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CHAP.

I.

recognised, these classes must be admitted to a share

in the government; but the magnates were unwilling 1215-1232 to admit them, nor was it perceived that the necessary

machinery already existed. This was understood Kine's

later, and the principle received due recognition ; but bood

the issue of the struggle through which this point was attained shows at once the prematurity and the essential justice of the ideas which prompted the charter of 1215.

will

$ 3. THE EARLY YEARS OF HENRY III.

• Govern- The first sixteen years of the reign of Henry III Inent under a regency. did not introduce any new principles, though the

kings minority naturally strengthened the idea of parliamentary rule, and the cloud of popular discontent rapidly formed after he had taken the government upon himself. It was about the year 1232 that parliamentary opposition began to take a more solid form, and thenceforward it continually increased, together with a corresponding development of constitutional ideas, in spite of interruptions and temporary relapses, till it culminated in the events of 1265. There was at first, as we have seen, a considerable reaction. The want of a more elaborate constitution was not immediately felt. Copious legislation is not a feature of an infant state, and the condition of the

country was such that a strong government was far 'The the most pressing need. Henry was on the whole regents.

fortunate in those who represented him during his minority. The great Earl of Pembroke and Archbishop Langton steered the country through the most critical period, and with the help of Cardinal Gualo

CHAP.

1215-1232

got rid of the French, and conciliated, at least outwardly, most of their partisans. The influence of the legate, backed by the strength of the spiritual arm, was at this crisis most beneficial. It was unfortunate that gratitude to the papacy for the saving of his crown led Henry, in his devout subservience to Rome, to forget the interests of his country. The year 1219 saw a change for the worse. The Earl of Pembroke died, Cardinal Gualo was recalled, and the legate Pandulf took his place. Soon afterwards the struggle between Hubert de Hubert de Burgh, the justiciar, and Peter des Roches, Burgh. Bishop of Winchester, Henry's tutor, began. For a time Hubert, supported by the archbishop, was practically supreme. He ruled well and strongly, but his severity produced much ill-feeling. In 1222 he suppressed with no little cruelty disturbances that had arisen between the citizens of London and the Abbot of Westminster; the rebellion of Falkes de Breauté in 1224, which was countenanced by the Earl of Chester, the head of the opposition, was directed against, and to some extent excused by, his determined policy. The rebellion was put down, and with Tranit the troubles originated by John seemed to be over. restored.

quillity As a kind of seal to this happy consummation the Great Charter was again confirmed, in the final form spoken of above. Aided by the lull at home, by the fifteenth granted to the king, and by the confusion consequent on the death of Louis VIII, the English succeeded in regaining Gascony and Poitou, though the issue of the war, so much less favourable than it might have been, added but little to the reputation of the Government.

At this conjuncture the king, though not yet

CHAP.

I.

measures.

twenty years old, declared himself of age, and took

the government into his own hands (January 1227). 1215-1232 He dismissed the hated Peter des Roches and his The king declares following, but another of his first steps did not prohimself

mise well. He began his reign without the issue of a of age.

charter of liberties. The custom had been dropped, it is true, since the accession of Henry II, but it must

have been expected as a prudent measạre of reconUnpopular ciliation after the recent troubles. A further declara

tion, that all charters issued during the kings minority would require renewal, was thought at first to endanger the Great Charter and the Charter of Forests; but even if Henry, as is probable enough, thought of breaking loose from all restrictions, his action seems to have resolved itself into a mere threat.

We are told indeed that he actually cancelled the Forest Charter, as 'made and signed when he was not his own master, wherefore he was not bound to keep what he had been forced to promise.'' The proceeding, whatever it was, was calculated to alarm all lovers of liberty, and was a blunder in which it is hard to acquit de Burgh, with his innate tendency towards a strong government, of all share. It was naturally

attributed to him, and did not raise him in popular National estimation. The temper of the country was already discontent. disturbed, and many of the nobles alienated from the

Government. The papal exactions from England as a fief of the Church continued to be paid ; the number

Matt. Par. 336, 337. Gneist, l'erw. i. 300, quotes Matt. Par., as given by Parry, to the effect that the king cancelled both charters ; but Matt. Par, mentions only the Forest Charter, stating that the magnates under Richard demanded its restoration, though he does not say whether this took place. For a solution of the difficulty see Stubbs, Const. Hist. ii. 39.

I.

of foreigners promoted in the country was already be- CHAP. ginning to cause discontent; only the year before, the clergy, with the archbishop at their head, had refused 1215-1232 a demand from Honorius III for two prebends in every cathedral. The position was difficult, and required first of all things in the ruler a strong and steadfast policy. But that was not to be. Whatever Weakness had been the faults of her princes, England had not

of the king since the Conquest felt the want of a king with a will of his own; but this king was all his life the plaything of his favourites. It was a bad omen when, in July of this same year, an injustice done to his own brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall, for the sake of one of his creatures, produced a general rising of the great barons, with the Earl of Cornwall at their head, who with sword in hand compelled the king to make restitution of his brothers rights. It was not long before the other great cause of Growing

influence of dissatisfaction, the kings subservience to the Court of Rome. Rome, made itself felt. Gregory IX had been made pope the year Henry came of age, and the excommunication of the Emperor Frederick II, which soon followed, showed that the policy of Innocent III, a policy so disastrous to England, was to be resumed. Next year Stephen Langton died, and in him the staunchest bulwark of English freedom disappeared. The Pope kept up the precedent of his appointment by quashing the election of one of their own number by the monks of Canterbury, and choosing Richard le Grand, Chancellor of Lincoln, who was proposed by

Matt. Par. 337. Several 'names, conspicuous thirty years later, appear here : the Earls of Gloucester, Warenne, Hereford, Derby, Warwick, and others.

I.

1215-1232

actions,

СНАР. the bishops of the province'; a man of energy and

high principle, but without the broad views and com

manding ability of his predecessor. His firmness was Papal ex

soon put to the test. The Pope demanded a tenth of all moveables from laymen and clergy throughout England, to prosecute his war with the Emperor. After showing great reluctance the clergy yielded,

Henry having, it was said, consented through his opposed by proctors at Rome; but the laity obstinately refused, the laity. and the old Earl of Chester went so far as to forbid

any of the clergy in his County Palatine to pay the tax. The baronage was not inclined to pay for the quarrels of Rome, especially those with the Emperor, with whom negotiations had been entered into five years back, to end in his marriage with the kings sister six years later. The whole story throws a remarkable light on the position of the parties concerned: the use which the Curia made of English gold ; the subservience of the king; the reluctant concessions of the Church ; the opposition of the laity. It

was a mournful foreshadowing of the evil to come. Henry

Still Henry might have staved off much trouble quarrels

had he had the wisdom to cling to his faithful Hubert de minister. It was at the outset of the unfortunate Burgh. .

expedition to France that his fickleness and ungovernable temper led him into what seems to have been his first quarrel with Hubert de Burgh. Irritated, it appears, by the want of transport, the king, in one of those sudden bursts of passion which characterised him, called him 'a hoary traitor, who had betrayed

· The theory that the right of appointment to the archiepiscopal see rested with the pope was still more strongly illustrated in the choice of his successor, Edmund Rich, in 1234, after the rejection of three other candidates.

with

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