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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

He first freed himself from the war with France


He

was not however disposed to bear this yoke for ever. He first freed himself from the war with France, which tied his hands; by his marriage with Charles VI's young daughter he sought to win that king over as an ally on his own side; at home too he gained himself friends; when all was prepared, he struck a sudden blow (July 1397), which no one would have expected from him. He removed his leading opponents (above all his uncle Gloucester, and Arundel Archbishop of Canterbury), banished them or threw them into prison: then he succeeded in getting together a Parliament in which his partisans had the upper hand. It moreover completely adopted the ideas of the judges as to the Constitution; it revoked the statutes which had been forced on the King,[60] and gave effect to the sentence of Nottingham. By making the King a very considerable grant for his lifetime, it freed him from the necessity of summoning it anew; he rose at once to a high pitch of self-confidence: he was believed to have said that the laws of England consisted in his word of mouth.

In England, just as in France at the same epoch, political opinions and parties ebbed and flowed in ceaseless antagonism. Richard's success was only momentary. He too, like so many of his ancestors, had incurred a grievous suspicion; the crime laid to his charge was that his uncle, who died in prison, had been murdered there by his command. Besides his absolute rule was not free from arbitrary acts of many

kinds; among the great nobles each trembled for his own safety; the clergy, never on good terms with Richard, were impatient at being deprived of their Primate, who was to them 'the tower in the protecting bulwark of the Church.' In the capital too men were against a rule which seemed to put an end to popular influence; it needed only the return of an exile, the young Henry of Lancaster (whom the King would not allow to take possession of his inheritance by deputy, and who in conformity with the feeling of the time broke his ban to do himself right); all men then deserted the King; the nobles could now think of carrying out the threat which they had once hurled against him.

Richard was compelled to call a Parliament, and at the moment it met to pronounce his own abdication. The Parliament was not contented with accepting this; it wished to put an end to all doubt for the future, and to establish its own right for ever.

A long list of articles was drawn up, from which it was concluded that the King had broken his coronation oath and forfeited his crown; the assembled Estates, when severally and conjointly consulted, held them sufficient to justify them in proceeding to the King's deposition. They named Proctors, two for the clergy, two for the high nobility--one for the earls and dukes, the other for the barons and bannerets, two for the knights and commons--one for the Northern, the other for the Southern counties. They sat as a court of justice before the vacant throne, with the Chief Justice in their midst: then the first spiritual commissioner, the Bishop of S. Asaph, rose, and in the place and name and under the authority of the Estates of the realm announced the sentence of deposition against the late King, and forbade all men to receive any further commands from him. Some opposition was raised; it is said that the Bishop of Carlisle very expressly denied the right of subjects to sit in judgment on their hereditary sovereign;[61] but how could this have had any effect against the Parliament's claim which had been formulated so long?


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