In England’s civil war the house of Lancaster was represented by the red rose and the house of York by the white rose. London opened its gates to Yorkists Warwick and Edward of March on February 27, 1461 while the Lancastrian Margaret went to York. On March 4 the citizens of London acclaimed the Earl of March as King Edward IV. He was nearly 19 years old and confirmed Warwick’s brother George Neville, Bishop of Exeter, as chancellor, Henry Bourchier as treasurer, and Warwick in various offices. On March 29 they fought the Lancastrian army of 20,000 at Towton during a snow storm. Heralds counted 28,000 dead from the battle, and afterward 42 Lancastrian knights were put to death. Warwick’s brother John Neville was made Lord Montagu. The Earl of Wiltshire was captured and beheaded while the dukes of Exeter and Somerset fled. Margaret and her son Edward escaped to Scotland and resided at a Dominican convent in Edinburgh. The Lancastrians surrendered Berwick to the Scots on April 25, but the citizens of Carlisle refused to submit. The Scots invaded the West March on June 12 and burned the suburbs of Carlisle, but Montagu raised the siege, killing an alleged 6,000 Scots.
On June 26 Lord Roos led a revolt by northerners at Ryton and Brancepeth, but Warwick helped Bishop Bothe defeat them. On that day the Parliament attainted Henry VI for nurturing war. Edward IV was crowned on June 28. He received the submission of the Yorkshire towns and issued commissions to arrest his enemies. Warwick served as mayor of the palace and was the military commander, and Westmorland was constable. Warwick and four out of five peers attended the first Parliament under Edward IV in November, and they passed a statute attainting 113 aristocrats and 96 knights or below for their fighting since 1459. On February 13, 1462 Warwick was commissioned to keep the sea safe for three years at £1,000 a year.
Queen Margaret had sent Somerset and Moleyns in July 1461 to France to ask for aid from the dying Charles VII. She went to Brittany in April 1462 and was welcomed by François II. In May she visited her father at Angers and Piers de Brézé. On June 23 at Chinon she offered Calais to France’s new King Louis XI for a loan of 20,000 livres. However, the merchants of Staples loaned Edward IV £41,000 so that he could pay their wages at Calais. He sent seventy ships with 12,000 men to raid the coast from Le Conquet to Bordeaux. Brézé loaned Margaret 1,000 crowns to pay 2,000 French, and they sailed for Northumberland; but Edward’s forces pushed them back to sea where a storm dispersed their fleet. She and her allies used the Northumbrian castles of Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh, and Alnwick. Bamburgh had surrendered after the battle at Towton, but William Tunstall turned it over to his Lancastrian brother Richard Tunstall in autumn 1462. Margaret landed near there on October 25 with Brézé and the French troops on forty ships, but people did not rise up to join her few French allies. She departed with her army by sea on November 13; but they were shipwrecked at Lindisfarne. About 400 Frenchmen were eventually captured, but Margaret escaped.
Warwick from Warkworth began besieging the three castles on December 10. He had about 10,000 men overwhelming Somerset’s 300 defenders, and Dunstanburgh surrendered on December 27. Ralph Percy was given custody of Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh, but in March 1463 he let the French and the Scots take them back. Ralph Grey resented not being appointed governor of Alnwick, and in May he gave it to the Lancastrian Hungerford. Henry VI reigned over a small area from Bamburgh.
No grant for defense was made until the Parliament of 1463 appropriated £37,000. Edward IV sent envoys to meet with the Burgundians and French at St. Omer on June 24. In early July young James III of Scotland led a large army across the border and besieged Norham castle. Henry VI, Margaret, and Brézé were back at Bamborough, and she appealed to Philippe of Burgundy, who gave her 1,000 crowns. Yet he and the French still agreed to a truce with the English, and both sides promised not to help the other’s enemies. England and Burgundy also extended their commercial treaty to November 1464. Bishop Kennedy’s Scottish envoys met Edward at York, and on December 9 they agreed to a truce.
For one year Edward IV tried to be reconciled with Duke Henry Beaufort of Somerset, but on Christmas in 1463 Somerset started a rebellion by going to Alnwick. Warwick was named to judicial commissions in eight counties on January 25, 1464 and to twelve more on February 8. He sent Montagu north to escort Scottish commissioners to York. On the way he fought the Lancastrian army at Hegeley Moor. The Scots promised not to shelter the Lancastrians, and the English agreed to stop arming the earls of Ross and Douglas who were fighting the Scotch regency.
Finally the Lancastrians were defeated at Hexham on May 15, 1464. Montagu executed Somerset, Edmund FitzHugh, Lord Roos, Lord Hungerford, and Philip Wentworth. Roos and some others had been spared at Bamburgh in 1462. Six others were put to death on May 18, and Constable John Tiptoft of Worcester executed fourteen more captives the next week. Montagu was rewarded with the earldom of Northumberland. On June 11 Edward agreed to a 15-year truce with Scotland. On June 23 Warwick ordered the castle at Alnwick to surrender, and the garrison had their lives spared. Dunstanburgh gave up the next day. Grey and Humphrey Neville held out at Bamburgh because Warwick would not pardon them. The royal guns made a breach, and they took it by assault. Grey was tried by Worcester and was beheaded on July 10.
Meanwhile on May 1, 1464 Edward IV had married Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with two sons; but they kept it secret until the Council forced him to reveal it on September 4. Warwick was trying to arrange a royal marriage with Bona of Savoy, but that upset Philippe of Burgundy. Louis XI was worried after Bishop George Neville of Exeter negotiated the peace treaty with Scotland at York. Warwick would not meet with Louis, and Edward sent Warwick to Burgundy. Louis tried to seize the ambassadors of François II coming back from England, but that failed. George Neville became archbishop of York on September 23, and six days later Elizabeth Woodville was crowned queen. Philippe prohibited the import of English cloth for a time, but on October 27 England and Burgundy renewed their mercantile agreement.
On May 8, 1465 Edward IV sent an embassy led by Warwick, Hastings, and Wenlock to negotiate peace and commerce with Louis XI of France, Count Charles of Charolais, and François II of Brittany. By the end of the year Edward had bad relations with Louis. Warwick objected to the proposals that Charles should marry Edward IV’s sister, Margaret of York, or that Mary of Burgundy should marry Edward’s brother, Duke George of Clarence. On March 22, 1466 Edward sent the same three envoys to Burgundy and France. Warwick met Charles on April 15, and then at Calais he agreed to a truce with France until 1468. Louis promised not to aid the Lancastrians if Edward would not help Charles or François of Brittany. Louis was willing to pay Edward 40,000 gold crowns a year as long as he kept that agreement, and he would provide a dowry for Margaret of York to marry a prince.
Charles was afraid that France and England would unite against Burgundy, and so on October 23 he made a secret treaty of mutual assistance with Edward. On May 6, 1467 Edward commissioned Warwick and Wenlock to meet Louis, and on May 28 they sailed from Sandwich with the returning French ambassadors. The breach between Edward and Warwick widened in 1467. Parliament began on June 3, and Chancellor George Neville, Archbishop of York, was absent. He was dismissed on June 8 and replaced by Bishop Robert Stillington of Bath. The Commons warned the King about the increase in murders and riots, urging strong law enforcement.
Charles succeeded his father Philippe as Duke of Burgundy on June 15 and agreed to a thirty-year commercial treaty with England on November 24. A treaty calling for the marriage of Edward IV’s sister Margaret to Duke Charles was signed at Brussels on February 16, 1468, and Edward ratified it on March 14; but he had to raise a dowry of 200,000 gold crowns (£41,666), and that delayed the wedding until July 3. On August 3 Edward agreed to send 3,000 archers to the Duke of Brittany. England had a treaty with Castile and made one with Juan II of Aragon on October 20. As Edward’s policy toward France became more hostile in 1468, Warwick moved away from him. That year the Danes seized four English ships going to Danzig. Warwick and others blamed the Hanseatic League, and he asked the Council to retaliate. Neville persuaded Edward, and on July 29 the Steelyard was closed. Hansa merchants were arrested, and the English demanded that the Germans pay £20,000 compensation. Only men from Cologne complied, and the others were returned to prison. Thomas Hungerford and Henry Courtenay lost their lives in November for having plotted against Edward.
Louis XI offered Holland and Zealand to Warwick, and in 1469 the Earl began planning to remove Edward IV. Robin Redesdale led a rebellion against taxes and raised troops in April, and Edward marched against them in June. The Commons had granted £62,000 for an invasion of France that summer. A rumor spread that Edward was illegitimate and that George of Clarence was the true heir of Duke Richard of York. Warwick operated from Sandwich, and George of Clarence went there in June, followed by Archbishop George Neville and Bishop Thomas Kemp of London. Edward ordered a thousand suits of armor and had his artillery mobilized. By July 9 he knew that Warwick, Clarence, and the Archbishop of York were plotting against him.
Warwick crossed to Calais, and on July 11 the Archbishop of York sanctioned the wedding of Isabel Neville to Duke George of Clarence. The next day the conspirators circulated Redesdale’s manifesto with an open letter calling for armed men to meet at Canterbury on July 16. Warwick returned to England and on July 20 left Canterbury marching with a large force to London. On July 25 Redesdale’s rebels met the combined Welsh forces of Earl William Herbert of Pembroke and Earl Humphrey Stafford of Devon. William and his brother Richard Herbert were defeated by the revolt, and Warwick had both beheaded at Northampton. About 2,000 Welsh retainers were killed.
