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112 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

ships, as sometimes did a grandee. But the bulk of the
fleet was made up by general impressment of ships, which
would be somewhat analogous to the general obligation
of landsmen to serve in the army. The code of laws
for that fleet, extremely strict and cruel, was Richard's
contribution to the progress of legislation. England
heard from afar, not, we may suppose, without a thrill
of interest and some elevation of national spirit, how
Richard of the lion heart and ungoverned temper had
on his way to the Holy Land quarrelled with the Sicil-
ians, thrashed them, and stormed their city; fallen upon
1191 the tyrant usurper of Cyprus and conquered his island ;
how he had attacked and captured a huge Turkish ship ;

1191 liow he had landed at Acre amidst the enthusiasm of the
Christian host which was besieging it, and brought new
life to the siege, taken the great city of the misbelievers,
and butchered thousands of them in cold blood; how
he had outshone the other crusading princes by his
prowess, while he made them his enemies by his over-
bearing pride ; how, when deserted by them, he had
continued to perform marvellous feats of war, covered
himself with glory, and won the admiration and friend-

1192 ship of the great Saladin, though, betrayed by his con-
federates and single-handed, he failed to redeem the
Sepulchre. Then came the news that, crossing Europe
on his way back, he had been foully entrapped and held

1192 to ransom by the Duke of Austria, out of whose hands
he had passed into the hands, equally mean, of the Em-
peror ; and that the customary aid for ransoming the lord
from captivity would have to be paid by the country on
the largest scale. The papacy, which in its own interest
could reduce to submission Barbarossa and Henry II.,



V RICHARD I 113

failed to rescue from the hands of a robber duke and
emperor the foremost champion of Christendom.

The blackmail demanded by the imperial brigand was
a hundred thousand pounds, double the whole revenue
of the crown. The means by which it was raised dis- 1193
close the strange medley of the fiscal system in a nation
passing from the era of feudal tenures, services, and
dues, to that of nationality with national taxation. Each
knight's fee pays twenty shillings. The royal domains
pa}^ tallage. The land not held by military tenure pays
a land-tax under the name of carucage, for the assessment
of which a new survey had to be made. Besides this,
a tax on personalty, one-fourth of revenue or goods, is
imposed for the special occasion on all. From the Cis-
tercians is taken a fourth of their wool, now a staple ;
from the churches their plate and jewels. The gold on
St. Edmund's shrine at Edmundsbury was saved only by
the protest of Abbot Samson. When the tax-collector
came to the door, the people no doubt groaned ; but, on
the whole, the ransom for the hero seems to have been
freely paid.

Richard, after his release, tarried barely two months 1194
in England. War, not government, was his element.
This time his field of battle was Normandy, and his
enemy was Philip of France. His second stay was spent,
like his first, in raking together money for his war.
Again he sold offices and everything else for which he
could find a market. To illustrate once more the mor-
ality of chivalry, he made another great seal, and com-
pelled holders of grants to have them sealed anew and
pay the fees over again. The Emperor still retained a
shadow of European supremacy, the vestige of imperial

VOL. I вАФ 8



114 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

Rome. To bribe his pride, it seems, Richard had done
homage to him. It may have been to assure himself and
his people of his being, this submission notwithstanding,

1194 still sovereign, that he repeated, or partly repeated, the
ceremony of his coronation. At his departure he left
England in the hands of Hubert Walter, Archbishop of
Canterbury, an able minister, who seems to have applied
the administrative and fiscal policy of Henry II., though
his statesmanship was largely engrossed by the collection
of money for his master's war. The last, and not least,
notable exploit of .Richard was the construction of the

1197 Chateau Gaillard to command the Seine and the approach
to Rouen ; a work which showed an advance of en-
gineering skill not without its bearing on politics, since
it added to the superiority of the defence. The end of
Richard of the lion heart resembled that of Charles XII.
of Sweden, his counterpart in life-long pugnacity. He
met his death before a petty fortress, to the siege of
which he had been lured by an idle story of treasure
trove.

