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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. 672-688.
CHAPTER C. — IN CONSEQUENCE OF THE ANSWER OF POPE BENEDICT, THE MARSHAL BOUCICAUT OBLIGES HIM BY FORCE OF ARMS TO SUBMIT HIMSELF TO THE WILL OF THE KING OF FRANCE RESPECTING A UNION OF THE CHURCH.
WHEN the marshal of France had heard from the bishop of Cambray the pope’s answer, and that he refused to submit himself to the king of France, he said to him, — “Bishop, you may now return to France, for you have nothing more to do here; and I will execute what I have been charged with by the king, my lords his uncles, and the council.” The bishop replied, “God’s will be done.” He remained that day in the village, and on the morrow departed, taking his road towards Puy in Auvergne. The marshal instantly set clerks and messengers to work in summoning the knights, squires, and men-at-arms in the Viverais, Auvergne, and from the countries as far as Montpellier; for he was commissioned so to do by the king of France. He ordered the séneschal of Beaucaire to shut up all the passes to Avignon, as well on the Rhône as by land, that nothing might enter that place, nor be sent thither from the Pont du Saint Esprit; or he was particularly anxious that it should not be supplied with provisions or stores. The summons of the marshal was readily obeyed, by some through attachment, but by many in the expectation of plundering Avignon. Sir Raymond de Touraine came with pleasure to the marshal, who was ready to march, in company with the lords de la Both, de Tournon de Monclaus, and d’Uzes and others, so numerous, that the marshal sent a herald with his defiance to the pope in his palace, and to his cardinals in Avignon.
This was a severe blow to the cardinals and to the inhabitants; for they knew well they could not long effectually withstand the power of the king of France. They called a council of the cardinals and principal persons in the town, and, in consequence, waited on Benedict, and temperately remonstrated with him, that they were unable and unwilling to support a war against the king of France, for it was necessary they should carry on their commerce by land and water, to live. Benedict, like a madman, replied, — “Your city is strong, and well provided with stores and provisions. I will send to Genoa and elsewhere for men-at-arms, and write to my son the king of Arragon, who is the standard-bearer of the church, to come to my assistance, which he will do, for he is bound to it by two reasons; I am his kinsman, and he owes obedient to the pope. Do you depart hence and guard your town, and I will defend my palace, for you are alarmed at trifles.” This was all the answer they could obtain from the pope, and the cardinals and townsmen retired to their homes. The pope, whom I call Benedict, had, for a long time before laid up in his palace great quantities of wines, corn, salted meat, and of every necessary store for a fortress. He himself was a bold and determined character, not easily dismayed.
The marshal Boucicaut marched from the town of St. Esprit, and, with the consent of the Prince of Orange, passed through Orange with his army, and entered the Comtat Venaissin, belonging to the Church, which was soon overrun. The men-at-arms crossed the 673 bridge at Sorgues*, and were masters of each side of that river. The marshal left some men in the town to guard it and defend the passage, and oppose the garrison of Noues, that held out for the pope. He then fixed his head-quarters at Saint Versin, near Avignon, and his army was daily increasing. The city of Avignon was now so completely surrounded, that nothing could enter by land or water without leave. The séneschal of Beaucaire’s quarters were at Villeneuve, close to Avignon, though belonging to France, and he, with five hundred combatants, guarded that side of the town. The marshal of France, with two thousand men-at-arms, was on the opposite side: he sent notice to the townsmen, that if they did not open their gates, and submit themselves to his will, eh would burn and destroy all the houses and vineyards as far as the river Durance. This greatly dismayed the inhabitants of both sexes, who ah their inheritances in that part of the country, and they called a council, to which they admitted the cardinals of Amiens, Poitiers, Neufchâteau, and Viviers, to have their advice. The townsmen, who were the most interested in the marshal’s menace, informed the meeting of their fears lest he should execute it, saying it was made by orders from the king o France, whom they were not prepared to resist, nor could they do so with effect, for he was too near a neighbour; and that, considering all things, it would be much better to submit themselves to the king of France than remain obstinate in the support of Benedict, who was unable to afford them any assistance. They asked the cardinals if they would join them. The cardinals said they would. Provisions began to be scarce in Avignon; besides, their benefices were in France, which they would not lose; and they agreed with the townsmen in their treaty with the marshal. The terms of the treaty were, that he and his army should be admitted into Avignon, to besiege the palace, but that no violence should be done to the cardinals, their dependants, nor the townsmen. This the marshal, the French lords, and captains of the men-at-arms, swore faithfully to observe. When this was done the army entered the town, and lodged themselves at their ease, for it was large enough, and took off all obstructions on the Rhône and at the gates, to allow free liberty for the entrance of provisions.
Pope Benedict was much cast down when he heard that his cardinals and the townsmen had concluded a treaty with the marshal of France, without consulting him. He said he would never surrender, so long as he had breath, and shut himself up in is palace, which is very strong and handsome, and easy to be defended, provided it be well stored with provisions. The pope sent off letters by messengers, before the marshal entered Avignon, to the king of Arragon, humbly entreating him to come and succour him in his distress, and to send him men-at-arms sufficient to oppose the marshal of France. He added, that if he could be extricated from the situation in which he was, and conveyed to Arragon, he would establish the holy see at Perpignan or at Barcelona. The king of Arragon carefully perused these letters, but paid little attention to their contents. He said to those near his person, — What! does this priest suppose that I am to involve myself in a war with the king of France, to support his quarrel? I should indeed be very blame-worthy, were it to interfere.” “Sire,” replied his knights, “what you say is true: you have no business to meddle with such matters; for you must know that the king of France has been ably advised, and has just cause to act as he does. Leave the clergy to themselves; and, if they wish for support they must subject themselves to those lords from whose countries they receive the amount of their benefices. They have too long held them undisturbed, and they ought to feel and be sensible whence their wealth arises. The king of France has besides written to entreat that you would agree with him in a neutrality between the two popes. Accept his invitation for the queen, who is his cousin-german, has done so; and the greater part of the kingdom and clergy are willing to do the same; for we hold, especially the Catalonians, that this opinion is the surest; otherwise, should the Christian princes not unite in the same, there will never be any union in the church, from the divisions of these two popes.” Thus did the king of Arragon and his lords converse on the subject, while poor Benedict, shut up in his palace, was looking in vain for assistance being sent him from Arragon. The marshal of France was in Avignon, and the palace so strictly invested, nothing could enter it, which forced those within to live on the provisions they had. Of 674 food there was a sufficiency for two or three years; but, as there was a scarcity of fuel to dress their victuals, they began to be alarmed at the consequences.
The king of France held a weekly correspondence with the lord de Boucicaut, on the state of Benedict; and the king ordered him not to depart until he had completed the business with the pope. He therefore increased the guard round the palace, to prevent him from issuing forth. The conclusion was, that Benedict, finding himself thus constrained, that there was no fuel, and that their provisions were daily decreasing without any assistance coming to his aid, begged for mercy, through the mediation of some of his cardinals. The terms of the treaty were, that he was not to leave the palace of Avignon until union should be restored to the church; that he should be put under the guard of proper persons. And that the cardinals and richest citizens of Avignon should be responsible for his appearance, dead or alive. This satisfied the marshal. Those cardinals who had benefices in France exerted themselves much to conclude this treaty, declaring unanimously they would comply with the orders of the king of France. Thus ended this business, and the men-at-arms marched away from Avignon, every one to his own home.
