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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 190



calamity, the harvest of 1315 was more scanty than the former one. The parliament now repealed the maximum, and permitted provisions to he sold for what they would fetch ; still the great cause of the dearth—the rains, the storms, the floods—continued. The want of food produced a fearful mortality amongst all classes : the scarcity increased. In 1316, fevers, dysenteries, and other epidemics, carried off such numbers daily, that the living could scarcely suffice to bury the dead. Corn fetched ten times its ordinary price ; horse-flesh was accounted a delicacy ; dogs, cats, rats, and other vermin wore devoured with avidity, and it is recorded—we hope, for the honour of human nature, falsely—that the famishing prisoners in the jails devoured each other like cannibals; men ate the dead bodies of their companions, and parents were forced to hide their children with all imaginable care, to prevent their being stolen and eaten by thieves. These dreadful calamities oppressed the nation for more than three years, and when, at length, nature again supplied the land with an abundance, the fearful lesson had taught the most wealthy to economise their resources, and the crowds of the unfortunate domestics and dependants, who had been expelled from the castles and establishments of the great, were forced to live by plunder, so that for years afterwards the country was infested with bands of daring robbers. The well-disposed were forced to combine for their own protection ; either party executed summary justice on the other ; and till the power of the banditti was crushed, robbery, anarchy, and murder were rife throughout the land. " Meanwhile," says Speed, " the state of the kingdom was miserable, there being no love between the King and the peers, nor any great care in him or them of the common affairs." The barons were annoyed by Edward best-owing a pompous funeral on Gaveston, whose remains were removed from the former burial-place, the church of the Grey Friars, in Oxford, and interred with Îrinccly obsequies in the new church at ,angley, Edward placing with his own hands two palls of cloth of gold on his tomb ; whilst the popular indignation was aroused by Edward and Isabella sending many valuable presents to the new pope, John the Twelfth. " Is this a time to lavish gifts on the Sovereign Pontiff?" said the Londoners ; "when the whole kingdom is suffering all the horrors of famine, pestilence, and political disunion, when anarchy rules within, and foes triumph without ? Oh, how witless our sovereign, how base his advisers !" Notwithstanding these miseries and murmurs, the King and Queen continued to dwell together in great harmony. In 1316, Isabella gave birth to her son John, at Eltham. Edward, who was at York at the time, gave one hundred pounds to Sir Eubulo de Montions, for bringing him the first tidings of the happy event. The infant was christened at Eltham with great pomp, on the thirtieth of August, and in the subsequent September the Queen joined her royal husband at York. In the ninth of Edward the Second, an information was brought before the King's council, in the Exchequer, by Philipp le Yiroler, against Robert le Messager, for speaking irreverent and indecent words of the King; he pleaded his innocence, was tried by a jury, and found guilty, but afterwards, at the instance of Isabella, Queen Consort, he was bailed out of prison by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who became his manucaptor. " About this time," says an old chronicler, "John Poydras, a tanner's son, tempted by the unpopularity of the King, named himself the son of Edward the First, and said that by a false nurse he was stolen out of his cradle, and Edward, that now was King, put in his place ; but shortly after he was convicted of his untruth, and confessed that he did it by the motion of a familiar spirit which he had in his house in likeness of a cat, whom he had served three years." \Ye need scarcely add, that instead of being imprisoned as amonomaniae, the self-deluded impostor was hanged as a traitor. Fvery effort to reconcile the King and the confederate barons proved abortive. Against the Earl of Lancaster Edward


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