Imágenes de página

the poor and the lepers; so that if one leper should strike another with a knife, he could adjudge him to be burnt. After the banquet was finished, he received, as his right, the silver dish for alms that stood before the king; and he claimed to have one tun of wine in right of alms; and on that day, the great chamberlain served the water, as well before as after the banquet—namely, Hugh de Vere, earl of Oxford \ and he received, as his right, the basins and the towels wherewith he served. Gilbert, earl marshal, earl of Strigul, served the office of the marshalsea; and it was his duty to appease tumults in the king's house, to give liveries to them, and to guard the entrances to the king's hall; and he received from every baron who was knighted by the king, and from every earl on that day, a palfrey with a saddle. The head cook of the royal kitchen always at the coronation received the steward's robe as his right; and of the aforesaid offices none claimed to themselves the right in the queen's house, except G. de Stamford, who said that he, in right of his predecessors, ought to be chamberlain to the queen, and doorkeeper of her chamber on that day, which he there obtained; and had, as his right, all the queen's furniture, as belonged to the office of chamberlain And the cloth w7hicli hung" be-hind the king at table was claimed, on the one side by the doorkeepers, and on the other by the scullions, for themselves."

Such were the pomps and splendid observances which graced the marriage festivities of Henry and Elinor of Provence; but although the faithless monarch was willing to forget his engagement with Joanna of Ponthieu, her indignant father applied to the holy see for the exertion of that power, to which Henry had always bowed. But the calculating pontiff chose to take a very different view of the capricious monarch's perjury, to that which was expected. Gregory rejoiced that the weak and manageable Henry had fallen into the hands of a family so well qualified to strengthen his superstitious attachment to the Roman see, and his blind devotion to whoever filled its chair, as the de Berengers;# and setting every moral consideration at defiance, he addressed a bull to the archbishop of Canterbury, and another to the prior of Beverley, expressing his full approbation of Henry's conduct; since his proposed marriage with Joanna, "being within the fourth degree of consanguinity, he could not, without injury to his fame and peril of his soul, contract."! But however compliant Henry might find the holy see, he found his own nobles rather less tractable; for having about this time summoned a parliament to be held at the Tower, they unanimously refused to attend, alleging that, surrounded as the king was with foreign and inimical counsellors, they could not, with safety, trust themselves in so strong and well garrisoned a fortress : a circumstance

* Raymond had early in life given proof of his devotion to the supreme pontiff, in the eagerness with which he took up arms against the reputed heretics of Languedoc. In his zeal for the " holy Catholic faith," he, however, very prudently did not forget his own interest; for immediately on the confiscation of the earl of Tholouse's estates, he put in a claim for them, alleging his praiseworthy efforts ; but it was not allowed.

t Fcedera, vol. i. p. 231.

which strongly marks both the unpopularity of his favourites, and the general duplicity of his conduct. On this occasion, however, prudence prevailed over self will; he yielded to his barons; and, returning to his palace at Westminster, there held his Parliament.

The succeeding two or three years were unmarked by any remarkable occurrence; and we find no mention whatever of Elinor. The power which the pope trusted he should increase by the agency of her family, and especially of herself, was exerted, however, in so shameless a manner, that the whole country indignantly complained. Not content with repeated exactions, under various specious names, from ecclesiastics and the laity, he demanded that three hundred Italians should be preferred to English benefices. In vain did the excellent archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund Rich, protest against the iniquitous measure. He incurred the displeasure of the king by opposing the will of the pontiff; and he not unwillingly retired from a contest in which justice was overborn by power, to a voluntary exile at Ponteniac, where he died. "Wretched was the state of the church," says the indignant chronicler; "brotherly love expired, and ecclesiastical liberty withered away." Little heeded the monarch these things—exulting in the patronage of the holy see, he reverently fasted, both at Lent and on every Saturday throughout the year ; feasted right joyfully at Pasch and Christmas tide ; and kept the vigil of his tutelar St. Edward most devoutly, clothed in white, and passing the whole night in the church.

But these goodly observances could neither fill his exhausted exchequer, nor conciliate the good will of his subjects. The people murmured, the nobles were loud in their complaints; but Henry pertinaciously adhered to his foreign counsellors, and invited over many of the queen's relations, on whom he conferred both estates and benefices. In 1243, we find in the Fcedera a charter respecting Elinor's dower, from which it appears that the appropriated dower of the queens of England was not even at this period assigned her. In this she is assigned the town and castle of Gloster, the cities of Worcester and Bath, the manors of Clyne and Chiltham; and instead of the manors assigned by the first charter, the whole county of Chester, together with Newcastle-under-Line, is granted.

This year, Elinor's mother visited England, for the purpose of bringing Senchia, her third daughter, who was affianced to the king's brother, Richard earl of Cornwall. On this occasion, Henry confirmed to his brother the county of Cornwall, together with the honours of Wallingford and Eye. He also made splendid presents to the bride and her mother; and bestowed on Peter of Savoy, the queen's maternal uncle, the honour of the Eagle, and the title and estates of the earl of Richmond; and on his brother, the archbishopric of Canterbury.

But while Henry thus lavished gifts on his queen's relations, he duly, according to orthodox practice,

* The marriage was celebrated with much splendour; the king directing that the whole way from London bridge to Westminster should be hung with tapestry and other ornaments. This seems to prove that the comparatively little vacant space could have extended between London and Westminster.

mulcted the unfortunate Jews. During the same year, writs were directed to the sheriffs of each county, directing them to "return before him at Worcester, upon Quinquagesima Sunday, six of the richest Jews, from every larger town, and two from each smaller," to treat with him as well concerning their own as his benefit. This assembly, which Dr. Tovey terms a parliament of the Jews, soon discovered, that while the monarch was anxious to secure his own benefit, he was well content to sacrifice theirs. He informed them that they must raise him 20,000 marks (almost 200,000/.); and when they expressed their astonishment, 6'liberty of speech/' says Dr. Tovey, "was for this one time denied in parliament; and they were only commanded to go home again, and get one half of it ready by Midsummer, and the remainder by Michaelmas."* As, during the same year, Raymond, the queen's father, received 4000 marks, it is not improbable that a portion of this spoil was awarded to him.

Henry, in his exactions from the Jews, seems, indeed, to have resembled his father. On two occasions, during his reign, the malignant charge of crucifying a child was brought against them; and, on the one occasion, many of the richest Jews fled away, and the king seized all their property; while, on the other, eighty of the wealthiest Jews of Lincoln were hanged, and sixty-three conveyed to the Tower to undergo a similar fate. Besides these general persecutions, some of their number seem to have been marked out for most extensive spoliation. Aaron

* Dr. Tovey's "Judaica Anglia."

« AnteriorContinuar »