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fortune have declared for whatever party it might, disappointment alone was in store for the heart of Isabella, since the Richard, whom she hoped to meet, was but a counterfeit in royal robes to deceive the common people. The chiefs of the insurrection were betrayed by the mayor of Cirencester, and their summary execution followed in a few hours. Isabella was too young to be punished for her share in this rebellion, excepting by close restraint. She was sent, after quiet was restored, strictly guarded, to the palace of Havering-atteBower; and this appears to have been her place of residence during the tragical events that succeeded the insurrection, in which she took a part so decided, considering her tender age. These transactions took place at the end of January and the beginning of February, 1400, when the insurrection was subdued: it became a favourite topic of conversation between the knights and lords of Henry's bedchamber, who always concluded by observing on the impossibility that Henry IV. should reign peaceably while Richard II. was suffered to exist. The wily king gave no intimation that he heard these colloquies. After an abortive invasion by the count de St. Pol, Richard's brother-in-law, the king's flatterers and tempters beset him more than ever. “Yet,” says Froissart, emphatically, “the king of England made no reply; but, leaving them in conversation, went to his falconers, and placing a falcon on his wrist, forgot all in feeding him.” Froissart is far too courtly to acknowledge that so accomplished a knight as Henry of Lancaster ordered so foul a murder; but other historians do not allow that Henry forgot all while feeding his falcon. There are so many circumstantial details in the narrative of old Fabyan concerning the death of Richard II., that there is little doubt of its being the true history of the murder of the unhappy king. Froissart has given the opening or prologue of the tragedy; but the following relation, gathered from Fabyan and others, tells the manner in which it was played out:-King Henry, sitting one day at table, in a sighing manner said, “Have I no faithful friend who will deliver me of one, whose life will be my death, and whose death my life?” This speech was much noted of the hearers, especially by one sir Piers' of Exton. This knight left the court, and, with eight persons more, went suddenly to Pontefractcastle; whither being come, he called before him the squire who was accustomed to wait on Richard at table, giving him a charge “that the king should eat as much as he would,” for that now he should not long eat.” King Richard being set at dinner was served negligently, and without the usual ceremony of tasting the dishes before he commenced his meal. Marwelling at this sudden change, he asked the reason, and was told that new orders had been given by king Henry to that effect. “The devil take Henry of Lancaster and thee together!” exclaimed the king in a passion, striking the man with a carving-knife. “On that word, in rushed sir Piers Exton with eight tall men, every man having a weapon in his hand. Richard, perceiving them, put the table back from him, and stepping up to the man next him, wrung the weapon out of his hand, (a brown-bill,) and therewith right valiantly defended himself; so that, in conclusion, four of them he slew outright. Sir Piers, amazed thereat, leaped upon the chair where king Richard usually sat, (some authorities say it was a curiously carved stone-chair); while the king was fiercely striving for conquest with the four surviving ruffians, and chasing them round the chamber, he passed near to the chair whereon sir Piers had gotten, who with a pole-axe smote him on the back of the head, and, withal, ridded him of his life in an instant.” Thus, battling like a champion of proof, in the full exercise of mighty emergies awakened by despair, fell the son of the Black Prince, at the early age of thirty-two: he died instantly, in the triumphant flush of victory against fearful odds. The gallantry of his death seems, in the minds of his combative nobles, to have absterged the stain of illegitimacy, with which his rival had foully taunted him. We hear no more, in chronicle, of his being the son of a priest. “Richard of Bourdeaux, when dead, was placed on a litter covered with black cloth, and a canopy of the same. Four black horses were harnessed to it, and four varlets in mourning conducted the litter, followed by four knights, dressed also in mourning,” sir Piers being doubtless one of the knights, and the varlets the worthy survivors of Richard’s eight assailants. “They thus paraded the streets, at a foot's pace, till they came to the Chepe, which is the greatest thoroughfare in the city, and there they halted for upwards of two hours. More than twenty thousand persons came to see king Richard, who lay in the litter, his head on a black cushion,' and his face uncovered.”
"There was a lord mayor, one of Richard's opposers, called sir Thomas Exton. * This observation shows that his food had been circumscribed.
*The very words of Shakspeare, who has merely cast Fabyan's narrative into dialogue. Walsingham only mentions that Richard starved himself, and died on Valentine's-day, 1400. This author is a thorough Lancastrian partisan, while siderman Fabyan just wrote at that distance from the event in question when the truth has not passed from the memory of man, and yet can be spoken fearlessly. Fahyan lived in the reign of Henry IV.'s grandson. As for gaining an actual exposure of a royal murder from an immediate contemporary, it is not to be expected. Let the reader notice the ominous silence of Froissart on this subject. His words point at murder strongly, but they speak it not.
Thus was queen Isabella left a widow in her thirteenth year. The death of her royal lord was concealed from her a considerable time; but she learned the murderous manner of it soon enough to reject, with horror, all offers of union with the heir of Lancaster. Young as she was, Isabella gave proofs of a resolute and decisive character: traits of firm and faithful affection were shown by this youthful queen, which captivated the minds of the English, and caused her to be made the heroine of many an historical ballad, a species of literature that the people of the land much delighted in at that time. The young widow remained in a state of captivity at HaveringBower, while her royal father in France was labouring under a long and dolorous fit of insanity, brought on by anxiety for his daughter's fate. The French council of regency demanded the immediate restoration of the young queen; but Henry IV. would not hear of it, answering, “That she should reside in England like other queen-dowagers, in great honour, on her dower; and that if she had unluckily lost a husband, she should be provided with another forthwith, who would be young, handsome, and every way deserving of her love. Richard of Bourdeaux was too old for her, but the person now offered was suitable in every respect; being no other than the prince of Wales.” It seems strange that Isabella, who had expressed such infant pride in being queen of England, should give up voluntarily all prospect of enjoying that station with a youthful hero whose age was so suitable to her own; yet so it was. That she was inflexible in her rejection of Henry prince of Wales, and mourned her murdered husband in a manner exceedingly touching, all who approached her, French or English, bore witness.” Her refusal would have been of little avail, if her family and country had not seen the matter in the same light. In reply to Henry IV.'s proposition, the French regency declared “that during the grievous illness of their lord king Charles, they could not give away his eldest daughter without his consent.” Therefore months passed away, and the maiden queen-dowager still continued a mourning widow in the bowers of Havering. It is recorded that king Henry and his princely heir did, in that interval, all in their power to win her constant heart from the memory of Richard; but in vain. She was just of the age to captivate the fancy of an ardent young prince like Henry of Monmouth; nor can there exist a doubt, by the extreme pertinacity with which he * Froissart. * Monstrelet.
* Froissart. The black cushion is mentioned by another witness; it was probably to conceal any accidental effusion of blood.
* Sir John Hayward adds the remarkable circumstance, (p. 135,) “that Richard's body was not only embalmed and cered, but soldered entirely in lead, all but the face.” Thus, although the body was exposed to the view of the populace in all the towns through which it passed, as well as in the metropolis, no one could possibly ascertain what wounds were on the head. These precautions plainly point out the peculiar manner of Richard's death. Traditional evidence may be gathered from the tour of three Norwich gentlemen, in 1643, before the royal castle of Pontefract was dilapidated by Cromwell. “We scaled that high, stately, and impregnable castle builded by the Norman on a rock, which for strength, situation, and largeness, may compare with any in the kingdom. In the circuit of this castle are seven famous towers; the highest of them is called “the round tower,’ in which that unfortunate prince, Richard II., fled round a post till his barbarous butchers deprived him of life. Upon that post the cruel hackings and fierce blows do still remain. We viewed the spacious hall which the giants kept, the large fair kitchen with many wide chimneys in it; we went up and saw the chamber of presence, the king and queen's chambers, the chapel, and many other rooms, all fit and suitable for princes.”—Brayley’s Graphic Illustrator, page 94. The ‘round tower’ is by Weever (Funeral Monuments) called “the bloody tower,’ he says by tradition of the country people in its vicinity, in memory of the murder of Richard II.
wooed the widow of his cousin, that she was beloved by him. However this may be, the modern paradox of Richard the Second's escape from the bloody towers of Pontefract' is utterly annihilated by the continual efforts of Henry IV. to gain the hand of Isabella for his son. “Would Henry,” asks an historical antiquary, in the Archaeologia, “ have been so desirous for the marriage of his heir with the widow of Richard, had he not been certain, beyond all doubt, that her husband was dead?” He would not surely have promoted a marriage which would have illegitimated the heirs of Lamcaster. This is one of the historical proofs of a disputed point which appeals directly to common sense. When Charles VI. recovered his senses, he sent the count d’Albret to inquire into the situation of Isabella. King Henry and his council were at Eltham, where the French ambassador was splendidly entertained by him. He told IIenry he had been sent by the king and queen of France to see the young queen their daughter. Henry IV. replied, “We no way wish to prevent you from seeing her; but you must promise, on oath, that neither yourself, nor any of your company, speak to her any thing concerning Richard of Bourdeaux. Should you do otherwise, you will greatly offend us and the whole country, and remain in peril of your lives while here.” Not long after this, the earl of Northumberland carried count d'Albret to Havering-atte-Bower, where Isabella then resided. She was attended by the duchess of Ireland, the duchess of Gloucester, her two daughters, and other ladies and damsels as companions. The earl introduced the French embassy to the young queen, who conversed some time with them, asking eagerly many questions after her royal parents. They kept the promise they had made, by never mentioning king Richard, and returned to London after a short interview. At Eltham, on their way home, they dined with king Henry, who pre"Too much stress has been laid (by those who have worked hard to prove a paradox) on the fact, that Richard's skull was found entire, when his tomb was examined in Westminster-abbey. Let the antiquaries, however, consult medical authorities, and they will find that instant death may ensue from a concussion on the brain, without the bone of the head being broken: and how easy it was, if
the king had, indeed, been only stunned, for his assassins to compress his mouth ld nostrils, so that the return of respiration was prevented.