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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 112



and other rare golden ornaments, cost her loving lord a sum equal to about four hundred thousand pounds present money. Her groat crown, which she wore on state occasions, was set with gems worth one thousand five hundred pounds (twenty-two thousand five hundred pounds), and, as a marriage present, she received from her sister, Margaret of France, a large peacock, beautifully formed of gold and silver, with a train set with pearls and sapphires. This splendid piece of plate was used as an ewer, the water being forced out of the beak into a richly-carved silver basin, the rim of which was set with emeralds. The father of the injured Joanna of Ponthieu no sooner heard of Henry's marriage with Eleanora, than he applied to the Pope for redress. Put as Count Raymond had early in life eagerly fought against the reputed heretics of Languedoc, and given other proofs of devotion to the Roman See, the shrewd Pontiff judged that the union would greatly strengthen his already almost kingly power over England, and therefore setting at defiance all moral considerations, he, on receiving a princely bribe, published two bulls, expressing his approbation of King Henry's marriage, and declaring that as Henry and Joanna were fourth cousins, they could not have been united together in holy wedlock without injury to their fame, and peril to their souls. Henry the Third was a most extravagant King. To gratify his love of display and liberality, he drained his coffers, without heeding how they could bo filled again. Poor as he was when he married, the expenses of the nuptials and Eleanora's coronation were enormous, and to defray them, he spent nearly all the sum voted by parliament as the portion of his sister, Isabella, just married to Frederic the Second, Emperor of Germany. But even this unjust measure did but reduce his difficulties. The demands against him were still considerable. He, therefore, called a parliament of all the lords of the land, and told them that his own and his sister's marriage had quite exhausted his treasury7, and requested a thirteenth part of all the moveable property in the kingdom ; but they replied, that they had already granted him sums sufficient for both the marriages, and as he had squandered the money away, he must now do the best he could. In truth, his partiality for foreigners, as well as his extravagances, had greatly offended tho nation. In the early years of his reign, he had lavished wealth, place, power on his Provençal relations and friends, and since his marriage, he had showered favours on the Italians, and the relatives and followers of his beloved consort. It was, therefore, only after a solemn promise to hold inviolable the great charters of the land, and to reform his conduct generally, that he, in 1237, obtained from the reluctant parliament a compliance withhis earnest request The hope of the Pope, that Henry's marriage would increase his power, proved no vain conceit. Three hundred Italian ecclesiastics had been sent over to England, and armed with bulls from the Holy See, they recklessly crushed the liberty of the church, and trampled religion under foot. Supported by the tacit consent of the King, they plundered the revenues left by pious men for the poor, and thundered anathemas against all who dared to oppose them in their wickedness. "Behold," says the indignant chronicler, " England, but yesterday the mistress of nations, the mirror of tho church, the pattern of holy religion, has fallen a prey to debased, immoral, cunning agents of Rome, degenerate men, living on the patrimony of Christ, and robbing the righteous and the simpleminded! Oh, it were better to die than look upon the sufferings of our people and our saints !" The weak-minded King paid little regard to this state of matters. As he obeyed the Pope's commands to the letter, and devoutly observed the ceremonials of religion, he believed himself steeled from harm, and disregarding the people's murmurs and his own repeated promises to the assembled nobles, he pertinaciously adhered to his foreign councillors, and inviting over more of Eleanor's relations and friends, conferred


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