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tion, in presence of Prince Henry, unto whom that charge had been committed, in what manner I was given to the Church ? And the answer was, Free and discharged from all bonds of the court. Being, therefore, thus free and discharged, I am not bound to answer concerning these things; nor will I.”
The Earl here observed that this reply was very different from what had before been given. “Listen, my son!” Becket pursued. “Inasmuch as the soul is of more worth than the body, by so much more are you bound to obey God and me, rather than an earthly King. Neither by law or reason is it allowed that children should judge or condemn their father. Wherefore I disclaim the King's judgement, and yours, and all the other peers', being only to be judged under God by our Lord the Pope, to whom I here appeal before you all, committing the church of Canterbury, my order and dignity, with all thereunto appertaining, to God's protection and to his. In like manner, my brethren, and fellow-bishops, you who have chosen to obey man rather than God, I cite you before the presence of our Lord the Pope! And thus, relying on the authority of the Catholic Church, and of the Apostolic See, I depart hence.” As he was leaving the hall a clamour was raised against him, and some there were who reproached him as a perjured traitor : upon which he looked fiercely round, and said with a loud voice, that were it not forbidden by his holy orders, he would defend himself by arms against those who dared thus to accuse him. Anger for the moment overcame him, and he who had hitherto displayed such perfect dignity throughout this trying scene, forgot himself so far as to revile in foul and inhuman language two of the persons who were, indecently indeed, expressing their disapprobation of his conduct. No attempt at detaining him was made. The beggars, with the populace, and the poorer clergy, followed him in crowds, and were entertained as his guests, in the monastery where he was lodged. His next measure was to request permission to leave the kingdom. Henry replied, he would advise with his council the next day; but Becket, deeming it imprudent to await the decision, left Northampton privily in the night; and eluding pursuit by a circuitous course, effected his escape at length to the coast of Flanders.
However incensed the King may have been at Becket's flight,
and apprehensive as he certainly was of its injurious consequences, he was careful not to prejudice his own case by hastily proceeding to extremities; and therefore forbore from seizing his temporalities, or visiting his offence upon those who were related to him, as the barbarous customs of that age authorized. Without delay he despatched ambassadors to the King of France and to the Pope, the two persons whose good will it most behoved him to conciliate. But the French King, who from many circumstances, personal and political, was inimically disposed towards Henry, had assured Becket, when that prelate, meditating such a retreat, had sent over an agent to secure his reception, that he would receive him not as a Bishop or Archbishop, but as a partner in his kingdom. In this he was actuated by principle not less than passion, for he was devout by nature, thoroughly imbued with the superstition of the age, and believed the cause of the hierarchy to be that of religion. When therefore the ambassadors presented their letters requesting that he would not admit into his territories the late Archbishop of Canterbury, who had fled from England like a traitor; he took up the unadvised expression, and repeating “late Archbishop!” demanded who had deposed him? They were embarrassed by the question. “I,” he pursued," am a king as well as my brother of England; yet I would not have deprived the lowest clerk in my dominions, nor do I think I have power to do so. I knew this Thomas when he was chancellor : he served your King long and faithfully, and this is his reward, that his master, having driven him from England, would also drive him out of France !” So warmly indeed did Louis take up the Primate's cause, that he despatched his almoner to the Pope, exhorting him as he regarded the honour of the Church, and the weal of the French kingdom, to support Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, against the English tyrant.
The ambassadors proceeded to Sens, where Alexander III. at that time resided, Rome being in possession of the antipope. They consisted of the Archbishop of York, four other bishops, and four barons,-showing what importance Henry attached to the cause. Higher persons, they said, the King could find none in his kingdom ; if he could, he would have sent them to show his reverence toward the holy Father and the sacred Roman
Church. What they solicited was, that his Holiness would send the Archbishop back to England, and appoint legates to judge him there. Some cardinals were of opinion it was expedient to do this in conformity to the King's desire, lest Henry should be driven to espouse the cause of the rival Pope. But the papal court was not now to learn that the boldest policy is the best. Legates, Alexander said, they should have; but when it was asked of him that they might have powers for deciding the cause without appeal, “ That,” he replied, “is my glory, which I will not give to another; and certainly when the Archbishop is judged it shall be by ourselves. It is not reasonable that we should remand him to England, there to be judged by his adversaries, and in the midst of his enemies." The bent of his mind was so apparent in all this, that the Earl of Arundel, who was the head-piece of the embassy, hinted to him such conduct might perhaps provoke the King to seek for better treatment from his competitor; and the ambassadors left Sens without asking his · blessing
Becket, who had obtained a liberal allowance for himself and his followers from Louis, arrived at Sens soon afterwards. The Cardinals received him coldly, as one who was likely to weaken their cause by the contest in which he was involving them; but the Pope gave him public audience, seated him at his right hand, and as a farther mark of honour, bade him keep his seat while he spake. The Primate rested his case upon that point which was sure to interest the persons to whom he appealed. Leaving the pecuniary demand which had been the occasion of the breach unnoticed, he produced the Constitutions of Clarendon, and called upon the assembly to judge whether, without destroying his own soul, he could consent that such laws against the liberty of the Church should be brought into action? Hitherto there had been an evident leaning towards Henry on the part of the Cardinals; but now the whole council resolved with one accord, that in Becket's person the cause of the universal Catholic Church should be supported. They then examined the Constitutions, and the Pope tolerating six of them, not, he said, as good, but as less evil than the rest, condemned the other ten ; thus sitting in judgement upon the acts of an English parliament, and the laws of England. The Pope upon this
occasion informed the assembly, that Becket had applied to him before he left England to be pardoned for the sin of consenting to these Constitutions; his repentance, he said, the sacrifices which he had made, and the sufferings he had endured, entitled him to indulgence.
