The History of England From the Norman Conquest
George Burton Adams

Part 5 out of 9

grants from crown domains accompanying the creation, and very probably
increased influence in state and local affairs, but they did not of
themselves, without special grant, carry political functions or power, or
any independence of position. They meant rank and title simply, not

Just at the close of the year the archbishopric of Canterbury was filled,
after being a twelvemonth in the king's hands. During the vacancy the pope
had sent the Bishop of Ostia as legate to England. He had been received
without objection, had made a visitation of England, and at Carlisle had
been received by the Scottish king as if that city were a part of his
kingdom. The ambition of Henry of Winchester to become primate of Britain
was disappointed. He had made sure of the succession, and seems actually
to have exercised some metropolitan authority; perhaps he had even been
elected to the see during the time when his brother's position was in
danger. But now Stephen declared himself firmly against his preferment,
and the necessary papal sanction for his translation from one see to
another was not granted. Theobald, Abbot of Bec, was elected by a process
which was in exact accordance with that afterwards described in the
Constitutions of Clarendon, following probably the lines of the compromise
between Henry and Anselm;[39] and he departed with the legate to receive
his pallium, and to attend with other bishops from England the council
which had been called by the pope. If Stephen's refusal to allow his
brother's advancement had been a part of a systematic policy, carefully
planned and firmly executed, of weakening and finally overthrowing the
great ecclesiastics and barons of England who were so strong as to be
dangerous to the crown, it would have been a wise act and a step towards
final success. But an isolated case of the sort, or two or three, badly
connected and not plainly parts of a progressive policy, could only be
exasperating and in truth weakening to himself. We are told that Henry's
anger inclined him to favour the Empress against his brother, and though
it may not have been an actual moving cause, the incident was probably not
forgotten when the question of supporting Matilda became a pressing one.

The year 1139, which was destined to see the king destroy by his own act
all prospect of a secure and complete possession of the throne, opened
and ran one-half its course with no change of importance in the
situation. In April, Queen Matilda, who was in character and abilities
better fitted to rule over England than her husband, succeeded in making
peace with King David of Scotland, who stood in the same relation to her
as to the other Matilda, the Empress, since she was the daughter of his
sister Mary. The earldom of Northumberland was at last granted to Henry,
except the two strong castles of Newcastle and Barnborough, and under
certain restrictions, and the Scots gave hostages for the keeping of the
peace. At the same date, in the great Lateran council at Rome, to which
the English bishops had gone with the legate, the pope seems to have put
his earlier decision in favour of Stephen into formal and public shape.
In Stephen's mind this favour of the pope's was very likely balanced by
another act of his which had just preceded it, by which Henry of
Winchester had been created papal legate in England. By this appointment
he was given supreme power over the English Church, and gained nearly all
that he had hoped to get by becoming Archbishop of Canterbury. Personally
Stephen was occupied during the early months of the year, as he had been
the year before, in attacking the castles which were held against him;
but in the most important case, the siege of Ludlow castle, he met with
no success.

At the end of June the great council of the kingdom came together at
Oxford, and there it was that Stephen committed the fatal mistake which
turned the tide of affairs against him. Of all the men who had been
raised to power in the service of Henry I, none occupied so commanding a
position as Roger, Bishop of Salisbury. As a priest he had attracted the
attention of Henry before he became king by the quickness with which he
got through the morning mass; he was taken into his service, and steadily
rose higher and higher until he became the head of the whole
administrative system, standing next to the king when he was in England,
and exercising the royal authority, as justiciar, when he was absent. In
his rise he had carried his family with him. His nephew Alexander was
Bishop of Lincoln. Another nephew Nigel was Bishop of Ely. His son Roger
was chancellor of the kingdom. The administrative and financial system
was still in the hands of the family. The opportunities which they had
enjoyed for so many years to enrich themselves from the public revenues,
very likely as a tacitly recognized part of the payment of their
services, they had not neglected. But they had gone further than this.
Evidently with some ulterior object in view, but with precisely what we
can only guess, they had been strengthening royal castles in their hands,
and even building new ones. That bishops should fortify castles of their
own, like barons, was not in accordance with the theory of the Church,
nor was it in accordance with the custom in England and Normandy. The
example had been followed apparently by Henry of Winchester, who had
under his control half a dozen strongholds. The situation would in
itself, and in any circumstances, be a dangerous one. In the present
circumstances the suspicion would be natural that a family which owed so
much to King Henry was secretly preparing to aid his daughter in an
attempt to gain the throne, and this suspicion was generally held by the
king's party. To this may be added the fact that, in the blow which he
now struck, we very possibly have an attempt on Stephen's part to carry
further the policy of weakening, in the interest of the crown, the too
strong ecclesiastical and baronial element in the state, which he had
begun in refusing the archbishopric of Canterbury to his brother. The
wealth of the family may have been an additional incentive, and intrigues
against these bishops by the powerful house of Beaumont are mentioned.
There is no reason to suppose, however, that the Beaumonts were not
acting, as they had so often done, in the real interests of the king,
which plainly demanded the breaking up of this threatening power. There
was nothing to indicate that the present was not a favourable time to
undertake it, and the best accounts of these events give us the
impression that Stephen was acting throughout with much confidence and a
feeling of strength and security.

Whatever may have been his motive, Stephen's first move at the beginning
of the Oxford meeting was the extreme one of ordering the arrest of
bishops Roger and Alexander. The pretext for this was a street brawl
between some of their men and followers of the Beaumonts, and their
subsequent refusal to surrender to the king the keys of their castles. A
step of this kind would need clear reasons to justify it and much real
strength to make it in the end successful. Taken on what looked like a
mere pretext arranged for the purpose, it was certain to excite the alarm
and opposition of the Church. Stephen himself hesitated, as perhaps he
would have in any circumstances. The historian most in sympathy with his
cause expresses his disapproval.[40] The familiar point was urged that the
bishops were arrested, not as bishops, but as the king's ministers; and
this would have been sufficient under a king like the first two Williams.
But the arrest was not all. The bishops were treated with much indignity,
and were compelled to deliver up their castles by fear of something worse.
In Roger's splendid castle of Devizes were his nephew, the Bishop of Ely,
who had escaped arrest at Oxford, and Maud of Ramsbury, the mother of his
son Roger the Chancellor. William of Ypres forced its surrender by making
ready to hang the younger Roger before the walls, and Newark castle was
driven to yield by threatening to starve Bishop Alexander.

The indignation of the clergy is expressed by every writer of the time.
It was probably especially bitter because Stephen was so deeply indebted
to them for his success and had recently made them such extensive
promises. Henry of Winchester, who may have had personal reasons for
alarm, was not disposed to play the part of Lanfranc and defend the king
for arresting bishops. He evidently believed that the king was not strong
enough to carry through his purpose, and that the Church was in a
position to force the issue upon him. Acting for the first time under his
commission as legate which he had received in the spring of the year, he
called a council to meet at Winchester, and summoned his brother to
answer before it for his conduct. The council met on August 30. The
Church was well represented. The legate's commission was read, and he
then opened the subject in a Latin speech in which he denounced his
brother's acts. The king was represented by Aubrey de Vere and the
Archbishop of Rouen, the baron defending the king's action point by
point, and the ecclesiastic denying the right of the bishops to hold
castles, and maintaining the right of the king to call for them. The
attempt of Henry did not succeed. His demand that the castles should be
given back to the bishops until the question should be settled was
refused, and the bishops were threatened with exile if they carried the
case to Rome. The council ended without taking any action against the
king. Some general decrees were adopted against those who laid hands on
the clergy or seized their goods, but it was also declared, if we are
right in attributing the action to this body, that the castles of the
kingdom belonged to the king and to his barons to hold, and that the
duties of the clergy lay in another direction. Stephen retained the
bishops' castles and the treasures which he had found in them; and when
Bishop Roger died, three months later, his personal property was seized
into the king's hands.

While these events were going on, the Empress and her brother had decided
that the time was favourable for a descent on England. In advance of
their coming, Baldwin of Redvers landed with some force at Wareham and
intrenched himself in Corfe castle against the king. Matilda and Robert
landed at Arundel on the last day of September with only one hundred and
forty men. Stephen had abandoned the siege of Corfe castle on the news
that they were about to cross, and had taken measures to prevent their
landing; but he had again turned away to something else, and their
landing was unopposed. Arundel castle was in possession of Adelaide, the
widowed queen of Henry I, now the wife of William of Albini. It is not
possible to suppose that this place was selected for the invasion without
a previous understanding; and there, in the keeping of her stepmother,
Robert left his sister and set out immediately on his landing for
Bristol, taking with him only twelve men. On hearing of this Stephen
pursued, but failed to overtake him, and turned back to besiege Arundel
castle. Then occurred one of the most astonishing events of Stephen's
career--astonishing alike to his contemporaries and to us, but typical in
a peculiar degree of the man.

Queen Adelaide became alarmed on the approach of Stephen, and began to
take thought of what she had to lose if the king should prove successful,
as there was every reason to suppose he would; and she proposed to
abandon Matilda's cause and to hand her over at once to Stephen. Here was
an opportunity to gain a most decided advantage--perhaps to end the whole
strife. With Matilda in his hands, Stephen would have been master of the
situation. He could have sent her back to Normandy and so have ended the
attempt at invasion. He could have kept her in royal captivity, or have
demanded the surrender of her claims as the price of her release. Instead
of seizing the occasion, as a Henry or a William would certainly have
done, he was filled with chivalrous pity for his cousin's strait, and
sent her with an escort under Henry of Winchester and Waleran of Meulan
to join her brother at Bristol. The writers of the time explain his
conduct by his own chivalrous spirit, and by the treasonable persuasions
of his brother Henry, who, we may believe, had now reasons for
disloyalty. The chivalrous ideals of the age certainly had great power
over Stephen, as they would have over any one with his popular traits of
mind and manners; and his strange throwing away of this advantage was
undoubtedly due to this fact, together with the readiness with which he
yielded to the persuasions of a stronger spirit. The judgment of Orderic
Vitalis, who was still writing in Normandy, is the final judgment of
history on the act: "Surely in this permission is to be seen the great
simplicity of the king or his great stupidity, and he is to be pitied by
all prudent men because he was unmindful of his own safety and of the
security of his kingdom."

This was the turning-point in Stephen's history. Within the brief space
of two months, by two acts surprisingly ill-judged and even of folly, he
had turned a position of great strength, which might easily have been
made permanently secure, into one of great weakness; and so long as the
struggle lasted he was never able to recover what he had lost. By his
treatment of the bishops he had turned against himself the party in the
state whose support had once been indispensable, and whose power to
injure him he was soon to feel. By allowing Matilda and her brother to
enter Bristol, he had given to all the diverse elements of opposition in
England the only thing they still needed; a natural leadership, and from
an impregnable position. Either of these mistakes alone might not have
been fatal. Their coming together as they did made then irretrievable

No sudden falling off of strength marks the beginning of Stephen's
decline. Two barons of the west who had been very closely connected with
Henry I and with Robert, but who had both accepted Stephen, declared now
for Matilda, Brian Fitz Count of Wallingford, and Miles of Gloucester.
Other minor accessions in the neighbourhood seem to have followed. About
the middle of October the Empress went on to Gloucester, where her
followers terrorized city and country as they had at Bristol. Stephen
conducted his counter-campaign in his usual manner, attacking place after
place without waiting to finish any enterprise. The recovery of
Malmesbury castle, which he had lost in October, was his only success,
and this was won by persuasion rather than by arms. Hereford and
Worcester suffered severely from attacks of Matilda's forces, and
Hereford was captured. The occupation of Gloucester and Hereford was the
most important success of the Empress's party, and with Bristol they mark
the boundaries of the territory she may be said to have gained, with some
outlying points like Wallingford, which the king had not been able to
recover. On December 11, Bishop Roger of Salisbury died, probably never
having recovered from the blow struck by Stephen in August. He had
occupied a great place in the history of England, but it had been in
political and constitutional, not in religious history. It may very
likely have seemed to him, in the last three months of his life, that the
work to which he had given himself, in the organization of the
administrative and financial machinery of the government, was about to be
destroyed in the ruin of his family and the anarchy of civil war; but
such forebodings, if he felt them, did not prove entirely true.

