Page images
PDF
EPUB

the troops were so small, as neither had the face of a succour by authority, nor could much advance the Briton affairs. To which message although the French King gave no full credit, yet he made fair weather with the King, and seemed satisfied. Soon after the English ambassadors re- 5 turned, having two of them been likewise with the duke of Britain, and found things in no other terms than they were before. Upon their return, they informed the King of the state of the affairs, and how far the French King was from any true meaning of peace; and therefore he was now to 10 advise of some other course: neither was the King himself led all this while with credulity merely, as was generally supposed : but his error was not so much facility of belief, as an ill measuring of the forces of the other party.

For, as was partly touched before, the King had cast 15 the business thus with himself. He took it for granted in his own judgment, that the war of Britain, in respect of the strength of the towns and of the party, could not speedily come to a period. For he conceived, that the counsels of a war, that was undertaken by the French King, then childless, 20 against an heir apparent of France, would be very faint and slow; and, besides, that it was not possible, but that the state of France should be embroiled with some troubles and alterations in favour of the duke of Orleans. He conceived likewise that Maximilian King of the Romans was a Prince 25 warlike and potent; who, he made account, would give succours to the Britons roundly. So then judging it would be a work of time, he laid his plot, how he might best make use of that time for his own affairs. Wherein first he thought to make his vantage upon his parliament; knowing that they 30 being affectionate unto the quarrel of Britain, would give treasure largely: which treasure, as a noise of war might draw forth, so a peace succeeding might coffer up. And

[ocr errors]

because he knew his people were hot upon the business, he chose rather to seem to be deceived, and lulled asleep by the French, than to be backward in himself; considering

his subjects were not so fully capable of the reasons of 5 state, which made him hold back. Wherefore to all these purposes he saw no other expedient, than to set and keep

foot a continual treaty of peace, laying it down, and taking it up again, as the occurrence required. Besides, he

had in consideration the point of honour, in bearing the 10 blessed person of a pacificator. He thought likewise to

make use of the envy that the French King met with, by occasion of this war of Britain, in strengthening himself with new alliances; as namely, that of Ferdinando of Spain,

with whom he had ever a consent even in nature and cus15 toms; and likewise with Maximilian, who was particularly

interested. So that in substance he promised himself money, honour, friends, and peace in the end. But those things were too fine to be fortunate and succeed in all parts; for

that great affairs are commonly too rough and stubborn to be 20 wrought upon by the finer edges or points of wit. The King

was likewise deceived in his two main grounds. For al though he had reason to conceive that the council of France would be wary to put the King into a war against the heir

apparent of France; yet he did not consider that Charles 25 was not guided by any of the principal of the blood or

nobility, but by mean men, who would make it their masterpiece of credit and favour, to give venturous counsels, which no great or wise man durst or would. And for Maximilian, he was thought then a greater matter than he was; his unstable and necessitous courses being not then known.

After consultation with the ambassadors, who brought him no other news than he expected before, though he would not seem to know it till then, he presently summoned

30

[ocr errors]

his parliament, and in open parliament propounded the cause of Britain to both houses, by his chancellor Morton archbishop of Canterbury, who spake to this effect.

“MY lords and masters, the King's grace, our sovereign ' lord, hath commanded me to declare unto you the causes 5 “ that have moved him at this time to summon this his “parliament; which I shall do in few words, craving pardon of his grace, and you all, if I perform it not as I would.

“His grace doth first of all let you know, that he “ retaineth in thankful memory the love and loyalty shewed 10 “ to him by you, at your last meeting, in establishment of “his royalty; freeing and discharging of his partakers, and “ confiscation of his traitors and rebels; more than which “could not come from subjects to their sovereign, in one “ action. This he taketh so well at your hands, as he hath 15 “made it a resolution to himself, to communicate with so “loving and well approved subjects, in all affairs that are of “public nature, at home or abroad.

“Two therefore are the causes of your present assembling: the one, a foreign business; the other, matter of 20 “ government at home.

“The French King, as no doubt ye have heard, maketh at this present hot war upon the duke of Britain. His “army is now before Nantz, and holdeth it straitly besieged, “being the principal city, if not in ceremony and preemi- 25

nence, yet in strength and wealth, of that duchy. Ye may guess at his hopes, by his attempting of the hardest part of “the war' first. The cause of this war he knoweth best. “He allegeth the entertaining and succouring of the duke “of Orleans, and some other French lords, whom the King 30 “ taketh for his enemies. Others divine of other matters. “Both parts have, by their ambassadors, divers times prayed "the King's aids; the French King aids or neutrality; the

“Britons aids simpiy; for so their case requireth. The hg, " as a Christian Prince, and blessed son of the holy church, “hath cffered himself, as a mediator, to treat of peace

“ between them. The French King yielded to treat, but 5 “will not stay the prosecution of the war. The Britons,

" that desire peace most, hearken to it least; not upon con“fidence or stiffness, but upon distrust of true meaning, “seeing the war goes on. So as the King, after as much

“pains and care to effect a peace, as ever he took in any 10“ business, not being able to remove the prosecution on the

"one side, nor the distrust on the other, caused by that pro“secution, hath let fall the treaty; not repenting of it, but 'despairing of it now, as not likely to succeed. Therefore

“by this narrative you now understand the state of the 15" question, whereupon the King prayeth your advice; which

“is no other, but whether he shall enter into an auxiliary “and defensive war for the Britons against France ?

“And the better to open your understandings in this “affair, the King hath commanded me to say somewhat to 20 “ you from him, of the persons that do intervene in this

“ business; and somewhat of the consequence thereof, as it “hath relation to this kingdom, and somewhat of the ex"ample of it in general : making nevertheless no conclusion

or judgment of any point, until his grace hath received 25 “your faithful and politic advices.

"First, for the King our sovereign himself, who is the “principal person, you are to eye in this business; his grace “ doth profess, that he truly and constantly desireth to reign

“in peace. But his grace saith, he will neither buy peace 30 “with dishonour, nor take it up at interest of danger to

"ensue; but shall think it a good change, if it please God “to change the inward troubles and seditions, wherewith he “ hath been hitherto exercised, into an honourable foreign

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

And for the other two persons in this action, the “ French King and the duke of Britain, his grace doth “declare unto you, that they be the men unto whom he is “of all other friends and allies most bounden: the one having held over him his hand of protection from the 5 tyrant; the other having reached forth unto him his hand "of help for the recovery of his kingdom. So that his "affection toward them in his natural person, is upon equal

terms. And whereas you may have heard, that his grace was enforced to fly out of Britain into France, for doubts 10 “of being betrayed; his grace would not in any sort have " that reflect upon the duke of Britain, in defacement of his “former benefits; for that he is thoroughly informed, that it

was but the practice of some corrupt persons about him, "during the time of his sickness, altogether without his con- 15 “sent or privity.

“But howsoever these things do interest his grace in “this particular, yet he knoweth well, that the higher bond “that tieth him to procure by all means the safety and

welfare of his loving subjects, doth disinterest him of these 20 "obligations of gratitude, otherwise than thus; that if his grace be forced to make a war, he do it without passion or ambition.

“For the consequence of this action towards this kingdom, it is much as the French King's intention is. For if 25 “it be no more, but to range his subjects to reason, who "bear themselves stout upon the strength of the duke of "Britain, it is nothing to us. But if it be in the French “King's purpose, or if it should not be in purpose, yet if it “should follow all one, as if it were sought, that the French 30 "King sball make a province of Britain, and join it to the "crown of France; then it is worthy the consideration, how " this may import England, as well in the increasement of

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »