51. HENRY III (CONTD.)
To pass further to the year next following, which was 1227 of the Lord, first it is to be noted, that in this year King Henry, beginning to shoot up unto the twentieth year of his age, came from Reading to London, where he began to charge the citizens of London for old reckonings, namely, for giving or lending one thousand marks to Louis, the French king, at his departing out of the realm, to the great prejudice of him and of his kingdom. For the recompence whereof they were constrained to yield to the king the full sum of the like money. That done, he removed to Oxford, where he assembled a great council, there denouncing and protesting before them all that he was come to sufficient age no more to be under tutors and governors, but to be his own man, requiring to be freed from the custody of others. Which thing being protested, and contradicted forthwith, he, by the counsel of Hubert, the chief justice, whom he made then the earl of Kent, removed from his company the bishop of Winchester, and others, under whom he was moderated. And immediately in the same council, by the sinister persuasion of some, he doth annihilate and make void the charters and liberties before by him granted pretending this colour; for that they had been granted and sealed in the time of his minority, at what time he had the rule neither of himself nor of his seal. Whereupon much muttering and mumuring was among the multitude, who did all impute the cause to Hubert the justice. Moreover, it was the same time proclaimed, that whoso ever had any charter or gift sealed in the time of the king's minority, they should come and renew the same again under the new seal of the king, knowing otherwise that the thing should stand in no effect. And finally, for renewing of their seals, they were taxed not according to their ability, but according as it pleased the justice and other to levy them.
Moreover, beside this general subsidy of the fifteenth granted to the king through the whole realm, and besides all the contribution of the Londoners, divers other parcels and payments he gathered through several places; as of the burgesses of Northampton he required a thousand and two hundred marks for his helping of them, and so of others likewise. All this preparation of money was made towards the furnishing of his voyage to recover Normandy. And yet because be would gratify the city of London again with some pleasure, he granted that the citizens thereof should pass toll free (saith Fabian) throughout all England. And if of any city, borough, or town they were constrained at any time to pay their toll, then the sheriffs of London to attach every man coming to London of the said city, borough, or town, and him with his goods to withhold, till the Londoners were again restored of all such money paid for the said toll, with all costs and damages sustained for the same.
I declared before, how after the death of Honorius succeeded Pope Gregory the Tenth, between the which Gregory and the people of Rome this year fell a great sedition. Insomuch that about the feast of Easter they thrust the pope out of the city, pursuing him unto his castle at Viterbiam. Where also they invaded him so valiantly, that they chased him to Perugia. Then, having no other remedy wherewith to revenge his persecutors, fiercely he did excommunicate them.
Here, by the way, is to be observed and considered, Christian reader, not only by this sedition, but by so many other sebisms, divisions, tumults, fightings, brawls, and contentions in the Church of Rome, from the first beginning of the pope's usurped power, and that not only within the city of Rome, but universally almost in all popish monasteries, colleges, churches, and convents under the pope subjected, continually reigning amongst them, what is to be thought of their religion and holiness, having so little peace, so great disquietness, dissensions, and wrangling amongst them, as in stories both manifest it is to behold, and wondrous to consider.
And forsomaeh as I have entered here into the mention of this schismatical commotion between the pope and his citizens, it followeth moreover in the history of Parisiensis, who maketh relation of a like brawling matter, which befell the same year and time, A.D. 1228, between the prior and convent of Durham and this King Henry the Third, upon this occasion: After the death of Richard, bishop of Durham, the prior and chapter of the said church came to the king, to obtain licence for the electing of their bishop. The king offered to them one Lucas, a chaplain of his, requiring them instantly to elect him for their bishop. To this the monks answered, that they would receive no man but by their order of canonical election. Meaning belike, by their canonical election, thus much, whenas they elect either some monk out of their own company, or else some monkish priest after their own liking. Contrary, the king again sendeth word unto them, and bound it with an oath, that they should tarry seven years without a bishop, unless they would admit the foresaid Lucas to that place of that dignity. All which notwithstanding, the monks, proceeding in their election, refused the said Lucas, and preferred another clerk of theirs, named William, archdeacon of Worcester, and him they presented to the king; but the king, bringing in exceptions and causes against the party, would not admit him. Then the monks in all hasty speed sent up to Rome certain of their convent, to have their election ratified by the authority apostolical. On the other side the king, likewise hearing, sendeth also to Rome against the monks the bishop of Chester and the prior of Lentony on his behalf, to withstand the purpose of the monks. And so the matter, being travised with great altercation on both sides, did hang in suspense, (saith mine author,) till at length thus it was concluded between both, that neither Master William nor yet Lucas should be taken, but that Richard, bishop of Sarum, should be translated to Durham, and be bishop there, A.D. 1228.
The like stir also happened both the same year, and for the like matter, between the monks of Coventry and the canons of Litchfield, about choosing of their bishop, which of them should have the superior voice in the election of their prelate. After much ado, the cause, at length being hoisted up to Rome, had this determination; that the monks of Coventry and the church of Litchfield should choose their bishop by course, each part keeping his turn the one after the other; provided, notwithstanding, that the prior of Coventry should always have the first voice in every election; whereas the old custom was, saith mine author, that the convent with the prior of Coventry was wont to have the whole election of the bishop without the canons: this was A.D. 1228.
In the which year died Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, by whom the chapters of the Bible, in that order and number as we now use them, were first distinguished. The said Langton also made postils upon the whole Bible. The same moreover builded the new hall in the palace of Canterbury.
After the death of this Langton ensued another variance about the election of the archbishop of Canterbury, between the monks of Canterbury and the king. The perturbation whereof, as it was no less seditious, so the determination of the same was much more costly. After the death of Stephen Langton, the monks of Canterbury, obtaining licence of the king to proceed in the election of a new archbishop, did choose one of their own society, named Master Walter Hemesham. Whom when the monks had presented unto the king, he, after long deliberation, began to object against that election, saying, first, that the monks had elected such a one as neither was profitable to him nor his kingdom. Secondly, he objected against the party elect, that his father was convict of felony, and hanged for the same. Thirdly, that he stood in causes against his father King John in the time of the interdict. Moreover, the bishops, his suffragans, charged the party elect, that he had lain with a certain nun, and had children by her; adding further, that the election of the archbishop was without their presence, which ought not to be, &c. But the archbishop again, stoutly standing unto his election, appealed up to Rome, and eftsoons, taking with him certain monks, presented himself to the pope's own proper person, there to sue his appeal; instantly entreating that his election might stand confirmed by his authority pontifical. But the pope, understanding that the said election was resisted by the king and the bishops, deferred the matter until he did hear further of the certainty thereof. The king and the bishops, having intelligence that the archbishop with his monks were gone to Rome, thought good to articulate the foresaid objections above alleged in writing, and, sealing the same with the seals both of the king and of the bishops, to exhibit them to the bishop of Rome. The messengers of these letters were the bishops of Rochester, of Chester, and the archdeacon of Bedford, Master John, &c. They, coming to Rome, and exhibiting their message with their letters unto the pope, (consideration being had upon the same,) were commanded to wait attendance against the next day after Ash Wednesday; then to have a resolute answer concerning the cause, which was the second day of March the next year following, that is, in the year of our Lord 1229. In the mean season, the king's proctors ceased not with all instance to labour the pope and his cardinals to be favourable to the king's side. But finding them somewhat hard and strict in the matter, as is the guise of that court, they began to misdoubt their speeding. Wherefore, consulting together with themselves upon the premises, they came to the pope, promising in the king's behalf to be given and granted to him, out of the realms both of England and Ireland, the tithe or tenth part of all the goods within the said realms movable, to sustain his wars against the emperor, so that he would incline favourably to the king's suit and petition herein. But the pope, (saith the author,) who boiled with desire above all measure to have the emperor his enemy cast down, being cheered with so great promises, granted his consent to them, who, sitting then in his consistory, had these words which here follow.
"There hath come of late to our intelligence the election of a certain monk, named Walter, to be archhishop of Canterbury; whereupon, after that we heard and advised, as well those things which the said monk had said for himself and for his election, as also, on the contrary side, the objections and exceptions of the bishops of England alleging against him and against his election, namely, of the bishop of Chester, the bishop of Rochester, and John, archdeacon of Bedford; we, upon the same, committed the examination, touching the person of the man, unto our reverend brethren, Lord Cardinal Albany, Lord Cardinal Thomas de Sabina, and Master Peter. And when the aforesaid elect, coming before them, was asked of them, first, concerning the Lord's descending into hell, whether he descended in flesh, or without his flesh, he answered not well. Item, being asked touching the making of the body of Christ on the altar, he answered likewise not soundly. Being asked moreover how Rachel wept for her children, she being dead before, he answered not well. Item, being asked concerning the sentence of excommunication denounced against the order of law, he answered not well. Again, being required of matrimony, if one of the married parties be an infidel, and do depart, he answered thereto not well. Upon these articles he was (as is said) diligently examined of the cardinals, to the which we say he answered not only not well, but also very ill. Forasmuch therefore as the church of Canterbury is a noble church, and requireth a noble prelate, a man discreet and modest, and such as ought to be taken out of the bosom of the Church of Rome; and forasmuch as this new elect (whom not only here we pronounce to be unworthy, but also should say more of him if we would proceed with him by the rigour of the law) is so insufficient that he ought not to be admitted to such a room; we do utterly infringe, annihilate, and evacuate his election, always reserving to ourselves the provision of the said church."
