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8432 1839 V.2




Though some make slight of LIBELS, yet you may see by them how the wind sits: as, take a straw and throw it up into the air, you may see by that which way the wind is, which you shall not do by casting up a stone. More solid things do not show the complection of the times so well as BALLADS and Libels.


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Richard of Almaigne,

"A BALLAD made by one of the adherents to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, soon after the battle of Lewes, which was fought May 14, 1264,"-affords a curious specimen of ancient satire, and shows that the liberty assumed by the good people of this realm, of abusing their kings and princes at pleasure, is a privilege of very long standing.



To render this antique libel intelligible, the reader is to understand that just before the battle of Lewes, which proved so fatal to the interests of Henry III., the barons had offered his brother Richard, king of the Romans, 30,000l. to procure a peace upon such terms as would have divested Henry of all his regal power, and therefore the treaty proved abortive. The consequences of that battle are well known: the king, prince Edward his son, his brother Richard, and many of his friends, fell into the hands of their enemies; while two great barons of the king's party, John Earl of Warren, and Hugh Bigot, the king's Justiciary, had been glad to escape into France.

In the 1st stanza, the aforesaid sum of thirty thousand pounds is alluded to; but, with the usual misrepresentation of party malevolence, is asserted to have been the exorbitant demand of the king's brother.

With regard to the 2d stanza, the reader is to note that Richard, along with the earldom of Cornwall, had the honours of Wallingford and Eyre confirmed to him on his marriage with Sanchia, daughter of the Count of Provence, in 1243. Windsor Castle was the chief fortress belonging to the king, and had been garrisoned by foreigners; a circumstance which furnishes out the burthen of each stanza.

The 3d stanza alludes to a remarkable circumstance which happened on the day of the battle of Lewes. After the battle was lost, Richard, king of the Romans, took refuge in a windmill, which he barricadoed, and maintained for some time against the barons, but in the evening was obliged to surrender. See a very full account of this in the Chronicle of Mailros. Oxon. 1684. p. 229.

The 4th stanza is of obvious interpretation: Richard, who had been elected king of the Romans in 1256, and had afterwards gone over to take possession of his dignity, was in the year 1259 about to return into England, when

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