* The river Sorgues takes its rise from the spring at Vaucluse.
CHAPTER CI. — THE MARSHAL BOUCICAUT RETURNS TO HUNGARY AGAINST THE TURKS. — THE EARL OF DERBY SENDS TO REQUEST PERMISSION OF THE DUKE OF LANCASTER TO ACCOMPANY BOUCICAUT IN THIS EXPEDITION. — THE KING OF ENGLAND IS SOLICITED BY THE KING OF FRANCE TO ENGAGE HIS SUBJECTS TO A NEUTRALITY BETWEEN THE TWO POPES, UNTIL A NEW ELECTION SHALL TAKE PLACE; BUT THEY REFUSE COMPLIANCE WITH THEIR MONARCH’S REQUEST.
AFTER this exploit, the marshal Boucicaut returned to Paris, and shortly after made preparations to go to Hungary; for the king had written to the king of France, to his uncles, and to the knights and squires of France, that Bajazet was assembling a large army of Turks, Arabians, Persians, Tartars, Syrians, and others of his religion. The king of Hungary was in consequence desirous of collecting a numerous force to oppose him, and offer him battle with more advantage than the last.
The earl of Derby, who resided at Paris at the hôtel de Clisson, near the Temple, was very desirous to go on the expedition to Hungary, to avoid putting the king of France to further expense; for he received from the French treasury, every week, five hundred golden crowns for his expenses, which his people were most punctually paid. On the first mention of this expedition, the earl of Derby eagerly listened to it; for he felt himself under great obligations to the king of France, and was unwilling to be a charge on him longer. He likewise thought that he should gain honour by going to Hungary, and that it would make the time of his banishment the sooner pass away. He consulted his confidential servants, who advised him to undertake it, but first to solicit the consent of his father the duke of Lancaster. The earl, in consequence, sent to England the knight nearest his person, to learn the pleasure of his father, and how he would advise him to act. When the knight whose name was Dinorth *, arrived at London, he heard the duke of Lancaster was at his castle of Hertford, about twenty miles from London, whither he went, and related to him the earl of Derby’s wish to join the expedition to Hungary. When the duke had heard all he had to say, he was well contented with the state of his son, and bade him welcome, adding, that what he had said, and the letters he had brought, demanded consideration. “You will rest yourself here while we deliberate on the subject; and, in the mean time, you must see my son’s children, to give them news of their father, and carry intelligence of them to him, for that he will expect from you.” “My lord,” replied the knight, “what you say is true.” Thus did he, by desire of the duke, stay some little time in England.”
The king of France sent ambassadors to Germany to inform the emperor that he had laid hands on Benedict, who for a time had styled himself pope. These ambassadors were the patriarch of Jerusalem, sir Charles de Hangiers, and others of his knights: they set out for Germany, and met the emperor at Strasbourg, to whom they satisfactorily delivered their 675 message. The emperor and his council said they would deliberate on the matter, but would gladly first know the determination of the king of England, for which the king of France had taken on himself to answer. Upon this, the embassy returned to France, and reported what you have just read. The king of France, to hasten the business, sent a grand embassy to England to remonstrate with the king on the present distracted state of the church. The king of England would willingly have joined the king of France, but he had not his prelates nor his churchmen and subjects as much under his command as his father-in-law kept them in France. All this he told in confidence to the French ambassadors, at the same time promising them to do his utmost to comply with the king of France’s request.
The French ambassadors returned to Pas, and king Richard, in consequence of his wishes to please his father-in-law, summoned a meeting of the prelates and clergy of his realm, at his palace of Westminster, which is out of the city of London. When they met, he eloquently harangued them on the miserable schism in the church, and the plan the king of France had adopted, of remaining neuter between the two rival popes, according to the advice of the university of Paris, and other learned clerks. The kings of Scotland, Castille, Arragon, and Navarre had followed this example, and all Germany, Bohemia, and Italy intended doing the same. He therefore entreated that his kingdom would adopt the like measures. When the prelates, who were ignorant why they had been assembled, heard this speech, they were greatly astonished, and were silent. Several murmured and said, — “Our king is quite a Frenchman: his only wish is to disgrace and ruin us, but he shall not succeed. What! does he want to make us change our creed? He may go so far that evil will befall him. We will do noting in this matter, since the king of France proposes it. Let him keep to his neutrality, if he please, and we will keep our creed. We will never suffer any attempt to deprive us of it, unless better reasons can be shown than those we have just heard.”
The king, seeing them thus murmur together, made the bishop of London, who had laid the proposals of neutrality before them, asked what determination was best to be taken. They replied, one by one, that the matter was so weighty, great deliberation was requisite before any answer could be made. Upon this, the meeting broke up, and the clergy who had been assembled retired to their inns in the city of London. The citizens, learning from them the cause of the meeting, and the proposition that the king had made them, were greatly angered against him, for in England the belief in the pope of Rome was general. They said, — “This Richard of Bordeaux will ruin everything, if he be suffered to go on. His head is so thoroughly French, he cannot disguise it; but a day may come when he shall pay for all without having time to repent, and so shall those who have been is advisers.”
Things continued in this state; and all his solicitations and remonstrances with his clergy to remain neuter obtained not any attention. The king of France and his council were dissatisfied that king Richard had not instantly determined his country to be neuter, but in truth he could not prevail with his clergy to do so; and shortly after there fell out such horrible events that the like are not to be found in this whole history, nor in that of any other Christian king, except at noble prince Lusignan, king of Cyprus and Jerusalem, whom his brother and the Cypriots villanously murdered.
* “Dinorth.” The MSS. Have Du Roch. Q. if not Dymocke.
CHAPTER CII. — THE ANSWER THE DUKE OF LANCASTER GIVES THE KNIGHT WHO HAD BEEN SENT TO HIM BY THE EARL OF DERBY, TO REQUEST HIS PERMISSION TO JOIN THE EXPEDITION AGAINST THE TURKS — THE DEATH OF THE DUKE OF LANCASTER.
WHEN the chevalier Dinorth, who had been sent by the earl of Derby to the duke of Lancaster, had received answers to the letters he had brought, and had visited all the castles of the earl his lord, and waited on is four sons and two daughters, who had remained in England, he took leave and returned to France. The answer from the duke of Lancaster was, that he would not advise his son to go into Hungary, but, when tired of France, to visit Castille and Portugal, and amuse himself at the courts of his brothers-in-law and sisters. The earl of Derby read these letters twice over, and mused some time on their contents. His 676 knight told him in confidence that the duke of Lancaster’s physicians and surgeons had assured him the duke laboured under so dangerous a disease it must soon cause his death.
This information made the earl give over all thoughts of travelling further. He remained in Paris, at the hôtel de Clisson, which had been prepared for him and his attendants. He frequently visited the king, the duke of Orleans, and their uncles, who entertained him handsomely. The earl was so sensible of their attentions, that he said to the king of France, — “My lord, you pay me so much honour and courtesy, and give me proofs of such affection, that I know not how I shall be ever able to make you any return; but, if it please God that I go back to England, I will not forget them in my attachment to our queen, your daughter, whom God preserve!” “Many thanks, fair cousin,” replied the king. It happened, that about Christmas-tide, duke John of Lancaster fell dangerously ill of a disorder which ended his life, to the great grief of all his friends. He had been some time very low spirits, on account of the banishment of his son, whom his nephew king Richard had forced out of England for a trifling cause, and also for the manner in which the kingdom was governed, which, if persevered in, he foresaw must be its ruin. The king of England, as it seemed, was little affected by his uncle’s death, and he was soon forgotten.
