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CHAPTER XVII.

RICHARD II. (OF BOURDEAUX.)

Born at Bourdeaux. Buried at Langley, in Herts; but afterwards removed to Westminster. Reigned 22 years:

From A.D. 1377 to A.D. 1399.

Archbishops of Canterbury.

Simon of Sudbury, A.D. 1375—1381. | Thomas Arundel, A.D. 1396— William Courtenay, A.D. 1381-1396. 1413.

EDWARD was succeeded by his grandson Richard, the only son of the Black Prince. The new king was only in his eleventh year, and the heirs next in succession to himself were the descendants of Lionel, duke of Clarence, a son of the late king, who died before his father. The surviving sons of Edward were John of Gaunt duke of Lancaster, Edmund earl of Cambridge, afterwards made duke of York, and Thomas of Woodstock, afterwards duke of Gloucester. A council of regency was appointed, in which the uncles of the king had seats; but certain bishops and nobles were associated with them.

The war still lingered on in France, and to meet its expenses, a poll-tax was raised of three groats a head for every person, rich or poor, of fifteen years and upwards. At this time the lower orders in various parts of Europe had been inflamed by the violent language of men, who dwelt with too much reason on the bondage in which they were held, and maintained the natural equality of all. In England these notions had been spread abroad by a priest named John Ball; and the people lent a ready ear to what agreed so well with their cherished traditions of the Saxon laws and customs. The poll-tax came upon a people in this state of mind like a spark on a prepared train. The first dispute was likely to cause an explosion; and it was not long before such a dispute arose. The tax was demanded of a young girl at Dartford, and refused on the ground that she was under the age. The brutal collector offered a gross insult to the girl, and was struck down at a blow by her father, who was called Wat Tyler, and was supported by the people in his bold deed. He was soon at the head of a vast multitude, chiefly from the

eastern counties, whom he led to London. Rank, property, and learning were denounced. The mob struck off the heads of every gentleman or foreigner whom they met. The Temple and Savoy Palace were plundered; and while the king proceeded to Mile End to meet some of the insurgents, Tyler himself broke into the Tower, and murdered the archbishop, with other obnoxious persons. The archbishop, Simon of Sudbury, had foreseen what would happen, and had spent the night previous to his death in prayer. He was officiating in the chapel of the Tower when the rebels entered. His last words to the multitude are worth remembering. He said, "that when a man could not live either with conscience or honour, death was an advantage to him; and that he thanked God he had never been in a better preparation to leave the world." And then he suffered a cruel death, strong in the might of prayer. Other acts of violence were at hand. In this emergency, when a panic seemed to have seized the upper classes, the king, then only fifteen years old, behaved with remarkable judgment and presence of mind. He addressed the mob with mildness, and promised them the redress of their grievances. In Smithfield, he was met by Wat Tyler at the head of 20,000 men, and a conference took place; in the course of which Tyler was observed to play with his dagger, and even lay his hand upon the king's bridle. Indignant at this insolence, the lord mayor, William Walworth, struck the rebel from his horse with a mace, and he was despatched by the king's attendants. The people bent their bows to avenge the death of their leader; but the king rode boldly up to them, crying, "What mean ye, my lieges? Tyler was a traitor. Come with me, and I will be your leader." They followed him to Islington, where he renewed the promises which he had made to their companions; and they returned peaceably to their homes.

The presence of mind thus shown by Richard gave promise of a glorious reign, which was increased by his marriage with Anne of Bohemia, long remembered for her virtues, as "good Queen Anne." This promise was far from being realized. The king neglected the affairs of his kingdom, and abandoned himself to pleasure and trifling pursuits, in company with his favourite De Vere, whom he made Duke of Ireland. John of Gaunt was now absent in

Castile, which he claimed in right of his wife; and the ambitious Duke of Gloucester took advantage of his nephew's unpopularity, to possess himself of the reins of government, by forcing him to appoint a commission to manage the business of the nation. Many executions took place of persons who were odious to Gloucester, and the king was under his yoke till his 22nd year, when he availed himself of a full council to resume the royal power. Gloucester was soon afterwards arrested and sent to Calais, where it is believed that he was murdered by his nephew's order. Richard now ruled with an utter disregard to law, and many of the nobles who had more or less joined with Gloucester, saw reason to fear for their own safety. Among them were the Duke of Norfolk and Henry Bolingbroke, duke of Hereford, son of John of Gaunt. It seems that Norfolk sounded the other on the means of averting their common danger; but was betrayed by him to the king, and accused of high treason. Richard decided that the question should be tried by wager of battle; and the combatants had actually met in the lists, when the king interfered, and banished both from England; Norfolk for life, and Hereford for ten years. During Bolingbroke's exile his father died, and when Henry claimed the lands which had belonged to his father, they were unjustly withheld by Richard, who seemed to think himself above all law. Enraged at this injustice, Bolingbroke landed at Ravensburgh, in Yorkshire, with sixty followers, and was joined by the Earl of Northumberland, together with his son, surnamed Hotspur, and many others. He had obtained assistance from the Duke of Bretagne, whose widow he afterwards married. On leaving their court he is said to have given its pleasing name to the blue flower which is commonly called "forget me not," by blending it in his badge or device with the French motto which he before had used for that purpose, and which is rendered by those words. When he landed at Ravensburgh, he gave out that he came only to claim his own, though doubtless he meant all along to possess himself of the crown. Richard, after much loss of time, returned from Ireland to crush the

5 A town near the mouth of the Humber, which has been washed away by the encroachments of the sea upon the land.

He

rebellion, and landed at Milford in Wales; but finding that his subjects deserted him, he surrendered himself to Bolingbroke, by whom he was brought to London, and persuaded to resign the crown. Henry declared himself king, in full parliament, A.D. 1399, by the title of Henry IV. claimed the crown as heir to Henry III., on a groundless notion that Edmund, called Crook-back, from whom he was descended by his mother's side, was the eldest son of that king, and had been set aside on account of his deformity. This false pretension was admitted at the time, but Henry's unlawful title was the occasion of the wars between York and Lancaster, which afterwards desolated the kingdom.

The opinions of Wickliffe gained ground in this reign, and to take the most effectual means of spreading them, he translated the Bible into English. Adhelm, a Saxon bishop, had translated the Psalms into Saxon in the year of our Lord 706, and Bede had translated the whole Bible; but for a long time none but Latin versions of the Scriptures had been permitted to be used. Wickliffe's followers were called Lollards. Wickliffe himself was brought before the convocation, but escaped through the protection afforded him by the Duke of Lancaster. He died at his own rectory of Lutterworth, A.D. 1384. About thirty years after his death his remains were dug up and burnt, by a decree of the council of Constance.

Among the worthies of Richard's time may be mentioned William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester. He rebuilt a large portion of the cathedral of Winchester, and founded a college there, and another at Oxford.

6 The word Lollard is probably derived from lullen or lollen, an old Dutch word, meaning to sing or chant. A passage in Chaucer would suggest its derivation from the Latin lolium, tares, as if the Lollards were the tares in the field of the Gospel.

CHAPTER XVIII.

HENRY IV. (BOLINGBROKE.)

Born at Bolingbroke. Buried at Canterbury. Reigned 14 years. From A.D. 1399 to A.D. 1413.

Archbishop of Canterbury.

Thomas Arundel, A.D. 1396-1413.

THE dethronement of a prince has generally been followed by his murder; and it is to be feared that the case of Richard is no exception to this statement. A conspiracy was formed in his favour, and its explosion was rapidly followed by his death at Pontefract castle. The most probable account of this deed of darkness is, that Sir Piers of Exton was sent with seven attendants to murder him; from one of whom Richard snatched a battleaxe, and killed some of the others, but was overpowered by numbers. His remains were interred at Langley, in Hertfordshire, and followed by Henry himself; who de tained Edmund, the young earl of March in confinement, as being the descendant of Lionel, duke of Clarence, and thus the rightful heir to the crown. This young prince was the son of Roger, earl of March, who had once been destined by Richard to be his successor; and on his father's death his claims also had been recognized by Parliament.

The reign of Henry is little but a succession of conspiracies. He was soon called to meet Northumberland and Hotspur in the field, who had been so forward in helping him to mount the throne. They formed an alliance with Earl Douglas, whom they had taken prisoner in a battle with the Scots at Homildon-hill, A.d. 1402; and also with Owen Glendower, a Welsh chieftain, who maintained a lawless independence among the mountains of Wales. The king defeated these conspirators in the battle of Shrewsbury, A.D. 1403; but this rebellion was only the prelude to others, which continually disturbed him in the possession of his usurped authority. It has also been said that he had great anxiety from the character of his eldest son, who gave indeed indications at times of the high qualities which he afterwards showed, but addicted himself to low companions and plea

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