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THE BRITISH ADMIRALS,
FROM THE DEPOSITION OF RICHARD II. TO THE
DEATH OF HENRY V.
HENRY IV. was involved in so many troubles at home that he could not attend, for some years after his usurpation, to the pending matters of dispute with Prussia. Meantime the subjects of both countries carried on a piratical warfare, in which the English seem to have been the most successful, but also to have shown themselves the most barbarous. But the Hanse towns gradually became involved in the dispute, and the balance was then as much against the English, because the Vitalians were employed in their service, and also because the influ. ence of their powerful and well-organised confederacy was exercised, wherever it extended, to exclude English goods, or to prevent their sale. Too many of the Hanse merchants had covertly engaged * in piracy, since
* The English ambassadors affirm, that “the doers and authors of the damages, injuries, and robberies," of which they complained, were" hired thereunto at the expenses and charges of the common societies" of the Hanse cities (Wismer and Rostok seem more especially intended); " and that the inhabitants of every household in the foresaid cities, each man, according to his ability, wittingly and purposely set forth one, two, or more men for the very same expedition wherein all and singular the foresaid trespasses were committed." - Hakluyt, i. 170.
the encouragement to it was first so rashly held out by Mecklenburg. The better part of them, however, were desirous of trading in peace; and the governments both of England and Prussia, each suffering in the diminution of their customs, assailed by the complaints of their subjects, and having, by reason of their distance from each other, and remote relations, no feelings of mutual
hostility, were sincerely desirous of accommodating all A.D. differences. Accordingly, in the fifth year of Henry's 1403. reign, ambassadors from the master-general Conrad von
Jungingen came to England. They arrived in July ; and the intercourse between the two countries was then re-opened till the Easter following, after which it was again to be closed, unless, in the mean time, an agreement should have been concluded. Letters were sent by a merchant of Lynn, notifying this to the grand master: the injury which both parties had sustained was charged in these letters upon “pirates roving up and down the sea;" and Henry particularly requested a more free passage for his subjects to parts of Sconia, “ for the
providing of herrings and of other fish there.” 1404. The amicable purport of the king's letter was fully
acknowledged, and answered in a correspondent spirit. But the grand master objected to open his ports before all matters were finally settled. “To this,” he said, answer (under correction of your majesty's more deliberate counsel), that it is far more expedient for both parts to have this prohibition continued than released, until such time as satisfaction be performed on both sides unto the parties endamaged, not in words only, but actually and really in deeds, or by some course of law, or friendly composition. For there is no equal or indifferent kind of consort or trade between the impoverished party and him that is enriched, between the party which hath obtained justice and him that hath obtained none, and between the offender and the party oftended ; because they are not moved with like affections ; for the remembrance of injuries easily stirreth up inconsiderate motions of anger. Also such a kind
TRANSACTIONS WITH PRUSSIA.
of temperature or permixtion, as it were, by way of contrariety, breedeth more bitterness than sweetness, more hate than love ; whereupon more grievous complaints, as well unto your highness as unto ourselves, might be occasioned. The Lord knoweth that, even now, we are too much wearied and disquieted with the importunate and instant complaints of our subjects; insomuch that we cannot, at this present, by any convenient means, release the said prohibition, before we be sufficiently informed by your majesty's ambassadors of the satisfaction of our endamaged subjects.” With regard to the fishery on the coast of Sconia, he said, that, “full sore against his will," he had been compelled to send a force against the queen of Denmark and her people, but that a truce was now concluded, and that force had returned home. “ Far be it from me,” he added, “ that our subjects, being occupied in wars, should in any sort willingly molest any strangers of other lands or nations soever, not being our professed enemies; for this should be to oppress the innocent instead of the guilty, to condemn the just for the unjust, than which nothing can be more cruel, nor a revenge of greater impiety.” Well had it been for humanity if the Teutonic order had always acted with the same equity and moderation towards its neighbours as towards distant England !
