Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln - A Short Story of One of the Makers of Mediaeval England
by Charles L. Marson
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He was hardly abreast of his very legal time in reverence for the feudal system. One of his tenants died and his bailiffs seized the best thing he had, to wit, an ox, as heriot due to the lord. The poor widow in tears begged and prayed for her ox back again, as the beast was breadwinner for her young children. The seneschal of the place chimed in, "But, my lord, if you remit these and similar legal dues, you will be absolutely unable to hold the land at all." The bishop heard him and leapt from his horse to the ground, which was very muddy. He dug both hands into the dirt. "Now I have got the land," he said, "and yet I do remit the poor little woman her ox," and then he flung the mud away, and lifting his eyes added, "I do not want the land down here; I want heaven. This woman had only two to work for her. Death has taken the better one and are we to take the other? Perish such avarice! Why, in the throes of such wretchedness, she ought to have comfort much rather than further trouble." Another time he remitted L5 due from a knight's son, at his father's death, saying it was unjust and mischievous that he should lose his money because he had lost his father too. "He shall not have double misfortune at any rate at our hands." Even in the twelfth century piety and business sometimes clashed.

Hugh had not been enthroned a year, when Christendom was aghast and alarmed at the news from the East. Saladin with eighty thousand men had met the armies of the Cross at Tiberias (or Hittin), had slaughtered them around the Holy Rood itself, in the Saviour's own country, had beheaded all the knights of the Temple and the Hospital who would not betray the faith. Jerusalem had fallen, and Mahomet was lord of the holy fields. "The rejoicing in hell was as great as the grief when Christ harrowed it," men said. The news came in terrible bursts; not a country but lost its great ones. Hugh Beauchamp is killed, Roger Mowbray taken. The Pope, Urban III., has died of grief. The Crusade has begun to be preached. Gregory VIII. has offered great indulgences to true penitents and believers who will up and at the Saracens. He bade men fear lest Christians lose what land they have left. Fasting three days a week has been ordered. Prince Richard has the cross (and is one, to his father). Berter of Orleans sings a Jeremiad. Gilbert Foliot (foe to St. Thomas) is dead. Peace has been made between France of the red cross and England of the white, and Flanders of the green. King Henry has ordered a tax of a tenth, under pain of cursing, to be collected before the clergy in the parishes from all stay-at-homes. Our Hugh is not among the bishops present at this Le Mans proclamation. The kingdom is overrun, in patches, with tithe collectors. Awful letters come from Christian remnants, but still there is no crusade; France and England are at war. The new Pope is dead. Now old Frederick Barbarossa is really off to Armenia. Prayers and psalms for Jerusalem fill the air. The Emperor is drowned. Archbishop Baldwin and Hugh of Durham, notwithstanding, quarrel with their monks. Scotland is always in a tangle. Great King Henry, with evil sons and failing health, makes a sad peace in a fearful storm, learns that son John too has betrayed him, curses his day and his sons, and refuses to withdraw his curse, dies at Chinon before the altar, houselled and anhealed, on the 6th of July, 1189. But when dead he is plundered of every rag and forsaken.

That last Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity, Hugh had been abroad with the poor king, and had been the only bishop who insisted upon keeping his festivals with full sung Mass and not a hasty, low Mass.

Hugh de Nonant, the new bishop of Coventry, one Confessor's Day had begun saying the introit, when his Lincoln namesake lifted up his voice and began the long melic intonation. "No, no, we must haste. The king has told us to come quickly," said the former. The answer was, "Nay, for the sake of the King of kings, who is most powerfully to be served, and whose service must bate nothing for worldly cares, we must not haste but feast on this feast," and so he came later, but missed nothing. Before the king died Hugh had gone back to his diocese again, and heard the sorrowful news there.


{3} The white.

{4} He was acting by a Canon of 1138, passed at Westminster.

{5} Thornholm is near Appleby, and is a wooded part of the county even to this day.

{6} From this and from various incidental remarks it may be concluded that Hugh knew Hebrew, which is not remarkable, because the learned just then had taken vigorously to that tongue and had to be restrained from taking lessons too ardently in the Ghetto. Some of his incidental remarks certainly did not come from St. Jerome, the great cistern of mediaeval Hebrew.



Henry was dead before his friend was three years a bishop, and with him died Hugh's hopes of better men on the bench, for Richard's bishops were treasurers, justiciars and everything but fathers of their dioceses. Tall, blue-eyed, golden-haired Richard the Viking, had a simple view of his father's Empire. It was a fine basis for military operations.{7} He loosed some of the people's burdens to make them pay more groats. He unlocked the gaols. He made concessions to France and Scotland. He frowned upon the Jews, a frown which only meant that he was going to squeeze them, but which his people interpreted into a permission to wreak their hatred, malice, and revenge upon the favoured usurers.

The massacre of Jews which began in London and finally culminated in the fearful scenes of York, spread to other parts and broke out in place after place. In Lent (1190) the enlisting for the crusade was going on in Stamford. The recruits, "indignant that the enemies of the Cross of Christ who lived there should possess so much, while they themselves had so little for the expenses of so great a journey," rushed upon the Jews. The men of Stamford tried to stop the riot, but were overcome, and if it had not been for the Castle the Jews would have been killed to a man. Two of the plunderers fell out over the booty. One, John by name, was killed, martyred it was supposed. The old women had dreams about him. Miracles began. A shrine was set up and robber John began to develop into Saint John. Then down came the bishop, scattered the watchers and worshippers, hacked down the shrine and forbade any more such adoration of Jew-baiting thieves, with a thundering anathema. The Lincoln people next began the same game, but they did not reckon with the new warden, Gerard de Camville, who had bought the revenues and provided a harbour there for the Israelites. We may believe that the bishop also was not behind hand in quelling such bloody ruffianism, for the Jews were afterwards very conspicuous in their grief at his death, evidently owing him something.

King Richard, athirst for adventure, sold all that he could, taxed all that he could, and then set off for the crusade, carrying with him Baldwin the gentle archbishop, who was to die in despair at the gross habits and loose morals of the crusading hosts. He left behind him brother John, whom he had tried to bribe into fidelity, and a little lame, black foreigner, Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, who had been adviser, schemer, general brain box and jackal to the Lionheart, and who now swept through England with a thousand knights, trying cleverly and faithfully to rule the restive English and to keep them in some order and loyalty, in his ill-bred, active way. But the whole position was impossible and more impossible, first, because of John the always treasonable; and secondly, because of Walter, late Bishop of Lincoln and now of Rouen (the Pilate or Pilot?) whom Richard sent to guard the guardian. Geoffrey, half brother to the king, next came upon the scenes as a new complication. He had been made Archbishop of York and overlord of Durham. Black William's sister Richenda seized this archbishop and imprisoned him: and then Hugh joined the anti-Longchamp party, sided actively with John and with Gerard de Camville, who was beseiged in Lincoln. Hugh excommunicated Richenda. His influence turned the scale against Longchamp.

It would require a treatise in itself to unfold all the tangled story of the first half of Richard's reign till the king returned to England after war, prison, and heavy ransom, in March 1194. Practically, at this date the Bishop of Lincoln disappears as much as possible from political life; or at least tried to do so. He was building the cathedral and doing his duty as bishop, befriending the needy and the outcast, and showing himself the enemy of wrong-doers. Now we hear of him clipping the love locks of his young sacristan Martin, who straightway became a monk; now following in the steps of great St. Martin by some passionate acts of pity, and now retiring mostly in harvest time (when all hands are busy and all hearts are out of reach) to his beloved Witham for a month's retreat.

