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From Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries, by Sir John Froissart, Translated from the French Editions with Variations and Additions from Many Celebrated MSS, by Thomas Johnes, Esq., Volume II, London: William Smith, 1848. pp. 349-372.
CHAPTER XC. — THE FRENCH LORDS WHO HAD BEEN PRISONERS IN TURKEY RETURN BY SEA TO VENICE.
WHEN the count de Nevers and the lords of France who were made prisoners at the battle of Nicopoli (excepting the count d’Eu and the lord de Coucy, who had died) had been some time entertained by the sultan, and had seen great part of his state, he consented they should depart, which was told them by those who had been ordered to attend to their personal wants. The count and his companions waited on the sultan in consequence, to thank him for his kindness and courtesy. On taking his leave, the sultan addressed him, by means of an interpreter, as follows: “John, I am well informed that in thy country thou art a great lord, and son to a powerful prince. Thou art young, and hast many years to look forward; and, as thou mayest be blamed for the ill success of thy first attempt in arms, thou mayest perchance, to shake off this imputation and regain thine honour, collect a powerful army to lead against me, and offer battle. If I feared thee, I would make thee swear, and likewise thy companions, on thy faith and honour, that neither thou nor they would ever bear arms against me. But no: I will not demand such an oath: on the contrary, I shall be glad that when thou art returned to thy country, it please thee to assemble an army, and lead it hither. Thou wilt always find me prepared, and ready to meet thee in the field of battle. What I now say, do thou repeat to any person, to whom it may please thee to repeat it; for I am ever ready for, and desirous of, deeds of arms; as well as to extend my conquests.”
These high words the count de Nevers and his companions understood well, and never forgot them so long as they lived. After this, when all things for their departure were ready, they were conducted by Ali bashaw and Soli bashaw, with a large escort, to the lords de Mathelin and d’Amine, and the others who had interested themselves for their liberty. Before they embarked on board the galleys destined to carry them, they paid every expense they had incurred at Bursa, or at other places, with so much punctuality that they were greatly praised. As they weighed anchor, their conductors returned to the sultan; and the galleys, having a favourable wind, soon arrived at the harbour, where the count and his friends were received with joy. The lady of the lord de Mathelin was of a certain age, but perfectly well bred, and as fully accomplished as any lady in Greece, for in her youth she had been brought up at the court of Constantinople with the lady Mary of Bourbon. She had from her learnt many things, for the lords and ladies of France are better educated than those in any other country. This lady thought herself highly honoured when she saw the count de Nevers, sir Henry de Bar, Guy de la Tremouille, and the other lords under her roof, and welcomed them with every sign of pleasure. She first clothed them with fine new linen and cloth of Damascus made into gowns and vestments, according to the taste in Greece. After she had dressed the masters, she did the same to their servants in the handsomest manner, each according to his rank. The lords were very thankful for her kindness, and publicly declared their gratitude or her generous conduct, as well as that of the lords de Mathelin and d’Amine, who honoured them by every mark of respect, and administered to their necessities.
News was soon carried to the island of Rhodes, that the sultan had accepted a ransom for the French lords, and that they were now at Mathelin. The intelligence gave much pleasure to the grand-master and to all his knights, who prepared to equip and arm two galleys, and send them to Mathelin to convey the count and his fellow-prisoners to Rhodes. This was executed; and, when ready, sir James de Brasemont*, a Burgundian, who was marshal of Rhodes, embarked on board, and had a favourable voyage to Mathelin, where he was made heartily welcome by the lord de Mathelin, his lady, and their guests. He remained there four days; on the fifth, the galley shaving on board the purveyances of the French lords, the count and his companions took leave of the lord and lady de Mathelin, returning them their best thanks for all the kindness and friendship they had received, especially the count de Nevers, who, as the principal personage, said he was bound at all times hereafter to render 650 them every service in his power. After many compliments on both sides, the French lords entered the galleys, and, as long as they were in sight, the lord de Mathelin remained on the shore, and after that went home. The galleys, having a favourable wind, arrived at Rhodes, and anchored in the haven, where vessels from Cyprus, Baruth, and other ports in the Levant, usually do. On their landing, they were received by many of the knights of Rhodes, who wear a white cross, in memory of the cross of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, who suffered to deliver others from the pains of hell. They are valiant knights, and give daily assaults by sea or land on the infidels, to support and defend the Christian faith.
The count de Nevers and the lords of France were received by the grand prior of Rhodes and the grand prior of Aquitaine, in their robes of ceremony, who offered to lend them any sum of money, as far as their abilities extended, to enable them to discharge their daily expenses, which the count and his friends thought a most courteous offer, and thanked them accordingly. In truth, they were in want of money, and the grand prior of Aquitaine, a right valiant knight, as his actions showed in the Holy Land, lent the count de Nevers thirty thousand francs, which were counted out by sir Regnier Pot, house-steward to the count, and the lord de Rochefort in Burgundy. I believe this sum was as much for his companions as the count himself, and was divided among them, although the count de Nevers took on himself the whole debt. The French lords remained some time in the island of Rhodes, to recover and properly array themselves, for the climate was by far more temperate than in the countries where they had lately resided: during the time they tarried at Rhodes, waiting for the galleys from Venice, sir Guy de la Tremouille was seized with so dangerous an illness, that he there departed this life. He ordered his body to be buried on the spot where he died, and was, consequently, interred in the church of Saint John, in the island of Rhodes. His funeral was honourably attended by the French lords, who much regretted his loss, more especially the count de Nevers, who knew that this father, the duke of Burgundy, would be greatly affected by it, as he had always found him a wise and honest counsellor.
The galleys from Venice at length arrived, properly armed and equipped, to the great joy of the French lords. They were not long in making their preparations to depart, and took leave of the knights of Rhodes, who recommended their order to them, and to all devout souls who would be willing to assist it. The count de Nevers, the lords Henry de Bar, de Boucicault, sir William de la Tremouille, the lord de Rochefort, sir Regnier Pot, and the rest, embarked on board the Venetian galleys, the captains of which resolved to touch at the different islands, that their passengers might sail more at their ease, and refresh themselves on shore, and show the count de Nevers the various islands which lay between Rhodes and Venice. They steered first for Modon†, which is five hundred miles from Rhodes, and tarried there some days, to amuse themselves, for the port and country belong to the Venetians. From Modon they had a fine passage to Colefo‡, as the sea was calm, where they refreshed themselves; and from Colefo they made for the island of Garre§, where they did the same: thence they sailed for the island of Chifolignie¶; and, having anchored, they landed, and were met by a large party of ladies and damsels, who have the government of the island. They received the French lords with joy, and led them to the interior part of the island, which is very beautiful, to amuse and enjoy themselves. Some say, who pretend to be acquainted with the state of this island, and insist upon it, that fairies and nymphs inhabit it, and that frequently merchants from Venice or Genoa, who had been forced by stress of weather to make some stay there, have seen appearances of them, and have had the truth of these reports confirmed.
The count de Nevers and his friends were very happy with the dames of Cephalonia, for they entertained them gaily, telling them their arrival had been a matter of joy to them, from their being knights of honour and renown, for in general they had no other visitors but merchants. I may be asked, if this island be solely inhabited by women. I answer no; but women have the sovereignty of it: they, however, employ themselves in needle and other 651 works; and make such fine cloths of silk, that none others can be compared to them. The men of the island, being ignorant, are employed to carry abroad these works, wherever they shall think to have the greatest profit, but the women remain at home. The men honour the fair sex for their works, and because they have always a sufficiency of wealth. The state of their island is such, that no one dare approach it, to commit any injury, for whoever should attempt it would perish, as has been frequently seen. Fro this cause, these ladies live in peace, without fear of any one: they are amiable, good-tempered, and without pride, and certainly, when they please, converse with fairies, and keep them company.
After the count de Nevers and his companions had amused themselves at this island for five days, they took leave of the ladies: the count made them such handsome presents, for their courteous treatment of them, that they were contented, and thanked him gratefully on his departure. When the lords were embarked, they put to sea, and favourable winds carried them to a territory called Ragusa, when they refreshed themselves again, and thence made for Clarence¥, which is one hundred miles distant from Venice. While the galleys were at anchor, and the lords in the town of Clarence, which belongs to the Venetians, they were known by a squire of honour and renown, from Hainault, called Bridoul de la Porte. He was a native of Mons, and had made, at his own expense, a pilgrimage, through devotion, to the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, and had visited Cairo and St. Catherine’s Mount. The French lords had come to Clarence two days before him, and gave him a welcome reception, on hearing he was so good a man, and a native of Hainault, the country of the countess of Nevers, who was daughter to the earl of Hainault, and because they were all in countries distant from their own. They asked him what parts he was last come from, and also concerning the affairs of king James of Cyprus, and respecting Turkey. He made no difficulty, but instantly gave prudent and intelligent answers. The barons of France, having reposed themselves, re-embarked, and made sail for Pareuse**. All large vessels and galleys which cannot, from want of water, land their cargoes at Venice, put into this port, for here the sea becomes shallow. The French knights made no long stay before they embarked in smaller vessels and arrived at Venice, where they were received with great joy. On their landing, they all returned thanks to God for their happy deliverance from the hands of the infidels, of which at one time they had despaired. The count de Nevers and his companions went to the hotels which had been prepared for them; for, as their coming was known and expected for some time, their friends had sent servants and equipages to wait their arrival. The count found part of his attendants, whom the duke and duchess of Burgundy had sent thither, ready to receive him. Sir Dinde de Desponde had also been at Venice some time waiting for them with the amount of their ransom, for without his assistance, nothing could be done.
The French lords, on their arrival at Venice, instantly employed clerks and messengers to write and carry letters to France and elsewhere, to inform their friends of their happy deliverance. This was very soon publicly known, to the joy of all who heard it. The duke and duchess of Burgundy lost no time in preparing everything suitable to the rank of their son the count de Nevers, such as gold and silver plate, linen, tapestry, clothes of all sorts, which were packed up on sumpter-horses and sent to Venice under the care of the lord de Hangiers†† and sir James de Helly. In like manner did al the friends and relatives of the other lords send them every necessary suitable to their ranks. You may suppose all this was done at a great expense, for nothing was spared: their residences at Venice cost much, as it is one of the dearest towns in the world for strangers. It was proper these lords should keep up a state becoming their rank, which fell naturally most heavy on the count de Nevers, their commander in chief.
