An anthology of Chancery English

l388SC8/20/997Petition of the Mercers of London

(To)þhe moost noble & Worthiest Lordes moost ryghtful & wysest conseille to owre lige
Lorde the kyng Compleynen if it lyke to yow. the folk of the mercerye of London: (as) a
membre of the same Citee of many wronges subtiles & also open oppressions ydo to hem: by longe tyme here
bifore passed. Of which: oon was where the eleccion of Mairaltee
is to be to the fre men of the Citee. bi gode & paisible auys of the wysest & trewest. at o day
in the yere frelich: there nought withstondyng the same fredam or
fraunchise: Nichol Brembre wyth his vpberers purposed hym the yere next after Iohn Northampton mair
of the same Citee: with stronge honde as it is ful knowen. & thourgh debate & strenger partye. ayeins the pees: bifore
purueyde. was chosen mair. in destruccion of many ryght: ffor in the same yere. the forsaid Nichol with outen nede ay ein
the pees. made dyuerse enarmynges bi day & eke bi nyght: & destruyd the kynges trewe lyges. som with open slaughtre.
some bi false emprisonementȝ. & some: fledde the Citee for feere. as it is openlich knowen.
And so ferthermore for to susteyne thise wronges & many othere. the next y(er)e after the same Nichol ayeins
the forsaide fredam & trewe comunes did crye openlich. that no man sholde come to chese her mair. but such as were
sompned & tho that were sompned: were of his ordynaunce & after his auys. / And in the nyght next after folwynge. he did carye
grete quantitee of Armure to the Guyldehalle with which as wel straungers of the contree. as othere of with Inne were
armed on the morwe. ayeins his owne proclamacion. that was such: that no man shulde be armed & certein busshmentȝ
were laide. that when free men of the Citee. come to chese her mair. breken vp armed. cryinge with loude voice sle. sle.
folwing hem wherthourgh the peple for feere fledde to houses & other (hidi)nges. as in londe of werre: adradde to be ded in comune.
And thus yet hiderward hath the mairaltee. ben holden as it were of Conquest or maistrye: & many othere offices als. So
that what man pryue or apert in special that he myght wyte. grocchyng pleyned or helde ayeins any of his wronges: or bi
puttyng forth of whom so it were. were it neuer so vnpreuable. were apeched. & it were displesyng to hym Nichol. anon was
emprisoned. And though it were ayeins falshede of the leest officer. that hym lust meynteigne: was Page  195 holden vntrewe lige
man to owre kyng. for who reproued such an officer maynteigned bi hym of wronge or elles. he forfaited ayeins hym Nichol. &
he vnworthy as he saide: represented the kynges estat. / Also if any man. bi cause of seruyce or other leueful comaundement:
approched a lorde. to which lord he Nichol dradde his falshede to be knowe to. anon was apeched. that he was false to
the conseille of the Citee: & so to the kyng And yif in general his falsenesse were ayeinsaide. as
of vs togydre of the mercerye. or othere craftes. or ony conseille wolde haue taken. to ayeinstande it: or as out of
mynde hath be vsed. wolden companye togydre how lawful so it were. for owre nede or profite: were anon apeched for arrysers
ayeins the pees. (&) falsly many of vs: that yet stonden : endited. And we ben openlich disclaundred. holden vntrewe
& traitours: to owre kyng / for the same Nichol sayd bifor mair. Aldermen. & owre craft bifor hem gadred in place of
recorde. that xx. or xxx. of vs. were worthy to be drawen & hanged / the which thyng lyke to yowre worthy lordship.
by an even Iuge: to be proued or disproued. the whether that trowthe may shewe. for trouthe amonges vs. of fewe or elles
no man many day dorst be shewed. And nought oonlich vnshewed or hidde. it hath be by man now: but also. of bifore tyme .
the moost profitable poyntes of trewe gouernaunce of the Citee. compiled togidre. bi longe labour of discrete & Wyse
men: wyth out conseille of trewe men. for thei sholde nought be knowen ne contynued: in the tyme of Nichol Exton mair: outerliche were brent
And so ferforth falsehede hath be vsed. that oft tyme he Nichol Brembre saide in sustenaunce
of his falshede: owre lige lordes wille was such. that neuer was such: as we suppose. He saide also whan he hadde disclaundred
