James Bryce Bryce.

The book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) online

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Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 48 of 55)
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of his brother's person and the duchy.
Robert passed the remainder of his life
in English prisons. The English baronage
lost their best ally and the asylum on



which they had always counted in the
event of their rebellions proving un-
successful. Normandy, however, proved
an expensive acquisition. Until the death
of Robert's son, William
Clito, in 1127, the victor
was never free from the
danger of Norman rebel-
lions aided by French
gold and armies. Hence
England was heavily
taxed for Henry's foreign
policy, and the greatness
of his needs led to the
establishment of an im-
proved financial system,
centring in the Exchequer,
to which the royal sheriffs
rendered a half-yearly
account of the taxes, the
proceeds of the law courts
and demesnes, and the
o|her sources of profit
accruing from their shires.

the struggle to obtain, supplied the model
for the Concordat of Worms in 1122, which
finally terminated the long war of investi-
tures between the papacy and empire. It
did not prevent further
conflicts between Henry
and the Church. In
his later years he was
harassed by the opposi-
tion of the Pope, and of
a section among his own
clergy, to that part of the
Conqueror's ecclesiastical
settlement which affected
the power of the Pope.
He made, however, stren-
uous and partially suc-
cessful efforts to check
the growing practice of
appeals to Rome.

The catastrophe of the
White Ship robbed him
of his only son, and his
death, in 11:35, left Eng-


The relations of Henry He was the younger brother of William Rufus, land and Normandy in
with the Church were whom he succeeded on the throne of England dispu te between two
troubled by the question ^^^^^*^ claimants. On more than
of investitures, which one occasion Henry had

had arisen on the continent long before exacted from his barons an oath of allegi-
uoo, but was first raised in England by ance to his daughter Matilda, the widow
Archbishop Anselm after his return from of the Emperor Henry V.,who had been

exile. The conflict was
conducted without per-
sonal bitterness. But
Anselm refused to depart
a hair's-breadth from the
policy enjoined upon him
by the papacy, and Henry
declined to renounce his
claim upon the allegiance
of the bishops. A com-
promise was, however,
arranged with the Pope's
sanction after Anselm had
endured a second exile
of four years' duration
(1103-1106) rather than
acknowledge the bishops
invested by the king.
Henry renounced the
claim to invest newly

married in 1129 to
Geoffrey of Anjou. But
the prospect of a female
sovereign with an
Angevin husband was
equally displeasing to the
Normans and the. Eng-
lish. The majority of the
barons on both sides of
the Channel preferred
the claim of Stephen of
Boulogne, who was,
through his mother, a
grandson of the Con-
queror, well known,
moreover, in England
and Normandy, and a
model of knightly excel-
lence. The precarious-
ness of his position as an


appointed prelates with Eadgyth, better known as Matilda, the queen elective sovereign

the insignia of spiritual ( Henry i., was the daughter of Malcolm, however, the strongest
office, but retained his * he kin& f s^iand and of Margaret, [t m hj favour.

former rights of patron-
age and feudal service practically un-
diminished. This compromise, though
leaving the Church as far as ever from the
freedom which it had been the object of


the grand-daughter of Edmund Ironsides.

The barons and the
Church alike sold their allegiance to him
on conditions. He was expected to abate
the rigid autocracy which his predecessor
had established, to restore to th*


Church her " freedom " of jurisdictions each successive treason. Unlicensed
and elections, to leave the great castles were rapidly multiplied and be-
feudatories practically sovereign in their came the nests of robber gangs which

fiefs. Disputes naturally
arose as to the fulfilment
of a compact so one-
sided ; disputes engen-
dered conspiracies, and
in his efforts to forestall
the conspirators Stephen
offended those men who
were the mainstay of his
government. He arrested
and despoiled Bishop
Roger of Salisbury, the
great justiciar to whom
the administrative re-
forms of Henry I. had
been due. The cause
of Roger was warmly
espoused by his fellow
churchmen, and furnished
a convenient pretext to


pillaged at large and
robbed on the highways.
The courts of the
Church profited by the
general anarchy to draw
into their net all suits
affecting clerks and
Church property. The
issue of the dynastic
struggle was ' decided
more by accident than
skill or strength. In 1141
Stephen was taken cap-
tive at the siege of Lin-
coln ; but in the same
year the Earl of Glouces-
ter fell into the hands of
the king's friends, and
the two captives were
exchanged. The Earl of

discontented barons. Helped to the throne by his personal popularity Gloucester died in 1 147,

on the death of Henry I. in 1135, Stephen, son , v ViprAiir>rm tVio TTm-rvroco

of the Conqueror's daughter, Adela, did not wn(

England in 1139; with remain in favour, and had to acknowledge Matilda retired from Eng-

Matildawas invited to

on the death of Henry I. in 1135, Stephen, son ,iTV, or oii-r>r>Ti

of the Conqueror's daughter, Adela, did not Wne

remain in favour, and had to acknowledge Matilda retil

the help of her half- Matilda ' s son Henry as heir t( ' land. The contest was

brother, Earl Robert of Gloucester, she taken up by her son, Henry of An jou, whose
gained possession of a considerable tract marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine, the
of country in and around the Severn divorced wife of Louis VII. of France, gave
valley, and castles were held in her him ample resources. In 1153 the death

name by rebels
throughout the
length and
breadth of Eng-
land. While
Stephen hurried
distractedly from
castle to castle,
and wasted in
small enterprises
the men and
money which
might have suf-
ficed for a deci-
sive campaign,
the northern
shires fell into
the hands of
David of Scot-
land, and the
great feudatories
sold their services
alternately to
him and to the
empress, gaining
new lands and
new powers of
jurisdiction by


of Stephen's
eldest son, the
ambitious Eus-
tace, paved the
way for a com-
promise ; by the
mediation of the
Church Stephen
was induced to
recognise the
young Angevin
as his coadjutor
and heir. The
anarchy came to
an end ; king
and count de-
voted themselves
harmoniously to
the suppression
of feudal licence ;
and in 1154 the
death of Stephen
brought his rival
to the throne
and opened a
brighter era in

itephen became a prisoner in the hands of the Empress Matilda, the national
n Maud Matilda's own cousin-^appeared before herto begfor , ,
land's release, she drove the sorrowing wife from her presence. History .

In 1141 Stephen became a prisoner in the hands of the Empress Matilda, the
and whei







HENRY II. was a true Angevin in his
restless activity, his unbounded re-
sourcefulness, and the furious determination
with which he beat down resistance to his
schemes. He had little sympathy with
the English character or English traditions,
and two -thirds of his reign were spent on
the Continent in protecting, consolidating,
or extending the heterogeneous collection
of French fiefs which he inherited from his
parents or acquired with his wife. But
his marvellous administrative ability
enabled him, in the intervals of other pur-
suits, to reform the whole fabric of English
government. He revived and improved
the fiscal machinery of his grandfather,
and by the Inquest of Sheriffs in 1170 tore
away from this office the privilege of
heredity, which had made the individual
sheriff in preceding reigns as dangerous to
the crown as any feudal baron. He gave
to the royal court of justice a fixed consti-
tution, placed it entirely in
the hands of professional

lawyers> and sep arated it

from the cabinet of adminis-
trative advisers. He extended the system
of itinerant justices and made their circuits
periodical. He modified the criminal law
by ordering that in every shire sworn
juries of inquest should be impanelled to
present the names of suspected criminals,
by forbidding the lords of private liberties
to protect such criminals against arrest,
and by limiting the opportunities of escape
from punishment which were afforded by
ecclesiastical sanctuaries and the ordeal.

In regard to the law of land, he sub-
stituted recognition by a jury for the
detested Norman trial by battle, and
offered new and more expeditious remedies
to those who complained of unlawful
dispossession. While refusing to give up
the royal rights of the chase and his
special jurisdiction over the forests, he did
something to codify and mitigate the
iniquitous forest laws. He reduced feudal
privileges within the limits fixed by the

of Henry II.

grants of his predecessors before 1135,
and while encouraging trade, granting
privileges to towns, and sanctioning the
formation of trade guilds with extensive
rights and monopolies, he prevented the
communal movement from extending
Henr 's mto ms dominions. London,
which was already in fact, and

Hand on the , . , J ,, ., ,

Church soon to be in law, the capital,
he held in check ; the illegal
commune disappeared, and the privileges
which the city had enjoyed under Henry I.
were curtailed.

