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support, to France and Flanders for mercenary bands.

The spiritual sword was drawn at once by the pope,
who condemned the Charter as an ungrateful outrage
alike upon the king and upon the sovereign rights of the
1215 Holy See, annulled it, and forbade its observance under
penalty of excommunication. Soon, to wield the temporal
sword, bodies of mercenaries arrived from France and the
Low Countries under Savary De Mauleon, Walter Buck,
and other soldiers of fortune. Another horde, who were
coming under Hugh De Boves, a leader noted for ferocity,
with their wives and children, to take possession of the
land, were wrecked, and their bodies were cast, to the joy
of the people, on the coast. The king, now at the head of
the army, laid siege to Rochester. The barons, who lay in
London, made but a faint attempt to relieve the place, not
so much, probably, because, as the chroniclers fancy, they
were bewitched by the pleasures of the capital, as be-
cause they dared not with their insurrectionary levies



VI ■ JOHN 141

face better trained troops under experienced leaders in
the field. Even in that age, when all freemen were
more or less soldiers, raw levies could not stand against
discipline and professional skill. After a gallant defence
William D'Albini and his garrison surrendered ; and John 1216
would have hanged them all, but for the intercession of
Savary De Mauleon, whose trade was war, and who might
not wish that his trade should be made too dangerous.
The king now divided his forces into two bodies. One,
under Salisbury, watched London, and swept the rich
eastern counties ; the other, under the king himself,
marched through the midland and northern counties into
Scotland, the king of which, Alexander II., had taken
part with the barons, and had received the three northern
counties as the price of his aid. Wherever the mercenary
bands appeared, through part of England and the Low-
lands of Scotland, havoc was let loose ; castles, towns, and
hamlets were given to the flames ; the people, without
distinction of profession, age, or sex, were hunted down
and tortured for their ransom ; the devastation and
horrors of the anarchy in the reign of Stephen were. re-
newed. The barons held London, the strength of which
set the freebooters at defiance ; but they could make no
stand against the desolating torrent of invasion which
swept the open field. The pope meanwhile was holding 1215
a great council, at which he appeared in the glory of his
universal dominion over East and West, and the chief
object of which was to set forward a crusade, for which
he reckoned on the resources of his rich English fief.
He had already excommunicated the rebels generally ; he
now excommunicated by name the leading barons, the
citizens of London, and Master Gervase Hobrigge, a



142 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap

prominent ecclesiastic, the leader, it seems, of the patriot
party among the citizens. The city Avas laid under an
interdict ; but the interdict was disregarded and the ser-
vices were performed by the city clergy as before, proof
that the spiritual sword wielded for the objects of a tem-
poral policy was beginning to lose its edge in commercial
London as it did in commercial Venice. Stephen Lang-
ton, finding himself powerless to avert civil war, had left
the kingdom. John would have detained him. But
Pandulph solved the difficulty by suspending him for his
refusal to excommunicate the patriots. He presented
himself, nevertheless, at Rome among the other prelates
of Christendom ; but Innocent sat in judgment with the
cardinals upon the old friend and fellow-student who had
so grievously disappointed his hopes, confirmed the sen-
1215 tence of suspension, and detained the suspended arch-
bishop at Rome. He also set aside the election of Simon
Langton, the brother of Stephen, who had been elected to
the archbishopric of York, and forced the chapter to elect
in his room Walter De Grey, Bishop of Worcester, the
nepliew of the late Bishop of Norwich, who, having before
paid the king a heavy sum to be made chancellor, now
paid the pope a heavier to be made archbishop.

The barons in despair turned their eyes to France, as
at a later day British patriots, despairing of resistance to
the Stuart tyrant and his troops, turned their eyes to
Holland. Philip Augustus had not failed to mark the
opening presented to his ambition by the course of affairs
in England. His movements from the first had given
ground for uneasiness to John, at whose prayer the pope
had solemnly warned Philip against abetting the rebel
cause. Philip, taught by bitter experience, cowered



