This Day in History: 1397-02-05

On 5th February 1397, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, interrogated Thomas Haxey, a clerk of the Commons, in the White Chamber at Westminster, before condemning him to death as a traitor. Haxey had been nominated by the Speaker of the House, John Bussey, as having criticised Richard II’s excessive household expenditure in a bill he had formulated; to which the king took enormous offence. Albeit Haxey was pardoned by the king after representations by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the affair illustrated Richard’s volatile nature and Gaunt’s unwillingness to confront the king over a blatant injustice, particularly as he had only recently gained legitimization of his Beaufort children by Richard.