Translated by Andrew Galloway
1. Since, by custom, ancient and long durations fatally seep away from human beings’ fleeting present memories, urgent reason has admonished me that, in however childishly inept a way, I should undertake to compose for posterity an account in formal written proceedings of certain extraordinary events that not long ago transpired in England. Let it not be disgusting to bring to mind and commit to memory such things which, if every diligent reader would heed, he would have a mirror, in part, for more easily avoiding adversities, scandals, and the dangers and burning torments of death. I will not therefore allow it to remain delighting in the secret den of silence, how a monstrous sin of this sort, starting from certain people who were smothered in the embers of avarice and burdened by the weight of crimes, thereafter raced through England.
2. During the year of our Lord one thousand three hundred and eighty six, at a time when in the tenth year of his reign King Richard, the Second after the Conquest, was cavorting in the glens of his youth, a certain archbishop of York, Alexander Nevill by name, Robert de Vere, duke of Ireland, Robert Tresilian, chief justice of the lord king, and Nicholas Brembre, knight and former mayor of the citizens of London, were governors and close councillors of the king, living in vice, deluding the said king, concerned neither with the king’s nor the kingdom’s business but embracing the mammon of iniquity for themselves through much wickedness. Under their shadow of sins the king is made a pauper, such that, lo! by raising taxations and impositions, the kingdom is lacerated with great wounds. Because of such things, countless adversities were fostered in the kingdom. Perceiving that such things were falling utterly into perversity, the lords of this kingdom, to direct the kingdom into the way of peace, urged the king to hold a parliament on the day after the next Michaelmas. In this parliament the aforesaid Michael de la Pole, chancellor of England, was dismissed from office on the grounds of his usurpations and extortions, and having given back every round ring he is driven off to Windsor, and all his properties are confiscated in reciprocation for the extortionate fines he devoured. Nonetheless they did not yet disturb the aforesaid other councillors of the king, but in the same parliament, by the mutual assent of the king and of all the lords, justices, and commons, a commission was given to the below-written lords of the kingdom: to the archbishop of Canterbury; the said archbishop of York; the bishop of Ely, then chancellor of England; the Bishop of Winchester; the Bishop of Hereford, then treasurer of England; the Bishop of Exeter; the abbot of Waltham; the lord John Waltham, keeper of the privy seal; the duke of York; the duke of Gloucester; earl Arundel; Lord Cobham; and Richard Scrope and John Devereux, knights: that these, by the power of this commission and of a certain ordinance and statute, succeeding by possession to full power of the king and parliament in this matter, would correct the stupid madness of rebellions and order, counsel, and execute all business of the king and the kingdom, with annual judgments, pledging with their hands on the Gospels that they would observe the aforesaid things well and faithfully. And if anyone aroused the king to contravene the aforesaid ordinance, for the first offense the penalty imposed would be confiscation of all good; for the second, loss of life and limb. Thus disposing all matters for the better, with the parliament concluded, all departing from there returned to their own affairs.
3. But, one might ask, then what happened? The aforesaid imprudent councillors with others of their companions are inflamed by the torches of wrath on account of the aforesaid things of the parliament being published and ordained. With the parliament’s ordinances soon disseminated, they gathered rapidly around the king, and overshadowing him more than usual with illusion, they incited treachery in the heart against all those first moving and ordaining the aforesaid ordinance, commission, and statute to come into being and, according to them, thus derogating the king’s prerogative, and by shredding the royal power even the king would not be as usual able to give gifts by any free will of his to anyone, unless first these had been determined by a council of the commissioners at Westminster. Under pretext of these things, with the devil—who does not forget their ends—persuading them, those hardened by evil days strove iniquitously by clandestine councils through many unheard of frauds and deceits to nullify all these things, and to have the aforesaid commissioners with their other adherents drawn in the death of traitors, under the form that follows.
4. First, they blinded the guileless king by the conversations from their serpents’ mouths, with ambitions, adulations, lascivious words and praises, such that, ensnared by all their poisonous conspiracies and desires, he adhered by agreement, thinking they were disposing everything for the best; and they abhorred the councils and propositions of the said commission at Westminster as if these were treason. Also, the king, struck by love of the praises and illusions of the aforesaid men, begifted them in many ways, as well as their followers under the pretext of receipts of brokerage: he gave John of Blois, the captive heir of Brittany, as he claimed, to the said duke of Ireland; and to certain others castles, towns, and lands; to others, however, jewels and monies, all of which sums reached 1,500 marks, in a heavy cost to the king himself and the kingdom. Not even at that point did the devourers themselves give thought to the condition of the king or the kingdom, but thus carrying on in their ways of life, thus depredating with their greedy brokerage receipts, they set up insufficiently competent captains in the said castles and towns, whose naive armed force was totally destroyed, and which finally was seized into the hands of their enemies, an event that had never been seen before, from time out of mind. Also, denigrating the condition of the royal dignity in violation of their allegiance, by which the king alone should be of free condition beyond all others, they swore by the power of a certain oath and made the king submit himself as oath-swearer, that, by the strength of his body and of royal power, in prosperity and adversity, he would sustain and defend them against all who opposed or resisted them. Also, whereas by the ordinance of the aforesaid parliament he was to sit at Westminster with the council of the commissioners at various opportune times, those detractors drew the said king by persuasions to the more remote nooks of the kingdom, to the harm of those faithful commissioners in whose hand then resided the kingdom’s power and vitality. Nonetheless when many—the chancellor of England, the treasurer, and the keeper of the privy seal, and at other times certain others from Westminster with the commissaries of those same officials—made their way over hill and dale toward the king, they could reveal nothing concerning their acts and counsels by informing or speaking to the king, publicly or privately, except in the presence of those detractors or their deputies, and thus with the acts and counsels always being reported by those, the detractors were more easily able through this to minimize things contrary to those interests, and to increase with their own elaboration things that accorded with their interests.
5. What more? When, travelling towards the regions of Chester, Lancashire, and Wales the aforesaid fools took their way making their rounds through all parts to lords, knights, squires and commons capable of bearing arms, giving golden signs of a simulated sun and silver crowns to retain these men, everywhere at the king’s expense the retainers intemperately hasten, so that, prepared in their attack, they might especially assail the said commissaries: the duke of Gloucester, the earl of Arundel, and the earl of Warwick, since these more decisively than the other commissaries were set on curtailing their plans. Also, judging the aforesaid commission and statute to be null, they caused the said duke of Ireland to be ordained chief justice of Chester. Immediately, he along with them sometimes bending to the right, sometimes to the left, framed the order of judgments according to the complaints of money, releasing those deserving punishment, confiscating the goods of others, punishing still others in place of the guilty. Also, through the procurings of scoundrels, through the brokerages and gifts of those who were egregious tormentors, they impeded certain innocents who did not wish to adhere to them, so that they would be less able to prosecute their law, by aggravating them with immense delays, the exhaustion of journeying, and many kinds of expenses. But some, harassed through writs to appear, others through imprisonment, still others through threats of death, they retained under their control, giving them the sign of the aforesaid sun and crown. Also, for destroying the said commissaries and their associates they retained thieves, robbers and felons, who were illegitimately freed from their convictions of felony and other crimes by charters and patents of pardon. Moreover, notwithstanding that for ages lapsed from memory the land of Ireland was regarded as the patrimony of the king of England, the aforesaid duke of Ireland, baselessly wishing to be sublimely exalted, was created king of the said land of Ireland, for confirmation of which letters of the king were sent to the highest pontiff. Also, the aforesaid Nicholas Brembre, holding office of mayor of London for a single day, seized by force twenty-two men, some appellants of felony, some convicted felons but chaplains, arresting them under the pretext of diverse transgressions and imprisoning them in Newgate in London, in the silence of night. And having been led, bound fast, in Kent to a place popularly called Foul Oak, by his hot ferocity and without a sound of judgment, mercilessly, in red rivers from their veins they died, through a capital punishment entirely springing from him, except for one man who by chance escaped safe under the guise of an excuse. Also, a certain one of the said detractors, with the king’s innocence untainted but nonetheless under his name, went to London at an appointed time, there declaring before certain crafts of the said city delusory intentions and propositions, led the said crafts by flattery and deceits into vice, by making them swear that they would observe, sustain and defend the will and proposals of the lord king and themselves, prepared whenever they were asked by the said Nicholas Brembre that they would fight to the death by force and arms to punish all who were disobedient and opposed to the king and to the royal power. With the precipitous decline of the times adding evils to evil, they sent out a royal letter to the mayor of the citizens of London by a courier, the clerk John Ripon, with a certain writ under the king’s secret seal folded into the said letter, whose import along with the letter was that the three aforesaid lords, namely the duke and two earls particularly, and other commissaries were to be indicted in London in the county of Middlesex for high treason and false conspiracy aimed at the king; then they were to be arrested, condemned, and subjected to the cruel death of traitors, and their lineage was then to be disinherited in perpetuity, because the aforesaid ordinance, commission, and statute in derogation of the king’s and the crown’s prerogative had been prejudicially ordained through them, and by their goading and ordering the king to consent under coercion to those things. At once the mayor and the aldermen of the said city of London called a common council concerning what should be done about this matter, and these men, with arguments mounted for and against, arrived at unanimity, that it should be well understood that they did not want to accept any part of this thing nor did they want that mandate to be carried out. Meanwhile, since a bad thing leads to worse, and soon by its own weight pulls down another evil onto itself and that evil a third and so on, the aforesaid fools, inflamed by recklessness, clandestinely transmitted by John Golafre, knight, a royal letter to their enemy the king of France, requesting to contract at Calais or somewhere nearby a five-year truce, in this way, namely that our king of England would there apply himself to deceptively framing the said fraudulent truce, then our king would send for the said duke of Gloucester, the earls of Arundel and Warwick particularly, and certain other commissaries, as if not wishing to do anything without their counsel, and thus surrounded, they would be treasonously slaughtered by horrible torments as false traitors to the king and kingdom. And for ensuring the completion of these things, the said adversary of France would regain in return for this matter all castles, towns, and properties pertaining to the king of England in those regions. And for more fully proving that these things are true, very many safe-conducts from the said king of France, our adversary, were sent here for transporting our king and his favorites there; these safe-conducts, now collected into the hands of the said commissaries, are ready to stand in witness to this at any time whatsoever. Moreover, beyond those letters of that date, other letters of the king directed to the king of France were intercepted from a courier, which are further witnesses. These letters indeed included encouragement to the king of France to make his way into England with a great force, to attack the said three lords and the other commissaries and all those authorizing or favoring the said ordinance, commission, and statute to be created in derogation of the king’s and his rank’s prerogative, and villainously to destroy them, and, by consequence, the English people and language, by surrendering them to a cruel death. Who has ears for hearing, let him hear.
6. Moreover, laboring in the devil’s vineyard with indefatigable minds and always vigilant, while they were in regions far from Westminster’s council in a castle of Nottingham they sent by writ for Robert Bealknap, chief justice of the common pleas; John Holt; Roger Fulthorp and William Burgh, justices of common pleas; and John Lokton, the king’s sergeant at law, striving to make them associates of their frauds, and when they had compassed these, ignorant of what they were about to do, there in a council chamber with the king and said five traitors present and the doors locked they proposed many questions to them, in the following way. First, whether the new statute, ordinance and commission created and published in the preceding parliament at Westminster, did not derogate the king’s royal prerogative. Also, how those who had procured it to be made should be punished; and how should be punished those who had excited and compelled the king to consent to those; and how should be punished those who impeded him so that he was less able to exercise his prerogative. When these and many other things had been asked, they responded unanimously to the individual questions that those ought to be punished either as traitors or that they merit being subjected to capital punishment. To all of this testimony the aforesaid justices, along with John Cary then lord chief baron of the Exchequer, compelled as they claimed by a legitimate fear of death, applied their seals for those present, "with these as witnesses: Alexander Nevill, archbishop of York; the archbishop of Dublin in Ireland; Thomas the bishop of Chichester; John the bishop of Bangor; Robert the duke of Ireland; Michael earl of Suffolk; John Ripon, clerk; and John Blake knight. Given on the fourteenth day of the month of September in the year of our Lord one thousand three hundred eighty seven, and the eleventh year of the reign of Richard, second after the Conquest." Then the ones who had been coerced, as they asserted, swore to hide the council, telling nobody of it under pain of death, and they departed.
