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HE nobles were not overjoyed to hear of John’s death, since they had originally summoned Louis to bring them aid, help and strength only insofar as they could protect the liberty of the English people until either John would be compelled to return to his sanity or his son Henry would become of age to govern. And since neither of these things had occurred, they were afraid lest, if Louis gained power, England would forever come under French dominion. And this they thought more to be avoided than death. And so they greatly regretted that matters had come to such a pass because of domestic hatred. But Louis, wonderfully happy, acquired the sure hope of gaining the throne of England. Therefore with greater spirits and strength he continued his siege of Dover Castle, hoping its governor Hubert would freely surrender it soon. Which was so far from the truth that, when he was solicited by Earl William of Salisbury to surrender (he had been captured by Philippe in the battle of Boivines in Flanders, was freed, and had followed Louis), he was even more steadfast in his loyalty. Then Louis, not to lose the opportunity for success because of the siege of a single castle, hurried to London, and then as he marched towards Lincoln he took several castles along the way. Some write that as soon as he heard of John’s death he returned to France, which is incredible in word and deed. For if this Frenchman had been absent on the Continent at a time so opportune for a revolution, beyond doubt he would have lost the support of the nobles allied to him, and so encouraged his enemies that afterwards they would have sought to forbid his reentry into the island, or even easily have prevented it, because now they regretted having invited such a powerful and formidable man to come to their nation bearing aid.
2. While these things were being done by the Frenchman and the nobles, William Marshal, the leader of the royal forces, and likewise the Earl of Gloucester, conveyed Henry, nine years old, and the other sons of the king to Gloucester and there they summoned all men who had until now belonged to the king’s party. When they learned that John’s sons had been removed to a place of safety, without delay they hastened to Gloucester, and many more men who had gradually defected from the Frencmen came there of their own volition. Where, while the papal legate, that defender of the royal cause, together with bishops Peter of Winchester, Joscelin of Bath and Wells, and also Philip de Albiney and other nobles considered what was to be done, Earl William produced the young Henry before their eyes and spoke in this manner: “Behold this boy of excellent character, my lords, who has done us no harm either in his name or in that of any other man, who is ready to overcome his father’s mistakes and, when you will allow it, to free our nation from the domination of the French, who almost hold us in their grasp. So you should chose to appoint him your king, him to whom the kingdom itself is owed. Should he be cheated of this, being an innocent lad of his age, we should justly be called impious. For contrary to that saying, the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, we should be allowing Henry to be punished for his father’s sins. But I shall say no more words, since these are sufficient that you can be abundantly mindful of your duty.” After William spoke, the nobles, partly moved by his speech, and partly induced by the grace the boy displayed, agreed with William, and, taking good hope from this, they acclaimed William their king, and he was subsequently consecrated in the traditional way by the papal legate or, as some prefer, by the Bishops of Winchester and Bath, on November 27. This was the year of human salvation 1216. This Henry was the third of that name after William I the Norman, bequeathed by his father his kingdom, but not his wealth, which he did not possess.
3. Thus having gained the throne, Henry was entrusted to Earl William for his education in the goodly arts. And he, the more readily to reconcile men’s minds to Henry, quickly sent messengers into all parts of the realm with letters, to inform all men of the creation of this new sovereign, and to promise pardon and rewards to those who would enter into allegiance to him. And they were to promise great rewards individually to those who would remain in their loyalty, as they had done until now. And so it came about that the minds of his very happy friends were strengthened in their faith, and many others, allured by hope of forgiveness for their transgression and hope of rewards, defected from the Frenchman and came into allegiance to Henry, both moved by hatred of the foreigners and also by the kindness of their own countrymen, since, as it is said, dog does not eat dog. When this was reported to Louis he became afraid of betrayal, and there was nothing he feared more. So he reinforced the castles he had recently taken, and especially Hereford, with garrisons and returned to London to test the loyalty of the nobles. A goodly part of these had already cooled off and gone over to Henry, and the rest were anxious and doubtful whom to follow, and were busily engaged in taking counsel. For they thought it very unfair and unkind to abandon the Frenchman, whom they had invited to England and to whom they had bound themselves by oath, and yet they regarded it as unsafe to trust him further, since he, being a foreigner, was not wont to be of the same mind as an Englishman. And they were afraid because they, together with Louis, who had come to their aid in despite of an apostolic decree, had been excommunicated by the Pope. On the other hand, although their patriotism and the boy’s character urged them to follow Henry, they nonetheless thought this risky because of his age, which prevented him from waging war or managing affairs. For, just as there is nothing more advantageous in war than to have a single man by whose will everything is done, so there is nothing more pernicious than to have matters administered according to the opinion of many. And so one long-troubled party of the nobles, possessed by a sense of shame, decided it should not desert the Frenchman until it would be possible to leave him under more honorable conditions, or until the kings came to an agreement on fair terms. Therefore they went to Louis at London and deliberated about matters of state. At the same time Fawkes, collecting a large band of robbers, ravaged the land, villages and towns all the way from the castle of Bedford (which he possessed) to St. Albans, and particularly he cruelly sacked St. Albans itself together with its monastery, and, later repenting of this crime, he his said to have begged both St. Alban and the monks for forgiveness, and yet did not return the goods he had stolen. And such was Fawkes’ piety, and this is described as miraculous by some writers, as if an injury is to be reckoned according to the value of words rather than things, and satisfaction is to be made according to the calculus, although they would more correctly call it impiety.
4. Meanwhile the Pope thundered against and cursed this sinful war, which divided Peers of the realm from Peers, and friends from friends, and a truce was agreed between Henry and Louis for a number of days. This done, Louis crossed over to France, accompanied by Alexander King of Scots, and Earl William of Salisbury and many others defected to Henry. This thing greatly weakened both the strength and the spirits of the French. Louis returned a little before the expiration of the truce, and with great zeal sent his readied forces to besiege the castle of Lincoln, held by his enemies, while he remained at London with the remainder of his army. The French went to Lincoln (for the city was in their possession) and attacked the castle at two points simultaneously, inflicting doubt and fear on those within. While these things were being done at Lincoln, Henry’s army under the leadership of Earl William wasted all the countryside around Nottingham, and partly took, and partly besieged its strongpoints. But when he learned of the arrival of Louis’ forces, he ignored everything else and returned to Newark as quickly he could, and from there, having increased the number of their soldiers, he hastened to Lincoln, energetically encircled it with his men, and, to draw off the enemies from their siege of the castle more readily, he made an assault and ran up to batter the gates. Seeing all the weight of the battle to be centered on the gates, the French interrupted their siege of the castle and strove to fend off their enemy from the gates with arrows and rocks sent down from the walls. While both sides struggled thus, Fawke was admitted into the castle by the postern gate, together with a large garrison, and, emerging into the city from another part of the castle, he renewed the fight with the townsmen. The French quickly realized this because of the shouting, ran up, and, with every man urging himself on, they pushed Fawke back. Meanwhile the English under the leadership of Savarre de Mauléon (whom I have mentioned in my life of John) smashed down the gates and burst into the city. Here a hot fight was begun inside the walls, and for a while it hung in the balance, but the French and nobles were pressed from various directions and, gradually retiring towards the gates, turned tail in flight. These men were suddenly surrounded by English horsemen and either killed or captured. Some annalists wrongly relate that Louis was present at this fight and was taken prisoner, although I have shown he was headquartered at London at the time. When their enemies had been routed, the English sacked Lincoln, and, having great reliance on the confidence created by this victory, they hoped that the rest who had entered into Louis’ allegiance would hear of the battle and think no more of war. Therefore, this thing having been successfully performed, they hastened to the surrounding people, told them of the victory they had gained, and promised a better outcome for the entire war. Nor were they wrong in their counsel: wherever they went, a multitude of people would throw away their weapons, humbly meet them as they came, and surrender themselves.
5. Troubled by such a loss, Louis lingered at London, who he would not fall into his enemies’ hands by treason (which he regarded as the thing most to be feared), having sent for reinforcements from France. In the meantime he fortified the city, which at the same time William was already approaching with his victorious army, in order to besiege it. Seizing this opportunity, he wasted no time, day or night, making what plans needed to be made, doing what things needed to be done. But the English nobles, amidst all these things mindful of the benefit they had received from the Frenchman, who had come to their aid, industriously applied themselves to end this war between the kings in some good way, and managed to that every day new written peace conditions were offered to Louis by Henry. While these things were afoot, Hubert, the governor of Dover castle, had outfitted a fleet of some ships and sailed to encounter the French coming to England bearing help for Louis, and he defeated them in a singular naval battle. Learning of this, Louis despaired of help, and in its absence he estimated that there was no more opportunity for success in a hostile land. So he accepted the proffered terms of peace, accepted a very large sum of gold in exchange for the hostages he held, and then, forswearing both his right to and his possession of the English throne, he went home. But before that a papal legate had absolved him, together with all men who had belonged to his party, for their sin (for he had sinned in coming, contrary to the Pope’s command), and afterwards the nobles of England had honorably escorted him as far as Dover, as they should. King Alexander also retired to Scotland, whom in my previous Book I have shown to have come to England to help the Frenchman.
6. Unexpectedly freed of his present fear, King Henry, in order to win the minds of this subjects, proclaimed by edict that all those who had helped the Frenchmen would not be held accountable, and promised he would restore to the people their ancient laws. And in this way the kingdom given him was finally pacified. But this peace he had gained from foreign wars was not welcome to all men. For the young men who were accustomed to plundering according to the license of war, and lived day-to-day by their theft, were aggrieved that they had lost their freedom to steal. And so, refusing to hold their hand, they assembled and, with Fawkes their leader, first they ranged the countryside, capturing some undefended towns. And so, with robbers coming flocking from all directions, they were increased in their numbers, and this evil seemed destined to end in a great sedition. To prevent this from spreading any farther, Earl William with a large band of soldiers confronted them and stopped their onslaught more by his authority and that of some bishops than by force of arms. This same year, which was the year of human salvation 1217, was notable for the death of William himself. For England has produced few equals for greatness of mind or knowledge of military science. In this year, too, the legate Gualo returned to Rome and Pandolfo, a learned and upright man who with great fidelity and courage had delivered, put into action, and brought to completion Pope Innocent’s mandates to King John, was made Bishop of Norwich. After William’s death, Peter Bishop of Winchester, a most righteous man, undertook the tutorship of King Henry, and this boy was almost made an orphan, since in those days his mother Isabelle married Count Hugh de la Marche, to whom she had been betrothed prior to her marriage to John, as I have shown in the preceding Book. But so as not to seem degraded by this marriage, she nevertheless always continued to call herself a queen, and wanted to be greeted by no other name by all men, including her husband. And the Bishop of Winchester, fearing lest he had taken on a heavier burden than he could support, quickly appointed to the Privy council some nobles who were honest and upright men, to would lighten his load in giving good counsel and administrating the commonwealth.
7. In these same days Pope Innocent died, in whose place was substituted Honorius III, who immediately designated Cardinal Giovanni Colonna, a Roman, as his legate, who should go to Asia with those forces which Innocent had collected for that purpose. And so at Honorius’ urging King Andreas of Hungary, Count Henri de Jouverne, Walter, Chamberlain to the King of France, and other lords left for Ptolemais. When they had consulted with John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem, they decided to besiege Damietta, an Egyptian city, where they marched in full array in the month of May, during the year of human salvation 1218. This city was once named Heliopolis, after Helius Pertinax, who had enclosed it with a triple wall and brought a small part of the river Nile around it to make it like an island. At Honorius’ request Henry also sent to Damietta, now under siege by our men, Earl Ranulph of Chester with a great number of soldiers to aid Christendom, and his virtue in that war is celebrated by the wonderful praises of all men.
8. Henry, who had a little earlier inherited an ancestral kingdom devastated by civil war and dissentions, robbed of its wealth, and all but ruined, since he was oppressed by domestic poverty, was unable to help the Crusade and lead a decent royal life without the aid of his subjects. First he imposed a tax to wage that war, and then invented a novel form of income so that each man could do a part to relieve his king of poverty. If any man held lands of which the king was the landlord, and died before his heir had attained the age of twenty-one, then both the heir and his patrimony would come into the power and wardship of the king, who would receive the income of the property until the heir came of age. For by an ancient English custom, for the sake of preserving a heritage, the eldest-born son becomes the sole heir, or the daughter, if there are no sons. The king expressed his gratitude to everybody for this gift, and, lest their act of kindness be forgotten, undertook the careful tutelage of noblemen’s heirs, as being a thing of considerable use to himself. But this benefit turned out to be of no especial good for the nobles, for the other kings who followed, heedless of the reason why this was conferred by the nobles on Henry alone (so that he, who was a pauper, could by this means do a decent impersonation of a king), wished to claim this for themselves in perpetuity. What about the fact that this was a concern for them all, that not only kings but all landlords could batten on the heritages of dead noblemen in this same manner, as is now the case and is observed in accordance with established law? This one custom remains to be corrected by law someday, since this is of advantage to this man or that, is a disadvantage to the rest? Indeed it is come into practice that the supervision of those wards to whom heritages come is often auctioned off pro tem., as they say, by their landlord-tutors, so they may turn a profit and yet be free of the responsibilities of educating the children. And the purchasers (and both noblemen and upstarts do the purchasing, the only thing that matters is who pays the most) spend their money for this reason in particular, that they may marry the wards of dead noblemen to their own children, and this they do very frequently before the wards come of legal age. Their scheme is that, by having their wards live together with their own children, as they grow older they may be tempted by the itch of lust so that when they come of age and have mutually corrupted each other, the wards may not be able to repudiate these marriage-arrangements. And so, disfigured by early exposure to sex, they sometimes grow to be men, but because of the squandering of their powers they often become little men-monsters, degenerating from the quality of their forebears. And this works by far its greatest damage on noble families, because thanks to marriages of this kind men of low station commingle their blood with them and daily do more to contaminate their ancient stock, and the wards themselves, snatched from their mothers’ bosoms by these sales, are often schooled in bad morals in a strange household. And from this arise unworthy things of which I would prefer to keep silent here. A very limited amount of grace usually exists in these marriages, since noble men and women who are joined together prematurely, and often against their will, very very rarely love each other. And I pass over the question of how much noblemen’s patrimonies are damaged by their new possessors, who, greedily serving their self-interest, not only fleece them but do a fine job of swallowing them whole. And this was the gift of the Peerage, which greatly enhanced the royal wealth. Meanwhile our men in Egypt conquered Damietta. This enterprise complete, Earl Ranulph returned to England, leaving William de Albiney behind at the war with a fairly sizeable troop of soldiers.
9. The following year, 1219 A. D., was marked by a second solemn coronation of Henry at Westminster, so that he might said to have been made king by the decision of parliament, the factions now extinct. Likewise this year was distinguished by the translation of the body of St. Thomas the Martyr and the canonization of St. Hugh of Lincoln, and also by the death of Earl Henry of Hereford. On the same year Henry founded a church of St. Mary at Westminster, and some young men, stirred up by their hatred of peace, began to disturb the realm with new tumults, running about in the countryside and plundering like so many thieves. And many others were stirred up by the report of this thing, men to whose hearts murder and robbery were dear, and these quickly joined themselves to the others. And rumor of this new commotion reached the Welsh and aroused the chief of that region, Lewellyn, who invaded the fields of the English and most cruelly and foully harried all men. This matter was reported to the Privy Council, the members of which assigned the task of dealing quickly with it to certain noblemen. They assembled an army, and, dividing forces between them, some marched to Wales, and some went against their own fellow-countrymen, whom they scattered in a light skirmish. The leaders of the uprising were captured, and Henry readily had mercy on them, since he was a young man ignorant of the importance of even a small sedition in a people accustomed to wars. This clemency encouraged other traitors to try the same undertakings. Matters were settled in Wales with a similar result. For Lewellyn, learning of the arrival of the royal forces and being unequal in strength, cast down his weapons and freely surrendered. These things having been prosperously managed, the king, who had become daily more seasoned since boyhood, and was now coming quickly to age, now began to govern the realm in his own right. And since he was particularly minded to recover what his father had lost in France, he made Savarre de Mauléon governor of Aquitaine (the greater portion of which he still held), and at the same time he sent ambassadors to King Philippe demanding back all the places he had taken from his father John. They received the retort that nothing was to demanded back or restored which had been gained by right of a just war. And Henry had to rest content with that reply for the moment. But wonderful to say was the sudden transformation in the state of the realm, and how much better it had grown, thanks to the effort and care of the king himself, it is always much for the better to have the man in power perform his duty. Next, so that peace at home would not be disturbed while he waged foreign wars, he joined the neighboring Scots to him by a new affinity, betrothing his sister Joan to their king Alexander. Then too, Hubert de Burgh married Alexander’s own sister, who was named Margarete. Meanwhile, at the instigation of a certain townsman named Constantine, a great sedition arose at London, which would have become more widespread, had it not been quickly revealed by the effort and care of Robert Searle, the Lord Mayor for that year. Constantine quickly paid the due forfeit, being executed.
10. At the same time Philippe King of France departed this life, and was succeeded by his son Louis. He immediately entered into friendship with the Emperor Frederick II, to reconcile the Germans, who had previously been ill-disposed. Not much later Pope Honorius stripped this Frederick of his imperial dignity, because, after the death of his mother Constance, who had kept him in his allegiance, he marched against Rome and harried the papal possessions. The so-called Sultan of Egypt, moved by this, for he had learned of the quarrel between the Pope and the Emperor, assembled a greater army than ever before, thinking in this way he would terrify the Christian captains. But they, unafraid, went to meet him at the Nile at the behest of the papal legate Giovanni, who was in their camp. Here their canny enemy, feigning fear, retreated a little, so that our captains gained the ground they had held. Then the Egyptians threw open the cataracts of the Nile and quickly flooded everything, so much that the water was three feet deep in every part of the land. The imprudent Christians, astonished at this sudden evil, dealt with the enemy on the conditions that they must abandon Damietta and their captives, and they themselves would be permitted to retreat to Tyre in safety. Thus that right noble city, acquired by such a prolonged siege, was given back to the enemy in the year of salvation 1220. In the selfsame year were seen many many fearful prodigies, both in England and elsewhere, which were commonly thought to foretell that setback suffered at the hands of the infidel. For a huge comet appeared, and there was a violent earthquake. Throughout the winter preceding the catastrophe thunder was heard, accompanying frequent lightning, which is heard rarely in England even in summertime, with the result (as I have shown elsewhere) whenever it occurs it is taken for a prodigy. Likewise there were constant downpours, together with such great winds that many houses were blown over and the sea rose higher than usual. After the loss of Damietta, William de Albiney, who had been left behind with many armed men by Earl Ranulph of Chester returned homeward, but before he arrived in England he died of disease on the way. And King John of Jerusalem, who had no confidence in his own affairs, returned to France, and, receiving a great sum of money bequeathed him by King Philippe, came to England, and Henry gladly gave him hospitality and many gifts. He then departed for Spain, and when he was at Canterbury he visited the tomb of St. Thomas the Martyr, for which he donated four very precious sapphires as ornaments.
11. The ninth year of Henry’s reign was now at hand, a bad year at home and abroad. For at the beginning of the year the nobles made a demand for the restitution of the ancient laws, and the king placidly replied he would give what he had promised. But he was persuaded not to do so by some men who had been members of his father John’s household, and so, not negligent of his personal advantage, decided to rid himself of that nuisance by a clever dodge. He imagined he could do so with ease, if he were to ask back from the nobles what they had received as gifts from previous kings. And so that he would not be overcome, and to deter others from making this petition, he decided to go against the men responsible for that counsel. And so he readied a great army so that, if the need arose, he could crush his adversaries’ desire by force of arms, he first asked back from Earl Ranulph, the head of that movement, certain landholdings that had belonged to his own royal ancestors. And he, stricken with fear, promptly handed them over. This done, Henry so terrified the others that they did the same thing forthwith. And so they gladly held their peace, their strength in this way diminished. This was particularly so since they feared sacred recriminations, because Stephen Archbishop of Canterbury had threatened to excommunicate disturbers of the peace. Even though the good father of his nation did this, he nevertheless exerted himself so that someday these laws would be finally be recalled into use, which he hoped the king would do at his instigation. But he, cleverly enough, thought of offering good words more than of altering institutions. Many men, indignant at the king’s deeds, talked to one another in secret, so as not to see what they regarded as very grave even to hear about.
12. While Henry thus attended to matters at home, Savarre de Mauléon was not idle in Aquitaine. He was taking provisions against the perils he foresaw would come from the French king, when all of a sudden a pestilential dissension arose. For Earl William of Salisbury, who during those days had come to inspect the condition of overseas affairs, wished to do everything as he saw fit. For his part, de Mauléon, who was the governor, both virtuous and high-born, thought it was inconsistent with his dignity to obey another man’s commands in his own province, so he decided not to suffer this. And the ensuing quarrel was promptly increased by the English, who favored the earl since he was the king’s uncle, but began not only to disobey Savarre, but to despise him as a foreigner. And so he, lest it be held against him if he should perchance fight with the enemy, and if, because of this quarrel, the fight should not turn out well, as often happens, went over to King Louis, and the king, trusting in this captain’s virtue, soon joined with the Poitevins in declaring a great war against the English. Fawke also revolted. That man, ready of brain and hand, and very impatient with delay, had troubled neighboring regions with his inroads while he was at leisure and ruined them with his robberies. Fearing certain magistrates whom the common folk call Justices of the Peace, because they were threatening to punish him, he seized and imprisoned them in the castle at Bedford. Hearing this, the king was very troubled and hastened to the castle, captured it (though with no small amount of trouble), and sacked it. This slaughter so frightened Fawke and threw his mind into consternation that not long thereafter, sad and humble, he asked forgiveness from the king himself. Obtaining it with difficulty and banished, he went to Rome, where he despaired that he would be granted the time to die a more honorable death, and, overwhelmed by the awareness of his sins, he died. At this same time the Poitevins, partly because they were eager for a revolution, and partly because they were obedient to the King of France against their will, secretly indicated to Henry by letters and messengers that they desired to come under his allegiance, and therefore that they were ready by all means to defect from Louis as soon as possible, if only he would send protection so they could do this in safety. The king gave their messengers a friendly hearing, and, having promised his aid, enthusiastically began outfitting a fleet. Meanwhile Louis, recalling that in the past his father Philippe had refused the English king’s request to give back all the overseas places which he had taken from King John, immediately gathered an army, and chose Savarre de Mauléon as its captain because of his very well-known skill and greatness of mind. And thus, not awaiting his enemy’s arrival, he took the lead in setting out against the Poitevins, of whom he had his suspicions, and at his first coming he took Niort, and than went for the maritime city of La Rochelle. Its townsmen surrendered it in a moment, and, gaining it, he strengthened it with a garrison, lest this place, very opportune for men sailing from England, and which had long been loyal to the King of England, would be of use and advantage to his enemies. And Henry, quite ready for war thanks to his own resources, provoked by this insult, quickly sent his brother Richard, whom he had made Earl of Cornwall and Count of Poictou, over to Aquitaine with a great fleet, as a protection for his subjects. Obtaining a favorable wind, he swiftly sailed to Bordeaux and, landing his forces, hastened to the town of St. Macaire on the opposite bank of the Garonne. Here he stormed the castle on his first arrival, sacked the town itself, and subdued several nearby towns. This business successfully concluded, he hastened to beiege La Rochelle. Apprised of this, Louis sent Count Hugh of Champagne with great forces into Aquitaine as a protection to his subjects. Learning of his enemies’ arrival, Richard set out to confront them with part of his forces, took the French king by ambush while he as on the march, and inflicted a great slaughter. After this, the French king kept himself in camp and did not press his campaign, and Richard, thinking it sufficient to hold the Gascoignes to their allegiance (they had already communicated with Louis by messengers about a defection), broke off his siege and rested on his arms, while in England Henry dealt with his parliament so that money was publicly decreed to support this expedition.
