Изображения страниц

The English government did not at this time trust to its own maritime strength, but now, for the first time, issued a proclamation, allowing and exhorting all its subjects, who should be so inclined, to arm ships at their own costs and charges, for the annoyance of its enemies, the French and Scots. This they were authorised to do without taking out any licence, or entering into any recognisance; and whatever they made prize of was to be wholly for their own benefit, without paying any part or share to the lord admiral, the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, or any other officer or minister of the king. Moreover, no officer might take from them any mariners, munition, or tackle, against their own consent, unless the king, for the furnishing of his own ships, should send for them by special commission, and when need might require. One proviso, more likely to be needful than efficacious, was made, that they should not presume to spoil his majesty's subjects, nor his friends, nor any one having his safe-conduct, on pain of the laws enacted for such offences. * Adventurers hastened to take advantage of this general licence; and being so numerous, they scoured the Channel with extraordinary good fortune. More than 300 French prizes were brought into the English ports; and so large a part of their cargoes was brought to London, that the Grey Friars' church was filled with wine, and both St. Austin's and Black Friars' with herrings and other fish intercepted on the way to France.+

At the commencement of his reign, Henry had endeavoured to promote the interests of commerce. At a later period he sent out a squadron of six stout ships under Christopher Coo, to protect our trade from French and Scotch freebooters, who, taking advantage of a dispute between the emperor and the king of France, pirated at large, expecting that their depredations would be imputed to the ships of the two contending powers. But

* Charnock, ii. 110.

+ Holinshed, 846.

Sir Thomas More, in his poem upon the accession of this king, says,"Mercator variis deterritus ante tributis

Nunc maris insuetas puppe resulcat aquas.'

[blocks in formation]

in his latter years, the licence which he had given to privateers produced evils as great as those which he had formerly repressed. When the first harvest was over, and French trade afforded little farther spoil, neither Spaniard, Portugueze, nor Fleming, escaped these adventurers, some of whom called themselves Scotch, and others, when they boarded a ship, wore visors.* The ill consequences which the lord admiral Dudley apprehended from these outrages came to pass: English ships were detained in the Spanish ports, as the surest way of obtaining restitution. In one case an officer † in the king's service was the offender; and when the matter was investigated, an unwillingness was found in some persons in authority, who had to refund their shares of the captures.

The French, on their part, made unusual exertions for increasing their naval force. Francis saw how greatly the English pale would be strengthened by the addition of Boulogne, if Henry were allowed to retain it ; and that the opportunity for speedily recovering it had been lost. Great efforts were now necessary, and these he determined upon making, both by sea and by land. The first business was to collect such a naval force as might boldly seek the English fleet and give it battle; and naval superiority being once attained, it would be possible to seize upon the Isle of Wight, establish a French force there, and then get possession of Portsmouth. Ten galleys were built at Rouen, twenty-five ordered from Marseilles, and some large

State Papers, 841.

"His majesty will be pleased that such things as Reneger took be restored; for that the same cannot be well defended; and then Reneger, to have justice against them who unjustly stayed his prize in Spain. This private case of Reneger hath made all this bruslery; wherein, if some other men had been as ready to have rendered for their parts such portions as they have received of Reneger's prey, as his majesty hath been to deliver his (which his majesty commanded long ago to be done), all these matters had been long ago past and depeched.'"-State Papers, 889. John Reneger appears in the list of Dudley's fleet (ibid. 812.) as captain of the Galigoe Reneger, of 80 tons and 80 men-probably, by its name, a Spanish vessel.

"Laissant longuement les Anglois dedans Boulogne, ils pourroient de jour en autre se renforcer, et prendre pied en son royaume, ce qui seroit une mauvaise semence."- Du Bellay, 208.

Genoese carracks* hired for this service. Meantime a "great and mighty" army was raised, with the intention of encamping before Boulogne, while the fleet was executing its part of the campaign, and there erecting a fort, in which 4000 or 5000 men might be left, to curb the garrison and command the entrance of the harbour. This work was to be ready by the middle of August, at which time it was calculated the fleet would have performed its object and have returned. His plan then was to march in person against Guisnes, take it, fortify it, hold Calais and the Terre d'Oye in subjection from thence, and thus cutting Boulogne off from all supplies either by sea or land reduce that place by famine. The command by sea was intrusted to admiral d'Annebault, by land to mareschal de Biez.

