Story of the English - Helene Guerber
Warwick, not satisfied with reducing the Lancastrians to poverty and placing his nephew upon the throne, now began to scheme to make the king marry some great princess. But while he was trying to find a royal bride for Edward, the latter suddenly married a beautiful widow named Elizabeth Woodville. This step made Warwick angry, and when he saw that the new queen's father, brothers, sisters, and numerous other relatives had been given all the most important places at court, and were behaving with great insolence, he was indignant.
The king's brother, the Duke of Clarence, now married Warwick's daughter; and, helped by him and by Richard of Gloucester, Warwick began to plan his revenge. He formed a plot to place Henry VI. on the throne again, instead of Edward, provided Henry's son should marry Warwick's other daughter.
Queen Margaret and her son gladly consented to this, and in 1470 Warwick landed in England with a large army to take the throne away from Edward. Many of the noblemen, who were jealous of the Woodvilles, now joined Warwick, and Edward IV., seeing it was useless to try to resist, made his escape on a fishing vessel. His wife, Elizabeth, was too ill to go with him, so she took refuge in a church, where her son, the future Edward V., was born.
As soon as Warwick reached London, Henry was dragged out of prison, and made king once more by the very man who had helped crown his enemy. But he was not to reign long, for the Yorkists, regaining courage and being led by Edward IV., won the victory of Barnet. In this battle Warwick the "kingmaker," the last of the great barons who used to lead their vassals to war, was killed. With his death the age of chivalry was over.
The Duke of Clarence basely deserted Warwick at the last minute, and joined his brother, who forgave him for his rebellion. Warwick was closely followed by Queen Margaret with another army. When she landed, she heard of her ally's defeat and death; but, seeing it was too late to withdraw, she pressed onward.
The Lancastrians and Yorkists met for their last battle at Tewkesbury, where the former were defeated, and where Margaret and her son both fell into the hands of Edward IV. King Edward then angrily asked the prince how he dared come into his kingdom in arms.
"I came to recover my father's kingdom," proudly answered the young prince. But these words made Edward so angry that he struck the youth. This was enough for the Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester; they immediately drew their daggers and murdered their captive. Poor Queen Margaret was thrust into prison, but after lingering there five years, she was ransomed by her father, who sold all his estates to free her.
Edward IV., having won the battle of Tewkesbury, went back to London in triumph. On the next day, Henry VI., the last of the three Lancastrian kings, was found dead in his prison.
Although he had won back his throne, Edward IV. was not very happy. As he was always afraid lest some one should try to snatch the power from him, he hired ever so many spies to watch the princes and report all they said. Then, hoping to recover France, he collected a large army; but when he got over there, instead of making use of it, he concluded a disgraceful peace. When he came home, Gloucester, envious of his brother the Duke of Clarence, poisoned the king's mind against him. This was easy, for the behaviour of Clarence was such as to anger a king who liked to have his own way.
Some say that the king's suspicion of him came from an old prophecy that a man whose name began with G should kill the king's children. However this may be, George, Duke of Clarence, was soon arrested, tried by Parliament, found guilty of treason, and condemned to die. We are told that, being given his choice, Clarence begged to be drowned in a butt of malmsey, his favourite wine.
After Clarence's death, Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, was the most influential man at court, and he encouraged the king to be very cruel and tyrannical. Under the Lancasters, and indeed ever since the time of Edward II., Parliament had had much power, and England was what is called a constitutional monarchy, or a kingdom ruled by fixed laws. But under the Yorks the power of Parliament grew less and less, and the monarchy became almost absolute; that is to say, the king did just as he pleased.
KING EDWARD IV. VISITING CAXTON'S PRESS.
Great changes were brought about at this time by the introduction of printing by Caxton. This man had learned printing on the Continent, and he brought the first press to London. Among the first books which he printed was The Game and Playe of the Chesse, for people were then very fond of that game.