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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The position of the French monarchy was far stronger than it had been when Henry first intervened in continental politics. Blanche of Castile had broken the back of the feudal coalition, and even Peter Mauclerc had made his peace with the monarchy at the price of his English earldom. Louis IX. attained his majority in 1235, and his first care was to strengthen his power in his newly won dominions. If Poitou were still in the hands of the Count of La Marche and the Viscount of Thouars, the royal seneschals of Beaucaire and Carcassonne after 1229 ruled over a large part of the old dominions of Raymond of Toulouse. In 1237 the treaty of Meaux was further carried out by the marriage of Raymond's daughter and heiress, Joan, to Alfonse, the brother of the French king. In 1241 Alfonse came of age, and Louis at once invested him with Poitou and Auvergne. The lords of Poitou saw that the same process which had destroyed the feudal liberties of Normandy now endangered their disorderly independence. Hugh of Lusignan and his wife had been present at Alfonse's investiture, and the widow of King John had gone away highly indignant at the slights put upon her dignity.[1] She bitterly reproached her husband with the ignominy involved in his submission. Easily moved to new treasons, Hugh became the soul of a league of Poitevin barons formed at Parthenay, which received the adhesion of Henry's seneschal of Gascony, Rostand de Sollers, and even of Alfonse's father-in-law, the depressed Raymond of Toulouse. At Christmas Hugh openly showed his hand. He renounced his homage to Alfonse, declared his adhesion to his step-son, Richard of Cornwall, the titular count of Poitou, and ostentatiously withdrew from the court with his wife. The rest of the winter was taken up with preparations for the forthcoming struggle.

[1] See the graphic letter of a citizen of La Rochelle to Blanche, published by M. Delisle in Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des Chartes, serie ii., iv., 513-55 (1856).

Untaught by experience, Henry III. listened to the appeals of his mother and her husband. Richard of Cornwall, who came back from his crusade in January, 1242, was persuaded that he had another chance of realising his vain title of Count of Poitou. But the king had neither men nor money and the parliament of February 2 refused to grant him sums adequate for his need, so that, despairing of dealing with his barons in a body, Henry followed the legate's example of winning men over individually. He made a strong protest against the King of France's breach of the existing truce, and his step-father assured him that Poitou and Gascony would provide him with sufficient soldiers if he brought over enough money to pay them. Thereupon, leaving the Archbishop of York as regent, Henry took ship on May 9 at Portsmouth and landed on May 13 at Royan at the mouth of the Gironde. He was accompanied by Richard of Cornwall, seven earls, and 300 knights.

Meanwhile Louis IX. marshalled a vast host at Chinon, which from April to July overran the patrimony of the house of Lusignan, and forced many of the confederate barons to submit. Peter of Savoy and John Mansel, Henry's favourite clerk, then made seneschal of Gascony, assembled the Aquitanian levies, while Peter of Aigueblanche, the Savoyard Bishop of Hereford, went to Provence to negotiate the union between Earl Richard and Sanchia, and, if possible, to add Raymond Berengar to the coalition against the husband of his eldest daughter. Henry hoped to win tactical advantages by provoking Louis to break the truce, and mendaciously protested his surprise at being forced into an unexpected conflict with his brother-in-law. Towards the end of July, Louis, who had conquered all Poitou, advanced to the Charente, and occupied Taillebourg. If the Charente were once crossed, Saintonge would assuredly follow the destinies of Poitou; and the Anglo-Gascon army advanced from Saintes to dispute the passage of the river. On July 21 the two armies were in presence of each other, separated only by the Charente. Besides the stone bridge at Taillebourg, the French had erected a temporary wooden structure higher up the stream, and had collected a large number of boats to facilitate their passage. Seeing with dismay the oriflamme waving over the sea of tents which, "like a great and populous city," covered the right bank, the soldiers of Henry retreated precipitately to Saintes. There was imminent danger of their retreat being cut off, but Richard of Cornwall went to the French camp, and obtained an armistice of a few hours, which gave his brother time to reach the town.

Next day Louis advanced at his ease to the capital of Saintonge. The Anglo-Gascons went out to meet him, and, despite their inferior numbers, fought bravely amidst the vineyards and hollow lanes to the west of the city. But the English king was the first to flee, and victory soon attended the arms of the French. Immediately after the battle, the lords of Poitou abandoned Richard for Alfonse. Henry fled from Saintes to Pons, from Pons to Barbezieux, and thence sought a more secure refuge at Blaye, leaving his tent, the ornaments of his chapel, and the beer provided for his English soldiers as booty for the enemy. The outbreak of an epidemic in the French army alone prevented a siege of Bordeaux, by necessitating the return of St. Louis to the healthier north. Henry lingered at Bordeaux until September, when he returned to England.[1] Meanwhile the French dictated peace to the remaining allies of Henry. On the death of Raymond of Toulouse, in 1249, Alfonse quietly succeeded to his dominions. The next twenty years saw the gradual extension of the French administrative system to Poitou, Auvergne, and the Toulousain. English Gascony was reduced to little more than the districts round Bordeaux and Bayonne. Even a show of hostility was no longer useful, and on April 7, 1243, a five years' truce between Henry and Louis was signed at Bordeaux. The marriage of Beatrice of Provence, the youngest of the daughters of Raymond Berengar, to Charles of Anjou, Louis' younger brother, removed Provence from the sphere of English influence. On his father-in-law's death in 1245, Charles of Anjou succeeded to his dominions to the prejudice of his two English brothers-in-law, and became the founder of a Capetian line of counts of Provence, which brought the great fief of the empire under the same northern French influences which Alfonse of Poitiers was diffusing over the lost inheritances of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the house of Saint-Gilles.

[1] The only good modern account of this expedition is that by M. Charles Bemont, La campagne de Poitou, 1242-3, in Annales du Midi, v., 389-314 (1893). For the Lusignans see Boissonade, Quomodo comites Engolismenses erga reges Angliae et Franciae se gesserint, 1152-1328 (1893).

A minor result of Louis' triumph was the well-deserved ruin of Hugh of Lusignan and Isabella of Angouleme. The proud spirit of Isabella did not long tolerate her humiliation. She retired to Fontevraud and died there in 1246. Hugh X. followed her to the tomb in 1248. Their eldest son, Hugh XI., succeeded him, but the rest of their numerous family turned for support to the inexhaustible charity of the King of England. Thus in 1247 a Poitevin invasion of the king's half-brothers and sisters recalled to his much-tried subjects the Savoyard invasion of ten years earlier. In that single year three of the king's brothers and one of his sisters accepted his invitation to make a home in England. Of these, Guy, lord of Cognac, became proprietor of many estates. William, called from the Cistercian abbey in which he was born William of Valence, secured, with the hand of Joan of Munchensi, a claim to the great inheritance that was soon to be scattered by the extinction of the male line of the house of Marshal. Aymer of Valence, a very unclerical churchman, obtained in 1250 his election as bishop of Winchester, though his youth and the hostility of his chapter delayed his consecration for ten years. Alice their sister found a husband of high rank in the young John of Warenne, Earl of Warenne or Surrey, while a daughter of Hugh XI. married Robert of Ferrars, Earl of Ferrars or Derby. Others of their kindred flocked to the land of promise. Any Poitevin was welcome, even if not a member of the house of Lusignan. Thus the noble adventurer John du Plessis, came over to England, married the heiress of the Neufbourg Earls of Warwick, and in 1247 was created Earl of Warwick. The alien invasion took a newer and more grievous shape.

The expenses of the war were still to be paid; and in 1244 Henry assembled a council, declaring that, as he had gone to Gascony on the advice of his barons, they were bound to make him a liberal grant towards freeing him from the debts which he had incurred beyond sea. Prelates, earls, and barons each deliberated apart, and a joint committee, composed of four members of each order, drew up an uncompromising reply. The king had not observed the charters; previous grants had been misapplied, and the abeyance of the great offices of state made justice difficult and good administration impossible. The committee insisted that a justiciar, a chancellor, and a treasurer should forthwith be appointed. This was the last thing that the jealous king desired. Helpless against a united council, he strove to break up the solidarity between its lay and clerical elements by laying a papal order before the prelates to furnish him an adequate subsidy. The leader of the bishops was now Grosseteste, who from this time until his death in 1253 was the pillar of the opposition. "We must not," he declared, "be divided from the common counsel, for it is written that if we be divided we shall all die forthwith." At last a committee of twelve magnates was appointed to draw up a plan of reform. The unanimity of all orders was shown by the co-operation on this body of prelates such as Boniface of Savoy with patriots of the stamp of Grosseteste and Walter of Cantilupe, while among the secular lords, Richard of Cornwall and 'Simon of Leicester worked together with baronial leaders like Norfolk and Richard of Montfichet, a survivor of the twenty-five executors of Magna Carta. The obstinacy of the king may well have driven the estates into drawing up the remarkable paper constitution preserved for us by Matthew Paris.[1] By it the execution of the charters and the supervision of the administration were to be entrusted to four councillors, chosen from among the magnates, and irremovable except with their consent. It is unlikely that the scheme was ever carried out; but its conception shows an advance in the claims of the opposition, and anticipates the policy of restraining an incompetent ruler by a committee responsible to the estates, which, for the next two centuries, was the popular specific for royal maladministration. For the moment neither side gained a decided victory. Though the barons persisted in their refusal of an extraordinary grant, they agreed to pay an aid to marry the king's eldest daughter to the son of Frederick II.

[1] Chron. Maj., iv., 366-68.

Further demands arose from the quarrel between Innocent IV.' and the emperor. A new papal envoy, Master Martin, came to England to extort from the clergy money to enable Innocent to carry on his war against Frederick. The lords told Martin that if he did not quit the realm forthwith he would be torn in pieces. In terror he prayed for a safe conduct. "May the devil give you a safe conduct to hell," was the only reply that the angry Henry vouchsafed. Even his complaisance was exhausted by Master Martin.

On July 26, 1245, a few weeks before Martin's expulsion, Innocent IV. opened a general council at Lyons, in which Frederick was deposed from the imperial dignity. Grosseteste, the chief English prelate to attend the gathering, was drawn in conflicting directions by his zeal for pope against emperor and by his dislike of curialist exactions. This attitude of the bishop is reflected in the remonstrance, in the name of the English people, laid before Innocent, declaring the faithfulness of England to the Holy See and the wrongs with which her fidelity had been requited. The increasing demands for money, the intrusion of aliens into English cures, and Martin's exactions were set forth at length. Innocent refused to entertain the petition, forced all the bishops at Lyons to join in the deprivation of the emperor, and required every English bishop to seal with his own seal the document by which John had pledged the nation to a yearly tribute. No one could venture to stand up against the successor of St. Peter, and so, despite futile remonstrance, Innocent still had it all his own way. In 1250 Grosseteste again met Innocent face to face at Lyons, and urged him to "put to flight the evils and purge the abominations" which the Roman see had done so much to foster. But this outspoken declaration was equally without result. Bold as were Grosseteste's words, he fully accepted the curialist theory which regarded the pope as the universal bishop, the divinely appointed source of all ecclesiastical jurisdiction. He could therefore do no more than protest. If the pope chose to disregard him, there was nothing to be done but wait patiently for better times. The plague of foreign ecclesiastics was still to torment the English Church for many a year.

The king's difficulties were increased by fresh troubles in Scotland and Wales. The friendship between Henry and his brother-in-law, Alexander II., was weakened by the death of the Queen of Scots and by Alexander's marriage to a French lady in 1239. At last, in 1244, relations were so threatening that the English levies were mustered for a campaign at Newcastle. However, on the mediation of Richard of Cornwall, Alexander bound himself not to make alliances with England's enemies, and the trouble passed away. In Wales the difficulties were more complicated. Llewelyn ap Iorwerth died in 1240, full of years and honour. In the last years of his reign broken health and the revolts of his eldest son Griffith made the old chieftain anxious for peace with England, as the best way of securing the succession to all his dominions of David, his son by Joan of Anjou. Henry III., anxious that David as his nephew should inherit the principality, granted a temporary cessation of hostilities. After Llewelyn's death David was accepted as Prince of Snowdon, and made his way to Gloucester, where he performed homage, and was dubbed knight by his uncle. Next year, however, hostilities broke out, and Henry, disgusted with his nephew, made a treaty with the wife of Griffith, Griffith himself being David's prisoner. In 1241 Henry led an expedition from Chester into North Wales, and forced David to submit. He surrendered Griffith to his uncle's safe keeping and promised to yield his principality to Henry if he died without a son. Three years later Griffith broke his neck in an attempt to escape from the Tower. The death of his rival emboldened David to take up a stronger line against his uncle. A fresh Welsh expedition was necessary for the summer of 1245, in which the English advanced to the Conway, but were speedily forced to retire. David held his own until his death, without issue, in March, 1246, threw open the question of the Welsh succession.



The ten years from 1248 to 1258 saw the continuance of the misgovernment, discontent, and futile opposition which have already been sufficiently illustrated. The history of those years must be sought not so much in the relations of the king and his English subjects as in Gascony, in Wales, in the crusading revival, and in the culmination of the struggle of papacy and empire. In each of these fields the course of events reacted sharply upon the domestic affairs of England, until at last the failures of Henry's foreign policy gave unity and determination to the party of opposition whose first organised success, in 1258, ushered in the Barons' War.

The relations between England and France remained anomalous. Formal peace was impossible, since France would yield nothing, and the English king still claimed Normandy and Aquitaine. Yet neither Henry nor Louis had any wish for war. They had married sisters: they were personally friendly, and were both lovers of peace. In such circumstances it was not hard to arrange truces from time to time, so that from 1243 to the end of the reign there were no open hostilities. In 1248 the friendly feeling of the two courts was particularly strong. Louis was on the eve of departure for the crusade and many English nobles had taken the cross. Henry, who was himself contemplating a crusade, was of no mind to avail himself of his kinsman's absence to disturb his realm.

The French could afford to pass over Henry's neglect to do homage, for Gascony seemed likely to emancipate itself from the yoke of its English dukes without any prompting from Paris. After the failure of 1243, a limited amount of territory between the Dordogne and the Pyrenees alone acknowledged Henry. This narrower Gascony was a thoroughly feudalised land: the absentee dukes had little authority, domain, or revenue: and the chief lordships were held by magnates, whose relations to their overlord were almost formal, and by municipalities almost as free as the cities of Flanders or the empire. The disastrous campaign of Taiilebourg lessened the prestige of the duke, and Henry quitted Gascony without so much as attempting to settle its affairs. In the following years weak seneschals, with insufficient powers and quickly succeeding each other, were unable to grapple with ever-increasing troubles. The feudal lords dominated the countryside, pillaged traders, waged internal war and defied the authority of the duke. In the autonomous towns factions had arisen as fierce as those of the cities of Italy. Bordeaux was torn asunder by the feuds of the Rosteins and Colons. Bayonne was the scene of a struggle between a few privileged families, which sought to monopolise municipal office, and a popular opposition based upon the seafaring class. The neighbouring princes cast greedy eyes on a land so rich, divided, and helpless. Theobald IV., the poet, Count of Champagne and King of Navarre, coveted the valley of the Adour. Gaston, Viscount of Bearn, the cousin of Queen Eleanor, plundered and destroyed the town of Dax. Ferdinand the Saint of Castile and James I. of Aragon severally claimed all Gascony. Behind all these loomed the agents of the King of France. Either Gascony must fall away altogether, or stronger measures must be taken to preserve it.

In this extremity Henry made Simon of Montfort seneschal or governor of Gascony, with exceptionally full powers and an assured duration of office for seven years. Simon had taken the crusader's vow, but was persuaded by the king to abandon his intention of following Louis to Egypt. He at once threw himself into his rude task with an energy that showed him to be a true son of the Albigensian crusader. In the first three months he traversed the duchy from end to end; rallied the royal partisans; defeated rebels; kept external foes in check, and administered the law without concern for the privileges of the great. In 1249 he crushed the Rostein faction at Bordeaux. The same fate was meted out to their partisans in the country districts. Order was restored, but the seneschal utterly disregarded impartiality or justice. He sought to rule Gascony by terrorism and by backing up one faction against the other. It was the same with minor cities, like Bazas and Bayonne, and with the tyrants of the countryside. The Viscount of Fronsac saw his castle razed and his estates seized. Gaston of Bearn, tricked by the seneschal out of the succession of Bigorre, was captured, sent to England, and only allowed to return to his home, humiliated and powerless to work further evil. The lesser barons had to acknowledge Simon their master. On the death of Raymond of Toulouse in 1249, his son-in-law and successor, Alfonse of Poitiers, had all he could do to secure his inheritance, and was too closely bound by the pacific policy of his brother to give Simon much trouble. The truce with France was easily renewed by reason of St. Louis' absence on a crusade. The differences between Gascony and Theobald of Navarre were mitigated in 1248 at a personal interview between Leicester and the poet-king.

