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Note XVII.—p. 35.
The doubts cast upon the authority of the act are, I think, insufficient to shake it. To some observation, however, it is certainly liable. The Rot. Par. only says that it was "de consensu Regis, magnatum, procerum;" and no mention is made of the Commons. But the Statute itself mentions the Commons. Again, the prelates in the Petition say nothing of the punishment; so that, though the Commons assent with the Temporal Peers and the Crown, the Spiritual Peers give no consent to the whole act. But then the statute mentions the Prelates as well as the Temporal Peers. Perhaps, however, the most suspicious circumstance is the place in which the Petition and answer are found on the Parliament Roll. The 46th and 47th entries are stated to be made of what passed the last day of Parliament, Thursday, March 10, 1401. The Parliament is then dissolved, the members dismissed, and their wages ordered; and then comes the 48th entry, which is the petition of the clergy and the answer enacting also the punishment. But it must be admitted that in the 47th article the Commons thank the King for what had been enacted during the session to put down heresy, and no other enactment except the stat. de heer. comb, appears to have been made, unless it be the writ for burning Sawtre, which is certainly entered Art. 20, as framed by advice of the Lords spiritual and temporal. There is also much irregularity in these entries: for example, one of the entries before the dissolution on the 10th of March bears date the 15th, if this be not an error in transcribing.
Note XVIII.—p. 36.
Dr. Lingard is mistaken in his statement that the Commons returned thanks specially for Sawtre's punishment (iii. 329). He cites the general thanks which they gave at the end of the session "for the good and just remedy which had been made and ordained to the destruction of the heresy and the sect" (Rot. Par. iii. 466). Now, Dr. Lingard uses this passage (p. 330) as a proof that the Commons thanked the King for the statute, not for the writ; and so, probably, must the thanks be read. If they refer to Sawtre's case, then one of Dr. Lingard's proofs that the statute had the consent of the Commons fails. He and others express doubt of the precise time of Sawtre's execution. But the writ or ordinance de comburendo W. Sawtri is tested 26th February, 1401; and though the entry on the Pari. Roll is 2nd of March, that may be the day it received the Lords' assent, in anticipation of which it was probably framed. There can be little or no doubt then as to the time.
Note XIX.—p. 41.
T. Walsingham is the only authority on which the proposal of the Commons to Henry IV. has come down to us. We only find in Rot. Pari. iii. 623, that the Commons desired to have a petition returned to them which they had presented, and that it was given back with some reluctance, and a note that this proceeding should not be drawn into a precedent. T. Walsingham, 422, says that the petition came from "Milites parliamentales, vel ut dicam verius satellites Pilatales, in maligno positi, nulli commoditati regni studentes sed unum solummodo scelusmolientes ut ecclesiam destituant."
Note XX.—p. 46.
After a solemn mass had been performed, he also offered to be treated as a traitor should he be found false in his protestations to Richard. (Relation de la Mart de Richard II.) He was the person who seized Richard. On Henry's landing, Salisbury, who had been sent into Wales by Richard, assembled 40,000 men, but Henry is said to have collected 100,000. Richard, on the way to London, at Lichfield, attempted to escape by sliding down from the tower window; but he was taken in the garden. While on the journey a body of Londoners came to demand his head; but Henry refused, and said he should let him be tried by the Parliament. As Richard rode through the city the mob reviled him with the name of "little bastard" a calumny adopted in some proclamations of Henry which call him John de Bourdeaux. (Relation de la Mort de Rie. II.—Relation d*un Francais, Timoin oculaire, au sujet de la Deposition de Ric. II. et de VUsurpation de Henri IV.—Chronicle of the Betrayal of Richard II, published in Archaeol. VI. by the Antiquarian Society.) This is the same with the work last cited, and it had been printed in France before the Society published this edition, assuming that the original remained still in MS.
Note XXI.—p. 49.
Sir T. Blount was embowelled alive; that is, placed upon a bench while only half hanged and yet alive, and his entrails forcibly torn out and burnt before his face; cruel, taunting expressions being at the same time used towards the sufferer. The 'Relation de la Mort de Rich. II.' gives this shocking account of it:—" II se deboutonnat, etadonc le bourrel en y latta le ventre et luy coppa les boyaulx droit desous l'estomac, et les noua d'une laniere que le vent ne partist hors de luy, et jetta les boyaulx dans le feu. Adonc Sir Thomas etait assis devant le feu, le ventre tout ouvert, et les vist ardoir les boyaulx devant luy."