7. And when these traitors were scheming these and many other diabolic things to destroy and enervate the aforesaid ordinance, commission, and statute, by mutual consent maintained among themselves, they affirmed by oath that they would entirely preserve all these diabolic things. And along with those, what is worse, they made the king swear with them, that, in his own person, by his bodily and royal power insofar as he was able he would take vengeance against the aforesaid duke and earls and their other adherents by dragging them to a bitter death. The deeds of all these things may be more easily recognized if the periods of time and the order are observed. But our Commiserator and merciful Lord, although so many sorrows and torments had been fostered in the kingdom of England on account of the multifarious masses of our sins and crimes, not wishing to take vengeance abruptly but instead to take pity and tolerate still others, as thus driving away our languor, and in order to alleviate the exhausted spirits of the faithful commissaries and cure our anxious sorrows, inspired the hope of strength and understanding in the souls of the said three lords, namely the duke of Gloucester and the earls of Arundel and Warwick, who, after they had been suspecting for all this time some sort of evils to occur by the said traitors, ordered to be sent cautiously through all parts of England messengers and spies so that they might take and retain all royal letters and their couriers whosoever, to whomsoever the letters were directed or sent, delivering the letters to wherever the commissaries were in England without delay. Once thus done, the outcome of things proved the merits of this, in so much as they examined and understood every counsel for the entire year of those imprudent ones, every traitorous proposal in the substance of the letters recovered—glory to God in the highest, and peace to men of good will on earth!—and by this manner of action they considered the kingdom to be at the point of destruction, according to the Gospel saying, "every kingdom divided against itself will be destroyed." According to the sanctions of law, it is legitimate for everyone to respond to violence with violence; and since it is better to anticipate a problem beforehand than to seek a remedy after a wound has been inflicted, in safe-guarding of the king, the kingdom, and their own lives they raised up the people, each of them from his own area, until by everyone’s estimate the full number reached twenty thousand men ready for defense, as ones proposing to infringe by force the diabolic propositions of the aforesaid traitors and to soften by explanations their fervid hearts, harder than iron and impervious to divine approval.
8. And since the fame about the earl of Arundel’s army was from the first made audible and clear, how with his force he shifted around at night near the regions of London, he lay quiet hiding in woods and forests until a time convenient to him might appear, there awaiting the arrival of his accomplices. Not by injuring anyone did he and all of his men live, but instead they purchased their foods and other necessaries at full market price. They were almost unable to keep the popular community quiet and prevent them from rising with them by their own keen desires, as those bent on destroying the said false lords along with their adherents. Meanwhile, the said false lords, striving to obstruct their purposes with a certain spiritual commission by the power of ancient letters patent in their keeping—the effect of whose proclamations was at that time not at all at the butt-end of things to that extent, but was only for blinding the people of the city of London—did not fear to have it proclaimed in the king’s name that no one should seem to be so bold, under pain of forfeiture of all goods, to sell, give or exchange, publicly or privately, any goods, any kind of arms, or any other necessities to Richard earl of Arundel or any his men, but rather to refuse and reject giving to him and his men, as rebels to the king, any manner of sustenance, comfort, or refreshment. Nonetheless, they somewhat feared the scorn of future generations; and both because the assistance they hoped to get from the mayor and commons of London might be refused, and because of that new insurrection of men advancing toward them, with turbulent heart they counseled the king to distance himself from the parliament at the next feast of the Purification of the Blessed Mary, the starting date of parliament that the king and the said commissaries had previously appointed, and not to involve himself in any business of the kingdom or himself, in any commodious or incommodious matter, any loss or danger, unless first the three aforesaid lords and the other commissaries would swear an oath that, while holding that parliament, neither they nor anyone else in their name would propose or put in motion anything concerning the commission against them. And they had it proclaimed through the city of London that no one, under pain of confiscation of goods, would seem by any means to promulgate or narrate anything sinister or shameful about the king or any of his adherents, which was indeed nearly impossible to prevent.
9. After a brief time elapsed, it happened that the king with the aforesaid five false lords took their way from the manor of Sheen toward St. Edward’s shrine at Westminster for the sake of fulfilling a pilgrimage. Soon the aldermen and commons of the said city, in a sizable following of men, encountered him on horseback in a gathering, giving him special honor. And when he had arrived at a place commonly called the Mews, a little ways from his palace, he made his pilgrimage from there barefoot to St. Edward at Westminster, and the chaplain of the said commissaries along with the abbot and convent of the said monastery met with him in procession, singing.
