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  • Title: Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland 1587 (Selection)
  • Editor: James D. Mardock

  • Copyright James D. Mardock. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Raphael Holinshed
    Editor: James D. Mardock
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    Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland 1587 (Selection)

    1Henry's accession and reformation (p. 543)

    Henry, prince of Wales, son and heir to King Henry the Fourth, born in Wales at Monmouth on the river of Wye, after his father was departed, took upon him the regiment of this realm of England, the twentieth of March; the morrow after proclaimed king by the name of Henry the Fifth, in the year of the world 5375; after the birth of our savior by

    Anno reg. 1

    our account 1413; the third of the emperor Sigismund; the three-and-thirtieth of Charles the sixth French king . . . .

    Such great hope and good expectation was had of this man's fortunate success to follow, that within three days after his father's decease, divers noble

    Homage done [to] King Henry before his coronation.

    men and honorable personages did to him homage, and sware to him due obedience, which had not been seen done to any of his predecessors kings of this realm till they had been possessed of the crown.

    The day of King Henry's coronation a very temp[es]tuous day.

    He was crowned the ninth of April, being Passion Sunday, which was a sore, ruggy, and tempestuous day, with wind, snow and sleet, that men greatly marveled thereat, making divers interpretations what the same might signify. But this king even at first appointing with himself to show that in his person princely honors should change public manners, he determined to put on him the shape of a new man. [TLN 65-93]. For whereas aforetime he had made himself a companion unto misruly mates of dissolute order and life, he now banished them all from his presence

    A notable example of a worthy prince.

    -- but not unrewarded or else unpreferred -- inhibiting them upon a great pain not once to approach, lodge, or sojourn within ten miles of his court or presence [TLN 94-100; 2H4 TLN 3275-77]. And in their places he chose men of gravity, wit, and high policy, by whose wise counsel he might at all times rule to his honor and dignity, calling to mind how once to high offense of the king his father he had with his fist stricken the chief justice for sending one of his minions (upon desert) to prison, when the justice stoutly commanded himself also straight to ward, and he (then prince) obeyed [2H4 TLN 329-30]. The king after expelled him out of his privy council, banished him the court, and made the Duke of Clarence, his younger brother, president of council in his stead. . . .

    But now that the king was once placed in the royal seat of the realm, he virtuously considering in his mind that all goodness cometh of God, determined to begin with something acceptable to his divine majesty, and therefore commanded the clergy sincerely and truly to preach the word of God, and to live accordingly, that they might be the lanterns of light to the temporalty, as their profession required. The laymen he willed to serve God, and obey their prince, prohibiting them above all things breach of matrimony, custom in swearing, and namely willful perjury. Beside this, he elected the best-learned men in the laws of the realm to the offices of justice, and men of good living he preferred to high

    A parliament.

    degrees and authority. Immediately after Easter he called a parliament, in which divers good statutes and wholesome ordinances for the preservation and advancement of the commonwealth were devised and established.

    Thom. Walsin. The funerals of King Henry the Fourth kept at Canterbury.

    On Trinity Sunday were the solemn exequies done at Canterbury for his father, the king himself being present thereat.

    The reinterment of Richard II and the elevation of Saint George's day (pp. 543-44)

    About the same time, at the special instance of the king, in a convocation of the clergy holden at Paul's in London, it was ordained that Saint George

    S. George's day made a double feast.

    his day should be celebrate and kept as a double feast. The archbishop of Canterbury meant to have honored Saint Dunstan's day with like reverence, but it took not effect. When the king had settled things much to his purpose, he caused the body of King Richard to be removed, with all funeral dignity convenient for his estate, from Langley to Westminster, where he was honorably interred with Queen Anne, his first wife, in a solemn tomb erected and set up at the charges of this king [TLN 2147-49].

    Abr. Pl. out Polychron.

    Polychronicon saith, that after the body of the dead king was taken up out of the earth, this new king, happily tendering the magnificence of a prince and abhorring obscure burial, caused the same to be conveyed to Westminster in a royal seat, or chair of estate, covered all over with black velvet and adorned with banners of divers arms round about. All the horses likewise, saith this author, were appareled with black, and bare sundry suits of arms. Many other solemnities were had at his interment, according to the quality of the age wherein he lived and died.

    5The Oldcastle rebellion (p. 544)

    Also in this first year of this king's reign, Sir John Oldcastle, which by his wife was called Lord Cobham, a valiant captain and a hardy gentleman, was accused to the Archbishop of Canterbury of certain points of heresy, who, knowing him to be highly in the king's favor, declared to his highness the whole accusation. The king, first having compassion of the noble man, required the prelates that if he were a strayed sheep, rather by gentleness than by rigor to reduce him to the fold. And after this he himself sent for him and right earnestly exhorted him and lovingly admonished him to reconcile himself to God and to his laws. The Lord Cobham not only thanked him for his most favorable clemency, but also declared, first to him by mouth and afterwards by writing, the foundation of his faith and the ground of his belief, affirming his grace to be his supreme head and competent judge, and none other person, offering an hundred knights and esquires to come to his purgation, or else to fight in open lists in defense of his just cause.

