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Henry the Second by Mrs. J. R. Green

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strife which lasted for seven hundred years was celebrated in this first
alliance of a Norman baron and an Irish chief. Richard and Diarmait
marched against Dublin, and its Danishin habitants were driven over sea.
In a few months their king, Hasculf, returned with a great fleet gathered
from Norway, the Hebrides, the Orkneys, Man,--the last fleet of Northmen
which descended on the British Isles,--but again the Normans won the day.

Henry meanwhile was watching nervously the progress of affairs. The war
was, no doubt, useful in withdrawing from Wales a restless and dangerous
baronage, and in the rebellion of 1174 the hostility of the border
barons would have been far more serious if the best warriors of Wales
had not been proving their courage on the plains of Ireland. But Henry
had no mind to break through his general policy by allowing a feudal
baronage to plant themselves by force of arms in Ireland, as they had in
earlier days settled themselves in northern England and on the Welsh
border. The death of Diarmait in 1171 brought matters to a crisis. By
Celtic law the land belonged to the tribe, and the people had the right
of electing their king. But the tribal system had long been forgotten by
the Normans, whose ancestors had ages before passed out of it into the
later stage of the feudal system; and by Norman law the kingdom of
Leinster would pass to Aeifi's husband and her children. Rights of
inheritance and rights of conquest were judiciously blended together,
and Richard assumed rule, not under the dangerous title of king, but as
"Earl of Leinster." The title was strange and unwelcome to Irish ears.
Among envious Norman rivals it did not hide the suspicion that Richard
was "nearly a king," and rumours reached Henry's ears that he was
conquering not only Leinster but other districts to which neither he nor
his wife had any right. Henry immediately confiscated all the earl's
lands in England, and ordered that all knights who had gone to Ireland
should return, on pain of forfeiture of their lands and exile. In vain
Strongbow's messengers hastened to him in France, and promised that the
earl would yield up all his conquests, "since from the munificence of
your kindness all proceeds." While they still anxiously followed the
Court from place to place came the sudden tidings of the archbishop's
murder, and before many months were over Henry was on his way to Ireland
to take its affairs into his own hands. Strongbow was summoned to meet
him, forced to full submission, and sent back to prepare the way before
the king.

In Ireland Henry had little to do save to enter into the labours of its
first conquerors. The Danes had been driven from the ports. The Irish
were broken and divided, and looked to him as their only possible ally
and deliverer from the tyranny, the martial law, the arbitrary executions,
which had marked the rough rule of the invaders. The terrified barons were
ready to buy their existence at any price. The leaders of the Church
welcomed him as the supporter of Roman discipline. Henry used all his
advantages. He consistently carried through the farce of arbitration.
The Wexford men brought to him Fitz-Stephen, whom they had captured, as
the greatest enemy to the royal majesty and the Irish people. Henry threw
him into prison, but as soon as he had won the smaller kings of the south
separately to make submission to him, and given the chief castles into the
hands of his own officers, he conciliated the knights by releasing
Fitz-Stephen. He spent the winter in Dublin, in a palace built of wattles
after the fashion of the country. There he received the homage of all the
kings of Leinster and Meath. Order, law, justice, took the place of
confusion. Dublin, threatened with ruin now the Danish traders were driven
off, was given to the men of Bristol to found a new prosperity. Its trade
with Chester was confirmed, and from all parts of England new settlers
came in numbers during the next few years to share in the privileges and
wealth which its commerce promised. A stately cathedral of decorated
Norman work rose on the site of an earlier church founded by the Ostmen.
It seemed as though the mere military rule of the feudal lords was to be
superseded under the king's influence by a wiser and more statesmanlike
occupation of the country. A great council was held at Cashel, where a
settlement was made of Church and State, and where Henry for the first
time published the Papal Bull issued by Hadrian fifteen years before. He
had won a position of advantage from whence to open a new bargain with
the Pope. In the moment of his deepest disgrace and peril he defiantly
showed himself before the world in all the glory of the first foreign
Conqueror and Lord of Ireland.

Henry's work, however, was scarcely begun when in March there came a
lull in the long winter storms, and a vessel made its way across the
waters of the Irish Sea. It brought grave tidings. Legates from the Pope
had reached Normandy, with powers only after full submission to absolve
the king; unless Henry quickly met them, all his lands would be laid
under interdict. Other heavy tidings came. Evil counsellors were
exciting the young king to rebellion. It was absurd, they said, to be
king, and to exercise no authority in the kingdom, and the boy was
willing enough to believe that since his coronation "the reign of his
father had expired." All Henry's plans in Ireland were at once thrown
aside. At the first break in the adverse winds he hastily set sail, and
for two hundred years no English king again set foot in Ireland. The
short winter's work was to end in utter confusion. The king's policy had
been to set up the royal justice and power, and to break the strength of
the barons by dividing and curtailing their interests. He had left them
without a leader. The growing power of Strongbow had been broken; Dublin
had been taken from him; the castles had all been committed to knights
appointed by the king. Quarrels and rivalries soon broke out. Raymond
the Fat became the recognized head of Nesta's descendants. In his
enormous frame, his yellow curly hair, his high-coloured cheery face,
his large gray eyes, we seethe type of the old Norse conquerors who had
once harried England; we recognize it too in his carelessness as to food
or clothing, his indifference to hardship, his prodigious energy, the
sleepless nights spent in wandering through his camp where his resounding
shouts awoke the sleeping sentinels, the enduring wrath which never forgot
an enemy. Richard's uncle, Hervey of Mount Moriss, led a rival faction in
the interests of Strongbow. The English garrison in Ireland was weakened
by the loss of troops which Henry was compelled to carry away with him.
The forces that remained, divided, thinned, discouraged, were left to
confront an Irish party united in a revived hope. No sooner did rebellion
break over England in the next year than the Irish with one accord rose in
revolt. The treasury was exhausted, and there was no payment for the
troops. A doubtful campaign went on in which the English, attacked now by
the Ostmen of the towns, now by the Irish, fought with very varying
success, but with prodigies of valour. They were reckless of danger,
heedless of the common safeguards of military precaution. When Henry heard
of Raymond's daring capture of Limerick in 1176, and then of his retreat,
he made one of his pithy "Great was the courage in attacking it, and yet
greater in the subduing of it, but the only wisdom that was shown was in
its desertion."

The rivalry of Raymond and Strongbow was at its height when, in 1176,
Earl Richard died; and to this day his burial-place in the Norman
Cathedral in Dublin, and that of his wife Aeifi, are marked by the only
sculptured tombs that exist of these first Norman conquerors of Ireland.
Others besides the king heard with joy the news that the great warrior
was dead. Richard's sister, who had been married to Raymond, had cast in
her lot with her lord. She sent a cautious despatch to her husband, who
was unable himself to read, and had to depend on the good offices of a
clerk. "Know, my dearest lord," wrote the prudent wife, "that that great
tooth which pained me so long has now fallen out, wherefore see that you
delay not your return." The watchful Henry, however, at once recalled
Raymond to England, and sent a new governor, Fitz-Aldhelm, to hold the
restless barons in check, till his son John, to whom he now proposed to
give the realm of Ireland, should be of age to undertake its government.
When Fitz-Aldhelm saw the magnificent troop of Raymond's cousins and
nephews, who had thrown aside all armour save shields, and, mounted on
splendid horses, dashed across the plain to display their feats of
agility and horsemanship, he muttered to his followers, "This pride I
will shortly abate, and these shields I will scatter." He was true to
his word. The fortunes of the knights of both parties indeed rapidly
declined; "those who had been first had to learn to be last;" their
lands were taken from them on every excuse, and they were followed by
the enmity and persecution of the king. For the next ten years the
history of the English in Ireland is a miserable record of ineffective
and separate wars undertaken by leaders each acting on his own account,
and of watchful jealousy on the part of Henry. A new governor was sent
in 1177 to replace Fitz-Aldhelm. Hugh de Lacy was no Norman. His black
hair, his deep-set black eyes, his snub nose, the scar across his face,
his thin ill-shapen figure, marked him out from the big fair Fitz-Geralds,
as much as did his "Gallican sobriety" and his training in affairs, for
in war he had no great renown. Perhaps it was some quick French quality
in him that won the love of the Irish. But Henry was suspicious and
uneasy. He was recalled in 1181 on the news that without the king's leave
he had married the daughter of the King of Connaught, and rumour added
that he had even made ready a diadem for himself. But his services were
so valuable that that same winter he was sent back, only to be again
recalled in 1184 and again sent back. At last in 1186, "as though fortune
had been zealous for the king of England," he was treacherously slain by
an Irishman, to Henry's "exceeding joy."

Meanwhile the king had in 1185 made a further attempt at a permanent
settlement of the distracted island. John was formally appointed king
over Ireland, and accompanied by Glanville, landed in Waterford on
the 25th of April. His coming with a new batch of Norman followers
completed the misfortunes of the first settlers. The Norman-Welsh
knights of the border had by painful experience learned among their
native woods and mountains how to wage such war as was needed in
Ireland-a kind of war where armour was worse than useless, where
strength was of less account than agility, where days and nights of cold
and starvation were followed by impetuous assaults of an enemy who never
stood long enough for a decisive battle, a war where no mercy was given
and no captives taken. On the other hand, their half Celtic blood had
made it easy for them to mingle with the Irish population, to marry and
settle down among them. But the followers of John were Norman and French
knights, accustomed to fight in full armour upon the plains of France;
and to add to a rich pay the richer profits of plunder and of ransom.
The seaport towns and the castles fell into the hands of new masters,
untrained to the work required of them. "Wordy chatterers, swearers of
enormous oaths, despisers of others," as they seemed to the race of
Nesta's descendants, the new rulers of the country proved mere plunderers,
who went about burning, slaying, and devastating, while the old soldiery
of the first conquest were despised and cast aside. Divisions of race
which in England had quite died out were revived in Ireland in their full
intensity; and added to the two races of the Irish and the Danes we now
hear of the three hostile groups into which the invaders were broken--the
Normans, the English, and the men of the Welsh border. To the new comers
the natives were simply barbarians. When the Irish princes came to do
homage, their insolent king pulled their long beards in ridicule; at the
outrage they turned their backs on the English camp, and the other kings
hearing their tale, refused to do fealty. Any allies who still remained
were alienated by being deprived of the lands which the first invaders had
left them. Even the newly-won Church was thrown into opposition by
interference with its freedom and plunder of its lands; the ancient custom
of carrying provisions to the churches for safe keeping in troubled times
was contemptuously ignored when a papal legate gave the English armies
leave to demand the opening of the church doors, and the sale of such
provisions as they chose to require. There were complaints too in the
country of the endless lawsuits that now sprang up, probably from the
infinite confusion that grew out of the attempt to override Irish by
English law. But if Glanville tried any legal experiments in Ireland,
his work was soon interrupted. Papal legates arrived in England at
Christmas 1186 to crown the King of Ireland with the crown of peacocks'
feathers woven with gold which the Pope himself had sent. But John never
wore his diadem of peacocks' feathers. Before it had arrived he had been
driven from the country.

