69. KING EDWARD II.DWARD, the second of that name, and son of Edward the First, born, as is aforesaid, at Carnarvon in Wales, after the departure of his father, entered the government of the land, A.D. 1307; but was not crowned before the next year following, A.D. 1308, by reason of the absence of Robert Winchelsea, who was banished by King Edward the First. Whereupon the king this present year writeth to the pope for the restitution of the said archbishop, for that, by an ancient law of the realm, the coronation of the king could not otherwise proceed without the archbishop of Canterbury. Which Edward, as he was personable in body and outward shape, so in conditions and evil dispositions much deformed; as unstedfast of his word, and light to disclose secrets of great counsel; also, refusing the company of his lords and men of honour, he much haunted among villains and vile personages; given moreover to overmuch drinking, and such vices as thereupon be wont to ensue. And as of his own nature he was to the said vices disposed, so was he much worse by the counsel and familiarity of certain evil-disposed persons, as first of Peter, or Pierce, Gaveston, before touched. Then, after him, of the two Spensers and other, whose wanton counsel he following, gave himself to the appetite and pleasure of his body; nothing ordering his commonwealth by gravity, discretion, and justice; which thing caused first great variance between him and his nobles, so that shortly he became to them odious, and in the end was deprived of his kingdom. In the first year he took to wife Isabel, daughter of Philip, king of France; with whom (the year after) he was crowned at Westminster by the bishop of Winchester, for that Robert Winchelsea, archbishop of Canterbury, was yet in exile not returned home. Notwithstanding, the barons and lords made first their request to the king to put Peter Gaveston from him, or else they would not consent to his coronation. Whereupon he was enforced to grant them at the next parliament to have their requests accomplished, and so he was crowned. In the mean season, the foresaid Peter, or Pierce, bearing himself of the king's favour bold, continued triumphing and setting at light all other states and nobles of the realm, so that he ruled both the king and the realm, and all things went as he would; neither had the king any delight else, or kept company with any, but with him; with him only he brake all his mind, and conferred all his counsels. This, as it seemed strange unto the lords and earls, so it inflamed their indignation so much against this Peter, that, through the exciting of the nobles, the bishops of the land did proceed in excommunication against the said Gaveston, unless he departed the land. Upon the occasion whereof the king, the same first year of his reign, being grieved with the bishops, writeth to the pope, complaining that they had proceeded to excommunication of the said Peter, unless he departed the realm within a time certain. The which letter of the king, what answer again it had from the pope, I find not set down in story. Over and besides, it befell in the said first year of the king, that the bishopric of York being vacant, the king gave the office of the treasure to one of his own clerks; whereof the pope having intelligence writeth to the king, commanding him to call back the same gift, and withal citeth up to Rome the said clerk, there to answer the matter to a nephew of one of his cardinals, upon whom he had bestowed the said dignity; whereunto the king maketh answer: "That if such citations and the execution of the same should proceed to the impeachment of our kingly jurisdiction, and to the prejudice of our lawful inheritance, and the honour of our crown, (especially if the deciding of such matters which principally concern our estate should be prosecuted in any other place than within this our realm, by any manner of ways, &c.,) certes, although we ourselves would wink thereat, or through sufferance permit matters so to pass our hands; yet the states and nobles of our kingdom, who upon allegiance are obliged and sworn to the protection and defence of the dignity of the crown of England, will in no wise suffer our right and the laws of the land so to be violated."
Besides this, the aforesaid pope wrote to the king, complaining that by certain counsellors of King Edward his father, lying sick, utterly ignorant thereof, a certain restraint was given out, charging his nuncios and legates, whom he had sent for the gathering of the first-fruits of the benefices vacant within the realm, not hereafter to intermeddle therewith, &c. Whereunto the king maketh answer:
"Most holy father, it hath been given you to understand otherwise than the truth of the matter is; for most true it is indeed that the foresaid inhibition was ratified by good act of parliament, holden at Karlin, upon certain causes concerning the execution of such collections, (the said our father not only being not ignorant, but also witting, willing, and of his own mere knowledge agreeing to the same,) in the presence not only of his own earls, barons, states, and commons of the realm, but also your legates and liegers being called thereunto."
Item, upon other letters brought from the pope to the king, for the installing of one Peter de Sabaudia his kinsman into the bishopric of Worcester, being then vacant, and withal requiring that if the said Peter would not accept thereof, the election should be referred to the prior and convent of the same place; the king therewith grieved, maketh answer by his letters to the pope and sundry his cardinals: "That forasmuch as elections of prelates, to be placed in cathedral churches within his kingdom, are not to be attempted without his licence first had and obtained;" therefore he could not abide that any such strange and unaccustomed reservations should or could take place in his realm without manifest prejudice of his kingly estate; requiring further, that he would not cause any such novelties to be brought in into his kingdom, contrary to that which his ancestors before him have accustomed to do.
Thus the time proceeded, and at length the parliament appointed came, A.D. 1310, which was the fourth of this king's reign. The articles were drawn by the nobles to be exhibited to the king, which articles were the same contained in Magna Charta and in Charta de Foresta above specified, with such other articles as his father had charged him with before; to wit, that he should remove from him and his court all aliens and perverse counsellors; and that all the matters of the commonwealth should be debated by common counsel of the lords, both temporal and spiritual; and that he should stir no war out of England in any other foreign realm without the common assent of the same, &c. The king perceiving their intent to be, as it was indeed, to sunder Peter Gaveston from his company, and seeing no other remedy, but needs he must yield and grant his consent, agreed that the said Gaveston should be banished into Ireland. And so the parliament breaking up, the lords returned to their own well appeased; although of the other articles they could not speed, yet that they had driven Peter Gaveston out of the realm at this time it did suffice them.
This Peter Gaveston was a certain gentleman's son of Gascony; whom being young King Edward the First, for the good service his father had done him in his wars, received to his court, and placed him with his son Edward, now reigning. Who, in process of time growing up with him, incensed and provoked him to much outrage and wantonness. By whose occasion first he began, in his father's days, to break the park of Walter bishop of Chester, then chancellor of England, and after executor to the king; for the which so doing the king, as is partly touched before, imprisoned his son, and condemned this Peter to perpetual banishment. Notwithstanding the young king, after the death of his father, as ye have heard, sent for this Gaveston again. And withal he so persecuted this fore-said bishop, that he clapped him in the Tower, and seized upon all his goods. Moreover, he caused most strait inquisition to be made upon him for guiding his office, wherein if the least crime might have been found, it would have cost him his life.
And thus much of Peter Gaveston, and of his origin. Now to the matter.
The king, thus separated from his old compeer, (that is, from the company of Peter Gaveston, now exiled into Ireland,) continued in great mourning and pensiveness, seeking by all means possible how to call him home again, and conferring with such as were about him upon the same; who did insinuate to the king, that forasmuch as the earl of Gloucester was a man well loved and favoured in all the realm, if a marriage might be wrought betwixt his sister and Peter Gaveston, it might be a mean both for him to obtain more friendship, and for the king to have his desire. To make short, Peter Gaveston in all haste was sent for, and the marriage, through the king's procuring, proceeded between the earl's sister and the foresaid Peter, albeit sore against the earl's mind. Gaveston, thus restored and dignified, was so surprised in pride and exaltation more than ever before, that he disdained and derided all other, whose rule and power more and more increased. Insomuch that he, having the guiding of all the king's jewels and treasure, conveyed out of the king's jewel-house at Westminster a table and a pair of tressels of gold unto merchants beyond sea, with other jewels more, to the great impoverishing both of the king and queen, and of the land. And over all that, he brought the king, by mean of his wanton conditions, to manifold vices, as adultery, and such other like. Wherefore the lords, seeing the mischief that daily increased by occasion of this unhappy man, took their counsel together at Lincoln, and there concluded to void him again out of England; so that shortly after he was exiled again, and went into Flanders; for in France or his own country he durst not appear, for fear of Philip, the French king, to whom the queen of England his daughter had sent over great complaints, of the said Gaveston; who had so impoverished her and the whole court, that she had not wherewith to maintain her estate. Upon which complaint the French king through all his dominions laid strait watch to apprehend the said Gaveston; but he, not unwarned thereof, secretly coasted into Flanders, from whence it was not long but he was fetched again by the king, as in further process followeth; so much was the king's heart infatuated by this wicked person.
