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the duties, in the reign of Edward the Third, indicate the different injunctions to have been acted against in open defiance.
In 1314, the price of provisions becoming excessive dear in London, the parliament took them into consideration, and settled them in a form which may possibly afford some notion of the rate at which the inhabitants were living: they were to be sold at the undermentioned fixed prices, under a penalty upon the vender of forfeiting his goods. L. s. d.
The best grass-fed ox, alive, at
The best cow, at
The best hog, of two years old, at
The best goose, at
The best capon, at
The best hen, at
0 16 0
1 4 0
0 12 0
The best chickens, two for
The best young pigeons, three for
In Edward the third's reign, the City obtained great additions to its privileges; among other immunities granted was one, that the Mayor should be constantly one of the judges of Oyer and Terminer for the trial of criminals confined in Newgate; that the citizens should have the privilege of trying a robber within the jurisdiction of the city, and the power of reclaiming a citizen apprehended elsewhere for felony, in order to try him within its walls, with a right to possess the goods and chattels of all felons convicted within their jurisdiction; that the City liberties should not be seized for a personal offence, or the iniquitous judgment of any of its magistrates, and that no market should be kept within seven miles of the City of London.
By a second charter, Southwark was granted to the citizens, and a few years afterwards a privilege was given for a gold or silver mace to be carried before the chief magistrate, and the imposing baronial title of lord was added to that of mayor.
In 1348, London suffered dreadfully by a pestilence,
and so great was the mortality, that the common places of burial for the dead were not found sufficient. On the site of the present Charter House, no less than 50,000 are said to have been interred.
London, indeed, was extremely populous, but the ravages of the pestilence reduced the price of provisions so low, that a few of the articles are worth comparing with the prices of those already mentioned.
The best fed ox was reduced to
The best cow to
The best heifer, or steer
The best wether
The best ewe
The best hog
L. s. d.
0 0 2
0 0 5
And a fine horse, before worth forty shillings, was reduced to six shillings and eight-pence. The riches and reputation of the city, however, appear to have been diminished but in a small degree, since soon after, in 1363, Henry Picard, late mayor of London, gave a sumptuous entertainment to the kings of England, Scotland, France, and Cyprus, the Prince of Wales, and the greater part of the nobility.
In the fifth year of Richard II. that rebellion took place which was headed by Wat Tyler. London suffered severely by it, as the rebels burnt or destroyed an immense deal of property.
On the 10th of June, 1381, the rebels having mustered on Blackheath a hundred thousand strong, entered Southwark, where they set at liberty the prisoners in the King's Bench and Marshalsea; levelled to the ground the houses of all lawyers and inquest-men; burnt the archiepiscopal residence at Lambeth with the rich furniture, books, and registers; and destroyed the public stews which were then tolerated on the Bank-side.
For a single day the bridge gate was shut against them; but they were afterwards, from prudential motives, admitted into the city; and being joined by the rabble of
the town, they hastened to the palace of the Savoy. The Savoy was, at this time, one of the most magnificent structures in the kingdom, the residence of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster. Having set fire to it in several places, they caused proclamation to be made that no one should convert any part of the rich effects to his own use under pain of death; and actually flung into the fire one of their companions who had reserved a piece of plate. They afterwards found certain barrels, which they thought contained gold and silver, and flung them into the flames; but the contents proving to be gunpowder, they blew up the great hall and destroyed several houses.
From the Savoy they hastened to the Temple, which was then inhabited by the lord high treasurer, and burnt it, with all the records in chancery, as well as the other inns of court. After these ravages they divided into three parties; one advanced to the rich priory of St. John of Jerusalem, near Smithfield, which having burnt, they proceeded to the abbot's mansion at Highbury. The se cond division marched to the tower, where they seized the lord high treasurer, abbot of the monastery just mentioned, and the archbishop of Canterbury (although guarded by twelve hundred soldiers), and hurrying them to the hill just by, beheaded them. The third division, which were the Essex party, proceeded to Mile-end; where, being met by the king, he agreed to grant their demands, and the same day each party dispersed to their respective homes.
WAT TYLEE, however, and his companions, continued their disorders in London and its neighbourhood. They liberated the prisoners in the Fleet and Newgate, plundered and destroyed the houses of the Lombards, whose residence was in the street which still retains their name, and dragging the merchants themselves from the churches, whither they had fled for refuge, beheaded them in the streets. Not content with murdering many of the most eminent citizens, they made proclamation not only for the beheading of all lawyers, but all persons concerned in the Exchequer. Richard, encouraged by his success at Mileend, made one, if not more, fruitless efforts to negociate with their leader. And, as Froissart relates, returning
through Smithfield from his orisons at Westminster, accompanied by about forty horse, came unawares upon the rebels, who were twenty thousand strong, opposite the priory of St. Bartholomew. Tyler no sooner saw the king than he rode boldly up to him, and made for the rebels the most absurd and extravagant demands! professing that nothing would satisfy them but a royal commission to behead all lawyers, and the abolition of all vexatious laws. His deportment was at length so rude, that the king ordered Sir William Walworth, the Lord Mayor of London, officially to arrest him; who, having brought Tyler to the ground with his sword, his other attendants assisted in dispatching him. The rebels observing what was done, bent their bows to revenge their leader's death; but Richard, though only fifteen years of age, rode forward, crying, My friends, will you kill your king? Be not troubled for the loss of your leader. I will be your captain, and grant what you desire-Having marched under his direction to St. George's Fields, they suddenly found a thousand citizens, completely armed, to oppose them; and, being struck with a panic, threw down their arms, obtained their pardon, and immediately dispersed. The dagger in the first quarter of the city arms is said to have been added in remembrance of Sir William Walworth's bravery in this transaction. JACK STRAW, another principal in the rebellion, was taken in an eating-house in the city, tried before the mayor, and executed, and his head, with Wat Tyler's, was placed on London Bridge
In 1417, Sir Richard Whittington was mayor for the third time, and some idea may be formed of his wealth from the following circumstance:-Having invited Henry and his Queen to an entertainment at Guildhall, immediately after the conquest of France, he caused a fire to be made of odoriferous woods, in which he burnt bonds of the king's to the amount of 60,000l. due to various companies, on which Henry had borrowed money to pay his army in France; he then told the king, that he bought up and discharged those debts, and made him a present of them. The king exclaimed, "No king ever had such a subject;" and Whittington replied, "True, because no
subject ever had such a king." Besides this act of royalty, Whittington founded and endowed several charities.
In 1450, Jack Cade, an Irishman, assumed the person and name of John Mortimer of the family of the Earl of March who had been beheaded in the early part of the reign of Edward III. Under pretence of delivering the nation from the oppressive measures of the court, he raised an army sufficiently strong to make its way to London. He encamped on Blackheath, overawed the country round, and obtained horses, arms, and money, by various stratagems, from the Genoese and other foreign merchants in London. The king marched against him with fifteen thousand men but Cade, by a feint, retreated into the woods near Seven Oaks, hoping to draw the king's forces after him in a disorderly manner. The king, deceived by the stratagem, returned to London with his army, and ordered Sir Humphrey Stafford to follow the rebels with a detachment, and disperse them; of which Cade taking advantage, Stafford, with his best officers, and the army under his command, were cut to pieces. Cade, flushed with victory, marched directly for the capital, and so terrified the king by his demands, that he fled, with the queen, to the castle of Kenilworth, in Warwickshire. Cade having arrived in Southwark, took up his quarters at the White Hart Inn, and summoned the citizens to admit his forces. At his entrance, he endeavoured to ingratiate himself with the Londoners, by strict orders that his followers should commit no violence, and pay ready money for their purchases, on pain of death. In the evening he withdrew from the city into Southwark, but returning the next day, he caused Lord Say, the lord high treasurer, to be arraigned by a commission at Guildhall; whence he hurried him from the bar to the standard in Cheapside, and beheaded him before he had time to finish his confession to the priest his head, fixed upon a spear, was carried before the rebels in triumph, and his body having been dragged at a horse's tail to St. Thomas of Waterings, was there hung upon a gibbet, and quartered. Cade then committed other acts of cruelty. Sir James Cromer, the sheriff of Kent, was taken from the Fleet, and beheaded in the