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Henry of Richmond and all his followers, when he heard that
they were coming against him with a fleet from France, and
took the field as fierce and savage as a wild boar, — the animal
represented on his shield.

Henry of Richmond landed with six thousand men at Mil-
ford Haven, and came on against King Richard, then encamped
at Leicester wdth an army twice as great, through North
Wales. On Bosworth Field the two armies met, and Richard,
looking along Henry's ranks, and seeing them crowded with
the English nobles who had abandoned him, turned pale
when he beheld the powerful Lord Stanley and his son
(whom he had tried hard to retain) among them. But he
was as brave as he was wicked, and plunged into the
thickest of the fight. He was riding hither and thither,
i'aying about him in all directions, when he observed the
Earl of Northumberland — one of his few great allies — to
jtand inactive, and the main body of his troops to hesitate.


At the same moment, his desperate glance caught Henry ot
Richmond among a little group of his knights. Riding hard at
him, and crying, " Treason ! " he killed his standard-bearer,
fiercely unhorsed another gentlemen, and aimed a powerful
stroke at Henry himself, to cut him down. But Sir William
Stanley parried it as it fell ; and, before Richard could raise
his arm again, he was borne down in a press of numbers, un-
horsed, and killed. Lord Stanley picked up the crown, all
bruised and trampled, and stained with blood, and put it upon
Richmond's head, amid loud and rejoicing cries of " Long live
King Henry ! "

That night a horse was led up to the Church of the Gray
Friars at Leicester, across whose back was tied, like some
worthless sack, a naked body brought there for burial. It was
the body of the last of the Plantagenet line. King Richard the
Third, usurper and murderer, slain at the battle of Bosworth
Field in the thirty-second year of his age, after a reign of two



King Henry the Seventh did not turn out to be as fine a
fellow as the nobility and people hoped, in the first joy of their
deliverance from Richard the Third. He was very cold, crafty,
and calculating, and would do almost anything for money. He
possessed considerable ability, but his chief merit appears to
have been that he was not cruel when there was nothing to be
got by it.

The new king had promised the nobles who had espoused
his cause that he would marry the Princess Elizabeth. The
first thing he did was to direct her to be removed from the
castle of Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire, where Richard had
placed her, and restored to the care of her mother in London.
The young Earl of Warwick, Edward Plantagenet, son and heir of
the late Duke of '- hirence, had been kept a prisoner in the same
old Yorkshire casJe with her. This boy, who was now fifteen,
the new king placed in the Tower for safety. Then he came
to London in great state, and gratified the people with a fine


procession ; on which kind of show he often v^ery much relied
for keeping them in good humor. The sports and feasts which
took place were followed by a terrible fever, called the sweat-
ing sickness ; of which great numbers of people died. Lord
mayors and aldermen are thought to have suffered most from
it ; whether because they were in the habit of over-eating them-
selves,or because they were very jealous of preserving filth and
nuisances in the city (as they have been since), I don't know.

The king's coronation was postponed on account of the
general ill-health ; and he afterwards deferred his marriage, as
if he were not very anxious that it should take place ; and,
even after that, deferred the queen's coronation so long that he
gave offence to the York party. However, he set these things
right in the end, by hanging some men, and seizing on the rich
possessions of others, by granting more popular pardons to the
followers of the late king than could at first be got from him ,•
and by employing about his court some not very scrupulous
persons who had been employed in the previous reign.

As this reign was principally remarkable for two very curious
impostures which have become famous in history, we will make
those two stories its principal feature.

There was a priest at Oxford of the name of Simons, who
had for a pupil a handsome boy named Lambert Simnel, the
son of a baker. Partly to gratify his own ambitious ends, and
partly to carry out the designs of a secret party formed against
the king, this priest declared that his pupil, the boy, was nd
other than the young Earl of Warwick, who (as everybody
might have known) was safely locked up in the Tower of Lon-
don. The priest and the boy went over to Ireland ; and at
Dublin enlisted in their cause all ranks of the people, who
seem to have been generous enough, but exceedingly irrational.
The Earl of Kildare, the Governor of Ireland, declared that he
believed the boy to be what the priest represented ; and the
boy, who had been well tutored by the priest, told them such
things of his childhood, and gave them so many descriptions of
the royal family, that they were perpetually shouting and hurrah-
ing, and drinking his health, and making all kinds of noisy and
thirsty demonstrations to express their belief in him. Nor was
this feeling confined to Ireland alone ; for the Earl of Lincoln,
whom the late usurper had named as his successor, went over
to the young pretender ; and, after holding a secret correspond-
ence with the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, the sister of
Edward the Fourth, who detested the present king and all his
race, sailed to Dublin vvith two thousand German soldiers of


