Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAP.
VII.

affairs : Wales,

to carry out their intended measures it was necessary

that they should be free from anxiety abroad. While 1258

still at Oxford the united attitude of the barons and Foreign

the large army there assembled had alarmed the Welch ; they sent envoys, and a truce was made before

the king left the town. A conciliatory letter was Castile, also sent to the King of Castile, making excuses for

the failure to help him in Africa and for Richards

candidature for the empire. Shortly after the return Scotland, to London, an embassy, consisting of Simon de Mont

fort, Peter of Savoy, and John Mansel, was appointed to make peace between the discordant parties in Scotland, which would have resulted in a cessation of hostilities on the part of the Scotch barons, who had

allied with the Welch against their own king and Sicily, against the English. A letter was sent to the Pope

' concerning the Sicilian affair, to prepare him for the plainer speech which was to follow; and he was begged to use his influence to bring about a lasting peace with France, which he was the more likely to do, since it would be indispensable if anything were

to be done with regard to Sicily.? Four

Thus secured from immediate danger abroad, and knights to

freed from the plague of aliens at home, the barons grievances. could begin in earnest the work of reform. The sum-'

mons to elect four knights to examine into grievances was sent round to the counties immediately on the kings return to London. It was however nearly three months before the kings oath to abide by the Provi

France.

hear

'It is hardly probable that this embassy went to Scotland. In Sept. 1258 three ambassadors, the Earls of Albemarle and Hereford, and John Baliol, met the King of Scotland at Melrose, and settled terms of peace --Chron. Mailros, 183.

Fæd. i. 372 seq.

СНАР.
VII.

Proclama

barons.

of Edward.

sions was published through the counties. At the same time a proclamation was issued, explaining the reasons of the delay that had taken place in the completion

1258 of the work, and promising reform as speedily as poss- tion of the ible. All men were invited to make their complaints to the four knights, and were encouraged by the regulations which had been already made as to the conduct of sheriffs and other royal officers. Similar edicts

" were issued to prevent extortion on the part of these persons, and for some time, we are told, the good effects of these lasted.? No little compulsion had however to be used. The reluctance of Prince Resistance Edward to agree to the provisions had been all this time very great. He was therefore put into a kind of honourable arrest, by the appointment of four socalled counsellors, or tutors, who were to attend him, three of them being among the twelve representatives. A reform of his household was also in contemplation, and regulations were to be made as to all foreigners in England, whether Romans, merchants, or others.? Perhaps the most important step, and one which was Repudiaabsolutely necessary to conciliate the Church, was the tion of the final repudiation of the papal projects with regard to scheme.

. Sicily. A long letter was written to the Pope, in which the barons stated that since the king had acted without their advice, they repudiated all thoughts of further movement in the matter. To this they added a general defence of their proceedings. They set forth the evils which the kings brothers had inflicted on the country, declaring that the Bishop-Elect of Win

' Fæd, i. 375, 377 ; cf. Ann. Burt. 453. ? Lib. de Ant. Leg. 39. Fæd. i. 373.

VII.

CHAP. chester was the worst of all, and that even if they (the

barons) were willing, the people would not allow him 1258

to come back : they therefore prayed the Pope to
Letter to
the Pope ;

remove him, a proceeding which they declared quite
justifiable, since he had not yet been consecrated. To
all of this the Pope turned a deaf ear, and no answer

was sent till two years later. He shortly afterwards his answer.

excommunicated those who refused to pay his mer-
chants, and threatened to put the kingdom under an
interdict if the aid for Sicily were withheld; and, in
contempt of the baronial request, he consecrated Ayl.
mer, who would have returned to take possession of
his bishopric had not his death, which occurred in

1260, prevented him.
Difficulties So far then the barons acted up to their promises,
in the way and all went well. The compulsory measures taken,

violent as they were, were probably not more violent
than necessary. The work the barons had in hand
was no light one.

