David Bruce: John Ford’s PERKIN WARBECK: A Retelling — Act 3, Scenes 3-4

— 3.3 —

King Henry VII, Pedro Hialas, and Christopher Urswick talked together in the palace at Westminster.

Many countries took an interest in the King Henry VII-Perkin Warbeck conflict. France had invaded Italy, and Spain, Venice, and the Holy Roman Emperor hoped that King Henry VII of England would join them in their opposition to France. In addition, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain were hoping to marry their daughter Katherine of Aragon to Prince Arthur, King Henry VII’s oldest son. Because of that, they wanted Henry VII to keep his crown.

“Your name is Pedro Hialas, and you are a Spaniard?” King Henry VII asked.

“Sir, I am a Castilian born,” he replied.

In 1469, Ferdinand married Isabella. He was the heir to the King of Aragon, and in 1469 she became the Queen of Castile. In 1479, Ferdinand’s father died, and the two kingdoms became unified and Ferdinand and Isabella became the first monarchs to rule a unified Spain. Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon are collectively known in history as the Catholic Monarchs.

“King Ferdinand and wise Queen Isabel, his royal consort, have written that you are a man worthy of trust and candor. Heaven holds dear princes who meet with subjects who are sincere in their employments. Your recommendation, sir, declares you to be such a subject.

“Let me declare how joyful I consider the amity and friendship I have with your most fortunate master, who almost seems to have experienced a miracle in his success against the Moors, who had devoured his country, but which is now entirely under the control of his scepter.”

In 1492, Spain became completely under the rule of Ferdinand and Isabella.

King Henry VII continued, “We, for our part, will imitate his foresight in governing, in hope of sharing in his success in governing.

“We attribute the secrecy of his advice to us by you, who are intended to be an ambassador to Scotland, to create a peace between our kingdoms, to be a policy of love, which well becomes His wisdom and our care.”

Pedro Hialas was being sent to Scotland in an attempt to turn King James IV against Perkin Warbeck, but he had first stopped to secretly meet with King Henry VII, a secret meeting that Henry VII told Pedro Hialas that he attributed to King Ferdinand’s concern for him and for the two Kingdoms.

“Your majesty understands him rightly,” Pedro Hialas said.

King Henry VII replied, “If not, your knowledge can instruct me, wherein, sir, to have recourse to ceremony would seem useless, which we shall not need, for I will be as studious of your concealment in our secret meeting as any council shall advise. I will be very careful not to reveal that we have met.”

Any kind of ceremony would make public Pedro Hialas’ visit to the court of King James IV.

“Then, sir, my chief request is that on notice sent by me when I am in Scotland, you will send some learned man of power and experience to join in negotiations with me,” Pedro Hialas said.

“I shall do it, being that way well provided by a servant who may attend you always,” King Henry VII said.

Events would show that the servant would be Richard Fox, the Bishop of Durham.

Pedro Hialas said, “If King James IV of Scotland, by any roundabout or devious means, should perceive my coming near your court, I fear the outcome of my employment. I am afraid that if King James IV knows that I have met with you, then my negotiations with him will fail.”

“Don’t be your own herald,” King Henry VII said. “I learn sometimes without a teacher.”

He meant that he already understood the need for secrecy: It was obvious.

“May good days guard all your princely thoughts!” Pedro Hialas said.

King Henry VII ordered, “Urswick, accompany him no further than the nearest public corridor.”

This would help keep Pedro Hialas’ visit to the court secret.

He then said to Pedro Hialas, “A hearty love go with you!”

“I am your vowed beadsman,” Pedro Hialas said.

A beadsman is a person who is paid to pray for another person. Pedro Hialas was saying that he was King Henry VII’s humble servant.

Christopher Urswick and Pedro Hialasexited.

“King Ferdinand is not so much a fox but that a cunning huntsman may in time fall on the scent,” King Henry VII said to himself. “In honorable actions safe, free-from-risk imitation best deserves a praise.”

Christopher Urswick returned, and King Henry VII asked, “Has the Castilian departed?”

“He has, and secretly — without his presence being known,” Christopher Urswick replied. “The two hundred marks your majesty conveyed to him, he gently pocketed with a very modest gravity.”

“What was it he muttered in the earnest of his wisdom?” King Henry VII said. “He spoke not to be heard; it was about …?”

“Warbeck,” Christopher Urswick answered. “How if you, King Henry VII, were only assured of the loyalty of your subjects, such a wild vagabond as Perkin Warbeck might soon be caged, with no great ado arising against his caging.”

“Nay, nay,” King Henry VII said. “He said something about my son Prince Arthur’s marriage match.”

“Right, right, sir,” Christopher Urswick replied. “He hummed and hawed it out, how that King Ferdinand swore that the marriage between the Lady Katherine of Aragon, his daughter, and the Prince of Wales, your son Arthur, should never be consummated as long as any Earl of Warwick lived in England, except by new creation.”