her providing. In this promising state of the boy's fortunes,
he was crowned there, with a crown taken off the head of a
statue of the Virgin Mary ; and was then, according to the Irish
custom of those days, carried home on the shoulders of a big
chieftain possessing a great deal more strength than sense
Father Simons, you may be sure, was mighty busy at the coro-

Ten days afterwards, the Germans and the Irish, and the
priest and the boy, and the Earl of Lincoln, all landed in Lan-
cashire to invade England. The king, who had good intelli-
gence of their movements, set up his standard at Nottingham,
where vast numbers resorted to him every day, while the Earl
of Lincoln could gain but very few. With his sn.aH force he
tried to make for the town of Newark ; but the king's army
getting between him and that place, he had no choice but to
risk a battle of Stoke. It soon ended in the complete destruc-
tion of the pretender's forces, one half of whom were killed ;
among them the earl himself. The priest and the baker's bo^
were taken prisoners. The priest, after confessing the trick,
was shut up in prison, where he afterwards died, — suddenly per-
haps. The boy was taken into the king's kitchen, and made a
turnspit. He was afterwards raised to the station of one of the
king's falconers ; and so ended this strange imposition.

There seems reason to suspect that the dowager queen —
always a restless and busy woman — had had some share in
tutoring the baker's son. The king was very angry with her,
whether or no. He seized upon her property, and shut her up
in a convent at Bermondsey.

One might suppose that the end of this story would have
put the Irish people on their guard ; but they were quite ready
to receive a second impostor, as they had received the first, and
that same troublesome Duchess of Burgundy soon gave them
the opportunity. All of a sudden there appeared at Cork, in a
vessel arriving from Portugal, a young man of excellent abili-
ties, of very handsome appearance and most winning manners,
who declared himself to be Richard, Duke of York, the second
son of King Edward the Fourth. " O," said some, even of
those ready Irish believers, " but surely that young prince was
murdered by his uncle in the tower ! " " It is supposed so,"
said the engaging young man ; " and my brother was killed in
that gloomy prison ; but I escaped, — it don't matter how at
present, — and have been wandering about the world for seven
long years." This explanation being quite satisfactory to num-
bers of the Irish people, they began again to shout and to hur-


rah, and to drink his health, and to make the noisy and thirsty
demonstrations all over again. And the big chieftain in Dublin
began to look out for another coronation, and another young
king to be carried home on his back.

Now, King Henry being then on bad terms with France, the
French king, Charles the Eighth, saw that, by pretending to
believe in the handsome young man, he could trouble his enemy
sorely. So he invited him over to the French court, and ap-
pointed him a body-guard, and treated him in all respects as if
he really were the Duke of York. Peace, however, being soon
concluded between the two kings, the pretended duke was
turned adrift, and wandered for protection to the Duchess of
Burgundy. She, after feigning to inquire into the reality of his
claims, declared him to be the very picture of her dear departed
brother, gave him a body-guard, at her court, of thirty halber-
diers, and called him by the sounding name of the White Rose
of England.

