Page images

the duke of Bedford. And as his manner was to send his pardons rather before the sword than after, he gave commission to the duke to proclaim pardon to all that would come in : which the duke, upon his approach to the lord Lovel's camp, did perform. And it fell out as the King 5 expected; the heralds were the great ordnance. For the lord Lovel, upon proclamation of pardon, mistrusting his men, fled into Lancashire, and lurking for a time with Sir Thomas Broughton, after sailed over into Flanders to the lady Margaret. And his men, forsaken of their captain, 10 did presently submit themselves to the duke. The Staffords likewise, and their forces, hearing what had happened to the lord Lovel, in whose success their chief trust was, despaired and dispersed. The two brothers taking sanctuary at Colnham, a village near Abingdon ; which place, upon 15 view of their privilege in the King's bench, being judged no sufficient sanctuary for traitors, Humphrey was executed at Tyburn; and Thomas, as being led by his elder brother, was pardoned. So this rebellion proved but a blast, and the King having by this journey purged a little the dregs 20 and leaven of the northern people, that were before in no good affection towards him, returned to London. In September following, the Queen was delivered of her

whom the King, in honour of the British race, of which himself was, named Arthur, according to the name 25 of that ancient worthy King of the Britains, in whose acts there is truth enough to make him famous, besides that which is fabulous. The child was strong and able, though he was born in the eighth month, which the physicians do






There followed this year, being the second of the King's

a strange accident of state, whereof the relations

which we have are so naked, as they leave it scarce crédible; not for the nature of it, for it hath fallen out often, but for the manner and circumstance of it, especially in the

beginnings. Therefore we shall make our judgment upon 5 the things themselves, as they give light one to another,

and, as we can, dig truth out of the mine. The King was green in his estate; and, contrary to his own opinion and desert both, was not without much hatred throughout the

realm. The root of all was the discountenancing of the 10 house of York, which the general body of the realm still

affected. This did alienate the hearts of the subjects from him daily more and more, especially when they saw, that after his marriage, and after a son born, the King did never

theless not so much as proceed to the coronation of the 15 Queen, not vouchsafing her the honour of a matrimonial

crown; for the coronation of her was not till almost two years after, when danger had taught him what to do. But much more when it was spread abroad, whether by error, or

the cunning of malcontents, that the King had a purpose 20 to put to death Edward Plantagenet closely in the Tower:

whose case was so nearly paralleled with that of Edward the fourth's children, in respect of the blood, like age, and the very place of the Tower, as it did refresh and reflect upon

the King a most odious resemblance, as if he would be 25 another King Richard. And all this time it was still

whispered every where, that at least one of the children of Edward the fourth was living : which bruit was cunningly fomented by such as desired innovation. Neither was the

King's nature and customs greatly fit to disperse these 30 mists; but contrariwise, he had a fashion rather to create

doubts than assurance. Thus was fuel prepared for the spark : the spark, that afterwards kindled such a fire and combustion, was at the first contemptible.

There was a subtle priest called Richard Simon', that lived in Oxford, and had to his pupil a baker's son, named Lambert Simnell, of the age of some fifteen years, a comely youth, and well favoured, not without some extraordinary dignity, and grace of aspect. It came into this priest's 5 fancy, hearing what men talked, and in hope to raise himself to some great bishopric, to cause this lad to counterfeit and personate the second son of Edward the fourth, supposed to be murdered; and afterward, for he changed his intention in the manage, the lord Edward Plantagenet, then 10 prisoner in the Tower, and accordingly to frame him and instruct him in the part he was to play. This is that which, as was touched before, seemeth scarcely credible; not that a false person should be assumed to gain a kingdom, for it hath been seen in ancient and late times; nor that it should 15 come into the mind of such an abject fellow, to enterprise 50 great a matter; for high conceits do sometimes come streaming into the imaginations of base persons; especially when they are drunk with news, and talk of the people. But here is that which hath no appearance: That this priest, 20 being utterly unacquainted with the true person, according to whose pattern he should shape his counterfeit, should think it possible for him to instruct his player, either in gesture and fashions, or in recounting past matters of his life and education ; or in fit answers to questions, or the like, 25 any ways to come near the resemblance of him whom he was to represent. For this lad was not to personate one, that had been long before taken out of his cradle, or conveyed away in his infancy, known to few; but a youth, that till

The priest's name was William Simonds, and the youth was the son of

.... an organ-maker in Oxford, as the priest declared before the whole convocation of the clergy at Lambeth, Feb. 17, 1486. Vide Reg. Morton. f. 34. MS. Sancroft.

the age almost of ten years had been brought up in a court where infinite eyes had been upon him. For King Edward, touched with remorse of his brother the duke of Clarence's

death, would not indeed restore his son, of whom we speak, 5 to be duke of Clarence, but yet created him earl of Warwick, reviving his honour on the mother's side; and used him honourably during his time, though Richard the third afterwards confined him. So that it cannot be, but that

some great person that knew particularly and familiarly 10 Edward Plantagenet, had a hand in the business, from whom

the priest might take his aim. That which is most probable, out of the precedent and subsequent acts, is, that it was the Queen dowager, from whom this action had the principal

source and motion. For certain it is, she was a busy nego15 ciating woman, and in her withdrawing-chamber had the

fortunate conspiracy for the King against King Richard the third been hatched; which the King knew, and remembered perhaps but too well; and was at this time extremely dis

content with the King, thinking her daughter, as the King 20 handled the matter, not advanced but depressed: and none

could hold the book so well to prompt and instruct this stage-play, as she could. Nevertheless it was not her meaning, nor no more was it the meaning of any of the better

and sager sort that favoured this enterprise, and knew the 25 secret, that this disguised idol should possess the crown;

but at his peril to make way to the overthrow of the King; and that done, they had their several hopes and ways. That which doth chiefly fortify this conjecture is, that as soon as

the matter brake forth in any strength, it was one of the 30 King's first acts to cloister the Queen dowager in the nunnery of Bermondsey, and to take away all her lands and

and this by a close council, without any legal proceeding, upon far fetched pretences that she had delivered her two daughters out of sanctuary to King Richard, contrary to promise. Which proceeding being even at that time taxed for rigorous and undue, both in matter and manner, makes it very probable there was some greater matter against her, which the King, upon reason of policy and to 5 avoid envy, would not publish. It is likewise no small argument that there was some secret in it, and some suppressing of examinations, for that the priest Simon himself, after he was taken, was never brought to execution ; no not so much as to public trial, as many clergymen were upon 10 less treasons, but was only shut up close in a dungeon. Add to this, that after the earl of Lincoln, a principal person of the house of York, was slain in Stoke-field, the King opened himself to some of his council, that he was sorry for the earl's death, because by him, he said, he might have 15 known the bottom of his danger.

But to return to the narration itself: Simon did first instruct his scholar for the part of Richard, duke of York, second son to King Edward the fourth; and this was at such time as it was voiced, that the King purposed to put 20 to death Edward Plantagenet, prisoner in the Tower, whereat there was great murmur. But hearing soon after a general bruit that Plantagenet had escaped out of the Tower, and thereby finding him so much beloved amongst the people, and such rejoicing at his escape, the cunning 25 priest changed his copy, and chose now Plantagenet to be the subject his pupil should personate, because he was more in the present speech and votes of the people; and it pieced better, and followed more close and handsomely, upon the bruit of Plantagenet's escape. But yet doubting that there 30 would be too near looking, and too much perspective into his disguise, if he should shew it here in England; he thought good, after the manner of scenes in stage-plays and

« PreviousContinue »