VI JOHN 143

before the papal wrath. But when the barons offered
the crown of England to his son Louis, who was married
to Blanche of Castile, a granddaughter of Henry II., he
permitted the prince to grasp the prize. With a large
army Louis landed at Sandwich, entered London amidst
the jubilations of the rescued city, and, being led in pro-
cession to St. Paul's, received homage and took the cove-
nants usually taken by kings on their accession. Simon
Langton, brother of the archbishop, was made chancellor,
and preached on the occasion. In his manifesto Louis
denounced John as incapable of reigning, because he had
been attainted of felony for the murder of Arthur in the
court of his French peers, an argument which could
apply only to the French fiefs. He set up the hereditary
claim of his wife Blanche, who, even supposing John and
John's son to be set aside, was far removed from the next
place in the succession. His claim really rested, like that
of Dutch William at a later day, on his election by the
nation in place of a deposed tyrant. Innocent, in argu-
ing the case, allowed it to appear that in his eyes anointed
kings were above the law of murder and might by virtue
of their office take life, as John had taken the life of
Arthur, without a trial. The tide ran rapidly in favour
of the French prince. County after county came over
to him. The king of Scots and the princes of Wales
acknowledged him. John was deserted even by some of
his foreign soldiers and by his bastard brother and stout
partisan, Salisbury.

John had still some strong castles in his hands and some
soldiers of mark, among others the redoubtable Fawkes de
Breaute, a Norman adventurer, on his side. He was still
energetically protected by his suzerain the pope, who, in



144 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap, vi

the person of his legate Gualo, was with the king, and
launched against Louis and all his partisans excommuni-
cations which the legate published on the spot. But at

1216 this time Innocent suddenly died, and his death seemed
to give the last blow to the royalist cause. The barons,
under the Earl of Nevers, besieged Windsor. Louis sat
down before Dover, where, though he had with him his
father's famous engine called " Malvoisin," he was kept
out of range by the stout-hearted and staunchly royalist
governor Hubert De Burgh, and was at last compelled to
turn the siege into a blockade. John meanwhile moved
about ravaging the estates of his enemies. An attempt
was made to surprise him at Cambridge by a forced
march, but he escaped. He was, however, pushed north-
ward. Soon afterwards he lost his waggon and sumpter
train with his treasure and regalia in the Wash. The

1216 same night, of chagrin, of surfeit, or of poison, he died in
the castle of Newark. His mercenaries, who seem to have
remained faithful to their dead master, escorted his corpse
across the country to the church of Worcester, where,
according to his own last wish, it was buried. Fontevraud,
the burial-place of his house, belonged to his house no
more.



CHAPTER VII

HENRY III
Born 1207; Succeeded 1216; Died 1272

\T7E are coming to the birth of parliament. Its natal
hour is the zenith of the catholic middle age.
In spite of ecclesiastical corruption and disorder, religious
faith is still strong. Its symbols, cathedrals and churches,
rise, full of the poetry of religion, and not less transcen-
dent as works of art than Greek sculpture, the Homeric
poems, or the drama of Shakespeare. They rise above
cities of houses little better than hovels, as the aspira-
tions of the saints soar above the things of earth. Men
are still leaving all they have, the castle hall, the lady's
bower, the joys of the chase, to die on Syrian battle-
fields for the Holy Sepulchre. Of genuine chivalry,
which had in it a religious element, this is the hour.
If on the papal throne sits grasping ambition, if the
Roman Curia is venal, if in the palaces of bishops are
often found worldliness, sycophancy, and corruption, if
the regular clergy often live in concubinage and are
gross, the fire of religious enthusiasm glows afresh
in the houses of the new mendicant orders, Dominican
and Franciscan ; the first destined to a dreadful fame as
the agent of persecution, but eloquent in preaching ; the
second presenting to the adoration of the people the
union of asceticism with evangelical ecstasy in Francis
VOL. I — 10 145



146 THE UNITED KINGDOM . chap.

of Assisi. Over the fiercest religion has power. Long-
sword, Earl of Salisbury, than whom no soldier was
fiercer, is comforted in peril at sea by the appearance of
a bright light and a beautiful woman, the Blessed Virgin,
above the mast. On the day which made him a belted
knight he had given a taper to the Mother of God.
On his death-bed he sends for the bishop, and when the
bishop enters bearing the body of the Lord, the dying
man fastens a cord round his own neck in token that he
is a felon before God, casts himself on the floor with
tears and sobs, and refuses to be raised till the sacrament
has restored him to divine allegiance. His body is carried
to the grave in a storm, but as the tapers burn on, all
are sure that the terrible earl is numbered with the
sons of light. The patriots of the Great Charter called
themselves the army of God and of Holy Church and
gave their movement the character of a crusade. Public
character felt the elevating influence of piety. The
counterparts of William Marshall and his compeers, or
of the patriots who are now coming on the scene, we
shall hardly see till we come to Sir John Eliot and the
Puritan leaders of the Long Parliament.

