Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ of the kingdom, whereof I am father; and bound not only " to seek to maintain it, but to advance it: but for matter “ of treasure, let it not be taken from the poorest sort, but " from those to whom the benefit of the war may redound. “ France is no wilderness; and I, that profess good hus- 5 “bandry, hope to make the war, after the beginnings, to “pay itself. Go together in God's name, and lose no time; “ for I have called this parliament wholly for this cause.”

Thus spake the King; but for all this, though he shewed great forwardness for a war, not only to his parliament and 10 court, but to his privy-council likewise, except the two bishops and a few more, yet nevertheless in his secret intentions he had no purpose to go through with any war upon France.

But the truth was, that he did but traffic with that war, to make his return in money. He knew 15 well, that France was now entire and at unity with itself, and never so mighty many years before. He saw by the taste that he had of his forces sent into Britain, that the French knew well enough how to maķe war with the English, by not putting things to the hazard of a battle, but 20 wearing them by long sieges of towns, and strong fortified encampings. James the third of Scotland, his true friend and confederate, gone; and James the fourth, that had succeeded, wholly at the devotion of France, and ill affected towards him. As for the conjunctions of Ferdinando 25 of Spain and Maximilian, he could make no foundation upon them. For the one had power, and not will; and the other had will, and not power. Besides that, Ferdinando had but newly taken breath from the war with the Moors ; and merchanded at this time with France for the 30 restoring of the counties of Russignon and Perpignian, oppignorated to the French. Neither was he out of fear of the discontents and ill blood within the realm; which

having used always to repress and appease in person, he was loth they should find him at a distance beyond sea, and engaged in war. Finding therefore the inconveniences

and difficulties in the prosecution of a war, he cast with 5

himself how to compass two things. The one, how by the declaration and inchoation of a war to make his profit. The other, how to come off from the war' with saving of his honour. For profit, it was to be made two ways;

upon his subjects for the war, and upon his enemies for 10 the peace; like a good merchant, that maketh his gain

both upon the commodities exported and imported back again. For the point of honour, wherein he might suffer for giving over the war; he considered well, that as he

could not trust upon the aids of Ferdinando and Maxi15

milian for supports of war; so the impuissance of the one, and the double proceeding of the other, lay fair for him for occasions to accept of peace. These things he did wisely foresee, and did as artificially conduct, whereby all things fell into his lap as he desired.

For as for the parliament, it presently took fire, being affectionate, of old, to the war of France; and desirous afresh to repair the dishonour they thought the King sustained by the loss of Britain. Therefore they advised the

King, with great alacrity, to undertake the war of France. 25 And although the parliament consisted of the first and

second nobility, together with principal citizens and townsmen, yet worthily and justly respecting more the people, whose deputies they were, than their own private persons,

and finding by the lord Chancellor's speech the King's 30 inclination that way; they consented that commissioners

should go forth for the gathering and levying of a benevolence from the more able sort. This tax, called a benevolence, was devised by Edward the fourth, for which he

20

sustained much envy. It was abolished by Richard the third by act of parliament, to ingratiate himself with the people; and it was now revived by the King, but with consent of parliament, for so it was not in the time of King Edward the fourth. But by this way he raised ex

5 ceeding great sums. Insomuch as the city of London, in those days, contributed nine thousand pounds and better; and that chiefly levied upon the wealthier sort. There is a tradition of a* dilemma, that bishop Morton the Chancellor used, to raise up the benevolence to higher rates ; 10 and some called it his fork, and some his crutch. For he had. couched an article in the instructions to the commissioners who were to levy the benevolence; “ That if they “met with any that were sparing, they should tell them, " that they must needs have, because they laid up; and if 15 they were spenders, they must needs have, because it was

seen in their port and manner of living.” So neither kind came amiss.

This parliament was merely a parliament of war; for it was in substance but a declaration of war against France 20 and Scotland, with some statutes conducing thereunto : as, the severe punishing of mort-pays and keeping back of soldiers' wages in captains : the like severity for the departure of soldiers without licence ; strengthening of the common law in favour of protections for those that were in the 25 King's service ; and the setting the gate open and wide for men to sell or mortgage their lands, without fines for alienation, to furnish themselves with money for the war; and lastly, the voiding of all Scottish men out of England. There was also a statute for the dispersing of the stand

30 ard of the exchequer throughout England; thereby to size weights and measures; and two or three more of less importance.

After the parliament was broken up, which lasted not long, the King went on with his preparations for the war of France; yet neglected not in the mean time the affairs

of Maximilian for the quieting of Flanders, and restoring 5 him to his authority amongst his subjects. For at that

time the lord of Ravenstein, being not only a subject rebelled, but a servant revolted, and so much the more malicious and violent, by the aid of Bruges and Gaunt,

had taken the town and both the castles of Sluice; as we to said before : and having, by the commodity of the haven,

gotten together certain ships and barks, fell to a kind of piratical trade; robbing and spoiling, and taking prisoners the ships and vessels of all nations, that passed along that

coast towards the mart of Antwerp, or into any part of 15 Brabant, Zealand, or Friesland ; being ever well victual

led from Picardy, besides the commodity of victuals from Sluice, and the country adjacent, and the avails of his own prizes. The French assisted him still under-hand; and

he likewise, as all men do that have been of both sides, 20 thought himself not safe, except he depended upon a

third person.

There was a small town some two miles from Bruges towards the sea, called Dam; which was a fort and ap

proach to Bruges; and had a relation also to Sluice. This 25 town the King of the Romans had attempted often, not for

any worth of the town in itself, but because it might choke Bruges, and cut it off from the sea, and ever failed. But therewith the duke of Saxony came down into Flanders,

taking upon him the person of an umpire, to compose 30 things between Maximilian and his subjects; but being, in

deed, fast and assured to Maximilian. Upon this pretext of neutrality and treaty, he repaired to Bruges ; desiring of the states of Bruges, to enter peaceably into their town, with a retinue of some number of men of arms fit for his estate; being somewhat the more, as he said, the better to guard him in a country that was up in arms : and bearing them in hand, that he was to communicate with them of divers matters of great importance for their good. Which

5 having obtained of them, he sent his carriages and harbingers before him, to provide his lodging. So that his men of war entered the city in good array, but in peaceable manner, and he followed. They that went before inquired still for inns and lodgings, as if they would have rested 10 there all night; and so went on till they came to the gate that leadeth directly towards Dam; and they of Bruges only gazed upon them, and gave them passage. The captains and inhabitants of Dam also suspected no harm from any that passed through Bruges; and discovering forces 15 afar off, supposed they had been some succours that were come from their friends, knowing some dangers towards them. And so perceiving nothing but well till it was too late, suffered them to enter their town. By which kind of sleight, rather than stratagem, the town of Dam was taken, 20 and the town of Bruges shrewdly blocked up, whereby they took great discouragement.

The duke of Saxony, having won the town of Dam, sent immediately to the King to let him know, that it was Sluice chiefly, and the lord Ravenstein, that kept the rebellion of 25 Flanders in life: and that if it pleased the King to besiege it by sea, he also would besiege it by land, and so cut out the core of those wars.

The King, willing to uphold the authority of Maximilian, the better to hold France in awe, and being likewise sued 30 unto by his merchants, for that the seas were much infested by the barks of the lord Ravenstein ; sent straightways Sir Edward Poynings, a valiant man, and of good service,

« PreviousContinue »