13. At this time Earl William of Salisbury was so storm-tossed while returning from Aquitaine that he died of disease a few days later. Now the year of human salvation 1225 was at hand, the ninth of of Henry’s reign, in which year a parliament of nobles was held. In it, by the vote of the king and nobles, many privileges were conferred on the clergy and the rest of the people, and many laws were enacted with the following kings so approved that a good part of English law is gathered out of them, as is preserved in that little book called Magna Charta, and in another one commonly called De Foresta, which deals with deer forests. Likewise Cardinal Otto of St. Nicolas In The Tullian Prison, a man of consummate learning and integrity, sent as legate to Henry by Pope Honorius, arrived in England. He convened a synod of the clergy, in which he began to introduce many clerical reforms, so that they would pay an annual tax to the Pope at Rome, and this they refused to do. But, as others would have it (and I incline to agree with them), he merely asked a tithe from the priests to wage a Crusade against the Saracens, which he easily obtained. In the following year, when remnants of the Albigensian heresy survived in the district of Avignon, which a few years ago St. Dominic had repressed with wonderful speed after it sprung up in Toulouse, at the behest of Innocent III. King Louis of France, by the exhortation of Pope Gregory IX (who had succeeded Honorius) besieged the city of Avignon and finally reduced it to surrender, when these men’s crazed minds had been brought back to sanity. It is agreed that the Volscii once inhabited that city we now call Avignon. Henry did well by Christianity in that affair. For he was in all respects ready to invade France at the earliest possible moment to recover what belonged to him, but when advised by the Pope he volunteered to hold his peace, so as not to divert Louis from such a pious war. And Louis, having returned to France as a victor, departed this life not much later, and was succeeded by his son Louis, a boy twelve years old. His mother Blanche, a most prudent woman, undertook the responsibility of raising him. When she saw that he was possessed of a good character, but was at an impressionable age, and that many men were ready to deprave him, dazzling his good nature by holding the splendor of honor before his eyes or using arguments appealing only to his self-advantage, she allowed no man access to him save those whose morals she had already approved. So she gave him the best preceptors to educate him in the goodly disciplines, until he attained the age when he could properly govern in his own right. Meanwhile she herself ruled the kingdom, and this induced Count Theobald of Champagne, Count Hugh de la Marche, and Duke Peter of Britanny to enter into a conspiracy and defect from Louis. When the king was made aware of this, at his mother’s advice he assembled an army and marched into Britanny. But Theobald, having no confidence in his affairs and thinking he should yield, asked for and received pardon. But Hugh, stubborn in his purpose, went to his stepson Henry (for he had been married to his mother Isabelle, as I have shown above) and informed him the time was at hand for recovering the overseas places Philippe had taken from John, and he promised his help and resources so that this might be accomplished. The king, thus solicited by Hugh, decided he should undertake a war. Here historians do not agree. Some say that Henry promptly sent messengers to discover the sentiments towards himself held by the Normans, Bretons, and Poitevins, and when the messengers reported that those people were not unwilling subjects of the King of France, then for this reason he postponed the war for another day. Others say that, after he had extracted a great sum of money from the people, he straightway outfitted a fleet and sailed to the Bretons together with hugh, and, having wasted the countryside belonging to Brittany, he was pressed by the French king and went home, his business unfinished. But I would not affirm which version is true, since this one thing is agreed, that the English king achieved nothing, whether he sent messengers to sound out public opinion or whether he waged a war.
14. While affairs in France had thus cooled off, a few months later Richard returned to England out of Gascony, And when the king deprived him of a hereditary landholding, no small discord broke out between him and his brother. And within a short while this so enhanced the ardored of those nobles who followed Richard that, had the king not reconciled his brother to himself by giving back the landholding and conferring other lavish benefits upon him, they would have come to blows. This was particularly so because nearly all the nobility was ill-disposed towards him, since he had gradually taken away the immunities and privileges he had conferred on them at the beginning of his reign, in the traditional way. He had the very fair excuse that these were not his acts, since at the time he was not of age to rule in his own right, but his tutors’, and he offered these to the nobles to be purchased anew, garnering no small profit. But so as to appear to be consulting, concerned, and vigilant for the common good in some measure, he reformed weights and measures. And at this time he also made Hubert de Burgh Earl of Kent. Although this Hugh had originally gained glory by stoutly defending Dover Castle from Louis after John’s death, and because, as I have shown above, in a sea-fight he had conquered a new band of soldiers coming to Louis, nonetheless he finally covered himself with disgrace because, alienated from the nobility, he thenceforth encouraged the king not to restore to his people the promised laws and ancient customs. So it came about that every day he came to be more favored by his sovereign, and more hated by the people. And so this great man brought it about that the gratitude he had gained for so many good services was less enduring than it should have been. At the same time Pope Gregory sent many excellent men throughout Europe, to arouse with their sermons Christian men to take up arms against the Saracens, and within a short time a multitude of soldiers was assembled such as was never seen before, including, they say, 40,000 Englishmen. This huge army, making its way through Germany, Hungary, and Thrace, arrived at Syria, where, having ravaged its way over large tracts, it rashly confronted the enemy, and was routed in a singular battle. Its supreme leaders were Count Theobald of Champaign and Philip de Albiney, and their negligence was responsible for the catastrophe. In the same year in which our men fought badly in Syria, Stephen Archbishop of Canterbury died in his twenty-second year in office, and was succeeded by Richard Magnus, the forty-third in his line. While these things and others elsewhere were being done, for the sake of renewing the war against the King of France Count Hugh de la Marche solicited the Normans and Poitevins to defect at the earliest time possible, and they sent a secret letter to Henry saying they had decided to surrender themselves to him, if only he would be willing to take up his arms and cross over to France. They further told him that the time was right for doing this, because among the French the nobles and people were divided into factions, and finally that the success of this undertaking depended on his diligence and authority. Although the king hoped for a war, he nevertheless consulted with Earl Hubert of Kent about this entire matter before giving his response to the messengers. He, either because he recognized that the king was not yet mature enough to wage foreign wars, or because he doubted Hugh’s loyalty, advised that such a great war should be put off to another time, and Henry, adopting his opinion, replied to the messengers that he would come to France not long thereafter if he understood that his Normans and the other peoples were remaining in this wish, effusively thanking them for their great enthusiasm for himself. And in those days Lewellyn Prince of Wales captured William Branse, a warlike man, by a trick and strangled him, and both for this crime and for his other malfeasances Henry severely punished him a little later. That winter there were many prodigies: they say the sky gleamed with frequent fires, towers and steeples were stricken by lightning, and at midday the sky greatly darkened. Meanwhile, since he was daily invited to cross over to France both by Count Hugh de la Marche and Duke Peter of Britanny, having outfitted a fleet and gathered a great army, Henry at length decided to try the fortune of war and recover his holdings. At the beginning of March, and in the thirteenth year of his reign, he shipped his soldiers and set sail for Britanny, where he joined forces with the Breton and the Count de la Marche and marched to waste the French countryside. His army grew daily, as the Normans came flocking from all sides because of Henry’s reputation. Among these were the brothers Fulk and William Paganell, lords of no small utility, with 400 excellent men of war. Meanwhile Louis, had taken some towns belonging to the Duke of Brittany, including Ardon Campanel, , and Belesme. By frequent messengers he was informed of Henry’s arrival, and set out for the province of Anjou by forced marches. He encamped by the Loire, disposed his solders so as to bar the English from crossing the Loire into Poictou, for he had suspicions about its citizens. Learning of his enemy’s arrival, swifter than anyone would have imagined he crossed the Loire and pitched camp in the territory of Pictou. And then he went into the region of Saintes. Meanwhile the French king followed after his enemy, and learned he was two days away. So that he might always pursue him and obstruct his route, for Henry had leveled the towns of Pontanet and Villarin (which belonged to the de la Marche’s lieutenant Guy de Rupefort), crossed the river Charente, and was ravaging Saintes. Here, if we trust some writers, both sides joined battle, which was long, savage, and doubtful in its outcome. In the end the English fell back and the French came out the winners, with a great number of our men killed. After this battle, the kings adopted a peace. But in other historians we read that the affair was concluded by a truce, without any fighting, because Louis and Henry, both of whom were kings not yet come to their maturity and were as yet ignorant of the military art, easily heeded Queen Blanche and Louis’ uncle Philippe, who had inherited the position of Count of Boulogne from Reginald, who had died in prison, and also Earl Ranulph of Chester, who acted as the peacemakers. And so they ceased their campaigning, which I would say is very close to the truth. Then Duke Peter of Britanny and Hugh de la Marche at length returned to Louis’ good graces.
15. After the peace had been made, the English king left a garrison in Gascony, and made his way along the coast to the very fair city of Nantes, situated on the river itself, where he stayed a while. Then, at the end of summer, having accomplished nothing else memorable in that French commotion, he returned to England. And since he had spent much money on preparations for that war, he promptly imposed a tax of a fifteenth to allow him to undertake a new war against the Moors, a people of Africa who at the time were troubling Spain with their constant inroads. Having been asked by the King of Aragon to fight in his aid, he sent a great number of armed men as soon as he could, and King Louis did the same. Therefore, when joined with the English and French, the Spanish won a very excellent victory over the infidels. In those same days a great legal suit arose between Richard Archbishop of Canterbury and Earl Hubert of Kent. For he had occupied the castle of Tunbridge, together with the village and some holdings which indisputably belonged to the archbishop. So Richard lodged a complaint about this injury with the king. And when he saw this was of no avail, because Henry was seeking this property as a prize for himself, he applied a temporary remedy by publicly declaring the men who occupied those places impious, and then he hastened to Pope Gregory to make his appeal. The king and the count sent their agents, and they appointed the Pope the umpire to appraise and end the suit. Gregory carefully examined the cause and handed down a decision favoring the Archbishop of Canterbury. Richard, having gained his wish, died not far from Rome as he was making his way homeward, in the second year he had sat in office, and he was replaced by Edmund, the so-called Collegiate Treasurer of Salisbury, a very holy man, the forty-fourth in the line of archbishops. After Richard had died, the Pope’s ruling became null and void, since the see was vacant and there was nobody to pursue the matter. At the time Lewellyn of Wales, a man of a violent nature and greedy for loot, invaded England’s borders and wasted villages with fire, and fields with devastation. The king, informed by the locals, went off by forced marches and hastened to avenge the injury. But when they learned of his arrival, the terrified enemy quickly hid themselves in mountains and marches, in accordance with their national custom. The result of the was that the king, who could not accomplish anything worthy of himself, left a small garrison so he would not waste his effort, and with nearly the same speed returned whence he had come. After he left, the Welsh burst into the countryside once more, and not only plundered, but strove to destroy everything with blood and fire. While they were rashly ranging far around, they were surrounded by the royal garrison and suffered great slaughter. But their spirits remained unbroken and they gathered an even larger army. Learning of this, Henry was very irate that great audacity would exist in such a trifling prince as Lewellyn. So he pursued the enemy once more with much larger forces, and in a battle he finally bested him, even though this required great effort because of the unfavorable terrain. But since he lived a day-to-day existence by thievery, afterwards Lewellyn could not restrain his hand from making depredations.
