The Croyland Chronicle: Part II
Succession of Abbats at Croyland; from the final portion of The Second Continuation of the History of Croyland Abbey: 1453-1462 with Notes.
- Kenulph: appointed 716 A.D.
- Turketul: appointed 948 A.D.
- Egelric the Elder: appointed 975 A.D.
- Egelric the Younger: appointed 984 A.D.
- Osketul: appointed 992 A.D.
- Godric II: appointed 1005 A.D.
- Brichtmer: appointed 1018 A.D.
- Wulgat: appointed 1048 A.D.
- Wulketul: appointed 1052 A.D.
- Ingulph: appointed 1075 A.D.
- Joffrid: appointed 1109 A.D.
- Waldev: appointed 1124 A.D.
- Godfrey: appointed 1138 A.D.
- Edward: appointed 1153 A.D.
- Robert de Redinges: appointed 1172 A.D.
- Henry Longchamp: appointed 1190 A.D.
- Richard Bardeney: appointed 1236 A.D.
- Thomas Wells: appointed 1246 A.D.
- Ralph Mershe: appointed 1254 A.D.
- Richard Croyland: appointed 1281 A.D.
- Simon Luffenham: appointed 1303 A.D.
- Henry de Caswyk: appointed 1322 A.D.
- Thomas de Bernak: appointed 1358 A.D.
- John de Asheby: appointed 1378 A.D.
- Thomas Overton: appointed 1394 A.D.
- Richard Upton: appointed 1417 A.D.
- John Litlyngton: appointed 1427 A.D.
- John Wysbech: appointed 1469 A.D.
- Richard Croyland II: appointed 1476 A.D.
- Lambert Fossedyke: appointed 1481 A.D.
- Edmund Thorpe: appointed 1485 A.D.
- Philip Everard, or Evermue: appointed 1491 A.D.
- William Gedyng: appointed 1504 A.D.
- Richard Berdeney: appointed 1507 A.D.
- John Welles, or Bridges: appointed 1512 A.D.
- Abbey Dissolved: 1539 A.D.
In these recent times sprang up between our lord, king Henry the Sixth and Richard, the most illustrious duke of York, those dissensions, never sufficiently to be regretted, and never henceforth allayed: dissensions indeed, which were only to be atoned for by the deaths of nearly all the nobles of the realm. For there were certain persons enjoying the royal intimacy, who were rivals of the said duke, and who brought serious accusations against him of treason, and made him to stink in the king’s nostrils even unto the death; as they insisted that he was endeavouring to gain the kingdom into his own hands, and was planning how to secure the sceptre of the realm for himself and his successors. For this reason he was often summoned by threatening letters to appear in the royal presence, and was as often prevented by his rivals, as he was never allowed to gain admission to the royal presence, nor yet so much as to gain a sight of the king. At last, a solemn oath was demanded of him upon the sacrament at the altar, to the effect that, so long as he should live he would never aspire to the rule of the kingdom, nor in any way attempt to usurp the same. Without any further delay, he was forbidden all intercourse with his adherents, and was most strictly ordered not to presume publicly to go beyond his own estates, or to pass the boundaries of his castles. Upon this, many of the nobles of the realm, who held the said duke in some degree of honor, took it very much to heart that injuries so monstrous and so great should be inflicted upon an innocent man; nay more, for want of free breathing, they were unable to bear this state of things any longer, but determined to watch for an opportunity to inflict due vengeance for their malice upon their malignant rivals; in case they could find any means of removing them from the side of the king, in whose presence they were in continual attendance.
In the meantime, you might plainly perceive public and intestine broils fermenting among the princes and nobles of the realm, so much so, that the words of the Gospel (3), “Brother was divided against brother and father against father:” one party adhering to the king, while the other, being attached to the said duke by blood or by ties of duty, sided with him. And not only among princes and people had such a spirit of contention arisen, but even in every society, whether chapter, college, or convent, had this unhappy plague of division effected an entrance; so much so, that brother could hardly with any degree of security admit brother into his confidnece, or friend a friend, nor could any one reveal the secrets of his conscience without giving offence. The consequence was, that, from and after this period of time, the combatants on both sides, uniting their respective forces together, attacked each other whenever they happened to meet, and, quite in accordance with the doubtful issue of warfare, now the one and now the other, for the moment gained the victory, while fortune was continually shifting her position. In the meantime, however, the slaughter of men was immense; for besides the dukes, earls, barons, and distinguished warriors who were cruelly slain, multitudes almost innumerable of common people died of their wounds. Such was the state of the kingdom for nearly ten years.
