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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 210



the late Xing still lived, a closely con fined prisoner, in Croft Castle. The Earl of Kent, struck by the remorseful remembrance of the part he had taken against his unhappy brother, lent a willing ear to this tale, which, according to several historians, was purposely circulated by Isabella to entrap him into an act of treason. To ascertain the truth of the rumour, he sent a trusty friar to Croft, who found it was generally believed in the neighbourhood that Edward the Second still lived within the castle walls, and with his own eyes saw in the distance a person in every particular resembling the late King, seated at a table. To farther confirm the Earl's belief, he received letters from the Pope —forgeries of course—exhorting him, on pain of excommunication, to instantly release bis brother. The governor of Croft Castle encouraged him in the notion that the late Edward lived there, and at length procured from him letters which he promised to deliver to the captive, but which he instantly forwarded to Isabella. These letters his enemies declared contained treasonable language ; he, therefore, was seized, and, at the instance of Isabella and Mortimer, accused before parliament, and condemned to death and forfeiture. His trial took place on Sunday, the twentieth of March, 1329, and on the morrow he was led to the place of execution, and after a painful suspense of several hours, the official executioner having stolen secretly away, decapitated by a condemned felon from the Marshalsea, who was pardoned for performing the act. Hp to the last moment it was believed that his birth would save him from punishment, but the execrable Isabella so hastened his execution, that the young Edward had no opportunity to interpose ; indeed some writers assert that the King neither knew of the condemnation nor of the execution of his unfortunate uncle till it was too late. S The murder of the Earl of Kent, perpetrated to overawe the other royal and owerful magnates, did but increase the etestation in which the nation now held Isabella. It was generally believed that the Queen mother and her paramour had sacrificed the good Earl to their own ambitious policy. The nobles fostered this belief, tumults ensued, conspiracies were formed against Isabella and Mortimer ; and at length the government found it expedient to order the arrest and imprisonment of every man who should dare to assert that the Earl of Kent was not a traitor, justly condemned by his peers, or that Edward of Carnarvon, the King's father, still lived. The crimes of Isabella and Mortimer hastened their own ruin. Edward had long viewed the conduct of his mother with aversion ; his friends pointed out to him the arrogance of Mortimer, and convinced him of the Queen mother's criminal connection with him. He was now eighteen, an age when his predecessors had been deemed capable of governing. Philippa of Ilainault, whom he had married in June, 1328, had borne him a son, he felt remorse at the part he had taken against his own father, and being advised to the course by Lord Montaeutc and others, he resolved to at once overthrow the supremacy of his mother and her favourite, and assume the exercise of the royal authority. This crisis is thus quaintly related by Stowe. " There was a parliament holden at Nottingham, in October, where Roger Mortimer was in such glory and honour, that it was without all comparison. No man durst name him other than Earl of March; a greater route of men waited at his heels than on the King's person; he would suffer the King to rise to him, and would walk with the King equally, step by step and check by cheek, never preferring the King, but would go foremost himself with his officers. He greatly rebuked the Earl of Lancaster, cousin to the King, for that, without his consent, he appointed certain lodgings for noblemen in the town, demanding who had made him so bold to take up lodgings so nigh unto the Queen; with which words, the constable being greatly feared, appointed lodgings for the Earl of Lancaster one mile out of the town, where likewise were lodged the Earl of Hereford, John de Bohun, lord high constable of England, and others. By which means a contention


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