The year 1140 is one of the most dreary in the slow and wearing conflict
which had now begun. No event of special interest tempts us to linger
upon details. The year opens with a successful attack by the king on
Nigel, Bishop of Ely, who had escaped at the time of his uncle's arrest,
and who was now preparing for revolt in his bishopric. Again the bishop
himself escaped, and joined Matilda's party, but Stephen took possession
of the Isle of Ely. An effort to add Cornwall to the revolted districts
was equally unsuccessful. Reginald of Dunstanville, a natural son of
Henry I, appeared there in the interest of his sister, who, imitating the
methods of Stephen, created him, at this time or a little later, Earl of
Cornwall; but his rule was unwise, and Stephen advancing in person had no
difficulty in recovering the country. The character which the war was
rapidly assuming is shown by the attempt of Robert Fitz Hubert, a Flemish
mercenary, to hold the strong castle of Devizes, which he had seized by
surprise, in his own interest and in despite of both parties. He fell a
victim to his own methods employed against himself, and was hanged by
Robert of Gloucester. In the spring a decided difference of opinion arose
between the king and his brother Henry about the appointment of a
successor to Roger of Salisbury, which ended in the rejection of both
their candidates and a long vacancy in the bishopric. Henry of Winchester
was, however, not yet ready openly to abandon the cause of his brother,
and he busied himself later in the year with efforts to bring about an
understanding between the opposing parties, which proved unavailing. A
meeting of representatives of both sides near Bath led to no result, and
a journey of Henry's to France, perhaps to bring the influence of his
brother Theobald and of the king of France to bear in favour of peace,
was also fruitless. During the summer Stephen gained an advantage in
securing the hand of Constance, the sister of Louis VII of France, for
his son Eustace, it was believed at the time by a liberal use of the
treasures of Bishop Roger.

At Whitsuntide and again in August the restlessness of Hugh Bigod in East
Anglia had forced Stephen to march against him. Perhaps he felt that he
had not received a large enough reward for the doubtful oath which he had
sworn to secure the king his crown. Stephen at any rate was now in a
situation where he could not withhold rewards, or even refuse demands in
critical cases; and it was probably at this time, certainly not long
after, that, following the policy he had now definitely adopted, he
created Hugh Earl of Norfolk. A still more important and typical case,
which probably occurred in the same year, is that of Geoffrey de
Mandeville. Grandson of a baron of the Conquest, he was in succession to
his father, constable of the Tower in London, and so held a position of
great strategic importance in turbulent times. Early in the strife for
the crown he seems to have seen very clearly the opportunity for
self-aggrandizement which was offered by the uncertainty of Stephen's
power, and to have resolved to make the most of it for his own gain
without scruple of conscience. His demand was for the earldom of Essex,
and this was granted him by the king. Apparently about the same time
occurred a third case of the sort which completes the evidence that the
weakness of Stephen's character was generally recognized, and that in the
resulting attitude of many of the greater barons we have the key to his
reign. One of the virtually independent feudal principalities created in
England by the Conqueror and surviving to this time was the palatine
earldom of Chester. The then earl was Ralph II, in succession to his
father Ralph Meschin, who had succeeded on the death of Earl Richard in
the sinking of the White Ship. It had been a grievance of the first
Ralph that he had been obliged by King Henry to give up his lordship of
Carlisle on taking the earldom, and this grievance had been made more
bitter for the second Ralph when the lordship had been transferred to the
Scots. There was trouble also about the inheritance of his mother Lucy,
in Lincolnshire, in which another son of hers, Ralph's half-brother,
William of Roumare, was interested. We infer that toward the end of the
year 1140 their attitude seemed threatening to the king, for he seems to
have visited them and purchased their adherence with large gifts,
granting to William the earldom of Lincoln.

Then follows rapidly the series of events which led to the crisis of the
war. The brothers evidently were not yet satisfied. Stephen had retained
in his hands the castle of Lincoln and this Ralph and William seized by a
stratagem. Stephen, informed of what had happened by a messenger from the
citizens, acted with his characteristic energy at the beginning of any
enterprise, broke up his Christmas court at London, and suddenly, to the
great surprise of the earls, appeared in Lincoln with a besieging army.
Ralph managed to escape to raise in Chester a relieving army, and at once
took a step which becomes from this time not infrequent among the barons
of his stamp. He applied for help to Robert of Gloucester, whose
son-in-law he was, and offered to go over to Matilda with all that he
held. He was received, of course, with a warm welcome. Robert recognized
the opportunity which the circumstances probably offered to strike a
decisive blow, and, gathering the strongest force he could, he advanced
from Gloucester against the king. On the way he was joined by the Earl of
Chester, whose forces included many Welsh ready to fight in an English
quarrel but badly armed. The attacking army skirted Lincoln and appeared
on the high road leading to it from the north, where was the best
prospect of forcing an entrance to the city.

The approach of the enemy led, as usual in Stephen's armies, to divided
counsels. Some were in favour of retreating and collecting a larger army,
others of fighting at once. To fight at once would be Stephen's natural
inclination, and he determined to risk a battle, which he must have known
would have decisive consequences. His army he drew up in three bodies
across the way of approach. Six earls were with the king, reckoning the
Count of Meulan, but they had not brought strong forces and there were
few horsemen. Five of these earls formed the first line. The second was
under William of Ypres and William of Aumale, and was probably made up
of the king's foreign troops. Stephen himself, with a strong band of
men all on foot, was posted in the rear. The enemy's formation was
similar. The Earl of Chester claimed the right to lead the attack,
because the quarrel was his, but the men upon whom Robert most depended
were the "disinherited," of whom he had collected many,--men raised up
by Matilda's father and cast down by Stephen, and now ready to stake all
on the hope of revenge and of restoration; and these he placed in the
first line. Earl Ralph led the second, and himself the third. The battle
was soon over, except the struggle round the king. His first and second
lines were quickly swept away by the determined charge of Robert's men
and took to flight, but Stephen and his men beat off several attacks
before he was finally overpowered and forced to yield. He surrendered
to Robert of Gloucester. Many minor barons were taken prisoners with
him, but the six earls all escaped. The citizens of Lincoln were punished
for their adhesion to the king's side by a sacking of the city, in which
many of them were slain. Stephen was taken to Gloucester by Robert, and
then sent to imprisonment in the castle of Bristol, the most secure place
which Matilda possessed.

[38] Gesta Stephani, 42.

[39] Gervase of Canterbury, i. 109. But see Ralph de Diceto, i. 252,
n. 2, and Boehmer, Kirche und Staat, 375.

[40] Gesta Stephani, 47.



The victory at Lincoln changed the situation of affairs at a blow. From
holding a little oval of territory about the mouth of the Severn as the
utmost she had gained, with small immediate prospect of enlarging it,
Matilda found the way to the throne directly open before her with
no obstacle in sight not easily overcome. She set out at once for
Winchester. On his side, Bishop Henry was in no mood to stake his
position and influence on the cause of his brother. Stephen's attitude
towards him and towards the Church had smoothed the way for Matilda at
the point where she might expect the first and most serious check. The
negotiations were not difficult, but the result shows as clearly as in
the case of Stephen the disadvantage of the crown at such a crisis, and
the opportunity offered to the vassal, whether baron or bishop, who held
a position of independent strength and was determined to use it in his
own interests. The arrangement was called at the time a pactus--a
treaty. The Empress took oath to the bishop that all the more important
business of England, especially the filling of bishoprics and abbacies,
should be done according to his desire, and her oath was supported by
those of her brother and of the leading barons with her. The bishop in
turn received her as "Lady of England," and swore fealty to her as long
as she should keep this pact. The next day, March 3, she entered the
city, took possession of the small sum of money which had been left in
the treasury by Stephen and of the royal crown which was there, entered
the cathedral in solemn procession, supported by Henry and the Bishop of
St. David's, with four other bishops and several abbots present, and had
herself proclaimed at once "lady and queen of England," whatever the
double title may mean. Certainly she intended to be and believed herself
nothing less than reigning queen.[41] Without waiting for any ceremony
of coronation, she appointed a bishop, created earls, and spoke in a
formal document of her kingdom and her crown.

Directly after these events Henry of Winchester had summoned a council,
to learn, very likely to guide, the decision of the Church as to a change
of allegiance. The council met in Winchester on April 7. On that day the
legate met separately, in secret session, the different orders of the
clergy, and apparently obtained from them the decision which he wished.
The next day in a speech to the council, he recited the misgovernment of
his brother, who, he declared, had, almost immediately after his
accession to power, destroyed the peace of the kingdom; and without any
allusion to his deposition, except to the battle of Lincoln as a judgment
of God, and with no formal action of the council as a whole, he announced
the choice of the Church in favour of Matilda. The day following, a
request of the Londoners and of the barons who had joined them for the
release of Stephen, and one of his queen's to the same effect, was
refused. The Empress was not present at the council. She spent Easter at
Oxford, receiving reports, no doubt, of the constant successes her party
was now gaining in different parts of England. It was not, however, till
the middle of June that London, naturally devoted to Stephen, was ready
to receive her.

Her reception in London marks the height of her success. She bought the
support of the powerful Geoffrey de Mandeville by confirming to him the
price which he had extorted from Stephen, the earldom of Essex, and by
bidding higher than her rival with gifts of lands, revenues, and
privileges which started him on the road to independence of the crown,
which he well knew how to follow. Preparations were no doubt at once
begun for her coronation. Her uncle King David came down from Scotland to
lend it dignity, but it was destined never to occur. Her fall was as
rapid as her rise, and was due, even more clearly than Stephen's, to her
own inability to rule. The violent and tyrannical blood of her uncle,
William Rufus, showed itself in her as plainly as the irresolute blood of
Robert Curthose in her cousin, but she did not wait to gain her uncle's
security of position to make violence and tyranny possible. Already,
before she came up to London, she had offended her followers by the
arrogance and harshness of her conduct. Now these traits of character
proved fatal to her cause. She greatly offended the legate, to whom she
was as deeply indebted as Stephen had been, and whose power to injure her
she might easily understand, by refusing to promise that Eustace might
hold his father's continental counties of Boulogne and Mortain. Equally
unwise was her attitude towards London. She demanded a large subsidy. The
request of the citizens for a confirmation of the laws of King Edward,
because her father's were too heavy for them, she sternly refused. Queen
Matilda, "acting the part of a man," advanced with her forces to the
neighbourhood of the city and brought home to the burghers the evils of
civil war. They were easily moved. A sudden uprising of the city forced
the Empress to "ignominious" flight, leaving her baggage behind. She
retreated to Oxford, and Matilda the queen entered the recovered city.
Geoffrey de Mandeville at once brought his allegiance to the new market
and obtained, it is probable, another advance of price and Henry of
Winchester was easily persuaded to return to his brother's side.
"Behold," says the historian of the Empress's party, "while she was
thinking that she could immediately possess all England, everything
changed." He adds that the change was her own fault, and in this he was

But Matilda was not ready to accept calmly so decided a reverse, nor to
allow Winchester to remain in undisturbed possession of her enemies, and
her brother Robert was not. They had been driven from London on June 24.
At the end of July, with a strong force, they attacked the older capital
city, took possession of a part of it, forced the bishop to flee, and
began the siege of his castle. At once the leaders of Stephen's cause,
encouraged by recent events, gathered against them. While the Empress
besieged the bishop's men from within, she was herself besieged from
without by superior forces. At last the danger of being cut off from all
supplies forced her to retreat, and in the retreat Robert of Gloucester,
protecting his sister's flight, was himself captured. This was a great
stroke of fortune, because it balanced for practical purposes the capture
of Stephen at the battle of Lincoln, and it at once suggested an even
exchange. Negotiations were not altogether easy. Robert modestly insisted
that he was not equal to a king, but the arrangement was too obvious to
admit of failure, and the exchange was effected at the beginning of

Since the middle of June the course of affairs had turned rapidly in
favour of the king, but he was still far from having recovered the
position of strength which he occupied before the landing of Matilda.
Oxford was still in her hands, and so was a large part of the west of
England. The Earl of Chester was still on her side, though he had
signified his willingness to change sides if he were properly received.
Stephen had yet before him a hard task in recovering his kingdom, and he
never accomplished it. The war dragged on its slow length for more than
ten years. Its dramatic period, however, was now ended. Only the story of
Matilda's flight from Oxford enlivens the later narrative. Siege and
skirmish, treason and counter-treason, fill up the passing months, but
bring the end no nearer, until the entry of the young Henry on the scene
lends a new element of interest and decision to the dull movement of

At first after his release Stephen carried on the work of restoration
rapidly and without interruption. London received him with joy. At
Christmas time he wore his crown at Canterbury; he was probably, indeed,
re-crowned by the archbishop, to make good any defect which his
imprisonment might imply. Already, on December 7, a new council,
assembling in Westminster, had reversed the decisions of the council of
Winchester, and, supported by a new declaration of the pope in a letter
to the legate, had restored the allegiance of the Church to Stephen. At
the Christmas assembly Geoffrey de Mandeville secured from the king the
reward of his latest shift of sides, in a new charter which increased a
power already dangerous and made him an almost independent prince. In the
creation of two new earls a short time before, William of Albini as Earl
of Sussex or Arundel, and Gilbert of Clare as Earl of Hertford, Stephen
sought to confirm a doubtful, and to reward a steady, support. No event
of importance marks the opening months of 1142. Lent was spent in a royal
progress through eastern England, where as yet the Empress had obtained
no footing, to York. On the way, at Stamford, he seems to have recovered
the allegiance of the Earl of Chester and of his brother, the Earl of
Lincoln, a sure sign of the change which had taken place since the battle
in which they had overcome him so disastrously a year before.

In the summer Stephen again assumed the offensive and pushed the attack
on his enemies with energy and skill. After a series of minor successes
he advanced against the Empress herself at Oxford, where she had made her
headquarters since the loss of London. Her brother Robert, who was the
real head of her party, was now in Normandy, whither he had gone to
persuade Geoffrey to lend the support of his personal presence to his
wife's cause in England, but he had made sure, as he believed, of his
sister's safety before going. The fortifications of Oxford had been
strengthened. The barons had pledged themselves to guard Matilda, and
hostages had been exacted from some as a check on the fashion of free
desertion. It seems to have been felt, however, that Stephen would not
venture to attack Oxford, and there had been no special concentration of
strength in the city; so that when he suddenly appeared on the south,
having advanced down the river from the west, he was easily able to
disperse the burghers who attempted to dispute his passage of the river,
and to enter one of the gates with them in their flight. The town was
sacked, and the king then sat down to a siege of the castle. The siege
became a blockade, which lasted from the end of September to near
Christmas time, though it was pushed with all the artillery of the age,
and a blockade in which the castle was carefully watched day and night.
Stephen seems to have changed his mind since the time when he had
besieged Matilda in Arundel castle, and to have been now determined to
take his rival prisoner. The barons who had promised to protect the
Empress gathered at Wallingford, but did not venture to attempt a direct
raising of the siege. Robert of Gloucester returned from Normandy about
December 1, but Stephen allowed him to win a small success or two, and
kept steadily to his purpose.

As it drew near to Christmas provisions became low in the castle, and the
necessity of surrender unpleasantly clear. Finally Matilda determined to
attempt a bold escape. It was a severe winter and the ground was entirely
covered with snow. With only a few attendants--three and five are both
mentioned--she was let down with ropes from a tower, and, clad all in
white, stole through the lines of the besiegers, detected only by a
sentry, who raised no alarm. With determined spirit and endurance she
fled on foot through the winter night and over difficult ways to
Abingdon, six miles away. There she obtained horses and rode on to
Wallingford, where she was safe. The castle of Oxford immediately
surrendered to Stephen, but the great advantage for which he had striven
had escaped him when almost in his hands. Robert of Gloucester, who was
preparing to attempt the raising of the siege, at once joined his sister
at Wallingford, and brought with him her son, the future Henry II, sent
over in place of his father, on his first visit to England. Henry was now
in his tenth year, and for four years and more he remained in England in
the inaccessible stronghold of Bristol, studying with a tutor under the
guardianship of his uncle. Robert's mission of the previous summer, to
get help for Matilda in England, proved more useful to Geoffrey than to
his wife. During a rapid campaign the conquest of the duchy had at last
been really begun, and in the two following years it was carried to a
successful conclusion. On January 20,1144, the city of Rouen surrendered
to the Count of Anjou, though the castle held out for some time longer.
Even Waleran of Meulan recognized the new situation of affairs, and gave
his aid to the cause of Anjou, and before the close of the year Louis VII
formally invested Geoffrey with the duchy. This much of the plan of Henry
I was now realized; Stephen never recovered possession of Normandy. But
without England, it was realized in a way which destroyed the plan
itself, and England was still far from any union with the Angevin

By the time the conquest of Normandy was completed, events of equal
interest had taken place in England, involving the fall of the powerful
and shifty Earl of Essex, Geoffrey de Mandeville. Soon after Easter,
1142, he had found an opportunity for another prudent and profitable
change of sides. The king had fallen ill on his return from the north,
and, once more, as at the beginning of his reign, the report of his death
was spread abroad. Geoffrey seems to have hurried at once to the Empress,
as a probable source of future favours, and to have carried with him a
small crowd of his friends and relatives, including the equally
unscrupulous Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. Matilda, who was then at
Oxford, and had no prospect of any immediate advance, was again ready to
give him all he asked. Her fortunes were at too low an ebb to warrant her
counting the cost, and in any case what she was buying was of great value
if she could make sure that the sellers would keep faith. Geoffrey, with
his friends, and Nigel, Bishop of Ely, who was already on her side,
controlling Essex, Hertford, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridge, could give
her possession of as large a territory on the east of England as she now
held on the west, and this would very likely carry with it the occupation
of London once more, and would threaten to cut the kingdom of Stephen
into two detached fragments. Geoffrey was in a position to drive a good
bargain, and he did so. New lands and revenues, new rights and
privileges, were added to those he had already extorted from both sides;
the Empress promised to make no peace without his consent with his
"mortal enemies," the burghers of London, towards whom she probably had
herself just then no great love. Geoffrey's friends were admitted to
share with him in the results of his careful study of the conditions of
the market, especially his brother-in-law, Aubrey de Vere, who was made
Earl by his own choice of Cambridge, but in the end of Oxford, probably
because Matilda's cousin, Henry of Scotland, considered that Cambridge
was included in his earldom of Huntingdon. What price was offered to Hugh
Bigod, or to Gilbert Clare, Earl of Pembroke, who seems to have been of
the number, we do not know.

As a matter of fact, neither Geoffrey nor the Empress gained anything
from this bargaining. Stephen was not dead, and his vigorous campaign of
the summer of 1142 evidently made it seem prudent to Geoffrey to hold his
intended treason in reserve for a more promising opportunity. It is
probable that Stephen soon learned the facts, before very long they
became common talk, but he awaited on his side a better opportunity to
strike. The earl had grown too powerful to be dealt with without
considering ways and means. Contemporary writers call him the most
powerful man in England, and they regard his abilities with as much
respect as his possessions and power. Stephen took his opportunity in the
autumn of 1143, at a court held at St. Albans. The time was not wisely
chosen. Things had not been going well with him during the summer. At
Wilton he had been badly defeated by the Earl of Gloucester, and nearly
half of England was in Matilda's possession or independent of his own
control. But he yielded to the pressure of Geoffrey's enemies at the
court, and ordered and secured his arrest on a charge of treason. The
stroke succeeded no better than such measures usually did with Stephen,
for he was always satisfied with a partial success. A threat of hanging
forced the earl to surrender his castles, including the Tower of London,
and then he was released. Geoffrey was not the man to submit to such a
sudden overthrow without a trial of strength. With some of his friends he
instantly appealed to arms, took possession of the Isle of Ely, where he
was sure of a friendly reception, seized Ramsey Abbey, and turning out
the monks made a fortress of it, and kept his forces in supplies by
cruelly ravaging the surrounding lands.

It has been thought that the famous picture of the sufferings of the
people of England during the anarchy of Stephen's reign, which was
written in the neighbouring city of Peterborough, where the last of the
English Chronicles was now drawing to its close, gained its vividness
from the writer's personal knowledge of the horrors of this time; and
this is probable, though he speaks in general terms. His pitiful account
runs thus in part: "Every powerful man made his castles and held them
against him [the king]; and they filled the land full of castles. They
cruelly oppressed the wretched men of the land with castle-works. When
the castles were made, they filled them with devils and evil men. Then
took they those men that they thought had any property ... and put them
in prison for their gold and silver, and tortured them with unutterable
torture; for never were martyrs so tortured as they were. They hanged
them up by the feet and smoked them with foul smoke; they hanged them by
the thumbs or by the head and hung armour on their feet; they put knotted
strings about their heads and writhed them so that they went into the
brain. They put them in dungeons in which were adders, and snakes, and
toads, and killed them so.... Then was corn dear, and flesh, and cheese,
and butter; for there was none in the land. Wretched men died of hunger;
some went seeking alms who at one while were rich men; some fled out of
the land. Never yet had more wretchedness been in the land, nor ever did
heathen men do worse than they did; for oftentimes they forbore neither
church nor churchyard, but took all the property that was therein and
then burned the church and all together.... However a man tilled, the
earth bare no corn; for the land was all fordone by such deeds; and they
said openly that Christ and his saints slept."

Geoffrey de Mandeville's career of plundering and sacrilege was not
destined to continue long. Towards the end of the summer of 1144, he was
wounded in the head by an arrow, in an attack on a fortified post which
the king had established at Burwell to hold his raids in check; and soon
after he died. His body was carried to the house of the Templars in
London, but for twenty years it could not be received into consecrated
ground, for he had died with his crimes unpardoned and under the ban of
the Church, which was only removed after these years by the efforts of
his younger son, a new Earl of Essex. To the great power for which
Geoffrey was playing, to his independent principality, or to his possibly
even higher ambition of controlling the destinies of the crown of
England, there was no successor. His eldest son, Ernulf, shared his
father's fall and condemnation, and was disinherited, though from him
there descended a family holding for some generations a minor position in
Oxfordshire. Twelve years after the death of Geoffrey, his second
son--also Geoffrey--was made Earl of Essex by Henry II, and his faithful
service to the king, and his brother's after him, were rewarded by
increasing possessions and influence that almost rivalled their father's;
but the wilder designs and unscrupulous methods of the first Earl of
Essex perished with him.

The years 1144 and 1145 were on the whole prosperous for Stephen. A
number of minor successes and minor accessions from the enemy made up a
general drift in his favour. Even the Earl of Gloucester's son Philip,
with a selfishness typical of the time, turned against his father; but
the most important desertion to the king was that of the Earl of Chester,
who joined him in 1146 and made a display of zeal, real or pretended, in
his service. Starting with greater power and a more independent position
than Geoffrey de Mandeville, and perhaps less openly bartering his
allegiance to one side and the other at a constantly rising price, he had
still pursued the same policy and with even greater success. His design
was hardly less than the carving out of a state for himself from western
and northern England, and during much of this disjointed time he seems to
have carried himself with no regard to either side. To go over to the
king so soon after the fall of the Earl of Essex was, it is likely, to
take some risk, and as in the former case there was a party at the court
which influenced Stephen against him. His refusal, notwithstanding his
zeal, to restore castles and lands belonging to the king, and his attempt
to induce Stephen to aid him against the Welsh, which was considered a
plot to get possession of the king's person, led to his arrest. Again
Stephen followed his habitual policy of forcing the surrender of his
prisoner's castles, or certain of them, and then releasing him; and again
the usual result followed, the instant insurrection of the earl. His real
power had hardly been lessened by giving up the king's castles,--to which
he had been forced,--and it was not easy to attack him. On a later visit
of the young Henry to England, he obtained from him, and even from the
king of Scotland, to whom he had long been hostile, large additions to
his coveted principality in the west and north; but Stephen at once bid
higher, and for a grant including the same possessions and more he
abandoned his new allies. On Henry's final visit, in 1153, when the tide
was fairly turning in his favour, another well-timed treason secured the
earl his winnings and great promises for the future; but in this same
year he died, poisoned, as it was believed, by one whose lands he had
obtained. Out of the breaking up of England and the helplessness of her
rulers arose no independent feudalism. Higher titles and wider lands many
barons did gain, but the power of the king emerged in the end still
supreme, and the worst of the permanent evils of the feudal system, a
divided state, though deliberately sought and dangerously near, was at
last averted.

With the death of Pope Innocent II, in September, 1143, a new period
opened in the relation of the English Church and of the English king
towards the papacy. Innocent had been on the whole favourable to
Stephen's cause. His successor, Celestine II, was as favourable to Anjou,
but his papacy was so short that nothing was done except to withhold a
renewal of Henry of Winchester's commission as legate. Lucius II, who
succeeded in March, 1144, sent his own legate to England; but he was not
a partisan of either side, and seems even--perhaps by way of
compensation--to have taken steps towards creating an independent
archbishopric in the south-west in Henry's favour. His papacy again
lasted less than a year, and his successor, Eugenius III, whose reign
lasted almost to the end of Stephen's, was decidedly unfriendly. Henry of
Winchester was for a time suspended; and the king's candidate for the
archbishopric of York, William Fitz Herbert, afterwards St. William of
York,--whose position had long been in doubt, for though he had been
consecrated he had not received his pallium,--was deposed, and in his
place the Cistercian Abbot of Fountains, Henry Murdac, was consecrated by
the Cistercian pope. This was the beginning of open conflict. Henry
Murdac could not get possession of his see, and Archbishop Theobald was
refused permission to attend a council summoned by the pope at Reims for
March, 1148. He went secretly, crossing the channel in a fishing boat,
and was enthusiastically received by the pope. The Bishop of Winchester
was again suspended, and other bishops with him; several abbots were
deposed; and Gilbert Foliot, a decided partisan of Matilda's, was
designated Bishop of Hereford. The pope was with difficulty persuaded to
postpone the excommunication of Stephen himself, and steps were actually
taken to reopen before the Roman court the question of his right to the
throne. Stephen, on his side, responded with promptness and vigour. He
refused to acknowledge the right of the pope to reopen the main question.
The primate was banished and his temporalities confiscated. Most of the
English clergy were kept on the king's side, and in some way--there is
some evidence that the influence of Queen Matilda was employed--the
serious danger which threatened Stephen from the Church in the spring of
1148 was averted. Peace was made in November with Archbishop Theobald,
who had ineffectually tried an interdict, and he was restored to his see
and revenues. The practical advantage, on the whole, remained with the
king; but in the course of these events a young man, Thomas Becket, in
the service of the archbishop, acquired a training in ideas and in
methods which was to serve him well in a greater struggle with a greater

In the spring of the next year, young Henry of Anjou made an attempt on
England, and found his enemies still too strong for him. In the interval
since his first visit, Robert of Gloucester, the wisest of the leaders
of the Angevin cause, had died in his fortress of Bristol in 1174; and
in February of 1148, Matilda herself had given up her long and now
apparently hopeless struggle in England, and gone back to the home of
her husband, though she seems to have encouraged her son in his new
enterprise by her presence in England at least for a time.[43] The older
generation was disappearing from the field; the younger was preparing to
go on with the conflict. In 1149 Henry was sixteen years old, a mature
age in that time, and it might well have been thought that it was wise
to put him forward as leader in his own cause. The plan for this year
seems to have been an attack on Stephen from the north by the king of
Scotland in alliance with the Earl of Chester, and Henry passed rapidly
through western England to Carlisle, where he was knighted by King
David. Their army, which advanced to attack Lancaster, accomplished
nothing, because, as has been related, the allegiance of Ralph of
Chester, on whom they depended, had been bought back by Stephen; and
Stephen himself, waiting with his army at York, found that he had
nothing to do. The Scottish force withdrew, and Henry, again
disappointed, was obliged to return to Normandy.

Three years later the young Henry made another and finally successful
attempt to win his grandfather's throne, but in the interval great
changes had occurred. Of these one fell in the year next following, 1150.
Soon after Henry's return from England, his father had handed over to him
the only portion of his mother's inheritance which had yet been
recovered, the duchy of Normandy, and retired himself to his hereditary
dominions. Geoffrey had never shown, so far as we know, any interest in
his wife's campaigns in England, and had confined his attention to
Normandy, in which one who was still primarily a count of Anjou would
naturally have the most concern; and of all the efforts of the family
this was the only one which was successful. Now while still a young man,
with rare disregard of self, he gave up his conquest to his son, who had
been brought up to consider himself as belonging rather to England than
to Anjou. On the other side of the channel, during this year 1150,
Stephen seems to have decided upon a plan which he bent every effort in
the following years to carry out, but unsuccessfully,--the plan of
securing a formal recognition of his son Eustace as his successor in the
throne, or even as king with him. At least this is the natural
explanation of the reconciliation which took place near the close of the
year, between Eustace and his father on one side and Henry Murdac on the
other, by which the archbishop was at last admitted to his see of York,
and then set off immediately for Rome to persuade the pope to recognize
Eustace, and even to consecrate the young man in person.

In England the practice of crowning the son king in the father's lifetime
had never been followed, as it had been in some of the continental
states, notably in France; but the conditions were now exactly those
which would make such a step seem desirable to the holder of the crown.
By this means the Capetian family had maintained undisputed possession of
the throne through turbulent times with little real power of their own,
and they were now approaching the point when they could feel that the
custom was no longer necessary. The decision to attempt this method of
securing the succession while still in possession of power, rather than
to leave it to the uncertain chances that would follow his death, was for
Stephen natural and wise. It is interesting to notice how indispensable
the consent of the Church was considered, as the really deciding voice in
the matter, and it was this that Stephen was not able to secure. The
pope--this was about Easter time of 1151--rejected almost with
indignation the suggestion of Murdac, on the ground of the violated oath,
and forbade any innovation to be made concerning the crown of England,
because this was a subject of litigation; he also directed, very probably
at this time, the Archbishop of Canterbury, it was said at the suggestion
of Thomas Becket, to refuse to crown Eustace.

With his duchy of Normandy, Henry had inherited at the same time the
danger of trouble with the king of France, for his father had greatly
displeased Louis by laying siege to the castle of a seditious vassal of
Anjou who happened to be a favourite of the king. It would seem that this
state of things suggested to Eustace an attack on Normandy in alliance
with King Louis, but the attempt was fruitless. Twice during the summer
of 1151 French armies invaded Normandy; the first led by the king
himself. Both invasions were met by Henry at the head of his troops, but
no fighting occurred on either occasion. On the second invasion, Louis
was ill of a fever in Paris, and negotiations for peace were begun, the
Church interesting itself to this end. Geoffrey and Henry certainly had
no wish for war. The king's friend, who had been captured, was handed
over to him; the Norman Vexin was surrendered to France; and in return
Louis recognized Henry as Duke of Normandy and accepted his homage. Henry
at once ordered an assembly of the Norman barons, on September 14, to
consider the invasion of England; but his plans were interrupted by the
sudden death of his father a week before this date. Geoffrey was then in
his thirty-ninth year. The course of his life had been marked out for him
by the plans of others, and it is obscured for us by the deeper interest
of the struggle in England, and by the greater brilliancy of his son's
history; but in the conquest of Normandy he had accomplished a work which
was of the highest value to his house, and of the greatest assistance to
the rapid success of his son on a wider field.

Events were now steadily moving in favour of Henry. At the close of 1151,
the death of his father added the county of Anjou to his duchy of
Normandy. Early in 1152 a larger possession than these together, and a
most brilliant promise of future power, came to him through no effort of
his own. We have seen how at the beginning of the reign of Stephen, when
Henry himself was not yet five years old, Eleanor, heiress of Aquitaine,
had been married to young Louis of France, who became in a few weeks, by
the death of his father, King Louis VII. Half a lifetime, as men lived in
those days, they had spent together as man and wife, with no serious lack
of harmony. The marriage, however, could never have been a very happy
one. Incompatibility of temper and tastes must long have made itself felt
before the determination to dissolve the marriage was reached. Masculine
in character, strong and full of spirit, Eleanor must have looked with
some contempt on her husband, who was losing the energy of his younger
days and passing more and more under the influence of the darker and more
superstitious elements in the religion of the time, and she probably did
not hesitate to let her opinion be known. She said he was a monk and not
a king. To this, it is likely, was added the fact--it may very possibly
have been the deciding consideration--that during the more than fourteen
years of the marriage but two daughters had been born, and the Capetian
house still lacked an heir. Whatever may have been the reason, a divorce
was resolved upon not long after their return in 1149 from the second
crusade. The death in January, 1152, of Louis VI's great minister, Suger,
whose still powerful influence, for obvious political reasons, had
hindered the final steps, made the way clear. In March an assembly of
clergy, with many barons in attendance, declared the marriage void on the
convenient and easily adjustable principle of too near relationship, and
Eleanor received back her great inheritance.

It was not likely that a woman of the character of Eleanor and of her
unusual attractions, alike of person and possessions, would quietly
accept as final the position in which this divorce had left her. After
escaping the importunate wooings of a couple of suitors who sought to
intercept her return to her own dominions, she sent a message to Henry of
Anjou, and he responded at once. In the third week of May they were
married at Poitiers, two months after the divorce. In a few weeks' time,
by two brief ecclesiastical ceremonies, the greatest feudal state of
France, a quarter of the kingdom, had been transferred from the king to
an uncontrollable vassal who practically held already another quarter.
The king of France was reduced as speedily from a position of great
apparent power and promise to the scanty territories of the Capetian
domain, and brought face to face with the danger of not distant ruin to
the plans of his house. To Henry, at the very beginning of his career,
was opened the immediate prospect of an empire greater than any which
existed at that time in Europe under the direct rule of any other
sovereign. If he could gain England, he would bear sway, as king in
reality if not in name, from Scotland to the Pyrenees, and from such a
beginning what was there that might not be gained? Why these hopes were
never realized, how the Capetian kings escaped this danger, must fill a
large part of our story to the death of Henry's youngest son, King John.
At the date of his marriage Henry had just entered on his twentieth year.
Eleanor was nearly twelve years older. If she had sought happiness in her
new marriage, she did not find it, at least not permanently; and many
later years were spent in open hostility with Henry, or closely confined
in his prisons; but whatever may have been her feelings towards him, she
found no occasion to regard her second husband with contempt. Their
eldest son, William, who did not survive infancy, was born on August 17,
1153, and in succession four other sons were born to them and three

The first and most obvious work which now lay before Henry was the
conquest of England, and the plans which had been earlier formed for
this object and deferred by these events were at once taken up. By the
end of June the young bridegroom was at Barfleur preparing to cross the
channel with an invading force. But he was not to be permitted to enjoy
his new fortunes unchallenged. Louis VII in particular had reasons for
interfering, and the law was on his side. The heiress Eleanor had no
right to marry without the consent of her feudal suzerain. A summons, it
is said, was at once served on Henry to appear before the king's court
and answer for his conduct,[44] and this summons, which Henry refused to
obey, was supported by a new coalition. Louis and Eustace were again in
alliance, and they were joined by Henry's own brother Geoffrey, who
could make considerable trouble in the south of Henry's lands, by Robert
of Dreux, Count of Perche, and by Eustace's cousin Henry, Count of
Champagne. Stephen's brother Theobald had died at the beginning of the
year, and his great dominions had been divided, Champagne and Blois
being once more separated, never to be reunited until they were absorbed
at different dates into the royal domain. This coalition was strong
enough to check Henry's plan of an invasion of England, but it did not
prove a serious danger, though the allies are said to have formed a plan
for the partition of all the Angevin empire among themselves. For some
reason their campaign does not seem to have been vigorously pushed. The
young duke was able to force his brother to come to terms, and he
succeeded in patching up a rather insecure truce with King Louis. On
this, however, he dared to rely enough--or perhaps he trusted to the
situation as he understood it--to venture at last, in January, 1153, on
his long-deferred expedition to recover his mother's kingdom. Stephen
had begun the siege of the important fortress of Wallingford, and a new
call for aid had come over to Normandy from the hard-pressed garrison.

In the meantime, during the same days when the divorce and remarriage of
Eleanor of Aquitaine were making such a change in the power and prospects
of his competitor for the crown, Stephen had made a new attempt to secure
the possession of that crown firmly to his son Eustace. A meeting of the
great council of the kingdom, or of that part which obeyed Stephen, was
called at London early in April, 1152. This body was asked to sanction
the immediate consecration of Eustace as king. The barons who were
present were ready to agree, and they swore allegiance to him and
probably did homage, which was as far as the barons by themselves could
go. The prelates, however, under the lead of the Archbishop of
Canterbury,--Henry of Winchester is not mentioned in this case,--flatly
refused to perform the consecration. The papal prohibition of any such
act still held good, and the clergy of England had been given, as they
would recall the past, no reason to disobey the pope in the interests of
King Stephen. The king, in great anger, appealed to force against them,
but without avail. Temporary imprisonment of the prelates at the council,
in a house together, even temporary confiscation of the baronies of some
of them, did not move them, and Stephen was obliged to postpone his plan
once more. The archbishop again escaped to the continent to await the
course of events, and Stephen appealed to the sword to gain some new
advantage to balance this decided rebuff. Then followed the vigorous
siege of Wallingford, which called Henry into England at the beginning of

The force which Henry brought with him crossed the channel in thirty-six
ships, and was estimated at the time at 140 men-at-arms and 3000
foot-soldiers, a very respectable army for that day; but the duke's
friends in England very likely formed their ideas of the army he would
bring from the breadth of his territories, and they expressed their
disappointment. Henry was to win England, however, not by an invasion,
but by the skill of his management and by the influence of events which
worked for him here as on the continent without an effort of his own. Now
it was that Ralph of Chester performed his final change of sides and sold
to Henry, at the highest price which treason reached in any transaction
of this long and favourable time, the aid which was so necessary to the
Angevin success. Henry's first attempt was against the important castle
of Malmesbury, midway between Bristol and Wallingford, and Stephen was
not able to prevent its fall. Then the garrison of Wallingford was
relieved, and the intrenched position of Stephen's forces over against
the castle was invested. The king came up with an army to protect his
men, and would gladly have joined battle and settled the question on the
spot, but once more his barons refused to fight. They desired nothing
less than the victory of one of the rivals, which would bring the chance
of a strong royal power and of their subjection to it. Apparently Henry's
barons held the same view of the case, and assisted in forcing the
leaders to agree to a brief truce, the advantage of which would in
reality fall wholly to Henry.