, That the government should have held together during
such a reign shows how solid the work of Henry II. had
been, and how strong he had made the monarchy. Yet
the effect of a practical vacancy of the throne for ten
years could not fail to be felt. Actual progress towards
constitutional government was in some respects made.
In the collection of Richard's ransom it was necessary
to make appeals to the people which familiarized them
with the idea of self-taxation, while the principle of
representation was called into play by the local ma-
chinery of assessment. It seems, also, that for the
maintenance of order the regency was compelled to



V RICHARD I 115

throw itself more upon local support. Towards the end
of the reign, St. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, successfully
resisted a demand upon the estate of his bishopric for
troops to serve beyond sea. This, unless we reckon
Becket's refusal to pay danegelt on church lands, or
Anselm's refusal to meet the demands of Rufus, is the
first instance of a constitutional resistance to taxation.
Longchamp was deposed from his vicegerency by a con-
vention of barons and London citizens, ,which may be
said to have been the rude prototype of a convention
parliament. A step from the system of feudal aids and
dues to that of national taxation was taken in the insti-
tution of carucage, a regular land-tax of so much on
every hundred acres, and when taxation becomes national
it forms an object for national vigilance and resistance.

The towns, cradles of the democracy that is to be, are
growing ; their liberty is advancing ; they are gradually
detaching themselves from the feudal system. Trade
had flourished under the broad empire and the firm rule
of Henry IL One by one the towns are ceasing to be
groups of huts on the domain of the king or of some
lord, tallagable like the rest, and under the jurisdiction,
apt to be oppression and plunder, of the sheriff. They
are working and buying their way to municipal self-
government. The form which their upward effort takes
is that of guilds, either of merchants or of craftsmen ;
the merchant guild being the higher and more aristo-
cratic, the craft guild that of the more democratic arti-
san ; guilds of both kinds being religious and benevolent
brotherhoods, as well as associations of trade, narrow and
monopolist in their policy, as in those times they could
not help being, and perhaps needed to be. Charters



116 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

were in course of time purchased by the guilds for a
full commune or municipality with its own jurisdiction
and collecting its own taxes or aids instead of having
them assessed and exacted by the sheriff. In England,
as elsewhere, the crown, in its struggle with the great
lords, found allies in the boroughs. During the last
feudal rebellion some English boroughs had suffered in
the royal cause. If Henry II., tenacious of power, was.
sparing in his grant of municipal charters, Richard sold
them as freely as he sold everything else.

London led the van and set the example of progress.
That it could put twenty thousand horse and sixty thou-
sand foot into the field, as a contemporary chronicler
asserts, is incredible ; yet it had become, for those times,
a great and opulent citj^ full of commercial activity, full
also of social life, the vigour and unity of which, as well
as the martial spirit of the citizens, were kept up by manly
exercises and games. It had established a regular mu-
nicipal government. It had played an important part
in the election of Stephen as king, in the rejection of
Matilda, and in the deposition of Longchamp. Now it

1191 has its first mayor. Its local government was passing
finally out of feudal into commercial hands. It has
arrived at the epoch of municipal parties, plutocratic
and democratic. The democracy complained that the
taxes were unjustly levied by the burgher oligarchy,
which was in possession of the government. Their dis-

1196 content found a mouthpiece in William Fitzosbert, or
Longbeard, an ex-crusader, a man of great strength and
stature, a popular orator, with some knowledge of law.
He belonged to a high civic family, but had wasted his
means and was thrown upon his wits. It seems that he



V RICHARD I 117

first bid for the favour of the court, and in an unscru-
pulous manner, by accusing his brother, who had refused
him money, of treason. He then turned to the people,
made himself the champion of the poor, or, as we should
now say, of the masses against the classes, pushed his
way into the council, and harangued at open-air meet-
ings, denouncing the mayor and aldermen. An outbreak,
perhaps the sack of the city, appeared imminent, when
the government came to the assistance of the burgher
oligarchy, and Longbeard, having slain one of the sol-
diers sent to arrest him, took refuge in a church, was
forced from that sanctuary, and, after a summary trial, 1196
hanged in chains. He was the first English democrat
who suffered for his cause. His party styled him a
martyr, and miracles were performed at his tomb.



