Obrázky stránek

retaining his Norman dukedom, and on condition that if either prince should die without issue, the survivor should succeed to his dominions.

The fate of Robert is the greatest stain on Henry's memory. Easily finding a pretext for invading Normandy, Henry gained (after sundry transactions) a great battle at Tenchebrai, in which Robert was taken prisoner, with many other nobles, A.D. 1117. Being brought to England, he was confined for the remainder of his life, which lasted twenty-eight years, in Cardiff castle; a warning that many noble qualities will not make up for that indolence which was his ruin, and which he carried to such excess, that he lay in bed whole days for want of clothes, of which he suffered his servants to plunder him.

Henry thus became master of Normandy; but the revolts in favour of William, the son of Robert, (a gallant prince, who at length was slain before Alost, in the Netherlands,) gave him unceasing trouble; and in crossing on one occasion from Normandy, he was overtaken by a storm, in which William, his only legitimate son, was lost. The crew of the ship in which Prince William had embarked were drunken and riotous, and steered the vessel on a rock. The prince and some others got into a little boat; but, hearing the cries of his sister, who was left in the wreck, he gave orders to return, that he might take her in. So many got into the boat with her, that it sunk under the weight, and all on board perished. One man, who clung to the mast of the ship, was saved by some fishermen the next day. The captain had clung to the mast in the same way; but when he found that the prince was drowned, he let go his hold, and so shared the fate of his young master. This affliction must have made Henry feel some of that anguish which he had caused to his brother, but we do not hear that the severity with which that prince was treated was at all mitigated. The king now took every means to secure the succession for his daughter Matilda, generally termed the Empress Maud, who had been married to the Emperor Henry V., and after his death to Geoffrey, count of Anjou, called Plantagenet from the sprig of broom (genista) which he wore. As this princess was descended by her mother from the Saxon kings, the prospect of her succession was welcome to the English.

At this time, a contest was going on between the popes and the kings of Europe, involving the right to appoint bishops to their sacred offices. The mode of appointing a prelate was this. After being elected by the canons of his cathedral, he was invested, though this ceremony is by no means an essential to his appointment, with a ring and crosier, and did homage to the king, who thus had virtually the power of appointment, since he could refuse the investiture as well as the homage. The power of appointing to a spiritual office was declared by the Pope to be such as no layman ought to possess. The spiritual part of the episcopal character, i. e. the power to ordain priests and deacons, to consecrate Bishops, to confirm, and perform other functions connected with the souls of men (it was truly said), could be derived only by succession from the Apostles themselves. It was also held in that day, that, besides "the laying on of hands," the investiture was an essential to such an appointment, and as such could not be received from a layman. This great question was settled more happily in England than elsewhere, though not without the exercise of great firmness on the part of St. Anselm. It was agreed that the bishop should do homage for his temporal possessions, as for a barony; but the king resigned his claim to invest him with the ring and crosier; to "laying on of hands" he had never pretended.

Henry passed the latter part of his life much in Normandy, especially after the birth of his daughter's children. He died in that country of an illness occasioned by eating lampreys, A.D. 1135.

Under Henry's government the state of England was unusually tranquil, and great exertions were made by Anselm and his friend Eadmer, abbot of Glastonbury, an annalist of the period, for the revival of learning. William of Malmesbury also, and the authors of a work called "The Saxon Chronicle," are specimens of the literature of this and the succeeding reign. Church building continued to make progress, as is attested by the fact that a great part of Peterborough Cathedral, then only an abbey church, and part of Norwich Cathedral, are attributable to this date;stained glass for the decoration of windows is said to have been now introduced.



Born at Blois. Buried at Feversham, in Kent. Reigned 19 years. From A.D. 1135 to A.D. 1154.

Archbishops of Canterbury.

William of Corboil, A.D. 1122-1136. | Theobald, A.D. 1138—1161. (Vacancy two years.)

