John Lingard.

A history of England, Volume 5 online

. (page 2 of 33)
Online LibraryJohn LingardA history of England, Volume 5 → online text (page 2 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


should seclude all false teachers ; and, 3, of the common x>eople, who ought
to bear true obedience to their kings, and civil governors, and priests. It
XDoreover declares that the sacraments are necessary to all believers, and
that in the sacrament of the altar is contained very Christ's body and blood,
that was bom of the Virgin and died on the cross. If a better faith than
this can be taught by the woi-d of Ood^ the subscriber will most revefently
ftt all times subscribe thereunto.



Digitized by



Google



A. D. 1414.] DESIGNS OF TIIE INSURGENTS. 3

forthoomiDg on the day montioned in the citation
already received by hiin from the ai^chbishop of Cantor-
bury.

On his appearance in court, Lis demeanour was as arro- ^P**
gant and insulting as that of his judge was mild and dig-
nified. Not content with signifying his dissent from the
established creed, he poured out a torrenf of abuso
against all those by whom it was upheld. He main-
tained that the church had ceased to teach the doctrine
of the gospel from the moment that it became infected
with the poison of worldly riches ; that the clergy were
the antichrist ; that the pope was the head, the bishops
and prelates the limbs," and the religious orders the tml
of the beast; and that the only true successor of St.
Peter was he who most faithfully practised the virtues of
St. Peter. Then turning to the spectators, and extend-
ing his arms, he exclaimed : ^* Beware of the men who
^' sit here as my judges. They will seduce both you and
*' themselves, and will lead you to hell.'' He was
brought to the bar on two different days, and persisting in
his opinions, was pronounced an obstinate heretic*. The
primate, however, when he delivered him to the civil Oct
magistrate, procured from the king a respite of fifty days, 10.
during which Oldcastle found the means to escape from
the Tower, and to assemble the most ardent of his parti- Oct
sans. Emissaries were immediately despatched into the •
neighbouring counties, the aid of the preachers was in-
voked, and crowds of fanatics held themselves in readi-
ness to march to the metropolis. The first plan of the
leaders was to sui-prise the king and his brothers during the
Christmas festivities at Eltham. It failed, through the mir
expected departure of the court to Westminster. These
men resolved to make a demonstration of their strength



* From the acts in Rymer, ix. 61. 66, and Wilkins iii. 353—357. Dr.
BoutUey (Book of the Church, i. 379) relies on the authority of Foxe.



Digitized by



Google



4 HENRY V. [chap. I.

by meeting in the fields at St. Giles's, on the morrow of
the Epiphany. This Henry, with the example of Paris
before his eyes, detenpined to prevent. Having secured
the gates of the city, to separate the Lollards within the
walls from those without, he proceeded, soon after mid-
night, with a strong force, to the place of rendezvous.
The roads were covered with insurgents repairing from all
quarters towards St. Giles's. The first comers, who, to
the question, For whom are you ? replied by the precon-
certed watchword, " For sir John Oldcastle," were dis-
armed and secured. By degrees a few made their escape ;
they spread the alarm, and the parties on their march
y^^' precipitately dispersed. Of the prisoners, about seventy

^?* were tried and condemned, at the sessions at West-

I2I minster ; and one half of those paid the forfeit of their
lives. Two of the leaders, sir John Oldcastle and sir
Thomas Talbot, escaped ; a third, sir Roger Acton, was

Feb. taken, condemned, drawn, and hanged. His dead body

12. was buried under the gallows *.



* The admirers of sir John Oldcastle are at a loss how to exculpate bim
and the Lollards on this occasion. The testimony of the old chroniclers
(Tit. lav. 6. Wals. 385, 6. Elm. 31, 32) is fully borne out by parliamentary
documents, judicial records, and royal proclamations. — Rot. Pari. iv. 24.
108. Eym. ix. 89. 119. 129. 170. 193. Hence Fuller remarks in bis usually •
quaint style, " Let Mr. Foxe be this Lord Cobham's compui-gator. I dare
"not ; and if my hand wcre^n the book I would take it back again. Yet,
"so that as I will not acquis I will not condemn him, but leave all to the
"revelation of the righteous judgment of God." — Church Ilistory, 1. iv.
p. 168. [It must not be understood that Fuller means to blame any of sir
John Oldcastle's positions, except his political rebellion. Foxe is eager, in
his very full and loving account of Oldcastle, to defend him in that matter,
and attempts to disprove the most violent charges against him. It seems
quite clear that Foxe must have had authorities for his account of Oldcastle'a
hearing before the bishops, besides the acts referred to in Dr. Lingard*s note
on p. 3. It can hardly be expected that a Roman Catholic should place
much reliance on so violent a controversialist as Foxe, but surely, for the de-
fence of an English heretic, the acts of the ecclesiastical body which sen-
tenced him make testimony as partial <m one side as his own admirers' re-
■porta on the other.

It is to be observed that between sir John Oldcastle's escape, at this time,,
and his execution, Dec. 14, 1417, occurred the event, so important in the his-
tory of the Reformation, of Huss's execution, by order of the council of Con-
stance, July 6, 1415.

It seems to me that nothing more than a reference to the prevailing theo-
logical fashions is needed to account for the singular change of sir Johia Old-



Digitized by



Google



A. D. 1414.] FAILURE OP THE INSURRECTION. 5

But what could be the object of these misguided men I
It was to remodel the state according to the doctrines of
their sect ; to reform both the " priesthood and knight-
hood," under the auspices of sir John Oldcastle. Hence
the commons, m their address to the king, state, that
the insurgents sought *' to destroy the Christian faith,
* the king, the spiritual and tempojal estates, and all
'* manner of policy and law ." Henry in his proclama-
tion declares that they meant " to destroy him, his
" brothers, and several of the spiritual and temporal
" lords, to confiscate the possessions of the church, to
" secularize the religious orders, to divide the realni into
" confederate districts, and to appoint sir John Oldcastle
"president of the commonwealth.'' The failure of
the insurrection had the usual effect of adding to the
severity of the penal laws already in existence. It
was enacted that all judges and magistrates should
be authorized to arrest persons suspected of loUard-
ism, and deliver them over to the ecclesiastical



castle into sir John PalstaflT, on the stage, as alluded to by Dr. Lingard. Mr.
Collier sums ui> the latest conclusions of the Shakespearian critics, after the
publication of an interesting pamphlet, in which the controversy on the point
has been discussed by Mr. Halliwell. Where Mr. Collier and Mr. Halliwell
agree, we may suppose the truth is very nearly hit. Mr. Collier says :

"Mr. Halliwell, in his ' Essay on the Character of Sir John Falstaff,' goes
*'fer to estJiblish the three following propositions : ' 1. That the stage was
** in possession of a rude outline of Falstaff before Shakspeare wrote either
•'part of IlKNRy IV., under the name of sir John Oldcastle. 2. That the
** name of Oldcastle was retained for a term in Shakspeare*s Henry IV., but
''changedtoFalstaffbefore the play was printed. 3. That, in all probability,
"some of the theatres, in acting Henry IV., retained the name of Oldcastle,
*' after the author had made the alteration.' "

In one place in the first edition, one of FalstafTs speeches has Old. instead
of Foist. i)refixed ; and the following line in the second scene retains a pun
on bis name :

" As the honey of Eybla, my old lad of the castle."

So long as the Puritans were out of fashion, Oldcastle, the Mend of Henry
V. before he was king, and thrown off by him afterwards, could well be
ridiculed on the stage. But when Foxe and such men were trying to make
a martyr of him, and infant Puritanism was gaining favour, it was natural
that the ridicule should be transferred, probably by authority of the queen,
to another historical name.

It seems to me here is material for the discussion whether Shakspeare fliyin-
pathized with the Puritans. Ambr. Edit.]



Digitized by



Google



6 HENRY V. [chap. I.

courts ; and that the prisoners on their conviction should
forfeit their lands, goods, and chattels, as in cases of fe-
lony *.

The restoration of tranquilhty allowed the king to
direct his attention towards the French throne, which
was still occupied by an imbecile monarch, and was daily
undermined by the^age of contending factions. Within
the course of a few months the reins of government had
successively passed from the hands of John the fearless
duke of Burgundy, to the dauphin, a young prince, rash,
^^ jj headstrong, and capricious t ; to the populace of the ca-
1413.pital, whose ephemeral superiority had been accompa-
April nied with the imprisonment or massacre of the lords
28. and ladies attached to the court J; and lastly to the
duke of Orleans, who persisted in waging a successful
but impolitic war against the Burgundians, the ancient
foes of his family. To the aspiring mind of Henr}" these
troubles opened a most alluring prospect. He deter-
mined to revive the claim, and tread in the footsteps of
his great-grandfather Edward III. ; and, if he consented
to a succession of short truces at the prayer of Charles,
it was only that he might have leisure to mature his
plans, to provide money for his expenses, and to open
the war with an army adequate to his object. A little
^ jj^ more than a year had elapsed from his accession when
1414. he unexpectedly demanded the crown of France, with
July all its appurtenances, as the heir of Isabella, daughter of
10' Philip IV. The French ministers might have replied,
that he was not the legitimate representative of that
princess } : but they deemed the claim an insult to the

