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"but from those to whom the benefit of the war may "redound. France is no wilderness; and I, that pro "fess good husbandry, hope to make the war, after "the beginnings, to pay itself. Go together in God's name, and lose no time; for I have called this parlia ment wholly for this cause."
Thus spake the King; but for all this, though he shewed great forwardness for a war, not only to his par liament and court, but to his privy council likewise, except the two bishops and a few more, yet nevertheless in his secret intentions he had no purpose to go through with any war upon France. But the truth was, that he did but traffic with that war, to make his return in money. He knew well, that France was now entire and at unity with itself, and never so mighty many years before. He saw by the taste that he had of his forces sent into Bri. tain, that the French knew well enough how to make war with the English, by not putting things to the ha zard of a battle, but wearing them by long sieges of towns, and strong fortified encampings. James the third of Scotland, his true friend and confederate, gone; and James the fourth, that had succeeded, wholly at the devotion of France, and ill affected towards him: As for the conjunctions of Ferdinando of Spain and Maximilian, he could make no foundation upon them. For the one had power, and not will; and the other had will, and not power. Besides that, Ferdinando had but newly taken breath from the war with the Moors; and merchanded at this time, with France for the re storing of the counties of Russignon and Perpignian, oppignorated to the French. Neither was he out of fear of the discontents and ill blood within the realm; which having used always to repress and appease in person, he was loth they should find him at a distance beyond sea, and engaged in war. Finding therefore the inconveniencies and difficulties in the prosecution. of a war, he cast with himself how to compass two things. The one, how by the declaration and inchoation of a war to make his profit. The other, how to come off from the war with saving of his honour. profit, it was to be made two ways; upon his subjects
for the war, and upon his enemies for the peace; like a good merchant, that maketh his gain both upon the commodities exported, and imported back again. For the point of honour, wherein he might suffer for giving over the war; he considered well, that as he could not trust upon the aids of Ferdinando and Maximilian for supports of war; so the impuissance of the one, and the double proceeding of the other, lay fair for him for occasions to accept of peace. These things he did wisely foresee, and did as artificially conduct, whereby all things fell into his lap as he desired.
For as for the parliament, it presently took fire, being affectionate, of old, to the war of France; and desirous afresh to repair the dishonour they thought the King sustained by the loss of Britain. Therefore they advised the King, with great alacrity, to undertake the war of France. And although the parliament consisted of the first and second nobility, together with principal citizens and townsmen, yet worthily and justly respecting more the people, whose deputies they were, than their own private persons, and finding by the lord Chancellor's speech the King's inclination that way; they consented that commissioners should go forth for the gathering and levying of a benevolence from the more able sort. This tax, called a benevolence, was devised by Edward the fourth, for which he sustained much envy. It was abolished by Richard the third by act of parliament, to ingratiate himself with the people; and it was now revived by the King, but with consent of parliament, for so it was not in the time of King Edward the fourth. But by this way he raised exceeding great sums. Insomuch as the city of London, in those days, contributed nine thousand pounds and better; and that chiefly levied upon the wealthier sort. There is a tradition of a dilemma, that bishop Morton the Chancellor used, to raise up the benevolence to higher rates; and some called it his fork, and some his crotch. For he had couched an article in the instructions to the commissioners who were to levy the benevolence; "That if they met with any that were sparing, they "should tell them, that they must needs have, because
they laid up and if they were spenders, they must "needs have, because it was seen in their port and manner of living." So neither kind came amiss.
This parliament was merely a parliament of war; for it was in substance but à declaration of war against France and Scotland, with some statutes conducing thereunto: as, the severe punishing of mort-pays, and keeping back of soldiers wages in captains; the like severity for the departure of soldiers without licence; strengthening of the common law in favour of protections for those that were in the King's service; and the setting the gate open and wide for men to sell or mortgage their lands, without fines for alienation, to furnish themselves with money for the war; and lastly, the voiding of all Scottish men out of England. There was also a statute for the dispersing of the standard of the exchequer throughout England; thereby to size weights, and measures; and two or three more of less importance.
After the parliament was broken up, which lasted not long, the King went on with his preparations for the war of France; yet neglected not in the mean time the affairs of Maximilian for the quieting of Flanders, and restoring him to his authority amongst his subjects. For at that time the lord of Ravenstein, being not only a subject rebelled, but a servant revolted, and so much the more malicious and violent, by the aid of Bruges and Gaunt, had taken the town and both the castles of Sluice; as we said before: and having, by the commodity of the haven, gotten together certain ships and barks, fell to a kind of piratical trade; robbing and spoiling, and taking prisoners the ships and vessels of all nations, that passed along that coast towards the mart of Antwerp, or into any part of Brabant, Zealand, or Friezeland; being ever well victualled from Picardy, besides the commodity of victuals from Sluice, and the country adjacent, and the avails of his own prizes. The French assisted him still under-hand; and he likewise, as all men do that have been of both sides, thought himself not safe, except he depended upon a third person.
There was a small town some two miles from Bruges towards the sea, called Dam; which was a fort and approach to Bruges, and had a relation also to Sluice.
This town the King of the Romans had attempted often, not for any worth of the town in itself, but because it might choke Bruges, and cut it off from the sea, and ever failed. But therewith the Duke of Saxony came down into Flanders, taking upon him the person of an umpire, to compose things between Maximilian and his subjects; but being, indeed, fast and assured to Maximilian. Upon this pretext of neutrality and treaty, he repaired to Bruges; desiring of the states of Bruges, to enter peaceably into their town, with a retinue of some number of men of arms fit for his estate; being somewhat the more, as he said, the better to guard him in a country that was up in arms: and bearing them in hand, that he was to communicate with them of divers matters of great importance for their good. Which having obtained of them, he sent his carriages and harbingers before him, to provide his lodging. So that his men of war entered the city in good array, but in peaceable manner, and he followed. They that went before inquired still for inns and lodgings, as if they would have rested there all night; and so went on till they came to the gate that leadeth directly towards Dam; and they of Bruges only gazed upon them, and gave them passage. The captains and inhabitants of Dam also suspected no harm from any that passed through Bruges; and discovering forces afar off supposed they had been some succours that were come from their friends, knowing some dangers towards them. And so perceiving nothing but well till it was too late, suffered them to enter their town. By which kind of slight, rather than stratagem, the town of Dam was taken, and the town of Bruges shrewdly blocked up, whereby they took great discouragement.
The duke of Saxony, having won the town of Dam, sent immediately to the King to let him know, that it was Sluice chiefly, and the lord Ravenstein, that kept the rebellion of Flanders in life: and that if it pleased
the King to besiege it by sea, he also would besiege it by land, and so cut out the core of those wars.
The King, willing to uphold the authority of Maximilian, the better to hold France in awe, and being likewise sued unto by his merchants, for that the seas were much infested by the barks of the lord Ravenstein; sent straightways Sir Edward Poynings, a valiant man, and of good service, with twelve ships, well furnished with soldiers and artillery, to clear the seas, and to besiege Sluice on that part. The Englishmen did not only coop up the lord Ravenstein, that he stirred not, and likewise hold in strait siege the maritime part of the town, but also assailed one of the castles, and renewed the assault so for twenty days space, issuing still out of their ships at the ebb, as they made great slaughter of them of the castle; who continually fought with them to repulse them, though of the English part also were slain a brother of the earl of Oxford's, and some fifty more.
But the siege still continuing more and more strait, and both the castles, which were the principal strength of the town, being distressed, the one by the duke of Saxony, and the other by the English; and a bridge of boats, which the lord Ravenstein had made between both castles, whereby succours and relief might pass from the one to the other, being on a night set on fire by the English; he despairing to hold the town, yielded, at the last, the castles to the English, and the town to the duke of Saxony, by composition. Which done, the duke of Saxony and Sir Edward Poynings treated with them of Bruges, to submit themselves to Maximilian their lord; which after some time they did, paying, in some good part, the charge of the war, whereby the Almains and foreign succours were dismissed. The example of Bruges other of the revolted towns followed; so that Maximilian grew to be out of danger, but, as his manner was to handle matters, never out of necessity. And Sir Edward Poynings, after he had continued at Sluice some good while till all things were settled, returned unto the King, being then before Boloign.