High and Mighty Prince
"Please it youre Noble Grace to understande the consideracon, election, and petition of us the lords spiritual and temporal and commons of this reame of England, and thereunto agreably to geve your assent, to the common and public wele of this lande, to the comforts and gladnesse of all the people of the same.
"First, we considre how that heretofore in tyme passed this lande many years stode in great prosperite, honoure, and tranquillite, which was caused, foresomuch as the kings then reignyng used and followed the advice and counsaill of certaine lords speulx and temporelx, and othre personnes of approved sadnesse, prudence, policie, and experience, dreading God, and havyng tendre zele and affection to indifferent ministration of justice, and to the comon and politique wele of the land; then our Lord God was dred, luffed (loved), and honoured; then within the land was peace and tranquillite, and among neghbors concorde and charite; then the malice of outward enemyes was mightily repressed and resisted, and the land honourably defended with many grete and glorious victories; then the entrecourse of merchandizes was largely used and exercised; by ehich things above remembered, the land was greatly enriched soo that as wele the merchants and artificers as other poor people, laboryng for their lyvyng in diverse occupations, had competent gayne to the sustentation of thaym and their households, livyng without miserable and intolerable povertie. But afterward, when that such as had the rule and governaunce of this land, deliting in adulation and flattery and lede by sensuality and concupiscence, followed the counsaill of persons insolent, vicious, and of inordinate avarice, despising the counsaill of good, vertuous, and prudent personnes such as above be remembred, the prosperite of this land dailie decreased soo that felicite was turned into miserie, and prosperite into adversite, and the ordre of polecye, and of the law of God and man, confounded; whereby it is likely this reame to falle into extreme miserie and desolation, - which God defende, - without due provision of convenable remedie bee had in this behalfe in all godly hast.
"Over this, amonges other thinges, more specifially we consider howe that the tyme of the raigne of King Edward IV, late decessed, after the ungracious pretensed marriage, as all England hath cause to say, made betwitx the said King edward IV and Elizabeth, sometyme wife to Sir John Grey, Knight, late nameing herself and many years heretofore Queene of England, the ordre of all politeque rule was perverted, the laws of God and of Gode’s church, and also the lawes of nature, and of England, and also the laudable customes and liberties of the same, wherein every Englishman is inheritor, broken, subverted, and contempned, against all reason and justice, so that this land was ruled by self-will and pleasure, feare and drede, all manner of equite and lawes layd apart and despised, whereof ensued many inconvenients and mischiefs, as murdres, estortions, and oppressions, namely of pooe and impotent people, so that no man was sure of his lif, land, ne lyuvelode, ne of his wif, doughter, no servannt, every good maiden and woman standing in drede to be ravished and defouled. And besides this, what discords, inward battailes, effusion of Christian men’s blode, and namely, by the destruction of the noble blode of this lond, was had and comitted within the same, it is evident and notarie through all this reaume unto the grete sorrowe and heavynesse of all true Englishmen. And here also we considre howe the said pretensed marriage, betwitx the above named King Edward the Elizabeth Grey, was made of grete presumption, without the knowyng or assent of the lords of this londe, and alsoe by sorcerie and wiche-crafte, committed by the said Elizabeth and her moder, Jacquett Duchess of Bedford, as the common opinion of the peole and the publique voice, and fame is through all this land; and hereafter, if and as the case shall require, shall bee proved sufficiently intyme and place convenient. And here also we considre how that the said pretenced marriage was made privately and secretly, with edition of banns, in a private chamber, a profane place, and not openly in the face of the church, aftre the laws of Godd’s churche, but contrarie thereunto, and the laudable custome of the Churche of England. And how also, that at the tyme of the contract of the same pretensed marriage, and bifore and longe tyme after, the saide King Edw was and stood marryed and troth plyght to oone Dame Elianor Butteler, doughter of the old Earl of Shrewsbury, with whom the said King Edward had made a precontracte of matronie, long tyme bifore he made the said pretensed mariage with the said Elizabeth Grey in manner and fourme aforesaid. Which premises being true, as in veray trouth they been true, it appeareth and followeth evidently, that the said King Edward duryng his lyfe and the said Elizabeth lived together sinfully and dampnably in adultery, against the lawe of God and his church; and therefore noe marvaile that the souverain lord and head of this londe, being of such ungodly disposicion, and provokyng the ire and indignation of oure Lorde God, such haynous mischiefs and inconvenients as is above remember, were used and committed in the reame amongst the subjects. Also it appeareth evidently and followeth that all th’issue and children of the said king been bastards, and unable to inherite or to clayme anything by inheritance, by the lawe and custome of England.
"Moreover we consider howe that afterward, by the thre estates of this reame assembled in a parliament holden at Westminster the 17th. yere of the regne of the said King Edward theiiijth, he than being in possession of the coroune and roiall estate, by an acte made in the same parliament, George Duc of Clarence, brother to the said King Edward now decessed, was convicted and attainted of high treason; as in the same acte is conteigned more at large. Because and by treason whereof all the issue of the said George was and is disables and barred of all right and clayme that in any wise they might have or challenge by inheritance to the crowne and roiall dignitie of this reame, by the auncien lawe and custome of this same reame.
