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Richard of Devizes Chronicle

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Richard of Devizes
page 11

true. The chancellor, deceived, as all men are liable to be, immediately caused all the force that was with him to arm; and thinking that he was following close upon the earl, came before him to the city. The citizens being asked by him, for the earl was not yet come, that they would close the gates against him when he should come, refused, calling him a disturber of the land, and a traitor. For the archbishop of York, conscious of what would happen, whilst he was tarrying there some days, that he might see the end of the matter, by continual complaints and entreaties had excited them all against him; and then, for the first time, perceiving himself betrayed, he betook himself to the Tower, and the Londoners set a watch, both by land and water, that he might not escape. The earl, having knowledge of his flight, following him up with his forces, was received by the joyful citizens with lanterns and torches, for he came to town by night; and there was nothing wanting in the salutations of the flattering people, save that barbarous Chaire Basileus which is, "Hail, dear lord! "

Sect. 50. On the next day, the earl and all the nobles of the land assembled in St. Paul's church, and first of all was heard the archbishop of York's complaint; after that, whosoever had aught against him was admitted. The accusers of the absent had an attentive and diligent hearing, and especially Hugh, bishop of Coventry, so prolix in words, who the day before had been his most familiar friend, who, as the worst pest is a familiar enemy, having harangued more bitterly and perversely than all the rest, against his friend, did not desist until it was said by all, "We will not have this man to reign over us." So the whole assembly, without any delay, elected Earl John, the king's brother, chief justiciary of the whole kingdom, and ordaining that all the castles should be delivered to the custody of such as he should choose, they left only three of the weakest, and lying at a great distance from each other, to the now merely nominal chancellor. The chief justice after the earl, the justices itinerant, the barons of the Exchequer, the constables of castles, all new, are appointed afresh. Amongst others then gainers, both the bishop of Winchester received the custodies which the chancellor had taken from him, without diminution, and the lord bishop of Durham received the county of Northumberland.

Sect. 51. That unlucky day was declining towards evening, when four bishops, and as many earls, sent on the part of the assembly to the chancellor, explained to him, to the letter, the acts of the whole day. He was horror-struck at such unexpected presumption and arrogance, and, his vigour of mind failing, he fell to the earth so exhausted, that he foamed at the mouth. Cold water being sprinkled on his face, he revived, and having risen on his feet, he addressed the messengers with a stern countenance, saying, "There is one help for the vanquished, to hope for no help. (10) You have conquered and you have bound incautiously. If the Lord God shall grant me to see my lord the king with my two eyes, be sure this day has shone inauspiciously for you. As much as in you lay, you have now delivered to the earl, whatever was the king's in the kingdom. Say to him, Priam still lives. You, who forgetful of your still surviving king, have elected to yourselves another to be lord, tell to that your lord, that all will turn out otherwise than he supposes. I will not give up the castles, I will not resign the seal." The messengers, having returned from him, related to the earl what they had received, who ordered the Tower to be more closely besieged.

Sect. 52. The chancellor was sleepless the greater part of the night (because he who does not set his mind on honest studies and pursuits will toss about wakeful through hate or love); and at the same time his people disturbed him more than his conscience, falling prostrate at his feet, and entreating with tears that he would yield to necessity, and not stretch forth his arms against the torrent. He, though harder than iron, is softened by the piteous counsel of those who were weeping round him; again and again having fainted with grief, at last, he with much ado assented that that should be done, which, being entirely destitute of aid, he was compelled to do. One of his brothers, and three, not ignoble, of

(10) Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem. - Virgil.

his adherents, being permitted, not commissioned, announced to the earl at that time of night, that the chancellor, with what readiness it does not matter, was prepared to do and suffer whatever had been determined. He should avoid delay, because it has always been injurious for those who are prepared to defer. It should be done the next day, lest the wind should so veer, that it might be deferred for a year. These return to the Tower, and before day, the earl made known to his adherents that these things had passed.

Sect. 53. Meanwhile, the rising dawn left the ocean, and the sun having now appeared, the earl, with his whole troop, withdrew to the open field, which is without London towards the east; the chancellor went thither also, but less early than his adversaries. The nobles took the centre, around whom was next a circle of citizens, and beyond an attentive populace, estimated at ten thousand men. The bishop of Coventry first attacked the chancellor, rehearsing the several accusations of the preceding day, and ever adding something of his own. "It is not," said he, "either fit or bearable that such gross incapacity of one should so often cause so many noble and honourable men, and from such remote parts, to assemble for nothing. And since it is better to be troubled once for all, than always, I will conclude all in few words. It does not please, because it is not convenient, that you should any longer bear rule in the kingdom. You will be content with your bishopric, and the three castles with which we have indulged you, and the shelter of a great name. You will in the next place give hostages for giving up all the other castles, and for not seeking increased power or making tumults, and afterwards you will be able to depart freely whithersoever you may desire." Many spoke much in favour of this, none against; the lord Of Winchester, although he was more eloquent than most of them, alone observed continued silence. At length the chancellor, scarcely permitted to speak, exclaimed, "Am I always to be a hearer only? and shall I never answer? (11) Before all things, know ye each and every one, that I feel myself guilty of nothing that I should fear the mouth of any of you. I solemnly declare that the archbishop of York was taken, without either my knowledge or my will; that I will prove in the civil courts if you wish, or in the ecclesiastical.

(11) Semper ego auditor tantum? Numquamne reponam? - Juvenal

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