Sunday, March 20, 2011

Henry IV of England

Henry Bolingbroke, Henry IV of England, died on March 20, 1413.  Henry was the first Lancaster king.  First cousin to King Richard II, with whom he spent much time growing up, the relationship became strained once the two had competitive interests.  Sir Walter Scott reports the following in "The History of Scotland":
'...a very curious subject of diplomatic discussion subsisted between Henry IV and the Regent of Scotland.

There is a story told by Bower, or Bowmaker, the continuator of Fordun's Chronicle, which has hitherto been treated as fabulous by the more modern historians. This story bears, that Richard II, generally supposed to have been murdered at Pontefract castle, either by the "fierce hand of Sir Piers of Exton," or by the slower and more cruel death of famine, did in reality make his escape by subtlety from his place of confinement; that he fled in disguise to the Scottish isles, and was recognised in the dominions of the Lord of the Isles by a certain fool or jester, who had been familiar in the court of England, as being no other than the dethroned king of that kingdom. Bower proceeds to state, that the person of Richard II thus discovered was delivered up by the Lord of the Isles to the Lord Montgomery, and by him presented to Robert III, by whom he was honourably and beseemingly maintained during all the years of that prince's life. After the death of Robert III, this Richard is stated to have been supported in magnificence, and even in royal state, by the Duke of Albany, to have at length died in the castle of Stirling, and to have been interred in the church of the friars there, at the north angle of the altar. This singular legend is also attested by another contemporary historian, Winton, the prior of Lochleven. He tells the story with some slight differences, particularly that the fugitive and deposed monarch was recognised by an Irish lady, the wife of a brother of the Lord of the Isles, that had seen him in Ireland—that being charged with being King Richard, he denied it—that he was placed in custody of the Lord of Montgomery, and afterwards of the Lord of Cumbernauld—and, finally, that he was long under the care of the regent Duke of Albany. "But whether he was king or not, few," said the chronicler of Lochleven, "knew with certainty. The mysterious personage exhibited little devotion, would seldom incline to hear mass, and bore himself like one half wild or distracted." Serlealso, yeoman of the robes to Richard, was executed because, coming from Scotland to England he reported that Richard was alive in the latter country. This legend, of so much importance to the history of both North and South Britain, has been hitherto treated as fabulous. But the researches and industry of the latest historian of Scotland have curiously illustrated this point, and shown, from evidence collected in the original records, that this captive, called Richard II, actually lived many years in Scotland, and was supported at the public expense of that country.


It is then now clear, that, to counterbalance the advantage which Henry IV. possessed over the regent of Scotland by having in his custody the person of James, and consequently the power of putting an end to the delegated government of Albany whenever he should think fit to set the young king at liberty, Albany, on his side, had in his keeping the person of Richard II, or of someone strongly resembling him, a prisoner whose captivity was not of less importance to the tranquility of Henry IV, who at no period possessed his usurped throne in such security as to view with indifference a real or pretended resuscitation of the deposed Richard...'

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