How far the present system of
government was intended to be permanent it is very
hard to say ; but there are no signs that the barons
thought of yielding the power they had usurped.
They had in fact only just entered upon their greatest
difficulty, that of adapting the old administrative sys-
tem to a parliamentary form of government: and
upon this rock more than on any other they were to
suffer shipwreck. They set to work however with
energy, holding council day by day in the Temple.'
For a time the country was heartily with them : but
it was rather the measures of administrative reform,
the healing of great abuses such as those connected

[ocr errors]

Lib. de Ant. Leg. 39.

6

with the sheriffs, the expulsion of the aliens, and the СНАР.

VII. like, which met with popular approval. The form of

1258-59 government was popular, or at least tolerated, only so

Popularity long as it appeared to be successful. The joy of the of the

. country was great, but it was premature. The city of reforms. London welcomed the Provisions, and the mayor and citizens swore to observe them. The first measures of the barons, we are told, raised great hopes. The expulsion of the aliens made men hope that a similar end would be put to all papal and legal exactions." The relief was sudden, like the waking out of sleep;"2 the gratitude to the reformers was proportionate.

Great and arduous are the matters to be settled, and such as cannot be quickly or easily brought to an end,' writes one to the monks of Burton ; 'the barons go boldly forward with their task: may fortune favour them.'3 It might have been apprehended that King Richard would make some opposition to the movement; but it was not in his nature to be irreconcileable. His return to England in January 1259 re- Return of moved all fears on this head. He was not allowed to

King

Richard ; land till he had taken the oath to the Provisions, which, after some show of reluctance, removed by a letter from the king, he consented to do. After this he consents

to the Proconcession his arrival in London was a matter of visions. great joy to the citizens, and it was doubtless hoped

1 “Bonæ leges constitutæ sunt.'— Ann. Wigorn. 445. Statuta facta ad utilitatem totius regni.'—Lib. de Ant. Leg. 54.

? Ann. Wav. 350.

8 Ann. Burt. 445. This letter describes the immediate intentions of the barons, and incidentally shows that the words de hospitio regis' in the Provisions refer to the household, not the hostelry, of the king, See Mr. Luards translation, Ann. Burt. 504. - Fæd. i. 380, dated 23 Jan., 1259.

A letter had been sent him as early as 4 Nov., 1258, bidding him take the oath. - Roy. Letters ii. 132.

Lib. de Ant. Leg. 39.

СНАР.
VII.

that he would play his old part of mediator with

success.

1258-59

But already there were signs of discontent visible. Beginning of a re

Every element of royalistic feeling was sure to grow action: its

stronger while the monarch was powerless ; loyal causes;

sentiments, latent conservatism, fear of the untried,
sympathy for the conquered, all worked in the same
direction. The throb of joy with which the reformers
had been greeted in the first flush of victory was fol-

lowed by a steadily-increasing reaction. Their own violence of violence was probably that which turned the wavering the barons,

scale. A strange instance of the blind hate with which
they pursued the aliens was to be seen in the decree
passed at Winchester, by which it was forbidden to
sell wool to foreigners. But if the principles of free
trade had to wait nearly six centuries for recognition,
it is no wonder that in the heat of the conflict such
laws were considered the height of wisdom.
bitter was the popular hatred of the very name of
alien that a short time after this an Italian, whom the
Pope had promoted to a prebend at St. Pauls, was
murdered in broad daylight in the streets of London,

and not a hand was raised to stop the murderers.?
proceed- More annoying than the ignorance of political eco-
ings of the
justices, nomy appear to have been the proceedings of the

justices. Hugh Bigod incurred considerable odium in
London by holding pleas in the city, which according
to the charters were to be held only by the sheriffs,
and by the severity and arbitrary nature of his sent-
ences. He seems to have shown too little regard
for privileges, probably as having been conferred by
"W. de Heming. 306.

? A:19. Lunst. 214.
3 Lib. de Ani. Leg. 40.

So

[ocr errors]

1

« PreviousContinue »