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times past, the principal and most commodious havens within this realm for ships resorting from all places of the world, as well in peril of storms as otherwise: for, hitherto, all vessels under the portage of 800 tons might enter them at low water, and there lie in surety what wind or tempest soever did blow; and in time of war these ports had been the greatest fortification and defence of that part of the realm, and the special preservation of the greater part of the navy. But of late the streamworks from the tin mines had so choked these ports that vessels of 100 tons could scarcely enter at half flood. Regulations were made for the miners to prevent such evil in future, and enforced by penalties *, which were doubled when it was found that they were not observed.
For some time, things continued in an uneasy state between England and France: " there was neither perfect peace nor open war, but ships were taken on both sides, and merchants robbed;" after a while the merchants' goods were mutually seized, and the ambassadors of both realms detained: 66 they were soon set at liberty, but yet the merchants were robbed, and no war proclaimed." Meantime Henry was negotiating a league offensive and defensive with the emperor. War was A. D. then declared. Vengeance was taken upon Scotland by one of those barbarous invasions, the object of which was to lay waste an enemy's country, and inflict upon it all the evil that could be done by sea and by land; and Henry, attending more to what was then deemed purely English interests, than to aid the general purposes of the confederacy, sent an army under the duke of Norfolk against Montreuil, and another under the duke of Suffolk against Boulogne. The lower town was abandoned by the inhabitants; the tower, called the "Old Man,” which served as a beacon for those who were to enter the haven, was surrendered, and the upper town had been vigorously attacked and bravely defended for some days, when Henry came to take the command of the siege in +27 Hen. 8. c. 23. + Hall, 857.
*23 Hen. 8. c. 8.
person. Not many years had elapsed since he had visited Boulogne as the friend and guest and sworn confederate of the still reigning king of France, and made his offering at our Lady's altar: the steeple of our Lady's church was now battered down by his artillery, "and the town so beaten with shot out of the camp, and from the mount and trench by the mortar pieces, that very few houses were left whole therein." It was defended with great courage. A party of 200 men, guided by a priest who could speak English, attempted to enter the place; and the daring enterprise was so well conducted, that they passed by the scouts and then the watch; and though they were discovered before they had all passed over the trench, more than half succeeded in getting in. Small as this succour was, it encouraged the inhabitants; but contrary winds frustrated an attempt made to throw in supplies by sea, and the lord high admiral arrived to assist in the siege with his fleet from the coast of Scotland, which he had ravaged. The admiral was sir John Dudley, then viscount Lisle, afterwards more and worse known in history as duke of Northumberland. He was a brave seaman, and is said to have boarded the admiral off Sluys, in some action, of which nothing further has been recorded, "fighting her ship to ship." When part of the castle had been blown up, and such breaches made as were deemed practicable, he solicited and obtained permission to make the assault with his seamen*: it was resisted as gallantly as it was made; and, after considerable loss, Henry called off his men. But on the part of the besieged, Philippe Corse, by whom the
* The character of our seamen was then what it is now. They are thus described in Christopher Ockland's poem, which was ordered to be taught in all grammar and free schools;
“Proximus invigilat muris Dudleius heros,
Nautarum, veniens pelago, comitante catervâ.
defence was conducted, fell. Maréchal du Bièz, when he threw himself into Montreuil, had appointed his son-in-law Vervin to the command at Boulogne, a young man, who seems to have relied upon Philippe Corse for the performance of a duty to which he found himself unequal; and, having been deprived of that support, he thought further resistance hopeless. Accordingly, he proposed to capitulate, on condition of marching out with bag and baggage. It is said, that the burgesses protested against this surrender, and that the mayor, representing to him how the breach was well repaired, and the place abundantly provided with food and military stores, undertook to defend it with the citizens alone, if he and the garrison were afraid, and thought proper to retire. Vervin, nevertheless, signed the capitulation. Before hostages had been exchanged, a storm arose, which inundated part of the English camp, threw down their tents, and ruined great part of their works. The mayor then renewed his remonstrances, and urged the commander to profit by this unexpected advantage; but Vervin replied, that his word was given to the king of England, and he could not with honour break the engagement that had been made. The point of honour was not admitted in his excuse by the French court, and, by sentence of a court martial, he suffered death.*
It was Henry's intention that Boulogne should be annexed to the English pale: the town, therefore, according to the custom of that age, was cleared of its inhabitants, the old and sick excepted, who were not able to depart. The women and children were nearly 2000, the soldiers about 2400; the whole number of those who went out with heavy hearts, some 6000. Suffolk took possession; and on the morrow the king, having the sword borne naked before him by marquis Dorset, like a noble and valiant conqueror, rode into Boulogne, and the trumpeters standing on the walls sounded their trumpets at the time of his entering, to the great comfort of all the king's true subjects the same beholding."
Père Daniel, vii. 898. Hall, 861. Holinshed, 838-840.
After surveying the town, he ordered Our Lady's
SIEGE OF MONTREUIL RAISED.
Dr. Nott has justly observed that Boulogne "was of importance not only as it would contribute to the defence of the English possessions around Guisnes and Calais; but as it would protect the English coast itself from insult. Our fleets at that period were not always able to cope with those of France alone; or to preserve the communication open between Dover and Calais. Henry, therefore, justly deemed it a point of no trivial import to obtain possession of Boulogne."-Works of Surrey and Wyatt, vol. i. p. lxv.
him, among whom were Suffolk, Russel, and bishop Gardener, wrote to the king, explaining the reasons upon which they had thus proceeded.
This despatch called forth an angry answer from Henry to his right trusty and right entirely well-beloved cousins; "for as there was none," he said, more willing to take in good part the good doings and probable grounds of his counsellors for excuse, though sometimes they failed in executing his command, yet there was none that more hardly could bear bolstering and unapparent reasons, especially when they inculcated a feigned necessity, to cloak and maintain their faults. He could not but marvel that men of such experience would think a town so sore ruinate, as all men's eyes might perceive, might be in five or six days so repaired, that it was able to resist a main power of France! What, after this fond and sudden departure, was there to hinder the enemy from taking all the stores left in Basse Boulogne, being the great mass, and all his ordnance also?" And to their assertion, that, if they had remained there they should have consumed provision faster than it could be sent to them, "we here," said the king, "knowing best the order in which affairs are put, and you there not being yet advertised of it, do think it as possible for us to have victualled you, as you think the same impossible, and that, if you had bidden it, you should have well seen the proof, which at length trieth all." Another reason alleged by them was, that many of those who served before Montreuil had burnt their tents for want of carriages; for which cause, and for want of huts and straw, they could not lie in camp without great destruction of people,..."we think, verily," said the king," that men of courage, and willing to serve in such a case of necessity, would not have had so great respect to their own persons, as to the service of the king their master. For how can the Frenchmen keep their camp, their victuals and forage being so far devastated round about, and the way so ill to carry, and their provisions scantily yet well ordered for them, the