10. But meanwhile, the aforesaid three lords, that is the duke and two earls, with their forces gathered on the same Sunday, that is the fourteenth day of November of the same year, at Waltham Cross in Hertford county, sent for other commissaries remaining with the king in the palace at Westminster. There, in writs, they appealed the aforesaid five false lords, namely the archbishop of York, the duke of Ireland, the earl of Suffolk, Robert Tresilian and Nicholas Brembre, on the crime of high treason, and they volunteered that they would prosecute their appeal, and moreover that what they indicted would be legitimately proven, under pledge of their goods and those of competent oath-givers; and they made all the other commissaries to be inserted as part and appellants into their appeal; then they requested them to relate those things to the king. And when a deed of this kind resounded in the king’s ears, he sent to them seeking what would be their plan and intention, and they sent a response stating, "It is of concern for the public weal that certain traitors hanging around you be fittingly rejected and punished, since it is better that certain ones die for the people than that the entire nation perish." They also requested that they might converse together coming and going with entire safety. Then the king, with their will understood, in reply ordered them to come; and when they had come to Westminster, and the king was sitting on his throne in the Great Hall in the midst of his commissaries, the said three lords appellant with a huge multitude of people entered the hall and there, with both knees bent down they greeted the king, bowing very submissively three times. And with again the case set forth, in the manner and form by which they had earlier presented it at Waltham Cross, they appealed on the crime of high treason the said archbishop, duke, earl, Tresilian and Brembre, who at that time were all hidden in the palace, having betaken themselves into obscure strong rooms and shady dens there, just as Adam and Eve anciently did from God, not having the heart to be taken. At once the king accepted the said appeal for trial and prosecution, fashioning for them a day in the aforementioned parliament to be held on the day after the next Purification of the Blessed Mary. But in the meantime, the king put both parties with their goods and their retained men under his special protection, for the purpose that none of the others would cause trouble until the following parliament, a circumstance that was frequently proclaimed publicly throughout all regions of England; and they went away consoled.
11. The aforesaid duke of Ireland, however, with the devil his leader, made his way to the regions of Chester, Lancashire, and Wales and there raised without difficulty from the men in his confiscated retinue a new kind of power in the king’s name, numbering six thousand fighting men, for attacking and destroying the aforesaid lords appellant. With no royal protection preventing him, he along with his army bent his path toward London with a raging clamor, contemning the peace at the king’s expense; his heart, foolish and hateful to God, grazed on vain hopes. Meanwhile, the vigorous and commemorated appellants were apprised about his raging rabble in the nick of time. Adjoining to themselves by reason of affinity the earl of Derby and the earl of Nottingham, and those who had been made consorts of the said appeal, lest one might reckon expensively the long stretches of tireless labors, with their armies they pursued them to a field next to the town of Whitney at the place commonly called Radcot Bridge. In this field the aforesaid duke of Ireland with his army, having a stream of water to their side, prepare themselves for fiercely fighting and destroying the said lords appellant, unfurling there the king’s standard in violation of the statutes of England. But since those fiercer in the beginning are broken in the end, when they saw the ranks of the said five vigorous appellants everywhere pouring from the hill and turning around them like a swarm of bees, fear seized them. And stupefied when they charged—yet God did not want the spilling of blood or the mutilation of members—they stood as if leaderless, or a herd without a head, giving no occasion or appearance of resisting. Immediately they with all their goods and arms were stripped, and the armies handed them over as if conquered; but since very few were killed and only some drowned while fleeing, the hearts of the cruel ones are instantly softened. The duke of Ireland, however, striking his horse with his spurs took to the river. He evaded the danger in this way, and amazingly, although certain ones pursued him they nonetheless lost him. And thus thanks to God, those vigorous appellants in strengthening of the state of the kingdom received the palm of victory in this manner, supported by angelic assistance.
12. When the deed resounded in the ears of the other traitors lying hidden with the king in Westminster, in the hush of night they immediately fled very fearfully along the Thames into the Tower of London for better safekeeping. Nonetheless, the aforesaid Nicholas Brembre, with a stiff and stern expression, in the king’s name caused continual watches to be held in order to exclude the said five vigorous appellants from passing through any gate of the city of London by armed force by day or night. However, the said implacable vigorous appellants with their forces headed to London to address the king. Yet when it came to their ears how, through the said Nicholas Brembre, the gates of the said city were guarded by constant watches for repelling them, and when they pondered whether or not the said city would resist them at their arrival, they wavered in mind. In a camp therefore behind Clerkenwell in the territory of the same city, on the twenty-seventh day in the month of December of the same year, each of the said lords appellant with his army, with a sweet harmony of diverse instruments as prelude, properly prepared himself for the manner of war. They did not wish to enter the city with an abrupt or bold temerity, in a chance event, nor to refrain because of overwhelming fear, but to enter with sober mind, such that wisely and with good deliberation in their own good time they might accomplish all things well. The mayor and citizens of the city through inviting conversation and cheerful expressions, comforting and pleasing them, helped them continually, saying that they might enjoy for their use and at their disposal all things in the city within reason and equity, whereupon the duke of Gloucester said, "Now I know truly that no one can prevent liars from telling lies." Soon with mutual consent given, and evening pressing in, for more abundant security each one of the lords was hosted separately with his army before diverse gates around the city. But behold how great an altercation between the king and the said lords appellant broke out on each side before they could address in discussion the mutual intentions of their hearts: on the one side, the king shrank from speaking to so great a mass of men, lest perhaps the intolerable savagery or distance between the parties, namely theirs and the king’s, might nearly break out, so he did not want to talk with them beyond the Tower anywhere by any means, and he refused disdainfully to do so. On the other side the appellants themselves did not wish to address the king there, unless they might be able to enter there with a strong and secure band of men to avoid betrayal and danger. Therefore, the most learned of the other commissaries, after conflicts on each side of the disputations and with documentation of the reasoning, dissolved the hardened heart of the king like ice on a sunny day, such that, adhering to them in that measure, he took care to bend himself to every desire and wish of the vigorous appellants. But nonetheless, the aforesaid lords, lest anything perverse should fraudulently happen, prudently sent a competent band of armed men to investigate in advance every dark hiding place of the said Tower, along with its nooks and corners. Upon their report that no fraud had been found within there, the aforesaid vigorous five, with what one might call a large force, entered the said Tower and, appointing one as door-keeper and having the doors closed on command, and thus for the time being with those in charge of the said Tower before the king and commissaries, they appealed the said fugitives for the third time and in the manner and form stated above. Driven by this appeal, the king voluntarily offered an oath on his soul that he would adhere by confirmation to them and the counsel of their commissaries, as a good king and just judge, in as much as the order of law, reason and equity demanded. After these things were seen and done, departing the Tower into the city they returned to their lodgings, keeping continued watch during the nights. And it was proclaimed, not only in the king’s presence, but also throughout the regions of England that the aforesaid fugitive traitors, as men definitively summoned, on the established day of parliament, that is the day after the next Purification of the Blessed Mary, should personally appear ready to respond to the aforesaid falsely deceptive treachery according to the charges.
