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is not apparent. To the Bishops he said, that as their King was in other respects so excellent a Prince, he would consent to his granting investitures ; but he would not send him a written concession, lest it might come to the knowledge of other Princes, and they should thereby be encouraged to despise the papal authority. By the monks he sent letters to Anselm, exhorting him to persist in his refusal. Both parties made their report before the Great Council of the realm ; the Prelates solemnly asseverating that they faithfully repeated what had passed between them and the Pope, the monks producing their letters. On the one part, it was contended that oral testimony might not be admitted against written documents; on the other, that the solemn declaration of three Prelates ought to outweigh the words of two monks and a sheet of sheep's skin with a leaden seal.' ... To this it was replied, that the Gospel itself was contained in skins of parchment. If, however, it was not easy to determine what had been the real decision of the Pontiff, his double-dealing was palpable; and Anselm may have been influenced by a proper feeling of indignation, when he so far conceded to the King as no longer to refuse communion with those Bishops who had received investiture from his hands. At length, by Henry's desire, Anselm went to Rome to negotiate there in person; and the matter ended in a compromise, that no layman should invest by delivery of the ring and crosier, but that Prelates should perform homage for their temporalities.
During these disputes no Council had been held in England, and therefore a great decay of discipline was complained of. The marriage of the Clergy was what Anselm regarded as the most intolerable of all abuses. This real abuse had grown out of it, that the son succeeded by inheritance to his father's church ; a custom which, if it had taken root, would have formed the clergy into a separate cast. This, therefore, was justly prohibited; but it was found necessary to dispense with a canon which forbade the ordination or promotion of the sons of priests, because it appeared that the best qualified and greater part of the clergy were in that predicament. Canons, each severer than the last, were now enacted for the purpose of compelling them to celibacy. Married priests were required immediately to put away their wives, and
1 Collier, i. 286.
never to see or speak to them, except in cases of urgent necessity and in the presence of witnesses. They who disobeyed were to be excommunicated, their goods forfeited, and their wives reduced to servitude, as slaves to the Bishop of the diocese.' The wife of a priest was to be banished from the parish in which her husband resided, and condemned to slavery if she ever held any intercourse with him: and no woman might dwell with a clergyman, except she were his sister or his aunt, or of an age to which no suspicion could attach. Scripture was perverted with the grossest absurdity to justify these injurious laws, and prodigies were fabricated in default of truth and reason for their support. It was affirmed” that when married priests were administering the communion, the cup had been torn from their hands by a vehement wind, and the bread portentously snatched away: and that many of their wives had perished, under a divine judgement, by suicide, or by sudden death, and their bodies had been cast out of the grave by the evil spirits who had possession of their souls. Cardinal Crema came over as Legate to promote this favourite object of the Papacy. It happened that having in the morning delivered a discourse upon the wickedness of marriage in the Clergy, he was discovered at night in bed with an harlot. This flagrant example was not necessary to prove the unfitness of such canons. The general feeling was strongly against them: and Henry, instead of enforcing laws so exceptionable, or resisting them as he ought to have done, turned them to his own advantage, by allowing the clergy to retain their wives upon payment of a certain tax.4
The efforts which Anselm had made in this cause, and for promoting the sovereignty of the Roman See, entitled him to canonization; and miracles enough for establishing his claim were adduced. His biographer, the historian Eadmer, asserts, that a precious balsam intended for embalming his body having been spilt, with the little which remained, Baldwin, the master of his household, wished to anoint the face of the deceased Primate, and that right hand wherewith so many holy treatises had been written. It was so little that it scarcely moistened the end of a finger when put into the vessel ; Eadmer, however, was directed
· Henry, vol. iii. p. 203, Dublin edition. ? Acta Sanctorum, Maii, t. vi. p. 141. 3 Fuller, b. iii. p. 23. • Lyttleton's Henry II. vol. i. p. 153. Ed. 1769.
to hold his hand for the last drop, and the balsam flowed from the empty vessel in such profusion, that there was enough to anoint the whole body again and again. Nor was this the only miracle which Eadmer witnessed. The stone coffin had been made too shallow, and while the assistants, lamenting this mistake, knew not how to remedy it, the Bishop of Rochester drew his crosier across the body, and immediately the corpse contracted itself to the desired dimensions. Such is the character of ecclesiastical biography in that age, and in this spirit of deliberate and systematic falsehood are the lives of the Romish Saints composed.
The struggle between the papal and royal authorities did not impede the progress of those improvements which the Norman Clergy introduced. A surprising revival of literature had been effected by Lanfranc and Anselm ; it extended beyond the monasteries, where learning had hitherto been confined; and the schools at Cambridge are believed to have been first established at this time. The rigour with which Henry I., during a reign of five and thirty years, maintained tranquillity at home, allowing of no oppression except that which was exercised by his own officers, favoured the improvement of the nation. The original Saxon Churches, as they fell to decay, were now generally supplied by more elaborate structures ; and the introduction of painted glass, by making larger windows necessary, led to the perfection of church architecture.
