Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

66

well armed in strong jacks," ordered the portcullis to be raised, and sallied out with a good body of the citizens. The rebels, being thus unexpectedly attacked, were driven back to St. Botolph's church; and at that moment earl Rivers, with some 400 or 500 men, well apparelled for war, issued at the postern by the Tower, and mightily laid upon them. And first he plagued them with the swift and thick flight of his arrows, and after joined with them at hand-strokes." But they had lost heart now, and were put to the rout, and pursued, “first to Mile End, and from thence some unto Poplar, some to Stratford and Stepney, and in manner each way forth about that part of the city, the chase being followed for two miles in length." The Essex men dispersed in their flight, and each made the best of his way home; the others fled to the water-side, and, getting to their ships, crossed the river, and joined the great body of their companions. When the news of their defeat was known, their fellows, who were assaulting Bishopsgate, retired also. In these attacks, and in their flight, about 700 of the insurgents were slain. There were fires burning, all at once, at Aldgate, Bishopsgate, and on the bridge; but when the Bastard, who directed in person the attack against the bridge, learnt the ill success of his detachments, he also withdrew; and the alderman, Ralph Josselin, who commanded there, and whose "hardy manhood," the chronicler says, "is not to be passed in silence,” sallied after him, followed the pursuit along the water-side, till they came beyond Ratcliff, and slew and took very many.' Yet Falconbridge gathered together as many of his broken troops as he could, encamped on Blackheath, and remained there three days, in the hope that some fortunate event might occur, of which he might take advantage. When it was known that king Edward was coming with a 'right puissant army," he durst no longer abide. His land forces consulted their own safety by timely dispersion: the soldiers from Calais returned thither with all speed; and he, with his

""

66

THE BASTARD FALCONBRIDGE.

135

mariners, and such as chose a piratical life, got to shipboard, and sailed down the river, and fortified himself at Sandwich.*

Only five days after the retreat of this enterprising leader from Blackheath, Henry VI. died, happily for himself, whose life would henceforth only have been a continued martyrdom, but so opportunely for the house of York that his death has been accounted among their crimes. Whether it was brought about by violence, or by grief acting upon an enfeebled frame, is, and probably will for ever remain, uncertain. Falconbridge's attempt had shown that there would always be danger while this poor king lived; but, on the other hand, the resolute resistance which the Londoners had opposed to one who presented himself in Henry's name, evinced that the Lancastrian party in the metropolis was effectually subdued. The crime was needless, even upon their own views of policy. Had they deemed it necessary for their own security, it would have been committed without remorse. The spirit of the age, and the dreadful necessity of his situation excused the merciless acts of Edward to himself: but if he had been by nature capable of any generous impulse or virtuous feeling, he would not have detained the dethroned, widowed, and childless Margaret as a prisoner, till he had obtained a large ransom from her father.

The host which Edward had raised was indeed a formidable one he entered London with 30,000 men, and, halting there for one day only, went with his whole army towards Canterbury. The rapidity of his movements, and the force with which he moved, show how highly he rated the ability and the daring spirit of Falconbridge the Bastard, on his part, well understood Edward's character, and his own comparative weakness. He had seven and forty ships under his command in Sandwich harbour; these were better means for negotiation than for maintaining a contest which, when he commenced his enterprise, seemed an equal one, but was

1.

*Holinshed, 322-324.

66

now become desperate. He offered, therefore, upon an assurance of pardon for himself and all who were with him, to deliver up the town and the fleet. This offer, upon great consideration, and by good deliberate advice of council, it was thought best to accept." The Bastard could make no conditions for those who had been made prisoners during his expedition: some of these had been lucky enough to fall into the hands of people who ransomed them " as if they had been Frenchmen."* But Spiring's head was set up over Aldgate, where he had led the assault; and Bishopsgate bore a like barbarous trophy, in the head of Quintin, a butcher, who had commanded in that quarter. Edward himself, visiting divers places in Kent, sate in judgement upon those who had aided in the commotion; after which the lord marshal and other judges were appointed to carry on the course of justice, or of law. The mayor of Canterbury was executed, and several persons at Rochester, Maidstone, and Blackheath. About an hundred were put to death in Kent, and many of the wealthy commons in that county 66 were set at grievous fines, both for themselves and their servants.' The Essex men did not escape, “divers of them being hanged between Stratford and London." Falconbridge himself, notwithstanding the pardon which he had obtained at the king's hand, was apprehended in the ensuing autumn, and put to death † ; and his head was set on London bridge, "looking Kentward."‡

[ocr errors]

One of the Lancastrians still remained, who, like lord Falconbridge had taken to the seas. This was John Vere, earl of Oxford. It is said that the battle of Barnet would have been won by the Lancastrians, if his

*Fabyan, 662.

