Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Volume 35 1853 XXXIII
Archaeologia Volume 35 1853 XXXIII is in Archaeologia Volume 35 1853.
Notices of the Last Days of Isabella, Queen of Edward the Second, drawn from an Account of the Expenses of her Household. By Edw. A. Bond, Esq. Egerton Librarian in the Department of MSS. British Museum. Read March 16, 1854.
The narrative of the deposition and murder of King Edward the Second, as delivered by both early chroniclers and recent historians, so far fails to realise the full interest of its subject, that it leaves in obscurity the subsequent history of the chief mover of those fearful events. The ambitious Mortimer expiates his crimes on the scaffold. Isabella, the instigator of sedition against her king, the betrayer of her husband, survives her accomplice; but, from the moment that her career of guilt is arrested, she is no more spoken of. The name which had before been so prominent, and had moved in us such deep and changing interest, disappears at once and entirely from the narrative. It is briefly intimated that the fallen Queen passed the remainder of her days in seclusion, and we can only speculate in what spirit she bore her humiliation and met the reproaches of her conscience in her long retirement; how far her withdrawal from public life was compulsory; and whether, or to what extent, she recovered her influence over the son she had so inhumanly set against his father. After mentioning the execution of Mortimer, Froissart proceeds to tell us that "the King soon after, by the advice of his Council, ordered his mother to be confined in a goodly castle, and gave her plenty of ladies to wait and attend on her, as well as knights and esquires of honour. He made her a handsome allowance to keep and maintain the state she had been used to, but forbade that she should ever go out or shew herself abroad, except at certain times, when any shows were exhibited in the court of the castle. The Queen thus passed her time there meekly, and the King, her son, visited her twice or thrice a year." All that was added to this account by later historians was, that Castle Rising was the place of her confinement; that after the first two years the strictness of her seclusion was relaxed; that she surrendered her dowry into the King's hands, and received from him, in lieu of it, manors and rents of the yearly value of, at first, £3,000. and, subsequently, £4,000.; that she died at Castle Rising, on the 22nd of August, in the year 1358, and was buried in the church of the Grey Friars, within Newgate, in the city of London.
Recently, however, some further particulars have been collected relative to Isabella's life at this period. Miss Strickland was made acquainted with documents among the records of the town of Lynn, which shewed that greater liberty was allowed to the Queen's motions than had been supposed, and she informs us on their authority that the Queen made a pilgrimage to Walsingham in the year 1332. In the first part of the fourth volume of the papers published by the Norfolk and Norwich Archæological Society, is a paper communicated by Mr. Henry Harrod, Hon. Secretary of the Society, on the subject of Castle Rising, in the course of which further facts relating to Isabella's confinement are brought to light. We are first informed, on the authority of Mr. A. H. Swatman, derived from the Lynn Records, that the Queen was never in the condition of a prisoner at Rising, "for that she occasionally travelled to other parts of the kingdom, once even to London; that she had been at Northampton, Walsingham, and Langley; and, although she was at Rising the year before her death, he did not consider it probable she died there, from the absence of all record of the event or of funeral preparations in the Lynn Records." Mr. IIarrod then quotes from the Patent Rolls a letter of the King, directing certain gentlemen to form an escort for his "dearest mother," in her journey from Berkhampstead to Windsor, where he desired her presence during the feast of Christmas. This letter is dated on the 21st of December, 1330, only a month after Mortimer's execution. Now although, at first sight, this may seem to contradict the general statement of our chroniclers of the Queen's having been committed to confinement in Castle Rising, yet if we refer to Froissart's narration we shall find that the fact of her having been invited to the festivities at Windsor one month after Mortimer's death, does not impugn his actual statement, for his words are that "the King soon after, by the advice of his Council, ordered his mother to be confined in a goodly castle." An interval is specially asserted, therefore, to have lapsed between the punishment of Mortimer and his partner in crime, the guilty Queen. The extract from the Patent Rolls tends to confirm the statement, and justifies us, therefore, in believing the subsequent assertion of the chronicler, that Isabella was afterwards "confined in a goodly castle," supported as it is by the testimony of other chroniclers. Knighton's report is, that Isabella was forced by Parliament to surrender all her lands, and only escaped sentence of death from consideration of her relationship as parent to the King; but that she was required to confine herself to some one residence to be selected by her son; and this regulation was, it is probable, for a time enforced. Of her subsequent liberty of motion Mr. Harrod produces several proofs. A patent of the 12th of Edward III. ( 1338 ) shows that she was at Pomfret Castle [Map], with her household, in that year. An anonymous chronicle in the Harleian MS. 2188, quoted by him, speaks of her being with the King and Queen Philippa at the Palace of Norwich in the year 1344, on occasion of the celebration of the King's birthday. On the 19th of August, in 1315, a Charter, obtained by her for the City of Norwich, was exe cuted by the King at her Castle of Hertford. And, finally, Mr. Harrod prints the inquisition taken at Salisbury after the death of Isabella, which states that she expired, not at Rising, according to the chroniclers, but at Hertford, and on the 23rd day of August, in 1358. In respect to the place, this evidence is fully confirmed by the document I am now about to describe; but not as to the day of her death, which is alleged to have been the 22nd, not the 23rd.
