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EDWARD II had a wave of favourites or hangers-on at Court, of whom the worst were the Suspenders and the Peers Gaveston. There were two memorable Suspenders, the Old Suspender and the Young Suspender, and they were Edward's reply to the continual applications of the Barons for a confirmation of all the charters and garters of the Realm. But even Edward II's worthless character cannot alone explain.
The Scots were now under the leadership of the Bruce (not to be confused with the Wallace), who, doubtful whether he had slain the Red Comyn or not, armed himself with an enormous spider and marched against the English, determined if possible to win back the Great Scone by beating the English three times running.
The fact that the English were defeated has so confused Historians that many false theories are prevalent about the Bannockburn Campaign. What actually happened is quite clear from the sketch map shown above.
The causes of the English defeat were all unfair and were:
1. The Pits. Every time the Wallace saw some English Knights charging at him he quickly dug one of these unnatural hazards into which the English Knights, who had been taught to ride straight, galloped with flying colours.
2. Superior numbers of the English (four to one). Accustomed to fight against heavy odds the English were uneasy, and when the Scots were unexpectedly reinforced by a large body of butlers with camp stools the English soldiers mistook them for a fresh army of Englishmen and retreated in disgust.
3. Foul riding by Scottish Knights. This was typified even before the battle during an exhibition combat between the Bruce and the English Champion, Baron Henry le Bohunk, when Bruce, mounted on a Shetland pony, galloped underneath the Baron and, coming up unexpectedly on the blind side, struck him a foul blow behind and maced him up for life.
Edward II was so weak that he kept banishing his favourites and then unbanishing them again. The Barons therefore became so impatient that they deposed Edward without even waiting to arrange for any false claimants to the throne. Thus Edward III became King. Shortly afterwards HORRIBLE SCREAMS were heard issuing from the Berkeley where Edward II was imprisoned and the next day he was horribly dead. But since not even the Barons would confess to having horribly murdered him, it is just possible that Edward had merely been dying of a surfeit in the ordinary way.
EDWARD III had a very romantic reign which he began by confining his mother in a stronghold for the rest of her life, and inventing a law called the Gallic Law according to which he was King of France, and could therefore make war on it whenever he felt inclined.
In order to placate Edward, the French King sent him a box of new tennis balls. When the parcel was opened the Prince of Wales, who was present, mottoed to himself memorably (in Bohemian) 'Ich Dien', which means 'My serve', and immediately invaded France with an army of archers. This prince was the memorable All-Black Prince, and the war was called the Hundred Years' War, because the troops signed on for a hundred years or the duration.
This decisive battle of the world was fought during a total eclipce of the sun and naturally ended in a complete victory for the All-Black Prince, who very romantically 'won his Spurs'* by slaughtering one-third of the French nobility.
*His father the King had betted him a pair of hotspurs that he could not do this.
Edward III then laid siege to Calais in order to be ready to return to England if necessary, and on the capitulation of the town ordered the six richest citizens to come forth with halters round their necks and wearing only their shorts, and to surrender all the keys in the city. The inhabitants therefore at once appointed the six chief burglars of Calais and Edward agreed with this, romantically commanding that they should be put to death as soon as they came in. His Queen, however, pointed out what a much more romantic thing it would be to pardon them and make them barons in the Exchequer. Edward therefore pardoned them in spite of his private feelings that the original plan was more romantic still.
After this Edward had all the wool in England kept in a stable at Calais instead of in a sack in the House of Commons; this was a Bad Thing, as it was the beginning of Political Economy.
During this reign the memorable preacher Wyclif collected together a curious set of men known as the Lollards or Dullards, because they insisted on walking about with their tongues hanging out and because they were so stupid that they could not do the Bible in Latin and demanded that everyone should be allowed to use an English translation. They were thus heretics and were accordingly unpopular with the top men in the Church who were very good at Latin and who liked to see some Dullards burnt before every meal. Hence the memorable grace 'De Heretico Comburendo, Amen', known as the Pilgrim's Grace.
Edward III had very good manners. One day at a royal dance he noticed some men-about-court mocking a lady whose garter had come off, whereupon to put her at her ease he stopped the dance and made the memorable epitaph: 'Honi soie qui maly pense' ('Honey, your silk stocking's hanging down') and having replaced the garter with a romantic gesture gave the ill-mannered courtiers the Order of the Bath. (This was an extreme form of torture in the Middle Ages.)
RICHARD II was only a boy at his accession: one day, however, suspecting that he was now twenty-one, he asked his uncle and, on learning that he was, mounted the throne himself and tried first being a Good King and then being a Bad King, without enjoying either very much: then, being told that he was unbalanced, he got off the throne again in despair, exclaiming gloomily: 'For God's sake let me sit on the ground and tell bad stories about cabbages and things.' Whereupon his cousin Lancaster (spelt Bolingbroke) quickly mounted the throne and said he was Henry IV Part I.
Illustration: Got off the throne
Richard was thus abdicated and was led to the Tower and subsequently to Pontefract Castle where he died of mysterious circumstances, probably a surfeit of Pum-freys (spelt Pontefracts).
They did this in several reigns under such memorable leaders as Black Kat, Straw Hat, John Bull, and What Tyler.
(a) to obtain a free pardon for having revolted.
(b) to find out which was the gentleman when Adam delved and Eve span. (The answer was, of course, Adam, but the mystics of the Church had concealed this dangerous knowledge.)
(c) to find out who was King and which of them was the Leader of the Rebellion.
(d) to abolish the Villein.
The Pheasants' Revolts were therefore purely educational movements and were thus easily suppressed.
II. How Quelled:
(a) the Pheasants were met at Smithfield by the King
who (6) riding forward alone on a white horse answered
object (c) by announcing (I) ' I am your King', and
(II)' I will be your leader'.
(c) the real leader was then slain quickly by one of the Barons.
(d) a free pardon was granted to the Pheasants [see object (a)].
(e) all were then put to death on the ground that they
were Villeins [see object (d)].
These Revolts were thus clearly romantic episodes, and a Good Thing, and the clergy were enabled to prevent the pheasants finding out the answer to object (6).
WHEN Henry IV Part I came to the throne the Barons immediately flung their gloves on the floor in order to prove
1. That Richard II was not yet dead
2. That Henry had murdered him.
Henry very gallantly replied to this challenge by exhibiting Richard IPs head in St Paul's Cathedral, thus proving that he was innocent. Finding, however, that he was not memorable, he very patriotically abdicated in favour of Henry IV Part II.
Even Henry IV Part II, however, is only memorable for having passed some interesting laws against his Old Retainers, i.e. butlers and sutlers, who had irritated him by demanding Liveries, requiring too much Maintenance, etc. He also captured the Scottish Prince James and, while keeping him as a sausage, had him carefully educated for nineteen years; finding, however, that James was still Scotch, Henry IV Part II lost interest in education and died.
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