince of his high wisdom and virtue should have been so long and so oft exercised and vexed with idols. But the King said that it was the vexation of God Almighty himself to be vexed with idols, and therefore that that was not to trouble any of his friends: and that for himself he always despised them, but was grieved that they had put his people to such trouble and misery. But in conclusion he leaned to the third opinion; and so sent some to deal with Perkin; who seeing himself a prisoner and destitute of all hopes, having tried princes and people, great and small, and found all either false, faint, or unfortunate, did gladly accept of the condition.
[14.] The King did also while he was at Exeter appoint the Lord Darcy and other commissioners for the fining of all such as were of any value, and had any hand or partaking in the aid or comfort of Perkin and of the Cornishmen, either in the field or in the fight. These commissioners proceeded with such strictness and severity, as did much obscure the King’s mercy in sparing of blood, with the bleeding of so much treasure. Perkin was brought into the King’s court, but not to the King’s presence; though the King to satisfy his curiosity saw him sometimes out of a window or in passage. He was in shew at liberty, but guarded with all care and watch that was possible, and willed to follow the King to London. But from his first appearance upon the stage in his new person of a sycophant or juggler, instead of his former person of a Prince, all men may think how he was exposed to he derision not only of the courtiers but also of the common people, who flocked about him as he went along, that one might know afar off where the owl was, by the flight of birds; some mocking, some wondering, some cursing, some prying and picking matter out of his countenance and gesture to talk of. So that the false honour and respects which he had so long enjoyed was plentifully repaid in scorn and contempt. As soon as he was comen to London, the King gave also the City the solace of this may-game. For he was conveyed leisurely on horseback, but not in any ignominious fashion, through Cheapside and Cornhill to the Tower, and from thence back again unto Westminster, with the churmne [loud noise] of a thousand taunts and reproaches. But to amend the show, there followed a little distance off Perkin, an inward counsellor of his, one that had been serjeant farrier to the King. This fellow, when Perkin took sanctuary, chose rather to take an holy habit than a holy place, and clad himself like an hermit, and in that weed wandered about the country, till he was discovered and taken. But this man was bound hand and foot upon the horse, and came not back with Perkin, but was left at the Tower, and within few days after executed. Soon after, now that Perkin could tell better what himself was, he was diligently examined; and after his confession taken, an extract was made of such parts of them as were thought fit to be divulged; which was printed and dispersed abroad: wherein the King did himself no right: for as there was a laboured tale of particulars of Perkin’s father and mother and grandsire and grandmother and uncles and cousins, by names and surnames, from what places he travelled up and down; so there was little or nothing to purposes of any thing concerning his designs, or any practices that had been held with him; nor the Duchess of Burgundy herself, that all the world did take knowledge of as the person that had put life and being into the whole business, so much as named or pointed at; so that men missing of that they looked for, looked about for they knew not what, and were in more doubt than before. But the King chose rather not to satisfy than to kindle coals. At that time also it did not appear by any new examinations or commitments that any other person of quality was discovered or appeached, though the King’s closeness made that a doubt dormant.
15. About this time a great fire in the night-time suddenly began at the King’s palace of Shyne, near unto the King’s own lodgings; whereby a great part of the building was consumed, with much costly household-stuff; which gave the King occasion of building from the ground that fine pile of Richmond, which is now standing.