These wonderful successes were not
unchequered with reverses. Henry at-
tempted to curtail the judicial privileges
of the Church, and with that end in view
appointed his chancellor, Thomas a Becket,
to the see of Canterbury in 1162. Class
feeling proved too strong for the personal
loyalty of this tried subordinate. Becket
obstinately resisted the king's wish to
bring criminous clerks and suits relating
to Church lands within the purview of
the royal courts. The claims of the Church
were contrary to the usage which had
obtained in the reigns of William I. and
Henry I. The king therefore took his
stand upon the " ancestral customs "
which he formulated in the Constitu-
tions of Clarendon in 1164. Becket went
into exile rather than observe the Consti-
tutions, and the fact that Henry had taken
this opportunity to forbid appeals to
Rome gave the archbishop the support
of the papacy.

The precarious position of the papacy,
then engaged in a fierce struggle with the
M f empire, protracted the struggle.

But Henry was at length com-
pelled to recall the archbishop ;
and when, in consequence of new
quarrels, Becket was murdered by over-
zealous supporters of the king, in 1170,
it was necessary for Henry to renounce
the constitutions altogether, in order
to escape sentence of excommunication.
On minor issues he and his successors



, Becket


evaded the consequences of renunciation;
but it was not until the advent of
the sixteenth century that the immunity
of criminous clerks from the secular
courts could be materially diminished.

On the continent also
Henry fought a losing
battle. Though he ac-
quired Brittany by a
marriage between his son
Geoffrey and the heiress
of that county, he failed
to conquer Toulouse, Au-
vergne, Berri, and the
French Vexin, possessions
which he coveted as a
means of strengthening his
frontier on the side of
France. His continental
possessions were divided
by violent provincial
feuds, and his sons on the
continent turned against


1169 and 1171 by the enterprise of Welsh
Marcher lords who, with the consent of
Henry, had taken service under Dermot,
king of Neath. In the latter year the
king visited Ireland to receive the homage
of the settlers and the
Irish clergy. His lord-
ship over Ireland is said
on good authority to have
been recognised by the
papacy, though doubt has
been cast on the genuine-
ness of the famous Bull
Laudabiliter, which is
vouched by his historians
to prove the grant.
Whatever its justifica-
tion, his authority was
soon recognised in form
by the whole of Ireland ;
the High King of Con-
naught and other native
rulers became his vassals,
while his warrior barons


one another and their

father, set province succeeding Stephen on the throne of England from England proceeded

against province, and [ n V 34 ' I i?,? f ry " - f by h !? J? arve . us admtois- steadily with the con-

o . ^ trative ability, reformed the whole fabric of **. i-

Called in the king OI English government. His later years were qUCSt OI the eastern dlS-

France to their aid. The crowded with t bles - and h * d " d in 8 9 - tricts of the island,
great king's end, in 1189, was accelerated The period of 1189-1215 was marked
by the humiliation of a defeat which he abroad by the loss of all the continental
experienced from a coalition of Richard possessions with the exception of Guienne,
and John, his eldest surviving sons, with at home by a reaction, partly if not mainly
the astute Philip Augus- EflRSHKHBHHnRBBBHI feudal, against the grow-
tus. His foreign empire
was built on shifting sand,
and only a few years more
were needed to involve the
whole fabric in utter ruin.
Against these reverses
we must, however, set the
extension of English in-
fluence in the British
Isles. At his accession
Henry recovered the


North of England from
the Scot, taking advant-
age of the death of David
and the minority of his
son, William the Lion.

In 1173 the latter em-
braced the cause of
Henry's rebellious sons QUEEN
and invaded

captured, he was not. re-
leased until he had recognised Henry as his
overlord by the treaty of Falaise. In Ireland
an Anglo-Norman occupation of the east
and south coasts was effected between


mg centralisation of
executive power, which
culminated in the barons'
war and the Great
Charter. The two sets
of events are closely
connected, for ill success
abroad increased taxa-
tion and discontent at
home. Both were the
natural result of circum-
stances, but both were
accelerated by the faults
of Henry's successors,
Richard and John. The
former took up the plan
which his father had
meditated, but wisely
AQUITAINE abandoned, of joining the