Many of the nobles, but not all, were uneasy the kingdom was so weakened by the deaths of the dukes of Lancaster, Gloucester, and the earl of Arundel, and that the earl of Derby was banished, who ought to be now duke of Lancaster, by legal succession. Some said, — “We shall see what the king will do. It is time that he recal his cousin the earl of Derby, and remit his further punishment, though there was scarcely any justice in it. It is proper that he return to take possession of his lands, and do homage as duke of Lancaster.” Such speeches were common throughout England, but especially in London, where the earl of Derby was a hundred times more beloved than king Richard. Notwithstanding these murmurs, and that he was spoken to on the subject, as well as his ministers, nothing was done: on the contrary, the king showed he was more irritated against the earl. In this he was very badly advised; for if, on the death of his uncle, he had sent for the earl of Derby, and said to him, — “Fair cousin, you are welcome. You are now duke of Lancaster, and, after us, the greatest personage in the realm: we will, therefore, that you remain with us; and we will be governed by your counsels, and do nothing without your approbation;” — he would then have continued king of England, and avoided the unfortunate end that was awaiting him: the catastrophe was now so near at hand that he could not way avoid it, as you shall speedily hear.
CHAPTER CIII. — THE KING OF ENGLAND MAKES THE KING OF FRANCE ACQUAINTED WITH THE DEATH OF THE DUKE OF LANCASTER, BUT DOES NOT NOTICE IT TO THE EARL OF DERBY, THOUGH SON TO THE LATE DUKE.
THE news of the death of the duke of Lancaster was soon public in France. King Richard wrote an account of it to the king with a sort of joy, but did not notice it to his cousin the earl of Derby. The earl, however, knew it as soon, if not sooner than the king of France, from his people in England. He clothed himself and his attendants in deep mourning, as was right, and had his obsequies grandly performed; at which were present, the king of France, the duke of Orleans, their three uncles, and numbers of the prelates and great barons of France, for the earl was much liked by all. The French barons visited him often, and some were displeased at and took part in his misfortunes; he was an amiable knight, courteous and pleasant to very one, and it was currently said, the king of England was very ill advised not to recal him. To say the truth, if the king had wisely considered consequence, he would have done it: affairs would not have turned out so miserably as they did. The earl of Derby was now, by the death of his father, duke of Lancaster, and the most potent baron in England, second to none but the king, and by his advice the king should have governed.
The king and his ministers should not have forgotten that the people of England, more particularly the Londoners, had frequently risen against the government; that the king was 677 not popular with any rank of men, and that, during the life of the duke of Gloucester, he had suffered many vexations, and even personal danger. When the citizens o London and the deputies from the great towns waited on the king at Eltham, to petition for the abolition of the war taxes, their plan was (by the secret advice of the duke of Gloucester and other lords), to seize the king and queen, and choose another in his room. King Richard and his queen were to be confined and allowed a sufficiency for their maintenance during their lives. The duke of Gloucester had requested his nephew, son to the daughter of the duke of Clarence, called John earl of March, to take charge of the government of England; but he had excused himself from so doing, and the meeting was dismissed in tolerably good humour by the prudence and temper of the duke of Lancaster, and Richard reigned with greater prosperity than before. The king was not unacquainted with these designs against him; and by the wicked counsel of those about his person, who gave him to understand the duke of Gloucester was at the bottom of this plot, under pretence of great affection he had him arrested in the night, and carried over to Calais, where he was strangled. This caused a great noise in all parts of England, and proposal were made for dethroning the king; but the duke of Lancaster, with his usual prudence and wisdom, although the duke of Gloucester was his brother, and he was sorely afflicted by his death, considering he could not restore him to life and the consequences that might ensue, again appeased these discontents; and his nephew, king Richard, was more feared than ever.
The knight ought to have remembered all theses circumstances, and likewise that the earl of Derby was the most popular man in England with every description of men, and should therefore instantly, on the death of his father, have recalled him. But the king had no such inclination; on the contrary, he immediately sent his officers to take possession of his lands and seize their rents, declaring, that, during his banishment, neither the earl nor his family should receive any of his revenues in England. He also, to the great vexation of such as were attached to the earl or his children, disposed of several estates in the duchy of Lancaster to some of his knights, and to whoever asked for them. The English barons greatly blamed him for this, and said, — “It is clear the king of England bears no good-will to his cousin, the earl of Derby, when he refuses to recal him, and suffer him to take possession of his inheritance. He would, with his children, be a grand support to the crown, and a staff to lean in, but he acts quite contrary, by thus keeping him out of the kingdom, in a disagreeable state, and which he would make worse if he could. He has taken possession of his lands, and sent hither his officers, as if they were legally his own, who treat the tenants worse than any in England: should they complain, during the absence of their lord, they are not attended to. It is no sign of affection or justice towards the earl of Derby and his children, when he thus seizes the inheritance of Lancaster, that descends to them as the true heirs of the lady Blanche, daughter of Henry duke of Lancaster, and likewise that from their mother, the daughter of the earl of Hereford and Northampton, and constable of England, which he is daily distributing piece-meal to any person according to his pleasure. This conduct is contrary to reason and justice, and so greatly disliked by the good people of England, that things cannot longer remain in their present state.”
Such conversations were general among the nobles, prelates, and commonalty of England. In like manner, the lords in France, who heard of this matter, and were acquainted with the earl of Derby, wondered at it, and said, — “According to our opinion, this king of England has formed too great a hatred against the earl of Derby, who is his cousin-german. He is a graceful and courteous knight to all who address him. Either the king of England knows some things of him that we do not, or he is miserably advised: it is surprising the king of France, his brother the duke of Orleans, and their uncles o Berry, Burgundy, and Bourbon, do not interfere in the business, for he is daily with some of them. They would have greater weight than any others, and the king of England would do more to please them from love to his queen, who is daughter to the king of France; but, as they have not taken any steps in the matter, it behoves us to hold our peace.” In truth, the king of France and his family were perfectly well disposed toward the earl of Derby, whom they greatly respected, and wished always for his company. It was considered that he was a widower, likely to marry again, and that the duke of Berry had a daughter, who though 678 so young, was a widow of two husbands: she had been first married to Louis de Blois, who died in his youth, and then to the lord Philip d’Artois, count d’Eu, who died in Turkey, as you have read in this history. Mary of Berry was not more than twenty-three years old, and a marriage between her and the earl o Derby was talked of and nearly concluded.
The duke of Berry knew well that the earl of Derby was the greatest heir-apparent in England, as did the king of France, who was anxious this match should take place, on account of his daughter being queen of England. It was natural to imagine that two such ladies, so nearly related, would be agreeable company to each other, and that the kingdom of France and England would enjoy longer peace, and be more intimately connected. All this would probably have been true, it if could have been accomplished but king Richard and his council broke off all these measures. Whatever misfortunes fate has decreed cannot be prevented; they must have their course; and those that befel king Richard are wonderful indeed to think on. He might indeed have avoided them, but what must be will be.
