Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
The Imprisonment and Ransom of King Richard
By Thomas Fuller (16081661)
From the History of the Holy War
KING RICHARD setting sail from Syria, the sea and wind favoured him till he came into the Adriatic (Oct. 8); and on the coasts of Istria he suffered shipwreck; wherefore he intended to pierce through Germany by land, the nearest way home. But the nearness of the way is to be measured not by the shortness but the safeness of it.
He disguised himself to be one Hugo, a merchant, whose only commodity was himself, whereof he made but a bad bargain. For he was discovered in an inn in Austria, because he disguised his person, not his expenses; so that the very policy of an hostess, finding his purse so far above his clothes, did detect him (Dec. 20); yea, saith mine author, Facies orbi terrarum nota, ignorari non potuit.1 The rude people, flocking together, used him with insolencies unworthy him, worthy themselves; and they who would shake at the tail of this loose lion, durst laugh at his face now they saw him in a grate; yet all the weight of their cruelty did not bow him beneath a princely carriage.
Not long after the duke sold him to Henry the emperor, for his harsh nature surnamed Asper, and it might have been Sævus, being but one degree from a tyrant. He kept King Richard in bands, charging him with a thousand faults committed by him in Sicily, Cyprus, and Palestine. The proofs were as slender as the crimes gross, and Richard having an eloquent tongue, innocent heart, and bold spirit, acquitted himself in the judgment of all the hearers. At last he was ransomed for a hundred and forty thousand marks, collen2 weight. A sum so vast in that age, before the Indies had overflowed all Europe with their gold and silver, that to raise it in England they were forced to sell their church plate, to their very chalices. Whereupon out of most deep divinity it was concluded, that they should not celebrate the sacrament in glass, for the brittleness of it; nor in wood, for the sponginess of it, which would suck up the blood; nor in alchymy, because it was subject to rusting; nor in copper, because that would provoke vomiting; but in chalices of latten, which belike was a metal without exception. And such were used in England for some hundred years after, until at last John Stafford, Archbishop of Canterbury, when the land was more replenished with silver, inknotteth that priest in the greater excommunication that should consecrate poculum stanneum.3