Though the king did not prepare against these events, so hurtful to the interests of England, with sufficient vigour and precaution, he had not altogether overlooked them. Determined to maintain a pacific conduct, as far as the situation of affairs would permit, he yet knew the warlike temper of his subjects, and observed, that their ancient and inveterate animosity to France was now revived by the prospect of this great accession to her power and grandeur. He resolved therefore to make advantage of this disposition, and draw some supplies from the people, on pretence of giving assistance to the duke of Britanny. He had summoned a parliament at Westminster; and he soon persuaded them to grant him a considerable subsidy. But this supply, though voted by parliament, involved the king in unexpected difficulties. The counties of Durham and York, always discontented with Henry's government, and farther provoked by the late oppressions, under which they had laboured, after the suppression of Simnel's rebellion, resisted the commissioners who were appointed to levy the tax. The commissioners, terrified with this appearance of sedition, made application to the earl of Northumberland, and desired of him advice and assistance in the execution of their office. That nobleman thought the matter of importance enough to consult the king; who, unwilling to yield to the humours of a discontented populace, and foreseeing the pernicious consequence of such a precedent, renewed his orders for strictly levying the imposition. Northumberland summoned together the justices and chief freeholders, and delivered the king's commands in the most imperious terms, which, he thought, would inforce obedience, but which tended only to provoke the people, and make them believe him the adviser of those orders which he delivered to them. They flew to arms, attacked Northumberland in his house, and put him to death. Having incurred such deep guilt, their mutinous humour prompted them to declare against the king himself; and being instigated by John Achamber, a seditious fellow of low birth, they chose Sir John Egremond their leader, and prepared themselves for a vigorous resistance. Henry was not dismayed with an insurrection so precipitate and ill-supported. He immediately levied a |force which he put under the command of the earl of Surrey, whom he had freed from confinement, and received into favour. His intention was to send down these troops, in order to check the progress of the rebels; while he himself should follow with a greater body, which would absolutely insure success. But Surrey thought himself strong enough to encounter alone a raw and unarmed multitude; and he succeeded in the attempt. The rebels were dissipated; John Achamber was taken prisoner, and afterwards executed with some of his accomplices; Sir John Egremond fled to the dutchess of Burgundy, who gave him protection; the greater number of the rebels received a pardon. Henry had probably expected, when he obtained this grant from parliament, that he should be able to terminate the affair of Britanny by negociation, and that he might thereby fill his coffers with the money levied by the imposition. But as the distresses of the Bretons still multiplied, and became every day more urgent; he found himself under the necessity of taking more vigorous measures, in order to support them. On the death of the duke, the French had revived some antiquated claims to the dominion of the dutchy; and as the duke of Orleans was now captive in France, their former pretence for hostilities could no longer serve as a cover to their ambition. The king resolved therefore to engage as auxiliary to Britanny; and to consult the interests, as well as desires of his people, by opposing himself to the progress of the French power. Besides entering into a league with Maximilian, and another with Ferdinand, which were distant resources, he levied a body of troops, to the number of 6000 men, with an intention of transporting them into Britanny. Still anxious, however, for the re-payment of his expences, he concluded a treaty with the young dutchess, by which she engaged to deliver into his hands two seaport towns, there to remain till she should entirely refund the charges of the armament. Though he engaged for the service of these troops during the space of ten months only, yet was the dutchess obliged, by the necessity of her affairs, to submit to such rigid conditions, imposed by an ally, so much concerned in interest to protect her. The forces arrived under the command of lord Willoughby of Broke; and made the Bretons, during some time, |masters of the field. The French retired into their garrisons; and expected by dilatory measures to waste the fire of the English, and disgust them with the enterprize. The scheme was well laid, and met with success. Lord Broke found such discord and confusion in the counsels of Britanny, that no measures could be concerted for any undertaking; no supply obtained; no provisions, carriages, artillery, or military stores procured. The whole court was rent into factions: No one minister had acquired the ascendant: And whatever project was formed by one, was sure to be traversed by another. The English, disconcerted in every enterprize, by these animosities and uncertain counsels, returned home as soon as the time of their service was elapsed; leaving only a small garrison in those towns which had been configured into their hands. During their stay in Britanny, they had only contributed still farther to waste the country; and by their departure, they left it entirely at the mercy of the enemy. So feeble was the succour, which Henry in this important conjuncture afforded his ally, whom the invasion of a foreign enemy, concurring with domestic dissensions, had reduced to the utmost distress.