Gascony for the moment was so quiet that the rebellious hordes called the Pastoureaux, who had desolated the royal domain, withdrew from Bordeaux in terror of Simon's threats. But the expense of maintaining order pressed heavily on the seneschal's resources, and his master showed little disposition to assist him. Moreover Gascony could not long keep quiet. There were threats of fresh insurrections, and the whole land was burning with indignation against its governor. Complaints from the Gascon estates soon flowed with great abundance into Westminster. For the moment Henry paid little attention to them. His son Edward was ten years of age, and he was thinking of providing him with an appanage, sufficient to support a separate household and so placed as to train the young prince in the duties of statecraft. Before November, 1249, he granted to Edward all Gascony, along with the profits of the government of Ireland, which were set aside to put Gascony in a good state of defence. Simon's strong hand was now more than ever necessary to keep the boy's unruly subjects under control. The King therefore continued Simon as seneschal of Gascony, though henceforth the earl acted as Edward's minister. "Complete happily," Henry wrote to the seneschal, "all our affairs in Gascony and you shall receive from us and our heirs a recompense worthy of your services." For the moment Leicester's triumph seemed complete, but the Gascons, who had hoped that Edward's establishment meant the removal of their masterful governor, were bitterly disappointed at the continuance of his rule. Profiting by Simon's momentary absence in England, they once more rose in revolt. Henry wavered for the moment. "Bravely," declared he to his brother-in-law, "hast thou fought for me, and I will not deny thee help. But complaints pour in against thee. They say that thou hast thrown into prison, and condemned to death, folk who have been summoned to thy court under pledge of thy good faith." In the end Simon was sent back to Gascony, and by May, 1251, the rebels were subdued.

Next year Gaston of Bearn stirred up another revolt, and, while Simon was in England, deputies from the Aquitanian cities crossed the sea and laid new complaints before Henry. A stormy scene ensued between the king and his brother-in-law. Threatened with the loss of his office, Simon insisted that he had been appointed for seven years, and that he could not be removed without his own consent. Henry answered that he would keep no compacts with traitors. "That word is a lie," cried Simon; "were you not my king it would be an ill hour for you when you dared to utter it." The sympathy of the magnates saved Leicester from the king's wrath, and before long he returned to Gascony, still seneschal, but with authority impaired by the want of his sovereign's confidence. Though the king henceforth sided with the rebels, Simon remained strong enough to make headway against the lord of Bearn. Before long, however, Leicester unwillingly agreed to vacate his office on receiving from Henry a sum of money. In September, 1252, he laid down the seneschalship and retired into France. While shabbily treated by the king, he had certainly shown an utter absence of tact or scruple. But the tumults of Gascony raged with more violence than ever now that his strong hand was withdrawn. Those who had professed to rise against the seneschal remained in arms against the king. Once more the neighbouring princes cast greedy eyes on the defenceless duchy. In particular, Alfonso the Wise, King of Castile, who succeeded his father Ferdinand in 1252, renewed his father's claims to Gascony.

The only way to save the duchy was for Henry to go there in person. Long delays ensued before the royal visit took place, and it was not until August, 1253, that Bordeaux saw her hereditary duke sail up the Gironde to her quays. The Gascon capital remained faithful, but within a few miles of her walls the rebels were everywhere triumphant. It required a long siege to reduce Benauge to submission, and months elapsed before the towns and castles of the lower Garonne and Dordogne opened their gates. Even then La Reole, whither all the worst enemies of Montfort had fled, held out obstinately. Despairing of military success, Henry fell back upon diplomacy. The strength of the Gascon revolt did not lie in the power of the rebels themselves but in the support of the neighbouring princes and the French crown. By renewing the truce with the representatives of Louis, Henry protected himself from the danger of French intervention, and at the same time he cut off a more direct source of support to the rebels by negotiating treaties with such magnates as the lord of Albret, the Counts of Comminges and Armagnac, and the Viscount of Bearn. His master-stroke was the conclusion, in April, 1254, of a peace with Alfonso of Castile, whereby the Spanish king abandoned his Gascon allies and renounced his claims on the duchy. In return it was agreed that the lord Edward should marry Alfonso's half-sister, Eleanor, heiress of the county of Ponthieu through her mother, Joan, whom Henry had once sought for his queen. As Edward's appanage included Aquitaine, Alfonso, in renouncing his personal claims, might seem to be but transferring them to his sister.

In May, 1254, Queen Eleanor joined Henry at Bordeaux. With her went her two sons, Edward and Edmund, her uncle, Archbishop Boniface, and a great crowd of magnates. In August Edward went with his mother to Alfonso's court at Burgos, where he was welcomed with all honour and dubbed to knighthood by the King of Castile, and in October he and Eleanor were married at the Cistercian monastery of Las Huelgas. His appanage included all Ireland, the earldom of Chester, the king's lands in Wales, the Channel Islands, the whole of Gascony, and whatsoever rights his father still had over the lands taken from him and King John by the Kings of France. Thus he became the ruler of all the outlying dependencies of the English crown, and the representative of all the claims on the Aquitanian inheritance of Eleanor and the Norman inheritance of William the Conqueror. The caustic St. Alban's chronicler declared that Henry left to himself such scanty possessions that he became a "mutilated kinglet".[1] But Henry was too jealous of power utterly to renounce so large a share of his dominions. His grants to his son were for purposes of revenue and support, and the government of these regions was still strictly under the royal control. Yet from this moment writs ran in Edward's name, and under his father's direction the young prince was free to buy his experience as he would. Soon after his son's return with his bride, Henry III. quitted Gascony, making his way home through France, where he visited his mother's tomb at Fontevraud and made atonement at Pontigny before the shrine of Archbishop Edmund. Of more importance was his visit to King Louis, recently returned from his Egyptian captivity. The cordial relations established by personal intercourse between the two kings prepared the way for peace two years later.

[1] Matthew Paris, Chron. Maj., v., 450.

Edward remained in Gascony about a year after his father. He checked with a stern hand the disorders of his duchy, strove to make peace between the Rosteins and Colons, and failing to do so, took in 1261 the decisive step of putting an end to the tumultuous municipal independence of the Gascon capital by depriving the jurats of the right of choosing their mayor.[1] Thenceforth Bordeaux was ruled by a mayor nominated by the duke or his lieutenant. Edward's rule in Gascony has its importance as the first experiment in government by the boy of fifteen who was later to become so great a king. Returning to London in November, 1255, he still forwarded the interests of his Gascon subjects, and an attempt to protect the Bordeaux wine-merchants from the exactions of the royal officers aroused the jealousy of Henry, who declared that the days of Henry II. had come again, when the king's sons rose in revolt against their father. Despite this characteristic wail, Edward gained his point. Yet his efforts to secure the well-being of Gascony had not produced much result. The hold of the English duke on Aquitaine was as precarious under Edward as it had been in the days of Henry's direct rule.

[1] See Bemont, Roles Gascons, i., supplement, pp. cxvi.-cxviii.

The affairs of Wales and Cheshire involved Edward in responsibilities even more pressing than those of Gascony. On the death of John the Scot without heirs in 1237, the palatinate of Randolph of Blundeville became a royal escheat. Its grant to Edward made him the natural head of the marcher barons. The Cheshire earldom became the more important since the Welsh power had been driven beyond the Conway. Since the death of David ap Llewelyn in 1246, divisions in the reigning house of Gwynedd had continued to weaken the Welsh. Llewelyn and Owen the Red, the two elder sons of the Griffith ap Llewelyn who had perished in attempting to escape from the Tower, took upon themselves the government of Gwynedd, dividing the land, by the advice of the "good men," into two equal halves. The English seneschal at Carmarthen took advantage of their weakness to seize the outlying dependencies of Gwynedd south of the Dovey. War ensued, for the brothers resisted this aggression. But in April, 1247, they were forced to do homage at Woodstock for Gwynedd and Snowdon. Henry retained not only Cardigan and Carmarthen, but the debatable lands between the eastern boundary of Cheshire and the river Clwyd, the four cantreds of the middle country or Perveddwlad, so long the scene of the fiercest warfare between the Celt and the Saxon. Thus the work of Llewelyn ap Iorwerth was completely undone, and his grandsons were confined to Snowdon and Anglesey, the ancient cradles of their house.

It suited English policy that even, the barren lands of Snowdon should be divided. As time went on, other sons of Griffith ap Llewelyn began to clamour for a share of their grandfather's inheritance. Owen, the weaker of the two princes, made common cause with them, and David, another brother, succeeded in obtaining his portion of the common stock. Llewelyn showed himself so much the most resourceful and energetic of the brethren that, when open war broke out between them in 1254, he easily obtained the victory. Owen was taken prisoner, and David was deprived of his lands. Llewelyn, thus sole ruler of Gwynedd, at once aspired to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather. He overran Merioneth, and frightened the native chieftains beyond the Dovey into the English camp. His ambitions were, however, rudely checked by the grant of Cheshire and the English lands in Wales to Edward.

Besides the border palatinate, Edward's Welsh lands included the four cantreds of Perveddwlad, and the districts of Cardigan and Carmarthen. Young as he was, he had competent advisers, and, while he was still in Aquitaine, designs were formed of setting up the English shire system in his Welsh lands, so as to supersede the traditional Celtic methods of government by feudal and monarchical centralisation. Efforts were made to subject the four cantreds to the shire courts at Chester; and Geoffrey of Langley, Edward's agent in the south, set up shire-moots at Cardigan and Carmarthen, from which originated the first beginnings of those counties. The bitterest indignation animated Edward's Welsh tenants, whether on the Clwyd or on the Teivi and Towy. They rose in revolt against the alien innovators, and called upon Llewelyn to champion their grievances. Llewelyn saw the chance of extending his tribal power into a national principality over all Wales by posing as the upholder of the Welsh people. He overran the four cantreds in a week, finding no resistance save before the two castles of Deganwy and Diserth. He conquered Cardigan with equal ease, and prudently granted out his acquisition to the local chieftain Meredith ap Owen. Nor were Edward's lands alone exposed to his assaults. In central Wales Roger Mortimer was stripped of his marches on the upper Wye, and Griffith ap Gwenwynwyn, the lord of upper Powys, driven from the regions of the upper Severn. In the spring of 1257 the lord of Gwynedd appeared in regions untraversed by the men of Snowdon since the days of his grandfather. He devastated the lands of the marchers on the Bristol Channel and slew Edward's deputy in battle. "In those days," says Matthew Paris, "the Welsh saw that their lives were at stake, so that those of the north joined together in indissoluble alliance with those of the south. Such a union had never before been, since north and south had always been opposed." The lord of Snowdon assumed the title of Prince of Wales.

Edward was forced to defend his inheritance. Henry III. paid little heed to his misfortunes, and answered his appeal for help by saying: "What have I to do with the matter? I have given you the land; you must defend it with your own resources. I have plenty of other business to do." Nevertheless, Henry accompanied his son on a Welsh campaign in August, 1257. The English army got no further than Deganwy, and therefore did not really invade Llewelyn's dominions at all. After waiting idly on the banks of the Conway for some weeks, it retired home, leaving the open country to be ruled by Llewelyn as he would, and having done nothing but revictual the castles of the four cantreds. Next year a truce was made, which left Llewelyn in possession of the disputed districts. Troubles at home were calling off both father and son from the Welsh war, and thus Llewelyn secured his virtual triumph. Though fear of the progress of the lord of Gwynedd filled every marcher with alarm, yet the dread of the power of Edward was even more nearly present before them. The marcher lords deliberately stood aside, and the result was inevitable disaster. Edward found that the territories handed over to him by his father had to be conquered before they could be administered, and Henry III.'s methods of government made it a hopeless business to find either the men or the money for the task.

England still resounded with complaints of misgovernment, and demands for the execution of the charters. Before going to Bordeaux in 1253, Henry obtained from the reluctant parliament a considerable subsidy, and pledged himself as "a man, a Christian, a knight, and a crowned and anointed king," to uphold the charters. During his absence a parliament, summoned by the regents, Queen Eleanor and Richard of Cornwall, for January, 1254, showed such unwillingness to grant a supply that a fresh assembly was convened in April, to which knights of the shire, for the first time since the reign of John, and representatives of the diocesan clergy, for the first occasion on record, were summoned, as well as the baronial and clerical grandees. Nothing came of the meeting save fresh complaints. The Earl of Leicester became the spokesman of the opposition. Hurrying back from France he warned the parliament not to fall into the "mouse-traps" laid for them by the king. In default of English money, enough to meet the king's necessities was extorted from the Jews, recently handed over to the custody of Richard of Cornwall. After his return from France at the end of 1254, Henry's renewed requests for money gave coherence to the opposition. Between 1254 and 1258 the king's exactions, and an effective organisation for withstanding them, developed on parallel lines. To the old sources of discontent were added grievances proceeding from enterprises of so costly a nature that they at last brought about a crisis.

The foremost grievance against the king was still his co-operation with the papacy in spoiling the Church of England. Though the death of the excommunicated Frederick II. in 1250 was a great gain for Innocent IV., the contest of the papacy against the Hohenstaufen raged as fiercely as ever. Both in Germany and in Italy Innocent had to carry on his struggle against Conrad, Frederick's son. After Conrad's death, in 1254, there was still Frederick's strenuous bastard, Manfred, to be reckoned with in Naples and Sicily. Innocent IV. died in 1254, but his successor, Alexander IV., continued his policy. A papalist King of Naples was wanted to withstand Manfred, and also a papalist successor to the pope's phantom King of the Romans, William of Holland, who died in 1256.

Candidates to both crowns were sought for in England. Since 1250 Innocent IV. had been sounding Richard, Earl of Cornwall, as to his willingness to accept Sicily. The honourable scruple against hostility to his kinsman, which Richard shared with the king, prevented him from setting up his claims against Conrad. But the deaths both of Conrad and of Frederick II.'s son by Isabella of England weakened the ties between the English royal house and the Hohenstaufen, and Henry was tempted by Innocent's offer of the Sicilian throne for his younger son, Edmund, a boy of nine, along with a proposal to release him from his vow of crusade to Syria, if he would prosecute on his son's behalf a crusading campaign against the enemies of the Church in Naples. Innocent died before the negotiations were completed, but Alexander IV. renewed the offer, and in April, 1255, Peter of Aigueblanche, Bishop of Hereford, accepted the preferred kingdom in Edmund's name. Sicily was to be held by a tribute of money and service, as a fief of the holy see, and was never to be united with the empire. Henry was to do homage to the pope on his son's behalf, to go to Italy in person or send thither a competent force, and to reimburse the pope for the large sums expended by him in the prosecution of the war. In return the English and Scottish proceeds of the crusading tenth, imposed on the clergy at Lyons, were to be paid to Henry. On October 18, 1255, a cardinal invested Edmund with a ring that symbolised his appointment. Henry stood before the altar and swore by St. Edward that he would himself go to Apulia, as soon as he could safely pass through France.

The treaty remained a dead letter. Henry found it quite impossible to raise either the men or the money promised, and abandoned any idea of visiting Sicily in person. Meanwhile Naples and Sicily were united in support of Manfred, and discomfited the feeble forces of the papal legates who acted against him in Edmund's name. At last the Archbishop of Messina came from the pope with an urgent request for payment of the promised sums. It was in vain that Henry led forth his son, clothed in Apulian dress, before the Lenten parliament of 1257, and begged the magnates to enable him to redeem his bond. When they heard the king's speech "the ears of all men tingled". Nothing could be got save from the clergy, so that Henry was quite unable to meet his obligations. He besought Alexander to give him time, to make terms with Manfred, to release Edmund from his debts on condition of ceding a large part of Apulia to the Church,—to do anything in short save insist upon the original contract. The pope deferred the payment, but the respite did Henry no good. Edmund's Sicilian monarchy vanished into nothing, when, early in 1258, Manfred was crowned king at Palermo. Before the end of the year, Alexander cancelled the grant of Sicily to Edmund. Yet his demands for the discharge of Henry's obligations had contributed not a little towards focussing the gathering discontent.[1]

[1] For Edmund's Sicilian claims, see W.E. Rhodes' article on Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, in the English Historical Review, x. (1895), 20-27.

While Henry was seeking the Sicilian crown for his son, his brother Richard was elected to the German throne. Since William of Holland's death in January, 1256, the German magnates, divided between the Hohenstaufen and the papalist parties, had hesitated for nearly a year as to the choice of his successor. As neither party was able to secure the election of its own partisan, a compromise was mooted. At last the name of Richard of Cornwall was brought definitely forward. He was of high rank and unblemished reputation; a friend of the pope yet a kinsman of the Hohenstaufen; he was moderate and conciliatory; he had enough money to bribe the electors handsomely, and he was never likely to be so deeply rooted in Germany as to stand in the way of the princes of the empire. The Archbishop of Cologne became his paid partisan, and the Count Palatine of the Rhine accepted his candidature on conditions. The French party set up as his rival Alfonso X. of Castile, who, despite his newly formed English alliance, was quite willing to stand against Richard. At last, in January, 1257, the votes of three electors, Cologne, Mainz, and the Palatine, were cast for Richard, who also obtained the support of Ottocar, King of Bohemia. However, in April, Trier, Saxony, and Brandenburg voted for Alfonso. The double election of two foreigners perpetuated the Great Interregnum for some sixteen years. Alfonso's title was only an empty show, but Richard took his appointment seriously. He made his way to Germany, and was crowned King of the Romans on May 17, 1257, at Aachen. He remained in the country nearly eighteen months, and succeeded in establishing his authority in the Rhineland, though beyond that region he never so much as showed his face.[1] The elevation of his brother to the highest dignity in Christendom was some consolation to Henry for the Sicilian failure.

