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suffer me to go. For you have held me too long in prison, wrongfully and without cause ; and I will tell you how I had gone from France, I and my people meaning to go against the Saracens. And so I had promised Hugh de Carvalay, intending to work out my salvation.' 'Why then went you not straight without stopping ! said the prince. “I will tell you,' said Bertrand in a loud voice. "We found Peter, the curse of God confound him! who had long since thrice falsely murdered his noble Queen, born of the noble line of Bourbon, and of the blood of my Lord, St. Louis, which lady was your cousin by the best blood in your body. Straightway then I stopped, to take vengeance for her, and to help Henry; for well I know, and surely I believe, that he is the right king and the true heir of Spain. And also to destroy, and put to an end, Jews and Saracens, of whom there are too many in these parte. Now through great pride you have come to Spain to the best of your ability, both through covetousness of gold and silver, and that you may have the throne after the death of Peter, who reigns wrongfully, by which journey you have, in the first place, injured your own blood, and troubled me and my people : whence it has come to pass, that after you have so ruined your friends, and you and your people have been all famished, and suffered great pain and labour, Peter has deceived you by cheating and trickery, for he has not kept faith nor covenant with you, for which, by my faith, I thank him heartily.' When Bertrand had related his reasons, the prince rose, and could not help saying that on his soul Bertrand was right, and the barons said that he had spoken truth. Then was there great joy stirring all round and about, and they said of Bertrand, one to another, "See there a brave Breton.' But the prince called, and said to him, 'You shall not escape me without paying a good ransom ; and yet it vexes me that you obtain such favour. But men say that I keep you prisoner because I fear you ; and to the end that every one may cease to suspect this, and may know that I neither fear nor care for you, I will deliver you on payment of sufficient ransom.' 'Sir, said Bertrand, 'I am a poor knight of little name, and not so born as that I should find help in plenty. And besides, my estate is mortgaged for purchase of warhorses, and also I owe in this town full ten thousand florins. Be moderate, therefore, and deliver me.' "Where will you go, fair sir ? said the prince. "Sir,' said Bertrand, 'I will go where I may regain my loss, and more I say not.' Consider then,' said the prince, 'what ransom you will give me : for what you will shall be enough for me.' 'Sir," said Bertrand, 'I trust you will not stoop to retract your meaning. And since you are content to refer it to my pleasure, I ought not to value myself too low. So I will give and engage for my freedom one hundred thousand double golden florins.' And when the prince heard him his colour changed, and he looked round at his knights, saying, "Does he mean to make game of me that he offers such a sum ? for I would gladly quit him for the quarter.'
Bertrand,' said he, neither can you pay it, nor do I wish such a sum ; so consider again.' 'Sire,' said Bertrand, since you will not so much, I place myself at sixty thousand double florins ; you shall not have less, sobeit you will discharge me.' "Well,' said the prince, 'I agree to it.' Then said Bertrand loudly, sir, prince Henry may well and truly vaunt that he will die king of Spain, cost him what it may, and he will lend me one half my ransom, and the king of France the other; and if I can neither go nor send to these two, I would get all the spinstresses in France to spin it rather than that I should remain longer in your hands.'* And when the prince had heard him he thus said : “What sort of man is this? He startles at nothing, either in act or thought, no more than if he had
• Si le gagneroie aincois a filler toutes les filleresses qui en France sont, que ce que je demourasse plus entre vos mains.
all the gold which is in the world. He has set himself at sixty thousand double florins, and I would willingly have quitted him for ten thousand.' And all the barons also marvelled greatiy. "Am I then at liberty?' said the gallant Bertrand. And Chandos asked him whence the money should come. “Sir,' said he, 'I have good friends, as I shall find, I am certain.' 'By my faith,' said Chandos, 'I am much rejoiced therefore, and if you have need of my help, thus much I say, I will lend you ten thousand. "Sir,' said Bertrand, 'I thank you. But before I seek anything of you I will try the people of my own country.””
113—THE INSURRECTION OF THE PEASANTS.
HUME. Edward had left his grandson involved in many dangerous wars. The pretensions of the duke of Lancaster to the crown of Castile, made that kingdom still persevere in hostilities against England. Scotland, whose throne was now filled by Robert Stuart, nephew to David Bruce, and the first prince of that family, maintained such close connections with France, that war with one crown almost inevitably produced hostilities with the other. The French monarch, whose prudent conduct had acquired him the surname of wise, as he had already baffled all the experience and valour of the two Edwards, was likely to prove a dangerous enemy to a minor king; but his genius, which was not naturally enterprising, led him not, at present, to give any disturbance to his neighbours : and he laboured, besides, under many difficulties at home, which it was necessary for him to surmount before he could think of making conquests in a foreign country. England was master of Calais, Bordeaux, and Bayonne ; had lately acquired possession of Cherbourg from the cession of the king of Navarre, and of Brest from that of the duke of Brittany ; and having thus an easy entrance into France from every quarter, was able, even in its present situation, to give disturbance to his government. Before Charles could remove the English from these important posts, he died in the flower of his age, and left his kingdom to a minor son, who bore the name of Charles VI.
Meanwhile the war with France was carried on in a manner somewhat languid, and produced no enterprise of great lustre or renown. Sir Hugh Calverly, governor of Calais, making an inroad into Picardy with a detachment of the garrison, set fire to Boulogne. The duke of Lancaster conducted an army into Brittany, but returned without being able to perform anything memorable. In a subsequent year, the duke of Gloucester marched out of Calais with a body of 2000 cavalry, and 8000 infantry, and scrupled not, with his small army, to enter into the heart of France, and to continue his ravages through Picardy, Champaigne, the Brie, the Beauffe, the Gatinois, the Orleanois, till he reached his allies in the province of Brittany. The duke of Burgundy, at the head of a more considerable army, came within sight of him ; but the French were so overawed by the former successes of the English that no superiority of numbers could tempt them to venture a pitched battle with the troops of that nation. As the duke of Brittany, soon after the arrival of these succours, formed an accommodation with the court of France, this enterprise also proved in the issue unsuccessful, and made no durable impression upon the enemy.
The expences of these armaments, and the usual want of money attending a minority, much exhausted the English treasury, and obliged the parliament, besides making some alterations in the council, to impose a new and unusual tax of three groats on every person, male and female, above fifteen years of age ; and they ordained that, in levying that tax, the opulent should relieve the poor by an equitable compensation. This imposition produced a mutiny, which was singular in its cir
cumstances. All history abounds with examples where the great tyrannise over the meaner sort; but here the lowest populace rose against their rulers, committed the most cruel ravages upon them, and took vengeance for all former oppressions.
The faint dawn of the arts and of good government in that age, had excited the minds of the populace in different states of Europe, to wish for a better condition, and to murmur against those chains which the laws, enacted by the haughty nobility and gentry, had so long imposed upon them. The commotions of the people in Flanders, the mutiny of the peasants in France, were the natural effects of this growing spirit of independence; and the report of these events being brought in England, where personal slavery, as we learn from Froissart, was more general than in any other country in Europe, had prepared the minds of the multitude for an insurrection. One John Wall also, a seditious preacher, who affected low popularity, went about the country, and inculcated on his audience the principles of the first origin of inankind from one common stock, their equal right to liberty and to all the goods of nature, the tyranny of artificial distinctions, and the abuses which had arisen from the degradation of the more considerable part of the species, and the aggrandisement of a few insolent rulers. These doctrines, so agreeable to the populace, and so conformable to the ideas of primitive equality which are engraven in the hearts of all men, were greedily received by the multitude, and scattered the sparks of that sedition, which the present tax roused into a conflagration.
The imposition of three groats a head had been farmed out to tax-gatherers in each county, who levied the money on the people with rigour; and the clause, of making the rich ease their poorer neighbours of some share of the burden, being 50 vague and undeterminate, had, doubtless, occasioned many partialities, and made the people more sensible of the unequal lot which fortune had assigned them in the distribution of her favours. The first disorder was raised by a blacksmith in a village of Essex. The tax-gatherers came to this man's shop while he was at work; and they demanded payment for his daughter, whom he asserted to be below the age assigned by the statute. One of these fellows offered to produce a very indecent proof to the contrary, and at the same time laid hold of the maid, which the father resenting, immediately knocked out the ruffian's brains with his hammer. The bystanders applauded the action, and exclaimed, that it was full time for the people to take vengeance on their tyrants, and to vindicate their native liberty. They immediately flew to arms; the whole neighbourhood joined in the sedition. The flame spread in an instant over the county ; it soon propagated itself into that of Kent, of Hertford, Surrey, Sussex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge, and Lincoln. Before the government had the least warning of the danger, the disorder had grown beyond control or opposition; the populace had shaken off all regard to their former masters, and being headed by the most audacious and criminal of their associates, who assumed the feigned names of Wat Tyler, Jack Straw, Hob Carter, and John Miller, by which they were fond of denoting their mean origin, they committed everywhere the most outrageous violence on such of the gentry or nobility who had the misfortune to fall into their hands.
