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whole laymen of the kingdom were universally in favour of Henry. The clergy, however, resisted. None of the Bishops would take the oath; Becket's mandates and denunciations found their way freely into England; many of the high beneficed ecclesiastics retired into monasteries, declaring their resolution of obeying both the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury; and everything shewed Henry that, should the interdict be passed, and sentence of excommunication pronounced upon himself, the whole clergy of his realm would not only resist his authority, but would use every means which superstition supplied, to induce the laymen of the kingdom to disregard the oath they had lately taken.
Under these circumstances, by causing his son Henry to be crowned King of England, he gave the nation a sovereign who had in no degree offended the Church of Rome, or merited her censuresfrom which substitution much obvious good might arise—while he retained to himself all the real power of the state, and only interposed the shield of his son's innocence between his realm and the papal thunders. But a difficulty existed: it had been held a prerogative of the see of Canterbury, -though not without frequent dispute—that the Primate should anoint the kings of England. No Archbishop of Canterbury was in the kingdom to perform this office; and Henry determined that it should be executed by the Archbishop of York,
who had from the first shown himself inimical to Becket. The exile himself had ever been most anxious to perform the ceremony ; and having gained some information of the King's design, he obtained hastily from Alexander a mandate, forbidding any other bishop than himself to consecrate Henry's heir, and declaring the coronation of the kings of England to belong of right to the see of Canterbury. This mandate however he was not able to make known in England till long after Henry's object was accomplished; and in the mean time a letter from the Pope, bearing every appearance of authenticity,* was given to the Archbishop
. * It has been loudly asserted by Catholic writers that this letter was a forgery. It would seem improbable, indeed, that Alexander would so far commit himself as to give under his hand, within the space of a few weeks, two mandates perfectly contradictory of each other, and always to mention the one opposed to this as the only one he had given. Neither have we any proof that Henry, even in the slightest degree, attempted to justify his own act, or that of the Archbishop of York, by authority given to him by the Pope on this occasion; though he refers to an ancient mandate given before Becket was raised to the see of Canterbury. On the other hand, in support of Lord Lyttleton's view of the genuineness of this document, is the fact of the Pope acting at that very time similar double dealing in regard to other matters. It will be seen, by the letter that I have transcribed regarding the legates, of the genuineness of which there is not the slightest doubt, that Alexander was playing an insincere game with Becket, entering into engagements obnoxious to Becket's views, and beseeching Henry to keep his promises profoundly secret, and to suffer his letter to be seen by no one.
of York, directly opposed to that which was shortly afterwards received by Becket. By this the Archbishop of York was authorised to perform the ceremony, and the coronation of the Prince accordingly took place at his hands.
Henry's fondness for his son is said to have led him on this occasion into acts unbecoming his dignity, both as a father and a king. During the banquet which followed the ceremony, he placed a dish with his own hands upon the table of the prince; and if we may believe the accounts of a writer not exactly contemporary, but very nearly so, the younger Henry, on the Archbishop of York noticing the honour which was paid him, replied that "it was no great honour for the son of a king to be served by the son of a count.” But as this was written after the Prince had displayed his haughty and ungovernable temper, it is not at all improbable that the saying was manufactured to suit the character. The coronation took place in June; and it is particularly remarked, that all orders of the state gladly consented to the act that was now performed. The same was also the case in regard to that negociation which ended in the nominal reconciliation of Becket and the King, Alexander having settled the whole with Henry, even to the very form of words to be used, keeping it profoundly secret from Becket. In addition to these facts, the letter is to be found in the two best manuscripts of the correspondence in regard to this dispute ; and its exclusion from the castrated manuscript of the Vatican is no impeachment of its authenticity.
Scarcely was the coronation of Henry completed, however, when the act produced consequences of a disastrous nature. The King of France, indignant that the ceremony had been performed without that of the Princess Margaret of France, the Prince's wife, instantly took arms to avenge the insult which he thought had been offered to his daughter, and attacked the frontiers of Normandy with his usual furious intemperance. As soon as Henry was informed that such had been the case, he hastened back with all speed into France, to soothe by fair words, rather than to oppose by arms, the French monarch. It was not difficult for him to show, that, if he had not proceeded with some degree of secrecy,* he might have encountered opposition from Becket, which would have greatly embarrassed his proceedings; and he assured the King of France, that the ceremony should be repeated, as soon as the pageantry of royalty could be prepared for the Princess.
The Count of Blois would appear to have been the mediator on this occasion; and Henry's excuse was probably the true one; for there is some reason to believe that the young Prince himself was not made acquainted with his father's intention till within a short period before his own coronation.
As soon as this matter was fully explained, Louis
* This would appear from the manner in which the Prince was suddenly called to England, Richard of Ivelcester being sent for him suddenly to Caen.
consented to meet Henry in a meadow at Freteval,* in the neighbourhood of Vendôme, where peace was restored between them, and where Henry was prevailed upon to receive Becket upon an agreement in regard to his submission, which specified distinctly the terms of their reconciliation. These terms were no other than those which Henry himself had shortly before proposed to the Pope; but the English monarch having made up his mind to a disagreeable task, in his effort to overcome his repugnance, went beyond the point at which he ought to have stopped; and he displayed much greater familiarity and goodwill towards the refractory prelate than was dignified or safe. He received him in the midst of his court, surrounded by a number of French and English nobles, though the King of France himself was not present. As soon as he beheld the Archbishop, he advanced some way to meet him, spoke to him familiarly, promised to restore all things which had been taken from the church of Canterbury, as they were
* The name of this place has been wrongly written, and the place itself mistaken. Dr. Lingard calls it Freitville, but I am rather inclined to believe that there is no such place upon the face of the earth. I know of none such in France. Freteval is situated very near to Vendôme," on the Loir, which in that neighbourhood is employed in the various purposes of papermills and cloth manufactories. This river, be it remarked, is not the Loire, though the similarity of name has probably caused some of the many mistakes which have been made regarding Freteval.