HotFreeBooks.com
The History of England - From the Accession of Henry III. to the Death of Edward III. (1216-1377)
by T.F. Tout
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

In March, 1300, Edward met his parliament at Westminster. Despite the straits to which he was reduced, he was still unwilling to make a complete surrender. He avoided a formal re-issue of the charters by giving his sanction to a long series of articles, drawn up apparently by the barons. These articles provided for the better publication of the charters, and the appointment in every shire of a commission to punish all offences against them which were not already provided for by the common law; together with numerous technical clauses "for the relief of the grievances that the people have had by reason of the wars that have been, and for the amendment of their estate, and that they may be more ready in the king's service and more willing to aid him when he has need of them ". This document was known as Articuli super cartas.[1] At the same time the forest perambulation, which had long been ordered, was directed to be proceeded with at once. For this reason a chronicler calls this assembly "the parliament of the perambulation".[2] The reconciliation between the king and his subjects was attested by a grant of a twentieth.

[1] It is published in Bemont's Chartes, pp. 99-108, with valuable comments; another draft analysed in Hist. MSS. Comm., 6th Report, i., p. 344.

[2] Langtoft, ii, 320.

Edward's concessions once more enabled him to face the Scots, and the summer saw a gallant army mustered at Carlisle, though some of the earls, including Roger Bigod, still held aloof. A two months' campaign was fought in south-western Scotland in July and August. But the peasants drove their cattle to the hills, and rainy weather impeded the king's movements. The chief exploit of the campaign was the capture of Carlaverock castle, though even in the glowing verse of the herald, who has commemorated the taking of this stronghold,[1] the military insignificance of the achievement cannot be concealed. Edward returned to the same district in October, but he effected so little that he was glad to agree to a truce with the Scots, which Philip the Fair urged him to accept. The armistice was to last until Whitsuntide, and Edward immediately returned to England. He had not yet satisfied his subjects, and was again forced to meet his estates.

[1] The Siege of Carlaverock, ed. Nicolas (1828).

A full parliament assembled on January 20, 1301, at Lincoln. The special business was to receive the report of the forest perambulation; and the first anticipation of the later custom of continuing the same parliament from one session to another can be discerned in the direction to the sheriffs that they should return the same representatives of the shires and boroughs as had attended the Lenten parliament of 1300, and only hold fresh elections in the case of such members as had died or become incapacitated. During the ten days that the commons were in session stormy scenes occurred. Edward would only promise to agree to the disafforestments recommended by the perambulators, if the estates would assure him that he could do so, without violating his coronation oath or disinheriting his crown. The estates refused to undertake this grave responsibility, and a long catalogue of their grievances was presented to Edward by Henry of Keighley, knight of the shire for Lancashire, and one of the first members of the third estate of whose individual action history has preserved any trace. The commons demanded a fresh confirmation of the charters; the punishment of the royal ministers who had infringed them, or the Articuli super cartas of the previous session, and the completion of the proposed disafforestments. In addition, the prelates declared that they could not assent to any tax being imposed upon the clergy contrary to the papal prohibition. Among the ministers specially signalled out for attack was the treasurer, Bishop Walter Langton, and in this Edward discerned the influence of Winchelsea, for he was Langton's personal enemy. The king's disgust at the primate's action was the more complete since Bishop Bek now arrayed himself on the side of the opposition. Edward showed his ill-will by consigning Henry of Keighley to prison. But the coalition was too formidable to be withstood. The king agreed to all the secular demands of the estates, accepted the hated disafforestments and directed the re-issue of a further confirmation of the charters, but refused his assent to the demand of the prelates. A grant of a fifteenth was then made, and Edward dismissed the popular representatives on January 30, retaining the prelates and nobles for further business. On February 14, the last confirmation of the charters concluded the long chapter of history, which had begun at Runnymede.

Edward strove to separate his baronial and his clerical enemies, and found an opportunity, which he was not slow to use, in the uncompromising papalism of Winchelsea. Boniface VIII. had no sooner settled the relations of England and France than he threw himself with ardour into an attempt to establish peace between England and Scotland. Scottish emissaries, including perhaps Wallace himself, gave Boniface their version of the ancient relations of the two crowns. On June 27, 1299, the pope issued the letter Scimus, fili, in which he claimed that Scotland specially belonged to the apostolic see, on the ground that it was converted through the relics of St. Andrew. He denied all feudal dependence of Scotland on Edward, and explained away the submissions of 1291 as arising from such momentary fear as might fall upon the most steadfast. If Edward persisted in his claims, he was to submit them to the judgment of the Roman curia within the next six months. In 1300 Winchelsea, who fully accepted the new papal doctrine, sought out Edward in the midst of the Carlaverock campaign and presented him with Boniface's letter. Edward's hot temper fired up at the archbishop's ill-timed intervention, and subsequent military failures had not smoothed over the situation. His wrath reached its climax when Winchelsea once more stirred up opposition in the Lincoln parliament, and his refusal of a demand, which the primate had astutely added to the commons' requests, showed that he was prepared for war to the knife. Edward laid the papal letter before the earls and barons that still tarried with him at Lincoln. His appeal to their patriotism was not unsuccessful. A letter was drawn up, which was sealed, then and subsequently, by more than a hundred secular magnates, in which Boniface was roundly told that the King of England was in no wise bound to answer in the pope's court as to his rights over the realm of Scotland or as to any other temporal matter, and that the papal claim was unprecedented, and prejudicial to Edward's sovereignly. A longer historical statement was composed by the king's order in answer to Boniface. It is not certain that the two documents ever reached the pope, but they had great effect in influencing English opinion and in breaking down the alliance between the baronage and the ecclesiastical party.[1] Winchelsea's influence was fatally weakened, and the period of his overthrow was at hand.

[1] See, on the barons' letter, the Ancestor, for July and October, 1903, and Jan., 1904.

The triumph over Winchelsea made Edward's position stronger than it had been during the first days of the Lincoln parliament. That assembly ended amidst the festivities which attended the creation of Edward of Carnarvon as Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, and Count of Ponthieu. The new prince, already seventeen years of age, had made his first campaign in the previous year. But all the pains that Edward took in training his son in warfare and in politics bore little fruit, and Edward of Carnarvon's introduction to active life was only to add another trouble to the many that beset the king.

When the truce with Scotland expired, in the summer of 1301, Edward again led an army over the border, in which the Prince of Wales appeared, at the head of a large Welsh contingent. Little of military importance happened. Edward remained in Scotland over the cold season, and kept his Christmas court at Linlithgow. Men and horses perished amidst the rigours of the northern winter, and, before the end of January, 1302, the king was glad to accept a truce, suggested by Philip of France, to last until the end of November. Immediately afterwards he was called to the south by the negotiations for a permanent peace with France, which still hung fire despite his marriage to the French king's sister. The earlier stages of the negotiation were transacted at Rome, but it was soon clear to Edward that no good would come to him from the intervention of the curia. The fundamental difficulty still lay in the refusal of Philip to relax his grasp on Gascony. Not even the exaltation, consequent on the success of the famous jubilee of 1300, blinded Boniface to the patent fact that he dared not order the restitution of Gascony. "We cannot give you an award," declared the pope to the English envoys in 1300. "If we pronounced in your favour, the French would not abide by it, and could not be compelled, for they would make light of any penalty." "What the French once lay hold of," he said again, "they never let go, and to have to do with the French is to have to do with the devil."[1] A year later Boniface could do no more than appeal to the crusading zeal of Edward not to allow his claim on a patch of French soil to stand between him and his vow. With such commonplaces the papal mediation died away.

[1] See the remarkable report of the Bishop of Winchester to Edward printed in Engl. Hist. Review, xvii. (1902), pp. 518-27.

Two events in 1302 indirectly contributed towards the establishment of a permanent peace. These were the successful revolt of Flanders from French domination, and the renewed quarrel between Philip and Boniface. On May 18, the Flemings, in the "matins of Bruges," cruelly avenged themselves for the oppressions which they had endured from Philip's officials, and on July 11 the revolted townsfolk won the battle of Courtrai, in which their heavy armed infantry defeated the feudal cavalry of France, a victory of the same kind as that Wallace had vainly hoped to gain at Falkirk. Even before the Flemish rising, the reassertion of high sacerdotal doctrine in the bull Ausculta, fili had renewed the strife between Boniface and the French king. A few months later the bull Unam sanctam laid down with emphasis the doctrine that those who denied that the temporal sword belongs to St. Peter were heretics, unmindful of the teachings of Christ. Thus began the famous difference that went on with ever-increasing fury until the outrage at Anagni, on September 7, 1303, brought about the fall of Boniface and the overthrow of the Hildebrandine papacy. Meanwhile Philip was devoting his best energies to constant, and not altogether vain, attempts to avenge the defeat of Courtrai, and re-establish his hold on Flanders. With these two affairs on his hands, it was useless for him to persevere in his attempt to hold Gascony.