16. With his wars ended in this way, the king convened a parliament of nobles and informed them that he was impoverished by the costs of these wars, and therefore asked them for a subsidy. This they refused to do, offering many excuses having to do with their own poverty and that of the people. Then Peter Bishop of Winchester, the most outspoken one of them all, openly advised the king to spare the people constant taxes. If he were needy, he should take back the holdings he had unwisely given to his followers in his boyhood, and strip of their office those greedy fellows who possessed multiple governorships. He should make them give an accounting and use them like so many sponges: for previously he had drenched them, now he should squeeze them dry, as Vespasian is said to have done. And he proved that by this means Henry would be quite affluent. The king was not troubled to listen to Peter giving such admonitions, and he followed his advice. With his money-men he promptly cast up accounts of income and expenses, and when he discovered that a goodly part of them had taken in more money than they had paid out, he compelled them to make good their debts, not without paying interest. Likewise he looked into the way magistrates administered justice, and a fair number of them were accused of bribe-taking and convicted. Among these was Earl Hugh of Kent, and when he refused to make satisfaction to the king, he was thrown in prison and dearly mulcted. This made the king’s mind all the more ill-disposed towards his ministers, and, just as he had entrusted more to Earl Hubert than the rest, so now he began to prefer foreigners to English nationals. This so offended the minds of the nobility that Richard, the head of the Marshal family, dared openly rebuke the king both on his own behalf and on that of the others. To which Peter Bishop of Winchester retorted that the king had done nothing concerning these things that was unconsidered or rash. For since he had reflected that the nobles of England had persecuted his father John with unfriendly arms and minds, and since he had lately discovered that the ministers he had nourished in his household were most disloyal, he was not wrong in preferring foreigners to his own countrymen. This stinging response of Winchester so pricked and wounded the minds of some of the nobility, first and foremost that of Richard Marshal himself, that they entered into a conspiracy, openly defected, and went their different ways to assemble an army. The king declared them all enemies of their country, confiscated their goods, and at the same time fetched a large troop of soldiers from Flanders so he might employ there help in a war. While this army was being readied by Henry, the exiles, under the leadership of Richard, joined themselves to Lewellyn Prince of Wales. Fearing the king’s arrival, they stripped the nearby countryside of all its food, drove off cattle, and braced themselves to offer resistance. Their plan was not wrong. For after a few days the king showed up with a large army and, invading Wales and finding no foodstuffs, he turned back to the territories of Worcester and Shropshire, and stayed there for a number of days. While his solders boldly ranged the fields and kept their camp unguarded, they were surrounded by the enemy in the still of the night and butchered. The slaughter would have been considerably greater, had not the rest who had been in the camp fled in the night to a nearby castle where the king was staying. The king, suffering this reversal, and since he had experienced other setbacks because of the unfamiliar and difficult terrain and the fortune of war, thinking that his revenge for so great an insult needed to be postponed to another time, returned to Gloucester.
17. In the following year, which was the year of human salvation 1233, and the seventeenth of Henry’s reign, England first suffered from famine, since an unaccustomed cold retarded the crops’ growth so that they could not ripen at the proper time. Then came a pestilence, ever the companion of famine. At this same time Richard Marshal did not cease wasting the adjacent countryside together with the Welsh, and daily some nobles deserted the king and caused him trouble. Then John of Monmouth, a strong and energetic man, the commander of the royal forces, collected a large army and quickly marched against his enemies. Hoping to catch them unguarded and unawares, he marched by night, so that a little before dawn, the time of greatest quiet on summer nights, he might the signal, overwhelm the half-asleep enemies, and slaughter them as they lay. But it turned out quite otherwise. For Richard learned of his enemies’ plan by means of his spies, and was the first to occupy he place so he could ambush his enemies while they were still on the march. So, while John, fearing nothing, was coming to that place, Richard made an assault, attacked this enemies, and they, overcome by sudden terror, did not follow the standard or their leader, so he scattered them, and then pursued them far and wide. A great slaughter was inflicted. For some of them the forest in which they had been ambushed provided a sanctuary. Together with a few others, John himself barely made his escape amidst the missiles. On the following day, William wasted with steel and fire some of John’s rural landholdings in Wales. Henry, who during those days was lingering at Gloucester, was angry when he heard of this disaster and consulted with his Privy Council what remedy he ought to apply to so great an evil. After various views had been proposed, they all agree that the the exiles were to be appeased with the sweetener of kindness, and that out of necessity peace had to be granted them. And they decided that Peter Bishop of Winchester and Peter de Rivalle, who was the prime instigator of the changes in Court, must be banished the realm, together with some other men of great authority, and the English restored to the royal household, the foreigners removed. The king approved this counsel, think nothing more likely to settle the present storm than this change. First he removed the Bishop of Winchester from his governmental offices and commanded him to go back to managing his diocese. Likewise he banished Peter de Rivalle and a number of other councilors who had aroused the nobles’ anger from his sight and presence, Then he took back his former domestics, and finally sent messengers of peace to the exiles in Wales. While these things were happening, Richard, learning that the wild Irish were continually plundering his land. went there from Wales in the company of Geoffrey de Marisco, an Irishman and a man of ready hand. Battle was joined, and Geoffrey, impelled by fear or error, abandoned the ranks and he himself was left to sustain the entire burden of the fight. He was wounded, and although he quickly routed his enemy, his ill-tended wound was the reason he fell in a fever. Gravely suffering from this, he died within a few days, a man supreme both for martial glory and loftiness of mind. Henry himself greatly grieved for his passing, declaring openly that he had lost the prince of all his captains. Afterwards, when messengers had returned from Wales and reported the exiles’ minds were inclined towards a reconciliation, at the instigation of Edmund Archbishop of Canterbury he summoned them to himself with a pledge of safe conduct, and, all quarrelling set aside, he gladly took them back into his good graces. Among these men were Gilbert Marshal, Richard’s brother, Earl Hubert of Kent, and Richard Seward, all grandees. When these things had been happily concluded and arms everywhere laid down under a safe condition, the king returned to London. And immediately he received report of a horrible crime committed by the Jews. For that dregs of humanity, which at this time lived at Norwich, had secretly kidnapped a little boy and fed him for an entire year, so that when Easter came around, as if to disfigure our religion with a new disgrace, they might crucify him. But a few days before they would have shed his innocent blood, these worst of butchers were accused and convicted of their crime and paid the deserved penalty.
18. In the following year Henry’s sister Isabelle was given in marriage to the Roman Emperor Frederick II, and at the beginning of the next year, which was 1235 A. D., the king married Eleanor, the daughter of Count Raymond of Provençe. Not much later he held a well-attended parliament at London, in which he enacted a number of very wholesome laws and assured that everything was done for the advantage of the commonwealth, by which the state of the realm would henceforth be greatly improved. But the more popularity he acquired by these services, the more confidently he sought to extract a great sum of money from them a little later, with the result that he was said to do nothing not done out of self-interest. And at this time strange prodigies occurred, and particularly this one. On May 1 various men’s shapes were seen in the sky, as if fighting a battle. This portent was followed by great rains that flooded everything. Now the twentieth year of Henry’s reign was at hand, the year of human salvation 1236, when crowded parliament of nobles was convened at Merton (a village in the County of Surrey about seven miles from London, the site of a famous monastery of so-called regular canons, founded by the Norman nobleman Gilbert at the time he entered England with William I). In this parliament many things were established for the benefit of the commonwealth, still in force even today. And at length they dealt with the imposition of a tax, but in vain. In the selfsame year Pope Gregory IX, scarcely to the king’s displeasure, sent Cardinal Otto to England as his legate, who inspected the condition of the clergy, introducing reforms as necessary. This man’s virtue was well known to all, since he had performed this office in previous years in a most laudable manner. And after he had been thoroughly instructed in what he had to do, he convened a plenary synod of bishops and the other clergy at London. In this, after a long discussion in which the Fathers aired their views, he enacted many laws which afterwards did much to preserve the dignity of the clergy. After this he imposed a tithe on all the clergy, to subsidize the Crusade. At this time the king bestowed his sister Eleanor, who had been married to Earl William Marshal of Gloucester, on Simon de Montfort, a man of singular virtue. Edmund Archbishop of Canterbury was offended by this marriage, since after her husband’s death Eleanor had vowed perpetual chastity for God. And because of this, the king began to grow angry at the archbishop, and not long thereafter he, daily suffering greater injuries, went to Rome to lodge his complaints about these insults with the Pope and because of other domestic problems. At the same time Frederick, intending to invade Italy, received a great number of soldiers from Henry, and they did him energetic service in the war. Meanwhile the king’s sister Joan, Queen of Scotland, was killed by disease in England during a visit to her brother. Also, Peter Bishop of Winchester departed this life. In the interim, Archbishop Edmund received no satisfaction for his petitions from the Pope, either because (as some historians say) the legate Otto hindered him because he bore a grudge against this holy man, or because many men held sanctity of life in low esteem. And so the good archbishop, not gaining his wish, returned to England, destined to suffer even worse vexations. In the same year one of the royal soldiers, a sturdy fellow whose name, as far as I know, is unrecorded, desired to avenge a wrong he had suffered at the hands of the king (as it is reasonable to believe) by some bold deed, decided to enter in to the royal bedchamber under cover of night and kill him there. And, so that he could more freely watch for an appropriate time and place without incurring any suspicion, he pretended to be mad. During the days he was planning this crime, the king was at his manor at Woodstock. And after carefully exploring everything, he stole into the bedchamber at midnight by means of a window and, flying at the royal bed, with his left hand he swept aside the bedclothes and repeatedly struck a pillow with is dagger under the impression he was stabbing the king, who, as it happens, had changed his bedchamber that night. The thing was witnessed by a lady-in-waiting to the queen who was keeping vigil, a clamor arose, and the king’s shouting servants came running, caught the fellow, and dragged him off to his execution. So the king came extremely close to being killed. From this we can learn that even a prince cannot do harm to anyone, even a man of lowest degree, without risk to his own life. And so better for every man to hold his hand.
19. At the beginning of the following year Henry fathered by his wife Eleanor a little son whom he named Edward in memory of that that third, sainted, Edward to had reigned a little before the Normans occupied England. The legate Otto baptized this child, and at his birth for several days a star of great size shone a little before sunrise, now showing fire before itself, now trailing smoke after itself, and it was carried over a long tract of the heaven in a swift course, showing both the future greatness of Edward’s father and Edward’s own puniness and vanity, as if by an oracular prediction. At that time Lewellyn Prince of Wales departed this life, and then there arose a protracted dispute between his sons Griffyn and David about his principate. In the end (and with Henry’s support) this was gained by David, although he was the younger. Griffyn himself was treacherously captured by his brother David and handed over to the king for safekeeping. A little later he was attempting to flee the Tower of London by sliding down a rope from atop a wall. The rope broke because of his weight, he fell, and was immediately killed. Likewise in those same days Count Thomas of Flanders, the son of the Count of Savoy, who had a little earlier married Joan, the widow of Count Ferrand, came to England was given a friendly reception by Henry. But Simon de Montfort received a much more elaborate and welcoming reception, and qualified by his virtue, counsel, reason, and piety to receive all grace from God and men. Because of his justice and prudence, King Philippe of France had given him the responsibility for waging the entire war against the Albigensians, a scurvy race of men that had suddenly sprung up in the south of France, and he gained a very noble victory. Afterwards, offended in some way or other by Blanche, the mother of St. Louis, he went over to Henry, who, as I have already said, bestowed on him his sister Eleanor, by way of a dowry giving him Leicestershire and entrusting him with very profitable magistracies.
