Imágenes de páginas

only saved his life by exclaiming to a knight who had wounded him, I am Henry of Winchester, your king.” The corpse of De Montfort was mangled by the victors; but the people long cherished his memory, as the champion of their liberties; and the impulse which he gave to our constitutional freedom may be allowed to excuse great faults of personal ambition. The remaining partisans of De Montfort, whose chief strongholds were at Kenilworth Castle and in the Isle of Ely, were gradually brought to submission by prince Edward, who granted to them terms which are known as “the Award of Kenilworth.A parliament held at that place (Nov.1266) re-established the king's authority, on the condition of his observing the Great Charter.

The short remainder of Henry's reign was passed in peace. So far, indeed, was tranquillity restored, that prince Edward ventured to follow the impulse of his chivalrous spirit and the example of the French king by embarking in a new crusade (1269); and he was still absent when Henry III. expired at Bury St. Edmunds, on the 16th of November, 1272, in the 66th year of his age and the 57th of his reign. He was buried at Westminster on the 20th, and fealty was at once sworn to his son Edward, “though men were ignorant whether he was alive, for he had gone to distant countries beyond the sea, warring against the enemies of Christ.”

The period of nearly a century, from the death of Henry II. to that of Henry III., completed the transition from the Norman sovereignty to our English constitutional monarchy. The people had become one; and all between the greater barons and the villeins were equal in the eye of the law. Hence the readiness with which all classes united against the encroachments of the crown; and hence also the necessity, which the barons felt, of acting with the commons. Their close confederacy with the great boroughs is proved by the fact that London was always on their side, except when the king seized the Tower by force. The absence of Richard, the tyranny of John, and the weakness of Henry, forced their subjects to take into their own hands the settlement of that constitution which was founded by the Great Charter and finally established by the parliament of De Montfort.

During this period also was effected the fusion of the Anglo-Saxon and the Norman French into the English LANGUAGE ; and the germs of the noble Literature of the next age began to show themselves.

The 13th century was a great period too in the history of English Art; for in it was completed the transition from the heavy Saxon and the massive Norman architecture to that genuine and exquisitely beautiful ENGLISH style which is still unhappily called Gothic. Westminster Abbey, which Henry III. nearly lived to complete, may be taken as a type of the many glorious monuments of the art that our own generation is only now recovering.

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small]


EDWARD I.; EDWARD II. A.D. 1272-1327. EDWARD I. (1272–1307), surnamed LONGSHANKS, from his stature, was born at Westminster, June 18, 1239, and married Eleanor of Castile in 1254. He departed, as we have seen, for the Holy Land a few years after his father's recovery of his throne (1270). He first went to join St. Louis before Tunis; but finding that he was already dead, Edward sailed on to Acre, gained several battles against the Saracens, and took Nazareth (1271). One of the fanatic sect called Assassins penetrated to his camp and inflicted on him a wound, from which his wife Eleanor is said to have sucked the poison, and so to have saved his life (Ju. 12, 1272). He soon after made a truce with the infidels, and sailed from Acre on the 15th of August.

It was in Sicily that he received the news of his father's death,

and of the quiet state of the kingdom under the regency of his cousin the earl of Cornwall, the archbishop of York, and the earl of Gloucester. He spent a whole year in Italy and France, settled the affairs of Guienne, and arranged some commercial disputes with the countess of Flanders. At length he landed at Dover on the 2nd of August, 1274, and was crowned at Westminster, with his queen Eleanor, on the 19th.

Edward's attention was first given to the internal affairs of the kingdom. In a parliament held at Westminster (1275) he took measures for the due administration of justice, and for the suppression of robbery and peculation. In 1278 was enacted the Statute of Gloucester, under which commissions were issued to protect and improve the royal demesne and revenue, and to inquire into the encroachments made thereon by the nobles. Turning next to the Church, which had been enriched by large grants from Henry III., the king and parliament enacted the celebrated Statute of Mortmain, forbidding lands and tenements to be made over to ecclesiastical corporations without the king's permission. This statute was so called because the members of such bodies, being devoted to the Divine service, were dead in the eye of the law, and property held by them was therefore said to be in mortua manu (in a dead holding). In the same year Edward went over to France, and was confirmed in the possession of Guienne, at the same time renouncing all claim to Normandy.

He now turned his whole attention to the CONQUEST OF WALES. The mountains of that country had afforded a refuge to a large part of the Britons at the Saxon conquest. From that time downwards an almost constant state of hostility had been maintained by the incursions of the Welsh princes on the one hand, and the efforts of the English kings to subdue them on the other. The chief leaders of the Welsh had at length come to acknowledge the king of England as their feudal lord; and on such terms LLEWELLYN, the prince of Wales, had received pardon for his adherence to De Montfort. But he disobeyed the repeated summons of Edward to attend the parliament; and in 1276, when his betrothed bride, the daughter of De Montfort, was seized on her voyage to Wales, he broke out into open insurrection. Edward marched at once into the heart of North Wales, secured the passes, and advanced to Snowdon, Llewellyn's last refuge. The prince surrendered at discretion, returned with Edward, and did homage to him at Westminster for the territories which he was permitted to retain round Snowdon and in the Isle of Anglesey, and received back liis bride. But his submission served only to rouse the national spirit of the people to a final struggle for their independence. Their bards fanned the flame of patriotism with prophecies, ascribed to Merlin, which marked the present time as the epoch of their liberation. Llewellyn was reconciled to his brother David--who had in the former war placed himself under Edward's protectionand, in 1282, they stormed the castles of Flint and Rhuddlan, which Edward had built as the keys of North Wales. But, while Edward advanced with an overwhelming force, Llewellyn fell in a battle with the marchers, Dec. 11; and his brother David, hunted from hill to hill, was at length betrayed and taken prisoner. He was carried to Shrewsbury, where the king had established the courts of justice, was found guilty by the peers of high treason—that is, the crime of compassing the king's death-and suffered the full extremity of the horrible penalty of treason, which was invented for this occasion, and which has only very recently (1814) ceased to disgrace our statute-book. He was drawn to the gibbet on a hurdle, hanged and cut down before life was extinct, his bowels cut out and burnt before his face, and his head struck from his body, which was then divided into four quarters, and these were sent to different parts of the kingdom to be exposed for the terror of traitors (1283). The tradition-so familiar to us by Gray's splendid odethat Edward's vengeance was extended to a general massacre of the bards, does not rest on any sufficient authority.

Wales was now not only subdued but incorporated with England, and brought under the same forms of judicial administration by the “Statute of Wales," which was enacted at Rhuddlan, March 19, 1284. In the following month (April 25) the birth of his fourth son in the castle of Caernarvon gave Edward the opportunity, in a spirit of somewhat ironical conciliation, to restore to his new subjects a native “ Prince of Wales.” This title was conferred upon the young prince, afterwards Edward II., when, by the death of his eldest surviving brother, Alphonso, in the following August, he became heir to the throne ; and it has ever since been borne by the heir of the reigning sovereign.

Soon after these events Edward went over to Gascony (1286) and arbitrated a dispute concerning Sicily between the kings of France and Aragon. On his return, after three years' absence, he held a parliament to repress disorders, especially corruption in the administration of justice, for which all the judges, except two, were deposed and fined.

In the following year (1290) the Jews, who had suffered as much since Edward's accession in the name of justice as they had endured from lawless violence in former reigns, were finally banished from the kingdom. Their exclusion remained in force till the time of the Commonwealth.

Meanwhile the troubles of the KINGDOM OF SCOTLAND seemed to offer to Edward the prospect of uniting the whole island under one movereign, a prospect, however, not destined to be realized for still three centuries. We have already seen the kings of Scotland doing homage to the kings of England for their possessions in the ancient Northumbria; and Alexander III. had rendered that homage to Edward in the parliament at Westminster in 1278. In 1287 Alexander died, leaving only one direct descendant, his granddaughter Margaret, called the Maid of Norway, of which country her father, Eric, was the king. On the birth of prince Edward his father betrothed him to the Maid of Norway with the consent of the estates of Scotland. But the hope of the peaceful union of the two kingdoms was frustrated by the death of the young queen Margaret on her voyage to Scotland, Oct. 7, 1290. The crown of Scotland was now claimed by thirteen competitors; but the real question lay between the representatives of the three daughters of David earl of Huntingdon, brother of Malcolm IV. and William the Lion. These were John Baliol, grandson of Margaret the eldest daughter; ROBERT BRUCE, son of Isabel the second daughter; and Hastings lord of Abergavenny, son of Ada the third daughter. Balial claimed as the lineal descendant of the eldest daughter; Bruce as being one degree nearer to the common ancestor ; while Hastings claimed only a third of the kingdom, which was held by the estates to be indivisible. The parliament of Scotland referred the decision to Edward, who advanced to the frontier with a great army and summoned the competitors and the parliament to meet him at Norham Castle on the south bank of the Tweed. Here he announced his claim to make the decision as suzerain of the whole kingdom of Scotland, and sent back the astonished parliament to deliberate within their own border. Unable to resist, but unwilling to yield, the parliament kept silence. Edward then demanded homage from the candidates; and among those who submitted were Baliol and Bruce. Edward easily obtained the impartial judgments of the highest authorities in Europe in favour of the claim of Baliol, for whom, therefore, he decided, after receiving the renewal of his homage both on Scotch and English ground (Nov. 30 and Dec. 26, 1292). He now began to show his ultimate designs by summoning Baliol to London on trivial complaints, and treating him with marked indignity, evidently to drive him into rebellion, and Baliol returned with the resolution to shake off the English yoke.

An opportunity was soon offered by a war with France, in which Edward became involved by a collision between some Norman and English sailors, when the mariners of the Cinque Ports gained a

« AnteriorContinuar »