Thus the election of Walter being frustrated and dissolved, the king's procurators bringing forth the letters of the king, and of the suffragans of the church of Canterbury, presented the same unto the pope for the ratification of Richard, chancellor of Lincoln, to be appointed archbishop of Canterbury, whom they with great commendation of words did set forth to be a man of profound learning and knowledge, of an honest conversation; and, which was greatest of all, that he was a man much for the profit of the Church of Rome, as also for the realm of England. And thus the said Richard being commended to the pope by the letters procuratory of the king and of the bishops, had the consent of the pope and of the cardinals, and so was made bishop of Canterbury before he was elected. Whereupon the said Pope Gregory in his behalf directeth down his letters to all and singular suffragans of the church of Canterbury, declaring thus, and beginning first with a lie, that forsomuch as by the fulness of ecclesiastical power the charge of pastoral office is committed to him in general upon all churches, he therefore, for the solicitude he beareth, as well to all other churches in general, as in special to the metropolitan church of Canterbury, repudiating and disannulling the former election of Walter the monk upon just causes, hath provided for that see a man, as in all other good gifts perfecf and excellent, by the report of them that know him, so for that function very fit and commodious; and willeth and commandeth them, and all others, by his authority apostolical, with all devout reverence to receive him, and humbly to obey him, &c.
These things thus finished at Rome, the pope, not forgetting the sweet promises made of the English silver which he so greedily gaped for, omitting neither time nor diligence, in all speedy wise sendeth unto the king of England M. Stephen, his own chaplain and trusty legate, to require and collect the foresaid tithes of all the movable goods both of England, Ireland, and Wales, which were promised to him before, therewith to maintain his war against Frederic the emperor. And to the intent he might inflame all Christian realms with the like hatred which he bare against Frederic the emperor, he sendeth also with the said Stephen special letters full of manifold complaints and grievous accusations against the said emperor, whereof more (Christ granting) shall be showed hereafter. Upon the coming of this Stephen the legate, the king assembled all his earls and barons, with the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, templaries, hospitallers, parsons, and vicars, and other such as held of him in capite, to appear before him at Westminster, to hear and to commune of the matter. In the assembly of whom, the pope's patent letters were brought forth and read, wherein he required the tenths of all the movables in England, Wales, and Ireland, as well of the clergy as of the laity, to maintain his expedition against the foresaid Frederic the emperor. The which expedition, as he pretended to achieve and to take in hand for the cause of the universal church, and happily had begun the matter already; and forsomuch as the riches of the apostolic see did not suffice for the accomplishing of so great an enterprise; he therefore, enforced by mere necessity, did implore the aid and help of all the true obedient and natural chickens of the Church of Rome, lest the members thereof together with the head should be subverted. These letters of the pope to this effect being openly recited and explained by the pope's chaplain, which he with much more allegation and persuasion of words did amplify to his uttermost; the king, (saith mine author,) in whom all men did hope for help to their defence, became then as a staff of reed. Forsomuch as he had obliged himself to the same before, for the election of his archbishop, now could he say nothing against it, but held his peace. The earls, barons, and all the laity utterly refused so to bind their baronies to the Church of Rome; but the bishops, abbots, priors, with other prelates of the church, first requiring space and respite to deliberate for three or four days, at length, for fear of the pope's curse, (although they durst not utterly withstand,) had brought to pass to have concluded for a sum of money much less, had not Stephen Segrave, one of the king's counsellors, craftily convented with the legate, and by subtle means brought it so to pass, that the whole tenths were gathered and paid, to the inestimable damage (saith Paris) both of the ecclesiastical and temporal state. The means whereof (saith the author) was this: The legate showing to the prelates his procuratory letters, to collect and gather up all the foresaid tenths in the name and authority of the pope, declared moreover the full authority to him granted, by the virtue of his commission, to excommunicate all such, and to interdict their churches, whosoever did gainsay or go contrary to the said collection. Whereupon, by the said virtue legantine, he sendeth to every shire his proctors to gather the pope's money, or else to excommunicate them which denied to pay. And forsomuch as the present need of the pope required present help without delay, he sendeth moreover to the bishops and prelates of the realm, in pain of interdiction, forthwith to procure and send to him, either of their own, or by loan or usance, or by what means soever, so much money in all post speed for the present use of the pope; and after to take up again the said money of the tenths of every singular person, by the right taxing of their goods. Upon this, the prelates, to avoid the danger, (having no other remedy,) were driven to sell their chalices, cruets, copes, jewels, and other church plate, and some to lay to mortgage such things as they had, some also to borrow upon usance to make the money which was required. Moreover, the said Stephen, the pope's chaplain, (as reporteth Matthew Paris,) brought with him into England for the same purpose, such bankers and usurers, as, lending out their money upon great usury, did unreasonably pinch the English people, which merchant usurers were then called Caursini. Briefly, such strict action was then upon the poor Englishmen, that not only their present goods were valued and taxed, but also the corn yet growing in the field against the next harvest was tithed, &c. Only the earl of Chester, named Ranulph, stood stoutly against the pope, suffering none within his dominion, either layman or clerk, to yield any tenths to the pope's proctors. And this was the end of the strife between the monks of Canterbury and the king for the election of their archbishop, which was about the year of our Lord 1229; in the which year was finished the new church of Coventry, by Alexander, bishop of the said city, and partly by the help of the king; which church Richard his predecessor, bishop before him of Coventry, had begun.
The Frenchmen about this time again prepared themselves towards Provence, to war against the foresaid Reimund, earl of Toulouse, and to expel him out of his possessions. And hearing that he was in his castle of Saracene, they made thither all their power, thinking there to enclose and compass him about; but the earl, being privy of their conspired purpose, set for them by the way, appointing certain ambushments in woods, not so secretly as strongly, there to wait and receive the coming of the Frenchmen, and to give them their welcome. Thus when the French were entered the wood, the earl, with his train of well-armed and able warriors, suddenly did fly upon them unawares, and gave them a bitter meeting, so that in that conflict five hundred of the French soldiers were taken, and many slain.
The same year the king, being at Portsmouth, had assembled together all his nobility, earls, barons, and knights of England, with such an army of horsemen and footmen as hath not been lightly seen, thinking to recover again the countries of Normandy, of Gaunt, and other possessions which King John his father before had lost. But when the captains and marshals of the field should take shipping, there were not half ships enough to receive the host. Whereupon the king was vehemently inflamed with anger, laying all the fault in Hubert, the lord chief justice, (who under the king had all the government of the realm,) calling him old traitor, charging him that he should be the let of his voyage, as he was before when he took of the French queen five thousand marks to stay the king's journey into Normandy. Insomuch that the rage of the king was so kindled against him, that, drawing his sword, he made at him to run him through, had not the earl of Chester, Ranulph, stopped the king. Hubert withdrew himself away till the king's rage was past. This was about the time of Michaelmas, at which time arrived Henry, earl of Normandy, in the haven of Portsmouth in the month of October; who should have conducted the king upon his allegiance and oath into Normandy. But he with other of the king's army counselled the king not to take that voyage towards winter, but rather to defer it to the Easter next following; wherewith the king was stayed, and well contented, and pacified again with Hubert the justice, &c.
Fabian recordeth this year the liberties and franchise of the city of London to be confirmed by the king, and to every of the sheriffs to be granted two clerks, and two officers, without any more.
Then followed the year 1230, in which upon the day of the conversion of St. Paul, (as saith Paris,) as a great multitude of people for the solemnity of the day were congregate in the temple of St. Paul, the bishop then being at his mass, a sudden darkness with such thickness of clouds fell in the air, that one man might not see another in the church. After that, followed cracks of thunder and lightning so terrible, leaving such a scent in the church, that the people, looking for doomsday, thought no less but that the steeple and whole church would have fallen upon their heads; insomuch that they running out of the church, as people amazed, fell down together by thousands, as men amazed, not knowing for the time where they were; only the bishop and his deacon stood still at their mass, holding the altar fast.
