« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
the haughtiness of his demeanour soon made him unpopular, while the principles of his government gave just alarm.* During No parlia eight years (1516 to 1523) no parliament was assembled, eight years. and the regular constitutional resources being thus cut off, Wolsey attempted, by the aid of the King's despotic authority, to raise money by forced loans and benevolences, expedients which were irregular and tyrannical, and had been distinctly declared by statute to be unlawful. In March, 1522, a general survey of the kingdom was made, and through the information thus gained, of the wealth and estate of every man in the realm, loans amounting to one-tenth from the laity and one-fourth from the clergy were exacted from the most opulent; £20,000 being levied upon the merchants of London only.†
Parliamen. But these attempts produced more discontent than tion, 1523. supply; and when the King's necessities compelled him, in 1523, to summon a parliament, which met at the Black Friars, the greatest displeasure was manifested, and much distrust and apprehension were shown of Wolsey's purposes. Sir Thomas More, a member of the council, and the first Englishman known to history as a public speaker, was, by the influence of the court, chosen speaker of the commons; but, if the minister expected by his appointment to succeed in his demands, he was very soon disappointed; for although the speaker supported the measures of the court, neither his eloquence nor his virtue could gain more than a temporary advantage. The cost of the proposed expedition against France was estimated at £800,000, which sum Wolsey proposed to raise by a property tax of 20 per cent. upon lands and goods. The commons, astonished at such an unprecedented demand, preserved the most obstinate silence when the cardinal, who had come to the house for the purpose, made it; and, after he had retired, all the independent members opposed a vigorous resistance to the measure. A committee was appointed to remonstrate with the minister, and to show him the impossibility of raising such a subsidy; it was alleged it exceeded all the current Wolsey ex- coin of the realm. The cardinal again repaired to the supply. house with a great train of retainers, and harangued the members; but they still maintained their silence, merely saying that it was their custom to debate among themselves. After a discussion, which lasted fifteen or sixteen days, a grant of 5 per cent. only was agreed to; and even that was to be payable by instalments in four years, although a considerable part of the members consisted of the King's household officers, and other * Mackintosh, II., 124. + Lingard, VI., 64. Mackintosh, II., 125.
placemen. But Wolsey, dissatisfied with this imperfect obedience, compelled the people to pay up the whole subsidy at once.* The convocations of the two provinces opposed a resistance equally as obstinate, and only agreed to a compromise after four months had been spent in debates and delays.
No parliament was assembled for nearly seven years after this time; and as the above grants were soon found insufficient a sixth for the King's exigencies, a fresh survey of the kingdom was which leads made in 1525, the commissioners being instructed to de- rebellions. mand the sixth part of every man's substance, payable in money, plate, or jewels. Wolsey in person, again demanded this loan from the mayor and citizens of London; and when they remonstrated, cautioned them to beware lest they might endanger their heads; and some of the bolder ones were sent to prison there and then. The clergy also again resisted, refusing to contribute money which they had not granted in convocation; and denying the right of a King of England to ask any man's money without the authority of parliament. Indeed the opposition to this new loan was so great, that insurrections broke out in Suffolk and other counties; and Henry and his ministers found it necessary, not only to pardon the rebus, but to revoke the commission, and withdraw the demand.
Wolsey, however, was not yet to be overcome, and he resorted to the more specious request of a voluntary benevolence. This also the citizens of London endeavoured to repel, by alleging the statute of Richard III., which abolished benevolences; to which it was replied, that that King was a usurper, whose acts could not bind a lawful monarch.
Such was the rapacious character of Wolsey's administration; and there is little doubt that if he could have obtained Wolsey the submission of the people to these exactions and loans, there would have been an end to parliaments for all ordinary purposes; though, like the States General of France, they might still be convoked merely to give weight and security to the decrees of the sovereign. But the courage and love of freedom natural to the English Commons, speaking in the hoarse voice of tumult, preserved England in so great a peril.+
21. Wolsey's disappointment at the Election of Adrian to the Papacy. The money that was thus wrung from the people, was immediately spent in repelling an invasion of the Scots, in supporting an expedition into France, and in furnishing aid to the
* Hallam's Const. Hist., I., 17; Ling. VI., 67; Mack. II., 125.
allies in Italy. The formidable confederacy which was made against Francis by the treaty of Bruges, urged that prince to unwonted activity. Previous to the conclusion of that treaty, the French had again been expelled from Milan, and during the thanksgivings which were thereupon celebrated in Rome, Pope Leo X. died suddenly (December 1st, 1521). Wolsey Leo X. immediately reminded the Emperor of his promise to aid him in obtaining the pontifical throne; but Charles had other views; and the cardinals elected Adrian of Utrecht, who had been the Emperor's tutor, and was then his viceroy in Spain, and bishop of Tortosa. The Emperor's faithless conduct encouraged Francis to attempt recovering the friendship of England, but Wolsey's resentment soon subsided, Adrian's great age and infirmities promised a speedy vacancy, and when the Emperor visited England (May, 1522), he buoyed up the cardinal with assurances of support on the next opportunity, and agreed to indemnify both him and the King for the loss of pension they would incur by declaring war against Francis. In a few months an English army The Earl of under the Earl of Surrey, invaded France, but the exinvasion of pedition reflected little lustre on the English arms, though France. it enriched the adventurers, and fhflicted a severe injury on the unfortunate inhabitants, all the villages and open towns between Calais and Amiens being burnt and destroyed. The French King, therefore, sought to keep the English from the continent, by raising up enemies to them both in Ireland and Scotland. In Ireland he seduced the Earl of Desmond into a scheme for the partition of the island between himself and Richard de la Pole, brother to the Duke of Suffolk beheaded in 1513, and male representative of the house of York. The latter was at that time in the French service, and in 1525 was slain in the battle of Pavia. To alarm the English cabinet, was all that Francis aimed at in this wild project; but the confusion of affairs in Scotland easily enabled him to plunge that country into a war with England.
