…when you’re looking for other things.
After advice from a Real Historian, I did some digging into the history of the Nevills for the first couple of chapters of the book. In the course of that digging, I came across a chap called Alexander Nevill who was Archbishop of York for a time, got swept up into Richard II’s inner circle and was one of the ‘evil councillors’ opposed (and later dealt with) by the Lords Appellant. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across a Copy of a Libel Against Archbishop Neville, temp Richard II… in an old book while… yes! while I was looking for something else.
Archbishop Nevill wasn’t much liked, it seems, even before he joined the ranks of Richard II’s ‘evil councillors’. From what I’d been able to find out, he was lazy, incompetent, greedy… (“What?” I hear you cry. “A Nevill who was lazy, incompetent and greedy? Surely not!”) … and this document sets it all out rather neatly.
The introduction to this document says “It appears from an original parliamentary petition that two copies of this libel were affixed on the pillar of the Chapter House of Westminster, where the Lords and Commons were assembled in parliament, and a third on the door of Saint Paul’s Cathedral.” Whoever wrote it didn’t like the Archbishop. They really, really didn’t like him!
I set it out here below, in full, with little amendment except orthographic.
The Comunes of Ingelond, wherfor blame ye the Kyng & his Counseil of the unhappe and disese and myschief of this Reamue of Ingelond, that is not a longe on the Kyng, for there is no lond in this world that hath a more rightfull, worthier, a more gentil Kyng than ye have of King Richard; the worthiest prince sone that ever was seye, for was there never Kyng more willy to done worship and ese to the Reaume than he is; and that was sene in Scotland.
But there is an other Kyng in your Lond that is Alisaundre Nero [Nevill] bishop of yorkshire; he distroieth that lond be north & for his vengeaunce of him al the lond shal be distruyed, for godde wote; & the lordes witen wel, & the commons wyten wel, that there nas never siche a tirraunt in holy chirche, no among the commons of this cuntree, for he oppresseth more the cuntree & dothe more extorcione & distruccione & disese to the cuntree than the Kyng & al the Lordes of Ingelond; & that ye wyten wel; bot the Kyng not that of a worde, & if he wist he wold be als evel appayde therewith as the lest man of this lond, & noman wold be wors payde than he, for trewley he destruyeth more the cuntree falsly & extorcionsly than the Kyng, that he tasked the lond ilka your prise, if there dye ony mon in his cuntree, he will have thousand pound or an hundred pound or elles half his good for provyng of his testament, if they be a riche priest or parson or vicar in that cuntree, were he as good a man as Thomas of Canterbery he shal be somound and apper, & he shal be suspended or prived or be condemnpned in the value of his benefyce, or a gret some of gold, and other exterciones without nombre; godde and you and the world wot it wel, that he shuld be a prelate of holy chirche, he is a [??], a thef, a Traytour, bothe to godde & to his Kyng, he maketh to his Kyng as he wer a saynt, but al the world wot it wel, the fayrer he speketh the falsser he is, Kyng Richard man, & no nothern man, that holte of Kyng Alisaundre; for thei dor not sey, were Kyng Alisaundre wel examynd of his extorciones & his mayntenancez and his tyrranttrie that he hath take falsly ageyne the Kynges lawes, he shuld leve for ever the Kyng [??] li. Alas that a tirraunt of holy chirche shal lese al the lond, and the Kyng wot not thereof; ne no man dor tellen it to him.
Alexander Nevill was dealt with by the Merciless Parliament, deprived of his archdiocese, appointed (by a friendly Pope) to the see of St Andrews in Scotland but preferred to live out his life in exile in Burgundy.
Source: Archaelogica: or Miscellaneous Tracts relating to Antiaquity, vol XVI, Society of Antiquaries of London, 1812, p80-83, available online through Google Books.
Walrus tusk crozier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crosier#/media/File:Ivory_crozier_MNMA_Cl13066.jpg