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DEATH OF STEPHEN.
that Stephen should wear the crown till his death, and Henry receive the homage of the lords and towns of the realm as heir-apparent. The castles built before the king's accession were to be restored to their rightful owners; the new erections, whose number is differently stated at from one hundred and twenty-six to one thousand one hundred and fifteen, were to be pulled down. But Stephen had not the vigour to carry out this article of the treaty. Fortunately, in the course of the next year, 1154 A.D., death relieved England of her incompetent sovereign. His spirited wife, Maude, had died in the course of the previous year.2
The smaller number is given in the Chron. Norm. Duchesne, p. 989; the larger by Radulfus de Diceto.-Twysden, 528. Lappenberg mentions a third number, 375, apparently from Robert de Monte.-Eng. Gesch., band ii., p. 368.
2 She was daughter to the princess Maria, younger sister of Matilda, Henry I.'s queen, grand-daughter of Malcolm king of Scotland, and grand-niece of Edgar Etheling.
THE CONTEST WITH BECKET.
FIRST ACTS OF HENRY'S GOVERNMENT.-BECKET'S BIRTH AND RISE. HIS CHANCELLORSHIP.-NATURAL ANTAGONISM OF CHURCH AND STATE.-ASSERTION OF ARCHIEPISCOPAL RIGHTS.-ABUSES OF A DIVIDED JURISDICTION.-COUNCILS OF WESTMINSTER AND CLARENDON.-ARTICLES OF CLARENDON.-BECKET'S CONSENT AND RECANTATION.-COUNCIL OF NOTTINGHAM.-FLIGHT TO FRANCE. HENRY'S VIOLENT MEASURES. CORONATION OF THE YOUNG KING. BECKET'S RETURN TO ENGLAND, AND VIOLENT CONDUCT.— HIS MURDER.-HENRY'S PENANCE.-TRIUMPH OF HENRY'S POLICY.-CHARACTER OF BECKET.
EVERYTHING about the new king seemed to promise well for the kingdom. The better parts of his character had been developed by rivalry with Eustace; he was known to be brave and energetic, a warm-hearted man, and a well-intentioned, clear-headed ruler. His first acts showed that he understood the great want of his people. The Flemish mercenaries were sent groaning out of the land they had laid waste. The castles of Scarborough and Bridgenorth, which held out against the crown, were reduced without delay. Six castles were taken from Henry of Winchester and demolished; the turbulent prelate withdrew in disgust to Cluni, where he remained seven years absent from his diocese, till the scent of church preferment or church troubles brought him back. Order was restored in the kingdom by the nomination of royal commissioners to administer justice. Prospects abroad were favourable. The king inherited Normandy from his mother; he had
1 Trivet, p. 40.
2 Hemingburgh's words clearly indicate the appointment of sheriffs and of justiciaries, with whom appeals might be lodged. Whether they imply assizes
is doubtful, but they will bear that construction: "Quoties vero a subditis contra iniquos judices pulsabatur, mox provisionis regia remedium adhibebat.”—Vol. i., p. 82.
seized Anjou, Touraine, and Maine, to the exclusion of his brother Geoffrey, and in violation of a promise to his dying father; and the marriage with Eleanor of Acquitaine added all Gascony and Poitou to the English dominions. The English possessions in France were larger than those of the French crown, and were likely to increase. Louis of France, superstitious and weak, was no match for his rival.
A few days before Henry's coronation, an Englishman, Nicholas Breakspeare, had become pope Adrian IV. The prestige of these connections had its natural effect. Malcolm of Scotland did homage for his southern dominions, and consented to exchange the three northern counties of England for the earldom of Huntingdon. The Welsh, under Owain Gwynedd, were a little more difficult. Henry encumbered himself with a large army in invading the principality (1157 A.D.); and was surrounded in a woody gorge at Coleshill, near Basingwork; the standard-bearer, Henry of Essex, had already fled, crying all was lost, when the arrival of the earl of Clare with fresh troops saved the king and his army. The Welsh were reduced to submission, and fresh fortresses built.
Henry's minister, so to speak, during the first six years of his reign, was Thomas Becket. Becket's father, a Norman of Rouen, had settled in London for the purposes of trade; and had there served the office of port-reeve or mayor, but was reduced to comparative poverty in his old age. Thomas, the eldest son, was born 1117 A.D., educated at Merton convent, and sent to Paris that he might acquire a French accent. His father's losses compelled him to start in life as a city clerk or
1 Henry of Essex served afterwards without dishonour in the war of Toulouse. But in 1163 A.D., Robert de Montfort, quarrelling with him, appealed him of treason for his conduct in this war; a duel was ordained; and Henry being struck down, was spared by the king's mercy, and allowed to become a monk in Reading monastery. He attributed his defeat to the supernatural appearance of a knight whom he had murdered by the side of his adversary.Chron. Joc. de Brak., p. 52.
2 The antiquity of the name Becket, has lately been called in question. It, however, occurs in Garnier's Life (p. 7), which was finished within six years of the archbishop's death.-Compare Hoveden; Savile, p. 281.
BECKET'S EARLY LIFE.
accountant; a lodger in his master's house introduced him to the household of archbishop Theobald,' and the young man's talents increased the interest which the primate, a native of Thierce-ville, had felt for the son of a countryman. Becket was loaded with preferment, and became a rich man. He was allowed to study canon law at Bologna under Gratian, the first canonist of the day. While his views were perhaps formed by this residence, his destiny was decided by a foreign mission. He obtained the important bull which forbade Theobald to crown Eustace and thus established a title to the gratitude of the new king. The clergy, who remembered Geoffrey of Anjou's hostility to the church, were anxious that one of their own body should obtain the king's confidence; Theobald recommended his own protégé to be chancellor; and Becket is said to have paid a large sum for the post.3 Its duties were only
1 Vitæ Beck., vol. i., pp. 98, 184.
2 There has been a little difficulty whether it was Becket's father or grandfather who came from Normandy. All biographers except one call his father Gilbert and his mother Matilda. The anonymous author of the Lambeth MS. calls the mother Roesa (Vitæ Beck., vol. ii., p. 73), and Fitz-Stephen says "Gilbertus" (the father) "cum domino archipræsule de propinquitate et genere loquebatur; ut ille ortu Normannus et circa Tierrici villam de equestri ordine natu vicinus."-Vita Beck., vol. i., p. 184. Mr. Robertson harmonizes these accounts, and thinks that Becket's grandfather was the first settler in London; strengthening his position by a phrase of Becket's, who calls his "progenitores" "cives Londonienses." The "circa Tierrici villam natu," &c., clearly refers to Theobald; if Becket's father came from the chief town of the district, it would be sufficient to establish a bond between them: but the further back the settlement in England is pushed, the more difficult it is to suppose that that bond would be recognized. Still it may have happened that grandfather and father came over together, so that the latter may still have been born and educated in Normandy. The writer of the Lambeth MS. may have confounded Becket's sister Roesa with his mother Matilda.
Foliot, Epist. 194. Mr. Berington and Mr. Morris have doubted the anthenticity of this letter, or at least its publication in Becket's lifetime, on the ground that it contains heavy charges which Becket did not answer. Foliot's letter might well be written angrily; it was an answer to one from Becket (Becket, Epist. 129), who charged him with suffering Christ to be crucified again in his servant; or perhaps, even more probably, to one still stronger, in which Becket accused him of betraying the church from fear, and joining Henry in all his most odious measures (Becket, Epist. 130). Becket might consider the controversy closed, or might prefer the effectual method which he
DUTIES OF THE CHANCELLOR.
judicial in a secondary sense. The chancellor sat as assessor to the grand justiciary, especially in revenue cases, and issued writs that concerned proceedings in the curia regis and the exchequer. As he kept the king's seal, without which charters, treaties, and public instruments were generally invalid, the chief conduct of foreign affairs devolved upon him. But as he administered vacant benefices, dispensed the royal alms, and kept the king's conscience, he was naturally an ecclesiastic, and was pretty certain to be promoted to a bishopric. The discredit of simony, therefore, attached to a clerk not yet a bishop buying the office; and, true or false, the charge was brought bitterly against Becket in after-life. Yet, at most, the transaction only showed a certain callousness on points of moral casuistry.
Before long, Becket stood high in the king's favour. A tall, handsome man, eloquent and witty, a good chess-player, fond of hunting and hawking, superficially versed in literature, he seemed born for a court. From the moment of his promotion, his life was strictly decorous. Men talked flatteringly of their hopes to see a second English pope. The chancellor's palace was a court and college for the young nobility. When
actually took, of procuring papal censures against his opponent (Becket, Epist. 131, 132). Foliot enjoyed a high character; Becket himself calls him, perhaps contemptuously, "in religione nutritum et religionis exercitationibus nutritum," alluding, probably, to his profession at Cluni. He had opposed Becket's election till, by his own account, the king threatened himself and his family with exile, and was charged with desiring the primacy for himself. Later on (1173 A.D.) the charge was renewed. He then excused himself for impeding the election of the king's nominee on the ground that he only asserted the rights of the bishops to interfere (Foliot, Epist. 269). It is in his favour that he was a strict churchman all his life; men accused him of faction and ambition, but never of canvassing or simony. He himself explains his theory of church and state to be one of separate privileges and mutual concessions in the interest of order. In fact, he regarded the state as co-ordinate with the church; Becket as subordinate to it.
1 The distinction is important, as there seems to have been no other ground of objection. Madox says: "In the reign of king Stephen, Geoffrey the chancellor fined in £3,006 13s. 8d. for the king's seal."-History of the Exchequer, vol. i., p. 62. This Geoffrey was Geoffrey Ruffus, bishop of Durham. For a good account of the chancellor's duties, see Reeves' History of English Law, vol. i., pp. 60, 61.