Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

ENRY III., who, at nine years of age, Henry a promise to assemble another parliament to

succeeded to the crown of England settle the affairs of the realm.
on the death of his father John, This “Mad Parliament," as it came afterwards to
was a prince of amiable disposi- be callod, met at Oxford on the 11th of June, and
tions, but of weak understanding. the king was really a prisoner to the armed barons,

During the short time that the who appointed fifteen of their own number, with Earl of Pembroke acted as regent, from 1216 to De Montfort at their head, to draw up a scheme of 1219, steps seemed to be taken, with some success, reform, to which they bound the king beforehand to reconcile the people to the government of the by an oath. Their measures, known as the Provisyoung king; but after the death of that earl, Henry's ions of Oxford, were these—that four knights should preference for foreign favorites (introduced into the be chosen by each county to state their grievances, kingdom first by the bishop of Winchester, a Poic- and that three sessions of parliament should be held tevin, successor of the Earl of Pembroke; secondly, every year. There were also provisions for the electhrough his queen, a daughter of the Count of Pro- tion of sheriffs, for guarding estates from foreigners, vence; thirdly, from Gascony, where his mother had

and for other purposes. married a second husband; and, lastly, by the pope, The barons followed up these enactments by takwho had filled the church with his Italians) dis- ing all power into their own hands, changing all the gusted his nobles; and the want of economy in his great officers of state, and even appointing a comgovernment, and oppressive exactions, deprived him mittee of twelve to wield the whole power of the of the affection of his people.

parliament in the intervals of its session. By enactMeanwhile Henry's favorites were continually ing that the circuits of the itinerant justices should leading him to violate the Great Charter, though be held only every seven years, they removed a legal he had solemnly confirmed it several times. At check on their power. These excesses led to a relength the prevailing discontent found an open ut- action in the public mind; and the barons became terance under the guidance of Simon de Montfort, divided among themselves by the rivalry of the earls Earl of Leicester. This celebrated man was the of Leicester and Gloucester. At this crisis the king younger son of Simon de Montfort, who had con- visited France, then under the government of Louis ducted a crusade against the Albigenses, and the IX., who has gained the name of St. Louis from brother-in-law of the king. He secretly convened his personal piety and his crusade against the Moors the chief barons, and united them in a confederacy, of Tunis. With him Henry arranged the pending not only to redress the grievances of the kingdom, questions concerning his French dominions, by but to take its government into their own hands. finally surrendering Normandy, which he had no At a parliament held by the king, to ask for sup- hope of recovering, while he was confirmed in the plies for his enterprise against Naples (May 2, 1258), possession of Guienne, and was to receive Poiton the barons appeared fully armed, and exacted from back after the death of Louis (Nov. 1259). These causes of difference being removed, Louis was pre- till the soldiers dispersed. The papal bull, excompared to mediate between Henry and his rebellious municating the barons, was torn in pieces at Dover, subjects.

and De Montfort kept his Christmas like a king at During the king's absence in France, the dissen- Kenilworth. sions between the barons had threatened a new The new year forms an epoch for ever memorable civil war, in which Prince Edward (afterwards so in the constitutional history of England. On the celebrated as Edward I.), prepared to take a part 20th of January, 1265, there assembled at London, by levying troops. The king mistrusted his son's on the summons of De Montfort, a parliament comintentions, but Edward cleared himself of the sus- posed on a different model from any previous great picion of treason by a solemn oath. The Earl of council of the kingdom. Besides the chief nobles Gloucester went over to the king's party, and Henry and prelates, who were summoned by writ, De was thus encouraged, his conscience being fortified Montfort directed the return of one hundred of the by a papal absolution, to revoke all his concessions; | dignified clergy and of two knights from each shire, while Edward, pleading the obligation of his oath, and two representatives of every city and borough. sided with the barons. The king fortified himself These two classes, though for the present sitting in in London, and De Montfort fled to France; but one chamber with the nobles, formed the germ of the death of Gloucester deprived Henry of his main the House of Commons. stay, and he was again compelled to surrender to This great service to his country was De Montthe barons, and to promise to abide by the Provis- fort's last act of power. He was deserted by the ions of Oxford, which were promulgated in a Great Earl of Gloucester, the son of his old rival; and Council held at London, September 8, 1263.

Prince Edward escaped from his guards (May 28), About the same time (October 3), an event oc- and joined the army of Mortimer in Wales. De curred in Scotland momentous enough to interrupt Montfort marched to meet him, under the banner the course of our narrative—the defeat of an invad- of the king, whose person he carried with him. ing Norwegian host by King Alexander III., at A battle was fought at Evesham, in Worcestershire Largs, on the coast of Ayrshire.

