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clothes for the knights, £1079, 18s. 3d. ; then allowance for the purchase of horses, fees, gifts, alms, jewels, and payment of debts, £1207, 78. 11d. From these entries it is abundantly clear that the Earl of Lancaster lived sumptuously, spending more than £100,000 a-year, according to the present value of money.
There are great differences of opinion as to the justice of beheading Thomas Earl of Lancaster. Those who hurried on this bloody deed can scarcely find in the official document of his arraignment, words sufficiently strong to express his misdemeanours and crimes. We must recollect that the wretched King Edward's attachment to Gaveston, and his affection for the Despencers, rendered him contemptible in the eyes of the people, and encouraged the Earl of Lancaster to endeavour to check the misgovernment of the country; thus he became the leader of a popular cause, and the instrument by which reforms were eventually established. The turf upon Blacklow Hill was still moist with the blood of Gaveston. His death continued to rankle in the heart of Edward. It was unavenged. Though the favourite's end was alike cruel and contrary to the law as then established, few-perhaps none but the king himself -looked upon it as an illegal act. Yet, without question, such was the eagerness for Gaveston's death, that the formal proceedings of justice were set aside. He had a kind of judicial trial; but the officers of justice authorized by the Crown were not summoned to it. He was condemned without the full assent of Parliament. These pro
ceedings must always leave a stain upon the Earl of Lancaster's character; though his enemies have loaded his memory with many unfounded charges, as shown by the high reputation he obtained immediately after his death. Queen Isabella believed him to be deserving of canonization, which she sedulously besought the Pope to grant, pleading in recommendation the numberless miracles that were wrought at his tomb, and being fully impressed, as people were in the middle ages, with these supernatural works.
Attempts were made to effect a reconciliation between the king and the confederate barons, at the head of whom was Lancaster. The friendship was renewed, but the king was detected in breaking the conditions. A knight who had once served the Earl of Lancaster, was taken near Pontefract with a blank charter under the royal seal, directed to the King of Scotland, offering him any conditions he pleased, provided he would compass the death of his relative. Both parties now flew to arms, but Lancaster soon found himself ill supported by his compeers; and marching northward for reinforcements from Bruce King of Scotland, the king in the meantime sent the Earl of Surrey and Kent to besiege the castle at Pontefract, which surrendered at the first summons. Lancaster was next closely pursued by the king with great superiority of numbers. The Earl, endeavouring to rally his troops, was taken prisoner at Boroughbridge, with ninety-five barons and knights, and carried to the castle of Pontefract, where he was imprisoned
in a tower which Leland says he had newly made. This tower had a wall 10 feet thick and 25 feet square : the only entrance was by a hole or trap-door in the floor of the turret ; so that the prisoner must have been let down into this abode of darkness, from whence there could be no possible mode of escape.
A few days after, the king being at Pontefract, ordered Lancaster to be arraigned in the hall before a small number of peers, among whom were the Despencers, his mortal enemies. A series of articles of impeachment was drawn up. The process was exaggerated and diffuse ; the accusation feebly made ; and the sentence unjust, and wickedly executed. Lancaster was condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered ; but the punishment was changed to decapitation. After sentence was passed, he said, “Shall I die without answer ?' He was not, however, permitted to speak; but a certain Gascoygne took him away, and having put an old hood over his head, set him on a lean mare, without a bridle. Attended by a Dominican friar as his confessor, he was carried out of the town amidst the insults of the people, and there beheaded. Thus fell Thomas Earl of Lancaster, the first prince of the blood, and uncle to Edward 11., who condemned him to death. Several of the Earl's adherents were hanged at Pontefract. The rolls of Parliament, and the wretched king's subsequent conduct, show how the Earl's accusers endeavoured to repair the wrong they had committed. The self-reproaches of the monarch proved his remorse. The Parliament revoked their judg
ment, and restored the son the estates and honours of which the father had been unjustly deprived. It is pitiable to contemplate at this moment the abject state of the king in consequence of the Earl of Lancaster's death. He was keeping his Christmas at York the year following, when a retainer of his late noble relative was taken and condemned to die. One of those about the court, knowing he had formerly occupied a place similar to his own, being touched with compassion at his fate, offered to speak on his behalf to the monarch. He had, however, no sooner begun to implore for his life, than Edward broke into a violent passion, and exclaimed, “Begone, wicked and malicious detractors ! you can plead for this worthless fellow, but none of you would so much as open your mouth in behalf of my cousin of Lancaster, who, if he had lived, might have been useful both to myself and to the whole kingdom.” Whilst this incident proves that Edward 11. was not naturally cruel, it also shows that he repented the crime he had been urged by his advisers to commit.' i
After this fearful tragedy, it might be supposed that the walls of Pontefract could never again become so deeply stained with crime ; but we are detained by the recital of other deeds, less unprovoked, and perhaps more atrocious. It was on the 23d of October 1399, that Arundell Archbishop of Canterbury, acting on the behalf of Henry of Lancaster, took the first steps for deposing King Richard 11. He began by charging the Lords Spiritual and Temporal to keep his propositions regarding his dethronement a profound secret; and this might have been directly carried out, had not Percy Earl of Northumberland put some questions to the assembled Parliament, which, interfering with the projected plan, caused it to be deferred a little longer. When the unhappy monarch tendered his resignation of the crown, he showed that if he had failed to discharge them with ability, he was nevertheless fully conscious of the duties a sovereign owes to his people. He declared that he would rather that the commonwealth should rise by his fall, than that he should stand upon its ruins.' So that whatever his private faults may have been, it can never be truly laid to his charge that he oppressed his subjects.
1 «The Honour and Castle of Pontefract,' by the Rev. C. H. Hartshorne ; Journal of the British Archæological Association, 1864.
At the Parliament which held its sitting in October, it was decreed that the king should be perpetually imprisoned ; that a place should be selected which should be unfrequented by any concourse of people ; that none of his friends should be permitted to visit him ; and that he should be under secret and unknown restraint. The dungeons of ‘London's lasting shame' were deemed too cheerful for the captive monarch.
In the dolorous castell' of Flint was Richard deposed. Thither he was inveigled by the Earl of Northumberland, with the assurance that Bolingbroke wished no more than to be restored to his own property, and to give the kingdom a Parliament. Northumberland with a small train first met Richard at Conway, then on his return from Ireland. The