The mutinous populace, amounting to a hundred thousand men, assembled on Blackheath under their leaders Tyler and Straw; and as the princess of Wales, the king's mother, returning from a pilgrimage to Canterbury, passed through the midst of them, they insulted her attendants, and some of the most insolent among them, to show their purpose of levelling all mankind, forced kisses from her ; but they allowed her to continue her journey, without attempting any farther injury. They sent a message to the king, who had taken shelter in the Tower, and they desired a conference with him. Richard sailed down the river in a barge for that purpose ; but on his approaching the shore, he saw such symptoms of tumult and insolence
that he put back, and returned to that fortress. The seditious peasants, meanwhile, favoured by the populace of London, had broken into the city, had burned the duke of Lancaster's palace of the Savoy, cut off the heads of all the gentlemen whom they laid hold of, expressed a particular animosity against the lawyers and attorneys, and pillaged the warehouses of the rich merchants. A great body of them quartered themselves at Mile-end; and the king, finding no defence in the Tower, which was weakly garrisoned, and ill supplied with provisions, was obliged to go out to them, and ask their demands. They required a general pardon, the abolition of slavery, freedom of commerce in market-towns without toll or impost, and a fixed rent on lands, instead of the services due by villeinage. These requests, which, though extremely reasonable in themselves, the nation was not sufficiently prepared to receive
, and which it was dangerous to have extorted by violence, were however complied with ; charters to that purpose were granted them, and this body immediately dispersed, and returned to their several homes.
During this transaction, another body of the rebels had broken into the Tower ; had murdered Simon Sudbury, the primate and chancellor, with Sir Robert Hales, the treasurer, and some other persons of distinction; and continued their ravages in the city. The king, passing along Smithfield, very slenderly guarded, met with Wat Tyler, at the head of these rioters, and entered into a conference with him. Tyler, having ordered his companions to retire, till he should give them a signal, after which they were to murder all the company except the king himself, whom they were to detain prisoner, feared not to come into the midst of the royal retinue. He there behaved himself in such a manner, that Walworth, the mayor of London, not able to bear his insolence, drew his sword, and struck him so violent a blow as brought him to the ground, where he was instantly dispatched by others of the king's attendants. The mutineers, seeing their leader fall
, prepared themselves for revenge ; and the whole company, with the king himself, had undoubtedly perished on the spot, had it not been for an extraordinary presence of mind which Richard discovered on the occasion. He ordered his company to stop ; he advanced alone towards the enraged multitude ; and accosting them with an affable and intrepid countenance, he asked them, “What is the meaning of this disorder, my good people ? Are ye angry that ye have lost your leader? I am your king : I will be your leader.” The populace, overawed by his presence, implicitly followed him. He led them into the fields to prevent any disorder which might have arisen from their continuing in the city. Being there joined by Sir Robert Knolles, and a body of well-armed veteran soldiers, who had been secretly drawn together, he strictly prohibited that officer from falling on the rioters, and committing an undistinguished slaughter upon them; and he peaceably dismissed them with the same charters which had been granted to their fellows. Soon after, the nobility and gentry, hearing of the king's danger, in which they were all involved, flocked to London with their adherents and retainers, and Richard took the field at the head of an army 40,000 strong. It then behoved all the rebels to submit. The charters of enfranchisement and pardon were revoked by parliament; the people were reduced to the same slavish condition as before, and several of the ringleaders were severely punished for the late disorders. Some were even executed without process or form of law. It was pretended that the intentions of the mutineers had been to seize the king's person, to carry him through England at their head, to murder all the nobility, gentry, and lawyers, and even all the bishops and priests, except the mendicant friars ; to dispatch afterwards the king himself; and having thus reduced all to a level, to order the kingdom at their pleasure. It is not impossible but many of them, in the delirium of their first success, might have formed such projects; but of all the evils incident to human society, the insurrections of the
populace, when not raised and supported by persons of higher quality, are the least to be dreaded. The mischiefs consequent to an abolition of all rank and distinction become so great, that they are immediately felt, and soon bring affairs back to their former order and arrangement.
114.—THE BANISHMENT OF BOLINGBROKE AND MOWBRAY.
SHAKSPERE. Scene-Coventry. Flourish of trumpets. Enter King Richard, who takes his seat on his throne ; Gaunt,
and several Noblemen, who take their places. A trumpet is sounded, and answered by another trumpet within. Then enter Norfolk, in armour, preceded by a Herald.
K Rich. Marshal, demand of yonder champion
Mar. In God's name and the king's, say who thou art,
Nor. My name is Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk ;
[He takes his seat
K Rich. Marshal, ask yonder knight in arms,
Mar. What is thy name ? and wherefore com’st thou hither,
Boling. Harry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby,