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In this accusation (though not in its terms), and in the meeting at Coventry for the purpose of the combat, the stay of proceedings by the King, and the banishment of the two dukes, Shakspeare adheres closely to Holinshed; * but neither the poet nor the chronicler conveys a notion of the nature of the transaction between these two nobles, or the interest which the King had in it, as it is recorded, not only in ancient histories, but in the Records of Parliament.

Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester,t one of the King's paternal uncles, had taken an active part in the accusation and punishment of those ministers and favourites of Richard, who had rendered themselves obnoxious, not only to the peers but to the commons, which latter had now begun to express their opinion and exert their power. Gloucester and the Earl of Arundel i had been mainly instrumental in the appointment of a parliamentary commission, which, in the year 1386, virtually—may, avowedly—superseded the king, now twenty years of age, in the government. § The duke had been one of the lords who preferred an

# ii. 844.

+ Sixth son of Edward the Third.

t Richard Fitz Alan, sixth Earl. Mowbray married his daughter. The present Duke of Norfolk is the represen

tative of both in the female line. § Lingard, iv. 208.

“appeal of treason” against De la Pole, Earl of Suffolk,” the Chancellor, and others. In these proceedings, and in an affray which occurred at Radcot-bridge, when the Duke of Ireland,+ one of the King's favourites, was driven into the Thames, the Earl of Derby (Bolingbroke) and the Earl of Nottingham (Mowbray) took an active part. In 1389 Richard recovered his authority, but some years elapsed before he wreaked his vengeance upon Gloucester. In 1398 several noblemen preferred, in their turn, an “appeal of treason” against Gloucester, Arundel, and others, on account of their former proceedings against Richard's authority. But before Gloucester, who had been arrested and sent to Calais, could be brought to answer to the charge in Parliament, he died at that place, under circumstances which are still in obscurity. Holinshed says that upon the report of a judge, who had been sent to examine him, that he had confessed treason, the King sent the Earl Marshal, Mowbray, to make away with him secretly. i

* This Michael De la Pole had risen to some eminence in the preceding reign, and was created Earl of Suffolk in the ninth year of this reign. He fled and was outlawed in the twelfth year.

+ Robert de Vere, ninth Earl of Oxford, created Marquis of Dublin and Duke of Ireland by this king, whose favourite he was.

: Hol. 837. See Lingard, 242; and Turner, ii. 305, from Froissart and others.

Shakspeare, by the mouths of Lancaster and York, plainly, but in ultra-loyal language, imputes the murder to King Richard. “Gaunt. Heaven's is the quarrel; for Heaven's substitute, His deputy anointed in his sight, Hath caused his death: the which, if wrongfully, Let heaven revenge; for I may never lift An angry arm against his minister.”

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“York. Not Gloster's death
Hath ever made me sour my patient cheek,
Or bend one wrinkle on my sovereign's face.”

It is probable that Richard was always suspected of the murder, as Bolingbroke made it an article of charge against him at his deposition; but the inquiry afterwards instituted in Parliament, under the House of Lancaster, is not to be depended upon.

The Parliament met in 1398 at Shrewsbury, and Hereford obtained for himself a full pardon for all past offences, and then preferred a charge of treason against Norfolk. It is not clear whether he made the charge in enmity against Norfolk, or whether he was required to make it in consequence of reports which had reached the King. His own previous pardon gives him the appearance of turning “King's evidence.” +

* Act ii. Sc. l. + See Lingard, iv. 248.

The charge was founded upon an averment that Mowbray and Bolingbroke (now created Dukes of Norfolk and Hereford) having accidentally met, the former openly communicated to the latter his suspicion that the king, notwithstanding that he had publicly absolved them, would revenge himself upon them for “the matter of Radcot-bridge,” and, with the help of Surry, Wiltshire, and others, would effect the destruction of both of them. This intimation was accompanied by expressions of entire distrust of the king's good faith. The charge was referred to a parliamentary committee, which awarded a trial by combat: this, however, was prevented (as in the play) by the banishment of the accuser for six years, and of the accused for life. “Of the political mysteries,” says Hallam, “which this reign affords, none is more inexplicable than the quarrel of these peers.” So far from being accused of the murder of Gloucester, the offence of Mowbray consisted in confessing his fear of the perfidious vengeance of the king for his co-operation with that duke.

The readers of Shakspeare have generally remarked upon the inequality of the sentences; but the difference made was not without reason. Norfolk, it appears, had acknowledged his guilt, or, at least, what was in those days taken as guilt, in

* Parl. Hist., 236. + Middle ages, ii. 118.

certain particulars, and might, therefore, be justly punished. It is more difficult to say why Bolingbroke was punished at all,” more especially after he had been pardoned in full Parliament. The reason assigned, “to avoid troubles and quarrels between the two dukes and their friends,” does not appear to justify the banishment of both. From the injunction, that when in exile they should not meet, it may, perhaps, be inferred that the whole sentence was really the execution of that vengeance which Mowbray had apprehended in his ill-fated conversation with Bolingbroke. And in this view we may understand the charge, apparently unnecessary when given to two mortal enemies: “You never shall (so help you truth and heaven') Embrace each other's love in banishment.”t The real apprehension was, lest these ancient conspirators should & 4 by advised purpose meet,

To plot, contrive, or complot any ill
'Gainst us, our state, our subjects, or our land.”

There is Holinshed's; authority for describing

* It was subsequently one of the charges against Richard that he had banished Bolingbroke, although he had preferred the charge by the king's command, and was ready to prosecute it.—Art. xi. Parl. Hist., 258.

t Act. i. Sc. 3.

f P. 847; and see Lingard, 253. Walsingham (558) does not mention the council.

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