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The History of England From the Norman Conquest to the Death of John
The King's Foreign Interests
by Adams, George Burton


We need not enter into the details of the long struggle between Canterbury and York. The archbishopric of Canterbury was vacant for five years after the death of Anselm; its revenues went to support the various undertakings of the king. In April, 1114, Ralph of Escures, Bishop of Rochester, was chosen Anselm's successor. The archbishopric of York had been vacant only a few months, when it was filled, later in the summer, by the appointment of Thurstan, one of the king's chaplains. The question of the obligation of the recently elected Archbishop of York to bind himself to obedience to the primate of Britain, whether settled as a principle or as a special case, by an English council or by the king or under papal authority, arose anew with every new appointment. In the period which follows the appointment of Thurstan, a new element of interest was added to the dispute by the more deliberate policy of the pope to make use of it to gain a footing for his authority in England, and to weaken the unity and independence of the English Church. This attempt led to a natural alliance of parties, in which, while the issue was at bottom really the same, the lines of the earlier investiture conflict were somewhat rearranged. The pope supported the claim of York, while the king defended the right of Canterbury as bound up with his own.

At an important meeting of the great council at Salisbury, in March, 1116, the king forced upon Thurstan the alternative of submission to Canterbury or resignation. The barons and prelates of the realm had been brought together to make formal recognition of the right to the succession of Henry's son William, now fourteen years of age. Already in the previous summer this had been done in Normandy, the barons doing homage and swearing fealty to the prince. Now the English barons followed the example, and, by the same ceremony, the strongest tie known to the feudal world, bound themselves to accept the son as their lord on the death of his father. The prelates, for their part, took oath that if they should survive Henry, they would recognize William as king, and then do homage to him in good faith. The incident is interesting less as an example of this characteristic feudal method of securing the succession, for this had been employed since the Conquest both in Normandy and in England, than because we are told that on this occasion the oath was demanded, not merely of all tenants in chief, but of all inferior vassals. If this statement may be accepted, and there is no reason to doubt it, we may conclude that the practice established by the Conqueror at an earlier Salisbury assembly had been continued by his sons. This was a moment when Henry was justified in expressing his will, even on a matter of Church government, in peremptory command, and when no one was likely to offer resistance. Thurstan chose to surrender the archbishopric, and promised to make no attempt to recover it; but apparently the renunciation was not long regarded as final on either side. He was soon after this with the king in Normandy, but he was refused the desired permission to go to Rome, a journey which Archbishop Ralph soon undertook, that he might try the influence of his presence there in favour of the cause of Canterbury and against other pretensions of the pope.

From the date of this visit to Normandy, in the spring of 1116, Henry's continental interests mix themselves with those of the absolute ruler of the English Church, and he was more than once forced to choose upon which side he would make some slight concession or waive some right for the moment. Slowly the sides were forming themselves and the opposing interests growing clear, of a great conflict for the dominion of northern France, a conflict forced upon the English king by the necessity of defending the position he had gained, rather than sought by him in the spirit of conquest, even when he seemed the aggressor; a conflict in which he was to gain the victory in the field and in diplomacy, but to be overcome by the might of events directed by no human hand and not to be resisted by any.

The peace between Henry and Louis, made in the spring of 1113, was broken by Henry's coming to the aid of his nephew, Theobald of Blois. Theobald had seized the Count of Nevers on his return from assisting Louis in a campaign in the duchy of France in 1115. The cause was bad, but Henry could not afford to see so important an ally as his nephew crushed by his enemies, especially as his dominions were of peculiar strategical value in any war with the king of France. To Louis's side gathered, as the war developed, those who had reason from their position to fear what looked like the policy of expansion of this new English power in north-western France, especially the Counts of Flanders and of Anjou. The marriage of Henry's son William with Fulk's daughter had not yet taken place, and the Count of Anjou might well believe--particularly from the close alliance of Henry with the rival power of Blois--that he had more to fear than to hope for from the spread of the Norman influence. At the same time the division began to show itself among the Norman barons, of those who were faithful to Henry and those who preferred the succession of Robert's son William; and it grew more pronounced as the war went on, for Louis took up the cause of William as the rightful heir of Normandy. In doing this he began the policy which the French kings followed for so many years, and on the whole with so little advantage, of fomenting the quarrels in the English royal house and of separating if possible the continental possessions from the English.

On Henry's side were a majority of the Norman barons and the counts of Britanny and of Blois. For the first time, also, appeared upon the stage of history in this war Henry's other nephew, Stephen, who was destined to do so much evil to England and to Henry's plans before his death. His uncle had already made him Count of Mortain. The lordship of Bellême, which Henry had given to Theobald, had been by him transferred to Stephen in the division of their inheritance. It was probably not long after this that Henry procured for him the hand of Matilda, heiress of the county of Boulogne, and thus extended his own influence over that important territory on the borders of Flanders. France, Flanders, and Anjou certainly had abundant reason to fear the possible combination into one power of Normandy, Britanny, Maine, Blois, and Boulogne, and that a power which, however pacific in disposition, showed so much tendency to expansion. For France, at least, the cause of this war was not the disobedience of a vassal, nor was it to be settled by the siege and capture of border castles.

The war which followed was once more not a war of battles. Armies, large for the time, were collected, but they did little more than make threatening marches into the enemy's country. In 1118 the revolt of the Norman barons, headed by Amaury of Montfort, who now claimed the county of Evreux, assumed proportions which occasioned the king many difficulties. This was a year of misfortunes for him. The Count of Anjou, the king of France, the Count of Flanders, each in turn invaded some part of Normandy, and gained advantages which Henry could not prevent. Baldwin of Flanders, however, returned home with a wound from an arrow, of which he shortly died. In the spring of this year Queen Matilda died, praised by the monastic chroniclers to the last for her good deeds. A month later Henry's wisest counsellor, Robert of Meulan, died also, after a long life spent in the service of the Conqueror and of his sons. The close of the year saw no turn of the tide in favour of Henry. Evreux was captured in October by Amaury of Montfort, and afterwards Alençon by the Count of Anjou.

The year 1119, which was destined to close in triumph for Henry, opened no more favourably. The important castle of Les Andelys, commanding the Norman Vexin, was seized by Louis, aided by treachery. But before the middle of the year, Henry had gained his first great success. He induced the Count of Anjou, by what means we do not know,--by money it was thought by some at the time,--to make peace with him, and to carry out the agreement for the marriage of his daughter with the king's son. The county of Maine was settled on the young pair, virtually its transfer to Henry. At the same time, Henry granted to William Talvas, perhaps as one of the conditions of the treaty, the Norman possessions which had belonged to his father, Robert of Bellême. In the same month, June, 1119, Baldwin of Flanders died of the wound which he had received in Normandy, and was succeeded by his nephew, Charles the Good, who reversed Baldwin's policy and renewed the older relations with England. The sieges of castles, the raiding and counter-raiding of the year, amounted to little until, on August 20, while each was engaged in raiding, the opposing armies commanded by the two kings in person unexpectedly found themselves in the presence of one another. The battle of Bremule, the only encounter of the war which can be called a battle, followed. Henry and his men again fought on foot, as at Tinchebrai, with a small reserve on horseback. The result was a complete victory for Henry. The French army was completely routed, and a large number of prisoners was taken, though the character which a feudal battle often assumed from this time on is attributed to this one, in the fact reported that in the fighting and pursuit only three men were killed.

A diplomatic victory not less important followed the battle of Bremule by a few weeks. The pope was now in France. His predecessor, Gelasius II, had been compelled to flee from Italy by the successes of the Emperor Henry V, and had died at Cluny in January, 1119, on his way to the north. The cardinals who had accompanied him elected in his stead the Archbishop of Vienne, who took the name of Calixtus II. Gelasius in his short and unfortunate reign had attempted to interfere with vigour in the dispute between York and Canterbury, and had summoned both parties to appear before him for the decision of the case. This was in Henry's year of misfortunes, 1118, and he was obliged to temporize. The early death of Gelasius interrupted his plan, but only until Calixtus II was ready to go on with it. He called a council of the Church to meet at Reims in October, to which he summoned the English bishops, and where he proposed to decide the question of the obedience of York to Canterbury. Henry granted a reluctant consent to the English bishops to attend this council, but only on condition that they would allow no innovations in the government of the English Church. To Thurstan of York, to whom he had restored the temporalities of his see, under the pressure of circumstances nearly two years before, he granted permission to attend on condition that he would not accept consecration as archbishop from the pope. This condition was at once violated, and Thurstan was consecrated by the pope on October 19. Henry immediately ordered that he should not be allowed to return to any of the lands subject to his rule.

At this council King Louis of France, defeated in the field and now without allies, appealed in person to the pope for the condemnation of the king of England. He is said, by Orderic Vitalis who was probably present at the council and heard him speak, to have recited the evil deeds of Henry, from the imprisonment of Robert to the causes of the present war. The pope himself was in a situation where he needed to proceed with diplomatic caution, but he promised to seek an interview with Henry and to endeavour to bring about peace. This interview took place in November, at Gisors, and ended in the complete discomfiture of the pope. Henry was now in a far stronger position than he had been at the beginning of the year, and to the requests of Calixtus he returned definite refusals or vague and general answers of which nothing was to be made. The pope was even compelled to recognize the right of the English king to decide when papal legates should be received in the kingdom. Henry was, however, quite willing to make peace. He had won over Louis's allies, defeated his attempt to gain the assistance of the pope, and finally overcome the revolted Norman barons. He might reasonably have demanded new advantages in addition to those which had been granted him in the peace of 1113, but all that marks this treaty is the legal recognition of his position in Normandy. Homage was done to Louis for Normandy, not by Henry himself, for he was a king, but by his son William for him. It is probable that at no previous date would this ceremony have been acceptable, either to Louis or to Henry. On Louis's part it was not merely a recognition of Henry's right to the duchy of Normandy, but it was also a formal abandonment of William Clito, and an acceptance of William, Henry's son, as the heir of his father. This act was accompanied by a renewal of the homage of the Norman barons to William, whether made necessary by the numerous rebellions of the past two years, or desirable to perfect the legal chain, now that William had been recognized as heir by his suzerain, a motive that would apply to all the barons.

This peace was made sometime during the course of the year 1120. In November Henry was ready to return to England, and on the 25th he set sail from Barfleur, with a great following. Then suddenly came upon him, not the loss of any of the advantages he had lately gained nor any immediate weakening of his power, but the complete collapse of all that he had looked forward to as the ultimate end of his policy. His son William embarked a little later than his father in the White Ship, with a brilliant company of young relatives and nobles. They were in a very hilarious mood, and celebrated the occasion by making the crew drunk. Probably they were none too sober themselves; certainly Stephen of Blois was saved to be king of England in his cousin's place, by withdrawing to another vessel when he saw the condition of affairs on the White Ship. It was night and probably dark. About a mile and a half from Barfleur the ship struck a rock, and quickly filled and sank. It was said that William would have escaped if he had not turned back at the cries of his sister, Henry's natural daughter, the Countess of Perche. All on board were drowned except a butcher of Rouen. Never perished in any similar calamity so large a number of persons of rank. Another child of Henry's, his natural son Richard, his niece Matilda, sister of Theobald and Stephen, a nephew of the Emperor Henry V, Richard, Earl of Chester, and his brother, the end of the male line of Hugh of Avranches, and a crowd of others of only lesser rank. Orderic Vitalis records that he had heard that eighteen ladies perished, who were the daughters, sisters, nieces, or wives of kings or earls. Henry is said to have fallen to the ground in a faint when the news was told him, and never to have been the same man again.

