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we might die here our natural death, and not a shameful death; it is great pity to think on this. With those words king Richard began tenderly to weep and wring his hands, and cursed the hour that ever he was born, rather than to have such an end. Such as were about him had great pity, and recomforted him as well as they might. One of his knights said : Sir, it behoveth you to take comfort ; we see well, and so do you, that this world is nothing, the fortunes thereof are marvellous, and sometime turn as well upon kings and princes, as upon poor men ; the French king, whose daughter ye have married, can not now aid you, he is so far off; if ye might scape this mischief by dissimulation, and save your life and ours, it were a good enterprise : peradventure within a year or two there would be had some recovery. Why, quoth the king, what would ye that I should do ? There is nothing but I would be glad to do it, to save us thereby. Sir, quoth the knight, we see for truth that these Londoners will crown your cousin of Lancaster as king, and for that entent they sent for him, and so have aided him and do; it is not possible for you to live, without ye consent that he be crowned king: wherefore sir, we will counsel you, (to the entent to save your life and ours), that when your cousin of Lancaster cometh to you to demand any thing, then with sweet and treatable words say to him, how that ye will resign to him the crown of England, and all the right that ye have in the realm, clearly and purely into his hands, and how that ye will that he be king; thereby ye shall greatly appease him and the Londoners also ; and desire him effectuously to suffer
you to live and us also with you, or else every man apart, as it shal please him, or else to banish us out of the realm for ever, for he that loseth his life, loseth all
. King Richard heard those words well, and fixed them surely in his heart, and said he would do as they counselled him, as he that saw himself in great danger; and then he said to them that kept him, how he would gladly speak with his cousin of Lancaster,
It was shewed the Duke of Lancaster how Richard of Bourdeaux desired to speak with him. The duke in an evening took a barge and went to the Tower by water, and went to the king, who received him courteously, and humbled himself greatly, as he that saw himself in great danger, and said : Cousin of Lancaster, I regard and consider mine estate, which is as now but small, I thank God thereof; as any more to reign or to govern people, or to bear a crown, I think it not, and as God help me I would I were dead by a natural death, and that the French King had again his daughter; we have had as yet no great joy together, nor sith I brought her into England, I could never have the love of my people as I had before. Cousin, all things considered, I know well I bave greatly trespassed against you, and against other noble men of my blood ; by divers things, I perceive I shall never have pardon nor come to peace, wherefore with mine own free and liberal will, I will resign to you the heritage of the Crown of England, and I require you take the gift thereof with the resignation. When the Duke heard that, he said : Sir, it is convenient that part of the three estates of the realm be called to these words, and I have sent already for some noble men, prelates, and councillors of the good towns of England, and I trust they will be here within these three days, sufficient of them, for you to make a due resignation before them, and by this means ye shall greatly appease many men within the realm ; for to withstand such enormities and evils as have been used in the realm for fault of justice, who had no place to reign, I was sent for from beyond the sea : and the people would crown me, for the renome runneth throughout England, that I have more right to the crown than ye have ; for when our grandfather King Edward the Third did choose and make you king, the same was as then shewed him, but he loved so his son the prince, that none could break his purpose nor opinion, but that ye should be king; and if ye would have followed the steps of your father the prince, and have
believed his counsel, as a good son ought to have done, ye might have been still king, and have continued your estate ; but ye have always done the contrary, so that the common renome runneth through England, and in other places, that ye were never son to the Prince of Wales, but rather son to a priest or to a canon ; for I have heard of certain knights that were in the prince's house, mine uncle, how that he knew well that his wife had not truly kept her marriage, your mother was cousin-german to King Edward, and the king began to hate her, because she could have no generation ; also she was the king's gossip of two children at the font: and she that could well keep the prince in her bandon by craft and subtlety, she made the prince to be her husband, and because she could have no child, she doubted that the prince should be divorced from her : she did so much that she was with child with you, and with another before you ; as of the first I cannot tell what to judge, but as for you because your conditions have been seen contrary from all nobleness and prowess of the Prince, therefore it is said that ye be rather son to a priest or to a canon, for when ye were gotten and born at Bordeaux, there were many young priests in the prince's house. This is the bruit in this country, and your works have well followed the same, for ye be always enclined to the pleasure of the Frenchmen, and to take with them peace to the confusion and dishonour of the realm of England. And because mine uncle of Gloucester, and the Earl of Arundel, did counsel you truly and faithfully to keep the honour of the realm, and to follow the steps of your ancestors, ye have traitorously caused them to die ; as for me I have taken on me to defend your life as long as I may for pity, and I shall pray the Londoners and the heritors of them that ye have slain and banished, to do the same. Cousin, I thank you, quoth the king, I trust more in you than in any other. It is but right that ye so should do, for if I had not been, ye had been taken by the people and deposed with great confusion, and slain, by reason of your evil works. King Richard heard well all the duke's words, and wist not what to say against it, for he saw well that force nor arguments could not avail him, but rather meekness and humility : wherefore he humbled him, and prayed the duke to save his life.
When the Duke of Lancaster had been at the Tower two hours with King Richard, and had shewed him part of his faults, then he returned. And the next day he sent forth more commandents into all parts of the realm, to cause noble men and other to come to London : his uncle the Duke of York came to London, and the Earl of Rutland his son, the Earl of Northumberland, and the Lord Thomas Percy his brother ; the Duke of Lancaster made them good cheer : thither came also great number of prelates and abbots. And on a day the Duke of Lancaster accompanied with lords, dukes, prelates, earls, barons, and knights, and of the notablest men of London, and of other good towns, rode to the Tower, and there alighted. Then King Richard was brought into the hall, apparelled like a king in his robes of state, his sceptre in his hand, and his crown on his head: then he stood up alone, not holden nor stayed by no man, and said aloud : I have been King of England, Duke of Acquitaine, and Lord of Ireland, about twenty-two years, which signiory, royalty, sceptre, crown, and heritage, I clearly resign here to my cousin, Henry of Lancaster: and I desire him here in this open presence, in entering of the same possession, to take this sceptre : and so delivered it to the duke, who took it. Then King Richard took the crown from his head with both his hands, and set it before him, and said : Fair cousin, Henry Duke of Lancaster, I give and deliver you this crown, wherewith I was crowned King of England, and therewith all the right thereto depending. The Duke of Lancaster took it, and the Archbishop of Canterbury took it out of the duke's hands. This resignation thuis done. the Duke of Lancaster called a notary, and demanded to have letters
and witness of all the prelates and lords there being present. Then Richard of Bordeaux returned again into the chamber from whence he came. Then the Duke of Lancaster and all other leapt on their horses, and the crown and sceptre were put in a coffer, and conveyed to the Abbey of Westminster, and there kept in the treasury. And every man went to their lodgings, and abode till the day of Parliament and council should be at the Palace of Westminster.
122.—EXETER'S CONSPIRACY AGAINST HENRY IV.
HALL. At this time was an abbot in Westminster, a man of apparent virtaes, professing openly Christ, christian charity, and due subjection and obeisance to his prince; which abbot hearing king Henry onco say, when he was but earl of Derby, and of no mature age, or grown gravity, that princes had too little, and religious had too much, imagined in himself that he now obtaining the crown of the realm, if he were therein a long continuer, would remove the great beam that then grieved his eyes and pricked his conscience. For you must understand that these monastical persons, learned and unliterate, better fed than taught, took on them to write and register in the book of fame, the noble acts, the wise doings and politic governances of kings and princes, in which cronography, if a king gave to them possessions or granted them liberties, or exalted them to honour and worldly dignity, he was called a saint, he was praised without any desert above the moon, his genealogy was written, and not one iota that might exalt his fame, was either forgotten or omitted. But if a christian prince had touched their liberties, or claimed any part justly of their possessions, or would have intermitted in their holy franchises, or desired aid of them against his and their common enemics. Then tongues talked and pens wrote, that he was a tyrant, a depresser of holy religion, an enemy to Christ's church and his holy flock, and a damned and accursed person with Dathan and Abiron to the deep pit of hell. Whereof the proverb began, give and be blessed, take away and be accursed. Thus the fear of losing their possessions, made them pay yearly annates to the Romish bishop: thus the fear of correction and honest restraint of liberty, made them from their ordinaries, yea almost from obedience of their princes, to sue dispensations, exemptions and immunities.
This abbot that I spake of which could not well forget the saying of king Henry, and being before in great favour and high estimation with king Richard, called to his house on a day in the term season, all such lords and other persons which he either knew or thought to be as affectionate to king Richard, and cuvious to the estate and advancement of king Henry, whose names were, John Holland, duke of Exeter and carl of Huntingdon, Thomas Holland, duke of Surrey and carl of Kent, Edward, duke of Aumerle and earl of Rutland, son to the duke of York, John Montague, earl of Salisbury, Hugh Spenser, carl of Gloucester, John, the bishop of Carlisle, Sir Thomas Blount, and Magdelen, one of king Richard's chapel, a man as like to him in stature and proportion in all lineaments of his body, as unlike in birth, dignity, or conditions. This abbot highly feasted these great lords and his special friends, and when they had well dined, they all withdrew themselves into a secret chamber and sat down to council; when they were set, John Holland, duke of Exeter, whose rage of revenging the injury done to king Richard was nothing mitigate nor molified, but rather encreased and blossomed, declared to them their allegiance promised, and by oath confirmed to king Richard his brother, forgetting not the high promotions and notable dignities which he and all other there present had obtained by the high favour and munificent liberality of his said brother, by
the which they were not only by oath and allegiance bound, and also by kindness and urbanity incensed and moved to take part with him and his friends, but also bound to be revenged for him and his cause, on his mortal enemies and deadly foes, in which doing he thought policy more meeter to be used than force, and some witty practise rather to be experimented than manifest hostility or open war. And for the expedition of this enterprise he devised a solemn justes to be enterprised between him and twenty on his part, and the earl of Salisbury and twenty on his part, at Oxford: to the which triumph, king Henry should be invited and desired, and when he were most busily regarding the martial play and warly disport, he suddenly should be slain and destroyed. And by this means king Richard, which was yet alive, should be restored to his liberty and repossessed of his crown and kingdom, and appointed farther who should assemble the people, the number and persons, which should accomplish and perform this invented assay and policy.
This device so much pleased the seditious congregation, that they not only made an indenture sextipartite sealed with their seals and signed with their hands, in the which each bound himself to other to endeavour themselves both for the destruction of king Henry, and the creation of king Richard, but also sware on the Holy Evangelists the one to be true and secret to the other, even to the hour and point of death. When all things were thus appointed and concluded, the duke of Exeter came to the king to Windsor, requiring him, for the love that he bare to the noble acts of chivalry, that he would vouchsafe not only to repair to Oxford to see and behold their manly feats, and warlike pastime : but also to be the discoverer and indifferent judge (if any ambiguity should arise) of their courageous acts and royal triumph. The king seeing himself so effectuously desired, and that of his brotherin-law, and nothing less imagining than that which was pretended, gently granted and friendly condescended to his request. Which thing obtained, all the lords of this conspiracy departed to their houses (as they noised) to set armourers on work for trimming of their harness against the solemn justes. Some had the helm, the viser, the two baviers and the two plackards of the same, curiously graven and cunningly costed: some had their collars fretted, and other had them set with gilt bullions: one company had the plackard, the rest, the burley, the tasses, the lamboys, the backpiece, the tapul, and the border of the cuirass all gilt: and another band had them all enameled azure. One sort had the vambraces, the paceguards, the grandguards, the poldren, the pollettes, parted with gold and azure: and another flock had them silver and sable. Some had the mainfers, the close gauntlets, the guissettes, the flamards, dropped and gutted with red, and other had them speckled with green : one sort had the cuisses, the greaves, the surlettes, the sockets on the right side and on the left side silver. Some had the spear, the bur, the cronet, all yellow, and other had them of divers colours. One band had the scafferon, the cranet, the bard of the horse, all white, and other had them all gilt. Some had their arming swords freshly burnished, and some had them cunningly varnished ; some spurs were white, some gilt, and some coal black. One part had their plumes all white, another had them all red, and the third had them of several colours. One wore on his headpiece his lady's sleeve, and another bare on his helm the glove of his dearling: but to declare the costly bases, the rich bards, the pleasant trappers both of goldsmith's work and embroidery, no less sumptuously than curiously wrought, it would ask a long time to declare, for every man after his appetite devised his fantasy, verifying the old proverb, so many heads, so many wits.
