25John, the youngest son of Henry the second.

[John acts to secure the crown]

John, the youngest son of Henry the Second, was proclaimed King of England, beginning his reign the sixth day of April in the year of our Lord 1199, the first of Philip Emperor of Rome, and the 20th of Philip King of France, King William as yet living in government over the Scots. This man, so soon as his brother Richard was deceased, sent Hubert Archbishop of Canterbury and William Marshall Earl of Striguil (otherwise called Chepstow) into England, both to proclaim him king, and also to see his peace kept, together with Geoffrey FitzPeter, lord chief justice, and divers other barons of the realm, whilst he himself went to Chinon where his brother's treasure lay, which was forthwith delivered unto him by Robert de Turnham, and therewithal the castle of Chinon and Saumur and divers other places which were in the custody of the foresaid Robert. But Thomas de Furness, nephew to the said Robert de Turnham, delivered the city and castle of Angers unto Arthur Duke of Brittany. For by general consent of the nobles and peers of the countries of Anjou, Maine, and Touraine, Arthur was received as the liege and sovereign lord of the same countries.

Strife amongst the English subjects on the other side of the sea.

For even at this present, and so soon as it was known that King Richard was deceased, divers cities and towns on that side of the sea belonging to the said Richard whilst he lived fell at odds among themselves, some of them endeavoring to prefer King John, other laboring rather to be under the governance of Arthur Duke of Brittany, considering that he seemed by most right to be their chief lord, forasmuch as he was son to Geoffrey elder brother to John. And thus began the broil in those quarters, whereof in process of time ensued great inconvenience, and finally the death of the said Arthur, as shall be showed hereafter.

Now whilst King John was thus occupied in recovering his brother's treasure, and travelling with his subjects to reduce them to his obedience, Queen Eleanor his mother, by the help of Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury and other of the noble men and barons of the land, travelled as diligently to procure the English people to receive their oath of allegiance to be true to King John. For the said archbishop and William Marshall Earl of Striguil, being sent over into England (as before you have heard) to proclaim him king,

The states assembled at Northampton.

and to keep the land in quiet, assembled the estates of the realm at Northampton, where Geoffrey FitzPeter, lord chief justice, was present with other of the nobles, afore whom those lords whose fidelities were earst suspected willingly took their oaths of obedience to the new king, and were assured by the same lords on his behalf that they should find him a liberal, a noble and a righteous prince, and such a one as would see that every man should enjoy his own, and such as were known to be notorious transgressors should be sure to receive their condign punishment.

They sent Eustace de Vesey also unto William, King of Scotland, to signify to him,

Eustace Vesey sent into Scotland.

that King John upon his arrival in England, would satisfy him of all such right as he pretended to have within the English dominions. And thus was King John accounted and proclaimed king of England by the general consent of all the lords and barons of the same. The names of the chief of those peers that were sworn (as you have heard) are as followeth: David, Earl of Huntington brother unto William, King of Scots, Richard, Earl of Clare, Ranulf ,Earl of Chester, William, Earl of Tutherie or rather Derby, Walran, Earl of Warwick, Roger La Cie, Constable of Chester, and William de Mowbray, with divers other, whose names I here omit because I would not be tedious and irksome to the readers.

Now the king of Scotland, being informed by the lord Eustace Vesey (who had married his daughter) that there was some hope to be had on his part for the recovery of such seigniories as he and his predecessors sometimes held in England, did further dispatch sundry ambassadors with full purpose to send them over into Normandy unto King John, there to require restitution of the countries of Northumberland and Cumberland with their appurtenances, and he promised also by his letters that if the same might be granted unto him in as ample manner as they had been in times past to his ancestors, he would gladly do his homage to King John, as to the true and lawful king of England for the same, and furthermore yield to him his faithful service against all men so often as he should be required thereunto. Howbeit, when the Archbishop of Canterbury and the rest of the council understood that these ambassadors should pass through England, they would not suffer them so to do, but speedily sent David, Earl of Huntington, into Scotland unto the king his brother, requiring him earnestly that he would not send any ambassadors over as yet, but rather tarry and take patience a while till the king should come over into England; which (as they said) he purposed to do very shortly.

[The influence of Queen Eleanor]

King John also having understanding of his purpose, sent over the said lord Eustace again unto him with the like request, who in such wise persuaded him that he was contented to abide a time in hope of the better success in his late attempted suit. And all this was done chiefly by the working of the king's mother, whom the nobility much honored and loved. For she, being bent to prefer her son John, left no stone unturned to establish him in the throne, comparing oftentimes the difference of government between a king that is a man and a king that is but a child. For as John was 32 years old, so Arthur Duke of Brittany was but a babe to speak of. In the end, winning all the nobility wholly unto her will, and seeing the coast to be clear on every side, without any doubt of tempestuous weather likely to arise, she signified the whole matter unto King John, who forthwith framed all his endeavours to the accomplishment of his business.

30Surely Queen Eleanor, the king's mother, was sore against her nephew Arthur,

Queen Eleanor's envy against Arthur.

rather moved thereto by envy conceived against his mother than upon any just occasion given in the behalf of the child, for that she saw if he were king how his mother Constance would look to bear most rule within the realm of England

Constance Duchesse of Brittany.

till her son should come to lawful age, to govern of himself. ¶ So hard it is to bring women to agree in one mind, their natures commonly being so contrary, their words so variable, and their deeds so indiscreet. And therefore it was well said of one (alluding to their disposition and qualities,nulla diu foemina pondus habet).

When this doing of the queen was signified unto the said Constance, she, doubting the surety of her son, committed him to the trust of the French king, who, receiving him into his tuition, promised to defend him from all his enemies, and forthwith furnished the holds in Brittany with French soldiers. Queen Eleanor being advertised hereof,

queen Eleanor passeth into Normandy.

stood in doubt by and by of her country of Guienne, and therefore with all possible speed passed over the sea, and came to her son John into Normandy, and shortly after they went forth together into the country of Maine, and there took both the city and castle of Le Mans,

The city of Le Mans taken.

throwing down the walls and turrets thereof, with all the fortifications and stone-houses in and about the same, and kept the citizens as prisoners, because they had aided Arthur against his uncle John.

After this, King John, entering into Anjou, held his Easter at Beaufort (which feast fell that year the 18 day of April) and from thence he went straight unto Rouen, where on the Sunday next after Easter being Saint Mark's day, he was girded with the sword of the dutchy of Normandy in the high church there by the hands of Walter, Archbishop of Rouen. And so being invested Duke of Normandy, [he] received the oath, according to the custom,

King John invested duke of Normandy.

that he should defend the church and maintain the liberties thereof, see justice ministered, good laws put in execution, and naughty laws and orders abolished. In the mean time his mother, Queen Eleanor, together with Captain Mercadier entered into Anjou and wasted the same because they of that country had received Arthur for their sovereign lord and governor. And amongst other towns and fortresses, they took the city of Angers, slew many of the citizens,

The city of Angers taken.

and committed the rest to prison.

This enterprise being thus luckily achieved, the residue of the people in those parties were put in such fear that of their own accord they turned to their wonted obedience, seeming as though they would continue still therein. The French king all this while conceiving another exploit in his head more commodious unto him than as yet to attempt war against the Englishmen upon so light an occasion, dissembled the matter for a time, as though he would know nothing of all that was done till the king should be otherwise occupied in England about his coronation.

[John travels to England and is crowned]

In the mean season, King John, having set some stay in his business on the further side of the sea, he left his mother still in Guienne to defend that country against the enemies, and, taking the sea, came over himself into England, landing at Shoreham

King John cometh over into England.

the 25th day of May. On the next day, being Ascension eve, he came to London there to receive the crown. On the morrow after, being Ascension day, when the nobility and commons were assembled and the king brought into the church of Saint Peter at Westminster there to receive his diadem, Hubert the Archbishop of Canterbury, being chief in authority and honor both for his age and calling, spoke these words or the like in substance before the whole assembly, as followeth:

35Hubert the Archbishop of Canterbury's oration to the lords spiritual and temporal in the presence of the king, etc..
Most honorable lords of the spirituality, and most grave and politic peers and barons of the temporality, you are come hither this day to choose you a king, and such a one as (if need should require) may be able of himself to take such a charge upon him, and (having undertaken the same) ready to execute that which he shall think to be expedient for the profit of his subjects. We have therefore one present here among us upon whom hearts and good wills of high and low, rich and poor, do generally depend; a man I doubt not but that for his own part will apply his whole endeavor, study, and thought unto that only end, which he shall perceive to be most profitable for the commonwealth, as knowing himself to be born not to serve his own turn, but for to profit his country and to seek for the general benefit of us that are his subjects.And albeit I am sure that you do well know, how all these qualities are most abundantly planted in the person of John, Duke of Normandy (a person of high prowess and no less prudence, for the which ye ought to judge him right worthy of the government), yet being in doubt least the common fame should carry you away, or lest you should turn your minds to the favor of another, as in respect of some better right by title of a more lawful descent of inheritance pretended by others than he hath to show, I require you to give ear unto my words, who, bearing the state of two manner of persons, ought to be profitable to my country, not only by example and exhortation but also by loyalty and good counsel, which hitherto I have ever studied to perform, and wherein (God willing) I mean to persist, so long as I shall continue in this mortal and transitory tabernacle.Therefore whereas at this present we have in hand to conclude upon such a weighty matter, which being once done cannot be undone, I commend unto you this John, even with all my very heart, and judge that you ought to accept him for your king, who in all things which he shall ordain, purpose, or take in hand, shall not fail so to answer your opinions with his well doing, and so satisfy your good expectations already conceived of him with his diligent providence, that all the whole realm shall not only like of and allow your doing herein, but also with high commendation extol the same to the very stars. These things do I promise unto you, and so far forth as in me may lie, I dare take upon me all chances and perils that may proceed thereof.

When the archbishop had ended his speech, divers held their peace, and many with great zeal saluted King John, whom the same day the said archbishop crowned at Westminster after the manner then used, with great solemnity and no less rejoicing of all such as were present.

At the same time also he received the homages of the lords and barons of the realm, and promised with all speed to have consideration of things that appertained as well to religion as to the due execution of laws, whereby every man might come to enjoy that which was his own by right and due course of justice. We find that there were present at this solemnity and coronation of King John, which was celebrated on the Ascension day the 27th of May, archbishops and bishops to the number of seventeen, as Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, John, Archbishop of Dublin, also the Archbishop of Raguse, William, Bishop of London, Gilbert, Bishop of Rochester, John, Bishop of Norwich, Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, Eustace, Bishop of Ely, Godfrey, Bishop of Winchester, Henry, Bishop of Exeter, Sefride, Bishop of Chichester, Godfrey, Bishop of Coventry, Savarie, Bishop of Bath, Herbert, Bishop of Salisbury, Philip, Bishop of Durham, Roger, Bishop of Saint Andrews in Scotland, and Henry, Bishop of Llandaffe in Wales. The Bishop of Durham found himself somewhat grieved in the matter, making objections that the coronation ought not to be celebrated without the presence of Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, but it prevailed not.

40Besides these bishops, there were of the temporal lords and earls, Robert of Leicester, Richard of Clare, William of Tutburie, Hamlin of Warren, William of Salisbury, William of Chepstow otherwise called Striguil, Walran of Warwike, Roger Bigot, William of Arundel, and Ranulf of Chester with many other barons, lords, knights, and no small multitudes of gentlemen and other common people. The same day of his coronation also,

William Marshall Earl of Striguil. Geoffrey FitzPeter created Earl of Essex.

he invested William Marshall with the sword of the earldom of Striguil, and Geoffrey FitzPeter, with the sword of the earldom of Essex. For although they were called earls and exercised the administration of their earldoms, yet were they not till that day girded with the sword of those earldoms, and so that day they served at the table with their swords girded unto them.

In like manner, Hubert, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was made Lord Chancellor of England;

The archbishop of Canterbury made Lord Chancellor.

who as he uttered some words unadvisedly that showed how he inwardly rejoiced at the king's favor toward him in the gift of this office, and so gloried in the honor whereto he was preferred (which he would never have done, if he had weighed of worldly pomp as by his profession he ought, and as one asketh the question in the same case:

dic mihi numquid
Corporibus prosunt? certe nil. Dic animisne?
Tantumdem, etc.)

the lord Hugh Bardolf said unto him,

The saying of the lord Bardolf.

yet not so softly in his ear, but that some overheard it:

My lord, to speak and not offend you, surely if you would well consider the dignity and honor of your calling you would not willingly yield to suffer this yoke of bondage to be laid upon your shoulders, for we have oftentimes heard of a chancellor made an archbishop, but never an archbishop made a chancellor till now.