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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

That misfortune abroad raised him up opponents at home


[53]

Report 324.

[54] 'Est en volunte de faire proces devers le roy et son roialme pur le dit service et cens recoverir.'

[55] 'Qu'ils resisteront et contre esteront ove toute leur puissance.' Edw Coke first published the document, Institutes iv. 13. In Urban V's letter to Edward in Rainaldus 1365, 13, the demand is not so clearly expressed, but mention is made in it of the Nuncio's overtures; it is to these that the resolution of the Parliament referred.

CHAPTER V.

DEPOSITION OF RICHARD II. THE HOUSE OF LANCASTER.

England did not long maintain herself in the dominant position she then occupied; the plan of extending her rule into Spain proved ruinous to the Prince of Wales. Not merely was his protege overpowered by the French 'Free Companies,' which had gathered round his opponent: a Castilian war-fleet succeeded in destroying the English one in sight of the harbour of Rochelle. On this, their natural inclination towards the King of France awoke in the nobles and towns of South France; without great battles, merely by the revolt of vassals tired of his rule, Edward III again lost all the territories conquered with such great glory, except a few coast towns. Then a gloom settled down around the aged conqueror. He saw his eldest son, who, though obliged to quit France, in England

enjoyed the fullest confidence and had every prospect of a great future, sicken away and die. And he too experienced, what befalls so many others, that misfortune abroad raised him up opponents at home. In the increasing weakness of old age, which gave rise to many well-grounded grievances, he could not maintain the independence of the royal power, with the re-establishment of which he had begun his reign. He was forced to receive into his Council men whom he did not like. He was still able to effect thus much, that the succession to the kingdom came to the son of the Prince of Wales, Richard II. But would he, a boy of eleven, be able to take the helm of the proud ship? Men saw factions arise that grouped themselves round the King's uncles, who were not fully disposed to defend his authority.

The great question for English history now was, whether the Parliamentary constitution, whilst it limited the King's prerogative, would also give him security. For the Commons had been at last admitted into the King's Council chiefly in order that they might withstand the violence of the factions. The situation however was not without its complications, for with the political movement one of yet wider aim was connected.

When the kingdom was at the very height of its power there arose in a college at Oxford the man who began that contest against the Papal supremacy which has never since ceased. John Wiclif attached himself first of all to the political movements of his time. One of his earliest writings


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