The leading members of the White-Rose party in England
sent over an agent, named Sir Robert Clifford, to ascertain
whether the White Rose's claims were good ; the king also sent
over his agents to inquire into the Rose's history. The White
Rose declared the young man to be really the Duke of York ;
the king declared him to be Perkin Warbeck, the son of a mer-
chant of the city of Tournay, who had acquired his knowledge
of England, its language and manners, from the English mer-
chants who trade in Flanders ; it was also stated by the royal
agents thai he had 1 een in the service of Lady Brompton, the
wife of an exiled English nobleman, and that the Duchess of
Burgundy had caused him to be trained and taught expressly
for this deception. Tlie king then required the Archduke
Philip — who was the sovereign of Burgundy — to banish this new
pretender, or to deliver him up ; but, as the archduke replied
that he could not control the duchess in her own land, the king,
in revenge, took the market of English cloth away from Ant-
werp, and prevented all commercial intercourse between the two

He also by arts and bribes, prevailed on Sir Robert Clifford
to betray his employers : and he denouncing several famous
English noblemen as being secretly the friends of Perkin War-
beck, the king had three of the foremost executed at once.
Whether he pardoned the remainder because they were poor, I
do not know ; but it is only too probable that he refused to par-
don one famous nobleman against whom the same Clifford soon
afterwards informed separately, because he was rich. This wa$


no o:ner than Sir William vStanley, who had saved the king's life
at the battle of I'osworth Field. It is very doubtful whether
his treason amounted to much more than his having said, that,
if he were sure the young man was the Duke of York, he would
not take arms against him. Whatever he had done he admit-
ted, like an honorable spirit ; and he lost his head for it, and
the covetous king gained all his wealth.

Perkin Warbeck kept quiet for three years ; but, as the
Flemings began to complain heavily of the loss of their trade
by the stopp ige of the Antwerp market on his account, and as
it was not unlikely that they might even go so far as to take
his life, or give him up, he found it necessary to do something.
Accordingly, he made a desperate salU', and landed, with only
a few hundred men, on the cost of Deal. But he was soon
glad to get back on the place from whence he came ; for the
country people rose against his followers, killed a great many,
and took a hundred and fifty prisoners, who were all driven to
London, tied together with ropes like a team of cattle. Every
one of them was hanged on some part or other of the sea-shore,
in order that, if any more men should come over with Perkin
Warbeck, they might see the bodies as a warning before they

Then the wary king, by making a treaty of commerce with
the Flemings, drove Perkin Warbeck out of that country ; and,
by completely gaining over the Irish to his side, deprived him
of that asylum too. He wandered away to Scotland, and told his
story at that court. King James the Fourth of Scotland, who was
no friend to King Henry, and had no reason to be (for King
Henry had bribed his Scotch lords to betray him more than
once, but had never succeeded in his plots), gave him a great
reception, called him his cousin, and gave him in marriage the
Lady Catherine Gordon, a beautiful and charming creature, re-
lated to the royal house of Stuart.

Alarmed by this successful reappearance of the Pretender,
ihe king still undermined and bought and bribed, and kept his
doings and Perkin Warbeck's story in the dark, when he might,
o'?iQ would imagine, have rendered the matter clear to all Eng-
land. But for all this bribing of the Scotch lords, at the Scotch
king's court, he could not procure the Pretender to be delivered
up to him. James, though not very particular in many respects
would not betray him ; and the ever-busy Duchess of Burgundy,
so provided him with arms and good soldiers, and with money
besides, that he had soon a little army of fifteen hundred men
of various nations. With these, and aided by the Scottish king


in person, he crossed the Border into England, and made a
proclamation to the people ; in which he called the king " Henry
Tudor," offered large rewards to any who should take or dis-
tress him, and announced himself as King Richard the Fourth,
come to receive the homage of his faithful subjects. His faith-
ful subjects, however, cared nothing for him, and hated his
faithful troops, who, being of different nations, quarrelled also
among themselves. Worse than this, if worse were possible,
they began to plunder the country ; upon which the White Rose
said that he would rather lose his rights than gain them throu.^h
the miseries of the English people. The Scottish king made a
jest of his scruples ; but they and their whole force wejit back
again without fighting a battle.

The worst consequence of this attempt was, that a rising
took among the people of Cornwall, who considered them-
selves too heavily taxed to meet the charges of the expected
war. Stimulated by Flammock, a lawyer, and Joseph, a black-
smith, and joined by Lord Audley and some other country
gentlemen, they marched on all the way to Deptford Bridge,
where they fought a battle with the king's army. They were
defeated, though the Cornish men fought with great bravery
and the lord was beheaded, and the lawyer and the blacksmith
were hanged, drawn, and quartered. The rest were pardoned.
The king, who believed every man to be as avaricious as him-
self, and thought that money could settle anything, allowed
them to make bargains for their liberty with the soldiers who
had taken them.