It should be added that Mr. Harrod prints notices of successive entries in the Chancery Rolls, showing that the Queen's yearly allowance of at first 3000, and subsequently 4500 pounds, was cancelled, and replaced by grants of lands to the latter amount, accompanied with full concession of liberties attached to them; and that these lands she had the power of selling or exchanging for others.
The document to which I now wish to draw attention is the Cottonian Manuscript, Galba E. XIV., injured by the fire of 1731, and since restored. It contains an account of the expenses of the household of Queen Isabella from the beginning of October, in the year 1337, to the 4th of December, in 1338, a few days after her burial, and more than three months after her death, which it fixes at the 22nd of August.
The Account is made up in the usual form of royal household books, embracing, in distinct divisions, the general daily expenses; sums given in alms; miscel laneous necessary expenses; disbursements for dress, headed-Magna Garde roba; purchases of plate and jewellery, headed "Jocalia;" gifts; payments to messengers; and, lastly, "Præstita," or imprests for various services.
The first division of the Account states simply the sums expended daily in the different departments of the household; but in the margin are entered the names of visitors who may have been entertained during the day, together with memoranda of the movements of the household from place to place. From these notices, bald as they are, and the study of entries in other divisions of the Account, we are able to gain some insight into the degree of personal freedom enjoyed by the Queen; the connections she maintained or had formed at this period; the consideration she obtained at the Court of the great King, her son; and even into her personal disposition and occupations.
Oct 1357. It appears, then, that at the beginning of October, when the Account opens, the Queen (age 62) was residing at her Castle of Hertford [Map], having not very long before been at Rising. The first visitor we have mention of is the "Comitissa Garenniæ," who sups with her on the fourth. The lady thus designated was Joan (age 61), daughter of Henry Earl of Barr (age 98), and Eleanor, daughter of Edward I. of England; niece, therefore, to Queen Isabella. She was married to John Earl of Warren and Surrey, in the year 33 Edward I., but appears to have been divorced from her husband, on the plea, of a previous marriage on his part, in the year 1345; and, as Dugdale tells us, she had leave to go beyond sea, in the same year, on some special employment for the King. She was one of the ladies, according to Froissart, who accompanied Isabella to England when she sailed from Flanders to the English shore on the expedition so fatal to her husband; and the frequent mention of her in the Account shows that she was in the closest intimacy with Isabella at this time. She visited her constantly, and nursed her in her last illness.
Oct 1357. About the middle of October — the actual date is lost by injury of the document - the Queen (age 62) set out from Hertford on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. She rested at Tottenham, London, Eltham, Dartford, and Rochester, in going or returning visited Leeds Castle [Map], and was again at Hertford at the beginning of November.
She gave alms to the nuns minoresses without Aldgate; to the rector of St. Edmund's in London, in whose parish her hostel was situated — it was in Lombard Street; and to the prisoners in Newgate.
On the 16th of November  after her return to Hertford Castle [Map], she was visited by the renowned Gascon warrior, the Captal de Buche (age 26), cousin of the Comte de Foix. He had recently come over into England with the Prince of Wales, having taken part, on the English side, in the great battle of Poitiers.
On the following day [17 Nov 1357] we have recorded a visit, at dinner, of the "Comes de la March." It might be doubted whether the visitant here mentioned might not have been the Scotish nobleman Patrick Earl of Dunbar and March (age 72), who had recently delivered himself into the hands of the English sovereign as a hostage for the execution of the treaty of Berwick, confirmed on the 5th of October, 1357, for the release of King David. The probability, however, is stronger that the Queen's guest was Roger Mortimer, Earl of March (age 29), the grandson of her favourite. He had been restored to his honours and patrimony, having obtained the reversal of his grandfather's attainder in 1352. He was high in Edward the Third's confidence; was one of the first Knights of the Garter; and had been appointed Constable of Dover Castle, and Warden of the Cinque Ports. He appears to have been in England at the present time; and in the Account before us we find an entry which confirms the conjecture that it was the English, not the Scottish Earl who was intended. Under the head of donations is notice of a sum paid to four minstrels of the Earl of March, and two minstrels of the Earl of Salisbury, for performing before the Queen on the Feast of All Saints, November the first; and it seems highly improbable that the Scottish hostage would have been attended by his minstrels; while the connection of his name with that of the Earl of Salisbury is significant, as that nobleman was the then English Earl of March's brother in-law.
The visit of the Earl of March was, as we shall find, subsequently twice repeated, and then in company with the King, by whom, as Froissart tells us, "he was much loved," and the Prince of Wales. And thus we have an indication that time had scarcely weakened Isabella's fidelity to a criminal attachment; and that, although the actual object of it had been torn from her, she still cherished his memory, and sought her friends among those most nearly allied to him.
On the 28th of November , and two following days, the Queen entertained the Earl of Tancarville, a member of the royal family of France, and at this time in England, as one of the captives of Poitiers; and with him the Earl of Salisbury. Of this latter nobleman, William de Montacute, second Earl, it is noticeable that he too was connected with the Mortimers, being, as we have already stated, brother-in-law to the existing Earl of March2, although his father had personally acted a principal part in arresting Isabella's paramour in Nottingham Castle.
Note 1. Possibly John Melun 1st Count Tancarville although he not a member of the royal family of France?
On the 15th of December  the Queen (age 62) was visited by the Countess of Pembroke (age 40), who passed the entire day with her; and, from the frequency of her subsequent visits, it would appear that she was one of Isabella's closest friends. And, again, what can we infer but a clinging on her part to the memory of her lover, when we find that this lady, widow of Lawrence Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, was none other than Agnes, daughter of Mortimer himself; and that we thus have recorded visits received by Isabella of a daughter, the grandson, and grandson's brother-in law of her favourite, within the space of one month?
On the 24th of December , and on Christmas Day, the Queen (age 62) entertained the Maréchal Arnould D'Audenham, sometimes written D'Andrehen, and Regnaut Sire D'Aubigny, both French prisoners taken at Poitiers. The former, Marshal of France, and a man of great note of the time, is a very frequent visitor with the Queen, and was probably active in concerting terms for a treaty between the crowns of England and France.
On the 10th and 11th of January, 1358, Isabella (age 63) is visited by the Countess of Pembroke (age 41), the Countess of Kent (age 28), and Sir John de Wynewyk. Of these, the Countess of Pembroke has been already noticed. The Countess of Kent was Isabella (age 28), daughter of the Marquess of Juliers (age 59), and widow of John Plantagenet, Earl of Kent. Her husband had died in the year 13531; upon which she took the veil at Waverley [Map]; but afterwards, as Dugdale tells us, "quitting her profession, was clandestinely married to Sir Eustace Dabrischecourt." The name of this knight is usually written D'Ambreticourt. He was the son of Sir Sanchez D'Ambreticourt (age 28), Knight of the Garter, and a descendant of the poor knight of Ostrevant, in Hainault, in whose house Isabella found shelter on her dismissal from the court of her brother, Charles IV. of France, and whom, with his whole family, she had invited over into England, and had in various ways advanced. In reference to the Countess of Kent, Froissart says— "This lady was greatly attached to Sir Eustace D'Ambreticourt, for his gallant deeds of arms, which had been related to her: and she sent him coursers, hackneys, and letters full of love; which so much emboldened Sir Eustace, and spurred him to perform such feats of chivalry and of arms, that all those under him made fortunes." Dugdale tells us, in respect of the Countess's breach of her vows, that "she and her said husband, being personally convented before the said Archbishop of Canterbury in his manor house of Maghfeld," the Archbishop imposed on them a certain penance of prayers and alms very skilfully adapted to their offence.
Of Sir John de Wynewyk, I have been unable to learn anything of certainty. He appears to have been attached to the King's court, and was perhaps the medium employed for managing Isabella's affairs. He visited her and exchanged letters with her constantly.
Note 1. Possibly a mistake for 1352? John Plantagenet 3rd Earl Kent died 26 Dec 1352.
On the 10th of February , messengers arrived from the King of Navarre (age 25), to announce, as it appears elsewhere, his escape from captivity; an indication that Isabella was still busy in the stirring events in her native country.
On the 24th of February  the Countess of Warren (age 62) repeats her visit, and sleeps in the castle.
On the 1st of March , the Earl of Ulster, Lionel (age 19), afterwards Duke of Clarence, son of Edward III., takes supper with the Queen (age 63). It will be remembered that Lionel's daughter, Philippa (age 2), subsequently brought a claim to the English crown into the family of the Mortimers, by her marriage with Edmund Earl of March (age 6).
On the 20th of March , the King (age 45) comes to supper.
On the 21st [Mar 1358], William, Archbishop of Sens, now in England to negotiate a treaty of peace for his Sovereign with the English Monarch, the Maréchal D'Audenham, and the Countess of Pembroke (age 41), spend the entire day with Isabella (age 63); and her grandson, the Earl of Richmond (age 18), arrives to supper.
On the 7th [Apr 1358], the Maréchal D'Audenham visited the Queen and slept at the castle.
On the 12th [Apr 1358], the Countess of Pembroke (age 41) again came to dinner.
On the following day, the 16th of April , Isabella (age 63) set out on a journey from Hertford, and the movements of her household are recorded to have been - on the 16th to Tottenham; on the 17th to London; on the 20th to Shene [Map]; on the 21st to Upton ( near Windsor ), the Queen herself going, it is stated, to Chertsey; on the 26th to Shene again; and on the 30th to London, where it remained till the 13th of May.
