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Richard of Devizes Chronicle

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Richard of Devizes
page 8

the most wretched of mothers, brought forth, that pastors of the church should rather preach than fight, and that it is not meet for a bishop to wield other arms than those of virtue. But the king, to whom his money appeared more necessary than his personal presence, as if convinced by the overpowering argument, approved the allegations, and having arranged concerning the three years' contribution that he should furnish of a certain number of men and horses, sent him back again into England with his letters to William the chancellor; this being added at the end of the letters for honour and for all, that the chancellor should use his counsel in affairs of state. The king, having gained experience from the proceedings of this archbishop, purified his army, not permitting any one to come with him but such as could bear arms, and with a ready mind would use them; nor did he suffer those who returned to take back with them their money, which they had brought thus far, or their arms. The queen, also, his mother, who had been received with all honour, as it was meet, and after affectionate embraces had been led forth with great splendour, he caused to return with the archbishop; having retained for himself the princess whom he had sought, and intrusted her to the safe custody of his sister, who had now returned to the came to meet her mother.

Sect. 34. John, bishop of Exeter, closed his last day. Savaricus, archdeacon of Northampton, being also one of the many who had followed the king of England out of England to Sicily, was supplied by the king with letters patent, in the presence of the king's mother, to the justiciaries of England, containing the king's assent, and something more than an assent, that he should be promoted to whatever vacant diocese he could be elected to. These honourable acquisitions Savaricus sent to his kinsman, the bishop of Bath, into England, but he himself retired to Rome as one who had been best known among the Romans.

Sect. 35. Richard, king of England, in letters destined for England, taking leave of his whole kingdom, and giving strict injunction for the chancellor to be honoured by all, his fleet, more to be prized for its quality than its numbers, being in readiness, with a chosen and brave army, with his sister Johanna and the princess he was to marry, with all things which could be necessary for those going to war, or going to set out on a long journey, set sail on the fourth of the ides of April. In the fleet, moreover, there were one hundred and fifty-six ships, four-and-twenty busses, and thirty and nine galleys; the sum of the vessels two hundred and nineteen.

Sect. 36. The archbishop of Rouen came to England to the chancellor, by whom he was received and treated honourably, and much better than the king had commanded. Others also followed with many mandates, in all of which the conclusion was, that the chancellor should be obeyed by all. To his brother John especially, he sent word by every messenger, that he should adhere to the chancellor, that he should be a support to him against all men, and that he should not violate the oath he had given him. The king of England sent orders to the chancellor, and to the convent of Canterbury, and to the bishops of the province, that they should canonically and jointly provide for the metropolitan see, because, Baldwin being dead, it had been bereft of its prelate; for the abbacy, however, of Westminster, now vacant, it is permitted to the chancellor alone to ordain as he pleases. There happened an eclipse of the sun about the third hour of the day: those who were ignorant of the causes of things were astonished, that in the middle of the day, no clouds obstructing the sun, the sun's rays should give a much feebler light than usual; but those whom the motion of the universe occupies, say that the making deficiencies of the sun and moon does not signify any thing.

Sect. 37. John, the king's brother, who had long kept his ears open for it, when he knew for certain that his brother had turned his back on England, presently perambulated the kingdom in a more popular manner, nor did he forbid his followers calling him the king's heir. And as the earth is dreary in the sun's absence, so was the face of the kingdom altered at the king's departure. The nobles are all stirred up in arms, the castles are closed, the cities are fortified, intrenchments are thrown up. The archbishop of Rouen, not foreseeing more of the future than the fuel of error which was praised, knew well how so to give contentment to the chancellor, that at the same time he might not displease his rivals. Writs are privately despatched to the heads of the clergy and of the people, and the minds of everybody are excited against the chancellor. The knights of parliament willingly, though secretly, consented; but the clergy, more fearful by nature, dared not swear obedience to either master. The chancellor, perceiving these things, dissembled, disdaining to know that any one would presume any how to attempt any thing against him.

Sect. 38. At length the pot is uncovered; it is announced to him, that Gerard de Camville, a factious man and reckless of allegiance, had done homage to Earl John, the king's brother, for the castle of Lincoln, the custody whereof is known to belong to the inheritance of Nicholaa, the wife of the same Gerard, but under the king. The deed is considered to infringe upon the crown, and he resolves to go and revenge its commission. So having quickly collected a numerous army, he came into those parts, and having first made an attack against Wigmore, he compelled Roger de Mortimer, impeached for a conspiracy made against the king, with the Welsh, to surrender the castles, and abjure England for three years. As he departed, he was blamed by bin associates for want of courage, because, while supported by the numerous soldiery of the castles, and abounding in advantages, he had given way without a blow, at the bare threats of the priest. Reproof was too late after the error; Roger leaves the kingdom, and the chancellor gives orders to besiege Lincoln. Gerard was with the earl; and his wife Nicholaa, proposing to herself nothing effeminate, defended the castle like a man. The chancellor was wholly busied about Lincoln, whilst Earl John occupied the castle of Nottingham and that of Tickhill, both very strong, the warden being compelled to the surrender by fear alone. He proceeded, moreover, to send word to the chancellor that he must raise the siege, or otherwise he would avenge the cause of his vassal; that it was not proper to take from the loyal men of the kingdom, well known and free, their charges, and commit them to strangers and men unknown; that it was a mark of his folly that he had intrusted the king's castles to such, because they would expose them to adventurers; that if it should go with every barbarian with that facility, that even

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