Page images
PDF
EPUB

as his father before him, in Normandy in the year 1135, after he had reigned thirty-five years and four months.

The cause of this war we have before assigned; to wit, the king of France's taking part with Anjou against Henry.

STEPHEN, KING of England, was son to Adella a daughter of William the Conqueror, and nephew to the two last kings; he laid claim to the kingdom of England in the year 1135, notwithstanding his oath to Mawd, the empress and daughter to Henry the first, to the contrary; wherefore, without looking abroad into France for any wars, his whole reign, which was eighteen years and about ten months, was, in a manner, taken up in intestine broils and contests about his right to the English crown, wherein he was stiffly opposed by several nobles, and by the said empress Mawd, and her son Henry, afterwards Henry the second, whom she bare to Geoffrey Plantagenet, earl of Anjou, and duke of Normandy; from whence sprang the noble family of the Plantagenets that so long governed England. He was once made prisoner at Bristol, and at last, notwithstanding he had children of bis own, was forced to adopt Henry for his son and heir, and the nobles sware feally to him accord. ingly.

HENRY II. SON of Mawd and Geoffrey Plantagenet, as aforesaid, at the age of three and twenty years, and even in the life-time of his mother, under whom he claimed, began his reign over England, in the year 1154. This prince, notwithstanding his domestic troubles, and famous atchievements against the Welsh, and his conquest of a great part of the kingdom of Ireland, so as he was the first of our English kings, that was stiled the Lord of that country, yet found opportunity to make war in France, upon several occasions ; the alliance he had made with the French court by the marriage of his son Henry to king Lewis's daughter, Margaret, proving rather an incitative to contention and discord, than a bond of peace

and amity. The famous city of Tholouse was chiefly the seat of this war, which was once and again bravely assaulted by king Henry, and as vigorously defended by Lewis. In his first expedition against this place, he was accompanied with Malcolm king of Scols, a Welsh king, and with others of highest rank and dignity in England, Normandy, Aquitain, Anjou, and Gascoigne. During his second expedition in France, the earls of Bulloign and Flanders, with six hundred sajl of ships, attempted to make a descent into England; but their undertaking proved frustrate and abortive, through the vigilance, courage, and prudence of Richard. Lacy, who then governed England. This king is famous, or rather infamous in history, for the many base children he had, being no less than nineteen in number; for his fair concubine Rosamond, for whom he built that celebrated labyrinth at Woodstock, the recesses whereof could not be penetrated into, but by insuperable jealousy,

VOL. X.

the queen, as it was said, by the help of a clew of thread, finding of her out at last, and so used her that she lived not long after : And no less to be mentioned for the troubles he met with, from that proud prelate 'Thomas a Becket; to whose shrine, after his murder, much blind devotion has been paid even by the greatest potentates. Though his son Henry, who was crowned king in his life-tiine, and died before him, gave him much disturbance, yet when he found, after his death, that others, and particularly his son John conspired against him, he was so stricken with grief that, cursing his son and the day of his own birth, he died July 6, 1189, aged 61, having reigned thirty-four years, and almost seven months.

The Causes of the war were, that king Lewis did incite the prince

bis son against the laws of nature to oppose Henry bis father. la the war time Lewis had promised, upon the word of a king, to meet him in order to a treaty, but he failed for his uwn ade vantage, whereupon Henry, beiny sensible of the fraud, sought bim out with bis army, and made him give ground; thereupon another interview being appointed, betwixt Terwin and Arras, histories relate that, as the two kings were busy in conference, there fell a clap of thunder between them, and meeting the next day, the like accident happened; which struck a consternation in both armies, as inclined the kings the more to an accomodation.

