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absent. “Finallie, upon the Ascension day in this second yeare of his reigne, they came eftsoones to a communication betwixt the townes of Vernon and Lisle Dandelie; where finallie they concluded an agreement with a marriage to be had betwixt Lewes the sonne of King Philip, and the ladie Blanch, daughter to Alfonso King of Castile the 8 of that name, and neece to K. John by his sister Elianor. In consideration whereof, King John, besides the summe of thirtie thousand markes in silver, as in respect of dowrie assigned to his said neece, resigned his title to the citie of Eureux, and also unto all those townes which the French King had by warre taken from him, the citie of Angiers onelie excepted, which citie he received againe by covenants of the same agreement. ... The King of England likewise did homage unto the French King for Britaine, and againe (as after you shall heare) received homage for the same countrie, and for the countie of Richmont, of his nephue Arthur.”
The first part of Act III. Scene i. pursues the thread of incident in historical order until we come to the entry of Pandulph, who was not sent to England by the Pope until 1211, when the country was still lying under the interdict of 1208. The quarrel between John and the Pope had arisen soon after 1205 when Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, died, and John had refused to allow Stephen Langton, the Pope's nominee, “to injoy the rule of the bishopricke and dioces of Canturburie". It was not until after the failure of the legates to intimidate John that Innocent absolved his subjects from their allegiance, and declared a kind of Crusade against him. This brings us to 1212.
In Scene ii. of the same Act we find Faulconbridge gloating over the payment of his score against LymogesAustria. Holinshed (see p. xv. ante) mentions the killing in 1199. The writer of the Troublesome Raigne has identified the Duke of Austria who imprisoned Richard Caur-de-Lion in 1193 with Vidomar, Viscount of Limoges. “Brave Austria, cause of Cordelions death” (Troublesome Raigne, i. 446) says the French King; and in a stage-direction the Bastard “chaseth Lymoges the Austrich Duke.”
Then follows the capture of Arthur by John, which brings us back to 1202, when Arthur was taken at Mirabeau, to be imprisoned first at Falaise and afterwards at Rouen. The “assailing" of Elinor in her tent is founded on the chronicler's description of her being hard beset at Mirabeau previous to the turn of fortune which led to Arthur's capture.
Angiers was taken by John in 1206—"comming to the Citie of Angiers, [he] appointed certeine bands of his footmen, and all his light horssemen to compasse the towne about, whilest he, with the residue of the footmen, and all the men of armes, did go to assault the gates. Which enterprise with fire and sword he so manfullie executed, that the gates being in a moment broken open, the citie was entered and delivered to the soldiers for a preie. So that of the citizens some were taken, some killed, and the wals of the citie beaten flat to the ground.” It had previously been taken by the Queenmother in 1199.
In the first scene of Act IV. we are again with Arthur, and the method of the playwrights in dealing
with the actual facts about the prince may be best understood by comparing the words of the chroniclers with the plays. “It is said that King John caused his nephue Arthur to be brought before him at Falais, and there went about to persuade him all that he could to forsake his freendship and aliance with the French king, and to leane and stick to him, being his naturall uncle. But Arthur, like one that wanted good counsell, and abounding too much in his owne wilfull opinion, made a presumptuous answer ; not onelie denieing so to doo, but also commanding King John to restore unto him the realme of England, with all those other lands and possessions which King Richard had in his hand at the houre of his death. For, sith the same apperteined to him by right of inheritance, he assured him, except restitution were made the sooner, he should not long continue quiet. King John being sore mooved with such words, thus uttered by his nephue, appointed (as before is said) that he should be straitlie kept in prison, as first in Falais, and after at Roan within the new castell there. Thus by means of this good successe, the countries of Poictou, Touraine, and Anjou were recovered.
“Shortlie after, King John, comming over into England, caused himselfe to be crowned againe at Canturburie by the hands of Hubert the archbishop there, on the fourteenth day of Aprill, and then went backe againe into Normandie, where, immediatlie upon his arivall, a rumour was spread through all France, of the death of his nephue Arthur. True it is that great suit was made to have Arthur set at libertie, as well by the French king, as by
William de Riches a valiant baron of Poictou, and diverse other noble men of the Britains, who when they could not prevaile in their suit, they banded themselves togither and, joining in confederacy with Robert, earle of Alanson, the vicount Beamont, William de Fulgiers, and other, they began to levie sharpe wars against King John in diverse places, insomuch (as it was thought) that, so long as Arthur lived, there would be no quiet in those parts ; whereupon it was reported that King John, through persuasion of his councellors, appointed certeine persons to go unto Falais, where Arthur was kept in prison, under the charge of Hubert de Burgh, and there to put out the yoong gentlemans eies.
"But through such resistance as he made against one of the tormentors that came to execute the kings commandement (for the other rather forsook their prince and countrie, than they would consent to obeie the king's authoritie heerein) and such lamentable words as he uttered, Hubert de Burgh did preserve him from that injurie; not doubting but rather to have thanks than displeasure at the kings hands, for delivering him of such infamie as would have redoundede unto his highnesse, if the yoong gentleman had been so cruellie dealt withall. For he considered, that King John had resolved upon this point onelie in his heat and furie (which moveth men to undertake many an inconvenient enterprise, unbeseeming the person of a common man, much more reprochfull to a prince, all men in that mood being meere foolish and furious and prone to accomplish the perverse conceits of their ill possessed heart; . ..) and that afterwards, upon
better advisement, he would both repente himselfe so to have commanded, and give them small thanke that should see it put into execution. Howbeit, to satisfie his mind for the time, and to staie the rage of the Britains, he caused it to be bruted abroad through the countrie, that the kings commandement was fulfilled; and that Arthur also through sorrow and greefe was departed out of this life. For the space of fifteen daies this rumour incessantlie ran through both the realmes of England and France, and there was ringing for him through towns and villages, as it had beene for his funerals.” This happened in 1202, Arthur being then fifteen years of age. From this point onward the writer of the Troublesome Raigne “wildly walks” from the path of historical accuracy, and, of course, Shakespeare follows him. A messenger enters while we are still dealing with the events of 1202, to announce the landing of the French, which did not actually take place until 1216. At the same time the apparently recent deaths of Elinor and Constance are announced; Elinor, however, died in 1204, while Constance died three years (not “three days”) before in 1201. With Peter of Pomfret we are in 1212. Concerning Peter, Holinshed has a good deal to say, the most important things for our purpose being as follows: “This Peter, about the first of Januarie last past, had told the king that, at the feast of the Ascension, it should come to passe, that he should be cast out of his kingdome. And (whether, to the intent that his words should be the better beleeved, or whether upon too much trust of his owne cunning) he offered himself to suffer death for it, if his prophesie prooved not true. Heere