« PreviousContinue »
But to return to the King. When first he heard of this commotion of the Cornish men occasioned by the subsidy, he was much troubled therewith; not for itself, but in regard of the concurrence of other dangers that did hang over him at that time. For he doubted lest a war from Scotland, a 5 rebellion from Cornwall, and the practices and conspiracies of Perkin and his partakers, would come upon him at once : knowing well, that it was a dangerous triplicity to a monarchy, to have the arms of a foreigner, the discontents of subjects, and the title of a pretender to meet. Nevertheless 10 the occasion took him in some part well provided. For as soon as the parliament had broken up, the King had presently raised a puissant army to war upon Scotland. And King James of Scotland likewise, on his part, had made great preparations, either for defence, or for new assailing of 15 England. But as for the King's forces, they were not only in preparation, but in readiness presently to set forth, under the conduct of Daubeney the lord chamberlain. But as soon as the King understood of the rebellion of Cornwall, he stayed those forces, retaining them for his own service so and safety. But therewithal he despatched the earl of Surrey into the north, for the defence and strength of those parts, in case the Scots should stir. But for the course he held towards the rebels, it was utterly differing from his former custom and practice; which was ever full of forwardness 25 and celerity to make head against them, or to set upon them as soon as ever they were in action. This he was wont to do. But now, besides that he was attempered by years, and less in love with dangers, by the continued fruition of a crown ; it was a time when the various appearance to his
30 thoughts of perils of several natures, and from divers parts, did make him judge it his best and surest way, to keep his strength together in the seat and centre of his kingdom :
according to the ancient Indian emblem, in such a swelling season, to hold the hand upon the middle of the bladder, that no side might rise. Besides, there was no necessity put
upon him to alter his counsel. For neither did the rebels 5 spoil the country, in which case it had been dishonour to
abandon his people: neither on the other side did their forces gather or increase, which might hasten him to precipitate and assail them before they grew too strong.
And lastly, both reason of estate and war seemed to agree with this course : for that insurrections of base people are commonly more furious in their beginnings. And by this means also he had them the more at vantage, being tired and harassed with a long march ; and more at mercy, being
cut off far from their country, and therefore not able by any 15 sudden flight to get to retreat, and to renew the troubles.
When therefore the rebels were encamped on Blackheath upon the hill, whence they might behold the city of London, and the fair valley about it; the King knowing well, that it stood him upon, by how much the more he had hitherto protracted the time in not encountering them, by so much the sooner to despatch with them, that it might appear to have been no coldness in fore-slowing, but wisdom in choosing his time; resolved with all speed to assail them, and yet with that providence and surety, as should leave
little to venture or fortune. And having very great and 25
puissant forces about him, the better to master all events and accidents, he divided them into three parts; the first was led by the earl of Oxford in chief, assisted by the earls
of Essex and Suffolk. These noblemen were appointed, 30
with some corners of horse, and bands of foot, and good store of artillery, wheeling about to put themselves beyond the hill where the rebels were encamped; and to beset all the skirts and descents thereof, except those that lay to
wards London; thereby to have these wild beasts, as it were, in a toil. The second part of his forces, which were those that were to be most in action, and upon which he relied most for the fortune of the day, he did assign to be led by the lord chamberlain, who was appointed to set upon 5 the rebels in front, from that side which is towards London. The third part of his forces, being likewise great and brave forces, he retained about himself, to be ready upon all events to restore the fight, or consummate the victory; and mean while to secure the city. And for that purpose he 10 encamped in person in Saint George's Fields, putting himself between the city and the rebels. But the city of London, especially at the first, upon the near encamping of the rebels, was in great tumult: as it useth to be with wealthy and populous cities, especially those which for greatness 15 and fortune are queens of their regions, who seldom see out of their windows, or from their towers, an army of enemies. But that which troubled him most, was the conceit, that they dealt with a rout of people, with whom there was no composition or condition, or orderly treating, if need were ; 20 but likely to be bent altogether upon rapine and spoil. And although they had heard that the rebels had behaved themselves quietly and modestly by the way as they went ; yet they doubted much that would not last, but rather make them more hungry, and more in appetite to fall upon spoil in 25 the end. Wherefore there was great running to and fro of people, some to the gates, some to the walls, some to the water-side ; giving themselves alarms and panic fears continually. Nevertheless both Tate the lord mayor, and Shaw and Haddon the sheriffs, did their parts stoutly and 30 well, in arming and ordering the people. And the King likewise did adjoin some captains of experience in the wars, to advise and assist the citizens. But soon after, when they
understood that the King had so ordered the matter, that the rebels must win three battles, before they could approach the city, and that he had put his own person between the
rebels and them, and that the great care was, rather how to 5 impound the rebels that none of them might escape,
than that any doubt was made to vanquish them; they grew to be quiet and out of fear; the rather, for the confidence they reposed, which was not small, in the three leaders, Oxford,
Essex, and Daubeney; all men well famed and loved 10 amongst the people. As for Jasper duke of Bedford, whom
the king used to employ with the first in his wars, he was then sick, and died soon after.
It was the two and twentieth of June, and a Saturday, which was the day of the week the King fancied, when the 15 battle was fought; though the King had, by all the art he
could devise, given out a false day, as if he prepared to give the rebels battle on the Monday following, the better to find them unprovided, and in disarray. The lords that were
appointed to circle the hill, had some days before planted 20 themselves, as at the receit, in places convenient. In the
afternoon, towards the decline of the day, which was done, the better to keep the rebels in opinion that they should not fight that day, the lord Daubeney marched on towards
them, and first beat some troops of them from Deptford25 bridge, where they fought manfully; but, being in no great
number, were soon driven back, and fled up to their main army upon the hill. The army at that time, hearing of the approach of the King's forces, were putting themselves in
array, not without much confusion. But neither had they 30 placed, upon the first high ground towards the bridge, any
forces to second the troops below, that kept the bridge ; neither had they brought forwards their main battle, which stood in array far into the heath, near to the ascent of the
hiil. So that the earl with his forces mounted the hill, and recovered the plain, without resistance. The lord Daubeney charged them with great fury; insomuch as he had like, by accident, to have brandled the fortune of the day: for, by inconsiderate forwardness in fighting at the head of his 5 troops, he was taken by the rebels, but immediately rescued and delivered. The rebels maintained the fight for a small time, and for their persons shewed no want of courage; but being ill armed, and ill led, and without horse or artillery, they were with no great difficulty cut in pieces, and put 10 to flight. And for their three leaders, the lord Audley, the blacksmith, and Flammock, as commonly the captains of commotions are but half-couraged men, suffered themselves to be taken alive. The number slain on the rebels' part were some two thousand men; their army amounting, as it 15 is said, unto the number of sixteen thousand. The rest were, in effect, all taken ; for that the hill, as was said, was encompassed with the King's forces round about. On the King's part there died about three hundred, most of them shot with arrows, which were reported to be of the length of 20 a tailor's yard; so strong and mighty a bow the Cornish men were said to draw.
The victory thus obtained, the King created divers bannerets, as well upon Blackheath, where his lieutenant had won the field, whither he rode in person to perform the said 25 creation, as in St George's Fields, where his own person had been encamped. And for matter of liberality, he did, by open edict, give the goods of all the prisoners unto those that had taken them; either to take them in kind, or compound for them, as they could. After matter of honour 30 and liberality, followed matter of severity and execution. The lord Audley was led from Newgate to Tower-hill, in a paper coat painted with his own arms; the arms reversed,