I, John Froissart, author of these chronicles, will literally say what, in my younger days, I heard at a mansion called Berkhampstead, distant from London thirty miles, and which, at the time I am speaking of, in the year of our Lord 1361, belonged to the prince of Wales, father to king Richard. As the prince and princess were about to leave England for Aquitaine, to hold their state, the king of England, queen Philippa, my mistress, the dukes of Clarence, Lancaster, the lord Edmund, who was afterward earl of Cambridge and duke of York, with their children, came to this mansion to visit the prince and take leave of him. I was at that time twenty-four years old, and one of the clerks of the chamber to my lady the queen. During this visit, as I was seated on a bench, I heard the following conversation from a knight to some of the ladies of the queen. He said, — “There was in that country a book called Brut, which many say contains the prophecies of Merlin. According to its contents, neither the prince of Wales nor duke of Clarence, though sons to king Edward, will wear the crown of England, but it will fall to the house of Lancaster.” When the knight said this, the earl of Derby was not born: his birth was seven years after. This prophecy, however, was verified, for I have since seen Henry, earl of Derby, king of England.
CHAPTER CIV. — THE TREATY OF MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE EARL OF DERBY AND THE DAUGHTER OF THE DUKE OF BERRY IS BROKEN OFF BY THE KING OF ENGLAND, THROUGH THE MEANS OF THE EARL OF SALISBURY.
THE moment king Richard learnt that a treaty of marriage was going forward, with the approbation of all parties, between the earl of Derby and the lady Mary of Berry, he became very thoughtful and much displeased thereat. He said to the earl of Salisbury, in whom he had great confidence — “My lord, you must make yourself ready to go to Paris; I will give you credential letters to the king our father, and to our well-beloved brother and uncles. Tell them to beware of forming any alliance or marriage with such a traitor as the earl of Derby, who would have betrayed his sovereign: you are perfectly acquainted with the fact: and, with your good understanding, act in such wise that I shall be satisfied, and this marriage be put aside.” The earl o Salisbury replied, — “Sire, I shall punctually obey all your commands; but, if this marriage could be broken off by any other means than mine, I shall be very thankful to you.” “Earl of Salisbury,” answered the king, “make no excuses; for I will and entreat that you go thither, and whatever may be the consequences I will support you through them.” “Well, sire,” said the earl, “since you specially command me, and the matter seems to interest you so much, I will undertake it, but I go very unwillingly.” “Hasten your preparation as much as you can,” replied the king, “that the treaty of marriage be not too far advanced.”
The earl of Salisbury was soon ready, and, having had his credential letters sealed, he departed from the king, who at the time resided with his queen at Leeds-castle. He carried with him private letters from the queen to the king and queen of France, and to her brother the duke of Orleans, and, hastening his journey, arrived at Dover, where, the wind being favourable, he embarked, and landed at Calais. He was received by the king’s half-brother 679 brother, the earl of Huntingdon, governor of Calais, to whom he told part of his business. He made no long stay at Calais, but continued his road through Amiens to Paris, and wherever he passed he was well entertained. On his arrival at Paris, he lodged at the White Horse, in the square of the Greve*. After he had dressed himself, he waited on the king and queen, and delivered his credential letters: when the king of France had perused them he took the earl of Salisbury aside and demanded his business. The earl related to him very minutely everything he had been charged with by the king of England, and called the earl of Derby a traitor to his natural lord. The king, on hearing this expression, was angered (for he had taken so strong a liking to the earl of Derby, that he would not hear anything said in his dispraise), and gave back the letters to the earl, saying, — “Earl of Salisbury, we readily believe what you tell us; but our son of England bears too great a hatred to our cousin of Derby, and we wonder he has continued it so long, for we think that his court would be better adorned if he were near his person, and those who have the most weight in his council ought to advise him to recal his cousin,” “Very dear sire,” replied the earl of Salisbury, “I only act as I have been ordered.” “That is true,” said the king; “we are not angry with you, for perchance our son may know of these matters more than we can: execute the commission you have been charged with.” The earl then waited on the duke of Berry, and delivered his message from king Richard. The duke made no answer, but went to the king at the hôtel de Saint Pol, and asked if he had received any news from England. The king told him all that had passed between him and the earl of Salisbury, and a privy council of the king’s uncles and principal lords, was summoned on the occasion. They said, — “The king of England must fear very much the earl of Derby, from circumstances that we are ignorant of, and that have not been made public. We ought to be more attached to him than to the earl of Derby, from his connexion with us by marriage; and, as we have been informed, he will be greatly displeased if we proceed in the marriage of the earl of Derby with the countess d’Eu, we must break it off. We have only to conceal what we have heard from England until the earl of Salisbury be returned.”
The king and his council adopted this resolution. When the earl of Salisbury had completed the business he had been sent on to Paris, he took leave of the king and his lords, and departed. The king, however, showed he was more displeased than otherwise at the intelligence he had brought, and returned to the earl his credential letters, refusing to accept of them, from his partiality to the earl of Derby. This last knew of the earl of Salisbury being at Paris, but they never saw each other; and the earl of Salisbury returned to Calais without speaking to the earl of Derby, and thence to England to report the success of his mission.
The earl of Derby was much displeased that the earl of Salisbury should leave Paris without seeing him, and augured from it nothing favourable. His council were of the same opinion, and said to him, — “My lord, you will soon perceive such things as you little dream of, although they are yet hid from you. The French are a close and subtle people: perhaps the king of England and his minions are vexed that the king of France and his court show you such honour and affection; perhaps also it may be rumoured in England that you propose marrying the lay Mary of Berry, and king Richard, to whom this intelligence will not be agreeable, has sent over to have it broken off: should that be the case, you will speedily hear of it.” Thus, as the knights and council of the earl of Derby had supposed matters were, did they turn out. About a month after the departure of the earl of Salisbury, the commissioners from the earl of Derby renewed the matter of the marriage with the lady Mary of Berry: but those on the part of the duke replied, — “Tell my lord of Derby, that when he is in the presence of the king and his brother the duke of Orleans, he may propose this business himself; for we cannot say more on the subject, since it is not agreeable to our employers what we longer interfere in it.”
These words were repeated to the earl of Derby, who suspected nothing more was meant by it than to hasten the marriage; for the king of France and his lords had shown outwardly as much eagerness for the match as ever. H remembered what had been told him, and at a proper opportunity, when the king and his lords were together, renewed his proposal of 680 marriage. The duke of Burgundy, having been charged with the answer, replied, “Cousin of Derby, we cannot think of marrying our cousin to a traitor.” The earl instantly changed colour on hearing this expression, and said, — “Sir, I am in the presence of my lord the king, and must interrupt your speech, to answer he expression you have used. I never was nor ever thought of being a traitor; and if any one dare to charge me with treason, I am ready to answer him now, or at whatever time it may please the king to appoint.” “No, cousin,” said the king, “I do not believe you will find any man in France that will challenge your honour. The expression my uncles has used comes from England.” The earl of Derby cast himself on his knees, and replied, “My lord, I willingly believe you: may God preserve all my friends, and confound mine enemies!” The king made the earl rise, and said — “Earl, be appeased: all this matter will end well; and when you shall be on good terms with every one, we can then talk of marriage. But it will be first necessary that you have possession of your duchy of Lancaster; for it is the custom of France, and of many countries on this side the sea, that when a lord marries with the consent of his lord paramount, should he have one, he settles a dower on his wife.” Upon this, wine and spices were brought: the conversation ended; and, when the king retired to his closet, every one went away.
