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FTER Edward’s death the nobles of the realm convened in a parliament at Westminster and acclaimed Prince Edward’s son Richard king, the second of that name, and swore the traditional oath of homage to him on July 16 of the year of human salvation 1376. He was eleven years old, and because of his age he was initially subject to the tutorship of Duke John of Lancaster and Earl Edmund of Cambridge, his uncles, and of many of his father’s other friends. The boy was possessed of a good character, but he was of an impressionable age, with the result that the tutors given him by parliament were required to resort to all manner of devices to restrain him in his youth. But when each of them began to serve his own interest rather than that of the public, an avenue of approach was opened for others who were ready to corrupt him. When they saw that Richard was acting in his own right, they gradually insinuated themselves into his friendship. This was the beginning of the evils of Richard’s reign, which so encouraged the French that afterwards, when the truce was expired, they started to make inroads into Aquitaine under the command of Gesquin, the Marshal of France, carry off plunder, and invade by land and sea. And the army which Lancaster had left behind a little earlier when he had heard of his father’s death put up no slight resistance. But the French, partly by force, and partly according to the will of their inhabitants, gained control of a number of towns, among which were St. Macaire, Châtillon, Bergerac, and the Château Duras. While they were thus fighting each other elsewhere, a portion of the enemy, together with their entire fleet, suddenly descended on England and harassed its seacoast with their depredations. For before the English could confront them with a ready fleet, they had plundered nearly all the ports on the west coast of the island, which, because of the nature of those places, are crowded and capacious, burning buildings and towns round about, and taking away or burning ships. And so they returned to Normandy bringing a large amount of cattle and men, together with all manner of spoils. But this plunder was fatal for the French, for the regents of the realm, quickly assembling an army, sent Thomas, the son of the dead King Edward, to Calais with orders to invade France forthwith. And so he crossed the sea and, moving out of Calais through the territory of Artois, marched for Vermand, Soissons, Senones and Chartes and gained possession of these towns, while he was not far distant from Paris and ranged in every direction, burning or demolishing many towns and villages. Duke Louis of Anjou followed the all-ravaging English at a distance of two days, watchful for a suitable time and place to join battle. But, having been forbidden by his brother Charles, he did not dare try his fortune. For Charles was mindful of all the defeats previously suffered at the hands of the English, and so from the beginning had decided to fight against such an enemy only by means of his commanders, and not to permit his commanders to come to blows unless there was an obvious hope for victory, so that France would no more be brought to the brink of catastrophe. And so he had previously allowed all his countryside to be wasted, even up to the walls of Paris, the capital of the realm. And indeed this strategy was all the more useful for his situation because, unless the martial virtues of the English are trained by long usage, there strength is fresh for the business at hand, but is wont to be exhausted by delay, which they cannot tolerate in their warring This is why, as I have said elsewhere, in their civil wars they have been in the habit of staking their all on single battle. I return to Thomas. From Chartres he retired to Britanny, loaded down with the spoils of his looting, and his arrival went far towards bolstering Duke John’s situation. Lingering here a number of days, he compelled nearly all of terrified Britanny to submit to its duke, and then he went to his supporters in Gascony, who during those days were likewise harassing Tours, Anjou, and Maine with their arson and inroads. Meanwhile Gesquin was besieging Neufchâtel in Auvergne, which was being held by dependents of the English, where he was taken by disease and died.
2. While in this way the English and French were waging this eternal (if I may call it such) war between them, both of them, weary of this constant trouble, appointed the Emperor Charles IV their umpire for the arranging of a peace. At his command embassies of both nations met forthwith at Ghent. And while they were discussing a peace, a schism suddenly arose out of the quarreling of Popes Urban VI and Clement VII, and Charles was obliged to break off this business. And so, the assembly dismissed, they returned to fighting, with varying results. But a little thereafter their weariness with killing brought it about that there was a temporary lull in the fighting between the French and English, as if a kind of truce had spontaneously broken out. For Charles V died at this time and his son Charles substituted in his place, so that the French were preoccupied with selecting regents for their realm. Likewise the English, with the boy Richard recently made king, were busied with the same zeal and care for putting their kingdom on a sound footing. Therefore the Peerage, having gained a kind of peace, convened a parliament at Westminster in the king’s name. This was the year of human salvation 1379, the third of Richard’s reign.
3. At that parliament, after many things had been enacted and corrected, at its end (as the custom is even today) they began to discuss the raising of money. Some nobles thought that the clergy should be taxed the same as everybody else, although this had traditionally been commanded by bishops in accordance with royal request. But those who were charged with the management of the commonwealth had a different opinion and maintained that more funds were necessary to match military expenses than could be raised by taxes, especially when King Edward, pressed by his reversals, had spent so much money that he had left nothing to his nephew, and so they thought it was necessary for the people to help their king more generously. Whether they said this because they believed it the best course of action, or because they thought it would go farther towards satisfying their own avarice if a huge tax were to be imposed and they themselves would be its collectors, in the end it was decided that a new kind of tax should be imposed on the miserable people, although those who were more inclined to support the Commons did not give a friendly hearing to this thing, which subsequently became the cause of many an evil. And so a head-tax was imposed on individuals of both sexes being of what the lawyers call legal age, so that each would pay one silver coin called a gross. This was the burden imposed on the poor. But, as was only reasonable, more was asked of the wealthy and the clergy. This exaction, which was novel and unusual, and also intolerable, so wounded the minds of the Commons that afterwards the complaining poor, unable to pay, had dire things to say about the men responsible for such a crime, and when they saw this availed them nothing, they chose to take up arms, as if they were already dead men, and everywhere they assaulted the tax-gatherers. But one historian (with whom I think we need not agree), flattering the ears of the nobility, gives a different reason for this great sedition, He says that a certain priest named John Ball, abhorring his own lowly condition as well as that of men like himself, provoked the common people of Kent to take up arms against their noblemen, and the people, eagerly hanging on this man’s lips, were moved to snatch up arms in their rashness, and then for the first time to make an outcry because one man possessed more honor than another, just as if the people of England had not previously consisted of Peerage and Commons. And although elsewhere more threats than killings had occurred, the men of Kent and of Essex on the opposite bank of the Thames (for such is the name of that county) cried out that they and their fortunes were ruined. Since they could imagine no other way of offering resistance but for the people to defend themselves, this was therefore the one best plan, that they attack the regents of the realm by force of arms. So they dared attempt the most horrible thing in human memory. Encouraging each other with these words, they chose Jack Straw and Wat Tyler, recruited from the dregs of humanity, ready-handed and hot-headed, as their captains. This done and their leaders preaching war, these men, excited as if going to war, approached London and settled for several days on a hill about five miles from the city called Blackheath. Meanwhile, with messengers shuttling to and fro, they finally descended to the bank of the Thames, and they proclaimed, shouted, and announced that, if the Councilors would allow it, they wished to meet with the king and discuss with him matters of concern to the commonwealth. Learning this, so that he might eradicate the seeds of these evils in their first sprouting, Richard came to the river bank in a skiff, and conversed with them from the river. But since he refused to set foot on land, which they earnestly demanded, they became more furious than ever and went running towards the city. On their first arrival they plundered the village of St. George. Breaking open the public jail and freeing its inmates, they took them into their fellowship. Then, coming into the city, they attacked the Tower, where a little earlier the king and his entire Council had taken refuge from the assault of the frantic people. Here at their first assault, contrary to right and law, when Simon Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Hales, the Master of the Order of Knights of St. John, and a certain Carmelite monk named Richard, the king’s confessor, were sent to them, they seized them and in a trice beheaded them in a yard underneath the Tower, rejoicing and bawling they had punished the men who had done the most to harm them. Some report these three were violently dragged from the Tower by the raging mob, which is wholly absurd to say or believe. For if, thus aroused, the mob had assaulted the Tower, it is plausible to believe that they would not have killed just these three, but all the men they were seeking to punish. In the same way, it is not likely that Canterbury and those other two honorable men would have rashly confronted the armed rabble and have been captured at their first encounter. Something else had to have happened, if that which some writers falsely relate should be true, that they alone were violently dragged from the Tower and the others remained safe. So I would venture to assert that which other writers relate, that the king, thinking that the throng needed to be mollified by the sweetener of kindness, sent Canterbury and the other two out of the Tower to address the multitude in accordance with the will of the Privy Council, so that by giving good counsel and advice they would restrain or appease their fury. For it was easy to believe the people, though agitated with rage, would do no violence to priests, God’s special servants, and for that reason these good men fell into their enemies’ hands, who treacherously abused them, to their destruction.
4. Having committed such a crime, the Kentishmen, happy and excited just as if they had won their heart’s desire and had gained revenge on all the royal councilors they had marked down for death, abandoned their assault on the Tower amidst mutual congratulations and turned to the sack of the city. And so they made their way into all its wards, everywhere killing citizens and strangers alike, robbing homes, churches, and monasteries. But above all they looted the house of the Duke of Lancaster and the monastery of the Knights of St. John. Then whatever unfortunate wretches or wastrels, thieves, spendthrifts, and very filthy parricides were within the city issued forth and joined in the looting. What about the fact that when word spread through the countryside, in the blink of an eye a huge number of very depraved fellows came flying and likewise fell to plundering? After the entire city had been ransacked, they burst into the ancient Abbey, and then into Westminster, where they set fire to the Exchequer, full of ancient documents containing the records of the realm. And, having taken much plunder, they returned to the city, breaking open the rest of the prisons and stealing what was left of men’s fortunes. When they had befouled the entire city with their theft and arson, and all men were weighed down with loot, and the rioting had abated a little, then to show that he was in command of the city Jack Straw, the principal leader of the excited rabble, by means of a herald proclaimed some things that must be obeyed. This squalid fellow did this because he wanted to disgrace the king and the Lord Mayor of the city, because they were in the habit of issuing such edicts. The result of this insult was that courage at length overcame fear. For William Walworth, the Lord Mayor for that year, and all the city council were so outraged that, immediately setting aside their fear, they gathered the common people of the city, the ordinary run of sedentary folk and workmen, although they were quite unfit for a fight, armed them, and urged them to avenge their dignity. Likewise the king collected a force of armed men and went into the city to suppress the people’s license and insolence. And while on every side arms were being readied against these traitors, William the Lord Mayor, a man of singular virtue, accompanied by an escort of young fellows, by royal command went to the village of St. George, or, as some would have it, to the horse-market called Smithfield, to see what they wanted. On his arrival the throng received the Lord Mayor with no wrongdoing. Since it was helpless, its fury now abated, its courage had started to flag and it had no idea what to do next. The Lord Mayor took Jack Straw aside as if to discuss making peace. And when he had this fellow, responsible for so many evils, to himself, he grew angry and, drawing his dagger, inflicted a deadly wound a little below his throat. As soon as the mob learned their leader had been killed, it is wonderful to say how afraid they became. For without delay they took to their heels, and in their flight many were either killed or caught and dragged off to their execution. Those who managed to make their escape immediately sent a delegation to the king, apologizing for the deaths they had caused. In convict’s garb and weeping, they approached the king, cast themselves at his feet, and begged that he forgive these wretches, either misled by error or led on by madness. They were given hope for forgiveness. But the king held an inquest, and executed those whom he found responsible for instigating the riot, and heavily fined the rest. And thus in the third day after they began their madness at London, the Kentishmen and their confederates were compelled to resume their sanity, with great slaughter of their fellows. This popular uprising occurred in the year of salvation 1380, the fourth of Richard’s reign. After this Kentish uprising had been put down, the king knighted Lord Mayor William Walworth, and also John Philpott, Nicholas Twifford, Robert Gayton, Nicholas Brembray, and Robert Landrey, Aldermen who had deserved well of the commonwealth, who had freed their city from its extreme peril, and the commonwealth of its fear.
5. At the beginning of the following year a sudden earthquake demolished many buildings. This is a rare thing, especially in England, and a horrible one, and it so terrified men’s minds that the entire year was fearful. For, besides the damage suffered at the moment, they harbored suspicions that this earthquake portended something worse, since the rioting led to no abatement in taxation. The violence of those times was such that the entire eastern part of the nation was simultaneously troubled by uprisings, and while England suffered that malady, Flanders was much more sorely afflicted. For at that time Count Louis imposed new tariffs on wares imported from overseas. At the same time he asserted that he had the right to try capital cases. For their part, the Flemish made an outcry, asking that he remove these port duties and do no violence to their legal system. But when they were given no hearing, they snatched up arms, made John Leo their leader, and adopted a white cap as the insignia of their faction. And so a war broke out, having its beginning at Ghent. Its citizens, accompanied by an armed band of Whitecaps, first leveled to the ground the magnificent palace of the count, which he had in a suburban village. Then they went to Brughes and compelled its citizens to give hostages. They stormed Damme, where their leader Leo fell ill and died. They occupied Ypres, and finally strove to bring all of Flanders over to their side, although Count Louis furiously resisted. They frequently negotiated for a peace, but the folly of the naive people overcame reason and they could never agree on any definite terms, because the count had suspicions that peace made with them, a peace made on terms they were willing to dictate but not abide by, would not be a peace but a pact of servitude. And so in the end the burghers of Ghent entered into a league with the English, so that (as will be shown below) war was resumed more fiercely than ever. This plague spread to France, affecting it with equal madness and savagery. For the regents of the realm, requiring money for their military enterprises, imposed a tax. This so upset the people that it went flying headlong to arms. First the Parisians, who began this mischief, attacked the royal money-men and tax-gatherers, and incited Rouen and other neighboring cities to take up arms. The result of this popular uprising was that the King of France, caught up in these domestic upheavals, could undertake nothing against the English, as he did a little later when the uprising had been put down, as will be told in proper place. But let me return from where I digressed. In the place of Simon Archbishop of Canterbury, cruelly murdered by the Kentishmen in his seventh year in office, as has been said, was substituted William Courtney, and he in turn was replaced by Archbishop Thomas Arundel of York, the fifty-ninth in the series. And Robert Waldby was created Archbishop of York. Dying soon thereafter, he was succeeded by Richard Scrope, the forty-eighth archbishop.
6. Meanwhile pernicious altercations, not without mutual hatred, transpired between Pope Urban VI and thirteen French Cardinals, because after he had been elected Pope they argued this had not been lawfully or properly, and sought to make a Frenchman Pope. Not long thereafter eight of these (for the rest had come to side with Urban) proclaimed Cardinal Robert of Geneva Pope, naming him Clement VII. Hence arose a new schism, hence kings pursued diverse policies, and cities had their diverse supporters. Above all Clement was helped by Queen Joan of Apulia, and King Charles of France took his side with equal zeal. And so it came about that Robert took the great French army he had had when he was sent to Italy as Gregory’s legate, and hastened to Rome to acquire it in the name of the new Pope. But at San Marino he was thoroughly defeated by the Roman people, who favored Urban. The result of this reversal was that Urban, incensed at Charles, asked King Richard of England, in the name of his dutifulness towards the Pope, to consent to aid him with his grace, counsel, and wealth. And that the might do so more readily, he conceded him his tithes and granted a remission of sins for those who would fight for so just a cause. At the Pope’s request, the king gathered 15,000 foot and more than 2,000 horse, and set in charge of them William Beauchamp, a man knowledgeable in the martial art. He was given very warlike lieutenants, Hugh Chavarell, Thomas Trivert, William Helm, Hugh Spenser, and many others. Likewise Henry Spenser Bishop of Norwich, a man excellent for his largeness of mind and experience of many things, was appointed Urban’s legate within the army, so that everything might be managed according to his counsel and authority. When this army arrived at Calais they began to debate where the war should be started. And since the king had instructed these captains that they should only wage war against those people they knew to be supporters of Clement, they were unanimously for invading France first, since there was no man who did not know that the French were his energetic helpers. But Bishop Henry was of another mind, for he thought nothing ought to be placed ahead of the war in Flanders, because when Earl Louis had learned that King Richard had entered into a league with the citizens of Ghent, he banished the English from his entire domain. And therefore at Henry’s bidding they forthwith attacked and took Gravelines. Then they attacked Damme. Next to the town they came to blows with a great multitude of Flemish, killed 9,000 of their enemy, and gained the place. Next they besieged Ypres. For those two towns had been taken a little before by the burghers of Ghent, as I have said, but the count quickly won them back. But when the townsmen put up a stout resistance, they postponed the siege for another day and hastened to Cassel, which they took by force and acquired great plunder. After this they marched to Bourbourg and, receiving its surrender upon their first arrival, strengthened it with a garrison. And within a few days they recovered all places from L’Écluse to Damme. Having done so, they returned to Ypres and renewed their siege, summoning auxiliaries from Ghent. Meanwhile Count Louis, mistrusting his strength, took refuge with King Charles of France, telling him that the English had occupied a number of towns and was oppressing Ypres with greater forces, and so he asked for speedy aid. Charles, who had already learned about the arrival of the English and so had gathered the youth of all France, and had assembled no mean army, hearing from the count that such great danger threatened from the English, as if pricked by new goads immediately hastened to Damme with a strong band of armed man, and took the town with no trouble, the English who had been within retiring to their own men. With that business successfully concluded, he marched to Bourbourg, where the English, aware of his coming, had already gone after breaking off the siege of Ypres. While Charles was encamped here and planning a siege of the town with his captains, by the intervention of friends peace was made with the English on condition they would abandon the territory of Flanders and retire to Calais with the plunder they had taken from their enemy. And so this great war was concluded, in which no good had been done for Pope Urban, although it had been started for his benefit. After this peace had been gained Louis promptly died, and Duke Philippe of Burgundy with his wife Margarite, the count’s daughter, succeeded to his wealth. He soon subdued the burghers of Ghent, abandoned by the English, and compelled it obey his rule. But when the English returned home they easily fell under suspicion for treason in Richard’s eyes, since all men proclaimed they had sold the domain of Flanders to the French, who had now gained control of most of it, and nothing came closer than that for the military leaders of all ranks to lose their heads. Thus these two people so burned with mutual hatred that their minds could not be altered by any argument for peace, even if their kings, daily beset by woes because of these wars, had no difficulty in inclining towards peace. But the means of achieving concord struck both sovereigns as exceedingly difficult, even though there were some nobles who promised their aid so that finally a treaty might be made in some way, with arms either set aside upon conditions or cast away out of fatigue. These were often sent to and fro as ambassadors, and by their means a meeting was arranged at Calais for the discussion of peace. Duke John of Lancaster was the first to arrive, and he was soon joined by Charles’ representative, Duke John of Bordeaux. Here too, when no remedy was found to relieve their sour bellies, so that no spark of war would lay hidden under the name of peace, someday to blaze forth widely, such a false peace was rejected, and a truce was arranged for several months.
7. Enjoying this temporary respite from the war, Richard married Anne, the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Wenceslaus, and received her with wonderful pomp and games when her father sent her to England. The bestowal of this girl occurred in the year of human salvation 1383, the seventh of Richard’s reign. While the king entertained his wife amidst these pleasures and merrymaking, showing off the realm’s wealth and employing extreme liberality, suddenly some of his domestics emerged to create unpopularity for him by serving their own interests. For what they obtained from the king as a gift they sold to others at a price. Or, those who received these things for free felt gratitude to them, just as if what they had received came from these peculators and not from the king. This created a conspiracy against Richard’s life, as if, with him put out of the way, all grounds for hatred would be removed. Thus the king sowed kindness so he would reap the fruit of loyalty. But since he did his sowing privately and for the benefit of undeserving men, he did not acquire the good will of his people. Indeed he brought down on himself such unpopularity that many men muttered that public affairs were being mismanaged, and frequently quoted that Hebrew proverb, Woe to the, O land, when thy king is a child. But these words did not come to the sovereign’s ears, since the king is always the last to hear the truth. But they had no small effect on some nobles who, even if they were eager to remove these bad men from the king’s side and replace them with good men, could achieve nothing, as if they were obstructed by fate. And so there was a conspiracy, but the thunderbolt of hatred which was about to burst on the king’s head, suddenly blazing forth, partly revealed the conspiracy at hand, and partly was able to warn the king to guard against dangers of this kind for the future. There were at court two exceedingly corrupt fellows, Sir John Ainsley and Hugh Carton, who for some time had not been enamored with each other, but in the end, conjoined in their criminality, they conspired against King Richard. But due to their malevolence both fell under suspicion, as one would tell the other that he had decided to make an assault on the king with his henchmen and kill him. Ainsley reported this to the royal chamberlain, and he to the king. The thing was brought to the attention of the Privy Council, and Carton, fetched in, vigorously denied he had ever conspired with Ainsley. Rather, he maintained that Ainsley had wanted to conspire with him, but that he had refused to listen, so that the other was the first to incur the guilt, but that he himself had feared lest he himself would be most falsely denounced if he did lodge an accusation. After these wranglings, since there was no sure indication to prove which was the guilty man, and they refused to name their accomplices, if there were any, the decision was reached that they should fight a single combat. A herald made proclamation that the man bested in this fight would be deemed a traitor, not so the vanquished would be punished without a trial, but so that some proof of this thing might appear by means of the duel. This agreed, they went out and fought for their honor, their life, their fortunes, they contended, they pressed, they strove, to the great suspense of the people. In the end Carton received a bad wound and was laid low, and, expiring, confessed his guilt as if he had been convicted of the crime. He was dragged off to his execution.