In the earlier stages of his quarrel with Philip, Boniface built great hopes on Edward's support, and strongly urged him to fight for holy Church against the impious French king. But Edward had suffered too much from Boniface to fall into so obvious a trap. His hold over his own clergy was so firm that Winchelsea himself had no chance of taking up the papal call to battle. Thus it was that Unam sanctam produced no such clerical revolt in England as Clericis laicos had done. It was Edward's policy to make use of Philip's necessities to win back Gascony, and cut off all hope of French support from the Scottish patriots. Philip himself was the more disposed to agree with his brother-in-law's wishes, because about Christmas, 1302, Bordeaux threw off the French yoke and called in the English. The best way to save French dignity was by timely concession. Accordingly, on May 20, 1303, the definitive treaty of Paris was sealed, by which the two kings were pledged to "perpetual peace and friendship". Gascony was restored, and Edward agreed that he, or his son, should perform liege homage for it. With the discharge of this duty by the younger Edward at Amiens, in 1304, the last stage of the pacification was accomplished. For the rest of the reign, England and France remained on cordial terms. Neither Edward nor Philip had resources adequate to the accomplishment of great schemes of foreign conquest. Though Edward got back Gascony, he owed it, not to his own power, but to the embarrassment of his rival.

While completing his pacification with Philip the Fair, Edward was busily engaged in establishing his power at home, at the expense of the clerical and baronial opposition, which had stood for so many years in the way of the conquest of Scotland. Since the parliament of Lincoln, Winchelsea was no longer dangerous. He failed even to get Boniface on his side in a scandalous attack which he instigated on Bishop Langton. His constant efforts to enlarge his jurisdiction raised up enemies all over his diocese and province, and the mob of his cathedral city broke open his palace, while he was in residence there. His inability to introduce into England even a pale reflection of the struggle of Philip and the pope showed how clearly he had lost influence since the days of Clericis laicos. A more recent convert to higher clerical pretensions also failed. Bishop Bek of Durham lost all his power, and was deprived of his temporalities by the king in 1302. Two years later the insignificant Archbishop of York also incurred the royal displeasure, and was punished in the same fashion. With Durham, Norhamshire, and Hexhamshire all in the royal hands, the road into Scotland was completely open.

The heavy hand of Edward fell upon earls as well as upon bishops. Even in the early days of his reign when none, save Gilbert of Gloucester, dared uplift the standard of opposition, Edward had not spared the greatest barons in his efforts to eliminate the idea of tenure from English political life. A subtle extension of his earlier policy began to emphasise the dependence of the landed dignitaries on his pleasure. The extinction of several important baronial houses made this the easier, and Edward took care to retain escheats in his own hands, or at least to entrust them only to persons of approved confidence. The old leaders of opposition were dead or powerless. Ralph of Monthermer, the simple north-country knight who had won the hand of Joan of Acre, ruled over the Gloutester-Glamorgan inheritance on behalf of his wife and Edward's little grandson, Gilbert of Clare. The Earl of Hereford died in 1299, and in 1302 his son and successor, another Humphrey Bohun, was bribed by a marriage with the king's daughter, Elizabeth, the widowed Countess of Holland, to surrender his lands to the crown and receive them back, like the Earl of Gloucester in 1290, entailed on the issue of himself and his consort. In the same year the childless earl marshal, Roger Bigod, conscious of his inability to continue any longer his struggle against royal assumptions and at variance with his brother and heir, made a similar surrender of his estates, which was the more humiliating since the estate in tail, with which he was reinvested, was bound to terminate with his life. In 1306, on the marshal's death, the Bigod inheritance lapsed to the crown. Much earlier than that, in 1293, Edward had extorted on her deathbed from the great heiress, Isabella of Fors, Countess of Albemarle and Devon, the bequest of the Isle of Wight and the adjacent castle of Christchurch. In 1300, on the death of the king's childless cousin, Earl Edmund, the wealthy earldom of Cornwall escheated to the crown. To Edward's contemporaries the acquisition of the earldoms of Norfolk and Cornwall seemed worthy to be put alongside the conquests of Wales and Scotland.[1]

[1] See John of London, Commendatio lamentabilis in Chron. of Edw. I. and Edw. II., ii., 8-9. See for the earldoms my Earldoms under Edward I. in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, new ser., viii. (1894), 129-155.

Even more important as adding to Edward's resources than these direct additions to the royal domains, was the increasing dependence of the remaining earls upon the crown. His sons-in-law of Gloucester and Hereford were entirely under his sway. In 1304 the aged Earl Warenne had died, and in 1306 his grandson and successor was bound closely to the royal policy by his marriage with Joan of Bar, Edward's grand-daughter. In the same way Edward's young nephew, Thomas of Lancaster, ruled over the three earldoms of Lancaster, Derby, and Leicester, and by his marriage to the daughter and heiress of Henry Lacy, was destined to add to his immense estates the additional earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury. Edward of Carnarvon was learning the art of government in Wales, Cheshire, and Ponthieu. The policy of concentrating the higher baronial dignities in the royal family was no novelty, but Edward carried it out more systematically and successfully than any of his predecessors. He reaped the immediate advantages of his dexterity in the extinction of baronial opposition and in the zeal of the baronial levies against the Scots during the concluding years of his reign. Yet the later history of the Middle Ages bears witness to the grievous dangers to the wielder of the royal power which lurked beneath a system so attractive in appearance.

The truce with the Scots ended in November, 1302, and Edward despatched a strong force to the north under John Segrave. On February 24, 1303, Segrave, attacked unexpectedly by the enemy at Roslin, near Edinburgh, suffered a severe defeat. The conclusion of the treaty of Paris gave Edward the opportunity for avenging the disaster. He summoned his levies to assemble at Roxburgh for Whitsuntide and, a fortnight before that time, appeared in person in Tweeddale. After seven weary years of waiting and failure, he was at last in a position to wear down the obstinate Scots by the same systematic and deliberate policy that had won for him the principality of Wales. The invasion of Scotland was henceforth to continue as long as the Scottish resistance. Adequate resources were procured to enable the royal armies to hold the field, and a politic negotiation with the foreign merchants resulted in a carta mercatoria by which additional customs were imposed upon English exports. These imposts, known as the "new and small customs," as opposed to the "old and great customs" established in 1275, were not sanctioned by parliamentary grant: but for the moment they provoked no opposition. Thus Edward was equipped both with men and money for his undertaking. At last the true conquest of Scotland began.

No attempt was made in the Lothians to stop Edward's advance, but the Scots, under the regent, John Comyn of Badenoch, made a vigorous effort to hold the line of the Forth against him. Their plan seemed to promise well, for Stirling castle was still in Scottish hands. Edward crossed the river by a ford, and all organised efforts to oppose him at once ceased. Prudently leaving Stirling to itself for the present, he hurried to Perth. After spending most of June and July at Perth, he led his army northwards, nearly following the line of his advance in 1296, through Perth, Brechin, and Aberdeen, to Banff and Elgin. The most remote point reached was Kinloss, a few miles west of Elgin, in which neighbourhood he spent much of September. Then he slowly retraced his steps and took up his winter quarters at Dunfermline. In all this long progress, the only energetic resistance which Edward encountered was at Brechin. Flushed with his triumph, he ordered Stirling to be besieged, and from April, 1304, directed the operations himself. The garrison held out with the utmost gallantry, but at last a breach was effected in the walls, and on July 24 the defenders laid down their arms. Long before the Scots people despaired of withstanding the invader, the nobles grew cold in the defence of their country. In February, 1304, the regent and many of the earls made their submission. It was more than suspected that this result was brought about by the threat of Edward to divide their lands among his English followers. But on Comyn and his friends showing a desire to yield, the king readily promised them their lives and estates. Believing that his task was over, Edward returned to England in August after an absence of nearly fifteen months. He crossed the Humber early in December, kept his Christmas court at Lincoln, and reached London late in February. As a sign of the completion of the conquest, he ordered that the law courts, which since 1297 had been established at York, should resume their sessions in London.

A few heroes still upheld the independence of Scotland. Foremost among them was Sir William Wallace, who, since his mission to France in 1298, had disappeared from history. The submission of the barons to Edward gave him another chance. He took a strenuous part in the struggle of 1303-4, and he was specially exempted from the easy pardons with which Edward purchased the submission of the greater nobles. It was the daring and skill of Wallace that prolonged the Scots' struggle until the spring of 1305. But he was then once more an outlaw and a fugitive, only formidable by his hold over the people, and by the possibility that the smallest spark of resistance might at any time be blown into a flame. At last he was captured through the zeal, or treachery, of a Scot in Edward's service. In August, Wallace was despatched to London to stand a public trial for treason, sedition, sacrilege, and murder. He denied that he had ever become Edward's subject, but did not escape conviction. With his execution, the last stage of Edward's triumph in Scotland was accomplished. Though the full measure of Wallace's fame belongs to a later age rather than his own, yet it was a sure instinct that made the Scottish people celebrate him as the popular hero of their struggle for independence. His courage, persistency, and daring stands in marked contrast to the self-seeking opportunism of the great nobles, who afterwards appropriated the results of his endeavours. Yet we can hardly blame Edward for making an example of him, when he fell into his power. Even if Wallace had successfully evaded the oath of fealty to Edward, it is scarcely reasonable to expect that the king would consider this technical plea as availing against his doctrine that all Scots were necessarily his subjects since the submission of 1296. It was Wallace's glory that he fought his fight and paid the penalty of it.

