Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 86. THE DEPOSING OF KING RICHARD II.

86. THE DEPOSING OF KING RICHARD II.

Thus having hitherto sufficiently touched and comprehended such things as have happened in the reign of this king, necessary for the church to know, by course of story we come now to the twenty-second year of King Richard's reign, which is the year of our Lord, 1399. In the which year happened the strange and also lamentable deposing of this King Richard the Second aforesaid, from his kingly sceptre: strange, for that the like example hath not often been seen in seats royal: lamentable, for that it cannot be but grievous to any good man's heart, to see him either so to deserve, if he were justly deposed; or if he were unjustly deprived, to see the kingly title there not able to hold his right, where, by force, it is compelled to give place to might.

As concerning the order and process of whose deposing, for that it neither is greatly pertinent to my argument, and is sufficiently contained in Robert Fabian, and in the king's records in the chronicle of St. Albans, and in other histories at large, it were here tedious and superfluous to intermeddle with repeating thereof. What were the conditions and properties of this king; partly before hath been touched; in whom, as some good virtues may be noted, so also some vices may seem to be mixed withal, but especially this, that he, starting out of the steps of his progenitors, ceased to take part with them which took part with the gospel. Whereupon it so fell, not by the blind wheel of fortune, but by the secret hand of Him which directeth all estates, that, as he first began to forsake the maintaining of the gospel of God, so the Lord began to forsake him.

In such as write the life and acts of this prince, thus I read of him reported, that he was much inclined to the favouring and advancing of certain persons about him, and ruled all by their counsel, which were then greatly abhorred and hated in the realm; the names of whom were Robert Vere, earl of Oxford, whom the king made duke of Ireland; Alexander Nevile, archbishop of York; Michael De la Pole, earl of Suffolk; Robert Trisilian, lord chief justice; Nicholas Brembre, with others.

These men, being hated and disdained of divers of the nobles and of the commons, the king also, by favouring them, was less favoured himself; insomuch, that the duke of Gloucester, named Thomas Woodstock, the king's uncle, with the earl of Warwick, and earl of Derby, stood up in arms against those counsellors and abusers (as they named them) of the king. Insomuch that the king for fear was constrained, against his mind, to remove out of his court, Alexander Nevile, archbishop of York; John Ford, bishop of Durham; Friar Thomas Rushoke, bishop of Chichester, the king's confessor; with the Lord Harringworth, Lord Burnel and Beamond, Lord Vere, and divers others.

And furthermore, in the parliament, the same year following, Robert Trisilian, the justice, was hanged and drawn: also Nicholas Brembre, knight, James Salisbury also, and James Barnese, both knights; John Beauchamp, the king's steward, and John Blake, esquire, in like manner.

Secondly, Another thing that stirred him up as much against the Londoners, was this, for that he would have borrowed of, them a thousand pounds, and they denied him, to their double and treble disadvantage, as after ensued upon it. Another occasion besides this, between the king and the Londoners, happened thus, by reason of one of the bishop of Salisbury's servants, named Roman, and a baker's man, who then carrying a basket of horse-bread in Fleet Street, the aforesaid Roman took a horse-loaf out of the basket. The baker asking him why he did so, the bishop's lusty yeoman turned back again and brake his head: whereupon the neighbours came out, and would have arrested this Roman, but he escaped away unto the bishop's house. Then the constable would have had him out; but the bishop's men shut fast the gates, that they should not approach. Thus much people gathered together, threatening to burst open the gates, and fire the house, unless they had the aforesaid party to them brought out: whereby much ado there was, till at length the mayor and sheriffs came and quieted the rage of the commons, and sent every man home to his house, charging them to keep peace. Here as yet was no great harm done; but if the bishop, for his part, had been quiet, and had not stirred the coals of debate, which were well slaked already, all had been ended without further perturbation. But the stomach of the bishop not yet digested, although his man had done the wrong, having no great cause so to do, whose name was John Waltam, being then treasurer of England, went to Thomas Arundel, archbishop the same time of York, and Lord Chancellor of England, to complain of the Londoners. Where is to be noted, or rather revealed, by the way, a privy mystery, which although it be not in this story touched of the writers, yet it touched the hearts of the bishops not a little. For the Londoners at that time were notoriously known to be favourers of Wickliff's side, as partly before this is to be seen, and in the story of St. Alban's more plainly doth appear, where the author of the said history, writing upon the fifteenth year of King Richard's reign, reporteth in these words of the Londoners, that they were "not right believers in God, nor in the traditions of their forefathers, but sustainers of the Lollards, depravers of religious men, withholders of tithes, and impoverishers of the common people," &c.

Thus the Londoners, being noted and suspected of the bishops, were the more hated, no doubt, therefore, of the said bishops, which were the more ready to find and take all occasions to work against them, as by their doing herein may well appear: for the bishop of Salisbury, and archbishop of York, having no greater matter against them than was declared, with a grievous complaint went to the king, complaining of the mayor and sheriffs of London. What trespass the mayor and sheriffs had done, as ye have heard before, so may you judge. Now what followed after let us hear. The king, incensed not a little with the complaint of the bishops, conceived eftsoons against the mayor and sheriffs, and against the whole city of London, a great wrath; insomuch, that the mayor and both the sheriffs were sent for, and removed from their office. Sir Edward Darlington was then made warden and governor of the city; who also, for his gentleness showed to the citizens, was also deposed, and another, named Sir Baldwin Radington, placed in that room. Moreover, so much grew the king's displeasure against the city, that he also removed from London the courts and terms, to be kept at York, that is to say, the chancery, the exchequer, the king's bench, the hanaper, and the common pleas; where the same with his own hands, he arrested the said duke his uncle, and sent him down by water immediately to Calais; and there, through the king's commandment, by secret means he was put to death, being continued from Midsummer till Christmas, to the great decay of the city of London; which was A. D. 1393.

Thirdly, Another great cause which purchased the king much evil will amongst his subjects, was the secret murdering of his own uncle, named Thomas Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, of whom mention was made before; where was declared, how the said duke, with the earl of Arundel, the earl of Warwick, and the earl of Derby, with others, were up in armour against certain wicked counsellors about the king. Whereupon the king, watching afterwards his time, came into Chelmsford, and so to the place near by where the duke lay; where, strangled under a feather bed, the earl marshal being then the keeper of Calais, whereby great indignation rose in many men's hearts against the king.

Illustration -- the Murder of Thomas Woodstock

With the same duke of Gloucester, also, about the same time, were arrested and imprisoned the earl of Warwick and the earl of Arundel, who, being condemned by parliament, were then executed; whereby great grudge and great indignation rose in the hearts of many against the king, A. D. 1397.

Fourthly, To omit here the blank charts sent over all the land by the king, and how the king was said to let out his realm to farm: over and beside all these above premised befell another matter, which was the principal occasion of this mischief; the banishment, I mean, of Henry, earl of Derby, made duke of Hereford a little before, being son of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, who died shortly after the banishment of his son, and lieth buried in the church of St. Paul, in London, and the duke of Norfolk, who was before earl of Nottingham, and after, by the king, made duke of Norfolk the year before. At which time the king made five dukes, a marquis, and four earls; to wit, duke of Hereford, which was before earl of Derby; duke of Awmerle, which was before earl of Rutland; duke of Southrey, who was before earl of Kent; duke of Exeter, which was before earl of Huntingdon; and this duke of Norfolk, being before earl of Nottingham, as is aforesaid, &c. The occasion of banishing these aforesaid dukes was this:

About this present time the duke of Hereford did impeach the duke of Norfolk upon certain words to be spoken against the king: whereupon, casting their gloves one against the other, they appointed to fight out the quarrel, a day being for the same appointed at Coventry. But the king took up the matter in his own hands, banishing the duke of Norfolk for ever, who after died at Venice; and the other duke, which was the duke of Hereford, for ten years. Beside these, also was exiled into France Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, by act of parliament in the same year, for points of treason, as ye have heard before expressed above; all which turned to the great inconvenience of this king, as in the event following may appear.

These causes and preparatives thus premised, it followed the year after, which was A. D. 1399, and last year of this king, that the king, upon certain affairs to be done, took his voyage into Ireland. In which mean time Henry of Bolingbroke, earl of Derby and duke of Hereford, and with him the aforesaid archbishop, Thomas Arundel, which before were both exiled, returning out of France to Calais, came into England, challenging the dukedom of Lancaster, after the death of his father. With them also came the son and heir of the earl of Arundel, being yet but young. These together setting out of Calais, arrived at Ravenspur in the north; at the knowledge whereof much people gathered unto them.

In this mean time, as the duke was hovering on the sea to enter the land, Lord Edmund, duke of York, the king's uncle, to whom the king committed the custody of this realm, having intelligence thereof, called to him the bishop of Chichester, named Edmund Stafford, chancellor of the realm; and William Scrope, earl of Wiltshire, lord treasurer; also John Bushey, William Bagot, Henry Grene, and John Ruschell, with divers others, consulting with them what was best in that case to be done; who then gave their advice, whether wilful or unskilful it is not known, but very unfruitful, that he should leave London, and go to St. Alban's, there to wait for more strength, able to encounter with the duke. But, as the people out of divers quarters resorted thither, many of them protested that they would do nothing to the harm and prejudice of the duke of Lancaster, who, they said, was unjustly expulsed. The rest then of the council, John Bushey, William Bagot, Henry Grene, William Scrope, treasurer, hearing and understanding how the commons were minded to join with the duke of Hereford, left the duke of York and the lord chancellor, and fled to the castle of Bristol. Where it is to be understood, that these four were they, to whom the common fame ran, that the king had let out his realm to farm; and were so hated of the people, that it is to be thought, that for the hatred of them, more than for the king, this commotion was among the people.

As this broil was in England, the noise thereof sounding to the king's ears, being then in Ireland, for hasty speed of returning into England, he left in Ireland both his business, and most of his ordnance also behind him; and so, passing the seas, landed at Milford Haven, not daring, as it seemed, to come to London.

On the contrary side, unto Henry, duke of Hereford, being landed, as is said, in the north, came the earl of Northumberland, Lord Henry Percy, and Henry his son, the earl of Westmoreland, Lord Radulph Nevile, and other lords more to a great number, so that the multitude rose to sixty thousand, able soldiers; who, first making toward the castle of Bristol, took the aforesaid Bushey, Grene, Scrope, and Bagot, of whom three were immediately beheaded; Bagot escaped away, and fled away to Ireland.

The king, in this mean while, lying about Wales, destitute and desolate, without comfort or counsel; who neither durst come to London, neither would any man come to him; and perceiving, moreover, the commons, that were up in such a great power against him, would rather die than give over that they had begun, for fear of themselves; seeing therefore no other remedy, called to him Lord T. Percy, earl of Worcester, and steward of his household, willing him, with other of his family, to provide for themselves in time; who then openly in the hall brake his white rod before them all, commanding every man to shift for himself. Although Fabian and some others say, that he did this of his own accord, contrary to his allegiance. The king, compassed on every side with miseries, shifted from place to place, the duke still following him; till at length, being at the castle of Conway, the king desired to talk with Thomas Arundel, archbishop, and the earl of Northumberland; to whom he declared, that he would resign up his crown, on condition that an honourable living might be for him provided, and life promised to eight persons, such as he would name. Which being granted and ratified, but not performed, he came to the castle of Flint, whence, after talk had with the duke of Lancaster, he was brought the same night, by the duke and his army, to Chester, and from thence was conveyed secretly into the Tower, there to be kept till the next parliament. By the way, as he came near to London, divers evil-disposed men of the city being warned thereof, gathered themselves, thinking to have slain him, for the great cruelty he had used before toward the city; but, by the policy of the mayor and rulers of the city, the madness of the people was stayed. Not long after followed the duke, and also began the parliament: in which parliament the earl of Northumbcrland, with many other earls and lords, were sent to the king in the Tower, to take of him a full resignation, according to his former promise; and so they did. This done, divers accusations and articles were laid and engrossed against the said king, to the number of thirty-three, some say thirty-eight; which, for the matter not greatly material in them contained, I overpass: and the next year after, he was had to Pomfret Castle, and there famished to death.

{Ornamental Capital ?74}AND thus King Richard by common assent being deposed from his rightful crown, the duke of Lancaster was led by Thomas Arundel, the archbishop, to the seat royal; who there standing up, and crossing himself on the forehead and the breast, spake in words as followeth

"In the name of God, Amen. I Henry of Lancaster claim the realm of England and the crown, with all the appurtenances, as I that am descended by right line of the blood, coming from that good lord King Henry the Third, and, through the right that God of his grace hath sent to me, with the help of my kin and of my friends to recover thesame, which was in point to be undone for default of good governance, and due justice," &c.

After which words the archbishop, asking the assent of the people, being joyful of their new king, took the duke by the hand, and placed him in the kingly throne, which was A. D. 1399, and, shortly after, by the aforesaid archbishop, he was crowned also for king of England.

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