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the pope than the pope was to give it to him." At a
meeting of the great council which followed, the re-
quest was renewed and was again refused, with a threat
of seizure of the primate's estates if he left the realm,
which, however, as it touched fiefs generally, seems to
have bred some division in the council. There was
more parleying between Anselm and the bishops, who
told Anselm that he was a saint, that they were not
saints, but men with earthly ties, that they could not
afford to break with the king, and that they advised
him to give way. Money, they always hinted, was the
sure passport to the king's grace. That no one should
go to Rome without the king's leave was undoubtedly
the law, and here the king had the barons on his side.
Anselm contended that if he had promised to obey the
law of the realm, it was with a tacit reservation of his
duty to God, a plea which even untutored soldiers
might perceive to be subversive of good faith. As he
went on discoursing, the Count de Mellent exclaimed
that he was preaching a sermon, not reasoning to men
of sense. Anselm had clearly again proclaimed the doc-
trine of an allegiance divided between the king and
Peter. He was warned that his estates would be seized,
and that he would be allowed to take nothing with him
out of the kingdom. He meekly parried the threat, and
desired that, as he and the king might never meet again,
the king would at parting receive his blessing. Rufus
sullenly bowed his head to receive it.

At the port, Anselm underwent the indignity of search. 1097
The estates of his see were seized. At the papal court,
he was received with the highest honour as the pope of
another world. In the Council of Bari he shone as the io98


great theologian of the day, vindicating the orthodox
doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Ghost against
the heresy of the Greek. In his exile, though stripped
of his estates by royal wrath, he did nothing hostile or
disloyal to the king. On the contrary, when the papal
thunderbolt was about to be launched against the enemy
of the church, he arrested it by his prayer. Presently,
however, he found the papal support failing him ; the
gold of Rufus had prevailed against him at Rome, and
he went into pensive retirement at Lyons. Assuredly,
if ever the church rendered a political service by oppos-
ing moral to physical force and curbing the arbitrary
will of kings, she did it in the person of Anselm.

Rufus went on in his old courses. Like other Nor-
mans, he was a mighty hunter, and one of the most
grievous parts of his tyranny was his savage execution
of forest law. One morning at the ro3^al seat of Win-
chester, after a night of bad dreams, he had dark pre-
sentiments. But in the afternoon, having dined and
drunk deeply, he recovered his spirits and went out to
hunt in the New Forest, which his father had made by
levelling church and hamlet with the ground. At even-
1100 ing there came to Winchester a party of peasants bear-
ing on their rough cart a corpse which they had found
in the forest. It was that of Rufus, with an arrow in
the heart. Who shot the arrow was never known.
Walter Tyrrell, who had been with Rufus in the forest,
fled. Monks had dreamed prophetic dreams ; the news
was spread in miraculous ways; there had been a plot
before for slaying Rufus in a forest. Probabilities point
to tyrannicide, a fact of political significance in its
way. The Red King was laid without religious rites

Ill HENRY I 67

ill a lowly tomb. None, we are told, wept for him sav-
ing hirelings and harlots ; yet Anselm, who is said to
have wept, would feel that he had lost a soul.

Born 1068; Succeeded 1100; Died 1135

The struggle still goes on between the crown and the
baronage, and that between the crown and the church is
renewed. The crown is somewhat weakened by breaks
in the succession.

Robert, the Conqueror's eldest son, was far away on a
crusade. Henry was on the spot. He galloped to Win- llOO
Chester, seized the treasure, thrusting aside its keeper,
De Breteuil, who barred his way in the name of Robert,
the legitimate heir, and had himself elected king. The
nature of his title and the elective character of the mon-
archy he clearly admitted, designating himself as elected
by the clergy and the people, that is, the baronage, the
only people of account. He had the advantage over his
brother of being born in England. To win support, he
published a charter, the prototype of a greater charter
to come, granting redress of grievances. The church
of God shall be free, not sold or put to farm ; nothing
shall be taken from her during the vacancy of bishopric
or abbey ; from the heir of the tenant-in-chief, no more
than a first and lawful relief shall be taken ; and as it
is done by the king to his tenants-in-chief, so shall it
be done by the tenants-in-chief to their under-tenants ;
if a feudatory incurs forfeiture, he shall pay only a fixed
fine ; the abuses of marriage and of wardship shall cease ;
bequest of personal property shall be free, and the per-


sonalty of an intestate shall go to his family ; debts
owing to the crown are forgiven, suits set on foot by
it are stayed ; the coin shall no longer be debased ; the
hundred shall no longer be blackmailed on a pretence
of its responsibility for a murder. The forests Henry,
having the family passion for the chase, refuses to re-
sign. An immunity from fiscal extortion granted to
the domain lands of the knights reveals the existence
of a class of landowners below the baronage, a class
of country gentlemen destined hereafter to be of the
highest political importance. Firm peace is to be estab-
lished throughout the realm. To the English people
generally is promised the law of King Edward, which
to the English ear meant the good old times. Manners
are to be reformed, and the palace is to be swept clear

1100 of its vices and lighted at night. Anselm is recalled
with honour. Flambard is thrown into prison, though

1100 the rogue manages to escape by letting himself down
with a rope conveyed to him in a pitcher of wine. The
vacant bishoprics and abbacies are filled with learned
clerks. There is general joy, and everybody says that
the Lion of Justice foretold by Merlin has come.

A lion had indeed come, and in some measure he was
a lion of justice. The Conqueror's gifts seem to have
been shared among his sons. Robert had his spirit of
adventure, William his prowess as a soldier, Henry his
statesmanship. Henry is not unqualified for the com-
mand in war, which is still regarded as one, perhaps as
the first, of the duties of a king ; but he prefers the
arms of the cabinet. The times are growing milder
and more civilized ; there is a faint revival of literature
and elegant Latinity ; the University of Oxford is born.

Ill HENRY I 59

War itself is becoming, among the knights at least,
less savage and more of a tournament. Henry had
shared the general influence ; he was surnamed Beau-
clerc; he was a naturalist, and had a zoological collec-
tion at Woodstock. He was as cold-blooded as his
brother had been hot-blooded, and as calculating as his
brother had been impulsive. From his eyes, described
by the chronicler as soft and mild, a light not soft or
mild must sometimes have gleamed. A wrong he sel-
dom forgave, an insult never. The troubadour who had
satirized him was blinded ; a faithful servant was se-
verely punished for a light word. Conan, the rebel of
Rouen, Henry led to the top of a high tower, and, after
showing him in mockery the fair scene below, to the
command of which the rebel had aspired, with his own
arms flung him down.

Scarcely had the new king seated himself on the throne
when Robert, covered with glory from the crusade,
arrived to claim his birthright, and invaded England iioi
with a Norman army, Flambard having debauched the
fleet which watched the channel. He might have taken
Winchester, the royal city, and the treasure-house ; but
the queen lay there in child-bed, and the crusader, by
refusing to attack her, showed that the era of chivalry
was fully come. The principles of election and legiti-
macy as titles to monarchy now confronted each other.
In face of a Norman army, such as had conquered Eng-
land, stood an army partly of Normans, partly of English.
Henry, we are told, went among the English foot-soldiers
teaching them how to meet the Norman horse. But
prudence, kinship, the interest and pride of race, pre-
vailed, and a treaty was made, Henry keeping England,


Robert Normandy, for life, with cross remainders, and
1101 Henrjr paying Robert yearly three thousand marks, for
which sum the gallant spendthrift, who was said to have
to lie abed because he had pawned his clothes, was will-
ing to sell his birthright. This introduced another sort
of title to the kingship, which was here settled like a
private estate subject to contract, mortgage, and devise.
Still, within the limits of the royal line, the strong man,
or the man of the hour, was king.

In the moment of peril Henry, like his brother, had
appealed to the English. To bind them to him he mar-
1100 ried a Saxon princess, Matilda, daughter of Malcolm
Canmore, king of Scotland, and of Margaret, the sister of
the English Prince Edgar Atheling. Normans might
scoff at " Goodman Godric and Dame Godiva," but
Henry kept his Godiva till she had borne him an heir ;
then he allowed her to become a nun. That this was
policy, not feeling for the subject race, Henry showed by
a constant preference for natives of Normandy, especially
in appointments to bishoprics and abbacies.

