« PředchozíPokračovat »
of a scheme of militia, the division of the kingdom into circuits, to each of which itinerant judges were assigned, are attributable to his arrangements. And a memorial of his wisdom still exists in our present system of the judges' circuits, and in the constitution of the three Courts of Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer. It is to be lamented that a character so eminent should have been stained by the vice which has been alluded to.
In the time of Henry, the features of what is called the Norman style of architecture for churches began to be softened in progress towards a style generally named the Early English. The walls of churches were built slighter; the round arch gave way to, or was blended with, the pointed; and a greater height was given to the edifices. But the full results of this change were not yet apparent. Among the constructions, the dates of which are found in the latter half of the twelfth century, are the choir of Canterbury and the nave of Ely cathedrals. The nave of Lincoln cathedral was probably commenced soon after them by St. Hugh, its bishop, whose name is still retained in our English calendar.
RICHARD I. (CŒUR DE LION.)
Born at Oxford. Buried at Fontevrault. Reigned 10 years. From A.D. 1189 to A.D. 1199.
Archbishops of Canterbury.
Baldwin, A.D. 1184-1191.
Hubert, A.D. 1192-1205.
Reginald, A.D. 1191-1191.
(Vacancy one year)
RICHARD was surnamed Cœur de Lion, on account of his remarkable courage, and the rude magnanimity of his character. He showed deep feeling at the sight of his father's corpse, and dismissed the counsellors by whose evil advice he had been led into undutiful conduct.
The great renown of this king is derived from his share in the third crusade, which he undertook in A.D. 1190, in
concert with Philip Augustus, king of France, whose perfidious and selfish character was a striking contrast to the reckless hardihood and generous self-devotion of Richard.
The transactions of kingdoms, as well as the habits of social life, were much influenced at this time by the laws of chivalry; a system which, with much that was visionary and fantastic, called forth many noble and generous qualities of mind, and softened and elevated the rude manners of the time. Under this singular institution, the fiercest warriors 4 bound themselves to rescue all who were oppressed; to defend at any personal hazard the honour of the weaker sex; and to maintain the most unsullied faith and purity of Christian truth. Great kings were ambitious of being admitted by knighthood into the orders of chivalry; and the fame of Richard is due to him in his character of a peerless knight rather than as a great king. His prowess was such, that the Syrian mothers are said to have stilled their children by the terror of his name; if a horse suddenly started in the way, his rider was wont to exclaim, “Dost thou see King Richard in the bush?" and the Sultan Saladin, who was often defeated by him, paid the homage of a deep admiration to his high spirit and undaunted bearing. His victories were fruitless of any real or lasting good; and in his return from Palestine, this champion of Christendom was seized by Leopold, duke of Austria, whom he had offended, and cast into prison: nor did his subjects know the fate of their sovereign till the place of his captivity was discovered by a minstrel named Blondel, who had been in Richard's service. It is said that Blondel wandered through all Germany to find the place where his master was confined; and when he came to any castle, he sung a melody which was known to Richard, who (he thought) would make himself known by singing the same song in return, if he heard it in his prison. In this way the place where he was confined was found out. A vast ransom was demanded for the king, and was raised by his subjects with great alacrity. His return struck his enemies with dismay, and especially his brother John, who had basely taken advantage of his absence to raise a party for himself. The generous king was easily reconciled to his brother; and in the later years of his reign he gained many victories over his old enemy, Philip of France. He was shot by an arrow
in one of his wars, before the castle of Chaluz; and when the archer who had shot it was brought into his presence, the king demanded what injury he had done him that he should take away his life? The man replied, that his father and brothers had been slain by Richard's hand, and that he would willingly die to rid the world of one who had caused so much bloodshed. Richard was so struck with this answer, that he commanded the man's life should be spared. He died from the unskilful treatment of his wound, A.D. 1199, having made a will in favour of his brother John, and to the prejudice of his nephew Arthur, the rightful heir to the crown, as the son of John's elder brother Geoffrey.
Born at Woodstock. Buried at Worcester. Reigned 17 years. From A.D. 1199 to A.D. 1216.
