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papal previsions to benefices and other papal grievances which had
become intolerable^ and were the subjects of general indignation and

In the eleventh year of Richard II. (1388) Henry Spencer, Bishop of
Norwich, had a license to build a castle at North Elmham in Norfolk, and
he seems to have re-built the old manor house which is now in ruins. The
site of the castle was on a mount, surrounded with a deep intrenchment,
containing about five acres, formerly no doubt full of water, to which
belonged a noble demesne and a park. That it was always a place of
strength is highly probable, most of the bishops in ancient days having
castles for their seats.

In ] 389, when John of Gaunt visited Norwich, the citizens received
him with the highest honours, and ten years after they openly espoused
the cause of the house of Lancaster by declaring themselves for his son
afterwards crowned Henry IV.

During this reign the trade of Norwich continued to increase, and laws
were passed for regulating the sale of worsted stuffs. The citizens were
then a plain, homely sort of people, and, like their forefathers, were con-
tent with coarse woollen cloths for their plain clothes.

Great enormities were committed in 1395 by some Danish pirates
cruising off the eastern coast. Several small ships were fitted out to
engage them at the expense of Norwich, Yarmouth, and other towns.
Those ships falling in with the Danes, a sharp conflict ensued, in which
the Norfolk vessels were defeated, and carried to Denmark, where the
Danes obliged the crews to pay large sums of money for their liberation.
The pirates took £20,000 in specie from some merchant vessels sailing

In 1396 Thomas Lord Mowbray, Earl Marshal of England, went on an
embassy to demand in marriage Isabella, daughter of Charles VI. of
France, who became Queen of England, on which the Duke of Gloucester,
the King^s uncle, as also the youngest son of Edward HI., not approving
of the marriage, projected a conspiracy, which he formed at Arundel Castle,
with Richard Fitz Alan, Lord Mowbray, and other lords, for taking the
King Richard II. prisoner and hanging the lords of his Council; but this
Lord Mowbray apprised the King of it. On this information the King
went with an armed force to the duke^s country seat at Fleshy, near
Romford, in Essex, where by stratagem they inveigled him from his
home towards London; when having at the midnight hour reached a
solitary glen near Stratford, in Essex, the King designedly rode off, upon
which the Earl Marshal, with a posse of horsemen, seized upon the duke
and carried him on board a vessel which lay ready in the Thames, whence


he was conveyed to Calais, whore he was smothered between two feather-
beds in September, 1897. Soon after, the Earl of Arundel was arrested,
arraigned, and found guilty of treason, and beheaded in Cheapside,
London, the King himself being a spectator and the Earl Marshal the

In 1397 Richard II. advanced Thomas Lord Mowbray for his base
services, to the title of Duke of Norfolk, with remainder to him and his
heirs male, and granted him the castles, manors, and lands which were
late the Earl of Arundel's, and gave him also the arms of Edward the
Confessor, but his greatness did not last long, as in 1398 the King, who
had been seeking an opportunity of exercising his arbitrary power over
him, readily lent himself to the occasion of a quarrel between him and
the Duke of Hereford (afterwards Henry IV.), which originated by the
latter accusing the former in Parliament of having spoken seditious words
against his Majesty in a private conversation. The Duke of Norfolk,
denying the charge, gave the Duke of Hereford the lie, and offered to
prove his innocence (according to the law of chivalry) by single combat.
As proofs were wanting for legal trial, the lords readily acquiesced in that
mode of determination, and the combat was fixed to take place at
Coventry in the presence of the King, where, on the day appointed, the
champions appeared, when the King stopped the combat, and proclaimed
that both should be banished, Norfolk for life and Hereford for ten years.
They were sent into exile according!}'.

