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Reign of Richard II. Part 2 page 4


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Lancaster had landed at Ravenspur, in Yorkshire, and was rapidly collecting an army and marching towards London. While the duke was brooding at Paris over the fresh indignity put upon him by Richard, who had sent the Earl of Salisbury to break off the match with Marie, Countess of Eu, daughter of the Duke of Berri, the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury arrived, bringing him the news of Richard's departure for Ireland, and the desire of the people of London for his arrival. To elude the vigilance 9f the French, court, he obtained permission to visit the Duke of Brittany, and he speedily set sail from Yannes for England. Three small vessels carried the whole of his invading army - namely, the archbishop, the son of the late Earl of Arundel, fifteen lancers, and a few servants, But he had full reliance on the spirit which then animated all England. He was quickly joined by the- Earls of Westmoreland and Northumberland, to whom he declared, in the White Friars at Doncaster, that he came only to reclaim the honours and estates of his father, which, wero secured to him by the king himself by his letters patent; and he swore to make no claim upon the crown.

His uncle, the Duke of York, as regent of the kingdom in the royal absence, advanced to St. Albans to oppose ostensibly his progress; but it could not be supposed that he was very hearty in the cause, after having seen one brother murdered by the king, and the only son of the other, the great John of Gaunt, expelled and thwarted by him. The favourites of the king, the Earl of Wiltshire, Bussy, and Green, who were not only members of the infamous council, but had been farmers and exactors of the oppressive taxes, showed a prudent doubt of any sure protection from such a champion as York. They had been appointed to wait on the young queen at Wallingford, but they took flight, leaving her to fate, and fled to Bristol, in expectation of meeting the king. York very soon took the same direction, no doubt in the desire to resign, as soon as possible, his responsibility into the hands of the king, for he felt that there was no reliance on his army.

Thus he left the way open to the capital, and Lancaster advanced along it with equal rapidity and success. The expression of Lingard is the most descriptive of his progress: "The snowball increased as it rolled along, and the small number of forty followers, with whom ho had landed, swelled by the time he reached St. Albans to 60,000 men." He sent before him letters and messages, in which he stated his wrongs and the grievances of the people. One to the Duke of York, entreating him not to

oppose a loyal and humble supplicant in recovering his sacred patrimony," is said to have drawn from the regent of the kingdom a declaration that he would second his nephew in so reasonable a request, and the army is reported to have received it with acclamations.

On all the estates belonging to his family he was received with rapture, and the people of London came out to meet him, headed by the clergy, with addresses of congratulation and offers of assistance. But he did not make much delay in the metropolis: all was evidently his own there. He therefore made a rapid march after his uncle, to prevent his union with the king's forces, should he arrive, and he came up with him at Berkeley. After a friendly message from Lancaster, York met him in the castle church, and the result of their conference was that York joined his forces to those of Lancaster. Probably he might credit Lancaster that he sought only his just demand of the enjoyment of his hereditary estates, which York had already avowed that he would aid him in. But from that moment the cause of Richard was betrayed, and his doom was sealed. York, on his authority as the king's lieutenant, ordered Sir Peter Courtenay, the governor of Bristol Castle, to open its gates; Sir Peter protesting that he knew no authority but the king's, yet submitted to the commands of York as regent. The next morning, the three late members of the council and farmers of the taxes, the Earl of Wiltshire, Bussy, and Green, were brought out and executed without any trial. The people had clamoured loudly for their blood, and were enthusiastically delighted at their deaths. The Duke of York took up his quarters at Bristol, and Lancaster, who must have had full confidence in the adhesion of his uncle, went on to Chester, where the people were most favourable to the king, in order to secure the city.

Meanwhile Richard, having received this astounding news, prepared to pass over with his army. From this resolution the Duke of Albemarle, who played constantly into the hands of the king's enemies, used every endeavour to persuade him. At length it was determined that the Earl of Salisbury should sail with his own retainers, only 100 men, and endeavour to raise the inhabitants of Wales, Richard promising to follow in a week.

Salisbury was successful. The men of both Wales and Cheshire flocked to the king's standard, and the earl looked impatiently for the king's arrival. But no Richard appeared; and it was not till nearly three weeks from Salisbury's setting out that Richard presented himself with the Dukes of Albemarle, Exeter, and Surrey, the Earl of Worcester, the Bishops of London, Lincoln, and Carlisle. If earls and bishops could have saved the throne, there was a fair array: but where was the army? Gone; melted away like a morning mist.

Scarcely had they landed, when the most general disaffection showed itself. The news of the Duke of York having joined Lancaster was fatal; and Richard, looking out of his window on the second morning after his arrival at Milford Haven, saw that his army had vanished. A council was instantly held in the greatest consternation. Some counselled the king to retire to his French provinces; but his evil genius, the Duke of Exeter, the quondam murderer, John Holland, strongly urged him to hasten on to Conway, where the Earl of Salisbury lay. If they could not make a stand there, they could still put out to sea for Guienne. This advice prevailed; but such was the confounded state of the royal councils that, instead of advancing there in a small but compact body, the king, disguised as a Franciscan friar, stole out of the camp at midnight, and, accompanied by his two half-brothers, Exeter and Surrey, the Earl of Gloucester, the Bishop of Carlisle, and a few other attendants, made their way towards Conway. As soon as their departure was known, the military chest was plundered, and Albemarle, Worcester, and most of the leaders hastened to Lancaster, the rest dispersing and getting away to their own counties as best they might, insulted and plundered on their way by the Welsh.

Still more overwhelming news met the fugitive king on reaching Conway. Instead of a fine army, there lay Salisbury with only 100 men, and destitute of all pro-' visions. While Richard had delayed his coming, all adverse influences had been brought to bear on Salisbury's host; disheartening rumours were circulated amongst the troops, and, in spite of Salisbury's tears and entreaties, they rapidly dispersed. The news which that brave commander had to give Richard when he inquired for his army is well expressed in the words of our national dramatist: -

One day too late, I fear, my noble lord,
Hath, clouded all thy happy days on earth.
Oh, call back yesterday, bid time return,
And thou shalt have twelve thousand fighting men:
To-day, to-day, unhappy day, too late,
O'erthrows thy joys, friends, fortune, and thy state
For all the Welshmen, hearing thou wert dead,
Are gone to Bolingbroke, dispersed, and fled.

In this deplorable situation the mind of the king seems to have lost all its wonted courage. He sent his two half-brothers, the Dukes of Surrey and Exeter, to his haughty rival to ask what were his intentions. They could very easily be divined. Richard was wholly in his power, wholly deserted, and it was not in the nature of Bolingbroke to let pass so tempting an opportunity of seizing a crown. While the two emissaries went on their unpromising mission, the king and Salisbury examined the castles of Beaumaris and Carnarvon, but, finding only bare walls, they returned dejected to Conway.

Meantime Surrey and Exeter were admitted to the presence of Lancaster at Chester, who at once detained them as prisoners. Here was already the traitor Albemarle, who was so gay that he could afford to taunt the fallen kinsmen of the king.

There have been various relations of the capture of Richard, but this is that which is left by two of his own suite, and may be found in the Archaeologia.

Lancaster having carefully informed himself of the retreat of the king, and that he had a considerable treasure deposited in the strong castle of Holt, immediately dispatched a body of troops to capture the money, and another, of 400 men-at-arms and 1,000 archers, under the Duke of Northumberland, to secure the king. Northumberland marched into Flint, and thence to Rhuddlan Castle, and about five miles beyond the latter place left his detachment concealed behind a rock. He then rode forward with only four attendants to Conway, where he was readily admitted to the presence of the king, who was in the highest anxiety regarding his brothers and the fate of their mission. The duke replied that his brothers were quite well at Chester, and that he was himself dispatched with a letter to his grace by the Duke of Exeter. In the letter Exeter was instructed to say that Richard might put full confidence in the offers made by Northumberland. These were that the said dukes, Exeter and Surrey, the Earl of Salisbury, the Bishop of Carlisle, and Maudelain, the king's chaplain, should take their trials for having advised the murder of Gloucester; that Lancaster should be made justiciary of the kingdom, as his ancestors had been before him; and, these terms being conceded, the duke would wait on the king at Flint, to implore pardon, and accompany him to London.

Richard, after consulting his friends, consented to the terms, but secretly assured his adherents implicated that he would stand by them steadfastly on their trial, and would take the first opportunity to be avenged on his and their enemies; saying he would flay some of them alive if he could, and that all the gold on earth should not induce him to spare them. He insisted on Northumberland swearing on behalf of Lancaster to the strict observance of the articles, and, "like Judas," says the writer of the account, "he perjured himself on the body of our Lord" - that is, lie swore on the host.

Northumberland set out, Richard reminding him of his oath, and telling him he relied upon him. He soon followed with a small company of friends and servants. On coming to a turn of the road, Richard exclaimed, "God of Paradise, assist me! I am betrayed! Do you not see pennons and banners in the valley?" Northumberland with eleven others just then came up, and pretended to be ignorant of any armed force near. "Earl of Northumberland!" said Richard, "if I thought you capable of betraying me, it is not too late to return!"

"You cannot return," said Northumberland, seizing Richard's bridle; "I have promised to conduct you to the Duke of Lancaster." A body of lancers and archers came hastening up, and Richard, seeing all hope of escape gone by, exclaimed, "May the God on whom you laid your hand reward you and your accomplices at the last day!"

They reached Flint Castle that evening, where Richard, when left alone with his friends, vented the bitterness of his regret that he had repeatedly spared Lancaster, when he so carefully destroyed other and far less dangerous men. "Fool that I was!" he exclaimed; "thrice did I save the life of this Henry of Lancaster. Once my dear uncle, his father, on whom the Lord have mercy, would have put him to death for his treason and villany. God of Paradise! I rode all night to save him, and his father delivered him to me to do with him as I pleased. How true is the saying, that we have no greater enemy than the man whom we have preserved from the gallows! Another time he drew his sword on me, in the chamber of the queen, on whom God have mercy! He was also the accomplice of the Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Arundel; he consented to my murder, to that of his father, and of all my council. By St. John, I forgave him all; nor would I believe his father, who more than once pronounced him deserving of death."

The next morning the fallen king, after a sleepless night, ascended the tower of the castle, and looked out anxiously for the approach of Lancaster, who had agreed to meet him there; and anon he saw him coming, at the head of 80,000 men. This vast army came winding along the strand to the castle, which it surrounded, and Richard beheld himself a captive in the midst of his own subjects. At this sight, and the reflections it occasioned, the once arbitrary monarch shuddered, and bewailed his fate. He cursed Northumberland in impotent rage, but was soon called to meet Archbishop Arundel, himself a rebel returned, without asking leave, from banishment, the traitor Duke of Albemarle, and the Earl of Worcester. They knelt in pretended homage, and Richard held a long conversation with Arundel. When they were gone, Richard again ascended to the tower, gazed on the great host of his revolted subjects, and feeling a dire foreboding of his fate, said, "Good Lord God! I commend myself into thy holy keeping, and cry thee mercy that thou wouldst pardon all my sins. If they put me to death, I will take it patiently, as thou didst for us all." I At dinner there were only his few remaining adherents, I and since they were all companions in misfortune, Richard would insist on their sitting down with him. While at their meal persons unknown came into the hall, and insuited and menaced him; and no sooner did he rise than he was summoned into the court to meet Lancaster.

The duke advanced to the king clad in complete armour, but without helmet, and, bending his knee, did obeisance with his cap in his hand. "Fair cousin of Lancaster," said Richard, uncovering, "you are right welcome." "My lord," replied Lancaster, "I am come somewhat before my time, but I will show you the reason. Your people complain that for the space of twenty or two-and-twenty years you have ruled them rigorously; but, if it please God, I will help you to rule them better." The humbled monarch replied, "Fair cousin, since it pleaseth you, it pleaseth us well."

The king's horses were ordered, and they set forward at once for Chester, amid a flourish of trumpets, Richard and the Earl of Salisbury riding on tired and wretched animals. The duke came behind. At Chester, after issuing writs in the king's name for a meeting of Parliament, Lancaster dismissed a great part of his army, and set out for London. At Lichfield Richard slipped unperceived out of his window, but was re-taken in the court, and was ever afterwards strictly guarded. On arriving at London, Richard was sent to Westminster, and thence to the Tower, while the hypocritical Lancaster went in solemn state to St. Paul's, and pretended to weep awhile at the tomb of his father, while in his heart he was congratulating himself on his successful treason. "We have two conflicting statements of the manner of Richard's entrance into London. Froissart says that he was conducted secretly to the Tower for fear of the Londoners, who had a great hatred of him; but other accounts accord with that of Shakespeare, copied no doubt from the chronicles, which make Lancaster conduct him thither in triumph.

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Pictures for Reign of Richard II. Part 2 page 4

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