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son, and desiring his son to accept of the crown, they received a present supply of French soldiers, upon their delivering up fifty English gentlemen, as hostages for the true performance of the contract.
King Philip therefore having his holiness's message with such scorn and contempt, so affrighted the Legate with his stern countenance, that he made all possible haste to be gone, as fearing some mischief should be done him. And Lewis as speedily set forth for England with his fleet of six hundred ships, and fourscore boats, wherewith arriving first in the Isle of Thanet, and afterward going to Sandwich, the barons came thither to him, and joined with him. King John's great navy wherewith he intended to oppose him, was driven Southward by a sudden tempest; and his soldiers were generally mercenaries, and more inclined (as it appeared afterward) to Lewis a foreign Prince than to him; whereupon King John thought fit for the present to forbear battle, and went toward Winchester.
In the mean time Lewis had liberty to take all thereabout, except Dover castle, which John bad committed to the valliant Hubert de Burg. Yet Lewis marched forward to London, where entering with a solemn procession, and with the incredible applause of all, he went into St. Paul's church, and there the citizens of London took their paths of allegiance to him. From whence he passed to Westminster; and there the lords and barons likewise swore to be true to him; he himself likewise swearing, to restore to all men their rights, and to recover to the crown whatsoever had been lost by King John. Then he chose Simon Langton, who had been lately disgraced by the Pope, for Iris Lord Chancellor, by whose preaching the citizens of London, and the lords, though they were excommnicated, and under the Pupe's curse, did yet celebrate divine service, and drew on Prince Lewis to do the like. Whereupon Wallo the Pope's legate (who was now with King John) denounced heavy and solemn curses throughout the kingdom, against the Londoners, especially against Lewis and bis Chancellor by name,
But Lewis went from London, and passed over all the country without resistance, but not without infinite outrages committed by his soldiers, which was not in his power to hinder. In the mean time King John finding his enemies employed in the siege of Dover castle, and likewise Odiam castle, (wherein thirteen English men only braved Lewis and his whole army for fifteen days together; nay, sallied out upon them, and taking every man prisoner to the great admiration of the French, they returned safely back again, and afterward delivered
up the place upon honorable conditions. King John thereupon gathers a rabble of rascally people about him, with whom he over-runs all the country, to the ruining of the barons castles and estates in all places. And then marching from Lyn in Norfolk, on which place he bestowed his own sword, a gilt bole, and divers large privileges in testification of their loyalty to him, King John went with a full resolution (having now got a very great army together) to give present battle to Lewis; but as he was passing the washes of Lincolnshire, which are always dangerous, all his carriages, treasure, and provision were lost in the sands, himself and his army hardly escaping.
The kingdom was now made the stage of all manner of rapine and cruelty, having two armies in it at once, each of them seeking to prey upon each other, and both of them upon the country. Which the lords seriously reflecting upon, and finding likewise their faithful services to Lewis little regarded, since he bestowed all places that were conquered, upon French men only, they began to consider how they might free themselves from those calamities.
But that which startled them most, was, that a noble French man, called Viscount de Melun, who was very much in esteem with Lewis, being upon his death bed in London, desired to have some private conference with those English lords and Londoners to whom Lewis had committed the custody of that city, to whom he discovered,
That lamentable desolation, and secret and unsuspected ruin and destruction hung over their heads, since Lewis with sixteen others of his earls and lords, of whom himself was one, had taken an oath, that if ever the crown of England was settled on bis head, they would condemn to perpetual banishment, all such às now adhered to him against King John, as being traitors to their own Sovereign; and that all their kindred and relations should be utterly rooted out of the land.
This he affirmed to be true, as he hoped for the salvation of his now departing soul; and thereupon counselling them timely to prevent their approaching miseries; and in the mean while to lock up his words under the seal of secrecy, he soon after departed this life.
These dreadful tidings strangely amazed the auditors, and though many of the lords doubted whether if they returned to their allegiance toward King John, he would ever accept of their repentance, since they had so highly provoked him. Yet forty of them immediately sent submissive letters to the King, therein expressing their sorrow, and hoping that true royal blood would be ever ready to shew mercy · to such as were ready to yield themselves prostrate to intreat for it.
But those solicitors for mercy came too late, for King John; through vexation of mind for the loss of his carriages, fell into a high fever, whereof within a few days he died. Though the manner of his death is otherwise reported by other authors, one of whom says, that he was poisoned at Swinshead abby, by a monk of that convent, upon the following account; the King being told that corn was very cheap, said, that it should be dearer erc long, for he would make a penny loaf to be sold for a shilling, at which speech the monk was so of, fended, that he put the poison of a toad into a cụp of wine, and brought it to the King, telling him, there was such a cup of wine as he had never drank in all his life, and therewithall drank first of it himself, which made the King drink more boldly of it: but finding himself ill upon it, he asked for the monk, and when it was told him that he was fallen down dead, then (saith the King) God have mercy upon me: 1 doubted as much. Others say, poison was given him in a dish of pears; and add, that this was judged such a meritorious act that the monk had a mass appointed to be said for his soul for ever after, by his fellow monks.
This King is charged with irreligion by the monks of those times, who did not love him, and therefore we know not how far they are to be believed. And among other speeches, that having been a little before reconciled to the Pope, and afterward receiving a great over, throw from the French, he in great anger cried out, that nothing had prospered with him since he was reconciled to God and the Pope. And that at another time being a hunting, he merrily said at the opening of a fat buck, see this deer hath prospered, and how fat he is, and yet I dare swear, he never heard mass. He is likewise charged, that being in some distress, he sent Thomas Hardington, and Ralph Fitz-Nichols, knights, ambassadors to Miramimalim King of Africa and Morocco, with offer of his kingdom to him, if he would assist him, and that if he prevailed, he himself would become a turk and renounce the Christian religion.
To this time the city of London had been governed by two bailiffs, but the King in his tenth year, taking displeasure against them for denying his purveyors wheat, he imprisoned them till thirty-five of the chief citizens repaired to him, and acquainted him with what small store the city had, and how the commons were ready to make an insurrection about it, he was then satisfied; and likewise at their suit he by a new charter granted to the citizens to elect a new mayor and two sheriffs to be chosen yearly nine days before Michaelmas, which order hath continued to this day, though with some alteration as to time.
In this King's time likewise, five and thirty of the most substantial citizens were chosen out, and called the Common Council of the city.
In this King's time there fell hail as big as goose eggs, with great thunder and lightning, so that many men, women, and cattle were destroyed, houses overthrown and burned, and corn in the fields beaten down. In 1202, and the fourth year of the reign of King John, there began a frost from the 14th of January, which continued to the 22d of March, that the ground could not be tilled, so that in the summer following a quarter of weat was sold for a mark, which in the days of Henry the second was sold for twelve pence, and a quarter of beans or oats for a groat; and why the disproportion in the prices is now so great, (since the price of silver is much less altered, for an ounce of silver was then valued at twenty pence, which is now valued at five shillings) must be left to philosophers to give the reason : for since scarcity makes things dear, why should not plenty make them cheap ?
About this time fishes of strange shape were taken, armed with helmets and shields, like armed men, only they were much bigger. A certain monster was likewise found, stricken with lightning not far from London, which had an head like an ass, a belly like a man, and all other parts far different from any other creature. And in another place, a fish was taken alive in the form of a man, and was kept six months upon land with raw flesh and fish, and then because they could not make it speak, they cast it into the sea again.
In the ninth year of King John's reign, the arches and stone bridge over the Thames at London was quite finished by Serle Mercer, and William Alman, then procurators and masters of the bridge-house, and soon after a great fire happened there, of which you have already an account.
After the death of King John, his eldest son Henry, being not above ten years old, succeeded him, and was therefore very unfit to govern in such a distracted time, when a great part of the kingdom had sworn allegiance to Prince Lewis. However upon October 8th. 1216, he was crowned at Gloucester by the name of Henry the tbird, where besides the usual oath taken by all Kings, he did homage also to the church of Rome, and to the Pope Innocent, for the kingdoms of England and Ireland, and promised the true payment of the thousand marks a year, which his father lad granted to the church of Rome.
And then William Marshal Earl of Pembroke was by general consent made protector of the realm, during the King's minority. In the mean time Lewis, who thought himself sure of the kingdom by the death of King John, now hearing of the solemn crowning of the young King with such unanimous consent, he begins to grow jealous of the English lords, who indeed had some conflicts in their minds whom they should obey; they thought it great ingratitude to forsake Prince Lewis, whom they themselves had invited to come, and yet it seemed extreme disloyalty to stand in opposition to Henry their innocent natural Sovereign; but the discovery of Viscount Melun, that Lewis intended to extirpate all the English nobility, and the curse of Wallo the Pope's legate against all who should join with Lewis, with divers other reasons, caused the principal of them to shrink from Lewis and join with King Henry, as thinking no obligation so great as allegiance, many others staid with Lewis, as thinking none greater than an oath.
And now Prince Lewis fearing that his enemies having gotten an head, and draw more forces together, staying himself in London, sent his Lieutenant with an army of twenty thousand to take in what towns he could get, some of which they took with small resistance ; but William Earl of Pembroke the protector, coming against them with an army, utterly routed Lewis, and took most of the lords that adhered to him prisoners; and though his father Phiiip sent him more forces, yet they were defeated at sea, so that Lewis upon payment of some money, and other conditions, 'returned into France, and King Henry took an oath, and for him, the Pope's legate Wallo, and the Protector, that he would restore to the barons of the realm, and others, his subjects, all their rights and privileges for which the discord began between the late King and his people. And afterward he confirmed the two charters of Magna Charta, and Charta Forestæ, granted by his father King John.
In the Xth year of King Henry's reign, and the XIXth of his age, he claimed to take the government upon himself, and no longer to be under a protector, after which there presently appeared the difference between a Prince that is ruled by good council, and one that will do all of his own will, and take no advice. For thirteen years he was ruled by a protector, and then all passed as it were in a calm without noise, or clamour ; but as soon as he took upon him the government, storms and tumults presently arose, neither was there any quietness with the subjects, nor himself, nothing but grievances all the long time of his reign.