Of the death of Stephen Langton, and of the troublesome election of the next archhishop, also of the costly and chargeable bringing in of Richard to succeed in the room, which did cost the whole realm of England the tenths of all their movables, sufficient hath been declared before. This Richard, being now confirmed in his seat, came to the king complaining of Hubert, the lord chief justice, oft mentioned before, for withholding from him the castle and town of Tunbridge, with the appurtenances to the same belonging, and other lands of the earl of Clare late deceased. Which lands appertain to the right of his seat, and to the church of Canterbury; for the which the said earl with his ancestors were bound to do homage to him and to his predecessors; and therefore he required the keeping of the foresaid castle, with the domains thereof, to be restored to him. To this the king answered again, that the said earl did hold of him in capite, and that the castles being vacant of earls and barons, with their heirs, did belong to his crown, till the lawful age of the said heirs. The archbishop, when he could get no other answer of the king, did excommunicate all such as invaded the foresaid possessions, with all others that took their part, the king only excepted. Which done, eftsoons he speedeth himself to Rome, there to prosecute his suit before the pope. The king hearing thereof not long after sendeth up Master Roger Cantelu, with certain other messengers, unto Rome against the archhishop.
This Richard the archbishop, coming before the pope's presence, beginneth first to complain of his king, for that he committed all the affairs of his realm to the disposition and government of Hubert his justice, using only his counsel, all his other nobles despised.
Against the said justice moreover he complained, laying to his charge, first, that he had married a wife, being the kinswoman of her whom he had married before; also that the said Hubert the justice did invade, hold, and wrongfully detain such possessions as belonged to the see and church of Canterbury.
As touching the wife of this Hubert, here is to be noted, that he married the elder sister of the king of Scots; which, as it seemeth, could be of no great kin to her whom he married before.
Further, he complaineth of certain bishops, his suffragans, who, neglecting their pastoral function, did sit on chequer matters belonging to the king, and exercised sessions and judgments of blood.
Over and besides, he complaineth of beneficed persons, and clerks within orders, for having many benefices joined with cure of soul: and that they also, taking example of the bishops, did intermeddle in secular matters, and in judgments of laymen.
Of these and such other defaults he required redress to be had. The pope weighing and considering the cause of the archbishop to stand upon right and reason, (at leastwise seeming so to his purpose,) commanded incontinent his petitions and requests to be despatched according to justice.
Against these complaints of the archbishop the king's attorneys alleged and defended in as much favour of the king as they might, but could do no good. Such favour found the archbishop in the pope's sight, being (as the story reporteth) of a comely personage, and of an eloquent tongue, that he obtained whatsoever he asked. Thus the archbishop, with all favourable speed being despatched at Rome after his own will and desire, returned homeward; who, in his journey, within three days of his setting forth, departed in the house of Grey Friars at St. Gemmes, and so his cause departed with him; who, winning his suit, lost his life; for whom it had been better, I suppose, to have tarried at home. And here of him an end, with all his complaints also.
After the death of this Richard, the monks of Canterbury (according to the manner) address themselves to a new election; at which was chosen Ralph Nevill, bishop of Chichester, who was the king's chancellor, much commended in stories, to be a man faithful, upright, and constant; which from the way of justice declined neither to the right hand nor to the left, but was upright and sincere both in word and deed. This Ralph (thus chosen of the monks) was presented unto the king to be their archbishop, wherewith the king was right well contented, and glad also of his election; and forthwith invested him for archbishop of the church of Canterbury. But this investing of the king was not enough, unless he should also be confirmed by the pope. Wherefore the monks, ready to take their journey unto Rome, came to the new archbishop, requiring his help for their expenses by the way, and to know what service he would command them to the court of Rome. But he, fearing in his mind the same not to be without some scruple of simony and ambition, said he would not give a halfpenny; and, holding up his hands to heaven, thus prayed, saying, "O Lord God, if I shall be thought worthy to be called (although indeed unworthy) to the seat and office of this church, so be it as thou sha1t dispose it. But if otherwise, in this troublesome office of chancery, and this my inferior ministry, whereunto I have been assigned, I shall seem more necessary for this thy kingdom and people, I refuse not my labour, thy will be done."
The monks beholding the constancy of the man, notwithstanding they had of him no money, yet refused not their travel and journey to Rome, to have their election confirmed by the pope's authority. The pope inquiring of Simon Langton (brother of Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, before mentioned) of the person of this man, it was reported again to him by the said Simon, maliciously depraving the good man behind his back, and declaring to the pope, that he was a courtier, unlearned, hasty, and fervent in his doings, and such a one who, if he should be promoted to that dignity, would go about, with the help of the king and of the whole realm, to remove and bring the realm of England from under the yoke of the pope and of the Church of Rome; and so to bereave the see of Rome of the tribute, under which King John had once subjected himself and his realm, at what time he yielded his crown to the hands of Pandulph the legate, &c. With these and such other words Simon Langton falsely and maliciously depraved the godly bishop. The pope hearing with one ear, and crediting what he heard, without further inquisition made of the other party accused, sendeth incontinent to the monks of Canterbury to proceed in a new election, and to choose them another archbishop, such as were a wholesome pastor of souls, profitable unto the Church of England, and devout to the Church of Rome; and thus was the lawful election of this good archbishop made frustrate, too good peradventure to serve in that place whereunto he was elected.
After the repulse of this Ralph, the Canterbury monks, entering a new election, agreed upon John their prior to he their metropolitan; who, going up to Rome to have his election confirmed by the pope, was three days together examined of the cardinals. And when they could find no insufficiency in him, touching those things wherein they tried him; yet notwithstanding the pope finding fault with his age (he peradventute being more aged himself) repelled him, for that he said he was too old and simple to sustain that dignity.
What was the age of this person, I find it not in the author expressed; yet it is to be supposed, that he, which was able to take that journey to Rome and home again, was not so greatly to be complained of for his age, but that he was able sufficiently to take pains in keeping the chair of Canterbury.
In the former parts of this story preceding, partly before hath been declared, partly hereafter more shall appear, (Christ willing,) how the church of England and commons of the same was grieved and miserably afflicted by the intolerable oppressions of the pope; who through his violent extortion had procured the best benefices to be given unto his Romans, and the chief fruits of them to be reserved to his own coffers. And what complaints thereof have been made ye heard before; but yet no redress could be had. Such was the insatiable avarice of these Roman rakehells, prowling and polling, wheresoever they came, with their provisions and exactions out of measure, and never satisfied. Insomuch that here in England, whosoever lacked, their barns were always full of corn; and what penury soever pinched the people, they were sure to have enough. And these importunate exactions and contributions of these Italian harpies, besides the Peter pence, besides the common tribute, daily more and more increased, to the great grievance of the realm, insomuch that the wealth of this land was almost cleanly sucked up, and translated to the court of Rome. Neither was the king ignorant hereof, but could not help the matter. Wherefore it was devised by some of the nobles (as appeareth in the story of Parisiensis) this foresaid year, A.D. 1231, that certain letters, under the pretended colour of the king's authority, should be sent abroad, willing and commanding; that such corn and grain, with other revenues, as were taken up for the pope, should be stayed, and fortheoming by a certain day in the said letters appointed; the which letters are thought to proceed chiefly by the means of Hubert, lord chief justice of England, who then, next under the king, ruled the most affairs of the realm. The words and contents of the letters be these.
"After divers and sundry griefs and oppressions which this realm, as you know, hath sustained by the Romanists, and yet doth, as well to the prejudice of the king himself, as also of the nobility of the same, concerning the advowsons of their churches, and about their tithes; who also go about to take from the clerks and spiritual men their benefices, and to bestow them upon their own nation and countrymen, to the spoil and confusion both of us and our realm; we therefore by our common consents have thought good, although very late, now yet, rather than any longer to suffer their intolerable oppressions and extortions, to resist and withstand the same. And by the taking from them their benefices through all England, in like manner to cut short and bridle them, as they had thought to have kept under and bridled others; whereby they may desist any longer to molest the realm. Wherefore we straitly charge and command you, that, as touching the farming of their churches, or else the rents belonging to them, which either you have presently in your hands, or else do owe unto the said Romnanists, that from henceforth you be no more accountable to them, or else pay to them from henceforth the same. But that you have the said your rents and revenues ready by such a day, to pay and deliver unto our procurators thereunto by our letters assigned; and that all abbots and priors have the same in a readiness at the time appointed, in their own monasteries; and all other priests, clerks, and laymen, at the churches of the Romanists, there ready to pay. And further, know ye for certainty, that if ye refuse thus to do, all that you have besides shall be by us burnt and spoiled. And besides, look what danger we purpose shall fall upon them, the same shall light upon your necks if you refuse thus to do. Farewell."
When this was done, they sent their letters abroad by certain soldiers thereunto appointed, to the which letters they had devised a new seal with two swords engraved, and between the swords was written, Ecce gladili duo, &c., Behold these two swords, ready to take vengeance of all those that shall withstand the form and order in these letters contained.
At that time, the sixteenth day before the kalends of January, about the beginning of the year 1232, there was kept at St. Albans a great consistory of abbots, priors, archdeacons, with divers both of the nobility and clergy, by the pope's commandment, for the celebration of a divorce between the countess of Essex and her husband. At the breaking up of which consistory, when every man was about to depart thence, there was a certain clerk, whose name was Cincius, a Roman, and also a canon of Paul's in London, taken by some of the said university not far off from St. Albans, and was carried away from his company by the soldiers. But Master John, archdeacon of Norwich, a Florentine, hardly escaping from that company, got to London, where he hid himself; and durst not be seen. Cencius, after five weeks, when they had well emptied his bags, was safely sent again without any more hurt to London.
Not long after this, about the beginning of January, the barns of a certain beneficed man, a Roman, and parson of Wingham, being full of corn, were broke up by a like company of armed soldiers, and the corn brought out to be sold and given away to the poor people. The farmer seeing this, and not able to resist, complaineth to the sheriff of the shire of this injury done to his master, and of breaking the king's peace; whereupon the sheriff sent certain of his men to see what was done. Who coming to the empty barns, and there finding the foresaid soldiers to them unknown, who had sold away the most part of the corn upon easy price, and some for charity had given to the poverty of the country about, required of them what they were, that so durst presume to break the king's peace. Whom the other then called secretly apart, and showed them the king's letters patents, (pretending at least the king's name and seal,) wherein was forbidden that no man should presume to stop or let them in that purpose. Whereof the sheriff's servants being certified, quietly returned from whence they came.
This coming to the knowledge of Roger, bishop of London, he (with the assistance of other bishops) proceedeth in solemn excommunication, first, against them that robbed Cincius the Roman; then of them which spoiled the barns of the parson of Wingham, another Roman; thirdly, he excommunicated them that forged the letters and seal of the king above specified.
Neither yet, for all this, did that so cease, but the same year, about Easter next following, all the barns in England, which were in the hands of any Roman or Italian, were likewise wasted, and the corn sold to the best commodity of the poor commons. Of the which great alms were distributed, and many times money also with corn together was sparsed for the needy people to gather up. Neither was there any that would or durst stand against them. As for the Romans and Italians themselves, they were stricken in such fear, that they hid themselves in monasteries and cells, not daring to complain of their injuries received; but held it better to lose rather their goods than to lose their lives. The authors and workers of this feat were to the number of fourscore armed soldiers; of whom the principal captain was one naming himself William Withers, surnamed Twing.
This coming to the pope's knowledge, he was not a little stirred therewith, and sendeth his letters immediately to the king upon the same, with sharp threatenings, and imperious commandments, charging him for suffering such villany within his realm, straitly enjoining him, under pain of excommunication, to search out the doers hereof with all diligence, and so to punish them that all others by them may take example. Likewise he sendeth the same charge to Peter, bishop of Winchester, and to the abbot of St. Edmund, to inquire in the south parts. Also to the archbishop of York, and to the bishop of Durham, and to Master John, canon of York, a Roman, to inquire in the north parts for the said malefactors, and, after diligent inquisition made, to send up the same to Rome, there needs to appear before him, &c.
Thus, after earnest inquisition made of all parties, and witnesses sworn and examined, many were found culpable in the matter, some that were factors, some that were consenters, of whom some were bishops and chaplains unto the king, some archdeacons and deans, with other soldiers and laymen. Among whom certain sheriffs and under-sheriffs, with their servitors under them, were apprehended and cast into prison by the king. Many for fear fled and escaped away, who being sought for could not be found; but the principal of this number (as is aforesaid) was supposed to be Hubert, lord chief justice; who, both with the king's letters and his own, fortified the doers thereof, that no man durst interrupt them. Moreover, in the same society of them which were noted in these doings, was the same Robert Twing above mentioned, a comely young man and a tall soldier; who, of his own voluntary accord, with five other servitors, whom he took with him abroad to work that feat, came unto the king, openly protesting himself to be the author of that deed doing, and said he did it for hatred of the pope and the Romans, because that by the sentence of the bishop of Rome, and fraudulent circumvention of the Italians, he was bereaved of the patronage of his benefice, having no more to give but that one; wherefore, to be revenged of that injury, he enterprised that which was done; preferring rather justly to be excommunicated for a season, than to be spoiled of his benefice for ever. Then the king, and other executors of the pope's commandment, gave him counsel, that seeing he had so incurred the danger of the pope's sentence, he should offer himself to the pope to be absolved of him again, and there to make his declaration unto him, that be justly and canonically was possessed of that church. The king moreover with him sent his letters testimonial unto the pope, witnessing with the said soldier, and instantly desiring the pope in his behalf that he might with favour be heard. At the request whereof Pope Gregory afterwards both released him of the sentence, and restored unto him his patronage, writing unto the archbishop of York, that he might again enjoy the right of his benefice in as ample manner as he did before it was taken from him.
Hubert de Burgh, lord chief justice, being one of them which held against the Romish priests, as is afore signified, was therefore not a little noted of the bishops, who, to requite him with the like despite again, (after their accustomed manner of practice,) went about by subtle working to shake him out of the king's favour. And first cometh Peter, bishop of Winchester, to the king, grievously complaining of certain about the king; but especially of the foresaid Hubert, the king's justice; insomuch that he caused him to be removed from his office; notwithstanding he had the king's seal and writing for the perpetuity of the same, and procured Stephen Segrave to be placed in his function. And after a few days the king, more and more incensed against him, called him unto account of all the treasure which he was countable for by his exchequer office; also of all such debts by him due from the time of his father till his time; also of all the lordships which were in the possession of William, earl of Pembroke, chief justice before him. Item, of the liberties which he did hold at that time in forests, warrens, shires, and other places, how they were kept, or how they were made away. Of prizes likewise, also of losses committed through his negligence, and of wastes made contrary to the king's profit, of his liberties, how he did use them. Item, of injuries and damages wrought against the clerks of Rome and other Italians, and the pope's legates, for the redress whereof he would never adjoin his counsel, according as pertained to his office, being then chief justice of England. Also of scutages, gifts, presents, escapes of prisoners. Item, of maritages which King John committed to his keeping at the day of his death, and which were also in his time committed unto him. To these Hubert answered, that he had King John's own hand to show for his discharge, who so approved his fidelity that he never called him to any, but clearly discharged him from all such counts. Whereunto answered again the bishop of Winchester, saying, The charter of King John hath no force after the death of him, but that ye may now be called to a reckoning of this king for the same.
Over and besides these, other greater objections were laid to his charge by the king; as for sending and writing unto the duke of Austria that he might marry his daughter, to the prejudice of the king and of the realm, dissuading that she might not be given to him. Item, for counselling the king not to enter into Normandy with his army, which he had prepared for the recovery of lands there belonging to his right, whereby great treasure was there consumed in vain. Item, for corrupting the daughter of the king of Scots, whom King John his father committed unto his custody for him to marry. Item, for stealing from him a precious stone, which had a virtue to make him victorious in war; and for sending the same unto Leoline, prince of Wales: and that, by his letters sent to the said Leoline, William Brewer, a nobleman, was caused there traitorously to be hanged, &c. These, with other crimes, (whether true or false,) were suggested to the king against the said Hubert by his adversaries; whereunto he was required to answer by order of law. Hubert then, seeing himself in such a strait, refused to answer presently, but required respite thereunto, for that the matters were weighty which the king objected to him, which was granted to him till the fourteenth day of September; but in the mean time, Hubert, being in fear of the king, fled from London to the priory of Merton. And thus Hubert, who before, for the love of the king, and defence of the realm, (saith mine author,) had got the hatred of all the nobles of England, now being out of the king's favour, was destitute of comfort on every side, save only that Lucas, archbishop of Dublin, with instant prayers and tears laboured to the king for him. By this example, and many like, is to be seen how unstable and variable a thing the favour of mortal and mutable princes is, to teach all such as have to do about princes how to repose and plant their trust, not in man, but in their Lord God, by him to find help in Christ, the true Prince of all princes, which never faileth. By like example was Clito served of King Alexander, Joab of King David, Belisarius of Justinian, Harpagus of Astiages, Cromwell of King Henry, with innumerable more, which in histories are to be found.
When the day was come that this Hubert should answer, keeping amongst the monks of Merton, he durst not appear. Then was it signified unto him from the king, that he should come up and appear in the court, there to answer to his charge. Whereunto he answered again, that he misdoubted the king's anger, and therefore he did fly to the church, as the uttermost refuge to all such as suffer wrong, from whence he would not stir, till he heard the king's wrath to be mitigated towards him. With this the king, moved and sore displeased, directeth his letters in all haste to the mayor of London, commanding him at the sight thereof to muster and take up all the citizens that could bear harness in the city, and to bring to him by force of arms the foresaid Hubert, either quick or dead, out of Merton. Whereupon the mayor immediately, causing the great bell to be rung, assembled together the people of London; and opening before them the king's letters, commanded them to prepare and arm themselves in all readiness to the executing of the king's will and message.
