Page images
PDF
EPUB

IO

could then well skill to make. This law pointed at a true principle; “That where foreign materials are but super“fluities, foreign manufactures should be prohibited.” For

that will either banish the superfluity, or gain the manu5 facture.

There was a law also of resumption of patents of gaols, and the reannexing of them to the sheriffwicks; privileged officers being no less an interruption of justice, than privileged places.

There was likewise a law to restrain the by-laws, or ordinances of corporations; which many times were against the prerogative of the King, the common law of the realm, and the liberty of the subject, being fraternities in evil.

It was therefore provided, that they should not be put in 15 execution, without the allowance of the chancellor, treasurer,

and the two chief justices, or three of them, or of the two justices of circuit where the corporation was.

Another law was, in effect, to bring in the silver of the realm to the mint, in making all clipped, minished, or im20 paired coins of silver, not to be current in payments; with

out giving any remedy of weight, but with an exception only of reasonable wearing, which was as nothing in respect of the uncertainty; and so, upon the matter, to set the mint

on work, and to give way to new coins of silver, which 25 should be then minted.

There likewise was a long statute against vagabonds, wherein two things may be noted; the one, the dislike the parliament had of gaoling of them, as that which was charge

able, pesterous, and of no open example. The other, that 30 in the statutes of this King's time, for this of the nineteenth

year is not the only statute of that kind, there are ever coupled the punishment of vagabonds, and the forbidding of dice and cards, and unlawful games, unto servants and

mean people, and the putting down and suppressing of alehouses, as strings of one root together, and as if the one were unprofitable without the other.

As for riot and retainers, there passed scarce any parliament in this time without a law against them; the King 5 ever having an eye to might and multitude.

There was granted also that parliament a subsidy, both from the temporality and the clergy. And yet nevertheless, ere the year expired, there went out commissions for a general benevolence, though there were no wars, no fears. 10 The same year the city gave five thousand marks, for confirmation of their liberties; a thing fitter for the beginnings of Kings' reigns, than the latter ends. Neither was it a small matter that the mint gained upon the late statute, by the recoinage of groats and half-groats, now twelve- 15 pences and six-pences. As for Empson and Dudley's mills, they did grind more than ever : so that it was a strange thing to see what golden showers poured down upon the King's treasury at once: the last payments of the marriage-money from Spain; the subsidy; the benevolence; 20 the recoinage; the redemption of the city's liberties; the casualties. And this is the more to be marvelled at, because the King had then no occasions at all of wars or troubles. He had now but one son, and one daughter unbestowed. He was wise ; he was of an high mind; he 25 needed not to make riches his glory; he did excel in so many things else; save that certainly avarice doth ever find in itself matter of ambition. Belike he thought to leave his son such a kingdom, and such a mass of treasure, as he might choose his greatness where he would.

30 This year was also kept the serjeants' feast, which was the second call in this King's days.

About this time Isabella Queen of Castile deceased ;

a right noble lady, and an honour to her sex and times, and the corner-stone of the greatness of Spain that hath followed. This accident the King took not for news at

large, but thought it had a great relation to his own affairs; 5 especially in two points: the one for example, the other for consequence. First, he conceived that the

case of Ferdinando of Aragon, after the death of Queen Isabella, was his own case after the death of his own Queen; and

the case of Joan the heir unto Castile, was the case of his 10 own son Prince Henry. For if both of the Kings had their

kingdoms in the right of their wives, they descended to the heirs, and did not accrue to the husbands. And although his own case had both steel and parchment,

more than the other, that is to say, a conquest in the 15

field, and an act of parliament, yet notwithstanding, that natural title of descent in blood did, in the imagination even of a wise man, breed a doubt, that the other two were not safe nor sufficient. Wherefore he was wonderful

diligent to inquire and observe what became of the King 20 of Aragon, in holding and continuing the kingdom of

Castile ; and whether he did hold it in his own right; or as administrator to his daughter; and whether he were like to hold it in fact, or to be put out by his son-in-law.

Secondly, he did revolve in his mind, that the state of 25 Christendom might by this late accident have a turn.

For whereas before time, himself, with the conjunction of Aragon and Castile, which then was one, and the amity of Maximilian and Philip his son the archduke, was far

too strong a party for France; he began to fear, that now 30 the French King, who had great interest in the affections

of Philip the young King of Castile, and Philip himself, now King of Castile, who was in ill terms with his fatherin-law about the present government of Castile, and thirdly,

Maximilian, Philip's father, who was ever variable, and upon whom the surest aim that could be taken was, that he would not be long as he had been last before, would, all three being potent Princes, enter into some strait league and confederation amongst themselves : whereby though 5 he should not be endangered, yet he should be left to the poor amity of Aragon. And whereas he had been heretofore a kind of arbiter of Europe, he should now go less, and be over-topped by so great a conjunction. He had also, as it seems, an inclination to marry, and bethought 10 himself of some fit conditions abroad : and amongst others he had heard of the beauty and virtuous behaviour of the young Queen of Naples, the widow of Ferdinando the younger, being then of matronal years of seven and twenty: by whose marriage he thought that the kingdom of Naples, 15 having been a goal for a time between the King of Aragon and the French King, and being but newly settled, might in some part be deposited in his hands, who was so able to keep the stakes. Therefore he sent in embassage or message three confident persons, Francis Marsin, James 20 Braybrooke, and John Stile, upon two several inquisitions rather than negotiations. The one touching the person and condition of the young Queen of Naples. The other touching all particulars of estate, that concerned the fortunes and intentions of Ferdinando. And because they 25 may observe best, who themselves are observed least, he sent them under colourable pretexts; giving them letters of kindness and compliment from Catharine the Princess, to her aunt and niece, the old and young Queen of Naples, and delivering to them also a book of new articles of peace; 30 which notwithstanding it had been delivered unto doctor de Puebla, the lieger ambassador of Spain here in England, to be sent; yet for that the King had been long without

hearing from Spain, he thought good those messengers, when they had been with the two Queens, should likewise pass on to the court of Ferdinando, and take a copy

of the book with them. The instructions touching the 5 Queen of Naples were so curious and exquisite, being as

articles whereby to direct a survey, or framing a particular of her person, for complexion, favour, feature, stature, health, age, customs, behaviour, conditions, and estate, as,

if the King had been young, a man would have judged 10 him to be amorous; but, being ancient, it ought to be

interpreted, that sure he was very chaste, for that he meant to find all things in one woman, and so to settle his affections without ranging. But in this match he was soon

cooled, when he heard from his ambassadors, that this 15 young Queen had had a goodly jointure in the realm of

Naples, well answered during the time of her uncle Frederick, yea and during the time of Lewis the French King, in whose division her revenue fell; but since the

time that the kingdom was in Ferdinando's hands, all was 20 assigned to the army and garrisons there, and she received only a pension or exhibition out of his coffers.

The other part of the inquiry had a grave and diligent return, informing the King at full of the present state of

King Ferdinando. By this report it appeared to the King, 25 that Ferdinando did continue the government of Castile, as

administrator unto his daughter Joan, by the title of Queen Isabella's will, and partly by the custom of the kingdom, as he pretended. And that all mandates and grants were ex

pedited in the name of Joan his daughter, and himself as 30 administrator, without mention of Philip her husband. And

that King Ferdinando, howsoever he did dismiss himself of the name of King of Castile, yet meant to hold the kingdom without account, and in absolute command.

« PreviousContinue »