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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 290



May the second, a small boat carne alongside, in which was a block, a rusty sword, and an executioner. The Duke was lowered into it, and the man telling him that he should die like a traitor, at the sixth stroke struck off his head. According to the Paston Letters, his body was placed on the sands at Dover, and watched by the Sheriff of Kent, till the King ordered it to be delivered to his widow, by whom it was honourably interred in the collegiate church of Wingflcld, in Suffolk. This tragical event deeply distressed the King and Queen, and increased the excitement of the public mind. Pestilence, scarcity, and the violent harangues of political partizans had already rendered the nation ripe for rebellion. Outbursts had been threatened in several counties ; and the men of Kent now heard with alarm and indignation the repeated rumours that the Queen intended to take signal vengeance upon them for having furnished the ships which intercepted her murdered friend and minister, Suffolk. The crisis was a favourable one for designing demagogues ; and an Irish adventurer, whose real name was Jack Cade, but who had assumed that of Mortimer, cousin to the Duke of York, unfurled the standard of insurrection in Kent, always a turbulent county. Taking up the popular outcry against the Queen and her minister, Cade set himself up as a redresser of public grievances ; and partly by his own rude but plausible talents, and partly from the charm of the popular name he had assumed, he speedily found himself at the head of twenty thousand men, with whom he marched to Blackheath. The insurrection appearing formidable, the King sent to know the wishes of the insurgents. Their leader answered, that they had no ill design on the King's person ; that their intention was to petition parliament that the evil ministers might be punished, as being the principal authors of the loss of Normandy. In a few days afterwards they presented their petition, which was to the same effect, and also demanded that the King's council should be filled with Princee of the blood, and other pru dent and judicious persons, and not with profligate men of vicious principles and manners, incapable of managing the affairs of the state. These petitions were rejected ; and the King determining to put down the insurrection by force of arms, marched against the rebel band with an army of fifteen thousand men. On his approach, Jack Cade retired, and lay in ambush in a wood near Sevcnoaks ; the King would have pursued him to his retreat, but the Queen, who accompanied her royal lord in this his first essay in arms, overcome by fears for his personal safety, prevailed on him to return with her to London, and resign the command of his army tq Sir Humphrey Stafford. A fatal error, for the rebels attributed the King's weakness to fear ; and when pursued by a detachment of royalists under Sit Humphrey, they took courage, routed the detachment with great slaughter, and killed the commander as well as his brother. The rebels now returned to lilackheath in triumph ; and Cade, attired in the " brigandcrs set wyth gilded nails, hys salct and gilded spurs" of the slaughtered Sir Humphrey, marched towards London without opposition, whilst the King and Queen hastily fled to Kenilworth, leaving a garison in the Tower under the command of Lord Scales. This flight of the King and his court, impolitic as it was cowardly, has been attributed to the Queen's weakness by some writers; but this is mere conjecture. The city of London opened her gates to the rebels ; Cade entered in triumph at the head of his troops, and pausing beside the London Stone, smote it with his sword, exclaiming, "Now is Mortimer King of London !" He took up his residence in Southwai'k, preserved strict discipline amongst his troops, prohibited them under the severest penalties from doing injury to the inhabitants, and each evening led them back in order into the Borough. On the second day he caused the mayor and the judges to sit in Guildhall, and having obtained possession of the lord treasurer, Lord Say, arraigned him before them. Lord Say pleaded the privilege of the peerage,


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