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History of the English People - Book IV The Parliament--1307-1461
Edward the Third 1327-1347
by Green, John Richard (M.A.)

Estate of the Commons Scotch War
Fall of Mortimer Edward and France
New Scotch War Scotland freed
The Hundred Years War The Imperial Alliance
Its Relation to the Papacy      Failure of the Alliance
England and the Papacy Protest of the Parliament
Flanders The Flemish Alliance
Edward's distress Progress of Parliament
Close of the truce Edward marches on Paris
Crécy The Yeoman
The Bow Siege of Calais

Estate of the Commons

The deposition of Edward the Second proclaimed to the world the power which the English Parliament had gained. In thirty years from their first assembly at Westminster the Estates had wrested from the Crown the last relic of arbitrary taxation, had forced on it new ministers and a new system of government, had claimed a right of confirming the choice of its councillors and of punishing their misconduct, and had established the principle that redress of grievances precedes a grant of supply. Nor had the time been less important in the internal growth of Parliament. Step by step the practical sense of the Houses themselves completed the work of Edward by bringing about change after change in its composition. The very division into a House of Lords and a House of Commons formed no part of the original plan of Edward the First; in the earlier Parliaments each of the four orders of clergy, barons, knights, and burgesses met, deliberated, and made their grants apart from each other. This isolation however of the Estates soon showed signs of breaking down. Though the clergy held steadily aloof from any real union with its fellow-orders, the knights of the shire were drawn by the similarity of their social position into a close connexion with the lords. They seem in fact to have been soon admitted by the baronage to an almost equal position with themselves, whether as legislators or counsellors of the Crown. The burgesses on the other hand took little part at first in Parliamentary proceedings, save in those which related to the taxation of their class. But their position was raised by the strifes of the reign of Edward the Second when their aid was needed by the baronage in its struggle with the Crown; and their right to share fully in all legislative action was asserted in the statute of 1322. From this moment no proceedings can have been considered as formally legislative save those conducted in full Parliament of all the estates. In subjects of public policy however the barons were still regarded as the sole advisers of the Crown, though the knights of the shire were sometimes consulted with them. But the barons and knighthood were not fated to be drawn into a single body whose weight would have given an aristocratic impress to the constitution. Gradually, through causes with which we are imperfectly acquainted, the knights of the shire drifted from their older connexion with the baronage into so close and intimate a union with the representatives of the towns that at the opening of the reign of Edward the Third the two orders are found grouped formally together, under the name of "The Commons." It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this change. Had Parliament remained broken up into its four orders of clergy, barons, knights, and citizens, its power would have been neutralized at every great crisis by the jealousies and difficulty of co-operation among its component parts. A permanent union of the knighthood and the baronage on the other hand would have converted Parliament into the mere representative of an aristocratic caste, and would have robbed it of the strength which it has drawn from its connexion with the great body of the commercial classes. The new attitude of the knighthood, their social connexion as landed gentry with the baronage, their political union with the burgesses, really welded the three orders into one, and gave that unity of feeling and action to our Parliament on which its power has ever since mainly depended.


Scotch War

The weight of the two Houses was seen in their settlement of the new government by the nomination of a Council with Earl Henry of Lancaster at its head. The Council had at once to meet fresh difficulties in the North. The truce so recently made ceased legally with Edward's deposition; and the withdrawal of his royal title in further offers of peace warned Bruce of the new temper of the English rulers. Troops gathered on either side, and the English Council sought to pave the way for an attack by dividing Scotland against itself. Edward Balliol, a son of the former king John, was solemnly received as a vassal-king of Scotland at the English court. Robert was disabled by leprosy from taking the field in person, but the insult roused him to hurl his marauders again over the border under Douglas and Sir Thomas Randolph. The Scotch army has been painted for us by an eye-witness whose description is embodied in the work of Jehan le Bel. "It consisted of four thousand men-at-arms, knights, and esquires, well mounted, besides twenty thousand men bold and hardy, armed after the manner of their country, and mounted upon little hackneys that are never tied up or dressed, but turned immediately after the day's march to pasture on the heath or in the fields.... They bring no carriages with them on account of the mountains they have to pass in Northumberland, neither do they carry with them any provisions of bread or wine, for their habits of sobriety are such in time of war that they will live for a long time on flesh half-sodden without bread, and drink the river water without wine. They have therefore no occasion for pots or pans, for they dress the flesh of the cattle in their skins after they have flayed them, and being sure to find plenty of them in the country which they invade they carry none with them. Under the flaps of his saddle each man carries a broad piece of metal, behind him a little bag of oatmeal: when they have eaten too much of the sodden flesh and their stomach appears weak and empty, they set this plate over the fire, knead the meal with water, and when the plate is hot put a little of the paste upon it in a thin cake like a biscuit, which they eat to warm their stomachs. It is therefore no wonder that they perform a longer day's march than other soldiers." Though twenty thousand horsemen and forty thousand foot marched under their boy-king to protect the border, the English troops were utterly helpless against such a foe as this. At one time the whole army lost its way in the border wastes: at another all traces of the enemy disappeared, and an offer of knighthood and a hundred marks was made to any who could tell where the Scots were encamped. But when they were found their position behind the Wear proved unassailable, and after a bold sally on the English camp Douglas foiled an attempt at intercepting him by a clever retreat. The English levies broke hopelessly up, and a fresh foray into Northumberland forced the English Court in 1328 to submit to peace. By the treaty of Northampton which was solemnly confirmed by Parliament in September the independence of Scotland was recognized, and Robert Bruce owned as its king. Edward formally abandoned his claim of feudal superiority over Scotland; while Bruce promised to make compensation for the damage done in the North, to marry his son David to Edward's sister Joan, and to restore their forfeited estates to those nobles who had sided with the English king.


Fall of Mortimer

But the pride of England had been too much roused by the struggle with the Scots to bear this defeat easily, and the first result of the treaty of Northampton was the overthrow of the government which concluded it. This result was hastened by the pride of Roger Mortimer, who was now created Earl of March, and who had made himself supreme through his influence over Isabella and his exclusion of the rest of the nobles from all practical share in the administration of the realm. The first efforts to shake Roger's power were unsuccessful. The Earl of Lancaster stood, like his brother, at the head of the baronage; the parliamentary settlement at Edward's accession had placed him first in the royal Council; and it was to him that the task of defying Mortimer naturally fell. At the close of 1328 therefore Earl Henry formed a league with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the young king's uncles, the Earls of Norfolk and Kent, to bring Mortimer to account for the peace with Scotland and the usurpation of the government as well as for the late king's murder, a murder which had been the work of his private partizans and which had profoundly shocked the general conscience. But the young king clave firmly to his mother, the Earls of Norfolk and Kent deserted to Mortimer, and powerful as it seemed the league broke up without result. A feeling of insecurity however spurred the Earl of March to a bold stroke at his opponents. The Earl of Kent, who was persuaded that his brother, Edward the Second, still lived a prisoner in Corfe Castle, was arrested on a charge of conspiracy to restore him to the throne, tried before a Parliament filled with Mortimer's adherents, and sent to the block. But the death of a prince of the royal blood roused the young king to resentment at the greed and arrogance of a minister who treated Edward himself as little more than a state-prisoner. A few months after his uncle's execution the king entered the Council chamber in Nottingham Castle with a force which he had introduced through a secret passage in the rock on which it stands, and arrested Mortimer with his own hands. A Parliament which was at once summoned condemned the Earl of March to a traitor's death, and in November 1330 he was beheaded at Tyburn, while the queen-mother was sent for the rest of her life into confinement at Castle Rising.


Edward and France

Young as he was, and he had only reached his eighteenth year, Edward at once assumed the control of affairs. His first care was to restore good order throughout the country, which under the late government had fallen into ruin, and to free his hands by a peace with France for further enterprises in the North. A formal peace had been concluded by Isabella after her husband's fall; but the death of Charles the Fourth soon brought about new jealousies between the two courts. The three sons of Philip the Fair had followed him on the throne in succession, but all had now died without male issue, and Isabella, as Philip's daughter, claimed the crown for her son. The claim in any case was a hard one to make out. Though her brothers had left no sons, they had left daughters, and if female succession were admitted these daughters of Philip's sons would precede a son of Philip's daughter. Isabella met this difficulty by a contention that though females could transmit the right of succession they could not themselves possess it, and that her son, as the nearest living male descendant of Philip the Fair, and born in the lifetime of the king from whom he claimed, could claim in preference to females who were related to Philip in as near a degree. But the bulk of French jurists asserted that only male succession gave right to the French throne. On such a theory the right inheritable from Philip the Fair was exhausted; and the crown passed to the son of Philip's younger brother, Charles of Valois, who in fact peacefully mounted the throne as Philip the Sixth. Purely formal as the claim which Isabella advanced seems to have been, it revived the irritation between the two courts, and though Edward's obedience to a summons which Philip addressed to him to do homage for Aquitaine brought about an agreement that both parties should restore the gains they had made since the last treaty the agreement was never carried out. Fresh threats of war ended in the conclusion of a new treaty of peace, but the question whether liege or simple homage was due for the duchies remained unsettled when the fall of Mortimer gave the young king full mastery of affairs. His action was rapid and decisive. Clad as a merchant, and with but fifteen horsemen at his back, Edward suddenly made his appearance in 1331 at the French court and did homage as fully as Philip required. The question of the Agénois remained unsettled, though the English Parliament insisted that its decision should rest with negotiation and not with war, but on all other points a complete peace was made; and the young king rode back with his hands free for an attack which he was planning on the North.


New Scotch War

The provisions of the Treaty of Northampton for the restitution of estates had never been fully carried out. Till this was done the English court held that the rights of feudal superiority over Scotland which it had yielded in the treaty remained in force; and at this moment an opening seemed to present itself for again asserting these rights with success. Fortune seemed at last to have veered to the English side. The death of Robert Bruce only a year after the Treaty of Northampton left the Scottish throne to his son David, a child of but eight years old. The death of the king was followed by the loss of Randolph and Douglas; and the internal difficulties of the realm broke out in civil strife. To the great barons on either side the border the late peace involved serious losses, for many of the Scotch houses held large estates in England as many of the English lords held large estates in Scotland, and although the treaty had provided for their claims they had in each case been practically set aside. It is this discontent of the barons at the new settlement which explains the sudden success of Edward Balliol in a snatch which he made at the Scottish throne. Balliol's design was known at the English court, where he had found shelter for some years; and Edward, whether sincerely or no, forbade his barons from joining him and posted troops on the border to hinder his crossing it. But Balliol found little difficulty in making his attack by sea. He sailed from England at the head of a body of nobles who claimed estates in the North, landed in August 1332 on the shores of Fife, and after repulsing with immense loss an army which attacked him near Perth was crowned at Scone two months after his landing, while David Bruce fled helplessly to France. Edward had given no open aid to this enterprise, but the crisis tempted his ambition, and he demanded and obtained from Balliol an acknowledgement of the English suzerainty. The acknowledgement however was fatal to Balliol himself. Surprised at Annan by a party of Scottish nobles, their sudden attack drove him in December over the border after a reign of but five months; and Berwick, which he had agreed to surrender to Edward, was strongly garrisoned against an English attack. The sudden breakdown of his vassal-king left Edward face to face with a new Scotch war. The Parliament which he summoned to advise on the enforcement of his claim showed no wish to plunge again into the contest and met him only with evasions and delays. But Edward had gone too far to withdraw. In March 1333 he appeared before Berwick, and besieged the town. A Scotch army under the regent, Sir Archibald Douglas, brother to the famous Sir James, advanced to its relief in July and attacked a covering force which was encamped on the strong position of Halidon Hill. The English bowmen however vindicated the fame they had first won at Falkirk and were soon to crown in the victory of Crécy. The Scotch only struggled through the marsh which covered the English front to be riddled with a storm of arrows and to break in utter rout. The battle decided the fate of Berwick. From that time the town has remained English territory. It was in fact the one part of Edward's conquests which was preserved in the end by the English crown. But fragment as it was, it was always viewed legally as representing the realm of which it once formed a part. As Scotland, it had its chancellor, chamberlain, and other officers of State: and the peculiar heading of Acts of Parliament enacted for England "and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed" still preserves the memory of its peculiar position. But the victory did more than give Berwick to England. The defeat of Douglas was followed by the submission of a large part of the Scotch nobles, by the flight of the boy-king David, and by the return of Balliol unopposed to the throne. Edward exacted a heavy price for his aid. All Scotland south of the Firth of Forth was ceded to England, and Balliol did homage as vassal-king for the rest.


