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O IL A P. the Merchant Adventurers, had its first origin : It XIIJ. was instituted for the improvement of the woollen
manufacture, and the vending of the cloth abroad, particularly at Antwerp "*. For the English at. this time scarcely thought of any more diftant commerce.
This king granted a charter or declaration of protection and privileges to foreign merchants, and also ascertained the customs or duties which those merchants were in return to pay on merchandize imported and exported. He proinised them fecurity; allowed them a jury on trials, consisting half of natives, half of foreigners; and appointed them a justiciary in London for theis protection. But notwithstanding this seeming attention, to foreign merchants, Edward did not free them from the cruel hardship, of making one answerable for the debts, and even for the crimes of another, thiat came from the fame country "s. We read of such practices among the present barbarous nations. The king also imposed on them a duty of two shillings on each tun of wine imported, over and above the old duty; and forty pence on each fack of wool exported , befides half a mark, the former duty ". · In the year 1303, the Exchequer was robbed, and of no less a fum than 100,000 pounds, as is
18+ Anderson's history of commerce, vol. i. p. 137.
* Ibid. p. 146. ** Rymer, vol. iv. p. 361. It is the charter of Edw. I. which is there confirmed by Ediv. III.
pretended "?. The abbot and monks of Westmin- CHAP ster were indicted for this robbery, but acquitted. XIII. It does not appear, that the king ever discovered 1307. the criminals with certainty ; though his indignation fell on the society of Lombard merchants, particularly the Frescobaldi, very opulent Florentines.
The pope having in 1307 collected much money in England, the king enjoined the nuncio not to export it in specie but in bills of exchange "". A proof that commerce was but ill understood at that time.
EDWARD had by his first wife, Eleanor of Castile, four sons; but Edward, his heir and successor, was the only one that survived him. She also bore him eleven daughters, most of whom died in their infancy : Of the surviving, Joan was married first to the earl of Glocester, and after his death, to Ralph de Monthermer: Margaret espoused John duke of Brabant: Elizabeth espoused first John earl of Holland; and afterwards the earl of Hereford; Mary was a nun at Ambresbury. He had by his second wife, Margaret of France, two sons and a daughter;
Thomas created earl of Norfolk, and Mareschal of England; and Edmond who was created earl of Kent by his brother when king. The princess died in her infancy,
Rymer, vol. ii. p. 930.
"" Ibid. p. 1992,
Weakness of the king - His passion for favorites -- Pier's
Gavasłon - Discontent of the barons -- Murder of
CHA P. I HE prepossessions, entertained in favor of
XIV. young Edward, kept the English from being 1337. fully sensible of the extreme loss, which they had
sustained by the death of the great monarch, whọ filled the throne, and all men hastened with alacrity to take the oath of allegiance to his son and successor. This prince was in the twentythird year of his age, was of an agreeable figure, of a mild and gentle disposition, and having never discovered a propensity to any dangerous
vice, it was natural to prognosticate tranquillity Weakness and happiness from his government. But the of the king. first act of his reign blasted all these hopes, and
showed him to be totally unqualified for that perilous situation, in which every English mon
arch, during those ages, had, from the unstable C HA P. form of the constitution, and the turbulent XIV.
1307. dispositions of the people, derived from it, the misfortune to be placed. The indefatigable Robert Bruce, though his army had been dispersed and he himself had been obliged to take shelter in the western isles, remained not long unactive; but before the death of the late king, had fallied from his retreat, had again collected his followers, had appeared in the field, and had obtained by surprise an important advantage over Aymer de Valence, who commanded the English forces '. He was now become so considerable as to have, afforded the king of England sufficient glory in subduing him, without incurring any danger of seeing all those mighty preparations, made by his father, fail in the enterprise. But Edward, instead of pursuing his advantages, marched but a little way into Scotland; and having an utter incapacity, and equal avergon, for all application or serious business, he immediately returned upon his footsteps, and disbanded his army. His grandees perceived from this conduct, that the authority of the crown, fallen into such feeble hands, was no longer to be dreaded, and that every insolence might be practised by them with impunity.
The next measure, taken by Edward, gave His pallion them an inclination to attack those prerogatives, item
Les for favor which no longer kept them in awe. There waş
É HA P. one Piers Gavaston, son of a Gascon knight of
XIV. fome distinction; who had honorably served the
1397. late king, and who, in reward of his merits, had Piers Ga
obtained an establishment for his son in the family of the prince of Wales. This young man soon insinuated himself into the affections of his master, by his agreeable behaviour, and by supplying him with all those innocent , though frivolous amusements, which suited his capacity and his inclinations. He was endowed with the utmost elegance of shape and person, was noted for a fine mien and easy carriage, distinguished himself in all warlike and genteel exercises, and was celebrated for those quick fallies of wit, in which his countrymen usually excel. By all these accomplishments he gained so entire an ascendant over young Edward, whose heart was strongly disposed to friendship and confidence, that the late king, apprehensive of the consequences , had banished him the kingdom, and had, before he died, made his son promise never to recal him. But no sooner did he find himself master, as he vainly imagined, than he sent for Gavalton; and even before his arrival at court, endowed him with the whole earldom of Cornwal, which had escheated to the crown, by the death of Edmond, son of Richard king of the Romans ?. Not content with conferring on him those possessions, which had fufficed as an appanage for a prince
* Rymer , vol. iii. p. 1. Heming. vol. i. p. 243. Walling.