[1] See for Richard's career, Koch's Richard von Cornwallis, 1209-1257, and the article on Richard, King of the Romans, in the Dictionary of National Biography.

The nation was disgusted to see maladministration grow worse and worse; the nobles were indignant at the ever-increasing sway of the foreigners; and several years of bad harvests, high prices, rain, flood, and murrain sharpened the chronic misery of the poor. The withdrawal of Earl Richard to his new kingdom deprived the king and nation of an honourable if timid counsellor, though a more capable leader was at last provided in the disgraced governor of Gascony. Simon still deeply resented the king's ingratitude for his services, and had become enough of an Englishman to sympathise with the national feelings. Since his dismissal in 1253 he had held somewhat aloof from politics. He knew so well that his interests centred in England that he declined the offer of the French regency on the death of Blanche of Castile. He prosecuted his rights over Bigorre with characteristic pertinacity, and lawsuits about his wife's jointure from her first husband exacerbated his relations with Henry. It cannot, however, be said that the two were as yet fiercely hostile. Simon went to Henry's help in Gascony in 1254, served on various missions and was nominated on others from which he withdrew. His chosen occupations during these years of self-effacement were religious rather than political; his dearest comrades were clerks rather than barons.

Among Montfort's closer intimates, Bishop Grosseteste was removed by death in 1253. But others of like stamp still remained, such as Adam Marsh, the Franciscan mystic, whose election to the see of Ely was quashed by the malevolence of the court; Eudes Rigaud, the famous Archbishop of Rouen, and Walter of Cantilupe, Bishop of Worcester, who formed a connecting link between the aristocracy and the Church. Despite the ineffectiveness of the clerical opposition to the papacy, the spirit of independence expressed in Grosseteste's protests had not yet deserted the churchmen. Clerks had felt the pinch of the papal exactions, had been bled to the uttermost to support the Sicilian candidature, and had seen aliens and non-residents usurping their revenues and their functions. More timid and less cohesive than the barons, they had quicker brains, more ideas, deeper grievances, and better means of reaching the masses. If resentment of the Sicilian candidature was the spark that fired the train, the clerical opposition showed the barons the method of successful resistance. The rejection of Henry's demands for money in the assemblies of 1257 started the movement that spread to the baronage in the parliaments of 1258. In the two memorable gatherings of that year the discontent, which had smouldered for a generation, at last burst into flame. In the next chapter we shall see in what fashion the fire kindled.

The futility of the political history of the weary middle period of the reign suggests, to those who make the history of the state the criterion of every aspect of the national fortunes, a corresponding barrenness and lack of interest in other aspects of national life. Yet a remedy for Henry's misrule was only found because the age of political retrogression was in all other fields of action an epoch of unexampled progress. The years during which the strong centralised government of the Angevin kings was breaking down under Henry's weak rule were years which, to the historian of civilisation, are among the most fruitful in our annals. In vivid contrast to the tale of misrule, the historian can turn to the revival of religious and intellectual life, the growing delight in ideas and knowledge, the consummation of the best period of art, and the spread of a nobler civilisation which make the middle portion of the thirteenth century the flowering time of English medieval life. It is part of this strange contrast that Henry, the obstacle to all political progress, was himself a chief supporter of the religious and intellectual movements which were so deeply influencing the age.

Much has been said of the alien invasion, and of the strong national opposition it excited. But insularity is not a good thing in itself, and the natural English attitude to the foreigners tended to confound good and bad alike in a general condemnation. Even the Savoyards were by no means as evil as the English thought them, and Henry in welcoming his kinsmen was not merely moved by selfish and unworthy motives; he believed that he was showing his openness to ideas and his welcome to all good things from whencesoever they came. There were, in fact, two tendencies, antagonistic yet closely related, which were operative, not only in England but all over western Europe, during this period. Nations, becoming conscious and proud of their unity, dwelt, often unreasonably, on the points wherein they differed from other peoples, and strongly resented alien interference. At the same time the closer relations between states, the result of improved government, better communications, increased commercial and social intercourse, the strengthening of common ideals, and the development of cosmopolitan types of the knight, the scholar, and the priest, were deepening the union of western Christendom on common lines. Neither the political nor the military nor the ecclesiastical ideals of the early middle ages were based upon nationality, but rather on that ecumenical community of tradition which still made the rule of Rome, whether in Church or State, a living reality. In the thirteenth century the papal tradition was still at its height. The jurisdiction of the papal curia implied a universal Christian commonwealth. World-wide religious orders united alien lands together by ties more spiritual than obedience to the papal lawyers. The academic ideal was another and a fresh link that connected the nations together. To the ancient reasons for union—symbolised by the living Latin speech of all clerks, of all scholars, of all engaged in serious affairs-were added the newer bonds of connexion involved in the common knightly and social ideals, in the general spread of a common art and a common vernacular language and literature.

As Latin expressed the one series of ties, so did French represent the other. The France of St. Louis meant two things. It meant, of course, the French state and the French nationality, but it meant a great deal more than that. The influence of the French tongue and French ideals was wider than the political influence of the French monarchy. French was the common language of knighthood, of policy, of the literature that entertained lords and ladies, of the lighter and less technical sides of the cosmopolitan culture which had its more serious embodiments in Latin. To the Englishman of the thirteenth century the French state was the enemy; but the English baron denounced France in the French tongue, and leant a ready ear to those aspects of life which, cosmopolitan in reality, found their fullest exposition in France and among French-speaking peoples. In the age which saw hostility to Frenchmen become a passion, a Frenchman like Montfort could become the champion of English patriotism, English scholars could readily quit their native land to study at Paris, the French vernacular literature was the common property of the two peoples, and French words began to force their way into the stubborn vocabulary of the English language, which for two centuries had almost entirely rejected these alien elements. In dwelling, however briefly, on the new features which were transforming English civilisation during this memorable period, we shall constantly see how England gained by her ever-increasing intercourse with the continent, by necessarily sharing in the new movements which had extended from the continent to the island, no longer, as in the eleventh century, to be described as a world apart. Neither the coming of the friars, nor the development of university life and academic schools of philosophy, theology, and natural science, nor the triumph of gothic art, nor the spread of vernacular literature, not even the scholarly study of English law nor the course of English political development-not one of these movements could have been what it was without the close interconnexion of the various parts of the European commonwealth, which was becoming more homogeneous at the same time that its units were acquiring for themselves sped characteristics of their own.

In the early days of Henry III.'s reign, a modest alien invasion anticipated the more noisy coming of the Poitevin or the Provencal. The most remarkable development of the "religious" life that the later middle age was to witness had just been worked out in Italy. St. Francis of Assisi had taught the cult of absolute poverty, and his example held up to his followers the ideal of the thorough and literal imitation of Christ's life. Thus arose the early beginnings of the Minorite or Franciscan rule. St. Dominic yielded to the fascination of the Umbrian enthusiast, and inculcated on his Order of Preachers a complete renunciation of worldly goods which made a society, originally little more than a new type of canons regular, a mendicant order like the Franciscans, bound to interpret the monastic vow of poverty with such literalness as to include corporate as well as individual renunciation of possessions, so that the order might not own lands or goods, and no member of it could live otherwise than by labour or by alms. In the second chapter of the Dominican order, at Whitsuntide, 1221, an organisation into provinces was carried out; and among the eight provinces, each with its prior, then instituted, was the province of England, where no preaching friar had hitherto set foot, and over it Gilbert of Freynet was appointed prior. Then Dominic withdrew to Bologna, where he died on August 6. Within a few days of the saint's death, Friar Gilbert with thirteen companions made his way to England. In the company of Peter des Roches the Dominican pioneers went to Canterbury, where Archbishop Langton was then residing. At the archbishop's request Gilbert preached in a Canterbury church, and Langton was so much delighted by his teaching that henceforth he had a special affection for the new order. From Canterbury the friars journeyed to London and Oxford. Mindful of the work of their leaders at Paris and Bologna, they built their first English chapel, house, and schools in the university town. Soon these proved too small for them, and they had to seek ampler quarters outside the walls. From these beginnings the Dominicans spread over England.