Commerce and maritime life have been awakening.
The crusades have stimulated them by opening inter-
course with the east. There is a brisk export trade in
Cistercian wool. London, Bristol, the Cinque Ports, are
active and thriving. The Hanseatic League is formed,
1250, and plants its factory in London, though the factory is
almost a fortress in the midst of a population jealous of
the strangers and their gains. Commercial intercourse
with the free cities of Italy and Germany brings the
trader into contact with political freedom. The Cinque



vn HENRY III 147

Ports, specially charged with the defence of the country
by sea, display their force and spirit in the political field.

The awakening of municipal life has likewise gone on.
From being clusters of dwellings, forming, like the cot-
tage or hamlet, part of the domain of the king or local
lord, and taxable at his will, the cities and towns are
growing into little commonwealths. Of this the chief
instrument continues to be the mercantile guild, with
its ties of mutual benevolence, its monopolies, apprentice-
ships, common festivals, patron saint and religious ser-
vices, of which the London companies, with their wealth
and their guild halls, are the sumptuous survivals. One
after another towns have been compounding for their
payments and slipping their necks out of the yoke of
their lord, whether king, baron, or abbot. London is
still at their head. Her liberties were an article in the
Great Charter. Her Mayor, Serlo, the mercer, had been
one of its conservators. Her wealth and her military
force make her a great power, and of course a democratic
power, in the state.

This is the age of universities. At Oxford is gathered,
under a guild of teachers, a swarm of youths thirsting
for the knowledge which they fancy is power, quick-
witted, inflammable, turbulent, drawn most of them from
the poorer classes, some probably from that of serfs,
democratic, therefore, and full of social and political,
as well as intellectual, unrest. Scholastic philosophy
sharpens their wits and gives them a habit of speculation
and of dealing with first principles which is not in the
political or social sphere, as it is in philosophy, shackled by
the dogmatic creed of the church. In the political poems,
which emanate probably from this quarter, we find the



148 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

principles of constitutional monarcliy laid down with
surprising clearness ; " Let the community of the realm
be consulted, and let us know the mind of the nation at
large, which best understands its own laws." "What
restraint does the law lay on kings? Restraint from
sullying themselves by departure from the law of right.
This limitation is not servitude ; it is the enhancement
of true majesty." Such words might have been uttered
by Eliot or Pym. The Franciscans, however, who had
set out by renouncing, like their angelic and child-like
founder, the wisdom as well as the pomp of the world,
presently began to see. that knowledge as well as riches
might be lawfully acquired and used for the advancement
of religion. They entered the universities, occupied the
chairs of the teachers, aspired to the control of the sys-
tem, and by their papal principles impaired academical
freedom. To counteract their influence, Walter De Mer-
ton founded his secular college, the first of the line.

The chronicler of the age, Matthew Paris, is a reformer
and a liberal. The thrilling vindication of the elective
system which he puts into the mouth of the archbishop
who crowned John is probably the expression of his own
sentiments ; " Hearken, all present here ! Know that no
man has any right to succeed to the kingdom unless he
be chosen of the whole realm, after invocation of the
Holy Spirit's grace, and unless he be manifestly thereunto
called by the pre-eminence of his character and con-
versation, after the pattern of Saul, the first anointed
king whom God set over His people, although he was
not of royal race, as after him He set David ; the first
being chosen for energy and fitness for the royal dig-
nity, the second for humility and holiness ; that so he



VII HENRY III 149

who surpassed other men in the realm in vigour should
also be preferred before them in authority and power.
But, indeed, if there be one of the dead king's race who
excelleth, that one should be the more promptly and will-
ingly chosen." Bracton, the law writer, at the end of
this reign, lays it down that the king must be subject to
God and the law ; for the law makes him king. He
puts above the king, not only God and the law by which
he is made king, but his court of earls and barons, who
are his associates and ought to bridle him if he is with-
out the bridle of the law. These medieval philosophers
seem to have grasped the principle that the aim should be
not mere liberty, but the submission of all to law. The
passage of Bracton is cited by Milton in his Defence of
the People of England for the deposition of Charles I.
Thus the two great groups of English Liberals stretch
out their hands across the ages to each other.

