Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 48.djvu/169

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

crowns on their heads, and his son Edward was created prince of Wales.

During this progress the princes were at first kept in close custody within the Tower, so that little was known about them, and conspiracies began to be formed for their liberation. There was also a project for conveying some of their sisters in disguise beyond sea, to prevent which a force of armed men was laid round the abbey and its neighbourhood. Cabals against Richard spread all over the southern counties, and it was given out that Buckingham would lead the movement. But the news speedily followed that the two young princes were dead. How they had been cut off no one knew, but no one doubted that it was a murder. Buckingham then, at the suggestion of Morton, opened communications with Richmond in Brittany, who was to invade England in aid of a general insurrection, to take place all over the southern counties and in Wales simultaneously on 18 Oct. The secret, however, leaked out. The Duke of Norfolk wrote from London on the 10th for aid to put down disturbances in Kent, and Richard himself, who had reached Lincoln on the 11th, wrote from thence to York for a body of men to meet him at Leicester on the 21st to help him to subdue Buckingham. On the 23rd he issued a proclamation offering rewards for the apprehension of Buckingham, Dorset, and the other leaders, and inveighing against the rebels as subverters of morality, pointing particularly to the dissolute life of Dorset, who had now taken Jane Shore into his keeping.

The rebellion, however, was defeated not by arms, but by stormy weather. An unusual flood swelled the Severn, and Buckingham could not get out of Wales, the bridges being destroyed to stop his progress. Provisions ran short, and his followers deserted. At last he himself fled northwards in disguise into Shropshire, where he was betrayed and delivered up by a retainer. He was brought before Richard, who had come south with an army as far as Salisbury on 2 Nov., and, after being examined, was sent to summary execution. Meanwhile the storm had also frustrated the invasion of Richmond, and the whole rebellion collapsed. The king was received in triumph at Exeter, and returned to London before the end of November.

Parliament had been summoned for 6 Nov., but owing to the rebellion it was put off, and met on 23 Jan. 1484. The king's title was confirmed, his son declared heir-apparent, and the leading lords and gentlemen of the household called to swear to the succession. An act of attainder was passed against a hundred persons concerned in the rebellion, and some good laws were enacted, among which was one for the abolition of ‘benevolences.’ On 1 March Richard signed a declaration before the lords spiritual and temporal, and the lord mayor and aldermen of London, that if his nieces would come out of sanctuary, he would put them in surety of their lives and persons, and marry them to ‘gentlemen born,’ giving also a pension for life to their mother, whom he called ‘dame Elizabeth Grey.’ The object was clearly to prevent any of the daughters being conveyed abroad and married to Richmond. The offer was accepted, and the ladies came out of sanctuary. On 10 March Richard issued a remarkable circular to the bishops, urging them to repress and punish immorality. About the same time numerous commissions of muster and array were issued to meet the danger of invasion. After the parliament the king visited Cambridge, and went on to Nottingham, where he received news of the death of his only legitimate son, so recently named heir-apparent. He continued his progress to York, Middleham, and Durham, returning to Westminster for a short time in August, when he caused Henry VI's body to be removed from Chertsey to Windsor. Shortly afterwards he went to Nottingham to receive a Scottish embassy in September. Nottingham from this time was his principal residence—apparently as a central position where he might receive news from any quarter of invasion, of which he stood in constant dread. Towards the close of the year he issued a proclamation for the punishment of lying rumours and seditious writings, and Colyngbourne, a Wiltshire gentleman, who seems to have been one of the first promoters of Richmond's attempted invasion the year before, suffered the hideous death of a traitor on Tower Hill, not more, it was thought, for that than for a well-known rhyme aimed at the king and his three leading councillors.

On 7 Dec. the chancellor was instructed to prepare a proclamation against Richmond and his adherents. On the 18th commissioners were directed to inquire in Surrey, Hertfordshire, and Middlesex what number of armed men could be got ready on a sudden alarm. But the king kept a particularly gay Christmas at Westminster, and his eldest niece, the intended bride of his rival, danced at court in apparel exactly similar to that of his own queen—a fact which gave rise to strange surmises. On Twelfth night following (6 Jan. 1485) he walked with the crown on his head in Westminster Hall. But on that very day he received information from beyond sea that his enemies would certainly