Perkin Warbeck, doomed to wander up and down, and never
to find rest anywhere, — a sad fate, almost a sufficient punish-
ment for an imposture which he seems in time to have half
believed himself, — lost his Scottish refuge through a truce being
made between the two kings, and found himself once more with-
out a country before him in which he could lay his head. But
James (always honorable and true to him, alike when he melted
down his plate, and even the great gold chain he had been used
to wear, to pay soldiers in his cause, and now, when that cause
was lost and hopeless) did not conclude the treaty until he had
safely departed out of the Scottish dominions. He and his
beautiful wife, who was faithful to him under all reverses, and
left her state and home to follow^ his poor fortunes, were put
aboard ship with everything necessary for their comfort and
protection, and sailed for Ireland.

But the Irish people had had enough of counterfeit Earls of
Warwick and Dukes of York for one while, and would give the



White Rose no aid. So the White Rose — encircled by thorns
indeed — resolved to go with his beautiful wife to Cornwall as a
forlorn resource, and see what might be made of the Cornish
men, who had risen so valiantly a little while before, and who
had fought so bravely at Deptford Bridge.

To Whitsand Bay, in Cornwall, accordingly came Perkin
Warbeck and his wife ; and the lovely lady he shut up for safety
in the castle of St. Michael's Mount, and then marched into
Devonshire at the head of three thousand Cornish men. These
were increased to six thousand by the time of his arrival in
Exeter ; but there the people made a stout resistance, and he
went on to Taunton, where he came in sight of the king's army.
The stout Cornish men, although they were few in number, and
badly armed, were so bold, that they never thought of retreat-
ing, but bravely looked forward to a battle on the morrow. Un-
happily for them, the man who was possessed of so many en-
gaging qualities, and who attracted so many people to his side
when he had nothing else, with which to tempt them, was not as
brave as they. In the night, when the two armies lay opposite
to each other, he mounted a swift horse and fled. When morn-
ing dawned, the poor confiding Cornish men, discovering that
they had no leader, surrendered to the king's power. Some of
them were hanged, and the rest were pardoned, and went
miserably home.

Before the king pursued Perkin Warbeck to the sanctuary of
Beaulieu in the New Forest, where it was soon known that he
had taken refuge, he sent a body of horsemen to St. Michael's
Mount to seize his wife. She was soon taken, and brought as
a captive before the king. But she was so beautiful and so
good, and so devoted to the man in whom she believed, that
the king regarded her with compassion, treated her with great
respect, and placed her at court, near the queen's person. And
many years after Perkin Warbeck was no more, and when his
strange story had become like a nursery tale, x-^^was called the
White Rose, by the people, in remembrance of her beauty.

The sanctuary at Beaulieu was soon surrounded by the
king's men ; and the king, pursued his usual dark, artful ways,
sent pretended friends to Perkin Warbeck to persuade him to
come out and surrender himself. This he soon did ; the king
having taken a good look at the man of whom he had heard so
much, from behind a screen, directed him to be well mounted,
and to ride behind him at a little distance, guarded, but not
bound in any way. So they entered London with the king's
favorite show, — a procession ; and some of the people hooted



as the Pretender rode slowly through the streets to the Tower,
but the greater part were 'quiet, and very curious to see him.
From the Tower he was taken to the palace at Westminster,
and there lodged like a gentleman, though closely watched. He
was examined every now and then as to his imposture ; but
the king was so secret in all he did, that even then he gave it
a consequence which it cannot be supposed to have in itself