The duke and duchess of Burgundy were very active in preparing his ransom, that their son and heir might leave Venice with honour, and return to France and Flanders, where his presence was much wished for. The duke said, that were it not for the aid of his good 652 subjects in Burgundy, Artois, and Flanders, the money would never had been raised, or their own and their son’s other expenses were very great.
The different negociations and embassies had called for large sums, and though the ransom was but two hundred thousand florins to Bajazet, yet the other costs and expenses amounted to as much more, as was declared by those through whose hands the money passed; and without this sum their liberty would never have been obtained. It was matter of much consideration how this money was to be raised; for neither the duke nor duchess was inclined to abate anything of their state, which was very magnificent. It was resolved by his council to lay a tax on all the towns under his obedience, more especially those of Flanders; for they abounded in wealth, from their commerce, and therefore the greater load was laid on them, that the count de Nevers might be at liberty to quit Venice. When the matter was mentioned to the townsmen of Ghent, they readily declared their willingness to present their young lord fifty thousand florins to aid him in his ransom. Bruges, Mechlin, Antwerp, Ypres, Courtray, and the other towns in Flanders, expressed their readiness to assist in the ransom of the count de Nevers. The duke and duchess of Burgundy were well pleased at these answers, and returned their warm acknowledgments to the magistrates of the different towns in Flanders, and to those of Artois and Burgundy, who had testified equally good intentions.
The king of France was also very desirous of aiding the French lords in their ransom, although he had already been at a heavy expense in sending his ambassadors to Hungary and Turkey. These charges, however, he did not regret, since his cousins were now safe at Venice, and with them his own knight the lord de Boucicaut. The count de Nevers and his companions were still at Venice, for it was not his intention to depart thence until the discharge of the ransom should be completed. The merchants of Scio and the two Grecian lords ha pledged themselves to the sultan for the payment, and such an immense sum was not readily raised. Sir Dinde de Desponde took great pains to accomplish the business from his regard to the king of France and the duke of Burgundy, who had sent him to Venice for the purpose, and he was more subtle and conversant in such business than any other person whatever.
While others were diligently despatching the business of their ransom, the lords spent their time most joyously at Venice; but, about this period, an infectious disorder affected that town and neighbourhood, which began in the month of August, and never ceased until St. Andrew’s day. Great numbers fell victims to it, and among the rest (the more the pity!) the lord Henry de Bar, eldest son to the duke of Bar, and, in right of his wife, heir to all the estates of the late lord de Coucy, excepting the dower of his widow. Thus were the two ladies de Coucy made widows in one year, which was a great misfortune. The body of the lord Henry was embalmed and brought to France, and I believe buried at Paris, for his obsequies were there performed with much solemnity. On account of this epidemical distemper, and to avoid its danger, the count de Nevers left Venice, and fixed his residence at Treviso, where he and the other French lords remained, with their households, for upwards of four months without stirring from it. During their stay at Treviso, the king of Hungary was informed by the knights of Rhodes, of their having made peace with Bajazet, and obtained their liberty by payment of two hundred thousand francs. He, in consequence, sent letters by a bishop and some of his knights to the count de Nevers, to mark his affection to him, with those others to those who had the government of Venice. The bishop and knights were ordered by the king to address the count as follows, and of which they handsomely acquitted themselves.
“My lord, we are sent hither by our much-redoubted lord, and your cousin, the king of Hungary, who salutes you by us. Here are letters written by him to congratulate you on your deliverance from the sultan Bajazet, his enemy. He is sincerely rejoiced at your and your companions’ escape, for, without the means you have pursued, it would never have been effected. Dear sir, our lords is well assured that your treaties with the sultan must have cost you immense sums of money, and, with the losses you all suffered at the disastrous battle of Nicopoli, will have made it difficult to you to procure a sufficiency for your ransom. Our sovereign, therefore, dear sir, orders us to make you his excuses for not offering you, on this occasion, his assistance: if it were in his power, he would most cheerfully do it, for he 653 conceives and declares he is bound to aid you, from his connection with you by blood and other causes; were it not that he and his subjects have had much losses by the late defeat, that you, who are a person of great understanding, will readily believe, and know the impossibility of his giving any aid at this present moment. The revenues of Hungary are ruined for this and the ensuing year, but whenever they are recovered, and the usual payments made, that he may be enabled to show his offers are not mere empty words, he will assuredly come handsomely forward to your service. That you may believe our most redoubted sovereign and your cousin is in earnest, we must acquaint you that he has ordered us to offer for sale to the rulers of Venice, the rents he receives from this town, which amount to seven thousand ducats yearly; and that whatever these may produce you are to dispose of as if it were your own; and for which we will sign receipts to the Venetians, having full authority so to do.”
The speech of the ambassadors from the king of Hungary was very agreeable to the French lords. They answered by the lord de Rochefort, who, in the name of all, said, “that they were very sensible of this mark of kindness from the king of Hungary, who, to oblige his cousin the count de Nevers, offered to sell his inheritance to aid them; that this was not an offer to be refused, nor the friendship and courtesy forgotten; that the count desired to have a little time to consider of his answer to the king.” This was agreed to; and, within a few days, the ambassadors were told by the count of Nevers, that it would be very unbecoming him to pledge or sell the inheritance of another; but that, if it were agreeable to them who had such powers, to prevail on the Venetians to advance, on the security of these rents, a sufficient sum for the count de Nevers daily expenses, and to enable him to acquit himself o the thirty thousand florins the grand prior of Jerusalem had lent him with so much generosity in the island of Rhodes, he should consider it as a great favour, and most kingly thank the king of Hungary and his council for so doing.”
The ambassadors cheerfully promised to make the proposal to the Venetians. When the Venetians heard it, they coldly replied they would deliberately consider of the matter, and demanded fifteen days to weigh their determination. When these were expired, they answered (as I was told by one who heard it), “That if the king of Hungary was disposed to sell his whole kingdom, the Venetians would willingly make the purchase, and pay the money down; but as for such a trifle as seven thousand ducats of yearly revenue which eh possessed in the city of Venice, it was of so little value that they could not set a price on it either to buy or sell, and they would not trouble themselves about so small an object.”
Such was the answer made by the Venetians to the ambassadors of the king of Hungary. Some said, this reply was mere dissimulation, and that, though the Hungarians had made the offer to the count, they, in an underhand way, caused this answer to be given. Things, therefore, remained in the state they were in before, and the ambassadors took leave of the lord de Rochefort, and sir William de la Tremouille. They left Venice, and returned to Hungary; but the French lords continued at Treviso on account of the great mortality that reigned in Venice.
* “Sir James de Brasemont.” The MSS. Have de Bauffremont, which I should prefer.
† “Modon,” a town and port in the Morea.
‡ “Colefo.” I should have imagined this to be Corfu, if Cephalonia were not seemingly intended afterwards.
§ “Garre.” Q. Zante.
¶ “Chifolignie.” Q. Cephalonia.
¥ “Clarence,” or Chiarenza, is in the Morea, opposite to Cephalonia.
** “Pareuse.” Q. Parenzo, a town on the coast of Istris, nearly opposite to Venice.
†† “The lord de Hangiers.” D. Sauvage supposed it ought to have been de Hangest, for a family of that name existed in his time in Picardy.
CHAPTER XCI. — THE LORD LOUIS DE SANCERRE IS MADE CONSTABLE OF FRANCE IN THE ROOM OF THE COUNT D’EU, WHO HAD DIED IN TURKEY. — BOUCICAUT, DURING HIS ABSENCE WITH THE COUNT DE NEVERS, IS APPOINTED MARSHAL OF FRANCE IN THE PLACE OF THE LORD LOUIS DE SANCERRE. — THE FRENCH LORDS WHO HAD BEEN PRISONERS IN TURKEY RETURN TO FRANCE.
YOU have heard that the count d’Eu, constable of France, died in his bed at Bursa in Turkey, to the great regret of all his friends, more especially the king of France, who much loved him. The constableship became vacant by his death, and that office is of such weight that it must not long remain so. Councils were therefore held to appoint his successor, and the wise among them nominated the lord Louis de Sancerre, in which they were confirmed by the majority in the kingdom. He had been a very long time marshal of France, and 654 was so at the time of his election, residing in Languedoc. Being sent for by the king to Paris, he was invested with the office of constable, and by this vacated the charge of marshal; on which the king said, that he had already thought of a successor, for that no one should have it but his knight the lord Boucicaut. All the lords agreed to the propriety of this choice, for indeed he was deserving of it, and when appointed was at Venice. He returned home shortly after this, for the ransoms were paid, and the whole of those who had been prisoners in Turkey came back to France, to the great joy of their friends and countrymen. The lord Boucicaut was made marshal of France; and the count de Nevers waited on the duke and duchess of Burgundy, and was well feasted by them and others, for he was returned from a long and dangerous expedition, wherein he and his companions had suffered many perils, but, through the race of God, they had escaped, and were returned home. The count was seen with much pleasure by all in Flanders, Artois, and Burgundy, and other dependencies of his father, as he was their heir-apparent. After he had remained some time with the duke and duchess, and had visited the countries under their obedience, he determined to wait on the king of France and the duke of Orleans, both of whom received him honourably and kindly. He was made welcome by all the lords and ladies of the court. The king and the duke of Orleans were very glad to see him again, and eagerly listened to his relation of what he had suffered. They inquired news of Turkey, of the battle of Nicopoli, of the adventures he had met with, how he was made prisoner, and of the state of Bajazet.
The count satisfied them by his answers, for he was well spoken, and made no complaints, at least by speech, of the sultan, but said he had found him courteous and affable, even to those attached to his person; that he was very well treated; and he did not forget to tell the lords to whom he was speaking, that Bajazet, on his taking leave, to quit Turkey, had said, that he was born to bear arms, and make conquests in this world every year to a grater extent, and that he wished not to prevent his prisoners from again taking up arms against him, for he would with pleasure meet them in battle two, three, or four times if necessary; and that it was his intention to march to Rome, and feed his horse on the altar of Saint Peter. The count added, that the sultan thought our faith erroneous, and corrupted by those who ought to have kept its purity; and the Turks laughed and made their jokes at it. Many Saracens declared that Christianity, from the above cause, will be destroyed, and that the time is now come for its ruin; and that Bajazet was born to accomplish this, and be king over all the world. “Such was the language the interpreter translated to me; and, from what I saw and heard, I believe they are perfectly well acquainted in Turkey, Tartary, Persia, and throughout the whole of the infidels’ country, with our schisms in the church, and how the Christians are at difference, one with another, respecting the two popes of France and Italy; and the Saracens are wonderfully surprised how the kings of the different countries suffer it.”
