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The History of England From the Norman Conquest to the Death of John
The Struggle For Power
by Adams, George Burton


In the hunting party which William Rufus led out on August 2, 1100, to his mysterious death in the New Forest, was the king's younger brother, Henry. When the cry rang through the Forest that the king was dead, Henry seized the instant with the quick insight and strong decision which were marked elements of his genius. He rode at once for Winchester. We do not even know that he delayed long enough to make sure of the news by going to the spot where his brother's body lay. He rode at full speed to Winchester, and demanded the keys of the royal treasury, "as true heir," says Ordesic Vitalis, one of the best historians of Henry's reign, recording rather, it is probable, his own opinion than the words of the prince. Men's ideas were still so vague, not yet fixed and precise as later, on the subject of rightful heirship, that such a demand as Henry's--a clear usurpation according to the law as it was finally to be--could find some ground on which to justify itself; at least this, which his historian suggests and which still meant much to English minds, that he was born in the purple, the son of a crowned king.

But not every one was ready to admit the claim of Henry. Between him and the door of the treasury William of Breteuil, who also had been of the hunting party and who was the responsible keeper of the hoard, took his stand. Against the demand of Henry he set the claim of Robert, the better claim according even to the law of that day, though the law which he urged was less that which would protect the right of the eldest born than the feudal law regarding homage done and fealty sworn. "If we are going to act legally," he said to Henry, "we ought to remember the fealty which we have promised to Duke Robert, your brother. He is, too, the eldest born son of King William, and you and I, my Lord Henry, have done him homage. We ought to keep faith to him absent in all respects as if he were present." He followed his law by an appeal to feeling, referring to Robert's crusade. "He has been labouring now a long time in the service of God, and God has restored to him, without conflict, his duchy, which as a pilgrim he laid aside for love of Him." Then a strife arose, and a crowd of men ran together to the spot. We can imagine they were not merely men of the city, but also many of the king's train who must have ridden after Henry from the Forest. Whoever they were, they supported Henry, for we are told that as the crowd collected the courage of the "heir who was demanding his right" increased. Henry drew his sword and declared he would permit no "frivolous delay." His insistence and the support of his friends prevailed, and castle and treasury were turned over to him.16

This it was which really determined who should be king. Not that the question was fully settled then, but the popular determination which showed itself in the crowd that gathered around the disputants in Winchester probably showed itself, in the days that followed, to be the determination of England in general, and thus held in check those who would have supported Robert, while Henry rapidly pushed events to a conclusion and so became king. There is some evidence that, after the burial of William, further discussion took place among the barons who were present, as to whether they would support Henry or not, and that this was decided in his favour largely by the influence of Henry of Beaumont, Earl of Warwick, son of his father's friend and counsellor, the Count of Meulan. But we ought not to allow the use of the word witan in this connexion, by the Saxon chronicler, or of "election" by other historians or by Henry himself, to impose upon us the belief in a constitutional right of election in the modern sense, which could no more have existed at that time than a definite law of inheritance. In every case of disputed succession the question was, whether that one of the claimants who was on the spot could secure quickly enough a degree of support which would enable him to hold the opposition in check until he became a crowned king. A certain amount of such support was indispensable to success. Henry secured this in one way, Stephen in another, and John again in a third. In each case, the actual events show clearly that a small number of men determined the result, not by exercising a constitutional right of which they were conscious, but by deciding for themselves which one of the claimants they would individually support. Some were led by one motive, and some by another. In Henry's case we cannot doubt that the current of feeling which had shown itself in Winchester on the evening of the king's death had a decisive influence on the result, at least as decisive as the early stand of London was afterwards in Stephen's case.

Immediately, before leaving Winchester, Henry performed one royal act of great importance to his cause, and skilfully chosen as a declaration of principles. He appointed William Giffard, who had been his brother's chancellor, Bishop of Winchester. This see had been vacant for nearly three years and subject to the dealings of Ranulf Flambard. The immediate appointment of a bishop was equivalent to a proclamation that these dealings should now cease, that bishoprics should no longer be kept vacant for the benefit of the king, and it was addressed to the Church, the party directly interested and one of the most powerful influences in the state in deciding the question of succession. The speed with which Henry's coronation was carried through shows that the Church accepted his assurances.

There was no delay in Winchester. William was killed on the afternoon of Thursday, August 2; on Sunday, Henry was crowned in Westminster, by Maurice, Bishop of London. Unhesitating determination and rapid action must have filled the interval. Only a small part of England could have learned of William's death when Henry was crowned, and he must have known at the moment that the risk of failure was still great. But everything indicates that Henry had in mind a clearly formed policy which he believed would lead to success, and he was not the man to be afraid of failure. The Archbishop of Canterbury was still in exile; the Archbishop of York was far away and ill; the Bishop of London readily performed the ceremony, which followed the old ritual. In the coronation oath of the old Saxon formula, Henry swore, with more intention of remembering it than many kings, that the Church of God and all Christian people he would keep in true peace, that he would forbid violence and iniquity to all men, and that in all judgments he would enjoin both justice and mercy.

The man who thus came to the throne of England was one of her ablest kings. We know far less of the details of his reign than we could wish. Particularly scanty is our evidence of the growth in institutions which went on during these thirty-five years, and which would be of especial value in illustrating the character and abilities of the king. But we know enough to warrant us in placing Henry beyond question in the not long list of statesmen kings. Not without some trace of the passions which raged in the blood of the Norman and Angevin princes, he exceeded them all in the strength of his self-control. This is the one most marked trait which constantly recurs throughout the events of his long reign. Always calm, we are sometimes tempted to say even cold, he never lost command of himself in the most trying circumstances. Perfectly clear-headed, he saw plainly the end to be reached from the distant beginning, and the way to reach it, and though he would turn aside from the direct road for policy's sake, he reached the goal in time. He knew how to wait, to allow circumstances to work for him, to let men work out their own destruction, but he was quick to act when the moment for action came. Less of a military genius than his father, he was a greater diplomatist. And yet perhaps we call him less of a military genius than his father because he disliked war and gave himself no opportunities which he could avoid; but he was a skilful tactician when he was forced to fight a battle. But diplomacy was his chosen weapon, and by its means he won battles which most kings would have sought to win by the sword. With justice William of Malmesbury applied to him the words of Scipio Africanus: "My mother brought me forth a general, not a mere soldier."

These were the gifts of nature. But when he came to the throne, he was a man already disciplined in a severe school. Ever since the death of his father, thirteen years before, when he was not yet twenty, the events which had befallen him, the opportunities which had come to him, the inferences which he could not have failed to make from the methods of his brothers, had been training him for the business of his life. It was not as a novice, but as a man experienced in government, that he began to reign. And government was to him a business. It is clear that Henry had always far less delight in the ordinary or possible glories of the kingship than in the business of managing well a great state; and a name by which he has been called, "The Lion of Justice," records a judgment of his success. Physically Henry followed the type of his house. He was short and thick-set, with a tendency to corpulence. He was not "the Red"; the mass of his black hair and his eyes clear and serene struck the observer. Naturally of a pleasant disposition and agreeable to those about him, he was quick to see the humorous side of things and carried easily the great weight of business which fell to him. He was called "Beauclerc," but he was never so commonly known by this name as William by his of "Rufus." But he had, it would seem with some justice, the reputation of being a learned king. Some doubtful evidence has been interpreted to mean that he could both speak and read English. Certainly he cherished a love of books and reading remarkable, at that time, in a man of the world, and he seems to have deserved his reputation of a ready, and even eloquent, speaker.

It was no doubt partly due to Henry's love of business that we may date from his reign the beginning of a growth in institutions after the Conquest. The machinery of good government interested him. Efforts to improve it had his support. The men who had in hand its daily working in curia regis and exchequer and chancery were certain of his favour, when they strove to devise better ways of doing things and more efficient means of controlling subordinates. But the reign was also one of advance in institutions because England was ready for it. In the thirty-five years since the Conquest, the nation which was forming in the island had passed through two preparatory experiences. In the first the Norman, with his institutions, had been introduced violently and artificially, and planted alongside of the native English. It had been the policy of the Conqueror to preserve as much as possible of the old while introducing the new. This was the wisest possible policy, but it could produce as yet no real union. That could only be the work of time. A new nation and a new constitution were foreshadowed but not yet realized. The elements from which they should be made had been brought into the presence of each other, but not more than this was possible. Then followed the reign of William II. In this second period England had had an experience of one side, of the Norman side, carried to the extreme. The principles of feudalism in favour of the suzerain were logically carried out for the benefit of the king, and relentlessly applied to the Church as to the lay society. That portion of the old English machinery which the Conqueror had preserved fell into disorder, and was misused for royal, and worse still, for private advantage. This second period had brought a vivid experience of the abuses which would result from the exaggeration of one of the elements of which the new state was to be composed at the expense of the other. One of its most important results was the reaction which seems instantly to have shown itself on the death of William Rufus, the reaction of which Henry was quick to avail himself, and which gives us the key to an understanding of his reign.

It is not possible to cite evidence from which we may infer beyond the chance of question, either a popular reaction against the tyranny of William Rufus, or a deliberate policy on the part of the new king to make his hold upon the throne secure by taking advantage of such a reaction. It is perhaps the duty of the careful historian to state his belief in these facts, in less dogmatic form. And yet, when we combine together the few indications which the chroniclers give us with the actual events of the first two years of Henry's reign, it is hardly possible to avoid such a conclusion. Henry seems certainly to have believed that he had much to gain by pledging himself in the most binding way to correct the abuses which his brother had introduced, and also that he could safely trust his cause to an English, or rather to a national, party against the element in the state which seemed unassimilable, the purely Norman element.

On the day of his coronation, or at least within a few days of that event, Henry issued, in form of a charter,--that is, in the form of a legally binding royal grant,--his promise to undo his brother's misdeeds; and a copy of this charter, separately addressed, was sent to every county in England. Considered both in itself as issued in the year 1100, and in its historical consequences, this charter is one of the most important of historical documents. It opens a long list of similar constitutional documents which very possibly is not yet complete, and it is in form and spirit worthy of the best of its descendants. Considering the generally unformulated character of feudal law at this date, it is neither vague nor general. It is to be noticed also, that the practical character of the Anglo-Saxon race rules in this first charter of its liberties. It is as business-like and clean cut as the Bill of Rights, or as the American Declaration of Independence when this last gets to the business in hand.

The charter opens with an announcement of Henry's coronation. In true medieval order of precedence, it promises first to the Church freedom from unjust exactions. The temporalities of the Church shall not be sold nor put to farm, nor shall anything be taken from its domain land nor from its men during a vacancy. Then follows a promise to do away with all evil customs, and a statement that these in part will be enumerated. Thus by direct statement here and elsewhere in the charter, its provisions are immediately connected with the abuses which William II had introduced, and the charter made a formal pledge to do away with them. The first promises to the lay barons have to do with extortionate reliefs and the abuse of the rights of wardship and marriage. The provision inserted in both these cases, that the barons themselves shall be bound by the same limitations in regard to their men, leads us to infer that William's abuses had been copied by his barons, and suggests that Henry was looking for the support of the lower ranks of the feudal order. Other promises concern the coinage, fines, and debts due the late king, the right to dispose by will of personal property, excessive fines, and the punishment of murder. The forests Henry announces he will hold as his father held them. To knights freedom of taxation is promised in the domain lands proper of the estates which they hold by military service. The law of King Edward is to be restored with those changes which the Conqueror had made, and finally any property of the crown or of any individual which has been seized upon since the death of William is to be restored under threat of heavy penalty.

So completely does this charter cover the ground of probable abuses in both general and local government, when its provisions are interpreted as they would be understood by the men to whom it was addressed, that it is not strange if men thought that all evils of government were at an end. Nor is it strange in turn, that Henry was in truth more severe upon the tyranny of his brother while he was yet uncertain of his hold upon the crown, than in the practice of his later years. As a matter of fact, not all the promises of the charter were kept. England suffered much from heavy financial exactions during his reign, and the feudal abuses which had weighed most heavily on lay and ecclesiastical barons reappeared in their essential features. They became, in fact, recognized rights of the crown. Henry was too strong to be forced to keep such promises as he chose to forget, and it was reserved for a later descendant of his, weaker both in character and in might of hand, to renew his charter at a time when the more exact conception, both of rights and of abuses, which had developed in the interval, enabled men not merely to enlarge its provisions but to make them in some particulars the foundation of a new type of government. Events rapidly followed the issue of the charter which were equally emphatic declarations of Henry's purpose of reform, and some of which at least would seem like steps in actual fulfilment of the promises of the charter. Ranulf Flambard was arrested and thrown into the Tower; on what charge or under what pretence of right we do not know, but even if by some exercise of arbitrary power, it must have been a very popular act. Several important abbacies which had been held vacant were at once filled. Most important of all, a letter was despatched to Archbishop Anselm, making excuses for the coronation of the king in his absence, and requesting his immediate return to England. Anselm was at the abbey of La Chaise Dieu, having just come from Lyons, where he had spent a large part of his exile, when the news came to him of the death of his royal adversary. He at once started for England, and was on his way when he was met at Cluny by Henry's letter. Landing on September 23, he went almost immediately to the king, who was at Salisbury. There two questions of great importance at once arose, in one of which Anselm was able to assist Henry, while the other gave rise to long-continued differences between them.

The question most easily settled was that of Henry's marriage. According to the historians of his reign, affection led Henry to a marriage which was certainly most directly in line with the policy which he was carrying out. Soon after his coronation, he proposed to marry Edith, daughter of Malcolm, king of Scotland, and of Margaret, sister of the atheling Edgar. She had spent almost the whole of her life in English monasteries, a good part of it at Romsey, where her aunt Christina was abbess. Immediately the question was raised, whether she had not herself taken the veil, which she was known to have worn, and therefore whether the marriage was possible. This was the question now referred to Anselm, and he made a most careful examination of the case, and decision was finally pronounced in a council of the English Church. The testimony of the young woman herself was admitted and was conclusive against any binding vow. She had been forced by her aunt to wear the veil against her will as a means of protection in those turbulent times, but she had always rejected it with indignation when she had been able to do so, nor had it been her father's intention that she should be a nun. Independent testimony confirmed her assertion, and it was formally declared that she was free to marry. The marriage took place on November 11, and was celebrated by Anselm, who also crowned the new queen under the Norman name of Matilda, which she assumed.

No act which Henry could perform would be more pleasing to the nation as a whole than this marriage, or would seem to them clearer proof of his intention to rule in the interest of the whole nation and not of himself alone, or of the small body of foreign oppressors. It would seem like the expression of a wish on Henry's part to unite his line with that of the old English kings, and to reign as their representative as well as his father's, and it was so understood, both by the party opposed to Henry and by his own supporters. Whatever we may think of the dying prophecy attributed to Edward the Confessor, that the troubles which he foresaw for England should end when the green tree--the English dynasty--cut off from its root and removed for the space of three acres' breadth--three foreign reigns--should without human help be joined to it again and bring forth leaves and fruit, the fact that it was thought, in Henry's reign, to have been fulfilled by his marriage with Matilda and by the birth of their children, shows plainly enough the general feeling regarding the marriage and that for which it stood. The Norman sneer, in which the king and his wife are referred to as Godric and Godgifu, is as plain an indication of the feeling of that party. Such a taunt as this could not have been called out by the mere marriage, and would never have been spoken if the policy of the king, in spite of the marriage, had been one in sympathy with the wishes of the extreme Norman element.