16. Somewhat before this time also, there fell out a memorable accident. There was one Sebastian Gabato, a Venetian, dwelling in Bristow, a man seen and expert in cosmography and navigation. This man seeing the success and emulating perhaps the enterprise of Christopherus Columbus in that fortunate discovery towards the south-west, which had been by him made some six years before, conceited with himself that lands might likewise be discovered towards the north-west. And surely it may be held more firm and pregnant conjectures of it than Columbus had of his at the first. For the two great islands of the old and new world, being in the shape and making of them broad towards the north and pointed towards the south, it is likely that the discovery first began where the lands did nearest meet. And there had been before that time a discovery of some lands, which they took to be islands, and were indeed the continent of America, towards the north-west. And it may be, that some relation of this nature coming afterwards to the knowledge of Columbus, and by him suppressed (desirous rather to make his enterprise the child of his science and fortune than the follower of a former discovery), did give him better assurance that all was not sea from the west of Europe and Africke unto Asia, than either Seneca’s prophecy, or Plato’s antiquities, or the nature of the tides and land-winds and the like, which were the conjectures that were given out whereupon he should have relied: though I am not ignorant that it was likewise laid unto the casual [accidental] and wind-beaten discovery a little before of a Spanish pilot who died in the house of Columbus. But this Gabato bearing the King in hand [promising the King] that he would find out an island endued with rich commodities, procured him to man and victual a ship at Bristow for the discovery of that island: with whom ventured also three small ships of London merchants, fraught with some gross and slight wares, fit for commerce with barbarous people. He sailed, as he affirmed a this return (and made a card [chart] thereof), very far westwards, with a quarter of the north, on the north side of Terra de Labrador, until he came to the latitude of sixty-seven degrees and a half, finding the seas still open. It is certain also that the King’s fortune had a tender of that great empire of the West-Indies. Neither was it a refusal on the King’s part, but a delay by accident, that put by so great an acquest [acquisition]. For Christopherus Columbus, refused by the King of Portugal (who would not embrace at once both east and west) employed his brother Bartholomeus Columbus unto King Henry to negotiate for his discovery. And it so fortuned that he was taken by pirates at sea; by which accidental impediment he was long ere came to the King; so long, that before he had obtained a capitulation [an agreement] with the King for his brother, the enterprise by him was achieved, and so the West-Indies by providence were then reserved for the crown of Castilia. Yet this sharpened the King so, that not only in this voyage, but again in the sixteenth year of his reign, and likewise in the eighteenth thereof, he granted forth new commissions for the discovery and investing of unknown lands.
17. In this fourteenth year also, by God’s wonderful providence, that boweth things unto his will, and hangeth great weights upon small wires, there fell out a trifling and untoward accident, that drew on great and happy effects. During the truce with Scotland, there were certain Scottish young gentlemen that came into Norham town, and there made merry with some of the English of the town;and having little to do, went sometimes forth, and would stand looking upon the castle. Some of the garrison of the castle, observing this their doing twice or thrice, and having not their minds purged of the late ill blood of hostility, either suspected them or quarreled [accused] them for spies. Whereupon they fell at ill words, and from words to blows, so that many were wounded on either side; and the Scottishmen, being strangers in the town, had the worst; insomuch that some of them were slain, and the rest made haste home. The matter being complained on, and often debated before the Wardens of Marches of both sides, and no good order taken, the King of Scotland took it to himself, and being much kindled, sent a herald to the King to make protestation that if reparation were not done, according to the conditions of the truce, his King did denounce war. The King, who had often tried fortune and was inclined to peace, made answer that what had been done was utterly against his will and without his privity; but if the garrison soldiers had been in fault, he would see them punished; and the trucei n all points to be preserved. But this answer seemed to the Scottish King but a delay, to make the complaint breathe out with time; and therefore it did rather exasperate him than satisfy him. Bishop Foxe, understanding from the King that the Scottish King was still discontent and impatient, being troubled that the occasion of breaking the truce should grow from his men, sent many humble and deprecatory letters to the Scottish King to appease him. Whereupon King James, mollified by the Bishop’s submiss and eloquent letters, writ back unto him, that though he were in part moved by his letters, yet he should not be fully satisfied except he spake with him; as well about the compounding of the present differences, as about other matters that might concern the good of both kingdoms. The Bishop, advising first with the King, took his journey for Scotland. The meeting was at Melrosse, an abbey of the Cistercians, where the King then abode. The King first roundly uttered unto the Bishop his offence conceived for the insolent breach of truce by his men of Norham-castle; whereunto Bishop Foxe made such an humble and smooth answer, as it was like oil into the wound, whereby it began to heal. And this was done in the presence of the King and his counsel. After the King spake with the bishop apart, and opened himself unto him, saying that these temporary truces and peaces were soon made and soon broken; but that he desired a straiter amity with the King of England; discovering his mind, that if the King would give him in marriage the Lady Margaret, his eldest daughter, that indeed might be a knot indissoluble; that he knew well what place and authority the Bishop deservedly had with his master: therefore if he would take the business to heart and deal in it effectually, he doubted not but it would succeed well. The Bishop answered soberly, that he thought himself rather happy rather than worthy to be an instrument in such a matter, but would do his beast endeavour. Wherefore the Bishop returning to the King and giving him account of what had passed and finding the King more than well disposed in it, gave the King advice, first to proceed on a conclusion of peace, and then to go on with the treaty of marriage by degrees. Hereupon a peace was concluded, which was published a little before Christmas, in the fourteenth year of the King’s reign, to continue for both the Kings’ lives and the over-liver of them and a year after. In this peace there was an article contained, that no Englishman should enter into Scotland, and no Scottishman into England, without letters commendatory from the Kings of either nation. This at first sight might seem a means to continue a strangeness between the nations, but it was done to lock in the borderers.
18. This year there was also born to the King a third son, who was christened by the name of Edmond, and shortly after died. And much about the same time came news of the death of Charles the French King; for whom there were celebrated solemn and princely obsequies.
19. It was not long but Perkin, who was made of quicksilver (which is hard to hold or imprison), began to stir. For deceiving his keepers he took him to his heels, and made speed to the sea-coast. But presently all corners were laid for him, and such diligent pursuit and search made, as he was fain to turn back and get him to the house at Bethleem, called the Priory of Shyne (which had the privilege of sanctuary), and put himself into the hands of the Prior of that monastery. The Prior was thought an holy man, and much reverenced in those days. He came to the King and besought the King for Perkin’s life only, leaving him otherwise to the King’s discretion. Many about the King were again more hot than ever to have the King to take him forth and hang him. But the King that had an high stomach and could not hate any that he despised, bid take him forth and set the knave in the stocks. And so promising the Prior his life, he caused him to be brought forth. And within two or three days after, upon a scaffold set up in the palace-court at Westminster, he was fettered and set in the stocks for the whole day. And the next day after, the like was done by him at the cross in Cheapside, and in both places he read his confession of which we made mention before; and was from Cheapside conveyed and laid upon in the Tower. Notwithstanding all this the King as (as was partly touched before) grown to be such a partner with fortune, as no body could tell what actions the one and what the other owned. For it was believed generally that Perkin was betrayed; and that this escape was not without the King’s privity, who had him all the time of his flight in a line; and that the King did this to pick a quarrel to him, to put him to death, and to be rid of him at once; which is not probable; for that the same instruments who observed him in his flight might have kept him from getting into sanctuary.
20. But it was ordained that this winding-ivy of a Plantagenet should kill the true tree itself. For Perkin after he had been a while in the Tower, began to insinuate himself into the favour and kindness of his keepers; servants to the Lieutenant of the Tower Sir John Digby; being four in number; Strangeways, Blewet, Astwood, and Long-Roger. These varlets with mountains of promises he sought to corrupt, to obtain his escape. But knowing well that his own fortunes were made so contemptible as he could feel no man’s hopes; and by hopes he must work, for rewards he had none; he had contrived with himself a vast and tragical plot; which was, to draw into his company Edward Plantagenet Earl of Warwick, then prisoner in the Tower, whom the weary life of a long imprisonment, and the often and renewing fears of being put to death, had softened to take any impression of counsel for his liberty. This young Prince he thought these servants would look upon, though not upon himself. And therefore after that by some message by one or two of them he had tasted of the Earl’s consent, it was agreed that these four should murder their master the Lieutenant secretly in the night, and make their best of such money and portable goods of his as they should find ready at hand; and get the keys of the Tower, and presently to let forth Perkin and the Earl. But this conspiracy was revealed in time before it could be executed. And in this again the opinion of the King’s great wisdom did surcharge him with a sinister fame, that Perkin was but his bait to entrap the Earl of Warwick. And in the very instant while this conspiracy was in working (as if that also had been the King’s industry) it was fatal that there should break forth a counterfeit Earl of Warwick, a cordwainer’s son, whose name was Ralph Wilford, a young man taught and set on by an Augustin Friar called Patrick. They both from the parts of Suffolk came forwards into Kent, where they did not only privily and underhand give out that this Wilford was the true Earl of Warwick; but also the friar, finding some light credence in the people, took the boldness in the pulpit to declare as much, and to incite the people to come in to his aid. Whereupon they were both presently apprehended, and the young fellow executed, and the friar condemned to perpetual imprisonment. This also happening so opportunely to represent the danger to the King’s estate from the Earl of Warwick, and thereby to colour the King’s severity that followed; together with the madness of the friar, so vainly and desperately to divulge a treason before it had gotten any manner of strength; and the saving of the friar’s life, which nevertheless was indeed but the privilege of his order; and the pity in the common people (which if it run in a strong stream doth ever cast up scandal and envy), made it generally rather talked than believed that all was but the King’s device. But howsoever it were, hereupon Perkin (that had offended against grace now the third time) was at the last proceeded with, and by commissioners of Oyer and Determiner arraigned at Westminster, upon divers treasons committed and perpetrated after his coming on land within this kingdom (for so the judges advised, for that he was a foreigner), and condemned; and a few days after executed at Tyburn; where he did again openly read his confession, and take it upon his death to be true. This was the end of the little cockatrice of a King, that was able to destroy those that did not espy him first. It was one of longest plays of that kind that hath been in memory, and might perhaps have had another end, if he had not met with a King both wise, stout, and fortunate.
21. As for Perkin’s three counsellors, they had registered themselves sanctuary-men, when their master did and whether upon pardon obtained or continuance within this privilege, they came not to be proceeded with.
There was executed with Perkin the Mayor of Cork and his son, who had been principal abettors of his treasons. And soon after were likewise condemned eight other persons about the Tower-conspiracy; whereof four were the Lieutenant’s men. But of those eight but two were executed. And immediately after was arraigned before the Earl of Oxford (then for the time High Steward of England) the poor Prince the Earl of Warwick; not for the attempt to escape simply, for that was not acted; and besides the imprisonment not being for treason, the escape by law could not be treason; but for conspiring with Perkin to raise sedition, and to destroy the King. And the Earl confessing the indictment had judgment, [and] was shortly after beheaded on Tower-hill.
22. This was also the end not only of this noble and commiserable person Edward the Earl of Warwick, eldest son to the Duke of Clarence, but likewise to the line-male of the Plantagenets, which had flourished in great royalty and renown from the time of the famous King of England, King Henry the Second. Howbeit it was a race often dipped in their own blood. It hath remained since, only transplanted into other names, as well of the imperial line as of other noble houses. But it was neither guilt of crime, nor reason of state, that could quench the envy that was upon the King for this execution. So that he thought good to export it out of the land, and to lay it upon his new ally Ferdinando King of Spain. For these two Kings understanding one another at half a word, so it was that there were letters shewed out of Spain, whereby in the passages concerning the treaty of the marriage, Ferdinando had written to the King in plain terms that he saw no assurance of his succession as long as the Earl of Warwick lived; and that he was loth to send his daughter to troubles and dangers. But thereby as the King did in some part remove the envy from himself, so he did not observe that he did withal bring a kind of malediction and infausting [jinx] upon the marriage, as an ill prognostic; which in event so far proved true, as both Prince Arthur enjoyed a very small time after the marriage; and the Lady Katherine herself (a sad and a religious woman) long after, when King Henry the Eighth his resolution of a divorce from her was first made known to her, used some words, that she had not offended, but it was a judgment of God, for that her former marriage was made in blood; meaning that of the Earl of Warwick.
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