A king who meant to govern, as King Henry did, was
sure to come into collision with the baronage, and the
hydra of feudal anarchy had been stirred by Robert's
advent. Henry showed his force. Robert Malet, Robert
De Pontefract, Ivo De Grandmesnil, were brought to
trial ; the first two were banished, and all were fined or
stripped of their estates. Most formidable and worst of
all was Robert De Bellesme, a Norman Eccelino, who
loved cruelty for its own sake ; spared his enemies in war
that he might see them die of hunger; impaled men,
women, and children ; burned a church with forty people
in it ; and, in sheer liendishness, put out the eyes of a

Ill HENRY I 61

chrisom child as it lay in his arms. The monster feigned
submission while he strengthened his castles, and called
to his aid the wild Welsh, ever ready to abet rebellion
and to maraud in England. Henry took the field in
force, again calling on the English, and Bellesme's last
stronghold fell. The Norman nobles, alarmed at the dis-
play of royal power, had essayed to mediate. But the
English in the king's army shouted to him to press the
siege. Bellesme, we mark, though hated, was not excom-
municated by his caste, which, on the contrary, inter-
posed in his favour, another comment on the superiority
of Norman character. A little money sent the Welsh
back to their hills, while Scotland, the other source of dis-
turbance without, was kept quiet by the king's marriage.
By fines, confiscation, and banishment the great houses of
the conquest were brought to the ground, and they owed
their overthrow in part to the arms of the conquered race.
Politically the land had peace. But the conflict pres-
ently recommenced between the crown and the church,
Anselm, the greatest lover of peace and charity, being
again destined to light the torch of discord. England
was involved in the great European quarrel between the
papacy and the lay powers on the subject of ecclesiastical
investitures. Since his restoration Anselm had twice
done the crown good service. At the time of Robert's
invasion he had brought to Henry the support of the
English, and he had set aside by his religious wisdom a
casuistical objection raised against the king's marriage
with Matilda, on the ground that she had once, to escape
violence, put on the veil of a nun. But he had brought
back with him from Italy the Hildebrandic doctrine
about the profanity of lay investiture and of doing horn-


age to lay lords for ecclesiastical fiefs, for which the
papacy was filling the German Empire with parricidal
war. This was a new light that had dawned upon
Anselm, for he had himself, when appointed to the arch-
bishopric by Rufus, not only done homage to the king
like a lay baron for the temporal fief, but received with-
out any scruple, from the king's hand, the pastoral staff
and ring. He now refused to do homage to the king for
the estates of his see, or to consecrate bishops who re-
ceived investiture at the king's hand. The king insisted
on his claim, sustained as he was in regard to homage by
the manifest right of the state, which could not have
brooked the existence of a separate realm within its
realm. In Henry Anselm did not encounter a second
Rufus, furious and profane, but a cool-headed, decorous
statesman, studious of appearance as well as tenacious of
his aim, and one who, though the father of a crowd of
bastards, was formally religious and a founder of relig-
ious houses. Henry, till his throne was firmly estab-
lished, let the question sleep ; then he pressed his claim.
Anselm, as before, was meek, peace-loving, loyal, and
always addressed the king, his temporal lord and spirit-
ual son, in the language of respectful affection ; but, as
before, he adhered firmly to his principle. There was
an appeal to Pope Paschal, who, of course, decided in
favour of ecclesiastical independence and aggrandize-
ment. Henry insisted on a second appeal. The Arch-
bishop of York and two bishops on the king's part, two
monks on the part of Anselm, argued the case once more
before the pope, and once more Anselm's envoys brought
back the pope's judgment in Anselm's, that is, in his own
favour. The king's envoys protested that the pope had