(Aug. 4, 1265), in which Prince Edward was victoriThe king and barons at length appealed to Louis, ous, and De Montfort himself was among the slain. who, in a council at Amiens (January 23, 1264), His fate was all but shared by Henry, whom he had annulled the Provisions of Oxford, and recom- placed in the front of the battle, and who only saved mended a general amnesty, declaring also that the his life by exclaiming to a knight who had wounded people should preserve their ancient liberties. But him, “I am Henry of Winchester, your king.The these terms were distasteful to the barons, and the corpse of De Montfort was mangled by the victors; civil war became fiercer than ever. Henry and but the people long cherished his memory, as the Prince Edward returned from France, and united champion of their liberties; and the impulse which their forces; while De Montfort made the castle of he gave to the constitutional freedom of England Kenilworth his headquarters; and the country was may be allowed to excuse great faults of personal wasted on every side. At last a pitched battle was ambition. The remaining partisans of De Montfort, fought at Lewes (May 13, 1264), when the king whose chief strongholds were at Kenilworth Castle and his brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall, were and in the Isle of Ely, were gradually brought to taken prisoners. A truce, called the Mise of Lewes, submission by Prince Edward, who granted to them was imposed by De Montfort upon Prince Edward, terms which are known as “The Award of Kenil who surrendered himself a prisoner in his father's worth.” A parliament held at that place (Novem place, with his cousin, Prince Henry, the son of the ber, 1266) re-established the king's authority, on the Duke of Cornwall. The triumph of the barons was condition of his observing the Great Charter. complete. An attempt made by Mortimer, Earl of The short remainder of Henry's reign was passed March, to renew the war in Wales, was crushed by in peace. So far, indeed, was tranquillity restored, De Montfort, with the aid of the Welsh chieftain, that Prince Edward ventured to follow the impulse Llewellyn. A fleet collected by the queen to in- of his chivalrous spirit and the example of the vade England was blockaded in the Flemish ports, French king by embarking in a new crusade, 1269; and he was still absent when Henry III. expired at called Assassins penetrated to his camp and inflicted Bury St. Edmunds, on the 16th of November, on him a wound, from which his wife Eleanor is 1272, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, and the said to have sucked the poison, and so to have saved fifty-seventh of his reign. He was buried at West- his life, June 12, 1272. He soon after made a minster on the 20th, and fealty was at once sworn truce with the infidels, and sailed from Acre on the to his son Edward, “though men were ignorant 15th of August. whether he was alive, for he had gone to distant Edward, in the beginning of his reign, projected countries beyond the sea, warring against the ene- the conquest of Wales. The Welsh, the descendmies of Christ."

ants of the ancient Britons who had escaped the The period of nearly a century, from the death of Roman and Saxon conquests, preserved their libHenry II. to that of Henry III., completed the erty, their laws, their manners, and their language. transition from the Norman sovereignty to the Eng- Their prince, Llewellyn, who had sided with the lish constitutional monarchy. The people had be- malcontents during the preceding reign, refusing come one; and all between the greater barons and his customary homage, Edward invaded Wales, and the villeins were equal in the eye of the law. Hence surrounding the army of the prince, cut off all his the readiness with which all classes united against supplies, and compelled him to an unqualified subthe encroachments of the crown, and hence also the mission. The terms demanded were, the surrender necessity, which the barons felt, of acting with the of a part of the country, a large sum of money, and commons. Their close confederacy with the great an obligation of perpetual fealty to the crown of boroughs is proved by the fact that London was England. The Welsh infringed this treaty; and always on their side, except when the king seized Edward marched his army into the heart of the the Tower by force. The absence of Richard, the country, where the troops of Llewellyn made a most tyranny of John, and the weakness of Henry, forced desperate but ineffectual resistance. In a decisive their subjects to take into their own hands the set- engagement in 1283, the prince was slain. His tlement of that constitution which was founded by brother David, betrayed into the hand of the conthe Great Charter and finally established by the queror, suffered the full extremity of high treason, parliament of De Montfort.

which was invented for this occasion, and remained During this period also was effected the fusion the law of England up to 1814. He was drawn to of the Anglo-Saxon and the Norman-French into the gibbet on a hurdle, hanged and cut down before the English language; and the germs of the noble life was extinct, his bowels cut out and burnt beliterature of the next age began to show themselves. fore his face, and his head struck from his body,

The thirteenth century was a great period too in which was then divided into four quarters, and the history of English art; for in it was completed these were sent to different parts of the kingdom to the transition from the heavy Saxon and the mas- be exposed for the terror of traitors. Edward, with sive Norman architecture to that genuine and a policy as absurd as it was cruel, ordered the Welsh exquisitely beautiful English style which is still un- bards to be put to death wherever they could be happily called Gothic. Westminster Abbey, which

a measure served to perpetuate their heroic Henry III. nearly lived to complete, may be taken songs, and increase the abhorrence of the vanas a type of the glorious monuments of the art that quished people for their barbarous conqueror. our own generation is only now recovering.