The Franciscans quickly followed the Dominicans. On September 10, 1224, there landed at Dover a little band of four clerks and five laymen, sent by St. Francis himself to extend the new teaching into England. At their head was the Italian, Agnellus of Pisa, a deacon, formerly warden of the Parisian convent, who was appointed provincial minister in England. His three clerical companions were all Englishmen, though the five laymen were Italians or Frenchmen. Like the Dominican pioneers, the Franciscan missionaries first went to Canterbury, where the favour of Simon Langton, the archdeacon, did for them what the goodwill of his brother Stephen had done for their precursors. Leaving some of their number at Canterbury, four of the Franciscans went on to London, and thence a little later two of them set out for Oxford. Alike at London and at Oxford, they found a cordial welcome from the Dominicans, eating in their refectories, and sleeping in their dormitories, until they were able to erect modest quarters in both places. The brethren of the new order excited unbounded enthusiasm. Necessity and choice combined to compel them to interpret their vow of poverty as St. Francis would have wished. They laboured with their own hands at the construction of their humble churches. The friars at Oxford knew the pangs of debt and hunger, rejected pillows as a vain luxury, and limited the use of boots and shoes to the sick and infirm. The faithful saw the brethren singing songs as they picked their way over the frozen mud or hard snow, blood marking the track of their naked feet, without their being conscious of it. The joyous radiance of Francis himself illuminated the lives of his followers. "The friars," writes their chronicler, "were so full of fun among themselves that a deaf mute could hardly refrain from laughter at seeing them." With the same glad spirit they laboured for the salvation of souls, the cure of sickness, and the relief of distress. The emotional feeling of the age quickly responded to their zeal. Within a few years other houses had arisen at Gloucester, at Nottingham, at Stamford, at Worcester, at Northampton, at Cambridge, at Lincoln, at Shrewsbury. In a generation there was hardly a town of importance in England that had not its Franciscan convent, and over against it a rival Dominican house.

The esteem felt for the followers of Francis and Dominic led to an extraordinary extension of the mendicant type. New orders of friars arose, preserving the essential attribute of absolute poverty, though differing from each other and from the two prototypes in various particulars. Some of these lesser orders found their way to England. In the same year as Agnellus, there came to England the Trinitarian friars, called also the Maturins, from the situation of their first house in Paris, an order whose special function was the redemption of captives. In 1240 returning crusaders brought back with them the first Carmelite friars, for whom safer quarters had to be found than in their original abodes in Syria. This society spread widely, and in 1287, to the disgust of the older monks, it laid aside the party-coloured habit, forced upon it in derision by the infidels, and adopted the white robe, which gave them their popular name of White Friars. Hard upon these, in 1244, came also the Crutched Friars, so called from the red cross set upon their backs or breasts; but these were never deeply rooted in England. The multiplication of orders of friars became an abuse, so that, at the Council of Lyons of 1245, Innocent IV abolished all save four. Besides Dominicans and Franciscans the pope only continued the Carmelites, and an order first seen in England a few years later, the Austin friars or the hermits of the order of St. Augustine. These made up the traditional four orders of friars of later history. Yet even the decree of a council could not stay the growth of new mendicant types. In 1257 the Friars of the Penance of Jesus Christ, popularly styled Friars of the Sack, from their coarse sackcloth garb, settled down in London, exempted by papal dispensation from the fate of suppression; and even later than this King Richard's son, Edmund of Cornwall, established a community of Bonhommes at Ashridge in Buckinghamshire.

The friars were not recluses, like the older orders, but active preachers and teachers of the people. The parish clergy seldom held a strong position in medieval life. The estimation in which the monastic ideal was held limited their influence. They were, as a rule, not much raised above the people among whom they laboured. If the parish priest were a man of rank or education, he was too often a non-resident and a pluralist, bestowing little personal attention on his parishioners. Nor were the numerous parishes served by monks in much better plight. The monastery took the tithes and somehow provided for the services; but the efforts of Grosseteste to secure the establishment of permanent stipendiary vicarages in his diocese exemplify the reluctance of the religious to give their appropriations the benefit of permanent pastors, paid on an adequate scale. It was an exceptional thing for the parish clergymen to do more than discharge perfunctorily the routine duties of their office, and preaching was almost unknown among them. The friars threw themselves into pastoral work with such devotion as to compel the reluctant admiration of their natural rivals, the monks. "At first," says Matthew Paris,[1] "the Preachers and the Minorites lived a life of poverty and extreme sanctity. They busied themselves in preaching, hearing confessions, the recital of divine service, in teaching and study. They embraced voluntary poverty for God's sake, abandoning all their worldly goods and not even reserving for themselves their food for to-morrow." A special field of labour was in the crowded suburbs of the larger towns, where so often they chose to erect their first convents. The care of the sick and of lepers was their peculiar function. Their sympathy and charity carried everything before them, and they remained the chief teachers of the poor down to the Reformation. They ingratiated themselves with the rich as much as with the poor. Henry III. and Edward selected mendicants as their confessors. The strongest and holiest of the bishops, Grosseteste, became their most active friend. Simon of Montfort sought the advice and friendship of a friar like Adam Marsh. The mere fact that Stephen Langton and Peter des Roches were their first patrons in England shows how they appealed alike to the best and worst clerical types of the time.

[1] Chron. Maj., v., 194.

Men and women of all ranks, while still living in the world and fulfilling their ordinary occupations, associated themselves to the mendicant brotherhoods. Besides these tertiaries, as they were called, still wider circles sought the friars' direction in all spiritual matters and showed eagerness to be buried within their sanctuaries. Nor did the friars limit themselves to pastoral care. They won a unique place in the intellectual history of the time. They made themselves the spokesmen of all the movements of the age. They were eager to make peace, and Agnellus himself mediated between Henry III. and the earl marshal. They were the strenuous preachers of the crusades, whether against the infidel or against Frederick II. The Franciscans taught a new and more methodical devotion to the Virgin Mother. The friars upheld the highest papal claims, were constantly selected as papal agents and tax-gatherers, and yet even this did not deprive them of their influence over Englishmen. Their zeal for truth often made them defenders of unpopular causes, and it was much to their honour that they did not hesitate to incur the displeasure of the Londoners by their anxiety to save innocent Jews accused of the murder of Christian children. The parish clergy hated and envied them as successful rivals, and bitterly resented the privilege which they received from Alexander IV of hearing confessions throughout the world. Not less strong was the hostility of the monastic orders which is often expressed in Matthew Paris's free-spoken abuse of them. They were accused of terrorising dying men out of their possessions, of laxity in the confessional, of absolving their friends too easily, of overweening ambition and restless meddlesomeness. They were violent against heretics and enemies of the Church. They answered hate with hate. They despised the seculars as drones and the monks as lazy and corrupt. The dissensions between the various orders of friars, and particularly between the sober and intellectual Dominicans and the radical and mystic Franciscans, were soon as bitter as those between monks and friars, or monks and seculars. But when all allowances have been made, the good that they wrought far outbalanced the evil, and in England at least, the mendicant orders exhibited a nobler conception of religion, and of men's duly to their fellowmen than had as yet been set before the people. If the main result of their influence was to strengthen that cosmopolitan conception of Christendom of which the papacy was the head and the friars the agents, their zeal for righteousness often led them beyond their own rigid platform, and Englishmen honoured the wandering friar as the champion of the nation's cause.

Like the religious orders, the universities were part of the world system and only indirectly represented the struggling national life. The ferment of the twelfth century revival crystallised groups of masters or doctors into guilds called universities, with a strong class tradition, rigid codes of rules, and intense corporate spirit. The schools at Oxford, whose continuous history can be traced from the days of Henry II., had acquired a considerable reputation by the time that his grandson had ascended the throne. Oxford university, with an autonomous constitution of its own since 1214, was presided over by a chancellor who, though in a sense the representative of the distant diocesan at Lincoln, was even in the earliest times the head of the scholars, and no mere delegate of the bishop. Five years earlier the Oxford schools were sufficiently vigorous to provoke a secession, from which the first faint beginnings of a university at Cambridge arose. A generation later there were other secessions to Salisbury and Northampton, but neither of these schools succeeded in maintaining themselves. Cambridge itself had a somewhat languid existence throughout the whole of the thirteenth century, and was scarcely recognised as a studium generale until the bull of John XXII. in 1318 made its future position secure. In early days the university owed nothing to endowments, buildings, social prestige, or tradition. The two essentials was the living voice of the graduate teacher and the concourse of students desirous to be taught. Hence migrations were common and stability only gradually established. When, late in Henry III.'s reign, the chancellor, Walter of Merton, desired to set up a permanent institution for the encouragement of poor students, he hesitated whether to establish it at Oxford, or Cambridge, or in his own Surrey village. Oxford, though patriots coupled it with Paris and Bologna, only gradually rose into repute. But before the end of Henry III.'s reign it had won an assured place among the great universities of western Europe, though lagging far behind that of the supreme schools of Paris.

The growing fame of the university of Oxford was a matter of national importance. Down to the early years of the thirteenth century a young English clerk who was anxious to study found his only career abroad, and was too often cut off altogether from his mother country. Among the last of this type were the Paris mathematician, John of Holywood or Halifax, Robert Curzon, cardinal, legate, theologian, and crusader, and Alexander of Hales. Stephen Langton, who did important work in revising the text of the Vulgate, might well have been one of those lost to England but for the wisdom of Innocent III who restored him, in the fulness of his reputation and powers, to the service of the English Church. Not many years younger than Langton was his successor Edmund of Abingdon, but the difference was enough to make the younger primate a student of the Oxford schools in early life. Though he left Oxford for Paris, Edmund returned to an active career in England, when experience convinced him of the vanity of scholastic success. Bishop Grosseteste, another early Oxford teacher of eminence, probably studied at Paris, for so late as 1240 he held up to the Oxford masters of theology the example of their Paris brethren for their imitation. The double allegiance of Edmund and Grosseteste was typical. A long catalogue of eminent names adorned the annals of Oxford in the thirteenth century, but the most distinguished of her earlier sons were drawn away from her by the superior attractions of Paris. England furnished at least her share of the great names of thirteenth century scholasticism, but of very few of these could it be said that their main obligation was to the English university. It was at Paris that the academic organisation developed which Oxford adopted. At Paris the great intellectual conflicts of the century were fought. There the ferment seethed round that introduction of Aristotle's teaching from Moorish sources which led to the outspoken pantheism of an Amaury of Bene. There also was the reconciliation effected between the new teacher and the old faith which made Aristotle the pillar of the new scholasticism that was to justify by reason the ways of God to man. In Paris also was fought the contest between the aggressive mendicant friars and the secular doctors whom they wished to supplant in the divinity schools.

There is little evidence of even a pale reflection of these struggles in contemporary Oxford. English scholars bore their full share in the fight. It was the Englishman Curzon who condemned the heresies of Amaury of Bene. Another Englishman, Alexander of Hales, issued in his Summa Theologiae the first effective reconciliation of Aristotelian metaphysic with Christian doctrine which his Paris pupils, Thomas Aquinas, the Italian, and Albert the Great, the German, were to work out in detail in the next generation. Hales was the first secular doctor in Europe who in 1222, in the full pride of his powers, abandoned his position in the university to embrace the voluntary poverty of the Franciscans and resume his teaching, not in the regular schools but in a Minorite convent. And at the same time another English doctor at Paris, John of St. Giles, notable as a physician as well as a theologian, dramatically marked his conversion to the Dominican order by assuming its habit in the midst of a sermon on the virtues of poverty. All these famous Englishmen worked and taught at Paris, and it was only a generation later that their successors could establish on the Thames the traditions so long upheld on the banks of the Seine.

The establishment of the Dominicans and Franciscans at Oxford gave an immense impetus to the activity of the university. The Franciscans appointed as the first lector of their Oxford convent the famous secular teacher Grosseteste, who ever after held the Minorites in the closest estimation. Grosseteste was the greatest scholar of his day, knowing Greek and Hebrew as well as the accustomed studies of the period. A clear and independent thinker, he was not, like so many of his contemporaries, overborne by the weight of authority, but appealed to observation and experience in terms which make him the precursor of Roger Bacon. Grosseteste's successor as lector was himself a Minorite, Adam Marsh, whose reputation was so great that Grosseteste was afraid to leave him when sick in a French town, lest the Paris masters should persuade him to teach in their schools. Adam's loyalty to his native university withstood any such temptation, and from that time Oxford began to hold up its head against Paris. Even before this, Grosseteste persuaded John of St. Giles to transfer his teaching from Paris to Oxford, where he remained for the rest of his life.

The intense intellectual activity of the thirteenth century flowed in more than one channel, and Englishmen took their full share both in building up and in destroying. Two Englishmen of the next generation mark in different ways the reaction against the moderate Aristotelianism and orthodox rationalism which their countryman Hales first brought into vogue. These were the Franciscan friars, Roger Bacon and Duns Scotus. Bacon, though he studied at Paris as well as at Oxford, is much more closely identified with England than with the Continent. His sceptical, practical intellect led him to heap scorn on Hales and his followers and to plunge into audacities of speculation which cost him long seclusions in his convent and enforced abstinence from writing and study. In his war against the Aristotelians, the intrepid friar upheld recourse to experiment and observation as superior to deference to authority, in language which stands in strange contrast to the traditions of the thirteenth century. Grosseteste, who also had preferred the teachings of experience to the appeal to the sages of the past, was the only academic leader that escaped Bacon's scathing censure. When his order kept him silent, Roger was bidden to resume his pen by Pope Clement IV. A generation still later, Duns Scotus, probably a Lowland Scot, who taught at Paris and died at Cologne in 1308, emphasised, sharply enough, but in less drastic fashion, the reaction against the teaching of Hales and Aquinas, by accepting a dualism between reason and authority that broke away from the Thomist tradition of the thirteenth century and prepared the way for the scholastic decadence of the fourteenth. After France, England took a leading part in all these movements; and even in France English scholars had a large share in making that land the special home of the Studium, as Italy was of the Sacerdotium and Germany of the Imperium.

This intellectual ferment had its results on practical life. Though the university was cosmopolitan, the individual members of it were not the less good citizens. A patriot like Grosseteste strove to his uttermost to keep Englishmen for Oxford or to win them back from Paris. Oxford clerks fought the battle of England against the legate Otto, and we shall see them siding with Montfort. The eminently practical temper of the academic class could not neglect the world of action for the abstract pursuit of science. Eager as men were to know, to prove, and to inquire, the age had little of the mystical temperament about it. The studies which made for worldly success, such as civil and canon law, attracted the thousands for whom philosophy or theology had little attraction. Never before was there a career so fully opened to talent. The academic teacher's fame took him from the lecture-room to the court, from the university to the episcopal throne, and so it was that the university influenced action almost as profoundly as it influenced thought, and affected all classes of society alike. The struggles of poor students like Edmund of Abingdon or Grosseteste must not make us think that the universities of this period were exclusively frequented by humble scholars. The academic career of a rich baron's son like Thomas of Cantilupe, living in his own hired house at Paris with a train of chaplains and tutors, receiving the visits of the French king, and feeding poor scholars with the remnants from his table, is as characteristic as the more common picture of the student begging his way from one seat of learning to another, and suffering the severest privations rather than desert his studies. Yet the function of the studium as promoting a healthy circulation between the various orders of medieval society, must not be ignored.

Partly to help on the poor, partly to encourage men to devote themselves to the pursuit of knowledge, endowments began to arise which soon enhanced the splendour of universities though they lessened their mobility and their freedom. The mendicant convents at Paris and Oxford prepared the way for secular foundations, at first small and insignificant, like that which, in the days of Henry III., John Balliol established at Oxford for the maintenance of poor scholars, but soon increasing in magnitude and distinction. The great college set up by St. Louis' confessor at Paris for the endowment of scholars, desirous of studying the unlucrative but vital subject of theology, was soon imitated by the chancellor of Henry III. Side by side with Robert of Sorbon's college of 1257, arose Walter of Merton's foundation of 1263, and twenty years later Bishop Balsham's college of Peterhouse extended the "rule of Merton" to Cambridge.

The academic movement was not all clear gain. The humanism, of the twelfth century was crushed beneath the weight of the specialised science and encyclopaedic learning of the thirteenth. We should seek in vain among most theologians or the philosophers of our period for any spark of literary art; and the tendency dominant in them affected for evil all works written in Latin. Even the historians show a falling away from the example of William of Malmesbury or of Roger of Hoveden. The one English chronicler of the thirteenth century who is a considerable man of letters, Matthew Paris, belongs to the early half of it, before the academic tradition was fully established, and even with him prolixity impairs the art without injuring the colour of his work. The age of Edward I., the great time of triumphant scholasticism, is recorded in chronicles so dreary that it is hard to make the dry bones live. Walter of Hemingburgh, the most attractive historian of the time, belongs to the next generation: and his excellencies are only great in comparison with his fellows. Something of this decadence may be attributed to the falling away of the elder monastic types, whose higher life withered up from want of able recruits, for the secular and mendicant careers offered opportunities so stimulating that few men of purpose, or earnest spiritual character, cared to enter a Benedictine or a Cistercian house of religion. Something more may be assigned to the growing claims of the vulgar tongue on literary aspirants. But the chief cause of the literary defects of thirteenth century writers must be set down to the doctrine that the study of "arts"—of grammar, rhetoric and the rest—was only worthy of schoolboys and novices, and was only a preliminary to the specialised faculties which left little room for artistic presentation. Science in short nearly killed literature.

It was the same with the vulgar tongues as with Latin. French remained the common language of the higher classes of English society, and the history of French literature belongs to the history of the western world rather than to that of England. The share taken in it by English-born writers is less important than in the great age of romance when the contact of Celt and Norman on British soil added the Arthurian legend to the world's stock of poetic material. The practical motive, which destroyed the art of so many Latin writers, impaired the literary value of much written in the vernacular. We have technical works in French and even in English, such as Walter of Henley's treatise on Husbandry, composed in French for the guidance of stewards of manors, and translated, it is said by Grosseteste, into English for the benefit of a wider public. Grosseteste is also said to have drawn up in French a handbook of rules for the management of a great estate, and he certainly wrote French poetry. The legal literature, written in Latin or French, and illustrated by such names as Bracton, Britton, and "Fleta," shows that there was growing up a school of earnest students of English law who, though anxious, like Bracton, to bring their conclusions under the rules of Roman jurisprudence, began to treat their science with an independence which secured for English custom the opportunity of independent development. Of more literary interest than such technicalities were the rhyming chronicles, handed on from the previous age, of which one of the best, the recently discovered history of the great William Marshal, has already been noticed. The spontaneity of this poem proves that its language was still the natural speech of the writer, and impels its French editor to claim for it a French origin. As the century grew older there was no difficulty in deciding whether French works were written by Englishmen or Frenchmen. The Yorkshire French of Peter Langtoft's Chronicle, and the jargon of the Year Books, attest how the political separation of the two lands, and the preponderance in northern France of the dialect of Paris, placed the insular French speech in strong contrast to the language of polite society beyond the Channel. Yet barbarous as Anglo-French became, it retained the freshness of a living tongue, and gained some ground at the expense of Latin, notably in the law courts and in official documents.

English was slowly making its way upwards. There was a public ready to read vernacular books, and not at home with French. For their sake a great literature of translations and adaptations was made, beginning with Layamon's English version of Wace's Brut, which by the end of the century made the cycle of French romance accessible to the English reader. Many works of edification and devotion were written in English; and Robert of Gloucester's rhyming history appealed to a larger public than the Yorkshire French of Langtoft. It is significant of the trend of events that the early fourteenth century saw Langtoft himself done into English by Robert Mannyng, of Bourne. While as yet no continuous works of high merit were written in English, there was no lack of experiments, of novelties, and of adaptations. Much evidence of depth of feeling, power of expression, and careful art lies hidden away in half-forgotten anonymous lyrics, satires, and romances. The language in which these works were written was steadily becoming more like our modern English. The dialectical differences become less acute; the inflections begin to drop away; the vocabulary gradually absorbs a larger romance element, and the prosody drops from the forms of the West Saxon period into measures and modes that reflect a living connexion with the contemporary poetry of France. Thus, even in the literature of a not too literary age, we find abundant tokens of that strenuous national life which was manifesting itself in so many different ways.

Art rather than literature reflected the deeper currents of the thirteenth century. Architecture, the great art of the middle age, was in its perfection. The inchoate gothic which the Cistercians brought from Burgundy to the Yorkshire dales, and William of Sens transplanted from his birthplace to Canterbury, was superseded by the more developed art of St. Hugh's choir at Lincoln. In the next generation the new style, imported from northern France, struck out ways of its own, less soaring, less rigidly logical, yet of unequalled grace and picturesqueness, such as we see in Salisbury cathedral, which altogether dates from the reign of Henry III. Here also, as in literature, foreign models stood side by side with native products. Henry III.'s favourite foundation at Westminster reproduced on English soil the towering loftiness, the vaulted roofs, the short choir, and the ring of apsidal chapels, of the great French minsters. This was even more emphatically the case with the decorations, the goldsmith's and metal work, the sculpture, painting, and glass, which the best artists of France set up in honour of the English king's favourite saint. In these crafts English work would not as yet bear a comparison with foreign, and even the glories of the statuary of the facade of Wells cannot approach the sculptured porches of Amiens or Paris. As the century advanced some of the fashions of the French builders, notably as regards window tracery, were taken up in the early "Decorated" of the reign of Edward I.; and here the claims of English to essential equality with French building can perhaps be better substantiated than in the infancy of the art. But all these comparisons are misleading. The impulse to gothic art came to England from France, like the impulse to many other things. Its working out was conducted on English local lines, ever becoming more divergent from those of the prototype, though not seldom stimulated by the constant intercourse of the two lands.

The new gothic art enriched the medieval town with a splendour of buildings hitherto unknown, which symbolised the growth of material prosperity as well as of a keener artistic appreciation. In the greater towns the four orders of friars erected their large and plain churches, designed as halls for preaching to great congregations. The development of domestic architecture is even more significant than the growth of ecclesiastical and military buildings. Stone houses were no longer the rare luxuries of Jews or nobles. Never were the towns more prosperous and more energetic. They were now winning for themselves both economic and administrative independence. Magnates, such as Randolph of Chester, followed the king's example by granting charters to the smaller towns. Even the lesser boroughs became not merely the abodes of agriculturists but the homes of organised trading communities. It was the time when the merchant class first began to manifest itself in politics, and the power of capital to make itself felt. Capital was almost monopolised by Jews, Lombards, or Tuscans, and the fierce English hatred of the foreigner found a fresh expression in the persecution of the Hebrew money-lenders and in the increasing dislike felt for the alien bankers and merchants who throve at Englishmen's expense. The fact that so much of English trade with the continent was still in the hands of Germans, Frenchmen, and Italians made this feeling the more intense. But there were limits even to the ill-will towards aliens. The foreigner could make himself at home in England, and the rapid naturalisation of a Montfort in the higher walks of life is paralleled by the absorption into the civic community of many a Gascon or German merchant, like that Arnold Fitz Thedmar,[1] a Bremen trader's son, who became alderman of London and probably chronicler of its history. Yet even the greatest English towns did not become strong enough to cut themselves off from the general life of the people. They were rather a new element in that rich and purposeful nation that had so long been enduring the rule of Henry of Winchester. The national energy spurned the feebleness of the court, and the time was at hand when the nation, through its natural leaders, was to overthrow the wretched system of misgovernment under which it had suffered. Political retrogression was no longer to bar national progress.

[1] See for Arnold the Chronica majorum et vicecomitum Londoniarum in Liber de antiquis legibus, and Riley's introduction to his translation of Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London (1863).



During the early months of 1258, the aliens ruled the king and realm, added estate to estate, and defied all attempts to dislodge them. Papal agents traversed the country, extorting money from prelates and churches. The Welsh, in secret relations with the lords of the march, threatened the borders, and made a confederacy with the Scots. The French were hostile, and the barons disunited, without leaders, and helpless. A wretched harvest made corn scarce and dear. A wild winter, followed by a long late frost, cut off the lambs and destroyed the farmers' hopes for the summer. A murrain of cattle followed, and the poor were dying of hunger and pestilence. Henry III. was in almost as bad a plight as his people. He had utterly failed to subdue Llewelyn. A papal agent threatened him with excommunication and the resumption of the grant of Sicily. He could not control his foreign kinsfolk, and the rivalry of Savoyards and Poitevins added a new element of turmoil to the distracted relations of the magnates. His son had been forced to pawn his best estates to William of Valence, and the royal exchequer was absolutely empty. Money must be had at all risks, and the only way to get it was to assemble the magnates.

On April 2 the chief men of Church and State gathered together at London. For more than a month the stormy debates went on. The king's demands were contemptuously waved aside. His exceptional misdeeds, it was declared, were to be met by exceptional measures. Hot words were spoken, and William of Valence called Leicester a traitor. "No, no, William," the earl replied, "I am not a traitor, nor the son of a traitor; your father and mine were men of a different stamp," An opposition party formed itself under the Earls of Gloucester, Leicester, Hereford, and Norfolk. Even the Savoyards partially fell away from the court, and a convocation of clergy at Merton, presided over by Archbishop Boniface, drew up canons in the spirit of Grosseteste. In parliament all that Henry could get was a promise to adjourn the question of supply until a commission had drafted a programme of reform. On May 2 Henry and his son Edward announced their acceptance of this proposal; parliament was forthwith prorogued, and the barons set to work to mature their scheme.

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