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RICHARD'S FRENCH WARS AND DEATH.
Richard's orthodoxy had not been learned for nothing. The proceeds of the lands and offices which were thus resumed and sold again, and the money derived from new taxes, enabled the king in three months to sail for France with a fleet and army. After the loss of his English castles, John had found himself despised and neglected by Philip. He now met his brother, fell at his feet, and was forgiven, but not at first trusted or restored to his estates. A story, which would be incredible if it were told of any one but John, states that he endeavoured to recover his brother's favour by murdering a number of French knights at a feast. In the course of a year he received a pension and some of his old estates, but was not trusted with fortresses.
The remaining years of his reign were wasted by Richard in costly and profitless wars. Since the forged letter from the sheik of the assassins had been published, Richard had regained the prestige due to a crusader, while Philip's influence was impaired by the scandalous repudiation of his queen, a Danish princess. Nevertheless, Richard's successes were confined to barren battle-fields, to calling his opponent a vile renegade, and challenging him to a duel, which he did not dare to accept. The dauphin of Auvergne, who had been persuaded to shake off the French yoke, was disloyally abandoned to his fate. It seems as if the king of England had come to regard war from the corporal's point of view, and only cared for hard fighting and the renown of a "beau sabreur." The titles granted him by the emperor were put forward as an additional reason for war; but the English frontier in France did not advance, and the English power was weakened by the harassing demands which it made on its continental vassals. At last the end came. Richard was wounded by an arrow at the siege of some obscure castle, was unskilfully handled by his surgeon, and died in a few days. It is said he ordered his body to be buried at the feet of his father at Fontevraud. The circumstances of his death are suspicious. One account places
Thierry, Conquête d'Angleterre, tom. iv., p. 73. I cannot verify the reference he gives to Hoveden.
the castle in Normandy; another in the Limousin. It is doubtful whether Richard required a treasure-trove, or the knight who found it, to be given up. The name of the archer is variously given. Some accounts say that the archer was tortured to death, or even the whole garrison slain, in spite of Richard's dying injunctions that no revenge should be taken. Others are quite ignorant of these vengeances. These discrepancies, and the fact that prophecies of Richard's approaching death had floated vaguely among the people before he fell, give a presumption that the tyrant was removed from earth by an assassin. His unscrupulous rival, Philip, who had actually once suborned murderers against him, and his faithless brother John, may share the suspicion which cannot be verified.
Among the remarkable incidents of the reign, is one which a poetical theory has lately invested with a romance not its own. A certain William Fitz-Osbert, by profession a civilian, followed the king to the crusades. On his return to England, Fitz-Osbert, a wasteful man, became involved in a quarrel with his brother, who had supported and educated him when young, but now refused to support him in his extravagance. With singular baseness, William crossed over to Normandy, where the king then was, and denounced his brother as a traitor. The charge seems to have been referred to the court at Westminster; it was met on every point with a sworn denial, and was rejected. Fitz-Osbert now took up the trade of a civic patriot, allowed his beard to grow, in sign of sympathy with the lower classes, and aided them with advice in the law courts. But he was especially great in the folk-motes, or civic assemblies, in denouncing the aristocracy of privileged families who then governed London, and whom he accused of assessing the taxes upon the poor. Once he ventured again to Richard's camp with a general denunciation of all in authority.
Palgrave's Rot. Cur., pp. lxxiv.-lxxx.
2 Hoveden; Saville, p. 428.
Newburgh, vol. ii., p. 173. The story that his family had always kept their beards unshaved, to testify their hatred of Norman rule, is derived from Matthew Paris, a very uncertain authority. See p. 243, note 3.
FITZ-OSBERT'S CAPTURE AND DEATH.
The king was always ready to receive charges that might be a source of profit, and took some measures which emboldened the malcontents, and provoked the wrath of archbishop Hubert, the justiciary. He dared not proceed to open war against the Londoners. More than fifty thousand of them, it is said, probably all the unprivileged, were enrolled by name as Fitz-Osbert's adherents or followers. There was a panie like that which precedes a revolution. The justiciary ordered all the commonalty to keep within the walls, no doubt fearing that a general revolt would be organized. Some who violated these orders, and ventured to Stamford fair, were seized. The city aristocracy were compelled to be day and night under arms for fear of an outbreak. But when the justiciary demanded hostages from the citizens, no one dared to refuse him. FitzOsbert's fate was now sealed; he harangued his party in St. Paul's church-yard; but texts from Scripture1 and democratic invective alike failed to secure co-operation from men, who would have risked the lives of their children by a revolt. Nevertheless, the council thought it unsafe to proceed against Fitz-Osbert in the common course of law. He was watched, and attacked suddenly by a party of soldiers and citizens. After a short fight, in which he slew one of his assailants, the demagogue fled, with his mistress and a few friends, to the church of St. Mary-le-Bow, and mounted the tower. Neither the sanctity nor the strength of the edifice availed him. Fire was set to the doors, and Fitz-Osbert, as he tried to rush out, was ripped up by the son of the man he had slain. He had still life left to undergo a short sentence from the justiciary before a court of the civic aristocracy. Their fear had been great, and their revenge was savage. Naked, and tied to a horse's tail, he was dragged along the road to Tyburn, and hanged with nine of his companions. The people honoured him as a saint, flocked in spite of sentries to his tomb, and scraped away the earth as a relic. Yet Fitz-Osbert was neither pa
1 Once he took the text, "With joy shall ye drink water out of the wells of salvation" (Isaiah xii. 3), and applied it to himself.
CHARACTER OF RICHARD I,
triot nor saint. He was a worthless man, who was ready to kindle a civil war for the sake of money or revenge, The chief interest of his life lies in the fact that, with the instinct of an agitator, he had discovered a real grievance the subordination of the citizens to a few families. Thersites, Cleon, and Gracchus are his prototypes; not Tyrtæus or Pelopidas.1
Scarcely any king has left so little mark on our history as Richard. The strength and ferocity of a savage, the strategy of a general of division, the accomplishments of a troubadour, and some skill as a linguist, redeem him from contempt as a man, but do not entitle him to honour as a king. His arrogance almost amounted to insanity, and his greed of money was unparalleled in English history. Less sensual than William Rufus, he was in no other respect morally his superior. The different reputation of the two men is explained by the single fact, that Rufus declined a crusade and Richard joined it. To have yielded to the spirit of the age, and fought in Palestine instead of Europe, has made the difference with posterity of six hundred years of reputation instead of undying infamy. The world is wise in thus judging the acts by which it benefits, without regard to the thought. Moreover, it was Richard's great good fortune to be the brother of John and the uncle of Henry III. In several respects, his reign, through no merit of his own, promoted the well-being of his country.. Several cities bought charters or an increase of their privileges, on the model of the municipal constitutions of London, Bristol, and Winchester. The lord mayor and aldermen of London. are said to date from this reign; probably their offices were remodelled and their powers increased. An assize for the regulation of buildings in towns, and another to enforce uniformity of measures and weights, show that the work of government went on in the king's despite. The royal justiciaries after Longchamp were men of principle and ability. The surrender of the right to ships wrecked on the coast in favour
1 The incidents of Fitz-Osbert's revolt have been admirably treated by Sir F. Palgrave. Rot. Cur., vol. i., pp. viii.-xviii.
2 Palgrave's Eng. Com., pp. clxxiv., clxxv.; Hoveden, Savile, p. 441.
INDICATIONS OF COMING CHANGE.
of the natural heirs, indicates an advance in international law to which the influence of the crusades may perhaps have contributed. Above all, Norman and Englishman, who had fought together in Palestine, were beginning to lose the last feeling of a divided nationality. Both were coming to regard Normandy and other French dominions with dislike, as possessions which kept their king out of the country, and which entailed a yearly loss of money and men. In fact, the country was ripe for severance from the continent, and no longer in danger of relapsing into barbarism. The crusades, the church, and Oxford, were European influences, which could not easily be set aside. The problem of the next century was to create an individual nationality, and inform the mingled races with common ideas of liberty and law.
1 Giraldus Cambrensis says that the practice of wrecking went on, in defiance of law, everywhere, even on the estates of great lords and bishops.— De Inst. Princ., p. 190.