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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 82



he writhed, kicked, tore his hair out by handfuls, and uttered the most horrible oaths ; and after venting- the rankle of his rage by cursing his son John, cursing his son llichard, cursing those around him, and cursing the day of his own birth, he was conveyed in a state of mental and bodilvprostrution to the castle of Chinon, where he was seized with a fatal fever. On finding that death was approaching, he caused Geoffrey, the son of Fair Rosamond, the only one of his children present, to convey him before the high altar of the adjacent cathedral, where, after an earnest conversation with his kind-hearted natural son, whom he presented with a valuable ring, he expired, alternately execrating Eleanora, Alice, Becket, and his undutiful sons, on the sixth of July, 1189. Scarcely was the ·royal corpse cold, when it was stripped by the attendants of rings, jewels, and clothing, and left naked in the church ; a desertion to which the greatest of menare liable, but which is a tolerable proof that the manners or conduct of Henry could have excited no personal regard. Immediately the proud, vengeful, but withal generous-hearted Richard was informed of the death of his sire, and his own accession to the English throne, he, overcome with grief and remorse, hastened to superintend the royal funeral at the Abbey of Fontevraud, where, according to his last will, Henry desired to be buried. The body of the departed King was placed on a bier in the abbey church, with face uncovered and clad in royal robes, brocaded gloves, white leather shoes, and gilded spurs, a crown on the brow, a sword in one hand and a sceptre in the other ; when Richard entered the abbey, and with mingled feelings of awe and devotion, approached the high altar. But scarcely had he bent his knees in fervent prayer, when a torrent of blood gushed irom the mouth and nose of his father's body, which so horrified him, that he exclaimed, " Good God ! I have murdered him ; his very blood accuses me !" The monks in attendance wiped the blood from the lifeless face, but as it continued to flow, he, in a paroxysm of terror, averted his eyes from the bleeding corpse, and precipitately hurried out of the cathedral. As nothing further happened to disturb the obsequies, the remains of the departed monarch were solemnly interred in the choir of the abbey which he himself had founded, and where, in after years, a stately tomb was erected to his memory by the Lady Abbess Jeanne Baptiste de Bourbon, natural daughter to Henry the Fourth of France. Such was the end of Henry the Second, a King who, by energy, prudence, and moderation, greatly improved the condition of his subjects, and whose vices, although many, marred the happiness of himself and his family, without obstructing the rising prosperity of England. By his accession to the throne, England became more powerful than France, as, besides attaching large and rich continental provinces to the crown, he strengthened the power of the nation by the conquest of Ireland. That curious document, the bull from the Pope sanctioning King Henry's invasion of the Emerald Isle, is worth recording as an evidence of the power of the then sovereign Pontiff, and the great care taken by him to plant that religion on the Irish soil which has since taken so firm a root in the hearts of the people, that to this day they acknowledge no other church but that of Rome. " Adrian, servant of the servants of God, to Ms son in Christ Jesus, Henry, King of England, sends greeting an apostolical benediction. " The desire your magnificence expresses to advance the glory of your name on earth, and to obtain in heaven the prize of eternal happiness, deserves, no doubt, great commendations. As a good catholic prince, you are very careful to enlarge the borders of the church, to spread the knowledge of the truth amongst the barbarous and ignorant, and to pluck up vice by the roots in thefield of the Lord ; and in order to this, you apply to us for countenance and direction. We are confident, therefore, that, by the blessing of the Almighty, your undertaking will be i crowned with a success suitable to the no


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