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AGREEMENT CONCERNING BOULOGNE.
man was ordered to repair to his ensign: the Spaniards, of whom there were 1500 mercenaries, took part with the English; had they joined the mutineers, the most fatal consequences might have ensued, for the whole force in Boulogne and the Boulonnois was but 9300 men. Their fidelity, and the resolute conduct of the English troops, enabled the chiefs to suppress this dangerous commotion, and six of the ringleaders suffered death. After this chastisement Hertford relied so well upon the May lansquenets, that he stationed them to cover the erection 21. of another fort, called Boulogne Berg, in front of the enemy, who were encamped at a distance of less than two miles, by the church on the hill. Some skirmishes, which it would not have been easy to prevent, took place between the two armies; but the commanders would have been inexcusable if they had now brought on a general action; for negotiations had been renewed, and were far advanced, and early in the ensuing month peace was concluded.*
The most important condition- -the only one, indeed, which there could be any difficulty in adjusting that Boulogne should be restored to the king of France, upon payment of 800,000 crowns within the term of eight years to the king of England; the place during that term remaining in his hands as an assurance for the money. This was a transaction which bore a better colour to the French than to the English people. If there was no honour in recovering, by purchase, from an enemy, what he had taken by force of arms, there was the reasonable plea that the reconquest, even if it were not doubtful, was likely to occasion a heavier expenditure, and that the French blood which it must have cost was spared. But the condition could appear in no such favourable light to the English nation. They knew that a great price in English blood had been paid for the conquest, and they grudged it not, for they thought that Boulogne was well worth what it had cost. Surrey called it a jewel; great interest was taken by the
people in the struggle for retaining it; and the name of one of the oldest inns in London, absurdly corrupted as it is, shows at this day that Boulogne and its harbour were then the favourite topic of popular discourse. And while Calais was considered to be a most important possession, as assuredly it then was, the people were not wrong in thinking that its value was greatly enhanced, and its security improved, by the annexation of Boulogne to the English pale.
Peace, however, even to warlike nations, hath ever a blessed sound; for, however warlike a part of the people may be, the far greater number must always be desirous of enjoying the fruits of their labour in tranquillity. Both nations are said to have been pleased with it, and yet both mistrusted its continuance. And " verily (in the chronicler's words) the old proverb seemed to be thoroughly verified, which sayth, "that what the eye seeth the heart rueth;" for the Frenchmen still longed for Boulogne, and the Englishmen meant not willingly to give it up.' ." The captain of Montplaisir, M. de Chastillon, afterwards so well known in history as admiral Coligny, began to erect a bastion at the very mouth of the harbour, sportively naming it Chastillon's garden: he did this as if it were presumed on both sides that no possible contingency could prevent the fulfilment of the agreement; the motive by which he was actuated being, that if such a contingency should occur, France might command the harbour, and thus at any time be enabled to reduce the town by blockade. Lord Grey of Wilton, who was again in command there, lost no time in despatching information to the king, and asking for instructions. Henry laid it before his council, and demanded their opinion. They gave it to this effect, that the conditions of the peace were not in anywise to be infringed. Sir William Paget, the secretary, was commanded accordingly thus to write, and the king signed the letter, willing at the same time that the messenger, sir Thomas Palmer, " should know of his further pleasure before he departed." Sir Thomas, therefore, hav
LORD GREY OF WILTON.
ing received his despatches, repaired to the king's privy chamber. "Palmer," said the king, you have there a letter from us to the lord Grey, that he do in nowise deal in the matter whereof he hath by you advertised us; notwithstanding I will that you deliver him this message from us. Bid him call to mind how we have brought up his brethren and himself, not a short time, but even from tender years; nor far off, but still near to our person; and tell him, that if that be in him which we conceive, this doth breed in us an odd trust of fervency to serve us of him more than a common servant or subject. By that token, will him, whatsoever I have written to the contrary, that he presently impeach the fortifications of Chastillon's Garden, and rase it if it be possible; and this my message shall be his clearing therein, and the service gratefully accepted." Sir Thomas, somewhat astonished at this, considering the importance of the matter, ventured to represent, that a bare message delivered by him was like to have, and, indeed, ought to have, small credit when thus directly opposed to the tenour of his majesty's written commands. But Henry cut him short, saying, "Deliver thou the message; the executing thereof be at his choice."