But if Henry could no longer look forward to the permanence in the second generation of the empire which he had created, he was not the man to surrender even to the blows of fate. The succession to his dominions of Robert's son William, who had been so recently used by his enemies against him, but who was now the sole male heir of William the Conqueror, was an intolerable idea. In barely more than a month after the death of his son, the king took counsel with the magnates of the realm, at a great council in London, in regard to his remarriage. In less than another month the marriage was celebrated. Henry's second wife was Adelaide, daughter of Geoffrey, Duke of Lower Lorraine, a vassal of his son-in-law, the emperor, and his devoted supporter, as well as a prince whose alliance might be of great use in any future troubles with France or Flanders. This marriage was made chiefly in hope of a legitimate heir, but it was a childless marriage, and Henry's hope was disappointed.

For something more than two years after this fateful return of the king to England, his dominions enjoyed peace scarcely broken by a brief campaign in Wales in 1121. At the end of 1120, Archbishop Thurstan, for whose sake the pope was threatening excommunication and interdict, was allowed to return to his see, where he was received with great rejoicing. But the dispute with Canterbury was not yet settled. Indeed, he had scarcely returned to York when he was served with notice that he must profess, for himself at least, obedience to Canterbury, as his predecessors had done. This he succeeded in avoiding for a time, and at the beginning of October, in 1122, Archbishop Ralph of Canterbury died, not having gained his case. An attempt of Calixtus II to send a legate to England, contrary to the promise he had made to Henry at Gisors, was met and defeated by the king with his usual diplomatic skill, so far as the exercise of any legatine powers is concerned, though the legate was admitted to England and remained there for a time. In the selection of a successor to Ralph of Canterbury a conflict arose between the monastic chapter of Christ church and the bishops of the province, and was decided undoubtedly according to the king's mind in favour of the latter, by the election of William of Corbeil, a canon regular. Another episcopal appointment of these years illustrates the growing importance in the kingdom of the great administrative bishop, Roger of Salisbury, who seems to have been the king's justiciar, or chief representative, during his long absences in Normandy. The long pontificate of Robert Bloet, the brilliant and worldly Bishop of Lincoln, closed at the beginning of 1123 by a sudden stroke as he was riding with the king, and in his place was appointed Roger's nephew, Alexander.

During this period also, probably within a year after the death of his son William, Henry took measures to establish the position of one of his illegitimate sons, very likely with a view to the influence which he might have upon the succession when the question should arise. Robert of Caen, so called from the place of his birth, was created Earl of Gloucester, and was married to Mabel, heiress of the large possessions of Robert Fitz Hamon in Gloucester, Wales, and Normandy. Robert of Gloucester, as he came to be known, was the eldest of Henry's illegitimate sons, born before his father's accession to the throne, and he was now in the vigour of young manhood. He was also, of all Henry's children of whom we know anything, the most nearly like himself, of more than average abilities, patient and resourceful, hardly inheriting in full his father's diplomatic skill but not without gifts of the kind, and earning the reputation of a lover of books and a patron of writers. A hundred years earlier there would have been no serious question, in the circumstances which had arisen, of his right to succeed his father, at least in the duchy of Normandy. That the possibility of such a succession was present in men's minds is shown by a contemporary record that the suggestion was made to him on the death of Henry, and rejected at once through his loyalty to his sister's son. Whether this record is to be believed or not, it shows that the event was thought possible.23

Certainly there was no real movement, not even the slightest, in his favour, and this fact reveals the change which had taken place in men's ideas of the succession in a century. The necessity of legitimate birth was coming to be recognized as indisputable, though it had not been by the early Teutonic peoples. Of the causes of this change, the teachings of the Church were no doubt the most effective, becoming of more force with its increasing influence, and especially since, as a part of the Hildebrandine reformation, it had insisted with so much emphasis on the fact that the son of a married priest could have no right of succession to his father's benefice, being of illegitimate birth; but the teachings of the sacredness of the marriage tie, of the sinfulness of illicit relations, and of the nullity of marriage within the prohibited degrees, were of influence in the change of ideas. It is also true that men's notions of the right of succession to property in general were becoming more strict and definite, and very possibly the importance of the succession involved in this particular case had its effect. One may almost regret that this change of ideas, which was certainly an advance in morals, as well as in law, was not delayed for another generation; for if Robert of Gloucester could have succeeded on the death of Henry without dispute, England would have been saved weary years of strife and suffering.

The death of the young William was a signal to set Henry's enemies in motion again. But they did not begin at once. Henry's position was still unweakened. Very likely his speedy marriage was a notice to the world that he did not propose to modify in the least his earlier plans. Probably also the absence of Fulk of Anjou, who had gone on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem soon after his treaty of 1119 with Henry, was a cause of delay, for the natural first move would be for him to demand a return of his daughter and her dowry. Fulk's stay was not long in the land of which he was in a few years to be king, and on his return he at once sent for his daughter, probably in 1121. She returned home, but as late as December, 1122, there was still trouble between him and Henry in regard to her dowry, which Henry no doubt was reluctant to surrender.

About the same time, Henry's old enemy, Amaury of Montfort, disliking the strictness of Henry's rule and the frequency of his demands for money, began to work among the barons of Normandy and with his nephew, the Count of Anjou, in favour of William Clito. It was already clear that Henry's hope of another heir was likely to be disappointed, and Normandy would naturally be more easily attracted to the son of Robert than England The first step was one which did not violate any engagement with Henry, but which was, nevertheless, a decided recognition of the claims of his nephew, and an open attack on his plans. Fulk gave his second daughter, Sibyl, in marriage to William Clito, and with her the county of Maine, which had been a part of Matilda's dower on her marriage with Henry's son William. Under the circumstances, this was equivalent to an announcement that he expected William Clito to be the Duke of Normandy. Early in 1123, Henry sent over troops to Normandy, and in June of that year he crossed himself, to be on the spot if the revolt and war which were threatening should break out. In September the discontented barons agreed together to take arms. It is of interest that among these was Waleran of Meulan, the son of the king's faithful counsellor, Count Robert. Waleran had inherited his father's Norman possessions while his brother Robert had become Earl of Leicester in England.

