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DAVID HUME, ESQ.
THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Vidomar, viscount of Limoges, a vassal of the king, had found a treasure, of which he sent part to that prince as a present. Richard, as superior lord, claimed the whole; and, at the head of some Brabançons, besieged the viscount in the castle of Chalus, near Limoges, in order to make him comply with his demand.(*) The garrison offered to surrender; but the king replied, that since he had taken the pains to come thither and besiege the place in person, he would take it by force, and would hang every one of them. The same day Richard, accompanied by Marcadée, leader of his Brabançons, approached the castle in order to survey it, when one Bertrand de Gourdon, an archer, took aim at him, and pierced his shoulder with an arrow. The king, however, gave orders for the assault, took the place, and hanged all the garrison, except Gourdon, who had wounded him, and whom he reserved for a more deliberate and more cruel execution.(**) The wound was not in itself dangerous; but the unskilfulness of the surgeon made it mortal; he so rankled Richard's shoulder in pulling out the arrow, that a gangrene ensued; and that prince was now sensible that his life was drawing towards a period. He sent for Gourdon, and asked him, "Wretch, what have I ever done to you, to oblige you to seek my life? " "What have you done to me? " replied coolly the prisoner: "you killed with your own hands my father, and my two brothers; and you intended to have hanged myself: I am now in your power, and you may take revenge by inflicting on me the most severe torments; but I shall endure them all with pleasure, provided I can think that I have been so happy as to rid the world of such a nuisance, "(***) Richard, struck with the reasonableness of this reply, and humbled by the near approach of death, ordered Gourdon to be set at liberty, and a sum of money to be given him; but Marcadée, unknown to him, seized the unhappy man, flayed him alive, and then hanged him. Richard died in the tenth year of his reign, and the forty-second of his age; and he left no issue behind him.
[* Hoveden, p. 791. Knyghton, p. 2413.]
[** Hoveden, p. 791. Knyghton, p. 2413.]
[*** Hoveden, p. 791. Brompton, p. 1277 Knyghton, p. 2413.]
The most shining part of this prince's character are his military talents. No man, even in that romantic age, carried personal courage and intrepidity to a greater height, and this quality gained him the appellation of the Lion-hearted, "Coeur de Lion. " He passionately loved glory, chiefly military glory; and as his conduct in the field was not inferior to his valor, he seems to have possessed every talent necessary for acquiring it. His resentments also were high; his pride unconquerable; and his subjects, as well as his neighbors, had therefore reason to apprehend, from the continuance of his reign, a perpetual scene of blood and violence. Of an impetuous and vehement spirit, he was distinguished by all the good, as well as the bad, qualities incident to that character; he was open, frank, generous, sincere, and brave; he was revengeful, domineering, ambitious, haughty, and cruel; and was thus better calculated to dazzle men by the splendor of his enterprises, than either to promote their happiness, or his own grandeur, by a sound and well-regulated policy. As military talents make great impression on the people, he seems to have been much beloved by his English subjects; and he is remarked to have been the first prince of the Norman line that bore any sincere regard to them. He passed, however, only four months of his reign in that kingdom; the crusade employed him near three years; he was detained about fourteen months in captivity; the rest of his reign was spent either in war or preparations for war against France; and he was so pleased with the fame which he had acquired in the East, that he determined, notwithstanding his past misfortunes, to have further exhausted his kingdom, and to have exposed himself to new hazards, by conducting another expedition against the infidels. Though the English pleased themselves with the glory which the king's martial genius procured them, his reign was very oppressive, and somewhat arbitrary, by the high taxes which he levied on them, and often without consent of the states or great council. In the ninth year of his reign, he levied five shillings on each hide of land; and because the clergy refused to contribute their share, he put them out of the protection of law, and ordered the civil courts to give them no sentence for any debts which they might claim.(*) Twice in his reign he ordered all his charters to be sealed anew, and the parties to pay fees for the renewal.(**)
[* Hoveden, p. 743. Tyrrel, vol. ii. p, 563.]
[** Pryrnne's Chronol. Vindic. tom. i. p. 1133.]1133.
It is said that Hubert, his justiciary, sent him over to France, in the space of two years, no less a sum than one million one hundred thousand marks, besides bearing all the charges of the government in England. But this account is quite incredible, unless we suppose that Richard made a thorough dilapidation of the demesnes of the crown, which it is not likely he could do with any advantage after his former resumption of all grants. A king who possessed such a revenue, could never have endured fourteen months' captivity for not paying one hundred and fifty thousand marks to the emperor, and be obliged at last to leave hostages for a third of the sum. The prices of commodities in this reign are also a certain proof that no such enormous sum could be levied on the people. A hide of land, or about a hundred and twenty acres, was commonly let at twenty shillings a year, money of that time. As there were two hundred and
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