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which was four and twenty years. But Fabian, who was himself Sheriff of London, and therefore most likely to know the truth, aflirmeth, that the officers ordained now by King Richard, were but only two bailiffs, and that there was no Mayor or Sheriffs till the tenth of King John. But however the city now began first to receive the form and state of a commonwealth (saith the historian) and to be divided into fellowships and corporations, as at this day; and this privilege was granted the first of Richard I, 1189.
This King left no children bebind him, that we have any certain account of, unless we reckon as a popish priest did, who coming to King Richard, told him, that he had three very wicked daughters, which he desired him to bestow, or else God's wrath would attend him. But the King denying he had any daughters, Yes (said the priest) thou cherish three daughters, pride, covetousness, and leachery: The King apprehended his meaning, and smiling thereat, called his lords attend. ing, and said, my lords, this hypocritical priest hath discovered, that I maintain three daughters, pride, covetousness, and leachery, which he would have me bestow in marriage; and therefore if I have any such, I have found out very fit husbands for them all. My pride I bequeath to the haughty templers and hospitallers, who are as proud as Lucifer himself: my covetousness 1 give to the white monks of the Cistercian order, for they covet the Devil and all : but for my leachery, I can bestow it no where better than on the priests, and bishops of our times, for therein they place their greatest felicity and happiness.
In this King's time, for three or four years together, there happened so great a drought, that a quarter of wheat was sold for eighteen shillings and eight pence; and thereupon followed so great à mortality of people, that the living scarce sufficed to bury the dead.
King Richard being dead, tie right of succession remained in Arthur, son of Jeffery, Duke of Anjou, elder brother of Earl John: but Jolin thinking Arthur's title but a criticism of state, and not so plain to common capacities as his own, who was son of a King and brother to a King, ascended the throne as confidently as if he had no competitor, only Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, made an oration on his behalf, wherein waving the right succession, he insisted wholly upon the right of election by the people, whereby it would follow, that those who brought him in, might throw him out. Of which the bishop being told, said, lie did it on purpose to cause King John to be more careful of his government, by making him sensible upon what an uncertain foundation his regality stood. King John took notice of this, but since it would serve his present purpose, he let it pass, knowing that his turn once served, he could afterward carve out what
title he pleased, and so upon Ascension Day, 1199, he was crowned King, at Westminster.
But Constantia, the mother of Arthur, applies herself to Lewis the French King, on behalf of her son, who promised his assistance; but yet afterwards a peace was made between King John and Lewis. After which, King John being at leisure, gave himself wholly up to pleasure, and committed many extravagances, which so far disobliged some of his lords, that they joined with the French King to assist Prince Arthur; but King John coming upon them unawares, routed their forces and took Arthur prisoner, who died soon after. The death of whom, and also of Geoffry Fitz-Peter, who while the King lived, kept him in some awe, left the King at full liberty to his
wild desires. For at the first hearing of Geoffry's death, he swore, by the feet of God, that now at lengih he was King of England, and with great rejoicing said to some lords about him, now when this man comes into Hell, let him salute the Archbishop Hubert, whom. certainly he shall find there.
After this the lords of the realm having often required their ancient rights and liberties, and finding nothing but delusions, they would no longer endure to be abused: but meeting together, they consider of some remedy, and conclude to go to the King themselves in person, and make their demands, producing likewise a charter, which had been granted in Henry the First's time. Whereupon coming to the King after Christmas, lying then in the New Temple in London ; and acquainting bim with their demands, he answers, that within a few days he will give them satisfaction ; and causeth the bishops of Canterbury and Ely, and William Marshal, Earl of Glocester, to pass their words for him that it should be performed.
But the King never intending to do as he said, falls presently to raise soldiers; which the lords understanding, they all did the like : and going to the Bishop of Canterbury, they deliver him a copy of their demands, and require the King's answer; who shewed it to the King, with a message of their resolutions, that if he did not presently seal the charter then delivered to him, they would compel him thereto with forcible entrance into all bis possessions.
The king being highly offended, asked, why they did not also require his kingdom, these their demands being grounded on no colour of reason; and then swore a great oath, that he would die before he would enslave himself to them by such concessions. The lords by this answer knowing what they must trust to, appointed Robert Fitzwater to be their general, whom they stiled, the marshal of God's
army and holy church. Then they besieged Northampton and Bedford, and the governor of the last being a confederate, delivered it up to them. But the Londoners displeased with the King for burthening them with taxes, not only admitted them, but invited them to enter the city by night.
The lords now having this key of the land at their disposal, sent such threatening letters and messages abroad, that they drew most of the nobility from the King, who being at Windsor, providing an army and having notice thereof, and that the Londoners were joined with them, he tlrought good to proceed rather by fraud than force; and thereupon sends to the lords, that if they would come to him to Windsor, he would grant their demands. Tlie lords coming thither, but in a military manner, for they durst not trust his word; the King saluted them all kindly, and promised to give them satisfaction in all they demanded. And so in a meadow between Windsor and Stanes, called Running Mead, and afterward Council Mead, he freely con. sented to confirm their former liberties contained in Magna Charta, and Charta Forestæ; and likewise that there should be twenty-five peers elected, who should have a sway in the government, and whose commands all the rest of the barons were bound by oath to obey, and he was contented that some grave personages should be chosen to see it performed.
But the next day, when it should be done, the King goes privately the night before to Southampton, and from thence to the Isle of Wight, where advising with his council, it was concluded he should send to the Pope, to acquaint him with this mutiny of the lords, and require his help, while the King in the mean time lived sculking up and down in corners that no man might know where to find him, or what is worse (as soine write) roving about and practising piracy.
And now the lords began to suspect fraud, when shortly after, the King's messengers, who were Walter and John, bishops of Worcester and Norwich, return with the Pope's decree, wherehy the barons charter was by definitive sentence cancelled and made void, and the king and barons accursed, if either of them observed the composition. This decree the King, after he had staid three months in the Isle of Wight, coming back to Windsor, acquaints the lords with, but they accusing the messenger for falsly informing the Pope ; and the Pope also for making a decree without hearing of both sides, betake themselves to arms, and swear by the holy altar to be revenged for this injurious dealing.
The King finding the lords nothing moved upon the Pope's decree, sends again to him, to acquaint him with it; who being mightily incensed to have his decree so slighted, adjudgeth the lords to be enemies of religion, and gives power to Peter Bishop of Winchester, and the abbot of Redding to excommunicate them, whereby all their lands, together with the city of London were interdicted, but the lords still stand on their guard in London, scorning and defying the Pope's censures ; and decreeing that neither themselves nor the Londoners should observe them, nor the bishops dare to denounce them, alledging, that it did not belong to the Pope to deal in temporal affairs, since St. Peter received power of our Saviour only in ecclesiastical matters : and why should the Roman insatiable covetousness extend itself hither to us? what have bishops to do to intermedle in wars? such are Constantine's successors, not St. Peter's: whom as they represent not in good actions, so neither do they in authority. Fie upon such mer. cenary rascals, who having little knowledge of ingenuity or art, being usurers and Simoniacks; that they should dare by their excommunications to domineer over the world. O how unlike they are to St. Peter, who have usurped St. Peter's chair.
With these remonstrances the lords went resolvely in their course. In the mean time King John, with the assistance of some forces which he had hired beyond sea, had within half a year gotten all the castles of the barons into his hands as far as the borders of Scotland ; and then he divided his army, committing one part to his brother William Earl of Salisbury, who was ordered to fall upon London ; and with the other he himself goes into Yorkshire, where most of the lords had estates, which he miserably destroys with fire and sword.
The lords being distressed on every side, resolved upon a course nei. ther honorable nor safe, yet such as necessity made appear to be both, for they sent to Philip King of France, requiring him to send over his son Lewis to their aid, and promising they would submit themselves to be governed by him, and to take him for their Sovereign. To this motion of the lords, King Philip was as forward as themselves; which King John understanding, sends again to the Pope, requiring him to use his authority to stay the King of France from coming. Who accordingly sent Cardinal Wallo his legate, who threatened the great curse in the council, on all who should join with those excommunicated persons, against King John, or should enter upon St. Peter's patrimony.
But King Philip replied, that England was no part of St. Peter's patrimony, no King having power to alienate his kingdom, and John especially, who being never lawful King, had no power to dispose thereof; and that it was an error, and a pernicious example in the Pope, and an itching lust and desire after a new and lawless dominion. His peers likewise swore by Christ's death, that they would loose their lives, rather than suffer a King of himself, or with the consent of a few flatterers, to give away his crown, and enslave his nobles, especially to the Pope, who ought to follow St. Peter's steps to win souls, and not to meddle with wars, and murdering of men's bodies.
Now the reason of the Pope's claiming England as St. Peter's patrimony, was upon the account of the resignation of King John. And though the Pope seemed now so zealous for the interest of King John, yet not above five years before he was as much his enemy: for the King being incensed against the clergy, and endeavouring to rectify some miscarriages about electing Bishops, &c. the Pope fearing he would intrench upon his privileges, used his utmost power against him ; forbidding mass to be said for some years, excommunicating and cursing him, and giving his kingdom to the French King, and stirring up his own nobility against him, freeing them from their allegiance to himn.' So that King John being encompassed with troubles on every side, was compelled to submit to whatever the Pope would command him; nay, he was forced to take off his crown, and kneeling on his knees in the midst of bis barons, be surrendered it into the hands of Pandulphus the Legate, for the Pope's use; saying, here I resign up the crown of the realm of England to the hands of Pope Innocent the Third, and lay myself wholly at his mercy and appointment. At whose feet he also laid his scepter, robes, sword, Ring, and all the ensignias of royalty. Pandulphus took the crown from King John, and kept it five days: and the King, giving them all his kingdoms to the Pope to be held in farm from him, and his heirs for evermore, the crown was restored; King John engaging to pay seven hundred marks a year for England, and three hundred for Ireland; half of it at Easter and half at Whitsuntide, as rent for the said kingdoms.
But this being done out of force and necessity, King Philip it seems (no more than his own people) did not think it of any value. Yea, Prince Lewis himself beseeched his father not to hinder him from that which was none of his gift, and for which he was now resolved to spend his blood, and would chuse rather to be excommunicated by the Pope, than falsify his promise to the English barons. For upon their sending their letters of allegiance, confirmed with the hands and seals of all the lords, to implore King Philip's favour, and to send his