In all this the hand of Louis, king of France, was not openly seen. Undoubtedly, however, the movement had his encouragement from the beginning, and very likely his promise of open support when the time should come. The death of the male heir to England and Normandy would naturally draw Henry's daughter Matilda, and her husband the emperor, nearer to him; and of this, while Henry was still in England, some evidence has come down to us though not of the most satisfactory kind. Any evidence at the time that this alliance was likely to become more close would excite the fear of the king of France and make him ready to support any movement against the English king. Flanders would feel the danger as keenly, and in these troubles Charles the Good abandoned his English alliance and supported the cause of France.

The contest which followed between the king and his revolted barons is hardly to be dignified with the name of war. The forced surrender of a few strongholds, the long siege of seven weeks, long for those days, of Waleran of Meulan's castle, of Pont Audemer and its capture, and the occupation of Amaury of Montfort's city of Evreux, filled the remainder of the year 1123, and in March of 1124 the battle of Bourgtheroulde, in which Ralph, Earl of Chester, defeated Amaury and Waleran and captured a large number of prisoners, virtually ended the conflict. Upon the leaders whom he had captured Henry inflicted his customary punishment of long imprisonment, or the worse fate of blinding. The Norman barons had taken arms, and had failed without the help from abroad which they undoubtedly expected. We do not know in full detail the steps which had been taken to bring about this result, but it was attributed to the diplomacy of Henry, that neither Fulk of Anjou nor Louis of France was able to attack him.

Henry probably had little difficulty in moving his son-in-law, the emperor Henry V, to attack Louis of France. Besides the general reason which would influence him, of willingness to support Matilda's father at this time, and of standing unfriendliness with France, he was especially ready to punish the state in which successive popes had found refuge and support when driven from Italy by his successes. The policy of an attack on Louis was not popular with the German princes, and the army with which the Emperor crossed the border was not a large one. To oppose him, Louis advanced with a great and enthusiastic host. Taking in solemn ceremony from the altar of St Denis the oriflamme, the banner of the holy defender of the land, he aroused the patriotism of northern France as against a hereditary enemy. Even Henry's nephew, Theobald of Blois, led out his forces to aid the king. The news of the army advancing against them did not increase the ardour of the German forces; and hearing of an insurrection in Worms, the Emperor turned back, having accomplished nothing more than to secure a free hand for Henry of England against the Norman rebels.

Against Fulk of Anjou Henry seems to have found his ally in the pope. The marriage of William Clito with Sibyl, with all that it might carry with it, was too threatening a danger to be allowed to stand, if in any way it could be avoided. The convenient plea of relationship, convenient to be remembered or forgotten according to the circumstances, was urged upon the pope. The Clito and his bride were related in no nearer degree than the tenth, according to the reckoning of the canon law, which prohibited marriage between parties related in the seventh degree, and Henry's own children, William in his earlier, and Matilda in her later marriage, with the sister and brother of Sibyl, were equally subject to censure. But this was a different case. Henry's arguments at Rome--Orderic tells us that threats, prayers, and money were combined--were effective, and the marriage was ordered dissolved. Excommunication and interdict were necessary to enforce this decision; but at last, in the spring of 1125, Fulk was obliged to yield, and William Clito began his wanderings once more, followed everywhere by the "long arm" of his uncle.

At Easter time in 1125, probably a few days before the date of the papal bull of interdict which compelled the dissolution of the marriage of William and Sibyl, a papal legate, John of Crema, landed in England. Possibly this departure from Henry's practice down to this time was a part of the price which the papal decision cost. The legate made a complete visitation of England, had a meeting with the king of Scots, and presided at a council of the English Church held in September, where the canons of Anselm were renewed in somewhat milder form. On his return to Rome in October, he was accompanied by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who went there about the still unsettled question of the obedience of the latter. Not even now was this question settled on its merits, but William of Corbeil made application, supported by the king, to be appointed the standing papal legate in Britain. This request was granted, and formed a precedent which was followed by successive popes and archbishops. This appointment is usually considered a lowering of the pretensions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and an infringement of the independence of the English Church, and to a considerable extent this is true. Under a king as strong as Henry I, with an archbishop no stronger than William of Corbeil, or, indeed, with one not exceptionally strong, the papal authority gained very little from the arrangement. But it was a perpetual opportunity; it was a recognition of papal right. Under it the number of appeals to Rome increased; it marks in a legal way the advance of papal authority and of a consciousness of unity in the Church since the accession of the king, and it must have been so regarded at Rome. The appointment gave to Canterbury at once undoubted supremacy over York, but not on the old grounds, and that question was passed on to the future still unsettled.

In the spring of 1125 also occurred an event which again changed the direction of Henry's plans. On May 23, the emperor Henry V died, without children by his marriage to Matilda. The widowed Empress, as she was henceforth called by the English though she had never received the imperial crown, obeyed her father's summons to return to him in Normandy with great reluctance. She had been in Germany since her early childhood, and she was now twenty-three years of age. She could have few recollections of any other home. She loved the German people, and was beloved by them. We are told even that some of them desired her to reign in her husband's stead, and came to ask her return of Henry. But the death of her husband had rendered her succession to the English throne a matter of less difficulty, and Henry had no mind to sacrifice his own plans for the benefit of a foreign people. In September, 1126, he returned with Matilda to England, and in January following, at a great council in London, he demanded and obtained of the baronage, lay and spiritual, an oath to accept Matilda as sovereign if he should die without a male heir. The inference is natural from the account William of Malmesbury gives of this event, that in the argument before the council much was made of the fact that Matilda was a descendant of the old Saxon, as well as of the Norman, line. It is evident, also, that there was hesitation on the part of the barons, and that they yielded reluctantly to the king's demand.

