« PreviousContinue »
chamberlain, which was the chief strength of the party, and by means of Sir Robert Clifford, who was the most inward man of trust amongst them, did extremely quail the design of Perkin and his complices, as well through discouragement as distrust. So that they were now, like sand without lime, ill bound together; especially as many as were English, who were at a gaze, looking strange one upon another, not knowing who was faithful to their side; but thinking, that the King, what with his baits, and what with his nets, would draw them all unto him that were any thing worth. And indeed it came to pass, that divers came away by the thread, sometimes one, and sometimes another. Barley, that was joint commissioner with Clifford, did hold out one of the longest, till Perkin was far worn; yet made his peace at the length. But the fall of this great man, being in so high authority and favour, as was thought, with the King; and the manner of carriage of the business, as if there had been secret inquisition upon him for a great time before; and the cause for which he suffered, which was little more than for saying in effect that the title of York was better than the title of Lancaster; which was the case almost of every man, at the least in opinion, was matter of great terror amongst all the King's servants and subjects; insomuch as no man almost thought himself secure, and men durst scarce commune or talk one with another, but there was a general diffidence every where: which nevertheless made the King rather more absolute than more safe. For "bleeding inwards, and shut vapours, strangle soonest, and oppress most."
Hereupon presently came forth swarms and vollies of libels, which are the gusts of liberty of speech restrained, and the females of sedition, containing bitter invectives and slanders against the King and some of the council: for the contriving and dispersing whereof, after great diligence of enquiry, five mean persons were caught up and executed.
Mean while the King did not neglect Ireland, being the soil where these mushrooms and upstart weeds, that spring up in a night, did chiefly prosper. He sent therefore from hence, for the better settling of his af
fairs there, commissioners of both robes, the prior of Lanthony, to be his chancellor in that kingdom; and Sir Edward Poynings, with a power of men, and a martial commission, together with a civil power of his lieutenant, with a clause, that the earl of Kildare, then deputy, should obey him. But the wild Irish, who were the principal offenders, fled into the woods and bogs, after their manner; and those that knew themselves guilty in the pale fled to them. So that Sir Edward Poynings was enforced to make a wild chase upon the wild Irish: where, in respect of the mountains and fastnesses, he did little good. Which, either out of a suspicious melancholy upon his bad success, or the better to save his service from disgrace, he would needs impute unto the comfort that the rebels should receive underhand from the earl of Kildare; every light suspicion growing upon the earl, in respect of the Kildare that was in the action of Lambert Simnel, and slain at Stokefield. Wherefore he caused the earl to be apprehended, and sent into England; where, upon examination, he cleared himself so well, as he was replaced in his government. But Poynings, the better to make compensation of the meagerness of his service in the wars by acts of peace, called a parliament; where was made that memorable act, which at this day is called Poyning's law, whereby all the statutes of England were made to be of force in Ireland: for before they were not, neither are any now in force in Ireland, which were made in England since that time; which was the tenth year of the King.
About this time began to be discovered in the King that disposition, which afterwards, nourished and whet on by bad counsellors and ministers, proved the blot of his times: which was the course he took to crush treasure out of his subjects purses, by forfeitures upon penal laws. At this men did startle the more at this time, because it appeared plainly to be in the King's nature, and not out of his necessity, he being now in float for treasure: for that he had newly received the peacemoney from France, the benevolence-money from his subjects, and great casualties upon the confiscations of the lord chamberlain, and divers others. The first
noted case of this kind was that of Sir William Capel, alderman of London; who, upon sundry penal laws, was condemned in the sum of seven and twenty hundred pounds, and compounded with the King for sixteen hundred: and yet after, Empson would have cut another chop out of him, if the King had not died in the instant.
The summer following, the King, to comfort his mother, whom he did always tenderly love and revere, and to make open demonstration to the world, that the proceedings against Sir William Stanley, which was imposed upon him by necessity of state, had not in any degree diminished the affection he bare to Thomas his brother, went in progress to Latham, to make merry with his mother and the earl, and lay there divers days.
During this progress, Perkin Warbeck finding that time and temporising, which, whilst his practices were covert and wrought well in England, made for him; did now, when they were discovered and defeated, rather make against him, for that when matters once go down the hill, they stay not without a new force, resolved to try his adventure in some exploit upon England; hoping still upon the affections of the common people towards the house of York. Which body of common people he thought was not to be practised upon, as persons of quality are; but that the only practice upon their affections was to set up a standard in the field. The place where he should make his attempt, he chose to be the coast of Kent.
The King by this time was grown to such a height of reputation for cunning and policy, that every accident and event that went well, was laid and imputed to his foresight, as if he had set it before: as in this particular of Perkin's design upon Kent. For the world would not believe afterwards, but the King, having secret intelligence of Perkin's intention for Kent, the better to draw it on, went of purpose into the north afar off, laying an open side unto Perkin, to make him come to the close, and so to trip up his heels, having made sure in Kent beforehand.
But so it was, that Perkin had gathered together a power of all nations, neither in number, nor in the hardiness and courage of the persons, contemptible, but in their nature and fortunes to be feared, as well of friends as enemies; being bankrupts, and many of them felons, and such as lived by rapine. These he put to sea, and arrived upon the coast of Sandwich and Deal in Kent, about July.
There he cast anchor, and to prove the affections of the people, sent some of his men to land, making great boasts of the power that was to follow. The Kentish men, perceiving that Perkin was not followed by any English of name or account, and that his forces consisted but of strangers born, and most of them base people and free-booters, fitter to spoil a coast than to recover a kingdom; resorting unto the principal gentlemen of the country, professed their loyalty to the King, and desired to be directed and commanded for the best of the King's service. The gentlemen entering into consultation, directed some forces in good number to shew themselves upon the coast; and some of them to make signs to entice Perkin's soldiers to land, as if they would join with them; and some others to appear from some other places, and to make semblance as if they fled from them, the better to encourage them to land. But Perkin, who by playing the Prince, or else taught by secretary Frion, had learned thus much, that people under command do use to consult, and after to march in order; and rebels contrariwise run upon an head together in confusion, considering the delay of time, and observing their orderly and not tumultuary arming, doubted the worst. And therefore the wily youth would not set one foot out of his ship, till he might see things were sure. Wherefore the King's forces, perceiving that they could draw on no more than those that were formerly landed, set upon them and cut them in pieces, ere they could fly back to their ships. In which skirmish, besides those that fled and were slain, there were taken about an hundred and fifty persons. Which, for that the King thought, that to punish a few for example was gentleman's pay; but for rascal peo
ple, they were to be cut off every man, especially in the beginning of an enterprize: and likewise for that he saw, that Perkin's forces would now consist chiefly of such rabble and scum of desperate people, he therefore hanged them all for the greater terror. They were brought to London all railed in ropes, like a team of horses in a cart, and were executed some of them at London and Wapping, and the rest at divers places upon the sea-coast of Kent, Sussex, and Norfolk, for sea-marks or light-houses, to teach Perkin's people to avoid the coast. The King being advertised of the landing of the rebels, thought to leave his progress: but being certified the next day, that they were partly defeated, and partly fled, he continued his progress, and sent Sir Richard Guildford into Kent in message; calling the country together, did much commend from the King their fidelity, manhood, and well handling of that service; and gave them all thanks, and, in private, promised reward to some particulars.
Upon the sixteenth of November, this being the eleventh year of the King, was holden the serjeants feast at Ely-place, there being nine serjeants of that call. The King, to honour the feast, was present with his Queen at the dinner; being a prince that was ever ready to grace and countenance the professors of the law; having a little of that, that as he governed his subjects by his laws, so he governed his laws by his lawyers.
This year also the King entered into league with the Italian potentates for the defence of Italy against France. For King Charles had conquered the realm of Naples, and lost it again, in a kind of felicity of a dream. He passed the whole length of Italy without resistance; so that it was true which Pope Alexander was wont to say, That the Frenchmen came into Italy with chalk in their hands, to mark up their lodgings, rather than with swords to fight. He likewise entered and won, in effect, the whole kingdom of Naples itself, without striking stroke. But presently thereupon he did commit and multiply so many errors, as was too great a task for the best fortune to overcome. He gave no contentment to the barons of Naples, of the faction of the Angeovines; but scattered his rewards according to the mercenary