Thus ended the third and last attempt in Henry's reign to conquer
Ireland. The strength and the weakness of the king's policy had alike
brought misery to the land. The nation was left shattered and bleeding;
its native princes weakened in all things save in the habits of treachery
and jealousy; its Danish traders driven into exile; its foreign conquerors
with their ranks broken, and their hope turned to bitterness. The natural
development of the tribal system was violently interrupted by the
half-conquest of the barons and the bringing in of a feudal system, for
which the Irish were wholly unprepared. But the feudal conquerors
themselves were only the remnants of a broken and defeated party, the
last upholders of a tradition of conquest and of government of a hundred
years earlier. Themselves trembling before the coming in of a new order of
things, they could destroy the native civilization, but they could set
nothing in its place. There remained at last only the shattered remnants
of two civilizations which by sheer force were maintained side by side.
Their fusion was perhaps impossible, but it was certainly rendered less
possible by the perplexed and arbitrary interferences of later rulers in
England, almost as foreign to the Anglo-Irish of the Pale as to the native
tribes who, axe in hand and hidden in bog and swamp and forest, clung
desperately to the ancient traditions and inheritance of their



All hope of progress, of any wise and statesmanlike settlement of
Ireland, utterly died away when, on Easter night, 16th April 1172, Henry
sailed from Wexford. The next morning he landed near St. David's. He
entered its gates as a pilgrim, on foot and staff in hand, while the
monks came out in solemn procession to lead him to the ancient church on
the other side of the river. Suddenly a Welsh woman sprang out from
among the crowd, and striking her hands together wildly, threw
herself at his feet crying with a loud voice, "Avenge us to-day,
Lechlavar! Avenge the people of this land!" The woman's bitter cry told
the first thought of all the thronging multitudes of eager Welshmen that
day, how Merlin had prophesied that an English king, the conqueror of
Ireland, should die on Lechlavar, a great stone which formed a rude
natural bridge across the stream, and round which the pagan superstitions
of an immemorial past still clung. When the strange procession reached the
river, Henry stood for a moment looking steadily at the stone, then with a
courage which we can scarcely measure, he firmly set his foot on it and
slowly crossed over; and from the other side, in the face of all the
people he turned and flung his taunt at the prophet, "Who will ever again
believe the lies of Merlin?" As he passed through Cardiff another omen met
him; a white-robed monk stood before him as he came out of church. "God
hold thee, Cuning!" he cried in the English tongue, and broke out into
passionate warnings of evil to come unless the king would show more
reverence to the Sunday, a matter about which there was at this time a
great stirring of religious feeling. "Ask this rustic," said Henry in
French to a knight who held his rein, "whether he has dreamed this." The
monk turned from the interpreter to the king and spoke again: "Whether I
have dreamed this or no, mark this day, for unless thou amendest thy life,
before this year has passed thou shalt hear such news of those thou lovest
best, and shalt win such sorrow from them, that it shall not fail thee
till thy dying day!"

From Wales Henry struck across England, "turning neither to right nor
left, and marching at a double pace." In a few days he was at Portsmouth.
To hinder further mischief the younger Henry was ordered to join him and
carried over sea; and the first news that reached Louis was the king's
arrival in Normandy. "The King of England," Louis cried in his amazement,
"is now in Ireland, now in England, now in Normandy; he may rather be said
to fly than go by horse or boat!" Henry hastened on his landing to meet
the legates. Negotiations were opened in May. Submission was inevitable,
for fear of the rebellion which was then actually brewing left him in fact
no choice of action. He agreed unreservedly to their demands. As an
earnest of repentance and reformation he consented to a new coronation of
his son; and on the 27th of August the young king was crowned again, along
with his wife, at Winchester. Henry completed his submission at Avranches
on the 27th of September. He swore that he had not desired the death of
Thomas, but to make satisfaction for the anger he had shown, he promised
to take the cross, to give funds to the Knights Templars for the defence
of Jerusalem, and to found three religious houses. He renounced the
Constitutions of Clarendon. He swore allegiance to Alexander against the
anti-Pope. He promised that the possessions of Canterbury should be
given back as they were a year before the flight of Thomas, and that his
exiled friends should be restored to their possessions. No king of
England had ever suffered so deep a humiliation. It seemed as thought he
martyr were at last victorious. A year after the murder, in December
1172, Canterbury cathedral was once more solemnly opened, amid the cries
of a vast multitude of people, "Avenge, O Lord, the blood which has been
poured out!" On the anniversary of the Christmas Day when Thomas had
launched his last excommunications, the excited people noted "a great
thunder sudden and horrible in Ireland, in England, and in all the
kingdoms of the French." Very soon mighty miracles were wrought by the
name of the martyr throughout the whole of Europe. The metal phials
which hung from the necks of pilgrims to the shrine of Canterbury became
as famous as the shell and palm branch which marked the pilgrims to
Compostella and Jerusalem. Before ten years were passed the King of
France, the Count of Nevers, the Count of Boulogne, the Viscount of
Aosta, the Archbishop of Reims, had knelt at his shrine among English
prelates, nobles, knights, and beggars. The feast of the Trinity which
Thomas had appointed to be observed on the anniversary of his consecration
spread through the whole of Christendom. Henry, in fact, had to bear the
full storm of scorn and hatred that falls on every statesman who stands in
advance of the public opinion of his day. But his seeming surrender at
Avranches won for the politic king immediate and decisive advantages. All
fear of excommunication and interdict had passed away. The clergy were no
longer alienated from him. The ecclesiastical difficulties raised by the
coronation, and the jealousies of Louis, were set at rest. The alliance
of the Pope was secured. The conquest of Ireland was formally approved.
Success seemed to crown Henry's scheme for the building up of his empire.
Britanny had been secured for Geoffrey in 1171; in June 1172 Richard was
enthroned as Duke of Aquitaine; in the following August Henry was crowned
for the second time King of England. Only the youngest child, scarcely
five years old, was still "John Lackland," and in this same year Henry
provided a dominion for John by a treaty of marriage between him and the
heiress of the Count of Maurienne. Her inheritance stretched from the Lake
of Geneva almost to the Gulf of Genoa; and the marriage would carry the
Angevin dominions almost from the Atlantic to the Alps, and give into
Henry's control every pass into Italy from the Great St. Bernard to the
Col di Tenda, and all the highways by which travellers from Geneva and
German lands beyond it, from Burgundy or from Gaul, made their way to Rome.
To celebrate such a treaty Henry forgot his thrift. The two kings of
England travelled with ostentatious splendour to meet the Count of
Maurienne in Auvergne in January 1173. The King of Aragon and the Count of
Toulouse met them at Montferrand, and a peace which Henry concluded
between Toulouse and Aragon declared the height of his influence. Raymond
bent at last to do homage for Toulouse, an act of submission which brought
the dominion of Anjou to the very border of the Mediterranean.

There was a wild outbreak of alarm among all Henry's enemies as from his
late humiliation he suddenly rose to this new height of power. The young
king listened eagerly to those who plotted mischief, and one night in
mid-Lent he fled to the court of Louis. In an agony of apprehension
Henry sought to close the breach, and sent messages of conciliation to
the French king. "Who sends this message to me?" demanded Louis. "The
King of England," answered the messengers. "It is false," he said;
"behold the King of England is here, and he sends no message to me by
you; but if you so call his father who once was king, know ye that he
asking is dead." The Counts of Flanders, of Boulogne, and of Blois,
joined the young king in Paris, and did homage to him for fiefs which he
bestowed on them--Kent, Dover, Eochester, lands in Lincolnshire, and
domains and castles in Normandy--while he won the aid of the Scot king
by granting him all Northumberland to the Tyne. The rebellion was
organized in a month. Eleanor sent Richard, commander of the forces of
Aquitaine, and Geoffrey, lord of Britanny, to take their share in the
revolt; she herself was hastening after them when she was seized and
thrown into prison. In Aquitaine, where the people impartially hated
both French and Normans, the enthusiasm for independence was stirred by
songs such as those of the troubadour, Bertrand de Born, lord of a
fortress and a thousand men, who "was never content, save when the kings
of the North were at war." In Normandy old hatreds had deepened year by
year as Henry had gone on steadily seizing castles and lands which had
fallen out of the possession of the crown. In 1171 he had doubled the
revenue of the duchy by lands which the nobles had usurped. In 1172 he
had alarmed them by having a new return made of the feudal tenures for
purposes of taxation. The great lords of the duchy with one consent
declared against him. Britanny sprang to arms. If Maine and Anjou
remained fairly quiet, there was in both of them a powerful party of
nobles who joined the revolt. The rebel party was everywhere increased
by all who had joined the young king, "not because they thought his the
juster cause," but in fierce defiance of a rule intolerable for its
justice and its severity. England was no less ready for rebellion. The
popular imagination was still moved by the horror of the archbishop's
murder. The generation that remembered the miseries of the former
anarchy was now passing away, and to some of the feudal lords order
doubtless seemed the greater ill. The new king too had lavished promises
and threats to win the English nobles to his side. "There were few
barons in England who were not wavering in their allegiance to the king,
and ready to desert him at any time." The more reckless eagerly joined
the rebellion; the more prudent took refuge in France, that they might
watch how events would go; there was a timid and unstable party who held
outwardly to the king in vigilant uncertainty, haunted by fears that
they should be swept away by the possible victory of his son. Such
descendants of the Normans of the Conquest as had survived the rebellions
and confiscations of a hundred years were eager for revenge. The Earl of
Leicester and his wife were heirs of three great families, whose power had
been overthrown by the policy of the Conqueror and his sons. William of
Aumale was descended from the Count who had claimed the throne in the
Conqueror's days, and bitterly remembered the time before Henry's
accession, when he had reigned almost as king in Northern England.
Hugh of Puiset, Bishop of Durham, whose diocese stretched across
Northumberland, and who ruled as Earl Palatine of the marchland between
England and Scotland; the Earl of Huntingdon, brother of the Scot king;
Roger Mowbray, lord of the castles of Thirsk and Malessart north of York,
and of a strong castle in the Isle of Axholm; Earl Ferrers, master of
fortresses in Derby and Stafford; Hugh, Earl of Chester and Lord of Bayeux
and Avranches, joined the rebellion. So did the old Hugh Bigod, Earl of
Norfolk, who had already fought and schemed against Henry in vain twenty
years before. The Earls of Clare and Gloucester on the Welsh border were
of very doubtful loyalty. Half of England was in revolt, and north
of a line drawn from Huntingdon to Chester the king only held a few
castles--York, Richmond, Carlisle, Newcastle, and some fortresses of
Northumberland. The land beyond Sherwood and the Trent, shut off by an
almost continuous barrier of marsh and forest from the south, was still
far behind the rest of England in civilization. The new industrial
activity of Yorkshire was not yet forty years old; in a great part of
the North money-rents had scarcely crept in, and the serfs were still
toiling on under the burden of labour-dues which had been found
intolerable elsewhere. The fines, the taxes, the attempt to bring its
people under a more advanced system of government must have pressed very
hardly on this great district which was not yet ready for it; and to the
fierce anger of the barons, and the ready hostility of the monasteries,
was perhaps added the exasperation of freeholder and serf.