The earl of Derby, on his return to the hôtel de Clisson, was bitterly enraged, and not without reason, to be accused of reason, when he thought himself one of the most loyal knights in the universe, and in the presence too of the king of France, who had shown him so much affection and courtesy, and that this accusation should have been brought from England by the earl of Salisbury. His knights pacified him as well as they could, by saying, “My lord, whoever wishes to live in this world must sometimes suffer trouble. Comfort yourself for the present, and bear all things with patience: perhaps you will hereafter have it made up in joy and glory. Of all the lords on this side of the sea, the king of France loves you the most, and, from what we hear and see, he will instantly prevent any insult being offered you. You should be thankful to him and his uncles for having kept this matter secret during the stay of the earl of Salisbury, and until he was landed in England.” “Indeed!” replied the earl: “I should have thought it more loyal to have made the charge while he was here, than to have waited so long. I could then have been enabled sufficiently to exculpate myself in the presence of the king and his lords, so that my innocency would have been apparent, but I must now submit to the disgrace until I shall wipe it off.” “My lord,” answered his knights, “all faults cannot be corrected at once; have patience, we hope things will turn out better in England than you think. The affection the whole country bear you will very soon, if it please God, deliver you from all dangers.” Thus did his knights attempt to comfort the earl of Derby, who was more cast down than man ever was; and what they had uttered by chance, for consolation, turned out true, as I shall now relate.
It was known in England that the earl of Salisbury had been sent to England with credential letters, and that, on the strength of them, he had accuse the earl of Derby to the king of France an his uncles, as a perjured, false, and wicked traitor, which words had greatly angered many of the prelates and barons of the kingdom. They said, when among themselves: “The earl of Salisbury has done very wrong to carry such a message to France, and make so heavy a charge against the most honourable man in the world. The day will come when he shall repent of this, and say, “It weighs heavily on me that I ever carried a message to France against the earl of Derby.” The Londoners were exceedingly enraged against the king and his ministers for their conduct, and said, — “Ah, gallant and courteous earl of Derby, how great are the jealousies and hatreds against thee when, to overwhelm thee with disgrace and vexation, they charge thee with treason! It was not enough for the king and his minions to force thee out of the kingdom, but they must add this charge also; but, by God, all things have an end, and their turn may come.” “Alas!” cried the people, “what have his children done? when the king seizes their inheritance, which ought to be theirs by direct succession from grandfather and father. There must be some change in public measures, for we neither can nor will suffer them to go on longer.”
* The MSS. Say, “at the ch&acite;teau de Festus, in the rue du Tiroir.”
CHAPTER CV. — KING RICHARD OF ENGLAND PROCLAIMS A TOURNAMENT, WHICH IS ATTENDED BY VERY FEW PERSONS. — ON SETTING OUT FOR IRELAND, HE BANISHES THE EARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND AND HIS SON THE KINGDOM.
SOON after the return of the earl of Salisbury from France to England, king Richard had proclaimed throughout his realm and in Scotland, that a grand tournament would be held at Windsor, by forty knights and forty squires, clothed in green, with the device of a white falcon, against all comers, and that the queen of England, well attended by ladies and damsels, would be at this feats. The queen was indeed present at the tournament in magnificent array, but very few of the barons attended: the greater part of the knights and squires of England were disgusted with the king, for the banishment of the earl of Derby, the injuries he was doing the earl’s children, the murder of the duke of Gloucester, that had been committed in the castle of Calais, the death of the earl of Arundel, whom he had beheaded in London, and the perpetual exile of the earl of Warwick. None of the kindred of these lords came to the feast, which was of course very poorly attended.
The king, after this tournament, made preparations to go to Ireland. He left his queen, Isabella, and her household at Windsor castle, and took the road to Bristol, where he laid n ample purveyances and stores. He had with him full two thousand lances, knights and squires, and ten thousand archers. When the Londoners heard he was set out, they began to murmur together and say, — “Well! Richard of Bordeaux has taken the road to Bristol for Ireland. It will be his destruction: never will he return thence to joy, more than his ancestor, king Edward, who governed his realm so foolishly, through the counsels of the Despencers, and paid for it. This Richard of Bordeaux has confided so long in weak and wicked counsellors, that it cannot longer be borne.”
You must know, that although many barons, knights, and squires accompanied the king in his expedition to Ireland, they were much discontented with him, and did not follow him with a [goodwill]. When they were together, they conversed, saying, “Our king governs very baldly, and too readily believes weak counsel.” This was so often and so loudly spoken of throughout the realm, particularly by the earl of Northumberland and his son Harry Percy, that the king’s ministers heard of it, and said to the king: “Sire, the earl of Northumberland and his son say things that must not be suffered, for they want to excite your subjects to rise against you. Every rebel must be punished, one after another, that the greatest barons may fear you, and take example.” “that is true,” replied the king” “how shall I act on this occasion?” “We will tell you, sir: they are to join this expedition, but not yet arrived. When they come, order them to your presence by the earl of Salisbury or any other you please, and then remonstrate with them on the injurious speeches they have uttered against you and your ministers. You will hear what answer they make, and, as that may be, consider how you shall punish them, by imprisonment or otherwise.” The king replied, — “You say well, and what you advise shall be done.”
The earl of Northumberland and his son had good friends on this expedition, by whom great part of the secret councils of the king were revealed: they were strongly advised not to join the armament, nor appear in the king’s presence, for that he was so wrath with them, they would at least be severely reprimanded, if not imprisoned. On hearing this, they retarded their journey towards Bristol; for, according to the intelligence sent them, had they come, they would have run a risk of their lives. The king’s ministers, perceiving the earl of Northumberland did not arrive, said to him, — “See, sir, if we did not tell you the truth: neither the earl of Northumberland nor his son condescend to sere you, although ordered; and, if you send them a special summons, you will have a confirmation that what we have told you is true.” The king said, it should be done. Letters were signed, sealed, and sent off by a special messenger, containing orders for the earl of Northumberland and sir Henry Percy instantly to joint the king’s forces, and perform their duties as they were bounden to do. The messenger continued his journey to a very handsome castle* of the earl of Northumberland on the borders of Scotland, and delivered his letters. The earl read them attentively, and then gave them to his son.682
They determined to entertain the messenger well, and to write to the king to excuse themselves, as they were in no way prepared, nor could they leave their own country, as the king had a sufficiency of men for the business he was going upon. The messenger returned with his answers, and gave them the king; but they were not agreeable to him nor to his ministers, and for this and other charges, which were publicly made against the earl of Northumberland and his son, they were banished England, never to return until recalled by the king. This sentence was published in London and in all the towns of England to the great astonishment of the citizens, who could not conceive why they had thus been so severely punished; for they had always considered the earl of Northumberland and sir Henry Percy as two of the most loyal subjects in the realm. Some said, when conversing on this matter, that “the ministers of the king hated them, and would in the end cause their master’s destruction. It may be that the earl and his son have talked too freely about the king’s ministers, and his foolish government; and, as truth is not always agreeable, these gallant knights suffer for it; but those who have now judged them may hereafter have their turn.”