About this year, or the next before, came in first the Crouched Friars; and also first began the knights of the order of St. John Baptist, otherwise called the knights of Rhodes, for that they by manly knighthood put out the Turks from the Isle of Rhodes.
Illustration -- Knights Templar burnt at the stake
In the history of King Edward, this king's father, before precedent, mention was made of Pope Clement the Fifth, who succeeded after Benedict; also of putting down of the Templars, which in this year happened by means of the French king.; who, as he caused to be burned in the city of Paris this year fifty-four Templars, with the great master of the same order; so, by his procurement the foresaid Pope Clement, called a council at Vienna, whre the whole order and sect of Templars, being condemned, was shortly after by the consent of all Christian kings deposed all in one day. After whom the French king thought to make his son king of Jerusalem, and to convert to him all the lands of the said.Templars. But Clement the pope would not thereto agree, transferring all their lands to the order of Hospitallers, for the great sum of money given for the same. The cause why these impious Templars were put down was so abominable and filthy, that for the reverence of chaste ears it were better not told, if it be true that some write.
Another matter worthy to be noted, of like abomination, I thought here to insert, touching a certain nunnery in France called Provines, within the which, at the cleansing and casting of a fishpond, were found many bones of young children, and the bodies also of some infants as yet whole unconsumed; upon occasion whereof divers of the nuns of the said nunnery, to the number of twenty-seven,were had to Paris, and there imprisoned; what became of them afterward I find not in mine author.
In the same council also was decreed by the said Clement, that all religious orders exempted should be subject under the common laws as other were. But the Cistercian monks with money and great gifts redeemed their privileges and exemption of the pope, and so had them granted. These Cistercians sped better herein than did the Minorites of the Franciscans in their suit. Of which Franciscans, when certain of them had offered unto the said Pope Clement forty thousand florins of gold, beside other silver, that the pope would dispense with them to have lands and possessions against their rule; the pope asked them where was that money. They answered, In the merchant-men's hands. So the space of three days being given them to bring forth these merchants, the pope absolved the merchants of their bond made to the friars, and commanded all that money to be employed and reverted to his use; declaring to the friars, that he would not infringe or violate the rule of St. Francis lately canonized, neither ought he to do it for any money. And thus the beggarly rich friars lost both their money and their indulgence.
Concerning this Pope Clement the Fifth, Sabellicus writeth, that he excommunicated the Venetians, for aiding and preferring of Azoda unto the state of Ferraria; and wrote his letters throughout all Europe, condemning them as enemies of the church, and giving their goods as a lawful prey unto all men; which caused them to sustain great harm. But Francis Dandulus, a nobleman of Venice, being ambassador from the Venetians to the said Clement, for the obtaining of their absolution and safeguard of their city and country, and for the pacifying of the pope's fury toward them, was fain so to humble himself before this proud, tyrannical prelate, that he suffered a chain of iron to be tied about his neck, and he to lie down flat before his table, and so to catch the bones and fragments that fell from his table, as it had been a dog, till the pope's fury was towards them assuaged; so that after that he, in reproach, because he so humbled himself for the behalf and helping of his country, was of some called a dog. But the city of Venice showed themselves not unkind again to Dandulus for his gentle good will declared to his country; for as he had abased himself before in the vile and ignominious condition of a dog for his country's sake; so they extolled him with as much glory again being returned home, decking and adorning him after the best array, with the chief princely ornaments of the city, to make him amends for his former reproach received.
Concerning the Constitutions of this Pope Clement, and of his Decretals and Clementines, and how Henricus the emperor in his days was poisoned in receiving of the sacrament, ye have heard before. About this time Robert Winchelsea, archbishop of Canterbury, (whom this king's father had banished before,) was released and returned home from Rome.
These things thus declared, let us proceed (by the Lord's grace) to the next year, which is of the Lord 1311, and the fifth year of this king's reign. In the which year, counting the year from Michaelmas to the same feast again, as then the usage of the realm was, Peter Gaveston, who had wandered the countries about, and could find no safe resting-place, (notwithstanding he was utterly banished, upon forfeiting life and goods, out of the realm, yet trusting upon the king's favour, and the good will of the earl of Gloucester, whose sister he had married,) secretly returning into England with a certain company of strangers, presented himself to the king's sight. At the beholding of whom the king for joy ran to him, and embracing him, did not only retain him, but also for his sake undid all such acts as had been in the parliament before enacted. The queen and the whole court, seeing this doting of the king, made a heavy Christmas. After this return of Gaveston was noised among the commons, the peers and nobles of the realm were not a little stirred, casting with themselves what way were best to take. If he were suffered still, they saw not only themselves rejected, but also that the queen could not enjoy the love of the king, neither could there be any quietness in the realm. Again, to stir up war in the land, it were not the best; to vex or disquiet the king also they were afraid. But forasmuch as they could not abide all the nobility so to be thrust out and vilipended for the love of one stranger, and also the realm so to be spoiled and impoverished by the same; this way they took, that Thomas, earl of Lancaster, should be elected among them the chieftain, and chief doer in that business; to whom all other earls, and barons, and prelates also did concordly condescend and consent, except only Walter, bishop of Coventry, whom Robert the archbishop therefore afterward did excommunicate. Which Thomas of Lancaster, by the public assent of the rest, sent to the king, lying then at York, humble petitions, in the name as well of the whole nobility as of the commons; desiring his Grace to give the foresaid Gaveston unto them, or else, according to the ordinance of the realm, that the land might be avoided of him. But the tyrannous king, who set more by the love of one stranger than by his whole realm beside, neither would hearken to their counsel, nor give place to their supplications; but in all hasty fury removed from York to Newcastle, where he remained almost till Midsummer.
In the mean season the barons had gathered a host of sufficient and able soldiers, coming toward Newcastle; not intending any molestation against the king, but only the execution of the laws upon the wicked Gaveston. The king, having wherewith to resist their power, removeth in all speedy manner to Teignmouth, where the queen lay. And hearing there that Newcastle was taken, he taketh shipping and saileth from thence; (notwithstanding the queen there, being great with child, with weeping tears and all instance desireth him to tarry with her, as safely he might;) but he, nothing relenting to her, took Peter his compeer with him, and coasted over to the castle of Scarborough; where he leaving Peter Gaveston to the safe keeping of his men, himself journeyeth toward the coast beside Warwick. The lords, hearing where Peter was, bend thither all their power; so that at length Gaveston, seeing no remedy but he must needs come into their hands, yieldeth and submitteth himself; requiring none other condition, but only that he might talk but a few words with the king in his presence. Thus Gaveston being apprehended, the king hearing thereof sendeth unto the lords, requiring his life to be spared; and that he might be brought to his speech; and promised, that in so doing he would satisfy their minds and requests, whatsoever. About this advisement was taken; but then the earl of Pembroke, hearing the king's promise, persuaded the barons to grant unto his petition; promising himself, upon losing all his lands, to take the charge upon him to be brought unto the king's speech, and so to be recommitted to them again. Which when he had obtained, he taketh Peter Gaveston with him, to bring him where the king lay. And so coming to Dedington, not far from Warwick, he leaveth him in the keeping of his soldiers, while he that night went to his wife, being not far off from thence.
The same night it chanced Guido, the earl of Warwick, to come to the same place where Gaveston was left; who, taking him out of the hands of his keepers, carrieth him to the castle of Warwick, where incontinently they would have put him to death; but, doubting and fearing the king's displeasure, a little they stayed. At that time one of the company, (a man of sage and wise counsel, as mine author writeth,) standing up among them, with his grave oration declareth the nature of the man, the wickedness of his own condition, the realm by him so greatly endamaged, the nobles despised and rejected, the pride and ambition of the man intolerable, the ruin of things like to ensue by him, and the great charges and expenses they had been at in so long pursuing and getting of him; and now being gotten and in their hands, he exhorteth them so to use and take the occasion now present, that hereafter, being out of their hands, they afterward might seek, and should not find it.
