James Gairdner.

Henry the Seventh online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryJames GairdnerHenry the Seventh → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO




3 1822 00786 6544



RARY

RSITY OF
FORNIA
DIEGO



J



m-



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. SAN DIEGO




3 1822 00786 6544



o



©toclbc €nvi\M) ^tntcsinun



HENEY THE SEVENTH






HENKY THE SEVENTH



BY

JAMES GAIRDNER



%ontion

MACMILLAIT AND CO.

AND NEW YORK
1889

All rights reserved



CONTENTS



CHAPTER I

PAGE

Early Life ...,.,,.. 1



CHAPTER II

Attainment of the Crown ...... 18

CHAPTER III

Settlement in the Kingdom ...... 30

CHAPTER IV
Rebellion of Lambert Simnel . , . . . 48

CHAPTER V
The War in Britanny 62

CHAPTER VI
The War with France ....... 87



vi CONTENTS

CHAPTER YII

PAGE

I'KUKIN \VAKBECK and HIS Fkiends 102

CHAPTER YHI
lUELANn 120

CHAPTER IX
Hen'ky's Foreign Policy 132

CHAPTER X
Domestic Histoky 149

CHAPTER XI
Prosperity and Alliances 164

CHAPTER XII
Henry YII. and Castile. . . , . . . 184

CHAPTER XIII
Conclusion 208



CHAPTER 1



EARLY LIFE



Never was king so thoroughly disciphncd by adversity
before he came to the throne as was King Henry
VII. Without a father even from his birth, driven
abroad in his childhood owing to the attainder of his
family, more than once nearly delivered up to his
enemies and owing life and liberty to his own and his
friends' astuteness, his ultimate conquest of the Crown
was scarcely so much a triumph of ambition as the
achievement of personal safety. He could not help his
birth, and in spite of the imperfections in his title he
could not help being regarded as head of the House of
Lancaster after Henry VI. and his son had been cut off.
He could not help, in short, being an object of suspicion
and jealousy to Edward IV. and Eichard HI. succes-
sively, even if he had made no effort to dispossess them
of the throne ; and, in truth, against Edward he seems
to have done nothing for his own part, though the Earl
of Oxford's expedition to St. Michael's Mount must have
been with a view to advance his claims. He might,
indeed, for anything we know to the contrary, have
remained an exile and a refugee to the end of his days,
had not the tyranny of Richard III. drawn towards



2 HENRY YII chap.

him the sympatliics of Englishmen in a way they were
not drawn towards him during Edward's reign.

It was through his mother that he derived his claim
to the Crown ; for though his father traced his descent
from Cadwallader, and the Welsh were pleased with his
pedigree, it was only spoken of when he came to the
throne as conferring some additional lustre on his title.
Nor could the fact that his paternal grandfather, Sir
Owen Tudor, a simple knight of AA'^ales, was bold enough
to marry the widow of Henry V., daughter to Charles
VI. of France, in any way advance his pretensions,
though it made his father a half-brother to Henry VI.
and allied him besides with the royal family of France.
But standing as he did in such close relations with the
king, Edmund Tudor, the son of Sir Owen by the
Queen-dowager Katharine, was raised by Henry VI. to
the dignity of Earl of Richmond; and the title of
course descended to Henry, who was his only son. This
was all that he could claim by right of his father.

But his mother, IMargaret Beaufort, only daughter of
John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, was the lineal heiress
of John of Gaunt. It is true that her grandfather, John
de Beaufort, was only a natural son, bom before his
father's, John of Gaunt's, marriage with his mot^ier,
Katharine Swynford. But the Beauforts had been
legitimated by Act of Parliament in the reign of Richard
II., and though a reservation of the royal dignity was
introduced into the patent Avhen it was confirmed by
Henry IV., it is now well known that there was no such
exception in the original grant or in the Act of Parlia-
ment of Richard II. 's time. So that, failing the issue of
Ji^ihn of Gaunt by his two previous marriages, his de-



1 EARLY LIFE S

scendants by Katharine Swynford, even by sons whom
she bore him before marriage, were the true representa-
tives of the House of Lancaster, and could claim the
throne itself if that House had any claim to it at all.

