King Richard the Second lived in the days when the chivalry of feudal times was in all its glory. His father, the Black Prince; his uncles, the sons of Edward the Third, and his ancestors in a long line, extending back to the days of Richard the First, were among the most illustrious knights of Europe in those days, and their history abounds in the wonderful exploits, the narrow escapes, and the romantic adventures, for which the knights errant of the Middle Ages were so renowned. This volume takes up the story of English history at the death of Richard the First, and continues it to the time of the deposition and death of Richard the Second, with a view of presenting as complete a picture as is possible, within such limits, of the ideas and principles, the manners and customs, and the extraordinary military undertakings and exploits of that wonderful age.
The child of Edward the Black Prince, who afterward became Richard the Second, king of England, was born at Bordeaux, in the southwestern part of France, in the year 1367, in the midst of a scene of great military bustle and excitement. The circumstances were these.
When peace was finally made between England and France, after the wars described in the last chapter were over, one of the results of the treaty which was made was that certain provinces in the southwestern part of France were ceded to England, and formed into a principality called Aquitaine, and this principality was placed under the dominion of the Black Prince. The title of the prince was thenceforth not only Prince of Wales, but also Prince of Aquitaine. The city of Bordeaux, near the mouth of the Garonne was the chief city of Aquitaine. There the prince established his court, and reigned, as it were, for several years in great splendor. The fame which he had acquired attracted to his court a great number of knights and nobles from all lands, and whenever a great personage had any wrongs, real or imaginary, to be redressed, or any political end to gain which required the force of arms, he was very likely to come to the Prince of Aquitaine, in order, if possible, to secure his aid. Prince Edward was rather pleased than otherwise with these applications, for he loved war much better than peace, and, though he evinced a great deal of moderation and generosity in his conduct in the treatment of his vanquished enemies, he was none the less really excited and pleased with the glory and renown which his victories gained him.
About six months before Richard was born, while Edward was living with the princess, his wife, in Bordeaux, he received an application for aid from a certain Don Pedro, who claimed to be King of Navarre in Spain, but who had been expelled from his kingdom by his brother. There was also a certain James who claimed to be the King of Majorca, a large island in the Mediterranean Sea, who was in much the same situation in respect to his kingdom. Prince Edward promised to aid Don Pedro in recovering his throne, and he forthwith began to make preparations to this end. He also promised James that, as soon as he had accomplished the work which he had undertaken for Don Pedro, he would fit out an expedition to Majorca, and so restore him too to his kingdom.
The preparations which he made for the expedition into Spain were prosecuted in a very vigorous manner. Don Pedro was destitute of means as well as of men, and Edward was obliged to raise a large sum of money for the provisioning and paying of his troops. His vassals, the nobles and barons of his principality, were obliged to furnish the men, it being the custom in those times that each vassal should bring to his lord, in case of war, as many soldiers as could be spared from among his own tenants and retainers—some fifty, some one hundred, and some two hundred, or even more, according to the extent and populousness of their estates. One of the nobles in Prince Edward’s service, named Lord D’Albret, had offered to bring a thousand men. The prince had asked him on some public occasion, in presence of other knights and noblemen, how many men he could furnish for the expedition.