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From the general peace of the country the King's care went on to the peace of the King's house, and the security of his great officers and counsellors. But this law was somewhat of a strange composition and temper. That if any of the King's servants under the degree of a lord, do conspire the death of any of the King's council or lord of the realm, it is made capital. This law was thought to be procured by the lord Chancellor, who being a stern and haughty man, and finding he had some mortal enemies in court, provided for his own safety; drowning the envy of it in a general law, by communicating the privilege with all other counsellors and peers, and yet not daring to extend it farther than to the King's servants in check-roll, lest it should have been too harsh to the gentlemen, and other commons of the kingdom; who might have thought their ancient liberty, and the clemency of the laws of England invaded, if the will in any case of felony should be made the deed. And yet the reason which the act yieldeth, that is to say, that he that conspireth the death of counsellors may be thought indirectly, and by a mean, to conspire the death of the King himself, is indifferent to all subjects, as well as to servants in court. But it seemeth this sufficed to serve the lord Chancellor's turn at this time. But yet he lived to need a general law, for that he grew afterwards as odious to the country, as he was then to the court.
From the peace of the King's house, the King's care extended to the peace of private houses and families. For there was an excellent moral law molded thus; the taking and carrying away of women forcibly and against their will, except female-wards and bondwomen, was made capital. The parliament wisely and justly conceiving, that the obtaining of women by force into possession, howsoever afterwards assent might follow by allurements, was but a rape drawn forth in length, because the first force drew on all the rest.
There was made also another law for peace in general, and repressing of murders and manslaughters, and was in amendment of the common laws of the realm; being this: That whereas by the common law the
King's suit, in case of homicide, did expect the year and the day, allowed to the party's suit by way of appeal; and that it was found by experience, that the party was many times compounded with, and many times wearied with the suit, so that in the end such suit was let fall, and by that time the matter was in a manner forgotten, and thereby prosecution at the King's suit by indictment, which is ever best, flagrante crimine, neglected; it was ordained, that the suit by indictment might be taken as well at any time within the year and the day, as after; not prejudicing ne vertheless the party's suit.
The King began also then, as well in wisdom as in justice, to pare a little the privilege of clergy, ordaining that clerks convict should be burned in the hand; both because they might taste of some corporal punishment, and that they might carry a brand of infamy. But for this good act's sake, the King himself was after branded, by Perkin's proclamation, for an execrable breaker of the rites of holy Church.
Another law was made for the better peace of the country; by which law the King's officers and farmers were to forfeit their places and holds, in case of unlawful retainer, or partaking in routs and unlawful assemblies.
These were the laws that were made for repressing of force, which those times did chiefly require; and were so prudently framed, as they are found fit for all succeeding times, and so continue to this day.
There were also made good and politic laws that par liament, against usury, which is the bastard use of money; and against unlawful chievances and exchanges, which is bastard usury; and also for the security of the King's customs; and for the employment of the procedures of foreign commodities, brought in by merchantstrangers, upon the native commodities of the realm; together with some other laws of less importance.
But howsoever the laws made in that parliament did bear good and wholesome fruit; yet the subsidy granted at the same time bare a fruit that proved harsh and bitter. All was inned at last into the King's barn, but it was after a storm. For when the commissioners en、
tered into the taxation of the subsidy in Yorkshire, and the bishoprick of Duresm; the people upon a sudden grew into great mutiny, and said openly, That they had endured of late years a thousand miseries, and neither could nor would pay the subsidy. This, no doubt, proceeded not simply of any present necessity, but much by reason of the old humour of those countries, where the memory of King Richard was so strong, that it lay like lees in the bottom of mens hearts; and if the vessel was but stirred, it would come up. And, no doubt, it was partly also by the instigation of some factious malecontents, that bare principal stroke amongst them. Hereupon the commissioners being somewhat astonished, deferred the matter unto the earl of Northumberland, who was the principal man of authority in those parts. The earl forthwith wrote unto the court, signifying to the King plainly enough in what flame he found the people of those countries, and praying the King's direction. The King wrote back peremptorily, That he would not have one penny abated, of that which had been granted to him by parliament; both because it might encourage other countries, to pray the like release or mitigation; and chiefly because he would never endure that the base multitude should frustrate the authority of the parliament, wherein their votes and consents were concluded. Upon this dispatch from court, the earl assembled the principal justices and freeholders of the country; and speaking to them in that imperious language, wherein the King had written to him, which needed not, save that an harsh business was unfortunately fallen into the hands. of a harsh man, did not only irritate the people, but make them conceive, by the stoutness and haughtiness of delivery of the King's errand, that himself was the author or principal persuader of that counsel; whereupon the meaner sort routed together, and suddenly assailing the earl in his house, slew him, and divers of his servants: and rested not there, but creating for their leader Sir John Egremond, a factious person, and one that had of a long time born an ill talent towards the King; and being animated also by a base fellow,
called John a Chamber, a very boutefeu, who bare much sway amongst the vulgar and popular, entered into open rebellion; and gave out in flat terms, that they would go against King Henry, and fight with him for the maintenance of their liberties.
When the King was advertised of this new insurrection, being almost a fever that took him every year, after his manner little troubled therewith, he sent Thomas, earl of Surry, whom he had a little before not only released out of the Tower, and pardoned, but also received to special favour, with a competent power against the rebels, who fought with the principal band of them, and defeated them, and took alive John a Chamber their firebrand. As for Sir John Egremond, he fled into Flanders to the lady Margaret of Burgundy, whose palace was the sanctuary and receptacle of all traitors against the King. John a Chamber was executed at York in great state; for he was hanged upon a gibbet raised a stage higher in the midst of a square gallows, as a traitor paramount; and a number of his men that were his chief complices, were hanged upon the lower story round about him; and the rest were generally pardoned. Neither did the King him self omit his custom, to be first or second in all his warlike exploits, making good his word, which was usual with him when he heard of rebels, that he desired but to see them. For immediately after he had sent down the earl of Surry, he marched towards them himself in person. And although in his journey he heard news of the victory, yet he went on as far as York, to pacify and settle those countries: and that done, returned to London, leaving the earl of Surry for his lieutenant in the northern parts, and Sir Richard Tunstal for his principal commissioner, to levy the subsidy, whereof he did not remit a denier.
About the same time that the King lost so good a servant as the earl of Northumberland, he lost likewise a faithful friend and ally of James the third, King of Scotland, by a miserable disaster. For this unfortunate Prince, after a long smother of discontent, and hatred of many of his nobility and people, breaking forth at
times into seditions and alterations of court, was at last distressed by them, having taken arms, and surprised the person of Prince James his son, partly by force, partly by threats, that they would otherwise deliver up the kingdom to the king of England, to shadow their rebellion, and to be the titular and painted head of those arms. Whereupon the King, finding himself too weak, sought unto King Henry, as also unto the Pope, and the King of France, to compose those troubles between him and his subjects. The Kings accordingly interposed their mediation in a round and princely manner: not only by way of request and persuasion, but also by way of protestation and menace; declaring, That they thought it to be the common cause of all Kings, if subjects should be suffered to give laws unto their sovereign, and that they would accordingly resent it, and revenge it. But the rebels, that had shaken off the greater yoke of obedience, had likewise cast away the lesser tie of respect. And fury prevailing above fear, made answer; That there was no talking of peace, except the King would resign his crown. Whereupon, treaty of accord taking no place, it came to a battle of Bannocksbourn by Strivelin in which battle the King, transported with wrath and just indignation, inconsiderately fighting and precipitating the charge, before his whole numbers came up to him, was, notwithstanding the contrary express and strait commandment of the Prince his son, slain in the pursuit, being fled to a mill, situate in a field, where the battle was fought.
As for the Pope's ambassy, which was sent by Adrian de Castello an Italian legate, and perhaps as those times were, might have prevailed more, it came too late for the ambassy, but not for the ambassador. For passing through England, and being honourably entertained, and received of King Henry, who ever applied himself with much respect to the see of Rome, he fell into great grace with the King, and great familiarity and friendship with Morton the Chancellor: insomuch as the King taking a liking to him, and finding him to his mind, preferred him to the bishoprick of Hereford, and