“THE SIEGE OF HULL,” “MEDIÆVAL YORKSHIRE,”
“HULL AND YORKSHIRE FRESCOES,” ETC.
WILLIAM ANDREWS & CO.
Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co.,
WILLIAM ANDREWS AND CO.
|II.—||Battle of Stamford Bridge||15|
|III.—||After Stamford Bridge||36|
|IV.—||Battle of the Standard||53|
|V.—||After the Battle of the Standard||75|
|VI.—||Battle of Myton Meadows||83|
|VII.—||Battle of Boroughbridge||101|
|VIII.—||Battle of Byland Abbey||116|
|IX.—||In the Days of Edward III. and Richard II.||131|
|X.—||Battle of Bramham Moor||139|
|XI.—||Battle of Sandal||150|
|XII.—||Battle of Towton||165|
|XIII.—||Yorkshire under the Tudors||173|
|XIV.—||Battle of Tadcaster||177|
|XV.—||Battle of Leeds||183|
|XVI.—||Battle of Wakefield||187|
|XVII.—||Battle of Adwalton Moor||192|
|XVIII.—||Battle of Hull||196|
|XIX.—||Battle of Selby||199|
|XX.—||Battle of Marston Moor||203|
|XXI.—||Battle of Brunanburgh||216|
|XXII.—||Fight off Flamborough Head||221|
In the history of our national evolution Yorkshire occupies a most important position, and the sanguinary record of Yorkshire Battles possesses something more than material for the poet and the artist. Valour, loyalty, patriotism, honour and self-sacrifice are virtues not uncommon to the warrior, and the blood of true and brave men has liberally bedewed our fields.
It was on Yorkshire soil that the tides of foreign invasion were rolled back in blood at Stamford Bridge and Northallerton; the misfortunes attendant upon the reign of weak and incapable princes are illustrated by the fields of Boroughbridge, Byland Abbey, and Myton-upon-Swale, and, in the first days of our greatest national struggle, the true men of Yorkshire freely shed their blood at Tadcaster, Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, Adwalton Moor and Hull, keeping[x] open the pathway by which Fairfax passed from Selby to Marston Moor.
Let pedants prate of wars of kites and crows; we take national life as a unity, and dare to face its evolution through all the throes of birth, owning ourselves debtors to the old times before us, without being either so unwise or ungenerous as to contemn the bonds of association, and affect a false and impossible isolation.
To the educated and intelligent our Yorkshire Battles present interesting and important studies of those subtle and natural processes by which nations achieve liberty, prosperity, and greatness.
Hull Literary Club,
January 6th, 1891.
From the earliest ages of our recorded national history the soil of Yorkshire has been the “dark and bloody ground” of mighty chieftains and their armed thousands. Where the sickle gleams to-day amid the golden fields of autumn, our ancestors beheld the flashing steel of mighty hosts, and triumphed by the might of their red right hand, or endured the bitter humiliation of defeat.
Vain was the barrier of Hadrian’s Wall to restrain the fiery Caledonians from their prey in the old times before us, when the Roman Eagle was borne above the iron cohorts of the Empire through the remote and rugged Northland. When Severus visited the island, to maintain his rule and quell the raging storms of invasion, he found the city of York surrounded by barbarians, and encountered and drove them afar in bloody defeat When the Roman gallies bore off the last of the legionaries, and the Britons were left to their own resources, the tide of devastation spread wide and far, and the suffering people were driven to the verge of despair. According to William of Malmsbury, the Romans had drained the land of its best blood, and left it cursed with a sottish and debauched population. Hordes of Picts and Scots inundated the land, fired its villages, overthrew its cities, and slew the inhabitants with the edge of the sword. Oft has the pathetic earnestness of Gildas been quoted: “The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea throws us back on the barbarians; thus two modes of death await us, we are either slain or drowned.”
Again the clang of arms and the loud tones of war rang through the north, when the White-horse Standard of the Saxons was spread upon the breeze, and the tall, muscular warriors, with their long, fair hair and flowing beards, swept towards the borders, filling the Briton with astonishment and admiration. Then blood flowed like water, and the fiery Picts were turned to sullen flight; but, ere long, Yorkshire plain and hill groaned under a fresh burden of blood as Briton and Saxon strove together for the mastery. The tide of war ebbed and flowed around the ancient city of York, and sanguinary and numerous were the engagements that ensued before the Britons relinquished the sovereignty of the island.
The history of Edwin, King of Deira and Bernicia, is worthy of a passing notice; he was left an orphan at the tender age of three years, when King Ethelfrith seized his inheritance of Deira, and pursued his steps with implacable persistency until Redwald King of East Anglia took him under his protection. Ethelfrith at once marched upon Redwald, and two sanguinary battles followed, the usurper perishing in the last conflict. Redwald then placed Edwin upon the throne of Deira and Bernicia.
Edwin was a pagan, but on espousing the sister of Ethelbald, King of Kent, he came under the influence of Bishop Paulinus, and his conversion followed. On Easter Day, 626, Edwin gave audience to his subjects in his “regal city” on the Derwent, a few miles from York. Doubtless it was a favourable time for the presenting of petitions, for during the night the Queen had given birth to a daughter.
Towards the conclusion of the morning’s business, a messenger was ushered into the royal presence, and, when about to address the King, drew forth a long double-edged knife, with which he attempted to stab the monarch, throwing all the weight of his body into the blow. Lila, the King’s minister, perceiving his master’s danger, interposed his body, which was transpierced by the weapon, which inflicted a slight wound upon the King. Upon the instant the assassin was slain by a score of weapons, but not before he had also killed Forthhere, one of Edwin’s household. It transpired that the murderer was a servant of Cuichelm, king of the West Saxons, and was named Eumer. The knife had been poisoned, and though robbed of its virulence in passing through the body of Lila, the King had to endure somewhat at the hands of his physician, and was no doubt under some apprehension of death. In conversation with Paulinus he vowed to accept the Christian religion if he recovered from his wound, and succeeded in punishing the murderous treachery of Cuichelm, and on Whit-Sunday the infant princess received Christian baptism.
The avenging army of Northumbria burst into the fair Westland with sword and spear, and Edwin carried his banner through many a sanguinary engagement, when the strong growing corn was trampled under foot and cursed with red battle-rain, as the massy columns of Northumbria drove over the field, banners flapping overhead, javelins and stones beating in a terrible shower along the front, whilst a forest of portended pikes rent and overwhelmed all who dared to brave the dreadful onset.
On the King’s return he hesitated long before professing the Christian religion, and called his chiefs to take council with him. To his surprise the way was prepared for him. Coifi, chief of the pagan priests, doubted the power of his gods. He gave them careful service, omitted nothing, and deserved well of them, yet he was not first in the King’s favour, nor prosperous in his undertakings.
One of Edwin’s chieftains took a more just and elevated view of the subject: “The present life of man, O King, seems to me, in comparison of that time which is unknown to us, like the swift flight of a sparrow through the room wherein you sit at supper in winter, with your commanders and ministers, and a good fire in the midst, whilst storms of rain and snow prevail abroad—the sparrow, I say, flying in at one door and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry storm; but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, into the dark winter from which he had emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant. If, therefore, this new doctrine contains something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed.”
The result was that Coifi undertook to desecrate his gods, assuming sword and spear, and mounting a stallion, forbidden to priests. Great was the astonishment and awe of the people as the royal party rode towards the temple. As Coifi approached he brandished his spear, and hurled it into the building. As it clashed upon the floor an awful cry burst from the priests, but no dire catastrophe followed, and fire being applied to the temple, building and gods were alike consumed. The impotence of the pagan gods established, the conversion of the people rapidly followed, and the wise and good King reigned over a flourishing state for several years.
Unhappily, the virtues of the King and the affection of his subjects were no protection from misfortune, and the chequered life went down in ruin and defeat. Penda, the pagan King of Mercia, a wretch inured to crime, entered into a confederacy with Cadwalla, King of North Wales, and, after vowing to compass the destruction of all the Christians in the island, marched against King Edwin.
The royal Northumbrian was neither slow to mass his troops nor meet his arch-enemy; but the triumph that had so often attended his arms was not vouchsafed in this inauspicious hour; and when the terrible waves of battle rolled against each other at the village of Hatfield, near Doncaster, in the October days of 633, his throne and crown went down in the fierce storm, though brave men flung themselves before his banners, and struggled with the savage foe as long as life lingered in the hacked and bleeding frame.
Falling with honour in the van of battle, Edwin breathed out his life amidst the roar of the contending hosts, and so the day darkened ere the night closed on Christian Northumbria. By the King’s side fell his son, the gallant young Osfrid, and the slaughter of the defeated army being very great, a season of extreme depression ensued. Great as the confusion was, the dead King received the last melancholy offices, his head being buried in the porch of the church at York, and the Abbey at Whitby receiving his body.
In the year 655, when the winters of eighty years had bleached the head of the warlike and ferocious Penda, he again participated in a tremendous conflict which took place on the Field of Victory, or Winwidfield, on the northern bank of the Aire, near Leeds. The occasion of the war was as follows: Adelwald, King of Deira, was threatened by Oswy, King of Bernicia, and perceiving that he could only hope to retain his crown by compassing the ruin of that powerful monarch, he formed a league with the Kings of Mercia and East Anglia, and declared war against Oswy, who, dismayed by so powerful a coalition, strove, by every possible means, to avert the bursting of the storm. All his efforts proving futile, he humbled himself in fervent supplications for victory on the solemn eve of the impending battle, and recorded a religious vow that, in the event of his being delivered from his enemies, his infant daughter, Elfleda, should be devoted to the service of the Holy Church. While Oswy was buried in supplication the shrewd brain of Adelwald was busily revolving the position. Should Oswy be defeated, he would be at the mercy of his allies of Mercia and East Anglia, and his own destruction and the division of his kingdom might be anticipated. To obviate such a disastrous result Adelwald resolved to reserve his own forces, and leave his allies to deal with Oswy, when he might reasonably hope to secure his kingdom against the decimated army, or armies of the victor. On the morning of the 15th of November, the four Kings marshalled their forces, spearmen, and other variously armed infantry and cavalry; and Penda, animated and impetuous, his fiery spirit undimmed by the four score years that had passed over his head, rushed to the attack, and the clash of arms and tumult of war resounded over the field as the troops of Oswy nobly sustained the fierce assault. At this juncture, the crafty Adelwald, assured that the deadly game would be continued to the bitter end, began to retire his troops, and the Mercians, losing heart under the suspicion of his treachery, relaxed their efforts, and commenced a hasty and confused retreat. Penda and his numerous chieftains appealed to them, and strove to restore their broken ranks, but in vain. Oswy pressed them hard; smote them with fierce charges of cavalry, and with the rush of his serried spearmen bore down all resistance. The Kings of Anglia and East Mercia were put to the sword, and their armies decimated and scattered. Oswy, secured in the possession of life and throne, exulted in the signal victory which had blessed his arms. Amid the lifeless thousands that encumbered the sanguinary field, twenty-eight vassal chieftains of the highest rank had fallen with their Kings.
Oswy satiated his regal ambition by taking possession of the realms of his conquered adversaries, but he respected the crown of the crafty Adelwald, who retained the glittering bauble until his death, a few years later.
Before the Saxon monarchy had time to develope, the Danes visited the unhappy island with fire and sword. Coasting along the shores, interrupting the commerce, blocking up the mouths of the rivers, or penetrating far inland, their only mission to plunder and destroy, they proved a terrible curse to the nation, and brought the islanders to the verge of ruin and despair.
With the name of Penda, is associated that of a very opposite Prince, Alfred, King of the Northumbrians, as he is styled in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Alfred espoused Kyneburga, Penda’s daughter, by whom he had issue one son, Osred, who succeeded to the throne.
This talented Prince ascended the throne after many vicissitudes, and was slain at Ebberston on the 19th January, 705, and was buried in the church of Little Driffield. It appears that the country was being ravaged by a large body of Danes and Norwegians, and that Alfred pursued and engaged them, holding them to a desperate trial of arms for the whole of the short winter’s afternoon. The gloomy night was closing in on the dreadful scene, and the Northmen were breaking before the charges of the royal troops, when an arrow smote the King, and he fell in the front of battle. On the instant a Danish warrior charged the prostrate monarch, and, before a hand could be raised in his defence, wounded him in the thigh. In haste and confusion the wounded man was carried away from the scene of strife, and concealed in a cave until the invaders had retired, when he was borne to the castle of Deira-field, and every attention given to recover him from his wounds, but after a week of suffering he expired, to the regret of his subjects.
In the year 867, a great conflict for the sovereignty of Northumbria was maintained between Osbert and Ella, the former having been expelled from his throne and the latter elected thereto in his stead. At this unhappy juncture, the Danish chieftains, Hinguar and Hubba, brought a powerful fleet into the Humber, and therewith passed their land forces over the river into Northumbria, directing the march of their principal forces upon York, and marking their track in blood and ashes. The common danger arrested the course of the internecine feud, and Osbert and Ella proposed to combine their forces for the defence of the capital. Before this junction could, however, be effected the Northmen fell upon York, and Osbert, without waiting for his ally, threw himself into the city, and attacked the advancing Danes. For a time the battle raged hotly. The banners were brought to the front, and the leaders fought gallantly beneath them, animating their followers by their example and exhortations. So fierce was the defence of the Northumbrians that the Danes were driven back, but only to again struggle forward through dust and blood to the devoted city. Osbert and his chieftains strove nobly to hold up against the heavy masses that bore down upon them with such determined energy. Again and again they cast themselves upon the steel-bound ranks of their enemies, only to be borne down in the press, before the descending swords, and lie beneath the feet that pressed forward and entered the city in triumph. Scarcely had Hubba and Hinguar established themselves, before Ella approached, and addressed himself to the storming of the walls. So fierce and stubborn was the onslaught, that his troops broke through the defences and penetrated the Danish lines. The Northman was never more to be feared than when at bay, with the sword above his head. The Danes sallied out, slew or drove out all the Northumbrians who had entered the city, and, engaging them in the open field, put Ella and the flower of his army to the sword. The day was fittingly concluded by a fiendish massacre of the citizens of York.
In Saxon and Danish times Northumbria was continually invaded, and in the days of King Athelstan the famous battle of Brunanburgh was fought north of the Humber, and, if we may attach any importance to the speculations of some of our Yorkshire antiquaries, our favoured county was the scene of that desperate conflict. As a matter of fact, the exact locality of the battle has not yet been established on sufficient evidence, and no doubt our historians will continue to regard it as unascertained.
Two circumstances secured the triumph of William, Duke of Normandy, when he invaded Saxon England in the year 1066. The first was the temporary withdrawal of the Saxon fleet, for the purpose of securing supplies; the second was the enmity of Tosti Godwinsson, who incited Harold Hardrada to attempt the subjugation of the island. Had the Saxon fleet kept the sea, had Harold encountered the invader with the unbroken strength of his army of defence, the Norman might have effected a landing, but it would have been with decimated forces, and probably in the face of an army that would have offered a desperate resistance to their disembarkation, and would have called them to an even more bloody conflict than that of Senlac.
The chain of events which led to the Battle of Stamford Bridge may be traced back to that memorable scene when the aged and heroic Northumbrian, Jarl Siward, lay dying in his house at York. Disdaining to meet death in other than his customary guise of warrior and chief, he caused his servitors to invest his gigantic frame in the iron panoply of war, to arm him with the heavy sword and tempered battle-axe which he had so long and ably employed in the national service, and so breathed his last, leaving the wild hordes of Northumbria to be disposed of by King Edward, for his son, the afterwards far-famed Waltheof, was too young to rule over so extensive and warlike a province. No doubt Harold employed his great influence with King Edward to secure the aggrandisement of his own family, for his brother Tosti was invested with command of the province.
Tosti was the most froward of the sons of Godwin, and showed none of the high qualities and sincere patriotism which distinguished Godwin and his son Harold.
Cruel and passionate, Tosti was ill-fitted to govern a proud and inflammable people like the Northumbrians. The following passage from Roger of Wendover illustrates the violent disposition of the Earl: “Tosti quitted the King’s court in a rage, and coming to the city of Hereford, where his brother Harold had prepared a great feast for the King, he cut off the limbs of all the servants, and put an arm, or some other member, in each of the vessels of wine, mead, ale, or pickle; after which he sent a message to the King, that on coming to his lodgings, he would find the food seasoned to his mind, and that he should take care to carry away the delicacies with him.”
Tosti’s rule in Northumbria came to a sudden termination, A.D. 1065. The “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” thus records the event: “All the thanes in Yorkshire and Northumberland gathered themselves together, and outlawed their Earl, Tosty, and slew his household men, all that they might come at, as well English as Danish: and they took all his weapons at York, and gold and silver, and all his treasures which they might anywhere there hear of, and sent after Morkar, the son of Elgar the Earl, and chose him to be their Earl: and he went south with all the shire, and with Nottinghamshire, and Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire, until he came to Northampton: and his brother Edwin came to meet him with the men who were in his earldom, and also many Britons came with him. There came Harold, the Earl, to meet them; and they laid an errand upon him to King Edward, and also sent messengers with him, and begged that they might have Morkar for their Earl. And the King granted it, and sent Harold again to them at Northampton, on the eve of St. Simon’s and St. Jude’s Mass; and he made known the same to them, and delivered a pledge thereof to them: and he there renewed Canute’s law. But the northern men did much harm about Northampton whilst he went on their errand, inasmuch as they slew men and burned houses and corn; and took all the cattle which they came at, that was many thousand: and many hundred men they took and led north with them; so that shire, and the other shires which there are nigh, were for many years the worse. And Tosty the earl, and his wife, and all those who would what he would, went south over sea with him to Baldwin, the earl, and he received them all; and they were all the winter there.”
The indignation of Tosti was extreme, and was not unnaturally directed towards his brother, Harold, who had used his influence with the Confessor to obtain the pardon of the turbulent Northumbrians, and the confirmation of Morkar in the possession of the earldom. That Harold was actuated by personal motives cannot be questioned, for he procured the government of Mercia for Earl Edwin, and espoused the sister of these potent nobles. It was obvious that a crisis must come in his history, and in that of his country, and as a man and a patriot he could not afford to be hampered by the crimes of his brother, and by the disaffection and revolt of a province so remote and difficult of access as Northumbria. Although Harold was at the head of an army when he treated with the Northumbrians at Northampton, it is apparent from the passage already quoted that they were assembled in such numbers and array, that any attempt to reinstate Tosti in the earldom would have resulted in a battle, and probably would have necessitated an armed invasion of Northumbria.
On the 5th of January, 1066, King Edward fulfilled the number of his days, and on the morrow was buried in Westminster Abbey. From the day of his death England entered upon a long course of stormy and disastrous years; and it must be confessed that to his own folly in promising the succession to his kinsman, William, Duke of Normandy, the national troubles are to be largely attributed. It is said that Edward’s last hours were vexed by the vision of a warrior shooting a bloody arrow, portending evil days for the Kingdom; and also that he gave a reluctant consent to the succession of Harold, warning him that the result would be very grevious.
The citizens of London, the nobility, and clergy, were largely favourable to the claims of Harold; the lineal heir to the crown being the Confessor’s nephew, Edgar Atheling—a youth of far too tender years to wear the crown to which the Duke of Normandy and Harold Godwinson aspired. No man wished to behold the Norman duke seated upon the throne of the great Alfred; and when Harold caused himself to be proclaimed king on the evening of the day of the Confessor’s death, his action was ratified by the Witenagemot, and the crown was placed upon his head by Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury.
In the North alone was any disaffection manifested towards King Harold, and he met it by paying the Northumbrians a visit, in which he was accompanied by Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester. He was favourably received, and won the esteem and support of the Northumbrians.
In the true sense of the word, Harold was an elected king, chosen of the nation; not a tyrant and usurper.
Earl Tosti spared no pains to raise up enemies against his brother during the period of his enforced banishment, and succeeded in inducing the famous Norwegian monarch, Harold Hardrada, to make a descent upon the island. Too impatient to await the appearance of his ally, Earl Tosti was the first to raise sword in the land, coming from beyond sea with a fleet of daring adventurers, Flemings, and others. Landing in the Isle of Wight, he enforced contributions of food and money, and proceeded to ravage the coast as far as Sandwich. Harold had, however, provided so largely for the protection of his Kingdom by the formation of a large fleet, and of formidable land forces, that Tosti was compelled to beat a speedy retreat, and directed his course to the North, taking “some of the boatmen with him, some willingly and some unwillingly.” Entering the Humber, he devastated the Lindsey shore with fire and sword; but being beset by the troops of Morkar and Edwin, he was deserted by the greater part of his fleet, and was obliged to precipitately retire into Scotland with the twelve gallies that remained to him. King Malcolm III. hospitably entertained the fugitive prince at his court, but all the solicitations of Tosti failed to induce him to invade the territories of King Harold. Tosti succeeded in attaching a number of adventurers to his cause, or rather a number of pirates followed his fortunes in the hope of obtaining plunder, and with the certainty of being allowed to slaughter the inhabitants of the coasts, and to ravage the land.
Where the North Sea foams around the Orkneys, Tosti was to meet the Norwegian monarch; and the Orkneyinga Saga thus narrates his arrival and departure:—“At this time, when the brothers, Paul and Erlendr, had taken up the rule in Orkney, there arrived at the east side of the island from Norway Harold Sigurdson with a large army. He came first to Shetland. Went from thence to Orkney. There he left Queen Ellisif, and their daughters, Maria and Ingigerdi. From Orkney he had much help. Both the jarls joined the expedition of the king. The king thence went south to England, and landed where it is called Klifland, and came to Skardaborg.”
Tosti and his gallies joined the Norwegians, and in the expressive phraseology of the time:—“Tosti submitted to him and became his man.” Northumbria was the seat of war, the Saxon fleet and Harold’s army of defence being located in the South, for the arrival of the armament of the Duke of Normandy was daily expected, and Tosti and his ally had therefore every prospect of obtaining a strong hold of the North, the population of which was largely of Danish origin.
From the first the proceedings of the invaders were not calculated to win over the Northumbrians to their cause. As the great fleet of 500 sail bore for the Humber, numerous troops were landed to ravage the coast; and a fierce swoop was made upon Scarborough, which was burnt to the ground. Sailing up the Humber, the invaders continued their evil work, and the sky was lurid with flame and dark with smoke, and slaughtered peasants were strewn on the soil which they had ploughed and sown in the earlier days of the year, when they looked forward to the harvest of the scythe and sickle, nor dreamt that Autumn would bring upon them the sharp chastisement of the sword.
York was the prize for which the invaders offered, and, sailing up the Ouse, they moored their fleet at the village of Riccall, ten miles from the city, upon which they at once directed their march. Jarls Edwin and Morkar made strenuous efforts to arrest the invaders, but the northern forces were insufficient to meet so numerous and powerful an army as that of Hardrada. Nevertheless, the brothers assembled such troops as they could collect, and took up a position at Fulford to cover the city. Hardrada occupied a defensive position, with the river on his right flank, and a morass on his left. Edwin and Morkar showed no lack of spirit in the combat which ensued, and promptly charged the Norwegian lines, which they penetrated, making a very great slaughter; but being too weak in numbers to reap the full advantage of their valour, they were unable to rout the ranks which they had thrown into disorder; and the Norwegians clung to their ground, and maintained a hand-to-hand conflict until the arrival of large reinforcements from the fleet enabled them to push back the Northumbrian ranks, and to charge them in turn. This was decisive of the battle: the Northumbrians had exhausted their strength in the first conflict, and could not stem the tide of fresh warriors that bore down upon them, with their ringing war-song, and with flashing spears and axes. The disordered ranks of the Northumbrians were speedily broken, and the army dissolved in a wild rout of savage fugitives, oft turning stubbornly at bay, and exacting a heavy price for their lives. Many of the Northumbrians were forced into the river, or took to the water in their endeavours to escape the vengeance of the unsparing Norwegians, so that more men of the Saxon army perished in the Ouse than fell by the sword on the field of Fulford. “And this fight was on the vigil of St. Matthew the apostle, and it was Wednesday.”
Morkar and Edwin retired into York with the remnant of fugitives that rallied around them; but their numbers were insufficient for the defence of the city, and they retreated thence, when Harold and Tosti entered in triumph at the head of a division of their army, and received the submission of the citizens, who furnished them with provisions, and placed hostages in their hands; “and they agreed upon a full peace, so that they should all go with him south, and this land subdue.”
The Norwegians had retired from the city, and taken up a position at Stamford Bridge, part of the army remaining at Riccall for the protection of the fleet, while the commanders appear to have been engaged in projects for organising an army to march south; but the enemy was approaching by forced marches; and on the 26th of September, 1066, the decisive battle of Stamford Bridge was fought
No sooner was Harold apprised of the invasion of Northumbria, than he placed himself at the head of his army, advanced his ensigns; and pressed forward with such celerity that, on the 23rd of September, his army occupied Tadcaster. On the following day he entered York; the Norwegians, who had been left in occupation, retiring before him. The battle commenced at sunrise on the 25th; and the forces of Harold and Tosti appear to have been taken by surprise, for a large number of Norwegians were with the fleet at Riccall. Under any circumstances, however, Hardrada was certain to provide for the safety of his fleet; and the fact that he afterwards drew large reinforcements from it does not of itself imply that he was taken by surprise, unless, indeed he had under-estimated the forces of Harold, and had prepared for battle accordingly.
The armies were sufficiently powerful for so important an occasion, each consisting of some 60,000 men; those of Hardrada being adventurers and soldiers by profession; whilst the warlike element was sufficiently developed in Harold’s army, many of the troops being veterans, and all accustomed to wield arms, for there had not been time to collect hasty levies, such as some of those that fought at Hastings three weeks later.
Before the battle commenced, Harold Godwinson dispatched a troop of twenty horse to negotiate with the enemy, no doubt in the hope of winning over his brother Tosti, against whom his mind revolted from engaging in war. Tosti manifested a marked disposition to accede to his brother’s wishes on being informed that he should be reinstated in his territories and honours; but, on his demanding what price would be paid to secure his ally, Harold Sigurdson, he was met by the significant reply:—“Six feet of earth; or, as he is a giant, he shall have seven.”
Then Tosti swore a great oath that no man should ever say that Tosti, son of Godwin, broke faith with Harold, son of Sigurd; whereon the trumpets sounded, and the Saxon advance began.
The Norwegians occupied a purely defensive position on rising ground in the rear of the Derwent; the narrow wooden bridge, which spanned the river, being held by a strong detachment posted on the Saxon side of the water. There is a strange legendary story told of a gigantic Norwegian holding the bridge, single-handed, against the Saxon army for three hours; meeting every rush of the assailants with tremendous blows of a huge battle-axe, and only falling by a treacherous blow from the spear of a Saxon soldier, who, in a boat, passed underneath the bridge, and directing a stroke of his spear between the planks, smote the warrior underneath his mail, and so slew him. Considering that Harold’s army contained both archers and slingers, it is difficult to believe that three hours should be lost, and forty Saxons slain by this terrible warrior, before he fell to the cowardly stroke of a concealed enemy.
It is certain, however, that the bridge was stormed by the Saxons, and that Harold Hardrada maintained a defensive position while they crossed, although he might have attacked them at great disadvantage while forming in the open ground. Being deficient in cavalry, he had formed his troops somewhat in the old Scottish fashion of the Schiltron: massing them in one huge circular column, with the front rank kneeling, and all presenting their pikes, so that the bristling column might scarcely be broken by the most desperate and repeated charges, and the soldiers, who loved fighting with the wild Norse love, which has not yet died out of the earth, might safely count upon a feast of blows that day.
Hardrada occupied the centre of his army, with his jarls and captains around him, and his famous war-standard, the “Land-Ravager,” floating above his head. He was mounted upon a powerful black war-horse, his hauberk and helmet were of burnished steel, and a long blue cloak rendered him conspicuous amidst his warlike thousands, over whom he towered in the physical superiority of his gigantic stature; as the battle commenced he lifted his powerful voice, and sang his war-song, kindling the enthusiasm of his warriors, and preparing them for the storm that was about to burst upon them.
Before the main-battle commenced, the force that guarded the bridge had to be driven back, and if there be any truth in the story of its sturdy defence, Hardrada’s reinforcements should have reached him before the Saxons passed the bridge.
The initiative was forced upon Harold Godwinson, and no slackness was shown by the Saxons in closing in upon their formidable adversaries. The charges were repeated again and again, and the famous Saxon twibil did good service that day; nor were the spearmen wanting in their efforts, while the Saxon cavalry charged again and again. The day wore on; the cries of battle and the clash of weapons sounded far; the Norwegian host was belted by a wide hem of the dead. The Saxon light troops did good service on this memorable day, and brought down many of the sea-rovers by the discharge of their missiles. Although both armies suffered severely, the battle endured steadily; the invaders maintained their formation with stubborn valour, and the Saxons continued their attacks with equal determination. In the heat of the battle an arrow smote King Hardrada in the throat, and he died in the midst of his army, at the foot of his standard, to the sound of ringing steel and fierce war-cries.
