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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. 689-707.
CHAPTER CX.— THE EARL OF DERBY, NOW DUKE OF LANCASTER, UNDERTAKES THE GOVERNMENT OF ENGLAND, AND, BY THE AID OF THE LONDONERS, DETERMINES TO SEIZE THE THRONE. — HE MARCHES IN ARMS AGAINST KING RICHARD AT BRISTOL.
TO bring this matter to a conclusion, it was determined to march against the king, whom the citizens of London and the towns called by no other title than Richard of Bordeaux: and the lower classes had such a hatred to him, as not to be able to speak of him but in his dispraise. The Londoners already treated the earl of Derby as their king, and had formed resolutions accordingly. The earl of Derby engaged to undertake the government of England on condition the crown was settled on him and his heirs for ever, which the Londoners swore to observe, under their hands and seals, and promised that the rest of England should do the same in so solemn a manner that there never should be a question concerning it: they also promised him assistance in men and money. These obligations having been entered into on each side, which did not take much time, for they were in haste to free themselves, twelve hundred*, well armed and mounted, were ordered to accompany the earl of Derby towards Bristol, to make Richard of Bordeaux a prisoner, and conduct him to London. When there, he should be legally tried before the nobles, prelates, and commons of England, and judged according to the proof of the charges laid against him. It was also ordered, to avoid slanderous reports, that the men at arms and cross-bows, who ha been lent by the duke of Brittany to the earl, as his escort, should be sent back, for they had men sufficient for the purpose they were about. The earl, in consequence, called the Bretons before him, thanked them warmly for the services they had rendered him, and on their departure, gave them so much money that they were contented. They returned to their vessels at Plymouth, and thence sailed to Brittany.
The earl of Derby was prepared to march to Bristol as commander-in-chief of these Londoners, or he was more interested in the matter than any one else, and set out in good array. He pressed his march as much as he could, and was joined by all the countries he passed through. News was carried to the army of king Richard†, of the march of the earl of Derby and the Londoners; but it was known to many knights, squires, and archers, before the king; and several heard it who were afraid to tell him. When it became more public, there were many murmurings in the army; and those about the person if the king were exceedingly alarmed, for they now saw matters were ripe with every mischief and danger to the king and to themselves. They knew they had many enemies in the kingdom; and that such as had hitherto kept up fair appearances, now the earl of Derby was come back, would turn against them. Thus did it happen; for numbers of knights and squires who had served the king in this campaign, dissembled, and quitted him without taking leave, or saying they were going away. Some retired to their houses, and others went straight to the earl of Derby and joined his army. As soon as Humphrey of Gloucester, and Richard of Arundel, son to the late earl, knew for certain of the earl of Derby’s approach, they left the king, and never stopped until they had joined him. The earl and his army had passed Oxford, and were then at a town called Cirencester: he had great joy in receiving his cousins, and asked the state of king Richard, where he was, and how they had managed to quit him. They replied, that they had not spoken to him of their departure: but the moment they had heard of his march, they had mounted their hoses, and hastened to offer him their services, and to revenge the loss of their fathers, whom Richard of Bordeaux had put to death. The earl bade them welcome, and said, — “We will mutually assist each other. Richard of Bordeaux must be carried to London, for so I have promised the Londoners, and will keep my word, and they are willing to aid me with all their power. We have men enough to fight with him; and, if he wish it, we will give him battle.”
* “Twelve hundred,” — the MSS. say twelve thousand, which is more probable.
† Richard was in Ireland when the news arrived. — ED.
CHAPTER CXI.— KING RICHARD IS INFORMED THAT THE EARL OF DERBY IS MARCHING AGAINST HIM WITH A POWERFUL ARMY. — HE RETIRES TO FLINT-CASTLE*.
WHEN matters could not longer be concealed, it was told to king Richard, — “Sire, take care of yourself: you must have good and speedy counsel, for the Londoners have risen with a mighty power, and intend to march against you. They have elected the earl of Derby, your cousin, their commander, and by his advice they act: you may be assured that some strong treaties have been entered into between then, since he has crossed the sea by their invitation.” The king was thunderstruck at hearing this, and knew not what answer to make; for his courage forsook him, and he foresaw affairs would end badly unless proper steps were immediately taken. Having mused a while, he replied to the knights who had given him this information, — “Instantly make ready our men at arms and archers, and issue a special summons throughout the kingdom for the assembling of all my vassals, as I will not fly before my subjects.” “By God,” answered the knights, “everything goes badly, for your men are leaving you and running off. You have already lost half your army, and the remainder are panicstruck and wavering.” “What can I do then?” asked the king. “We will tell you, sire; quit the field, for you cannot hold it longer, and make for one of your castles, where you can remain until your brother, Sir John Holland, who is enterprising and courageous, and must now have heard of the rebellion, comes to you: he will, by force or negotiations, bring your affairs into a different state from that in which they are at present. When it is known that he has taken the field, many who have fled from you will join him.” The king agreed to this advice. The earl of Salisbury was not then with him, but in another part of the country, and, when he heard that the earl of Derby was marching a large army against the king, he judged things would turn out badly for his master, and for all who had been his advisers. He therefore remained quiet, waiting for further intelligence.
The duke of York had not accompanied the king on this expedition: but his son, the earl of Rutland, had been induced to join him, for two reasons; one, in return for the great affection king Richard had shown him; the other, because he was constable of England. It was therefore necessary he should attend his king. Other news was brought the king, as he supped: they said, — “Sire, you must determine how you will act; for your army is as nothing compared to the force marching against you, and a combat will be of no avail, and appease the malcontents as you have formerly done, by kind words and fair promises, and punish them afterwards at your leisure. There is a castle twelve miles from here, called Flint, that is tolerably strong: we therefore advise that you fly thither and remain shut up as long as you please, or until you hear other news from sir John Holland and your friends. We will send to Ireland for succour; and when the king of France, your father-in-law, shall hear of your distress, he will assist you.”
King Richard listened to this advice, and thought it good: he selected such as he wished to accompany him, and ordered the earl of Rutland to remain at Bristol with the remnant of the army, ready prepared to advance when they should hear other news, or when they should be sufficiently strong to combat their enemies. These commands were obeyed; and the king, attended by his household only, departed on the ensuing morning for Flint-castle, which they entered without showing any appearance of making war on any one, but solely to defend themselves and the place, should they be attacked.†
* It was Conway castle to which Richard retired.
† This account of Froissart is very incorrect, and I refer to the different English chronicles.
CHAPTER CXII.— KING RICHARD SURRENDERS HIMSELF TO THE EARL OF DERBY, TO BE CONDUCTED TO LONDON.
THE earl of Derby and the Londoners had spies who brought them daily accounts of the king, which were confirmed by knights and squires, who had left his army to join the earl. The intelligence of the king having fled to Flint-castle was soon known to him; 691 and that he had there shut himself up with a few men at arms, of his household, showing no symptoms of making war, but to get out of his difficulties, if possible, by a treaty. The earl was advised to march thither, and get possession of his person by force or otherwise. This was followed; and, when the army was within two miles of Flint, they came to a village, where they halted, and the earl refreshed himself with meat and drink. He there resolved in his own mind, without consulting others, to march with only two hundred horse, leaving the rest behind, and, when near the castle wherein the king was, to endeavour, by fair speeches, to enter the castle, and cajole the king to come forth and trust to him, who would insure him against all perils on his road to London, engaging that he should not suffer any bodily harm, and promising to mediate between him and the Londoners, who were greatly enraged against him. This plan was approved of by those to whom he mentioned it; but he was told, — “My lord, beware of any dissimulation in the business: Richard of Bordeaux must be taken, dead or alive, with all the traitors who have been his advisers, and conducted to the Tower of London. Neither the Londoners nor we will hear anything to the contrary.” The earl of Derby replied, — “Do not fear: what I have proposed shall be executed. If I can by fair words get him out of the castle, I will do it; but if he refuse to listen to me, I shall instantly make you acquainted with it. You will advance the main army immediately, and we will besiege the castle, and by assault have him dead or alive, for the place is to be taken.”
The Londoners were now satisfied, and the earl left the army with two hundred horse. They soon came before the castle, where the king was shut up in one of the chambers much cast down. The earl and his men rode to the gate, which was closed, for the case required it, and knocked loudly. Those within asked, “Who is there?” The earl replied, “I am Henry of Lancaster, and am come to demand from the king my inheritance of the duchy of Lancaster. Tell him so from me.” “My lord,” answered those who heard him, “we will cheerfully do it,” and instantly ascended to the hall where the king was with those of his knights that had for a long time been his chief counsellors, and related the message, for he was eager to hear who had so rudely knocked at the gate — “Sire, it is your cousin the earl of Derby, who is come to demand his inheritance from you.” The king looked at his knights, and asked how he should act. “Sire,” replied they, “this request is no way improper: you may allow him to come into your presence, with only eleven others, and hear what he has to say. He is your cousin, and a great lord of the country, and can besides, if he please, make up all differences; for he is exceedingly beloved in England, more especially by the Londoners, who sent for him beyond sea, and are now in rebellion against you. You must dissemble until matters be appeased, and the earl of Huntingdon, your brother, arrived. It is unfortunate for him and you that he is at this moment at Calais; for there are many in England who now rebel against you, that, were he by your side, would remain quiet, and not dare take any part. He is married to the sister of the earl of Derby, and by his good sense and exertions, we hope and suppose he will make peace between you and your people.”