Edward, Earl of Warwick, was the only surviving son of George, Earl of Clarence, the brother of King Edward IV and King Richard III.

Edward, Earl of Warwick, was first cousin to King Edward V, one of the two Princes of the Tower of London who vanished in 1483, presumed murdered by their uncle, Duke Richard of York, who became King Richard III.

The Earl of Clarence was King Edward IV’s and King Richard III’s brother; therefore, many people considered Edward, Earl of Warwick, to have a better claim to the throne of England than King Henry VII. Because of this, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were leery about marrying their daughter Katherine of Aragon to King Henry VII’s oldest son, Arthur. The Spanish monarchs wanted to be sure that King Henry VII’s grasp on the English crown was secure; one way to help that happen would be if Edward, Earl of Warwick, were dead and another, newly created Earl of Warwick took his place.

Of course, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were also concerned about King James IV’s support for Perkin Warbeck. They had sent Pedro Hialas to Scotland to convince King James IV to abandon his support of Warbeck.

“I remember it was so, indeed,” King Henry VII said. “The King his master swore it?”

“That is exactly what he said,” Christopher Urswick said.

“An Earl of Warwick!” King Henry VII said.

King Henry VII was quick to make decisions; he knew that it was important to convince King James IV of Scotland to abandon his support for Perkin Warbeck.

He ordered, “Provide a messenger for letters instantly for Richard Fox, Bishop of Durham.”

The Bishop of Durham was in the north of England, preparing the border castle at Norham to resist the coming Scottish invasion.

King Henry VII added,“Our news from Scotland creeps. It comes so slowly that we must have spirits that travel quickly through the air rather than slowly on land. Our time requires dispatch.”

He then said to himself, “The Earl of Warwick! Let him be son to the Earl of Clarence, younger brother to Edward! Edward’s daughter is, I think, mother to our Prince Arthur.”

Prince Arthur was a grandson to King Edward IV, as was the Earl of Warwick. Prince Arthur’s relationship to King Edward IV was more direct than the Earl of Warwick’s, but Prince Arthur’s relationship to King Edward IV came through the female line, while the Earl of Warwick’s relationship to King Edward IV came through the male line.

Prince Arthur’s parents were King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, daughter of King Edward IV.

The Earl of Warwick’s father was the Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward IV and King Richard III.

King Henry VII ordered, “Get a messenger.”

— 3.4 —

King James IV of Scotland, Perkin Warbeck, the Earl of Crawford, Lord Dalyell, Heron, Astley, John a-Water, and Skelton met before the castle of Norham. Some soldiers were present.

King James IV and the others were besieging the castle of Norham. Inside the castle was the Bishop of Durham, who was defending it.

Norham Castle is located on the River Tweed, part of which is traditionally the boundary between England and Scotland.

“We waste time against these castle walls,” King James IV of Scotland said. “The English prelate will not surrender. Give him a summons once more.”

A trumpet sounded a distinctive call to request a meeting between the two sides.

Wearing armor, theBishop of Durham appeared on the walls of the castle, holding a truncheon that represented commandin his hand. Some English soldiers appeared with him.

“Look, the jolly clergyman appears, dressed like a ruffian!” Perkin Warbeck said.

King James IV said, “Bishopof Durham, yet set open the castle gates, and to your lawful sovereign, Richard of York — Perkin Warbeck — surrender this castle, and he will take thee to his grace. Otherwise, the Tweed River shall overflow its banks with English blood, and wash the sand that cements those hard stones from their foundation.”

The Bishop of Durham ignored Perkin Warbeck as he said, “Warlike King of Scotland, permit a few words from a man forced to lay his Bible aside, and clap on armor and weapons unsuitable to my age or my profession.

“Courageous prince, consider on what grounds you rend the face of peace, and break a league with an allied King — Henry VII — who courts your amity and friendship. And for whom do you do this? For a vagabond, a straggler, not noted in the world by birth or name, an obscure peasant, by the rage of hell loosed from his chains to set great Kings at strife.

“What nobleman, what common man of note, what ordinary subject has come in to join your side, since first you set foot on our territories, to even pretend you have a welcome?

“Children laugh at your proclamations, and the wiser people pity so great a potentate’s being taken advantage of by one who deceives completely with the fawning behavior and newness of an instructed compliment — he had to be taught how to act toward royalty rather than learning naturally through being born royal.

“Such spoils, such slaughters as the rapine of your soldiers already have committed, is enough to show your zeal in an imagined just cause. Yet, great King, don’t wake my master’s vengeance but instead shake off that viper that gnaws your entrails.”

This society believed that the offspring of vipers gnawed their way out of their mother’s body. Vipers were symbols of ingratitude.

The Bishop of Durham continued, “I and my fellow-subjects are resolved, if you persist, to withstand your utmost fury until our last drop of blood falls from us.”

Perkin Warbeck said to King James IV, “Oh, sir, lend no ear to this traducer and slanderer of my honor!”

He said to the Bishop of Durham, “What shall I call thee, thou gray-bearded scandal, who kicks against the sovereign — me — to whom thou owes allegiance?”

He then said to King James IV, “Treason is bold-faced and eloquent in mischief. Sacred King, be deaf to his known malice.”

The Bishop of Durham continued to ignore Perkin Warbeck as he said to King James IV, “Rather yield to those holy impulses that inspire the sacred heart of an anointed body.”

During their coronations, Kings were anointed with oil.

He continued, “It is the surest policy in princes to govern well their own than seek encroachment upon another’s right.”

King James IV of Scotland thought hard.

“The King is serious, deep in his thoughts,” the Earl of Crawford said quietly to Lord Dalyell.

“May his better genius lift his thoughts up to Heaven!” Lord Dalyell replied quietly.

A genius is a protective spirit: a guardian angel.

“Can you ponder while such a devil raves?” Perkin Warbeck said. “Oh, sir!”

“Well, bishop, you’ll not be drawn to mercy?” King James IV asked.

“Construe me in like case by a subject of your own,” the Bishop of Durham said. “I am acting as you would expect one of your own subjects to act in a similar situation.

“My resolution’s fixed. I will remain loyal to my King: Henry VII.

“King James IV, be advised: A greater fate waits on thee. You were born to do better and greater things than this.”

TheBishop of Durham and his soldiers exited from the walls.

King James IV of Scotland said, “Plunder through the country; spare no prey of life or goods.”

“Oh, sir, then give me leave to yield to natural feelings and weep,” Perkin Warbeck said. “I am most miserable. Had I been born what this clergyman would by defamation baffle and confound belief with, I would have never sought the truth of my inheritance with women raped, infants murdered, virgins deflowered, old men butchered, dwellings fired, my land depopulated, and my people afflicted with a kingdom’s devastation! Show more pity, great King, or I shall never endure to see such havoc with dry eyes. Spare, spare, my dear, dear England!”

King James IV replied, “You make your piety foolish by being ridiculously anxious about an interest another man possesses. Where’s your faction? Where are your supporters? Shrewdly the Bishop of Durham guessed the ‘support’ of your adherents. When not a citizen of some town, no, not a villager has yet appeared in your assistance, that should make you whine, and not your country’s suffering, as you term it.”

Not one Englishman had come out to support Perkin Warbeck’s claim to the throne of England.

“The King is angry,” Lord Dalyell said.

“And the overly emotional Duke is effeminately grieving,” the Earl of Crawford replied.

Perkin Warbeck said, “The experience in former trials, sir, both of my own or of other princes cast out of their thrones, have so acquainted me with how misery is destitute of friends or of relief, that I can easily submit to taste and experience the lowest reproof — the basest ignominy — without contempt or angry words.”

“A humble-minded man!” King James IV said sarcastically.

Frion entered the scene.

King James IV asked him, “Now, what news does Master Secretary Frion bring?”

“King Henry VII of England has in open field overthrown the armies of the Cornish rebels who opposed him in the right of this young prince: Perkin Warbeck,” Frion said.

“His taxes, you mean,” King James IV said.

He knew that the Cornish rebels had not risen up in support of Perkin Warbeck’s claim to the throne, but rather they had rebelled because of excessive taxation.

“Do you have more news?” King James IV asked.

“Howard, Earl of Surrey, backed by twelve earls and barons of the north, a hundred knights and gentlemen of name, and twenty thousand soldiers, is at hand to raise your siege. Baron Willoughby de Broke, with a splendid navy, is admiral at sea; and Giles Dawbeney follows with an intact and undefeated army in support.”

“That is false!” Perkin Warbeck said. “They come to side with us.”

King James IV immediately showed that he did not believe Perkin Warbeck.

“Retreat,” he ordered. “We shall not find them stones and walls to cope with. Fighting them will be more difficult than laying siege to a castle.”

He then said to Perkin Warbeck, “Yet, Duke of York, for such thou say thou are, I’ll try thy fortune to the height: I will test your luck to the utmost.”

Previously, King James IV had used the respectful “you” when talking to Perkin Warbeck; now he used the less respectful “thou.” Previously, King James IV had shown that he believed that Perkin Warbeck was the Duke of York; now he said, “Duke of York, for such thou say thou are.”

King James IV of Scotlandadded, “By my herald Marchmont, I will send a brave challenge for single combat between the Earl of Surrey and me; for once a King will risk his person fighting against an Earl, with the condition of spilling less blood: The soldiers will not fight and shed their blood. Surrey is bold, and James IV is resolved.”

“Oh, rather, gracious sir, advance me to this glory and give me the honor of fighting the single combat, since my cause is involved in this fair quarrel,” Perkin Warbeck said. “Even valued at the least, I am King Henry VII’s equal.”

“I will be the man,” King James IV said.

He then ordered, “March quietly off.

“Where victory can reap a harvest crowned with triumph, toil is cheap.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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