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themselves and their posterity. The barons, animated by his elo quence, formed a general confederacy, to which there were few in the kingdom who did not accede; and agreed before the high altar, that, at Christmas, they would present their petition to the king in a body.* They then separated, after mutually promising to enlist men, to purchase arms, and to supply their castles with necessary stores and provisions.

Spencer, p. 116. MAGNA CHARTA. Having presented a petition the king, the barons the approach of the Easter festival, at Stamford, where they expected to receive his answer; their force consisted of 2000 knights, besides their retainers and inferior persons without number Elated with their power, they advanced in a body to Brackley, within fifteen miles of Oxford, the place where the court then resided ; and they then received a message from the king, desiring to know what those privileges were which they so boldly chala lenged from their sovereign. They delivered to the messengers a schedule containing the chief articles of their demands; which was no sooner shown to the king, than he burstinto a furious passion, and asked why the barons did not also demand of him his kingdom; swearing, by God's teeth, he would never grant them such liberties as must reduce himself to slavery

No sooner were they informed of his reply, than they chose Robert Fitzwalter general, whom they called the mareschal of the army of God and of holy church; and proceeded without further ceremony to levy war against the king. They laid waste his parks and palaces, and issued a proclamation, threatening to lay waste the houses and estates of those barons who still in appearance remained attached to the royal party. The king was left at Odiham, in Hampshire, with a retinue of only seven knights, and after trying various expedients to elude the blow, offering to refer all differences to the pope, or to eight barons, mutually chosen, was at length compelled to submit at discretion.

A conference was appointed at Runnemede, between Windsor and Staines; a place justly celebrated on account of this great event. The two parties encamped apart, like open enemies; and after a debate of a few days, the king signed and sealed the charter which was required of him. This famous deed, known by the name of Magna Charta, or the Great Charter, is considered the foundation of English liberties. It was signed on the 15th of June, 1215; and granted or secured important privileges to every order of men in the kingdom ; to the clergy, the barons, and the people.

Besides the immunities to the barons and clergy, this celebrated charter ordained that all freemen should be allowed to go out of

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* The barons, advancing in the order of their seniority, one by one laid their hands on the high altar, and swore if the king refused the rights they demanded, they would withdraw their fealty, and make war upon him until he should yield.

Old England, vol. ., p. 182

the kingdom and return to it at pleasure; that one weight and one measure should be established throughout the kingdom; that the courts of justice were to be stationary, and no longer follow the king's person. Circuits were to be held regularly every year; and justice was no longer to be sold, refused, or delayed. Merchants shall be allowed to transact all business without being exposed to tolls and impositions. No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or dispossessed of his free tenement or liberties, or outlawed, or banished, or any wise hurt or injured, unless by the legal judgment of his peers, or the law of the land. Lastly, there was a stipulation in favour of the villains, or peasantry; the most numerous class probably in the kingdom, and which hitherto had been con. sidered unworthy of notice. It was ordained that they should not be deprived, by any fine, of their carts, ploughs, and implements of industry. Such is a brief outline of the barons' wars, and the GREAT CHARTER. *

Kings of England, p. 40. JOHN'S BARBARITY AND VENALITY. The instances of John'e cruelty and rapacity are innumerable. Among them may be cited the cold blooded murders of his nephew, and Peter the hermit, of Pomfret. This man foretold that in a year hence he would lose his crown; the prediction was apparently fulfilled by the resignation to the pope ; but this did not satisfy John, and he ordered the unfortunate soothsayer to be dragged at horses tails to the town of Warham, and there hanged on a gibbet with his son. The Jews were an unceasing object of persecution and cruelty about this period. John imposed a fine of 10,000 marks upon one of them, which he refused to pay; he ordered that one of his teeth should be drawn every day till he consented. Accordingly, seven teeth were pulled out in as many days, but on the eight the Israelite relented; so with the loss of seven teeth parted with 10,000 marks, in order to preserve the rest. So savagely cruel and destructive was the nature of the royal felon that his principal amusement in his progresses through the country was, every morning, to fire with his own hand the house in which he had rested the preceding night.

Justice was avowedly bought and sold. Even the king's court was open to none that brought not presents, or, more correctly; bribes; which were entered in the public registers of the royal revenue, where they still remain perpetual monuments of the iniquity and tyranny of the times. Hume, from “ Maddox's History of the Exchequer," has cited some curious instances of the sums paid for the expediting, delaying, suspending, and doubtless perverting justice. The barons of the exchequer, for instance, insert as an article in their records, that the county of Norfolk paid a sum that they might be fairly dealt with; the borough of Yar. mouth, that the king's charters, which they had for their liberties, might not be violated. Sometimes a party offered the king a certain portion, a half, a third, or a fourth, payable out of certain debts he might assist them to recover. Theophania de Westlanda agreed to pay the half of 212 marks, that she might recover that bum against James de Fugleston. Solomon, the Jew, agreed to pay one mark out of every seven that he should recover against Hugh de la Hose.

* This interesting document is now in the British Museum ; copies were sent after its signature to each county, or at least to each diocese, in England; but of these only three are now known to exist. Two are in the Museum, having forined part of the collectiou of Sir Robert ('otton, hy whom one of them is said to have boen recovered from the hands of a tailor, when he was in the act of proceeding to cut down the parchment for measures for liis customers. The third copy is in the Ubrary of the Cathedral of Salisbury.

Penny Magazine, 1833, p. 230.

Freedom of industry, commerce, husbands and wives were, in like manner, bought from the royal chapman. Hugh Osiel paid 400 marks for liberty to trade in England. The men of Worcester paid 100 shillings that they might have the liberty of selling and buying dyed cloth as formerly. Geoffrey Fitz-Pierre gave two good Norway hawks for leave to export a hundred weight of cheese out of the king's dominions. The Archdeacon of Wells gave one tun of wine for leave to carry 600 seams of corn whither he would. Peter Parois gave twenty marks for leave to salt fishes, as Peter Chevalier used to do. Richard de Neville gave twenty palfreys : to obtain the king's request to Isulda Bisset, that she should take him for a husband. Roger Fitzwalter gave three good palfreys to have the king's letter to Roger Bertram's mother that she should marry him. The Bishop of Winchester gave one tun of good wine": for his not putting the king in mind to give a girdle to the Countess of Albermarle. Robert de Veaux gave five of the best palfreys that the king would hold his tongue about Henry Pinel's wife. Several more instances might be mentioned, but these will be sufficient to illustrate the manners of the times, and show the sort of commerce carried on betwixt the king and his subjects, and among : the subjects themselves.

Rings of Eng and, p. 43.

DEATH OF JOHN. The king was assembling a considerable army with a view of fighting one great battle for his crown, but passing from Lynne to Lincolnshire, his road lay along the sea shore, which was overflowed at high-water, and not choosing the proper time for his journey, he lost in the inundation all his carriages, treasure, baggage, and regalia. The affliction for this disaster, and vexation for the distracted state of his affairs, increased the sickness under which he then laboured ; and though he reached the castle of Newark he. was obliged to halt there, and his distemper soon after put an end to his life.

Humne, vol. ii., 1. 97. Ilis boly was carried to Worcester, according to his own order, and buried with little funeral pomp, in the cathedral, between the : Bishops St. Oswald and St. Dunstan, where his tomb, with his image upon it, is still to be seen. Some will have it that he was poisoned by a monk at Swines-hcad Abbey (where he rested on

the night he lost his treasures by the waters), but it is very impro. bable, since it is not mentioned by any contemporary historians.

Rupin, vol. i., p. 279. PERSON AND CHARACTER. In stature he was above the middle size; of a good shape, and an agreeable countenance. He was a bad man, and, if possible, a worse king,

Spencer, p. 123. He stands before us polluted with meanness, cruelty, perjury, and murder, uniting with an ambition which rushed through every crime to the attainment of its object, a pusillanimity which, often at the sole appearance of opposition, sank into despondency. Arrogant in prosperity, abject in adversity, he neither conciliated affection in the one, not excited esteem in the other. His dissimulation was so well known that it seldom deceived; his habit of* suspicion served to multiply his enemies; and the knowledge of his vindictive temper contributed to keep open the breach between him and those who had incurred his displeasure. Seldom, perhaps, was there a prince more callous to the suggestions of pity.

Lingard, vol. iii., p. 70.

CHRONICLE. 1204. Rouen, the capital of Normandy, with the whole of the duchy, conquered by the French, after having been three hundred years separated from the crown of France. The right of electing the Lord Mayor annually was given by charter to the City of London ; it had also the power to remove its sheriffs at pleasure, and its common councilmen annually. John was the first King of England who coined sterling money, and gave the Cinque Ports their privileges. Christians were prohibited from lending money at interest, which was called usury, and those who were convicted of it were punished by excommunication and the forfeiture of all their goods; by these impolitic laws, the lending of money became a: monopoly in the hands of the Jews, who realised exhorbitant profits; this was one cause of their unpopularity.

REIGN OF HENRY III.

FROM 1216 to 1272-56 YEARS 1 MONTH.

CORONATION OF ELEANOR OF PROVENCE. All contemporary chronicles, indeed, whether in halting English rhymes or sonorous Latin prose-to say nothing of the panegy. rical strains of her countrymen, the Provençal poets-are agreed in representing this princess as well deserving the surname of “ La Belle.'' King Henry conducted his youthful consort to London in great pride, attended by a splendid train of nobility and ecclesiastics, who had accompanied the sovereign to Canter

bury, in order to assist at his nuptials, which took place on the 4th January, 1236, Eleanor having scarcely completed her 14th year. Preparations of the most extraordinary magnificence were made for the approaching coronation of the newly-wedded queen, which was appointed to take place on the feast of St. Fabian and St. Sebastian, six days only after the bridal, being the 20th of January. Previous to the august ceremony Henry had caused great improvements to be made in the palace of Westminster, for the reception of his young consort ;* and the loyal citizens prepared all sorts of costly pageantry, before unheard of, to grace the coronation festival. Eleanor was just at the happy age for enjoying the spectacle of all the gay succession of brave shows and dainty devices, so elegantly detailed by Matthew Paris, who, after describing “streets hung with different-coloured silks, garlands, and banners, and with lamps, cressets, and other lights at night, concludes by saying, “But why need I recount the train of those who performed the offices of the church? Why describe the profusion of dishes which furnished the table, the abundance of venison, the variety of fish, the diversity of wine, the gaiety of the jugglers, the comeliness of the attendants ? Whatever the world could produce for glory or delight was there conspicuous.'

The most remarkable feature in the coronation of Eleanor of Provence must have been the equestrian procession of the citizens of London, who, on that occasion, claimed the office of cellarers to the King of England. The claim of his loyal citizens having been wisely granted, they ventrously mounted swift horses, and rode forth to accompany the king and queen from tie Tower, clothed in long garments, embroidered with gold and silk of divers colours; they amounted to the number of three hundred and sixty. Their steeds were finely trapped in array, with shining bits and new saddles, each citizen bearing a gold or silver cup in his hand for the royal use, the king's trumpeters sounding before them; and so rode they in at the royal banquet, and served the king and that noble company with wine, according to their duty. The mayor of London, Andrew Buckerel, the pepperer, headed this splendid civic cavalcade, and claimed the place of master Michael Belot, the deputy of Albini, Earl of Arundel, the grand boteler or princerna of England ; but he was repulsed by order of the king, who said, “No one ought by right to perform that service but Master Michael.” The mayor submitted to the royal decision in this matter of high ceremonial, and served the two bishops at the king's right hand. After the banquet the earlboteler received the cup out of which the king had drunk as a matter of right; and Master Michael, his deputy, received the

* There is a precept, in the twentieth year of his reign, directing that the king's great chamber at Westminster be painted a good green colour, like a curtain that in the great gable, or frontispicce of the said chamber, a French inscription should be painted, and that the king's little wardrobe should also be painted of a green colour, to imitate a curtain. The queen's chamber was bouutied, and adorued with historical paintings at the same time.

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