While, however, this whirlwind and tempest was still impending, in order that he might, for a short time, avoid the force of the coming storm, king Henry, being inspired by feelings of devotion, came to Croyland, in order to present his humble offerings at the tomb of our holy father Guthlac; this was during the season of Lent, in the year from the Incarnation of our Lord, 1460. Here he stayed, in the full enjoyment of tranquility, three days and as many nights, taking the greatest pleasure in the observance of his religious duties, and most urgently praying that he might be admitted to the brotherhood of our monastery; a request which was accordingly complied with. Shortly thereafter, being desirous to present us with a due return, of his royal liberality he graciously granted and confirmed unto us the liberties of the whole vill of Croyland, to the end that its inhabitants might be rendered exempt from all demands on part of the servants and tax-gatherers of the king. Of this grant we think it not amiss here to set forth the tenor and form.
“Henry, by the grace of God, king of England and France, and lord of Ireland, to all to whom these present letters shall come, greeting. Know ye that we have, of our own free will and certain knowldege, and our of reverence for the blessed and glorious Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Saint Bartholomew, and Saint Guthlac, in honor of whom the monastery of Croyland is founded, granted unto John Lytlington, abbat of the before-named monastery and the monks of the same place and their successors, that they shall henceforth for ever have all fines for all kinds of transgressions, offences, misprisons, negligences, falsifications, contempts, deceits, concealments, and all other kinds of lapses whatsoever, and all amercements, ransoms, payments and penalties incurred or to be incurred, by themselves and all men, tenants, and residents whatsoever in the vill of Croyland in the county of Lincoln, in all Courts whatsoever of ourselves and our heirs, to be adjudged against them, the said men, tenants and residents, as well before ourselves and our heirs as before our barons of the Exchequer and those of our heirs, and before our justices of the Common Pleas and those of our heirs; as also before our seneschal, marshal, and clerk of the market of our house and those of our heirs, and before the justices at the assizes to be held in the county aforesaid * * * * or be be taken or assigned: and before the justices in eyre herafter to be assigned to hold pleas of the crown, common pleas, and pleas of the forest; and before the justices for gaol delivery, and for hearing and determining upon felonies, offences, and other misdeeds, to be assigned; and before all other the justices and ministers whatsoever of ourselves and our heirs, whose duty it shall be to exact fines and amercements, and to levy forfeitures and penalties. And that the said abbat and monks, and their successors shall be at liberty, themselves or by their bailiffs or servants, to levy, receive, and take the said fines, amercements, ransoms, payments and penalties, so due from themselves, the men, tenants, and persons there residing without let or hindrance on part of ourselves or our heirs, as freely and fully as we ourselves should have been enabled to levy, receive and take the same, if we had not granted them unto the before-named abbat and monks, and their successors. We have moreover granted unto the before-named abbat and monks and their successors that they shall for ever have return of our writs, precepts, mandates, and bills of all kinds whatsoever, and execution of the same, by their own bailiff within the vill aforesaid, so far as concerns ourselves or our heirs, or the said abbat and monks and their successors; so that no Sheriff, Escheator, Coroner, Feudary (4), Bailiff, or any other officer or servant whatsoever, of us, or of our heirs, shall in any way intermeddle with any return of writs of this kind, or with the execution thereof, or shall under such pretence enter the said vill in any manner whatsoever, under pain of our heavy displeasure. Witness, &c.”
After the conclusion of these matters, towards the close of the same year, it being the week of our Lord’s Nativity, the said Richard, duke of York, incautiously engaged the northern army at Wakefield which was fighting for the king, without waiting to bring up the whole of his own forces; upon which, a charge was made by the enemy on his men, and he was without any mercy or respect relentlessly slain. There fell with him the at the same place many noble and illustrious men; and countless numbers of common people, who had followed him, met their deaths there, and all to no purpose.