The citizens hearing this were therewith right glad and ready, for they were all in great hatred with Hubert, because of the execution of Constantine their citizen afore mentioned. Notwithstanding, certain of the citizens, namely, Andrew Bukerell, John Travers, and others more, men of more grave and sage discretion, wisely pondering with themselves what inconvenience might rise hereof, went in haste to the bishop of Winchester, lying then in Southwark, and, waking him out of his sleep, desired him of his counsel in that so sudden and dangerous distress, declaring unto him what peril might thereby ensue, as well to the church of Merton as also to the city, by the fury of the inordinate and fierce multitude, which will hardly be bridled from robbing and spoiling, neither will spare shedding of blood, &c. Unto whom again the bloody bishop gave this bloody counsel (saith Matthew Paris): Dangerous it is, (quoth he,) both here and there; but yet see that you obey and execute the precept of the king, I counsel you plainly. At the which counsel of the bishop they, being amazed, went with an ill will about the business enjoined. But the people, inflamed with hatred, gladly coveted to be revenged, and to shed the blood of the said Hubert.
The cause why Peter, bishop of Winchester, was so cruelly set against the justice, was partly for the damages he had done to the Roman priests, as before is touched; partly also for the old grudge, because the king, coming to his lawful age before, (through the counsel of this Hubert,) loosed himself from the government of the said bishop, who had him then in custody. And thus rose up the grudge and displeasure of this bishop towards him.
On the next morrow, the Londoners, issuing out.of the city, to the number of twenty thousand, set forth toward the abbey of Merton, where Hubert was lying prostrate before the altar, commending himself to God.
In the mean season, while the citizens were in their journey, raging against the poor earl of Kent, it was suggested to the king, by Ralph, bishop of Chiehester, and lord chancellor, that it was dangerous to excite up the vulgar and unruly multitude, for fear of sedition; lest peradventure the rude and heady people, being stirred up, will not so soon be brought down again, when the king would have them. Moreover, what shall be said (quoth be) among the Frenchmen and other nations, which of great things love to make them greater, and of evil things to make them worse than they are? but thus jestingly and mockingly: See what a kind bird is the young king of England, which seeketh to devour his old nurse, under whose wings he had been brought up and nourished in his youth. And thus the king, by the persuasion hereof, changing his counsel, sent in all hasty wise after the army again, willing them to retract their journey, and to retire. And thus the Londoners (although much against their wills) returned home, missing of their purpose. Wherein is to be observed another notable example of God's working providence. For when the king (saith the history) had sent by two messengers or pursuivants to revoke and call back again the army of the Londoners, going with greedy minds to shed the blood of the innocent justice, one of the messengers, posting with all speed possible with the king's letters, overtook the army; and coming to the foreward where the captains were, by virtue of the king's letters stayed their course and bloody purpose, whereby they could proceed no further. But the other messenger, crafty and malicious, bearing hatred to the said Hubert, and rather wishing him to be slain than to be delivered, lingered by the way of purpose (although being commanded to make haste); and when he came, went only but to the middle sort; more like a messenger meet to serve a dead man's errand, than to serve the turn of them which be alive. And so in like manner by the just hand of God it fell upon him. For the same messenger, stumbling with his horse, riding but a soft or foot pace, and rather walking than riding, fell down backward from his horseback, and there brake his neck, and died. This merciful message of the king was (as is said) sent by the instigation of Ralph, bishop of Chichester, lord chancellor, a virtuous and a faithful man, and one that could skill to have compassion on the miseries of men. Of whom was declared before, that he, being elected archbishop of Canterbury, would not give one halfpenny to their expenses by the way, to get his election confirmed by the pope; and afterward by the said pope was defeated and frustrated of his election, as relation was made afore. And thus, through God's providence, by the means of the king's letters the army returned, and Hubert's life, contrary to his expectation, was preserved.
After this, the archbishop of Dublin with much labour and great suit entreated and obtained of the king to grant unto the said Hubert respite till the twelfth day of January, to provide himself of his answer to such things as were commenced against him. Then Hubert, trusting to enjoy some safety by the king's permission to him granted, to breathe himself a little and to walk abroad, took his journey towards St. Edmundsbury, where his wife was; and, passing through the country of Essex, was inned there in a certain town belonging to the bishop of Norwich. Whereof, when the king was certified, fearing lest he would raise up some commotion in the realm, sendeth in hasty anger after him Sir Godfred Crancombe, knight, with three hundred men; commanding, under pain of hanging, that they should apprehend him, and bring him to the Tower of London; which commandment to accomplish there lacked no haste. Hubert, having intelligence of their coming, (rising out of his bed naked as he was,) ran unto the chapel standing near unto the inn, where he holdeth with the one hand the cross, with the other hand the sacrament of the Lord's body. Then Godfred, with his foresaid armed soldiers, entering into the chapel, willed him to come out. Which when he would not, with violent hands he drew him out of the chapel; and taking the cross and the sacrament out of his hands, fast bound him with fetters and gyves under the horse's belly, and brought him, as they were commanded, to the Tower. And so certifying the king what they had done, (who then tarried up waking for them,) he rejoiced not a little thereat, and went merry to his bed.
The next morrow following after, Roger, bishop of London, having knowledge how and in what order he was taken violently out of the chapel, cometh unto the king, blaming him boldly for violating the peace of holy church, and protested that unless the party were loosed again, and sent to the chapel from whence he was drawn, he would enter sentence of excommunication against all the deed-doers.
The king, as he did not deny his transgression herein, so he sendeth him (albeit against his will) out of the Tower unto the said chapel again, and by the same soldiers which brought him out before. Which done, he giveth in strait charge and commandment, under pain of hanging, to the sheriffs of Hertford and of Essex, that they, in their own persons, with the strength of both shires, should watch and compass about the chapel, and see that the said Hubert in no wise might escape. Which commandment of the king was accomplished with all diligence. But Hubert took all this patiently, and continued in the chapel, praying both night and day, and commending his cause unto the Lord; whom he desired so to deliver him from that instant danger, as he always sought the king's honour by his faithful and trusty service. And as he continued in his prayer, so the king, continuing in his rage, commanded that no man should entreat for him, or make any mention of him in his presence. Notwithstanding yet Lucas, archbishop of Dublin, his true and almost only friend, ceased not to pray and weep to the king for him, desiring the king at least to intimate to him what he purposed should be done with Hubert. Whereunto the king answering, said, that of these three things one he should choose, whether he would abjure the realm of England for ever, or be condemned unto perpetual prison, or else confess himself openly to be a traitor. But Hubert hereunto said, that he would choose none of these articles, as who knew himself neither guilty, nor worthy of any such confusion; but, to satisfy somewhat the mind of the king, he would be contented to depart the realm for a season, but to abjure the realm he would not so do.
In this mean time it befell that Ranulph, earl of Chester and of Lincoln, one of his sorest enemies, died. Hubert all this while remained in the chapel enclosed and guarded about with the power (as is said) of two shires, and so continued, till, at length, by the commandment of the king, his two servitors, which ministered unto him within the chapel, were taken from him. Then Hubert, seeing no other remedy, but there to starve for famine, offered himself of his own accord to the sheriffs, saying that he would put himself rather in the king's mercy, than there desperately to perish for hunger. And so was he taken, and, being fast bound in fetters, was brought again, and clapped, by the king's commandment, in the Tower of London.
Not long after this, word was brought unto the king by certain, that the said Hubert had much treasure lying in the house of the new templars in London. Whereupon the king, to try out the truth thereof, sendeth for the prior or master of the house; who, not daring to deny, confessed that there was indeed treasure brought into the house, but the quantity and number thereof he could not tell. The king, desirous to seize upon the treasure, required and charged the master with his brethren, with threatening words, to bring forth the treasure to him, saying that it was taken and stolen out of his treasury. But they answered again, that the treasure was committed with trust and faith unto their hands, and therefore they neither would nor ought to let it go out of their hands, being trusted withal, without the assent of him which committed the same unto them. When the king could get no other answer at their hands, neither durst show any further violence against them, he sendeth unto Hubert in the Tower, requiring of him the foresaid treasures. To whom he, answering again mildly, yielded both himself, his treasures, and all that ever he had, unto the king's will and pleasure; and so sending word unto the master and brethren of the temple, willeth them to take all the keys, and deliver the goods with all that there was unto the king; who, receiving the same, and taking an inventory of that which was received, caused it to be brought unto his treasury; whereof the number, both of the plate, of coin, and of the jewels, was of price unknown. The enemies of Hubert, supposing thereby to take advantage against him to bring him to his end, came with open complaint unto the king, crying out against Hubert, that he was a thief, a traitor, and a robber of the king's treasure, and therefore by right was worthy to be hanged; and thus cried his accusers daily in the king's ear. But the hearts of kings (saith the wise man) are in the hands of the Lord, to be ruled, not after man's will, but as it pleaseth God to direct them. And so this king, having now his will and fill upon poor Hubert, and somewhat coming more unto himself, answered again in this wise, that there was no such need to deal so straitly with him, who from the time of his youth first served mine uncle, King Richard, then my father King John, in whose service, (as I heard say,) beyond the seas, he was driven to eat his horse, and in my time hath stood so constantly in defence of the realm against foreign nations, who kept the castle of Dover against King Louis, and vanquished the Frenchmen upon the seas, also at Bedford and at Lincoln hath done such service. And though against me he hath dealt any thing untruly, which yet is not evidently proved, yet he shall never be put by me to so villanous a death. I had rather be counted a king foolish and simple than to be judged a tyrant or seeker of blood, especially of such as have served me and mine ancestors in many perils so dangerously, weighing more the few evils, which yet be not proved, than so many good deserts of his evident and manifest service done both to me and to the whole realm, &c. And thus the king, somewhat relenting to poor Hubert, his old servant, granted unto him all such lands as he had given by King John his father, and whatsoever else he had by his own purchase.
