« FöregåendeFortsätt »
SERIES THE SECOND.
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, 30,0001. 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 30,0001. 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 2nd 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 3rd 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 the barons raised a popular clamour, that he was bringing with him foreigners to overrun the kingdom : upon which he was forced to dismiss almost all his followers, otherwise the barons would have opposed his landing.
In the 5th stanza, the writer regrets the escape of the Earl of Warren ; and in the 6th and 7th stanzas, insinuates that, if he and Sir Hugh Bigot once fell into the hands of their adversaries, they should never more return home ; a circumstance which fixes the date of this ballad ; for, in the year 1265, both these noblemen landed in South Wales, and the royal party soon after gained the ascendant. See Holinshed, Rapin, &c.
The following is copied from a very ancient MS. in the British Museum. (Harl. MSS. 2253. s. 23.] This MS. is judged, from the peculiarities of the writing, to be not later than the time of Richard II. ; th being every where expressed by the character p; the y is pointed, after the Saxon manner, and the í hath an oblique stroke over it.
Prefixed to this ancient libel on government was a small design, which the engraver intended should correspond with the subject. On the one side a Satyr, (emblem of Petulance and Ridicule,) is trampling on the ensigns of Royalty ; on the other, Faction, under the mask of Liberty, is exciting Ignorance and Popular Rage to deface the royal image, which stands on a pedestal inscribed MAGNA CHARTA, to denote that the rights of the king, as well as those of the people, are founded on the laws ; and that to attack one, is in effect to demolish both.
Sitteth alle stille, ant herkneth to me;
in the countre, Ant so he dude more.
5 Richard, thah thou be ever trichard,
Tricthen shalt thou never more.
Richard of Alemaigne, whil that he wes kying,
Ver. 2, kyn. MS.
Haveth he nout of Walingford oferlyng,
The kyng of Alemaigne wende do ful wel,
To helpe Wyndesore.
The kyng of Alemaigne gederede ys host,
To store Wyndesore.
By God, that is aboven ous, he dude muche synne,
For love of Wyndesore.
Sire Simond de Mountfort hath suore bi ýs chyn, Hevede he nou here the erl of Warýn,