Henry, however, was absolute master of the whole central administration
of the realm. Moreover, by his decree of the year before he had set over
every shire a sheriff who was wholly under his own control, trained in
his court, pledged to his obedience, and who had firm hold of the
courts, the local forces, and the finances. The king now hastened to
appoint bishops whom he could trust to the vacant sees. Geoffrey, an
illegitimate son who had been born to him very early, probably about the
time when he visited England to receive knighthood, was sent to Lincoln;
and friends of the king were consecrated to Winchester, Ely, Bath,
Hereford, and Chichester. Prior Richard of Dover, a man "laudably
inoffensive who prudently kept within his own sphere," was made Archbishop
of Canterbury. Richard de Lucy remained in charge of the whole kingdom as
justiciar. The towns and trading classes were steadfast in loyalty, and
the baronage was again driven, as it had been before, to depend on foreign

War first broke out in France in the early summer of 1173. Normandy and
Anjou were badly defended, and their nobles were already half in revolt,
while the forces of France, Flanders, Boulogne, Chartres, Champagne,
Poitou, and Britanny were allied against Henry. The counts of Flanders
and Boulogne invaded Normandy from the north-east, and the traitor Count
of Aumale, the guardian of the Norman border, gave into their hands his
castles and lands. Louis and Henry's sons besieged Verneuil in the
south-west. To westward the Earl of Chester and Ralph of Fougeres
organized a rising in Britanny. In "extreme perplexity," utterly unable
to meet his enemies in the field, Henry could only fortify his frontier,
and hastily recall the garrison which he had left in Ireland, while he
poured out his treasure in gathering an army of hired soldiers. Meanwhile
he himself waited at Rouen, "that he might be seen by all the people,
bearing with an even mind whatever happened, hunting oftener than usual,
showing himself with a cheerful face to all who came, answering patiently
those who wished to gain anything from him; while those whom he had
nourished from days of childhood, those whom he had knighted, those who
had been his servants and his most familiar counsellors, night by night
stole away from him, expecting his speedy destruction and thinking the
dominion of his son at once about to be established." Never did the kings
show such resource and courage as in the campaign that followed. The Count
of Boulogne was killed in battle, and the invading army in the north-east
hesitated at the unlucky omen and fell back. Instantly Henry seized his
opportunity. He rode at full speed to Verneuil with his army, a hastily
collected mob of chance soldiers so dissatisfied and divided in allegiance
that he dared not risk a battle. An audacious boast saved the crafty king.
"With a fierce countenance and terrible voice" he cried to the French
messengers who had hurried out to see if the astounding news of his
arrival were true, "Go tell your king I am at hand as you see!" At the
news of the ferocity and resolution of the enemy, Louis, "knowing him to
be fierce and of a most bitter temper, as a bear robbed of its whelps
rages in the forest," hastily retreated, and Henry, as wise a general
as he was excellent an actor, fell back to Rouen. Meanwhile he sent to
Britanny a force of Brabantines, whom alone he could trust. They
surrounded the rebels at Dol; and before Henry, "forgetting food and
sleep" and riding "as though he had flown," could reach the place, most
of his foes were slain. The castle where the rest had taken refuge
surrendered, and he counted among his prisoners the Earl of Chester,
Ralph of Fougeres, and a hundred other nobles. The battle of Dol
practically decided the war. It seemed vain to fight against Henry's
good luck. A few Flemings once crossed the Norman border, and were
defeated and drowned in retreat by the bridge breaking. "The very
elements fight for the Normans!" cried the baffled and disheartened
Louis. "When I entered Normandy my army perished for want of water, now
this one is destroyed by too much water." In despair he sought to save
himself by playing the part of mediator; and in September Henry met his
sons at Gisors to discuss terms of peace. His terms were refused and the
meeting broke up; but Henry remained practically master of the situation.

Meanwhile in England the rebellion had broken out in July. The Scottish
army ravaged the north; the Earl of Leicester, with an army of Flemings
which he had collected by the help of Louis and the younger Henry,
landed on the coast of Suffolk, where Hugh Bigod was ready to welcome
him. De Lucy and Bohun hurried from the north to meet this formidable
danger, and with the help of the Earls of Cornwall, Arundel, and
Gloucester, they defeated Leicester in a great battle at Fornham on the
17th of October. The earl himself was taken prisoner, and 10,000 of his
foreign troops were slain. He and his wife were sent by Henry's orders
to Normandy, and there thrown into prison. A truce was made with
Scotland till the end of March. The king of France and the younger Henry
abandoned hope, "for they saw that God was with the king;" and there
was a general pause in the war.

With the spring of 1174, however, the strife raged again on all sides.
Ireland rose in rebellion. William of Scotland marched into England
supported by a Flemish force. Roger Mowbray, and probably the Bishop of
Durham, were in league with him. Earl Ferrers fortified his castles in
Derby and Stafford; Leicester Castle was still held by the Earl of
Leicester's knights; Huntingdon by the Scot king's brother; and the Earl
of Norfolk was joined in June by a picked body of Flemings. The king's
castles at Norwich, Northampton, and Nottingham, were taken by the rebels,
and a formidable line of enemies stretched right across mid-England.
At the same time France and Flanders threatened invasion with a strong
fleet, and "so great an army as had not been seen for many years." Count
Philip, who had set his heart on the promised Kent, and on winning
entrance into the lands of the Cistercian wool-growers of Lincolnshire,
swore before Louis and his nobles that within fifteen days he would attack
England; the younger Henry joined him at Gravelines in June, and they only
waited for a fair wind to cross the Channel.

The justiciars were in an extremity of despair. "Seeing the evil that
was done in the land," they anxiously sent messenger after messenger to
the king. But Henry had little time to heed English complaints. Richard
had declared war in Aquitaine; Maine and Anjou were half in revolt;
Louis was on the point of invading Normandy. As a last resource his
hard-pressed ministers sent Richard of Ilchester, the bishop-elect of
Winchester, whom they knew to be favoured by the king beyond all others,
to tell him again of "the hatred of the barons, the infidelity of the
citizens, the clamour of the crowd always growing worse, the greed of
the 'new men,' the difficulty of holding down the insurrection." "The
English have sent their messengers before, and here comes even this
man!" laughed the Normans; "what will be left in England to send after
the king save the Tower of London!" Richard reached Henry on the 24th of
June, and on the same day Henry abandoned Normandy to Louis' attack, and
made ready for return. "He saw that while he was absent, and as it were
not in existence, no one in England would offer any opposition to him
who was expected to be his successor;" and he "preferred that his lands
beyond the sea should be in peril rather than his own realm of England."
Sending forward a body of Brabantines, he followed with his train of
prisoners--Queen Eleanor, Queen Margaret and her sister Adela, the
Earls of Chester and of Leicester, and various governors of castles whom
he carried with him in chains. In an agony of anxiety the king watched
for a fair wind till the 7th of July. At last the sails were spread; but
of a sudden the waves began to rise, and the storm to grow ominously.
Those who watched the face of the king saw him to be in doubt; then he
lifted his eyes to heaven and prayed before them all, "If I have set
before my eyes the things which make for the peace of clergy and people,
if the King of heaven has ordained that peace shall be restored by my
arrival, then let Him in His mercy bring me to a safe port; but if He is
against me, and has decreed to visit my kingdom with a rod, then let me
never touch the shores of the land."

A good omen was granted, and he safely reached Southampton. Refusing
even to enter the city, and eating but bread and water, he pressed
forward to Canterbury. At its gates he dismounted and put away from him
the royal majesty, and with bare feet, in the garb of a pilgrim and
penitent, his footsteps marked with blood, he passed on to the church.
There he sought the martyr's sepulchre, and lying prostrate with
outstretched hands, he remained long in prayer, with abundance of tears
and bitter groanings. After a sermon by Foliot the king filled up the
measure of humiliation. He made public oath that he was guiltless of the
death of the archbishop, but in penitence of his hasty words he prayed
absolution of the bishops, and gave his body to the discipline of rods,
receiving three or five strokes from each one of the seventy monks. That
night he prayed and fasted before the shrine, and the next day rode
still fasting to London, which he reached on the 14th. Three days later
a messenger rode at midnight to the gate of the palace where the king
lay ill, worn out by suffering and fatigue for which the doctors had
applied their usual remedy of bleeding. He forced his way to the door of
the king's bedchamber. "Who art thou?" cried the king, suddenly startled
from sleep. "I am the servant of Ranulf de Glanville, and I come to
bring good tidings."--"Ranulf our friend, is he well?"--"He is well, my
lord, and behold he holds your enemy, the King of Scots, captive in
chains at Richmond." The king was half stunned by the news, but as the
messenger produced Glanville's letter, he sprang from his bed, and in a
transport of emotion and tears, gave thanks to God, while the joyful
ringing of bells told the good news to the London citizens.

Two great dangers, in fact, had passed away while the king knelt before
the shrine at Canterbury. On that very day the Scottish army had been
broken to pieces. In the south the fleet which lay off the coast of
Flanders had dispersed. On the 18th of July, the day after the good news
had come, Henry himself marched north with the army that had been
gathered while he lay ill. Before a week was over Hugh Bigod had yielded
up his castles and banished his Flemish soldiers. The Bishop of Durham
secretly sent away his nephew, the Count of Bar, who had landed with
foreign troops. Henry's Welsh allies attacked Tutbury, a castle of the
Earl of Ferrers. Geoffrey, the bishop-elect of Lincoln, had before
Henry's landing waged vigorous war on Mowbray. By the end of July the
whole resistance was at an end. On the last day of the month the king
held a council at Northampton, at which William of Scotland stood before
him a prisoner, while Hugh of Durham, Mowbray, Ferrers, and the officers
of the Earl of Leicester came to give up their fortresses. The castles
of Huntingdon and Norfolk were already secured. The suspected Earls of
Gloucester and of Clare swore fidelity at the King's Court. Scotland was
helpless. A treaty was made with the Irish kings. Wales was secured by a
marriage between the prince of North Wales and Henry's sister.

But there was still danger over sea, where the armies of the French and
the Flemings had closed round Rouen. On the 8th of August, exactly a
month after his landing at Southampton, Henry again crossed the Channel
with his unwieldy train of prisoners. As he stood under the walls of
Rouen, the besieging armies fled by night. Louis' fancy already showed
him the English host in the heart of France, and in his terror he sought
for peace. The two kings concluded a treaty at Gisors, and on the 30th
of September the conspiracy against Henry was finally dissolved. His
sons did homage to him, and bound themselves in strange medieval fashion
by the feudal tie which was the supreme obligation of that day; he was
now "not only their father, but their liege lord." The Count of Flanders
gave up into Henry's hands the charter given him by the young king. The
King of Scotland made absolute submission in December 1174, and was sent
back to his own land. Eleanor alone remained a close prisoner for years
to come.

The revolt of 1173-74 was the final ruin of the old party of the Norman
baronage. The Earl of Chester got back his lands, but lost his castles,
and was sent out of the way to the Irish war; he died before the king in
1181. Leicester humbly admitted "that he and all his holdings were at
the mercy of the king," and Henry "restored to him Leicester, and the
forest which by common oath of the country had been sworn to belong to
the king's own domain, for he knew that this had been done for envy, and
also because it was known that the king hated the earl;" but Henry had a
long memory, and the walls of Leicester were in course of time thrown
down and its fortifications levelled. The Bishop of Durham had to pay
200 marks of silver for the king's pardon, and give up Durham Castle. At
the death of Hugh Bigod in 1177 Henry seized the earl's treasure. The
Earls of Clare and Gloucester died within two years, and the king's son
John was made Gloucester's heir. The rebel Count of Aumale died in 1179,
and his heiress married the faithful Earl of Essex, who took the title
of Aumale with all the lands on both sides of the water. In 1186 Roger
Mowbray went on crusade. The king took into his own hands all castles,
even those of "his most familiar friend," the justiciar De Lucy. The
work of dismantling dangerous fortresses which he had begun twenty years
before was at last completed, and no armed revolt of the feudal baronage
was ever again possible in England.

But the rebellion had wakened in the king's mind a deep alarm, which
showed itself in a new severity of temper. Famine and plague had fallen
on the country; the treasury was well nigh empty; law and order were
endangered. Henry hastened to return as soon as his foreign campaign was
over, and in May 1175 "the two kings of England, whom a year before the
breadth of the kingdom could not contain, now crossed in one ship, sat
at one table, and slept in one bed." In token of reconciliation with the
Church they attended a synod at Westminster, and went together on solemn
pilgrimage to the martyr's tomb. Then they made a complete visitation of
the whole kingdom. Starting from Reading on the 1st of June, they went
by Oxford to Gloucester, then along the Welsh border to Shrewsbury,
through the midland counties by Lichfield and Nottingham to York, and
then back to London, having spent on their journey two months and a few
days; and in autumn they made a progress through the south-western
provinces. At every halt some weighty business was taken in hand. The
Church was made to feel anew the royal power. Twelve of the great abbeys
were now without heads, and the king, justly fearing lest the monks
should elect abbots from their own body, "and thus the royal authority
should be shaken, and they should follow another guidance than his own,"
sent orders that on a certain day chosen men should be sent to elect
acceptable prelates at his court and in his presence. The safety of the
Welsh marches was assured. The castle of Bristol was given up to the
king, and border barons and Welsh princes swore fidelity at Gloucester.
An edict given at Woodstock ordered that no man who during the war had
been in arms against the king should come to his court without a special
order; that no man should remain in his court after the setting of the
sun, or should come to it before the sun rising; in the England that lay
west of the Severn, none might carry bow and arrow or pointed knife. In
this wild border district the checks which prevailed elsewhere against
violent crime were unknown. The outlaw or stranger who fled to forest or
moorland for hiding, might lawfully be slain by any man who met him. No
"murder-fine" was known there. The king, not daring perhaps to interfere
with the "liberties" of the west, may have sought to check crime by this
order against arms; but such a law was practically a dead letter, for in
a land where every man was the guardian of his own life it was far more
perilous to obey the new edict than to disregard it.

The king's harsh mood was marked too by the cruel prosecutions of
offences against forest law which had been committed in the time of the
war. The severe punishments were perhaps a means of chastizing is affected
landowners; they were certainly useful in filling the empty treasury.
Nobles and barons everywhere were sued for hunting or cutting wood or
owning dogs, and were fined sometimes more than their whole possessions
were worth. In vain the justiciar, De Lucy, pleaded for justice to men
who had done these things by express orders of the king given to De Lucy
himself; "his testimony could prevail nothing against the royal will."
Even the clergy were dragged before the civil courts, "neither archbishop
nor bishop daring to make any protest." The king's triumph over the
rebellion was visibly complete when at York the treaty which had been made
the previous year with the King of Scotland was finally concluded, and
William and his brother did homage to the English sovereigns. A few weeks
later Henry and his son received at Windsor the envoys of the King of
Connaught, the only one of the Irish princes who had till now refused

In the Church as in the State the royal power was unquestioned. A papal
legate arrived in October, who proved a tractable servant of the king;
"with the right hand and the left he took gifts, which he planted
together in his coffers". His coming gave Henry opportunity to carry out
at last through common action of Church and State his old scheme of
reforms. In the Assize of Northampton, held in January 1176, the king
confirmed and perfected the judicial legislation which he had begun ten
years before in the Assize of Clarendon. The kingdom was divided into
six circuits. The judges appointed to the circuits were given a more
full independence than they had before, and were no longer joined with
the sheriffs of the counties in their sessions, their powers were
extended beyond criminal jurisdiction to questions of property, of
inheritance, of wardship, of forfeiture of crown lands, of advowsons to
churches, and of the tenure of land. For the first time the name of
Justitiarii Itinerantes was given in the Pipe Roll to these travelling
justices, and the anxiety of the king to make the procedure of his
courts perfectly regular, instead of depending on oral tradition, was
shown by the law books which his ministers began at this time to draw
up. As a security against rebellion, a new oath of fealty was required
from every man, whether earl or villein, fugitives and outlaws were to
be more sharply sought after, and felons punished with harsher cruelty.
"Thinking more of the king than of his sheep," the legate admitted
Henry's right to bring the clergy before secular courts for crimes
against forest law, and in various questions of lay fiefs; and agreed
that murderers of clerks, who till then had been dealt with by the
ecclesiastical courts, should bear the same punishment as murderers of
laymen, and should be disinherited. Religious churchmen looked on with
helpless irritation at Henry's first formal victory over the principles
of Thomas; in the view of his own day he had "renewed the Assize of
Clarendon, and ordered to be observed the execrable decrees for which
the blessed martyr Thomas had borne exile for seven years, and been
crowned with the crown of martyrdom."

During the next two years Henry was in perpetual movement through the
land from Devon to Lincoln, and between March 1176 and August 1177 he
summoned eighteen great councils, besides many others of less consequence.
From 1178 to 1180 he paid his last long visit to England, and again with
the old laborious zeal he began his round of journeys through the
country. "The king inquired about the justices whom he had appointed, how
they treated the men of the kingdom; and when he learned that the land and
the subjects were too much burthened with the great number of justices,
because there were eighteen, he elected five--two clerks and three
laymen--all of his own household; and he ordered that they should hear
all appeals of the kingdom and should do justice, and that they should not
depart from the King's Court, but should remain there to hear appeals, so
that if any question should come to them they should present it to the
audience of the king, and that it should be decided by him and by the wise
men of the kingdom." The _Justices of the Bench_, as they were called,
took precedence of all other judges. The influence of their work was soon
felt. From this time written records began to be kept of the legal
compromises made before the King's Court to render possible the
transference of land. It seems that in 1181 the practice was for the
first time adopted of entering on rolls all the business which came to
the King's Court, the pleas of the Crown and common pleas between
subjects. Unlike in form to the great Roll of the Pipe, in which the
records of the Exchequer Court had long been kept, the Plea Rolls
consisted of strips of parchment filed together by their tops, on which,
in an uncertain and at first a blundering fashion, the clerks noted down
their records of judicial proceedings. But practice soon brought about an
orderly and mechanical method of work, and the system of procedure in the
Bench rapidly attained a scientific perfection. Before long the name of
the _Curia Regis_ was exclusively applied to the new court of appeal.

The work of legal reform had now practically come to an end. Henry
indeed still kept a jealous watch over his judges. Once more, on the
retirement of De Lucy in 1179, he divided the kingdom into new circuits,
and chose three bishops--Winchester, Ely, and Norwich--"as chief
justiciars, hoping that if he had failed before, the seat least he might
find steadfast in righteousness, turning neither to the right nor to the
left, not oppressing the poor, and not deciding the cause of the rich
for bribes." In the next year he set Glanville finally at the head of
the legal administration. After that he himself was called to other
cares. But he had really finished his task in England. The mere system
of routine which the wisdom of Henry I. had set to control the arbitrary
power of the king had given place to a large and noble conception of
government; and by the genius of Henry II. the law of the land was
finally established as the supreme guardian of the old English liberties
and the new administrative order.



In the years that followed the Assize of Northampton Henry was at the
height of his power. He was only forty-three, and already his triumph
was complete. One of his sons was King of England, one Count of Poitou,
one Lord of Britanny, one was named King of Ireland. His eldest daughter,
wife of the Duke of Saxony, was mother of a future emperor, the second
was Queen of Castile, the third was in 1176 married to William of Sicily,
the wealthiest king of his time. All nations hastened to do honour to so
great a potentate. Henry's counselors were called together to receive,
now ambassadors from Sicily, now the envoys of the Emperors both of the
East and of the West, of the Kings of Castile and Navarre, and of the
Duke of Saxony, the Archbishop of Reims, and the Count of Flanders.