But if it was Henry's policy to win the support of the nation as a whole, and to make it clear that he intended to undo the abuses of his brother, he had no intention of abandoning any of the real rights of the crown. The second question which arose on the first meeting of Anselm and Henry involved a point of this kind. The temporalities of the Archbishop of Canterbury were still in the king's hands, as seized by William Rufus on Anselm's departure. Henry demanded that Anselm should do homage for this fief, as would any baron of the king, and receive it from his hand. To the astonishment of every one, Anselm flatly refused. In answer to inquiries, he explained the position of the pope on the subject of lay investiture, declared that he must stand by that position, and that if Henry also would not obey the pope, he must leave England again. Here was a sharp issue, drawn with the greatest definiteness, and one which it was very difficult for the king to meet. He could not possibly afford to renew the quarrel with Anselm and to drive him into exile again at this moment, but it was equally impossible for him to abandon this right of the crown, so long unquestioned and one on which so much of the state organization rested. He proposed a truce until Easter, that the question might be referred to the pope, in the hope that he would consent to modify his decrees in view of the customary usages of the kingdom, and agreeing that the archbishop should, in the meantime, enjoy the revenues of his see. To this delay Anselm consented, though he declared that it would be useless.

According to the archbishop's devoted friend and biographer, Eadmer, who was in attendance on him at this meeting at Salisbury, Anselm virtually admitted that this was a new position for him to take. He had learned these things at Rome, was the explanation which was given; and this was certainly true, though his stay at Lyons, under the influence of his friend, Archbishop Hugh, a strong partisan of the papal cause, was equally decisive in his change of views.17 He had accepted investiture originally from the hand of William Rufus without scruple; he had never objected to it with regard to any of that king's later appointments. In the controversy which followed with Henry, there is nothing which shows that his own conscience was in the least degree involved in the question. He opposed the king with his usual unyielding determination, not because he believed himself that lay investiture was a sin, but because pope and council had decided against it, and it was his duty to maintain their decision.

This was a new position for Anselm to take; it was also raising a new question in the government of England. For more than a quarter of a century the papacy had been fighting this battle against lay investiture with all the weapons at its disposal, against its nearest rival, the emperor, and with less of open conflict and more of immediate success in most of the other lands of Europe. But in the dominions of the Norman princes the question had never become a living issue. This was not because the papacy had failed to demand the authority there which it was striving to secure elsewhere. Gregory VII had laid claim to an even more complete authority over England than this. But these demands had met with no success. Even as regards the more subordinate features of the Hildebrandine reformation, simony and the celibacy of the clergy, the response of the Norman and English churches to the demand for reformation had been incomplete and half-hearted, and not even the beginning of a papal party had shown itself in either country. This exceptional position is to be accounted for by the great strength of the crown, and also by the fact that the sovereign in his dealings with the Church was following in both states the policy marked out by a long tradition. Something must also be attributed, and probably in Normandy as well as in England, to the clearness with which Lanfranc perceived the double position of the bishop in the feudal state. The Church was an important part of the machinery of government, and as such its officers were appointed by the king, and held accountable to him for a large part at least of their official action. This was the theory of the Norman state, and this theory had been up to this time unquestioned. It is hardly too much to call the Norman and English churches, from the coronation of William I on to this time, practically independent national churches, with some relationship to the pope, but with one so external in its character that no serious inconvenience would have been experienced in their own government had some sudden catastrophe swept the papacy out of existence.

It was, however, in truth impossible for England to keep itself free from the issue which had been raised by the war upon lay investiture. The real question involved in this controversy was one far deeper than the question of the appointment of bishops by the sovereign of the state. That was a point of detail, a means to the end; very important and essential as a means, but not the end itself. Slowly through centuries of time the Church had become conscious of itself. Accumulated precedents of the successful exercise of power, observation of the might of organization, and equally instructive experience of the weakness of disorganization and of the danger of self-seeking, personal or political, in the head of the Christian world, had brought the thinking party in the Church to understand the dominant position which it might hold in the world if it could be controlled as a single organization and animated by a single purpose. It was the vision of the imperial Church, free from all distracting influence of family or of state, closely bound together into one organic whole, an independent, world-embracing power: more than this even, a power above all other powers, the representative of God, on earth, to which all temporal sovereigns should be held accountable.

That the Church failed to gain the whole of that for which it strove was not the fault of its leaders. A large part of the history of the world in the eleventh and twelfth centuries is filled with the struggle to create, in ideal completeness, this imperial Church. The reformation of Cluny had this for its ultimate object. From the beginning made by that movement, the political genius of Hildebrand sketched the finished structure and pointed out the means to be employed in its completion. That the emperor was first and most fiercely attacked was not due to the fact that he was a sinner above all others in the matter of lay investiture or simony. It was the most urgent necessity of the case that the papacy should make itself independent of that power which in the past had exercised the most direct sovereignty over the popes, and before the conflict should end be able to take its seat beside the empire as an equal, or even a superior, world power. But if the empire must be first overcome, no state could be left out of this plan, and in England as elsewhere the issue must sooner or later be joined.