• Rot. Pari. iv. 24. Stat of Realm, ii. 181. In this parliament the king's
brothers, John and Humphrey, were made dukes of Bedford and Glou*
cestcr. Elm. 33.

f He is said to have sent in derision to Henry a present of tennis balls.
The king promised to return the compliment with Enfjlish balls, which
should batter to the ground the walls of Paris. Otterb. 275.

X See the letter of the king of France in Rymer, ix. 51, and the account
of Monstrelet, i. 165—170.

{ The reader will recollect that our kings claimed the French crown oil
the plea that it could descend by females. Now in that bvpothftsis it be-
longed not to Henry, but t» the earl of March.



Digitized by



Google



A. D. 1414.] HENRY CLAIMS THE CROW^ OF FRANCE, 7

national independence, and refused to admit it even as
a subject of discussion. Henry therefore consented that Aug;
Charles should continue to possess his throne, but re-
quired as the price of his forbearance conditions which .
would have reduced France to a secondary station amonj^
the powers of Europe: that he should cede to England
in full sovereignty the provinces of Normandy, Maine,
and Anjou; the territories which formerly composed
the duchy of Aquitaine, and the several towns and coun-
ties included in the great peace of Bretigny ; that he
should put Henry in possession of one half of Provence,
the inheritance of Eleanor and Sanchia, the queens of
Henry IH. and of his brother Richard, and two of the
four daughters of Berenger, once sovereign of that coun- *
try ; that he should faithfully discharge the arrears of
the ransom of king John, amounting to twelve hundred
thousand crowns ; and that he should give his daughter
Catherine in marriage to the king of England with a
portion of two millions of crowns *. To these demands
Henry had been persuaded to descend by his council,
who told him that by such moderation he would throw
the blame of refusal on his adversaries, and " deserve
" through God's grace better speed and conclusion."
The duke of Berri, the organ of the French government,
replied, that Charles for the sake of peace was willing
to restore all the territories anciently comprehended
within the duchy of Aquitaine, and to give with his
daughter six hundred thousand crowns, a greater por-
tion than had ever been given on a similar occasion by
any of his predecessors. By a prince of ordinary ambi-
tion such offers would have been cheerfully accepted. It
was evident that they were made, not on account of the
real superiority of England, but of the temporary em-
barrassments of France ; and there was reason to fear
that, if they should be refused, the different factions
might unite against the common enemy, and by their

• Two crowns were equal to a noble Englisli.



Digitized by



Google



8 HENRY V. [chap. I

union defeat all his projects. Great, however, as they
were, they did not satisfy the expectations of Henry *.
^^^' He recalled his ambassadors, summoned a parliament,
avowed his intention of vindicating his right by arms, ^
and obtained a supply of two tenths and two fifteenths t.
Nov. Xhe grant of so large a sum created considerable alarm
in the French court, and Henry resolved to make a se-
cond attempt by negotiation. A few days before the
conclusion of the armistice the earl of Dorset, with the
bishops of Durham and Norwich, and a retinue of six
^ jj^ hundred horsemen, entered Paris, where, by their parade
1415. and magnificence, they surprised and mortified the va
Jan. nity ofthe French J. Their first object was easily at -
^'^^ taincd, to prolong tlie truce during four months. They
Mar. next proposed a treaty of peace and alliance on a new

13. basis. The claim of Normandy, Maine, and Anjou, was
entirely abandoned : they consented to accept the prin-
cess with half the sum originally required ; but every
other demand made by the late embassy was repeated
and enforced. The duke of Berri gave the same an-

Mar. swer, with this unimportant difference, that he offered

14. eight instead of six hundred thousand crowns as the
marriage portion of Catherine. The ambassadors im-
mediately retiirned^.

It is probable that the result of the negotiation was
not displeasing to Henry. His counsellors might wish
to avert the impen ling calamities of the war : but the
young hero longed to encircle his brow with the laurels
April of a conqueror. A council of fifteen spiritual and twenty-
16, eight temi-oral peers was immediately assembled : the
king declared his resolution "to recover his inheriiance'*
by arms || ; and his speech was received with applause
and assurances of support. The duke of Bedford, one
of his brothers, accepted the office of regent during the

• Tlie whole ]irocess of the nc:.'Otiatioa is to be found iu llyraer, ix. 203.
See also Acts of Coirn. iu 141. 150.
t Rot. Pari. iv. 33. $ Monstrel. i 216.

f Kym. ix. :.0j. 212—215. | R\m. ix. 2ii2. Acts of Couu. iL 153.



Digitized by



Google



A.D. 1415.] DISMISSES THE FRENCH ENVOYS. 9

royal absence ; his duties and powers were specilied ; the
members of the council appointed ; and the terms of mi-
litary service arranged *. The barons and knights, anx-
ious to obtain renown, or to secure the royal favour,
engasjed to furnish troops according to their abilities ;
parUament granted two tenths and tifteenths; all aUen
priories not conventual, more than one hundred in number,
were dissolved and given to the crown ; Henry himself
pawned his jewels, solicited loans, and by great exertions
amassed the sum of five hundred thousand nobles f.

The French mmisters had made no preparations to
meet the storm with which they were threatened. Oc-
cupied in maintaining the ascendancy over their domestic
rivals, they had flattered themselves that the king of
England would accept the terms which had been of-
fered him; and with this fallacious expectation they
even now sent the archbishop of Bourges, and the earl June,,
of Vendome, to repeat the proposals which had lately
been made by the duke of Berri. The ambassadors
were introduced to the king at Winchester : the next day
Henry Chichely, who had lately succeeded to the arch-
bishopric of Canterbury, informed them that his sove-
reign would accept nothing short of the restoration of
all the territories which had ever been possessed by his
predecessors ; and Henry, following the primate, added,

• The following were the terms, und the manner of raising the army.

1. Contiacts were made by the keeper nf the privy seftl with different
lords and j,'entlemen, who bound themselves to serve with a certain num-
ber of men for a year, from tJie day on wliich they were first mustered.

2. The pay of a duke was to be 13s. 4fl. per day ; an earl, 6*. fed. ; a baron
or banneret, 4j?. ; a knight, 2s. ; an esquire, 1«. ; an archer, 6d. 3. The pay,
or security forits amount, was to be delivered by the treasurer a quarter of
a year ill advance : and if :he money were not actually paid at the be-
ginning of the fourth quarter, the engagement was to be at an end. As an
additional remuneration, each contractor received " the usual reganl," or
douceur of 100 marks for every 30 men-at-arms 4. A duke was to have
50 horses; aneaii, 24; a baron or banneret, 16; a knight, 6; an esquire,
4 J an archer, 1. The horses were to be furnished by the contractor, the
equipment by the king. 5. All prisoners were to belong to the captors:
but if they were kings, the sons of kings, or oflRcers hi^h in command bear-
ing commissions from kings, they were to belong to the crown, on the pay-
ment of a reasonable recompence to the captors. 6 The booty taken was
to be divided into three parts. Two remained to the men : the third was
again divided into three parts, of which the leader took two, and left the
third to the king. See the several contracts in Rymer, ix. 223, 227—239,

+ Ibid. 241. 271. 284-:-7.



Digitized by



Google



lO HENRY V. [chap. I.

that the crown of France was his right, and that he
would wrest it from its unjust possessor in defiance of
all his enemies. These words aroused the spirit of the
archbishop of Bourges, who, having previously obtained
permission, replied ; that if the king attributed to fear
the offers which had been made, he deceived himself.
The throne of France was the most excellent in Europe.
It would require more than the power of England to
shake it. Let Henry, if he chose, make the attempt: he
would either be driven back to the sea, or would pay the
forfeit of his presum]>tion with his liberty, perhaps with
his life. As for himself, the archbishop added, that he
had nothing more to do in England. He requested
passports : but trusted that the king would give the an-
swer in writing, and spare him the pain of delivering so
July insulting a message by word of mouth. Henry did not
^' resent the freedom of the prelate, but dismissed him and
his colleague with valuable presents *.

Every preparation was now complete : the army had
assembled at Southampton ; and the king superintended
the embarkation. At that very moment, while his mind
was occupied with visions of conquest and glory, he was
July suddenly alarmed with the intelligence that a conspiracy
21. against his life had been formed in the bosom of his own
family and household. The ringleader was his cousin
Richard, a brother to the duke of York, and lately
created earl of Cambridge. The principal accomplices
were sir Thomas Grey of Heton, a Northumbrian knight,
and the lord Scrope of Masham, who had been hv)noured
with tlie highest employments in the state, and was, both
in bed and at board, at the council table and in the chase,
the king's individual companion. What motives could
induce them to form the design, or whence they derived
their hopes of success, it is impossible to discover ; the
historian must content himself with describing the facts

• See Monsf relet (1 22), who praises tlie spirit, and Elmham (p. 30)
and Walsingham (p. 389), who reprove the insoleiice of the French
prelate. The king's answer is in Thresor des Chdrtres, ^9.



