To the High and Myghty Prince Richard Duc of Gloucester.
Please it youre Noble Grace to understande the Consideracon, Election and Peticion underwritten, of use the Lords Spirituelx and Temporelx, and Commons of this Reame of Englond, and thereunto agreably to geve your assent, to the common and public wele of this Lande, to the comforte and gladnesse of all the people of the same.
Furst, we considre how that heretofore in tyme passed, this Lande many years stode in great prosperite, honoure and tranquillite; which was caused, forsomoch as the Kings than reignyng, used and followed the advice and counsaill of certaine Lords Spirituelx and Temporelx, and othre personnes of approved sadnesse, prudence, policie and experience, dreding God, and havying tendre zele and affection to indifferent ministration of Justice, and to the common and politique wele of the Land; than oure Lord God was dred, luffed and honoured; than within the Land was peas and tranquillite, and among Neghbours concorde and charite; than the malice of outward Enemyes was myghtily resisted and repressed, and the Land honorably defended with many grete and glorious victories; than the entrecourse of Merchandizes was largely used and exercised: by which things above remembred, the Land was greatly enriched, soo that as wele the Merchants and Artificers, as other poure people, laborying for their livyng in diverse occupations, had competent gayne, to the sustentation of thaym and their households, livyng without miserable and intollerable povertie. But afterward, whan that such as had the rule and governaunce of this Land, delityng in adulation and flattery, and lede by sensuality and concupiscence, folowed the counsaill of personnes, insolent, vicious, and of inordinate avarice, despisyng the counsaill of good, vertuouse and prudent personnes, such as above be remembred; the prosperite of this Land daily decreased, soo that felicite was turned into miserie, and prosperite into adversite, and the ordre of polecye, and of the Lawe of God and Man, confounded; whereby it is likely this Reame to falle into extreme miserie and desolation, which God defende, without due provision of couvenable remedie bee had in this behalfe in all goodly hast.
Over this, amonges other things, more specially wee consider, howe that, the tyme of the Reigne of Kyng Edward the IIIIth , late decessed, after the ungracious pretensed Marriage, as all England hath cause soo to say, made betwixt the said King Edward, and Elizabeth, sometyme Wife to Sir John Grey Knight, late nameing herself and many years heretofore Quene of Englond, the ordre of all poletique Rule was perverted, the Lawes of God and of Gods Church, and also the Lawes of Nature and of Englond, and also the laudable Customes and Liberties of the same, wherein every Englishman in Inheritor, broken, subverted and contempned, against all reason and justice, soo that this Land was ruled by selfewill and pleasure, feare and drede, all manner of Equite and Lawes layd apart and despised, whereof ensued many inconvenients and mischiefs, as Murdres, Extorsions and Oppressions, namely of poore and impotent people, soo that no Man was sure of his Lif, Land ne Lyvelode, ne of his Wif, Doughter ne Servaunt, every good Maiden and Woman standing in drede to be ravished and defouled. And beides this, what Discords, inwarde Battailles, etfusion of Christian Mens Blode, and namely, by the destruction of the Blode of this Londe, was had and comitted within the same, it is evident and notarie thourough all this Reame, unto the great sorowe and hevynesse of all true Englishmen. And here also we considre, howe that the seid pretensed Mariage bitwixt the above named King Edward and Elizabeth Grey, was made of grete presumption, without the knowyng and assent of the Lords of this Lond, and also by Sorcerie and Wichecrafte, committed by the said Elizabeth, and her Moder Jaquett Duchesse of Bedford, as the common opinion of the people, and the publique voice and same is thorough all this Land; and herafter, if and as the caas shall require, shall bee proved sufficiently in tyme and place convenient. And here also we consider, howe that said pretensed Mariage was made privaly and secretely, without Edition of Banns, in a private Chamber, an prophane place, and not openly in the face of the Church, aftre the Lawe of Godds Churche, bot contrarie thereunto, and the laudable Custome of the Church of Englond. And howe also, that at the tyme of contract of the same pretensed Mariage, and bifore and longe tyme after, the seid King Edward was and stode maryed and trouth plight to oone Dame Elianor Butteler, Doughter of the old Earl of Shrewesbury, with whom the same King Edward had made a precontracte of Matrimonie, longe tyyme bifore he made the said pretensed Mariage with the said Elizabeth Grey, in maner and fourme abovesaid. Which premisses being true, as in veray trouth they been true, it appearreth and foloweth evidently, that the said King Edward duryng his lif, and the seid Elizabeth, lived together sinfully and dampnably in adultery, against the Lawe of God and of his Church; and therfore noo marivaile that the Souverain Lord and the head of this Land, being of such ungoldy disposicion, and provokyng the ire and indinacion of oure Lord God, such haynous mischieffs and inconvenients, as is above remembred, were used and comitted in the Reame amongs the Subjects. Also it appeareth evidently and followeth, that all th'Issue and Children of the seid King Edward, been Bastards, and unable to inherite or to clayme any thing by Inheritance, by the Lawe and Custome of Englond.
Moreover we considre, howe that afterward, by the thre Estates of this Reame assembled in a Parliament holden at Westminster, the XVIIth yere of the Regne of the said King Edward the IIIIth, he than being in possession of the Coroune and Roiall Estate, by an Acte made in the same Parliament, George Duc of Clarence, Brother to the said King Edward nowe decessed, was convicted and atteinted of High Treason; as in the same Acte is conteigned more at large. Bicause and by reason wherof, all the Issue of the said George, was and is dishabled and barred of all Right and Clayme, that in any wise they might have or chalenge by Enheritance, to the Crown and Dignite Roiall of this Reame, by the auncien Lawe and Custome of this same Reame.
