Sir Thomas Malory, His Turbulent Career: A Biography

By Edward Hicks | Go to book overview
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Chapter III
A "RIGHT WILD" ENGLAND

FROM Sir Thomas Malory, Knight of the Shire representing his county in Parliament, to Sir Thomas Malory arraigned for armed assaults on monasteries in Warwickshire is a startling change. Without some knowledge of the period in question, the change would appear too violent to be credited. "The lawlessness of the country at this time," says Professor Ransome, "was such as had not been tolerated in England for many centuries." The loss of Normandy and the heavy load of taxation which had to be borne as a result of the struggle with France would in any case have made the task of government difficult; but matters were worsened by other evils, among which must be reckoned the removal of bishops from their dioceses in order to perform State duties in London. Thus, the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield had been called from his proper sphere in order to act as chancellor to Queen Margaret of Anjou. It was the neglect of the bishops and clergy to do their several duties that led to Jack Cade's insurrection in 1450, wrote Dr. Gascoigne, an anti-Lollard. As the civil servants of the period, they no doubt could have retorted that they were fulfilling duties which no one else was then qualified to perform. In any case, the Bishop must have had an unenviable task in acting as chancellor to "England's dear-bought queen." So preoccupied was he with his duties at Court that his episcopal register contains

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