Thus Hubert, after long trouble, a little cheered with some piece of comfort, set Laurence, his trusty friend, that never left him, one that belonged to St. Albans, to be his steward and overseer of those possessions granted unto him by the king. And shortly upon the same, after the king's mind was seen thus something to relent, the envy also of the nobles being now partly satisfied, began to turn to mercy; insomuch that four earls, to wit, Earl Richard, the king's brother, William, earl of Warreine, Richard, earl marshal, and William, earl of Ferers, became sureties to the king for him. Upon whose surety he was transferred to the castle of Devizes, where he was under the keeping of four soldiers by them appointed, having the liberty of that castle. But the bishop of Winchester, who always hunted after the life of Hubert, craftily cometh unto the king, and desireth the custody of the castle, making no mention of Hubert, to the intent that by the keeping thereof he might the sooner despatch him. Hubert, having thereof some inkling, breaketh the matter to two of his servants, who, with compassion tendering his misery, watched their time, (the keepers being asleep,) and conveyed him by night on their backs, fettered as he was, into the parish church of the town, and there remained with him. The keepers, when they missed their prisoner, were in great perplexity; and after diligent search finding him at length where he was in the church, with violent force drew him from thence to the castle again. For the which injury to the church the bishop of Sarum, understanding the order of the matter, cometh to the castle where the keepers were, and required that Hubert should be brought again into the church from whence he was taken. Which, when the keepers denied to do, saying they would rather he should hang than they, then the bishop gave sentence of excommunication against them. Which done, he, with the bishop of London, and other bishops, goeth immediately unto the king, complaining of the injury done unto Hubert, and especially of the contumely against holy church; neither would they leave the king before they had obtained that he should be reduced again into the church; and so he was. It was not long after, but the king in great displeasure sendeth to the sheriff of the shire to keep him well watched in the church, till either he came forth, or there perished with famine.
It befell, in the mean season, that great dissension rose between the king and the nobles of the realm, by reason whereof Hubert was taken and carried away by Richard, earl marshal, into Wales, and there remained until the king at length was reconciled with his nobles, and so received (with the rest) the said Hubert again into his favour. Of the which dissension more shall be showed (Christ willing) hereafter.
As the beginning of this trouble of Hubert first sprang of vexing the pope's barns; so likewise Roger, bishop of London, suspected for the same cause, was forced to travel up to Rome, there to purge himself before the pope. Where after much money consumed and robbed also by the way, he got nothing else, but lost his labour, and so came home again. Who then, doing the part of a good bishop, after his return from Rome, attempted to expel and exclude out of his diocess all those Italian usurers called, as beforesaid, Caursini. These Caursinites, coming with the pope's legates into England, and lending their money to religious houses, to colleges and churches, had their debtors bound unto them in such sort as was much advantageable to them, and much injurious to the other, as in the form of their obligations in the story of Matthew Paris is largely expressed. Against these Caursinites the bishop of London, being worthily inflamed with zeal of justice, first with loving admonition went about to reclaim them for the wealth of their souls, afterward with sharp words began to charge them. But they, disregarding Christian counsel, and despising the bishop's threatenings, would not leave the sweetness of their occupation. Wherefore the bishop, proceeding unto the sentence of excommunication, precisely and distinctly charged them to depart his diocess. But they again, being confident and imboldened upon the pope's defence, not only set at light his excommunication, but also wrought such ways with the pope, that they caused the said bishop of London, being both aged and sickly, to be cited peremptorily to appear beyond the seas, there to answer to such objections as they should infer against him. And thus the bishop, minding rather to cover than to open the faults of the church, and partly being let with infirmity and age, was compelled to let the cause fall.
And thus much of the pope's merchants here in England, which were not so busy here for their part, but the pope, the great master of these merchant usurers, was as busy for his. And although his barns here in England were destroyed, and his bank something decayed, yet he thought to win it up another way; for he proclaimed the same year a general visitation through all the religious houses, exempt or not exempt, universally pertaining to his jurisdiction; where, by the cruel dealing of the visitors, many were compelled to appeal and to travel up to Rome, to the great expenses of their money, and filling the pope's coffers. But as touching this visitation, to make short, (saith the story,) it tended not to any reformation so much as to the deformation of universal order. While all they, which before through all parts of the world followed only the rule of Benedict, now, through new-devised constitutions, are found in all places so divided and diverse, that of all monasteries, and other churches of religion, scarce may two be found which do agree in one rule and institution of life.
All this while that Hubert above mentioned was secluded from the king, Peter, bishop of Winchester, bare all the rule, and above all other alone was accepted. This bishop being in such principal favour with the king, as by whose counsel all things were administered, removed the natural servitors that were Englishmen out of their offices, and placed other strangers, namely, of Pictavia and of other countries, in their rooms. Among whom was thrust out William, under marshal, which supplied the room of Richard, great lord marshal of England; for the which cause the said Lord Richard was mightily offended. Also Walter, treasurer of the king's house, was not only expelled, but also merced at a hundred pounds, and put from all his holds and munitions, which he had by the king's patent granted to him.
Moreover, by the counsel of the said bishop of Winchester, all the old counsellors, as well bishops as other earls and barons, and all the nobles, were rejected from the king in such sort, that he would hear and follow no man's counsel, but only the said Peter, bishop of Winchester, and his cousin Peter de Rivallis. Whereby it came to pass, that all the greatest holds and munitions in the realm were taken from the old keepers, and committed to the custody of the said Peter. Then the bishop of Winchester, to plant and pitch himself more strongly in the king's favour, adjoined to his fellowship Stephen Segrave, succeeding in the place of Hubert the justice: also Robert Paslew, who had the keeping of the treasure under the aforesaid Peter Rival. So by these three all the affairs of the realm were ordered. Moreover, to make their party more sure, by them it was provided, that soldiers and servitors from beyond the sea, as Pictavians and Britons, were sent for, to the number of two thousand, which were placed partly about the king, partly were set in castles and holds within the realm, and had the oversight and government of shires and baronies, who then oppressed the nobles of the land, accusing them to the king for traitors; whom the simple king did lightly believe, committing to them the custody of his treasures, the sitting in judgments, and the doing in all things. And when the nobles thus oppressed came to complain of their injuries to the king, by the means of the bishop of Winchester. their cause was nothing regarded; insomuch that the said Winchester moreover accused certain bishops also to the king, so that he did flee and shun them as open traitors and rebels.
These things standing thus out of order, Richard, the noble marshal of England, with others of the nobles joining with him, seeing these oppressions and injuries daily growing contrary to the laws and wealth of the realm came to the king, and blamed him for retaining such perverse counsel about him of the Pictavians and other foreigners, to the great prejudice of his natural subjects, and of the liberties of the realm; humbly desiring and beseeching him, that he, with as much speed as might be, would reform and redress such excesses, whereby the whole realm seemed to lie in danger of subversion. Otherwise, if be refused to see correction thereof, he, with other peers and nobles, would withdraw themselves from his council, so long as he maintained the society of those foreigners and strangers about him.
To this Peter Winchester, answering again, said that the king right well might call unto him what foreigners and strangers him listed, for the defence both of his kingdom and of his crown; and what number of them he would, as by whom he might be able to bridle his proud and rebellious subjects, and so to keep them in awe and good order. When the earl and the nobles could get no other answer of him, in great perturbation they departed, promising among themselves, in this case, which so touched the state of the whole realm, they would constantly join together to the parting of their life.
After this, the. foresaid Peter, bishop of Winchester, with his complices, ceased not by all means to inflame the king's heart to hatred and contempt of his natural people, whom they so vehemently perverted, that he, counting them no other than his enemies, sought by all diligence the utter destruction of them, sending daily for more garrisons of the Pictavians, that in short space they replenished well near the whole land, whose defence the king only trusted unto; neither was any thing disposed in the realm, but through the guiding of this Peter and of the Pictavians.