Upon the receipt of these letters, the king, from his court of parliament, then held at Coventry, sent as ambassadors to Prussia a knight, a clerk, and a citizen of London, who, it is honestly admitted, went out very slightly informed.” They went, however, with the a.s. sincere intention of consenting to whatever should appear
1405. just ; and the Prussian ports were presently opened after their arrival. One of the worst cases on the part of the English had occurred about the time that the grand master's letters were written : three Livonian ships had been “ robbed and rifled,” and above 250 of the persons on board, “ of whom some were noble and other honourable personages, and the rest common merchants and
mariners, were very barbarously drowned.” readily promised that such goods as could be recovered should be restored, and full restitution made ; and that the king would, “ of his great piety, vouchsafe effectually some convenient and wholesome remedy for the souls of such persons as had thus been murdered." Punishment was not required, and seems not to have been intended, though the offenders were known*, farther than that they should be made amenable for the satisfaction that was due. Ambassadors on both parts met at Dordrecht, and a burgomaster from each of the Hanse cities of Hamburg, Bremen, Stralsund, Lubec, Gripeswold, Campen, Rostok, and Wismer; and it was not till the close of their conference that it appeared these burgomasters had "no authority of negotiating, or concluding aught at all ;" they engaged, however, that procurators from their respective cities should be sent to England, with sufficient instructions and powers. The complaints on all sides were then investigated, and fairly, as it seems, adjusted. The largest demand was that of the Livonians; and it was agreed that the goods of which they had been plundered should be prized, and approved, not by any English, Prussian, or Livonian merchants, but by some other indifferent merchants of good credit, valuing them at the true rate of merchants, to which such like merchandise would have amounted, if, at the time when they were taken, they had been
* Great part of the goods were known to be in the town of Newcastle. “ One Benteld also hath the best of the said ships in his possession. Also it is reported, and thought to be true, that certain furriers of London, which will be detected in the end, have had a great part of the said goods, namely, of the furs." Good part of the cargo consisted in wax and furs, being articles which “ redounded to the use and commodity of the king, The Livonian merchants valued the ships and goods at £8037 12s. 7d. which upon investigation the ambassadors reduced to £7498 138. 109d.
The demands made by the Hanse towns did not bear investigation so well. Hamburg claimed 9117 nobles and 20 pence, which sum was cut down to 416 nobles and 5s. The claims of the other towns were reduced in much the same proportion, allowing them still the right of establishing them, if they could; but it is evident that throughout these transactions the Prus. sians acted with probity, and that on the part of the Hanse towns there was first piracy, and then fraud. The final settlement with them is not stated; but the Prussians and Livonians had to receive from England the two sums of 8957 nobles, and 22,496 nobles and 67d. ; and to pay the two sums of 766 nobles and 4535.
ADJUSTMENT OF THE DISPUTES.
sent to be sold at Bruges.” As one means of checking piracy, it was promised, on the part of England, that in any English port or place, goods, of which there was either information or probable suspicion that they had been piratically obtained, should be seized by the governor or keepers, and kept in safe custody, favour. ably to be restored to the owners when lawfully demanded; which duty, if they omitted or denied to perform, the said persons in authority should themselves make amends to the injured party.” The same system was to be observed in Prussia; and either country, in case of its non-observance on the other part, might make reprisals upon the goods of the foreign merchant. The final conferences were held at the Hague, A.D. when the ambassadors were instructed to “ ponder by 1407. the equal weight of diligent examination, and in the balance of justice discuss and define all and singular the grievances and damages inflicted on both parts.' Henry IV. ratified the agreement thus made: “ for- 1408. asmuch,” his letters said to the grand master, hath been always our desire, and is as yet our intention, that the league of amity and the integrity of love, which hath of old time been observed between our and your subjects, may, in times to come, perpetually remain inviolable ; and that your and our people may hereafter, not only for the good of our common weal, but also for the commodity and peace of both parts, according to their wonted manner, assemble themselves and enjoy the faithful and mutual conversation one of another.” The payment was to be made within three years, in three equal portions, the balance, as regarded Prussia, being against England in the proportion of about six to one.
The king protested that “ these enquiries, in very deed, proceeded out of his consent; and as touching the request," he said, " of your ambassadors, and of the Livonians, whereby we were required to procure some wholesome remedy for the souls of certain drowned persons, as conscience and religion seemeth to