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Richard of Devizes Chronicle

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Richard of Devizes
page 16

hold for twenty years for the annual and free service of twenty shillings, without the privity of the convent.

Sect. 73. Queen Eleanor sailed from Normandy and landed at Portsmouth on the third of the ides of February. (15) The chancellor repaired to the king of the French, and deposed before him his complaint relative to the loss of his treasures in Flanders, but he got nothing more there than what makes men ridiculous. The king of the French caused all manner of arms to be fabricated both day and night throughout his whole realm, and fortified his cities and castles, as was thought, by way of preparation for a struggle against the king of the English, if he should return from his journey. Which being known in the territories of the king of the English, his constables throughout Normandy, Le Mans, Anjou, Tours, Bourges, Poitou, and Gascony, of themselves fortified every place that could be fortified in the fullest manner. Moreover, the son of the king of Navarre, to spite the

(14) Feb. 1.
(15) Feb. 11.

French, ravaged the country about Toulouse. A certain provost of the king of the French, desiring to become greater than his forefathers, set up a castle on the confines of Normandy and France, where there had never yet been any fortification; which, ere it was built, the Normans, by the impulse of their natural anger, totally overthrew, and tore the provost himself to pieces.

Sect. 74. Queen Eleanor, a lady worthy of repeated mention, visited certain houses appertaining to her dower within the diocese of Ely. To meet her there came out of all the hamlets and manors, wherever she passed, men with women and little children, not all of the lowest class, a piteous and pitiable company, with their feet bare, their clothes unwashed, and their hair unshorn. They speak in tears, for which, in very grief, they had failed to utter words, nor was there need of an interpreter, as more than they desired to say might be read in the open page. Human bodies lay unburied everywhere throughout the country, because their bishop had deprived them of sepulture. The queen, on understanding the cause of so great severity, as she was very compassionate, taking pity on the people's misery for the dead, immediately neglecting her own, and following other men's matters, repaired to London; she entreated, nay, she demanded, of the archbishop of Rouen, that the confiscated estates of the bishop should be restored to the bishop, and that the same bishop should in the name of the chancery be proclaimed absolved from the excommunication denounced against him, throughout the province of Rouen. And who could be so harsh or obdurate that that lady could not bend him to her wishes? She, too, forgetful of nothing, sent word into Normandy to the lord of Ely, of the public and private restitution which she had obtained for him, and compelled him to revoke the sentence of excommunication he had pronounced against the Exchequer barons. So by the queen's mediation there was peace between the implacable, though their vexation was apparent, as the disaffection of their minds, contracted in their former hatred, could not be changed, without each giving some utterance to his feelings.

Sect. 75. Earl John, sending messengers to Southampton, commanded shipping to be made ready for him to depart, as was thought, to the king of the French; but the queen his mother, fearing lest the light-minded youth, by the counsels of the French, might go to attempt something against his lord and brother, with anxious mind takes in hand with her utmost ability to divert the intention of her son. The fate of her former sons, and the untimely decease of both under their oppressing sins, recurring to her mind, moved, or rather pierced, the maternal bowels of compassion. She desired that their violence might be enough, and that, at least, good faith being kept amongst her younger children, she, as their mother, might end her days more happily than had fallen to the lot of their deceased father. So having assembled all the peers of the realm, first at Windsor, secondly at Oxford, thirdly at London, and fourthly at Winchester, she with her own tears and the entreaties of the nobles with difficulty obtained that he would not cross the sea for this time. The earl, therefore, being in effect frustrated of his proposed passage, did what he could that way, and received the castles from the king's constables of Windsor and Wallingford, whom he had secretly called to him; and having received them, he delivered them over to his lieges to keep for him.

Sect. 76. By command of the archbishop of Rouen, there assembled at London, the pillars of the church, the oracles of the laws, to discuss either something or nothing, as it often falls out, in matters of state. There was but one mind among all, to convene Earl John for the pre-occupation of the castles; but, because no one of them durst commit himself to another, every one desired in himself that the question should be proposed rather by a deputy than by his own mouth. So whilst they all clamour to this end, and with this purpose, Æacus alone is wanting, to whom they all simultaneously agreed to resort; but even whilst among other matters they only casually discoursed of the late chancellor, behold again is Crispinus at hand. The messengers of the chancellor, now again legate, enter the assembly, saluting the queen, who was present, and all the rest, whom by chance they found together, on the part of their lord, who had safely arrived the day before at Dover. The last clause of the mandates prohibited him from following up the ministration of his legation. Long were they all silent, and greatly astonished, intently kept their peace. At length it came to be the vote of all, that they should humbly entreat him to be their dictator and lord, whom they had assembled to judge as a perjurer and transgressor against their lord. So many of the nobles, of whom one was Echion, are sent, and that repeatedly, to Earl John, then staying at Wallingford, and laughing at their conventions. Humbly, and without austerity, they beg that he would hasten to meet the goat. "Lord" say they, "he wears horns, beware!"

Sect. 77. The earl, not greatly moved, long suffered himself to be reverently entreated; but at length, satiated with the honour offered him, he came to London with the last intercessors, whom he most loved, sufficiently taught to answer to every question that might chance to be asked. The court rises up and compliments him on his entry, no order either of age or rank being observed; everybody that first can, first runs to meet him, and desires himself to be first seen, eager to please the prince, because to have been acceptable to the great is not the last of praises.

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