A full parliament of the three estates sat with the king at Westminster from February 28 to March 21, 1305. The proceedings of this assembly are known with a fulness exceeding that of the record of any of the other parliaments of the reign.[1] Among the matters enumerated in the writs as specially demanding attention was the "establishment of our realm of Scotland". Three Scottish magnates, Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow, Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, and John Mowbray were particularly called upon to give their advice as to how Scotland was to be represented in a later parliament, in which the plans for its future government were to be drawn up. They informed the king that two bishops, two abbots, two barons, and two representatives of the commons, one from the south of the Forth and the other from the north thereof, would be sufficient for this purpose. This further "parliament" assembled on September 15, three weeks after the execution of Wallace. It consisted simply of twenty councillors of Edward, and the ten Scottish delegates. From the joint deliberations of these thirty sprang the "ordinance made by the lord king for the establishment of the land of Scotland".

[1] See Memoranda, de parliamento (1305), ed. F.W. Maitland (Rolls Series).

Following the general lines of the settlement of the principality of Wales, the ordinance combined Edward's direct lordship over Scotland with a legal and administrative system separate from that of England. John of Brittany, Earl of Richmond, the king's sister's son, was made Edward's lieutenant and warden of Scotland, and under him were a chancellor, a chamberlain, and a controller. Scotland was to be split up for judicial purposes into districts corresponding to its racial and political divisions. Four pairs of justices were appointed for each of these regions, two for Lothian, two for Galloway and the south-west, two for the lands "between Forth and the mountains," that is the Lowland districts of the north-east, and two for the lands "beyond the mountains," that is for the Highlands and islands. Sheriffs "natives either of England or Scotland" were nominated for each of the shires, and it was significant that the great majority of them were Scots and that the hereditary sheriffdoms of the older system were still continued. The "custom of the Scots and the Welsh," that is the Celtic laws of the Highlanders and the Strathclyde Welsh, was "henceforth prohibited and disused". John of Brittany was to "assemble the good people of Scotland in a convenient place" where "the laws of King David and the amendments by other kings" were to be rehearsed, and such of these laws as are "plainly against God and reason" were to be reformed, all doubtful matters being referred to the judgment of Edward. The king's lieutenant was bidden to "remove such persons as might disturb the peace" to the south of the Trent, but their deportation was to be in "courteous fashion" and after taking the advice of the "good people of Scotland". Care for the preservation of the peace, and for administrative reform, is seen in the oath imposed upon officials and in the pains taken to secure the custody of the castles. The Scots parliament was to be retained, and recent precedents also suggested the probability of Scottish representation in the parliament of England. If Scotland were to be ruled by Edward at all, it would have been difficult to devise a wiser scheme for its administration. Yet the Scottish love of independence was not to be bartered away for better government. Within six months the new constitution was overthrown, and the chief part in its destruction was taken by the Scots by whose advice Edward had drawn it up.

Edward at last felt himself in a position to take his long deferred revenge on Winchelsea. The primate still kept aloof from the councils of the king, and his spirit was as irreconcilable as ever. He gained his last victory in the Lenten parliament of 1305, when he prevented the promulgation of a statute, passed on the petition of the laity, but agreed to by all the estates, which forbade taxes on ecclesiastical property involving the exportation of money out of the country.[1] At this moment the long vacancy of the papacy, which followed the pontificate of Benedict XI., Boniface VIII.'s short-lived successor, had not yet come to an end. Soon, however, Winchelsea's zeal on behalf of papal taxation was to be ill requited. On June 5, 1305, Bertrand de Goth, a Gascon nobleman who since 1299 had been archbishop of Bordeaux, was elected to the papacy as Clement V., through the management of Philip the Fair. A dependant of the King of France and a subject of the King of England, the new pope showed a complaisance towards kings which stood in strong contrast to the ultramontane austerity of his predecessors. He refused to visit Italy, received the papal crown at Lyons, and spent the first years of his pontificate in Poitou and Gascony. Ultimately establishing himself at Avignon, he began that seventy years of Babylonish captivity of the apostolic see which greatly degraded the papacy. Though Clement's main concern was to fulfil the exacting conditions which, as it was believed, Philip had imposed upon him, he was almost as subservient to Edward as to the King of France. His deference to his natural lord enabled Edward to renounce the most irksome of the obligations which he had incurred to his subjects, to punish Winchelsea, and to restrain Roman authority by laws which anticipate the legislation of the age of Edward III.

[1] Memoranda de parliamento, preface, p. li. The statement in the text is an inference suggested by Professor Maitland's account of the statute De asportis religiosorum. For the last struggle of Edward and Winchelsea, see Stubbs's preface to Chron. of Edw. I. and Edw. II., i., xcix.-cxiii.

At Clement V.'s coronation at Lyons, in November, England was represented by Winchelsea's old enemy, Bishop Walter Langton, and by the Earl of Lincoln. The first result of their work was the promulgation, on December 29, of the bull Regalis devotionis, by which the pope annulled the additions made to the charters in 1297 and succeeding years, and dispensed Edward from the oath which he had taken to observe them, on the ground that it was in conflict with his coronation vows. Next year Edward took advantage of this bull to revoke the disafforestments made by the parliament of Lincoln in 1301. It may be a sign either of the moderation, or of the well-grounded fears of the king, that he made no further use of the papal absolution. But, like his father and grandfather, he used the papal authority to set aside his plighted word, and his conduct in this respect suggests that it was well for England that the renewal of the Scottish troubles reduced for the rest of the reign the temptation, which the bull held out to him, to play fast and loose with the liberties of his subjects. The standards of contemporary morality were not, however, infringed by Edward's action, dishonourable and undignified as it seems to us of later times.

Winchelsea's turn was at last come. On February 12, 1306, Clement suspended him from his office, and summoned him to appear before the curia. On March 25 the archbishop humbled himself before Edward and begged for his protection. But the king overwhelmed him with reproaches and refused to show him any mercy. Within two months, the primate took ship for France and made his way to the papal court, which was then established at Bordeaux. He remained in exile, though in the English king's dominions, for the rest of Edward's life. A less harsh punishment was meted out to the Bishop of Durham, who then came back from the court of Clement with the magnificent title of Patriarch of Jerusalem. For a second time Edward laid violent hands upon the rich temporalities of the see, and Bek, like Winchelsea, remained under a cloud for the remainder of the reign.

Clement expected to be paid for yielding so much to the king. A papal agent, William de Testa, was sent to England, and to him Edward gave the administration of the temporalities of Canterbury. William's energy in collecting first-fruits aroused a storm of opposition from the clergy. The laity, disgusted to find that the king was negotiating for the transference of a crusading tenth to himself, associated themselves with their protest. Clement thereupon despatched the Cardinal Peter of Spain to England, that he might attempt to arrange a general pacification, and complete the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Isabella of France, which had been agreed upon in 1303. Before the cardinal's arrival, Edward's last parliament met in January, 1307, at Carlisle. The renewed disturbances in Scotland necessitated a meeting on the border, but the main transactions of the estates bore upon matters ecclesiastical. The lords and commons joined in demanding from the king a remedy against the oppressions of the apostolic see. A spirited and strongly worded protest was addressed to the pope. Nor were the estates contented with mere remonstrances. The statute of Carlisle renewed the abortive measure of 1305 De asportis religiosorum, by prohibiting tallages of religious houses being sent out of the realm. Had the petition of the estates been drafted into a statute, the parliament of Carlisle would have anticipated the statute of Praemunire and many other anti-papal enactments. But Peter of Spain arrived, and Edward thought it injudicious to provoke a contest with the papacy. Even the petition actually approved was left in suspense to await further negotiations between the king and the cardinal. Before any decision was come to, Edward died, and this anti-Roman movement, like so many which had preceded it, resulted in little more than brave words. When, two generations later, a more resolute temper seized upon king and estates, they fell back upon the petitions and proceedings of the parliament of Carlisle for precedents for resisting the papal authority. With all its pitiful conclusion, Edward's ecclesiastical policy at least marks a step in advance upon the dependent attitude of Henry III.

In the period of peace after the conquest of Scotland, Edward busied himself with strengthening the administration of his own kingdom and with enforcing the laws against violence and outrage. Under the strongest of medieval kings, the state of society was very disorderly, and even a ruler like Edward had often to be contented with holding up in his legislation an ideal of conduct which he was powerless to enforce in detail. Complaints had long been made that the greater nobles encroached upon poor men's inheritances, that gangs of marauders ranged over the country, wreaking every sort of violence and outrage, and that the law courts would give no redress to the sufferers from such outrageous deeds, since judges and juries were alike terrorised by overmighty offenders and dared not administer equal justice. Accordingly in the Lenten parliament of 1305 was drawn up the ordinance of Trailbaston, by which the king was empowered to issue writs of inquiry, addressed to special justices in the various shires, and authorising them to take vigorous action against these trailbastons, or men with clubs, whose outrages had become so grievous. It was not so much a new law as an administrative act; but it formed a precedent for later times, and the energy of the justices of trailbaston effected a real, if temporary, improvement in the condition of the country. So important was the measure that a chronicler calls the year in which this was enacted the "year of trailbaston".[1]

[1] Liber de antiquis legibus, p. 250.

Never did Edward's prospects seem brighter than in the early days of 1306. Scotland was obedient; the French alliance was firmly cemented; the pope was complacent; the Archbishop of Canterbury was in exile and the Bishop of Durham in disgrace; the commons were grateful for the better order secured by the commissions of trailbaston, and the king had in the papal absolution a weapon in reserve, which he could always use against a renewal of baronial opposition, though, for the moment, neither nobles nor commons seemed likely to give trouble. Once more there was some talk of Edward leading a crusade, and the French lawyer, Peter Dubois, at this time dedicated to him the first draft of his remarkable treatise on the recovery of the Holy Land.[1] Nor did the project seem altogether impracticable. Though Edward was sixty-seven years of age, he remained slim, vigorous and straight as a palm tree. He could mount his horse and ride to the hunt or the field with the activity of youth. His eyes were not dimmed with age and his teeth were still firm in his jaws.[2] The worst trouble which immediately beset him, was the undutiful conduct of the young Prince of Wales, who foolishly quarrelled with Bishop Langton, and preferred to amuse himself with unworthy favourites rather than submit himself to the severe training in arms and affairs to which Edward had long striven to inure him. When all thus seemed favourable, a sudden storm burst in Scotland which plunged the old king into renewed troubles.

[1] De recuperatione terre sancte, ed. C.V. Langlois (1891).

[2] John of London, Commendatio lamentabilis, pp. 5-6.

In 1304 Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, became by his father's death the head of his house. Though he had long adhered to the regency which had governed Scotland in Balliol's name, he had now made terms with Edward, and had taken a conspicuous part in bringing about the pacification of Scotland under its new constitution. But the double policy, which had involved him in the shifts and tergiversations of his earlier career, still dominated the mind of the ambitious earl. At the moment of his submission to Edward, he entered into an intimate alliance with Bishop Lamberton of St. Andrews, the old partisan of Wallace. Lamberton was then, like Bruce, on Edward's side, and as John of Brittany had not yet personally taken up his new charge, the blind confidence of Edward entrusted him with the foremost place among the commissioners who acted as wardens of Scotland during the king's lieutenant's absence. Bruce, still remembering his grandfather's claim on the throne, welcomed the definitive setting aside of Balliol. While Edward believed that Scotland was quietening down under its new constitution, Bruce was secretly conspiring with the Scottish magnates, with a view to making himself king. His chief difficulty was with the late regent, John Comyn the Red, lord of Badenoch. The Bruces and the Comyns had long been at variance, and the Red Comyn, who was the nephew of the deposed King John, regarded himself as the representative of the Balliol claim to the throne, and was not unmindful how his father had withdrawn his pretensions in 1291 rather than divide the Balliol interest. Meanwhile the antagonism of the two houses was the best safeguard for the continuance of Edward's rule.

Bruce was violent as well as able and ambitious. He invited Comyn to a conference for January 10, 1306, in the Franciscan friary at Dumfries. On that day the king's justices were holding the assizes in the castle, and Brace and Comyn, with a few followers, met in the cloister of the convent. Hot words were exchanged, and Bruce drew his sword and wounded Comyn. The lord of Badenoch took refuge in the church, and some of Bruce's friends followed him and slew him on the steps of the high altar. This cruel murder involved a violent breach between Bruce and the king. The earl took to the hills, declared himself the champion of national independence, and renewed his claim to the crown. He was joined by a great multitude of the people and by a certain number of the magnates. Conspicuous among the latter was Bishop Wishart of Glasgow, who broke his sixth oath of fealty, using the timber given him by Edward for building the steeple of his cathedral in constructing military engines to besiege the castles which were still held for the English king. Before long Bishop Lamberton, the chief of the Edwardian government, also went over. The support of the two bishops enabled Bruce to be crowned on March 25 at Scone. All Scotland was soon in revolt, and only the garrisons and a few magnates remained faithful to Edward.

News of the death of Comyn and the revolt of Bruce reached Edward, while engaged in hunting in Dorset and Wiltshire. He at once called upon Church and State to unite against the sacreligious murderer and traitor. Clement V. excommunicated the Earl of Carrick, and deprived Lamberton and Wishart of their bishoprics. The warlike zeal of the English barons was stimulated by liberal grants of the forfeited estates of Bruce and his partisans. Feeling the infirmities of age coming upon him, Edward saw that his best chance of success was to inspire his son with something of his spirit. The Prince of Wales accordingly received a grant of Gascony, and on Whitsunday, May 22, was dubbed knight at Westminster along with over two hundred other aspirants to arms. A magnificent feast in Westminster Hall succeeded the ceremony. Two swans, adorned with golden chains, were brought in, and the old king set to all the revellers the example of vowing on the swans to revenge the murder of Comyn. Edward swore that when he had expiated this wrong to Holy Church, he would never more bear arms against Christian man, but would immediately turn his steps towards the Holy Land to redeem the Holy Sepulchre. The Prince of Wales' vow was never to rest two nights in the same spot until he had reached Scotland to assist his father in his purpose. Then all the young knights were despatched northwards to overthrow the Scottish pretender.

A liberal grant from the estates facilitated the military preparations. But since the beginning of the year, Edward's strength had rapidly broken. He was no longer able to ride, and his movements were consequently very tedious. His army gathered together with more than the usual slowness, and Aymer of Valence, Earl of Pembroke, the king's cousin, was sent forward as warden of Scotland to meet Bruce with such forces as were ready. On June 26 Aymer fell upon Bruce at Methven, near Perth, and inflicted a severe defeat upon him. The power of the pretender died away as rapidly as it had arisen. The Bishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow were made prisoners, and Bruce's brothers, wife, and daughter fell into the enemy's hands. The brothers were promptly beheaded, though one of them was an ecclesiastic, and the ladies were confined in English nunneries. Bruce himself fled to Kintyre, and thence to Rathlin island, off the coast of Antrim.

Edward went north in July, and, after a long stay in Northumberland, took up his quarters early in October with the Austin canons of Lanercost, near Carlisle. There he remained for above five months. In January, 1307, the parliament, whose anti-clerical policy has already been recounted, assembled at Carlisle, and remained in session until March. With the spring, Brace crossed over from Ireland, and re-appeared in his own lands in the south-west. In May he revenged the rout of Methven by inflicting a bloody check on Aymer of Valence near Ayr, and within three days gained another victory over Edward's son-in-law, Earl Ralph of Gloucester. These blows only spurred on Edward to increased efforts. The levies were summoned to meet at Carlisle and, regardless of his infirmities, the old king resolved to lead his troops in person. On July 3 he once more mounted his horse and started for the border. But his constitution could not respond to the demands made on it by his unbroken spirit. After a journey of two miles he was forced to rest for the night. Next day he could only traverse a similar distance, and his exertions so fatigued him that he was compelled to remain at his lodgings all the following day. This repose enabled him to make his way, on July 6, to Burgh-on-Sands, less than seven miles from Carlisle, where he spent the night. On July 7, as he was being raised in his bed by his attendants to take his morning meal, he fell back in their arms and expired.



CHAPTER XII.

GAVESTON, THE ORDAINERS, AND BANNOCKBURN.

Edward of Carnarvon was over twenty-three years of age when he became king. Tall, graceful, and handsome, with magnificent health and exceptional bodily strength, the young king was, so far as externals went, almost as fine a man as his father. Yet no one could have been more absolutely destitute of all those qualities which constitute Edward I.'s claims to greatness. An utter want of serious purpose blasted his whole career. It was in vain that his father subjected him to a careful training in statecraft and in military science. Though not lacking in intelligence, the young prince from the first to the last concerned himself with nothing but his own amusements. A confirmed gambler and a deep drinker, Edward showed a special bent for unkingly and frivolous diversions. Save in his devotion for the chase, his tastes had nothing in common with the high-born youths with whom he was educated. He showed himself a coward on the battlefield, and shirked even the mimic warfare of the tournament. He repaid the contempt and dislike of his own class by withdrawing himself from the society of the nobles, and associating himself with buffoons, singers, play-actors, coachmen, ditchers, watermen, sailors, and smiths. Of the befitting comrades of his youth, the only one of the higher aristocracy with whom he had any true intimacy was his nephew, Gilbert of Clare, while the only member of his household for whom he showed real affection was the Gascon knight, Peter of Gaveston.[1] Attributing his son's levity to Gaveston's corrupting influence, the old king had banished the foreign favourite early in 1307. But no change in his surroundings could stir up the prince's frivolous nature to fulfil the duties of his station. Edward's most kingly qualities were love of fine clothes and of ceremonies. Passionately fond of rowing, driving, horse-breeding, and the rearing of dogs, his ordinary occupations were those of the athlete or the artisan. He was skilful with his hands, and an excellent mechanic, proficient at the anvil and the forge, and proud of his skill in digging ditches and thatching roofs. Interested in music, and devoted to play-acting, he was badly educated, taking the coronation oath in the French form provided for a king ignorant of Latin. Vain, irritable, and easily moved to outbursts of childish wrath, he was half-conscious of the weakness of his will, and was never without a favourite, whose affection compensated him for his subjects' contempt. The household of so careless a master was disorderly beyond the ordinary measure of the time. While Edward irritated the nobles by his neglect of their counsel, he vexed the commons by the exactions of his purveyors.

