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The History of England - From the Accession of Henry III. to the Death of Edward III. (1216-1377)
by T.F. Tout
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Earl Randolph needed the Welsh alliance the more because he definitely threw in his lot with the enemies of Hubert de Burgh. In April, 1223, a bull of Honorius III. declared Henry competent to govern in his own name, a change which resulted in a further strengthening of Hubert's power. Towards the end of the year Randolph joined with William of Albemarle, the Bishop of Winchester and Falkes de Breaute, in an attempt to overthrow the justiciar. The discontented barons took arms and laid their grievances before the king. They wished, they said, no ill to king or kingdom, but simply desired to remove the justiciar from his counsels. Hot words passed between the indignant Hubert and Peter des Roches, and the conference broke up in confusion. The barons still remained mutinous, and, while the king held his Christmas court at Northampton, they celebrated the feast at Leicester. At last Langton persuaded both parties to come to an agreement on the basis of king's friends and barons alike surrendering their castles and wardships. This was a substantial victory for the party of order, and during the next few months much was done to transfer the castles to loyal hands. Randolph himself surrendered Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth.

Comparative peace having been restored, and the judicial bench purged of feudal partisans, private persons ventured to complain of outrageous acts of "novel disseisin", or unlawful appropriation of men's lands. In the spring of 1224 the king's justices went throughout the country, hearing and deciding pleas of this sort. Sixteen acts of novel disseisin were proved against Falkes de Breaute. Despite all the efforts of Langton and Hubert, that able adventurer, though stripped of some of his castles, fully maintained the position which he first acquired in the service of John. He was not the man to put up tamely with the piecemeal destruction of his power by legal process, and, backed up secretly by the feudal leaders, resolved to take the law into his own hands. One of the most active of the judges in hearing complaints against him was Henry of Braybrook. Falkes bade his brother, William de Breaute fall upon the justice, who had been hearing suits at Dunstable, and take him prisoner. William faithfully fulfilled his brother's orders, and on June 17 the unlucky judge was safely shut up in a dungeon of Bedford Castle, of which William had the custody, as his brother's agent. So daring an outrage on the royal authority was worse than the action of William of Albemarle four years before. Hubert and the archbishop immediately took strong measures to enforce the sanctity of the law. While Langton excommunicated Falkes and his abettors, Hubert hastily turned against the traitor the forces which were assembling at Northampton with the object of reconquering Poitou. Braybrook was captured on Monday. On Thursday the royal troops besieged Bedford.

The siege lasted from June 20 to August 14. The "noble castle of Bedford" was new, large, and fortified with an inner and outer baily, and two strong towers. Falkes trusted that it would hold out for a year, and had amply provided it with provisions and munitions of war. In effect, though William de Breaute and his followers showed a gallant spirit, it resisted the justiciar for barely two months. When called upon to surrender the garrison answered that they would only yield at their lord's orders, and that the more as they were not bound to the king by homage or fealty. Nothing was left but a fight to the death. The royalists made strenuous efforts. A new scutage, the "scutage of Bedford," was imposed on the realm. Meanwhile Falkes fled to his accomplice, the Earl of Chester, and afterwards took refuge with Llewelyn. But the adventurer found such cold comfort from the great men who had lured him to his ruin that he perforce made his way back to England, along with a motley band of followers, English and French, Scottish and Welsh.[1] A hue and cry was raised after him, and, like William of Albemarle, he was forced to throw himself into sanctuary, while Randolph of Chester openly joined the besiegers of Bedford. In his refuge in a church at Coventry, Falkes was persuaded to surrender to the bishop of the diocese, who handed him over to Langton.

[1] The names of his familia taken with him are in Patent Rolls of Henry III., 1216-1227, pp. 461-62.

During Falkes's wanderings his brother had been struggling valiantly against overwhelming odds. Petrariae and mangonels threw huge stones into the castle, and effected breaches in keep and curtain. Miners undermined the walls, while over-against the stronghold two lofty structures of wood were raised, from which the crossbowmen, who manned them, were able to command the whole of the interior. At last the castle was captured in four successive assaults. In the first the barbican was taken; in the next the outer baily was stormed; in the third the interior baily was won; and in the last the keep was split asunder. The garrison then allowed the women and captives, including the wife of Falkes and the unlucky Braybrook, to make their way to the enemies' lines. Next day the defenders themselves surrendered. The only mercy shown to these gallant men was that they were allowed to make their peace with the Church before their execution. Of the eighty prisoners, three Templars alone were spared.

Falkes threw himself upon the king's mercy, appealing to his former services to Henry and his father. He surrendered to the King the large sums of money which he had deposited with his bankers, the Templars of London, and ordered his castellans in Plympton and the other west-country castles of his wife to open their gates to the royal officers. In return for these concessions he was released from excommunication. His life was spared, but his property was confiscated, and he was ordered to abjure the realm. Even his wife deserted him, protesting that she had been forced to marry him against her will. On October 26 he received letters of safe conduct to go beyond sea. As he left England, he protested that he had been instigated by the English magnates in all that he had done. On landing at Fecamp he was detained by his old enemy Louis, then, by his father's death, King of France. But Louis VIII. was the last man to bear old grudges against the Norman adventurer, especially as Falkes's rising had enabled him to capture the chief towns of Poitou.

Even in his exile Falkes was still able to do mischief. He obtained his release from Louis' prison about Easter, 1225, on the pretence of going on crusade. He then made his way to Rome where he strove to excite the sympathy of Honorius III., by presenting an artful memorial, which throws a flood of light upon his character, motives, and hopes. Honorius earnestly pleaded for his restitution, but Hubert and Langton stood firm against him. They urged that the pope had been misinformed, and declined to recall the exile. Honorius sent his chaplain Otto to England, but the nuncio found it impossible to modify the policy of the advisers of the king. Falkes went back from Italy to Troyes, where he waited for a year in the hope that his sentence would be reversed. At last Otto gave up his cause in despair, and devoted himself to the more profitable work of exacting money from the English clergy. Falkes died in 1226. With him disappears from our history the lawless spirit which had troubled the land since the war between John and his barons. The foreign adventurers, of whom he was the chief, either went back in disgust to their native lands, or, like Peter de Mauley, became loyal subjects and the progenitors of a harmless stock of English barons. The ten years of storm and stress were over. The administration was once more in English hands, and Hubert enjoyed a few years of well-earned power.

New difficulties at once arose. The defeat of the feudalists and their Welsh allies involved heavy special taxation, and the king's honour required that an effort should be made both to wrest Poitou from Louis VIII., and to strengthen the English hold over Gascony. Besides national obligations, clergy and laity alike were still called upon to contribute towards the cost of crusading enterprises, and in 1226 the papal nuncio, Otto, demanded that a large proportion of the revenues of the English clergy should be contributed to the papal coffers. To the Englishman of that age all extraordinary taxation was a grievance quite irrespective of its necessity. The double incidence of the royal and papal demands was met by protests which showed some tendency towards the splitting up of the victorious side into parties. It was still easy for all to unite against Otto, and the papal agent was forced to go home empty handed, for councils both of clergy and barons agreed to reject his demands. Whatever other nations might offer to the pope, argued the magnates, the realms of England and Ireland at least had a right to be freed from such impositions by reason of the tribute which John had agreed to pay to Innocent III. The demand of the king's ministers for a fifteenth to prosecute the war with France was reluctantly conceded, but only on the condition of a fresh confirmation of the charters in a form intended to bring home to the king his personal obligation to observe them. Hubert de Burgh, however, was no enthusiast for the charters. His standpoint was that of the officials of the age of Henry II. To him the re-establishment of order meant the restoration of the prerogative. There he parted company with the archbishop, who was an eager upholder of the charters, for which he was so largely responsible. The struggle against the foreigner was to be succeeded by a struggle for the charters.

In January, 1227, a council met at Oxford. The king, then nearly twenty years old, declared that he would govern the country himself, and renounced the tutelage of the Bishop of Winchester. Henry gave himself over completely to the justiciar, whom he rewarded for his faithful service by making him Earl of Kent. In deep disgust Bishop Peter left the court to carry out his long-deferred crusading vows. For four years he was absent in Palestine, where his military talents had ample scope as one of the leaders of Frederick II.'s army, while his diplomatic skill sought, with less result, to preserve some sort of relations between the excommunicated emperor and the new pope, Gregory IX., who in this same year succeeded Honorius. In April Gregory renewed the bull of 1223 in which his predecessor recognised Henry's competence to govern.

Thus ended the first minority since the Conquest. The successful restoration of law and order when the king was a child, showed that a strong king was not absolutely necessary for good government. From the exercise of royal authority by ministers without the personal intervention of the monarch arose the ideas of limited monarchy, the responsibility of the official, and the constitutional rights of the baronial council to appoint ministers and control the administration. We also discern, almost for the first time, the action of an inner ministerial council which was ultimately to develop into the consilium ordinarium of a later age.

