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1377.

that they should there meet with great choice of C'H A P. any particular species of commodity. This policy XVI. of inviting foreigners to Calais was carried so far, that all English merchants were prohibited by law from exporting any English goods from the staple; which was in a manner the total abandoning of all foreign navigation, except that to Calais "s*. A contrivance seemingly extraordinary.

It was not till the middle of this century that the English began to extend their navigation even to the Baltic "s; nor till the middle of the subsequent, that they sailed to the Mediterranean "6.

LUXURY was complained of in that age, as well as in others of more refinement; and attempts were made by parliament to restrain it, particularly on the head of apparel, where surely it is the most obviously innocent and inoffensive. No man under a hundred a year was allowed to wear gold, silver, or silk in his clothes : Servants also were prohibited from eating flesh meat, or fish , above once a day"). By another law it was ordained, that no one should be allowed, either for dinner or supper, above three dishes in each course, and not above two courses: And it is likewise expressly declared, that soused meat is to count as one of these dishes ". It was easy to foresee that such

137

*** 27 Edward. III. cap. . 135 Anderson, vol.i. p. 151,

13* Id. p. 177. "? 37 Edw. III.

CHA P. ridiculous laws must prove ineffectual, and could

XVI. never be executed. 1377.

· The use of the French language, in pleadings and public deeds, was abolished ". It may appear strange, that the nation should so long have worn this badge of conquest: But the king and nobility seem never to have become thoroughly English, or to have forgotten their French extraction , till Edward's wars with France gave them an antipathy to that nation. Yet still, it was long before the use of the English tongue came into fashion. The first English paper which we meet with in Rymer is in the year 1386, during the reign of Richard II ". There are Spanish papers in that collection of more ancient date": And the use of the Latin and French still continued.

We may judge of the ignorance of this age in geography, from a story told by Robert of Avesbury. Pope Clement VI. having, in 1344, created Lewis of Spain prince of the fortunate Islands, meaning the Canaries, then newly disco. vered; the English ambassador at Rome and his retinue were seized with an alarm, that Lewis had been created king of England; and they immediately hurried home, in order to convey this important intelligence. Yet such was the

539 36 Edw. III. cap. 15.

**° Rymer, vol. vii. p. 526. This paper, by the style, seems to have been drawn by the Scots, and was signed by the wardens of the marches only.

Rymer , vol. vi. p. 554.

CHA

ardor for study at this time, that Speed in his c H A P, Chronicle informs us, there were then 30,000 XVI. students in the university of Oxford alone. What 1377. was the occupation of all these young men ? To learn very bad Latin, and still worse Logic.

IN 1364, the commons petitioned, that, in consideration of the preceding pestilence, such persons as possessed manors holding of the king in chief, and had let different leases without obtaining licences, might continue to exercise the same power, till the country were become more populous". The commons were sensible, that this security of possession was a good means for rendering the kingdom prosperous and flourishing; yet durft not apply, all at once, for a greater relaxation of their chains.

THERE is not a reign among those of the ancient English monarchs, which deserves more to be studied than that of Edward III. nor one where the domestic transactions will better discover the tru : genius of that kind of mixed government, which was then established in England. The struggles, with regard to the validity and authority of the great charter, were now over: The king was acknowledged to lie under some limitations : Edward himself was a prince of great capacity, noc governed by favorites, not led astray by any unruly passion, sensible that nothing could be more essential to his interests than to keep on good terms with his. people: Yet on the whole

1377.

CH A P. it appears, that the government, at best, was XVI. only a barbarous monarchy, not regulated by

any fixed maxims, or bounded by any certain undisputed rights, which in practice were regularly obferved. The king conducted himself by one set of principles; the barons by another; the commons by a third; the clergy by a fourth. All these systems of government were opposite and incompatible: Each of them prevailed in its turn, as incidents were favorable to it: A great prince rendered the monarchical power predominant: The weakness of a king gave reins to the aristocracy: A superstitious age saw the clergy triumphant: The people, for whom chiefly government was instituted, and who chiefly deserve consideration, were the weakest of the whole. But the commons, little obnoxious to any other order; though they funk under the violence of tempests, silently reared their head in more peaceable times ; and while the storm was brewing, were courted by all sides, and thus received still some accession to their privileges, or, at worst, some confirmation of them.

It has been an established opinion, that gold coin was not struck till this reign: But there has ately been found proof that it is as ancient as Henry III. 143

14?

** See Observations on the more ancient Statutes, p. * 375. 2d edit.

351

CH A P. XVII.

RICHARD II.

Government during the ininority. Insurrection of

the comiilon people. - Dijcontents of the barons. Civil commotions. Expulsion or execution of the king's minisiers, -- Cabals of the duke of Glocester. Murder of the duke of Glocefter. Banishment of Henry duke of Hereford. Return of Henry. — General infurrection. Deposition of the king. His murder. His character. Misceliuneous transactions during this reign.

THE parliament, which was fummoned soon c H A P. after the king's accession, was both elected and XVII.' assembled in tranquillity; and the great change, 1377. from a sovereign of consummate wisdom and vene di experience to a boy of eleven years of age, was the minority. not immediately felt by the people. The habits of order and obedience, which the barons had been taught during the long reign of Edward, still influenced them; and the authority of the king's three uncles, the dukes of Lancaster, York, and Glocester, sufficed to repress, for a time, the turbulent spirit, to which that order, in a weak reign, was so often subject. The dangerous ambition too of these princes themselves was

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