The ensuing reign was as disgraceful to the hierarchy as it was disastrous to the realm. Stephen had every requisite for the throne, except the first and most indispensable, a lawful title ; the Bishops who had sworn allegiance to the rightful successor, violated their oath and supported the usurper, the Legate approved his coronation, and the Pope sent him letters of confirmation, because he promised a reverent obedience to St. Peter. The court of Rome, which was never withheld by any inconvenient scruples from taking whatever advantage political events might offer, gained by this usurpation more than it had lost during the schism; whatever the Prelates asked, or Rome required, Stephen was ready to grant; and when Henry, the first of the Plantagenet kings, succeeded to the crown, the securities which his ancestors had provided against ecclesiastical encroachments, had all been swept away.
1 Acta Sanct. April, t. ii. p. 893. 2 Whitaker's Loidis et Elmete, 120.
HENRY 11.-THOMAS À BECKET.
With many weaknesses, and some vices, Henry II. was an able Prince. He found his kingdom in a state of frightful anarchy. During his predecessor's turbulent reign, castles had been built in all parts of the land, each being the strong hold of some petty tyrant, who, having a band of ruffians in his service, exercised the most grievous oppression as far as his power extended, and inflicted torments upon all who fell into his hands for the purpose of extorting money. This multiplied tyranny, which rendered the state of England worse than it had been during the ravages of the Danes, was put down with a strong hand; and the King having thus deserved the blessings of the people, applied himself with equal determination to suppress the abuses of the ecclesiastical power.
The most crying of these abuses was the exemption from all secular jurisdiction which the clergy had established for themselves. This was an evil which had imperceptibly arisen. The higher clergy at first interfered in disputes for the Christian purpose of reconciling the parties ; gradually they became judges instead of mediators and arbitrators; and in this too there was an evident propriety, because in those rude ages, no other persons were so well qualified for the judicial office; because it might be presumed that they would temper justice with mercy, and because a religious sanction accompanied their decisions. Under the Saxon Kings, the Bishop sat with the sheriff in the County Court, and the Conqueror, when he separated their jurisdictions, did not foresee the consequences which resulted. The Ecclesi. astical courts followed the Canon law, parts of which had been forged for the purpose of withdrawing the dignified clergy from the ordinary tribunals, and placing them under the Pope's immediate authority, that is to say, his protection. By these laws, no clergyman might be condemned to death; stripes were the
severest punishment that might be inflicted. Every one who had received the tonsure came under the privilege of the Canons; in that age,
the number of those who were ordained and had no benefice was very great, and these persons, existing in idleness and poverty, stood in need of their privilege often enough, to prove that such immunities were incompatible with the general good. But it was not from the conduct of such persons only, that this inference was drawn ; in the age when the pretensions of the Church were highest, the corruption of its members was also at its height. A contemporary monk has acknowledged, that the Prelates were more intent on maintaining the privileges, than correcting the vices of the clergy, who, because of the impunity which they possessed, stood in no awe either of God or man. A legend of that age marks the opinion which was entertained of their general depravity. It was related in history, not as a fable, but as a fact, that Satan and the company of infernal spirits sent their thanks in writing, by a lost soul from hell, to the whole ecclesiastical body, for denying themselves no one gratification, and for sending more of their flock thither, through their negligence, than had ever arrived in any former time.
While Henry was pursuing the great object of securing the public peace by a vigorous administration of justice, the judges represented to him the evil consequences of the immunity from all secular punishment which the clergy claimed and enjoyed, instancing that, because of these privileges, there had been already committed during his reign, more than an hundred acts of homicide, which were not cognizable by the laws.? Well aware how difficult it would be to correct this abuse, and reduce the ecclesiastical power within those bounds to which the Conqueror and his sons had confined it, Henry thought that the surest mode of facilitating this object, would be to select for the primacy, a person in whom he could confide. He chose, therefore, the Chancellor, Thomas à Becket, the most confidential, as well as the ablest, of his servants, and the most intimate of his friends; a man who had hitherto resembled Wolsey in the
William of Malmsbury, p. 311, ? Turner, vol. i. p. 209. William of Newbury quoted. 3 I have had before me while composing the summary of Becket's life, Lord Lyttleton's Hist. of Henry II. and the history of the same reign by my friend Mr. Turner, and by Mr. Berrington, a Roman Catholic historiau, whom I must not mention without expressing my sincere respect for his erudition, his ability, and his candour.