It is by no means certain, however, that Henry knew
he had this advantage, and the silence of the Act of
Parliament declaring his right to the Crown, as to its
true hereditary character, seems rather to imj^ly that
the ground was not thought safe. No doubt there was
another reason for reticence in the fact that the assertion
of Henry's own hereditary claim would have discredited
that of his wife as heiress of the House of York, and
alienated his Yorkist supporters. But it seems probable,
in the nature of things, that the reservation inserted by
Henry IV. in the original patent of Eichard II. was
regarded as a true legal obstacle which it Avas better
simply to ignore than expressly to overrule it in the
parliamentary confirmation of Henry's title.

Such, then, was the nature of Henry's ancestral
claims. We come now to his personal history. He
was born at Pembroke Castle on the feast of St. Agnes
the Second (28th January) 1457. In after years, when
he was king, his mother dated a letter to him, " At Calais
town thys day of Seynt Annes, that y dyd bryng ynto
thys world my good and gracyous prynce, kynge and
only beloved son." St. Anne's day falls in July; but
we have ample evidence that Henry was born in the
beginning of the year, and that " Seynt Annes " means
St. Agnes. The circumstances of his birth were peculiar.
His father was already more than two months dead, and
his mother, incredible as the fact may seem, was only
fourteen years old — in fact, had not quite completed her



4 HENRY VII CHAP.

fourteenth year — when the event occurred. At least
this was distinctly stated in her own and her son King
Henry's presence in a set speech delivered by Bishop
Fisher at Cambridge as Chancellor of the University,
so that its truth can hardly be questioned. The orator
added, "And she, as we perceive, is not a woman of
great stature." The birth was probably not unattended
with dant^^er to the sole living parent, and her very early
maternity no doubt interfered Avith her growth.

Pembroke Castle, in wh:'ch Henry was born, was the
propcTrty of his uncle, Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke.
It is an imposing ruin at this day — wonderfully perfect
still, in spite of the battering Oliver Cromwell gave it —
and is thus described by the antiquary Leland, who
visited it in Henry Vni.'s reign : "The Castel stondith
hard by the waul (the town wall) on a hard rokke and
is veri larg and strong, being doble wardid. In the utter
ward I saw the chaumbre wher King Henri the VII.
was borne, in knowlege w^herof a chymmeney is new
made with the arraes and badges of King Henri the
VII." In this strong fortress, while England was con-
vulsed with civil war, the child and his mother remained
in tolerable security under the protection of his uncle
Jasper ; and even after Jasper was attainted as a Lan-
castrian, when Edward IV. obtained the Crown, young
Henry being then four years old, both this and other
fortresses for some time held out against the conquerors.
But not for many years ; for even Harlech surrendered
in 1468, and it was the last stronghold that remained
in Lancastrian hands. And it was doubtless in Harlech
Castle, though our informant does not give the name of
the fortress, that young Henry was at length besieged



I EARLY LIFE 5

when the place fell into the hands of the victorious York-
ists, and he found himself a prisoner among strangers.

The winner of Harlech Castle was William, Lord
Herbert, who had been created a peer by Edward IV.
at his coronation, in recognition of his staunch devotion
to the House of York. Just after this achievement he
was advanced to the title of Earl of Pembroke, forfeited
by the attainder of Henry's uncle, Jasper. And that it
was into his hands that young Henry fell by the fortune
of war we may look upon as certain, for in his hands we
actually find him not long after. On the 16th of July
1468 the new Earl of Pembroke made his will, in one
part of which he says : "I will that Maud my daughter
be wedded to the Lord Henry of Eichmond." He thus
exercised the rights of a feudal guardian over an unfor-
tunate lad who was now parted from his own relations.
Harlech Castle, built upon a steep rock overhanging
the sea in those days (though a mile of sand has since
accumulated between it and the shore), had been sup-
posed impregnable, and must have appeared the safest
place in which the young earl could be kept. It was
also the key of the country, and just before its capture
Earl Jasper had been holding " many sessions and 'sizes
in King Harry's name " throughout Wales. The castle,
however, surrendered by composition, under what circum-
stances we do not quite know. Young Henry became a
prisoner and his uncle was now an attainted refugee.