The king, thus guarded and strengthened with these foreign aliens and strangers, proclaimed a parliament to be holden at Oxford, where the nobles were waited to be present. They, considering the indignation of the king conceived, would not appear. Again they were required the first, second, and third time to present themselves. The assembly proceeded, but they came not, for whom the king looked. In this assembly or parliament, it was plainly told the king by a Dominic friar, preaching before him, that unless be removed from him the bishop of Winchester and Peter Rival, his kinsman, he should not, neither could, long enjoy peace in his kingdom. This, although it was bluntly spoken of the friar against the bishop, yet this remedy he had, the friar had nothing to lose. Yet was there another chaplain of the court, who, perceiving the king somewhat mitigated by the former preaching, and after a court-like dexterity handling his matter, being a pleasant conceited man, thus merrily came to the king, asking a question, What was the thing most pernicious and dangerous of all other things to them that travel by the seas? That, said the king, is best known to such as travel in that kind of traffic. Nay, (saith he,) this is easy to be told. The king demanding what it was, Forsooth, (quoth he,) stones and rocks; alluding merrily (but yet truly) to the bishop of Winchester, whose name and surname was Petrus de Rupibus, for so petræ in Latin signifieth stones, and rupes rocks. Notwithstanding, the king, either not perceiving the meaning, or not amending the fault, again sendeth to his nobles to have them come and speak with him at Westminster. But they, fearing some train to be laid for them, refused to appear, sending plain words to the king by solemn message, that his Grace without all delay should seclude from him Peter, bishop of Winchester, and other aliens of Pietavia; or if he would not, they, with the common assent of the realm, would displace him with his wicked counsellors from his kingdom, and have within themselves tractation for choosing a new king.
The king at the hearing of this message being mightily moved, partly to fear, partly to indignation, especially having the late example of King John his father before his eyes, was cast in great perplexity, doubting what was best to be done. But Winchester with his wicked counsel so wrought with the king, that he proceeded with all severity against them; insomuch that in short time the sparkles of poisoned counsel, kindling more and more, grew to sharp battle between the king and Richard, earl marshal, with other nobles, to the great disquietness of the whole realm. The which war before was presignified by terrible thundering and lightning heard all England over in the month of March, with such abundance of rain and floods growing upon the same, as cast down mills, overcovered the fields, threw down houses, and did much harm through the whole realm.
To prosecute here at large the whole discourse of this war between the king and the earl marshal, which continued near the space of two years, to declare all the parts and circumstances thereof, what troubles it brought, what damages it wrought unto the whole realm, what trains were laid, what slaughter of men, what waste of whole countries ensued from Wales unto Shrewsbury, how the marshal joined himself with Leoline, prince of Wales, how the Pictavians were almost all slain and destroyed, how the king was distressed, what forgery wily Winchester wrought by the king's letters to entrap the marshal, and to betray him to the Irishmen, amongst whom he was at length slain; all this I refer to other authors, who at large do treat of the same. This is tobe noted and observed, (which rather pertaineth to our ecclesiastical history,) to see what sedition and continual disquietness was in those days among all Christian people almost, being under the pope's catholic obedience; but especially, to mark the corrupt doctrine then reigning, it is to be marvelled, or rather lamented, to see the king and the people then so blinded in the principal point and article of their salvation, as we find in stories, which, making mention of a house or monastery of converts, builded the same year by the king at London, do express in plain words that he then did it for the redemption of his soul, of the soul of King John his father, and for the souls of all his ancestors, &c. Whereby may be understood in what palpable darkness of blind ignorance the silly souls redeemed by Christ were then inwrapped, which did not know nor yet were taught the right doctrine and first principles of their redemption.
Mention was made a little before of dissolving the election of John, prior of Canterbury, which was chosen by the monks to be archbishop of the said church of Canterbury, but by the pope was defeated. After whom one John Blund was elected, who travelling up to Rome this year, A.D. 1233, to be confirmed of the pope, was also repealed and unelected again, for that it was thought in England, and so complained of to the pope, that he had received of Peter, bishop of Winchester, a thousand marks, and had another thousand promised him of the said Winchester. Who by his money thought to make him of his side, and also wrote unto the emperor to help forward his promotion in the court of Rome. Notwithstanding, both he with his giving, and the other with his taking of bribes, were both detected and disappointed of their purpose. For the pope, hating then the emperor, for the same cause admitted not the election; pretending the cause, for that he was proved to hold two benefices without his dispensation. After whom, by the commandment of the pope, one Edmund, canon of Salisbury, was ordained archbishop, and had his pall sent to him from the pope. Which Edmund after for his virtues was canonized of the popish monks there for a saint, and called St. Edmund. About which time also Robert Grosthead was made bishop of Lincoln.
This Edmund, accompanied with other bishops, during this trouble between the king and his nobles, being in council at Westminster, in the year next ensuing, which was 1234, came uttering their minds boldly in the name of the lords, and declaring unto the king, as became his faithful servants, that his counsel, which then he followed, was not sound nor safe, but cruel and dangerous, both to him and to the state of the realm, meaning the counsel of Peter Winchester, and of Peter Rival, with other adherents.
1. First, for that they hate and contemn the English nation, calling them traitors and rebels, and turning the king's heart from the love of his natural subjects, and the hearts of them from him, as appeareth by the earl marshal and others, sowing discord among them.
2. Item, by the said counsel, to wit, by the foresaid bishop and his fellows, King John the king's father lost first the hearts of his barons, after that lost Normandy, and afterwards other lands also, and in the end wasted all his treasure, so that since that time the regiment of England had never any quiet after.
3. By the said counsel also, in their time and memory, the kingdom of England had been troubled and suspended, and in conclusion she that was before the prince of provinces became tributary; and so war ensuing upon the same, the said King John his father incurred great danger of death, and at last was extinguished, lacking both peace of his kingdom and of his own heart.
4. Item, by the said counsel the castle of Bedford was kept long time against the king, to the great loss both of men and treasure, beside the loss of Rupella, to the shame of the realm of England.
5. Moreover, through their wicked counsel, at this present, great perturbation seemed to hang over the whole realm; for else if it had not been for their counsel, and if that true justice and judgment might have been ministered unto the king's subjects, these tumults had never been stirred, and the king might have had his land unwasted, and his treasure unconsumed.
6. Item, in that faith and allegiance, wherewith they were obliged unto him, they protested unto him that they said his counsel was not a counsel of peace, but of division and disquietness, to the end that they which otherwise by peace could not aspire, by disturbing and disheriting others might be exalted.
7. Item, for that all the castles, forts, munitions, also all the officers of the exchequer, with all other the greatest escheats of the realm, were in their hands, of the which if the king would demand account, he should prove how true they were.
8. Item, for that neither by the king's seal nor commandment, except it bare withal the seal of Peter Rival, almost any business of any weight could be despatched in the realm, as though they counted their king for no king.
9. Furthermore, by the foresaid counsel, the natural subjects and nobles of the realm were banished the court, which was to be feared would grow to some inconvenience, both to the king and to the realm; forsomuch as the king seemed more to be on their side than they of his, as by many evident conjectures may appear.
10. Item, it was not well to he taken and liked, the said counsel standing of strangers and aliens, that they should have in their power both the king's sister, and many other noblemen's daughters and other women marriageable, with the kings wards and marriages, which they bestowed and divided among themselves, and men of their affinity.
11. Also the said counsel, regarding neither the laws nor liberties of the realm, confirmed and corroborated by excommunication, did confound and pervert all justice; wherefore it was to be feared that they would run under excommunication, and the king also in communicating with them.
12. Item, because they kept neither promise, nor faith, nor oath with any person, neither did observe any instrument made never so formal by law, nor yet did fear any excommunication; wherefore they were to be left for people desperate, as which were departed from all truth and honesty.
These things (said the bishops) we, as your faithful subjects before God and men, do tell and advertise your Grace, desiring and beseeching you, that you will remove and seclude from you such counsel; and, as the custom is of all other kingdoms to do, that you will so govern in like manner your kingdom by your own natural liege people, and such as be sworn unto you of your own realm. For thus (said they) in verity we denounce unto you, that unless in short time you will see these things reformed, we, according to our duty, will proceed by the censure of the church against you, and all others that gainsay the same, tarrying no other thing, but only the consecration of this our reverend archbishop.
These words of the bishops thus said and finished, the king required a little time of respite, wherein to advise with himself about the matter, saying that he could not in such a sudden remove from him his council, before he had entered with them account of his treasure committed to them; and so that assembly brake up.
It followed then after this communication so broken up, that the king resorted to the parts of Norfolk, where, coming by St. Edmundsbury, where the wife of Hubert the justice was, he being moved with zeal of pity toward the woman, who very humbly behaved herself to the king, did grant her eight manor places, which her busband before with his money had purchased, being then in the custody and possession of Robert Paslew, one of the king's new counsellors above specified. It was not long after this, that Edmund the archbishop was invested and consecrated in the church of Canterbury; and shortly after his consecration, about the month of April, coming with his suffragans to the place of council, where the king with his earls and barons was assembled, he opened to him the cause and purpose of his coming, and of the other prelates, which was to put him in remembrance of their former talk had with him at Westminster; denouncing moreover to him expressly, that unless with speed he would take a better way, and fall to a peaceable and godly agreement with the true and faithful nobles of his realm, he immediately, with the other prelates there present, would pass with the sentence of excommunication against him, and against all them that would be enemies to the same peace, and maintainers of discord.
