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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 175

ried out ; the Queen would not consent that every poor, pleading petitioner should be driven from her presence. All deserving objects she insisted upon seeing in person, and, whenever in her power to do so, she redressed their wrongs or alleviated their distress ; indeed, the rolls and records of her period bear abundant evidence of her charitable disposition and good-heartcdness, whilst nowhere is an instance of oppressive extraction, haughty vindictiveness, veniality, or immorality recorded against her. In some cases she remits fees and fines due to herself from poor debtors, in others she obtains the like grace for similar unfortunates owing sums to the King; the entries of money given by her to poor widows and orphans are many ; whilst, at the risk of incurring the severe displeasure of her royal lord, she saved the life of Godfrey De Coigncrs, the goldsmith who made the crown for Bruce of Scotland. " We pardon him," says Edward, " at the earnest entreaty cf our beloved consort, Margaret." Nor did Margaret confine her liberality to the poor, for, in conjunction with her beloved husband, she afforded right royal encouragement to music, sculpture, and the fine arts. But whatever perfection some of the arts had ohtained in England at this period, that of medicine was at a very low ebb ; even Gaddesden, the court physician, knew of no better treatment for the small-pox than that of endeavouring to stare it out of countenance by a glare of brilliant scarlet. When the Prince of Wales was attacked with this disease, Gaddesden ordered him to be placed in a room where the bed was scarlet, the furniture was scarlet, the hangings were scarlet ; in fact, everything on which the eye»could rest, even to the dresses of the attendants, were of a bright scarlet hue. By good luck the Prince recovered, the treatment was deemed highly efficacious, and forthwith all who could afford it, availed themselves of the "scarlet system" in the cure of this dangerous disease. Neither Margaret nor Edward appear to have afforded much encouragement to literature. In fact, in 1300, the royal library—if library it deserves to be designated— consisted of only seven volumes—a British History, the Memoirs of Tancred, a romance, a treatise on agriculture, two religious works, and a book of chants, and the majority of these being absurd, trashy productions, not worth the trouble of diving into, we may presume that neither the King nor the Queen were great readers. In the reign of Edward the First, malignant fevers, the small-pox, and other contagious diseases, occasionally burst forth with alarming virulence in London, which the nobles attributed in a great degree to the lately-introduced practice of burning pit-coal as fuel. Quaint old Stowe, in his Chronicle, tells us: "This year (lSOU), upon sundry complaints of the clergy and nobility resorting to the city of London, touching the great annoyance and danger of contagion growing, by reason of the stench of burning sea-coal, which divers firemakers in Southwark, Wapping, and East Smithfield now used to make their common fires of, because of the cheapness thereof, and to forbear the burning of bavins and such like fuel; the King expressly commanded the mayor and sheriffs of London forthwith to make proclamation that all those fire-makers should cease the burning of sea-coal, and make their fires of such fuel of wood and coal as had been formerly used. Thus much I found in the record, the which I thought very necessary to set down, to shew the difference of former times with the necessity of that firing to be now so generally used, which at the time was so much disliked and avoided, not only of the better sort, but even of the common people, whereas, at this day, viz., in the year 1612, and the tenth year of the reign of King James, at which time I write this book, the aforesaid sea-coal and pit-coal has become the general fuel of this Britain Island ; used in the houses of the nobility, clergy, and gentry in London, and in aU the other cities and shires of this kingdom, as well for the dressing of meat, washing, brewing, dyeing, as otherwise. The greatest ruin and destruction of wood in this kingdom hath been the late making of iron and

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