But Becket was conscious that his own appointment to the primacy had been a greater violation of the rights of the Church than any of those which he had thus brought under the Pope's cognizance; and that Alexander, by deposing him upon that plea, might not only satisfy the King of England, without compromising the papal cause, but establish a strong precedent upon one of the most important points in dispute between the civil and ecclesiastical powers.
istical powers. On the following day, he appeared before the Pope and the Cardinals in a more private room, and acknowledged that these troubles had been brought upon the Church of England, through his miserable offence; for he had ascended into the fold of Christ, not by the true door, not having been called thither by a canonical election, but obtruded by the terror of secular power : what wonder then that he should have succeeded so ill ? Had he however surrendered his see through fear of the King's menaces, when his brethren advised him so to do, that would have been leaving a pernicious example. Therefore he had deferred it till the present hour; but now, acknowledging the unlawfulness of his entrance, and fearing a worse exit; perceiving also that his strength was unequal to the burthen, and lest the flock whose unworthy pastor he had been made should perish, he resigned his see into the holy Father's hands. Accordingly, taking off his episcopal ring, he delivered it to the Pope, desired him to provide a proper pastor for the Church, which was now vacant, and then left the room. There were some of opinion that a happier means of terminating the dispute could not be devised, that the resignation ought to be accepted, and Becket provided for at some future opportunity. But Alexander, who as a statesman was worthy of his station, maintained that if Becket were permitted to fall a sacrifice, all other bishops would fall with him ; no ecclesiastic after such an example would venture to resist the will of his sovereign ; the fabric of the Church would thus be shaken, and the papal authority perish. Becket was now called in, and the Pope told him
that whatever fault there had been in his promotion, was cancelled by the manner in which he had acknowledged it, and by his resignation; that he now restored him to his functions, and would never desert him while he lived, viewing him as a pattern for imitation, dear to God and men, dear to himself, and to the Catholic Church. But as hitherto he had lived in affluence, it was now time that he should learn the lessons which poverty alone could teach ; and for that end he commended him to the abbot of Pontigny, there present, one of the poor of Christ, in whose monastery he might live as became a banished man, and a champion of our Lord. He then gave him his blessing, and sent him, in compliance with his own request, a Cistercian habit, Becket was thus enrolled in that order, and observed at Pontigny the monastic rule of life, according to the strictest form which was at that time prevailing.
The conduct of the Pope irritated Henry, and he gave orders for stopping the payment of that annual contribution known by the name of Peter's pence. Had Wicliffe then been living, or had there been among the English bishops another man endowed with the same talents and intrepidity as Becket, it is more than likely that the Church of England would then have separated from that of Rome, and that a reformation would have commenced, not less honourable in its origin than beneficial in its consequences. But Henry had no counsellor equal to the crisis. He sequestered the Primate's estates, ordered the Bishops to suspend the revenues of every clergyman who followed him into France, or took part in his behalf, declared all correspondence with him criminal, and forbade his name to be mentioned in the public prayers. But acting under the impulse of passion, he went beyond the bounds of policy and justice in his resentment, banishing, by one sweeping sentence, all the kinsmen, friends, and dependants of Becket, to the number of nearly four hundred persons, without exception of sex or age; their goods were confiscated, and they were compelled to take an oath, that they would repair to Becket wherever he might be, the King's intention being to distress him by the sight of their sufferings, and burthen him with their support. This inhuman act was in the spirit of feudal tyranny and of the times. When Henry had determined upon raising his favourite to the primacy, the Bishops