No sudden changes attended the royal majority. Those who had persuaded Henry to dismiss Bishop Peter had no policy beyond getting rid of a hated rival. The new Earl of Kent continued to hold office as justiciar for five years, and his ascendency is even more marked in the years 1227 to 1232 than it had been between 1224 and 1227. Hubert still found the task of ruling England by no means easy. With the mitigation of home troubles foreign affairs assumed greater importance, and England's difficulties with France, the efforts to establish cordial relations with the empire, the ever-increasing aggressions of Llewelyn of Wales, and the chronic troubles of Ireland, involved the country in large expenses with little compensating advantage. Not less uneasy were the results of the growing encroachments of the papacy and the increasing inability of the English clergy to face them. Papal taxation, added to the burden of national taxation, induced discontent that found a ready scapegoat in the justiciar. The old and the new baronial opposition combined to denounce Hubert as the true cause of all evils. The increasing personal influence of the young king complicated the situation. In his efforts to deal with all these problems Hubert became involved in the storm of obloquy which finally brought about his fall.

At the accession of Henry III., the truce for five years concluded between his father and Philip Augustus on September 18, 1214, had still three years to run. The expedition of Louis to England might well seem to have broken it, but the prudent disavowal by Philip II. of his son's sacrilegious enterprise made it a point of policy for the French King to regard it as still in force, and neither John nor the earl marshal had a mind to face the enmity of the father as well as the invasion of the son. Accordingly the truce ran out its full time, and in 1220 Honorius III., ever zealous for peace between Christian sovereigns, procured its prolongation for four years. Before this had expired, the accession of Louis VIII. in 1223 raised the old enemy of King Henry to the throne of France. Louis still coveted the English throne, and desired to complete the conquest of Henry's French dominions in France. His accession soon involved England in a new struggle, luckily delayed until the worst of the disorders at home had been overcome.

Peace was impossible because Louis, like Philip, regarded the forfeiture of John as absolute, and as involving the right to deny to Henry III. a legitimate title to any of his lands beyond sea. Henry, on the other hand, was still styled Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou, Count of Poitou, and Duke of Aquitaine. Claiming all that his father had held, he refused homage to Philip or Louis for such French lands as he actually possessed. For the first time since the Conquest, an English king ruled over extensive French territories without any feudal subjection to the King of France. However, Henry's French lands, though still considerable, were but a shadow of those once ruled by his father. Philip had conquered all Normandy, save the Channel Islands, and also the whole of Anjou and Touraine. For a time he also gained possession of Poitou, but before his death nearly the whole of that region had slipped from his grasp. Poitiers, alone of its great towns, remained in French hands. For the rest, both the barons and cities of Poitou acknowledged the over-lordship of their English count. Too much importance must not be ascribed to this revival of the English power. Henry claimed very little domain in Poitou, which practically was divided between the feudal nobles and the great communes. So long as they maintained a virtual freedom, they were indifferent as to their overlord. If they easily transferred their allegiance from Philip to Henry, it was because the weakness of absentee counts was less to be dreaded than the strength of a monarch near at hand. Meanwhile the barons carried on their feuds one against the other, and all alike joined in oppressing the townsmen.

During Henry's minority the crown was not strong enough to deal with the unruly Foitevins. Seneschals quickly succeeded each other; the barons expected the office to be filled by one of their own order, and the towns, jealous of hostile neighbours, demanded the appointment of an Englishman. At last, in 1221, Savary de Mauleon, one of King John's mercenaries, a poet, and a crusader against infidels and Albigenses, was made seneschal. His English estates ensured some measure of fidelity, and his energy and experience were guarantees of his competence, though, as a younger member of the great house of Thouars, he belonged by birth to the inner circle of the Poitevin nobility, whose treachery, levity, and self-seeking were proverbial. The powerful Viscounts of Thouars were constantly kept in check by their traditional enemies the Counts of La Marche, whose representative, Hugh of Lusignan, was by far the strongest of the local barons. His cousin, and sometime betrothed, Isabella, Countess of Angouleme, the widow of King John, had left England to resume the administration of her dominions. Early in 1220 she married Hugh, justifying herself to her son on the ground that it would be dangerous to his interests if the Count of La Marche should contract an alliance with the French party. But this was mere excuse. The union of La Marche and Angouleme largely increased Count Hugh's power, and he showed perfect impartiality in pursuing his own interests by holding a balance between his stepson and the King of France. Against him neither Savary nor the Poitevin communes could contend with success. The anarchy of Poitou was an irresistible temptation to Louis VII. "Know you," he wrote to the men of Limoges, "that John, king of England, was deprived by the unanimous judgment of his peers of all the lands which he held of our father Philip. We have now received in inheritance all our father's rights, and require you to perform the service that you owe us." While the English government weakly negotiated for the prolongation of the truce, and for the pope's intervention, Louis concluded treaties with the Poitevin barons, and made ready an army to conquer his inheritance. Foremost among his local partisans appeared Henry's stepfather.

The French army met at Tours on June 24, 1224, and marched through Thouars to La Rochelle, the strongest of the Poitevin towns, and the most devoted to England. On the way Louis forced Savary de Mauleon to yield up Niort, and to promise to defend no other place than La Rochelle, before which city he sat down on July 15. At first Savary resisted vigorously. The siege of Bedford, however, prevented the despatch of effective help from England, and Savary was perhaps already secretly won over by Louis. Be this as it may, the town surrendered on August 3, and with it went all Aquitaine north of the Dordogne. Savary took service with the conqueror, and was made warden of La Rochelle and of the adjacent coasts, while Lusignan received the reward of his treachery in a grant of the Isle of Oleron. When Louis returned to the north, the Count of La Marche undertook the conquest of Gascony. He soon made himself master of St. Emilion, and of the whole of Perigord. The surrender of La Reole opened up the passage of the Garonne, and the capture of Bazas gave the French a foothold to the south of that river. Only the people of Bordeaux showed any spirit in resisting Hugh. But their resistance proved sufficient, and he withdrew baffled before their walls.

The easiness of Louis' conquests showed their instability. "I am sure," wrote one of Henry's officers, "that you can easily recover all that you have lost, if you send speedy succour to these regions." After the capture of Bedford, Hubert undertook the recovery of Poitou and the defence of Gascony. Henry's younger brother Richard, a youth of sixteen, was appointed Earl of Cornwall and Count of Poitou, dubbed knight by his brother, and put in nominal command of the expedition despatched to Gascony in March, 1225. His experienced uncle, William Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, and Philip of Aubigny, were sent with him as his chief counsellors. Received with open arms by Bordeaux, he boasted on May 2 that he had conquered all Gascony, save La Reole, and had received the allegiance of every Gascon noble, except Elie Rudel, the lord of Bergerac. The siege of La Reole, the only serious military operation of the campaign, occupied Richard all the summer and autumn, and it was not until November 13 that the burgesses opened their gates. As soon as the French had retired, the lord of Bergerac, "after the fashion of the Poitevins," renounced Louis and professed himself the liegeman of Earl Richard. Then the worst trouble was that Savary de Mauleon's ships commanded the Bay of Biscay, and rendered communication between Bordeaux and England very difficult.[1] Once more the men of the Cinque Ports came to the king's aid, and there was severe fighting at sea, involving much plunder of merchant vessels and dislocation of trade.

[1] The names of his familia taken with him are in Patent Rolls of Henry III., 1216-1227, pp. 461-62.

The English sought to supplement their military successes by diplomacy. Richard of Cornwall made an alliance with the counts of Auvergne, and the home administration negotiated with all possible enemies of the French King. A proposal to affiance Henry's sister, Isabella, to Henry, King of the Romans, the infant son of Frederick II., led to no results, for the Archbishop of Cologne, the chief upholder of the scheme in Germany, was murdered, and the young king found a bride in Austria. Yet the project counteracted the negotiations set on foot by Louis to secure Frederick II. for his own side, and induced the Emperor to take up a position of neutrality. An impostor appeared in Flanders who gave out that he was the old Count Baldwin, sometime Latin Emperor of the East, who had died in prison in Bulgaria twenty years before. Baldwin's daughter, Joan, appealed to Louis for support against the false Baldwin, whereupon Henry recognised his claims and sought his alliance. Nothing but the capture and execution of the impostor prevented Henry from effecting a powerful diversion in Flanders. Peter Mauclerc, Count of Brittany, was won over by an offer of restitution to his earldom of Richmond, and by a promise that Henry would marry his daughter Iolande. Intrigues were entered into with the discontented Norman nobles, and the pope was importuned to save Henry from French assaults at the same moment that the king made a treaty of alliance with his first cousin, the heretical Raymond VII. of Toulouse. Honorius gave his ward little save sympathy and good advice. His special wish was to induce Louis to lead a French expedition into Languedoc against the Albigensian heretics. As soon as Louis resolved on this, the pope sought to prevent Henry from entering into unholy alliance with Raymond. It was the crusade of 1226, not the good-will of the Pope or the fine-drawn English negotiations, which gave Gascony a short respite. Louis VIII. died on November 8 in the course of his expedition, and the Capetian monarchy became less dangerous during the troubles of a minority, in which his widow, Blanche, strove as regent to uphold the throne of their little son, Louis IX.

The first months of Louis IX.'s reign showed how unstable was any edifice built upon the support of the treacherous lords of Poitou. Within six weeks of Louis VIII.'s death, Hugh of Lusignan, the viscount of Thouars, Savary de Mauleon, and many other Poitevin barons, concluded treaties with Richard of Cornwall, by which in return for lavish concessions they went back to the English obedience. In the spring of 1227, however, the appearance of a French army south of the Loire caused these same lords to make fresh treaties with Blanche. Peter of Brittany also became friendly with the French regent, and gave up his daughter's English marriage. With allies so shifty, further dealings seemed hopeless. Before Easter, Richard patched up a truce and went home in disgust. The Capetians lost Poitou, but Henry failed to take advantage of his rival's weakness, and the real masters of the situation were the local barons. Fifteen more years were to elapse before the definitive French conquest of Poitou.

During the next three years the good understanding between the Bretons, the Poitevins, and the regent Blanche came to an end, and the progress of the feudal reaction against the rule of the young King of France once more excited hopes of improving Henry's position in south-western France. Henry III. was eager to win back his inheritance, though Hubert de Burgh had little faith in Poitevin promises, and, conscious of his king's weakness, managed to prolong the truce, until July 22, 1229. Three months before that, Blanche succeeded in forcing the unfortunate Raymond VII. to accept the humiliating treaty of Meaux, which assured the succession to his dominions to her second son Alfonse, who was to marry his daughter and heiress, Joan. The barons of the north and west were not yet defeated, and once more appealed to Henry to come to their aid. Accordingly, the English king summoned his vassals to Portsmouth on October 15 for a French campaign. When Henry went down to Portsmouth he found that there were not enough ships to convey his troops over sea. Thereupon he passionately denounced the justiciar as an "old traitor," and accused him of being bribed by the French queen. Nothing but the intervention of Randolph of Chester, Hubert's persistent enemy, put an end to the undignified scene.

Count Peter of Brittany, who arrived at Portsmouth on the 9th, did homage to Henry as King of France, and received the earldom of Richmond and the title of Duke of Brittany which he had long coveted, but which the French government refused to recognise. He persuaded Henry to postpone the expedition until the following spring. When that time came Henry appointed Ralph Neville, the chancellor, and Stephen Segrave, a rising judge, as wardens of England, and on May 1, 1230, set sail from Portsmouth. It was the first time since 1213 that an English king had crossed the seas at the head of an army, and every effort was made to equip a sufficient force. Hubert the justiciar, Randolph of Chester, William the marshal, and most of the great barons personally shared in the expedition, and the ports of the Channel, the North Sea, and the Bay of Biscay were ransacked to provide adequate shipping. Many Norman vessels served as transports, apparently of their owners' free-will.

On May 3 Henry landed at St. Malo, and thence proceeded to Dinan, the meeting-place assigned for his army, the greater part of which landed at Port Blanc, a little north of Treguier. Peter Mauclerc joined him, and a plan of operations was discussed. The moment was favourable, for a great number of the French magnates were engaged in war against Theobald, the poet-count of Champagne, and the French army, which was assembled at Angers, represented but a fraction of the military strength of the land. Fulk Paynel, a Norman baron who wished to revive the independence of the duchy, urged Henry to invade Normandy. Hubert successfully withstood this rash proposal, and also Fulk's fatal suggestion that Henry should divide his army and send two hundred knights for the invasion of Normandy. Before long the English marched through Brittany to Nantes, where they wasted six weeks. At last, on the advice of Hubert, they journeyed south into Poitou. The innate Poitevin instability had again brought round the Lusignans, the house of Thouars, and their kind to the French side, and Henry found that his own mother did her best to obstruct his progress. He was too strong to make open resistance safe, and his long progress from Nantes to Bordeaux was only once checked by the need to fight his way. This opposition came from the little town and castle of Mirambeau, situated in Upper Saintonge, rather more than half-way between Saintes and Blaye.[1] From July 21 to 30 Mirambeau stoutly held out, but Henry's army was reinforced by the chivalry of Gascony, and by a siege-train borrowed from Bordeaux and the loyal lords of the Garonne. Against such appliances of warfare Mirambeau could not long resist. On its capitulation Henry pushed on to Bordeaux.

[1] E. Berger, Bibl. Ecole des Chartes, 1893, pp. 35-36, shows that Mirambeau, not Mirebeau, was besieged by Henry; see also his Blanche de Castille (1895).

Useless as the march through Poitou had been, it was then repeated in the reverse way. With scarcely a week's rest, Henry left the Gascon capital on August 10, and on September 15 ended his inglorious campaign at Nantes. Although he was unable to assert himself against the faithless Poitevins, the barons of the province were equally impotent to make head against him. On reaching Brittany, Hubert once more stopped further military efforts. After a few days' rest at Nantes, Henry made his way by slow stages through the heart of Brittany. It was said that his army had no better occupation than teaching the local nobles to drink deep after the English fashion. The King had wasted all his treasure, and the poorer knights were compelled to sell or pawn their horses and arms to support themselves. The farce ended when the King sailed from St. Pol de Leon, and late in October landed at Portsmouth. He left a portion of his followers in Brittany, under the Earls of Chester and Pembroke. Randolph himself, as a former husband of Constance of Brittany, had claims to certain dower lands which appertained to Count Peter's mother-in-law. He was put in possession of St. James de Beuvron, and thence he raided Normandy and Anjou. By this time the coalition against the count of Champagne had broken down, and Blanche was again triumphant. It was useless to continue a struggle so expensive and disastrous, and on July 4, 1231, a truce for three years was concluded between France, Brittany, and England. Peter des Roches, then returning through France from his crusade, took an active part in negotiating the treaty. Just as the king was disposed to make the justiciar the scapegoat of his failure, Hubert's old enemy appeared once more upon the scene. The responsibility for blundering must be divided among the English magnates, and not ascribed solely to their monarch. If Hubert saved Henry from reckless adventures, he certainly deserves a large share of the blame for the Poitevin fiasco.

The grave situation at home showed the folly of this untimely revival of an active foreign policy. The same years that saw the collapse of Henry's hopes in Normandy and Poitou, witnessed troubles both in Ireland and in Wales. In both these regions the house of the Marshals was a menace to the neighbouring chieftains, and Hugh de Lacy, Earl of Ulster, and Llewelyn ap Iorwerth, made common cause against it and vigorously attacked their rivals both in Leinster and in South Wales. Nor was this the only disturbance. The summons of the Norman chieftains of Ireland to Poitou gave the king of Connaught a chance of attacking the justiciar of Ireland, Geoffrey Marsh, who ultimately drove the Irish back with severe loss. Llewelyn was again as active and hostile as ever. Irritated by the growing strength of the new royal castle of Montgomery, he laid siege to it in 1228. Hubert de Burgh, then castellan of Montgomery, could only save his castle by summoning the levies of the kingdom. At their head Hubert went in person to hold the field against Llewelyn, taking the king with him. The Welsh withdrew as usual before a regular army, and Hubert and the king, late in September, marched a few miles westwards of Montgomery to the vale of Kerry, where they erected a castle. But Llewelyn soon made the English position in Kerry untenable. Many of the English lords were secretly in league with him, and the army suffered severely from lack of food. In the fighting that ensued the Welsh got the better of the English, taking prisoner William de Braose, the heir of Builth, and one of the greatest of the marcher lords. At last king and justiciar were glad to agree to demolish the new castle on receiving from Llewelyn the expenses involved in the task. The dismantled ruin was called "Hubert's folly". "And then," boasts the Welsh chronicler, "the king returned to England with shame."

In 1230 Llewelyn inflicted another slight upon his overlord. William de Braose long remained the Welsh prince's captive, and only purchased his liberty by agreeing to wed his daughter to Llewelyn's son, and surrendering Builth as her marriage portion. The captive had employed his leisure in winning the love of Llewelyn's wife, Joan, Henry's half-sister. At Easter, Llewelyn took a drastic revenge on the adulterer. He seized William in his own castle at Builth, and on May 2 hanged him on a tree in open day in the presence of 900 witnesses. Finding that neither the king nor the marchers moved a finger to avenge the outrage done to sister and comrade, Llewelyn took the aggressive in regions which had hitherto been comparatively exempt from his assaults. In 1231 he laid his heavy hand on all South Wales, burning down churches full of women, as the English believed, and signalling out for special attack the marshal's lands in Gwent and Pembroke. Once more the king penetrated with his barons into Mid Wales, while the pope and archbishop excommunicated Llewelyn and put his lands under interdict. Yet neither temporal nor spiritual arms were of avail against the Welshman. Henry's only exploit in this, his second Welsh campaign, was to rebuild Maud's Castle in stone. He withdrew, and in December agreed to conclude a three years' truce, and procure Llewelyn's absolution. Hubert once more bore the blame of his master's failure.