It must not be understood that mere ambition was at the bottom of this effort of the Church. Of ambition in the ordinary sense it is more than probable that no leader of this movement was conscious. The cause of the Church was the cause of God and of righteousness. The spiritual power ought justly to be superior to the temporal, because the spiritual interests of men so far outweigh their temporal. If the spiritual power is supreme, and holds in check the temporal, and calls the sovereign to account for his wrong-doing, the way of salvation will be easier for all men, and the cause of righteousness promoted. If this kind of a Church is to be organized, and this power established in the world, it is essential that so important an officer in the system as the bishop should be chosen by the Church alone, and with reference alone to the spiritual interests which he is to guard, and the spiritual duties he must perform. Selection by the state, accountability to the state, would make too serious a flaw in the practical operation of this system to be permitted. The argument of the Church against the practice of lay investiture was entirely sound.

On the other hand, the argument of the feudal state was not less sound. It is difficult for us to get a clear mental picture of the organization of the feudal state, because the institutions of that state have left few traces in modern forms of government. The complete transformation of the feudal baronage into a modern nobility, and the rise on the ruins of the feudal state of clearly defined, legislative, judicial, and administrative systems have obscured the line of direct descent. But the feudal baron was very different from a modern noble, and there was no bureaucracy and no civil service in the feudal state beyond their mere beginnings in the personal servants of the king. No function of government was the professional business of any one, but legislative, judicial, administrative, financial, and military operations were all incidental to something else. This may not seem true of the sheriff; but that he had escaped transformation, after the feudalization of England, into something more than an administrative officer makes the Norman state somewhat exceptional at that time, and the history of this office, even under the most powerful of kings, shows the strength of the tendency toward development in the direction of a private possession. Even while remaining administrative, the office was known to the Normans by a name which to some extent in their own home, and generally elsewhere, had come to be an hereditary feudal title,--the viscount. In this system of government, the baron was the most essential feature. Every kind of government business was performed in the main through him, and as incidental to his position as a baron. The assembly of the barons, the curia regis, whether the great assembly of all the barons of the kingdom, meeting on occasions by special summons, or the smaller assembly in constant attendance on the king, was the primitive and undifferentiated machine by which government was carried on. If the baronage was faithful to the crown, or if the crown held the baronage under a strong control, the realm enjoyed good government and the nation bore with comparatively little suffering the burdens which were always heavy. If the baronage was out of control, government fell to pieces, and anarchy and oppression took its place.

In this feudal state, however, a bishop was a baron. The lands which formed the endowment of his office--and in those days endowment could take no other form--constituted a barony. The necessity of a large income and the generosity of the faithful made of his endowment a great fief. It is important to realize how impossible any other conception than this was to the political half of the world. In public position, influence upon affairs, wealth, and popular estimation, the bishop stood in the same class with the baron. The manors which were set aside from the general property of the Church to furnish his official income would, in many cases, provide for an earldom. In fitness to perform the manifold functions of government which fell to him, the bishop far exceeded the ordinary baron. The state could not regard him as other than a baron; it certainly could not dispense with his assistance. It was a matter of vital importance to the king to be able to determine what kind of men should hold these great fiefs and occupy these influential positions in the state, and to be able to hold them to strict accountability. The argument of the state in favour of lay investiture was as sound as the argument of the Church against it.

Here was a conflict of interests in which no real compromise was possible. Incidental features of the conflict might be found upon which the form of a compromise could be arranged. But upon the one essential point, the right of selecting the man, one or the other of the parties whose interests were involved must give way. It is not strange that in the main, except where the temporary or permanent weakness of the sovereign made an exception, that interest which seemed to the general run of men of most immediate and pressing importance gained the day, and the spiritual gave way to the temporal. But in England the conflict was now first begun, and the time of compromise had not yet come. Henry's proposal to Anselm of delay and of a new appeal to the pope was chiefly a move to gain time until the situation of affairs in England should turn more decidedly in his favour. He especially feared, Eadmer tells us, lest Anselm should seek out his brother Robert and persuade him--as he easily could--to admit the papal claims, and then make him king of England.

Robert had returned to Normandy from the Holy Land before the arrival of Anselm in England. He had won much glory on the crusade, and in the rush of events and in the constant fighting, where responsibility for the management of affairs did not rest upon him alone, he had shown himself a man of energy and power. But he came back unchanged in character. Even during the crusade he had relapsed at times into his more indolent and careless mood, from which he had been roused with difficulty. In southern Italy, where he had stopped among the Normans on his return, he had married Sibyl, daughter of Geoffrey of Conversana, a nephew of Robert Guiscard, but the dowry which he received with her had rapidly melted away in his hands. He was, however, now under no obligation to redeem Normandy. The loan for which he had pledged the duchy was regarded as a personal debt to William Rufus, not a debt to the English crown, and Henry laid no claim to it. Robert took possession of Normandy without opposition from any quarter. It is probable that if Robert had been left to himself, he would have been satisfied with Normandy, and that his easy-going disposition would have led him to leave Henry in undisturbed possession of England. But he was not left to himself. The events which had occurred soon after the accession of William Rufus repeated themselves soon after Henry's. No Norman baron could expect to gain any more of the freedom which he desired under Henry than he had had under William. The two states would also be separated once more if Henry remained king of England. Almost all the Normans accordingly applied to Robert, as they had done before, and offered to support a new attempt to gain the crown. Robert was also urged forward by the advice of Ranulf Flambard, who escaped from the Tower in February, 1101, and found a refuge and new influence in Normandy. Natural ambition was not wanting to Robert, and in the summer of 1101 he collected his forces for an invasion of England.

Though the great Norman barons stood aloof from him--Robert of BellÍme and his two brothers Roger and Arnulf, William of Warenne, Walter Giffard, and Ivo of Grantmesnil, with others--Henry was stronger in England than Robert. No word had yet been received from Rome in answer to the application which he had made to the pope on the subject of the investiture; and in this crisis the king was liberal with promises to the archbishop, and Anselm was strongly on his side with the Church as a whole. His faithful friends, Robert, Count of Meulan, and his brother Henry, Earl of Warwick, were among the few whom he could trust. But his most important support he found, as his brother William had found it in similar circumstances, in the mass of the nation which would now be even more ready to take the side of the king against the Norman party.

Henry expected the invaders to land at Pevensey, but apparently, with the help of some part of the sailors who had been sent against him, Robert landed without opposition at Portsmouth, towards the end of July, 1101. Thence he advanced towards London, and Henry went to meet him. The two armies came together near Alton, but no battle was fought. In a conflict of diplomacy, Henry was pretty sure of victory, and to this he preferred to trust. A meeting of the brothers was arranged, and as a result Robert surrendered all the real advantages which he had crossed the channel to win, and received in place of them gains which might seem attractive to him, but which must have seemed to Henry, when taken all together, a cheap purchase of the crown. Robert gave up his claim to the throne and released Henry, as being a king, from the homage by which he had formerly been bound. Henry on his side promised his brother an annual payment of three thousand marks sterling, and gave up to him all that he possessed in Normandy, except the town of Domfront, which he had expressly promised not to abandon. It was also agreed, as formerly between Robert and William Rufus, that the survivor should inherit the dominions of the other if he died without heirs. A further provision concerned the adherents of each of the brothers during this strife. Possessions in England of barons of Normandy, which had been seized by Henry because of their fidelity to Robert, should be restored, and also the Norman estates of English barons seized by Robert, but each should be free to deal with the barons of his own land who had proved unfaithful. This stipulation would be of especial value to Henry, who had probably not found it prudent to deal with the traitors of his land before the decision of the contest; but some counter-intrigues in Normandy in favour of Henry were probably not unknown to Robert.

Robert sent home at once a part of his army, but he himself remained in England long enough to witness in some cases the execution by his brother of the provision of the treaty concerning traitors. He took with him, on his return to Normandy, Orderic Vitalis says, William of Warenne and many others disinherited for his sake. Upon others the king took vengeance one at a time, on one pretext or another, and these included at least Robert of Lacy, Robert Malet, and Ivo of Grantmesnil. The possessions of Ivo in Leicestershire passed into the hands of the faithful Robert, Count of Meulan--faithful to Henry if not to the rebel who sought his help--and somewhat later became the foundation of the earldom of Leicester.

Against the most powerful and most dangerous of the traitors, Robert of BellÍme, Henry felt strong enough to take steps in the spring of 1102. In a court in that year Henry brought accusation against Robert on forty-five counts, of things done or said against himself or against his brother Robert. The evidence to justify these accusations Henry had been carefully and secretly collecting for a year. When Robert heard this indictment, he knew that his turn had come, and that no legal defence was possible, and he took advantage of a technical plea to make his escape. He asked leave to retire from the court and take counsel with his men. As this was a regular custom leave was granted, but Robert took horse at once and fled from the court. Summoned again to court, Robert refused to come, and began to fortify his castles. Henry on his side collected an army, and laid siege first of all to the castle of Arundel. The record of the siege gives us an incident characteristic of the times. Robert's men, finding that they could not defend the place, asked for a truce that they might send to their lord and obtain leave to surrender. The request was granted, the messengers were sent, and Robert with grief "absolved them from their promised faith and granted them leave to make concord with the king." Henry then turned against Robert's castles in the north. Against Blyth he marched himself, but on his approach he was met by the townsmen who received him as their "natural lord." To the Bishop of Lincoln he gave orders to besiege Tickhill castle, while he advanced towards the west, where lay Robert's chief possessions and greatest strength.

In his Shrewsbury earldom Robert had been preparing himself for the final struggle with the king ever since he had escaped his trial in the court. He counted upon the help of his two brothers, whose possessions were also in those parts, Arnulf of Pembroke, and Roger called the Poitevin, who had possession of Lancaster. The Welsh princes also stood ready, as their countrymen stood for centuries afterwards, to combine with any party of rebellious barons in England, and their assistance proved of as little real value then as later. With these allies and the help of Arnulf he laid waste a part of Staffordshire before Henry's arrival, the Welsh carrying off their plunder, including some prisoners. Robert's chief dependence, however, must have been upon his two very strong castles of Bridgenorth and Shrewsbury, both of which had been strengthened and provisioned with care for a stubborn resistance.

Henry's first attack with what seems to have been a large force was on Bridgenorth castle. Robert had himself chosen to await the king's attack in Shrewsbury, and had left three of his vassals in charge of Bridgenorth, with a body of mercenaries, who often proved, notwithstanding the oaths of vassals, the most faithful troops of feudal days. He had hoped that his Welsh friends would be able to interfere seriously with Henry's siege operations, but in this he was disappointed. The king's offers proved larger than his, at least to one of the princes, and no help came from that quarter. One striking incident of this siege, though recorded by Orderic Vitalis only, is so characteristic of the situation in England, at least of that which had just preceded the rebellion of Robert, and bears so great an appearance of truth, that it deserves notice. The barons of England who were with the king began to fear that if he were allowed to drive so powerful an earl as Robert of BellÍme to his ruin the rest of their order would be henceforth at his mercy, and no more than weak "maid-servants" in his sight. Accordingly, after consulting among themselves, they made a formal attempt to induce the king to grant terms to Robert. In the midst of an argument which the king seems to have been obliged to treat with consideration, the shouts of 3000 country soldiers stationed on a hill near by made themselves heard, warning Henry not to trust to "these traitors," and promising him their faithful assistance. Encouraged by this support, the king rejected the advice of the barons.

The siege of Bridgenorth lasted three weeks. At the end of that time, Henry threatened to hang all whom he should capture, unless the castle were surrendered in three days; and despite the resistance of Robert's mercenaries, the terms he offered were accepted. Henry immediately sent out his forces to clear the difficult way to Shrewsbury, where Robert, having learned of the fall of Bridgenorth, was awaiting the issue, uncertain what to do. One attempt he made to obtain for himself conditions of submission, but met with a flat refusal. Unconditional surrender was all that Henry would listen to. Finally, as the king approached, he went out to meet him, confessed himself a traitor and beaten, and gave up the keys of the town. Henry used his victory to the uttermost. Personal safety was granted to the earl, and he was allowed to depart to his Norman possessions with horses and arms, but this was all that was allowed him. His vast possessions in England were wholly confiscated; not a manor was left him. His brothers soon afterwards fell under the same fate, and the most powerful and most dangerous Norman house in England was utterly ruined. For the king this result was not merely the fall of an enemy who might well be feared, and the acquisition of great estates with which to reward his friends; it was a lesson of the greatest value to the Norman baronage. Orderic Vitalis, who gives us the fullest details of these events states this result in words which cannot be improved upon: "And so, after Robert's flight, the kingdom of Albion was quiet in peace, and King Henry reigned prosperously three and thirty years, during which no man in England dared to rebel or to hold any castle against him."

From these and other forfeitures Henry endowed a new nobility, men of minor families, or of those that had hitherto played no part in the history of the land. Many of them were men who had had their training and attracted the king's attention in the administrative system which he did so much to develop, and their promotion was the reward of faithful service. These "new men" were settled in some numbers in the north, and scholars have thought they could trace the influence of their administrative training and of their attitude towards the older and more purely feudal nobility in the events of a century later in the struggle for the Great Charter.

These events, growing directly out of Robert's attempt upon England, have carried us to the autumn of 1102; but in the meantime the equally important conflict with Anselm on the subject of investitures had been advanced some stages further. The answer of Pope Paschal II to the request which had been made of him, to suspend in favour of England the law of the Church against lay investitures, had been received at least soon after the treaty with Robert. The answer was a flat refusal, written with priestly subtlety, arguing throughout as if what Henry had demanded was the spiritual consecration of the bishops, though it must be admitted that in the eyes of men who saw only the side of the Church the difference could not have been great. So far as we know, Henry said nothing of this answer. He summoned Anselm to court, apparently while his brother was still in England, and peremptorily demanded of him that he should become his man and consecrate the bishops and abbots whom he had appointed, as his predecessors had done, or else immediately leave the country. It is uncertain whether the influence of Robert had anything to do with this demand, as Eadmer supposed, but the recent victory which the king had gained, and the greater security which he must have felt, doubtless affected its peremptory character. Anselm again based his refusal of homage on his former position, on the doctrine which he had learned at Rome. Of this Henry would hear nothing; he insisted upon the customary rights of English kings. The other alternative, however, which he offered the archbishop, or with which he threatened him, of departure from England, Anselm also declined to accept, and he returned to Canterbury to carry on his work quietly and to await the issue.

This act of Anselm's was a virtual challenge to the king to use violence against him if he dared, and such a challenge Henry was as yet in no condition to take up. Not long after his return to Canterbury, Anselm received a friendly letter from the king, inviting him to come to Westminster, to consider the business anew. Here, with the consent of the assembled court, a new truce was arranged, and a new embassy to Rome determined on. This was to be sent by both parties and to consist of ecclesiastics of higher rank than those of the former embassy, who were to explain clearly to the pope the situation in England, and to convince him that some modification of the decrees on the subject would be necessary if he wished to retain the country in his obedience. Anselm's representatives were two monks, Baldwin of Bee and Alexander of Canterbury; the king's were three bishops, Gerard of Hereford, lately made Archbishop of York by the king, Herbert of Norwich, and Robert of Coventry.

The embassy reached Rome; the case was argued before the pope; he indignantly refused to modify the decrees; and the ambassadors returned to England, bringing letters to this effect to the king and to the archbishop. Soon after their return, which was probably towards the end of the summer, 1102, Anselm was summoned to a meeting of the court at London, and again required to perform homage or to cease to exercise his office. He of course continued to refuse, and appealed to the pope's letters for justification. Henry declined to make known the letter he had received, and declared that he would not be bound by them. His position was supported by the three bishops whom he had sent to Rome, who on the reading of the letter to Anselm declared that privately the pope had informed them that so long as the king appointed suitable men he would not be interfered with, and they explained that this could not be stated in the letters lest the news should be carried to other princes and lead them to usurp the rights of the Church. Anselm's representatives protested that they had heard nothing of all this, but it is evident that the solemn assertion of the three bishops had considerable weight, and that even Anselm was not sure but that they were telling the truth.