Although the noble form of Hardrada was missed from the press, and his war-cry no longer presaged victory to the Norwegian host, his valiant troops maintained the field with unabated ardour; and Prince Olave bringing up reinforcements from the fleet, the strife waxed fiercer, and the most sanguine might question with whom the victory would rest. Harold was an expert warrior, and failing to penetrate the Norwegian ranks by dint of hard fighting, he feigned a retreat, and induced them to abandon their close formation, in the excitement of attack and pursuit, when he turned upon their disordered lines, and the field instantly became the scene of a fierce hand-to-hand encounter, with its dreadful attendant carnage. Tosti, and many of the Norwegians, fell in the last stubborn effort to maintain the field, for although the generous Saxon offered them quarter, it was disdainfully refused by the maddened Northmen.
The following quaint and pithy account of the battle is taken from the “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,” and is well worthy of quotation:—“Then, during this, came Harold, King of the Angles, with all his forces, on the Sunday, to Tadcaster, and there drew up his force, and went thence on Monday throughout York; and Harold, King of Norway, and Tosty, the Earl, and their forces, were gone from their ships beyond York to Stamford-bridge, because it had been promised them for a certainty, that there, from all the shire, hostages should be brought to meet them. Then came Harold, King of the English, against them, unawares, beyond the bridge, and they there joined battle, and very strenuously, for a long time of the day, continued fighting: and there was Harold King of Norway and Tosty the Earl slain, and numberless of the people with them, as well of the Northmen as of the English: and the Northmen fled from the English. Then was there one of the Norwegians who withstood the English people, so that they might not pass over the bridge, nor obtain the victory. Then an Englishman aimed at him with a javelin, but it availed nothing; and then came another under the Bridge, and pierced him terribly inwards under the coat of mail. Then came Harold, King of the English, over the bridge, and his forces onward with him, and there made great slaughter, as well of Norwegians as of Flemings. And the King’s son Edmund, Harold let go home to Norway, with all the ships.”
Dreadful were the events of that September day, and most dismally tragic the retreat from Stamford Bridge to Riccall; the pursuers wielding sword and spear with merciless energy on the rear of the fugitive army, while ever and anon the Northman turned upon his foe and died fighting.
The fleet was reached by the war-worn Norwegians, but afforded them no refuge, for the Saxons pressed on to the attack, and captured ship after ship, and in some instances appear to have fired the vessels, failing to carry them by the sword, for the “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle” says:—“And the English from behind hotly smote them, until they came, some to their ships, some were drowned, and some also burned; and thus in divers ways they perished, so that there were few left. The King then gave his protection to Olave, son of the King of the Norwegians, and to their bishop and to the Earl of Orkney, and to all those who were left in the ships: and they then went up to our King, and swore oaths that they ever would observe peace and friendship toward this land, and the King let them go home with twenty-four ships.”
On the low plain of Riccall the dead lay thickly, and to this day the villagers point out to the curious visitor the huge earthen mounds that cover the bones of the Norwegians.
The Harold Hardrada Saga gives us a last glimpse of the remnant of the forlorn fleet, as it sailed from the ancient port of Ravenser:—“Olafr, son of Harold Sigurdson, led the fleet from England, setting sail at Hrafnseyri, and in the autumn came to Orkney. Of whom Stein Herdisson makes mention:
‘The King the swift ships with the flood Set out, with the autumn approaching, And sailed from the port, called Hrafnseyri (the raven tongue of land). The boats passed over the broad track Of the long ships; the sea raging, The roaring tide was furious around the ships’ sides.’”
The memory of the Norwegian giant who held the bridge was perpetuated by the people of Stamford, for Drake tells us that they “have a custom, at an annual feast, to make pies in the form of a swill, or swine tub, which tradition says was made use of by the man who struck the Norwegian on the bridge, instead of a boat.”
Harold is accused of having disgusted his army by refusing them a share of the spoil; but this is difficult to reconcile with the known generous character of the man; and no prince could have been more nobly seconded by his troops than was Harold on the field of Senlac.
Brief indeed was the victor’s respite from the dangers of the field; for, as he was presiding at a great feast of his chieftains and officers at York, a messenger entered the hall in haste, and delivered his ominous message that William of Normandy had disembarked his army at Pevensey, unopposed, on the 29th of September.
The march south was at once commenced; and on the 14th of October a murderous battle was fought at Senlac, raging with unwavering fury from sunrise to sunset. King Harold, his brothers Leofwin and Gurth, fell in the front of battle, with the flower of the army; and from that day the Norman rule commenced in England.
William, Duke of Normandy, landed at Pevensey on the eve of St. Michael, 1066, and cast up fortifications for the protection of his army. Not venturing to penetrate into the country, he awaited the approach of the Saxon army. He had not long to wait. The route from York to Hastings was covered by forced marches, and, with a decimated and wearied army, Harold Godwinson took up his position before the Norman host. His rear was protected by rising ground; his front and flanks by trenches and huge wooden piles. He had especially to fear the Norman cavalry and archers, and took every precaution to defend his troops against them.
On the eve of the battle the Saxons regaled themselves with strong ale, and chanted legendary songs by their bivouac fires; but the Normans occupied themselves in religious services, as befitted hired cut-throats and the “scum of Europe.”
Harold’s banner, embroidered in gold with the figure of a warrior, in battle attitude, was fixed near the “hoar apple tree.” The men of Wessex brought with them their great banner, emblazoned with a golden dragon.
On the 14th October, Harold’s birthday, the battle was fought. The Norman army advanced in three lines: the light infantry and archers under Roger de Montgomerie; the men-at-arms under Martel; and the knights, esquires, and picked men-at-arms under the command of the Duke.
As the Normans advanced they raised the song of Roland, and the minstrel Taillefer claimed first blood, as a sturdy Saxon fell to his sword.
The Norman archers shot their arrows fast and well, point-blank against the Saxons, but the palisades proved a most efficient protection, and from their bows, and slings, and military machines, the Saxons replied, but they were not famous in missile warfare. Then the Norman lines closed on front and flanks, with thrust of lance, and fierce axe-play against the stout wooden piles, and all the while the heavy Saxon twibils rose and fell, crashing through Norman helm and shield, as horse and rider bit the dust, and from the Saxon rear the heavy javelins came whirling through the air. The dead and wounded lay thick on both sides of the palisades, and blood trickled and curdled in the dust. With unflinching courage the conflict was maintained, amid a tumult of discordant sounds: the clash and clatter of steel against steel, the groans of the wounded, and the sudden death-yells of those whose spirits fled as the axes came crashing through helm and brain-pan, or lance was driven sheer through corset and breast: above the heat and roar of the melee pealed the Saxon war-cry: “Christ’s Rood! the Holy Rood!” answered by the sonorous Norman death-cry: “Our lady of help! God be our help!”
The day sped to the heat and languor of the mid October noon, and the Normans toiled before the Saxon front, and belted it with flashing steel.
With painful anxiety Duke William saw his repeated charges spent against the Saxon army, saw his ranks shaken and thinned, without one foot of ground being won. He now bade his archers shoot high in the air, so that their arrows might descend upon the heads of the Saxons. By this the slaughter was dreadfully increased within the Saxon lines, but the warriors were unshaken in their resolution to maintain their ground.
Along the front the Saxons nobly avenged their slaughtered brethren, and William poured his whole army against them in a murderous charge. Quicker rose and fell the Saxon axes, and, recoiling from the shock, the surging mass of mail-clad warriors rolled down the ravine, between two hills, and many men were trampled to death by the struggling horses. Surely a charge of heavy cavalry would, at this crisis, have secured the throne and crown of Harold. Thrice the stalwart form of Norman William sank amid the surges, as three horses were slain beneath him. A cry arose that the Duke was slain, and panic and defeat appeared inevitable, when William rode, bare-headed, among his warriors, and reformed their ranks.
During the dreadful carnage, Harold maintained the van, fighting with heroic courage, although suffering severely from an arrow-wound which had destroyed one of his eyes. William’s strenuous efforts were nobly seconded by his officers, and especially by his half-brother, Odo, the warlike bishop of Bayeux. Foiled in every attempt to penetrate the Saxon lines, and hopeless of beating them out of their defences, William drew the Saxons by a feigned retreat of his cavalry, and on passing the broken ground, turned upon them, and cut them to pieces. Twice was the ruse repeated, and although the Saxons maintained their position with undaunted front, their ranks were terribly thinned and shaken.
The charges were repeated, again and again, and the Normans rolled back in blood. The day waned, but the desperate attacks were foiled. At length a number of palisades were displaced, and the Norman horse bit into the Saxon masses, hewing a bloody pathway, and paying heavily for every foot they won. Twenty knights vowed to take Harold’s banner, and William of Normandy, rendered desperate by his peril, was anxiously seeking the Saxon hero. The conflict inside the palisades was tremendous. Harold’s brothers, Gurth and Leofwin, perished in the van: the King was slain; there was a bloody rally round the royal banner; ten of the Norman knights were hewn down, but the banner was captured, and the Norman flag elevated in its place. Still the Saxons would not fly; the “Golden Dragon” was taken, and they were reduced to a mere mob of struggling warriors. The grey of evening merged into the dusk of night before the retreat commenced. In retreat they were almost as dangerous as in battle, and repeatedly turned and drew Norman blood. The Normans were driven back, William advanced to their succour, and while their leader, Eustace of Boulogne, was whispering in the Duke’s ear, he was struck on the back by a heavy Saxon axe, and fell, insensible, from his horse, the blood gushing from his mouth and nostrils.
The Normans, relaxing the pursuit, rode their horses over the slain Saxons, in savage elation, before returning solemn thanks to God for the victory.
Gurtha, the mother of Harold, came to beg the hero’s body, to give it burial; but William is reported to have refused, ordering the corse to be buried on the strand, remarking, with unknightly anger—“He guarded the coast while he was alive, let him thus continue to guard it after death.” The dead King was, however, interred in Waltham Abbey, which he had founded and endowed; or, if Tovi, Canute’s standard-bearer, was the original founder of the abbey, yet Harold was largely its benefactor.
On the field of Senlac King William built the famous Battle Abbey, that priests might perpetually pray for the souls of the slain, but, as Palgrave remarks:—“All this pomp and solemnity has passed away like a dream. The ‘perpetual prayer’ has ceased for ever—the roll of Battle is rent—the shields of the Norman lieges are trodden in the dust—the Abbey is levelled to the ground—and a dark and reedy pool fills the spot where the foundations of the quire have been uncovered, merely for the gaze of the idle visitor, or the instruction of the moping antiquary.”
Yorkshire endured terrible evils at the hands of the Conqueror, as he penetrated its wilds with his famous bowmen and men-at-arms.
The year 1068 witnessed a Northumbrian revolt, which was easily quelled; but a more determined effort to cast off the Norman yoke was made in the following year. The events are thus recorded in the “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,” and were graphically realized by the acutely sympathetic mind of the Rev. Charles Kingsley in his stirring story of “Hereward, the last of the English.” The accuracy of the latter part of the title of his novel is, however, generally disputed:
“A.D. 1068—This year King William gave the earldom of Northumberland to earl Robert, and the men of that country came against him, and slew him and 900 others with him. And then Edgar etheling marched with all the Northumbrians to York, and the townsmen treated with him; on which King William came from the south with all his troops, and sacked the town, and slew many hundred persons. He also profaned St. Peter’s minster, and all other places, and the etheling went back to Scotland.
“After this came Harold’s sons from Ireland, about Midsummer, with sixty-four ships, and entered the mouth of the Taff, where they incautiously landed. Earl Beorn came upon them unawares with a large army, and slew all their bravest men; the others escaped to their ships, and Harold’s sons went back again to Ireland.
“A.D. 1069—This year died Aldred, Archbishop of York, and he lies buried in his cathedral church. He died on the festival of Protus and Hyacinthus, having held the see with much honour ten years, all but fifteen weeks.
“Soon after this, three of the sons of Sweyne came from Denmark with 240 ships, together with earl Osbern and earl Thorkill, into the Humber, where they were met by child Edgar and earl Waltheof, and Merle-Sweyne, and earl Cospatric with the men of Northumberland and all the landsmen riding and marching joyfully with an immense army; and so they went to York, demolished the castle, and found there large treasures. They also slew many hundred Frenchmen, and carried off many prisoners to their ships; but, before the shipmen came thither, the Frenchmen had burned the city, and plundered and burnt St. Peter’s minister. When the King heard of this, he went northward with all the troops he could collect, and laid waste all the shire; whilst the fleet lay all the winter in the Humber, where the King could not get at them. The King was at York on Midwinter’s day, remaining on land all the winter, and at Easter he came to Winchester.”
It was on the 19th of September that the Danes and Northumbrians entered York, and, amid the flame and smoke of burning houses, stormed the Norman stronghold, and put the garrison to the sword. Egbert, the seventh Archbishop of York, had founded a valuable library in the city, but it was utterly consumed in the flames.
The triumph of King William was not so easily achieved as might be supposed from the account given in the “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle;” and had he not succeeded in buying off the Danish fleet, it is quite possible that all the fruit of his great victory at Senlac might have been swallowed up at York. Although the Northumbrians were not strong enough to brave the Normans in open field, they defended York against all the attacks of the King’s troops for a period of six months, and the garrison only surrendered when they were in danger of perishing from starvation.
During the siege Waltheof Siwardsson especially distinguished himself, and on one occasion defended, single-handed, a breach in the city-wall, dashing out the brains of the Normans as they came within the sweep of his axe.
In the first burst of rage on receiving news of the slaughter of the Norman garrison, William vowed to lay the whole of Northumbria in ashes, and he carried out with ruthless severity this rash and cruel resolution. The troops who fought beneath his banner were mercenary cut-throats, the fit agents of his vengeance, and they addressed themselves to the work of destruction with a keen appreciation. The peasantry fell by the edge of the sword, neither age nor sex being respected: the shrieking children were mingled in the common ruin. Cottages were fired, orchards hewn down, the instruments of husbandry destroyed, and every energy was bent to the destruction of human life, and to ensure by starvation the death of those whom the sword failed to reach. For nine years after the storm had passed over the devoted province, the ground remained untilled, and the villages unrestored. The wretched fugitives who hid their heads in forests and caves were driven to feed upon the flesh of unclean cats and dogs, and finally they endeavoured to prolong their miserable lives by the last resort to cannibalism. It is computed that one hundred thousand persons perished in a district of sixty miles in length. The sea-ports were subjected to the same severities, that, in case of further Danish invasions, the ships might be unable to obtain supplies.
York itself was not spared by the ruthless Norman. The prisoners, who had been delivered into William’s hands by the extreme pangs of famine, were put to the sword, and the city was given to the flames.
During his expedition to Northumbria, William narrowly escaped receiving the reward of his demerits, an example of poetic justice that would have been particularly striking to the historian, and useful to the moralist.
While on the march from Hexham to York, he became involved in a wild and unknown country; his horses perished, his soldiers were reduced to the extremes of suffering and privation; and William missed his way, in the obscurity of a night-march, and was reduced to a state of great anxiety, not to say fear, being uncertain of the ground over which he wandered, and equally uncertain of the direction in which his troops were marching.
The North continued to suffer from war and invasion. Malcolm wasted Northumberland, A.D. 1079, and his wild Scots invaded the country as far as the Tyne, and re-entered Scotland with much spoil, and many prisoners.
The bishopric of Durham had been bestowed upon Walcher of Lorraine, and as he equally governed by crozier and sword, taxing the people heavily, and allowing his Norman mercenaries to plunder, insult, and slay his flock at their pleasure, he was bitterly hated; and, when his servant Gilbert murdered Liulf, a noble Englishman, who had married Jarl Siward’s widow, the mother of the heroic Waltheof, their rage knew no bounds. Walcher consented to confer with the Northumbrians at Gateshead, and was attended by a large escort. Every Englishman carried a weapon with him, concealed beneath his garment, and the bishop, becoming alarmed for his life, took refuge in the church, which was speedily fired, when the murderer and his accomplice were driven out, and received a summary requital for their crime. Compelled to sally out by flame and smoke, the bishop appeared among the raging multitude, his face wrapped in the skirt of his robe. There was silence, then a voice gave the death-words: “Good rede, short rede! slay ye the bishop!” and the protector of murderers was slain. His escort of a hundred men, Normans and Flemings, died beneath Northumbrian steel in that awful hour, only two of his servants, menials of English birth, being saved.
Vengeance was delegated to Odo of Bayeux, and there was no Hereward, no Waltheof to welcome him with blood-wet steel. He entered Durham unopposed, a Norman army at his back, and slew or maimed all the men that he could find.
Seven years later, and William lay dying in the monastery of St. Gervas, passing to his last account at sunrise on the 9th of September, as the bells of St. Mary tolled the hour of prime. His last words were: “I recommend my soul to my Lady Mary, the holy mother of God.”
Rufus succeeded, and in his reign the King’s army besieged Durham Castle, and received its surrender. This arose from the revolt of Odo of Bayeux, who was captured at Rochester Castle, and sent out of the country, to the sound of Saxon curses and the triumphant strains of Saxon trumpets, for the proud prelate who had cursed England with his presence since the day of Senlac was conquered by Saxon steel at last.
The North was again ravaged by the Scots, A.D. 1091, when Rufus marched to protect it, and “Edgar Atheling mediated a peace between the kings.” The following year saw the King again in the North, with a large following, when, “he repaired the city (Carlisle), and built the castle. And he drove out Dolfin, who had before governed that country, and having placed a garrison in that castle he returned into the South, and sent a great number of rustic Englishmen thither, with their wives and cattle, that they might settle there and cultivate the land.”
A.D. 1093.—“King Malcolm returned home to Scotland, and as soon as he came thither, he assembled his troops and invaded England, ravaging the country with more fury than behoved him: and Robert, Earl of Northumberland, with his men, lay in wait for him, and slew him unawares. He was killed by Moræl of Bamborough, the earl’s steward, and King Malcolm’s own godfather: his son Edward, who, had he lived, would have been King after his father, was killed with him. When the good Queen Margaret heard that her most beloved lord, and her son, were thus cut off, she was grieved in spirit unto death, and she went with her priest into the church, and having gone through all befitting rites, she prayed of God that she might give up the ghost.”
The Northern province had little rest from marching armies, sieges, and battles. In the Easter of 1095, Robert, Earl of Northumberland, treated with contempt the King’s summons to attend the court at Winchester; whereon the King took an early opportunity of attacking him, seized his principal servants and officers, took Tynemouth Castle, and after vainly besieging Bamborough, built a castle, Malveisin, or “evil neighbour,” over against it, and leaving therein a strong garrison departed. After the King’s departure, the earl sallied out one night, riding towards Tynemouth, when a part of the garrison of Malveisin pursued after him, carried him off, wounded, and slew or captured his attendants. On this Rufus ordered his captains to carry Northumberland to Bamborough Castle, and summon it to surrender, threatening to put out the earl’s eyes if the castle continued to hold out. The scheme was successful, the countess—a young and beautiful woman, recently married to Northumberland—at once surrendered, when the unhappy earl was condemned to a life-long imprisonment.
The mysterious death of William Rufus, who was found in the New Forest, slain by an arrow, on the 2nd of August, A.D. 1100, was followed by the accession of Henry I., when the Northern provinces of the island enjoyed a period of unwonted repose, which was terminated by the usurpation of Stephen of Blois, when the Scottish invasions re-commenced, and the battle of the Standard was fought.
During these years York was steadily rising from its ashes, after the Conqueror’s fiery chastisement, when, on the 4th June, 1137, a fire accidently broke out, and the city was again consumed.
Of the patriots who combatted so valiantly against the Conqueror during the invasion of Northumbria, Earl Edwin was slain in 1071, being betrayed to the Normans by three of his servants; Morkar, after joining Hereward in the famous Camp of Refuge, fell into the hands of the King, and was cast into prison, pursuant to a sentence of imprisonment for life, but, when the Conqueror lay on his death-bed, he ordered his release, and William Rufus immediately re-committed him to prison; Earl Cospatrick was banished for the slaughter of the Normans at Durham and York, and received honours and lands from the King of Scotland. Hereward was murdered by the Normans, but exacted an heroic price for his life.
The crown which the Conqueror won at Hastings was fated to pass from the direct male line of succession in the third generation.
Robert, the eldest of King William’s sons, was passed over by his father, who transmitted the crown to Rufus. When that violent, but not wholly ungenerous, prince was slain in the New Forest Prince Henry, the Conqueror’s youngest son, usurped the crown, and ultimately overcame his brother Robert, seized his Duchy of Normandy, and condemned him to a life-long imprisonment.
Each of the brothers had a son bearing the name of his grandsire, and it appeared certain that the feud of the fathers would be perpetuated by the children.
William, son of Robert, had many stout friends, and enjoyed, in a special degree, the protection of the King of France; hence wars and revolts arose in the King’s usurped Duchy of Normandy, and it seemed probable that when King Henry died the duchy would be re-conquered by Robert’s son. All the energies of King Henry were therefore turned to securing the duchy for his son. In the year 1120 he carried the prince to Normandy, and, by his valour and address in the field, seconded by his crafty policy, he succeeded in restoring peace and order in the duchy, and also in detaching his nephew’s chief supporters from his cause.
When about to sail from Barfleur, he was accosted by an ancient mariner, who claimed that his father had piloted the Conqueror to England in 1066, and besought the honour of now carrying King Henry across the Channel. The King had already made his arrangements, but he entrusted Prince William and his suite to the care of Fitz-Stephen. It was a serene, moonlight night when the Blanche Nef sailed, but the prince had provided too generously for the good cheer of the mariners, and a drunken and careless crew carried him to his fate. The Blanche Nef struck on the rocks of the Ras de Catte, and rapidly filled. Prince William was hastily thrust into the ship’s boat, but he insisted upon attempting the rescue of his half-sister, and vainly, but generously, sacrificed his life in the endeavour.
The position of Duke Robert’s son was apparently more hopeful now that he was the only lineal male heir to the throne. King Henry was not, however, the less earnest in his endeavours to transmit all his dignities to his own children. Thus reads the “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,” for 1127:—“This year at Christmas, King Henry held his court at Windsor, and David, King of Scotland, was there, and all the headmen of England, both clergy and laity. And the King caused the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and all the thanes who were present, to swear to place England and Normandy, after his death, in the hands of his daughter the princess, who had been the wife of the Emperor of Saxony. And then he sent her to Normandy, accompanied by her brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester, and by Brian, the son of the Earl Alan Fergan; and he caused her to be wedded to the son of the Earl of Anjou, named Geoffrey Martel.”
In the following year the brief, but brilliant, career of Prince William came to an end. After a most honourable campaign, whilst “he was besieging Eu against King Henry, and expected on the morrow to receive its surrender, for the enemy was almost worn-out, the young man died of a slight wound in the hand, leaving behind him an endless name.”
Robert of Normandy fulfilled the number of his days in the year 1134. No doubt the statement of Matthew Paris was quite correct:—“When the King heard of his death, he did not grieve much, but commanded the body to be reverently interred in the conventual church of Gloucester.”
King Henry had reigned many years, and committed many crimes to secure his crown, but, such is the irony of fate, he was not permitted to enjoy his triumph long, for, on the 1st of December, he died through over-indulgence in supping on lampreys, and, to use the expressive ambiguity of Carlyle, “went to his own place, wherever that might be.”
Prominent among the nobles of England was Stephen, Count of Blois, the son of the Conqueror’s daughter Adela, and the first peer of the realm—a position which he put to the proof when the oath of allegiance was taken to the ex-Empress Matilda, Robert, Duke of Gloucester, having vainly claimed precedence, although he could only claim as the natural son of the King.
Stephen was a brave, generous, and popular noble, and both the peers and commons of England would have preferred his rule to that of the King’s daughter; when, therefore, he made claim to the throne no opposition was raised. “For when the nobles of the kingdom were assembled at London, he promised that the laws should be reformed to the satisfaction of every one of them, and William, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was the first of all the nobles to take the oath of fidelity to the Empress as Queen of England, now consecrated Stephen to be King. In fine, all the bishops, earls, and barons who had sworn fealty to the King’s daughter and her heirs gave their adhesion to King Stephen, saying that it would be a shame for so many nobles to submit themselves to a woman.”
Having obtained the crown, Stephen assisted in burying the corpse of his uncle, being one of those who sustained the coffin on their shoulders. How suggestive such a scene must have appeared to many who were present. The dead King had broken the closest ties of relationship and blood in obtaining the crown; the retribution that took the shape of his son’s untimely death was to some extent compensated by the death of his nephew; but no sooner is the old King dead than his nephew usurps the crown, maugre his vows of allegiance to Matilda, and piously assists in conveying him to the grave.
For the moment no man seemed disposed to maintain the claims of the ex-Empress: the first to move on her behalf being her uncle David, King of Scotland, a humane and religious prince, who occupied the same relationship to Stephen’s wife that he did to the ex-Empress.
In his first invasion David succeeded in occupying Carlisle and Newcastle, but being confronted by Stephen at the head of a powerful army, a treaty was entered into at Durham, whereby King David engaged to abandon hostilities on certain territorial concessions being made to him. Thrice in one year Northumbria was inundated by the wild Scots, and Stephen, harassed by his treacherous barons, could only avenge his unhappy subjects by laying waste the frontiers of Scotland.
The wildest storm of war swept over Northumbria in the year 1138, the unfortunate inhabitants of that province being mercilessly slaughtered in requital for the sins of their princes and nobles—sins in which they had neither art nor part. David was deeply afflicted by the enormous cruelties which his troops perpetrated, but he was utterly unable to control their passions, and endeavoured to quieten his conscience by condemning the acts of his armies, and by his royal munificence to the church—James the First expressed his appreciation of the liberality of his predecessor by remarking that, “He kythed a sair saint to the crown.”
The tumultuary army which followed him “consisted of Normans, Germans, and English, of Cumbrian Britons, of Northumbrians, of men of Teviotdale and Lothian, of Picts commonly called men of Galloway, and of Scots.”
Barely threescore years and ten had elapsed since William the Norman had carried fire and sword through Northumbria. The charred and blackened ruins of grange and village were not yet entirely hidden by the dense growth of bramble and thorn; and the human bones, that had been gnawed by the wolves in their midnight banquets in the evil days that succeeded the Confessor’s death, had not yet mouldered into their kindred earth.
It was in the wild and stormy season of the opening spring of 1138 that King David commenced his operations.
Shaken to its centre, Northumbria lay at the mercy of the invader: again the sword reaped its bloody harvest, again the torch performed its evil office, and the midnight skies were illumined by the glare of burning homesteads and villages. The highways and byeways were strewn with the dead: with the gashed clay of strong men, of women, and of little children. Age and womanhood lay together in dishonoured death; the white hairs and the flowing tresses trodden in the same bloody mire, and, most cruel spectacle! the little babes, pierced and shattered by spears, lay where they had been cast in fiendish sport by the pitiless barbarians. The blood of the priests reeked upon the altars of the most High God, and the sacred fanes were heaped with the sweltering corruption of slain worshippers. Miserable fugitives turned their faces towards the Humber, striving to escape the hot-footed Scot, who pressed so keen and fast upon their track.
The remnant of the maddened people, desperate in their despair, only required a leader to organise and direct their strength.
Thurstan, the aged Archbishop of York, although bowed down to the verge of the grave by the weight of many years and infirmities, came forward to organise the strength of his afflicted people. Stephen being unable to disengage himself from the toils of his revolted barons, the civil war having already broken out in the south, despatched Bernard de Baliol to the north, at the head of a body of men-at-arms. The real strength of the movement was, however, the combination of those eminent northern barons, William, Earl of Albemarle, Robert de Ferrars, William Percy, Roger de Mowbray, Ilbert de Lacy, and the veteran Walter l’Espec, who, responding with prompt energy to the supplications of Archbishop Thurstan, gathered their vassals together, and prepared to take the field, as soon as all arrangements were completed, and the widely scattered strength of the North was concentrated.
To draw the people to one standard, and to animate them with an unconquerable fortitude, was the peculiar work of the Archbishop; but, being too infirm to take a public part in the exciting scenes which were being enacted, he deputed Ralph Nowel, the titular Bishop of Orkney, to carry out his plans. This prelate caught the spirit of his superior, and a signal success rewarded his efforts. Processions of the clergy were organised, and the exhibition of crosses, relics, and religious banners, tended to increase the devoted courage of the superstitious peasantry. The whole of the male population was called to arms, and a certain victory was promised, with a quick transition into paradise for those who perished on the field. Thirsk was the rendezvous, and, as the news was carried through the province, men-at-arms and knights came trooping in, attended by the desperate peasantry, whose rude arms, and lack of defensive armour, but ill befitted them for what promised to be so dubious and sanguinary an enterprise.
Three days were occupied in fasting and devotion: the troops then took a common vow of adherence to each other, victory being most emphatically promised them. Nerved by every art of the church, by their own desperate position, and by their thirst for vengeance, they encamped around the grand standard which Thurstan had raised at Elfer-tun, to command their piety and patriotism. It consisted of a lofty spar, or mast, mounted on a huge four-wheeled car, and terminating in a large crucifix, with a silver box attached, containing the sacramental elements of the Romish Church. Around the mast waved the holy banners of the sainted Peter of York, Wilfrid of Ripon, and John of Beverley. Hugo de Sotevagina, Archdeacon of York, inscribed this remarkable rhyme on the foot of the mast:—
“Dicitur a stando standardum quod stitit illic Militæ probitas vincere sive mori.
Standard, from stand, this fight we aptly call: Our men here stood to conquer or to fall.”
From the turn of the lines we should infer that the inscription was affixed subsequent to the battle.
Norman baron and Saxon peasant had not long to wait the trial of strength. The summer was now far advanced, for David had been detained before the strong fortress of Norham; but that stronghold once in his hands, he marched onward, unopposed, until he approached the neighbourhood of York. His standard was simply a wreath of blooming heather, attached to a long lance. Eustace Fitz-John commanded the guard of completely accoutred knights and men-at-arms which attended Prince Henry, the commander of the first division, comprising Lowlanders, defended by cuirasses, and armed with long pikes; the archers of Teviotdale and Liddesdale; the troopers of Cumberland and Westmoreland, riding small but useful horses; and the fierce Galwegians, destitute of defensive armour, and bearing long and slender pikes. The Highlanders and Islemen followed the first division, and carried target, claymore, and the ancient Danish war-axe. King David followed with a gallant body of Anglo-Norman and English knights, and a mixed corps of warriors, gathered from various parts of the land, brought up the rear.
With King David marched his warlike nephew, William MacDonoquhy, flushed with the memory of his victory at Clitheroe, where, on the 4th of June, he had defeated a strong force of the English, and gained much spoil.
The position of the Anglo-Norman barons was extremely peculiar; not only did King David claim Northumberland, where they held lands, but they acknowledged him for their liege lord, holding from him estates which were situate on the Scottish side of the border. Under these circumstances they prudently despatched Robert Bruce, Earl of Annandale, and Bernard de Baliol, to the Scottish camp, to offer terms to the King. If his Scottish Majesty would withdraw his army, and conclude a permanent peace, they engaged “to procure from Stephen a full grant of the earldom of Northumberland in favour of Prince Henry.”
The King was, however, firm in his resolution to maintain the cause of the ex-Empress; and William MacDonoquhy declared that Bruce was a false traitor. The two noblemen had no alternative but to renounce their allegiance to the Scottish crown, and to beat a hasty retreat to the English army.
The disposition of the Scottish army was then discussed, and David proposed to place his Saxon archers and Norman knights in the van, to commence the attack. Deep was the indignation of Malise, Earl of Strathearn, and bitter his protest against the King’s confidence in Norman mail. Said he, “I wear no armour; but there is not one among them who will advance beyond me this day.”
The Norman, Allan de Piercy, angrily protested that the “rude earl” boasted of that which he had not the courage to perform; whereon David checked the growing quarrel, and pacified Malise by ordering the Galwegians to take the van.
It was the 22nd day of August, the wide moor, gay with blooming heather, was involved in a land-mist, and, as a further cover to their approach, the wild Scots fired some villages. The English were, however, already formed around the standard, expectant of the inevitable conflict, and no doubt experienced neither alarm nor disappointment when Bruce and Baliol came in on the spur, and declared that the enemy was on the march.
Old Walter l’Espec spake a few soldierly words of hopeful exhortation to his warriors, then placed his ungloved hand in that of the Earl of Albemarle, with the dauntless exclamation, “I pledge thee my troth to conquer or to die.” Kindled to enthusiasm by the spirit of the valiant old man, the soldiers gripped each other’s hands, and the vow became general. Archbishop Thurstan’s representative was not slow to seize so favourable a moment for increasing the enthusiastic ardour of the troops, and he uttered a brief, but thrilling, harangue, in which, according to the old chroniclers, he at once flattered and provoked the emulous courage of the Anglo-Norman chivalry, by referring to the achievements of their ancestors; kindled their resentment by pointing them to the desecrated altars of their churches; assured them of a swift and retributive vengeance; opened paradise to all who should fall sword in hand that day, and encouraged them by reminding them of their superiority over their enemies in respect of their arms and armour. The form of absolution was then read, and answered by the solemn “Amen” of the host. All was ready for the ordeal.
The knights and men-at-arms in both armies were similarly armed. “From the Conquest to the close of the twelfth century but little change had taken place in the armour and weapons of the English; but five distinct varieties of body-armour were worn by them about the time of the Standard—a scaly suit of steel, with a chapelle de fer, or iron cap; a hauberk of iron rings; a suit of mascled or quilted armour; another of rings set edgewise; and a fifth of tegulated mail, composed of small square plates of steel lapping over each other like tiles, with a long flowing tunic of cloth below. Gonfarons fluttered from the spear-heads; and knights wore nasal helmets and kite-shaped shields of iron, but their spears were simply pointed goads.”
According to some accounts, the English men-at-arms were drawn up in a dense column, surrounding their holy standard; and the archers, consisting of peasants and yeomen from the woods and wolds of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and Nottingham, were posted in the van. It is certain that the Norman barons and the men-at-arms dismounted, and sent their horses to the rear, and the probability is that the mailed troops occupied the front of battle, and protected the archers, who were destitute of defensive armour. All the accounts of the battle favour this inference, although it is distinctly stated that the archers were broken, but afterwards rallied—a statement that seems incredible, for the English army being outflanked, the broken archers would have been cut to pieces, it being impossible for the dense column that surrounded the standard to open its ranks to receive the fugitives, while the charging Scots were pressing hot and hard upon their rear, and the action of the spearmen was retarded by the presence of the archers upon their front, as these unfortunates were being massacred by the enemy.
The Galwegians made the first charge, with Ulgrick and Dovenald leading. Their dreadful cries of Albanigh, Albanigh! (“We are the men of Albyn!”) rolled like thunder over the field, as they rushed furiously upon the Norman men-at-arms, threatening to bear down all that withstood them with the forest of their long, thin pikes. The centre of the English army was pierced, but the formation was too dense to be shattered by a charge of pikemen, however furiously made, and the long pikes were broken upon shield and hauberk, or shivered by blow of sword and axe. The Galwegians bit deep, but fell in scores along the front, and as they recoiled from the meeting, the archers let fly a shower of shafts upon them. It was impossible to rally and re-form in the face of that storm of deadly shafts, beating as hard and fast as winter hail upon their naked bodies, and while numbers fell, weltering in their gore, the disordered masses began to retire, probably to the right and left, while the English taunted them with derisive cries of “Eyrych, Eyrych!” (“You are but Irish!”) which, Scott remarks, “must have been true of that part of the Galwegians called the wild Scots of Galloway, who are undoubtedly Scotch-Irish.”
As the men of Galloway staggered back from the storm of arrows, leaving Ulgrick and Dovenald dead upon the field, Prince Henry charged down upon the English with his knights and men-at-arms upon the spur. With spear, and sword, and axe, he won a bloody pathway sheer through the English centre, and put to flight the servants who were posted in the rear of the army in charge of their masters’ horses. The oft-quoted expression of Alred, that “they broke through the English ranks as if they had been spiders’ webs,” must be regarded as largely figurative, for two reasons. In the first place, the Galwegians were re-forming with the utmost alacrity, and the other lines were bearing down fast and stern, yet the English ranks closed in before they could take advantage of the confusion caused by the cavalry, and presented an impenetrable front to the advancing Scots. In the second place, the prince achieved nothing by his charge, beyond chasing a few grooms from the field. On his return, he found the battle over, and passing undiscovered through the pursuing forces, succeeded, after many perils, in reaching Carlisle on the 28th of August.
There is a curious, but not over-reliable story, that in the perilous moment when the English were re-forming their ranks, and the remains of Prince Henry’s men-at-arms were dashing after the fugitives in the rear, an English soldier, with singular presence of mind, averted the impending storm by hewing off a Scotchman’s head, and bearing it, at point of spear, to the front, loudly exclaiming, “Behold the head of the King of the Scots.” Before this ominous spectacle the Galwegians fell back in a sudden panic, arresting the advance of the second line, and causing the third line to beat a hasty retreat without lifting weapon on the field. Bare-headed, King David rode amid the breaking ranks in a gallant effort to rally his soldiers; but all his efforts proving fruitless, he assumed the command of his cavalry, and protected, as far as possible, the retreat of his disorganised army.
There can, however, maugre this oft-told story, be no question that a tremendous battle raged for upwards of two hours. The devoted savages of Galloway rallied, and, supported by the second and third lines of their army, closed in upon the English, “after giving three shouts in the manner of their nation.” Thus the holy standard, and its heroic defenders, was belted with a wide and deep hem of raging enemies, who sought, with sword and axe, to hew a passage through the phalanx of spears that held them back. They combated fiercely together in a mist of dust and heat; blood flowed like water, and the trampled earth was dreadful with the bodies of the slain; but no despoiling hand reached the standard; a hedge of glittering steel defended it, the Normans fenced it with flashing swords, the serried spears sustained the fierce attack, though indented here and there by the pressure of horse and men. The continuous shower of shafts from the archers sorely distressed and harassed the Scots, and abandoning all hope of breaking or hewing down the valiant enemy, around which they had drawn their triple line of warriors, they broke and fled. First the decimated remnant of the savage heroes of Galloway recoiled, and spread confusion through the second line, and then the outward hem of mixed troops, who had never struck blow, wavered and broke; and the battle of the Standard was lost and won.
David valiantly protected the retreat of his disordered army, leaving some 12,000 upon the field. He halted at Carlisle, in grave distress as to the fate of his son, who rejoined him three days later, as before mentioned. Quarrels took place in his army, and weapons were freely resorted to, and some blood shed.
The 200 mailed knights of King David lost nearly the whole of their horses, and only nineteen carried their harness from the field. The Norman barons were not particularly fortunate in making prisoners, but fifty knights fell to their spear and sword. Of these, William Cumin, the Scotch Chancellor, was detained in prison for a short time by the Bishop of Durham, and, on being liberated, “gave thanks to God,” desiring heartily that he never at any time should again meet with the like experience. His companions in affliction were ransomed about the time of the feast of All-Saints following.
The Scottish army having rallied at Carlisle, continued the war, besieged and reduced, by famine, Wark Castle; and carried away as prisoners a number of English women, who were ultimately restored to their friends through the good offices of Alberic, Bishop of Ostia, who, being seconded by King Stephen’s wife, succeeded in bringing about a peace, which was concluded on the 9th day of April, 1139.
Before the English army disbanded, Eustace Fitz-John, who had garrisoned Malton with Scotch troops, received their attention. In the conflict which ensued the town was stormed and given to the flames.
On this eventful day the English archers won their first laurels with the long bow and arrows, two cubits in length; and this sanguinary conflict derives an additional interest from the fact. As brave and experienced warriors, the captains would probably perceive and acknowledge the service performed by the Northumbrian infantry, but not one of them considered the possibility of a day dawning that would see the laurels of war bestowed upon the English archers, while the Anglo-Norman chivalry had to be contented with less honourable trophies of bravery and skill.
The reign of Stephen was cursed by the worst evils of civil war. The King was captured at Lincoln, A.D. 1140, being deserted by many of his troops; but was afterwards exchanged for Robert, Earl of Gloucester, who had been taken prisoner by Stephen’s partisans. Ultimately Matilda’s son, Prince Henry, entered England, when it was arranged that he should succeed to the throne on the King’s death.
Under Henry’s rule happier days dawned upon the Kingdom. A.D. 1160, a great Council was held at York, said to be the first of such assemblages to which the title of Parliament was applied. The King of Scots attended, with his nobles and clergy, and rendered feudal homage for his province of Lothian. Scott asserts that “homage was done by the Scottish kings for Lothian, simply because it had been a part, or moiety, of Northumberland, ceded by Eadulf-Cudel, a Saxon Earl of Northumberland, to Malcolm II., on condition of amity and support in war, for which, as feudal institutions gained ground, feudal homage was the natural substitute and emblem.”
Malcolm, being greatly attached to the King of England, yielded to him all his possessions in Cumberland and Northumberland, possessions which Henry would probably have conquered had they not been ceded.
Malcolm was succeeded by his brother William, the declared enemy of England. Invading Northumberland, he was surprised near Alnwick Castle by Bernard de Baliol. Sixty cavaliers escorted him, and he made a desperate charge upon the English, exclaiming, “Now we shall see who are good knights.” He was unhorsed, and carried off to Newcastle on the spur. As the price of his liberty he performed feudal homage at York for the whole of Scotland, placing hostages and certain strongholds in King Henry’s hands.
Henry died, broken-hearted and conquered by the repeated revolts of his sons. On his accession Richard I. annuled the acts of his father, as regarded the independence of Scotland, but homage for Lothian was of course continued.
Early in 1190, a dreadful fire broke out in York, and rapidly spread, being fanned by a strong wind. During the confusion a number of thieves entered the house of a Jewish widow, slew her and her children, and plundered the house. Benedict, the husband of the murdered woman, had fallen in the massacre of Jews during King Richard’s coronation. Jocenus had attended Benedict to London, and had effected his escape with much difficulty. Being very wealthy he feared the fury of the mob, and took refuge in the castle, carrying with him his treasures. His example was largely followed by the Jews. The governor of the castle sallied out, leaving it in the hands of the refugees. On his return he was largely accompanied, and the Jews, in their fear, refused to admit him. He at once raised the country, and besieged the castle. Their offer of ransom being rejected, in their despair the Jews resolved to kill themselves, after destroying their property and setting fire to the fortress. Jocenus cut the throats of his wife and five children, and this dreadful example was largely followed. The less courageous of the Jews then appealed to the besiegers, told the story of the tragedy, and, as proof, threw at their feet several mangled corpses. Protection was promised to the survivors, when the gates were thrown open. The besiegers entered, and completed the extermination of the Jews. The cathedral was then visited, and the bonds and securities of the Jews, deposited there for safe keeping, were destroyed.
William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, was deputed to punish the offenders. He appointed Osbert de Longchamp governor of the county; and the sheriff and governor of the castle were deprived of their offices, and cast into prison. Fines were inflicted on many citizens, and a hundred hostages taken.
On Richard’s release from his German captivity, he sold many offices to raise his ransom. For 3,000 marks Geoffrey Plantagenet, Archbishop of York, purchased the office of Sheriff. This rendered him all but an absolute prince of the province.
Early in his reign King John visited York, and held a convention, which was attended by the King of Scotland, and many of his nobles. The citizens abstained from any expression of welcome, and the disgusted King consoled himself by exacting a fine of £100. In the last year of the tyrant’s life, York was besieged by the northern barons, who were bought off with 1,000 marks.
Henry III. held a convocation at York in 1220, when his sister Joanna was engaged to King Alexander of Scotland. In the following year his majesty attended the espousals, celebrated in the cathedral church. On this occasion Alexander’s sister, Margaret, bestowed her hand upon Hubert de Burgh, the justiciary.
Henry celebrated his Christmas festivities in York, A.D. 1230 and 1252. On the last occasion he bestowed the hand of his daughter Margaret upon Alexander, King of Scotland. Matthew Paris gives a particular and most interesting account of the ceremonies:—
“The Earl-Marshal earnestly demanded that the palfrey of the King of Scotland, which he claimed as his right, should be given to him, with its caparisons—not for its value, or out of any avarice, but according to an ancient custom in such cases—that it might not die away in his time through any neglect of his.”
Alexander “would not submit to such an exaction, because, if he chose, he might obtain these equipments from any Catholic prince, or from some of his own nobles.”
The Archbishop of York nobly performed his part. “In making presents of gold, silver, and silken dresses, he sowed on a barren shore four thousand marks which he never afterwards reaped. But it was necessary for him to do these things for a time, that his good fame might be preserved in its integrity, and that the mouths of evil-speakers might be closed.”
Necessarily Edward I. was many times in Yorkshire during his Scottish wars. In 1291 he treated the citizens to the spectacle of one of his state-butcheries, when Rees-ap-Meredith, a descendant of the ancient royalty of South Wales, was dragged on a hurdle to the gallows, and hanged and quartered. In the year 1298, he obtained sole possession of the port and lands of Wyke, afterwards known as Kingston-upon-Hull. Under his royal patronage, the port speedily rose to a position of great maritime importance. In the same year he twice summoned Parliament to assemble at York, commanding the attendance of the Scotch nobility, and declared the pains and penalties of high treason against all absentees.
Six years later Edward concluded that the conquest of Scotland was achieved, and disbanded his army. In 1307, he died upon the red war-path, commenced in subtlety and falsehood. He drew his last breath at Burgh-on-Sands, in Cumberland, on the 7th of July.
In Yorkshire the Barons ran Piers Gaveston to earth in the days of Edward II. In 1311 they curtailed the royal power, and sentenced Gaveston to perpetual banishment, attaching the death-penalty should he re-enter the Kingdom. Edward commanded Gaveston to return, and restored his honours and possessions. The Barons flew to arms, and marched to York. The King fled to Newcastle, proceeded to Scarborough Castle, where he left Gaveston in command, and vainly endeavoured to raise an army.
Attacked by the Barons, Gaveston surrendered. Pembroke and Lord Henry Percy engaged that he should be imprisoned in Wallingford Castle, and that he should suffer no violence. Nevertheless he was carried to Dedington Castle, near Banbury, when Pembroke departed, and Warwick appeared upon the scene. Threatened with attack, the garrison declined to defend their prisoner, and surrendered him into the hands of Warwick. Gaveston was mounted upon a mule, surrounded by his enemies, and carried to Warwick Castle with extravagant parade, being welcomed with a loud flourish of trumpets. He read his fate in the fierce elation of the Barons, but made a vain appeal for mercy. It was rejected, and he was condemned to death.
After the battle of Bannockburn the whole of Scotland regained its ancient freedom, saving only the border town and fortress of Berwick, the security of which was zealously guarded by the unfortunate son of the terrible “Hammer of Scotland.”
The severe and even harsh discipline to which the burghers were subjected by the commandant of the fortress caused much dissatisfaction, and one of the inhabitants, a burgess named Spalding, proposed, in the bitterness of his heart, to betray the place into the hands of the Scottish monarch. King Robert eagerly entered into negotiations which were placed before him by the Earl of March, and deputed the conducting of the somewhat hazardous enterprise to his favourite captains, Douglas and Randolph. The project was duly carried to a successful termination, a body of troops scaling the walls under cover of a dark night, being materially assisted by Spalding, who went the rounds that night. Some confusion occurred, the governor of the castle made a desperate sally into the town, and bloody fighting followed before Douglas, Randolph, and Sir William Keith of Galston succeeded in forcing the stubborn Southrons back to the shelter of their works. Soon after the King appeared upon the scene, and, further resistance obviously being futile, the castle was surrendered. For Spalding it may be said that his action was probably more patriotic than treacherous, as he was married to a Scottish woman, and was, doubtless, himself of the same nationality.
This loss was severely felt by the English, and was bitterly resented by King Edward. It was followed by a dreadful invasion of the northern provinces of England, when Northallerton, Boroughbridge, and Skipton-in-Craven were committed to the flames, and Ripon only secured immunity from a similar visitation by the payment of a ransom of one thousand marks. The unhappy people were utterly without protection, and the Scots leisurely returned to their own country, driving their miserable captives before them “like flocks of sheep.”
Involved with his barons in those wretched complications which embittered his reign, Edward the II. was so mortified by the loss of Berwick, that he hastily came to an arrangement with the malcontents, and raising his banner prepared to invade Scotland, and attempt the recovery of the town and fortress which had so suddenly passed out of his possession.
The royal army assembled at Newcastle in the month of July, and, being very strong, Edward was hopeful of bringing the expedition to a successful termination. No measure was omitted for the securing of the object in view, and a powerful fleet from the Cinque ports followed the army with supplies of stores and warlike material. The walls of the fortress being so low that the warriors at the base could exchange stroke of lance with the defenders of the ramparts, Edward prepared to carry the place by assault, no doubt remembering the feat of his great sire in 1296, when he rode his good steed Bayard over ditch and wall, and commenced the work of pitiless slaughter with his own strong right hand.
Bruce, equally determined to retain the place, had appointed his gallant son-in-law, Walter, the high-steward of Scotland, to the command of the town and castle. The garrison was reinforced by 500 volunteers, all gentlemen, friends and relations of the steward. Provisions to serve for a year having been laid up, the gallant Scots awaited the course of events.
However sanguine Edward of Cærnarvon may have been, he certainly exhibited all reasonable prudence before Berwick, and, before commencing active operations, caused his camp to be strongly fortified. When the hour of attack arrived, the valiant Scots who manned the walls of Berwick found they had a double danger to meet, as the English mariners were bringing up one of their largest ships, which was crowded with soldiers, who clung to the masts, rigging, and spars, ready to leap upon the ramparts, as soon as the sailors brought up alongside the walls, and got the vessel in position with their grappling irons. As the vessel drew near, gleaming with steel, and presenting a most formidable appearance, she suddenly took the ground, and in a moment all was confusion, the mariners straining every nerve to get her off into deep water again. All these attempts proving in vain, and as the vessel lay stranded at ebb-tide, she was set on fire by the Scots, and consumed, to the great elation of the garrison, and equally to the disgust of the English.
While this exciting incident was being enacted, Edward was furiously assaulting the town from the land, sending his fierce stormers, who were abundantly supplied with scaling ladders, to the attack by thousands, and covering their advance by the incessant discharge of his archers, whose long and deadly shafts swept the ramparts like a hail-storm. But the Scots met the storm with indomitable bravery, fringing their walls with glittering pikes, hurling down showers of missiles upon the enemy, casting down their ladders, and sending their heavy axes through the iron skull-caps of the stormers before they could make good their foot-hold upon the ramparts. After long hours of stubborn and sanguinary toil, Edward withdrew his troops to the shelter of their entrenchments, and both parties rested after their severe and exhausting toil: but at the base of the walls, and upon the bloody ramparts many brave men slept their long death-sleep.
Untamed by their repulse, the English soldiers prepared to renew their efforts, and set to work upon the construction of a huge military machine called a “Sow”: this was framed of solid timber, and moved upon heavy rollers, the roof sloping and affording an efficient protection to the soldiers who toiled with pick and spade beneath its cover, intent upon undermining the walls of the beleaguered hold. The “Sow” was especially dangerous to the Scots in the present case, for the whole length of the walls being exposed to repeated assaults, they were so completely outnumbered that they were unable to spare any considerable number of men to guard against its action, and should once a breach be effected in the walls it would be impossible to arrest the pressure of Edward’s stormers, who kept the hardy Scots fully employed even while their ramparts were intact.
When the English engineers levelled the ground, and wheeled the heavy machine against the walls, and the miners were waiting, pick in hand, to fall to work, the contending warriors awaited the result with equal anxiety and interest. Berwick was indebted for its safety to the labours of a Flemish engineer named John Crab, who had prepared a huge catapult for the purpose of hurling heavy missiles against the terrible “Sow,” and, as it approached the wall, he discharged a huge mass of rock against it. The flight of the missile was regarded with the utmost interest by both parties, but it failed to strike the machine, and a second discharge was equally inoperative, and the “Sow” now drew near the walls, amid the exulting shouts of the besiegers; but Crab had now obtained a better idea of the power of his catapult, and, calculating the distance to a nicety, sent a large piece of rock upon the mid-roof of the doomed “Sow.” The massive stone went thundering and crashing through the solid timber, and, as cries of rage and dismay burst from the English troops, the miners came rushing wildly from the ruined machine, and sought to gain the trenches, while the Scots sent their arrows and missiles after them, exclaiming, in grim mockery and exultation, “Behold, the English sow has farrowed!”
The Scots were inspired by their success, the English aggravated by repeated disappointments and repulses, and the conflict necessarily waxed fiercer, Crab working his military engines with great vigour, hurling showers of missiles upon the assailants, and giving the unlucky “Sow” its coup de grace in the form of a quantity of blazing and highly inflammable material, which quickly set it on fire. Amid the tumult of the assault it continued to burn, sending up showers of sparks and dense volumes of smoke, until it was reduced to ashes.
The English fleet was brought up to second the efforts of the stormers, but John Crab had so many cranes and springals in position, and hurled his huge copper-winged darts, heavy iron chains, and grappling hooks, and bundles of ignited tow, saturated with pitch, with such unfailing precision that the commanders were fairly daunted, and, fearing to involve the fleet in utter destruction, drew off, and the Scots, thus opportunely relieved, directed their undivided attention to the repeated assaults of the enemy.
During those hours of murderous strife the grand steward was passing from point to point with a reserve of 100 men, and wherever he found the garrison hardly pressed he succoured them with a few men, and animated them by his example and exhortations; and where the slaughter had been especially heavy he made good the loss from his fast diminishing reserves. The conflict was at its height, and the steward had done all that he could to strengthen the sorely-pressed garrison, only one soldier remaining in attendance upon him, when the startling news was brought that Edward’s warriors had destroyed the barriers at St. Mary’s gate, which they were endeavouring to burn down.
Hastily collecting a band of warriors, he pressed forward to the threatened point, passing numbers of young lads and fearless women busily engaged in collecting the missiles thrown over the walls by the enemy, and on approaching the scene of peril, he commanded the gate to be thrown open, and charging through the flame and smoke at the head of his brave followers he fell upon the assailants, sword in hand, and after a fierce conflict drove them off, restored the defences, and made fast the door again. The conflict ended in the utter repulse of the English forces, nevertheless the garrison was sorely thinned and exhausted, so that unless it was augmented by reinforcements, or some diversion was made in its favour, but little prospect of maintaining the fortress remained.
It was the policy of Robert Bruce never to risk a battle with his powerful enemies, and although sorely tried by the dangerous state to which Berwick was reduced, he maintained his resolution, but attempted a diversion by despatching Douglas and Randolph with 15,000 men to make a raid upon the northern shires of England, and, if possible, to fall upon York, and carry off Queen Isabella, who there awaited the issue of the campaign, imagining that she was secured from all peril by her distance from the theatre of war and by the strong walls of the city.
The Scots were not slow in carrying out the instructions of King Robert, but crossed the Solway, and made a rapid march upon York, only to find that their project had been discovered, and the Queen’s escape secured. It appears that a Scottish spy had fallen into the hands of the English, and confessed, “how our enemy, James Douglas, with a chosen band of men, would come to these parts in order to carry off the Queen, and those whom he should find resisting should be killed at the same time.” The danger of Queen Isabella, whose character was then unimpeached, aroused all the loyal energies of the Archbishop and Mayor of York, and hastily collecting a body of armed men, they made a rapid march to secure her majesty’s safety, and caused her to be conveyed by water to Nottingham.
The attempt to draw Edward from the siege of Berwick by threatening the safety of his queen having failed, the Scottish captains proceeded to carry out the second part of their programme with the utmost energy, and giving loose to their wild passion for burning and plundering, they wrought terrible mischief upon the northern towns and villages, as though determined to extort from King Edward the heaviest price for the fortress of Berwick, should he decide to maintain the siege, in spite of every obstacle, until it fell into his hands.
Deeply touched by the distress of the peasantry, the Archbishop of York, William de Melton, and the Mayor, Nicholas Fleming, attempted to organise an army, and check the depredations of the Scots, who had carried their wild riders to the gates of York, and set the suburbs on fire.
Perhaps history can furnish no more rash undertaking than this: Randolph and Douglas were cool and experienced captains, and ferocious soldiers; the troops they commanded were veterans, accustomed to victory, and experienced in the hardships and toils of the field; men who could only be approached by tried and steady soldiers, and who were not likely to yield the palm to the flower of the English army. To meet these, the Archbishop had to rely upon burghers and peasants, men little accustomed to the use of arms, and entirely deficient in military training, and for whom no competent leaders could be found. No lack of energy was shown by the Archbishop and Mayor, and the hasty and untried levies responded to their exhortations with equal zeal. There was no time to prepare the volunteers for the ordeal, no opportunities for testing their courage in skirmishes, for training them to advance upon such dangerous enemies as the Scots, or to retire before them in good order if they found them too strongly posted to be attacked with any prospect of success.
As though to compensate all physical defects by an extraordinary weight of spiritual influence, the numbers of the army were augmented by many priests, who are supposed to have been brought together at York for the celebration of the feast of St. Matthew.
Ten thousand men were all that the Archbishop could bring into the field, and with these he marched after the Scots, who prepared to receive his attack at “Myton Meadow, near the Swale water,” supposed to be a large field, at that time unenclosed, and situate some three miles east of Boroughbridge, just above the confluence of the rivers Ure and Swale, and in the immediate locality of the obscure village of Myton.
Half the army of Douglas and Randolph would probably have sufficed to worst the English in fair and open field, but the Scots commanders had been long accustomed to foil the English by ambuscades and surprises, the fatal English archers, and their usual superiority in numbers, necessitating the utmost caution on the part of the Scots when engaging with their formidable Southern foes; and on this unfortunate day the Scots prepared an ambush, which was certain to foil the onset of the English, and to cast them into that confusion which ends in panic where undisciplined troops are concerned.
On the English approaching the bridge across the Swale, the Scots, or more probably an advanced division of them, feigned a retreat, drawing the Englishmen within the toils of an ambush, that was prepared for their destruction. To ensure their more complete defeat, they were permitted to cross the bridge, and while pushing on, no doubt in some uncertainty, they were suddenly involved in dense clouds of smoke, which, drifting before the wind, veiled the movements of the enemy. The Scots had fired three haystacks, and were coming furiously down upon their enemies under cover of the smoke, having concentrated their forces “after the manner of a shield.” Before the onset was delivered, the Scottish army separated into two divisions, and uttering their dreadful battle-cry, one division threw itself between the English and the bridge, cutting off every prospect of retreat, while the other charged full upon the Archbishop’s troops.
Confused by the drifting smoke, the dreadful war-cries of Douglas and Randolph, the English troops were so completely taken by surprise that they were half-beaten before a blow was struck. With no regular troops to maintain the van and rear, and give them steadiness by example, and without leaders to form them in the best way to meet the charging enemy into whose hand they were so rashly delivered, the confused mass of Englishmen were held at utter disadvantage. With steady charge the Scottish spearmen bore down upon them, the billmen and swordmen rushed upon their ranks like a tempest, and the men-at-arms taking them in the rear, a bloody massacre ensued. Utterly unable to maintain their ranks, hurled upon each other by the furious charges of the enemy, smitten, broken, trampled under foot, the English, after a vain attempt at defence, broke, and sought to secure their safety by a headlong flight. Beset on every side, followed close by the victors, cut off from the bridge, the wretched troops lost all heart, and, seized with panic, thought not of attempting to make a stand against their enemies, but turned all their energies to secure their escape. A scene of dreadful carnage followed: the Scots were pitiless in their triumph, and cut down the fugitives with remorseless activity. The English vainly attempted to cross the Swale, and dreadful and tragic scenes took place on the bank and in the waters of the river. The fugitives who hesitated to cast themselves into the water fell by the sword of the pursuer, and of those who attempted to pass the river about a thousand were drowned. The approach of night alone saved the army from utter destruction, and the total loss was computed at nearly 4,000 men, of whom 300 were priests, arrayed in full canonicals, but who were put to the sword with merciless severity by the Scots, who lost few men themselves, and treating the slaughter of the churchmen as a pleasant joke referred to the battle as the Chapter of Mitton. It was fought on the 13th, September, 1319.
Sir Nicholas Fleming, who was serving as Mayor of York for the seventh year, was slain on the field. The pursuit was close, but the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Ely, although hardly pushed, succeeded in effecting their escape. The Archbishop’s cross was among the missing, however, the cross-bearer having secreted it in the hope of preserving it from the Scots; but a peasant finding it by chance was tempted to conceal it in his hut for some days, when the pricking of his conscience becoming too severe he penitently restored it to the rightful owner.
The loss of the Scots was insignificant, but the churchyard of Myton received a huge and ghastly burthen of slain Yorkshiremen. The corpse of Sir Nicholas Fleming was tenderly cared for, and buried in the church of St. Wilfred, York, the citizens deeply lamenting the loss of their patriotic mayor, for the repose of whose soul special provisions were made by the Archbishop.
From the bloody field of Myton the hardy Scots pursued their way triumphantly to Castleford, where they crossed the river Aire, and proceeding through Airedale, Wharfedale, and Craven, bore off many captives and much plunder, entering Scotland in safety.
On the 1st of July, 1312, a dark and tragic deed was enacted on the gentle eminence of Blacklow, where the Avon winds through a calm and peaceful scene. The sun shone brightly on the flashing waters of the river, on the summer foliage of wood and grove, and on the polished steel mail of armed men, for the English barons, Arundel, Lancaster, and Hereford, were actors in the tragedy, and their banners waved from the ranks of numerous men-at-arms, pikemen, and archers, for at length, by mingled violence and guile, they had won into their own hands the life of the King’s favourite, and him they now called upon to conclude the drama of life with what spirit and courage he could command for so trying an occasion. Then stood forward the handsome and talented young knight, the favourite of his unhappy monarch, hurried by rough hands to the fatal block, and the grim headsman performed his unholy office, striking off the head of Piers Gaveston, sometime Earl of Cornwall, and—with all his faults—an accomplished knight, deserving of a better fate.
Chief of the self-constituted judges who thus presumed to rid themselves of a personal enemy, was Thomas Earl of Lancaster, the grandson of Henry the Third, and the most potent noble in the whole realm of England. To this exalted person, a prince of many virtues, Gaveston had humbled himself, and pleaded, but vainly pleaded, for mercy. Lancaster could not forgive the gibes of his fallen enemy. The “stage-player” and “old hog” now held the life of the offender in his hands; his proud heart indignantly remembered the shame and mortification of that day when, in the lists of the tournament, his haughty crest was abased to the very dust, as the lance of the upstart Gaveston hurled him from his saddle. So Lancaster avenged himself for defeat and unmerited insult, and the rude barons declared that he had done well.
But Edward of Cærnarvon remembered the deed of shame, and waited, as weak and gentle-minded men will sometimes wait, until circumstances should enable him to demand of Lancaster a full reckoning for the blood that had been shed. In the first bitterness of his wrath he attempted to meet the barons in the field, but they were too powerful for so unwarlike a monarch as Edward to contend with, and being averse to endanger the peace of the Kingdom by attacking the King in his own person, they submitted to his clemency, and were restored to favour. Persuaded to pardon the crime Edward would not legalize it by declaring Piers Gaveston a traitor, although importuned to take this step by the most powerful of the barons.
Time passed, and all men forgot the Gascon knight Piers Gaveston, or only remembered him to blame his follies and exult in the sharp and sudden punishment that overtook him.
After the triumphs achieved by Edward the I. in his attempts to subjugate Scotland, and destroy its national life by ruthlessly slaying her patriots with the soldier’s sword or the headsman’s axe, it was with extreme bitterness that the English endured the humiliation of defeated armies and invaded provinces. They had taken to the sword, and when that sword fell from the hands of Edward at Burgh-on-Sands it was seized by Randolph and Douglas, and mercilessly it was used, until in the invaded, blood-stained Northern provinces of England the fear and hatred of the Scots became a passion, and he was indeed a bold or foolish man who presumed to enter into negotiations with the national enemy.
Naturally King Edward’s hold upon the loyalty of his subjects was weakened by the Northern troubles, for the stubborn English mind regarded the red-handed crimes of the father as the virtuous enterprise of a great monarch, and contrasted with his success the feeble efforts of his son: it was the glory of Berwick and Falkirk contrasted with the disasters of Bannockburn and Berwick: it was the ravaged, outraged Scotland of the first Edward contrasted with the wasted and blood-stained Northumbria of the second Edward.
So troubles thickened around the life-path of Edward of Cærnarvon. His authority was subverted, and so low had he descended in the estimation of his feudatories, that Queen Isabella was denied admission into the King’s Castle of Leeds, in Kent, then held by the Lord of Badlesmere, under his majesty’s authority, and for his majesty’s use. The Queen’s attendants naturally insisted upon being admitted, and endeavoured to force their way into the castle, when the garrison proceeded to extremities, and several of her majesty’s suite were slain. This high-handed proceeding of Badlesmere caused a revulsion of feeling in favour of the King, and availing himself of the transient emotion, he gathered together a powerful army. For once his actions were energetic, and his blows fell heavily. He took Badlesmere prisoner, and loaded him with chains, at the same time inflicting a heavy and well-merited punishment upon his lawless vassals. He made an unexpected visit to the Lords of the Marches, and captured and hanged twelve knights. Like all weak-minded men he knew no moderation in the hour of success, and presumed more upon a transient advantage than a great monarch would have done if successful in the utter destruction of a hostile party.
This sudden change in the royal fortunes alarmed the barons, and many made submission; but Edward cast them into prison, and seized their castles. Great Lancaster was now sorely discomposed, and learned, too late, to fear the monarch whose authority he had so openly slighted. It had been long suspected that this potent noble had entered into a confederacy with the Scots, to avert the doom which would probably overtake him if deserted by the English barons, or defeated by the royal forces. The time had now arrived when it was necessary to call in the national enemy to his rescue; and in this crisis of his fortunes he openly avowed his unpatriotic measures, took up arms, and urgently appealed to the King of Scotland for assistance. Before those redoubtable warriors, Moray and Douglas, assembled their men-at-arms and pikemen, the promptitude of Edward had prevailed.
Finding that he could not maintain himself against King Edward until succoured by the Scottish reinforcements, Lancaster marched northward, and was joined by the Earl of Hereford. This accession of strength did not, however, enable him to assume the offensive, although it encouraged him to make a stand at Burton-upon-Trent, where he took up a position that commanded the bridge, in the vain hope of holding the royal forces at bay, and of receiving reinforcements from the disaffected barons.
The noble blood that had already been shed in requital of treason against the crown had operated forcibly upon the reasoning faculties of Edward’s violent and restless barons, and they prudently kept their steeds in stall, and swords in scabbard, leaving Lancaster and Hereford, with their band of adherents, to make the best of their quarrel with the King, alone, and unaided, unless they could succeed in reaching the Scottish border and forming a junction with the Scots under Randolph and Douglas. It would have fared ill with the nation if Lancaster’s design had succeeded, for although Robert Bruce was too wise a monarch to attempt to annex any of the English territory, being satisfied to strictly maintain the integrity of the Kingdom of Scotland, yet Lancaster might have involved the nation in the distractions of a wide-extending civil war, for placed in so desperate a position he would necessarily have urged the Scots to press any advantage that their arms might have achieved, and although the resistance of the English would have been the rising of the nation against a foreign invader, yet Lancaster might have succeeded in winning over some of the barons, especially as Edward knew not the art of attaching them to his interests, but was possessed of an unhappy facility in disgusting them by his too-obvious lack of the qualities necessary to a great prince in the middle ages.
Lancaster failed in his proposed operations, and was obliged to beat a hasty retreat to secure himself from the advancing royalists. On the 16th March he approached Boroughbridge, to find it defended by the Warden of the Western Marches, Sir Andrew Harcla, and the Sheriff of Yorkshire, Sir Simon Ward. The crisis had come: but the conflict was not to win a sceptre, or a protectorship, but to escape from the axe and block wherewith traitors were requited for their misdeeds in the days of the Plantagenets.
In happier and more fortunate times Earl Lancaster had bestowed the accolade of knighthood upon Andrew Harcla, and he now endeavoured to induce the loyal knight to make common cause with him against King Edward. Harcla was too prudent a man to take so rash and ruinous a step, and Lancaster drew up his soldiers to attempt to force the old wooden bridge, which spanned the river Ure.
The hasty levies which Harcla and Ward had called to arms consisted largely of northern archers, famous for their skill with the bow, and they were strongly posted at the head of the bridge. To ford the river was impossible, it being sixty yards wide at that part; to follow the course of the river and seek to cross at some other point, with Ward and Harcla marching en rapport on the opposite side of the river, and with the royal troops nigh at hand, closing in upon their rear, was to risk an almost inevitable and irremediable disaster. Lancaster’s one path to freedom was by the storming of the bridge, and they accordingly prepared for their last passage-at-arms.
The archers were ordered forward to clear the bridge, and a deadly trial of skill commenced; the long, keenly-barbed shafts sweeping like a hail of death from end to end of the bridge: in a moment the dead lay thick at either end, and the brave and determined archers of either army mutually faced with admirable courage the fierce sleet of death that smote them down in bloody heaps. It could not last: the superiority of the northern archers was beyond dispute, and Lancaster ordered back the remains of his archers to a less exposed position, to make room for bills and pikes, and the lances of the dismounted men-at-arms, for the bridge was too old and full of holes to admit of a charge of horse. A violent conflict ensued, blood was spilled freely, and the bridge was heaped with the slain, for the old Northumbrian war-fury rose to the fierce music of clashing steel and resonant war-cries, and the defensive position of the royal troops, so deeply massed at the head of the bridge, gave them every advantage over their assailants, who could only bring a few lances to the front in the hopeless struggle to beat a bloody pathway for their escape. The insurgents fought desperately, as men entrapped, fighting for bare life, or exacting the heaviest price from the slayer. Hereford set a noble example to the unfortunate soldiers, charging on foot, sword in hand, the foremost man in the sanguinary toil; but an untoward stroke mocked his valour, and discouraged the devoted vassals who fought beneath his flag. Under the rickety old bridge, with its gaping timbers, lurked a felon Welshman, armed with a long spear, waiting for some noble victim, whom he could thus slay without risking his own person. The wished-for opportunity at length occurred, as Hereford headed the desperate charge of the Lancastrians, and sustained the fight in the vicinity of his concealed enemy. Suddenly, to the dismay and horror of his friends, he reeled and fell heavily upon the bridge; the pallor of death overspread his features, and the blood gushed from his wounds. The Welshman had gashed his bowels by a murderous stroke of his lance.
Lancaster now attempted to ford the river with a portion of his troops, but this proved impossible in face of the deadly superiority of the opposing archers. Sir Roger Clifford was wounded in the head; Sir William Sulley and Sir Roger Bernefield were slain outright; the Earl’s army was utterly demoralised, his loss was severe, and abandoning the last hope of forcing the river, he utterly lost heart, and retired into the town, taking refuge in a chapel.
De Harcla now ordered the royal troops to advance, and they rushed furiously over the bridge, bearing down the last feeble defence of the disheartened Lancastrians, and pursuing the scattered fugitives with a cruel ardour. Many archers and pikemen fell by sword and bill in that dark hour, vassals whose only crime was obedience to the lords whose badge they wore. Many knights and barons surrendered their swords, and were rudely haled away in bonds, to await the punishment that follows unsuccessful treason. That day the shadow of death gloomed over many a brave young soldier, whose valour might have been worthily employed in defending the northern borders against the incursions of the Scots.
Earl Lancaster was speedily surprised in the chapel where he had hidden his unhappy head. Exulting in having achieved so notable a capture, the rough soldiers laid rude hands upon him, whereon he sadly gazed upon the crucifix, and fervently and pathetically ejaculated, “Good Lord, I render myself unto Thee, and put me unto Thy mercy!” And great was his need of the Divine, for of human mercy he was to receive none. His knightly armour was torn off, never to be resumed, and, after many insults, he was conveyed to York, to be hailed with derisive cries of “King Arthur!” by the rude populace, as they cast the street mud at him. In his famous Castle of Pontefract was a new dungeon, built by his directions, and to which entrance was obtained by means of a trap-door in the turret of the tower. To Pontefract the Earl was carried, and lowered into this gloomy dungeon, so close a type of the grave to which he was hourly drawing near.
King Edward was not long in reaching Pontefract with his army; when Lancaster was brought to trial before his majesty and the loyal barons who marched with him. Among them were the Spencers, around whom he had hoped to draw the toils, and whom he regarded with indignation and disgust, as the rapacious, upstart favourites of a weak and foolish prince. The Spencers looked upon him as their most dangerous enemy, and Edward was only fierce when defending his favourites: who should speak of mercy in such an hour as that? Certainly none of Edward’s barons, however deeply they might deplore the fate of the noble Earl, for their plea for mercy might be regarded as a proof of disloyalty, and Edward was showing a leven of that savage spirit which existed so strongly in his father, and was shown by the butchering of so many noble Scotchmen on the scaffold.
The condemnation and sentence were speedily arrived at. Lancaster was to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, but being of the royal blood he was spared the torture which meaner traitors were subjected to, and the punishment was commuted to decollation.
On the 22nd of March the headsman waited for Lancaster, who was led to the scaffold, mounted on a miserable hack, insulted and reviled by the spectators, many of whom pelted him with mud. Calm and dignified, he implored the grace of heaven to enable him patiently to endure the sorrow of that bitter hour. The block was placed upon a hill near his castle, and he knelt with his face to the east, expecting the stroke of the executioner; but his pitiless enemies ordered him to turn to the north, from whence he had expected the Scottish succours, and in this position he received his death-blow.
The rebellion of Lancaster involved many noblemen in his ruin. Ninety-five knights and barons were cast into prison, and stood their trial for high treason. Other bloody executions followed with merciless barbarity. The lords Warren-de-Lisle, William de Fouchet, Thomas Mandute, Fitz-William, Henry de Bradburne, and William Cheney, suffered at Pontefract; and Clifford, Mowbray, and Deynville were decapitated at York. Thus bloodily did King Edward avenge the death of Gaveston—for there can be little doubt that the blow aimed at the Spencers, and the recollection of Gaveston’s doom, were the motives that moved him to such a cruel exercise of his power over his revolted and defeated subjects. Perhaps a more humane and generous policy might have averted the evil days, when he was left as helpless in the hands of his enemies as was Lancaster on the day of his defeat and capture. In reguerdon of his great service to the crown, Sir Andrew Harcla was exalted to the rank of Earl of Carlisle.
Among the revolted barons who fought with Lancaster and Hereford at Boroughbridge, was John de Mowbray, lord of the vale of Mowbray, of Kirby Malzeard, and Thirsk and Upsall Castles. Tradition still retains his name, and gives a strangely wild and legendary account of his death; probable enough, but not to be received as authentic history. In the breaking up of the Lancastrian troops, in the last stormy passage of the day, John de Mowbray, disengaging himself from the press, put spurs to his horse, and rode off, in the direction of Upsall Castle, near Thirsk, where he hoped to secure his safety. The royalists, however, were soon on his track, pressed him hard, and reached him as he was making his way through a lane, within sight of Upsall Castle. In a moment he was seized and unhelmed, and his throat stretched across the trunk of a fallen tree as one of the King’s men struck off his head. His armour was then stripped off and suspended from the branches of an oak tree, his body being cast into a way-side ditch. The tradition is preserved in the name of the lane which is still called Chop Head Loaning. The Rev. Thomas Parkinson, F.R.H.S., gives this tradition at length in his interesting volume, “Yorkshire Legends and Traditions,” and quotes Mrs. Susan K. Phillips’ poetical version of the legend—a poem which would have delighted Sir Walter Scott.
The blood-stained old wooden bridge across the Ure has long ceased to bear the traffic of the locality, and a handsome stone erection now replaces it. Harcla and Ward’s old fighting ground, that bristled with sword and spear and deadly bill on the 16th of March, 1321, is now more prosaic soil, burdened with houses, timber, and coal-yards; and is partly cleft by a short canal, the property of the River Ure Navigation. When the river was embanked in 1792, the excavators at the Old Banks, below the bridge, discovered some presumed relics of the battle, consisting of many fragments of arms and armour.
After the tragedy of Earl Lancaster’s revolt had been concluded by the wholesale executions of the barons and knights implicated in that misguided movement, the Scots, commanded by Randolph, Earl of Moray, invaded the Western marches, and ravaged the country in their customary barbarous style, slaying all who attempted resistance, and driving before them all the flocks and herds that their swift and well-organised cavalry could collect. What they could not carry away they burnt, returning to Scotland without having received a check in the field. Where they had passed, the summer sun gleamed brightly on ruined cots and devastated fields, and the English peasantry, inured to toil and suffering, gazed despairingly upon the ruin of the fruit of the soil, fostered by their hard labour, and by the sun and rain of the departed months.
While the Scots were acting Edward of Cærnarvon was preparing to take the field. Referring to the English monarch’s victory at Boroughbridge, Sir Walter Scott makes the following reflections:—“This gleam of success on his arms, which had been sorely tarnished, seems to have filled Edward, who was of a sanguine and buoyant temperament, with dreams of conquest over all his enemies. As a king never stands more securely than on the ruins of a discovered and suppressed conspiracy, he wrote to the pope to give himself no further solicitude to procure a truce or peace with the Scots, since he had determined to bring them to reason by force.”
Edward spared no pains to ensure the success of the expedition into Scotland, and Parliament authorised military levies in the country to the extent of one man from every English hamlet and village, and a proportionate number from the towns and cities. Subsidies of money were largely granted, and enabled Edward to obtain supplies of arms and provisions from over seas, besides reinforcing his army with soldiers from Aquitaine.
The Scottish monarch timed his movements, and organised his plans to check the English advance, with his customary foresight and energy; and although the cruel slaughter of so many of his nearest relatives and dearest friends might well have steeled his heart against the English, we are bound to admit that his repeated devastations of the Northumbrian provinces were of incalculable service in protecting Scotland from hostile attacks, although they might and did excite the English to cross the border in expeditions organised for the purpose of revenge.
Bruce never wanted for an army to invade England—an army that repaid its toils by the plunder of the enemy, and this is clearly illustrated by the campaign that ended with the battle of Byland Abbey; while Edward was spending months in raising an army, taxing the people, and making forced levies, drawing supplies of men and munitions from his continental provinces, Bruce had but to raise his standard, when a numerous army followed him, to win the reguerdon of their toil with sword and spear from the fertile English provinces.
King Robert dared not risk the liberties of Scotland by meeting the powerful hosts of England, with their deadly archers, in the open field, and his plan of defence was therefore to devastate the English borders with fire and sword, to the farthest practicable limit, and to drive all the flocks and herds on the Scottish border far inland, wasting the country as far as the Firth of Forth.
As soon as Moray had performed his raid on the West marches, he was instructed to join his forces with those of Douglas, and cross the borders in a more easterly direction, while King Robert penetrated into Lancashire through the Western marches. The expedition commenced on the 1st of July, and was concluded on the 24th, when the Scotch army re-entered Scotland in triumph, with numerous waggons heavily laden with the plunder of the English. The vale of Furness had been the scene of their triumphant march, and they left it utterly desolated; barns, stacks and ricks, and fields of ripening grain had been given to the flames, or trampled under foot.
The unhappy peasantry, abandoning their rude cots, sought such refuge as the woods and wilds afforded, or haply took shelter in the nearest walled town. Men-at-arms and burghers took spear and bow in hand, made fast their gates, and kept careful watch lest the enemy should burst upon them with fire and sword some dreadful night. The wasted country gleamed with the light of burning villages, and many a rude border-fortress was taken by assault before King Edward headed his warriors and marched northward with his mail-clad barons and stout yeomen.
The wary Scots waited not for the approach of the splendid army that marched behind the banners of the unfortunate Edward of Cærnarvon; although the English warriors were animated by an intense desire to avenge their wrongs, and not a monarch in Christendom but might have quailed at the prospect of joining battle with them, yet all their high courage and warlike accomplishments failed to serve them in their contest with the Bruce.
Pressing onward, rank after rank, squadron after squadron, with the glitter of thousands of lances, pikes, and bills, and with hundreds of banners floating on the breeze, the warriors of King Edward found neither foes to fight nor plunder to repay their toil, but “a land of desolation, which famine seemed to guard.” The transport of stores for so large an army was attended with extreme toil and difficulty, for the wasted soil would not even afford forage for the English horses. The English captains, hoping that by some chance the enemy might be brought to an engagement, resolutely maintained their advance, and the patient soldiers held on their way, in spite of increasing difficulties and dangers. It was the month of August, and the fatigue of the heavily armed troops must have been excessive. At length the toil-worn army reached the capital, but without any amelioration of their condition, or the prospect of an engagement. The sole spoil between England and Edinburgh was one lame bull. Well might Earl Warenne declare, “By my faith, I never saw dearer beef.” A fleet with supplies was expected in the firth, but it was detained by adverse winds, and after vainly waiting for three days, during which the troops began to experience the pangs of hunger, Edward reluctantly commanded the retreat to commence. They knew that Bruce had massed his army at Culross, and was keeping them under observation, but it was impossible to get within sight of the Scottish army, or to force an engagement. In their retreat the suffering and enraged soldiery burst into the convents of Dryburgh and Melrose, from which all but a few aged and infirm monks had retired: these unfortunates they put to the sword, defiled the sanctuaries, and carried off the consecrated vessels.
Bruce was now following hard and fast on the track of the retreating army, alert to seize every advantage, and anxious to secure the safety of his kingdom by inflicting a crushing blow upon his enemy. The English soldiery were harassed by being kept continually on the alert, and by the scarcity of provisions, but their greatest disaster awaited them on their native soil. Travel-wasted and famine-stricken they entered England, and were liberally supplied with food from the principal magazines in the north. Partaking with the impatient avidity of starving men, they sickened in great numbers, and in a few days 16,000 were carried off by inflammation of the bowels; and of the sick who recovered, few were ever again fit for service in the field.
To avert further disasters, and renew the strength and spirit of the survivors, the King formed a camp at Byland Abbey, some fourteen miles from York; and there the sorely-tried and weary soldiers found a temporary rest, and again enjoyed sufficient supplies of wholesome food.
The position was extremely strong, and under ordinary circumstances might perhaps have been considered unassailable when held by English archers and men-at-arms. It was a country of rocks and woods, where deep ravines cleft the rocks, and formed huge cliffs, easy of defence. The soldiers were judiciously posted on the elevated ground surrounding the abbey, a steep ridge very difficult to scale, the pass to which was narrow and easily defended by veteran soldiers. The exact ground that was held cannot now be ascertained; it was certainly an elevated ridge, and very probably that now known as the Old Stead Bank, at one end of which is a piece of land called “Scot’s corner.” If this is the scene of the conflict, it took place about a mile and a half to the north-west of the abbey. Doubtless the royal troops were still demoralised by the mortifying results of the campaign, disheartened by their losses, and weakened and dejected by their sufferings.
King Robert’s troops were largely mounted on small and active ponies, which enabled them to follow fast upon the tracks of the English. Crossing the Tweed, he attempted to carry Norham Castle, but failed, and directed his march towards Byland Abbey, for he had intelligence that the English army had there formed their camp. By a forced march he appeared in front of the English, to their great surprise. No doubt Bruce inferred that the English had lost all heart, for Cressy, Poictiers, and Agincourt were then unfought, and the world knew little of what the indomitable British spirit could endure, when great and esteemed captains animated the warriors to the conflict. Edward II. was neither great nor fortunate in arms, and was dining in the abbey, attended by his principal officers, when the Scots appeared and commenced the attack.
It was the 14th day of October, and the Scots commenced the conflict by a desperate attempt to carry the pass that was the key to the English position. Earls Pembroke and Richmond were there, however, directing the defence, and, although taken by surprise, the English soldiers made good their position with great courage. The pikemen held the crest of the rock in solid formation, ready to charge should the Scots force the pass, and bear them down again: the archers swept the front of the position with showers of arrows, and huge masses of rock were hurled upon the advancing enemy. The terrible Scottish infantry swept on with their long spears and heavy bills and claymores, and a hot encounter ensued. The Scots were so roughly handled, and the position was so strong, that Bruce despaired of winning it by storming the pass. To Douglas was appointed the arduous duty of continuing the conflict, Randolph, with four squires, fighting under his command, as volunteers. The English advanced post that defended the ascent of the cliff was commanded by Sir Thomas Ughtred and Sir Ralph Cobham—two gallant English knights who acquitted themselves nobly. There was great bloodshed, and hard fighting for some time. Bruce, who fully realised the position, headed a chosen band of Highlanders, active and daring men, and resolved to attempt to take the English in the rear, for closely engaged with the furious attacks of Douglas, and probably believing the natural defence sufficient for their protection, the English had neglected to post their troops in such a position as would secure them in case of a rear attack being made. Bruce seems to have realised the necessity of his attack being too sudden and secret to admit of defensive measures being taken, and, making a circuit, his Highlanders quickly and noiselessly scaled the high rocks in flank and rear of the English army. What followed may be easily imagined. The charge of the Highlanders was resistless, and being unexpected, a dreadful scene of slaughter and panic ensued. Vainly the English sought to close in, and meet the foe that burst upon rear and flank: this diversion naturally distracted the attention of the troops who supported the attacks of Douglas and Randolph, and those hardy warriors forcing the pass won the heights, where a terrible conflict was going on, the English troops breaking away, and taking to flight whenever the opportunity offered. Good men were there, although the panic-stricken fled, and many fell on that corpse-encumbered and blood-stained ridge, fighting at close quarters, and dying in their tracks. The bravest were cut down, and those that could escape the toils took to hurried flight. The battle was soon over; not so the pursuit. Great was the slaughter that ensued, but the actual loss of life is not chronicled.
So unexpected and complete was the victory of the Scots, that Edward was utterly incapable of making an attempt to rally his troops, or effect any orderly retreat. Mounting a swift horse, he directed his flight to York with all conceivable speed, leaving behind him his plate, money, and treasure, and even the privy seal. Walter Stewart followed hard after him with 500 horse, and had it not been for the swiftness of the royal steed, in all probability England would have undergone the humiliation of having her monarch borne a prisoner from her own soil by the invaders. As it was, the Scottish warrior could ill brook the loss of the intended prize, and he lingered before the walls of York with his slender force of men-at-arms until the shades of evening began to close over the scene; but so dejected and dispirited were the royal troops that they tamely submitted to the affront, although in sufficient numbers to have swept away the stout riders of Stewart. The Despensers succeeded in effecting their escape from the scene of confusion and bloodshed, and the day after the battle accompanied the King to Bridlington. With them went the Earl of Kent, John de Cromwell, and John de Ross.
Many Englishmen had taken refuge in the Abbey of Rivaulx when the struggle became too obviously hopeless; and among the knights and nobles who there surrendered their swords to the Scots were the Earl of Richmond, and Sir Henry de Sully. The prisoners were treated with the greatest courtesy, being simply regarded as chivalrous warriors doing their devoir in the field; but the Earl of Richmond had expressed himself in most disrespectful terms against the Bruce, and to show his opinion of such ungentle behaviour King Robert ordered the earl to be closely confined.
On the 22nd of October the Scottish army returned to their own country, laden with spoil, including £400 exacted for the ransom of Beverley: they left behind them a ravaged and ruined country.
Andrew de Harcla for some reason or other had failed to join King Edward with his levies, but, halting near Boroughbridge, had wasted the country. This was a suspicious circumstance, and was openly commented upon, with the implication that he had entered into a league with the Scots, and would not act against them. It was in the last days of the year that these grave charges were brought before the royal notice, when the earl’s arrest was immediately ordered.
Surrounded by his retainers, and occupying the strong fortress of Carlisle, the earl might have successfully resisted the King’s arms until an opportunity of effecting his escape into Scotland offered; and Lord Lucy, who put the royal orders into execution, resorted to strategy rather than force.
Attended by Sir Hugh de Moriceby, Sir Richard de Denton, Sir Hugh de Lowther, four squires, and a small party of soldiers, Lord Lucy entered Carlisle Castle, with as little ostentation as possible, his soldiers dispersing, to re-assemble in small parties near the gates. Lord Lucy and his knights then sought the presence of de Harcla, and demanded his instant surrender, with the option of defending himself against their attack. The Earl declined to defend himself against the four warriors, but as he was being carried off a cry of treason was raised, and the keeper of the inner ward, making a movement to close the gate, was immediately slain by Sir Richard de Denton. At the same moment Lord Lucy’s soldiers seized the gates, and the Earl’s doom was virtually sealed. He was tried before the chief justiciary, Jeffrey de Scroop, and was sentenced to degradation and death; being found guilty of having entered into a treasonable undertaking with King Robert, to whom he guaranteed the crown of Scotland in return for services to be rendered in England—no doubt embracing the destruction of the royal favourites, the Despensers.
It is difficult to believe that Harcla would enter into so dubious an undertaking, so soon after the failure of the powerful Earl of Lancaster. If he had acted as the agent of the Barons, we may believe that some particulars of the confederation would have been elicited during his trial. The statement that he summoned the principal inhabitants of Cumberland to meet him at Carlisle, informed them that he had entered into a treaty with the King of Scotland, and succeeded in obtaining their support, is scarcely to be credited. The Earl is generally regarded as the scapegoat who bore the sins of Byland Battle to the block. Degraded from his nobility, despoiled of the insignia of his knightly merit, the unfortunate man was conducted to the scaffold at Carlisle on the 2nd of March, 1322, and there executed.
Edward was induced by this final disaster to give more serious attention to negotiations for peace. Henry de Sully, the French knight, used his influence to bring the two monarchs to an understanding, and a preliminary truce was agreed to at Thorpe, and finally a truce for thirteen years was ratified by Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, and Edward the II. of England, at Berwick, on the 7th of June, 1323; a merciful peace after such long and bloody strife, and for which the name of Henry de Sully deserves to be held in honourable remembrance.
King Edward directed his first essay in arms against the Scots, in requital of their sanguinary invasions of the North.
The flower of his army was supposed to consist of 2,000 men-at-arms under Lord John of Hainault, and the distinction thus bestowed upon foreign troops aroused the honest wrath of the English. King Edward was accompanied by his mother, Queen Isabella, and while the court was engaged in festivities in the monastery of the Friars Minors, at York, on Trinity Sunday, a dreadful tumult arose in the suburbs—the Hainaulters and the Lincolnshire archers, being quartered near each other, engaged in a dreadful conflict. A great part of the army was drawn into the quarrel; houses were fired, and lighted the scene of murder with a weird and fitful light.
All authority was defied, and exhaustion alone arrested the conflict, which was renewed later on, when the Hainaulters combined, and beat up the quarters of the bowmen of Lincoln and Northampton, slaughtering three hundred of them before the tumult was quelled.
After this the English foot entered into a confederation to cut off the Hainaulters, and the young King had great difficulty in restoring peace and order in his army.
The campaign was extremely unfortunate. Douglas surprised the camp one night, cut down the royal tent, raised his war-cry in the midst of the startled army, and, after nearly capturing the King, effected his escape. The Hainaulters received £14,000 for their assistance.
The Hainaulters were again at York in the following January, on the occasion of the marriage festivities of King Edward and Queen Philippa.
The foreigners distinguished themselves by firing the suburbs of the city, and by insulting the wives, daughters, and female servants of the citizens, who challenged them to mortal combat. The foreigners lost 527 men, slain by the sword or the waters of the Ouse, and slaughtered 242 Englishmen.
Several Parliaments were held at York in Edward’s reign, and when David Bruce invaded Northumbria in 1346, Queen Philippa raised her standard in the city. The Scots kept York under observation for some time, and attacked the suburbs.
The impending battle was fought near Durham on the 17th of October. After a vain attempt to cut off the English archers, the Scots closed in a hand-to-hand conflict, and fought under a deadly hail of arrows. The English steadily won ground, and the Scots began to break before repeated repulses and attacks. The King fought like a lion; his banner disappeared; the Earl of March and the Great Steward retired their divisions, believing the King was slain. He still fought on; eighty loyal gentlemen supporting him. He was surrounded, wounded in the leg, two spears were entangled in his harness, his sword was dashed out of his hand, and he was called upon to surrender. Maddened by mortification and pain, he struck out with his gauntleted fist. John Copeland lost two teeth by the King’s hand, but was gratified by receiving his surrender.
After Edward’s days of warfare and pride came to an end, Richard II. reigned in his stead. Some little ferment occurred in Beverley and Scarborough, but Wat Tyler’s death prevented the movement from spreading.
In 1385 Richard quartered his army at Beverley, during an expedition to Scotland. A Bohemian knight, Sir Meles, was insulted by two of Sir John Holland’s squires, and protected by two archers, retainers of Lord Ralph Stafford. A heated dispute was settled by the death of one of the squires, who was shot by an arrow. The guilty archer appealed to Lord Ralph Stafford for protection, and Lord Ralph at once sought Sir John Holland, who was also out in quest of Sir Meles, vowing to avenge the death of his favourite squire. Knight and lord met in a narrow lane, and, it being dark, did not recognise each other until the challenge passed, when Holland drew his sword, exclaimed, “Stafford, I was inquiring for you; thy servants have murdered my squire, whom I loved so much;” then he smote the young lord, and laid him dead at his feet.
Holland took sanctuary at Beverley, and King Richard confiscated his possessions, and declared that he should be executed if he ventured out of bounds.
Holland was the King’s half-brother by their mother Joan, the widow of the Black Prince, and she besought pardon for the guilty knight, and so bitterly bewailed his peril, that, after three days of continuous weeping, she expired. Holland was then pardoned. He was afterwards raised to the rank of Earl of Huntingdon, and being seized by the vassals of the late Duke of Gloucester, whom he had held in deadly hatred, he was delivered to the headsman’s axe.
For six months, A.D. 1392, the Courts of King’s Bench and Chancery were held at York, Richard being at feud with the citizens of London. He bestowed the title of Lord Mayor upon the mayors of York; presented the city with the first mayor’s mace; and created the first Duke of York in the person of Edward Plantagenet, the fifth son of Edward III. and Queen Philippa.
In Richard’s reign the battle of Otterburn was fought. Earl Douglas won Sir Henry Percy’s lance before the barriers of Newcastle, and vowed that it should float from the loftiest tower of Dalkeith Castle. Percy swore that it should not be carried out of Northumberland, and Douglas promised to plant it before his tent, that Percy might have an opportunity of regaining it
On the following night Percy, with 6,000 horse and 8,000 foot, furiously attacked the Scots, who were encamped at Otterburn. Douglas, by a skilful movement, took the English in flank, and a hot encounter ensued, which was interrupted as a dark cloud swept before the moon. It passed, and the battle was resumed, as the scene was flooded with light. Douglas smote his way through the press, wielding his axe in both hands. Three spears smote him, and man and horse went down. He was found dying, defended by his chaplain, William Lundie, who bestrode him, curtail-axe in hand. Douglas thanked God that few of his ancestors had died in bed or chamber. He reminded his friends of the old prophecy that a dead Douglas should win a field; and commanded them to raise his fallen banner and his war-cry, but to tell none that he lay dying there. His orders were followed, and the English were defeated.
The De la Poles, merchants of Hull, rose to power during the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II. Edward received princely assistance from the brothers during his French wars, and in 1327 bestowed the office of Chief Butler upon Richard. William he created a Knight-Banneret. Sir Michael was appointed Admiral of the King’s fleet in the North, and was raised to the peerage as Earl of Suffolk. In 1389 he died at Paris, a broken-hearted exile. His son and successor followed Henry V. to France, and died, of a malignant disease, before the walls of Harfleur. Michael, his eldest son, took up his honours, but perished on the field of Agincourt, a few weeks later. William, the fourth earl, famous as a statesman and warrior, was foully slain in the roads of Dover, his head being struck off against the side of the long-boat of the ship Nicholas. His son, created Duke of Suffolk in 1462, married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Duke of York. Their eldest son, John, Earl of Lincoln, was declared heir to the crown by Richard III. He fell at the battle of Stoke, June 16th, 1487. The fifth Earl of Suffolk was brought to the block in 1513; and the exile, Richard, fought beneath the banner of King Francis, and was slain amid the rout at Pavia in 1525, when King Francis was taken prisoner, after a desperate defence.
In “The Story of the De la Poles,” J. Travis-Cook, F.H.R.S., furnishes the student with a very interesting account of this talented but unfortunate family.
Edward Baliol’s expedition against Scotland, fruitful of so much suffering and useless bloodshed, sailed from Ravenser in 1332. The crown that he won was as suddenly lost as acquired.
In 1387 the Barons of England deprived King Richard of the reins of government, and impeached his friends, the Archbishop of York, the Duke of Ireland, the Earl of Suffolk, Sir Robert Tresilian, and Sir Nicholas Brember. Brember and Tresilian were publicly executed, the others secured their safety by flight.
Years passed, and Richard recovered his authority, when he punished the lords appellant, sparing only his cousin Hereford and the Duke of Norfolk. Some conversation appears to have passed between these nobles, and Hereford accused Norfolk of having expressed his suspicion that Richard would yet revenge himself upon them for their past offence, and especially for the affair of “Radcot Bridge,” when the Duke of Ireland’s forces were dispersed.
Norfolk denied the charge, and the King permitted the quarrel to be decided by wager of battle. The 29th of April, 1398, was appointed for the trial; the place, Coventry. The noblemen had put spurs to their horses, when Richard, under the advice of his council, stopped the combat, and banished the offenders—as guilty of treason. Norfolk’s sentence was for life; Hereford’s for ten years.
The Londoners were incensed at losing their favourite, Hereford, and when his father, the aged John of Gaunt, died on the Christmas following his son’s banishment, and Richard seized his estates, the general indignation was extreme; for the King had granted legal instruments to both the exiles, securing to them any inheritance which might fall to them.
In face of the gathering storm Richard sailed for Ireland. On the 4th July, 1399, three small ships entered the Humber, and Hereford, attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Fitz-Alan, son of the late Earl of Arundel, a few servitors, and fifteen men-at-arms, landed at Ravenser Spurn.
Shut out of Hull, he was met at Doncaster by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, who espoused his cause, affecting to believe his assertion that he had returned to claim the estates of his father.
King Richard threw himself into Conway Castle, and Northumberland induced him to leave his refuge, to make terms with Hereford. Drawn into an ambush, Richard was delivered into his cousin’s hands. Northumberland had sworn on the sacramental elements to keep faith with the King, and Richard thus reproached him, on the moment of his seizure, “May the God on whom you laid your hand reward you and your accomplices at the last day.”
On the 1st of October, the day following his coronation, Henry IV. signed a licence for Matthew Danthorpe, a hermit, who had welcomed him at Ravenser Spurn, granting him permission to erect a hermitage and chapel on that desolate place.
Richard was imprisoned, and expired in a dungeon of Pontefract Castle, but whether by stroke of Sir Piers Exton’s axe, or broken down by famine, matters not now.
Northumberland was honoured by the dignity of Constable of England, and at the coronation bore a naked sword on the King’s right hand. He was further guerdoned by a grant of the Isle of Man.
On the 7th of May, 1402, the Percies defeated Earl Douglas at the battle of Homildon, inflicting a heavy loss upon the Scots, and capturing Douglas; Murdoch, son of the Duke of Albany, and other captains to the total sum of eighty.
King Henry forbade the ransoming of the prisoners, an interference which aroused the bitter wrath of the Percies. As though in mockery of their pride, he bestowed upon them the Scottish estates of the Douglas, and ordered them to abstain from ransoming Sir Edward Mortimer, Hotspur’s brother-in-law, who had fallen into the hands of Owen Glendower, the Welsh patriot.
These impositions of the royal commands resulted in the revolt of the Percies. The Scotch prisoners were released, and assisted the Percies in the field. The captive Mortimer married Glendower’s daughter, and drew that chieftain into the conspiracy. The lineal heir to the throne was Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March. Him Northumberland proposed to raise to the throne, virtually partitioning the kingdom between the Percies, Mortimers, and Glendower.
The revolt came to the issue of battle at Shrewsbury, on the 21st July, 1403, when Percy and Douglas penetrated the centre of the royal army, and Hotspur, casting up the ventaille of his helmet, was shot in the brain by an arrow, and fell in the press. The victorious advance was turned into a rout. Of Prince Henry, it is written: “The prince that daie holpe his father like a lustie young gentleman.”
Northumberland was marching to join his sons, but retired into Warkworth Castle on receiving the news of their defeat. The King, either from fear or policy, condoned his part in the revolt.
When the Archbishop of York, Richard Scrope, took up arms in 1405, the Earl was implicated in his revolt. Sir John Falconberg had raised the banner of revolt in Cleveland, but Prince John and the Earl of Westmoreland had defeated the rebels. The Archbishop’s army was so strong, for it had been augmented by Lord Bardolph and Thomas, Lord Mowbray, that the royal captains resorted to treaty, and induced the Archbishop to disband his army. No sooner was this done than the leaders of the revolt were arrested.
The Archbishop of York, Lord Mowbray, Sir John Lamplugh, Sir Robert Plumpton, and several other unfortunates, were put upon their trial, and condemned to death. On the 8th June the Archbishop of York was executed at his palace of Bishopthorpe, and his head, with that of Mowbray, was piked and exposed on York walls.
The city of York was heavily fined, and the King proceeded to Durham, where he executed Lords Hastings and Fauconbridge, and Sir John Griffith.
Northumberland, “with three hundred horse, got him to Berwike,” but on the King’s advance passed into Scotland, accompanied by Lord Bardolph.
After brief exile, the end came. “The earle of Northumberland, and the lord Bardolfe, after they had been in Wales, in France, and Flanders to purchase aid against King Henrie, were returned backe into Scotland, and had remained there now for the space of a whole yeare: and as their evill fortune would, while the King held a councill of the nobilitie at London, the saide earle of Northumberland and lord Bardolfe, in a dismall houre, with a great power of Scots returned into England, recovering diverse of the earle’s castels and seigneories, for the people in great numbers resorted unto them. Hereupon encouraged with hope of good successe, they entered into Yorkshire, and there began to distroie the countrie.”
The Sheriff of Yorkshire, Sir Thomas Rokeby, is stated to have lured the old warrior to his doom. Sir Nicholas Tempest reinforced him at Knaresborough, and the little army crossed the Wharfe at Wetherby. They had achieved a succession of trifling successes, but now Sir Thomas Rokeby interposed his forces, cut off their retreat, and compelled them to give battle, on the 28th February, 1408, on Bramham Moor, near Hazlewood.
They were brave men who thus stood opposed. Northumberland’s troops were incited by their dangerous position, by the hope of recovering their lost possessions, and by their hatred of the King. On the other hand, the royalists were anxious to gain the honours and rewards which princes bestow.
The Sheriff was not slack to close, but advanced his standard of St. George, and sounded the charge, as Northumberland bore down upon him with his lances, doing battle once more beneath his banner, that displayed the proud emblazonments of the house of Percy.
The onset was fierce and bloody. Lances shivered to splinters; men went down in their blood, wounded and dying; riderless horses burst from the press, and wildly galloped over the moor. Lances were cast aside, as knights and men-at-arms fell-to with sword, and mace, and axe, testing mail, smashing shield and casque, and finding and bestowing wounds and death despite of guarding weapons and tempered plate-mail.
The archers were fiercely at work, pouring their long shafts upon the rear ranks; the footmen face to face with the wild play of deadly bill and thrust of pike. Morions were cleft, corsets pierced, and men fell thick and fast. The battle was hotly maintained, but for a short time, the insurgents being sorely over-matched. Northumberland fell—never to rise again until rough hands stripped off his mail, and held him for the butcher’s work of headsman’s axe and knife. There ended Lord Bardolph’s many troubles, as he fell, a sorely wounded and dying man, into the Sheriff’s hands.
The leaders fallen, no further object for contention remained to the rebels, and the defeat was complete and irretrievable. The tragedy of the battlefield had to be concluded by the rush of the pursuers, eager to maim and slay; and by the useless rally of defeated men, turning fiercely at bay, to claim blood for blood and life for life; and, alas! by the seizure of flying men, doomed to rope and axe in reguerdon of their last act of vassalage to the devoted house of Northumberland.
The Earl’s head, “full of silver horie hairs, being put upon a stake, was openly carried through London, and set upon the bridge of the same citie: in like manner was the lord Bardolfe’s. The bishop of Bangor was taken and pardoned by the King, for that when he was apprehended, he had no armour on his backe. The King, to purge the North parts of all rebellion, and to take order for the punishment of those that were accused to have succoured and assisted the Earl of Northumberland, went to Yorke, where, when many were condemned, and diverse put to great fines, and the countrie brought to quietnesse, he caused the abbot of Hailes to be hanged, who had been in armour against him with the foresaid earle.”
So, after his treacheries, his aspiring ambitions, the once puissant Earl of Northumberland was brought as low as Richard of Bordeaux when he lay upon his bier at St. Paul’s, his set and rigid face, bared from eyebrows to chin, for the inspection of the Londoners, and, in its surrounding swathing of grave-clothes, in its dreadful emaciation, eloquent of the unrecorded tragedy of secret murder.
A grant of the manor of Spofforth, a former possession of the slain Earl, rewarded the loyalty of Sir Thomas Rokeby.
In the reign of Henry V., an attempt was again made to restore the lineal heir to the throne, an augury of the War of the Roses commenced in his son’s reign. The Earl of Marche, the object of the conspiracy, himself betrayed it to the King. Henry, whose assassination had been planned, took immediate revenge upon the principal offenders, Richard, Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop of Masham, and Sir Thomas Grey. They were executed at Southampton, on the 13th of August, 1415, at the moment when the royal fleet was sailing from the harbour to add the terrors of invasion to unhappy France, then suffering from internecine strife.
There is an old tradition that on the day of Agincourt the shrine of St. John of Beverley exuded blood, and when King Henry was in Yorkshire he naturally paid his devotions at the shrine. He was accompanied by his Queen; and it was at this time that he received the sad news of the death of his brother Clarence at Beaujé. The Duke was dashing over the narrow bridge when the charging Scots burst upon him; Sir John Carmichael shivered his lance upon the Duke’s corset, Sir John Swinton smote him in the face, and, as he dropped from the saddle, the Earl of Buchan, with one blow of a mace, or “steel hammer,” dashed out his brains.
Although Henry VI. was beloved by his subjects, he was subjected to the vicissitudes of the Wars of the Roses. His Queen, Margaret of Anjou, was unpopular with the people, her favourite minister, William De la Pole, was hated of the nobles, and nobles and commons were alike exasperated by the loss of the French possessions.
Richard, Duke of York, a brave soldier, and popular with the people, was the lineal heir to the throne, and he was determined to assert his claim.
The first battle was fought at St. Albans, on the 23rd May, 1455. The royalists maintained the town, being commanded by Lord Clifford, the Dukes of Buckingham and Somerset, and the Earls of Northumberland and Stafford. York fiercely attacked, being supported by Norfolk, Salisbury and Warwick. The Northern archers poured their shafts into the town, and inflicted great slaughter, and the Earl of Warwick, “seizing his opportunity, moved to the garden side of the town, and attacking it at the weakest side, forced the barriers.” A desperate conflict ensued, Somerset, Northumberland, and Clifford were slain, and King Henry, Stafford, Buckingham, and Dudley were wounded by arrows. Abbot Wethemstede states that he saw, “here one lying with his brains dashed out, here another without his arm; some with arrows sticking in their throats, others pierced in their chests.”
The King was defeated and captured, and the Yorkists divided the government. The Duke was created Constable of the Kingdom, Salisbury Lord Chancellor, and Warwick governor of Calais.
Each party watched the other, and the pious King attempted to reconcile the leaders in 1458, when they went in solemn procession to St. Paul’s, the Duke of York leading the Queen, and the opposing barons being paired accordingly.
A few weeks later, and Warwick fled into Yorkshire, the two factions being put into opposition by a brawl between the servants of Warwick and Queen Margaret.
In September, 1459, the Yorkists were again in arms, and Salisbury, feigning to fly before Lord Audley and the royalists, turned upon them as they were crossing a brook on Bloreheath, and bore them down with lance and bill. The conflict was somewhat desultory, and lasted five hours, the victory remaining with the Yorkists. Lord Audley was slain, and with him 2,400 men, including the good knights Thomas Dutton, John Dunne, Hugh Venables, Richard Molineaux, and John Leigh.
Henry and York met at Ludlow, when Sir Andrew Trollope carried his command over to the King, and the Yorkists, panic-stricken by this defection, dispersed.
The Duchess of York, and two of her sons, fell into Henry’s hands, and was sent to her sister, Anne, Duchess of Buckingham. At Coventry, November 20th, Parliament attainted and confiscated the estates of “the duke of York, the earl of March, the duke of Rutland, the earl of Warwick, the earl of Salisbury, the lord Powis, the lord Clinton, the countess of Salisbury, sir Thomas Neville, sir John Neville, sir Thomas Harrington, sir Thomas Parr, sir John Conyers, sir John Wenlock, sir William Oldhall, Edward Bourchier, sq., and his brother, Thomas Vaughan, Thomas Colt, Thomas Clay, John Dinham, Thomas Moring, John Otter, Master Richard Fisher, Hastings, and others.” On the submission of Lord Powis he received the King’s grace, but lost his goods.
Warwick, March, and Salisbury fled to Calais, and Somerset, the newly-appointed governor, proceeded to attempt the reduction of the fortress; but, by a clever counter-stroke, Warwick captured the fleet, Lord Rivers and his son being surprised before they could leave their bed. Rivers “was brought to Calais, and before the lords, with eight-score torches, and there my lord Salisbury rated him, calling him ‘knave’s son, that he should be so rude to call him and these other lords traitors; for they should be found the King’s true liege-men, when he would be found a traitor.’ And my lord Warwick rated him, and said, ‘that his father was but a squire, and brought up with King Henry V., and since made himself by marriage, and also made a lord; and that it was not his part to hold such a language to lords, being of the king’s blood.’ And my lord March rated him likewise. And Sir Anthony was rated for his language of all the three lords in likewise.” A notable scene, and picturesque: making easy the mental transition to a later period, when these fierce lords called for block and headsmen, and their prisoners made short shrift. Indeed the period was very near. Osbert Mountford, despatched to reinforce Somerset, was captured at Sandwich, carried to Calais, and beheaded on the 25th June, 1460.
On the 5th June Salisbury and Warwick landed at Sandwich, and reached London with 25,000 men arrayed under their banners. Margaret strove to shut them out of the city, but in vain; and Lord Scales discharged the Tower guns against them.
On the 19th of July the two armies engaged at Northampton. Margaret, with a strong escort, watched the conflict with the keenest anxiety. The heavy rains rendered the King’s artillery inoperative, yet, after five hours of sanguinary fighting, the battle was decided by the treachery of Lord Grey, of Ruthin, who carried his command over to the Yorkists.
King Henry was captured, and carried, in honourable captivity, to London. Margaret fled to Scotland, accompanied by Somerset and the young Prince of Wales.
Richard of York entered London, appeared before the peers, and advanced to the throne, placing his hand upon the canopy. This mute claim was received in silence, that was broken by the Archbishop of Canterbury, as he enquired whether the Duke would not wait upon the King. York haughtily replied, “I know of none in this realm than ought not rather to wait upon me,” and turning his back upon the peers, retired.
It was admitted by the lords that Richard was the lineal heir to the throne, but Parliament had elected Henry IV. to the crown, Henry V. had succeeded, and his son, the present King, had been accepted by the lords and commons, and, but for the ambition of York, his title would have remained unquestioned. The peers passed over the claims of the young Prince of Wales, and decided that the King should retain the crown, but that, on his death, York and his heirs should inherit it.
Margaret was immediately summoned to London, and prepared for the journey by raising her standard. Before she appeared upon the scene the battle of Sandal was fought.
The Yorkists now freely dipped their hands in blood. Lords Hungerford and Scales were allowed to pass out of the Tower free men, but the soldiers and officers had “to abide by the law.” Lord Scales was murdered within the week by mariners serving Warwick and March. He was seen “lying naked in the cemetery of the church of St. Mary Overy, in Southwark. He had lain naked, being stripped of his clothes, for several hours on the ground, but afterwards on the same day he was honourably interred by the earls of March, Warwick, and others.” In the same month, July, Sir Thomas Blount, of Kent, with five others of the household of the Duke of Exeter, were accused before “the Earl of Warwick and the other justiciaries of the King, of illegally holding the Tower,” and “were drawn to Tyburn and beheaded, and shortly afterwards John Archer, who was in the councils of the duke of Exeter, shared the same fate.”
Duke Richard was declared heir-apparent on the 9th of November, with the present title of Lord Protector, and an allowance of £10,000 to maintain the dignity. The Yorkshire royalists were in arms, and “had destroyed the retainers and tenants of the Duke of York and Earl of Salisbury.” Salisbury and York immediately marched for the North.
Their vanguard struck Somerset’s army at Worksop, and was cut off. On the 21st December York occupied his Castle of Sandal. His army consisted of 6,000 men, too few to cope with the enemy lying at Pontefract under Somerset and Northumberland. The Duke might have maintained the defensive until the Earl of March came up from the Welsh borders, but on the 30th of December he sallied out to rescue a foraging party from the Lancastrians. With so numerous an army to feed, and in a position so remote from succour, Richard might reasonably risk something to protect his foragers.
Vainly Sir David Hall argued against so perilous an adventure. The drawbridge was lowered, and York’s banner was given to the wintry wind. It bore for device a Falcon volant, argent, with a fetter-lock, or. The bird was depicted in the effort of opening the lock, typical of the crown.
Behind the falcon-banner marched 4,000 veterans. With the Duke there rode to his last battle, Salisbury and the good knights, Thomas Neville, David Hall, John Parr, John and Hugh Mortimer, Walter Limbrike, John Gedding, Eustace Wentworth, Guy Harrington, and other notable men-at-arms.
Raising the war-cry of York, and sounding trumpets, they charged through the drifting snow-flakes, and awoke the fury of the battle. The Duke was outnumbered and surrounded, but fought stubbornly, being nobly seconded by his heroic army. Lord Clifford hotly attacked him, exerting every effort to cut off his retreat. Duke Richard valiantly attempted to cut his way through and retire into Sandal, but Clifford as sternly drew around him the iron bonds of war, prevented all retreat, and held him to the trial. The battle was extremely sanguinary, and the Lancastrians fought as though they were the red-handed arbiters of the whole dispute, and, like avenging angels, must wash out the treason of York in streams of blood. As Mountford fought at Evesham so fought the Lord Protector that day—exacting the heaviest price for his doomed life. Weapons whirled before his face, rang on his mail, and probed the jointed armour with point and edge until the good steel harness was dinted and stained with gore. Many warriors perished around him, and he, too, fell, sorely stricken, and died in his blood, amid the trampling of iron-clad feet, and the clash of crossing swords, as friends and foes fought hand-to-hand above his body. The crisis came. The falcon-banner fell, and the pursuing swords maimed and slew the fugitives, burdening the old year with the sorrows of the widow and the orphan. In the triumphant van, in the moment of victory, Richard Hanson, Mayor of Hull, laid down his life for Queen Margaret and her fair son. Salisbury won his way through the press, to fall by headsman’s axe. Rutland broke away from the slaughter, reached Wakefield Bridge, to perish by the steel of Clifford, happy in his early death that saved him from the infamy of bloody years that tarnished the fame of his brothers, March, Clarence, and Gloucester.
Some chroniclers represent the Queen as commanding her army in person, and as luring the Duke to meet her in open field. Dissuaded from the encounter by his friends, he declared that: “All men would cry wonder, and report dishonour, that a woman had made a dastard of me, whom no man could even to this day report as a coward! And surely my mind is rather to die with honour than to live with shame! Advance my banners in the name of God and of St. George.” This is not the York of history.
Rutland is represented as a boy, aged twelve years, a spectator, not a combatant, and accompanied by his tutor, Aspall. Clifford overtook him, and demanded his name. “The young gentleman dismayed, had not a word to speak, but kneeled on his knees, craving mercy and desiring grace, both with holding up his hands and making a dolorous countenance—for his speech was gone for fear.” “Save him,” cried Aspall, “he is a prince’s son, and peradventure may do you good hereafter.” Said Clifford, “By God’s blood thy father slew mine, and so will I thee and all thy kin,” and so smote him to the heart with his dagger, and bade the chaplain, “Go, bear him to his mother, and tell her what thou hast seen and heard.” Doubtless Clifford was as red-handed a sinner as any of the barons, but probably no worse. He is said to have cut off the Duke’s head, crowned it with paper, and carried it upon a pole to the Queen, exclaiming, “Madam, your war is done: here I bring your King’s ransom.”
Such are some popular errors, perpetuated by historians who have followed the romantic versions of Grafton and Hall. Margaret did not lure York to his fate, for she was in Scotland when the battle was fought, and he did not sally out to fight a battle, but to rescue his foragers. The execution of Yorkist prisoners was simply a retaliation for the treason and blood-guiltiness of the Yorkists, and was carried out without the Queen’s knowledge. Clifford may have vowed to avenge his father’s death upon the house of York, and Rutland may have fallen to his sword: but the duke was in his eighteenth year, and no doubt an approved man-at-arms. As recorded, he had been attainted of treason a few months prior to his death. We may safely conclude that there were no schoolboys on Wakefield-Green on the 30th of December, 1460, and the only tutors there were tutors in arms.
William of Wyrcester’s account of the battle may be considered the most probable, and best authenticated:—“The followers of the Duke of York, having gone out to forage for provisions on the 29th of December, a dreadful battle was fought at Wakefield between the Duke of Somerset, the Earl of Northumberland and Lord Neville, and the adverse party, when the Duke of York, Thomas Neville, son of the Earl of Salisbury, Thomas Harrington, Thomas Parr, Edward Bourchier, James Pykering, and Henry Rathforde, with many other knights and squires, and soldiers to the amount of two thousand, were slain in the field. After the battle, Lord Clifford slew the young Earl of Rutland, the son of the Duke of York, as he was fleeing across the bridge at Wakefield; and in the same night the Earl of Salisbury was captured by a follower of Sir And. Trollope, and on the morrow beheaded by the Bastard of Exeter at Pontefract, where at the same time the dead bodies of York, Rutland, and others of note who fell in the battle, were decapitated, and their heads affixed in various parts of York, whilst a paper crown was placed in derision on the head of the Duke of York.” Thus perished Duke Richard in his fiftieth year.
Edward, Earl of March, Richard’s eldest son, was at Gloucester when the news reached him of the disaster before Sandal Castle. He promptly advanced his army to intercept the Lancastrians, and dispute their advance upon the capital.
Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, harassed his rear with a tumultuary army of Welsh and Irish troops. Marching to engage an army, and alarmed by a powerful enemy in the rear, was too critical a position for Edward not to appreciate its danger. On the 2nd of February, 1461, he turned furiously upon the enemy, at Mortimer’s Cross, Herefordshire, and defeated Pembroke with a loss of 3,800 men.
At Hereford Edward halted, and handed over to the headsman Owen Tudor, Sir John Throckmorton, and eight of the Lancastrian captains—the captives of his sword and lance at Mortimer’s Cross.
London threw open its gates to the victor on the 4th of March, and he was proclaimed King, under the title of Edward IV.
Margaret of Anjou had the honour of defeating the famous Warwick. Thus Wyrcester:—“After the battle of Wakefield Queen Margaret came out of Scotland to York, where it was decided by the Council of the Lords to proceed to London and to liberate King Henry out of the hands of his enemies by force of arms. Shortly after the Feast of the Purification, the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Dukes of Exeter and Somerset, the Earls of Northumberland, Devonshire, and Shrewsbury, the Lords Roos, Grey of Codnor, Fitzhugh, Graystock, Welles and Willoughby, and many others, amounting in all to 24,000 men, advanced upon St. Albans, and at Dunstable destroyed Sir Edward Poyning, and 200 foot.”
Margaret’s tumultuary army consisted of English, Irish, Welsh, and Scotch troops, and their excesses tended to the ruin of the Lancastrian cause.
On the 17th of February the second battle of St. Albans was fought. At first the Lancastrians fell back before Warwick’s archers, but, renewing the attack, they fought their way to St. Peter’s Street, driving the enemy before them. On reaching the heath at the north end of the town, the Yorkists made a stand, and, after a furious struggle, were put to the rout. Warwick lost Sir John Grey of Groby, and 2,300 men. King Henry was rescued from the hands of Warwick, but Margaret ungenerously executed his warders, Lord Bonville, and the veteran Sir Thomas Kyriel, although the King had pledged his word for their safety.
Margaret reached Barnet, but London feared her and her rude army. When she sent for “victuals and Lenten stuff,” the mayor and sheriffs obeyed her orders, but the commons stopped the carts at Cripplegate. March and Warwick were drawing near, London would not admit her army, and Margaret “fled northward, as fast as she might, towards York.”
Henry was deposed by the Yorkists, and the Earl of March declared King in his stead. Edward IV. carried on the war with vigour. Norfolk visited his estates to raise troops; Warwick marched out with the vanguard, the infantry followed, and lastly, on the 12th of March, Edward issued out of Bishopgate with the rear-guard.
On the 28th of March Lord Fitzwalter secured Ferrybridge, but at daybreak the Lancastrians fell on: Fitzwalter was slain as he issued from his tent, in his night gear, to quell, as he thought, a quarrel of his rude soldiery. Clifford pressed the fugitives furiously, and they carried a panic into the camp of Edward, that was only arrested when Warwick slew his horse, swearing upon the cross-hilt of his sword, that, “Who would might flee; but he would tarry with all who were prepared to stand and fight the battle out.”
The troops recovered courage, and Edward proclaimed freedom to depart for all who desired to quit before the battle; threatening severe punishments to any who, remaining, manifested fear in the presence of the enemy. Such cowards were to be slain by their companions. No man accepted the permission to retire.
Lord Fauconbridge then fell upon Clifford, defeated him, and recovered the post. During the retreat Clifford paused, to remove his gorget, and was struck on the throat, and slain, by a headless arrow.
Edward crossed the river, and confronted the enemy on Towton field. The Lancastrians were formed on an elevated ridge between Towton and Saxton, and presenting a front some two miles in extent. The Yorkists occupied a neighbouring ridge. A broad battle-space lay between the two armies.
The villagers were at mass in Saxton Church when “the celebration with palms and spears began,” for it was Palm Sunday. The heavy clouds hung low in the sombre sky, and as the wind arose the snow began to fall heavily, and was driven full into the faces of the Lancastrians.
It was nine o’clock when, from the heavy masses of Edward’s army, looming portentiously through the thickened air, the flight arrows descended upon the Lancastrians, and mingled with the wind-driven snow. In an instant the snow was red with blood, and dead and wounded men encumbered the ground.
Falconberg having advanced his archers, and struck the first blow, retired them, drawing the Lancastrian fire. The Queen’s archers shot fierce and fast, but uselessly exhausted their quivers, when the Yorkists took a terrible revenge, pouring a deadly sleet of arrows upon their enemies. It is said that they drew the Lancastrian arrows from the soil, leaving a few to impede the Queen’s advance.
Somerset determined to close, and ordered a general advance. Knights dashed from point to point along the lines; Northumberland and Trollope closed their decimated ranks, and moved to the attack. Edward’s army had suffered little, and was kept well in hand. It advanced steadily to meet the tide of war that surged madly forward through the mirk air and falling snow.
King Edward commanded the centre: the lion of England crested his helmet, he carried a long lance, with a peculiar vamplate, and the crimson velvet housings of his steed were powdered with suns and white roses. When the armies joined battle, he dismounted, and fought on foot. Warwick commanded the right wing, Lord Falconberg the left, and Sir John Denman and Sir John Venloe were in charge of the rear-guard
“As if battle were the gate of Paradise, and the future an incomprehensible dream, they raised against each other a tumultuous shout of execration and defiance.” The front ranks struck, with shivering of knightly lances on the wings, and with deadly play of mauls, of bills and pikes in the van. The slaughter was dreadful: the moans of the dying were drowned in the clashing of steel, fierce war-cries, and the rush of stormy winds. Savagely assailed, and beaten by the pitiless, incessant snow, the Lancastrians valiantly maintained their ground, although their original superiority in numbers was more than balanced by their first losses and their exposed position. The front ranks fought desperately, for Edward of York had issued orders that no quarter should be extended to the vanquished. The archers of York poured their last arrows into the rear of the Queen’s army.
Norfolk should have commanded the van, but, seized with a sudden sickness, he had remained at Pontefract with the rear-guard. His orders were to bring forward his command, with any reinforcements that might reach him. Edward anxiously awaited his arrival. The battle raged for hours; the imprisoned peasantry in Saxton Church fearfully awaited the end; and Edward was scarcely less anxious, for the murderous butchery of the hand-to-hand fight favoured neither army. Norfolk was steadily marching through the wintery weather with his hardy soldiers, and messenger after messenger reached him requesting him to hurry up the reserves.
The form of battle was lost, as the two hosts were locked in the sanguinary struggle. The dark and stormy day was glooming to a wild and early night, when a louder tumult of battle rose on the Lancastrian left flank at North Acres. Norfolk was on the field, and had struck his enemy. The Lancastrians could not bear up under the augmented storm, and the retreat commenced. In the confusion the retiring wings struck each other, and the difficulties of the position were increased. Edward urged his infuriated soldiery to unsparing vengeance, and the Lancastrians turned again and again upon their pursuers. Ere they reached the river Cock—a tributary of the Wharfe—the Lancastrian army had merged into a dense and tumultuary crowd of fugitives, upon whose flank and rear the Yorkists hung with the blood-thirsty fury of barbarians. On reaching the stream the massacre became frightful, and the waters were tinged with gore and darkened with the slain, and are stated to have communicated their dreadful burthen and sanguinary stains to the Wharfe. For three days the Lancastrians were hunted out and butchered by the victors.
On the gloomy night of that fatal 29th of March, 1461, a stormy rout of knights and men-at-arms urged their jaded war-horses through the narrow streets of York, calling loudly upon the King and Queen to mount in hot haste and ride for their lives. That night the King and Queen, with the young prince, rode through Bootham, through the gloom of Galtres forest, fugitives, en route for Scotland.
The total loss was computed at 40,000 souls, the Lancastrians being heavily in excess. The death-roll contains the names of the Earls of Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Shrewsbury; of Lords Dacres and Wells, and Sir Andrew Trollope.
At York Edward executed the Earls of Devonshire and Ormond, Sir Baldwin Fulford, Sir William Talboys, and Sir William Hill. The Earl of Wiltshire suffered at Newcastle on the 1st of May. The heads of York and Salisbury were replaced by those of Devonshire and Hill.
According to tradition, “The Lord Dacres was slain in Nor-acres.” Having removed his gorget he was shot in the throat by the cross-bow bolt of a lad lurking behind a burtree, or elder-bush.
The blood and snow froze on the field of Towton, and when the thaw came the furrows overflowed with mingling blood and water. The slain were buried in vast pits; and there is a strange legendary belief that the roses which so persistently flourish upon the field, and the petals of which are pure white, slightly flushed with red, sprang from the commingling blood of the partisans of the red and white roses.
Edward was duly crowned, but his throne was threatened by the plots of the Lancastrians, although he kept the headsman’s axe steadily at work. In 1462 the Scots caused some trouble in the North; and, towards the close of the year, Margaret appeared in arms, but precipitately retired without being able to make head against the King.
In 1464 Margaret again appeared in the North, when the gallant Sir Ralph Percy was slain on Hedgeley Moor, fighting for the red rose. The battle of Hexham followed a rout of the Lancastrians, whose leaders, Somerset, Ross, and Hungerford, were executed.
Sir Ralph Grey having betrayed Bamborough Castle to the Queen, and then defended it against Edward, was executed at Doncaster.
Margaret escaped, but Henry ultimately fell into Edward’s hands, and was committed to the Tower.
Edward IV. disgusted the Earl of Warwick by espousing Elizabeth, widow of Sir John Grey, of Groby, and the Yorkshire rising, known as the Thrave of St. Leonard, followed. The defeat and death of the royal captains, the Earls of Devon and Pembroke, was succeeded by Edward’s confinement in Middleham Castle, and his escape to the Continent, when Warwick restored King Henry to the throne. On the 14th March, 1471, Edward landed at Ravenser Spurn and defeated Warwick at the battle of Barnet, when the king-maker and his brother Montacute were slain. On the day of Barnet, Queen Margaret, her son and his bride, landed at Weymouth, and the battle of Tewkesbury was fought on the 4th May, when Prince Edward was slain, and Queen Margaret captured. Edward was now firmly fixed upon the throne, and in 1478 he requited the numerous treacheries of his brother Clarence by procuring his condemnation on a charge of high treason. Clarence perished in the Tower, either being drowned in a butt of wine, or permitted to drink himself to death. On the 9th of April, 1483, Edward IV. departed this life, leaving two sons, Edward and Richard. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, promptly appeared upon the scene, seized Lord Rivers, the Queen’s brother, and Lord Grey, her son, and sent them to Pontefract, where they were executed. Procuring possession of the persons of his nephews, he caused them to be murdered, and usurped the throne. Nemesis followed him; he lost his only son, and was defeated and slain at Bosworth Field by Henry Tudor, who espoused Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV., and was crowned under the title of Henry VII. Richard had proclaimed John De-la-Pole, Earl of Lincoln, heir presumptive to the throne, but this unfortunate nobleman was slain at the Battle of Stoke, ostensibly fighting in the cause of the Pretender, Lambert Simnel. The wars of the Roses were now ended, and Henry concluded the series of diabolical tragedies by obtaining the condemnation and execution of the Earl of Warwick, Clarence’s son, and the lineal heir to the throne. He was judicially murdered on the 24th November, 1499.
Henry’s love of gold led to a revolt in Yorkshire, A.D. 1489, when the people, furious against the imposition of a tax, murdered the Earl of Northumberland, and took up arms; to be defeated and severely punished.
Henry VIII. succeeded to the throne, and by the suppression of the monasteries roused the indignation of the Yorkshire people, who made an armed remonstrance, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. But for the moderation of the people, Henry’s throne might have been overturned, and His Majesty requited their loyalty by wholesale executions, and by hanging Sir Robert Constable over the Beverley gate at Hull, and executing Robert Aske at York. Another of the leaders, Lord Darcy, was executed on Tower Hill.
The reign of Edward VI. witnessed a tumultuary outbreak at Seamer, consequent upon changes that had been made in the forms of religious worship. It was promptly put down by troops from York, and the ringleaders were executed.
During the reign of Queen Mary there was some little excitement in Yorkshire, consequent upon Sir Thomas Wyat’s insurrection, when Thomas, son of Lord Stafford, seized Scarborough Castle, and paid with his life for the daring exploit.
The nation was sorely disturbed by the complications resulting from the lust and religion of Henry VIII., when Elizabeth ascended the throne, and Her Majesty’s interference with the affairs of Scotland, and her imprisonment of Mary Stuart, added to the difficulties of the position.
The Northern Rising, headed by Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and Charles Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, occurred in November, 1569, and was promptly suppressed, and followed by the customary severities.
Fortunately royal lines die out, and with Elizabeth the Tudors ceased; but only to entail upon the nation the wars and revolutions resulting from the follies of the Stuarts.
When Charles I. visited Hull in 1639, he was most loyally received by the people; but his second visit, on the 23rd of April, 1642, ended in a bitter disappointment, and brought on the resort to arms. His power had waned, the Star Chamber was a tyranny of the past; Stafford was surrendered to the block, and Laud was in prison.
Before Charles reached the town, he was requested to defer his visit, and on appearing before the Beverley gate, he found it closed, the drawbridge raised, shotted cannon frowning upon him, pikemen and musketeers holding the ramparts.
Sir John Hotham dare not for his life admit the King. Vain the orders, the threats, the persuasions of Charles; he was compelled to retire, after commanding the garrison to hurl the traitor over the walls. Sir John was deeply distressed; he had heard himself proclaimed a traitor by the royal heralds, who sounded trumpets before the walls.
On the 3rd of June, the nobility and gentry of Yorkshire met the King on Heworth Moor, and from that day the nation was virtually in arms.
On the 2nd of July, the Royalists occupied Hull Bridge, and the “Providence” entered the Humber with military stores for the King. Hotham attempted to capture the stores, but his troops were driven back, and the munitions of war were carted to York, being escorted by a large force of the King’s friends.
Shortly after Hull was besieged, and the banks of the river being cut, the country around was submerged. Batteries were erected and the town cannonaded, but with little effect. As the month waned, sorties were organised, and the royal lines penetrated. One day the foot were scattered and the royal cavalry had to retire to Beverley. Reinforcements from London encouraged Sir John Meldrum, who assisted in the defence, in repeating the sorties. On one occasion the Earl of Newport was hoisted out of his saddle by a cannon ball, and hurled into a ditch. He was with difficulty rescued, being reduced to a state of insensibility. The siege was raised.
At Nottingham, on the 25th of August, Charles raised his standard. It was blood-red, bore the royal arms, quartered, with a hand pointing to the endangered crown, and the motto, “Give to Cæsar his due.” It was almost instantly levelled with the ground as a sudden blast of wind swept with a weird moaning across the face of the hill.
Cumberland maintained the King’s cause in the loyal North, and to counteract his influence, Parliament appointed Lord Fairfax to the command of the Northern forces, his son, Sir Thomas, acting as General of Horse.
Various skirmishes ensued, Fairfax operating from his head-quarters at Tadcaster. On one occasion the loyal city of York was insulted by one of Fairfax’s officers, who fired a pistol in Micklegate Bar.
At Wetherby, the younger Fairfax was surprised by Sir Thomas Glemham, but the explosion of a powder magazine induced the Royalists to draw off. Sir Thomas was in great peril, being repeatedly fired upon at close quarters. Major Carr, of the King’s army, was slain, and the Parliamentarian Captain Atkinson was mortally wounded, his thigh being fractured by the repeated blows of pistols.
The Earl of Newcastle assuming the command of the Cavaliers, attacked Fairfax at Tadcaster. A bridge over the Wharfe led to the main street of Tadcaster, and Fairfax cast up a breastwork to command this bridge, while he posted musketeers in a number of houses that flanked the position. The attack commenced on the morning of Tuesday, the 7th of December, eight hundred Parliamentarians withstanding the numerous army of Newcastle. When Fairfax beheld Newcastle’s cavaliers marching down the York Road, and over the fields on each side, he resolved to evacuate the town, perceiving the impossibility of holding it against so numerous an enemy. It was, however, too late to retire in the face of the enemy, and the troops had barely time to occupy the position at the bridge before Newcastle made a determined attack upon them. Planting two demi-culverins to command the bridge, and hurrying up his infantry, Newcastle opened the ball at eleven o’clock. For five hours the cavaliers attacked, and the Parliamentarians as gallantly defended the position.
Again and again the King’s men came steadily on, with pikes in the front, and the musketeers firing and reloading with the most determined courage; but ere they could reach the breastwork the brave men of Nunappleton and Denton, and the stout-hearted burghers of Bradford and Bingley, smote them with a storm of shot, shattered and thinned their ranks—sending them back to re-form and renew the attack with the same obstinate but unavailing courage. After a while the fight slackened, the Royalists lining the hedges and maintaining a brisk exchange of shot with their adversaries.
It was important that Newcastle should effect a lodgment within the lines of defence by carrying the houses on the river banks, and several desperate attempts to effect this were made. Some fierce conflicts resulted, and many men were slain. At length Newcastle carried one of the houses that commanded the main body of the Parliamentarians. In this strait, Major-General Gifford was ordered forward to retake the lost positions. Some heavy fighting at close quarters ensued, and pike and sword were red with blood, and the soil cumbered with the slain and wounded, before the stubborn Royalists were driven out, and the buildings re-occupied.
As the shades of evening closed over the mournful scene of slaughter and confusion, Newcastle sent forward another party against one of the houses. It was his last effort, and was gallantly made; but the hail of bullets smote so fiercely in the face of the division, that it was driven back in confusion, with some loss of men, including Captain Lister, a young and promising officer, whose death was deeply lamented.
Newcastle drew off, intending to renew the attack on the following morning. Upwards of a hundred dead and wounded men were left upon the field.
Lord Fairfax retained the honours of the field, but was compelled to retire his forces, and accordingly occupied the town of Selby. His position was extremely precarious, and he was deeply distressed by the necessity of leaving the towns of the West exposed to the attacks of their powerful enemies.
On the 14th December, Sir Thomas Fairfax and the gallant Captain Hotham sallied out of Selby, and stormed Sherborne, to come back on the spur, closely pursued by the enraged Goring.
Sir William Savile, of Thornhill, compelled Leeds and Wakefield to surrender; and on Sunday, December 18th, attacked Bradford with 200 foot, six troops of dragoons, and five of horse. A spirited engagement ensued, and the Royalists were beaten off. Shortly after, Sir Thomas made a night-march through the Royalist lines, and entered Bradford with 300 foot and three troops of horse.
Reinforced by numerous recruits Sir Thomas resolved to attack Sir William Savile, who was strongly entrenched in Leeds. The approaches from the Bridge and Hunslet Lane were defended by breastworks, and two demi-culverins commanded the long, broad Briggate, or principal street.
On Monday, January 23rd, 1643, Fairfax summoned the town with 2,000 clubmen, 1,000 musketeers, six troops of horse, and three of dragoons at his back. Sir William Savile rejoined by a gallant defiance, having 1,500 foot and 500 horse posted in the town. Sir Thomas had formed his troops in two divisions to storm both sides of the town, and they advanced to attack as a snow-storm burst over the moor.
The watchword was “Emanuel,” and with sounding trumpets Sergeant-Major Forbes and Captain Hodgson fell on at the head of five companies of foot and one of dismounted dragoons. They were saluted with a volley of musketry, all but inoperative. The musketeers had aimed too high.
The roar of battle rose at the end of Ludgate, when Sir William Fairfax and Sir Thomas Norcliffe assaulted the entrenchments, and was answered from the south side of the river, where the stormers were fighting their way to the south end of the bridge. Here they established themselves, and flanked the defenders of the works at the north-end of the bridge, who were holding Forbes and his stormers in check. Sir William Savile ordered up one of the demi-culverins, and planted it upon the bridge, to arrest the Parliamentarian advance. Maitland, who led the attack, despatched a party of dragoons to the waterside, and compelled the defenders of the lower breastwork to retire, when Forbes occupied the deserted position. Schofield, a minister of Halifax, celebrated this success by singing a verse of the lxvii. psalm; and as it was concluded the cheers of the dragoons announced the evacuation of the upper breastwork. Still singing the psalm, Forbes charged up the Briggate, and captured the demi-culverins. Here they were met by Sir William Fairfax, who had gallantly forced his way into the town.
Fairfax had stormed three positions, and captured Leeds, after three hours of close fighting. His conduct was highly eulogised.
Sir William Savile and the Rev. Mr. Robinson swam their horses across the Aire, and escaped. Unhappily Captain Beaumont was drowned in the attempt.
Fairfax lost about twenty men, and took 460 prisoners, the two demi-culverins, a number of muskets, and fourteen barrels of gunpowder. The prisoners were allowed to depart on engaging not to arm against Parliament.
Sir Thomas Fairfax being in delicate health returned to the head-quarters at Selby. Newcastle withdrew from Wakefield, and concentrated his army at York, leaving the country between Selby and the West open to the Fairfaxes, who occupied Howley Hall, between Wakefield and Bradford.
While the Fairfaxes held Selby, Queen Henrietta landed at Bridlington, where she was briskly cannonaded by Vice-Admiral Batten, whose ungallant conduct was generally reprobated. Fairfax offered her Majesty an escort of Yorkshire Parliamentarians.
The plots of the Hothams closed Hull to the Fairfaxes, and they resolved to march to Leeds, a distance of twenty miles, although exposed to a flank attack. Sir Thomas drew off the enemy by marching a division in the direction of Tadcaster, thus enabling Lord Fairfax to carry the main body to Leeds.
The Royalists believed that Sir Thomas had designs upon York, and Goring followed hot upon his track, and on Whin Moor, near the village of Seacroft, charged his rear and right flank, and dispersed the Parliamentarians, of whom a few were wounded or slain, and many were captured.
After a sharp pursuit and some shrewd blows, Sir Thomas Fairfax and Sir Henry Foulis reached Leeds with a few troopers.
Chiefly for the purpose of obtaining prisoners for the exchange of his captured soldiers, Sir Thomas resolved to make an attempt upon Wakefield, then held by Goring with seven troops of horse and six regiments of foot. Outworks, trenches, breastworks, and several cannon defended the town.
The Royalist officers were given to drinking and playing at bowls, and although aware of Fairfax’s advance, he found some officers in liquor when the attack began. Doubtless this refers to the few; the majority would be on the alert like gallant and loyal gentlemen.
At midnight on Saturday, the 20th of May, Sir Thomas marched from Howley with 1,500 horse and foot, drawn from the garrisons of Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, and Howley. At four o’clock, he approached Wakefield, to find the enemy on the alert. Driving a body of horse out of Stanley, he assailed Wrengate and Northgate. Major-General Gifford, Sir Henry Foulis, Sir William Fairfax, and other brave officers, supported Sir Thomas. The stormers were saluted by a hot fire from muskets and cannon, but suffered little thereby. Undaunted by their hot reception, the stormers faced the hail of shot and fell on with pike and musket, capturing the works and turning the guns upon the enemy. Driving the cavaliers before him, Fairfax cleared the streets, capturing, with many others, General Goring, Sir Thomas Bland, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Geo. Wentworth, Lieut.-Colonel Saint George, Lieut.-Colonel Macmoyler, Sergt.-Major Carr, Captains Carr, Knight, Wildbore, Rueston, Pemberton, Croft, Ledgard, Lashley, Kayley, and Nuttall; Captn.-Lieut. Benson, Sergt.-Major Carnabie. Left wounded in Wakefield, upon their engagement to be true prisoners, Lieutenants Munckton, Thomas, Wheatley, Kent, Nicholson; Ensigns Squire, Vavasor, Masken, Lampton, Ducket, Stockhold, Baldwinson, Davis, Carr, Gibson, Smathweight, Ballinson, Watson, Smelt, Hallyburton, and Cornet Wivell.
Too weak to retain his conquest, Fairfax marched off in triumph with his prisoners, captured cannon, colours, arms, ammunition, etc.
London greatly rejoiced on receiving news of the victory. Parliament ordered public thanksgivings to be observed in the city; and in the churches and chapels narratives of the action were read.
The following is the official account of the battle, as made to Lord Fairfax: “On Saturday night, the 20th of May, the Lord General Fairfax gave orders for a party of 1,000 foot, three companies of dragoons, and eight troops of horse, to march from the garrison of Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, and Howley; Sir Thomas Fairfax commanded in chief. The foot were commanded by Sergt.-Major-General Gifford and Sir William Fairfax. The horse were divided into two bodies, four troops commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax, and the other four troops by Sir Henry Foulis; Howley was the rendezvous, where they all met on Saturday last, about twelve o’clock of night; about two next morning they marched away, and coming to Stanley, where two of the enemy’s troops lay, with some dragoons, that quarter was beaten up, and about one-and-twenty prisoners taken. About four o’clock in the morning we came before Wakefield, where, after some of their horse were beaten into the town, the foot, with unspeakable courage, beat the enemies from the hedges, which they had lined with musketeers, into the town, and assaulted it in two places, Westgate and Northgate, and after an hour and a half fight, we recovered one of their pieces, and turned it upon them, and entered the town at both places at one and the same time. When the baracadoes were opened, Sir Thomas Fairfax, with the horse, fell into the town, and cleared the street, when Colonel Goring was taken by Lieut. Alured, brother to Captain Alured, a member of the house; yet in the Market Place there stood three troops of horse and Colonel Lampton’s regiment, to whom Major-General Gifford sent a trumpet with offer of quarter, if they would lay down their arms. They answered they scorned the motion. Then he fired a piece of their own ordnance upon them, and the horse fell in among them, beat them out of the town, and took all their officers, expressed in the enclosed list, twenty-seven colours of foot, three cornets of horse, and about 1,500 common soldiers. The enemy had in the town 3,000 foot and seven troops of horse, besides Colonel Lampton’s regiment, which came into the town after he had entered the town. The enemy left behind them three pieces of ordnance, with ammunition, which we brought away.—Signed, Thomas Fairfax, Henry Foulis, John Gifford, William Fairfax, John Holmes, Robert Foulis, Titus Leighton, Francis Talbott.”
With an army of 12,000 men at his back the Marquis of Newcastle was bound to clear Yorkshire of the Parliamentarians. Having stormed Howley Hall, he marched upon Bradford, halting on Adwalton Moor on the 29th of June, 1643; making a careful disposition of his army, and placing his artillery in position, as though apprehensive of an attack from his active and daring opponents.
The audacity of the Fairfaxes was justified by their desperate position. Hull was closed to them by the defection of the Hothams; the open towns of the West were exhausted, and they were surrounded by enemies in the heart of a hostile country.
While Newcastle was encamping on Adwalton Moor, Fairfax was preparing to march upon him at four o’clock on the following morning. The excitement in Bradford was intense. The success of Fairfax could alone deliver them from the hands of the Royalists, who were deeply exasperated against the stubborn burghers.
The march of the Parliamentarians was delayed until eight o’clock, in consequence of the tardiness or treachery of Major-General Gifford, if we may believe the grumblings of Sir Thomas Fairfax, who was doubtless impatient to be at the enemy.
The main body of the Cavaliers was posted before the hamlet of Adwalton, and a “Forlorn Hope,” as the advanced guard was called, held the Westgate Hill, half a mile distant from the army.
Here Fairfax dealt his first blow, and swept the Cavaliers before his advancing army. So first blood was claimed, and scattered on the turf lay the mangled forms of many brave men, their cold, still faces looking doubly pallid and sad in the bright morning sunshine.
Jutting out from the main road by Westgate Hill, Hodgson’s Lane led up to Newcastle’s position, and entered Warren’s Lane, opening on the moor from Gomersal.
Lord Fairfax, with 3,000 men against 12,000, had to fight a defensive battle, and lining the hedges at the head of Warren’s Lane with musketeers, he ordered Gifford to move down Hodgson’s Lane upon Newcastle’s position.
The ground was scarcely occupied before twelve troops of cavalry swept across the moor, trumpets sounding, armour clashing, and the long, thin rapiers flashing back the morning’s sun. Ere they reached the Roundheads, the muskets flashed from the hedge-rows, and as the white smoke drifted on the breeze, and the loud report rang out, the gallant Cavaliers retired with thinned and disordered ranks, leaving Colonel Howard and many other gallant men dead upon the field. Again they charged, again broke before the deadly fire of the musketeers, leaving another colonel upon the field. Then Fairfax charged, and bore them, sorely buffeted and cut-up, before his strong riders, until they found protection beneath the muzzle of their cannon.
Gifford was handling his infantry with such address that Newcastle’s spirits drooped, and he thought of commanding a retreat. But he had bold, strong gentlemen beneath his banners, and Colonel Skerton, heading a stand of pikes, broke Gifford’s ranks, and made deadly work as the royal horse followed his charge. The Parliamentarians were not allowed time to rally, but were driven into Bradford.
Sir Thomas had no order to retire, and was not aware of the defeat of his father’s command. For some time he maintained his ground, and succeeded in carrying his troops into Halifax.
The next morning he was in Bradford. A day of heavy fighting followed, but the place could not be maintained. Sir Thomas attempted to pass through the royal lines, but his party was dispersed, and his wife captured by the enemy. He gained Leeds, where the news arrived that the Hothams had been arrested, and Hull was open to the Parliamentarians. The Fairfaxes resolved to make the attempt to reach the fortress, and succeeded after many perils, Sir Thomas being shot through the wrist during a skirmish, and fainting from excessive pain and loss of blood.
Newcastle marched upon Hull, drove Sir Thomas Fairfax out of Beverley, and besieged the town with 12,000 foot and 4,000 horse, on the 2nd of September, 1643. Attempts were made to command the Humber by the erection of forts at Hessle and Paull, and red-hot shot were thrown into the town. A sally was beaten back, but the besiegers were hindered by the cutting of the banks of the Hull and Humber, when the country around was laid under water. Oliver Cromwell and Lord Willoughby of Parham visited the town to consult with the Fairfaxes as to the best measures for the defence, but appeared satisfied that it could be maintained. The sorties of the garrison were spirited, and attended with some success. On the 9th October the Royalists attempted to carry the town by escalade, and almost succeeded. The Charter House battery was stormed, but re-captured, and many lives were lost. The gallant Captain Strickland was slain while leading the stormers. On the morning of the 11th of October a pitched battle was fought before the town. Fairfax organised a force of 1,500 men, drawn from the garrison, burghers, and the crews of the warships in the Humber.
Meldrum and Lord Fairfax issued out of the Hessle and Beverley gates, and took the Royalists by surprise, driving them out of their works; but being assailed by fresh troops from the main body of the besiegers, they were very roughly handled, and driven under the town walls, when the cannon opened upon the Cavaliers, and enabled Meldrum and Fairfax to re-form their troops.
Supported by the fire of the town guns, the Parliamentarians renewed their attack; and, in the face of a heavy fire, stormed the enemy’s works, the dispute being very severe, and the fighting stubbornly maintained at close quarters. Newcastle’s warriors made a gallant attempt to re-conquer their lost forts, but the cannon were turned upon them, and the Parliamentarians repulsed every attack. After three hours of hard fighting the Cavaliers retired, having received over one hundred discharges of the town guns.
An anxious night was passed, for the Parliamentarians expected Newcastle to renew his attempts to regain his forts and cannon, but the Marquis had suffered heavily, and, taking council with his officers, resolved to abandon the siege, and retire under cover of the night. His main army retired upon York, securing the retreat by breaking down bridges and obstructing the roads.
The men of Hull rejoiced in the capture of two famous cannon, Gog and Magog, a demi-culverin, four small drakes mounted on one carriage, two large brass drakes, and a saker.
The burghers spent the following day in public thanksgiving, and thus observed the anniversary of their deliverance until the restoration of the Stuarts.
In 1644 King and Parliament were so closely matched that any accession of strength to either party would tend to the speedy conclusion of the conflict. When, on the 4th of March, the Earl of Leven occupied Sunderland with 30,000 Scots, reinforcements for Parliament, the greatest concern was felt by all good Cavaliers, and the Marquis of Newcastle promptly brought up his Yorkshire Royalists, and held Leven at bay.
In this strait Sir Thomas Fairfax was ordered to the North to reinforce the Scots with cavalry, and enable them to engage the King’s men. Lord Fairfax joined his son near Hull, and, augmenting his forces, it was resolved to attack Selby, which was defended by barricades, and garrisoned by a strong force of foot and horse under the command of Colonel Bellasis, the son of Lord Falconberg.
On the 11th of April, 1644, the Parliamentarians advanced to the storm. The army was formed into three divisions, commanded by Lord Fairfax, Sir John Meldrum, and Colonel Bright. Sir Thomas Fairfax supported with his cavalry.
The steady advance was met by the red flash of the guns, and the smoke rose and drifted over the front. But the drums beat on, the pikemen held bravely to the front, and the musketeers began to handle their guns, as the front ranks poured into the trenches, leaving on the green sward behind them the silent forms of slain men, whose white, drawn faces looked very sad in the midst of the fresh young grass, and under the shifting April clouds. In the trenches and by the barricades some hot work went on, with clash of pikes and hail of bullets, until the Cavaliers were fairly beaten from their defences, and their reluctant officers, failing to rally their disordered ranks, retired them from the front. The lines were won, but Colonel Bellasis held the open ground with his horse, ready to sweep back the hostile foot should they attempt any further advance, and a desultory fire of musketry was maintained, until Sir Thomas Fairfax succeeded, after a fierce struggle, in breaking down a barricade and making way for his horse. Then the files of heavy cavalry came crashing over the disputed ground, beating under hoof the heaps of debris and rubbish, and overthrowing all who strove with pike and musket to bar their path. Sir Thomas occupied the ground between the houses and the river, when, with trumpets sounding the charge, a numerous body of royal horse bore down upon them. The charge was gallantly received, and a severe conflict ensued, when, beaten back by dint of steel and lead, the Royalists broke away in confusion, and availing themselves of the bridge of boats, crossed the river and took to flight.
Scarcely had the panting warriors time to re-form their disordered ranks before the fiery Bellasis burst upon them in a furious charge, eager to avenge his defeated horse. Cold steel met in thrust and parry; the pistols flashed, and brave men fell thickly as, hand-to-hand, in dust and smoke, the sharp hot melee held; then riderless steeds broke away from the shock; Sir Thomas was hurled from his steed amid plunging hoofs and slashing steel, but was rescued by his gallant troopers, and re-mounted. The Cavaliers fought as King’s men should that day, but were over-weighted by Fairfax’s heavy horse, and driven off in headlong flight for York, leaving Colonel Bellasis a prisoner in the hands of the victorious Roundheads.
In the meantime the Parliamentarian foot had made good their hold of the town, and accepted the surrender of the royal foot.
The results of this engagement were remarkable. The Fairfaxes had only defeated some two or three thousand men, and wrested a small town from the King’s hands, yet the strong city of York trembled for its safety, and Newcastle was urgently requested to return and defend the county. He complied. The Scots were at liberty. Fairfax immediately joined them with his little army; and, on the 19th of April, York was blockaded by the combined forces. Manchester augmented the besieging army; York was closely invested, its fall was imminent; and King Charles urgently demanded of Prince Rupert the raising of the siege. Gallantly was the demand met, but was followed by the famous battle of Marston Moor, from the effects of which the royal cause never recovered.
King Charles was fully conscious of the perilous position in which he would be placed if York fell, and Yorkshire passed into the hands of the enemy; he therefore instructed Prince Rupert to march to the relief of York, using the following impressive language:—“I command and conjure you, by the duty and affection which I know you bear me, that, all new enterprise laid aside, you immediately march, according to your first intention, with all your force to the relief of York; but if that be either lost, or have freed themselves from the besiegers, or that, for want of powder, you cannot undertake that work, that you immediately march with your whole strength to Worcester, to assist me and my army, without which, or your having relieved York by beating the Scots, all the successes you may afterwards have, most infallibly will be useless unto me.”
Gathering up forces as he advanced, Rupert marched to the succour of the city, and occupied Knaresborough and Boroughbridge on the evening of the 30th of June. On the following morning the Parliamentarians drew up on Hessay Moor, to arrest Rupert’s advance. Outgeneraling his adversaries, the Prince marched to Poppleton Ferry, halted his army, and entered York with 200 Cavaliers. That night a council of war was held, and Rupert resolved to give battle to the enemy. The Marquis of Newcastle endeavoured to dissuade the Prince from this step, and begged him to await the arrival of a reinforcement of 5,000 men, expected in the course of a few days. Rupert is accused of behaving with discourtesy towards Newcastle, and for this there can be no defence. There was, however, good reason for fighting, and at once. Certainly the Prince could not be expected to put a great value on Newcastle’s advice. Rupert had achieved many successes, and had relieved York by a masterly movement; on the other hand, Newcastle had not achieved any remarkable success, and had allowed himself to be besieged in York without fighting a battle. If he could hold Leslie in check, surely he might have attempted to raise the blockade of York before Manchester arrived with reinforcements. Had Rupert waited for reinforcements, would the Parliamentarians have accepted battle, or retired to some stronger position? Rupert was in a favourable position, with a tried army, almost as strong as that of the enemy, and if he did not at once give battle as favourable an opportunity might not again occur. Having relieved York, was he to retire and leave the enemy in Yorkshire to again besiege the city, or capture the various royal strongholds? Two nearly equal armies were opposed on Yorkshire soil, would one army leave the other in possession? would the Parliamentarians compel the Cavaliers to fight? or would the two armies move away in different directions, seeking other fields and other foes? Rupert and the Parliamentarian leaders knew that they were there to fight. The King’s affairs absolutely demanded a victory, and the blame that attaches to Rupert is that he forgot the general in acting the part of a captain of horse, and so lost a battle that it was within his capabilities to have won, as the conduct of his army abundantly proved.
The morning of the 2nd of July beheld Rupert’s army in motion; but the enemy were marching upon Tadcaster, not expecting an engagement. A threatening movement of Rupert’s cavalry was promptly checked, and both armies began to form for battle under the Earls of Leven and Manchester and Lord Fairfax on the one hand; and Rupert, Goring, Lucas, and Sir John Urrie on the other. Some time elapsed before the various divisions reached the field, and stood opposed in order of battle.
The Parliamentarians occupied a gentle eminence covered by a crop of rye, beaten down by horse and foot. The regiments of Scotch and English were intermixed, that the grace or blame of victory or defeat might be equally shared. The centre consisted of serried masses of pikemen and musketeers, commanded by Leven and the elder Fairfax; Sir Thomas Fairfax led the right wing, consisting of his Yorkshire cavalry, supported by three regiments of Scottish horse, and outflanked by the village of Marston. The left wing, extending to Tockwith village, was commanded by Manchester and Cromwell. Their field word was “God with us!” Before them was the open moor, held by the King’s men, but the furze and broken ground was calculated to retard their charges. Between the two armies extended a ditch and hedge, soon to be immortalised as the scene of some heavy fighting and dreadful slaughter.
Some uncertainty exists as to the disposition of the Royalists, the various accounts of the battle being very contradictory, but it may be assumed that the centre was commanded by Goring, Sir Charles Lucas, and General Porter; Newcastle heading his own regiment of white-coated pikemen. Rupert carried his huge red-cross banner, emblazoned with the arms of the Palatinate, on the left wing; and Sir John Urrie commanded the right. Grant seems disposed to support the statement of Rushworth, that Rupert led the right wing, and Sir Charles Lucas the left.
Rupert’s position was excellent for the fighting of a defensive battle. To cross the ditch that lay between the armies was a serious undertaking for either army, but especially for the Parliamentarians, as Rupert had lined the hedge with musketeers, and had planted a battery on an eminence behind his centre, thus demanding a heavy sacrifice of life from the Parliamentarians before they could exchange blows with his centre, and, in the event of his assuming the offensive, the advance would be partially covered by the battery.
The combined armies consisted of about 46,000 men, and were of almost equal strength, the Parliamentarians having, probably, some little advantage in numbers. For several hours no hostile movement took place, with the exception of a few discharges of cannon, by one of the first shots of which the loyal Sir Gilbert Houghton lost his son. Apparently both parties were awed by the importance of the impending conflict, and reluctant to make the first movement, with all the difficulties attending the passage of the ditch and hedge.
The pleasant summer afternoon waned into evening, peaceful and calm. Seven o’clock approached: surely the bloody bout would be delayed until the morrow. Occasionally the cannon roared, and a few men fell; one of these unfortunates was young Walton, Cromwell’s nephew, who was severely wounded; and it is supposed that this brought about the Parliamentarian attack.
“It was now between six and seven, and Rupert, calling for provisions, dismounted, and began to eat his supper. A large number of his followers did the like. Newcastle strolled towards his coach to solace himself with a pipe. Before he had time to take a whiff, the battle had begun.”—Gardiner.
Manchester moved forward his infantry in heavy masses, with pikes and muskets ready for the deadly work, and attempted the passage of the ditch, while Cromwell’s magnificent cuirassiers swept forward to clear the same formidable obstacle, and engage the enemy’s right. Rupert hurried forward a large body of musketeers to meet Manchester’s attack, and at the same time swept their ranks by the deadly discharges of his field battery. Rupert’s musketeers being covered by the hedge, inflicted heavy loss upon the Parliamentarians, and Manchester vainly exerted himself to re-form their shattered ranks. Two cannons were hurried up, and the officers exposed themselves with the utmost devotion to encourage their troops, but they were powerless to advance in the face of that deadly shower of bullets, and the position was becoming critical in the extreme, when relief came, and that not a moment too soon. Cromwell, making a wide sweep, gained the open moor, found room for a charge, and bore down upon the enemy’s right with a tremendous and fatal force. A short but desperate conflict ensued as Cromwell carried his Ironsides through the sorely buffeted and shattered squadrons of the royal horse. Pressing on, he stormed the battery and put the gunners to the sword. A moment’s breathing space was allowed the horses, and then the musketeers, who held Manchester’s advance in check with their forks planted in the ditch-bank, maintaining a steady and destructive fire, became the object of attack. These brave soldiers did not attempt to meet the charge, but retreated in close order, with presented pikes, and although they suffered severely from the fury of the enemy, they endeavoured to check the successive charges by the repeated fire of their muskets.
There was no braver man in the field than Sir Thomas Fairfax, but he suffered a sad defeat on that memorable July evening. The ground occupied by his troops was broken and intersected by a number of lanes; not difficult to defend, but preventing united action when the moment for the advance arrived. Nevertheless he struggled forward, wasting his strength by a succession of weak charges, but unable to find room for a general attack. The fiery Rupert was opposed to him, and swept his ranks by a cruel and incessant fire of musketry, until little hope for the Parliament remained in this part of the field. For a time the impending ruin was averted by Cromwell, who charged the Prince’s infantry, and afforded Fairfax an opportunity of re-forming his torn and wearied forces; but in the midst of the struggling advance of the over-mastered Parliamentarians Rupert delivered his grand charge, and storming over and through every obstacle, filled this part of the field with a wild rout of unhappy fugitives, amongst whom the keen rapiers of his gay Cavaliers wrought terrible havoc. The brother of Sir Thomas Fairfax was mortally wounded, but the good knight clung desperately to the ground with 500 of his own horse and a regiment of lancers, to be wounded and fairly borne off the field by the impetuous Rupert. Here the Prince took a deadly and fatal revenge on the Scotch cavalry, put them to headlong flight, and bore on in stormy pursuit, while the royal infantry was exposed to the attacks of Manchester’s foot and Cromwell’s victorious Ironsides. Had Rupert succoured his centre at this stage of the battle he must have compelled the Parliamentarians to yield to him the victory.
Nobly the royal foot met the deadly storm of battle; exerting such heroic courage that they fairly pushed back the Parliamentarian advance, and the King’s prospects were yet promising, maugre the terrible handling received from Cromwell. That gallant soldier held his cavalry well in hand, albeit their ranks were somewhat thinned by shot and steel; and they now wrested the victory from the rashly impetuous Rupert. The Marquis of Newcastle’s incomparable regiment of Northumbrians perished here. They were known as “lambs,” or “white-coats,” from the colour of their doublets, and resisted Cromwell to the last. Again and again he charged them, but they returned blow for blow, and, disdaining all offers of quarter, perished almost to a man, the few that were saved owing their lives rather to the magnanimity of their enemies than to any exertions of their own to escape the slaughter. They fell in their proper battle-order, and presented a ghastly spectacle as they lay upon the field in rank and file, their white coats cruelly slashed with many a crimson stain. The remainder of the royal foot were now taken in the rear by the Ironsides, and sustained a bloody and ruinous defeat. Before their ruin was consummated the Prince returned, and a fierce conflict ensued. Rupert had counted the victory as already won, and rage and mortification added to the fury of the last sanguinary and stubborn conflict. Cromwell was wounded in the neck, and his charge was all but abortive, when Leslie came up and retrieved the mishap by a terrible onslaught that sent Rupert’s over-mastered warriors in wild confusion from the field. The infantry now surrendered, and Cromwell captured all the cannon, baggage, &c., of the royal army, which was pursued almost to the gates of York.
At a late hour throngs of wounded men and fugitives from the field appeared before Micklegate-Bar, but the soldiers of the garrison were alone admitted into the city, and the confusion that ensued was of the most deplorable and painful character.
Cromwell remained on the field, anxious and alert, fearful that the impetuous Rupert might rally some remains of his army, and, by a sudden onslaught under cover of night, wrest from his shattered army the victory so hardly won by dint of heavy fighting.
The general loss was estimated at 7,000 men, Prince Rupert losing over 3,000 slain, and 3,000 prisoners, including many officers. The Parliamentarians captured forty-seven colours, twenty-five pieces of artillery, a number of carbines and pistols, 130 barrels of gunpowder, and 10,000 arms. Among their prisoners were Generals Sir Charles Lucas, Tilliard, and Porter, and Lord Goring’s son. Amongst the gallant gentlemen who laid down their lives for King Charles on Marston Moor were Lord Kerry, Sir Francis Dacres, Sir William Lampton, Sir Charles Slingsby, Sir William Wentworth, Sir Marmaduke Luddon, Sir Richard Gledhill, Colonel John Fenwick, Sir Richard Graham, and Captain John Baird. Sir Richard Gledhill, as a matter of fact, died in his own house an hour after he succeeded in gaining its shelter. He had received twenty-six wounds. Sir Charles Lucas was informed that he could select some of the slain for private interment, and in thus distinguishing one unfortunate Cavalier caused a bracelet of silky hair to be removed from his wrist, “as he knew an honourable lady who would thankfully receive it.” The Scots suffered severely, and the English lost Captains Micklethwaite and Pugh, and Sir Thomas Fairfax had to deplore the loss of his brother Charles, and of Major Fairfax.
No two accounts of the battle agree, and Cromwell, whose conduct conduced so largely to the winning of the battle, has been even accused of cowardice by one writer. Rapin says, “I shall not undertake to describe this battle, because in all the accounts I have seen I meet with so little order or clearness that I cannot expect to give a satisfactory idea of it to such of my readers as understand these matters.”
The Parliamentarians assumed a white badge to distinguish them from their opponents.
Prince Rupert would probably have won the battle had he acted as a commander-in-chief instead of leading a wing; but it was then customary for each of the three commanders to fight his own battle, with too little regard to the general issue, when there was no commander directing the operations of the divisions.
The King’s affairs never recovered from the results of this battle, and the royal cause undoubtedly received its death-blow on Marston Moor, when the last of the Yorkshire battles was fought.
King Athelstan reigned in troublous days, with the restless Danish population in the North, the Welsh in the West, the Scots ready to support his enemies, and his own nobles discontented and disloyal. Athelstan had conferred upon Sithric, King of Northumberland, the hand of his sister; but the prince violated his obligations, and was only secured from punishment by the sudden stroke of death.
Sithric’s sons, Anlaf and Godfrid, took refuge in Ireland and Scotland; and a confederation of the princes of Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Cumberland, seconded by a Danish fleet, threatened the crown of Athelstan.
After four years of preparation and recruiting the storm burst. In 937 Anlaf entered the Humber at the head of a huge armada of 615 sail, and occupied Bernicia.
Athelstan, with a powerful army, marched to the North and encamped at Brunanburgh. It is said that Anlaf entered the King’s camp disguised as a minstrel, and was liberally rewarded by Athelstan, but, in his pride, buried the gold, and was perceived by one of the royal soldiers, who then recognised him, but permitted him to retire from the camp before he apprised Athelstan of the identity of the minstrel. His excuse that had permitted Anlaf to escape because he had at one period sworn fealty to him, was accepted as a sufficient reason; but Athelstan removed his camp, and shortly after the Bishop of Sherborne came up with his troops and occupied the ground that Athelstan had vacated.
That night Anlaf made a sudden attack upon the Saxons, and slew the Bishop of Sherborne and many of his followers, before he was driven off.
The day of battle dawned. Each army was formed into two corps. Athelstan commanded the West Saxons; Turketul, his heroic chancellor, led the warriors of Mercia and London. Anlaf and his wild Northmen opposed the King; Constantine, King of Scotland, confronted Turketul with his Scots and Cumbrians.
At sunrise the war-smiths fell to, with sleet of arrows and deadly play of bills and spears, as the banners were pushed forward. Bravely the golden-haired Athelstan acquitted himself in the van, amid the communion of swords and the clashing of bills, the conflict of banners and the meeting of spears, when the keen javelins strewed the soil with the slain, and the unerring arrows carried death above the guarding shield. Athelstan’s sword dropped in the press, but as Otho, Archbishop of Canterbury, entreated the heavenly aid, a sword of celestial potency filled the empty sheath, and with it Athelstan fought until night closed upon the scene.
As the day was drawing towards eventide, with the wild war-wrestle at its maddest, and the song of the fiery Northman rolling like thunder over the field, now heaped with slain and wounded men, for the front ranks had been mown down, and renewed again and again, Turketul headed a veteran corps of spearmen, and made an irresistible charge upon the Scots. Vainly Constantine strove to hold his ground; his fierce Scots were over-weighted, broken, and borne down. Anlaf’s Northmen were dismayed, and gave ground. Turketul charged them; a brief, fierce struggle ensued; then he penetrated their ranks; flight commenced; the field was covered with fugitives; the Northmen anxiously striving to regain their nailed barks, and crowd all sail for Ireland.
Then pressed the West Saxons hard on “the footsteps of the loathed nations.” “They hewed the fugitives behind, amain, with swords mill-sharp,” while on the battle-stead lay five “youthful kings, and seven eke of Anlaf’s earls.”“Constantine, hoary warrior, he had no cause to exult in the communion of swords. Here was his kindred band of friends o’erthrown on the falkstead, in battle slain; and his son he left on the slaughter-place, mangled with wounds, young in the fight.”
The slaughter was dreadful, but the throne of Athelstan was secured, and his northern subjects humbled. He left behind him a terrible carnage field, “the sallowy kite the corse to devour, and the swarthy raven with horned nib, and the dusky ‘pada’ erne white-tailed, the corse to enjoy, greedy war-hawk, and the grey beast, wolf of the wood. Carnage greater has not been in this island ever yet of people slain, before this, by edges of swords, as books us say, old writers, since from the east hither, Angles and Saxons came to land, o’er the broad seas Britain sought, mighty war-smiths, the Welsh o’ercame, earls most bold, this earth obtained.”
In later years Anlaf obtained considerable successes over King Edmund, and the northern provinces were ceded to him; but scarcely had he obtained this high position ere death touched his brow, and kingly pride and vain ambition were overcome.
Despite the labours of Yorkshire and Lancashire antiquaries, the locality of Brunanburgh must be regarded as unascertained, and no evidence has been produced that can justify its inclusion in the list of Yorkshire battles.
In the years 1778 and 1779 British commerce suffered severely from the attacks of Paul Jones.
In September of the latter year he cruised along the East coast with the “Bonne Homme Richard,” 40 guns, 375 men; the “Alliance,” 40 guns, 300 men; the “Pallas,” 32 guns, 275 men; and the “Vengeance,” 12 guns, 70 men. On the 20th of September, Bridlington was alarmed by an express stating that Paul Jones was off Scarborough; that evening he was seen by the fishermen of Flamborough, and a fleet of merchantmen crowded into Bridlington bay, and the harbour was soon thronged with vessels, a number being chained alongside the piers. The townsfolks mustered, rudely armed, and supported the two companies of Northumberland Militia, who marched to the quay with drums beating.
The Baltic fleet, with a freight valued at £600,000 pounds, was approaching the coast, convoyed by the “Serapis,” 40 guns, captain, Pearson; and the “Countess of Scarborough,” 20 guns, captain, Piercy. On Thursday, September 23rd, the fleet approached Scarborough, and was warned by the bailiff that the enemy was in the neighbourhood. Captain Pearson then signalled the fleet to bear down upon his lee, but the ships continued their course. About noon a scene of confusion ensued as the leading ships perceived the enemy bearing down upon them. The two captains hoisted all sail, prepared for action, and took the post of danger.
Twilight was closing over waves and cliff when, at about twenty minutes past seven, the “Serapis” challenged the “Bonne Homme Richard,” and saluted him with a cannon shot. The American flag was run up, and the shot returned. Captain Pearson delivered a broadside, which was returned, and for some time the battle was carried on by repeated discharges of cannon. The moon arose with unusual brilliancy, and the natives of Flamborough thronged to the cliffs to witness the exciting scene. Paul Jones attempted to board, but with bayonet, pike, and cutlass the British tars maintained their decks, and the “Bonne Homme Richard” sheered off. An attempt to lay the “Serapis” square with her adversary was foiled, and the “Bonne Homme Richard” was laid across the bows of the “Serapis.” With cannon and small arms a murderous conflict was maintained, then the jib-boom of the “Serapis” gave way, and the ships fell broadside to broadside, with yard-arms locked; swaying and reeling as they ripped up each other’s sides with repeated broadsides, although the muzzles of the cannons touched, and many of the port-lids were torn away.
The night closed in, and the conflict continued. The decks of the “Serapis” were swept by shot, covered with the slain and wounded. For two hours her crew maintained the fight with heroic courage. Combustibles were thrown upon her decks, ten times she took fire; a hand-grenade exploded a cartridge, and the explosion ran along the line of guns where the cartridges lay, abaft the mainmast. Many men were killed or wounded, and the guns remained unfought to the end.
During this murderous work the “Alliance” sailed round and round the combatants, and raked the “Serapis” with successive broadsides.
On a cry for quarter being raised, Captain Pearson boarded the “Bonne Homme Richard,” but at once retired on perceiving a numerous party of the enemy lying in ambush. The battle re-commenced, when the “Alliance” again raked the “Serapis,” inflicting dreadful slaughter, and bringing down the mainmast.
The “Serapis” was little better than a wreck, and the old flag was reluctantly hauled down. Paul Jones received the conquered enemy most courteously. Without the aid of the “Alliance” the “Bonne Homme Richard” would have been captured. She was on fire in two places, the guns on her lower deck were dismounted, and she had seven feet of water in her hold. Out of her crew of 375 men, 306 were killed and wounded. The total loss of the two English ships did not reach half that number. On the following day the “Bonne Homme Richard” was abandoned, and, before all her wounded could be removed, went to the bottom.
The “Countess of Scarborough” fought the “Pallas” and “Vengeance” for upwards of two hours, and only struck when a third vessel bore down upon her.
The King of France presented Paul Jones with a gold-hilted sword, and requested the American Government to sanction the bestowal of the military Order of Merit upon the gallant adventurer.
Captain Pearson was knighted, and was rewarded by the merchants for saving the Baltic fleet. He was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Greenwich, and received the Freedom of the corporations of Hull, Scarborough, Appleby, and Dover.
Adela, daughter of William I., 56
Adelwald, King of Deira, 8-10
Aire, River, 8, 99, 185
Albany, Duke of, 142
Albemarle, William, 3rd Earl of, 61, 66
Alberic, Bishop of Ostia, 73
Aldred, Archbishop of York, 43
Alexander II., King of Scotland, 79, 80
Alexander III., King of Scotland, 79
Alfred, King of the North-Humbrians, 10, 11
Alfred, King of England, 20
Alnwick Castle, 76
Alured, Lieut., 191
Alured, Captn., 191
Annandale, Robert Bruce, Lord of, 64-66
Archer, John, 156
Arundel, Edmund Fitz-Alan, 2nd Earl of, 100
Aske, Robert, 175
Athelstan, King of Mercia, 13, 216-220
Atkinson, Captn., 179
Audley, John Touchet, 6th Lord, 152
Avon, River, 100
Badlesmere, Bartholomew, 1st Lord de, 103-104
Baird, Captn., John, 214
Baldwin V., Earl of Flanders, 18
Baldwinson, Ensign, 189
Baliol, Bernard de, 61, 64-66, 76
Baliol, Edward, King of Scotland, 138
Ballinson, Ensign, 189
Bamborough Castle, 50-51, 172
Bangor, Bishop of, 147
Bardolph, Thomas, 5th Lord, 143-147
Battles: Adwalton Moor, 193-195
Battles: Agincourt, 124, 137, 148
Battles: Bannockburn, 83, 103
Battles: Barnet, 173
Battles: Beaujé, 149
Battles: Bloreheath, 152
Battles: Boroughbridge, 107-110
Battles: Bosworth, 174
Battles: Bramham Moor, 145-146
Battles: Brunanburgh, 13-14, 217-220
Battles: Byland Abbey, 122-128
Battles: Cressy, 124
Battles: Durham, or Neville’s Cross, 133
Battles: Ebberston, 11
Battles: Evesham, 158
Battles: Falkirk, 103
Battles: off Flamborough, 222-225
Battles: Fulford, 24
Battles: Hastings, or Senlac, 27, 37-41, 53
Battles: Hedgeley Moor, 172
Battles: Hexham, 172
Battles: Homildon, 142
Battles: Hull, 196-198
Battles: Leeds, 183-186
Battles: Marston Moor, 202
Battles: Mortimer’s Cross, 162-163
Battles: Myton Meadows, 95-98
Battles: Northampton, 154
Battles: Otterburn, 135
Battles: Pavia, 137
Battles: Radcot Bridge, 139
Battles: Sandal, or Wakefield-Green, 157-162
Battles: Selby, 199-201
Battles: Shrewsbury, 142
Battles: St. Albans (first), 150-151
Battles: St. Albans (second), 164-165
Battles: Stamford Bridge, 15, 25-34
Battles: Standard, the, 51
Battles: Stoke, 137, 174
Battles: Tadcaster, 180-182
Battles: Tewkesbury, 173
Battles: Towton, 166-172
Battles: Wakefield, 188-191
Battles: Winwidfield, 8-10
Beaumont, Captn., 185
Bellasis, Col., 199-202
Benedict, a rich Jew of York, 77
Benson, Captn.-Lieut., 189
Beorne, Earl, 43
Bernefield, Sir Roger, 110
Berwick, 83-93, 103, 130, 144
Beverley, 128, 134, 148, 178, 196
Blanche Nef, 54
Bland, Sir Thomas, 189
Blount, Sir Thomas, 156
Bonville, William, 1st Lord, 165
Boroughbridge, 84, 95, 107-111, 114-115, 117, 128, 204
Bourchier, Edward, 161
Bosworth, Battle of, 174
Bradburne, Henry de, 113
Bradford, 181, 183, 188, 190, 192, 194
Bramham Moor, 145
Brember, Sir Nicholas, 139
Brian, son of Earl Alan Fergan, 55
Bridlington, 127, 187, 221
Bright, Col., 200
Bruce, Robert, Earl of Annandale, 64-66
Bruce, Robert, Earl of Carrick and King of Scotland, 83-85, 91-92, 106, 117-125, 128-130
Bruce, David, King of Scotland, 133
Buchan, Earl of, 149
Buckingham, Duchess of, 152
Buckingham, Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of, 150-151
Burgh, Hubert de, 79
Burgh-on-Sands, 81, 102
Byland Abbey, 118, 122-127, 130
Cadwalla, King of the West Britons, 7
Cambridge, Richard Plantagenet, 4th Earl of, 148
Canterbury, Wm. Corbois, Archbishop of, 57
Canterbury, Thos. Fitz-Alan (alias Arundel), Archbishop of, 140
Canterbury, Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of, 155
Canute, King of England, 18, 41
Carlisle, 49, 58, 70-73, 128-130
Carmichael, Sir John, 149
Carnabie, Sergt.-Major, 189
Carr, Major, 179
Carr, Sergt.-Major, 189
Carr, Captn., 189
Carr, Ensign, 189
Chapter of Mitton, 98
Charles I., King of England, 177-179, 203
Cheney, William, 113
Chop Head Loaning, 115
Cinque Ports, 85
Clarence, Thomas Plantagenet, 2nd Duke of, 148-149
Clarence, George Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of, 159, 174
Clay, Thomas, 152
Clifford, Sir Roger, 110
Clifford, Thomas de Clifford, 8th Lord, 150-151
Clifford, John de Clifford, 9th Lord, 158-162, 166
Clinton, John de Clinton, 5th Lord, 152
Cobham, Sir Ralph, 125
Cock, River, 170
Coifi, a pagan priest 5-6
Colt, Thomas, 152
Constable of England (Duke of Northumberland), 141
Constable, Sir Robert, 175
Constantine, King of Scotland, 217-219
Conway Castle, 141
Conyers, Sir John, 152
Copeland, John, Esquire, 133
Cornwall, Piers de Gaveston, Earl of, 81-82, 100-102
Cospatrick, 4th Earl of Northumberland, 44, 52
Coventry, 140, 152
Crab, John, a Flemish engineer, 88-90
Croft, Captn., 189
Cromwell, John de, 127,
Cromwell, Oliver, 196, 206, 208-213, 215
Cuichelm, King of the West Saxons, 4
Cumin, William, Chancellor of Scotland, 73
Dacres, Ralph, 1st Lord, 171
Dacres Sir Francis, 214
Dalkeith Castle, 135
Danthorpe, Matthew, hermit, 141
Darcy, Thomas, 1st Lord, 175
David I., King of Scotland, 55, 58-60, 63, 64-65, 71-72
David II., King of Scotland, 133
Dedington Castle, 81
Deira-field, Castle of, 11
Denman, Sir John, 168
Denton, Sir Richard de, 129
Derwent, River, 3, 127
Despenser, Sir Hugh, 112, 113, 127, 129
Despenser, Hugh, Earl of Winchester, 112, 113, 127, 129
Devonshire, Thomas Courtenay, 14th Earl of, 171
Devonshire, Humphrey Stafford, 15th Earl of, 173
Doncaster, 7, 140, 172
Douglas, Sir James, 83-84, 91-93, 95-96, 102, 105-106, 119, 125-126, 132
Douglas, James, Earl of, 135-136
Douglas Archibald (Tine-man) Earl of, 142
Durham, Geoffrey Ruffus, Bishop of, 73
Durham, 47-49, 52, 58, 144
Edgar Atheling, 20, 43, 49
Edward, the Confessor, King of England, 16-20, 59
Edward I., King of England, 80, 81, 83, 85, 102, 112
Edward II., King of England, 81, 83-88, 90, 92-93, 100-107, 111-112, 117-118, 120-121, 124, 126-127, 128, 130
Edward III., King of England, 131-133, 135
Edward IV., King of England, 163, 165-174
Edward V., King of England, 174
Edward VI., King of England, 175
Edwin, King of Northumbria, 3-8
Edwin Earl of Northumbria, 17, 19, 21, 23-25, 52
Egbert, Archbishop of York, 44
Ella, Usurper of Northumbria, 12-13
Ely, John Hotham, Bishop of, 98
Espec, Walter l’, 61, 66
Exeter, Henry Holland, 4th Duke of, 156, 164
Fairfax, Ferdinand, 2nd Lord, 179-187, 193-197, 199-200, 202-206
Fairfax, Sir Thomas, 179-202, 206, 210-211
Fairfax, Sir William, 184-185, 188, 190-191
Fauconberg, William Neville, 7th Lord, 167-168
Fitz-John, Eustace, 63-73
Fleming, Nicholas, Mayor of York, 92-95, 98
Foulis, Sir Henry, 188, 190-191
Gaunt, John of, 2nd Duke of Lancaster, 140-141
Gaveston, Piers de, 81-82, 100-102, 113
Gifford, Major-General John, 181, 188, 190-191, 193-194
Glemham, Sir Thomas, 179
Gloucester, Robert, 1st Earl of, 55-56, 75
Gloucester, Thomas Plantagenet, 1st Duke of, 135
Gloucester, Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of, 159, 174
Goring, Lord George, 183, 187, 188-189, 191, 206-207
Hanson, Richard, Mayor of Hull, 159
Harcla, Sir Andrew, 1st Earl of Carlisle, 107-108, 110, 114-115, 128-130
Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, 15, 21-32
Harold, King of England, 15-18, 20-23, 26-29, 31-37, 39-41, 43
Henrietta, Queen of Charles I., 187
Henry I., King of England, 53-58
Henry II., King of England, 75-76
Henry III., King of England, 79-80, 101
Henry IV., King of England, 141-144, 155, 164-165
Henry V., King of England, 137, 148, 153, 155
Henry VI., King of England, 150-155, 160, 165, 171-173
Henry VII., King of England, 174-175
Henry VIII., King of England, 175-176
Henry, Prince, of Scotland, 63, 65, 69-70, 72
Hereford, Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl of, 100, 105-106, 109-110, 114
Hereford, Henry Plantagenet, 1st Duke of, 139-141
Hereward le Wake, 42, 48, 52
Hessay Moor, 204
Hinguar, a Danish chief 12-13
Holland, Sir John, 13th Earl of Huntingdon and 1st Duke of Exeter, 134-135;
Hotham, Sir John, 177-178, 187, 192, 195
Hotham, Captn. John, 183, 187, 190, 192
Houghton, Sir Gilbert, 208
Hubba, a Danish chief, 12, 13
Hull, Kingston-upon-, 80, 140, 175, 177-178, 187, 192, 195, 199, 225
Hungerford, Robert, 3rd Lord, 155, 172
Ireland, Robert Vere, Ninth Earl of Oxford, and First Duke of, 139
Isabella, Queen of Edward II., 92, 103-104, 131
John, King of England, 78, 79
John, Prince, First Duke of Bedford, 143
Jones, Paul, 221-225
Keith, Sir William, of Galston, 84
Kent, Edmund Plantagenet, Fourth Earl of, 127
Kyriel, Sir Thomas, 165
Lacy, Ilbert de, 61
Lancaster, Thomas Plantagenet, Second Earl of, 100-101, 104-114, 116, 129
Lancaster, John of Gaunt, Second Duke of, 140-141
Lancaster, Henry Plantagenet, Third Duke of, 141
Leeds, 6, 183-185, 187-189, 195
Leeds Castle, Kent, 103-104
Leven, Earl of, 199, 206
Lincoln, John de la Pole, Ninth Earl of, 137, 174
London, 20, 57, 147, 154, 163-165, 178, 189
Longchamp, William, Bishop of Ely, 178
Lucas, Sir Charles, 206-207, 214
MacDonoquhy, William, 64, 65
Malcolm III., King of Scotland, 21, 47, 50
Malcolm IV., King of Scotland, 76
Malcolm II., King of Scotland, 76
Malise, Earl of Strathearn, 65
Manchester, Earl of, 202, 205-206, 209-211
March, Edmund Mortimer, Fifth Earl of, 148
March, Edward, Titulary Earl of, 152-153, 156-157, 159, 162-163, 165
Margaret of Anjou, 150-151, 154-155, 159-160, 164, 167, 171-173
Matilda, daughter of Henry I., 55-58, 75
Matilda, Queen of Stephen, 73
Meldrum, Sir John, 178, 197, 200
Melton, William de, Archbishop of York, 92-94, 96, 98
Montacute, John Neville, First Marquis of, 173
Morkar, First Earl of Northumberland, 17-18, 21, 23, 24-25, 52
Mortimer, Edmund, Fifth Earl of March, 142
Mowbray, Roger de Mowbray, Second Lord de, 61
Mowbray, John de Mowbray, Second Lord de, 113, 114
Mowbray, Thomas de, Sixth Lord, 143-144
Newcastle, 58, 76, 81, 85, 135, 171
Newcastle, Marquis of, 180-182, 186, 192-194, 196-199, 202, 204, 207, 209, 212
Newport, Earl, 178
Norfolk, Thomas, Baron Mowbray, First Duke of, 139-140
Norfolk, John Mowbray, Third Duke of, 150
Norfolk, John Mowbray, Fourth Duke of, 165, 169-170
Northampton, 17, 18, 19, 154
Northumberland, Henry Percy, Twelfth Earl of, 140-147
Northumberland, Henry Percy, Thirteenth Earl of, 150-151
Northumberland, Henry Percy, Fourteenth Earl of, 157, 161, 164, 168, 171
Northumberland, Henry Percy, Sixteenth Earl of, 175
Northumberland, Thomas Percy, Nineteenth Earl of, 176
Nottingham, 92, 179
Nowel, Ralph, Titular Bishop of Orkney, 61, 66
Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, 39, 48-49
Ormond, Earl of, 171
Osbert, King of Northumbria, 12-13
Osred I., King of Northumbria, 11
Oswy, King of Northumbria, 8-10
Otho, Archbishop of Canterbury, 218
Parkinson, the Rev. Thomas, F.R.H.S., 151
Pearson, Captain, 222-225
Pembroke, Aylmer de Valence, Tenth Earl of, 124
Pembroke, Jasper Tudor, Sixteenth Earl of, 162
Pembroke, William Herbert, Seventeenth Earl of, 173
Penda, King of Mercia, 7-11
Percy, Sir Henry, K. G., “Hotspur,” 135-136, 142-143
Philippa, Queen, 132-133, 135
Phillips, Mrs S. K., 115
Pole, de la, Sir William, 137
Pole, de la, Sir Richard, 137
Pole, de la, Michael, First Earl of Suffolk, 137
Pole, de la, Michael, Second Earl of Suffolk, 137
Pole, de la, Michael, Third Earl of Suffolk, 137
Pole, de la, William, Fourth Earl and First Duke of Suffolk, 137
Pole, de la, John, Second Duke of Suffolk, 137
Pole, de la, John, Ninth Earl of Lincoln, 137
Pole, de la, Edmund, Fifth Earl of Suffolk, 137
Pole, de la, Richard, Titulary Duke of Suffolk, 137
Pontefract, 111, 113, 141, 157, 162, 174
Porter, General, 207, 214
Powis, Lord, 152-153
Randolph, Thomas, Earl of Moray, 83-84, 91-93, 95-96, 102, 105-106, 116, 119, 125-126
Richard I., King of England, 76-78
Richard II., King of England, 133-136, 139-141, 147
Richard III., King of England, 137
Richmond, John de Dreux, Ninth Earl of, 124, 127-128
Rivers, Richard Widvile, First Lord, 153
Rivers, Anthony Widvile, Second Lord, 174
Robert, Earl (Robert Comyn, Third Earl of Northumberland), 43
Robert, Earl (Robert de Mowbray, Eighth Earl of Northumberland) 50-51
Robert, Duke of Normandy, 53-54, 56
Rokeby, Sir Thomas, 145-146, 148
Roos, Thomas de Roos, Tenth Lord, 164
Rupert, Prince, 202, 215
Rutland, Edmund Plantagenet, Titulary Duke of, 152, 159-162
Salisbury, Richard Neville, Eighth Earl of, 150-153, 156-157, 159, 161-162, 171
Savile, Sir William, of Thornhill, 183-185
Scales, Thomas de Scales, Seventh Lord, 154-156
Scarborough, 23, 81, 134, 221-222, 225
Scroop, Jeffrey de, Chief Justiciary, 129
Scroop, Henry le Scroop, of Masham, Third Lord, 148
Shrewsbury, John Talbot, Fifth Earl of, 164, 171
Siward, Earl of Northumbria, 15-16, 47
Somerset, Edmund de Beaufort, Second Duke of, 150-151
Somerset, Henry de Beaufort, Fifth Earl of, 153-154, 156-157, 161, 164, 168, 172
Stafford, Humphrey de Stafford, Fifth Earl, 150-151
Stafford, Henry, First Lord, 176
Stephen, King of England, 51, 56, 57-58, 61, 75
Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, 20
Sulley, Sir Henry de, 127, 130
Tadcaster, 26, 31, 179, 187, 206
Thurstan, Archbishop of York, 61, 62
Tilliard, General, 214
Tosti Godwinsson, Earl of Northumbria, 15-17, 19-23, 25-27, 31-32
Travis-Cook, John, F.R.H.S., 137
Trollope, Sir Andrew, 152, 162, 168, 171
Tudor, Henry, Sixteenth Earl of Richmond, 174
Urrie, Sir John, 206, 207
Wakefield, 159, 161-162, 164, 183,186
Walcher of Lorraine, Bishop of Durham, Sixth Earl of Northumberland, 47, 48
Wales, Edward, Prince of, 154-155, 164, 171, 173
Waltheof Siwardsson, Fifth Earl of Northumberland, 16, 43, 45, 47-48
Ward, Sir Simon, Sheriff of Yorkshire, 107-108, 115
Warwick, Guy de Beauchamp, Eleventh Earl of, 81
Warwick, Richard Neville, Sixteenth Earl of, 150-154, 156, 164-166, 168, 173
Warwick, Edward Plantagenet, Eighteenth Earl of, 174-175
Welles, Leo de Welles, Sixth Lord, 164, 171
Westmoreland, Ralph Neville, First Earl of, 140, 143
Westmoreland, Charles Neville, Sixth Earl of, 176
Widvile, Sir Anthony, 153
William, Duke of Normandy, 19-20, 23, 35-41
William I., King of England, 44-49, 51-54, 59
William II. (Rufus), King of England, 49-53
William, son of Robert Duke of Normandy, 53-56
William, son of Henry I., 54-55
Willoughby, Richard Welles, Seventh Lord, 164
Willoughby, of Parham, Lord, 196
Wiltshire, James Butler, Second Earl of, 171
Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester, 20
York, 1, 16-17, 25-26, 43-47, 75-81, 92-94, 126-127, 131-133, 135, 144, 171, 202-205, 213
York, Walter de Grey, Archbishop of, 139
York, Richard Scroop, Archbishop of, 143-144
York, Edward Plantagenet, First Duke of, 135
York, Richard Plantagenet, Fifth Duke of, 174
York, Richard Plantagenet, Eighth Duke of, 137, 150-152, 154-162, 171
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Early Religious Plays: being the Story of the English Stage in its Church Cradle Days—The Caistor Gad-Whip Manorial Service—Strange Serpent Stories—Church Ales—Rush-Bearing—Fish in Lent—Concerning Doles—Church Scrambling Charities—Briefs—Bells and Beacons for Travellers by Night—Hour Glasses in Churches—Chained Books in Churches—Funeral Effigies—Torch-light Burials—Simple Memorials of the Early Dead—The Romance of Parish Registers—Dog Whippers and Sluggard Wakers—Odd Items from Old Accounts—An Index of six closely-printed pages.
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North Country Poets:
POEMS AND BIOGRAPHIES
Of Natives or Residents of Northumberland,
Cumberland, Westmoreland, Durham,
Lancashire, and Yorkshire.
WILLIAM ANDREWS, F.R.H.S.
In Vol. I. Biographies and Examples of the best Poetry of the following are included:—James Armstrong, William E. A. Axon, Mrs. Geo. Linnaeus Banks, Geo. Linnaeus Banks, A. A. D. Bayldon, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, H. T. Mackenzie Bell, Ben Brierley, William Brockie, James Burnley, Joseph Baron, W. Hall Burnett, W. Gershom Collingwood, Samuel Collinson, James Clephan, Arthur Hugh Clough, Rev. E. G. Charlesworth, Joseph Cooper, Sir Francis Hastings Doyle, Thomas Parkinson Dotchson, J. H. Eccles, Rev. Robert W. Elliot, M.A.; C. F. Forshaw, Dora Greenwell, Lord Houghton, Patty Honeywood, Henry Heavisides, David Holt, Florence Jackson, Robert Kidson, George Lancaster, William Leighton, George Milner, James Ashcroft Noble, Thomas Newbigging, W. C. Newsam, Mrs. Susan K. Phillips, Jno. Macleay Peacock, Rev. W. Morley Punshon, LL.D.; John Richardson, John Duncan Richardson, Joseph Skipsey, Sir Henry Taylor, W. W. Tomlinson, William Tirebuck, Samuel Waddington, Aaron Watson, William Watson, Jno. Rowell Waller, Edwin Waugh, Joe Wilson.
In Vol. II. Biographies and Examples of the best Poetry of the following are included:—Rev. Richard Abbay, M.A.; Richard Abbot, John Thomas Barker, John Thomas Baron, Bernard Batigan, William Billington, Anthony Buckle, B.A.; Thomas Burns, The Earl of Carlisle, George Cotterell, C. W. Craven, Canon Dixon, M.A.; Jno. Emmet, F.L.S.; Rev. James Gabb, M.A.; Rev. A. Vine Hall, Jno. Harbottle, G. R. Hedley, Jno. Holland, Fred Holmes, Allison Hughes, George Hull, J. W. Inchbold, Rev. J. W. Kaye, Richard Le Gallienne, Thomas W. Little, Alfred Lishman, Wm. Longstaff, Rev. J. Bernard M’Govern, H. Ernest Nichol, Fred Pratt, Ben Preston, Joseph Readman, William Renton, J. Ryley Robinson, LL.D.; J. P. Robson, John Sewart, Abraham Stansfield, Alfred T. Story, Mrs. Tonkin, J. R. Tutin, Jno. Walker, R. Spence-Watson, LL.D.; Mrs. Laura A. Whitworth, Geo. Oswald Wight.
“It is a really excellent repository of the best local poetry of the Northern Counties, the specimens being selected with sound judgment, and the pithy biographies being in the case of each poet supplied by some writer well situated to obtain original and reliable information.”—Lancashire Evening Post.
“Mr. Andrews has not only achieved success, but deserved it.”—Eastern Morning News.
“All lovers of English literature will eagerly welcome this work.”—York Gazette.
“It is really a handsome and interesting book. It is a permanent addition to the literature of the North Country.”—Newcastle Weekly Chronicle.
“The biographical sketches are interesting in the extreme.”—Sheffield Daily Telegraph.
“The memoirs are exceedingly well done, and the sample pieces have been chosen with sound critical judgment.”—Christian Leader.
London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Limited.
Hull: William Andrews & Co., Hull Press.
F’cap 4to. Bevelled boards, gilt tops, Price 4s.
FAMOUS FROSTS AND FROST FAIRS IN GREAT BRITAIN.
Chronicled from the Earliest to the Present Time.
By WILLIAM ANDREWS, F.R.H.S.,
Author of “Curiosities of the Church,” “Old-Time
Only 400 copies printed, each copy numbered, and only 50 remain on sale. Three curious full-page illustrations.
This work furnishes a carefully prepared account of all the great Frosts occurring in this country from A.D. 134 to 1887. The numerous Frost Fairs on the Thames are fully described, and illustrated with quaint woodcuts, and several old ballads relating to the subject are reproduced. It is tastefully printed and elegantly bound.
The following are a few of the many favourable reviews of “Famous Frosts and Frost Fairs.”
“The work is thoroughly well written, it is careful in its facts, and may be pronounced exhaustive on the subject. Illustrations are given of several frost fairs on the Thames, and as a trustworthy record this volume should be in every good library. The usefulness of the work is much enhanced by a good index.”—Public Opinion.
“The book is beautifully got up.”—Barnsley Independent.
“A very interesting volume.”—Northern Daily Telegraph.
“A great deal of curious and valuable information is contained in these pages.... A comely volume.”—Literary World.
“The work from first to last is a most attractive one, and the arts alike of printer and binder have been brought into one to give it a pleasing form.”—Wakefield Free Press.
“An interesting and valuable work.”—West Middlesex Times.
“Not likely to fail in interest.”—Manchester Guardian.
“This chronology has been a task demanding extensive research and considerable labour and patience, and Mr. Andrews is to be heartily congratulated on the result.”—Derby Daily Gazette.
“A volume of much interest and great importance.”—Rotherham Advertiser.
HULL: WILLIAM ANDREWS & CO., THE HULL PRESS.
Elegantly bound in cloth gilt, crown 8vo., price 4s.
YORKSHIRE IN OLDEN TIMES.
Edited by WILLIAM ANDREWS, F.R.H.S.
This work consists of a series of carefully written papers, reprinted from the Wakefield Free Press and other Journals.
An Outline History of Yorkshire. By Thomas Frost. The Cow-Devil: A Legend of Craven. By William Brockie. The First Anglo-Saxon Poet. By John H. Leggott, F.R.H.S. The Battle of Brunanburgh. By Frederick Ross, F.R.H.S. Old Customs at York. By George Benson. Elizabethan Gleanings. By Aaron Watson. The Fight for the Hornsea Fishery. By T. Tindall Wildridge. Folk Assemblies. By John Nicholson. Quaint Gleanings from the Parish Register-Chest of Kirkby Wharfe. By the Rev. Richard Wilton, M.A. The Wakefield Mysteries. By William Henry Hudson. A Biographical Romance. By William Andrews, F.R.H.S. Some Scraps and Shreds of Yorkshire Superstitions. By W. Sydney, F.R.S.L. The Salvation of Holderness. By Frederick Ross, F.R.H.S. Yorkshire Fairs and Festivals. By Thomas Frost. James Nayler, the Mad Quaker who claimed to be the Messiah. By William Andrews, F.R.H.S. Duke Ricard’s Doom: A Legend of Sandal Castle. By Edward Lamplough. Obsolete Industries of the East Riding. By John Nicholson. Bolton Abbey: Its History and Legends. By Alfred Chamberlain, B.A. To Bolton Abbey. By the Rev. E. G. Charlesworth.
A CAREFULLY COMPILED INDEX.
Opinions of the Press.
The following are extracted from a number of favourable reviews of
“Yorkshire in the Olden Times.”
The Bury Free Press says: “The volume is one of wide and varied interest, which will secure for it readers in all parts of the country.”
The Shields Daily Gazette states: “The work consists of a series of articles contributed by various authors, and it thus has the merit of bringing together much special knowledge from a great number of sources. It is an entertaining volume, full of interest for the general reader, as well as for the learned and curious.”
The Hornsea Gazette concludes its notice by saying: “The work is one which cannot fail to instruct and entertain the reader.”
It is pronounced by the Hull Examiner “a most readable and well-bound volume.”
Says the Malton Gazette: “Unlike many books akin to it, this work contains nothing not of permanent and exclusive worth, and Mr. Andrews’ latest book is one which the future historian of the shire of many acres will be glad to avail himself of.”
The Christian Leader finishes a long and favourable review as follows: “The volume is one of diversified interest, likely to find readers in other parts of the country as well as in the great province to which it has particular reference.”
The Edition is limited to 400 copies, and only a few remain on sale.
An early application for copies necessary.