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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 151



when the strong arm of Protestantism snapped the chain by which the Holy See had so long and so firmly fettered the faith and feelings of the people, that it became necessary to holt and bar the convent doors, and confine with rigid personal restraint those who devoted themselves to the altar. The Princess Mar}' lived right royally. On her profession as a nun, her father presented her with a life annuity of one hundred pounds, besides other considerable sums. But this being found insufficient to support her extravagance, her indulgent parent granted her several manors in Dorsetshire, Wiltshire, and Somersetshire. Her apartments in the nunnery were adorned with the most splendid furniture and appointments of that rude era. Her table groaned with luxuries ; she was a lover of minstrelsy, a patroness of literature, passionately addicted to gambling — a propensity highly disgraceful to one of her rank and vocation—and passed much of her time in visits to her royal relations, when she commonly rode in her litter, or chariot, with a train of twenty-four horses, each horse being adorned with splendid trappings, and attended by a groom. In February, 1285, Edward, in compliance with a vow he had made when in Wales, to visit the monastery of St. Edmundsbury, in Suffolk, made offerings at the six shrines in that abbey, his devotion being particularly directed to that of the royal martyr, St. Edmund. The King was accompanied by the Queen and their three eldest daughters, and they appear to have made a progress through several eounties to present offerings at religions shrines. March saw them at St. Mary of Walsingham ; in April they were at St. Alban's, and they celebrated Trinity Sunday at Westminster, where the relics of St. Edward the Confessor afforded ample scope for their devotion. In April, 1286, the royal family made an aquatic excursion from London to Gravesend, this probably being the first pleasure trip from London to that now daily resort of the dingy denizens of the world's metropolis. The kingdom being in perfect tranquillity, Edward and Eleanora embarked, on the twenty-fourth of June following, for the continent, where they spent three years, for the most part in Aquitaine. During this period, Edward did Homage in general terms to Philip the Fair, of France, for his continental pos sessions, and mediated a reconciliation between the Houses of Arragon and Anjou, whofiercely contested for the throne of Sicily. During the absence of the King and Queen, their children were left under the charge of Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, on whom Edward had conferred the regency of England till his return. Tho royal infants lived in great splendour. Langly was their principal residence. According to the Wardrooe Rolls, they were attended by nine armed knights and a large retinue of menials, and the cost of their establishment for one year was the then large sum of four thousand three hundred and sixty-four pounds. During their continental trip, the King and Queen kept up a constant communication with their offspring, to whom they occasionally sent tokens of affection in the shape of golden cups, jewels, and other costly articles. Whilst in Gascony, Edward expelled the Jews from his continental possessions—a sacrifice which the powerful prejudice of the times doubtless forced upon the politic monarch. The Jews had long been a despised and persecuted race throughout Europe. In this reign they, after suffering severo spoliation, were all banished from Britain. A few words, therefore, concerning the Jews in England, in the thirteenth century, may not be uninteresting. We have seen, in the preceding memoirs, that, in law, they were declared the chattels and slaves of the sovereign ; * hence they were enrolled as the King's property, suffered to dwell only in certain quarters of certain royal cities, where they had their schools, synagogues, and burial-grounds, and were exempt from paying tolls or dues to inferior authorities. They were not permitted to intermarry with Christians, employ them as * See page 106.


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