"Over this we consider howe that ye be the undoubted sonne and heire Richard late Duke of Yorke verray enheritour to the said crowne and dignitie roiall and as in right Kyng of Englond by way to enheritaunce and that at this time the premisses duelly considered there is noon other peron lyving but ye only, that by right may clayme the said coroune and dignitie roiall, by way of enhertiaunce, and how that ye be born within this lande, by reason whereof, as we deme in our myndes, ye be more naturally enclyned to the prosperitie and comen weal of the same: and all the three estates of the land have, and may have more certain knowledge of your birth and filiation above said. Wee considre also, the greate wytte, prudence, justice, princely courage, and the memorable and laudable acts in diverse battalls which we by experience know ye heretofore have done for the salvacion and defence of this same reame, and also the great noblesse and excellence of your byrth and blode as of hym that is descended of the thre most royal houses in Christendom, that is to say, England, Fraunce, and Hispaine.
"Wherefore these premisses by us diligently considered, we desyring affectuously the peas, tranquilitie and wele publique of this lande, and the reduction of the same to the auncien honourable estate, and prosperite, and havyng in your greate prudence, justice, princely courage and excellent virtue, singular confidence, have chosen in all that is in us is and by this our wrytyng choise you, high and myghty Prynce into our Kyng and souveraine lord &c., to whom we know for certayn it appertaneth of enheritaunce so to be choosen. And hereupon we humbly desire, pray, and require your said noble grace, that accordinge to this election of us the three estates of this lande, as by your true enheritaunce ye will accept and take upon you the said crowne and royall dignitie with all things thereunto annexed and apperteyning as to you of right belongyng as well by enheritaunce as by lawful election, and in case ye do so we promitte to serve and to assist your highnesse, as true and faithfull subjietz and liegemen and to lyve and dye with you in this matter and every other just quarrel. For certainly we bee determined rather to adventure and comitte us to the perill of our lyfs and jopardye of death, than to lyve in such thraldome and bondage as we have lyved long tyme heretofore, oppressed and injured by new extorcos and imposicons, agenst the lawes of God and man, and the liberte, old polce and lawes of this reame wherein every Englishman is inherited. Our Lorde God Kyng of all Kynges by whose infynyte goodnesse and eternall providence all thyngs have been pryncypally gouverned in this worlde lighten your soule, and graunt you grace to do, as well in this matter as in all other, all that may be accordyng to his will and pleasure, and to the comen and publique wele of this land, so that after great cloudes, troubles, stormes, and tempests, the son of justice and of grace may shyne uppon us, to the comforte and gladnesse of all true Englishmen.
"Albeit that the right, title, and estate, whiche our souverain lorde the Kynge Richard III hath to and in the crown and roiall dignite of this reame of England, with all things thereunto annexed and appertynyng, have been juste and lawefull, as grounded upon the lawes of God and of nature and also upon the auncien lawes and laudable customes of this said reame, and so taken and reputeed by all such personnes as ben lerned in the above-saide laws and custumes. Yet, neverthelesse, forasmoche as it is considred that the most parte of the people of this lande is not suffisiantly lerned in the abovesaid lawes and customes whereby the trueth and right in this behalf of liklyhode may be hyd, and not clerely knowen to all the people and thereupon put in doubt and question: And over this howe that the courte of Parliament is of suche autorite, and the people of this lande of suche nature and disposicion, as experience teacheth that maifestation and declaration of any trueth or right made by the thre estats of this reame assembled in parliament, and by auctorite of the same maketh before all other thyng, moost faith and certaintie; and quietyng men’s myndes, remoweth the occasion of all doubts and seditious language:
"Therefore at the request, and by the assent of the three estates of this reame, that is to say, the lords spuelx and temporalx and comens of this lande, assembled in this present parliament by auctorite of the same, bee it pronounced, decreed and declared, that our said souveraign lorde the kinge was and is veray and undoubted kyng of this reame of Englond; with all thyngs thereunto within this same reame, and without it annexed unite and apperteynyng, as well by right of consanguinite and enheritance as by lawful election, consecration and coronacion. And over this, that at the request, and by the assent and autorite abovesaide bee it ordeigned, enacted and established that the said crowne and roiall dignite of this reame, and the inheritaunce of the same, and other thyngs thereunto within the same reame or without it annexed, unite, and now apperteigning, rest and abyde in the person of our said souveraign lord the kyng during his lyfe, and after his decesse in his heires of his body begotten. And in especiall, at the request and by the assent and auctorite abovesaid, bee it ordeigned, enacted, established, pronounced, decreed and declared that the high and excellent Prince Edward, sone of our said souveraign lorde the Kyng, be heire apparent of our said souveraign lorde the kyng, to succeed hym in the abovesaid crown and roiall dignite, with all thyngs as is aforesaid thereunto unite annexed and apperteignyng, to have them after the decease of our saide souveraign lorde the kyng to hym and to his heires of his body lawfully begotten."
To this bill the Commons gave their assent, and it consequently passed.
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