In February, 1399, Henry the Duke of Hereford became Duke of
Lancaster by his father's death, and being informed of the state of the
nation, he landed with a small force at Ravenspur, and was at once joined
by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland. He declared on oath
that his sole design was to recover the estates which had been detained
from him, and this moderation, coupled with his popularity, soon placed
him at the head of 60,900 men. A fortnight elapsed before Richard II.
heard of his cousin's invasion, and after some delay he landed at Milford
with several thousand troops, who nearly all deserted him, and the King
in disguise proceeded to Conway, where he expected to find a numerous
force under the Earl of Salisbury. Most of the earl's followers, however,
had disbanded, only a hundred remaining with him. When the place ol
the retreat of Richard became known, Henry Duke of Lancaster sent the
Earl of Northumberland to visit him, and he by solemn assurances of
safety made himself master of the King's person and led him to his
enemy at Flint Castle. The King was conducted to Chester and thenco
to London, where he was lodged in the Tower. He was soon after deposed
and imprisoned in Pomfret Castle, where it was said he died or was
starved to death.


The state of the roads in the country is indicated by the fact that when
Henry Duke of Lancaster, afterwards Henry IV., rode with his kinsman,
. the unfortunate Richard H., from Conway to London in such haste that
he would not even allow the deposed monarch time to change his clothes,
the journey occupied eleven days upon the road. They rested the whole
Sunday at Lichfield, The greatest distance that they accomplished in
any one day was 24 miles, but 14 miles was the usual average. (See

John Colton, D.D., born at Terrington in West Norfolk, was made for
his excellent endowments Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of L-eland, by
Richard H. He was first chaplain to William Bateman, Bishop of
Norwich, and appointed the first master of Gonville Hall (now Caius
College,) in Cambridge, by the founder of it. He was employed in an
embassy to the Court, of Rome, about the schism made in it by Urban VI.
and Clement VII., which gave him occasion to write a learned treatise —
Be Causa ScMsmat'is, and afterwards another — Be Bemediis Ejusdem.
He resigned his Archbishopric a little before his death in 1404.


There are few subjects that might be more profitably handled than the
history of religious guilds in East Anglia, and indeed in all England,
especially with reference to their great increase about the commencement
of the 14th century. This, we may conjecture, was the work of some
master hand in ecclesiastical polity, having most important results in
increasing the temporal power of the church. The materials before us
were scanty, till three large bundles of the returns made by these guilds,
according to the Government order of Richard II., were discovered among
the miscellanea of the Chancery records. These guilds seem to have had
a good deal of a social and convivial character.

From the regular rules it seems that the guild served not only for
religious purposes, but also as sick and burial clubs of the period. At ,
Norwich especially, the rules of nearly every guild provided for the com-
fortable maintenance and decent interment of any member falling into
poverty ; while at Bury the primary and sole object of the guild seemed
to be to provide for their exclusive spiritual benefit as many masses,
psalms, lights, etc., as possible. Most of the Bury guilds appear to have
been ecclesiastical, founded by priests who were desirous of showing
extra devotion, and this idea is confirmed by the fact that while the rules
of all the Bury guilds were in Latin, those of the Norwich trading guilds
were in English. Each guild was held in some church where it had an
image of its patron saint, before whose shrine wax candles were kept
burning continually, and the decorations of the shrines of the richer


guilds were no doubt very splendid. The richer guilds had also a Guild-
hall^ where they held meetings, but the great event of the year was the
day of the patron saint. Some guilds commenced their devotions on the
preceding evening, and after hearing vespers, and praying for the souls of
all deceased brothers and sisters, they had a light supper of bread and
cheese and beer. On the day itself the scene was a very impressive one. All
the members living within a certain distance, or not hindered by infirmity,
met at a trysting place, probably the Guildhall, dressed in hoods and
uniform, and after forming in procession, carried candles for the use of
the guild to church. Here they heard mass, and after each had made an
offering, returned to the Guildhall, where they dined together, sometimes
at the expense of the guild, and sometimes, in the case of the more thrifty
guilds, at their own expense. They probably dined jovially, as the rules
mentioned money as applicable to the supply of drink ; and from these
guilds probably descended the gorging propensities of the city companies.
At Norwich the guild-day was long devoted to feasting, and the Mayor
for the year generally invited the members of the old Coi-poration to dine
with him in St. Andrew^s Hall.

About twenty guilds or companies Hourished in Norwich for a long
time ; and they held their annual feasts in the Hall in St. Andrew's, now
called St. Andrew's Hall, whereon their arms were hung on the walls.
Besides these trade guilds there was the St. George's Company, which on
all public days contributed greatly to the splendour of the show by the
magnificent dresses, rich banners, &c., that were displayed. This com-
pany or fraternity first began in 1385, and were incorporated by Charter
in 1416. It was called an Association of Brethren and Sisters in Honour
of St. George the Martyr ; and had power to maintain a chaplain, whose
office it was to pray daily for the health of the King with their brethren
and sister? whilst alive, and for their souls when dead. During the reigns
of Hem-y V. and Henry VI. this society was in high reputation ; in the
year 1450, the number of members is stated to have been 264 ; amongst
whom we find the names of the Bishop of Norwich, the Earl of Suffolk,
Sir John Fastolff, Sir Thomas Erpingham, Sir Wilham Phelip, Lord
Bardolf, and Lady Joan his wife, the Lady Joan Thorpe, and many other
celebrated persons of those times.

The trade guilds held annual feasts and pageants, for which Norwich
was celebrated during the Middle Ages. Before the Tudor peiiod, the
most popular festival days were Whit-Monday and Tuesday eveiy year.
On these anniversary days the citizens assembled, and the people from
the surrounding districts flocked into the city, to witness gorgeous pro-
cessions, pageants, and rude dramatic exhibitions. Miracle plays were
performed in the open air, and were got up at an enormous cost to please


the spectators. St. Linkers Guild had for many years the management of
these Whit-Monday exhibitions ; but the expense being very heavy^ St.
Luke^s Guild presented a petition to the Mayor and Corporation, praying
that every other guild should bear the expense of one pageant in the
Whitsuntide procession. The Mayor and Corporation agreed to this, and
accordingly each guild had to pay the expense of a pageant on Monday in
Pentecost week. The assembly -book in the Record-room in the
Guildhall contains a list of the early pageants, entitled " Creation of the
World," ^^Helle Carte," "Paradyse," '^Abell and Cain," "Noyse Ship,"
and other Scripture subjects.

The pageants were exhibited on movable stages constructed for the
purpose. Bach company brought forward its pageant on the stage, where
it was played. These stages comprised two rooms, one above the other,
open at the top. The lower room was used as a dressing-room; the
upper room was the place of performance. Each play was performed in
the principal streets and public places of the city, and scaffolds were
erected to enable some of the spectators to sit during the performance.
The first probably began Oii Tombland, and then moved on to the Market
Hill, where the Mayor took his position at the show. By the time this
pageant was ended, the second was ready to take its place, and then it
moved forward to another street, and then to another, &c,, so that all the
pageants were exhibited at different places about the same time. Order
was thus to some extent well preserved, notwithstanding the great con-
course of people. The pageants were introduced by proclamation of
three heralds, who, after a flourish of trumpets, announced in a lengthy
prologue the various parts of the pageant that were to be exhibited.
The performances, as described, would now appear very ludicrous, and
very like burlesques of the Bible.

In connection with Guilds, there were celebrations of Plough Monday
in agricultural districts. Plough Monday was the name given to a rustic
festival held on the Monday after the feast of the Epiphany, commonly
called Twelffch-day. The members of the Guild went on Plough Monday
to church, and kneehng before the plough rood prayed —

God spede the plow ;

And send us ale and corn enow,

Our purpose for to make —

that is, to carry on their labours on the land and to spend a joyful day at
the plough light of Lygate ; and then to show their belief in the need of
good ale to enable them to work they said —

Be merry and glad ;

'Twas good ale this work mad.

After which, gaily dressed, they passed in procession through the village,


dragging a plough that had been censed with incense by the priest, and
gathering largesses as they went along. It may seem strange to us to
pray for ale, but in those times ale was the common beverage of the
common people everywhere in England, and was thought as necessary
as bread for the support of life. Therefore it was as natural to pray for
ale-coru as to pray for daily bread.


In this fourteenth century, all England had only a population of
0,000,000, and most of the land continued to be uncultivated. The
Eastern Counties contained about a fourth part, or half a million, half of
whom were little better than slaves. The towns were all small with but
a small number of inhabitants, like the country market-towns of the
present day.