Such were the conversations of the discontented Londoners, as well as of the majority of the English people. The earl and his son were connected by blood with the noblest and richest families, who were exasperated by their banishment; and among them his brother, sir Thomas Percy, who had done many very great services to the crown of England. When the earl heard of his banishment, he summoned all his friends and relations; but many were with the king and could not attend. On their assembling, he consulted them how he should act in the disgrace the king had so undeservedly heaped on him; and it was determined to send to Scotland, to request the king would afford the earl and his son an asylum in that country until affairs should mend, or the king’s anger be pacified. This resolution was adopted, and a messenger sent to the king of Scotland to make the above request. King Robert, the earl Archibald of Douglas, and the barons of Scotland, cheerfully complied with it, and returned for answer, that the kingdom was ready to receive them; and, if they wanted five or six hundred lances, they would be instantly at their service, on hearing from them. This answer was highly pleasing to the earl of Northumberland and his kindred; and things remained in this state, the earl in his own country among his friends; for king Richard and his advisors had in a short time so much to do, that they had no leisure to attend to the earl of Northumberland, nor to say to him, “Quit the kingdom, or we will force you.” They were obliged to give up all thoughts but for their own safety, as you will hear in the course of this history.
CHAPTER CVI. — THE ENGLISH, AND PARTICULARLY THE LONDONERS, RISE IN FAVOUR OF THE EARL OF DERBY AGAINST KING RICHARD.
DURING the time king Richard was holding his court at Bristol and in that neighbourhood, there was a general insurrection of the people of England. The courts of justice were closed; at which many of the prelates, barons and prudent part of the people, who only wanted for peace and to pay what was lawful, were much dejected. A stop was put to all traffic, for merchants dared not travel for fear of being robbed, and having no courts to apply to for redress. All these things were very prejudicial and contrary to the usual customs of the country; for in general all people, labourers and tradesmen lived peaceably, and followed their occupations without hindrance, but it was now quite contrary. When merchants went with their goods from one town to another, and had any money in their purses, it was taken from them. The farmers’ houses were pillaged of grain, and their beeves, pigs and sheep carried away, without the owners daring to say a word. These enormities increased so much, there was nothing but complaints, heard. The common people said, “Times are sadly changed for the worse since the days of king Edward of happy memory. Justice was then rigorous in punishing the wicked. Then there was no man in England daring enough to take a fowl or sheep without paying for them, but now they carry off all things, and we must not speak. This cannot go on without the country being ruined, and yet no one 68 attempts to check it. We have a good-for-nothing king, who only attends to his idle pleasures; and, as it should seem, he cares not how public affairs are managed, so that his inclinations are gratified. We must look for a remedy, or our enemies and ill-wishers will be rejoiced and laugh at us. King Richard has made his brother, the earl of Huntingdon, governor of Calais, and perchance there may be some underhand treaties going forward to surrender it to the French, although it be so necessary and convenient to England: should this happen no nation will be ever more discomfited than the English, and with good reason, for they will lose the keys of the entrance to France.” These murmurings and discontents multiplied; and the prelates and rich barons came to live in London, that hey might avoid the troubles and dangers which were increasing throughout the kingdom. The families of those whom the king had put to death or banished were rejoiced, and looked out for greater mischiefs as the consequence.
The citizens of London, who being rich from their trade, are enabled to live in state, and by whom the other parts of England are generally governed, foresaw that most dangerous consequences would ensue, unless they stepped forward, as they had wisely done formerly against king Edward and the Despencers, who had forced queen Isabella and the prince of Wales out of the kingdom, and wanted to destroy them. The king had no cause for so doing, but they were absent from England three years. When the Londoners perceived king Edward so besotted with the Despencers, they provided a remedy, by sending secretly to queen Isabella information, that if she could collect a body of three hundred armed men, and land with them in England, she would find the citizens of London, and the majority of the nobles and commonalty, ready to join her, and place her on the throne. The queen found a friend in sir John of Hainault, lord of Beaumont and Chimay, and brother to count William of Hainault, who undertook, through affection and pity, to carry her and her son back to England. He exerted himself so much in her service, with knights and squires, that he collected a body of four hundred, and landed them in England, to the great comfort of the Londoners. The citizens joined them, for, without their assistance, they would never have accomplished their enterprise. King Edward was made prisoner at Bristol, and carried to Berkeley-castle where he died. His advisers were all put to death with much cruelty; and that same day king Edward III. was crowned king of England, in the palace of Westminster.
The Londoners now remembered all these circumstances very well; for the children of those days, now become men, had often had them told by their fathers, and others read them in the chronicles of those times. They therefore said to one another privately, — “Our ancestors, in former days, provided a remedy for the mischiefs that afflicted the country, which were not so alarming as at this moment; if this wicked king Richard be suffered to rule according to his pleasure, we must all be ruined, and the country destroyed. Ever since he began his reign, the kingdom has not prospered to the degree in which it did before: he shows no signs of being the son of the prince of Wales; for if he were his son, he would follow his manners, and take pleasure in imitating his prowess, instead of idly dallying with ladies, and spending his time among them, or putting his confidence in those who have neither weight nor sense but in amassing treasures and destroying England. Have not the traitors near his person infamously murdered that valiant duke of Gloucester, because he saw clearly public affairs were badly governed, going on from bad to worse, and spoke boldly the truth concerning them? Have they not also put to death that gallant knight the earl of Arundel, and banished England, without reason, the gentle sir Henry of Lancaster, earl of Derby, by whom, and his four promising sons, the kingdom ought to be supported This cruel conduct is much aggravated; for, while they make the earl suffer many disgusts beyond sea, they have disinherited his children of the estates that devolved to the from their grandmother, the lady Blanche of Lancaster, by dividing and distributing them daily to those who are unworthy to possess them. Because these two gallant knights, the earl of Northumberland and sir Henry Percy, have spoken their minds on this subject, king Richard has also banished them: it is clear there will not soon be any men of courage and honesty in the country, and hatreds and discontents are now increasing everywhere, so that if a remedy be not sought for, all things will fall to ruin. The remedy is in the earl of Derby, who is now 684 losing his time in France; him we must send for, and, on his arrival, appoint him regent of the kingdom that he may reform all abuses and punish those who have used him so ill. Richard of Bordeaux must be arrested and confined in the Tower of London, when all his actions will be examined and put into writing, which are sufficiently numerous, and will prove clearly he is unworthy to govern a kingdom or wear a crown: his acts are so infamous, that they will condemn him.”
CHAPTER CVII. — THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY IS SENT TO FRANCE BY THE LONDONERS, AND OTHERS OF THEIR PARTY IN ENGLAND, TO BRING BACK THE EARL OF DERBY.