The feudalism of France and England clearly recognized the right of women to succeed to baronies, even of the first importance, though with some irregularities of practice and the feudal right of marriage which the English kings considered so important rested, in the case of female heirs, on this principle. The king's son, Robert of Gloucester, and his nephew Stephen, now Count of Boulogne, who disputed with one another the right to take this oath to Matilda's succession next after her uncle, David, king of Scots, had both been provided for by Henry in this way. Still, even in these cases, a difference was likely to be felt between succession to the barony itself, and to the title and political authority which went with it, and the difference would be greater in the case of the highest of titles, of the throne of such a dominion as Henry had brought together. Public law in the Spanish peninsula had already, in one case, recognized the right of a woman to reign, but there had been as yet no case in northern Europe. The dread of such a succession was natural, in days when feudal turbulence was held in check only by the reigning king, and when even this could be accomplished only by a king of determined force. The natural feeling in such cases is undoubtedly indicated by the form of the historian's statement referred to above, that Robert of Gloucester declined the suggestion that he should be king out of loyalty to "his sister's son." It was the feeling that the female heir could pass the title on to her son, rather than that she could hold it herself.

William of Malmesbury states, in his account of these events, that he had often heard Bishop Roger of Salisbury say that he considered himself released from this oath to Matilda because it had been taken on condition that she should not be married out of the kingdom except with the counsel of the barons.24 The writer takes pains at the same time to say that he records this fact rather from his sense of duty as a historian than because he believes the statement. It has, however, a certain amount of inherent probability. To consult with his vassals on such a question was so frequently the practice of the lord, and it was so entirely in line with feudal usage, that the barons would have had some slight ground on which to consider themselves released from this oath, even if such a specific promise had not been made, nor is it likely that Henry would hesitate to make it if he thought it desired. It is indeed quite possible that Henry had not yet determined upon the plan which he afterwards carried out, though it may very likely have been in his mind, and that he was led to this by events which were taking place at this very time in France.

Matilda's return to her father, and Henry's evident intention to make her the heir of his dominions, of Normandy as well as of England, seem to have moved King Louis to some immediate action in opposition. The separation of the duchy from the kingdom, so important for the interests of the Capetian house, could not be hoped for unless this plan was defeated. The natural policy of opposition was the support of William Clito. At a great council of his kingdom, meeting at the same time with Henry's court in which Matilda's heirship was recognized, the French king bespoke the sympathy and support of his barons for "William of Normandy." The response was favourable, and Louis made him a grant of the French Vexin, a point of observation and of easy approach to Normandy. At the same time, a wife was given William in the person of Jeanne, half sister of Louis's queen, and daughter of the Marquis of Montferrat. A few weeks later William advanced with an armed force to Gisors, and made formal claim to Normandy.

It was hardly these events, though they were equivalent to a formal notification of the future policy of the king of France, which brought Henry to a decision as to his daughter's marriage. On March 2, the Count of Flanders, Charles the Good, was foully murdered in the Church of St. Donatian at Bruges. He was without children or near relatives, and several claimants for the vacant countship at once appeared. Even Henry I is said to have presented his claim, which he would derive from his mother, but he seems never seriously to have prosecuted it. Louis, on the contrary, gave his whole support to the claim of William Clito, and succeeded with little difficulty in getting him recognized by most of the barons and towns as count. This was a new and most serious danger to Henry's plans, and he began at once to stir up troubles for the new count among his vassals, by the support of rival claimants, and in alliance with neighbouring princes. But the situation demanded measures of direct defence, and Henry was led to take the decisive step, so eventful for all the future history of England, of marrying Matilda a second time. Immediately after Whitsuntide of 1127, Matilda was sent over to Normandy, attended by Robert of Gloucester and Brian Fitz Count, and at Rouen was formally betrothed by the archbishop of that city to Geoffrey, son of Fulk of Anjou. The marriage did not take place till two years later.

For this marriage no consent of English or Norman barons was asked, and none was granted. Indeed, we are led to suspect that Henry considered it unlikely that he could obtain consent, and deemed it wiser not to let his plans be known until they were so far accomplished as to make opposition useless. The natural rivalry and hostility between Normandy and Anjou had been so many times passed on from father to son that such a marriage as this could seem to the Norman barons nothing but a humiliation, and to the Angevins hardly less than a triumph. The opposition, however, spent itself in murmurs. The king was too strong. Probably also the political advantages were too obvious to warrant any attempt to defeat the scheme. Matilda herself is said to have been much opposed to the marriage, and this we can easily believe. Geoffrey was more than ten years her junior, and still a mere boy. She had but recently occupied the position of highest rank in the world to which a woman could attain. She was naturally of a proud and haughty spirit. We are told nothing of the arguments which induced her to consent; but in this case again the political advantage, the necessity of the marriage to the security of her succession, must have been the controlling motive.

That these considerations were valid, that Henry was fully justified in taking this step in the circumstances which had arisen, is open to no question, if the matter is regarded as one of cold policy alone. To leave Matilda's succession to the sole protection of the few barons of England, who were likely to be faithful, however powerful they might be, would have been madness under the new conditions. With William Clito likely to be in possession of the resources of a strong feudal state, heartily supported by the king of France, felt by the great mass of Norman barons to be the rightful heir, and himself of considerable energy of character, the odds would be decidedly in favour of his succession. The balance could be restored only by bringing forward in support of Matilda's claim a power equal to William's and certain not to abandon her cause. Henry could feel that he had accomplished this by the marriage with Geoffrey, and he had every reason to believe that he had converted at the same time one of the probable enemies of his policy into its most interested defender. Could he have foreseen the early death of William, he might have had reason to hesitate and to question whether some other marriage might not lead to a more sure success. That this plan failed in the end is only a proof of Henry's foresight in providing, against an almost inevitable failure, the best defence which ingenuity could devise.