22. Scottish Invasion of England under the Duke of Albany. Ever since the battle of Flodden Field, two factions, English and French, had contended for power in Scotland. Margaret, the Queen Dowager, and Angus, her husband, headed the former during Albany's first regency; but she now quarrelled with both her husband and brother, and invited the Duke of Albany to return and assume the government. War succeeded, of course; Albany crossed the borders with an immense army; the English had no force to oppose to the invaders; but owing to the address of Lord Dacre, the threatened storm of war was dis
persed. Dacre pretending that he had a large army await- Lord Dacre ing his orders to march, and reminding Albany of Flodden Albany, Field, offered to give the Scots a month's truce, that he might have time to solicit peace from King Henry. The Scottish regent then agreed to disband his forces, Dacre to forbid the advance of the army he had boasted of; the Scots returned home, and Albany, whom Wolsey, on receiving the intelligence of this strange event, characterised as "a coward and a fool," retired to France.* After this Margaret and her brother became reconciled, and a strong force under the Earl of Surrey was sent into Scotland to support her. But the ravages which the English committed, roused the whole nation to arms; Albany returned, and soon crossed the border again with an immense force. But again did the duke retire in shame and fear, dreading an encounter with the hero of Flodden Field. This second disgrace overturned Albany's authority; he left Scotland never to return who leaves (1522), and the regency ultimately fell into the hands of Scotland. Angus, who obtained possession of the young King. A succession of truces preserved peace between the two kingdoms for eighteen years.
23. English invasion of France. Treason of the Duke of Bourbon. The confederacy against France had now become more formidable than ever. Only the citadels of Cremona and Milan remained to Francis, and to deprive him of these, as well as to keep him out of Italy, Charles and Henry formed an alliance with Ferdinand of Austria, the Emperor's brother; Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan; the Pope, the Venetians, the Italian republics, and other states. Charles was now in Spain, and he menaced France with a powerful army on the side of Guienne; an Anglo-Flemish army under Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, hovered over Brandon, Picardy, while a numerous body of Germans was pre- Suffolk, in paring to ravage Burgundy. All these perils, however, from open enemies, nothing daunted Francis, for before any of his adversaries were prepared to take the field, he had assembled a numerous army, and was ready to fall upon the Milanese. But when the vanguard of his army had already reached Bourbon's Lyons, and he himself was hastening to join it with treason. additional troops, the discovery of a domestic conspiracy which threatened to precipitate him from the throne, and dismember the monarchy, obliged him to stop short, and alter his measures. The author of this dangerous plot was Charles, Duke of Bourbon, lord high constable of France, one of the most illustrious and * Lingard, VI., 66; Hume, IV., 42-45.
talented of the French nobility, and a prince of the blood. Louise of Savoy, the mother of Francis, had contracted a violent hatred of his family, and as she possessed unbounded influence over her son, she induced Francis to view all the constable's actions with a mean and unbecoming jealousy. On the death of Bourbon's wife, however, Louise, then forty-six years of age, and old enough to be the constable's mother, actually proposed marriage to him. The duke was incapable of so meanly and suddenly changing his loves and hatreds, and he rejected the offer with ridicule and indignation; on which the Queen's former hatred increased to the deadliest resentment, and she resolved to ruin Bourbon. She instigated Francis to put many affronts upon him, to refuse to pay him the loans he had advanced for the war in Italy, to stop his salaries, and to take from him the office of constable. These and other insults, together with those which the king's servile courtiers heaped upon him, provoked the duke to make secret overtures to the Emperor and the King of England, the purport of which was, that Bourbon should have the counties of Provence and Dauphiné settled upon him, with the title of king, that he should raise an insurrection in the centre of the kingdom, while the allies attacked it on the three borders of Guienne, Burgundy, and Picardy. That he might not accompany the French army into Italy, he feigned illness, and was visited in his bed by the suspecting Francis, at the castle of Molins; but his apparent candour deceived that free-hearted monarch, and when Francis again set out for Italy, he fled in disguise out of France, and joined the imperialists in Italy. But his treason was of no great service in the present campaign, though it proved to Francis the forerunner of calamities seldom experienced by princes. The allied armies which had invaded France were prevented from uniting by the inactivity of their leaders, and the vigilance of Francis's captains; and the Duke of Suffolk's force, after advan. cing within twenty miles of the capital, was so much diminished by famine and disease, brought on by the severities of the weather, that when he returned to Calais, he had but the shadow of an army left.
24. Death of Pope Adrian. Wolsey again disappointed of the Papacy. While Suffolk was advancing towards Paris, Pope Adrian died (Sept. 14th, 1523), and all Wolsey's high hopes of obtaining the papacy were revived. But the ambitious prelate was again disappointed, for although Henry applied to Charles for the fulfilment of the promises he had made to his favourite, and the English ministers at Rome spared neither money nor exertion to