When the lord Grey had read his despatches and heard the messenger's bidding, he assembled his council, laid the king's letters before them, and then desired sir Thomas to repeat the king's message; that done, sir Thomas was desired to withdraw, and every one to deliver his opinion." It went roundly through the board, without any question, that the letter was to be followed, the message not to be stayed on." The lord Grey made no reply, but again called on sir Thomas, bade him again repeat the message, ordered the clerk of the council to write it verbatim as it was delivered, and, when it was thus put in writing, required each of the board to testify it by his signature. He then broke up the council, ordered the gates to be shut, and issued private orders that certain troops and a body of pioneers should hold them
selves in readiness at a certain hour that night.
The hour came, he issued out with this company, crossed the water, and, without any alarm, demolished, in three or four hours, the work of as many weeks; then re-entered the town as quietly as he had left it, and immediately sent sir Thomas Palmer back to the king with the news. His return was so speedy, that when he was introduced into the chamber of presence, Henry, upon recognising him, said aloud, "What! will he do it or no?" Sir Thomas presented his letters, and said that thereby his majesty would be informed. Nay," rejoined the king, earnestly, "tell us, I say, whether he will do it or no?" And being told that it was done, and the whole fortification rased, he called joyfully to certain lords of the council who were in the chamber, and said, "How say you, my lords, Chastillon's Garden is laid flat as this floor!" One of them made answer, that the person who had done it deserved to lose his head. The king replied, he had rather lose a dozen such heads as his who had delivered that opinion, than one of such a servant as had achieved that service; " and herewith he commanded that the lord Grey's pardon should be made out, the which, with a letter of great thanks and promises of reward, were returned by the said sir Thomas Palmer to the said lord Grey; but the reward failed, the king not continuing long after in life."*
The French king was not prepared at that time to renew the war; and, instead of expressing any displeasure
* Holinshed, 859-861. "This," says the chronicler," have I set down the more willingly, for that I have received it from them which have heard it reported not only by the lord Grey's own mouth, but also by the relation of sir Thomas Palmer and others, who were present; the same not tending so much to the lord Grey's own praise, as to the betokening of the king's noble courage, and the great secret trust which he worthily reposed in the said lord Grey. Here is to be noted also, lest any man should mistake the matter, as if the king dealt indirectly herein, that his majesty, knowing how the Frenchmen, in going about to build this fort, did more than they might by the covenant of the peace, was, therefore, resolved, at the first advertisement thereof, to have it rased. But yet for that it might happily have been signified over unto the Frenchman before my lord Grey could have accomplished the feat, he, therefore, wisely wrote one thing in his letters whereunto many might be privy, and sent secret knowledge by words contrary to the contents of the same letters, so as, if the messenger were trusty, his pleasure might not be discovered, to the hinderance or disappointing of the same."
NAVY NEGLECTED UNDER EDWARD VI. 243
at an act which he must have known that circumstances justified*, ordered the trenches which had been made about the demolished fort to be filled up by his own people. Henry VIII. was an old lion whom it would have been dangerous to rouse. The death of Henry A.D. soon ensued. More had been done for the improvement 1553. of the navy in his than in any former reign. In that reign it was that a navy office was formed, and that regular arsenals were established for its support and equipment, at Portsmouth, Woolwich, and Deptford. The change in maritime warfare consequent upon the use of gunpowder rendered ships of a new construction necessary. Italian shipwrights, as being then the most expert, were sent for, and at the conclusion of this reign the royal navy consisted of seventy-one vessels; thirty of these were ships of burthen§, two were galleys, and the rest were small barks and row barges from eighty to fifteen tons, which served in rivers and landing of men. Seventy years later, Henry VIII.'s navy was called puissant. Five years after his death, when private interests were more regarded in the councils of a minor, it was reduced one half in tonnage, and nearly one third in the number of vessels.||
Henry was not without good cause for apprehending that, before the time fixed for the purchase and restoration of Boulogne should expire, the relations between France and England might undergo another change.
* Vincent Carloix, relating a conversation which ended in warm words between the protector Somerset and M. de Vieilleville, introduces, on Somerset's alleged authority, an article in the last treaty of peace, whereby it was provided that " quant le roi de France voudra, ou pourra prendre la ville de Boulogne, et desmanteler tous les forts bastis, ou commencés à bastir à l'entour d'icelle, il luy sera licite de l'entreprendre, et faire tous ses efforts de l'exécuter: et ne sera ce present accord aucunement alteré, ny á celuy prejudicié en aucune façon." (Coll. des Mém. xxviii. 313.) The French editor observes upon this, that, though no such article occurs in the printed treaty, it may have been a secret one. But Boulogne was the specific object in dispute when that treaty was made, and to have excepted it in the terms of peace would have, in fact, nullified the treaty.
† Lord Nugent, in his Memorials of Hampden (i. 129.), has said, that "our naval power slept under the chilling despotism of the Plantagenets and of the first Tudors!"