William Clito's tenure of his countship was of but little more than a year, and a year filled with fighting. Boulogne was a vassal county of Flanders; but the new count, Stephen, undoubtedly carrying out the directions of his uncle, refused him homage, and William endeavoured to compel his obedience by force. Insurrections broke out behind him, due in part to his own severity of rule; and the progress of one of his rivals who was destined to succeed him, Dietrich of Elsass, was alarming. Louis attempted to come to his help, but was checked by a forward move of Henry with a Norman army. The tide seemed about to turn in Henry's favour once more, when it was suddenly impelled that way by the death of William. Wounded in the hand by a spear, in a fight at Alost, he died a few days later. His father was still alive in an English prison, and was informed in a dream, we are told, of this final blow of fortune. But for Henry this opportune death not merely removed from the field the most dangerous rival for Matilda's succession, but it also re-established the English influence in Flanders. Dietrich of Elsass became count, with the consent of Louis, and renewed the bond with England. Not long afterwards by the influence of Henry he obtained as wife, Geoffrey of Anjou's sister Sibyl, who had been taken from William Clito.

Geoffrey and Matilda were married at Le Mans, on June 9, 1129, by the Bishop of Avranches, in the presence of a brilliant assembly of nobles and prelates, and with the appearance of great popular rejoicing. After a stay there of three weeks, Henry returned to Normandy, and Matilda, with her husband and father-in-law, went to Angers. The jubilation with which the bridal party was there received was no doubt entirely genuine. Already before this marriage an embassy from the kingdom of Jerusalem had sought out Fulk, asking him to come to the aid of the Christian state, and offering him the hand of the heiress of the kingdom with her crown. This offer he now accepted, and left the young pair in possession of Anjou. But this happy outcome of Henry's policy, which promised to settle so many difficulties, was almost at the outset threatened with disaster against which even he could not provide. Matilda was not of gentle disposition. She never made it easy for her friends to live with her, and it is altogether probable that she took no pains to conceal her scorn of this marriage and her contempt for the Angevins, including very likely her youthful husband. At any rate, a few days after Henry's return to England, July 7,1129, he was followed by the news that Geoffrey had repudiated and cast off his wife, and that Matilda had returned to Rouen with few attendants. Henry did not, however, at once return to Normandy, and it was two full years before Matilda came back to England.

The disagreement between Geoffrey and Matilda ran its course as a family quarrel. It might endanger the future of Henry's plans, but it caused him no present difficulty. His continental position was now, indeed, secure and was threatened during the short remainder of his life by none of his enemies, though his troubles with his son-in-law were not yet over. The defeat of Robert and the crushing of the most powerful nobles had taught the barons a lesson which did not need to be repeated, and England was not easily accessible to the foreign enemies of the king. In Normandy the case was different, and despite Henry's constant successes and his merciless severity, no victory had been final so long as any claimant lived who could be put forward to dispute his possession. Now followed some years of peace, in which the history of Normandy is as barren as the history of England had long been, until the marriage of Matilda raised up a new claimant to disturb the last months of her father's life. During Henry's last stay in Normandy death had removed one who had once filled a large place in history, but who had since passed long years in obscurity. Ranulf Flambard died in 1128, having spent the last part of his life in doing what he could to redeem the earlier, by his work on the cathedral of Durham, where in worthy style he carried on the work of his predecessor, William of St. Calais. Soon after died William Giffard, the bishop whom Henry had appointed before he was himself crowned, and in his place the king appointed his nephew, Henry of Blois, brother of Count Stephen, who was to play so great a part in the troubles that were soon to begin. About the same time we get evidence that Henry had not abandoned his practice of taking fines from the married clergy, and of allowing them to retain their wives.

The year 1130, which Henry spent in England, is made memorable by a valuable and unique record giving us a sight of the activities of his reign on a side where we have little other evidence. The Pipe Roll of that year has come down to us.25 The Pipe Rolls, so called apparently from the shape in which they were filed for preservation, are the records of the accounting of the Exchequer Court with the sheriffs for the revenues which they had collected from their counties, and which they were bound to hand over to the treasury. From a point in the reign of Henry's grandson, these rolls become almost continuous, and reveal to us in detail many features of the financial system of these later times. This one record from the reign of the first Henry is a slender foundation for our knowledge of the financial organization of the kingdom, but from it we know with certainly that this organization had already begun as it was afterward developed.

It has already been said that the single organ of the feudal state, by which government in all its branches was carried on, was the curia regis. We shall find it difficult to realize a fact like this, or to understand how so crude a system of government operated in practice, unless we first have clearly in mind the fact that the men of that time did not reason much about their government. They did not distinguish one function of the state from another, nor had they yet begun to think that each function should have its distinct machinery in the governmental system. All that came later, as the result of experience, or more accurately, of the pressure of business. As yet, business and machinery both were undeveloped and undifferentiated. In a single session of the court advice might be given to the king on some question of foreign policy and on the making or revising of a law; and a suit between two of the king's vassals might be heard and decided: and no one would feel that work of different and somewhat inconsistent types had been done. One seemed as properly the function of the assembly as the other. In the composition of the court, and in the practice as to time and place of meeting, there was something of the same indefiniteness. The court was the king's. It was his personal machine for managing the business of his great property, the state. As such it met when and where the king pleased, certain meetings being annually expected; and it was composed of any persons who stood in immediate relations with the king, and whose presence he saw fit to call for by special or general summons, his vassals and the officers of his household or government. If a vassal of the king had a complaint against another, and needed the assistance of the king to enforce his view of the case, he might look upon his standing in the curia regis as a right; but in general it was a burden, a service, which could be demanded of him because of some estate or office which he held.

In the reign of the first Henry we can indeed trace the beginnings of differentiation in the machinery of government, but the process was as yet wholly unconscious. We find in this reign evidence of a large curia regis and of a small curia regis. The difference had probably existed in the two preceding reigns, but it now becomes more apparent because the increasing business of the state makes it more prominent. More frequent meetings of the curia regis were necessary, but the barons of the kingdom could not be in constant attendance at the court and occupied with its business. The large court was the assembly of all the barons, meeting on occasions only, and on special summons. The small court was permanently in session, or practically so, and was composed of the king's household officers and of such barons or bishops as might be in attendance on the king or present at the time. The distinction thus beginning was destined to lead to most important results, plainly to be seen in the constitution of to-day, but it was wholly unnoticed at the time. To the men of that time there was no distinction, no division. The small curia regis was the same as the larger; the larger was no more than the smaller. Who attended at a given date was a matter of convenience, or of precedent on the three great annual feasts, or of the desire of the king for a larger body of advisers about some difficult question of policy; but the assembly was always the same, with the same powers and functions, and doing the same business. Cases were brought to the smaller body for trial, and its decision was that of the curia regis. The king asked advice of it, and its answer was that of the council. The smaller was not a committee of the larger. It did not act by delegated powers. It was the curia regis itself. In reality differentiation of old institutions into new ones had begun, but the beginning was unperceived.

