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This man loved the art of war from his earliest boyhood, so that it is not needful for me to recount his other kingly endowments of body in mind: that he was strong, merciful, taller than everyone else by a head, and gifted with a fine face. The fourth harvest was starting to ripen after the beginning of his reign, and the earth was baking with heat, when King Henry of England launched savage wars and scourged the cruel French in open battle. For the Bishop of Rome had incited him to wage this war. He crossed the sea and came to Calais, filling the little town with thirty thousand armed men. Choosing four leaders from his captains, warlike Talbot, daring Poynings, Rhys ap Thomas, that flower of the Welsh, and Somerset, he sent them ahead to the region of Boulogne, where stood Thérouanne with its great walls, filled with stout French soldierly. Just as in the fresh springtime the wind sweeps the earth with its blast, blowing up chaff together with the dust so that the earth is raked clean, so the English horsemen seized the livestock and collected captive herds of men and cattle. They laid waste to everything, raging with their fire and steel.
Henry followed with thirty-thousand brass-armored men and set siege to that town of the Morini. The great Emperor served under the English King with his warlike Germans, accepting nothing but bright gold for their pay. In the camp the supply or gold was so great for the soldiers that the King was obliged to mint silver coinage. This generous salary encouraged the men, their pay fired them for a fight. The pugnacious French cavalry joined battle, coming to the aid of their fellow countrymen, but their inferior force took up arms in vain and in the fight the stronger English won the palm, piercing their enemy with their lances. The walls were smashed by artillery and afforded the British an easy entry, and likewise terrified the French. In the end, Thérouanne was surrendered to the English King, decorating him with the trophy of a captured town. Winged report of the mighty King’s great virtue in arms flew through the neighboring lands. When the noble city of Tournai saw that this had occurred, it too paid Henry an agreed-upon sum of gold, voluntarily throwing open its gates and admitting the English within its walls. And behold, as a servant of new masters it accepted new laws, with Henry its ruler.
Meanwhile James, governing the land of Scotland, who for the sake of maintaining the peace had entered into a solemn truce for the duration of the French war, and who had freely sworn on the Sacraments to abide by whatever he had promised his friend, brought his raging fires into English soil, leading an army of sixteen thousand armed men, and in the absence of their sovereign cruelly wasted their fields. The Lord Surrey had been appointed Warden of the Northern Marches, and he mustered a force and as carefully selected noblemen to assist himself: the Lords Scroope, Stanley, Latimer, and others. Dacre was there, and Clifford in his painted armor, Bulmer, Butler, and Howard the Admiral, and his colleague Edmund, noble of the same stock, both armed with salt-blackened breastplates, sought to open the fight. The enemy King stationed himself atop Flodden Hill, but when he observed the serried ranks of Englishmen approaching with confidence, he rode down, either inspired by a vain desire for glory or inconsiderately ablaze with anger. He brought his vanguard with him and quickly swept against the English. The British received their harsh blows on their bucklers and stained their swords red with blood.
This close combat had now endured for three hours when the King of Scots fell, having received two wounds, with his blood paying the deserved forfeit for his treachery. Part of the Scottish army fled homeward, and part was cut down. Next, Henry came home, a victor over both nations, and happily rested in tranquil peace for many a year after these enemies had been put down. Then injury was done to the English of the North, and a Scottish embassy was sent to excuse this deed. This accomplished, it went home. Hence both the Scottish and the English complained: there was a border squabble between them and the murmur was that these two peoples could not coexist. The moon had waxed full scarce three times when a great band of spear-bearing Scotsman (some on foot, and others on horse) made an incursion during a November rainstorm, more harmfully visiting fire and steel on our people.
The high-walled city of Carlisle is situated towards the west, and being set on level ground with no hills, it commands a far view of the adjoining fields. From this and the surrounding countryside, called Cumbria, the royal Warde led out a force of two thousand in gleaming armor: great-hearted Wharton led them into the open countryside and immediately launched a sharp attack on the enemy. Chill dread overcame their fearful hearts, thanks to God’s help, and those that were defeated were laid low in the yellow sand. Part fled into the dense mountain-ash growing on the hills. The King of Scots himself, who hid under a hill, terrified by this event and the bloody slaughter of his comrades, tried to swim across a rushing stream, but the river, made higher by rains, overcame him, so drowned in its waters.
In addition to those killed or put to rout, there were captives, a great throng of men of both high and low degree, and on the following night the city of Carlisle received them into its hospitality, keeping these gloomy fellows in its custody. The commoners were chained. A little later they were ransomed, when victor and vanquished had come to an agreement, and they happily returned home. But the nobler sort were bundled offto the famous Tower of London, where they were locked up and obliged to spend their doleful first night in London, having lost all hope of liberty. After the next daybreak had banished the darkness, and pious Henry (who was never heedless of men in misery), having pondered much about human affairs, commanded that the captives, dressed in white linen (which he bestowed on them as a royal gift), were to be brought to him, politely led through the middle of London. Then he spoke a very few words about the ingratitude of their nation and complaining about the customary, or rather the innate deceit of Scotsmen. He nevertheless said this all with a calm expression, as fathers are wont to chastise when they reprimand their sons. For their part, the captives said a great deal on behalf of their nation, themselves, and their dead King, humbly asking that he give a friendly hearing to what they were about to say. Henry agreed. Then a silence fell on the chamber, and the senior captive spoke as follows.
“Oh ruler most noble among the sovereigns of Europe, whose abounding warlike virtue places among the foremost, with a settled mind we vanquished acknowledge you as our victor, nor will it ever shame us to be defeated by such a great man. What disgrace is there for the panther to bested by the great lion? If you decide we deserve worse, we admit it: you have been granted the power of life and death over us. And yet the death of captives would not at all be praiseworthy in such a great sovereign, and should we die, it would not profit your soldiers. Consider our suckling babes, our wives who are weeping for our loss as if we were dead. It will redound more to your glory to send us home, guilty as we are (if a man is guilty for doing as his master bids), rather than sending two thousand men to their deaths. We beg you, noble King, weigh the thing in the scales of justice. We have invaded the lands of this realm, and visited fire on your subjects. Have not our fellow-countrymen made atonement for this by their death? Our King lives no more, but hates opposing Mars, life, and the light of day. Possibly destiny, or rather God Himself, on Whose will all things depend, wished this to be so, I mean that in His mercy He might join in love two kingdoms, and make two previously hostile peoples to be of one mind, bound by an everlasting pact. Now an opportunity is offered for managing this thing well, which, Your Majesty, and if you seize it you will confer a blessing on both these nations. You have a single male heir, and now that our King is dead a newborn girl wields the scepter in her hands. If these two were to marry, both kingdoms would rejoice in enduring peace, the seeds of wars thus removed. What prevents this from being done, if you give your consent and ordain that for which we are asking and praying?”
He made an ending, and both sides shouted their approval, saying with a single voice that it would be a work of God if both realms were to be joined by such a bond. For the moment, the King said little, but ordered the captives to be dismissed and given gentler treatment, allowing any man’s house to be given over to their use. He likewise bestowed food, clothing, silver and gold on them, and also gave the captives golden collars. Timid deer were hunted on steep ridges, swift stags driven into nets. But nothing pleasant wholly gives delights: rustics prefer beef to partridge, and like salt ham more than dainty dishes. Thus the Scots liked their chilly regions better than ours, although they take pleasure in them all and praise them, albeit unwillingly: thus a great love for one’s homeland and native soil touches all men’s hearts, in comparison to which all other good things are distasteful. Therefore they were seized with desire for a homecoming and gained permission on condition that they promise the English King that they would act to unite the two kingdoms. On their departure the British ruler gave them horses and smilingly dismissed their persons without exacting ransom.
They were received with great cheering at the court of the Queen, which was in mourning for the drowned King. This noble princess asked the returned Lairds what was being done by the English. At first these rascals tried to dissimulate Henry’s good will towards themselves and to begrudge the monarch his praise. Next they urged the grieving widow not to bestow her little daughter to an English bridegroom, saying any foreigner would be preferable. The Queen invited in the French and other foreigners, exchanging peace for war in the hope that Fortune would grant better things than before. The Scots Lairds supported this war party with their assent, and straightway attempted battle in the border country.
The oath-breaking Scots aroused Henry’s just wrath, and the loud trumpet sounded great war. His Peers assembled, having been formally summoned, and unanimously exclaimed that an unworthy deed had been done, that there was need for avenging steel, need for avenging force. Each man promised his aid, and delay seemed unreasonable to them all, they were willing to risk their lives. So that the British people could avenge this wrong, captains were chosen: the Earl of Hertford, uncle to Henry’s son Edward, Lord Dudley (whom King Henry had appointed admiral), men of equal character and spirit, but not of equal physical strength. For the one was brawny and keen, but the other less hot-blooded and fearsome. Within a few days they had come to the enemy shore, brought on ships and enjoying a fair wind. Without delay they sprang on land, surrounded by armed soldiers, and the sailors began a sharp fight. The enemy fled this way and that. The houses, roofed with turf or thatched straw, crackled with fire when they had been set ablaze, and Leith and its environs were put to the torch. With great noise women’s howling rose and children’s screaming went up to high heaven. Nothing was not grim, the aspect of things was most wretched.
Afterwards, our men shifted camp to Edinburgh, where a great battle broke out with loud shouts. The Scotsmen struggled with might and main to lock their gates and stationed cannon packed with powder. On the one side, the Scots died by missiles, on the other the English were cut down, some stricken by swords, others dying by arrows, and many men offering resistance were run through with spears thrown from above. A number died by bullets. At length some of the English made their way into the fortified city, firing its roofs with rapid-running flames. And see, the Scots took to their heels, abandoning their guns to the English. They feared the English as doe fear mastiffs and deer dread lions. The stone battlements and house-walls remained, but everything else was destroyed by the glowing flame. Yet Edinburgh’s castle remained inviolate, ancient, great, and bristling with its hard crags, so confident and burning with desire for fame that it dared call its strength impregnable.
But results reveal the true and the false. But for the moment the King’s edicts did not permit the attempt. Therefore the English army returned home to its fellow British, its fame preceding it. It was taken off in ships, to a great fanfare of trumpets, and the fleet was returned to its usual station. After dropping anchor, the Lord Dudley entered the royal court, where he was received with handclasps and great joy, exchanging greetings with the Peers. And above all others King Henry praised his admiral, lauding his indomitable mind as well as his body, and added rewards to his praise.
The quick-moving sun had scarce traversed all the signs of the Zodiac when France provided the English with an occasion for war, for its King had lately entered into league with the dire Turks. It is very disgraceful to have to related that a Christian did this, a man who professed to the world that he was a lover of religion and claimed a reputation for his piety. Therefore the King was wholly bent on war against him, and with the support of Peers and Parliament he prudently prepared arms, leading forth men who were brave and ready for battle, and of a loyal heart. Both Lords and the ignoble commons participated, but particularly that lord in whom Suffolk delights, borne on a noble horse, splendid in his purple dress, carrying a gilded helmet with a crest. And he in whom Norfolk, wealthy in its wool trade, rejoiced took part, proudly present, a captain easy to anger, but of an unbendable will and indomitable in battle. They were joined by the youthful Earl of Arundel; by Paulet, who managed the army’s provisions; by Russell, a product of Devonshire, a land rich in tin, who led powerful men to this fight. Wales sent many, and Ireland a few, men who did not fear death or their foe once they had drawn their sword, fleet of foot and mighty of hand and heart. The North Country sent its choicest men, mounted on horseback and clad in tunics and armor, who when the rode rivaled winged birds in their swiftness. By royal command, Anthony Browne (no man better, if you consider men’s bodies, no man braver, if you consider their feats of arms) presided over the cavalry.
Many companies of men came a-flocking from all over England, together with no small number of horses who shook the ground with their hooves, and their long-lanced riders dared range afar. Now the army was drawn up and marched in a lengthy column, filling the sky with its various shouts. You could see the hills and dales filled with armed soldiers, as numerous as snowflakes dropped from the sky, with their clanging arms, and the sunlight reflected from their armor dazzled and blinded the eyes. Their uniforms, dyed by novel art, distinguished their companies, as did the flags each bore before itself, and each soldier recognized and cheered his captain’s emblem. Just as flowers growing above the grass in fresh springtime, so our army appeared in the fields, marching along dressed in its linen jackets with embroidered edgings, reflecting the sun’s brightness with it weaponry.
King Henry overtopped all others by a head, a mighty lord whether you consider his brawny arms, or his legs, encased by a craftsman in bright gold, or his manly body with its fine breastplate, overmastered by no force, pierced by no steel. The armor that protected him was brazen, and you would have sworn that Venus’ husband Vulcan had made it, or the Cyclopes working deep within the cave of divine Mulciber. For on it its maker had engraved hills and rivers, here the Ordoluci and there the Salingae, and also the Thames, heading straight for the sea. The east wind blew on the Severn and Trent, rivers whose wearied streams the ocean received into its waters. These, as well as the origin of his ancestral family, were engraved on his shining breastplate. Edward IV had his throne, there was an image of Henry VI, and not far from those two were his maternal and paternal grandfathers, and Henry VII was set next to them with his consort, a man who deservedly had the reputation of a Solomon for his prudence and piety, two virtues which furnish a just ruler with enduring fame. His helmet depicted his young son, whom savage death begrudged our land as its sovereign, and his two daughters, born to separate mothers, the heirs of the realm (thus law and right decreed) sat on the royal throne. If the King shot an arrow from his curved bow, all men would cheer him as the victor in that contest. Or if he wielded a light lance with his might, Hector (were he alive) would be defeated once more. In close combat with his enemy he wielded his lightning-like sword like an Achilles.
And all the army wished to imitate its sovereign, the inspiration of honor spurs men to accomplish great things by a display of virtue, and a soldier serving under a keen captain will prove brave. His garments, soft or sturdy, were distinguished by fringes, and the surplice he wore over his armor shone with jewels fetched from the Indies and eye-dazzling emeralds, with an addition of diamond, sapphire, and jasper. His sword-belt was woven of gold, the pommel of his sword was golden, the boss of his shield was made of gold, or of some metal yet more precious. And the fair breastplate and studded trappings of his horse showed off the art of their maker, and displayed a costliness fit for a king. Dressed in this way, the common folk did not take him for a man, but rather believed he was a god. God Almighty, Himself the ruler of us earthly folk, wishes monarchs to be held in honor, as we see pious Solomon was in his splendor.
And now, enjoying a favorable wind, the English had crossed the sea which flows through the Channel with its swelling waves, and had gained Calais, and there the King and his comrades refreshed their wearied bodies with food, until at length dark night brought slumber for these exhausted men. But the greater part remained awake, their care did not allow them rest: a delay which is small or does not exist at all seems lengthy to eager men. As soon as the sun arose from the eastern waters, the terrible trumpet sounded, every man took up his arms, and they marched against the territories of the French King. There is an ample region of France called Artois, fertile pasture land abounding in trees, which the river Scarpe produces. Here one can see Boulogne with its gleaming roofs, built on the sea and surrounded by a stone wall, unconquered by indomitable foes in earlier years. The stout English began to besiege it, surrounding it by a meager rampart so there was no hope of departure for those who remained within.
