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as well to the King of England as to the King of Spain, to incite them to war and to treat a league offensive against France,

James Contibald to Henry, to propose that they should join their forces against Charles; himself engaging to contribute not less than 10,000 men for two years, and as soon as he should be ready for the war to let Henry know, giving him six months for preparation that Henry, who felt that the case of Brittany would not bear any longer delay, and who was already of his own motion raising forces for her defence, was delighted with this message, and promised that Maximilian should not find him unprepared: that in the mean time (that is, as I understand it, while the arrangement between Henry and Maximilian stood thus), Charles married Anne and so carried off Duchy and Duchess together :- that Maximilian, as soon as the first burst of his rage was over, concluding that something must be done for the reparation of his honour, warned Henry to prepare for war with France with all speed, for he should soon be ready: that Henry, in reliance upon this promise, immediately levied a great army and sent word that he was ready and would put to sea as soon as he heard that Maximilian was ready too: that his messengers found Maximilian totally unprepared :—that their report to that effect, being quite unexpected, threw him into great perplexity, for he feared that the war would be too much for him if he undertook it alone, and that the people would reproach and calumniate him if he declined it:—but that weighing the honour against the danger, he resolved for honour; made up his mind to attack France single-handed; raised fresh forces, and keeping Maximilian's defection a secret from his troops lest it should dispirit them, set out for Calais (for at last we come to a date) VIII. Iduum Septembris, the 6th of September.

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Now since there is no hint here of any concurrent embassy to Spain, we may very well suppose that Contibald's business was not the negotiation of that triple league between Maximilian, Henry, and Ferdinand, which held so important a place in Henry's policy; but some separate arrangement in which Maximilian and Henry were concerned alone. And since it is represented as occurring certainly before the marriage, and may for anything that is said to the contrary have occurred a good while before, -if we find traces of any such arrangement at any time within the preceding half year, and the circumstances seem otherwise to suit, we need not reject it on account of the date. Now such a separate arrangement was (it seems) concluded between Henry and Maximilian about the end of May, 1491; and this I suspect was really the business of the mission which Polydore speaks of; though Polydore, mistaking the date, connected and confounded it with other matters of like nature that happened after.

The arrangement to which I allude (my information comes chiefly from Lobineau, i. p. 813, 4, who seems to have studied D'Argentré carefully) appears to have been no part of the great convention between Maximilian, Henry, and Ferdinand, for a joint invasion of France; which was in force indeed at the time, but did not provide for such speedy action as the present accident seemed to require. That convention had been concluded in September, 1490; a date considerably earlier than Bacon would have assigned, but agreeing perfectly well with his theory of Henry's policy; for it would seem from that that Henry had taken care, before he finally broke with France, to provide himself with those occasions, first for making the show of war and then for accepting terms of peace, which Bacon detected in the broad outlines of the case, through all Polydore's errors of detail. Already it seems he had engaged Maximilian and Ferdinand to take their part in a combined movement against Charles; which if they performed, he would have power to command what terms of peace he pleased; if not, he would have a fair excuse for accepting such terms as he could get. The seed thus timely sown came prosperously to harvest at last in the treaty of Estaples, as we shall see; but that was not till the end of 1492.

Charles in the mean time, unwilling to provoke a combined attack from so formidable a confederacy, forbore to renew his suspended hostilities against Brittany, and applied himself entirely to win the Duchess by peaceful arts from her engagement to Maximilian. The Duchess however, encouraged no doubt by these great alliances, stood well out against his suit; and at length (by way perhaps of ending it at once) assumed publicly the title of Queen of the Romans. This was in March, 1490-1, at which time D'Argentré (xiii. 57.) supposes Charles to have just discovered the marriage. So decisive a step stirred him to take stronger measures, and at the same time gave him an ally in D'Albret, an old aspirant to the Duchess's hand whose hopes it extinguished. By this man's means he made himself master of the important town

promising to concur with great forces of his own. Hereupon the King of England (going nevertheless his own way) called a Parliament, it being the seventh year of his reign1; and

of Nantes; a town which in the beginning of the war, it will be remembered, he had attempted in vain to take; which in the summer of 1490 he had again (it would seem) invested (see Rymer, 12 June, 1490); and which was now on the 19th of February, 1490-1, delivered into the hands of the French. Charles himself entered it on the 4th of April, 1491. Upon the news of this, Maximilian, alarmed and roused in his turn, got his father the Emperor to call a Diet (une Diette des Estates d'Allemagne), who voted him a force of 12.000 lanzknechts. They were to be sent to the succour of the Duchess in August, and to be joined by 6000 English. This I take to have been the occasion and business of the mission of which Polydore speaks. And since it is certain that ambassadors were despatched from Brittany on the 24th of May, 1491, as from the King and Queen of the Romans, to solicit succour from Henry; and that James Contibald (or Gondebault) was in England about the same time negotiating on the part of Maximilian concerning the repayment of expences incurred in the affairs of Brittany; that would seem to be the most probable date of it a date of some consequence in connexion with Henry's next proceeding; concerning which I have a doubt to raise and settle.

