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Henry the Seventh

by Marriott Edgar
Illustrations by John Hassall

The Baron going back to his castle
The Baron going back to his castle

Henry the Seventh is another of Marriot Edgar's poems that provides us with a lighthearted way to learn a bit of English history.

We also learn a bit of deliberately corrupted French: "San Fairy Ann" (Ca ne Fait Rien) meaning: "It doesn't matter". Coined (maybe) by British servicemen as they struggled to make sense of the language when crossing France in the First World War. The term has been kept alive through the 1965 English comic movie "San Ferry Ann" and Paul McCartney's lyrics "San Ferry Anne", written for his 1976 album Wings at the Speed of Sound.

There's another jokey corruption on the name "Perkin", which is written here as "Peter". Perkin Warbeck was a pretender to the English throne and this poem alludes to the belief that he was an impostor and not really the Duke of York and son of King Edward IV.

Finally, there's Lambert Simne, another pretender to the throne but forced to work in the King's kitchen, no doubt baking Simnel Cakes.

(See also Albert and the 'Eadsman)

Henry the Seventh of England
Wasn't out of the Royal top drawer,
The only connection of which he could boast,
He were King's nephew's brother-in-law.

It were after the Wars of the Roses
That he came to the front, as it were,
When on strength of his having slain Richard the Third
He put himself up as his heir.

The Barons scheming
The Barons scheming

T'were a bit of a blow to the Barons
When Henry aspired to the Throne,
And some who'd been nursing imperial hopes
Started pushing out claims of their own.

But they didn't get far with their scheming,
For the moment the matter were pressed
A stroke of the pen took them off to the Tower,
Where a stroke of the axe did the rest.

A feller they called Perkin Warbeck
Was the one who led Henry a dance,
To make sure that nowt awkward should happen to him
He worked from an office in France.

He claimed to be one of the Princes
As were smothered to death in the Tower.
His tale was that only his brother was killed
And that he had escaped the seas ower.

Taking them off to the Tower
Taking them off to the Tower
He worked from an office in France
He worked from an office in France

Henry knew the appeal of the Princes
Was a strong one for Perkin to make,
And he reckoned he'd best have a chat with the lad
And find out the least he would take.

In reply to his kind invitation
Perkin said he'd he happy to call,
But he'd bring his own escort of ten thousand men
And a hundred pipers an' all.

This reply put the King in a passion
He swore as he'd stop Perkin's fun,
Then he offered a fortune per annum to him
As could tell him how his could be done.

Then up spoke the bold Lambert Simne
The King's private scullion he were,
He said: "Just one word in thy ear 'ole, O King,
I've a plan as will stop all this 'ere."

Then he took the King up in a corner,
Where no one could hear what they said,
He hadn't got far when King started to laff
And he laffed till he had to be bled.

T 'were a plan to anticipate Perkin,
By getting in first with these tales,
Start another rebellion before he arrived
And take the wind out of his sails.

A word in thy ear 'ole, O King
A word in thy ear 'ole, O King
Paying for the fun they'd had
Paying for the fun they'd had

And so Lambert Simnel's rebellion
Made its fateful debut in the North
Experts disagree who he made out to be,
John the Second or Richard the Fourth.

T 'was surprising how many believed him
They flocked to his flag like one man,
For in them days the folk would do owt for a change,
And their motto was, "San fairy ann."

It were quite a success this rebellion
Till t'were routed by Henry at Stoke,
And Lambert were taken and made to confess
That his parents was working class folk.

The King started to laugh
The King started to laugh
The Peasant going back to his herd
The Peasant going back to his herd

The public forgave this deception,
The thing that made them proper mad,
Was a twopenny increase on every one's rates
To pay for the fun they had had.

And so when Peter Warbeck came over
Expecting his praise to be sung,
He was greeted, defeated, escheated, unseated,
Maltreated and finally hung.

And the Baron went back to his castle,
The Peasant went back to his herd,
Lambert Simnel went back to his scullion's job
Because Henry went back on his word.

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