Scotland freed

It was at the moment of this submission that the young king reached the climax of his success. A king at fourteen, a father at seventeen, he had carried out at eighteen a political revolution in the overthrow of Mortimer, and restored at twenty-two the ruined work of his grandfather. The northern frontier was carried to its old line under the Northumbrian kings. His kingdom within was peaceful and orderly; and the strife with France seemed at an end. During the next three years Edward persisted in the line of policy he had adopted, retaining his hold over Southern Scotland, aiding his sub-king Balliol in campaign after campaign against the despairing efforts of the nobles who still adhered to the house of Bruce, a party who were now headed by Robert the Steward of Scotland and by Earl Randolph of Moray. His perseverance was all but crowned with success, when Scotland was again saved by the intervention of France. The successes of Edward roused anew the jealousy of the French court. David Bruce found a refuge with Philip; French ships appeared off the Scotch coast and brought aid to the patriot nobles; and the old legal questions about the Agénois and Aquitaine were mooted afresh by the French council. For a time Edward staved off the contest by repeated embassies; but his refusal to accept Philip as a mediator between England and the Scots stirred France to threats of war. In 1335 fleets gathered on its coast; descents were made on the English shores; and troops and galleys were hired in Italy and the north for an invasion of England. The mere threat of war saved Scotland. Edward's forces there were drawn to the south to meet the looked-for attack from across the Channel; and the patriot party freed from their pressure at once drew together again. The actual declaration of war against France at the close of 1337 was the knell of Balliol's greatness; he found himself without an adherent and withdrew two years later to the court of Edward, while David returned to his kingdom in 1342 and won back the chief fastnesses of the Lowlands. From that moment the freedom of Scotland was secured. From a war of conquest and patriotic resistance the struggle died into a petty strife between two angry neighbours, which became a mere episode in the larger contest which it had stirred between England and France.


The Hundred Years War

Whether in its national or in its European bearings it is difficult to overestimate the importance of the contest which was now to open between these two nations. To England it brought a social, a religious, and in the end a political revolution. The Peasant Revolt, Lollardry, and the New Monarchy were direct issues of the Hundred Years War. With it began the military renown of England; with it opened her struggle for the mastery of the seas. The pride begotten by great victories and a sudden revelation of warlike prowess roused the country not only to a new ambition, a new resolve to assert itself as a European power, but to a repudiation of the claims of the Papacy and an assertion of the ecclesiastical independence both of Church and Crown which paved the way for and gave its ultimate form to the English Reformation. The peculiar shape which English warfare assumed, the triumph of the yeoman and archer over noble and knight, gave new force to the political advance of the Commons. On the other hand the misery of the war produced the first great open feud between labour and capital. The glory of Crécy or Poitiers was dearly bought by the upgrowth of English pauperism. The warlike temper nursed on foreign fields begot at home a new turbulence and scorn of law, woke a new feudal spirit in the baronage, and sowed in the revolution which placed a new house on the throne the seeds of that fatal strife over the succession which troubled England to the days of Elizabeth. Nor was the contest of less import in the history of France. If it struck her for the moment from her height of pride, it raised her in the end to the front rank among the states of Europe. It carried her boundaries to the Rhone and the Pyrenees. It wrecked alike the feudal power of her noblesse and the hopes of constitutional liberty which might have sprung from the emancipation of the peasant or the action of the burgher. It founded a royal despotism which reached its height in Richelieu and finally plunged France into the gulf of the Revolution.


The Imperial Alliance

Of these mighty issues little could be foreseen at the moment when Philip and Edward declared war. But from the very first the war took European dimensions. The young king saw clearly the greater strength of France. The weakness of the Empire, the captivity of the Papacy at Avignon, left her without a rival among European powers. The French chivalry was the envy of the world, and its military fame had just been heightened by a victory over the Flemish communes at Cassel. In numbers, in wealth, the French people far surpassed their neighbours over the Channel. England can hardly have counted more than four millions of inhabitants, France boasted of twenty. The clinging of our kings to their foreign dominions is explained by the fact that their subjects in Gascony, Aquitaine, and Poitou must have equalled in number their subjects in England. There was the same disproportion in the wealth of the two countries and, as men held then, in their military resources. Edward could bring only eight thousand men-at-arms to the field. Philip, while a third of his force was busy elsewhere, could appear at the head of forty thousand. Of the revolution in warfare which was to reverse this superiority, to make the footman rather than the horseman the strength of an army, the world and even the English king, in spite of Falkirk and Halidon, as yet recked little. Edward's whole energy was bent on meeting the strength of France by a coalition of powers against her, and his plans were helped by the dread which the great feudatories of the empire who lay nearest to him, the Duke of Brabant, the Counts of Hainault and Gelders, the Markgrave of Juliers, felt of French annexation. They listened willingly enough to his offers. Sixty thousand crowns purchased the alliance of Brabant. Lesser subsidies bought that of the two counts and the Markgrave. The king's work was helped indeed by his domestic relations. The Count of Hainault was Edward's father-in-law; he was also the father-in-law of the Count of Gelders. But the marriage of a third of the Count's daughters brought the English king a more important ally. She was wedded to the Emperor, Lewis of Bavaria, and the connexion that thus existed between the English and Imperial Courts facilitated the negotiations which ended in a formal alliance.


Its Relation to the Papacy

But the league had a more solid ground. The Emperor, like Edward, had his strife with France. His strife sprang from the new position of the Papacy. The removal of the Popes to Avignon which followed on the quarrel of Boniface the Eighth with Philip le Bel and the subjection to the French court which resulted from it affected the whole state of European politics. In the ever-recurring contest between the Papacy and the Empire France had of old been the lieutenant of the Roman See. But with the settlement at Avignon the relation changed, and the Pope became the lieutenant of France. Instead of the Papacy using the French kings in its war of ideas against the Empire the French kings used the Papacy as an instrument in their political rivalry with the Emperors. But if the position of the Pope drew Lewis to the side of England, it had much to do with drawing Edward to the side of Lewis. It was this that made the alliance, fruitless as it proved in a military sense, so memorable in its religious results. Hitherto England had been mainly on the side of the Popes in their strife against the Emperors. Now that the Pope had become a tool in the hands of a power which was to be its great enemy, the country was driven to close alliances with the Empire and to an evergrowing alienation from the Roman See. In Scotch affairs the hostility of the Popes had been steady and vexatious ever since Edward the First's time, and from the moment that this fresh struggle commenced they again showed their French partizanship. When Lewis made a last appeal for peace, Philip of Valois made Benedict XII. lay down as a condition that the Emperor should form no alliance with an enemy of France. The quarrel of both England and Germany with the Papacy at once grew ripe. The German Diet met to declare that the Imperial power came from God alone, and that the choice of an Emperor needed no Papal confirmation, while Benedict replied by a formal excommunication of Lewis. England on the other hand entered on a religious revolution when she stood hand in hand with an excommunicated power. It was significant that though worship ceased in Flanders on the Pope's interdict, the English priests who were brought over set the interdict at nought.


Failure of the Alliance

The negotiation of this alliance occupied the whole of 1337; it ended in a promise of the Emperor on payment of 3000 gold florins to furnish two thousand men-at-arms. In the opening of 1338 an attack of Philip on the Agénois forced Edward into open war. His profuse expenditure however brought little fruit. Though Edward crossed to Antwerp in the summer, the year was spent in negotiations with the princes of the Lower Rhine and in an interview with the Emperor at Coblentz, where Lewis appointed him Vicar-General of the Emperor for all territories on the left bank of the Rhine. The occupation of Cambray, an Imperial fief, by the French king gave a formal ground for calling the princes of this district to Edward's standard. But already the great alliance showed signs of yielding. Edward, uneasy at his connexion with an Emperor under the ban of the Church and harassed by vehement remonstrances from the Pope, entered again into negotiations with France in the winter of 1338; and Lewis, alarmed in his turn, listened to fresh overtures from Benedict, who held out vague hopes of reconciliation while he threatened a renewed excommunication if Lewis persisted in invading France. The non-arrival of the English subsidy decided the Emperor to take no personal part in the war, and the attitude of Lewis told on the temper of Edward's German allies. Though all joined him in the summer of 1339 on his formal summons of them as Vicar-General of the Empire, and his army when it appeared before Cambray numbered forty thousand men, their ardour cooled as the town held out. Philip approached it from the south, and on Edward's announcing his resolve to cross the river and attack him he was at once deserted by the two border princes who had most to lose from a contest with France, the Counts of Hainault and Namur. But the king was still full of hope. He pushed forward to the country round St. Quentin between the head waters of the Somme and the Oise with the purpose of forcing a decisive engagement. But he found Philip strongly encamped, and declaring their supplies exhausted his allies at once called for a retreat. It was in vain that Edward moved slowly for a week along the French border. Philip's position was too strongly guarded by marshes and entrenchments to be attacked, and at last the allies would stay no longer. At the news that the French king had withdrawn to the south the whole army in turn fell back upon Brussels.


England and the Papacy

The failure of the campaign dispelled the hopes which Edward had drawn from his alliance with the Empire. With the exhaustion of his subsidies the princes of the Low Countries became inactive. The Duke of Brabant became cooler in his friendship. The Emperor himself, still looking to an accommodation with the Pope and justly jealous of Edward's own intrigues at Avignon, wavered and at last fell away. But though the alliance ended in disappointment it had given a new impulse to the grudge against the Papacy which began with its extortions in the reign of Henry the Third. The hold of Rome on the loyalty of England was sensibly weakening. Their transfer from the Eternal City to Avignon robbed the Popes of half the awe which they had inspired among Englishmen. Not only did it bring them nearer and more into the light of common day, but it dwarfed them into mere agents of French policy. The old bitterness at their exactions was revived by the greed to which they were driven through their costly efforts to impose a French and Papal Emperor on Germany as well as to secure themselves in their new capital on the Rhone. The mighty building, half fortress, half palace, which still awes the traveller at Avignon has played its part in our history. Its erection was to the rise of Lollardry what the erection of St. Peter's was to the rise of Lutheranism. Its massive walls, its stately chapel, its chambers glowing with the frescoes of Simone Memmi, the garden which covered its roof with a strange verdure, called year by year for fresh supplies of gold; and for this as for the wider and costlier schemes of Papal policy gold could be got only by pressing harder and harder on the national churches the worst claims of the Papal court, by demands of first-fruits and annates from rectory and bishoprick, by pretensions to the right of bestowing all benefices which were in ecclesiastical patronage and by the sale of these presentations, by the direct taxation of the clergy, by the intrusion of foreign priests into English livings, by opening a mart for the disposal of pardons, dispensations, and indulgences, and by encouraging appeals from every ecclesiastical jurisdiction to the Papal court. No grievance was more bitterly felt than this grievance of appeals. Cases of the most trifling importance were called for decision out of the realm to a tribunal whose delays were proverbial and whose fees were enormous. The envoy of an Oxford College which sought only a formal licence to turn a vicarage into a rectory had not only to bear the expense and toil of a journey which then occupied some eighteen days but was kept dangling at Avignon for three-and-twenty weeks. Humiliating and vexatious however as these appeals were, they were but one among the means of extortion which the Papal court multiplied as its needs grew greater. The protest of a later Parliament, exaggerated as its statements no doubt are, shows the extent of the national irritation, if not of the grievances which produced it. It asserted that the taxes levied by the Pope amounted to five times the amount of those levied by the king; that by reservations during the life of actual holders the Pope disposed of the same bishoprick four or five times over, receiving each time the first-fruits. "The brokers of the sinful city of Rome promote for money unlearned and unworthy caitiffs to benefices to the value of a thousand marks, while the poor and learned hardly obtain one of twenty. So decays sound learning. They present aliens who neither see nor care to see their parishioners, despise God's services, convey away the treasure of the realm, and are worse than Jews or Saracens. The Pope's revenue from England alone is larger than that of any prince in Christendom. God gave his sheep to be pastured, not to be shaven and shorn." At the close of this reign indeed the deaneries of Lichfield, Salisbury, and York, the archdeaconry of Canterbury, which was reputed the wealthiest English benefice, together with a host of prebends and preferments, were held by Italian cardinals and priests, while the Pope's collector from his office in London sent twenty thousand marks a year to the Papal treasury.


Protest of the Parliament

But the greed of the Popes was no new grievance, though the increase of these exactions since the removal to Avignon gave it a new force. What alienated England most was their connexion with and dependence on France. From the first outset of the troubles in the North their attitude had been one of hostility to the English projects. France was too useful a supporter of the Papal court to find much difficulty in inducing it to aid in hampering the growth of English greatness. Boniface the Eighth released Balliol from his oath of fealty, and forbade Edward to attack Scotland on the ground that it was a fief of the Roman See. His intervention was met by a solemn and emphatic protest from the English Parliament; but it none the less formed a terrible obstacle in Edward's way. The obstacle was at last removed by the quarrel of Boniface with Philip the Fair; but the end of this quarrel only threw the Papacy more completely into the hands of France. Though Avignon remained imperial soil, the removal of the Popes to this city on the verge of their dominions made them mere tools of the French kings. Much no doubt of the endless negotiation which the Papal court carried on with Edward the Third in his strife with Philip of Valois was an honest struggle for peace. But to England it seemed the mere interference of a dependant on behalf of "our enemy of France." The people scorned a "French Pope," and threatened Papal legates with stoning when they landed on English shores. The alliance of Edward with an excommunicated Emperor, the bold defiance with which English priests said mass in Flanders when an interdict reduced the Flemish priests to silence, were significant tokens of the new attitude which England was taking up in the face of Popes who were leagued with its enemy. The old quarrel over ecclesiastical wrongs was renewed in a formal and decisive way. In 1343 the Commons petitioned for the redress of the grievance of Papal appointments to vacant livings in despite of the rights of patrons or the Crown; and Edward formally complained to the Pope of his appointing "foreigners, most of them suspicious persons, who do not reside on their benefices, who do not know the faces of the flocks entrusted to them, who do not understand their language, but, neglecting the cure of souls, seek as hirelings only their worldly hire." In yet sharper words the king rebuked the Papal greed. "The successor of the Apostles was set over the Lord's sheep to feed and not to shear them." The Parliament declared "that they neither could nor would tolerate such things any longer"; and the general irritation moved slowly towards those statutes of Provisors and Praemunire which heralded the policy of Henry the Eighth.



But for the moment the strife with the Papacy was set aside in the efforts which were needed for a new struggle with France. The campaign of 1339 had not only ended in failure, it had dispelled the trust of Edward in an Imperial alliance. But as this hope faded away a fresh hope dawned on the king from another quarter. Flanders, still bleeding from the defeat of its burghers by the French knighthood, was his natural ally. England was the great wool-producing country of the west, but few woollen fabrics were woven in England. The number of weavers' gilds shows that the trade was gradually extending, and at the very outset of his reign Edward had taken steps for its encouragement. He invited Flemish weavers to settle in his country, and took the new immigrants, who chose the eastern counties for the seat of their trade, under his royal protection. But English manufactures were still in their infancy and nine-tenths of the English wool went to the looms of Bruges or of Ghent. We may see the rapid growth of this export trade in the fact that the king received in a single year more than £30,000 from duties levied on wool alone. The woolsack which forms the Chancellor's seat in the House of Lords is said to witness to the importance which the government attached to this new source of wealth. A stoppage of this export threw half the population of the great Flemish towns out of work, and the irritation caused in Flanders by the interruption which this trade sustained through the piracies that Philip's ships were carrying on in the Channel showed how effective the threat of such a stoppage would be in securing their alliance. Nor was this the only ground for hoping for aid from the Flemish towns. Their democratic spirit jostled roughly with the feudalism of France. If their counts clung to the French monarchy, the towns themselves, proud of their immense population, their thriving industry, their vast wealth, drew more and more to independence. Jacques van Arteveldt, a great brewer of Ghent, wielded the chief influence in their councils, and his aim was to build up a confederacy which might hold France in check along her northern border.


The Flemish Alliance

His plans had as yet brought no help from the Flemish towns, but at the close of 1339 they set aside their neutrality for open aid. The great plan of Federation which Van Arteveldt had been devising as a check on the aggression of France was carried out in a treaty concluded between Edward, the Duke of Brabant, the cities of Brussels, Antwerp, Louvain, Ghent, Bruges, Ypres, and seven others. By this remarkable treaty it was provided that war should be begun and ended only by mutual consent, free commerce be encouraged between Flanders and Brabant, and no change made in their commercial arrangements save with the consent of the whole league. By a subsequent treaty the Flemish towns owned Edward as King of France, and declared war against Philip of Valois. But their voice was decisive on the course of the campaign which opened in 1340. As Philip held the Upper Scheldt by the occupation of Cambray, so he held the Lower Scheldt by that of Tournay, a fortress which broke the line of commerce between Flanders and Brabant. It was a condition of the Flemish alliance therefore that the war should open with the capture of Tournay. It was only at the cost of a fight however that Edward could now cross the Channel to undertake the siege. France was as superior in force at sea as on land; and a fleet of two hundred vessels gathered at Sluys to intercept him. But the fine seamanship of the English sailors justified the courage of their king in attacking this fleet with far smaller forces; the French ships were utterly destroyed and twenty thousand Frenchmen slain in the encounter. It was with the lustre of this great victory about him that Edward marched upon Tournay. Its siege however proved as fruitless as that of Cambray in the preceding year, and after two months of investment his vast army of one hundred thousand men broke up without either capturing the town or bringing Philip when he approached it to an engagement. Want of money forced Edward to a truce for a year, and he returned beggared and embittered to England.


Edward's distress

He had been worsted in war as in diplomacy. One naval victory alone redeemed years of failure and expense. Guienne was all but lost, England was suffering from the terrible taxation, from the ruin of commerce, from the ravages of her coast. Five years of constant reverses were hard blows for a king of twenty-eight who had been glorious and successful at twenty-three. His financial difficulties indeed were enormous. It was in vain that, availing himself of an Act which forbade the exportation of wool "till by the King and his Council it is otherwise provided," he turned for the time the wool-trade into a royal monopoly and became the sole wool exporter, buying at £3 and selling at £20 the sack. The campaign of 1339 brought with it a crushing debt: that of 1340 proved yet more costly. Edward attributed his failure to the slackness of his ministers in sending money and supplies, and this to their silent opposition to the war. But wroth as he was on his return, a short struggle between the ministers and the king ended in a reconciliation, and preparations for renewed hostilities went on. Abroad indeed nothing could be done. The Emperor finally withdrew from Edward's friendship. A new Pope, Clement the Sixth, proved even more French in sentiment than his predecessor. Flanders alone held true of all England's foreign allies. Edward was powerless to attack Philip in the realm he claimed for his own; what strength he could gather was needed to prevent the utter ruin of the English cause in Scotland on the return of David Bruce. Edward's soldiers had been driven from the open country and confined to the fortresses of the Lowlands. Even these were at last reft away. Perth was taken by siege, and the king was too late to prevent the surrender of Stirling. Edinburgh was captured by a stratagem. Only Roxburgh and Berwick were saved by a truce which Edward was driven to conclude with the Scots.


