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But, favourable as these circumstances were, Henry soon showed that they went but a short way in forming a good character; they were merely the gifts of nature, or accomplishments implanted by the assiduity of his father; but he wanted the more solid advantages, which were to be of his own formation,--a good heart, and a sound understanding. The learning he had, if it may deserve that appellation, served only to inflame his pride, but not control his vicious affections; the love of his subjects broke out in their flattery; and this was another meteor to lead him astray. His vast wealth, instead of relieving the public, or increasing his power, only contributed to supply his debaucheries, or gratify the rapacity of the ministers of his pleasures. But it would have been happy for his people if his faults had rested here: he was a tyrant; humanity takes the alarm at his cruelties; and, however fortunate some of his measures might prove in the event, every good man must revolt at his motives, and the means he took for their accomplishment.
The first action which showed that the present reign was to be very different from the former, was the pun
ishment of Empsom and Dudley, who were obnoxious
to the populace for having been the ready instruments of the late king's rapacity. They were immediately cited before the council, in order to answer for their conduct; but Empsom in his defence alleged, that, far from deserving censure, his actions rather merited reward and approbation. Though a strict execution of the law was the crime of which he and Dudley were accused; although these laws had been established by the voluntary consent of the people; notwithstanding all their expostulations, Empsom and Dudley were sent to the Tower, and soon after brought to their trial. As
the strict discharge of their duty, in executing A. D. the laws, could not be alleged against them as 1510. a crime, to gratify the people with their punishment they were accused of having entered into a conspiracy against the present king, and of intentions to seize by force the administration of government. Nothing could be more improbable and unsupported than such a charge; nevertheless the jury were so far infected with popular prejudice, that they gave a verdict against them; and they were both executed some time after, by a warrant from the king. This measure, which betrayed an unjust compliance with popular clamour, was followed by another still more detrimental to the nation, although still more pleasing to the people. Julius the Second was at that time pope, and had filled all Europe with his intrigues and ambition; but his chief resentment was leveled against Lewis the Twelfth, king of France, who was in possession of some valuable provinces of Italy, from which he hoped by his intrigues to remove him. For this purpose he entered into a treaty with Ferdinand, king of Spain, and Henry of England; to each of whom he offered such advantages as were most likely to inflame their ambition, in case they fell upon Lewis on their respective quarters; while he undertook himself to find him employment in Italy. Henry, who had no other motives but the glory of the expedition, and the hopes of receiving the title of the most Christian King, which the pope assured him would soon be wrested from Lewis to be conferred upon him, readily A. D. undertook to defend his cause; and his parlia- 1512. ment, being summoned, as readily granted supplies for a purpose so much favoured by the people. The spirit of chivalry and of foreign conquest was not yet quite extinguished among the English: the kingdom of France
was still an object they desired to possess; and Henry, in compliance with their wishes, gave out that he in
tended striking for the crown. It was in vain that one
of his old prudent counsellors objected, that conquests on the continent would only drain the kingdom without enriching it: and that England, from its situation, was not fitted to enjoy extensive empire: the young king, • deaf to all remonstrances, and burning with military gardour, resolved to undertake the war. The marquis of 3Dorset was first sent over, with a large body of forces, to Fontarabia, to assist the operations of Ferdinand: but that faithless and crafty monarch had no intentions of effectually seconding their attempts; wherefore they were obliged to return home without effect. A considerable fleet was equipped, some time after, A. D. to annoy the enemy by sea, and the command 1513. intrusted to sir Edward Howard; who, after scouring the Channel for some time, presented himself before Brest, where the French navy lay, and challenged
them to combat. As the French were unequal to the
enemy, they determined to wait for a reinforcement, which they expected, under the command of Prejent de Bidoux, from the Mediterranean. But in this the gallant Howard was resolved to disappoint them; and upon the appearance of Prejent with six galleys, who had time to take refuge behind some batteries which were planted on the rocks that lay on each side of him, he boldly rowed up with two galleys, followed by barges filled with officers of distinction. Upon coming up to Prejent's ship, he immediately fastened upon it, and leaped on board, followed by one Carroz, a Spanish cavalier, and seventeen Englishmen. The cable, meanwhile, which fastened both ships together, was cut by the enemy, and the admiral was thus left, in the hands of the French; but as he still continued to fight with
great gallantry, he was pushed overboard by their pikes, and perished in the sea. Upon this misfortune the fleet retired from before Brest; and the French navy for a while kept possession of the sea. This slight repulse only served to inflame the king's ardour to take revenge upon the enemy; and he soon after sent a body of eight thousand men to Calais, under the command of the earl of Shrewsbury; and another body of six thousand followed shortly after, under the conduct of Lord Herbert. He prepared to follow himself with the main body and rear; and arrived at Calais, attended by numbers of the English nobility. But he soon had an attendant, who did him still more honour. This was no less a personage than Maximilian, emperor of Germany, who had stipulated to assist him with eight thousand men; but, being unable to perform his engagements, joined the English army with some German and Flemish soldiers, who were useful
in giving an example of discipline to Henry's new-levied
soldiers. He even enlisted himself in the English service, wore the cross of St. George, and received pay, a hundred crowns per day, as one of Henry's subjects and captains.
Henry being now at the head of a formidable army, fifty thousand strong, it was supposed that France must
fall a victim to his ambition. But that kingdom was not threatened by him alone; the Swiss, on another quarter, with twenty-five thousand men, were preparing to invade it; while Ferdinand of Arragon, whom no treaties could bind, was only waiting for a convenient opportunity of attack on his side to advantage. Never was the French monarchy in so distressed a situation; but the errors of its assailants procured its safety. The Swiss entered into a treaty with Trimouille, the French general, who gave them their own terms, satisfied that his master would rescind them all, as not having given him any powers to treat; Ferdinand continued to remain a quiet spectator, vainly waiting for some effectual blow to be struck by his allies; and Henry spent his time in the siege of towns, which could neither secure his conquests, nor advance his reputation. The first siege was that of Terouenne, in Picardy, which kept him employed for more than a month, although the garrison scarcely amounted to two thousand men. The besieged, after some time, being in want of provisions, a very bold and desperate attempt was made to supply them, which was attended with success. A French captain, whose name was Fontrailles, led up a body of eight hundred men, each of whom carried a bag of gunpowder and two quarters of bacon behind him. With this small force he made a fierce and unexpected irruption into the English camp; and, surmounting all resistance, advanced to the ditch of the town, where each horseman threw down his burthen. Then immediately returning upon the gallop, they were again so fortunate as to break through the English without any great loss in the undertaking. But the cavalry sent to cover the retreat were not so successful. Though they were commanded by the boldest and bravest captains of the French army, yet on sight of the English they were seized with such an unaccountable panic, that they immediately fled, and had many of their best officers taken prisoners. This action was called by the French the battle of Guinegate, from the place where it was fought; but by the English the battle of the Spurs, as the French, on that day, made more use of their spurs than their swords, to procure safety. After this victory, which might have been followed with very important consequences, had the victors marched forward to Paris, Henry sat down to make