CHAPTER VI

JOHN
Born 1167 ; Succeeded 1199 ; Died 1216

XT AD the present rule of succession to the crown been
then in force, 3'Oung Arthur, son of John's elder
brother Geoffrey, would have been Richard's successor on
the throne. But the rule was not yet settled, and the
man was still preferred to the boy. John, when he had
gone through the form of election and been crowned by
the archbishop, was rightful king of England. The king
of France and John's other enemies used his nephew's
claim against him, but Arthur fell into his uncle's hands,
and John practically settled the question of succession, as
all the world believed, by the murder of the boy.

We must listen with caution to the ecclesiastical
chroniclers in the case of a king who quarrelled with the
church. Yet the}^ do not seem to have gone much beyond
the mark in saying that John when he died made hell
fouler by his coming. Force, fitful energy, even flashes
of statesmanship and generalship, he had. So far he was
a Plantagenet, but he seems to have been thoroughly
wicked. Archbishop Hubert in crowning him, if we are
to believe Matthew Paris, a chronicler of liberal tenden-
cies in the next generation, dwelt with extraordinary
force on his responsibilities as an elective king, and
pledged him to constitutional government. Any such

118



CHAP. VI JOHN 110

pledge John gave to the winds. His throne of cruelty,
lust, perfidy, and rapine Avas upheld by mercenary troops,
the scourge of a nation. To the father who fatuously
loved him his treachery had been a death-blow. As his
father's deput}^ in Ireland he had displayed his folly and
insolence. Against his brother Richard, when Richard
was fighting for Christendom, he had disloyally con-
spired. In wedlock as in everything else, he had been
false. Before his accession to the throne he had married
Hadweisa, daughter of the Earl of Gloucester; but when
he became king, desiring a grander match, he put her
away on the pretext of consanguinity, and married Isa- 1200
bella, daughter of the Count. of Angouleme, snatching her
from the arms of the Count de la Marche, to whom she
was betrothed. The pope, with wiiom John happened
to be on good terms, was silent. So doubtful a guardian
was the papacy of the sanctity of marriage when its own
policy was not concerned.

Bad as he was, and by reason of his badness, John ren-
dered two great services to England. He lost Normandy ;
and he gave birth to the Great Charter. The line between
the Anglo-Saxon and the Norman had by this time been
effaced. In the legislation of Henry II. there is no trace
of it, no different ordeals for the two races, no present-
ment of Englishry. The great conquest families had
either died out or wrecked themselves in rebellion. Still
Normandy was a focus of feudal mutiny, while its pos-
session made the king of England only a half-English
king, and the nobility of England who held lands in both
countries only a half-English nobility. Henry I. during
the thirty-six years of his reign had spent but five sum-
mers in England. Henry II. spent a great part of his



120 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

time on the continent, and wasted much, perhaps most,
of his activity there. He understood but could not speak
English. Richard had passed in Norman war the years
left after his release from captivity, and the monument
of his reign was the Chateau Gaillard. The severance
was essential to the completion of English nationality.
Henceforth the king of England is English, the nobility
is English. The political lists are closed, and the tyranny
of John challenges a national resistance. Conscious
nationality may be said to date from this hour.

In fact, the first opposition which John encountered
was from the unwillingness of his barons to follow him
in arms to a land in which they had no longer an interest.
But the monarchy was strong; John had a standing army
of mercenaries ; and while he could wring money to pay
them from his people or from the Jews, though his cruelty
and lust made him deadly enemies, particularly among the
noble families on whose honour he trampled, his tyranny
at home was secure. It is hard to say what might have
happened had not John, like his father, but under a still
more adverse star, come into collision with the church,
which here did in truth by its counter-tyranny put a
salutary limit to the tyranny of a king.

The archbishopric of Canterbury was vacant by the
death of Hubert, in whom John lost his best counsellor,
though one whom he feared much more than he loved ;
at least, when Geoffrey Fitzpeter, who had always re-
strained him, died, he said that the justiciar had gone to
join the archbishop in hell. The justiciar, it is observed,
had begun to exercise something like the influence of a
prime minister, or, rather, like that of the justiciar of
Aragon, whose authority was a check upon the power of



VI JOHN 121

the king. Two applicants for the pallium presented them-
selves at Rome ; Reginald, the sub-prior of Canterbury,
where the chapter was monastic, clandestinely elected by
the younger monks ; and John De Grey, Bishop of Nor-
wich, John's favourite minister, afterwards elected by the
chapter on the nomination of the king. The pope heard
the cause, gave each suitor a shell, and took the appoint- 1206
ment himself. He made the representatives of the chap-
ter who were at Rome elect a friend, and, as he might
hope, a creature of his own, Stephen Langton, an English-
man by birth, but a scholar of European fame and a star
of the University of Paris. John refused to recognize
the appointment, drove the monks of Canterbury from
their house, seized their estates, and set the pope at defi-
ance. To soothing words and menacing allusions to
Thomas Becket he was alike deaf. When he was
threatened with an interdict he swore by God's teeth, his
favourite and appropriate oath, that if the interdict were
published he would seize all the possessions of the church,
outlaw all the clergy, pack them out of his realm, and if
emissaries came from Rome would send them back with-
out noses and eyes. He seems to have been a practical
free-thinker. There were stories of his sending three
times in the course of a sermon to a bishop and a saint
who was preaching before him to stop because he wanted
his dinner; of his covetously fingering the offertory
money; and of his letting the spear-sceptre fall at his
inauguration by the archbishop as Duke of Normandy,
while he was jesting with his boon companions. He
refused to communicate at his coronation, and was re-
proved by St. Hugh for refusing to communicate at
Easter. It could even be believed of him that he thought



122 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap

of turning Mahometan. But in the conflict which he now
challenged the stars in their courses fought against him.
Thanks to the general growth of superstition, to the
religious ferment of the crusades, to the steadfastness of
papal ambition, to the continuity of papal policy, to the
efforts of a European priesthood united and enthusiastic
in its own cause, to the skilful use of an arsenal of sophis-
try, forgery, misquoted Scripture, and fallacious metaphor,
combined with the favour of the people, who saw in the
Vicar of Christ a power above that of their immediate
oppressors and did not see the court of Rome, the papacy,
even since the time of Henry II., had been advancing
with great strides. The successor of Peter asserted his
claim to excommunicate kings and to release their sub-
jects from allegiance, to depose them and to set up others
in their room; to call kings to account not only for
offences against the church, but for offences against moral
laws, such as the laws of marriage ; himself to receive
kingdoms by cession ; to grant those to which there was
no heir, the succession to which was doubtful, or which
had been won from infidels or heretics ; to dispose of all
islands as Pope Adrian had disposed of Ireland ; to inter-
fere in imperial and royal elections, not only in the last,
but in the first resort; to put in motion the armies of
crusading Christendom ; to command kings to march ; to
excommunicate them for disobedience to the command.
Innocent III., the pope by whom most of these advances
towards supremacy were made, and against whom John
had now pitted himself, was about the most formidable
of the line. Unlike popes in general, he had been elected
in the vigour of his manhood. He was a man of com-
manding genius and extraordinary force of character.



VI JOHN 123

With the fanatical zeal of the monk he combined the
address of the politician, and never was earthly conqueror
more ambitious, more unscrupulous, or more ruthless than
this Vicar of Christ. For a moment he almost realized
the ideal of Hildebrand by making Europe a theocracy.
His resolute policy had set his throne on firm foundations
in Italy, where the papacy, being most seen, was least
respected. He had the heir to the kingdom of Sicily for 1198
his ward. He interposed as supreme judge in imperial
elections ; decided in favour of Otho of Brunswick, 1198
against the Hohenstauifen, Philip ; brought on the Em-
pire ten years of devastating war; and afterwards excom-
municated Otho. For a king's breach of the marriage 1210
vow he laid France under an interdict, and humbled her 1200
astute and powerful monarch in the dust. He treated 1214
in the same way the princes of Castile and Leon. For
disloyal dealings with the infidel, he cursed the king of
Navarre and his realm. He saw the crown of Aragon 1204
laid on the altar of St. Peter. He forced tribute from
Portugal. From Servia to Iceland, he made his authority
felt. Only by the shrewd traders of Venice was his
anger braved when their interests were concerned. Aided
by the passionate eloquence of Fulk De Neuilly, he set on 1198
foot a new crusade, and his crusaders having taken Con- 1204
stantinople, he stretched his empire over the seat of the
Eastern schism and was pope at once of both the Romes.
Arming the ambition of the king of France and of Simon 1208
De Montfort in the cause of Peter, he exterminated amid
scenes of blood, atrocity, and havoc, to which history
affords few parallels, the gay and prosperous but heretical
population of Southern France. Under his pontificate
were founded those two mighty engines of the papacy, '



124 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

1209, the orders of St. Francis and St. Dominic, the latter the
order of the Inquisition, devoted to the enslavement of
the mind. Against such a pope, such a king as John had
little chance of winning the game. His character and
his estrangement from the barons made him a tempting
quarry for Innocent's towering ambition.

1208 After futile parleyings the pope launched the interdict.
For six years, the churches of England were closed ; the
services ceased ; the bells were silent ; the images of
Christ were veiled ; the relics of the saints were with-
drawn from sight ; no sacraments were administered sav-
ing the baptism of infants and the extreme unction of the
dying. The dead were buried in unhallowed ground.
Marriages were performed only in the church porch ;
sermons were preached only in the churchyard. The
sources, deemed indispensable, of spiritual life were cut off,
and to compel the king to surrender to the pope there
was a wholesale and promiscuous slaughter of Christian
souls. Herein the pope, as a spiritual conqueror, fol-
lowed the analogy of secular war, in which to bring the
princes to terms the subjects are put to the sword. The
bishops, having pronounced the interdict, fled the realm,
all save the courtier or patriot prelates of Norwich, Win-
chester, and Durham. Stephen Langton posted himself
at Pontigny, the retreat of Becket, to whom he did not fail
to be compared. John was as good as his word. He met
the interdict by outlawing the clergy, at the same time
holding to ransom, no doubt with impious joy, the concu-
bines whom in defiance of the canons many of them kept.
He even let the murderer of a clerk go free, though to
the reign of violence thus opened he had soon to put a
stop. Raging like a hunted boar, he showed his Angevin



VI JOHN 125

energy and fierceness. He compelled all the tenants of
the crown to renew their homage ; took hostages of
barons whom he suspected ; drove others to France or
Scotland and seized their castles. He led an army to the
border of Scotland and compelled the king of Scotland 1209
to give sureties for keeping the peace. His mercenaries
would reck little of the interdict. Nor does it seem to
have told as might have been expected on the people at
large. It was not universally observed, some monasteries
and churches pleading exemptions. But an age supersti-
tious enough to believe in curses looks for visible effects of
the curse. The sun continued to shine on England ; the
seasons held their course ; the earth yielded her fruits.
From those whom Rome had cursed heaven appeared not
to withdraw its blessing. Taxation was lightened by the
seizure of church property, and the land apparently was
doing well.

The pope now warned the king as his " dear son " that
the bow was fully bent. After more vain parleying
the arrow flew. The sentence of excommunication went 1212
forth against the king. To publish it formally in Eng-
land was not easy, all the bishops of the pope's party
being in exile. But rumour spread the fearful news.
Geofl'rey, Archdeacon of Norwich, whispered it to his
colleagues in the exchequer, and was requited with a
cope of lead over his head and shoulders, in which he was
starved to death. John did not yield. He had his mer-
cenaries with breasts curse-proof ; he had money to pay
them withal from the spoils of the church, including the
wool-packs of the Cistercians, from the tallage of his
towns, from the coffers of the Jews, one of whom he forced
to disgorge by daily pulling out one of his grinder teeth.



126 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap.

His trusty De Grey, his two other royalist bishops, were
still at his side ; his barons seem not to have shunned
him ; his captains, soldiers of fortune, were faithful to his
gold ; the son of the king of Scots was sent to receive
knighthood, a half-religious ordinance, at his hand. Nor
was he without a publicist on his side. Alexander, sur-
named the Mason, did for him in a humble way what Peter
De Vineis did for Frederick II., arguing that the pope
had no right to meddle with civil rights or estates, God
having given Peter power over church government and
church estates alone. John bestirred himself with fiend-

1210 ish energy, flew to Ireland, there crushed the dangerous
house of Lacy, captured the wife and child of his enemy,
William de Braose, and brought them to Windsor, where
they were believed to have been starved to death. Ireland
he put under his faithful De Grey. Apparently he saw,
as Strafford and James II. saw long after him, that in



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