His new guardian, we see, had the most friendly
intentions towards him, and though he was now only
eleven years old, the match would probably have taken
effect in due time but for further disturbances. But
his new guardian was put to death in the following



6 HENRY VII CHAP.

year by tlic insurgents under Eobin of Redesdale, and
in the year after that Edward IV. was driven out of his
kingdom and Henry VI. restored. Nevertheless, during
the brief interval between the death of her husband and
the restoration of King Henry, Maud, Countess-dowager
of Pembroke, continued to take care of the young lad's
education and brought him up in her family. He had,
of course, received the rudiments of scholarship already
from teachers appointed by his mother and his uncle
Jasper. His health had been delicate from childhood,
and while he could be safely moved about in Wales, he
was frequently sent from one place to another, under
the care of sagacious tutors, merely for change of air.
One of these tutors, by name Andreas Scotus, in after
years at Oxford reported to Henry's biographer and
poet-laureate, Bernard Andre, that he had never seen
a boy who exhibited so much quickness in learning.

On the restoration of Henry VI. in 1470 his uncle
Jasper took him again out of the hands of the Countess
Maud and brought him up to London. He there pre-
sented him to King Henry, who, it is said, being much
struck with the boy's " wit and likely towardness " (he
was then in his fourteenth year), could not refrain from
remarking to those about him, "Lo, surely, this is he
to whom both we and our adversaries shall hereafter
give place." Prophecies of this sort, no doubt, are
seldom recorded until they have been accomplished;
and it must be observed that if King Henry uttered it
just as it is recorded, he could have had little confidence
in the future of his then living son, who was more than
three years Henry Tudor's senior. But it is conceivable
that, looking at a bright and clever boy, he might have



I EARLY LIFE 7

said something as to the possibility of his one day-
winning a kingdom. Tlie saying, however, took its
place in more than one contemporary history as a pro-
phecy, and is embalmed accordingly in the third part
of Shakespeare's Henry VI.^

Fortune, however, soon changed again. Edward IV.
recovered his throne in the spring of next year. Mar-
garet of Anjou and her son the prince only reached
England the day Warwick was defeated and slain at
Barnet, and they were finally defeated themselves a
month later at Tewkesbury. All was then lost for the
House of Lancaster. The prince was killed on the field
— but apparently after the battle, not in it. His un-
happy father, Henry VI., was a few days later put to
death within the Tower. The civil war had already
made politicians quite unscrupulous, and there was now
no direct issue of the line of John of Gaunt remaining
except the descendants of Katharine Swynford. Nor
could there have been much immediate danger to the
House of York from such a stripling as the Earl of
Eichmond, now little more than fourteen years old,
even if there had not been some apparent defect in his
title. Nevertheless it was clear now that he could
no longer remain safely even in Wales ; and his uncle
Jasper took him across the sea, hoping to find an asylum
for him in France. The wind, however, carried them
into Britanny, then an independent duchy; and the
duke, Francis II., received them with great satisfaction,
knowing well the value of such political refugees if he
should require the assistance of England against his
powerful neighbour France.

1 Act IV. sc. vi.



8 HENRY VII CHAP.

It was at the urgent request of liis mother, the
Countess of KichnionJ, tliat Henry was thus conveyed
abroad. She, however, remained in England, having
pi'obably before this time married lier second husband,
Henry, Lord Stafford, the son of the Duke 'of Bucking-
ham. She, at least, was not an object of jealousy to
Edward IV., who endowed her with lands in Devonshire,
where it is supposed that she chiefly lived. But he
made pretty persistent efforts to induce the Duke of
Britanny to give up her son to him, urging that he in-
tended not to treat him as a prisoner, but to marry him
to one of his own daughters ; so that at last Duke
Francis delivered him up to an English embassy, which
carried him as far as St. Malo, where they were about
to have taken ship for England. Henry believed that
he Avas going to his death, and, in the words of
the old chronicler, "for very pensiveness and inward
thought fell into a fervent and sore ague." But Jean
du Quelenec, Admiral of Britanny, an old and faithful
councillor of the duke, took alarm at what seemed to
him like a stain upon his master's honour, and per-
suaded him at the last moment to stay the eflPect of his
weak concession. Pierre Landois, the duke's treasurer,
was despatched to St. Malo to intercept the embassy,
to whom he made some plausible excuses for his coming,
and detained them in conversation, while his men, un-
known to them, got the earl conveyed into a sanctuary
within the town; and the embassy were obliged to
return to England without their prize. All that was
conceded to them, in answer to their remonstrances,
was a promise that since matters had taken this turn
(for Landois imputed the escape solely to their own care-



I EARLY LIFE 9

lessness), the earl should be safely kept in sanctuary, or
be again placed in confinement.

