History of England (Froude)/Chapter 26
FALL OF THE PROTECTOR.
March.NOTWITHSTANDING the new service-book, Somerset could scarcely have been satisfied with the condition of the country or with the results of his own administration. Parliament had granted a subsidy; but a subsidy threefold greater would not have extricated the treasury from its difficulties. The expenses of the war could be measured and allowed for; but the expenses of universal peculation were infinite, and from the royal palace to the police stations on the Tweed all classes of persons in public employment were contending with each other in the race of plunder and extravagance. The chantry lands, which, if alienated from religious purposes, should have been sold for the public debts, were disappearing into private hands, with small advantage to the public exchequer. The expenses of the household, which in 1532 were nineteen thousand pounds, in 1549 were more than a hundred thousand. Something was due to the rise of prices, and much to the currency; but the first preponderating cause was in the waste and luxury of the courtiers, and all but universal fraud. The captain of infantry on the Northern Border took pay and rations for the full number of his troop, and hired countrymen on muster-days to fill his empty ranks; his soldiers connived at his dishonesty, while he in turn indulged them in plunder. The 'labourers, gun-makers, powder-makers, bow-makers,' artificers of all kinds employed by the Government, called in vain for their wages. The garrisons in the forts, on the coast, at Calais, and at Boulogne, were in the same case. Provisions were supplied them on credit, and the Government at times paid, or professed to pay, the contractors; but the troops were discontented, mutinous, and disorderly; their officers had lost control over them; sometimes, for the means of subsistence, they were driven to plunder beyond the borders of the Calais pale, on the French or Flemish frontier; and the council had to excuse themselves as they could to the Emperor.
Undeterred by his embarrassments, the Protector was meditating another invasion of Scotland in the coming summer, and had sent to Germany for fresh levies of mercenaries. The Lanzknechts refused to serve, unless in numbers large enough to enable them to compel good treatment. 'If they should go less in number than three or four thousand men, they affirmed they should be brought to the butcher's stall.' 'It was said by the evil report of soldiers that had come out of England, that men there were more ordered like beasts than Christians, both in the scarcity of victual and payment.'
April.The restoration of the currency, which had been twice feebly intended, was again postponed. When the time came for the bad coin to be called in, a proclamation was put out instead, ordering that bad coin and good should be received at a uniform price; and coiners and multipliers were threatened with forfeiture of life, lands, and goods; while Sir William Sharington, who had added treason and breach of trust to forgery, was pardoned and again employed. The daily supplies for the common necessities of the Government were provided by loans from the Antwerp Jews. The borrowing system commenced by Henry in the war had never ceased. The Government, since Henry's death, had run the usual course of spendthrifts—making promises of payment, and when they could not keep them, renewing their bills with increasing interest, and progressing from the open money-dealer to the usurious Jew. A Lazarus Tucker and an Erasmus Schertz were now the principal feeders of the English treasury. When Lazarus would lend no more, books were opened with Schertz; and then Lazarus, 'for malice of the other, and for his own profit,' would untie his purse, and lend again at thirteen per cent., deducting, however, thirteen per cent. additional on the exchange, from the condition of the English currency; while the Protector, on his side, would pay interest in 'kerseys, lead, and bell-metal.' The lead and bells he would take from the churches and chantries; the kerseys, it is to be hoped in charity, he did not purchase of the manufacturers in the base coin which they were compelled to accept as genuine. Never before, and never since, has an English Government been reduced to shifts so scandalous.
The relations with France were more dangerous than if war had been declared. From many quarters the Protector was warned that an attack would be made on Boulogne in the summer. The council entreated him to reinforce the garrison, but he was busy with his own projects, and shut his eyes to the peril. The pirate fleet with which Seymour had been connected, amounted now to twenty well-armed vessels. The French Government gave them the use of their harbours, and the English traders were pillaged in revenge for the exploits of the privateers. When Flemish ships suffered also, the Emperor held the council in London responsible for the misconduct of its subjects, and the council April 17.were obliged to appeal to his forbearance and plead inability to put the pirates down. Seymour's conspiracy at the same time opened a prospect of creating confusion, by which the French might profit. The Paris Government believed that such an enterprise, if it was real, would not have been ventured, unless there had been some secret disaffection more considerable than had come to light; and agents were sent both to England and to Ireland, if possible, to excite a civil war.
The Emperor was struggling with the Interim and the Bologna council. Yet his hostility was sustained uniformly to the extreme of his ability; to save his interests, in Italy, it was his object to keep France occupied, and to exasperate, therefore, the English quarrel; and Cardinal Pole took the trouble to write a letter to Somerset, warning him that, when opportunity offered, Charles also would not fail to use it to revenge his own wrongs and the wrongs of the Church;—adding, at the same time, that the Catholic powers had not recognized the legitimacy of a prince who had been born when the kingdom was under an interdict. The money loans at Antwerp were contracted in the face of an edict prohibiting the exportation of bullion from Flanders. The dealings with the Jews were contraband; and a large sum, as much, it was said, as 40,000l., was intercepted and seized on its way to England by the officers of the customs. No provident English statesman could calculate safely on the maintenance of the treaty with the Emperor until England was at peace with France and Charles was again at war with it.
If England was insecure towards the Continent, at home things were on the edge of convulsion. The Enclosures Commission had excited hopes among the people, May.which Parliament had destroyed by refusing to consider their petition; and the fencing and hedging, sanctioned by the determination of the House of Commons, went on more actively than ever. The Catholics were irritated and disturbed by the religious discussions in Parliament, and by the change in the services; while even the Protestants were frightened by the wild opinions which were spreading under the shelter of the repeal of the heresy laws. June.'How dangerously,' Hooper wrote to Bullinger, 'England is afflicted by heresies, God only knows. There are some who say the soul of a man is no better than the soul of a beast, and is mortal and perishable. There are wretches who dare, in their conventicles, not only to deny that Christ is our Saviour, but to call that blessed Child a mischief-maker and a deceiver. A great part of the country is Popish, and sets at nought God and the magistrates. The people are oppressed by the tyranny of the nobles; England is full of misery.'
The Protector could not blind himself to symptoms so broad as these, but he was bent on going his own way, and the obstacles which he encountered made him impatient of advice, imperious, and headstrong. Sir William Paget, by far the ablest man upon the council, and a true friend to Somerset, implored him to be cautious; but he was so violent, that others durst not speak to him at all; and though Paget persevered, it was only to be 'whipped with sharp words.' May.'How it cometh to pass I cannot tell,' Paget wrote at last, 'but of late your Grace is grown into great cholerick fashions, whensoever you are contraried in that which you have conceived in your head. A King which shall give men occasion of discourage to say their opinions frankly, receiveth thereby great hurt and peril to his realm. But a subject in great authority as your Grace, in using such fashions, is like to fall into great danger and peril of his own person, besides that to the commonwealth. For the love I bear to your Grace, I beseech you to consider and weigh it well.'
With precarious authority and noble intentions, with moderate ability and immoderate ambition to do good, ready to think those only wise who flattered his hopes, and in his eagerness to accomplish great things, neglecting the immediate duties of the day and hour, Somerset was better qualified than most men to wreck his own fortunes and the cause which he attempted to guide. Forsaking those to whose counsel he had bound himself to attend, he had placed himself in the hands of obscure and venal satellites; and, corrupt as were the law courts of the day, the court which he had established in his own house, managed by such men as these, was probably, but more speciously unjust, while it had the further disadvantage of illegality.
The scheme of policy which he had sketched for himself was sufficiently magnificent. A grand army was to invade Scotland in the summer. The Italian question thickening, Paget was sent to the Emperor to attempt to persuade him to repeat the policy of 1544; the Protector and Charles were each to enter France at the head of thirty thousand men 'galyardly,' and dictate moderation at Paris. The new Prayer-book was to come into use at Whitsuntide, and the mass—the Jacob's ladder by which for thirty generations the souls of men were supposed to have climbed to heaven—was to be put down and prohibited by law. Simultaneously the two Universities were made an arena for a disputation on the real presence, where foreign Protestants were to confound superstition. Heresy becoming so troublesome, a commission was appointed to hunt out and try Anabaptists; to examine them, to report on their opinions, and if mild measures of conversion failed, to deliver over the obstinate in the old fashion to the secular arm. Since Parliament would not listen to the wrongs of the people, another commission was directed to enforce redress by the Acts of Henry, and to accomplish by immediate constraint the restoration of the appropriated lands.
'To alter the state of a realm,' Paget wrote to Sir William Petre, when he heard of all this; 'to alter the state of a realm would ask ten years' deliberation. War abroad and war among ourselves, what prince that understands things would not gladly see one of them at an end ere he enter with us?' 'Commissions out for in that matter,' he wrote again to Somerset, 'new laws for this, proclamations for another, one in another's neck, so thick that they be not set by among the people! Alas! sir, take pity of the King, of your wife, and of your children, and of the conservation and state of the realm, and put no more so many irons in the fire at once.' But remonstrances were vain as ever. The Oxford and Cambridge schools rang with their unprofitable jargon, and the victory, of course, was ruled to the innovators. The commissioners of religion called up suspected Anabaptists. Processions of abjured heretics carried faggots at St Paul's, and Joan Bocher, a Kentish woman, who had views on the incarnation which she refused to abjure, was left in prison waiting further sentence.
Commissions, arguments which ought to convince, and a prison for those who remained unsatisfied; these, without further trouble, were to establish religion and restore the suffering people to prosperity. The Protector had early notice that success would be less easy than he desired. In reply to his Heresy Commission, a man at St Ives took a dead cat which had been lying in the street for a week, 'and did hang it up upon a post in the open market, the hinder legs cross nailed, the fore legs spread abroad and nailed, the head hanging on the one side, and a paper over it.' The Princess Mary, when invited to receive the Prayer-book, replied that, 'although, the council had forgotten the King her father, and their oaths to observe his will, yet for herself she would observe his laws as he left them' till her brother was of years of discretion. The peasants, when the commission of enclosures was announced in May, took the redress of their injuries upon themselves; filled the ditches, levelled the hedges, tore down the palings of parks, and drove the deer and killed them.
On this last point the Protector came at once into open collision with the council. Somerset said openly that he 'liked well the doings of the people;' 'the covetousness of the gentlemen gave occasion to them to rise; it was better they should die than perish for lack of living.' Against the entreaties of all who were entitled to advise him, he replied to the commotion by a proclamation that illegal enclosures should be levelled on a day which he specified; and by a second, immediately following, that no one should be vexed or sued for any part which he had taken in the riots. The more energetic among the lords resolved, in consequence, to act for themselves: they dispersed about the country; sheriffs and magistrates were directed by them to prosecute all disturbers of the peace by the sword; and if any of the people 'should be departed from their houses to any assembly for unlawful purposes, to spoil and rifle their houses, to their utter ruin and destruction, and the terrible example of others.' Sir William Herbert, whose own parks had been invaded, attacked the rioters in person, and cut some of them in pieces.
At this crisis news came from the western counties which exposed the weakness of the hopes with which Somerset was cheating himself. A religious insurrection he had believed to be impossible. He had been persuaded that the masses of the people sympathized with the changes which he was introducing. He had confounded a contented acquiescence in the separation from the Pope with an approval of innovations upon the creed.
It has been mentioned that a Government commissioner was murdered in the summer of 1548 in Cornwall. The Cornishmen had been neither conciliated nor terrified by the executions with which the crime was avenged; an organized spirit of disaffection silently spread, and Sir Humfrey Arundel, of St Michael's Mount, and Boyer, the mayor of Bodmin, were the intended leaders of a meditated rebellion. A second Pilgrimage of Grace was about to be enacted in England; the reader will observe, in the altered features assumed by the insurrection, the changes which had passed over the country.
The flame first kindled in the adjoining county.
June 9.The English liturgy was read in all churches for the first time on Whit-Sunday, the 9th of June, 1549. On Whit-Monday the priest of Sampford Courtenay, a village on the slopes of Dartmoor, in Devonshire, was going into church for morning prayers, when a group of his parishioners gathered about him, asking what service he would use. The priest said that he must go by the law. The men answered they would have none of the new fashions; they would have the old religion of their fathers, as King Henry VIII. by his last will and testament had ordained. The priest yielded willingly to compulsion. He put on his cope and vestments, and said mass in Latin, 'the common people all the country round clapping their hands for joy.'
The neighbouring magistrates came the day after to make inquiries. The villagers collected with bows and pikes; and, after an armed conference, the magistrates, 'afraid of their shadows,' or in their hearts agreeing with the popular feeling, withdrew without further interference. The successful example was not long unimitated. In the same week, or within a few days, the wave of resistance swept over the country west of Exeter, meeting on the Tamar a similar movement swelling upwards from Cornwall. Of all the council Lord Russell was most closely connected with Devonshire. To Russell had fallen the domains of the abbey of Tavistock; St Mary's Clyst and part of Exeter itself belonged to him. Russell had commanded the musters of the county in the French war; and when the news of the commotion reached London, Russell was chosen to put an end to it. Being prevented from setting out on the instant, Sir Peter and Sir Gawen Carew, who were at the Court, went down before him, carrying private orders from the council, unknown to the Protector, to put the disturbance down promptly and sternly. On reaching Exeter they learnt that the rebels, now openly in arms, were assembled in force, seven miles off, at Crediton. The Carews collected a party of horse, set out for the place without delay, and on approaching the town found the streets barricaded and trenches cut across the roads. They dismounted and went forward on foot. On arriving at the first barricade, they were challenged, stopped, and told that they should not pass unless unarmed and alone. Sir Peter, accustomed to cross swords with the French chivalry, was not to be daunted by village churls; he charged the barricade, and was met with a shower of arrows and balls. The annoyance came chiefly from a row of barns at the end of the street, which were occupied by matchlock men. It was a difficulty which a wisp of straw would best remove; the thatch was lighted, and when the smoke and the blaze had cleared away, the assailants found the road open, but the town deserted, and the rebels scattered in the open country, where they could not reach them. At once the cry spread everywhere that the gentlemen were destroying the commons. 'The barns of Crediton' became a gathering word, and a flaming beacon of insurrection; and the Carews returned to Exeter only to learn that the commotion had broken out close at hand, almost within sight of the walls.
The day happened to be a holyday. Walter Raleigh, of Budleigh Salterton, was riding home from the city; his road lay through St Mary's Clyst, a village two miles from Exeter, towards Topsham; and on the way he passed an old woman going to church, who was telling her beads. Raleigh, a sea-going man, and like most men of his calling, inclined to novelties, told her she must leave her follies alone now; times were changed and the law was changed; she must live like a Christian woman, or it would be the worse for her. The old woman tottered on to the parish church, where service had begun when she entered; and 'she, being impatient and in an agony with the speeches past between her and the gentleman, began to upbraid in the open church very hard and unseemly speeches concerning religion.' 'Ye must leave beads now,' she screamed; 'no more holy bread for ye, nor holy water. It is all gone from us or to go, or the gentlemen will burn your houses over your heads.' About the same hour the Crediton barns were blazing. The villagers dashed out of the church; some cut down trees, and barricaded the bridge towards Exeter; others ran down to Topsham, and fetched cannon from the vessels at the quay. They overtook Raleigh on the road, seized him, and roughly handled him. The Walter of English fame might never have existed, had not 'certain mariners' come to the rescue.
Carew, after a night's consultation with the city magistrates, was on his horse at daybreak, with his brother. They galloped with their followers to Clyst, and were forcing their way over the bridge, when a gunner, 'in malice at Sir Peter for religion, and for the barns at Crediton,' blew the match of a cannon that swept the road. He was prevented from firing by a comrade; but a parley followed-an Exeter alderman was allowed to enter the village alone, to hear the people's complaints; while the Carews rode fretfully up and down the river banks, probing the mud with their lances to find footing for their horses. All day long the alderman remained among the rioters. Sir Peter would at last have dashed through at all hazards, had not his own people mutinied at his back. Chafing with indignation, he was obliged to return to the city; and at night his companions, with others of the corporation, appeared to tell him that there would be no quiet in Devonshire unless the council would leave religion as it had been ordered by Henry.
Sir Peter, in a rage, called the citizens traitors and poltroons. He would raise the force of the county, he said. He would call every loyal gentleman to his standard, and slash the rebel dogs into their senses. When the morning came he learnt that it was easier to say this than do it. Ten thousand Cornish were in full march from the Tamar. The roads round Exeter were beset; Walter Raleigh was again a prisoner; and the gentlemen were everywhere hiding for their lives in 'woods and caves.' There was nothing left but for him to escape and warn Russell. The mayor and aldermen, although they hated the religious changes as heartily as the rebels, promised to hold the city for the King as long as they had provisions to keep them alive. Carew made his way through by-lanes and paths into Somersetshire.
Unsettled as the country was everywhere becoming, the dimensions which the insurrection might assume were now altogether uncertain. Russell had reached Taunton, but he had no force with him adequate to the emergency. He directed Carew to hasten with his best speed to the Court, and make his report to the council. He himself went on to Honiton, intending to wait there for his reinforcements. Should Exeter fall meanwhile, and the rebels advance, he would retire on Sherborne and Salisbury.
Exasperated at his own mistake, disappointed at the interference with his plans which he foresaw must flow from the confusion, Somerset, when Sir Peter arrived, overwhelmed him with reproaches. Carew's violence, the Protector chose to think, had changed a riot into a rebellion, and Carew only was to blame. Sir Peter produced his orders, which it appears had been signed by Edward. The chancellor said a royal command was valueless without the great seal; the rest of the council stood by their own act, and high language was used on all sides. The Protector had considered himself a king all but in name; but his royalty was a child of sunshine, and shade was fatal to it. It soon enough became clear that the causes of the rebellion lay deeper than the mistake of a single person. Posts came in one after the other with news that all England was stirring. Yorkshire was up; Northamptonshire was up; Norfolk and Suffolk were up. Peter Martyr and the Oxford controversy had set on fire Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The enclosures, the high prices, the change in religion, worked one upon the other, and the Protector found that he either must relinquish the Reformation, or lose the title of the people's friend. The many grievances were massed together inseparably; and the army of foreign mercenaries, which he had collected for the invasion of Scotland, he must either permit to be used to crush the commons in a quarrel, to which, so far as the land was concerned, he had himself encouraged them; or he must take their side against the gentlemen, put himself at their head in a servile war, and give them back their mass.
The demands of the western insurgents, in a special form, followed close on Carew's arrival. The English service had been either studiously made ridiculous in the manner in which it was performed by the unwilling clergy, or the people had been taught to believe that it was something half profane, half devilish. The new communion, strangely, was thought, like the love-feasts of the Gnostics, to be intended as an instigation to profligacy. In fifteen articles the Commons of Devonshire and Cornwall required the restoration of the Catholic faith and the extinction of Protestantism with fire and sword.
1. 'We will have,' thus imperiously their petition was worded, all the general councils and holy decrees of our forefathers observed, kept, and performed, and whosoever shall gainsay them, we hold them as heretics.
2. We will have the laws of our sovereign lord King Henry VIII. concerning the six articles to be used again, as in his time they were.
3. We will have the mass in Latin, as it was before, and celebrated by the priest without any man or woman communicating with him.
4. We will have the sacrament hung over the high altar, and thus be worshipped as it was wont to be, and they which will not thereunto consent, we will have them die like heretics against the holy Catholic faith.
5. We will have the sacrament of the altar but at Easter delivered to the people, and then but in one kind.
6. We will that our curate shall minister the sacrament of baptism at all times, as well on the week days as on the holydays.
7. We will have holy bread and holy water every Sunday, palms and ashes at the time accustomed, images to be set up again in every church, and all other ancient ceremonies held heretofore by our Mother Holy Church.
8. We will not receive the new service, because it is but like a Christmas game. We will have our old service of matins, mass, even-song, and procession as it was before; and we the Cornishmen, whereof certain of us understand no English, utterly refuse the new English.
9. We will have every preacher in his sermon, and every priest at the mass, pray, especially by name, for the souls in purgatory, as our forefathers did.
10. We will have the Bible, and all books of Scripture in English, to be called in again, for we be informed that otherwise the clergy shall not of long time confound the heretics.
11. We will have Doctor Moreman and Doctor Crispin, which hold our opinions, to be safely sent unto us, and to them we require the King's Majesty to give some certain livings to preach among us our Catholic faith.
12. We think it meet, because the Lord Cardinal Pole is of the King's blood, that he should not only have his pardon, but also be sent for from Rome, and promoted to be of the King's council.
13. We will that no gentleman shall have any more servants than one to wait upon him, except he may dispend a hundred mark land, and for every hundred marks we think it reasonable that he should have a man.
14. We will that the half part of the abbey lands and chantry lands in every man's possession, howsoever he came by them, be given again to the places where two of the chief abbeys were within every county where such half part shall be taken out; and there to be established a place for devout persons, which shall pray for the King and the Commonwealth. And to the same we will have all the alms of the church box given for seven years.
15. For the particular griefs of our country, we will have them so ordered as Humfrey Arundel and Henry Boyer, the King's Mayor of Bodmin, shall inform the King's Majesty, if they may have safeconduct in the King's great seal to pass and repass with an herald-of-arms.
While the western rebels were demanding a return to Catholicism, those in the eastern counties were inclining to Anabaptism; but in the one and the other, and in fact all over England, were the two elements of discontent, which the Protector would so gladly have separated. If he maintained the Act of Uniformity, he must put down the demonstration against the gentle men. If he hesitated, he must encourage heresy or reaction, or both.
A ruler strong enough to cope with embarrassments so complicated would not have allowed them to occur. Beset on all sides, and not knowing what to do, he wrote letters, issued proclamations, and appointed commissions. For the relief of the poor, he set out a tariff of prices for the necessaries of life, as if the condition of the country would permit the enforcement of it. One only feature was wanting in the confusion. It was announced that the Princess Mary had sanctioned the rebellion, and that her chaplains were among the insurgents at Exeter. Had she yielded to the temptation, she would perhaps have overturned her brother's throne. The Protector wrote to her: he told her what was generally said; and though he did not doubt her loyalty, 'her proceedings in matters of religion,' he said, 'being openly known, had given no small courage to the rebels.' Mary answered with haughty brevity that, if the realm was in disorder, the fault was not with her. Neither she nor any of her household had been in communication with the insurgents directly or indirectly.
Mary had refused conformity, and Somerset did not dare to insist upon it. Prudent for once, he gave her license to use her own services at her pleasure. But, to quiet the country, he could expect neither countenance nor assistance from her, and resources in himself he had none. The council demanded that circulars should be directed to all noblemen and gentlemen, calling on them to arm their servants and tenants; to apprehend as they could all disturbers, and unite to enforce order. A circular was issued, but so vague in its terms that no one dared to act upon it.
Sir William Paget, who was still abroad, in a clear and powerful letter, sketched a course for the Protector to follow. 'In Germany,' he said, referring to the peasant wars, 'when the very like tumult to this began first, it might have been appeased with the loss of twenty men; and after that with the loss of a hundred or two hundred; but it was thought nothing. And also some spiced consciences, taking pity of the poor—who, indeed, knew not what pity was, nor who were the poor—thought it a sore matter to lose so many of their even Christians, saying they were simple folks, and wist not what the matter meant, and were of a godly knowledge: and after this sort, and by such womanly pity and fond persuasion, suffered the matter to go so far, as it cost, ere it was appeased, they say, a hundred thousand, but I know by credible report of some that were at it, at least threescore thousand men's lives. Likewise our business may, peradventure, at the worst, if resistance should be made, cost a thousand or two thousand men's lives. By St Mary, better so than mo. And therefore, sir, go to it betimes. Send for all the council that be remaining unsent abroad; and for because there are a good many of the best absent, call to your Grace to council for this matter six of the gravest and most experimented men of the realm, and consider what is best to be done, and follow their advice. Send for your Almayn horsemen; send for Lord Ferris, and Sir Wm. Herbert, to bring you as many horsemen of such as they dare trust out of Wales. Let the Earl of Shrewsbury bring the like out of Shropshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, of his servants and keepers of forests and parks. Go yourself, accompanied with the said noblemen and their companies; and appoint the Chief Justices of England, three or four of them to resort, with commission of oyer and terminer, to that good town which shall be next to the place where your Grace shall remain. Attach to the number of twenty or thirty of the rankest knaves of the shire. Let six be hanged of the ripest of them, the rest remain in prison. And thus, sir, make a progress this hot weather, till you have perused all those shires that have offended. Your Grace may say you shall lose the hearts of the people; of the good people you shall not—of the ill it maketh no matter.'
When the Protector received this letter, the danger was so imminent that he was obliged to send orders to Staines to break the bridge over the Thames, for fear of an attack on London. Yet in the crisis of the peril, he sent out another of his unlucky enclosure commissions, with circulars, insisting that every gentleman on his own estate should 'reform himself before proceeding to the redress of others;' and throw down his hedges and embankments. 'Put the rebellion down first,' was the advice of Paget, and let the enclosers smart for it afterwards. But the Protector could not draw his sword against men whose cause he considered partially just. The Commons were driven to madness by the tyranny of the gentlemen and the Lords—was he to arm the oppressors with authority to destroy men for crimes they were themselves responsible?
July.At length, however, the religious element in the insurrection became, in the counties west of London, more and more preponderating. Somerset's indecision so far came to an end that he allowed the council to take their own course. As the treasury was unfurnished, the lords emptied their own plate chests, sold their jewels, raised money by every possible shift. Northampton set off with fifteen hundred men to Norfolk. Lord Grey de Wilton with the Lanzknechts went westward, taking Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire in his route, to join Russell. Sir William Herbert made for Wales, to raise the force of the Borders, and march to Exeter across the Somersetshire flats. The Protector remained at the Court to use severity where his conscience permitted him. The Bishop of London had resisted to the last in the House of Lords the alteration of the services. He had not ventured to interfere with the introduction of the Prayer-book into his diocese, but it was observed that he had never officiated in English—that 'in London and elsewhere he was reported to frequent foreign rites and masses such as were not allowed by the order of the realm, contemning and forbearing to praise and pray to God after such rite and ceremony as was appointed.' He was commanded, therefore, to reside permanently in his house in London, under the eye of the authorities to discharge in person all duties belonging to his office, and especially, under pain of being deprived and of incurring such other punishment as the law should direct, to preach a sermon which should be a satisfactory account of his opinions on the following points. He was to prove—
1. That all persons rebelling against their sovereign thereby incurred damnation.
2. Therefore, that the English rebels, specially those of Cornwall and Devonshire, 'were incurring damnation ever to be in the burning fire of hell with Lucifer, the father and first author of disobedience—what masses or holy water soever they went about to pretend.'
3. That 'Korah, Dathan, and Abiram pretended religion, and were swallowed up quick in hell'—that Saul was rejected for saving the sheep from sacrifice—that disobedience and rebellion, under any plea whatsoever, were hateful to God.
4. That vital religion consisted only in prayer to God—that rites, forms, and ceremonies were but the dress, or outward costume, which the magistrate might change at his pleasure that if any man, therefore, persisted any longer in using the Latin service, his devotion was made valueless by the disobedience involved in the practice.
The outward and silent submission of the subject to usages of which he disapproves may, under certain circumstances, be legitimately demanded; his allegiance to his sovereign and country is the only question on which he may be required to declare his private opinion. The Bishop of London was invited to teach what he was known not to believe. If he complied, his character was forfeited. If he refused, his person was at the mercy of the Government. It was a repetition of the treatment of Gardiner, and the result was the same. He was held not to have given satisfaction; he was insolent on his examination; and he was imprisoned for the remainder of the reign. The story will now follow Lord Grey.
Round Oxford the parish priests had heen excited by the theological controversies on the Eucharist. They had communicated their irritation to the yeomen and labourers, and the county was in disorder. But the people had. no organization which would resist regular troops, and punishment was reserved chiefly for their instigators. The rope was introduced to give force to the arguments of Peter Martyr, and far and wide among the villages the bodies of the rectors and vicars were dangled from their church towers. The bells, which had been used to rouse the peasants, were taken down and sold for the benefit of the Government, 'leaving one only of the smallest size' to tinkle feebly for the English prayers.
Having restored order in Oxfordshire, Grey hastened on to Honiton, where his coming was anxiously looked for.
Lord Russell had waited, unable to move, till the few gentlemen who had collected about him dropped away, as day passed after day and brought no help. On the 2nd of July the insurgent army, for so it might now be called, appeared in force before Exeter. Elsewhere the rising was exclusively among the small farmers and the peasantry. In the west, where the religious grounds of discontent were stronger than the social, it had affected a higher grade, and Sir Thomas Pomeroy, and Sir Humfrey Arundel, Coffin of the north of Devon, and other men of weight and property, were among the leaders of an organized force twenty thousand strong, which, armed, disciplined, and provided with cannon, were collected under the banner of the cross. After taking possession of Exeter, they intended to march on towards London, raising the country as they went; and when they summoned the inhabitants to surrender, they expected immediate compliance and co-operation. In the city two violent factions, a Catholic and a Protestant, were divided by a large middle party, who, though conservative in religion, were loyal to law and order—who had no love for religious changes, but had less for treason and insurrection. In their names, and with their support, in spite of a demonstration from the Catholics, Blackball the mayor kept his promise to Carew. The gates were barred and barricaded; the tradesmen were turned into a garrison. If the rebels desired to enter Exeter, they were told that they must find their own road into it.
Insurrections, to be successful, must be rapid. Had Arundel left Exeter to its fate, and gone forward, there was no force between him and London which he could not have overwhelmed; but a few days, he supposed, would be the utmost that an unfortified city could resist, and he waited to besiege it. The approaches were occupied—the pipes which carried water into the city were cut—cannon, small, probably, and ill-served, were fired incessantly upon the houses—the gates were undermined, and a continual correspondence was maintained between the rebels and the disaffected party among the citizens, which gained strength as the provisions began to run low. So daring and so violent became the Catholics at last, that they met in arms at the Guildhall to insist on a capitulation; 'Richard Tailor, a clothier, drew his bow and shot an arrow' at some reforming zealot; and they paraded the streets in procession crying out, 'Come out, you heretics; where be these twopenny bookmen; by God's wounds and blood, we will not be penned in to serve their turn; we will go out and have in our neighbours; they be honest and good men.' Nevertheless, the mayor persevered. A hundred of the principal householders agreed to stand by him to the last, and by skill and steadiness he kept the peace. The conduits were well supplied, and the summer was happily wet. A rate was levied for the support of the poor, which rose as prices rose; and so long as there was food within the walls, even the prisoners in the gaol received their fair share with the rest. Skirmishing parties occasionally swept in droves of cattle from the adjoining meadows by sudden sallies. As the rebels mined, the citizens countermined. Where the assailants were suspected to be at work, an adroit engineer detected their presence under-ground by the vibration of a pan of water above their heads, and they were blown up or drowned in their holes.
A blockaded town, however, could not resist for ever. The mayor held on for six weeks; he then felt that he had done his utmost, and he had made up his mind with his friends to cut his way through the besiegers and escape, when news came that relief was at hand.
Russell had been stationary at Honiton from the middle of June to the middle of July. In the last fortnight rumours came from day to day that the city was taken, that Arundel was advancing, that Wiltshire had risen in his rear. Being at last almost alone, he was retiring in despair, and had reached Sherborne, when Carew, returning from London, brought the welcome information of the advance of Lord Grey. With revived spirits, Russell now raised money among the merchants at Bristol and Taunton. The Carews collected their tenants, stirred the gentlemen of Dorsetshire, and brought together a few companies of horse. The promise of action of some kind put an end to the paralysis which had been caused by the apathy of the Protector, and the waverers and the timid came forward with their services.
Honiton was made again the rallying point; and a tolerable force was soon in arms there. As soon as Grey should come, the intention was to go forward immediatety and fight a battle under the walls of Exeter. The rebels, however, were by this time conscious that they were losing their opportunity. Hearing of Russel's return and of his expected reinforcements, they determined to anticipate his attack. On the 27th of July scouts brought in information that a body of Cornishmen were three miles off at Fenington Bridge. Their numbers were increasing, and they might be hourly looked for at Honiton. A council of war was held; when Sir Peter, as usual, was for an instant fight. His advice was taken: with as many men as he could bring together, Russell went in search of the enemy, whom he found to the number of a few hundred encamped in a meadow across the water below the bridge, waiting for a fresh detachment which had not yet arrived.
A few trees formed a barricade at the bridge, which was defended by a party of archers and matchlock men. The Carews, ever foremost, leapt their horses over the fence, and, after some hard fighting, in which Sir Gawen was shot through the arm, the road was cleared. Lord Russell passed over, and the skirmish became general. The Cornish at last giving way, discipline, as might be expected among such troops as Russell had with him, came to an end. They scattered, looking for spoil; and in this condition were caught by the second body of insurgents, who came up at the moment. They suffered severely; many were cut to pieces, the rest extricated themselves after a fierce struggle, rallied again, and finally drove the Cornish off the field, leaving three hundred of their number dead; but Russell's loss was perhaps as great as that of the rebels, and he returned to Honiton in haste, not without fear of being intercepted.
It was perhaps the report of this business which decided Blackhall on surrendering. But two or three days after, Grey finally arrived, bringing with him the Lanzknechts, three hundred Italian musketeers, and some tolerable artillery. Grey's whole force was not more than a thousand, but it was formed of professional soldiers who understood their business, and with them the advance must at all hazards be ventured. Herbert with the Welsh was reported to be at no great distance, but Exeter was in extremity, and to lose it might be to lose everything.
August 3.On Saturday the 3rd of August, therefore, the little army marched out of Honiton. To avoid a battle where they could not choose their ground, they left the road, crossed the open hills behind Ottery St Mary, and in the evening of the same day were on the heath—or what was a heath in those days—above St Mary's Clyst, two miles from Topsham. Among the peasantry the irritation was justly turned to madness when they knew that foreign mercenaries were brought in to crush them. Never before had English rulers used the arms of strangers against English subjects; and no sooner were their columns in sight, than the villagers of Clyst rushed up in rage to fall upon them. One could wish that the better cause had found the better defenders. The half-armed Devonshire peasants were poorly matched against trained and disciplined troops. Few who went up the hill came back again; they fell in the summer gloaming, like stout-hearted, valiant men, for their hearths and altars; and Miles Coverdale, translator of the Bible, and future Bishop of Exeter, preached a thanksgiving sermon among the bodies as they lay with stiffening limbs with their faces to the sky.
So far, however, Russell had encountered but straggling detachments or handfuls of exasperated labourers. He had keener work before him. As the preacher's last words died away, the shouts and cries of the gathering insurgents swayed through the night air. Too late for the skirmish, the force which had been watching the roads to intercept his advance was now swarming thick into Clyst, and before day broke six thousand resolute men were in the village under the hill. The odds of numbers were heavy, but at all risks a battle must be ventured.
August 4.Sunday morning at sunrise the trumpet sounded, and the King's troops were on the move. The advance was slow. Felled trees lay across the lanes, with trenches behind and between them. It was nine o'clock before the road was open into the village; when the English horse, led by Sir William Francis, pushed on, followed close by Russell and Grey. The main body of the rebels were drawn up on the village green. As they came in sight, the horse went at them at a gallop, to break their ranks in the first rush; but the houses and walls on each side were lined with archers, whose arrows told fatally at close quarters. At the back of the village there was a thick furze brake, from which Sir Thomas Pomeroy started out unlocked for, and fell upon the Lanzknechts; and, believing themselves surrounded, Germans, Italians, English, all in confusion together, fell back, and were driven in panic up the hill to their camp. Every foreigner who fell out of rank was instantly killed. 'Abhorred of our party,' says Hooker, who was present, 'they were nothing favoured of the other;' and the chase was so hot, that Russell's cannon, ammunition-waggons, shot, powder, were taken and carried off into Clyst.
For the moment all seemed lost, but the troops rallied on the heath, and again charged, and the insurgents in turn recoiled. The fight rolled down once more into the village, and this time the houses were set on fire, and the archers driven from their covers. The horse a second time attempted to ride down the people. Francis was killed, and the struggle was long and obstinate; but the fire and the smoke, and the Italian muskets, gave the victory to Russell, and, once broken, the rebels scattered in all directions. The river towards Exeter, which runs up from Topsham, was by this time filled with the tide. Some were cut down on the waterside, some were drowned in attempting to cross, some were burnt in the village; altogether a thousand were killed, besides an unknown number who surrendered.
The bridge was still in the insurgents' hands. They had cannon upon it, and it could not be taken in front without loss; but a party of Grey's horse found a ford where they could cross, and, dashing through the water, came on the gunners from behind and sabred them. The road was then cleared, and Grey himself went forward to a rising ground which commanded the scene through which they had fought their way. Seeing, or believing that he saw, parties of the enemy again collecting in force in the rear, he sent word to Russell to be on his guard; and as a precaution which the peril of so small an army might have seemed to justify, the prisoners were put to the sword. But so long as daylight continued, there was no further attack. The foot followed the horse over the water and encamped.
August 5.In the night they were fired on from the hills. The next day, Monday, there was again a battle, and Grey, who had led the charge on the Scotch infantry at Musselburgh, said that 'such was the valour and the stoutness of the men, that he never, in all the wars he had been in, did know the like.' But the disproportion of numbers seems to have been less than before. Russell on this occasion was able to surround the enemy and prevent their retreat, and the fight ended in a general massacre.
The danger was now over. Monday night the army rested at Topsham; Augyst 6.on Tuesday morning, August the 6th, the red dragon was floating on the walls of Exeter, the city was open, and the lean faces of the inhabitants were lighted with hopes of food. The rebels were gone. The same day Sir William Herbert came up with a thousand Welsh mountaineers, 'too late for the work, but soon enough for the play,' 'for the whole country was put to the spoil, and every soldier fought for his best profit.' The services of the mountain cattle-lifters were made valuable to Exeter; for the city, 'being destitute of victuals,' was, 'by their special industry, provided in two days.' An order of council had fixed the wages of the horse employed on this service at tenpence a day, and those of the foot at the usual sixpence, sufficient for their necessities without granting them license of pillage; but it was desired to impress on the country the consequences of insurrection: spoil kept the foreign troops in good humour; and the promise of wages was not always the payment of them.
The ill-treatment of the people, however, served to keep alive bad feeling; and the Cornish falling back towards Dartmoor, made a stand when beyond the risk of immediate attack. Arundel, Pomeroy, Underhill, and others of the leaders held together, and in a few days news came that some thousand of the insurgents were still in arms at Sampford Courtenay. The fire was extinguished at the scene where it was first kindled. The battle which finally gave peace and reformation to the western counties, may be described in the despatch of Lord Russell himself:—
August 15.'On Friday, August 15,' he reported, 'we marched from Exeter to Crediton, seven miles off. The way was very cumbrous, and therefore that day we went no further. On Saturday we marched towards the camp at Sampford Courtenay, and by the way our scouts and the rebel scouts encountered upon the Sunday on the sudden; August 17.and in a skirmish between them was one Maunders taken, who was one of their chief captains. Order was given to my Lord Grey and to Mr Herbert, for the winning of time, to take a good part of the army, and with the same to make with all diligence possible towards the said camp, to view and see what service might be done for the invasion thereof. They found the rebels strongly encamped, as well by the seat of the ground as by the entrenching of the same. They kept them in play with great ordnance till more convenient way was made by the pioneers; which done, they were assaulted with good courage—on the one side with our footmen, on the other with the Italian harquebutters, in such sort as it was not long before they turned their backs and recovered the town which they before had fortified for all events. While this was doing, and I was yet behind with the residue of the army conducting the carriage, Humfrey Arundel with his whole power came on the backs of our forewards, being thus busied with the assault of the camp. The sudden show of whom wrought such fear in the hearts of our men, as we wished our powers a great deal more, not without cause; in remedy whereof the Lord Grey was forced to leave Mr Herbert at the enterprise against the camp, and to retire to our last horsemen and footmen, whom he caused to turn their faces to the enemies in the show of battle.
'Against Arundel was nothing for one hour but shooting of ordnance to and fro. Mr Herbert in the mean time followed the first attempt, who, pressing still upon them, never breathed till he had driven them to a plain fight. To the chase came fresh horsemen and footmen; in the which were slain five or six hundred of the rebels, and among them was slain Underhill who had charge of that camp. At the retire of our men I arrived, and because it waxed late I thought good to lose no time, but appointed Sir Wm. Herbert and Mr Kingston with their footmen and horsemen to set on the one side, and my Lord Grey to set on their faces, and I with my company to come on the other side. Upon the sight whereof the rebels' stomachs so fell from them, as without any blow they fled. The horsemen followed the chase, and slew to the number of 700, and took a far greater number. Great execution had followed, had not the night come on so fast.
'All this night we sat on horseback, and in morning we had word that Arundel was fled to Launceston, who immediately began to practise with the townsmen and the keepers of Greenfield and other gentlemen for the murder of them that night. The keepers so much abhorred this cruelty as they immediately set the gentlemen at large, and gave them their aid with the help of the town for the apprehension of Arundel, whom, with four or five ringleaders, they have imprisoned. I have sent incontinently both Mr Carews with a good band to keep the town in a stay; and this morning I haste thither with the rest. We have taken 16 pieces of ordnance, some brass and some iron. Of our part there were many hurt, but not passing ten or twelve slain. The Lord Grey and Mr Herbert have served notably. Every gentleman and captain did their work so well as I wot not whom first to commend.'
In the break up at Sampford Courtenay, a party of the insurgents with Coffin made towards Somersetshire. These were cut to pieces at Kingsweston, and Coffin was taken. In all, since the beginning of the month, four thousand of the western men, rather more than less, Hooker says, had been killed in action. It remained to punish more formally those who had been peculiarly guilty. Pressed as the council found themselves on all sides, severity was natural and pardonable. Those who excite rebellion against established governments, be their cause good or be it ill, go to their work with the certainty that they must succeed or die; and on the whole it is good for society that the rule should be recognized and observed. Arundel and three others were hanged at Tyburn. Martial law was proclaimed through Cornwall and Devonshire, and the gibbet did its business freely, although in the latter county, according to Hooker, care was taken to distinguish the really guilty. In Cornwall, if we may believe the legends of the next generation, Sir Anthony Kingston, who went as provost marshal, was not so scrupulous. A story was told of a miller who had been out with Arundel, and expecting inquiry, had persuaded a servant to take his place and name. 'Are you the miller?' said Kingston, riding one day to his door. 'If you please, yes,' was the unsuspecting answer. 'Up with him,' said the provost marshal. 'He is a busy knave, hang him up.' In vain the poor man called out then that he was no miller, but an innocent servant. 'Thou art a false knave, then,' said Sir Anthony, 'to be in two tales, therefore hang him;' 'and he was hanged incontinently.' The Mayor of Bodmin had been among the first to move; his name was joined to Arundel's in the rebels' articles, but his friends had interceded for him, and he had hoped for pardon. Kingston visited Bodmin in his progress, and sent the mayor notice that he would dine with him. He had a man to hang, too, he said, and a stout gallows must be ready. The dinner was duly eaten, and the gallows prepared. 'Think you,' said Kingston, as they stood looking at it; 'think you it is strong enough?' 'Yea, sir,' quoth the mayor, 'it is.' 'Well, then,' said Sir Anthony, 'get you up, for it is for you.' The mayor, 'greatly abashed,' exclaimed and protested. 'Sir,' said Kingston, 'there is no remedy, ye have been a busy rebel, and this is appointed for your reward;' and so, 'without respite or stay, the mayor was hanged.'
These were stories told by the children of the sufferers to their grandchildren. Had Kingston's reports survived, the account would perhaps have been different. He was a young, high-spirited, and, in some respects, noble sort of person, a friend of Hooper the martyr.
An execution at Exeter is more authentic and more characteristic of this time. Prominent in the rebel army was Welsh, the Vicar of St Thomas's; a parish through which the railroad passes by the river-side in front of the town. A worthy parish priest of the old type, Welsh was at once a good believing Catholic, a stout wrestler and cudgel-player, a famous shot with bow, crossbow, and handgun—'a good woodman and a hardy,' who had brought down in his day many a noble buck in the glens of Haldon, and levelled, it is likely, many a ranger from Powderham with his quarter-staif; 'such a one as would not give his head for the polling, nor his beard for the washing;' and withal 'very courteous and gentle of demeanour, and of honest parentage.'
This man for his sins had been a great hater of the Prayer-book, and a special doer in the siege. He had saved life more than once, but he had also taken life. 'One Kingsmill, a tanner of Chagford,' was taken by the rebels with a letter from the mayor to Lord Russell, and brought before him for judgment. The vicar laboured in his priestly calling to make his prisoner a rebel, and not succeeding, had hanged him on an elmtree outside the west gate of the city. And now his own time was come. 'It was pity of him,' men thought, for he had fine gifts and a fine nature; but there was no help for it; Kingsmill's death lay at his door; a court-martial found it there; and he accepted his fate like a gentleman. A beam was run out from St Thomas's church tower, from which they swung him off into the air; and there Hooker saw him hanging in chains in 'his Popish apparel,' 'a holy-water bucket and sprinklers, a sacring bell, and a pair of beads' dangling about his body; and there he hung till the clothes rotted away,, and the carrion crows had pecked him into a skeleton; and down below in St Thomas's church order reigned, and a new vicar read the English liturgy.
The eastern counties had been the scene meanwhile of another insurrection scarcely less formidable.
July 6.On the 6th of July, four days after the commencement of the siege of Exeter, there was a gathering of the people for an annual festival at Wymondham, a few miles from Norwich. The crowd was large, and the men who were brought together found themselves possessed with one general feeling—a feeling of burning indignation at the un-English conduct of the gentlemen. The peasant, whose pigs, and cow, and poultry had been sold or had died, because the commons were gone where they had fed—the yeoman dispossessed of his farm—the farm servant out of employ, because where ten ploughs had turned the soil one shepherd now watched the grazing of the flocksthe artisan smarting under the famine prices which the change of culture had brought with it:all these were united in suffering; while the gentlemen were doubling, trebling, quadrupling their incomes with their sheep-farms, and adorning their persons and their houses with splendour hitherto unknown.
The English commons were not a patient race. To them it was plain that the commonwealth was betrayed for the benefit of the few. The Protector, they knew, wished them well, but he could not right them for want of power. They must redress their own wrongs with their own hands. The word went out for a rising; Robert Ket, a Wymondham tanner, took the lead; and far and wide round Norwich, out in the country, and over the border in Suffolk, the peasants spread in busy swarms cutting down park palings, driving deer, filling ditches, and levelling banks and hedges. A central camp was formed on Mousehold Hill, on the north of Norwich, where Ket established his head- quarters; and gradually as many as sixteen thousand men collected about him in a camp of turf huts roofed with boughs. In the middle of the common stood a large oak-tree, where Ket sat daily to administer justice; and there, day after day, the offending country gentlemen were brought up for trial, charged with robbing the poor. The tribunal was not a bloody one. Those who were found guilty were imprisoned in the camp. Occasionally some gentleman would be particularly obnoxious, and there would be a cry to hang him; but Ket allowed no murdering. About property he was not so scrupulous. Property acquired by enclosing the people's lands, in the code of these early communists, was theft, and ought to be confiscated. 'We,' their leaders proclaimed, 'the King's friends and deputies, do grant license to all men to provide and bring into the camp at Mousehold all manner of cattle and provision of victuals, in what place soever they may find the same, so that no violence or injury be done to any poor man, commanding all persons, as they tender the King's honour and Royal Majesty and the relief of the commonwealth, to be obedient to us the governors whose names ensue.' To this order Ket's signature and fifty others were attached; and in virtue of a warrant which was liberally construed, the country houses over the whole neighbourhood were entered. Not only were sheep, cows, and poultry driven off, but guns, swords, pikes, lances, bows, were taken possession of in the name of the people. A common stock was formed at Mousehold, where the spoil was distributed; and to make up for past wants, they provided themselves, in the way of diet, so abundantly that, in the time which the camp lasted, twenty thousand sheep were consumed there, with 'infinite beefs,' swans, hinds, ducks, capons, pigs, and venison.
Considering the wild character of the assemblage, the order observed was remarkable. Chaplains were appointed, and morning and evening services—here not objected to—were regularly read. On the oak-tree, which was called the Oak of Reformation, there was placed a pulpit, where the clergy of the neighbourhood came from time to time, and were permitted without obstruction to lecture the people upon submission. Among others, came Matthew Parker, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, who, 'mounting into the oak, advised them to leave off their enterprise,' or, if they refused, at all events not 'to waste their victuals,' nor 'to make the public good a pretext for private revenge.' The magistrates and other local authorities wore powerless. In London, as we have seen, the Protector could not resolve on any distinct course of action. Of the Norfolk insurgents he was believed distinctly to approve, and even to have been in private communication with their leaders. For several weeks they were unmolested. The city of Norwich was free to them to come and go. The mayor himself, partly by compulsion, had sat with Ket as joint assessor under the oak, and had been obeyed when he advised moderation. The ultimate intention, so far as the people had formed an intention, was to give a lesson to the gentlemen and to reform the local abuses. They had no thought, like the western rebels, of moving on London, or moving anywhere. They were in permanent session on Mousehold Hill, and there they seemed likely to remain as long as there were sheep left to be eaten and landowners to be punished.
July 31.At last, on the 31st of July, a herald appeared at the oak, bidding all the people, in the King's name, depart to their houses, and for all that they had done promising, without exception, a free and entire pardon. The people shouted, Gfod save the King. They had lived a month at free quarters, they had given a lesson to the gentlemen, who had seen that the Government could not protect them; the pardon was a sanction to their enterprise, which might now fitly end. Undoubtedly, had the rising terminated thus, the Commons would have gained what they desired. Ket, however, stood upon the word. 'Pardon,' he said, was for offenders, and they were no offenders, but good servants of the commonwealth.
The herald replied that he was a traitor, and offered to arrest him. The people thought they were betrayed, and in the midst of wild cries and uproar the mayor drew off into the town, taking the herald with him, and the gates were closed. This was taken at once as a declaration of war. A single night served for the preparations, and the next morning Norwich was assaulted. So fierce and resolute the people were, that boys and young lads pulled the arrows out of their flesh when wounded, and gave them to their own archers to return upon the citizens. After being repulsed again and again, a storming party at last made their way through the river over a weak spot in the walk, and the town was taken.
Regular armies under the circumstances of the now victorious rebels are not always to be restrained—an English mob was still able to be moderate. The Norwich citizens had not been oppressors of the poor, and plunder was neither permitted nor attempted. The guns and ammunition only were carried off to the camp. The herald attempted to address the people in the market-place, but they bade him begone. Such of the inhabitants as they suspected they detained as prisoners, and withdrew to their quarters.
By this time the council were moving. The Protector proposed at first to go himself into Norfolk; but either he was distrusted by the others, or preferred to leave the odium of severe measures to them. Northampton was selected to lead; and it is to be noticed that no reliance could be placed on levies of troops raised in the ordinary way; Lord Sheffield, Lord Wentworth, Sir Anthony Denny, Sir Ralph Sadler, Sir Thomas Cornwallis, and other members of the privy council, went with him; and their force was composed of the personal retinues of the lords and gentlemen, with a company of Italians.
August.The Norwich citizens, by this time alarmed at the humour of their neighbours, received them eagerly. Northampton took the command of the town, and the gates were again closed. The next morning the fighting recommenced, the Italians being first engaged; and an Italian officer being taken prisoner, with the same national hatred of foreigners which appeared in Devonshire, he was carried up to Mousehold, stripped naked, and hung. The insurgents having the advantage, brought their cannon close to the walls. In the night, under cover of a heavy fire, they attempted an assault; and though they failed, and lost three hundred men, they fought so resolutely and desperately, that Northampton renewed the offer which had been sent by the herald of a free pardon.
But the blood of the Commons was now up for battle. They had formed larger views in the weakness of the Government. They replied that they had not taken up arms against the King, but they would save the commonwealth and the King from bad advisers, and they would do it or die in the quarrel. Again the next day they stormed up to the walls. Struck down on all sides, they pressed dauntlessly on; a hundred and forty fell dead on the ramparts, and then Ket forced his way into Norwich, a second time victorious. Sheffield was killed, Cornwallis was taken, Northampton and his other companions fled for their lives. In the confusion some buildings were set on fire, and as a punishment to the inhabitants for having taken part against them, the rebels this time plundered the houses of some of the more wealthy citizens. But they repented of having discredited their cause. The property which had been taken was made up afterwards in bundles and flung contemptuously into the shops of the owners.
Parallel to this misfortune came the news that Henry of France in person had at last entered the Boullonnaise, and that there was a fresh rising in Yorkshire, to which Russell's success in Devonshire was the only counterpoise. It was characteristic of the administration of Somerset that, with half England in flames, and the other half disaffected, and now openly at war with the most powerful nation on the Continent, he was still meditating an invasion of Scotland. Of the Lanzknechts who had been brought over, some were in the west with Russell. The rest had been marched northwards under the command of the Earl of Warwick. But the defeat of Northampton made further perseverance in this direction impossible. Scotland was at last relinquished, left to itself or to France. Orders were sent to Rutland, who was at Berwick, to cross the Tweed with such force as he had with him, to level the works at Haddington, and, leaving there the bodies of thousands of men, and the hundreds of thousands of pounds which had been spent upon the fortifications, to bring off the garrison. Warwick's destination was changed to Norwich, where he was ordered to proceed without delay. The German troops were to follow him by forced marches.
Dudley, Earl of Warwick, was now passing into prominence; he was the son of Edward Dudley, who had been the instrument of the oppressions of Henry VII., who, on the accession of Henry VIII., had taken part in a treasonable attempt to secure the person of the young King, and had died on the scaffold. The faults of the father had not been visited on the son. John Dudley was employed early in the public service. He had distinguished himself as a soldier, a diplomatist, and as an admiral. As Lord Lisle, a title given to him by Henry, he had commanded the English fleet at Spithead at the time of the French invasion of 1545, and he was second in command under Somerset at Musselburgh. Perfectly free from vague enthusiasm, in his faults and in his virtues he was alike distinguished from the Protector. Shrewd, silent, cunning, and plausible, he had avoided open collision with the uncle of the King; he had been employed on the northern Border, where he had done his own work skilfully; and if he had opposed Somerset's imprudent schemes, he had submitted, like the rest, as long as submission was possible. He had the art of gaining influence by affecting to disclaim a desire for it; and in his letters, of which many remain in the State Paper Office, there is a tone of studied moderation, a seeming disinterestedness, a thoughtful anxiety for others. With something of the reality, something of the affectation of high qualities, with great personal courage, and a coolness which never allowed him to be off his guard, he had a character well fitted to impose on others, because, first of all, it is likely that he had imposed upon himself.
The news of the change in his destination, and of the causes of it, reached him about the 10th of August at Warwick. He wrote immediately to Cecil to entreat that Northampton might remain in the chief command. 'Lord Northampton,' he said, 'by misfortune hath received discomfort enough, and haply this might give him occasion to think himself utterly discredited, and so for ever discourage him. I shall be as glad, for my part, to join with him, yea, and with all my heart to serve under him, as I would be to have the whole authority myself. I would wish that no man, for one mischance or evil hap, to which all be subject, should be utterly abject.' Without waiting for an answer, and leaving the Germans' to follow, he hastened to Cambridge, whither Northampton had retired, taking with him his sons Lord Ambrose and Lord Robert, Sir Thomas Palmer, Sir Marmaduke Constable, and a few other gentlemen. Rallying the remains of Northampton's force, he made at once for Norfolk. He reached Wymondham on the 22nd of August; Aug. 23.on the 23rd he was before the gates of Norwich; and for the third time Norroy Herald carried in the offer of a free pardon, with an intimation that it was made for the last time.
Ket had at length learnt some degree of prudence, and was inclined to be satisfied with his success. He allowed the herald to read the proclamation in all parts of the town and camp, he himself standing at his side; and he had made up his mind to return with him and have an interview with Warwick, when an unlucky urchin who was present flung himself into an English attitude of impertinence, 'with words as unseemly as his gesture was filthy.' Some one, perhaps a servant of the herald, levelled his harquebuse, and shot 'that ungracious boy through the body.' A cut with a whip might have been endured or approved; at the needless murder shouts arose on all sides of treachery. In vain Ket attempted to appease the exasperation. He could not pacify the people, and he would not leave them. The herald retired from the city alone, and the chance of a bloodless termination of the rising was at an end.
The rebels, after the second capture of Norwich, had retained possession of it. Warwick instantly advanced. The gates were blown open, and he forced his way into the market-place, where sixty men, who were taken prisoners, were hanged on the spot. The insurgents, however, on their side, were not idle. A number of them, making the circuit of the walls, intercepted the ammunition waggons in the rear, and carried them off to Mousehold. The cannon were in front, and were placed at the north gate; but, with little or no powder, they were almost useless; and another party of the insurgents, with picked marksmen among them, charged up to the batteries, swept them clear of men by a wellaimed shot from a culverin, and carried off the guns in triumph.
August 24.Another storm of the city now seemed imminent. The force that Warwick had with him was the same which had been already defeated; a panic spread among them, and Warwick was urged to abandon the town—to retreat, and wait for reinforcements. But he knew that two days, at the furthest, would now bring them, and he would take the chances of the interval. Death, he said, was better than dishonour. He would not leave Norwich till he had either put down the rebellion or lost his life. But so imminent appeared the peril at that moment, that he and the other knights and gentlemen drew their swords and kissed each other's blades, 'according to ancient custom used among men of war in times of great danger.'
Happily for Warwick, the rebels did not instantly follow up their success, and in losing the moment they lost all. On the 25th the Germans came up, and he was safe. The next morning, by a side movement, he cut off the camp from their provisions. They were left 'with but water to drink, and fain to eat their meat without bread;' August 27.and on the 27th the whole body, perhaps 15,000 strong, broke up from Mousehold, set fire to their cabins, and, covered by the smoke, came down from their high ground into Duffindale. They had made up their minds to fight a decisive action, and they chose a ground where all advantages of irregular levies against regular troops were lost.
On the morning of the 27th they were drawn up in open fields where Warwick could attack at his pleasure. Before the first shot was fired he sent Sir Thomas Palmer forward, not now to offer a general pardon, for he saw that success was in his hand, but excepting only one or two persons. The message was received with a shout of refusal. The rebels opened the action with a round from their cannon which struck down the royal standard; but never for a moment had they a chance of victory; the sustained fire of the Lanzknechts threw their dense and unorganized masses into rapid confusion. As they wavered, Warwick's horse were in the midst of them, and the fields were covered instantly with a scattered and flying crowd. Ket rode for his life, and for the time escaped; the rest fulfilled the misleading prophecy, and for three miles strewed Duffindale with their bodies: 3500 were cut down; one rarely hears of 'wounded,' on these occasions, except among the victors. A few only stood their ground; and, seeing that flight was death, and that death was the worst they had to fear, determined to sell their lives dearly. They made a barricade of carts and waggons, and with some heavy guns in the midst of them, prepared to fight to the last. Warwick respected their courage, and offered them a pardon. They had an impression he had brought down a barrel full of ropes and halters, and that they were to be made over to the mercies of the gentlemen. They said they would submit if their lives were really to be spared; but they would 'rather die like men than be strangled at the pleasure of their enemies.' Warwick declined to parley. He brought up the Germans with levelled matchlocks, and they threw down their arms and surrendered. In this last party were some of the ringleaders of the movement. He was urged to make an example of them; but he insisted that he must keep his promise. Either from policy or from good feeling he was disinclined to severity. 'Pitying their case,' he said, 'that measure must be used in all things;' and when the fighting was over, the executions, considering the times and the provocation, were not numerous. Ket and his brother William were soon after taken and sent to London to be examined by the council. A gunner, two of the prophets, and six more were hanged on the Oak of Reformation; and from Sir Anthony Aucher's letter, it appears that there were other prisoners whom the Protector released. In the autumn (but not till the change, which I shall presently describe, had taken place in the Government) the Kets were returned to their own county for punishment. Robert was hung in chains on Norwich Castle; William on the church tower at Wymondham. So ended the Norfolk rebellion, remarkable among other things for the order which was observed among the people during the seven weeks of lawlessness.
The rising in Yorkshire was at an end also, having from the first been of a less serious kind. There, too, a prophecy had gone abroad 'That there should no king reign in England; that the noblemen and gentlemen should be destroyed; the realm to be ruled by four governors, to be elected by the commons holding a Parliament; the commotion to begin at the south and the north seas.'
The south having risen, the north followed. At one time as many as three thousand men were in arms, and three or four gentlemen were murdered. But the force of the county was able and willing to keep the peace. The rioters were put down, and the leaders disposed of.
Thus with cost and difficulty internal peace was restored. But a success which involved the destruction of ten thousand brave Englishmen by the arms of foreigners, added little either to the credit or the popularity of the Government, while it had consumed the whole sum which had been voted by Parliament beyond the private advances of the council, and an unknown sum which was extracted in the course of the summer from the mint. Abroad it was even more difficult to repair the consequences of Somerset's mistakes.
It has been mentioned that, at the beginning of the summer, Paget was sent to Flanders to make proposals to the Emperor for an alliance against France. Had the Protector been content to do one thing at a time—had he forborne from throwing England into confusion by precipitate changes in religion, it was probable that he might have succeeded, and France might have been forced to leave Boulogne, and restore the Queen of FALL OF THE PROTECTOR.
Scots. In Germany the Interim was not making progress. Duke Maurice, on whom Charles most depended, was encouraging his subjects in resistance; while the Catholics were equally unmanageable, threatening excommunication, tyrannizing wherever they were strong enough, and clamouring to Charles to withdraw the few concessions which he had made. In Italy the Pope, supported by France, still maintained the seceders to Bologna. Cardinal del Monte declared, and the French ambassadors echoed, that two-thirds of a council, with the consent of the Papal legate, might assuredly alter their place of session. If the Emperor was to dictate on a point of form, he would dictate next on a point of doctrine. The Pope took the same view. The Spanish bishops were remaining patiently at Trent. Paul imperiously commanded them to relinquish their schismatic and disobedient attitude, and rejoin their brethren.
But the Spanish bishops obeyed a stronger master. They received the message with becoming reverence. They regretted that they were obliged to entreat his Holiness to accept their excuses. His Holiness's summons to the council had invited them not to Bologna, but to Trent, as the spot the most opportune, on many grounds, for the settlement of religion. They were waiting, and would wait with meekness, till their brethren should return to them. The Pope was obstinate. The bishops were obstinate. Paul now desired to have the council at Rome, and the sittings at Bologna came to an end; 'but the evil-omened phantom at Trent continued to draw to it the timid and anxious eyes of Christendom, like a fiery portent in the sky.' Political complications, at the same time, combined more and more to unite the French and Papal interests against the Imperial. Gonzaga continued to hold Piacenza. Octavio Farnese, Duke of Parma, and son-inlaw of the Emperor, in the hope, perhaps, of recovering his patrimony, was falling off from the Pope, who was his grandfather, and attaching his fortunes to Charles. The Pope, indignant at his disobedience, himself sent troops into Parma, and took possession of it. Farnese failing in an attempt to drive them out, applied to Gonzaga. Gonzaga told him that Parma should be his if he would hold it as a fief of the Empire, and Farnese inclined to consent.
The occupation of the duchy by an Imperial force would be accepted by France, it was well known, as a declaration of war. The Emperor had made up his mind, therefore, to accept the quarrel, and the advances of England were likely to be heard with favour. Paget was instructed to 'decypher the Emperour,' make out his intentions, and do his best to help the war forward. The almost forgotten proposal to give him Mary for a wife might be renewed; or else Mary, if he preferred it, might marry the Prince of Portugal, and in either case Boulogne might be made over with her as a marriage portion. At any rate, Boulogne might be comprehended as part of the English dominions in the treaty already existing, which bound England and the Emperor mutually to assist each other in case of invasion.
July.At the outset of his embassy, Paget reported favourable progress. The Emperor, he said, must very soon be driven to war, and, for a corresponding advantage, might consent to take charge of Boulogne. In fact, he was sanguine of obtaining Charles's support on favourable terms when the insurrection in England began. Then at once all was changed. The Emperor, who, under no circumstances, would have connected himself with the English Government except for immediate convenience, saw at once that he would gain no strength by the alliance, and would only embarrass himself. In vain Paget was directed to make the least of the disturbances. In vain he was told to affect indifference about Boulogne, and to hint that it might be convenient to relinquish it August. to France. So accomplished a diplomatist as Paget could only despise the tricks which he was ordered to practice; and the Emperor, too well informed of the state of England to be the dupe of a shallow artifice, broke off the negotiations abruptly.
August.After so grave a failure, the step which prudence would have dictated would have been to do, in fact, what Paget had been told insincerely to suggest; that is, to come to terms with France, and give up Boulogne. Three years were already gone of the eight for which England was to keep it, and France would have acquiesced in some moderately favourable arrangement with respect to the debts for which it was held as security. If the Protector could not bring himself to part with it before the time, then, at least, he was bound to take care that it was adequately garrisoned. But he had allowed France to see that he considered himself as little bound to the letter of the treaty as themselves. Contrary to express stipulations, he had raised new forts outside the town, as well as at the mouth of the harbour. The neglect of engagements by the Court of Paris may reasonably have exempted the English from the strict observance of them; but when the Protector had built his forts, he left them half-garrisoned and half-supplied, and to the repeated entreaties of the commanders he had returned only petulant and angry refusals. Although warned of the intentions of the French Government, he left events to their natural course of disaster, and he had now to face the consequences of his complicated errors.
On the 20th of July the English ambassador had an interview with Henry to suggest the appointment of commissioners to settle disputes. 'The French King at that time did not only assent to the naming of the said commissioners, but further said he would continue his amity and friendship with the King's Majesty;' and as for war, he said, 'par la foye de gentilhomme [on the honour of a gentleman], I will make none, but I will first give my good brother warning by word of mouth.' Within a day or two of that interview, the resolution was taken to use the opportunity of the English rebellions. French troops at the very time were driving cattle on the Boulogne frontier, and on threat of reprisals, answered scornfully that 'for every bullock or sheep taken, wheresoever it was, they would take again of Englishmen twenty; and that for every man slain they would slay forty'—'an answer,' the English council exclaimed, 'of a tyrant or Turk, and not of a Christian prince.' A fleet suddenly left the Seine at the beginning of August, and made a dash at Guernsey and Jersey. According to the French accounts, they were merely in pursuit of English privateers, which they encountered and half destroyed; according to the English, they intended to surprise the islands, and met a serious defeat there. Following up his first blow, Henry informed the ambassadors that he intended to be his own commissioner. He went down to Mottreul, where troops had been silently collected, and passed in person into the Boulonnaise. Besides Boulogne proper, the English had now five detached works in the adjoining district; one at Bullenberg, on the hill at the back of the town; another at Ambletue, where there was a tidal harbour; a third called Newhaven, at the mouth of the Boulogne river; a fourth, Blackness, a little inland; and the fifth and most important, on the high ground between Boulogne and Ambletue, called the Almain camp. This last was the key to the other four. The governor and the captain of the artillery had been bribed, and on Henry's summons, surrendered on the spot. Ambletue, Newhaven, and Blackness fell one after the other in rapid succession. Bullenberg was thought by its commander, Sir Henry Palmer, to be untenable when the rest were gone. He applied to the Governor of Boulogne, Lord Clinton, for leave to abandon it, and with Clinton's consent levelled the walls, blew up the castle, and withdrew with his men and guns into the town; while Henry approached at leisure to Boulogne itself, to revenge, as was supposed, by an immediate assault, his night defeat when Dauphin, by Lord Poynings. By this time, however, the season was growing late; the garrison was strengthened by the troops brought in from Bullenberg, and the vast batteries raised by Henry VIII. would perhaps enable Clinton to protract his defence into the winter. The capture of the forts gave the French the command of the country. No supplies of any kind could be introduced from England unless escorted by ships of war; and contenting himself with leaving galleys in Ambletue, and garrisons on all sides, which made the blockade complete, the French King withdrew for a few months, well assured that, with the approaching spring, Boulogne must inevitably be his. Bullenberg cut the garrison off from the Boulonnaise. Their cattle were gone. They had neither wood nor turf for fuel, nor means of obtaining it. The entire population of the town depended on England for its daily supplies, which the Ambletue galleys were ever on the watch to seize. The English council could not disguise September. from themselves the nature of the situation. On their part they could only reply with a formal declaration of war. Their spirit had not sunk to a tacit endurance of invasion under the name of peace; they recalled their ambassadors; and, for 'their late manifold injuries, and also for that, contrary to honour, faith, and godliness, the French King had taken away the young Scottish Queen, the King's Majesty's espouse, by which marriage the realms of England and Scotland should have been united in perpetual peace,' 'they did intimate and declare him and all his subjects to be enemies of the King's Majesty of England.'
Such was the result of an administration of something less than three years by the Duke of Somerset. He had found the country at peace, recruiting itself after a long and exhausting war. The struggle which he had reopened had cost, with the commotions of the summer, almost a million and a half, when the regular revenue was but 300,000l., and of that sum a third was wasted on the expenses of the household. The confiscated church lands, intended to have been sold for public purposes, had been made away with, and the exchequer had been supplied by loans at interest of thirteen and fourteen per cent., and by a steadily maintained drain upon the currency. In return for the outlay, the Protector had to show Scotland utterly lost, the Imperial alliance trifled away, the people at home mutinous, a rebellion extinguished by foreign mercenaries in which ten thousand lives had been lost, the French conquests held by Henry VIII. as a guarantee for a repudiated debt on the point of being wrested from his hands, and of the two million crowns due for them, but a small fraction likely now to be forthcoming; finally, formal war, with its coming obligations and uncertainties.
The blame was not wholly his. The Protector's power was probably less than it seemed to be, and the ill-will and perhaps the rival schemes of others may have thwarted projects in themselves feasible. Yet it may be doubted whether, if he had been wholly free to pursue his own way, his blunders would not have been even more considerable; and by contemporary statesmen delicate allowances were not likely to be made for a ruler who had grasped at an authority which had not been intended for him, and had obtained it under conditions which he had violated. His intentions had been good, but there were so many of them, that he was betrayed by their very number. He was popular with the multitude, for he was the defender of the poor against the rich; but the magnificent weakness of his character had aimed at achievements beyond his ability. He had attempted the work of a giant with the strength of a woman, and in his failures he was passionate and unmanageable; while the princely name and the princely splendour which he affected, the vast fortune which he had amassed amidst the ruin of the national finances, and the palace which was rising before the eyes of the world amidst the national defeats and misfortunes, combined to embitter the irritation with which the council regarded him.
In the presence, therefore, of the fruits of Somerset's bad management, it is idle to look for the causes of his deposition from power in private intrigue or personal ambition. Both intrigue and ambition there may have been; but, assuredly, the remaining executors of the will of Henry VIII. would have been as negligent as Somerset was incapable, if they had allowed the interests of the nation to remain any longer in his hands. He had been sworn to act in no matter of importance without their advice and consent; he had acted alone—he had not sought their advice, and he would not listen to their remonstrances, and the consequences were before them. Warwick, Southampton, Russell, Herbert, St John, Arundel, Paget, might possibly govern no better, but they had not failed as yet, and Somerset had failed. Their advice, if taken in time, would have saved Boulogne and perhaps prevented the rebellion; and whether others were fit or unfit, the existing state of England was a fatal testimony of the incapacity of the Protector. The council therefore resolved to interfere. The motives which determined them they expressed for themselves in a memorandum which they thought well to lay before the Emperor.
October.'The late King,' they said, 'did constitute and appoint sixteen of his Highness's councillors, whom he especially trusted, his executors, and willed that those sixteen, using the advice of certain others appointed to assist them, should not only have the government of the King's Majesty's person during his tender years, but also the rule of the whole realm and the managing of all his Majesty's weighty affairs during the same time; which will, after the death of our said late master, was accepted and sworn unto by all the executors. The Duke of Somerset nevertheless, then Earl of Hertford, not contented with the place of Councillor whereunto he was called, sought by all the ways and means he could devise to rule, and in the end, for that he was one of the executors, uncle also to the King's Majesty by the mother's side, by much labour and such other means as he used, obtained to have the highest place in council, and to have the title and name of Governor of his Majesty's most royal person and Protector of his Highness's realm and dominions—with this condition notwithstanding, that he should do nothing touching the state of the affairs of his Highness without the advice of the rest of the council or the more part of them, which to perform he faithfully promised and swore in open council. And yet nevertheless he had been never so little while in that room, but, contrary to his said promise, he began to do things of most weight and importance, yea, all things in effect, by himself, without calling any of the council thereunto. And if for manners' sake he called any man, all was one, for he would order the matter as pleased himself, refusing to hear any man's reason but his own; and in short time became so haught and arrogant, that he sticked not in open council to taunt such of us as frankly spake their opinions in matters, so far beyond the limits of reason as is not to be declared. Which thing perceived, we did both all together openly, and every one of us or the more part of us apart, oftentimes gently exhort him to remember his promise; but all hath not prevailed. The success of his government hath been such as there is no true-hearted Englishmen that lamenteth not in his heart that ever he bare rule in the realm. As we have devised with him for the preservation of his Majesty's person and honour, so hath he, by continuing in his wilfulness and insolency, wrought the contrary, setting forth such proclamations and devices as whereby the commons of the realm have grown to such a liberty and boldness that they sticked not to rebel and rise in sundry places of the realm in great numbers, with such uproars and tumults, as not only the King's Majesty was in great danger, but also the realm brought to great trouble and hindrance: of which tumults, as the said Duke was indeed the very original and beginning, so did he mind to use the like again, entertaining the most notablest captains and chiefest ringleaders of the said commotions with great gifts and rewards, and some also with annual livings,—leaving in the mean time the King's Majesty's poor soldiers unpaid, and his Highness's pieces so unfurnished of men, munition, and money, as thereby hath not only ensued the loss of some of them already, but also Boulogne by that means, and the members about, remaineth at this present in very great danger.
'As for his government at home in other affairs, it hath been too ill to rehearse, for there fell no office of the King's Majesty's, but either he sold it for money, or else he bestowed the same upon one of his own servants, or else upon some other such as were of his faction, displacing sundry honest and grave ministers and officers of his Majesty's, putting in others such as he liked in their rooms; and, finally, so perverted the whole state of the realm as the laws and justice could have no place, being all matters ordered and ended by letters and commissions from himself contrary to our laws and against all order. And albeit by his occasion these troubles among us have been great, yet ceased he not in the midst of trouble and misery to build for himself in four or five places most sumptuously without any respect or regard in the world, in such sort that, at length, when we saw that counsel could not prevail, and that his pride grew so fast, we thought we could suffer no longer, unless we would in effect consent with him in his naughty doings.'
If allowance be made for passionate colouring and the tendency inevitable at such a time to visit on the leaders of a party the misdoings of dependents, this statement must be accepted as a not unfair account of the truth. Too honourable himself to stoop to corruption, the Duke of Somerset was profuse in his habits, and not too curious, probably, as to the conduct of the profligate adventurers who surrounded and flattered him, and in supplying his necessities took tenfold advantage to themselves.
At first the council had no intention of using violence. They intended to remonstrate in resolute language, 'and if they could by any means have brought him to reason, to avoid trouble and slander.' It was the first week in October—Somerset was at Hampton Court with the King, having with him Cranmer, Paget, Cecil, Petre, Sir Thomas Smith, and Sir John Thynne. Lord Russell and Sir William Herbert were still in the west with the army. In London, of the original executors, were Warwick, St John, Southampton, Sir Edward North, and the two Wottons; with them were Rich, Lord Chancellor, Sir Richard Southwell, Sir Edward Peckham, and Lord Arundel: members all of them of the council, which had been also appointed by the will of the late King.
The lords in London, as Warwick and the rest were called, had dined twice together for a private conference, when the Protector learnt from some quarter that there was a design of interfering with him, and, with injudicious irritation, he resolved to treat them as traitors. The young King was persuaded that there was a conspiracy, nominally against the Protector, but really against himself. A paper was written, printed, and scattered about the streets of London, in which the privy council was described as 'but late from the dunghill,' 'a sort of them more meet to keep swine than to occupy the offices which they do occupy,' conspiring to the impoverishing and undoing of all the commons in the realm;' 'they had murdered the King's subjects,' and fearing that the Protector would compel a redress of the injuries under which the people suffered, had conspired to kill him first and then the King, and 'to plant again the doctrine of the devil and Antichrist of Home.' Somerset himself sent his son Lord Edward Seymour with letters in the October 5.King's name to Russell and Herbert, entreating them to come to the rescue of the Crown from a conspiracy of villains with all the force which they could raise. Inflammatory handbills were dispersed through the adjoining towns and villages calling on the peasantry to take arms for the Protector—the people's friend; a commission was issued under the King's seal requiring all liege subjects to rise, 'and repair with harness and weapons to Hampton Court to defend the Crown.' The corporation of London were commanded to arm and despatch a thousand men, and in a private letter Somerset ordered the lieutenant of the Tower to admit no member of the council within the gates.
These extraordinary measures were all taken in the first few days in October, before the lords had proceeded to any open act even of remonstrance. Sunday,
October 6.On the morning of the 6th, when the handbills, letters, and commissions were already sent out, the council, knowing nothing of any of them, met at Ely-place in Holborn, and after a final reconsideration of the state of the country, were mounting their horses to go to Hampton Court 'in a friendly manner, with their ordinary servants' only, when Petre and some other gentlemen rode up to the gates to inquire, in the Protector's name, for what purpose they were breaking the peace of the country, and to warn them that, if they went to the Court, they would be arrested as traitors. The same morning five hundred of the Duke's men had been furnished with harness from the royal armoury, besides the usual guard, and the palace gates were barricaded.
Petre, soon satisfied that the Protector was wrong and the lords were right, did not return, but remained and joined them. The rupture was made known to the world the same day by the issue of the Duke's commission; and Shrewsbury, Sussex, Wentworth, Mr Justice Montague, and Sir Ralph Sadler, who were in London, took their places by the side of the council in support of the remonstrance. The Lord Mayor was summoned, and charged on his allegiance to send no men to Hampton Court. Circulars were despatched into the neighbouring counties, explaining the real circumstances, and charging the magistrates to keep the peace. The lieutenant of the Tower was required to surrender his charge, and complied without resistance. So passed the day in London.
At Hampton Court the Protector waited anxiously for his messenger. His proclamation had brought together a vast crowd of people, but as much, it seemed, from curiosity, as from any warmer feeling towards himself. The outer quadrangle was thronged with armed men, and as evening fell, by the glare of torchlight, Edward was brought down across the court and made to say to them—'Good people, I pray you be good to us and to our uncle.' The Protector himself then addressed them wildly, passionately, hysterically. 'He would not fall alone,' he said. 'If he was destroyed, the King would be destroyed kingdom, commonwealth, all would perish together.' The people listened, but he failed to rouse them to enthusiasm chiefly, perhaps, because he was saying what was not true. His words fell dead; men might feel for him, but they would not rise into insurrection for him. Petre, meanwhile, did not come back, and friends brought in disheartening news from London. After measures so rash as those which he had ventured, Hampton Court seemed dangerous; and at once, in the darkness, he called to horse, to be off in the dead of the night to Windsor. Edward was suffering from a cough, but there was no remedy, he must follow his uncle; and there was haste and scurry, armour clanking, servants rushing to and fro, the flashing of lights, and the tramp of horses; in the midst of the confusion, the Duchess of Somerset, fearing how matters might go, gathered up her jewels, and with some few clothes violently crammed together, escaped across the garden to a barge, and dropped down the stream to Kew.
The Court reached Windsor before dawn in the autumn morning. The castle was unprovided with ordinary necessaries, and the King's weak chest suffered heavily from the wild careless ride. The Archbishop, who would not leave Edward, was with the party; and Paget, the truest friend that Somerset had, who had so often warned him in vain, remained now at his side, to watch over him and prevent his rashness from compromising him fatally.
October 7.The council, hearing in the morning of this last unadvised movement, despatched waggons to the castle with supplies of food and furniture, and at the same time wrote to the King to say that they had received Sir William Petre's message, that they were sorry he should doubt their fidelity, and that their only desire was for an improvement in the administration. They had endeavoured again and again by gentle means to check the extravagances of the Duke of Somerset; and their supposed conspiracy was no more than a resolution to discharge the duty which his father's will had laid upon them, and to remonstrate more effectually. By the same messenger they sent a letter to Paget and Cranmer, protesting against the attitude which the Protector had assumed towards them, as likely to lead to dangerous consequences. They had intended nothing but to give advice, and, if necessary, to press their advice; and if he would now dismiss the force which he had called out, they were prepared to settle their differences with him quietly. Both Sir William Paget and the Archbishop, however, must be aware of the danger of the course on which the Protector seemed to have entered, and they desired them as they valued their duties, to use their influence for the safety of the commonwealth. At the same time they sent a courier to Herbert and Russell with explanations, and took fresh steps to prevent Somerset's proclamation for raising the country from taking effect.
The yeomen of the guard were marched to Windsor, 'the lords fearing the rage of the people, so little quieted;' and the Protector had nothing to fear, could he bring himself to relinquish the power which he had misused. The distracted state of mind into which he had fallen is curiously indicated in the letters and manifestoes which he continued to issue, and which are full of erasures, corrections, and after-thoughts. Possibly he might have acted more wisely, could he but have shaken off the ill-omened crew whose fortunes would change with his own. Letters between himself and the lords crossed and recrossed on the road. On the same 7th of October, before the letter of the council to the King was brought in, the Duke had written to them a second time, apparently wavering. If they chose to press matters against him to extremity, he said he was prepared to encounter them. If they could agree to reasonable conditions, and intended no injury to the King, he would make no more difficulties. In the evening the messenger came in from London; and the next October 8. morning, October 8, Sir Philip Hoby, who had come to Windsor, returned with the King's answer, dictated probably by Somerset, a private letter of Somerset himself to Warwick, and another to the council from Paget and Cranmer.
The first was moderate, apologetic, and intercessory. It admitted that the Protector had been indiscreet, but all men had faults, and faults could be forgiven. Sir Philip Hoby would explain what could not be so readily written; but in mean time a list of articles was enclosed, which Somerset had signed, containing a declaration that he had not intended, and did not intend, any hurt to the lords; that if any two of them would come to Windsor, and state their wishes to two other noblemen to be named by the King, he would submit to any terms which, after discussion, should be resolved upon, whatever those might be. In the letter to Warwick the Duke declared before God that he had meant no harm to him; nor could he believe that Warwick had desired to injure himself. They had been old friends, and he appealed to his heart to remember it. Paget and the Archbishop wrote in the same tone. They evidently felt that the Protector had added seriously to the danger of his position by his appeal to the commons. He was willing, they said, to resign his office, but he could not place himself in the councils' hands unconditionally. Life was sweet, and they must not press him too hard. Finally, Sir Thomas Smith added another letter to Petre. The Protector had yielded to the persuasion of his friends, and would refuse no reasonable terms. He would relinquish office, dignity, everj'thing they might require. He only begged for his life. Such an offer ought not to be rejected, 'nor the realm be made in one year a double tragedy and a lamentable spoil, and a scorning stock of the world.'
When the Protector was one day inviting the nation to take arms for him, and the next was begging for his life, the causes of his alternate moods cannot be accurately traced. On the 8th of October, before Hoby's arrival, a meeting had been held at the Guildhall, where the lords a second time explained their conduct. They assured the City that they had no thought of undoing the Reformation, or of altering the order of religion as now established. The next point of importance was the answer from Herbert and Russell, who had command of the army.
On learning from Lord Edward Seymour that the King's person was in danger, the generals had pushed forward by forced marches to Andover. There, however, letters reached them from the council; and the real danger to be feared was not, as they found, from a conspiracy of the lords, but from a fresh insurrection of the commons on the invitation of Somerset. They halted, sent back to Bristol for cannon, called about them the gentlemen of Hampshire and Wiltshire, and charged them on their lives to put down all assemblies of the people. The proclamations were telling in all directions. 'The country was in such a roar that no man wist what to do.' Barely in time to prevent a general rising, they fell back on Wilton, where the peril was most threatening, and sent Lord Edward again to his father with the following answer:—
Please It Your Grace,
We have received your letter not without great lamentation and sorrow, to perceive the civil dissension which has happened between your Grace and the nobility. A greater plague could not be sent into this realm from God, being the next way to make us of conquerors slaves, and to induce upon us an universal calamity and thraldom, which we pray God so to hold his holy hand over us as we may never see it. And for answer this is to signify that so long as we thought that the nobility presently assembled had conspired against the King's Majesty's person, so long we came forward with such company as we have for the surety of his Highness as appertaineth. And now having this day received advertisement from the lords, whereby it is given us to understand that no hurt or displeasure is meant towards the King's Majesty, and as it doth plainly appear unto us that they are his Highness's most true and loving subjects, meaning no otherwise than as to their duties of allegiance may appertain; so in conclusion it doth also appear unto us that this great extremity proceedeth only upon private causes between your Grace and them. We have, therefore, thought most convenient, in the heat of this broil, to levy as great a power as we may, as well for the surety of the King's Majesty's person, as also for the preservation of the state of the realm; which, whilst this contention endureth by faction between your Grace and them, may be in much peril and danger.
We are out of doubt, the devil hath not so enchanted nor abused their wits as they would consent to anything prejudicial and hurtful to the King's most noble person, upon whose surety and preservation, as they well know, the state of the realm doth only depend; and having consideration of their honour, discretions, and continued truth unto the Crown, we believe the same so assuredly as no other argument may dissuade us from the contrary. And for our own parts we trust your Grace doubteth not but that as we have, and will, and must have a special regard and consideration of our duties of allegiance unto the King's Majesty, so shall we not be negligent to do our parts like faithful subjects, for the surety of his Highness accordingly, beseeching your Grace that his Majesty in anywise be put in no fear; and that your Grace would so conform yourself as these private causes redound not to an universal displeasure of the whole realm.
Would God all means were used rather than any blood be shed; which, if it be once attempted, and the case brought to that misery that the hands of the nobility be once polluted with each other's blood, the quarrel once begun will never have an end till the realm be descended to that woeful calamity that all our posterity shall lament the chance. Your Grace's proclamations and billets sent abroad for the raising of the commons we mislike very much. The wicked and evil-disposed persons shall stir as well as the faithful subjects; and we and those other gentlemen who have served, and others of worship in these counties where the same have been published, do incur by these means much infamy, slander, and discredit. Thus we end, beseeching Almighty God the matter be so used as no effusion. of blood may follow, and therewithal may be a surety of the King's Majesty and of the state of the realm.
Somerset had shown ability as a general, and his courage in the field was unimpeachable; but in social and political life his tendency was ever to confound the imaginary and the real; to be extreme alike in his hopes and fears, and to govern himself rather by momentary emotion than by serious thought. He was like a woman in noble enthusiasms—like a woman in passionate sensibility: but he had the infirmity both of men and women whom fortune has spoilt; he could endure no disappointment, and a molehill in his path became a mountain. Thus an amicable intention of remonstrance he had construed into a conspiracy against the King—thus he believed that the council desired to murder him—thus, when his appeal to the country was likely to fail, he sunk into the extreme of despondency and submission; and now, when his son returned with the letter from the army, which, after his resolution to resign, need not have affected him, he fell again into a hysterical panic. Nothing so keenly irritates nervous excitement as the cold language of truth, and in the emphatic condemnation of his conduct, which he must have known to be just, he saw again gleaming before him the axe of the executioner. October 9.On the Wednesday morning the council heard from Windsor that the yeomen of the guard had been, removed or disarmed; that the castle was held only by the Protector's servants in the royal uniform; that in 'a great presence' Somerset had declared that, 'if the lords intended his death, the King's Majesty should die before him, and if they intended to famish him, they should also famish his Majesty.' The belief at the Court was that he meditated a second flight, and intended to carry the King to Wales, to Jersey, or to the Continent.
If, in his present humour, he attempted any such enterprise, his flight through the country with the King in his company would rekindle a universal conflagration. Sir Philip Hoby was sent back with an answer from the council to Edward. They repeated their assurances that they were acting only for the public good. They protested that they were not under the influence of personal jealousies. The Duke of Somerset, with the worst possible consequences to the country, had broken the engagement to which he had bound himself. They could not make conditions with him or appoint commissioners to treat with commissioners. He must disarm his followers, and consent to share with them the common position of a subject, as the late King had intended.
October 10.To Cranmer and Paget the council wrote more imperiously. They were surprised, they said, and in the highest degree displeased, at the removal of the royal guard. They charged the Archbishop, as he valued his duty to God and the country, to keep the King at Windsor, or he should answer for it at his uttermost peril. They had themselves stated to his Majesty the conditions to which the Protector must submit. There was no reason to fear that there would be any cruelty or needless severity. 'They minded to do none otherwise than they would be done unto, and that with as much moderation and favour as they honourably might.' Finally, they desired every one at Windsor to attend to the message which would be delivered by Sir Philip Hoby, and which Hoby read aloud to the Duke, to whom with the rest it was addressed, in the presence of the Court.
'My lord, and my lords and masters of the council,' the message ran, 'my lords of the council have perused your letters, and perceived the King's Majesty's requests and yours, and have willed me to declare unto you again, that they do marvel much why you do so write unto them, as though they were the most cruel men in the world, and as though they sought nothing but blood and extremity. They say of their honour they do mean nothing less; and they bade me declare unto you from them, that, of their faith and honour, they do not intend, nor will hurt in any case the person of my lord the Duke, nor none of you all, nor take away any of his lands or goods, whom they do esteem and tender, as well as any of you, as they ought. They are not ignorant, no more than you, that he is the King's uncle. They do intend to preserve his honour as much as any of you would, nor mean not, nor purpose not, no manner hurt to him; but only to give order for the Protectorship, which hath not been so well ordered as they think it should have been; and to see that the King be better answered of his things, and the realm better governed for the King's Majesty. And for you, my lords and masters of the council, they will have you to keep your rooms and places as you did before, and they will counsel with you for the better government of things.'
Then, turning to the Duke, Hoby went on, 'My lord, be not you afraid; I will lose this,' and he pointed to his neck, 'if you have any hurt; there is no such thing meant; and so they would have me tell you, and mark you well what I say.'
He then desired that the letter to the King and the other letters might be read, that there might be no room for suspicion; and when this was done, 'all thanked God and prayed for the lords;' Paget fell on his knees at the Duke's feet; 'Oh, my lord,' he said, in tears, 'you see now what my lords be.'
The Protector seems to have still hesitated. The same day the council sat at the house of Lord St John, when it was intimated that Paget and the Archbishop had succeeded in restoring the yeomen of the guard. A hint had been sent by the former that it would be well if the Duke was placed under restraint, the kindest thing which could be done for him. Sir Anthony Wingfield and Sir Anthony St Leger were charged with the council's thanks, to act on the hint if possible, and, at all events, to see that the Duke did not leave the castle before their own arrival. Sir Thomas Smith, Sir Michael Stanhope, Sir John Thynne, Edward Wolf, and Cecil were to be confined to their rooms.
Oct. 12.On Saturday, the lords went down in person. The King made no difficulty in receiving them. His objections, had he made objections, would have gone for little; but he seems at no time to have felt strong personal attachment to his uncle. Sir Thomas Smith was expelled from the council, and with Stanhope, Thynne, and Wolf, 'the principal instruments that the Duke did use in the affairs of his ill government,' was sent to the Tower, where the Duke followed them on the ensuing Monday.
So ended the Protectorate. The November session of Parliament was approaching. The interval was spent in examining the public accounts, and remedying the more immediate and pressing disorders of the administration. On the 18th of October, 'the lords receiving daily advertisements, as well from the Borders against Scotland, as from Boulogne, Calais, Ireland, Scilly, Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and the Wight, of the misery that the poor soldiers were in for lack of payment of their wages; and besides, of an universal want, grown in the time of the late Protector—who, being continually called upon by the council for redress thereof, would not give place thereunto—of victual, armour, ordnance, and of all kinds of munition and furniture, did immediately give order for the supply thereof to all those places aforesaid.'
The debts due to the Crown, and the more considerable debts due by the Crown, were inspected, with the disposition of the chantry lands, and of the other properties of all kinds which had passed through Somerset's hands: it seemed as if at once a new leaf was to be turned over, and there was to be again an honest and economical Government. In one direction only there was to be no present reform, and unfortunately in the worst and most especial plague of the commonwealth.
It has been mentioned that the Lords of the Council themselves provided funds for the suppression of the rebellion. They held themselves entitled to repayment, and there are no longer means of testing the justice of their claims; but it is easier to give an opinion of the means by which those claims were satisfied. On the 28th of October a warrant was addressed to the Master of the Mint, setting forth that whereas the well-beloved Councillor Sir William Herbert, in suppression of the rebels, had not only spent the great part of his plate and substance, but also had borrowed for the same purpose great sums of money, for which he remained indebted—the officers of the mint might receive at his hands two thousand pounds weight in bullion in fine silver—the said bullion to be coined and printed into money current according to the established standard—the money so made to be delivered to the said Sir William Herbert, with all such profits as would otherwise have gone to the Crown after deducting the expenses of the coining. The profit to Sir William Herbert, beyond the sum which he would have received as a bullion merchant for the 2000 lb. of silver, was 6709l. 19s.; and immediately afterwards the same privilege was extended to Warwick, Arundel, Southampton, Paget, Dorset, Russell, Northampton, for an equal sum to be raised by similar means. Sir Thomas Wentworth, Lord Wentworth, Sir Thomas Darcy were allowed to coin 2000 lb. between them; Huntingdon, Clinton, and Cobham, 1000 lb. each; and the Duchess of Richmond 500 lb. By this proceeding more than 150,000l. worth of base silver coin was thrown at once into circulation, deranging prices worse than ever, shaking the exchange, driving the gold out of the country, and producing its varied complications of disastrous consequences none the less certainly, because the council could excuse themselves from the straits to which the Protector's extravagances had reduced the public revenues, and because the theories of the financiers concealed from them the mischief which they were creating.
As an account of the extraordinary confusion to which the currency was reduced, by a long course of changes at home and abroad, I give the following address to the Council of Edward VI., from the Harleian MSS. 660. The date is probably 1551.
'Your humble suppliant, Humfrey Holt, pondering the great enormities growing of late unto this realm, by the greediness of a number of merchants, with others, that have sought to call out for their private gainings the best of our moneys here made, and so hath transported the same into foreign realms, to the great decay and abasing of the same, by reason they be of so many divers and sundry standards in fineness, as well of the coins of gold as also of the silver moneys,—in consideration thereof, and to bring the said coins to one perfect and uniform standard, that all such culling might cease, and all men by the same be like benefitted,—I, your humble servant, have thought good to signify unto your honours, not only the rates and valuations of the same, but also which losses the King's Majesty hath and daily doth sustain, if remedy be not provided in that behalf.
'1. The old sovereigns, half-sovereigns, royalls, half-royalls and quarter-royalls, angels and half-angels, being 24 carats fine gold, are better than their current value after the moneys in Flanders, in every pound twenty pence, and in every hundred pounds 8l. 6s. 8d., and in every thousand pounds 83l. 6s. 8d.
'2. The sovereigns, half-sovereigns, angels, half-angels, and quarter-angels, being 23 carats fine gold, are better than the Flanders money, in every pound ten pence, in every hundred pounds 4l. 4s. 6d., in every thousand 42l. 3s. 4d.
'3. The old crowns and half-crowns of the first stamp or coin are better, both in weight and value, than the Flanders moneys, in every pound 6s. 3d., in every hundred pounds 31l. 5s., in every thousand 313l. 10s.
'4. The fourth coin of gold, being sovereigns, half-sovereigns, crowns, half-crowns, being 22 carats fine gold, are better than the current value after the moneys in Flanders, in every pound 3s., in every hundred pounds 15l., in every thousand 150l.
'5. The fifth coins of gold called sovereigns and half-sovereigns, crowns and half-crowns, being 20 carats fine, are better than their current value, in every pound sixteen pence, in every hundred pounds 6l. 13s. 4d., in every thousand 56l. 13s.
'6. The sixth coins or moneys of gold, being sovereigns, half-sovereigns, crowns, half-crowns, called the polled heads, are better than the current value, in every pound four pence, in every hundred pounds 33s. 4d., in every thousand 16l. 13s. 4d.
'7. The seventh, or last moneys of gold, being sovereigns, half-sovereigns, crowns and half-crowns, are better than their current value, in every pound two pence, in every hundred 16s. 8d., in every thousand 8l. 6s. 8d.
'Item. Our new sterling money of silver, holding eleven oz. of fine silver, is better than their sterling money in Flanders, in every pound nineteen pence, in every hundred 7l. 18s. 4d., in every thousand 79l. 3s. 4d.
'Item. The half-groat, called the old sterling, being current two pence the piece, makes the oz. two shillings, and the 12 oz. 24 shillings; and holding fine silver 10 oz. 18 dwts., at 5s. 5½d. the oz., makes 59s. 5d., and are better than their current value, in every pound 28s. 4d., and in every hundred pounds 141l. 13s. 4d., and in every thousand 1410l.
'Item. The half-groats with the gunholes, holding fine silver 9 oz. and 3 oz. of alloy, at 2 shillings the oz., makes the 12 oz. 24 shillings, the fine silver at 5s. 5½d. the oz., makes 49s. 1½d., and so this coin is better than his current value in every pound 21 shillings, in every hundred pounds 105l., and in every thousand 1050l.
'Item. The half-groats, called gunstone groats, holding fine silver 6 oz., and 6 oz. of alloy, at 2s. the oz., makes the 12 oz. 24 shillings, the fine silver at 5s. 5½d. the oz., makes 32s. 9d., and so this coin is better than his current value, in every pound 7s. 3d., in every hundred 36l. 5s., in every thousand 362l. 10s.
'Item. There is one coin of half-groat, holding fine silver 4 oz. and 8 oz. of alloy, at 2s. the oz., makes the 12 oz. 24 shillings, and the fine silver 5s. 5½. the oz., makes 21s. 10d., and so is lost in every pound of his value two shillings, in every hundred pounds 10l., in every thousand 100l.
'There is one coin of 6d. holding fine silver 8 oz. and 4 oz. of alloy, at 4s. the oz., makes the 12 oz. 48 shillings. The fine silver 5s. 5½d. the oz., makes 43s. 8d., and so is lost of the current value of this coin in every pound two shillings, in every hundred pounds 10l.
'Item. There is one coin of 6d. holding fine silver 6 oz. and 6 oz, of alloy, at 3s. the oz., makes the 12 oz. 36s., the fine silver at 5s. 5½d. the oz., makes 32s. 9d., and so is lost in every pound in this coin two shillings, in every hundred pounds 10l., and in every thousand 100l.
'Item. There is one coin of 6d. holding fine silver 3 oz. and 9 oz. of alloy, at 3s. the oz., makes the 12 oz. 36s., the fine silver at 5s. 5½d., makes 16s. 4½d., and so is lost in every pound eleven shillings, in every hundred 55l., and in every thousand 550l.
'Item. Our moneys or pence called the Rose pence, holding fine silver 4 oz. and 8 oz. of alloy, at 40d. the oz., makes the 12 oz. 40s., the fine silver 5s. 5½d., makes 21s. 10d., and is lost of every pound of his current value 9s. 1d., in every hundred pounds 46l. 5s., in every thousand 462l. 10s.'And so the worst of the said moneys doth huy and sell the host, and will, till all come to one uniform, and the prices of everything to run upon the worst of our moneys to the great decay of all things, which coins may be converted to one uniform after the moneys in Flanders to the King's Majesty's great advantage, and no loss to the commons in the converting of the same, and all things by the same to come to a clear price, and the true value of the coins to be perfectly known; which, if it be your honour's pleasure to license me to make thereof, I doubt not but it shall appear unto your honours worthy the exercise.'
- The memoranda of the expenses of the household in the reign of Edward VI. were in a manuscript in the possession of Strype, who has printed extracts from it in the Memorials of the Reformation. Where the manuscript is now I do not know.
- Latimer's Sermons, p. 261.
- The Council to Sir Philip Hoby: MS. Germany, Edward VI. bundle 1, State Paper Office.
- Dymock to the Council. MS. Germany, Edward VI., bundle 1 State Paper Office.
- See the Letters of the Council to Mr Damosell at Antwerp: Flanders MSS. Edward VI. State Paper Office. The character of the correspondence may be judged from such specimens as these:—'Forsomuch as the exchange falleth daily so sore, if you can devise to bargain with some of them to take kerseys or cloths for the money, and devise by what means the King might after that sort save the loss of the interest, and such exchange as he doth now sustain, ye should do right well in it, and deserve thanks.'
'When ye write that ye may have money to a 100,000l. upon interest, we would gladly know whether you could bargain with them, considering the fall of the exchange, that they would take payment in cloths and kerseys,' &c. &c.
It ought to be said that the Continental Governments were taking up money at the same careless rate; but the Continental Governments were also careless of tyranny to an extent beyond what the English council could venture on.
'When ye write,' they say. with a sigh of envy, 'of the Emperor taking on interest 14, 15, or 16 upon the 100, we understand that by Jasper Douchy's policy and other means he doth so order the matter that of what interest soever he taketh money, he maketh merchants and others there to bear the burden, and so be to him all one. The which we do not see can be like to the King's Majesty.'—Same to Same: MS. Ibid.
- 'If the Emperor shall demand satisfaction for the injuries of his subjects, you must thereunto reply that these pirates be at the least twenty sail now in company together, and among them a great many good soldiers and as expert mariners as any be, which being left in despair, will no doubt continue their former ill lives, robbing and spoiling as they have done, and also of like give ear to the present practices of the French.'—Council to Sir P. Hoby: MS. Germany, Edward VI. bundle 1, State Paper Office.
- They considered, qu'une telle entreprise, sy elle est veritable, n'a peu avoir este conjurer sans l'intelligence de beaucoup de plus grandes, les quelles ne peuvent avoir esté tous descouverts. Henry sent agents, therefore, afin de mettre de dans le dit Royaulme d'Angleterre s'il estoit possible une guerre civile, et lei aviser à se venger les uns des autres pour d'aultant rendre ses affaires plus faciles, tant du costé d'Escosse que de celuy de dechà.—Documents communicated to Sir Thomas Gresham by the Regent of the Low Countries: printed by Haynes.
- Correspondence between the Duke of Somerset and Cardinal Pole: MS. Domestic, State Paper Office.
- Epistolæ Tigurinæ, p. 41.
- Paget to the Protector, May 18, 1549: MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. vii. State Paper Office.
- Sir John Thynne was said by Paget to have been among the worst of the Protector's friends. The following story introduces both Thynne and his patron in strange company.
'William Wycherly examined, saith,—
'That about ten years past he used a rule called Circula Salamonis at a place called Pembersbam, in Sussex, to call up Baro, whom he taketh as Oriental or Septentrial spirit; where was also one Robert Bayly, the scryer of the chrystal stone, Sir John Anderson, the magister operator, Sir John Hychcly, and Thomas Gosling, in the which practice they had swords, rings, and holy water, when they were frustrated, for Baro did not appear nor other vision of spirit, but there was a terrible wind and tempest all the time of the circulation. And since that time he used no consecrate circule, but hath used the crystal to invocate the sprat called Scariot, which he called divers times into the crystal to have knowledge of things stolen; which sprat hath given him knowledge an hundred time, and thereby men have been restored to their goods. And this practice by the crystal he hath at the command of my Lord Protector executed in the presence of Mr Thynne, Mr Whalley, Mr George Blage, Mr Chaloner, and Mr Weldon; and by this means my Lord Protector's plate was found where deponent told his Grace it was hid. He sayth that he can invocate the sprat into the crystal glass as soon as any man, but he cannot bind the sprat so soon from lying lies.
'As concerning the sword and the use thereof, he saith that he hath not used the same, save only about two mouths past he used holy water and a sword unconsecrated, and therefore ineffectuous, at Hale oak beside Fulham, where they digged for treasure and found none. But as they were working in the feat there came by them alongst the high way a black blind horse, and made deponent and others with him to run their ways.
'He saith that within this se'nnight Humfrey Locke, about Windsor Forest, and one Potter, of St Clement's parish, without Temple Bar, came to this deponent for a sword and a sceptre going upon joints, which hath been consecrated, and now are polluted, and a ring with the great name of God written thrice tetragramraaton, which this deponent delivered them, and they two with a priest intend at this or next lunation to conjure for treasure hid between Newbury and Reading.
'He saith that about nine years past he did conjure at Yarmouth in the great circule with the sword and the ring consecrated; but nothing appeared unto him, because that an old priest being there, was so sore afraid that he ran away before the spirit called Ambrose Waterduke could appear.
'Sir Robert Bryan, of Highgate, priest, some time an armyt, conjureth with a sieve and a pair of shears, invocating St Paul and St Peter, and he also useth the Psalter and key. One Croxton's wife, in Golding-lane, occupyeth the sieve and sheers, and she only speaketh with the fayrayes.
'John Davy, a Welshman, late dwelling at my Lord Protector's place, is a prophesyer and a great teller of things lost.
'And this deponent sayth that there be within England above 500 conjurors as he thinketh, specially Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire.'—Lansdowne, MSS. British Museum.
- Paget to Petre: Tytler, vol. i.
- Paget to the Protector: MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. viii. State Paper Office.
- Simon Kent to the Bishop of Lincoln: MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. vi. State Paper Office.
- The Lady Mary to ——: Ellis, first series, vol. ii.
- Articles against the Protector: printed by Holinshed.
- Proclamation of the Council on the Outbreak of the Rebellion: MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. vi. State Paper Office.
- It is singular that a belief prevailed in all classes that Henry had forbidden by his will that any change should be made during the minority in Religion. Even Mary, as we have seen, shared it. The Protector was punished for his want of openness. He had made the will a mystery because it was inconvenient that the world should know that he had altered the disposition of the Government.
- The Carews of Mohuns Ottery were among the oldest of the Devonshire families. Sir Peter, after a wild boyhood, ran away to France, and took service as page with a nobleman at the Court of Francis the First. Being recognized by one of his father's friends, who was at Paris on an embassy, he was brought to London, where his gallant bearing recommended him to Henry VIII. He rose in favour; he served in the war under Sir John Wallop with high distinction, and afterwards inherited the family property between Exeter and Honiton. His brother, Sir Gawen, had Tiverton Castle. Minute descriptions of both Tiverton and Mohuns Ottery are in the State Paper Office. The latter was described as impregnable, except by cannon, and the furniture of the rooms would even now be considered magnificent.
- Father of Sir Walter, who was not yet born.
- He was the owner of one or more armed ships, popular among sailors, and probably, therefore, not unacquainted with privateering.
- Narrative of Mr Hooker of Exeter—oculatus testis, as he calls himself: printed by Holinshed.
- Paget to the Protector: MS. Domestic, vol. viii. Edward VI. It is noticeable that in the preamble of a private Act passed in the late session, referring to the demise of certain of his lands, the Protector styles himself 'The Right Excellent Prince Edward, Duke of Somers.'—2 and 3 Edward VI. cap. 12.
- 'Doth receiving the communion either make matrimony or give authority and license to whoredom? Did not men and women always heretofore go to God's board, and receive together and all at one time as they do now; and did ever men think that they that did so should be in common?'—Answer of the Protector to the Rebels in the West: MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. viii. State Paper Office. Mr Tytler has printed the greater part of the paper from which the above passage is an extract. The passage itself, strange to say, he has omitted.
- Priests described by Cranmer as men of 'notable craft, wilfulness, and dissimulation.' They had, perhaps, been concerned in the disturbance of 1548.
- Demands of the Rebels, printed in Strype's Cranmer. Another set, differently worded, but to the same purpose, is given by Holinshed. There is an additional demand among the latter that the clergy should be prohibited from marrying. From other quarters there must have been more, which are lost, and to some of which the Protector's defence of the communion service must have been directed.
- Illud de Mario vel Marianis me valde angit immo prope exanimat. Faxit Deus optimus maximus pro suâ clementiâ malum id avertat.—Sir Thomas Smith to Cecil: Tytler, vol. i. The meaning is scarcely disguised under the masculine termination.
- MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. viii.
- 'On my life, if my Lord's Grace would give authority to any one man to execute the proclamations, this whole shire shall be quiet. When the proclamations be directed so generally, every man looketh upon another.'—Sir Thomas Smith to Cecil.
- Paget to the Protector: MS. Domestic, Edward VI. State Paper Office. Printed in Strype's Memorials, vol. iv.
- MS. Ibid. vol. vi.
- Before the rebellion was finally over, Herbert, Warwick, Russell, Arundel, Southampton, "Dorset, Paget, Lord Wentworth, Sir Thomas Wentworth, Sir Thomas Darcy, Huntingdon, Clinton, Cobham, and the Duchess of Richmond, subscribed among themselves something about a hundred thousand pounds. The account is drawn out in the hand of Sir Thomas Smith.—MS. Harleian, 660.
- Orders of the Crown to Bonner, Bishop of London: MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. viii.
- MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. viii.
- I have found no especial directions for the Oxfordshire bells, but there was a general order of council, applying to all the disturbed districts, and there was no reason why Oxfordshire should be spared.
- Hooker, an eye-witness, is the unexceptionable authority for this savage incident. The revenge of the Italians and Germans was perhaps in some way connected with it.
- Probably Greenfield of Stowe and Bideford, brother or uncle of John the Trivateer, and father of the famous Sir Richard
- Russell to the Council: MS. Harleian, 523.
- Before censuring Somerset for what he did not do, one ought to be able to judge what he was able to do; and before blaming his communications, one ought to know what they were. It is certain, however, that, when the insurrection was put down, he pardoned and dismissed many prisoners who were sent to London for trial. Ket himself was not punished till after the Duke's deposition from the Protectorate, and his leniency was approved and perhaps advised by Latimer. The following letter of Sir Anthony Aucher to Cecil, written on the 10th of September, shows the feeling with which the aristocratic party regarded both Latimer and Somerset:—
'Under pretence of simplicity there may rest much mischief, and so I fear there doth in these men called Commonwealths, and their adherents. To declare unto you the state of the gentlemen—I mean as well the greatest as the lowest—I assure you they are in such doubts that almost they dare touch none of them, not for that they are afraid of them, but for that some of them have been sent up and come away without punishment. And that Commonwealth, called Latimer, hath gotten the pardon of others, and so they speak manifestly, that I may well gather some of them to be in jealousy of my Lord's friendship; and, to be plain, think my Lord's Grace rather to will the decay of the gentlemen than otherwise. There was never none that ever spake as vilely as these called Commonwealths does.'—MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. viii. State Paper Office.
- Cotton. MS. Vespasian, F. 3.
- Warwick to Cecil: Tytler, vol. i. p. 193.
- Holinshed, writing from the report of eye-witnesses.
- Council to Wotton: MS. French, Edward VI. bundle 8.
- Relying, it was said, on a fantastic prophecy—
The country gruffs, Hob, Dick, and Hick,
With clubs and clouted shoon,
Shall fill up Duffindale with blood
Of slaughtered bodies soon.
The extent to which wild 'skimble skamble' prophecies had extended through England, and really affected men's conduct, forms at once one of the most peculiar features of the time, and one of the greatest difficulties in understanding it. In Wycherley's Confession, given above, it was said that Norfolk was rich in prophets, and several were known to be in Ket's camp.
- The council, in a letter to Doctor Wotton, at Paris, gives the number of killed at 'about a thousand.'—French MSS. bundle 8, State Paper Office. Holinshed, however, professed to have taken pains to inform himself exactly, and the council would, perhaps, make the least of an unfortunate business.
- Notices remain in the Privy Council Register of a thousand pounds to be spent in one place, eight thousand in another, and so on, of 'moneys growing of the mint.'
- Litteræ Wittenbergâ allatæ sunt significantes conventum habitura omnium subditorum Mauritii et Augusti Ducum, in quo conventu post habitam deliberationem ipsum Mauritium concionatoribus accitis, ordinibus omnibus præsentibus denunciasse ut porro pergerent in suis ministeriis, populo veritatem ut hactenus prædicare, et sacramenta rite administrare; nec quicquam intermitterent quod ad veram pietatem facere et ad suum officium pertinere existiment. Sibi curæ futurum ut ab omni violentiâ tuti sint.—Metu populi a se defecturi ad religionem se componit et adsimulat, cum experiatur omnes abhorrere ab Interim recipiendo.—Mont to the Protector, June 15: MS. Germany, Edward VI. bundle 1.
- Episcopi ubique locorum ubi potentiâ superant omnem pietatem exterminant. Multas turbas concitant et dira interminantur.—Ibid.
- Paget to the Protector, June 30: MS. Germany, bundle 1, State Paper Office.
- Council to Paget, July 4: MS. Ibid.
- Paget to Petre, July 8: MS. Ibid.
- 'Alas, Mr Secretary, we must not think that heaven is here, but that we live in a world. It is a wonderful matter to hear what brutes run abroad here of your things at home, which killeth my heart to hear. And I wot not what to say to them, because I know them to be true. And they be so well known here in every man's mouth, as you know them at the Court, and I fear me better.'—Paget to Petre: MS. Germany, bundle 1, State Paper Office.
- 'Also, after the report and declarations of the defaults and lacks reported to you by such as did survey Boulogne and the pieces there, you would never amend the same defaults. You would not suffer Newhaven and Blackness (two castles behind Boulogne) to be furnished with men and victuals, although you were advertised of the defaults therein by the captains of the same pieces and others, and were thereto advertised by the King's council.'—Articles against the Protector, printed by Holinshed. And compare a letter of Paget to the Protector, dated July 7: MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. viii. State Paper Office.
- The Council to Sir Philip Hoby; MS. Germany, bundle 1, State Paper Office.
- The Council to Wotton: MS. France, bundle 8, State Paper Office.
- De Thou, lib. vi.
- 'The French King, to take the King's Majesty unprovided, suddenly set forth an army to the sea, and with the same attempted to surprise the isles of Guernsey and Jersey, and such of his Majesty's ships as were there, and were beaten from them with small honour and no small loss of his men.'—Council to Wotton: MS. France, bundle 8, State Paper Office.
- Calais MSS. State Paper Office.
- For which Sir Henry Palmer was degraded and Clinton received a reprimand. The home Government 'could not but marvel that they would assent, by their common agreement in council, to the abandoning and raising of the King's Majesty's fort of Bullenberg, upon the vague fear and faint-hearted hearsay of the captains and others of that fort, and without any apparent or imminent peril. They could not but be sorry to understand that Englishmen such as have had some experience of the wars, should be so faint-hearted that they durst not look their enemies in the face, but would, after such dishonourable sort, both forget their duties and give over his Majesty's pieces.'—The Council to Clinton: Calais MSS. State Paper Office.
- The Council to Sir Philip Hoby: MS. Germany, bundle 1, State Paper Office.
- In a rough draft of this memorandum among the council records, Somerset's election to the Protectorate is ascribed less absolutely to his own exertions. 'The Lords considering that it should be expedient to have one, as it were, a mouth for the rest, to whom all such as had to do with the whole body of the council might resort, after some consultation, chose by their common agreement the Duke of Somerset.'—MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. ix. State Paper Office.
- I have not been able to obtain any clear details justifying these charges, but in the State correspondence of the month following the insurrection, there are repeated complaints of Somerset's supposed favour for the insurgents; and an accusation so specific I consider most likely to be true.
- MS. Germany, Edward VI. bundle 1, State Paper Office.
- Draft of the Memorandum: MS. Domestic, vol. ix. State Paper Office.
- Directions to the King for a Letter to be addressed to the Lords: Tytler, vol. i. p. 207.
- By some unknown hand. The signature is Henry A.: Ibid. p. 208.
- The writer seemed to fear that the authorities of the city would join with the lords. 'As for London, called Troy untrue,' the paper concludes, 'Merlin saith that 23 aldermen of hers shall lose their heads in one day, which God grant to be shortly.'
- MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. ix.
- 'Good people, in the name of God and King Edward, let us rise with all our power to defend him and the Lord Protector against certain lords and gentlemen and chief masters, who would depose the Lord Protector, and so endanger the King's royal person, because we, the poor commons, being injured by the extortions of gentlemen, had our pardon this year by the mercy of the King and the goodness of the Lord Protector, for whom let us fight, for he loveth all just and true gentlemen which do no extortion, and also the poor commonwealth of England.'—Tytler, vol. i. p. 210.
- MS. Domestic, vol. ix. State Paper Office. At the bottom of the page is written, 'This is the true copy of the King's Majesty's commission, signed with his Majesty's seal and hand, and with the Lord Protector's Grace's sign.' The date is October 5. Mr Tytler has printed the Commission from another copy, dated October 1, which is a mistake.
- Privy Council Register, Edward VI. MS. The Protector's party said that they were going armed to seize his person.
- There is some difficulty about the terms of Petre's message. Part, perhaps, was his own information; part the message he was entrusted to give. Edward, in his Journal, says that Sir William Petre 'was sent to know for what cause the lords had gathered their powers together, and if they meant to talk with the Protector, they should come in a peaceable manner.' The Protector, in a letter written the following day, said that he had 'sent Mr Petre with such a message, as whereby might have ensued the surety of his Majesty's person, the preservation of his realm and subjects.' The Privy Council Register says: ' As they were ready to have mounted upon their horses they were certainly advertised, as well by credible reports of divers gentlemen as by letters subscribed by the hand of the said Lord Protector, that he, having some intelligence of their lordships' intents, had suddenly raised a power of the commons to the intent, if their lordships had come, to have destroyed them.'
- Papers relating to the Protector: MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. ix. State Paper Office.
- Paget to the Council: MS. Domestic, vol. ix. State Paper Office.
- Council Register MS.
- The Council to the Lords at Windsor: Ellis, 1st series, vol. ii.
- King Edward's Journal.
- In the handwriting of Sir Thomas Smith, who was acting as his secretary.—MS. Domestic, vol. ix.
- The King to the Lords, October 8: Tytler, vol. i. p. 220. Articles signed by the Protector: Burnet's Collectanea.
- The Protector to Warwick, October 8: Stow.
- Tytler, vol. i. p. 223.
- Ibid. p. 228.
- An expression with more meaning than shows on the surface. Among the divisions in England, loyalty to the reigning sovereign was the one sentiment on which all parties were agreed. With the glare of the wars of the Roses still visible which so plainly, no question was permitted to be pressed to a point which touched the throne.
- Tytler, vol. i. p. 216.
- Privy Council Records, MS.
- The Council to the King: MS. Domestic, vol. ix. State Paper Office. Printed by Burnet.
- Mr Tytler, who, in his tenderness for Somerset, represents him as the victim of an unprincipled intrigue, and scatters freely such epithets over his story as 'base,' 'villanous,' and 'treacherous,' says that Hoby had brought a secret message to Paget and Cranmer, which was 'none other than they must either forsake the Duke, lend themselves to the deceit about to be practised on him, and concur in measures for securing his person, or continue true to him and share his fate.' The unconditional submission which the council required, he considers was basely kept a secret; the object was to put the Protector oft' his guard, and then take him prisoner. Considering that, in the existing circumstances, setting aside the interests of the State, the truest kindness to Somerset was to prevent him from attempting the wild plans which he was meditating, there would have been nothing to deserve the epithets of false and treacherous, had the council sent such instructions, and had Paget and Cranmer acted on them. But the eagerness of Mr Tytler's sympathies has misled him. The message was delivered in open audience, and was addressed to Somerset as much as to them. 'The unconditional submission' was required in the letter to the King, and this letter was, by the especial order of the council, presented to the King in open Court, and read aloud. 'Sir Philip Hoby,' wrote Cranmer, Paget, and Sir Thomas Smith, on the 10th of October, to the council, 'hath, according to the charge given him by your lordships, presented your letter to the King's Majesty, in the presence of us and all the rest of his Majesty's good servants here, which was then read openly.' Sir Thomas Smith was Somerset's friend.
Had the Duke been put to death after the promise of kind treatment, there would have been ground for the charge of perfidy. But, inasmuch as the promise was observed, and in three months he was again a member of the council, it is hard to see what the crime was on which Mr Tytler lavishes his eloquence. It would be well if historians could bring themselves to believe that statesmen may be influenced, and at times have been influenced, by other feelings than personal ambition or rivalry.
- Tytler, vol. i. p. 239.
- Ellis, 1st series, vol. ii. p. 175.
- Privy Council Records, MS.
- Privy Council Records, MS.
- A loose paper of memoranda made by some one engaged in the inquiry shows how complicated the accounts must have been, and how inadequate are the existing data to decide on the character of Somerset's conduct.
'Touching the Duke of Somerset—
'1. The plate belonging to the late college of St Stephen's at Westminster, delivered into his hands.
'2. The rich copes, vestments, altar cloths, and hangings belonging to the same college, whereof the Duke had the best and Sir Ralph Vane the next.
'3. The Duke of Norfolk's stuff and jewels, delivered by Sir John Gates.
'4. The best of Sharington's stuffs and goods.
'5. The lead, stone, and stuff of Sion, Reading, and Glastonbury, of great value.
'6. The stallment of the King's alum, sold to certain merchants of London for fourteen or fifteen years, for which the Duke, Smith, and Thynne had among them 1400l.
'7. The thousand marks given by the city of London to the King's Majesty at his coronation.
'8. The customers' officers within England, for the which he had by Thynne's practice notable sums.
'9. The King's secret houses in Westminster, and other places wherein no man was privy but himself, half a year after the King's death.
10. The gifts and exchanges past in his name since the King's death.
'11. It is thought that much land was conveyed by the Duke in trust, in the names of Thynne, Kellaway, Seymour, Berwick, Colthurst, and other his men, and that they have made assurances again of all to the Duke and his heirs, and it is thought that the said persons know best where all the evidences of his lands and his specialties do remain.
'12. The Duke's diet of eight hundred marks by the year, proceeded from the Augmentation Court.'—MS. Domestic, Edward VI. vol. ix. State Paper Office.
- Harleian MSS. 660. According to Ruding's Tables, vol. i. p. 183, a pound of silver was coined, in the year 1549, into 7l. 4s.; of which, the Crown, for seignorage and cost of minting, took 4l., paying the merchant 3l. 45.; but the seignorage varied from month, to month, and so apparently did the cost and the materials of the alloys.
- The memoranda of this transaction form part of a long paper on the coinage in the handwriting of Sir Thomas Smith.—Harleian MSS. 660