Chronicle of Matthew Paris: Year 1236

1236

The emperor’s present.

In this year, about the feast of St. Benedict, the emperor sent a handsome present to the king of England, consisting of eighteen valuable horses, and three mules laden with silks and other costly presents. He also sent some valuable horses and other desirable things to Earl Richard, the king’s brother.

Disagreement between the emperor and the Italians.

About this time, the anger of the emperor was kindled against the Italians to such a degree that, fuel being daily added to it, it burst forth into a most implacable hatred. He therefore made a serious complaint of their insolence to his holiness the pope, asserting that the pride of those who hated him always prevailed, and asking the pope, with the assistance of the whole of the Roman court, to give all his attention to bring about the restoration of an honourable peace between him and them ; or else to afford him effectual assistance, so that he might, with outstretched arm, tame and subdue them, and reduce them to their accustomed subjection; as the pope required assistance to be given him by him, the emperor, if the Roman church should happen to want it : wherefore the Roman church was straitened with anxiety and was undetermined how to act. The emperor complained most severely of the city of Milan, which was the nurse and protectress of heretics and rebels against the empire, to attack which place he had in the same year assembled a large army. His son Henry, who was accused of treachery against his father, he detained in close confinement.

A messenger arrives in England from the emperor.

“When the nuptial rejoicings were concluded, the king left London and went to Merton, where he summoned the nobles to hear a message lately brought from the emperor, and to discuss the business of the kingdom. For messengers had come direct from the emperor to the king with letters, asking him without delay to send his brother Richard, earl of Cornwall, whose circumspect skill report had spread far and wide, to make war on the king of the French. He also promised, by way of assistance, to send all the Imperial forces, especially in order to enable the English king not only to recover his continental possessions, but also, when they were regained, to extend his former possessions. To this, the king and the nobles there assembled, after due deliberation, replied that it would not be safe or prudent to send one so young out of the kingdom and to expose him to the doubtful chances and dangers of war, since he was the only apparent heir of the king and kingdom, and the hopes of all were centred in him next to the king. For the king, although he was married, had no children, and the queen his wife was still young, and did not know whether she was fruitful or barren. But if it was agreeable to his excellency the emperor to summon any other brave man he chose, from* December llth. f December 8th.amongst the nobles of the kingdom, for the purpose, they, the king, and all his friends and subjects, in accordance with his request, would at once render him all the assistance in their power. The messengers, on receiving this reply, returned to inform their lord.

King Henry marries Eleanor, daughter of the count of Provence.

Anno Domini 1236, which was the twentieth year of the reign of King Henry the Third, he held his court at “Winchester at Christmas, where he observed that festival with rejoicings. He was at this time anxiously looking for the return of the special messengers, whom he had sent into Provence to Raymond, count of that province, with letters containing his own inmost thoughts about contracting a marriage with his daughter Eleanor. This said count was a man of illustrious race and brave in battle, but, by continual wars, he had wasted almost all the money he possessed. He had married the daughter of Thomas, the late count of Savoy, and sister of the present count, Amadeus, a woman of remarkable beauty, by name Beatrice. This lady had issue by the aforesaid count, two daughters of great beauty, the elder of whom, named Margaret, was married to Louis, theFrench king, as we are told by a clerk named John de Gates ;and the king of England had now, by the aforesaid messengers, demanded the younger one, a young lady of handsome appearance, in marriage. In order to obtain this favour, he had secretly sent Richard, prior of Hurle, in advance, who faithfully and with diligence brought the matter to a conclusion. On the prior’s returning and telling the king the result, the latter sent him back to the count with some other messengers, namely, the bishops Hugh of Ely, and Robert of Hereford, and the brother of Robert de Sandford, the master of the Knights Templars. These messengers were received by the count on their arrival in Provence with the greatest honour and respect, and from his hands received his daughter Eleanor, for the purpose of being united to the king of England; she was also attended by her uncle, William, bishop elect of Yalentia. a man of distinction, and by the count of Champagne, a relation of the English king. The king of Navarre, on learning that they would travel through his territories, went joyfully to meet them, and accompanied them as a guide through his dominions during a journey of five days and more; he also, from his natural generosity, paid all their expenses, both for horses and attendants. Their retinue consisted of more than three hundred horsemen, not including the people who followed them in great numbers. On reaching the boundaries of France, they obtained not only a safe but honourable passage through that country, under conduct of the French king and his queen, the sister of the lady about to be married to the English king, and also of Blanche, the French king’s mother. They embarked at the port of Sandwich, * and with full sail made for Dover, where they arrived, after a quick passage, before they were expected. Having thus safely landed, they setout for Canterbury, and were met by the king, who rushed into the arms of the messengers, and, having seen the lady and received possession of her, he married her at Canterbury; the ceremony being performed on the fourteenth of January, by Edmund, archbishop of that place, assisted by the bishops, who had come with the lady, in the presence of the other nobles and prelates of the kingdom. On the 19th of January the king went to Westminster, where an extraordinary solemnity took place on the following day, which was Sunday, at which the king wore his crown and Eleanor was crowned queen. Thus was Henry the Third married at Canterbury, and the nuptials were celebrated in London, at Westminster, on the feast of St. Fabian and St. Sebastian.

The ceremonies at the marriage of Henry the Third.

There were assembled at the king’s nuptial festivities such a host of nobles of both sexes, such numbers of religious men, such crowds of the populace, and such a variety of actors, that London, with its capacious bosom, could scarcely contain them. The whole city was ornamented with flags and banners, chaplets and hangings, candles and lamps, and with wonderful devices and extraordinary representations, and all the roads were cleansed from mud and dirt, sticks,* This should be ” Quentavic” or ” Wissant. “and everything offensive. The citizens, too, went out to meet the king and queen, dressed out in their ornaments, and vied with each other in trying the speed of their horses. On the same day, when they left the city for Westminster, to perform the duties of butler to the king (which office belonged to them by right of old, at the coronation), they proceeded thither dressed in silk garments, with mantles worked in gold, and with costly changes of raiment, mounted on valuable horses, glittering with, new bits and saddles, and riding in troops arranged in order. They carried with them three hundred and sixty gold and silver cups, preceded by the king’s trumpeters and with horns sounding, so that such a wonderful novelty struck all who beheld it with astonishment. The archbishop of Canterbury, by the right especially belonging to him, performed the duty of crowning, with the usual solemnities, the bishop of London assisting him as a dean, the other bishops taking their stations according to their rank. In the same way all the abbats, at the head of whom, as was his right, was the abbat of St. Alban’s(for as the Protomartyr of England, B. Alban, was the chief of all the martyrs of England, so also was his abbat the chief of all the abbats in rank and dignity), as the authentic privileges of that church set forth. The nobles, too, performed the duties, which, by ancient right and custom, pertained to them at the coronations of kings. In like manner some of the inhabitants of certain cities discharged certain duties which belonged to them by right of their ancestors. The earl of Chester carried the sword of St. Edward, which ‘was called ” Curtein,” before the king, as a sign that he was earl of the palace, and had by right the power of restraining the king if he should commit an error. The earl was attended by the constable of Chester, and kept the people away with a wand when they pressed forward in a disorderly way. The grand marshal of England, the earl of Pembroke, carried a wand before the king and cleared the way before him both in the church and in the banquet-hall, and arranged the banquet and the guests at table. The wardens of the Cinque Ports carried the pall over the king, supported byfour spears, but the claim to this duty was not altogether undisputed. The earl of Leicester supplied the king with water in basins to wash before his meal; the Earl Warrenne performed the duty of king’s cupbearer, supplying the place of the earl of Arundel, because the latter was a youth and not as yet made a belted knight. Master Michael Belet was butler ex offido ; the earl of Hereford performed the duties of marshal of the king’s household, and William Beauchamp held the station of almoner. The justiciary of the forests arranged the drinking cups on the table at the king’s right hand, although he met with some opposition, which however fell to the ground. The citizens of London passed the wine about in all directions, in costly cups, and those of Winchester superintended the cooking of the feast; the rest, according to_ the ancient statutes, filled their separate stations, or made their claims to do so. And in order that the nuptial festivities might not be clouded by any disputes, saving the right of any one, many things were put up with for the time which they left for decision at a more favourable opportunity. The office of chancellor of England, and all the offices connected with the king, are ordained and assized in the Exchequer. Therefore the chancellor, the chamberlain, the marshal, and the constable, by right of their office, took their seats there, as also did the barons, according to the date of their creation, in the city of London, whereby they each knew his own place. The ceremony was splendid, with the gay dresses of the clergy and knights who were present. The abbat of Westminster sprinkled the holy water, and the treasurer, acting the part of sub-dean, carried the paten. Why should I describe all those persons who reverently ministered in the church to God as was their duty 1 Why describe the abundance of meats and dishes on the table 1 the quantity of venison, the variety offish, the joyous sounds of the glee-men, and the gaiety of the waiters? Whatever the world could afford to create pleasure and magnificence was there brought together from every quarter.

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