    The king, understanding and persuaded by his council that by order of the laws of his realm, such accusations touching matters of faith ought to be tried by his spiritual prelates, sent him to the Tower of London, there to abide the determination of the clergy, according to the statutes in that case provided, after which time a solemn session was appointed in the cathedral church of Saint Paul, upon the three-and-twentieth day of September, and another the five-and-twentieth day of the same month, in the hall of the Blackfriars at London, in which places the said lord was examined, apposed, and fully heard, and in conclusion by the Archbishop of Canterbury denounced an heretic and remitted again

    Sir John Oldcastle escaped out of the Tower

    to the Tower of London, from which place, either by help of friends, or favor of keepers, he privily escaped and came into Wales, where he remained for a season.

    Titus Livius.

    After this, the king, keeping his Christmas at his


    manor of Eltham, was advertised that Sir Roger Acton, knight, a man of great wit and possessions,


    John Browne, esquire, John Beverly, priest, and a

    A commotion raised by Sir Roger Acton and Others.

    great number of other were assembled in armor against the king, his brethren, the clergy and realm. These news came to the king on the twelfth day in

    Titus Livius.

    Christmas, whereupon understanding that they were in a place called Fickett Field beside London, on the back side of Saint Giles, he straight got him to his palace at Westminster in as secret wise as he might, and there calling to him certain bands of

    The rebels surprised.

    armed men, he repaired into Saint Giles fields, near to the said place (where he understood they should fully meet about midnight) and so handled the matter that he took some and slew some, even as stood with his pleasure. The captains of them aforementioned, being apprehended, were brought to the kings presence

    Thom. Walsin.

    and to him declared the causes of their commotion and rising, accusing a great number of their complices.

    The king used one policy which much served to the discomfiting of the adversaries (as Thomas Walsingham saith), which was this: he gave order that all the gates of London should be straitly kept and guarded, so as none should come in or out but such as were known to go to the king. Hereby came it to pass that the chiefest succor appointed to come to the captains of the rebels was by that means cut off, where otherwise surely, had it not been thus prevented and stayed, there had issued forth of London

    By this excessive number it may appear that Walsingham reporteth the matter according to the common fame, and not as one that searcheth out an exquisite truth

    to have joined with them to the number (as it was thought) of fifty thousand persons, one and other, servants, prentices, and citizens, confederate with them that were thus assembled in Fickett Field. Divers also that came from sundry parts of the realm hasting towards the place to be there at their appointed time chanced to light among the king's men, who being taken and demanded whither they went with such speed, answered they came to meet with their captain the Lord Cobham.

    But whether he came thither at all, or made shift for himself to get away, it doth not appear; for he could not be heard of at that time (as Thomas Walsingham confesseth) although the king by proclamation promised a thousand marks to him that could bring him forth, with great liberties to the cities or towns that would discover where he was. By this it may appear how greatly he was beloved, that there could not one be found that for so great a reward would bring him to light. Among other that were taken was one William Murley, who dwelt in

    William Murley

    Dunstable, a man of great wealth and by his occupation a brewer, an earnest maintainer of the lord CobhamĘžs opinions and, as the bruit ran, in hope to be highly advanced by him if their purposed device had taken place, apparent by this: that he had two horses trapped with gilt harness led after him, and in his bosom a pair of gilt spurs, as it was deemed, prepared for himself to wear, looking to be made knight by the Lord Cobham's hands at that present time. But when he saw how their purpose quailed, he withdrew into the city with great fear to hide himself; howbeit he was perceived, taken, and finally executed among others.

    10To conclude, so many persons hereupon were apprehended that all the prisons in and about London were full. The chief of them were condemned by

    Sir Roger Acton and his complices condemned of treason and heresy.

    the clergy of heresy and attainted of high treason in the Guildhall of London, and adjudged for that offense to be drawn and hanged, and for heresy to be consumed with fire, gallows and all, which judgment was executed the same month on the said Sir Roger Acton and eight-and-twenty others. Some say that the occasion of their death was only for the conveying of the Lord Cobham out of prison. Others write that it was both for treason and heresy, and so it appeareth by the record. Certain affirm that it was for feigned causes surmised by the spiritualty, more upon displeasure than truth, and that they were assembled to hear their preacher (the foresaid Beverly) in that place there, out of the way from resort of people, sith they might not come together openly about any such matter without danger to be apprehended -- as the manner is, and hath been ever of the persecuted flock, when they are prohibited publicly the exercise of their religion. But howsoever the matter went with these men, apprehended they were, and divers of them executed, as before ye have heard, whether for rebellion or heresy, or for both (as the form of the indictment importeth) I need not to spend many words, sith others have so largely treated thereof; and therefore I refer those that wish to be more fully satisfied herein unto their reports.