With the tyrant died hatred of the tyranny. Henry,
John's heir, was only nine years old. But the Earl of 1210
Pembroke set the boy upon his father's throne, had him
crowned with a plain circlet of gold, in lieu of the royal
crown, which was not within reach, and, to show that all
was changed, republished the Great Charter in his name.
The great political clauses regulating the calling of the
common council, and requiring its assent to taxation,
were provisionally omitted for reasons unassigned, perhaps
because they seemed to trench too much on the royal
authority, which was now in better hands ; but the spirit
of the clauses lived. The forest clauses were improved 1217
and thrown into a separate Charter of Forests, coupled
with the Great Charter itself, and hardly less prized
by the people. The heart of the nation turned from



150 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

the French pretender to the native heir. Louis, more-
over, was suspected of having formed sinister designs.
His English partisans fell away. His star waned ; he
was beaten in a battle which the victors in mockery

1217 called the Fair of Lincoln. A French fleet bringing him
reinforcements under the corsair Eustace the Monk was

1217 defeated and destroyed by a Cinque Ports fleet, far in-
ferior in number, under Hubert De Burgh, warden of
Dover Castle, whose bold and masterly tactics marked
him as a precursor of Blake and Nelson. Louis retired
from England, Pembroke's statesmanship making a golden

1217 bridge for his retreat. The treaty of Lambeth secured
to the patriot barons that for which they had fought, and
included a general amnesty. The good sense and moder-
ation of its framers put to shame the implacable and
blood-thirsty violence which in times more civilized has
disgraced the combatants in civil war.

There was a long minority. During the first part of

1216 it Pembroke was regent. His election by the barons
was the first instance of the creation of a regency by
the national council. At the regent's side was Gualo, the
legate of the pope, whose ward, by John's surrender,
the young king was. Of Innocent III. and his dom-
ination the world was rid. Gualo did well. Stephen
Langton also, restored to his archbishopric, upheld to
the end of his life the cause of order, freedom, and the
Charter. Power afterwards passed into the hands of
Hubert De Burgh, the victor of Dover, a stalwart and
patriotic man. The regency had to contend with an
evil element in the royalist party, the relic of John's
council of iniquity, notably with the captain of his
mercenaries, Fawkes De Breaute, who set himself above



VII HENKY III 151

the law and commenced a reign of violence. Stephen 1224
Langton helping with bell, book, and candle, the brigand
was crushed and driven from the realm. The siege of
his fortress with battering engines, sapping machines,
and movable towers, seems to show that the military
engineer had brought back lessons from the crusades,
that the attack was now gaining upon the defence, and
the strongholds of feudalism were losing their strength.
De Burgh appears to have been an honest minister, and
faithful to the crown ; but he was not one of the nobil-
ity, and partly perhaps on that account, incurred jeal-
ousy and became unpopular ; hatred of him taking the
usual form of charges of embezzlement, which, when the
accounts of government were not public, could always
be circulated and believed. He had an unscrupulous
rival in Peter Des Roches, Bishop of Winchester and
chief minister, a soldier turned churchman for prefer-
ment, and, as satire said, quick at accounts, slow at the
Gospel, and fonder of lucre than of Luke. While the
minority lasted, the council carried on the government, '
thus acquiring stability and importance approaching those
of the privy council, which in later times was, under the
king, the government of the realm. It has been re-
marked that the political conflict of this reign assumes
largely the character of an effort to put better coun-
sellors about the king, thus in some measure anticipating
the cabinet system.