given them a different decision by word of mouth, and it
is not unlikely that the wily Italian had sought by cajol-
ing them in private to temper the ire of a mighty king.
In the great council which was held to settle the ques-
tion, the king's spokesman contended that a scroll of
parchment was not to be believed against the word of
three prelates, and that the monks being by their vows
dead to the world could not be heard in a worldly case ;
to which it was answered that the Gospel itself was a
scroll and that the case was not worldly. The bishops
as well as the lay barons were again with the king.
Anselm, ever pacific, consented to a third reference,
undertaking while it was pending to refrain from excom-
municating bishops who had received lay investiture.
Of this the king took advantage to treat his claim as con-
ceded, to appoint to bishoprics his chancellor and an
officer of his household, and invest them with the staff and
ring. An attempt was made to trepan Anselm into con-
secrating these two men together with William, Bishop-
elect of Winchester, who had received the staff and ring
in the canonical manner. Anselm having refused, the
Archbishop of York was ordered to officiate in his place ;
but the faithful William declined to be so consecrated,
and the bishops, filled with confusion, as Eadmer says, at
this rebuff, went, amid the execrations of the people, to
lay their complaint before the king. William, standing
firm against the storm of reproaches and menaces, was
stripped of his goods and expelled the realm, Anselm
seeking justice for him in vain. The king now made an
opportunity of visiting Canterbury to try the effect of a
personal interview on the archbishop, who had by this
time received from Rome letters which he forbore to


publish, directing him to excommunicate his opponents.
The king vowed that he would not for his kingdom give
up the right which he had inherited from his prede-
cessors. Anselm declared that he durst not for his life
betray the principle which he had heard solemnly laid
down in the council at Rome. Tears, Eadmer tells us,
came into the eyes of those who were present at the
thought of the evils which again impended over the
church. The king had now nothing left for it but to get
Anselm out of the kingdom ; and he succeeded in per-
suading the aged primate to go in person to Rome. For
Rome Anselm embarked, followed to the seaside, his
biographer assures us, by a great multitude of people.
The biographer of a saint militant is always anxious to
show that the saint had the people on his side ; and it is
likely that, apart from reverence for the holy men or for
the priesthood, the people would be on the side of resist-
ance to a government which to them was one of iron, as
well as half alien, while the clergy were in themselves a
multitude, and had, as spiritual masters and confessors,
the best means of agitation. At the papal court Anselm
encountered William of Warelwast, who, having been the
envoy of Rufus, now served Henry on a like mission.
The arts of the tried diplomatist failed to avert the pope's
decree. Mildness was studied in the form of proceeding
against so powerful a culprit as the king of England by a
pope, who had already the Emperor on his hands; but
the custom of investiture was inflexibly condemned, and
those who should conform to it were pronounced excom-
municate. In vain, when Anselm had departed from
Rome, William of Warelwast lingered behind on pretence
of paying his vows to St. Nicholas. The pope was not to

Ill HENRY I 66

be moved ; the question was vital to the ascendancy of
the papacy and the priesthood.

On the return of his envoy the king seized the estates
of the archbishropic into his hands, appointing, however,
as Eadmer admits, friendly administrators, and gave no-
tice to Anselm that he was banished from the realm.
Anselm, for the second time, found a hospitable home with
his friend the Archbishop of Lyons. In vain, hearing
from England that in the absence of the chief shepherd
wolves had broken into the fold, and that the church was
full of disorder and distress, he plied the pope with en-
treaties to interpose effectively for his restoration. The
pope, engaged in a death struggle with the Emperor,
shrank from driving the king of England to extremity
at the same time. He, however, excommunicated Robert
De Mellent and the other advisers of the king. At last
Anselm advanced to Normandy, resolved to excommuni-
cate the king himself. Henry, in the midst of a struggle
with his brother for the duchy, could ill afford at that
moment to be held up to his adherents and his opponents
as an excommunicated man, and to have the whole moral
force of the church thrown into the scale of his enemy.
The old Countess of Blois, Adela, sister of Henry, and
a spiritual daughter of Anselm, brought about a meeting
at which the king showed himself anxious for peace ;
and after some further haggling and more references to
Rome, a reconciliation was effected. Anselm returned 1107
to England and to his archbishopric amidst the jubilation
of the clergy and the people, as well as to the great joy
of the pious Queen Matilda, who had earnestly pleaded
for his restoration, and preceded him wherever he went,
heading the procession which was formed to meet him,