Of course all devout people in the Middle Ages had an especial care for lepers because of that most fortunate mistranslation in Isaiah liii. 4. which we render "we did esteem Him stricken," but which the Vulgate renders putavimus eum quasi leprosum: we did esteem Him as it were a leper. Hence service to lepers was especially part of service to Christ. At Maiden Bradley, in Somerset, was a colony of leprous sisters; and at Witham Church a leper window looked towards their house. At Lincoln{8} was the Hospital of the Holy Innocents called La Malandrie. It was founded by St. Remigius, the Norman cathedral builder, with thirteen marks revenue and further endowed by Henry I. and Henry II. The condition of all these leper outcasts was more than miserable. The disease was divided into the breeding, full and shipwreck periods. When the first was detected the patient was led to church, clothed in black, Mass and Matins for the dead were said over him, earth was thrown upon his foot, and then he was taken to a hovel on waste land where he was to be buried at the last. Here he found a parti-coloured robe, a coat, two shirts, a rattle, knife, staff, copper girdle, bed, table, and lamp, a chair, chest, pail, cask and funnel, and this was his portion for ever. He was not before 1179 allowed even a leprous priest to say Mass for him. The disease rotted away his flesh till he died, limbless or faceless in fearful shipwreck, and unhouselled. These wretches this bishop took under his peculiar care. He would wash them with his own hands, as his mother did before him, kiss them, serve them with meat, drink, and money. He would have thirteen together in his room, if he could find that number. He maintained many, both men and women. He would go to the Malandry, stop in a cell there, accompanied by a few of his devoutest and closest friends, and cosset the lepers motheringly, telling them they were desolate and afflicted only to be rewarded for ever, persuading them to a holy life with his pitying words, reproving them for their evil deeds (and many lepers were horribly immoral); but before ever he talked to them he kissed the men, embracing longer and more lovingly those who were worst smitten. The swelled, black, gathered, deformed faces, eyeless or lipless, were a horror to behold, but to Hugh they seemed lovely, in the body of their humiliation. Such he said were happy, were Paradise flowers, great crown gems of the King Eternal. He would use these as a text and speak of Christ's compassion to the wretched, Christ who now took ulcerous Lazarus by angels to Abraham's bosom and now became weak with our weakness. "Oh, how happy they were who were close about that so sweet man as his friends! Whatever his foot trod upon, or any part of him had touched, or his hands had handled, it would be sweet indeed to me, to devour with kisses, to put to my eyes, to bury in my very heart if I could. What of this superfluous humour, if one may use the word of what flowed from the tree of life? What am I to feel of that humour which used to be poured from a vase of such blessing because He bare our infirmity? Why, of course, if I only could, I should diligently gather Him, yes, and drain Him with my lips, drink Him in with my jaws, and hide just Him in my inward parts. Those are the really wretched, who fear aught else than to offend One so sweet. Those are the pitiful who esteem aught else sweet, or seek aught else than sweetly to cleave to this sweet One and sweetly obey Him. I do not know what he can feel to be bitter, who with the inner palate of the heart has learnt by continuous meditation to feed on the sweetness of this Sweet." Thus inspired, he looked upon the weaker limbs of Christ, honouring those whom others passed by.

Not only was he bountiful to lepers, but what with the alms asked of him and given by a hand that often outran the tongue of need, he gave away a third of all he had in this way alone. Once at Newark he met a leper and kissed him. There a most learned Canon from Paris, William de Montibus, a great master and author, an early Cruden, and the Chancellor of the Diocese, said to him, "Martin's kiss cleansed the leper." The bishop answered humbly, "Martin kissed the leper and cured his body, but the leper's kiss has cured my soul."

Of Hugh's courage several instances are cited (but impossible now to date). He went several times unarmed against threatening bands of men who flourished naked swords. In Lincoln Church, in Holland as aforementioned, and in Northampton, he faced angry clerks and laymen, knights and men at arms, and burgesses with equal vigour, and excommunicated them. It is not unlikely that the first was in defence of the Jews, and the third when he stopped the worship of a thief at the last place. The second may have been when he placed himself among the enemies of Longchamp.

He was believed, and he believed himself, to be able to cause death to those whom he excommunicated. This was so firmly acknowledged that it saved him in many a severe pinch, and shielded him from indifference, beggary, and defeat. Many instances are given us, in which misfortune and death followed upon his censures. If any one likes to plead post hoc, non ergo propter hoc, judgment may go by default; but at any rate the stories show the life of the time most vividly, and the battle for righteousness which a good bishop had to wage.

There lived at Cokewald an oldish knight, Thomas de Saleby, whose wife Agnes was barren. William, his brother, also a knight, but of Hardredeshill, was the heir to the estate. Dame Agnes detested William and schemed to disappoint him. She gave out that she was with child. William disbelieved, consulted friends, but could find no remedy. About Easter, 1194, the lady affected to be confined. A baby, Grace by name, was smuggled into the room, and sent back to its mother to be suckled. Outwitted, William went off in distress to the bishop, who sent for Sir Thomas, in private, charged him, and tried to make him confess. But he, "fearing the scoldings of his too tongue-banging wife more than God's justice, and being, moreover, spell-bound by her viperine hissings," affected utter innocence. The bishop plied him vigorously, urging public opinion and his own old weak state. At last he promised that he would go home and talk with Agnes, and report the next day, and if he found these things so, would obey orders. "Do so," said the bishop, "but know that if you bate your promise, the sentence of excommunication will strike solemnly and fearfully all the doers and abetters of this wrong." But Agnes' tongue outdid the bishop's, and Thomas sulked indoors. The bishop preached about this in public, on the Easter Monday, and said it was a sin unto death. He then knotted the cord of anathema round the daring conspirators. Satan was soon up and at Thomas. He wrenched away the soul of the unhappy knight, who had gone to bed to escape the worry, and there died a sad example to wife-ruled husbands. Agnes, however, defied them all and braved out her story; and here is the crux: the infant was legally legitimate because Thomas had acknowledged it to be such. King Richard allowed little Grace, aged four, to be betrothed to Adam, a brother of Hugh de Neville, his chief forestar. Hugh, who was always at war with child marriages, issued a special caveat in this case. But when he was away in Normandy they found a priest (a fool or bribed) to tie the knot. The priest was suspended and the rest excommunicated. In the next act the chambermaid confessed; and lastly Agnes' nerve gave way, and she did the same. But Adam still claimed the lands, won a suit in London, although William bid five hundred marks against him, and died drunk at an inn, with his baby bride. Hugh's comment was that "the name forestar is right and aptly given, for they will stand far from the kingdom of God." But the little heiress was again hunted into marriage, this time by a valet of John's, Norman of the chamber, who bought her for two hundred marks. He died, and the little girl was sold for three hundred marks to Brien de Insula, a man known to history. Grace at the last died childless, though she seems to have been a pious wife; and Saleby came back at the last to William's long defrauded line.

Yet another forestar also under ban found some men in his forest cutting brush-wood, handled them insolently and was cut to pieces and stuck together again with twigs and left at the cross roads.

Again a deacon, Richard de Waure, quarrelled with a knight, Reginald de Argentun, and maliciously accused him of treason. The bishop forbade the suit, but the deacon danced off to my lord of Canterbury, Hubert the Justiciar, who was the real King of England and one of the ablest men the country had to serve her. He felt it right that the suit should continue. Hugh declared that he had acted as Justiciar, not as Metropolitan, and suspended Richard, who again went off to Hubert and got the sentence relaxed, and boasted that he was free from Lincoln jurisdiction. Hugh simply added excommunication to the contumacious deacon. Again the archbishop loosed, and Hugh bound. "If a hundred times you get absolved by the lord archbishop, know that we re-excommunicate you a hundred times or more, as long as we see you so all too hardened in your mad presumption. It is evident what you care for our sentence. But it is utterly fixed and settled." Then the deacon hesitated, but before he could make up his mind his man cracked open his head with an axe.

Then again there was a girl at Oxford, who, backed by a Herodias mother, left her husband for another love. The husband appealed to the bishop, who told her to go back. She kept repeating that she would sooner die. Hugh tried coaxing. He took her husband's hand and said, "Be my daughter and do what I bid you. Take your husband in the kiss of peace with God's benison. Otherwise I will not spare you, be sure, nor your baneful advisers." He told the husband to give her the kiss of peace. But when he advanced to do so the hussey spat in his face near the altar (of Carfax) and before many reverend fathers. With a fearful voice the bishop said, "You have eschewed the blessing and chosen the curse. Lo! the curse shall catch you." He gave her a few days' respite and then pronounced the curse. "She was suffocated by the enemy of mankind, and suddenly changed lawless and vanishing pleasures for unending and just tortures," says the unhesitating scribe.

Once a Yorkshire clerk was turned out of his benefice by a knight (who was in our sense also a squire) simply that the gentleman might clap in his brother. The poor parson appealed to Courts Christian and Courts Civil, but found his enemy was much too favoured for him to effect anything. He tried Rome, but, poor Lackpenny, got what he might have expected from that distant tribunal. In his distress he turned to the chivalrous Bishop of Lincoln. Now, Hugh had no business at all to meddle with Archbishop Geoffrey Plantagenet's diocese, but it was a case of "Who said oppression?" He banned the obtruding priest by name and all his accomplices. Some died, some went mad or blind. Thus William got his own again, for, as all who knew expected, Hugh's anathema meant repentance or death.

These anecdotes explain much that follows, and not a little the great strain that there was between Archbishop Hubert Walter and the Bishop of Lincoln. Perhaps this strain was bound to be felt, because the policy of the former was to employ churchmen largely in political and secular affairs, the policy of the other to exclude them as much as possible. In the abstract we can hardly think that it is well that priests should rule the State or bishops manipulate the national finances. But to lay down that rule at the close of the twelfth century was to cut the spine between the brains of the State and its members. Hugh, perhaps, allowed too little for the present distress; Hubert for the distant goal. Anyhow they collided.

Hubert, in his capacity of financial viceroy, the moment Richard had come back from captivity, been re-crowned, and gone off again, sent off the visiting justices to look after various pleas of the Crown, among which was a question of defaults. These gentlemen began their milking process in September, 1194. It was discovered that an old tribute of an expensive mantel had been paid in times past by Lincoln See to the King. This pall was a matter of 100 marks (say L2,000 of our money). In the long vacancy and under Bishop Walter there had been no payment, and the royal claim was for a good many years back, there being apparently some limitations. Arrears of 1,000 marks were demanded, or a lump sum of 3,000 to have done with the tribute. Hugh thought it an unworthy and intolerable thing that our Lady's Church and he, as its warder, should be under tribute at all, and he was prepared to do anything to end the "slavery." However little we can share this notion, at least it was a generous one. The demand came after the Saladin taxes, the drain for the Crusade, for the king's ransom, and during the building of the cathedral. It came to a man who gave a third of his money in alms and who lived from hand to mouth, often borrowing on his revenues before he got them. He proposed to meet this new huge call by retiring to Witham and devoting the whole emoluments of the See to redeeming this fictitious mantel. But the clergy, who knew by experience both order and chaos, rose in arms, and monastic advisers added their dissuading voices. Well might the clergy support their bishop. They had in times past paid for the king's mantel with episcopal trimmings, and other prelates had not scorned a little cabbage over this rich tailoring. Richard cynically expected that Hugh would do the same, but his clergy knew him better. They offered to find the money. But Hugh, though he allowed them to do so, would not allow one fruitful vein to be worked. He absolutely forbade penance fines, lest, for money's sake, the innocent should be oppressed and the guilty be given less pains than were needed. Some folk told the bishop that rascals had more feeling in their purses than in their banned souls or banged bodies. He replied that this was because their spiritual fathers laid on too lightly upon the sinners. "But," they pleaded, "Thomas the Martyr, of most blessed memory, fined sinners." Hugh answered, "Believe me, it was not on that head that he was a saint. Quite other virtue merits marked him a saint; by quite another story he won the meed of martyr palm."

Hubert must have felt it more of a financial than a moral victory when the 3,000 marks clinked in the treasurer's box.

The next battle between these two doughty men (or shall we say systems of thought?) was fought about Eynsham Abbey. Old Abbot Geoffrey died, and at his election the Abbey had been under the See of Lincoln; but since then King Henry had claimed the gift of abbacies, a claim his son was not likely to bate. A suit with the Crown, Hugh's friends argued, was hopeless or not worth the trouble; but this argument seemed sacrilegious to the intrepid bishop. What? Allow God and the Queen of Heaven to be robbed? Who ever agreed to let Lincoln be so pilled? He is but a useless and craven ruler who does not enlarge instead of lessen the dignities and liberties of the Holy Church. He went stoutly to the contest, crossed and recrossed the sea, and at last persuaded a sort of grand jury of twenty-four clerks and laymen that he was the patron. In a year's time he won his case and saw Robert of Dore, a good abbot, well in his chair. Hugh spent a week with his almost bereft family, gave the new man a fine chased silver and ivory crook and a great glorious goblet, and amplified the place with a generous hand.

This was a legal triumph for the bishop, but surely it was a moral triumph for the Curia Regis to do ample justice to a strong opponent of the Crown? Of course, nobody wanted another St. Thomas episode again, least of all enacted against a man who carried the Church of England with him, as St. Thomas, living, never did; but Hugh had small favour with the king at this time. By these successive battles the Bishop of Lincoln had come to be looked upon as the leader of the Church and the champion of her liberties. To us those "liberties" seem a strange claim, beyond our faith and our ken, too. It seems obvious to us that men, whether clerks or laymen, who eat, drink, wear, build, and possess on the temporal plane, should requite those who safeguard them in these things with tribute, honour, and obedience; and freedom from State control in things temporal seems like freedom to eat buns without paying the baker. Free bilking, free burgling, and so on, sound no less contradictory. But the best minds of England seven centuries ago dreamed of another citizenship and a higher, of which the Church was the city—a city not future only and invisible, but manifest in their midst, which they loved with passion and were jealous over, too exclusively perhaps, but in the event not unwisely. It is less difficult for us to see that any cause which would set the unselfish and lofty-minded men of that time against the preponderating power of the Crown made for the welfare and peace of the country in the future. The anarchy of Stephen's reign, Henry's mastery, and Richard's might, with Hubert Walter's genius, resulted in a dangerous accumulation of power that did actually prove almost disastrous to the State. Consequently Bishop Hugh's greatest contest with the Crown demands the sympathy both of men who still dream of the spiritual city in (but unsoiled by) hands of mortals, and also of those who value constitutional liberties in modern politics. The war with France kept Richard active abroad. The flow of money from England was too thin to enable him to strike the final blow he wished to strike. Hubert Walter's power was so hampered he could do little beyond scutages, but in December, 1197, he called together a Council at Oxford. He told this universal assembly of the barons of all England that the king was in straits. He was outclassed and outmanned and like to be even dispossessed by a most powerful and determined enemy. He asked their deliberations as to help for the king in his difficulties. Oxford was the king's birthplace and was also in Lincoln diocese.{9} The Court party, who advocated abject submission to the king's becks, at once proposed that the barons of England, among whom were the bishops, should furnish three hundred knights to the king, which knights should serve for a year without furlough. The Bishop of Lincoln's consent was asked, and he made no reply at first, but turned it over in his mind. The archbishop, of course, spoke for the motion. Richard FitzNigel, Bishop of London, a man of finance, purchase, and political sagacity, one of the historians of the time, assured them that he and his would try every fetch to relieve the royal need. This brought up Hugh in an instant. "You, wise and noble gentlemen here before me, know that I am a stranger in this country of yours and was raised to a bishop's office from a simple hermit life. So when the Church of my Lady Mary the Holy Mother of God was handed over to my inexperience to rule I applied myself to explore its customs, dignities, dues, and burdens. For near thirteen years, up till now, I have not trod out of the straight tracks of my forerunners. I know the Lincoln Church is bound to furnish military service for the King, but only in this country. Beyond the bounds of England none such is due from her. Hence I think it would be wiser for me to foot it back to my native soil and till the wilderness in my wonted way, rather than bear a bishopric here, lose the ancient immunities of the Church entrusted to me, and subject her to unprecedented vexations." This answer the archbishop took very ill. His voice choked, his lips quivered. He took up the tale, however, without comment, and asked Herbert le Poor, Bishop of Salisbury, the very man who, as Archdeacon of Canterbury, had been snubbed for simony at Hugh's installation, and who might be expected to render a public nothing now for his then empty hand. But he had learnt something since that day, and he replied curtly that he could give no other answer than that of my lord of Lincoln, unless it were to the enormous prejudice of his Church. Then the archbishop blazed into fury. He loosed many a bitter shaft against Bishop Hugh. He broke up the assembly and told the king who it was had made the whole matter to miscarry. Two and even three postmen were sent off to lash the Lion into frenzy, and Richard ordered all that the bishop had to be confiscated as soon as possible. Herbert, the seconder, had the same sentence, and was soon Poor in estate as well as name, and only got peace and possession back after injuries, losses, vexings, and many insults. But no man laid a finger even upon the most trumpery temporal of the Bishop of Lincoln. His anathema meant death. For nine months Richard hounded his minions on, but they dared not bite. Instead they beseeched the bishop's pity for their unhappy position, and he resolved to seek the king and talk him over. He had no friend at Court to prepare his way. Fine old William Earl Marshall and the Earl of Albemarle tried to stop him or to make some way for him; but he did not allow them to sacrifice themselves, but sent word to the king that he was coming. Two things had happened since that December. Innocent III. had become Pope—the Augustus of the papal empire, and he was already acting most vigorously and unhesitatingly. Secondly, Hubert Walter had resigned, because the Pope took Lincoln views of bishops being judges, councillors, treasurers, and the like. These things made Hugh's chances more favourable. Richard's wrath, too, was a straw fire, and it had time to cool, and cooled quicklier because it had shocked his English subjects. Moreover, though highly abominable as he considered the Bishop's checkmate, he had got the cash after all by breaking the great seal and having a new one made, which necessitated a new sealing of all old parchments, and royal wax is dear to this day. It would, therefore, not be amiss to smooth those English who were smarting at the broken seal and broken faith. Hugh's chances, then, were not quite desperate, although he had been able to stop the mouth of the Lion for nine whole months by his intrepidity, fame, and the help of heaven. The rest of the story, which is given minutely, gives one a little window into the times hard to equal for its clearness.


{7} Plato's Aristocrat has a son, who is a great timocrat.

{8} "South-east of the Great Bar Gate between that and the little Bar Gate in the north-west angle of the Great South Common."

{9} Perhaps for both reasons chosen as the trysting-place.



The king had before this time noticed a spot of immense military importance on the Seine between Rouen and Paris, the rock of Andelys. Indeed he had once tossed three Frenchmen from the rock. It was, or might be, the key to Normandy on the French side, and he feared lest Philip should seize upon it and use it against him. Consequently he pounced upon it, and began to fortify it at lavish expense. Archbishop Walter of Rouen, and late of Lincoln, in whose ecclesiastical patrimony it lay, was furious, and obtained an Interdict, and Philip was chafed too.{10} The former was appeased by the gift of Dieppe, and the latter left to digest his spleen as best he might. The work was just about finished in May when a shower of red rain fell, to the horror of all except the dauntless king, who "would have cursed an angel" who had told him to desist from this his great delight. Here it was that the king lay waiting for the truce with France to expire.

The bishop arrived at the Rock castle in the morning of St. Augustine's day (Aug. 28th). The king was in the chapel hearing Mass, and thither the bishop followed him, and straightway saluted him. Now the king was in the royal dais, near the outer door. Two bishops were standing just below him. (We must think of something like a small upstair college chapel for the theatre of this tale.) These two were old Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham, and young Eustace, Bishop of Ely: the former a generous, loose-handed, loose-living old gentleman, the latter Longchamp's successor, a great scholar and revenue officer. Hugh looked past the shoulders of these two and saluted again. The king glared at him for a few seconds and then turned his face. The unabashed bishop put his face nearer: "Give me the kiss, lord king." The king turned his face further away, and drew his head back. Then the bishop clutched the king's clothes at the chest, vigorously shook them, and said again, "You owe me the kiss, for I have come a long way to you." The king, seemingly not astonished in the least, said, "You have not deserved my kiss." The strong hand shook him still harder, and across the cape which he still held taut, the bold suppliant answered confidently, "Oh yes, I have deserved it. Kiss me." The king, taken aback by this audacious importunity, smiled and kissed him. Two archbishops (Walter of Rouen most likely being one) and five other bishops were between the royal seat and the altar. They moved to make room for their uncourtly brother. But he passed through their ranks and went right up to the horn of the altar, fixed his looks firmly on the ground, and gave his whole attention to the celebration of the Divine mysteries. The king could hardly take his eyes off the bishop all through the service. So they continued until the threefold invocation of the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. Then the celebrant, the king's chaplain, gave the kiss of peace to a certain foreign archbishop, whose business it was, by court custom, to bring it to the king. Richard came from his place right up to the altar steps to meet him, received "the sign of the peace which we get from the sacrifice of the Heavenly Lamb," and then with humble reverence yielded the same to the Bishop of Lincoln by the kiss of his mouth. This respectful service, which the other archbishop was making ready to receive, as the custom was, and to pass on himself, was thus given direct to the holy man. The king stept quickly up to him, when Hugh was expecting nothing of the sort, but was wrapt in prayer.{11}

When the Mass was over, Hugh went to the king and spoke a few strong words of remonstrance against his unjustifiable anger, and explained his own innocence. The king could answer nothing to the purpose, but said that the Archbishop had often written suspicious suggestions against him. The bishop soon showed that these were groundless, and added, "God's honour apart, and the salvation of your soul and mine, I have never opposed your interests even in the least degree." The king immediately asked him to come next day to the recently constructed castle of Chateau Gaillard, and ordered the bishop to be given a big Seine pike, knowing that he would not eat meat. But before they left the chapel Hugh gripped him by the hand and led him from his high seat to a place near the altar. There he set him down and sat beside him. "You are our parishioner, lord king" (he was born in Oxford), "and we must answer at the tremendous judgment of the Lord of all for your soul, which He redeemed with His own blood. So I wish you to tell me how stands it with your soul in its inner state? so that I may be able to give it some effectual counsel and help, as the Divine breathing shall direct. A whole year has gone by since I last spoke with you."

The king answered that his conscience was clear, nearly in everything, except that he was troubled by hatred against the enemies whom he was apt to find doing him wrong, and wickedly attacking him. The reply was, "If in all things you please the grace of the Ruler of all, He will easily appease your enemies or give them into your hand. But you must beware with all your might, that you are not living against the laws of your Maker in any way (and God forbid you should) or even doing any wrong to your neighbours. The Scripture says that 'When a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.' On the other hand it says of others, 'The world shall fight with him, against the unwise,' and again the holy man saith of the Lord, 'Who hath hardened himself against Him and hath prospered?'

"Now there is a public report of you, and I grieve to say it, that you neither keep faithful to the marriage bed of your own wife, nor do you guard untouched the privileges of churches, especially in providing and choosing their rulers. Yes, it is said, and a huge piece of villainy it is, that moved by money or favour, you are used to promote some to the rule of souls. If this is true, then without any doubt, peace cannot be granted to you by God." When he had given this careful and timely admonition and instruction, the king excused himself on some points, on others asked earnestly for the bishop's intercession, and was sent off with a blessing. The bishop then went in gladness to his pike. Richard's opinion was that "if all the other bishops were like him, no king or prince would dare to rear his neck against them." Such salutary treatment now-a-days is the sole perquisite of the very poor. The higher up men get on the social scale, the less they need such honest dealing, it now appears.

But Hugh was not quite out of the toils. The king's counsellors suggested that he should carry back letters to the barons demanding aid and succour, letters which it was known would be well weighted by the authority of the postman, and would ensure their bearer continuance of the royal favour. The king's servants informed the bishop of this move, and his clerkly friends pointed out the great advantage to himself of this service. He answered: "That be far from me. It jumps neither with my intention nor my office. It is not my part to become the carrier of letters royal. It is not my part to co-operate in the least degree in exactions of this sort. Do not you know that this mighty man begs as it were with a drawn sword? Particularly this power (of the Crown), under guise of asking, really forces. Our English first attract with their gentle greetings, and then they force men with harshest compulsion to pay not what is voluntary but just what they choose to exact. They often compel unwilling folk to do what they know was once done spontaneously, either by this generation or the last. I have no cause to be mixed up in such dealings. These may please an earthly king at one's neighbour's expense, but afterwards they move the indignation of Almighty God." He asked the counsellors to arrange that this burden should not be laid upon him with its consequent refusal, conflict, and disfavour. Richard heard the tale and sent a message, "God bless you, but get away home, and do not come here to-morrow as we said, but pray for us to the Lord without ceasing," which message was most grateful to the bishop, and he soon set his face north. His exultant chaplains felt sure that all would turn out well, for on the steps of the chapel, when their hearts were all pit-a-pat, they had heard the chorus prose of St. Austin being chaunted, "Hail, noble prelate of Christ, most lovely flower," a lucky omen! And again when they reached chapel doors they heard the bishops and clerks within in unison continue the introit, "O blessed, O holy Augustine, help thou this company."

A month later Richard won a smart little victory near Gisors, where King Philip drank moat water, and nearly got knocked on the head. The king announced this in a letter, and asked for more prayers, and Adam, the biographer, felt that the heavenly triumph of his friend was complete. He would have been less elate if he had known that all the bishops got a similar letter, even wicked old Hugh de Pudsey.

Lincoln by this time was the home of learned and reliable men. The canons, prebends, and placemen had been chosen with great care. Hugh had cast his net far and wide and enclosed some very edible fishes. We know of not a few. William of Leicester, Montanus, has already been mentioned. Giraldus Cambrensis (a most learned, amusing, and malicious writer, on the lines of Anthony A. Wood, or even of Horace Walpole) was another. Walter de Map a third.{12} It was part of Hugh's high sense of duty which made him fight with all his weight for a worthy though a broad-minded use of patronage. He often upbraided the archbishop with his careless use of this power, who was immersed in worldly business and too given to bestow benefices for political or useful services. He said himself that the most grievous worldly misfortune he ever suffered was to find men whom he trusted and advanced turn out to be immoral sluggards. Yet another of his promotions was that of William de Blois, who afterwards succeeded him. In fact, like every great bishop of the time, he gathered his eruditi, his scholars, around him, and these were not looked upon as mere dreamers and impracticable bookworms. Lore and action went hand in hand. The men of affairs and the men of learning, in this age, were interchangeable persons. Consequently when Richard's attention was directed to Lincoln and its bishop, when he noticed that it was a centre for sound and steady clerks whose wallets were by no means unstuffed, and when he reflected that he had failed to lay hands upon the bishop's money, he resolved to have something at any rate from this fine magazine. He wrote to the archbishop to order, by letter, twelve eminent clerks, who had prudence, counsel, and eloquence, to serve at their own expense in the Roman Court, in Germany, Spain, and elsewhere. The post from Canterbury duly arrived with twelve sealed "pair of letters," to be directed to eminent men, and with a special letter to order the bishop to hasten and obey. The bearer found the bishop at his Buckden House, and dinner was just on the board. There was much buzz and hum among those present when the tale was told, but Hugh made no reply. He simply sat down to table. The clergy, a pavid flock, chattered their fears between the mouthfuls. They hoped rather hopelessly, that the answer would be all sugary and smiling; at any rate that their master would try a little ogling of the archbishop, who could, if he would, make things ever so much better. While they were exchanging their views upon expediency and the great propriety of saving one's skin, the stout-hearted bishop rose from table. He had consulted none of these scared advisers, so that he might not throw the responsibility upon their shivering backs. He turned to the messenger and said, "These are novelties, and hitherto unheard of, both the things which my lord has ordered on the king's authority and on his own. Still he may know that I never was, nor will be, a letter carrier of his epistles; and I never have, nor will now, oblige our clergy to undertake royal service. I have often stopped even clerks of other parts, beneficed in our bishopric, from daring to make themselves beholden to secular patronage in public offices, such as forest diversion, and other like administrations. Some, who were less obedient on this point, we have even chastened by long sequestration of their livings. On what reasonable count, then, ought we to pluck men from the very vitals of our Church, and send them by order on the royal service? Let it be enough for our lord the king that (certainly a danger to their soul's salvation) the archbishops, neglecting the duty of their calling, are already utterly given over to the performance of his business. If that is not enough for him, then this bishop will come with his people. He will come, I say, and hear his orders from the king's own lips. He will come ready to carry out what is right next after those same orders.

"But as for you, take the bundle of twelve letters which you say you have brought to us, and be off with them and make just what use you please of them. But every single word which I speak to you, be sure to repeat to our lord the archbishop: and do not fail to end with the message that if the arrangement holds that our clergy are to go to the king, I myself likewise will go with them. I have not gone before without them; and they will not go without me now. This is the right relation between a good shepherd and good sheep: he must not scatter them by foolishly letting them out of his ken. They must not get into trouble by rash escape from him."

The letter carrier, a court cleric, was finely indignant. He was a man careful-chosen, haughty by nature, but still more haughty as royal envoy. He was bridling up for a volley of threats when the bishop cut him short, and ordered him off at the double. He slunk away abashed. A deputation, of weight, from Lincoln next waited upon the archbishop to expostulate with him for playing chuck taw with the immunity of the church, and franking with his authority such messages. He smiled graciously, after the manner of his kind, and hid his spleen. He meant no harm, of course: if harm there were, he was glad to be disobeyed, and he would make all quiet and right. Of course in reality he took care to twist the Lion's tail with both hands, and the next thing was a public edict, that all the goods of the bishop were to be taken care of by the king's collectors. The good man heard and remarked, "Did I not tell you truly of these men: their voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau?" It was easier to order than to execute. The anathema counted for much, but the public conscience no doubt for more. The officers balked and remonstrated. Richard insisted, but his tools bent in his hand. "Those English are scared at shadows," he said; "let us send Mercadier. He will know how to play with the Burgundian fellow." This amiable man was the captain of the Routiers, whose playful habits may be guessed from the fact that he is the gentleman who afterwards skinned Bertrand de Gourdon for shooting the king. One of the king's friends answered, "Mercadier is necessary, my lord the king, to your war. We should lose our pains and also his services if the Lincoln bishop's anathema should take effect." The king agreed that the risk was too heavy, so he ordered Stephen de Turnham to take charge of the bishop's goods, as he loved his life and limbs. This man had been seneschal of Anjou under the king's father, and was well affected to the bishop; but he was between the devil and the deep sea. With some heaviness and nervousness Stephen moved upon Sleaford. Between Peterborough and Market Deeping, whom should he fall in with but the bishop and his party! The uneasy disseizers fetched a compass, halted, and got hold of some of the clergy. They were as humble as Ahaziah's third captain before Elijah. They were obliged to do it, but, poor lambs, they would not hurt so much as a swan's feather. And would the bishop, by all that was invokeable, kindly defer his anathema? or else the king would be royally angry, and they would get more than they deserved. The bishop answered the clergy, "It is not their parts to keep our things whole. Let them go. Let them finger and break in upon the goods, as they think fit. They are not ours but our Lady's, the holy Mother of God." He then brought out the end of his linen stole from his cloak (which stole he always wore, ready for confirmation and excommunication) shook it and added, "This little bit of stuff will bring back to the last halfpenny whatever they reeve away." He then passed on to Buckden (near Huntingdon), where he issued orders to all the archdeacons and rural deans, that so soon as the officers should arrive they should clang bells, light candles and solemnly ban all who should violently and unrighteously touch the property of their Church. The flutter in the clerical dovecot was immense, but the bishop simply said good-night to his excited chaplains and was soon in the sweetest slumber. Except that he said Amen in his sleep a few more times than usual, and more earnestly, they saw no trace of neural tremours about his sedate carriage. He seems to have been well aware of the gravity of the struggle, for he had already announced at Lincoln that he would have to go abroad. He had gathered his children at the Mass, where he added the priestly blessing from the law of Moses,{13} had commended himself to their prayers, given them the kiss of peace and commended them to God, and was already on the way to the archbishop. He stayed a few days at Buckden. Thence he slowly made his way to London. On the road a rural dean consulted him upon the case of a girl with second sight and a terrific tongue. This damsel would prophetically discover things stolen or lost, and she had a large following. If any discreet and learned man tackled her she would talk him down, and put him to rout. She was brought to meet Hugh by the roadside, amid a crowd of confirmation candidates. He addressed her, chiding not so much the damsel as the demon within her, "Come now, unhappy girl, what can you divine for us? Tell me please, if you can, what this hand holds in it?" He held out his right hand closed over his stole end. She made no reply, but fell at his feet in a sort of faint. After a pause he bade them lift her up and asked through the dean (for he was ignorant of the country woman's talk) how she had learnt to divine? "I cannot divine. I implore the mercy of this holy bishop," she replied, and knelt at his feet. He laid his hands upon her head, prayed, blessed her, and sent her to the Prior of Huntingdon, the penitentiary priest of the district, to hear her confession. She not only gave up witchcraft, but ceased to be brazen-faced and a shrew: so that people bruited this matter as a miracle, and a handsome one it was. The bishop probably saved her from the vengeance of this rural dean, for witch-burning was not unknown even then, as Walter de Map witnesses. This was not the first essay of our bishop in witch-laying. When he was still Prior of Witham, Bartholomew, Bishop of Exeter, a learned and pious man, and one of St. Thomas' opposers, consulted him upon a sad case. Bishop Bartholomew was interested in spiritualism (which shews the same face in every century, and never adds much to its phenomena), as Matthew Paris recounts. A poor girl was the prey of a most violent and cruel Incubus, whom no fasts or austerities could divorce from her. Hugh suggested united prayer on her behalf, which was made, but not answered. A rival Incubus, however, came upon the scenes, of a softer mood, and wooed with mild speeches. He promised to deliver her, and pointed out the perforated St. John's wort as a herb odious to devils. This the artful woman put in her bosom and her house, and kept both suitors at bay.{14} The bishop was much struck with this story, as well he might be, and used often to tell it. A monk told him another similar tale from Essex; but enough of such fables.

When he left Huntingdon the bishop went on to St. Albans, seemingly in a leisurely way, and as he drew near to this place, he met a crowd of provost's men dragging a condemned thief to the gallows. The poor creature's arms were braced behind his back. The word went round quickly that it was Hugh of Lincoln, and there was the usual rush to beg for his blessing, police craft and piety being wedded in those officers. The captive by some acrobatics managed to rush too, and came against the horse's neck, was knocked down, and in the dust cried for mercy. The bishop drew rein and asked who the man was and what he wanted. His attendants, who knew the language, answered him, "It is not your part, my lord, to ask more about the fellow. Indeed, you must let him just pass." They feared lest the bishop, already in deep water, should fall into still deeper by some chivalrous audacity. But he would know the tale and why the man cried him mercy: and when he knew it, he cried, "Lackaday! God be blessed!" and turning to the hangmen, he said, "Come back, my sons, with us to St. Albans. Hand the man over to us, and tell your masters and the judges that we have taken him from you. We will see that you take no harm." They did not dare to resist, but gave up their victim. He was quickly untied and given to the almoner. When they reached the abbey the clergy and attendant came to the bishop and begged him most earnestly to allow the civil magistrates to do their office. "Up till now, my lord, neither the king nor any other man who lay in wait for you, could bring a just or a just-seeming charge against you. But if when the legal judges have passed sentence and handed the case to the executive, you quash that sentence by your pontifical authority, your ill-wishers will call it a blow against the king's crown, and you will fall into the condemnation of flat treason." "I am assured of your kindness," he answered; "but let these judges come in to us and you shall hear what we have to say to each other." The judges were already tapping at the doors, for a word with the audacious bishop. "Gentlemen, you are wise enough to know that your holy Mother the Church has everywhere this prerogative: all who are falling into any danger of condemnation and fly to her, may get freedom, and be kept unhurt." This they well knew and believed to be quite right. "If you know this, you ought to know that where the bishop is, united to the faithful in Christ, there too is the church. He who is used by his ministry to dedicate the material stones of the church to the Lord; who also has the work of sanctifying the living stones, the real stuff of the church, by each of the Sacraments, to rear from them the Lord's temple, he by right must enjoy the privileges of ecclesiastical dignity, wherever he be, and succour all who are in danger, according to his legal order."

The judges gratefully agreed, remembered that this was so expressed in ancient English law, but now obsolete, thanks to bishops' sloth or princes' tyranny. They summed up by this politeness, "My lord, we are your sons and parishioners. You are our father and pastor. So it will not be ours to run counter to your privilege or to dispute it: nor yours, by your leave, to bring us into any hazard. If you decide upon the man's release, we offer no opposition; but by your leave we trust you to see that we incur no danger from the king." "Well and rightly spoken," said he, "and on these terms I take him from your hands. For this infraction, I will make answer where I must." So the man escaped the gallows, and was set free again when they reached London.

Two remarks are worth making here. First, that the right of sanctuary, both for accused and of guilty persons, were guaranteed by the old Laws Ecclesiastical of King Edward the Confessor, as collected by William the First in the fourth year of his reign, which laws were romantically dear to the English people. The stretch came in where the Church was interpreted to mean the bishop and faithful. Secondly, Saint Nicholas similarly rescued two men from the scaffold, but not at a moment so inopportune for himself. If the rescue had law behind it, and it might be so defended, it was a very awkward moment to choose to champion a hangdog. But this was the age of chivalry, and without such innate chivalry Hugh would never have cast the spell he did over King Richard's England.


{10} "I will take it, though it were built of iron," he said; to which Richard replied, "And I will defend it, though it were of butter."

{11} There is no osculatory to be found in the records. This is a slightly later invention, and no one seems to kneel in this picture.

{12} Whom some wish to acquit of writing that jovial drinking song,

"I intend to end my days, In a tavern drinking."

{13} "The Lord bless thee and keep thee," &c. Numbers, vi., 24.

{14} If the reader disbelieves this story, let him read Bede upon Luke viii., 30, says the narrator.



When Hugh, under this new cloud, did at last reach London the archbishop had no counsel to give, except that he should shear his clergy rather tight and send their golden fleeces to appease the king. "Do not you know that the king thirsts for money as a dropsical man does for water, my lord bishop?" To this the answer was, "Yes. He is a dropsical man, but I will not be water for him to swallow." It was plain that the archbishop was no friend in need, and back they went towards Lincoln. At Cheshunt he found a poor, mad sailor triced up in a doorway by hands and feet. Hugh ran to him, made the holy sign, and then with outstretched right hand began the Gospel, low and quick, "In the beginning was the Word." The rabid patient cowered, like a frightened hound; but when the words "full of grace and truth" were reached, he put out his tongue derisively. Hugh, not to be beaten, consecrated holy water, sprinkled him, and bade folk put some in his mouth. Then he went on his way; and the mad man, no longer mad, sanely went on pilgrimage, men said, and made a fine end at the last. His own bishop, who had met him, had clapped spurs to his horse and bolted. It may be suspected that this bolting bishop was the newly elect of London, who was William de Santa Maria, an ex-Canon of Lincoln, Richard's secretary, Giraldus' opponent, better known than loved in his late Chapter.

Matters being settled at Lincoln, he set out again for London and paused to ask the Barons of the Exchequer most kindly to see to the indemnities of his church while he was away. They rose to greet him and readily gave their promises. They prayed him to take a seat among them even for a moment. So pleased were they to have the archfoe of clerical secularism in this trap, that they called it a triumph indeed, to see the day when he sat on the Treasury bench. He jumped up, a little ashamed, kissed them all, and said, "Now I, too, can triumph over you if after taking the kiss you allow in anything less than friendly to my church." They laughingly said, "How wonderfully wise this man is! Why, he has easily laid it upon us, that whatever the king orders, we cannot without great disgrace trouble him at all." He blessed them all and was soon in Normandy. But Richard was following hot-foot the two half-brother Ademars, lords of Limoges and Angouleme, who had been playing into the hands of the French enemy. There was nothing to do but wait patiently, which he did at St. Nicholas' Monastery, Angers, from February to the beginning of March, 1199. Pope Innocent III.'s legates were also there, and they passed three weeks together. He conferred ordinations near here in the Abbey of Grandmont; refusing to ordain one of Walter Map's young friends, who afterwards became a leper. The king, it was reported, was full of huge threats and savage designs against his despisers, and if the clergy trembled before, they now shook like aspen leaves. The story of Hugh's predicament had got wind. The Hereford Canons wanted to choose the witty Walter Map to be bishop. He was already Archdeacon of Oxford, Canon of Lincoln, and Prebend of Hereford, but alas! he was also a friend of the disfavoured bishop. This fact is worth some emphasis, as it illustrates the large-mindedness of the saint. Walter was not only a vigorous pluralist, much stained by non-residence, but he was a whipster, whose lash was constantly flicking the monks, then in their decline. If any one considers his description of the Cistercians; of the desert life wherein they love their neighbour by expelling him; of their oppression whereby they glory not in Christ's Cross but in crucifying others; of their narrowness who call themselves Hebrews and all others Egyptians; of their sheep's clothing and inward ravening; of their reversals of Gospel maxims and their novelties; he will see that the lash for Cistercians must have fallen a good deal also upon Carthusian shoulders. Then Master Walter was towards being a favourer of Abelard and of his disciple Arnald of Brescia, whose ascetic mind was shocked at the fatal opulence of cardinals. Altogether Walter was a man who feared God, no doubt, but hardly showed it in the large jests which he made, which to our ears often sound rather too large. But Hugh recognised in the satirist a power for righteousness, and certainly loved and favoured him. Consequently the Hereford Canons with those of Angers and of the Lincoln Chapter laid their heads together to compose the strife between king and bishop: and the readiest way was of course for the latter to compound with a round sum and get off home.

The wars made the whole country dangerous for travelling, and it was neither safe to stay at home nor to move afield. But Job was not more persistent against his three friends than Hugh against the three unanimous Chapters, and his main argument was that the peace of the church must never be bought with money or this would endow its disturbers. His wisdom was well evidenced by events in the next reign. With this advice he urged them to sleep over the matter and discuss it next day. But the struggle to avoid compromising principles in order not only to serve the hour, but to save the love and, perhaps, the lives of friends was a very severe strain to him. When they had gone out he was dismally cast down and acknowledged that he had rarely compressed so much grief into so little space. Then he sat in silence, thought, and prayer that the tangle might be so unknotted, that God not be offended nor his own friends and sons slighted and alienated. Upon this he slept and dreamed sweet dreams of lovely sights and heard the roll of the Psalm of Divine Battle chaunted by heavenly voices, "O God, wonderful art Thou in Thy holy places, even the God of Israel; He will give strength and power unto His people; blessed be God."{15} He woke up refreshed, and at his weekly Saturday Confession deeply blamed himself for some hesitation he had felt, when baleful advice was given him.