[1] That is Gabaston, dep. Basses Pyrenees, cant. Morlaas.

The task which lay before Edward might well have daunted a stronger man. The old king had failed in the great purpose of his life. Scotland was in full revolt and had found a man able to guide her destinies. The crown was deeply in debt; the exchequer was bare of supplies, and the revenues both of England and Gascony were farmed by greedy and unpopular companies of Italian bankers, such as the Frescobaldi of Florence, the king's chief creditors. The nobles, though restrained by the will of the old king, still cherished the ideals of the age of the Barons' War, and were convinced that the best way to rule England was to entrust the machinery of the central government, which Edward I. had elaborated with so much care, to the control of a narrow council of earls and prelates. Winchelsea, though broken in health, looked forward in his banishment to the renewal of the alliance of baronage and clergy, and to the reassertion of hierarchical ideals. The papal curia, already triumphant in the last days of the reign of the dead king, was anticipating a return to the times of Henry III, when every dignity of the English Church was at its mercy. The strenuous endeavour which had marked the last reign gave place to the extreme of negligence.

Edward at once broke with the policy of his father. After receiving, at Carlisle, the homage of the English magnates, he crossed the Solway to Dumfries, where such Scottish barons as had not joined Robert Bruce took oaths of fealty to him. He soon relinquished the personal conduct of the war, and travelled slowly to Westminster on the pretext of following his father's body to its last resting-place. He replaced his father's ministers by dependants of his own. Bishop Walter Langton, the chief minister of the last years of Edward I., was singled out for special vengeance. He was stripped of his offices, robbed of his treasure, and thrown into close confinement, without any regard to the immunities of a churchman from secular jurisdiction. Langton's place as treasurer was given to Walter Reynolds, an illiterate clerk, who had won the chief place in Edward's household through his skill in theatricals. Ralph Baldock, Bishop of London, was replaced in the chancery by John Langton, Bishop of Chichester. The barons of the exchequer, the justices of the high courts, and the other ministers of the old king were removed in favour of more complacent successors. Signal favour was shown to all who had fallen under Edward I.'s displeasure. Bishop Bek, of Durham, was restored to his palatinate, and the road to return opened to Winchelsea, though ill-health detained him on the Continent for some time longer. Conspicuous among the returned exiles was Peter of Gaveston, whom the king welcomed with the warmest affection. He at once invested his "brother Peter" with the rich earldom of Cornwall, which the old king, with the object of conferring it on one of his sons by his second marriage, had kept in his hands since Earl Edmund's death. A little later Edward married the favourite to his niece, Margaret of Clare, the eldest sister of Earl Gilbert of Gloucester. Of the tried comrades of Edward I. the only one who remained in authority was Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln. The abandonment of the Scottish campaign soon followed. It was no wonder that the Scots lords, who had performed homage to Edward at Dumfries, began to turn to Bruce. Already king of the Scottish commons, Robert was in a fair way to become accepted by the whole people.

The readiness with which the barons acquiesced in Edward's reversal of his father's policy shows that they had regarded the late king's action with little favour. Lincoln, the wisest and most influential of the earls, even found reasons for the grant of Cornwall to Gaveston, and kept in check his son-in-law, Earl Thomas of Lancaster, who was the most disposed to grumble at the elevation of the Gascon favourite. Gilbert of Gloucester was but newly come to his earldom. He was personally attached to the king, his old playmate and uncle, and was not unfriendly to his Gascon brother-in-law. The recent concentration of the great estates in the hands of a few individuals gave these three earls a position of overwhelming importance both in the court and in the country, and with their good-will Edward was safe. But the weakness of the king and the rashness of the favourite soon caused murmurs to arise.

Early in 1308 Edward crossed over to France, leaving Gaveston as regent, and was married on January 25, at Boulogne, to Philip the Fair's daughter Isabella, a child of twelve, to whom he had been plighted since 1298. The marriage was attended by the French king and a great gathering of the magnates of both countries. Opportunity was taken of the meeting for Edward to perform homage for Aquitaine. After the arrival of the royal couple in England, their coronation took place on February 25. Time had been when the reign began with the king's crowning; but Edward had taken up every royal function immediately on his father's death, and set a precedent to later sovereigns by dating his own accession from the day succeeding the decease of his predecessor. The coronation ceremony, minutely recorded, provided precedents for later ages. It was some recognition of the work of the last generation that the coronation oath was somewhat more rigid and involved a more definite recognition of the rights of the community than on earlier occasions. Winchelsea was still abroad, and the hallowing was performed by Henry Woodlock, Bishop of Winchester.

Discontent was already simmering. Not even Lincoln's weighty influence could overcome the irritation of the earls at the elevation of the Gascon knight into their circle. The very virtues of the vigorous favourite turned to his discredit. At a tournament given by him, at his own castle of Wallingford, to celebrate his marriage with the king's niece, the new-made earl, with a party of valiant knights, challenged a troop, which included the Earls of Hereford, Warenne, and Arundel, and utterly discomfited his rivals.[1] The victory of the upstart over magnates of such dignity was accounted for by treachery, and the prohibition of a coronation tournament, probably a simple measure of police, was ascribed to the unwillingness of Peter to give his opponents a legitimate opportunity of vindicating their skill. There had been much resentment at Gaveston's appointment as regent during the king's absence in France. A further outburst of indignation followed when the Gascon, magnificently arrayed and bedecked with jewels, bore the crown of St. Edward in the coronation procession. The queen's uncles, who had escorted her to her new home, left England disgusted that Edward's love for Gaveston led him to neglect his bride, and the want of reserve shown in the personal dealings of the king and his "idol" suggested the worst interpretation of their relations, though this is against the weight of evidence. Rumours spread that the favourite had laid hands on the vast treasures which Bishop Walter Langton had deposited at the New Temple, and had extorted from the king even larger sums, which he had sent to his kinsfolk in Gascony by the agency of the Italian farmers of the revenue.

[1] Ann. Paulini, p. 258, and Monk of Malmesbury, p. 156, are to be preferred to Trokelowe, p. 65.

Gaveston was a typical Gascon, vain, loquacious, and ostentatious, proud of his own ready wit and possessed of a fatal talent for sharp and bitter sayings. He seems to have been a brave and generous soldier. There is little proof that he was specially vicious or incompetent, and, had he been allowed time to establish himself, he might well have been the parent of a noble house, as patriotic and as narrowly English as the Valence lords of Pembroke had become in the second generation. But his sudden elevation rather turned his head, and the dull but dignified English earls were soon mortally offended by his airs of superiority, and by his intervention between them and the sovereign. "If," wrote the annalist of St. Paul's, London, "one of the earls or magnates sought any special favour of the king, the king forthwith sent him to Peter, and whatever Peter said or ordered at once took place, and the king ratified it. Hence the whole people grew indignant that there should be two kings in one kingdom, one the king in name, the other the king in reality." Gaveston's vanity was touched by the sullen hostility of the earls. He returned their suspicion by an openly expressed contempt. He amused himself and the king by devising nicknames for them. Thomas of Lancaster was the old pig or the play-actor, Aymer of Pembroke was Joseph the Jew, Gilbert of Gloucester was the cuckoo, and Guy of Warwick was the black dog of Arden. Such jests were bitterly resented. "If he call me dog," said Warwick on hearing of the insult, "I will take care to bite him." The barons formed an association, bound by oath to drive Gaveston into exile and deprive him of his earldom. All over the country there were secret meetings and eager preparations for war. The outlook became still more alarming when the Earl of Lincoln at last changed his policy. Convinced of the unworthiness of Gaveston, he turned against him, and the whole baronage followed his lead. Only Hugh Despenser and a few lawyers adhered to the favourite. Gloucester did not like to take an active part against his brother-in-law, but his stepfather, Monthermer, was conspicuous among the enemies of the Gascon. Winchelsea, too, came to England and threw his powerful influence on the side of the opposition.

In April, 1308, a parliament of nobles met and insisted upon the exile of the favourite. The magnates took up a high line. "Homage and the oath of allegiance," they declared, "are due to the crown rather than to the person of the king. If the king behave unreasonably, his lieges are bound to bring him back to the ways of righteousness." On May 18 letters patent were issued promising that Gaveston should be banished before June 25. Gaveston, bending before the storm, surrendered his earldom and prepared for departure, while Winchelsea and the bishops declared him excommunicate if he tarried in England beyond the appointed day. The king did his best to lighten his friend's misfortune. Fresh grants of land and castles compensated for the loss of Cornwall and gave him means for armed resistance. The grant of Gascon counties, jurisdictions, cities and castles to the value of 3,000 marks a year provided him with a dignified refuge. The pope and cardinals were besought to relieve him from the sentence hung over his head by the archbishop. It is significant of Edward's early intention to violate his promise, that in his letters to the curia he still describes Gaveston as Earl of Cornwall. Peter was soon appointed the king's lieutenant in Ireland. This time he was called Earl of Cornwall in a document meant for English use. As midsummer approached, Edward accompanied him to Bristol and bade him a sorrowful farewell. Attended by a numerous and splendid household, Gaveston crossed over to Ireland and took up the government of that country, where his energy and liberality won him considerable popularity.

Edward was inconsolable at the loss of his friend. For the first time in his reign he threw himself into politics with interest, and intrigued with rare perseverance to bring about his recall. Meanwhile the business of the state fell into deplorable confusion. No supplies were raised; no laws were passed; no effort was made to stay the progress of Robert Bruce. The magnates refused to help the king, and in April, 1309, Edward was forced to meet a parliament of the three estates at Westminster. There he received a much-needed supply, but the barons and commons drew up a long schedule of grievances, in which they complained of the abuses of purveyance, the weakness of the government, the tyranny of the royal officials, and the delays in obtaining justice. The estates refused point blank the king's request for the recall of Gaveston and demanded an answer to their petitions in the next parliament.

Edward saw in submission to the estates the only way of bringing back his brother Peter from his gilded exile. He persuaded the pope to annul the ecclesiastical censures with which Winchelsea had sought to prevent Gaveston's return, and then recalled his friend on his own authority. Gaveston at once quitted Ireland and was met at Chester by Edward. Together they attended a parliament of magnates held in July at Stamford. There Edward announced that he accepted the petitions of the estates and issued a statute limiting purveyance. But the real work of this assembly was the ratification of the recall of the favourite, which was assured since Edward had won over some of the chief earls to agree to it. Gloucester was easily moved to champion his brother-in-law's cause. Lincoln reverted to his former friendship for the Gascon, and managed both to overbear the hostility of Lancaster and to induce Earl Warenne, "who had never shown a cheerful face to Peter since the Wallingford tournament," to become his friend. Warwick, alone of the earls, was irreconcilable. But Edward had gained his point. It was even agreed that the returned exile should regain his earldom of Cornwall.

The annalists moralise on the instability of the magnates; and the sudden revolution may perhaps be set down as much to their incapacity as to the dexterity of the king. But Peter's second period of power was even shorter than his first. He had learnt nothing from his misfortunes, save perhaps increased contempt for his enemies. He was more insolent, greedy, and bitter in speech than ever. Early in 1310 the barons were again preparing to renew their attacks. The second storm burst in a parliament of magnates held at London in March, 1310. The barons came to this parliament in military array, and Edward once more found himself at their mercy. The conditions of 1258 exactly repeated themselves. Once more an armed baronial parliament made itself the mouthpiece of the national discontent against a weak king, an incompetent administration, and foreign favourites. The magnates were no longer contented with simply demanding the banishment of Gaveston. They were ready with a constructive programme of reform, and they went back to the policy of the Mad Parliament. As the king could not be trusted, the royal power must once more be put into commission in the hands of a committee of magnates. So stiff were the barons in their adhesion to the precedents of 1258, that they made no pretence of taking the commons into partnership with them. To them the work of Edward I. had been done to no purpose. Baronial assemblies and full parliaments of the estates were still equally competent to transact all the business of the nation. It is vain to see in this ignoring of the commons any aristocratic jealousy of the more popular element in the constitution. There can be no doubt but that any full parliament would have co-operated with the barons as heartily in 1310 as it had done in 1309. It was simply that popular co-operation was regarded as unnecessary. As in 1258, the magnates claimed to speak for the whole nation.

The barons drew up a statement of the "great perils and dangers" to which England was exposed through the king's dependence on bad counsellors. The franchises of Holy Church were threatened; the king was reduced to live by extortion; Scotland was lost; and the crown was "grievously dismembered" in England and Ireland. "Wherefore, sire," the petition concludes, "your good folk pray you humbly that, for the salvation of yourself and them and of the crown, you will assent that these perils shall be avoided and redressed by ordinance of your baronage." Edward at once surrendered at discretion, perhaps in the vain hope of saving Gaveston. On March 16 he issued a charter, which empowered the barons to elect certain persons to draw up ordinances to reform the realm and the royal household. The powers of the committee were to last until Michaelmas, 1311. A barren promise that the king's concession should not be counted a precedent made Edward's submission seem a little less abject. Four days later the ordainers were appointed, the method of their election being based upon the precedents of 1258.

Twenty-one lords ordainers represented in somewhat unequal proportions the three great ranks of the magnates. At the head of the seven bishops was Winchelsea, while both Bishop Baldock of London, the dismissed chancellor, and his successor, John Langton of Chichester, were included among the rest. All the eight earls attending the parliament became ordainers. Side by side with moderate men, such as Gloucester, Lincoln, and John of Brittany, Earl of Richmond, were the extreme men of the opposition, Lancaster, Pembroke, Warwick, Hereford, the king's brother-in-law, and Edmund Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel. Warenne and the insignificant Earl of Oxford do not seem to have been present in parliament, and are therefore omitted. With these exceptions, and of course that of the Earl of Cornwall, the whole of the earls were arrayed against the king. The six barons, who completed the list of nominees, were either colourless in their policy or dependent on the earls and their episcopal allies. The ordainers set to work at once. Two days after their appointment, they issued six preliminary ordinances by which they resolved that the place of their sitting should be London, that none of the ordainers should receive gifts from the crown, that no royal grants should be valid without the consent of the majority, that the customs should be paid directly into the exchequer, that the foreign merchants who had lately farmed them should be arrested, and that the Great Charter should be firmly kept. During the next eighteen months they remained hard at work.

Gaveston, conscious of his impending doom, betook himself to the north as early as February. As soon as he could escape, Edward hurried northwards to join him. An expedition against the Scots was then summoned for September. It was high time that something should be done. During the three years that Edward had reigned, Robert Bruce had made alarming progress. One after the other the Scottish magnates had joined his cause, and a few despairing partisans and some scattered ill-garrisoned, ill-equipped strongholds alone upheld the English cause north of the Tweed. But even then Edward did not wage war in earnest. His real motive for affecting zeal for martial enterprise was his desire to escape from his taskmasters, and to keep Gaveston out of harm's way. The earls gave him no encouragement. On the pretext that their services were required in London at the meetings of the ordainers, the great majority of the higher baronage took no personal part in the expedition. Gloucester was the only ordainer who was present, and the only other earls in the host were Warenne and Gaveston himself. The chief strength of Edwards army was a swarm of ill-disciplined Welsh and English infantry, more intent on plunder than on victory. In September Edward advanced to Roxburgh and made his way as far as Linlithgow. No enemy was to be found, for Bruce was not strong enough to risk a pitched battle, even against Edward's army. He hid himself in the mountains and moors, and contented himself with cutting off foraging parties, destroying stragglers, and breaking down the enemy's communications. Within two months Edward discreetly retired to Berwick, and there passed many months at the border town. Technically he was in Scotland; practically he might as well have been in London for all the harm he was doing to Bruce. However, Gaveston showed more martial zeal than his master. He led an expedition which penetrated as far as Perth, and reduced the country between the Forth and the Grampians to Edward's obedience. Gloucester also pacified the forest of Ettrick. To these two all the little honour of the campaign belonged.