Progress of Parliament

But with the difficulties of the Crown the weight of the two Houses made itself more and more sensibly felt. The almost incessant warfare which had gone on since the accession of Edward the Third consolidated and developed the power which they had gained from the dissensions of his father's reign. The need of continual grants brought about an assembly of Parliament year by year, and the subsidies that were accorded to the king showed the potency of the financial engine which the Crown could now bring into play. In a single year the Parliament granted twenty thousand sacks, or half the wool of the realm. Two years later the Commons voted an aid of thirty thousand sacks. In 1339 the barons granted the tenth sheep and fleece and lamb. The clergy granted two tenths in one year, and a tenth for three years in the next. But with each supply some step was made to greater political influence. In his earlier years Edward showed no jealousy of the Parliament. His policy was to make the struggle with France a national one by winning for it the sympathy of the people at large; and with this view he not only published in the County Courts the efforts he had made for peace, but appealed again and again for the sanction and advice of Parliament in his enterprise. In 1331 he asked the Estates whether they would prefer negotiation or war: in 1338 he declared that his expedition to Flanders was made by the assent of the Lords and at the prayer of the Commons. The part of the last in public affairs grew greater in spite of their own efforts to remain obscure. From the opening of the reign a crowd of enactments for the regulation of trade, whether wise or unwise, shows the influence of the burgesses. But the final division of Parliament into two Houses, a change which was completed by 1341, necessarily increased the weight of the Commons. The humble trader who shrank from counselling the Crown in great matters of policy gathered courage as he found himself sitting side by side with the knights of the shire. It was at the moment when this great change was being brought about that the disasters of the war spurred the Parliament to greater activity. The enormous grants of 1340 were bought by the king's assent to statutes which provided remedies for grievances of which the Commons complained. The most important of these put an end to the attempts which Edward had made like his grandfather to deal with the merchant class apart from the Houses. No charge or aid was henceforth to be made save by the common assent of the Estates assembled in Parliament. The progress of the next year was yet more important. The strife of the king with his ministers, the foremost of whom was Archbishop Stratford, ended in the Primate's refusal to make answer to the royal charges save in full Parliament, and in the assent of the king to a resolution of the Lords that none of their number, whether ministers of the Crown or no, should be brought to trial elsewhere than before his peers. The Commons demanded and obtained the appointment of commissioners elected in Parliament to audit the grants already made. Finally it was enacted that at each Parliament the ministers should hold themselves accountable for all grievances; that on any vacancy the king should take counsel with his lords as to the choice of the new minister; and that, when chosen, each minister should be sworn in Parliament.


Close of the truce

At the moment which we have reached therefore the position of the Parliament had become far more important than at Edward's accession. Its form was settled. The third estate had gained a fuller parliamentary power. The principle of ministerial responsibility to the Houses had been established by formal statute. But the jealousy of Edward was at last completely roused, and from this moment he looked on the new power as a rival to his own. The Parliament of 1341 had no sooner broken up than he revoked by Letters Patent the statutes it had passed as done in prejudice of his prerogative and only assented to for the time to prevent worse confusion. The regular assembly of the estates was suddenly interrupted, and two years passed without a Parliament. It was only the continual presence of war which from this time drove Edward to summon the Houses at all. Though the truce still held good between England and France a quarrel of succession to the Duchy of Britanny which broke out in 1341 and called Philip to the support of one claimant, his cousin Charles of Blois, and Edward to the support of a rival claimant, John of Montfort, dragged on year after year. In Flanders things went ill for the English cause. The dissensions between the great and the smaller towns, and in the greater towns themselves between the weavers and fullers, dissensions which had taxed the genius of Van Arteveldt through the nine years of his wonderful rule, broke out in 1345 into a revolt at Ghent in which the great statesman was slain. With him fell a design for the deposition of the Count of Flanders and the reception of the Prince of Wales in his stead which he was ardently pressing, and whose political results might have been immense. Deputies were at once sent to England to excuse Van Arteveldt's murder and to promise loyalty to Edward; but the king's difficulties had now reached their height. His loans from the Florentine bankers amounted to half a million. His claim on the French crown found not a single adherent save among the burghers of the Flemish towns. The overtures which he made for peace were contemptuously rejected, and the expiration of the truce in 1345 found him again face to face with France.


Edward marches on Paris

But it was perhaps this breakdown of all foreign hope that contributed to Edward's success in the fresh outbreak of war. The war opened in Guienne, and Henry of Lancaster, who was now known as the Earl of Derby, and who with the Hainaulter Sir Walter Maunay took the command in that quarter, at once showed the abilities of a great general. The course of the Garonne was cleared by his capture of La Réole and Aiguillon, that of the Dordogne by the reduction of Bergerac, and a way opened for the reconquest of Poitou by the capture of Angoulême. These unexpected successes roused Philip to strenuous efforts, and a hundred thousand men gathered under his son, John, Duke of Normandy, for the subjugation of the South. Angoulême was won back, and Aiguillon besieged when Edward sailed to the aid of his hard-pressed lieutenant. It was with an army of thirty thousand men, half English, half Irish and Welsh, that he commenced a march which was to change the whole face of the war. His aim was simple. Flanders was still true to Edward's cause, and while Derby was pressing on in the south a Flemish army besieged Bouvines and threatened France from the north. The king had at first proposed to land in Guienne and relieve the forces in the south; but suddenly changing his design he disembarked at La Hogue and advanced through Normandy. By this skilful movement Edward not only relieved Derby but threatened Paris, and left himself able to co-operate with either his own army in the south or the Flemings in the north. Normandy was totally without defence, and after the sack of Caen, which was then one of the wealthiest towns in France, Edward marched upon the Seine. His march threatened Rouen and Paris, and its strategical value was seen by the sudden panic of the French king. Philip was wholly taken by surprise. He attempted to arrest Edward's march by an offer to restore the Duchy of Aquitaine as Edward the Second had held it, but the offer was fruitless. Philip was forced to call his son to the rescue. John at once raised the siege of Aiguillon, and the French army moved rapidly to the north, its withdrawal enabling Derby to capture Poitiers and make himself thorough master of the south. But John was too distant from Paris for his forces to avail Philip in his emergency, for Edward, finding the bridges on the Lower Seine broken, pushed straight on Paris, rebuilt the bridge of Poissy, and threatened the capital.



At this crisis however France found an unexpected help in a body of German knights. The long strife between Lewis of Bavaria and the Papacy had ended at last in Clement's carrying out his sentence of deposition by the nomination and coronation as emperor of Charles of Luxemburg, a son of King John of Bohemia, the well-known Charles IV. of the Golden Bull. But against this Papal assumption of a right to bestow the German Crown Germany rose as one man. Not a town opened its gates to the Papal claimant, and driven to seek help and refuge from Philip of Valois he found himself at this moment on the eastern frontier of France with his father and 500 knights. Hurrying to Paris this German force formed the nucleus of an army which assembled at St. Denys; and which was soon reinforced by 15,000 Genoese cross-bowmen who had been hired from among the soldiers of the Lord of Monaco on the sunny Riviera and arrived at this hour of need. With this host rapidly gathering in his front Edward abandoned his march on Paris, which had already served its purpose in relieving Derby, and threw himself across the Seine to carry out the second part of his programme by a junction with the Flemings at Gravelines and a campaign in the north. But the rivers in his path were carefully guarded, and it was only by surprising the ford of Blanche-Taque on the Somme that the king escaped the necessity of surrendering to the vast host which was now hastening in pursuit. His communications however were no sooner secured than he halted on the twenty-sixth of August at the little village of Crécy in Ponthieu and resolved to give battle. Half of his army, which had been greatly reduced in strength by his rapid marches, consisted of light-armed footmen from Ireland and Wales; the bulk of the remainder was composed of English bowmen. The king ordered his men-at-arms to dismount, and drew up his forces on a low rise sloping gently to the south-east, with a deep ditch covering its front, and its flanks protected by woods and a little brook. From a windmill on the summit of this rise Edward could overlook the whole field of battle. Immediately beneath him lay his reserve, while at the base of the slope was placed the main body of the army in two divisions, that to the right commanded by the young Prince of Wales, Edward "the Black Prince," as he was called, that to the left by the Earl of Northampton. A small ditch protected the English front, and behind it the bowmen were drawn up "in the form of a harrow" with small bombards between them "which with fire threw little iron balls to frighten the horses," the first instance known of the use of artillery in field-warfare.

The halt of the English army took Philip by surprise, and he attempted for a time to check the advance of his army. But the attempt was fruitless and the disorderly host rolled on to the English front. The sight of his enemies indeed stirred Philip's own blood to fury, "for he hated them." The fight began at vespers. The Genoese cross-bowmen were ordered to open the attack, but the men were weary with their march, a sudden storm wetted and rendered useless their bowstrings, and the loud shouts with which they leapt forward to the encounter were met with dogged silence in the English ranks. Their first arrow-flight however brought a terrible reply. So rapid was the English shot "that it seemed as if it snowed." "Kill me these scoundrels," shouted Philip, as the Genoese fell back; and his men-at-arms plunged butchering into their broken ranks while the Counts of Aleniçon and Flanders at the head of the French knighthood fell hotly on the Prince's line. For an instant his small force seemed lost, and he called his father to support him. But Edward refused to send him aid. "Is he dead, or unhorsed, or so wounded that he cannot help himself?" he asked the envoy. "No, sir," was the reply, "but he is in a hard passage of arms, and sorely needs your help." "Return to those that sent you," said the king, "and bid them not send to me again so long as my son lives! Let the boy win his spurs, for, if God so order it, I will that the day may be his and that the honour may be with him and them to whom I have given it in charge." Edward could see in fact from his higher ground that all went well. The English bowmen and men-at-arms held their ground stoutly while the Welshmen stabbed the French horses in the melly and brought knight after knight to the ground. Soon the French host was wavering in a fatal confusion. "You are my vassals, my friends," cried the blind John of Bohemia to the German nobles around him, "I pray and beseech you to lead me so far into the fight that I may strike one good blow with this sword of mine!" Linking their bridles together, the little company plunged into the thick of the combat to fall as their fellows were falling. The battle went steadily against the French. At last Philip himself hurried from the field, and the defeat became a rout. Twelve hundred knights and thirty thousand foot-men--a number equal to the whole English force--lay dead upon the ground.


The Yeoman

"God has punished us for our sins," cries the chronicler of St. Denys in a passion of bewildered grief as he tells the rout of the great host which he had seen mustering beneath his abbey walls. But the fall of France was hardly so sudden or so incomprehensible as the ruin at a single blow of a system of warfare, and with it of the political and social fabric which had risen out of that system. Feudalism rested on the superiority of the horseman to the footman, of the mounted noble to the unmounted churl. The real fighting power of a feudal army lay in its knighthood, in the baronage and landowners who took the field, each with his group of esquires and mounted men-at-arms. A host of footmen followed them, but they were ill armed, ill disciplined, and seldom called on to play any decisive part on the actual battle-field. In France, and especially at the moment we have reached, the contrast between the efficiency of these two elements of warfare was more striking than elsewhere. Nowhere was the chivalry so splendid, nowhere was the general misery and oppression of the poor more terribly expressed in the worthlessness of the mob of footmen who were driven by their lords to the camp. In England, on the other hand, the failure of feudalism to win a complete hold on the country was seen in the persistence of the older national institutions which based its defence on the general levy of its freemen. If the foreign kings added to this a system of warlike organization grounded on the service due from its military tenants to the Crown, they were far from regarding this as superseding the national "fyrd." The Assize of Arms, the Statute of Winchester, show with what care the fyrd was held in a state of efficiency. Its force indeed as an engine of war was fast rising between the age of Henry the Second and that of Edward the Third. The social changes on which we have already dwelt, the facilities given to alienation and the subdivision of lands, the transition of the serf into a copyholder and of the copyholder by redemption of his services into a freeholder, the rise of a new class of "farmers" as the lords ceased to till their demesne by means of bailiffs and adopted the practice of leasing it at a rent or "farm" to one of the customary tenants, the general increase of wealth which was telling on the social position even of those who still remained in villenage, undid more and more the earlier process which had degraded the free ceorl of the English Conquest into the villein of the Norman Conquest, and covered the land with a population of yeomen, some freeholders, some with services that every day became less weighty and already left them virtually free.