A little after this the Abbess of Fontevrault came to see him. The King's mother Eleanor, her guest, had been sent for in a hurry. The king had been hurt. A serf of Achard of Chalus had ploughed up a golden relic, an emperor with his family seated round a golden table. Ademar of Limoges had seized it. Richard demanded the whole and was after it sword in hand. The holders were in Castle Chalus, short of weapons but not of valour, and held out gallantly armed with frying-pans and whatnot. The place was undermined. Richard, without his hauberk, was directing the crash, when a man pulled an arrow from the mortar; aimed it and hit him on the neck and side. He went to his tent, and plucked at it, broke it off; was operated upon; would not keep quiet. The wound turned angry and then black, and the Lion lay dying. He made his will, a generous and charitable one, confessed his sins, was houselled and anhealed, and died on Passion Tuesday, April 6th. His brain and bowels were buried at Charroux, his heart at Rouen, and his body at his father's feet, in penitence, in the nunnery of Fontevrault. Hugh was on his way to the Cathedral at Angers to take duty the next day, Palm Sunday, when Gilbert de Lacy, a clerk, rode up to him and told him of the king's death and of the funeral next day in Fontevrault. Hugh groaned deeply and announced at Angers that he should set out at once for that place. Every one begged and prayed that he would do no such thing. The mere rumour of the king's death had as usual let loose all the forces of disorder. Robbery, violence, and general anarchy were up. His own servants had been held up and robbed of forty silver marks, and the interregnum was more dreadful than any tyranny. What is the use of such charitable designs if you merely get left in the wilds by robbers, bare of carriage and clothes? they asked. His answer was worthy of a man who lived in holy fear and no other. "We are all well aware what things can happen—fearful to the fearful—on this journey. But I think it a thing much more fearful that I should be coward enough to fail my late lord and king, by being away at such a crisis, by witholding my faith and grace from him in death, which I always showed him warmly in his life. What of the trouble he gave us, by giving in too much to the evil advice of those who flattered him? Certainly when I was with him, he never treated me but most honourably, never dismissed me unheard, when I made him some remarks face to face upon my business. If he wronged me when I was away, I have put it down to the spite of my detractors, not to his wickedness or malice. I will, therefore, pay him back to my power the honours he so often bestowed upon me. It will not be my fault if I do not help warmly at his obsequies. Say robbers do meet me on the road, say they do take the horses and carry off the robes, my feet will travel all the fleeter, because they are lightened from the vestment baggage. If they really tie my feet and rob me of the power of moving, then and then only will be a real excuse for being absent in the body, for it will be caused not by vice but by outside obstacles." He left his friends in the city and almost all his stuff, took one minor clerk, one monk, and a tiny train and set out. On the way he heard that the poor Queen Berengaria was at Castle Beaufort, so he left the doubtful highway for a dangerous forest track to visit her. He soothed her almost crazy grief, bid her bear grief bravely and face better days cautiously, said Mass for her, blessed her and her train, and went back at once. He got to Saumur the same day, where he was greeted with a sort of ovation by the townsfolk and was entertained by Gilbert de Lacy, who was studying there. Next day, Palm Sunday, he sped on to Fontevrault and met the bearers just at the doors. He paid all the royal honours he could to his late Master and was entertained at the Monastery. For three days he ceased not to say Mass and the Psalms for the kings lying there, as for all the faithful who lay quiet in Christ, prayed for their pardon and the bliss of everlasting light. A beautiful picture this of the brave old bishop in the Norman Abbey Church, where two kings, his friend and his forgiven foe, lay "shrouded among the shrouded women" in that Holy Week of long ago!

This compassion was not only a matter of honour, but of faith. It was one of the principles of his life and conduct that hereby was set forth the love of God, and applied to the needs of man. He used often to say that countless other things manifested the boundless love of God to men, but of those we know, these surpass the greatness of all the rest, which He ceases not to bestow before man's rise and after his setting. "To touch lightly a few of these in the case of men who rise and set: God the Son of God gave for each man before he was born the ransom of His own death. God the Father sent His own same Son into the world to die for the man: God the Holy Ghost poured Himself out an earnest for him. So together the whole Trinity, one God, together set up the Sacraments by which he is born, cleansed, defended, and strengthened, gave the props of His own law to rule and teach him, and generously made provision for his good by other mysterious means. When man's fitful life is past and its course cut off by death, when his once dearest look on him now with aversion, when parents and children cast him forth with anxious haste from the halls once his, God's most gracious kindness scorns not what all others despise. Then straightway He ordains not only angelic spirits to the ward of the soul at its return to its Maker, but He sends for the burial service those who are first and foremost of His earthly servants, to wit the priests and others in the sacred orders. And this is His command to them: 'Behold,' He says, 'My priests and caretakers of My palaces in the world, behold My handiwork. I have always loved it. I spared not My only Son for it but made Him share in its mortality and its death. Behold, I say, that is now become a burden to its former lovers and friends. They crowd to cast it out and drive it forth. Away, then, speed and help My refugee: take up the Image of My Son, crucified for it: take instruments for incense and wax. Ring out the signals of My Church for a solemn assembly; raise high your hymnal voices, open the doors of My house and its inner shrines: place near to the altar, which holds the Body of My Son, what is left of that brother or sister; finally, cover him a bier with costly palls, for at last he triumphs: crowd it with lamps and candles, circle round him, overthrown as he is, with helping crowds of servants. Do more. Repeat the votive offering of My Son. Make the richest feast, and thus the panting spirit, restless and weary with the jars of the wonted mortality it has just laid by, may breathe to strength: and the flesh, empty for the while of its old tenant, and now to be nursed in the lap of the Mother Earth, may be bedewed with a most gracious holiness, so that at the last day when it is sweetly reunited to its well-known companion, it may gladly flower anew and put on with joy the everlasting freshness." This was no sudden seizure and passing emotion at the romance of funerals. He issued a general order in his diocese forbidding parish priests to bury the bodies of grown persons, if he were by to do it. If it were a case of good life, the more need to honour; if of an evil life, such would all the more yearn for greater succour. So he went to all, and if they were poor he ordered his almoner to find the lights and other requirements. Any funeral would bring him straight from his horse to pray at the bier. If he had no proper book wherein he might read without halting (and his eyes waxed dim at the last) he would stand near the officiant, chaunt the psalms with him, say the amens, and be clerk, almost a laic. If he had the right book, he would be priest, say the prayers, use the holy water, swing the censer, cast on the mould, then give shrift and benison and go on his way. If the place were a large city and many bodies came for burial he did just the same until all were finished. Potentates expecting to eat bread with him were often vexed and complained at these delays; but, host or guest, he had more appetite for holy than for social functions. King Richard at Rouen, like his father before him, with all the Court and the Royal Family, when they invited Hugh to table, had to keep fasting while Hugh performed these higher duties without clipping or diminishing the office. When the king's servants chafed, and would have spurred him on, he would say, "No need to wait for us. Let him eat in the Lord's name;" and to his friends, "It is better for the king to eat without us, than for our humility to pass the Eternal King's order unfulfilled." Near Argentan, in Normandy, he once found a new grave by the roadside and learnt that a beggar-boy lay there. The priest had let him lie there, because there was no fee and no one would carry him to the church-yard. Hugh was deeply grieved, said the office himself, and rattled that priest pretty smartly to his bishop for denying Christian burial to the penniless and needy.

Once while the cathedral works were being carried on, a mason engaged on the fabric asked him for pontifical shrift for a brother who had just died. It was winter, and the feast of St. Stephen. Hugh promptly gave the absolution, and then asked if the body were yet buried. When he learnt that it was only being watched in a somewhat distant church, he ordered three horses instantly, one for himself, one for his outrider, and one for his chaplain; but as only two were to be had he sent the chaplain on ahead, himself followed with a monk and a couple of servers, and devoutly buried not only the mason's brother, but five other bodies. Another time, when the Archdeacon of Bedford gave a large and solemn feast to the dignified clergy—who, by the way, seldom shine in these narratives—the bishop so wearied them by his funereal delays that they explained their impatience to him not without some tartness of reproof. His only reply was, "Why do you not recall the voice of the Lord, who said with His holy lips, My meat is to do the will of My Father in heaven?" Another time, again, one hot spring when there was a general meeting of magnates, he heard that one of the prelates was dead.{16} The man was an outrageous guzzler and toper, but Hugh prayed earnestly for him, and then asked where he was to be buried. The now unromantic spot of Bermondsey was to be the burying ground, and the funeral was on the very day and hour of the Westminster gathering, in which matters deeply interesting to Lincoln were to be handled. No one of the bishops or abbots would stir out for their detected dead fellow, but "to desert him in his last need" was impossible to his saintlier brother. He must be off to bury the man, council or no council. The body had been clad in an alb and chasuble. Its face was bare and black, and the gross frame was bursting from its clothes. Every one else had a gum, an essence or incense; but Hugh, who was peculiarly sensitive to malodours, showed nothing but tenderness for the corrupt mortality, and seemed to cherish it as a mother a babe. The "sweet smelling sacrifice" shielded him in his work of mercy, they said.

