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suffered Becket to confer with the rest of the prelates apart, and their reply went to sustain the Archbishop's views, as I have already given them from Hoveden. The King next demanded, whether the Bishops would observe the ancient customs and laws of the realm; and probably there had never before been a period in England, when that question would have produced any hesitation; but on the present occasion, at the dictation it would appear of Becket, the Bishops, with only one exception, replied that they would observe those customs, as far as they could, saving the privileges of their order, and the honour of God and the Holy
injure his cause, insinuates that it was upon one single case--that of Philip de Brois—that Henry called his clergy together, and “required their consent that for the future whenever a clergyman had been degraded for a public crime, he should be immediately delivered into the custody of a lay officer to be punished by the sentence of a lay tribunal.” This is by no means a just statement; and if-putting aside the account of Stephanides, who, where Becket is concerned, cannot be received by any candid critic—we compare Diceto with Hoveden and with William of Newbury, the one a priest, the other a monk, and enquire what the King did demand and upon what grounds, we shall find that Henry, discovering that the clergy were in the custom of committing robbery, rape, and homicide with impunity, (vide Guil. Neubrig. lib ii. cap. 16.) demanded of his clergy and people, that according to the laws of his grandfather, if any clergyman should be taken in (comprehensus,) the commission of robbery, murder, felony, arson, or any similar crime, he should be examined and unished as a layman. Hovedon, pars: post: Henric. II.
Church; the interpretation of which reservation was not difficult. *
Henry, indignant, quitted the assembly, with very slight effort to change this determination, saying, that he saw the Bishops were arrayed against him. The next morning he deprived Becket of the preceptorship of his son Henry, and took from him the custody of various places which had long been entrusted to him. Becket was greatly mortified, it would seem, at this result; but his daring and determined spirit rose to resist rather than to yield. We find, clearly, that the whole of the lay nobility were strenuous in support of the King ; but the Bishops on the contrary seem to have been either overawed by the superior abilities of Becket, ,or by the fear of offending Rome; and nothing could induce them to declare openly against that prelate, although the good sense of many of them might lead them to side in opinion with the King. This was the case probably with the Bishop of London, and certainly with the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Chichester; and a number of those who did not choose to declare
* The account of Hoveden is slightly different, but in no material particular. He says that of the convocation in 1164, Henry asked, if for his love and service, and for the stability of the kingdom, they would receive and keep the laws of Henry, his grandfather. He goes on to state that Becket answered for them all, saying, “That they would keep them, saving in all things, his order, the honour of God, and the Holy Church."
themselves openly, laboured zealously with Becket in private for the purpose of inducing him to make the promise exacted by the King, without the saving clause, which rendered it of no effect. No sort of influence was left unemployed, and the Bishop of Lisieux is said to have come from France in order to prevail upon him to enter into some compromise with Henry.
Nothing was found effectual, however; Becket remained not only obdurate, but the Bishop of Lisieux, in one of his letters, leads us to believe that he spoke with contempt of the King, and utter disregard of his authority. * It would appear
* In the collection of Beckets correspondence, quite sufficient materials are to be found for judging of the character of the man, and refuting the claims to sanctity which have been set up in his favour, though not, perhaps, to elucidate all the events of his life. Much curious matter is to be found in a letter (No. 85), from Ernulfus of Lisieux, which affords proof—although a modern writer has asserted that "by his contemporaries Becket's change of conduct on his elevation was universally attributed to a conscientious sense of duty,”- that there were not wanting many persons to assert that “his ambition was more fully gratified to hold the power independently, and from reverence for his ecclesiastical dignity, which he had formerly possessed from the favoar and at the will of another; that being once thus raised, he could not be content to sit at the foot of the throne, or even by its side, but menaced the crown itself, intending to bring it so far into subservience to his authority, that the power to be. stow and support it should principally rest with the church; that he began with opposing the King's commands, in order that every thing might seem to be absolutely under his rule, as no
that amongst those who pressed him the most eagerly to submit to the royal authority, were two Knights Templars, Richard of Hastings, and Tostes de Saint Omers, to whom Henry had shown great favour, after they had been driven from France for yielding to him the castles of the Norman Vexin; and it would seem that they prevailed more with him than any other persons. Nevertheless he still resisted ; and negociations took place between Henry and the Pope, in order to obtain a mandate from Alexander, addressed to the Bishops of England, and commanding them to observe the ancient customs and laws of the realm. This was doubtless undertaken in the hope that Alexander's infinite obligations to Henry would induce him to follow the steps of Calixtus the Second, who had granted such a confirmation of the customs of England to Henry the First.
It now appeared that Henry had made a lamentable mistake in supporting Alexander against the Emperor Frederic. Had the King of England either maintained that prelate's claims upon the papacy who had announced opinions favourable to his own views, which was the case with Victor; or had he even refrained from aiding that prelate who had openly declared principles totally
hope of resistance could be entertained by others, when the royal authority itself was forced to succumb." This was the man whose conduct was attributed universally to a conscientious sense of duty.”
subversive of his wise intentions, till such time as he had established firmly the laws with which he now sought to bridle the licentiousness of the clergy, the English monarch would have found either a willing cooperator in Alexander, under the fear of total abandonment, or else a sure resource in Victor, whose views were perfectly compatible with his own. The Pope refused the King's request, except under conditions which would have rendered his consent null; and Becket had now the clear and distinct support of the papal approbation in his struggle with the King, with the nobility, and with the laws.
On various points connected with this part of the history, different statements exist, which create considerable confusion and obscurity. It is distinctly asserted by Hoveden, however, that about this time, Philip, the Pope's almoner, was sent to England for the purpose of quieting the dissensions which had arisen between Henry and the Archbishop; and that he was authorized by the supreme Pontiff, and the Cardinals, to command Becket to promise that he would keep all the laws without exception. Nothing can be more clear than the words of the historian; and it is also certain, that the Archbishop did shortly after join Henry at Woodstock and promise unreservedly to observe the customs of the kingdom. The eulogists of Becket have attempted to soften down this act with assertions so ridiculous, as to be un