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shown any very marked and offensive neglect of his duties as a churchman and a minister, in an age when the license and debauchery of the clergy was probably at its height.
A third prelate speedily brought over to the party of Stephen, was William, Archbishop of Canterbury, a person of a weak mind, destitute of all firmness and resolution, who had long been under the influence of the Bishop of Winchester, and was accustomed to yield to him in every thing. So much indeed was this the case, that he could not refrain from following his guidance, even on occasions where it is distinctly proved that he knew the wrong he was committing.
Notwithstanding all the preparations which had been made to ensure success to the enterprise of Stephen, he met with two rebuffs on his arrival in England, which might have checked the career of a less bold and ambitious man. Dover, then important as a fortress, refused to give him admission; and Canterbury, a large, wealthy, and distinguished town, shut her gates against the usurper. He hastened on, however, towards the capital undismayed; and in the City of London was received with joy and gratulation. His purpose was now no longer disguised. Educated in England, renowned in arms, liberal, courteous, affable, wherever Stephen was known, he was popular with all classes; and the citizens of the metropolis hastened to testify their affection, by proclaiming him King of England.
Stephen then proceeded to Winchester, where a reception as gratifying awaited him, and where voices, in those days more important than the acclamations of any town, were to be sought and won. These were the voices of the clergy and nobility of the realm; and the previous exertions of the Bishop of Winchester now began to show their fruit. The usurper was here met by the Archbishop of Canterbury, by the Bishop of Salisbury, and by a person whose coöperation was most important to the success of his enterprise:-namely, William du Pont de l'Arche, to whom jointly, it would appear, with the Bishop of Salisbury, Henry I. had entrusted his immense treasure.
It is probable that a part of this treasure might of right appertain to the nation; but undoubtedly the greater part was Henry's own private property, which should have fallen to Matilda by every principle of law and justice. The false guardians, however, to whom it had been entrusted, instantly gave it up to her rival; and with her own money Stephen proceeded to buy her own subjects. The Bishop of Salisbury was rewarded by a donation of the town of Malmsbury, and by the appointment of his illegitimate son to the post of Chancellor; while his nephew, the Bishop of Ely, was created Treasurer; and had he demanded ten times more, there can be no doubt that he would have obtained it; for Stephen's situation, and the power of the Bishop, rendered the Prince's sincerity unquestionable, when
he said, in speaking of that prelate, “ By the Nativity of God, if he were to ask me for one half my kingdom, I would grant it to him, till this season be past."
The same views which moved the Bishop of Salisbury brought many other nobles and prelates round the usurper, though the great body of the nobility came so slowly, that Stephen might well entertain some apprehensions. The Archbishop, too, was not without scruples in regard to the oath of fealty three times taken to Matilda; and others might feel the same hesitation. An expedient was easily found for removing this difficulty. Ingratitude, treason, and breach of trust, had gone before; a little perjury was now the only thing required; and Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, Steward of the Household, was brought forward to swear that Henry on his death-bed had declared his vassals free of the oaths they had taken to Matilda and her son. Stephen found greater facility after this impudent falsehood was promulgated; and though we cannot follow him step by step through his career, it may be necessary to say that he was crowned upon certain promises regarding the rights of the Barons, and the privileges and authority of the church.
The ceremony took place on the 22nd December, 1135, just twenty days after the death of Henry the First: in the beginning of the following year, the body of the deceased King was brought to England for interment; and Stephen hastened to shew every mark of reverence to the corpse of him whose living will he had set at nought. He afterwards proceeded to Oxford, and there announced to a great assembly of the nobility and clergy, that his title to the throne of England had been confirmed by the Papal authority. He renewed about the same time all his oaths and promises, pledging himself not to retain in his hands those bishoprics and abbeys which might become vacant during his reign, to restore the old laws, and to abolish many of the restrictions which had been placed upon the rights of chase. There is a curious reservation in this oath, however, as he ends by declaring, “that he grants the whole, with a saving to his just and royal dignity.”*
The Nobles and the Clergy renewed to him their oaths in return; but in the engagements of the Clergy we find a saving clause also which many of the lay Barons likewise inserted. They only promised that they would be faithful to him while he preserved the liberties of the Church, and the vigour of discipline; and such vague expressions of course left the oaths little better than empty air : if indeed Stephen could, under any circumstances, regard the pledges of men who had so lately broken a vow three times repeated, as aught but a mere mockery.
While all these events were taking place, the Em
* His words are:-“Hæc omnia concedo et confirmo. Salva regia et justa dignitate mea.”
press Matilda had in the first instance gone on unconscious of the treachery of her cousin; had entered Normandy from Anjou, and had been received without opposition; but her condition even in Normandy was soon changed. She herself was arrogant, presumptuous and violent. Geoffrey showed himself capricious, rash, and tyrannical. What the Normans might have borne from their native princess, they would not bear from her foreign husband. Great excesses, it would seem, marked his entrance into the province, and the people rose and drove him out at the point of the spear.
News now reached Normandy of Stephen's usurpation of the crown of England, while the Norman Barons, disgusted with the conduct both of Matilda and Geoffrey, were preparing to dispose of the Ducal wreath to some person more worthy of respect. The emissaries of Stephen took advantage of the moment, to urge the claims of their master, and to set forth the evil consequences of separating Normandy from England. Their reasoning was effectual, and the Barons consented to acknowledge him as Duke ; although he was very far from obtaining possession of the whole Duchy, as a result of this recognition, which we shall presently have occasion to shew more at large.
As Lord Lyttleton has justly observed, “Stephen neither knew how to govern as a lawful king or a tyrant;" and while he permitted, and pledged himself to permit, his turbulent Barons to fortify themselves