After the Norman Conquest, several centuries elapsed before the
oppressed people made any attempts to regain their liberty. Continental
writers of the eleventh and twelfth centuries express astonishment at the
great number of serfs in England, and the harshness of their servitude.
All the cultivators of the land were called bondmen, and could be sold with
their wives and children by the Norman lords. In 1378 a poll tax was
levied of three groats per head upon all persons above 15 years of age.
This led to disorders in Essex, and ultimately to Wat Tyler's rebelHon,
causing thousands of men to take up arms .

On account of the internal wars and commotions that continued without a
pause from the arrival of William I. to the death of King John, the pro-
gress of agricultural or any other industry must have been slow indeed.
The monasteries in East Anglia were the chief seats of agriculture. We
owe the reclamation of a great part of the district entirely to the monks.
They chose, for the sake of retirement, secluded retreats, and they culti-
vated the lands with their own hands.

The wars of the Middle Ages so occupied the time of the nobility and
gentry that agriculture was almost entirely neglected, and rendered land
of comparitively small value. The Norman Kings and barons by their
excessive passion for the chase desolated entire counties. Military
governments for several centuries did not even protect life and property.
Consequently all industry and trade languished. The condition of the
people must have been very bad indeed.

Agricultural operations were not carried on with very great success in
the Eastern Counties. There was a great excess of meadow land, which
was deemed much more valuable than arable land, as the large flocks of
sheep that were fed on the pastures furnished so much wool, the most
profitable export. Many of the larger estates were farmed by the owners


who employed villains or serfs. A full average crop on an acre of wheat
was estimated at nine or ten bushels^, but now it is forty or fifty bushels
per acre on good land.

In 1359 the lord of the principal manor of Hawsted in Suffolk held in
his own hands fifty-seven acres of arable land_, estimated at from 4d. to
8d. per acre^ and eight pieces of meadow land_, valued at 202s. 4d. a-year,
the quantities being about fifty acres ; forty acres of wood at Is. per aere,
and the cropping of the trees and hedges at 6s. 8d. per year. In 1420_,
at Hawsted, eight acres of arable land were let at 6d. per acre, thirty-
eight acres at 9d. The hay was worth 5s. per acre. It should be
remembered that money was then ten times its present value.

In coming to the social condition of the rural population, we must
confess that our information is still very scanty. From gleanings that
may be made among the accounts of agriculture, we gather that some of
the estates must have been veiy large, as well as plentifully provided.
From the estate of the elder Spencer, it is stated that at the commence-
ment of the fourteenth century, his enemies carried off 1000 oxen and
heifers, 1200 cows and their calves, 500 cart horses, 28,000 sheep, and
2000 hogs. Such in all probability were the estates of the highest of
the English nobihty, whose wealth then consisted chiefly in these herds
and flocks, more especially in the Eastern Counties. But in descending
from these extreme to more common cases, let us take, as an example, the
parish of Hawstead in Suffolk, as detailed in Sir T. CuUum's history of
that district. The manor-house, which was of very large extent, was
surrounded by a moat, and had two court-yards and three gardens, with
its due estabhshment of pigeon-houses, rabbit warrens, and fish ponds.
The tenants were thirty-two in number, who held of the lord of the
manor and did him service for the land they occupied, the wages with
which they were repaid being in kind and money ; and independently of
the tenants, he held in his own hands 572 acres of arable and fifty of
meadow land, with sufficient pasturage for the live stock of the manorial
farm. The persons employed in such an establishment were — a steward,
who presided at the manor com'ts, kept the accounts of the farm and
family, and took charge of the domestics ; a bailiff, who superintended
the whole of the farming operations ; a head hai-vestman, elected by the
tenantry ; a sufficient staff of ploughmen, plough drivers, carters, shep-
herds, swineherds, and men of all work. This was a large establishment
to provide for ; but in looking to the live stock, we find that the manor of
Hawstead had ten horses, ten oxen, one bull, twenty cows, six heifers,
ninety-two sheep, two hundred two-year-old sheep, five geese, thirty
capons, one cock and twenty-six hens. Thus we find that the manor was
well victualled, not only for all the inmates, but also for hospitality.