Briefly, in such sort he persuaded the hearers, that forthwith he was brought out, and by common agreement beheaded in a place called Blakelow; which place in stories I find to be called Gaveshead; but that name, as I think, was derived upon this occasion afterward. And thus he, that before had called the earl of Warwick the black dog of Ardeine, was thus by the said dog worried, as ye have heard, &c. His carcass the Dominic friars of Oxford had in their monastery interred the space of two years; but after that the king caused the same carcass to be taken, up and buried within his own manor of Langley.
After this, great disturbance began to rise between the king and the lords; who, having their power lying about Dunstable, sent stout message unto the king at London, to have their former acts confirmed. Gilbert, earl of Gloucester, the king's nephew, who neither did hold against the king, nor yet against the nobles, with the bishops and prelates of the realm, went between both parties with great diligence to make unity. At which time also came two cardinals from Rome, with letters sent unto them from the pope. The nobles answered to the message of the cardinals, lying then at St. Albans, that as touching themselves, they should be at all times welcome to them; but as touching their letters, forasmuch as they were men unlettered, and only brought up in war and feats of arms, therefore they cared not for seeing the same. Then message was sent again, that they would grant at least but to speak with the pope's legates, which purposely came for the intent to set quiet and unity in the realm. They answered again, that they had bishops both godly and learned, by whose counsel they would be led only, and not by any strangers, who knew not the true cause of their commotion. And therefore they said precisely, that they would have no foreigners or aliens to be doers in their business and affairs pertaining to the realm. Yet notwithstanding, through the mediation of the archbishop, and of the earl of Gloucester, the matter at length was so taken up, that the barons should restore to the king, or his attorney of St. Albans, all the treasure, horses, and jewels of the foresaid Gaveston taken at Newcastle, and so their requests should be granted. And so was the matter at that time composed.
Shortly upon the same Isabella the queen was delivered of a fair child at Windsor, whom Louis the French king's son, the queen's brother, with other Frenchmen there present, would have to be called by the name of the French king; but the English lords were contrary, willing him to be called by the name of Edward his father. At the birth of which Edward great rejoicing was through all the land; and especially the king his father so much joyed thereat, that he began daily more and more to forget the sorrow and remembrance of Gaveston's death, and was after that more agreeable to the will of his nobles.
Thus peace and concord between them began to be in a good towardness; which more and more might have been confirmed in wearing out of time, had not Satan, the author and sower of discord, stirred up his instruments, (certain Frenchmen, titivillers and make-baits about the king,) which ceased not, in carping and depraving the nobles, to inflame the king's hatred and grudge against them. By the exciting of whom, the old quarrels being renewed afresh, the king in his parliament, called upon the same, began to charge the foresaid barons and nobles with sedition and rebellion, and for slaying Peter Gaveston. Neither were the nobles less stout again in defending their cause, declaring that they in so doing had deserved rather thank and favour with the king than any displeasure, in vanquishing such a public enemy of the realm; who not only had spoiled and wasted the king's substance, but also raised much disturbance in the realm. And forasmuch as they had begun with the matter to their so great labours and expenses, they would proceed further, they said, not ceasing till they saw an end thereof. To be short, great threats there were on both parts, and a foul matter like to have followed. But again, through the diligent mediation of the queen, the prelates, and the aforesaid earl of Gloucester, the matter was taken up and brought to reconcilement upon these conditions; that the lords and barons openly in Westminster Hall should, humble themselves before the king, and ask pardon there of their doings, and every man there to receive a letter of the king's pardon for their indemnity and assurance. And so passed over that year, within the which year died Robert Winchelsea, archbishop of Canterbury. In whose room Thomas Cobham was elected by the king and church of Canterbury to succeed; but the pope, frustrating the election, placed Walter Reinold, bishop of Worcester.
In the mean time the Scots, hearing this civil discord in the realm, began to be busy, and to rebel of new through the means of Robert Bruce; who being chased out of Scotland by King Edward the First, as is above premised, into Norway, was now returned again into. Scotland; where he demeaned himself in such sort to the lords there, that in short process he was again made king of the realm, and warred so strongly upon them that took the king's part, that he won from them many castles and strong holds; and invaded the borders of England. The king hearing this, assembleth a great power, and by water entereth the realm of Scotland. Against whom encountered Robert de Bruce with his Scots at Estrivelin, where was fought a strong battle; in the end whereof the Englishmen were discomfited, and so eagerly pursued by the Scots, that many of the noblemen were slain, as the earl of Gloucester, Sir Robert Clifford, Sir Edmund Maule, with other lords, to the number of forty-two, and knights and barons two hundred and twenty-seven, besides men of name, which were taken prisoners; of common soldiers ten thousand, or, after the Scottish story, fifty thousand slain. After which time, Sir Robert Bruce reigned as king of Scotland.
About which time, and in which year, died Pope Clement, who, keeping in the realm of France, never came to the see of Rome; after whose death the papacy stood void two years.
The Scots after this, exalted with pride and fierceness, invaded the realm of England so sore, killing and destroying man, woman, and child, that they came winning and wasting the north parts as far as to York. Besides this, such dearth of victuals, and penury of all things, so oppressed the whole land, such murrain of sheep and oxen, as men were fain to eat horse-flesh, dogs, cats, mice, and what else they could get. Moreover, such a price of corn followed withal, that the king hardly had bread for the sustentation of his own household. Moreover, some there were that did steal children and eat them, and many for lack of victual died. And yet all this amended not the king of his evil living.
The cause and origin of this great dearth, was partly the wars and dissension between them and the Scots, whereby a great part of the land was wasted. But the chiefest cause was the intemperate season of the year; which, contrary to the common course, was so moist with abundance of rain, that the grain laid in the earth could have no ripening by heat of the sun, nor grow to any nourishment. Whereby they that had to eat could not be satisfied with saturity, but eftsoons were as hungry again. They that had nothing were driven to steal and rob; the rich were constrained to avoid and diminish their households; the poor for famine died. And not so much the want of victual,which could not be gotten, as the unwholesomeness of the same when it was taken, so consumed the people, that the quick were not sufficient to bury the dead. For the corruption of the meats, by reason of the unseasonableness of the ground, was so infectious, that many died of the flux, many of hot fevers, divers of the pestilence. And not only the bodies of men thereby were infected, but also the beasts by the putrefaction of the herbs and grass fell into as great a murrain; so far forth, as that the eating of flesh was suspected and thought contagious. A quarter of corn and salt, from the month of June to September, grew from thirty shillings unto forty shillings. The flesh of horses was then precious to the poor. Many were driven to steal fat dogs, and to eat them; some were said in secret corners to eat their own children. Some would steal other men's children to kill them and eat them privily. The prisoners and thieves that were in bands for hunger fell upon such as were newly brought in unto them, and tearing them in pieces did eat them half alive. Briefly, this extreme penury had extinguished and consumed, as it was thought, the greatest part of the people of the land, had not the king by the advice of the Londoners given forth commandment through-all his land, that no corn should at that time be turned to the making of drink. Such a Lord is God, thus able to do where he is disposed to strike. And yet we miserable creatures, in our wealth and abundance, will not cease daily to provoke his terrible Majesty.
But let us return to the order again of our story. After the Scots had thus plagued miserably, as ye have heard, the realm of England, they invaded also Ireland, where they kept and continued war the space of four years. But, in fine, the Irishmen, by aid sent to them from England, quit themselves so well, that they vanquished the Scots, and slew Edward Bruce, and many of the nobles of Scotland, with many other, and drove the residue out of the country.
The king, about the twelfth year of his reign, assembled a new host and went into Scotland, where he laid siege to Berwick. But in the mean time the Scots by another way invaded the merchants of Yorkshire, robbing and harrying the country, and they slew much people. Wherefore the archbishop of York, and other abbots, priors, clerks, with husbandmen, assembled a great company, and gave them battle at a place called Mitton, where the Englishmen were discomfited, and many of them slain; but the archbishop, and the abbot of Selby, and divers others there escaped. But because there were so many spiritual men there slain, it was called therefore the white battle. By reason whereof, the king, hearing of this, and partly because winter did approach, was constrained to break up his siege, and so returned, not without great danger.
At this time the two Spensers (Sir Hugh Spenser, the father, and Hugh Spenser, the son) were of great power in England, and by the favour of the king practised such cruelty, and bare themselves so haughtily and proud, that no lord of this land might gainsay them in any thing that they thought good, whereby they were in great hatred and indignation, both with the nobles and the commons, no less than Peter Gaveston was before.
Soon upon this, came two legates from Rome, sent by Pope John the Twenty-second, under pretence to set agreement between England and Scotland; who, for their charges and expenses, required of every spiritual person four pence in every mark. But all their labour nothing availed; for the legates, as they were in the north parts (about Darlington) with their whole family and train, were robbed and despoiled of their horses, treasure, apparel, and what else they had, and with an evil-favoured handling retired back again to Durham, where they stayed a while waiting for an answer from the Scots. But when neither the pope's legacy nor his curse would take any place with the Scots, they returned again to London, where they first excommunicated and cursed as black as soot all those arrogant and presumptuous robbers of Northumberland. Secondly, for supplying of the losses received, they exacted of the clergy to be given and paid unto them eight pence in every mark. But the clergy thereunto would not agree, seeing it was their own covetousness (as they said) that made them venture further than they needed. Only they were contented to relieve them after four pence in a mark, as they promised before; further they would not grant. Whereof the king being advertised, and taking part with his clergy, directed his letters to the said legates in form as followeth:
"The king to Master Rigand of Asserio, canon of Aurelia, greeting. We have taken notice of the clamours and lamentable petitions of the subjects of our realm, perceiving by the same that you practise many and sundry inconveniences very strange, never heretofore accustomed nor heard of in this our realm, as well against the clergy and ecclesiastical persons, as against the laity, even to the utter oppression and impoverishing of many our liege people, which if it should be winked at, (as God forbid,) may in process of time be occasion of greater perils to ensue; whereat we are (not without cause) moved, and not a little grieved; we forbid you therefore, that from henceforth you practise not, nor presume in any case to attempt, any thing within this our realm, either against our clergy or laity, that may any manner of way tend to the prejudice of our royal person, or of our crown and dignity regal. Witness the king at Windsor the sixth day of February, in the eleventh year of his reign."
Likewise in the same year the said king writeth to the same effect to the archbishop of Canterbury, as followeth:
"The king to the reverend father in God, W., by the same grace archbishop of Canterbury, primate of England, greeting. We are credibly informed by many our subjects, that certain strange impositions, never heard of before within any our dominions, upon lands and tenements, goods and chattels, concerning the testaments and cases of matrimony,. are brought into our realm to be executed upon our subjects by you or some others; which, if it should proceed to execution, would manifestly tend to the disherison and impeachment of our crown and dignity regal, and the intolerable damage of the subjects of our realm, to the due preservation of the which you are bound by solemn oath of allegiance. We therefore command and straitly charge you that you proceed not in any case to the execution of any such letters, either in your own person or by any other, nor yet presume by colour of the same to attempt any thing that may be prejudicial or hurtful to our crown or dignity regal. And if you, or any other in your name, have done or attempted any thing by colour of the same, that ye call back and revoke the same forthwith without delay. Witness the king at Shene the seventeenth of February, the eleventh year of his reign."
The like letters in effect were directed to the archbishop of York, and to every other bishop through England. By force of which letters the greedy legates, being restrained of their ravening purpose, taking what they could get, and settling a peace, such as it was, between the king and the earl of Lancaster, were fain to pack.
Besides the restraint above mentioned for strange impositions, there followed moreover the same year. the king's prohibition for the gathering of Peter pence, directed to the foresaid legate, the tenor whereof followeth.
A prohibition of Peter pence.
"The king to Master Rigand of Asserio, canon of of Aurelia, greeting. We are given to understand that you do demand and purpose to levy the Peter penny within our realm, otherwise than the said Peter penny hath been heretofore accustomed to be levied in the time of any our progenitors, exercising herein grievous censures ecclesiastical, to the great annoyance and damnifying of the subjects of our realm; for present remedy whereof our loving subjects have made their humble supplication unto us. And forasmuch as the said Peter penny hath been hitherto accustomed to be gathered and levied upon lands and tenements within our realm after a due manner and form, we, not willing that any such unaccustomed impositions shall in any wise be made upon the lands and tenements of any our subjects within our dominions, prohibit you, upon grievous pain, straitly charging that in no wise you presume to exact, gather, or levy the said Peter penny in any other form or manner than hath been heretofore accustomed to be gathered and levied in the time of our progenitors, or since the beginning of our. reign, until further order be taken in our high court of parliament by the advice of the nobles and peers of our realm, such as may well be taken without prejudice of our crown and damage of subjects. Witness the king at Westminster the first day of March."
To the same effect letters were directed to the archbishops, deans, archdeacons, and the rest of the clergy.
Touching the first original of which Peter pence,though mention be made before in the life of King Offa, and others; yet to make a brief recapitulation of the same, according to the rolls as they come to our hands, thus it followeth. It is thus found recorded in ancient Chronicles touching the Peter pence of St. Peter, A.D. 187. Offa, king of Mercia, travelled up to Rome in the time of Pope Adrian the First, to obtain the canonizing of St. Alban. And having performed his vow, visiting the college of English students which then flourished in Rome, he did give to the maintenance of the scholars of England, students in Rome, one penny out of every tenement within this realm that had land belonging to the same, amounting to the yearly value of thirty pence. And for this his munificence he obtained of the Pope Adrian, that no person within his dominion public, repenting him for not performing enjoined penance, should therefore be banished.
Concerning which Peter pence, it is touched in the laws of King Edward the saint, chap. x., when, where, of whom, under what pain this Peter pence must be gathered, being but the king's mere alms, as is aforesaid. And thus much touching Peter pence. Now for other letters written by the king to the pope, the same year, for other matters, as craving the pope's help in compounding the variance betwixt the two archbishops,of Canterbury and York, for bearing the cross from the one province to the other, thus it followeth; that the king grievously complaineth, that such hurly-burly and uproar arose thereof, that they could not meet together in one place, through the great multitude of armed men, assistants on both parts, in the very bearing of the cross, to the great disturbance of the people.
Now after this long digression to turn to our English matters again. Mention was made before of the.variance between the king, and the earl of Lancaster, and of a peace concluded between them. But this peace did not long endure; which the king by his own default did break; sending to the Scots a privy messenger (which was taken in the way) to have the foresaid earl of Lancaster by their means made away.
In the mean time the lords and nobles of England, detesting the outrageous pride of the Spensers, whereby they wrought daily both great dishonour to the king, and hinderance to the commonwealth, in such wise conspired against them, that, gathering their power together, they made a request to the king, that he should remove the Spensers from his person. For the which there was a parliament called at London, and the barons came together with a great company. At the which parliament both the Spensers were banished the land for term of their lives; and they took shipping at Dover, and so voided the land. But it was not long after but the king (contrary to the ordinance made in the parliament) sent for the Spensers again, and set them in high authority; and they ruled all things after their sensual appetites, nothing regarding justice nor the commonwealth. Wherefore the barons, intending again to reform this mischief, assembled their powers; but the king (making so hasty speed, and gathering his people so soon) was stronger than they, and pursued them so in divers places, that the barons, not fully joined together, (some flying, and some departing to the king, some slain by the way,) in the end were chased so eagerly, that in short space the foresaid Thomas, earl of Lancaster, was taken and put to death with the rest of the nobility, to the number of two and twenty of the greatest men and chiefest captains of this realm. Of whom only Thomas, earl of Lancaster, for the nobility of his blood, was beheaded; all the other lords and barons were hanged, drawn, and quartered, &c. Which bloody unmercifulness of the king toward his natural subjects, not only procured to him dishonour within the realm, but also turned afterward to his much more greater harm and hinderance in his foreign wars against the Scots; and finally wrought his utter confusion, and overthrow of his seat royal, as in the sequel of his end appeared, and worthily.
After the ruin of these noble personages, the king, as though he had gotten a great conquest, (who then indeed began first to be overcome and conquered himself, when he so oppressed and cut off the strength and sinews of his chivalry,) began to triumph not little with the Spensers, and to count himself sure as though he were in heaven, to exercise more sharp severity upon his subjects, trusting and committing all to the counsel only of the fore-said Spensers; insomuch that both the queen and the residue of the other nobles could little be regarded. Who, as they grew ever in more contempt with the king, so they increased in more hatred against the Spensers; but strength and ability lacked to work their will.
The next year, the king being at York, after he had made Sir Hugh Spenser earl, and Sir John Baldock, a man of evil fame, to be chancellor of England, he then arreared a mighty host against the Scots. But for lack of skilful guiding, expert captains, and for want specially of due provision of victuals necessary for such an army, the great multitude, to the number reckoned of a hundred thousand, wandering through Scotland, from whence the Scots had conveyed all their goods and cattle into mountains and marshes, were so pinched and starved with famine, that a great part of the army there presently perished; and they that returned home, as soon as they tasted of meats, escaped not. The king, not having resistance of his enemies, and seeing such a destruction of his subjects, was forced without any act done to retire. But in his retiring Sir James Douglas and the Scots, having knowledge thereof, pursued him in such wise, that they slew many Englishmen, and had well near taken the king himself. After which distress the king, thus beaten and wearied with the Scots, would fain have joined in truce with the Scots; but because they stood excommunicate by the pope, he, standing in fear thereof, desireth licence to entreat with them of peace, the said excommunication notwithstanding; which licence being obtained, a treaty was appointed by commissioners on both parts at Newcastle, at the feast of St. Nicolas next ensuing, and so truce was taken for twelve years. Whereupon this is to be noted by the way, gentle reader, not unworthy of observation, that whereas in former times, and especially of the late King Edward the First, so long as the Scots were under the pope's blessing, and we in displeasure with his Holiness for dealing with them, so long we prevailed mightily against them, even to the utter subversion in manner of their whole state. But now, so soon as the pope took our part, and the Scots were under his curse and excommunication, then got they greater victories against us, than at any time either before or since, insomuch as being before not able to defend themselves against us, they now pursued us into the bowels of our country.
The king, purposing to erect a house of Friars Augustines within the town of Boston in Lincolnshire first paid the pope's licence in that behalf.
Polydore Virgil, among other histories of our English nation which he intermeddleth withal, prosecuting also the acts and life of this present king, and coming to write of the queen's going over into France, inferreth much variety and diversity of authors and story-writers concerning the cause thereof. Otherwise, he giveth himself no true certainty of that matter, neither yet toucheth he that which was the cause indeed. By reason partly, that he, being an Italian and a foreigner, could not understand our English tongue; and partly again, being but one man, neither could he alone come to the sight of all our Latin authors. One I am sure came not to his perusing, an old ancient Latin history fair written in parchment, but without name, belonging to the library of William Cary, citizen of London. In which story the truth of this matter, without all ambiguity, is there fully and with all circumstances expressed, as here briefly is inserted.
The king of England had been divers and sundry times cited up to the court of France to do homage to the French king, for the dukedom of Aquitaine, and other lands which the king then held of France. Which homage because the king of England refused to tender, the French king began to enter all such possessions as the king then did hold in France; whereupon great contention and conflicts there were on both sides. At length, in this year now present, a parliament was called at London; where, after much altercation, at last it was determined, that certain should be sent over, to wit, the bishops of Winchester and Norwich, and the earl of Richmond, to make agreement betwixt the two kings. For the better help and fortification of which agreement, it was thought good afterward that Queen Isabella, sister to Charles, then the French king, should be sent over. Where is to be noted, first, that the queen's lands, possessions, and castles, a little before, upon the breach between the French king and the king of England, were seized into the king's hands, and the queen put unto her pension, &c. Thus the queen, being sent over with a few to attend upon her, only Sir John Cromwell, baron, and four knights, took their passage into France; by whose mediation it was there concluded, that the king of England, if he would not himself come to do his homage, should give to his son Edward the dukedom of Aquitaine, and the earldom of Pontigny, and so he to come to make his homage to the king, and to possess the same. This being in France concluded, was sent over by message to the king of England, with the king's letters patent adjoined for the safe conduct of him or of his son. Upon this, deliberation was taken in the council of England. But the two Spensers, fearing either to take the seas with the king, or else without the king to remain behind, for fear of the nobles, so appointed, that Prince Edward, the king's son, was sent, which happened after to their utter desolation, as it followed. For all things being quieted and ordered according to the agreement in France, King Edward of England, soon after Michaelmas, sendeth for his wife and his son again out of France. But she, sending home most part of her family, refuseth herself to return: for what cause it is not fully certain, whether for indignation that her possessions and lands were seized to the king, as is before premised; or whether for fear and hatred of the Spensers, as is likely; or else for love and familiarity of Sir Roger Mortimer. For here is to be noted, that the said Sir Roger Mortimer, with divers other of the barons' part, which had broken prison in England, were fled before into France, and now resorted unto the queen. The king, seeing this, giveth forth in proclamation, and limiteth a certain day to the queen and his son to return; or else to be proclaimed traitors to the king and to the realm. Notwithstanding the queen, persisting in her purpose, denieth to return, unless the other nobles which were fled might be permitted safely also to return with her. Whereupon the king immediately caused them both to be proclaimed traitors, and all them that took their parts.
Here then began great hatred between king and king, between the king and the queen, much preparation of war, great spoiling on the sea, much sending between the pope and them; but that would not serve. Then the king, by the counsel of the Spensers, sendeth privily to procure the death of the queen and of his son; which should be wrought by the execution of the earl of Richmond, the queen's familiar. But as the Lord would, that imagination was prevented and utterly frustrated. Albeit, the queen yet notwithstanding (whether misdoubting what corruption of money might do in the court of France; or whether the French king, being threatened by the king of England and by the pope, durst not detain her) removed from thence, and was received, with Edward her son, joyously and honourably in the court or country of the earl of Heinault. Where, by means of such as were about her, a marriage was concluded between the said Edward, her son, being of the age of fourteen years, and Philip, the aforesaid earl's daughter. When this was noised in England, divers men of honour and name came over to the queen. And soon after the earl of Heinault prepared a crew of five hundred men of arms to set over the young prince with his mother into England. Of this the fame sprang shortly through the realm. Wherefore the king, in all defensible ways, made provision to have the havens and ports of his land surely kept, to resist the landing of his enemies. On the contrary side, the queen with no less preparation provideth all things to her expedition necessary. Who, when she saw her time, speeding herself to the sea coast with Prince Edward her son, Lord Edmund, earl of Kent, the king's brother, Sir Roger Mortimer, the Lord Wygmore, and other exiles of England, accompanied also with the aforesaid Heinaulters, of whom Sir John of Heinault, the earl's brother, was captain, having with her of Englishmen and strangers the number of two thousand seven hundred and fifty-seven soldiers; she took shipping in those parts, and had the wind so favourable, that they landed in England at a port called Orwell, beside Harwich, in Suffolk, in the dominion of the earl marshal, the month of September. To whom, after her landing, resorted earl marshal the earl of Leicester, with other, barons, knights, and bishops also; namely, of Lincoln, Hereford, Durham, and Ely. The archbishop of Canterbury, though he came not himself, yet sent his aid and money. Thus the queen, well furnished with plenty both of men and victual, setteth forward toward London; so that the further she came, the more her number daily increased, and the king's power contrarily decreased; insomuch that, as mine author affirmeth, not one almost in all the realm could he hire with any wages to fight on the king's behalf against the queen. Neither did the queen's army hurt any man or child, either in goods or any other thing, by the way.
At the arriving of the queen the king was in London which first would not believe it to be true. Afterward, seeing and perceiving how it was, he asketh help of the Londoners; who, after mature advisement, rendered this answer to the king again: that as touching the king, the queen, and their son, the lawful heir of the kingdom, they were ready with all duty and service to honour and obey. As for strangers and traitors to the realm, they would receive none such within their city gates. Furthermore, to go out of the city to fight, that they said they:would not, unless it were so, that, according to the liberties of their city, they might return home again before sun-set. The king, hearing this answer, (which liked him not well,) fortifieth the Tower of London with men and victual, committing the custody thereof to John Ealtham his younger son, and to the wife of Hugh Spenser, his niece; and leaving Walter Stapleton, bishop of Exeter, behind him to have the rule of the city of London, he himself hearing daily the great recourse of the people that drew to the queen, for more safeguard to himself, fled with a small company westward toward Wales. But before his departing from London he caused a proclamation to be made, wherein all and singular persons were charged, upon forfeit of life and goods, every man with all his power to rise and invade the rebels and destroy them all, only the life of the queen, his son, and his brother, reserved. Also that no man, upon pain aforesaid, should help, rescue, or relieve the said rebels, with goods, victuals, or otherwise. Item, it was also proclaimed, that whosoever would bring to the king the head and body of Sir Roger Mortimer, either dead or alive, should have out of the king's coffers a thousand pounds.
In contrariwise, the queen setteth forth another proclamation, wherein it was forbidden to take or spoil violently the value of any man's goods against the will of the owner, under pain of losing his finger,if it were three pence; of his hand, if it were six pence; of his head, if it were twelve pence. Moreover, whosoever would bring to the queen the head of Hugh Spenser the younger, chopped off from his body, should receive, for so doing, of the queen, two thousand pounds. This done, the queen sendeth her letters to the city of London for aid and succour to subdue the oppressor of the realm, to the which letters first no answer was made. Again she wrote the second letter, which was then tacked upon the cross in Cheap, which was then called the new cross. The copy and tenor of which letter was this:
"Isabella, by the grace of God, queen of England, lady of Ireland, and countess of Pountif, and we, Edward, the first son of the king of England, duke of Guienne, earl of Chester, of Pountif, and of Mounstrell, to the mayor and all the commonalty of London, send greeting. Forasmuch as we have before this time sent to you by Our letters, and how we come into this land in good array, and good manner, for the profit of holy church, and of our right dear lord and king, and all the realm, with all our might and strength to keep and maintain the realm, as all good people ought to do; and upon that we prayed you and desired you that ye would be helping to us for the health and profit of the realm; and we have had none answer of you, nor knew not your will in that part: wherefore we send to you again, and pray you, and charge you, that ye bear you so toward us, that ye have nor make us no cause to grieve, but that ye be helping to us in all the ways that you may. And weet ye well in certain, that we, and also those that come with us into this realm, intend nothing to be done, but what shall be pleasing to God, and the common profit to all the realm; not any thing else, but to destroy the Spensers, enemies to the realm, as ye well know. Wherefore we pray and charge you in the faith that ye owe to our lord the king, to the crown, and to us, and upon all that we may forfeit, that if Hugh Spenser, both the father and the son, our enemies, come within your power, that ye cause them hastily to be taken and safely kept, till we have ordained for them our will, as ye desire profit and honour of us, and of the realm. Understanding well, if it be so that ye do our desire and prayer, we shall the more be beholden to you; and also we shall do you profit and worship if that you send us hastily word again of your will. Given at Baldock, the sixth day of October."
These aforesaid letters being published and perused, the bishop of Exeter, to whom, as ye heard, was committed the rule of the city, sent to the mayor for the keys of the gates, using so sharp words in the king's name, that variance began to kindle between him and the citizens; so tar forth that the commons in their rage took the foresaid bishop and beheaded him and two of his household at the Standard in Cheap. Then the king went to Bristol, and ordained Sir Hugh Spenser, the father, there to keep the castle and the town; and the king, with Hugh Spenser, the son, and Sir Robert Baldock, chancellor, and the earl of Arundel, went into Wales. And the queen so pursued them, that first they took the town, yielded up to her; then they took Sir Hugh Spenser the father, whom, being drawn and torn, they at last hanged up at Bristol in chains of iron. As the king was thus flying, the queen caused to be proclaimed through her army that the king should come and appear, and so receive his kingdom again, if he would be comfortable to his liege subjects. Who when he did not appear, Prince Edward his son was proclaimed high keeper of the realm.
In the mean time Henry, earl of Lancaster, and brother to the good Earl Thomas which before was beheaded, also Lord William Souch, and Master Uphowel, were sent by the queen into Wales to pursue the king; and there they took him, and sent him to the castle of Kenilworth; and took Hugh Spenser, the son, and Sir Robert Baldock, chancellor, Sir John, earl of Arundel, and brought them all to the town of Hereford. And anon after Hugh Spenser, the son, was drawn and hanged on a' gallows fifty foot high, and after beheaded and quartered, whose quarters were sent into four quarters of the realm. Sir John of Arundel was beheaded, Sir Robert Baldock was put in Newgate at London, where shortly after he pined away and died among thetheives. This done, a parliament was assembled at London, from whence message was sent to the king, that if he would resign up his crown, his son should have it after him; if not, another should take it to whom the lot would give it. Whereupon the king, being constrained to yield up his crown to his son, was kept in prison, and after had to Barkley, where he is said to take great repentance. After this message being sent, and the king half condescending thereunto, (the parliament notwithstanding prosecuting and going forward,) there was a bill exhibited and put up, containing certain articles against the said king, then in prison in the castle of Barkley, touching his misbehaviour and imprudent governing of the realm; which bill openly before the lords and commons, by the speaker of the parliament house, was read. After long consultation thereof amongst themselves touching those articles, and also for the better and more circumspect government of the realm from that time forth; it was consulted and agreed upon by the lords temporal and spiritual, and commons there assembled, that the said Edward was a man not meet to be their king, nor from that time forth any more to bear the crown royal or title of a king; but that Edward his eldest son, who there in the same court of high parliament was present, as he was rightful heir and inheritor thereunto, so should he be crowned king thereof in his father's stead, with these conditions thereunto annexed: That he should take wise, sage, and true counsellors unto him, that the realm might be better and more circumspectly governed than before in the time of Edward his father it was: That the old king his father should be honourably provided for and kept so long as he lived, according as unto his estate appertained, &c. These and other things thus finished and ended, the parliament breaketh up, and all things necessary to the coronation of a prince appertaining were in speedy wise prepared, whereof more hereafter (Christ willing) shall be specified.
In the mean time, as touching the king which was yet in prison, it is thought by some writers, that the next year following by the means of Sir Roger Mortimer he was miserably slain, with a spit, as is said, being thrust up into his body, and was buried at Gloucester, after he had reigned nineteen years.
In the time and reign of this king, the college
of Cambridge, called Michael House, was founded and builded by Sir Henry Stanton, knight, to the use and increase of learning; a thing in a commonwealth very profitable and necessary to be had; the want and need whereof, many sundry times, as sooner felt in this realm of ours and other realms abroad, than is the discommodity thereof of most men commonly understood.
About the same time also was Nicolaus de Lyra, which wrote the ordinary Gloss of the Bible. Also Gulielmus Ocham, worthy divine, and of a right sincere judgment, as the times then would either give or suffer.
In the tractation of this king's history, before was declared what grudge did kindle in the hearts of the barons against the king, for revoking such acts and customs as had been before in the parliament established, both for Peter Gaveston, and for the two Spensers. Also what severe punishment the king did execute upon them for the same, in such cruel and rigorous sort, that as he spared none of them whom he could there find, so he never ceased all his life after to inquire out, and to be revenged of all such as had been in any part or consenting to that matter. For the which his extreme and implacable tyranny he was in such hatred of all the people, that, as he said, he could not find one of all the commons to take his part, when need required. Among all other which were for that matter troubled, was one Adam, bishop of Hereford; who being impeached of treason with other more, was at length arrested in the parliament to appear and answer to that which should be to him objected. Many things there were laid against him, for taking part with them that rose against the king, with matters more, and heinous rebukes, &c.; whereunto the bishop a great while answered nothing.
At length the bishop, claiming the liberties and privileges of the church, answered to the king in this form: "The due reverence of your princely Majesty ever saved, I, a humble minister and member of the holy church of God, and bishop consecrate, albeit unworthy, cannot, neither ought to answer to these so high matters, without the authority of the archbishop of Canterbury, my direct judge next under the high bishop of Rome, whose suffragan also I am, and the consent likewise of the other my fellow bishops." After which words by him pronounced, the archbishop and other bishops with him were ready to make humble intercession for him to the king, and did. But when the king would not be won nor turned with any supplication, the said bishop, together with the archbishop and the clergy, coming with their crosses, took him away challenging him for the church, without any more, answer making; charging moreover, under censures of the church and excommunication, none to presume to lay any further hands upon him. The king, moved with this boldness and stoutness of the clergy, commandeth notwithstanding to proceed in judgment, and the jury of twelve men to go upon the inquiry of this cause; who finding and pronouncing the bishop to be guilty, the king caused immediately all his goods and possessions to be confiscate unto himself; moreover, he made his plate and all his household provision to be thrown out of his house into the street; but yet he remained so still under the protection and defence of the archbishop, &c.