THE sceptre which Henry had gained with so much crime, was wrested from his daughter by Stephen, a grandson of the Conqueror by Adela, who married Stephen, count of Blois. Having prevailed on William of Corboil, archbishop of Canterbury, to crown him, (contrary to the allegiance which they had both sworn to Maud,) he tried to strengthen his usurped authority by various concessions, of which none took real effect but the dangerous permission to his nobles to build castles at their will. Twelve hundred are said to have been built during this reign. His reign was little but a continued war with the empress, whose cause was most ably maintained by her natural brother Robert, earl of Gloucester, and also by David I., her uncle, the king of Scots. The invasion of that prince, however, roused the spirit of the northern nobles, especially of Thurstan, archbishop of York, a prelate of great courage, as well as piety and munificence; and it was greatly through his influence that an army was raised, which defeated the Scottish king in a battle at Northallerton, in Yorkshire, called the battle of the Standard, A.D. 1138.

Maud soon landed in Sussex, and was received in Arundel Castle by Adelais, the second wife of Henry I., now married to William de Albeney, earl of Sussex. In the various chances of this war, which desolated the kingdom from one end to the other, Stephen was at one time taken prisoner in a battle at Lincoln, and treated with great indignity by Maud, who caused herself to be crowned, and prevailed even on Stephen's brother, the bishop of Winchester, to abandon him. Her haughtiness soon disgusted that prelate, and she was herself compelled to flee before

the nobles, who revolted in Stephen's favour. The earl of Gloucester having been taken in a battle near Winchester, A.D. 1141, was exchanged for Stephen; and it was now the empress's turn to be often in great danger. On one occasion she escaped her foes by being shut up in a coffin. On another, she fled by night from the Castle of Oxford, attended by four knights, in white dresses, that they might not be distinguished from the snow which was on the ground. The death of Eustace, the son of Stephen, removed one obstacle in the way of an agreement; and at length, by the mediation of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, a treaty was concluded, by which Stephen was to be king during his life, and the crown to devolve on Henry, the empress's son, to whom the nobles did homage as heir-apparent.

The influence of Rome was now making great strides in England. William of Corboil had given a fatal blow to our Church's independence of foreign interference, by consenting to act as the pope's legate or deputy, rather than by his own authority as the Primate, that is, the first Bishop of England. One effect of this was to make persons think that the clergy and the religious bodies only were the Church, and that it was a power to which they might look for shelter from the lawlessness of the barons, who reigned as petty princes in their castles. Such shelter they obtained-but they obtained it by a sacrifice of the true idea of the Church, of which we shall speak in the next reign. The readiness with which men of all parties forgot the sanctity of oaths, is no less a mark of this dismal period than the cruelty of the nobles. The king himself was not destitute of such qualities as engaged the affections of his followers, but by his own perjury in usurping the throne he set an example which men were too apt to copy. He died A.D. 1154; and was succeeded by prince Henry.

The Hospital of St. Cross, near Winchester, and the Monastery of Feversham, in Kent, were founded by Stephen. In this latter place he and his queen, Matilda, who was niece to the empress Maud, were buried.



Born in Anjou. Buried in the Abbey of Fontevrault. Reigned From A.D. 1154 to A.D. 1189.

35 years.

Theobald, A.D. 133–1161.

Archbishops of Canterbury.

(Vacancy more than a year.)

Richard, A.D. 1172-1184.

́Thomas à Becket, A.D. 1162-1170. Baldwin, A.D. 1184—1191. (Vacancy two years.)

WITH the name of Plantagenet, Henry brought a vast accession of territory to the English crown. From his father he inherited Anjou; and Normandy had been given up to him by his mother. He possessed the provinces of France from the Loire to the Pyrenees, in right of Eleanor, whom he married after she was divorced from Louis VII., the king of France. In the course of his reign he acquired Bretagne, by the marriage of Geoffrey, one of his younger sons, with Constance the heiress of that duchy. It may be doubted whether these foreign provinces added to the real greatness of England. They were the source of endless wars with France, both in the time of Henry and in the reigns of his successors for many generations.

What was dearer to the English than these foreign possessions, was the knowledge that in Henry they had for their sovereign a descendant of the Saxon kings: and he showed himself no unworthy descendant of them, not only by his many conquests, but by doing much to revive the Saxon customs, which were so favourable to English liberty. He began by taming the pride of the nobles, whom he forced to pull down or deliver up their castles, and recalled the grants made by Stephen. He also disbanded the foreign soldiers hired by that king, and gave charters to many towns. He then set himself to lessen the power of the clergy, who now claimed a complete independence of the civil courts, and who would allow no causes that concerned their own order to be tried in any but the ecclesiastical courts; by which such trifling punishments were awarded

« PředchozíPokračovat »