Page images

apparently professing to be son to an uncle of the Earl of March, a John Mortimer, who had suffered for the conspiracy of the Earl of Cambridge.

This would not have made him heir to the crown; but the Mortimers had become a favourite family since Beauforts had been dreaded as possibly next in the succession; and the men of Kent flocked eagerly around him, to the number of twenty thousand, whom he marshalled not unskilfully, by the help of his military knowledge. He put forth the demands of his followers in a proclamation, called The Complaint of the Commons of England.' It began with the absurd complaint that Kent was to be ravaged in vengeance for Suffolk’s death, and made into a royal forest, and then proceeded to various vexations and grievances through purveyors and sheriffs, distance of the sessions from their homes, and the exactions of the lawyers—all probably real, though petty, and to these were added, the monstrous story at the beginning, and the popular cry against the royal favourites, and the losses in France, to gain the public mind. Much does seem to have been amiss. Many small exactions were made by officers of the law, and as these were almost all clergymen of inferior situation, the clerical office, and indeed all educated men, were hated as oppressors, and the people were worked up into a terrible state of rage and fury.

At first the Court seems to have thought that the county magistrates could put down the riot, but when the insurgents were actually at Blackheath, in a camp entrenched with some skill, and the Captain of the Commons' had a regular correspondence with a draper in the city, who forced the Italian merchants there resident to tax themselves to supply armour to the rebels, the danger was felt to be imminent, an army of 15,000 men was assembled, and the King took the command.

Henry was beloved by all, and Cade could hardly have brought his men to fight against their sovereign in person ; while, on the other hand, he knew there was disaffection enough among the royal troops towards everyone except the King to make time important. So Cade fell back to a wood near Sevenoaks, leaving ambushes in case he should be pursued; and this deceived Henry, who returned, happy in believing that his subjects would not attack him, and sending on a body of men under Sir Humfrey Stafford, great-nephew to the Archbishop, to pursue the rebels and break them up. They fell into the ambush and were all cut off, and the Court remained in much anxiety, ignorant of their fate, and only knowing that Mortimer, as he called himself, had come back to Blackheath more triumphant and glorious than ever, and moreover that Bishop Ayscough of Salisbury, the King's confessor, had been dragged from the altar at Edington while officiating, and done to death, as being of the court party, but no doubt also to gratify an old grudge of Cade's.

The army was summoned to the field again; but there only came murmurs against fighting with fellow-countrymen, whose requests were not unreasonable after all, and a wish for the presence of the Duke of York, who was far away in Ireland. To satisfy these murmurers Henry consented to send to the Tower his chamberlain, Lord Say and Sele, and good old Archbishop Stafford offered to go in person to this camp of murderers, promise them the redress of their real grievances, and induce them to lay down their arms.

It was bravely done of him ; and with him went his kinsman, the Duke of Buckingham; but as they drew near the camp a mournful sight met them—the arms of their late friends decking the rebels, and Cade himself arrayed in Sir Humfrey Stafford's armour, set with gilt studs, and his gilt spurs.

No violence was attempted, and they were struck with Cade's ability. He refused to treat with anybody but the King, for whom he expressed infinite loyalty, nor would he lay down his arms till the ministers were dismissed and the government in the hands of the Duke of York; but if the King would come to Blackheath he would find a loyal army, ready to defend him, and choose his counsellors.

With this answer the Archbishop returned, and finding that the cry for York was echoed both in the army and in London, he advised that the King and Queen should place themselves out of reach of the rebels in Kenilworth Castle, while all the trustworthy troops were placed under the command of Lord Scales and Sir Matthew Gough in the Tower of London, whither the Archbishop accompanied them, willing to brave the fate of Simon of Sudbury, if thus he could save the country.

Cade, as an old soldier, did his best to preserve discipline, and beheaded one of his officers for disobedience ; and this encouraged the Lord Mayor and aldermen to admit him into London,-indeed, one who voted against so doing was imprisoned, and the gates were opened on the 1st of July, in a sort of expectation that he would bring back better days, and intimidate the hated French Queen into recalling the Duke of York.