13. And since the harvest stood seasonably ready at that time for cutting and extirpating thorns, thistles, and tares, by the ratification of the king and the mutual consent of all the said commissaries and appellants, many officials were expelled from the king’s household, namely, in the place of John Beauchamp, steward, they appointed John Devereux, knight, one of those appointed from the commissaries, and Peter de Courtney, knight, was ordained in the king’s chamber in place of the said duke of Ireland. But the aforesaid John Beauchamp, Simon Burley, vice-chamberlain of the king, John Salisbury, door-keeper of the chamber, Thomas Trivet, James Baret, William Elmham and Nicholas Dagworth, knights, and other clerical officers, namely Richard Metteford, secretary, John Slake, deacon of the chapel, John Lincoln, chamberlain of the exchequer, and John Clifford, clerk of the chapel, because they behaved as accomplices in the aforesaid crimes, in that they were informed about them and did not contradict them, and because they desired these things to be done, are mandated to be put under arrest in diverse prisons of England until they would respond in parliament to the things charged. But they dismissed many others, especially their servants and others, as useless and foolish men, throwing them out to be vagabonds. And thus a most filthy nest perched in a certain tree was shattered as completely as possible, and its birds, wounded most foully, dispersed in flight.
14. On the vigil of the following Purification of the Blessed Mary, in the king’s chamber at Westminster, by the shared counsel of all the commissaries, the aforesaid Robert Bealknap, John Holt, Roger Fulthorp, William Burgh, John Locton, and John Cary are removed from their offices. Arrested without any debate in order to respond elsewhere fully to the charges, by order of the chancellor they are thrust, stunned and terrified, into the Tower; and in the place of Bealknap, Robert Carleton, in the place of Tresilian, Walter Clopton are installed in the offices of judges. Then for a brief time, with the new incumbents having been given the burdens of office and accepted by all, and swearing the oaths of office, they departed to take dinner.
15. And since the period of Lent, in accord with the history of this matter, is a time appropriate and acceptable to correct and punish delinquents according to their merits, a great parliament was therefore begun on the second day of the following February in this manner. When everyone of both estates, lords and potentates of this realm, having congregated in the White Royal Chamber at Westminster, the king arrived and took his seat as tribunal; and the five most noble and commemorated appellants, whose own merits of probity resounded everywhere in the land, striving to climax prosperous beginnings with a prosperous outcome entered the hall with a great multitude in the same suit of golden clothes, each holding another by the arm; and gazing at the king they saluted him in unison, kneeling. There was a single mass of men filling the hall even into its corners. But what bit of the said false lords or of their adherents, prithee, was found anywhere there? Nicholas Brembre, having been taken earlier elsewhere is remanded to be driven savagely into the prison of Gloucester. When therefore according to ancient parliament custom the laity on the left and the clergy on the right of the king had taken their seats, the chancellor standing in full view with his back to the king pronounced a certain speech, touching on the causes and matters of the parliament, categorizing these according to tradition. When this was complete, the aforesaid five lords, rising up, recorded their prefatory words by way of Robert Plessyngton, a prudent knight, who said, "Behold, the duke of Gloucester has come in person, for purgation of himself concerning the treason charged against him by the said fugitives." The chancellor, taking a response from the king’s mouth, answered, excusing the said duke, "Lord duke, you would be casting off your origins from so worthy a royal lineage; you are so near to him in collateral line, we find, that for such things to be schemed by you would not be suspected." The aforesaid duke with his four associates, very humbly kneeling on their knees, thanked the king. Then silence was imposed, and the commemorated lords produced in writs the articles of the accusation concerning the aforesaid treachery. Geoffrey Martin, clerk of the crown, stood before them in the middle of the parliament for a period of two hours, swiftly reading the aforesaid articles. The hearts of some were stricken with sorrow at the horrific contents of the said articles; many had swollen faces with tears on their cheeks. With the reading of the articles concluded, they benignly demanded the king that a just sentence should be imposed, one suited to the aforesaid false deceit according to how it was alleged and to how it would be proven, and indeed that there might be a due execution of this sentence against the persons of the said fugitives; and the king promised these things. So much for the first day. The day after they were stirred by counsels producing nothing, and therefore I will proceed not according to the days but rather I will only touch the larger deeds of the parliament.
16. When therefore on the third day they had come for their proceedings against the said fugitives, the chancellor of England, in the name of the clergy, alleged in full parliament that they would not by any means involve themselves in cases of this sort nor wish to take part in any moment when judgment of blood is pursued. And to confirm these things the clergy issued a written protestation, by which when read publicly they said that they were asserting this not by reason of favor or fear of hatred or of reward, but seeing as the sanctions of the canons and all laws persuade and compel clerks to refrain from impiousness of this sort, they wished to preserve those things. In the chapter house also of the abbey knights of the affinities had gathered to discuss their counsels and materials, for whom they sent to notify them too of the said protestation. Meanwhile, the said protestation notwithstanding, the five aforesaid lords petitioned to pass sentence against the four contumacious ones, condemning them. And when the said lower commons had arrived faster than the word, although the protestation was given out and read through before them too in the same way, the aforesaid five nobles did not cease to petition against the said contumacious ones. The clergy soon arose, and for the time being departed into the annex of the king’s chamber. The king, however, moved by a charitable conscience, discerning that in the work of all things it is good to be mindful of the end, and according to the requirement of law to favor the defendant rather than the plaintiff, carried over the proceedings, to see if something on the part of those absent might meanwhile be alleged or juridically recounted. But the lords, irritated, supplicated the king that no case already in process, or taken up for the first time, or coming up later should be moved by any means, until the present case of treason should be finally put to rest; to whose petition he gave his gracious assent.
