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had occasion to speak of as the Bishop of Beauvais, but who had now been elevated to Rheims. Not long after, namely in the month of July of the same year, he wrote to the Bishop of Soissons also, beseeching him to employ his whole influence in his favor with the king of France, and if possible to prevent him from going to the meeting with Frederic. This letter was written from Mende, while the Pope himself was hurrying from Montpelier to intercept Louis on his passage towards the Saône.* The excuse which Alexander made to cover the real purpose of his journey, was that a severe famine was at that time felt in Montpelier. But such could not be his true motive, as we learn from William of Nangis, that the same famine desolated the whole of France. There can be no doubt, that having learnt the exact time when Louis proposed to set out to meet the Emperor, he now hastened to confer with him by the way, in order, if possible, to prevent him from keeping the engagements entered into by the Count of Champagne. It is possible, indeed, that Louis himself may have summoned him, as he had promised the Emperor to bring him to the conference; but at all events, the Pope hurried his journey as soon as the King's intentions
* Lord Lyttleton and many other historians have mistakingly asserted, that Alexander quitted Montpelier in the month of June; this could not be the case, for there is still extant a Bull signed by his hand, in the ides of July, 1162, dated from the City of Montpelier. This document is dated in full, both with the year of indiction of the Papacy, and of Christ.
were known, and arrived in Auvergne towards the middle of August, while Louis on his part advanced into the Bourbonnois, and took up his abode at the monastery of Souvigni. At the latter place, conferences took place between the Pope and the King; and although Alexander firmly refused to go to the proposed meeting, he gained an influence over the mind of the French monarch, which never after failed.
Louis was perplexed by his resolute opposition, and more than once became angry, insinuating, that if Alexander were really innocent of the charges brought against him by the Emperor, he would not shun an investigation in which his innocence must appear; but nevertheless, he appears to have been much impressed with the dignity and imposing demeanour of the Pontiff, while all his habitual thoughts and feelings took part with Alexander, and acknowledged the principle upon which he grounded his resistance: a principle to which Louis had been devotedly subservient during the whole of his reign and life; namely, the supremacy of the Roman Church, and its independence of all temporal authority.
A small concession made by the Pontiff in this part of the transaction, in all probability, did much to regain the favor of the king, without at all sacrificing his own views. He agreed that Louis should be followed to the meeting with Frederic by some of the Cardinals who had accompanied him into
France; but it was expressly stipulated and understood, that they were not there to plead his cause, or to make the slightest submission on his part, but merely to declare his right before the Bishops and Nobles there assembled. This was all that Louis could obtain, and he then set forth to meet Frederic, very much perplexed by the determination of Alexander, though resolved, it would seem, not absolutely to abandon his cause.
On the arrival of the King of France at Dijon, the situation of all parties in Europe was very extraordinary. Louis himself was accompanied by very few military followers, being surrounded, as · was usually the case, by a number of ecclesiastics. The Emperor, on the contrary, had collected an immense force immediately on the other side of the Saône, being followed to the place of conference by a multitude of the Princes and Nobles of the empire, forming a large body of well disciplined soldiers, whom he had just led to victory under the walls of the devoted city of Milan. In the mean. while, Alexander remained at a distance from the scene, watching the events; and Henry the Second of England, at the head of a considerable army, which he had not been weak enough to disband in consequence of a truce with so fickle a monarch as Louis, held himself ready within his own continental dominions, to act as circumstances might require.
The whole fate of Europe was at this moment in the balance, and a few hours decided some of the
greatest events in history. At Dijon, the King of France was met by the Count of Champagne, who immediately communicated to him the treaty he had entered into with the Emperor; but Louis would willingly have denied that the powers of the Count had been sufficiently extensive to pledge his Sovereign to such important acts. The Count of Champagne, indeed, had the king's own letter for his authority; but the consequence of the situation in which they were respectively placed, was a sharp altercation between the monarch and his ambassador, which of course tended to irritate the mind of Louis against Victor. The Count of Champagne, however, had pledged himself to the Emperor in a manner which rendered any breach of the agreement on the part of Louis, a most dangerous step. In signing the treaty with the Emperor, it would appear, the Count promised on oath, that if the Sovereign whom he represented failed to perform the conditions which he subscribed, he would convey his homage from Louis to the Emperor, and hold his vast and important territories, on the north and east frontier of France, as a fief from Frederic.
Louis hesitated, and at the time appointed for the first conference, the Emperor and Victor appeared upon the bridge of St. Jean de Losne, with a splendid train of nobles and ecclesiastics; but Louis and Alexander did not keep the engagement. Alexander, on his part, it was well known, would not come; and Frederic, after waiting a short time for the appearance of the King of France, retired with indignation, reproaching Louis bitterly for his want of faith and courtesy
At his departure he left some deputies to confer with the French monarch in case he should come in the end, but those deputies had no power to agree to any proposal respecting new arrangements; and the very next day the Count of Champagne notified to the French king, that, according to the oath he hath taken, he felt himself bound immediately to transfer his homage to the Emperor, the King of France having failed to keep the engagement which his ambassador had been authorized to make in his name. The situation of the King of France was now lamentable. He could expect nothing but immediate war at the hands of the Emperor, and he was totally unprepared to resist it. Frederic was within a few miles of him at the head of a large army, which might make him a prisoner at any time by a sudden advance; and one of the principal vassals of his crown was about to abandon him, in order to swell the party of the monarch he had just incensed. Under these circumstances, Louis acceded to a proposal which he would not have entertained for a moment, in a less desperate state of affairs, and bound himself to attend a Council at the end of three weeks, to bring with him Alexander, to hear the cause of the two Pontiffs tried, and to abide by the decision of the Notables of France and Germany, by whom it was to be judged.