On July 9, 1228, Stephen Langton died. Despite their differences as to the execution of the charters, his removal lost the justiciar a much-needed friend. Affairs were made worse by the unteachable folly of the monks of Christ Church. Regardless of the severe warning which they had received in the storms that preceded the establishment of Langton's authority, the chapter forthwith proceeded to the election of their brother monk, Walter of Eynsham. The archbishop-elect was an ignorant old monk of weak health and doubtful antecedents, and Gregory IX. wisely refused to confirm the election. On the recommendation of the king and the bishops, Gregory himself appointed as archbishop Richard, chancellor of Lincoln, an eloquent and learned secular priest of handsome person, whose nickname of "le Grand" was due to his tall stature. The first Archbishop of Canterbury since the Conquest directly nominated by the pope—for even in Langton's case there was a form of election—Richard le Grand at once began to quarrel with the justiciar, demanding that he should surrender the custody of Tunbridge castle on the ground of some ancient claim of the see of Canterbury. Failing to obtain redress in England, Richard betook himself to Rome in the spring of 1231. There he regaled the pope's ears with the offences of Hubert, and of the worldly bishops who were his tools. In August, Richard's death in Italy left the Church of Canterbury for three years without a pastor.

While Gregory IX. did more to help Henry against Louis than Honorius III., the inflexible character and lofty hierarchical ideals of this nephew of Innocent III. made his hand heavier on the English Church than that of his predecessor. Above all, Gregory's expenses in pursuing his quarrel with Frederick II. made the wealth of the English Church a sore temptation to him. With his imposition of a tax of one-tenth on all clerical property to defray the expenses of the crusade against the emperor, papal taxation in England takes a newer and severer phase. The rigour with which Master Stephen, the pope's collector, extorted the tax was bitterly resented. Not less loud was the complaint against the increasing numbers of foreign ecclesiastics forced into English benefices by papal authority, and without regard for the rights of the lawful patrons and electors. A league of aggrieved tax-payers and patrons was formed against the Roman agents. At Eastertide, 1232, bands of men, headed by a knight named Robert Twenge, who took the nickname of William Wither, despoiled the Romans of their gains, and distributed the proceeds to the poor. These doings were the more formidable from their excellent organisation, and the strong sympathy everywhere extended to them. Hubert, who hated foreign interference, did nothing to stop Twenge and his followers. His inaction further precipitated his ruin. Archbishop Richard had already poisoned the pope's mind against him, and his suspected connivance with the anti-Roman movement completed his disfavour. Bitter letters of complaint arrived in England denouncing the outrages inflicted on the friends of the apostolic see. It is hard to dissociate the pope's feeling in this matter from his rejection of the nomination of the king's chancellor, Ralph Neville, Bishop of Chichester, to the see of Canterbury, as an illiterate politician.

The dislike of the taxes made necessary by the Welsh and French wars, such as the "scutage of Poitou" and the "scutage of Kerry," swelled the outcry against the justiciar. So far back as 1227 advantage had been taken of Henry's majority to exact large sums of money for the confirmation of all charters sealed during his nonage. The barons made it a grievance that his brother Richard was ill-provided for, and a rising in 1227 extorted a further provision for him from what was regarded as the niggardliness of the justiciar. Nor did Hubert, with all his rugged honesty, neglect his own interests. He secured for himself lucrative wardships, such as the custody for the second time of the great Gloucester earldom, and of several castles, including the not very profitable charge of Montgomery, and the important governorship of Dover. On the very eve of his downfall he was made justice of Ireland. His brother was bishop of Ely, and other kinsmen were promoted to high posts. He was satisfied that he spent all that he got in the King's service, in promoting the interests of the kingdom, but his enemies regarded him as unduly tenacious of wealth and office. All classes alike grew disgusted with the justiciar. The restoration of the malign influence of Peter of Winchester completed his ruin. The king greedily listened to the complaints of his old guardian against the minister who overshadowed the royal power. At last, on July 29, 1232, Henry plucked up courage to dismiss him.

With Hubert's fall ends the second period of Henry's reign. William Marshal expelled the armed foreigner. Hubert restored the administration to English hands. Matthew Paris puts into the mouth of a poor smith who refused to fasten fetters on the fallen minister words which, though probably never spoken, describe with sufficient accuracy Hubert's place in history: "Is he not that most faithful Hubert who so often saved England from the devastation of the foreigners and restored England to England?" Hubert was, as has been well said, perhaps the first minister since the Conquest who made patriotism a principle of policy, though it is easy in the light of later developments to read into his doings more than he really intended. But whatever his motives, the results of his action were clear. He drove away the mercenaries, humbled the feudal lords, and set limits to the pope's interference. He renewed respect for law and obedience to the law courts. Even in the worst days of anarchy the administrative system did not break down, and the records of royal orders and judicial judgments remain almost as full in the midst of the civil war as in the more peaceful days of Hubert's rule. But it was easy enough to issue proclamations and writs. The difficulty was to get them obeyed, and the work of Hubert was to ensure that the orders of king and ministers should really be respected by his subjects. He made many mistakes. He must share the blame of the failure of the Kerry campaign, and he was largely responsible for the sorry collapse of the invasion of Poitou. He neither understood nor sympathised with Stephen Langton's zeal for the charters. A straightforward, limited, honourable man, he strove to carry out his rather old-fashioned conception of duty in the teeth of a thousand obstacles. He never had a free hand, and he never enjoyed the hearty support of any one section of his countrymen. Hated by the barons whom he kept away from power, he alienated the Londoners by his high-handed violence, and the tax-payers by his heavy exactions. The pope disliked him, the aliens plotted against him, and the king, for whom he sacrificed so much, gave him but grudging support. But the reaction which followed his retirement made many, who had rejoiced in his humiliation, bitterly regret it.

Three notable enemies of Hubert went off the stage of history within a few months of his fall. The death of Richard le Grand has already been recorded. William Marshal, the brother-in-law of the king, the gallant and successful soldier, the worthy successor of his great father, came home from Brittany early in 1231. His last act was to marry his sister, Isabella, to Richard of Cornwall. Within ten days of the wedding his body was laid beside his father in the Temple Church at London. In October, 1232, died Randolph of Blundeville, the last representative of the male stock of the old line of the Earls of Chester, and long the foremost champion of the feudal aristocracy against Hubert. The contest between them had been fought with such chivalry that the last public act of the old earl was to protect the fallen justiciar from the violence of his foes. For more than fifty years Randolph had ruled like a king over his palatine earldom; had, like his master, his struggles with his own vassals, and had perforce to grant to his own barons and boroughs liberties which he strove to wrest from his overlord for himself and his fellow nobles. He was not a great statesman, and hardly even a successful warrior. Yet his popular personal qualities, his energy, his long duration of power, and his enormous possessions, give him a place in history. His memory, living on long in the minds of the people, inspired a series of ballads which vied in popularity with the cycle of Robin Hood,[1] though, unfortunately, they have not come down to us. His estates were divided among his four sisters. His nephew, John the Scot, Earl of Huntingdon, received a re-grant of the Chester earldom; his Lancashire lands had already gone to his brother-in-law, William of Ferrars, Earl of Derby; other portions of his territories went to his sister, the Countess of Arundel, and the Lincoln earldom, passing through another sister, Hawise of Quincy, to her son-in-law, John of Lacy, constable of Chester, raised the chief vassal of the palatinate to comital rank. None of these heirs of a divided inheritance were true successors to Randolph. With him died the last of the great Norman houses, tenacious beyond its fellows, and surpassing in its two centuries of unbroken male descent the usual duration of the medieval baronial family. Its collapse made easier the alien invasion which threatened to undo Hubert's work.

[1] "Ich can rymes of Robyn Hode, and of Randolf erl of Chestre," Vision of Piers Plowman, i., 167; ii., 94.



CHAPTER III.

THE ALIEN INVASION.

With the dismissal of Hubert on July 29, 1232, Peter des Roches resumed his authority over Henry III. Mindful of past failures, the bishop's aim was to rule through dependants, so that he could pull the wires without making himself too prominent. His chief agents in pursuing this policy were Peter of Rivaux, Stephen Segrave, and Robert Passelewe. Of these, Peter of Rivaux was a Poitevin clerk, officially described as the bishop's nephew, but generally supposed to have been his son. Stephen Segrave, the son of a small Leicestershire landholder, was a lawyer who had held many judicial and administrative posts, including the regency during the king's absence abroad in 1230. He abandoned his original clerical profession, received knighthood, married nobly, and was the founder of a baronial house in the midlands. His only political principle was obedience to the powers that were in the ascendant. Passelewe, a clerk who had acted as the agent of Randolph of Chester and Falkes of Breaute at the Roman court, was, like Segrave, a mere tool.

The Bishop of Winchester began to show his hand. Between June 26 and July 11, nineteen of the thirty-five sheriffdoms were bestowed on Peter of Rivaux for life. As Segrave was sheriff of five shires, and the bishop himself had acquired the shrievalty of Hampshire, this involved the transference of the administration of over two-thirds of the counties to the bishop's dependants. On the downfall of Hubert, Segrave became justiciar. He was not the equal of his predecessors either in personal weight or in social position, and did not aspire to act as chief minister. The appointment of a mere lawyer to the great Norman office of state marks the first stage in the decline, which before long degraded the justiciarship into a simple position of headship over the judges, the chief justiceship of the next generation. Hubert's offices and lands were divided among his supplanters. Peter of Rivaux became keeper of wards and escheats, castellan of many castles on the Welsh march, and the recipient of even more offices and wardships in Ireland than in England. The custody of the Gloucester earldom went to the Bishop of Winchester. The last steps of the ministerial revolution were completed at the king's Christmas court at Worcester. There Rivaux, who had yielded up before Michaelmas most of his shrievalties, was made treasurer, with Passelewe as his deputy. Of the old ministers only the chancellor, Ralph Neville, Bishop of Chichester, was suffered to remain in office. Finally the king's new advisers imported a large company of Poitevin and Breton mercenaries, hoping with their help to maintain their newly won position. The worst days of John seemed renewed.

The Poitevin gang called upon Hubert to render complete accounts for the whole period of his justiciarship. When he pleaded that King John had given him a charter of quittance, he was told that its force had ended with the death of the grantor. He was further required to answer for the wrongs which Twenge's bands had inflicted on the servants of the pope. He was accused of poisoning William Earl of Salisbury, William Marshal, Falkes de Breaute, and Archbishop Richard. He had prevented the king from contracting a marriage with a daughter of the Duke of Austria; he had dissuaded the king from attempting to recover Normandy; he had first seduced and then married the daughter of the King of Scots; he had stolen from the treasury a talisman which made its possessor invincible in war and had traitorously given it to Llewelyn of Wales; he had induced Llewelyn to slay William de Braose; he had won the royal favour by magic and witchcraft, and finally he had murdered Constantine FitzAthulf.

Many of these accusations were so monstrous that they carried with them their own refutation. It was too often the custom in the middle ages to overwhelm an enemy with incredible charges for it to be fair to accuse the enemies of Hubert of any excessive malignity. The substantial innocence of Hubert is clear, for the only charges brought against him were either errors of judgment and policy, or incredible crimes. Nevertheless he was in such imminent danger that he took sanctuary with the canons of Merton in Surrey. Thereupon the king called upon the Londoners to march to Merton and bring their ancient foe, dead or alive, to the city. Randolph of Chester interposed between his fallen enemy and the royal vengeance. He persuaded Henry to countermand the march to Merton and to suffer the fallen justiciar to leave his refuge with some sort of safe conduct. But the king was irritated to hear that Hubert had journeyed into Essex. Again he was pursued, and once more he was forced to take sanctuary, this time in a chapel near Brentwood. From this he was dragged by some of the king's household and brought to London, where he was imprisoned in the Tower. The Bishop of London complained to the king of this violation of the rights of the Church, and Hubert was allowed to return to his chapel. However, the levies of Essex surrounded the precincts, and he was soon forced by hunger to surrender. He offered to submit himself to the king's will, and was for a second time confined in the Tower. On November 10, he was brought before a not unfriendly tribunal, in which the malice of the new justiciar was tempered by the baronial instincts of the Earls of Cornwall, Warenne, Pembroke, and Lincoln. He made no effort to defend himself, and submitted absolutely to the judgment of the king. It was finally agreed that he should be allowed to retain the lands which he had inherited from his father, and that all his chattels and the lands that he had acquired himself should be forfeited to the crown. Further, he was to be kept in prison in the castle of Devizes under the charge of the four earls who had tried him.

Peter des Roches was soon in difficulties. The earls who had saved Hubert began to oppose the whole administration. Their leader was Richard, Earl of Pembroke, the second son of the great regent, and since his brother's death head of the house of Marshal. Richard was bitterly prejudiced against the king and his courtiers by an attempt to refuse him his brother's earldom. A gallant warrior, handsome and eloquent, pious, upright, and well educated, Richard, the best of the marshal's sons, stood for the rest of his short life at the head of the opposition. He incited his friends to refuse to attend a council summoned to meet at Oxford, on June 24, 1233. The king would have sought to compel their presence, had not a Dominican friar, Robert Bacon, when preaching before the court, warned him that there would be no peace in England until Bishop Peter and his son were removed from his counsels. The friar's boldness convinced him that disaffection was widespread, and he promised the magnates at a later council at London that he would, with their advice, correct whatever he found there was need to reform. Meanwhile the Poitevins brought into England fresh swarms of hirelings from their own land, and Peter des Roches urged Henry to crush rebellion in the bud. As a warning to greater offenders, Gilbert Basset was deprived of a manor which he had held since the reign of King John, and an attempt was made to lay violent hands upon his brother-in-law, Richard Siward. The two barons resisted, whereupon all their estates were transferred to Peter of Rivaux. Yet Richard Marshal still continued to hope for peace, and, after the failure of earlier councils, set off to attend another assembly fixed for August 1, at Westminster. On his way he learnt from his sister Isabella, the wife of Richard of Cornwall, that Peter des Roches was laying a trap for him. In high indignation he took horse for his Welsh estates, and prepared for rebellion.

The king summoned the military tenants to appear with horses and arms at Gloucester on the 14th. There Richard Marshal was declared a traitor and an invasion of his estates was ordered. But the king had not sufficient resources to carry out his threats, and October saw the barons once more wrangling with Henry at Westminster, and claiming that the marshal should be tried by his peers. Peter of Winchester declared that there were no peers in England as there were in France, and that in consequence the king had power to condemn any disloyal subject through his justices. This daringly unconstitutional doctrine provoked a renewed outcry. The bishops joined the secular magnates, and threatened their colleague with excommunication. A formidable civil war broke out. Siward and Basset harried the lands of the Poitevins, while the marshal made a close alliance with Llewelyn of Wales. The king still had formidable forces on his side. Richard of Cornwall was persuaded by Bishop Peter to take up arms for his brother, and the two new earls, John the Scot of Chester, and John de Lacy of Lincoln, joined the royal forces. Hubert de Burgh took advantage of the increasing confusion to escape from Devizes castle to a church in the town. Dragged back with violence to his prison, he was again, as at Brentwood, restored to sanctuary through the exertions of the bishop of the diocese. There he remained, closely watched by his foes, until October 30, when Siward and Basset drove away the guard, and took him off with them to the marshal's castle of Chepstow.

The tide of war flowed to the southern march of Wales. Llewelyn and Richard Marshal devastated Glamorgan, which, as a part of the Gloucester inheritance, was under the custody of the Bishop of Winchester. They took nearly all its castles, including that of Cardiff. Thence they subdued Usk, Abergavenny, and other neighbouring strongholds, while an independent army, including the marshal's Pembrokeshire vassals and the men of the princes of South Wales, wasted months in a vain attack on Carmarthen. The king's vassals were again summoned to Gloucester, whence Henry led them early in November towards Chepstow, the centre of the marshal's estates in Gwent. Earl Richard devastated his lands so effectively that the king could not support his army on them, and was compelled to move up the Wye valley towards the castles of Monmouth, Skenfrith, Whitecastle, and Grosmont, the strong quadrilateral of Upper Gwent which still remained in the hands of the king's friends. Marching to the most remote of these, Grosmont, on the upper Monnow, Henry spent several days in the castle, while his army lay around under canvas. On the night of November 11, the sleeping soldiers were suddenly set upon by the barons and their Welsh allies; they fled unarmed to the castle, or scattered in confusion. The assailants seized their horses, harness, arms and provisions, but refrained from slaying or capturing them. The royal forces never rallied. Many gladly went home, giving as their excuse that they were unable to fight since they had lost their equipment. Henry and his ministers withdrew to Gloucester. More convinced than ever of the treachery of Englishmen, the king entrusted the defence of the border castles to mercenaries from Poitou.

The fighting centred round Monmouth, which Richard approached on the 25th with a small company. A sudden sortie almost overwhelmed the little band. The marshal held his own heroically against twelve, until at last Baldwin of Guines, the warden of the castle, took him prisoner. Thereupon Baldwin fell to the ground, his armour pierced by a lucky bolt from a crossbow. His followers, smitten with panic, abandoned the marshal, and bore their leader home. By that time, however, the bulk of the marshal's forces had come upon the scene. A general engagement followed, in which the Anglo-Welsh army drove the enemy back into Monmouth and took possession of the castle. This set the marshal free to march northwards and join Llewelyn in a vigorous attack upon Shrewsbury. In January, 1234, they burnt that town and retired to their own lands loaded with booty. Meanwhile Siward devastated the estates of the Poitevins and of Richard of Cornwall. Afraid to be cut off from his retreat to England the king abandoned Gloucester, where he had kept his melancholy Christmas court, and found a surer refuge in Bishop Peter's cathedral city. Thereupon Gloucestershire suffered the fate of Shropshire. "It was a wretched sight for travellers in that region to see on the highways innumerable dead bodies lying naked and unburied, to be devoured by birds of prey, and so polluting the air that they infected healthy men with mortal sickness."[1]

[1] Wendover, iv., 291.