17. At length, on the eleventh day of February, when nothing on behalf of those absent might be alleged to prevent that grave sentence of condemnation from being definitively rendered, the aforesaid John Devereux, marshal of the court, holding the place of the king, judged that the aforesaid archbishop, duke, earl and Tresilian should be drawn from the Tower of London through the city to Tyburn, then without delay hanged on the gallows and all their goods confiscated such that later successors might not rejoice in them.
18. And on the twelfth day of February, which was the first Monday of Lent, when the aforesaid Nicholas Brembre was made to appear, with certain articles proposed and read through before him, he requested a copy, and council, and a day for the sake of deliberating better how he would respond to them. And although what he sought was neither an equitable or customary thing, nay further against the rigor of the law, in so grave a criminal case we would have allowed the tiniest matter construably in his favor: had he begged in vain, it would have been imposed on him to answer the charges strictly. For it is read that he answered, "Whoever has charged me with these things, I give witness that I am present here ready to prove by battle with him in the arena that these same things are false." And Brembre said these things terrified that he would die in excruciating pain in the manner of traitors, and would prefer to expire as a knight fighting in arms than scandalously through the parliament’s condemnation. Immediately the commemorated appellants with stern visage declared, "And we ourselves give witness and offer ourselves that we are ready to prove by battle with you in the arena that these same things are true." And they threw their gauntlets at the king’s feet; and at the same instant from everywhere in the place flew gauntlets like snow from the other lords, knights, squires, and commons, who declared in one voice, "And we pledge a duel for proving on your head that the things said are true." Quicker than speech the king departed for the day. And although these things were not left unconsidered among the sleepers, nonetheless on the next day, as an even heavier matter, appeared many of the crafts of the city of London complaining about many injuries and extortions torturously committed and carried forward against them elsewhere by that same Nicholas Brembre. And since the crafts themselves swore on their souls that they were not corrupted by hatred, fear, or favor of anyone or any reward, nor were they declaring these things maliciously but rather were accusing him concerning the truth, Brembre then stood undone at last.
19. But before they had argued to the finish the end of the trial against Nicholas Brembre, the hapless Tresilian occupied their attention. He had been located above the gutter of a certain house annexed to the wall of the palace, hiding among the roofs the sake of watching the lords coming and going from parliament. However, when resolute soldiers had entered that house and looking around found no one, a certain knight with intent expression strode to the father of the house and pulled his head up by the hair, drawing his dagger, saying, "Show us where Tresilian is or your days are numbered." Immediately, the terrified father of the household said, "Behold the place where that man is positioned at this moment," and under a certain round table which was covered for deception with a tablecloth, the unfortunate Tresilian, disguised as usual, was miraculously discovered. His tunic was made out of old russet, extending down to mid-shin, as if he were an old man, and he had a wiry and thick beard, and wore red boots with the soles of Joseph, looking more like a pilgrim or beggar than a king’s justice. This event was immediately made clear to the lords’ ears, and when, quicker than a word, the aforesaid five appellants under a hasty pretext left the parliament without explaining the reason for their departure, all who remain in parliament were stunned, and many others followed them with passionate zeal. And when at the palace gate they had seized Tresilian, leading him toward the parliament, they proclaimed in a universal voice, "We havet hym! We havet hym!" Meanwhile, interrogated in the parliament how he would excuse himself concerning the false treachery of this kind and other things done by him, he remained nonetheless stock-still and mute, his heart hardened even in the face of death, and he would not confess to the things committed. Immediately parliament was broken for the sake of this matter, and on the grounds of dealing with Tresilian they sent away for the day Brembre, who had remained present. And at once Tresilian was led to the Tower of London so that execution of his sentence might be carried out on his person. His wife and daughters, moaning and imploring weepingly, were present at hand there in that place, and with voiceless requests, kissing him first from one side then the other, they forgave him for one or another of the crimes he had committed. But she, overwhelmed with sorrow in her heart, fell to the ground as if dead. At length Tresilian was bound hand and foot to a hurdle, and along with a vast multitude of lords and commoners, horsemen and pedestrians, he was dragged from the back of horses through the city squares, resting at intervals of about the length of a furlong out of considerations of charity, to see if he wanted to repent anything. But alas, he did not publicly confess, and indeed it is not known what he would say to his friar confessor, nor has it been ours to discover: the friars well treated Tresilian, preserving him from his transgression. And when he had come to the place of Calvary that he might be made defunct, he did not want to climb the stairs but goaded by sticks and whips that he might ascend, he said, "While I carry a certain something around me, I am not able to die." Immediately they stripped him and found particular instructions with particular signs depicted in them, in the manner of astronomical characters; and one depicted a demon’s head, many others were inscribed with demons’ names. With these taken away, he was hanged nude, and for greater certainty of his death his throat was cut. And it became night. And he was left hanging until the next day and, with permission for carrying away his body sought and obtained from the king by his wife, it was taken to the Franciscans and is there buried.
20. On the next day a sentence similar to that of the four condemned was given against Brembre, and when he was drawn from the Tower through the city on a hurdle to Tyburn, resting at furlong intervals he gave great penance, beseeching mercy from God and men against whom he had sinned in past times, and many commiserating prayed for him. And when the noose was put on him so that he might be hanged, the son of Northampton asked him whether the aforesaid things done elsewhere to his father by Brembre were legally done. For Northampton was formerly a mayor of the city of London, a richer and more powerful citizen among all those who were in the city, and through certain ones, associates who were death-bearing plagues, namely Brembre, Tresilian and others, was enormously vexed by certain nefarious conspiracies and confederacies then condemned to death, and with all his goods stripped hardly escaped alive. And concerning those things Brembre confessed that neither piously nor justly but with a violent heart for the sake of destroying Northampton he had infelicitously committed those things. And seeking forgiveness, hanging by the rope, he died when his throat was cut. Behold how good and pleasant it is to be raised up to honors! It seems to me better to carry out business at home among paupers than be thus lordly among kings, and at the end climb the ladder among thieves; since it is more a matter of onerousness than honor to assume the name of honor. You who are reading, look down to regard him, and you might be able to consider by their ends how their works receive results. For in every work be mindful of the end.
21. Following this they did not proceed to judgments of death of this sort but instead, until things were riper, undertook business of the kingdom that they had taken to heart. They ordained for the noble earl of Arundel the admiralty of sea, to resist and intercept enemies if he was able to encounter them by land or by sea; and thus it was done. Also, the bitternesses of heart and the burdened and anxious thoughts between the king and the appellants, if any existed, they graciously swept away by the sweet encouragements of the commissaries, and for the confirmation of this they added by compact that the king would host the appellants at dinner and they would individually host him, as example and notice to the people concerning the firm concord and true friendship that was finally purified between them. And all these things were fulfilled and there was great joy among the people.
22. Returning anew to the fearful judgments of this sort, to the parliament were led Thomas Usk and John Blake, on the fourth day of the month of March, also the fourth holy day of Passion week. These two, although of simple rank, had nonetheless both been forced as accomplices into the aforestated treacheries with the aforesaid potentates. For Usk was a sergeant at arms, and inserted among the traitors in that by his performance in most recent days he had been made sheriff of Middlesex for the sake of indicting the lords appellant, and he indicted other commissaries and adherents as traitors in their actions. Blake was Tresilian’s adjunct, and was often found coming and going as a referendary on behalf of completing the treacheries and matters of the said five condemned men. And when in judgment they could allege nothing on their behalf to make exception, that grave sentence is given against them and, just as their masters before had earlier made procession to death, they too, fulfilling the same reward of fate, were led to the Tower. At once, at the same time but separately, drenching the neighborhoods with their flesh in the manner usual for traitors, they came to Tyburn and there immediately went to rest between the gallows. But the privilege is given to the truncated head of Thomas Usk, after he was hanged, of being pecked by birds’ beaks above Newgate in London.
23. Later in the proceedings, on the sixth holy day of Passion week, they gave attention in parliament to the aforesaid judges, Robert Bealknap, John Holt, Roger Fulthorp, William Burgh, John Locton, and John Cary, lord baron of the Exchequer, concerning their counsel and deed as noted above against all the commissaries and as adherents in the evil hours at Nottingham. And, since it was not necessary to declare single things against them individually, they are condemned all six in a judgment like the prior ones. The clergy, however, while the laity were deciding the death sentence of this kind, rose from parliament and entered the king’s private room in order to converse with him. And when a word had been spoken by them about the scandalousness of the death of judges, the archbishop of Canterbury, the bishop of Winchester, the chancellor, treasurer, keeper of the privy seal with the whole group of clergy, with a heavy heart and light foot, appeared in parliament presenting a tearful complaint; and bowing to the king’s feet they supplicated him very humbly, exhorting the king and lords of parliament that for the love of God, of the glorious virgin Mary, and of all the saints, as they themselves in a bitter judgment elsewhere would rejoice in pity, that they cease and desist totally from the death of those judges present there and most bitterly weeping there, in whose and from whose sense and heads the font, pith, and wisdom of the laws of England thrived, emanated, and was drunk up. There was immense sorrow, especially among the parties of those complaining and those condemned. The duke of Gloucester, earls of Arundel, Warwick and Nottingham and many other soft hearts joined with them in mourning. Immediately, by virtue of the complaint of the clergy the execution against the persons of the judges ceased, and life was given to them again by the king. But what happened after concerning them I will say further below, for they were remanded to the Tower under close guard.
24. Shortly after this, that is, on the twelfth day of March, a Thursday, it happened that the aforesaid knights, Simon Burley, John Beauchamp, James Baret, and John Salisbury had been led into parliament. The things to be alleged were soon alleged, the things to be proven proven, and they not able to excuse themselves. Yet all the way from that time nearly to the Ascension of the Lord the parliament was vexed solely by the case of the said Simon. For the united trinity of the three lords appellant, namely the duke of Gloucester and earls of Arundel and Warwick, along with the whole commons of parliament, insisted that the just judgment in accord with how the matters were alleged and proven against the person of Simon himself should be firmly carried out. However, from the other side, the king, the queen, the earls of Derby and Nottingham, the prior of St. John, his uncle, and many others from the greater members of the lords of parliament labored assiduously on behalf of his life. Therefore, since the said commons is exhausted by so long a time in labors and expenses attending parliament, and as it was likely that their long expectation in parliament would not be brought to effect, they requested that the king release them so that they might freely depart from parliament for their own business, and in the future, when matters did not pertain to them, not to disturb them by giving the reason for such fatigue in future times that some misfortune had been fostered unexpectedly in the kingdom. There was tumult among the lower commons in diverse regions of England, for example in Kent and its vicinity: because of Simon, an insurrection had silently risen up. At once everyone on both parties of this Simon, declining from their pleadings, immediately desisted. Finally, on the next Wednesday before Ascension, that is, the fifth day of May, sentence was given against only Simon, namely that in the manner of his predecessors he be drawn from the Tower to Tyburn and, after being hanged, that his head be amputated from his body. But because he was a Knight of the Garter, powerful and humane in his behavior and pleasing, a relative of the king and always found in his court, therefore, at the urgings of many lords, the king out of his special grace in imposing the execution of the said sentence relaxed it, mitigating it in so far that Simon was only led to the earth wall at Towerhill in London where, repentant, his head truncated, he suffered his death throes.
25. On the twelfth day of May, that is on the next Wednesday before Pentecost, were similarly condemned John Beauchamp, steward of the king, James Baret, and John Salisbury, knights of the chamber, whose end, that is, John Beauchamp’s and James Baret’s, was just like Simon’s: with heads truncated, they died at Towerhill. John Salisbury, however, was drawn from Towerhill to Tyburn in the manner of his predecessors, then he received his sentence of hanging. On the same day the bishop of Chichester, the king’s confessor, was condemned with them, but on account of his dignity the execution of judgment is entirely relaxed, even so far as preserving his life. But when they began to abhor the horrible torments of this kind, of the death of fellow Christians, they grew mindful of other important matters of the kingdom, such as the war with the Scots and the French, and for the circuit of one year the king’s subsidies of customs from wine and wool. Also, concerning certain translations of bishops; since, after it had intoned into the ears of our pope Urban VI that the said archbishop of York was condemned, to remove all suspicions of irregularity in his favor, he decreed that Nevill would be archbishop of St. Andrews in Scotland, which archbishopric was indeed under the power of the enemy Scots and at that time in the gift of the antipope. And the pope sought to have granted in tribute to him half of the tithe of England in his subsidy for sustaining his wars, but he was not able to acquire it. He shrewdly recalled, therefore, that something could come to him through certain translations of bishops, and thus in the event he transformed his request concerning a subsidy of this kind into what was construably a common right: he ordered the bishop of Ely, then chancellor of England, to succeed to the archbishopric of York, in the place of his condemned predecessor; and the bishop of Durham into his place, the bishop of Salisbury into his place, and lord John Waltham, keeper of the privy seal, into his place—all these he wished and mandated to sanctify. And thus by this manner transmuting alternately one into the place of another he provided by canon law for himself the first taxes through translations. When in the same parliament news about this pope’s mandates had come to the ears of the English, they debated energetically concerning this matter among other business of the kingdom, because so great an amount of money on the pretext of these translations would be transmuted from England without any remuneration. But their argument did not prevail in parliament since the clergy had not spoken against the pope’s mandate.
26. In the Octave of Trinity, that is on the last day of the month of May, on behalf of closing parliament in the customary manner, the king honorifically convened a parliament at Kennington; then on the Wednesday following they concluded the matters previously touched and not yet put to rest: namely to Thomas Trivet, William Elmham, and Nicholas Dagworth, knights, Richard Metteford, John Slake, and John Lincoln, clerks, with worthy pledges given that elsewhere before parliament or the king’s council they would be ready personally to appear to respond to charges, free power was given by grace to go in the meantime at their pleasure wherever in England might seem convenient to them. And so far as the aforesaid judges it was discussed and ordained that all six, along with the bishop of Chichester who as is said before was convicted and condemned among them from the day of the order of those present, with induciae given up to St. Peter ad Vincula, should be each located in his region of Ireland, in the manner that follows: namely that the said Robert Bealknap and John Holt in the town of Drogheda in Ireland should there live not in the role of a judge or an officer, but a derelict and deportee. The said Robert Bealknap could not travel beyond a space of three miles beyond the said town, and John Holt a space of two miles, on pain of execution of the said sentence previously borne upon their persons. The king, from his particular liberality, would contribute forty pounds annually to Robert Bealknap and forty marks to John Holt for their disposition during their lifetimes. Roger Fulthorp by the king’s gift would have forty pounds and William Burth forty marks during their lifetimes for sustaining them in the town of Dublin in Ireland where they are deported in a similar manner, except that Roger Fulthorp might enjoy a circle of three miles, William, if he did not stay within two miles, would suffer the penalty noted above. The aforesaid John Cary and John Locton, both with twenty pounds during their lifetimes from the king’s retribution, in the town of Waterford in Ireland exist similarly deported, not able to go beyond a boundary of two miles under the penalty noted. The bishop of Chichester to the town of Cork in Ireland in a similar manner then deported exists on forty marks from the king’s donation during his lifetime, not exceeding a two-mile limit under the incumbent penalty. Behold men who did not place God before their gaze! You who read, examine how evil things, begun by evil beginnings, hardly are completed in any good conclusion. Wherefore, in all works, remember the end.
27. On the third day of June in the abbey of Westminster, with the arrival
of the king, queen and all lords and commoners of both lay and clerical
estates in conclusion of the parliament, the bishop of London (because
it was in his diocese) celebrated a mass. With the mass ended, the archbishop
of Canterbury delivered a splendid speech concerning the form and danger
of oath-giving. With this completed, although the king previously at his
coronation had taken on his soul the oath of kings, and the homage and
oaths of lords of the realm and community in due manner had been made to
him. Nonetheless, partly because he took the oath in a youthful state,
partly on account of uprooting and dissipating concerns and stirrings of
the heart both on the part of the king and on the part of the lords, he
solemnly renews that same oath in the manner and form by which he took
it in his coronation with the homage and oaths of the lords. With these
things done, the said metropolitan of England with all the supporters there
present, with the candle lit, excommunicated under one cloak all and sundry
in themselves or through others contravening or impeding such that by however
much the less anything and everything in the said parliament mandated,
put to rest, or concluded might not stand firm and be effective in its
force and authority; and he extinguished the candle. The chancellor then,
extending his hands, made all the commons vouch in faith and observance
of the aforedone things as faithful lieges well and faithfully preserving
the aforesaid. And this form of observance of parliament was solemnized
through the whole kingdom. On the next day, that is the fourth of June,
with mutual greetings held among the king, lords and commons, each one
freely returned to his own affairs in his own region. Now let England,
rejoicing, exult in Christ, since by his scars, and by our filthy, bitter
remains, the snare [noose] is thoroughly destroyed, and we are free,thanks
to God, etc.
© Andrew Galloway 2001