Nicholas Brembre - Charges of Corruption and Tyranny

Charges of Corruption and Tyranny

On the outbreak of John Northampton's riot in February 1384, Brembre arrested and beheaded a ringleader, John Constantyn, cordwainer. Our main knowledge of Brembre's conduct is derived from a bundle of petitions presented to parliament in October–November 1386 by ten companies of the rival faction, of which two (those of the mercers and cordwainers) are printed in the Rolls of Parliament, iii. 225–7. In these he is accused of tyrannous conduct during his mayoralty of 1383–4, especially of beheading the cordwainer Constantyn for the riot in Cheapside, and of securing his re-election in 1384 by increased violence. Forbidding his opponents to take part in the election, he filled the Guildhall with armed men, who, at their approach, "sailleront sur eux ove gũnt noise, criantz tuwez, tuwez, lour pursuivantz hydousement." In 1386 he secured the election of his accomplice, Nicholas Exton, who was thus mayor at the time of the petition, so that the mayoralty was still, it urged, "tenuz par conquest et maistrie." While mayor (1384), Brembre had effected the ruin of his rival, John de Northampton (who had appealed in vain to John of Gaunt), by his favourite device of a charge of treason; and though Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester and the opposition accused him of plotting in favour of Suffolk (the chancellor), who was impeached in the parliament of 1386, and of compassing their death, he not only escaped for the time, but at the close of the year (1386) was, with Simon de Burley and others of the party of resistance, summoned by Richard into his council. Through the year 1387 he supported Richard in London in his struggle for absolute power, but was again accused by Gloucester and the opposition of inciting the mayor and citizens against them, when the former (Exton) shrank from such a plot.

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