The king consented to this proposal, and said, “Go to him: have the gates opened that he and eleven more may enter.” Two knights then left the king, and, crossing the court of the castle, came to the gate, and had the wicket opened. Having passed it, they bowed to the earl of Derby and to his knights, addressing them in courteous language; for they felt they had no force to resist them, and that they were hated by the Londoners. They wished therefore to accommodate matters by fair speeches and outward appearances. They said to the earl, “My lord, what is your pleasure? The king is at mass, and has sent us hither to speak with you.” “I will tell you,” answered the earl. “You know that I ought to have possession of the duchy of Lancaster: I am come partly on that account, and on some other business I wish to speak of to the king.” “My lord,” replied they, “you are welcome: the king will see and hear you with pleasure, and has told us that you and eleven more may enter the castle.” The earl said it pleased him; and he and eleven others passed the wicket, which was instantly shut on the others who remained without.
Consider the great risk and danger the earl of Derby ran, for they could as easily have slain him, when in the castle (which they should have done, right or wrong), and his companions, as birds in a cage. He never thought of the peril he was in, but went straight 692 forward and was conducted to the king. The king, on seeing him, changed colour, as one who knew he had greatly misconducted himself. The earl spoke aloud, without paying any reverence or honour to the king, and asked him, “Have you broken your fast? The king answered, “No: it is yet early morn: why do you ask?” “It is time you should breakfast,” replied the earl, “for you have a long way to ride.” “What road?” said the king. “You must come to London,” answered the earl: “and I advise that you eat and drink heartily, to perform the journey more gaily.” The king was now very melancholy, and frightened at these words: he said, “I am not as yet hungry, nor have I any desire to eat.” The knights, desirous to flatter the earl of Derby (perceiving things were taking a serious turn), said, “Sire, have confidence in my lord of Lancaster, your cousin, for he can but wish your good.” “Well,” said the king, “I am willing so to do: have the tables covered.”
They hastened to obey these orders; and the king washed his hands, seated himself at table, and was served. They asked the earl if he would not be seated, and eat. He said, “no; for that he had breakfasted.” During the time the king was eating (which was not long, for his heart was too much oppressed to eat) the whole country was covered with men at arms and archers, who could be plainly seen from the windows of the castle. The king, on rising from table, perceived them, and asked his cousin the earl who they were. He replied, “For the most part Londoners.” “And what do they want?” said the king. “They want to take you,” answered the earl, “and carry you to the Tower of London, and there is not any means of pacifying them, unless you consent to go.” “No!” replied the king, who was much frightened at hearing this, for he knew the Londoners hated him, and continued, “cannot you, cousin, prevent this? I would not willingly yield myself into their hands; for I am aware they hate me, and have done so for a long time, although I am their sovereign.” The earl of Derby answered, — “I see no other way to prevent it, but to surrender yourself to me, and, when they know you are my prisoner, they will not do you any harm. You must make preparations to be conducted and imprisoned in the Tower of London with your attendants.” The king, not knowing how to act in his distress, and fearing the Londoners would put him to death, yielded himself prisoner to the earl of Derby, promising to do whatever he should advise. His knights, squires and officers, surrendered in like manner, to avoid greater danger. The earl, in the presence of those who had accompanied him, received the king and his attendants as his prisoners, and ordered the horses to be instantly saddled, brought to the court, and the gates of the castle to be thrown open, on which many men at arms and archers entered it.
The earl of Derby now issued a proclamation, that no one should dare to touch anything in the castle, or lay hands on any servant or officer of the king, under pain of being instantly hanged, for that every person and thing were under his special protection and guard. This was obeyed, for there was not one bold enough to act contrary. The earl conducted his cousin, king Richard, down stairs to the court of the castle, continuing in close connection with him, where he had his usual state, without the smallest change having been made in it. While they were saddling the horses, and making ready, they talked on different subjects, and were much looked at by the Londoners.
I heard of a singular circumstance that happened, which I must mention. King Richard had a greyhound called Math*, beautiful beyond measure, who would not notice nor follow any one but the king. Whenever the king rode abroad, the greyhound was loosed by the person who had him in charge, and ran instantly to caress him, by placing his two fore feet on his shoulders. It fell out, that as the king and the duke of Lancaster were conversing in the court of the castle, their horses being ready for them to mount, the greyhound was untied, but, instead of running as usual to the king, he left him, and leaped to the duke of Lancaster’s shoulders, paying him every court, and caressing him as he was formerly used to caress the king. The duke, not acquainted with this greyhound, asked the king the meaning of this fondness, saying, “What does this mean?” “Cousin,” replied the king, “it means a great deal for you, and very little for me.” “How?” said the duke: “pray 693 explain it.” “I understand by it,” answered the king, “that this greyhound fondles and pays his court to you this day as king of England, which you will surely be, and I shall be deposed, for the natural instinct of the dog shows it to him. Keep him therefore by your side, for he will now leave me, and follow you.” The duke of Lancaster treasured up what the king had said, and paid attention to the greyhound, who would never more follow Richard of Bordeaux, but kept by the side of the duke of Lancaster, as was witnessed by thirty thousand men.
* The Museum MSS. call this greyhound Blemach, mine Mach. The greyhound seems to have been a favourite prognosticator in these times; for, when the armies of the two rivals, John of Montfort and Charles de Blois, were on the point of engaging, the lord Charles’s greyhound left him and caressed John of Montford, who gained the battle.
CHAPTER CXIII.— THE LADY OF COUCY IS TAKEN AWAY FROM THE YOUNG QUEEN OF ENGLAND, AND A NEW HOUSEHOLD APPOINTED FOR HER. — KING RICHARD IS CONFINED IN THE TOWER OF LONDON.
HAVING mounted their horses, they departed from Flint-castle *, and Henry duke of Lancaster, whom we shall no longer all earl of Derby, rode by the king’s side, an at times conversed with him. They were surrounded by a large body of men at arms and archers. Those of the king’s party advanced by themselves, and the first town they lay at was Oxford†; for the duke of Lancaster avoided all the large towns and castles, by keeping in the open country, for fear of insurrections of the people. The duke disbanded a great part of his army, saying, “he had enough for the completion of his business, as the king could not now fly nor escape from him. We will carry him and his advisers to London, and return, therefore, to your homes until you shall again hear from me.” All assented to this proposal of the duke, who took the direct road to Windsor; and the Londoners, except those he had kept with him, went to their homes. The duke of Lancaster, on leaving Windsor, did not follow the road to Colnbrook, but that to Shene, and dined with the king at Chertsey. King Richard had earnestly requested his cousin not to carry him through London, which was the reason they had gone this road.
As soon as the Londoners were masters of the king, they sent some of the principal citizens to queen Isabella, who resided with the lady of Coucy at Leeds castle. She was next in rank to the queen; and they addressed her, — “Lady, make preparations of departure, for you must not longer remain here. Take care, on quitting the queen, that you show not any tokens of anger at being dismissed; but say, that your husband and daughter have sent for you. This we advise you to do, if you regard your life; for, should you act any way contrary, it will be forfeited. You have no need to ask questions, nor make inquiries: you shall be conducted to Dover, and embark on board a passage-boat to convey you to Boulogne.” The lady of Coucy, afraid of these menaces, and knowing those who made them to be cruel and full of hatred, replied, “that in God’s name, she would do as they wished.” Preparations were soon made: palfreys and hackneys were soon provided for herself and attendants; and all the French of both sexes set off, escorted as far as Dover, when they were liberally paid, according to their degrees. The first tide, they embarked on board a vessel, with a favourable wind to Boulogne. The household of the queen was thus broken up, and neither French nor English were left with her who were attached to king Richard. A new one was formed of ladies, damsels, officers, and varlets, who were strictly enjoined never to mention the name of king Richard in their conversations with her.694
The duke of Lancaster and his company, on their departure from Chertsey, rode to Shene, and, during the night, conducted the king and such of his knights and others as they wished to confine, to the Tower of London. On the morrow, the Londoners heard the king was in the Tower, and were much rejoiced; but there were many murmurings that he had been brought thither privately, and the people were very angry with the duke of Lancaster because he had not carried him publicly through the streets in open day, not to do him honour, but that they might show their scorn, so much was he hated by them. Consider how serious a thing it is when the people rise up in arms against their sovereign, more especially such a people as the English. In such a case, there is no remedy; for they are the worst people in the world, the most obstinate and presumptuous; and of all England the Londoners are the leaders, for, to say the truth, they are very powerful in men and in wealth. In the city and neighbourhood, there are twenty-four thousand men, completely armed form head to foot, and full thirty thousand archers. This is a great force, and they are bold and courageous; and the more blood is spilt, the greater their courage.
* Conway castle.