It was by a process similar to this that the financial business of the state began to be set off from the legislative and judicial, though it was long before it was entirely dissociated from the latter, and only gradually that the Exchequer Court was distinguished from the curia regis. The sheriffs, as the officers who collected the revenues of the king, each in his own county, were responsible to the curia regis. probably from early times the mechanical labour of examining and recording the accounts had been performed by subordinate officials; but any question of difficulty which arose, any disputed point, whether between the sheriff and the state or between the sheriff and the taxpayer, must have been decided by the court itself, though probably by the smaller rather than by the larger body. Certainly it is the small curia regis which has supervision of the matter when we get our first glimpse of the working of this machinery. Already at this date a procedure had developed for examining and checking the sheriff's accounts, which is evidently somewhat advanced, but which is interesting to us because still so primitive. Twice a year, at Easter and at Michaelmas, the court met for the purpose, under an organization peculiar to this work, and with some persons especially assigned to it; and it was then known as the Exchequer. The name was derived from the fact that the method of balancing accounts reminded one of the game of chess. Court and sheriff sat about a table of which the cloth was divided into squares, seven columns being made across the width of the cloth, and these divided by lines running through the middle along the length of the table, thus forming squares. Each perpendicular column of squares stood for a fixed denomination of money, pence, shillings, pounds, scores of pounds, hundreds of pounds, etc. The squares on the upper side of the table stood for the sum for which the sheriff was responsible, and when this was determined the proper counters were placed on their squares to set out the sum in visible form, as on an abacus. The squares of the lower side of the table were those of the sheriffs credits, and in them counters were placed to represent the sum for which the sheriff could submit evidence of payments already made. Such payments the sheriff was constantly making throughout the year, for fixed expenses of the state or on special orders of the king for supplies for the court, for transport, for the keeping of prisoners, for public works, and for various other purposes. The different items of debt and credit were noted down by clerks for the permanent record. When the account was over, a simple process of subtracting the counters standing in the credit squares from those in the debit showed the account balanced, or the amount due from the sheriff, or the credit standing in his favour, as the case might be.

At the Easter session of the court the accounts for the whole year were not balanced, the payment then made by the sheriff being an instalment on account, of about one-half the whole sum due for the year. For this he received a tally stick as a receipt, in which notches of different positions and sizes stood for the sum he had paid. A stick exactly corresponding was kept by the court, split off, indeed, from his, and the matching of the two at the Michaelmas session, when the year's account was finally closed, was the sheriff's proof of his former payment. The revenue of which the sheriff gave account in this way consisted of a variety of items. The most important was the firma comitatus, the farm or annual sum which the sheriff paid for his county as the farmer of its revenue. This was made up of the estimated returns from two sources, the rents from the king's lands in the county, and the share of the fines which went to the king from cases tried in the old popular courts of shire and hundred. The administration of justice was a valuable source of income in feudal days, whether to the king or to the lord who had his own court. But the fines which helped to make up the ferm of the county were not the only ones for which the sheriff accounted. He had also to collect, or at least in a general way to be responsible for, the fines inflicted in the king's courts as held in his county by the king's justices on circuits, and these were frequent in Henry's time. If a Danegeld or an aid was taken during the year, this must also be accounted for, together with such of the peculiarly feudal sources of income, ward-ships, marriages, escheats, etc., as were in the sheriffs hands. On the roll appear also numerous entries of fees paid by private persons to have their cases tried in the king's courts, or to have the king's processes or officers for the enforcement of their rights.

Altogether the items were almost as numerous as in a modern budget, but one chief source of present revenue, the customs duties, is conspicuously absent, and the general aspect of the system is far more that of income from property than in a modern state, even fines and fees having a personal rather than a political character. A careful estimate of all the revenue accounted for in this Pipe Roll of 1130 shows that Henry's annual income probably fell a little short of 30,000 English pounds in the money of that day, which should be equal in purchasing power, in money of our time, to a million and a half or two million pounds.26 This was a large revenue for the age. Henry knew the value of money for the ends he wished to accomplish, and though he accumulated large store of it, he spent it unsparingly when the proper time came. England groaned constantly under the heavy burden of his taxes, and the Pipe Roll shows us that there was ground for these complaints. The Danegeld, the direct land-tax, had been taken for some years before this date, with the regularity of a modern tax, and as it was taken at a rate which would make it in any age a heavy burden, we can well believe that it was found hard to bear in a time when the returns of agriculture were more uncertain than now, and when the frequently occurring bad seasons were a more serious calamity. Economically, however, England was well-to-do. She had enjoyed during Henry's reign a long age of comparative quiet. For nearly a generation and a half, as the lives of men then averaged, there had been no war, public or private, to lay waste any part of the land. In fact, since early in the reign of Henry's father, England had been almost without experience of the barbarous devastation that went with war in feudal days. Excessive taxation and licensed oppression had seemed at times a serious burden. Bad harvests and the hunger and disease against which the medieval man could not protect himself had checked the growth of wealth and population. Yet on the whole the nation had gained greatly in three generations.