20. At this time, too, the Emperor Frederick had been oppressing the Pope and all Italy with his war, when Pope Innocent IV replaced Celestine IV. This excellent, steadfast, diligent lover of his commonwealth, thinking he needed to resist Frederick’s uncontrollable lust, requested the wealth and assistance of Christian sovereigns. At the instigation of the legate Otto, Henry helped with his money, insofar as he was permitted by his kinship with Frederick. His bishops and the remainder of the clergy did the same. Hearing this, Frederick wrote a letter urgently requesting him not to help the Pope, but thanks to Otto’s shrewdness and energy the money had already been sent to the Pope and the emperor’s entreaties were in vain. More than anybody else, Edmund Archbishop of Canterbury freely criticized the legate’s frequent exactions of this kind, with which the priesthood was troubled, and not long thereafter he chose to prefer the freedom of exile to domestic servitude, and went to France to Pontigny and voluntary exile in the Cistercian monastery that belongs to the diocese of Auxerre, as I have said in Book XIII, in imitation of St. Thomas, who had taken refuge there, as an asylum for his innocence. Different historians give various reasons for his departure or exile. Some relate that Edmund, an upright and approved man, when he appreciated that religion was daily falling into greater neglect, and particularly that good priests were held in no honor, and that it was no longer in his power to have these ills healed by his sovereign, who did not heed his good advice, ultimately decided to depart from the king’s self-satisfaction, and to remove himself until the king, schooled by some reversal, would abandon his errors. Some add another reason. In accordance with a custom going back to William Rufus, the king was habituated to confiscate the incomes of vacant bishoprics and monasteries until he appointed some worthy man to preside over them, and, inspired by this profit, he deliberately allowed these holy offices to lie vacant over-long. Thinking this evil should be suppressed, Edmund obtained from the king that the responsibility for performing this office should reside exclusively with the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that by this means bishoprics and monasteries deprived of a ruler might be better ruled and these positions more quickly conferred on worthy governors. But when this had been observed for a while, and Henry had grasped that what he had granted a little while ago was not to his interest, he immediately revoked it and once more began to collect the income of vacant priestly offices, as he had done before. They say that Edmund regarded this action as so intolerable, and took it so hard, that in the end, indignant over this and for other reasons that would take me too long to enumerate, he entered his voluntary exile. This very holy man (and there was nobody at that time more praiseworthy for his probity, integrity, and piety), while he stayed at the monastery at Pontigny, disdaining wealth and putting behind him all the pleasures, as well as ambition and power, in exchange for the heavenly life he aspired to obtain, strove to subdue his body with frequent fastings to employ piety in his dealings with all men, and to pray God to defend religion against impious men in His England. And the reputation for his sanctity and miracles, by which he began to become famous, was soon known to all men, with the result that daily men came to see him from the far corners of France. But after a few months, suffering from ill health and hoping to recover easily if he changed his location, he removed to another monastery not far from Pontigny, where he was summoned to his ending. His body was conveyed to Pontigny in a well-attended funeral procession and consigned to the earth. And so this prelate, who had deserved excellently of religion, henceforth became so famed for his miracles that he was canonized by Innocent IV. He had sat for eight years. The see of Canterbury lay vacant for more than three years until finally by royal command the monks of Canterbury elected Boniface, a man from Savoy (i . e., he had been born in the territory of the Allobriges), as their Archbishop. He was the uncle of Queen Eleanor.
21. At this time the king’s brother Richard outfitted a fleet and sailed to Syria, where he was a wonderful help for Christendom. And asl, not much later, Earl John of Albemarle, William de Fortibus, and Peter Mauley, strenuous men, departed for there too, with a great troop of soldiers. Towards the beginning of the year, which was 1240 A. D., the twenty-forth of John’s reign, a dire comet appeared for nearly forty continual days. This year had nearly nothing memorable either at home or in the field. Having completed the third year of his legation, Otho departed for Rome. Peter of Savoy, the father of Boniface Archbishop of Canterbury, came to England, a very prudent man, whom Henry treated in a friendly way. Likewise Richard, the conflict between our men in Syria and the Saracens being concluded for the moment, came home safely, when a new war suddenly broke out in Wales, which turned to Henry’s advantage. For other Welshmen pitied the misfortune of Griffyn, because by treason he had been cheated of his ancestral principality and had been imprisoned (at this point he had not yet died), and the memory of such a great crime weighed on their minds. Therefore, while everything was ablaze with hatred and partisan fury, both sides ran to take up arms, and suffered great losses in a great battle. Hearing of these things, Henry thought that this strife between two brothers, one of whom he had in prison, and the other he had discovered to be an ingrate, would turn out for his benefit. So he came flying to Wales with a ready army, routed David, caught and executed the men responsible for the sedition, and returned Wales to his own power. And so this province, which always hated peace and troubled its neighbors, returned to English control. In this same year died Isabelle, the Emperor Frederick’s wife Isabelle, the sister of Henry, and there was a weird eclipse of the sun.
22. Then came the twenty-fifth year of Henry’s reign, notable for a foreign war. For King Louis of France a few days previously had made Alfonse his brother Count of Poictou, and he had for his wife Joan, the only daughter of Count Raymond of Toulouse, and for that reason was heir to her fortune. Together with the other nobles of Poictou, Count Henri de la Marche, Henry’s stepfather (whom he held in particular suspicion) was commanded to swear the traditional oath of fealty, as he rightfully should have done. But at the urging of his wife, who by all means did not wish to defer to the count’s wife Joan, he refused to swear his loyalty to Alfonse, and at the same time defected again to Henry. Encouraging the Poitevins to revolt, he wrote to Henry that he had prepared great forces, and was in high hopes because he was sure the Poitevins, the Bretons, and the Normans were ready for a new war, and so were only awaiting Henry’s arrival. Henry, having read Hugh’s letters and also one from the Poitevins, who assured tim they were ready to come over to him, convened a parliament of nobles as soon as he could and consulted about the waging of a war. Sentiments varied. Some reflected what efforts and warlike preparations had come to naught on other occasions, and thought it shameful to violate a truce with the French that was still in force, and so they vehemently tried to dissuade the king from waging war. Others thought this was a matter that should be postponed. Still others, although very few in number, maintained that they should fight the French until they finally recovered what they had lost and so often sought to regain. Nor was there any reason for them to be troubled about a violation of the truce, for it was not unlawful to strip a thief of what he has stolen. Nor should any great weight be assigned to the argument that on other occasions the business they had in hand had not gone well. This was no reason for voting against their opinion, since the fortunes of war are never the same and Mars is a god common to all mankind. This view, although it seemed to contain more spirit than sense, so pleased the king that, so far was he from heeding the other nobles urgently dissuading him, that he soon brought them over to his way of thinking by hook or by crook, and decided he would promptly assemble and army. Therefore he first turned his attention to the raising of money, and since in the preceding parliament all men had refused to pay a tax, by speaking amiably and with great artfulness to the wealthy, he got his money partly as a gift, and partly as a loan. This done, he charged Archbishop Walter of York with the governance of the realm, and, having outfitted a fleet and joined by his brother Richard, he set out for France. He landed his forces not far from La Rochelle, held by a large French garrison, and marched for Poictou.
23. While Henry was doing these things, Louis, who had learned of this new initiative for war, marched against the Count de la Marche, and, having captured some of his towns, forced him to a disgraceful surrender. Having finished this business successfully, he hastened against his enemy and at his first onslaught he regained some places which the English had left at their backs weakly guarded. Then he turned towards Taillebourg to join battle with Henry, who had retired there a little before. And at this point the annalists disagree. Some say that many in the French army were all but dead, partly done in by the pestilence, and partly by the bad air, and, since daily more men were falling ill and Louis himself was suffering, he was obliged, contrary to his hopes, to withdraw, having renewed the truce with the English. Others write that, not far from the river Charente, which flows past La Rochelle into the ocean, there was battle fought between the French and English kings on nearly equal terms, but in the end the King of England, deserted by de la Marche and unable to procure reinforcements, was compelled of necessity to enter into a truce with the King of France and go home to England, as he had often done on other occasions, his business unfinished. The more recent French historians make no mention that this second war was fought at Hugh’s instigation, and, wandering far from the truth, assign it another cause, and likewise often get things out of chronological order for the sake of varying their history, so that it is most difficult for anybody to give his assent to their accounts. But King Henry, to whom nothing was of greater importance than this war he had undertaken, did not return to England that year, but went to Bordeaux to pass his winter, and when he had spent his entire winter there, attempting much but accomplishing nothing except wasting his time and money while doing nothing worth the mention. So at the beginning of the following year, the twenty-sixth of his reign, he made a five-years’ truce with the French king and returned to England. Henry left behind Nicholas Molissus as his military governor, to be a protection to the coastal places which he knew to be loyal to himself, although he had no very great confidence in them. The truth of the matter was that those peoples, vexed by constant wars, were compelled to obey, now the government of the English, then that of the French, not according to their will, but rather as the evils of the time prompted them. This was especially so because the maritime towns had been sacked in such a way that they could offer protection to nobody. And so, since they did not have the power to resist, they were obliged to obey the victor, sometimes contrary to their wishes. The result was that the English king frequently made futile attacks on the French king, relying on townsmen exposed to this manner of injury, and, though he had been invited to make these attempts by the frequent change of will of the Poitevins, who, while they wanted their inclination to the one king or to the other to be blameless, nevertheless daily plunged themselves deeper into guilt by these forced surrenders. And Henry was often deceived by these things, just as his father John had been before him, they both risked their lives and wasted countless wealth, very rarely happy with a result that matched their wishes, as has been shown above. Now to other things. In those days William de Marisco, a brave and energetic Irishman, was executed at London with sixteen of his companions. He had been exiled a little earlier for sedition, had scraped together some ships, and troubled the sea with his piracy in order to gain revenge for his exile, which he himself called an insult. Likewise the king’s brother Richard married Cynthia (or, as some prefer, Sanctia), the daughter of Count Raymond of Provençe and the sister of Queen Eleanor, whom her mother Beatrix had brought to England. This most choice woman was received by the king with great magnificence, and enriched with many gifts upon her departure. The king, after celebrating his brother’s marriage with marvelous, lavish feasts and all manner of elegant games, and bestowing gifts on many, began to rekindle his enthusiasm for war, which he thought needed to be waged anew for the recovery of his lost property on the Continent. Therefore he brought the matter to his Privy Council, and the few nobles who favored it (if there were any) pointed out that war had been tried so may times, but never with a fortunate result, so that there was no more hope in arms unless they placed more reliance on their own strength, and less on that of strangers. Therefore they advised them that he should either hold his hand or wage a war of such a kind that he had need of foreign auxiliaries, then finally (so their opinion went) the victory previously denied them by the treachery of foreigners would easily be within their grasp. The king was moved by their arguments and decided nothing should be rashly decided concerning this war. But, so that afterwards he could have been said to have sought foreign help in vain, he confiscated all the landholdings which the Normans held in England, so that the Normans, and also the Bretons and Poitevins might understand he was in no way going to give further credit to the promises of strangers, for he wished to do everything on his own initiative, which is to say, to use his own Englishmen. And this was the beginning and end of the war, for the moment. But Henry brought no little disrepute on himself for having pilled and polled the Normans under a show of great-mindedness.
24. While there was a respite from war, the Welsh, who did not know how to keep the peace even when defeated, made David their prince once more, and at an appointed time they attacked the royal governors, unawares and off their guard, and routed them at their first onslaught, killing many. During the following night, while the Welsh were at rest, by the effort and zeal of their officers, the English reassembled, gathered their spirits and strength, and at dawn they attacked their treacherous enemy. Both sides fought a hot fight for more than three hours, and then the Welsh, who had entered the battle ill-advisedly, gradually fell back, then ran in flight to their customary lurking-places in forests and marshes. David fled into Scotland, having lost in that fight nearly all the soldiers he had. While he lingered in Scotland, he daily urged, inspired, and provoked King Alexander to wage war against the King of England, saying that the English were constantly laughing at the Scots as idle and weak, obedient to their own command, ready to do their will, and to live according to the dictation of others, and he invented many things that would raise the hackles of even the most patient of men, and provoke his mind to hatred. Furthermore, a few years earlier King Alexander after the death of his wife Joan (which I have described above), had married a second woman named Maria, who some say was Scottish, but others French. Relying on this kinship, he was more ready to break the bonds of amity, and began to threaten and despise the English, and amidst these things he readied an army and made inroads into English territory. When Henry learned of this, he was exceedingly indignant and with equal zeal he readied forces and led them into Yorkshire, and had set out from there to Newcastle when he heard that the enemy was not far away. He ordered his men into battle array. While these things were being done, some noble, thinking it unworthy that such a fight was being readied between the two kings for no substantial reason, so interposed themselves, labored, and dealt for a peace, that in the end the kings returned into each others’ good graces. This done, the king had scarcely arrived at London when, behold, the Welsh, afraid lest all the force of war would be turned against themselves now peace had been made with the King of Scots, decided to try their fortune once more. And so, after getting back their Prince David, who had stolen into Wales after the kings had arrived at concord, they suddenly attacked the English. But when they had rashly failed, with much loss of life, they sought their familiar lurking-places and were compelled to obey the English. In this way the king had been making constant preparations for war, and so not long afterwards he convoked a parliament and asked for money to cover his many expenses. When this was universally refused, by his customary art he extract it from the wealthier sort. Meanwhile England was shaken by a terrible earthquake, and many structures collapsed. Inasmuch as this was a rare thing in the island, it was all the more taken for a prodigy. But this catastrophe was far worse in France.