So Henry remained in Britanny, and was somewhat
closely guarded for the remainder of Edward I V.'s reign ;
but it is not likely that his confinement Avas very severe.
In 1482 his stepfather, Lord Henry Stafford, died, leaving
him, as it appears, by will, " a trapper of four new horse
harness of velvet"; and his mother soon afterwards
married her third husband, Thomas, Lord Stanley, at
this time steward of King EdAvard's household.

The death of Edward IV. and the usurpation of
Richard III. opened the Avay for new projects, in which
Henry was no longer to remain a passive instrument or
victim of the designs of others. Richard had really
paved Henry's way to the throne by usurping it himself;
for it was on the plea of the illegitimacy of his brother's
children that he claimed it, some time before he put the
two young princes to death. And this point seems to
have been clearly perceived by Richard's chief instru-
ment, Buckingham, Avho, we cannot but suspect, was
labouring all the while prior to the usurpation, not so
much for Richard's benefit as for his own. For he, too,
was a descendant of the Beauforts, and being upon the
spot, probably imagined that he could seize the prize
himself before his exiled cousin appeared on the scene.
He had vast influence in Wales, and laid claim also to
the whole inheritance of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of
Hereford, of Avhich one half had been annexed to the
Crown during the sway of the House of Lancaster and
should have come to him on the death of Henry VI.
And Richard seems very nearlj^, in addition to other
acts of liberality, to have released to him the moiety of



10 HENRY VII CHAP,

these possessions, which had been so long detained from
liiiii. But he had higher aspirations still; and when
Richard committed to prison as a dangerous intriguer
the astute John Morton, Bishop of Ely, Buckingham
begged tliat he might have his custody. This was
granted, and the duke took him down to Wales, where
he had some remarkable conversations with his prisoner,
which will be found reported in Hall's and Grafton's
Chronicles, most probably from information derived from
Morton himself.

The substance is that Buckingham simply encouraged
his prisoner to speak his mind frankly about Richard III.
and the best means of deposing him, declaring that he
himself was quite alienated from him in heart, though he
had parted from him with a pleasant countenance. He
said he perceived clearly that Richard was disliked by
the whole nobility, " so that " (as his speech is reported)
" I saw my chance as perfectly as I saw my own image
in a glass." For two days at Tewkesbury he had
dreamed about securing the Crown for himself. But he
reflected that this would certainly involve the reneAval
of civil war, and that, if successful, he could only establish
his rights as a conqueror, and incur the hatred of the
whole nobility, as Richard had done. And after all, as
he confessed to Morton, it suddenly occurred to him
that he was not the true representative of the Beaufort
line, for he was only descended from Edmimd, Duke of
Somerset, Avho was a younger brother. How he came
to overlook this rather material fact he did not inform
his prisoner, but he was very frank in stating how he
was reminded of it. "While I was in a maze," he said
to Morton — that is to say, while he was indulging in his



r EARLY LIFE 11

day-dream — "as I rode between Worcester and Bridg-
north I encountered with the Lady Margaret, Countess
of Kichmond, now wife to the Lord Stanley, which is
the very daughter and sole heir to Lord John, Duke of
Somerset, my grandfather's elder brother; which was
as clean out of my mind as though I had never seen her,
so that she and her son, the Earl of Kichmond, be both
bulwark and portcullis between me and the gate to enter
into the majesty royal and getting of the Crown."

The countess, looking upon Buckingham as the most
influential friend and supporter of King Richard, seized
the opportunity to ask his intercession in her son's
behalf, and prayed him, by the family ties which existed
between them, that he would urge the king to let him
return to England. She also alluded to the suggestion
made in Edward IV. 's time that her son should marry
one of that king's daughters, and said that if Richurd
were agreeable to such a match, now that the issue of
Edward IV. were cut off from the succession, she herself
would be well pleased that her son should take the
young lady without any dowry. Evidently this sugges-
tion opened the eyes of Buckingham more fully than the
mere accident of his meeting with the countess. To get
rid of King Richard and seize the Crown himself seemed
on fuller consideration a policy beset with dangers, for
on the one side he would be constantly opposed by those
who upheld the right of King EdAvard's daughters, while
on the other the claims of the Earl of Richmond were
undeniably superior to his own. His life as king would,
under the circumstances, have been intolerable ; and if
the two rivals should make common cause against him,
the alliance being made fast by a marriage between the



12 HENRY VII CHAP.

carl and Edward's eldest daughter, the game was simply
at an end. All this must have passed through his mind
when the countess asked his intercession for her son, a
request which he very naturally evaded. But after their
meeting was over, when she had passed on to Worcester
and he to Shrewsbury, he set himself to recast his plan ;
and being fully resolved, at all events, to aid in dethron-
ing King Richard, he conceived that it might best be
done by that very combination which he saw would be
so fatal to himself if he, in his turn, played the part
of a usurper. He therefore informed Morton that he
would be glad to assist the Earl of Richmond to the
CroAvn as heir to the House of Lancaster, in Avhose cause
both his father and his grandfather had lost their lives,
if the earl would engage to marry Elizabeth, eldest
daughter of the late King Edward.

Bishop Morton, who had always been an adherent of
the House of Lancaster so long as there remained any
chance, in Edward IV. 's time, of vindicating their pre-
tensions, was simply delighted to hear of the duke's
intention, and resolved that he should not be allowed
to cool in it. He at once led the duke to confer with
him as to the means of carrying out the project, and
who should be taken into confidence. Buckingham
would begin, of course, with the Lady Margaret, as she
was commonly called, the earl's mother. Morton ad-
vised him to make use of the services of her dependant,
Reginald Bray, to whom, with the duke's consent, he
MTote, urging him to come at once to Brecknock. Bray
accordingly came from Lancashire, where the messenger
found him with Lord Stanley and the countess, and to
him the design was first imparted. The duke and



r EARLY LIFE 13

Morton desired him to advise his mistress first to obtain
the assent of the queen-dowager, Elizabeth Woodville,
to the project, and then secretly send a message to her
son in Britanny to tell him the high honour that was
prepared for him if he would swear to marry Elizabeth
of York. With this commission Bray was despatched,
and the bishop next told the duke that if he were in his
own Isle of Ely he could make many friends to further
the scheme, and that the whole of that district was so
well protected by nature that with four days' warning
he could set Eichard at defiance. This the duke well
knew, but he hesitated about letting his prisoner escape,
till Morton, taking the matter into his own hands, fled
secretly by night in disguise. He first came to his see
of Ely, where he found both money and friends, and
then sailed into Flanders, where he remained, doing
good service to the Earl of Eichmond until the scheme
devised at Brecknock had been realised and the earl
had' become King of England. It is needless to say
that the Lady Margaret, the Countess of Eichmond,
entered into this scheme with the utmost satisfaction.
In order to communicate with the queen-dowager, she
made use of the services of a Welsh physician named
Lewes, then attending upon her, who was well known
among people of rank for his skill in his profession.
He readily undertook a journey to Westminster in order
to seek out Queen Elizabeth in the sanctuary, and get
her consent to the scheme, as he could confer with her
in his professional character without incurring suspicion.
And he no sooner opened the project to Queen Elizabeth
than she too embraced it with joy, — as might well have
been anticipated. For she was really a prisoner in the



14 HENRY VII CHAP.

sanctuary with Avhat remained of her family, and she
had liad bitter occasion to regret having yielded to the
smooth persuasions even of men like Cardinal Bourchier,
Avho, thinking he might safely pledge himself, body and
soul, for the security of the young Duke of York, had
caused her to deliver that young prince into the tyrant's
power. And now she was bereft of her two only sons,
and shut up Avith five daughters in a sanctuary which
was surrounded by a guard of Richard's soldiers, lest
any of them should be conveyed abroad. But the
marriage project, if it could only be effected, would
overthrow the tyiunt, release her and her children from
their present discomforts, and restore them to their true
position in the State.

So the matter was easily arranged between the two
mothers. The next thing was to communicate with
Richmond in Britanny, for which purpose the Lady
Margaret, his mother, at first proposed to employ a
priest, named Christopher Urswick, whom she had lately
taken into her service, but considering that the plan
had originated with the Duke of Buckingham, she
ultimately chose an esquire, named Hugh Conway, as a
more dignified messenger. The Earl of Richmond was
then a free man in Britanny, for since the death of
Edward IV. the Duke of Britanny had released him from
such restraint as he had previously put upon him ; and
Conway was to advise him to return home as soon as
possible and land in Wales, where he would be sure to
find friends. At the same time, to make matters sure,
another messenger, named Thomas Ramme, was de-
spatched from Kent to land in Calais while Conway


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryJames GairdnerHenry the Seventh → online text (page 1 of 16)