As Cade crossed the drawbridge he cut the ropes with his sword, that it might not be treacherously raised behind him, set up his standard in Cheapside, and rode through the streets, causing proclamation to be made in the King's name that no one should take anything without paying for it. Riding up to what was called London Stone,—the memorial certainly of the Roman Londiniun, and in the eyes of the people of old, of the King Lud who was said to have built Ludgate, and to have been coeval with Brennus, this Celtic leader struck it with his sword, exclaiming, .Now is Mortimer Lord of London !

So far his conduct had been moderate, but, as with Rienzi and Massaniello, the culminating moment proved too much for his brain.

On the 3rd he came into London again, and sent for Lord Say from the Tower. How that nobleman came to be surrendered does not appear, but when he came to the Guildhall he was arraigned for treason, as well as the already murdered Bishop of Salisbury and Alice Chaucer, the widowed Duchess of Suffolk, who was fortunately out of reach.

Lord Say pleaded that he could be only tried by his peers, and as the Lord Mayor could make no answer to this, Cade took the law into his own hands, and caused the unfortunate minister to be taken to the standard at Cheapside and there beheaded. His son-in-law, Cromer, who was sheriff of Kent, was also beheaded at Mile End, and the heads of both were carried about on poles.

The monster mob was learning ferocity, and robbery set in. Cade even pillaged the house he had dined in, and Southwark was in a state of terror. It was said that everyone who had any knowledge of law, or even of grammar, who fell into their hands, was in danger. The aldermen saw that their reformer was a failure, and when Cade had returned to his camp, they concerted measures with the royal garrison in the Tower to prevent another ruffianly visit to London. The gates of London Bridge were closed, Lord Scales and Sir Matthew Gough brought their forces down, and there was a six hours' fight in the streets, in the course of which Gough, an old captain, commonly called by the French version of his name, Matagou, was killed; but when night came on the rebels found themselves worsted, and a truce was agreed upon.

Then the two Archbishops and Bishop Waynflete of Winchester offered themselves again to endeavour to appease the enemy. They met the ringleaders at St. Margaret's Church, received a paper of Cade's complaints, and offered pardon under the Great Seal to all who would return to their homes.

Cade accepted the pardon and retired, but in his camp at Blackheath he changed his mind, set up his standard, and tried to collect men to attack the City again; but the result of the last day's fight had dispirited his followers, and he could only fall back through Deptford to Rochester. There his men fell to quarrelling over the plunder; and he, in despair, mounted his horse and rode away. A proclamation was set forth placing a price of 1000 marks on his head; and the new sheriff of Kent, Alexander Iden, pursuing hotly after him, found him in a garden at Heyfield, and beheaded him at once. The deluded men of Kent crept home, and were for the most part unmolested, though a few ringleaders were tried and executed. So ended this strange brief rebellion.

The Queen, who never did understand English law, tried to obtain from an esquire of Sir John Fastolfe's an impeachment of his master for treason. She failed, and only added to the general dislike of her, though probably Fastolfe had been a well-wisher to the rebels, since he is known to have been a strong partizan of Glocester, and hater of the Court.

(To be continued.)




WINTRY winds and rains were sweeping over the English tents on the banks of the Marne, where Henry V. was besieging Meaux, then the stronghold of one of those terrible freebooters, who were always the offspring of a lengthened war. Jean de Gast, usually known as the Bastard de Vaurus, nominally was of the Armagnac or patriotic party, but in fact pillaged indiscriminately, especially capturing travellers on their way to Paris, and setting on their heads a heavy price, failing which he hung them upon the great elm tree in the market-place. The very suburbs of Paris were infested by the forays of this desperate routier, as such highway robbers were called; the supplies of provisions were cut off, and the citizens had petitioned King Henry that he would relieve them from so intolerable an enemy.

