Chapter 18 : Buckingham's Rebellion
In August 1483, François sent a messenger, Georges de Manbier, to negotiate with Richard III. He told Richard that Louis XI was threatening to invade Brittany if Henry were not handed over. Richard and Louis were not on good terms as Richard had refused Louis’ bribes at the time of the Treaty of Picquiny. Richard could be sure that Louis would use Henry Tudor as a weapon against him.
In return for François holding onto the Tudors, he would need Richard to supply him not only with the archers previously promised by Edward IV, but another 2,000 to 3,000 men to protect Brittany from France. These terms were extremely high, and Richard had little chance of meeting them. It is unlikely that François was sincere in his negotiations as he was already backing the invasion that the Tudors undertook in the late summer of 1483 as part of a wider rebellion against Richard, known as Buckingham’s Rebellion.
Jasper and Henry were lent five ships manned by 320 or so men and 10,000 crowns in cash by the Duke, together with a promise of a further 5,000 men. Although Henry and Jasper arrived in England, they were too late to join Buckingham’s rebellion which had been easily suppressed by Richard III. Rather than landing they turned round immediately and headed back for Brittany. Owing to the vagaries of tides and weather, they landed on the coast of France but where granted safe conduct to pass into Brittany.
This failure to capitalise on the Tudors landing in France occurred because Louis XI had died leaving a minor son, Charles VIII, and a Regency government, led by Charles’ sister, Anne of Beaujeu. Back in the city of Vannes, Henry was joined by increasing numbers of senior Yorkists including Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s son, the Marquess of Dorset, her brother, Sir Edward Woodville, and a number of West Country gentlemen - the Courtenays, Sir Giles Daubeny and Sir Richard Edgecombe.
Henry swore an oath in the Cathedral at Rennes, that, once he became King of England, he would marry Elizabeth of York or, if she were unavailable, one of her sisters, and unite the Lancastrian and Yorkist factions. He was promised support by Duke François and his councillor, Pierre Landais.
Back in England, the Parliament that opened in January 1484 passed Acts of Attainder against the Earl of Oxford, Jasper, Henry and Henry’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, who was now married to Thomas, Lord Stanley, who had been a loyal supporter of Edward IV.
Soon after this, the political landscape in Brittany changed again as François II fell ill and his councillors were divided between those who wanted to ally with England and those who saw an opportunity for alliance with unruly French nobles, such as Louis of Orleans. Richard III kept up the pressure by seizing Breton shipping and goods. He promised to desist and even to grant the income from the lands of the exiles, if François were to hand the Tudors over. François was seriously ill and government was now in the hands of Landais, who agreed that Jasper and Henry would be handed over, in exchange for England’s support against France.
Jasper and Henry got wind of the plot and swiftly sent a request to Anne of Beaujeu to admit them to France. The two men separated, Jasper taking a group of followers to visit François on his sickbed, conveniently close to the French border. Rather than visiting the Duke, Jasper crossed the border and headed for the city of Anjou. A couple of days after Jasper had left Vannes, Henry taking a retinue of only five men, set out, ostensibly to visit a friend. Having ridden five miles, the party disappeared into a forest where Henry changed clothes with one of his servants and with just one other man, rode as fast as he could for the border, crossing it just an hour before Landais’ men arrived. François, discovering the treachery of his councillor, gave large gifts of money to Henry’s followers and permitted them to cross into France, covering their expenses. Landais ended on a gibbet.