SUCH was the language of the Londoners, and of many others throughout England; but, although much was done to excite the people to insurrections, they would never have attempted what they did, if the Londoners had not set them the example. The citizens of London, who, from their power and wealth, lead the rest of England, held several secret councils, to which were admitted some prelates and knights when they resolved to send in search of the earl of Derby, who was residing at Paris or thereabout, and bring him back to England. On his return they were to remonstrate with him on the weak government of wicked king Richard, an propose, if he would undertake it, to give him the crown, and elect him and his heirs kings for ever, on condition that he promised to govern according to the ancient usages of the country. They next thought on the most proper person to send on this commission: he must be prudent and brave; for it would be a grand enterprise to seduce the earl from France, when the king and his uncles were showing him every token of love and courtesy; and he would not put any belief in the simple propositions of a lowborn person, nor in any letters that were sent him, but rather the contrary. In consequence, they entreated the archbishop of Canterbury*, a man of prudence and wisdom, to undertake it, who, for the good of his country, complied with the request. He made his preparations with six more, embarked on board a vessel on the Thames, and landed at Sluys, thence he went to Ardembourg, Ghent, Oudenarde, Ath, Condé and Valenciennes, and stopped at the hôtel of the Swan, in the market-place. Having staid there three days to recover himself, he pursued his journey, not as archbishop of Canterbury, but like a simple monk on a pilgrimage, discovering to no one his rank, nor the business he was about. He departed from Valenciennes the fourth day, having hired a guide to conduct him to Paris, giving out that he was on a pilgrimage to Saint Maur des Fossés†. He arrived at length where the earl of Derby resided, which was, I believe, at the hôtel de Vinchester‡, near to Paris.
When the earl of Derby first saw the archbishop, his heart rejoiced and he recovered his spirits. Those about him were well pleased, for they concluded he had brought some important intelligence from England. The archbishop, however, did not discover the cause of his coming, and, to prevent any suspicions if it, said he was on a pilgrimage to Saint Maur des Fossés, which the earl’s attendants believed and were satisfied. When the archbishop thought it was time to make the object of his journey known, he took the earl into a private chamber, and there informed him of the miserable state England was in; that violence and desolation ruled in many parts, and that, by the king’s fault, there was neither law nor justice: that he Londoners, with some prelates and valiant men, had determined to remedy these evils, and that for this he had been sent by them to say, that if the earl would return to England (for he was wasting his time in France) the would make him king: Richard of Bordeaux had done, or consented to so many atrocious acts, that the 685 people were indignant, and resolved to rise against him. “Now is the time, or never,” added the archbishop, “for you to seek your deliverance, and the advantage of yourself and children; for, if you do not, no one else will for them, since this Richard of Bordeaux is giving away all their estates to his minions, or to whoever asks for them. The citizens of London, and many other gallant men, are greatly enraged at such conduct, and would amend it if they could, though hitherto they have been silent. He has filled up the measure of his crimes by the murder of the duke of Gloucester, the beheading of the earl of Arundel without cause, the exile of the earl of Warwick, ad your banishment; clearly showing his intentions to deprive England of its nobles and the support she might have from them, for he has lately banished the earl of Northumberland and his son because they talked too freely of him and his ministers. The citizens of London and the greater part of the prelates and barons of England entreat you will not sleep over this business, but that you will take leave of the king of France and the French, and return home, where you will be joyfully received, and every promise I have made be punctually fulfilled, for the country desire none other than you for their king, so much are you beloved and respected.”
When the earl of Derby had heard this speech of the archbishop, he did not immediately reply, but, learning on a window that looked into the gardens, mused awhile, and having various thoughts in his mind, turned to the bishop, and said: “M lord, your speech requires much consideration. I would be unwilling to begin an enterprise and be forced to leave it unfinished, for I well know, that unless by the means you propose, it will be along time before I return to England. I am loth to resort to this, for the king of France and his nobles have paid me every honour and attention, and will continue so to do, as long as I shall please to live among them. Should I accept of the offers and kind promises which you and my good friends the citizens of London make, I must subject myself to their will, arrest king Richard, and put him to death. For this I shall be universally blamed, and I would not willingly do so, if any other means could be adopted.” “My lord,” replied the archbishop, “I am sent hither with every good disposition towards you. Call in your council, and lay before them the propositions I have made: I will also explain why I am deputed hither, and I do not think they will advise you to act otherwise than to accept them.” “I consent,” said the earl, “for such matters demand great consideration.”
The earl of Derby sent for those knights and squires in whom he had the most confidence, and in their presence desired the archbishop to repeat what he had just told him; which being done, he asked their advice how he should act. They unanimously answered, — “My lord, God has taken compassion on you: be careful how you refuse such offers, for you will find that it descends in a straight line from Saint Edward, king of England. Thank your good friends the Londoners for wishing to deliver you from exile, and for having pity on your children and the kingdom of England, which now is sorely troubled. Have you forgotten the many wrongs this Richard of Bordeaux has done you, and who does not dissemble his wishes to add to them daily? When your marriage with the lady Mary of Berry was on the point of being concluded, did he not send over the earl of Salisbury to break off the match, and to abuse you before the king and his whole court o being a false and wicked traitor? Such things are unpardonable, and you should rather seek for means of revenge. If you will not help yourself, no one will do it for you: consider well, therefore, all we have said.”
* Thomas Fitz-alan, son to the earl of Arundel.
† Saint Maur des Fossés, — a town in the isle of France, diocese of Paris.
‡ Froissart has said before, the earl of Derby resided at the hôtel de Clisson, near the Temple. This hôtel de Vinchester was so called from having been built by John bishop of Winchester 1204. It belonged, at the period we are now speaking of, to the duke of Berry. — Sauval, Antiquités de Paris.
CHAPTER CVIII. — THE EARL OF DERBY TAKES LEAVE OF THE KING AND LORDS OF FRANCE, TO VISIT HIS COUSIN THE DUKE OF BRITTANY.
THE earl of Derby’s courage was raised on hearing his council thus boldly declare their opinion, and he said, — “I will do whatever you advise, for I have called you together to have your counsel.” They unanimously answered, “You say well; and we will advise you, according to circumstances, to the best of our power.” After this, they carried on their business so very secretly, that none of the household but those immediately concerned knew 686 anything of what was going forward. They consulted how they could cross the sea before any news of their intention should reach England, and whether to travel through Hainault and Holland, and embark at Dordrecht, or to go to Brittany under pretence of visiting the duke, sail from one of his ports, and land at Plymouth or any other place whither God might please to send them. Everything considered, they thought the road through Brittany the easiest accomplished; and they advised the earl, saying, — “My lord, you will take leave of the king of France, his brother, and uncles, and thank them warmly for the affection and courtesy they have shown you. After this, you will request the king to grant you an escort to Brittany, to visit the duke and stay some time with him.”
The earl of Derby consented, and came to Paris, where all things were prepared for his departure: he waited on the king as usual whenever he pleased, for the doors of the palace were open to him at all hours. At this last visit, he talked to the king very ably, as he knew well how to do, as to his future plans, and said he would go and amuse himself in Brittany and visit the duke, whom he called his uncle, for he had married a sister to his father, daughter to king Edward. The king, not thinking he was plotting mischief, easily assented: and the earl, having requested an escort to Brittany, the king promised to give instant orders for one to be at his command. To shorten the matter, the earl managed his affairs with much discretion, and took leave of all the lords who were then at court: on his departure, he made very handsome presents to the king’s officers, for he was bounden so to do; and to the heralds and minstrels resident in Paris, and who attended the farewell supper he gave at the hôtel de Clisson to such of the French knights as chose to partake of it.