From Wallingford Henry marched north through central England, where towns
and castles one after another fell into his hands. From Wallingford also,
Eustace withdrew from his father, greatly angered by the truce which had
been made, and went off to the east on an expedition of his own which
looks much like a plundering raid. Rashly he laid waste the lands of St.
Edmund, who was well known to be a fierce protector of his own and to
have no hesitation at striking even a royal robber. Punishment quickly
followed the offence. Within a week Eustace was smitten with madness and
died on August 17, a new and terrible warning of the fate of the
sacrilegious. This death changed the whole outlook for the future.
Stephen had no more interest in continuing the war than to protect
himself. His wife had now been dead for more than a year. His next son,
William, had never looked forward to the crown, and had never been
prominent in the struggle. He had been lately married to the heiress of
the Earl of Surrey, and if he could be secured in the quiet and
undisputed possession of this inheritance and of the lands which his
father had granted him, and of the still broader lands in Normandy and
England which had belonged to Stephen before he seized the crown, then
the advantage might very well seem to the king, near the close of his
stormy life, greater than any to be gained from the desperate struggle
for the throne. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who had by some means
returned to England, proposed peace, and undertook negotiations between
the king and the duke, supported by Henry of Winchester. Henry of Anjou
could well afford to wait. The delay before he could in this way obtain
the crown would probably not be very long and would be amply compensated
by a peaceful and undisputed succession, while in the meantime he could
give himself entirely to the mission which, since he had landed in
England, he had loudly proclaimed as his of putting an end to plundering
and oppression. On November 6 the rivals met at Winchester to make peace,
and the terms of their agreement were recited in a great council of the
kingdom, probably the first which was in any sense a council of the whole
kingdom that had met in nearly or quite fifteen years. First, the king
formally recognized before the assembly the hereditary right of Henry to
the kingdom of England. Then the duke formally agreed that Stephen should
hold the throne so long as he should live; and king, and bishops, and
barons bound themselves with an oath that on Stephen's death Henry should
succeed peacefully and without any contradiction. It was also agreed
under oath, that all possessions which had been seized by force should be
restored to their rightful owners, and that all castles which had been
erected since the death of Henry I should be destroyed, and the number of
these was noted at the time as 1115, though a more credible statement
gives the number as 375. The treaty between the two which had no doubt
preceded these ceremonies in the council contained other provisions.
Stephen promised to regard Henry as a son--possibly he formally adopted
him--and to rule England by his advice. Henry promised that William
should enjoy undisturbed all the possessions which he had obtained with
his wife or from his father, and all his father's private inheritance in
England and Normandy. Allegiance and homage were paid by Henry to Stephen
as king and by William to Henry, and Henry's barons did homage to Stephen
and Stephen's to Henry, with the usual reservation. The king's Flemish
mercenaries were to be sent home, and order was to be established
throughout the land, the king restoring to all their rights and resuming
himself those which had been usurped during the disorders of civil

This programme began at once to be carried out. The war came to an end.
The "adulterine" castles were destroyed, not quite so rapidly as Henry
desired, but still with some energy. The unprincipled baron, friend of
neither side and enemy of all his neighbours, deprived of his opportunity
by the union of the two contending parties, was quickly reduced to order,
and we hear no more of the feudal anarchy from which the defenceless had
suffered so much during these years. Henry and Stephen met again at
Oxford in January, 1154; they journeyed together to Dover, but as they
were returning, Henry learned of a conspiracy against his life among
Stephen's Flemish followers, some of whom must still have remained in
England, and thought it best to retire to Normandy, where he began the
resumption of the ducal domains with which his father had been obliged to
part in the time of his weakness. Stephen went on with the work of
restoration in England, but not for long. The new day of peace and strong
government was not for him. On October 25, 1154, he died at Dover, "and
was buried where his wife and his son were buried, at Faversham, the
monastery which they had founded."

Out of this long period of struggle the crown gained nothing. Out of the
opportunity of feudal independence and aggrandizement which the conflict
offered them, the barons in the end gained nothing. One of the parties to
the strife, and one only, emerged from it with great permanent gains of
power and independence, the Church. The one power which had held back the
English Church from taking its share in that great European movement by
which within a century the centralized, monarchical Church had risen up
beside the State, indeed above it, for it was now an international and
imperial Church,--the restraining force which had held the English Church
in check,--had been for a generation fatally weakened. With a bound the
Church sprang forward and took the place in England and in the world
which it would otherwise have reached more slowly during the reign of
Henry. It had been prepared by experience and by the growth of its own
convictions, to find its place at once alongside of the continental
national churches in the new imperial system. Unweakened by the
disorganization into which the State was falling, it was ready to show
itself at home the one strong and steady institution in the confusion of
the time, and to begin at once to exercise the rights it claimed but had
never been able to secure. It began to fill its own great appointments
according to its own rules, and to neglect the feudal duties which should
go with them. Its jurisdiction, which had been so closely watched,
expanded freely and ecclesiastical courts and cases rapidly multiplied.
It called its own councils and legislated without permission, and even
asserted its exclusive right to determine who should be king. Intercourse
with the papal curia grew more untrammelled, and appeals to Rome
especially increased to astonishing frequency. With these gains in
practical independence, the support on which it all rested grew strong at
the same time,--its firm belief in the Hildebrandine system. If a future
king of England should ever recover the power over the Church which had
been lost in the reign of Stephen, he would do so only by a struggle
severer than any of his predecessors had gone through to retain it; and
in these events Thomas Becket, who was to lead the defence of the Church
against such an attack, had been trained for his future work.

Monasticism also flourished while the official Church was growing strong,
and many new religious houses and new orders even were established in the
country. More of these "castles of God," we are told by one who himself
dwelt in one of them, were founded during the short reign of Stephen than
during the one hundred preceding years. In the buildings which these
monks did not cease to erect, the severer features of the Norman style
were beginning to give way to lighter and more ornamental forms. Scholars
in greater numbers went abroad. Books that still hold their place in the
intellectual or even in the literary history of the world were written by
subjects of the English king. Oxford continued to grow towards the later
University, and students there listened eagerly to the lectures on Roman
law of the Italian Vacarius until these were stopped by Stephen. In spite
of the cruelties of the time, the real life of England went on and was
scarcely even checked in its advance to better things.

[41] See Roessler, Kaiserin Mathilde, 287 ff.

[42] William of Malmesbury, sec. 497.

[43] See the Athenaeum, February 6, 1904, p. 177.

[44] But see Lot, Fideles ou Vassaux (1904), 205-212.



Henry of Anjou, for whom the way was opened to the throne of his
grandfather so soon after the treaty with Stephen, was then in his
twenty-second year. He was just in the youthful vigour of a life of more
than usual physical strength, longer in years than the average man's of
the twelfth century, and brilliant in position and promise in the eyes of
his time. But his life was in truth filled with annoying and hampering
conflict and bitter disappointment. Physically there was nothing fine or
elegant about him, rather the contrary. In bodily and mental
characteristics there was so much in common between the Angevin house and
the Norman that the new blood had made no great changes, and in physique
and in spirit Henry II continued his mother's line quite as much as his
father's. Certainly, as a modern writer has remarked, he could never have
been called by his father's name of "the Handsome." He was of middle
height, strongly built, with square shoulders, broad chest, and arms that
reminded men of a pugilist. His head was round and well shaped, and he
had reddish hair and gray eyes which seemed to flash with fire when he
was angry. His complexion also was ruddy and his face is described as
fiery or lion-like. His hands were coarse, and he never wore gloves
except when necessary in hawking. His legs were hardly straight. They
were made for the saddle and his feet for the stirrups. He was heedless
of his person and his clothes, and always cared more for action and deeds
than for appearances.

In the gifts of statesmanship and the abilities which make a great ruler
Henry seemed to his own time above the average of kings, and certainly
this is true in comparison with the king who was his rival during so much
of his reign, Louis VII of France. Posterity has also agreed to call him
one of the greatest, some have been inclined to say the greatest, of
English sovereigns. The first heavy task that fell to him, the
establishment of peace and strong government in England, he fully
achieved; and this work was thankfully celebrated by his contemporaries.
All his acts give us the impression of mental and physical power, and no
recasting of balances is ever likely to destroy the impression of great
abilities occupied with great tasks, but we need perhaps to be reminded
that to his age his position made him great, and that even upon us its
effect is magnifying. Except in the pacification of England he won no
signal success, and the schemes to which he gave his best days ended in
failure or barely escaped it. It is indeed impossible to say that in his
long reign he had before him any definite or clear policy, except to be a
strong king and to assert vigorously every right to which he believed he
could lay claim. The opportunity which his continental dominions offered
him he seems never to have understood, or at least not as it would have
been understood by a modern sovereign or by a Philip Augustus. It is
altogether probable that the successful welding together of the various
states which he held by one title or another into a consolidated monarchy
would have been impossible; but that the history of his reign gives no
clear evidence that he saw the vision of such a result, or studied the
means to accomplish it, forces us to classify Henry, in one important
respect at least, with the great kings of the past and not with those of
the coming age. In truth he was a feudal king. Notwithstanding the severe
blows which he dealt feudalism in its relation to the government of the
state, it was still feudalism as a system of life, as a source of ideals
and a guide to conduct, which ruled him to the end. He had been brought
up entirely in a feudal atmosphere, and he never freed himself from it.
He was determined to be a strong king, to be obeyed, and to allow no
infringement of his own rights,--indeed, to push them to the farthest
limit possible,--but there seems never to have been any conflict in his
mind between his duties as suzerain or vassal and any newer conception of
his position and its opportunities.

It was in England that Henry won his chief and his only permanent
success. And it was indeed not a small success. To hold under a strong
government and to compel into good order, almost unbroken, a generation
which had been trained in the anarchy and license of Stephen's reign was
a great achievement. But Henry did more than this. In the machinery of
centralization, he early began a steady and systematic development which
threatened the defences of feudalism, and tended rapidly toward an
absolute monarchy. In this was his greatest service to England. The
absolutism which his work threatened later kings came but little nearer
achieving, and the danger soon passed away, but the centralization which
he gave the state grew into a permanent and beneficent organization. In
this work Henry claimed no more than the glory of following in his
grandfather's footsteps, and the modern student of the age is more and
more inclined to believe that he was right in this, and that his true
fame as an institution maker should be rather that of a restorer than of
a founder. He put again into operation what had been already begun; he
combined and systematized and broadened, and he created the conditions
which encouraged growth and made it fruitful: but he struck out no new
way either for himself or for England.

In mind and body Henry overflowed with energy. He wearied out his court
with his incessant and restless activity. In learning he never equalled
the fame of his grandfather, Henry Beauclerc, but he loved books, and his
knowledge of languages was such as to occasion remark. He had the
passionate temper of his ancestors without the self-control of Henry I,
and sometimes raved in his anger like a maniac. In matters of morals also
he placed no restraints upon himself. His reputation in this regard has
been kept alive by the romantic legend of Rosamond Clifford; and, though
the pathetic details of her story are in truth romance and not history,
there is no lack of evidence to show that Eleanor had occasion enough for
the bitter hostility which she felt towards him in the later years of his
life. But Henry is not to be reckoned among the kings whose policy or
public conduct were affected by his vices. More passionate and less
self-controlled than his grandfather, he had something of his patience
and tenacity of purpose, and a large share of his diplomatic skill; and
the slight scruples of conscience, which on rare occasions interfered
with an immediate success, arose from a very narrow range of ethical

An older man and one of longer training in statecraft and the management
of men might easily have doubted his ability to solve the problem which
lay before Henry in England. To control a feudal baronage was never an
easy task. To re-establish a strong control which for nearly twenty years
had been greatly relaxed would be doubly difficult. But in truth the work
was more than half done when Henry came to the throne. Since the peace
declared at Winchester much had been accomplished, and most of all
perhaps in the fact that peace deprived the baron of the even balancing
of parties which had been his opportunity. On all sides also men were
worn out with the long conflict, and the material, as well as the
incentive, to continue it under the changed conditions was lacking. It is
likely too that Henry had made an impression in England, during the short
time that he had stayed there, very different from that made by Stephen
early in his reign; for it is clear that he knew what he wanted and how
to get it, and that he would be satisfied with nothing less. Nor did
there seem to be anything to justify a fear that arrangements which had
been made during the war in favour of individual men were likely to be
disturbed. So secure indeed did everything seem that Henry was in no
haste to cross to England when the news of Stephen's death reached him.