In England the king's power knew no limits. Rebellion had been finally
crushed. His wife and sons were held in check. He had practically won a
victory over the Church. Even in renouncing the Constitutions of
Clarendon at Avranches Henry abandoned more in word than in deed. He
could still fall back on the law of the land and the authority which he
had inherited from the Norman kings. Since the Conqueror's days no Pope
might be recognized as Apostolic Pope save at the king's command; no
legate might land or use any power in England without the king's
consent; no ecclesiastical senate could decree laws which were not
authorized by the king, or could judge his servants against his will.
The king could effectually resist the introduction of foreign canon law;
he could control communications with Rome; he could stay the proceedings
of ecclesiastical courts if they went too far, or prejudiced the rights
of his subjects; and no sentence could be enforced save by his will.
Henry was strong enough only six years after the death of Thomas to win
control over a vast amount of important property by insisting that
questions of advowson should be tried in the secular courts, and that
the murderers of clerks should be punished by the common law. He was
able in effect to prevent the Church courts from interfering in secular
matters save in the case of marriages and of wills. He preserved an
unlimited control over the choice of bishops. In an election to the see
of St. David's the canons had neglected to give the king notice before
the nomination of the bishop. He at once ordered them to be deprived of
their lands and revenues. "As they have deprived me," he said, "of all
share in the election, they shall have neither part nor lot in this
promotion." The monks, stricken with well-founded terror, followed the
king from place to place to implore his mercy and to save their livings;
with abject repentance they declared they would accept whomsoever the
king liked, wherever and whenever he chose. Finally Henry sent them a
monk unknown to the chapter, who had been elected in his chamber, at his
bedside, in the presence of his paid servants, and according to his
orders, "after the fashion of an English tyrant," and who had then and
there raised his tremulous and fearful song of thanksgiving. Towards the
close of his reign there was again a dispute as to the election of an
Archbishop of Canterbury. The monks, under Prior Alban, were determined
that the election should lie with them. The king was resolved to secure
the due influence of the bishops, on whom he could depend. "The Prior
wanted to be a second Pope in England," he complained to the Count of
Flanders, to which his affable visitor replied that he would see all the
churches of his land burned before he would submit to such a thing. For
three months the strife raged between the convent and the bishops in
spite of the king's earnest efforts at reconciliation. "Peace is by all
means to be sought," he urged. "He was a wise man who said, 'Let peace
be in our days'. For the sake of God choose peace, as much as in you lies
follow after peace" "The voice of the people is the voice of God," he
argued in proposing at last that bishops and monks should sit together
for the election. "But this he said," observed the monks, "knowing the
mind of the bishops, and that they sought rather the favour of the king
than of God, as their fathers and predecessors had done, who denied
St. Anselm for Rufus, who forsook Theobald for King Stephen, who rejected
the holy martyr Thomas for King Henry." Henry, however, won the day, and
his friend and nominee, the good Bishop Baldwin of Worcester, singular for
piety and righteousness, was set in the Primate's chair. Of this
archbishop we read that "his power was so great and so formidable that no
one was equal to him in all England, and without his pleasure no one would
dare even to obey the commands of the Pope.... But," adds the irritated
chronicler, "I think that he would do nothing save at the orders of the
king, even if the Apostle Peter came to England about it."

In the opinion of anxious critics of the day, indeed, the victory which
had been almost won by Thomas seemed altogether lost after his death.
Even the monasteries, where the ecclesiastical temper was most formidable,
were forced to choose abbots and priors whom the king could trust. In its
subjection the Church was in Henry's eyes an admirable engine to serve the
uses of the governing power. One of the most important steps in the
conquest of Wales had been the forcing of the Welsh Church into obedience
to the see of Canterbury; and Henry steadily used the Welsh clergy as
instruments of his policy. His efforts to draw the Scotch Church into a
like obedience were unceasing. In Ireland he worked hard for the same
object. On the death of an Archbishop of Dublin, the Irish clergy were
summoned to Evesham, and there bidden in the king's court, after the
English fashion, to choose an Englishman, Cumin, as their archbishop.
The claims of the papacy were watched with the most jealous care. No
legate dared to land in England save at the king's express will. A
legate in Ireland who seemed to "play the Roman over them" was curtly
told by the king's officers that he must do their bidding or leave the
country. In 1184 the Pope sent to ask aid for his necessities in Rome.
A council was called to consider the matter, and Glanville urged that
if papal messengers were allowed to come through England collecting money,
it might afterwards become a custom to the injury of the kingdom. The
Council decided that the only tolerable solution of the difficulty was for
the king to send whatever he liked to the Pope as a gift from himself, and
to accept afterwards from them compensation for what he might have given.

The questions raised by the king between Church and State in England had
everywhere to be faced sooner or later. Even so devoted a servant of the
Church as St. Louis of France was forced into measures of reform as
far-reaching as those which Henry had planned a century earlier. But
Henry had begun his work a hundred years too soon; he stood far before
his age in his attempt to bring the clergy under a law which was not
their own. His violence had further hindered the cause of reform, and
the work which he had taken in hand was not to be fully carried out till
three centuries and a half had passed away. We must remember that in
raising the question of judicial reform he had no desire to quarrel with
the Church or priesthood. He refused indeed to join in any fanatical
outbreak of persecution of the Jews, such as Philip of France consented
to; and when persecution raged against the Albigenses of the south he
would have no part or lot in it, and kept his own dominions open as a
refuge for the wandering outcasts; but this may well have been by the
counsel of the wise churchmen about him. To the last he looked on the
clergy as his best advisers and supporters. He never demanded tribute
from churches or monasteries, a monkish historian tells us, as other
princes were wont to do on plea of necessity; with religious care he
preserved them from unjust burthens and public exactions. By frequent
acts of devotion he sought to win the favour of Heaven or to rouse the
religious sympathies of England on his behalf. In April 1177 he met at
Canterbury his old enemy, the Archbishop of Reims, and laid on the
shrine of St. Thomas a charter of privileges for the convent. On the 1st
of May he visited the shrine of St. Eadmund, and the next day that of
St. Aetheldreda at Ely. The bones of a saint stolen from Bodmin were
restored by the king's order, and on their journey were brought to
Winchester that he might do them reverence. Relics discovered by
miraculous vision were buried with pomp at St. Albans. Since his vow
four years before at Avranches to build three monasteries for the
remission of his sins, he had founded in Normandy and England four or
five religious houses for the Templars, the Carthusians, and the Austin
canons; he now brought nuns from Fontevraud, for whom he had a special
reverence, and set them in the convent at Amesbury, whose former
inhabitants were turned out to make way for them; while the canons of
Waltham were replaced by a stricter order of Austin canons. A templar
was chosen to be his almoner, that he might carry to the king the
complaints of the poor which could not come to his own ears, and
distribute among the needy a tenth of all the food and drink that came
into the house of the king.

It is true that on Henry himself the strife with the Church left deep
traces. He became imperious, violent, suspicious. The darker sides of
his character showed themselves, its defiance, its superstition, its
cynical craft, its passionate pride, its ungoverned wrath. His passions
broke out with a reckless disregard of earlier restraints. Eleanor was a
prisoner and a traitor; she was nearly fifty when he himself was but
forty-one. From this time she practically disappeared out of Henry's
life. The king had bitter enemies at court, and they busied themselves
in spreading abroad dark tales; more friendly critics could only plead
that he was "not as bad as his grandfather." After the rebellion of 1174
he openly avowed his connection with Rosamond Clifford, which seems to
have begun some time before. Eleanor was then in prison, and tales of
the maze, the silken clue, the dagger, and the bowl, were the growth of
later centuries. But "fair Rosamond" did not long hold her place at
court. She died early and was carried to Godstowe nunnery, to which rich
gifts were sent by her friends and by the king himself. A few years
later Hugh of Lincoln found her shrine before the high altar decked with
gold and silken hangings, and the saintly bishop had the last finery of
Rosamond swept from the holy place, till nothing remained but a stone
with the two words graven on it, "Tumba Rosamundae."

But behind Henry's darkest and sternest moods lay a nature quick in
passionate emotion, singularly sensitive to affection, tender, full of
generous impulse, clinging to those he loved with yearning fidelity and
long patience. The story of St. Hugh shows the unlimited influence won
over him by a character of singular holiness. Henry had brought Hugh
from Burgundy, and set him over a newly-founded Cistercian priory at
Witham. The little settlement was in sore straits, and the impatient
monks railed passionately at the king, who had abandoned them in their
necessities. It was just after the rebellion, and Henry, hard pressed by
anxiety, was in his harshest and most bitter temper. "Have patience,"
said Hugh, "for the king is wise beyond measure and wholly inscrutable;
it may be that he delays to grant our request that he may try us." But
brother Girard was not to be soothed, and in a fresh appeal to the king
his vehemence broke out in a torrent of reproaches and abuse. Henry
listened unmoved till the monk ceased from sheer lack of words. There
was dead silence for a time, while Prior Hugh bent down his head in
distress, and the king watched him under his eyelids. At last, taking no
more notice of the monk than if he never existed, Henry turned to Hugh,
"What are you thinking of, good man?" he said. "Are you preparing to go
away and leave our kingdom?" Hugh answered humbly and gently, "I do not
despair of you so far, my lord; rather I have great sorrow for the
troubles and labours which hinder the care for your soul. You are busy
now, but some day, when the Lord helps, we will finish the good work
begun." At this the king's self-control broke down; his tears burst
forth as he fell on Hugh's neck, and cried with an oath, "By the
salvation of my soul, while you have the breath of life you shall not
depart from my kingdom! With you I wilt hold wise counsel, and with you
I will take heed for my soul!" From that time there was none in the
kingdom whom Henry loved and trusted as he did the Prior of Witham, and
to the end of his life he constantly sought in all matters the advice of
one who gave him scant flattery and much sharp reproof. The coarse-fibred,
hard-worked man of affairs looked with superstitious reverence on one who
lived so near to God that even in sleep his lips still moved in prayer.
Such a man as Hugh could succeed where Thomas of Canterbury had failed.
He excommunicated without notice to the king a chief forester who had
interfered with the liberties of the Lincoln clergy, and bluntly refused
to make amends by appointing a royal officer to a prebend in his
cathedral, saying that "benefices were for clergy and not for courtiers."
A general storm of abuse and calumny broke out against him at the palace.
Henry angrily summoned him to his presence. The bishop was received by the
king in an open space under the trees, where he sat with all the courtiers
ranged in a close circle. Hugh drew near and saluted, but there was no
answer. Upon this the bishop put his hand lightly on the noble who sat
next to the king, and made place for himself by Henry's side. Still the
silence was unbroken, the king speechless as a furious man choked with his
anger. Looking up at last, he asked a servant for needle and thread, and
began to sew up a torn bandage which was tied round a wounded finger. The
lively Frenchman observed him patiently; at last he turned to the king,
"How like you are now," he said, "to your cousins of Falaise!" The king's
quick wit caught the extravagant impertinence, and in an ecstasy of
delight he rolled on the ground with laughter, while a perplexed merriment
ran round the circle of courtiers who scarce knew what the joke might be.
At last the king found his voice. "Do you hear the insolence of this
barbarian? I myself will explain." And he reminded them of his ancestress,
the peasant girl Arlotta of Falaise, where the citizens were famous for
their working in skins. "And now, good man," he said, turning to the
bishop in a broad good-humour, "how is it that without consulting us you
have laid our forester under anathema, and made of no account the poor
little request we made, and sent not even a message of explanation or
excuse?"--"Ah," said Hugh, "I knew in what a rage you and your
courtiers were!" and he then proceeded boldly to declare what were his
rights and duties as a bishop of the Church of God. Henry gave way on
every point. The forester had to make open satisfaction and was publicly
flogged, and from that time the bishop was no more tormented to set
courtiers over the Church. There were many other theologians besides
Hugh of Lincoln among the king's friends--Baldwin, afterwards archbishop;
Foliot, one of the chief scholars of his time; Richard of Ilchester, as
learned in theology as capable in administration; John of Oxford, lawyer
and theologian; Peter of Blois, ready for all kinds of services that might
be asked, and as skilled in theology as in rhetoric. Henry was never known
to choose an unworthy friend; laymen could only grumble that he was
accustomed to take advice of bishops and abbots rather than that of
knights even about military matters. But theology was not the main
preoccupation of the court. Henry, inquisitive in all things, learned
in most, formed the centre of a group of distinguished men which, for
varied intellectual activity, had no rival save at the university of
Paris. There was not a court in Christendom in the affairs of which the
king was not concerned, and a crowd of travellers was for ever coming and
going. English chroniclers grew inquisitive about revolutions in Norway,
the state of parties in Germany, the geography of Spain. They copied
despatches and treaties. They asked endless questions of every traveller
as to what was passing abroad, and noted down records which have since
become authorities for the histories of foreign states. Political and
historical questions were eagerly debated. Gerald of Wales and Glanville,
as they rode together, would discuss why the Normans had so fallen away in
valour that now even when helped by the English they were less able to
resist the French than formerly when they stood alone. The philosophic
Glanville might suggest that the French at that time had been weakened by
previous wars, but Gerald, true to the feudal instincts of a baron of the
Norman-Welsh border, spoke of the happy days before dukes had been made
into kings, who oppressed the Norman nobles by their overbearing violence,
and the English by their insular tyranny; "For there is nothing which so
stirs the heart of man as the joy of liberty, and there is nothing which
so weakens it as the oppression of slavery," said Gerald, who had himself
felt the king's hand heavy on him.