The king, after he heard the meaning of the bishops, with humble and gentle language answered them again, promising to condescend to them in all things. Whereupon within few days after the king, coming to some better remembrance of himself, commanded the forenamed bishop of Winchester to leave the court, and to return home to his bishopric, there to attend unto the spiritual charge and care of his flock committed to him. Moreover, he commanded Peter Rival, the bishop's cousin, (some stories say his son,) who had then the disposing of all the affairs of the realm, to render unto him his castles, and to give account of all his treasures, whereof he had the keeping, and so to void the realm; swearing moreover unto him, but for that he was beneficed, and was within orders of the church, else he would have caused both his eyes to be plucked out of his head.
He expelled likewise the Pictavians out of the court, and from the custody of his munitions, sending them home into their country, and bidding they should no more see his face. And thus the king, wisely despatching himself of his wicked counsellors, first did send Edmund the archbishop, with the bishops of Chester and of Rochester, into Wales to Leoline, and to Richard, earl marshal, and others, to entreat with them of peace. Also be received to his service again men of his natural country, to attend about him, offering himself willing to be ruled by the counsel of the archbishop and the bishops, by whose prudence he trusted his realm should be reduced again to a better quietness.
But in the mean time, while these things were doing in England, the foresaid Richard, earl marshal, by the falsehood of the bishop of Winchester, and Peter Rival forging the king's letters to the Irishmen against him, and partly by the conspiracy of Gilbert de Marisco, being circumvented by the Irishmen in war, and there taken and wounded, was by them, through the means of this surgeon, slain.
Great slaughter the same time was of them which were called Catini, about the parts of Almaine. These Catini were esteemed of Pope Gregory and the papists to be heretics, but what their opinions were I find it not expressed.
In like sort the Albigenses afore mentioned, accounted also of the pope's flock to be heretics, with their bishops, and a great number and company of them, were slain by the commandment of Pope Gregory at the same time, in a certain plain in Spain.
How the archbishop of Canterbury, with other two bishops, were sent into Wales for entreaty of peace, ye heard before. At whose return again after the time of Easter, the king, going toward Gloucester to meet them by the way, as he was in his journey at Woodstock, there came messengers of Ireland, declaring to the king the death of Richard, earl marshal, and the order thereof, through the forged letters of Winchester and others; where at the king made great lamentation and mourning, to the great admiration of all them that were by, saying and complaining that he left not his like in all the realm again.
After this, the king proceeding in his journey came to Gloucester, where the archbishop, with the other bishops, coming to the king, declared to him the form and condition of peace which they had concluded with Leolin, which was this: If the king would be reconciled before with the other nobles with whom he was confederate, such as the king had banished out of his realm, to the end that the concord might be the more firm between them. Thus (said they) was Leolin contented, although with much ado and great difficulty, to receive the league of peace, saying and protesting this unto them, that he feared more the king's alms, than all the puissance both of him and of all his clergy within England.
This done, the king there remaining with the bishops, directed his letters to all the exiles and banished lords, and to all his nobles, that they should repair to him about the beginning of June, at Gloucester, promising to them his full favour, and reconcilement to them and to their heirs; and that they should suspect no fraud therein, they should have their safe conduct by the archbishop and bishops.
Whereupon, through the mediation of the said archbishop and the bishops, first cometh to the king Hubert, earl of Kent, offering himself to the king's good will and favour. Whom the king with cheerful countenance received and embraced, restoring him not only to his favour, but also to his household and council, with his livings and possessions, from which he had been disseized before. Then Hubert, lifting up his eyes to heaven, gave praise and glory to God, by whose gracious providence he, being so marvellously preserved from so great distresses and tribulations, was again so happily reconciled to the king and his faithful friends. After him in like sort came in Gilbert Basset, a nobleman, Richard Suard, also Gilbert, the brother of Richard, marshal, that was slain, which Gilbert recovered again his whole inheritance, as well in England as in Ireland, doing his homage to the king, and his service due for the same; to whom also was granted the office of the high marshal court, belonging before to his brother Richard.
In the same council or communication, continuing then at Gloucester, the said Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury, bringing the forged letters, wherein was betrayed the life of Richard, earl marshal, sealed with the king's seal, and sent to the great men of Ireland, read the same openly in the presence of the king and all the nobles. At the hearing whereof the king, greatly sorrowing and weeping, confessed there in truth, that being forced by the bishop of Winchester and Peter Rival, he commanded his seal to be set to certain letters presented unto him, but the tenor thereof he said and swore he never heard. Whereunto the archbishop answering again, desired the king to search well his conscience; and said, that all they which were procurers or had knowledge of those letters were guilty of the death of the earl marshal, no less than if they had murdered him with their own hands.
Then the king, calling a council, sent his letters for the bishop of Winchester, for Peter Rival, Stephen Segrave, and Robert Passelew, to appear and yield account for his treasures unto them committed, and for his seal by them abused. But the bishop and Rivall, keeping themselves in the sanctuary of the minster church of Winchester, neither durst nor would appear. Stephen Segrave, who succeeded after Hubert the justice, and was of the clergy before, after became a layman, and now, hiding himself in St. Mary's church in the abbey of Leicester, was turned to a clerk again. Robert Passelew covertly hid himself in a certain cellar of the new temple, so secretly that none could tell where he was, but thought he was gone to Rome. At length, through the aforesaid Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury, measures were taken, that a remote day was granted by the king for them to answer. At which day first appeared Peter Rival, then Stephen Segrave, after him Robert Passelew, each of them severally one after another showed themselves; but, not able to answer for themselves, like traitors they were reproved, and like villains were sent away.
While peace thus between the king and the nobles was reconciled in England, dissension and variance the same time and year began in Rome, between the pope and the citizens of Rome. The cause was, for that the citizens claimed by old custom and law, that the bishop of Rome might not excommunicate any citizen of the city, nor suspend the said city with any interdiction for any manner of excess.
To this the pope answered again, that he is less than God, but greater than any man; ergo, greater than any citizen, yea, also greater than king or emperor. And forsomuch as he is their spiritual father, he both ought and lawfully may chastise his children when they offend, as being subjected to him in the faith of Christ, and reduce them into the way again when they stray out of course.
Moreover, the citizens allege again for themselves, that the authorities of the city and senators do receive of the Church of Rome yearly tribute, which the bishops of Rome were bound to pay to them, both by new and also ancient laws. Of the which yearly tribute they have been ever in possession before this present time of this Pope Gregory the Ninth.
Hereunto the pope answered and said, that although the Church of Rome in time of persecution, for their defence and cause of peace, was wont to respect the head rulers of the city with gentle rewards, yet ought not that now to be taken for a custom; for that custom only ought to stand which consisteth not upon examples, but upon right and reason.
Further and besides, the citizens said that they, at the commandment of the senators, would appropriate their country with new and larger limits, and enfranchise the same, being enlarged with fines and borders.
To this the pope again made answer, that certain lordships, and cities, and castles, be contained within the compass of the said limits, as the city Viterbium, and Montcaster, which they presume to appropriate within their precinct; but to ascribe to them, and usurp that which pertaineth to others, is against right and justice.
For these and such other controversies rising between the pope and the Romans, such dissension kindled, that the pope, with his cardinals, leaving the city of Rome, removed to Perusium, (as partly before is recited,) thinking there to remain and to plant themselves; but the Romans prevailing against him, overthrew divers of his houses in the city, for the which he did excommunicate them. The Romans then, flying to the emperor, desired his aid and succour; but he, belike to pleasure the pope, gathering an army, went rather against the Romans. Then the pope's army, whose captains were the earl of Toulouse, (to purchase the pope's favour,) and Peter, the aforesaid bishop of Winchester, (whom the pope for the same end had sent for from England, partly for his treasure, partly for his practice and skill in feats of war,) and the emperor's host joined together, and, bordering about the city of Rome, cast down the castles or mansions belonging to the citizens round about the suburbs, to the number of eighteen, and destroyed all their vines and vineyards about the city. Whereat the Romans being not a little offended, burst out of the city, with more heat than order, to the number of one hundred thousand, as the story reporteth, to destroy Viterbium, the pope's city, with sword and fire. But the multitude, being unordered and out of battle-array, and unprovided for jeopardies, which, by the way, might happen, fell into the hands of their enemies, who were in wait for them, and of them destroyed a great number; so that on both parts were slain to the view of thirty thousand; but the most part was of the citizens. And this dissension, thus begun, was not soon ended, but continued long after.