Now it must be observed that the Queen separated herself from her household on the 21st, and the account shows, that from the 22nd to the 25th, inclusive, the weekly expenses of the household fell to about half their usual amount. Moreover, an entry under the head of "Alms" makes mention, in reference to this period, of the Queen's journey to Windsor. There is no room for doubt therefore ( though Chroniclers make no mention of the circumstance ) that the object of Isabella's journey was to be present at the festivities held at Windsor by Edward III. in celebration of St. George's Day, the 23rd of April — festivities set forth with unwonted magnificence, in honour of the many crowned heads and noble foreigners then in England, and to which strangers from all countries were offered letters of safe conduct.
Reverting to the notices of visitors from the time of the Queen's leaving Hertford, we find that on the 17th of April , in London, the Maréchal D'Audenham passed the entire day with her; the Countess of Pembroke (age 41) and Sir John de Wynewyk coming to supper.
On the 26th [Apr 1358], having returned to Shene [Map], doubtless from Windsor, Isabella (age 63) receives her daughter Joan Queen of Scotland (age 36), with her retinue. Joan is stated to have come at this time on a political mission to the court of Edward III.; and from the present document it would appear that she continued a guest with her mother Isabella up to the time of the death of the latter; and that even her own dress and the livery of her retinue were supplied from Isabella's funds.
On the 30th of April , Isabella (age 63) returned to London, where she remained till the 11th of May; having her residence in the house of the Archbishop of York.
It must be remembered that at this period anxious efforts were being made by Edward III. to settle terms of a peace with his captive, John of France; and it can hardly be believed that Isabella was inactive in these negotiations. Her presence at Windsor at the festival of St. George, her residence in London, and her frequent communications with the French captives, warrant us in concluding that she did in fact take part in them; and the eager interest with which she watched their progress is proved by an entry in these accounts of a donation on the 10th of May of the considerable sum of six pounds thirteen shillings ( equal in value to about ninety pounds of the present currency ) to a messenger bringing a letter from Sir William de Wynewyk, at Windsor, certifying her of reports of the conclusion of an agreement between the two sovereigns, and of the same sum given by her, the same day, to a courier bearing a letter from Queen Philippa, convey ing the same intelligence.
The following visits, during her [Isabella of France Queen Consort England (age 63)] stay in London, are recorded. On the 30th of April, the Countess of Warren to supper (age 62). On the 1st of May, the Countess of Pembroke (age 41) to dinner; and the King after dinner. On the 2nd of May, the Countesses of Warren (age 62) and Pembroke (age 41) to dinner; and the King (age 45), the Prince of Wales (age 27), the Earl of March (age 29), and others, after dinner. On the 3rd of May, the Countess of Pembroke (age 41) and the Maréchal D'Audenham to dinner; and the Earl of Arundel (age 52), "et plures magnates Franciæ1," after dinner. On the 4th, the Count of Tancarville to dinner. On the 5th, the Countesses of Warren and Pembroke and the Maréchal D'Audenham again to dinner; and the Chancellor of England and many French noblemen after dinner. On the 6th the Chief Justice and the Barons of the Exchequer to dinner. On the four following days, the Countesses of Warren, Kent, and Pembroke dine with the Queen; and on the last of the four Sir John de Wynewyk comes to supper. On the 11th, Queen Philippa (age 43) appears to have dined with Isabella, but the entry is partially obliterated; the Earl Marshal and other noblemen came after dinner. On the 12th, the Countess of Pembroke dined, and the Cardinals ( of Périgord and St. Vitalis ), the Archbishop of Sens, and some French noblemen came after dinner. On Sunday the 13th, the Countess of Warren and others from London, as it is expressed, dined; and the King of France, the Chancellor of England, and others, visited the Queen after dinner.
Note 1. and several magnates of France.
On the 14th of May , Isabella (age 63) left London and rested at Tottenham, on her way to Hertford. She was accompanied as far as Tottenham by the Countess of Warren (age 62), who dined with her there. She arrived at Hertford the following day; and a payment is recorded of a gift of six shillings and eight pence to the nuns of Cheshunt, who met the Queen at the Cross in the high road, in front of their house.
On the 17th [May 1358], a memorandum is made, that the Queen of Scotland (age 36) was with the King at Haveryng.
A few visitors arrived between the 20th and the 23rd of May, but the injury to the manuscript has effaced their names.
On the 24th [May 1358], the Countess of Pembroke (age 41) and some Scottish noblemen came to dinner.
On the 2nd of June , the Countess of Pembroke (age 41) came to dinner.