† “After the king had been carried to the duke of Lancaster at Chester, on the third day the duke departed with his prisoner thence to Nantwich; the next day to Newcastle, and there the earl of Warwick’s son met them; and so journeying forth, the next day they came to Stafford, and after they departed to Lichfield, where the king thought to have escaped, slipping down into a garden, out of a window of a great tower; but he was espied, and brought into the tower again. From Lichfield, the duke went to Coventry; but, before they could come thither, the Welshmen did them much mischief, and slew many of them; and the Englishmen, when they by great chance could take any of them, they tied to their horses’ tails, and drew them after them through ways full of stones, and caused them to die miserably.
“The duke passed from Coventry to Daventry, the next day to Northampton, from thence to Dunstable, and then to Saint Albans. Within five or six miles before his coming to London, the mayor and the companies in their liveries, with great noise of trumpets, met the duke, doing more reverence to him than to the king, rejoicing that God had sent them such a prince, that had conquered the realm within one month’s space.” &c. — Stowe’s Chronicle, by Howes, pp. 322, 323.
CHAPTER CXIV.— THE EARL OF RUTLAND, CONSTABLE OF ENGLAND, HEARING THE KING HAS SURRENDERED, DISMISSES HIS MEN AT ARMS. — FOUR KNIGHTS OF THE KING’S CHAMBER, HAVING BEEN PUT TO DEATH BY THE LONDONERS, HE IS ADVISED BY THOSE WHO WERE IMPRISONED WITH HIM TO RESIGN HIS CROWN TO THE DUKE OF LANCASTER.
WE will speak of the earl of Rutland, son to the duke of York, at this time constable of England, who had remained at Bristol with his brother-in-law the lord de Spencer, and their men. When they learnt that the castle the king had retired to was invested, and that the king, on his surrendering, was carried to London, they instantly foresaw the event, and that it must end badly for king Richard. They determined not to stay longer where they were, but dismissing their men at arms, except such as were attached to their person, left Bristol, and rode to a very handsome seat* the lord de Spencer had in Wales, where they remained until they heard other intelligence. The duke of York resided at his own castle with his people, and interfered not in what was passing in the country, nor had done so for a long time, but taking all things as they happened, although he was very much vexed that there should be such great differences between his nephew, the king, and his relations.
We will return to king Richard. When the duke of Lancaster had imprisoned him and those of his council in the Tower, and placed sure guards over them, the first thing he did was to recall the earl of Warwick from his banishment, and to give him his liberty. He next sent to summon the earl of Percy and his son sir Harry Percy to attend him, which they did. He then inquired how he could lay hands on those four companions who had strangled his uncle in the castle of Calais, and at length succeeded in arresting the whole four, and would not have taken twenty thousand nobles for their deliverance. He had them confined in separate prisons in London. The duke then consulted with his council and the citizens what should be done with Richard of Bordeaux, who was confined in the great Tower of London, wherein king John of France was once imprisoned, during the campaign of king Edward in France. It was resolved that the king should be deprived of all his state and outward marks of royalty, if they wished to act prudently, for the news of his arrest would make a great noise, throughout Christendom, as they had acknowledged him twenty-two years as their king, and now held him a prisoner.
They examined the whole acts of his reign, and drew up twenty-eight articles against him, with which they came to the Tower, accompanied by the duke of Lancaster, and some knights and squires of his council. They entered the king’s apartment without speaking to him, or paying any kind of respect, and read to him these charges. He did not deny them, for he knew they were true, but said that everything he had done was by the advice of his council. He was told to name those who had been his principal advisers, which he did, hoping to escape by throwing the blame on them, as he had formerly done, and they to receive the 695 punishment; but this was not the intention of those Londoners who had confined him. At this time they said nothing further, but went away: the duke of Lancaster to his own house, leaving the mayor and men of law to act as they pleased.
The mayor went to the town-house of London, called the Guildhall, where justice is administered to the citizens, followed by crowds of people, expecting something effective to be done, as indeed there was. I will detail what passed. First, all the articles which had been drawn up against the king and read to him, were again read aloud, with comments by the person who read them, adding, that the king had not denied their truth, but confessed he had done them through the advice of four knights of his chamber, by whose counsels he had put to death the duke of Gloucester, the earl of Arundel, and sir Thomas Corbet, and that they had for a long time excited him to these acts. Such deeds were unpardonable, and must be punished; for by them and their fellows had the courts of justice been shut at Westminster, and all the other royal courts throughout England, which had caused great mischiefs, and encouraged bands of robbers to pillage merchants travelling from town to town, and to plunder the houses of farmers. By these means the kingdom of England had been almost irrecoverably ruined; and it was to be supposed, from this wanton neglect of England, that Calais or Guisnes, or both, would have been given up to their enemies the French. Such speeches as the above made an impression on the minds of the people, so that many of the discontented said, — “These things are deserving punishment, that others may take example; and Richard of Bordeaux has so much disgraced himself, that he is unworthy of wearing a crown, and ought to be deprived of all honours, and confined to pass his future life on bread and water, and subsist on that as he could.” Some of the lower classes cried out, — “Sir mayor, you and your companions, who are the distributors of justice, look that it be done: we insist upon it, and spare no man. You see, by what you have told us, that the case requires it, and immediately, for they have convicted themselves.”
The mayor and the lawyers retired to the judgment-seat, and the four knights were condemned to death. They were sentenced to be brought before the apartment of the Tower of London in which king Richard was confined, that he might see them from the windows, and thence drawn on sledges by horses through the streets to Cheapside, each person separately, and there beheaded, their heads affixed to spikes on London-bridge, and their bodies hung on a gibbet, and there left. When this sentence was pronounced, they hastened to execute it. Everything being prepared, the mayor of London, and the lords who had assisted him in his judgment, set out from Guildhall with a large body of people, and came to the Tower of London, where they seized the four knights of the king, sir Bernard Brocas, the lord Marclais, master John Derby, receiver of Lincoln, and the lord Stelle, steward of the king’s household. They were brought into the court, and each tied to two horses, in the sight of all in the Tower, who were eye-witnesses of it as well as the king, who were much displeased, and in despair; for the remainder of the king’s knights that were with him looked for similar treatment, so cruel and revengeful did they know the Londoners to be. Without saying a word, these four were dragged from the Tower, through the streets to Cheapside, and, on a fishmonger’s stall, had their heads struck off, which were placed over the gate on London-bridge, and their bodies hung on a gibbet. After this execution every man retired to his home.
King Richard was much afflicted at finding himself in such danger from the citizens, and that his power was completely gone. He saw that all England was against him; and, if he had some few friends left, they could not assist him, for his enemies were too numerous. Those about him said; “Sire, we have not, as it seems, any great hope of saving our lives. When your cousin of Lancaster prevailed on you to yield yourself up to him, he promised that you and twelve of your knights should be his own prisoners, and no harm done to them: of these, four have just been put to a disgraceful death: we must expect the same, and will give you our reasons for it. The Londoners, who have urged him to do this deed, have made him enter into such engagements with them that he cannot act in any other manner. God will be very merciful to us if we are suffered to die here a natural death, for to die a disgraceful one makes us shudder.” King Richard, on hearing them thus talk, wept bitterly, wrung his hands, and cursed the hour he had been born, when his end was so miserable. 696 Those around him pitied his distress, and comforted him as well as they wee able. One of his knights said — “Sire, you must not be too much cast down. We se, as well as you, that this world is nothing, and that the fickleness of fortune is wonderful, sparing neither princes nor poor persons. The king of France, whose daughter you have married, cannot at this moment assist you, for he is too far off. If you can, by dissembling, escape from this peril, and save your life and ours, you will act well; and, within a year or two, your fortune may change.”
“What would you have me do?” replied the king, “for there is nothing I will not attempt to save us.” “Sire, we tell you for a truth, that from every appearance, the Londoners want to crown your cousin of Lancaster their king; and with this intent they sent for him from France, and have aided him in all his exploits. Now it is impossible, that so long as you shall be alive, this coronation can take place without your consent. Suppose, therefore, you were to offer your cousin terms, that we might escape the imminent danger we are in, and that you send to speak with him on business. On his coming, treat him affectionately, and say that you wish to resign the crown into his hands, and that he be king: by this means, you will soften him and appease the citizens. You will earnestly beg, that he allow you to finish your days here, or elsewhere; and for us to remain with you, or be separated, or banished abroad for our lives, at his pleasure; for he who loseth his life loseth everything.” King Richard heard these words with comfort to his heart, and said he would act accordingly, for he saw his danger was very great. He gave his keepers to understand he would willingly speak with the duke of Lancaster.
* D. Sauvage calls this seat Heulle. My MS. says only a very handsome manor, which I suppose must have been Caerphilly in Glamorganshire.
CHAPTER CXV.— KING RICHARD OF ENGLAND RESIGNS HIS CROWN AND KINGDOM INTO THE HANDS OF THE DUKE OF LANCASTER.
INTELLIGENCE was carried to the duke of Lancaster that Richard of Bordeaux had a great desire to speak with him. The duke left this house in the evening, entered his barge with his knights, and was rowed down the Thames to the Tower, which he entered by a postern gate, and went to the apartment of the king. The king received him with great kindness, and humbled himself exceedingly like to one who perceives he is in a dangerous state. He addressed him — “Cousin, I have been considering my situation, which is miserable enough, and I have no longer any thoughts of wearing my crown or governing my people. As God may have my soul, I wish I were at this moment dead of a natural death, and the king of France had his daughter again; for we have never enjoyed any great happiness together, nor since I have brought her hither have I had the love my people bore me formerly. Cousin of Lancaster, when I look back, I am convinced I have behaved very ill to you, and to other nobles of my blood, for which I cannot expect peace nor pardon. All things, therefore, considered, I am willing freely to resign to you the crown of England; and I beg you will accept the resignation as a gift.”
The duke replied, “that it would be necessary the three estates of the realm should hear this. I have issued summonses for the assembling the nobles, prelates, and deputies from the principal towns; and within three days a sufficiency will be collected for you to make your resignation in due form. By this act, you will greatly appease the hatred of the nation against you. To obviate the mischiefs that had arisen from the courts of justice being shut, and which had created an almost universal anarchy, was I sent for from beyond sea. The people wanted to crown me, for the common report in the country is, that I have a better right to the crown than you have. This was told to our grandfather, king Edward of happy memory, when he educated you, and had you acknowledged heir to the throne; but his love was so strong for his son, the prince of Wales, nothing could make him alter his purpose, but that you must be king. If you had followed the example of the prince, or attended to the advice of his counsellors, like a good son, who should be anxious to tread in the steps of a father, you might still have been king; but you have always acted so contrary, as to occasion the rumour to be generally believed throughout England and elsewhere, that you are not the son of the prince of Wales, but of a priest or canon.697
“I have heard several knights, who were of the household of my uncle the prince, declare, that he was jealous of the princess’s conduct. She was cousin-german to king Edward, who began to dislike her nor not having children by his son, since he had, by her former marriage with sir Thomas Holland, stood godfather to two sons. She knew well how to keep the prince in her chains, having, through subtlety, enticed him to marry; but, fearful of begin divorced by his father, for want of heirs, and that the prince would marry again, it was said she got connected with some one, by whom she had you and another son, who died in his infancy, and no judgment can be formed of his character: but you, from your manners and mode of acting, so contrary to the gallantry and prowess of the prince, are thought to be the son of a priest or canon; for, at the time of your birth, there were many young and handsome ones in the household of the prince at Bordeaux. Such is the report of this country, which your conduct has confirmed: for you have ever shown great affection to the French, and an inclination to live on good terms with them, to the loss and dishonour of England. Because my uncle of Gloucester and the earl of Arundel wished you would loyally defend the honour of the kingdom, by following the steps of your ancestors, you have treacherously put them to death.
“With regard to me, I have taken you under my protection, and will guard and preserve your life, through compassion, as long as I shall be able. I will likewise entreat the Londoners in your behalf, and the heirs of those you have put to death.” “Many thanks,” answered the king: “I have greater confidence in you than in any other person in England.” “You are in the right,” replied the duke; “for, had I not stepped forward between you and the people, they would have seized you, and disgracefully killed you, in return for all your wicked acts, which are the cause of the dangerous state you are now in.” King Richard heard all this patiently, for he saw that neither arguments nor force could avail, and that resignation and humility were his only arms. He therefore humbled himself exceedingly to the duke, earnestly begging that his life might be spared. The duke of Lancaster remained with the king upward of two hours, and continued in his conversation to reproach him for all the faults he was accused of. He then took leave, re-entered his 698 barge, and returned to his house, and, on the morrow, renewed his orders for the assembly of the three estates of the realm”
The duke of York, and his son, the earl of Rutland, came to London, as did the earl of Northumberland and his brother, sir Thomas Percy, to whom the duke of Lancaster gave a hearty welcome, with numbers of prelates, bishops, and abbots. The duke of Lancaster accompanied by a large body of dukes, prelates, earls, barons, knights, and principal citizens, rode to the Tower of London, and dismounted in the court. King Richard was released from his prison, and entered the hall which had been prepared for the occasion, royally addressed, the sceptre in his hand, and the crown on is head, but without supporters on either side. He addressed the company as follows: “I have reigned king of England, duke of Aquitaine, and lord of Ireland, about twenty-two years, which royalty, lordship, sceptre, and crown, I now freely and willingly resign to my cousin, Henry of Lancaster, and entreat of him, in the presence of you all, to accept this sceptre.” He then tendered the sceptre to the duke of Lancaster, who took it and gave it to the archbishop of Canterbury. King Richard next raised the crown with his two hands from his head, and, placing it before him, said, “Henry, fair cousin, and duke of Lancaster, I present and give to you this crown, with which I was crowned king of England, and all the rights dependent on it.”
The duke of Lancaster received it, and delivered it over the archbishop of Canterbury, who was at hand to take it. These two things being done, and the resignation accepted, the duke of Lancaster called in a public notary, that an authentic act should be drawn up of this proceeding, and witnessed by the lords and prelates then present. Soon after, the king was conducted to where he had come from, and the duke and other lords mounted their horses to return home. The two jewels were safely packed up, and given to proper guards, to place them in the treasury of Westminster-abbey, until they should be called for when the parliament were assembled.
CHAPTER CXVI.— A PARLIAMENT MEETS AT WESTMINSTER, WHEN THE DUKE OF LANCASTER IS PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGED KING OF ENGLAND. — THE GREAT MAGNIFICENCE OF HIS CORONATION.
ON a Wednesday, the last day of September 1399, Henry duke of Lancaster held a parliament at Westminster; at which were assembled the greater part of the clergy and nobility of England, and a sufficient number of deputies from the different towns, according to their extent and wealth. In this parliament, the duke of Lancaster challenged the crown of England, and claimed it as his own, for three reasons: first, by conquest; secondly, from being the right heir to it; and, thirdly, from the pure and free resignation of it to him, by king Richard, in the presence of the prelates, dukes and earls in the hall of the Tower of London. These three claims being made, he required the parliament to declare their opinion and will. Upon this, they unanimously replied, that it was their will he should be king, for they would have no other. He again asked, if they were positive in this declaration; and, when they said they were, he seated himself on the royal throne. This throne was elevated some feet from the floor, with a rich canopy of cloth of gold, so that he could be seen by all present. On the king’s taking his seat, the people clapped their hands for joy, and held them up, promising him fealty and homage. The parliament was then dissolved, and the day of coronation appointed for the feast of Saint Edward, which fell on a Monday, the 13th of October.
On the Saturday before the coronation, the new king went from Westminster to the tower of London, attended by great numbers, and those squires who were to be knighted watched their arms that night: they amounted to forty-six: each squire had his chamber and bath, in which he bathed. The ensuing day, the duke of Lancaster, after mass, created them knights, and presented them with long green coats, with straight sleeves lined with minever, after the manner of prelates. These knights had on their left shoulders a double cord of white silk, with white tufts hanging down. The duke of Lancaster left the Tower this Sunday after dinner, on his return to Westminster: he was bare-headed, and had round his 699 neck the order of the king of France. The prince of Wales, six dukes, six earls, eighteen barons, accompanied him; and there were, of knights and other nobility, from eight to nine hundred horse in the procession. The duke was dressed in a jacket, after the German fashion, of cloth of gold, mounted on a white courser, with a blue garter on his left leg. He passed through the streets of London, which were all handsomely decorated with tapestries and other rich hangings: there were nine fountains in Cheapside, and other streets he passed through, which perpetually ran with white and red wines. He was escorted by prodigious numbers of gentlemen, with their servants in liveries and badges; and the different companies of London were led by their wardens clothed in their proper livery, and with ensigns of their trade. The whole cavalcade amounted to six thousand horse, which escorted the duke from the Tower to Westminster. That same night the duke bathed, and on the morrow confessed himself, as he had good need to do, and according to his custom heard three masses. The prelates and clergy who had been assembled then came in a large body in procession from Westminster-abbey, to conduct the king thither, and returned in the same manner, the king and his lords following them. The dukes, earls, and barons, wore long scarlet robes, with mantles trimmed with ermine, and large hoods of the same. The dukes and earls had three bars of ermine on the left arm, a quarter of a yard long, or thereabout: the barons had but two. All the knights and squires had uniform cloaks of scarlet lined with minever. In the procession to the church, the duke had borne over his head a rich canopy of blue silk, supported on silver staves, with four golden bells that rang at the corners, by four burgesses of Dover, who claimed it as their right. On each side of him were the sword of mercy and the sword of justice: the first was borne by the prince of Wales, and the other by the earl of Northumberland, constable of England, for the earl of Rutland had been dismissed. The earl of Westmoreland, marshal of England, carried the sceptre.
The procession entered the church about nine o’clock; in the middle of which was erected a scaffold covered with crimson cloth, and in the centre a royal throne of cloth of gold. When the duke entered the church, he seated himself on the throne, and was thus in regal state, except having the crown on his head. The archbishop of Canterbury proclaimed from the four corners of the scaffold, how God had given them a man for their lord and sovereign, and then asked the people if they were consenting to his being consecrated and crowned king. 700 They unanimously shouted out, “Ay!” and held up their hands, promising fealty and homage. After this, the duke descended from his throne, and advanced to the altar to be consecrated. This ceremony was performed by two archbishops and ten bishops: he was stripped of all his royal state before the altar, naked to his shirt, and was then anointed and consecrated at six places; that is to say, on the head, the breast, the two shoulders, before and behind, on the back and hands; they then placed a bonnet on his head; and, while this was doing the clergy chanted the litany, or the service that is performed to hallow a font.
The king was now dressed in a churchman’s clothes like a deacon; and they put on him shoes of crimson velvet, after the manner of a prelate. Then they added spurs with a point, but no rowel, and the sword of justice was drawn, blessed and delivered to the king, who put it into the scabbard, when the archbishop of Canterbury girded it about him. The crown of Saint Edward, which is arched over like a cross, was next brought and blessed, and placed by the archbishop on the king’s head. When mass was over, the king left the church, and returned to the palace in the same state as before. There was in the court-yard a fountain that constantly ran with white and red wine from various mouths. The king went first to his closet, and then returned to the hall to dinner.
At the first table sat the king, at the second the five great peers of England, at the third the principal citizens of London, at the fourth the new-created knights, at the fifth all knights and squires of honour. The king was served by the prince of Wales, who carried the sword of mercy, and on the opposite side by the constable, who bore the sword of justice. At the bottom of the table was the earl of Westmoreland with the sceptre. There were only at the king’s table the two archbishops and seventeen bishops. When dinner was half over, a knight of he name of Dymock entered the hall completely armed, and mounted on a handsome steed, richly barbed with crimson housings. The knight was armed for wager of battle, and was preceded by another knight bearing his lance: he himself had his drawn sword in one hand, and his naked dagger by his side. The knight presented the king with a written paper, the contents of which were, that if any knight or gentleman should dare to maintain that king Henry was not a lawful sovereign, he was ready to offer him combat in the presence of the king, when and where he should be pleased to appoint. The king ordered this challenge to be proclaimed by heralds in six different parts of the town and the hall, to which no answer was made. After king Henry had dined, and partaken of wine and spices in the hall, he retired to his private apartments, and all the company went to their homes. Thus passed the coronation day of king Henry, who remained that and the ensuing day at the palace of Westminster. The earl of Salisbury could not attend these feasts, for he was in close confinement under secure guards; and the king’s ministers, with many of the nobles and citizens of London, were anxious that he should be publicly beheaded in Cheapside. They said that he was deserving of every punishment, for having carried such a message from Richard of Bordeaux to the French king and his court, and publicly proclaiming king Henry a false and wicked traitor, and that these were unpardonable crimes. The king was naturally good-tempered, and, far from inclining to put him to death, took compassion on him, and listened to the excuses he made for what he had done, by throwing the blame on the four knights who had been beheaded, as he had only obeyed their orders. The council and Londoners would not hear his excuses, and would have him executed, for they said he had deserved it. The earl of Salisbury therefore continued in prison, in great danger of his life.
Sir John Holland, earl of Huntingdon, who was governor of Calais, had been duly informed of all that had passed; how his brother, king Richard, had been arrested and carried to the Tower of London, where he had been condemned to pass his life, after resigning his crown to Henry of Lancaster, who was acknowledged king of England. The earl of Huntingdon, notwithstanding the vexation the state of his brother, king Richard, gave him, weighed well the times and circumstances, and found that he alone could not pretend to withstand the whole power of England. His countess, sister-german to king Henry, told him, on his return from Calais to England, — “My lord, you must prudently lay aside your anger, and not hastily do anything you may repent of, for my lord the king, my brother, can show you 701 much kindness. You see the whole kingdom is in his favour, and should you commit yourself by any rash act, you are ruined. I advise and entreat you to dissemble your vexation, for king Henry is as much your brother as king Richard. Attach yourself to him, and you will find him a good and faithful friend; for there has not been any king of England so rich as he is, and he may be of the greatest service to you and to your children.” The earl of Huntingdon listened to what the countess said, and followed her advice. He waited on his brother-in-law, king Henry, paid him many respects, and did his homage, promising fealty and service: the king received him with much pleasure. The earl, afterwards, with the support of other friends, pressed the king so strongly in favour of the earl of Salisbury, that his excuses were heard and accepted: his mission to France was pardoned, and he regained the favour of the king and people.
CHAPTER CXVII.— INTELLIGENCE OF THE IMPRISONMENT OF KING RICHARD IS CARRIED TO FRANCE BY THE LADY OF COUCY. — KING CHARLES IS MUCH DISPLEASED THEREAT. — THE DUKE OF BOURBON ATTEMPTS IN VAIN TO REDUCE BORDEAUX, AND OTHER TOWNS IN AQUITAINE TO THE CROWN OF FRANCE
THE lady of Coucy, on landing at Boulogne, hastened her affairs, that she might begin her journey to Paris; for there were already great murmurings in many parts of France at the events which were happening in England. Some important intelligence had been carried of them thither by merchants of Bruges, but when the lady of Coucy, who had been attached to queen Isabella, returned, the whole truth was known. This lady, on her coming to Paris, went, as was natural, to the hôtel of her lord, who had arrived the preceding night. News of it was instantly carried to the king of France, who sent directly for the lord de Coucy to come and bring him intelligence of king Richard and his queen Isabella. On his entering the king’s chamber, he asked him the state of England. The knight, not daring to conceal anything, told him the full particulars he had learnt from his wife. The king was much affected at the melancholy account he heard, for he knew the English to be determined, and hard to appease; and, although he had been for a considerable time in a good state of health, the rage he got into, on learning the events passing in England, brought back his frenzy, to the grief of his brother, uncles, and the barons of France, but they could not prevent it.
The duke of Burgundy said, — “The marriage of king Richard with Isabella was ill advised: I spoke of it when in agitation, but was not attended to. The Londoners never sincerely liked king Richard, and all this misery has been hatched by the duke of Gloucester. We must learn how the English mean to proceed, and take our measures accordingly. Since they have imprisoned their king, they will put him to death (for they never loved him, because he preferred peace to war), and crown the duke of Lancaster. He will be forced to enter into such engagements from his obligations to them, that whether he will or not, he must act as they shall please.” The duke of Burgundy added, “that it would be proper to know the inclinations of the inhabitants of Bordeaux; for king Richard, having been born there, was greatly beloved by them, as well as by those of Dax, Bayonne, and that whole country. It would not be amiss (he said) that the constable, lord Louis de Sancerre, should have notice of what was proposed, and that he should advance toward the frontiers of Aquitaine, taking with him sir Reginald d’Espagne, Barrois des Barres, and other barons and prelates, who knew how to negotiate; that his brother of Berry should go into Poitou, and hover over the borders of Saintes, Blaze and Mirabel, in order that, if those of Bordeaux should be inclined to enter into any treaty, they might be received; for we must gain them now, or never.” These propositions of the duke of Burgundy were heard attentively, and his advice followed. He understood the matter well, and what ensued proved it. The inhabitants of Bordeaux, Dax and Bayonne, were lost in astonishment when they heard that their lord, king Richard, had been arrested and was confined in the Tower of London, his principal counsellors executed, and duke Henry of Lancaster crowned king, and would not at first believe that such melancholy events had happened in England: but, 702 as the reports were confirmed daily by fresh intelligence, they were constrained to think them true. The gates of the three cities were closed, and no person whatever suffered to go out, from the sorrow they were in, more particularly those of Bordeaux, for king Richard had been educated among them. They were sincerely attached to him, and he always received them kindly when they waited on him, inclining naturally to comply with ever request they made him. On first hearing of his misfortune, they said, — “Ah, Richard, gentle king! by God, you are the most honourable man in your realm. This mischief has been brewed for you by the Londoners, who never loved you, and their dislike was still increased by your alliance with France. This misfortune is too great for us to bear. Ah, king Richard! they have acknowledged you their sovereign two-and-twenty years, and now they imprison you, and will put you to death; for, since they have crowned the duke of Lancaster king, that consequence must follow.” Such were the lamentations of the townsmen of Bordeaux, and that whole country; and they continued so long that the sénéschal of Bordeaux, a valiant and able English knight, determined to send home intelligence of these complaints in Bordeaux, Dax and Bayonne, and that they were on the point of surrendering themselves to the king of France. Having written and sealed his letters, he gave them to a trusty varlet, whom he embarked on board a vessel; and, having a favourable wind, he was landed in Cornwall, and thence pursued his journey to London, where king Henry at that time was holding his parliament. These letters were addressed generally to the king and citizens of London, and being opened and read, the king and his parliament consulted on them. The Londoners said, like men no way dismayed, — “Those of Bordeaux and Bayonne will never turn to the French: they cannot bear them nor suffer their tricks. They are free under us; but, if the French govern them, they will be taxed and taxed over again two or three times a-year. This they have not been accustomed to, and will find it hard to endure. These three cities are beside surrounded by the lands of great barons, who are and always have been loyal to England, such as the lords de Pommiers, de Mucident, de Duras, de Landuras, de Copanc, de Rosem, de Langurant, and many other barons and knights, who will instantly make war upon them: they cannot issue out of their gates without being made prisoners. Notwithstanding, therefore, what the sénéschal of Bordeaux writes to us, we do not fear they will ever turn to the French: let us however send them some man of valour and prudence, whom they esteem, and who has governed them before: and we recommend sir Thomas Percy.” What they had advised was done, and sir Thomas Percy was entreated by the king and citizens to undertake the voyage and the government of that country. Sir Thomas could not refuse, and made his preparations.
It was now about Christmas, when the winds are high, and the sea rough: he made, therefore, his purveyances in Cornwall, at the port nearest to Bordeaux, and his equipment was two hundred men at arms and four hundred archers. Sir Thomas was accompanied by his nephew, Hugh de Hastings, Thomas Colleville, William Lisle, John de Grailly, bastard-son to the captal de Buch, William Drayton, John d’Ambreticourt, and several others. He had likewise with him Robert bishop of London*, and master Richard Rowhall. It was, however, the middle of March before they were able to embark.
Before these lords arrived at Bordeaux, the duke of Bourbon came to the city of Agen, to treat with those of Aquitaine, and made such progress that the magistrates of Bordeaux, Dax and Bayonne, were deputed to Agen. The duke received them most kindly, and was not sparing of fine words and fair promises: he gave them to understand, that if they would turn to the French, and submit themselves to the obedience of the king of France, they should have granted whatever they might ask, and that the engagements they entered into should be sealed and recorded to last for ever; that whenever they might call on France, they should be supported to the utmost of its power. He made them many other flattering promises; but they replied, they must return to their constituents, and lay before them his offers, and consider how to act. They then left Agen and the duke of Bourbon, on their return home, where, on their arrival, they related all the duke had said; but his offers came to nothing, for the inhabitants of these towns having considered their present situation, and that France was vexed by all sort of taxes, and every oppressive means to extort money, 703 concluded they should suffer similar vexations if they submitted themselves to the French: “It will be, therefore, better for us,” they said, “to remain steady to the English, who hold us rank and free. If the Londoners have deposed king Richard, and crowned king Henry, what is that to us? We have still a king; and we understand the bishop of London and sir Thomas Percy are on their way hither, who will fully inform us of the truth. We have more commerce with the English than the French, in wool, wines and cloth, and they are naturally more inclined to us. Let us, therefore, be cautious how we enter into any treaties of which we may hereafter repent.”
Thus were the negotiations of Bordeaux, Dax and Bayonne, with the French, broken off. Sir Thomas Percy and the bishop of London arrived safe in the harbour of Bordeaux with their charge of men at arms and archers, to the great joy of some, and grief of others, who were of the party of the king of France. These English lords lodged all together at the abbey of Saint Andrew, and when they thought it was time, they remonstrated with the commonalty of Bordeaux on the sate of England, and the cause of their coming, with such success as they were contented with: Dax and Bayonne were also satisfied. These cities and their dependencies remained steady to the English interest, and hard would it have been to have turned them to the French.
* Robert Braybrook, dean of Sarum and lord chancellor.
CHAPTER CXVIII. — THE COUNCIL OF FRANCE, BY PERMISSION OF KING HENRY, SEND OVER PERSONS TO VISIT ISABELLA, QUEEN TO RICHARD II.
THE council of France, perceiving the king so greatly affected at what had befallen his son-in-law, king Richard, determined to send to England some lord of high rank to see and inquire into the situation of queen Isabella. The lord Charles d’Albreth and Charles de Hangiers were nominated on this embassy, and made their preparations accordingly. On leaving Paris, they rode to Boulogne, where they remained and sent a herald to inform king Henry of their intention of coming to England; for, although there was a truce between the two kingdoms, they would not venture thither without his assurance of safety. King Henry, who had not forgotten the kindness of the king of France when in exile, mentioned the matter to his council; and the herald was told, that it was very agreeable to the king and council that his lords and their company should come to England, and by the direct road to London, not quitting it without license. The French herald returned to tell his lords at Boulogne what he had obtained. They were pleased with the answer, since they could not obtain more. They immediately embarked themselves and horses in two vessels, and, putting to sea, arrived at Dover. On disembarking and entering the town, they were met by one of the king’s knights, who had been ordered thither to receive them. Having known him, when he accompanied the king in his banishment to Paris, they were all soon well acquainted. The lord Charles d’Albreth and the lord de Hangiers were handsomely lodged in Dover, where they staid until their horses were landed. They continued their journey through Canterbury to Eltham, and wherever they stopped all their expenses were paid by the king. The king and his council were at Eltham, and they were splendidly entertained in compliment to the king of France, to whom king Henry felt himself under obligations.
The lord d’Albreth explained to the king the cause of his coming, who replied, “You will go to London, and within four days I will consult my council, and you shall have an answer to your demands.” This satisfied them. They dined with the king, and, when it was over, remounted their horses and rode to London, attended by the knight, who lodged them conveniently in London, and never quitted them. The king of England came, as he had said, to his palace of Westminster, and the French lords were told of it, and to hold themselves in readiness to attend him, for they would be summoned. The king, having his council with him, and being prepared what answer to make, the French lords were introduced. They said, they had been sent by the king and queen of France to see the young queen of England their daughter. The king answered, — “Gentlemen, we no way wish to prevent you seeing her; but you must promise, on your oaths, that neither yourselves, 704 nor any of your company, speak to her on what has lately passed in England, nor about Richard of Bordeaux. Should you do otherwise, you will greatly offend us and the country, and put yourselves in peril of your lives.”
The two knights replied, they would not infringe this regulation: all they wanted was to see and converse with her, and then they would set out on their return. Not long after this, the earl of Northumberland carried them to Havering-at-the-Bower, where the young queen resided. She was attended by the duchess of Ireland, daughter to the lord de Coucy, the duchess of Gloucester, her two daughters, and other ladies and damsels, as companions. The earl introduced the two knights to the queen, who conversed some time with them, asking questions after her parents, the king and queen of France. They kept the promise they had made, by never mentioning the name of king Richard; and, when they had been with her a sufficient time, took leave and returned to London. They made no long stay there, but, having packed up their things, and had their expenses paid by the king’s officers, they rode to Eltham, and dined with the king, who presented them with some rich jewels. On taking leave, the king parted with them amicably, and said, — “Tell those who have sent you, that the queen shall never suffer the smallest harm or any disturbance, but keep up a state and dignity becoming her birth and rank, and enjoy all her rights; for, young as she is, she ought not as yet to be made acquainted with the changes in this world.” The knights were very happy to hear the king speak thus, and then departed. They lay that night at Dartford, on the morrow at Ospringe, the next at Canterbury, and then at Dover, the king’s officers paying every expense of their journey. Having embarked with a favourable wind, they were landed at Boulogne, and thence proceeded to the king and queen at Paris, to whom they related what you have read.
We will now leave them, and speak of the affairs of England.
CHAPTER CXIX. — THE EARLS OF HUNTINGDON AND SALISBURY, AND SOME OTHERS, HAVING FAILED TO MURDER TREACHEROUSLY KING HENRY OF LANCASTER, RISE IN ARMS AGAINST HIM. — THEY ARE DEFEATED AND BEHEADED, AND THEIR HEADS SENT TO THE KING.
IT was much disputed among the nobles, and in the principal towns, whether Richard of Bordeaux was put to death, and nothing more was said about him, which was but what he deserved. King Henry declared, that in regard to the charges made against him he much pitied him, and would never consent to his death; that the prison wherein he was confined was sufficient punishment; and that he had engaged his word no other harm should be done him, which promise he was resolved to keep. The enemies of king Richard replied, — “Sire, we see plainly that compassion alone moves you thus to say and act, but, in so doing, you are running great risks; for, so long as he shall be alive, notwithstanding the outward good-humour and sincerity with which he resigned to you his crown, and that in general you have been acknowledged as king, and received the homage of all, there must remain many attached to him, who still preserve their affection, and will instantly rise against you whenever they perceive any hopes of delivering him from prison. The king of France also, whose daughter he married, is so exasperated at the late events, that he would willingly retaliate the first opportunity; and his power is great of itself, and must be increased by his connexions in England.” King Henry answered, — “Until I shall observe anything contrary to the present state of affairs, or that the king of France or other persons act against me, I will not change my resolution, but firmly keep the promise I have made.” This was the answer of king Henry, for which he narrowly escaped suffering, as you shall presently hear.
The earl of Huntingdon, brother to king Richard, though married to the sister of king Henry, could not forget his treatment of the late king, any more than the earl of Salisbury. They had a secret meeting near to Oxford, on the means to deliver Richard of Bordeaux from the Tower of London, destroy king Henry, and throw the country into confusion. They resolved to proclaim a tournament to be holden at Oxford, of twenty knights and squires, and invite the king to witness it privately. During the time the king was sitting 705 at dinner they were to slay him (for they were to be provided with a sufficiency of men at arms for their purpose), and to dress out in the royal robes a priest called Magdalen, who had been of king Richard’s chapel, and like him in countenance, and make the people to understand that he was delivered from prison, and had resumed his state. They were, instantly after the business was completed, to send information of it to the king of France, that he might send them large succours, under the command of the count de Saint Pol or any others.