On a renewed demand of homage by the king, supported by the bishops and barons of the kingdom, Anselm answered that if the letters had corresponded to the words of the bishops, very likely he would have done what was demanded as the case stood, he proposed a new embassy to Rome to reconcile the contradiction, and in the meantime, though he would not consecrate the king's nominees, he agreed not to regard them as excommunicate. This proposal was at once accepted by Henry, who regarded it as so nearly an admission of his claim that he immediately appointed two new bishops: his chancellor, Roger, to Salisbury, and his larderer, also Roger, to Hereford.

Perhaps in the same spirit, regarding the main point as settled, Henry now allowed Anselm to hold the council of the English Church which William Rufus had so long refused him. The council met at Westminster and adopted a series of canons, whose chief object was the complete carrying out of the Gregorian reformation in the English Church. The most important of them concerned the celibacy of the priesthood, and enacted the strictest demands of the reform party, without regard to existing conditions. No clerics of any grade from subdeacon upward, were to be allowed to marry, nor might holy orders be received hereafter without a previous vow of celibacy. Those already married must put away their wives, and if any neglected to do so, they were no longer to be considered legal priests, nor be allowed to celebrate mass. One canon, which reveals one of the dangers against which the Church sought to guard by these regulations, forbade the sons of priests to inherit their father's benefices. It is very evident from these canons, that this part of the new reformation had made but little, if any, more headway in England than that which concerned investiture, and we know from other sources that the marriage of secular clergy was almost the rule, and that the sons of priests in clerical office were very numerous. Less is said of the other article of the reform programme, the extinction of the sin of simony, but three abbots of important monasteries, recently appointed by the king, were deposed on this ground without objection. This legislation, so thorough-going and so regardless of circumstances, is an interesting illustration of the uncompromising character of Anselm, though it must be noticed that later experience raised the question in his mind whether some modifications of these canons ought not to be made.

That Henry on his side had no intention of surrendering anything of his rights in the matter of investiture is clearly shown, about the same time, by his effort to get the bishops whom he had appointed to accept consecration from his very useful and willing minister, Gerard, Archbishop of York. Roger the larderer, appointed to Hereford, had died without consecration, and in his place Reinelm, the queen's chancellor, had been appointed. When the question of consecration by York was raised, rather than accept it he voluntarily surrendered his bishopric to the king. The other two persons appointed, William Giffard of Winchester, and Roger of Salisbury, seemed willing to concede the point, but at the last moment William drew back and the plan came to nothing. The bishops, however, seem to have refused consecration from the Archbishop of York less from objection to royal investiture than out of regard to the claims of Canterbury. William Giffard was deprived of his see, it would seem by judicial sentence, and sent from the kingdom.

About the middle of Lent of the next year, 1103, Henry made a new attempt to obtain his demands of Anselm. On his way to Dover he stopped three days in Canterbury and required the archbishop to submit. What followed is a repetition of what had occurred so often before. Anselm offered to be guided by the letters from Rome, in answer to the last reference thither, which had been received but not yet read. This Henry refused. He said he had nothing to do with the pope. He demanded the rights of his predecessors. Anselm on his side declared that he could consent to a modification of the papal decrees only by the authority which had made them. It would seem as if no device remained to be tried to postpone a complete breach between the two almost co-equal powers of the medieval state; but Henry's patience was not yet exhausted, or his practical wisdom led him to wish to get Anselm out of the kingdom before the breach became complete. He begged Anselm to go himself to Rome and attempt what others had failed to effect. Anselm suspected the king's object in the proposal, and asked for a delay until Easter, that he might take the advice of the king's court. This was unanimous in favour of the attempt, and on April 27, 1103, he landed at Wissant, not an exile, but with his attendants, "invested with the king's peace."

Four years longer this conflict lasted before it was finally settled by the concordat of August, 1107; but these later stages of it, though not less important considered in themselves, were less the pressing question of the moment for Henry than the earlier had been. They were rather incidents affecting his gradually unfolding foreign policy, and in turn greatly affected by it. From the fall of Robert of BellÍme to the end of Henry's reign, the domestic history of England is almost a blank. If we put aside two series of events, the ecclesiastical politics of the time, of which interested clerks have given us full details, and the changes in institutions which were going on, but which they did not think posterity would be so anxious to understand, we know of little to say of this long period in the life of the English people. The history which has survived is the history of the king, and the king was in the main occupied upon the continent. But in the case of Henry I, this is not improperly English history. It was upon no career of foreign conquest, no seeking after personal glory, that Henry embarked in his Norman expeditions. It was to protect the rights of his subjects in England that he began, and it was because he could accomplish this in no other way that he ended with the conquest of the duchy and the lifelong imprisonment of his brother. There were so many close bonds of connexion between the two states that England suffered keenly in the disorders of Normandy, and the turbulence and disobedience of the barons under Robert threatened the stability of Henry's rule at home.

Footnotes

[16] Ordetic Vitalis, iv. 87 f.

[17] Liebermami, Anselm und Hugo van Lyon, in Aufsštze dem Andenken an Georg Waitz gewidmet.

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