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They are not merely memorials of his affection, but proofs of the skill of the architects and builders of the period, the Freemasons; an incorporated body of men, who had for more than two centuries been employed on almost all the cathedrals and churches in Europe. To this and the following reign we attribute the choir of Exeter, the nave of York, the lantern of Ely cathedrals, and portions of Bristol abbey and Lichfield cathedral. The Early English style had now given way to one which, from its richness, was termed the Decorated, which continued to advance in grace and elegance until the time of Richard II., when it began to yield to another called the Perpendicular, a style superior, perhaps, in gorgeousness and splendour, but inferior in lightness and grace.
The clergy were sadly oppressed by Edward, who was continually extorting money from them to carry on his wars; and it is to be feared that one of the perverse practices which was remedied at the Reformation, the withholding the Cup from the laity in the administration of the Holy Communion,-may be traced to this period. But, on the whole, the spiritual condition of the Church was much improved under the Archiepiscopates of Peckham and Winchelsea, who filled the throne of Canterbury during Edward's reign. For instance, the former held a synod (or assembly of the Church) at Lambeth in A.D. 1281, where more frequent preaching to the people, and in plain unlearned language, was enjoined; and various subjects were specified on which the priest of every parish was to instruct his flock, four times a year, or oftener if need be. These subjects were: the Fourteen Articles of Faith; the Ten Commandments; the Two Evangelical Precepts of Love; the Seven Works of Mercy; the Seven Deadly Sins; the Seven Principal Virtues; the Seven Sacraments: and the synod went on to state the manner in which these topics might be best brought home to men's minds. Of course, as the above enumeration will have shown, there were points on which the synod was more curious than Scripture required; but it is evident that it had the wellbeing of the Church at heart. The efforts of Archbishop Winchelsea were directed against an evil which had for some time been growing up in the Church, the holding of more benefices than one by the same person, and, con
sequently, the neglect of parishes by their legitimate and' appointed pastors.
EDWARD II. (OF CAERNARVON.)
Born at Caernarvon. Buried in Gloucester Cathedral. Reigned 20 years. From A.D. 1307 to A.D. 1327.
Archbishops of Canterbury.
Robert Winchelsea, A.D. 1294-1313. | Walter Reynolds, A.D. 1314— (Vacancy one year.)
EDWARD of Caernarvon did not inherit his father's wisdom together with his throne. His reign is similar to that of his grandfather, whom he resembled in character. governed by unworthy favourites, whom he chose for their personal beauty and accomplishments, and whose insolence became insufferable to his barons. The first of these was Piers de Gaveston. It was hoped that Edward's marriage with Isabel of Valois, sister to the French king, would divert him from his weak attachment to that favourite; but it remained as strong as before. He was forced by the barons to send Gaveston out of the kingdom, but soon found some excuse for recalling him; and at length the favourite was seized by Guy, earl of Warwick, and beheaded at a hill near Warwick, still called Gaverside.
While Edward was thus at variance with his barons, Robert Bruce had carried every thing before him in Scotland; and the king now resolved to recover what his father had gained in that country at such a sacrifice of human happiness. He marched to the relief of Stirling at the head of a vast army, which was totally defeated by Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn. (A.D. 1314.) This battle is one of the most glorious events in Scottish history, and secured the independence of that country under Bruce, whose name is joined with that of Wallace, as the most renowned and dearest in the annals of Scotland.
The reign of Edward was afterwards disturbed by insurrections in Ireland and Wales; but still more by the con
sequences of his affection for Hugh Despencer, who (together with his father) succeeded to the place which Gaveston had held in the king's affections, and was equally odious to the barons from his rapacity and pride. The barons were now headed by the Earl of Lancaster, the cousin of Edward, and the Despencers were forced from the kingdom. Recalled by Edward, they were the occasion of a new revolt, in which the Earl of Lancaster was taken prisoner, and beheaded at Pontefract, with many of the noblest barons in England. The Despencers, however, excited the bitter enmity of Queen Isabel; and that princess took advantage of a pretext to withdraw to her brother's court, with Prince Edward, her son. While at Paris, she gave herself up in the most criminal manner to the influence of Roger Mortimer, a nobleman who had special ground of enmity against the Despencers. Having arranged a treaty of marriage between her son and Philippa, daughter of the Count of Hainault, she returned to England with an army raised by that prince, and landed in Suffolk, where she was joined by great numbers of the nobles. The king was forced to fly into Wales. The elder Despencer was taken and beheaded, at the age of ninety; the younger was afterwards hanged; while Edward, having been discovered, was kept a prisoner, and forced to resign his crown to his son (then fifteen years of age); during whose minority the queen and Mortimer were declared regents. (A.D. 1326.)
Such was the miserable end of Edward's reign; during which, the effect of those measures which his father had taken to resist the influence of the pope, was lessened by Edward's continual applications to Rome for assistance against his barons.
It may be remarked, that at this time the popes had removed their court from Rome to Avignon. A violent contest had been going on between the popes and Philip the Fair, king of France. On the death of Benedict XI., Philip obtained the election of a French prelate, who took the name of Clement V., and who removed his court to this French city, where they resided about seventy years. It may also be mentioned, that in this reign the order of Knights Templars was dissolved. It was an order of soldier-monks, originally instituted at Jerusalem by the Crusaders. Having possessed itself of great wealth in all
the kingdoms of Europe, and being governed only by its own superior, its power became dangerous to the governments under which it existed, and was now put down by a common effort.
EDWARD III. (OF WINDSOR.)
Born at Windsor. Buried in Westminster Abbey. Reigned 50 years. From A.D. 1327 to A.D. 1377.
Archbishops of Canterbury.
Simon Mepham, A.D. 1327—1333. | Simon Islip, A.D. 1349–1366.
John Stratford, A.D. 1333—1348.
(Vacancy one year.)
Thomas Bradwardine, A.D. 1349 -1349.
Simon Langham, A.D. 1366—1368. William Wittlesea, A.D. 13681375.
Simon of Sudbury, A.D. 1375-1381.
THE deposed king was at first entrusted to the Earl of Lancaster, and treated with much gentleness; but was soon removed to Berkeley castle, and committed to the care of two ruffians named Gurney and Maltravers. Under their charge, he was lodged in damp vaults, and even hurried from place to place at night in the hope that he might be provoked by ill-usage to put an end to his own life. It is said that when he desired to be shaved, he was supplied with dirty water from a ditch. At last he was secretly despatched in his prison. Shrieks were heard from the castle at midnight; and it is believed that the unhappy prince was killed by means of a red-hot iron, which was passed into his body in such a way as to cause no outward marks of violence.
Mortimer had been made Earl of March, and surpassed Gaveston and Despencer in haughtiness. He procured the execution even of the Earl of Kent, brother to the late king, on a charge of treason; and perhaps thought his power secure at the very moment when his downfal was at hand. The young king had reached his eighteenth year, and had given proofs of spirit and ability in delivering the northern counties from an invasion of the Scots under Bruce. He resolved to submit no longer to a yoke which was disgraceful in so many ways; and was able to surprise the Earl of March in the castle of Nottingham by a secret
passage still called Mortimer's Hole. It was in vain that the queen cried out to him, "Fair son, have pity on the gentle Mortimer." The favourite was seized, and afterwards hanged near London; while Isabel was confined to one of her manors, where she lived many years, and received little notice from Edward beyond an annual visit of form.
The king soon led an army into Scotland in support of Edward Balliol, and gained a great victory over David Bruce at Halidon-hill, near Berwick-upon-Tweed, A.D. 1333. He would probably have conquered that kingdom, had he not been eager to prosecute his claim to the crown of France. This claim was derived through his mother, and had no true ground, according to the Salic law, which prevailed in France, and, indeed, in most European states during the middle ages. Its enactments were, that there can never be a queen regnant; and that the daughters of kings cannot succeed to the throne, or transmit any right to their sons to the prejudice of the nearest heir male by a male descent. It involved him in wars which bore no lasting fruit, beyond the renown for chivalrous bravery and generosity, which throws such a brilliancy over the memory of Edward and his son, the Black Prince, so called from the colour of his armour. It must also be owned that the victories of these great leaders tended to form in the English that high national character and noble self-reliance, without which no people has ever been truly great.
A great fleet had been collected at Sluys to oppose the landing of Edward; and was completely destroyed (A.D. 1340) by the English, with small loss to themselves. To how many naval engagements between France and England has a similar result been granted!
The greatest victories, however, were gained at Cressy and Poictiers; and have made the names of those places familiar to every Englishman.
The battle of Cressy was fought with Philip of Valois, king of France, A.D. 1346. The French are said to have had an army of 120,000 men, while the number of the English was not more than 30,000: and Edward himself only watched the battle from a neighbouring hill, that (in his own words) his son might "win his spurs" the gilt spurs, which were the distinction of knighthood. Thirty thousand of the