One of the most striking features of the court was the group of great
lawyers which surrounded the king. The official nobility trained at the
Exchequer and Curia Regis, and bound together by the daily work of
administering justice, formed a class which was quite unknown anywhere
on the continent. It was not till a generation later that a few clerks
learned in civil law were called to the king's court of justice in
France, and the system was not developed till the time of Louis IX.; in
Germany such a reform did not take place for centuries. But in England
judges and lawyers were already busied in building up the scientific
study of English law. Richard Fitz-Neal, son of Bishop Nigel of Ely and
great-nephew of Roger of Salisbury, and himself Treasurer of the
Exchequer and Bishop of London, began in 1178 the _Dialogus de Scaccario_,
an elaborate account of the whole system of administration. Glanville,
the king's justiciar, drew up probably the oldest version which we have
of the Conqueror's laws and the English usages which still prevailed in
the inferior jurisdictions. A few years later he wrote his _Tractatus de
Legibus Angliae_, which was in fact a handbook for the Curia Regis, and
described the new process in civil trials and the rules established by the
Norman lawyers for the King's Court and its travelling judges. Thomas
Brown, the king's almoner, besides his daily record of the king's doings,
left behind him an account of the laws of the kingdom.

The court became too a great school of history. From the reign of Alfred
to the end of the Wars of the Roses there is but one break in the
contemporary records of our history, a break which came in the years
that followed the outbreak of feudal lawlessness. In 1143 William of
Malmesbury and Orderic ceased writing; in 1151 the historians who had
carried on the task of Florence of Worcester also ceased; three years
later the Saxon Chronicle itself came to an end, and in 1155 Henry of
Huntingdon finished his work. From 1154 to 1170 we have, in fact, no
contemporary chronicle. In the historical schools of the north compilers
had laboured at Hexham, at Durham, and in the Yorkshire monasteries to
draw together valuable chronicles founded on the work of Baeda; but in
1153 the historians of Hexham closed their work, and those of Durham in
1161. Only the monks of Melrose still carried on their chronicle as far
as 1169. The great tradition, however, was once more worthily taken up
by the men of Henry's court, kindled by the king's intellectual activity.
A series of chronicles appeared in a few years, which are unparalleled in
Europe at the time. At the head of the court historians stood the
treasurer, Richard Fitz Neal, the author of the _Dialogus_, who in 1172
began a learned work in three columns, treating of the ecclesiastical,
political, and miscellaneous history of England in his time--a work which
some scholars say is included in the _Gesta Henrici II_ that was once
connected with the name of Benedict of Peterborough. The king's clerk
and justiciar, Roger of Hoveden, must have been collecting materials for
the famous Chronicle which he began very soon after Henry's death, when
he gathered up and completed the work of the Durham historians. Gervase
of Tilbury, marshal of the kingdom of Arles, well known in every great
town of Italy and Sicily, afterwards the writer of _Otia Imperialia_ for
the Emperor Otto IV., wrote a book of anecdotes, now lost, for the younger
King Henry. Gerald of Wales, a busy courtier, and later a chaplain of the
king, was the brilliant historian of the Irish conquest and the mighty
deeds of his cousins, the Fitz Geralds and Fitz Stephens. "In process of
time when the work was completed, not willing to hide his candle under a
bushel, but to place it on a candlestick that it might give light to all,
he resolved to read it publicly at Oxford, where the most learned and
famous English clergy were at that time to be found. And as there were
three distinctions or divisions in the work, and as each division occupied
a day, the reading lasted three successive days. On the first day he
received and entertained at his lodgings all the poor of the town, on the
next day all the doctors of the different faculties and such of their
pupils as were of fame and note, on the third day the rest of the scholars
with the _milites_, townsmen, and many burgesses. It was a costly and noble
act; the authentic and ancient times of poesy were thus in some measure
renewed, and neither present nor past time can furnish any record of
such a solemnity having ever taken place in England."

Literature was shaking itself free from the limits imposed upon it while
it lay wholly in the hands of churchmen, and Gerald's writings, the
first books of vivacious and popular prose-writing in England, were
avowedly composed for "laymen and uneducated princes," and professed to
tell "the doings of the people." He declared his intention to use common
and easily understood words as he told his tales of Ireland and Wales,
of their physical features, their ways and customs, and with a literary
instinct that knew no scruple, added scandal, gossip, satire, bits of
folk-lore or of classical learning or of Bible phrases, which might
serve the purposes of literary artifice or of frank conceit. The
independent temper which had been stirred by the fight with the Church
was illustrated in his _Speculum Ecclesiae_, a bitter satire on the
monks and on the Roman Curia. A yet more terrible scorn of the crime and
vice which disgraced the Church inspired the _Apocalypse_ and the
_Confession of Bishop Goliath_, the work of Walter Map, Archdeacon of
Oxford, king's chaplain ever since the days when Becket was chancellor,
justiciar, ambassador, poet, scholar, theologian, satirist. The greater
part of the legends of the Saint Graal that sprang out of the work of
Robert de Boron were probably woven together by his genius; and were
used in the great strife to prove that the English Church originated
independently of Rome. His _Courtier's Triflings_, suggested by John of
Salisbury's _Polycraticus_, is the only book which actually bears his
name, and with its gossip, its odd accumulations of learning, its
fragments of ancient history, its outbursts of moral earnestness, its
philosophy, brings back to us the very temper of the court and the stir
and quickening of men's minds--a stir which found expression in other
works of bitter satire, in the lampoon of _Ralph Niger_, and in the
violent attacks on the monks by _Nigellus_.

Nor was the new intellectual activity confined to the court. The whole
country shared in the movement. Good classical learning might be had in
England, if for the new-fashioned studies of canon law and theology men
had to go abroad; but conservative scholars grumbled that now law and
physics had become such money-making sciences that they were beginning
to cut short the time which used to be given to classical studies.
Gerald of Wales mourned over the bringing in from Spain of "certain
treatises, lately found and translated, pretended to have been written
by Aristotle," which tended to foster heresy. The cathedral schools,
such as York, Lincoln, or London, played the part of the universities in
our own day. The household of the Archbishop of Canterbury had been the
earliest and the most distinguished centre of learning. Of all the
remarkable men of the day there was none to compare with John of
Salisbury, the friend of Theobald and of Becket, and his book, the
__Polycraticus_ (1156-59), was perhaps the most important work of the
time. It begins by recounting the follies of the court, passes on to the
discussion of politics and philosophy, deals with the ethical systems of
the ancients, and hints at a new system of his own, and is everywhere
enriched by wide reading and learning acquired at the schools of
Chartres and Paris London could boast of the historian Ralph of Diceto,
always ready with a quotation from the classics amid the court news and
politics of his day. Monasteries rivaled one another in their collection
of books and in drawing up of chronicles. If their brethren were more
famed for piety than for literary arts, they would borrow some noted man
of learning, or even a practised scribe, who would for the occasion
write under a famous name. The friends and followers of Becket told
on every side and in every way, in prose or poetry, in Latin or
Norman-French, the story of their master's martyrdom and miracles. The
greatest historian of his day, William of Newburgh, was monk in a quiet
little Yorkshire monastery. Gervase, a monk of Canterbury, began the
Chronicle that bears his name in 1185. The historical workers of Durham,
of Hexham, and of Melrose started into a new activity. A canon of the
priory of St. Bartholomew's in London wrote before Henry's death a life of
its founder Rahere, and noted the first cases received into the hospital.
Joseph of Exeter, brother of Archbishop Baldwin, was the brilliant author
of a Latin poem on the _Troy Story_, and of a poetic history of the first
crusade. There was scarcely a religious house in the whole land which
could not boast of some distinction in learning or literature.

