Page images

down the most memorable laws that passed in the times whereof they writ, being indeed the principal acts of peace. For though they may be had in original books of law themselves; yet that informeth not the judgment of Kings and counsellors, and persons of estate, so well as to see them described, and entered in the table and pourtrait of the times.

About the same time the King had a loan from the city of four thousand pounds; which was double to that they lent before, and was duly and orderly paid back at the day, as the former likewise had been: the King ever choosing rather to borrow too soon, than to pay too late, and so keeping up his credit.

Neither had the King yet cast off his cares and hopes touching Britain, but thought to master the occasion by policy, though his arms had been unfortunate; and to bereave the French King of the fruit of his victory. The sum of his design was, to encourage Maximilian to go on with his suit, for the marriage of Anne, the heir of Britain, and to aid him to the consummation thereof. But the affairs of Maximilian were at that time in great trouble and combustion, by a rebellion of his subjects in Flanders; especially those of Bruges and Gaunt, whereof the town of Bruges, at such time as Maximilian was there in person, had suddenly armed in tumult, and slain some of his principal officers, and taken himself prisoner, and held him in durance, till they had enforced him and some of his counsellors, to take a solemn oath to pardon all their offences, and never to question and revenge the same in time to come. Nevertheless Frederick the Emperor would not suffer this reproach and indignity offered to his son to pass, but made sharp wars upon Flanders, to reclaim and chastise the rebels. But the lord Ravenstein, a principal person about Maximilian, and one that had taken the oath of abolition with his master, pretending the religion thereof, but indeed upon private ambition, and, as it was thought, instigated and corrupted from France, forsook the Emperor and Maximilian his lord, and made himself an head of the popular party, and seized upon the towns of Ipres and Sluice with both the castles: and

[blocks in formation]

forthwith sent to the lord Cordes, governor of Picardy under the French King, to desire aid; and to move him, that he, on the behalf of the French King, would be protector of the united towns, and by force of arms reduce the rest. The lord Cordes was ready to embrace the occasion, which was partly of his own setting, and sent forthwith greater forces than it had been possible for him to raise on the sudden, if he had not looked for such a summons before, in aid of the lord Ravenstein and the Flemings, with instructions to invest the towns between France and Bruges. The French forces besieged a little town called Dixmude, where part of the Flemish forces joined with them. While they lay at this siege, the King of England, upon pretence of the safety of the English pale about Calais, but in truth being loth that Maximilian should become contemptible, and thereby be shaken off by the states of Britain about this marriage, sent over the lord Morley with a thousand men, unto the lord D'Aubigny, then deputy of Calais, with secret instructions to aid Maximilian, and to raise the siege of Dixmude. The lord D'Aubigny, giving it out that all was for the strengthening of the English marches, drew out of the garrisons of Calais, Hammes and Guines, to the number of a thousand men more. So that with the fresh succours that came under the conduct of the lord Morley, they made up to the number of two thousand or better. Which forces joining with some companies of Almains, put themselves into Dixmude, not perceived by the enemies; and passing through the town with some reinforcement, from the forces that were in the town, assailed the enemies camp negligently guarded, as being out of fear; where there was a bloody fight, in which the English and their partakers obtained the victory, and slew to the number of eight thousand men, with the loss on the English part of a hundred or thereabouts; amongst whom was the lord Morley. They took also their great ordnance, with much rich spoils, which they carried to Newport; whence the lord D'Aubigny returned to Calais, leaving the hurt men and-some other voluntaries in Newport. But the

lord Cordes being at Ipres with a great power of men, thinking to recover the loss and disgrace of the fight at Dixmude, came presently on, and sat down before Newport, and besieged it; and after some days siege, he resolved to try the fortune of an assault. Which he did one day, and succeeded therein so far, that he had taken the principal tower and fort in that city, and planted upon it the French banner. Whence nevertheless they were presently beaten forth by the English, by the help of some fresh succours of archers, arriving by good fortune, at the instant, in the haven of Newport. Whereupon the lord Cordes, discouraged, and measuring the new succours, which were small, by the success, which was great, levied his siege. By this means matters grew more exasperate between the two Kings of England and France, for that, in the war of Flanders, the auxiliary forces of French and English were much blooded one against another. Which blood rankled the more, by the vain words of the lord Cordes, that declared himself an open enemy of the English, beyond that that appertained to the present service; making it a common by-word of his, "That he could " be content to lie in hell seven years, so he might win "Calais from the English."

The King having thus upheld the reputation of Maximilian, advised him now to press on his marriage with Britain to a conclusion. Which Maximilian ac

cordingly did, and so far forth prevailed, both with the young lady and with the principal persons about her, as the marriage was consummated by proxy, with a ceremony at that time in these parts new. For she was not only publicly contracted, but stated, as a bride, and solemnly bedded; and after she was laid, there came in Maximilian's ambassador with letters of procuration, and in the presence of sundry noble personages, men and women, put his leg, stript naked to the knee, between the espousal sheets; to the end, that that ceremony might be thought to amount to a consummation and actual knowledge. This done, Maximilian, whose property was to leave things then when they were almost come to perfection, and to end them by imagination;

like ill archers, that draw not their arrows up to the head; and who might as easily have bedded the lady himself, as to have made a play and disguise of it, thinking now all assured, neglected for a time his further proceeding, and intended his wars. Mean while the French King, consulting with his divines, and finding that this pretended consummation was rather an invention of court, than any ways valid by the laws of the Church, went more really to work, and by secret instruments and cunning agents, as well matrons about the young lady as counsellors, first sought to remove the point of religion and honour out of the mind of the lady herself, wherein there was a double labour. For Maximilian was not only contracted unto the lady, but Maximilian's daughter was likewise contracted to King Charles. So as the marriage halted upon both feet, and was not clear on either side. But for the contract with King Charles, the exception lay plain and fair; for that Maximilian's daughter was under years of consent, and so not bound by law, but a power of disagreement left to either part. But for the contract made by Maximilian with the lady herself, they were harder driven: having nothing to alledge, but that it was done without the consent of her sovereign lord King Charles, whose ward and client she was, and he to her in place of a father; and therefore it was void and of no force for want of such consent. Which defect, they said, though it would not evacuate a marriage after cohabitation and actual consummation; yet it was enough to make void a contract. For as for the pretended consummation, they made sport with it, and said: "That it was an ar"gument that Maximilian was a widower, and a cold "wooer, that could content himself to be a bridegroom by deputy, and would not make a little jour"ney to put all out of question." So that the young lady, wrought upon by these reasons, finely instilled by such as the French King, who spared for no rewards or promises, had made on his side; and allured likewise by the present glory and greatness of King Charles, being also a young King, and a bachelor, and loth to make her country the seat of a long and miserable war;


secretly yielded to accept of King Charles. But during this secret treaty with the lady, the better to save it from blasts of opposition and interruption, King Charles resorting to his wonted arts, and thinking to carry the marriage as he had carried the wars, by entertaining the King of England in vain belief, sent a solemn ambassage by Francis lord of Luxemburg, Charles Marignian, and Robert Gagvien, general of the order of the bons hommes of the Trinity, to treat a peace and league with the King; accoupling it with an article in the nature of a request, that the French King might with the King's good will, according unto his right of seigniory and tutelage, dispose of the marriage of the young duchess of Britain, as he should think good; offering by a judicial proceeding to make void the marriage of Maximilian by proxy. Also all this while, the better to amuse the world, he did continue in his court and custody the daughter of Maximilian, who formerly had been sent unto him, to be bred and educated in France; not dismissing or renvoying her, but contrariwise professing and giving out strongly, that he meant to proceed with that match. And that for the duchess of Britain, he desired only to preserve his right of seigniory, and to give her in marriage to some such ally as might depend upon him.

When the three commissioners came to the court of England, they delivered their ambassage unto the King, who remitted them to his council; where some days after they had audience, and made their proposition by the prior of the Trinity, who though he were third in place, yet was held the best speaker of them, to this effect.

[ocr errors]


My lords, the King our master, the greatest and mightiest King that reigned in France since Charles "the Great, whose name he beareth, hath nevertheless thought it no disparagement to his greatness at "this time to propound a peace; yea, and to pray a peace with the King of England. For which purpose he hath sent us his commissioners, instructed " and enabled with full and ample power to treat and "conclude; giving us further in charge, to open in

[ocr errors]



« PreviousContinue »