Coming from the sea with a band of sailors the Lord Dudley kept watch hard by the walls. Sailors are a dauntless breed of men, bold and daring, never gripped with chill fear of the heaving sea when it is troubled by the hard wind when it scours the shifting sand from its depths. Amidst rocks, fires, sea and land, nothing can frighten them. The admiral delighted in these sons of the seas, while for their part the sailors thought themselves blessed by such a leader, and thus like embraced like. This was one portion of the men stationed in each of the four quarters of the compass whose threats the citizenry of Boulogne had to fear. In another of these quarters they were menaced by Charles Brandon, who denied the besieged any rest during any hour of the day or night.
The pavilions of our King were pitched not far away, and from it swift arrows were wont to be shot, bringing savage fire into Boulogne’s magnificent buildings. None of our enemy lifted up his fearful eyes, within the city there was naught but ashen dread. At length the besieged Frenchmen shot down fire-arrows from their walls, stoutly warding off the blows of the English, and they attacked our men with manly feats of daring. The battle blazed up as one side was strengthened by fear and the other by thoughts of glory, as they vied in casting their iron missiles. Many men died of cruel wounds, and mostly those who were defending the lofty walls their mutilated bodies were carried into houses. This man was outstretched, almost dead, another walked with a limp, another was rendered unidentifiable when his brains were dashed out, and yet another was crushed by a hurled rock.
The traditional way of besieging strongholds featured the use of siege-engines fashioned from wood, or by an iron ram with its very hard horns, which with its bite would wrench stones from a wall. This kind of machinery plays no part in our age, more recent men have invented new arts of warfare. There is a kind of artillery, made out of iron or brass, and said to have been invented by a friar so that within a few days one can capture the strongest of fortresses, which previously you could scarcely have taken within the course of a year. First the gunner must fill the interior of the gun with an appropriate amount gunpowder proportionate to the weight of the gun, be it a smaller or greater amount in accordance with the rule of his art, and then insert a load of stone or iron and adjust the level of its muzzle. If experience did not confirm it, who would imagine how the ball is immediately shot out by the force of the explosion and flies through the air to its target, shattering the resisting wall and its strong stones? Nothing has the strength to resist a cannonball: for what can withstand it, no matter how sturdy a mass?
Encircled by these guns, the town suffered their blows. The air resounded with the noise, clouds of smoke rose up to high heaven, the earth and manmade buildings shook, as if wrenched from their foundations by a whirlwind. With a shout, our men were redoubling their rate of fire, when a portion of the wall suddenly collapsed. Heaven, sea, and the English camp itself echoed with the crash. Immediately the admiral left his station and came to headquarters, where he knelt and humbly asked for permission to be the first to climb the walls, so that no man might deprive his forces of its praise, albeit that praise was conjoined with imminent peril: glory was more important than life, and a mural crown was worth the price of death. As long as the glory was won by himself and his fellows, let him die a thousand deaths if he could be revived a thousand times. Most grudgingly our excellent sovereign granted him his wish (such was his love for the man), and consented that this might be done on the morrow.
Gaining his wish, he thanked Henry as if he had been given a great treasure. The commended his sons and his wife to the king, and quickly returned to his encampment. In his zeal, the ensuing night seemed unnaturally long, and his active mind shunned the sleep that sought to steal over him. Before the crack of dawn he summoned his servants, as was his custom, and bade them dress him in light armor. Then, quietly turning over many things in his mind, he awaited the first light of day. His sailors needed no more bidding to assemble then if they had been invited to a feast. Then Dudley began to speak in their presence.
“My indomitable band, those men who accomplish no deed in their life worthy of note appear to depart from here like an actor who has spoken no lines on the stage. We are born to bear aid to our nation with our efforts and our lives. Else, what is the point of having basely lived in this world? The earth bears its crops with ample increase, at its proper time the bountiful fruit tree bears its harvest, apple begets apple, cornel begets cornel. These things profit their owners, they profit the tillers of the fields. I can mention nothing which is without its use, no crop-bearing plant that does not confer advantage on something else. We must confess that we enjoy our life for the benefit of our nation. So is it not just for us to spend our lives for its sake? What is this life of Man, if not a peaceful dream of someone at ease? An act of virtue is most assuredly praiseworthy, and since it does not thrive when it simply exists, the warrior who takes up arms in a just cause will gain first place. Men languishing in sickness give up the ghost with protracted torments, whereas a fine death is gained in war, a fighting man dies in an instant, his spirit goes a-flying into thin air. Ourselves and all that we possess belongs to King Henry, to the rule of his divine majesty. If thundering God bids us confront impending death, if this is Henry’s will, we must obey the command with a cheerful mind. But how much nobler it would be to perform this service voluntarily rather than do our duty under the compulsion of royal decree? Everlasting glory will attach to you, and to myself, for nothing but extreme danger engenders true praise. Now pray hear the point of this speech. Our sacred council of war thinks the enemy must be attack, that ladders should be brought up and the walls climbed. In response to my lengthy entreaties this task has been assigned to me. If every one of you seizes upon this task, then know that under my leadership there is an omen of happy success.”
He ceased speaking, and with a single voice the sailors called for ladders. Threats of punishment could scarcely keep these eager fellows from attacking the walls immediately, such was their love of praise, such was the desire with which they burned. Yet pious Henry did not set such a high place on walled cites that he would purchase strongholds together with entire kingdoms at the price of his subjects’ blood. So he bade Dudley abandon his enterprise. A few days passed, and humble Boulogne put down its arms and offered Henry the olive-branch. Throwing open their gates, the Frenchmen went elsewhere and let in the English with their gleaming helmets. Six thousand of the French departed, and the English occupied their walls, together with the houses and towers of the town, and its citadels remained, but with new garrisons. When the King had assigned his bands of soldiers their stations, he appointed his great-hearted admiral Governor of the newly-conquered town. Then, in the company of his lords he recrossed the sea, happily returning home. Dudley performed his assigned task with diligence, anxiously attending to every duty, and baffled the enemies’ plans by his prudent counsels. Thanks to his cleverness, he sometimes took the French enemy unawares, and sometimes did damage to them in set battles, taking a number of captive. He put nearly countless of them to the sword, doing all these things with brilliance, so that the Dudley reputation began to spread abroad widely, and his glory became more familiar in France and more welcome to Henry.
Golden Phoebe had stood in conjunction with her brother three or four times, when the English sovereign suddenly recalled his admiral for greater tasks. The Peerage congratulated him upon his return, as did the youth of England. After a few months the rumor came a-flying that the French had outfitted a fleet to launch a hostile assault against our soil, and every man made ready to defend it. Beacons were set along the seashore, so that when they were fired a sure signal might be given, should the enemy invade our land, disembarking to fire its villages. In his rapid chariot the sun had passed through Leo, when the French ships were brought on a strong wind. Now the sea was no sea, but rather seemed to onlookers to be a shay grove of trees accidentally plunged in the waters, or a forest of mountain-ash, or a tree-filled field. In the ocean lies the sea-girt Isle of Wight, there where the south wind drives waves into the shore of England, and towards it the enemy force steered its ships.
At the ship-master’s loud command anchors were dropped from their curved prows so that every bold soldier might leap out onto the golden sand. And see, the roof of one turf-built cottage was set ablaze, and then the rustics of Wight burst forth, shooting missiles at their savage foe. Just as wild beasts that have built nests for their young use their claws to fight off predators and put them to rout (such is the boldness of mothers), so that barking mastiffs might not dare draw closer and despoil the lairs hateful to their breed, so husbands defended themselves, their dear wives and children, so they would not fall prey to the greedy Frenchmen. The men of Wight plied their arrows with greater vigor and drove off the French. You could have seen Frenchmen turning tail and being laid low as they fled. The rest, who had escaped at a dead run, boarded their ships.
It chanced that at that time the royal fleet was stationed at a nearby harbor, called Portsmouth, and from it issued sixty ships with good omens, threatening new battles against a fleet of three hundred. Swords flashed, guns flashed, the yardarms were full of men bent on doing violence the French, and the entire sky was full of the bray of trumpets. On that day the blue sea ran red, flowing with blood, but the current would have cleansed the sea of this blood, had not one of our great ships chanced to perish, destroyed by the carelessness of its crew. The French, suddenly mistrusting their men’s courage should they fight a sea-battle off our cost, set sail for home in flight. Thus the French enterprise ended in great disgrace, thus they often wage war against the English to no good effect. But in the following year a better fortune brought northerly winds, driving Henry’s fleet out on the deep, as Dudley steered it for hostile lands, having previously received his sovereign’s commands about how to conduct his entire campaign. That English sailor, well-versed in the enemy coastline and in its hidden dangers, launched skiffs from his ships, which they rowed through the surf. Then a choice band of young men under hostile banners marched in good formation (as soldiers do) and entered the town of Tréport. Whoever they met was put to the sword or shot down with a winged arrow, and stained the streets with his blood. When another Frenchmen wished to observe them from behind a shut window, having no courage to confront and fight them, he was pierced by a bullet. Every manner of weapon was employed in the bloody slaughter.
Winter was a lad of barely eighteen years, none more spirited, and at the first encounter he killed a few men at sword point. He caught sight of a boastful French captain marching along in a gold-bordered white tunic, puffed with pride almost to the point of lunacy. The Frenchman cast a javelin, inflicting no wound, and the harmless missile fell to earth. Then Winter said, “Now you will pay me the forfeit, you villain. As my wretched enemy, you will count as the firstfruits of my honor.” Without delay he closed in and ran him through at the point where the heart meets the lungs, and the dying Frenchman stained the ground with his blood. Some enemy died, some were more hesitant in pressing home the fight. The royal Lieutenant himself stood in the forefront, urging his individual comrades by name, pressing them with his exhortations, telling them they could see that there was no way to avoid the present peril. Whatever Frenchman drew close died, as he wielded his weapons with such a sure arm. Just as cattle fall back before a wrathful lion as it is seen to be ranging their meadows in its mad frenzy, alone with his cubs, filling the sky with its roars, and then stretches out, glutted after sating its hunger with the flesh of bulls, thus the Lord Dudley was a terror to the French.
And now the red fire flew up to their rooftops, and little boys and girls fled although there was no avenue of escape. At the commander’s orders the helpless common folk were spared, such being the mercy of the King of England, who above all things showed himself to be mild. When the town had been fired, the commander returned to the fleet and brought himself and his men to the English King’s palace. His considerable fame was enhanced by these great deeds of daring, and he stood in the highest favor with his sovereign, his glory was bright throughout the realm.
King Henry had lived for nearly forty years, prudently governing his people with great praise, from the time he first wielded the great scepter of the English throne, when by means of a disease coming over him God warned him that he must depart this life. Oh the great sorrow, how many pious tears the people shed, with what sad tears they drenched their cheeks! How greatly the Peers of the realm grieved for him as he lay! All of England was plunged in morning, sad and out of its wits. The physicians were of no help, their healing herbs were of no use, their medicines of no avail, their potions were offered in vain. Alas, sad death is not to be cured by any art. But before his death, since his son Edward had not yet grown to maturity, he wrote down the names of the lords to whom government of the realm was to be entrusted for a fixed time. Among these, the Lord Dudley was the first, and he tearfully supervised the burial of Henry’s noble body in a magnificent tomb.
When the King’s funeral rites had duly been performed under the supervision of the Peerage, his son was crowned in a solemn ceremony. The English unanimously acknowledged him as their lord, they recognized him his father’s heir. The noble Earl of Hertford had the title of Lord Protector, and at his nephew’s hands he received the noble dukedom of Somerset. His other uncle, Seymour, was set in charge of the fleet. Bold Dudley was created Earl of Warwick, the land of his birth, and he was not the least glory of his family. As each of these men was enhanced in wealth, enlarged in honor, and made to shine with new tokens of his virtue, he was received in the crowded palace of the new King, to the loud cheering of those without. This time contained everything: when the celebrations were concluded, the Privy Council sadly turned to serious matters, having a careful concern for affairs of state, about its strong castles and the stationing of garrisons at appointed places, and all that could be of use to the people.
Above all else, they were concerned about neighboring Scotland. Each of them recollected the treaty entered into by the Scots Lairds concerning the little girl, and hoped that the two realms could be conjoined by a faithful marriage, and that thus a lasting peace and enduring settlement could be attained. And so as soon as waning Phoebus entered Virgo, they decided to test that nation’s disposition by sending a fighting band into Scotland together with Edward’s elder uncle the Duke, assigning him the Earl of Warwick as a companion, men ennobled by martial glory, beloved by the soldiery for their virtue. And you went as a third member, Lord Dacre, under whose leadership Wales rejoiced to fight its foe — Wales was the nurse of the Dacre family, and the inhabitants of a region always give more honor to local lords. A number of lords and knights enrolled in this expedition, among whom the Lord Grey commanded the heavy cavalry because of his consummate knowledge of the art of war, and a great number of common soldiers were mustered from all manner of men. But before they entered Scottish territory, letters were sent setting forth the reason for the war, and politely requesting them to keep their word: the English would offer no hostilities if they would abide by their promises to our King. But advice given to an unwilling hearer is given in vain, it would be more useful to recite a story to deaf men. The Scotsmen cried out for arms, wanting to resort to force, caring not a whit whether this were just or unjust.
The just English cause was therefore entrusted to God Almighty, which made them bold and fearless. Therefore Somerset and his companions invaded the lands and fields of Scotland, but he spread no fire and flames, in his mildness he inflicted injury or loss on no man. Rather, content to gain fodder for his horses, he was careful not to harm anything else, lest he supply provocation for bloody warfare. Meanwhile the Earl of Arran (who governed as Regent until his Queen grew to maturity), swollen with rage, armed thirty thousand men with gleaming swords to fight the indomitable English.
On the day before the great slaughter, bold Warwick chanced to be riding across a broad plain on his white horse, where he challenged some armed enemies to battle. So the Scots and the English rode various circles around each other, boldly wielding their lances. This man fell, pierced in the gut with steel, as did that one, his breast run through with a great spear-point. One horse ran about with an empty saddle, its rider thrown off. Another dying man clung to his steed, striking the ground with his head. Bolder than all the other Englishmen, Dudley pierced the breasts of more than a few. Thick clouds of dark dust arose, it was as dark as during a rainstorm.
At length, pressed by our men, the enemy began to quit the field, and our eager fellows to return to their standards, bearing spoils. Now scarce a quarter of the day remained, as Phoebus hastened his sinking chariot to plunge into the western sea. And behold, a messenger came from the enemy camp, begging permission to say a few words to the English commander. Admitted into the Duke of Somerset’s pavilion, in the presence of the full assembly, and given leave to speak, he spoke thus. “Why harry our realm? What right do you have over this land? Is this the duty of a neighboring nation, to trouble its harmless people by the sword? Either put down your arms and promptly depart, or vengeance for your invasion will be at hand. For a great army of our strong countrymen is assembled, and I pronounce that savage war will be waged against you on the morrow, unless you hastily depart our territory. War, alas, is not fought without bloodshed. How much blood does victory cost? How many grieving widows will grieve for their killed husbands, lying alone in their empty beds? How many fathers will drag out a wretched old age, bereft of their dear sons? I shudder to speak of this, nor will you suffer it with impunity.
“So the Regent of Scotland, moved by fatherly piety towards his nation, bids me repeat his words to Somerset. Since both of them have assumed the government of their realm, let them be moved by the common well-being of their peoples. He will still be mild and grant the English peace: if you are willing to retreat, ingloriously returning homeward with arms set aside, this provocation can seem slight. If you fail to do this, you must expect slaughter and the extremities of a hard-fought battle, such is the force of our weapons. Furthermore, the Earl of Huntly bids me tell Somerset that, so there will be no great spilling of Christian blood, he requests the two of them to fight a single combat in the sight of both armies. Thus the controversy can be settled with small bloodshed. The contention will be ended by the death of a single man, with battle avoided.”
He had scarce ceased speaking when the royal uncle replied, “Pray reply that I have entered your realm to dictate terms of peace, not to receive them. Then, when the occasion was offered, was the time for the Scots to employ prudence, now they are contriving pointless schemes. As for the fact that the Earl of Huntley insolently challenges me to a single fight, he is swollen with his usual arrogance. It is the private soldier who fights, he does not exercise command. Were I private man, I would be the first to fly to arms.”
Dudley took up the Duke’s words with the following speech. “Your slippery faith and lying tongues have obliged us to invade Scottish land against our wills. God’s anger spurs our men to take revenge on your crime, God supports our endeavors. If you keep your promises, we do not come as enemies, and we shall do nothing that friends are not accustomed to do. But if you take up arms and prepare for violence, as is happening, you will learn you are dealing with sturdy folk. What sane man refuses to laugh at empty threats? Do you imagine you will terrify Englishmen with your hobgoblins and saucy words? You are quite wrong, these vain things frighten children. Your mind presages a coming slaughter, and in your forecasting you will have cause to regret the sad deaths of your men, as this shows God is angry at oath-breakers and is giving our soldiers a happy omen. This is the selfsame Lord of Hosts who granted little David to kill a monstrous giant by striking him in the forehead with his slingshot. God, the author of this just contest, will never abandon those who revere Him. And yet (to be wise and omit other considerations) I am wondering about this, where the Earl of Huntley obtains the self-confidence to dictate terms to his betters as if he were their superior, although he is the lesser in honor and rank. Why does he, an Earl, challenge a man who is a Duke and an uncle to our King? But this nation is swollen with its pride. So if your nation has this zeal for a fight, quickly take these words back to this Huntley: in my nation I am an Earl, equal in honor to one of yours. My honor is Warwick, my fame is spread throughout Europe. Granted that castles built at the feet of mountains adorn his name and he is born of ancient stock, if rank is to be considered, we are equals in honor.
“In the morning, when the Titan has first shed his light on the lands, I shall await the proud Earl of Huntly. I shall fight him in single combat, even in an unarmed fight. If he refuses, let him come on with better forces, either foot or horse, I am determined to confront him. I shall meet him naked, if he is such (save for a loincloth, for nature loves decorum). Let ten Englishmen fight ten Scotsmen, or let the Scotsmen fight their neighbors, as you choose. I am ready for a single fight. Let my nation prevail, if I conquer. If otherwise, let the English companies return to their nation, having suffered a reverse. Let either my death or his put an end to our quarrel and bring peace to our two realms, it is a fine thing to meet death by a wound. Let Huntly accept this opportunity for a fight, if he wishes. Tell him that tomorrow I am at his service.” Saying these things, he gave the messenger a great sum of the yellow gold, so that he might carefully repeat his words to Huntly, adding these words. “If your Earl agrees and consents to fight me at dawn, pray return to him tonight and make this report, and I shall give you this much gold again.” When he said this, the assembly of lords unanimously agreed.
Word spread abroad how the bold Lord Dudley had challenged the Earl, and the entire camp rang with cheering, the Englishmen took heart and the army praised great-hearted Dudley. The sun’s light was shining on the western horizon, our camp flashed with campfires, and scouts sent out reported that the countless enemies in shining armor had pitched camp in a place nearby. Through the dark of night our guardians exercised greater care, chosen by lot to keep watch by night. The rest of or men, refreshed by quiet sleep and a meal, awaited the dawn under arms, when lovely Aurora would abandon her rosy bedchamber and restore her shining light to the world. In vain the noble Lord Dudley awaited Huntly’s arrival, nor did the messenger return, although he had been offered gold.
At length, with half the day now passed, the Scottish ranks appeared in a valley, drawn up for battle, and under banners marched in hostile order against the English. Our men climbed a great interposed hill, so as to gain better ground for a battle. The pugnacious leader of the cavalry was stationed on the left, while the right (where the fleet lay) was protected by marshland. Warwick had the vanguard, drawing them out in a lengthy line. The second rank belonged to you, Somerset, and Dacre had the third.
And now the two armies drew close to each other, and the trumpets filled their air with their fearful blast. There arose a clash of arms and shouting of men. The sea does not resound so much when it assaults the resounding coastline and its rocks after Aeolus, that master of the winds, loosens his reins and releases those quarreling brothers from his dark cave. On the opposite side, the panting Scots labored up the hillside, covering it with their serried ranks, banding together with linked arms. Then their furious squadron of heavy horse swept in with their fierce lances, and their first rank fell and gave up the ghost, riddled with missiles. But the remaining horsemen spurred their mounts again. The Lord Grey, their leader, was gravely wounded in the face during the first onslaught. Mars inspired all the English army, firing their hearts, and their strength for dealing out wounds increased. In accordance with the plan, the royal fleet stood at anchor along the shore not far away, and from it were fired cannonballs and red-hot chain shot. Fourteen thousand Scotsmen died, and the rest sought safety in flight. With its hoarse call the trumpet sounded the recall for our weary men, and happily they returned to their tents. Oh what happiness and joy there was in the camp that night! It is sweet to remember an earlier effort, a pleasure to recall in security that you have escaped great peril. But God’s great mercy was our chief support. Our just God is the avenger of an unjust cause.
The next day dawned, and it was reported that the leading Scottish nobles and their Lairds had fled through the trackless wastes. Some had betaken themselves to high hills, others to castles, and the enemy army was nowhere to be seen. Winter drew on, the days grew shorter, and cloudy Orion arose in the sky. Therefore our men broke camp and returned home, prepared to await a more opportune season. On his return Somerset was congratulated, as was Dudley, the Earl of Warwick. Our choice young noblemen returned twice-welcome, the king was eager to shake their hands. All of his friends were embraced, their excellent spirit and manly courage received praise.
Meanwhile in the month of December the Scots Lairds, prideful in their inconstancy and envy, hoping to dash English hopes, by unanimous consent sent an embassy to the French asking that the heir to their King marry that Scottish girl, the daughter of King James. If Henri did not like this offer to unite their nations by this marriage, at least let the French sovereign consent to this: since mutual affection had long bound together the two nations of France and Scotland, let him not allow one of them to be torn apart by war, or fall under foreign rule. To this end the savage English were waging their cruel wars, and in the springtime they would launch their fleet and send an army by land. The English were aiming at this one thing, to wrest the heir to the Scottish throne from the arms of her dear mother. If she fell prey to the English, oh the woes of the Scottish realm! For this unlucky nation there would be nothing left but to weep. Wherefore, in the name of all the saints and of their ancient friendship, Henri should be aware that he needed to get his hands on the girl first, for who is unaware that danger exists in delay? If the royal girl were to live her first years at his court, and receive her youthful education there, there would be great hope for future good, which would serve to help both their nations. And afterwards, when she attained marriageable age, she might be bestowed on a bridegroom of the French King’s choosing.
Immediately the French fleet was readied by royal decree, with its galleys made swift by sail and oar. After having left port with a southerly blowing, they crossed the sea to the shore of Scotland. Mary the heir was fetched to the painted ships with speed, were there was an elegant cabin outfitted for her, with a purple bed and cushions stuffed with down, decorated with embroidered tapestries, chased silver plate, and much else worthy of a maidenly sovereign. The pretty girl took ship in the company of a bevy of ladies-in-waiting and stout soldiery, and when the breeze filled their sails she was carried to sea, as their ships plowed the water. The line they formed was like a procession of swans on fish-filled waters, while one follows another and a third follows it, stretching out in a long line. The fleet would perhaps have fallen into an English ambush: had not the King himself forbidden an encounter (as he did), and had not the majority of his Privy Council not been of the opinion that for just and weighty reasons no sea-battle should be fought, the girl might have been captured, even against the will of the French. Within a few days she attained the French shore and was established in Henri’s lofty court. Thus their promises, lighter than a feather, make the Scots nation infamous, and from time to time they pay the price for their perfidy with blood, as they have in the past.
Meanwhile, under a show of friendship the King of France seized the small island of Alderney, bringing with himself two thousand armed. This place was a small island. Energetic Winter was sent there with a few ships for the purpose of driving off the timid French, in accordance with the will of the Duke. As soon as the English caught sight of the island, they dropped anchor in the heaving sea. Eight hundred of their company were selected, all English. At Winter’s command these boarded skiffs and swiftly rowed ashore. Here he acted with wisdom (for experience makes us prudent) to ensure that there was no hope of shameful escape, and so that the courage and strength of his men might be increased.
Therefore, after his armed band had been landed in safety, Winter ordered the skiffs to return immediately to the fleet, empty of men, and then spoke as follows. “The virtue of the English, celebrated in bygone years, advises me to imitate my ancestors in holding death in scorn, death which is summoned by old age or bitter disease with its dire torment. Death is something to be held in contempt by men, so that their enduring fame may be nourished. See how we are surrounded by the sea on all sides. The enemy is present, perhaps a little more numerous than ourselves, but destined for defeat thanks to our skill in war and our strong arms. The French are a vigorous race, but this crew here is feeble and slack. Imagine that our enemy were a very strong force, we should still have to cut our way through them with our bodies and arms. Great achievements are not lacking in great danger. Amidst doubtful matters, noble boldness is an advantage, and, since it is greater and fiercer in your hearts, my dear friends, I am determined to die in battle today, if our enemy are not subdued by death or flight. Today we must either conquer or die a fine death. Brave men seek a fair death by means of suffering fair wounds, and death is the price we pay for possessing these bodies of ours. If anybody should turn tail today (God forfend!), let him shamefully run away to die in the middle of the sea. For there is no skiff or rowboat to help him (oh the shameful disgrace!), not if I myself, his commander, should come along with him. If anybody should act thus against my orders, he will die swinging from a yardarm in the breeze. With great courage I shall march before you, the first captain to begin the fight, standing in the forefront in battle, and this hand will kill the first Frenchman I encounter.”
He spoke, and they happily agreed to devote their efforts and their lives to the enterprise. Quickly there arose a shout, the trumpet sounded, and he ordered them to form ranks. Winter marched at their head, clasping a sharp-pointed spear, his body clad in shining armor. Two thousand Frenchmen were gathered against him, and their captain was unsure whether to imitate ours in going before the rest, relying on his proud courage, or whether he should make a show of a brave heart but perhaps beat a retreat if he saw any danger. But Winter did not allow this fierce leader to sneak away: just as when Jove’s tireless eagle espies a flock of swift-flying birds, and neglects the little ones but savages the greater, feeding on their plucked bodies, thus the swift Englishman challenged the French captain. Since his armed enemy had entered the field bearing a spear, with the same weapon Winter flew at the Frenchman, got the better of him, and laid him low in the golden sand. As victor he gathered the spoils.
Meanwhile the two forces joined battle with loss of blood on both sides, wound was repaid with death-dealing wound. Their limbs pierced with arrows, the French took to their heels. The island was taken by force, surrendered to the victorious English. After these events, by order of their commander the ship-masters steered for home waters, and among the soldiers there great talk about the savage fight to the applause of one and all, attesting the happy joy that victories are wont to bring. Little England grew great among foreign nations, ennobled at home and abroad by its manly feats of daring. English youth were famed for their success, homes were filled with song, flutes played in the streets. Happy folk tripped measures on grassy lawns.
No man can long remain happy in all respects: ill fortune follows after good, just as the the blustering south wind blows up and rain blackens the clear sky. Then Phoebus hides his face behind thick cloud, yet soon the storm ends and he shines bright once more. In the same way, every commonwealth sometimes commits offences, roiled by base tumult. Yet this is ended by a sovereign’s ripe prudence and, just as a physician offers his patient a concoction of flavorsome herbs and heals him easily with no sharp pain, so a prince offers pardon to his mad citizens, as he aims to correct his rebellious people. Or else a careful prince uses the knife to cut away the diseased parts so that plague might not spread further and spoil the entire body with its venom. At length the people abandon their sedition, either persuaded by pious admonitions or compelled by force of arms. For, not otherwise than a cultivated field worked by the curved plow brings forth tares as well as crops, so wealthy England sometimes produces ungrateful subjects.
For while Edward was ruling amidst profound peace, tin-bearing Devonshire armed its peasantry against the Peers of the realm and its consecrated priests. These fools were lacking in reason, they wanted and demanded any old thing at all. When they took up arms they were put down by Grey supported by a company of horse, and by the Lord Russell and a handful of soldiers, who emerged victorious, not without considerable bloodshed.
And see, another scurvy rabble arose in another part of the kingdom, men who had no concern for the law or the commandments of heaven, who could not be constrained by awe of their king. They took up arms, ready to do violence to their neighbors, throwing everything into confusion. The man respectable for his nobility was held in contempt, the ignoble mob held sway without any counsel. Norfolk bred this monstrosity. On light wings, rumor that some disloyal rebels had mutinied flew through the air and came to King Edward's young ears.
There is an ancient place adjacent to the city of Norwich, hilly and planted with many shady mountain-ash trees. Here the plaguey crew assembled, and a great number of them camped out on its fields. Just law forbade such assemblies, and our noble King initially thought they should be given rough handling, but mercy convinced his very mild heart he should spare this wretched folk. Therefore in his grace he would forgive their crime, if only they would repent. Sealed charters were granted. But, as they say, his offers fell on the deaf ears of these rustics, and they blindly rejected the proffered pardon. They burned with love of innovation and an unhappy battle-lust: being inexperienced in war, they thought it useful and pleasant, although after it was too late they had a taste of it and discovered it is bitter. Therefore, with the consent of the Peerage, the disloyal crew was adjudged the common enemy of its nation and sovereign, arms were lawfully put in readiness, as were foot soldiers, and others were outfitted with swift horses. The noble Earl of Warwick was sent to subdue this rabble by waging war: at the time he was in excellent physical condition, strong of mind, and having learned by the experience of many a battle how excellently the English soldier can perform when he joins battle and spiritedly lands his blows.
The third day had dawned when the Lord Dudley pitched camp in the flowery fields next to Norwich, together with his comrades and the strong force which had come from London. As soon as the peasants heard of this, they were stricken with fear and began to hide themselves in thick forests, never creeping out. After their boldness increased, at a time when their panic had been set aside, they erupted into the open plain. Nobody seemed mindful of their imminent peril: they were standing in arms behind circled wagons, and on the other side the royal army came on in high spirits, to the blare of its bugles. A sharp fight erupted between the two forces, fierce Warwick pressed them more violently, inflicting wounds. In the end, when the rabble’s sense of shame forbade them to escape danger by quitting the field, the prospect of certain death emboldened the rebels. Part of them fell fighting. Some could not be put down save by an extreme show of force, but here Dudley the commander interposed to prevent them from being killed to the last man, for they were men of perverse character but of great heart, whom no danger could cow into fleeing the field. He sent out a herald, who loudly proclaimed that if anyone would cast aside the traitorous arms he had taken up and freely beg for pardon, he might go home with a grant of pardon. Hearing this, the common folk immediately put down their arms, knelt, and asked for forgiveness: it was moved by ruefulness. Then the clemency of the Earl of Warwick was so great that he freely remitted the fine for their felony, granting amnesty for whatever had previously been done.
And now no Englishman existed who was ready to join in this Battle of the Giants. Every subject was ready to stand by his faith towards Edward and his nation. The royal court received Dudley on his return from this deadly battle, for on sounding wings his fame had already flown through the steepled towns of the realm, telling the excellent things he had already done during the reign of Henry, when he crushed our stout enemies in war, reckless of death, undaunted by any arms, never caring a whit about risking his life, if his King had so commanded. Oh, how often he had gained the trophy with high praise, returning home from foreign shores, his enemies either killed or sent back to their homes! And therefore, with God speeding his enterprises, over many years the Lord Dudley had gained great glory and enduring fame. Hence he was deservedly promoted to the highest honors. When the King created him a Duke, Northumbria smilingly embraced him as its own, and with great dutifulness he performed the office of Great Steward of our sovereign’s worshipful court, serving as the master of his household, until cruel Atropos cut the thread of the King’s life.
Schooled since the time he was weaned, noble Edward quickly imbibed the Liberal Arts from his learned tutors, and, adding Greek to his Latin, made such progress within a few years that he was second to no highborn sovereign England had ever produced. No man could match him in his attainment of learning and the fostering virtues, if you consider the precocious intellect of a boy who had not yet completed his seventeenth year. He was the Phoenix of Europe whom by a bitter disease (just as a springtime flower is plucked in a garden) untimely death stole from the English before his time. Thus boys and lads die in their early years when our Lord God has chosen to embrace them with His sweet love.
MARY AND PHILIP
A woman took up the scepter as successor to the dead King. Her name was Mary, one of the two sisters born of Henry, and a few days thereafter she was wed to her foreign-born kinsman Philip, a marriage that somewhat saddened the English. For you could scarcely ever see these two nations being of one mind, usually being drawn in different directions by considerations of national interest and affections. While this new husband was taking delight in his bride in the company of a fair bevy of purple-clad Peers with emeralds, fetched from the Indies by a wandering merchant, sparkling on their golden hems, the sun hastened his course and abandoned the house of Leo, and, passing through several signs of the Zodiac, passed the winter solstice, at the time the mountains were covered with white snow. Sweet peace obtained between the two nations of France and England, and likewise Philip had joined the Spanish and the Flemish into one people. Since the solemn festival of Christmas, observed in December, had rendered all men heedless of deceitful fraud, quietly hatched by our enemy in the night. King Henri of France, drawn on by his youthful hot blood and greedy for fame, took hope, imagining that Philip was of no account, or at least the half of a man. Suddenly he violated their treaty and set the fields of Flanders ablaze, stealing its cattle and taking its common folk prisoner.
This made the Spanish King wrathful and aroused the savage ire of his lords. It was not yet the season when Ceres is wont to raise her tall head aloft and the land to provide fodder for cattle, nor had heat yet scorched the earth, when a soldier could sleep under an open sky. And so, until the season they craved was at hand, the fleet was outfitted, swords, spears, arrows and armor were prepared, and meat, wine, and bread were purchased . So that plenty of provisions would be available for the soldiery, coinage was stored up in the bursting fisc, so that much could be paid out as salary for fighting men. A warlike army was mustered from all quarters, in a accordance with a mandate sent the Peers of the realm by Philip’s command. Meanwhile Philip’s fair consort, bent on providing her husband with loyal help, sent Henri of France a declaration of war, adding stern threats against his nation. All of France howled with fearful tumult, whereas all England howled with excitement for savage war. Flanders and Aspurgus, all of Burgundy, the Tyrol, and wealthy Spain furnished a number of captions and those whom the terror of Mars had made experienced in many things. They were all conspicuous for the long crests on their helmets and the brasswork on their iron shields. The Duke who took his title from the honor of Brunswick was present in his black armor, with his band of horsemen. At first sight, this force was a terror to the enemy, and it laid low many a man by the force of its cavalry. Germany sent choice gentlemen, a steel-clad army and companies of footmen. Nor were bloodthirsty Italian soldiers lacking, nor Dalmatians, and the Hungarian was not absent from the fight. But above all others faith was placed in the armor-clad English. Their old treaty of friendship required this, as did Philip’s wife, who shared her husband’s danger. In the lead was the Earl to whom Pembroke had granted his title, together with the three Earls whom Worcester, Bedford, and Rutland had adorned with their honors and raised to lofty heights. With them came Anthony Brown, son and lawful heir to that Anthony who had been promoted to that same rank for his good deeds. Dudley’s sons joined them in taking up arms, showing the nobility of their stock. The palm-tree does not know how to be kept down, but is a tree that always grows higher as long as someone frees its trunk and branches of their weight. Martial praise brings fame, honors are sought in battle. By this a sovereign’s love and good will are gained, as is popularity, if only a man consecrates his life to hearth and home, shunning no dangers for the sake of his sovereign, ready to endure any death. If nobody existed to teach it, this was innate in the Dudleys: they imbibed it together with their mother’s milk, such is the value of being born of excellent stock. So these three brothers freely came, rejoicing in their armor.
The first of these was Ambrose, delighting in his fine body and broad shoulders, wearing purple raiment over his gold-wrought armor. At his side, joined by the mutual bond of brotherhood so that one would defend the other, rode Robert, a brother born under a happy store, mild of manner yet brave and daring of nature. The third brother to share this close bond was Henry, trusting in his courage and free of fear. These three all had the smooth cheeks of striplings, and bodies such as the earth rarely brings forth. There had been a fourth brother, but untimely death took him away in his youth, done in by a furtive disease and the unkindly Fates. He would have equaled his father and forebears in lofty honor, second to none of his ancestors in accomplishing praiseworthy deeds. You would have said the man had the brawn of a Hercules. His strength was surpassing, whether he was on horse and tilting with the lance, or testing his powers in a wrestling match. The taste of a ripe autumn apple is dictated by the sap within its tree. Thus these boys, born of Dudley blood, resemble their forebears in all respects, both those in the Spanish camp and the one taken away by the fatal Sisters. Furthermore, a number of men distinguished by knighthood took up arms against the French, and ten thousand men followed these lords.
Now the day was at hand when the martial trumpet blew, calling together these diverse nations, and the timely season advised that the stalks were heavy with their summer grain, and the fields thrived with green grass to serve as happy fodder for the war-horse. Every corner of France was strong with castles made of rough stone or hewn out of living rock, and on all sides it flourished with fortified cities in the direction of Spain, or facing the icy Alps, or towards the fiery sun’s rising. Rightly savage France rejoiced in its towns, defended by moats and high walls. Here there is a city to which you give your famous name, St. Quentin, and it has land of fertile glebe, being very productive of grain and of wine. In its fields Philip and his comrades encamped, while the city, encircled by his men, was suddenly stunned by fear, and in its folly it was too late in asking the help of the French King. For part of our forces began to dig trenches, part to reinforce their rampart with earthworks, and part to apply ladders to the wall and give over the rooftops to Vulcan. Others beat at the walls with a ram.
But meanwhile nobody perceived a furtive scheme. The Constable entered the city by night with a number of Frenchmen laden down with bags of gunpowder. While you did well enough with this entry into the town, your intended enterprise did not go off equally well for you, Duc du Memorancy, Leading an army of eighteen thousand, and hoping that he would be safe when marching along byways until he could enter the time, he came across some strong squadrons of yours, noble Duke. The better part of his army was killed, the rest fled, and victorious Brunswick received the prisoners. Taken captive, the noble Duc was quickly brought before Philip, amidst a great outburst in the camp as great shouts of joy went up and all heaven resounded. Everybody took this as the first omen of a successful war, and the soldiers vied with each other in bringing up guns to demolish the walls. The moat was filled with rubble and, their binding cement broken by the great force of the shot, three parts of the wall collapsed, so that in different quarters ample and easy entrances gaped open. Quickly the king selected choice troops from the contingent of every nation, dressed them in white, and commanded them to draw their swords and enter the city where the stones had been blasted away and there was ready entry. The air was thick with their shouts, thumping drums and blaring bugles: the sound was deafening to the soldiers. Here the keen Germans pressed forward, there the fickle Italians, and in that part the Spaniards tried to break through the wall, as in another quarter the armed company of English surged forward.
Before the others ran Lord Henry Dudley, hoping to dash past the walls, together with both his true-hearted brothers. But while he was bent over, intent in picking something up, a brass cannonball dashed out his brains and stretched out his corpse in the dirt. As is the custom of a Christian nation, his weeping comrades carried his linen-wrapped corpse back to the camp. His brothers burned with a dire love of revenge, so that whatever enemy was unlucky enough to encounter them was cut down. The aroused English blazed with wrath, fired by their black bile. Every where the assault on the wretched townsmen was hot. A large throng of men were dispatched to Hell, and throughout the city pale death terrified its inhabitants. That Frenchman who suffered a would curable by healing herbs is deemed fortunate by the rest. With their great lamentations the women sent up their wails, shivering and holding their babes in their arms, driven back and forth and out of their minds with fear. The barbaric horror of fighting possessed them, and they raised their hands heavenward, offering many silent prayers to our merciful God. Sad old men who had lost the natural moisture of their heads were unable to weep and could only groan deeply. The storming went on until midday with continuous fighting thanks to the great courage of Philip’s soldiery, not without copious bloodshed of the townsmen. In their timid minds they feared that catastrophe was overhanging their city and that the fatal hour was at hand.
And now the gates were opened and the army had entered the city. Wretched with chill dread, some of the townsmen hid themselves in dark cellars, and others in attics. The greatest number sought out the shrines of the Saints, thrice-miserably clinging to their altars in the belief this was a safe asylum. With his armed soldiery, the victor gained the city’s strongpoints, his battalions won mastery of its great homes, now emptied of their old owners, serving well under you, noble King Philip. The French wealth was plundered, their garments and gold, and their artfully engraved plate of pure silver. Cheering Spanish troops wrenched open money-chests, Germans tore down tapestries, feather-mattresses were brought into the avenues and sold to who chanced to have money. Wool and linen clothing was scattered throughout the streets, kitchen utensils and pewter tableware were auctioned off for a couple of pennies. Any precious property that existed in the city or elegant pearls kept by ladies in their jewelry-cases fell prey to the victors, and the air rang with praises of Philip, as they said he was his imperial father’s equal in honors.
Meanwhile the glum townsfolk, gathered in Saints’ chapels and wretchedly huddled in holy churches, expected impending death with quaking hearts. For the citizenry could look for no salvation, having experienced warfare and being forcibly conquered by their enemy. But God moves men’s hearts, and the minds of Kings are in His hands. He sways them as He wills, softening their hearts for works of piety just as a craftsman employs heat to melt wax into various shapes. Hence Philip’s royal mind grew calmer by God’s intervention, he was appeased and freed of all sense of injury, and he ordered his men to hold their hand from killing.
And now many captives of both sexes were herded together, and the throng of tender-aged children and servants were dismissed. But the wealthier sort were kept in custody, in accordance with the laws of war. Among a number of noblemen was the Constable, who had been appointed Governor of the city by his King and was held prisoner for ransom. Establishing a garrison there, Philip shifted camp to the Castle of Haune, and, quickly storming that, he captured other fortresses.
While these things were being done in east France, meanwhile industrious Clinton, born of noble stock, brought his fleet to its west coast. On the vast deep you could have seen three hundred ships, touching the sky with their lofty topmasts. Cannonballs went a-flying from his guns, defending the sides of each ship and threatening cruel death to the French enemy. The sea washes noble Conquêt with its salt waters, and when they had come here and the signal had been given from the admiral’s quarterdeck, sailors sprang forth and landed ashore. Winter reached land before all the rest, setting rooftops ablaze with his ruddy fire, and the rushing flames licked at the walls. And it was not just the wood of the houses that fueled the fire: jars of oil redoubled the fire, the inhabitants took to their heels, the walls fell down in ruins, women wailed, babes howled, and, since resistance was impossible, and men of fighting age fled through trackless wastes. Clinton was hunting after martial glory, not spoils, so the city and its wealth were put the the torch. They lay in ashes as cinders were wafted to towns nearby. Bold Clinton encamped in hostile fields, and afterwards the returned to ships, enlarged with great honor.
These things were accomplished in August. Then, in cold December, unhappy Calais was surrendered to French besiegers (an unspeakable crime!), because it was behind held by a feeble throng. Most were helpless, there were handful of soldiers within the city, and a handful cannot withstand many. This old fortress had been neglected, and a womanish sovereign had relied on the damnable advice of a windbag of a Bishop, now that her husband was overseas. Add to these considerations that sea was wind-tossed and angry, and that Calais lay far beyond the sea: these things could have handed the city over to the French even if they did not want it. With her Spanish husband’s town lost, his consort pined way, and anxious care consumed her with its sick torment.
Mighty Queen Elizabeth was immediately set on the throne, the great King’s second daughter. In her early years she had been instructed in pious manners and the pursuits of learning, inculcated with sacred doctrine, and was skilled in Latin and Greek. She knew all of Europe’s foremost languages and could comprehend what was said by the German, Spaniard, Frenchman, or Italian. It is incredible how learned she was in the law. She was bashful of demeanor and comely in appearance, with an intellect such as (as I believe) one scarcely sees in the female sex, for divine intelligence shone forth in her, the praise of our century, oh our unique glory. She was truly sent down from heaven to wield our scepter, a peace-loving virgin who set herself against wars. May God prolong, bless, and prosper with tranquility her life, her zeal, and the crown of her government, which is lucky, holy, and filled with all splendor. And after she has finished with her life, her zeal, and her government, may God grant her a heavenly life, throne, and crown!