The character of Henry III. as he grew up proved
not unlike that of Edward the Confessor, whom he
adored and had been disposed to imitate in false chas-
tity, though happily he thought better of it and left a
memorable son. He was well disposed, amiable, and



152 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

affectionate. His domestic life was pure and a good
example to his people. Physically he showed on the
battlefield that he was not wanting in courage. Morally
he was weak. His heart, it was said, was as easily
moulded as wax, and those who set themselves to mould
it were too likely to be evil. From weakness more than
from perfidy he was faithless. He was very superstitious,
devoted to the papacy, addicted to relics, and never so
much himself as when he was rapturously carrying in
procession the vial of the Holy Blood. The best part
of him was his taste for church art, which he showed
in rebuilding Westminster Abbey. While he was feeble,
he was fond of his prerogative, and" provoked the patri-
otic effort which developed the constitution.

Henry's first sin was in giving his waxen heart to be
moulded by the wily Poitevin, Peter Des Roches, and
not only discarding but ungratefully persecuting Hubert
De Burgh, on whom, when he was dragged from sanct-
uary by the king's soldiery, a patriot blacksmith is said
to have refused to fasten fetters. Des Roches, besides
his character, was an alien and had Poitevin, not Eng-
lish, notions of government. He brought other aliens
with him to the pillage of England. Afterwards came
two fresh flights, the kindred of Henry's queen Eleanor
of Provence, and the children of his mother Isabel, nick-
named from her mischief-making Jezebel, by her second
husband the Count of La Marche. To these aliens
England was a mine. On them were showered favours,
honours, wealth, from a treasury running low. To them
were given in marriage rich wards of the crown. To them
were consigned royal castles. Their inroad was almost
a second French invasion. Besides the influence of kin-



VII HENRY III 153

ship, to which Henry seems to have been fatuously open,
their manners would be more courtly than those of the
islanders, their notions of royalty would be higher, and
they would be bound, with all their fortresses and es-
tates, to the royal interest. They behaved as if they
were in a conquered country. William De Valence,
castellan of Hertford, killed the deer in the Bishop
of Ely's park, then broke into the episcopal cellar, made
his grooms drunk with the wine, and let the rest run
out. Boniface of Savoy, the queen's uncle, a more than
worldly youth, was thrust into the archbishopric of Can- 1241
terbury. For thirteen years he mingled in the wars
and intrigues of the continent, at the same time draw-
ing the revenues of his neglected see. Intruding him-
self as Visitor into the convent of St. Bartholomew, and
finding his authority questioned, though he had been
received with profound reverence, he fell on the grey-
haired prior and beat him brutally with his fists, while
his train, following his example, beat the monks. Com-
plaining to the king, the victims were dismissed with a
scoff. Queen Eleanor made herself so unpopular with
the Londoners by her bearing and her exactions, that
in the end they pelted her as she passed along the river.
A justiciar as regent was no longer so much needed,
the king being regularly resident in England. But
instead of appointing other great officers of state, who
as national functionaries would have been restraints upon
his personal rule, Henry, full of high monarchical no-
tions, chose, all unfit for government as he was, to carry
on the administration by himself. If he took advice, it
was that of a clerical adventurer like John Mansel,
who accumulated a mass of church preferment in that



154 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

evil service. To get the responsible offices of state duly
filled by men in whom the nation had confidence was
consequently one of the objects of reformers during
this reign.

On his favourites and on his taste for church art
and for pageantry Henry's revenues were lavished.
Further outlay he incurred by wars in Gascony, un-
happily retained when Normandy and Anjou were lost,
which were misconducted and brought him shame. The
domain of the crown had by this time been reduced
by improvident grants, so that it was impossible for
the king to live, as the phrase of reformers in after
times ran, "of his own." Disgraced and despised, if
not detested, Henry was always coming for money to
the parliament, by which momentous name the assembly
of prelates and barons was already called. Failing to
obtain regular aids, he practised irregular extortion,
especially on London, upon whose charter of liberties
he trampled with his tallages, and whose citizens he
forced to shut up their shops and bring their goods in
stormy weather to a. fair at Westminster, that he, as
lord of the fair-ground, might reap the dues. Deeply,
too, he dipped with his royal hand into the coffers of
the Jews, which were then replenished by extortion from
bhe people. By constant recourse to the council of the
realm for supplies, the king could not help impressing



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