vs. which of vs wolde yelde hym false to his kyng: the kyng sholde do hym grace cherise hym. & be good lorde to hym. And if
any of vs alle that wyth goddes help haue & shulle be founden trewe. was so hardy to profre prouyng of hym self trewe:
anon was comaunded to prisone. as wel bi the mair that now is: as of hym Nichol Brembre bifore (Also) we haue
be comaunded. oft tyme vp owre ligeaunce. to vnnedeful & vnleueful dyuerse doynges. And also to wythdrawe vs.
bi the same comaundement (fro)þhynges nedeful & lefful. as was shewed whan a companye of gode women. there
men dorst nought trauailleden barfote to owre lige lorde. to seche (gra)ce of hym for trewe men as they supposed
for thanne were such proclamacions made. that no man ne woman sholde approche owre lige lorde for sechyng of grace &
ouermany othere comaundementȝ also. bifore Page  196 & sithen. bi suggestion & informacion of suche that wolde nought her
falsnesse had be knowen: to owre lige lorde. And lordes by yowre leue. owre lyge lordes comaundement to symple &
vnkonnyng men. is a gret thyng to ben vsed. so famulerlich : with outen nede. for they vnwyse to saue it mowe lyghtly ther ayeins forfait
ffor thy graciouse lordes lyke it to yow to take hede. in what manere & where owre lige
lordes power hath ben mysused. by the forsaid Nichol : & hi(s vp) berers for sithen
thise wronges bifore saide han ben vsed as accidental. or comune braunches outward: it sheweth wel. the rote
of hem is a ragged subi(ect). / or stok inward. that is: the forsaid Brere or brembre./ the whiche comune
wronge vses. & many other. if it lyke to yow: mowe be shewed & wel knowen bi an indifferent Iuge & mair
of owre Citee / the which wyth yowre ryghtful lordeship. ygraunted: for moost pryncipal remedye: as goddes lawe &
al resoun wole: that no domesman stonde togidre Iuge & partye: wronges sholle more openlich be knowe. & trouth
dor apere. And ellis. as amonge vs. we konne nought wyte in what manere. with(out a moch gretter )
disese. sith the gouernaunce of this Citee standeth: as it is bifor saide/. / & wole stande whil vittaillers
bi suffraunce. presumen thilke states vpon hem. the which gouernaunce of bifor this tyme to moche folke yhidde:
sheweth hym self now open. whether it hath be a cause. or bygynnyng of dyuysion in the Citee & after in the Rewme: or no.
Wherfore for grettest nede as to yow moost worthy. moost ryghtful & wysest lordes & conseille
to owre lige lorde the kyng. we biseche mekelich of yowre g(race coreccion) of alle the wronges
bifore sayde & that it lyke to yowre lordeship. to be gracious menes to owre lyge lorde the kyng: that suc he
wronges be knowen to hym. & that we mowe shewe vs & sith ben holden. suche trewe to hym: as we ben. & owe to ben.
Also we biseche vnto yowre gracious lordeship. that if any of vs in
special or general. be apeched to owre lige lorde or to his worthy conseille bi comunyng
with othere. or approchyng to owre kyng. as wyth Brembre or his abettours with any wronge wytnesse beryng as that
it stode other wyse amonges vs here. than as it is now proued it hath ystonde / or any other wronge suggestion. by
which owre lige lorde hath ybe vnleeffullich enfourmed: that thanne. yowre worshipful lordship be such: that we
mowe come in answer to excuse vs / ffor we knowe wel as for by moche the more partye of vs. And as we hope for
alle: alle suche wronges han ben vnwytyng. to vs. or elles outerlich ayeins owre wille. Page  197 And ryghtful
lordes. for oon the grettest remedye with othere. for to ayeinstonde many of thilke diseses afore saide
amonges vs: we prayen wyth mekenesse this specialich. that the Statut ordeigned & made bi parlement
holden at Westmystre in the sexte yere of owre kyng now regnynge: mowe stonde in strengthe & be excecut as wel
here in london as elles where in the rewme. the which is this Item ordinat(um) est (etc)

*. [ (Three lines in Latin follow.) [Printed RP, III.225; CD, pp.33-37; Morsbach, Neuenglischen Schriftsprache, pp. 171-77; Emerson, Middle English Reader, p. 252; Kluge, Mittelenglisches Lesebuch, p. 42] [torn] [over erasure] [rubbed] [expanded]]