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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.


Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France, Spain and the Ajoining Countries from the latter part of the reign of Edward II to the coronation of Henry IV in 12 volumes 

Chronicles of Enguerrand De Monstrelet (Sir John Froissart's Chronicles continuation) in 13 volumes 

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Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 126

anxiety blinded his reason, and he at once became the Sovereign Pontiff's pliant tool. By a hull from the Holy See, his vow to fight the Painim in the Holy Land, was changed into that of undertaking the conquest of Sicily, after which the J-nglish werefleeced most unmercifully by the cunning agents of Borne. At one time the clergy were ordered to pay towards the projected crusade in Sicily a tenth of their revenues, by a bull containing the artfully worded phrase, that "Notwithstanding any former letters, indulgences, privileges, exemptions, or other grants under any form, nr for what cause soever, and notwithstanding aU objections which could be devised." There was no cavilling at these terms; it was either submit or rebel. The clergy chose the former. Emboldened by this success, the Pope shortly afterwards endeavoured to prevail on the Bishops, Abbots, and Priors, to each sign a note, acknowledging himself to have received from a merchant in Italy the sum of five hundred, six hun-« droa, or seven hundred marks, for the use of his church, and binding himself to repay it in a certain time. This measure, however, miscarried; the Bishop of London boldly declared, " He would die rather than submit to such tyrannical oppression." And when King Henry, who was no less exasperated than the nuncio at the bishop's opposition, told him he should quickly feel the effects of his insolence to his King and the Pope, he undauntedly answered, "Truly, the King and the Pope are more powerful than 1 ; hut if I lose my mitre, I can clap a helmet in its place." Matthew Paris, in alluding to these extortions, says,—" The sacred privileges of churches signify nothing, and though the Pope lias a power only for the instruction and enlightenment of the nation, and not for destruction ; yet the tax upon the clergy, which was granted at first but for three, is now changed into five years ; and, formerly, laymen paid tithes to the clergy, hut now, even the prelates are compelled to pay tenths to the laity. An aid was granted to succour the Christians in the Holv Land, and we are compelled to pay it to fight against the Christians of Apulia. A tenth was also granted by us to the King for tbe observation of the great charter, which notwithstanding is not kept, besides many other grievances then done to the clergy and the church by the Pope's means, though with the secret concurrence of the King himself." Finding it impossible to collect sums sufficient to quench the Pope's greedy thirst for money, Henry, in a fit of despair, exclaimed,—"Was the ocean filled with wealth, by the Gospels ! his Holiness would drink it dry ! I must renounce this grant of the Sicilian diadem, or there will not be a mark left in the country," However, on recovering from his despondency, he again made a strenuous effort to fill his coffers, and urge the discontented barons to embark in the chimerical crusade to Sicily. Attiring Prince ι dmund in the costume of a Sicilian monarch, he presented him before tho assembled parliament, with the following oration : " Behold, generous nobles, my young son, Edmund, whom the King of Kings has called to an earthly throne ! Oh, hard-hearted, indeed, must be they, who would deny so beautiful, so worthy a prince either money or advice to secure his regal dignity." This dramatic device failed of its purpose. The barons appeared at AVestminstcr, clothed in armour, and with so formidable an armed attendance, that Henry, in alarm, demanded if he was their prisoner. " No, sire," answered the Earl of Norfolk, "but we are resolved to preserve our rights, even at the hazard of our lives." The King having no power to resist them, complied with their desire, by shortly afterwards calling another parliament, when twenty-four barons were chosen, twelve by Henry, and twelve by the parliament, who drew up certain articles, which the King, on meeting them at Oxford, solemnly swore to observe. These articles, known in history as the Oxford statutes or provisions, owe their origin chiefly to tho Earl of Leicester. They had for their object the transfer of the regal authority from the crown to the barons, and although the step was a

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