They proved,

As Francis was on his way from Romorentin to Havre de Grace, that he might in person superintend the embarkation of the troops who were to plant the French flag in the Isle of Wight and at Portsmouth, a fleet hove in sight, which he supposed to be the English, about to make a descent on Normandy. however, to be his own ships from the Mediterranean ; but in a few days the English appeared. The lord admiral Dudley, hearing that the French king's shipsroyal were riding in the fosse between Havre and Harfleur, thought it not impossible to make a present of some of them to his own king, or else to burn them where they were. He had embargoed some hulks in the Downs; and his plan was to hire eight of these for the king's service, like other stranger ships, but to man them with some of his own sailors, "which be the men,” said he, "that must do the feat." Thus manned, he intended that some of his small vessels should chase them into the mouth of the Seine, and then turn about and give over the pursuit, when he would bring the whole

*Seymour's intelligence was, that the galleys were to bring with them from the Mediterranean "all manner of great ships that they could meet withal, as Venetians, Arragonese, Italians, or whatsoever they might be, either by fair means or foul."-State Papers, 776.

Du Bellay, 208-211.



fleet in sight before the mouth of that river, the better to deceive the enemy. While the French were engaged in watching his movements, these hulks were simultaneously, by two and two, to lay on board the great carrack, and two or three other of the greatest ships which lay next her, and, if the wind and tide did not serve for bringing them out, they were to set them on fire, and escape in their boats. The great boats and small rowers of the fleet were to be in readiness, well appointed, to succour them within the river, so that even though the galleys should be there, he trusted few or no lives would be lost: the chief adventure, he said, was in the hulks, which were better to be adventured than any of the king's own ships. The fleet with which Dudley sailed upon this enterprise consisted of 160 sail; and it appears not to have been feasible when he reached the spot. The French force there was estimated at 200, besides the galleys: he thought it imprudent to set upon them where they lay, both by reason of his inferiority in number, and because none of his vessels would have been serviceable in shoal water. As he approached near enough to fire at them, this brought the galleys out to exchange shot, and at first to their great advantage, it being perfectly calm. "Twice either party assaulted each other with shot of their great artillery; but suddenly the wind rose so high that the galleys could not endure the rage of the seas," and the English, for fear of the shoals, stood out to sea. They seem also to have thought the enemy so formidable as to determine upon returning immediately to defend their own shores.*

Henry had, at this time, repaired to Portsmouth, "to see his realm defended.' A new fortress had been erected there, which excited the admiration of all be

*State Papers, 787. Holinshed, 847. Du Bellay, 219. The French author says, that thirty-five English ships appeared before the chef de Caux, and that "tirèrent à coup perdu en terre;" but when the galleys made towards them, they retreated to Portsmouth. The difference between this brief statement and Holinshed's account shows that Dudley approached the coast with the intention of acting upon his preconcerted

holders *; but the force appointed to garrison it consisted only of a captain, twelve gunners, eight soldiers, and a porter. The town, however, was now adequately supplied: the Isle of Wight, also, was prepared to give the enemy an English welcome; and preparations were not neglected upon the coasts of Kent and Essex, and along the east coast, though the points which the French intended to attack were known by sure intelligence. The enemy met with some disasters at their outset: the Genoese carracks arrived too late; and most of them, by the fault of the pilots, it is said, were lost in the mouth of the Seine. The admiral's ship, le Philippe, was accounted not only the most beautiful ship but the best sailer then upon the seas. The admiral, Philippe Chabot, had it built at Havre, as a present for the king. It was of 1200 tons burden, and carried 100 large brass guns. Just before the expedition sailed, the king meant to give an entertainment on board to the ladies of the court; and in preparing for this, owing to the carelessness of the cooks, the ship took fire. It was impossible to stop the progress of the flames; and when the guns began to go off, the galleys no longer dared approach to pick up the poor wretches who leaped into the water. The money for the payment of the fleet was on board, and this was saved. Montluc was in the expedition; and when he saw this fine ship thus miserably destroyed at setting forth, he had little hope that any good fortune could attend it.†

The French fleet consisted of 150 great ships, sixty smaller ones, and twenty-five galleys. They sailed on

* Sir Antony Knyvet, in a letter to the king, says it "may be called a castle, both for the compass, strength, and beauty; and the device and fashion thereof is strange, and marvellously praised of all men that have seen it, with the commodious and profitable situation thereof, as well for the defence of this your majesty's town and haven, as of the country thereabouts. The like is not within the realm. I dare say your majesty had never so great a piece of work done, and so substantial, in so little time, as all skilful men that have seen it do report."-State Papers, 771.

Du Bellay, 213. Bleaury Hist. du Havre de Grace (quoted in the Coll. Gen. des. Mém. t. xxii. p. 445. Montluc, 322.

[ocr errors]

Flovins they are called by Du Bellay; "espèce de petits vaisseaux, says the editor, "rassemblants à ce que nous appellons flûtes." The editor complains that the abbé Lambert, in his edition of Du Bellay, has curtailed the narrative of this expedition. "Ces retranchemens," he

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »