63. OTHER EVENTS IN THE REIGN OF HENRY III
And to note the blind superstition of that time, not only among the Jews, but also among the Christians; to omit divers other stories, as of Walter Gray, archbishop of York, who coming up to the parliament at London, A.D. 1255, with inordinate fasting did so overcharge nature, and pined himself, and (as the story mentioneth) did so dry up his brain, that he losing thereby all appetite of stomach, going to Fulham, there within three days died, as in the compiler of Flores Historiarum is both storied and reprehended. Let this also be adjoined, which the forenamed author, and in the same year, is recorded of one named Peter Chaceporce, who dying in France, A.D. 1255, left in bequest of his testament six hundred marks for lands to be purchased to the house of Merton, for God to be served there perpetually, for his soul's health, and all faithful souls; as who would say, Christian faith were not the ordinary means sufficient to salvation of faithful souls, without the quire service of the monks of Merton.
Ye have heard it often complained of before, how the usurped power of the pope hath violently and presumptuously encroached upon the Church of England, in giving and conferring benefices and prebends to his Italians and strangers, to the great damage and ruin of Christ's flock manifold ways. This violent injury and oppression of the pope, as by no lawful and gentle means it could be reformed, so by occasion and means inordinate about this time it began somewhat to be bridled. The matter whereof was this, as it is in the collector of Flores Historiarum recited: In the year of the reign of this king forty and four, the bishop of London, named Fulco, had given a certain prebend, in the church of St. Paul, to one Master Rustand, the pope's messenger here in England. Who entering into the profession of the Grey Friars, and shortly after dying on the other side of the sea, the pope immediately conferred the said prebend to one of his specials, a like stranger as the other was before. About the same instant it befell that the bishop also of London deceased, whereby the bishopric now vacant fell into the king's hands; who, hearing of the death of the forenamed Rustandus, gave the said prebendship, given of the pope before, to one John Crakehale, his under treasurer, whowith all solemnity took his installation, not knowing as yet that it was bestowed of the pope before. It was not long after, as time grew, but this being noised at Rome, forthwith cometh down a certain proctor, named John Gras, with the pope's imbulled letters, to receive the collation of the benefice by his commission procuratory given by the pope, wherein John Crakehale had been already installed, as is aforesaid, by the king's donation. This matter coming in travise before Boniface, archbishop of Canterbury, he inquiring and searching which donation was the first, and finding the pope's grant to be the former, gave sentence with him against the king; so that in conclusion the Roman clerk had the advantage of the benefice, although the other had long enjoyed the possession thereof before. Thus the pope's man being preferred, and the Englishman excluded, after the party had been invested and stalled after the use and manner, he thinking himself to be in sure possession of his place, attempted with the rest to enter the chapter house, but was not permitted so to do; whereupon the pope's clerk, giving place to force and number, went toward the archbishop to complain. This being known, certain recluses pursued him; and he being so compassed about, one in the thickness of the throng, being never after known, suddenly rushing upon him, a little above his eyes so pareth off his head, that he fell down dead; the same also was done to another of his fellows in flying away. This heinous murder being famed abroad, strait inquiry thereof was made, but the deed doer could not be known; and although great suspicion was laid upon Crakehale, the king's chaplain, yet no proof could be brought. But most men thought that bloody fact to be done by certain ruffians or other light persons about the city or the court, disdaining belike that the Romans were so enriched with Englishmen's livings, by whom neither came relief to any Englishmen, nor any godly instruction to the flock of Christ. And therefore, because they saw the church and realm of England in such subjection, and so much to be trodden down by the Romans and the pope's messengers, they thought thereby something to bridle, as with a snaffle, the pope's messengers from their intemperate ranging into this land.
Here by the way is to be noted, that unto the death of this aforesaid Fulco, bishop of London, continueth the history of Matthew Paris, monk of St. Alban's, which was to the year of grace 1260. The residue was continued by another monk of the same house, but not with such-like commendation, worthy to make any authentic story, as I have seen it noted in a written book.
It were too curious and tedious in order to prosecute what happened in every year through this king's reign; as how it was provided by the king, that whosoever could dispend fifteen pounds land by year should be bound to make to the king a soldier; that watch should be kept every night in cities; that whosoever was robbed, or otherwise damnified, in any country, he that had the custody should be compelled to make up the loss again, or else to pursue the malefactor, which was A.D. 1253, witnessing Flores Historiarum. Item, how the king, making his voyage into Gascony, his expenses were reckoned to amount to two hundred and seventy thousand marks, besides thirty thousand marks bestowed upon his brethren by the mother's side, and besides other great gifts given abroad. By reason whereof great taxes, and tolls, and tenths were required of his subjects; especially of the churchmen, who, being wont to receive tithes of others, now were constrained to give tithes to the laity, Flores Historiarum, A.D. 1254. Item, how, in the year next following, the Londoners offering one hundred pounds for a gift to the king, with a precious cup of gold, at his return out of France, were shortly after compelled by the king to pay three thousand marks for the escape of a certain prisoner, being a clerk, condemned; which clerk being granted of the king to the bishop, and he having no prison sufficient for him, borrowed of the Londoners the prison of Newgate, to have him kept in, who, escaping thereout, they, as is said, were demanded this recompence aforesaid, A.D. 1255. Item, how the king, greatly complaining of his debts the same year, required the whole tenths, which should be gathered in three years, to be taken up all at once. To whose request the nobles and commons agreed to strain themselves, so that the charter of their liberties and customs might be ratified, and fully by him confirmed; and so for that year they were, Flores Historiarum. Item, how Pope Alexander the Third, to destroy the city Michera, with King Manfred, the son of Frederic the emperor, sent forth the same year Octavianus, his cardinal, with a puissant army; who, coming to the city with his siege, through the counsel of Marchisius, one of the chief captains, discharged a great part of his host, whereby the most of the pope's army was slain and destroyed; almost all, save only the family of Marchisius, A.D. 1255.
Many other things during the time of this king might be congested, as the rising of Lewlinus, king of Wales, and of the Welchmen, against the king, and wasting the land unto the town of Chester; who destroyed divers of the Englishmen's horsemen taken in the marsh; with whom at length they fell to agreement, by the means of Octobonus,that his successors should be only called princes of Wales, and should do the king his homage; and the king should receive of him three thousand marks. And this, being established in writing, was confirmed by the pope's seal, in the year of our Lord 1257.
About the same time such famine and lack of victuals oppressed the land, that a load of corn was then sold for six and twenty shillings; insomuch that the poorer sort was forced to eat nettle roots, thistle roots, and whatsoever they could get; although some refer this to the year 1262.
Hereunto, moreover, might be adjoined, how Pope Alexander, abusing and mocking the king's simplicity, made him believe that he would make his son Edmund king of Apulia, so that he would sustain the charges and cost thereof, to maintain the war which thereto should appertain. Whereby the king, cast in a sudden hope, caused his son incontinently to be proclaimed king of Apulia; and upon the same sent up to the pope all the riches he could well make in his realm. And thus was the realm manifold ways miserably impoverished to enrich the pope. About which season Richard, earl of Exeter, the king's brother, was made king of Almaine by the electors.
Here might be showed, moreover, and added to the stories above, how, the next year following, which was 1259, as Nicholas Trivet writeth, the king, entering into France, required the restitution of such lands in Normandy and Anjou as of old right were due unto him, and wrongfully withholden from him. But the French king again alleged, saying, that the country of Normandy by old time was not given away from the crown of France, but usurped, and by force extorted by Rollo, &c. In conclusion, the king, fearing and suspecting the hearts of his nobles, and looking for none other but for rebellion at home, durst not try with them, but was compelled to agree with them upon such peace and conditions as he could get, which was this: That he should have of the French king thirteen hundred thousand of Turin pounds, with so much lands else as came to the value of twenty thousand pounds in yearly rent; so should he resign fully and purely, to the hands of the French king, all such lands and possessions which he had in France. Whereby the king, giving over his style and titles which he had in those parts, ceased then to be called duke of Normandy, or earl of Anjou.
Albeit it be true that Gisburn writeth, that the king, afterward repenting of his deed, did never receive the money in all his life, neither did he cease during his life to entitle himself duke of Normandy. But after him, his son Edward and his successors in their style left out the title to be called duke of Normandy.
Besides many other matters omitted, here I overpass also the sore and vehement conflict, not between the frogs and the mice which Homer writeth of, but the mighty pitched field, fought in the year of our Lord 1259, between the young students and scholars of the university of Oxford, having no other occasion, as I read in Matth. Paris, but only the diversity of the country where they were born. For the northern men joining with the Welchmen, to try their manhood against the southern part, fell both parts together in such a broil, with their ensigns and warlike array, that in conclusion divers on both sides were slain. This heavy and bloody conflict during and increasing among them, the end was this, that the northern lads with the Welch had the victory. After that fury and fiery fierceness had done what it could, the victors bethinking at length with themselves, partly what they had done, partly how it would be taken of the higher powers, and fearing due punishment to fall upon them, especially seeing the brother of Leolin, prince of Wales, and son of Griffin, was newly dead in prison, drawing their counsel and helps together, they offer to King Henry four thousand marks, to Edward his son three hundred, and to the queen two hundred, to be released of their trespass. But the king answering them again, that he set more price by the life of one true subject than by all which by them was offered, would in no wise receive their money. Ard so the students without hope of peace went home with small triumph, learning what the common proverb meaneth, Dulce bellum inexpertis. Notwithstanding, the king being then occupied in great affairs and wars, partly with Leolin and the Welchmen, partly inwrapped with discord at home with his nobles, had no leisure to attend to the correction of these university men, which was A.D. 1259. Likewise concerning the dissension following the next year after in the university of Paris, between the students there and the friars; the number of whom then did so much increase, that the commons were scarcely able to sustain them with their alms. Also between the universities both of Oxford and Cambridge, for a certain prisoner taken out of prison by strength, and brought into sanctuary the same year, as is testified in Matthew Paris, A.D. 1259. In like manner touching the variance between the archbishop of Canterbury and the chapter of Lincoln. Again, between the said archbishop of Canterbury and the chapter and bishop of London; and how the said bishop at his consecration would not make his profession to the archbishop but with this exception, Salvis jure et libertate ecclesiæ Londinensis, quæ pro posse meo defendam in omnibus, &c., recorded in Flor. Hist. All which wranglings and dissensions, with innumerable others reigning daily in the church at those days, if I had so much leisure to prosecute them as I find them in stories remaining, might sufficiently induce us to understand what small peace and agreement was then joined with that doctrine and religion in those days during the state and reign of antichrist.
These, with many such other matters more, which here might be discoursed and storied at large, being more foreign than ecclesiastical, for brevity I do purposely contract and omit, cutting off all such superfluities as may seem more curious to write upon, than necessary to be known.