+"Being afterwards at sea, a roving belike as he had used before, he came at length into the open haven at Southampton, and there taking land was apprehended."- Holinshed. The English authorities place this in the same year. It appears in Rymer that the king of Portugal, Alfonso V., sent Joam de Elvas to complain of the piracies which Falconbridge had committed upon his subjects, and that, after due enquiry, restitution was promised. I have not an opportunity of verifying my references to the Fœdera; but I find in them that in these documents which are dated 1473, the Bastard is spoken of as still an outlaw and a pirate. Rymer, xi. 767-769. Holinshed, 328. Fabyan, 663. Turner lii. 237–240. (8vo. edition.)

OXFORD AT ST. MICHAEL'S MOUNT.

137

men, after a successful attack upon the Yorkites, had kept their array, and not fallen to rifling; "and if on the drawing up of a fog (which was imputed at the time to friar Bungay's enchantments), the star with streaming rays, which was the badge of his men, had not been mistaken for the sun, which was king Edward's, by Warwick's archers. Oxford fled from that field in the belief that his chaplain would have betrayed him *; but he was still of good cheer, and doubted not to repair the disasters of that day: nor was his own courage subdued when the battle of Tewkesbury, the murder of prince Edward, and the death of Henry, extinguished the last hopes of the house of Lancaster. After remaining more than a year in Scotland, he sailed to France, and hovered about the coast, till successful piracy enabled him to maintain some 400 followers. With these he made for the Land's End, and, entering Mount's Bay, partly by force, partly through the fear of the inhabitants, but mostly, it is said, “by a subtle shift," he got possession of the castle on St. Michael's Mount, and thought himself strong enough to keep the castle and the bay against all assailants. He and his people often ventured into the country, and were well entertained there, both for the earl's own sake, and for the hatred which was there borne to king Edward. It was indeed on the prevalent disaffection in these parts that his hope of maintaining himself could have been founded; and it was, so far, well founded, that when the sheriff, Bedringham by name, besieged the Mount, with orders to take or kill the earl, the siege was so faintly prosecuted, and with so little wish of bringing it to a successful issue, that the earl, when provisions were begining to fail him, found means of revictualling the Mount, a place which could only be reduced by famine. When Edward, who neglected no danger, was informed of this, he sent 66 one Fortescue, with a stronger and faithfuller company, to prosecute the siege; and he continued it, for the castle was not easy to be had, being by nature strongly set, by policy well victualled, and by manhood

* Fabyan, 661. Holinshed, 313. Turner, 322.

A.D. 1474.

66

valiantly defended." At length it was found easier to shake the fidelity of the earl's people than to starve the place: strong pardons" were offered to them, accompanied with "rich promises ;" and the effect was such, “that if the earl, fearing the worst, and judging it better to try the king's mercy than to hazard the extremity of taking, on which rested nothing but assured death, had not wholly submitted himself, he had been by his own men most dishonestly betrayed, and suddenly taken prisoner." Four months and fourteen days he held the castle, and it was stored for six months more, when he found it necessary thus to yield himself up a prisoner. He stipulated only for his life, well knowing that more would not be granted; and, "to be out of all doubtful imagination Edward sent him over the sea to the castle of Hammes, where, during twelve years, he was in strong prison shut up, and warily looked to."*

If Oxford's intention, in occupying St. Michael's Mount, had only been to secure for himself a port to which he could at any time return, and a strong-hold wherein to deposit the booty which he might acquire by sea-roving, he should rather have taken possession of Lundy; for the state of the English navy was such, that great difficulty might have been found in bringing against him a naval force. When Edward had resolved upon invading France, in resentment for the assistance which Louis had afforded to his enemies, the diminution of our naval strength during the civil wars was made apparent; there was an equal deficiency of ships, of seamen, and of maritime skill. Charles the Bold, who incited him to the undertaking, supplied him with more than 500 vessels for the passage of his army: they were chiefly from Holland and Zeeland, and well adapted for the transport of cavalry. One William Philpott, the master of a ship called the Peter of London, received a commission to impress as many mariners as were wanted; but when all was ready, the passage and the troops from Dover to Calais was not completed in three

Holinshed, 427, 428, 429.

Rymer, xii. 4.

*

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »