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special grace,* or else of some special peremptory sentences, pronounced withpurpose. His general conduct at Can- out notice, had a special inconvenience terbury was equally startling. One act when directed against persons immediof charity, indeed, he had overlooked ately about the king. Excommunication which neither in conscience nor pru- was like the plague; whoever came near dence should have been forgotten. The the infected body himself caught the mother of, Pope Adrian the Fourth was contagion, and the king might be poiliving somewhere in his province in ex- soned without his knowledge. It had treme poverty, starving, it was said, of been usual in these cases to pay the king cold and hunger. The see of Canter- the courtesy of consulting him. Becket, bury, as well as England, owed much to least of all men, could have pleaded Pope Adrian, and Becket's neglect of a ignorance of such a custom. It seemed person who was at least entitled to hon- that he did not choose to observe it.* orable maintenance was not unobserved While courting the populace, and gainat Rome. Otherwise his generosity was ing a reputation as a saint among the profuse.
Archbishop Theobald had clergy, the archbishop was asserting his doubled the charities of his predecessor, secular authority, and using the spiritual Becket doubled Theobald's. Mendi- sword to enforce it. Again, what did it cants swarmed about the gates of the mean, this interference with the rights of palace; thirteen of them were taken in the laity, this ambition for a personal daily to have their dinners, to have their following of armed knights ? Becket feet washed by the archiepiscopal hands, was not a dreamer who had emerged and to be dismissed each with a silver into high place from the cloister or the penny in his pocket. The tears and the library.” He was a man of the world inbenevolent humiliations were familiar in timately acquainted with the practical aspirants after high church offices; but problems of the day, the most unlikely Becket had nothing more to gain. What of all persons to have adopted a course could be the meaning of so sudden and so marked without some ulterior purpose. so startling a transformation ? Was it Henry discovered too late that his mothpenitence for his crimes as chancellor ? er's eyes had been keener than his own. The tears looked like penitence; but He returned to England in the beginthere were other symptoms of a more ning of 1163. Becket met him at his aggressive kind. He was no sooner in landing, but was coldly received. his seat than he demanded the restora- In the summer of the same year, Pope tion of estates that his predecessors had Alexander held a council at Tours. The alienated. He gave judgment in his English prelates attended. The question own court in his own favor, and enforced of precedence was not this time raised. his own decrees. Knights holding their The Archbishop of Canterbury and his lands from the Church on military tenure suffragans sat on the pope's right hand, had hitherto done homage for them to the Archbishop of York and his suffrathe Crown. The new archbishop de- gans sat on the pope's left. Whether manded the homage for himself. He anything of consequence passed on this required the Earl of Clare to swear fealty occasion between the pope and Becket is to him for Tunbridge Castle. The Earl not known: probably not; it is certain, of Clare refused and appealed to the however, that they met. On the archking, and the archbishop dared not at bishop's return to England the disputes once strike so large a quarry. But he between the secular and spiritual authorshowed his teeth with a smaller offender. ities broke into open conflict. Sir William Eyensford, one of the king's knights, was patron of a benefice in * 'Quod, quia rege minime certiorato archiKent. The archbishop presented a
episcopus fecisset, maximam ejus indignapriest to it. The knight ejected the
tionem incurrit. Asserit enim rex juxta dig
nitatem regni sui, quod nullus qui de rege archbishop's nominee, and the archbish
teneat in capite vel minister ejus citra ipsius op excommunicated the knight. Such conscientiam sit excommunicandus ab aliquo,
ne si hoc regem lateat lapsus ignorantiâ com* 'Ut putaretur possessor irrigui superior. municet excommunicato ; comitem vel baronis et inferioris.' The 'superior' fountain of em ad se venientem in osculo vel consilio ad. tears was the love of God; the “inferior' was mittat.'—Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, vol. the fear of hell.
ii. p. 222.
The Church principles of Gregory the Broi, and cross-questioned him in BeckSeventh were making their way through et's presence. It was not denied that Europe, but were making their way with he had killed a man. The king inquired
extreme slowness. Though the celibacy what Becket was prepared to do. Beck• of the clergy had been decreed by law, et's answer, for the present and all simi
clerical concubinage was still the rule in lar cases, was that a clerk in orders acEngland. A focaria and a family were cused of felony must be tried in the first still to be found in most country parson- instance in an ecclesiastical court, and ages. In theory the priesthood was a punished according to ecclesiastical law. caste. In practice priests and their If the crime was found to be of pecuflocks were united by common interests, liarly dark kind, the accused.might be common pursuits, common virtues, and deprived of his orders, and, if he again common crimes. The common law of offended, should lose his privilege. But England during the reigns of the Con- for the offence for which he was dequeror's sons had refused to distinguish prived, he was not to be again tried or between them. Clerks guilty of robbery again punished; the deprivation itself or murder had been tried like other fel was to suffice. ons in the ordinary courts, and if found The king, always moderate, was unguilty had suffered the same punish- willing to press the question to extremments. The new pretension was that ity. He condemned the judgment of they were a peculiar order, set apart for the bishop of Lincoln's court. He inGod's service, not amenable to secular sisted that the murderer should have a jurisdiction, and liable to trial only in real trial. But he appointed a mixed the spiritual courts. Under the loose commission of bishops and laymen to try administration of Stephen, the judges had him, the bishops having the preponderatbegun to recognise their immunity, and ing voice. the conduct of the lower class of clergy Philip de Broi pleaded that he had was in consequence growing daily more made his purgation in the regular manintolerable. Clergy, indeed, a great ner, that he had made his peace with the many of them had no title to be called. family of the man that he had killed, and They had received only some minor form that the matter was thus ended. He apoloof orders, of which no sign was visible in gised for having insulted the sheriff, and their appearance or conduct. They professed himself willing to make reasonwere clerks only so far as they held ben- able reparation. The sentence of the efices and claimed special privileges; for commission was that his benefices should the rest, they hunted, fought, drank, and be sequestered for two years, and that, gambled like other idle gentlemen. if the sheriff insisted upon it, he should
In the autumn of 1163 a specially be flogged. gross case of clerical offence brought the So weak a judgment showed Henry question to a crisis.
the real value of Becket's theory. The Philip de Broi, a young nobleman who criminal clerk was to be amenable to the held a cancnry at Bedford, had killed law as soon as he had been degraded, some one in a quarrel. He was brought not before ; and it was perfectly plain before the court of the Bishop of Lin- that clerks never would be degraded. coln, where he made his purgation eccle- They might commit murder upon mursiastico jure—that is to say, he paid the der, robbery upon robbery, and the law usual fees and perhaps a small fine. The would be unable to touch them. It relations of the dead man declared them- could not be. The king insisted that a selves satisfied, and Philip de Broi was sacred profession should not be used as acquitted. The Church and the rela a screen for the protection of felony. tions might be satisfied; public justice He summoned the whole body of the was not satisfied. The Sheriff of Bed- bishops to meet him in a council at fordshire declined to recognise the deci- Westminster in October. sion, and summoned the canon a second The council met. The archbishop was time. The canon insulted the sheriff in resolute. He replied for the other bishopen court, and refused to plead before ops in an absolute refusal to make any him. The sheriff referred the matter to concession. The judges and the laity the king. The king sent for Philip de generally were growing excited. Had the
clergy been saints, the claims advanced more satisfactory to themselves than to for them would have been scarcely toler- the laity. The practice of appealing to able. Being what they were, such pre- Rome in every cause in which a churchtensions were ridiculous. Becket might man was in any way connected had disorspeak in their name. He did not speak ganised the whole course of justice. their real opinions. Arnulf, Bishop The Constitutions (as they were called) of Lisieux, came over to use his influ- of Clarendon touched in detail on a ence with Becket, but he found him in- variety of points on which the laity conexorable. To risk the peace of the sidered theinselves injured. The geneChurch in so indefensible a quarrel ral provisions embodied in these famous seemed obstinate folly. The Bishop of resolutions would now be scarcely chalLisieux and several of the English pre- lenged in the most Catholic country in lates wrote privately to the pope to en- the world. treat him to interfere.
1. During the vacancy of any archAlexander had no liking for Becket. bishopric, bishopric, abbey, or priory of He had known him long, and had no be- royal foundation, the estates were to be lief in the lately assumed airs of sanctity. in the custody of the Crown. Elections Threatened as he was by the emperor to these preferments were to be held in and the antipope, he had no disposition the royal chapel, with the assent of the to quarrel with Henry, nor in the partic. king and council. ular question at issue does he seem to 2. In every suit to which a clerk was a have thought the archbishop in the right. party, proceedings were to commence On the spot he despatched a legate, a before the king's justices, and these jusmonk named Philip of Aumone, to tell tices were to decide whether the case Becket that he must obey the laws of the was to be tried before a spiritual or a civil realm, and submit to the king's pleasure, court. If it was referred to a spiritual
The king was at Woodstock. The court, a' civil officer was to attend to archbishop, thus commanded, could not watch the trial, and if a clerk was found refuse to obey. He repaired to the guilty of felony the Church was to cease court. He gave his promise. He un- to protect him. dertook, bona fide et sine malo ingenio, to 3. No tenant-in-chief of the king, or submit to the laws of the land, whatever officer of his household, was to be exthey might be found to be. But a vague communicated, or his lands laid under engagement of this kind was unsatisfac- an interdict, until application had been tory, and might afterwards be evaded. first made to the king, or, in his absence, The question of the immunities of the to the chief justice. clergy had been publicly raised. The 4. Laymen were not to be indicted in a attention of the nation had been called bishop's court, either for perjury or other to it. Once for all the position in which similar offence, except in the bishop's the clergy were to stand to the law of the presence by a lawful prosecutor and land must be clearly and finally laid with lawful witnesses. If the accused was down. The judges had been directed of so high rank that no prosecutor to inquire into the customs which had would appear, the bishop might require been of use in England under the king's the sheriff to call a jury to inquire into grandfather, Henry the First. A second the case. council was called to meet at Clarendon, 5. Archbishops, bishops, and other near Winchester, in the following Janu- great persons were forbidden to leave ary, when these customs, reduced to wri- the realm without the king's permission. ting, would be placed in the archbishops' 6. Appeals were to be from the archand bishops' hands, and they would be deacon to the bishop, from the bishop to required to consent to them in detail. the archbishop, from the archbishop to
The spiritual power had encroached the king, and no further; that, by the on many sides. Every question, either king's mandate, the case might be ended of person, conduct, or property, in which in the archbishop's court. * an ecclesiastic was a party, the Church courts had endeavored to reserve for The articles in the text are an epitome of
* The Constitutions were seventeen in all. themselves. Being judges in their own those which the Church found most objectioncauses, the decisions of the clergy were able.
The last article the king afterwards sion that he had meant to deceive Henry explained away. It was one of the most by words, and that he was being caught essential, but he was unable to maintain in his own snare. When driven to bay, it; and he was rash, or he was ill-ad- the archbishop's fiery nature always vised, in raising a second question, on broke into violence. Never, never,' he which the pope would naturaily be sensi- said; ‘I will never do it so long as tive, before he had disposed of the first. breath is in my body,'* In affected On the original subject of dispute, penitence for his guilty compliance, he whether benefit of (clergy was to mean retired to his see to afflict his Aesh with impunity to crime, the pope had already public austerities. He suspended himpractically decided, and he could have self ab altaris officio (from the service of been brought without difficulty to give the altar) till the pope should absolve a satisfactory judgment upon it. Some him from his sin. "The Bishop of Evlimit also might have been assigned to reux, who was present at Clarendon, adthe powers of excommunication which vised him to write to the pope for aucould be so easily abused, and which, if thority to sign. He pretended to comabused, might lose their terrors. But ply, but he commissioned a private friend appeals to the pope were the most lucra- of his own, John of Salisbury, who was tive source of the pope's revenue. To on the continent, to prepare for his restrict appeals was to touch at once his reception on the flight which he already pride and his exchequer.
meditated from England, and by all The Constitutions were drafted, and methods, fair and foul, to prevent the when the council assembled were submit- pope and cardinals from giving the king ted to Becket for approval. He saw in any further encouragement. The Bishop the article on the appeals a prospect of of Lisieux, on the other hand, whose recovering Alexander's support, and he previous intercession had decided the again became obstinate. None of the pope in the king's favor, went to Sens in bishops, however, would stand by him. person to persuade Alexander to cut the There was a general entreaty that he knot by sending legatine powers to the would not reopen the quarrel, and he Archbishop of York to override Becket's yielded so far as to give a general prom- obstinacy and to consent in the name of ise of conformity.* It was a promise the Church instead of him. given dishonestly - given with a con- John of Salisbury's account of his proscious intention of not observing it. He ceedings gives a curious picture of the had been tempted, he afterwards said, cause of God, as Becket called it, on its by an intimation that, if he would but earthly and grosser side. seem to yield, the king would be satisfied. Becket was a lawyer. He could archbishop) is most anxious to help you. If
The Count of Flanders (he wrote to the not really have been under any such extremity comes, send the count word, and illusion. In real trutlı he did not mean he will provide ships. + Everything which to be bound by the language of the Con- passed in London and at Winchester (Clarenstitutions at all, but only by his own
don) is better known here than in England il
self. I have seen the King of France, who unlanguage, from which it would be easy to dertakes to write to the pope in your behalf. escape. The king by this time knew The feeling towards our king among the the man with whom he had to deal. The Constitutions were placed in writing * Sanctus archiepiscopus tunc primum before the bishops, who one and all were
dolum quem fuerat suspicatus advertens, inrequired to signify their adherence under terpositâ fide quam Deo debuit : “Non hoc
fiet,” respondit, quam diu in hoc vasculo their several hands and seals.
spirat hæc anima.” Nam domestici regis seBecket, we are innocently told by his curum fecerant archiepiscopum quod nunbiographer Grim, now saw that he was tò quam scriberentur leges, nunquam illarum be entrapped. There was no entrapping
fieret recordatio, si regem verbo tantum in if his promise had been honestly given. conjuratione seductum videns, ad animam
audientiâ procerum honorasset. Fictâ se The use of the word is a frank confes
usque tristabatur.'—Materials for the History of
Thomas Becket, vol. ii. p. 382. * Foliot, however, says that many of the + Naves enim procurabit si hoc necessitas bishops were willing to stand out, and that vestra exegerit, et ipse ante, ut oporit, præBecket himself advised a false submission moneatur.'— Joannis Sarisbiriensis Epistolae, (Foliot to Becket, Giles, vol. i. p. 381).
vol. i. p. 188.
French people is of sear and hatred. The and even enjoined him to return to his pope himself I have avoided so far. I have duties. written to the two cardinals of Pisa and Pavia to explain the injury which will ensue to the
The first campaign was thus over, and Court of Rome if the Constitutions are up- the king was so far victorious. The legheld. I am not sanguine, however. Many atine powers having arrived, the Constithings make against us, few in our favor.
tutions were immediately acted upon. Great men will come over here with money to spend, quam nunquam Roma contempsit (which
The number of criminals among the Rome never despised). The pope himself has clergy happened to be unusually large. always been against us in this cause, and They were degraded, sent to trial, and throws in our teeth that after all which Pope suffered in the usual way by death or Adrian did for the see of Canterbury you are allowing his mother to starve in cold and
mutilation. Then,' say Becket's dehunger."* You write that if I cannot succeed spairing biographers,
the otherwise I may promise two hundred marks. mournful spectacle of priests and deaThe other side will give down three or four cons who had committed murder, manhundred sooner than be defeated, and I will slaughter,theft, robbery, and other crimes, answer for the Romans that they will prefer the larger sum in hand from the king to the
carried in carts belore the king's consmaller in promise from you. It is true we
missioners and punished as if they had are contending for the liberties of the Church, been ordinary men.' The archbishop but your motive, it will be said, is not the clamored, threatened, and, as far as his Church's welfare, but your own ambition. They will propose (I have already heard a
power went, interfered. The king was whisper of it) that the pope shall cross to
firm. He had sworn at his coronation, England in person to crown the young king he said, to do justice in the realm, and and take your place at Canterbury for a while. there were no greater villains in it than If the Bishop of Lisieux sees the pope, he will do mischief. I know the nature of him.
many of the clergy. That bishops
should take public offenders out of cusThough the archbishop was convuls- tody, absolve them, and let them go, was ing the realm for the sacred right of ap
not to be borne. It was against law, peals to Rome, it is plain from this letter against usage, against reason. It could that he was aware of the motives by
not be. The laity were generally of the which the papal decisions were governed, king's opinion. of the bishops some and that he was perfectly ready to ad
four or five agreed privately with Becket, dress himself to them. Unfortunately
but dared not avow their opinions. The his resources were limited, and John of
archbishop perceived that the game was Salisbury's misgivings were confirmed.
lost unless he could himself see the pope The extraordinary legatine powers were
and speak to him. He attempted to conceded not to the Archbishop of York
steal over from Sandwich, but the boat-it was held inexpedient to set York
men recognised him midway across the above Canterbury—but to the king him channel and brought him back. seif. To Becket the pope wrote with some irony on hearing that he had sus
The pope had sent legatine powers pended himself. He trusted the arch
to the king, and the king had acted upon bishop was not creating needless scandal. them; but something was still wanting
He had been The promise to the king had been given for general satisfaction. with good intentions, and could not
required to confirm the Constitutions by therefore be a serious sin. If there was
a bull. He had hesitated to do it, and anything further on his conscience (did
put off his answer. At length he sent the pope suspect that the promise had the Archbishop of Rouen to England to
The been dishonest ?), he might confess it to
endeavor to compromise matters. any discreet priest. He (the pope)
formal consent of the Church was still meanwhile absolved him, and advised wanting, and in the absence of it persons
who agreed with the king in principle * Cujus mater apud vos algore torquetur
were uneasy at the possible consequences. et inedia + Sed scribitis, si alia via non patuerit,
* Sed et ordinatorum inordinati mores promittamus ducentas marcas.
At certe pars
inter regem et archiepiscopum auxere mali. adversa antequam frustretur trecentas dabit tiam, qui solito abundantius per idem tempus aut quadringentas.'
apparebant, publicis irretiti criminibus.'John of Salisbury to Becket (abridged). Materials &c. vol. ii. p. 385. Letters, vol. i. p. 187.
+ 'In omni scelere et flagitio nequiores.'