These things done, on the next morning he and his attendants mounted their horses and left Paris by the gate of St. James, following the road to Estampes. A knight from Beauce, called sir Guy le Baveux, escorted them. They continued their journey to Blois, where they remained eight days; for the earl had sent forward one of his knights and a herald, to signify to the duke his intention of visiting him, and the circumstance of his being on the road. The duke of Brittany was very happy to learn that his nephew, the earl of Derby, was coming to see him; for he was attached to him, and had always loved the duke of Lancaster and his other brothers. “Why,” said the duke to the knight, whose name was sir William de la Perriere, “has our nephew stopped on the road, since he intends to visit us, and has not come directly hither?” The knight excused him as well as he could; but 687 the duke said, — “It is foolish; for there is no knight whom for these last seven years I should more gladly see in Brittany than my fair nephew the earl of Derby. Let him come to us with a hearty welcome, and he shall find my country and towns open and ready to receive him.” The knight was well contented with this answer, and set out on his return as speedily as possible. On his arrival at Blois, he told the earl and his council the words of the duke of Brittany. On the morrow they mounted their horses, and left Blois, with the good wishes of the inhabitants, who had been paid most liberally for everything they had wanted, and all were contented.
In company with the earl of Derby was sir Peter de Craon, who had been so much harassed by the parliament of Paris in his suit with the queen of Naples, that he was in a manner banished France, and all this castle and estates sequestered for payment of the one hundred thousand francs he was indebted to the queen, and various other heavy sums incidental to the costs and expenses of this suit. The earl of Derby journeyed on until he came to Nantes, where he met the duke of Brittany, who received him and his company with much joy. Sir Guy le Baveux returned to France, and the earl staid with the duke, who entertained him in the best manner. The archbishop of Canterbury accompanied the earl, but did not open himself to any one on the cause of his coming, so that it was a perfect secret excepting to the earl and his council. The duke, to show his love, spared no expense in entertaining his nephew and his attendants, although he knew king Richard was very wrath against him, for which he pitied him.
Th earl, noticing the great affection of the duke, by the advice of his council discovered some parts of his plan, by way of sounding him on the subject. He asked his advice how to act in respect to his inheritances of the duchy of Lancaster and others which his father had held, and by right of succession had at his death devolved on him; but that the king, far from allowing him to have possession of the, had banished him from England, and was daily giving away the estates of his family to any who asked for them; that numbers of nobles and prelates were exceedingly discontented with the king for this conduct, and that many parts of England were in a state of warfare against each other; that the good people of London had compassion on him, and had given him to understand they would cheerfully receive him, if he would return, and bring about a reconciliation between him and the king, and recover for him his inheritance. When the duke of Brittany heard this, he replied, — “Fair nephew, the straightest road is always the best and surest. You are in a distressing situation, and ask advice: I therefore recommend you to trust to the Londoners; they are powerful, and will force king Richard, who, I understand, has behaved to you very unjustly, to do as they shall please, in conjunction with the prelates and nobles who are attached to you in England. I will assist you with vessels, men at arms, and cross-bows, to convey you over the sea, and to defend you against any dangers you may meet with.” The earl of Derby was very thankful to the duke of Brittany for this advice and offer.
CHAPTER CIX. — THE EARL OF DERBY SAILS FROM BRITTANY TO ENGLAND. — HIS RECEPTION BY THE CITIZENS OF LONDON.
THUS were all things settled most amicably between the duke of Brittany and the earl of Derby, who staid some time with the duke, and gave out that he would remain longer; but in the mean time, his purveyances were preparing at a distant sea-port, which I believe was Vannes, whither the duke and earl came when all things were ready. When the wind was favourable for England, the earl and his attendants embarked on board the vessel prepared for him. He was to be escorted by three ships full of men at arms and cross-bows, as far as the coasts of England. The fleet, having weighed anchor, put to sea, and the farther they advanced towards England, the more favourable was the wind, so that, within two days and as many nights, they arrived at Plymouth, where they landed few at a time, and entered the town*. The bailiff of Plymouth, to whom the king had intrusted the guard of 688 the town, was astonished to see so many men at arms and cross-bows; but the archbishop of Canterbury satisfied him, by saying they were men at arms whom the duke of Brittany had sent for the good of the realm, and to serve the king and country. The bailiff’s suspicions were lulled; and the earl so disguised himself that he was not discovered by any of the townsmen, and retired to a private chamber, where he remained shut up. The archbishop, on their arrival at Plymouth, instantly wrote letters, signed and sealed by him, which he despatched by one of his servants to London, to inform the citizens of the earl’s landing.
The messenger made such haste, by changing horses in the different towns he passed through, that he arrived at London by break of day on the following morning. He entered the city by London bridge gate, which was not shut, and went to the house of the mayor, who was in bed; but, on hearing a messenger was come from the archbishop, he leaped out of it, and ordered the man into his chamber, who gave him the letters from the archbishop. The mayor opened and read their contents with pleasure, and instantly dressing himself, sent off his servants with the intelligence of the earl of Derby’s landing, to the houses of those who had been the most active in sending for him. All were rejoiced at the news; and about two hundred of the principal citizens assembled, who held no long council, for the case did not require it, but cried out, — “Come, let us hasten to make ourselves ready, and to and meet our lord of Lancaster, since we have invited him hither. The archbishop of Canterbury had done well to bring him; and let the earl’s arrival be made known to such gallant lords and knights as are desirous to see him, and have him for their sovereign.” Many persons were then selected to publish this intelligence, and carry it to the barons, knights, and squires of their party. Upwards of five hundred Londoners mounted their horses, and were so impatient to see the earl of derby, that they would scarcely wait one for another.
The earl made no long stay at Plymouth, but on the morrow, when the horses were disembarked, mounted them and took the road to London. Sir Peter de Craon and the Bretons still accompanied the earl of Derby. The mayor of London and the chief citizens were the first who met the earl and the archbishop on the road. The meeting was very affectionate on both sides; and as they rode onward, they met more of the Londoners. They lay the first night at Guildford, twenty-eight miles from London. On the morrow, all the city of London knew that the earl of Derby was coming thither, and men, women, children, and clergy, dressed in their best cloths, went to meet him, so eager were they to see him. The moment he came in sight, they shouted out, “Welcome, long wished-for earl of Derby and duke of Lancaster: may all joy and prosperity attend you!” They said, — “that ever since he had left England nothing good had befallen it: by him all things would be restored, and put on a proper footing; for we have lived in a wretched state by the miserable councils of Richard of Bordeaux, but he is most blameable himself; for a king, to succeed in the good government of his kingdom should have sense and discretion enough to distinguish between good and evil. Otherwise he is unfit to wear a crown; but this Richard has, in many respects, acted wrong from design, as shall be proved against him.” Such were the greetings the earl of Derby had on his approach to London. The mayor of London rode by the side of the earl, to the delight of the people, who were pleased to see how kindly they were received. The mayor said, “See, my lord, how much the people are rejoiced at your arrival.” “It is very true,” replied the earl. As he advanced, he bowed his head to the right and left, and noticed all comers with kindness.
In this state they arrived in London, when the earl was escorted to his house; and every one retired to his own until he had dined. Then the mayor, the chief magistrates of London, and many barons, knights, bishops, abbots, at the time in town, came to see the earl and congratulate him. The duchess of Gloucester and her two daughters, who were his cousins-german, waited likewise on him; but their brother Humphrey was with the king on his expedition to Ireland, more through constraint than love. With these ladies came the countess of Arundel and some of her children, as did the lady Warwick and many other ladies resident in London. The whole town was so rejoiced at the earl’s return, that every shop was shut, and no more work done than if it had been Easter-day.
* This is a mistake; he probably coasted England, and landed at Ravenspurn in Yorkshire, between Hall and Bridlington.