On the 4th of June , Isabella (age 63) set out on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, and a visit of nearly three weeks' duration to Leeds Castle [Map]. She rested at Tottenham on the 4th, at London on the 5th and 6th, where she received the Countess of Warren (age 62) to dinner, and many noblemen after dinner. At Dartford on the 7th; at Rochester on the 8th, the Countess of Warren again dining with her. At Ospringe on the 9th, and at Canterbury on the 10th and 11th; entertaining there the Abbot of St. Augustine's both days. Under the division of "Alms" are recorded the Queen's oblations at the tomb of St. Thomas; the crown of his head ( the part having the tonsure, cut off by his assassins ), and point of the sword (with which he had been slain); and her payment to minstrels playing "in volta;" as also her oblations in the Church of St. Augustine, and her donations to various hospitals and religious houses in the city.
On the 12th [Jun 1358] she [Isabella of France Queen Consort England (age 63)] returned to Ospringe, and on the 13th proceeded to Leeds Castle, where she remained till the 2nd of July; receiving as visitors the Prior of Leeds and Sir Arnold Savage (age 33), and dining in Langley Park, with many strangers, on the 19th of June; and being at Sutton Park, together with the Queen of Scotland (age 36), on the 25th. It is evident, therefore, that her daughter (age 36) had accompanied her from Hertford.
On Monday the 2nd of July , Isabella (age 63) left Leeds on her return to Hertford; which she reached on the 6th; making the daily stages of Rochester, Dartford, London, and Tottenham. Sir John de Wynewyk supped with the Queen in London, and the Countess of Warren (age 62) and the Maréchal D'Audenham at Tottenham. She was accompanied to Hertford by the Queen of Scotland (age 36). Isabella remained without visitors for some days after her return to Hertford. A memorandum is entered that the King was expected on the 13th of July; and on the 17th, strangers were entertained during the day, but they are not named.
On Sunday the 22nd of July, Robert Lord Morley ( a Norfolk nobleman ), "et plures extranei1," were entertained at dinner.
Note 1. and many strangers.
On the 10th of August , the Earl of Warwick (age 45) came to supper.
On the 21st [Aug 1358] the Countess of Warren (age 62) arrived at the Castle [Map], and remained during the following day, to attend at the death-bed of Queen Isabella (age 63), who expired on the 22nd of August. Sir John de Wynewyk also supped at the castle on the day of the Queen's death.
Respecting Isabella's death, she is stated by chroniclers to have sunk, in the course of a single day, under the effect of a too powerful medicine, administered at her own desire. From several entries however in this account, it would appear that she had been in a state requiring medical treatment for some time previous to her decease.
As early as the 15th of February a payment had been made to a messenger going on three several occasions to London, for divers medicines for the Queen, and for the hire of a horse for Master Lawrence, the physician; and again for another journey by night to London. On the same day a second payment was made to the same messenger for two other journeys by night to London, and two to St. Alban's, to procure medicines for the Queen. On the 1st of August a payment was made to Nicholas Thomasyn apothecary, of London, for divers spices and ointment supplied for the Queen's use. On the 12th of August messengers were paid for several night journeys to London for medicines. On the 20th of August, two days only before the Queen's death, payment was made to a messenger who had been sent to London to fetch Master Simon de Bredon "ad videndum statum Reginæ1." Increased alarm for the Queen's health is now visible, for by a payment made on the 24th of August, two days after her death, it appears that a messenger had been sent to Canterbury "cum maxima festinatione2" with letters of the Queen, to bring Master Lawrence, the physician, to see the Queen's state. And another entry occurs of a payment made on the 12th of September to Master Lawrence, of forty shillings, for attendance on the Queen and the Queen of Scotland, at Hertford, for an entire month. Finally an allowance is made to the accountant, on the 6th of December, in terms which, as they are somewhat obscure, I prefer to quote in the original words, "Magistro Johanni Gateneys, de dono, in precio xv. florenorum de xl. denariis, sibi liberatorum in vita Reginæ, ad decoquend' cum medicinis pro corpore Reginæ3, l. s."
It is evident that the body of the Queen remained in the chapel of the Castle until the 23rd of November, as a payment is made to fourteen poor persons for watching the Queen's corpse there, day and night, from Saturday the 25th of August to that date, each of them receiving two pence daily, besides his food. The body was probably removed from Hertford Castle on the 24th of November, as we find, by the continuation of the Account of the expenses of the household, that on the 22nd and 23rd the Bishop of Lincoln, the Abbot of Waltham (? ), the Prior of Coventry, and "plures extranei4" were there for the performance of a solemn mass in the chapel; and the daily expenditure on those days, and on the 24th, rises from the average of six pounds to fifteen and twenty-five pounds. Moreover, from the 25th to the 28th of November the household is in London, after which it returns again to Hertford. The statement, therefore, of chroniclers that the Queen's funeral took place on the 27th is confirmed. She was interred in the choir of the church of the Grey Friars [Map], within Newgate, now Christ Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury officiating, and the King (age 45) himself being present at the ceremony. Just twenty-eight years before, on nearly the same day, the body of her paramour Mortimer was consigned to its grave in the same building
Note 1. "to see the state of the Queen".
Note 2. "with the greatest haste".