Especially is this to be seen in the development of the towns, in the growth of a rich burgher class containing many foreign elements, Norman, Flemish, and Jewish, and living with many signs of comfort and luxury, as well as in the indications of an active and diversified commercial life. The progress of this portion of the nation, the larger portion in numbers but making little show in the annals of barons and bishops whose more dramatic activities it supported is marked in an interesting way by a charter granted by Henry to London, in the last years of his reign.27 His father had put into legal form a grant to the city, but it was not, strictly speaking, a city charter. It was no more than a promise that law and property should be undisturbed. Henry's charter goes much beyond this, though it tells us no more of the internal government of the city. In return for a rent of L300 a year, the king abandoned to the city all his revenues from Middlesex, and because he would have no longer any interest in the collection of these revenues the city might choose its own sheriff, and presumably collect them for itself. The king's pleas were surrendered, the city was to have its own justiciar, and to make this concession a real one, no citizen need plead in any suit outside the city walls. Danegeld and murder fines were also given up, and the local courts of the city were to have their regular sittings. Behind a grant like this must lie some considerable experience of self-government, a developed and conscious capacity in the citizens to organize and handle the machinery of administration. But of this there is no hint in the charter, nor do we know much of the inner government of London till some time later. Of the wealth and power of the city the charter speaks still more plainly, and of this there was to be abundant evidence in the period which follows the close of Henry's reign.

Henry's stay in England at this time was not long. Towards the end of the summer he returned to Normandy, though with what he was occupied there we have little knowledge. A disputed election to the papacy had taken place, and the pope of the reform party, Innocent II, had come to France, where that party was strong. The great St. Bernard, the most influential churchman of his time, had declared for him, and through his influence Henry, who met Innocent in January, 1131, recognized him as the rightful pope. In the following summer he returned to England, and brought back with him Matilda, who had now been two full years separated from her husband; but about this time Geoffrey thought better of his conduct, or determined to try the experiment of living with his wife again, and sent a request that Matilda be sent back to him. What answer should be given him was considered in a meeting of the great council at Northampton, September 8, almost as if her relationship with Geoffrey were a new proposition; and it was decided that she should go. A single chronicler records that Henry took advantage of this coming together of the barons at the meeting of the court to demand fealty to Matilda, both from those who had formerly sworn it and from those who had not.28 Such a fact hardly seems consistent with the same chronicler's record of the excuse of Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, for violating his oath; but if it occurred, as this repetition of the fealty was after Matilda's marriage with Geoffrey and immediately after a decision of the baronage that she should return to him, it would make the bishop's argument a mere subterfuge or, at best, an exception applying to himself alone. Matilda immediately went over to Anjou, where she was received with great honour.

Few things remain to be recorded of the brief period of life left to the king. He had been interested, as his brother had been, in the extension of English influence in Cumberland, and now he erected that county into a new bishopric of Carlisle, in the obedience of the Archbishop of York. On March 25, 1133, was born Matilda's eldest son, the future Henry II; and early in August the king of England crossed the channel for the last time, undoubtedly to see his grandson. On June 1, of the next year, his second grandson, Geoffrey, was born. A short time before, the long imprisonment of Robert of Normandy closed with his death, and the future for which Henry had so long worked must have seemed to him secure. But his troubles were not over. The medieval heir was usually in a hurry to enter into his inheritance, and Geoffrey of Anjou, who probably felt his position greatly strengthened by the birth of his son, was no exception to the rule. He demanded possessions in Normandy. He made little wars on his own account. Matilda, who seems now to have identified herself with her husband's interests, upheld his demands. Some of the Norman barons, who were glad of any pretext to escape from the yoke of Henry, added their support, especially William Talvas, the son of Robert of Bellême, who might easily believe that he had a long account to settle with the king. But Henry was still equal to the occasion. A campaign of three months, in 1135, drove William Talvas out of the country and brought everything again under the king's control, though peace was not yet made with his belligerent son-in-law. Then came the end suddenly. On November 25, Henry, still apparently in full health and vigour, planning a hunt for the next day, ate too heartily of eels, a favourite dish but always harmful to him, and died a week later, December 1, of the illness which resulted. Asked on his death-bed what disposition should be made of the succession, he declared again that all should go to Matilda, but made no mention of Geoffrey.

Henry was born in 1068, and was now past the end of his sixty-seventh year. His reign of a little more than thirty-five years was a long one, not merely for the middle ages, when the average of human life was short, but for any period of history. He was a man of unusual physical vigour. He had been very little troubled with illness. His health and strength were still unaffected by the labours of his life. He might reasonably have looked forward to seeing his grandson, who was now nearing the end of his third year, if not of an age to rule, at least of an age to be accepted as king with a strong regency under the leadership of Robert of Gloucester. A few years more of life for King Henry might have saved England from a generation that laboured to undo his work.

With the death of Henry I a great reign in English history closed. Considered as a single period, it does not form an epoch by itself. It is rather an introductory age, an age of beginnings, which, interrupted by a generation of anarchy, were taken up and completed by others. We are tempted to suspect that these others receive more credit for the completed result than they really deserve, because we know their work so well and Henry's so imperfectly. Certainly, we may well note this fact, that every new bit of evidence which the scholar from time to time rescues from neglect tends to show that the special creations for which we have distinguished the reign of Henry's grandson, reach further back in time than we had supposed. To this we may add the fact that, wherever we can follow in detail the action of the king, we find it the action of a man of political genius. Did we know as much of Henry's activity in government and administration as we do of the carrying out of his foreign policy, it is more than probable that we should find in it the clear marks of creative statesmanship. Not the least important of Henry's achievements of which we are sure was the peace which he secured and maintained for England with a strong and unsparing hand. More than thirty years of undisturbed quiet was a long period for any land in the middle ages, and during that time the vital process of union, the growing together in blood and laws and feeling of the two great races which occupied the land, was going rapidly forward.

Footnotes

[23] Gesta Stephani (Rolls Series), p. 10.

[24] William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum, sec. 452.

[25] Edited by Joseph Hunter and published by the Record Commission in 1833.

[26] Ramsay, Foundations of England, ii, 328.

[27] Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, 347 ff.

[28] W. Malm., Historia Novella, sec. 455, and cf. sec. 452.

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