Wales was now not only subdued, but incorEdward I., 1272-1307, surnamed Longshanks, porated with England. In April, 1284, the birth from his stature, was born at Westminster, June of his fourth son in the castle of Caernarvon gave 18, 1239, and married Eleanor of Castile in 1254. Edward the opportunity, in a spirit of somewhat He departed for the Holy Land, a few years after ironical conciliation, to restore to his new subjects his father's recovery of his throne, 1270. He first a native “Prince of Wales," a title ever since borne went to join St. Louis before Tunis; but finding by the direct heir of the reigning sovereign. that he was already dead, Edward sailed on to Acre, The conquest of Wales inflamed the ambition of gained several battles against the Saracens, and Edward, and inspired him with the design of extook Nazareth, 1271. One of the fanatic sect tending his dominion to the extremity of the island.

found;

a

The design of this enterprising monarch on the was canonized as a saint. In the reigns just menkingdom of Scotland invites attention to the “Land tioned, we hear of no claim arising from the feudal o Cakes,” but in order to lead up to this crisis in subjection of Scotland to the crown of England; Scotland's career, it will be necessary to give a though the accidental fortune of war afterwards retrospect of her earlier history.

furnished a ground for it. William I. (the Lion), taken prisoner at Alnwick by Henry II., was compelled, as the price of his release, to do homage for

his whole kingdom; an obligation which his sucSCOTLAND.

cessor Richard voluntarily discharged, though deemThe history of Scotland, from the reign of Mal- ing it to have been unjustly extorted. colm III., surnamed Canmore, is obscure from the On the death of Alexander III. without male isdeficiency of historical records. This prince, by sue in 1285, the crown of Scotland was claimed by the defeat of Macbeth, whose fabulous adventures thirteen competitors; but the real question lay bebear so distinguished a place in dramatic literature, tween the representatives of the three daughters of succeeded to the throne in 1057; and espousing the David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of Malcolm IV. cause of Edgar Atheling, heir to the Saxon kings of and William the Lion. These were John Baliol, England, whose sister he married, he thus provoked grandson of Margaret the eldest daughter; Robert a war with William the Conqueror, which was equally Bruce, son of Isabel the second daughter; and Hastprejudicial to both kingdoms. In an expedition of ings, Lord of Abergavenny, grandson of Ada the third Malcolm into England, it is alleged that, after con- daughter. Baliol claimed as the lineal descendant cluding a truce, he was compelled by William to do of the eldest daughter; Bruce as being one degree homage for his kingdom. The truth is, that this nearer to the common ancestor; while Hastings homage was done for the territories in Cumber- claimed only a third of the kingdom, which was land and Northumberland, governed by the king held by the estates to be indivisible. The parliaof Scots, and held in vassalage of the English ment of Scotland referred the decision to Edward, crown, though this homage was afterwards ab- who advanced to the frontier with a great army and surdly made the pretext of a claim of feudal sov- summoned the competitors and the parliament to ereignty over all Scotland. In a reign of twenty- meet him at Norham Castle on the south bank of seven years Malcolm supported a spirited contest the Tweed. Here he announced his claim to make with England, both under William I. and his son the decision as suzerain of the whole kingdom of Rufus; and to the virtues of his queen, Margaret, Scotland, and sent back the astonished parliament his kingdom, in its domestic policy, owed a degree to deliberate within their own border. Unable to of civilization remarkable in those ages of barbarism. resist, but unwilling to yield, the parliament kept

