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A Pious and Learned SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE HIGH COURT OF Parliament, 1. H. 4. by THOMAS MERCKS then Biſhop of CARLILE.

WHEREIN HEE GRAVELY AND Judiciouſly Declares his opinion concer­ning the Queſtion, What ſhould be done with the Depoſed King RICHARD the Second.

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London printed for N. V. and J. B. ••••

A Speech wiſe and Religious, Spoken in the High Court of Parliament in the I. yeare of the Raigne of H. the 4. by the pious, learned, pillar of the Church, Thomas Mercks Biſhop. of CARLILE.

THomas Mercks the Biſhop of Carlile, a man that uſed both liberty and conſtancie in a good cauſe; in his private judgement, having never allowed theſe proceedings, but diſſembled his diſlike, till fit time to declare it, being in a place to be heard, and by the order of the Houſe, not to be inter­rupted of any, roſe up, and with a grave countenance, and ſet­led courage, ſaid; This Queſtion (right Honourable) con­cerneth a matter of great conſequence and weight, the deter­mining whereof will aſſuredly procure either quiet or tur­moyle, both to the publike State, and our particular conſcien­ces. Therefore before any reſolution thereof be given, I be­ſeech you to take into your more ſerious conſideration, theſe two things: Firſt, whether King Richard be ſufficiently de­poſed or not: Secondly, whether King Henry be by Inſtice and good adviſement ſeated in the Succeſſion: In the firſt point is to be examined, whether a King by lineall ſucceſſion, crowned, annointed, and lawfully inveſted, may upon impu­tation, either of negligence or tyranny, be depoſed by his Subjects? ſecondly, what Richard had omitted in the one, or committed in the other, that might deſerve that heavie judge­ment? I will not diſpute what may be done, in a Popular, or Conſular eſtate, in which though one beareth the Title and Honour of a Prince, yet he hath no ſupreme power of a King. But in the one the Nobility, and chiefe men of State; in the other, the people have greateſt Prerogative: in neither the Prince. Of the laſt ſort was the Common wealth of the La­cedemonians, who by that forme of government which Licur­gus framed, oftentimes fined, ſometimes fettered their Prin­ces, ſometimes put them to death; ſuch were the petty Kings in France in Caeſars time, who were oftentimes arraigned and executed: and the Princes of the Leodinſes, as Ambiorix confeſſed, had no greater power over their ſubjects, than their ſubjects had over them. And of the ſecond condition were the Roman Emperours at the firſt, being ſubject to the cenſure of the Senate; and ſuch are now the Emperours of Germany; whom the other Princes by their Ariſtocraticall power, doe not onely reſtraine, but ſometimes remove; ſuch are the Kings of Denmarke and Swethland, who are many times by their Nobility dejected, either into priſon or exile: ſuch are the Dukes of Venice, and ſome other free States of Italy: And the chiefeſt cauſe why Lewis Earle of Flanders, was lately ex­pelled, was for aſſuming unto himſelfe the Cognizance of life and death, which Authority was never incident to his Dig­nity. In theſe and ſuch like Governments, the Prince hath not abſolute Regality, but is himſelfe ſubject to that power, which is more tranſcendent then his, whether it be in the No­bility or multitude. But if the Soveraigne Majeſty be in the Prince, as it was in the firſt three Emperours, and in the Kingdomes of Iudaea and Iſrael, and is now in the Kingdomes of England, France, Scotland, Spaine, Muſcovia, Turkie, Tar­tary, Perſia, Ethiopia, and almoſt all the Kingdomes of Aſia, and Africa; although for his vices, he be unprofitable to the Subjects, yea hurtfull, yea untollerable; yet can they neither hazzard his power, nor harme his perſon, either by judiciall proceedings, or by force; for neither one, nor all Magiſtratec have any Authority over the Prince, from whom all Autho­rity is derived, and whoſe onely preſence doth ſilence and ſuſpend all inferiour Iuriſdiction and ſorce. And for power, what Subject can aſſiſt or counſell, or conceale violence a­gainſt his Prince, and not incurre the high and heinous crime of fawſonry or treaſon; it is a common ſaying, thought is free, free indeed from puniſhment of ſecular Lawes, except by word or deed it breake forth into action; yet the ſecret thoughts againſt the ſacred Majeſty of a Prince, without at­tempt, without endeavour, have beene adjudged to death. And ſome, who in auricular confeſſion, have diſcovered their treacherous deviſes againſt the King in perſon, have for the ſame beene executed. All Lawes do exempt a mad man from puniſhment, becauſe their actions are not governed by their will, and the will of man being ſet apart, all his deeds are in­different, neither can the body offend without a corrupt or er­roneous minde, yet if a mad-mn but draw his weapon upon his King, it hath been adjudged worthy death. And leſt any man ſhould ſurmiſe, that Princes for the maintenance of their owne ſafety, and ſoveraignty, are the onely authors of theſe Judgements; Let us examine with conſideration, the patterns and precepts, to this purpoſe ſet forth in the ſacred Text. Ne­buchadnezzar King of Aſſyria, waſted all Paleſtine with fire and ſword, oppugned the whole Citie a great while, and at the laſt expugned it; ſlaughtered the King, burnt the Temple, carryed away the holy Veſſels and Treaſure, and permitted the Souldiers with unmercifull cruelty to ſpoile and ranſack all the people with fire and ſword, and whom from thence had eſcaped, and the peſtilence had ſpared, he led captive into Chal­dea, and there erected his Golden image; commanding thoſe that refuſed to worſhip it, to be caſt into the firy Furnace: notwithſtanding God calleth Nebuchadnezzar his ſervant, and promiſeth him wages for his ſervice. And the Prophets Ieremiah and Barucke, did write unto the Jewes to pray for the life of him, and of Balthazar his ſonne, that their dayes upou earth might be as the dayes of Heaven: And Ezechiel with bitter tearmes upbraideth the diſloyaltie of Zedechiah, for revolting from Nebuchadnezzar, after homage done unto him. Did not Saul put all the Prieſts to death, becauſe one of them did relieve holy and harmleſſe David? Did he not pro­ſecute his faithfull ſervant, and dutifull ſon-in-law, yet was not hee ſpared, nay, protected by him? And was not David much grieved for but taking away the lap of his garment, and afterwards cauſed the meſſenger to be ſlaine, that upon re­queſt, and ſor pitty did lend his hand (as himſelfe reported) to haſten the voluntary death of that ſacred King? As for the contrary examples of Iehu, they were done by expreſſe Oracle and Revelation from God, and are no more ſet downe for our imitation, than the robbing of the Egyptians, or any other particular or priviledged commandement, but in the generall precept, which all men muſt generally follow: not only our actions, but our ſpeeches alſo, and our very thoughts are ſtrictly charged, with duty and obedience to Princes, whether they be good or evill. The Law of God ordaineth, That hee that doh preſumptuouſly againſt the Prince, ſhall dye, Deut. 17. 