Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

abolith those diftinctions which might be apt to keep the nation in its former dependence. He carefully destroyed all records and monuments of antiquity, that inspired the people with a spirit of national pride. He carried away a stone, which the tradition of the vulgar pretended to have been Jacob's pillow, on which all their kings were feated when they were anointed. This, the ancient tradition had assured them, was the mark of their government, and wherever it was placed, their command was always to follow. The great feal of Baliol was broke ; and that unhappy monarch himself was carried as a prisoner to London, and committed to custody in the Tower. Two years afterwards he was restored to his liberty, and ba. nished to France, where he died in a private fta. tion, without making any further attempts to reinstate himself upon the throne ; happier perhaps in privacy, than if gratified in the pursuits of am. bition.

The ceffation which was given to Edward by those successes, in his insular dominions, induced him to turn his ambition to the continent, where he expected to recover a part of those territories that had been ufurpe i from his crown, during the imbecility of his predecessors. There had been a rupture with France fome time before, upon a very trifling occasion. A Norman and an English fhip met off the coast, near Bayonne; and having both occasion to draw water from the fame spring, there happened a quarrel for the preference. This fcume in which a Norman was flain, produced a complaint to the king of France, who desired the complainant to take his own revenge, and not bring such matters before him, This the Normans did shortly after; for seizing the crew of a fhip in the channel, they hanged a part of them, together with some dogs, in the prefence of all

[ocr errors]

their companions. This produced a retaliation from the English cinque-ports; and the animosity of the merchants on both sides being wrought up to fury, the fea became a scene of piracy and murder. No

quarter was given on either side; the mariners were destroyed by thousands; and at last the affair became too serious for the sovereigns. of either side to continue any longer unconcerned fpectators. Some ineffectual overtures were made for accommodation ; but Edward seeing that it was likely to come to an open rupture, gave orders for having his territory of Guienne, upon the continent, put into a pofture of defence. Nor was he remiss in making treaties with several neighbouring princes, whose affistance he purchased, though greatly to the diminution of his scanty revenues. He even sent an army collected in England from the gaols, which had been filled with robbers from the former reign, and who were now made serviceable to the state. These, though at first successful, under the command of John de Bretagne, earl of Richmond, were, however, foon repulsed by the French army, under the command of Charles, brother to the king of France. Yet it was not easy to discourage EdA.D.

ward from any favourite pursuit. In

about three years after, he again re1296

newed his attempts upon Guienne, and sent thither an army of seven thousand men, under the command of his brother, the earl of Lancaster. That prince gained, at first, some advantages over the French at Bourdeaux ; but he was soon after seized with a diftemper, of which he died at Bayonne.

The king finding his attempts upon that quarter unsuccessful, resolved to attack France upon another, where he hoped that kingdom would be more vulnerable. He formed an alliance with

John,

John, earl of Holland, by giving him his daughter Elizabeth in marriage, and also with Guy, earl of Flanders, whose affiftance he procured, for the stipulated sum of seventy-five thousand pounds. From these assistances he entertained hopes of being once more able to recover his here. ditary dominions; and he accordingly set himself earnestly about providing money for such an arduous undertaking. This was not obtained without the greatest struggles with his clergy and the people; so that when he came to take the field in Flanders, at the head of an army of fifty thousand

men,

the
proper

season of action was loft; wherefore the king of France, and he, were glad to come to an accommodation, by which they agreed to submit their differences to the ar. bitration of the pope. By his mediation it was agreed between them, that their union should be cemented with a double marriage; that of Edward with Margaret, Philip's fifter; and that of the prince of Wales with Isabella, the French monarch's daughter. Philip was prevailed on to restore Guienne to the English. He agreed also to abandon the king of Scotland, upon condition that Edward should in like manner neglect the earl of Flanders. Thus, after a very expensive war, the two monarchs were obliged to fit down just where they began; and, instead of making preparations against each other, they resolved to turn the weight of their power upon their weaker neighbours.

But though this expedition was thus fruitlessly terminated, yet the expences which were requifite for fitting it out, were not only burdensome to the king, but even in the event, threatened to shake him on his throne. In order at first to set the great machine in movement, he raised confiderable supplies by means of his parliament; and

that auguft body was then firft modelled by him into the form in which it continues to this day. As a great part of the property of the kingdom was now, by the introduction of commerce, and the improvement of agriculture, transferred from the barons to the lower claffes of the people, so their consent was thought necessary for the raising any confiderable supplies. For this reason, he iflued writs to the sheriffs, enjoining them to fend to parliament along with two knights of the thire, (as in the former reign) two deputies from each borough within their county; and these provided with fufficient powers from their constituents, to grant such demands as they should think reason. able for the safety of the state. The charges of these deputies were to be borne by the borough which sent them; and so far were they from confi. dering their deputation as an honour, that nothing could

be more difpleafing to any borough than to be thus obliged to send a deputy, or to any individual than to be thus chofen. However, the authority of these cominoners encreased by time. Their union gave them weight;, and it became customary among them, in return for the fupplies which they had granted, to prefer petitions to the crown for the redrefs of those grievances, under which they supposed the nation to labour. The more the king's necessities encreafed, the more he found it expedient to give them an early redress, till from requesting, the commons proceeded to requiring; and having all the property of the nation, they by degrees began to be possefled of the power. Such was the constitution of that parliament, to which Edward applied for affiftance against France. He obtained from the barons and knights, a grant of the twelfth of their moveables, from the boroughs an eighth; and from the clergy he refolved to exact a fifth : but

he

he there found an unexpected resistance. This body of men, who had already felt the weight of his necessities, resolved to avail themselves of any pretext rather than thus fubmit to such an heavy and disproportioned imposition. The pope had sonre time before issued a bull, prohibiting the clergy from paying taxes to any temporal prince, without permiffion from the fee of Rome; and thofe of England, now pleaded conscience, in refusing to comply with the king's demand. They alleged, that they owed obedience to two loves reigns, a spiritual and a temporal; but that their eternal happinefs bound them to obey one, while only their worldly fafety led them to acknowledge the commands of the other. Edward was some. what mortified at their refusal, but employed their own arguments with great force againit them. He refused them his temporal protection, ordered his judges to receive no cause brought before them by the clergy, but to hear and decide all causes, in which they were defendants'; to do every man justice against them; and to deny them juftice even under the greatest injury.

In this outlawed situation, they suffered numberless hardships from every ruffian, while the king's officers remained unconcerned spectators of the ravages committed upon them, without incurring the hatred of oppreffive or vindictive cruelty. Whenever the clergy ventured from bòme, they were dismounted from their horses, and robo bed of their cloaths, the primate himself was-attacked on the highway, and stripped of all his equipage and furniture. These severities, at length, prevailed; and the clergy agreed to lay the sums they were taxed in some church appointed them, which were to be taken away by the king's offiCers. Thus at once they obeyed the king, without incurring the censures of the people. But tho'

these

« ZurückWeiter »