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on their way; and ere they could reach Frascati, where the Pope then was, he had received a thousand contradictory statements in regard to their coming. At first they had great difficulty in obtaining a hearing; when admitted to a public audience, their voices were drowned in clamour; and when afterwards they were indulged with a private hearing, they could draw no favourable answer from the pontiff. They were subsequently admitted to another public audience, in which the two chaplains of Becket pleaded against them; and they were ultimately informed, even by the cardinals most friendly to England, that it was the Pope's intention on the Thursday before Easter, to pronounce sentence of excommunication against the King, and of interdict against the realm of England, as well as to confirm the decree of Becket in regard to the bishops.
Three of Henry's ambassadors had stayed behind at Sienna, on account of the dangers of the road between that place and Frascati ; but those who had gone on were so terrified by the papal who had gone on were so te menaces, that they took an oath, that their master should obey implicitly whatever mandate the Pope should issue. Their colleagues, however, on arriving from Sienna, were startled at a concession which went far beyond their instructions, and refused to enter into such an engagement. The Pope, upon this, became furious, confirmed the interdict of the Archbishop of Sens, and forbade Henry to
enter any church. He however promised to send legates to see his humility; a term which like many other papal expressions, meant more than it seemed to imply at first sight. Very speedily however, a change was worked in Alexander's counsels. The Bishops of London and Salisbury were absolved upon easy terms. The other sentences were suspended; the Pope wrote to Henry with his own hand, inviting him to humility; and there can be very little doubt, that about the same time, the pecuniary resources of many members of the college of cardinals were considerably increased by the bounty of a grateful and expectant monarch.
Such being the case, and it appearing certain both to Henry himself and to others, that his absolution would be easily obtained, that monarch ventured to leave his continental dominions, where he had been once more detained far longer than was expedient. He returned to England on the seventh of August 1171, and immediately proceeded to execute an enterprise which was calculated to increase his reputation, and for which all the circumstances were extremely favourable. No disturbances, no tumult whatever, had taken place in consequence of the death of Becket; though it would appear that the young King had apprehended some evil to result from the gathering together of such a number of enthusiasts as began to frequent the shrine of the martyr. Nothing of the kind, however, occurred; and there can be little
doubt that the great body of the English nobility, though they very likely would not have countenanced in any way the deed that had been perpetrated, rejoiced in the deliverance of the realm from such a pest as Becket had proved himself. Thus everything in England was tranquil.
In Wales an immense change had taken place, favourable in the highest degree to the views of Henry. Owen Gwyneth had died about two years before, after a troublous, but glorious and memorable reign. He left behind him a multitude of children by various wives and concubines. His eldest legi. timate son, who, according to the usage which was beginning to prevail throughout Europe, would have naturally succeeded to the throne, was excluded, it would appear, on account of an objection which is not usually considered fatal to the royal succession. This was a defect in his nose. Howel, his natural brother, a prince of great courage, and a well-proportioned nasal organ, was chosen in his stead. His younger legitimate brother, however, named David, descended in both lines from royal ancestors, did not tamely bear the elevation of Howel, but raised an army, encountered his brother in battle, defeated and slew him, some little time before the death of Becket. His success was not suf'ficiently complete, however, to justify him in courting the enmity of a powerful neighbour, like Henry, King of England; and much was still left for him to do, in order to seat himself in the government, vol. I.
at the period of Henry's return to England. In the civil wars which had taken place, the power of the English and Flemish colonies in Wales had been suffered to increase; the vast confederacy which had been formed for the purpose of casting off the English yoke, had been dissolved; and the warlike nobles of the neighbouring country, who still retained fortresses and districts in Wales, had found means to extend their power, and strengthen themselves in possession. In South Wales, Rees ap Gryffyth had been committing some ravages upon the territories of the English adherents; but he had lost his great strength when the confederacy of the princes of North Wales was broken, and he was unable to resist alone the forces which Henry could bring against him.
Thus everything disposed the princes of Wales to cultivate, even by a new sacrifice of their independence, the friendship and forbearance of Henry. Nor was their friendship and submission of less importance to the King of England at that moment, for he now meditated annexing to his other dominions the rich and beautiful sister island of Ireland, whose long wrongs and misfortunes may date their origin from the ambition of this King, and from some of the faults and follies of her own children, at this very period of which I speak. Early in Henry's reign, that monarch had determined to subdue the neighbouring island; and having not the slightest earthly claim to domi
nion over Ireland, he applied to the manufactory of unjust titles—the Roman chancery; and upon the pretence of reforming the manners of the people, and correcting the irregularities of the clergy, he obtained from Adrian IV., who had no right to give it, a donation which he had no right to accept.* This donation is explained by the Bishop of Chartres, who obtained it, as a gift of Ireland, to be held by hereditary right. Other circumstances had intervened, and the assertion of this iniquitous claim had not been made; but during Henry's absence on the continent, one of the minor Irish sovereigns, Dermot, King of Leinster, a savage and barbarous tyrant, being embroiled in warfare with another Irish sovereign of the name of O’Ruark, or O’Roork, and finding his own subjects rising in great num. bers against his tyranny, fled to England in the year 1166, to beseech aid of Henry. That monarch being in his continental dominions, Dermot followed him to Aquitaine, offering, if Henry would restore him to his kingdom, to hold it by homage, as a fief of the English crown. Henry accepted the offer, but only gave Dermot some small pecuniary assistance, and a general licence to raise troops in his dominions. Dermot found no small difficulty, we are told, in raising any force;
* The Pope founded his title to give Ireland upon the spurious donation of Constantine, and broadly asserted “that all islands belonged to him;" a doctrine which certainly ought not to have been recognised by a King of England.