12. And the Prophet David forbiddeth both by precept and practice, to touch the Lords anointed: Thou ſhall not (ſaith the Lord) Raile upon the Iudges, neither ſpeake evill of the Ru­ler of the people. And the Apoſtles doe demand further, that even our thoughts and ſoules, be obedient to higher powers. And leſt any ſhould imagine, that they meant of good Princs onely, they ſpeake generally of all. And further, to take a­way all doubt, they make expreſſe mention of the evill: For the power and Authority of wicked Princes, is the ordnance of God. And therefore Chriſt told Pilate, That the power which he had, was given him from above. And the Prophet Eſay called Cyrus, being a prophane and Heathen Prince, the Lords anointed: For, God turneth the hearts even of wic­ked Princes to doe his will. And as Iehoſaphat ſaid to his Ru­lers, They execute not the judgement of man, but of the Lord. In regard whereof David calleth them Gods, becauſe they have the rule and authority even from God, which if they doe abuſe, they are not to be adjudged by their Subjects, for no power within their Dominion is ſuperiour to theirs. But God reſervcth them to their ſoreſt tryall, Horribly and ſuddenly (ſaith the Wiſeman) will the Lord appeare to them, and a hard judgement ſhall they have. The Law of God com­mandeth, that the childe ſhould be put to death, for any con­tumely done unto the parents: but what if the Father bee a Robber? if a murtherer? if ſor exceſſe of villanies, odious and execrable both to God and man ſurely he deſerveth the greateſt degree of puniſhment, and yet muſt not the ſonne lift up his hand againſt him for no man can be ſo great an offender as to be puniſhed by parricide. But our Country is (or ought to bee) more deare to us than our Parents. And the Prince is the Father of the Countrey, and therefore more ſa­cred and deare to us, then our Parents by nature, and muſt not be violated, how imperious, how impious ſoever he be? Doth he command or demand our purſes or perſons? we muſt not ſhun the one, nor ſhrink from the other; for as Nehemiah ſaith, Kings have dominion over the Cattell of their Subjects at their pleaſure. Doth hee injoyne thoſe actions, which are contrary to the Lawes of God, we muſt neither wholly obey, nor violently reſiſt, but with a conſtant courage, ſubmit our ſelves to all manner of puniſhment, and ſhew our ſubjection, by ſuffering and not performing; yea, the Church hath de­clared it to be an Hereſie, to hold, that a Prince may be ſlaine, or depoſed by his Subjects, for any default or diſorder of life, or default in Government. There will be defaults ſo long as long as there be men; and as we endure with patience, a bar­ren yeare, if it happen, and unſeaſonable weather; ſo muſt we tollerate the imperfections of Rulers, and quietly expect ei­ther reformation or alteration, But alas! what ſuch cruelty what ſuch impiety, hath King Richard committed? examine the imputations objected, with the falſe circumſtance of ag­gravation, and you ſhall finde but little of truth, or of great moment; it may be many overſights have eſcaped (as who lives without offending) yet none ſo grievous to be termed tyranny, as proceeding rather from unexperienced ignorance, or corrupt counſell, than from any naturall or wilfull malice. Oh! how ſhould the world be peſtered with tyrants, if Sub­jects might be permitted to rebell, upon pretence of tyranny; how many good Princes ſhould often be ſuppreſſed by thoſe by whom they ought to be ſupported? if they but levie a Sub­ſidie, or any other taxation, it ſhall be judged oppreſſion; if they put any to death for traiterous attempts againſt their perſons, it ſhall be exclaimed at for cruelty; if they ſhall doe any thing againſt the good liking of their people, it ſhall bee proclaimed Tyrannie.

But let it be that without deſert in him, or authority in us, King Richard muſt be depoſed; yet what right hath the Duke of Lancaſter to the Crowne? or what reaſon have we, with­out right, to give it him? If he make Title as Heire to King Richard, then muſt he ſtay King Richards death; for no man can ſucceed as heire to the living; But 'tis well knowne to all men, who are not wilfully blind, or groſly ignorant: that there are ſome yet alive, lineally deſcended from Lionel Duke of Clarence, whoſe iſſue by the judgement of the high Court of Parliament, in the 8. yeare of K. Richards Reigne, was de­clared heire apparant to the Crowne in caſe King Richard ſhould dye without iſſue. The claime from Edmund Crouch­backe, I paſſe over the Authors thereof, themſelves being a­ſhamed of ſo abſurd an abuſe; And therefore all the pretence now on foot, is by right of Conqueſt, and the Kings reſigna­tion and grant, and the conſent of the many: it is bad ſtuffe that will take no colour; what conqueſt can a Subject make a­gainſt a Soveraigne, where the warre is inſurrection, and the victory high Treaſon? King Richards reſignation, being in priſon, is an act of exaction by force, and therefore of no force to bind him; And by the Lawes of this Realme, the King by himſelfe cannot alienate, the ancient Jewels and ornaments of the Crowne, much leſſe give away his Crowne and King­dome. And cuſtome wee have none, for the vulgar to elect their King, but they are alwayes tyde to accept of him, whom the right of ſucceſſion enables to the Crowne, much leſſe can they make good that Title, which is by violence uſurped; For nothing can be ſaid to be freely done, when liberty is re­ſtrained by feare; As for the depoſing of Edward the Se­cond, it is no more to be urged, than the poyſoning of King Iohn, or the murthering of a lawfull Prince: we muſt live ac­cording to Lawes, not Examples, yet the Kingdome then was not taken from lawfull Succeſſours; But if we looke backe to times paſt, we ſhall finde that theſe Titles were more ſtrong in King Stephen, than they are now in the Duke of Lancaſter, for King Henry the 1. being at liberty, neither reſtrained, nor conſtrained, the people aſſented to this deſignement, and thereupon without feare or force he was anointed, and crow­ned King. Yet Henry Fitzempreſſe, having a neerer right to the Crowne by his Mother (notwithſtanding his Father was a ſtranger, and he borne beyond the Seas) never ceaſed the proſecution of bloody warres, to the great effuſion of blood, and ſpoyling the Countrey, untill his lawfull inheritance was aſſured him. It terrifieth me but to thinke, how many flouri­ſhing Kingdomes have been by ſuch contentions, either rent by inteſtine diviſion, or ſubdued to forraigne Princes, under pretence of aſsiſtance and aide. This Kingdome hath had too wofull experience of theſe ſeverall miſchiefes, and yet neither examples of other Countreys, or miſeries of our owne, are ſuf­ficient to make us be wary. Certainely, I feare, it will betide us, as it did to Eſops Frogges, who being deſirous to have a King, had a beame given them, the firſt fall affrighted them, but when they ſaw it lye ſtill, they contemptuouſly inſulted thereon, and deſired a King of more active ſpirit; Then a Storke was ſent them, which ſtalking amongſt them, daily de­voured them, King Richards mildneſſe hath bred in us this ſcorne, interpreting it to be cowardiſe and dulneſſe of nature; I dare not ſay (yet give me leave to ſuſpect) with greater cou­rage, we may finde greater cruelty. And thus have I declared my opinion, with more words, you may perhaps conjecture than wiſdome, yet fewer then the waight of the cauſe did require: And I doe reſolutely conclude, that we have neither power nor policie, either to depoſe King Richard, or in his place to Elect Duke Henry; That King Richard remaineth ſtill our Soveraigne Lord, and therefore it is not lawfull for us to give judgement againſt him; That the Duke whom you are pleaſed to ſtile King, hath more tranſgreſſed the King and Realme, than Richard hath done either againſt him or us; For he being baniſhed the Realme for ten yeares by the King and Councell (amongſt whom his owne father was chiefe) and given oath not to returne without ſpeciall licenſe; Hee hath not only broken his oath, but diſturbed the peace of the Land, diſpoſſeſſed the King of his Royall eſtate, and now deman­deth judgement againſt his perſon, without offence proved, or defence heard; if this injury move not, yet let both our private and publike dangers ſomewhat withdraw us from theſe violent proceedings.


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TextA pious and learned speech delivered in the High Court of Parliament, 1. H. 4. by Thomas Mercks then Bishop of Carlile. Wherein hee gravely and judiciously declares his opinion concerning the question, what should be done with the deposed King Richard the Second.
AuthorMerke, Thomas, d. 1409..
Extent Approx. 17 KB of XML-encoded text transcribed from 5 1-bit group-IV TIFF page images.
SeriesEarly English books online.
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(EEBO-TCP ; phase 2, no. A89086)

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Bibliographic informationA pious and learned speech delivered in the High Court of Parliament, 1. H. 4. by Thomas Mercks then Bishop of Carlile. Wherein hee gravely and judiciously declares his opinion concerning the question, what should be done with the deposed King Richard the Second. Merke, Thomas, d. 1409.. [8] p. printed for N. V. and J. B.,London :[1642?]. (Date of publication from Wing.) (Printers' device on t.p. var., without initials, of McK. 299.) (Reproduction of the original in the British Library.)
  • Richard -- II, -- King of England, 1367-1400.

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