The duke being thus removed from this world, the northmen, being sensible that the only impediment was now withdrawn, and that there was no one now who would care to resist their inroads, again swept onwards like a whirlwind from the north, and in the impulse of their fury attempted to overrun the whole of England. At this period too, fancying that every thing tended to insure them freedom from molestation, paupers and beggars flocked forth from those quarters in infinite numbers, just like so many mice rushing forth from their holes, and universally devoted themselves to spoil and rapine, without regard for place or person. For, besides the vast quantities of property which they collected outside, they also irreverently rushed, in their unbridled and frantic rage, into churches and other sanctuaries of God, and most nefariously plundered them of their chalices, books, and vestments, and, unutterable crime! broke open the pixes in which were kept the body of Christ and shook out the sacred elements therefrom. When the priests and other faithful of Christ in any way offered to make resistance, like so many abandoned wretches as they were, they cruelly slaughtered them in the very churches or church yards. Thus did they proceed with impugnity, spreading in vast multitudes over a space of thirty miles in breadth, and, covering the whole surface of the earth just like so many locusts, and made their way almost to the very walls of London; all the moveables which they could possibly collect in every quarter being placed on beasts of burden and carried off. With such avidity for spoil did they press on, that they dug up the precious vessels, which, through fear of them, had been concealed in the earth, and with threats of death compelled the people to produce the treasures which they had hidden in remote and obscure spots.
What do you suppose must have been our fears dwelling here in this island, when every day rumours of this sad nature were reaching our ears, and we were in the utmost dread that we should have to experience similar hardships to those which had been inflicted by them upon our neighbours? This fact too, in especial gave us additional ground for apprehension, that numbers of persons who lived in the country, being desirous to provide for the safety of themselves and their sacred things, had fled with the utmost speed to this island, as their sole place of refuge. The consequence was, that, by bringing with them whatever treasurers they considered of especial value, they rendered the place a still greater object of suspicion to the enemy. In the meantime our precious vestments were put our of the way, while our jewels, and silver vessels, together with our charters and muniments, were, all of them, hidden and secured within the walls. Besides this, daily processions were formed in the convent, and every night, after matin lauds, prayers and tears were most devoutly poured forth in a spirit of humility and with a contrite heart, at the tomb of Guthlac our most holy father and protector, in order through his intervention to obtain the Divine mercy. In the maintime, at each gate of the monastery, and in the vill adjoining, both at the rivers as well as on dry land watch was continually kept; and all the waters of the streams and weirs that surrounded the vill, by means of which a passage might be made, were rendered impassable by stakes and palisades of exceeding strength; so much so, that those within could on no account go forth without leave first given, nor yet could those without in any way effect an entrance. Our causeways also and dykes, along which there is a wide and even road for foot passengers, were covered with obstacles, and trees, spread along them and laid across, caused no small impediment to those who approached in an opposite direction. For really we were in straights when word came to us that this army, so execrable and so abominable, had approached to within six miles of our boundaries. But blessed be to God, who did not give us for a prey unto their teeth! For, after the adjoining counties had been given up to dreadful pillage and spoil, (that we may here confess the praises of God, in that at the time of his His mercy, He regarded the prayers of the contrite, and in His clemency determined to save us from the yoke of the calamity) our Croyland became as though another little Zoar (5), in which we might be saved; and, by the Divine grace and clemency, it was preserved.
Wherefore, the Lord of Mercy, who, our sins so requiring it, hath oftentimes permitted the wickedness of the unrighteous to prevail, to minister to our punishment, being desirous to put an end to evils of so disastrous a nature, raised up for us a defender in Edward, the illustrious earl of March, eldest son of the before-named noble duke of York, lately deceased. He, being now in his one-and-twentieth year, had remained in Wales ever since the time when his father had met his death. He was now in the flower of his age, tall of stature, elegant in person, of unblemished character (6), valiant in arms, and a lineal descendent of the illustrious line of king Edward the Third. For his father was great-great-grandson to the most illustrious Lionel, duke of Clarence, third son of the before-named king Edward, and cousin in the fourth degree to the most illustrious prince, Richard the Second, the late king of England; who, on the accession of king Henry the Fourth, had been forced to resign the crown of this kingdom. Accordingly, the nobles of the realm, and all the people who inhabited the midland counties of England, as well as those who were situate in the eastern and western parts thereof, or in any way bordered upon the midland districts, seeing that they were despised and abandoned by king Henry, who, at the instigation of the queen, had betaken himself to the north, utterly forsook him, after he had completed a reign of thirty-nine years; and their hearts were now no longer with him, nor would they any longer admit of his being king. Besides, in consequence of a malady that had been for many years increasing upon him, he had fallen into a weak state of mind, and had for a length of time remained in a state of imbecility and held the government of the relam in name only. Upon this, the nobles and people immediately sent special messengers into Wales to the before-named earl of March, in whom they could place entire confidence, to disclose to him the wishes of the people, and request him, with earnest entreaties, to hasten into England to their speedy succour, as further delay only seemed to increase their perils.