Even the feudal nobles caught the prevailing temper. A baron was not
content to have only his household dwarf or jester, he must have his
household poet too. Intellectual interest and curiosity began to spread
beyond the class of clerks to whom Latin, the language of learning and
worship, was familiar, and a demand began to spring up for a popular
literature which could be understood of the unlearned baron or burgher.
Virgil and Statius and Ovid were translated into French. Wace in 1155
dedicated to Eleanor his translation into Norman-French of the _History
of Geoffrey of Monmouth_, a book which came afterwards to be called the
_Brut d'Engleterre_, and was one of the sources of the first important
English poem, Layamon's _Brut_. Later on, in honour of Henry, Wace told
in the _Roman de Rou_ the story of his Norman ancestors, and the poem,
especially in the account of Senlac, has given some brilliant details to
history. Other Norman-French poems were written in England on the
rebellion, on the conquest of Ireland, on the life of the martyred
Thomas--poems which threw off the formal rules of the stilted Latin
fashion, and embodied the tales of eye-witnesses with their graphic
brief descriptions. An Anglo-Norman literature of song and sermon fast
grew up, absolutely identical in tongue with the Norman literature
beyond the Channel, but marked by special characteristics of thought and
feeling. Meanwhile English, as the speech of the common folk, still
lived on as a tongue apart, a tongue so foreign to judges and barons and
Courtiers that authors or transcribers could not copy half a dozen
English lines without a mistake. The serfs and traders who spoke it were
too far removed from the upper court circle to take into their speech
foreign words or foreign grammatical forms; the songs which their
minstrels sang from fair to fair only lived on the lips of the poor, and
left no echo behind them.



In the last nine years of Henry's reign his work lay elsewhere than in
his English kingdom. They were years spent in a passionate effort to
hold together the unwieldy empire he had so laboriously built up. On the
death of Louis in 1180 the peaceful and timid traditions of his reign
were cast aside by the warlike Philip, who had from childhood cherished
a violent hatred against Henry, and who was bent on the destruction of
rival powers, and the triumph of the monarchy in France. Henry's
absorbing care, on the other hand, was to prevent war; and during the
next four years he constantly forced reconciliation on the warring
princes of France. "All who loved peace rejoiced at his coming," the
chroniclers constantly repeat. "He had faith in the Lord, that if he
crossed over he could make peace." "As though always at his coming peace
should certainly be made."

But in Britanny and in Aquitaine there was no peace. The sons whom he
had set over his provinces had already revolted in 1173. In 1177 fresh
troubles broke out, and from that time their history was one of unbroken
revolt against their father and strife amongst themselves. "Dost thou
not know," Geoffrey once answered a messenger of his father's, sent to
urge him to peace, "that it is our proper nature, planted in us by
inheritance from our ancestors, that none of us should love the other,
but that ever brother should strive against brother, and son against
father. I would not that thou shouldst deprive us of our hereditary
right, nor vainly seek to rob us of our nature!" In 1182 Henry sought
once more to define the authority of his sons, and to assert the unity
of the Empire under his own supremacy by ordering Richard and Geoffrey
to do homage to their brother for Aquitaine and Britanny. Richard's
passionate refusal struck the first open blow at his father's imperial
schemes, and war at once broke out. The nobles of Aquitaine, weary of
the severe rule of Richard, had long plotted to set in his place his
gentler brother Henry, and the young king, along with Geoffrey, lent
himself openly to the conspiracy. In 1183 they called for help from
Flanders, France, and Normandy, and a general revolt seemed on the point
of breaking out, like that of ten years before. Henry II. was forced to
march himself into Aquitaine. But in a war with his sons he was no
longer the same man as when he fought with French king or rebel barons.
His political sagacity and his passionate love of his children fought an
unequal battle. Duped by every show of affection, he was at their mercy
in intrigue. Twice peaceful embassies, which he sent to Henry and
Geoffrey, were slain before their eyes without protest. As he himself
talked with them they coolly saw one of their archers shoot at him and
wound his horse. The younger Henry pretended to make peace with his
father, sitting at meat with him, and eating out of the same dish, that
Geoffrey might have time to ravage the land unhindered. Geoffrey
successfully adopted the same device in order to plunder the churches of
Limoges. The wretched strife was only closed at last by the death of the
younger Henry in 1183.

His death, however, only opened new anxieties. Richard now claimed to
take his brother's place as heir to the imperial dignity, while at the
same time he exercised undivided lordship over an important state a
position which the king had again and again refused to Henry. Geoffrey,
whose over-lord the young king had been, sought to rule Britanny as a
dependent of Philip, and his plots in Paris with the French king were
only ended by his death in 1185. Philip, on his part, demanded, at the
death of the young king, the restoration of Margaret's dowry, the Vexin
and Gisors; when Geoffrey died he claimed to be formally recognized as
suzerain of Britanny, and guardian of his infant; he demanded that
Richard should do homage directly to him as sovereign lord of Aquitaine,
and determined to assert his rights over the lands so long debated of
Berri and Auvergne. For the last years of Henry's reign disputes raged
round these points, and more than once war was only averted by the
excitement which swept over Europe at the disastrous news from the Holy

After the death of the young king a precarious peace was established in
Aquitaine, and Henry returned to England. In March 1185 he received at
Reading the patriarch of Jerusalem and the master of the Hospital,
bearing the standard of the kings of the Holy Land, with the keys of the
Holy Sepulchre, of the tower of David, and of the city of Jerusalem.
"Behold the keys of the kingdom," said the patriarch Heracles with a
burst of tears, "which the king and princes of the land have ordered me
to give to thee, because it is in thee alone, after God, that they have
hope and confidence of salvation." The king reverently received them
before the weeping assembly, but handed them back to the safekeeping of
the patriarch till he could consult with his barons. He had long been
pledged to join the holy war; he had renewed his vow in 1177 and 1181.
But it was a heavy burden to be now charged with the crown of Jerusalem.
Since the days of his grandfather, Fulk of Anjou, the last strong king
of Jerusalem, there had been swift decay. Three of his successors were
minors; Antone was a leper; the fifth was repudiated by every one of his
vassals. The last forty years had been marked by continual disaster. The
armies of the Moslem were closing in fast on every side. A passion of
sympathy was everywhere roused by the sorrows of the Holy City. All
England, it was said, desired the crusade, and Henry's prudent counting
of the cost struck coldly on the excited temper of the time. Gerald of
Wales officiously took on himself, in the middle of a hunting party, to
congratulate the king on the honour done to him and his kingdom, since
the patriarch had passed by the lands of emperors and kings to seek out
the English sovereign. Talk of this kind before all the court at such a
critical moment much displeased the prudent king, and he answered in his
biting way, "If the patriarch, or any other men come to me, they seek
rather their own than my gain." The unabashed Gerald still went on,
"Thou shouldst think it thy highest gain and honour, king, that thou
alone art chosen before all the sovereigns of the earth for so great a
service to Christ." "Thus bravely," retorted Henry, "the clergy provoke
us to arms and dangers, since they themselves receive no blow in the
battle, nor bear any burden which they may avoid!"

Henry's council, however, held firm against the general tide of romantic
enthusiasm. In the weighty question of the eastern crown the king had
formally and openly pledged himself to act by the advice of his wise
men, as no king before him since the Conquest had ever done. An assembly
was summoned at Clerkenwell on the 18th of March. No councillors were
called from Anjou or Normandy or Aquitaine; the decision was made solely
by the advice of the prelates and barons of England. "It seemed to all,"
declared the council, "to be more fitting, and more for the safety of
his soul, that he should govern his kingdom with moderation and preserve
it from the irruptions of barbarians and from foreign nations, than that
he should in his own person provide for the safety of the eastern
nations." The verdict showed the new ideal of kingship which had grown
up during Henry's reign, and which made itself deeply felt over the
whole land when in the days of his successor the duties of righteous
government were thrown aside for the vainglories of religious chivalry.
But the patriarch heard the answer with bitter disappointment, and was
not appeased by promises of money and forces for the war. "Not thus will
you save your soul nor the heritage of Christ," he declared. "We come to
seek a king, not money; for every corner of the world sends us money,
but not one a prince." And in open court he flung his fierce prophecy at
the king, that as till now he had been greatest among the kings of the
earth, so henceforth, forsaken by God and destitute of His grace, until
his latest breath his glory should be turned into disaster and his
honour into shame. Henry, as he rode with the patriarch back to Dover,
listened with his strange habitual forbearance while Heraclius poured
forth angry reproaches for the iniquities of his whole life, and
declared at last that he had almost with his own hands slain St. Thomas.
At this the king fiercely turned, with his eyes rolling in a mad storm
of passion, and the patriarch bent his head. "Do with me," he cried,
"what you did to Thomas. I would rather have my head cut off by you in
England than by the Saracens in Palestine, for in truth you are worse
than any Saracen!" The king answered with an oath, "If all the men of my
kingdom were gathered in one body and spoke with one mouth they would
not dare to say this to me." Heraclius pointed scornfully to the train
of followers. "Do you indeed think that these men love you--these who
care only for your wealth? It is the plunder, and not the man, that this
crowd follows after!" Henry spoke of the danger from his sons if he
should quit his dominions. "No wonder," was the parting taunt of
Heraclius; "from the devil they came, and to the devil they will go."

But Henry was never to come back to England. One day in June a certain
Walter of the royal household was terrified by a vision of St. Thomas,
who appeared bearing a shining sword which he declared had been newly
forged to pierce through the king himself. Walter hurried to the chapel,
where Henry was at mass, to tell his tale. Three times the king bent
before the altar and signed himself devoutly as though he prayed to the
Lord, and then passed to his council chamber. The next day he called
Walter to his presence, and sadly shaking his head, spoke with deep
sighs, "Walter, Walter, I have felt how cruelly thy sword can strike,
for we have lost Chateauroux!" War had in fact broken out in Aquitaine.
Toulouse had risen against Richard. Philip, in violation of his treaty,
invaded Berri and marched into Auvergne. Hastily gathering an army,
Henry crossed to France in a terrible storm. He met Philip at Gisors on
the 30th of September, but after three days' bitter strife the kings
parted. In November they met again at Bonmoulins in the presence of the
Archbishop of Reims, and a great multitude of courtiers and knights.
Richard, outraged by the rumour that Henry proposed to give Aquitaine to
John, turned suddenly to Philip, while the people crowded round wondering,
ungirt his sword, and stretched out his hands to do homage to him for all
his father's lands from the Channel to the Pyrenees. His unhappy father
started back, stunned by this new calamity, "for he had not forgotten the
evil which Henry his son had done to him with the help of King Louis, and
this Philip was yet worse than his father Louis." As father and son fell
apart the people rushed together, while at the tumult the outer ring of
soldiers laid their hands upon their swords, and thus Philip and Richard
went out together, leaving Henry alone.

