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the proprietors, deprived of two sources of wealth, the plunder of an enemy, and the ransom of captives, turned their attention to the improvement of their estates: salutary enactments invigorated the spirit of commerce: and there scarcely existed a port from the coast of Norway to the shores of Italy that was not annually visited by English merchants. This statement may perhaps surprise those who have listened only to the remonstrances of factious barons, or the complaints of discontented historians: but the fact is, that of all the kings since the conquest, Henry received the least money from the tenants of the crown. According to the most accurate calculation, the average amount of his expenses did not exceed twenty-four thousand marks per annum: and we are assured that in the course of a reign which continued half a century, the only extraordinary aids levied by him on the nation were two fifteenths, one thirtieth, and one fortieth for himself, and one twentieth for the relief of the Holy Land. His great resource was the tenth of the ecclesiastical revenues, which he received for some years: an impost which, though insufficient to rescue him from the pressure of poverty, was calculated from its partial operation to exasperate the minds of those who were compelled to pay it. The clergy struggled in vain to shake off the burden; their writers have laboured more successfully to interest in their favour the feelings of posterity by the description, probably the exaggerated description, of their wrongs.
Edward (at his accession) had now reached his thirty-sixth year. In his person he was tall, but well proportioned: the length of his arm gave additional force to his stroke; and when he was once placed in his saddle, no struggle of his horse, no violence of the enemy could dislodge him from his seat. In temper he was warm and irascible, impatient of injury, and reckless of danger: but his anger might be disarmed by submission, and his temerity seemed to be justified by success. During the late contest with the barons he had proved the solidity of his judgment, and the resolution of his mind: and his reputation had been established among the admirers of chivalry by his prowess in battles, in tournaments, and in his expedition to Palestine. In ambition he did not yield to any of his predecessors: but his ambition aimed at a very different object. They had exhausted their strength in attempting conquests on the continent, which might be wrested from them at any time by a fortunate neighbour: he aspired to unite in himself the sovereignty of the whole island of Great Britain. Nor was he entirely disappointed. Wales was incorporated with England: and the independence of Scotland sought an asylum in the midst of morasses, forests, and mountains. Lingard.
The first Edward had been in disposition a tyrant. As often as he had dared, he had trampled on the liberties, or invaded the property of his subjects; and yet he died in his bed, respected by his barons and admired by his contemporaries. His son, the second Edward, was of a less injurious character: no acts of injustice or oppression were imputed to him by his greatest enemies: yet he was deposed from the throne, and murdered in a prison. Of this difference between the lot of the father and the son, the solution must be sought in the manners and character of the age. They both reigned over proud and factious nobles, jealous of their own liberties, but regardless of the liberties of others; and who, though they respected the arbitrary sway of a monarch as haughty and violent as themselves, despised the milder and more equitable administration of his successor. That successor, naturally easy and indolent, fond of the pleasures of the table and the amusements of the chase, willingly devolved on others the cares and labours of government. But in an age unacquainted with the more modern expedient of a responsible minister, the barons considered the elevation of the favourite as their own depression, his power as the infringement of their rights. The result was what we have seen, a series of associations, having for their primary object the removal of evil counsellors, as they were called, from the person of the prince, but which gradually invaded the legitimate rights of the crown, and terminated in the dethronement and assassination of the sovereign. Lingard.
In personal accomplishments Edward is said to have been superior, in mental powers to have been equal, to any of his predecessors. More than usual care had been bestowed on his education: and he could not only speak the English and French, but also understand the German and Latin languages. His elocution was graceful; his conversation entertaining; his behaviour dignified, but also attractive. To the fashionable amusements of hunting and hawking he was much addicted: but to these he preferred the more warlike exercise of the tournament: and his subjects, at the conclusion of the exhibition, often burst into transports of applause, when they found that the unknown knight, whose prowess they had admired, proved to be their own sovereign. Of his courage as a combatant, and his abilities as a general, the reader will have formed a competent opinion from the preceding pages. The astonishing victories, which cast so much glory on one period of his reign, appear to have dazzled the eyes both of his subjects and foreigners, who placed him in the first rank of conquerors: but the disasters, which clouded the evening of his life, have furnished a proof that his ambition was greater than his judgment. He was at last convinced that the crowns of France and Scotland were beyond his reach; but not till he had exhausted the strength of the nation by a series of gigantic but fruitless efforts. Before his death all his conquests, with the exception of Calais, vOL. II. E
had slipped from his grasp: the greater part of his hereditary dominions on the continent had been torn from him by a rival, whom he formerly despised: and a succession of short and precarious truces was sought and accepted as a boon by the monarch, who in his more fortunate days had dictated the peace of Bretigni.
The features of Richard were handsome, but feminine; his manners abrupt; his utterance embarrassed. He possessed some taste for literature, and occasionally gave indications of resolution and spirit. But he was passionately fond of parade and pleasure: and the loss of his crown has been sometimes attributed to his extravagance and pecuniary exactions. It would, however, be difficult to prove, that his expenses were greater than those of his predecessors: it is certain, that his demands on the purses of his subjects were considerably less. "What concern have you," he once observed to the commons, "with the establishment of my household, as long as I maintain it without asking you for assistance?" His misfortunes may be more correctly traced to the early age at which he mounted the throne, and to the precaution taken by his mother and her friends to defeat the supposed designs of his uncles. By these he was estranged from the princes of his blood, whose pride refused to pay court to a boy; and whose neglect compelled