The king swore that he would never make peace with the marshal, unless he threw himself on the royal mercy as a confessed traitor with a rope round his neck. Having, however, exhausted all his military resources, he cunningly strove to entice Richard from Wales to Ireland. The two Peters wrote to Maurice Fitzgerald, then justiciar of Ireland, and to the chief foes of the marshal, urging them to fall upon his Irish estates and capture the traitor, dead or alive. Many of the most powerful nobles of Ireland lent themselves to the conspiracy. The Lacys of Meath, his old enemies, joined with Fitzgerald, Geoffrey Marsh, and Richard de Burgh, the greatest of the Norman lords of Connaught, and the nephew of Hubert, in carrying out the plot. The confederates fell suddenly upon the marshal's estates and devastated them with fire and sword. On hearing of this attack Richard immediately left Wales, and, accompanied by only fifteen knights, took ship for Ireland. On his arrival Geoffrey Marsh, the meanest of the conspirators, received him with every profession of cordiality, and urged him to attack his enemies without delay. Geoffrey was an old man; he had long held the great post of justiciar of Ireland; and he was himself the liegeman of the marshal. Richard therefore implicitly trusted him, and forthwith took the field.

The first warlike operations of Earl Richard were successful. After a short siege he obtained possession of Limerick, and his enemies were fain to demand a truce. Richard proposed a conference to be held on April 1, 1234, on the Curragh of Kildare. The conference proved abortive, for Geoffrey Marsh cunningly persuaded the marshal to refuse any offer of terms which the magnates would accept, and Richard found that he had been duped into taking up a position that he was not strong enough to maintain. Marsh withdrew from his side, on the ground that he could not fight against Lacy, whose sister he had married. The marshal foresaw the worst. "I know," he declared, "that this day I am delivered over to death, but it is better to die honourably for the cause of justice than to flee from the field and become a reproach to knighthood."

The forsworn Irish knights slunk away to neighbouring places of sanctuary or went over to the enemy. When the final struggle came, later on the same April 1, Richard had few followers save the faithful fifteen knights who had crossed over with him from Wales. The little band, outnumbered by more than nine to one, struggled desperately to the end. At last the marshal, unhorsed and severely wounded, fell into the hands of his enemies. They bore him, more dead than alive, to his own castle of Kilkenny, which had just been seized by the justiciar. After a few days Richard's tough constitution began to get the better of his wounds. Then his enemies, showing him the royal warranty for their acts, induced him to admit them into his castles. An ignorant or treacherous surgeon, called in by the justiciar, cauterised his wounds so severely that his sufferings became intense. He died of fever on the 16th, and was buried, as he himself had willed, in the Franciscan church at Kilkenny. No one rejoiced at the death of the hero save the traitors who had lured him to his doom and the Poitevins who had suborned them. Their victim, the weak king, mourned for his friend as David had lamented Saul and Jonathan.[1] The treachery of his enemies brought them little profit. While Richard Marshal lay on his deathbed, a new Archbishop of Canterbury drove the Poitevins from office.

[1] Dunstable Ann., p. 137.

In the heyday of the Poitevins' power the Church sounded a feeble but clear note of alarm. The pope expostulated with Henry for his treatment of Hubert de Burgh, and Agnellus of Pisa, the first English provincial of the newly arrived Franciscan order, strove to reconcile Richard Marshal with his sovereign in the course of the South-Welsh campaign. More drastic action was necessary if vague remonstrance was to be translated into fruitful action. The three years' vacancy of the see of Canterbury, after the death of Richard le Grand, paralysed the action of the Church. After the pope's rejection of the first choice of the convent of Christ Church, the chancellor, Ralph Neville, the monks elected their own prior, and him also Gregory refused as too old and incompetent. Their third election fell upon John Blunt, a theologian high in the favour of Peter des Roches, who sent him to Rome, well provided with ready money, to secure his confirmation. Simon Langton, again restored to England, and archdeacon of Canterbury, persuaded the pope to veto Blunt's appointment on the ground of his having held two benefices without a dispensation. His rejection was the first check received by the Poitevin faction. It was promptly followed by a more crushing blow. Weary of the long delay, Gregory persuaded the Christ Church monks then present at Rome to elect Edmund Rich, treasurer of Salisbury. Edmund, a scholar who had taught theology and arts with great distinction at Paris and Oxford, was still more famous for his mystical devotion, for his asceticism and holiness of life. He was however an old man, inexperienced in affairs, and, with all his gracious gifts, somewhat wanting in the tenacity and vigour which leadership involved. Yet in sending so eminent a saint to Canterbury, Rome conferred on England a service second only to that which she had rendered when she secured the archbishopric for Stephen Langton.

Before his consecration as archbishop on April 2, 1234, Edmund had already joined with his suffragans on February 2 in upholding the good fame of the marshal and in warning the king of the disastrous results of preferring the counsels of the Poitevins to those of his natural-born subjects. A week after his consecration Edmund succeeded in carrying out a radical change in the administration. On April 9 he declared that unless Henry drove away the Poitevins, he would forthwith pronounce him excommunicate. Yielding at once, Henry sent the Bishop of Winchester back to his diocese, and deprived Peter of Rivaux of all his offices. The followers of the two Peters shared their fate, and Henry, despatching Edmund to Wales to make peace with Llewelyn and the marshal, hurried to Gloucester in order to meet the archbishop on his return. His good resolutions were further strengthened by the news of Earl Richard's death. On arriving at Gloucester he held a council in which the ruin of the Poitevins was completed. A truce, negotiated by the archbishop with Llewelyn, was ratified. The partisans of the marshal were pardoned, even Richard Siward being forgiven his long career of plunder. Gilbert Marshal, the next brother of the childless Earl Richard, was invested with his earldom and office, and Henry himself dubbed him a knight. Hubert de Burgh was included in the comprehensive pardon. Indignant that his name and seal should have been used to cover his ex-ministers' treachery to Earl Richard, Henry overwhelmed them with reproaches, and strove by his violence against them to purge himself from complicity in their acts. The Poitevins lurked in sanctuary, fearing for the worst. Segrave forgot his knighthood, resumed the tonsure, and took refuge in a church in Leicester. The king's worst indignation was reserved for Peter of Rivaux. Peter protested that his orders entitled him to immunity from arrest, but it was found that he wore a mail shirt under his clerical garments, and, without a word of reproach from the archbishop, he was immured in a lay prison on the pretext that no true clerk wore armour. Of the old ministers Ralph Neville alone remained in office.

With Bishop Peter's fall disappeared the last of the influences that had prevailed during the minority. The king, who felt his dignity impaired by the Poitevin domination, resolved that henceforward he would submit to no master. He soon framed a plan of government that thoroughly satisfied his jealous and exacting nature. Henceforth no magnates, either of Church or State, should stand between him and his subjects. He would be his own chief minister, holding in his own hands all the strings of policy, and acting through subordinates whose sole duly was to carry out their master's orders. Under such a system the justiciarship practically ceased to exist. The treasurership was held for short periods by royal clerks of no personal distinction. Even the chancellorship became overshadowed. Henry quarrelled with Ralph Neville in 1238, and withdrew from him the custody of the great seal, though he allowed him to retain the name and emoluments of chancellor. On Neville's death the office fell into abeyance for nearly twenty years, during which time the great seal was entrusted to seven successive keepers. Like his grandfather, Henry wished to rule in person with the help of faithful but unobtrusive subordinates. This system, which was essentially that of the French monarchy, presupposed for success the constant personal supervision of an industrious and strong-willed king. Henry III was never a strenuous worker, and his character failed in the robustness and self-reliance necessary for personal rule. The magnates, who regarded themselves as the king's natural-born counsellors, were bitterly incensed, and hated the royal clerks as fiercely as they had disliked the ministers of his minority. Opposed by the barons, distrusted by the people, liable to be thrown over by their master at each fresh change of his caprice, the royal subordinates showed more eagerness in prosecuting their own private fortunes than in consulting the interests of the State. Thus the nominal government of Henry proved extremely ineffective. Huge taxes were raised, but little good came from them. The magnates held sullenly aloof; the people grumbled; the Church lamented the evil days. Yet for five and twenty years the wretched system went on, not so much by reason of its own strength as because there was no one vigorous enough to overthrow it.

The author of all this mischief was a man of some noble and many attractive qualities. Save when an occasional outburst of temper showed him a true son of John, Henry was the kindest, mildest, most amiable of men. He was the first king since William the Conqueror in whose private life the austerest critics could find nothing blameworthy. His piety stands high, even when estimated by the standards of the thirteenth century. He was well educated and had a touch of the artist's temperament, loving fair churches, beautiful sculpture, delicate goldsmith's work, and richly illuminated books. He had a horror of violence, and never wept more bitter tears than when he learned how treacherously his name had been used to lure Richard Marshal to his doom. But he was extraordinarily deficient in stability of purpose. For the moment it was easy to influence him either for good or evil, but even the ablest of his counsellors found it impossible to retain any hold over him for long. One day he lavished all his affection on Hubert de Burgh; the next he played into the hands of his enemies. In the same way he got rid of Peter des Roches, the preceptor of his infancy, the guide of his early manhood. Jealous, self-assertive, restless, and timid, he failed in just those qualities that his subjects expected to find in a king. Born and brought up in England, and never leaving it save for short and infrequent visits to the continent, he was proud of his English ancestors and devoted to English saints, more especially to royal saints such as Edward the Confessor and Edmund of East Anglia. Yet he showed less sympathy with English ways than many of his foreign-born predecessors. Educated under alien influences, delighting in the art, the refinement, the devotion, and the absolutist principles of foreigners, he seldom trusted a man of English birth. Too weak to act for himself, too suspicious to trust his natural counsellors, he found the friendship and advice for which he yearned in foreign favourites and kinsmen. Thus it was that the hopes excited by the fall of the Poitevins were disappointed. The alien invasion, checked for a few years, was renewed in a more dangerous shape.

During the ten years after the collapse of Peter des Roches, swarms of foreigners came to England, and spoiled the land with the king's entire good-will. Henry's marriage brought many Provencals and Savoyards to England. The renewed troubles between pope and emperor led to a renewal of Roman interference in a more exacting form. The continued intercourse with foreign states resulted in fresh opportunities of alien influence. A new attempt on Poitou brought as its only result the importation of the king's Poitevin kinsmen. The continued close relationship between the English and the French baronage involved the frequent claim of English estates and titles by men of alien birth. Even such beneficial movements as the establishment of the mendicant orders in England, and the cosmopolitan outlook of the increasingly important academic class contributed to the spread of outlandish ideas. As wave after wave of foreigners swept over England, Englishmen involved them in a common condemnation. And all saw in the weakness of the king the very source of their power.

The first great influx of foreigners followed directly from Henry's marriage. For several years active negotiations had been going on to secure him a suitable bride. There had also at various times been talk of his selecting a wife from Brittany, Austria, Bohemia, or Scotland, and in the spring of 1235 a serious negotiation for his marriage with Joan, daughter and heiress of the Count of Ponthieu, only broke down through the opposition of the French court. Henry then sought the hand of Eleanor, a girl twelve years old, and the second of the four daughters of Raymond Berengar IV., Count of Provence, and his wife Beatrice, sister of Amadeus III., Count of Savoy. The marriage contract was signed in October. Before that time Eleanor had left Provence under the escort of her mother's brother, William, bishop-elect of Valence. On her way she spent a long period with her elder sister Margaret, who had been married to Louis IX. of France in 1234. On January 14, 1236, she was married to Henry at Canterbury by Archbishop Edmund, and crowned at Westminster on the following Sunday.

The new queen's kinsfolk quickly acquired an almost unbounded ascendency over her weak husband. With the exception of the reigning Count Amadeus of Savoy, her eight maternal uncles were somewhat scantily provided for. The prudence of the French government prevented them from obtaining any advantage for themselves at the court of their niece the Queen of France, and they gladly welcomed the opportunity of establishing themselves at the expense of their English nephew. Self-seeking and not over-scrupulous, able, energetic, and with the vigour and resource of high-born soldiers of fortune, several of them play honourable parts in the history of their own land, and are by no means deserving of the complete condemnation meted out to them by the English annalists.[1] The bishop-elect of Valence was an able and accomplished warrior. He stayed on in England after accomplishing his mission, and with him remained his clerk, the younger son of a house of Alpine barons, Peter of Aigueblanche, whose cunning and dexterity were as attractive to Henry as the more martial qualities of his master. Weary of standing alone, the king eagerly welcomed a trustworthy adviser who was outside the entanglements of English parties, and made Bishop William his chief counsellor. It was believed that he was associated with eleven others in a secret inner circle of royal advisers, whose advice Henry pledged himself by oath to follow. Honours and estates soon began to fall thickly on William and his friends. He made himself the mouthpiece of Henry's foreign policy. When he temporarily left England, he led a force sent by the king to help Frederick II. in his war against the cities of northern Italy. His influence with Henry did much to secure for his brother, Thomas of Savoy, the hand of the elderly countess Joan of Flanders. With Thomas as the successor of Ferdinand of Portugal, the rich Flemish county, bound to England by so many political and economic ties, seemed in safe hands, and preserved from French influence. In 1238 Thomas visited England, and received a warm welcome and rich presents from the king.

[1] For Eleanor's countrymen see Mugnier, Les Savoyards en Angleterre au XIIIe siecle, et Pierre d'Aigueblanche, eveque d'Hereford (1890).

Despite the establishment of the Savoyards, the Poitevin influence began to revive. Peter des Roches, who had occupied himself after his fall by fighting for Gregory IX. against the revolted Romans, returned to England in broken health in 1236, and was reconciled to the king. Peter of Rivaux was restored to favour, and made keeper of the royal wardrobe. Segrave and Passelewe again became justices and ministers. England was now the hunting-ground of any well-born Frenchmen anxious for a wider career than they could obtain at home.[1] Among the foreigners attracted to England to prosecute legal claims or to seek the royal bounty came Simon of Montfort, the second son of the famous conqueror of the Albigenses. Amice, the mother of the elder Simon, was the sister and heiress of Robert of Beaumont, the last of his line to hold the earldom of Leicester. After Amice's death her son used the title and claimed the estates of that earldom. But these pretensions were but nominal, and since 1215 Randolph of Chester had administered the Leicester lands as if his complete property. However, Amaury of Montfort, the Count of Toulouse's eldest son, ceded to his portionless younger brother his claims to the Beaumont inheritance, and in 1230 Simon went to England to push his fortunes. Young, brilliant, ambitious and attractive, he not only easily won the favour of the king, but commended himself so well to Earl Randolph that in 1231 the aged earl was induced to relax his grasp on the Leicester estates. In 1239 the last formalities of investiture were accomplished. Amaury renounced his claims, and after that Simon became Earl of Leicester and steward of England. A year before that he had secured the great marriage that he had long been seeking. In January, 1238, he was wedded to the king's own sister, Eleanor, the childless widow of the younger William Marshal. Simon was for the moment high in the affection of his brother-in-law. To the English he was simply another of the foreign favourites who turned the king's heart against his born subjects.

[1] This is well illustrated by Philip de Beaumanoir's well-known romance, Jean de Dammartin et Blonde d'Oxford (ed. by Suchier, Soc. des anciens Textes francais, and by Le Roux de Lincy, Camden Soc.).

In 1238 Peter des Roches died. With all his faults the Poitevin was an excellent administrator at Winchester,[1] and left his estates in such a prosperous condition that Henry coveted the succession for the bishop-elect of Valence, though William already had the prospect of the prince-bishopric of liege. But the monks of St. Swithun's refused to obey the royal order, and Henry sought to obtain his object from the pope. Gregory gave William both Liege and Winchester, but in 1239 death ended his restless plans. William's death left more room for his kinsfolk and followers. His clerk, Peter of Aigueblanche, returned to the land of promise, and in 1240 secured his consecration as Bishop of Hereford. William's brother, Peter of Savoy, lord of Romont and Faucigny, was invited to England in the same year. In 1241 he was invested with the earldom of Richmond, which a final breach with Peter of Brittany had left in the king's hands. Peter, the ablest member of his house, thus became its chief representative in England.[2]

[1] See H. Hall, Pipe Roll of the Bishop of Winchester, 1207-8.

[2] For Peter see Wurstemberger, Peter II., Graf von Savoyen (1856).

With the Provencals and Savoyards came a fresh swarm of Romans. In 1237 the first papal legates a latere since the recall of Pandulf landed in England. The deputy of Gregory IX. was the cardinal-deacon Otto, who in 1226 had already discharged the humbler office of nuncio in England. It was believed that the legate was sent at the special request of Henry III., and despite the remonstrances of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those most unfriendly to the legate were won over by his irreproachable conduct. He rejected nearly all gifts. He was unwearied in preaching peace; travelled to the north to settle outstanding differences between Henry and the King of Scots, and thence hurried to the west to prolong the truce with Llewelyn. His zeal for the reformation of abuses made the canons of the national council, held under his presidency at St. Paul's on November 18, 1237, an epoch in the history of our ecclesiastical jurisprudence.

Despite his efforts the legate remained unpopular. The pluralists and nepotists, who feared his severity, joined with the foes of all taxation and the enemies of all foreigners in denouncing the legate. To avoid the danger of poison, he thought it prudent to make his own brother his master cook. During the council of London it was necessary to escort him from his lodgings and back again with a military force. In the council itself the claim of high-born clerks to receive benefices in plurality found a spokesman in so respectable a prelate as Walter of Cantilupe, the son of a marcher baron, whom Otto had just enthroned in his cathedral at Worcester, and the legate, "fearing for his skin," was suspected of mitigating the severity of his principles to win over the less greedy of the friends of vested interests. His Roman followers knew and cared little about English susceptibilities, and feeling was so strong against them that any mischance might excite an explosion. Such an accident occurred on St. George's day, April 23, 1238, when the legate was staying with the Austin Canons of Oseney, near Oxford, while the king was six miles off at Abingdon. Some of the masters of the university went to Oseney to pay their respects to the cardinal, and were rudely repulsed by the Italian porter. Irritated at this discourtesy, they returned with a host of clerks, who forced their way into the abbey. Amongst them was a poor Irish chaplain, who made his way to the kitchen to beg for food. The chief cook, the legate's brother, threw a pot of scalding broth into the Irishman's face. A clerk from the march of Wales shot the cook dead with an arrow. A fierce struggle followed, in the midst of which Otto, hastily donning the garb of his hosts, took refuge in the tower of their church, where he was besieged by the infuriated clerks, until the king sent soldiers from Abingdon to release him. Otto thereupon laid Oxford under an interdict, suspended all lectures, and put thirty masters into prison. English opinion, voiced by the diocesan, Grosseteste, held that the cardinal's servants had provoked the riot, and found little to blame in the violence of the clerks.

In 1239 Gregory IX. began his final conflict with Frederick II., and demanded the support of all Europe. As before, from 1227 to 1230, the pressure of the papal necessity was at once felt in England. The legate had to raise supplies at all costs. Crusaders were allowed to renounce their vows for ready money. Every visitation or conference became an excuse for procurations and fees. Presents were no longer rejected, but rather greedily solicited. On the pretence that it was necessary to reform the Scottish Church, "which does not recognise the Roman Church as its sole mother and metropolitan," Otto excited the indignation of Alexander II. by attempts to extend his jurisdiction to Scotland, hitherto unvisited by legates. In England his claims soon grew beyond all bearing. At last he demanded a fifth of all clerical goods to enable the pope to finance the anti-imperial crusade. Even this was more endurable than the order received from Rome that 300 clerks of Roman families should be "provided" to benefices in England in order that Gregory might obtain the support of their relatives against Frederick. Both as feudal suzerain and as spiritual despot, the pope lorded it over England as fully as his uncle Innocent III.

Weakness, piety, and self-interest combined to make Henry III. acquiesce in the legate's exactions. "I neither wish nor dare," said he, "to oppose the lord pope in anything." The union of king and legate was irresistible. The lay opposition was slow and feeble. Gilbert Marshal, though showing no lack of spirit, was not the man to play the part which his brother Richard had filled so effectively. Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who constituted himself the spokesman of the magnates, made a special grievance of the marriage of Simon of Montfort with his sister Eleanor. England, he said, was like a vineyard with a broken hedge, so that all that went by could steal the grapes. He took arms, and subscribed the first of the long series of plans of constitutional reform that the reign was to witness, according to which the king was to be guided by a chosen body of counsellors. But at the crisis of the movement he held back, having accomplished nothing.

There was more vigour in the ecclesiastical opposition. Robert Grosseteste,[1] a Suffolk man of humble birth, had already won for himself a position of unique distinction at Oxford and Paris. A teacher of rare force, a scholar of unexampled range, a thinker of daring originality, and a writer who had touched upon almost every known subject, he was at the height of his fame when, in 1235, his appointment as Bishop of Lincoln gave the fullest opportunities for the employment of his great gifts in the public service. He was convinced that the preoccupation of the clergy in worldly employment and the constant aggressions of the civil upon the ecclesiastical courts lay at the root of the evils of the time. His conviction brought him into conflict with the king rather than the legate, though for the moment his absorption in the cares of his diocese distracted his attention from general questions. The bishops generally had become so hostile that Otto shrank from meeting them in another council, and strove to get money by negotiating individually with the leading churchmen. The old foe of papal usurpations, Robert Twenge, renewed his agitation on behalf of the rights of patrons, and the clergy of Berkshire drew up a remonstrance against Otto's extortions.

[1] For Grosseteste, see F.S. Stevenson, Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln (1899).

Archbishop Edmund saw the need of opposing both legate and king; but he was hampered by his ecclesiastical and political principles, and still more, perhaps, by the magnitude of the rude task thrown upon him. He had set before himself the ideal of St. Thomas, not only in the asceticism of his private life, but in his zeal for his see and the Church. But few men were more unlike the strong-willed and bellicose martyr of Canterbury than the gentle and yielding saint of Abingdon. A plentiful crop of quarrels, however, soon showed that Edmund had, in one respect, copied only too faithfully the example of his predecessor. He was engaged in a controversy of some acerbity with the Archbishop of York, and he was involved in a long wrangle with the monks of his cathedral, which took him to Rome soon after the legate's arrival. He got little satisfaction there, and found a whole sea of troubles to overwhelm him on his return. At last came the demand of the fifth from Otto. Edmund joined in the opposition of his brethren to this exaction, but his attitude was complicated by his other difficulties. Leaning in his weakness on the pope, he found that Gregory was a taskmaster rather than a director. At last he paid his fifth, but, broken in health and spirits, he was of no mind to withstand the demands of the Roman clerks for benefices. If he could not be another St. Thomas defending the liberties of the Church, he could at least withdraw like his prototype from the strife, and find a refuge in a foreign house of religion. Seeking out St. Thomas's old haunt at Pontigny, he threw himself with ardour into the austere Cistercian life. On the advice of his physicians, he soon sought a healthier abode with the canons of Soisy, in Brie, at whose house he died on November 16, 1240. His body was buried at Pontigny in the still abiding minster which had witnessed the devotions of Becket and Langton, and miracles were soon wrought at his tomb. Within eight years of his death he was declared a saint; and Henry, who had thwarted him in life, and even opposed his canonisation, was among the first of the pilgrims who worshipped at his shrine. It needed a tougher spirit and a stronger character than Edmund's to grapple with the thorny problems of his age.

The retirement of the archbishop enabled Otto to carry through his business, and withdraw from England on January 7, 1241. On August 21 Gregory IX. died, with his arch-enemy at the gates of Rome and all his plans for the time frustrated. High-minded, able and devout, he wagered the whole fortunes of the papacy on the result of his secular struggle with the emperor. In Italy as in England, the spiritual hegemony of the Roman see and the spiritual influence of the western Church were compromised by his exaltation of ecclesiastical politics over religion.

The monks of Christ Church won court favour by electing as archbishop, Boniface of Savoy, Bishop-elect of Belley, one of the queen's uncles. There was no real resistance to the appointment, though a prolonged vacancy in the papacy made it impossible for him to receive formal confirmation until 1243, and it was not until 1244 that he condescended to visit his new province. Meanwhile his kinsmen were carrying everything before them. Richard of Cornwall lost his first wife, Isabella, daughter of William Marshal, in 1240, an event which broke almost the last link that bound him to the baronial opposition. He withdrew himself from the troubles of English politics by going on crusade, and with him went his former enemy, Simon of Leicester. Richard was back in England early in 1242, and on November 23, 1243, his marriage with Sanchia of Provence, the younger sister of the queens of France and England, completed his conversion to the court party.

Henry III.'s cosmopolitan instincts led him to take as much part in foreign politics as his resources allowed. In 1235 he married his sister Isabella to Frederick II., and henceforth manifested a strong interest in the affairs of his imperial brother-in-law. His relations with France were still uneasy, and he hoped to find in Frederick's support a counterpoise to the steady pressure of French hostility. All England watched with interest the progress of the emperor's arms. Peter of Savoy led an English contingent to fight for Frederick against the Milanese, and Matthew Paris, the greatest of the English chroniclers, narrates the campaign of Corte Nuova with a detail exceeding that which he allows to the military enterprises of his own king. Frederick constantly corresponded with both the king and Richard of Cornwall, and it was nothing but solicitude for the safely of the heir to the throne that led the English magnates to reject the emperor's request that Richard should receive a high command under him. Even Frederick's breach with the pope in 1239 did not destroy his friendship with Henry. The situation became extremely complicated, since Innocent IV. derived large financial support for his crusade from the unwilling English clergy, while Henry still professed to be Frederick's friend. The king allowed Otto to proclaim Frederick's excommunication in England, and then urged the legate to quit the country because the emperor strongly protested against the presence of an avowed enemy at his brother-in-law's court. Neither pope nor emperor could rely upon the support of so half-hearted a prince. Renewed trouble with France explains in some measure the anxiety of Henry to remain in good relations with the emperor despite Frederick's quarrel with the pope.

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