Note 3. "to see the state of the Queen's Master John Gateneys, of the gift, at the price of xv. 40 florins denarii, which had been delivered to him during the Queen's lifetime, to be decoctioned together with the medicines for the Queen's body".
Note 4. "many strangers".
The illustrations I have so far been able to give of the life of Queen Isabella have been drawn chiefly from the notices of her visitors, and of her movements, entered in the margin of the Account of the daily expenses of her household. I now turn to the other divisions of the General Account, distinguished under the heads of Alms, Necessaries, Great Wardrobe, Jewels, Gifts, Messengers, and Imprests, and endeavour to extract from them some indications of the Queen's disposition and pursuits.
The Alms amount altogether to the considerable sum of 2981., equivalent to about 3,000l of present money. They consist of chapel offerings; donations to religious houses; to clergymen preaching in the Queen's presence; to special applicants for charity; and to paupers. The most interesting entry, perhaps, is of a donation of forty shillings to the abbess and minoresses without Aldgate, in London, to purchase for themselves two pitances on the anniversaries of Edward, late King of England, and Sir John of Eltham ( the Queen's son ), given on the 20th of November. And this is the sole instance of any mention of the unhappy Edward II.
I have before alluded to a payment being made to the nuns of Cheshunt for meeting the Queen in the high road in front of their house; and this is repeated on every occasion of the Queen's passing the priory in going to or from Hertford; a custom implying a somewhat servile disposition of the worthy friars towards a royal personage.
There is more than one entry of alms given to poor scholars of Oxford, who had come to ask it of the Queen. A distribution is made amongst a hundred or fifty poor persons on the principal festivals of the year, amongst which that of St. Katharine is included. And doles are made among paupers daily and weekly throughout the year, in the following proportions. The food of thirteen paupers daily throughout the year; of three paupers every Monday; of fifty paupers one day every week, viz., on the day in which the feast of St. Katharine may have fallen; of three paupers every day, for the soul of John of Eltham; and of three paupers every Friday, viz., to every pauper for his food, two pence; and for the food of twenty paupers every Saturday, to each, three pence; of one pauper every Saturday, five pence; and of one pauper every day throughout the year, one penny; amounting together, in the space of one year and a month, to 1021.
On the 12th of September , after the Queen's death, a payment of twenty shillings is made to William Ladde, of Shene, on account of the burning of his house, by an accident, while the Queen was staying at Shene.
Under the head of Necessaries, the first entry is of a payment of fifty shillings to carpenters, plasterers, and tilers, for works in the Queen's chamber; for making a staircase from the chamber to the chapel, and an earthen wall near the chamber, "pro quodam herbario infra construendo1." Afterwards we find half-yearly pay ments of twenty-five shillings and two pence to the prioress of St. Helen's, in London, as rent for the Queen's house in Lombard Street. Large payments on account of an inquisition taken at Coventry, between the Queen and Queen Philippa, relative to rights in the manors of Geddington, King's Clyve, and Bride stock. A purchase of two small "catastæ," or cages, for birds, in the Queen's chamber; and of hemp-seed for the same birds. From an entry under the head of "Gifts," it appears that two small birds were given to Isabella, by the King, on the 26th of November. Payments for binding the black carpet in the Queen's chamber; for repairs of the castle, and of the "palacium juxta castrum2;" lining of the Queen's chariot with coloured cloth; repairs of the Queen's bath, and gathering of herbs for it. Payments to William Taterford for six skins of vellum, and two "pellibus abortivis" ( delicate vellum made from the skin of the calf taken from the womb ), for writing the Queen's books. To the same, for writing a book of divers matters for the Queen, fourteen shillings, including cost of parchment. To Richard Painter, for azure for illuminating the Queen's books. A payment to the same William Taterford, remaining behind at Hertford, after the Queen's departure, to write divers things by the Queen's commands, ten shillings. The repayment of the sum of 200l. borrowed of Richard Earl of Arundel. The purchase of an embroidered saddle with gold fittings, and a black palfrey, given to the Queen of Scotland. A payment to Louis de Posan, merchant of the Society of Malebaill, in London, for two mules bought by him at Avignon for the Queen, 28l. 13s. The mules arrived after the Queen's death, and they were delivered over to the King. It appears, moreover, that shortly before her death the Queen had effected a purchase of a manor in Hatfield; for under the same head of "Necessaria" we find the following entries, "Domino Willielmo de Walcote, clerico, pro manerio suo in Hatfield, cum omnibus pertinentiis suis, ab eo perqui sitis per dominam Reginam sibi et heredibus suis imperpetuum, per manus pro prias, xviij. die Augusti, cxxxiij. libras, vj. solidos, viij. denarios. Diversis hominibus existentibus circa seisinam dominæ Reginæ in manerio quondam Domini Willielmi de Walcote in Hatfield, pro cervisia per ipsos expensa, eodem die, ij. solidos.3".
Note 1. "pro quodam herbario infra construendo".
Note 2. "palacium juxta castrum".
Note 3. "To Sir William de Walcote, clerk, for his manor in Hatfield, with all its appurtenances, from him, through the Lady Queen, to himself and his heirs for ever, by hand for the former, 18 Aug, 137 pounds, 6 solidos, 8 denarios. To divers men existing about the seisin of the lady Queen in the manor of the late Lord William de Walcote in Hatfield, for beer expenses by them, on the same day, ij. solidos."
The division of the account relating to the jewels is chiefly interesting as affording an insight into the personal character of Isabella, and showing that the serious events of her life and her increasing years had not overcome her natural passion for personal display. The total amount expended on jewels was no less than 1,399l, equivalent to about 16,000l of our present currency. And, after ample allowance for the acknowledged general habit of indulgence in personal ornaments belonging to the period, we cannot but consider Isabella's outlay on her trinkets as exorbitant, and as betraying a more than common weakness for these vain luxuries. The more costly of them were purchased of Italian merchants. Her principal English jewellers appear to have been John de Louthe and William de Berking, goldsmiths of London. In a general entry of 421l, paid for divers articles of jewelry to Pardo Pardi and Bernardo Donati, Italian merchants, are included items of a chaplet of gold, set with "bulays" ( rubies ), sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, and pearls, price 105l.; divers pearls, 87l.; a crown of gold set with sapphires, rubies of Alexandria, and pearls price, 80l. The payment was not made till the 8th of August; but there can be little doubt that these royal ornaments were ordered for the occasion of Isabella's visit to Windsor, at the celebration of St. George's Day. Among other entries, one may be distinguished, of a payment of 32l. for several articles; viz., for a girdle of silk, studded with silver, 20 shillings; three hundred doublets ( rubies ), at 20 pence the hundred; 1800 pearls, at two pence each; and a circlet of gold, of the price of 16l., bought for the marriage of Katherine Bronart, dated on the 6th of August: and another of a pair of tablets of gold, enamelled with divers histories, of the price of nine pounds.
The division of "Dona" is a considerable one, and, besides entries of simple presents and gratuities, contains records of gifts to messengers, from acquaintances and others, giving us a further insight into the connections maintained by the Queen. Notices of messengers bringing letters from the Countesses of Warren and Pembroke are very frequent. We have also mention of letters from Sir Thomas de la March, elsewhere described as of France, in November, and again on the 10th of December. Under the head of "Præstita," moreover, is an entry of a sum of 230l, given to this same Sir Thomas de la March, in money, paid to him by the hands of Henry Pikard, citizen of London, ( doubtless the magnificent Lord Mayor of that name, who so royally entertained King John of France, the King of Cyprus, and the Prince of Wales, at this period,) as a loan from Queen Isabella, on the obligatory letters of the same Sir Thomas. Of his descent I can give no account; but he is known as the victor in a duel fought at Windsor, in presence of Edward III., with Sir John Viscomte, in 1350. A document relating to the duel is printed in the Federa, and he is there styled "Bastard of France." To the origin of Isabella's interest in him I find no clue.
One subject to which the payments to couriers refer is the liberation of Charles, King of Navarre; and they are important, as proving that the Queen was not indifferent to the events passing in her native country, but that she was connected with one who was playing a conspicuous part in its internal history - Charles of Navarre, perhaps the most unprincipled sovereign of his age, and known in his country's annals under the designation of "the Wicked." One of the crimes which have made him infamous was the base murder of Charles d'Espaigne de la Cerda, Constable of France, committed by his orders, in 1353. He had been arrested on charges of conspiracy by John, King of France, in Rouen castle, on the 5th of April, 1356, and had been confined in a castle near Amiens; and it is his forcible release from this imprisonment to which these entries refer. The first is of a payment, on the 16th of November, to a courier of the Countess of Warren, bringing letters of his lady to the Queen at Hertford, certifying her of the liberation of the King of Navarre. And this may justify us in suspecting that the Countess of Warren, the most intimate of the Queen's friends, partook, to some extent, of the character of a political agent. On the 10th of December a payment is made to a messenger bringing letters from Piers de St. Pol, certifying the Queen of rumours of the liberation of the King of Navarre. On the 30th of the same month a payment is made to an esquire of Sir Philip de Navarre (brother of the King, and a staunch English partisan), bringing letters from his master. On the 26th of December twenty shillings are paid to Sir Eustace de St. Omer, coming to the Queen from the King of Navarre himself; and, under the head of "Alms," is an entry of a payment of xlvj s. viij d. made on the 8th of June to Frère Jean, Confessor of the King of Navarre, on his return to France. This evident interest of Queen Isabella in the affairs of the King of Navarre becomes the stronger proof of her being still busy in public concerns — although, probably, covertly — when we recollect that the King of Navarre was an ally of our sovereign, and that immediately on his liberation from prison he placed himself at the head of the faction opposed to the Dauphin, and for a time, by the aid of Etienne Marcel, Provost of Paris, obtained complete command of the capital.
Taking the remaining notices of messengers and letters to the Queen in order of date, we have mention of letters of the Queen Joan of Scotland, 20th October; Richard Walshman, the King's butler, coming to the Queen at Hertford, with letters of the King, and a present of three pipes of wine, 24th October; letters from the Countess of Kent, 5th November; letters from Sir John de Wynewyck, 5th November, and repeatedly afterwards; letters from the Countess Marshal ( Mary, daughter of Lord Roos, widow of Thomas of Brotherton, Earl Marshal, son of Edward I., and at this time wife of Sir Ralph Cobham1); a messenger from the King with three casks of Gascon wine, 16th November; letters from Nicholas Maryns, probably a merchant, 20th November; a messenger from the King with a present of small birds, 26th November; Hanekyn de Corby, King of Heralds of France, coming to Hertford "cum uno socio suo2," on what business is not stated, 10th December; John of Paris, coming from the King of France to the Queen at Hertford, and returning with two volumes, of Lancelot and the Sang Réal, sent to the same King by Isabella, 10th December; a messenger bringing a boar's head and breast from the Duke of Lancaster ( Henry Plantagenet ), 6th January; William Orloger, Monk of St. Alban's, bringing to the Queen several quadrants of copper, 6th January; letters from the Queen to the Countess Marshal, at Boyton, 16th January; letters from Sir William Walcote ( the Queen's General Receiver ), 10th February, and often afterwards; a messenger bringing a present of a falcon from the King, 11th February; a present of a wild boar from the King, 13th February; and of a cask of Gascon wine, on the 16th; letters from Maréchal d'Audenham, 27th February; a messenger bringing a present of twenty - four bream from the Countess of Clare, 27th March; letters from the Queen of Scotland, announcing her coming to England, 12th April; letters of Queen Philippa, Sir John Winwick, and Maréchal d'Audenham, conveying intelligence of an agreement between the Kings of England and France, 10th May; a messenger bringing two bucks as a present from the King, 12th July; letters from Lady Isabella ( the King's daughter ), 12th July; letters from the Maréchal d'Audenham, 15th July; letters from the Countess of Tancarville, 18th July; letters from Sir Roger Beauchamp, 10th August; and we omitted a notice of payments to messengers bringing new - year's gifts from the King, Queen Philippa, the Countess of Pembroke, and Lady Wake, on the 6th of January.
Note 2. "with one of his companions".
Frequent payments to minstrels playing in the Queen's presence occur - suffi cient to show that Isabella greatly delighted in this entertainment; and these are generally minstrels of the King, the Prince, or of noblemen, such as the Earl of March, the Earl of Salisbury, and others. And we find a curious entry of a pay ment of thirteen shillings and fourpence to Walter Hert, one of the Queen's "vigiles" ( viol-players ), going to London, and staying there in order to learn minstrelsy, at Lent time; and again, of a further sum to the same on his return from London "de scola menstralcie1."
Note 1. "about the minstrel school".
Of special presents by the Queen we have mention of new-year's gifts to the ladies of her chamber, eight in number, of one hundred shillings to each, and twenty shillings each to thirty-three clerks and squires; a girdle to Edward de Ketilbergh, the Queen's ward; a donation of forty shillings to Master Lawrence the surgeon, for attendance on the Queen, given the 12th of March; a present of fur to the Countess of Warren; a small gift to Isabella Spicer "filiolæ Reginæ," her god-daughter; and a present of 66l to Isabel de St. Pol, lady of the Queen's chamber, on occasion of her marriage with Edward Bronart. Large rewards, amounting together to 540l, were given after Isabella's death by the King's order to her several servants, for their good service to the Queen in her lifetime.
The division of "Messengers" contains payments for the carriage of letters to the Queen's officers and acquaintances. In addition to those already named, we find mention of letters to the Lady de Mohun ( Joan, daughter of Lord Burghersh, and wife of John Lord de Mohun); the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Saltwood; the Abbots of Waltham and St. Alban's; the Prior of Coventry; the Prior of Westminster, "for a certain falcon of the Count of Tancarville lost, and found by the said Prior;" the Earl of Arundel; Lady Wake, at Brunne ( widow probably of Thomas Lord Wake, of Lydel in Cumberland, whose sister was married to Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent, son of Edward the First ); the Chancellor of Navarre, at Dartford; and the Abbot of Pipewell.
It remains only to state the various totals of the several divisions of the Account. The period embraced is from the 1st of October to the 5th of December, the account being continued beyond the date of the Queen's death.
The Household Expenses amount to £4,014 2s 11½d
Alms £298 18s 7½d
Necessaries £1,395 6s 11d
Great Wardrobe £512 10s 4½d
Jewels £1,399 0s 4d
Gifts £1,248 5s 2½d
Messengers £14 12s 10d
Imprests £313 4s 32d
Making a general total of more than £9,000.