The Bow

Such men, proud of their right to justice and an equal law, called by attendance in the county court to a share in the judicial, the financial, and the political life of the realm, were of a temper to make soldiers of a different sort from the wretched serfs who followed the feudal lords of the Continent; and they were equipped with a weapon which as they wielded it was enough of itself to make a revolution in the art of war. The bow, identified as it became with English warfare, was the weapon not of Englishmen but of their Norman conquerors. It was the Norman arrow-flight that decided the day of Senlac. But in the organization of the national army it had been assigned as the weapon of the poorer freeholders who were liable to serve at the king's summons; and we see how closely it had become associated with them in the picture of Chaucer's yeoman. "In his hand he bore a mighty bow." Its might lay not only in the range of the heavy war-shaft, a range we are told of four hundred yards, but in its force. The English archer, taught from very childhood "how to draw, how to lay his body to the bow," his skill quickened by incessant practice and constant rivalry with his fellows, raised the bow into a terrible engine of war. Thrown out along the front in a loose order that alone showed their vigour and self-dependence, the bowmen faced and riddled the splendid line of knighthood as it charged upon them. The galled horses "reeled right rudely." Their riders found even the steel of Milan a poor defence against the grey-goose shaft. Gradually the bow dictated the very tactics of an English battle. If the mass of cavalry still plunged forward, the screen of archers broke to right and left and the men-at-arms who lay in reserve behind them made short work of the broken and disordered horsemen, while the light troops from Wales and Ireland flinging themselves into the melly with their long knives and darts brought steed after steed to the ground. It was this new military engine that Edward the Third carried to the fields of France. His armies were practically bodies of hired soldiery, for the short period of feudal service was insufficient for foreign campaigns, and yeoman and baron were alike drawn by a high rate of pay. An archer's daily wages equalled some five shillings of our present money. Such payment when coupled with the hope of plunder was enough to draw yeomen from thorpe and farm; and though the royal treasury was drained as it had never been drained before the English king saw himself after the day of Crécy the master of a force without rival in the stress of war.


Siege of Calais

To England her success was the beginning of a career of military glory, which fatal as it was destined to prove to the higher sentiments and interests of the nation gave it a warlike energy such as it had never known before. Victory followed victory. A few months after Crécy a Scotch army marched over the border and faced on the seventeenth of October an English force at Neville's Cross. But it was soon broken by the arrow-flight of the English archers, and the Scotch king David Bruce was taken prisoner. The withdrawal of the French from the Garonne enabled Henry of Derby to recover Poitou. Edward meanwhile with a decision which marks his military capacity marched from the field of Crécy to form the siege of Calais. No measure could have been more popular with the English merchant class, for Calais was a great pirate-haven and in a single year twenty-two privateers from its port had swept the Channel. But Edward was guided by weightier considerations than this. In spite of his victory at Sluys the superiority of France at sea had been a constant embarrassment. From this difficulty the capture of Calais would do much to deliver him, for Dover and Calais together bridled the Channel. Nor was this all. Not only would the possession of the town give Edward a base of operations against France, but it afforded an easy means of communication with the only sure allies of England, the towns of Flanders. Flanders seemed at this moment to be wavering. Its Count had fallen at Crécy, but his son Lewis le Mâle, though his sympathies were as French as his father's, was received in November by his subjects with the invariable loyalty which they showed to their rulers; and his own efforts to detach them from England were seconded by the influence of the Duke of Brabant. But with Edward close at hand beneath the walls of Calais the Flemish towns stood true. They prayed the young Count to marry Edward's daughter, imprisoned him on his refusal, and on his escape to the French Court in the spring of 1347 they threw themselves heartily into the English cause. A hundred thousand Flemings advanced to Cassel and ravaged the French frontier.

The danger of Calais roused Philip from the panic which had followed his defeat, and with a vast army he advanced to the north. But Edward's lines were impregnable. The French king failed in another attempt to dislodge the Flemings, and was at last driven to retreat without a blow. Hopeless of further succour, the town after a year's siege was starved into surrender in August 1347. Mercy was granted to the garrison and the people on condition that six of the citizens gave themselves into the English king's hands. "On them," said Edward with a burst of bitter hatred, "I will do my will." At the sound of the town bell, Jehan le Bel tells us, the folk of Calais gathered round the bearer of these terms, "desiring to hear their good news, for they were all mad with hunger. When the said knight told them his news, then began they to weep and cry so loudly that it was great pity. Then stood up the wealthiest burgess of the town, Master Eustache de St. Pierre by name, and spake thus before all: 'My masters, great grief and mishap it were for all to leave such a people as this is to die by famine or otherwise; and great charity and grace would he win from our Lord who could defend them from dying. For me, I have great hope in the Lord that if I can save this people by my death I shall have pardon for my faults, wherefore will I be the first of the six, and of my own will put myself barefoot in my shirt and with a halter round my neck in the mercy of King Edward.'" The list of devoted men was soon made up, and the victims were led before the king. "All the host assembled together; there was great press, and many bade hang them openly, and many wept for pity. The noble King came with his train of counts and barons to the place, and the Queen followed him, though great with child, to see what there would be. The six citizens knelt down at once before the King, and Master Eustache spake thus:--'Gentle King, here we be six who have been of the old bourgeoisie of Calais and great merchants; we bring you the keys of the town and castle of Calais, and render them to you at your pleasure. We set ourselves in such wise as you see purely at your will, to save the remnant of the people that has suffered much pain. So may you have pity and mercy on us for your high nobleness' sake.' Certes there was then in that place neither lord nor knight that wept not for pity, nor who could speak for pity; but the King had his heart so hardened by wrath that for a long while he could not reply; than he commanded to cut off their heads. All the knights and lords prayed him with tears, as much as they could, to have pity on them, but he would not hear. Then spoke the gentle knight, Master Walter de Maunay, and said, 'Ha, gentle sire! bridle your wrath; you have the renown and good fame of all gentleness; do not a thing whereby men can speak any villany of you! If you have no pity, all men will say that you have a heart full of all cruelty to put these good citizens to death that of their own will are come to render themselves to you to save the remnant of the people.' At this point the King changed countenance with wrath, and said 'Hold your peace, Master Walter! it shall be none otherwise. Call the headsman. They of Calais have made so many of my men die, that they must die themselves!' Then did the noble Queen of England a deed of noble lowliness, seeing she was great with child, and wept so tenderly for pity that she could no longer stand upright; therefore she cast herself on her knees before her lord the King and spake on this wise: 'Ah, gentle sire, from the day that I passed over sea in great peril, as you know, I have asked for nothing: now pray I and beseech you, with folded hands, for the love of our Lady's Son to have mercy upon them.' The gentle King waited a while before speaking, and looked on the Queen as she knelt before him bitterly weeping. Then began his heart to soften a little, and he said, 'Lady, I would rather you had been otherwhere; you pray so tenderly that I dare not refuse you; and though I do it against my will, nevertheless take them, I give them to you.' Then took he the six citizens by the halters and delivered them to the Queen, and released from death all those of Calais for the love of her; and the good lady bade them clothe the six burgesses and make them good cheer."


Terms Defined

Referenced Works