THE Inquisition was held on Monday, August 23, 1451, and was presided over by Humphrey, Duke of Buckingham, whom Malory would remember meeting in the old days at Rouen when Joan of Arc suffered martyrdom.1 The Duke had just finished punishing Jack Cade's followers at Rochester, and he was now to act as judge upon an indictment in which he was personally concerned. Just as his grandfather had punished those concerned in Wat Tyler's rebellion, so Duke Humphrey, with relentless vigour, had quelled a Lollard rising in 1431 in the neighbourhood of Kenilworth and Coventry.2 Ten years later he had been a member of the special Commission which tried Eleanor Cobham on a charge of witchcraft. Seeing that one of the charges to be preferred against Sir Thomas Malory was that of lying in ambush to attack the Duke, the latter -- according to twentieth-century notions of legal procedure -- would have done well to decline sitting on the Bench on this occasion. But the Duke was not one to be fastidious in a matter of this sort.
Parliament in Richard II's reign had indeed enacted that great lords were not to assert their powers by seating themselves with the King's Judges; but public opin____________________