The Earl of Lincoln governed England as regent during the king's absence. In February, 1311, he died, and Gloucester abandoned the campaign to take up the regency. The death of the last of Edward I.'s lay ministers was followed in March by that of another survivor of the old generation, Bishop Bek of Durham. The old landmarks were quickly passing away, and the forces that still made for moderation were sensibly diminished. Gilbert of Gloucester, alone of the younger generation, still aspired to the position of a mediator. The most important result of Lincoln's death was the unmuzzling of his son-in-law, Thomas of Lancaster. In his own right the lord of the three earldoms of Lancaster, Leicester, and Derby, Thomas then received in addition his father-in-law's two earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury. The enormous estates and innumerable jurisdictions attached to these five offices gave him a territorial position greater by far than that of any other English lord. "I do not believe," writes the monk of Malmesbury, "that any duke or count of the Roman empire could do as much with the revenues of his estates as the Earl of Lancaster." Nor were Earl Thomas' personal connexions less magnificent than his feudal dignities. As a grandson of Henry III., he was the first cousin of the king. Through his mother, Blanche of Artois, Queen of Navarre and Countess of Champagne, he was the grandson of the valiant Robert of Artois, who had fallen at Mansura, and the great-grandson of Louis VIII. of France. His half-sister, Joan of Champagne, was the wife of Philip the Fair, so that the French king was his brother-in-law as well as his cousin, and Isabella, Edward's consort, was his niece. Unluckily, the personality of the great earl was not equal to his pedigree or his estates. Proud, hard to work with, jealous, and irascible, he was essentially the leader of opposition, the grumbler, and the frondeur. When the time came for a constructive policy, Thomas broke down almost as signally as Edward himself. His ability was limited, his power of application small, and his passions violent and ungovernable. Greedy, selfish, domineering, and narrow, he had few scruples and no foresight, little patriotism, and no breadth of view. At this moment he had to play a part which was within his powers. The simple continuance of the traditions of policy, which he inherited with his pedigree and his estates; was all that was necessary. As the greatest of the English earls, the head of a younger branch of the royal house, and the inheritor of the estates and titles of Montfort and Ferrars, he was trebly bound to act as leader of the baronial opposition, the champion of the charters, the enemy of kings, courtiers, favourites, and foreigners. He was steadfast in his prejudices and hatreds, and the ordainers found in him a leader who could at least save them from the reproach of inconstancy and the lack of fixed purpose shown at the parliament of Stamford.

It was the first duty of Earl Thomas to perform homage and fealty for his new earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury. Attended by a hundred armed knights, he rode towards the border. Edward was at Berwick, and Thomas declined to proffer his homage outside the kingdom. On Edward refusing to cross the Tweed, Thomas declared that he would take forcible possession of his lands. Civil war was only avoided by Edward giving way. The king met Thomas on English soil at Haggerston, four miles from Berwick. There the earl performed homage, and exchanged the kiss of peace with his king, but he would not even salute the upstart Earl of Cornwall, who injudiciously accompanied Edward, and the king departed deeply indignant at this want of courtesy. Returning to Berwick, Edward lingered there until the completion of the work of the ordainers made it necessary for him to face parliament. Leaving Gaveston protected by the strong walls of Bamburgh, the king quitted the border at the end of July, and met his parliament a month later in London. Though the ordainers had been appointed by a baronial parliament, the three estates were summoned to hear and ratify the results of their labours. Thirty-five more ordinances, covering a very wide field, were then laid before them. Disorderly and disproportioned, like most medieval legislation, they ranged from trivial personal questions and the details of administration to the broadest schemes for the future. Many of them were simply efforts to get the recognised law enforced. There were clauses forbidding alienation of domain, the abuses of purveyance, the usurpations of the courts of the royal household, the enlargement of the forests, and the employment of unlawful sources of revenue. Under the last head, the new custom, which Edward I. had persuaded the foreign merchants to pay, was specifically abolished. Provisions of such a character show that the king had made no effort to observe either the Great Charter or the laws of Edward I. Even the recent statute of Stamford, and the six ordinances of the previous year, had to be re-enacted. Similar restatements of sound principles were too common in the fourteenth century to make the ordinances an epoch. The vital clauses were those providing for the control of the king and for penalties against his favourites.

Under the first of these heads, the ordainers worked out to the uttermost consequences their favourite distinction between the crown and the king. The crown was to be strengthened, but the king was to be deprived of every shred of power. The great offices of state in England, Ireland, and Gascony were to be filled up with the counsel and consent of the barons, a provision which, if literally interpreted, meant that the barons intended to govern Gascony as well as England. The king was not to go to war, raise an army, or leave the kingdom without the permission of parliament. He was to "live of his own," however scanty a living that might be. Special judges were to hear complaints against royal ministers and bailiffs. Parliaments were to meet once or twice a year. It was a complete programme of limited monarchy. But there was no reference to the commons and clergy. We are still in the atmosphere of the Provisions of Oxford, and there is no Earl Simon to emphasise the fuller conception of national control.

To Edward and to the barons, the penal clauses were the very essence of the ordinances. The twentieth ordinance declared that Peter of Gaveston, "as a public enemy of the king and kingdom, be forthwith exiled, for all time and without hope of return," from all dominions subject to the English king. He was to leave England before All Saints' day, and the port of Dover was to be his place of embarkation. Other ordinances dealt with lesser offenders. Exile was once more to be the doom of the Frescobaldi, and the other alien merchants who had acted as Edward's financial agents; Gaveston's kinsfolk, followers and abettors incurred their master's fate. All Gascons were to be sent to their own country, their allegiance to the crown in no wise saving them from the hatred meted out to all aliens. Neither high nor low were spared: Henry de Beaumont, the grandson of an Eastern emperor, and his sister, the lady Vesey, were to leave the realm; John Charlton, the pushing Shropshire squire who was worming his way by court favour into the estates of the degenerate descendants of the house of Gwenwynwyn, was, with the other English partisans of the favourite, to be driven from the royal service.

Edward made a last desperate attempt to save Gaveston. He would agree to all the other ordinances, if he were still allowed to keep his brother Peter in England and in possession of the earldom of Cornwall. But the estates refused to yield the root of the whole matter. Threatened with the prospect of a new battle of Lewes, if he remained obdurate, Edward bowed to his destiny. The ordinances were published in every shire, and new ministers, chosen with the approval of the estates, deprived the king of the government of the country.

Early in November, Gaveston sailed to Flanders, but within a few weeks Edward insisted upon his return. Rumours spread that Gaveston was in England, hiding himself away in his former castles of Wallingford and Tintagel, or in the king's castle of Windsor. The thin veil of mystery was soon withdrawn. Early in 1312, Peter openly accompanied the king to York, where, on January 18, Edward issued a proclamation to the effect that Gaveston had been unlawfully exiled, that he was back in England by the king's command, and prepared to answer to all charges against him. A few weeks later, Edward restored him to his earldom and estates. King and favourite still tarried in the north, preparing for the inevitable struggle. It was believed that they intrigued with Robert Bruce for a refuge in Scotland. Bruce, according to the story, declined to have anything to do with them. "If the King of England will not keep faith with his own subjects," he is reported to have said, "how then will he keep faith with me?"

The ordainers looked upon Gaveston's return as a declaration of war. Winchelsea pronounced him excommunicate, and five of the eight earls who sat among the ordainers, bound themselves by oaths to maintain the ordinances and pursue the favourite to the death. These were Thomas of Lancaster, Aymer of Pembroke, Humphrey of Hereford, Edmund of Arundel, and Guy of Warwick. Gilbert of Gloucester declined to take part in the confederacy, but promised to accept whatever the five earls might determine. Moreover, John, Earl Warenne, who had hitherto kept aloof from the ordainers, at last threw in his lot with them, won over, it was believed, by the eloquence of Archbishop Winchelsea. The ordainers then divided England into large districts, appointing one of the baronial leaders to the charge of each. Gloucester himself undertook the government of the south-east, while Robert Clifford and Henry Percy agreed to guard the march, to prevent Gaveston escaping to the Scots. Pembroke and Warenne marched to the north to lay hands on the favourite, and Lancaster himself followed them.

While the ordainers were acting, Edward and Gaveston were aimlessly wandering about in the north. They failed to raise an army or to win the people to their side, and on the approach of Lancaster, they fled before him from York to Newcastle. The earl followed quickly. On the afternoon of Ascension day, May 4, Lancaster, Clifford, and Percy suddenly swooped down on Newcastle. The king and his friend escaped with the utmost difficulty to Tynemouth, leaving their luggage, jewels, horses, and other possessions to the victor. Next day they fled by sea to Scarborough. The queen, left behind at Tynemouth, fell into her uncle Lancaster's power.

The royal castle of Scarborough, whose Norman keep and spacious wards occupy a rocky peninsula surrounded, except on the town side, by the North Sea, had lately been transferred from the custody of Henry Percy, one of the confederate barons, to that of Gaveston. There was no fitter place wherein the favourite could stand at bay against his pursuers. Accordingly Edward left Gaveston, after a tender parting, and betook himself to York. Lancaster thereupon occupied a position midway between Scarborough and Knaresborough, while Pembroke, Warenne, and Henry Percy laid siege to Scarborough. Gaveston soon found that he was unable to resist them. His troops, scarcely adequate to man the extensive walls, were too many for the scanty store of provisions which the castle contained. After less than a fortnight's siege, he persuaded the two earls and Percy to allow him easy terms of surrender. The three baronial leaders pledged themselves on the Gospels to protect Gaveston from all manner of evil until August 1. During the interval parliament was to decide as to what was to be his future fate. If the terms agreed upon by parliament were unsatisfactory to him, he was to return to Scarborough, which was still to be garrisoned by his followers, with leave to purchase supplies.

Pembroke undertook the personal custody of the prisoner, and escorted him by slow stages from Scarborough to the south, where he was to be retained in honourable custody at his own castle of Wallingford. Three weeks after the surrender, the convoy reached Deddington, a small town in Oxfordshire, a few miles south of Banbury. There Gaveston was lodged in the house of the vicar of the parish, and told to take a few days' rest after the fatigues of the journey. Pembroke himself did not remain at Deddington, but went on to Bampton in the Bush, where his countess then was. Thereupon on June 10, at sunrise, the Earl of Warwick, the most rancorous of Peter's enemies, occupied Deddington with a strong force. Bursting into the bedchamber of his victim, Earl Guy exclaimed in a loud voice: "Arise, traitor, thou art taken". Peter was at once led with every mark of indignity to Warwick castle. Thus the black dog of Arden showed that he could bite.

Warwick was not personally pledged to Gaveston's safety, though, as one of the confederates, he was clearly bound by their acts. His seizure of Peter was only warrantable by the, fear that Pembroke, with his royalist leanings, was likely to play the extreme party false; but in any case Warwick was as much obliged as Pembroke to observe the terms of the capitulation. Neither Warwick nor his allies took this view of the matter. They rejoiced at the good fortune which had remedied the disastrous capitulation of Scarborough, and resolved to put an end to the favourite without delay. Lancaster was then at Kenilworth; Hereford, Arundel, and other magnates were also present, and all agreed in praising Warwick's energy. On Monday morning, June 19, the three earls rode the few miles from Kenilworth to Warwick, and Earl Guy handed over Peter to them. They then escorted their captive to a place called Blacklow hill, about two miles out of Warwick on the Kenilworth road, but situated in Lancaster's lands. The crowd following the cavalcade was moved to tears when Peter, kneeling to Lancaster, cried in vain for mercy from the "gentle earl". On reaching Blacklow hill, the three earls withdrew, though remaining near enough to see what was going on. Then two Welshmen in Lancaster's service laid hands upon the victim. One drove his sword through his body, the other cut off his head. The corpse remained where it had fallen, but the head was brought to the earls as a sign that the deed was done. After this the earls rode back to Kenilworth. Guy of Warwick remained all the time in his castle. He had already taken his share in the cruel act of treachery. It was, however, important that Lancaster should take the responsibility for the deed. Four cobblers of Warwick piously bore the headless corpse within their town. But the grim earl sent it back, because it was not found on his fee. At last some Oxford Dominicans took charge of the body and deposited it temporarily in their convent, not daring to inter it in holy ground, as Gaveston had died excommunicate.

The ostentatious violence of the confederate earls broke up their party. Aymer of Pembroke, indignant at their breach of faith, regarded the whole transaction as a stain on his honour. He besought Gloucester's intervention, but was only told that he should be more cautious in his future negotiations. He harangued the clerks and burgesses of Oxford, but university and town agreed that the matter was no business of theirs. Then in disgust he betook himself to the king, whom he found still surrounded with the Beaumonts, Mauleys, and other friends of Gaveston, against whom the ordinances had decreed banishment. Warenne, whose honour was only less impeached than Pembroke's, also deserted the ordainers for the court. Edward bitterly deplored the death of his friend. He gladly welcomed the deserters, and prepared to wreak vengeance on the ordainers.

Edward plucked up courage to return to London, where in July he addressed the citizens, and persuaded them to maintain the peace of the city against the barons. He next visited Dover, and there he strengthened the fortifications of the castle, took oaths of fealty from the Cinque Ports, and negotiated with the King of France. Thence he returned to London, hoping that the precautions he had taken would secure his position in the parliament which he had summoned to meet at Westminster. But the four earls still held the field, and answered the summons to parliament by occupying Ware with a strong military force. A thousand men-at-arms were drawn by Lancaster from his five earldoms, while the Welsh from Brecon, who followed the Earl of Hereford, and the vigorous foresters of Arden, who mustered under the banner of Warwick, made a formidable show. Yet at the last moment neither side was eager to begin hostilities. The four earls' violence damaged their cause, and many who had no love of Gaveston, or desire to avenge him, inclined to the king's party. Gilbert of Gloucester busied himself with mediating between the two sides. At this juncture two papal envoys, sent to end the interminable outstanding disputes with France, arrived in England, along with Louis, Count of Evreux, the queen's uncle. Edward availed himself of the presence of French jurists in the count's train to obtain legal opinion that the ordinances were invalid, as against natural equity and civil law. These technicalities did little service to the king's cause, and better work was done when Louis and the papal envoys joined with Gloucester in mediating between the opposing forces. At length moderate counsels prevailed. Edward could only resist the four earls through the support of his new allies, and Pembroke and Warenne were as little anxious to fight as Gloucester himself. They were quite willing to make terms which seemed to the king treason to his friend's memory.

The negotiations were still proceeding when, on November 13, 1312, the birth of a son to Edward and Isabella revived the almost dormant feeling of loyalty to the sovereign. The king ceased to brood over the loss of his brother Peter, and became more willing to accept the inevitable. He gave some pleasure to his subjects by refusing the suggestion of the queen's uncle that the child should be called Louis, and christened him Edward after his own father. At last, on December 22, terms of peace were agreed upon. The earls and barons concerned in Gaveston's death were to appear before the king in Westminster Hall, and humbly beg his pardon and good-will. In return for this the king agreed to remit all rancour caused by the death of the favourite. Lancaster and Warwick, who took no personal part in the negotiations, sent in a long list of objections to the details of the treaty. Nearly a year elapsed before the earls personally acknowledged their fault. During that interval there was no improvement in the position of affairs. Parliament granted no money; and Edward only met his daily expenses by loans, contracted from every quarter, and by keeping tight hands on the confiscated estates of the Templars. Both the king and the leading earls made every excuse to escape attending the ineffective parliaments of that miserable time. Two short visits to France gave Edward a pretext for avoiding his subjects. There were some hasty musterings of armed men on pretence of tournaments. But the king was still formidable enough to make it desirable for the barons to carry out the treaty. Finally, in October, 1313, Lancaster, Hereford, and Warwick made their public submission in Westminster Hall. Pardons were at once issued to them and to over four hundred minor offenders. Feasts of reconciliation were held, and it seemed as if the old feuds were at last ended. Gaveston's corpse was removed from Oxford to Langley, in Hertfordshire, and buried in the church of a new convent of Dominicans set up by Edward to pray for the favourite's soul.

Just before the end of the disputes Archbishop Winchelsea died in May, 1313. He left behind him the reputation of a saint and a hero, and a movement was undertaken for his canonisation. With all his faults, he was the greatest churchman of his time, and the most steadfast and unselfish of ecclesiastical statesmen. Despite his palsy, he had shown wonderful activity since his return. The brain and soul of the ordainers, he equally made it his business to uphold extreme hierarchical privilege. Bitterly as he hated Walter Langton, he was indignant that a bishop should be imprisoned and despoiled by the lay power, and took up his cause with such energy that he effected his liberation, only to find that Langton made peace with the king and turned his back on the ordainers. The after-swell of the storms, excited by the petition of Lincoln and the statute of Carlisle, still continued troublous during Winchelsea's later years. The pope complained of the violated privileges of the Church and of the accumulated arrears of King John's tribute; and Winchelsea was anxious to promote the papal cause. But the barons in Edward's early parliaments still used the bold language of the magnates of 1301, and the letter of 1309, drawn up by the parliament of Stamford, is no unworthy pendant of the Lincoln letter. As time went on, the disorders of the government and the weakness of the king surrendered everything to the pope. It was soon as it had been in the days of Henry III., when pope and king combined to despoil the English Church.

The suppression of the order of the Temple shows how absolutely England was forced to follow in the wake of the papacy and the King of France. There was no spontaneous movement against the society as in France; there was not even the fierce malice and insatiable greed which could find their only satisfaction in the ruin of the brethren; and there is not much evidence that the Templars were unpopular. The whole attack was the result of commands given from without. It was at the repeated request of Philip of France and Clement V. that Edward reluctantly ordered the apprehension of all the Templars within England, Scotland, and Ireland on January 8, 1308. Their property was taken into the king's hands, and their persons were confined in the royal prisons under the custody of the sheriffs. For their trial, Clement appointed a mixed commission including Winchelsea, Archbishop Greenfield of York, several English bishops, one French bishop, and certain papal inquisitors specially assigned for the purpose, the chief of whom were the Abbot of Lagny and Sicard de Lavaur, Canon of Narbonne, who came to England in 1309. At last the victims were collected at London and York, where the trials were to be conducted for the southern and northern provinces. There was much hesitation among the English bishops. The foes of the Templars lamented the prelates' lack of zeal and their scruples in collecting evidence, and suggested that the torture, which had so freely been used in France, would soon extract confessions. But the northern bishops declared that torture was unknown in England, and asked, if it were to be adopted, whether it was to be applied by clerks or laymen, and whether torturers should be imported from beyond sea. In the end, torture was used, but not to any great extent.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14     Next Part
Home - Random Browse