25. It was now the thirty-second year of Henry’s reign, the year of human salvation 1238, when a great parliament was held at London. And when at this meeting the king himself first raised the question of raising money, he was easily accused of avarice, ingratitude, and broken faith by his nobles because he was endlessly concerned with money-making, because for the most part he held his subjects in contempt, and because so far he had made good on few of his promises to his people. And he, thinking a confession of his mistake would be a remedy for their pain, said he would change his ways. And so, with the nobles’ minds appeased, in the end a tax was imposed for the war against the Saracens, and it was decided that some captains with a choice troop of soldiers would follow King Louis of France, who had gone to Asia the previous year and now was besieging the city of Damietta in Egypt. This pious king had vowed to undertake the war a little before, when tormented by a grave illness. Therefore William Longsword, a man of great counsel and virtue, with some others very skilled in the military art, and a number of soldiers not to be scorned, departed for Asia, and performed singular work in that war. Some bishops went there the same year to fulfil a vow. And also at this time certain traces of the blood of Christ, which had been preserved at Jerusalem, were given to the king as a gift by the Grand Master of the Hospitallers of Jerusalem, or, as some would have it, by the patriarch of that city, and he give this most precious blood to the monks of Westminster for safekeeping. Meanwhile, after many things beneficial for the commonwealth were enacted and done in the parliament, since a good part of the silver coinage commonly called grosses had been counterfeited or clipped, it was decided that henceforth these coins would be minted with a fixed weight, having the king’s image on one side and a cross on the other, and the arms of the cross would be extended to the edge of the coin, so that the results of clipping would be obvious, such coins would be regarded as counterfeit, and clipping would be a capital offence. Even now this form of silver currency remains. But I have some sources who relate that this kind of money is commonly called Sterling because it has stamped on side the image of a starling, a little bird, and this shilling coin weight one twenty-sixth of an ounce, nearly the same as today. And so all English money is still called Sterling. And they say the reason the shilling was marked by this starling because that bird was part of the arms of the kings of those times used, who were lords of many overseas possessions, just as nowadays kings are in the habit of including the insignia of the various realms where their writ runs. Another possible explanation is that that coin had a mark of a star on one side. Coins of that kind are also encountered today. The death of that excellent sovereign Alexander King of Scots occurred at this time, who had reigned for thirty-five years. He was succeeded by his son Alexander III, who not long after married Henry’s daughter Margaret. In the following year, when rumors flew thick and fast that King Louis of France had been captured by the infidels, and William Longsword and many of his men had perished in battle, Henry, who was most eager to support the Christians suffering in Egypt, made up his mind he must go to war as quickly as possible. Not long thereafter, when he was ready for his expedition, he was restrained by a letter of Pope Innocent, informing of him of the peace-conditions which Louis had been compelled to accept from the enemy. For he thought there was no need for fresh support when our men, having failed in their enterprise, were compelled to make peace with the infidels by any means possible.
26. For the following three years Henry, having lost this opportunity to wage war against a common foe, devoted himself entirely to domestic affairs and the strengthening of the kingdom, and he did this in particular. For out of his piety and graciousness he bestowed on the collegiate priests of St. Paul all the privileges of liberty enjoyed by the City of London. And so this would work no harm, he granted them seven pounds, which even now the Sheriffs of the city receive yearly out of the treasury. These things done, in the thirty-seventh year of his reign, which was the year of human salvation 1253, he crossed over to Aquitaine with a great number of soldiers, for he had heard a little earlier it was rife with sedition. And when he came there, he either captured or routed all the men responsible for these, purged the region, and there, so it would be more pacified, he spent his winter and at the same time decided to repair the places he had sacked. While he was staying there, he summoned his wife Eleanor and his son Edward, and since he could not bring to completion the works begun that winter, he spent the summer there too. And since he was now drained of money and had nearly drained his people dry with taxation, so that he would appear to have grounds for asking for money, at the beginning of March he sent his brother to England to report he feared a new war, since beyond doubt King Alfonso X of Castile was in arms and about to make inroads into the English province. He therefore should ask the nobles to help him with money as soon as they could, as he was sure they would liberally do, out of their patriotism. Richard set out quickly but cast his net in vain, as they say, right before the eyes of the birds. For, although he made many speeches to the Lords, they gave him no friendly hearing about paying a tax, since not all of them failed to perceive the trick. But, so that he would not return to Henry empty-handed, Richard demanded a huge sum from the Jews then living at London, since the nobles had refused him. The king was very irate about this, and he gradually now to rescind now this privilege, now that one, previously granted, using even the slightest occasion to penalize them for ingratitude. After these things, he dealt with messengers (men scarcely of meaner sort) with King Alfonso about forming a new kinship with his son Edward. For Alfonso’s father King Ferdinand III of Castile, had fathered three children by his second wife, the sole daughter of the Count of Poictou, Ferdinand, Eleanor, and Luiz. Ferdinand and Luiz died not long afterwards, and Eleanor was the sole survivor of the line derived from Eleanor. Therefore Henry, learning from messengers that the Spaniard would not spurn his kinship, partly to arrange this marriage, and partly to pretend he was seeking peace, sent his son Edward to Alfonso with a message of peace, but in truth to transact his own business with him, to ask for the hand of Alfonso’s sister Eleanor. And by that kinship all quarrels and discords (even if they had been pretended) would be brought to an end. Alfonso received Edward kindly, and gladly bestowed on him his sister Eleanor together with a great dowry, because by this marriage he obtained Ponthieu, which belongs to the region of Ambien (its principal town is Abbeville, situated on the Somme). With this business concluded to his satisfaction, Edward happily returned to his father, and explained to him what he had done. Henry was overjoyed because of this, thinking that as a result of this new affinity he could possess Aquitaine in greater safety, and because his son had prudently managed the task assigned to him. Afterwards he went back to England, after his year in Aquitaine, and traveled through France. And when he came to Chartres he was met by King Louis, who had returned from Syria a little before, and by him he was received lovingly and liberally, and was escorted to Paris with magnificent pomp. After staying there a few days for relaxations’s sake, he returned directly to England. And the City of London in particular rejoiced at his arrival. It had been harmed by his absence, since all manner of wares were cheap and trade had grown slow. But neither was it helped by his return. For the needy king, having noticed that the law was being violated by townsmen in some courtroom trials, and that a certain monk who had been condemned for theft had escaped the public jail thanks to the negligence of its warders, he therefore summoned Richard Hardell, the Lord Mayor, and the two Sheriffs, Robert Bellington and Ralph Aschew. He gave them an unfriendly greeting and mulcted them harshly. Not much later a parliament was held, in which great care was first taken for the state of the commonwealth, and, secondly, in order to provide him with greater experience with handling affairs, the kings son Edward was created Prince of Wales, and at the same time made governor of Aquitaine and Ireland. His younger son Edmund was likewise created Earl of Lancaster. Hence originated the custom for each and every king to make his eldest son Prince of Wales. At this time King Louis sent Henry the present of an elephant, an animal in all human memory most rarely seen, and because of its novelty the people came flocking to have a look at the beast. At the same time many prodigies were remarked by the common people: the sea ran abnormally high, a comet appeared, and higher places where stricken by lightning. These prodigies were followed by the death of Walter Archbishop of York, a man of great virtue, who had presided over that ecclesiastical province for forty hears. He was succeeded by Sewal, the thirty-fourth in the series, a man endowed equally with learning and integrity of mind. Then came a full three years in which I have nearly nothing memorable of which to write, for nothing was more important to the king than the extraction of money in all the parliaments which were held, and at this time he called them frequently, especially because Eleanor, the daughter of King Alfonso of Castile, had been brought to her husband Edward in England, and was received with great joy by young and old alike. Alexander King of Scots and his wife Margarete came to this marriage, and he was affably entertained by Henry. When the marriage had been celebrated, he gained back Huntingtonshire, which his grandfather William had lost a few years previously.
27. And then came the year of human salvation 1256, which was the fortieth of Henry’s reign, when a contention arose between the German princes about the election of an Emperor, after Count William of Holland, made Holy Roman Emperor a little before, was killed by the Frisians. In this contest two men were elected, King Alfonso of Castle and Henry’s brother Earl Richard of Cornwall, but neither was confirmed. And so Italian writers say there was an interregnum until the year 1270, when Count Rudolph of Habsburg was chosen by the German Electors, and was accepted by Pope Gregory X on the condition that the in the following year he would come to Rome for his coronation. But it is recorded in the English annals that Richard was created Emperor and was crowned by the Bishop of Cologne at Aachen, and gained rule among the Germans. Likewise they say that after the death of the Emperor Frederick Pope Innocent sent ambassadors to Henry asking help in removing the tyranny of Manfred, his son by a mistress, from the necks of the Sicilians, saying he had it in mind to make his son Edmund King of Apulia and Sicily after Manfred had been driven out, and that Henry, trusting these words, helped the Pope with his money. But that Pope’s biographers affirm neither of these things, since it is clear that Urban IV, the second Pope after Innocent, bestowed that kingdom on Count Charles of Anjou, who then came into Italy with army and was made King of Sicily by Urban’s successor Clement.
28. Since I have mentioned Richard, so as not to omit something worth knowing, I am obliged to go back in his life. He was endowed with a wonderful character from youth, and created great expectations. Later, having become a man of singular wit and prudence, he gained such a reputation among all men that Henry especially relied on his help both in his domestic affairs and in war, as I have said above, and he was called to rule Germany, as all historians agree. And whether he obtained this for the fifteen years he lived after his election as Emperor, as it pleases English writers to say, or not, as others would have it, it is agreed that he was such a man who gained deserved glory from his military skill and uprightness of mind, and can be compared to any ruler you care to name, Roman or English. When his life had run its course, he died in the village of Berkhamsted in England, about twenty-five miles from London, of which place he was lord. He his body was buried in the monastery of Hayles, which was built about twelve miles from Gloucester and which he had endowed with ample holdings, and placed Cistercian monks there. By his wife Cynthia he fathered sons named Edmund and Henry. This Edmund, while his father was ruling in Germany, being a singularly pious young man, when he happened to be investigating the monuments of German kings which pertained to divine services, is said to have discovered a certain golden chalice, and from its inscription he realized, as the story goes (and to believe this story is not inconsistent with our faith), that it had contained a portion of Christ’s blood. Eager to possess this thing, he dealt with its guardian in such a way that he obtained a part of the blood, which afterwards he brought to England with care and veneration. Debating where to place such a noble monument of our religion, at length he concluded that, after the death of both his parents, he should endow Hayles Abbey, where there bodies were buried, with this great gift. And so he donated a third of the blood to this place. He thought he should conceal the other two-thirds until he received a divine sign where he should bestow it to be kept in perpetuity. And meanwhile, applying his mind to the increase of religion, and (as is reasonable to believe) inspired by God, he built a monastery of excellent workmanship on a wooded hill that stands a little above Berkhamsted, where at the time he possessed a magnificent villa, of which a goodly part still stands. This good prince endowed the monastery with ample holdings, and gave it to be inhabited by a men of a new religion never previously seen in England, who are called the Good Men. These monks profess and observe the rule of St. Augustine, wear a blue habit of about the same cut as those worn by the brothers they call Eremites. In this monastery there have been at all times, and still are today, monks excellent for the sanctity of their life and their learning. And so Earl Edmund of Cornwall, after he first built this monastery, and then introduced the Good Men, and at last reverently paced the remainder of our Lord’s blood there with is own hands, a wholesome monument of Christian piety. For they say that many mortals who believe in this thing are healed from the gravest of maladies, who flock there daily, as if on pilgrimage to visit a proof of Christ’s passion. But let me return to the point where I digressed.
