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The king escaped with his favourite, and set sail in a small boat for Ireland, but being driven back by contrary winds, he endea. voured to conceal himself in the Welsh mountains, but he was almost immediately discovered, and taken, with the younger Baldoc, the Chancellor, Sir Simon de Reading, and a few domestics, all the rest of his sycophantic courtiers having deserted him in the midst of his misfortunes. He was first taken to Monmouth Castle, and afterwards transferred to Kenilworth, to wait the orders of the queen and her council, to whom he had been forced to resign the great seal, without which no parliament could be called. Le Despenser and Simon de Reading were speedily brought to trial ; the first was hanged on a gibbet fifty feet high, and the other ten feet lower. * As for the Chancellor Baldoc, as he was in holy orders, and it was not safe to proceed against him in the same manner, he was delivered to the Bishop of Hereford, and carried to London ; but in entering the city the mob fell upon him, and terribly abusing him, threw him into Newgate, where he died of the blows he had received.
Chronicle of the Kings, p. 50. DEPOSITION OF EDWARD II. Prince Edward, urged by his generous inclinations, having solemnly refused to accept the crown (which the unanimous resolution of the parliament assembled on the 9th of January, 1327, had conferred upon him during his father's life without his express consent, commissioners were sent to the castle of Kenilworth, where the unhappy prince was confined a prisoner, to obtain the formal renunciation of his title and kingdom. On the arrival of the commissioners, the unfortunate king came out from his bedchamber in a mourning gown (" GOWNED IN BLACK,” accord
Froissart has recorded that when Queen Isabella had taken the castle of Bristol, “she ordered Sir Hugh Despenser the elder, and the Earl of Arundel to be brought before her eldest son, and the barons assembled, and said to them that she and her son would see that law and justice should be done unto them, according to their deeds.” Sir Hugh replied, “Ah, madam, God grant us an upright judge, and a just sentence, and that if we cannot have it in this world, we may find it in another!” This exccution took place in October, on St. Denis's day, 1326.
Rapin, speaking of the character of the elder Le Despenser, says, “ Nothing could be laid to his charge unbecoming a man of honour and honesty. In all the posts to which he had been promoted he had always behaved with great moderation and prudence, but a blind fondness for his son, and ambition, which seized him in his old age, made him fall into those excesses which rendered him and his son odious to the nation."
* Hugh Le Despenser was led fastened on the smallest and poorest horse that could be found, clothed in an old tabart, in the suite of the queen, through all the towns which she passed in her progress to London, his presence being announced in mockery by trumpet and cymbals. At Hereford he was tried, and condemned to be dragged on a hurdie, attended by trumpets and clarions, through all the streets of the town, and then conducted to the market-place, where all the people were assembled. At that place he was bound on a high scaffold, so that he might be more easily seen. Ilis heart (because it had been false and traitorous) was first cut out from his side, and burned in a large fire which was kindled close to him, and then his head was cut off and sent to London. Froissart, vol. 1., p. 13.
eng to De La Moor), with looks demonstrating his inward trouble. As he was acquainted with the occasion of their coming, the sight of that formidable power which had just despoiled him of royalty made such an impression upon his mind, that he fell into a swoon, from whence he could hardly recover. As soon as he came to himself the commissioners told him their message, and represented to him the ill consequences of his refusal, plainly telling him, that unless he complied with the parliament, his condition would be rendered more unfortunate, adding, his obstinacy would be a great prejudice to his family, for, if he refused to resign the crown to his son, the nation was resolved to elect a king not of the royal family. Then the unhappy prince, with a sadness which could not be seen without pity, answered “That he submitted to whatever was required of him, with the greatest resignation, as he acknowledged his sins were the sole cause of his misfortunes ;" he added, moreover, “that he could not behold without extreme grief, the aversion his people had for him; but, if his sorrow could admit of any comfort, it was from the consideration of his subjects' goodness to his son, for which he returned them thanks.” After this answer he proceeded to the ceremony of his resignation, by delivering to them the crown, sceptre, and the other ensigns of royalty. Then Sir William Trussel, addressing himself to the king, spoke in this manner, making use of a form of his own in a case where there was no precedent to follow :-1, William Trussel, procurator of the prelates, earls, barons, and people in my procuracy ramed, having for this full and sufficient power, do surrender unto you, Edward, late King of England, the homage and fealty of the persons aforesuid, and do acquit the same in the best manner the law and custom can give it, and do make this protestation, in the name of all those that will not be in your fealty or allegiance for the future, nor claim or hold anything of you as king, but account you as a privale person without any manner of royal dignity.” After these words, the High-Steward, Sir Thomas Blunt, broke his white staff (which is the ceremony performed at a king's death), and declared all the king's officers discharged from his service.
Rapin, vol. i., p. 402. ABOLITION OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS. This order had arisen during the first fervour of the Crusades, and was instituted at Jerusalem for the defence of the holy sepulchre and the protection of pilgrims. They were first called the Poor of the Holy City; afterwards they had the name of Templars, from their house being near the Temple : hence the origin of the Temple in London. Their devotion and valour, the two qualities most popular in that age, had obtained them ample possessions in every country in Europe, especially in France. In the course of time their immense wealth relaxed the severity of their virtues ; and ac
inted from per ce with the fatigues and dangers of expeditions to the East, they rather chose to enjoy in Europe their ample revenues ; and being all men of birth, educated according
to the custom of the age, without any tincture of letters, they scorned the ignoble occupation of a monastic life, and passed their time in the fashionable amusements of hunting, gallantry, and the pleasures of the table.
Philip, King of France, however, entertaining some private disgust against some eminent Templars, was the principal cause of their ruin. On no better information than that of two knights, condemned by their superiors to perpetual imprisonment for their vices and profligacy, this cruel and vindictive monarch ordered all the Templars in France to be committed to prison, imputing to them the most horrible crimes. More than a hundred of these calumniated men were put to the torture, in order to extort from them a confession of guilt. The most obstinate perished in the hands of their tormentors; several, to procure immediate ease in the violence of their agonies, acknowledged whatever was required of them; forged confessions were imputed to others; and Philip, pretending their guilt was confirmed, proceeded to confiscate their treasures. But no sooner were the Templars removed from their torments, than, preferring the most cruel execution to life with infamy, they justified the innocence of their order, and appealed to all the gallant actions performed by them in ancient or later times as a full answer to their calumniators. The barbarous tyrant, enraged at this disappointment, ordered fifty-four of them, whom he branded as relapsed heretics, to be burnt to death in his capital ; and when he found that the perseverance of these unhappy men had made deep impression on the spectators, he endeavoured to overcome their obstinacy by new cruelties. The grand master of the order, and another great officer, were conducted to the scaffold; a full pardon was offered to them on one hand, the fire destined for their execution was shown to them on the other. These brave nobles, persisting in the innocence of their order, were hurried into the flames.
In all this barbarous injustice the Pope, who was the creature of Philip, and then resided in France, concurred, and without examining a witness or making any further inquiry, abolished the order. The Templars all over Europe were thrown into prison; but though their conduct underwent a strict scrutiny, no traces of their guilt were pretended to be found. In short, they appear to have been the victims of a foul conspiracy, and their greatest crime a certain degree of luxury and licentiousness, the consequence of their prodigious wealth. Their possessions were transferred to the order of St. John of Jerusalem, whose poverty had as yet preserved them from a like corruption. At the time of the dissolution of the Templars they were possessed of 16,000 lordships, besides other lands. *
Hume, vol. ii., p. 361.
* The Knight Templars came into England in the beginning of Stephen's reign. Their principal station was in Holborn, near Southampton-buildings. For their better conveniency, in the time of Henry II., they built their house in Fleetstreet. In memory of their primitive poverty, Ilugh and Geoffrey had engraven on their seal the figure of two men on oue horse. In the course of time this was
MURDER OF EDWARD II. When the commissioners returned to London with Edward's resignation, the prince, his son, was again proclaimed, under the name of Edward III., and crowned a few days after. His father, still closely confined in Kenilworth Castle, led a melancholy life, not being suffered to take the least diversion. He wrote from time to time to his queen, entreating her to render his imprisonment more easy; but nothing was capable of moving that inexorable princess in favour of a husband whom she herself had reduced to that wretched condition, without his deserving, at least from her hands, such barbarous usage. Meantime the rigorous treatment of the unfortunate prince began to excite compassion in the breasts of the English, who are naturally generous. Henry of Lancaster himself, who had the custody of him, relented daily to such a degree, that he gave him some small hopes of recovering his liberty. Another motive, besides that of generosity, influenced the earl ; and that was the irregular conduct of the queen, and the great credit of Mortimer, whose arrogance rendered him odious to all. As he took no care to hide his sentiments, the queen and Mortimer suspected him of a design to restore the old king. The suspicion, whether well or ill grounded, produced a fatal effect, by determining them to prevent the imagined danger. To that end they resolved to take the captive king out of the hands of his keeper, whom they suspected, and entrust him with such as they could depend upon. Sir John Maltravers, and Sir Thomas Gurney, both of so brutish a temper as was requisite for the designs of those that employed them, had orders to remove Edward from Kenilworth to Berkeley Castle. It was hardly possible for the unfortunate prince to fall into worse hands. At first they carried him to Corfe, then to Bristol, and afterwards to Berkeley Castle, which last was to be his prison. In the journey they made him suffer a thousand indignities, even to the causing him to be shaved in the open field, with cold water taken from a stinking ditch, that he ght thereby be more disguised, and not known to any they should meet with ; they likewise made him ride in the night with very thin clothes, and without any covering to his head; would never suffer him to sleep; crowned him with hay, and offered him a thousand indignities. They also attempted more than once to poison him, but the goodness of his constitution rendered all their wicked purposes ineffectual. These wretches, finding their cruelties had not so speedy an effect, sent for fresh instructions, for which they were not made to wait long. They received precise orders to put the prince to death, who, though overwhelmed with misery, caused continual fears in the authors of his calamity. It is said that Adam Orleton, Bishop of Hereford, one of the queen's ministers, sent with these orders a Latin letter, wherein, by a shameful equivocation, he advised them to murder Edward, and exhorted them to refrain from such a crime. And, indeed, the words ascribed to him are capable of both these senses, according to the difference of the pointing. *
changed for a device of a field argent, charged with a cross gules, and upon the nombrel thereof a holy lamb, with its nimbus and banner. When the lawyers became Templars their device was assumed by the Society of the Inner Temple.
These orders were no sooner come, but the two keepers, knowing what they were to do, entered Edward's room to put them into execution. He being then in his bed, they laid a pillow on his face to prevent his being heard, and then with a cruelty not to be paralleled committed the fiend-like murder. In so horrible a manner, and in such torments, did the miserable prince expire, that in spite of the precautions of his murderers, his cries were heard at a considerable distance from the castle, and many a one woke and prayed God for the harmless soul that that night was departing in torture.† To conceal the execrable deed the two executioners sent for some of the inhabi. tants of Bristol and Gloucester, who examined the body, and finding no signs of violence, concluded he died a natural death ; this account, which was carefully attested by witnesses, was immediately dispersed over the whole kingdom, that it might be known unto all.
Rapin, vol. i., p. 408. PERSON AND CHARACTER. He is said to have resembled his father in the lineaments of his face, as well as the exact elegance and symmetry of his shape; having a majestic and noble stature, and a deportment altogether engaging and agreeable; but the qualifications of his mind bore no kind of proportion to his bodily perfections; for he was deficient in foresight, in judgment, and in courage. His mental debility urged him to a conduct that had all the appearance of infatuation. Being a slave to his own passions he too readily committed to others the weight of that government which he had neither the ability nor inclination to support. Spencer, p. 171.
CHRONICLE. 1316. A great famine and sickness in England for three years, parliament issued an order to limit the price of provisions as follows :-an ox for sixteen shillings; a cow twelve shillings; a hog, two years' old, three shillings and fourpence; a sheep, unshorn, one shilling and eightpence, if shorn, one shilling and twopence; a goose, twopence halfpenny; a capon, twopence; a hen, one penny; twenty-four eggs, one penny; a quarter of wheat, beans, or peas, sold for twenty shillings; and whoever did not comply with the order forfeited the provisions to the king. Edwardum occidere nolite timere, Edward to kill fear not, the deed is good.
bonum est. Edwardum occidere nolite, timcre, Edward kill not, to fear the deed is good.
bonum est. + The apartment in Berkeley Castle, where this horrid deed was done, is now shown to visitors, together with bedstead on which th unfortunate king expired; and the hangings and furniture preserved in the exact state in which they were left at the time of the murder.