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276

NORMAN INNOVATIONS.

sion of several Saxon saints from the calendar. The people could not believe that the new Bible was inspired; they regarded it as a subtle invention of the primate; and their attachment to their local patrons, was quickened by their ignorance of the continental saints who replaced them. Lanfranc justified his proceedings by the vague manner in which the title "saint" had been conferred; Ælfeg, he said, had not died for God's glory, but for refusing to ransom himself.1 The people still murmured; they felt like the Latin cities which Rome subdued, and which saw their gods transferred to the temples of their conquerors.

Lanfranc himself seems to have bestowed his preferment conscientiously. But William, in spite of his piety, was less scrupulous, and repeatedly gave benefices to buy off old claims on his bounty, or to place power in the hands of trustworthy partizans. Ignorant and vulgar men swarmed over from the continent to enjoy the church plunder of England. One of these new Norman prelates, Robert of Chester, built himself a palace with the spoils of a neighbouring monastery. Thurstan, abbot of Glastonbury, tried to substitute a Norman fashion of plain song for the Gregorian, which had hitherto been used. The monks were refractory, and Thurstan called in the men-at-arms of his estate, who pursued the terrified delinquents into the abbey church, and killed or wounded several on the very steps of the altar. This crime, however, so far transcended ordinary experience, that the king banished Thurstan, and refused ever to restore him; the profligate Rufus was more amenable to a bribe. Generally, the presence of a Norman abbot had at least the one good effect of protecting the monks from the insults of neighbouring barons, who harried the cattle and usurped the lands of

1 In this particular instance, Lanfranc gave way to Anselm's arguments, and replaced Ælfeg.

2 Lanfranc, Op., vol. i., p. 51.

* Malmesbury, lib. iii., p. 451.

Two were killed, and fourteen wounded. It is a slight palliation of this outrage, that there seems to have been a general scuffle, in which the monks, wielding benches and candelabra, at last prevailed, and drove their opponents into the choir.-Flor. Wig., vol. ii., p. 17.

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English church corporations. It was among the worst results of these violences, that scrupulous men shrunk from profiting by the favours of blood-stained and disorderly conquerors. The venerable Guitmund, a monk without office in a petty Norman monastery, was summoned across the seas to William's court, and invited to take up his residence there till a bishopric should fall vacant. Guitmund answered that he was a sick man, perplexed with doubts and sorrows of thought and frailties of an infirm purpose. But were he fitter than he was to guide others, he would never accept preferment of which the rightful owners had been forcibly dispossessed, or share in the spoils of blood. When he thought of the crimes by which England had been won, he trembled to touch it, with all its wealth, as though it glowed with the fire of hell. Then, dilating into prophecy, he warned the king and court of the just judgements of God which had overtaken all the great spoilers of mankind, and would certainly call the Normans one day to account. William, respecting Guitmund's sincerity, gave him an honourable passage back, and offered him the archbishopric of Rouen on the next vacancy. But the Norman clergy had heard with indignation of the man who rebuked the sins by which his neighbours profited. They urged a canonical reason against Guitmund's election: he was the son of a priest. Guitmund did not care to cause any heart-burnings for a mere matter of personal advantage. He obtained his superior's leave to quit the country, and ended his days in Italy, as bishop of Aversa.1

William's policy to the church, regarded as a distinct society from the state, produced the most important results on the fortunes of his successors and of England. He slightly strengthened the connection with Rome, but deprived the national clergy of half their powers. The interference of legates was necessary to depose the Saxon prelates from their sees: so far

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1 M. Prevost has pointed out some chronological difficulties in this narrative. Guitmund had gone to Italy as early as 1077 A.D., and the archbishop of Rouen did not die till 1079 A.D. Probably the name of the see is wrongly given. But there is no need to reject the main incidents of so touching a story.— Orderic, vol. ii., pp. 226-234.

278

ASSERTION OF STATE SUPREMACY.

William admitted it readily, and repaid the papal court by a more rigid enforcement of Peter's pence. But when Hildebrand was encouraged to demand fealty from the king whose arms the pope had blessed, William returned a peremptory refusal ; none of his ancestors had done it, and he would give up no old right.1 Hildebrand knew something of the king's character, and allowed the question to drop. The English clergy had hitherto been at once a part of the commonwealth and a separate state by themselves. Their synods, although sometimes attended by the king and nobles, had been virtually free to prescribe their public policy as a body, or to draw up laws for the regulation of daily life. They had wielded the whole correctional police of the country; and the bishop had sate by the side of the caldorman to dispense justice in the scir-gemots. These powers-small, safe, and perhaps salutary in barbarous times, when any means of enforcing law were valuable-were dangerous when the relations of neighbouring states had become more intricate, and when the popular sense of right and wrong had begun to confound the secular notion of injury with the spiritual notion of sin. For the clergy to decide which pope they should obey in case of a contested election, might seriously embarrass public policy. William declared that the question of recognition lay with himself. The declaration did. not settle the matter. The claim of the church was inadmissible, but it was logically just; so long as the clergy were a separate caste under a pope, it was for them to determine who was their head; otherwise they were no independent body, but a branch of the public service. William's edict was the preamble to Henry VIII.'s assertion of state supremacy: between the two lay more than four centuries of passionate discussion on the two rival sovereignties. The enactment that the English church, assembled in council, might pass no laws or canons except such as William had recommended or approved, was another statesman-like act, which created its own precedent. The

