Monday, 16 June 2008

Mowbray v Bolingbroke (2)

Henry Bolingbroke, having probably talked the matter over with Daddy, broke his tale to the King on or about 20 January 1398, and repeated it to the Parliament that reassembled at Shrewsbury later that month. Richard's initial response was to strip Mowbray of his offices of marshal and admiral. In addition, although Bolingbroke was granted bail on various sureties (including one from his loving cousin, Edward of York) Mowbray was banged up in the Great Wardrobe in London. This suggests that at this point the King thought Henry was telling the truth.

On 23 February, Mowbray was brought before the Council at Oswestry (right up on the northern border of Wales) and denied everything. This led to both men having to attend a further meeting at Bristol in March, this time appearing before a Committee of Parliament. Given that neither of the parties was going to back down, and there were no witnesses, it was pretty inevitable the quarrel was going to have to be decided by combat, and this was what the Committee decided. The combat to be under the auspices of the Court of Chivalry - Edward of York, Duke of Aumale, Constable, and Thomas Holland, Duke of Surrey, Acting Marshal, presiding.

It was widely felt at the time time that the King should have reconciled the pair - this was apparently the advice of the French King to his new son-in-law, while John of Gaunt was allegedly angry about his son having to fight over 'a thing of naught.' All very well, but easier said than done. Far from coming to terms, Bolingbroke chose to add fresh charges. He said that Mowbray was behind all the treasons of the last eighteen years, as well as pinching funds from the Calais garrison and being responsible for the death of the late Duke of Gloucester.

Arrangements were made for a combat outside Coventry on 16 September, and both parties sent off for mail-order armour for the occasion. Edward of York, as Constable, had the job of organising the Big Fight. If only sponsorship had been invented in those days, they could have made a fortune!

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