Warwick’s forces defeated Edward IV’s army at Edgecote on July 26. Earl Rivers and his two sons abandoned Edward, who was taken by Archbishop George Neville to Olney in Buckinghamshire. Edward signed whatever Warwick told him to sign, but the lack of legitimate authority resulted in rioting in London. The Lancastrian Humphrey Neville of Brancepeth revolted along the northern border, and no one would go fight them as long as Edward was a prisoner. Earl Rivers and John Woodville were captured and executed on August 12. John Langstrother replaced Rivers as treasurer. A Parliament was summoned to meet at York on September 22, but Warwick tried to cancel it because of disorder in the kingdom. The Duke of Norfolk besieged Caister castle, and John Paston surrendered. After Warwick let Edward appear in public at York and Pontefract, forces were raised that captured Humphrey Neville, who was executed before Edward on September 29. Edward gathered his friends together and returned to London for a series of Council meetings from November to February 1470. They put aside grievances, agreed to peace, and transferred the Welsh offices of Warwick to Richard of Gloucester.
Earl Warwick and Clarence were distant in the north. Warwick demanded safety and declined to go to London until December. Discontent in Lincolnshire led by Richard Welles developed into rebellion, and on March 4, 1470 he had a summons to arms by Warwick and Clarence published in all Lincolnshire churches. Six days later an uprising began in Yorkshire led by Lord Scrope of Bolton, John Conyers, and Lord Fitzwater. When Welles was captured, Edward IV learned of these and summoned them to answer charges. On March 24 he issued a proclamation against Warwick and Clarence, giving them four days to appear before him to have his favor, or they would be treated as traitors with a reward for their capture. Edward marched to Salisbury by April 25 and named 53 men as rebels who were to have their lands seized.
Warwick and Clarence fled to Calais, raiding Southampton on the way, but on April 16 at Calais Warwick’s deputy, Lord Wenlock, fired guns at his fleet. Edward rewarded Wenlock by making him lieutenant of Calais. Four days later Warwick attacked a Flemish convoy and captured sixty Burgundian ships, throwing the crews into the sea, and this was reported to Duke Charles of Burgundy. Warwick continued to raid Dutch ships in May and even attacked the Burgundian fleet at Sluys before making it to Honfleur.
On June 11 Burgundy’s fleet led by Henrik van Borselen was ready to join Edward’s navy led by John Howard. Charles informed Louis XI that he would attack Warwick and Clarence on land and sea, and he accused Louis of violating the treaty of Peronne. Warwick and Clarence met with Louis in the Loire valley, and they planned how to recover England by restoring Henry VI with a navy, soldiers, and money provided by Louis. Warwick promised an alliance with Burgundy, but a Burgundian fleet demanded the English surrender their goods. Queen Margaret would not go with Warwick, who on July 22 at Angers begged her to pardon him for the injuries he had done to her. She did so, and they swore to be allies until death. On July 25 her son Edward was betrothed to his daughter Anne Neville, and they married in December.
Warwick, Clarence, and the earls of Pembroke and Oxford issued a Lancastrian proclamation at Exeter in September. Lord Stanley joined Warwick, and by the time they reached Coventry they had 30,000 men. Montagu was angry that Edward had not given him Northumberland, and he urged his troops to join Warwick too. Edward fled east and crossed over to Burgundy on October 2. Warwick’s Kentish supporters headed toward London and began robbing Flemish and Dutch merchants. Warwick, Clarence, Shrewsbury, and Stanley entered London on October 6. They conducted Henry VI from the Tower, and he was presented as King to the citizens at St. Paul’s. He was king for another six months but did not really exercise any power.
George Neville had become Chancellor, and John Langstrother returned as treasurer on October 18. Warwick was made the King’s lieutenant and resumed his positions as chamberlain of England and captain of Calais with a personal guard of 500. He was also appointed the justice of peace in every county. Earl John de Vere was found guilty of treason and was executed on October 19. Chancellor George Neville opened Parliament on November 26 and declared Henry VI the king. They reversed the attainders of the Lancastrian lords. Edward IV was proclaimed a usurper and was attainted with his brother Richard of Gloucester. Warwick was made protector of the realm. On February 12, 1471 England declared war on Burgundy, provoking Charles to loan Edward £20,000 and ships.
Edward IV with a force of 1,200 soldiers embarked in 36 ships at Flushing on March 2 and returned to England, and he was welcomed at York on March 18. His forces marched to Coventry where they met Warwick’s army, and Edward even stayed in Warwick’s castle. Edward offered to fight him at Coventry, but Warwick declined. On April 3 a Yorkist rearguard defeated Exeter and Beaumont at Leicester, but the rebels got through to Coventry, where they were joined by Montagu and the Earl of Oxford. However, on that day Clarence decided to return to the side of his brother Edward and brought with him 4,000 men. Edward left for London on April 5 and entered the capital six days later. He had Henry VI put in the Tower with his custodian, the Archbishop of York. Warwick learned that Louis had made a truce with Burgundy, and he realized that neither France nor Queen Margaret would help him.
The two armies met at Barnet. On April 14 Warwick’s smaller force was defeated, and he and nearly 2,000 Lancastrians were killed. That day Queen Margaret and her son Edward arrived at Weymouth. Edward IV’s army defeated her forces at Tewkesbury on May 4, and Prince Edward was killed. King Edward IV returned to London early in the morning on May 21, a few hours after Henry VI was murdered in the Tower, probably by Duke Richard of Gloucester. Fauconberg surrendered his fleet to Richard of Gloucester on May 27. Margaret was transferred to the dowager Duchess of Suffolk at Wallingford where she was held until her cousin Louis XI ransomed her from Edward in 1475 after they made the treaty of Picquigny. She died in Anjou on August 20, 1482.
Duke Richard of Gloucester was made chamberlain on May 18, 1471 at the age of 19, and Edward IV granted him a generous land apanage. The King pardoned Fauconberg on June 10, but he clashed with Gloucester and was captured and beheaded in September. Three of his captains who attacked London also lost their heads, and on May 29 the rebel mayor Nicholas Faunt was hanged. Lord Hastings with 1,500 men took over the garrison of Calais from Earl Rivers in July. The Parliament passed only thirteen sentences of attainder, and at least six were no longer alive. They reversed 23 attainders from 1472-75. Edward proclaimed a general pardon in October for several hundred people. He granted the forfeited estates of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, to his brother Gloucester in December. Their brother George of Clarence was married to Isabel Neville, daughter of Warwick, and he was suspected of treachery; but he retained the lieutenancy of Ireland, and on March 18, 1472 he received the forfeited lands of the Courtenays in Devon and Cornwall while Gloucester got Warwick’s estates in the north. The next week Clarence was made Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, and Richard resigned as chamberlain for Clarence’s sake.
Edward had relieved Gloucester of responsibility in Wales by appointing justiciars for North and South Wales in 1471, and he declared his six-month-old son Edward Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on June 26 and Duke of Cornwall on July 17.
Edward also suspected Clarence because his wife’s relative, George Neville, Archbishop of York, was involved in a treasonable conspiracy and was arrested on April 25, 1472. His treasure was confiscated, and jewels were used to make a new crown for Edward. When Gloucester married his 16-year-old sister-in-law Anne Neville on July 12, Clarence became even more upset. In November 1473 John Paston reported that Clarence was dangerous. In May 1474 the Parliament recognized the right and titles of the two dukes, and on February 23, 1475 they barred any claims by heirs of Montagu to Warwick’s inheritance.
The Earl of Oxford had escaped to France after the battle of Barnet, and he landed in Essex on May 28, 1473; but he retreated from the army led by the Earl of Essex and Lord Dinham and Duras. When the Parliament opened in October, Oxford with eighty men invaded the coast of Cornwall and occupied St. Michael’s Mount. Edward IV sent John Fortescue in December with pardons for all but Oxford, his brothers, and Lord Beaumont. They submitted on February 1, 1474 and were detained in Hammes castle with George Neville, Archbishop of York. Oxford and his two brothers were attainted and lost their lands. George Neville was pardoned on November 11, 1475 but died on June 8, 1476.
In March 1472 Duke François II of Brittany asked Edward for 6,000 archers, and he sent 1,000 with Earl Rivers and Edward Woodville. Fearing an alliance between Brittany and Burgundy, Louis XI attacked the former. The English aid helped the Bretons fight off the invasion, and the French withdrew in early August. Edward sent 2,000 more archers who got to Brittany in September. Rivers negotiated an alliance with Brittany for an attack on France, and they signed the Treaty of Chateaugiron on September 11. Edward told Parliament he intended to invade France in October; but by the time the Commons granted war taxation on November 30, Brittany withdrew from the alliance. Edward sent envoys to meet with Duke Charles of Burgundy at Ghent in January, 1473, but they made little progress. So on March 22 Edward agreed to a truce with Louis until April 1474; but he did not tell Parliament so that he could get more war taxes. Parliament granted the fifteenth and tenth in spring 1473; but it was not collected until the Commons authorized it and gave the King until June 24, 1476 to embark for France. They added £51,147, making the total £118,625.
On October 26, 1473 Edward’s 4-year-old daughter Cecily was betrothed to 2-year-old Prince James of Scotland, and her father promised a dowry of 20,000 marks. English and Hanseatic merchants agreed to a commercial treaty at Utrecht on February 28, 1474. Charles of Burgundy finally accepted an alliance against France and signed a treaty at London on July 25. He promised to equip a force of 10,000, and both promised not to negotiate with Louis XI. Edward still owed Charles 85,000 crowns for Margaret of York’s dowry, and he promised to pay installments.
