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during the autumn and winter of 1164 and 1165, the most formidable rising took place which the English King ever had to encounter in any part of his dominions. A parliament, which met at Northampton in the former year, raised troops for the purpose of making head against Rees ap Gryffyth ; but such were the embarrassments under which Henry laboured from his dissensions with Becket, and from the part which the King of France and the Pope, Alexander, had taken in the dispute, that it was the middle of 1165 before he was enabled to use any vigorous measures for subduing the insurrection of the Welsh.
In order to see what the embarrassments were, which thus shackled the active powers of Henry's mind, it may be necessary now to give some account of the dissensions which had arisen between the King and Becket since the elevation of the latter to the see of Canterbury. Scarcely had the Prelate taken possession of his new dignity than a change came over his whole demeanour. It might be that he was seized with remorse for his former course of life; or it might be, that with the same skilful adaptation of means to an end which he had displayed throughout his whole career, he now made use of every appearance of profound devotion and sanctity, seeing that the elevation which he had so suddenly attained, required that ambition should change its path, and put on the flowing robes of zeal and enthusiasm. If we reject the one or the other of these suppositions, we can but conclude that the Archbishop was one of those Protean characters, the whole form and feature of whose mind suddenly yield under the pressure of circumstances; that he who was the general in the field, the knight in the saddle, the courtier in the hall, the minister in the council, the diplomatist in the cabinet, merely from an honest and straightforward intention of doing well and skilfully in the situation in which he was placed, became also, in one moment, from the change of circumstances, the zealous and devoted churchman, and cameleon-like, received from the shades of his dim cathedral the grey hue of monastic enthusiasm and religious fervour.
We would fain receive the best view of the prelate's character; and did we not perceive that every change of direction which his vast and versatile powers assumed, tended to his own immediate elevation and the promotion of his own interest, even to the subversion of principles which he had at other times professed, we might conceive those changes to have proceeded from the simple impulses of an honest heart employing a subtle and powerful mind. Or did we find that humility of conduct succeeded reformation of manners—that the hard bed and the frugal meal excluded pride, haughtiness, subtlety, and love of power—we might imagine that his last alteration of demeanour took
place from penitence not ambition, and that the object was changed, rather than the means.
However that may be, no sooner did Becket feel the mitre on his brow, than all the externals of the man were changed; luxuries were banished from his table, long trains of glittering domestics from his palace ; his conversation was of spiritual things; his companions clergymen and monks; he was regular and devout in the offices of religion; and secret penances, and half-hidden mortifications, were whispered with wonder through the court of the new Archbishop. While Henry was still zealous in his favour, Becket sent him back the great seal, declaring that the post of Chancellor was incompatible with the high duties of his clerical station, for which he could scarcely suffice: but in doing so, it would seem that he at once opened the eyes of the King, who, notwithstanding his longestablished partiality, now saw, or believed he saw, that the Archiepiscopal dignity had changed the object of Becket's ambition. Perhaps Henry argued, that if Becket resigned his post out of conscientious motives, and because he no longer regarded worldly wealth and authority, he would have given up at the same time the Archdeaconry of Canterbury, which was certainly not compatible with the mitre of the same see. Many another office or emolument he might have yielded also with equal dignity and propriety ; but we find that the Archdeaconry was wrung from him with the greatest difficulty, and that he defended his least possession with the utmost pertinacity.,
The doubts which had taken possession of the mind of Henry in consequence of Becket's resig. nation of his office of Chancellor, might produce the first coldness of the King towards him. But certain it is, that on the monarch's return from France in 1163, he received the Archbishop, who met him at Southampton, with a demeanour greatly altered, and it became evident to the whole court that Becket was no longer the favourite. Other causes of dissension speedily appeared; but the first direct opposition which Henry met with from his former chancellor, was in regard to some of the most useful and beneficial purposes which that monarch ever entertained. The subject has been embarrassed by long and complicated details which have nothing to do with it, and all the arts of sophistry have been employed to give a colouring of justice to the resistance of Becket; but I find the main matter in dispute so clearly set forth in the somewhat homely words of Roger Hoveden, that I cannot do better than translate them in this place.*
* The original words of Hoveden are as follows :-Rex enim volebat presbyteros, diaconos, subdiaconos, et alios ecclesiæ rectores, si comprehensi fuissent in latrocinio, vel murdrâ, vel feloniâ, vel iniquâ combustione, vel in his similibus, ducere ad secularia examina, et punire, sicut et laicum. Contra quod Archiepiscopus dicebat, quod si clericus in sacris ordinibus constitutus, vel quilibet alius rector ecclesiæ, calumniatus fuerit “ The King," he says, “desired that presbyters, deacons, sub-deacons, and other rectors of churches, if they should be detected in robbery or murder, or felony, or arson, or similar things to these, should be brought to secular examination, and punished like laymen : on the contrary, the Archbishop said that if a clerk duly ordained, or any other rector of a church should be accused of any thing, he should be judged by ecclesiastics, and by an ecclesiastical court, and if convicted, his orders should be stripped off; and thus deprived of office, and of benefit of clergy, if afterwards he became criminal, he should be judged according to the will of the king and his bailiffs.”
At the very first view, the King's purpose was evidently just and reasonable ; and the eagerness of determination with which he pursued that purpose might have drowned all opposition; and most likely would have done so, if the original grounds of the question had not soon been lost sight of, in the fierce struggles of Becket to maintain the unjust exemptions and privileges for his order. The causes of Henry's eagerness, to which we have just alluded, are thus described by William of Newbury: “ The king being busy in the care of his kingdom, and commanding that all malefactors
de aliqua re, per viros ecclesiasticos et in curiâ ecclesiasticâ debet judicari, et si convictus fuerit, ordines suos amittere, et sic alienatus ab officio, et benefico ecclesiastico, si postea foris fecerit, secundum voluntatem regis, et bailivorum suorum judicetur.