William of Newburgh, a writer much given to ghost stories, tells a Buckingham tale of a certain dead man who would walk. He fell violently upon his wife first, and then upon his brothers, and the neighbours had to watch to fend him off. At last he took to walking even in the day, "terrible to all, but visible only to a few." The clergy were called; the archdeacon took the chair. It was a clear case of Vampire. The man must be dug up, cut to bits, and burnt. But the bishop was very particular about the dead, and when they asked his leave he was indignant at the proposal. He wrote instead a letter with his own hand, which absolved the unquiet spirit. This was laid upon the dead man's breast, and thenceforward he rested in peace, as did his alarmed neighbours. Whatever we think of the tale, the tender reverent spirit of the bishop is still a wonder. Although greatly given to an enthusiasm for the saints, a puzzling enthusiasm for their teeth, nails, plaisters, and bandages, Hugh was looked upon as an enemy to superstition, and was an eager suppressor of the worship of wells and springs, which still show how hard the Pagan religion dies. He found and demolished this "culture" at Wycombe and Bercamstead.{17}

The great theological question of Hugh's time was certainly the Eucharistic one. Eucharistic doctrine grew, as the power of the Church grew; as the one took a bolder tone so did the other. The word Transubstantiation (an ambiguous term to the disputants who do not define substance) had been invented by Peter of Blois, but not yet enjoined upon the Church by the Lateran Council of 1215. The language of the earlier fathers, of St. Bernard, did not suffice. Peter Lombard's tentative terms had given way to less reserved speech. Thomas Aquinas, not yet born, was to unite the rival factions which forked now into Berengarius, who objected to the very terms Body of Christ, &c., always used for the Sacrament; and now into some crude cannibal theories, which found support in ugly miracles of clotted chalices and bleeding fingers in patens. Abelard had tried to hush the controversy by a little judicious scepticism, but the air was full of debate. If learned men ignored the disputes the unlearned would not. Fanatical monks on the one side and fanatical Albigenses on the other, decried or over-cried the greatest mysteries of the faith, and brawled over the hidden manna. Hugh's old Witham monk Ainard had once preached a crusade against the blasphemers of the Sacraments, and is mentioned with honour for this very thing by Hugh's intimate and biographer. The saint's conspicuous devotion at the Mass, the care with which he celebrated and received, of themselves would point to a peculiarly strong belief in the Invisible Presence. Christians are, and have always been, lineally bound to believe in the supreme necessity of the Lord's Marriage Supper to the soul's health and obedience. They are bound to use the old language, "This is My Body." In earlier days, when Church thinkers were all Platonists, or at least Realists, the verity of the Sacrament was the Idea behind it. The concrete veils of that Idea were hallowed only by their use, association, and impact. But when after the crusades Aristotle was no longer the Bishop of Arians, but now the supreme philosopher, the language hitherto natural to piety had either to be changed or infused by violence with new senses, or both. The latter half of the twelfth century saw this unhappy deadlock between history and reason, and made strenuous efforts to compose the strife. So far as we may judge, upon a difficult question, where little must be written and much would be required to express an exact opinion, Hugh seems to have held that by mystic sanctification the host is turned into Christ's Body; that this conversion is not a sudden but a gradual one, until the Son offers Himself anew, and hence the Sacrifice may be said to be repeated. The story which illustrates this position best is that of the young clerk who came to him at Buckden. The bishop had just been dedicating a large and beautiful chalice and upbraiding the heavily-endowed dignitaries for doing nothing at all for the poorly served churches from which they drew their stipends. Then he said Mass, and the clerk saw Christ in his hands, first as a little child at the Oblation, when "the custom is to raise the host aloft and bless it"; and again when it is "raised to be broken and consumed in three pieces," "as the Son of the Highest offering Himself to the Father for man's salvation." The clerk tells him of the double vision—the voucher of a message sent by his late crusading father, who warned him to tell the archbishop, through the Bishop of Lincoln, that the evil state of the church must be amended. The message and the messenger seem to answer exactly to the monk of Evesham, whose Dantesque revelations{18} are here almost quoted. The wrath of God was incurred by the unchaste living priests, who so behaved that the Sacraments were polluted, and by the manner in which archdeacons and others trafficked in bribes. Hugh heard the story at the altar, wept, dried the eyes of both, kissed the young man and brought him into the meal afterwards, and urged him to become a monk. This he did, and became the Monk of Evesham aforesaid. There is no necessary advance in Eucharistic doctrine in this story, for a similar vision was given to King Edward the Confessor, and Hugh was so reticent about such things that his chaplain Adam never dared to ask him, although he dreamed that he asked him and was snubbed for his pains. "Although then, when you say, and more often, the Lord deigned to reveal this and other things to me, what do you want in the matter?" In his last journey to Jouay,{19} an old, feeble and withered priest, who would not dine with him as the parish priest was wont, came to ask him to see a wonder and to beg for his prayers. His story was that he, being in mortal sin, blind and weak in faith and practices, was saying Mass, and doubting whether so dirty a sinner could really handle so white and stainless a glory. When the fraction took place, blood dripped from the host and it grew into flesh. He dropped the new thing into the chalice, covered it up, dismissed the people, and got papal absolution, and now would fain show the wonder. The lesser men were agape for the sight, but Hugh answered, "In the Lord's name let them keep the signs of their infidelity to themselves. What are they to us? Are we to be astonished at the partial shows of the Divine gift, who daily behold this heavenly sacrifice whole and entire with most faithful gaze of mind? Let him, who beholds not with the inner sight of faith the whole, go and behold the man's little scraps with his carnal vision." He then blessed the priest and dismissed him, and rebuked his followers for curiosity, and gave them a clear Eucharistic lesson not repeated for us, upon what faith lays down in the matter. From his speech then and elsewhere the good Adam gathered that Hugh often saw what others only believed to be there, the "bared face of the inner Man."

These stories seem to dissociate Hugh from the grosser forms of Eucharistic teaching, and open the way for an explanation of his behaviour at Fechamp, which is otherwise almost inexplicable. We may take it that he held a belief in a living Presence, which teeth could not bruise nor change decay. The language he uses is not consistent with later English teaching which shrinks from talking about a repeated sacrifice. It is also inconsistent with later Roman devotion, because he seems to dislike the notion of a conditioned or corporal Presence, and anyhow to shrink from the definite statements to which the Roman Church has since committed herself. He certainly did not fix the Coming of the Bridegroom at the Consecration Prayer, a fortiori to any one particular word of it.

Far less conjectural is the splendid stand which he made for chastity of life, at a time when the standard in such matters was lax both in the world and also in the church. It came as a surprise to his contemporaries that he should disapprove of the romantic ties between King Henry and fair Rosamond. That lady was buried at Godstowe by her royal lover, who draped her tomb, near the high altar, with silk, lamps, and lighted candles, making her the new founder, and for her sake raising the house from poverty and meanness to wealth and nobleness of building. While Hugh was earnestly praying at the altar (in 1191) he espied this splendid sepulchre. He asked whose it was, and when he learned said sternly, "Take her hence, for she was a whore. The love between the king and her was unlawful and adulterous. Bury her with the other dead outside the church, lest the Christian religion grow contemptible. Thus other women by her example may be warned and keep themselves from lawless and adulterous beds." So far from being harsh, this decision to allow of no royal exceptions to the ten commandments was probably the kindest, strongest, and most wide-reaching protest that could be made against an unhappy and probably growing evil. This is of a piece with many other passages in his life, but hardly worth dwelling upon because the lawless loves, which in that day were too lightly regarded, in this day have usurped the sole title of immorality to themselves, as if there were not six other deadly sins besides. The best justification of the sentence is just this surprise with which it was received.


{15} lxviii. 35. A psalm full of associations of battles long ago: sung against Julian the Apostate, used by Charlemagne, Anthony, Dunstan, and many more.

{16} Simon of Pershore, if in 1198: and Robert of Caen, if in 1196, but less likely.

{17} The Wycombe Well is probably the Round Basin, near the Roman Villa, but the other I am unable to hear news of.

{18} Published by Arber. See chap. xxxvi.

{19} Joi.



The strong personality of the man, his boldness and sagacity combined, come out in his building as clearly as in his conduct; but since the learned are very litigious upon the questions of his architecture, the reader must have indulgence in his heart and a salt cellar in his hand, when he approaches this subject.

First of all we must remember that in his age it was part of the education of a gentleman to know something about building. Hugh's grandfather must have built the old keep of Avalon Castle, which still stands above the modern chateau, and a family whose arms are, on a field or the eagle of the empire sable, were builders, both of necessity and of choice. When every baron, or at least every baron's father, had built himself a castle, planned and executed under his own eye; when King Richard in person could plan and superintend the building of his great Castle Saucy, the Chateau Gaillard, it is not wonderful that Hugh also should be ready and willing to do much in stone and mortar. Then, again, he must have had some architectural training at the Grande Chartreuse. The first buildings of wood were overthrown in 1126 by an avalanche, and Guigo, the fifth prior, had refounded the whole buildings after that date. The upper church, since then a chapter house, was built in Romanesque style, with round arches, two rose windows, and three sanctuary windows with wide splays. In 1150 Humbert, Count of Savoy, founded a beautiful chapel and a guest house for visitors; and even later than this there is a good deal of building going on at the lower house, farm buildings, guest house, and possibly even a church during the very time that Hugh was monk and procurator. Even if he took no personal part in any of these last works, he must have known and heard much of the art from men, who had done or were doing it. But it would not be rash to conclude that he had an apprenticeship in building before he set foot on English soil, and as well by education as by inheritance knew something of this work.

Next we must bear in mind that every stone would, if possible, have a mystic signification. For some reason or other this notion makes the modern man impatient; but this impatience does not alter the facts, but only obscures their explanation. Everybody knows that the three eastern lights mean, as they did to St. Barbara, the blessed Trinity; but few people recognize that all numbers, whether in beams, pillars, sides, arches, or decoration had a well recognised symbolism, which had come down, hall-marked by St. Augustine and St. Bernard, to the building and worshipping generations of those and much later days.

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