Accordingly, in the year of our Lord, 1461, at the beginning of March, the before-named earl of March arrived in England, enjoyed a prosperous voyage, the west wind favouring his passage. Here he was immediately received with unbounded joy by the citizens of London; and, after a short time, Parliament being assembled, amid the acclamations of all he was made king of England. However, he would not at present allow himself to be crowned, but immediately, like unto Gideon or another of the judges (7), acting faithfully in the Lord, girded himself with the sword of battle; and prosperously hastened his steps, being met by bands of warriors innumerable, to avenge the injuries of the Church and the realm. For, as we have already stated, he was then of vigorous age, and well fitted to endure the conflict of battle, while, at the same time, he was fully equal to the management of the affairs of state.
The wretched northmen, upon hearing of this, turned their backs before the face of the pursuer, and hastening their flight, in their alarm were compelled, much against their will, to leave behind them the booty which they had collected in various places, and had been bent upon carrying with them on their return. Upon this, he pursued them as far as a level spot of ground, situate near the castle of Pomfret and the bridge at Ferrybridge, and washed by a stream of considerable size; where he found an army drawn up in order of battle, composed of the remnants of the northern troops of king Henry. They, accordingly, engaged in a most severe conflict (8), and fighting hand to hand with sword and spear, there was no small slaughter on either side. However, by the mercy of the Divine clemency, king Edward, soon experienced the favour of heaven and, gaining the wished-for victory over his enemies, compelled them either to submit to be slain or taken in flight. For, their ranks being now broken and scattered in flight, the king’s army eagerly pursued them, cutting down the fugitives with their swords, just like so many sheep for the slaughter, made immense havoc among them for a distance of ten miles, as far as the city of York. Prince Edward, however with a part of his men, as conqueror, remained upon the field of battle, and awaited the rest of his army, which had gone in various directions in pursuit of the enemy.
When the solemnities of the Lord’s day, which is known as Palm Sunday, were now close at hand, after distributing rewards among such as brought the bodies of the slain and gave them burial, the king hastened to enter the before-named city. Those who helped to inter the bodies, piled up in pits and in trenches prepared for the purpose, bear witness that eight-and-thirty thousand warriors fell on that day, besides those who were drowned in the river before alluded to, whose numbers we have no means of ascertaining. The blood, too, of the slain, mingling with the snow which at this time covered the whole surface of the earth, afterwards ran down in the furrows and ditches along with the melted snow, in a most shocking manner, for a distance of two or three miles.
Just at the same period of time, king Henry fled, together with a few of his followers, into Scotland, in which country, and in the castles bordering theron, he lay concealed, in great tribulation, during the four following years. Queen Margaret, however, with her son Edward, whom she had borne to the afore-named king Henry, took flight to the parts beyond the sea, not to return very speedily.
King Edward, after the festivities of Easter, which he celebrated with great splendour at York, having placed garrisons throughout the whole country in whom he could fully rely, returned, as conqueror, to London. Here he immediately assembled the Parliament, and was crowned at Westminster by the venerable father Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, and solemnly graced with the diadem of sovereignty. In this Parliament it was enacted that whatever had been granted or obtained in the times of the three kings immediately preceding, that is to say, in the times of Henry the Fourth, Henry the Fifth, and Henry the Sixth, was of no validity whatever, but that the same was to be entirely cancelled and annulled. Besides this, the coin, both of gold and silver, was in a similar manner changed and re-coined in order that the name of Henry, which was inscribed thereon, might be utterly obliterated. The consequence was, that, among the other things revoked by this enactment, the charter of vacation of our abbey, which had been obtained in the time of King Henry the Fifth by the venerable father abbat Thomas Overton, of pious memory, as well as the charter which had been lately granted us by king Henry the Sixth, conferring certain privileges and liberties in the vill of Croyland, were pronounced to be utterly devoid of all validity. In these days, the kingdom enjoyed peace, and all people returned thanks to Almighty God for the triumph granted them by heaven over their enemies.
- Known as Bajazet.
- A common name of the Saracens among mediæval writers.
- Alluding to St. Matt. x. 21, and St. Mark xiii. 12.
- An officer of the court of wards, whose duty it was to be present with the escheator, at the survey of the lands of the king’s wards.
- Alluding to Gen. xix. 20.
- This would appear to be rather too favourable a character for Edward the Fourth at any time of his life. The chronicler’s partiality probably limited his powers of discernment.
- Of Isreal.
- He alludes to the battle of Towton.