« ForrigeFortsæt »
the second, advanced to the imperial crown by pope Innocent, was prevailed upon by that court, by an imperial constitution, to revoke all laws prejudicial to the liberties of the church, and to exempt the clergy from the authority of the civil courts 4. And lest charity and the late more modest pretensions of the bishops of Rome should lead posterity into a belief that the temporal monarchy of the bishops of Rome was not at the bottom of the aforesaid affair, but that the submission of king John was the effect of an unhappy turn of things, or owing to the rashness or despair of a sunk and dispirited prince; pope Innocent has set this matter in a true light, and in two epistles, the one to Stephen archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops and clergy of England, the other to the archbishop alone , has told the world that the agreement, of which the resigning his kingdoms and receiving them as a fee of the papacy and the oath of vassalage were a part, “was projected and with great deliberation formed at Rome.”— But having said this to offer to the reader's view the spring by which pope Innocent moved in the long controversy with king John, it will be needful to return, and to observe the consequence of this surprising story.
The French king having now no more use for his fleet or army, the better to cover the disgrace which he had received, and take his revenge on the earl of Flanders, who had opposed his intended expedition to England, sent his fleet with some forces by sea, whilst the rest marched by land to invade Flanders. And this gave the king of England an opportunity to satiate his revenge on that prince; for the fleet of the king finding the French fleet in the harbour of Dam, the forces being landed cut their cables, and carried off all that were on float, and burnt those which lay upon the strand; in all about three hundred. By that one blow the king delivered himself from the fears of the invasion he had been threatened with; and as his spirit was naturally light, and exalted with every success, this made him move so heavily in the execution of his late agreement, that it was the middle of July (1213) before the exiled bishops and clergy returned to England. Not long after, they attended the king at Winchester, where the archbishop, somewhat more forward than pope Innocent intended a, absolved the king from the personal excommunication he lay under, leaving the interdict in the state it was before.
* Constit. Fred. (Corp. Jur. Civil. vol. ii. col. 561.] b Innoc. Epist. lxxx. p. 787.
c Ibid. d Ibid. Epist. clxiv. p. 827.
Whilst this assembly continued at Winchester, the king appointed his bailiffs and officers to make a general inquiry into the losses sustained by the clergy and religious during the late controversy, and appointed the bishops, the religious, and nobility to consider that affair; in order whereto they met first at St. Alban's in August, and afterwards at St. Paul's in London. And as the accounts of the losses sustained were brought into these assemblies, so these meetings discovered the general dislike and uneasiness which the late conduct of the king had given to the nation. And the nobility and bishops here concerted measures for their future conduct; in order whereto, the great charter of Henry the first was brought into debate, and resolutions taken to have that charter and the laws of Edward the Confessor confirmed, and made the great standard of right and law.
However privately these matters were concerted, it was not long before the king was made sensible of the general discontent and uneasiness of his people ; for that prince having obtained the aforesaid advantage over the French, pleased himself with the thoughts of recovering what they had gained from him in Normandy, and carrying home his revenge ; and in order thereto had determined on an expedition to Poictiers in France ; but the barons who had been summoned for that end, under the pretence that the interdict was not released, generally refused to attend the king; and when he would have punished their disobedience according to law, the archbishop of Canterbury, who knew the true secret of this affair, interposed with so much vigour as deterred the officers of the king.
This was so open a contempt of his authority as plainly showed the king that he was still a great way from the settlement and peace which he promised himself from his late agreement. And though the king was thus ill-used by his barons, yet it is so natural for men to be jealous of their liberties in the hands of a prince, who had made himself a vassal, and so reasonable to fear that he would not be just to their rights, who had betrayed and given away his own, that as the conduct of the barons is blameable, the provocation is not capable of an excuse.
Revolutions and great turns of states and kingdoms, as they commonly proceed from fierce and impetuous passions, very often partake of the nature of those passions from whence they proceed, and move with a force and rapidity that sometimes carry them farther than ever was designed by those who first projected
them; and sometimes by an unhappy crossness in the nature of things or men, or by the overruling hand of Providence, take a turn quite the wrong way, and bear down the interest which they were intended to support and gratify. This was in some measure the fate of the late revolution : it changed men, and shifted sides and characters; and as it brought the king and his adherents into the interests of the court they had before opposed, so on the other hand it took off the affections, and cooled the zeal, and changed the measures of those whose bigotry had before carried them too far to serve the papacy. And yet, after all, the king, the barons, and the clergy were all uneasy, and as well they who laboured to lessen the royal dignity, as they who strove to maintain it, with an equal dread beheld the consequences of the late agreement.—But as pope Innocent, who had yet no time to be informed that the affairs of England had taken a turn too much, continued under the transports his late success had given him, so he thought of nothing less than putting the last hand to the work which he had thus successfully begun.
