Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Raphael Holinshed
Editor: James Mardock
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Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland 1587 (Selection)

24The French response / "the offer likes not" (p. 547-48)

The Frenchmen having knowledge hereof, the dauphin, who had the governance of the realm because his father was fallen into his old disease of frenzy, sent for the dukes of Berry and Alençon, and all the other lords of the council of France, by whose advice it was determined that they should not only prepare a sufficient army to resist the King of England whensoever he arrived to invade France, but also to stuff and furnish the towns on the frontiers and sea coasts with convenient garrisons of men, and further to send to the king of England a solemn embassage to make to him some offers according to the demands before rehearsed. . . .

25At time prefixed, before the king's presence, sitting in his throne imperial, the Archbishop of Bourges made an eloquent and a long oration dissuading war and praising peace, offering to the king of England a great sum of money, with divers counties -- being in very deed but base and poor -- as a dowry with the Lady Catherine in marriage, so that he would dissolve his army and dismiss his soldiers, which he had gathered and put in a readiness [TLN 1072-75].

26When his oration was ended, the king caused the ambassadors to be highly feasted, and set them at his own table. And after a day assigned in the foresaid hall, the Archbishop of Canterbury to their oration made a notable answer, the effect whereof was that if the French king would not give with his daughter in marriage the duchies of Aquitaine, Anjou, and all other seigniories and dominions sometimes appertaining to the noble progenitors of the King of England, he would in no wise retire his army, nor break his journey, but would with all diligence enter into France and destroy the people, waste the country, and subvert the towns with blood, sword, and fire [TLN 278], and never cease till he had recovered his ancient right and lawful patrimony. The king avowed the archbishop's saying, and in the word of a prince promised to perform it to the uttermost.

27The Archbishop of Bourges, much grieved that hisA proud presumptuous priest. embassage was no more regarded, after certain brags blustered out with impatience, as more presuming upon his prelacy than respecting his duty of considerance to whom he spake and what became him to say. He prayed safe conduct to depart, which the king gently granted, and added withal to this effect:

28I little esteem your French brags, and less set by your The wise answer of the King to the bishop.power and strength. I know perfectly my right to my region, which you usurp, and except you deny the apparent truth, so do yourselves also. If you neither do nor will know it, yet God and the world knoweth it. The power of your master you see, but my puissance ye have not yet tasted. If he have loving subjects, I am, I thank God, not unstored of the same; and I say this unto you: that before one year pass I trust to make the highest crown of your country to stoop, and the proudest miter to learn his humiliatedo. In the meantime, tell this to the usurper your master: that within three months I will enter into France as into mine own true and lawful patrimony, appointing to acquire the same not with brag of words, but with deeds of men and dint of sword, by the aid of God, in whom is my whole trust and confidence. Further matter at this present I impart not unto you, saving that with warrant you may depart surely and safely into your country, where I trust sooner to visit you than you shall have cause to bid me welcome.

29With this answer the ambassadors, sore displeased in their minds (although they were highly entertained and liberally rewarded), departed into their country, reporting to the dauphin how they had sped.

30A repeated demand "in the bowels of the Lord" (p. 548)

When the king had all provisions ready, and ordered all things for the defense of his realm, he, leavingThe queen mother governor of the realm. behind him for governor of the realm the queen his mother-in-law, departed to Southampton to take ship into France. And first princely appointing to advertise the French king of his coming, therefor dispatched Antelope, his pursuivant-at-arms, with letters to him for restitution of that which he wrongfully withheld, contrary to the laws of God and man, the king further declaring how sorry he was that he should be thus compelled for repeating of his right and just title of inheritance, to make war to the destruction of Christian people, but sithens he had offered peace which could not be received, now for fault of justice he was forced to take arms. Nevertheless exhorted the French king in the bowels of Jesu Christ to render him that which was his own, whereby effusion of Christian blood might be avoided [TLN 996-1003]. These letters, chiefly to this effect and purpose, were written and dated from Hampton the fifth of August. When the same were presented to the French king, and by his council well perused, answer was made that he would take advice and provide therein as time and place should be convenient, so the messenger licensed to depart at his pleasure.

31The Southhampton treason (pp. 548-49)

When King Henry had fully furnished his navy with men, munition, and other provisions, perceiving that his captains misliked nothing so much as delay, determined his soldiers to go a-shipboard and away. But see the hap [TLN 482]: the night before the day appointed for their departure, he was credibly informed that Richard Earl of Cambridge, brother to Edward Duke of York, and Henry Lord Scrope of Masham, lord treasurer, with Thomas Gray, a knight of Northumberland, being confederateThe Earl of Cambridge and other lords apprehended for treason. together, had conspired his death; wherefore he caused them to be apprehended [TLN 485-87]. The said Lord Scrope was in such favor with the king that he admitted him sometime to be his bedfellow [TLN 635], in whose fidelity theThom. Wals. king reposed such trust that when any private or public council was in hand, this lord had much in the determination of it. For he represented so great gravity in his countenance, such modesty in behavior, and so virtuous zeal to all godliness in his talk, that whatsoever he said was thought for the most part necessary to be done and followed [TLN 756-66]. Also the said Sir Thomas Gray (as some write) was of the king's privy council.

32These prisoners upon their examination confessed that for a great sum of money which they had received of the French king they intended verily either to have delivered the king alive into the hands of his enemies, or else to have murdered him before he should arrive in the duchy of Normandy. When King Henry had heard all things opened which he desired to know, he caused all his nobility to come before his presence, before whom he caused to be brought the offenders also, and to them said:

33Having thus conspired the death and destruction of me, whichKing Henry's words to the traitors. am the head of the realm and governor of the people, it may be no doubt but that you likewise have sworn the confusion of all that are here with me, and also the desolation of your own country. To what horror -- O Lord! -- for any true English heart to consider, that such an execrable iniquity should ever so bewrap you as for pleasing of a foreign enemy to imbrue your hands in your blood and to ruin your own native soil. Revenge herein touching my person though I seek not, yet for the safeguard of you my dear friends, and for due preservation of all sorts, I am by office to cause example to be showed. Get ye hence therefore, ye poor miserable wretches, to the receiving of your just reward, wherein God's majesty give you grace of his mercy and repentance of your heinous offenses [TLN 795-810].

34And so immediately they were had to execution.

35This done, the king, calling his lords again aforeThe Earl of Cambridge and the other traitors executed. him, said in words few and with good grace: of his enterprises he recounted the honor and glory, whereof they with him were to be partakers; the great confidence he had in their noble minds, which could not but remember them of the famous feats that their ancestors aforetime in France had achieved, whereof the due report, forever recorded, remained yet in register [TLN 1100-4]; the great mercy of God that had so graciously revealed unto him the treason at hand, whereby the true hearts of those afore him made so eminent and apparent in his eye as they might be right sure he would never forget it; the doubt of danger to be nothing in respect of the certainty of honor that they should acquire, wherein himself (as they saw) in person would be lord and leader through God's grace. To whose majesty as chiefly was known the equity of his demand, even so to his mercy did he only recommend the success of his travels. When the king had said, all the noblemen kneeled down and promised faithfully to serve him, duly to obey him, and rather to die than to suffer him to fall into the hands of his enemies.

36This done, the king thought that surely all treason and conspiracy had been utterly extinct: not suspecting the fire which was newly kindled and ceased not to increase till at length it burst out into such a flame that catching the beams of his house and family, his line and stock was clean consumed to ashes. Divers write that Richard Earl of Cambridge did not conspire with the Lord Scrope and Thomas Gray for the murdering of King Henry to please the French king withal, but only to the intent to exalt to the crown his brother-in-law Edmund Earl of March as heir to Lionel Duke of Clarence, after the death of which Earl of March, for divers secret impediments not able to have issue, the Earl of Cambridge was sure that the crown should come to him by his wife, and to his children of her begotten [TLN 784-86]. And therefore, as was thought, he rather confessed himself for need of money to be corrupted by the French king than he would declare his inward mind and open his very intent and secret purpose, which if it were espied, he saw plainly that the Earl of March should have tasted of the same cup that he had drunken, and what should have come to his own children he much doubted. Therefore destitute of comfort and in despair of life to save his children, he feigned that tale, desiring rather to save his succession than himself, which he did indeed: for his son Richard Duke of York not privily but openly claimed the crown, and Edward his son both claimed it and gained it, as after it shall appear. Which thing, if king Henry had at this time either doubted or foreseen, had never been like to have come to pass, as Hall saith.