At last Perkin Warbeck ran away, and took refuge in an-
other sanctuary near Richmond in Surrey. From this he was
again persuaded to deliver himself up ; and, being conveyed
to London, he stood in the stocks for a whole day, outside
Westminster Hall, and there read a paper purporting to be his
full confession, and relating his history as the king's agents had
originally described it. He was then shut up in the Tower
again, in the company of the Earl of Warwick, who had now
been there for fourteen years, — ever since his removal out of
Yorkshire, except when the king had had him at court, and had
shown him to the people, to prove the imposture of the baker's
boy. It is but too probable, when we consider the crafty char-
acter of Henry the Seventh, that these two men were brought
together for a cruel purpose. A plot was soon discovered be-
tween them and the keepers, to murder the governor, get pos-
session of the keys, and proclaim Perkin Warbeck as King
Richard the Fourth. That there was some such plot is likely ;
that they were tempted into it is at least as likely ; that the
unfortunate Earl of Warwick — last male of the Plantagenet
line — was too unused to the world, and too ignorant and simple
to know much about it, whatever it was, is perfectly certain ;
and that it was the king's interest to get rid of him is no less
so. He was beheaded on Tower Hill, and Perkin Warbeck
was hanged at Tyburn.

Such was the end of the pretended Duke of York, whosa
shadowy history was made more shadowy, and ever will be, by
the mystery and craft of the king. If he had turned his great
natural advantages to a more honest account, he might have
lived a happy and respected life, even in those days ; but he
died upon the gallows at Tyburn, leaving the Scottish lady, who
had loved him so well, kindly protected at the queen's court.
After some time she forgot her old loves and troubles, as many
people do with Time's merciful assistance, and married a
Welsh gentleman. Her second husband, Sir Matthew Cradoc,
more honest and more happy than her first, lies beside her in
a tomb in the old church of Swansea.


The ill blood between France and England, in this reign,
arose out of the continued plotting of the Duchess of Bur-
gundy, and disputes respecting the affairs of Brittany. The
king feigned to be very patriotic, indignant, and warlike ; but
he always contrived so as never to make war in reality, and al-
ways to make money. His taxation of the people, on pretence
of war with France, involved at one time a very dangerous in-
surrection, headed by Sir John Egremont, and a common man
called John a Chambre. But it was subdued by the royal
forces, under the command of the Earl of Surrey. The
knighted John escaped to the Duchess of Burgundy, who was
ever ready to receive any one who gave the king trouble ; and
the plain John was hanged at York, in the midst of a number
of his men, but on a much higher gibbet, as being a greater
traitor. Hung high or hung low, however, hanging is much
the same to the person hung.

Within a year af tc t her mama|;ej th^ queen had given birth
to a son, who was called Prince Arthur iii remembrance of the
old British prince of roiifiance and ctory and who when all
these events had happened^ being theii in his fifteenth year,
was married to Catheriinie. the daughter of the Spanish mon-
arch, with great rejoicings and bright prospects ; but in a very
few months he sickened and died. As soon as the king had
recovered from his grief, he thought it a pity that the fortune
of the Spanish princess, amounting to two hundred thousand
crowns, should go out of the family ; and therefore arranged
that the young widow should marry his second son, Henry,
then twelve years of age, when he too should be fifteen. There
were objections to this marriage on the part of the clergy ; but
as the infallible pope was gained over^ and as he musthe. right,
that settled the business for the time. The king's eldest
daughter was provided for, and a long course of disturbance
was considered to be set at rest, by her being married to the
Scottish king.

And now the queen died. When the king had got over
that grief too, his mind once more reverted to his darling
money for consolation, and he thought of marrying the Dowa-
ger Queen of Naples, who was immensely rich ; but as it turned
out not to be practicable to gain the money, however practica-
ble it might have been to gain the lady, he gave up the idea.
He was not so fond of her but that he soon proposed to marry
the Dowager Duchess of Savoy ; and, soon afterwards, the
widow of the King of Castile, who was raving mad. But he
made a money-bargain instead, and married neither.


The Duchess of Burgundy, among the other discontented
people to whom she had given refuge, had sheltered Edmund
de la Pole (younger brother of that Earl of Lincoln who was
killed at Stoke), now Earl of Suffolk. The king had pre-
vailed upon him to return to the marriage of Prince Arthur ;
but he soon afterwards went away again ; and then the king,
suspecting a conspiracy, resorted to his favorite plan of send-

Online LibraryCharles DickensA child's history of England → online text (page 22 of 38)