The arrangement, whatever it was, was ineffectual. It is said that some succours were sent from England (forces were certainly raised there in April and May, 1491; see Cal. Pat. Rolls, pp. 37. 63. 71. 70.), but not enough to do any good by themselves; that for Maximilian's lanzknechts, Charles strengthened his frontiers against their passage and kept them from joining, while he proceeded to take Guincamp; and that the Duchess, seeing her towns going and no succour coming, and that whether she made her appeal against Charles to arms or to arbitration, he was obviously in a condition to defeat her either way, at length despaired of resistance, and consented to compound the quarrel by becoming Queen of France and merging her duchy in her


The only Parliament that was held in Henry's seventh year met on the 17th October, 1491. It could not therefore have been called in consequence of the marriage, which had not yet taken place. This however, considering the doubt and confusion in which all the events and dates of these transactions are involved, would be of no great consequence. The intentions of the French King to possess himself of Brittany by one means or another must have been sufficiently known before October, and would be ground enough for calling a war-parliament.

But there is another difficulty which is not so easily explained. Nothing can be more distinct and positive than Polydore Vergil's statement that the exaction of the benevolence was subsequent to the meeting of this assembly, and in fact sanctioned by it. "Convocato principum concilio, primum exponit causas belli sumendi contra Francos; deinde eos poscit pro bello pecuniam. Causas belli cuncti generatim probant, suamque operam pro se quisque offert. Rex, collaudatâ suorum virtute, ut populus tributo non gravaretur, cui gratificandum existimabat, voluit molliter ac leniter pecuniam a locupletioribus per benevolentiam exigere. Fuit id exactionis genus," &c. Of which the corresponding passage in Stowe may serve for a translation. He "called a Parliament, and therein declared that he was justly provoked to make war against the Frenchmen, and therefore desired them of their benevolence of money and men towards the maintenance thereof. Every man allowed the cause to be just, and promised his helping hand. And to the intent he might spare the poorer sort he thought good first to exact money of the richest sort by way of a benevolence, which kind of levying of money was first practised," &c. Nothing on the other hand can be more certain than that the commissions for the benevolence were issued more than three months before the Parliament met; and that the supplies which were voted by the Parliament when it did meet were not in the form of a benevolence, but an ordinary tax of two fifteenths and tenths. We have here therefore a substantial inaccuracy of some kind, which cannot be set right by shifting a date or correcting a careless expression. The revival of this exaction was an important matter. Polydore's next words show that he knew what it meant; and he could not have overlooked the importance of the question whether it was done before or after a Parliament, with or without a Parliamentary sanction.

I am persuaded that the error lies deeper; that, as the case was nearly the same as

the first day of opening thereof (sitting under his cloth of estate) spake himself unto his Lords and Commons in this


that of 1488, so the error is exactly the same as that which I have pointed out in note 5. p. 74. I am persuaded that Polydore, on this as on that occasion, mistook a Great Council for a Parliament; that Henry, on this occasion as on that, before he called a regular Parliament took the precaution of calling one of these quasi-parliaments; with a view partly to ascertain the sense of the people and partly to engage them in the cause before he engaged himself: and that it was to a Great Council held in June, 1491, or thereabouts, that he now declared his intention to invade France, at the same time asking their advice as to the raising of supplies.

For the grounds of this conclusion and for an answer to objections, I must again refer to the appendix. If I am right, the fact and the date will be found to be of some value, both as clearing the narrative and as illustrating Henry's character and policy. It will be seen that when the French King took possession of Nantes and was obviously proceeding to absorb Brittany either by arms or by marriage or by arbitration; and when Maximilian was about to raise a force of 12,000 men to oppose him, and called upon Henry to join; which was as I suppose in April or May, 1491; Henry had a good case to go to his people with. Having first therefore spread an alarm of French invasion (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 5 May, p. 71.), and made some stir of warlike preparation to warm the blood and feel the pulse of the people, he proceeded in the same course which had succeeded so well in 1488; and immediately summoned not his Parliament, which could not perhaps have been assembled so expeditiously as the time required — but a Great Council, which he could make as fair a representative of a Parliament as he pleased, and which, though it had no power to make laws or impose taxes, yet served very well both to express and react upon the public opinion of the time. Finding them in an apt humour, and having all his precautions ready taken, he boldly announced his intention of making an invasive war upon France, and thereupon (pretending probably the urgency of the occasion, which could not wait for the ordinary course,) obtained their advice and consent (which though it carried no legal authority would in a popular cause carry authority enough for the purpose) to send out commissioners to levy a "benevolence." A commission "de subsidio requirendo pro viagio Francia" was accordingly issued (7th July, 1491); by which, after a preamble declaring the grounds of the intended war, which it represents as undertaken, not "de advisamento concilii nostri," but "ad instantiam et specialem requisitionem tam dominorum spiritualium et temporalium quam aliorum nobilium," the requisite authority was conveyed to a number of persons, each to act within a specified county. But as these Great Councils could only give advice and such authority as the opinion and personal influence of the members carried with it, Henry seems to have used them only as preparatory to regular Parliaments. A regular Parliament was accordingly summoned shortly after, which (in consideration probably of the succours to Brittany, upon which the benevolence money must have been partly consumed, and also of its more distressed state and more imminent danger), voted fresh supplies, but to be raised by ordinary taxation; and passed the laws which were convenient for a state of war.

If we suppose therefore the speech which follows to have been addressed to a Great Council in June, 1491; the benevolence to have been levied, with their advice, in July and August; some succours to have been sent to Brittany about the same time; and the Parliament to have met on the 17th of October; we shall have supplied all the correction which (so far as I know) Bacon's narrative requires; and we shall find that his interpretation of Henry's views and policy and character is illustrated and confirmed by the change.

It may be worth mentioning, as a confirmation of this conjecture, that whereas Bacon expressly represents the King as making the declaration in person, it does not appear from the Parliament Rolls that he did open in person the session of October. 1491. Bacon is not likely, I think, to have stated it so expressly, if it were only an inference from Polydore's expression "exponit causas," &c. It is more likely that he had some fuller account of the speech itself. And it need not be thought that the same account would have enabled him to correct the error. It may on the contrary have authorised and established it. Of such a declaration as this there would no doubt at the time be many copies or abstracts circulated. At the time, "His.

"My Lords and you the Commons; when I purposed to make a war in Brittaine by my lieutenant, I made declaration thereof to you by my Chancellor. But now that I mean to make a war upon France in person, I will declare it to you myself. That war was to defend another man's right, but this is to recover our own; and that ended by accident, but we hope this shall end in victory.


"The French King troubles the Christian world. That which he hath is not his own, and yet he seeketh more. hath invested himself of Brittaine.' He maintaineth the rebels in Flanders: and he threateneth Italy. For ourselves, he hath proceeded from dissimulation to neglect, and from neglect to contumely. He hath assailed our confederates: he denieth our tribute: in a word, he seeks war. So did not his father; but sought peace at our hands; and so perhaps will he, when good counsel or time shall make him see as much as his father did.

"Meanwhile, let us make his ambition our advantage, and let us not stand upon a few crowns of tribute or acknowledgement, but by the favour of Almighty God try our right for the crown of France itself; remembering that there hath been a French King prisoner in England, and a King of England crowned in France. Our confederates are not diminished. Burgundy is in a mightier hand than ever, and never more provoked. Brittaine cannot help us, but it may hurt them. New acquests are more burden than strength. The malcontents of his own kingdom have not been base populace nor titulary impostors; but of an higher nature. The King of Spain (doubt ye not) will join with us, not knowing where the French King's ambition will stay. Our holy father (the Pope) likes no Tramontanes in Italy. But howsoever it be, this matter of confederates is rather to be thought on than

Majesty's Speech" would be description quite sufficient. One of these happened perhaps to be preserved. A collector coming into possession of it, and wanting to know in what department of his collection it should be put, fixed the year at once from the circumstances. It was plainly a declaration of war with France, about the time when Brittany was absorbed into the French monarchy. Then he turned to his Polydore, or Hall, or Holinshed, or Stowe, found this passage, and wrote on the back "The Speech of K. Henry 7, at the opening of the Parliament in 1491;" which would seem to be authority sufficient for stating that Henry opened the session in person.

So Ed. 1622. The MS. has "he hath invested Brittaine."

2 The Ed. of 1622 has "base, popular." In the MS. it seems to have been first written "populare," but the r has plainly been corrected into a c.

reckoned on; for God forbid but England should be able to get reason of France without a second.

"At the battles of Cressy, Poictiers, Agent-Court, we were of ourselves. France hath much people, and few soldiers: they have no stable bands of foot. Some good horse they have, but those are forces which are least fit for a defensive war, where the actions are in the assailant's choice. It was our discords only that lost France; and (by the power of God) it is the good peace which we now enjoy that will recover it. God hath hitherto blessed my sword. I have in this time that I have reigned, weeded out my bad subjects, and tried my good. My people and I know one another; which breeds confidence. And if there should be any bad blood left in the kingdom, an honourable foreign war will vent it or purify it. In this great business let me have your advice and aid. If any of you were to make his son knight, you might have aid of your tenants by law. This concerns the knighthood and spurs of the kingdom, whereof I am father; and bound not only to seek to maintain it, but to advance it. But for matter of treasure let it not be taken from the poorest sort, but from those to whom the benefit of the war may redound. France is no wilderness, and I that profess 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 Parliament wholly for this cause."

Thus spake the King. But for all this, though he shewed great forwardness for a war, not only to his Parliament and court, but to his privy counsel 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 he had of his forces sent into Brittaine that the French knew well enough how to make war with the English; by not putting things to the hazard of a battle, but wearying 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 2 So MS. Ed. 1622 has "wearing."


So MS. Ed. 1622 has "that he."

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