1 "Fidelitatem facere nolui nec volo, quia nec ego promisi, nec antecessores meos antecessoribus tuis id fecisse comperio."-Lanfranc, Op., vol. i., p. 32.

LIMITATION OF CHURCH POWERS.

279

church could prove from history that it had never been controlled in this function. But inasmuch as it claimed and exercised the right to fine moral delinquents, to seclude them from society and withdraw them from active service, when it entered in certain cases on the property of those who had infringed its canonical laws, the state might well think itself justified in limiting the extension of these powers. One point was so important that it called for a separate enactment. A man whom the church excommunicated, was in strict theory an outcast from all society; his wife and children must shrink from him, his household shared the sentence if they brought him food, no man might serve in arms with him. Clearly these powers, even if justly exercised, much more if wielded by a passionate or factious bishop, might cause irretrievable injury to the public service. William therefore ordained that no chief tenant of the crown, however great his sin, should be excommunicated in future, except by the king's special precept. It was probably understood that the precept was not to be refused-rather, that it was to be backed by the kingly power in flagrant cases; our Norman sovereigns were not very rigid moralists, but they had a pecuniary interest in enforcing penalties. We do not hear that the upright and courageous churchman, Lanfranc, offered any opposition to these innovations: though he would probably have treated the first as a dead letter, if it had ever stood in his way. But he must have felt the difficulties of William's position, and that the extension and clashing of rival courts were injuries to the administration of justice: that any inquisition and secular courts could not co-exist. As a churchman, he probably felt that his order suffered from mixing in temporal matters. It may therefore have been as a matter of discipline that the bishops about this time withdrew from the scir-gemots and confined themselves to their own courts. But the fact that local privileges were degraded, and feudal powers raised, no doubt assisted the change: the prelates did not care for a disputed rule in courts that were almost contemptible.'

Eadmer, Hist. Nov., lib. i., p. 352.

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280

TRANSFORMATION OF THE FRANK-PLEDGE SYSTEM.

William's general policy was to leave the laws which he found in the country unaltered, and to content himself with enforcing them stringently. The frith-guild or frank-pledge system gave every guarantee for order which even a conqueror could desire. And William was not cruel; he abolished capital punishment, and substituted penalties of mutilation, in order that the correction might be proportioned to the offence. But the spirit of institutions may change while the letter remains unaltered, and it made a great difference to the subject-people whether they were bound in a general way to keep order among themselves, or were responsible for offences against the peace to men who had a direct interest in pressing the penalties of the law against them. Assassination was a common form of English vengeance upon the lawless foreign soldiery. At first, the murderers were accustomed to mutilate the body, that it might not be recognized, in order to save their neighbours from the murdrum, or fine of blood, which was heavier for a Norman than for an Englishman. To prevent this evasion of justice, the practice was introduced of considering every slain man a Norman, unless proof of "Englishry" were made by the four nearest relatives of the deceased. With a similar object, the ordeal was substituted in cases of felony for compurgation; no Saxon murderer would ever have been convicted on his neighbours' oaths. The famous curfew-bell, which was tolled at sunset in sign that lights and fires were to be put out, was a further expedient of police. The evening beerclubs had become dangerous as the rendezvous of conspi

1 Secundum enim quantitatem delicti debet pæna maleficis infligi.—Leges Gul. Conq., iii., 17; A. S. Laws, vol. i., p. 494.

Leges Gul. Conq., iii., 3; A. S. Laws, vol. i., pp. 490, 491; Dial. de Scac., lib. i., c. 10. Bishop Nigel speaks of the murdrum, or fine for blood, as if it were introduced by the conqueror. This is contrary to all analogy, and to the express evidence of the laws called of Edward the Confessor, which are at least anterior to the Dialogus de Scaccario.-Leges Edw. Conf., 15; A. S. Laws, vol. i., p. 448. Presentments of Englishry took place throughout the reign of Richard I., but are not recorded later.-Abbrev. Plac., pp. 13, 17, 18, 19. But the upper and middle classes were by that time so mixed, that the proof was rather one of condition than of race.

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