29. The Welsh, who, although conquered, nevertheless had a high opinion of themselves and were easily revived for a new round of warfare. When David died at this time, they chose as their prince Lewellyn, the son of Griffyn, who, as I have said, died in the Tower of London, and they defected from Edward, who had begun to lord it over them in too domineering a way. They either drove the English garrisons out of their castles or overcame them by deceit. When this was announced, Henry immediately ordered Stephen Bauzan, consummately skilled at the military art, to go against the enemy with a great number of soldiers. When he arrived in Wales, he was overcome in an ambush and died with a great part of his men. Angered at this, the king decided that the crime needed to be avenged more sharply. A few days later, therefore, he himself set out against the enemy with a larger army. The Welsh, terrified by his arrival, in their usual way retreated to their forests and marches, and for the moment thought that by no means should they join battle. Afterwards there were frequent fights with the sued, and they, never defeated but exhausted by prolonged war, at length asked for peace and, as will be told below at an appropriate place, obtained it. But Henry, thinking it beneath his dignity to chase his wild adversaries through trackless places, appointed Roger Mortimer governor of the region, and returned to London immediately thereafter. At the same time the tomb of St. Alban was discovered in the monastery dedicated to him, where miracles began to be performed more frequently than before.
30. It was now the year of human salvation 1267, and the forty-second of Henry’s reign, when a great number of Poitevins came flocking into England. Rejoicing in the unexpected royal favor they received, they began to carry themselves more lavishly and haughtily, and to demand back the landholdings they had possessed at other times. At the same time there came to England Odomar, a priest, William, Geoffrey and Guy, Henry’s half-brothers born to his mother Isabelle and Count Hugh de la Marche. They began to enjoy high favor with the king, being his kinsman. They likewise enjoyed supreme authority with him, took much upon themselves, vied with the nobles for honor, disdaining them, and were wonderfully inventive at finding ways to enrich themselves and other newcomers. And Odomar in particular was enhanced in dignity, for he gained the bishopric of Winchester, and then helped the rest with his wealth. The English nobility could not tolerate having this window thrown open for foreigners to satisfy their greed and arrogance, and they exclaimed that it was too unworthy for them to be basely scorned by foreign men in their own country, and that the king should not allow this, for it was in his interest to defend, help, and support his own subjects only. By saying such things the nobles in the end obtained that a parliament should be held at Oxford for the removal of this hatred and for the settlement of matters. When they had convened, it was decreed by parliamentary vote that all the Poitevins, together with other foreigners, should be deported. And so that neither the king nor Prince Edward could give them secret support, the nobles asked them to swear an oath that they would be content with these parliamentary decrees and give back the ancient laws and customs as soon as they could. Both did so, out of fear rather than of their own choosing. For the nobles, so often cheated, had come to the parliament in arms. Their spokesmen were Richard Caesar and Simon de Montfort, both of whom likewise took their oaths. It was easy to expel the Poitevins and the king’s brothers, but the promised laws were not restored, since they were hardly to the king’s advantage. In the same year died Sewal Archbishop of York, who was seceded by Godfrey, who died soon thereafter. Next came Walter Bishop of Bath and Wells, the thirty-sixth in the line of Archbishops of York. At this time there was a grain-shortage because of a drought, and people suffered so much from famine that men for the most part lived on meat and milk, and, obliged by necessity, ate various kinds of grass and roots, until nearby merchants, particularly Germans, relieved the people of England from such a shortage of grain by supplying it in abundance. For since these north Germans and inhabitants of the seacoast had been ready at all times to help the kingdom of England with their resources, they petitioned the King of England to affirm the privileges they had obtained from his successors, and to arrange anew that they could conduct their trade with his Englishmen more safely and easily. The king, moved by their recent kindness, and remembering that his father John had also used their help in the war he had successfully waged against King Philippe of France on behalf of Count Ferrand of Flanders, liberally granted them immunities and privileges, and remitted no small portion of their taxes and the duties on commodities brought into England. Even in our own day they pay less than other merchants, using and enjoying this sovereign’s generosity. It is worth knowing that these busy traders shipping their wares to and fro, importing and exporting goods from all over, have from the beginning formed a league called in the German language the Hansa, a word that signifies next to, or not far from, the sea, and so is very apt and appropriate for maritime peoples. They have a number of trading-posts in which they store their wares, and four in particular, one at Brughes, a city of Flanders, a second at London on the north bank of the Thames called the Steelyard, a third at Novogardia in Russia, and a fourth in Norway.
31. Meanwhile, while every man enjoyed the tranquility of these times in his own way, the people’s intention was different from that of the king’s. For the people congratulated itself that a decree was made at the Oxford parliament, by which it readily believed that liberty and laws were restored, and had begun to employ these. But since these were not ratified without royal consent, they daily demanded that he finally perform what he had undertaken upon his oath. But the king, seeing it was not in his interest to confirm these statues by vote of his Privy Council, and was sorry that these foreigners had been ejected from the realm, was minded never to satisfy popular desire in that respect. Yet he thought it dangerous to do this openly or quickly, and so he purposely decided to procrastinate until he could settle his external affairs in such a way that, should war break out at home, he would be able to resist his adversaries. Therefore he first dealt by his ambassadors with Pope Alexander IV, that by papal authority he not be bound by the oath he had given at the Oxford parliament, nor be compelled to stand by his promises. This he easily obtained, since he affirmed he had made this pledge out of fear and not of his own free will. Then, since many peace-embassies had gone back and forth between himself and the King of France, and he had accomplished nothing definite, he decided he himself must go to France so that in some manner he might finally settle the controversies he had with the French king. And so, immediately afterward, he went to King Louis at Paris. Here, a parliament being convened, after a long discussion about peace, they at last settled on these conditions: that the English king yield Normandy forever to the French king, who claimed that Rollo had originally taken it by violence, and that he had lawfully recovered it, together with Anjou and Maine. And he in turn would reimburse the King English king 100,500 marks for his expenses in war, and also pay him 10,000 marks annually by way of tribute. The King of England was to be content with Aquitaine, bordered to the north by the river Charente, and on the south by the Pyrenees. And so, since domestic war was impending, Henry was compelled to make peace with Louis on these terms. This was the year of salvation 1268, a year that witnessed much turbulence, much bitterness, and much sadness. Then Henry returned to England, and when he had come to London he retired into the Tower, immediately readied an army, and now began to say openly he was unwilling either to confirm the parliament’s decisions nor allow the people their use and enjoyment. When thee things were understood, great discords erupted in the nation. For each noble loudly complained that the king, having suffered losses of his overseas possessions, was trying to make everything worse at home. And so the call to arms went up everywhere, and the princes who sided with the people thought this insult was to be avenged by arms. The chief of these were Henry de Montfort, Hugh Spenser, Baldwin Wake, Gilbert Gifford, Richard Grey, John Ross, William Marmiot, Henry Hastings, John Fitzjohn, Godfrey Lucy, Nicholas Musgrave, and John Vesey, who, all being of one mind, chose as their leaders Simon de Montfort Earl of Leicester, Earl Gilbert of Clarence and Gloucester, Robert Ferris Earl of Derby, and other men possessed of great skill in war. For, so that Henry would acquit, perform, and observe the pledge he had given the people (whose champion and leader he was), Simon was compelled to go against him. The king, relying on the help of his brother Richard, who had returned from Germany a few days previously, was in arms, when certain nobles began to urge him to abstain from fighting and devote himself to a composition. The uproar was somewhat abated and a parliament held, but nothing was done which touched upon relieving the injuries, so they ran to arms once more. But before they could come to blows, they strove for peace once more and made King Louis their umpire for the settling of all disputes. When he delivered a verdict favoring Henry, the nobles, whose wounded minds required the medicine of mildness, not severity, were scarcely content with his judgment, which they claimed to be unjust. They invaded Wales, governed by Roger Mortimer, and Prince Edward came to his relief, but fell into an ambush and was captured.
32. Here there was another cessation from arms. For Edward, after pledging, undertaking, and vowing that his father would perform what he had promised, was released. But this young man, eager for revenge and more mindful of his injury than of his word, when he had returned to his own people, invaded Gloucester and, breaking into the town in a trice, sacked it. Then he went to Oxford, where his father had arrived a little before, and there he collected a larger army and, setting out, wasted all the countryside. Next they both joined arms and marched to besiege Northampton, Earl Simon’s town, and took it at their first assault. They hastened on to Leicester and took it instantly, when the townsmen surrendered it, and went on to Nottingham, burning houses and hamlets along the way. In these places were captured these knights; William Ferris, Peter Montfort, Baldwin Vacy and his brother Nicholas, Adam de Newmarket, Roger Beltram, Thomas Mansell, and a fairly large number of other nobles. This caused Roger Clifford, Henry Percy, Richard Grey, Philip Basset, Richard Sward, and Earl Hubert of Kent, fearful of their allies’ strength, straightway to defect to Henry. Having enjoyed success in these distant regions, Henry came back closer to his enemies and convened a parliament at Winchester in which he had all his adversaries pronounced enemies of their country. And good enough consultation and provision was had for the commonwealth, considering the times, Meanwhile Simon had gone to London, received the city into his allegiance and strengthened it with a garrison, and then hurried on to besiege Rochester. The governor of the place was John Warren, a strong and energetic man. The garrison within sustained their enemies’ onslaught until the king, bringing help to his followers, freed the city from its siege. Having completed this business successfully and leaving a garrison sufficient to protect the place, Henry set out for the coast facing France, intending to await the arrival of his brother William, Geoffrey and Guy, the sons of the Count de la Marche, with a troop of soldiers. They had been banished by the nobles a few months earlier, but he himself had summoned them from France. And soon they appeared. Increased by these forces, he turned back to Lewes, a coastal town and now the location of a monastery belonging to the order of St. Pancras, and pitched camp next to the town. Not much later Simon appeared with his army, encamped nearby, and wrote to Henry as follows: “I wish, Your Majesty, to clear my name, so that you do not hold to my discredit what I have done for the sake of the public weal. I have always placed the good of the commonwealth ahead of my private needs, and now I am compelled by that very oath I have taken for you and the people, which obliges you no less than myself to keep faith. And this you will easily discharge if you fulfil your promise. You should be aware that you are holding peace in your hands, if you choose to have a care for your own welfare as well as that of the realm.” The king replied to all these things, and while they bickered about their injuries more than they discussed conditions for peace, both sides were brought out in battle array and they joined in a fight. The Londoners were stationed on one wing of the king’s enemies, and Nicholas Polygraph commanded them. When Prince Edward caught sight of them from a distance (for he hated them worse than all the rest, since a few days previously they had greeted his mother Eleanor with insults and hisses as she left the Tower), he grew hot with rage, spurred his horse, and, giving a signal for his men to follow him, headed for them at the gallop, exclaiming, “Now, my soldiers, direct your weapons at these heads of all seditions and crimes.” The Londoners, being but ordinary soldiers, could not withstand the onslaught of the attackers, so turned and fled. Edward pursued eagerly, inflicting great slaughter wherever he went. But while in thus killing the enemy he rashly strayed far from the men of his side, he let a very fair victory slip through his hands. And so, just as nothing honorable comes from anger and fury, so does nothing useful. For when Simon saw that this fierce young Edward was pursuing the Londoners with his forces (and he himself placed no great faith in the Londoners because of their inexperience with martial discipline), then with higher spirits he exhorted his men and pressed the enemy, routing him in a moment. Meanwhile the victorious Edward returned to his side, but, since their battle-line was now turned, he was unable to recall it to the fight. Henry’s horse was stabbed on both sides, and he was taken prisoner together with his brother Richard, his son Edward, and other captains. The rest (including the three sons of the Count de la Marche) were partly killed, and partly beaten off and put to flight. Some writers report that Edward was not captured at that time, but that afterwards he and Richard’s son Henry came into their enemies’ power as hostages, so they would spare the life of his father Henry and his uncle Richard. The annals report that 6,500 men were lost from the royal army.