8. The kings were still enjoying the truce and felt a distaste for war, being more greatly desirous of peace. The French king sent the Duke of Bordeaux back to Calais, and the English king sent Lancaster, to resume peace negotiations. After they met and offered each other various terms, in the end, since there was no hope for a peace, they departed, their business unfinished. For neither inclined to fair terms. When Charles learned there was all but no hope of peace and no end to their contentions save the decision of Mars, he then settled on an invasion of England, so he might return the war whence it had come. So he called an assembly of his nobles and he explained he was being guided by many examples drawn from antiquity and foreign nations concerning a strategy whereby he might finish the war with the English. He argued as follows: history records that the island of Britain was first occupied by the Romans with next to no effort, then was taken by the English, a people of Germany seeking a new home, then, after a long interval, the Dacians defeated the English and possessed it for a number of years, and lastly the Normans gained it by fighting only one battle. Therefore, having been conquered so often, it could easily be won by French arms, particularly because the crossing from France to the island was short, so many ports were exposed to a hostile fleet, and Scotland, which occupied the north part of the island, was friendly. The island was ringed with places where a safe landing could not be denied and which could be used as a base of operations, and for these reasons he had high hopes that, if they chose to fight in his home an enemy who had endlessly waged overseas war for so many years, undoubtedly they would hear at one and the same moment that he had crossed over and that England was ablaze with war, and soon thereafter that it had either been conquered or made a tributary. They heard Charles with happy minds, and a great eagerness and zeal for waging this war was engendered in them, because they fancied it could be done with ease. Therefore they praised their sovereign’s plan to the skies, and at the same time a great fleet and everything needed to wage war was readied with extreme care. At the same time King Leo of Armenia, fleeing the cruelty and power of the Turks, first came to Pope Urban at Rome begging for help, and then went to King Charles in France. Charles, taking pity on King Leo’s adversity, replied that it is was his greatest wish first to free himself from domestic war, and then to march against the common enemies of their religion, but at at the present time he was prevented because was occupied by the English war and so could scarcely do that. Understanding this, Leo busily set about making it his business to remove the controversies to that the kings might join arms and undertake a Crusade. So he quickly crossed over to England, and when he had explained the reason for his arrival he began striving mightily to arrange a peace. Richard gave him a friendly reception and a kindly hearing, and replied he would indeed embrace peace, if only it were a fair one, and, if that business could be settled, he would not be failing in his support either for Leo’s private affairs or for the public welfare of Christendom. To demonstrate that he would perform both these things with a willing mind, if his quarrels should ever allow him, he immediately chose new ambassadors to go on a peace mission to Calais. And the French king sent his ambassadors to Boulogne to settle the matter with the English king. But fate stood in the way, and the hatred either people felt towards the other upset everything. Thus many days were consumed but nothing was achieved. Meanwhile Leo was held in great honor by Richard, and shown hospitality with every kindness. After having been given a generous sum of money to subsidize his war against the Turks, he went back to France.
9. When the French king learned that nothing had been accomplished regarding a treaty, he decided he needed to cross over to England as soon as possible. And so he commanded that without delay a fleet of 1,000 ships should be outfitted and for his army to assemble at L’Écluse. And when they had come there and the soldiers had embarked, when a favorable wind began to blow the sea-captains asked the king to give the signal for departure. But, either because he had second thoughts about such a great enterprise, or because this was the correct thing to do, he began to procrastinate deliberately, giving as his excuse the absence of the Duke of Bordeaux, who at the moment was detained at Paris to celebrate the marriage of his son, who had wed Catharine, the king’s sister. But the duke made his appearance not long thereafter and persuaded the king to do everything as slowly as possible. For the duke, certainly a prudent man, did not think it advantageous for his commonwealth for the king to try his fortune in a distant clime, where help could not easily be fetched from France because of the intervening ocean. Nor was he very impressed by the historical examples that showed the island had been taken in the past, since he reflected that when it comes to waging war not all men enjoy the same outcome, so he thought nobody should run the risk just because somebody had done it in the past without suffering harm, in accordance with the proverb, not every voyage between the Blue Rocks is a safe one. And so their final decision was, lest the king be said to have lost the optimism he had been displaying or to have flagged in his interest in the war, having gained no success, they should make trial whether French strength could achieve anything on English soil. Therefore to John de Vienne, an energetic and prudent man, was assigning the task of bringing his forces over to Scotland in a fleet of sixty ships, since they were confident that Scotland would be at his disposal, in view of its ancient and constant loyalty to the French. And so he took control of the army, and his speed in departure was faster than anyone had anticipated. Enjoying a favorable wind, he quickly arrived in Scotland. While the French king was deliberating these things at L’Écluse, a storm blew up and so afflicted the cargo ships riding at anchor that some were shattered and many others lost their rigging, anchors, and other tackle, and so were rendered useless for sea duty. So the army was thrown into great confusion, with the result that Charles was much more ready to abstain from the war. And so the effort and expense of many days came to naught, both because of his delay for deliberation and because of the storm’s violence. De Vienne was liberally received by King Robert, and when he had refreshed his army (the winter was not over), he joined forces with the King of Scots and they made a sudden march on Northumbria. Before the Northumbrians could assemble or make their escape, they collected a great amount of plunder and shared it out between their soldiers, wasted the countryside, burned some towns and villages, and headed straight for Durham, to attack the city. But, informed by his scouts that the inhabitants of Durham and all Northumbria were up in harms, he came to a halt and summoned reinforcements from Scotland. When these came, he made an incursion into Yorkshire with the notion of attempting a siege of York.
10. Meanwhile King Richard, knowing for certain that the French king was preparing war against himself by both land and sea, outfitted a fleet with equal energy, stationed outposts of soldiers all around his seacoast, and appointed lookouts to keep watch for the approach of the French fleet. But a little later, apprised that the enemy was not going to attempt anything, having lost the greater part of his fleet, and at the same time that new upheavals were transpiring along the Scottish border, he hastened to Berwick with large forces. Word of his arrival anticipated him, with the result that the French and the Scots suddenly abandoned hope of besieging York. Having come so far into English territory, and being laden down with spoils, they doubted their ability to return to Scotland safely, and for the sake of avoiding the enemy onslaught they turned aside towards Wales, which they began to waste with equal devastation. When Richard learned of this, thinking that at one and the same time he could both conquer Scotland, devoid of soldiers, and cut off the enemy retiring towards Wales in mid-journey, he sent the Duke of Lancaster to garrison all places along the Severn and prevent the enemy from making progress or gathering fodder beyond it, should they attempt to leave Wales, so that, overcome starvation, they could be subdued. He himself entered Scotland and wasted Merch and Lauden with fire and steel. Storming a number of castles, he took and sacked Edinburgh. While he lingered there, he was secretly visited by Robert de Vere Earl of Oxford and warned of an impending danger (it is uncertain whether this was a trick or whether the earl genuinely thought this), who advised him to break off all his enterprises, quit enemy soil, and go back to England as quickly as he could. And to frighten the young man all the more, he said that the Duke of Lancaster felt the same. Richard trusted Robert, being so disturbed by his words that he immediately returned to Berwick, and, having granted the Scots a truce, went on to London, ill-disposed towards the duke. But the duke had made no attempt on the king’s life, nor did he envy him his accomplishment, but, perceiving that this war was devoid of all advantage and had been protracted too long, he strove to resolve it so that he could attend to his own business all the quicker. For he had already fixed his mind on recovering the kingdom of Castille. But the Scots, who were almost done in by famine in Wales, learned of the king’s departure and joined the French in hastily going home. King Robert, having suffered so many reversals, was so irate at John de Vienne for bringing his war over to Scotland that he compelled him to go home stripped of virtually all his goods, so his Scotsmen would seem to have obtained some consolation as a result of that war. This was the year of human salvation 1385, the ninth of Richard’s reign. But some say de Vienne came over to Scotland a year previously and then went home, and that afterwards he informed Charles of the manners and condition of both nations and persuaded him to bring over his forces and make war on the English, since it would be easy to defeat them at home, but not a broad, and that Charles followed his counsel in preparing the war I have described above.
11. At this time a serious war broke out between King John I of Castille and Leon, the son of Henry II, and King John of Lusitania. It is accepted that the cause of the war was this. King John of Castille was married to Beatrice, the daughter of King Ferdinand of Lusitania, and when he died without male issue, he claimed the kingdom of Lusitania as his and his wife’s by hereditary right. But John, Ferdinand’s bastard son, who originally had been a Benedictine monk (or, as some think, a Cistercian), learning of his father’s death, set aside his habit and inherited his father’s kingdom, having been summoned by its nobility. Not long thereafter the kings fought a sea battle, in which the forces of Castille emerged victorious. Suffering this defeat and eager for revenge, John sent ambassadors to Duke John of Lancaster asking for help against their common enemy who had violently usurped the kingdom that properly belonged to himself. The duke, seeing a suitable occasion for weakening, debilitating, and wearing down the strength of his enemy, sent to Spain his brother Earl Edmund of Cambridge with 1,000 light horse and a goodly number of infantry and bowmen, not against King Richard’s wishes. Quickly crossing the sea he was received liberally by the King of Lusitania and two of them, adopting a joint strategy, decided to invade enemy territory as quickly as they could. Therefore they had begun to march with their forces when they discovered the King of Castille, elated with confidence gained by his recent victory, was coming against them with his army. Then, thinking that out of necessity they had to make haste, they approached the enemy camp as closely as they could and, encouraging the men to remember their traditional virtue, they gave the signal for battle. At the first clash the enemy were driven back from their right wing, where the archers were stationed. On the left, the place held by the horsemen, they fought with uncertain results until the bowmen ran up and attacked the enemy from his rear, and he was unable to withstand this enemy assault. About 10,000 men of Castille were lost, and more than 1,000 captured. At most 600 English fell, and less than 2,000 Lusitanians. King John of Castille fled back to Castille, traveling day and night and surrounded by a few knights who had survived the grand slaughter. But the King of Lusitania, now having run every risk, did not dare try the fortune of war any further, and decided to hold his peace a while, until he could get control of his kingdom and the Duke of Lancaster could come to Spain with larger forces. And he was by no means wrong in this expectation, as it will be shown at the appropriate place. Edmund was given great gifts by John and his solders received their wages, so he returned to England with his victorious army.
12. In the meantime Richard held a parliament of his nobles at Westminster, in which, after a slight amount of business had been transacted to improve the condition of the realm, by vote of parliament honors were bestowed on a number of men. For the king’s uncles Edmund and Thomas were promoted from earls to dukes, the one of Gloucester, the other of York. Likewise Earl Robert de Vere was promoted from to Marquis of Dublin. And some say that Richard afterwards made him Duke of Ireland. Likewise six earls were created: Henry Bolingbroke, the son of Duke John of Lancaster, was made Earl of Derby; Edmund’s son Edward was made Earl of Rutland; John Holand, Richard’s half-brother on his mother’s side was made Earl of Huntington; Michael de la Pole was made Earl of Suffolk; Thomas Percy was made Earl of Worcester; and Henry Percy was made Earl of Northumbria. There had been about 292 years when this region had had no earl, after Robert Mulbery, save for Hugh Bishop of Durham, who had been made earl by Richard I, as has been shown at the proper place. I return to my subject. Next Michael was made the Chancellor of England, and Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham and Master of Horse (that is, Marshal of England). The final act of that parliament, so there would be no doubt or contention about the succession, were Richard to die childless, Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March in Wales, was proclaimed heir to the throne, since he was married to Philippa, the sole daughter of Lionel, the former Duke of Clarence. From this time there arose this tradition of declaring a successor, excellent for avoiding sedition, although I am of the opinion that it should rather be attributed to Richard I, who, as I showed in his life, publicly named Duke Arthur of Britanny, his nephew by his brother Geoffrey, as his successor when he was about to go off on Crusade, since he was not married. This Lionel was the third son of Edward III, and since his elder brothers, Prince Edward and William (who died in childhood) had deceased without leaving any children other than Richard, then all of Richard’s heritage would uncontrovertibly have come to Philippa by excellent right, had he died childless. And since this place seems appropriate, I do not think it amiss to set down the pedigree of Edmund and Philippa, so I may make it clearer whether the contention for the throne between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists arose rightfully or wrongly. By Philippa Edmund fathered Roger and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was given to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumbria. Roger sired two sons, Edmund and Roger, and the like number of daughters, Anne and Eleanor. They all died childless, leaving only the eldest, Anne. She married Earl Richard of Cambridge, the younger son of Duke Edmund of York. And so Lionel’s heritage and that of all them who were born of Prince Edward devolved on Richard, the son of Duke Edmund of York, as Anne’s dowry. Hence the Dukes of York afterwards laid rightful claim on the crown, until they finally obtained it. But come, let me set down the pedigree of that house. But come, let me set forth the pedigree of that house. Edmund, the first Duke of York, fathered Earl Edward of Rutland and Earl Richard of Cambridge. The one died without issue, by Anne the other fathered Richard Plantagenet. And twelve children were born of this Richard and his wife Cecily: Edward, who, as will be shown elsewhere, reigned as Edward IV; William and Henry, who died in childhood; Earl Edmund of Rutland; George and Richard, later created Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester by King Edward; John and Thomas, who died in the flower of their manhood; likewise Anne, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Ursula. This is the appropriate thing I had to say about the pedigree of this family, which both Edward IV and his brother Richard III could trace to Lionel by way of his daughter Philippa. And it is from this house, by means of his mother, that Henry VIII, who now reigns, traces his line. But let me return to my subject.
13. The parliament was dismissed by the king after sitting for three months. When the Commons observed that none of the vicious parts of the commonwealth had been healed by this, and not only that its sap and blood, but its every appearance was going to be lost, they were troubled. Thinking that this by all means this needed to be challenged, on the first possible day they chose certain grave men to expostulate with Richard on their behalf. Supported by the patronage of Duke Thomas of Gloucester, a man of the popular faction, they visited the king, who at that time was at Windsor Castle, and in his presence, in sad and humble tones, they complained of the thefts daily committed by his tax-gatherers, and of the unfair judgments handed down by bribed judges, who did nothing to preserve the order or form of the law. The king heard the spokesmen of the Commons, and appointed a day for them to appear at London to set forth the grounds of their complaints to his uncles the Dukes of Gloucester and York, and to the other members of the Privy Council. Receiving this response, the spokesmen went away. Meanwhile Thomas Arundel Archbishop of Canterbury, his brother Earl Richard of Arundel, Earl Richard of Warwick, Earl Henry of Derby, and Earl Thomas of Nottingham, taking this opportunity to mulct some magistrates, joined in counsel and urged the Commons to appear on the appointed day and boldly lodge its complaints. And this was done with a will. For the Commons appeared on the day in droves, openly accusing some of peculation and others of crimes, and begging to be given governors and judges who would pronounce justice equally for all men, who would allow no place for favor, who would not steal. By royal command the matter was referred to the Privy Council. Many men were required to give an accounting not only of their administration of the commonwealth, but also of the life they had led, and as a result of this inquiry some were impeached while others, at the prompting of their conscience, absconded to the Continent before they could be condemned. Yet others, who had stolen more than they could repay, were imprisoned. Among these were Simon Beverly, Thomas Trivet, and William Helms, accused of stealing soldiers’ pay. But at that moment Thomas fell from a horse and died before he could be convicted of theft. William, accused falsely, easily defended himself. Simon, convicted of peculation, was cast in jail But Robert Trivilan, Robert Beauchamp and a number of others caught out in similar crimes and summoned to their trials, fled to the king, who, having small care for his affairs, had set out for Wales for relaxation’s sake. These men were rescued from their present peril by Robert de Vere, Marquis of Dublin, for in comparison to his counsel Richard did not care a fig for the advice of his other nobles. And he attempted to rescue Simon as well. But Gloucester, assuredly a severe man full of acrimony, and a man who could not easily be dissuaded from his purpose, refused to allow the king’s mandate to be followed when in a letter he ordered Simon to be freed. Indeed, the royal letter was the death of the man. For amidst these things the duke commanded Simon to be beheaded. Learning of this, Richard was so irate that he came close to ordering the duke’s arrest and imprisonment. But, fearing this could not be done without disturbance, he henceforth railed at the duke as a criminal, exclaiming he deserved to be punished for having wished to destroy every good man under the pretext of maintaining justice. And he exhibited no small rage against the Duke of York for his brother’s excessive severity, albeit he, a mild-mannered man, was of the strong opinion that the advantage of the commonwealth should be sought with no killing and cruelty. But Gloucester and a goodly part of the nobility who shared his opinion, the less they were moved by the king’s threats, the more they were gnawed by chagrin that the marquis alone was all-powerful with Richard and occupied such a lofty position. Perceiving that he did not hold dear the commodity of the people, the laws, nor the rights of liberty, but delighted in discord, they decided he had to be destroyed. And therefore, first substituting his friends in place of the condemned magistrates, on his own authority Gloucester convened a parliament at Westminster for the purpose of putting the state of the realm on some sound footing, and then invited Richard to participate.
14. Meanwhile the Marquise of Dublin and his hangers-on, by fanning the fire of dislike and providing material for accusations, and by kindling his just anger, persuaded the king to prepare an army with which he could defend himself against the dukes his uncles, who were seeking to destroy him. The young man easily believed the marquise, he believed their turbulent friends, he believed his own men, and while the dukes were holding a parliament at London he himself began to gather an army at Bristol. But before attempting any hostilities, acting on to the advice of the marquise he sent ahead to London Robert Trivilian dressed in disguise to see if the dukes were contriving anything against himself. He chanced to be taken and in a trice was butchered at Gloucester’s command. The king, learning of Robert’s murder, did not cease crying out, calling on an avenging God, exclaiming this was the same violence with which his uncles dared kill his Privy Councilors, punish them with exile, seize their goods, all without his command. William Scrope, the Vice-Chamberlain of his Household, and the marquis increased the royal wrath, themselves also exclaiming that the dukes’ frauds were clear enough now. But after his rage subsided somewhat, the king armed the marquis against the dukes and ordered him to march on London with his army. The marquis, who mistrusted his strength and dreaded everything from that tyranny of the dukes (for so he called it), halted at Exeter, either intending to prepare greater forces there or intending to fight there because of the suitability of the place, if needs must be. Not much later the dukes appeared with a great number of soldiers, and when battle was joined they routed the marquis at their first clash. He, together with Michael de la Pole Earl of Suffolk, made for Scotland at a straight run, and a little afterwards both of them, despairing for Richard, went to Flanders and ended their lives in exile. Marquis Robert had no idea that his power and authority could come to naught so quickly, for originally he imagined he could touch the sky with his finger, because Richard entrusted everything to him, and nothing to anybody else.
15. When inauspicious rumors of the battle were brought to Richard, immediately his wits failed him and he began to despair rather than hope. When the dukes saw the opposing army was destroyed, by a herald they gave instructions to their men that they should cut down none of their adversaries save those who put up a fight or were bearing arms. Hearing this edict, the soldiers set down their arms and begged for their lives, which were spared. Out of the captains who took to their heels the younger John Beauchamp and John Salbery were caught in mid-flight and beheaded. When this civil uprising had been suppressed, the dukes returned to London and, having summoned a parliament, appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury its spokesman. He was to go to the king and show him that through their own efforts the condition of the realm had been improved, and ask him that for his part he return to London to assume the care and custody of his realm. Meanwhile Sir Nicholas Brembrey, who had fled the battle of Exeter for Wales, was arrested during his flight and brought to London, and immediately beheaded, by command of the dukes. He was a citizen of London, one of those six knighted by the king for their singular effort against the Kentish uprising, as told at the beginning of this Book. Canterbury arrived at Bristol and met with the king. He first related the duke’s mandates and bid him be of good hope, then he began to employ many words in exhorting and begging him to return to London, maintaining that his return would be a source of solace to the dukes, and likewise to the people. In the third place, for the sake of clearing himself from guilt, he said that in that usurpation of the realm, for the sake of which the parliament had been held at London, nothing was of greater importance to the dukes and the rest of the nobility than to do only that they adjudged in the best interests of the commonwealth. Although Richard was not possessed of a keen or sagacious intelligence, he nevertheless knew full well that Canterbury was the head of that faction, having been told this by his followers previously, and in a few words he responded to these things, for them moment disguising as best he could his hatred and indignation over the murder of his followers, and departed for London not long thereafter. The dukes and the Londoners received their arriving sovereign with most willing minds. Afterwards a parliament was held. In that parliament the dukes, whose loyalty had started to come into question with the nobility as well as the king, sought to excuse their actions by offering many excuses. They maintained it was very timely to punish some magistrates, money-men, and governors of the royal household who took advantage of the king’s length patience, and wished to exist promiscuously amidst license and improbity so that they might be free to steal, plunder, beat, wound, kill, debauch matrons, and rape virgins with impunity, and therefore they had done everything with impudence. At the same time they set forth many things designed to show they that punished evildoers, not for their own advantage, but only for that of the commonwealth. After the dukes had thus defended themselves before the parliament for what they had done in the king’s absence, so that men’s loyalty towards the king would be more sound, they decided that the people should take another oath of fealty towards him. And this thing served as a warning to many men, particularly to the dukes, that henceforth they needed to be on their guard. For as each Peer gave his oath, the young man could not help revealing his hatred or good will towards that individual. For he glowered at those he disliked and wore a happy expression for those he did, and this brought down much more unpopularity on him. These things done, a tax was imposed on the people for the sake of the war. This was the year of human salvation 1387, the eleventh of Richard’s reign.
16. While these things transpired in England, the Duke of Lancaster went to Spain to recover the kingdom of Castille and Leon, bringing with him his wife Constance, his daughter Catharine, whom he had fathered by her, and two daughters he had had by a previous wife. And so with an exceedingly large train he first came to Lusitania, where he made a treaty with King John and betrothed to him Philippa, one of his daughters, and then he went on to Castille. As I have said above, John, the son of Henry II, had seized the kingdom, and when he learned of the duke’s arrival, he applied himself with great industry to fortify places, prepare an army, and hold his subjects to their loyalty. When the duke came into the territory of Castille faster than anyone had anticipated, and had begun to harry it, from all over its people sent their leading citizens to him to tell him they were entrusting to him their persons and their fortunes, and were prepared to give hostages, recover towns, help with provisions, and do his bidding. Relying on this surrender, the duke thought he should not hesitate to attack the city of Burgos. So he shifted his camp and approached it within a few days. He was confronted by Alvaro Perez, an excellent warrior whom King John had sent ahead with 600 horsemen and a great number infantry to check his enemy’s approach and keep him from gathering fodder, or, if a suitable place presented itself, to come to blows with him. When Lancaster found out that Alvaro was coming against himself, he formed his battle line and ordered his his men to pack themselves tightly, in order to allure him to battle by pretending to have a shortage of men. His plan did not go wrong. For by his artifice he enticed Alvaro into a battle, and with next to no trouble forced him to turn tail. After this no more armed men came from the Spaniard, but rather he sent peace-ambassadors to the Englishman in droves. Since he feared for himself, he offered honorable conditions, and above all he sought to establish kinship with the duke. The duke thought all conditions for peace deserved rejection, since in his eyes the defeat of Alvaro was an open invitation to further fighting, and he was minded to gain the kingdom by all possible means. Meanwhile his camp was troubled by famine and want, and afterwards by a plague. When many men began to die of this, of necessity he was compelled to move himself, and went back to Lusitania, from where he had come. The King of Castille, preferring war to peace, was not behindhand in sending ambassadors to the duke once more, to treat of peace and a marriage. Admitted to his presence, they set forth their king’s mandates and in particular they gave many reasons why it would be in the interest of both sovereigns if peace were made quickly and Catharine, his only daughter by Constance, would be betrothed to John’s son Henry. Giving them a hearing, and at the same time learning from his brother’s letters that everything at home was in a hurly-burly because of seditions, so that the war he was waging was much more perilous (for he had no hope of reinforcements), the duke was so far from rejecting their proffered conditions once more, that he was not unwilling to accept them. Therefore a treaty was made and they came to the agreement that the duke would give his daughter Catharine to John’s son Henry, and he and his wife Constance would cede all the right they possessed to the kingdom of Castille and Leon. For his part, King John would give a dowry for the girl and her mother, assign both of them dowered landholdings, and pay to the duke and Constance an annual tribute of 20,000 gold marks, and, at a fixed time, 300,000 for his expenses in the war. Considering his siutuation, the King of Castile did not shrink from bearing this burden, since by now he had learned how much peril was hanging over his head unless he used more cautious counsels and provided for his future. These things done, and the girl Catharine married to her husband, Lancaster was quick to establish kinship with the King of Lusitania, betrothing to him his daughter Philippa. But he did not bestow her in marriage until Pope Urban had released him from his obligation since, as I have said above, John had been a monk before obtaining his crown. And thus at length Duke John of Lancaster, having settled his Spanish business, returned home safely with his wife Constance and his army after thirteen months. At the time that the treaty was made between the kings, Duke Louis of Bourbon arrived in Castille with a goodly band of armed men, sent by Charles as a help to King john. The King of Castille, after thanking them for their kindness and making a contribution toward the soldiers’ pay, heaped them with many presents and sent them home, as if grateful to the King of France for the end of the war, and as if it were truly accomplished by his intervention alone, so he could not be called ungrateful to a friend.
17. Meanwhile Duke John of Britanny, appreciating that English strength was weakening daily thanks to the seditions among its nobility, since that intestine and domestic evil was ingrained in the minds of the nobles, and grieving that his dukedom was partly possessed by the French, and partly devastated, decided at length to free his nation from its distress. And so he entered into Charles’ friendship, recovering the towns he had lost, and swore fealty towards him. And the Englishmen who had been left to protect him were dismissed without prejudice, some going home, and some to Aquitaine. This development renewed the madness between the English and French. Robert Knolles obtained the province of Aquitaine, and when he heard of the Duke of Britanny’s defection, he immediately ordered his men to harry the land of his enemy. If ever his soldiers knew there was plunder somewhere to be had, there they came flocking, and fought skirmishes daily. Then it came about that the English in Limoges, making frequent raids into Auvergne, were suddenly surrounded by a large band of Frenchmen and stripped of their spoils. After a tumultuous battle they were routed. They were incensed at having rashly fallen into this ambush, and devised this means of gaining revenge for their defeat. With their light cavalry they approached Monserat at night, and, knowing the town was devoid of a garrison, they unhesitatingly halted before its gates. Here they intercepted a certain townsman coming home in the night time, and, compelling him to come up to one of the gates, they told him to wake the watch and say he had some merchants with him who had come with full pack-animals for the fair soon to be held there. He was to ask them to open the gates for these travel-weary fellows so they could find rest at an inn. The townsmen, well aware that the freedom of one’s nation comes before all else, and that no man should think anything more important, at first refused to do any such criminal thing. But after the English threatened him with torture, punishment, and death, he roused the watch as he had been instructed. They unsuspectingly opened the gate. It was suddenly seized and the English butchered the watchmen and, entering the town, sacked it, only sparing its churches and women. The next day they hastily returned to the town of Chaluret, from where they had come, laden down with spoils and taking along captives. And so the English erased the mark of shame with which they had been branded, by deceiving the authors of the trick. Because of slaughtering of this kind, both kings were greatly concerned and troubled about the protracted war, so that they only hoped for an end to the fighting. For this reason Charles arranged by messengers that Richard sent Lancaster to Paris or, as others would have it, to Amiens. After the ambassadors had assembled there, they exchanged various conditions for peace and began to bicker, when the duke spoke up and said, “Should we be thinking of a new formula for making a treaty, when this has already been prescribed for us by King John and my father King Edward? For that treaty was approved by the full counsel and consensus of both peoples, and King Charles ought to rest content with it. That way we can do away with our fighting.” The French spokesmen replied that their kings had had no objection to adopting that treaty, but that it had been violated by Prince Edward, contrary to his oath. Therefore, regarding peace, Charles V and Charles VI had learned by very frequent experience that they could achieve nothing, unless they wished to make such a peace-treaty that would be a bond of servitude. And this was the doing of the English, who wanted to give peace but not accept it, and who were never willing to observe it, once given. Among these wranglings, when both parties did not reject peace, which they greatly desired, but rather its condition, only a three years’ treaty could be arranged. This was the year of human salvation 1390, the fourteenth of Richard’s reign. In this year, for the sake of accomplishing many things, a parliament was held at Westminster. In that parliament both the king and the nobility were of the opinion that it would be advantage to England if some part of the Pope’s jurisdiction were bounded by the ocean, because many men were daily vexed by lawsuits which could not easily be adjudged at Rome. And so it was legislated that henceforth no man could bring a suit before the Pope, so that someone in England might be pronounced impious and declared an enemy by his authority (that is, as is commonly said, be excommunicated), nor might any man carry out such a papal mandate, if he had one. And for those who violated this law the penalty of forfeiture of all goods and life imprisonment was established. Then money was raised for use in the war.
18. Now weapons had been laid down everywhere, when behold, a new thunderbolt flashed in the north. For the Scots, to whom a five years’ truce had been granted, as the English annals say, and had not yet expired, were desirous of plunder and, contrary to law, made raids into the neighboring countryside. At their sudden arrival they burned what villages and buildings they could and drove off men and cattle as their booty. In their zeal for looting they ranged as far as Durham. They were driven off from here by a collection of townsmen, who, learning of the arrival of their enemies by the flight of the country folk, had armed themselves. But because the townsmen who had taken up arms and gone to meet them only gave pursuit for a few miles, and because they themselves were far more numerous, they did not flee, but gradually and deliberately headed for Newcastle with their plunder. When these things had been announced, Earl Henry of Northumbria with a band of armed men gave chase and attacked them not far from that town. Both sides fought stoutly and with no clear outcome, but rmor had it that the English had been defeated because they lost some military standards. After a few days they fought again between Newburgh and Newcastle, in a singular battle which once more was a draw, with many men killed on both sides. Out of the Scots captains, James Douglas was seriously wounded, and soon thereafter the wound worsened and he departed this life. Afterwards both armies refreshed themselves, and each man readied himself to renew the fight. Both the Scots and the English received reinforcements of fresh newcomers, so much that they once more came to blows. They fought with greater forces and spirits than ever, and the fight was so wrathful on both sides that neither side shot arrows, rather they began and ended it with the sword. In the end the Scots emerged victorious. Earl Henry and so many other nobles were captured that their redemption cost 100,000 gold marks. More than a third of the English fell, and less than half as many Scots. After this the Scots grew quiet, when they learned of the truce between the Kings of France and England. For, as I have said elsewhere, they exist in perpetual friendship and grace with the French, and share both war and peace with them. Through all of this, Richard conducted himself slothfully, although he should have especially taken revenge for this defeat. But this young man was a devotee of pleasure and corrupted by the society of his fellow roisterers, and was loath to wage war. What about the fact that, so as to avert from himself any cause for fighting, at the urging of the followers who danced attendance and fawned on him, the bestowed the Duchy of Lancaster on his uncle the Duke of Lancaster? He went their straightway to take possession of it. The citizens of Aquitaine, seeing that they would soon be the prey of the French unless they had a prince to defend themselves, had no hesitation in refusing Lancaster’s rule and when he arrived they were so far from cheering him that they went so far as to announce they were unwilling to come under his power. Having done this, they sent leading men of their cities to Richard to tell him they were accustomed to obeying a king, and could not depart from their duty. This excuse of theirs was accepted by the king, and so the ambassadors were sent home, having gained their wish. The duke, being a prudent man, suffered this rebuff with equanimity and, unmoved, when back to England after a few months. But his arrival in Aquitaine was a source of suspicion for the French, even if the truce had not yet expired, so much so that nothing came closer than for a commotion to be started by their soldiers of the garrison. But when it was appreciated that the duke intended no hostility, they readily stood down from their arms.
19. Now the end of the third year of the truce had almost gone by when Charles sent ambassadors to Boulogne in the hope of arranging a peace, and Richard sent his to Calais. These ambassadors employed great diligence and zeal, but in the end, when no peace could be negotiated, they extended the truce for four years. It is strange to say and to imagine that peace had been so often sought and desired by both sides, but could never be agreed upon, especially when it seemed useful, fair, and opportune for both parties. Indeed the French easily appreciated that war was by no means in their interest, since King Charles, affected by madness, was now less able to attend to the management of affairs. Nor did the English have any great hope for victory, because they suffered from seditions at home, and Richard, although abounding in wealth, nevertheless was a stranger to hard work and often had no difficulty in preferring idleness to war. But such arguments could not overcome their stubborn attitudes, so that peace might sometime be made and they could stand down from arms, since the one was unwilling to remit anything of his possession, and the other anything of his right to ownership. At this time Robert King of Scots departed his life and was succeeded by his son John. His nobles preferred for him to reign with his father’s name of Robert, since John was an unlucky name for their kings: they took this omen from King John of France, who had fought against the English under an unlucky star. Meanwhile the French, gaining leisure thanks to the truce, and at the same time beset by the entreaties of the Genoese, undertook a war against the Africans, who were ravaging all the coast and islands of Italy with their piracy. Asked for his aid, Richard also sent Earl Henry of Derby with a choice band of young Englishmen for the waging of that war. Therefore the French and English, allied in forces and minds, crossed over to Africa. When they came to shore, they were prohibited from disembarking until the English archers opened a way. Landing, they made straight for the city of Tunis and besieged it. The terrified barbarians sent ambassadors treating for peace, and our men were pleased to grant this on the condition that they pay a certain sum of money and henceforth stay their hand from the coasts of Italy and France. These things accomplished, a few months after their departure they returned home.
20. During these days King Richard was suddenly obliged to go to war. For when it was reported that with their inroads the wild Irish were plundering and creating devastation in every province, he judged the had to cross over to the island with an army. Therefore, entrusting the administration of the realm to the Duke of York, not long thereafter he went to Bristol with the Dukes of Lancaster and Gloucester, boarded ship, and with the help of a following wind, crossed to Ireland. And when he arrived there and was given to understand that small numbers of robbers were roaming the countryside and keeping themselves in no certain place, he sent his horsemen in every direction to attack these wandering enemies. And he himself followed after with the foot soldiers, keeping watch to see if he would ever be able to join battle with an assembled band of these thieves. When the Irish saw they were being attacked on every side, part started to take to their heels, and part to stand still, unsure whether it was safer to go forward or turn back. Amidst this hesitation, very many were attacked unawares. But only a moderate slaughter was inflicted, since night fell and they easily retired within their forests. Some English horsemen, carelessly carried away in their pursuit, were shot at by the fugitives’ javelins (they are particularly good at throwing these). I believe Edmund Mortimer Earl of March to have been one of these, whom, as I have shown above, Richard had made his heir, for it is agreed he was killed, either then or earlier or later, by the Irish. And such terror overcame the Irish that four petty kings came beyond Dublin, where Richard was, and entrusted themselves to him. And he was so far from choosing to punish them for their mutiny that he knighted them. But the rest he found to be guilty he partly executed, and partly adjudged to be enemies and confiscated their goods. And, lest the wild Irish make any further plundering raids into the cultivated parts of the island, he placed garrisons at suitable places to prevent their passage. After the island had been pacified in this way, since at this same time Richard received a letter from the Duke of York informing him that his wife Anne had died, he returned to England sooner than he had planned. This was the year of human salvation 1393.
21. After he had returned to England, since he had fathered no children by Anne, nothing was more important for him than to think about a new marriage. And since there was no man in the island with whom he would care to conjoin his blood and breeding, he promptly sent ambassadors to King Charles, asking for the hand of his daughter Isabelle, a girl eight years old. The embassy received a friendly hearing, and after some debate about how the kinship was to be arranged, the girl was engaged to Richard. Afterwards, by messengers sent to and fro, the kings continually negotiated about peace. When ultimately no agreement was possible, a thirty years’ truce was arranged. And thus a treaty lasting the same number of years was made, but no writer of whom I am aware has recorded its conditions, so negligently were the events of that time committed to writing. This was the year of human salvation 1395, the nineteenth of Richard’s reign. After these things were done Richard went to Calais, and very lavishly made all necessary preparations for receiving his wife as honorably as he could. Meanwhile King Charles came to Ardres with the girl, where Richard arrived the following day. Here the kings came together with mutual embraces, speaking each other with pleasant address, congratulating each other, and vying to treat each other with honor, dignity, and grace. For Richard called Charles his father, and Charles called Richard his son. Then Charles provided a lavish feast, bestowing most precious gifts on the English, and Richard did the same for the French. After this, when the betrothal had been solemnized, the girl, although not yet mature, was given to Richard, whom he first took to Calais, and then to England, with great estate. If the others started to take some pleasure from this kinship, Duke Thomas of Gloucester did not. For his hatred of the French was greater, and even if this kinship was arranged, he expected no treaty with the King of France would be made and ratified. But a greater grudge arose from the fact that the King of France retained some principalities and populous places in France which had been English possessions, and were not returned, though frequently asked for. And because Richard did nothing to repair these injuries, Thomas could not restrain himself from accusing him of sloth and exclaiming that English faith should not be kept with the French, who had so often violated their trust. When the king remained unmoved by words such as these, the duke, in order to give him some trouble, so that he would bid adieu to his pleasures and turn from leisure to arms, dealt with William Moore, the Lord Mayor for that year, and with the town council that the Londoners would approach the king and ask him, since things were now pacified and the truce renewed for many years, if he would agree to remit to his subjects the truce imposed for the sake of the war, but not yet collected. The Duke of Lancaster replied to the people’s petition that it, content with his response, should desist from this attempt and pay the tax when it came due.
22. In those days there came to England Count Guy of St. Paul, sent by Charles to greet on his behalf his daughter Isabella and Richard, for his affection’s sake. In discussions with him, the king revealed to the count much about how the Duke of Gloucester was striving with might and main to wage war against Charles, and that, since he had not yet had his way, he was inciting the people to sedition so that at home might blaze forth the war which he had so greatly wished to have abroad. Likewise he told him that, without his instructions, the duke had punished many of his domestics and friends, and lastly that he was contriving his own destruction. When the count heard these things, he abruptly replied that this insult could be borne no longer, but must be avenged immediately, and advised that this evil must be foreclosed, since it was bound to occur unless it was quickly countered. Moved by the count’s words, from that moment Richard made up his mind that the duke and Earl Richard of Arundel, being the two authors of sedition, as well as their dependents, should by all means be destroyed. And so, to put his decision into practice as quickly as possible, he began to observe the duke’s deeds and words more closely. And just as it commonly happens that suspicious men imagine worse things than they see, and place the worst construction on everything, in just this way the king complained with his brother Lancaster and York that the duke was attacking him and was his opponent in all things, to his ruin and that of his domestics, to the destruction of the kingdom. But the dukes, to free their sovereign’s mind of all suspicion, replied that it was no secret their brother Gloucester was sometimes imprudent and very often said more than he could or would wish to achieve. But that came about because of his loyalty, because he was particularly aggrieved that the realm’s territories had shrunk. Therefore the king should be of an easy mind, since he would receive no harm, nor would any danger be leveled against him, as long as he would not disdain sound counsel. For a while these things wonderfully cheered the king’s mind. Meanwhile Gloucester did not cease trying to break the truce by all means possible, he was so hot for war. When this availed him nothing, he began to rage to the point that he boasted he would throw Richard, being a weakling and unfit to govern, into some castle where he could live at leisure without any harm to the commonwealth. When these statements became common knowledge (and they did become common knowledge, thanks to men who disliked the duke), his brothers sharply rebuked him, but he paid them no heed. For this reason the dukes, seeing that there was no further use in warning their brother, and that they themselves were held in suspicion by everybody because of his insolence, realized that he would daily become plunged deeper in guilt if they themselves continued to govern the realm, thought that they should retire from court for a few months. Thus Gloucester, unsupported by his brothers’ authority, would comport himself more mildly. After the dukes’ departure Gloucester also retired to his manor in Gloucester, near that populous village called Chelmsford, and kept himself there. Meanwhile the king together with Thomas Mowbray the Master of the Horse., who was in his very good graces, formed the plan of arresting the duke, and so they arranged a scheme and went hunting. In the middle of that expedition Thomas hid himself in a forest, but the king came to the duke with a few men while on his hunt, and there, having dined, he feigned some errand for which, he said, he must return to London, and ordered his servants to follow him. The duke, not suspecting what was about to happen, joined Richard on his journey. They went along, conversing, until they came to the place where the ambush had been set. Then the king rode ahead on purpose, and the duke was caught in the trap, loudly exclaiming and calling on the king for help. He, unmoved by the shouting, continued just as if he had not heard it. Gloucester was dragged to the Thames by Mowbray, and put on a ship already prepared for the purpose, and taken to Calais. And there, setting the worst example set in human memory, he was suffocated on the following day. Afterwards his body was brought to England with funeral pomp and buried in the tomb he had already built in his own manor. When Richard came to London he commanded Earl Richard of Arundel and his son Thomas, Richard Earl of Warwick, and likewise Sir John Cobham and Sir John Cheney to be arrested by his henchmen and thrown in jail. This done, he summoned a parliament to Westminster to guarantee his popularity and accomplish the other things he had in mind. This was the twentieth year of Richard’s reign, and the year of human salvation 1396.