Over this we cosidre, howe that Ye be the undoubted Son and Heire of Richard late Duke of Yorke, verray enheritour to the seid Crowne and Dignite Roiall, and as in right Kyng of Englond, by wey of Enheritaunce; and that at ths tyme, the premisses duely considered, there is noon other persoune lyvyng but Ye only, that by Right may clayme the said Coroune and Dignite Royall, by way of Enheritaunce, and howe that Ye be born withyn this Lande; by reason wherof, as we deme in oure myndes, Ye be more naturally enclyned to the prosperite and commen wele of the same; and all the thre Estatis of the Lande have, and may have, more certayn knowlage of youre Byrth and Filiation aboveseid. Wee considre also, the greate Wytte, Prudence, Justice, Princely Courage, and the memorable and laudable Acts in diverse Batalls, whiche as we by experience knowe Ye heretofore have done, for the salvacion and defence of this same Reame; and also the greate noblesse and excellence of your Byrth and Blode, as of hym that is descended of the thre moost Royall houses in Cristendom, that is to say, England, Fraunce, and Hispanic.
Wherfore, these premisses by us diligently considred, we desyryng effectuonsly the peas, tranquillite, and wele publique of this Lande, and the reduccion of the same to the auncien honourable estate and prosperite, and havyng in youre greate Prudence, Justice, Princely Courage, and excellent Vertue, singuler confidence, have chosen in all that that in us is, and by this our Wrytyng choise You, high and myghty Prynce, into oure Kyng and Soveraigne Lorde &c., to whom we knowe for certayn it apperteygneth of Enheritaunce soo to be chosen. And herupon we humbly desire, pray, and require youre seid Noble Grace, that, accordyng to this Eleccion of us the Thre Estates of this Lande, as by youre true Enherritaunce, Ye will accepte and take upon You the said Crown and Royall Dignite, with all thyngs therunto annexed and apperteynyng, as to You of Right bilongyng, as wele by Enherritaunce as by lawfull Eleccion; and, in caas Ye so do, we promitte to serve and to assiste your Highnesse, as true and feithfull Subgietts and Leigemen, and to lyve and dye with You in this matter, and every other juste quarrell. For certainly wee be determined, rather to aventure and committe us to the perill of oure lyfs and jopardye of deth, than to lyve in suche thraldome and bondage as we have lyved long tyme hertofore, oppressed and injured by Extorcions and newe Imposicons, agenst the Lawes of God and Man, and the Libertee, old Police, and Lawes of this Reame, wheryn every Englisshman is enherited. Oure Lorde God, Kyng of all Kyngs, by whos infynyte goodnesse and eternall providence all thyngs been pryncipally gouverned in this world, lighten youre soule, and graunt You grace to do, as well in this matier as in all other, all that that may be accordyng to his wille and pleasure, and to the comen and publique wele of this Lande; to that, after greate cloudes, troubles, stormes and tempestes, the Son of Justice and of Grace may shyne uppon us, to the comforte and gladnesse of all true Englishmen.
Albeit that the Right, Title, and Estate, whiche oure Souveraigne Lord the Kyng Richard the Third, hath to and in the Crown and Roiall Dignite of this Reame of Englond, with all thyngs therunto within the same Reame, and without it, united, annexed and apperteynyng, been juste and lawefull, as grounded upon the Lawes of God and of Nature, and also upon the auncien Lawes and laudable Customes of this said Reame, and so taken and reputed by all suche persounes as ben lerned in the abovesaid Lawes and Custumes. Yit neverthelesse, forasmoche as it is considred, that the most parte of the people of this Lande is not suffisantly lerned in the abovesaid Lawes and Custumes, wherby the trueth and right in this behalf of liklyhode may be hyd, and nat clerely knowen to all the people, and thereupon put in doubt and question. And over this, howe that the Courte of Parliament is of suche auctorite, and the people of this Lande of suche nature and disposicion, as experience teacheth, that manifestacion and declaration of any trueth or right, made by the Thre Estates of this Reame assembled in Parliament, and by auctorite of the same, maketh, before all other thyngs, moost seith and certaynte; and, quietyng mens myndes, remoeveth the occasion of all doubts and seditious langage. Therfore, at the request, and by assent of the Thre Estates of this Reame, that is to say, the Lordes Spirituelx and Temporalx, and Commens of this Lande, assembled in this present Parliament, by auctorite of the same, bee it pronounced, decreed, and declared, that oure said Soveraign Lorde the Kyng was, and is, veray and undoubted Kyng of this Reame of Englond, with all thyngs therunto withyn the same Reame, and without it, united, annexed and apperteyning, as well by right of Consanguinite and Enheritaunce, as by lawefull Elleccion, Consecration, and Coronacion. And over this, that, at the request, and by the assent and auctorite abovesaid, bee it ordeigned, enacted and establisshed, that the said Crown and Roaill Dignite of this Reame, and the Enheritaunce of the same, and other thyngs therunto within this same Reame, or withoute it, unite, annexed, and nowe apperteigning, rest and abyde in the persoune of oure said Soveraigne Lorde the Kyng, duryng his Lyff, and, after his Decesse, in his heires of his Body begotten. And in especiall, at the request, and by assent and auctorite abovesaid, bee it ordeigned, enacted, establed, pronounced, decreed, and declared, that the High and Excellent Prynce Edward, Son of oure said Soveraign Lorde the Kyng, be Heire Apparent of the same our Soveraign Lord the Kyng, to succede to hym in the abovesaid Crown and Roaill Dignite, with all thyngs as is aforesaid therunto unite, annexed and apperteigning; to have them after the Decesse of oure said Soveraign Lorde the Kyng, to hym and to his heires of his Body laufully begotten.