The Duke of Normandy had been occupied with various things since his
return from England in April, with the recovery of the ducal lands, with
repressing unimportant feudal disorders, and with negotiations with the
king of France. On receiving the news he finished the siege of a castle
in which he was engaged, then consulted his mother, whose counsel he
often sought to the end of her life, in her quiet retreat near Rouen, and
finally assembled the barons of Normandy. In about a fortnight he was
ready at Barfleur for the passage, but bad winds kept back the unskilful
sailors of the time for a month. In England there was no disturbance.
Everybody, we are told, feared or loved the duke and expected him to
become king, and even the Flemish troops of Stephen kept the peace. If
any one acted for the king, it was Archbishop Theobald, but there is no
evidence that there was anything for a regent to do. At last, at the end
of the first week in December, Henry landed in England and went up at
once to Winchester. There he took the homage of the English barons, and
from thence after a short delay he went on to London to be crowned. The
coronation on the 19th, the Sunday before Christmas, must have been a
brilliant ceremony. The Archbishop of Canterbury officiated in the
presence of two other archbishops and seventeen bishops, of earls and
barons from England and abroad, and an innumerable multitude of people.

Henry immediately issued a coronation charter, but it is, like Stephen's,
merely a charter of general confirmation. No specific promises are made.
The one note of the charter, the keynote of the reign for England thus
early struck, is "king Henry my grandfather." The ideal of the young
king, an ideal it is more than likely wholly satisfactory to his
subjects, was to reproduce that reign of order and justice, the time to
which men after the long anarchy would look back as to a golden age. Or
was this a declaration, a notice to all concerned, flung out in a time of
general rejoicing when it would escape challenge, that no usurpation
during Stephen's reign was to stand against the rights of the crown? That
time is passed over as a blank. No man could plead the charter as
guaranteeing him in any grant or privilege won from either side during
the civil war. To God and holy Church and to all earls and barons and all
his men, the king grants, and restores and confirms all concessions and
donations and liberties and free customs which King Henry his grandfather
had given and granted to them. Also all evil customs which his
grandfather abolished and remitted he grants to be abolished and
remitted. That is all except a general reference to the charter of Henry
I. Neither Church nor baron could tell from the charter itself what
rights had been granted or what evil customs had been abolished. But in
all probability no one at the moment greatly cared for more specific
statement. The proclamation of a general policy of return to the
conditions of the earlier age was what was most desired.

The first work before the young king would be to select those who should
aid him in the task of government in the chief offices of the state. He
probably already had a number of these men in mind from his knowledge of
England and of the leaders of his mother's party. In the peace with
Stephen, Richard de Lucy had been put in charge of the Tower and of
Windsor castle. He now seems to have been made justiciar, perhaps the
first of Henry's appointments, as he alone signs the coronation charter
though without official designation. Within a few days, however, Robert
de Beaumont, Earl of Leicester, was apparently given office with the same
title, and together they fill this position for many years, Robert
completing in it the century and more of faithful service which his
family had rendered to every successive king. The family of Roger of
Salisbury was also restored to the important branch of the service which
it had done so much to create, in the person of Nigel, Bishop of Ely, who
was given charge of the exchequer. The most important appointment in its
influence on the reign was that to the chancellorship. Archbishop
Theobald, who was probably one of Henry's most intimate counsellors, had
a candidate in whose favour he could speak in the strongest terms and
whose services in the past the king would gratefully recall. This was the
young Thomas Becket, who had done so much to prevent the coronation of

Immediately after his coronation, at Christmas time, Henry held at
Bermondsey the first of the great councils of his reign. Here the whole
state of the kingdom was discussed, and it was determined to proceed with
the expulsion of Stephen's mercenaries, and with the destruction of the
unlawful castles. The first of these undertakings gave no trouble, and
William of Ypres disappears from English history. The second, especially
with what went with it,--the resumption of Stephen's grants to great as
well as small,--was a more difficult and longer process. To begin it in
the proper way, the king himself set out early in 1155 for the north. For
some reason he did not think it wise at this time to run the risk of a
quarrel with Hugh Bigod, and it was probably on this journey at
Northampton that he gave him a charter creating him Earl of Norfolk, the
title which he had obtained from Stephen. The expedition was especially
directed against William of Aumale, Stephen's Earl of Yorkshire, and he
was compelled to surrender a part of his spoils including the strong
castle of Scarborough. William Peverel of the Peak also, who was accused
of poisoning the Earl of Chester, and who knew that there were other
reasons of condemnation against him, took refuge in a monastery, making
profession as a monk when he heard of Henry's approach, and finally fled
to the continent and abandoned everything to the king. Some time after
this, but probably during the same year, another of Stephen's earls,
William of Arundel or Sussex, obtained a charter of confirmation of the
third penny of his county.

One of the interesting features of Henry's first year is the frequency of
great councils. Four were held in nine months. It was the work of
resumption, and of securing his position, which made them necessary. The
expressed support of the baronage, as a whole, was of great value to him
as he moved against one magnate and then another, and demanded the
restoration of royal domains or castles. The second of these councils,
which was held in London in March, and in which the business of the
castles was again taken up, did not, however, secure the king against all
danger of resistance. Roger, Earl of Hereford, son of Miles of
Gloucester, who had been so faithful to Henry's mother, secretly left the
assembly determined to try the experiment of rebellion rather than to
surrender his two royal castles of Hereford and Gloucester. In this
attitude he was encouraged by Hugh Mortimer, a baron of the Welsh Marches
and head of a Conquest family of minor rank which was now rising to
importance, who was also ready to risk rebellion. Roger did not persist
in his plans. He was brought to a better mind by his kinsman, the Bishop
of Hereford, Gilbert Foliot, and gave up his castles. Mortimer ventured
to stand a siege in his strongholds, one of which was Bridgenorth where
Robert of Belleme had tried to resist Henry I in similar circumstances,
but he was forced to surrender before the middle of the summer. This was
the only armed opposition which the measures of resumption excited,
because they were carried out by degrees and with wise caution in the
selection of persons as well as of times. It was probably in this spirit
that in January of the next year Henry regranted to Aubrey de Vere his
title of Earl of Oxford and that of the unfaithful Earl of Essex to the
younger Geoffrey de Mandeville. It was twenty years after Henry's
accession and in far different circumstances that he first found himself
involved in conflict with a dangerous insurrection of the English barons.

Before the submission of Hugh Mortimer the third of the great councils of
the year had been held at Wallingford early in April, and there the
barons had been required to swear allegiance to Henry's eldest son
William, and in case of his death to his brother Henry who had been born
a few weeks before. The fourth great council met at Winchester in the
last days of September, and there a new question of policy was discussed
which led ultimately to events of great importance in the reign, and of
constantly increasing importance in the whole history of England to the
present day,--the conquest of Ireland. Apparently Henry had already
conceived the idea, to which he returns later in the case of his youngest
son, of finding in the western island an appanage for some unprovided
member of the royal house. Now he thought of giving it to his youngest
brother William. Religious and political prejudice and racial pride have
been so intensely excited by many of the statements and descriptions in
the traditional account of Henry's first steps towards the conquest,
which is based on contemporary records or what purports to be such, that
evidence which no one would think of questioning if it related to humdrum
events on the dead level of history has been vigorously assailed, and
almost every event in the series called in question. The writer of
history cannot narrate these events as they seem to him to have occurred
without warning the reader that some element of doubt attaches to his
account, and that whatever his conclusions, some careful students of
the period will not agree with him.

A few days before Henry landed in England to be crowned, Nicholas
Breakspear, the only Englishman who ever became pope, had been elected
Bishop of Rome and had taken the name of Hadrian IV. He was the son of an
English clerk, who was later a monk at St. Albans, and had not seemed to
his father a very promising boy; but on his father's death he went
abroad, studied at Paris, and was made Abbot of St. Rufus in Provence.
Then visiting Rome because of trouble, with his monks, he attracted the
notice of the pope, was made cardinal and papal legate, and finally was
himself elected pope in succession to Anastasius IV. We cannot say,
though we may think it likely, that the occupation of the papal throne by
a native Englishman made it seem to Henry a favourable time to secure so
high official sanction for his new enterprise. Nor is it possible to say
what was the form of Henry's request, or the composition of the embassy
which seems certainly to have been sent, or the character of the pope's
reply, though each of these has been made the subject of differing
conjectures for none of which is there any direct evidence in the sources
of our knowledge. The most that we can assert is what we are told by John
of Salisbury, the greatest scholar of the middle ages.

John was an intimate friend of the pope's and spent some months with him
in very familiar intercourse in the winter of 1155-1156. He relates in
a passage at the close of his Metalogicus, which he wrote, if we may
judge by internal evidence, on learning of Hadrian's death in 1159, and
which there is no reason to doubt, that at his request the pope made a
written grant of Ireland to Henry to be held by hereditary right. He
declares that the ground of this grant was the ownership of all islands
conveyed to the popes by the Donation of Constantine, and he adds that
Hadrian sent Henry a ring by which he was to be invested with the right
of ruling in Ireland. Letter and ring, he says, are preserved in England
at the time of his writing. The so called Bull "Laudabiliter" has been
traditionally supposed to be the letter referred to by John of Salisbury,
but it does not quite agree with his description, and it makes no grant
of the island to the king.[45] The probability is very strong that it
is not even what it purports to be, a letter of the pope to the king
expressing his approval of the enterprise, but merely a student's
exercise in letter writing. But the papal approval was certainly
expressed at a later time by Pope Alexander III. No doubt can attach,
however, to the account of John of Salisbury. As he describes the
grant it would correspond fully with papal ideas current at the time,
and it would be closely parallel with what we must suppose was the
intention of an earlier pope in approving William's conquest of England.
If Henry had asked for anything more than the pope's moral assent to the
enterprise, he could have expected nothing different from this, nor does
it seem that he could in that case have objected to the terms or form of
the grant described by John of Salisbury.

The expedition, however, for which Henry had made these preparations was
not actually undertaken. His mother objected to it for some reason which
we do not know, and he dropped the plan for the present. About the same
time Henry of Winchester, who had lived on into a new age, which he
probably found not wholly congenial, left England without the king's
permission and went to Cluny. This gave Henry a legal opportunity, and he
at once seized and destroyed his castles. No other event of importance
falls within the first year of the reign. It was a great work which had
been done in this time. To have plainly declared and successfully begun
the policy of reigning as a strong king, to have got rid of Stephen's
dangerous mercenaries without trouble, to have recovered so many castles
and domains without exciting a great rebellion, and to have restored the
financial system to the hands best fitted to organize and perfect it,
might satisfy the most ambitious as the work of a year. "The history of
the year furnishes," in the words of the greatest modern student of the
age, "abundant illustration of the energy and capacity of a king of

Early in January, 1156, Henry crossed to Normandy. His brother Geoffrey
was making trouble and was demanding that Anjou and Maine should be
assigned to him. We are told an improbable story that their father on his
deathbed had made such a partition of his lands, and that Henry had been
required blindly to swear that he would carry out an arrangement which
was not made known to him. If Henry made any such promise as heir, he
immediately repudiated it as reigning sovereign. He could not well do
otherwise. To give up the control of these two counties would be to cut
his promising continental empire into two widely separated portions.
Geoffrey attempted to appeal to arms in the three castles which had been
given him earlier, but was quickly forced to submit. All this year and
until April of the next, 1157, Henry remained abroad, and before his
return to England he was able to offer his brother a compensation for his
disappointment which had the advantage of strengthening his own position.
The overlordship of the county of Britanny had, as we know, been claimed
by the dukes of Normandy, and the claim had sometimes been allowed. To
Henry the successful assertion of this right would be of great value as
filling out his occupation of western France. Just at this time Britanny
had been thrown into disorder and civil strife by a disputed succession,
and the town of Nantes, which commanded the lower course of the Loire, so
important a river to Henry, refused to accept either of the candidates.
With the aid of his brother, Geoffrey succeeded in planting himself there
as Count of Nantes, in a position which promised to open for the house of
Anjou the way into Britanny.

The greater part of the time of his stay abroad Henry spent in passing
about from one point to another in his various provinces, after the usual
custom of the medieval sovereign. In Eleanor's lands he could exert much
less direct authority than in England or Normandy; the feudal baron of
the south was more independent of his lord; but the opposition which was
later to be so disastrous had not yet developed, and the year went by
with nothing to record. Soon after his coming to Normandy he had an
interview with Louis VII who then accepted his homage both for his
father's and his wife's inheritance. If Louis had at one time intended to
dispute the right of Eleanor to marry without his consent, he could not
afford to continue that policy, so strong was Henry now. It was the part
of wisdom to accept what could not be prevented, to arrange some way of
living in peace with his rival, and to wait the chances of the future.

