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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 59



city, in June, 1141, and gave hcrahearty out not enthusiastic welcome. She took up her residence in the New Palace at Westminster, and as nothing now stood in the way of her coronation, except the necessary preparation for the grand occasion, she assumed all the airs of a tyrannical sovereign, or rather an inflexible despot. Tims, whilst Westminster Abbey was ringing with the sounds of workmen all busy preparing the church for her reception, on her inauguration day, she, by her own unjust severity, for ever drove from her grasp that sceptre which her finger tips already touched. The Londoners were the first to feel the force of her tyranny, and the first to revolt. Her coffers being empty, she imposed on them an enormous subsidy —a step, though pressed upon her by necessity, highly injudicious. The citizens, already impoverished by largely contributing to the cause of Stephen, asked for time. " The king has left us nothing," said they, in humble accents, " but if your majesty will govern us according to the good laws of the sainted Edward, or the charter of your worthy sire, King Henry, we will, with all speed, raise the required amount." " Ye impudent knaves I" retorted the Domina, whose eyes glared with unrcpressed rage, " how dare ye mention charters and privileges to my very face, when ye have so recently been supporting my foes ? Ye have expended your wealth in endeavours to ruin me, therefore will I in nowise relax mv demand ; and hark ye, knaves, if ye ao not instantly fetch the money, 1 will force it from ye at the sword's point." The citizens retired, but not to do the bidding of the tyrannic Domina. At a town council, they reported ber despotic conduct, which so enraged their fellow-Londoners, that, by an unanimous vote, they resolved to again embrace the cause of Stephen, and with this view their deputies instantly communicated with Matilda of Boulogne, who had retired to Kent, the only county that had remained faithful to her, and who promised to immediately march to their support, with an army of stalwart Kentish men, commanded by herself, her son Eustace, and Sir William Y pres. On the receipt of this good news, the Londoners rose en masse in insurrection. Every bell in the ancient city boomed forth the alarming war cry, and amidst the clatter of arms andhorses' hoofs, and the busy bustle of the silent but determined citizens, a secret messenger hastened to the Empress, and rushing into her presence, exclaimed, "Ely ! lady, fly ! all London is in revolt ! Queen Matilda's Kentish men have already crossed the Thames ! To horse this instant, or you are your foes' prisoner !" Leaving the cloth spread on the dinner table, the haughty Domina and her chivalric followers, mounted on swift chargers, fled as for their very lives towards Oxford. No sooner had they cleared the city walls, than they were closely pursued by a number of the citizens, who, but for the fleetness of their horses, and the formidable array of their stalwart knights, would have made them prisoners. Well it was for the Empress, that in this instance she listened to the voice of her councillors, for scarcely had she left her palace, when the excited mob hurst open the doors, and finding their prey gone, stole the plate, and burnt and destroyed the furniture. The Empress reached Oxford in safety, but on the road her partizans had so deserted her, that she entered the city of learning with scarcely a follower besides the Earl of Gloucester and Milo Eitz Walter. Immediately after the Empress had passed out at the city gates, Matilda of Boulogne entered London in triumph, where the well-pleased citizens swore allegiance to her and her imprisoned lord. Having driven her foe from the capital of her kingdom, the Queen next applied to her brother-in-law, the Bishop of Winchester, who had already withdrawn from the Empress in disgust, and who was anxiously waiting for an opportunity to again espouse the cause of the fallen Stephen. This opportunity had now arrived, and the purged but powerful prelate, having listened with pleasure to the entreaties of the Queen, commenced the most active measures in r. 2


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