This speech of the count de Nevers gave the king and lords of France enough to think on. Some said the Saracens were in the right to make their jokes and laugh, for priests were allowed to meddle too much in affairs that did not concern them; that it was time to lower their pomp, or force them to do it themselves. The young clergy, who were studying the Scriptures at the university of Paris, could not obtain any benefices from this schism in the church, and were not displeased that the people murmured against the pope. They rejoice at what the count de Nevers had related, and that the Turks and Saracens made derision of our faith. “In good truth,” they added, “they are in the right to laugh at it, and, if the king of France and the emperor of Germany do not speedily attend to this schism, we foresee that church-affairs will daily become worse. All things considered, those who have been neuter between the two popes have acted wisely, and thus it behoves every one who wishes for union in the church.”
It was secretly told the king, by those who loved him and were desirous he should regain his health, that it was the common opinion throughout France he would never be perfectly recovered until the church were properly regulated. They added, that his father, king Charles of happy memory, had, on his death-bed, charged his council with this matter; that he suspected he had been deceived by these popes, and had made his determination too soon, 655 for which he felt his conscience was loaded. He excused himself, saying, — “When our lord and father died, we were very young. We have followed the counsel of those who have hitherto governed, and if we have acted wrong or foolishly, it has been their fault, and not ours; but, since we have had fuller information, we will soon attend to the business, and in such a manner that the effect shall be apparent.” The king of France paid more attention to this matter than he had ever done before, and promised himself and his council that he would provide a remedy. He spoke of it to his brother, the duke of Orleans, who inclined instantly to his opinion, as did the duke of Burgundy, for, notwithstanding he had acknowledged the pope, who styled himself Clement, he had no great faith in him: the prelates of France, particularly Guy de Roye, archbishop of Rheims, the archbishops of Sens, of Rouen, and the bishop of Autun, had induced him to acknowledge Clement.
It was determined in a private council, that, if a union of the church were sought for, it was necessary to have the assent of Germany. Learned men were therefore sent as ambassadors to the king of Bohemia and Germany, who styled himself king of the Romans. Master Philip des Playes was one of these ambassadors, who had instructions to prevail on the king of Germany to meet the king of France in the city of Rheims; and that no prelates, cardinals, archbishops, or bishops, might any way interrupt this meeting, or interfere with the object, it was published that the cause for the two monarchs, with their councils, coming to Rheims, was to treat of a marriage between a son of the marquis of Brandenburgh, brother to the emperor and a daughter of the duke of Orleans, and under cover of this they could treat of other matters.
During the time these negotiations were going forward, the lord Guy de Châtillon, count de Blois, departed this life in his hôtel at Avesnes, in Hainault. He was carried to Valenciennes, and buried in the church of the Franciscans, in a chapel called the chapel of Artois. True it is, that he had made a large inclosure for the Franciscans, and intended erecting his tomb within it; but he died so much in debt, that his countess, the lady Mary or Namur, was obliged to renounce all claim to his moveables. She dared not act under his will, but retired to her dowry o the land so Chimay and Beaumont, and the estates went to their right heirs. The duke of Orleans had the county of Blois, for which, during the late count’s life, he had paid him two hundred thousand crowns of France. The lands in Hainault, Holland, and Zealand, went to duke Albert of Bavaria: those of Avesnes, Landrecies, and Louvion [Nouvion,!!!!!!) in Tierache, fell to John of Blois, more commonly called John of Brittany, to whom, if count Guy had not sold it, the county of Blois would have devolved as to its right heir. Observe what mischief a lord may do his heir by listening to bad advice*. [I make mention of it because the count Guy de Blois was very anxious, during his life, that I, sir John Froissart, should indite this history; and he was at great expenses to forward it, for so considerable an undertaking cannot be accomplished without heavy charges. May God receive his soul! He was my lord and patron, of high honour and great renown, and had no need to make the pitiful bargain he did in the sale of his estates; but he too readily believed those who advised him to dishonourable and profitless acts. The lord de Coucy, who died at Bursa, was very culpable in this business.] We will now return to the affairs of England.
* All between the crotchets is from the MSS. In the B. Museum and at Hafod, but not in the printed copies.
CHAPTER XCII. — THE DEATHS OF THE DUKE OF GLOUCESTER AND THE EARL OF ARUNDEL. — THE MANNER IN WHICH THE DUKES OF LANCASTER AND YORK, AND THE LONDONERS, TAKE THE MATTER.
YOU have before seen, in the course of this history, that king Richard of England would not longer conceal the great hatred he bore his uncle of Gloucester, but had determined to have him cut off, according to the advice given him, setting it forth to be more advisable to destroy than be destroyed. You have likewise heard how the king had rode to the castle of Pleshy, thirty miles from London, and with fair words had cajoled the duke out of his castle, and was accompanied by him to a lane that led to the Thames, where they arrived 656 between ten and eleven o’clock at night; and how the earl-marshal, who there lay in ambush, had arrested him in the king’s name, and forced him towards the Thames, in spite of his cries to the king to deliver him. He was conscious, that from the moment of his being thus arrested, his end was resolved on, and it was confirmed to him by the king turning a deaf ear to his complaints, and riding on full gallop to London, where he lodged that night in the Tower. The duke of Gloucester had other lodgings; for, whether he would or not, he was forced into a boat that carried him to a vessel at anchor on the Thames, into which he was obliged to enter. The earl-marshal embarked also with his men, and, having a favourable wind and tide, they fell down the river, and arrived, late on the morrow evening, at Calais, without any one knowing of it except the king’s officers. [The earl-marshal, as governor, could enter Calais at all hours, without any one thinking it extraordinary: he carried the duke to the castle, wherein he confined him.]
You may supposed, that when news was carried to Pleshy of the duke of Gloucester’s arrest, the duchess ad her children were greatly dismayed, and, since such a bold measure had been taken, were much afraid of the consequences. Suspecting the duke’s life was in great danger, they consulted sir John Laquingay what would be best for them now to do. The knight instantly advised them to send instantly to the dukes of Lancaster and York, the duke’s brothers; for by their mediation, perhaps, the king’s choler would be appeased. He saw no other means, as the king would not choose to make them his enemies. The duchess of Gloucester followed this advice of the knight, and instantly despatched messengers to both, for they resided at a distance from each other. They were much enraged at hearing their brother was arrested, and returned answers to the duchess, not to be too much distressed at what had happened, for the king would not dare to treat him otherwise than by fair and legal measures, for it would not be suffered. This answer comforted the duchess and her children.
The king of England left the Tower of London at a very early hour, and rode to Eltham, where he remained. The same day, towards evening, the earls of Arundel and Warwick were brought to the Tower by the king’s officers, and there confined, to the great surprise of the citizens. Their imprisonment caused many to murmur, but they were afraid to act, or do anything against the king’s pleasure, lest they might suffer for it. It was the common conversation of the knights, squires, and citizens of London, and in other towns, — “It is useless for us to say more on this matter, for the dukes of Lancaster and York, brothers to the duke of Gloucester, can provide a remedy for all this whenever they please: they assuredly would have prevented it form happening, if they had suspected the king had so much courage, or that he would have arrested their brother; but they will repent of their indolence: and, if they are not instantly active, it will end badly.”
When the duke of Gloucester saw himself confined in the castle of Calais, abandoned by his brothers, and deprived of his attendant, he began to be much alarmed. He addressed himself to the earl-marshal: “For what reason am I thus carried from England and confined here? It seems that you mean to imprison me. Let me go and view the castle, its garrison, and the people of the town.” “My lord,” replied the earl, “I dare not comply with your demands, for you are consigned to my guard, under pain of death. The king our lord is at this moment somewhat wroth with you; and it is his orders that you abide here a while, in banishment with us, which you must have patience to do, until we have other news, and God grant that it may be soon! for, as the Lord may help me, I am truly concerned for your disgrace, and would cheerfully aid you if I could, but you know the oath I have taken to the king, which I am bound in honour to obey.” The duke of Gloucester could not obtain any other answer. He judged, from appearances of things around him, that he was in danger of his life, and asked a priest who said mass, if he would confess him. This he did, with great calmness and resignation, and with a devout and contrite heart cried before the altar of God, the Creator of all things, for his mercy. He was repentant of all his sins, and lamented them greatly. He was in the right thus to exonerate his conscience, for his end was nearer than he imagined. I was informed, that on the point of his sitting down to dinner, when the tables were laid, and he was about to wash his hands, four men rushed out from an adjoining chamber, and, throwing a towel round his neck, strangled
657 him, by two drawing one end and two the other*. When he was quite dead, they carried him to his chamber, undressed him, and placed the body between two sheets, with his head on a pillow, and covered him with furred mantles. They then re-entered the hall, properly instructed what to say and how to act, and declared the duke of Gloucester had been seized with a fit of apoplexy as he was washing his hands before dinner, and that they had great difficulty to carry him to bet. This was spoken of in the castle and town, where some believed it, but others not. Within two days after, it was published abroad that the duke of Gloucester had died in his bed at the castle of Calais; and, in consequence, the earl marshal put on mourning, for he was nearly related to him as did all the knights and squires in Calais.
News of this event was sooner known in France and Flanders than in England. The French rejoiced much at it; for it was commonly reported that there would never be any solid peace between France and England as long as the duke of Gloucester lived; and it was well remembered, that in the negotiations for peace he was more obstinate in his opinions than either of his brothers; and, for this reason, his death was no loss to France. In like manner, many knights and squires of the king of England’s household, who were afraid of him, for his severe and rough manners, were pleased at his death. They recounted how he had driven the duke of Ireland to banishment and had ignominiously beheaded that prudent and gallant knight sir Simon Burley, who had been so much beloved by the prince of Wales, and had done essential services to his country. The deaths of sir Robert Tresilian, sir Nicholas Bramber, sir John Standwich, and others, were not forgotten, so that the duke of Gloucester was but little lamented in England, except by those who were of his party and manner of thinking.