It is in connexion with this expedition to Normandy that there first
appears in the reign of Henry II the financial levy known as "scutage"--a
form of taxation destined to have a great influence on the financial and
military history of England, and perhaps even a greater on its
constitutional history. The invention of this tax was formerly attributed
to the statesmanship of the young king, but we now know that it goes back
at least to the time of his grandfather. The term "scutage" may be
roughly translated "shield money," and, as the word implies, it was a tax
assessed on the knight's fee, and was in theory a money payment accepted
or exacted by the king in place of the military service due him under the
feudal arrangements. The suggestion of such a commutation no doubt arose
in connexion with the Church baronies, whose holders would find many
reasons against personal service in the field, especially in the
prohibition of the canon law, and who in most cases preferred not to
enfeoff on their lands knights enough to meet their military obligations
to the king. In such cases, when called on for the service, they would be
obliged to hire the required number of knights, and the suggestion that
they should pay the necessary sum to the king and let him find the
soldiers would be a natural one and probably agreeable to both sides. The
scutage of the present year does not seem to have gone beyond this
practice. It was confined to Church lands, and the wider application of
the principle, which is what we may attribute to Henry II or to some
minister of his, was not attempted.

Returning to England in April, 1157, Henry took up again the work which
had been interrupted by the demands of his brother Geoffrey. He was ready
now to fly at higher game. Stephen's son William, whose great possessions
in England and Normandy his father had tried so carefully to secure in
the treaty which surrendered his rights to the crown, was compelled to
give up his castles, and Hugh Bigod was no longer spared but was forced
to do the same. David of Scotland had died before the death of Stephen,
and his kingdom had fallen to his grandson Malcolm IV. The new king had
too many troubles at home to make it wise for him to try to defend the
gains which his grandfather had won from England, and before the close of
this year he met Henry at Chester and gave up his claim on the northern
counties, received the earldom of Huntingdon, and did homage to his
cousin, but for what, whether for his earldom or his kingdom, was not
clearly stated. Wales Stephen had practically abandoned, but Henry had no
mind to do this, and a campaign during the summer in which there was some
sharp fighting forced Owen, the prince of North Wales, to become his man,
restored the defensive works of the district, and protected the Marcher
lords in their occupation. The Christmas court was held at Lincoln; but
warned perhaps by the recent ill luck of Stephen in defying the local
superstition, Henry did not attempt to wear his crown in the city. Crown
wearing and ceremony in general were distasteful to him, and at the next
Easter festival at Worcester, together with the queen, he formally
renounced the practice.

Half of the year 1158 Henry spent in England, but the work which lay
before him at his accession was now done. Much work of importance and
many events of interest concern the island kingdom in the later years of
the reign, but these arise from new occasions and belong to a new age.
The age of Stephen was at an end, the Norman absolutism was once more
established, and the influence of the time of anarchy and weakness was
felt no longer. It was probably the death of his brother and the question
of the occupation of Nantes that led Henry to cross to Normandy in
August. He went first of all, however, to meet the king of France near
Gisors. There it was agreed that Henry's son Henry, now by the death of
his eldest brother recognized as heir to the throne, should marry Louis's
daughter Margaret. The children were still both infants, but the
arrangement was made less for their sakes than for peace between their
fathers and for substantial advantages which Henry hoped to gain. First
he desired Louis's permission to take possession of Nantes, and later, on
the actual marriage of the children, was to come the restoration of the
Norman Vexin which Henry's father had been obliged to give up to France
in the troubles of his time. Protected in this way from the only
opposition which he had to fear, Henry had no difficulty in forcing his
way into Nantes and in compelling the count of Britanny to recognize his
possession. This diplomatic success had been prepared, possibly secured,
by a brilliant embassy undertaken shortly before by Henry's chancellor
Thomas Becket. One of the biographers of the future saint, one indeed who
dwells less upon his spiritual life and miracles than on his external
history, rejoices in the details of this magnificent journey, the
gorgeous display, the lavish expenditure, the royal generosity, which
seem intended to impress the French court with the wealth of England and
the greatness of his master, but which lead us to suspect the chancellor
of a natural delight in the splendours of the world.

With his feet firmly planted in Britanny, in a position where he could
easily take advantage of any future turn of events to extend his power,
Henry next turned his attention to the south where an even greater
opportunity seemed to offer. The great county of Toulouse stretched from
the south-eastern borders of Eleanor's lands towards the Mediterranean
and the Rhone over a large part of that quarter of France. A claim of
some sort to this county, the exact nature of which we cannot now decide
from the scanty and inconsistent accounts of the case which remain to us,
had come down to Eleanor from the last two dukes of Aquitaine, her father
and grandfather. The claim had at any rate seemed good enough to Louis
VII while he was still the husband of the heiress to be pushed, but he
had not succeeded in establishing it. The rights of Eleanor were now in
the hands of Henry and, after consulting with his barons, he determined
to enforce them in a military campaign in the summer of 1159.

By the end of June the attacking forces were gathering in the south. The
young king of Scotland was there as the vassal of the king of England and
was knighted by his lord. Allies were secured of the lords to the east
and south, especially the assistance of Raymond Berenger who was Count of
Barcelona and husband of the queen of Aragon, and who had extensive
claims and interests in the valley of the Rhone. His daughter was to be
married to Henry's son Richard, who had been born a few months before.
Negotiations and interviews with the king of France led to no result, and
at the last moment Louis threw himself into Toulouse and prepared to
stand a siege with the Count, Raymond V, whose rights he now looked at
from an entirely different point of view. This act of the king led to a
result which he probably did not anticipate. Apparently the feudal spirit
of Henry could not reconcile itself to a direct attack on the person of
his suzerain. He withdrew from the siege, and the expedition resulted
only in the occupation of some of the minor towns of the county. Here
Thomas the chancellor appears again in his worldly character. He had led
to the war a body of knights said to have been 700 in number, the finest
and best-equipped contingent in the field. Henry's chivalry in refusing
to fight his suzerain seemed to him the height of folly, and he protested
loudly against it. This chivalry indeed did not prevent the vassal from
attacking some of his lord's castles in the north, but no important
results were gained, and peace was soon made between them.

Far more important in permanent consequences than the campaign itself
were the means which the king took to raise the money to pay for it. It
was at this time, so far as our present evidence goes and unless a
precedent had been made in a small way in a scutage of 1157 for the
campaign in Wales, that the principle of scutage was extended from
ecclesiastical to lay tenants in chief. Robert of Torigny, Abbot of
Mont-Saint-Michel, tells us that Henry, having regard to the length and
difficulty of the way, and not wishing to vex the country knights and the
mass of burgesses and rustics, took from each knight's fee in Normandy
sixty shillings Angevin (fifteen English), and from all other persons in
Normandy and in England and in all his other lands what he thought best,
and led into the field with him the chief barons with a few of their men
and a great number of paid knights.

Our knowledge of the treasury accounts of this period is not sufficient
to enable us to explain every detail of this taxation, but it is
sufficient to enable us to say that the statement of the abbot is in
general accurate. The tax on the English knight's fee was heavier than
that on the Norman; payment does not seem to have been actually required
from all persons outside the strict feudal bond, nor within it for that
matter; and the exact relationship between payment and service in the
field we cannot determine. Two things, however, of interest in the
history of taxation in relation both to earlier and later times seem
clear. In the first place a new form of land-tax had been discovered of
special application to the feudal community, capable of transforming a
limited and somewhat uncertain personal service into a far more
satisfactory money payment, capable also of considerable extension and,
in the hands of an absolute king, of an arbitrary development which
apparently some forms of feudal finance had already undergone. This was
something new,--that is, it was as new as anything ever is in
constitutional history. It was the application of an old process to a new
use. In the second place large sums of money were raised, in a purely
arbitrary way, it would seem, both as to persons paying and sums paid,
from members of the non-feudal community and also from some tenants in
chief who at the same time paid scutage. These payments appear to have
rested on the feudal principle of the gracious or voluntary aid and to
have been called "dona," though the people of that time were in general
more accurate in the distinctions they made between things than in the
use of the terms applied to them. There was nothing new about this form
of taxation. Glimpses which we get here and there of feudalism in
operation lead us to suspect that, in small matters and with much
irregularity of application to persons, it was in not infrequent use.
These particular payments, pressing as they did heavily on the Church and
exciting its vigorous objection, carry us back with some interest to the
beginning of troubles between Anselm and the Red King over a point of the
same kind.

In theory and in strict law these "gifts" were voluntary, both as to
whether they should be made at all and as to their amount, but under a
sovereign so strong as Henry II or William Rufus, the king must be
satisfied. Church writers complained, with much if not entire justice,
that this tax was "contrary to ancient custom and due liberty," and they
accused Thomas the chancellor of suggesting it. As a matter of fact this
tax was less important in the history of taxation than the extension of
the principle of scutage which accompanied it. The contribution which it
made to the future was not so much in the form of the tax as in the
precedent of arbitrary taxation, established in an important instance of
taxation at the will of the king. This precedent carried over and applied
to scutage in its new form becomes in the reign of Henry's son one of the
chief causes of revolutionary changes, and thus constitutes "the scutage
of Toulouse" of 1159, if we include under that term the double taxation
of the year, one of the great steps forward of the reign of Henry.

At the close of the Toulouse campaign an incident of some interest
occurred in the death of Stephen's son William and the ending of the male
line of Stephen's succession. His Norman county of Mortain was at once
taken in hand by Henry as an escheated fief, and was not filled again
until it was given years afterwards to his youngest son. To Boulogne
Henry had no right, but he could not afford to allow his influence in the
county to decline, though the danger of its passing under the influence
of Louis VII was slight. Stephen's only living descendant was his
daughter Mary, now Abbess of Romsey. The pope consented to her marriage
to a son of the Count of Flanders, and Boulogne remained in the circle of
influence in which it had been fixed by Henry I. The wide personal
possessions of William in England were apparently added to the royal
domain which had already increased so greatly since the death of Stephen.

A year later the other branch of Stephen's family came into a new
relationship to the politics of France and England. At the beginning of
October, 1160, Louis's second wife died, leaving him still without a male
heir. Without waiting till the end of any period of mourning, within a
fortnight, he married the daughter of Stephen's brother, Theobald of
Blois, sister of the counts Henry of Champagne and Theobald of Blois, who
were already betrothed to the two daughters of his marriage with Eleanor.
This opened for the house of Blois a new prospect of influence and gain,
and for the king of England of trouble which was in part fulfilled. Henry
saw the probable results, and at once responded with an effort to improve
his frontier defences. The marriage of the young Henry and Margaret of
France was immediately celebrated, though the elder of the two was still
a mere infant. This marriage gave Henry the right to take possession of
the Norman Vexin and its strong castles, and this he did. The war which
threatened for a moment did not break out, but there was much fortifying
of castles on both sides of the frontier.

It is said that the suggestion of this defensive move came from Thomas
Becket. However this may be, Thomas was now near the end of his career of
service to the state as chancellor, and was about to enter a field which
promised even greater usefulness and wider possibilities of service.
Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury died on April 18, 1161. For some months
the king gave no sign of his intentions as to his successor. Then he
declared his purpose. Thomas, the chancellor, was about to cross to
England to carry out another plan of Henry's. The barons were to be asked
to swear fealty to the young Henry as the direct heir to the crown. Born
in February, 1155, Henry was in his eighth year when this ceremony was
performed. Some little time before he had been committed by his father to
the chancellor to be trained in his courtly and brilliant household, and
there he became deeply attached to his father's future enemy. The
swearing of fealty to the heir, to which the barons were now accustomed,
was performed without objection, Thomas himself setting the example by
first taking the oath.

This was his last service of importance as chancellor. Before his
departure from Normandy on this errand, the king announced to him his
intention to promote him to the vacant primacy. The appointment would be
a very natural one. Archbishop Theobald is said to have hoped and prayed
that Thomas might succeed him, and the abilities which the chancellor had
abundantly displayed would account for a general expectation of such a
step, but Thomas himself hesitated. We are dependent for our knowledge of
the details of what happened at this time on the accounts of Thomas's
friends and admirers, but there is no reason to doubt their substantial
accuracy. It is clear that there were better grounds in fact for the
hesitation of Thomas than for the insistence of Henry, but they were
apparently concealed from the king. His mother is said to have tried to
dissuade him, and the able Bishop of Hereford, Gilbert Foliot, records
his own opposition. But the complete devotion to the king's will and the
zealous services of Thomas as chancellor might well make Henry believe,
if not that he would be entirely subservient to his policy when made
archbishop, at least that Church and State might be ruled by them
together in full harmony and co-operation, and the days of William and
Lanfranc be brought back. Becket read his own character better and knew
that the days of Henry I and Anselm were more likely to return, and that
not because he recognized in himself the narrowness of Anselm, but
because he knew his tendency to identify himself to the uttermost with
whatever cause he adopted.