Digitized by



Google



A.D. 1415.J CONSPrHACY AGAINST THE KING. 11

liS they appear upon record. By an inquest of twelve Aug.
jurors of the county it was found, but on what testimony 2.
is not mentioned, that the earl of Cambridge had con-
spired with sir Thomas Grey to collect a body of armed
men, to conduct the earl of March to the frontiers of
Wales, and to proclaim him the rightful heir to the crown
in case Richard II. were really dead * ; and had also by
their emissaries solicited Thomas of Trumpyngton, who
still personated Richard, Henry Percy, who had not yet
returned from Scotland, and several Scottish lords, to
invade the king's dominions at an appointed time ; and
that the lord Scrope had received from them the know-
ledge of their treasonable intentions, had concealed that
knowledge from the king and council, and had given to
the conspirators his aid and abettance. On this indict-
ment the prisoners were arraigned, and severally pleaded
guilty : but the lord Scrope added, that his intention was
innocent, as his only object in learning, was to defeat
the plans of the conspirators. The usual judgment of
treason was passed against Grey : but the king com-
muted the most disgraceful parts of the sentence. In-
stead of being drawn, he was permitted to walk to the
place of execution, and suiFered decapitation instead of
being hanged. Cambridge and Scrope claimed the pri- ^u^
vilege of being tried by their peers. The duke of Cla- 5,
rence presided in the place of the king : all the lords in
the army were summoned ; and the duke of York, that
he might not sit in judgment on his brother, appointed
the earl of Dorset his proxy. By this court both were
condemned t, and after a fruitless appeal by the earl of
Cambridge to the mei-cy of his royal relative, were exe-
cuted. Though the earl of March sate among the judges
at the trial, he soon afterwards received from Henry a
general pardon for all treasons and offences : whence it

• It should be observed thnt the earl of Cambridge had married Anne,
■ister to the earl of March, who, on the doath of her brother without issuet
would have had the real right to the crown.

f Rot. Pari. iv. 64-^7



Digitized by



Google



12 HENRT V. [chap. T,

has been inferred by some writers that he was privy to
the conspiracy, and had secured the royal favour by be-
traying his accomplices. But the inference is not war-
ranted by the practice of the age. Such pardons were
frequently solicited by the most innocent, as a measure
of precaution to defeat the malice, and prevent the accu-
sations of their enemies *.

Henry*s impatience had hastened the trial and execu-
Ang. tion of the conspirators. As soon as the wind would
13. permit, he left Southampton ; and after a rapid voyage
Aug. entered the mouth of the Seine with a fleet of fifteen
15. hundred sail, carrying siX thousand men-at-arms and
twenty-four thousand archers. Three days were con-
sumed in landing the men, stores, and provisions ; and
Aug. immediately Harfleur, a strong fortress on the right
18. bank of the river, was invested by land and blockaded
by water. The knights in garrison, confident in their
valour and numbers, repeatedly assailed the intrench-
ments of the besiegers: but successive defeats taught
them to confine themselves within the walls ; their de-
fences were in a short time shattered or demolished by
Sep. the artillery and the miners ; and in the fifth week they
2'2« submitted to an unconditional surrender. Henry seated
himself on his throne under a magnificent tent, which
was raised for the purpose on the summit of the hill, op-
posite to the town. On his right hand stood sir Robert
Umfravile, bearing on the point of a lance the king's
helmet surmounted with a crown : on each side were
ranged the chief of the English nobility ; and in this
state the king received Gaucourte the governor, and
thirty-four burgesses, who on their knees presented to
him the keys of the town, and threw themselves on his
mercy. He ordered his banner and that of St. Greorge
to be fixed over the principal gate, and pronounced his

* Rym. ix. 303. It is indeed trne that the earl of Cambridge in his
nritten confession charges the carl of March with having assented to the

flnn : but the charge was disbelieved, or passed over in silence. Rot.
arl. iv. 66.



Digitized by



Google



A. D. f415.] REDUCTION OF HARFLEUR 13

pleasure that the men-at arms should depart m their
doublets, after taking an oath to yield themselves pri-



Online LibraryJohn LingardA history of England, Volume 5 → online text (page 2 of 33)