Nr>rtriprn The divorced queen of Louis VII., Eleanor of TbirH Trncarlp tr rprn\7pr

1 Aquitaine married King Henry 1 1., to whom she - reCOVCI

Defeated and brought considerable territory and a nominal Jerusalem from Saladhl,

over the west bank of the Rhone. *

the sultan of Egypt.
Hitherto England had played but a
subordinate part in the movement for
the exclusion of the infidel from the
Holy Land. Some volunteers had gone


to serve under Robert of Normandy
in the first expedition ; but those who
joined in the second had gone no
further than Lisbon, though the capture
of this Moorish stronghold was largely
due to the valour of the English con-
tingent. The first occasion on which
the English crown assisted the Crusaders
was in 1188, when Henry II. levied for
this purpose a tax of 10 per cent, on
movable property (the Saladin Tithe).

through which the regency met their
master's reiterated calls for fresh supplies,
and afterwards by the crushing taxes
which were needed for his ransom.

At the siege of Acre Richard quarrelled
with the Duke of Austria, Leopold V.
When the Crusade was abandoned, with
its main object, the recovery of Jerusalem,
unaccomplished, Richard was shipwrecked
in the Adriatic, and caught by the duke's
men while attempting to pass through


Appointed by Henry II. to be Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas & Becket became the champion of the rights of the
Church, and differences arose between him and the king. Believing Henry desired his primate's death, four of the
king's knighte attacked and assassinated him at the altar of Canterbury Cathedral on December 29th, 1170. The
death of this great prelate sent a thrill of horror through Europe. In 1220 Becket s bones were enshrined in a chapel of
the Cathedral ; for a long while pilgrimages were made to his tomb, and reverence was paid to him as a martyr and a saint

From the picture by C. H. Weigall

Austria in disguise. The full sum de-
manded for his release was $500,000 ; only
a part was paid, but, to raise this, one-
fourth of all rents and movable property
had to be collected from the Church and
laity. Nor was this the only bad result
of the Crusade. In Richard's absence his
brother John excited odium against the
chancellor, William Longchamp, whom the
king had left at the head of the govern-
ment. Longchamp was exiled from


Richard preferred to raise the funds for
his expedition by the sale of privileges,
offices, and crown demesnes, including
the Scottish suzerainty, which his father
had acquired by the Treaty of Falaise ;
and his force was composed mainly of
men who had taken the Crusading vow
and therefore served without reward. But
during the king's long absence from
August, 1190. to March, 1194 the nation
was harassed, at first by the exactions


England by the baronage ; and John then
proceeded to form an alliance with Philip
Augustus of France on the understanding
that the dominions of Richard should
be divided between them.
Normandy was invaded
by French forces, and
John succeeded in raising
a rebellion in England.

Although both attacks
failed before the vigorous
measures of the new re-
gents, they left effects
which were felt for the
rest of Richard's reign.
He found himself involved
in an interminable war of
skirmishes and intrigues
against the King of
France ; and the English
baronage was encouraged
by John's example to
resist the financial
demands which the con-
tinental war entailed,
The Great Council, which
hitherto had been a source
of strength to the crown,
readily lending the weight of its name
to new laws and new taxation, now
became an instrument of opposition ; and
the whole system of
Henry II. was called in
question by the leaders of
discontent. Something
was done by Richard's
able minister, the primate,
Hubert Walter, to con-
ciliate the lower classes
and the minor tenants in
chief. A part of the
duties hitherto performed
by the sheriff were taken
from that unpopular
official and entrusted to
coroners elected in every
shire ; and a new tax on
land, the carucage a
substitute for the earlier
Danegeld was allowed
to be assessed by elected
juries from 1194. Thus
the right of self-govern-
ment, of which the shires
had been so long deprived,
was partially restored to them, and the
middle class of landowners, who served as
coroners and assessors,were trained for their
more difficult political duties of the future.


Going on a Crusade to the Holy Land, he
defeated the Saracens, but failed to reach
Jerusalem. He was made prisoner in 1 192 by
Leopold, Duke of Austria, and kept in captivity
for two years. Richard passed less than one
year of his reign in residence in England.

But these boons, intended to mitigate the
unpopularity of heavy taxation, were
imperfectly appreciated, and Hubert
Walter fell from power, sacrificed as a
scapegoat to his master's

Equally unsuccessful
were the efforts of John
to conciliate the trading
towns. As regent after
Longchamp's expulsion,
the prince had sold to
London the right of set-
ting up a commune. It
was a new departure, for
hitherto the crown had
jealously denied the
boroughs the privilege of
self-government ; but a
number of similar con-
cessions were made to
other towns of England
and Ireland in the period
of John's reign. Thus
the development of re-
presentative institutions
in the boroughs kept pace
with the similar develop-
ment in the shires . But shires and boroughs
alike were soon alienated from the cause of
John, and London played a great part
in the struggle for the
Charter of Liberties.

For John the beginning
of troubles was the feud
with the French mon-
archy, which, in spite of
his previous friendship
with Philip Augustus,
devolved upon him in
1199 at the same time
as the crown of England.
Philip's first expedient
was to support the claims
of John's nephew, Arthur
of Brittany, to the French
dominions of the house
ofAnjou. Arthur's career
ended in 1202, when he
was captured by his uncle.

She was the daughter of Sancho VI. of shortly afterwards aSSaS-
Navarre, and was married to Richard in shiated, but the indigna-
tion which this crime
provoked encouraged
Philip to stretch his rights of suzerainty
to their fullest extent. On various pre-
texts he declared John's continental pos-
sessions forfeit ; and in 1204 the English

Cyprus, in 1191, while the English king
was on his way to the wars in the Holy Land.


were expelled without much resistance
from Normandy, Maine, Anjou, and
Touraine. The English baronage refused
to help in defending these provinces
on the plea that they were not bound
to foreign service ; still less would
they aid with men or money the ex-
peditions which the king planned in later
years for the recovery of his inheritance.

When John retaliated by punishing Lang-
ton's supporters with banishment and
confiscation, the land was laid under an
interdict, which was taken off in 1213 only
upon condition that John recognised the
papal candidate. John then endeavoured
to secure the help of Rome against his
irritated subjects by doing homage to
Innocent for his dominions. The new arch-
bishop, however, although
the nominee of Innocent,
and ordered to support the
king, placed himself at the
head of the baronial op-
position. The demands of
the party were formulated
in 1214, while John was
engaged in his final effort
to recover the Angevin pos-
sessions. These demands,
based upon the charter of
Henry I., were embodied in
a great document of the
same character. They
were presented to John at
the sword's point on his
return, when, deserted by
all but a few adherents, he
was finally forced to sign
the new (or Great) Charter
at Runnymede, near Wind-
sor, on June I5th, 1215.

This famous document
effected little change in
the institutions of central
and local government, nor
was such reform the object
of the authors. Magna
Charta enumerates those
liberties of the various
orders in the state which
had been most flagrantly
infringed during the pre-
ceding three reigns. It
consists of special promises

j. Q ^ ne Ch urcn the


The coronation of the Crusading king took place on September 3rd 1189 the th freg towns the ordinary

ceremony being marked by great pomp and splendour. In the illustration, which

shows the procession along the aisle of the Abbey, the Earl of Albemarle is freemen, and the VllleiHS.

seen carrying the crown, while over the head of Richard is a silken canopy, The Crown's rights Were

supported by four iances, each one being held by a great baron of the kingdom, jjjore Carefully defined

The quarrel with the barons had and limited than heretofore. Abstract

principles were, on the whole, avoided.
But certain promises of a more general
character, and affecting all classes equally,
were included in the Charter for example,

already become acute when, in 1208,
the king involved himself in a feud with
the Church, by attempting to force into
the primacy a creature of his own, John
Grey, the Bishop of Norwich. Innocent
III., to whom the monks of Canterbury
appealed, encouraged them to elect
an English cardinal, Stephen Langton.


that justice should not be sold, delayed,
or denied to any man ; that no judicial
penalty should be inflicted except by
lawful process ; that fines should be



proportionate to offences ; and that no
extraordinary feudal aids or scutages
should be levied without the consent of
the Great Council.

The Charter was no sooner signed than
the terms of peace were violated on
both sides. The barons declined to disarm ;
the king collected mercenaries from
abroad and obtained a papal dispensation

Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 48 of 55)