33. Immediately thereafter the nobles made ill use of this victory. For Earl Simon’s sons Henry, Guy and Simon, and another lord named Henry, who had distinguished themselves in the fight, were made so arrogant that, in comparison to themselves, they looked down on the other nobles and in their foolish pride they called Earl Gilbert of Gloucester by a dishonorable name. He, greatly offended, frequently lodged grave complaints with their father about his son’s cheekiness, and when he finally saw this was getting him nowhere, then, alienated, for the sake of avenging this insult he discussed this serious business with the other noblemen, heedless that their calamity was linked to the welfare of the commonwealth. For after a few days, with the help of this Gilbert, Edward, fled out of his enemies’ clutches and, going to Worcester, quickly readied an army. Earl Simon, hearing this and getting a new draft of soldiers from Wales, hastened to the village of Eversham, to reach the castle of Kenilworth, a fortress of elegant workmanship a little farther than three miles from the city of Worchester, to join himself to his son Simon, who had come from Yorkshire with a large band of soldiers. Learning of Simon’s plan, Edward and Gilbert quickly came up, blockaded all the roads, and offered battle to the enemy. Then Simon, seeing he could not march onwards without great difficulty, in that very moment drew up his forces, sending his baggage to the rear. He placed King Henry, whom he had brought along as a captive, in front of his battle-line and dressed himself in Henry’s armor, so that if the battle went badly, then while he, disguised as his sovereign, was being sought by the enemy, he would be able to gain safety by flight. The enemy were drawn up opposite, superior both in spirits and in strength. Both sides entered the fray, which long held in the balance. Among the first blows of the enemy, Henry did not fight, but by crying out revealed who he was. And this was his salvation, because he was recognized by his followers and rescued. When they first came to blows, the Welsh prepared to flee, and this spread panic among the rest. When Simon saw this, he exhorted his men and burst in amidst his enemies, and he was surrounded by their multitude and killed, together with his son Henry. When they learned of their leader’s death, a goodly part of his followers fled to save their skins. About 4,000 soldiers were killed, among whom were the knights Hugh Spenser, Ralph Basset, John de Beauchamps, William York, and a second William named Baliol, a Frenchman. The quarrel between Gilbert and Simons’ sons brought this catastrophe down on the nobles fighting for liberty. They say Simon’s body was foully and inhumanly mutilated. Thenceforth the steady opinion clung to men’s minds that this man, who lost his life fighting for his country and for the preservation of an oath, died a martyr’s death, and the sanctity of his life makes this undeniable. It is also remembered that this was proven by miracles. And so, even then, there were men who began to worship his memory as if he were a saint, and doubtless many would have done so, had they not feared angering the king. The king, rescued in this way from his enemies’ hands together with the Emperor Richard his brother, made for Warwick, the nearest town defensible by nature, and there he gathered an army and stayed a very few days, because he thought his first task was to pursue his enemies. Therefore he headed straight for the Isle of Ely, and easily subdued his enemies who where keeping themselves there, and easily subdued them. The other nobles who had taken up arms against the king, fearing for themselves, fled to London, a city which still remained loyal to them. Learning of this, lest his enemies have the time to ready their strength, the king hastened to London. But when the townsmen locked their gaits against him, he encamped next to its walls and energetically collected engines of war for a siege.
34. Now this civil war had lasted nearly three years, and it was the year of human salvation 1261, the forty-fifth of Henry’s reign, when Pope Urban, who had succeeded Alexander, learning of this intestine war between Henry and his nobles, send to England Deacon Othobon, Cardinal of St. Adrian, as his legate to remove all controversies and establish concord. He was at London when the city shut its gates against the arrival of the king, and since he had given the citizens advice contrary to their liking, he was thrown in the Tower. But while all men’s minds were inflamed with hatred, Earl Gilbert and other men of great authority showed by many arguments that even the worst peace within a commonwealth is preferable to the most just of wars, since victory in civil war is always grievous to citizens. And they dealt so that the Londoners and all the nobles who had previously been opposed to the king came back into his good graces, and from him they got back the goods and privileges of which they had been deprived, as I have said above, at the parliament of Winchester. But, although the power of redeeming their confiscated goods was offered to the others who were slower in returning to their sanity, they could not easily be induced to abandon their positions, with the exception of Robert Ferris. And Othobon was freed from imprisonment, who out of his kindness freely forgave the naive multitude for the insult he had suffered. Among these was Simon, Earl Simon’s son. For his two other brothers had survived and departed to France. Guy followed King Louis’ son Philippe as a mercenary. And meanwhile Henry, a consecrated priest who had been Treasurer of the see of York, was pursuing his studies at Paris. This Simon, after being reconciled to the king, ordered the castle of Kenilworth, which had been a holding of his father Simon, to be handed over, so that its ownership would not henceforth be held against him. But the governor, refusing to do this, fortified it with wonderful zeal, and prepared to offer resistance. Learning of his stubbornness, the king hastened to besiege it, and so that those within could not launch a sally against his own forces, he first of all built a wall around the place, and then turned over the work to his soldiers, who besieged it day and night. But many were wounded and a number killed, and a siege of nearly six months achieved little until famine began to rule within the castle, and so those within, having finally surrendered it, were sent away by the king, unharmed. After these things Simon, content with a yearly pension, ceded possession of Leicestershire and removed to France, where he was greatly honored as a man of much virtue.
35. Having finished this business and gained peace everywhere, Henry extracted a great sum of money from the people, especially to help his son Edward, who went to Syria to aid our Christian princes. This was the year of human salvation 1265, the forty-ninth of Henry’s reign. In this year Othobon convened a plenary synod at Northampton, and another at London, where, having placed religions matters on a more advantageous footing and passing laws which England uses even today, he denounced as impious all bishops who had not belonged to their sovereign’s party. And soon, since they repented their sin, he absolved some and required others to go to the Pope. These things done, in the following year he concluded his duties as legate and returned to Rome. And in the fifty-second year of his reign Henry called a parliament at Marlborough, a populous village of Wiltshire, as I have already said in Book XII. In his parliament he had laws he had previously passed, and particularly Magna Carta, ratified, which were most conducive to the condition of the commonwealth.
36. At the same time Prince Edward sailed to Asia with a great fleet to retake Syria, intending to wait at Ptolemais until King Louis of France, who was fighting the Saracens at the same time, came from Africa with a greater army, for such was the agreement between the Christian commanders. But while Edward awaited his allies, nothing came closer than his dying by domestic fraud. For once when he was alone in his bedchamber he received three wounds from a certain Assassin, who he had taken into his household a little earlier because he was accustomed to tell him much about the manners of his people. He barely escaped death, being helped by a chamberlain who clung to the Assassin hand until he was cut down on the spot by the other servants. The Saracens call these murderers Assassin, i. e., a treacherous race of men fanatic in their superstition, who think they gain eternal blessedness if they kill a public enemy in any manner at all and also suffer a cruel death themselves. But Edward recovered from his wounds, and learned that at the time Louis, whom he was awaiting, had died of disease in Africa. And so, abandoning any hope of success, he made a truce with the enemy and returned to England safe and sound. While he was in Syria he sent ahead Theobald, who had been elected Pope by the College of Cardinals and recalled to Italy, to whom he gave great gifts. This man had been serving as papal legate and attending to matters in Syria together with Edward, when he was created Pope at Viterbo. At the time King Charles of Sicily and Louis’ son Philippe were returning from Africa to Viterbo, so they could supervise the election of a Pope. For after the death of Clement IV there had been no Pope for nearly two years, until Theobald, elected at Viterbo, was installed under the name of Gregory X. Henry, the son of Richard, the Emperor and Earl of Cornwall, who had died a few months previously, also came to Viterbo at that time, to transact some business with the Pope, and there he was taken away by an evil destiny. For when this young man chanced to be attending services in the cathedral before the great altar, at happened that at the same time Simon de Montfort’s son Guy arrived too, in the company of King Philippe, whom, as I have said above, he served as a mercenary, and then had left for Italy, to the court of King Charles. When he saw Henry from a distance, he became inflamed with rage and, attacking him unawares, killed him with a blow or two. Thus he avenged the death of his father Simon, killed, as I have said above, in the battle at Eversham, where the harshness of Henry and Richard, the father of this Henry, was visited on his body even after death. And after killing Henry, Guy safely escaped to his father-in-law Count Rufus of Nola, who was governor of Tuscany at the time, with no man pursuing them. For this the King of England afterwards blamed both King Philippe and King Charles, for they should never have allowed such a great crime to be committed in their sight with impunity.
37. While these things were being done, the year of human salvation 1271 came around, the fifty-fifth of Henry’s reign, when Boniface Archbishop of Canterbury died in his seventeenth year in office, and three years later Pope Gregory replaced him with Robert, the forty-sixth in his line. At this time there arose a great discord between the monks and townsmen of Norwich, which quickly brewed up to the point that the people launched an attack and set the cathedral afire. After this crime had been committed the king hurried there, and when he had executed the perpetrators of this unholy arson he went to the monastery of St. Edmund to fulfill a vow. On this journey he began to feel poorly, but he recovered a little and held a parliament there. But then the disease overcame him and he dismissed the meeting, and returned to London as quickly as he could, for he felt he was being called to the end of this life. And there he departed this life on November 16 of the year of human salvation 1271. He lived sixty-five years, and reigned for fifty-six. His body was carried to Westminster for burial. By Eleanor he fathered two sons, Edward Prince of Wales, who succeeded him, and Earl Edmund of Lancaster. This place requires me to make a brief digression. Long afterwards there were those who claimed this Edmund to have been King Henry’s elder son, and that Edward gained the throne because Edmund suffered from a deformity. And from this afterwards arose two factions, I mean those two most noble families, the one that used the white rose for its badge and the other the red, as will be told in greater detail below. They manufactured this lie so they might prove that Henry IV gained the kingship lawfully, since he traced his lineage to Edmund, and he usurped and held the throne by violence. Now I return to my subject. Henry also fathered three daughters, Margaret, whom he bestowed on Alexander King of Scots, Beatrice, who married the Duke of Britanny, and Catharine, who died before attaining marriageable age. He was possessed of a compact and strong body, just stature, and an honest enough face. One eyelid drooped, so that it almost covered the pupil. He had a mild nature, a mind you could call noble rather than great, and he was a devotee of religion and liberal to the poor. But he was not without infamy because he was sometimes inconsiderate in this dealings out of greed, and likewise because he not only failed to enlarge his realm, but also conceded and yielded his rights over Normandy and Anjou to the King of France, which his father had previously lost and he was unable to recover by war. Since I have amply mentioned above the men who were distinguished for letters or arms in Henry’s day, I have chosen to spare myself the superfluous work of repetition here, and merely to mention Hugh Balsam Bishop of Ely, who lived under Henry. This man, both very frugal and well-endowed, decided it was his particular responsibility to increase learning, which had served for his use and solace at every age of his life, since, as Cicero says, letters inspire youth, delight old age, ornament prosperity, and provide solace amidst adversity. Therefore Hugh founded a college at Cambridge in a hall of his own construction, and dedicated it to St. Peter, in which the goodly arts are celebrated with enthusiasm even in our times. And that work was all the more welcome, because at that time students’ colleges were far more rare.
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