Изображения страниц



Lambert Simnel, and he was the son of a baker at Oxford.

Finding himself at the head of a considerable body of Irishmen, besides the foreigners sent by the Duchess Margaret, Simnel now ventured to encounter King Henry: he landed in Lancashire, and marched to Nottingham without finding any one to check his advance, but no one joined him; for the King had caused the real Earl of Warwick to be taken out of the Tower and led on horseback through the streets of London, that all men might know Simnel to be an impostor. At Stoke, near Newark, the troops of the pretender were met by the king's army, and overthrown with great slaughter. Simnel was made prisoner and brought before the king; and Henry, perceiving that he had been a mere tool in the hands of men more artful than himself, spared his life, and gave him the post of scullion in the royal kitchen,

But a few years afterwards, a much more dangerous pretender claimed the crown of England. Some persons, indeed, believe that he was no pretender; but the very prince whom he represented himself to beRichard of York, the brother of Edward the Fifth. He said that at the time when he and his brother were to have been murdered, some friends contrived to get him out of the Tower, and conveyed him to Flanders, where he had been brought up under a feigned name. He was a youth of princely aspect and demeanour, and strongly resembled his supposed father, Edward the Fourth.

The King of Scotland believed his story, and led an army across the English border to support his claim; but no one in England dared rise up to help

him, for King Henry had seized the chief men amongst the Yorkists and put them to death. Henry had also sent messengers to Flanders, to find out who this adventurer really was; and they had brought back word that he was a young man of low birth, whose true name was Perkin Warbeck. Besides this, two men now came forward and asserted that they were the hired murderers who had put the young King Edward and his brother to death in the Tower. But their story was not believed by everybody, because Henry allowed them to go unpunished.

Still no one dared to help Richard (or Perkin), and when the King of Scotland saw that the English people took no notice of the pretender, he marched his army back again, and told him that he must leave Scotland. Perkin's next attempt was in Cornwall, where the people were very much dissatisfied with King Henry's government. They flocked around him, and in a few weeks he was at the head of ten thousand Cornishmen, with whom he marched into Somersetshire, as far as Taunton; but when he heard that two well-appointed armies were coming against him, he lost heart, and fled for refuge to the sanctuary of Beaulieu in Hampshire. His forces were soon dispersed by the king's troops.

Perkin was persuaded to come out of sanctuary, on receiving a promise that his life should be spared, and was imprisoned, but not very closely. He escaped from his keeper, and tried to flee out of England, and then the king sent him to the Tower, where he was allowed to see the Earl of Warwick very often. At the end of three months, Henry accused the young men of plotting treason together, and caused them to



be executed. Whatever Perkin might have done, the poor young earl was incapable of any crime, for he had no more understanding than an infant; and his cruel execution is the darkest blot on the reign of Henry the Seventh.

He was led to commit this shameful deed of injustice by his desire to obtain the hand of the Spanish princess, Katharine of Arragon, for his eldest son Arthur, Prince of Wales. King Ferdinand, Katharine's father, had refused to let his daughter marry Arthur, as long as a prince of the house of York was living; for he thought that the English people might some day choose to make Warwick king. When he heard that Warwick was dead, he allowed Katharine to come to England; and in November 1501, she was married to Prince Arthur. But the marriage bought with the price of innocent blood was soon dissolved: Arthur died of the plague in less than five months.

Katharine would have returned to her own country now, but King Henry was unwilling to restore the large fortune she had brought with her. So he persuaded Ferdinand to let his daughter remain in England, that she might be married to Arthur's brother, Prince Henry, as soon as he was old enough. Henry was only eleven years of age at this time, Katharine was seven years older.



(From 1502 to 1509.)

THE concluding years of the reign of Henry the Seventh are chiefly remarkable for the extortions of his two ministers, Empson and Dudley. These clever, bad men perverted the laws so dexterously, that numbers of innocent persons were accused of offences which they had never committed, and obliged to pay great sums of money to escape punishment. By such means the king heaped up immense. treasure; but it was a heavy burden on his conscience when death drew nigh. He charged his son to make restitution to the persons who had been wronged; but Prince Henry gave little heed to this injunction. He liked to spend money much better than to give it back again; so, when he came to the throne, he contented himself with putting Empson and Dudley to death, and did not restore the money of which they had plundered his father's subjects.

Henry the Seventh died on the 21st of April, 1509, having reigned nearly twenty-four years. His wife, the gentle Queen Elizabeth of York, had died six years before him. Besides his son Henry, the king left two daughters, Margaret, married to James the Fourth, King of Scotland; and Mary.

The reign of Henry the Seventh is looked upon as the period when the Kings of England began to acquire more power than they had ever possessed before; for the feudal system was coming to an end. It has



been told how in the time of William the First, the largest part of England was portioned out amongst the king's followers, on condition of their doing him service in the time of war, or whenever he should call upon them; and how all these great lords of the land, who were the king's vassals, and were called barons, had vassals of their own, who served them just as they served the king.

A baron, who had a great deal of land to divide amongst his relations and friends, had a great many vassals-that Earl of Warwick, who was killed in the battle of Barnet, had so many that he could lead an army into the field whenever he chose, either to help the king, or to fight against him. For the barons did not always keep their promise to serve the king: if he offended them, or if he governed badly, they often went to war with him, and forced him to change his conduct. We have read of such wars of the barons against the king in the reigns of Henry the Third, and Edward the Second; but there were no barons now, who could carry on a contest of that kind.

Most of the great lords who had governed like princes in their castles, and who were able to bring thousands of armed men into the field, were cut off in the wars of the Roses; and the greater number of those who remained had become so poor that they were glad to sell part of their lands to other men. There were hardly any nobles now who dared even to oppose the king in Parliament. And the members of the House of Commons did not, as yet, take on themselves much authority, excepting in matters which related to trade, or to the granting money to the king. So the power of the king became much

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »