Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Volume 29 Section X

Archaeologia Volume 29 Section X is in Archaeologia Volume 29.

Observations upon the History of certain Events in England during the Reign of King Edward the Fourth. By James Orchard Halliwell, Esq. F.RS., F.S.4., FRAS., &c.

Read February 27th, 1840.

THE last few years have been productive of much new research in the history of the reign of Edward the Fourth. Sir Henry Ellis (age 62), in his "Original Letters illustrative of English History," laid the foundation of a series of documents, which was followed by some articles in the "Excerpta Historica," by Mr. W. H. Black, and more recently has been considerably augmented by the publication of an anonymous history under the able editorship of Mr. Bruce, and another contemporary chronicle published by the Camden Society. To furnish a few additional facts on a period of history, the obscurity of which has been admitted by every writera, has been my object in the present paper; and I place the results of my researches before the notice of the Society of Antiquaries, under the conviction that its members form the only body in Europe able to judge whether the materials here brought together are valuable additions to this portion of our country's history.

Note a. See also a letter from Thomas Hearne to Mr. West, in MS. Lansd. 778, fol. 42, r°, on this subject.

Edward took possession of the throne of England on the fourth day of March, 1461b. From MS. Arundel, No. 5, in the College of Arms, we have the following minute account of his proceedings during the first days of that month. On the second of March he proclaimed, throughout London, the articles concerning his claim to the crown of England; on the third, he read them before his parliament; on the fourth, there was a general procession solemnly made through London, and the bishop of Exeter preached the same day at St. Paul's a sermon, in which he advocated the right of Edward's succession. This sermon I discovered in one of the Cottonian manuscripts, wholly unnoticed in the Catalogues, and I have now the pleasure of placing it before the notice of the Society:—

[MS. Bib. Cotton. Vespas. E. vit. fol. 18, v°.]

"In the name of God and of oure Ladi and alle the good compony of Heven, every trewe Cristen man of God be ye now feithfulle and trewe, and be wise and welle ware houghe and what oppynyons that ye holde: for alle thinges good trewe and rightfulle commethe of God and of his warkes that are feithfulle, quia ipse est solus Deus et veritas. Thanne lett us applye oure willes with oure werkes to Godis wille oure maker uppon peyne of everlastyng dampnacione, and also latt us beware of the fals suttilte of the devyle and of his fals blynde warkes, with the whiche he disseyvythe many a man and woman, bothe in body and soule, be his innumerabile disseites and wronges with fals covetous oppinions that nowe regnythe in moche wikked people in theire worldly joyes, whiche schal perishe, omnia transibunt et gaudia vana peribunt. Forsothe aungels of hevene, and alle erthelye creatures, nor alle the fendis of helle knowe nat ne canne not telle the wille ne prevites of Gode, nowther oure nor tyme of suche thingges as longges to Goddis prevey powere, non est vestrum noscere tempora, &c. sed accipietis virtutem spiritus sancti in vos supervenientis. For that we have no knowleche of the privitees of Gode, therfor the Holy Gost hathe schewyd be his inspiracioun in his blyssed servauntes and holy seintes unto us that is moste nedefulle and medefulle for us, as seithe in scripture, spiritus ubi vult spirat [The Spirit blows where it wills]. Thanne no man schuld not presume the contrari to lett ne refuse the vertu of inspiracioun of the Holy Gost be many holy seintes ordeined, prophecied to geve us warnyng, understonding, and knowleche for our wele bothe of body and soule, and to eschewe the grete vengeaunce that schalle falle for synful wronges done in olde tyme be disenherityng of kyngis, princis, and lordis of nobile progeny in many divers kyngdomes; alle this may be understond and knowyn to every vertuose and welle disposede man that wille inclyne to Goddis wille and his lawe, as may be proved be gode communicacioun, but many there benne, quod nolunt intelligere, ut bene agerent. And another wille dispisene alle suche propheciis, and sett hem at nought, Paulus dicit, "Spiritum nolite extinguere, prophetias nolite spernere; omnia autem probate; quod bonum est tenete; ab omni specie mala abstinete vos." [Do not quench the spirit, Do not reject the prophecies; but prove all things; hold on to what is good; Abstain yourselves from every kind of evil.] Thus ye may discerne good frome evylle, and righte fro wronge, and evere beware fro wronge and fie evele, guoniam in malivolam animam non introibit sapientia [wisdom will not enter into a malevolent soul]. Now tak hede every man hough righte for syne be wrong was pat oute, anno 689. And now ageine wronge for syne be ryghte is flemed oute of the londe for evere, anno 1460. Thus it is knowen and proved of oure Lord be revelacioun in oure Lady aungelle Sibelle, quene of the Southe, a doughter of Seint Germaine, Seint Edwarde, [Seint...... three words are erased] Birgitt, Bede, Gildas, Ricardus Scrope, and many moo, &c.—Mirabilis Deus in sanctis suis. Now understond welle every man, houghe and in whome alle theis forsaide concludene and acordyne alle in one rightefully be inspiracioun of the Holy Gost. This schulde be opynned to every good man's knowleche, Nolite timere eos, qui occidunt corpus, animam autem non possunt occidere; sed pocius eum timere qui potest et animam et corpus perdere in Jehennam [Don't be afraid of them, who kill the body, they cannot kill the soul; but it is better to fear him who can and to perish both soul and body in Gehenna]. Therfor geve credens to alle theis before rehersede, houghe be inspiracioun have establysshede to us the verey trwe and feithfulle righte of olde tyme in diverse reames long tyme wrongfully kepte out, and was out of mynde, that nowe is founden in many olde written bokes mervolusly declared. Be home alle suche people as have be blynde and evele disposed to God and right, yit maye make provision to amende hemselfe ageyns God and right for there welfares and the salvacioun of theire owne soules; and to eschewe suche dredfull mischeves as have bene and schalle be universalle, for grete abhominabile synnes incustumed that regnythe in the people, wherefore Gode takethe vengeance dailé,—

Ante Dei vultum [Before the face of God]

Nihil unquam transit inultum. [Nothing ever goes unsaid.]

Nemo Dei cultum [No one worships God]

Presumat dicere stultum. [He presumes to say a fool]

Quæ peccata latent, [What sins are hidden]

Ignoto tempore patent. [They are open at an unknown time]

Note b. I may remark that, although Edward virtually began his reign some days previously, yet Henry's government did not end, nor Edward's commence, until the 4th of March, and this date is universally adopted in every contemporary document. Another MS. says, that "' he went to Westmynster and resseyved his septre and toke his charge on the Wednysday, the iiij. day of Marche."—MS. Rot. Harl. C. 8, membr. ult.

Thus better it is to geve credens to Goddes lefule warkes than to oure worldely joyes, sinfule and wikked selfewillede and blynde oppinions, that nowe is cause dayle of oure troublis and mischevoues undoyng suddeynlé be the dredefule vengeaunce of Gode, guia opus Domini non respicitis, nec opera manuum ejus consideratis."

When Edward entered the metropolis as a conqueror, he had the voice of the people in his favour. "On Thursday, the first week in Lent," observes the writer of the Lambeth MS. 306, "came Edward to London with thirty thousand men, and so in field and town every one called Edward King of England and of France." On this occasion the following curious song was written, which affords us ample means of judging of the popular feeling in favour of Edward.

(MS. Lambeth, 306, fol. 136, r°.

Thus better it is to geve credens to Goddes lefule warkes than to oure worldely joyes, sinfule and wikked selfewillede and blynde oppinions, that nowe is cause dayle of oure troublis and mischevoues undoyng suddeynlé be the dredefule vengeaunce of Gode, guia opus Domini non respicitis, nec opera manuum ejus consideratis."

MS. Lambeth, 306, fol. 136, r°.

Sithe God hathe chose the to be hia knyht,

And posseside the in this right,

Thone hime honour with al thi myght,

Edwardus Dei gratia.

Oute of the stoke that longe lade day [read lay dede],

God hathe causede the to sprynge and sprede,

And of al Englond to be the hede,

Edwardus Dei gratia.

Sithe God hath yeven the thorough his my;te,

Owte of that stoke birede in sight

The floure to springe and rosse so white,

Edwardus Dei gratia.

Thone yeve hem lawde and praisinge,

Thoue vergyne knight of whom we synge,

Undefliled sithe thy begynyng,

Edwardus Dei gratia.

God save thy contenewaunce,

And so to prospede to his plesaunce,

That ever thyne astate thou mowte enhaunce,

Edwardus Dei gratia.

Re Angliew et Francie, y say,

Hit is thine owne, why saist thou nay?

And so is Spayn, that faire contrey.

Edwardus Dei gratia.

Fy on slowtfulle contenewauance!

Where conquest is a noble plesance,

And registerd in olde rememberance,

Edwardus Dei gratia.

Wherefor Prince and Kyng moste my3ti,

Remembere the Subdene of thi Regaly,

Of Englonde, Fraunce and Spayn trewely.

Edwardus Dei gratia.

Heavily, indeed, had the loss of the three continental provinces during Henry's sovereignty touched the people; so that for years it formed the most bitter cause for complaint against that monarch. The allusion to it in this song is evident; and the notice of Spain "that faire contrey," proves how ardently a continental war and continental conquests were desired.

In the summer of the year 1461 King Edward made a tour of the south of England, ending westward at Bristol. It was at this town, on the 9th of September, in the same year, that Sir Baldwin Fulford and others were beheaded; and it appears from MS. Rot. Harl. C. 8, that they "were take on the se saylynge into Brytayne for to arayse people ageyn Kynge Edward," and that after they were beheaded their heads "were caryed to Exeter and were sette uppon the castelle gate.c"'

Note c. I here take the opportunity of supplying a minute point of history, which has never yet been given correctly by any author. Speaking of the Earl of Oxford, and his son, Lord Aubrey, the author of Hearne's Fragment says, "They were both taken the xij. day of Feb. 1460-1, and brought to the toure at London, and shortely thereuppon, the xx. day of the same month, bothe the fadir and the son were brought unto the Toure hill, where they suffrid dethe bothe on one day." Now the fact is that they were taken on the 2nd of February, the feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, that the Earl of Oxford was executed on the 20th, and the son on the 26th, and all in the year 1462. This appears from M8. Arundel (Coll. Arm.) 5, and MS. Rot. Harl. C. 8, membr. ult. The editor of the Gentleman's Magazine (Dec. 1839) in a review of Warkworth's Chronicle, falls into the same error. Edward was not reigning in February 1461.

I must now beg leave to introduce two remarkable documents which relate to the personal history of a lady afterwards destined to share the crown with Edward. I allude, of course, to Elizabeth Wodevile. The following letters are taken from MS. Bib. Reg. 17 B. 47, f. 165.

1. Letter of Richard, Duke of York, to Elizabeth Wodevile.

Right trusty and welbeloved, we grete you wel; And forsomoche as we are credibly enfourmed that our right herty and welebilovede knyght, Sir Hugh John, for the grete wommanhode and gentillesse approved and knowen in your persone, ye beyng sooule and to be maried, his hert holy have, wherof we are right wel pleased. How it be of your disposicioun towardes him in that bihalve as yet to us is unknowen, We, therefore, as for the feith, true and good lordship we owe unto him at this tyme, and so wol continue, Desire and hertley praie you ye wol on your partie be to him wel willed to the perfourmyng of this our writyng and his desire. Wherein ye shal do not onely to our pleasire, but we doubte not to you grete wele and worshipe in tyme comyng. Certefiyng you, if ye fulfille our entent in this matier, we wol and shul be to him and you suche lord as shal be to your bother grete wele and worship by the grace of God, who precede and guyde you in al hevenly felicitee and welfare. Writen &c.

By Richard Duk of York. To Dame Elizabeth Wodehille.

2. Letter of Richard, Earl of Warwick, to Elizabeth Wodevile.

Worshipful and welebiloved, I grete you wele, And forasmoche as my right welebiloved, Sir Hugh John, knyght, which now late was with you unto his ful grete joie, and had grete chere as he seith, whereof I thanke you, hath enfourmed me how that he for the greet love and affectioun that he hath unto your persone, as wele for the grete sadnes and wisdome that he founde and proved in you at that tyme, as for your grete and preised vertues and wommanly demeanyng, desireth with al his hert to do you worship by wey of mariage, bifore ony other creature lyvynge as he seith. I, consideryng his seid desire, and the greet worshipe that he had, which was made knyght at Jerusalem; and after his comyng home, for the grete wisdome and manhode that he was renoumed of, was made knyght Marchal of Fraunce, and after that knyght Marchal of Englond, unto his grete worshipe, with other his grete and many vertues and desertes; And also the gode and notable service that hath done and daily doth to me, Write unto you at this tyme, and pray you affecteously that ye wil the rathere, at this my request and praiere, to condescende and applie you unto his seid lawful and honest desire, wherein ye shal not onely purvey right notablyfor yourself unto your wele and grete worshipe in tyme to come, as I verely trust, but also cause me to shewe unto you such gode lordship, as ye by reasoun shal holde you contente and pleased, with the grace of God, whiche everlastyngly have you in his blissed proteccioun and governaunce. Writen, &c.

By Richard Erle of Warr' To Dame Elizabeit Wodeville.

Sir Hugh Johns appears to have survived his disappointment, as may be seen from the inscription on his monument in the parish church of Swansea, and which is given by Sir R. C. Hoare, in the Itinerary of Giraldus Cambrensis, vol. i. p. 166-7.

The following account of Edward's marriage is taken from MS. Lansd. 210. The date of this occurrence is unfortunately not known, nor have I been able to supply the deficiency:—

In thys same yer kyng Edward sent hys trusty frende, the Erle of Warwyk, and other imbasseturs into France to conclowde a maryage for hym with the lady Bona, that was syster to the French quene, a lady of excelent bewté, wech he concludyd in the kynges name, the wech besenys afterward dyd cawse cevylle war and moch meschef; for Kyng Edward had changyd hys mende, or the Erle cam whom agayn, and was maryed to the lady Elsabyth Gray, dawter to Rycharde Lord Revers, woch was maryd befor to Ser John Gray, knight, by whom she had ij. cheldren, Thomas and Richard."

It will be recollected that Queen Margaret visited France to obtain succour for King Henry. The following very curious narrative, which is taken from MS. Lambeth, 448, throws great light on the way Edward was made acquainted with her designs:—

Blyssyt be God! diverse of owre adversaryes be owrethrowyn, and we undyrstond the prevyte and fals ymaginacions of the French party. Also ther is oon callyt John Worby, of Mortlond, a spye, in the county of Herteford, servaunt to Sere John Russel, in the county of Wyscetre, takyn be the Lord Suthwell, and the seid a spye ther takyn, hath confessyt that Kyng Herry, late Kyng of England, in dede but not in ryth, and sche that was Queyn Margarete hys wyf, and Edward hyr son, the duk of Brytayn, Edward the Duk of Burgoyn, Syr Wylliam Taylbos, the Lord Roos, Sir Richard Tunstall, Thomas Ormond, Sir W. Catisby, Thomas Fytze Harry—thes lordes and knytes be in Scotlond with the Scottes. The Duk of Excetre, Erl of Penbrok, the Baron of Burford, John Ayne—thes schal lond at Bumeryes be the appoyment of Robert Gald, Captene of the Duk of Burgoyne. Duk Herry of Calabere, the Lord Hungyrford, the Lord Mortone, the Duk of Somersete, with lx. m1. men of Spayn, thes schal londyn in the coost of Norfolk and Suffolk. The Lord Lewys, the Duk of Spayne, Herry the Dolfyn of Franch, Ser John Fosbrew, Ser John Russel of Wycetre, Ser Thomas Burtayn, the erlys brothere of Denschyre, Ser Thomas Cornwaylys; thes lordes and knytes schal londyn at Sanewych by the appoyment. Than comyng after thes lordes and knytes byfore wryten to assiste them with al the powre possibille they may make; the Kyng of Fraunce with a c. m'; the Kyng of Denmarke with xx. m1; the Kyng of Aragon 1. m'; the Kyng of Slavern with xx. M!; the Kyng of Cesyl with xxv. m'; the Kyng of Portyngale with x. m'; the whych be appoyntyt to enter the reme of Inglond.

It is quite unnecessary to enlarge on the extreme curiosity of this document. We see the very heart of the reason of Edward's movements. I beg leave to refer to Warkworth's Chronicle on the same period. From the following extract it appears that this MS. (viz. MS. Lambeth, 448) was written at the time of the events recorded. The date is A. D. 1464:—

Thes tythynges hath my Lord of Lyncolne, and the same be come to Staford, and now be al the contre, that on Wednesday, id est, on Seynt Markes day, a felde was takyn betwyne my Lord Mountynghew on Kyng Edwardys party, and the Lord Hungyrford and many odyr on Kyng Herry's party. And ther is slayne the Lord Hungyrford, Sir Raf Percy, Sir Raff Grey, the Duk of Somershed, the Lord Roos takyn, and Taylboos the Erl of Kym and many odyr gentylys and comons slayn on that party. How many be slayn on Kyng Edwardes party is not spoke of as yt." fol. 146, r°.

The concluding sentence is quite satisfactory, and it imparts a very additional value to the relations contained in this most interesting manuscript.

I now pass to the celebrated tournament between the bastard of Burgundy and the Lord Scales, which took place in Smithfield in 1467. Celebrated it was, indeed, and finds a place in the briefest calendarial notitia of Edward's reign. Very curious documents relating to it have been printed from the well known Lansdowne Manuscript, in the Excerpta Historica, by Mr. Black. The MS. Lambeth, 306, has the following curious memorandum relative to this feat of arms on its wooden cover, nearly in pieces with the ravages of worms, and in daily danger of becoming obliterated; let us snatch the curious morceau from the hands of destruction:—

The listes that Anthony Lorde Seales and Anthonye the Bastarde of Burgoyne justyd yn Smythfelde, the tymbre and workemanshippe thereof cost ij'. marke, and was of syx of the thryftiest carpenters of Londone bought and made. The lengthe vj**. taylours yardes and x. foote and iiij**. of brede, and x. foote dowbylle barred. The inner barres were mytche gretter than the utter, and betwixt bothe v. foote. The justes began the Thirsday next after Corpus Christi day, A°. Doi. M'. iiije. lxvij, and in the vij'n. yere of Kynge Edwarde the iiij*. Thomas Howlegrave, Skynner, then beyng mayre of London.

The following document finds a place in an obscure corner of MS. Harl. 3810, and as it is curious and has never been printed, I take the opportunity of introducing it here:-—

By the King.

Trusty and wellbeloved, we greet you well, and doubteth not but it resteth well in your remembraunce of the inward entent and plesure which we have to here and know of your good expedition in executing of our commissions at this time; whereby ye were assigned to enquire of the graunte made unto us at our parliament for to uttre to oure conquest of France; of the which spede yet hither we have no knowledge. And forasmuch as it is one of the things erthly that we most desire to know, we pray you and also charge you that in any wise ye attend about the same, remembering how nygh the day approacheth of youre returne in that behalve. And especiall the tyme that we have limeted through the sufferance of oure Lorde to procede in oure seid conquest, and of oure spede in this behalve we will that ye certifye us fro tyme to tyme as the caas shall requyre. And that ye also yeve feith and credence unto oure servante berere herof in that he shal open unto you on our behalve touchyng the premisses. Yeven undre oure synett at oure manere of Shene the xxx. day of December A°. regni regis Edwardi quarti xijo. 1472d."

Note d. MS. Harl. 3810. Pars I. fol. ult. re.

This proves what I stated before, and is rather at variance with the commonly received accounts.

I may here observe that I find the Chronicle in the Arundel MS. (College of Arms) No. 5, which I have so frequently quoted, to be a continuation of the Chronicle of Peter de Ickham, and the only complete one that I know to exist. The copy in MS. Cotton. Domitian 111. extends only to the year 1301; the MS. Lambeth. 22, extends to the year 1465, as also the transcript in MS. Harl. 4323; an imperfect copy is also in MS. Digby, 168, though not mentioned in the printed catalogue; but the Arundel MS. is the only perfect one, and well does it preserve printing. The latter portion is undoubtedly the most valuable contemporary history of the period.

The writer of the anonymous chronicle preserved in the library of the College of Arms asserts that about the feast of St. Michael (Sept. 29th) in the year 1464, there appeared in London a Carmelite who professed to be the Messiah, and was greatly supported by the common — I do not find that the name of this impostor is preserved.

Dr. Lingard, in his account of the marriage of Edward's sister with the Duke of Burgundy, says, that when Edward conducted her to the coast, she rode behind the Earl of Warwick through the streets of the metropolis.

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