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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/97

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Oldcastle
Oldcastle
91

villeins were promised their liberty if they took him ; but there is no such promise in this proclamation. At all events the loyalty of his lollard friends was proof against the temptation, and he remained at large for nearly four years. He was summoned in five county courts at Brentford to give himself up, and as he did not appear was (1 July) formally outlawed {Rot. Parl. iv. 108). He took refuge in the first place, it would seem, in his own county, for in 1415 he was lurking near Malvern, and a premature report of the king's departure to 'ranee emboldened him to send word to Richard Beauchamp, lord Bergavenny, at the neighbouring Hanley Castle, that he intended to have revenge upon him for the injuries he had suffered at his hands. On receiving this notification Bergavenny hastily collected nearly five thousand men from his estates, and tried to hunt Oldcastle down. He escaped, but some of his followers were taken, and torture elicited from them information as to the place where Oldcastle kept his arms and money in the hollow of a double wall. His standard and banner, on which were depicted the cup and the host in the form of bread, were found with the rest. The news of the failure of Scrope's conspiracy in July 1415 compelled him to lie in strict concealment again (Walsingham, ii. 306). It was at this time that Hoccleve wrote his appeal to Oldcastle to abandon his lollard errors [see below]. When the impression made by Agincourt had lost its first freshness, the lollards began to move again. An alleged plot against the king's life when he was at Kenilworth at Christmas 1416 was ascribed to a follower of Oldcastle, and fresh proclamations were immediately issued for the arrest of the 'Lollardus Lollardorum' (Ramsay, i. 254 ; Kalendars and Inventories, ii. 102). He was believed to have been deeply engaged in intriques with the Scots. His 'clerk and chief counsellor,' Thomas Payne, a Welshman from Glamorganshire, was thrown into prison on a charge of arranging an escape of King James from Windsor, and Oldcastle himself was credited with instigating the attack which the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Douglas made upon Berwick and Roxburgh in October during the king's absence in France (Ramsay, i. 254-5). Walsingham (ii. 325) asserts that this was arranged in an interview between William Douglas and Oldcastle at Pontefract, and that he urged the Scots to send the pseudo-king Richard into England. Otterboume adds (ii. 278) that indentures to this effect between Albany and the lollard leader fell into the hands of the government. If the former writer may be trusted, he lay concealed for some time in the house of a villein at St. Albans. His presence was at length discovered, and the house surrounded by the abbot's servants. They found the bird flown, but seized some of his friends and books, in which the images and names of the saints and of the Virgin had been carefully erased. This may be doubtful, at least as to the time assigned, for local tradition declares that he had been in hiding for a twelvemonth or more in the Welsh marches among the hills between the upper Severn and the Vymwy. A secluded spot on Moel-y-sant, overlooking the latter river near Meifod, and on the Trefedrid estate, is still known as Cobham's Garden. But his refuge became known to his enemies, and towards the close of this year (1417) he was surprised by a number of the followers of Sir Edward Charlton, fifth lord Charlton of Powis [q. v.], one of the chief lords-marcher, headed by the brothers Ieuan ab Gruffydd and Grunydd Vychan of Garth, near Welshpool. The scene of the encounter lay in the hilly district of Broniarth, between Garth and Meifod, and still bears the traditional name of Cae'r Barwn (Baron's field). Oldcastle was only taken after a desperate resistance, in which several on both sides were injured or slain and he himself sorely wounded (Chron. ed, Davies, p. 46). In one version of the story a woman is said to have broken his leg with a stool as he struggled with his assailants (Liber Metricus, p. 158). His injuries were so serious that when an order of the regent Bedford (dated 1 Dec.) reached Welshpool or Powis castle, whither he had been taken, that he should be brought up to London at once, he had to make the journey in a 'whirlicote' or horse-litter (Bale, ed. 1729, p. 144; Tyler, ii. 391). Sir John Grey, son-in-law of the lord of Powis, conveyed him safely to the capital. No time was lost in bringing him before parliament on 14 Dec, when he was summarily condemned as an outlawed traitor and convicted heretic. Walsingham says he first implored his judges to temper justice with mercy, and afterwards denied their jurisdiction on the ground that King Richard still lived in Scotland ; but the official record says nothing of any protest, and none would have availed him. He was taken back to the Tower in the 'whirlicote,' and drawn thence the same day on a hurdle to the new lollard gallows at St. Giles's Fields, where he was 'hung and burnt hanging' {Rot. Parl. iv. 108). It is generally supposed that he was suspended horizontally in chains and burnt alive, but the statements of the authorities are con-