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bounded by the river, on another by a creek filled with each returning tide, and the other two faced the town. moated on the land side and reached by a drawbridge, whilst a small fortified entrance communicated with the river by a narrow flight of steps. The walls, which were of great thickness, were flanked by eight circular embattled towers, each surmounted by a slender watch-tower, which add great beauty of detail even to the outline of the ruins. On each side of the grand entrance was a tower, the King's and the Queen's Towers, as they were called, and in each a beautiful oriel window. Two large courts occupied the interior. The great hall was one hundred and thirty feet long, by thirty-two wide, and was thirty feet high, lighted by nine fine lancet-formed windows, fix facing the country, and three looking into the court.
The roof was supported by eight massive arches, four of which still remain, now garlanded with ivy. This splendid apartment was warmed by three fire-places, and the eastern end was partitioned off as a chapel, lighted by a large window. Beneath this hall were the vaults for ammunition and stores,
Conway was a military station and free borough, its inhabitants being English, and enjoying “ many privileges;” one of which was that “the Jews dwell not at any time in the said borough.” In 1290, the Welsh having risen in rebellion, hanged the royal collector of taxes, and routed the English troops, whereupon the king marched into North Wales, and, crossing the estuary with his guards, took up his quarters in the castle, but not without great loss of baggage and store wagons, which were intercepted by the mountaineers, who came down in great numbers and invested the castle. The rising of the river at the same time prevented the troops from crossing, so that the king was reduced to great straits, and, like his garrison,
was obliged to content himself with salt meat and coarse bread, and to drink water sweetened with honey. At length the waters subsiding, the troops crossed, and the Welsh dispersed to their mountains. The Christmas of that same year was spent by Edward and his queen with great festivity at the new castle of Conway.
Eleven years afterwards, Edward of Carnarvon, the first Prince of Wales, held a court at Conway, when Einion, Bishop of Bangor, and David, Abbot of Maenon, near Llanrwst, did homage; and, on ascending the throne, this Edward still further increased the privileges of the burgesses.
In 1399, Conway was the scene of one of the last acts in the tragedy of the unfortunate Richard II. An account of this event has been preserved in a narrative, in rude verse, preserved in the library of the British Museum, entitled “An Account of the Treachery of the Earl of Northumberland, and the taking of his Majesty Richard II., his progress from Conway to Rhuddlan, Flint, and Chester. By an Eye-witness." This curious and interesting old document, which formerly belonged to Charles of Anjou, Earl of Maine and Mortaine, was translated into English profe, in 1824, by the Rev. John Webb, and published in the twentieth volume of the Archäologia. Charles Knight has also included portions of it in his “Half-Hours with the Best Authors," from which work we give the following extracts,
The author, however, it must be first premised, was a French knight, who came over to London in the spring of 1399, accompanied the unfortunate Richard in his expedition to Ireland, and remained in personal attendance upon him until he was brought prisoner to London. "I loved him fincerely,” he says, “because he heartily loved the French. He gave most largely, and his gifts were profitable. Bold he
was, and courageous as a lion. Right well and beautifully did he make ballads, songs, roundels and lays. Though he was but a layman, so gracious were all his deeds, that never I think shall that man issue from his country in whom God hath implanted so much worth as was in him."
After relating, therefore, in what manner the king, then at Dublin, received the sad news of the English revolt, at which he turned pale, he describes his hurried journey, in forrow and distress, to Milford Haven. “But before he landed," says he, “a great army which had gathered in Wales for his service was either disbanded or won over to Bolingbroke. In this great fear he disguised himself like a poor Franciscan friar, and set out at midnight from his host, attended by only a few persons, of whom this French knight was one. He travelled hard all night, and reached Conway by break of day. There he learned that his enemies reported him to be dead, and that well nigh all was already lost.”
In Shakspeare's Richard II. we also find the following passage with reference to the report of his death :
Captain.--My lord of Salisbury, we have staid ten days,
And hardly kept our countrymen together,
Therefore we will disperse ourselves ; farewell.
The king reposeth all his confidence
Captain.—-'Tis thought the king is dead; we will not stay.
The bay trees in our country all are withered,
The unhappy king, on learning this report of himself, “uttered,” says his chronicler,“ many pious ejaculations ; but he knew not what course to take. At length he resolved to send the Duke of Exeter and the Earl of Surrey to tell Henry of Bolingbroke that he was doing much amiss, but that he, the rightful king of England, would pardon him, and reinstate him in all his honours and lands, if he would but defist. Henry, who was at Chester, made Exeter and Surrey his prisoners. Upon receiving this intelligence, the king, who had continued all-sorrowful at Conway, with his intimate friends, all sad and distressed, went straight to Beaumaris. There was a strong castle there that could not have been taken in ten years, if it had only been victualled and furnished with a sufficient and faithful garrison. But there were provisions in none of the king's castles in these parts; and there was fidelity and affection to him in no place whatsoever. Not being able to stay at Beaumaris, he went to Carnarvon Castle, which he found totally unfurnished. In all his castles to which he retired, there was no furniture, nor had he anything to lie upon but straw. Really he lay in this manner for four or fix nights, as, in truth, not a farthing's worth of victuals or of anything else was to be found in them. Certes, I dare not tell the great misery of the king.”
Richard returned to Conway, he greatly bewailing his young wife, who was by this time in the hands of Bolingbroke's party. He also bewailed that he himself was in danger, both by night and day, of a cruel and certain death. While he was lying at Conway doing nothing but lamenting his hard fate, the Earl of Northumberland waited upon him from Duke Henry, who prevailed upon him to put himself in his hands, and trust to the decision of the English Parliament; the Earl, it is said, swearing upon the sacrament that no harm should befall him. Richard quitted Conway, and soon found himself a prisoner, for was
the Earl of Northumberland had placed a numerous body of troops in ambuscade at one of the mountain-passes through which their journey lay. “When the king beheld them he was greatly astonished, saying, “I am betrayed! What can this be, Lord of heaven help me!' Who they were revealed by their banners. Bitter dread prevailed; and the king demeaned himself so very sorrowfully that it was pity to behold.”
The journey of the unfortunate Richard to Flint was a very melancholy one, and of his sufferings when there, his chronicler says, “no creature in this mortal world, let him be who he would, Jew or Saracen, could have beheld the king and his good friends, the Earl of Salisbury, the Bishop of Carlisle, Sir Stephen Scroope, and another knight named Ferriby, without being heartily sorry for them.” Nor must we omit one remarkable feature of this melancholy journey which would certainly make it much more hopeless.
“The Earl of Salisbury told me," says the good French knight, as we rode to Chester, that Merlin and Bede had from the time in which they lived, prophecied of the taking and ruin of the king; adding that if I were in his castle, he should show it me in form and manner as I had seen it come to pass, saying thus
«There shall be a king in Albion, who shall reign for the space of two and twenty years in great honour and in great power, and shall be allied and united with those of Gaul ; which king shall be undone in the parts of the north, in a triangular place. Thus, the Earl told me, it was written in a book belonging to him. The triangular place he applied to the town of Conway, and for this he had a very good reason, for I can assure you it is in a triangle, as though it had been so laid down by a true and exact measurement. In the said town