Thomas had come to the chancellorship at the age of thirty-seven. He had
been a student, attached to the household of Archbishop Theobald, and he
must long have looked forward to promotion in the Church as the natural
field of his ambition, and in this he had just taken the first step in
his appointment to the rich archdeaconry of Canterbury by his patron. As
chancellor, however, he seems to have faced entirely about. He threw
himself into the elegant and luxurious life of the court with an
abandon and delight which, we are tempted to believe, reveal his
natural bent. The family of a wealthy burgher of London in the last part
of the reign of Henry I may easily have been a better school of manners
and taste than the court of Anjou. Certainly in refinement, and in the
order and elegance of his household as it is described, the chancellor
surpassed the king. Provided with an ample income both from benefices
which he held in the Church and from the perquisites of his office, he
indulged in a profusion of expenditure and display which the king
probably did not care for and certainly did not equal, and collected
about himself such a company of clerks and laymen as made his household a
better place for the training of the children of the nobles than the
king's. In the king's service he spent his money with as lavish a hand as
for himself, in his embassy to the French court or in the war against
Toulouse. He had the skill to avoid the envy of either king or courtier,
and no scandal or hint of vice was breathed against him. The way to the
highest which one could hope for in the service of the state seemed open
before him, and he felt himself peculiarly adapted to enjoy and render
useful such a career. One cannot help speculating on the interesting but
hopeless problem of what the result would have been if Becket had
remained in the line of secular promotion and the primacy had gone to the
next most likely candidate, Gilbert Foliot, whose type of mind would have
led him to sympathize more naturally with the king's views and purposes
in the questions that were so soon to arise between Church and State in

The election of Becket to the see of Canterbury seems to have followed
closely the forms which had come into use since the compromise between
Henry I and Anselm, and which were soon after described in the
Constitutions of Clarendon. The justiciar, Richard de Lucy, with three
bishops went down to Canterbury and made known the will of the king and
summoned the monks to an election. Some opposition showed itself among
them, apparently because of the candidate's worldly life and the fact
that he was not a monk, but they gave way to the clearly expressed will
of the king. The prior and a deputation of the monks went up to London;
and there the formal election took place "with the counsel of" the
bishops summoned for the purpose, and was at once confirmed by the young
prince acting for his father. At the same time Henry, Bishop of
Winchester, made a formal demand of those who were representing the king
that the archbishop should be released from all liability for the way in
which he had handled the royal revenues as chancellor and treasurer, and
this was agreed to. On the next Sunday but one, June 3, 1162, Thomas was
consecrated Archbishop at Canterbury by the Bishop of Winchester, as the
see of London was vacant. As his first official act the new prelate
ordained that the feast in honour of the Trinity should be henceforth
kept on the anniversary of his consecration.

[45] See the review of the whole controversy in Thatcher,
Studies Concerning Adrian IV (1903).



Thomas Becket, who thus became the head of the English Church, was
probably in his forty-fourth year, for he seems to have been born on
December 21, 1118. All his past had been a training in one way or another
for the work which he was now to do. He had had an experience of many
sides of life. During his early boyhood, in his father's house in London,
he had shared the life of the prosperous burgher class; he had been a
student abroad, and though he was never a scholar, he knew something of
the learned world from within; he had been taken into the household of
Archbishop Theobald, and there he had been trained, with a little circle
of young men of promise of his own age, in the strict ideas of the
Church; he had been employed on various diplomatic missions, and had
accomplished what had been intrusted to him, we are told, with skill and
success; last of all, he had been given a high office in the state, and
had learned to know by experience and observation the life of the court,
its methods of doing or preventing business, and all its strength and

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket became almost the independent
sovereign of a state within the state. Lanfranc had held no such place,
nor had Anselm. No earlier archbishop indeed had found himself at his
consecration so free from control and so strong. The organization apart
from the state, the ideal liberty of the Church, to which Anselm had
looked forward somewhat vaguely, had been in some degree realized since
his time. The death of Henry I had removed the restraining hand which had
held the Church within its old bounds. For a generation afterwards it was
free--free as compared with any earlier period--to put into practice its
theories and aspirations, and the new Archbishop of Canterbury inherited
the results still unquestioned and undiminished. Henry II had come to the
throne young and with much preliminary work to be done. Gradually, it
would seem, the reforms necessary to recover the full royal power, and to
put into most effective form the organization of the state, were taking
shape in his mind. It is possible, it is perhaps more than possible, that
he expected to have from his friend Thomas as archbishop sympathy and
assistance in these plans, or at least that he would be able to carry
them out with no opposition from the Church. This looks to us now like a
bad reading of character. At any rate no hope was ever more completely
disappointed. In character, will, and ideals, at least as these appear
from this time onward, sovereign and primate furnished all the conditions
of a most bitter conflict. But to understand this conflict it is also
necessary to remember the strength of Becket's position, the fact that he
was the ruler of an almost independent state.

What was the true and natural character of Thomas Becket, what were
really the ideals on which he would have chosen to form his life if he
had been entirely free to shape it as he would, is a puzzle which this is
not the place to try to solve. Nor can we discuss here the critical
questions, still unsettled, which the sources of our knowledge present.
Fortunately no question affects seriously the train of events, and, in
regard to the character of the archbishop, we may say with some
confidence that, whatever he might have chosen for himself, he threw
himself with all the ardour of a great nature into whatever work he was
called upon to do. As chancellor, Thomas's household had been a centre of
luxurious court life. As archbishop his household was not less lavishly
supplied, nor less attractive; but its elegance was of a more sober cast,
and for himself Thomas became an ascetic, as he had been a courtier, and
practised in secret, according to his biographers, the austerities and
good works which became the future saint.

Six months after the consecration of the new archbishop, King Henry
crossed from Normandy to England, at the end of January, 1163, but before
he did so word had come to him from Becket which was like a declaration
of principles. Henry had hoped to have him at the same time primate of
the Church and his own chancellor. Not merely would this add a
distinction to his court, but we may believe that the king would regard
it as a part of the co-operation between Church and State in the reforms
he had in mind. To Thomas the retention of his old office would probably
mean a pledge not to oppose the royal will in the plans which he no doubt
foresaw. It would also interfere seriously with the new manner of life
which he proposed for himself, and he firmly declined to continue in the
old office. In other ways, unimportant as yet, the policy of the primate
as it developed was coming into collision with the king's interests, in
his determined pushing of the rights of his Church to every piece of land
to which it could lay any claim, in some cases directly against the king,
and in his refusal to allow clerks in the service of the State to hold
preferments in the Church, of which he had himself been guilty; but all
these things were still rather signs of what might be expected than
important in themselves. There was for several months no breach between
the king and the archbishop.

For some time after his return to England Henry was occupied, as he had
been of late on the continent, with minor details of government of no
permanent importance. The treaty of alliance with Count Dietrich of
Flanders was renewed. Gilbert Foliot was translated to the important
bishopric of London. A campaign in South Wales brought the prince of that
country to terms, and was followed by homage from him and other Welsh
princes rendered at a great council held at Woodstock during the first
week of July, 1163. It was at this meeting that the king first met with
open and decided opposition from the archbishop, though this was still in
regard to a special point and not to a general line of policy. The
revenue of the state which had been left by the last reign in a
disordered condition was still the subject of much concern and careful
planning. Recently, as our evidence leads us to believe, the king had
given up the Danegeld as a tax which had declined in value until it was
no longer worth collecting. At Woodstock he made a proposition to the
council for an increase in the revenue without an increase in the
taxation. It was that the so-called "sheriffs aid," a tax said to be of
two shillings on the hide paid to the sheriffs by their counties as a
compensation for their services, should be for the future paid into the
royal treasury for the use of the crown. That this demand was in the
direction of advance and reform can hardly be questioned, especially if,
as is at least possible, it was based on the declining importance of the
sheriffs as purely local officers, and their increasing responsibilities
as royal officers on account of the growing importance of the king's
courts and particularly of the itinerant justice courts. So decided a
change, however, in the traditional way of doing business could only be
made with consent asked and obtained. There is no evidence that
opposition came from any one except Becket. He flatly refused to consent
to any such change, as he had a right to do so far as his own lands were
concerned, and declared that this tax should never be paid from them to
the public treasury. The motive of his opposition does not appear and is
not easy to guess. He stood on the historical purpose of the tax and
refused to consider any other use to which it might be put. Henry was
angry, but apparently he had to give up his plan. At any rate
unmistakable notice had been served on him that his plans for reform were
likely to meet with the obstinate opposition of his former chancellor.

This first quarrel was the immediate prelude to another concerning a far
more important matter and of far more lasting consequences.
Administration and jurisdiction, revenue and justice, were so closely
connected in the medieval state that any attempt to increase the revenue,
or to improve and centralize the administrative machinery, raised at once
the question of changes in the judicial system. But Henry II was not
interested in getting a larger income merely, or a closer centralization.
His whole reign goes to show that he had a high conception of the duty of
the king to make justice prevail and to repress disorder and crime. But
this was a duty which he could not begin to carry out without at once
encountering the recognized rights and still wider claims of the Church.
Starting from the words of the apostle against going to law before
unbelievers, growing at first as a process of voluntary arbitration
within the Church, adding a criminal side with the growth of disciplinary
powers over clergy and members, and greatly stimulated and widened by the
legislation of the early Christian emperors, a body of law and a
judicial organization had been developed by the Church which rivalled
that of the State in its own field and surpassed it in scientific form
and content. In the hundred years since William the Conqueror landed in
England this system had been greatly perfected. The revival of the Roman
law in the schools of Italy had furnished both model and material, but
more important still the triumph of the Cluniac reformation, of the ideas
of centralization and empire, had given an immense stimulus to this
growth, and led to clearer conceptions than ever before of what to do and
how to do it. When the state tardily awoke to the same consciousness of
opportunity and method, it found a large part of what should have been
its own work in the hands of a rival power.

In no state in Christendom had the line between these conflicting
jurisdictions been clearly drawn. In England no attempt had as yet been
made to draw it; the only legislation had been in the other direction.
The edict of William I, separating the ecclesiastical courts from the
temporal, and giving them exclusive jurisdiction in spiritual causes,
must be regarded as a beneficial regulation as things then were. The same
thing can hardly be said of the clause in Stephen's charter to the Church
by which he granted it jurisdiction over all the clergy; yet under this
clause the Church had in fifteen years drawn into its hands, as nearly as
we can judge, more business that should naturally belong to the state
than in the three preceding reigns. This rapid attainment of what Anselm
could only have wished for, this enlarged jurisdiction of the Church,
stood directly in the way of the plans of the young king as he took up
the work of restoring the government of his grandfather. He had found out
this fact before the death of Archbishop Theobald and had taken some
steps to bring the question to an issue at that time, but he had been
obliged to cross to France and had not since been able to go on with the
matter. Now the refusal of Archbishop Thomas to grant his request about
the sheriff's aid probably did not make him any less ready to push what
he believed to be the clear rights of the state against the usurpations
of the clergy.

As the state assumed more and more the condition of settled order under
the new king, and the courts were able to enforce the laws everywhere,
the failures of justice which resulted from the separate position of the
clergy attracted more attention. The king was told that there had been
during his reign more than a hundred murders by clerks and great numbers
of other crimes, for none of which had it been possible to inflict the
ordinary penalties. Special cases began to be brought to his attention.
The most important of these was the case of Philip of Broi, a man of some
family and a canon of Bedford, who, accused of the murder of a knight,
had cleared himself by oath in the bishop's court. Afterwards the king's
justice in Bedford summoned him to appear in his court and answer to the
same charge, but he refused with insulting language which the justice at
once repeated to the king as a contempt of the royal authority. Henry was
very angry and swore "by the eyes of God," his favourite oath, that an
insult to his minister was an insult to himself and that the canon must
answer for it in his court. "Not so," said the archbishop, "for laymen
cannot be judges of the clergy. If the king complains of any injury, let
him come or send to Canterbury, and there he shall have full justice by
ecclesiastical authority." This declaration of the archbishop was the
extreme claim of the Church in its simplest form. Even the king could not
obtain justice for a personal injury in his own courts, and the strength
of Becket's position is shown by the fact that, in spite of all his
anger, Henry was obliged to submit. He could not, even then, get the case
of the murder reopened, and in the matter of the insult to his judge the
penalties which he obtained must have seemed to him very inadequate.

It seems altogether probable that this case had much to do with bringing
Henry to a determination to settle the question, what law and what
sovereign should rule in England. So long as such things were possible,
there could be no effective centralization and no supremacy of the
national law. Within three months of the failure of his plan of taxation
in the council at Woodstock the king made a formal demand of the Church
to recognize the right of the State to punish criminous clerks. The
bishops were summoned to a conference at Westminster on October 1. To
them the king proposed an arrangement, essentially the same as that
afterwards included in the Constitutions of Clarendon, by which the
question of guilt or innocence should be determined by the Church court,
but once pronounced guilty the clerk should be degraded by the Church and


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