A great solitude had indeed fallen on the old king. His wife was still
guarded as a prisoner. Two of his sons had died traitors to their
father. A third was in open rebellion. All his daughters were in far-off
lands, and one of them was soon to die. Only one son remained to him of
all his household, and to him Henry now clung with a great love--the
fierce tenacity of an affection that knew no other hope. The king
himself was only fifty-six; but he was already an old man, worn out by
the prodigious labours and anxieties of forty years. There were moments
when a passionate despair settled down on his soul. One day he called
his two friends, Baldwin and Hugh, out from the crowd of courtiers to
ride beside him, and the bitterness of his heart broke forth, "Why
should I revere Christ!" he cried, "why should I think Him worthy of
honour who takes from me all honour in my lands, and suffers me to be
thus shamefully confounded before that camp follower?" as he called the
king of France. Then, as if beside himself, he struck spurs into his
horse, and dashed back again into the throng of courtiers.

In the eyes of the world, however, Henry was still the most renowned
among the kings of the earth in his unassailable triumph and success.
For forty years his reign had been one long triumph. From every difficulty
conquered he had gained new strength; every rebellion had left him more
unquestioned master. He had never yet known defeat. The Church was now
earnest in his support. Papal legates won for him a truce of two months
after the conference at Bonmoulins, and when at its close Britanny broke
out in revolt, and Richard led an army against his father's lands, the
legates again procured peace till after Easter. From February to June of
1189 Henry waited at Le Mans, still confident, it would seem, of peace.
Once more legates were appointed to bring about a settlement between the
two kings at La Ferte Bernardon the 4th of June. With a fierce outburst
of anger Henry passionately refused the demands of Philip. The legate
threatened to lay France under an interdict if Philip persisted in war,
but Philip only retorted that the Roman Church had no right to interfere
between the king of France and his rebel vassals, and added with a sneer
that the cardinals already smelt English gold. Then at last Henry
abandoned the hope of peace. His treasury was empty, and his lands on both
sides of the water had been taxed to the last penny. His troops had melted
away in search of more abundant pay. He was shut in between hostile
forces--Breton rebels to westward, and the allied armies of Philip and
Richard to eastward. The danger roused his old defiant energy. Glanville
hurried to England "to compel all English knights, however exhausted and
poor, to cross to France," while the king himself, with a few faithful
barons and a small body of mercenaries, fell back on Le Mans, swearing
that he would never forsake the citizens of the town where he had
been born.

The French army, however, followed hard after him. On the 9th of June
Philip and Richard halted fifteen miles off Le Mans, on the 11th of June
they encamped under its walls. The next day they broke through the
handful of troops who desperately held the bridge. A wealthy suburb
which could no longer be defended was set on fire, so that it should not
give shelter to the enemy, the wind swept the flames into the city, and
Henry saw himself shut in between the burning town and the advancing
Frenchmen. Then for the first time in his life he turned his back upon
his enemies. At the head of 700 horsemen he rode out over a bridge to
the north, and fled towards Normandy. As he mounted the spur of a hill
two miles off, he turned to look at the flames that rose from the city,
and in the bitterness of his humiliation he cursed God--"The city which
I have loved best on earth, the city in which I was born and bred, where
my father lies buried, where is the body of Saint Julian--this Thou, O
God, to the heaping up of my confusion, and to the increase of my shame,
hast taken from me in this base manner! I therefore will requite as best
I can; I will assuredly rob Thee too of the thing in me which Thou
lovest best!"

For twenty miles the king, with his son Geoffrey the chancellor, and a
few faithful followers, rode furiously under the burning sun through
narrow lanes and broken roads till knights sank and died on the way.
Once he was only saved from capture by the breaking of a bridge over a
stream which was too deep for the pursuers to ford. Once Count Richard
himself followed so hard upon them that he came up with the flying
troop. William the marshal turned and raised his lance. "God's feet,
marshal, do not kill me!" cried Richard; "I have no hauberk!" William
struck his spear into the count's horse, so that it fell dead. "No, I
will not kill you. Let the devil kill you!" he shouted with a fierce
memory of the old prophecy. By nightfall Henry reached La Frenaye,
within a day's ride of the Norman border. He threw himself on a bed,
refusing to be undressed, and would scarcely allow Geoffrey to cover him
with his own cloak. The next morning he sent his friends forward into
Normandy to gather its forces and renew the war. But he himself, in
spite of all prayers and warnings, declared that he would go back to
Anjou. His passionate emotion threw aside all cold calculations of
reason. Every fortress on the way was in the hands of enemies; hostile
armies were pressing in on every side; the roads were held by foreign
troops,--French and Poitevin, Flemish mercenaries and Breton rebels--as
the stricken king rode through the forests and along the trackways he
had learned to know as a hunter in earlier days. Never had his indomitable
will, his romantic daring, been so great as in this last desperate ride to
reach the home of his race. He started on the 13th of June. Before the end
of the month Geoffrey had hurried back from Normandy, and together they
went to Chinon.

Henry was now shut in on every side. Poitou and Britanny were both in
revolt. The forts along the Sarthe, the Loir, and the Loire had fallen
into the hands of Philip. On the 30th of June his army was seen under
the walls of Tours. Henry himself was on the same day suddenly struck
down by fever; unable to meet the French king, he fell back down the
river to Saumur. The great French princes, aghast at the swift catastrophe
which had fallen, men scarcely knew how, on the Angevin king, trembling
lest in this strange victory of the French monarchy his ruin should be the
beginning of their own destruction, made a last effort for peace. But
Philip stood firm, "seeing that God had delivered his enemy into his
hand." On Monday, the 3d of July, the walls of Tours fell before his
assault, and he sent a final summons to Henry to meet him at Colombieres,
a field near Tours. The king travelled as far as the house of the Templars
at Ballan. But there he was seized with intolerable agony in every nerve
of his body from head to foot. Leaning for support against a wall in his
extreme anguish, he called to him William the marshal, and the pitying
bystanders laid him on a bed. News of his illness was carried to the
French camp. But Richard felt no touch of pity. His father was but
feigning some excuse to put off the meeting, he told Philip; and a
message was sent back commanding him to appear on the next day. The sick
king again called the marshal, and prayed him at whatever labour to carry
him to the conference. "Cost what it may," he vowed, "I will grant
whatever they ask to get them to depart. But this I tell you of a surety,
if I can but live I will heal the country from war, and win my land back
again." With a final effort of his indomitable will he rode on the 4th of
July through the sultry summer heat to Colombieres. The great assembly
gathered to witness the triumph of France was struck with horror at the
marks of suffering on his face, and Philip himself, moved by a sudden
pity, called for a cloak to be spread on the ground on which the king
might sit. But Henry's fierce temper flashed out once more; he would not
sit, he said; even as he was he would hear what they asked of him, and why
they cut short his lands. Then Philip stated his demands. Henry must do
homage, and place himself wholly at the French king's mercy to do whatever
he should decree. Richard must receive, as Henry's heir, the fealty of the
barons of the lands on both sides the sea. A heavy sum was to be paid to
Philip for his conquests in Berri. Richard and Philip were to hold Le Mans
and Tours, and the other castles of Maine and Touraine, or else the
castles of the Vexin, until the treaty was completely carried out. Henry's
barons were to swear that they would force him to observe these terms.

As Henry hesitated for a moment at these crushing demands, a sudden
terrible thunder broke from the still air. Both kings fell back with
superstitious awe, for there had been no warning cloud or darkness.
After a little space they again went forward, and again out of the
serene sky came a yet louder and more awful peal. Henry, half fainting
with suffering, was only prevented from falling to the ground by the
friends who held him up on horseback while he made his submission to his
rival and accepted the terms of peace. Then for the last time he spoke
with his faithless son Richard. As the formal kiss of peace was given,
the count caught his father's fierce whisper, "May God not let me die
until I have worthily avenged myself on thee!" The terrible words were
to Richard only a merry tale, with which on his return he stirred the
French court to great laughter.

Henry was carried back the same day in a litter to Chinon. So sudden and
amazing a downfall was to the superstitious terror of the time, evident
token that the curse of Thomas had come to rest on him. The vengeance of
the implacable martyr seemed to follow him through every act of the
great drama. In Philip's scornful refusal to allow Henry to swear
obedience, "saving his honour and the dignity of his kingdom," the
zealots of the day saw a just retribution. At Chinon a deputation of
monks from Canterbury met him. "Trusting that in his affliction he might
pity the affliction of the Church," and grant demands long urged by the
convent, they had sought him out, "going through swords." "The convent
of Canterbury salutes you as their lord," they began, as they forced
their way into the sick king's presence. Henry broke in with bitter
indignation, "Then lord I have been, and am still, and will be yet--small
thanks to you, ye evil traitors!" he added in a lower voice, which just
caught the ears of the furious monks. But he listened patiently to their
complaint. "Now go out," he said, "I will speak with my faithful
servants." As the monks passed out one of them stopped and laid his curse
on the king, who trembled and grew pale at the terrible words. "The
omnipotent God of His ineffable mercy, and for the merits of the blessed
martyr Thomas, if his life and passion has been well pleasing to Him,
will shortly do us justice on thy body." Tortured with suffering, Henry
still summoned strength for his last public act. He called his clerk and
dictated a letter to Canterbury, to urge patience till his return, when
he would consider their complaint and find a way out of the difficulty.
The same evening his chancellor, whom he had sent to Philip at Tours,
returned with the list of those who had conspired against him Henry bade
him read the names. "Sire," he said, "may Jesus Christ help me! the first
name which is written here is the name of Count John your son." The king
started up from his pillow. "Is it true," he cried, "that John, my very
heart, whom I have loved beyond all my sons, and for whose gain I have
brought upon me all this misery, has forsaken me?" Then he laid himself
down again and turned his face to the wall. "Now you have said enough," he
said. "Let all the rest go as it will, I care no more for myself nor for
the world." From this time he grew delirious. But still in the intervals
of his ravings the great passionate nature, the defiance, the unconquered
will broke out with inextinguishable force. He cursed the day on which he
was born, and called down Heaven's vengeance on his sons. The great king's
pride was bowed in the extremity of his ruin and defeat. "Shame," he
muttered constantly, "shame on a conquered king." Geoffrey watched by him
faithfully, and the dying king's last thoughts turned to him with grateful
love. On the 6th of July, the seventh day of his illness, he was seized
with violent hemorrhage, and the end came almost instantaneously. The next
day his body was borne to Fontevraud, where his sculptured tomb still
stands. To the astonished onlookers at the great tragedy, the grave in a
convent church, separated from the tombs of his Angevin forefathers and of
his Norman ancestors, far from his English kingdom, seemed part of the
strange disasters foretold by Merlin and inspired messengers. But no
ruler of his age had raised for himself so great a monument as Henry.
Amid the ruin that overwhelmed his imperial schemes, his realm of
England stood as the true and lasting memorial of his genius. Englishmen
then, as Englishmen now, taught by the "remembrance of his good times,"
recognized him as one of the foremost on the roll of those who have been
the makers of England's greatness.

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