In August 1474 King Edward sent Falcon Herald to demand that France surrender Guyenne and Normandy or face war. Between November 1474 and March 1475 Edward accepted “benevolent gifts” from wealthy subjects. In May the English made a friendship treaty with Christian I of Denmark and renewed their alliance with Castile and Aragon. On May 16 François of Brittany committed to sending 8,000 troops against France, but he never ratified the treaty and did not participate in the war. Edward gathered an army of 11,451 troops, some of whom were brought by his brothers George of Clarence and Richard of Gloucester with a few more from the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk and the Earl of Northumberland. Charles provided 500 ships, and it took them three weeks to cross to Calais. Charles showed up there with a small bodyguard on July 14, 1475. Edward marched his army toward St. Quentin which the Count of St. Pol was going to surrender. Louis was at Beauvais on July 27 with 6,000 men who marched to Compiegne while Edward and Charles went to Péronne. Charles stayed in his town but would not let the English inside the gates. St. Pol went back on his word, and Charles left on August 12 to find his army. The French and English armies camped near Amiens, and on August 25 Louis provided food and free wine for the English soldiers.
Edward IV and Louis XI met at Picquigny and on August 29 agreed to a treaty that called for a seven-year truce with free trade and arbitration by the archbishops of Canterbury and Leon, the Duke of Clarence, and the Count of Dunois. Louis was to pay Edward 75,000 crowns (£15,000) to remove his army from France and 50,000 crowns every year for the duration of their lives. Louis also paid Lord Hastings 2,000 crowns a year, Lord Howard and Thomas Montgomery 1,200 each, Chancellor Rotherham 1,000, and Dr. John Morton 600 crowns a year. The Dauphin Charles was to marry Edward’s daughter Elizabeth, and Louis was to provide an annual jointure of £50,000. The ransom for Margaret of Anjou was set at 50,000 crowns, and she returned to France in January 1476. When he returned to England, Edward remitted three-quarters of the fifteenth and tenth that was being collected.
William Caxton established the first printing press in England in 1477 and printed Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers translated by Earl Anthony Rivers. In the next two years Caxton also printed his translations of Christine de Pizan’s Moral Proverbs and Cordyale.
In 1485 Caxton also published what some consider the first prose masterpiece in English, Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory. The birth-date of the author is not known, but Thomas fought at Calais under Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. His father had been a member of Parliament in Warwickshire, and in 1442 Thomas became a member of Parliament also, making him a knight. In 1451 he was charged with several crimes; but he pleaded not guilty, and Henry VI released him. Malory was imprisoned again in 1456 and 1460. He was on the Lancastrian side in the civil war and was imprisoned for sedition in 1468. There he apparently completed his Le Morte d’Arthur in Edward IV’s 9th year (1469). Malory died on March 14, 1471. He translated various French and English romances, combining them in his Le Morte d’Arthur, which portrayed the age of chivalry through the story of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. Earlier versions of these tales are discussed in Volume 6: Medieval Europe 610-1250. Malory recounts the stories of Uther Pendragon and his son Arthur, who married Guinevere. The knights emphasized are Lancelot and his son Galahad.
Duke George of Clarence’s wife Isabel died in December 1476, and he suspected she had been poisoned by her lady-in-waiting Ankarette Twynho and her servant John Thursby. On April 12, 1477 two of the Duke’s men broke into Twynho’s house and seized her and Thursby. They were immediately tried before a coerced jury and were hanged before Edward could intervene. On May 12 King Edward appointed a commission to try for conspiracy the astrologers John Stacey and Thomas Blake for having predicted by horoscopes his and his son’s deaths. Thomas Burdett of Clarence’s household was also arrested for having usurped the King’s authority in the trial of Twynho. Stacey and Burdett were hanged at Tyburn on May 20, and Clarence protested the verdicts at a Council meeting. Edward grew increasingly suspicious of his brother Clarence and had him arrested in late June. George was attainted by Parliament in January 1478 and was sentenced to death on February 7. According to rumor Clarence was drowned in wine in the Tower on February 18 to avoid a public execution.
English envoys signed a commercial treaty with Burgundy at Lille on July 12, 1478. On December 18 they renewed the treaty, and England made a secret treaty of alliance with Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian. The year 1479 was a year of plague, and King Edward avoided London. In early 1479 Bishop Morton of Ely warned Bishop of Elne that if France would not agree to extend the truce, England would break relations and make an alliance with Maximilian. Elne signed, but Louis renounced it later. In early August 1480 Maximilian made another treaty with Edward and promised to pay him his annual pension of 50,000 crowns if Louis refused, and Philippe of Burgundy was to marry Edward’s daughter Anne. Louis did not make the payment in September, and he urged the Scots to fight England. In March when Edward promised to use his army against Scotland, the King of France agreed to resume paying Edward his pension which was brought to London on August 14. The King of England also wanted his son Edward to marry Anne of Brittany, and that was part of an agreement for mutual military aid made in spring 1481.
Edward’s planned invasion of Scotland was postponed; but Scots were raiding and pillaging south of the border, and the Duke of Gloucester besieged Berwick. Early in 1480 Edward sent Alexander Legh to demand reparations for violations of the truce and to warn them there could be war. He demanded that James III of Scotland surrender Berwick and hand over his son as security for the marriage with his daughter Cecily. On May 12 Edward appointed his brother Richard of Gloucester lieutenant-general, and on June 20 commissions to defend the border were issued in Yorkshire, Cumberland, and Northumberland. That summer the Earl of Angus raided the East March and burned Bamborough, and Gloucester and Northumberland retaliated with a counter-raid. The exiled Earl of Douglas was paid to win over Scots but had little success. Edward raised money for the war against Scotland.
Duke Alexander of Albany, the brother of James III, came to England in April 1482. Edward offered to support him as king of Scotland if he would recognize the English right to Berwick. Edward announced he would lead the army and arrived at Fotheringhay with Albany on June 3, but he changed his mind and renewed Gloucester’s command nine days later. For the first time a courier system was set up with riders at twenty-mile intervals so that the King could be kept informed by messengers. An English army of about 20,000 gathered in July. The town of Berwick capitulated, but the citadel held out. The Scotch army moved south from Edinburgh; but King James was captured on July 22, and many of his courtiers were hanged. Gloucester left the siege of Berwick and burned towns on the way to Edinburgh, which capitulated to him by the end of July.
Gloucester marched to Haddington and demanded Berwick castle and all the money Edward had paid for Cecily’s dowry; but he did not demand that James abdicate because the Scots did not favor Albany, who renounced his claim to the throne in exchange for his previous position and property. On August 4 leaders in Edinburgh agreed that the son of James would marry Cecily if Edward wished, or they would repay the dowry payments already made. Margaret, the sister of James, was to marry Earl Rivers. Gloucester then went back to Berwick on August 11, and all but 1,700 of his troops disbanded. Berwick castle finally surrendered on August 24, and the defenders were allowed to leave with their possessions. An English garrison secured the castle. Edward decided to call off Cecily’s marriage to Prince James in October, and he demanded the dowry back.
After France and Burgundy made the Treaty of Arras on December 23, 1482 that excluded England and Brittany, Louis stopped paying Edward his pension. Parliament met on January 20, 1483 and rewarded Gloucester by making him and his heirs the wards of the West Marches, Carlisle castle, and crown territories in Cumberland County. On February 11 Albany made a new agreement with Edward that he would try to gain the throne of Scotland, and the English army would contribute 3,000 archers and more if needed. Edward also promised to send 4,000 archers to Brittany. Parliament granted a fifteenth and a tenth for defense with exemptions for Yorkshire, Cumberland, Northumberland, and Westmorland. On February 18 a tax on aliens was passed, but merchants from Spain, Brittany, the Hansa towns, and Italy were exempted. On March 19 Albany renounced his treaty with England, and James III formally forgave his brother, who gave up his lieutenant-general position and promised to get a peace treaty with England. Edward IV became ill in late March and died on April 9.
Richard of Gloucester was born on October 2, 1452. He was the youngest son of Duke Richard Plantagenet of York and the brother of Edward IV. King Edward made him duke of Gloucester in 1461, gave him lands of defeated Lancastrians, and appointed him commissioner for the Western Counties in 1464. He was in the custody of the powerful Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, from late 1465 until at least 1468. On August 26, 1470 Richard became warden of the west marches near Scotland. When Warwick conspired against Edward IV, Richard went with his brother Edward to the Burgundian court on October 2, 1470, one year after he had been made constable of England. He became chief steward and chamberlain of Wales, and on May 18, 1471 Richard succeeded Warwick as chamberlain and lord high admiral of England. That year he served on several commissions in the north, and he resigned his offices in Wales. In February 1475 Richard was appointed sheriff of Cumberland for life. He was portrayed as a villain in Shakespeare’s Richard III; but Thomas More wrote that he opposed the execution of his brother George of Clarence in 1478, though it did make him the wealthiest landowner in England. That year Richard established a college at Middleham.
Edward IV’s latest will named Richard as protector of 12-year-old Edward V, and Chamberlain Hastings urged Richard to secure the young King. Richard sent a letter of condolence to Queen Elizabeth and the Council, asking for confirmation of his position. The Woodvilles wanted Edward crowned on May 4, but Richard and Duke Henry Stafford of Buckingham had Earl Richard Woodville of Rivers arrested on April 30. They went to Edward, and Richard told him that his life was threatened and that he must remove the conspirators. Edward objected but acquiesced, and Thomas Vaughan and Richard Grey were also arrested as most of the royal escort was dismissed to their homes. Rivers and Grey were kept under guard until they were beheaded on June 25. Richard sent letters justifying his actions. The Queen took sanctuary at Westminster with the Marquis of Dorset and her brother Lionel, Bishop of Salisbury.