RICHARD I. WHO for his valour was sirnamed Cæur de Lion, was the third son of Henry the second, but the eldest when his father died, aged 35 years when he began his reign, the former part whereof was spent by him in the wars, in the Holy Land, William Longshamp, bishop of Ely, and chancellor of England, governing the kingdom during his absence. In this war, he signalised his valour to a wonder, having first taken Cyprus in his way thither; and, at Acon in Syria, so behaved himself, that he became an object of envy to other Christian princes, especially to king Philip of France, as you shall see hereafter; wherever he went, terror was his forerunner, insomuch that it grew common, amongst those Eastern people, to terrify their children with the apprehension of king Richard's coming. In his return, being driven upon the coast of Dalmatia, and thinking to pass home by land, incognito, he was made prisoner by the duke of Austria, who brought him to the emperor Henry, and was detained by him in custody for a year and five months, till he paid a great ransom. His unparalleled valour and bravery was the occasion of this misfortune. These and other princes bearing him envy, especially the French king, who invades Normandy during his absence, which obliged Richard to

make a peace with Saladine for three years, much to the disadI vantage of the cause they fonght for. Pbilip attacked Gisors and

had it surrendered to him and many other places, and then hasted

to lay siege to Roan, but found such a vigorous defence made by the valiant and noble earl of Leicester, that he was forced to quit his enterprise, and so returned into France. On the 12th of March, 1194, king Richard landed at Sandwich, was recrowned again, reduced the kingdom entirely to his obedience, which was much divided because of his brother John's pretensions in his absence, and, hearing the king of France had besieged Verneuil, he passed over into Normandy, and arrived at Harfleur with a hundred ships full of horsemen, armour, &c. the noise whereof so frighted the Monsieur, that he left the siege and went his ways. Whereupon Richard enters the French dominions, and takes in several strong places, but the noble Leicester had the misfortune to be taken prisoner, who afterward paid a great sum of money for his ransom, and soon after ensued a truce for a short time; which was no sooner ended, but Richard takes the field, possesses himself of the castle of Brisen, Novencourt, &c. the French king, in the mean time, besieging Albemarle, whither Richard hastening to succour the place, a sharp battle was fought between both armies, wherein the French prevailed, chiefly upon the account of the English being wearied with their hard march. But Richard had no sooner res cruited and refresbed his soldiers, but he laid siege to Miligio, took it, and burnt it down to the ground, wereupon ensued some overtures of peace; Albemarle, in the mean time, fell into the French hands, and ran the same fate with Miligio. Some three years after, Richard turned his arms against the barons of Poictiers that re. belled against him, with prosperous success, till at last besieging the castle of Chaluz, and having brought it to that extremity, that he would grant no other conditions but a surrender at discretion, he was shot in the left arm out of a cross-bow, with an invenomed dart by one Bertram de Gordon, of wbich wound he died the 6th of April 1199, after he had reigned nine years and nine months, and was buried at Fontererault, at his father's feet.

The causes were, that, while Richard went on so prosperously in the

Holy Land, the French king out of envy, and contrary to his sacramental oath, invaded Normandy, which forced king Richard to make peace with Saladine, so much disadvantageous to all Chrtstendom.

JOHN. THE brother of Richard, who died without issue, and youngest son of Henry the II, succeeded his brother to the prejudice of Arthur, Geoffrey his elder brother's son, who was the real heir of course. This Arthur in right of his mother was earl of Bretagne a France, so that, by this exclusion, England lost one of the best provinces in that kingdom; and, by advancing John to the throne, we not only lost almost all our possessions in France, but Fngland itself became vassal to the Pope, the clergy of those times growing strangely bigotied to Rome, and perverse to the king. King John was in Normandy, when his brother died, and though he wafted over into England, with all possible speed, to take possession

of the crown, and that his presence was so necessary here for to keep his new subjects in their obedience to him, yet he could make no long stay; for, before a year came about, he was forced to return into Normandy again, upon information, that Philip, king of France, had, with a powerful army, made an irruption into Normandy, who took the country of Maine, and several places from the English; the Britons at the same time possessing themselves of the city of Angiers, the towns of Gorney, Butenant, and Gensoline; Arthur doing also homage to king Philip for Anjou, Poictiers, Touraine, Maine, Bretagne, and Normandy. But soon after a peace was concluded between the kings, and thereby many places confirmed to the French king that he had taken, and others yielded up by John, upon the account of his Niece Blanch's marriage with Lewis, heir of France, besides 30,000 marks in silver paid to Philip; and all this to the great dishonour, as well as de. triment, of the English nation. About two years after this, to wit, the third of the king's reign, one Hugo Brune, a nobleman of Aquitain, raised a rebellion against king Jolin, in that province; but he and his adherents, being not able to withstand John's forces, made complaint of him to Philip of France, whereupon he was sumnioned by the nobles of France, as duke or earl of Aqui. tain and Anjou, to appear before the French king, and to stand to the judgment of his peers, which he refused; upon which the court adjudged him to be deprived of all his lands, which he or his predeçessors held of the king of France.

King Philip forth with raises a great army, invades Normandy, takes in many castles, and a great part of the country without resistance; but Arthur, duke of Bretagne, besieging the castle of Mirable, with queen Eleanor then in it, king John fell upon bim there, with such force and fury, that he routed his army, and took Arthur, and many others of note, prisoners. Arthur sometime after was sent prisoner to the tower of Roan, and was there barbarously murdered, some said, by king John's own hands; but in all this time Philip prospered ; insomuch that, in a very short space, king John was in a manner despoiled of all the lands he held in fee of the crown of France. King John once and again made great preparations to recover his lost dominions, and had the good success to destroy the French fleet, and recover the province of Poiciou, but his domestick troubles, both from his barons and clergy, prevented his further designs. Yet, about the fifteenth year of bis reign, having entered into a strong confederacy with other foreign princes, he set sail for Bretagne, and laid siege to Nantz, where a bloody battle was fought, the French king being once in great danger of his life; but at length proved victorious, and took many prisoners ; whereof of note were the earls of Brabant, Holland, Flanders, and Bulloign; the emperor, who was also at the battle, being driven out of the field : and 6000 marks, on the king of England's part, was the purchase of a truce for five years. Commotions in England soon followed upon the neck of this, and for male-administration, insomuch that, at length, Lewis, the Dauphin, was invited over by the barons, to take upon him

the crown of England, who came accordingly, with little opposition ; but, being soon after displeased with their new king, they resolved to cast him off, and so he was fain at last to depart from whence he came. This was an unhappy reign, but memorable for Magna Charta, and for building of London bridge of stone. This king died at Lyn, as he was marching with his army to fight the Dauphin, wben he had reigned seventeen years and about five months, and was aged 51 years, anno 1216. The first ground of this war was, that Philip of France did infringe

the truce made with England for five years, and invaded Normandy. Then, another truce being made, he violated that also, and still fomented the barons wars.

HENRY III. COMMONLY called Henry of Winchester, from his birth-place, succeeded his father king John, at the age of nine years, as next heir, maugre all the attempts of Lewis, the dauphin of France, whose forces were defeated at Lincoln, by the king's guardian and brother in law, the famous earl of Pembroke; and so from that time forward' things went worse and worse with him, most places yielding by land, and his fleet utterly destroyed by sea, by Hubert de Burg, Eustace a monk that commanded it being slain by Richard, a bastard son of king John. He yielded up his claim to the crown, and so returned with a glimmering of it into France. Henry, about the fourteenth year of his reign, determined to make war upon France; and, to that purpose, he assembled at Portsmouth all his nobility, knights, and such a vast number, both of horse and foot, as never was done by any of his predecessors, designing to have recovered all those territories his father had lost; but, when they came to be shipped, they had not carriages enough for half the army, which he imputed to the treachery of Hubert de Burg, his chief justice; and in a rage, drawing bis sword, would have killed him, had it not been for the earl of Chester that interposed. The earl of Bretagne, who was present, and bound by an oath to conduct the king to his country, and others, persuaded him to defer his expedition for that season, and so his mighty preparations for the present vanished. But, the year following, king Henry, with a mighty army, sailed into Bretagne, and after he had ravaged and committed great spoil in the country, laid siege to the city of Nantz; but, after the consumption of a vast treasure, and the loss of many men by sickness, and otherwise, returned into England the same year, but set all things first in order for the cona servation of the country of Bretagne, The French, making use of the opportunity of the king's absence, took the city of Rochelle, and 80, pushing on their conquests, reduced the whole province of Poictiers to their obedience, which king John, his father, had conquered; whereat Henry being nettled, prepared for another mighty expedition, but with the same fatal success as before : for, after several bickerings, wherein were lost many of his men, he

« PreviousContinue »