One oviclonce of the happy change in the state of society in the four-
teenth century is to be found in the condition of the rural population.
This no longer consisted only of master and slave^ their sole inheritance
was no longer that of enjoyment or endurance. From both ranks, but
especially the latter, a middle class was being formed, created by the
political necessities of the times, and the yeomanry of England wei-e soon
both in point of influence and number to form a sufficient counterpoise
between the oppressors and the oppressed. There was now a peasantry
in the land who could sit under their . own roofs without fear of dislodg-
ment, and eat the fruits of their own industry.


We have now to introduce to our readers a long line of distinguished
characters in the persons of the Mowbrays, and subsequently, the
Howards, Dukes of Norfolk, who great in the senate, and ever conquer-
ing in the field, became the successive possessors of Framlingham Castle
and all its domains, with estates in Suffolk and Norfolk, except when
banishment, attainders, or executions placed their estates for a time in
regal hands. The Mowbray family generally resided in the Castle at

Thomas Mowbray, the first of these ancient personages, was the second
and only surviving of John Mowbray, lord of the Isle of Axholm, in
Lincolnshire, who had married the lady Margaret^s daughter, .Elizabeth,
by her first husband, the late John, Lord Segravc. In 1398, by the
regular course of descent, he had possession of the castles, honours,
manors, and lands of the Lady Margaret, the late duchess, his maternal
grandmother. Richard II. constituted him Earl Marshal of England for
life in 1385, and as a reward for his base services advanced him to the
title of Duke of Norfolk in 1397. He married first Elizabeth, daughter
of John Le Strange, of Blackmore, in Essex, who died August 23rd,
1383, without issue; secondly, Elizabeth sister and co-heiress of the
unfortunate Earl of Arundel, by whom he had two sons, Thomas and
John ; and two daughters, Isabel and Margaret, who married Sir Robert
Howard, Knt., from whom sprung the Howards, Dukes of Norfolk,
whose names as well as deeds will form a prominent part of this history.
Thomas Mowbray, the first Duke of Norfolk, having been banished, died
in Venice about a year after his sentence, and was buried in the Abbey
of St. George in that city,

Thomas Mowbray, son of the late duke, succeeded to the title and
estates by a grant from the King Henry IV. in 1403, and he married the
King's niece, the Lady Constance, daughter of John Holland, first of that
name, Duke of Exeter. His career was very short, as he conspired with


other lords against the King. He was^ with others, arrested and beheaded
at York. His head was set upon the city walls, and his body was buried
in York Cathedral. The next consequence of this act of treason was the
forfeiture of the duke's real and personal estate to the Crown, but the
King granted it again to his brother, John Mowbray.

In 1413 this John Mowbray had the office of Earl Marshal confirmed
to him by Henry V. on his accession to the throne. In 1415, though
then very young, he was with the King at the siege of Harfleur, and in
1417 at that of Caen, which was taken, and he continued there until the
King's death in 1422. The father of this earl having died without
attainder in 1424, he presented a petition to Parhament for the dukedom
of Norfolk, which being allowed, in 1426 he was declared Duke of
Norfolk as the son of the first duke. Next year he came into possession
of all his lands, castles, &c.

Lady Catherine, his wife, was the daughter of Ealph Neville, Earl of
Westmoreland, by whom he had one son, named John, who succeeded
when he died, in October 19th, 1434, at his manor of Ep worth, in the
Isle of Axholm, and his remains were interred in the chapter house of the
Abbey of the Carthusians, within a tomb of alabaster.

John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, being a minor, was placed under the
guardianship of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. In 1439 he went on an
embassy with other lords to negociate a peace between this country and
France, but they failed in that object.

Within six years after this, upon confirmation of the title of the Duke
of Norfolk to him and the male heirs of his body, he had a grant of place
and a seat in Parliament and all other meetings. In 1447 the Duke,
dreading the factions which were engendering between the rival houses
of York and Lancaster, set out on a pilgrimage to Rome, but after
remaining there a short time, he returned, and conveyed the castle and
manor of Framlingham to John Stafi'ord, Archbishop of Canterbury and
others. He married Eleanor, only daughter of Lord William Bourchier,
and by her had one son. In 1461 he died, and was buried at Thetford.

John Mowbray, the fourth and last of that name, Duke of Norfolk, son

Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 69 of 70)