On May 4 Richard of Gloucester, Buckingham, and Edward V entered London. The Council confirmed Richard as protector and named him defender of the realm with the power of a king. Bishop John Russell of Lincoln replaced Rotherham as chancellor, and the humanist John Gunthorp became keeper of the privy seal. On May 15 Buckingham was given extraordinary power in the western counties of Shropshire, Hereford, Somerset, and Dorset, and he was appointed chief justice and chamberlain of North and South Wales. Edward’s coronation was put off until June 22, and Parliament was summoned to meet on June 25. When a Council committee met on June 13, Richard accused Hastings, Rotherham, Morton, and Stanley of plotting with the Woodvilles against him. Three were detained, and Chamberlain Hastings was charged with treason and was immediately put to death.
Bishop Stillington told Richard that Edward IV’s children by Elizabeth Woodville were bastards because Edward had been engaged to Eleanor Butler before his marriage. On June 22 Friar Ralph Sha preached outside St. Paul’s cathedral that Edward IV had a previous contract and that Richard was entitled to be king. On June 25 the lords and commons met as an assembly and petitioned the Protector to take over the crown. The next day at Baynard’s castle Buckingham read the petition, and Richard accepted and went to Westminster Hall where he sat on the throne and began his reign. He was crowned Richard III on July 6, and his wife Anne became queen. They endowed King’s College and Queen’s College at Cambridge and donated to the Church. Richard had an income of at least £35,000 a year.
During the summer Richard III learned of a movement in the west to rescue Edward IV’s sons Edward and Richard of York from the Tower. The two boys were never seen again, and King Richard was suspected of having them put to death. By October 11 Richard knew that Buckingham was involved in the plot against him, and four days later Richard proclaimed him a rebel. The insurrection began on October 18, and the Duke of Norfolk stopped the rebels coming from Surrey and Kent at Gravesend. The royal army gathered at Leicester, and the King went to Coventry on October 24 to block Buckingham from uniting with the rebels in the south and east. Bishop Morton and other leaders defected from Buckingham’s cause, and a servant turned Buckingham in to the sheriff of Shropshire. He was tried by his deputy Ralph Assheton and beheaded in Salisbury on November 2. Richard did not take revenge against the Woodvilles. He forgave the bishops of Ely and Exeter, but they had to forfeit their temporal possessions. He also compensated those who lost goods during the rebellion. The Parliament scheduled for November 6 was postponed to January 23, 1484. The Parliament declared Richard’s son Edward of Middleham the heir apparent. The customs tax which had brought in an average of £47,000 under Henry IV was down to about £20,000 under Richard III.
On Christmas Day in 1483 Earl Henry Tudor of Richmond agreed to marry Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth in Brittany. Richard ordered all Breton goods in London seized, and he sent envoys offering François of Brittany the revenues of Richmond if he would give up Henry. Bishop Morton in Flanders warned Henry, who got permission to enter France and went to Anjou. Richard sent Bishop Thomas Langton as an ambassador to France in March, but Charles VIII would not agree to a truce, especially after England and Brittany made a truce in June. Richard made peace with Scotland by agreeing to a three-year truce at Nottingham on September 11, but a proposed marriage between his niece Anne de la Pole to James III’s son never happened. On November 17, 1484 the French Council granted 3,000 livres to Henry for troops.
Richard’s son Edward had died in April 1484, and Queen Anne died on March 16, 1485. Richard designated John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, as his heir, and he became the first president of the council of the north. Henry Percy was warden-general of the Marches with Lord Dacre as his lieutenant in the west March. Richard had been expecting an invasion by Richmond since the spring of 1484. Prominent people were going to France, and many were prosecuted for treason. The Earl of Oxford was imprisoned near Calais, but he was allowed to escape and taken to Richmond by James Blount. Richard moved to Nottingham, and on June 22, 1485 he had his county commissioners proclaim Henry Tudor and his collaborators attainted as outlaws by Parliament.
Henry Tudor crossed the channel with 2,000 men in August to Dale and marched to Haverfordwest. He gained support and reached Shrewsbury which surrendered. King Richard kept Stanley’s son as a hostage, and he advanced to Bosworth Market on August 22 with about 10,000 men, twice as many as Henry had. On that day Norfolk was killed, and Northumberland had to watch Stanley. Richard led an assault trying to kill Henry, and then he attacked the Tudors with his reserve. Stanley turned against him, and Richard and his bodyguard were destroyed.
Henry Tudor was descended from the kings of France and England. His grandfather Owain Tudor married Henry V’s widow Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI of France. Their son Edmund, Earl of Richmond, married Margaret, daughter of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, who was the grandson of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress Katherine Swynford. Margaret at the age of 14 gave birth to Henry on January 28, 1457 at Pembroke castle in western Wales. His father Edmund had died on November 1, 1456, and Margaret married Henry Buckingham in 1457. In 1461 the Yorkist William Herbert became the Earl of Pembroke and guardian of Margaret and her son Henry. In 1470 Jasper Tudor presented his nephew Henry at the court of the briefly restored Henry VI, son of his grandmother Catherine; but when Edward IV regained the throne the next year, young Henry fled to Brittany. Duke François II of Brittany gave Henry and Jasper a home, hoping to use the Tudors in his struggle with France’s Louis XI.
In February 1482 Edward IV promised François of Brittany 4,000 archers if he would surrender Henry and Jasper Tudor, but Edward died the next year. After Richard III seized the throne in 1483, two conspiracies organized against him. One of these was led by Margaret Beaufort and Elizabeth Woodville, who promised Henry Tudor that her daughter Elizabeth would marry him after Richard was removed. When Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, turned against King Richard, Henry Tudor asked Duke François to support his expedition to England. By the fall of 1483 rebels were organizing in nine places in southern England. Buckingham was captured on October 30 and was executed three days later at Salisbury. The southern rebels fled or were captured. Henry had gathered a fleet of about fifteen ships with 5,000 men and crossed the channel in foul weather in November. About five hundred senior Yorkists had joined Henry. He announced at Christmas that he would marry Dorset’s half sister, Elizabeth of York, after he became king. In Rennes cathedral he received oaths of allegiance, and his mother Margaret provided funds so that the exiles could pass through France to Brittany. When Richard demanded that the Duke of Brittany surrender Henry, he escaped to Anjou.
The French feared Richard III and provided Henry Tudor with 4,000 troops and 40,000 livres. James Blount declared for Henry and released the Earl of Oxford from Calais, and Oxford became Henry’s top advisor. In November 1484 Henry claimed to be the Lancastrian king in exchange for money he received from France. When Richard III did not send English support for Brittany, France no longer needed Henry, who began accepting personal loans in Paris. Charles VIII did allow him to recruit French mercenaries.
On August 1, 1485 Henry led an army of 2,000 men in seven ships from the mouth of the Seine, and they landed in Mill Bay on August 7 to invade western Wales. The leaders Rhys ap Thomas and Rhys Fawr brought over many Welsh to Henry’s side. At Shrewsbury messengers from William Stanley persuaded the mayor to open the gates. Henry met with Stanley at Stafford; but Richard had taken his son Lord Strange hostage. During the battle on August 21 at Bosworth the French pikes withstood the cavalry charge led by Richard. Stanley’s forces went over to Henry’s side, and Richard and his bodyguards were killed. Henry Tudor put on his crown, chose that day to mark the beginning of his reign, and knighted eleven of his supporters on the field.
Henry marched to London, where the Council gave him 1,000 marks. On October 11 he announced a general pardon to all except those who fled, and the next day he announced a truce with France. He was crowned Henry VII in splendor on October 30. Bishop John Alcock of Worcester became chancellor with Thomas Lovell in charge of the exchequer. John Dynham became treasurer in July 1486. Henry and Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV, were both descended from John of Gaunt and needed a papal dispensation to marry. John Morton, the Bishop of Ely, secured it from Pope Innocent VIII, and he became Archbishop of Canterbury in October 1486. In March 1487 Morton replaced Alcock as chancellor and held it until his death in 1500. The Star Chamber Act empowered the Council to handle important cases of disorder and corruption. Yet they often accepted payment in exchange for dismissing a case. Reginald Bray became wealthy from his office as chancellor of Lancaster. King Henry made many grants to strengthen his authority throughout the kingdom. His closest advisors on the Council during most of his reign were Lovell, Bray, Chamberlain Giles Daubeney, Controller of the Household Richard Guildford, and John Risley.
Richard III’s strongest supporters had been killed, and the Yorkist party lacked leadership. Parliament assembled on November 7 and declared that Henry VII was their king. They granted him £14,000 a year for his household, and they passed an act of resumption. His reign was dated the day before the battle at Bosworth so that Richard III and those who fought against Henry were deemed rebels, bringing into question the general pardon of September 24. On November 19 the commons and the royal officers took an oath to keep the peace. They prohibited the importing of Gascon wine in foreign ships and restricted foreign merchants, especially the Hansa. A committee of the Council that had been established by Richard III to dispense justice to the poor at low cost was abolished by a Parliament dominated by the upper class. Henry Percy, 4th earl of Northumberland, was imprisoned until December 6 and then was restored in the northeast. The Earl of Worcester was also released to help govern the north. On January 18, 1486, two days after learning of the papal dispensation, Henry wedded his relative Elizabeth. He proclaimed that he had united the roses and ended the civil war.
In the spring of 1486 Henry VII led an army north into territory that had been dominated by Richard since 1473. Yorkists John Taylor and others were promoting the infant Edward, Earl of Warwick, for the throne. The Earl of Oxford governed East Anglia. Henry’s Uncle Jasper, created Duke of Bedford, was over Wales and commanded the army that attacked the rebellion at Yorkshire. The Staffords were captured, and Humphrey of Grafton was hanged at Tyburn. Henry wisely granted amnesty to the rank and file by proclaiming pardons. The Stanleys policed the north with their army and negotiated a three-year truce with Scotland in the summer. Queen Elizabeth gave birth to Arthur on September 20.
In early 1487 Lambert Simnel, the son of a tradesman, in Ireland claimed to be Edward, Earl of Warwick, son of Duke George of Clarence, but the real Warwick was allowed to speak with his friends in London to deflate the rumors. John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, had been Richard III’s deputy in Ireland, but had sworn loyalty in Parliament and was appointed to go after traitors. However, he conspired with Francis Lovell in the Low Countries with his aunt, Margaret of Burgundy, sister of Edward IV and Richard III. They were joined at Dublin on May 5 by 2,000 German mercenaries hired by Margaret and led by Martin Schwarz. Simnel was crowned Edward VI in Christ Church, and they summoned a parliament and minted coin. The Fitzgeralds led by Earl Thomas Fitzgerald of Kildare brought thousands of poorly armed Gaelic warriors who crossed over to England with the Germans, landing near Furness on June 4. Henry’s royal army was about twice as large and attacked their 8,000 men south of Newark on June 16, killing Lincoln, Schwarz, Broughton, and Thomas Fitzgerald in the battle of Stoke in which many Irish were slaughtered. Henry punished the prisoners with fines in order to pay for his war expenses, and at his request Pope Innocent VIII excommunicated Irish clerics who had taken part in the coronation of the imposter.
Concerned about how he had treated the Staffords, Henry asked for advice from Pope Innocent VIII who decreed on August 6, 1487 anyone who came out of sanctuary to commit a crime should have no more protection. Also suspected traitors on church property could be taken after forty days. Henry VII’s second Parliament met on November 9, and they attainted 28 of Simnel’s followers. They granted a tax, but it was difficult to collect. They also authorized a new tribunal that deliberated in secret without a jury, but its use declined in the second half of Henry’s reign. Henry pardoned the Irish and even kept Kildare as lord-deputy. Elizabeth was crowned queen on November 25.
In February 1488 England offered Brittany an army and a small naval force; but the French defeated them at Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier in July, and Henry made a truce with France. On April 1 the Earl of Northumberland was re-appointed warden-general of the Scottish marshes. After James III died, James IV and Henry renewed the truce in October. On October 17 the English Parliament banished all Scots not made denizens within 40 days of the Act. On February 10, 1489 Henry agreed to the treaty of Redon and pledged to send 6,000 men at Brittany’s expense to fight France. Four days later he formed an alliance with Maximilian of Austria. Fernando and Isabel of Spain signed a treaty at Medina del Campo on March 27 that arranged the marriage of Prince Arthur to their daughter Catalina (Catherine) with a dowry of 200,000 crowns.
The third Parliament of Henry’s reign met on January 13, 1489. Offenders were to be branded on the thumb with an M for murder and a T for theft, and they would be punished severely for a second offense. The clergy were to raise one quarter of the subsidy granted, and a 10% tax on incomes of the laity over ten marks was supposed to provide the rest. Northerners already had assessments to defend the border, and in April a protest led by the yeoman John Chamber in Cleveland marched toward York. Northumberland tried to collect the tax but was killed by an angry mob on April 27. The rebel army of 5,000 led by John Egremont headed toward Richmondshire; but Henry sent the recently released Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, to lead the royal vanguard, and he proved his loyalty by defeating them. Egremont fled to Flanders, and Chamber was hanged at York. Six were executed; but King Henry pardoned 1,500 men as the rest went home. He appointed Surrey his lieutenant in the north, and he reinstated the regional council. John Ratcliffe (Lord Fitzwalter) lost his regional position, and the Council fined him for contempt in early 1490.
Meanwhile Henry VII sent 6,000 men against France, and they landed in Brittany in April 1489. Lord Morley was sent with 1,000 archers, and they were joined by others from Calais led by James Tyrrell, who had served Richard III but was appointed governor of Guisnes by Henry. In January 1490 he made a commercial treaty with Denmark. Parliament was prorogued twice and voted a fifteenth and a tenth on February 27 for the war. Henry made a treaty with Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan to oppose France. In September the English agreed to a treaty with Maximilian and ratified the treaty with Fernando made at Medina del Campo. Henry’s second son was born on June 28, 1491 and was named Henry. The King found many ways to increase his wealth, and in his first five years his income averaged £52,000.
The fourth Parliament met in October 17, 1491 to prepare for a war in which Henry intended to assert his claims in France. In December his representatives made a truce with Scotland that was later extended to 1494 and then to 1501. Bedford and Oxford commanded an army of 25,000 men that went to France on more than 700 ships in October 1492. Boulogne was besieged for nine days, and then Henry began negotiating a treaty that was signed at Etaples on November 3. Charles VIII agreed to pay Henry 620,000 crowns for his expenses in Brittany and the arrears of eight payments from the treaty of Picquigny totaling 745,000 crowns or £159,000 or about £5,000 per year. Maximilian hired mercenaries with money he got from Germany and sent 4,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry; but they arrived after Henry had agreed to the truce.
At Cork in Ireland in November 1491 Perkin Warbeck claimed he was Richard, Duke of York, the second son of Edward IV who was presumed murdered in the summer of 1483. His chief mentors were John Taylor and John Atwater, and Margaret of Burgundy became involved in the plot. Charles VIII invited the pretender to France; but after signing the treaty of Etaples with Henry VII in November 1492 he no longer supported the claim to the English throne. Warbeck, Taylor, and a hundred supporters managed to bribe their way to Flanders and reached Margaret on December 12. Word spread, and in January 1493 former Yorkists in the northwest and at Calais considered supporting his claim.
Lord Fitzwalter, Robert Clifford, Humphrey Savage, and William Stanley were planning a coup by March. That month King Henry sent a military expedition to Ireland. They won over Kildare and Desmond, who were pardoned, and Kildare was recalled to England. Humphrey Savage urged Londoners to support Richard IV in May, and he took sanctuary at Westminster Abbey. Robert Clifford escaped and arrived at Margaret’s court on June 14. Maximilian became Holy Roman Emperor in August, and he supported their plot. In reaction Henry began a trade embargo on September 18, and Maximilian and his son Philip of Austria reacted the following May by banning the importation of wool and iron from England. Charles VIII had invited Warbeck to France and refused to turn him over to Henry, though he expelled him from his dominions. In December Warbeck traveled with Maximilian to his father’s funeral in Vienna, and the Emperor seemed to accept that he was Richard. Warbeck made promises to Margaret, Maximilian, and Philip.
In February 1494 Henry VII had some men tried for treason, and later in the year a few were executed. In November the King’s son Henry was appointed Duke of York with Edward Poynings as his deputy. The Irish Parliament met on December 1 and completely reformed the English administration. England claimed Ulster and Connaught. The English Parliament met on January 16, 1495 and supported Henry’s declared war by granting what amounted to four fifteenths and tenths. They passed the Treason Act and increased the power of the justices of peace to regulate vagabonds and saloons, and they could fine artisans and laborers for refusing to work for the official wages they determined. They also reformed the corruption of juries. The treaty of Etaples was confirmed by the Parliament, and the next year the estates of the French provinces ratified it. During the first ten years of Henry’s reign the customs averaged £32,950 a year. He also filled his coffers by fining wealthy men convicted of crimes.
Clifford had been pardoned before Christmas, and he escaped to London by January 12, 1495. He testified that on March 14, 1493 Stanley had promised to aid Warbeck once they got the order to mobilize from Margaret. Fitzwalter was examined on January 20, 1495, and a special trial began five days later. William Stanley, who had helped Henry defeat Richard III, was convicted of treason, and they found £10,000 cash in his castle at Holt. He was executed on February 16. Fitzwalter and his steward Thomas Cressner were reprieved and imprisoned. Kildare was arrested in February and taken to England. Desmond allied with Scotland and received support from Warbeck and Margaret for a rebellion in the spring. On May 8 Margaret wrote to Pope Alexander VI, asking him to withdraw his endorsement of Henry VII.
Burgundy’s Roderick de Lalaing commanded Warbeck’s ships that departed by the end of June while Desmond with 10,000 men was besieging Waterford. Winds scattered the fleet, and fourteen ships landed at Deal in Kent on July 3, 1495. About two or three hundred Flemish troops fought the English; most were killed, and about eighty were taken to London and hanged. Warbeck went with eleven ships to southwest Ireland, and on July 23 he joined Desmond who had 2,400 men on land for an attack on Waterford. The people supported Poynings and the English, and three invading ships were captured.
Warbeck fled to Cork and Kinsale before making his way to Scotland in November 1495. King James IV recognized him as the Duke of York and gave him as a bride his distant cousin, Katherine Gordon. Warbeck offered him Berwick and £50,000 if James would support the rebellion. Military forces were building up on both sides of the border.
Henry VII resolved political and economic conflicts with the Netherlands, and they agreed to the Magnus Intercursus in February 1496. Henry also won over Desmond with an offer of limited power in southern Ireland. Kildare married Henry’s relative Elizabeth St. John, and he was appointed Lord Deputy. Kildare returned to Drogheda and took the oath on September 21, 1496, and he made a pact with the Butlers. On September 20 a Scottish army invaded England, but after destroying a few towers they saw an English army approaching and retreated back to Scotland on September 25. Parliament granted Henry a tax of up to £120,000 in November for the war, but he was only able to raise £58,000. That month Fitzwalter was beheaded at Calais. Henry VII had joined the Holy League against France on July 18; but as a neutral he would neither fight nor supply money, and he made a commercial treaty with France in May 1497.
Both the Scots and English raided in January and February 1497, and Henry declared martial law in the border region. Daubeney gathered about 7,000 men at Newcastle while Lord Willoughby’s fleet waited by Sandwich. Collecting taxes for the war in Cornwall provoked a revolt that grew and moved into Exeter and Somerset led by James Tuchet (Lord Audley). Another rebel army led by Michael Joseph marched towards Guildford while Audley’s army headed for Oxfordshire. Henry refused to offer a general pardon because he believed their tax revolt had turned into a real rebellion. His royal army joined Daubeney’s vanguard on June 16 in Lambeth. In the battle at Blackheath the next day Daubeney was wounded and captured, and the royal army had about 300 killed; but the rebels had no artillery or cavalry and were routed. Audley, Joseph, and other leaders were captured and executed on June 27. The war cost England £90,000; but that year the Parliament authorized two fifteenths and tenths, and the royal treasury received £160,000 plus nearly £15,000 from the fines imposed on the Cornish rebels and Warbeck’s followers.
Willoughby took his fleet north to Aberdeen on July 10 to put pressure on Scotland to negotiate. Henry wanted Warbeck out of Scotland, and King James persuaded him to go back to Ireland. Scotland continued to prepare for war, and Henry had Earl Thomas of Surrey lead a northern force. The Scots besieged Norham during the first ten days of August. Surrey marched his forces to Edinburgh, and Willoughby landed marines in the Firth of Forth on August 15. James challenged Surrey to single combat, but he declined. The Spaniards arbitrated a truce at Ayton on September 30 that was to last seven years.
After going back to Cork, Warbeck gathered a few followers in three ships and landed near Land’s End on September 7, 1497. In five days about 3,000 rebels joined him at Bodmin, and he proclaimed himself Richard IV. Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire, led the defense, and Henry sent Daubeney to muster the Somerset region. The King himself led a reserve force, and about 8,000 men at Exeter killed some four hundred rebels who were trying to break in the gates. Warbeck, John Taylor, and about sixty followers abandoned their army on September 20 and headed southwest. Warbeck in a disguise and three companions hid at Beaulieu Abbey, but they were forced to surrender. Henry kept Warbeck alive to question him, and his confession was published in October. Warbeck escaped on June 9, 1498. Margaret wrote to Henry in September and asked his forgiveness for helping his enemies. Henry had a few leaders executed, but most insurgents were fined.
In January 1499 the Cambridge scholar Ralph Wilford claimed to be the Earl of Warwick and conspired with Warbeck. Henry confirmed the alliance with Castile and Aragon on July 10, and two days later England and Scotland made a peace treaty at Stirling, the first since 1328. John Taylor was captured in September and imprisoned for ten years. He was tried and convicted on November 16 with Warbeck, Cork’s mayor John Atwater, and his son. Warbeck confessed at Westminster on the 19th and was hanged at Tyburn on the 23rd. Wilford was beheaded on the 29th.
Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) was born in Genoa. He became a citizen of Venice in 1476 and thrived in the spice trade. He learned that spices came from the far east and wanted to cross the Atlantic Ocean. He came to England in 1496, and on March 5 Henry authorized him to sail to the west. His first voyage began in June but encountered stormy seas and returned. The second voyage left on May 20, 1497 with twenty men and sighted land on June 24. He claimed he had reached the northwest corner of Asia, but it was probably New Foundland or Nova Scotia. A larger expedition of five ships sailed in May 1498. One ship was damaged in a storm and returned, but Cabot and the other four ships were never heard from again.
Other voyages were made, and in 1506 Bristol merchants organized the Company of Adventurers into the New Found Lands. Henry gave John Cabot’s son Sebastian a pension in 1505. He sailed in 1508 or 1509, and the voyage lasted a year. They returned to find that Henry VIII was king, and he declined to finance any voyages for several years. In 1517 Thomas More’s brother-in-law John Rastell led a voyage to found a colony in the New Found Land, but a mutiny sabotaged the expedition. The Lord High Admiral Surrey believed English ships should be used in the war against France.
In May 1500 Henry VII traveled to Calais to meet with Archduke Philip, who agreed to return Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, the oldest son of Edward IV’s sister Elizabeth and the leading Yorkist claimant to the throne. Cardinal John Morton died on September 15, and the next year Surrey was made Lord Treasurer. By then young Prince Henry was Marshal of England with Lord Willoughby as his mentor. By August 1501 Edmund of Suffolk had escaped with his younger brother Richard to the court of Maximilian. Catherine of Aragon came to England on October 2, and her entourage was welcomed at London on November 9. She and Prince Arthur were married five days later, and the Spaniards turned over 100,000 crowns on November 28. On January 24, 1502 England and Scotland made three treaties for the marriage of Henry’s daughter Margaret to James IV, to preserve order on the border, and for perpetual peace with confederation between the two monarchs and their legitimate heirs. Henry promised £10,000 to Maximilian in June to fight the Turks in exchange for the Emperor not supporting the rebels against Henry.
In the spring Suffolk’s servants and tenants were arrested along with other Yorkists such as James Tyrell, William de la Pole, and William Courtenay. Henry announced that Tyrell had confessed to murdering the Yorkist princes in the Tower in 1483. Robert Curzon, the captain at Calais, may have been used as a double agent against Suffolk. Both were condemned for treason in 1504; but after Suffolk was imprisoned in 1506, Henry granted Curzon a large annuity. Prince Arthur died of a chest infection or tuberculosis on April 2, 1502. By September it was agreed that his widow Catherine would marry Prince Henry, but the dispensation was delayed for a year by the death of Pope Alexander VI in August 1503. In addition to the deaths of Prince Arthur and Cardinal Morton, Henry’s 15-month-old son Edmund had died in June 1500. Then in February 1503 Queen Elizabeth gave birth to her seventh child who died, and then she died herself one week later. A throat infection prevented the King from eating for seven days, and his health began to decline for the rest of his life. Edmund Dudley began serving Henry in September 1504, and people suspected that he used his office to amass great wealth.
In April 1505 Henry sent Archduke Philip £108,000 for his expedition against Spain and loaned him £30,000 more in September. On February 9, 1506 Henry agreed to a trade treaty with Philip to end the third embargo between England and the Netherlands; but the Dutch complained that it favored the English and called it the Intercursus Malus. On his way to Castile in March Philip’s ship took refuge from a storm in England, and he stayed three months with Henry, who honored him with the Garter and recognized him as King of Castile. They made another trade agreement on December 21, 1507, and Henry’s daughter Mary was betrothed to Philip’s son Charles.
In 1506 or 1507 Bishop William Smith of Lincoln discovered more than sixty “heretics” in Amersham and over twenty at Buckingham. Only two did not recant and do penance, and they were eventually burned.
Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley imposed bonds on subjects with difficult obligations and managed to become wealthy while bringing in the revenues. After a long illness Henry VII died of tuberculosis on April 21, 1509. The average annual revenues from customs had increased to £48,000, and he got an annual pension of £10,000 from France. He left behind a full treasury estimated at £1,300,000 by the Venetian ambassador and at £1,800,000 by Francis Bacon in his history of Henry’s reign. In his will Henry provided funds for King’s College at Cambridge, the church of Westminster, and houses for Franciscan Observants he had founded at Greenwich, Richmond, Canterbury, Southampton, and Newcastle.
Henry VIII was nearly eighteen years old when his father died on April 21, 1509. The next day he was proclaimed king, and Dudley, Empson and their subordinates along with Henry Stafford were arrested and joined Edmund de la Pole in the Tower. On April 23 Henry pardoned all other offenders except 77 people. Fernando of Aragon urged Henry to marry his daughter Catherine and offered him concessions he had refused to Henry VII, and he told his ambassador to use bribes. Henry VIII wrote to Margaret of Austria that he married Catherine because his father on his deathbed told him to do so in order to strengthen England’s alliance with Spain, Burgundy, and the Emperor. Henry and Catherine were married on June 11 in a private ceremony by the Archbishop William Warham of Canterbury, who also crowned them both on June 24 at Westminster.
The Duke of Buckingham was Constable of England, and the King released his brother Henry Stafford and made him Earl of Wiltshire. Dudley and Empson were tried for treason, but they were not executed until August 18, 1510. In prison Dudley wrote The Tree of Commonwealth on good government, and he also described 84 cases in which he had oppressed people, begging Richard Foxe, Bishop of Winchester, and Thomas Lovell to make restitution to his victims. Foxe had been keeper of the privy seal since 1487 and was the most important member of the Council. Henry appointed Thomas Ruthall bishop of Durham in June 1509. He had been Henry VII’s secretary and continued in that office. These clerics wanted to continue Henry VII’s policy of peace that went seventeen years without war.
Henry’s education was supervised by the poet John Skelton. Bernard André taught him Latin; Giles d’Ewes tutored him in French; he probably learned Spanish from his wife Catherine; and he understood Italian. The large and vital Henry loved hunting several hours a day, jousting, and lavish banquets. In the early years of his reign he was guided by King Fernando on foreign policy. Henry ordered the construction of warships from his first year as king. He renewed England’s treaty with Scotland on June 29, 1509 and the treaty with France on March 23, 1510. His sister Margaret, Queen of Scotland, resented his refusing to give her the jewels bequeathed to her by their father. Catherine’s first baby was a still-born girl, and the baby boy born on the first day of 1511 died seven weeks later.
In 1510 Bishop Richard Fitzjames of London prosecuted more than forty people for denying the “real presence” in the bread of the eucharist and another 37 in 1517. In each year two were burned. In 1511 Archbishop Warham found nearly fifty “heretics” in Kent, and five were turned over to the government to be burned to death. In the Midlands the court book of Bishop Geoffrey Blythe was found at Lichfield with records indicating that 74 people with a third of them women appeared on charges of heresy in 1511 and 1512.
Scotch commissioners met with the English on border grievances in the summer of 1511, and that August the future lord admiral Edward Howard killed James IV’s favorite captain Andrew Barton and took two ships. On November 13 Henry joined the Holy League against the Pope’s enemies, and four days later he assured Fernando that he would attack France by April 1512. James secretly wrote to Pope Julius II on December 5 and asked to be released from his oaths. That month Henry recalled the artillery he had loaned to his sister Mary.
Parliament met on February 4, 1512 to prepare for war, though Warham preached peace. Two fifteenths and tenths were granted to fight against France and Scotland. Henry appointed Edward Howard admiral on April 7, and that month he sent the Marquess of Dorset with 7,000 men to San Sebastian, where they joined Fernando’s 7,000 troops. In June English ships convoyed 10,000 men to Fuenterrabia in Spain. Fernando failed to provide promised transportation or forces to invade Gascony, but the threat of the English army enable his forces to take over Navarre. The English soldiers in the heat complained that Wolsey had not provided them with beer. On the way home Howard’s 25 ships attacked a French fleet of 22 ships and suffered losses, but he penned the French ships in Brest. Meanwhile Surrey was sent to York to command the small army in the north. Also in 1512 John Colet criticized the abuses of the Church in a sermon before a convocation, and at St. Paul’s cross he preached against the sin of war. He hired William Lily to teach Greek at St. Paul’s school. On Good Friday in 1513 Colet preached to King Henry at Greenwich, urging him to follow the way of Jesus rather than Alexander the Great. Henry invited him for a private talk about “a just war.”
Although Fernando agreed to a truce with France on April 1, 1513, four days later Henry joined him, Pope Julius, and Maximilian in a commitment to declare war against France within thirty days. Aragon quickly withdrew, but Henry continued to prepare for war. Howard had 28 ships at Plymouth; but their attack on French ships at Brest failed on April 25, and Howard was killed. They returned to Plymouth on the 30th, and his older brother Thomas Howard became admiral and reorganized the navy. Although his father had promised Philip in 1506 that he would not harm Edmund de la Pole if he surrendered him, Henry VIII had him executed on April 30.
In May the Earl of Shrewsbury led a vanguard of 8,000 men across to Calais, and they were joined by 6,000 rearguard led by Charles Somerset (Lord Herbert). They marched to Thérouanne, and on June 30 Henry arrived at Calais with 11,000 men, including 800 German mercenaries. When some Germans set fire to churches in Ardres on July 26, Henry had three of them hanged. He and Maximilian met outside Thérouanne on August 12. Four days later they learned that 8,000 French were marching to provision Thérouanne. Henry sent his cavalry against them, and the foot-soldiers also clashed. The French retreated so quickly that they called the battle “Day of the Spurs.” Maximilian’s 2,000 soldiers supported the English in the victory. Thérouanne surrendered on August 23, and Henry turned it over to Maximilian, who could not garrison it and so had it burned. The Emperor agreed to let Henry have Tournai for 200,000 crowns. The English besieged it for six days until it capitulated on September 21.
While Henry was in France, Catherine governed in England with help from the Council. Surrey won a victory over the Scots, and James IV sent warships to help France at Thérouanne on July 25. His messenger told Henry he must withdraw from France or face an invasion from Scotland. After receiving a negative reply, James crossed the border with 20,000 men on August 22 and took Norham castle on the 28th. Surrey had left London with 500 men on July 22. They arrived with artillery at Durham on August 24. Surrey was reinforced with 1,000 men from the fleet of his son Thomas, and soon they had an army of 13,000 and met the Scots on September 7. James IV and his son were killed. The English killed 10,000 or more at Branxton Hill while losing only about 1,500. The next day they captured the Scottish artillery and found James dead. Surrey confidently dismissed most of his army on September 14 to limit expenses. Before leaving the Netherlands, Henry made a treaty on October 17 at Lille and prepared for his sister Mary’s wedding to Archduke Charles scheduled for May 14, 1514.
Early in 1514 Henry learned that he had been betrayed by Maximilian and Fernando, and so he began secretly negotiating with France. On Candlemas (February 2) Henry made Howard’s son Thomas the Earl of Surrey and Charles Brandon the Duke of Suffolk. After the wedding date of the Dutch marriage passed, Mary repudiated her marriage contract with Charles on July 30. Henry offered her to Louis XII, and the marriage treaty was made on August 7. Three days later England and France proclaimed peace. Henry kept Tournai, and his pension from France in the Treaty of Etaples was nearly doubled. Mary did not want to marry the 52-year-old French king. She preferred Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, but Henry said she would probably be a widow soon and could marry who she wanted after that. She went to France in October and married Louis XII, and she was crowned queen of France on November 5. Louis died on January 1, 1515. Henry and the Council wanted her to make another political marriage, but she secretly married Suffolk in France on March 3. Henry persuaded them to wed again at Greenwich, and he suppressed knowledge of the secret wedding. The couple agreed to give Henry her dowry of £24,000 back by paying him £1,000 a year.
Thomas Wolsey was an ambitious clergyman who was appointed Henry’s almoner. In the fall of 1511 he became a member of the royal Council. Wolsey encouraged the King to go hunting and ran the government while he was occupied. He carried out diplomatic missions and supported the war against France so vigorously that he was appointed Bishop of Lincoln.
Henry VII and Henry VIII had England’s interests represented at the papal court in Rome by making the Italian Cardinal Silvester di Gigli bishop of Worcester from 1497 to 1521. and Adriano di Castello bishop of Bath and Wells from 1504 to 1518 even though they never visited their dioceses. In 1514 Gigli’s chaplain was accused of poisoning Christopher Bainbridge, Archbishop of York, and under torture he confessed. Gigli denied it was true. Henry appointed Wolsey archbishop of York, and he was advanced to a cardinal in November 1515. To be over the Archbishop of Canterbury he demanded to be made legate a latere for life, but Pope Leo X did not do so until 1518. In May 1517 Pope Leo accused Adriano and another cardinal of trying to poison him. Adriano said he did not participate in a plot he did not take seriously. The Pope asked for 25,000 ducats to exonerate him. Henry and Wolsey demanded that Adriano be removed from his bishopric of Bath and Wells because Wolsey wanted their income.
In 1515 Wolsey urged the dissolution of Parliament, and it did not meet again until 1523. He used his legatine powers for ecclesiastical patronage, filling vacancies with men loyal to him. He forced the heads of houses to subscribe to his colleges. He pestered Archbishop Warham into resigning as Chancellor and gained that top position in 1515. The law of the star chamber enabled him to protect the weak in the poors’ Court of Requests, and he punished criminals severely. Also in 1515 Wolsey imprisoned the historian Polydore Vergil for writing a letter criticizing him.
On April 5, 1515 Henry renewed England’s treaty with François of France, and he made a new treaty with Fernando in October. He sent Richard Pace to hire 20,000 Swiss mercenaries to help Maximilian try to regain Milan. On February 18, 1516 Catherine gave birth to Mary, her only child to survive into adulthood. Bishop Thomas Ruthall became keeper of the privy seal in May, and Wolsey’s secretary Richard Pace became the King’s secretary. Henry formed a new military alliance with Maximilian and Charles on October 29, but Maximilian made peace with France in February 1517 and sold Verona to Venice. King François of France gave financial support to Richard de la Pole who called himself Duke of Suffolk and was the son of Edward IV’s sister and another Yorkist pretender to the throne. Henry called him “White Rose” and had spies, such as the Flemish flute-player Hans Nagel, inform him of Richard’s plans to invade England with 15,000 French troops.
On the “evil May-day” in 1517 during a depression there was an uprising against foreigners, and more than four hundred mostly young people including eleven women were arrested. No one had been killed in the riot, but the broker John Lincoln and thirteen others were executed for treason. Henry wanted foreign merchants to believe they were safe doing business in London. The 279 defendants were brought before Henry in shirts with halters around their necks, and he pardoned them. In July ambassadors from Charles V of Castile came to London and signed a friendship treaty with Henry. That month the sweating sickness broke out, and in one week four hundred died in Oxford.