Alexander I., the second son of Malcolm,—who silence. Edward then demanded homage from the came to the throne after it had been usurped of his candidates; and among those who submitted were uncle Donald VII.,-defended, with equal spirit Baliol and Bruce. Edward easily obtained the imand good policy, the independence of his kingdom; partial judgments of the highest authorities in Enand his son David I., celebrated as an honor to his rope in favor of the claim of Baliol, for whom, country and to monarchy, obtained from Stephen, therefore, he decided, after receiving the renewal after many sharp conflicts and broken promises, the of his homage both on Scotch and English ground whole earldom of Northumberland. It was in Da- (Nov. 30 and Dec. 26, 1292). Ile now began to vid's reign that the authority of the bishop of Rome show his ultimate designs by summoning Baliol to spread over Scotland, and that the ecclesiastical sys- London on trivial complaints, and treating him with tem, of which it was the head, rapidly superseded marked indignity, evidently to drive him into rebelthe isolated and independent Christian institutions lion, and Baliol returned with the resolution to shake which had been planted by the earliest mission- off the English yoke. aries and their followers. The principal monastic Philip IV. of France formed a secret alliance establishments of Scotland owe their foundations with John Baliol, which proved the beginning of a to this monarch, who for his service to the church ! long and a close union between France and Scotland. As soon as Edward gained a knowledge of tried as a rebel and traitor, and suffered in Smiththis treaty he marched against Scotland, and took field the same cruel death which had been inflicted Berwick, March 30, 1296. A great battle was on David, Prince of Wales, Aug. 24, 1305. fought at Dunbar, where the Scots were utterly de- The conquest of Scotland seemed now complete; feated. Baliol surrendered himself and resigned and a council was held at London, in September, to the crown to Edward, who returned to London, regulate its affairs. But even while it was sitting, carrying with him the regalia of Scotland, and the Robert Bruce, grandson of the competitor for the venerated stone on which the Scottish kings had crown, left London to claim the crown, to which been crowned at Scone from time immemorial. the death of Baliol had given him an undoubted This stone may still be seen in the chair of Edward right. He assembled the Scottish nobles at Dumthe Confessor, in which the sovereigns of England fries (February 1306), where he found nearly all are still crowned, at Westminster Abbey.

ready for a new effort, except John Comyn, whose William Wallace, one of the greatest heroes whom name is branded in Scottish history as a traitor. history records, restored the fallen honors of his A quarrel ensued, and Bruce stabbed Comyn in the country. He was a simple knight of Ellerslie in cloister of the Grey Friars. Alarmed at the sacriRenfrewshire. His courage and prodigious personal lege, he exclaimed to Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, “I strength were early proved in encounters with small doubt I have slain the red Comyn." "Do you parties of the English; and he soon had a private doubt?said Kirkpatrick, "ich mak sicher" (I cause of vengeance.

His house had been sacked make sure); and returning to the cloisters, he deand his young wife brutally killed by the governor spatched the wounded man. This deed united the of Lanark. With an unlimited power of enduring nobles by the tie of a common danger, and Bruce hardship and fatigue, he held out in hiding-places, was crowned at Scone by the bishop of St. Andrews and gathered about him a hardy band of followers. as Robert I. (March 25, 1306). The English were These he trained in a succession of bold enterprises driven out of Scotland; but Edward sent a great till he was strong enough to withstand the English army, under Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, in the open field; and he defeated a large army un- who defeated Bruce and drove him to take shelter de Dre Warenne at Stirling, where Cressingham was in the Western Isles. The king himself followed killed and his dead body flayed in sign of hatred for and put many of Bruce's chief adherents to death his cruelty. De Warenne retreated from Scotland, as traitors. while Wallace ravaged the north of England as far Thus began that series of efforts and reverses as Durham with the same relentless cruelty that the which have rendered the name of Bruce so memorScots had suffered. But his forces were no match able an example of persevering courage. Unable for the mighty army of 100,000 men which Edward to face the English in the field, he attacked them now led into Scotland; and the Scots were utterly when and where he could, retreating to his hidingcrushed in the battle of Falkirk, 1298.

places in Carrick or the Isles. At length Edward But the spirit of the nation was not crushed. resolved to finish the war by a mighty effort. He While Edward retired for want of supplies, the advanced at the head of a great army, vowing venScots appointed a regency under Robert Bruce and geance against the whole Scottish nation, as far as Comyn, and took Stirling. Pope Boniface VIII. Carlisle (July 3, 1307), where he was seized with a espoused their cause, but his claims were rejected mortal illness; but, pressing onwards, he arrived at by a parliament held at Lincoln in 1301. Edward, Burgh-on-the-Sands, five miles distant (July 5), and after invading the country several times with partial died there (July 7), bequeathing to his son his last success, made a grand expedition, supported by a injunction to complete the enterprise. Such was fleet on the eastern coast, and marched through his devotion to this one desire, that he commanded from south to north, 1303. Bruce and Comyn, his corpse to be carried about with the army, and with other nobles, submitted to him, and Stirling not to be interred till the conquest of Scotland was surrendered, July 20, 1304. To crown these suc- complete. This injunction, like the rest, was discesses Wallace was captured through the treachery obeyed, and he was buried at Westminster on the of Sir John Menteith. He was carried to London, 27th of October. He died in the sixty-ninth year

« ForrigeFortsæt »