The duke’s body was honourably embalmed at Calais, and put into a leaden coffin, with an outward one of wood, and transport in this state by sea to England. The vessel that carried the body landed at Hadleigh Castle on the Thames, and thence it was conveyed on a car, unattended, to his castle of Pleshy, and placed in the church which the duke had founded in honour of the Holy Trinity, with twelve canons to perform devoutly the divine service. In this church was the duke buried. The duchess of Gloucester, her son Humphrey, and her two daughters, were sorely grieved when the body of the duke arrived. The duchess had double cause of affliction, for the earl of Arundel, her uncle, had been publicly beheaded in Cheapside by orders of the king. No baron nor knight dared to interpose, nor advise the king to do otherwise, for he was himself present at the execution, which was performed by the earl’s son-in-law, the earl-marshal, who bandaged his eyes.
The earl of Warwick ran great risk of suffering the same death, but the earl of Salisbury, who was in favour with the king, interceded for him, as did many other barons and princes. The king listened to their solicitations, on condition he were sent to a place he could not leave, for he would never absolutely pardon him, as he was deserving death, for having joined the duke of Gloucester and the earl of Arundel in their attempts to annul the truce which had been signed and sealed by the kings of Franc and England, for themselves and allies. This alone was a crime to be punished by an ignominious death: for the conditions of the treaties were, that whoever should break or infringe them was to be so punished.
The earl of Salisbury was very earnest in his supplications for the earl of Warwick. They had been brothers in arms ever since their youth; and he excused him on account of his great age, and of his being deceived by the fair speeches of the duke of Gloucester and the earl of Arundel: that what had been done was not from his instigation, but solely by that of others; and the house of Beauchamp, of which the earl of Warwick was the head, never imagine treason against the crown of England. The earl of Warwick was, therefore, through pity, respited from death, but banished to the Isle of Wight, which is a dependency on England. He was told, — “Earl of Warwick, this sentence is very favourable, for you have deserved to die as much as the earl of Arundel, but the handsome services you have done in times past, to king Edward of happy memory, and the prince of Wales his son, as well on this as on the other side of the sea, have secured your life; but it is ordered that you banish yourself to the Isle of Wight, taking with you a sufficiency of wealth to support 658 your state as long as you shall live, and that you never quit the island.” The earl of Warwick was not displeased with this sentence, since his life was spared, and, having thanked the king and council for their lenity, made no delay in his preparations to surrender himself in the Isle of Wight on the appointed day, which he did with part of his household. The Isle of Wight is situated opposite the coast of Normandy, and has space enough for the residence of a great lord, but he must provide himself with all that he may want from the circumjacent countries, or he will be badly supplied with provision and other things.
Thus were affairs carried on in England, and daily going from bad to worse, as you will find it related. When the duke of Lancaster and York heard of their brother’s death at Calais, they instantly suspected the king their nephew was guilty of it. At the time, they were not together, but each at his country-seat, according to the custom in England. They wrote to each other to consult how they should act on this occasion, and hastened to London because they knew the citizens were very angry at the event. On their arrival, they had several meetings, and declared that the putting the duke of Gloucester to death for some foolish words ought not to be passed over in silence, nor borne; for, although he had warmly opposed the treaty with France, he ha not acted upon it; that there was an essential difference between talking and acting, and that words alone did not deserve the severe punishment he had suffered, and that this matter must be inquired into and amended. The two brothers were in a situation to have thrown England into confusion, for there were enow who would have supported them, more especially all the kindred of the late earl of Arundel, which is a powerful family in England, and the family of the earl of Stafford.
The king at this time resided at Eltham, whither he had summoned all his vassals and dependants. He had collected round London, in the counties of Kent and Essex, upwards of two thousand archers, and had with him his brother sir John Holland, the earl marshal, the earl of Salisbury, with many other great barons and knights. The king sent orders to the citizens of London not to admit the duke of Lancaster within their walls; but they replied, they knew of no reason why they should refuse him admittance, and the duke resided there with his son the earl of Derby, as did the duke of York with his son the earl of Rutland, The king loved the earl of Rutland and the earl marshal beyond measure: the first dissembled his opinions concerning the death of the duke of Gloucester, and would willing have seen peace restored on both sides. He said, that his late uncle had on several occasions treated the king very unbecomingly. The Londoners considered, also, that great mischiefs might befal England from these dissensions between the king, his uncles, and their supporters; that, since the duke of Gloucester was now dead, it could not be helped; and that he, in some measure, had been the cause of it, by his too great freedom of speech, and from his attempts to excite the people of England to break the truces that had been signed between France and England. The citizens, therefore, prudently dissembled their thoughts; and, as what was done could not now be undone, they feared, should matters be pushed to extremities, they might suffer very considerably in their commerce from the king of France.
The resentments of the citizens began to cool, and they offered to mediate between the king and the duke of Lancaster, who was mightily angered by the murder of his brother. He bethought himself, however, that as his nephew was married to the daughter of the king of France, should he wage war against king Richard, his two daughters married in Castille and Portugal might suffer for it, from the French carrying a war into their countries. The duke was forced to change his mind, whether he would or not, from the solicitations of the citizens of London and some of the English prelates, who ha been the mediators between the king and his uncles. The king obtained peace, on promising from that day forward to be solely guided by the advice of the duke of Lancaster, engaging never to do anything without first consulting him. The promise, however, he paid not any regard to, but followed the counsels of the rash and evil-minded, for which hereafter he severely suffered, as shall be related in this history. Thus did the king of England gain peace from his uncles for the murder of the duke of Gloucester, and now governed more fiercely than before. He went with his state to Pleshy in Essex, which had belonged to his uncle of Gloucester, and should have descended to his son Humphrey as heir to his father; but the king took possession of it, for it is the rule in England for the king to have the 659 wardship of all children who have lost their fathers, and are under twenty-one ears of age, at which period their estates are restored to them. King Richard took his cousin Humphrey of Gloucester in ward, appropriating all his possession to his own profit. He made him live with him, and the duchess and her two daughters with the queen.
The late duke of Gloucester was by inheritance constable of England; but the king deprived his heir of it, and gave it to his cousin the earl of Rutland. The king now seemed assumed a greater state than ever king of England had been before, nor had there been any one who had expended such large sums by one hundred thousand nobles. He also took the wardship of the heir of Arundel, son to the late earl whom he had beheaded in London, as has been related, and forced him to live with him. And because one of the knights of the late duke of Gloucester, named Cerbec†, had spoken too freely of the king and council, he was arrested and instantly beheaded. Sir John Lacquingay was likewise in some peril; but, when he saw the turn affairs had taken, he quitted the service of the duchess of Gloucester, and fixed his abode elsewhere. At this period there was no one, however great, in England, that dared speak his sentiments of what the king did or intended doing. He had formed a council of his own from the knights of his chamber, who encouraged him to act as they advised. The king had in his pay full two thousand archers, who were on guard day and night, for he did not think himself perfectly safe from his uncles or the Arundel family‡.
* He was smothered with pillows, not strangled. Hall, one of the accomplices, made a particular confession of all the circumstances. See Parl Plac. viii. P. 452. — ED.
† Cerbec. It is Cerber and Cerbel.
‡ For more ample particulars respecting the murder of the duke of Gloucester, I must refer the ready to Mr. Gough’s History of Pleshy.
CHAPTER XCIII. — A GREAT ASSEMBLY HOLDEN AT RHEIMS, BY THE EMPEROR OF GERMANY AND KING OF FRANCE, ON THE SCHISM IN THE CHURCH, AND ON THE MEANS O UNITING THE TWO PARTIES.
AT this period, there was a numerous assembly of great lords in the city of Rheims, as well from the empire of Germany as from France, whose object was to restore union to the church. At the solicitation of the king of France, the emperor* had come thither in person, attended by his ministers; but because they wished it not to be publicly known tat this meeting was to consider of the rivalship of the two popes of Rome and of Avignon, they had it rumoured, that the lords of the empire came to Reims to treat of a marriage between a son of the marquis to Brandenburgh, brother to the emperor, and a daughter of the duke of Orleans. The king of France was lodged in the archbishop’s palace, as were the dukes of Orleans, Berry, Burgundy, and count de Saint Pol, with other barons and prelates of France. When the emperor was about to make his entry into Rheims, all these lords and prelates, with Charles, king of Navarre, went to meet him: after receiving him most honourably, they conducted him first to the church of Our Lady, and then to the abbey of Saint Remy, where he was lodged with all his lords. His attendants, and the others who had accompanied him, were placed as near to him as was possible; and the king of France had ordered, that all the expenses of the emperor and Germans, during their residence in Rheims, should be paid by his officers in the most ample manner. In consequence, there were daily delivered to the Germans ten tons of herrings, for it was Lent, and eight hundred carp, without counting different sorts of fish and other things, which cost the king immense sums.
When the emperor paid his first visit to the king of France, the great lords before-mentioned went to seek him at the abbey of Saint Remy, and conducted him in great state to the palace. On the two monarchs meeting, they paid many compliments to each other, as they knew well how to do, especially the king of France, for the Germans are a rude unmannered race, except in what regards their person and advantage, and in this they are active and expert enough. The lords of both countries who were present made acquaintance together, with many outward signs of satisfaction: and the king of France entertained the whole at dinner, of which I will mention some particulars. At the top of the king’s table 660 was seated the patriarch of Jerusalem: next to him the emperor, then the king of France, and the king of Navarre: no more were at this table. At the others were seated the lords from Germany; and they were waited on by the lords of France, for none of them sat down. The dukes of Berry, Bourbon, and the count de St. Pol, with other great barons, placed the dishes, and served the king’s table. The duke of Orleans supplied the company with such quantities of plates of gold and silver as though they had been made of wood. The dinner was splendid, and abundantly well served, and deserving of remembrance. I was told that the king made a present to the emperor of all the fold and silver plate that was used, as well as what was on the side-board, with all the tapestry and ornaments of the apartment whither the emperor retired after dinner to partake of wine and spices. This gift was estimated at two hundred thousand florins; and the other Germans were presented with magnificent gifts of gold and silver plate. The Germans, and other strangers who had come thither to view the fest, greatly wondered at the wealth and power of France.
