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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 191



entertained the bitterest animosity, and as he could not obtain possession of the Earl's person, he endeavoured to ruin his domestic happiness. With this view, he so contrived matters, that the Earl's wife was stolen away by Sir Kichard St. Martin, a "wretched, lame, hunch-backed dwarf." This unworthy knight secured the lady, who was heiress of the families of Lincoln and Salisbury, in Earl Warenne's castle, at Ryegate, and then presented a petition to the judges, setting forth that before she was contracted to the Earl she had cohabited with him, promised to marry him, and therefore he now claimed her as his. The Countess, dissatisfied with her husband, having, to her great shame, confessed to the fact, was adjudged, with all her estates, to her base claimant. But the trial was decided with such indiscreet haste, that the whole nation suspected the King's treachery, and loudly murmured against his government. As Edward had then no favourite to blame, the people cast the odium wholly on himself, and publicly declared that the English throne was never filled by a more unworthy prince. Some even told him to his face that he was a monarch with too little principle or energy to rule a free nation. In 1317, the King and Queen kept their court at Westminster, and one day, whilst they were dining in public in the ban queting hall, a woman with a mask on, and mounted on a richly trapped palfrey, entered the hall, rode up to the table of the King, and laid a letter before him. Edward, imagining it contained some amusing information or well-turned compliment, ordered it to be read aloud, when, to his surprise and indignation, it was a keen exposition of his own vices and weakness, and a detail of the miseries inflicted on the kingdom by his misrule. The chagrined monarch blamed the door-keepers for admitting the bearer of the offensive missive, and ordered her to he taken into custody. On her apprehension, the knight who had employed her boldly came forward, owned the authorship of the letter, and expressed his sorrow that tho King had not read it, as he supposed he would, in private. Edward, With more than his usual wisdom, thanked him for his loyalty, and dismissed him with a valuable present. In 1337, the Queen gave birth to her eldest daughter, Eleanora, at Woodstock. As was the case with her brothers, the infant Princess was baptized with great pomp ; and the magnificent churching feast of Isabella cost the extravagant sum of three hundred and thirty-three pounds six shillings and eight pence. But with all this outward display, neither the King nor the Queen were remarkable for maternal virtues. They confided their infant children to the care of Kalph Monthcrmer, and beyond the providing a few castles and manors for their support, treated them with shameful neglect. There are some curious entries in the Wardrobe Rolls of this period. Three knights are paid twenty pounds for dragging the King out of bed on Easter morning. Robert le Fermor, of Fleet Street, is paid thirty shillings for six pairs of boots, with silk tassels, and silver gilt drops, for the King's use ; twenty shillings for two pairs of shoes, fringed with gold, for the Queen ; and six pounds ten shillings for one hundred and fifty pairs of shoes, to be distributed amongst the poor at Whitsuntide. The valet of the Count of Poictiers is paid ten shillings for bringing several bunches of new grapes to the King in October ; and a like sum is paid to the mother of Robert, the King's fool, for coming to the King at Baldock, on Christmas. In 1319, Edward granted to Isabella the escuage belonging to him from the army of Scotland, due from the knights' fees, which the Queen held by grant for the term of her life. · The King, by spe cial grace, commanded the barons of the exchequer to cause the same escuage to be duly levied, and paid to her or her attorney. The Scotch, taking advantage of the famine and the dissensions between the King and the barons, made strenuous but futile efforts to become masters of Ireland in the years 1315, 1316, 1317, and 1318; and they repeatedly poured over the border, and ravaged the northern counties of England with impunity. The j Pope endeavoured to mediate a peace


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