Изображения страниц

children were, they must be sacrificed to the cruel ambition of this wicked man.

The little princes were at this time in the Tower; and Richard at first attempted to bribe the keeper, Sir Robert Brakenbury, to put them to death ; but this plan did not succeed, for Brakenbury would not commit such a crime. The matter therefore was entrusted to another person of different feelings, --Sir James Tyrrell; and the keeper was ordered to deliver up the keys of the Tower to him for one night. In that very night the fearful deed was done. Sir James Tyrrell found some cruel hard-hearted men, accustomed to shed blood, and well prepared for this dreadful work. And then, when the children were fast asleep, locked in each other's arms, and lying peacefully on their pillows, never dreaming

of death or danger,—then the cruel murderers entered the room. They gazed upon the slumbering boys, and perhaps for a moment they almost shrunk in pity from the work they had undertaken. But that feeling soon passed away; and so, taking the pillows and the bolsters, they covered the faces of the sleeping children in such a manner as to prevent their breathing, and to suffocate them; and then, when they were quite dead, the savage men took the bodies from the bed, dug a deep hole beneath the stairs, and buried them there, where no eye, but God's, could see them, and where it was hoped, they never would be discovered. And it was not till many years after, that the bones were found, then crumbling into dust, in that secret burialplace!

And now that Richard had attained, by all these dark ways, to the height of his ambition, and saw his different rivals removed or dead, fresh troubles and anxieties, such as wicked men never fail to meet with, began to arise. The Duke of Buckingham, the very man who had helped him to the throne, became his greatest enemy, and contrived his fall ; just as, you remember, the Earl of Northumberland, many years before, raised a rebellion against Henry IV. whom he had been the means of assisting in his efforts to obtain the crown. Buckingham grew displeased with the king, expecting more from him than Richard was either able or willing to grant; and then taking advantage of the people's natural dislike to the king, and of their wish for a change of government, the Duke began, in conjunction with some others, to plan a scheme for the deliverance of the country from the usurped power under which it suffered.

There was one person to whom the nation might look as having some right to the throne, on the Lancastrian side. This was Henry Tudor,

[ocr errors]

Earl of Richmond, who was descended from Catherine, the widow of Henry V., who afterwards married a Welsh gentleman, named Sir Owen Tudor. Buckingham and his friends planned a marriage between the Earl of Richmond, and Elizabeth the daughter of the late Edward IV., that thus the two families of Lancaster and York might be united, and the sad wars of the Roses terminate. All this was proposed to Henry Tudor; he approved of the scheme, and prepared to come over to England accordingly, and assert his right to the crown, and he had a strong party to aid his cause. But in the meantime, Richard received intelligence that a conspiracy had been formed against him, headed by the Duke of Buckingham; and raising troops immediately in his defence, he commanded the Duke to appear before him. Buckingham did not obey the summons, but took up arms in Wales, and gave the signal of rebellion to his associates in other parts of the country. And he was about to join them, but just then it happened that the river Severn was so swelled by the violent rains which had fallen, that he was unable to cross it. The Welsh soldiers soon became distressed from famine, and deserted him; and Buckingham was then obliged to disguise himself, and seek for shelter and safety in the house of a servant of his family. There he was at last discovered, and brought before the king, who commanded him instantly to be led to execution. Such was the end of the Duke of Buckingham, at first the unprincipled servant and assistant of an unprincipled master, and then his subtle and designing enemy. His fall preceded only a few months that of the unjust and cruel Richard ; so true it is, that “though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished.”

It was in the month of August, 1485, that Henry, Earl of Richmond sailed from Normandy, and landed at Milford Haven, in order to assert his right to the English throne. Richard was soon prepared to meet and resist him; and a battle was fought between them at Bosworth in Leicestershire. On the side of Richard, the loss in this battle was very great, and he himself was among the slain.

His body was found lying dead on the field; it was thrown across a horse, carried to Leicester, and there interred. None lamented his death ; and the Earl of Richmond was generally and gladly acknowledged king, under the title of Henry VII. You will understand, that in him were united the two rival families of Lancaster and York; and as Tudor was his family name, the line of sovereigns, of whom he was the first, is called the line of Tudor. I am sure we shall rejoice that we have now ended the sad


history of the civil wars, which had so long disturbed this country. In the reign of Henry VII. we shall have to talk not so much of fighting and bloodshed, as of the progress which now began to be made in civilization, and arts, and science.

But though Henry VII. was so well received by the people in general, and though, when he had strengthened his claim to the throne by his marriage with the late king's daughter, all seemed fair and prosperous before him, yet two rebellions took place during his reign which for a while disturbed the peace of the country: The first of these was formed by a priest called Simon. His object was to disturb and put an end to the government of the new king; and he endeavoured to accomplish this by means of a young man very much under his influence, named Lambert Simnel. He persuaded this young man to pretend to be the earl of Warwick, the son of the Duke of Clarence, Edward IV's. brother. Simnel, instructed by his master, went over to Ireland, made a party there, and was proclaimed king, under the title of Edward VI., and then, collecting an army, he returned and invaded England. However, this rebellion was ended by a battle which took place at Stoke in Nottinghamshire, in which the party of Simnel was defeated, and himself taken prisoner. In order

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »