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English Poetry, July–October 1399, and Lancastrian Crime David R. Carlson University of Ottawa ‘‘Amaster of lies and dissimulation’’ is how J. W. Sherbourne characterized the person who made himself king of England by October 1399: ‘‘It is hard to think of another moment of comparable importance in medieval English political history when the supply of information was so effectively manipulated as it was by Henry IV on this occasion.’’ Sherbourne has it further that the earliest ‘‘clear evidence’’ of a perjured intention to make himself king on Henry’s part, his various solemn undertakings to the contrary notwithstanding, was in an effort to manage information. In August 1399, Henry dispatched writs ordering scrutiny of all chronicae ‘‘regni Angliae statum tangentes et gubernationem , a tempore Willelmi conquaestoris usque ad tempus praesens’’ [’’touching on the status and governance of the realm of England from the time of William the Conqueror up to the present’’], the intelligence gathered thereby—the pertinent chronicles themselves, under seal, in possession of persons ‘‘qui scirent respondere competenter et docere de chronicis supradictis’’ [‘‘competent to explain the chronicles aforesaid and make answer’’]—to be dispatched to Westminster for use of a committee there charged with considering the matter of Richard’s deposition and Henry’s accession to the throne (‘‘deponendi regem Ricardum et Henricum Lancastrie ducem subrogandi in regem materia’’).1 For correction and advice, thanks are due the editor, as well as Steven Justice and R. F. Yeager; also, the other interlocutors of the ‘‘Lancastrian Politics of Culture’’ seminar in the University of Ottawa, especially Andrew Taylor, Siobhan Bly Calkin, and Geoff Rector; and finally, A. G. Rigg, who, i. a., did the better part of the work of reconstructing the text in the appendix. 1 James W. Sherborne, ‘‘Perjury and the Lancastrian Revolution of 1399,’’ Welsh History Review 14 (1988): 218 and 239. The fundamental work on the various accounts of the deposition was that of Maude Violet Clarke and V. H. Galbraith, ‘‘The Deposition of Richard II,’’ Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 14 (1930): 125–81 (rpt. in Clarke, PAGE 375 375 ................. 16596$ CH11 11-01-10 14:07:40 PS STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER The chief product of the committee’s portentous labors was the October 1399 ‘‘Record and Process of the Deposition of Richard II,’’ with its stunning preambular deceit, narrating Richard’s willing resignation of the crown (‘‘vultu hillari’’), twice, on separate occasions.2 The ‘‘Record and Process’’ was enrolled in the rolls of parliament, as the state-official record of events, and then it was also broadcast about the kingdom in various forms—in English even, and with key passages put about in brief pamphlets—coming thereby to dominate the English historical record after the fact, through the work of the compliant chroniclers who used it.3 Fourteenth Century Studies, ed. Lucy S. Sutherland and May McKisack [Oxford: Clarendon , 1937], pp. 53–90), esp. 137–55, as Sherbourne acknowledges. Sherbourne’s insight is the connection between the passage in Walsingham on the writs’ dispatch and Adam Usk’s participant’s account of the committee work at Westminster, bespeaking regal ambitions on Henry’s part (in The Chronicle of Adam Usk 1377–1421, ed. and trans. Chris Given-Wilson [Oxford: Clarendon, 1997], p. 62): ‘‘Item per sertos doctores , episcopos et alios, quorum presencium notator unus extiterat, deponendi regem Ricardum et Henricum Lancastrie ducem subrogandi in regem materia, et qualiter et ex quibus causis iuridice, committebatur disputanda. Per quos determinatum fuit quod periuria, sacrilegia, sodomidica, subditorum exinnanitio, populi in seruitutem redactio, uecordia, et ad regendum inutilitas, quibus rex Ricardus notorie fuit infectus, per capitulum Ad apostolice, extractus de Re iudicata in Sexto, cum ibi notatis, deponendi Ricardum cause fuerant sufficientes.’’ Walsingham’s complete remark is: ‘‘Litterae praeterea missae sunt ad omnes Abbathias regni, et majores ecclesias, ut praelati dictarum ecclesiarum perscrutari facerent cunctas Chronicas regni Angliae statum tangentes et gubernationem , a tempore Willelmi conquaestoris usque ad tempus praesens; ut mitterent certas personas instructas in chronicis, secum ferentes hujusmodi chronicas, sub sigillis communibus dictorum locorum, qui scirent respondere competenter et docere de Chronicis supradictis. Et hae quidem apices missae fuerunt sub nomine regis Ricardi, et privato sigillo suo’’: Chronica maiora...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 375-418
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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