From 1322 to 1326 Edward II was controlled almost entirely by the Despensers, who made enemies everywhere. Queen Isabella, an able woman, alienated from the King, probably contemptuous of his incompetence and jealous of the power of the Despensers, intrigued with Roger Mortimer to dethrone him. The Despensers were hanged and Edward was compelled to resign the crown. Eight months later he was murdered in Berkeley Castle.

(The King, being deposed, surrenders his crown into the hands of the Bishop of Winchester and the Earl of Leicester at Killingworth Castle.)

King Edward.
[Taking off the crown.
Two kings in England cannot reign at once.
But stay a while: let me be king till night,
That I may gaze upon this glittering crown;
So shall my eyes receive their last content,
My head, the latest honour due to it,

And jointly both yield up their wishèd right.
Continue ever thou celestial sun;



Let never silent night possess this clime:
Stand still, you watches of the element;
All times and seasons, rest you at a stay,
That Edward may be still fair England's King!
But day's bright beam doth vanish fast away,
And needs I must resign my wishèd crown.
Inhuman creatures, nursed with tiger's milk,
Why gape you for your sovereign's overthrow? 15
My diadem, I mean, and guiltless life.

See, monsters, see! I'll wear my crown again.
[Putting on the crown.


What, fear you not the fury of your king?—
But, hapless Edward, thou art fondly led;
They pass not for thy frowns as late they did,
But seek to make a new-elected king;
Which fills my mind with strange despairing thoughts,
Which thoughts are martyrèd with endless torments;
And in this torment comfort find I none,
But that I feel the crown upon my head;
And therefore let me wear it yet a while.
Trussel. My lord, the parliament must have
present news;

And therefore say, will you resign or no?


The KING rageth. King Edward. I'll not resign, but whilst I live

be king.

Traitors, be gone, and join you with Mortimer! 30 Elect, conspire, install, do what you will: Their blood and yours shall seal these treacheries. Bishop of Winchester. This answer we'll return, and so farewell. [Going with TRUSSEL. Leicester. Call them again, my lord, and speak them fair;


For if they go, the prince shall lose his right. King Edward. Call thou them back; I have no power to speak.

Leicester. My lord, the king is willing to resign. Bishop of Winchester. If he be not, let him choose.

King Edward. O would I might! but heaven and earth conspire

To make me miserable. Here, receive my crown.
Receive it? no, these innocent hands of mine
Shall not be guilty of so foul a crime:

He of you all that most desires my blood,
And will be call'd the murderer of a king,


Take it. What, are you mov'd? pity you me? 45 Then send for unrelenting Mortimer,

19. fondly] foolishly.

And Isabel, whose eyes, being turn'd to steel,
Will sooner sparkle fire than shed a tear.
Yet stay; for rather than I'll look on them,

Here, here! [Gives the crown.] Now, sweet God of heaven,

Make me despise this transitory pomp,

And sit for aye enthronizèd in heaven!

Come, death, and with thy fingers close my eyes, Or if I live, let me forget myself!


(Berkeley Castle. The King is left alone with Lightborn, a murderer.)

King Edward. Who's there? what light is that? wherefore com'st thou ?


Lightborn. To comfort you, and bring you joyful


King Edward. Small comfort finds poor Edward in thy looks:

Villain, I know thou com'st to murder me.

Lightborn. To murder you, my most gracious lord!

Far is it from my heart to do you harm.
The Queen sent me to see how you were us'd,
For she relents at this your misery:
And what eyes can refrain from shedding tears,
To see a king in this most piteous state?


King Edward. Weep'st thou already? list a

while to me,

And then thy heart, were it as Gurney's is,
Or as Matrevis', hewn from the Caucasus,
Yet will it melt, ere I have done my tale.
This dungeon where they keep me is the sink
Wherein the filth of all the castle falls.
Lightborn. O villains!



King Edward. And there, in mire and puddle, have I stood

This ten days' space; and, lest that I should sleep, One plays continually upon a drum;

They give me bread and water, being a king; 75 So that, for want of sleep and sustenance,


My mind's distemper'd, and my body's numb'd,
And whether I have limbs or no I know not.
O, would my blood dropp'd out from every vein,
As doth this water from my tatter'd robes!
Tell Isabel, the Queen, I look'd not thus,
When for her sake I ran at tilt in France,
And there unhors'd the Duke of Cleremont.
Lightborn. O, speak no more, my lord! this
breaks my heart.
Lie on this bed, and rest yourself a while.
King Edward. These looks of thine can harbour
nought but death;


I see my tragedy written in thy brows.
Yet stay a while; forbear thy bloody hand,
And let me see the stroke before it comes,
That even then when I shall lose my life,
My mind may be more steadfast on my God.
Lightborn. What means your highness to mistrust
me thus?


King Edward. What mean'st thou to dissemble with me thus ?

Lightborn. These hands were never stain'd with innocent blood,

Nor shall they now be tainted with a king's.


King Edward. Forgive my thought for having such a thought.

One jewel have I left; receive thou this:

[Giving jewel.
Still fear I, and I know not what's the cause,
But every joint shakes as I give it thee,
O, if thou harbour'st murder in thy heart,
Let this gift change thy mind, and save thy soul!
Know that I am a king: O, at that name

I feel a hell of grief! where is my crown?
Gone, gone! and do I remain alive?


Lightborn. You're overwatch'd, my lord; lie down

and rest.


King Edward. But that grief keeps me waking I should sleep;

For not these ten days have these eye-lids clos'd. Now, as I speak, they fall; and yet with fear Open again. O wherefore sitt'st thou here?

Lightborn. If you mistrust me, I'll be gone, my lord.


King Edward. No, no; for if thou mean'st to murder me,

Thou wilt return again; and therefore stay. [Sleeps. Lightborn. He sleeps.

King Edward. [waking.] O!

Let me not die; yet stay, O stay a while!
Lightborn. How now, my lord?


King Edward. Something still buzzeth in mine


And tells me, if I sleep I never wake;

This fear is that which makes me tremble thus ; And therefore tell me, wherefore art thou come ? Lightborn. To rid thee of thy life.—Matrevis, come.


King Edward. I am too weak and feeble to resist.

Assist me, sweet God, and receive my soul !


MATREVIS brings in a table. KING EDWARD is murdered by holding him down on the bed with the table, and stamping on it.

C. MARLOWE (from Edward II).

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