This archbishop was Walter Winchelsea; after whom succeeded Simon Mepham in the same see of Canterbury, A.D. 1327.
After Pope Clement the Fifth, by whose decease the Romish see stood vacant (as ye have heard) two years and three months, next was elected Pope John the Twenty-second, a Cistercian monk, who sat in that papacy eighteen years. He was stout and inflexible, given so much to the heaping of riches, that he proclaimed them heretics which taught that Christ and his apostles had no possessions of their own in this world. At this time was emperor Louis of Bavaria, a worthy man; who, with this pope and other that followed him, had no less contention than had Fredericus before mentioned in the time of King Henry the Third. Insomuch that this contention and variance continued the space of four and twenty years. The cause and first origin of this tragical conflict, rose upon the constitution of Clement the Fifth, predecessor to this pope; by whom it was ordained, as is afore mentioned, that emperors by the German princes elected might be called kings of the Romans, but might not enjoy the title or right of the empire, to be nominated emperors, without their confirmation given by the pope. Wherefore this foresaid emperor, because he used the imperial dignity in Italy before he was authorized by the pope, the said pope therefore excommunicated the emperor. And notwithstanding the emperor oftentimes did proffer himself to make entreaty of peace and concord; yet the pope, inflexible, would not bend. The writings of both parts yet be extant, wherein the said bishop doth make his vaunt, that he had full power to create and depose kings and emperors at his pleasure. In the same time were divers learned men, which seeing the matter, did greatly disallow the bishop of Rome's doings; among whom was Gulielmus Ocham, whose tractations were afterward condemned by the pope for writing against the temporal jurisdiction of their see. And another, named Marsilius Patavinus, which wrote the book entitled Defensor Pacis, which was given into the hands of the said emperor; wherein the controversy of the pope's unlawful jurisdiction in things temporal is largely disputed, and the usurped authority of that see set forth to the uttermost. It is found in some writers, that a great cause of this variance first began, for that one of the emperor's secretaries, unknown to the emperor, in certain of his letters had likened the papal see to the beast rising out of the sea in the Apocalypse. At length, when the emperor, after much suit made to the pope at Avignon, could not obtain his coronation; coming to Rome he was there received with great honour, where he with his wife were both crowned by the full consent of all the lords and cardinals there; and moreover, another pope was there set up, called Nicolas the Fifth. After which things done, the pope not long after departed at Avignon in France; after whom succeeded then Benedictus the Twelfth, a monk of Benedictus order, and reigned seven years. Who, by the counsel of Philip the French king, confirmed and prosecuted the censures and cursings that John his predecessor had published against Louis the emperor; moreover, he deprived him of his imperial crown, and also of his dukedom of Bavaria. The emperor upon this cometh to Germany, and assembling the princes electors, dukes, bishops, nobles, and the learned, in a council at Frankfort, there declared before them, out of the ancient laws and customs of the empire, how it standeth only in the princes electors, and in none other, to elect the kings or the emperors of the Romans, for in both these names was no difference, so that the same electors, in choosing the king of the Romans, did also elect and choose the emperor. Which emperor so by them constituted had lawful right, without any information of the apostolical see, to exercise the administration of the empire. And if he were lawfully elect, he ought to be anointed of the Roman bishop; which if he do refuse, then might he be anointed and declared emperor and Augustus by any other catholic bishop thereunto appointed, as by the old manner and custom hath been; especially seeing these injunctions are but certain solemnities added and invented by the bishops, only for a token of unity between the church and empire, to govern and defend the faith together. Wherefore in that the emperor sweareth to the bishop of Rome, in that is to be understood no homage or fealty made to the bishop, but only it is a sacrament and a promise given to defend the faith. The which oath or sacrament so given, giveth no majority to the pope in any temporal rule, but only bindeth the emperor to be prepared and ready to defend the faith and church of Christ when need shall require obedience. Wherefore, whereas the pope leaveth only to the electors authority to make the king of Romans, and taketh upon himself alone power to make the emperor; that, as it is newly brought in and devised of late by Pope Clement the Fifth, so is it contrary both to all ancient order, and also derogatory to the liberty and majesty of the sacred empire. Again, neither is that also less absurd and contrary to all right and reason, that the pope, in time of the imperial seat being vacant, taketh upon him to have the whole and full doings of the empire as lawful emperor for the time. Which prerogative and function, by ancient orders of our fore-elders, should properly and only appertain to the palatine of the Rhine; the constitution Clementine of the foresaid Pope Clement to the contrary notwithstanding. Then in the end, for his own excuse, he, in the presence of them all, reciteth the public confession of his faith, to answer and purge himself of those objections laid to him by the pope. This did the meek emperor Louis in that council. Yet, all this notwithstanding, the said emperor remained still excommunicate, till time that variance fell between this Pope Benedict and Philip the French king. Wherefore, to make his party good, at least to have some friends to flee to, he began to pretend favour and absolution, rather for necessity than for any good-will to the emperor. But not long after this pope died.
After whom followed Pope Clement the Sixth, a man most furious and cruel; who, renewing again the former excommunications of his former predecessors, caused his letters to be set upon church doors, wherein he threatened and denounced most terrible thunderbolts against the said Louis the emperor, unless within three days he should satisfy to God and the church, and renounce the imperial possession of the crown. The emperor upon this cometh to Frankfort, and, there ready to stand in all things to the ordinance of the pope, sendeth his orators to the court of Rome, to entreat the pope of his favour and good-will towards him. To the which messengers the pope answered again, that he would never pardon the emperor before he gave over and confessed his errors and heresies, and, resigning up his empire to his hands, would submit himself, his children, and all his goods to the will and pleasure of the bishop, promising that he should not receive again any part of the same but upon his good grace, as his will should be to restore them.
The heresy here mentioned, which was to this emperor objected by the pope, was this, because (as is above touched) he used and executed the imperial dignity after his election, before he was of the pope confirmed. Over and besides, the pope sendeth to the emperor by the said orators a certain form of a bill contained in writing with certain conditions, which he commanded to be given to the hands of the emperor. Here, if the emperor Louis had as much mind to set upon the pope with dint of sword, as he lacked neither occasion nor power so to do, what blood might here have been spilled! But the good emperor, sparing the effusion of blood, receiveth gently the bill; and not only with his seal doth confirm it, but also sweareth to observe all the conditions thereof; which the pope hearing of doth greatly marvel. But yet all this would nothing help to mollify the modest heart of this Pharaoh.