To the savage ferocity of the law was added the vile spite of the courtier. Sir Thomas Erpingham, the usurper's chamberlain, must needs insult the victim of his cruelty, and whose only crime was the refusing to partake of his own treason: "Go," said he, " seek a master that can cure thee!" Blount only answered by blessing God that he had been suffered to die for his lawful prince. (Relation, 232.) He refused to betray the names of his accomplices. (See the Cronycle of the Betrayal, p. 246.)
Note XXII.—p. 49.
T. Walsingham denies the murder altogether; but he stands almost alone in this denial. His story of Richard starving himself to death for grief at the conspiracy of his adherents being discovered, and at the death of Ids uncle, is altogether improbable; for it is at variance with the whole character of the man (T. Wals. 404). The only other contemporary authority which can be cited for this statement is that of the ' Relation d'un Fran- cais, Temoin oculaire.' The author says that after the deposition he received Richard's permission to return to France, which indicates that he had been attached to his person. Thenarrativeendsby saying that, on the defeat of Exeter's conspiracy, Richard " from grief refused to take any nourishment, and died of hunger."
The 'Relation de la Mort de Rich. II.' gives the common account of Exton and seven others falling upon and despatching him after he had killed four of them, and adds that the occasion taken for the violence was a squabble between the King and his carver. The Polychronicon, which joins in the account universally given that he was murdered, mentions the common opinion in England to be that he had died voluntarily, starving himself through grief, which was no doubt the tale circulated by Henry and his partisans, and the prevalence of the notion accounts for T. Walsingham's statement. (Poh/ch. ccxxv.) Hardyng, a contemporary writer (for he was born in 1378, and entered Percy's service in 1390), says that Richard died in Pontefract Castle, and was buried privately at Langley, "for that men sholde have no remembrance of him i" but, he adds, "men sayde for hungered he was and lapped in lede" (ch. 66, p. 357). Fabyan, who lived a century later, for he was sheriff of London in 1493, gives it as clear that Sir Piers Exton slew him by Henry's command (568). It is remarkable that Froissart gives no intimation of Richard having come by his death through foul play. After frequently reciting the advice given to Henry that he should despatch him, and adding that he put these counsels aside, he merely says that
he "could not learn how Richard's death happened," and gives a pretty full account of his funeral. He adds, however, that his death had been expected for some time, " for it was well known he never would come out of the Tower alive" (Froiss. xii. c. 30, 31). The narrative of Froissart is full of inaccuracies; among others he makes Richard remain in the Tower from the time he was seized. Some of the old writers mention an act, ordinance, or resolution of Henry's first parliament, declaring any attempt in Richard's favour treason, and ordering that if any such were made Richard himself should be killed first. But nothing of the kind is to be found either in the Statute Book or Parliament Rolls. A judgment is given, Rot. Par. iii. 452, by Chief Justice Thyrning, in the Lords, declaring certain appellants who are forfeited, but not hanged, to be guilty of treason if they shall adhere to Richard.
Several ingenious men have exerted their skill in support of the notion that the man sometimes called "that foole in Scotland" (as we have seen) was Richard, who had escaped from Pomfret Castle, and taken refuge there. That some such impostor obtained credence for his story seems certain. But, not to mention many other proofs against the possibility of its being true, we may only refer to the undoubted fact that Henry had possession of James I.'s person during the greater part of his reign, and could, from the influence which that gave him over the Regent Albany, have easily obtained possession of Richard's person had he really been in Scotland. No one surely can suspect Henry of such kindness towards his dethroned kinsman, or such a tender conscience as to be glad the guilt of his death did not lie upon his soul, and yet upon no other supposition is it possible to account for his not making the Scotch give him up had he been among them. Lord Dover, in an ingenious paper read before the Society of Antiquaries, and Mr. Tytler, in his excellent History of Scotland, are the principal advocates for this historical paradox. Sir J. Mackintosh has partly refuted it in his English History, but Mr. Amyot fully and unanswerably, Archrcol. xxiii. 277, and xxv. 394.
But it may be worth while to note the additional evidence