Page 430

430 RICHARD THE THIRD. An. Dom. 1484.

forgiuen, and both he and she highlie incorporated in the king’s heart. Suerlie the inconstancie of this woman were much to be maruelled at, if all women had beene found constant; but let men speake, yet women of the verie bond of nature will follow their owne sex. [But it was no small allurement that king Richard vsed to ouercome hir (for we know by experience that women are of a proud disposition, and that the waie to win them is by promises of preferment) and therefore it is the lesse maruell that he by his wilie wit had made conquest of hir wauering will. [Besides that, it is to be presumed that she stood in feare to impugne his demands by denials, least he in his malicious mood might take occasion to deale roughlie with hir, being a weake woman, and of a timorous spirit.]
Now when king Richard had thus with glorious promises, and flattering words, pleased and appeased the mutable mind of queene Elizabeth, which knew nothing lesse than that he most intended; he caused all his brothers daughters to be conueied into his palace with solemne receiuing: as though with his new familiar and louing interteinment they should forget, and in their minds blot out the old committed iniurie, and late executed tyrannie. Now nothing was contrarie and against his diuelish purpose, but that his mansion was not void of his wife, which thing he in any wise adiudged necessarie to be doone. But there was one thing that so much feared and staied him from committing this abhominable murther, bicause (as you haue heard before) he began to counterfet the image of a good and well disposed person: and therefore he was afeard least the sudden death of his wife once openlie knowne, he should loose the good and credible opinion which the people had of him, without anie desert, conceiued and reported.

A forged coplaint of king Richard against his wife to be rid of hir.

But in conclusion, euill counsell preuailed in a wit latelie minded to mischeefe, and turned from all goodnesse. So that his vngratious desire ouercame his honest feare. And first to enter into the gates of his imagined enterprise, he absteined both from the bed and companie of his wlfe. Then he complained to diuerse noble men of the realme, of the infortunate sterilitie and barennesse of his wife, bicause she brought foorth no fruit and generation of hir bodie. And in especiall he recounted to Thomas Rotheram archbishop of Yorke (whome latelie he had deliuered out of ward and captiuitie) these impediments of his queene, and diuerse other, thinking that he would reueale to hir all these things, trusting the sequele hereof to take due effect, that she hearing this grudge of hir husband, & taking therefore an inward thought, would not long liue in this world.

A rumor spread abroad of the queenes death at the procurement of king Richard.

Of this the bishop gathered (which well knew the complexion and vsage of the king) that the queenes daies were short, and that he declared to certeine of his secret freends. After this he procured a common rumor (but he would not haue the author knowne) to be published and spred abroad among the common people, that the queene was dead; to the intent that she taking some conceit of this strange fame, should fall into some sudden sicknesse or greeuous maladie: and to prooue if afterwards she should fortune by that or anie other waies to lease her life, whether the people would impute hir death to the thought or sicknesse, or thereof would laie the blame to him. Now when the queene heard tell that so horrible a rumor of hir death was sprung amongst the communaltie, she sore suspected and iudged the world to be almost at an end with hir. And in that sorowfull agonie she with lamentable countenance and sorowfull cheare, repaired to the presence of the king hir husband, demanding of him what it should meane, that he had iudged hir worthie to die.

The king answered hir with faire words, and with smiling and flattering leasings comforted hir, and bid hir be of good cheere, for (to his knowledge) she should haue no other cause. But howsoeuer that it fortuned, either by inward thought and pensiuenesse of hart, or by infection of poison (which is affirmed to be most likelie)