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Of Bishop Waynflete to the Time of his being made Lord High Chancellor of England.
SECT. I.HENRY VI. had succeeded
his father and grandfather,
and been crowned at Westminster and Paris; but his title to the throne was exceptionable; and the duke of York, great grandson of the elder brother of the duke of Lancaster, from whom Henry was descended, privately waited for an opportunity to wrest the diadem from his brow. At the same time, the affairs of France no longer prospering under his administration, contributed to produce dissatisfaction among the people, and to promote disaffection to his govern
The royal presence being deemed necessary on the continent, Waynflete, by mandate on the 20th of January 1449, required
• See Blackstone's Commentaries, 1. i. c. 3.
the clergy and laity of his diocese to pray on certain days for the church, the king, and realm of England; for the preservation and defence of the king in his expedition beyond sea; and for a sudden and undelayed cessation of mortality and pestilence; to propitiate the Most High by solemn processions and suffrages, and by works of piety; that wars and dissensions might end, and in their stead, tranquillity and prosperity prevail in the beauty of peace; granting an indulgence of forty days to all who should repent of their sins, be confessed, and attend on this urgent occasion.
Suffolk, after the surrender of Caen by the duke of Somerset, and the expulsion of the English from their ancient possessions in France, could no longer be protected by his party, but was tried for high treason, sentenced to banishment, waylaid, and murdered. The discontent which had been sown in the nation was now ripening to produce. a civil war, which constitutes a long and most calamitous period in the history of England.
SECT. II. A PRETENDED heir of the house of York, an Irishman, whose name was Cade, headed
headed about this time an insurrection in Kent; and after defeating the king's general, who was slain, encamped on Blackheath, declaring he was come to assist the parliament at Westminster in reforming the administration, and removing Somerset and other persons from the royal presence. The citizens of London admitted him within the walls in the daytime; but the insolence of his followers and their outrages becoming intolerable, they shut the gates on his marching into the fields in the evening, as usual, and resolved to attack him in the night. Lord Scales, governor of the Tower, sent them a detachment of the garrison; and Cade, after a bloody conflict on the bridge, was driven beyond the Stoop in Southwark. The bishop of Winchester, who was shut up in Halywell castle, being summoned to attend a council in the Tower, where archbishop Stafford, lord high chancellor, had taken refuge, was of opinion, they might win over by hopes of pardon, those whom they could not easily subdue by force of arms; and that to avoid fighting would be the most effectual way to defeat the traitor. The two prelates, with other lords, on the following day crossed the water, and held in St. Margaret's church
a conference with Cade and his principal officers. A general pardon under the great seal proved, as the bishop had foreseen, so welcome, that the dispersion began the same night. The king, who had repaired for safety to Kenilworth, was respectfully received by the archbishop and Waynflete at Canterbury, where a council ordered a proclamation to be issued (15th of July, 1450,) for apprehending Cade. The real heir of York was suspected of abetting this rebellion, to try the bias of the people. The justice of his claim to the crown became, on his return from Ireland, a topic of popular discussion; and the fierce contest between the two houses, distinguished by red and white roses, was evidently about to commence.
SECT. III. THE favour of king Henry, as it conferred on Waynflete an active part in the previous measures of administration, so it was likely to entail on him a large portion in the consequences of civil discord. That he had early experience of the animosity of the Yorkists, or was jealous of their designs,
Budden, p. 68. He cites Hall. W. Wyrcestre Annal. p. 472. Lib. Nig. Scacc. Hearne, 1728. Baker Chron. p. 191. Stow. Parliamentary History of England, vol. ii.
Budden, p. 69. Rymer, t. xi. p. 275.
and uneasy in his situation, may be collected from an instrument dated the 7th of May, 1451, which sets forth, that in a certain lofty room, commonly called Le peynted chambre, in his manor house of Southwark, and in the presence of a notary public, and of the bishops of Bangor and Achonry (the latter the suffragan of bishop Bekyngton), who were desired to be witnesses, he appeared, holding in his hands a writing, which he read before them, and in which he alleged that his bishopric was obtained canonically; that he had peaceable possession of it; that his reputation was without blemish; that he laboured under no disqualification, and was ever ready to obey the law; but that probable causes and conjectures made him fear some grievous attempt to the prejudice of himself and sce; and to prevent any person from giving him disturbance in the premises, in any manner, on
Registr. Waynflete, t.i. p. 2. f. 11.
e The episcopal palace of Winchester was in Southwark, on the bank of the Thames, near the west end of St. Mary Overie's church. Southwark park, otherwise Winchester park, comprises about sixty acres of ground, and is covered (1783) with several thousand houses, many extensive factories, and a variety of other buildings; the ground or quit rents annually £450.
f Registr. Bekyngton.