THE odious and despicable character of John was not likely to reconcile his nobles to the irregularity of his title; but they seem to have felt that that defect gave them advantage, in struggling with their sovereign for the privileges of their own order. The cause of Arthur was, therefore, left to such support as it might receive from Philip Augustus, by whose aid it prospered for a time on the continent. At length the youthful prince was taken in battle, and is believed either to have been stabbed by the hand of his uncle, or to have been put to death by his order in the castle of Rouen. Philip well knew how to avail himself of the horror excited by this deed; and succeeded in compelling John to abandon Normandy, which was reunited to the French crown.
A dispute now arose between John and the monks of Canterbury about the election of an archbishop, which led in the first instance to the deep humiliation of the king, but
finally to his concession of the Great Charter of English freedom. The settlement of this dispute was taken by the Pope (Innocent III.) into his own hands, and he appointed Stephen Langton to the vacant see. This archbishop, though he was thus thrust upon the Church of England by an unwarrantable assumption of power on the part of the bishop of a foreign Church (the Pope), yet in the end was a blessing to his country. He was ever one of the foremost in withstanding the tyranny of John in the State, and the aggressions of the Pope on the Church of England. He was also a man of no inconsiderable learning and attainments. Had John' resisted his appointment by legal means, he might possibly have been supported by his subjects, who suspected Langton's title, and were not yet aware of his character; but the violent measures which he took only gave advantage to the Pope, who laid the kingdom under an interdict, pronounced the deposition of John, and desired Philip to take possession of England. The king of France prepared an armament to execute this sentence, and Cardinal Pandulf was sent over apparently to support that monarch, but with secret instructions to receive the submission, which John in his abject terror was ready to make. To his lasting shame, in the midst of a vast concourse of people at Dover, he laid his crown at the feet of Pandulf, who kept it five days, and trampled under foot the tribute-money which John paid in token of fealty to the haughty legate. The French king was now ordered to give up his enterprise, but he resolved to persist. His fleet, however, was attacked by the English, and almost wholly destroyed.
By thus declaring himself a vassal of Rome, John secured the protection of the Pope in the contests with his barons, in which his continued perfidy and rapacity involved him. The cause of English freedom, on the other hand, found, as we have said, a champion in the archbishop, whose support of the barons in their struggle against the odious tyrant, drew on him the anger of Pope Innocent, by whom he was after a time suspended, nor was he restored till the following reign.
The barons, having raised a great army, and made themselves masters of London, forced the king to submit to their demands. He met them on Runnamede, between Staines
and Windsor, and the Great Charter of English freedom, called Magna Charta, was sealed at that spot (A.D. 1215). By this charter the rights enjoyed by the prelates and barons in Saxon times were confirmed. Its principal articles were, that no tax should be levied without the consent of the national council, except for the ransom of the king, if taken prisoner, or on the knighthood of his eldest son, or the marriage of his eldest daughter. No freeman was to suffer but by the judgment of his peers. The abuses of the feudal law in the wardship and marriage of heirs under age were to be remedied, and the extortions practised by the royal foresters were to be done away with.
The faithless king at once set himself to recover the independence which he considered himself to have lost by this charter. He retired to the Isle of Wight, until he had raised an army of foreign mercenaries, with which he committed such ravages, that the barons invited over Prince Louis of France, who was connected with the royal house by his marriage with Blanch of Castile, John's niece, and did homage to him at London as their sovereign. The arrogance of this prince, and his partiality to his own countrymen were very favourable to the cause of John; who was beginning to recover his ground, when he lost his treasure and great part of his forces by a flood, as he was crossing the marshes in Lincolnshire. Sickening of a fever, occasioned by grief for this loss, he died at Newark, A.D. 1216, when the kingdom was in a most distracted state, and leaving behind him the memory of one of the weakest and most wicked princes that ever sat on a throne.
It was in this reign that the warriors of the fourth crusade, on their way to the Holy Land, took Constantinople, and established for more than fifty years, from A.D. 1204 to A.D. 1261, a Latin dynasty of the Greek empire in the families of Flanders and Courtenay. A sort of crusade, not one of those properly so called, was also sanctioned about the same time against the Albigenses in the south of France, on the ground of their religious opinions. It may be that those opinions were not free from errors; but they are remarkable as an early protest against the corruptions of practice and doctrine in the Church of Rome, which were now at their height.