Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Loyal Conspiracy by Anthony Goodman

I've been looking for a cheap copy of The Loyal Conspiracy by Anthony Goodman for some time, and the other day I got lucky and found one, in Southport of all places. (Actually, for UKers among you, Southport is a surprisingly good place to go - there are at least three shops with a respectable stock of proper, second-hand books, the sort of business that used to be common but isn't any more.)

As you may have guessed, the book is about the Appellants, and Goodman broadly sympathises with them, as hinted in the title. At one point he refers to the likes of Bagot and Mowbray having to make the sort of choices that were familiar to many in the 20th century - do you know, I think Professor Goodman is almost comparing Richard II to Hitler and Stalin! Well, folks, I know which of the three I'd prefer to deal with, and it certainly wouldn't be any 20th century dictator.

It is a useful book however, and provides a stack of information about the Appellants. One thing I have noticed, already, is how generous Richard II was to Thomas of Woodstock in the 1390s. As late as 16 April 1397, about three months before he was arrested, he was pardoned a debt of £1074, 1 shilling and eightpence farthing that he owed to the Crown. There's more. Goodman reports Froissart saying that in 1395-6 Woodstock was continuously soliciting favours. (My italics). Poor old Woodstock, scraping along on a meagre £2500 a year, easily 1 million in modern money, how he suffered under that brutal regime! Where do I find a government to tyrannise me on similar terms?

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