FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
issued, that the cities through which the royal train would pass on its route to London, should bo adorned with hangings, garlands, and illuminations ; and that when the procession approached, the bells should ring with joy, and the principal inhabitants ride forth in their nest array to testify their loyal affection ; " and thus," says Matthew Paris, " Henry and Eleanora were received with superstition and pride, as ostentatious as it was splendid."
On the first of December, Queen Eleanora's mother, the Countess of Provence, visited England, with her third daughter, Sancho, who came to be united in marriage with the King's brother, Earl Richard, now a widower. The wedding was solemnized at Westminster, on St. Clement's day, with great pomp and rejoicing. During the festivity, London was filled with splendour and conviviality. The houses were decorated with silken curtains, emblazoned banners, and fantastic devices. Every kind of vanity and glory was displayed in the wonderful performances of the gleemen, the costly garments of the feastcrs, and the gorgeousness of the pageants ; whilst, at the wredding dinner, the edibles were so abundant and various, that the tables were garnished with thirty thousand dishes. Put although these doings delighted the gay and the profligate, the thoughtful and. the sober-minded beheld in them only future bitterness. " Alack.' alack !" said they, " this union fixes the yoke of the greedy foreigners more firmly on our shoulders, and strengthens Queen Eleanora in her evil purposes."
As on other similar occasions, Henry, who was always in poverty, raised the funds for this festivity by mulcting the Jews. Indued, that ancient people suffered severe spoliation in this reign. During a period of seven years, one Jew alone, Aaron of York, to avoid imprisonment, had paid the enormous sum of fourteen thousand marks, and ten thousand in gold, whilst numerous others paid in proportion. It must, however, be borne in mind, that the Jews, being usurers and withal not over-honest, were so greatly despised by the people, that
they probably would have been expelled
the kingdom, but for the protection of
the King, who was absolute lord of their
persons and property, and that he might
himself rob them at his pleasure, granted
them certain rights and privileges, and
permitted no one to do them wrong.
Early in 1244, the Countess of Pro
vence quitted England, after receiving
from the King rich presents, and a loan
of four thousand marks. Just prior to
her embarkation at Dover, newrs arrived
of the severe illness of her husband,
Count Raymond, which so grieved
Henry and Elcanora, that they ordered
masses to be said for the Count's reco
very, and distributed alms to the poor.
He, however, died in the following year,
and Henry, out of affection to Elcanora,
performed his obsequies with great
In this year (1244), Alexander the Second, of Scotland, whose ties to the English court had been severed by the death of his Queen, Joanna, in 1238, and who had lately married the daughter of Engelram de Coucy, a potent Erench noble, and mortal enemy to Henry, threatened England with war, which was only averted by a marriage being agreed upon between Alexander, the Scotch King's eldest son, and Margaret, the eldest daughter of Henry and Eleanora.
In November, the extravagant King
summoned a parliament, and demanded pecuniary aid from them ; but the irritated nobles flatly refused it, and told him he was already so deeply in debt, that he could scarcely shew his face amongst the people, and moreover, every mark be obtained only went to enrich crafty foreigners, seeking their own personal gain. Nothing daunted by this I refusal, and being determined to compass his end by fair or foul means, he succeeded in extorting one thousand five hundred marks from the citizens of London, under pretence that twenty years back they had sheltered one Walter Buckerel, whom he had banished; a charge which the citizens proved to be erroneous, Henry, on receipt of a costly present, having forgiven Buckerel, as the King's rolls testified. This, however, is but one of the many illegal and danger