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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 125



as her mind was soon, relieved from anxious suspense by the arrival of tho young King and Queen of Scotland, her health daily improved, till at length she became convalescent. After formally deposing the former Regents, and placing the government in the hands of those on whom he could rely, Henry drew up a treaty, by which he was nominated " councillor in chief" to the Scotch King during his minority, which was signed with due solemnity by Alexander, on tho twentieth of September, at Roxburgh Castle, whither, after a short stay at Wark, he, to please his nobles, bad repaired, Shortly after the signing of this treaty, Margaret and Alexander returned to Edinburgh Castle, there to enjoy each other's society in unrestrained freedom ; whilst Eleanora, being sufficiently well, returned into England with her royal lord, where the affairs of Sicily demanded their earnest attention. Serious business, however, was not Henry's forte; and as both he and his Queen mutually delighted in i l light pleasures and vain-glory," they, in the August of the following year, invited the Scotch King and Queen to celebrate with them the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The fête was celebrated at the palace of Woodstock, with unheard-of pomp and gorgeousness. The guests wore so numerous that the palace, extensive as it was, could not contain them ; and after they had procured every possible accommodation in the neighbouring villages and Oxford, it became necessary to erect tents for their reception in the surrounding parks and fields. At length the merry feastcrs exhausted tbeuleasures andstores of Woodstock and its vicinity, and proceeded to London, where they made their public entry on the twenty-seventh of August, and where they tarried till the close of September, when Alexander and his bride, accompanied by his mother, Mary De Coucy, and bis train of Scotch nobles, turned their face to the north, and rccrossed the border. This royal fèto had terminated but a few brief months when Earl Richard went to Aix-la-ChapeRe, to be crowned King of the Romans, carrying with him the enormous sum of seven hundred thousand pounds sterling (ten million five hundred thousand pounds present money). This sudden draw on' the specie, together with the extravagant sums extracted by the Pope for the intended crusade in Sicily, caused a famine so severe, that a contemporary writer declares he himself saw the common people fighting to eat hogs* wash, and, like hungry wolves, voraciously devouring the earrion carcasses of dogs, cats, rats, and other filthy creatures. Meanwhile, Henry's fondness for his half-brothers and Eleanora's relations greatly increased. Besides again beggaring himself by draining his coffers into their capacious purses, he, by forbidding the chancellor to issue any writ to their prejudice, permitted them the exercise of unrestrained tyranny over his subjects. By this conduct he increased the number of his enemies amongst the barons and knights ; whilst Eleanora added to her unpopularity with the Londoners by renewing her oft-repeated unjust demands for queen's gold, the sheriffs being forced, by writs of Exchequer, to seize the chattels of the citizens for the same. At this period, Henry, experiencing the disloyalty of the Londoners, revived the ancient customof convokingfolkmotes. Assembling the citizens at St. Paul's Cross, he there attended in person, and told them that all the male population above twelve years of age should take an oath before the aldermen of their particular ward to be faithful to the King and his heir; which was accordingly done, although with an ill grace. Whilst these matters were in progress, Eleanora, who fondly believed her son Prince Edmund already King of the two Sicilies, and never for a moment doubted tho Pope's sincerity in the matter, unceasingly urged her royal husband to do the bidding of the Holy See, and terminate her anxiety by securely seating their youthful Prince on the Sicilian throne. Henry being himself greatly delighted at tho preference shown by the Pope to his favourite son, required no urging forward by his beloved consort ; his own ι 2


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