The Praise of King Richard the third – Modernised

That princes are naturally ambitious, and that ambition makes them to effect their desires, rather than to affect the equity of their designs, may more truly than safely be avowed. For all of them, I think, were the record of their actions indifferent, might be taxed of this vice. But this excuse clears not the accused; yet it testifies that princes err against nature, if they aspire not. We hold (not without reason) that if the bill of the plaintiff[1] be stuffed with frivolous assertions, that the complaint savoureth more of malice than of wrong. Why should not the same axiom be a motive to clear this wronged Prince, whose accusers lay to his charge the anguish his mother felt when he came into the world? Than which accusation what can be more frivolous, it being a punishment hereditary to all women, from the first? His being toothed as soon as born, seems to me rather a blessing than any imputation, as being a presage of his future worthiness, and as all nurses will confess, an ease of much pain and danger.[2] But he was crook-backed,[3] lame,[4] ill-shapen, ill-favoured.[5] I might impute that fault to Nature, but that I rather think it her bounty:[6] for she, being wholly intentive[7] to his mind, neglected his form, so that she infused a straight mind in a crooked body, wherein she showed her careful providence. For oftentimes, the care to keep those parts well formed withdraws men’s minds from better actions and drowns them in effeminate curiosity. His lameness turned to his glory; for with those imperfect limbs, he performed actions most perfectly valiant.

How rightly his father a claimed his brother b obtained the sceptre is sufficiently known,[8] and therefore superfluous and impertinent: and also how his brother dusked[9] his right, (if right) by abrogating the oath, which he swore at York, that his coming in arms was only for that dukedom. c But to dilate how variable and inconstant the people of those times were, shall be more necessary and effectual that knowing their inconstancy, their traditions (like themselves) may the less be believed: so light-headed, so foolish, so irreligious, as their opinion (for what else are the thoughts of ignorance but opinion) made them break their oath to their Prince, d and to such a Prince as they did not shame to dislike, only because he was too good. Him they abandoned, deposed, after restored; not as desiring (being guilty of their own fault), but only that it stood with the liking of Warwick e the child of their love. If then they were such (as indeed they were) and that those relations we have must come from that people, it were better (I think) to bury their traditions than refute their objections, were not our age, apt to err, infected with this folly.

For his brother K. Edward: f though his vices seem not to add virtues to this condemned Prince, yet questionless they do; making all his ill-estimated actions of another nature. He obtained the crown, but rather fortunately than wisely, were not all wisdom thought folly, to which Fortune lends not success. For I think, Lust, or if you will term it Love, could not more have prevailed with the most licentious creature than at once to break the bonds of amity, discretion and policy, and all to enjoy a woman, in respect of his height, base:[10] a widow, g and of his enemy, without bringing him either alliance, or riches; props[11] most pertinent to his new-erected buildings. Wherein, besides his breach of regal discretion, with his chiefest friend the Earl of Warwick, whom he had sent into France to treat of marriage between him and the Lady Bona, h (wherein being deluded, he became his mortallest enemy) his abuse to God was more abominable; being before betrothed[12] (as his own mother constantly affirmed) to the Lady Elizabeth Lucy: in testimony whereof he had laid such earnest, i as should have bound any common man, much more a King, to performance. How soon the wrath of God followed this his irreligious inconstancy, his being driven from the Seat-Royall[13] into exile; the birth of his son in a sanctuary,[14] (having no place else of freedom in his father’s kingdom); the misery of all his partakers sufficiently testify. In which general misery, who did more truly follow him? Who more faithfully aided him than his now disgraced brother? Whereas his other brother k Clarence not only left him but joined in marriage l with the daughter of his principal enemy and helped[15] to expulse him: with what love, what constancy, his endeavours, his adventuring his life to restore him doth witness.

Never was he noted all the life of K. Edward to thirst after kingdom; never denied he any commandment of his Prince, but performed all his employments discreetly, valiantly, successfully. The suspicion of helping his brother Clarence to m his end, was but a suspicion, since the King’s old displeasure awaked by a new prophesy[16] was undoubtedly the cause; if otherwise (when he after repented him) he would have misliked of Gloucester, it being natural to sin; but unnatural, to ease others of their crimes. For the killing of the heir of the house of Lancaster at Tewksbury, n (if so) seems to me rather the effect of love to his brother than cruelty to the Prince: for he was an enemy, yea, the chief and principal enemy of the contrary faction. Yet it cannot be proved the action of Richard, but that it was an act wished by the King to be done, and executed in both their presences, by the Duke of Clarence, the Marquess Dorset, the Lord Hastings and others.

The death of Henry o the 6. in the Tower, can no way belong to him, since the same reason that cleareth his brother, fitteth him: he being able, if desiring his death, to have effected it by a more unworthy hand. And indeed this accusation hath no other proof than a malicious affirmation. For many (more truly) did suppose that he died of mere melancholy and grief, when he had heard of the overthrow of his friends, and slaughter of his son.[17] But if it were true, though it spots him with blood, yet it confirms his love to his Prince; which love was so coldly requited[18] as might have moved a true lover of rewards more than of virtue to have altered his endeavours, whether it were a jealousy of the nobility of his blood, or of the height of his spirit, whether the abundance of affection to be led by a woman, or that he was defective in all brotherly affection, certain it is, he rather employed him than rewarded his employments. Contrary, the Queen’s kindred, daily to rise, merely without desert, but that they were of her kindred; and their baseness being thus suddenly exalted, not only to pluck from him promotions, due to his deserts, but to envy the Duke, and contend with him; how insupportable it must be to so magnanimous a spirit, whose memory bears witness of their unworthiness, his own worth, any like spirit may imagine.

Thus continued this unequal contention, until the King, sent for before the great a King of Kings, to make an account of his greatness, left his body, to testify the world’s folly in contending for worlds; when one little part of the earth must contain them. b His successor at that time very young was wholly possessed by the mother’s blood, whom the c now Protector had great reason to fear, being ever his mortal enemy, and now most strong, by being most nearly allied to this Prince. Therefore jealous of his own preservation, of the safety of the common weal,[19] and of the ancient Nobility, with great reason and justice he executed them, whom, if he had suffered to live, were likely enough to have been the destruction of him, it, and them. But the deed accomplished, stirred up no little fear in the Queen Mother, and her faction: for the Queen’s taking sanctuary with her younger son d Richard Duke of York, without any cause that he knew, drove Gloucester to suppose that they doubted of their right, and put him in possibility of obtaining his own: wherein by ambitious e Buckingham he was assisted, who then related[20] to him afresh the unlawful marriage of his brother, that being unlawful, consequently his children were bastards, and so undoubtedly the crown was lawfully his; to which discourse he annexed protestations of furtherance. Though perhaps an earthly spirit would not have been moved with these motives, but rather have desired safety than sovereignty: yet in a true heroic spirit, whose affect is aspiring, they could not but be embraced, using the wings of Time, to bring him to that height. Be not obstinate (Mortality) against this claiming axiom, for hourly you commit worser errors, more grovelling, more base. Were it not common, every day’s issue, it were admirable to note the impudence of man, who at this instant condemns actions, which himself would instantly accomplish, were he permitted by occasion. The Queen Mother’s fear, his own right, Buckingham’s aid and his own jealousy to erect a Prince, too young to govern himself, much less others, but was likely to be governed by his mother, and her kindred, the Protector’s mortallest enemies, men of mean birth, not inured[21] to government, such as were likely to destroy the ancient peers, to fortify their new nobility, could not but draw a true discerning spirit, to favour himself, to protect the ancient nobility, to defend the people from being wasted and oppressed by the ambition and tyranny of new unexperienced statists, and to respect his own preservation, rather than others. For well he saw he could not live, unless he were a King; that there was no safety, but in sovereignty. Should I put thee in choice (condemning Reader) whether thou wouldst not be rather than be King; thou wouldst perhaps answer no: but that answer should proceed, rather from the knowledge of thy want of power to royalise thee than through the abundance of thy[22] modesty. No, no, it is a desire befitting the most worthy desirer and were all men’s affections so high, their actions would not prove so unworthy.

The State being thus in labour with innovation, the Peers in council about their Infant King’s coronation,[23] all busy, yet dissenting in their business; in a council held[24] at the Tower, Hastings Lord f Chamberlain was apprehended, and no sooner apprehended, but executed. The not leisurely proceeding by form of law, may seem to plead Hastings’ innocence, the Protector’s cruelty. But they that consider the nature of the people of that time, apt to sedition, greedy of innovation, and likely to be glad of so pitiful a colour (for Hastings was a man grown very popular) will hold the Protector in that action very judicial and, if guilty of anything, of discretion, and policy. But could Hastings be innocent, whom g Commines reporteth to be a pensioner of the French King, Louis the 11. the only subtle Prince of that time? He, of all others, that most affected tyranny, and was naturally the mortal enemy of this kingdom. Or was he fit to be a statesman or counsellor, who being corrupted by the bribes of an enemy, had dissuaded his master, the late King Edward the 4., from assisting the oppressed Lady a the heir of Burgundy, against Louis the French King,[25] whereby that Lady was driven to seek aid elsewhere, who, otherwise, was likely to have married with the Duke of Clarence, or some other English Prince, and so to have united that Dukedom to this Crown, to the eternal benefit and security of both countries. Who gloried in his private revenges, who not only enticed his master, but accompanied him in all sensuality: who in the deflowering of men’s wives, c and such other his unprincelike actions, was his perpetual attendant, and sometimes (as it is thought) would begin to him? d Doctor Shaw’s sermon not a little illustrates the malice of his accusers: for I think, no man that is discreet will imagine this Prince so indiscreet, as to have witness that he commanded that sermon and gave instructions what should be said. Then how do our chroniclers report it for truth, were not their malice greater than either their truth or their judgement? But they are historians and must be believed.

Alas, poor men, how would they be believed, whose greatest authorities (as a learned and honourable Knight[26] writeth) are built upon the notable foundation of hear-say? Men that have much aid to accord differing writers and to pick truth out of partiality. But it is not mentioned that Shaw ever executed this action, with alleging him to be the cause. It is likely indeed that Shaw being ambitious, gaping after[27] preferment, supposing some such intent in the Protector (as he had a reaching head) was bold to set his rhetoric to sale, to publish his fancies: but seeing his hopes vanish into smoke, and his expectation deluded, seeing the Protector neither rewarded, nor regarded his rhetoric, he soon after languished and died: a just example to teach theologians so boldly to intermeddle with Princes’ affaires, before they be commanded, for (doubtless) had the Protector set him a work, he would have paid him his hire. But if it were so, that he commanded the sermon (as that is yet unproved) was that an offence to make the people so publicly partakers of his right, yea, to prostitute his cause to their judgements? For charging his mother with adultery, was a matter of no such great moment, since it is no wonder in that sex and surely he had more reason to adventure her fame than his Kingdom, because of two evils it is wisdom to choose the least. If it were true, it was no injustice to publish it; and what could be expected from him, but true justice, who was so impartial, that he would not spare his own mother? If untrue; good faith, he was therein to[28] blame, and her innocence the more meritorious; but certain it is, the people approved his right: for he was crowned f with such consent, and so great applause both of Peers and people, that if we will judge by the outward behaviour (the only mark our judgments may or can level at) we must determine them so contented, as no actions which might testify the satisfaction of their minds, were omitted:[29] surely, if ever the unjudicial multitude did anything judicially, it was in receiving this Prince, whom his chief disgracers cannot but acknowledge for valiant; then who was more meet to restrain domestic, to subdue foreign seditions? For these civil dissensions[30] had almost wasted and made desolate this populous nation: discreet he was and temperate (two so rare and excellent qualities, as he that truly possesseth them, meriteth the possession of a diadem) for in these virtues, joined with that cardinal virtue Fortitude (whereof also he had a very large portion) consisteth the soul of sovereignty, which whosoever wanteth (be he a while never so powerful) his own greatness so crusheth him, that he forfeiteth all in a moment; most liberal he was, desiring rather to want, than to suffer worth unrewarded, and this liberality is the only true nurse, and fosterer of virtue; virtue unrewarded being insensible, our flesh being governed, advised, yea mastered by our senses. This worthy, this princely ornament some calumniators have sought in him to deface, alleging that his liberality to some proceeded from his extortion from others: but even those cannot deny him to have been politic and wise. Then is it likely that a Prince of his wisdom and policy could not discern between the worthy and unworthy? And to take from undeservers, to bestow upon deservers, must be acknowledged a virtue.

He was neither luxurious, nor an epicure, not given to any riot, nor to excess, neither in apparel, nor play: for had he been touched with any of these vices, doubtless they which object lesser crimes would not have omitted these: then (without question) he was largely interested in virtues (their contraries), but those (through malice) are either not registered, or (if registered) so infamed,[31] as if all his virtues had a vicious intent: yet to acknowledge the virtues of the vicious, in such a right, that what historian willingly omitteth them, therein becometh vicious himself. But in all that I have hitherto among the[32] vulgar observed:

Culpatur factum, non ob aliud, quam exitum:[33] they approve, or disprove all things by the event; which though sometimes it proveth like the cause, yet it is more often governed by the will of the divine providence. And surely, but that the gracious goodness of God, to manifest the weakness of human policy, overthrew his designs, took from him his kingdom;[34] and contrary either to man’s hope, or our merit, united by a blessed and happy conjunction a the two dissenting factions, to the true establishing of sweet peace and prosperity of this desolate kingdom: for, otherwise, had he lived to have left issue to have succeeded him, such might have been his and their merits, that Fame would have been no more injurious to him than to his predecessors, the fourth Henry and Edward, whose reigns were polluted with much more royal blood: for he omitted nothing, that in wisdom, or true policy might secure himself, or establish peace, or good laws in this kingdom.

His statutes are extant; what can be found in them not becoming a King? What, not befitting the service of God? The worship of religion? The good of his country? Yea, I have heard of some, accounted both good lawyers and good statists, that in those three years of his government, there were more good statutes for the weal-public enacted than in 30 years before. He was no taxer of the people, no oppressor of the commons, though he came to manage an estate whose treasure was exceedingly exhausted; no suppressor of his subjects, to satisfy either licentious humours, or to enrich light-headed flatterers. But (alas) who robs virtue, but ingratitude, detraction, and malice? What a curse is it to mortality, that no fashion of life, no merits, no regards can free Princes from discontentments in their life, and infamy after death? Who is it that hears of anyone so endued, so loaded with virtues, that judgeth him not happy? Yet he is defamed; and by whom? Even by those, for whom he cared, laboured, and omitted nothing that might profit, committed nothing that might prejudice them.

This, the charge and commandment that he gave presently after his coronation, to the Lords and Gentlemen (whom he sent home into their countries) that they should in their countries see justice duly administered and impartially (that no wrong, nor extortion should be done to his subjects) doth testify; this, his laws, and all his actions approve: yet neither the care of his country, his laws, nor actions, are thought to be sufficient to plead his equity and innocence, for malicious credulity rather embraceth the partial writings of indiscreet chroniclers and witty play-makers,[35] than his laws and actions, the most innocent and impartial witnesses.

It is laid to his charge (as a main objection) that he was ambitious; let us examine the truth of this accusation. Was he ambitious, who was only content with the limits of his own country, who sought to be rather famous for instituting of good laws, than for achieving great conquests? No, no, he wanted nothing to make him an accomplished Prince, but that he was not ambitious enough: for had he imitated that worthy King Henry the 5. who, in a like unsettled estate, led out the Nobility and people, to make wars upon foreign enemies, to make conquest of France, and to imbrue[36] their warlike swords (lately bloodied against one another)[37] in the blood and bowels of strangers: he might (perhaps) have had a fortunate success, for he wanted not the like title, he was no less valiant, no less politic. So might he have re-conquered that kingdom, and those territories, which by the pusillanimity of some of his predecessors were given away, and lost, and (peradventure)[38] so busied that stirring heads of the nobility and people, that they should have had no leisure to think upon any innovation or part-taking at home: so might he happily have secured himself, and enlarged the bounds of his conquests beyond any of his ancestors. What lets or obstacles could hinder him from those glorious enterprises? His subjects were warlike, trained up in arms; somewhat too much exercised in blood, because it was in their own. His neighbours, the French, were governed by b a king, who had some policy, but so little valour, that he would rather yield to any capitulation, than hear the sound of an adversary drum. So that his people, being unured[39] to wars, were easily to be conquered by that nation, which had so often beaten them in the height of their daring.

The Scots, their colleagues, he had already been victorious over: his name among them was grown terrible. For in the time of his brother he won from them many castles and holds. But principally he conquered c Berwick, the chief and principal town upon their frontiers, a piece of special importance, either to make easy our entrance into that kingdom or to keep them from invading ours. So that I cannot justly accuse him of any crime so much, as that his ambition stretched not far enough. To justify his adversaries’ accusation, in this time chanced the death of his two young d nephews in the Tower, whose deaths promising quiet to him, and wholly imposed upon him, how truly, I have reason to doubt, because his accusers are so violent, and impudent, that those virtues (which in other men are embraced, for which they are esteemed as Gods) they impute to him rather to be enamellers[40] of vices, than really virtues: his humility they term secret pride; his liberality, prodigality; his valour, cruelty and bloodthirstiness. Yet in these days, their partial opinions are thought to be of validity sufficient, to make proof of any imputation. But if it were so, that their deaths were by him contrived and commanded, the offence was to God, not to the people: for the depriving them of their lives, freed the people from dissension. And how could he demonstrate his love more amply than to adventure[41] his soul for their quiet? But who knoweth, whether it were not God’s secret judgement, to punish the father’s transgression in the children? And if it be so, complain of their fate, not Richard’s cruelty (for in these fatal things it falls out, that the high-working powers, make second causes unwittingly accessary to their determinations), yet, in policy, Princes never account competitors (how young so ever) innocent, since the least colour of right provokes innovating humours to stir up sedition, which (once kindled) threatens the subversion, both of Princes and subjects.

And if some wise and politic Princes have imprisoned, and put to death, such as have been reputed their heirs and successors, because some factious heads (weary of good government, and hoping for authority by alteration) have sought to establish them before their times (as commonly giddy-brained[42] people do more reverence the sun’s rising than his fall), had not King Richard great reason to deprive them of their lives, who were not to succeed him, but, in many men’s judgements, had most right to be invested before him with the diadem? And (indeed) the removing such occasions of civil wars in a well-ruled commonwealth, is most profitable, most commendable; being no cruelty, but pity, a jealousy of their subjects, and a zealous regard of their own safeties. And (indeed) if we duly consider how much the duty we owe to a country exceeds all other duties, since in itself it contains them all, that for the respect thereof, not only all tender respects of kindred, or whatsoever other respects of friendship, are to be laid aside; but that even long-held opinions, (rather grounded upon a secret of government than any ground of truth) are to be forsaken: since the end, whereto anything is directed, is ever to be of more noble reckoning, than the thing thereto directed; that therefore the weal-public is more to be regarded than any person or magistrate that thereunto is ordained, the feeling consideration hereof moved King Richard, to set principally before his eyes the good estate of so many thousands, over whom he had reigned, rather than so to hoodwink[43] himself with affection, as to suffer his realm to run to manifest ruin.

If any man shall object that his course was strange, and unlawful, let him know that new necessities require new remedies;[44] and for him there was no remedy, but this one. Then if for this action he ought to be condemned, it is for indiscretion in the managing; for as safely might he have had the realm’s general consent, in disposing of their lives, as of their kingdom. Had he held a secret execution best, he might have effected it more secretly: but he rather chose a middle way, content to let the people know it, holding their knowledge equal with their consents. And it should seem, the people (though they were at that time very factious) yet approved thereof: for we find not that in any action, either inward or outward, they showed any dislike. And (truly) such is the difference between the thoughts, the actions, the dispositions of princes and subjects, that I hold no subject sufficiently judicial to censure them: their courses so unlike, that what is meet, expedient[45] in a Prince, in a lower fortune is utterly unmeet, inexpedient. Therefore let no servile condition adventure to condemn them, since all such eyes lose their faculty, if they but gaze against the sun of Majesty. It is sufficient for us to know how to obey; this Nature commandeth and exacteth of us, but to search into the actions of our commanders, dilates more curiosity, than honesty – Nay, though we would, we cannot: for our knowledge extends to things equal or inferior; those above us, in divinity, are comprehended only by faith; in terrene matters (if superating[46] our estates) they are only snatched at by supposition. And this our laws approve, which appoint every man to be tried by his peers; shall then the head, the director of civil policy, the anointed Majesty of a King, be barred from the right allowed to subjects? No (surely), it is preposterous, most unlawful to condemn a king, if not found faulty by a a Jury of Kings. Were man in his innocence, this advice were not lost: but being nuzzled[47] in misusing of his malicious tongue, ever to condemn others, never to amend themselves, it is (as they will be for their abuse) perpetually lost; no more than for them.

Let us yet further clear this wronged Prince: it is constantly affirmed (say our chroniclers) that he first noised,[48] after, contrived the death of his wife: b and that it was bruited,[49] before it was effected, thereby with her sorrows to confirm the report. This evidence they adjudge pregnant, and effectual enough to condemn him: did Fame never lie? What are more generally received for untruths than flying reports, seeing no creature sensible will give credit to Fame, or take her word, without a surety, whom they may assuredly know to be credible? But constantly (say our chroniclers) could their words be so constant, whose actions were the very stage of inconstancy, who opposed, deposed kings at their pleasure, and (to make sure to be no worse than they were) swore allegiance to two c princes at once, and with both broke their oaths? But I will spend no more time, in proving the vanity of these chroniclers, since their own pen contradicts itself; first, showing the affections of this people to be mutinous, and after, approving them: for certain it is (but uncertain that the King caused it) that such a rumour there was, and that it made a great impression in the Queen, deeming (as women are ever fearful) this prophetical relation to be the forerunner of her end: which bewailing to her husband, he fought with all kindness to remove that melancholy fantasy. What more could he do to testify his love, to cure her passions? But how absurd is it to think or imagine, that the king contrived her death? Where, if he had pleased to marry elsewhere (for that is made the cause) he might and would have used a more safe means by a divorce: did not the French king Louis the 12. (because a his wife was barren, and crooked-backed) sue a divorce, and obtained it from Pope Alexander the sixth, and afterward by his dispensation married with Anne Duchess of Britain, the widow of his predecessor Charles the 8? Might not King Richard have done the like: for he had the like cause (his wife being barren)[50] whereof he had often complained to Rotherham then Archbishop of York? And the Popes of those times were not so nice conscienced[51] to deny Princes such requests, but were easily won thereunto, either by favour or rewards: therefore, that he contrived her death, was a slanderous, false and absurd accusation; but her b time was come, which Mortality might sorrow, but sorrow might not prevent, Death being deaf to all human lamentations.

After her death, being desirous to reconcile himself to all such as held themselves offended (as at his coronation he had done with Fogg, a mean attorney who had highly offended him)[52] he laboured to win the one sort with benefits and rewards, and freely pardoned the others misbehaviours and offences: he had no cause to fear Fogg, therefore fear was not the cause. No, it was a worthy, a kingly humility, that would rather abate of his greatness, than to have it stained with the blood of so mean a vassal, for a crime committed against himself, yet was he guilty of counterfeiting his Royall hand and Signet, and of a most untrue and infamous libel:[53] therefore how falsely do our chroniclers seek to clear Collingborn, who was (as may appear by his inditement c) executed for treason against the state, nor for that rhyming, foolish, ridiculous libel? For neither they, nor any other can ever prove, that ever he revenged any injury whatsoever committed particularly against himself. For the good and safety of his kingdom and people, he was zealous, he was fervent: for, only for their peace, for their quiet, he was content to suffer his nearest kinsmen, his dearest friends to be executed; so now with the mother Queen he laboured reconciliation, he often solicited it, at the last he effected it. This rare, this excellent work of Christianity, this true cognisance of a religious Queen, our chroniclers defame, and impute it to her as an horrible crime: such is the obstinate error of mankind, that, when hatred is by God absolutely prohibited, they dare say and maintain the contrary: but (were not they thus corrupt, partial, governed wholly by affection, not truth), their histories would be the wisest guides, making men that are young in years, old in judgement, making experience most precious most cheap: for knowledge, judgement, and experience are dearly purchased, when we must wander into infinite errors, ere[54] we can be perfect in our way; nay, they were most dear, were they had with no other expense, but growing old before we enjoy them, waxing rotten, ere they grow ripe. The end and scope of this reconciliation was to unite himself in marriage with his d niece: a contract (no doubt) inconvenient and prohibited the vulgar; but amongst statesmen it is like to produce infinite good, both to Prince and people. It is an inconvenience, most convenient, nothing strange, because usual and accustomed amongst princes: tolerated, yea allowed by their received oracle of divinity, the Pope, who considering the cause, ordinarily dispenseth with the consanguinity. It is granted that this desire of marriage was mentioned by this King, in respect of the public peace, to make satisfaction to the mother, in exalting the daughter, for the dejecting[55] of the sons, and to avoid the effusion of much of the people’s blood,[56] which was likely to be spilt, if his niece should marry elsewhere: as if (say our[57] chroniclers) the first could not be established, the latter avoided without this platform of policy. No, had not God’s secret working been beyond man’s wisest apprehension, it could not: for well he knew the head-strong obstinacy of this people could hardly be kept in awe by a man, therefore impossible to be restrained by children:[58] this made him dispossess them of their kingdom, and (peradventure) of their lives, for had they been suffered to live, they would ever have been the fire-brands of new seditions; and therefore he thought it more convenient, they should be quenched[59] with their own blood than with the blood of infinite numbers of the people; yet to make satisfaction for this wrong (if it were a wrong to deprive the disturbers of the common good), he was contended and much laboured to marry their sister, his niece; but he is therefore adjudged ill. Why? Because his accusers would be reputed good, though (without doubt) he was a good Prince, and they all, or the most part of all, evil, fantastic,[60] and seditious people. And even at this day, though the fortunate and successful government of our later Princes hath somewhat altered their natures and bettered their conditions; yet it were a less difficult quest to find one good man than many. But it pleased not the divine ordainer of marriage to permit that conjunction, but rather to set a period[61] at once to his kingdom and life.

About the time of the plotting of this marriage, the judicial Buckingham,[62] (not thinking himself sufficiently regarded) grew discontent, and got the Prince’s favour to retire himself into the country; where (no doubt) his fantastic melancholy would soon have vanished (being a man more happy in the inheritance of his father than in the legacy of nature, discretion, or judgement) had not the prisoner corrupted the jailor: namely, a Moreton, Bishop of Ely (committed by King Richard to his custody) who finding this Duke discontented, more desirous to inflame his grieves than to redress them, with his fiery wit so wrought upon the Duke’s combustible matter, that suddenly he brought him to kindle a fire of rebellion and to take up arms against his Sovereign: this K. Richard soon hearing, he prosecuted him as an enemy and so laboured (what by his own wisdom, what by his especials)[63] that within a while he took his head from b his body, for being no better able to advise him in his proceedings: was it a fault to punish perjury[64] in him, who had sworn true allegiance? Then, the executing of law is a sin; if so, let transgressors be accounted innocent, and magistrates and judges guilty of transgression. And had this been the action of some other Prince, it had been good, just, necessary; but being his, it is censured the contrary: so that sin is not sin, nor virtue accounted virtue, by their own natures or effects, but are made virtues or vices, by the love or hate that is born to the committer: such is our human understanding, as they rather confound all things, than by distinguishing them to make choice of the worthiest; for let a nobleman be popular, if he have an ill face, it is termed warlike, his drunkenness is termed good fellowship, his slovenliness, humility, his prodigality, liberality; thus is virtue suppressed, and forced with her own titles to adorn her mortallest adversaries. But, to return to our defamed King had not his mercy exceeded his cruelty, his safety had been better secured, and his name not so much subject to obloquy:[65] for though he cut off the head of a mighty conspirator, yet he suffered the conspiracy to take so deep root, that (in the end) the branches thereof overtopped his glory, and overshadowed his greatness. c For the Countess of Richmond labouring in her son’s right, daily enticed and inveigled[66] many to be of her faction: to strengthen then which the more, it was plotted between the two mothers to join a the two dissenting houses in unity, by b a marriage. This practice the King well knew; yet mercy, love, lenity so prevailed with him, that he only sought to prevent that conjunction by uniting his brother’s daughter with himself and inflicted no other punishment on the Countess, but only the committing of her to the custody of her c husband. Would a cruel bloodthirsty prince have done so? Could anything have been performed with more mildness and lenity? Could he do less than let her understand that he knew her secretest practices? Surely, if he were an usurper (as that he could not be now, standing after the death of his nephews in the same rank, that Edward the fourth his brother did) yet his equity in justice, his mercy in pardoning offenders, his care of religion, his providence for the safety of the people, should and ought to have tempered the bitterness of his most malicious enemies, with no less merciful gentleness he used her husband, (and that) at such time as her son was already landed, and made claim to the kingdom: for he only took his son d the Lord Strange as an hostage and then suffered him to go into the country to levy[67] his forces: so far was he from blood and cruelty, as, though he knew his alliance to the contrary faction, a motive, sufficient to make him (as indeed he did) incline to their aid, though he might justly suspect him, and could not have wanted colour to have beheaded him (as being father in-law to his competitor), yet he only detained his son in his camp; and when he had assured notice of his father’s disloyal revolt, yet he suffered the hostage of his loyalty to live – an evidence effectual enough to testify, that he desired rather to settle than to overthrow the quiet of this land; that he laboured to win the hearts of his subjects rather with meekness than cruelty; what Prince could have done less? Nay, what King would not have done more? Since both the effect and the present fear, are both such inward tormentors, that it is hard to determine which is most grievous: so opposite, so contrary to the nature of a Prince (born, not to fear, but to be feared) that it is most just, most natural, to remove such a terror; but now e the Heir of Lancaster being come to challenge the Crown, what did the King? Did his spirits fail him? Was his magnanimous courage daunted? No, he then gathered new spirit, he new-steeled his courage, he withstood him with the height of fortitude; protesting rather to die valiantly than to live less than a King. With what a Roman-like spirit did he resist fortune? Being overthrown, how heroically did he encounter with death? This our detracting chroniclers cannot but acknowledge: for so high, so powerful was his magnanimity, that (in spite of malice) it prevaileth, and (like the sun) breaketh through the misty clouds of his adversary’s slanders:[68] was it a fault to withstand the Lancastrian heir’s claim? Then those are faulty, who being in possession of lands, to prove good their title, prosecute suits, and are overthrown by the law, for the sentence of judgement makes them to perceive that to be an error, which before they imagined none. Besides, he knew well, that his kingdom and life had both one period, to which life he was persuaded his competitor had no right, and therefore he would never be guilty of such a sin (as wilfully to betray it) till he which had lent it him required repayment.

Had his life, his actions been most abominable; yet (like a slave) to have yielded his throat to the execution, would have been an imputation beyond all other imputations: but could he as openly have manifested his other virtues, as he did his valour and policy, the world’s opinion had been otherwise, and I neither had taken such pains to defend his innocence, nor in some weak judgements to endanger mine own. But surely he did courageously and valiantly withstand his enemies, with great expedition rallying his forces, and performing all things with wonderful celerity, he went to encounter the disturbers of his quiet.[69]

It is reported that, the night before the day of battle, he dreamed a most a dreadful and horrible dream, which by our chroniclers is interpreted to be a testimony of his wicked and tyrannous life.[70] Did not Caesar, b before he attained the Empire, dream that he knew his own mother carnally? Had not both Dion and Brutus the figures of terrible spirits represented onto them, the night before their end? And yet these were reputed good men and lovers and protectors of their country; and because king Richard dreamed with some terror, must his life of necessity be evil? O vain! O frivolous objection! But they hold this dream to be a compunction[71] of his conscience: happy Prince to have so indiscreet slanderers, for how could they more truly witness his integrity? Since only they which reverence and fear God, and endued with that inquiring conscience, which censureth their actions: for they which are given over to a reprobate sense, and insensible of that good angel, which seeketh by telling us our faults, to make us repent our sins past, and to be wary, lest we commit any more.

Surely, I think, his conscience (like a glass)[72] presented before him the figures of all his actions; which he faithfully examining, humbly craved pardon for his misdeeds: and so having made atonement with God, like a devout penitentiary settled his mind, he went with alacrity to the bloody court, where the cause of his life was to be tried: where his sword being his advocate, pleaded most valiantly. In all which tumult, he failed neither in discretion, nor in execution, but boldly encouraged his soldiers, both by word and example.

There is extant in our chronicles, an a oration, which at that time he made to his soldiers, wherein he confesseth his errors, and desireth pardon of all the world, as he hoped his repentant tears had obtained mercy of God.

What a saint-like thing was this, for a King, to crave forgiveness of subjects? For a general, to humble himself to his soldiers? What could it be but the effect of a more divine, than terrene understanding? If (like the common fashion of men) he would have put his affiance[73] in humane assistance, and neglected his God, he might (in common reason) have promised himself the victory: being double in forces, and nothing inferior, either in valour or policy; but he acknowledged and confessed the power of the most powerful: he knew that it was not the multitude of men, but God, that giveth the victory. And therefore having first made peace with his own soul, he humbled himself, and asked pardon of those over whom he had government: knowing no government to be so perfect, wherein some good men are not offended.

This was the effect of his compunction; to put him in remembrance, that Princes are mortal, and that his being a King, bound him to a more strict reckoning, than one that enjoyeth a lesser fame.[74] Now whether this merciful remembrance of God disgraceth him, judge ye that have grace. But now (both battles being joined) what did this valiant King? Did he only stand to give directions to others? No, he did rigorous execution with his sword upon his enemies.

Did he, when he perceived some of his subjects disloyally to revolt, and that his forces were put to the worst, think upon yielding or flight? Though by some of his faithfullest servants he was counselled to flee, and for that purpose presented with a horse of wonderful speed, yet he would not:[75] for having been inured to conquest, he scorned[76] to yield: having been a king, he would not die a vassal; and therefore, because the garland was a Crown, the prize a kingdom; victory, Majesty, and perpetual renown the reward, this Lion-hearted King courageously charging his spear, ran into the battalion of his adversaries; where, with his own hands he slew the stout a Sir William Brandon, standard-bearer of his enemy: he overthrew the strong and valiant Sir John Cheney,[77] and singled out his competitor, who being the most heroic and valiant Prince of those times, yet had doubtless been slain, had not he been rescued by S. William Stanley,[78] who came happily with three thousand men to his rescue, who on all sides encompassing King Richard, so assailed him, that though he did more than a man, though his sword acted wonders, yet being oppressed by so great a multitude, he was there manfully slain; not overcome, for he conquered the betrayers of men in danger, passion, and fear.

Thus lost he both kingdom and life, but nothing diminished his interior virtues: when the adjudged punishment is performed, our laws do account the offender as clear of the crime, as if he never had committed it. Why should this common benefit be denied a King, since if guilty, his blood made restitution, and being dead, his royal body was despoiled of all kingly ornaments, left naked, and not only unroyally, but inhumanely, and reproachfully dragged? Yet neither can his blood redeem him from injurious tongues, nor the reproach offered his body, be thought cruel enough, but that we must still make him more cruelly infamous in pamphlets and plays. Compare him now (judicious Reader) impartially with other Princes; judge truly of all their actions, their form of government, and their statutes and ordinances, the upholders, the strength, the sinews[79] of government; and thou shalt find him as innocent of cruelty, extortion, and tyranny as the most; as wise, politic, and valiant as any: if so, censure him, his actions, his ordinances, according to their deserts, and this treatise of mine as a charitable well-wishing to a scandalised and defamed king.

Yet for all this know, I hold this but a paradox.


[1] “The party that brings a suit in a court of law; a complainant, a prosecutor. Opposed to defendant” (OED n., 1a). The term “bill” here refers to the written statement of a case pleaded by the plaintiff in court.

[2] Cornwallis’s main source seams to be Thomas More’s biography of Richard III. Indeed his History of Richard the Third begins as follows: “Richard, the third son, of whom we now entreat, was in wit and courage equal with either of them, in body and prowess far under them both, little of stature, ill-featured of limbs, crookbacked, his left shoulder much higher than his right, hard-favored of visage, and such as is in states called warly in other men, otherwise. He was malicious, wrathful, envious, and from afore his birth, ever froward. It is for truth reported that the Duchess his mother had so much ado in her travail that she could not be delivered of him uncut, and that he came into the world with the feet forward, as men be born outward; and (as the same fame runneth) also not untoothed: whether men of hatred report above the truth, or else that nature changed her course in his beginning, which in the course of his life many things unnaturally committed.” (cited from Levine, Nina (2011), Richard III: Evans Shakespeare Edition, Wadsworth: Cengage Learning, 213) Read an edited version of the text here. Shakespeare gives a similar description of Richard in his Henry VI, part III: “Thy mother felt more than a mother’s pain, / And, yet brought forth less than a mother’s hope, / To wit, an indigested and deformed lump, / Not like the fruit of such a goodly tree. / Teeth hadst thou in thy head when thou wast born, / To signify thou camest to bite the world: / And, if the rest be true which I have heard, / Thou camest—” (5.6.3044-51)

[3] The term is similar to “hunchbacked”.

[4] I. e. disabled in a limb.

[5] “Having a bad or unpleasing appearance, aspect, or features; ill-looking, uncomely. (Chiefly of persons)” (OED adj., 2.a).

[6] Act of generosity.

[7] “Devoting earnest attention or pains; paying regard or attention; attentive, heedful, assiduous, intent” (OED adj., 1).

(a) Rich. D. of York, father of Edw. the fourth, George D. of Clarence and Rich. the third. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(b) Edw. E. of March, eldest son of R. D. of York, after K. by the name of Edw. the fourth. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[8] Edward IV gained the throne in 1461 on the death of his father in battle after Richard of York challenged the rule of Henry VI.

[9] To dusk: “figurative. To obscure, darken, cloud, sully” (OED v., 2.2b).

(c) For the dukedom of York, as his right, from his father D. of York. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(d) K. Henry the sixth. [Cornwallis’s own note] King of England and France (as Henry II), he was deposed by Edward IV during the Wars of the Roses. He was restored to the throne few years after but lost the power again and was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

(e) Rich. Neville, Earl of Warwick, surnamed the King-maker. [Cornwallis’s own note] One of the leaders during the Wars of the Roses, he is known for his role of arbiter of the royal power switching side from Yorkist to Lancastrian.

(f) K. Edward the fourth. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[10] “Low in the social scale; not noble, low-born; relating or belonging to the lower social classes. Now chiefly hist.” (OED adj., 7.6b)

(g) Lady Eliz. Gray, widow of sir John Gray Knight, afterward married to K. Edward the fourth. [Cornwallis’s own note] John Gray of Groby was a minor supporter of the House of Lancaster.

[11] I. e. support.

(h) Lady Bona, niece to the French King Louis the eleventh and daughter to Louis D. of Savoy. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[12] “Engaged for marriage” (OED adj., 2.1).

(i) For he had got her with child. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[13] I.e. the throne.

[14] Edward V was born in Westminster Abbey, where the Queen Elizabeth (Woodville) took shelter while the King was in exile.

(k) George D. of Clarence, second brother of K. Ed. the 4. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(l) He married Isabell, daughter of Richard Neville Earl of Warwick. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[15] In both the 1616 and 1617 editions we can find the archaic form “holpe”, past tense of “to help”.

(m) He was drowned in a malmsey butt in the Tower. [Cornwallis’s own note] He was imprisoned, put to trial and sentenced to death for treason against his brother King Edward IV, but his death is still surrounded by mystery.

[16] According to the prophecy that circulated at the time, someone whose name started with ‘G’ would kill King Edward. He imprisoned and executed George, Duke of Clarence, instead of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The prophecy was reported by several historians and cited also by Shakespeare in his Richard III: “This day should Clarence closely be mew’d up, / About a prophecy, which says that ‘G’ / Of Edward’s heirs the murder shall be.” (1.1.30-41)

(n) Edw. Prince of Wales, son of K. Henry the 6. slain after the battle of Tewkesbury. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(o) The death of Henry the 6. in the Tower. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[17] Shortly after the battle of Tewkesbury, defeated and imprisoned, Henry VI died in the Tower of London.

[18] I. e. paid for, rewarded.

(a) The death of K. Ed. the 4. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(b) King Edward, Prince of Wales, son to K. Ed. the 4. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(c) Richard D. of Gloucester made Protector. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[19] I. e. the common well-being.

(d) Richard D. of York, younger son of Edward the 4. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(e) Hen. Stafford D. of Buckingham. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[20] Here in the sense of “give an account of” (OED v., 1.2a).

[21] I. e. accustomed.

[22] In the 1616 edition it was mistyped as “ofthy”, then corrected in 1617.

[23] Edward V was only 12 years old. (John Cannon, Anne Hargreaves (2009), “Edward V”, The Kings and Queens of Britain 2 rev. ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 242-243)

[24] In both the 1616 and 1617 editions we can find the archaic form “holden”.

(f) Wil. L. Hastings, Chamberlain to Edward the 4. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(g) Phil. de Commines, Lord of Argenton in his History. [Cornwallis’s own note] Philippe de Commines, French historian, wrote six books on Louis XI and two on Charles VIII known as Memoires. In book VI, he writes: “This Lord Hastings was at that time high chamberlain of England, an office of great reputation, and executed singly by one man. It was with great difficulty and solicitation that he was made one of the king’s pensioners: […] he allowed him a pension of a thousand crowns a-year.” (Dowall, W. M (ed.) (1817), The Historical Memoirs of Philip de Comines Containing: The Transactions of Louis XI and of Charly VIII of France and of Edward IV and Henry VII of England, 318)

(a) Mary sole daughter and heir of Charles D. of Burgundy, after married to Maximilian the Emperor. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[25] “King Louis XI of France contested the inheritance, claiming Burgundy and its possessions as a fief of the French crown; he seized Burgundy […] with a view to Mary marrying his son Charles and so securing the inheritance for his successors.” (Campbell, Gordon (ed.) (2005), “Louis XI”, The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance, Oxford: Oxford University Press, n. p.)

(c) Shore’s wife. [Cornwallis’s own note] This refers to Jane Shore, the mistress of Edward IV, whose marriage to William Shore was annulled.

(d) Doct. Shaw Sermon at Paul’s Cross. [Cornwallis’s own note] Shaw’s sermon delivered in 1483 “was the first public exposition of the duke of Gloucester’s claim to the throne”. (Wagner, John A. (2001), “Shaw’s Sermon (1483)”, Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses, Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 249-250)

Sir Philip Sidney in his defence of Poetry [Cornwallis’s own note] Sidney writes: “The historian scarcely gives leisure to the moralist to say so much, but that he, loaded with old mouse-eaten records, authorizing himself for the most part upon other histories, whose greatest authorities are built upon the notable foundation of hearsay; having much ado to accord differing writers, and to pick truth out of partiality […] denies, in a great chafe, that any man for teaching of virtue and virtuous actions is comparable to him.” (cited in Harmon, William (2005), Classic Writings on Poetry, New York: Columbia University Press, 125)

[27] “To gape after or for (also †to gape at, †to gape upon): to be eager to obtain, to have a longing for (something)” (OED v., 2.4a).

[28] In both witness A and B mistyped as “too”.

(f) The Coronation of K. Richard the third [Cornwallis’s own note]

[29] In witness A mistyped as “omttted”, then corrected in witness B.

[30] The civil war between Lancaster and York lasted for more than 30 years.

[31] Archaic: “Made or become infamous; branded with infamy” (OED adj., 2.2a).

[32] In witness A typed as “tee”, it was corrected in witness B.

[33] Line from Gerolamo Cardano’s Neronis Encomium, which appeared for the first time in 1562. Cornwallis might have used it as a model for his own encomium.

[34] He was defeated in battle by Henry Tudor, who became king as Henry VII.

(a) The two dissenting factions of York and Lancaster, united by the marriage of Henry the seventh to Eliz. the eldest daughter to Edw. the fourth. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[35] Besides Shakespeare, Richard III had been the subject of several plays, including Thomas Legge’s 1579 Richardus Tertius and the anonymous The True Tragedy of Richard III, published in 1594.

[36] I.e. to stain.

[37] This refers to the internal political conflicts during the reign of Henry IV, such as the rebellion of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland and his son.

[38] I. e. perhaps.

(b) Louis the 11. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[39] Now obsolete: “Unaccustomed, unused” (OED adj., 2).

(c) Berwick won from the Scots by Richard the third. [Corwallis’s own note] The possession of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the northernmost town in England, changed several times between England and Scotland: the last one when Richard invaded Scotland and retook it for England in 1482.

(d) The death of Prince Edward, and Richard D. of York in the Tower. [Cornwallis’s own note] Known as “The Princes in the Tower”, “they were taken to the Tower of London by their uncle (the future Richard III) and are generally assumed to have been murdered, but whether at the instigation of Richard III or of another is not known; two skeletons discovered in 1674 are thought to have been those of the princes.” (“Princes in the Tower”, Oxford Dictionary of English 3 ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press)

[40] From “to enamel”: “figurative. To adorn magnificently; to impart an additional splendour to what is already beautiful; to embellish superficially” (OED v., 1.1d).

[41] Here in the sense of “to risk”.

[42] Giddy: “Mad, insane, foolish, stupid. Obsolete” (OED adj., 2.1a).

[43] “figurative. To blindfold mentally; to prevent (any one) from seeing the truth or fact; to ‘throw dust in the eyes’ of, deceive, humbug” (OED v., 3.3).

[44] Verbatim from Sidney’s Arcadia in a passage reminiscent of Machiavelli.

[45] I.e. suitable.

[46] I. e. surpassing, exceeding.

(a) A King not to be condemned, but by a Jury of Kings. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[47] “To train, educate, nurture (a person) in a particular opinion, habit, custom, etc.” (OED v., 3.1a).

[48] “To spread as a report; to report, rumour” (OED v., 2.2).

(b) Anne Wife of K. Richard the 3., daughter of Ri. Neville E. of War. and widow of Prince Edward, son to Henry the 6. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[49] To bruit: “To spread as a report or rumour; to report.” (OED v., 2.2b).

(c) To Henry the 6. and Edward the 4. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(a) The wife from whom he was divorced, was Joan, daughter of Louis the 12. sister of Charles the 8. Gui. Lib. 4. [Cornwallis’s own note] There is a mistake in Cornwallis’s note as Joan was the second daughter of King Louis XI, his souce (Francesco Guicciardini’s L’Historia d’Italia book 4) accurately reports: “perché sapeva il re desiderare ardentemente di ripudiare Giovanna sua moglie, sterile e mostruosa e che quasi violentemente gli era stata data da Luigi undecimo, suo padre […]”.

[50] Richard III and Anne had only one child, Edward, who died at age 10.

[51] “Having a conscience” (OED adj.).

(b) The death of Anne wife of Richard the 3 and second daughter of Richard Neville Earl of Warwick. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[52] In his History of King Richard III, Sir Thomas More reports that “he made an open proclamation that he did put out of his mind all enmities, and he there did openly pardon all offences committed against him. And to the intent that he might show a proof thereof, he commanded that one Fogge, whom he had long deadly hated, should be brought then before him. Who, being brought out of the sanctuary nearby (for thither had he fled for fear of him) in the sight of the people, he took him by the hand.”

[53] “A leaflet, bill, or pamphlet posted up or publicly circulated; spec. one assailing or defaming the character of some person” (OED n., 4).

(c) Collingborn executed for Treason, not libelling. [Cornwallis’s own note] William Collingborn, a landowner who conspired against Richard III, is credited for authoring the couplet “The Cat, the Rat, and Lovell our dog Rule all England under a hog”, “referring to Sir William Catesby (d. 1485), Sir Richard Ratcliffe (d. 1485), Lord Lovell (1454–1487), whose crest was a dog, and King Richard III, whose emblem was a wild boar”. (Knowles Elizabeth, Partington Angela (1999), “William Collingbourne”, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 228)

[54] “Before” (OED prep., 2.1a).

(d) The Lady Elizabeth eldest daughter to Edw. the fourth, after wife to Henry the seventh. [Cornwallis’s own note] Rumours circulated after the death of Richard’s wife Anne, that he would marry his niece.

[55] Deject: “to overthrow” (OED v., 2.1a).

[56] Effusion of blood: bloodshed, slaughter (OED n.).

[57] Written as “sayour” in witness A, it was corrected in witness B with “say our”.

[58] The two young Princes, Edward and Richard of York.

[59] Cornwallis continues the metaphor that sees the two princes as “sparks, flames” to be “put out”.

[60] Here in the sense of “imaginative”.

[61] Here in the sense of “end”. Richard died defeated by Henry Tudor before the possible marriage.

[62] Henry Stafford, 2nd duke of Buckingham and ally to Richard III, is best known for Buckingham’s rebellion that took place in 1483 against the King.

(a) This Moreton was after in the reign of Henry the seventh Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal and Lord Chancellor of England. [Cornwallis’s own note] John Morton, a fervent opponent to King Richard III.

[63] From a corruption of the word espial, “spy” or “scout”.

(b) The death of Henry Stafford D. of Buckingham beheaded at Shrewsbury. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[64] “The violation of a promise, vow, or solemn undertaking; a breach of oath” (OED n., 1b).

[65] I. e. calumny.

(c) Margaret Countess of Richmond, wife of Thomas L. Stanley, mother of K. Henry the seventh. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[66] “To blind in mind or judgement; to beguile, deceive, cajole. Obsolete” (OED v., 1).

(a) Q. Elizabeth mother to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward the fourth, and Marg. Coun. of Rich. mother to Henry the seventh, after King. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(b) York and Lancaster. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(c) Tho. L. Stanley, after by Hen. the seventh created E. of Derby. [Cornwallis’s own note]

(d) George Lord Strange, son and heir to Tho. L. Stanley. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[67] To enlist (armed men), enrol, bring into the field (soldiers, an army)” (OED v., 3.4).

(e) Henry the 7. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[68] I. e. calumny, defamation.

[69] He faced Henry Tudor in the Battle of Bosworth.

(a) K. Rich. dream the night before the battle of Bosworth. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[70] According to H. B. Charlton, the dream was reported by Polydore Vergil, Edward Hall and Holinshed with the same assumption of being the result of a guilty and sinful conscience. (Charlton, H.B. (1948), Shakespearian Tragedy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 34)

(b) Plutarch in the life of Caesar, Dion and Brutus. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[71] I.e. remorse. Both Hall and Holinshed judge his dream as “a punccion and pricke of his synfull conscience”. (quoted in Charlton, Shakespearian Tragedy<(i>, 34)

[72] Here in the sense of “mirror”.

(a) The Oration of King Richard Holinshed’s Chronicle in the end of his reign. [Cornwallis’s own note, witness B]

[73] I.e. trust, faith.

[74] The typo “Farme” is present in both the 1616 and 1617 editions, but it was already corrected when the text was reprinted in a 1750 collection. (Cogan, F. (1750), A Second Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on the most Interesting and Entertaining Subjects, Vol. I, 261)

[75] Although we are more familiar with the lines from Shakespeare’s Richard III “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” (4.4), the anecdote was reported in Hall’s chronicles: “When the loss of the battle was imminent and apparent, they brought to him a swift and a light horse, to convey him away. He, which was not ignorant of the grudge and ill will that the common people bare toward him, casting away all hopes of hopes of fortunate success, and happy chances to come, answered, as men say, that on that day he would make an end of all battles, or else there finish his life”. (cited in Morley, Henry (1876), Cassell’s library of English literature, selected, ed. and arranged by H. Morley Volume 3, 29)

[76] I. e. despised.

(a) S. Wil. Brandon Standard-bearer to Henry the 7. slain.. He was father to Charles Brandon, after created D. of Suff. by Henry the 8. [Cornwallis’s own note]

[77] Master of the Horse to King Edward IV, after his death he changed sides and supported Henry Tudor’s claim to the throne. In the Battle of Bosworth, he was part of Henry’s personal guard.

[78] Brother of Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby.

[79]“Strength, energy, force” (OED n., 1.3).