23. Learning of their brother’s death, the Dukes of Lancaster and York began to grieve, and to be very afraid for themselves. For they told themselves that the king, inspired by the counsels of wicked men, had not shrunk from such a crime, nor were they wrong in imagine that he would not hesitate to commit more and worse ones in the future. They therefore quickly prepared an army and, accompanied by it, went to London. They were most gladly received by Lord Mayor Richard Whittington and the aldermen, who were equally saddened over Gloucester’s death and complained that is had been undeserved. And so, more irate against the king, they opened the gates to the arriving dukes, contrary to his wishes and mandate. Here they consulted about what to do. Various counsels were proposed. Some wanted to avenge Gloucester’s death, others thought that Mowbray, John Holland Earl of Huntington, and others who were responsible for all these evils should be attacked, for since his boyhood they had polluted the king’s mind with their vices and evil arts. But in the end, when their sorrow had eased a little, the dukes decided that for the time being they should conceal the stings of their pain and, if the king would lead a better life, even forget these insults. Meanwhile the king kept himself in a manor at Heltham, about four miles from London, protected, guarded, and fenced in by a great number of armed men, while in the meantime a great number of nobles ran to and fro, earnestly endeavoring to reconcile the king and the dukes. The king used many arguments to purge himself of guilt for the murder: that, contrary to his own will, Gloucester had sought to violate the truce he himself had pledged with the King of France, that he had incited the people to sedition, that he had plotted against his life. The dukes for their part unhesitatingly claimed that their brother had been put to death undeservedly, that he had attempted or done nothing for which he should have been visited with so great a punishment. Among these wranglings, when in the end the king pledged to do nothing except on the advice of the dukes, they were reconciled with him. But Richard, thinking that he could do everything he chose to command, was so far removed from abiding by his promise that he began to comport himself with far greater insolence. For when the nobles appeared for the parliament, he first of all began to chafe their wounds, openly declaring a number of men had conspired against himself, and that Gloucester had been the man principally responsible for that crime and, preparing violence against himself, had been put down by violence and deservedly punished. And the rest were kept in chains, waiting to be condemned by the common judgment of all men. Having said these things, he bid them be produced, and in accordance with his will they were put to the torture, condemned of treason, and their property was confiscated. Such was the punishment of Richard of Arundel. Warwick was exiled, and the others sentenced to life imprisonment. They say that Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury was also sentenced to exile, but others deny this. After this, consideration was given to the state of the realm, and in this parliament, so that there would seem to be some profit for the people, to gain the king some popularity, some men were advanced in honors. For Henry of Hereford, Edward of Abermarle, Thomas of Surrey, John of Exeter, and Thomas of Norfolk were advanced from Earls to Dukes. And Hugh Spenser was created Earl of Gloucester, Ralph Neville Earl of Westmoreland, Thomas Percy Earl of Worcester, William Scrope Earl of Wiltshire, and John Montague Earl of Salisbury, and the Marquis of Dorset was made Earl John of Somerset.
24. When he dismissed the parliament, having settled things in accordance with his wishes, the king not only failed to do anything in a more considered way, or to heed the counsels of the dukes his uncles, but, gaining courage from his successes, more than ever he measured everything in terms of his will, his rule, his cruelty. He threatened all men with torture and death unless they did as he said, and, in sum, the more he exercised his power the more violence he offered, so that the nobility, fearing for themselves, were now on their guard against him as if he were a madman. And so there were a great many who deplored these evils. They particularly did so in the hearing of those they knew to have depraved the king with their counsels and were his intimates, so that they would cease giving their bad counsel so the sovereign would turn himself from naughtiness to good morals. But neither thing happened. For a little later Duke Henry of Hereford, in a chance conversation with Thomas Mowbray Duke of Norfolk, complained, more in sorrow than anger, that Richard was neglecting his nobles, holding them of no account, and doing his best to destroy them, threatening some with exile and others with death. And it never entered his head how much disgrace he was bringing down on himself, and harm on the commonwealth, by allowing the territories of the realm to shrink thanks to his own idleness, and by letting everything go to rack and ruin both at home and in the field. The duke concluded by candidly adding that since Mowbray had all this before his eyes, he most of all men should warn the king, since he had the king’s ear. Hearing this, Mowbray did not take it in good part, but rather he imagined he could turn a profit by increasing his favor with the king. So he held his silence for the present. But a few days later, perhaps fearing he would be blamed if he said nothing, finding a suitable moment, he happily (as tattle-tales are, when they have something to put in their sovereign’s ear) reported to the king what he had heard and how he had heard it, and to make his denunciation all the more impressive he embellished it with many fictions. This thing did much to enrage Richard’s mind, but when his wrath had cooled off a little, he chose to consider the matter more thoughtfully. Therefore he summoned Henry and the Duke of Lancaster and ordered Mowbray to repeat in their presence what he had previously related about Henry. With good presence of mind, Mowbray repeated his words to the king. When Henry heard them, either frightened by the sudden development or transported by anger, for a while he looked at the king in silence. Then, gathering his wits and wearing a submissive expression for honor’s sake, he he asked the king not to put ready credence in what had been said about him, and, with these words, he turned to his accuser and steadfastly acknowledged what he had said, explaining why he had done so, but he vigorously denied Mowbray’s falsehoods. He maintained his innocence and said that, if the king would allow it, he would make the guilt rebound on its author by force of arms. Mowbray for his part stubbornly maintained the truth of what he had said. Finally a day was appointed on which the quarrel between these two could be settled by a single combat. But when this was reported to the Privy Council as a manner only of words, if any such were said, it was not allowed, and the king forbade the combat. And since it was unclear which was the blameless party, so that neither could have his name cleared, they were both banished. But Henry was dealt with more mildly, wheras Mowbray was exiled longer and farther away. And so Henry went to France and received a good reception from Charles, who understood the reason of his exile and considered it of no moment. Mowbray, banished to Italy, betook himself to Venice, where he soon died of chagrin. Richard took Mowbray’s fate hard, since he had had it in mind to recall this fellow, most dear to him, whom he had almost against his will allowed to be condemned. But this exile was a good thing for Henry, who had railed against the king’s slothfulness out of patriotism rather than a private grudge. He, a man of very kindly nature, was so dear to all men that when he went into exile the whole people mourned, as if he were the sole father of his country and was now deprived of his life. Likewise he enjoyed the greatest favor of King Charles and his nobility, so much so that, being he was a bachelor, the Duke de Barry bestowed his daughter on him (he had lost his previous wife slightly before his banishment). But the wedding was immediately called off, when Richard, seeing how the people of England were gripped by a wonderful longing for Duke Henry’s return to his homeland, reflected that it would scarcely be to his own advantage if Henry were to enter into a relation of kinship with the Duke de Barry, a man of great authority. And so, as I have said, he blocked it. These things were done in the year of human salvation 1397, the twenty-second of Richard’s reign, a year notable for the death of Duke John of Lancaster, whose body was buried at London in St. Paul’s Cathedral, to the left of the high altar. Facing it is a chapel he himself built, where two priests offer daily prayers for the souls of all the House of Lancaster. The same is done at Leicester by a priestly college which he founded there, granting it landholdings sufficient support both the priests and the many old folks who, worn out by age, are maintained there.
25. The death of the duke had the effect of shortening Richard’s life. For Richard confiscated his fortune, cheated, stripped and despoiled his son Henry of his heredity, and gave gifts to his favorites bought with another man’s money. This deed struck all the nobility as exceedingly heinous, for the duke’s son Henry had done nothing deserving of banishment and confiscation of his paternal heredity. So they began to think amiss of Richard and entertain evil thoughts about his downfall. And this especially aroused the bile of Duke Edmund of York, because now the king had perverted all right, because he had first stained himself by murder, and then by theft. So far he had tried to do all that patience could accomplish, attributing, conceding, and assigning his brother’s death, his nephew’s exile, and countless other transgressions to the king’s young age and youthful error. But when he had achieved nothing and foresaw that this would soon be a great bane on the kingdom, that Richard by himself had no wit, and would not suffer any upright man to advise him of his duty, he thought that for the present it behooved a prudent man to find some safe place and abandon such a benighted commander in his camp, so that (as the saying goes) he might finally choose to cut his throat with his own sword. Adopting such a counsel, he went home with his son Duke Edward of Abermarle, and henceforth consoled himself with the thought that nothing was being decided about the commonwealth by his responsibility, only praying that God avert everything he saw coming upon Richard.
26. Meanwhile rumor had it that the wild Irish were harrying the entire island with their banditry and inroads, and had killed or routed a goodly part of the royal garrison there. Hearing this, at the beginning of the spring Richard, together with no mean army, first went to Bristol, and then crossed the sea for Ireland, and decided to subdue the Irish enemy. Differing reports of the outcome of this war exist. Some deny that Richard crossed to Ireland, but say that he halted at Bristol, frightened by domestic factionalism, since on the way he learned that Henry Percy Earl of Northumbria and a goodly number of the rest of the nobility, being alienated from him, were refusing to follow him to Ireland, and for that reason he declined to be so far removed from England. Rather, he remained there, and then sent messengers to fetch the earl to him. And Percy, fearing the royal wrath, had for that reason formed a secret friendship with Robert King of Scots so that he would have a place of refuge in Scotland, if need be. So he replied that for the present it would not be convenient to leave his earldom, and that there was nothing about that Irish war which should call him alone from such a distant region, since he had a supply of armed men. The king, receiving this unexpected response (for he had imagined the earl would come to him), began to feel no small anxiety, seeing great men, men who enjoyed great authority with the people, going against his plans. Therefore he feared to leave his realm, and although he was very loath to place these domestic squabbles ahead of the Irish war, nevertheless he decided it was preferable to suppress the fury of his subjects, so that he would be free of domestic dissentions. Therefore, abandoning the war, he adjudged Henry Percy and his followers enemies of their nation and confiscated their goods, so as to teach others not to fail in their duty for fear of punishment.
27. While Richard lingered at Bristol, or, as others would have it (although I think we should scarcely believe them), while he was subduing the Irish, many nobles who were continually deploring the state of the realm wrote a letter to Duke Henry of Hereford, whom after his father’s death they addressed as the Duke of Lancaster, entreating him to come home as quickly as possible, and promised that for the sake of preserving the commonwealth they were prepared to obey his dignity, and to bestow all their zeal, counsel, duty, effort, work, and care to his enhancement, and to expend their fortunes, if Richard, a man thoroughly unfit for government, were deposed and he would consent to occupy the throne. And likewise a little later they sent to him Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury, dressed in disguise, acting in the name of the people of England, to join with him in deciding what seemed best to do in the light of his faith, reputation, and the advantage of the people. He, being a man of great prudence and diligence, gave the duke hopes of gaining the throne of England, with the result that under the pretext of visiting his friend and kinsman Duke John, he quickly obtained leave from King John and went to Britanny. From there, in the company of a large band of Bretons, he sailed to Portsmouth on the south coast of Britain. There he spent ten days while his friends came flocking. Then, escorted by Canterbury, he progressed to London, where he was received with extreme enthusiasm by the citizenry, so much so that nothing was more wished-for than his arrival. Learning that the nobility supported him with enthusiasm, in the company of Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury and Thomas, the son of Earl Richard of Arundel, who had a little earlier escaped custody and fled to him, Duke Henry went to Yorkshire, and when he came there a throng of nobles and commoners alike came running without delay, such is human nature’s desire for novelty, and they hailed him as their king, heaping King Richard with reproaches for being silly, idle, and unworthy of government. Afterwards a great throng of men gathered and took counsel about deposing Richard. In a trice they snatched up arms, and went off in different directions to occupy strategic places, so they might make war on Richard’s supporters. Meanwhile these things were reported in Ireland, and when the king heard them, since Ireland was now pacified, he hastily returned to England, bent on confronting the danger, and retired to the very strong castle called Flint. This is a castle on the Welsh seacoast ten miles from the town of Chester. Here, when Richard learned the people had gone over to Henry, for a long while he was unsure what counsel to adopt. For on the one hand he saw that he had a just reason to fight, pinned no little hope on the loyalty of the Welsh, and, as he proclaimed, had a clear conscience. But on the other, his enemies’ strength was greater, his subjects were defecting, and his fate uncertain. The latter considerations frightened him more than the former ones offered him encouragement, so of necessity he chose to remain where he was until he could see that everything was safer. Now he had come to appreciate that he was deserted, abandoned, and forlorn by those men thanks to whom he should have acquired wisdom in good time, since now it was too late. For indeed at this time an example was set which can stand as enduring testimony for all men who have power over others, that Henry was summoned to the throne and had gained such great support, although previously, perhaps, he had never dreamed of this, whereas Richard was abandoned by his subjects, who, if he had done bad things, had done so out of error rather than savagery. So much do mortals expect future things to be better that they disdain present ones. When the duke had learned that Richard had gone to Wales (or rather, if I may say so, gone to wailing, for there the prince wept a flood of tears), and that he had fallen from his high estate, he immediately gathered a large army so as not to lose the chance of overcoming his adversaries, and went to London, or, as others would have, marched from Yorkshire to Bristol. There he ordered that William Scrope, the royal Treasurer, John Bush, and Henry Green, who had swiftly been arrested, be beheaded. Then he directed his march towards Chester, and when Thomas Percy, the brother of the Earl of Northumbria and Chamberlain of the Royal Household, learned that he had come there, since he was already ill-disposed towards Richard for declaring his brother a traitor, broke his staff in the royal court in the presence of the entire household (for the staff is the insignia of that domestic office), and immediately went over to the duke. When this was done, almost all the king’s servants slipped off in various directions. Meanwhile Henry arrived, and without difficulty captured Richard, devoid of all his retinue, brought him to London, and put him in the Tower.
28. Matters settled to his satisfaction, first of all the duke decided to hold a parliament of the nobility, that the rest of the business might be settled. Meanwhile the servants permitted access to him tried to cheer up, sustain, console, and finally exhort Richard, grief-stricken, broken, and done in, that now he should be watchful for his safety. They told him that it was the thing, in view of the present situation, that he should not unwillingly allow himself to be cast down from all dignity and be stripped of his wealth by the will of his adversaries, so that Henry might gain the throne without his murder since it was now clear, obvious, and evident that he shoud wish no more than to save himself by this way of life, and maintain himself in good hope, which is something that always attends on a man as long as he is alive. This was good advice, in view of the present necessity, but of no value, as the outcome shows. How much more useful it would have been if Richard, when he had the chance, when he had professed himself to be the king, that is, the guardian of the people, had thought he should above all else guard his own person. He was deserted by all men, who had already deserted them by being a bad guardian, and easily fell into his enemies’ power. It was not difficult to persuade someone who was by far the saddest and most wretched of all men, who now despaired of almost everything, to abdicate his rule. Therefore there was nothing he refused to do, and by means of his guardians he asked for a conference, and if possible, a private talk with the duke, because he indicated there was something he wished to share with him which would be to his great advantage. The guardians informed the duke of this, and he immediately came to Richard. Here Richard began to speak of many things, but above all else he said he was aware of the truth of what parliament had been told, that his, that he had governed the realm badly, and so he wished to be freed of that care. And he begged Henry for his safety and implored him to have mercy, reminding him of all the benefits he had conferred on him. To these things the duke replied that he should be of good cheer, promising he would be safe, if only he would abdicate the throne. Then he met with the parliament and related what Richard had said. And in transacting this business he chiefly relied on the support of the Duke of York, who had come to London during those days, having heard everything was in turmoil. All men wished that Richard would voluntarily do that which they most eagerly desired, so he would not seem despoiled of the crown by violence. And so not much later, at a meeting of the parliament of nobles held in the Tower, Richard, dressed in royal garb, crowned and carrying his scepter, is supposed to have made a public declaration in words such as these: “I Richard, King of England, Duke of Aquitaine and Lord of Ireland, confess that during these twenty-two years I have ruled I have not done everything for the sake of the commonwealth, as I ought, being partly depraved by the counsels of bad men, and partly inspired by youthful error and the enticements of pleasures. As a result of this, I am more affected by sorrow than any one of you, as I think, since I have come to this, that no further room for pity is left for me, nor is it permitted me to correct the mistakes I have pardonably made in my youthful error, particularly being maturer at this age, which doubtless should have changed everything for the better. For how often is there found a lad of such virtue, so well-mannered, that he does not err, being driven by the heat of that age, yet when he became graver in years, does not at length amend his mistakes? But since this is not granted to me, so that the realm may find relief by my downfall and suffer no more harm, as far as I am concerned it is in your power to make my kinsman Duke Henry, a man worthy of rule, your king, and now I voluntarily renounce all my dignity, and yield my possession and right.” Saying these things in a weeping voice and with a sad expression, with his own hands he passed the crown and scepter to Henry, asking them all by name that henceforth he be permitted to lead a private life. And, induced by the sweetness of such a life, the prince, lest he be obliged to suffer punishment, surrendered all his possessions, as if they were guarantees against injury. Nevertheless, he was soon deprived of this life by his enemies. For, having been stripped of his royal majesty, he died in the same Tower a few days afterwards. But some think (and I gladly agree with them) he did not long stay in the Tower, so that he might be killed far from the company of men, with less infamy and calumny for that act of regicide. For, human nature being what it is, that unhappy sovereign, beset by so many woes, was first sent to the castle of Leeds in Kent, then a little later was secretly conveyed to Pontefract, where he is said to have been starved to death, as even today a steady rumor would have it, which states that every day a meal was set for him in regal style, in order to conceal the crime, but the hungry man was not only forbidden to eat it, but even to touch it. But I should say that this kind of cruelty was hardly characteristic of Henry, a temperate man, for it was worse than dying of thirst amidst water. And yet I should not omit this, so as to satisfy the vulgar, who easily pass down their old wives’ tales to posterity. He lived thirty-three years, and reigned twenty-two, and died in the year of human salvation 1398. His body was taken to the monastery of Langley, belonging to the Preaching Order of monks, twenty miles from London, and was buried there. But afterwards, by order of King Henry V, it was exhumed and brought to the tomb of his ancestors at Westminster. He did this, I believe, to make amends for his father’s broken promise to Richard. At that time there were a large number of great men possessed of wit and learning, mentioned above at apposite moments, and so there is no need to repeat them. Richard had comely grace, a mind that was not low-down, but ruined by the perversity, improbity, and uncouthness of his associates. His greatest unhappiness was that he fell into such a calamity that he was compelled to abjure that great boon for which the rest of mankind is prepared to abandon everything else. This and similar things very often befall those sovereigns who imagine they need fear no fall while they in power.
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