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he replenished the royal treasury, while he chastised those who had infringed the law.
In the course of these proceedings, he wrung large sums of money from the clergy, who were in general passionately fond of the chace. From being a pleasure forbidden to their order by the church discipline of the day, it was, of course, the more desired; and there is every reason to suppose, that they had offended in this particular more than any other class of the monarch's subjects. The monkish writers complain vehemently of the King's extortions; and the clergy, it would seem, appealed to Cardinal Hugo, or, as many authors write it, Huguson, who at that time came into England as legate à latere, to settle various matters in dispute between the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Cardinal Huguson, however, gave no protection to the monks and priests whose unlawful pastimes had called on them the indignation of the King. His want of consideration for his clerical brethren in this respect, might proceed from one or two causes. In the first place, the Church of Rome had strictly prohibited all the clergy from following the sports of the field; and in the next place, the purse of the legate being somewhat empty, it is more than probable that Henry assisted to fill it, employing for that purpose the very fines of which the ecclesiastics complained. Certain it is, that Hugo himself, in the various tours which he made through different parts of the country, added not a little to the burdens which the church already endured, by extorting, we are assured, large sums from abbeys and monasteries upon different iniquitous pretences.
The Cardinal's residence in England, was at length brought to a close in a somewhat disgraceful and unpleasant manner. A synod was summoned by the King, to meet at Westminster on Midlent Sunday, in the year 1176, and the legate pompously announced that he was about to declare to the assembly the mandates and precepts of the Supreme Pontiff. On the day appointed, at the very opening of the hall, a most scandalous scene took place between the Archbishops of York and Canterbury. Each claimed the right hand of the legate; and the Archbishop of York, it would seem, gained the advantage so far, as to seize upon the station he desired, before the other prelate could occupy it. The Archbishop of Canterbury remonstrated; and while he was endeavouring to make his opponent give up the place which he had taken, all the monks of Canterbury who were present, and all the attendants upon the primate, rushed upon his rival, threw him down, beat him severely, and broke his mitre. Several of the bishops assisted in this outrage; and the legate rising, dissolved the assembly, declaring that he would bring the scene he had witnessed under the cognizance of the Roman Pontiff.
The Archbishop of York, on his part, summoned
the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely to the presence of the Pope, and then left the hall; while the monks of Canterbury showed clearly in what feelings the tumult had arisen, by shouting after the prelate as he retired, “Go, go, betrayer of St. Thomas; your hands still smell of blood.”
It is scarcely possible to conceive that a man in general so mild and placable as the Archbishop of Canterbury, should promote an assault of such a disgraceful character; though it would seem that he certainly made an effort to assume his right place, which was but too violently seconded by those who saw in the Archbishop of York nothing but the enemy of the popular saint of Canterbury. Notwithstanding the strong inclination shown at this period to plunge the Church of England into new disputes, Henry subsequently prevailed upon the two Archbishops to meet in a synod at Winchester, where the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had previously found means to mitigate the indignation of the legate, effected a reconciliation with the Archbishop of York on somewhat singular terms.
They mutually took an oath, that they would suspend all enmity and anger towards each other for five years, which was certainly a most unchristian way of terminating an unchristian quarrel. The cardinal legate, in the meantime, had retired from England into Normandy, and thence returned to Rome, leaving behind him neither the purest
personal reputation, nor the most favorable impression of the integrity of the papal court.
The real cause of the legate's coming to England is in some degree doubtful; for one of the historians of the time, namely, the Monk of Canterbury, informs us, that Henry entertained a design at this period of divorcing.his wife Eleanor, whom he still held strictly imprisoned, and for whom his aversion had undoubtedly not diminished since she had contrived to incite his sons to rebel against his authority. It would seem by the account of Gervase, that Henry sought the presence of a legate in England, in order to open negociations regarding this delicate transaction, and that he took every means of corrupting Huguson, and bringing him over to his own views. Did Gervase state this as a positive fact, the proceedings affecting which he had witnessed, I might be inclined to give credit to the statement; but as he speaks only of a design conceived in the breast of Henry himself, and never put into execution, I am inclined to suspend my belief in the statement till I find it confirmed by other authorities. None such have I hitherto met with; and it seems so improbable Henry should conceive a project, the execution of which must have been completely destructive of the grand political scheme of his whole life, that it would require a great mass of evidence to remove the doubts which naturally present themselves. In the first place, the monarch could not have divorced himself from
his Queen on any pretext which the Church of Rome would admit, except that of consanguinity. Such a plea, though not operating to bastardize his children according to the English law, must have had that effect according to the law of France. Normandy indeed might have been secured, and Britanny was the portion of his son's wife; but Anjou and Maine could not have been transmitted to his descendants without inevitable wars, and difficulties innumerable. Poitou and Aquitaine would have been immediately separated from the crown of England; for Henry could not be so weak as to imagine, that the King of France would regard the investiture of those territories which he had given to Richard, as conferring a stronger right than that which he had himself possessed as the husband of Eleanor, and which he had faithfully resigned as soon as his divorce from the princess was pronounced. In dissolving his marriage, therefore, with the Queen, Henry must have restored to her the vast possessions which she had inherited from her father; and there could be very little doubt in his mind, that the indignation of a slighted woman would produce results most disastrous in the uncertain state of European politics at the time. Henry himself, however prone he might be occasionally to give way to passion, was not a man to suffer his anger so far to overcome his prudence, as considerately and deliberately to take those means of revenging himself upon his wife,