They executed this plan, and proclaimed a grand tournament to be holden by twenty knights and as many squires at Oxford, who were to be accompanied by many ladies and damsels. They had gained to their party the young earl of Kent, nephew to the earl of Huntingdon, and the lord de Spencer, one of the most powerful barons in England. They expected the aid of the earl of Rutland, because king Henry had deprived him of the constableship, but he failed them, and some say that by him their plot was discovered. When all things had been settled for this feast, the earl of Huntingdon came to Windsor, where the king held his state, and with much flattering, like one who, by soft words, thought to deceive, invited, with many marks of affection, the king to be present at it. Not supposing any treason was intended, he readily complied: and the earl of Huntingdon, much rejoiced, thanked and left the king. On going away, he said to the canon de Robersac*, “Get thyself ready for our feast, and I promise thee if thou come, and we meet in the lists, there shall be a sharp conflict between us.” Sir John de Robersac replied, “By my faith, my lord, if the king come to your feast, it is necessary that I accompany him.” Upon this the earl shook him by the hand, and said, “Many thanks,” and passed on. Several knights and squires, hearing of this tournament, made preparations to attend it, and all the armourers in London were fully employed. The king’s ministers were attentive to every circumstance that was agitated, and they told him, “Sire, you have no business to go to this tournament, and must not think of it, for we have heard whispers of plots that are very displeasing to us, and in a few days we shall learn the whole.” The king believed what they had said, and did not go to the tournament, nor any of his knights, and indeed very few of those who were marked for death.
When the earls of Salisbury, Huntingdon, Kent, and he lord de Spencer, found they had failed in their scheme of seizing he king, they held a council, and said, — “We must go to Windsor and raise the country. We will dress Magdalen in royal robes, and make him ride with us, proclaiming that king Richard has escaped from prison. All who see him will believe it true, and the report will gain such credit that we shall destroy our enemies.” This they executed, by collecting their whole party, amounting in all to about five hundred men, and, placing Magdalen in the centre, dressed in royal state, they rode towards Windsor, where King Henry kept his court. God was very kind to the king, for he had early intelligence that the earls of Huntingdon, Salisbury, the young earl of Kent, and the lord de Spencer, were advancing toward Windsor, to seize and murder him; that they were in sufficient force to take thee castle, and had with them Magdalen, one of the priests of the chapel royal to Richard of Bordeaux, dressed up as the late king; and that they gave it out everywhere that king Richard had escaped from prison. Many of the country people believe it, saying, — “We have seen him,” mistaking him for the king.
Those who brought the intelligence said to king Henry, — “Sire, depart hence instantly, and ride to London, for they will be here in a short time.” He followed this counsel, and, mounting his horse, set off with his attendants from Windsor, taking the road to London. He had not been long departed, before those who intended to put him to death came to Windsor, and entered the castle gate, for there were none to oppose them. They searched the apartments of the castle, and the houses of the canons, in hopes of finding the king, but were disappointed. On their failure, they were much enrage, and rode away to Colnbrook, where they lay, and forced many to join them by fair or foul means, saying that king Richard was in their company, which some believed, but others not. King Henry, doubtful of the consequences of this conspiracy, hastened to London, and, by a roundabout road, entered the Tower. Some sharp words passed between him and Richard of Bordeaux: he told him, — “I 706 saved your life, and had great difficulty in doing it; and, in return, you want to have me murdered by your brother, and my brother-in-law, and by the earls of Salisbury and Kent, your nephew, with the lord de Spencer, but, if you have had any hand in this plot, it shall end badly for you.” Richard denied any knowledge of it, saying, — “As God may help me, and have compassion on my soul, I never before heard one word of this plot. I never looked for any change in my situation, for I am perfectly contented with my present state.” Nothing more passed. The king sent for the mayor of London and his particular friends, to whom he related everything he knew or had heard of this conspiracy. They were greatly surprised on hearing it, and said, — “Sire, you must summon your forces, and march instantly against them, before they increase more in numbers. We have made you king, and king you shall be, in spite of all that envy and discontent may do against you.” The king lost no time in employing clerks and messengers to write and carry letters to the knights of his realm. He wrote himself to his constable, the earl of Northumberland, to his marshal, the earl of Westmoreland, and to other great barons in Essex and Lincoln, from whom he expected assistance. All who received them made haste to join the king.
The earls of Huntingdon and Salisbury, and their party, determined to march to London, for they imagined there must be some of the citizens attached to king Richard, who would give them support. In consequence, they left Colnbrook, and advanced to Brentford, seven miles from London, where they lay. Not one of the Londoners joined them, but shut themselves up in their town. When they saw this, they marched away towards Saint Albans, a large town, and staid there one day. On the morrow, they went to Berkhampstead. They continued marching through different parts, publishing everywhere that Magdalen was king Richard, and came to a strong town called Soncestre†, which had a bailiff attached to king Henry for the guard of the town and defence of the adjacent parts. The three earls and lord de Spencer took up their lodgings in Cirencester, and were that night left quiet, for the bailiff, being a valiant and prudent man, did not think he was strong enough to combat them, and dissembled his thoughts as well as he could.
The next morning the earl of Salisbury and lord de Spencer left the earl of Huntingdon and his nephew, saying they would advance farther into the country to gain friends, and would visit the lord of Berkeley. They rode down Severn side, but were badly advised thus to separate, for both parties were weakened by it. The earl of Huntingdon remained in Cirencester, and attempted to tamper with the bailiff and townsmen. He told them that the Londoners had delivered king Richard out of prison, and within two days he would be there. The bailiff, having collected a large force, said that not one word was true; for that he had just heard the contrary from king Henry and the citizens of London to assure him of the truth, and that he should act conformably to the orders he had received. The earl of Huntingdon, hearing this, changed colour from disappointment. Fining he could not gain his end, he returned to his lodgings, armed himself, and made his men do the same, determining to conquer these ale-drinkers by force, and set fire to their town as an example, and to terrify the country. The bailiff was not idle in collecting all the men he could: they amounted, archers and all, to two thousand men, which he drew up in the market-place, when the force of the earls of Huntingdon and Kent were not three hundred. Notwithstanding this inequality, they made ready to begin the battle, and the archers attacked each other, so that several were wounded. The bailiff and his men, who were very numerous, charged the rebels vigorously, without sparing any one, for he had the king’s special orders to take the leaders, dead or alive. The earl’s party were forced to retire within their lodgings; and the house wherein the two earls were, the bailiff’s men surrounded and conquered.
Many were killed, and more wounded. The earl of Huntingdon defended himself gallantly, like a valiant man at arms as he was; but the numbers against him were too great to withstand; and he was slain fighting, as was the young earl of Kent, who was much lamented by several knights in England and other countries. He was young and handsome, and had very unwillingly taken part in this conspiracy; but his uncle and the earl of Salisbury had forced him into it. The men of Cirencester, who were wroth against them, cut off their heads, and sent them in two panniers, as fish is carried, by a varlet on horseback, 707 to rejoice the king and the Londoners. A similar fate befel the earl of Salisbury and lord de Spencer: they were made prisoners by the knights and squires the king had sent against them, who had them beheaded, and sent their heads to London. Great numbers of their partisans, and knights and squires who had accompanied them, were executed, after which the country remained in peace.
The king of France, his brother, uncles, and council, learning that during Easter of the year 1400, the English had sent men at arms and archers to Calais, Guisnes, and the neighbouring castles, and were providing these places with many stores, issued a summons for all knights and squires to prepare themselves to march whithersoever they might be ordered, and specially provided for the frontier of Boulogne and the sea-shore.
* In the MSS. he is called Robessart and Robertsart.
† “Soncestre,” — Cirencester, pronounced Ciçeter.
CHAPTER CXX. — ON THE DEATH OF JOHN OF MONTFORT, DUKE OF BRITTANY, THE BRETONS UNDERTAKE THE WARDSHIP OF THE YOUNG DUKE, AND TO BE FRIENDLY TO FRANCE. — THE FRENCH KING, DISTRUSTING THE SENTIMENTS OF THE NEW REIGN IN ENGLAND, MAKES PROVISION AGAINST ANY SUDDEN CHANGE.
AT this period, John duke of Brittany departed this life, leaving issue two sons and a daughter. The eldest son had been betrothed to the second daughter of the king of France: he could not have the eldest, as she was married to the king of England, as has been related. She had indeed been promised him, and treaties entered into on the subject at Tours in Touraine; but the king was advised to break it off, to marry her more nobly and richly in England. Many of the French lords, however, said, that it would never turn out well thus to break through solemn engagements. On the death of the duke of Brittany, it was determined in the council, that the duke of Orleans should advance to the borders of Brittany with a body of men at arms, to confer with the nobles and chiefs of the principal towns of the duchy, to learn their intentions respecting the young duke, and to demand he should be delivered up to him to carry to the court of France.
The duke of Orleans, inconsequence of this resolution, summoned a considerable number of men at arms, and marched them to Pontorson, where he halted, and signified his arrival to the barons of Brittany. The prelates, nobles, and chief magistrates of the great towns, were prepared with an answer, and replied they would be guardians to their young duke [and educate him in their own country until he should be of a proper age; that then they would bring him to France, that he might do his homage to the king, as was his duty; that, for the due performance of this, they were willing to enter into bonds, subjecting themselves to the loss of their lands should they break the engagement.] The duke of Orleans, finding that he could not gain more, took an obligation from the principal barons, who had their duke in ward, to deliver him up to the king of France when he should be of a proper age. These obligations being written and sealed, the duke of Orleans had them in charge, and, taking leave of the barons, departed from Pontorson, on his return to Paris, and related to the king, his brother, all that had passed.
It was known in England, that the French, by their king’s command, had strongly reinforced, and re-victualled all the towns, castles, and forts in Picardy, and on the borders of the Boulonois, and had closed the river Somme, so that no merchandise nor corn could come to England, nor pass Abbeville. The merchants of the two countries, who were used freely to visit each, were now afraid of doing so; and those on the borders of Calais and Guisnes were ruined, although there were not any hostilities commenced, for orders to that effect had not been given. The king of England was advised by his council to be on his guard; for the French, they said, were making great preparations of ships at Harfleur, and plainly showed they were inclined for war. The count de Saint Pol and the lord Charles d’Albreth were appointed commanders; and it was to be supposed, that if the earls of Huntingdon and Salisbury were alive, they would have crossed the sea, for they had many connexions in England. They added, “Sire, so long as Richard of Bordeaux lives, the country will never have peace.” “I believe what you say may be true,” replied the king; 708 “but, with regard to me, I will never put him to death. I have given him my word, that no bodily harm shall befal him; and I will keep my promise, until it shall appear that he enters into any plots against me.” “Sire,” answered the knights, “his death would be more to your advantage than his life: for, so long as the French know he is alive, they will exert themselves to make war against you, in the hope of replacing him on the throne, on account of his having married the daughter of their king.” The king of England made no reply, but, leaving them in conversation, went to his falconers, and, placing a falcon on his wrist, forgot all in feeding him.
CHAPTER CXXI. — THE DEATH OF KING RICHARD. — THE TRUCES ARE RENEWED AND KEPT BETWEEN FRANCE AND ENGLAND. — THE EARL MARSHALL, WHO HAD BEEN BANISHED ENGLAND, DIES AT VENICE.
IT was not long after this that a true report was current in London of the death of Richard of Bordeaux. I could not learn the particulars of it, nor how it happened, the day I wrote these chronicles*. Richard of Bordeaux, when dead, was placed on a litter covered with black, and a canopy of the same. Four black horses were harnessed to it, and two varlets in mourning conducted the litter, followed by four knights dressed also in mourning. Thus they left the Tower of London, where he had died, and paraded the streets at a foot’s pace until they came to Cheapside, which is the greatest thoroughfare in the city, and there they halted for upwards of two hours. More than twenty thousand persons, of both sexes, came to see the king, who lay in the litter, his head on a black cushion, and his face uncovered.
Some pitied him, when they saw him in this state, but others did not, saying he had for a long time deserved death. Now consider, ye kings, lords, dukes, prelates, and earls, how very changeable the fortunes of this world are. This king Richard reigned twenty-two years in great prosperity, and with much splendour; for there never was a king of England who expended such sums, by more than one hundred thousand florins, as king Richard did in keeping up his state, and his household establishments. I, John Froissart, canon and treasurer of Chimay, know it well, for I witnessed and examined it, during my residence 709 with him, for a quarter of a year. He made me good cheer, because in my youth I had been secretary to king Edward his grandfather, and the lady Philippa of Hainault, queen of England. When I took my leave of him at Windsor, he presented me, by one of his knights called sir John Golofre, a silver gilt goblet, weighing full two marcs, filled with one hundred nobles, which were then of service to me, and will be so as long as I live. I am bound to pray to God for him, and sorry am I to write of his death; but, as I have dictated and augmented this history to the utmost of my power, it became necessary to mention it, that what became of him might be known.
I saw two strange things in my time, though widely different. I was sitting at dinner in the city of Bordeaux when king Richard was born: it was on a Wednesday, on the point of ten o’clock. At that hour sir Richard de Pontchardon, then marshal of Aquitaine, came to me and said, — “Froissart, write, that it may be remembered, my lady the princess is brought to bed of a fine son: he is born on Twelfth-day, the son of a king’s son, and shall be king himself.” The gallant knight foretold the truth, for he was king of England twenty-two years; but he did not foresee what was to be the conclusion of his life. When king Richard was born, his father was in Galicia, which don Pedro had given him to conquer: a curious thing happened, on my first going to England, which I have much thought on since. I was in the service of queen Philippa, and, when she accompanied king Edward and the royal family, to take leave of the prince and princess of Wales, at Berkhampstead, on their departure for Aquitaine, I heard an ancient knight, in conversation with some ladies, say, — “We have a book called Brut†, that declares neither the prince of Wales, dukes of Clarence, York, nor Gloucester will be kings of England, but the descendants of the duke of Lancaster.” Now I, the author of this history, say that, considering all things, these two knights sir Richard de Pontchardon, and sir Bartholomew Burghersh, in what they said were both in the right, for all the world saw Richard reign for twenty-two years in England, and saw the crown then fall to the house of Lancaster. King Henry would never have been king, on the conditions you have heard, if his cousin, Richard, had treated him in the friendly manner he ought to have done. The Londoners took his part for the wrongs the king had done him and his children, whom they much compassionated.
When the funeral car of king Richard had remained in Cheapside two hours, it was conducted forward, in the same order as before, out of the town. The four knights then mounted their horses, which were waiting for them, and continued their journey with the body until they came to a village, where there is a royal mansion, called Langley, thirty miles from London. There king Richard was interred: God pardon his sins, and have mercy on his soul!
News was spread abroad that king Richard was dead. This had been expected some time; for it was well known he would never come out of the Tower alive. His death was concealed from his queen, as orders had been given for that purpose, which were prudently obeyed for a considerable time. All these transactions were perfectly well known in France; and such knights and squires as wished for war, looked every moment for orders to attack the frontiers. The councils, however, of both kingdoms, thought it would be for the advantage of the two countries, that the truces should be renewed, and for this end different negotiators went to the neighbourhood of Calais. The king of France was not in good health, nor ever had been since he hear of the misfortunes of his son-in-law, Richard; and his disorder was greatly increased when he was told of his death.
The duke of Burgundy took the chief government of the realm: he came to Saint Omer and Bourbourg, where were the duke of Bourbon, the lord Charles d’Albreth, sir Charles de Hangiers, sir John de Châteaumorant, and such prelates as the patriarch of Jerusalem, the bishops of Paris and Beauvais. On the part of England were the earls of Northumberland, Rutland and Devonshire, Sir Henry Percy, son to the earl of Northumberland, sir Even Fitzwarren, and the bishops of Winchester and Ely. The French proposed having the queen of England delivered to them, but the English would not listen to it, saying they would gladly have her reside in England on her dower, and that if she had lost her husband, they would provide her another, who should be young and handsome, and whom she would love. 710 Richard of Bordeaux was too old for her, and the person they should offer was suitable in every respect, being no other than the Prince of Wales, eldest son to king Henry. The French could not agree to this, for they dared not come to any final conclusion in this matter without the consent of the king her father. He was now in a very bad state, and much weakened in his constitution, for there had not been found any physician who could conquer his disorder. The treaty was therefore laid aside, and the subject of the truce canvassed. It was so well conducted, that it was resolved to continue it to the original term of thirty years, four of which were already gone, and it was now to last for twenty-six years. This was put into writing, and signed and sealed by those who had full powers so to do from the two kings. When this was done, they separated, and each party returned home.
I have not mentioned what became of the earl marshal, by whom all these late misfortunes originated, but I will now tell you. He was residing in Venice when he first heard that Henry of Lancaster was king of England, and king Richard died, and took this news so grievously to heart that he fell sick, and was put to bed, became frantic, and died. Such were the misfortunes that befell the greatest lords in England.
* It is not to this day, certain whether he died by voluntary or compulsory starvation, or was murdered by Piers Exton. — ED.
† The romance of Brut by Robert Wall. — ED.
CHAPTER CXXII. — FRANCE PRESERVES A NEUTRALITY BETWEEN THE POPES OF ROME AND AVIGNON. — THE ELECTION OF THE EMPEROR ROBERT.
IN the year of grace 1399, pope Benedict, whom the French had formerly supported, was deposed, as well likewise the emperor of Germany* for his wicked deeds. The electors of the empire, and all the great barons of Germany rose against him, and sent him to Bohemia, of which country he was king. They elected emperor in his stead a valiant and prudent man, called Robert, duke of Heidelberg, who came to Cologne, and was there crowned with the crown of Germany; for those of Aix would not admit him within their town, nor the duke of Gueldres submit himself to his obedience, which angered him much. The new emperor promised to restore union to the church. In the mean time, the king of France negotiated with the Liege men, who were determined for the Roman pope, and managed so well, through sir Baldwin de Mont-jardin (who governed in part the bishopric of Liege, and was a knight of the king’s chamber), that the whole country complied with the desire of the French king, and became neuter.
The Liege men sent orders to those of their clergy who were at Rome, that if they did not return home by a fixed day, they should be deprived of their benefices. On hearing this, they all came back to Liege; and pope Boniface, who lost much by this order, sent a legate to Germany to preach to the Liege men, and endeavour to make them return to their former creed. The legate dared not advance farther than Cologne, but sent his instructions and letters to Liege. They read them and told the messenger, — “Do not return hither again on the business thou art now come upon, unless thou shalt wish to be drowned; for as many messengers as shall be sent us, so many will we throw into the Meuse.”
* Wenceslaus. — ED.