This, in our foresaid holy father's name,
Pope Innocent, I do demand of thee.

King John. What earthly name to interrogatories
Can task the free breath of a sacred king?
Thou canst not, cardinal, devise a name

So slight, unworthy and ridiculous,

To charge me to an answer, as the pope.



Tell him this tale; and from the mouth of England
Add thus much more: that no Italian priest
Shall tithe or toll in our dominions;
But as we under heaven are supreme head,
So under him that great supremacy,
Where we do reign, we will alone uphold,
Without the assistance of a mortal hand:
So tell the pope; all reverence set apart
To him, and his usurp'd authority.


King Philip. Brother of England, you blaspheme in this.

King John. Though you and all the kings of Christendom

Are led so grossly by this meddling priest,

Dreading the curse that money may buy out; 30 And, by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust, Purchase corrupted pardon of a man,


Who in that sale sells pardon from himself;
Though you and all the rest so grossly led
This juggling witchcraft with revenue cherish ;
Yet I alone, alone do me oppose
Against the pope, and count his friends my foes.
Pandulph. Then, by the lawful power that I have,
Thou shalt stand curs'd and excommunicate:
And blessed shall he be that doth revolt
From his allegiance to a heretic;


And meritorious shall that hand be call'd,

Canonized and worshipp'd as a saint,

That takes away by any secret course
Thy hateful life.



[John yields after the insurrection of the barons and the
French invasion.]

King John. Thus have I yielded up into your hand The circle of my glory.

Pandulph. [Giving JOHN the crown.] Take again From this my hand, as holding of the pope, Your sovereign greatness and authority.

King John. Now keep your holy word: go meet the French,

And from his holiness use all your power
To stop their marches 'fore we are inflam'd.
Our discontented counties do revolt,
Our people quarrel with obedience,
Swearing allegiance and the love of soul
To stranger blood, to foreign royalty.
This inundation of mistemper'd humour
Rests by you only to be qualified:

Then pause not; for the present time's so sick,
That present medicine must be minister'd,

Or overthrow incurable ensues.




Pandulph. It was my breath that blew this tempest up

Upon your stubborn usage of the pope;
But since you are a gentle convertite,

My tongue shall hush again this storm of war
And make fair weather in your blustering land.
On this Ascension-day, remember well,
Upon your oath of service to the pope,

Go I to make the French lay down their arms.


[Pandulph interviews the French leader.]

Pandulph. Hail, noble prince of France! The next is this: King John hath reconcil'd Himself to Rome; his spirit is come in



That so stood out against the holy church,
The great metropolis and see of Rome.
Therefore thy threat'ning colours now wind up, 75
And tame the savage spirit of wild war,
That, like a lion foster'd up at hand,

It may lie gently at the foot of peace,
And be no further harmful than in show.

Lewis. Your grace shall pardon me; I will not back:

I am too high-born to be propertied,

To be a secondary at control,


Or useful serving-man and instrument

To any sovereign state throughout the world.
Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars
Between this chastis'd kingdom and myself,


And brought in matter that should feed this fire;
And now 'tis far too huge to be blown out
With that same weak wind which enkindled it.
You taught me how to know the face of right, 90
Acquainted me with interest to this land,
Yea, thrust this enterprise into my heart;
And come you now to tell me John hath made
His peace with Rome? What is that peace to me?
I, by the honour of my marriage-bed,


After young Arthur, claim this land for mine;
And, now it is half-conquer'd, must I back
Because that John hath made his peace with Rome?
Am I Rome's slave? What penny hath Rome borne,
What men provided, what munition sent,
To underprop this action? is't not I
That undergo this charge? who else but I,
And such as to my claim are liable,

Sweat in this business and maintain this war?
Have I not heard these islanders shout out,
Vive le roy! as I have bank'd their towns?
Have I not here the best cards for the game
To win this easy match play'd for a crown?

106. bank'd] besieged.




And shall I now give o'er the yielded set?
No, no, on my soul, it never shall be said.
Pandulph. You look but on the outside of this

Lewis. Outside or inside, I will not return
Till my attempt so much be glorified
As to my ample hope was promised
Before I drew this gallant head of war,
And cull'd these fiery spirits from the world,
To outlook conquest and to win renown
Even in the jaws of danger and of death.

W. SHAKESPEARE (from King John).




At the death of John the English barons soon began to desert the invading army of the French, and rallied round the boy-king Henry III, who became the centre of national hopes and aspirations.

THIS England never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,

But when it first did help to wound itself.
Now these her princes are come home again,
Come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true.

W. SHAKESPEARE (from King John).




The misgovernment of Henry III had led to civil war, which, by the battle of Lewes in 1264, left Simon de Montfort practical ruler of England. In 1265 he summoned the first Parliament in which representatives of both counties and towns sat together. But his rule did not last for many months, and at the battle of Evesham he was defeated by the royalist party under Gloucester and Prince Edward (afterwards Edward I). Montfort himself was killed in the battle, but he was for long afterwards regarded by the English people as a martyr for justice and religion. The verses which follow are a translation of a contemporary poem. IN song my grief shall find relief, Sad is my verse and rude;

I sing in tears our gentle peers
Who fell for England's good.

Our peace they sought, for us they fought,
For us they dared to die;

And where they sleep, a mangled heap,
Their wounds for vengeance cry.
On Evesham's plain is Montfort slain,
Well skill'd the war to guide;
Where streams his gore shall all deplore
Fair England's flower and pride.

Ere Tuesday's sun its course had run
Our noblest chiefs had bled.

While rush'd to fight each gallant knight,
Their dastard vassals fled.

Still undismay'd, with trenchant blade
They hew'd their desperate way:

Not strength or skill to Edward's will,
But numbers gave the day.

On Evesham's plain, &c.

Yet, by the blow that laid thee low,
Brave earl, one palm was given;
Nor less at thine than Becket's shrine
Shall rise our vows to heaven!






« VorigeDoorgaan »