In the middle ages theater was gradually reborn in Europe from the rituals of the Christian Church. From the last quarter of the 14th century to the mid-16th century cycles of plays were performed during the celebration of Corpus Christi sixty days after Easter. Passion plays based on stories from the Bible increased and were performed usually on wagons in many cities in England as well as on the continent of Europe. Manuscripts have survived from four major cycles in England at York, Wakefield, Coventry, and Chester. The York cycle with 48 plays is the most complete collection of plays. Each play was produced and performed by members of a guild. The following is a list of the York cycle with the guilds that produced them:
1. The Fall of Lucifer (Barkers)
2. The Creation (Plasterers)
3. The Creation of Adam and Eve (Cardmakers)
4. Adam and Eve in Eden (Fullers)
5. The Fall of Man (Coopers)
6. Expulsion from Eden (Armorers)
7. Sacrifice of Cain and Abel (Glovers)
8. Building of the Ark (Shipwrights)
9. Noah and his Wife (Fishers and Mariners)
10. Abraham and Isaac (Parchmenters and Bookbinders)
11. Moses and Pharaoh (Hosiers)
12. Annunciation and Visitation (Spicers)
13. Joseph’s Trouble with Mary (Pewterers and Founders)
14. Birth of Jesus (Tilethatchers)
15. The Shepherds (Chandlers)
16. Herod and the Magi (Masons and Goldsmiths)
17. The Purification (St. Leonard’s Hospital)
18. The Flight into Egypt (Marshals)
19. Slaughter of the Innocents (Girdlers and Nailers)
20. Christ and the Doctors (Spurriers and Lorimers)
21. Baptism of Jesus (Barbers)
22. The Temptation (Smiths)
23. The Transfiguration (Curriers)
24. The Woman taken in Adultery; Lazarus (Cappers)
25. Entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem (Skinners)
26. The Conspiracy (Cutlers)
27. The Last Supper (Bakers)
28. Agony in the Garden and Betrayal (Cordwainers)
29. Jesus before Caiaphas (Bowers and Fletchers)
30. Jesus before Pilate (Tapiters and Couchers)
31. Trial before Herod (Dyers)
32. The Remorse of Judas (Cooks and Waterleaders)
33. Second Trial before Pilate (Tilemakers)
34. The Road to Calvary (Shearmen)
35. The Crucifixion (Pinners)
36. The Death of Jesus (Butchers)
37. The Harrowing of Hell (Saddlers)
38. The Resurrection (Carpenters)
39. Christ Appears to Mary Magdalene (Winedrawers)
40. Travelers to Emmaus (Woolpackers and Woolbrokers)
41. Purification of Mary (Hatmakers, Masons, Laborers)
42. The Incredulity of Thomas (Scriveners)
43. The Ascension (Tailors)
44. Descent of the Holy Spirit (Potters)
45. The Death of Mary (Drapers)
46. The Appearance of Mary to Thomas (Weavers)
47. Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin (Hostelers)
48. The Last Judgment (Mercers)
Comic elements were often added to the plays such as the drunkenness of Noah. In the Second Shepherd’s Play the shepherds believe a thief they know has stolen one of their sheep, and they find he and his wife have hidden it in a cradle and pretended to have a new baby. Then the shepherds are guided to Bethlehem and find Mary’s baby Jesus.
The Castle of Perseverance from the early 15th century is the oldest full-length play in English, and its oldest manuscript is from about 1440. In this anonymous morality play Mankind struggles between his Bad Angel and his Good Angel as expressed through the seven deadly sins of Lust, Pride, Anger, Envy, Gluttony, Lechery, and Sloth and the seven virtues of Humility, Patience, Charity, Abstinence, Chastity, Solicitude, and Generosity.
In the first temptation the World sends Pleasure and Folly to influence Man, and Backbiter persuades him to move over to Avarice. The Good Angel asks Confession and Penitence to help Man, and he enters the Castle of Perseverance where he meets the seven virtues who promise to help him. In the second temptation Backbiter arouses the Devil, Flesh, and the World to beat their followers, the seven deadly sins. Man is under siege in the Castle as the Good and Bad Angels watch. The virtues defeat the vices by throwing roses at them, but Avarice persuades Man to leave the Castle by giving him money. Death attacks Man, and he appeals to the World for help. He sends his servant Flesh, who takes away Man’s goods as he dies. The Soul appears, but the Bad Angel takes him away to Hell. The four daughters of God are Mercy, Truth, Justice, and Peace, and they debate for and against the Soul. God rules in favor of the Soul, and the four divine daughters take the soul away from the Bad Angel in Hell and lift him up to God. In this play the moral lessons of human life are depicted through the acting out of these abstract concepts.
Manuscripts of the morality plays Wisdom and Mankind have also survived from about 1465-70. Wisdom has also been called Mind, Will, and Understanding. In the first scene heavenly Wisdom teaches the Soul. Then the Five Wits come in as virgins, followed by the three powers of the Soul—Mind, Will, and Understanding. Wily Lucifer arrives and challenges the powers. Finally the Soul finds salvation in Jesus. Mankind begins with Mercy speaking about good works. Mischief appears even before Mankind. Mischief is aided by New-Guise, Nowadays, and Nought. Eventually the devil Titivillus arrives, but he is invisible to Mankind. Mercy is rumored to have hanged himself, and Mankind despairs. Finally Mercy reappears and drives away the evil companions. Mankind repents of his sins and departs. Mercy delivers the epilog.
The miracle or saint’s play Conversion of St. Paul is from the late 15th century, and it is narrated by the Poet. The richly dressed Saul in Jerusalem is given letters by the chief priest Caypha to take to Damascus to suppress heresy. On the road God speaks to Saul and reprimands him for persecuting his followers. He advises Saul to go to Damascus even though he has become blind and lame. God tells Ananias to go heal Saul so that he can promote Christianity. When Ananias visits Saul, the Holy Spirit cures Saul, who is then baptized. In the third scene Saul has returned to Jerusalem as a disciple of Jesus, and he gives a sermon on the seven deadly sins. Saul goes back to Caypha, who has the gates locked so that they can kill Saul. An Angel tells Saul that he will survive and go to heaven. The Poet invites the audience to sing a hymn in praise of heaven.
In the same Digby collection of manuscripts is the longer saint’s play, Mary Magdalene, which is based on the story in The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voraigne. The first half shows Mary from her wealthy Magdalene family including her brother Lazarus, her fallen life as a courtesan, and her conversion by Jesus who brings Lazarus back to life. In the second half Mary does good works, converts the king and queen of Marseilles, knocks down a pagan temple, goes by ship to meet Peter in Jerusalem, and retires to a wilderness where she is guided by angels and a priest before her death and entry into heaven.
The Play of the Sacrament is a miracle play from the late 15th century about a miracle said to have occurred in 1461. Jonathas and his four Jewish friends test the consecrated host and see it bleed. Christ appears, but the doctor Brundiche cannot heal the hand of Jonathas.
The morality play Everyman is from the late 15th century, and it was first printed in Flemish as Elckerlye in 1495. The similar Everyman was printed in English four times between 1508 and 1537. In the prolog the Messenger calls the moral play the Summoning of Everyman. Man looks well in the beginning but must take heed to the ending. God appears and warns that people are more concerned with worldly riches than justice. They love the seven deadly sins, but God mentions only pride, coveting, wrath, and lechery. They leave the company of angels and live for their own pleasure. They are envious and forget charity. God must do them justice. He calls for his powerful messenger Death and sends him to Everyman, informing him he must go on a pilgrimage from which there is no escape. God withdraws, and Death finds Everyman, who explains he is not ready for such a journey. Everyman offers Death a thousand pounds if he will defer the day; but Death refuses to give him any respite. Death asks him about his worldly goods and reminds him they were only loaned to him. When he leaves, they go to others. Death advises him to prepare himself quickly and withdraws.
Everyman wonders who will accompany him and sees good Fellowship, who promises him he will not forsake him. After Everyman explains this is his final journey, Fellowship becomes afraid and changes his mind. When he learns Everyman was visited by Death, Fellowship departs as fast as he can. Next Everyman turns to his family and a cousin. His kin promise to hold with him in “wealth and woe,” and Everyman thanks them. Everyman says he must go on a pilgrimage and give an account of how he has lived and what he has done. The Cousin and Kindred became cautious and decide to stay behind. They say farewell and leave. Everyman reflects how he has loved riches and asks if his Goods will help him. Goods offers to help him with troubles in the world, but he cannot follow him on such a voyage; his attention to Goods is not likely to help his reckoning. Goods gave him prosperity for a while, but his condition kills a man’s soul. For every one he saves a thousand are lost. So Goods says goodbye also.
Everyman thinks about who can give him counsel, and he considers his Good-Deeds, who realizes that Everyman is going before the Messiah. If he will walk by him, Good-Deeds will go on that journey. He urges Everyman to take account of his works, and he advises him to consult his sister Knowledge, who agrees to guide Everyman. Now Everyman feels he is in good condition, and Knowledge helps him find Confession. Everyman wants to wash away his vices, and Confession suggests penance which will help him find forgiveness. Everyman prays to God, and Knowledge turns him over to his Savior. Everyman performs his penance, and Good-Deeds joins them and says he has been delivered of his sickness. He will help him declare his good works. Knowledge offers Everyman the garment Contrition to protect him from pain.
Good-Deeds leads Everyman to Discretion, Strength, and Beauty. Knowledge suggests that he take his Five-Wits as counselors, and Everyman calls them all together. Five-Wits tells him he needs the seven sacraments of baptism, confirmation, the priesthood, God’s sacrament of flesh and blood, marriage, holy extreme unction, and penance to help him remember high divinity. Everyman goes off and returns, saying he has done these things. As they approach the grave, Beauty quickly departs. Strength also balks and leaves. Then Discretion says he must go with Strength. Everyman pleads, but Discretion goes away. Five-wits then follows the others. Everyman exclaims all have left him, but Good-Deeds says he will not forsake him. Everyman asks Knowledge if she will forsake him too, and she admits she will not go to death with him; but she will wait until she sees where he is going. Finally Everyman commends his soul into the hands of God. Everyman enters the grave with Good-Deeds, and Knowledge hears angels singing. An Angel appears and takes the excellent soul from the body to Jesus in heaven. In the epilog a Doctor reminds the hearers that moral men must forsake pride and that even Beauty, Five-Wits, Strength, and Discretion will forsake them in the end.
This most famous of the morality plays conveys to all people that death ends life in the body and all worldly values. The only thing the soul takes when it departs is the good deeds it has done, thus affirming that the essence of morality is not just holding religious beliefs but doing good works.