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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51

Henry IV.—(1399-1413)

Henry IV.—(1399-1413).

Henry IV. ascended the throne a perjured man. At Don-caster he had solemnly sworn that he had no designs on the crown whatever; but perjury and murder are no disqualifications for the kingly office. He had the effrontery to lay claim to the royal title on the ground of descent as well as page 37 election, and circulated an idle genealogical story about his mother to make good the point. It availed nothing. He had planted the dragons' teeth, which grew up as the White and Red Roses.

To strengthen his dynasty and to appease his conscience, he was the first to take to the burning of heretics. Of his own motion he passed a statute "De Hætico Comburendo," under which William Sautré, parish priest of Lynn, was the first, but by no means the last, to suffer.

Rebellion followed rebellion, conspiracy, conspiracy. Several attempts were made to poison him. Sharp irons were cunningly placed in his bed: at other times his hose and night shirt were smeared with venom. The constant dread of assassination which broke down the iron nerves of Oliver Cromwell was too much for Henry. He died the miserable victim of anxiety, epilepsy, and leprosy.