The King intended to spend the winter months with his queen in England, and at once attacked the place in October, hoping to carry it by a coup de main. He took the lower city, containing the market-place and several large convents, with no great difficulty; but the upper city, on a rising ground above the river, was strongly fortified, well victualled, and bravely defended, and he found himself forced to invest it, and make a regular siege, though at the expense of severe toil, and much sickness and suffering. Both his own prestige in France and the welfare of the capital depended on his success, and he had therefore fixed himself before Meaux, to take it at whatever cost.

The greater part of the army were here encamped, together with the chief nobles, March, Somerset, Salisbury, Warwick, and likewise the King of Scots. James had for a time had the command of the army which besieged and took Dreux while Henry was elsewhere engaged, but in general he acted as a sort of volunteer aide-de-camp to his brother king, and Malcolm Stewart of Glenuskie was always with him as his squire. A great change had come over Malcolm in these last few months. His feeble sickly boyhood seemed to have been entirely cast off, and the warm genial summer sun of France to have strengthened his frame and developed his powers. He had shot up suddenly to a fair height, had almost lost his lameness, and gained much more appearance of health and power of enduring fatigue. His nerves had become less painfully sensitive, and when after his first skirmish, during which he had kept close to King James, far too much terrified to stir an inch from him, he had not only found himself perfectly safe, but had been much praised for his valour, he had been so much pleased with himself that he quite wished for another occasion of displaying his bravery; and what with use, VOL. 7.


PART 37.

and what with the increasing spirit of pugnacity, he was as sincere as Ralf Percy in abusing the French for never coming to a pitched battle. Perhaps indeed Malcolm spoke even more eagerly than Ralf, in his own surprise and gratification at finding himself no coward, and his fear lest Percy should detect that he ever had been supposed to be such.

So far the King of Scots had succeeded in awakening martial fire in the boy, but he found him less the companion in other matters than he had intended. When at Paris, James would have taken him to explore the learned hoards of the already venerable University of Paris, where young James Kennedy-son to Sir James Kennedy of Dunure, and to Mary, an elder sister of the King-was studying with exceeding zeal. James and Dr. Bennet both were greatly interested in this famous abode of learning-the King indeed was already sketching out designs in his own mind for a similar institution in Scotland, designs that were destined to be carried out after his death by Kennedy; and Malcolm perforce heard many inquiries and replies, but he held aloof from friendship with his clerkly cousin Kennedy, and closed his ears as much as might be, hanging back as if afraid of returning to his books. There was in this some real dread of Ralf Percy's mockery of his clerkliness, but there was more real distaste for all that appertained to the past days that he now, despised.

The tide of vitality and physical vigour, so long deficient, had, when it had fairly set in, carried him away with it; and in the activity of body newly acquired, mental activity had well-nigh ceased. And therewith went much of the tenderness of conscience and devout habits of old. They dropped from him, sometimes for lack of time, sometimes from false shame, and by-and-by from very weariness and distaste. He was soldier now, and not monk—ay, and even the observances that such soldiers as Henry and James never failed in, and always enforced, were becoming a burthen to him. They wakened misgivings that he did not like, and that must wait till his next general shrift.

And Esclairmonde ? Out of her sight, Malcolm dreamt a good deal about her, but more as the woman, less as the saint; and the hopes, so low in her presence, burnt brighter in her absence as Malcolm grew in self-confidence and in knowledge of the world. He knew that when he parted with her he had been a miserable little wretch whom any woman would despise, yet she had shewn him a sort of preference ; how would it be when he returned to her, perhaps a knight, certainly a brave man like other men!

Of Patrick Drummond he had as yet heard nothing, and only believed him to be among the Scots who fought on the French side under the Earls of Buchan and Douglas. Indeed, James especially avoided places where he knew these Scots to be engaged, as Henry persisted in regarding them as rebels against him, and in hanging all who were made prisoners; nor had Malcolm, during the courtesies that always pass between the outposts of civilized armies, made much attempt to have any communication

« PreviousContinue »