During the residence of these monarchs at Rheims, their ministers frequently met to consider of the marriage of the marquis of Brandenburgh, and the reformation of the church. The marriage was agreed on, and published in Rheims, but their consultations and resolutions, concerning the church, were kept secret: what I shall say on the subject came to my knowledge afterward. It was determined that Peter d’Ailly, bishop of Cambray, would be sent as ambassador from the emperor and the king of France to the person who styled himself pope Boniface at Rome, and negotiate with him in their names with the view of inducing hi, to submit to a new election: should the choice again fall on him, he would be acknowledged by them as pope, but, if not, then he was to resign. The bishop was to declare the same to the pope of Avignon; adding that, if either of the popes refused to comply with this disposition of the two monarchs, they would be degraded, and every honour and profit of the church taken from them: that in this the kings of England, Scotland, Castille, Portugal, and Navarre, had joined. The emperor said he would answer for his brother the king of Hungary, and all Bohemia and Germany, as far as Prussia, being of the same sentiment. The monarchs likewise declared that, on the bishop’s return from his embassy, they would exert themselves, with their friends and allies, that what they had now agreed on should be executed without any variation. Thus ended this meeting; the two monarchs separated most amicably, and each returned to his usual place or residence. The duke of Burgundy refused to attend at Rheims; for he said it would not answer any purpose, and that whatever might be given to the Germans, they would never keep the engagements they should enter into. However, notwithstanding this speech of the duke, nothing was left undone, and matters were concluded as you have heard.
Peter d’Ailly, bishop of Cambray, was not long in making preparations for his journey, and set out on his embassy to Rome and Avignon, to declare the engagements the emperor and king of France had entered into. The king of France sent ambassadors to his son-in-law, the king of England, to acquaint him with what had been done, that he might unite in the same opinion. King Richard received the ambassadors with joy: and when he learnt the object of their mission, which was, to entreat he would remain neuter, if he could not prevail on his subjects to unite with France and Germany, in case the two popes refused compliance, replied he would so manage that his kingdom should act in the matter as he pleased. This he instantly promised, to the great joy of the ambassadors. After they had staid with the king and queen of England as long as they had chosen, they took leave and returned to Paris by Boulogne, and related all that had passed to the king and council. This was very agreeable to the king, and affairs remained in this state some time.
The king of Navarre came to Paris to visit the king of France, and thought he might perhaps recover his inheritance of Evreux, in Normandy, which the king of France had seized from his father, as has been related in this history; but, in spite of every attempt, he was unsuccessful. The king of Navarre, seeing he laboured in vain, took the matter in great displeasure, and abruptly left the court of France, discontented with the king and his ministers, and returned to Navarre. We will now leave the affairs of Germany, France, and Navarre, to speak of what befel England, whence sprung such melancholy events as have not been recorded in this history, and which my readers will allow when they come to the detail of them.
* Wenceslaus of Luxembourg.
CHAPTER XCIV. — THE EARL MARSHAL CHALLENGES THE EARL OF DERBY, SON TO THE DUKE OF LANCASTER, IN THE PRESENCE OF THE KING AND HIS COUNCIL.
KING Richard of England was of a temper that, when he took a liking to any one, he instantly raised him to high honours, and had such confidence in him that no one dared to say anything to his prejudice. At the same time, there had not been a king of England in the memory of man who so easily believed all that was told him. His favourites, however, paid no attention to the miserable fate of many of their predecessors; how the duke of Ireland had been banished, sir Simon Burley, sir Robert Tresilian, sir Nicholas Bramber, and others had lost their lives, for counsels they had given the king, and for which the duke of Gloucester had taken great pains in their destruction. The duke was now dead, and the favourites of the moment, who continually counselled the king as they pleased, were not sorry, for they imagined no one would now pretend to oppose them. Some about the king’s person could not disguise their pride and presumption, especially the earl marshal, who was in the highest degree of favour. To flatter and please the king, and to show how true and loyal a servant he was, whenever he heard any reports he told them to the king, expecting from such means to rise still higher in favour; but many, thinking to advance, are repulsed. Thus it happened to the earl marshal.
You must know that the earl of Derby and the late duke of Gloucester had married two sisters, daughters to the earl of Hereford and Northampton, constable of England: the children, therefore, of the earl of Derby and duke of Gloucester were cousin-germans by their mother’s sides, and one degree removed by their father’s. To say the truth, the death of the duke of Gloucester had displeased many of the great barons of England, who frequently murmured at it when together; but the king had now so greatly extended his power, none dared to speak of it openly, nor act upon the current rumours of the mode of his death. The king had caused it to be proclaimed, that whoever should say anything respecting the duke of Gloucester or the earl of Arundel, should be reckoned a false and wicked traitor and incur his indignation. This threat had caused many to be silent, afraid of what might befal them, who were, nevertheless, much dissatisfied.
At this time, a conversation passed between the earl of Derby and the earl-marshal, in which the state of the king and the counsellors whom he trusted became the subject of discussion. The earl marshal caught at the following words the other had made use of, with a good intent, thinking they would never have been mentioned again, for they were neither arrogant nor traitorous: “Holy Mary! fair cousin, what does the king next intend to do? Will he drive all the nobles out of England? There will soon be none left; and he plainly shows he is not desirous to add to the honour of his realm.” The earl marshal made no reply, but treasured this speech in his mind, as he considered it very impertinent, in regard to the king, and thought within himself that the earl of Derby was well inclined to excite troubles in England, for he was marvellously beloved by the Londoners. He therefore determined (for the devil entered his brain, and what has been ordained to happen must come to pass), to report this speech in the presence of the king and his nobility.
Soon after this conversation, the earl marshal, to flatter and gain favour with the king, said, — [“My lord, all your enemies and ill-wishers are not dead, nor out of the kingdom>“ The king changed colour, and replied, “How, cousin, do you know this?” “I know it well,” answered the earl marshal: “for the moment, I will not say more; but, that you may provide a remedy in time, have it proclaimed that you will hold a solemn feast on this ensuing Palm Sunday, and invite all the princes of your blood, particularly the earl of Derby, when you shall hear something that will surprise you, and what you are not suspicious of, notwithstanding it so nearly concerns you.” The king was very pensive on hearing this, and begged the earl marshal to give him further information; that he might safely tell him all, for he would keep it secret. I know not if he did so; but the king, if he did, kept it to himself, and allowed the earl to act in the matter as he pleased; the consequences of which were as follows.
The king had it proclaimed that he would hold a solemn feast at his palace at Eltham on 662 Palm Sunday, and sent particular invitations to the dukes of Lancaster and York and their children, who, not suspecting any mischief, came thither. When the day of the feast was arrived, and all the lords had retire after dinner with the king to his council-chamber, the earl marshal, having settled in his own mind how to act and what to say, cast himself on his knees before the king, and thus addressed him:] “Very dear and renowned lord, I am of your kindred, your liege man and marshal of England; and I have beside sworn on my loyalty, my hand within yours, that I would never conceal from you anything I might hear or see to your prejudice, on pain of being accounted a disloyal traitor. This I am resolved never to be, but to acquit myself before you and all the world.” The king, fixing his eyes on him, asked, “Earl marshal, what is your meaning in saying thus? We will know it.” “Very dear lord,” replied the earl, “as I have declared, I will not keep any secret from you: order the earl of Derby to come to your presence, and I will speak out.” The earl of Derby was called for, and the king made the earl marshal rise, for he addressed him on his knees. On the earl of Derby’s arrival, who thought no harm, the earl marshal spoke as follows: “Earl of Derby, I charge you with having thought and spoken disrespectfully against your natural lord the king of England, when you said he was unworthy to hold the crown: that without law or justice, or consulting his council, he disturbed the realm; and that, without any shadow of reason, he banished those valiant men from his kingdom who ought to be its defenders, for all of which I present my glove, and shall prove, my body against yours, that you are a false and wicked traitor.”
The earl of Derby was confounded at this address, and retired a few paces, without demanding from the duke his father, or any of his friends, how he should act. Having mused a while, he advanced, with his hood in his hand, towards the king, and said, “Earl marshal, I say that thou art a false and wicked traitor, which I will bodily prove on thee, and here is my glove.” The earl marshal, seeing his challenge was accepted, showed a good desire for the combat, by taking up the glove and saying, — “I refer your answer to the good pleasure of the king and the lords now present. I will prove that what you have said is false, and that my words are true.” Each of these lords then withdrew with his friends, and the time for serving wine and spices was passed by; for the king showed he was sore displeased, and retired to his chamber and shut himself within it. His two uncles remained without with their children, as did the earl of Salisbury and Huntingdon, the king’s brother.663
Soon afterward, the king called to him his uncles and demanded from them how he was to act on this occasion. “Sire, order your constable hither, and we will tell you.” The earl of Rutland, constable of England, being sent for, came, and he was told, — “Constable, go to the earl of Derby and the earl marshal, and oblige them to promise not to quit the kingdom without the king’s permission.” The constable obeyed the order, and returned to the king’s apartment. You may believe the whole court was greatly troubled by this event, and many barons and knights were much displeased, who blamed the earl marshal for his conduct; but what he had said he could not now retract, and he showed by his manners that he made light of it, so arrogant and swollen with pride was his heart. The lords now separated, each for his own home. The duke of Lancaster, in spite of appearances, was much vexed at what had passed, and his opinion was, that the king should not have listened to such a charge, but instantly have annihilated it; and in this he was jointed by the more sensible barons of the country.
The earl of Derby resided in London, for he had his house there, and kept up his state. The duke of Lancaster, the duke of York, the earl of Northumberland, and many other great lords, for he was much beloved, were his securities to appear and answer the challenge. The earl marshal was sent to the Tower of London, where he lived with his household. These two lords made ample provision of all things necessary for the combat; and the earl of Derby sent off messengers to Lombardy to have armour from sir Galeas, duke of Milan. The duke complied with joy, and gave the knight, called sir Francis, who had brought the message, the choice of all his armour for the earl of Derby. When he had selected what he wished for in plated and mail armour, the lord of Milan, out of his abundant love to the earl, ordered four of the best armourers in Milan to accompany the knight to England, that the earl of Derby might be more completely armed. The earl marshal, on the other hand, sent into Germany, whence he thought he should be ably assisted by his friends. Each provided himself most magnificently, to outshine the other; but the greater splendour was shown by the earl of Derby, for I must say that, when the earl marshal undertook this business, he expected to have been better supported than he was by the king. It was hinted to the king, by those near his person, — “Sire, you have no occasion to interfere further in this matter; dissemble your thoughts, and leave them to themselves; they are fully capable of managing it. The earl of Derby is wondrous popular in the kingdom, but more especially in London; and, should the citizens perceive that you take part with the earl marshal against the earl of Derby, you will irrecoverably lose their affection.”
The king attended to this advice, for he knew it was true; in consequence, he dissembled his opinion, and suffered each to provide for himself. The news of this combat between the earl of Derby and the earl marshal made a great noise in foreign parts; for it was to be for life or death, and before the king and great barons of England. It was spoken of differently: some said, particularly in France, — “Let them fight it out: these English knights are too arrogant, and in a short time will cut each other’s throats. They are the most perverse nation under the sun, and their island is inhabited by the proudest people.” But others, more wise, said, — “The king of England does not show great sense, nor that he is well advised, when for foolish words, undeserving serious notice, he permits two such valiant and noble lords, and of his kindred, thus to engage in mortal combat. He ought, according to the opinions of many wise men, to have said, when he first heard this charge, — “You earl of Derby, and you earl marshal, are my near relations: I command, therefore, that you harbour no hatred nor malevolence against each other, but live like friends and cousins as you are. Should your stay in this country become tiresome, travel into foreign parts, to Hungary or elsewhere, and seek for deeds of arms and adventures.” If the king of England had done so, or come forward to prevent this combat, he would have acted wisely, according to the opinions of men of sense and prudence.
The duke of Lancaster was much vexed and melancholy at seeing the king of England, his nephew, thus badly conduct himself, but knew not to whom to open his thoughts. He, like a wise man, considered the consequences that might ensue, and at times said to those he most confided in, — “Our nephew will ruin everything before he have done: he too readily listens to evil counsellors, who will destroy him and his kingdom. Should he live long, he 664 will lose by little and little all it has cost his predecessors and us so much pains to gain. He encourages discord between his nobles and great lords, by whom he ought to be honoured and served, and the country guarded. He has put my brother to death, for it is now notorious he ordered it, and likewise the earl of Arundel, because they told him the truth; but this he refuses to hear, and will not listen to any one who does not flatter his own imagination. He cannot sooner ruin his country than by exciting hatreds among his nobility and principal towns. The French are too subtle a race, for one misfortune that befals us they would wish ten, as they can never obtain their ends, or recover their domains, but through ourselves; and every day there are examples of the misery of kingdoms when divided. Such has been the unfortunate lot of France, Castile, Naples and the Roman state; and the present schism is the ruin of the contending popes, as well as the church. Flanders is another example which we have seen of self-destruction. Friesland is at this moment in a similar state, oppressed by the war of the count of Hainault, and ruining themselves by domestic quarrels. We shall be in the same situation unless God prevent it, from the appearance of the present state of affairs. The king has consented that my son and heir, for I have none other by my first two marriages, should be challenged to mortal combat for a mere trifle, and I, his father, dare not say a word against it, in regard to my own and my son’s honour; for my son has the feelings of a knight, and is of sufficient strength to encounter the earl marshal. Howbeit, let the best be made of it, they will never again love each other as they did before.” Such were the conversations of the duke of Lancaster.
The two earls, in the mean time, were making every preparation for their combat. The duke of Lancaster never went near the king, and as seldom saw his son, acting throughout with great good sense. He knew the earl of Derby was very popular with all ranks in England, but more particularly with the Londoners, who waited on him, and addressed him, — “Earl of Derby, make our mind easy: whatever may be the event of this combat it will turn out to your honour, in spite of the king and his minions. We know well how things are managed, and what will be the result of them: this accusation has been invented by envy, to cause your banishment out of the kingdom, where they are aware you are so greatly beloved by all ranks and sexes; and should you be forced to quit us in sorrow, you shall return in joy, for you are more worthy to rule than Richard of Bordeaux. Whoever may choose to search the matter to the bottom, to discover the real origin of you both, will soon see that you have a greater right to the crown of England than he who wears it, although we have paid him homage, and acknowledged him for king these twenty years; but that was obtained by the entreaties of your grandfather, king Edward of happy memory, who was suspicious of what we hint, and feared the consequences. There was once a serious dispute on this subject between king Edward and your grandfather by our mother’s side, duke Henry of Lancaster, but the great lords interfered and made up matters between them. King Edward was valiant and successful in all his enterprises, and had gained the love of his subjects high and low. Your grandfather of Lancaster only required from the king what was just, and served him and his kingdom so loyally, that his conduct deserved the commendation of all. Every one who knew him called him their old father. These things are worthy of king Richard’s consideration, and may make him repent, if anything can, at his leisure, that he has not more prudently governed.” Such conversations did many of the nobles and citizens of London hold with the earl of Derby, who was pleased with their affection, and received them kindly. He did not however, neglect any preparations for his combat, but sent to every one of his friends throughout England, to entreat their company at the appointed day and place.
King Richard, notwithstanding he had suffered this challenge and appeal to arms to be made in his presence, was uncertain how to act, and whether to allow the combat to take place or not. And although he was the king of England the most feared of any who had worn the crown, he was guarded day and night by two thousand archers, who were regularly paid weekly, and had confidence only in his brother the earl of Huntingdon, and the earls of Salisbury and Rutland, his cousin, who were highly in his favour. He paid no regard to others, except a few of the knights of his chamber, who were his advisers. When the day for the combat was approaching, and the two lords had made their preparations, waiting 665 only for the king’s commands, king Richard’s secret advisers asked, “Sire, what is your intention respecting the combat between your two cousins, the earl of Derby and the earl marshal? Will you permit them to proceed?” “Yes,” replied the king: “why not? I intend to be present myself and to see their prowess. We may perhaps learn, from the issue of this combat, what we are now ignorant of, although it may be very important for us to know, that we may provide accordingly: for there is no one so great in England, but, if he anger me, he shall dearly pay for it. Should I allow myself to be any way governed by my subjects, they would soon overpower me; I know for certain that some of my kinsmen have held secret meetings respecting my government; but the most dangerous among them was the duke of Gloucester, for in all England there was none more wrong-headed. He is now at peace, and henceforward we shall manage the rest well enough. But tell me, I pray you, why you ask the question?” “Sire,” replied they, “we are bound to advise you to the best of our knowledge and abilities. We sometimes hear and observe what you cannot, for you are in your apartments, and we abroad in the fields, or in London, where many conversations are held that nearly touch you, as well as us. There is yet time to provide a remedy, and we earnestly advise you not to delay it.” “What do you mean/” said the king: “speak out, and do not spare me; for I wish to act rightly, and to maintain justice in my kingdom.” “Sire, the common report throughout England, but especially in London, is, that you are the cause of this combat, and that you have induced the earl marshal to challenge the earl of Derby. The Londoners in general, and may of the prelates and nobles, say, that you are in the direct road to destroy all your kindred and kingdom, but that they will not suffer it to be done. Now, were the citizens to rise and be joined by the nobility, who could oppose them? You have no power but from your vassals; and they are now more suspicious of you than ever, from your marriage with a princess of France; and you are less beloved by your subjects on this account. Know, that if you allow these two earls to meet in arms, you will not be lord of the field but the Londoners, united with the earl of Derby’s great connexions by blood, who are all much attached to him. The earl marshal is become very unpopular, particularly with the citizens of London, who would willingly put him to death. Three parts of the people of England say, that when you heard the charge of the earl marshal, you should have acted otherwise than you did, and checked the quarrel by telling them, ‘You are both my cousins and liege men, and I command that peace be henceforward between you;’ and that you should have taken the earl of Derby the hand, and led him to your chamber with every token of affection. Because you did not this, the common report is, that you warmly take the part of the earl marshal against the earl of Derby. Weigh well what we have said, for we have told you the truth, and you never had more occasion or good advice than at this moment.”
The king, on hearing these words, changed colour (for they had boldly spoken out, and certainly what they had said could not be contradicted), turned aside and leant on a window, where he mused a considerable time. He then turned to those who had addressed him, namely, the archbishop of York, the earls of Huntingdon and Salisbury, and three other knights of his chamber, and said, — “I have attentively heard everything you have advised, and should be blame-worthy if I followed not your counsel: consider, therefore, how you would have me act.” “Sire,” replied their spokesman, “what we have been talking of is matter of great danger. You must dissemble your resentments, and put an end to this business, if you wish for peace and to preserve your honour. You ought to pay more respect to the general opinion of your realm than the idle talk of two knights. It is believed throughout England that he lord marshal behaved himself very ill, and, by stirring up many things that were better forgotten, is desirous to pick a quarrel with the earl of Derby, raise the people, and throw all things into confusion. He must therefore suffer for so doing, and the earl of Derby be acquitted. We have considered the matter in every point of view, and advised that, before they arm or make further preparations, you send them your commands to appear before you, and to abide by whatever you determine between them. You will therefore give judgment, that, within fifteen days, the earl marshal quit England, without any hope of ever returning, and the earl of Derby be banished thence for the space of ten years. When the time for their departure arrives, you will, to please the people, abridge 666 four years of the earl of Derby’s sentence, so that his banishment will be only for six years, but that he must not expect further favour. Such is the advice we give you: be very careful to prevent their meeting in arms, or the greatest mischiefs may arise from it.” The king was thoughtful a moment, and replied, “You have faithfully advised me, and it shall be done.”
CHAPTER XCV. — KING RICHARD OF ENGLAND BANISHES THE EARL OF DERBY FROM ENGLAND FOR TEN YEARS, AND THE EARL MARSHAL FOR HIS LIFE.
NOT long after this, the king of England summoned a large council of the great nobles and prelates at Eltham. On their arrival, he placed his two uncles of Lancaster and York beside him, with the earls of Northumberland, Salisbury and Huntingdon. The earl of Derby and the earl marshal were sent for, and put into separate chambers, for it had been ordered they were not to meet. The king showed he wished to mediate between them, notwithstanding their words had been very displeasing to him, and ought not to be lightly pardoned. He required therefore that they should submit themselves to his decision; and to this end sent the constable of England, with four great barons, to oblige them to promise punctually to obey it. The constable and the lords waited on the two earls, and explained the king’s intentions. They both bound themselves, in their presence, to abide by whatever sentence the king should give. They having reported this, the king said, — “Well then, I order that the earl marshal, for having caused trouble in this kingdom, by uttering words which he could not prove otherwise than by common report, be banished the realm: he may seek any other land he pleases to dwell in, but he must give over all hope of returning hither, as I banish him for life. I also order, that the earl of Derby, our cousin, for having angered us, and because he has been, in some measure, the cause of the earl marshal’s crime and punishment, prepare to leave the kingdom within fifteen days, and be banished hence for the term of ten years, without daring to return unless recalled by us; but we shall reserve to ourself the power of abridging this term in part or altogether.” The sentence was satisfactory to the lords present, who said: “The earl of Derby may readily go two or three years an amuse himself in foreign parts, for he is young enough; and, although he has already travelled to Prussia, the Holy Sepulchre, Cairo and Saint Catherine’s*, he will find other places to visit. H has two sisters, queens of Castille and of Portugal, and may cheerfully pass his time with them. The lords, knights and squires of those countries, will make him welcome, for at this moment all warfare is at an end. On his arrival in Castille, as he is very active, he may put them in motion, and lead them against the infidels of Granada, which will employ his time better than remaining idle in England. Or he may go to Hainault, where his cousin, and brother in arms, the count d’Ostrevant, will be happy to see him, and gladly entertain him, that he may assist him in his war against the Freislanders. If he go to Hainault, he can have frequent intelligence from his own country and children. He therefore cannot fail of doing well, whithersoever he goes; and the king may speedily recall him, through means of the good friends he will leave behind, for he is the finest feather in his cap and he must not therefore suffer him to be too long absent, if he wish to gain the love of his subjects. The earl marshal has hard treatment, for he is banished without hope of every being recalled; but, to say the truth, he has deserved it, for all this mischief has been caused by him, and his foolish talking: he must therefore pay for it.” thus conversed many English knights with each other, the day the king passed sentence on the earl of Derby and the earl marshal.
* The monastery on Mount Sinai. — ED.
CHAPTER XCVI. — THE EARL OF DERBY, IN CONSEQUENCE OF HIS BANISHMENT, LEAVES ENGLAND FOR FRANCE. — THE EARL MARSHAL, IN OBEDIENCE TO HIS SENTENCE, GOES TO FLANDERS, AND THENCE INTO LOMBARDY.
WHEN the two earls heard the sentence the king had passed on them, they were much cast down, and not without cause. The earl marshal bitterly repented what he had said and done, but he could not foresee its consequence: he had firmly relied on being otherwise supported by the king than he was, or he would not have thought of it. It was, however, necessary to make his preparations for banishment. He settled the payments of is his income through the Lombards of Bruges, and, quitting England, arrived at Calais, where he ha been governor. He staid there a short tie, to receive part of his equipage which had been left behind. On his departure he too leave of the townsmen of Calais, and having fixed his route, would not go to France nor Hainault, for he had not any business at these places, but went to Bruges, where he staid fifteen days. On leaving this town, he visited Ghent, Mechlin, Louvain, St. Tron, Utrecht, Aix and cologne, where we will leave him, and speak of the earl of Derby, who in like manner made his preparations for obeying his sentence of banishment.
When the day of his exile drew near, he went to Eltham where the king resided. He found there his father, the duke of York his uncle, and with them the earl of Northumberland, Sir Henry Percy his son, and a great many barons and knights of England, vexed that his ill fortune should force him out of England. The greater part of them accompanied him to the presence of the king, to learn his ultimate pleasure as to this banishment. The king pretended that he was very happy to see these lords; he entertained them well, and there was a full court on the occasion. The earl of Salisbury, and the earl of Huntingdon, who had married the duke of Lancaster’s daughter, were present, and kept near to the earl of Derby, whether through dissimulation or not I am ignorant. When the time for the earl of Darby’s taking leave arrived, the king addressed his cousin with great apparent humility, and said, “that as God might help him, the words which had passed between him and the lord marshal had much vexed him; and that he had judged the matter between them to the best of his understanding, and to satisfy the people, who had murmured greatly at this quarrel. Wherefore, cousin,” he added, “to relieve you somewhat of your pain, I now remit four years of the term of your banishment, and reduce it to six years instead of ten. Make your preparations, and provide accordingly.” “My lord,” replied the earl, “I humbly thank you; and, when it shall be your good pleasure, you will extend your mercy.” The lords present were satisfied with the answer, and for this time were well pleased with the king’s behaviour, for he received them kindly. Some of them returned with the earl of Derby to London. The earl’s baggage had been sent forward to Dover, and he was advised by his father, on his arrival at Calais, to go straight to Paris, and wait on the king of France and his cousins the princes of France, for by their means he would be the sooner enabled to shorten his exile than by any other. Had not the duke of Lancaster earnestly pressed this matter, like a father anxious to console his son, he would have taken the direct road to the count d’Ostrevant in Hainault.
The day the earl of Derby mounted his horse to leave London, upwards of forty thousand men were in the streets, bitterly lamenting his departure: “Ah, gentle earl! will you then quit us? This country will never be happy until your return, and the days until then will be insufferably long. Through envy, treachery and fear, are you driven out of a kingdom where you are more worthy to reside than those which cause it. You are of such high birth and gallantry, that none others can be compared to you. Why then will you leave us, gentle earl? You have never done wrong by thought or deed, and are incapable of so doing.” Thus did men and women so piteously complain, that it was grievous to hear them. The earl of Derby was not accompanied by trumpets, nor the music of the town, but with tears and lamentations. Some of the knights who attended him whispered each other — “See the conduct of the people, how readily they complain for trifles! Whoever is inclined to stir up the Londoners against the king may soon effect it, and force the king to seek another country, and the earl of Derby 67 to remain: but this is not the moment, for, sine my lord of Lancaster suffers it, we must be patient.”
The mayor of London and several of the principal citizens, accompanied the earl of Derby as far as Dartford: some even rode to Dover with him, and remained in his company until he embarked on board the vessel that was to convey him to Calais, when they returned to their homes. The earl of Derby, before his arrival at Calais, had sent a knight and herald to the king of France, and to the dukes of Orleans, Berry, Burgundy and Bourbon, to know if it were agreeable to them that he should fix his residence in Paris, paying punctually for all that he or his people might want, and if the court would receive him.
The king of France, his brother and uncles, readily complied with his request, and apparently seemed very glad that he would come there; for, as they assured the knight, they very sincerely felt for the present disgrace of the earl. The knight and the herald, on their return, met the earl at Calais; and the king of France had sent with them sir Charles de Hangiers, to have all the cities and towns opened to the English as they travelled to Paris. The earl of Derby set out in gallant array, becoming his rank, and took the road to Amiens, where, and in every other town, he was handsomely received.
CHAPTER XCVII. — THE COUNT D’OSTREVANT SENDS AMBASSADORS TO THE EARL OF DERBY. — THE EARL ARRIVES AT PARIS.
THE moment William earl of Ostrevant, who resided at Quesnoy, heard that his cousin the earl of Derby had crossed the sea, and was at Calais, he ordered sir Ancel de Trassaguies and sir Fierabras de Vertain to ride thither and wait on the earl, and invite him to Hainault, whither, if he pleased to come and amuse himself, he would give him a hearty welcome, for it would be very agreeable to himself and his countess. The two knights obeyed the earl’s orders, and rode to Cambray and Bapaumes; for they had heard the earl of Derby had left Calais, and taken the road towards Paris through Amiens. They determined, in consequence, to push forward, and overtook the earl of Derby on his road, to whom they punctually delivered their message. The earl thanked them, as well as his cousin of Hainault who had sent them, but excused himself for the present from accepting their invitation, as he was engaged to visit the king of France and his cousins, but that he did not renounce the affection and courtesy the count d’Ostrevant offered him. The two knights, having executed their commission, took leave, and returned to Hainault, to report all they had seen and heard, and the earl continued his journey to Paris. When news was brought to the king, and the dukes of Orleans, Berry and Burgundy, that the earl of Derby was approaching Paris, the principal French lords instantly made handsome preparations to go out and meet him. The apartments of the hôtel de Saint Pol were richly furnished; and the great barons then in the town set out for Saint Denis. The king remained at the hôtel de Saint Pol: but the dukes of Orleans and Berry left Paris, and first met the earl of Derby: then came the dukes of Burgundy and Bourbon, and the lord Charles d’Albret, with many great prelates and barons. Their meeting was joyous on both sides, and they entered Paris in brilliant array.
An unfortunate accident happened on this occasion, which I will relate. A prudent and valiant squire, called Boniface, a native of Lombardy, was mounted on a strong courser that he had not been well broken. When passing through the streets, he rose upon his hind-legs, and the squire, checking by the bridle, pulled him so hard that he fell backward, and threw Boniface with such force on the pavement, that his skull was fractured. Thus died Boniface, to the great regret of many lords, particularly the duke of Orleans, by whom he was much esteemed. He had been a favourite with the late lord de Coucy, who had brought him from Lombardy to France.
The procession at length arrived at the hôtel de Saint Pol, where the king was waiting: he received very kindly his cousin the earl of Derby, who, having been well educated, behaved so agreeably to the king, that he was much liked, and, in token of his favour, the king gave him his order to wear. The earl accepted it with pleasure, and returned his thanks. I cannot pretend to say all that passed between then, but the meeting seemed to their 669 mutual satisfaction. When wine and spices had been served, the earl took leave of the king, and waited on the queen, who resided in other apartments of the same palace. He staid there some time, for the queen entertained him handsomely. On taking leave, he went to the court and mounted his horse, and was escorted to his hôtel by the lords of France, where he supped that night with his own people. Such was his reception at Paris: there were many grand entertainments made to amuse him, and that he might think the less on his banishment from his own country, which was very displeasing to the French lords. [In spite of all their kind endeavours, he at times was very melancholy, and not without reason, on being thus separated from his family. He was impatient to return, and much vexed that for such a frivolous cause he should be banished from England, and from his four promising sons, and two daughters. The earl frequently dined with the king, the duke of Orleans, and other great barons, who did everything they could to make his time pass agreeably.]
We will now leave the earl of Derby, to speak of the affairs of the church, and of the two popes, Benedict of Avignon, and Boniface of Rome.
CHAPTER XCVIII. — THE EMPEROR AND THE KING OF FRANCE PURSUE THE PLANS THEY HAD SETTLED AT RHEIMS, FOR A UNION OF THE CHURCH. — THE BISHOP OF CAMBRAY IS SENT BY THEM TO THE POPE AT ROME. — THE ANSWER THAT IS MADE HIM.
