FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
'* The good people of England," say
they, "who are come thither to parlia
ment, pray our Lord the King that he
will, if it please him, have regard to his
poor subjects, who ace much aggrieved
by reason that they are not governed as
they should be, especially as to the arti
cles of the Great Charter, and for this,
if it please him, they pray remedy. Be
sides which, they pray our Lord the
King to hear what has so long aggrieved
his people, and still docs so, from day to
day on the part of those who call them
selves his officers, and to remedy it if he
The articles, eleven in number, are worthy of notice, as displaying in a short compass the abuses which harassed and irritated the nation under most of the Plantagenct Kings, and which were not completely remedied for more than a century after this time. They were, that the King's purveyors seized provisions without payment ; that additional duties had been imposed on wine, cloth, and other imports, which raised the price one-third; that the coin had been greatly debased ; that the stewards and marshals of the King's household enlarged their jurisdiction, and held pleas which did not fall under their cognizance; that no clerks wrere appointed to receive the petitions addressed from the Commons to the council ; that the King's collectors in fairs and markets took more than was lawfully due, and made a profit of the surplus ; that civil suits were delayed by writs under the privy seal ; that felons escaped punishment by obtaining charters of pardon; that the constables of the royal castles took cognizance of common pleas without authority, and that under pretence of an inquest of office, the escheators ousted men of their inheritance.
As the great object of the King was the recall of Gaveston, he met these remonstrances, startling as they were, with a favourable reply, and, by condescension and liberality, won over or quieted the opposition of several of the more powerful nobles. The office of hereditary high steward was confined to the powerful Earl of Lancaster, and gifts and grants were profusely lavished upon the
Earls of Warrenne and Lincoln, and
other influential barons. When Ed
ward was satisfied that he had by these
means sufficiently conciliated Gavcston's
enemies, he obtained from the Pope a
dispensation for the favourite, recalled
him from Ireland in June, 1309, and
shortly afterwards prevailed upon the
barons to consent that Gaveston should
be re-established at court, provided he
properly demeaned himself.
But Gaveston was too haughty and the King too weak to improve from experience. Again in possession of the ascendancy, the favourite, by displaying the magnificence of a prince, by indulging in all his former extravagances, by directing the King's attention only to feasting and rioting, and abovo all, by the fire of his insolent sarcasm, aroused the barons to even more than their former hate and indignation. Among other insults heaped upon the principal nobility, the witty minion added that of giving them contemptuous nicknames. The Earl of Lancaster being blunt in manners but elegant in dress, was sometimes " the old hog," sometimes " the stage player ;" the Earl of Warwick, who was passionate and frothy, was "the wild boar of Ardenne;" the Earl of Pembroke being of a dark sallow complexion, was "Joseph the Jew;" the Earl of Gloucester was "the cuckold's bird;" and all the others, according to their defects or singularities, received equally provoking sobriquets.
However, Gaveston was soon made to feel the foolishness of needlessly uttering unpardonable things. He repeatedly published his intention, of holding u grand tournament, but none of the great barons would accept the invitation ; and when at length the necessary preparations were made at Kensington, lists, scaffolding, in fact, every thing disappeared one dark night, and thus he waa compelled to abandon the project in despair.
Shortly afterwards, the Queen and the nobles again united to crush the wrongful, the galling supremacy of the King's minion. At a parliament held at Westminster, in February, 1310, the barons appeared in arms, and compelled