He easily foresaw that the late resignation of king John would be resolved into force or fear, and if a voluntary, yet at most it would be esteemed but a personal act'; and he understood government too well to believe it any way in the power of a prince to change the course of law to enslave his people ; for this was to assume an authority which the very nature of the royal trust and the great ends of government had precluded; and to pretend to create a right which the same law, by which the claimant held, had put out of his power. Therefore that prelate applied his thoughts to gain the consent of the nation, and in order thereto, under the pretence of giving the king time to satisfy those who had suffered under the interdict, and releasing it with the greater solemnity, he continued the interdict for more than a year after his agreement with king John. But to make a show of his readiness to release it, and lay the delay somewhere else, pope Innocent sent over Nicholas bishop of Tusculum with the character of legate, who arrived in England the latter end of September (1213); and the great council being called, met at St. Paul's in London in the beginning of October, and a new charter of resignation being drawn, was sealed by the king in the presence of the bishops and nobility; and to consecrate so impudent an imposture, the charter thus executed was offered
1 A personal act.] See above, p. 22.
upon the altar; and this execrable sacrifice to the ambition of the church of Rome was called an offering to God, and ascribed to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Eustace bishop of Ely, and Hugh bishop of Lincoln, together with several of the nobility, subscribed as witnesses to this second charter.
The resignation being thus renewed, and the charter delivered to the legate, the king received his kingdoms back again from the hands of the legate ; and in order thereto did the second time, and in the presence of this great assembly, do his homage, and swear fealty to the church of Rome and to pope Innocent and to his lawful successors : for thus the charter and thus the oath of fealty ran, and not to the court of Rome as some men endeavour to distinguish. Whilst all this care was taken of the interest of the papacy, the interdict was still continued till June the year following:
Though the bishops and nobility were present at this solemnity, and some of them witnesses to the instruments which it produced, yet they were so far from being pleased with or consenting to them, that the archbishop of Canterbury, to do somewhat towards expiating the wrongs which he had before done to the monarchy, is said to have offered a protestation against the aforesaid charter of resignation a: and the turn of affairs which not long after ensued, would incline one to believe, that if any such protestation was made, it was agreeable to the sense of the whole English nation. However, the legate still flattered himself with the hopes of bringing the nation to consent to their own servitude, and, as has been said, continued the interdict on foot to the great prejudice of the king's affairs.
But pope Innocent and his court found themselves extremely mistaken in the whole conduct of this matter; for the true spirit and design of that court being laid open to the world by this attempt on the crown of England, it could be no longer a doubt but that it was the same spirit which animated pagan and christian Rome, and that subduing the world was the design of both. This forced
of those who before would not see, and gave
such a shock to the designs of the papacy, as must necessarily have dashed and broken them to pieces, if, for reasons best known to Himself, God had not thought fit to prevent it.—But
M. Par. ann. 1231. p. 371. n. 10.
the issue and consequence of this affair were such, as leave it evident, that the proceedings of that court in this particular shocked the whole English nation, and on a sudden gave a new turn to the unhappy controversy which first occasioned it.
For the same men who for six or seven years before had ventured their lives, at least their fortunes, to serve the interest of that court, did immediately after the resignation of the king shift sides, and fly in the face of the court which they had served before; and a general discontent covered the face of the nation. And the issue was answerable; for the king having of a free and independent prince thus made himself a vassal, his ill example taught his subjects to forget their duty, and a general defection ensued. Indeed it is so natural for men to form their judgments and govern their actions by what they see and feel, that it is next to impossible for princes to preserve their honour or their authority, when once they abandon the trust and duties which should support them; for duties which flow from the relations of men to each other do ever subsist, as relatives do, by being mutual.
The laws of England had provided for their kings as free and sovereign princes, and set out and stated the obedience which was due to them in that capacity ; but the term of a vassal or feudatory prince was something with which the law and constitution of England were not acquainted: and no provision could be made for the honour and authority of such a prince, as our constitution had no knowledge of: so that by giving away the title of a free and sovereign prince, and by taking to himself that of a vassal to the papacy, the king had done all that lay in him towards removing the very foundations upon which the allegiance of his subjects was built, and, by giving away his own rights, led his people to believe he was unfit to be trusted with theirs : and the issue was, this untoward scene produced another no less unhappy, the war betwixt the king and his barons.
But though the seeds of war were thus sown, yet before it broke out there were several other causes which met together, and which prepared the way for it, by uniting the discontents of the nation, and bringing the clergy to side with the barons against the king and the papacy. For the court of Rome having, as has been said, determined to make their title to the crown of England as firm as it was possible to make it, and in order thereto to have a second resignation in the presence and (if possible) with