    The tennis-ball embassy (p. 545)

    Whilst in the Lent season the king lay at


    Killingworth, there came to him from Charles, Dauphin

    A scornful embassage

    of France certain ambassadors that brought with them a barrel of Paris balls, which from their master they presented to him for a token that was taken in very ill part, as sent in scorn to signify that it was more meet for the king to pass the time with such childish exercise than to attempt any worthy exploit [TLN 403-8]. Wherefore the king wrote to him, that ere ought long, he would toss him some London balls that perchance should shake the walls of the best court in France [TLN 409-38].

    The "bill urged by the commons" (p. 545)

    In the second year of his reign, King Henry

    Anno Reg. 2. 1414

    called his high court of parliament, the last day of April in the town of Leicester, in which parliament many profitable laws were concluded, and many petitions moved were for that time deferred. Amongst which one was that a bill exhibited in the parliament holden at Westminster in the eleventh year of King Henry the Fourth, which by reason the king was then troubled with civil discord came to none effect, might now with good deliberation be pondered and brought to some good conclusion. The

    A bill exhibited to the parliament against the clergy.

    effect of which supplication was that the temporal lands devoutly given and inordinately spent by religious and other spiritual persons should be seized into the kings hands, sith the same might suffice to maintain, to the honor of the king and defense of the realm, fifteen earls, fifteen hundred knights, six thousand and two hundred esquires, and a hundred alms-houses for relief only of the poor, impotent, and needy persons, and the king to have clearly to his coffers twenty thousand pounds, with many other provisions and values of religious houses, which I pass over [TLN 39-57].

    This bill was much noted and more feared among the religious sort, whom surely it touched very near, and therefore to find remedy against it they determined to assay all ways to put by and overthrow this bill, wherein they thought best to try if they might move the king's mood with some sharp invention, that he should not regard the importunate petitions of the commons [TLN 58-63]. Whereupon, on a day in the parliament, Henry Chichely, Archbishop of Canterbury,

    The Archbishop of Canterbury's oration in the parliament house.

    made a pithy oration wherein he declared how not only the duchies of Normandy and Aquitaine, with the counties of Anjou and Maine and the country of Gascony, were by undoubted title appertaining to the king, as to the lawful and only heir of the same, but also the whole realm of France, as heir to his great-grandfather king Edward the Third.

    The Salic Law oration and the build to war (pp. 545-46)

    Herein did he much inveigh against the surmised

    The Salic law.

    and false feigned law Salic, which the Frenchmen allege ever against the kings of England in bar of their just title to the crown of France:

    15The very words of that supposed law are these: In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant, that is to say, "Into the Salic land let not women succeed," which the French glossers expound to be the realm of France, and that this law was made by King Pharamond, whereas yet their own authors affirm that the land Salic is in Germany, between the rivers of Elbe and Saale; and that when Charles the Great had overcome the Saxons, he placed there certain Frenchmen which, having in disdain the dishonest manners of the German women, made a law that the females should not succeed to any inheritance within that land, which at this day is called Meissen. So that


    if this be true, this law was not made for the realm of France, nor the Frenchmen possessed the land Salic till four hundred and one-and-twenty years after the death of Pharamond, the supposed maker of this Salic law, for this Pharamond deceased in the year 426, and Charles the Great subdued the Saxons and placed the Frenchmen in those parts beyond the river of Saale in the year 805.Moreover, it appeareth by their own writers that King Pepin, which deposed Childeric, claimed the crown of France as heir general for that he was descended of Blithild, daughter to king Clothair the First. Hugh Capet also, who usurped the crown upon Charles Duke of Lorraine, the sole heir male of the line and stock of Charles the Great, to make his title seem true and appear good, though in deed it was stark naught, conveyed himself as heir to the Lady Lingard, daughter to King Charlemagne, son to Louis the emperor, that was son to Charles the Great. King Louis also, the Tenth, otherwise called Saint Louis, being very heir to the said usurper Hugh Capet, could never be satisfied in his conscience how he might justly keep and possess the crown of France till he was persuaded and fully instructed that Queen Isabelle his grandmother was lineally descended of the Lady Ermengard, daughter and heir to the above named Charles Duke of Lorraine, by the which marriage the blood and line of Charles the Great was again united and restored to the crown and scepter of France. So that more clear than the sun it openly appeareth that the title of King Pepin, the claim of Hugh Capet, the possession of Louis, yea and the French kings to this day are derived and conveyed from the heir female, though they would under the color of such a feigned law bar the kings and princes of this realm of England of their right and lawful inheritance [TLN 182-242].

    The archbishop further alleged out of the Book of Numbers this saying: "When a man dieth without a son, let the inheritance descend to his daughter" [TLN 245-247]. At length, having said sufficiently for the proof of the king's just and lawful title to the crown of France, he exhorted him to advance forth his banner to fight for his right, to conquer his inheritance, to spare neither blood, sword, nor fire, sith his war was just, his cause good, and his claim true [TLN 247-49, 272-76]. And to the intent his loving chaplains and obedient subjects of the spiritualty might show themselves willing and desirous to aid his majesty, for the recovery of his ancient right and true inheritance, the archbishop declared that in their spiritual convocation, they had granted to his highness such a sum of money as never by no spiritual persons was to any prince before those days given or advanced [TLN 277-82].

    The Earl of Westmorland persuadeth the king to the conquest of Scotland.

    When the archbishop had ended his prepared tale, Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland, and as then Lord Warden of the Marches against Scotland, understanding that the king, upon a courageous desire to recover his right in France, would surely take the wars in hand, thought good to move the king to begin first with Scotland, and thereupon declared how easy a matter it should be to make a conquest there, and how greatly the same should further his wished purpose for the subduing of the Frenchmen, concluding the sum of his tale with this old saying: that Whoso will France win, must with Scotland first begin. Many matters he touched, as well to show how necessary the conquest of Scotland should be as also to prove how just a cause the king had to attempt it, trusting to persuade the king and all other to be of his opinion [TLN 313-19].

    But after he had made an end, the Duke of Exeter, uncle to the king, a man well learned and wise --

    The Duke of Exeter his wise and pithy answer to the Earl of Westmorland's saying.

    who had been sent into Italy by his father, intending that he should have been a priest -- replied against the Earl of WestmorlandĘžs oration, affirming rather that he which would Scotland win, he with France must first begin. For if the king might once compass the conquest of France, Scotland could not long resist; so that conquer France, and Scotland

    A true saying.

    would soon obey. For where should the Scots learn policy and skill to defend themselves if they had not their bringing up and training in France? If the French pensions maintained not the Scottish nobility, in what case should they be? Then take away France, and the Scots will soon be tamed, France being to Scotland the same that the sap is to the tree, which being taken away the tree must needs die and wither [TLN 320-23].

    20To be brief, the Duke of Exeter used such earnest and pithy persuasions to induce the king and the whole assembly of the parliament to credit his words that immediately after he had made an end, all the company began to cry, "War, war! France, France!" Hereby the bill for dissolving of religious houses was clearly set aside, and nothing thought on but only the recovering of France, according as the archbishop had moved. And upon this point, after a few acts besides for the wealth of the realm established, the parliament was prorogued unto Westminster. . . .

    Exeter's embassy (p. 546-47)

    Immediately after, the king sent over into France his uncle the Duke of Exeter, the Lord Grey, Admiral of England, the Archbishop of Dublin, and the Bishop of Norwich, ambassadors unto the French king, with five hundred horse, which were lodged in the temple house in Paris, keeping such triumphant cheer in their lodging and such a solemn estate in their riding through the city, that the Parisians and all the Frenchmen had no small marvel at their honorable port.

    The French king received them very honorable, and banqueted them right sumptuously, showing to them jousts and martial pastimes, by the space of three days together, in the which jousts the king himself, to show his courage and activity to the Englishmen, manfully brake spears and lustily tourneyed. When the triumph was ended, the English ambassadors, having a time appointed them to declare their message, admitted to the French king's presence, required of him to deliver unto the King of England the realm and crown of France, with the entire duchies of Aquitaine, Normandy, and Anjou, with the countries of Poitou and Maine. Many other requests they made, and this offered withal: that if the French king would, without war and effusion of Christian blood, render to the king their master his very right and lawful inheritance, that he would be content to take in marriage the Lady Catherine, daughter to the French king, and to endow her with all the duchies and countries before rehearsed; and if he would not so do, then the King of England did express and signify to him that with the aid of God and help of his people, he would recover his right and inheritance wrongfully withholden from him, with mortal war, and dint of sword. . . .

    The Frenchmen, being not a little abashed at these demands, thought not to make any absolute answer in so weighty a cause till they had further breathed, and therefore prayed the English ambassadors to say to the king their master that they now having no opportunity to conclude in so high a matter, would shortly send ambassadors into England, which should certify and declare to the king their whole mind, purpose, and intent. The English ambassadors returned with this answer, making relation of every thing that was said or done. King Henry, after the return of his ambassadors, determined fully to make war in France, conceiving a good and perfect hope to have fortunate success, sith victory for the most part followeth where right leadeth, being advanced forward by justice, and set forth by equity.