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York once more swore fealty, and engaged, with the rest, that all differences should be arbitrated by the sovereign ; a tacit condemnation of his taking redress into his own hands at St. Alban's. In June 1458, the two parties met in and near London, and Henry pronounced an award,* the principal article of which appears to have been, that “a chantry should be erected at the expense of York, Salisbury, and Warwick, for the souls of the three lords (Somerset, Clifford, and Northumberland) who were slain at St. Alban's. +
This award, however, as might have been expected, was not effectual in contenting either party, and preparations appear to have been made throughout 1459 for a contest, the causes and objects of which were still, however, not very definite. The court, we are told, distributed "white swans, § the badge of Prince Edward” (for we hear nothing of the red and white roses). Salisbury and York were preparing to unite their forces on the borders of Wales, when the former was met at Bloreheath by Lord Audley, I at the head of a royalist force, which was defeated or successfully repulsed, **.and Salisbury pursued his march. * Wheth., 418.
James Touchet, fifth lord.
But a large royal army, under the king in person, was assembled at Worcester, which approached the camp of the Yorkists; offers of conciliation were made to the duke, and rejected. York was now deserted by some of his followers, and retired into Ireland ; his friends and sons being elsewhere dispersed.
A parliament met at Coventry,* in which York and his adherents were attainted by that act of parliament which we have already cited. The Duke of Exeter was now appointed to supersede Warwick in the command of the fleet, and Somerset to replace him in the government of Calais ; but Warwick successfully resisted his entrance into the port. After this act of rebellion, Warwick joined York in Dublin, t and concerted further measures. The result was the landing of Warwick in Kent. His army increased as he marched, being joined even by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Articles were circulated, complaining of the mismanagement of the king's household, the oppression of the people by taxes, the murderous designs entertained against York, Salisbury, and Warwick, and especially the extreme enmity of Shrewsbury, Wiltshire, and Beaumont. The insurgents marched
* Nov. 20, 1459. Parl. Hist., 401; Rolls, 345.
through London, and met the royal army at Northampton,* where an action of no long duration, in which Buckingham, Shrewsbury, t and many other considerable persons were killed, put Warwick in possession of the king's person.
A parliament was called at Westminster, which repealed all the acts passed at Coventry against the Yorkists. To this parliament York repaired, with a retinue of five hundred horsemen, and then occurred the incident from which, as I apprehend, Shakspeare took that of the occupation of the chair of state, in the first scene of this play. ||
For the duke entered the parliament-house, and stood for some time, with his hand upon the throne. Nobody, however, invited him to ascend; but, when he withdrew, he occupied the royal apartments in the palace of Westminster. He then delivered to the chancellor a written claim to the crown, as the lineal descendant of Lionel, son of Edward III. The story is thus told by Holinshed ;
He came to the city of London, which he entered the Friday before the feast of Edward the Confessor, with a sword borne naked before him, with trumpets
Stow find them ? Wiltshire was James Butler, so created. Beaumont, John, first viscount.
July 20, 1460. Wheth., 479; Hol., 260. † John, eldest son of the famous Talbot. | Rolls, v, 373. 11 Wheth., 484; W. Wyrc., 483.
also sounding and accompanied with a great train of men at arms, and other of his friends and servants. At his coming to Westminster, he entered the palace; and, passing forth directly through the great hall, staid not till he came to the chamber where the king and lords used to sit in the parliament-time, commonly called the upper house, or chamber of the peers; and being there entered, stept up unto the throne royal, and there laying his hand upon the cloth of state, seemed as if he meant to take possession of that which was his right, (for he held his hand so upon that cloth a good pretty while,) and, after withdrawing his hand, turned his face towards the people, beholding their pressing together, and marking what countenance they made. Whilst he then stood and beheld the people, supposing they rejoiced to see his presence, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Thomas Bourchier) came to him, and, after due salutations, asked him if he would come and see the king, with which demand he, seeming to take disdain, answered briefly and in few words, thus: “I remember not that I know any within this realm, but that it beseemeth him rather to come and see my person, than I go and see his.
The duke went to the most principal lodging that the king had within all his palace, breaking up the locks and doors, and so lodged himself therein, more like a king than a duke.”*
After many objections, and an assertion from Henry of his right, unaccompanied by the manful
* Hol., 261.
defiance which Shakspeare puts into his mouth; the compromise was proposed and accepted as in the play. I know not upon what authority Exeter is selected as foremost in acknowledging the right of the Duke of York; for he is named by Holinshed, among the lords who, with Queen Margaret at their head, refused to acknowledge the new settlement of the crown, and assembled their forces in order to defeat it.* And a more ancient authority tells us, that he absented himself, with Somerset, Northumberland, and Devon, from the meeting in which the Yorkists obtained this advantage;f and we shall see presently that he fought under the queen. I
The play, after correctly representing the hostile protest of the chiefs of the Lancastrian party, brings forward Edward and Richard, the two sons of York, lamenting their father's concession of his rights during Henry's life, and calling upon him to disregard his oath of allegiance to Henry. Edward urges him boldly to break his oath for the sake of the crown; Richard argues sophistically for the unlawfulness of the oath; and York has
+ W. Wyrc., 483. It is said (Banks, iii. 290), that he married Anne, the daughter of York; but as he was divorced from her, (I know not when or why), there was probably no close attachment to her family.
* Hol., 268.