The princes and electors, seeing the bill of the articles and conditions, whereof some sounded to the malicious defacing and destruction of the empire, abhorring the wickedness thereof, desired the emperor to stand to the defence of the imperial dominion as he had began; promising that their assistance and aid to the uttermost thereunto' should not lack. Upon that other orators were sent to Pope Clement from the princes, desiring him to abstain from such manner of articles conceived against the state and majesty of the empire. The pope surmising all this to spring from Louis the emperor, to the utter subversion of him and all his posterity, on Maundy Thursday blustereth out most black curses against him, also reneweth all the former processes of his predecessor against him, as against both a heretic and a schismatic; commanding, moreover, the princes electors to proceed in choosing a new emperor. The archbishop of Mentz, seeing the innocency of the emperor, would not consent to the violating of his majesty, wherefore he was deprived by the pope of all his dignities. The other bishops electors, as the archbishop of Cologne, which took eight thousand marks, with the duke of Saxony, which took two thousand marks, being corrupted with money by John, king of Bohemia, elected Charles, the son of the said John, whom Pope Clement eftsoons in his consistory did approve. Who seeth not here what matter of war and bloodshed was ministered by the pope between these two emperors, if the patience of Louis had not been more prudent to quench the fire than the pope was to kindle it? Charles, then the new emperor elect, sped him to Aquitaine, according to the custom, there to be crowned. But by the citizens, there and the empress, the wife of Louis keeping thereabout, he was repelled. All this happened in the time and reign of Edward the Third, king of England; with whom the said Charles, with the French king, and king of Bohemia, set on by the pope, encountered in war; where the king of England had against them a noble victory, and slew a great number of the Frenchmen and Almains, and put Charles the new emperor to flight. In the mean time, among the princes and cities of Germany what sorrow and what complaints were against Pope Clement and those electors, it cannot be expressed. For as they were all together at Spires congregated in a general assembly, so there was none among them all that allowed the election of Charles, or that cared for the pope's process, promising all to adhere and continue faithful subjects to Louis their lawful emperor. But Louis, remembering his oath made before to the pope's bill, voluntarily and willingly gave over his imperial dignity, and went to Burgravia; where shortly after, through the procured practice of Pope Clement, as Hieronymus Marius doth write, poison was given him to drink. After the which being drunk, when he would have vomited out and could not, he took his horse and went to hunt the bear, thereby through the chasing and heat of his body to expel the venom. And there the good and gentle emperor, wickedly persecuted and murdered of the pope, fell down dead, whom I may well recount among the innocent and blessed martyrs of Christ. For if the cause being righteous doth make a martyr, what papist can justly disprove his cause or faith? If persecution joined thereunto causeth martyrdom, what martyr could be more persecuted than he who, having three popes like three ban-dogs upon him, at length was devoured by the same. The princes then, hearing of his death, assembled themselves to a new election; who, refusing Charles aforesaid, elected another for emperor, named Gunterus de Monte Nigro. Who, shortly after falling sick at Frankfort, was likewise poisoned through his physician's servant, whom the aforesaid Charles had hired with money to work that feat. Gunterus tasting of the poison, although he did partly cast it up again, yet so much remained within him as made him unable afterward to serve that place; wherefore, for concord's sake, being counselled thereto by the Germans, he gave over his empire to Charles; for else great bloodshed was like to ensue. This Charles, thus ambitiously aspiring to the imperial seat contrary to the minds of the states and peers of the empire, as he did wickedly and unlawfully come by it, so was he by his ambitious guiding the first and principal mean of the utter ruin of that monarchy; for that he, to have his son set up emperor after him, convented and granted to the princes electors of Germany all the public taxes and tributes of the empire. Which covenant, being once made between the emperor and them, they afterward held so fast, that they caused the emperor to swear never to revoke or call back again the same. By reason whereof the tribute of the countries of Germany, which then belonged only to the emperor for the sustentation of his wars, ever since to this day is dispersed diversely into the hands of the princes, and free cities within the said monarchy; so that both the empire being disfurnished and left desolate, and the emperors weakened thereby, they have neither been able sufficiently since to defend themselves, nor yet to resist the Turk, or other foreign enemies. Whereof a great part, as ye have heard, may be imputed unto the popes, &c.
This Pope Clement first reduced the year of jubilee to every fifty years, which before was kept but on the hundredth year. And so he being absent to Avignon, which he then purchased with his money to the see of Rome, caused it to be celebrated at Rome, A.D. 1350. In the which year were numbered, of peregrines going in and coming out every day at Rome, to the estimation of five thousand. The bull of Pope Clement, given out for this present year of jubilee, proceedeth in these words as followeth "What person or persons soever for devotion sake shall take their peregrination unto the holy city, the same day when he setteth forth out of his house, he may choose unto him what confessor or confessors either in the way or where else he listeth ; unto the which confessors we grant, by our authority, plenary power to absolve all cases papal, as fully as if it were in our proper person there present. Item, we grant that whosoever being truly confessed shall chance by the way to die, he shall be quit and absolved of all his sins. Moreover, we command the angels of paradise to take his soul out of his body, being absolved, and to carry it into the glory of paradise," &c. And in another bull, "We will (saith he) that no pain of hell shall touch him; granting, moreover, to all and singular person and persons, signed with the holy cross, power and authority to deliver and release three or four souls, whom they list themselves, out of the pains of purgatory," &c.
This Clement, as mine author affirmeth, took upon him so prodigally in his popedom, that he gave to his cardinals of Rome bishoprics and benefices, which then were vacant in England, and began to give them new titles for the same livings he gave them in England. Wherewith the king, as good cause he had, was offended, and undid all the provisions of the pope within his realm ; commanding, under pain of imprisonment and life, no man to be so hardy as to induce and bring in any such provisions of the pope, any more within his land. And under the same punishment he charged the two cardinals to avoid the realm, A. D. 1343. In the same year all the tenths, as well of the Templars as of other spiritual men, were given and paid to the king through the whole realm. And thus much concerning good Louis, emperor and martyr, and Pope Clement the Sixth his enemy. Wherein, because we have a little exceeded the course of years whereat we left, let us return somewhat back again, and take such things in order as belong to the church of England and Scotland, setting forth the reign of King Edward the Third, and the doings of the church which in his time have happened, as the grace of Christ our Lord will assist and enable us thereunto.
This aforesaid King Edward the Second in his time builded two houses in Oxford for good letters, to wit, Oriel College, and St. Mary Hall.
Here I omit also by the way the furious outrage and conflict which happened in the time of this king, a little before his death, A. D. 1326, between the townsmen and the abbey of Bury ; wherein the townsmen gathering themselves together in a great multitude, for what cause or old grudge between them the register doth not declare, invaded an& sacked the monastery. And after they had imprisoned the monks they rifled the goods and treasure of the whole house, spoiling and carrying away their plate, money, copes, vestments, censers, crosses, chalices, basons, jewels, cups, maces, books, with other ornaments and implements of the house, to the value inestimable. In the which conflict certain also on both sides were slain. Such was the madness then of that people, that when they had gathered unto them a great concourse of servants and light persons of that country, to the number of twenty thousand, to whom they promised liberty and freedom ; by virtue of such writs which they had out of that house, first they got into their hands all their evidences, copies, and instruments, that they could find ; then they took off the lead; that done, setting fire to the abbey gates, they burnt up near the whole house. After that they proceeded further to the farms and granges belonging to the same abbey, whereof they wasted, spoiled, and burnt to the number of twenty-two manor places in one week, transporting away the corn, horses, cattle, or other movables belonging to the same, the price whereof is registered to come to nine hundred and twenty-two pounds, five shillings, and eleven pence, besides the valuation of other riches and treasure within the abbey, which cannot be estimated.
The abbot all this space was at London in the parliament, by whose procurement at length such rescue was sent down, that twenty-four of the chief of the town (submitting themselves) were committed to ward; carts full of the townsmen were carried to Norwich, of whom nineteen were there hanged, divers convicted were put to prison. The whole township was condemned in sevenscore thousand pounds to be paid for damages of the house. John Berton, alderman, W. Herling, with thirty-two priests, thirteen women, and one hundred and thirty-eight other of the said town were outlawed; of whom divers, after grudging at the abbot for breaking promise with them at London, did confederate themselves together, and privily in the night coming to the manor of Chenington, where the abbot did lie, burst open the gates, who then entering in first bound all his family ; and after they had robbed him of all his plate, jewels, and money, they took the abbot and shaved him, and secretly with them conveyed him away to London ; where they, removing him from street to street unknown, from thence had him over Thames into Kent: at length over the sea they ferried to Dist in Brabant, where they a sufficient time kept him in much penury, misery, and thraldom ; till at length, the matter being watched out, they were all excommunicated, first by the archbishop of Canterbury, then by the pope. And at last it being known where he was, by his friends he was delivered and rescued out of the thieves' hands, and finally brought home with procession, and restored to his house again. And thus was that abbey with the abbot of the same, for what demerits I know not, thus vexed and afflicted about this time, as more largely I have seen in their Latin register. But thus much briefly; the rest I omit here, passing over to the reign of the next king.
Concerning the acts and story of King Edward the Second, his deposing, and cruel death, wrought by the false and counterfeit letter of Sir Roger Mortimer, sent in the king's name to the keepers, for the which he was charged, drawn, and quartered, I have written sufficiently before, and more peradventure than the profession of this ecclesiastical history will well admit. Notwithstanding, for certain respects and causes I thought somewhat to extend my limits herein the more; whereby both kings, and such as climb to be about them, may take the better example by the same; the one to have the love of his subjects; the other to learn to flee ambition, and not to bear themselves to brag of their fortune and state, how high soever it be; considering with themselves nothing to be in this world so firm and sure, that may promise itself any certain continuance, and is not perpetual danger of mutation, unless it be fastened by God's protection.