VOL. I вАФ 5


and providing for his triumphant reception. The great
question was compromised. On the part of the arch-
bishop it was conceded that bishops and abbots should
do homage as tenants of the crown for their iiefs to the
king ; on the part of the king that they should receive
investiture as shepherds of the church with the ring and
staff, not from their lay, but from their spiritual superior.
The renunciation of the king bound all other lay patrons.
It was a fair compromise according to the notions of the
age. Those, however, who should know the interest of
the clergy best, think that they gained little by the
result. Anselm ruled his church in peace, holding his
synods and pursuing his reforms till the age of seventy-
six. Once more we are made to feel that if ever eccle-
siastical privilege was a moral influence, and a curb on
immoral power, it was in the person of this man, who,
if his biographer has painted him aright, in all his strug-
gles showed a Christian character, ever sought peace,
never betrayed self-interest or ambition, never forgot,
though he might misunderstand, his duty to his national

Anselm, after his restoration, held a reforming synod.
It was held by the king's leave, and respect was thus
paid to the custom of the realm. But its main object
was to enforce the Hildebrandic rule of clerical celibacy,
by which the clergy were cut off from home and from
the commonwealth, to become the militia of Rome. The
result showed that not only the domestic and civil char-
acter of the clergy but their morality was sacrificed to
papal policy. Few of them were Anselms, and not being
allowed wives, a good many of them kept concubiiies.
Incontinence chuckled when the pope's legate, John of

Ill HENKY I 67

Crema, after holding forth against it, was himself caught
in a brothel. The presence of a legate as president of
an English synod was itself a symptom of the progress
of Rome, though he had not come without the consent
of the king.

Still more did Rome gain by the extension of monas-
ticism, which planted her spiritual garrisons in every
land. Now came to England the Cistercian order, the 1129
great revival of asceticism and of the angelic life. The
Cistercian angel, like other angels before him, presently
folded his wings, and, the houses of his brotherhood
having been built for eremite purposes on solitary downs
and moors, became a sheep-farmer and wool-grower, pre-
eminent in his line, and founded the chief commercial
industry of the nation. Still the monasteries, though
they might cease to be outposts of heaven, remained out-
posts of Rome. They were also in their way and in
those wild times shelter for the gentler natures and for
civilization. Their writing-rooms and libraries preserved
books and learning, though that which was valuable might
bear a small proportion to that which was not. Their
chronicles, almost the only annals, kept up the historical
consciousness of the nation. Church art and music, even
mechanics, owed them gratitude. It was probably for
the advancement of civilization in part, as well as for the
good of his own soul, that Henry founded monasteries,
among them the great Abbey of Reading. Whatever 1121
quickens intellect generally will help to make politics
intellectual and to render political struggles less con-
flicts of force and more of thought.

The monarchy is still the power not only of order but
of progress, and to the mass of the people the source of


justice, it may almost be said of liberty, since it comes
between them and the local oppressor. Henry, as he
had promised, made good peace, continued to hold down
his feudatories with a firm hand, forbade their private
wars, demolished the castles whicli they had built with-
out royal license. To the aristocracy of the conquest
he preferred men raised by himself who formed a new
nobility more attached and faithful to the crown. If
he preferred natives of Normandy to natives, whatever
their origin, of England, it was probably not in respect
of race, but because he found himself better served by
the strangers. Churchmen commended themselves to
him as ministers by their superior education, by their
entire dependence on their master, and by the cheapness
of their service, since they could be paid by ecclesiastical
preferment at the expense of the church.

Against his aristocratic enemies Henry provided him-
self with spies, not unneeded if it is true that he had
traitors at his board and narrowly escaped an arrow
shot by an unknown hand. He was always moving over
the country, chiefly, perhaps, to maintain his household
by consuming on the spot the fruits of his various de-
mesne lands, yet with the effect of making his personal
government felt, which without central machinery or
a post it could not otherwise have been. His punish-
ments were sweeping and ruthless, but they fell on the
few, while the many enjoyed security and were grateful.
His exactions, the people thought, were grievous, but
they were regular and not so bad as baronial pillage.
To levy fines on priests who kept concubines was not
very royal finance ; but about the sources of their reve-
nue none of these kings were nice. Henry rendered

Ill HENRY I 69

commerce and industry a great service by maintaining,

Online LibraryGoldwin SmithThe United kingdom; a political history → online text (page 5 of 84)