The Duke of Exeter came to his house and raised men on every side, and prepared horse and harness, meet and apt for his compassed purpose. When the Duchess his wife which was sister to King Henry perceived this, she no less trouble conjectured to be prepared against her brother than was indeed
eminent and at hand, wherefore she wept and made great lamentation. When the Duke perceived her dolour, he said, “What, Bess, how chanceth this ? when my brother King Richard was deposed of his dignity, and committed to hard and sharp prison which had been king and ruled this realm nobly by the space of twenty-two years, and your brother was exalted to the throne and dignity imperial of the same, then my heart was heavy, my life stood in jeopardy, and my comb was clearly cut, but you then rejoiced, laughed, and triumphed, wherefore I pray you be content that I may as well rejoice and have pleasure at the delivering and restoring of my brother justly to his dignity, as you were jocund and pleasant when your brother unjustly and untruly deprived and disseized my brother of the same. For of this I am sure, that if my brother prosper, you and I shall not fall nor decline : but if your brother continue in his estate and magnificence, I doubt not your decay nor mine, but I suspect the loss of my life, beside the forfeiture of my lands and goods.” When he had said, he kissed his lady which was sorrowful and pensive, and he departed toward Oxford with a great company both of archers and horsemen, and when he came there, he found ready all his mates and confederates well appointed for their purpose, except the Duke of Aumerle, Earl of Rutland, for whom they sent messengers in great haste. This Duke of Aumerle went before from Westminster to see his father the Duke of York, and sitting at dinner had his counpane of the endenture of the confederacy, whereof I spake before, in his bosom.
The father espied it and demanded what it was ; his son lowly and benignly answered that it might not be seen, and that it touched not him. “By Saint George,' quoth the father, I will see it, and so by force took it out of his bosom, when he perceived the content and the six signs and seals set and fixed to the same, whereof the seal of his son was one, he suddenly rose from the table, commanding his horses to be saddled, and in a great fury said to his son, thou traitor thief, thou hast been a traitor to King Richard, and wilt thou now be false to thy cousin King Henry? Thou knowest well enough that I am thy pledge, borrow, and mainperner, body for body, and land for goods in open parliament, and goest thou about to seek my death and destruction ? by the Holy Rood, I had leifer see thee strangled op a gibbet. And so the Duke of York mounted on horseback to ride towards Windsor to the King, and to declare the whole effect of his son and his adherents and partakers. The Duke of Aumerle seeing in what case he stood took his horse and rode another way to Windsor, riding in post thither, (which his father being an old man could not do.) And when he was alighted at the castle gate, he caused the gates to be shut, saying that he must needs deliver the keys to the King. When he came before the King's presence he kneeled down on his knees, beseeching him of mercy and forgiveness. The King demanded the cause : then he declared to him plainly the whole confederacy and entire conjuration in manner and form as you have heard. Well, said the King, if this be true we pardon you, if it be fained at your extreme peril be it. While the King and the Duke talked together, the Duke of York knocked at the castle gate, whom the King caused to be let in, and there he delivered the endenture which before was taken from his son, into the King's hands. Which writing when he had read, and seen, perceiving the signs and seals of the confederates, he changed his former purpose. For the day before he hearing say that the challengers were all ready and that the defenders were come to do their devoir, purposed to have departed toward the triumph the bext day, but by his prudent and forecasting counsel, somewhat stayed till he might see the air clear and no dark cloud near to the place where the lists were. And now being advertised of the truth and verity, how his destruction and death was compassed, was not a little vexed, but with a great and merciless agony pers: