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Anjou, earl of Maine and Mortain, is now among the treasures preserved in the library of the British Museum. Metrical histories were common at the time of its production. It is written for the greater part in French verse or rhyme. onsidered as a poem, its merits are small, but as a narrative of facts it is exceedingly valuable, and the facts themselves are of the most moving and interesting sort. It offers an original circumstantial account of the fall of Richard II.; it bears sufficient internal evidence of its authenticity; and it has been considered as the best document of that kind, relative to the above fact, which has been transmitted to us. Its value has been well appreciated by many English writers. Among our old annalists, both Holinshed and Stow made great use of it, and from Holinshed Shakspere drew many of the materials which he wove into his grand and pathetic historical play. In more modern times, Tyrrel, Rapin, Turner, Lingard, and other historians, have made great use of this French metrical history, quoting it as an authoritative document of an otherwise very obscure part of English history. But the manuscript itself was never published in a perfect form until the year 1824, when the Rev. John Webb enriched the twentieth volume of the Archæologia with it, together with an admirable English translation in prose, and copious explanatory notes. From this translation, which, with the foot notes, occupies two hundred and forty pages of a quarto volume, we will select a few passages, which relate more immediately and personally to the ill-fated Richard.
Richard's expedition to Ireland, in the summer of 1399, opened the way into England to the exiled Henry Bolingbroke. Our French knight accompanied the king to Ireland, and wrote an account of the short but difficult campaign in that country. He was with Richard at Dublin when the fatal news was brought to him that Bolingbroke had landed on the English coast, that the Archbishop of Canterbury had publicly preached a sermon in his favour, and that the great body of the nobility, as well ecclesiastic as lay, had joined him. He describes how the king's face turned pale thereat, and how many
of the nobles with him treacherously detained him in Ireland for many weeks, with the view of facilitating the progress of Bolingbroke. He heartily sympathises with Richard, and still more heartily curses his rivals and the nobility and people of England, like one that has forgotten or that has never known the enormous faults and errors of the sovereign. Yet he honestly confesses that his partiality is owing in good part to Richard's fondness for Frenchmen. He says,
" I sincerely loved him, because he heartily loved the French ; and besides, he was humble, generous, gentle, and courteous in all his doings. He gave most largely, and his gifts were profitable. Bold he was, and courageous as a lion. Right well and beautifully did he also make ballads, songs, roundels, and lays. Though he was but a layman, so gracious were all his deeds, that never, I think, shall that man issue from his country in whom God hath implanted so much worth as was in him.”
At last Richard reached Milford Haven. But before he landed, a great army which had gathered in Wales for his service was either disbanded or won over to Bolingbroke. In his great fear he disguised himself like a poor Franciscan friar, and set out at midnight from his host attended by only a few persons, of whom our Frenchman was one. He travelled hard all night, and reached Conway by break of day. There he learned that his enemies had reported him to be dead, and that well-nigh all was already lost. He uttered many pious ejaculations ; but he knew not what course to take. At length he resolved to send the Duke of Exeter and the Earl of Surrey to tell Henry of Bolingbroke that he was doing much amiss, but that he, the rightful King of England, would pardon him and reinstate him in all his honours and lands, if he would but desist. Henry, who was at Chester, made Exeter and Surrey his prisoners. Upor receiving this intelligence, the king, who had "continued all sorrowful at Conway," with his intimate friends “all sad and distressed,” went straight to Beaumaris. There was strong castle there that could not have been taken in ten years, if it had only been victualled and furnished with a sufficient and faithful garrison. But there were provisions in none of the king's castles in these parts, and there was fidelity and affection to him in no place whatsoever. Not being able to stay at Beaumaris he went to Caernarvon Castle, which he found totally unfurnished.
* In all his castles to which he retired, there was no furniture, nor had he anything to lie down upon but straw. Really he lay in this manner for four or six nights, as, in truth, not a farthing's worth of victuals or of anything else was to be found in them. Certes, I dare not tell the great misery of the king.”
Richard returned to Conway, where he greatly bewailed his young absent wife, who, by this time, was in the hands of the Bolingbroke party. He also bewailed that he was by day and by night in danger of bitter and certain death. While he was lying at Conway doing nothing but bewailing his hard fate, the Earl of Northumberland waited upon him from Duke Henry, who prevailed upon him to put himself in his hands, and trust to the decisions of the English parliament, the earl, it is said, swearing upon the eucharist that no harm should befall him. Richard quitted Conway—where he certainly could not have stayed much longer—and soon found that he was a prisoner, for the Earl of Northumberland had placed a numerous body of troops in ambuscade on one of the mountain-passes.
“When the king beheld them he was greatly astonished, saying, * I am betrayed! What can this be? Lord of Heaven help me!' Then were they made known by their banners, that might be seen floating. And then were all in bitter dread. I could have wished myself at that time back in France. There did the king demean himself so very sorrowfully, that it was pity to behold !"
The Earl of Northumberland told him that he must carry him to Duke Henry; and they rode away together towards the Castle of Flint, the king still wearing the cowl and dress of a monk.
“ And now,” says our metrical chronicler, “I shall treat of the afflictions and sorrows of King Richard in the Castle of Flint, where he awaited the coming of the Duke of Lancaster, who set out from the city of Chester on Tuesday the 22nd day of August, in the year of the incarnation of our Lord 1399, with the whole of his force, which I heard estimated by many knights and squires at upwards of 100,000 men, marshalled in battle array, marching along the sea-shore with great joy and satisfaction, and eager also to take their rightful and natural lord King Richard; who, early on the morning of the said Tuesday, arose, attended by sorrows, sadness, afflictions, mourning, weeping, and lamentations. He heard mass most devoutly with his good friends, the Earl of Salisbury, the Bishop of Carlisle, Sir Stephen Scroope, and another knight named Ferriby, who, for no adversity, nor any disaster that befell the king, would desert or relinquish him. There was, moreover, with them one who was son of the Countess of Salisbury, whom King Richard had newly knighted in Ireland.
There was likewise Jerico, a Gascon squire,
who showed well the true love that he had for King Richard ; for never, for threats of knights or squires, nor for any entreaty whatever, would he put off the device of his lord the king.
King Richard, having heard mass, went up upon the walls of the castle, which are large and wide on the inside, to behold the Duke of Lancaster, as he came along the sea-shore with all his host. It was marvellously great, and showed such joy and satisfaction that the sound and bruit of their instruments, their horns, pipes, and trumpets, were heard even as far as the castle. Then did King Richard commend himself unto the holy keeping of our Lord and of all the saints of heaven.
And he spake to the Earl of Salisbury, to the Bishop of Carlisle, and to the two knights, Sir Stephen Scroope and Ferriby, weeping most tenderly, and greatly lamenting upon the said walls of Flint Castle. So that I firmly believe no creature in this mortal world, let him be who he would, Jew or Saracen, could have beheld these five together without being heartily sorry for them. While they were in this distress they saw a great number of persons quit the host, pricking their horses hard towards the castle, to know what King Richard was doing. In this first company were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Thomas Percy, and the Earl of Rut. land. . ,.,. These came the very first to the Castle of Flint, bearing the order of Duke Henry. The archbishop entered first, and the others after him; and they went up to the donjon. Then the king came down from the walls, to whom they made very great obeisance, kneeling on the ground. The king caused them to rise, and drew the archbishop aside, and they talked together a very long while. What they said I know not; but the Earl of Salisbury afterwards told me that the archbishop had comforted the king in a very gentle manner, telling him not to be alarmed, and that no harm should happen to his person. The Earl of Rutland, at that time, said nothing to the king, but kept at as great a distance as he could from him, like one that was ashamed to find himself in that presence. They mounted their horses again, and returned to Duke Henry, who was drawing very nigh; for between the city of Chester and the castle there are but ten little miles, which are equal to five French leagues or thereabout. And there is neither hedge nor bush between them; nothing but the seashore, and on the other side lofty rocks and mountains. And be assured that he made a fine show with them as they came; for they were right well marshalled, and their numbers were such, that for mine own part I never saw so many people together. I think that the chief captain of all the duke's army was Sir Henry Percy, whom they hold to be the best knight in England*.
“The king went up again upon the castle walls, and saw that the army was two bowshots from the castle. Then he, together with those who were with him, began anew great lamentations ; bewailing most piteously his consort Isabel of France, and calling upon our Lord Jesus Christ.
. . While the king spake, the host approached the castle, and entirely surrounded it, even to the sea, in very
Then the Earl of Northumberland went to Duke Henry, who was drawn up
with his men at the foot of the rock. They talked together rather a long while, and concluded that he should not enter the castle till such time as the king had dined, because he was fasting. So the earl returned to the castle. The table being laid, the king sat down to dinner, and caused the Bishop of Carlisle, the Earl of Salisbury, and the two knights, Sir Stephen Scroope and Ferriby, to be seated, saying thus : “My good, true, and loyal friends, being in peril of death for maintaining loyalty, sit ye down with me. In the meantime a great number of knights, squires, and archers quitted the host of Duke Henry, and came to the said castle, desiring to behold their king; not from any good will that they bore him, but for the great thirst they had to ruin him, and to put him to death. They went to see him at dinner, and published throughout the castle that, as soon as the duke should be come, all those that were with them, without any exception, would have their heads cut off. And they moreover said, that it was not at all certain whether the king would escape. At the hearing of this news every one had great fear and dread at heart for himself; because nature teacheth every creature to fear and dread death more than anything besides. For my own part,
I do not think that I ever was so much afraid as I was at that time, considering their great contempt, and how unwilling they were to listen to right reason or loyalty. And, forasmuch as nature constrained me to dread death, my companion and myself consulted Lancaster, the herald, who with a great number of persons had come into the said castle to the king : so I besought him that for the love of our Lord he would help us to save our lives, and that he would be pleased to bring us to Duke Henry, his master. Then he answered us, that he would
* The Harry Hotspur o Shakspere,