YOU have before heard of the meeting which had taken place at Rheims between the emperor and the king of France, when many secret councils were held, on establishing the union of the church, for the present schism was disgraceful. In consequence of the plans then formed, Peter d’Ailly, bishop of Cambray, was sent ambassador to pope Boniface at Rome, The bishop set out, and met the pope at Fondi, to whom he delivered his credential letters from the king and the emperor. The pope, having examined them, was satisfied of their validity, and received the bishop kindly, for he guessed the object of his mission. The ambassador explained the cause of his coming, which the pope attentively listened to, and thus replied: “That the answer his propositions required did not only personally attach to him, but to all his brother-cardinals, who might aspire to the papacy. He would summon a consistory, and, when they had fully considered the matter, would give him an answer that should be satisfactory.” This was, for the present, sufficient for the bishop of Cambray, who dined that day at the palace of the pope with some of his cardinals, and then, leaving Fondi, went to Rome.
Shortly after, pope Boniface held a convocation of cardinals at Rome; for he had quitted Fondi, and resided at the Vatican. No one was present at this consistory but the pope and the cardinals, before whom he laid the propositions of the bishop of Cambray and demanded advice what answer he should make to them. Much discussion ensued; for the cardinals were averse to undo what they had done, thinking it would turn out to their disgrace. They said to the pope, — “Holy father, considering our situation, we think you should conceal your real sentiments on this matter: but to encourage the hopes of the king of France and those of his creed, you will in your answer declare your willingness to comply with whatever the emperor of Germany, the king of Hungary, and the king of England, shall advise you; that the person who resides at Avignon, and styles himself pope Benedict, whom the king of France and his nation have acknowledged, must first resign all claim to the papacy; and that then you will cheerfully attend a general council, wherever the above-named kinds shall appoint, and bring your brother cardinals with you.” This advice was very agreeable to Boniface, who replied, in conformity to it, but in more general terms, to the bishop of Cambray, who acquitted himself honourably in the business he had been sent upon.
When the Romans heard that the emperor and the king of France had written to the pope to resign his dignity, great were the murmurings throughout the city; for the Romans were fearful they should lose the holy see, which was of infinite consequence to them and profit, from the general pardons that were personally sought for, and which obliged such multitudes to visit Rome. The jubilee was soon to take place, for which they had made 670 great preparations; and they were uneasy lest they might have incurred these expenses for nothing. The principal inhabitants of Rome waited on the pope, and showed him greater love than ever, saying: “Holy father, you are the true pope: remain in the inheritance and patrimony of the church, which belonged to St. Peter, and let no one advise you to do otherwise. Whoever may be against you, we will always continue your steady friends, and expend our lives and fortunes in the defence of your right.” Pope Boniface replied, — “My children, be comforted, for I will never resign the popedom; and, whatever the emperor or the king of France may do, I will not submit myself to their wills.” The Romans were satisfied with this answer, and returned to their homes.
The bishop of Cambray took no notice of this, but proceeded in the business he had been charged with. I fancy pope Boniface kept steady in his answer, that when it should be publicly known pope Benedict had resigned the papacy, he would act in such manner as should be agreeable to those who had sent him. The bishop, not being able to obtain more, departed for Germany, and found the emperor at Constance, to whom he delivered the answer you have heard. The emperor said, — “Bishop, you will carry this to the king of France, our brother and cousin; and, accordingly as he shall act, so will I and the empire; but, from what I see, he must begin first, and when he has deposed his pope, we will depose ours.” The bishop took leave of the emperor, and set out for Paris, where the king and his lords were expecting him. He delivered the answer from the pope, and the message from the emperor, which was kept secret until the king should assemble a great council of his nobles, to have their advice on the matter.
CHAPTER XCIX. — THE KING OF FRANCE, IN CONFORMITY TO THE ADVICE OF HIS NOBLES AND HE UNIVERSITY OF PARIS, SENDS THE BISHOP OF CAMBRAY TO POPE BENEDICT AT AVIGNON, ON THE SUBJECT OF A UNION OF THE CHURCH, AND ALSO HIS MARSHALL BOUCICAUT THITHER, TO CONSTRAIN THE POPE TO OBEDIENCE BY FORCE OF ARMS SHOULD THERE BE OCCASION.
THE king of France, in consequence of the answer of pope Boniface, and the message of the emperor, that the pope at Avignon must be the first deposed, assembled the nobles and prelates of his kingdom at Paris. Prior to this, some of the prelates of France, such as the archbishop of Rheims, sir guy de Roye, the archbishops of Rouen and of Sens, the bishops of Paris, Beauvais, and Autun, had strongly supported the pope of Avignon, particularly Clement, who had promoted them to their benefices. These six prelates, therefore, by particular orders, were not summoned to this council, but others in their room, and the heads of the university of Paris. After the bishop of Cambray had fully explained to the assembly the object of his embassy to Rome, what he had done there, the pope’s answer, and the message from the emperor, for he had returned through Germany, they began to discuss the matter, and it was resolved the university should have the preponderating voice. It was determined in this council, to the satisfaction of the king, the duke of Orleans, their uncles, and all the members of it, that the king of France should send his marshal, the lord Boucicaut, to Avignon, to prevail on pope Benedict, by negotiation or force, to resign the papacy, and submit himself to the determination of the king and his council; that the church of France should remain neuter as to the true pope, until union were restored to it, according to the decrees of a general council of prelates and churchmen which was to be instantly called.
This resolution seemed good to every one, and was adopted by the king of France, an all who had formed the council. The marshal of France and the bishop of Cambray were ordered to Avignon; and these two lords left Paris soon afterwards, travelling in company as far as Lyons, where they separated. The marshal was to remain at Lyons until he heard from the bishop, who continued his journey to Avignon, to learn what answer the person who styled himself pope at Avignon would make to the proposal from the king of France. On his arrival at Avignon, he fixed his lodgings in the great wood-market. Some of the cardinals suspected the cause of his coming, since he was sent by the king of France, but they dissembled their 671 thoughts until they heard what he had to say, and observed how Benedict should answer and conduct himself. As soon as the bishop of Cambray had taken some refreshments and changed his dress, he waited on the pope in his palace. He made him, when in his presence, the proper obeisances, but not so reverently as if he and all the world acknowledged him for the true pope, although he had given him the bishopric of Cambray, through the recommendation of the lords in France. The bishop, being well versed in Latin and French, made an elegant harangue, to explain the object of his mission from the emperor and the king of France. When the pope heard that it was the intention of these two monarchs that he as well as pope Boniface should resign their dignities, he frequently changed colour, and, raising his voice, said, — “I have laboured hard for the good of the church, and have been duly elected pope, yet now my resignation is sought; this I will never consent to as long as I live; and I wish the king of France to know that I shall not pay any attention to his regulations, but will keep my name and dignity until death.”
“Sire,” answered the bishop of Cambray, “I always thought you, under reverence, more prudent than I find you really are. Fix a day for the meeting of your cardinals, to consult with them on your answer; for, unless they agree with you, your opposition will be in vain against them and against the power of Germany and France.” Upon this, two cardinals of his creation, who foresaw that matter would end badly, stepped forward and said, “Holy father, the bishop of Cambray advises you well: follow what he says, we entreat you.” The pope replied, he would do so willingly: the audience was put an end to, and the bishop returned to his lodgings, without waiting on any of the cardinals.
On the next morning, the consistory bell was rung, and a conclave holden of all the cardinals then at Avignon, at the pope’s palace. The bishop of Cambray discoursed in Latin on the reason why he was come thither, and on the object of those who had sent him. When he had finished speaking, he was told they would maturely consider the business, and give him an answer, but that at present he must withdraw. He went elsewhere to amuse himself, while Benedict and his cardinals debated his proposals. They were for a considerable time in council, and many thought it very hard to undo what he been regularly effected; but the cardinal of Amiens said, — “My fair sirs, whether we will or not, we must obey the orders of the emperor of Germany and the king of France, since they are now united; for, without their good pleasure, we cannot exist. We might indeed withstand the emperor, if the king of France would support us, but, as that is no longer the case, we must submit, or he will exclude us from all our benefices, and how then are we to live? In truth, holy father, we have elected you pope, on condition that you would exert yourself in the reform of abuses in the church, and promote a union, all of which you have strenuously promised to do until this day. Answer for yourself, therefore, in a temperate manner, that we may praise you, for you must be better acquainted with your own mind and courage than we are.” Many of the cardinals spoke at once, and said: “Holy father, the cardinal of Amiens speaks well, and we beg of you to let us know your intentions.” Upon this, Benedict replied, — ’I have always had an earnest desire for a union of the church, and have taken great pains to promote it; but since, through the grace of God, you have raised me to the papacy, I will never resign it; nor submit myself to any king, duke, or count, nor agree to any treaty that shall include my resignation of the popedom. The cardinals now all rose, and there was much murmuring; some said he had well spoken, and others the contrary. Thus was the conclave broken up in discord, and many of the cardinals departed to their hôtels without taking leave of the pope. Those who were in his good graces remained with him.
When the bishop of Cambray observed the manner in which the cardinals left the palace, he knew there had been great disagreement, and entering the hall of the conclave, advanced up to Benedict, who was still on his throne, and, without much respect, said, “Sire, give me an answer; I cannot wait longer; for your council is dismissed. You must let me have your final determination on the proposals I made you, as I am now about to depart hence.” Pope Benedict, still heated by anger at the speech of the cardinal of Amiens, replied, — “Bishop, I have consulted my brother cardinals, who have elected me to this dignity, and they agree that every due solemnity has been used, such as is usual in such cases. Since, therefore, I am pope, and acknowledged as such by all my subjects, I will 672 preserve it as long as I live, and will not, though it cost me my life, renounce it; for I have never done anything to forfeit the divine protection. You will tell our son of France that hitherto we have considered him as a good Catholic; but that, from the bad advice he has lately received, he is about to embrace errors which he will repent of. I entreat that you would beg of him, from me, not to follow any counsels, the result of which may trouble his conscience.”
On saying this, Benedict rose from his throne, and retired to his chamber, attended by some of his cardinals. The bishop of Chambray went to his inn, dined soberly, and then, mounting his horse, crossed the Rhône, passed through Villeneuve, and lay at Bagnols*, which belongs to France. He there heard that the lord Boucicaut, marshal of France, was at St. Andrieu, within nine leagues of Avignon, and thither the bishop went on the following day, and related to him all that had passed, with an answer he had received from Benedict, who styled himself pope.
* Bagnols, — a town in lower Languedoc, three leagues from the Pont du Saint Esprit, and fifty-two from Lyons.